Applejack walked through the doors of her barn, a tray full of sarsaparilla clenched between her teeth, and as soon as she’d stepped inside, she felt a warm burst of happiness at the sight before her. Seated on hay bales around a large, round table were five of her most favorite ponies in all of Equestria, chatting animatedly and shuffling a deck of cards. As she drew nearer, they all looked up and smiled. But it was Fluttershy who trotted over to take the tray from her.
"Thank ya kindly, apple o' my eye," said Applejack, as soon as her mouth was empty. She leaned forward to deposit a kiss on the pegasus' cheek, and Fluttershy blushed in that pretty way she always did.
Fluttershy trotted over to the table and set it down on the edge, in between Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, before glancing back at the farmer. "Oh, it was no trouble," she replied, with a giggle that made Applejack's heart skip a beat. "You're very welcome, song of my heart."
Immediately, Rainbow Dash began pretending to gag. "Ew, gross, guys!" She shook her head and scowled at Applejack in particular. "Do you really have to say that to each other every single time one of you walks into a room?"
Applejack very calmly took her seat at the table and started counting out poker chips. "Yes, Rainbow. Yes, we really do."
"We also say it every night, right before bed," offered Fluttershy, with a happy little smile, as she began passing around the bottles of sarsaparilla.
Rainbow rolled her eyes so hard that they looked liable to pop right out of her skull. "Boring! Man, I am so glad me and Twi aren't all sappy and pathetic like that."
Instantly Twilight frowned. "That's not true, Rainbow! We're plenty romantic!" she protested, crossing her forelegs over her chest. "I mean, I've read every book on relationships that the Ponyville library has! I think it's fair to say that I am an accomplished master at romance by now."
"Darling." Rarity raised an eloquent eyebrow. "You and Rainbow are two of my dearest and most beloved friends--I want you to know that--but the fact of the matter is, neither of you has a single romantic bone in your body."
Pinkie Pie nodded, with comic seriousness, as she slung a foreleg around Rarity's shoulders. "She's right, ya know. And nopony knows romance like my Rarishine!"
"Indeed," agreed Rarity in a lofty tone, while giving the pink earth pony an affectionate peck on the cheek.
Meanwhile, Applejack had opened one of the bottles of sarsaparilla, and she was happily guzzling it down while just as happily ignoring the entire lot of them. She figured she'd give them another five minutes, tops, to simmer down before she yelled at them to shut their yaps and ante up. Any longer than that, and Fluttershy would start getting worried that they weren't just arguing for fun. As she waited for her friends to quiet and drew deep pulls from her nice, cold drink, she could feel Fluttershy settle in beside her, warm and soft and cozy.
If Applejack was being honest with herself—and she took great pride in being honest with herself—she had to admit that she and Fluttershy maybe weren't as exciting a couple as the others in their little group. They didn't have that passion for trying everything new, that urge to fly higher and strive harder with every new day, that Twilight and Rainbow did. And they didn't thrive off of passion and emotion and drama, the way that Pinkie and Rarity did, as though all of life was just one big musical with the both of them starring in the main roles.
Applejack glanced over to the pony leaning against her and found Fluttershy gazing up at her with soft eyes and a small smile.
No, she and 'Shy weren't any of that stuff. She and 'Shy were quiet. Steady. Easy-going. Applejack had her trees, and Fluttershy had her animals, and they both had nice picnics on cool spring days … and that was enough. More than enough, really. It was more than Applejack had ever hoped to dream of. But it wasn't really something she could explain too well. She wasn't good with words like Twi and Rarity were. Still, Fluttershy seemed to like her just fine, warts and all, so she reckoned it wasn't something she should fret over too terribly much.
"Hey! Earth to Applejack!"
With a jerk of her head, Applejack turned towards Rainbow Dash and blinked. It wasn't until just then that she noticed that the rest of the table had finally fallen silent.
"You two were sort of just gazing into one another's eyes," explained Twilight, with an apologetic smile. "It … was pretty cute, I have to say."
Pinkie giggled her agreement. "Totally superrific cute!"
"So! Boring!" Dash slumped down at her seat, seemingly resigned. "I swear, I bet that's gonna be the last thing either of you ever say. That 'oh, you're the apple of my eye!' and 'ooh, but you're the song of my heart!' junk." Suddenly, she snapped back to attention and leaned across the table, her eyes serious and urgent. "Oh, my gosh! Do you even know what a lame epitaph that will make? Do you?"
"'Epitaph'?" Rarity shot the pegasus a look out of the corner of her eye. "Isn't that a rather large word for you?"
Grinning proudly, Twilight leaned over to nuzzle her fillyfriend. "Not for my little bookworm!"
Dash blushed and gave the purple unicorn a quick glare. "H-hey! I thought we agreed you wouldn't call me that when the girls were around!"
But before another round of their little group's perpetual argument could start up, Fluttershy interrupted, quietly saying, "Actually, Rainbow, I hope you're right."
"No need to hope, 'cause I'm always right!" Rainbow Dash preened for a few moments before suddenly her mouth dropped into a confused frown. "Um. Right about what?"
"About those being the last things we ever say to each other." Fluttershy glanced over to Applejack, her eyes huge and shining. "I hope we can hear each other say that every day for the rest of our lives … and I hope those are the last words we ever hear."
Applejack swallowed hard. Then swallowed again. But still her throat felt a bit tight as she whispered in reply, "I hope so too, sugar cube. I hope so too."
There was a moment of silence in the large barn, heavy and meaningful. The barn’s oil lanterns flickered softly, casting dancing shadows along the walls and creating a million little sparkles of light in eyes that were a deep forest green and gentle, watery teal.
"Totally gross," Dash muttered, just loud enough to be heard.
"Shut up, Rainbow Dash," hissed Twilight and Rarity in unison, while Pinkie opted to simply elbow the blue pegasus in the ribs.
Author's Notes: Apparently all of my Applejack stories will now involve corny poker terminology. Huzzah!
This is another piece originally written for a writing prompt but which I revised to post here.