At Sweet Apple Acres, all was not as calm as it appeared. On the outside, it would seem that all ponies in the farmhouse were sleeping gently, exhausted from a long days work or questions that had been plaguing them. However, this was not the case. Upstairs in a minimally furnished bedroom, a cyan pegasus and an orange earth pony stared at each other in the near-darkness.
To them both, things were better than ever, yet much worse. Rainbow Dash stared at her crush across the room with squinted eyes. I finally did it. She thought. I finally told Applejack that I like mares. And she didn't say anything back. . . She said she supports it, but that really means she doesn't feel the same. . . Celestia, I've dreamt of being in this room with her for literally ever, and now I'm finally here and she feels even more distant than before! Dash exhaled slowly and silently, trying to prevent any signs that she was still awake.
Lying on her bed, Applejack looked at her friend, imaginarily kicking herself. She told yah she likes mares an' yah just stand there! What the hay! She's right there, too! Just go over an' lay with her an' tell her how yah feel. Oh, who'm Ah kiddin'. Ah can't just do that, she doesn't even know yer a. . . Fillyfooler. Applejack thought to herself, frowning at her own use of the derogatory word. She prolly doesn't even like me. Ah mean, if she was comfortable enough to tell me that she likes mares, why didn't she just say she likes me? Ah'm tearin' myself up with all these questions! She's layin' right there! Ah've thought o' this countless times, and now Ah'm too chicken to do anythin'. . .
Turning over, she looked out the window, hoping to rid herself of the troubling thoughts, only to discover that every cloud sparked another memory of Rainbow. Disgusted that she was so stuck on the subject, she buried her face in the pillow. Dash watched helplessly, tempted to go comfort her companion, stopped only by the reminder that she was pretending to be asleep. She turned over as well, placing her nose just inches from the wall, praying she would fall asleep eventually. Needless to say, it was a difficult night for both of them, the trouble only ending when Celestia's shining star finally rose over the horizon.
Applejack knew that was her signal to rise from her slumber, if it could be called such. Setting her Stetson on her head, she left the room, hoping to allow her pegasus friend sleep a little longer. Downstairs in the kitchen, she found her numb-skull of a brother making breakfast.
"Ah'm surprised yer home so early," she stated, coldly refusing to face him.-
"Sis, we need to talk. Please, just listen," Big Macintosh begged, gesturing for Applejack to sit in front of a plate of eggs and cinnamon apples.
Deciding to hear him out, she began to eat, still refusing to sit. She looked at him inquisitively, gesturing for him to proceed lightly.
"Applejack, let me start by sayin' Ah'm greatly sorry fer what Ah said last night. Ah was tired an' not thinkin' rightly. Ah didn't mean to imply yah have some kind o' feelin's fer Miss Dash, Ah just-" He paused, caught off-guard by Applejack's tears dripping off the end of her nose.
"Sis, is everythin' alright? Ah didn't mean to-" He started, not sure where he went wrong. Applejack looked up at him, tears flowing freely from her sad green eyes.
"Mac, it ain't yer fault. Well, not really. Yah see, Ah. . . Ah. . ." Applejack said, unable to finish her sentence. Big Macintosh walked around the table and embraced her.
"It's alright, sis. Yah love her, don't yah?" He asked knowingly. Applejack just replied with a sniffle and a squeak, but Macintosh already knew the answer.
"Ah don't know how she feels about mares, but Ah'm willin' to bet she'd give it a shot. Fer her best friend," he told her, lifting her chin while wiping away the tears. "She's right upstairs, AJ. You can do this any time yah want."
"Ah. . . She. . . She does like mares, Mac. She told me last night," Applejack admitted. Big Macintosh took a step back, assuming the worst with Dash still lying upstairs after learning this.
"After she told me, we walked back here an' we went right to bed. Well, she did. Ah tried, but Ah kept wonderin' why she didn't say she feels that way 'bout me," AJ said, tears welling up in her eyes once more.
"Maybe she's just not ready, sis. You ain't ready to tell her how yah feel, are yah? Ah bet she's waitin' fer you, and yer waitin' fer her," Macintosh said, unknowingly hitting the proverbial nail on the head.
"Ah just can't. What if she didn't say if fer a reason an' Ah just look like a foal? Ah don't want it to come between us."
"Well, Ah'll take yer part o' the work today, to say Ah'm sorry. Y'all have free day, just hangin' out, just the two o' yah," he suggested.
"Ah couldn't do that, Mac. Yer lookin' pretty sore yerself, everthin' alright?" Applejack asked, tilting her head to the side.
"Oh, Ah'm just fine, AJ. Don't yah be worryin' 'bout me! Go wake yer friend, grab some food, and Ah guess get to work. Y'know, when yer ready," Big Mac told her. As his sister left, Macintosh sat on his own chair. However, he quickly bolted out of said chair. He gently rubbed the bruised and raw area on his back and flank, remembering his treatment last night with a shudder.
Reluctantly, Applejack trotted upstairs to her bedroom. When she opened the door, she found Rainbow sitting on the sill of the now-open window. It was quite uncharacteristic of her to be up so early, although it had become increasingly common as of late. Dash stared out at the orchard, the gathering clouds, and the distant town of Ponyville, clearly lost in her own thoughts. Coming up behind her slowly, Applejack put a hoof on her friend's back, who in turn adjusted her head to see who it was.
"Oh, hay AJ. I was just. . . y'know," Dash said, unable and unwilling to reach an answer.
"No, Ah don't, actually," Applejack told her, confused.
"Good, 'cause I don't either," Rainbow replied, causing them both to giggle.
"Well, Ah do know that Big Macintosh was polite enough to make us some breakfast. Mind comin' out o' the window to go get food?"
"Sure thing, AJ," Dash answered, swinging her body back inside. Both the ponies walked side by side down to the kitchen, where the whole place was overwhelmed by the smell of eggs, bacon, and apple products. Dash went to pour herself a glass of apple juice as Applejack noticed her brother had set out the food in the fashion of a heart. She quickly rearranged the food so that it resembled no romantic organ in particular. At least not any healthy one.
Rainbow Dash sat down at the table with two glasses, as she was kind enough to pour her secret crush a drink as well. Both of the mares enjoyed the food without so much as a word, occasionally stopping to make a funny face using their eggs and bacon in some unusual manner. They both laughed each time, eventually finished off the meal with full stomachs and heavy hearts.
They both walked slowly to the barn doors, not sure what to say next.
"Well, Ah guess y'll be headin' home now. . . Ah gotta get a lot of buckin' done in a short time, judgin' by those storm clouds," Applejack tells her smiling friend.
"Well, if you need to get something done quick, who better to come to than me? I'll have this orchard finished in ten seconds flat," Dash said, taking to the skies and zooming through trees, knocking apples to the ground as she went. Applejack attempted to follow, placing apples in the barrels. However, her beautiful and graceful companion was, after all, the fastest flier in all Equestria, and she soon found herself far behind. After a few minutes, Rainbow returned to her friend's side.
"Whatcha doin' back here? There's more apples to be picked," Applejack said, tossing apple after apple into the increasingly full barrel.
"Actually. . ." Dash replied, rubbing the back of her neck casually. Applejack looked up to see the entire days worth of apples lying in the grass under it's respective tree. Astonished, Applejack was brought back to reality by a poke in the flank.
"Y'know, if you still need help picking up apples, I'm free all day," Rainbow Dash told the orange earth pony.
"That'd be great, Dash," Applejack said, thrilled the gorgeous pegasus was willing to spend all day with her. They blew right through the work, both of them working up a sweat. Both pegasus and earth pony were glistening with the salty substance, yet they were too tired to notice the other for a change. They had gone quite far in the orchard by the time they were finished. Looking back at the cleared acreage, Applejack was amazed at the time they had made. A flash of lightning snapped her out of it. She and Rainbow Dash made a break for whatever nearest shelter they could find as the rain began to come down. Noticing a nearby cave in the taller hills, Rainbow wrapped her work partner in her wings and carried her to the cave.
Once inside, Applejack slid off Dash's back and onto the cool rocky floor.
"Thanks, Dash," Applejack said, turning to her crush. She was struck by just how beautiful Dash looked dripping wet. Even in the darkness, her coat glittered and her mane lie limp on her face. She looked so worn out, but still so strong, so confident. Applejack couldn't help but blush as she turned away, pulling the dripping Stetson over her eyes.
Rainbow Dash looked at her friend who was now digging limply at the gravelly floor. Applejack looked so great, her mane slicked onto her head, her orange coat shining, looking like the blazing sun of Celestia, even in the dark cave. Shaking off the thoughts and the rainwater, Dash tossed her body wildly. Applejack soon followed suit and they both stood in silence, uncomfortably gazing out at the pouring rain. It didn't appear to be lightening; in fact, it seemed to be doing the exact opposite.
Rainbow turned around to peer into the back of the cave. Sighing, she set herself down on the rough ground and tried to catch the sleep she had missed the night previous. Applejack decided on the same and they both lay in silence, repeating the events of the morning. Just two ponies gazing at each other in the dark, except for one difference. This time, Applejack knew she had the support of her brother, who had always been a sort of role model for her.
Just do it. It's now or never, AJ. She thought to herself. Breathing evenly, attempting to slow her racing heart, Applejack lifted her head to look at the Element of Loyalty more clearly. She looked so solemn, rather distraught, looking into the back of the cave. Her eyes remained open, showing she was not as determined to sleep as previously believed.
She cleared her throat, which caught Dash's attention. She too lifted her head, looking at the Element of Honesty.
"Hay, Dash, Ah got a question," Applejack began.
"Sure, got for it, AJ," Dash told her, hoping to instill confidence in her friend.
"Well, yah say yah like mares, right?"
"Yeah, I remember saying that," Dash answered, now focused intently on Applejack.
"Well, Ah been thinkin' an'. . . How do yah know yah like mares?"
"Well, I guess it's cause when I'm around a certain mare, I don't feel like I'm with just another friend, or another mare. It's a feeling I've never had about anypony before, especially no stallion. It just feels like-"
"Like nothin' could ever make it better when yer together?" Applejack inquired, finishing Dash's sentence.
"Yeah, exactly like that. Why do you ask, AJ?" Rainbow asked.
"'Cause Ah thought Ah might. . . Be the same way. But now, Ah see Ah don't like mares," she said, pausing to breathe evenly again.
"Oh, that's okay," Dash said, visually dejected.
"Ah don't like mares, just one mare in particular," Applejack continued, scooting closer to her the pegasus. "One who's tough, athletic, strong, trustworthy. She's a great pony, and Ah can't imagine mah life without her. She really makes each day worth lookin' forward to," she said, just inches from Rainbow now.
Completely oblivious to her surroundings, Dash looked at the ground, still thinking about who it could possibly be.
"She's got these powerful wings, and this shining coat, and her mane. . . That beautiful rainbow mane. . ." Applejack said, dropping three huge clues. Their bodies were barely half an inch apart now.
"Rainbow mane. . . Applejack?" Rainbow looked up, yearning in her magenta eyes.
"Ah love you, Dashie," Applejack admitted, putting the last nail in the coffin. She looked at the cyan pegasus with such desire, such love, it was palpable.
Dash couldn't find any words to follow up with, so her only reply was to kiss Applejack like she had always imagined. The gravelly world around melted away and the sound of rain became a beautiful whisper. The gravel they rested on became a gentle cloud, and they were quickly lost beyond all thought. They both pulled their mouths and tongues back, only to return together less than a second later, not willing to put an end to the intense moment of feeling.
Hours, days, weeks of love poured out of one pony and into the other, and for the first time ever, they felt complete.