It was a calm night at Sugarcube Corner. Vacant, even considering it had closed over an hour ago. Usually the Cakes would be moving about in the adjacent rooms, but they were long gone, off in some pastry competition in another town. Applejack hadn't paid much attention where. It didn't really matter in the end; they were up and gone, just like everypony else.
The only sound to be heard aside from a faintly ticking clock was a soft snore. Applejack looked over at the couch that Pinkie Pie had draped herself over. Most would assume that a self-proclaimed party pony wouldn't be such a lightweight, but Pinkie had insisted it was part of her secret for being lifted by balloons. Typical Pinkie logic there, and there wasn't much to say in response.
They'd invited the others, sure. Or, they would have, if they had been around to receive invitations. Rainbow Dash had a Wonderbolts event in Las Pegasus. Fluttershy had her sanctuary to care for. Rarity was in Manehattan debuting a new line of the latest trends that Applejack couldn't make head nor tail of. And Twilight was off with Starlight Glimmer doing Celestia knows what to the school's curriculum.
It just left Pinkie and Applejack. The ones who were left, and the ones who never had. "Ah reckon," murmured Applejack, taking another pull of cider from one of few remaining full bottles on the table. Pinkie snored on, to both the relief and annoyance of Applejack.
"Ah reckon we did the right thing, y'know," she tried again, looking around the dimly-lit shop. A few lines of hardened frosting marked where pans had sat the day before. Steadfast, like both of them. Not going anywhere.
Not planning on going anywhere at all. "See, the others had their goals and dreams and things." She took another sip, hiccuping. "Even if they came outta nowhere a bit. Fluttershy up 'n decided one day to build some sanctuary, said it was her lifelong dream. There wasn't no mention of any sanctuary before that, and yet…"
Applejack sighed and hugged the bottle a little closer to herself. "And yet she always did keep that sorta thing to herself, didn't she?" The bottle left her fur damp with condensation. A few bottles ago, she might have cared.
"At least with Rainbow 'n Rarity, we knew what they were after. Fame and fashion, easy enough. But Twilight… hmmph." She scowled down at a few of the empty bottles littered across the table, then waved a hoof at Pinkie as she attempted to gather her thoughts. It was by pure coincidence that the hoof she waved wasn't the one holding her drink.
"Do you think she might have joined us?" Croaked a voice from the couch. It startled Applejack, who jerked her other hoof, sacrificing a bit of her remaining cider to the cracks in the hoofworn tile of the shop. Not that the floor wasn’t sticky anyway, with all the baking and stuff that went on.
She turned to look over at the lump that was Pinkie. Pinkie smiled blearily back, blinking through the haze of an alcohol-ridden sleep. Applejack raised her bottle apologetically. "Aw, sorry sugarcube. Didn't mean to wake ya. Yeah, I reckon she might have joined us, iffin the whole Princess thing hadn't happened."
Pinkie made a halfhearted grab for a bottle. Said bottle in question tipped over, thankfully empty. She frowned at it nonetheless. "You think? I mean, it wasn't like she had some big goal aside from magic studies and stuff, but what if she came up with something later?"
"Nah, she'd probably join us here, and take up more of your couch." Applejack sprawled back in her chair, balancing it carefully as she tipped it backwards. She chugged some of her remaining drink, determined not to waste a single drop more.
"We'd have to bring more bottles. Speaking of, more bottles, please?" Pinkie barely caught the unopened bottle that was lobbed in her direction. "Thank you!" She chirped blearily, popping it open with the tip of her mane curl.
Applejack chuckled, watching the bottle cap clatter to the floor. She’d remember to pick that up in the morning, hopefully, or one of them would inevitably step on it. "Sure, Twilight may have joined us, if she hadn’t come up with some random dream to fulfill. But now she's, what, running a school? Ah don't remember that being a part of princessly duties.” No other alicorn had added “teaching the young” to their job list… except maybe Celestia, with all her personal students. Huh.
She cleared her throat and took another drink. “An' now everypony else has to give up on their dreams n stuff to help out with it. Not that everypony seemed to mind finding the time to help out."
"Except us, right? We've got stuff to do, but no dreams to crush." Pinkie hiccuped before chugging a bit more cider. She wavered where she sat, bobbing a little to keep upright but slowly losing the battle to gravity.
"I like to think of it as we're right where we wanna be, and we don't hafta spend forever pining away at something we may never reach." Applejack shrugged, swirling the dregs of her cider around the bottom of the bottle. "We're here, ya know? And that's all we need to be."
Pinkie stretched out a leg, offering her bottle to clink against her friend's. "Here's to the ones who dreamed, Applejack."
She laughed and tapped the rim of her mostly-empty cider bottle to her friend's before quaffing the rest of the drink. "And here's to those who didn't, sugarcube. To those who are mighty content with just bein'."
She smiled lazily, setting down the bottle before lifting herself out of her chair. Applejack's hooves wavered underneath her but held strong enough for her to make her way across the room. "Here's to us." She gracelessly flumped onto the couch, narrowly missing one of Pinkie's limbs sprawled across the cushions.
"To us," mumbled Pinkie, slurping up the rest of her cider before nestling her head against Applejack's shoulder. She let out a deep, content sigh, and Applejack could feel Pinke's body relax against hers.
She smiled as she watched Pinkie's eyes drift shut, succumbing to the siren call of sleep once more. "We ain't goin' anywhere, sugar," she said, wrapping a hoof around her friend, nestling her closer. She sure wasn't going anywhere til morning, that was for sure. And maybe that was the best place she could be.