Rainbow Dash entered the library cautiously, well aware that Twilight Sparkle had a tendency to practice spells in the main area and not wanting to disturb her two days before the big party. Fortunately, her egghead companion seemed to be doing research, what with the books floating around and all the notes she was taking. The pegasus smiled, bracing herself. Get in, give her the plans, get out. That was all she needed.
"Hey there Twi!"
"Oh! Hey Dash. What brings you here?" The librarian put down her pen. "Have you finally come to embrace the art form that is true study?"
"....actually I need your help. See, Thursday I have to be somewhere--"
"That barn thing Spike told me about?"
Rainbow blinked. "...Yes. Aaaanyway, the thing is there's a new cloud shipment coming in on the same day, and it needs to be properly arranged." She glanced at the ceiling. "Now, since I'm the regional weathermare I'd usually have it done quicker then you could say kumquats, but--"
"But since you'll be in the barn all day you want me to take over?" Twilight grinned. "I think I can handle that."
"Great! Here's the plans." The weathermare pulled a stack of sheets from her saddlebags. "I don't usually do checklists, but I tried to get everything so you could get it. I'll just tell the weather crew what's up." Yes! That had been easy.
"Hmmm... er, Rainbow, what do these lines mean?"
"Lines?" The pegasus looked over her friend's shoulder. "Oh, those are pressure fronts."
"Oh! So it's wind."
Rainbow Dash gave a half-hearted smile. "Yeah. Well, not exactly, but you're only going to be handling the thing for a day. I think I can clean up any mess you make."
Twilight gave her a deadpan look. "Rainbow Dash, since when have I ever made messes?"
"Gala tickets. Gala dresses. The Gala itself. Smarty Pants, the parasprites, I heard about a lot of Winter Wrap Up shenanigans..."
"Alright already, I get it." The unicorn snorted. "I'll be careful."
Dash smirked, nudging her friend playfully. "Relax, I was just screwing with ya."
"How a pony like you ever got into weather management I'll never know...." Twilight tilted her head. "Actually, how did you get into weather anyway? It seems so out of character for you."
The librarian gestured with a hoof. "I mean, you're Rainbow Dash, fastest flier in Equestria. You're always doing stunts or... napping. But weather needs a precise hoof and quite frankly takes a lot of study to manage. It's a complete oxymoron!"
The pegasus looked at her, an unusually contemplative expression on her face. Well.... she didn't need to know the whole story, and it would be good to get this out in the air....
After a moment, Rainbow Dash sat down next to Twilight Sparkle. "Well... see, it started when my family cut me off."
The unicorn's eyes shot wide. "Your family did what?!"
"Hey, I deserved it!" The pegasus shrugged. "I was a complete brat, didn't care about anything but me, wrecked lots of my parent's stuff... they tried sending me to flight camp to learn discipline, but that backfired. Like hard." She laughed and shook her head. "So they kicked me out, and for the first time in my life I actually had to rely on my skills. Like before, I'd just assume I could do anything, but now I had to prove it. I spent about a week and a half on the streets before I actually considered working for money."
"Wow. That's... that's harsh." Twilight wrapped a hoof around her neck. "I'm sorry you had to go through that."
Rainbow looked directly into her eyes. "I'm not. In Cloudsdale, pushing clouds is a hobo job. No requirements, just obey your superiors. That's where I started. That's where I learned the value of hard work." She tapped the ground empatheticly. "That's how I grew up, I mean really grew up. I worked my way up the ladder. I earned this position. I bought my own home. I've made up with my family, don't worry," she added, "but you have to understand; before they kicked me out I expected everything on a silver platter just because I was awesome. I don't resent it, and I certainly don't regret it."
She smiled and bumped her shoulder against Twilight. "And hey, if it had never happened I'd never have met you, right?"
The unicorn blinked. Then, slowly, a smile grew on her face. "Wow. That's... yeah, you're right."
After a moment, though, she adopted a sly expression. "So you were a hobo?"
The pegasus laughed. "Cardboard box and everything, filly! Heck, I still have the box if you ever want to see it."
"I'll take your word for it."
Rarity looked up from her work as the door jingled, eyes widening when she saw who it was. "Applejack! Darling, whatever happened to you?"
The farmer merely glanced up, her gaze unfocused, and wandered over to the dresses. It was clear she wasn't looking at them so much as looking at them. In Rarity's mind the distinction was quite important; ponies looked at dresses when they wanted to be pretty, but looking at dresses only happened when a pony was seriously considering their self image.
Without a moment's hesitation, the fashionista trotted over to her friend's side. "You know you can tell me anything, AJ. I promise not to judge you."
"Ha..." Applejack smirked. "Right. Ah can't, Rares, I Pinkie Pie promised...."
After a moment, though, the earth pony turned to her friend. "What would ya'll say a pony is?"
Rarity paused. "Well... hmmm, that is a tough question. Someponies say they are the end result of their cutie mark, and others say they are the result of their background... and both of those are important. But in the end, a pony is more defined by their actions then by where they came from, by their experiences and achievements."
"Yeah.... that's what Ah thought too..."
The fashionista looked at the farmer. "...Sometimes a pony will find something out about their past they didn't know. But that only changes circumstances, never who they are."
Applejack reflected on the words. Then she nodded to herself.
"....Rarity, Ah need a dress. Bah Thursday morning."
"Oh, well certainly!" The unicorn smiled, glancing around. "It's a rather sudden order, mind you, but I'm sure I can modify one of these outfits--"
"It needs ta be frou frou. Like, yah know, them rich ponies up in Canterlot? And yah know what, Ah think Ah'll want ya ta style mah mane as well. And make up, right, that's girly too."
Rarity blinked. "Ah.... that is, um, certainly an unusual request, darling."
Applejack turned to her with an unexpectedly dark smile. "Rainbow Dash is being a very silly pony. Ah intend ta show her that."
"What?" The fashionista was scrambling to process this. "Is this something to do with her sudden crush on me?"
"Wait, Rainbow has a crush on ya? When did this happen?"
The door jingled again. Both of them turned, eyes landing on a cerulean earth pony whose multicolored mane was tied up in a bun. The filly gave them a bit of an awkward smile. "I'm sorry if I'm interrupting anything, darlings, but I heard that the Carousal Boutique had simply the most dashing outfits and, well, I'm in need of something new."