by Tumbleweed

Chapter 1

As a rule, Applejack always woke up early.

She woke up even earlier when she wasn't in her own bed.

Even without opening her eyes, she knew something was amiss. Wherever she was bed was too warm, too soft … and too crowded. Slowly, Applejack opened her eyes. Sure enough, there she was: a gorgeous, white-coated unicorn, curled up happily against Applejack's side, still fast asleep.

As Applejack began to wake up, the little details of the previous evening came back to her: a last-minute delivery to the Cake's for some kind of catering order, an ahead-of-schedule and only slightly out of control rainstorm courtesy of Rainbow Dash, and Rarity's insistence that Applejack get in out of the cold.

Solid evidence that the previous night hadn't been a dream were scattered all across Rarity's bedroom. The cover to Rarity's record player was still open, even though they'd turned it off hours ago. Two empty teacups sat on the bedside table, faint traces of hot toddy at the very bottom . Given the amount of whiskey Rarity had put in them, Applejack figured they were a little more 'hot' than 'toddy.' Or was it the other way around?

And then there were a few selections from Rarity's 'private collection,' as she'd called it. Most of the filmy, gauzy things still hung in place, even if the last one Rarity had modeled was conspicuously out of place, still crumpled up at the end of the bed where Applejack had tossed it out of the way. She couldn't help but take a small measure of satisfaction at the sight.

Applejack briefly considered going to start breakfast (or at least coffee). It'd be polite, after all. Then again, starting breakfast would mean getting out of bed, which would mean prying herself out of the comfortable tangle of blankets and unicorn legs, which would be the most terrible thing that had ever happened.

Rarity stirred, and blinked her eyes open. She turned slightly, and rested her chin on Applejack's shoulder. “Good morning.” She said with a sleepy, satisfied smile.


“It's Saturday, you know.”

“So? You got someplace to be?”

“Quite the opposite, actually.”

Applejack blinked. “What's that s'posed ta-”

Rarity leaned up and kissed the side of Applejack's neck.

“Oh.” said Applejack. She blushed, but craned her head to the side in order to let Rarity explore further. Applejack closed her eyes and settled in, figuring that one lazy morning probably wouldn't hurt anything. It was a quiet, perfect moment of utter peace and contentment.

It was about three seconds before the cat showed up.

“Mwer.” Opalescence materialized mere inches from Applejack's face, hitting the mattress hard enough to make the springs squeak.

Startled, Applejack instinctively rolled away from the white poofball that filled her field of vision. Various sappy declarations of romance aside, Rarity and Applejack remained two separate ponies, and as such, they were unable to occupy the same space.

Rarity started with a naughty giggle as she felt Applejack shift her weight onto her. “About time you started being more assert-” her teasing trailed off into an incoherent “oof!” as Applejack inadvertently rolled her full earth pony weight onto Rarity. The unicorn fussed for just a moment, and then used Applejack's momentum against her. With a little assist from her telekinesis, Rarity shoved Applejack off of her- and off the side of the bed.

Applejack hit the hardwood floor with a heavy thump. There's no dignified way to fall out of a bed, and the way Applejack landed was just more proof of it.

“Ah. Sorry about that, darling.” Rarity stuck her head past the edge of the bed. “But what in the world were you doing?”



“That darn cat came outta nowhere! Damn near clawed my eyes out!”

“Mew.” Said Opalescence. She hadn't moved from the spot where she'd landed. In fact, the cat looked smug (well, smugger than usual) now that Applejack had vacated her immediate vicinity.

“Oh! I almost forgot! Opalescence gets very cross if she doesn't have her breakfast exactly how she wants it, exactly when she wants it. Isn't that right my darling little princess? Who's a good kitty? Yes you are! Yes you are!” Rarity cuddled the fluffy feline and trailed off into incomprehensible, infatuated gibberish.

“Mew.” Said Opalescence.

Rarity neatly stepped over Applejack's prone body as she slipped out of bed. “Now come, darling, it's time for breakfast! I just got some salmon pate' I absolutely know you're going to love.”

“Salmon whatnow?” Applejack kicked her legs, disentangling herself from the sheets she'd pulled off the bed with her.

“I was talking to the cat.”

Opalescence only lingered on the bed long enough to shoot Applejack a haughty look (haughtier than usual, which is saying something) and then daintily prowled after Rarity, her tail swishing.

“Next time,” Applejack said, more to herself than anything, “we're stayin' at my place.”

While Rarity fussed with Opalescence's breakfast (“the fish must be diced just so, or else it shall give my poor kitty indigestion,” Rarity had noted), Applejack poked around the kitchen, and managed to scrounge up enough to prepare a basic breakfast of biscuits and applesauce. And coffee. Rarity at least had plenty of that.

“You shouldn't have!”

“I almost didn't. I swear, Rarity, I had to dig all the way to the back of the cabinet to find a baking sheet. Most of yer kitchen's filled with nothin' but fancy dishes n' teacups. How do you even eat?”

“I'm afraid my talents trend more towards couture than culinary. More often than not, all I need is a quick oat bar in the morning before I get on with my work. Although … “ Rarity dabbed at the corner of her mouth with a napkin, “A more … robust repast is certainly a nice change of pace. I could get used to this.” She finished her breakfast, and then floated her dish into the sink.

“Mmm, if you'll excuse me a moment, Applejack, I've just a bit of paperwork to attend to before I forget. And afterward, well … I may allow myself to get distracted again, if you've rested up enough. She winked at Applejack, and then trotted into her office with an extra sway of her tail.

The stack of envelopes were right where Rarity had left them the day before. By rote, Rarity began to sort through the mail. “Bills, bills, invitation to one of Pinkie Pie's Parties, bills, and … oh.”

“Is that a good 'oh,' or a bad 'oh?'” Applejack poked her head in from the kitchen.

“Oh damn.”

“Bad 'oh,' then. Got it.”

Rarity's lovely features cycled through several expressions. Surprise, then fear, and then the righteous anger of an artist who'd been done wrong. “I can't believe this! After all the trouble I went through to source that fabric, my supplier in Manehattan has only now bothered to inform me that they've lost my initial order.” Fuming, Rarity shot a glance at the kitten-emblazoned calendar hanging from the wall. “Damn! Damn it all! Don't they know I'm on a schedule? At this rate, my Spring line won't be ready until Fall!

“That ain't no good.” Applejack frowned. “Anythin' I can do to help?”

“No, no.” Rarity shook her head. “Frustrating as this is, this isn't an insurmountable issue. It's nothing I can't fix … personally. I'll just need to make a quick jaunt to Manehattan. Immediately. I'll sort everything out with my distributor, and then haul the fabric back with me on the train. Shouldn't take longer than a day or two.”

“Glad ya got a plan. Want me to go with ya?”

“Oh darling,” Rarity smiled wanly, “I would love to spend more time with you, but once I reach Manehattan, I won't be able to spare a minute.” Rarity bustled from one end of her office to another, packing her saddlebags as efficiently as she could. “It'd be unfair, to leave you at loose ends while I'm playing businesswoman. You'd get bored, and quickly.”

“I've had worse.”

“I know, dear. But, the sad fact is, there's absolutely nothing you can do to assist me in this endeavor.” She paused, and then snapped her head upward. “Except, perhaps, for one small thing … “


“Opalescence. Someone will need to take care of her.”

“Huh.” Applejack narrowed her eyes and looked over to where the white cat was curled up on a corner of Rarity's couch. “You sure?”

“Honestly, I'd ask Fluttershy, if it weren't such short notice. And Twilight has too much on her plate already, with her new regal duties. Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash aren't … the most responsible sorts, as we both know. And as for my sister, well … I love Sweetie Belle, but I also love it when my shop is not on fire.”

“Got a point there.” Applejack said, recalling the last misadventure the Cutie Mark Crusaders had been up to. It'd taken a week before they were able to get the stains off the ceiling.

“All you have to do is make sure Opalescence is fed, twice daily. You just need to make sure she gets fed promptly between seven and seven-fifteen in the morning, and between six and six forty-five in the evening. She's likes her routine, you know. All you need to do is cut the fish so each morsel is just smaller than her mouth, but still big enough that she has to chew it thoroughly. It's absolutely vital that she chew each mouthful of food no less than five seconds, and no greater than thirty. Any slower, and she'll choke herself, and any further, and she'll give herself gas. Once she's eaten you'll need to make sure her litterboxes are properly cleaned, and by the time you've finished with that, I imagine little Opalescence may be in the mood for a little bit of exercise. She likes the feather on a string the most, except when she doesn't. You'll know when she doesn't like it because she'll get a tad … bitey. Regardless, whatever you do, and whatever Opalescence may try to tell you, do not, under any circumstances, give her any catnip. I am a proper lady, with a proper reputation, and I simply shall not abide any pet of mine lolling about in a drug-induced haze, like some poppy-brained layabout.” Rarity huffed, and buckled her saddlebags shut. “Did you get all that?”

“Think so?” Applejack said.

“Good, good!” Rarity beamed, and walked over to kiss Applejack, however fleetingly. “I am so, so sorry for the short notice. I promise, I'll make it up to you as soon as I get back.”

“What, you gonna look after Winona for awhile?”

“I'm sure I'll think of something.” Rarity winked at Applejack, and the cowpony felt her heart start to beat a little faster.

“Or, uh, that works too.”

“Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to hurry if I'm to catch the next train.” Rarity plucked an umbrella from the stand near her door, and set out into the drizzly morning. “Ta ta!”

Applejack watched Rarity leave, and sighed a little. Even if it wasn't as perfect as a morning as she'd hoped, it wasn't that bad, after all.

“Looks like it's just you n' me, cat.” Applejack said.

Opalescence didn't deign to look up at her.

“Or maybe just me.”

"Mew," said Opalescence.