“Applejack? Are you still awake?”
Twilight watched as her friend blinked an eye open, leaning on a foreleg as she sat up. She yawned, scratching at her bedhead. “Wha? What time is it? What’s wrong, sugahcube?”
Twilight shushed her, pointing past her to the rainbow-maned mare occupying the second bed. “Can you meet me downstairs? Five minutes?” Twilight glanced around nervously, stopping to look at Applejack again. “Please?”
The earth pony seemed to think it over, sneaking a peek towards the comfortable pillow beckoning to her. “Yeah, sure, ah’ll be down in a sec.”
“Thank you!” Twilight said, raising a hoof to her mouth at the outburst. “I mean… thank you. Meet you downstairs, alright?”
“Yeah, yeah.” Applejack yawned, watching her friend slip away from the bed and out the door. “Wonder what’s gotten into her,” she mumbled, claiming her hat from its spot on the end table beside her.
Applejack got up, taking care to sneak quietly to the door. Checking to make sure her roommate hadn’t moved, she closed the door behind her and headed downstairs. Poking her head into the living room, she spotted Twilight resting on the couch in the dark, dropping something onto the coffee table.
Twilight looked up, smiling as she watched her friend approach. “Er… sorry for waking you up. I got some cider from your reserves while I waited. Thought you might want some.”
Just like Twilight said, two mugs sat on the table beside her. Applejack took one and sat down, taking a quick swig to help her focus. “Yep, that’s the good stuff. Anyway, don’t you worry none about waking me up. Ah’m sure ya had good enough reason to, what with all that insanity today. Especially when you put everypony back where they belong.”
Twilight nodded, rubbing her arm. She was right, the spell had taken a lot out of her. “Definitely, it was pretty taxing. That just makes it all the more annoying that I can’t sleep.”
Applejack took another sip, picking Twilight‘s mug off the table and handing it over. “Mmmmhm. So, what’s got yer mane in a knot, hon?”
“Well,” Twi began, “a couple things, honestly. Today’s madness, obviously, and… well, you remember what we talked about a couple weeks ago?”
“Hmmm.” Applejack sat her mug down, rubbing her chin. “About how you were wondering if Big Mac had some doll of yours for some reason?”
A blush crossed Twi’s face. “N-no, not that.”
“Well then, do ya mean when ya needed to borrow some apples for some sorta transmogrification spell?”
“No, no… but thanks again for that, anyway. I was talking about something else.”
Applejack raised an eyebrow. “Well, spit it out, sugahcube!”
“Alright, alright. It’s, uh…” Twilight mumbled, averting her gaze and holding her cup to her mouth. “Mmblemmble.”
Applejack scratched at her ear. “Beg yer pardon?”
Twilight sighed, lowering the cup. “Trixie.”
“Ooooh, right. Don’t suppose this has anythin’ ta do with you sneakin’ away from the group earlier, now does it?”
Twilight fumbled her hooves together awkwardly. “That obvious, huh? At least I came right back…”
“Chickened out, huh?” Applejack sighed, placing a hoof on her friend’s shoulder. “Saw her runnin’ away when we were comin’ for ya, that got anythin’ ta do with it?”
“Yeah,” Twilight sighed. She dropped her mug back on the table, nervously rubbing her neck. “Well, to be perfectly blunt, what would you do if your…” Twilight froze. “What would you do if somepony you knew thought you knew a secret of theirs, even if you didn’t? What if they were mad at you? None of my books can answer that.”
Applejack chuckled. “Listen here, Twi. Ah’ll admit, books are a gateway to a whole buncha worlds. When harvest season’s over and done with, ah don’t mind crackin’ open some Hucklemarey Finn myself. But be that as it may, books can’t tell ya everythin’. And the number one thing that proves that rule is…”
“It doesn’t teach interstellar physics?” Twilight intoned.
“No!” Applejack paused at her outburst, clearing her throat. “No, hon. Books aren’t gonna teach ya ‘bout the matters of the heart. That’s just somethin’ you have to discover for yerself.”
“But…” Twilight started, “I’ve already screwed up once, and I didn’t even do anything! What if I just make everything worse?”
Applejack shook her head. “Twi, look at me. C’mon, now.” The earth pony watched as her friend slowly turned towards her. “Good. Now listen here, and answer me this: Where’s tha mare that charged a hydra head on? The mare that defeated an Ursa Minor like it was nothin’? And let’s not forget, the mare who walked straight up ta me not long after our first encounter with Trixie and told me you were feelin’ oddly, somethin’ your books couldn’t explain neither then nor now. Ya trusted me to keep that a secret from everypony else, and ya trusted me ta give ya advice. Well, now yer gonna have ta trust me again.”
Applejack watched her friend’s face, smiling as the unicorn returned the grin and nodded. “And one more thing. Whether this works out or not, you two can still be friends, right?” Another nod. “And no matter what, yer always gonna have us by yer side. Just remember that.”
Applejack removed her hoof from her friend‘s shoulder, stretching. “Tell ya what, ah’m about ready to hit the hay right here and now if ah don’t get back at bed soon. Ah know Trixie’s got ya upset, but let’s get back up to bed and get some much-needed rest, ’kay? We can talk more in tha morning.”
Twilight nodded, wrapping her arms around her friend. “Thanks, Applejack. I needed that. Sorry for waking you up.”
“Not a problem, sugahcube,” Applejack said as she returned the gesture. “C’mon, the night’s slippin’ away.” The earth pony released her friend and yawned, hopping up off the couch. “Catch me before I go to the stands tomorrow, I got an offer for ya.”
“Yep; ain’t nothin’ special, but it might help keep yer mind busy ’till we can find Trixie again.”
Twilight nodded, standing up. “Sounds good to me. See ya tomorrow?”
Applejack started walking to the stairs, making sure her friend was following. “See ya tomorrow.”
The two mares headed upstairs, bidding each other sweet dreams. The scrambling of a blue pegasus fleeing back to her room, stuffing her blanket with pillows, and escaping out the window went completely unnoticed.
Tap. Tap tap.
At first, nothing stirred on the other side of the window. Then, ever so slowly, a pegasus stepped into view. The mare crept forward, raising a hoof to unlock the window. Rubbing sleep out of her eyes, the pony smiled. “Dashie? Is it time yet?”
Rainbow Dash shushed the pony. “First thing’s first, Flutters. Rarity’s sawing logs?”
Fluttershy nodded, pointing to her side. Dash perched on the windowsill and looked inside, spotting her fashionista friend donning her favorite eye mask and mumbling into her bed’s pillow. “Perfect.” Rainbow Dash turned back to her friend, frowning. “I don’t think I can meet up with you tonight, Fluttershy. Sorry.”
Fluttershy’s smile fell, her head leaning downwards. Rainbow Dash waved her forelegs around, waving off her response. “Hold on now, I have a reason!” she hissed. “Look, I’ll make it up to you tomorrow, okay?”
The yellow pegasus lifted her head back up, a smile back on her lips. “It’s okay, Dashie. Please don‘t worry about me.” She smiled a little wider. “Oh, well… if it isn’t too much trouble, of course, I wouldn’t mind trying a few attractions I saw…”
Rainbow Dash looked into Fluttershy’s eyes, recognizing the little sparkle that always appeared when the pegasus was happy; it was the spark that Dash always wanted to see. “You know it. We’ll get up bright and early, ‘kay?”
“Good,” Rainbow Dash whispered. She extended her arms, letting Fluttershy step into them and return the hug. They stayed that way for a moment, unwilling to break apart. Still, nighttime was flying by, and Rainbow Dash had places to be. She pulled back, gently stroking Fluttershy’s hair. “See ya tomorrow?”
In response, Fluttershy shot forward and planted a kiss on Rainbow’s forehead. “Of course.”
“Time to get going, then.” Rainbow released the pegasus, leaning back on the windowsill to prepare to take off. A mischievous grin lit her face as she quickly changed direction, pecking Fluttershy on the lips. Just as she expected, she was rewarded with one of her trademark blushes. “Catch ya later, Flutters.” And with that, Rainbow let herself fall out the window, extending her wings to catch the night’s breeze under them.
Turning back just long enough to spot her red-faced friend waving goodbye and shutting the window, Rainbow Dash flew upwards. Soon enough, the city lay sprawled out in front of her, nearly devoid of anypony out and about at this hour. “Now, where is it,” she mumbled to herself. “Twilight said something once about it being one of the tallest buildings in… aha!”
Out in the distance, Rainbow Dash spotted the smooth marble surface of a lit-up hotel. All it took was a glance at the winged pony statues adorning its sides in order to recognize it. Changing her course, Rainbow burst in flight, smirking. “Pegasus Plaza, here I come!”
“C’mon, Rainbow Dash, somepony must have mentioned it at some point. Think, think, think… 201A? B? C? Maybe D? No, E! That‘s it.”
Rainbow Dash came to a stop in the middle of the hallway, turning to the door beside her. “Yep, that’s the place.” Stepping forward, the pegasus gave a few quick knocks on the door.
Moments passed, but nopony came to answer. Frowning, Rainbow Dash knocked again, harder this time. Yet again, her knocking went unnoticed. Starting to get peeved, she began rapping on the door fiercely. “C’mon, you Great and Powerful snob, open up!” She muttered to herself.
Nopony answered. Rainbow Dash sighed, rubbing a hoof down her face. Celestia help me, the one time I actually want to talk to this blowhard and she’s blowing me off, she thought. I may have snuck out too late to hear everything that AJ and Twi were chattin’ about, but I heard enough to know Twi and Trix are fighting or something. Trixie may be a pain in the flank, but I’d be the last pony to let my friend be upset. Lowering her hoof, she glared at the door again. Trixie’s not going to make this easy, though, is she? Can’t believe I blew off a date with Flutters for this…
Not ready to give in yet, Rainbow beat her hoof against the door. “Trixie!” She called out. “Open up!”
Rainbow felt something poking at her shoulder. She wheeled around, coming face to face with a frizzy-haired pink unicorn. “Some ponies would like to get some sleep,” she hissed, glaring at the noisy pegasus. “Mind keeping it down, hmm?”
Rainbow Dash rubbed her mane awkwardly. “Uh… sorry ‘bout that.” Not waiting to hear the response, she trotted down the hall, entering the stairwell and beginning her descent to the lobby.
Alright, slow down, Dash, she told herself as she reached the lobby. Maybe Trixie’s just out somewhere. Of course, it can’t hurt to check, right? Crossing through the main area of the hotel, Rainbow Dash took the exit and found herself back outside. Picking up the pace a little, she ran forward and flapped her wings, taking to the skies again.
She rose, making sure to stay in the vicinity of Pegasus Plaza. Taking a lap around the building, she rose until she was about even with the floor she’d just been on. She scanned the windows, watching for a certain room to pop into view. Eventually, she found what she hoped was her destination.
She peeked inside, noting first of all that the lights were on. “Hmmph. That’s not boding well.” She rubbed her chin, sweeping her eyes over the room. “She is getting a lot of bang for her buck though, I’ll give her that.”
Continuing her investigation, she flew along the window until she came across another one. She peeked inside, smiling at her success as she spotted a familiar blue unicorn laying in bed with her head buried underneath a pillow.
Rainbow Dash blinked. Is she really trying to block me out? she wondered, eyeing Trixie. Dash raised a hoof up, reaching to tap on the glass.
And stopped. “You know what?” she said aloud, “to hay with this. If she wants to ignore me, so be it. Nopony can say I didn’t try.” She dropped her hoof down, sighing. “I’ll find some way to make things up to Twi too, I guess.”
Rainbow Dash shot Trixie one last hard look. With a huff, she turned herself around, heading back to the house she’d come from. She left Pegasus Plaza behind as she flew back over Canterlot, heading home for some much-needed sleep.
“C’mon Dash, time to get sneaky. You got this, it’s all you!”
Rainbow Dash looked back in her bedroom window, eyeing the orange pony sound asleep in the second bed. Her eyes drifted farther to the right and settled on her goal: the incredibly comfy (though not as comfy as a cloud) blue-covered bed that’d been provided for her. Flying over Canterlot may have sped up the trip considerably, but the big city still required a long flight, and Dash was exhausted. Now, all she had to do was get back inside without waking anypony.
Taking a deep breath, Rainbow Dash leaned forward and lifted the window up. Making sure to take her time, she raised it up until it was just big enough to let her squeeze through. Once inside, she gently shut the window, turning to tiptoe over to her bed.
The pegasus flinched, glancing down to spot the body of a rubber chicken poking out from under her bed. So that’s where the chicken Pinkie said she lost went, Dash realized. …How’d it get down the-
Rainbow Dash ducked behind her bed as Applejack raised a hoof up. Peeking over the edge, Rainbow watched as her friend scratched at her ear. Remaining absolutely still, the pegasus let out a sigh of relief as her friend dropped her hoof back down. Taking the opportunity, Rainbow Dash stood back up and slipped into bed, shoving her makeshift pillow dummy aside. Aw yea, I’ve got the skills! she praised herself, shutting her eyes tight for a well-deserved rest.
“Where ya been, sugahcube?”
The pegasus let out a string of unintelligible words, flopping clumsily out of bed and onto the floor. She squirmed, struggling to break free of the blanket she’d managed to take down with her, until she managed to poke her head out. A smirking Applejack greeted her. “Well howdy to you too,” Applejack teased.
“Uh… ‘sup, AJ?” Rainbow Dash replied, standing back up. “What’re you doing up?”
Applejack yawned. “Prolly wasn’t mah best idea to grab some cider; it’s definitely the good stuff, but it keeps me awake somethin’ fierce.” She raised an eyebrow. “Now, if ya’d kindly not bother trying to change the subject?”
“Er…” Rainbow Dash gulped, glancing back and forth shiftily. “I just went out to get some air, let the wings breathe. Is that a crime, now?”
“No, but lying to your friend certainly is.” Applejack chuckled, watching her roommate’s face flush with color. “Now, now, don’t worry yerself none, what you do isn’t none a’ my business.”
Rainbow Dash blinked. “Really?” She shook her her head quickly. “I mean, yeah, really! So, can we go to bed now?”
Rainbow groaned, faceplanting into her bed. “Whai nawt?” she asked, the covers muffling her speech.
“It won’t take long, ah promise. Ah just need your help with somethin’,” Applejack assured her.
Rainbow Dash eyed her curiously, pulling her head up and resting it on her hoof. “Yeah? And what’s that?”
Applejack beckoned for her to lean in closer, lowering her voice in order to respond. “Twi’s in a bit of a jam with Trix, iffin’ ya didn’t know already. With yer help, maybe we could help them work things out.”
Rainbow Dash cross her arms, thinking. Well, it would be a good way to make it up to Twi. She gazed downwards. But is it worth putting up with Trixie again? Eyeing Applejack again, Rainbow Dash shrugged. “I’ll think about it. In the meantime, what’s the plan?”
Applejack smiled. “It isn’t fancy; in fact, all ya gotta do is tell a certain somepony where to go. Now listen closely, cause you and I both know we’re achin’ for some sleep.”
The pegasus nodded, leaning in close to listen as her friend began whispering. Rainbow Dash paid attention, nodding as Applejack gave her details.