I don't want to be here. I don't deserve to be here.
Twilight Sparkle sat at a table within Sugarcube Corner, surrounded by Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy as they celebrated her imminent date with Big Macintosh. The lavender mare had hoped and prayed that such a thing would have remained a secret, but that hadn't been possible once Apple Bloom had been involved. The filly had told Sweetie Belle, who then told her sister... and the rest was history.
"I'm shocked that Applejack isn't happier for Twilight and her brother. You'd think that this would be good news, but the girl looked extremely agitated instead." Rarity rolled her eyes as she plucked another cookie from the plate sitting in the middle of the table, and Fluttershy tapped her hooves together while Pinkie Pie helped herself to said cookies.
"I dunno... I mean, what if something's bothering her and we just don't know it? You know how she gets when something's on her mind..."
"Or maybe Applejack is being a grumpypants. Ooh, I know! We should bring her some cookies!"
As Rarity, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie continued to talk, Twilight tried to distance herself as much as possible from the conversation. Nearly every line they spoke was about Applejack, and it was a constant reminder as to why she felt as bad as she did - because it was her fault. Asking Big Macintosh on a date had been a total cop-out on her part, and she had gone against Applejack's wishes in the process. All so she could avoid talking with the orange earth pony again.
I can go up against Night Mare Moon and Discord, but I can't even be honest with my closest friend. What does that even say about me?
Somepony feels guilty.
Guilty and remorseful. I shouldn't have just left like that.
But you did. And it's too late to take it back now.
What was I supposed to do, though?! What do I even say?
You speak what's on your mind, and what's on your heart.
"Twilight, dear? Are you feeling alright? You look a little... out of it."
Twilight Sparkle blinked and quickly shook her head as Rarity's question pulled her out of her thoughts. She seized the opportunity in front of herself and feigned illness, anything to get her away from this place and back to the solitude of her library. "No, not really... I think I ate too much. I... appreciate the party, girls, but I'm gonna head home. Thanks, though."
Before they could even bid her farewell, there was a bright flash of light, and the space where Twilight had been standing at was left vacant. The only thing marking her departure was a faint scorch mark upon the floor.
She was gone.
"Ow, ow... okay, stop. Just... stop." Rainbow Dash hopped around briefly, wincing and breathing through gritted teeth as she attempted to walk off her injury. Her and Applejack were sparring, something they had started up in an effort to vent their frustrations in a relatively constructive manner. Though the earth pony normally kept her strength well in-check, she had made no such attempts to hold back. It had resulted in a rather rough kick to the cyan pegasus' ribs, and though it had already begun to bruise, it thankfully hadn't been enough to break bones - pegasi skeletons, given their lighter nature, were also more fragile. "Damn, AJ... I'm gonna feel that one tomorrow. Mind tellin' me why you're being so rough on me?"
Applejack took a quick look at the bruise and sighed, slowly shaking her head as she took a seat upon the grass. "I'm awful sorry, Rainbow. I'm jus'... stressed out right now. Busy thinkin' about somethin'."
"Well, c'mon. Spit it out." The pegasus took a seat beside the earth pony, wincing once more as she sat down. "Oww... remind me to never get on your bad side, Applejack."
"Noted. I ain't gonna talk about it, though. Too personal." The orange mare sighed once more and glanced over at her friend. "I need a favor."
Rainbow Dash grinned and briefly chuckled, though even that was enough to cause further pain and discomfort, and she quickly decided not to ask any further. She had known Applejack long enough to know that the earth pony did not like prying when it wasn't welcome. "You know the rules, AJ - cider for a favor."
"Fine, I'll getcha a bottle of cider. But I really need this favor, an' ya gotta promise me that yer gonna stay as quiet about it as ya can. Got it?"
"Yeah, yeah. So what do ya need?"
Applejack turned to stare the cyan pegasus straight in the eye, and her tone made it clear that she wasn't kidding around. "Go talk ta Soarin'. Tell 'im that I wanna go out on a date with 'im, this Friday."
"Um... wow. You're... you're totally serious about this too, aren't you?" The stern glare and complete silence from the earth pony made that quiet clear, and Rainbow Dash continued. "Alright... I'm gonna have to really pull some strings, but I'll see what I can do. If I can get through to him, I'll have him contact you personally."
"Thanks, Rainbow. Really." Applejack had already stood back up and was preparing to leave - she planned on wandering around for a bit. She needed time to herself to think, to clear her head a bit.
"Hold on, AJ. Before you go, I just gotta ask..." Rainbow Dash's statement had been enough to give the earth pony pause, and Applejack stopped and glanced over her shoulder, listening patiently as the pegasus continued. "You've only talked to the guy... what, once? At the Gala, when you sold him a pie? Why do you wanna go on a date with him so badly?"
"Jus' somethin' I need ta do, Rainbow. Ya know how it goes."
"Yeah... I do. Good luck with everything, AJ. I gotta go nurse this bruise a bit, and then I'll see what I can do for ya." With that, the pegasus took off to return to her home, leaving Applejack to wander around by her lonesome. Rainbow Dash had a good point - why did she want to go on a date with Soarin'? Soarin' was still a fairly attractive stallion, but they had met once, and only briefly. Why ask him out?
The answers she got hadn't been what she had been hoping for. Time and time again, both her mind and her heart told her the same thing. She had done it out of spite, out of petty revenge for Twilight asking her brother out, and she had done it out of jealousy.
The Element of Honesty, so well known for being kind and considerate, had resorted to this - just so she could attempt to get even. The thought of such a thing was enough to give her pause, and Applejack stopped and took a seat upon the grass once more as she stared up towards the sky.
"...what th' hay is wrong with me?"