The pieces are all in place, and it is time to take the leap, brave stallion. In Step Seven, you will finally ask your lady on a date.
Since this will be your first truly romantic period of time together, it is essential that you do everything in your power to keep it as easy going and as unintimidating as possible. You want your mare to feel relaxed with you, not as if she is being made to act the part of the princess (as much as you might view her as one!).
Of course, every mare is different. There are those who will wish to be treated more like a princess, and others who prefer to be treated more like "one of the colts". By now, you already know your mare well enough to ascertain where she falls on this spectrum, and can use that to come up with an ideal activity for your first date.
This activity should be something you both enjoy, to encourage conversation. It can be as simple as a nice meal at a restaurant you both favor, or as complicated as a full day of planned adventuring. When in doubt as to what to choose that will suit you both, make sure you err on the side what your lady would prefer.
In this chapter, we will discuss how to plan your first date, and the various ways in which you might approach your mare to ask her on one. Finally, we will conclude the chapter by analyzing what may have gone wrong if her answer is no, and how to muster enough courage to pick yourself up and try again.
The sun hadn't even set all the way below the horizon yet, but Spike had already given up on the day. His body lay buried under several blankets in bed, where he was currently curled up into a fetal position.
I hurt her. I hurt Rarity. How could I ever let myself do that?
He shivered, already knowing the answer. An image floated up through his mind: Ponyville, in shambles. His own greed, destroying everything around him that he cared about. And Rarity, kissing him on the cheek, telling him how proud she was…
She forgave me back then. I ruined everything and she forgave me. I swore I'd never act like I did that day, ever again.
But I did.
I don't deserve to be forgiven.
Spike curled up even tighter, squeezing himself into the tiniest ball he could manage.
Somehow, he must've fallen asleep, because the next thing Spike knew, it was dark. His head was still under the blankets, but instead of seeing the faint glow of the setting sun through the fabric, everything was pitch black. He rubbed at his eyes, and sat up to look over and check if Twilight was in bed. She wasn't.
What time is it?
He felt around for his pocket watch until remembering he'd left it in his storage closet a couple of days ago.
A soft murmuring attracted Spike's attention. It sounded like voices. Does Twilight have other ponies over? Spike wondered, getting up and heading towards the staircase. The voices got louder as he walked. Pinkie Pie was the first voice he could hear loud enough to identify, though he couldn't quite make out what she was saying. He started down the stairs just as another voice joined in.
"Y'know, the advice in this book ain't half bad. Some of it's downright terrible, sure, but ah think the bigger problem's that even the good advice in here just ain't right for them two."
Applejack's here, too? Spike paused on the stairs. Is she reading my book? His face went red.
"I agree," Spike heard Twilight say. Her voice was kept low, just as Applejack's was. "Spike just wouldn't listen to me."
Spike hung his head.
Pinkie Pie spoke next. "I just feel really, really bad. Poor little Spike. He was really trying, too."
Spike sucked in a big breath and finished walking down the stairs before anypony could add anything further.
"Oh! Hi, Spike!" Pinkie greeted him as soon as he was within their line of sight.
"Uh…hi," he said awkwardly. Twilight, Pinkie, and Applejack sat on the wooden floor of the library, along with Fluttershy.
"How're you doing?" Twilight stood up and walked over, her eyebrows knit together in concern.
"Oh, you know," Spike replied, "Okay, for being a huge self-centered jerk who doesn't deserve to look Rarity in the eye ever again."
"Spike! Don't be so hard on yourself!" Pinkie Pie bounded over. "We all make mistakes!"
"Pinkie's right, Sugarcube," Applejack said, getting up as well. Spike's eyes fell on the book she'd set down on the floor. "Learnin' lessons is never easy, but it's nothin' to beat yerself up over forever."
Spike sighed. How to Woo Your Lady in Nine Easy Steps lay on the ground, taunting him. Twilight must have noticed his staring, because she quickly levitated the book across the room to a shelf.
"Sorry, Spike," his sister apologized. "I know I said I'd hide it, but everypony was curious…"
"It's fine, Twilight," Spike said. "I don't mind. Really." He turned to Fluttershy, who was still sitting on the floor half way across the room. "How…how's Rarity?" He figured out of anypony, she would know, but the pegasus surprised him by shaking her head.
"I'm sorry, Spike, but I haven't spoken to her." Fluttershy sunk back a bit, hiding in her own mane. "She said she wanted to be left alone," Fluttershy whispered, barely loud enough for Spike to hear.
Spike slumped where he stood. "I'm terrible."
"Spike, no!" Twilight said. "I mean…yes, what you did wasn't very nice, but you feel bad and want to make up for it, don't you?"
"I wish I could make up for it," Spike replied, his eyes trained on the floor. He couldn't bring himself to look at any of his friends. There was silence and Spike knew everypony must be exchanging awkward glances, even without seeing them.
"Well…of course you can, silly!" Pinkie broke the silence and hopped another jump forward so she was close enough to poke him in the shoulder.
"How?" Spike asked, mournfully, tipping backwards a bit as Pinkie jabbed him with her hoof.
"Oh! I know!" Pinkie exclaimed. "We could throw her a – "
"Don't say 'party'," Twilight interrupted. "I don't think this is the time for that."
Pinkie sat back on her haunches, frowning slightly. "But…everypony loves parties…"
"Pinkie, Rarity doesn't need a party right now," Applejack said. "She needs to feel cared about."
"But a party – "
"Is one way of showin' how yeh care, yes, but this has to be somethin' Spike would do," Applejack finished gently.
"Something I would do?" Spike asked. "Like stomp all over Rarity's feelings and treat her no better than a lump of coal?"
"Now stop that, Spike," Twilight ordered, frowning at him. "You messed up. You're sorry about it. It's time to fix things. Besides, if anypony is to blame here, it's me."
Pinkie turned to Twilight and blinked. "What do you - oh! Right! You mean how you went behind Spike's back, breaking his trust by telling Rarity all about what he was up to but forgetting to tell her why and making her think that Spike was being a big old meanie-pants?" Pinkie's words rushed out of her mouth like a dam breaking. She inhaled a gigantic breath to replenish her lungs once she was done.
Twilight shot Pinkie a glare out of the corner of her eye. "No," Twilight replied, coolly.
Spike looked up at Twilight. What is she talking about, then?
"I mean how I should've been a more supportive sister and friend," Twilight explained. She looked down at Spike and sighed. "Instead of just telling Spike what he shouldn't do, I messed up by not giving him any other options. It's my fault." She set a hoof on top of his head.
Spike's eyes began to sting. "Twilight…"
Applejack cut in. "Let's not start up the blame game, here. Everypony's seen this situation comin' for ages now, and did any one of us really do anythin' to help?"
"I did!" Pinkie piped up.
Applejack rolled her eyes. "Anypony besides Pinkie?"
There was silence.
"Alright then," Applejack continued. "So it's decided. We'll work together to fix this here mess."
Spike had to swallow hard to choke back a sob of appreciation as each pony put a hoof in the middle, sealing the pact. He set his own purple hand on top of the pile of hooves. "Thank you all," he said. "You really are the best friends a dragon could ask for."
Just then, the front door busted open. Spike nearly leapt straight up at the sound of the door slamming against the wall.
"What is this, some kind of party? Thanks for inviting me, guys." Rainbow Dash snorted, flying into the library and circling over their heads.
Rainbow Dash? What are you doing here - ?
"And what the hay kind of namby-pamby thing is this?" The pegasus gestured down at the hoof and hand pile. Everypony dropped their appendage back to their side sheepishly. "You all up to something? Keeping secrets from me? Totally not cool." The pegasus crossed her hooves and hovered in the air over them, glaring down.
"Sorry, Dashie!" Pinkie Pie blinked up at the flying pony.
Applejack shifted her eyes nervously. "We were just, uh…"
"We didn't have you come over because…" Twilight started.
"We're here to help Spike," Fluttershy said softly. "Twilight got us all a little while ago, and asked us to come over. But she could only ask those of us who already knew Spike's problem." She took a tiny step forward. "I'm so very sorry if that has made you feel left out in any way, Rainbow Dash. I'm sure that wasn't Twilight's intention at all."
Spike turned sharply at that. Twilight got everypony here? He'd been assuming Pinkie had mustered up the troops and forced Twilight into the late-night library pow-wow. He titled his head at his sister. For all that she'd been a pain lately, he might've misjudged her. His mouth twitched back a bit uncomfortably, and he made a mental note to thank Twilight later.
"Help Spike?" Rainbow Dash frowned, turning her attention on the dragon. "And just what do you need help with in the middle of the night?"
Spike blanched. Everypony looked over at him. He didn't need to be a mind reader to know they were all asking the same thing. Can we tell her?
He rocked back and forth on his feet for a moment, and then let out a sigh of resignation. What was one pony more, anyway? "Go ahead," Spike granted permission. "You can tell her. It's not like it's that big of a secret anymore."
Twilight stepped forward and Rainbow Dash flew back down, setting her hooves on the library floor.
"So…Rainbow," Twilight began, "I'm not sure if you've ever picked up on this, but Spike has a crush on Rarity. And he's been trying lately to win her affections in return."
Rainbow Dash's eyes flew open wide. "What? He does?" She spun around, looking at everypony else. "And you all knew about this already?"
Applejack, Pinkie, and Fluttershy all nodded.
"Why am I the last to know about everything?" Rainbow Dash flew up, tugging on her mane. "This is so not fair, guys! Way to keep me out of the loop!"
"Sorry, Dashie!" Pinkie Pie apologized a second time. "But it was a secret, and you know how important secrets are!"
"Yeah, but…" Rainbow Dash looked around. "How did you all know before me?"
"Ah guessed." Applejack shrugged. "But Spike only officially told me yesterday."
"Oh, Spike told me ages ago," Pinkie bragged. "But I didn't tell anypony else!"
Fluttershy shuffled one hoof. "I found out today. Though I maybe had a tiny little inkling, just the eensiest weensiest of one's before…" She glanced over at Spike nervously.
"Yeah, I get it, I wasn't the best at hiding things," Spike slouched where he stood. "Rarity knows, too, by the way," he threw out. "Just so you know." He looked up at Rainbow Dash, who remained flying overhead.
Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes. "Great. So I really am last. That's just awesome." She came back down to the ground. "Now exactly why are we all here talking about Spike's love life at midnight?"
Twilight glanced at Spike, and he nodded back at her.
"Well…here's what's been going on…" Twilight began.
It was late, and Rarity was back to her insomnia from days before. She hadn't even bothered going to bed. Instead, she sat in front of her vanity set, staring down into the front drawer, which was pulled open.
Depending on which way it was turned, the jewel sitting inside the drawer resembled a heart. Currently, the red stone was flipped upside down, shining up at her from its gold setting. In a few of the facets, she could make out her own reflection.
What happened, Spike?
The fire ruby, naturally, did not respond for the dragon who'd gifted it to her. Rarity blinked a tear away. The most generous gift she'd ever received…He gave this to me. I know he cares. So why did he stop?
Memory lane was wide open now, and Rarity ran through it at full speed, attempting to make some sense of things. Greed and gluttony had gotten the best of the dragon before. His birthday was proof of that. But he'd managed to reverse that somehow. If only she knew what had snapped him out of it…
It was after he saw the fire ruby…Rarity remembered that much. But what about the fire ruby did it? Was it seeing me with the fire ruby? Was it something else?
She sighed. If only she could see the world through a dragon's eyes. Then perhaps she could understand, and put things back the way they should be. What caused him to go back to his greedy ways this week? Rarity wracked her brain.
Rarity, come on now, he told you why. It's no mystery. He was trying to get you to care for him in return. Rarity blinked sadly. Though how in Equestria he ever thought I'd care for him after he'd gone out of his way to con me into it, I'll never know. A spark of anger fizzled through her once more, but it wasn't nearly as strong as the flames that had encompassed her heart earlier. Staying angry wasn't as easy as she'd thought it would be.
Rarity set one hoof on the fire ruby. Desperate. The word drifted to the front of her mind. Spike was desperate. It did not excuse his behavior, but…it did explain it a bit. Not that Rarity had any idea of what to do with that explanation.
She pulled her hoof back, letting go of the fire ruby and curling up on the floor. In her mind, Spike's apology and full confession replayed over and over. No matter what Rarity did, she couldn't push the scene away, and that bothered her. She'd always managed to set Spike's feelings aside in the past, and carry on as usual. Sure, it had taken a bit longer after the birthday incident, but even then…
Rarity shivered. Why does this matter so much, hmm? So Spike manipulated you. So he's feeling hurt now. So your friendship might never recover and you might never speak to each other again.
But that was it right there. That was the difference. She couldn't let this go. Not when the risk for losing everything was so high.
I want our friendship to recover.
I don't want a world without Spike.
Another tear slipped down Rarity's cheek.
She had no idea how to fix any of this. And it was painfully obvious, as much as she tried to fight and deny it…she needed this fixed. She needed Spike back.
But how are we ever going to go back to normal?
"So…now what?" Rainbow Dash asked, after Twilight finished her story.
"Now we figure out a way for Spike to make things up to Rarity so that Spike can do Step Six!" Pinkie jumped between Twilight and Rainbow Dash.
Spike winced. "Pinkie…"
"He needs to spend lots of time with her, and show her what a great gentlecolt he can be! Then once he's won her heart, we can throw them BOTH a party!"
"Won't that be great?"
"Pinkie." Spike held back a growl, but just barely. "I'm sorry, but I'm not doing Step Six. Or any of the other steps. I'm done with that book."
Pinkie's jaw dropped. "But…you can't just give up!"
Spike held his ground. "It's my decision. It's what's best. Rarity doesn't like me the way I like her, and all I'm doing is hurting her. She'd be better off if I never spoke to her again."
"This again?" Twilight sighed. "Spike, Rarity isn't going to hate you forever. We just need you two to make up, and then you can be friends again."
So everything goes back to how it was before? Spike looked at the floor. How could he explain to anypony that he didn't want everything back how it was? That that's why he'd ordered the book in the first place?
Luckily, he didn't need to.
"But that still doesn't get Spike a date!" Pinkie pouted.
"Well, Pinkie…I'm not sure that's going to be in the cards…" Twilight started.
"Does anypony know how Rarity feels about Spike?" Applejack asked, interrupting.
Rainbow Dash shrugged. "Don't look at me. I didn't even know about Spike's feelings until ten minutes ago."
Everypony got quiet. Spike held his breath as the silence dragged on. Eventually, Twilight spoke up.
"She uh…she told me yesterday that she liked Spike as a friend," the unicorn admitted.
"She could've been lying!" Pinkie tried, sounding a little desperate. Spike knew how Pinkie felt. But he also knew how little of a chance he stood with Rarity. Realistically, he couldn't see any way the beautiful, talented unicorn could ever feel anything more than friendship for him. And now, even that friendship was at risk. Because of you. It's your own fault.
There was silence once more until Applejack turned to Fluttershy. "Yeh spend a lot of time with Rarity, Fluttershy. What do yeh think? Does Spike have any chance here?"
Everypony turned to Fluttershy. She took a timid step back, keeping one hoof raised up as if she could hide behind it. "I…I'm not sure."
"What do you mean, you're not sure?" Rainbow Dash trotted over to her fellow pegasus, getting right up in her face.
"I mean…we've never really talked about it…" Fluttershy took another step backwards.
"What about yesterday, huh?" Pinkie hopped over next to Rainbow Dash.
Fluttershy turned her face away. "She…she seemed upset. About everything with Spike. But I just don't know if that means…"
"Well, there you go!" Rainbow Dash turned back to Spike. "She likes you enough to be sad if you're a jerk to her!"
"It's a start!" Pinkie leapt up, and she and Rainbow Dash slapped their hooves together.
Spike wasn't sure that was the kind of start he wanted.
"Girls, listen," Twilight said. "Our first goal here should be to just get everypony back on speaking terms."
"Speaking terms?" Pinkie let out a laugh. "For such a brainy pony, Twilight, you're sure thinking small on this one. This is a chance for Spike to show Rarity how much he cares! We gotta go all out here!"
"All out?" Spike asked, nervously.
Pinkie leapt up on a library table, shoving several books off it. They collapsed on the floor in a heap, and Twilight winced.
"Listen up, everypony. We've got a job to do! Spike has nopony to help anymore. He's throwing his book in the trash and goin' solo. Rarity's sad, Spike is sad. Everypony. Is. Sad. It's time to turn all these frowns upside-down!" Pinkie threw her front hooves into the air. "And we're just the ponies for the job! Who knows these two better than us, right? We can make this happen! By tomorrow night, they'll be best friends once more! And…" Pinkie Pie hopped down and elbowed Spike in the side. "Maybe even more than that, if we can get our little Romeo here to pluck up some courage!" Spike went red and Pinkie popped back up on the table. "So who's with me?"
"A chance to mess with Rarity and get her to think about something other than frou-frou dresses for a day? I'm in." Rainbow Dash flew up, giving Pinkie a salute.
"Twilight? Fluttershy? Applejack?" Pinkie asked.
Spike glanced between the three ponies, rubbing his hands together anxiously until he noticed what he was doing. Then he clasped his hands tight in an effort to look more pulled together. Hope danced through him in tiny tendrils, but he refused to let it fully blossom just yet.
"We…we won't hurt Rarity at all, right?" Fluttershy asked nervously.
"Ah don't think so, Sugarcube," Applejack answered, taking a step forward. "We're gonna be straight with her. No secrets this time around. No tricks. Right?" Applejack looked up at Pinkie.
Pinkie Pie nodded. "Right!"
"Then ah'm in," Applejack said.
"Well…as long as this isn't going to hurt anypony…" Fluttershy trailed off.
Spike took a step towards the timid pegasus. "Fluttershy, the last thing in Equestria I want to do right now is hurt Rarity any more than I have already," Spike said. "And with you helping, I know everything will be done the right way."
Fluttershy smiled at him. "Spike, you are such a sweet dragon. If Rarity does decide she likes you, then I couldn't be happier with her choice."
Spike's face really went red then.
Fluttershy turned to face Pinkie. "I'm in, too."
There was only one pony left. Spike glanced over at his sister. "Twilight…?"
Twilight's expression revealed nothing, and it took her a moment to speak. "I just don't want to raise Spike's expectations too high, here. I'll help, if only to make sure Spike doesn't get hurt too badly."
"Great!" Pinkie said, either completely missing or completely ignoring Twilight's serious tone. "Onwards! To the planning stage!"
Spike gave his sister a small smile of thanks. Twilight pulled him in for a hug.
"I'm here to take care of you, Spike. Never forget that."
Spike gripped the rose tightly in his hands, carefully wrapping his fingers around the stem to keep them away from the thorns.
It was morning, and the sunlight shone on Rarity's boutique, reflecting off several windows. Spike gulped. I hope you know what you're doing.
Behind him, five ponies gathered, slowly inching him forward.
"M-maybe we should rethink this. What if this doesn't work, after all?" Spike asked, his feet skidding in the dirt. Rainbow Dash gave him an extra hard shove forward and he stumbled a bit.
"You're the one who went all noble on us," she said. "Remember? Not wanting us to come up with anything?"
Spike curled his toes in the dirt. He remembered. Last night when they'd started planning, Spike had realized that the girls were doing all the talking…and he wasn't saying anything. But if he was going to win back Rarity's friendship and trust, he would need to make things up to her, his way. He had to show her that he could put her first. And that meant thinking of his own ways to make her happy again.
Not that the others weren't going to help. He had a lot planned, and each pony had a role to play. Their first task was getting him to Rarity's and making sure he didn't back down. Rainbow Dash had taken up that responsibility with particular glee.
"Go on, Spike." Rainbow Dash gave him a head-butt in the back. "Keep moving."
"You can do it!" Pinkie Pie cheered, trotting up next to his side.
"We're right behind yeh," Applejack said.
Spike glanced back. They really were all right behind him. Five ponies, forming a blockade. There was nowhere to run.
Spike took a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other. Rarity's front door drew closer and closer.
Rarity awoke to the sound of knocking. She sat up quickly.
What time is it?
She glanced at the clock, and then at the mirror. She'd overslept. By a lot. And now, somepony was knocking, and her mane looked like Opalescence had made a nest and raised a litter of kittens in it. She magicked a brush over to herself, quickly yanking out her rollers and doing her best to make herself presentable.
"Coming!" she yelled, dashing to the front of the shop. But then she paused. Just outside the window, she saw Twilight and panic overtook her.
Is Spike there, too?
Rarity slammed her body up against her wall, edging towards her window and peering out through the slit in the curtains.
Oh Celestia, they're all out there!
What could they want?
She couldn't tell for sure if Spike was there at first, but upon closer inspection, she could just spot the edge of his tail. He was the one directly in front of the door.
Then he knocked again.
Rarity bit her lower lip, sinking against the wall. What was she supposed to do? What was she supposed to say?
Her mind froze up and she sat on the floor, jittering.
"She's not going to answer," Spike said. His shoulders drooped, and he backed away from the door.
"Well this is just ridiculous," Rainbow Dash said. "If she won't answer, we'll just have to make her answer." Her wings began to rev up, and it was only Twilight's quick thinking that stopped the pegasus from slamming into the shop door. "Hey, lemme go!" Rainbow Dash struggled.
Spike recognized the spell holding Rainbow Dash's wings back. It was the same one Twilight had used on his feet a couple days ago. He still hadn't gotten around to asking her when she'd learned immobility magic.
"Hold up there, Rainbow," Twilight said. "We can't just go busting in on her like this."
Rainbow Dash grumbled something under her breath, but stop struggling. Twilight released her.
"Twah'light's right," Applejack said. "If she ain't answerin', brute force ain't gonna change her mind."
"Somepony needs to talk to her," Twilight said. "And convince her to come out and hear what Spike has to say."
Spike glanced over at Fluttershy. Everypony else turned to her as well.
"Oh…oh my," Fluttershy backed up. "You want me to go in?"
"Aww, don't worry, Fluttershy! If you don't want to go, I'll go!" Pinkie Pie pranced over to Rarity's door, but both Applejack and Rainbow Dash got to her first, dragging her back.
"Ah think Fluttershy would be better for this, Pinkie," Applejack said. "No offense, Sugarcube."
Pinkie Pie crossed her hooves, a pout taking over her face. The two ponies dropped her a good distance back from the door. "Well fine."
"I don't know." Rainbow Dash eyed Fluttershy after releasing Pinkie. "Do you really think she's up to it?"
Fluttershy sunk even farther back. Spike couldn't even see her eyes anymore behind her mane. "I'd really rather not…if that's okay."
"Oh, alright, I'll go then," Twilight said, stepping forward.
Spike's eyes flew open, and he leapt in front of Twilight. "No! That's – that's fine, Twilight! You don't have to!" No way did he want Twilight getting another chance to talk to Rarity alone. Spike shuddered.
His sister looked at him funny, but then Applejack spoke up and her attention was drawn away.
"Shoot, ah'll go, if nopony else wants to," Applejack said. "Me and Rarity don't always see eye to eye, but heck if ah'll let her sit in there shuttin' herself away while Spike's doin' his best to make amends."
Everypony was quiet for a moment.
"Any objections to Applejack going in?" Twilight asked.
Spike shook his head, and the others followed suit.
"Alright then," Twilight nodded at the Earth pony. "Looks like you've been nominated. Good luck."
Applejack stepped forward to knock on the door, and the others dropped way back, Spike included.
I hope she listens…Spike swallowed hard. He held onto the rose, now standing watch from across the street.
A knock sounded again. This one had a different beat.
Rarity chanced a glance out her window. Nearly everypony was gone. In fact, now she could only see the back half an orange pony.
Applejack? Rarity frowned. Is she out there alone? It sure looked that way.
Applejack continued to knock, and Rarity grimaced. She could just refuse to answer, but she knew Applejack was stubborn enough to wait her out. Unless she wanted to listen to the knocking all day long, she really only had one choice. Rarity opened her door.
"Hello, Applejack." Rarity didn't bother to hide her annoyance.
"Well, howdy there, Rarity," Applejack said, tipping her hat. "May ah come in?"
"I suppose," Rarity sighed, stepping aside.
Applejack walked in, making sure to wipe her hooves extra carefully on the rug.
"I know why you're here," Rarity said. "I saw you all out there this morning. You're here to talk about Spike, aren't you?"
Applejack nodded. "Ah ain't gonna lie. Yeh pegged it right there."
Rarity shut the door. "Fine then. Can I get you something to drink? Any refreshments?" she asked. Just because she was annoyed, didn't mean she had to forget her manners completely. "You're welcome to step into the kitchen." Rarity began walking that way herself. "I can put a pot of tea on – "
"No stallin', now," Applejack said, giving Rarity a knowing look.
Rarity held back a frown. She hadn't been stalling. Okay, maybe she'd been trying to stall just a tiny bit. But still. Applejack didn't have to go and point it out, did she?
"Oh, Applejack, don't be silly," Rarity laughed. Since when did Applejack get so perceptive? "I'm just being hospitable, dear. Now what can I get you?" Rarity continued walking into the kitchen.
"Yeh can get yerself out of yer shop and outside to talk to Spike," Applejack said, following Rarity.
Rarity came to a stop and turned back to face Applejack. If she wants to be so...direct, then fine. We'll be direct. Rarity narrowed her eyes. "So, Spike's gotten the whole group of you on his side now, has he?" she harrumphed. "Lovely that no pony seems to care about my feelings."
"Sugarcube, we feel for yeh both," Applejack said. "We just want yeh to give Spike a chance to speak his mind."
Rarity felt her defenses rising up around her. "He already had his chance yesterday."
"So what now?" Applejack asked. "Yeh just gonna be angry at the little guy forever?"
Rarity sucked in a breath to cover for her lower lip, which had started to quiver despite her best efforts to contain her emotions. "Who says I'm angry?"
Applejack stared at her.
Rarity's face contorted around her mouth. Stupid lip. "I'm…I'm just…" You will not cry in front of Applejack! "I'm fine. I'm not mad. I just don't feel like speaking to Spike right now. That's all." She turned back to the stove, setting her teakettle on it with a clunk.
Applejack let out a loud sigh. "Rarity…"
"I appreciate your concern," the unicorn continued, setting the water to boil. "But believe it or not, I can handle this myself. And I would prefer to handle this myself."
"Yeah, well, handlin' this yerself is makin' Spike sadder than an empty mug of cider." Applejack stepped up next to Rarity, staring at her challengingly.
Rarity set an equally stubborn stance, glaring back at the Earth pony. "And why should I care?"
"Rarity!" Applejack exclaimed in a disappointed tone. "Ah'm shocked at you! Not caring about how one of yer closest friends is feelin'? That's just cruel."
"Cruel?" Rarity barked out a laugh. "And what he did to me wasn't?" Rarity's lip started up again, and her insides twisted in panic as she realized she couldn't stop it.
"Now listen here," Applejack said, stamping one hoof. "Ah've heard just about enough out of you. Ah wasn't there yesterday when this big fight of yer's happened, but ah've heard the story from Spike, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy. Three different views. Spike fully admits what he did to yeh was wrong, and wants to make it up to yeh. Pinkie Pie's upset, but says yer anger yesterday was understandable and Spike should try and fix things. Sure, them two were thick as thieves yesterday as far as ah could tell, but consarnit, Rarity, even Fluttershy agrees that it's time to put these bad feelings behind yeh and make up with Spike! And she was the pony defendin' yeh! Yer just bein' a sourpuss if yeh don't let Spike at least try to show yeh how important yeh are to him. He's got a whole day of activities planned out, all for you!"
Rarity's lip was trembling at full speed now. "For…me?" Rarity blinked a few times, working to keep her eyes dry. She'd known Spike still cared. She'd known, deep down. But hearing it spelled out like that…
"So how about yeh stop with the dramatics and give him a chance?" Applejack asked, her voice slightly gentler than before.
Rarity's eyes flickered back and forth. "But he…but I…"
"Ah know, Sugarcube," Applejack said. "It's a whole mess of a complicated situation."
Rarity sat back on the kitchen floor, looking to the side. "You have no idea."
"Ah'm sure ah don't," Applejack said. "But even more of a reason for yeh to at least get back on speakin' terms with him. He really feels terrible."
Rarity couldn't bring herself to look at Applejack. She had nothing left. Nothing more to argue with. Applejack was right. I'm just being selfish and sulky staying in here. Her last defenses fell, like a curtain tearing and crumpling to the floor of an abandoned stage. The curtain had just been dangling by a few threads, anyhow. It had been tugged on severely already the night before, as Spike's pleas replayed in her mind as she'd tried to sleep. Applejack's blunt logic was just the final shove.
Rarity kept her eyes on the floor, in shame. "I suppose I owe you an apology, Applejack," she eventually said. "It was very kind of you to come in and talk some sense into me. This has just been…all so…"
"It's no trouble at all," Applejack replied. "Ah'm glad ah can help."
"No, really," Rarity said, biting at her lip to stop the trembling once and for all. "You don't know what this means. You in particular. Getting me to see Spike."
"Well shucks, Rarity," Applejack swung one hoof over the other. "It really ain't that big of a deal – "
"It is." Rarity looked up at Applejack, locking eyes. "For a while there I thought…I thought Spike…I thought you…"
Applejack blinked. Rarity flushed, realizing Applejack had no idea what she was talking about.
"I mean…nothing," Rarity said quickly. Clearly the Earth pony had never picked up on her paranoia concerning Spike's feelings towards her. No sense in bringing it up now. "So…shall we go then? I assume Spike is waiting somewhere nearby?"
Applejack laughed. "Sure as sugar. Ah'm pretty sure he's right across the street."
Rarity took the kettle off the stove, doing her best to act confident about what was happening. Okay. It will be okay now. You'll talk to Spike. You'll work this out somehow. He still cares. He messed up, but he still cares. It's time to be a mature, grown-up mare and put the past behind you.
Despite the sensible discussion going on in one part of her head, the rest of Rarity's brain had checked out of reality. Her only remaining shred of consciousness was fully absorbed in reminding Rarity to at least try and look composed. It took all her concentration just to follow Applejack back out into the shop without stopping or stumbling. Rarity hardly even registered where she was going.
Then, as soon as Applejack swung the front door open, blue sky and chirping birds assaulted her from outside. Panic hit her as hard as if she'd been tossed headfirst into a lake. Stepping out the door to face Spike was suddenly the last thing Rarity could ever envision herself doing.
Luckily, Applejack didn't seem to notice, and she walked out first.
"We're all good over here!" the cowpony yelled. Rarity spied all of her friends across the street. They each turned their heads her way.
Rarity remained frozen in her doorway. Nudged forward by Rainbow Dash, Spike walked across the street towards her. He held a rose in his claws.
He has a rose…another rose for me…
It was some consolation that the dragon looked just about as nervous as she felt. Spike finally reached her and stopped.
"R-Rarity?" he asked.
"I just…I wanted to say again how sorry I am. And if you'll let me, I would like more than anything to make it up to you." He offered the rose up towards her. "Please, just give me this one day. I'll do everything I can to show you that I do care."
Spike blinked up at her and Rarity had to draw a shaky breath in order to respond. It was now or never.
"Of course, Spike," she said, levitating the rose out of his hands towards her. "What kind of lady would I be if I refused?"
The rose floated between them, and Spike gave Rarity the most genuine smile she'd seen out of him in days.