Assumptions III: Listen to My Words
Princess Celestia hadn’t raised the sun yet, but the smallish beige colt was already up. Even though he liked to sleep in as much as the next pony, he jut couldn’t get enough sleep last night. First, he had to take care of the drugged filly that was now sleeping in his room. And just as he was about to go to sleep himself, he realized he had left Rainbow Dash’s saddlebag at the bar. Thankfully, he had arrived just in time to meet the owner as he was closing down, so at least that disaster was averted. After arriving home for the second time that night, he lay down on the couch, only to remember how horribly uncomfortable it actually was. Of course, nopony ever told him, because nopony ever stayed over.
Wiping the sleep from his eyes and letting out a silent, but long yawn, Caramel dragged himself to the kitchen and put on his old green apron. Making food was one of his few talents, and a chief reason why he worked at The Fudge Factory, the town’s only sweet shop. They made all manner of sweet things, the exception being anything baked, that particular niche being monopolized by The Sugar Cube Corner. Putting the kettle on, he turned around. Quietly he trotted to the door leading to his room. Slowly, he opened the door and peeked inside. His guest lay there, limbs outstretched, her messy mane falling over her eyes, her mouth open. She looked like a peaceful overgrown foal. Then she let out a terrible snore. Not so cute after all, Caramel thought. He closed the door again and tiptoed to the stove.
The sweet smell of waffles, caramel and apples, coupled with the faint yellow glow of an autumn sunrise tickled Rainbow Dash’s senses, waking the cyan pegasus from her artificially induced slumber. For a moment, she kept her eyes closed, trying to recollect last night’s events. Her assignment for the Weather patrol. Data collection. An evening at the bar. That strange colt that could have been mistaken for a filly. Two out of town stallions trying to take advantage of him. She chased them off, of course. She smiled silently as the last thought crossed her mind. And then that last glass of apple cider. Caramel’s shocked face. After that, nothing but darkness.
Quickly, and without any further thought, her eyes flew open and she darted upwards, only to be met by Caramel’s solidly constructed ceiling. With a loud “THUD” she came crashing down onto the bed. Getting her bearings, she noticed she was in a small bedroom, lying belly-up on a single bed. Opposite her a low reading table, a small chair and one tall bookshelf behind them. Suddenly, giving a slight creak the door began to open. Dash leaped to freedom, only to dive in, hooves first, into a slender tan pony, incidentally the last pony she remembered from last night. As she tackled him, she felt a yank on her left wing. The duo did a couple of somersaults, courtesy of the mare’s momentum. When their spectacular tumble came to its end Rainbow Dash found herself leaning over Caramel, her hooves pressing onto his chest, leaning to the left as her wing was still tangled in his apron.
“Ouch, get off,” the colt cried, and struggled to get free.
Trying to release himself, he managed to disrupt Dash’s balance, who fell flat on him. For a second their eyes met, the dark magenta staring into the sky blue. After a second that seemed like eternity, Rainbow Dash averted her gaze. This was the second time she had bumped into Caramel. Clearly, she was unlucky. Caramel just kept on staring. He had never been this near a mare, and although Rainbow Dash was not his type, he could feel his cheeks burning up. The cyan filly noticed and once more she struggled to free herself. After a few tugs, she managed to break free from the apron’s bond and sat down next to Caramel, in pain and exhausted and breathing heavily, even though she had just awakened.
“How did I get here? What did you do to me?” Rainbow Dash asked, her voice calm, but firm.
Caramel, upon hearing the accusation in her voice gave a little sigh, and explained, as precisely as he could. “Those stallions from last night spiked the cider. It was meant for me, but you chased them away before they forced me to drink it. It pretty much knocked you out right there and then. I carried you over to Nurse Redheart. She gave you a quick inspection, but said you’d be fine and just needed a good night’s sleep. I have no idea where you live, and even if I did I couldn’t get you there. So I returned for your stuff and brought you here. You slept in my room the whole time; I slept on the couch.”
The blue mare’s suspicions were washing away. Perhaps Caramel isn't as useless as everypony always says. She looked up at Caramel's defiant expression. Nothing like the whimpering loser he was during last year's winter Wrap Up. Lost in the thought, her stomach gave a loud rumble.
“I made breakfast. Would you like to come into the kitchen” her host encouraged her, a small smile on his face.
Rainbow Dash quickly composed herself. “It’s not like I’m hungry or anything, but since you’ve already made breakfast, I might as well,” she answered in her usual cocky tone as she hurried over the threshold. Her head held high, she nearly bumped into the small table, already set for two.
“I realize now that I should have thanked you properly for helping me to get rid of those dirt-bags, I couldn’t have done it myself.”
“Don’t menphon if,” the colourful mare replied, already seated and on her second waffle. She stopped for a second. “If those guys were really bothering you, I guess it doesn’t matter if you’re a colt or a filly, No means no. Am I right?”
“Yes. If you hadn’t been there, they’d have made me drink that cider, and Celestia knows what would have happened afterwards. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have enjoyed it. So don’t worry, you didn’t ruin my night. You can keep your good karma.”
“Glad to hear it. Might need it someday.” Dash replied before moving onto the bowl of caramel oats. Hopefully, my run-ins with Caramel will end soon, she thought. It was as if his bad luck is contagious. “So you actually don’t like stallions?” She decided to point out the elephant in the room.
Caramel face turned a deep shade of crimson. It was a question he did not expect. “N-no... I mean, it’s not that I hate colts, or anything. I just don’t like-like them, you know.” He looked at his guest pleadingly, hoping he had made himself clear.
“I know exactly what you mean,” Dash said. “I mean..,” she quickly added when she saw the confused expression on Caramel’s face “some ponies, well, actually a lot of ponies cannot handle an awesome athlete with a rainbow mane such as myself not being a filly-fooler. But I really do fancy colts. Well, some colts…” her eyes ran up and down the beige pony. “No offence, but you gotta be fit and cool…”
“To be honest you’re not my type either, I would say I prefer my mares a bit more down to earth and a bit more…” he was going to say curvy, but that might be pushing his tact. After all, Rainbow Dash hung around Sweet Apple Acres all the time, and she would probably tell Applejack if he was being ungentlecoltly. His thought were once again flooded with the orange farmer pony, but now, in the presence of the pegasus sitting opposite him, he could not help but compare the two. In his mind, Applejack was perfection. Strong, determined, well-proportioned, modest. The filly opposite him was smaller, more delicate looking, built for speed. But she was loud, brazen and somewhat inconsiderate. But he nevertheless did enjoy her company right now. On some level, he could relate to her, and she to him. And her messy multi-coloured mane was falling straight down into her radiant eyes. He really liked her mane…
“Well then, I best get going. Got lots of important weather and flying stuff to do,” Rainbow said as she wiped her mouth with her hoof and smacked her lips. She looked up at Caramel who was staring at her blankly. “Hello! Equestria to Caramel? I swear, you’re such an airhead… Are you even listening? Could you get my bags for me?”
“Wait… what?,” he said as his thoughts returned to the conversation at hand. “I mean, yeah, the bags are just here”, he pointed to the corner of the small living space. He reached out his hoof to grab it and handed it over to the filly.
Rainbow Dash struggled for a while putting on the saddlebags. Caramel just looked bemused as he watched the determined filly struggle with the simple task. “Maybe I can help?”
“No! I almost got it!”
“Maybe if you spread your wings a little bit...?.” Caramel suggested.
“OH HAY NO!” the filly shouted. She was not going to give him the satisfaction of seeing her in a vulnerable position. Finally, she just made sure that the bags were fully closed and took the strap into her mouth. She muttered a muffled goodbye and flew away.
Caramel ran to his window and saw a blurry rainbow trail across the sky. He placed his hooves on his bruised chest. The two small hoofed shaped bruises had by now turned a violent shade of purple. As he inspected them carefully, he noted their small size, but remembered the considerable amount of momentum and force to used deliver that punch. His eyes followed the faint rainbow trail again. It couldn’t have been, he thought, and started preparing for work.
Applejack had been up ever since the first rays of sun peered over the hills of Sweet Apple Acres. She had already milked the cows, and gave them their morning portion of hay, now that the grass had effectively stopped growing. She also readied all the necessary equipment that was needed for the day’s work of clearing the fallen leaves in their orchard. When she came in, a smell of apple pancakes already wafted through the small farmhouse.
For a moment she worried that Apple Bloom had again decided to go for a cooking cutie mark, but the smell was pleasantly sweet and no smoke was emitting from the kitchen. When she entered, she saw Big Macintosh finishing the last batch of pancakes. Pleasantly surprised, even if a bit puzzled, she sat down to eat.
“Thanks, big brother. But ya know Ah’m on breakfast duty this week” she grinned, and sat down.
“Eeyup, is no trouble at all” the large stallion replied. “Actually, AJ, there’s something we need ta talk about.”
Applejack’s smile froze. It was unusual for her brother to want to talk about anything. What did he want to talk about anyway? Work was finally on schedule, the finances were all in order as far as she knew. Apple Bloom was doing quite well at school, despite her lack of Cutie Mark and Granny Smith was still going strong. As far as she was concerned, there was no reason for worry.
“An what might be the problem?,” Applejack asked.
“Do you ever think about the future, sis? One day, when Apple Bloom grows up, and when Granny Smith won’t be with us no more? What will happen ta us? Will we just stay running this farm as always? Will anything change for you or me?”
“Hold yer horses! Don’t you go speaking none of that? Y’all know full well that Granny Smith is tough as a hoof. An’ AppleBloom would never jus’ take off and go. An why would you not want to stay on the farm? Is our parent’s legacy not good enough for ya?”
“It’s just that I don’t see you or me going anywhere in our lives at this moment. Don’t you wanna have somepony ta call yer own?”
Applejack was completely surprised by his last question. “Ah really don’t know what ya mean? Ah’m perfectly happy with mahself. Ah have all I need right here. Ah never…” Applejack stuttered and tears came running to her eyes. “Well, the truth of the matter is that Ah never…,” she continued, her sobbing becoming audible. Why is this so difficult to say? she thought. Surely, there was nothing wrong with her lack of interest in relationships? “Ah… never… Ah’ll never… get anything done if we just keep on talkin’” she said and quickly trotted out of the kitchen, embarrassed at her display.
Big Macintosh was stayed seated, baffled. After a few seconds, his bewildered expression went back his usual mellow self. He closed his eyes as Applejack’s words began making sense to him. He smiled gently, muttered his usual “Eeyup” and began preparing lunch for his sister.
As the clock chimed twelve, Pinkie Pie left her position behind the counter of the Sugar Cube Corner. Instead of her usual bright pink perm, she sported straight, gray-pink mane, her eyes looking down at the floor. Muttering a gloomy goodbye to the Cakes, she dragged het hooves across the town, wandering around aimlessly. Lost in her thoughts, she somehow managed to walk straight into a large, round building in the middle of the town.
“Welcome to Carousel Boutique, where each dress is unique, chique and magnifi… Oh, good afternoon, Pinkie. Why so glum on this glorious autumn day?” The dressmaker asked batting her eyelashes.
“Oh, hi Rarity. It’s nothing.” The pink filly sighed.
“Dahling, don’t be ridiculous. I know a sad Pinkie when I see one. Now, there must be something that’s keeping you down,” Rarity insisted. “Surely you can tell your best friend?” She pouted and paused for a dramatic effect.
“But you must promise not to tell”
“But of course. A true lady never reveals a secret. Well?”
“Pinkie Pie swear?”
Rarity sighed. Not this again, she thought as she remembered the childish routine her party friends always repeated when making a promise. Such behaviour is not appropriate for a grown mare, much less a lady. But as she once again caught sight of the depressed pony, all her inhibitions were gone. “All right Pinkie Pie. Since it’s you. Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!” she recited while flailing her hooves all around her wildly. “Was that all right?”
“Well, you see... uhm. I just really want to be more than friends with Dashie, She’s my best friend... and, and she’s the only one of my friends who I thought would be willing to help me experiment in that area, since I was sure she would be into it. But I don’t know now... but... I don’t think she’s getting my hints”
Rarity’s jaw dropped. After a few seconds, she realized how unattractive she must look with her gaping mouth and closed it again.
“Pinkie Pie, you want to ehm… ‘experiment’… with Rainbow Dash? I... ehm, I never knew you liked fillies?”
“Well, I think I like everypony. But I already went out with a colt or two before, and I really wanted to try the same thing with fillies, since I read about it in Cosmoponitan magazine you gave me.”
“And are you sure that Rainbow Dash feels the same way about fillies?”
“Well, of course. It’s so obvious. I mean… hello? Rainbow mane? Athletic? Not a single curve on her body?” Pinkie Pie was now agitated, and her hair started to curl up at the tips.
“Aren’t you being a bit presumptuous, dear?”
“But she totally fits Cosmoponitan’s seven sign’s your best friend’s a filly-fooler checklist!”
Rarity facehoofed delicately (of course) and replied: “Oh Pinkie Pie. Not everything in that magazine needs to be taken seriously. You can be so naïve sometimes”
“Really?” Her hair collapsing again. “But I just wanted to have some fun with Dashie.”
“Listen to me Pinkie Pie. I’m quite certain that you’ll find a filly one day who’ll want to try new things with you, but I’m fairly positive that Rainbow Dash is not her. In fact, if you were to tell her that the only reason you were interested was because you though she was most likely to acquiesce and not because you genuinely cared for her in that way might make matters worse. She is more fragile than she lets on. In the meantime, please do not beat yourself up about it. You are not the first, nor are you the last pony to misjudge our Rainbow Dash. And don’t keep your sadness bottled up inside, it doesn’t suit you. You know you can come talk to me any time.”
“I… I can…?” the pink filly stuttered as a single tear ran down her cheek.
“Of course, you silly filly,” Rarity said as her delicate white hoof wiped the tear from the pink cheek and she pressed the pink pony to her chest. “As your friend, I’ll always be there for you”
After a few minutes, Pinkie Pie calmed down. With every deep breath she took, her hair gained in volume. She almost looked like her normal self. “Thanks for listening Rarity. I need to go now, my lunch break is over. See you soon.”
As the pink pony bounced off, a brief thought crossed her mind. How did Rarity know that Rainbow Dash wasn’t a filly-fooler. Had she simply guessed? But this idea was soon lost among notions of cupcakes, portals and walls as the pink pony bounced ever more vigorously toward her place of employment.
Behind the closed doors of the boutique, Rarity gave another deep sigh. “Her hair looks better straight, even if it is a bit creepy” she muttered to no-on in particular. Looking at the outstretched fabrics and half-clothed mannequins in front of her, Rarity levitated a measuring tape, a pair of scissors and an entire box of pins, forgetting all about her pink friend's troubles. All right, let's get these finished soon, the spring line needs to be ready by next week.
The lunch back at the farm had been quiet so far. Applejack had been eating her hay sandwich in silence, avoiding Big Macintosh’s gaze. She did not know if her brother had her all figured out already or not. He had always been so quiet on the outside, but very perceptive on the inside.
“How’s the clean-up goin’?” Big Macintosh broke the awkward silence.
“Real good,” said Applejack, her mouth full. She swallowed and then continued: “if we keep up this pace. We’ll be done in three days. Just in time anyways, we’ll be havin’ snowstorms soon.”
“AJ. Please listen ta me,” Big Mac pleaded. “Ah’m sorry about this mornin’, Ah meant no harm. It’s just that I’ve been wantin’ to move on with mah life, an’ I didn’t want it to interfere with yer plans. Yer mah sister an Ah love ya no matter what you do or don’t do in yer life.”
Applejack leapt forward and hugged her big brother, her warm tears falling on Mackintosh’s coat. “You big foal. The only thing that matters ta me is that everypony’s happy.”
“But are you?” Big Macintosh asked.
“You know what, Big Mac. Ah really am. As long as I have mah family and friends. Never felt like ah needed another colt or filly to be my own. Ah guess some ponies find that weird…”she hesitated as she looked at her brother. “But in the unlikely event Ah ever fall fer somepony, y’all be that first ta know. Now who’s this filly y’all so secretive about?”
At this question, Big Macintosh turned redder than his already bright crimson coat. “Now come on AJ. These leaves ain’t gonna clear themselves”
“Hey you big oaf. Come back ‘ere and spill the beans,” Applejack shouted jokingly.
“Ee-nope,” the red giant answered as he headed outside for work, Applejack following in his hoofsteps, teasing him mercilessly about an answer he was not ready to give just yet.