Applejack lay on the straw-covered wooden floor, dimly aware that it wasn't the softest thing she'd ever taken a nap on. The warm fuzzy blanket of stifling numbness that surrounded her and spun her in all directions kept her from thinking too much about it. The sound of a hoof softly thumping against the floor next to the cotton-filled part of her head—she suspected it might be her ear—prompted her to action. Her neck twitched and sent her body careening off into the void.
A pressure on her cheek shot sparkling tingles through the numbing field of cotton and sent her spinning through darkness in two directions at once. The intruder pushed her head back and then let it slump back to the floor. Something made a thunk and a burst of static shot through her cozy blanket of nothingness.
A giggle lanced straight into her brain, sending shards of glass through the backs of her eyes. "She's still out!" chirped a painfully high pitched set of nails on what had to have been the rustiest tin roof in all of Equestria. Another giggle sent a wave of white blistering agony through her mind.
"Rainbow Dash is too. It appears they have both managed to lose their little contest." This other voice was far more refined and much calmer. "Are you certain you want to go through with this? I know it was my suggestion, but it was made in jest, dear."
"Of course we should do it! Everypony loves a good prank."
Bursts of static played across her body as something fuzzy and soft pushed under her body and lifted her high into the sky. The prickling, numbing curtain closed in and brought with it a forgetful darkness. The last thing she was aware of as her mind swam into the black depths was a warm softness being wrapped around her neck and the smell of sweat and ozone filling her nose.
Stomp, stomp, stomp. The horde of dragons beat drums in time as they marched around her head. The treacherous beasts had dumped some foul poison in her mouth which left a sour taste, like old saddles. Rainbow Dash tried to cover her ears; one leg responded, sending lightning bolts through her brain and out of her eyes as she pressed it gingerly against her head, the other was pinned in place. The dragons continued their march around her head, pausing only to kick her as she cracked her bloodshot eyes open.
Normally the morning sun would send pain lancing through her eyes to stab at her brain and make her wish for death, but today it was mostly blocked, filtered through some fine, silky substance the color of straw. She inhaled deeply, smelling the rich scent of tilled earth and the sweet fragrance of ripening apples mixed with the stale stench of old booze. Each eye tried to focus independently on the yellow substance, which made them feel like they would unscrew and fall out of her head. Groaning, her eyes closed again as she pulled away from the light strands. They clung to her muzzle, stuck to the remnants of apple brandy. Her legs stayed stubbornly in place; both of the legs on her left side were pinned by something warm and firm, but soft, like a fuzzy cloud over a wooden chair.
Rainbow's vision refused to focus on whatever it was that was pinning her in place, something large and tan. She tugged on her legs, hoping to jerk them free, then winced as the motion sent pots and pans rattling through her skull. Somepony groaned; somepony close.
"My head," twanged a familiar voice, causing Dash's eyes to shoot open wide and blearily focus on the back of Applejack's head. The earth pony moaned, clutching her temples as she rolled over towards Rainbow. AJ's eyes shot open as their muzzles made contact and Dash was treated to the taste of stale cider and fruit punch.
They stared at one another in shock for several moments. Dash planted her free hooves on AJ's chest and belly and pushed, rocketing them apart. Sure, tossing Applejack onto the floor wasn't the nicest thing she'd ever done and slamming her own aching skull into the wall behind her wasn't making her head feel any better, but better that than almost—she stressed the word in her mind—almost kissing Applejack.
Wincing as her head threatened to fly apart, Dash carefully rolled onto her stomach and crawled over to the edge of the bed, concentrating on each hoof individually. Why she was on a mattress instead of on a cloud or in a tree or somewhere else that gave her the comforting feel of vertigo was a question for later. Right now she needed to help AJ and stop thinking about... AJ. She reached the edge of the bed just as Applejack was putting her own plan into action.
A tan hoof planted itself next to Dash's head. A moment later, another joined it. Slowly Applejack pushed herself up until Dash was once again staring into emerald eyes.
"Um. Mornin', Rainbow." Applejack croaked. Dash winced at the sound, and at the smell.
"Yeah, morning." she agreed, hearing AJ hiss in pain.
They both recovered at the same time, blinking their eyes open to stare into each other's once again. For a long moment, neither blinked. Dash could claim to be studying her own reflection, but she was really looking for some clue, some sign from her friend. At some unseen cue, they both broke contact and looked around the room at anything other than each other. Rainbow Dash made the mistake of studying the window. The sunlight pounded into her abused eyes drawing a whimper as she slammed her lids shut.
A hoof patted her roughly on the shoulder in sympathy. "Look, RD." Dash heard AJ lick her lips. "Um, can I ask what might be a sorta, um, discourtious question? Well, two of 'em."
"Yeah, AJ. Go ahead." Dash once again focused on Applejack. The other mare's face was twisted with worry.
"One, why in tarnation are ya wearing my hat?"
Dash's eyes rolled up to see the brim of a stetson. Wordlessly, she plucked it from her head and offered it to Applejack. Her friend took it and flipped it into the air, landing it in position on her own head.
"And two?" Dash croaked.
Applejack closed her eyes and inhaled. Letting the breath out slowly she glanced at Dash. Even through the fog of her hangover, her eyes pleaded with Rainbow. "And two. What the hay did we do last night?"
Dash groaned, a hoof was brought with exaggerated care to her forehead. "I have no idea, AJ."
Applejack put a hoof to her forehead echoed her earlier pain. "I was afraid you'd say that."
Applejack rolled her head under the warm stream of water, popping her neck and working the kinks out of her back. She'd offered Dash the first shower; it was the neighborly thing to have done, but Rainbow had just groaned and waved her off. As the warm water cleared her head and relaxed her muscles, Applejack reflected upon the last thing she wanted to think about. What had happened last night?
Dash claimed not to know and hadn't said a word to her since they left her bedroom. Applejack hadn't pushed the issue, being a bit too under the weather to want to think much about it, but as the steam drove away the last vestiges of her headache, her mind turned more and more to dwell upon her sporty friend. Until the shower was over, she was safe from talking, but she never was one to indulge overmuch. It was better to have it over and done with. Like setting a bone or pulling a tooth; the longer she let it lie, the worse off she'd be. With a sigh, she flipped the shower off, pulled the drain stopper, and shoved aside the curtain, preparing to confront her friend and possible one night stand.
Her friend's eyes were closed as she tilted her face up. Using her wings to help balance on her hind legs, Dash was tilting a bucket over her head. A large bucket, presumably full of water. "Rainbow!" Applejack shouted. Dash's eyes flew open, her left wing missed a beat and she overbalanced, falling against AJ and knocking both of them into the tub.
"Ugh, what's the big idea, Applejack?" Dash groused.
Applejack jumped to her hooves. "And just what were you gonna do?" She glared at Rainbow. "Were you just about to dump a bucket of water on my floor?"
"No." Rainbow Dash said as she rolled over onto her hooves. Standing, she glared right back at Applejack. "I was going to dump it on my head. Best cure for a hangover ever." Dash closed her eyes and shook, spraying water everywhere.
"Ugh!" protested AJ. "Now I gotta clean all that up too!"
Dash raised one eyebrow. "Clean? It's just water. It's already clean."
"Rainbow," Applejack resisted the urge to slap a hoof to her face; it would probably summon her headache back. "I know you live in a cloud, but don't you know that wood'll warp?"
Dash rolled her eyes and stuck out her tongue, making gagging noises.
Dousing the little spark of anger, AJ reminded herself that Dash was just as hungover as she was. It was just the thing she needed to overcome her nervousness. "Alright, look. I'm sorry for yelling at you." At Rainbow's nod, she had to quash another spurt of anger. At least the other mare was paying attention to her now.
Taking a deep breath, Applejack looked Dash straight in the eye. "Rainbow. Sugarcube. Don't you remember anything from last night? What did we do?"
Rainbow Dash studied her hooves, which put AJ on guard immediately. Why would the brash pegasus suddenly imitate their quietest friend? "Sugarcube?" she prompted.
A slight flush came to Rainbow's cheeks as she suddenly met AJ's eyes. "Yeah. Um. Look, this is gonna be weird, but could you, like," Rainbow made a circling motion with her hoof, "show me your neck?"
"My neck." Applejack deadpanned. "What has my neck got to do with anything?"
"Everything," Dash snapped. "Or nothing. Look, do you want to know if we made out last night or not?"
Applejack blinked. Of course she did, she just wasn't ready to present it that bluntly. She scowled at Rainbow. That pegasus didn't have an ounce of tact in her, but she tilted her chin up and to the side.
Like a bolt of lightning, Dash was right next to her, nose almost touching her neck as the pegasus examined her. A hoof on her chin turned her head to face away as Dash further scrutinized her. At last, the hoof on her chin vanished and she turned to face a smiling Rainbow Dash.
"Good news?" she asked.
"Yup," Dash nodded. "We absolutely did not make out last night." Giggling, Dash's wings fluttered a bit. "Oh man, I was so worried." She pumped a hoof into the air. "But I'm still single! Yeah!"
"And just how do you figure this?" Applejack's question brought the pegasus's celebration to a halt. She glared at Rainbow.
"Um. Could you just... take my word for it?" When Applejack's eyes grew harder, Dash gulped. "Alright!" she snapped. "Alright." She hung her hung and sighed. "Look, this can't leave this room, right?"
"I Pinkie promise," Applejack assured her, but that only drew a snort from Rainbow as she rolled hereyes. "Alright. I'll give up apples for two weeks if I tell."
Dash nodded. "Okay, see. The thing is, um..." Dash scratched the back of her head and resettled her wings. "When I... make out with a pony, I tend to, well... I'm a biter." Dash rubbed the side of her neck.
Applejack's eyes grew wide. "What in the–" The image of Dash mouth clamping over her neck as they tumbled across a hay strewn floor flashed through her mind. "Uhg! I didn't need that image," she complained as she shook her head, trying to dislodge that thought.
Dash's face scrunched up and the temperature dropped several degrees. "Yeah, well. You insisted. Look, your neck isn't bruised, so I probably didn't do anything to you."
Why in Equestria would Dash bite somepony. Why would they let her? "But if we didn't... do that, then how did we end up together like?"
Dash's mouth dropped open, but her stomach interrupted with a large growl. "I dunno, AJ. Maybe after breakfast?" Dash's voice remained steady, but the way her wings trembled and her tail flicked, the prospect of an Apple Family breakfast had Dash as excited as if a Wonderbolt was in town.
Chuckling at her friend, Applejack grabbed a towel and threw it at her. "Dry yourself off, RD. We'll get some grub"—Rainbow's eyes lit up like lanterns—"after you help clean up this mess." Her chuckle advanced into a full-bodied laugh as Dash's grin turned into a pout.
"Crazy earth ponies and their anti-water-ness," Dash mumbled.
"What was that, sugarcube? I couldn't quite make it out."
Dash rolled her eyes. "Nothing."
Rainbow licked her plate, collecting the last dollop of syrup, before she let it drop to the table to rest with three others. "Man AJ, these pancakes are amazing!" Dash swept her apple juice up. Tilting the glass up and draining it in one long pull, she let out a loud belch. She wiped her muzzle on the back of her hoof as she let the cup drop to the floor. The pegasus slumped back in her chair and let out a long sigh as she rubbed her stomach.
Applejack eyed her. "Just where are you hidin' all that?" Applejack grabbed the last cake from her single plate, tossed it into the air, and swallowed it in one bite. Washing the last of her breakfast down with her own juice, she continued, "If'n I ate half as much as you, I'd be the size of Big Mac!"
Leaning her chair back and spreading her wings wide, Dash fluttered them in demonstration. "It takes more than just a few apples to fuel these babies. Besides, I don't cook much. Kinda hard to get a stove in a cloud."
For several minutes Applejack and Dash relaxed, enjoying the pleasant comfortable fullness breakfast had left. Rainbow Dash wasn't sure how long they sat there; at some point, she'd drifted off. Chairs weren't the most comfortable things to sleep in, but Dash was almost as adept a napper as she was an athlete; while not the best snoozer in Equestria, she'd make an excellent showing.
"Rainbow!" Dash awoke with a start as AJ shouted her name.
"Wha—" she began, snapping her head upright. The sudden motion overbalanced her and she was forced to pinwheel her legs madly until her wings unfurled and she was able to hover as her chair crashed to the ground.
"Sugarcube, how can you sleep? You only just woke up," Applejack observed. "Don't tell me you're worn out already."
Covering a yawn, Dash landed. Righting her chair gave her time to think of a response, which she failed to do. Opting for distraction rather than explanation, she brought back up the topic of the day. "Did you figure out who brought us here last night?"
Applejack blinked at the sudden diversion. Her eyes unfocused for a second as she inspected the floor, a slight frown forming on her lips. Success! Applejack had been derailed, proving once again that she was a master of conversation, or whatever.
"I was thinkin' about that actually." Dash's internal gloating was cut short as Applejack smirked at her. "While you were snoozing off back there, I took a look around the place. Turns out our pranksters left some clues behind."
"Clues? Like the fake eyebrow?" Dash asked.
It took AJ a minute to catch up. "Right. Like Rarity's fake eyebrow." Applejack turned and slowly walked into the kitchen, beckoning Dash to follow with a nod of her head. "Seems out culprit helped herself to some apple pie."
Dash rolled her eyes and snorted. "That could mean anypony! Everyone loves your pie!"
"True." She nodded. "And I can't say that I blame 'em," she said, walking over to the pie in question; a large slice missing was missing. "But not everypony likes 'em with mor'en half a can of frosting heaped on top." Applejack presented a frosting can. It had been left open on the counter and a huge scoop had been messily removed, leaving a few bare scrapes stuck to the sides of the can.
Dash's eyes narrowed. Of course, it made sense if she thought about it. Who else would perpetrate such a prank but... "Pinkie Pie," she rasped.
"Yup. Pinkie Pie." Applejack tossed the can over her shoulder into the trash. "Only she couldn't have' done it alone. Even Mac'd have a time herding two drunk, ornery mares up a flight a stairs."
Dash snickered. "And you know this because...?" Applejack's face screwed up and she glared at Dash. It was a small bit of payback for making her explain about the bruises.
"The point"—Applejack said, her voice raised—"Is that Pinkie had to have help. Now maybe it was my brother—if so, he'll gettin' a talkin' to for takin' liberties—or maybe it was one of our other friends. So I figure, we ought to look for clues afore we find Mac an' ask 'em straight up."
Dash rolled her eyes up and rubbed her chin in thought. "Right," she said. "So you take the kitchen and I'll check the hallway and bedroom." Before Applejack could object, Dash shot off. She flew up the stairs, down the hall, and into AJ's bedroom without even brushing the walls. The full Apple Family breakfast had put her back in tip top shape.
Okay, clues. Her eyes drifted over to the bed, sheets still bunched up and unmade. Landing, she placed a hoof on the spot where she and AJ had lain. It had to be her imagination, but the mattress seemed to retain a little of the warmth she had felt pressed up against her friend. It also smelled vaguely of sunflowers. Applejack was surprisingly soft. Dash blushed furiously and she tried to rid her mind of that thought. It was just a simple fact, nothing to get worked up about.
Leaving the bed, Dash's eyes scanned the room, looking for anything out of place. Nothing. Everything here belonged here. Dash snorted and plopped down on the bed. A stinging, itchy sensation built in her nose, wracking her with a powerful sneeze. Okay, it wasn't her imagination, something definitely smelled like sunflowers. Like really smelly ones. Taking to the air, she yanked the covers off of the bed. There was a small thump as something solid hit the floor.
Tossing the bedding aside, Dash zoomed down to get a better look. A small, square glass jar with a silver top and a trio of blue diamonds in the corner caught her eye. Dash grabbed it and, after a few tries, popped the top off. The smell of sunflowers assaulted her, bringing tears to her eyes and causing her to pinch her nostrils shut. Why anypony ever want to wear any of this was a mystery to her. Dash stuck her tongue out in disgust. That was a mistake; there was still enough airborne scent that it coated her tongue, turning her feigned retching into very real gagging.
Dash sped from the room before she was forced to draw another breath. She was grinning, despite the deadly assault. There was no doubt in her mind as to who the mastermind of this little prank was. Her grin extended into a smile as a plan began to take shape in her mind. Rarity and Pinkie had pranked them. It had been a good prank. No real harm, and lots of awkward kissy stuff had doubtlessly been the hoped-for payoff. Too bad Ponyville's number one prankster had seen through them. And with Applejack's help, they'd have their revenge.
Rainbow Dash cackled as she called for AJ. It was perfect. Not only would they get those two back, but they'd also turn this whole thing against them. "Rarity," Dash whispered to herself. "I can't thank you enough for this setup." This was going to be the best prank ever.
Pinkie giggled as Rarity adjusted the scraps of fabric that would become a pattern for a new dress. It was pretty exciting, watching dull rectangles and boring squares become bouncy ruffles and pretty pleats. It was like baking, only with fabric. And you couldn't eat it. And you didn't have to actually cook anything. And there was substantially less sugar than she normally preferred. But it was still like baking—baking with...with...
"Now, Pinkie dear, how does that feel?" Rarity asked as she tucked a flap of fabric up over her cutie mark. "Not too tight, I hope."
"String!" Pinkie cried. Startled, the glow of Rarity's magic winked out and a dozen scraps of cloth fell to the floor. "Oops!" Pinkie giggled, dislodging the remains of the dress-pattern. "Sorry, Rarity."
"It's fine, dear. That one wasn't working out anyway. Now let's see..." Rarity rubbed her chin and peered at Pinkie over the top of her glasses. "Ah ha!" She flipped her mane curl as her horn once again began to glow. "This will suit you more nicely I should think."
The scraps of fabric began to swirl around Pinkie, drawing an gigglesnort from the pony. A dozen large pins entered the maelstrom as Rarity once again began assembling a new design. "Just hold still for a few moments," she cautioned.
"No prob—" Pinkie began to shiver and tremble. "Oh!" she chirped as her Pinkie Sense triggered. "Ow!" she cried as a needle dug into her flank.
"Oh I'm so very sorry, Pinkie Pie! But I did warn you to stay still." Rarity's brow creased she she sought to remove the remaining pins without jabbing the other mare.
"I know, but a doozy is on the way!" A shudder ran up Pinkie's rear legs, over her spine, and circled her withers—twice—before rising to her ears and sending them flapping. "Yuppers! A doozy for sure."
Rarity opened her mouth, but whatever she was going to say was cut off as the front door was slammed open and a blue blur shot across the room, impacting the far wall and sending piles of neatly stacked bolts and thread tumbling off of their shelves. Rarity stared frozen in shock. She was so silly; Dashie crash landed all the time. A mound of blue and gold fabric shifted and Rainbow Dash's head poked through the top. She blinked several times and grinned. "Hi, Rarity! Oh hey, Pinkie! I was looking for both of you."
"Hi, Rainbow!" chirped Pinkie Pie. "Hi, Rarity!" Pinkie Pie bounced over to Dashie and gave her a hoof getting a bit of pretty lace untangled from her wings. "Wha' wid ou wan' fom me?" Pinkie asked about around a mouthful of colorful thread.
"Well, you can stop pulling on my mane, for one," Dash deadpanned, glaring at her like a stubborn molasses. "But I really just wanted to tell you guys—"
"Landsakes, Rainbow Dash," said Applejack. She had taken the far less damaging route of knocking on the door frame and then walking through.
"Applejack!?" gasped Rarity as she spun around. Finally freed from her stupor, she rounded back on the pegasus. "Rainbow Dash, wha—what are you doing!?"
Free from of the last of the stubborn cloth, Rainbow gave Pinkie a pat on the withers and then glided over to Applejack. "Oh, we just had some news we needed to share," she said, touching noses with the farmer before landing and draping a wing over her back. "We're—"
"We're gettin' hitched!" interrupted AJ, drawing a frown from Dash.
Pinkie Pie froze, mid-bounce. Why would Dash and AJ need to pull a wagon? Were there too many apples? Was there a party? Was Big Mac hurt again? Her mind concocted a number of scenarios that would lead Rainbow Dash and Applejack to both need to get into tack, and tell her and Rarity about it, each worse than the last. She was saved from her own imagination—she'd gotten as far as a corncake shortage in Fillydelphia—by Rarity.
"I'm sorry, dear," Rarity said putting on her sweetest smile. "Could you repeat that? For a moment it sounded like you and Rainbow were planning on getting married."
Oh right! Hitched was farmpony for marriage! Immediately all of the dreadful what-ifs crumbled and blew away. Oh right! Hitched was farmpony for marriage! Pinkie felt a rising giddiness, like a bottle of shaken sarsaparilla, as her whole body began to vibrate.
"We sure-as-sugar are!" Applejack crossed her legs and leaned against her fiance.
"Yup, married!" confirmed Dash with a self-satisfied smile.
"Oh my gosh!" Pinkie zipped over to them, not really taking note of the intervening space. There were hugs to bestow; space could handle itself. "This is the bestest doozy I've ever had!" Pinkie zipped around the cluttered boutique. "Applejack and Rainbow Dash," she sang. "Applejack and Rainbow Dash. Applejack and Rainbow Da–ash!"
"Yes, Pinkie," Rainbow was glaring at her, even Applejack and Rarity wore concerned looks on their faces. "Those are our names."
"But now you're Rainbow Jack!" she shouted, causing all three friends to flinch. "Ooh! Maybe it's Apple Dash!" A smile spread over her face as Dash's jaw went slack and AJ's hoof slapped into her own face. "Nah, I'll just use Dashie and Jackie!" Both of her friends were overtaken with excitement at having finally told her about this. Why else would they have turned slightly pale with just a little green?
Finding her voice, Rarity finally spoke. "That's wonderful! But when did this happen?"
Applejack and Rainbow Dash looked at each other and dopey grins spread on their faces as they gazed into each others' eyes.
"Well, it seems we got a little wasted last night..." Dash began.
"...and we may, um, we may have done some things we wouldn't normally do..." Applejack blushed and looked away.
Dash turned her fiance's head to face her again. "But this morning, when we woke up together..."
"...we just knew." Applejack concluded.
Finishing each others sentences already? Pinkie was nearly beside herself with giddiness. Except she couldn't actually be beside herself because then she'd be over to the left instead of where she was and she'd have to move again to be besides herself. No, wait. She'd missed something. Something important, judging by the way Rarity's lips couldn't decide to frown or to break into a smile. Pinkie hoped she'd decide to smile. Oh right! Their prank!
"That's simply wonderful!" Rarity fanned herself with a patch of work fabric. "Oh! You must let me design your dresses! I promise you, they will be simply marvelous!" Rarity turned towards the heap of cloth Dash had left and began pulling and re-rolling bolts. "I have, somewhere around here, the most divine bolt of imported silk, and..." She hopped, twisting in the air to face them. Her smile was so wide that even Pinkie's cheeks ached in sympathy. "This is simply the most wondrous of news!" she cried as she rushed the pair, enveloping both of them in a spine-bending hug.
Not wanting to miss the opportunity, Pinkie joined the trio. "And I can make the cake! And the cupcakes, and muffins, and hors d'oeuvres, and—why is hors d'oeuvres spelled that way anyway? It looks like 'horse de overs'. I've never made a wedding cake before! I bet I could make all kinds of different layers: chocolate, strawberry, apple, maybe even barley and oat!" She quivered again. It was almost like this wasn't the doozy. But what could be doozier than Rainbow Dash marrying Applejack? Was Fluttershy going to marry Twilight?
Applejack chuckled as she extracted herself from the twin hugs. "Thanks mightily, Rarity, Pinkie. But we won't be needin' your help."
"Yeah, we've already got it all planned out," Dash said. "Besides—"
Rarity gasped. "You have plans already?"
"Yup. Gonna hit Las Pegasus." Dash nuzzled Applejack. "They'll have us mare and stal—mare inside ten minutes."
"Las... Pegasus?" Rarity's eyes twitched. "You're getting married in Las Pegasus!?" Rarity shrieked.
"Yup." Dash nodded, a self-satisfied smile on her face. "Inside ten minutes: that's what I call fast!"
"That's my Rainbow." Applejack rubbed her neck against Dash's. "'Course, I'm more'n happy to skip all the hoo-hah frou-frou nonsense that most weddin's have. You're gettin' hitched! Ain't no need to make a huge production out of it."
"Mmmhmm," agreed Dash as she closed her eyes and leaned into Applejack, tucking her head up under AJ's chin.
Rarity made a choking, sputtering sound and her face started turning funny colors, like old plums. "No need to made a huge production!?" she shouted. "You cannot be serious!"
"What's the big deal?" Dash straightened. "This way, we can get married and hit the casinos right afterwards. It's like, the honeymoon starts immediately."
"I simply can't believe that even you would consider this!" Rarity's face was turning the color of Pinkie's coat as she yelled. "It's your wedding. You can't just—just squander it!" With a frustrated cry, Rarity turned to stomp off, before realizing there was no "off" to stomp to. Turning to face the couple again, Rarity pleaded, "Why?"
"Well Rarity," Applejack said. "Both of us are pretty busy—I got my farm and Dash's got, um. Point is, we're both swamped, and ain't neither one of us is any good at plannin' weddings or receptions and whatnot."
"Receptions?" Pinkie butted in. "That's a fancy word for 'party', right? I can totally throw you party. It would be really weird if I didn't. I'd say 'Pinkie Pie, you throw parties for every other neat-o thing that happens, why didn't you throw one for Applejack and Rainbow Dash?'" Pinkie hopped forward and turned around to face where she had been. "Because there wasn't any room!" she pled. Once again standing in her original spot, her face darkened and her voice took on a low, oddly menacing quality. "Those sound like excuses, Pinkie Pie!"
"Hold on now, sugarcube." Applejack intercepted Pinkie with a hoof as she leapt to answer herself. "Look, we'd be mighty proud to have ya throw us a proper weddin' party—"
"And I will plan you a proper wedding," Rarity interrupted. "After all, you are my very best friends. All you had to do was ask." The indignation had melted from Rarity's face as she rushed forward to hug the two of them again. "This is one of the best things to ever happen!" she squealed.
"Thanks a bundle, Rares," Applejack said. Rarity's ear twitched and her smile became slightly more forced, but she made no comment as Applejack tipped her hat. "We didn’t think anypony'd want to take on planning a wedding or a party in just five days."
Pinkie felt another tremor run up from her hooves as Rarity's ear twitched madly. "I'm sorry, Applejack. Could you repeat that?" Her voice dripped with honey in the least convincing way.
"Didn't we say that already?" Dash asked. "We're getting married this weekend, in fact. Already got the reservations." Dash let out a chuckle. "Even I'd have trouble getting everything setup so fast."
If she only had five days to plan the party, invite their friends, plan the pre-party, bake the wedding cake, plan the after-party and come up with a menu, Pinkie'd have to really buckle down and focus all of her attention on this. A normal party wouldn't do; this had to be the bestest party she'd ever thrown. She'd have to bring her A-game, maybe several others too. Already she was trying to figure out how she could pack a whole wedding into her party canon in just—
"FIVE DAYS!?" Rarity shrieked. "What possible reason could you have for such a—for getting married, of all things, on such a short notice?"
Rainbow Dash leered at Applejack as she planted a kiss on Applejack's cheek. "Well, go on, hot stuff. Tell 'em why," she purred.
Blushing furiously, Applejack stumbled away from Dash, mumbling something about a promise.
Pinkie laughed. "Oh, Applejack! You do such a good impression of Fluttershy!"
"I said, 'I promised my granny, I'd wear white.'"
Rarity's cheeks lit up like a bonfire and even Pinkie felt her cheeks flush as Rainbow Dash stroked Applejack's flank with her wing, chuckling. The earth pony's blush spread over her whole face, and down into her neck as Rainbow Dash nuzzled her cheek and ear. "I tried to tell her she could wear whatever color she wanted," Dash said as she brushed AJ's muzzle with hers. "But she—"
"Rainbow Dash!" AJ squawked as she leapt away, panting.
"Consider that a down payment," Dash said, leering once more. Her eyes widened and her ears twitched. Turning suddenly towards Pinkie, she looked very concerned. "That reminds me. Pinkie, what's your availability, in say, thirteen months?"
Rainbow Dash often asked silly questions: "Where are we going?", "Do you want more icing?", and "Why are you stuffing those cupcakes with lollipops?" ranked among the silliest, but this was just plain random. "I dunno," she said. "Why? What happens in thirteen months?"
"Duh! We'll need a foalsitter. And you're the only pony we know who can handle two of 'em at a time."
"Foals? Two?" Pinkie and Rarity asked together.
"Yeah. AJ and I are each gonna have one. We're gonna make Twilight use her magic and—" Dash was cut off as Applejack's lips closed around hers.
"Now Rainbow," Applejack's voice was syrupy, like a good stack of waffles. "That there's private. It's just between us. And Twilight, I reckon." Something she said must have made Dash feel a little funny, because her face was turning red. "But thank ya mightily, Pinkie. We figure that two'd be no problem for you."
"Oh yeah! Sure." Pinkie felt her smile stretch in a not entirely happy way. "No problem!"
"I just hope you get those twins you wanted, AJ." Dash poked Applejack's flank. "Ponyville could sure use a few more Apples about." Pinkie's eye twitched. That would make three babies.
"Twins? Me? Boy howdy, that'd be nice, but they run in your family." Applejack whipped her tail at Dash who playfully growled and snapped at it.
Twin twins? Four foals? Pinkie's eye twitched again and half of her smile fell. "On gosh," she said, her voice sounding stilted and hollow to her ears. "Two sets of twins?"
"Thanks again, Pinkie," Dash said, forgetting AJ's tail for a second. A second that resulted in a facefull of blond hair. Sputtering, Rainbow batted the tail out of her face only to have AJ shove it back in. Ducking away, she smirked as she crouched low. "Oh it's on now," she said, leaping at Applejack.
Pinkie watched as her two friends wrestled. Images of four foals, all would could fly faster than bad news and kick harder than her double rainbow hotsauce jalapeno muffins, flashed through her mind. She shivered again and this time it had nothing to do with Pinkie sense and everything to do with plain old regular sense.
She glanced at Rarity to see her ivory friend somehow contriving to look pale. "But–" she protested, her smiling slipping off of her face.
"Oh my gosh!" Dash cried, halting their roughhousing. "We need to tell everypony else!"
"You're right, RD."
Both ponies lept to their hooves, and dashed towards the exit. "Thanks again, Pinkie," Dash called. "For the cake. And the foalsitting! And the party."
"Thank'ye kindly, Rarity. For the dresses. And the weddin' plans!" pitched in Applejack.
"But–" started both of them, but the young couple was already gone.
A moment passed with the two of them, staring at the door. "This is still a happy thing, right Rarity?" asked Pinkie finally.
"Oh yes!" Rarity's forced smile only fooled Pinkie because the party pony wanted to believe. "It's the absolute, best thing," Rarity sighed, "ever."
It was all Rainbow Dash could do to make it around the corner from the boutique before she burst out laughing. Landing, she rolled onto her back and kicked her legs as she cackled. A few seconds later Applejack ran around the corner. She was slightly flushed and it wasn't from her brief exertion. At the sight of her blush still lingering in her face, Dash burst out into a new round of howling laughter.
"That wasn't part of the plan, Rainbow!" AJ fumed. "What did you have to go and kiss me for?"
Grinning from ear to ear, Dash said, "Actually. It was you who kissed me." This only made the earth pony flush harder. Dash tilted her chin up and strutted past AJ. "Not that I can't see why you'd want a piece of The Dash. I am totally hot."
"I only did that 'cause you were gonna say somethin' more embarrassin'!" AJ protested, scowling as she stared at the ground, cheeks burning even brighter. She fumed for a minute as Dash continued to pose in her peripheral vision. She wanted to blame Dash for forcing her to kiss her to shut her mouth, but that wasn't the only, or even the foremost reason. At times, her inability to lie, even to herself, was maddening. She'd wanted to kiss Dash. Partly to throw the pegasus off and get her back for tickling her flank with her feathers. Partly, because it was part of their act. But mostly, she had just wanted to.
"And what did you have to go and get all touchy feely on me for?"
Rainbow Dash chuckled. "Come on, AJ. We're supposed to be engaged!" Her eyes, and entire head, rolled in exasperation. "You think ponies don't do that kinda stuff?"
"Not in publi—" AJ's voice was strangled and her eyes widened in panic as Dash hopped over to her and licked her ear. She sputtered and nearly choked before she could force out, "What in the world?"
Dash fell to the ground, shaking once more with laughter. "Oh man, AJ! The look on your face!"
Applejack fought to keep her expression as neutral as possible. She quickly changed the subject. "So now what do we do?"
Rainbow stifled her laughter. "What do you mean?" she asked, cocking an eyebrow. "Now we just make sure they don't do anything too crazy, like actually order a wedding or something." Dash stretched as she got to her hooves. "Maybe we pop in and ask about baby names or demand some silly dress thingy—you could ask about galoshes again or something."
"I dunno, Rainbow. Are you sure rainboots'll be cool enough for your tux?"
"Who said I'm wearing the tux? Obviously, I'm the one wearing the dress in this relationship." Dash stuck her tongue out and blew a raspberry.
Ignoring the jab at her disdain for frilly flambouyance, Applejack turned tail and trotted off.
"Hey! Where're you going?" Dash fluttered behind her.
"Well, seeing as I've got a bit of time on my hooves, I figure I could help Mac out with the south orchard today."
"Applejack!" Dash whined. "It's your day off!"
"Besides," she commented as if Dash hadn't spoken. "I think best when I'm busy." A wide grin spread over her face. "We need to think of some truly terrible names for our foals."
Pinkie eyed the cookbook wearily. While it hadn't ever steered her wrong in the past, this time she had her doubts. The recipe for "wedding cake" did not have cocoa or cinnamon, it did not utilize apples or strawberries, and it made no allowance for sarsaparilla squirters or hot sauce. It was, both figuratively and literally, vanilla. Pinkie sighed. It had been less than an hour and she already needed to talk to Rainbow Dash or Applejack.
A jingle from the main room alerted her to somepony looking for a late snack or an early dessert. Shaking her head to push thoughts of a boring white cake aside, she trotted out of the kitchen. "Hello and welcome to—Dashie!" Just the pony she needed to see.
"'Sup, Pinks?" Dash had walked through the door, but once inside, she hopped into the air and glided over to the counter. "How's the cake coming?"
Pinkie's mouth curled into a smile at the mention of "cake", but waned as her brain caught up and reminded her exactly where she was on the cake. "Oh Dash! It's... it's so..."
"Awesome? Cool? Radical?"
"...boring!" Pinkie finished.
"What?" Dash shot into the air. "No way! I can't have a boring cake! It needs to be as awesome as I—as Applejack!" Frowning, she shoved her muzzle at Pinkie, forcing the earth pony's head back. "You've got to make it cool! I'm counting on you! What do you think of 'Apple Spectrum'?"
Pinkie's tongue stumbled over itself. It had committed to assuring Dash that, with her encouragement, the cake would be super fun and maybe even aerodynamic, but she had to abort that mid syllable to ask, "Apple what?"
"I was just thinking, if one's a filly, 'Apple Spectrum', and if we have a colt, 'Rainbow Jack'. And if we do have twins, I was thinking 'Zip' and 'Zap Apple'!" Dash chuckled. "Get it? Zap Apple? Man, I am hilarious!"
Pinkie's smile faltered, was shored up and pulled wide, and then faded into a neutral line as Dash listed off her names. "But yeah. We couldn't decide on which names to go with. What do you think?" Rainbow stared at her, an expectant smile on her face.
Sweat began to bead up on her forehead as Pinkie struggled to find some answer that wouldn't be mean. Gulping, she settled on prevarication. She wasn't sure she had used the word right—Rarity's Word-A-Day calendar was hard to read in the dark—but it sounded like it was the right word. "Um, those are all, um, equally great, Dashie!"
"Awesome! I'll tell Applejack you're on my side! She wanted to use ridiculous names like 'Honeycrisp' or 'Jonagold.'" Dash stabbed the air with a hoof. As Pinkie began to formulate a denial of taking anypony's side, Rainbow Dash zipped out of Sugarcube Corner. "Thanks again!" she called over her shoulder.
Rarity's workspace was covered in scraps of paper. Every available surface, every spot of the wall, and even part of her ceiling were home to notes, plans, guides, and doodles. This was not unusual when she was in the planning stages for a new fashion line, but dress plans occupied a disturbingly small amount of space. Far more numerous were the various centerpieces, table arrangements, floral designs, invitations, and every other minor detail that went into a wedding. Gowns and bridesmaids' dresses were distressingly far down the list.
"Dash will need something 'cool', I hope freesias will be good enough," she mumbled as she poured over pictures of various flowers. "But Applejack will want something that tastes good too." The exotic blossoms smelled wonderful and were very unique in appearance, but they tasted like moldy hayfries. "Curse her utilitarianism." Rarity had made a compromise with herself; she'd pick edible flowers for the centerpieces, but for the gowns and bridal parties, she'd insist on proper accoutrements. Bridal. Bridle. Should she include traditional saddles? Her horn blazed as she whirled a whole new pile of images into the air before her eyes. Dash's would need to be narrow, the mare would not want her wings entrapped, even at her own wedding. Applejack's would need to be simple, but still elegant. She needed to decide today or it'd never be ready by the weekend.
Invitations! She had completely forgot about those. With a prayer, Rarity hoped that Pinkie could whip up something tomorrow: she simply had no time for that today. They would be late, only a few days before the event, but Rainbow Dash and Applejack had already shattered any sense of proper timing.
A knock on her door drew her attention away from low profile arial saddles. Her eyes narrowed and her nose scrunched up in annoyance. She had made sure to put her do-not-disturb sign out front. Unfortunately, proper decorum insisted that she answer the door. Before she could utter a word—in the most sickeningly sweet sarcastic tone she could muster—the door slammed open, causing her to jump and release her pictures.
"Howdy, Rarity," said Applejack as she walked inside, heedless of the chaos she was causing amongst the carefully laid out notes with her passing. "How's the weddin' plannin' goin'?"
Rarity yelped. "Applejack! How pleasant of you to stop in." She fixed a calm smile on her face. It certainly didn't reflect the turmoil she felt inside. "The preparations are going great! I'm just trying to decide on accessories for your gowns—"
"Gowns?" Applejack asked. "You know Dash is plannin' on wearin' a flight suit, right?" Rarity's smile didn't shift a fraction of an inch, but her eye twitched. Applejack sighed and looked upwards. "She's gonna fly me off into the sunset."
Rarity's emotions warred within her. While that was without a doubt one of the most romantic gestures she'd ever heard the brash pegasus commit to, it was cancelled out entirely by the attire she wished to facilitate it with. "Um, Applejack?" she asked, snapping the other mare out of her daydream. "Do you really think a–a flight suit is the proper thing to wear at a wedding?"
Applejack shook her head. "Sure ain't. But that's why you're here. Both of us know better'n to contradict ya on dresses now."
Rarity smiled. "That's fantastic, Applejack! I have just the—"
"We're both countin' on ya, Rarity." Applejack seemed not to have heard her. "You know I'm not big on caring much what other folk think, but RD... she does. And it'll mean a lot to her if other ponies think we're doin' it right."
"I...see." Rarity's smile faltered slightly. "So, you're just going to go with whatever I come up with?"
"Sure!" Applejack smiled at her, her face beaming. "You've probably forgotten more about weddin's than Dash and I know together. We'll just follow your lead."
Wait. They would do whatever she said? Without feedback?! How was she to work without the customer having something of a say? "Will you two be available to go over some options later?" she asked, clinging to the hope she didn't know the farmer as well as she thought.
"Nah. We're busy with...um, too busy. Besides, I'm sure whatever you pick'll be fine."
Rainbow Dash looked down at her dress in disgust. "What the hay am I wearing?" she shouted.
"I dunno, Rainbow," a phantom Applejack answered. "But there ain't no way it's half as terrible as what I'm wearing. Or these bouquets."
Dash sniffed one warily. Wrinkling her nose in disgust, she chomped the head off of a chrysanthemum. "Bleh!" she yelled in disgust, spitting as she tried to clear the taste from her mouth. "Rarity, what the hay?"
"Yeah, Rarity. We figured you'd do this right. Not mess it all up."
"We should've just got the mayor to do it." Dash snorted. "She wouldn't ruin a pony's special day."
"Darn tootin'. I figured Rarity, of all ponies, would know this stuff."
"Rarity? You okay?" Applejack asked.
"Of– of course dear!" Rarity lied. Luckily, her friend was herself a terrible liar and had real trouble detecting the lies of others. "Everything is fine!"
"Well, then I'll just leave you to it." And with that, Applejack was gone.
Pinkie was exhausted. She'd been mixing and baking test cakes all day long. Normally that wouldn't phase her, she'd baked past bed time before. Tonight, she'd also been doing something else she wasn't accustomed to: worrying. She'd had cakes fail—the daisy and cactus cake wasn't even the worst mistake she'd ever made—and sometime her parties had been less the the most funnest thing ever, but she'd never worried about it before. If one party was only 95% then the next could be the full 110%! Weddings weren't like that. They had to be right the first time.
A yawn cracked her jaw as it forced its way out. Who knew that worrying could be so tiring? She didn't like it. Pinkie should be able to bounce all day long and still throw a party for her friends. Instead, it was hardly dark and she was ready to fall asleep.
Her oven dinged, startling her awake. She switched it off and removed the chocolate and posy cake, setting it aside to cool. Rummaging around, she found a half full icing bag. Her eyelids were growing heavy as she tasted the contents. Butterscotch-cream would have to do. As she bent down to pick up the bag, she closed her eyes for a second and all thought of wedding cakes fled as the room was filled with a soft snoring.
After a minute, a form shrouded in black cloth, invisible against the moonless night sky, silently crept in through the unlocked window. A colorful tail jutting from the back of the quiet figure gave better proof to her identity than the blue nose or red eyes that peered out from within the hood. Rainbow Dash glided over to the sleeping pony and carefully inspected her.
First she waved a hoof in front Pinkie's face. When the pony didn't stir, she nudged her with her nose. There was a crash and a bang as Pinkie toppled to the floor, knocking over several pans in the process. Dash cringed, but the only difference was that Pinkie's snores were no longer quiet or soft.
Shrugging, she worked her nose and then head under the pony, lifting her onto her back. She was heavier than she looked. Double checking to make sure that Pinkie wasn't going to take another tumble, Dash set out for Carousel Boutique, chuckling under her breath.
Rainbow Dash didn't often see the sunrise; she considered such a sight a personal failure. Surely staying up all night to pull the ultimate revenge prank mitigated it a bit. She pondered her own stance on sunrises as she stretched.
Next to her, Applejack reflected that she was going to have a long day today, but that it was so totally worth it. She'd been smiling and chuckling for hours, just imagining Rarity and Pinkie's reactions. Pinkie's confused face filled her mind, staring at Rarity. The prissy mare equally horrified at both her intimacy with Pinkie and her uncombed mane and makeup-less face. "Rainbow," she said. "Is it always like this?"
"I dunno, AJ. I almost never see the dawn."
"No, I mean, pulling fast ones on your friends."
"Oh, yeah. Well, no." Dash sat up. With the light of false dawn lighting the sky behind her, her distinctive mane was subdued; the full spectrum reduced to any number of shades of gray. "Usually, it's not this much work, but this one was worth it."
"You sure they won't be mad we led 'em around by the nose?"
Dash snorted. "Maybe a bit," she allowed. "But we'll be eating cake and laughing about it before lunch."
Applejack smiled. "You know? This was really fun." She swallowed a lump in her throat. "All of it. The whole day." Would she pick up on it?
RD was very quiet. She'd picked up alright and now she'd ruined a great day by being silly. "Look, AJ," Dash began. "I had fun too."
Applejack's mouth thinned out in a tight line, Dash was trying to let her down gently.
"Um, you wanna, get some breakfast or something? Like, out, in town?"
"Huh?" Applejack's eyes widened and her mouth began to curl into a grin. Dash was was gazing off towards the horizon, but AJ swore the pegasus was watching her out of the corner of her eyes. "You mean... like a date?"
Dash's wings twitched an inch or so skyward. "Those are your words, AJ," Rainbow chuckled, a grin of her face as she turned to face Applejack. "So? Is it a 'date'?"
Applejack looked down at her hooves. This day had been amazing. Spending the day with Rainbow doing something other than trying to show each other up had been fun. More fun than she'd had in forever. Was this what dating was like?
Only one way to find out. "Yeah. Let's go with that."
Rarity awoke to the strangest sunlight she'd ever seen. Many nights spent trying to finish orders had led to any number of mornings that started well past what many ponies would admit was reasonable. Today the sky was pink.
As her mind woke up more, she realized her muzzle was buried in something soft and smelling of sugar and cinnamon, and that her legs were wrapped around something very warm and very soft. She instantly recognized it as Pinkie's mane; she'd woken to its sight too often to mistake it for anything else.
Pinkie hadn't come over last though, had she? Both of them had been hock-deep in planning for Applejack's and Rainbow Dash's wedding. She'd fallen asleep in her workroom, again. How had she ended up in her bed? Had Pinkie come over and tucked her in? The four legs wrapped around her, pulling her in close, certainly belonged to her energetic friend.
Curious and slightly worried, Rarity nuzzled the top of Pinkie's head. "Pinkie Pie, dear. Are you awake?"
The mane in front of her quivered, sending a static tingle over Rarity's face. "Yup!" Pinkie chirped. Her head tilted up and she kissed Rarity. "Oh hey! How'd I get here?"
"You don't remember?" While Pinkie was many things, forgetful was not even close.
"Nope!" She smiled at Rarity. "Oh! Maybe I sleep walked!" She began to bounce lightly, still hugging Rarity and bringing a bright flush to her cheeks.
"Pinkie!" she cried.
"Sorry." Pinkie gave her another kiss before slipping out from under her and rolling to her hooves. "Hey look! A letter!"
Sure enough, a small envelope sat on Rarity's nightstand. She levitated the note over and opened it.
So how about we make that wedding a double?
— Rainbow Dash & Applejack
"Those two..." Rarity fumed. "They are so going to get it!"
"Let me see!" Pinkie shoved her entire head between the letter and Rarity's face. "Oh wow! That is a good prank!"
"You're not mad? They wasted our whole day and ran me ragged!"
"Yeah, but you got to see Applejack kiss Rainbow Dash!"
Rarity faltered. It was true, she had gotten to see that. And if they weren't getting married... She began to laugh.
"That's the spirit!"
"Pinkie Pie. If this is how they chose to get revenge, that means they don't know we're in love, right dear?" Rarity's smile widened as a plan unfurled in her mind. "And that they won't be expecting us to take to each other quite so fast? Or quite so publicly?"
"Oh! Yes! Yesyesyes!" Pinkie began bouncing. "Does this mean we can have sloppy makeouts in front of them?"
"My dear, normally I would object to that both on the grounds of impropriety and the implication I would ever do anything sloppy. But in this case?" Rarity grinned. "In this case I do believe I am willing to make an exception."