“Fresh apple turnovers y’all!” Get ‘em while they’re hot!” the country mare exclaimed as she rang the bell on her cart. Several ponies flocked over to purchase the farm fresh pastries. As the crowd diminished, Rarity approached; the white equine was dressed in the same pink gown she wore the day of the Grand Galloping Gala. She sported the same earrings and crown as well. Applejack smiled at her friend.
“Same outfit? Ain’t that a fashion crime?” the orange mare joked.
“Only at the same event darling, plus, with the prince’s new attitude, he can observe my handiwork in all its fine glory… minus the cake stains which, mind you, took ages to get out!”
“Awful lotta dressin’ up and preparation for a pony ya’ll ain’t that interested in.”
“Oh stop, Applejack. I just pulled this old thing out of the closet, I’d been looking for an excuse to wear it once more, and now I have one.”
“If’in ya say so. Whatchall doin’ here anyway? Ain’t he s’posed to be pickin’ ya up soon?”
“Something came up,” Rarity admitted uneasily. “I received a letter from him this morning saying he couldn’t make it, so he generously offered to court me in Canterlot.”
Applejack raised a brow at the unicorn. “So he sent ya a letter sayin’ he couldn’t make it, and now he’s makin’ ya go all the way out to Canterlot so HE can have a second chance?”
“You don’t have to make it sound so negative.”
“Is he at least payin’ for yer ticket there?”
“He’s… going to pay me back when I arrive.” Rarity mentioned averting her gaze from the country mare. Applejack scoffed and rubbed her head.
“Don’t ya’ll see what’s happenin’?”
“Applejack, please, I know it seems a tad bit suspicious.”
“It’s downright fishy! Did he even tell y’all why he couldn’t come to Ponyville?”
“Well… no, but I’m sure there’s a good reason.”
Applejack shook her head almost as if she was ashamed in the unicorn.
“Darling, why else would he have come all the way to Ponyville yesterday simply to apologize? Let’s be fair about this, he put in the effort to come see me, I don’t mind returning the favor.”
“Ya’ll weren’t the one actin’ like a huge pain in the a-”
“Ugh… fine…” Applejack submitted as a disapproving pout washed over her face.
“Anyway, I was hoping to purchase some apple turnovers from you for my train ride. How much for a half dozen?”
Applejack put six of the delicious pastries in a small bag and placed it in front of the unicorn.
“On the house, sugarcube.”
“Applejack, I can’t ju-”
“It’s fine hun, just have fun, and don’t forget about the date ya promised me. You will be back in time won’t ya?”
“Of course, darling, a trip to the spa with my special somepony? I wouldn’t miss it for anything else in the world.”
Applejack sighed. “The spa… whoodoggy.” the country mare said unenthusiastically.
“Oh, you know you love it!”
The unicorn smiled and used her magic to gently place the bag of pastries in her saddle bag. She winked at her friend and started her walk towards the train station. Applejack smiled and before the unicorn fully disappeared she called out to her.
“Have a safe trip hun!”
Twilight walked up just in time to see to whom Applejack was talking. “What’s she all dressed up for this time?”
“She’s got a date with Prince Blueblood.”
Twilight raised an eyebrow at the earth pony. “Are you talking about that mean, disrespectful, impolite, meager, self-centered, uptight colt that was extremely rude to Rarity last year at the Gala?
“The one and the same, sugarcube.”
“Why in Equestria would she be going on a date with him?”
“Well, he was here yesterday lookin’ fer her, and apparently he came to apologize and make it up to her. So bein’ the ‘generous’ pony she is, she thought it fittin’ to give him a chance to show he’s changed.”
“Wait, but I thought…” Twilight paused for a second as her brain carefully danced around her words. “…you and Rarity…?”
“It ain’t nothin’ like that hun, she’s just bein’ nice to him. Somethin’ bout helpin’ him clear his conscience.” Applejack said as she shrugged and rolled her eyes.
“Oh! Well that’s nice of her. Still, you seemed kind of concerned.”
“I… well… it’s nothin’”
“Applejack…” the purple mare accused.
“It’s just that he came here all sorry like and said he was gonna take her on a date here in Ponyville, but this mornin’ he sent a letter sayin’ he couldn’t make it and that she should come to Canterlot. I just think it’s a bit shady, is all.
“That does seem rather peculiar.”
“Rarity says I’m just being jealous… I don’t know, maybe I am.” the country mare sighed and lowered her head, “I just don’t want her hurtin’ like last time Twi.”
“You care about her a lot Applejack, nothing’s wrong with that.”
Applejack raised her head and smiled. It appeared Twilight had become much more accepting since the sleepover.
“Yeah, I do really care fer her.”
“A little jealousy is natural. At the same time, everybody deserves a second chance. Don’t let your overprotectiveness get in the way of things. It will lead to a road of passive aggression which will cause a serious wedge in your friendship.”
“Which one of them books didja get that out of?”
“Dr. Marriot’s Manuscript on Mare Mayhem in Relationships.”
Applejack chuckled. “Why do ya’ll even need a book like that Twi?”
“What? My brother’s married now. This book is useful anytime he and Cadence have a fight. Twilight blushed as she hesitantly started to admit another reason. “And I might find a special somepony one day and it’s always good to be prepared ahead of time. But it’s mainly for Cadence and my brother!”
“Can’t she just use her lovey dovey unicorn magic whenever they fight?”
“Yeah… well… I… it’s still useful!” the purple mare exclaimed as she blushed.
Applejack snickered at the unicorn’s transparent innocent smile.
Rarity stepped off the train and glanced around. The station was relatively empty save for the hustle and bustle of a few other passengers and work ponies, but no sign of Blueblood. She frowned disappointedly at the thought of having to look for him. The unicorn took the last apple turnover from her bag and ate it. As she chewed, she tossed the empty bag in the nearest garbage can using her magic. A voice suddenly rang through the air behind her.
“Rarity, you came!”
Rarity choked a little, finished chewing and swallowed as she turned around to greet the prince. She cleared her throat.
“Prince Blueblood, you startled me!”
“Please, just call me, Blue. After the way I acted towards you, I have no right to be addressed in such a formal fashion. Plus, Blue is more appropriate and intimate for today’s plans.”
“Oh, alright.” the unicorn smiled slightly, “So, Blue, where to?”
“Well, I was originally thinking, dinner, dancing, and a lovely walk through the garden. But, then I thought, how selfish of me, the lady should decide what she would like to do.”
As much as Rarity didn’t want them to, her cheeks flushed red with admiration. This wasn’t anything like the Prince she met at the Gala; he was starting to sound more like the colt about whom she used to dream.
“Well, all of those sound lovely, actually.”
Blue whistled; a regal carriage being pulled by three royal guards came to escort the two unicorns. “Shall we?”
The white mare smiled and nodded. As she approached the carriage to open the door, Prince Blueblood put his hoof in front of her.
“Allow me,” he said as he opened the door using his magic, then gesturing the white mare to enter, “Ladies first.”
Rarity’s cheeks flared a brighter red and she emitted a slight giggle as she stepped inside the carriage. Blueblood followed, and as he closed the door, the horses took off.
Applejack sighed as she sat in the hot tub. She had been staring at the door for what seemed like forever. The only time her gaze changed was to monitor the clock while pondering the location of her unicorn pal. The earth pony sighed again and made a gentle splash with her hoof, she grazed it against the water’s surface gently, and watched the ripples travel until they dissipated. She gazed back up at the door, yearning for it to open.
“Where are you, Rarity?”
Two twin earth ponies, the first, Lotus, with blue fur and a pink mane and tail, and the other, Aloe, with pink fur and a blue mane and tail approached the country mare.
“Ms. Applejack? We’re about to close dear,” the blue pony said softly.
Applejack kept her focus on the door as if mentally begging it to open; praying she hadn’t been forgotten at this point, or that Rarity was ok was enough to soothe her. But the door didn’t budge. It just sat there taunting and teasing her, basking in its lack of fulfillment that brought the earth pony so much sorrow. Applejack looked at the two earth ponies and sighed.
“Is everything ok? Was the mineral bath not to your liking?” Aloe inquired.
“No, everythin’ was great. I was just… watin’ fer somepony…”
Applejack stepped out of the bath and smiled as Lotus and Aloe generously dried her off. Before she proceeded to leave,
Aloe stepped in front of her and smiled.
“I’m sure she has a good reason, Applejack. She wouldn’t miss a trip to the spa unless it was really important.”
Applejack gave a slight smirk of gratitude, then just as quickly her face formed a frown.
“Honestly sugarcube, that’s exactly what I’m afraid of…”
“And then, he kissed me goodnight! On the hoof, just like a gentlecolt, of course. It’s as if he’s a brand new pony Twilight!”
“I’m glad to hear you had a good time. It’s great that you guys were able to end things on good terms. How’d your date with Applejack go?”
“Oh, um…” Rarity blushed as her mood deflated slightly, remembering that she had forgotten her date with Applejack.
“You didn’t forget about her did you?”
“You should probably go apologize to her. She was worried about you.”
“Worried? What ever for?”
A knock on the door came. Twilight used her magic to open it and Applejack poked her head through before entering.
“Twi, can I talk to yo--” the orange equine started before seeing Rarity standing before her, “Oh, well howdy there.”
The white mare walked over to Applejack sporting curled lips and innocent eyes.
“Darling, I’m soooo sorry I forgot about our date last night.”
Applejack turned away. “It’s fine, I only sat in that there mineral water ‘til the spa closed.”
Rarity frowned and walked in front of her as she continued to explain. “It’s just, we had dinner, then we went for a walk and one conversation just led to the next, and Blue and I star–”
“Whoa whoa whoa whoa… ya call him Blue now?”
“I… well, yes.” Rarity admitted. She licked her lips nervously noticing a slight sense of fury generating from the earth pony “By his request.” She added.
“Movin’ pretty fast there ain’t ya princess?”
The orange mare glared into the white unicorn’s shock and hurt filled eyes and sighed. She couldn’t stay mad at the unicorn even if she wanted.
“Ah, I’m sorry sugarcube. I guess I just missed ya and got a lil worried is all.”
“No, I’m the one who’s sorry, I told you I would be somewhere at a certain time and I wasn’t. Forgive me?”
“Yer not gettin’ off that easy. Y’all gon have to make it up to me.” the orange mare nuzzled her friend, “So, how’s bout a make-up date today?”
The unicorn bit her lip. “Erm… I can’t, darling.”
Applejack pulled away and frowned. “Why not?”
“I have to finish that outfit for Lady Zsa Zsa. Afterwards, I need to work on three new dresses for Sapphire Shores.”
“How long will all that take?”
“I’ll probably be pretty busy for the next week or so.”
“Well, maybe ah can help? I know I ain’t too good with that doggone sewin’ machine, but maybe I can be yer live manny-kin like last time.” the earth pony said as her eyes glimmered with hope.
“Thanks Applejack, but, I… it’s really something I’m better off doing alone.”
Applejack sighed and gently rubbed her hoof against the ground.
“You understand, don’t you darling?
“Yeah, I guess.”
The unicorn placed a gentle kiss on her friend’s cheek forcing the earth pony’s lips to curve into a slight smile as she blushed. “Thank you, I’ll see you later Applejack. Bye Twilight.”
“Ah love you, darling.” Applejack said smiling as the unicorn walked away. Rarity stopped, she didn’t reply, she just turned her head slightly, smiled, and then continued walking.
Applejack frowned and her mouth hung open, stunned by the unicorn’s lack of reply.
“That doesn’t seem like a good sign.” The purple equine stated as her face was buried in her relationship book.
“Ya saw it too?”
“You bet I did.”
“I didn’t think I was crazy, she ain’t say she lov-“
“You are letting your insecurities get the best of you, Applejack.”
“Ah.... huh…. wha…. pardon?”
“When you said: ‘It’s fine, I only sat in the mineral water until the spa closed’ and ‘Movin a little fast there ain’t ya princess’. Those were one hundred percent, passive aggressive statements.” Twilight flipped to the next page, “ These are statements that, on the surface, seem harmless, but have an underlying tone of resentment to them.”
“Wha… what about her? She ain’t say she loved me back. She always says she loves me back!”
“Well, after your personal attack on her, she subconsciously felt the need to retaliate, and the best, and most common, way is to withhold statements of affection.” the purple unicorn stated as she referenced her book.
“Without knowing it, your passive aggression caused her to retaliate with her own. You need to control your jealousy or it’ll turn into an emotional war that will terminate your relationship!”
“That book is startin’ to sound like a buncha hooey!”
“I don’t know Applejack, Dr. Marriot’s logic seems to fit here don’t you think?”
Applejack let out a deep sigh. She lowered her head, staring at the ground for what seemed like ages as she contemplated Twilight’s words.
“Maybe yer right…” the country equine raised her head and smiled, “maybe I am just gettin’ all worked up for nothin’.”
“Books have never let me down before.” Twilight exclaimed proudly.
“And, she seemed fine right? Ah mean, she didn’t say anythin’ bad happened yesterday?”
“Nope, she actually had a great time. As I understand it, she just got caught up in conversation and was planning to go apologize to you for missing your date. ”
“Aw shucks, and ah was bein’ more stubborn than a rattle snake wrapped round a ragin’ bull horn.” Applejack stamped the ground as she recalled how petty she must’ve sounded. “Thanks Twi, I needa go make this right!”
The earth pony sprinted out the door towards Rarity’s home, the words of her apology already stirring in her heart in hopes that she hadn’t emotionally pushed her unicorn friend away.
“Rarity!” her voice bellowed through the air, startling the unicorn.
Rarity turned around swiftly, gasping at the oncoming orange equine. “Applejack?! What are you doing here?”
“I…” Applejack swallowed and took a few seconds to catch her breath, “…I came to apologize. When ya didn’t show up yesterday I got worried. I over reacted at Twi’s pl–”
“It’s quite alright darling.” Rarity said as she cut off her friend and eyed her surroundings nervously.
“So ya forgive me?”
“Of course, of course. I should be going now though.”
“Are ya sure? Ya seem like yer a bit ticked at me.”
“Oh no, no it’s just that I have so much work to ca-”
“Miss Rarity,” the sultry voice of Prince Blueblood causing a shiver down the white mare’s spine, “Are you packed and ready?”
Applejack almost caught a case of whiplash as her glances fluctuated between the two unicorns. “Pardon?”
“Applejack…” Rarity started.
“This lovely lady and I had such a great time yesterday that we decided to make plans for another get together. I mentioned a weekend trip to Fillydelphia and she humbly obliged.”
“Ahem, um Blue?”
“I need to speak with Applejack for a second. Would you mind?”
“Not at all, my lady.”
Rarity opened the door to her house and she gestured Applejack to come inside noticing the gleam of betrayal that plagued
her emerald eyes. The unicorn closed the door and shifted uncomfortably as the earth pony just stared at her, unable to make a sound.
“I know how this must look darling, but I promise you I have an explanation.”
“He’s nothing like the pony he was last year. He’s completely refined himself! He’s caring, considerate, a gentlecolt.
“Everythin’ you used to dream of him bein’.”
“Right, and I had such a good time with him, I just…” Rarity bit her lip and tenderly rubbed her hooves together “… wanted to make sure it was real. So I agreed on this trip to see.”
“And if it is real?” the orange equine said as she cast a glance toward the ground in fear of an honest answer.
“Wh-what do you mean?”
“What’s gonna happen with us?”
Rarity choked on her words as the struggled to come up. The tension in the air was thicker than molasses. She bit her lower lip as the words danced delicately from her mouth.“We can… still be friends…”
A spark of heartbreak seeped its way into Applejack’s eyes, coinciding with the betrayal that found home there earlier. Her deepest fears she had been harboring since yesterday all of a sudden confirmed. She swallowed hard as she tried to hold back tears and slowly spit out her next words.
“Why’d ya lie to me?”
“Bout everythin’!” Applejack roared staring directly into the unicorn’s eyes as tears fled from her own. “Ya said ya never felt as strongly towards anypony ‘cept ME. Ya kissed ME. Ya said ya loved ME!
“And I do love you Applejack. But, this is everything I’ve dreamed of. Please try to understand.”
“How can ya’ll even ask me to understand somethin’ like this? Yer tellin’ me that everythin’ we been through meant nothin’?”
“Applejack, aside from kissing and a few deep conversations, it’s hardly been much of anything.”
The orange equines muscles tightened. Her heart pounded heavily and she took a deep breath as she felt her insides grow hot. She gritted her teeth trying to hold back the urge to pounce Rarity. The unicorn gave her a stern look.
“If you really cared about me, you would at least try to see my perspective on this.”
Applejack masked a low growl from her throat. She stamped a hoof on the ground to regain composure. Her mind raced with thoughts of pummeling the unicorn, kicking her face in until she physically felt the pain Applejack felt emotionally.
Rarity timidly approached the country mare and gently nuzzled her cheek. “Applejack, please say something…”
The country equine closed her eyes as the tears streamed. Steam discharged from her nose with each deep breath she took. The elegant unicorn’s touch no longer brought her comfort and joy, at the moment it was brining anguish and rage. The urge to bash the unicorn into oblivion grew stronger and Applejack knew if she didn’t leave soon, she’d end up doing something she’d regret. She took another giant inhale, held it for two seconds, and released. She wiped away her tears and looked Rarity in the eyes.
“So, you do understand?”
Applejack swiftly turned and headed towards the front door. Rarity rushed to block her path she curled her lips and looked around timidly before looking at the earth pony.
“Are you mad at me?”
The country mare looked again into the unicorn’s azure colored eyes. The usual gleam of beauty and innocence that she used to see was now nothing more than the vindictiveness of a shifty prima donna whose only desire was to give freely from her heart as long as it fulfilled her requirements. Element of Generosity never sounded so disgusting and vile in Applejack’s head.
“Applejack, please don’t be mad at me. I couldn’t bear it.”
Applejack cast an apathetic gaze at her and said nothing. An angry frown formed on Rarity’s face.
“Fine! Be mad! But I hope you know you’re being very inconsiderate and mean!”
Despite her mind raging with nasty words, the country equine kept her mouth closed and simply preceded out the front door passing Blueblood on her way. The colt bowed to her as she walked.
“Nice seeing you again, Miss Applejack.”
Rarity scoffed as she stared daggers at the disappearing country mare.
“Is everything alright, Rarity?”
“Everything is divine, Blue. Let me just get my things, and we can go.”