All too soon the weekend had ended and the ardours of the work week were once more upon Ponyville. Rest and recuperation had seemed to be the watchword for almost all the attendees of the party upon leaving the boutique – the remainder of the Sunday afternoon flew by in the bright and harsh light of sobriety. In the skies above the town Rainbow Dash had surpassed herself by proceeding to sleep in longer bursts than any pony thought imaginable, only breaking from her slumber to hastily retrieve snacks from Sugar Cube Corner before darting off to her cloud home once more. At the market the hungover figure of Bon Bon desperately attempted to make up for lost time with the reluctant assistance of her marefriend, both buzzing around in an attempt to woo the consumers into purchasing some of her delicious confectionary.
It was in this unpleasant spotlight that Rarity and Applejack separately had to address the topic of how they would broach the subject of their new courtship with the four ponies whose opinions and approval they desperately required. Undoubtedly Rarity had the easier task of the two. As per Applejack's suggestion she would have to approach Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy and gauge their reactions with subtle prodding and careful questioning. It was without question that both ponies had some inkling as to the situation following the events of the previous 24 hours. When it came to Pinkie, it was most certainly more than that. Nevertheless it was a task that had to be dealt with in the most delicate manner possible – a prospect which troubled Rarity slightly as she attempted to occupy herself with a spot of cleaning.
For Applejack, the duty ahead was an infinitely tougher one. So far as she could tell neither Twilight Sparkle nor Rainbow Dash were any the wiser as to the relationship between two of their closest friends. Not to mention the fact that neither party was particularly shy when it came to speaking their mind. With Twilight such honesty was a result of her somewhat socially awkward nature – and the revelation to come was certainly one that could force her mouth to move faster than her mind could process such 'unusual' news. Rainbow Dash's brutal honesty was infamous, which could create a somewhat volatile situation when coupled with the matter at hand. Applejack was all too aware of how sensitive the subject of sexuality could be with Dash after hearing of incidents of bullying in her younger days in regards to her supposed status as a 'filly-fooler' (she shuddered at the term, fearing a similar fate very near future). On one occasion AJ and the pony she considered her best friend near came to blows with two muscle-bound pegasi in Cloudsdale following such jibes.
'She's your best friend, she'll understand,' came the voice in Applejack's mind as she absent-mindedly picked at the slice of pie she had retrieved from the kitchen on arriving home.
Another voice responded, 'But ya know how touchy she gets when that kinda stuff comes up!'
'For once it ain't about her though. For once nopony ain't querying her on what she likes.'
'But what if the reason she acts so defensive is because she can't stand ponies like that?'
'Ya'll just bein' stupid now.'
'Am I really? It almost makes sense...'
The sweet dessert she was eating – and the hard cider she washed it down with – did little to distract her from the war inside her head. She gazed out the window into the distance hoping to stir any other thoughts. The first of Luna's stars were cropping up in the skies above Ponyville as the bright blue of day turned ever more rapidly to orange and magenta, with the navy of night lurking just beyond the horizon. In the silhouetted rows of houses and shops AJ swore she could make out the characteristic shape of the Carousel Boutique. She pondered how Rarity intended to deal with the situation, whether she would be as conflicted about revealing all as she herself was. Applejack's mind was suddenly filled with images of her mare tossing and turning in her bed agonising over what to do, whether it'd be worth it at all in the end, if she actually cared enough about AJ to actually go through with such things, if she really loved her...
'Snap outta it!' her mind cried out, breaking the potentially heart-stopping train of thought. The voice was right. AJ couldn't start to doubt what she'd grown certain of. Even if it had only been less than a day since the revelations she was as sure about her feelings and aspirations for a future with the fashionista as she was sure of her name. The time she'd spent falling for her and the manner in which Rarity had reacted to everything made certain of that.
'Even so, talkin' to her some more couldn't hurt.'
On considering that idea for the briefest of instants Applejack wolfed down the remainder of her meal and galloped through the house, past the den where Granny Smith sat buried in one of her trashy romance novels and where Applebloom sat drawing some fantastical blueprint for the Cutie Mark Crusaders' treehouse.
“And where are ya goin' at this hour young lady?” the grizzled old voice called from the chair in the corner as Applejack raced past.
“Jus' headin' out fer a while. Not sure when ah'll be back, but ah'll be at the orchard early as always.”
With that Applejack was out the door and away towards Ponyville, stirring the suspicions of the Apple matriarch as she continued to leaf through her book.
The streets of Ponyville were near deserted. A few stragglers from the market meandered through the town staring in closed shop windows. Occasionally a cab or cargo carriage would trundle along headed for the railway station. Ordinarily on one of AJ's walks she'd follow the same path and proceed to prop up the bar at her watering hole. Not that evening though – only the presence of her paramour could calm her jangled nerves in the way alcohol usually did.
Nerves that weren't helped by a small soft object bouncing off her back causing Applejack to leap off the ground in surprise .
“Sorry 'bout that AJ!”
Applejack looked up to see Rainbow Dash hovering over the edge of a cloud waving apologetically.
“What in tarnation was that fer?”
Rainbow Dash floated down from her perch, “It was for nothing. I just dropped a cupcake,” she said bending down before presenting the offending sweet to Applejack.
“Ah, shucks. Sorry for snappin' at ya Dash. Didn't know it was an accident.”
“It's cool,” she stated bluntly before stuffing the cupcake in her mouth to Applejack's mild disgust, “What're you doing out here at this time for anyway?”
“Could ask you the same question. Or does that cupcake tell me all ah need ta know?”
Applejack's desperate attempt to deflect the interrogation seemed to have worked (to her internal relief) as Rainbow Dash's cheeks grew a shade of puce. A minor miracle given how difficult it was to embarrass the weather pony.
“Well... not exactly... ya see... ah, hay...”
“Relax Rainbow, ah'm jus' teasin,” AJ responded with a low chuckle, “Sure ya visit to our ol' friend was merely business.”
“Yeah, sure it was,” said Rainbow Dash with typical coolness, though the still-blushing cheeks betrayed her supposedly recovered composure. In the brief silence that followed, a brainwave struck Applejack.
“Besides, ah reckon ya'll ain't into Pinkie like that.”
Rainbow Dash's face was etched with an expression somewhere between bewilderment and wariness, “Whatcha mean?”
“Well ah'm sure ya ain't into mares at all. Ya remember that night in The Ol' Rainbow Factory up in Cloudsdale? With those colts callin' ya all the names under the sun?” Applejack queried, her voice tinged with a hint of cunning that she hoped Rainbow wouldn't notice.
Dash scoffed, “With Dumb-Bell? That jack-flank deserves a good hiding anyhow.”
AJ laughed along, “Ain't arguin' with that. So you might be into gals after all?”
“Meh. I've been known to dabble,” Rainbow Dash sighed happily. Few ponies in the town knew which gender 'floated her boat' as it were. Dash wasn't particularly bothered by the fact that she had just let her best friend know for certain yet one thing puzzled her, “Why all the questions about my preferences Jacks?”
“Oh, no reason at all! Jus' the whole Pinkie situation from last night.”
Rainbow's eyes narrowed, “You're a terrible liar Applejack. Spill it!”
'Confound my damn honesty!' Applejack's mind cried out. She sighed in an effort to steel herself for what was bound to come next.
“It's because ah'm certain that... ah... kinda... swing that way too.”
Dash was taken aback for the briefest of moments at this most out-of-the-blue revelation, “Wow. I mean, nice one AJ. Musta taken stones to admit to that.”
“So ya ain't mad? Or disapprovin'?”
“I'd be a hypocrite like no other and a flank-hole of a friend if I was,” she said pulling Applejack into a short playful hug, “Besides, it's not like anypony worth their salt would give a damn.”
“How'd ya reckon Dash?”
RD laughed with a tinge of exasperation, “It ain't the dark old days! Most ponies accept such a lifestyle or even embrace it. Don't ya listen to the gossip?”
Applejack was all ears as she and Rainbow Dash plodded slowly in the direction of her destination. Apparently more ponies than she'd ever considered to be lovers of mares did indeed fall for those of her gender. Photo Finish, Sapphire Shores, Mayor Mare, Junebug, at least two of the flower sisters, the list seemed extensive. With every name Applejack's fear that her news would be met with shocked gasps and pitchforks disappeared even more.
“So am I the first pony who knows?” asked Dash, dragging AJ from her preoccupation. Applejack shuffled on the spot. Sure, she was fine with Rainbow Dash knowing about her leanings, but would Rarity appreciate her revealing all on her behalf? Granted it'd become common knowledge soon enough, but the fact still failed to quell her apprehension.
“Well, not exactly.”
Rainbow Dash's face turned from shocked disappointment at the fact that she hadn't been the first to know this information to stunned delight at the implications of Applejack's words.
“Oh! So I wasn't the only one who got some action last night! Tell me, did Drunken Twi show you a world of Sapphic sensations?”
“What? No!” Applejack responded with mild vexation and a hint of revolt.
Rainbow Dash held her hooves up apologetically, “Hey, no need to be grossed out. For an egghead she sure knows her way around a pony,” the last sentence causing her to drift off slightly and lick her lips.
“Be that as it may, it weren't Twi,” said Applejack with acute discomfort as she attempted to banish the mental image of the pegasus and unicorn's possible past trysts to the furnace where all unpleasant thoughts met their demise.
“I see,” said Dash, the cogs turning in her head, “Well it wasn't Twilight, and it couldn't have been Pinkie Pie or me – which is your loss for both by the way. And it damn certain wasn't Flutters given how she's tucking into another variety of Apple...”
Rainbow Dash stopped in her tracks as the realisation hit her. Applejack turned to see her mouthing the name at her. 'Rarity?!' Applejack nodded solemnly as Dash struggled to comprehend the bombshell just dropped on her.
“Well slap my flank and call me a Shadowbolt! I never thought she had it in her!”
A silence descended over the pair, only broken by a nervous cough from the cowpony.
“I dunno what to say... Congrats I guess?” Dash stammered.
“Well, are you guys, like, together now?” asked RD, retreating somewhat. Applejack eagerly nodded, “Then congrats AJ! Looks like you got yourself a good one. And a hottie too.”
Applejack cuffed Rainbow playfully on the shoulder, “So ya'll are fine with it?”
“Course I am! You two are some of my best friends! And it beats either of you getting with some sleazeball stallion only out for himself.”
Rainbow found herself tightly hugged by her orange comrade. “Thanks Dash. It means the world to us. Ah gotta go tell her.”
“You bet AJ. And just because she's the Element of Generosity, doesn't mean you can be a selfish lover.”
Applejack blew a raspberry as she cantered off into the distance. After a moment or two smiling and taking in the wonderous news Rainbow Dash took off, only to stop abruptly in mid-air and head off in the opposite direction towards a certain bakery.
Rarity was busying herself in the kitchen of her home making a pot of tea. As soon as Sweetie Belle had departed for home with her parents she slumped down on the sofa ready to embrace the reality that she was once again blissfully alone. However the state of happiness at her solitude had subsided rapidly at the myriad of thoughts in regards to her new relationship and the perils of telling her friends of the situation. Ever since that point the prospect of relaxation had exited her mind as she buzzed around cleaning, putting half-cocked designs to paper, organising her collections of fabric and jewels. She'd even taken a trip to Sugar Cube Corner to obtain some comfort food. Anything to distract her from dealing with the beehive of insecurity in her brain.
She stared out the kitchen window as the kettle on the hob boiled away – trying to catch a glimpse of light from Sweet Apple Acres in the darkening night to no avail – when she was startled by a knock at the door. Puzzled as to who or what could be wishing her presence at that hour (on a Sunday no less) she raced through the house-cum-shop. Upon opening the door, her heart hammered at the sight of the pony she loved standing in front of her.
“Applejack! To what do I owe the pleasure?” Rarity chimed, unable to disguise her unabashed glee.
“Ah was jus' in the neighbourhood and reckoned I'd drop by. See how ya are.”
Rarity's eyes narrowed jocularly “You're a terrible liar Applejack,” Applejack blushed slightly as the unicorn bit back a giggle.
“Alright. Ah jus' missed ya is all. Plus ah been fretting somethin' terrible about tellin' everypony about us.”
“I'd be lying if I said that it didn't worry me, my darling,” Rarity said as she led Applejack into her abode, “But on my visit to the patisserie earlier our pink partisan expressed her delight and approval at our budding courtship and my worries seemed to subside somewhat!”
AJ was taken aback, but this couldn't affect her delight at the fact that Pinkie Pie was okay with the new reality, “Ah'm surprised, Rare! It just so happens ah ran into a certain Miss Rainbow Dash, and she ain't got no problems either.”
Rarity could contain her delight no longer and leapt towards her beloved, giggling like a schoolfilly, before planting a kiss on her unsuspecting lips.
“This is marvellous! Two down, two to go. And after dealing with Rainbow Dash the remainder should be a cakewalk.”
“Ah'll say,” Applejack replied softly as she nuzzled into Rarity, giving her cheek a peck. They could have stood there for an eternity if it weren't for the high-pitched whistle of a kettle coming from the kitchen.
Rarity tittered, “Would you like to stay for tea and some of Pinkie's delightful crème brûlée my dear Sugarcube?”
“There's nothin' ah want more right now Marshmallow.” Applejack replied, linking forelegs with her sweetheart and marching happily towards the kitchen. Neither pony could suppress the grins with which the afternoon and evening's events had brought to them. Barring a catastrophe of nightmarish proportions, they as a couple were unstoppable.