With the break of dawn the following morning came the possibility of both hope and a positive answer, and though Applejack and Twilight Sparkle were both rather sluggish in getting out of bed, they soon picked up the pace, cleaned themselves up, and headed downstairs for breakfast. Apple Bloom was already seated at the table, and Macintosh stood hunched over the stove, finishing up what would likely be breakfast. Granny Smith remained curiously absent, something all of them had apparently noticed and remained silent about. The members of the Apple family all knew that she never missed breakfast unless it was for a very good reason, and Twilight had the feeling that Granny had a bit of unfinished business with her - as for what that 'business' might be, she was still unsure. Either she still had a bone to pick with the unicorn, or she was going to give both Applejack and Twilight a definitive answer in regards to the future of their relationship. Regardless of the possibilities, the creaking of the wooden stairs made it rather clear that they would soon find out.
Granny Smith slowly made her way down the steps, her hips cracking and popping with every move, and as she took her seat at the table, the elderly mare cast a wary glance at both Applejack and Twilight, and such a look made both mares feel rather uneasy. They found themselves scooting towards one another, both for protection and comfort, and as Macintosh brought several plates over, Granny Smith spoke up. "So."
Applejack narrowed her eyes at her own grandmother, unwilling to suffer a repeat of yesterday. "So."
"Been doin' some thinkin'."
"And?" A plate of food was set down in front of her, and Applejack quickly looked towards her brother. "Thanks, Macintosh."
As a plate of food was also set down in front of Granny Smith, the family elder briefly eyed it before looking across the table once more at her granddaughter. "I underestimated ya - both of ya. Didn't think y'all felt that strongly about one another, an' I definitely didn' plan on someponies in this family doin' what they did."
The orange mare toyed with her food, never breaking her gaze with Granny Smith. "An' that means?"
The rest of the table soon turned to watch Granny Smith as well, and even Macintosh froze in place as he awaited the answer. After glancing around the table for a bit, Granny sighed and hung her head. "...I give up. I won't say 'No' to th' two of ya."
Upon hearing that, Applejack nearly dropped her fork, and she leaned over the table to put herself a bit closer to her grandmother. "...what?"
"I said th' two of ya can stay together. I won't tell th' other elders of th' Apple family about the two of ya." Granny Smith glanced around the table once more, eying each of the figures present, and she huffed. "Besides, it's obvious that I ain't in the majority."
A smile slowly began to creep across both Applejack's and Twilight's faces, and both mares soon pull one another into a hug. The earth pony peeked out from behind the unicorn and looked towards Granny Smith, a large smile upon her face. "Oh, you won't regret this, Gr-"
The smile quickly vanished from both Applejack's and Twilight's faces, and as they pulled away from one another, Applejack narrowed her eyes at Granny Smith once more. "...But what?"
"If yer gonna stay together with her, yer not gonna do it under this roof."
"...Granny, what are you sayin'?"
"I'm sayin' I want you gone, Applejack. Out. I don' wanna see you unless I gotta."
Applejack stared incredulously at her grandmother, and she even managed to nervously laugh. "Yer... yer kickin' me out?"
"Yep." Granny Smith nodded and scowled in return, staring Applejack down. "You stay with Twilight Sparkle, and I won't tell th' rest of th' family ta disown ya - but ya won't be livin' here anymore. I'll still let ya work th' fields, but you sure as hell won't be stayin' here."
"Or, you break things off with her, an' you can keep livin' here on Sweet Apple Acres. Won't say nothin' ta th' family, so long as you stop datin' her. Yer choice."
Applejack simply stared at Granny Smith, her mouth agape, and the rest of the table had gone silent as well. Apple Bloom simply stared at her grandmother, utterly horrified, and Macintosh had a frown upon his face. Twilight soon leaned over towards Applejack, her ears flattened as she spoke to the earth pony. "Applejack, if... you want to break things off with me, I... I understand. I know how important family and Sweet Apple Acres are to you."
For a few minutes, Applejack lowered her head and simply stared at her plate of food, as she mulled over the decision. It certainly wasn't one to take lightly, and nopony at the table even bothered to touch their food during the silence. After what seemed like a lifetime, the earth pony placed two hooves upon the table and looked up towards her grandmother, her voice low as she made her reply clear. "I'll go pack mah bags, then."
Granny Smith's own expression had quickly shifted from one of determination to one of shock, and the elderly mare blinked and slowly shook her head. "Yer... yer pickin' her?"
"If yer so hellbent on ruinin' mah life, it's probably best if I left you out of it." Applejack hopped off her chair and began to make her way towards the stairs, stopping only to turn and face Granny Smith one last time. The earth pony's expression had undergone a noticeable change, and the orange mare now stared back at her own grandmother with a look of stern determination. "You wanna kick me out just 'cause of who I love? Fine. Consider yourself down a granddaughter, 'Granny'."
As Applejack made her way up the stairs, Macintosh approached Granny Smith, a look of horror upon his face. "Granny... what have you done?"
The elderly mare slowly shook her head in return. "I... I didn' think she would..."
Twilight quickly hopped out of her own chair and ran up the stairs after Applejack, leaving the Apple family to deal with the fallout of Granny Smith's decision. After making her way to the second floor, the unicorn stepped down the hall and nudged open the door to Applejack's room, only to find the orange mare sitting upon the floor and staring at it, a half-filled suitcase beside her. Her hairbands had already been torn out, and her mane currently hung about her head in curtains, obscuring much of her face. Twilight took a few cautious steps towards the earth pony, not wanting to catch her off-guard. "...Applejack?"
The response she heard back was in clear opposition to the determined voice she had heard just moments ago - Applejack's confidence was completely gone, it would seem, and she barely glanced over her shoulder before speaking in a voice just barely above that of a hushed whisper. "...hey Twi."
"Applejack, you... you didn't really mean what you said back there, did you? I mean, are you even thinking any of this through?"
Applejack quickly looked up towards her own girlfriend, her own voice surging forth. It wasn't one of confidence, but rather, of anger. "You don't understand, Twilight! You don't know what she's put me through, what she's put all of us through! Ever since the day Pop dropped the three of us off here at th' farm, Granny's basically been runnin' mah life. Tellin' me what ta do, how ta do it. She's been groomin' me ta run th' farm, and any time I said or did somethin' she wasn't happy with, she disciplined me. I'm... I'm tired of it, Twi. I'm so tired... I'm tired of bein' her. I just wanna be me, an' I can really only do that with you. An'... if she doesn't want me around because of that, fine. I'm done, Twilight. I'm done livin' her life, an' ready ta live mine."
"You're... serious, then."
"Yep." The earth pony held her signature stetson within her hooves, then placed it within the suitcase. "Lemme finish packing, then I'll be ready ta go. Don't have much left."
"Right." Twilight took a seat upon the floor, remaining silent as she watched her girlfriend pack the rest of her things. Applejack traveled light, it would seem - all the earth pony had really packed had been some pictures, her hat, and some clothing, as well as a few other keepsakes. With a sigh, the unicorn lowered her head slightly, her ears flattened. "I'm sorry it came to this, AJ."
"I'm not. If Granny thinks she's gonna get in mah way an' keep me from followin' mah dreams, she's got another thing comin'. And accusin' you of castin' spells on me, an' usin' mah own parents against me like that? She jus' put herself firmly on mah shit list."
Twilight Sparkle winced slightly upon hearing Applejack curse, and she stood up from her spot on the floor. "Applejack, don't you think that's a little... harsh? I mean... she's family."
"Not anymore, she ain't. It was sorta bound ta happen eventually, given how often she tried ta boss me around." As the earth pony shut her suitcase, her expression softened and she let out a sigh. "...just wish it hadn't happened like this."
"I'll be honest, Applejack. You never really struck me as the sort that wanted to get out and do things on her own, and I definitely didn't know things were like... well, this."
Applejack smiled faintly and slowly shook her head. "Granny's sweet an' all - she normally is, at least - but she can also be sorta bossy at times. You girls definitely don't see that side of her. An'... when I went ta Manehattan? I sorta liked th' freedom. Not th' place, 'cause of how noisy an' crowded an'-"
"...uptight it was?"
"Especially that. I still needed greenery. I needed th' earth, an' I needed ta be able ta work with mah bare hooves. Couldn't do that in Manehattan, but I could do it here." The orange mare huffed and picked up her suitcase, turning to look towards Twilight. "Jus'... didn't like workin' under Granny is all. I wanna do things on mah own terms."
Twilight smiled and took a step towards the earth pony, giving her an affectionate nuzzle. "You wanted an orchard of your own, you mean."
"Exactly. Fer now, though..." Applejack returned the nuzzle with one of her own, stood up from her spot on the floor, then glanced around. As she continued to look around, a frown steadily spread across her face, and the orange mare let out another sigh. "...I'm gonna miss this room. Slept in it ever since I was a filly, an' now... I'm leavin'. And I dunno if I'll ever be back."
"I'll do my best to make the library feel like home for you, sugarcube."
Hearing herself called by that nickname caused Applejack to brighten up a bit, and the earth pony nodded. "I know ya will, darlin'."
The unicorn took a few steps towards the door, pushing the door open for Applejack and glancing back towards her. "You ready to go, AJ? I mean, take as much time as you want. This is... was home, after all."
"Let's... just go."
Both mares made their way out of the bedroom, Applejack's suitcase in tow, and as the earth pony pulled the door closed, she briefly placed her hoof upon it before turning and walking away.
"...I need some distance from this place anyways, Twi."
Applejack's departure from Sweet Apple Acres hadn't exactly gone without a hitch. Both Macintosh and Apple Bloom had begged their sister to stay, to which Applejack hesitantly refused. This latest altercation had been the breaking point, it would seem, and she simply had to leave. Macintosh understood, of course, but things were much more difficult for the younger Apple Bloom. It took several explanations and reassurances that she would still be there to work the fields before the filly managed to calm down, and throughout all this, Granny Smith remained entirely absent. The elderly mare had evidently locked herself in her room, refused to come out, and by the time she eventually did, it was too late. Applejack had already left.
The next few days would soon prove to be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for both Twilight and Applejack. Though the earth pony had initially been rather determined and confident in regards to leaving Sweet Apple Acres, it soon became evident that she was anything but - her own mood steadily declined, and Twilight Sparkle's own disposition wasn't too far behind. By the second day, Applejack began to sleep in much later than she normally did, something that struck Twilight as being extremely odd. Applejack was a farmer, after all, and had woken up at the crack of dawn her entire life. By the third, her own actions had become rather sluggish and apathetic. She had been and still was in peak physical condition, yet she could hardly muster the energy to do much at all. Applejack had been one of the frontrunners in the Running of the Leaves, and for her to be this tired all the time simply wasn't normal at all. By the fourth, the earth pony no longer left the library at all, and instead spent most of her waking hours staring out the windows. She said and did little, even around Twilight Sparkle, and despite being known for having a bit of an appetite, she hardly touched any food offered to her.
After everything that had happened, it seemed Applejack had ceased to be... Applejack. She was no longer herself, and indeed, Twilight knew fully well that something was amiss. This had been one of her best friends, after all, and she was now her girlfriend as well. The unicorn did everything she could think of in an effort to cheer up the earth pony, but nothing seemed to really ever work, and even if it did, it was often only temporary. She tried books, art, music, talking, playing, and too many other things for her to even keep track of. Twilight had run out of options, and she did the only other thing she could think of: She turned to her friends.
Seated around a table within Sugarcube Corner were Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash - Rarity had been called away to Canterlot on business, and had been unable to attend their little meeting. Twilight sat slumped over the table, an iced tea not far from her, and the unicorn let out a groan. "I just... I don't know. I hate seeing her like this, and I've tried everything I can think of to cheer her up, and... none of it has worked at all. Any ideas?"
Pinkie flopped over onto the table as well, staring at Twilight. "A party, maybe? I mean... those always cheer me up."
"I'd be willing to give it a try, but... this wasn't something petty that put her in this mood. She got kicked out by her own grandmother, simply because we're dating. I... don't think a party is gonna help, Pinkie."
The pink earth pony sighed and nodded, her cheek rubbing against the table. "It was worth a try. What about you, Flutters?"
Fluttershy frowned and tapped two of her hooves together. "I don't know... I mean, none of us have ever gone through something this serious, so everything we've tried before probably won't work. I'd tell you to maybe spend time with her, but... you've been trying that, and that hasn't worked either."
"No, it hasn't." Twilight sat up and peered across the table at the last of her friends, an eyebrow raised. "You've been awfully quiet, Rainbow Dash. It's not like you."
The pegasus' response was simple enough. "I've been thinking."
"Well." Rainbow Dash fidgeted in her seat, gave her wings a quick stretch, then leaned against the table. "I think I know what's wrong with her. We sparred just the other night, and she was just... out of it the whole time. Kept missing easy kicks, and kept getting hit when she normally would've dodged. When we took our break, I just sorta... watched her. Listened to her."
Twilight idly rubbed at her eyes with her forelegs, then stared at Rainbow Dash once more. "You said you think you know what's wrong with her, so... out with it."
"It's easy, Twilight. Given how close the two of you already are, I'm surprised you didn't guess at it yourself - she's homesick. The way she talks, the way she moves... it's clear she's depressed. But what gives it away are the eyes."
"How do you figure?"
"Because I know that look. I mean, you know how us pegasi are, right? We love being able to fly and all, and being grounded for any real length of time is... well, hard. Cloudsdale isn't our home, and neither is Ponyville, or the rest of Equestria. The sky is. If a pegasus can't fly, whether from bad weather or just an injury... we start to miss it. We want it back, and until we can get it, we get kinda... mopey."
The unicorn frowned and placed a hoof to her chin as she mulled it over. "...which explains why you always seem to be depressed every time you get grounded after an injury."
"Exactly. We don't get depressed because we're stuck in a hospital or whatever. We get depressed because we can't fly. We can't go home. The entire time I hung around AJ the other day, she always seemed kinda... distant. Like she was looking somewhere else. Kept looking... northeast, I think it was."
"And where do you two usually spar again?"
"Just some field, not too far from here." Rainbow Dash pointed a hoof in the direction of said field, and the other three ponies quickly turned to follow it. "That way. Why?"
"...because, if I remember right, Sweet Apple Acres is northeast of that spot." The lavender mare slumped in her chair a bit, then turned towards Rainbow Dash once more. "Okay, so... Applejack is homesick, and I've done everything I can to try and cheer her up. Got any ideas?"
The pegasus was quick to raise an eyebrow at her, and shrugged her shoulders. "Why are you asking me?"
"Because you're the only one who has actually been able to help, Rainbow. If there's anything else you think I could do to help AJ, I'm willing to try."
"Alright, just... gimme a sec, Twilight. I need to think this over... sheesh, you're supposed to be the egghead, not me." Rainbow Dash closed her eyes and tapped a hoof against the table, her face occasionally scrunching up. After a minute or so, she opened her eyes once more and beat her hoof against the table, causing Fluttershy to yelp slightly. "Sorry, Fluttershy. Anyways, what I'm thinking is... you go to Applejack, and tell her that you'll take her anywhere she wants to go. That's the key here - let her pick. Even if it's something you don't wanna do, just go with it. Whatever she picks, you take her there, and the two of you just spend time together or do... whatever it is a pony does at whatever place she picks."
"And... you think that'll work?"
"Well, here's the way I see it. If you tell her to pick a place she wants to go to, and the two of you go there and have a good time... you're showing that what she says matters to you, and that you're putting her needs before your own. Sounds like a win-win, if you ask me."
From her spot at the table, Pinkie Pie blinked and raised an eyebrow, leaning over to stare at Rainbow Dash. "...when did you get so good with relationship stuff, Dashie?"
"I... well, um... you see..."
Fluttershy also quickly spoke up, adding to the conversation. "Pinkie's got a good point, Rainbow. You are awfully good at this... and I thought you said you've been single your whole life?"
"Well, not exactly! The thing is..."
Twilight was the last to chime in, and the unicorn simply rolled her eyes. "It's probably all the romance novels she reads."
Both Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy spoke in unison at that point, faint grins upon their faces. "...you read romance novels?"
Rainbow Dash let out a groan and placed a hoof against her forehead. "Yeah, I read romance novels. So what? I mean, I managed to help Twilight, didn't I?"
"She's got a point." Twilight hopped off her chair and quickly walked around the table to give Rainbow Dash a quick hug. "Thanks, Rainbow. I'm gonna go try what you said. I'll let you know how it goes, alright?"
"Yeah, yeah. Any time, Twilight."
The unicorn quickly ran out of Sugarcube Corner and headed straight for the library, and as soon as she had left, Fluttershy quickly turned towards Rainbow Dash and spoke up once more.
"So... which romance novels have you read?"
Though she had arrived just a few minutes later, a quick check showed that Applejack was still in bed, and Twilight was rather hesitant to wake her up just yet. Instead, she elected to let her sleep in for another hour or so, and until then, the unicorn kept herself busy around the library by performing some of the many tasks that needed to be done. Spike couldn't do them all, of course, which still left many to her. At the very least, this list of chores would keep her busy for another two hours or so. Books need to be sorted, shelves cleaned, and papers filed away. It was tiring but necessary work, and as she trudged on, Celestia's sun slowly slipped closer towards the horizon.
As the clock in the library rang out the chimes for six in the afternoon, Twilight set aside her things and headed for the staircase to the second floor. A small part of her hoped that Applejack was already up and about, but that was unlikely - the earth pony had spent more and more time both in bed and isolation since slipping into her depression, and she had a feeling that the earth pony would still be there. Upon reaching the top of the steps, she frowned upon finding herself proven right. Laying in bed and facing the window was Applejack, and it seemed as if the orange mare hadn't moved at all. Twilight quietly called out to her as she tried to carry things out in the most delicate manner possible. "...Applejack? You up?"
There was silence at first, but then a voice spoke up. "...yeah."
"Applejack, I... wanted to ask you something. Mind rolling over in bed so I can at least see you?"
The earth pony sighed then did as told, rolling over to face her girlfriend. As she brushed a bit of mane away from her face, she frowned and then settled her gaze upon Twilight. "Whatcha wanna ask?"
"Well, I wanted to know if... you wanted to go somewhere. Just the two of us. I'll let you pick where we go, and... we'll go. No questions asked."
Applejack looked away from Twilight and began to chew on her lip as she mulled it over. "...anywhere I want?"
"Anywhere, AJ. Think of it as..." The unicorn paused midsentence and tapped a hoof against her chin before quickly continuing. "Think of it as our first real night out as a couple! Sounds fun, right?"
"I guess. Just... no questions asked or anythin', right?"
"Right. So... what do you say, Applejack? You up for it?"
The earth pony pursed her lips and rolled away from Twilight, and for a moment, the unicorn feared as if Applejack was going to say 'No'. She soon sat up in bed and slid out from beneath the covers, however, and as she walked back around, she gave the lavender mare a quick peck on the cheek. "Gimme a few minutes ta get ready, Twi, then I guess I'll be set."
Pleased with the result, Twilight clapped her hooves together and sat patiently while she waited. Such a thing never took long either, as Applejack had never really prided herself on her appearance - sure, she liked to look her best when the situation called for it, but those situations were few and far between, and a night out with Twilight likely wouldn't be overly extravagant. As such, she simply brushed out her mane and put it up in the ponytail she was so well known for, and with that taken care of, both mares left for the evening.
Applejack already knew where she wanted to go, of course. She refused to tell Twilight Sparkle just where they were going, and had instead decided to simply lead her to it. To top it all off, the earth pony had actually been rather talkative during their walk, something that pleased Twilight greatly - perhaps there was something to what Rainbow Dash had said after all. Wherever they were headed was evidently quite a distance away as well. They had already managed to pass through the bulk of Ponyville, and were essentially on the outskirts at this point. After a few more minutes of traveling, they at last arrived at their destination, and Twilight found herself gazing up at neon lighting, with the name of the business clearly displayed - 'Sky High'. "...a bar?"
"Uh huh. Soarin' showed it ta me just a couple days ago. Didn't even know it existed 'til he brought me here."
"I didn't either. Definitely don't remember this on any of the Ponyville maps."
"'Cause it ain't on 'em. Soarin' said that this place is technically part of Cloudsdale... or somethin'. Not too many ponies come here, though." Applejack stared up at the sign briefly before looking back down at the door, and a smile had even begin to spread across her face. "C'mon, Twi. Kinda hungry anyways."
Applejack took the lead and passed through the door first, with Twilight right behind her, and as the door swung shut, the unicorn had already begin to look around the place. It certainly seemed homely, though it was a bit too dark for her tastes, and it was definitely quieter than what she had ever expected of a bar. Off in one of the corners sat a pegasus couple, both of them a shade of blue and far too busy with one another to even notice the new arrivals. Aside from them, no one else was even in the bar, and Twilight gave the couple one last look before hurrying after Applejack.
The earth pony had already taken a seat at the bar, and as Twilight joined her, the orange mare spoke up. "It's... Barley, right?"
The bartender quickly turned around to face her, and Twilight Sparkle already found herself shrinking away a bit from such an intimidating figure. Instead, he let out a boisterous laugh and gave the earth pony a light tap on the shoulder. "Well, look who it is! I'll admit, didn't expect to ever see ya again, 'specially after ya left the last time ya came here."
"That's... th' only time I've been here, Barley."
"True enough." The bay stallion quickly turned to look towards Twilight, looking the unicorn over. "And who did ya bring with ya?"
"That's Twilight. She's... she's mah girlfriend."
"Really now?" Barley leaned upon the counter, glancing back and forth between both mares, and a smile slowly crept across his face. "Applejack an' Twilight Sparkle, eh?"
Twilight blinked upon hearing this stranger call her by her full name, and she leaned forward a bit as well. "You've uh... you've heard of me, huh?"
"'course I have! Everypony's heard of you, Miss Sparkle! Town librarian, Princess Celestia's personal student - and now, the girlfriend of Miss Applejack. Aye, it's a right lovely story. The both of ya start from humble beginnin's, ya both went and saved Equestria on several occasions, and now, ya got each other." The stallion sighed and swiftly placed a hoof against his chest as he stared at the ceiling. "Warms my heart, it does."
Twilight backed away from the bar a bit and leaned towards Applejack, whispering into her ear. "This guy is crazy."
The earth pony sighed and shook her head, leaning back over to whisper a response. "He ain't crazy, just friendly."
"Now then, ladies!"
Both mares quickly sat back and smiled at the pegasus, unsure if he had heard what they had said at all.
"What can I get for the two of ya?"
Applejack briefly glanced towards Twilight, then looked back towards Barley. "Uh, well... I'm kinda hungry, so... I guess hay fries fer me, an' a beer as well."
Barley raised an eyebrow in return and leaned on the bar once more. "No hard cider this time, eh?"
"Nah, I've... kinda had a bit of a rough week. Wouldn't mind somethin' a bit stronger."
"Aye, I understand, lass. No need to get into details." The bay stallion quickly shifted his weight, sliding from in front of Applejack until he stood in front of Twilight. "And for you, Miss Sparkle?"
Twilight laughed nervously and waved a hoof in front of herself. "I uh... I don't really know, to be honest. I'm not much of a drinker anyways, so..."
"Just a water, then?"
"That's fine, um... Barley. And please, just call me 'Twilight'. I'm sorta used to that anyways."
"Suit yourself, Twilight. I'll get yer order out and ready in just a few minutes." Barley walked over to the far side of the counter and leaned on it, yelling out in the bar itself. "OI, SOARIN'!"
Both Applejack and Twilight blinked in surprise and briefly glanced towards one another before turning around. In the corner of the bar sat the pegasus couple, and slowly but surely, one of the pegasi turned to face towards the bartender, revealing themselves to be none other than Soarin'. "Yeah, Barley?"
"'bout time I get your attention! You're goin' deaf, lad! You need anythin' else before I put this order in?"
The light blue pegasus shook his head. "I'm good for now. Thanks, though!"
Barley simply chuckled in return, and quickly spoke up once more. "And what about you, Rainbow Dash?"
That last name certainly caught the attention of both Applejack and Twilight, and both mares spoke up in unison as they stared towards the couple. "Rainbow Dash?"
Another light blue pegasus slowly leaned out from behind Soarin', and the rainbow-colored mane already made her rather unmistakeable - the name simple sealed the deal. From her spot on Soarin's lap, Rainbow Dash laughed nervously and stared back at the bar, her face beet red. "Um... hey, you two! What um... what brings you two out here?"
Applejack had already hopped off her stool and quickly walked over towards both pegasi, eying them both before looking back towards Rainbow Dash. "Twi took me out fer th' night, said I could pick where we wanted ta go. I picked this. So why th' hay are you here and on Soarin's lap, no less?"
If it was possible for Rainbow Dash to blush any harder at that moment, she most likely was. The mare tossed a quick glance towards Soarin', and when he gave her a simple nod in return, she let out a loud sigh. "...ponyfeathers. I was gonna tell you guys eventually, since you two came and told me. I was just... waiting for the right moment, is all."
"Ya mean a moment when yer not sittin' on some guy's lap?"
"Especially that, AJ." Rainbow Dash huffed and glanced towards Soarin' before looking back at Applejack. "Basically, um... Soarin' stopped by my house a few days ago, and said he wanted to hang out, so... we did. And then he did it the next day, and the day after that."
"...and then he asked ya out on a date, huh?"
The colorful pegasus chuckled lightly and rubbed a hoof against the back of her neck. "...yeah. He did."
Applejack smirked in return, glancing between both pegasi before settling her eyes on Rainbow Dash once more. "So... the two of ya?"
"Yeah. He asked about half an hour ago, and I said yes. Then we..." Rainbow Dash looked towards Soarin' and grinned. "...celebrated, I guess you could call it."
"Well, congrats you two. I'd offer ta buy ya both beers, but Twi's treatin' me tonight, so ya'll are gonna have ta ask her."
"Nah, that's... that's fine, AJ. I think Soarin's got me covered." Her grin quickly disappeared in favor of a warm smile, and she nodded towards the earth pony. "Thanks, Applejack. I'll let you get back to Twilight, since... you know. You two are having your dinner date and all."
"Alrighty. One more thing before I go, though..." The earth pony leaned towards Rainbow Dash, peering at her. "Wonderin' what you two plan on doin' fer date nights. I mean, Soarin' knows yer a bit of a bookworm now, right?"
Rainbow Dash simply blinked at her, then idly shrugged. "...y-yeah, he knows. I mean, a few of the times he came over, we just sorta read together. And then, um... we cuddled on the couch and read together another time. That was sorta nice. So... I guess we'd just do that again?"
Applejack snickered and grinned. "Been teachin' Soarin' ta read, huh? Bet you've been givin' him plenty of incentive too, eh?"
Soarin' couldn't help but laugh and grin upon hearing that, and Rainbow Dash quickly began to blush once more. "Hey, he can read! And besides, it's not like... uhh... okay, I'm just... gonna stop talking. Go back to Twilight or something."
"That's what I thought, sugarcube. Have fun you two." With a grin and a wink, Applejack left both pegasi to themselves and returned to the bar, taking her place beside Twilight Sparkle once more. The unicorn appeared completely and utterly confused by the events of the past few minutes, something Applejack had apparently noticed. "What's wrong, Twi?"
"...what just happened? I mean... there's Soarin' and Rainbow. And then you walked over there, said a bunch of stuff, and she started blushing and got all flustered." Twilight simply blinked and slowly shook her head as she continued to stare at the two pegasi, and she slowly spun around on her stool until she was facing the bar once more. "Just... I dunno. I'm still trying to comprehend what just happened."
"Soarin' and Rainbow are datin' now."
"That's... huh. Unexpected, I guess?"
"Mhm." Applejack leaned towards Twilight and gave her shoulder a gentle tap. "Food's here, darlin'. I'm willin' ta share too, since yer payin' an' all."
The unicorn smiled sweetly in return and shook her head before taking a sip of her water. "Thanks for the offer, AJ, but... really not hungry right now."
"More fer me, then."
Applejack immediately dove into the hay fries, and simply seeing the earth pony actually eat was enough to make Twilight happy. The two of them talked at length about a wide variety of topics, and little by little, both their drinks gradually emptied, only to be replaced by another round. Twilight simply had another water, whereas Applejack went for another beer. The clock continued to tick onwards, more drinks were had, and both Soarin' and Rainbow Dash eventually stopped by to bid the two farewell. Of course, a simple goodbye soon turned into even more talks, and by the time both pegasi left, Applejack and Twilight were on their fourth round of drinks.
The earth pony apparently had a rather strong alcohol tolerance from what Twilight Sparkle had been told, but it was clear that it was beginning to get to Applejack. When the orange mare called for a fifth round of drinks, the unicorn reluctantly agreed - this trip had been for Applejack's sake, after all, and she didn't want to do anything that might risk ruining this sudden improvement in her girlfriend's mood. A quick glance towards the clock showed that it was nearing midnight, however, and Twilight soon beckoned Barley over in order to pay the bill. When asked by the bartender how the food and drinks had been, Applejack's only response had been a loud belch, followed by a laugh.
The walk back home soon proved to be rather... troublesome. Twilight already knew that Applejack was apparently a bit of an angry drunk, something she had been told by Big Macintosh himself. What he hadn't told her was how 'needy' his sister apparently got when she was drunk. As they walked back, Applejack continued to lean against the unicorn, playfully nipping and kissing at Twilight's neck. When she at last spoke up, it had been with a decidedly sultry tone. "Soo... how's about when we get back ta the library, I thank ya for takin' me out tonight an' all..."
Twilight had already been blushing a bit from some of the shows of affection, but she certainly wasn't ready for what Applejack had said, and she especially hadn't been ready for that sort of tone from her. "I um... t-there's no need for that, AJ. It was my treat."
"Aw, c'mon darlin'... it'll be fun! Besides, I wouldn't mind makin' ya scream a lil', if ya know what I mean."
"Ohh, I-I know. Trust me." The unicorn laughed nervously then quickly looked away from the earth pony, trying to hide how red her face was. "I... I dunno, AJ. How about we just... go to bed when we get back?"
Applejack simply giggled and buried her face in Twilight's neck, slowly shaking her head. "I ain't tired enough yet, but I'm sure we could find somethin' ta tire us out. C'mon, Twi... I know ya want it. Probably as bad as I do."
As the earth pony leaned in to give her neck another gentle bite, Twilight found herself grimacing slightly - truth be told, she had known Applejack long enough and certainly loved her enough to the point where it had no longer become a question of 'if', but rather, a question of 'when'. Given the state of their relationship, sex was inevitable, and as much as the unicorn wanted to say 'Yes', this was neither the time nor the place for such an important step in their lives. Applejack had gone through a rough week and was now decidedly drunk, and to take advantage of such a situation was simply... wrong. With a huff, Twilight quickly stepped away from Applejack, almost throwing the earth pony off-balance, and the unicorn stared her in the eye. "Applejack, just... stop. I'm not ready for that sort of thing. You know it, I know it, and you're drunk anyways. So stop asking, and let's just head home already."
Applejack quickly began to grimace, and the orange mare huffed as she glared back at Twilight. "What's the matter, Twi? I ain't good enough for ya or somethin'?!"
"Applejack, it's not tha-"
"Oh, don' you lie ta me. I know liars, an' yer doin' it right now." Applejack quickly walked towards the unicorn, placing her muzzle right against Twilight's as she continued her tirade. "I thought ya loved me, Twilight. I try ta do somethin' nice fer ya, try ta do somethin' special 'cause of how well you've been treatin' me, an' what do ya do? Ya throw it back an' ya spit on me.""
"But I do love you! And I only said no because-"
"Bullshit ya do! Ya know how many ponies I've ever offered mahself to? Two of 'em, and yer one. An' what do ya do? You don' want me. Don' want me at all."
"Don' you 'AJ' me!"
By this point, Twilight's patience had quickly run out, and she let out a huff before speaking up, her tone firm. "Macintosh wasn't kidding when he said you were an angry drunk, was he?"
Applejack blinked at the unicorn and stammered a bit. "W-what? I... I ain't an angry drunk!"
"Yes you are! I took you out, thought I could cheer you up a bit, and instead I'm being berated by my own girlfriend simply because I said I wasn't ready!"
To find herself on the receiving end was a bit of a sobering experience, and Applejack quickly began to regret what she had said. "Twi... I... I didn't mean ta-"
"No. Not another word. We're going back to the library." The unicorn scowled at her and shut her eyes, her horn beginning to brightly glow.
Before Applejack could truly comprehend what was going on, there was a bright flash of light, and as the library began to materialize around them both, she began to realize that they had been teleported. It took a bit longer for her to really regain her senses, but as she did so, she saw Twilight beginning to make her way up the stairs. "Twi, wait!"
Twilight quickly turned around to face the earth pony, glaring at her. "If you've got something to tell me, Applejack, you can do it in the morning. I'm going to bed, and I suggest you do the same."
"Don't bother trying to get into my bed either. I've still got the guest bed, so just use that. Goodnight, Applejack."
"...g'night, Twilight." With a sigh, Applejack lowered her head and made her way up the stairs to the second floor. Upon arriving at the top, the earth pony glanced at both beds - to the left, the empty guest bed, and to the right, the bed with her love curled up beneath the sheets. Twilight was facing away from the stairs, however, and it was then that Applejack began to realize how harsh the last few days had been for the unicorn.
Applejack may have been kicked out of her home and gone through some rough arguments with Granny Smith, but through it all, Twilight had been there for her. Twilight had been her rock, always there for her when she needed somepony to comfort her or stabilize her. Twilight had offered her own home to Applejack, without hesitation, and she had even been willing to end their relationship prematurely if it meant saving the earth pony's ties to her family. In doing so, Twilight had borne the brunt of a hefty amount of punishment, and had never once said anything or complained - Applejack's own needs were more important than hers.
Everything Twilight Sparkle had done over the past few days had been for Applejack, and instead of being the least bit thankful, she had been anything but. She had been unwilling to help around the library and unwilling to do much at all, and when offered the chance to go out for the night, she had instead gotten drunk... and then attempted to seduce Twilight. The earth pony sighed and closed her eyes, slowly shaking her head - as much as she wanted to apologize to Twilight, right then and there, the unicorn had told her to wait until morning. If that was what needed to be done, then so be it. A few more hours wouldn't kill her.
Applejack made a reluctant turn to the left, heading towards the guest bed and sliding beneath the covers. She briefly sat up in bed, looking towards Twilight one last time and blowing the unicorn a kiss. As she laid down once more and pulled the blankets tight around herself, the earth pony sighed and whispered out into the darkness.
"...Love you too, Twi."