"Dash, are you sure you want to do this?" Twilight asked, the wariness obvious in her voice.
"I'm sure. I gotta get healed up as soon as possible," the pegasus answered.
"You do know that this could hurt you just as easily? I mean, I'm no doctor, and there's a reason they don't do these kinds of procedures," the purple unicorn explained. She was obviously uncomfortable with the idea of using her magic to mend Rainbow Dash's wing.Stealing a glance at Applejack, she could see the earth pony was no more in favor of the idea than she.
"Sugarcube, don't yah think yah could just wait a bit longer? Ah mean, if yah get hurt instead, what would yah do then?" The caring in Applejack's voice was more than evident to Dash, but she knew she had to do it.
With a shake of her head, she said, "AJ, I know it's risky, but I need my wings as much as you need Sweet Apple Acres. They make me who I am. Besides, I'll go crazy if I don't fly for three weeks!"
"Actually, it would be more like four to six weeks," Twilight corrected, getting a glare from Applejack. "Well, if we're going to do this, we should get started. Applejack, I'm going to need you to tie down her legs. Dash, bite down on this," she said, pressing a rough piece of wood into the pegasus's mouth. As Applejack tightened the scratchy leather straps, she found herself giggling. She walked over to Dash and bent down to nuzzle her neck.
"Dashie, Ah didn't know yah were into this kind o' stuff," she whispered with a wink. She slid her hoof lightly across Dash's outstretched wings. The fibrous limbs trembled slightly at the touch, and Applejack knew they weren't just sticking out because Dash made them do such.
Spitting out the piece of wood, Dash remarked, "Hay, leave them out of this. And stop messing with me, this isn't even fair! I'm strapped to a table and you're not. You want to make this fair, let me out of these straps and then we'll see who's turned on here!" Applejack just tossed her mane and smiled as she stroked her marefriend's mane.
It sure is great to have her back. Ah can't believe Ah almost lost her. . . Applejack thought, tears pushing on her eyes. Somehow, Dash managed to pull her head far enough off the table to kiss the orange mare on the cheek. "AJ, everything's going to be fine. I prom-" Rainbow Dash's sentence was cut short as Twilight stuffed the wood block back into her mouth.
"You need to keep that in, Dash. Don't want to swallow your tongue, do you?" Twilight asked rhetorically. At the thought of swallowing her tongue, Dash gulped heavily and her eyes grew slightly wider. Twilight proceeded to place sensors on Dash's chest, which caused the heart monitor to begin a steady beeping. "Alright, we're all ready to go. Applejack, you might want to step back. I know it will be tempting to comfort her, but for the sake of your own safety, please control yourself." Applejack nodded and took a couple of steps back.
Rolling her head to one shoulder then the other, Twilight prepared herself for the difficult task ahead. Alright, first you'll need to make sure all of the bones are in the correct places. Then, make sure the wing is in it's joint properly. Her horn sparkling with a purple aura, Twilight began feeling around Dash's wings with her magic. About eight inches from the joint, the wing was fragmented. Part of the bone seemed to be sticking into the inside of her friend's skin. Taking a deep breath, she said, "Alright, Dash, it's about to start. Are you positive you want to risk this?" When Rainbow Dash nodded, Twilight prepped herself for the pain both ponies would soon feel.
The problem with magical healing on such a fine-tuned level was that it created a sort of empathy link between the two ponies, meaning that they both suffered pain from it. She had decided to leave that part out of her explanation, as she knew it would only have worried her friends. Swiftly but carefully, Twilight removed the bone fragment from Dash's skin, causing them both to suffer a terrible stabbing pain. Dash jerked her head back and Twilight's magic faltered for a half a second. Once she regained her composure, the unicorn realized that the rest of the broken bone was misaligned, making her job much more difficult.
Small drips of sweat fell from Twilight's forehead as she concentrated intensely on the procedure. All at once, she realigned the wing's bones, causing a blinding amount of pain for both ponies. Dash bit down hard on the wood and pulled against the straps. Applejack took a worried step forward, only to be stopped by Twilight's hoof and a shake of the head. Twilight resumed her work, beginning to fuse the bone fragments back together. This was a much less painful task, but required incredible amounts of focus for the 'doctor'.
Once Twilight was satisfied with her work, she moved onto the joint of the wing. At this point, the sweat was streaming down her face, and her legs were trembling slightly. Focusing all her energy on Dash, she looked at the joint and the muscles surrounding. It appeared that several muscles were preventing the bone from sitting properly. Slowly, the unicorn began separating the tendons. Rainbow's wing thrashed furiously, which was obviously painful for her, as Twilight felt stinging in her own back.
The tendons slowly thinned, allowing her to put the wing back in place. Before moving it back, she prepared herself mentally for the wave of pain that was sure to come. Breathing evenly for a few seconds, she quickly forced the bone back into it's socket. The pain hit her like a speeding cart, knocking her to her knees. Dash thrashed in pain and tossed her head back. It was clear that the unicorn had dropped the link just in time, as the pain was much worse for the pegasus. Trying to push herself off the table, Dash slowly lost her strength and collapsed. Everything seemed fine as the Element of Loyalty's heart rate slowed. All of the sudden, the monitor went flat, petrifying both Twilight and Applejack.
"No. No. . . Nonononono. . ." Applejack said as she ran to Dash's side. Tears were quickly forming in her eyes as she pressed her head into her lover's chest.
From the background, Twilight heard a light and squeaky voice that caused her to turn."Hay, what's this thingy do!" Pinkie called, eyeing the plug to the heart monitor. It had come unplugged when she entered, and was now lying on the floor.
"Pinkie, plug that back in!" Twilight shouted desperately. As the pink earth pony placed the metal plug back into the socket, the heart monitor began beeping steadily again. Running to Applejack's side, Twilight turned her friend's head to look at the machine. "Applejack, it's fine! Everything is fine! The monitor just got unplugged!" Twilight told the mare. Slowly, Applejack's tears died down and her sobs ceased as she placed a hoof on Rainbow Dash's chest.
"She's breathin'! SHE'S BREATHIN'!" She shouted as she tossed herself over the unconscious body of the pegasus.
"What's goin' on in here?" Pinkie asked, trotting up beside Twilight with her head cocked to the side.
"Well, Dash's wing was hurt, Pinkie. I went ahead and fixed her up using my magic, although it was very risky," Twilight explained. Pinkie stared at Dash's sleeping form and Applejack hugging her tightly for a second. With a shrug, Pinkie turned back toward the door and left without another word. "She's so weird sometimes," Twilight said to herself as she watched the jovial pony leave. Turning to face the couple in front of her, she began to undo Dash's restraints. Once the straps were all removed, Twilight gingerly bandaged the feathery cyan wing she had so carefully repaired.
Dash's eyes flitted open about halfway through the bandaging, not a second before the poor mare wretched on the floor. Wiping her mouth with the back of her hoof, she stammered, "Ohmygosh, I'm so sorry! I don't know why I just-" Twilight pressed her hoof over Dash's mouth.
"Rainbow, it's okay. When ponies feel extreme amounts of pain, they tend to be sick. It's a natural reaction, you're not at fault here," the purple mare told Dash. With a nod, Dash accepted that she had no control over her action. "Applejack, could you help Dash off the table? We're all finished here, and, I'm glad to say, it went off without a hitch." Dash more or less threw herself off the table without Applejack's help, causing her knees the buckle.
Before she could fall flat on her face, Applejack caught her marefriend with a hug. "Careful now, sugarcube. Yah been though a lot, Ah don't need yah hurtin' yerself any worse," Applejack said as Dash steadied herself. With a grin, Dash managed to stand without her lover's assistance. However, when she attempted to walk, she practically landed on her face again. With a giggle, Applejack commented, "Looks like we'll be spendin' even more time side-by-side now. Not that Ah mind, o' course." She rubbed her muzzle against Dash's neck, causing the pegasus's unwrapped wing to begin stiffening.
With a slight shove, Dash told her marefriend, "Well, what makes you think I want to spend so much time with you?" Applejack would have looked thrown by the response if Dash hadn't lovingly placed her mouth over Applejack's own. Fading into the moment, both of the mares forgot their surroundings until Twilight coughed uncomfortably next to them. Blushing, both mares pulled their lips apart, and Dash awkwardly scratched her mane with a hoof.
"It's great to see you fillies happy together, and I'm all for it, but do you think you might be more comfortable doing it someplace else? Not that I'm kicking you out, but I do have to write down my analysis of the procedure and lie down. After cleaning up Dash's vomit that is. . ." Twilight said, causing Dash to blush. Applejack took Dash by the hoof and began guiding her marefriend up the stairs to the mane part of the library.
"Ah'm real thankful fer the help, Twi," Applejack said.
"Yeah, me too. I can't wait to get out and fly again. And sorry about the puke," Dash told her friend.
"Remember, no flying for at least four days. Applejack, I'm trusting you to keep Dash under control for those few days," Twilight told them both, her voice very firm and serious.
"Ah'll try, but no promises. Y'all know how Dashie can be," Applejack said, earning her a piercing glare from the unicorn.
"No. Flying," Twilight ordered, her tone even more serious than before. She clearly meant business. With a gulp, Applejack nodded and began to lead Dash out the door again. Once inside the mane area of the library, the two of them talked as they weaved in and out of precariously-teetering towers of books.
"Twilight sure is being harsh about the whole no flying thing, don't you think?" Dash asked her marefriend, hoping to justify her defiant attitude.
"Ah don't know, sugarcube. Ah mean, she really wore herself out tryin' to fix up yer wing. Ah'm sure she doesn't want to see her work undone, plus, she said that if yah hurt it again, there might not be anythin' she can do next time. Yah don't want to be without yer wing fer good, do yah?" Applejack explained, causing Rainbow Dash to worry.
"Do you really think that I might never fly again? What about the Wonderbolts? What about my house? What abou-" Dash was cut off when Applejack stuffed a hoof in her mouth. That's getting really annoying. Dash thought to herself.
"Sugarcube, you'll be fine. Just do like Twilight said an' stay off the wing fer a few days an' you'll be back up in no time," the orange mare explained with a reassuring smile. Pulling her hoof from Dash's face, she saw the pegasus was frowning, but nodding in agreement. Spinning around, Applejack opened the door to the outside for them both. Taking a deep breath of fresh air, she pondered her next step. Well, Ah should probably get back to the farm. But then again, Dash IS lookin' pretty down. . . The pony thought to herself. With a shrug and a smile, she nudged her marefriend's flank and began walking into town.
"What do yah say we hit Sugarcube Corner fer a snack before Ah head back to work?" Applejack asked, not really leaving many choices for answers. Dash trotted up beside her and draped her good wing over the earth pony. Applejack nuzzled up against Rainbow's side as they walked together. It was finally the calm moment Applejack had been looking for, yet fearing. She knew her marefriend led a fast-paced lifestyle, and her subconscious was constantly reminding her that Dash might only stick around as things stayed interesting enough for her. While dwelling on her fears, Applejack had failed to notice that two colts had begun to follow them. Unfortunately, Dash didn't take notice either as she and AJ stepped inside Sugarcube Corner.
Neither of them had taken more than three steps toward a table before being tackled by a fuzzy pink rocket. The three ponies tumbled across the floor, surprisingly managing to avoid hitting Rainbow's wing. When they all came sprawling out across the floor, Dash found herself in an upside-down world facing a smiling Pinkie Pie.
"Pinkie, what the hay was that for?" Dash asked her pink friend without righting herself first.
"Well, you haven't been in here in a long time, like, ever, really, and I was excited to see you and Applejack together, since I hadn't seen you guys since, like, forever," Pinkie said without stopping for a single breath.
"Pinkie," Dash told the other pony as she righted herself, "you saw us yesterday. Not even a whole day ago, either."
Pinkie just stared at her with her upside-down smile plastered on her face. Finally, she replied, "Well, yeah, but that's like forever when you're me!" Rainbow knew she couldn't even begin to argue with that logic, seeing as she barely understood how Pinkie Pie's brain worked most of the time.
"Yeah, okay. Listen, we're just here to grab a quick bite to eat before heading back to the farm. Mind grabbing us some cake or something real quick?" The pegasus asked the Element of Laughter.
"Okie dokie lokie, I'll be right back! You two get comfortable," Pinkie told them as she hopped into the kitchen. When Rainbow Dash spun around, she found Applejack already seated at the nearest table watching her with a dreamy and sweet smile on her face. Dash sat in her own seat, which she scooted right up beside her lover's, the pegasus planted a kiss on Applejack's cheek. The earth pony blushed a little and pretended to see something on the other side of the room.
Rainbow frowned and asked the orange mare, "AJ, is everything alright? You seem distracted. C'mon, you know you can talk to me." Applejack turned her head back to face Dash before answering.
"It's just. . . Y'all were so uncomfortable bein' so close in public before.Now, yer all affectionate and everythin'. What's up with that?" Applejack asked. Truthfully, that wasn't what had really been bothering her, but Dash seemed to be satisfied with her lie.
"Well, before, I didn't have my friends behind me. Besides, this," she said, gesturing to the empty store, "is hardly public. It's almost as private as Sweet Apple Acres." Applejack smiled at the thought.
"Well, Ah don't know about that. There's certainly things we can't do here that we've done back there," she joked, causing her marefriend to blush.
"Yeah, I'll have to draw the line on that one." Pinkie came running in from the kitchen with two purple and blue slices of cake, which she tossed in front of the couple. With a nod, she ran off back into the kitchen without another word. This actually managed to surprise Dash, as it seemed Pinkie Pie always seemed to have something to say, however random that something may be. With a shrug, she turned back to the delicious cake in front of her. She practically broke her nose as she drove her face into the food and hit the table underneath it. When she looked up, Applejack was struggling to hold back tears of laughter. "Oh, shut it," Dash told her, flicking a glob of icing at her marefriend.
The icing landed directly on the tip of Applejack's nose. Rainbow busted out in laughter when Applejack went cross-eyed trying to stare at the icing in her vision. Pouting angrily, Applejack picked up a piece of her cake and called Dash by her pet name. The pegasus's head perked up immediately, which she regretted the instant she found a large portion of her face covered in icing and cake particles. Now, it was Applejack's turn to roll with laughter, an action she took literally. The earth pony collapsed on the ground with laughter, which earned her an entire cake slice thrown on her body. "Oh, c'mon, that was uncalled for, Dashie," Applejack complained. The cyan mare just stuck her tongue out and began eating Applejack's slice of cake.
The Element of Honesty grinned as an idea came to her. Stretching out a hind leg, she kicked the underside of the table, sending remaining cake flying off of the table and onto Dash's body. They were both laughing now, but Rainbow used the laughter to her advantage. She tackled Applejack, and they rolled around on the floor for about thirty seconds before Dash ended up on top, as usual. Applejack struggled against the pegasus's grip, but Rainbow Dash was just better at pinning ponies than she was. It seemed that every inch of their fur-coated bodies was coated with either cake bits or sweet frosting. Dash had noticed this and stuck her tongue out. Applejack felt chills go down her spine and a flutter in her stomach as Dash dragged her soft tongue from chest to chin.
Dash smiled and smacked her lips. "Mmmm. . . Sure is a shame that cake's going to waste," she told her pinned marefriend. Applejack just stuck her own tongue out at Rainbow Dash and struggled against her grip. Dash giggled at the attempt and, like a flash, tucked her legs into her sides. Now she and Applejack were pressed together in a dirty, frosting-covered embrace. They could feel the quick beating of the other's heart against their own, and it made them both smile.
"Ahem," they heard from a sweet voice at the kitchen door. By the time they looked up, Pinkie was standing right beside them, which caused them to jump in surprise. Pinkie grinned and asked, "Whatchadoin'?" Applejack looked at Dash, and Dash looked at Applejack. Together with Pinkie Pie, they looked at the room around them. There was frosting on the ceiling, caked smeared all over, and crumbs in every crevice. Collectively, they all burst out laughing, rolling on the floor. Eventually, Pinkie sat up and giggled as she said, "Well, I guess I should get to clean up."
Applejack and Rainbow Dash both rose and tried to argue. "Pinkie, we made this mess, we'll clean it up!" They both said at the same time. Pinkie just shook her head, which made her fluffy hair bounce and jiggle.
"You two need a bath, I'll clean up in here. Oh I know, you can just use my bath upstairs!" She replied with a grin before hopping away into the kitchen, where there was a loud crash and Pinkie calling, "Everything's fine! Just go shower!" The mares shared a glance and a shrug before ascending the stairs. There, they walked down the hall as silently as possible, trying not to disturb Pound Cake and Pumpkin Cake. The last thing Pinkie needed was a mess downstairs and crying foals upstairs. Slowly, they managed to reach the bathroom without waking the foals and Dash began to run a bath.
Sticking a single hoof in, then her whole body, Applejack slid into the tub and began to scrub the crumbs and frosting away. Dash climbed in behind her and went to doing the same. Once most of their bodies were clean, Rainbow Dash had her lover clean behind her wings, which caused the feathered appendage that was free to begin stiffening. A mild pink color started creeping into Dash's face before she swallowed her pride and reminded herself that it was only Applejack. She smiled at the thought that she could be so comfortable with herself around the other mare now. As Applejack finished cleaning Dash's wings, the pegasus unexpectedly turned her head around and kissed her passionately.
Applejack truly loved those moments, for they washed away her fear, her pain, and her nervousness. Although she was fine with Dash in public, when they were alone, Applejack couldn't help but wonder what ran through her marefriend's mind in moments of silence. Since being together, she found that it was much harder to read Dash's expressions and body language, something that she had prided herself on before. When she broke the kiss, the two of them stared lovingly into each other's gleaming eyes before rising from the large white tub. With a few shakes and the use of a couple towels, the couple was now completely dry and walked side by side downstairs. There, they found Pinkie Pie casually leaning against the table they had been seated at. All around the room, not a single speck of frosting or single crumb of cake could be found.
"Wow, Pinkie, you sure know how to clean up a mess," Dash said in amazement as she looked around the spotless room.
Pinkie giggled and responded, "Silly, you act like this is the first time there's been a mess in this room! If you could've seen the one time I accidently let Gummy out around the store! There were ponies running all over and food flying everywhere! I thought it was pretty funny, but Mr. and Mrs. Cake didn't seem too happy about it. They made me clean the whole store afterwards, but it was worth it!" Her speech seemed to fly out at a hundred words a second, and Dash had to struggle to keep up.
The couple started toward the door, thanking their friend for the meal before leaving. As they closed the door behind them, Dash draped her good wing over Applejack and began walking in the direction of Sweet Apple Acres. They were barely at the edge of town when two colts blocked their path.
"Sorry, fellas, we're just tryin' to get through here. Yah mind steppin' to the side fer a second?" Applejack asked, trying to walk past the two of them. The grey one smiled for a split second before tossing Applejack back. She was caught off-guard and stumbled backwards, her marefriend catching her before she fell over.
"What's the big idea, you jerks?" Dash asked, taking an aggressive step forward. The larger green one just laughed.
The grey one replied, "Would you look at that? The fillyfooler is gettin' mad at us, Clunk. Isn't that just hilarious?" Once again, the green one laughed in agreement. Applejack and Rainbow Dash immediately picked up on the insult thrown at them, and they both glared at the duo angrily.
"How's about y'all step aside before we make yah?" Applejack threatened, hoping to show she wasn't kidding around. The one called Clunk just laughed again and took a step forward. It was painfully obvious who was the brains of the pair, seeing as it appeared Clunk could do nothing but laugh and toss his weight around. Still, his weight was fearsome and his step caused the ground to shake as he brought a massive hoof down.
The smaller grey colt grinned and answered, "We'd like to see you try." When neither Applejack nor Dash made a move, his grin got even wider. "Well then, it seems we have a chance to talk. We don't want your kind here. We don't need your kind here. So what do you say you just head home, pack your things, and get the buck out of our town? I'd prefer not to hit a lady, if you bucking fillyfoolers can still be called fillies, even."
Dash's brow furrowed at the blatant insult. Applejack, however, was much more put off by the threat to leave their home. "Now just you listen," she said, taking a few more steps forward. "Mah family's been workin' these here apple orchards fer years. We supply darn near half the apples this side of Equestria! Ah'll be bucked 'fore Ah let two numbskulls like yerselves to stop me an' my marefriend from goin' home an-" She only got that far before Clunk slammed a hoof into her chest, tossing her into the air and backward. Dash threw herself to try and soften Applejack's landing, but only managed in getting them both hurt. Apparently, Clunk did not take kindly to being called stupid.
As Dash stood up, her eyes blazed with anger. "You did not just do that," she said, a mocking hint of doubt in her voice.
In a terrifyingly deep voice, Clunk replied, "I do again, fillyfooler." The insult felt like a stab at her, which was bad enough, but the fact that the monster of a colt felt no remorse for hitting her lover in such a way drove her mad. Even without both wings, she got some pretty good height as she hopped into the air and kicked the grey colt in the neck. He didn't even have a chance to start coughing before Dash came down on his chest, holding a hoof to his throat. At first, his eyes went wide with fear. Slowly, he broke into his characteristic grin. When Rainbow Dash turned around, she just barely caught sight of a hoof coming down to strike her before she went flying across the road and through the dirt.
"You 'kay, Bolt?" Clunk asked the other colt who rubbed his neck as he stood up.
"I'm fine, brother," the one called Bolt answered. Even though Dash was hurt and her head was spinning, she could definitely see that they were brothers. Same shaggy brown mane, limp brown tail, and pointed facial features. The pair walked toward her as she lay on the ground, rubbing the side of her head. Bolt slammed a hoof on the ground, and Clunk immediately pinned all four of her limbs. She struggled weakly against his powerful hooves as Bolt stood menacingly over her.
"I'll teach you to take a shot at me, fillyfooler," Bolt spit. Lifting his hoof high in the air, he brought it down right on Dash's cheek. Her vision blurred and pain spike through her whole body at the contact, which was followed by another hit to the stomach, and another. Each hit hurt more than the last, and Dash pinched her eyes shut and grit her teeth through the barrage of hits.
"Hay, Clunk, check this out." When the huge colt turned to see who had spoken his name, two powerful, orange back hooves hit him square in the face. Despite his size and strength, Applejack's legs were much too powerful for his body to take. The first hoof broke his nose and the second knocked two crooked teeth out. The monster's whole body went tumbling across the dirt, freeing Dash's limbs. Bolt was thrown for a moment, but immediately took off faster than anypony could say his name. Slowly, Clunk rose and took off after him, hoping to escape the mare that damaged him.
Despite being freed, Dash lie on the ground, breathing heavily and holding her stomach. Applejack hurried over to her to find tears of pain streaking through the dust that had settled on her lover's face.
"It's gonna be alright, sugarcube," Applejack whispered kneeling down beside the pegasus. Dash attempted a smile, but her sore face forced her to go back to gritting her teeth instead. Applejack kissed her gently on cheek. "It's okay, Dashie. Let it out." For a few more minutes they lay together in the road before Dash managed to stand with help from her marefriend. Leaning heavily on Applejack, the couple stumbled back to Sweet Apple Acres. Thankfully, it seemed Big Macintosh was out of the house, as was Applebloom. Granny Smith was sleeping next to the fireplace again, so the two mares snuck upstairs and into Applejack's room.
Once inside, Applejack helped Dash onto the bed and settled herself down next to the cyan mare. She watched Rainbow for a few moments before smiling gently. "Dash?" She asked. Dash opened an eye and looked over at Applejack before sitting upright and looking questioningly at the mare. "Thank yah fer standing up fer me back there," Applejack said, which made Dash laugh slightly.
"Silly filly. It was more than that. I wasn't just standing up for you; I was standing up for us. I know I've made mistakes before, but I don't intend to make them again. I love you, AJ, and I don't care who knows it. Just so long as you know it."
Small tears rolled down Applejack's face, which Dash kissed away. Looking deeply into each other's eyes, they both smiled and slowly fell asleep holding each other.