• Published 13th Jul 2013
  • 2,661 Views, 43 Comments

Dominoes - MissytheAngle



It all starts with a heavy rainstorm, one event leading to more... and bringing two friends into a new perspective of one another.

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Get Better

Dominoes
by Missy Angel

Get Better

The thin curtains in Applejack’s living room did not shield the morning sunlight from piercing AJ’s shut eyes. The melody from birds outside made the moment all the more peaceful as she awoke with the light beaming down onto her face.

When she tried to get up, though, she failed. Still exhausted, her eyes grew heavy, like they wanted to sleep even more so than she wanted. Despite all the work she had to do that day, her body fought with her mind to stay on the floor and sleep.

Rarity woke up a few minutes later, yawning and stretching. With a gaze outside, she noticed the lack of droplets pressing against the window, replaced with the gleaming sunshine of the early morning. She rose out from her covers, letting the blanket slip off of her back.

Rubbing her eyes, she asked in a mere whisper, “Are you awake, Applejack?” The question always sounded silly, in perspective, but she could not help herself.

In response, Applejack shifted, the blanket tangling around her and Rarity’s question barely registering in her ears. She sniffled and moved so her face was upward. When she did, her head lifted oh so slowly, aching in the process, and turned over to Rarity. She tried to ignore the aches in her head, no matter how relentless they were.

Rarity saw Applejack’s face and froze. “Applejack! Oh my, you look dreadful!” The words escaped her without warning.

The earth pony raised a brow at her in confusion. Not that it mattered, as the details on her face all pointed to the obvious. Her usual bright, orange face paled throughout the night to a duller orange, and her brilliant green eyes were bloodshot, snot dripping down her muzzle.

Applejack attempted a second time to sit up, but was unsuccessful, pain once again creeping into her head - ten fold this time. She cradled her head and groaned. “Must’ve gotten a lil’ cold from last night,” she stated the obvious, but Rarity was more concerned with how she sounded, her timbre hoarse and stuffy.

“Well, you shouldn't have been working so much in the rain like that,” Rarity said in a soft voice, putting her hoof against Applejack’s forehead to check how warm she felt. It took no time for the heat to reach the tip of her hoof, and she drew it back. “Ooh, dear, you’re awfully warm.”

She leaned down towards her. “Come on, a floor is not the best place to rest. I’ll help you upstairs.” Rarity turned and took a blanket in her blue magic. She reached out to help Applejack up, but when she only felt air, her eyes went back to AJ, who forced herself onto her hooves.

“What are you doing?” Rarity asked before Applejack could so much as touch the door she was walking towards.

“Headin’ out to the farm. What’cha think I’m doin’?” Applejack flipped her hat from the floor where she placed it atop her messy mane. It was a simple movement, and despite how slowly she did it, she held her forehead again, forcing back a groan.

Lips pouting out, Rarity glared at her. She expected nothing less from the stubborn pony, but she did not want to fight her about it—not when she was in a weaker condition. After considering what to say, she asked, “But, Applejack, how can you possibly work when you’re... like this? I doubt you can get much done.”

“Better than nothin’,” was Applejack’s simple reply, her eyes stern behind the fog.

“Not when you can barely stand up or do anything without feeling pain!” At her rebuttal, Rarity could hear her voice rising the long Applejack refused. Applejack’s ears fell back at the loud noise.

She shook her head and continued, getting her face in Rarity's with a deep determination in it, “But I still got work to do. Can’t let a dang cold get the best of me.”

"But what if it will?"

"It. Won't."

Rarity grit her teeth. Silence followed, and it became a staring contest for them. However, she stopped and took a step back with her gaze at the floor. With their arguing getting nowhere, she knew another tactic was needed. She took a good huff of air. “If you try to work while you’re sick, it’ll only get worse, and then you definitely can’t work!” she said, her tone now filled with far more concern than harshness it was starting to build. She wrapped the nearest blanket around Applejack, whose annoyance began to slip away when Rarity spoke, her eyes pleading. “I’d hate to see you tire yourself even more for some apples. Please?”

The look Rarity gave her made Applejack ponder for a moment. With a pout, she answered, “... Fine.”

Rarity breathed out in relief. “Good! Here, let me help you upstairs.”

“I can get up there myself,” Applejack argued, already heading up the stairs, albeit at a slow pace. “I have a cold, not a broken hoof.”

Rarity followed AJ up the stairs, deciding not to argue this time. Applejack’s walk was slow and often clumsy, her hooves taking their time to take each step, but Rarity was right behind her, should she need any help.

They got to Applejack’s room, and she welcomed her bed with a content exhale through her nose. The soft blankets draped around her body, the softness relaxing any tension in her muscles. Rarity trotted over, and Applejack lay down against the pillow, eyes shutting for just a moment.

Glancing out the window, though, she saw only the trees atop the hills with apples ready to be bucked. Apples she could not get to today, but her brother would. A frown fell on her face, and she turned away before any more guilt could sneak inside her.

“I just hope my family’ll work okay without me,” she mumbled under my breath, but apparently loud enough for her friend to hear and respond.

“I’m sure the rest of your family can take care of the farm just fine,” she reassured AJ, wrapping the covers around Applejack in a neat way, smoothing out any crinkles. “Big Mac is strong and hardworking, much like yourself, and who knows? Maybe Apple Bloom can help, too—has she ever done work in the Acres yet?”

Distracted by the question, Applejack lay back against the pillow and nodded. “Sometimes, but not really. She’s usually out with her friends doin’ a billion other things to get her Cutie Mark. I could probably ask her to help, if she wants. She’s older now... maybe she’ll join the family tradition.” Her face lit up with that tiny hope. She would have continued rambling on if a sneeze didn't interrupt her.

“If only I could say the same with Sweetie Belle,” Rarity mused, knowing her hope was pointless, considering Sweetie had... different tastes in style. She left her thoughts and said, “I’ll go, and I can get something for you, too. Be right back... and don’t move,” she added with stern tone, her gaze sharpening.

Applejack glared back but curled deeper into the blankets once the unicorn left. As Rarity shut the door with a careful pull, three fillies crossed her path, stopping her.

“What’s goin’ on? Is somethin’ wrong with Applejack?” Apple Bloom asked, her eyes wide and her voice cracking at the second question. The girls leaned aside to peep inside, despite the door not being open for them to look through.

Rarity waved an arm at them, guiding away from said door. “She’s caught a cold from working so hard yesterday, so she needs to rest up for the day. But I’ll be helping take care of her, so don’t worry,” she reassured the filly with a gentle smile.

“Oh, okay.” Apple Bloom, though still holding some worry, breathed easier now. “Maybe I should go ‘n’ tell Big Mac and Granny ‘bout this. It’ll be pretty hard to get all them apples if it’s just my brother doin’ it.”

Scootaloo’s face lit up. “Hey, maybe we can help!” she suggested, beaming widely.

“Exactly how?” Apple Bloom tilted her head.

Sweetie apparently read Scootaloo’s mind and joined in. “Yeah! We can work together and make it easier, too.”

“But haven’t we tried workin’ with my family’s farm before?”

The other fillies pondered that for a moment thinking over the numerous activities they tried out in the past, tapping their chins Scootaloo was the one to answer. “I don’t... think we’ve done it before.”

“Not that I can remember,” Sweetie Belle added, shrugging.

Apple Bloom stood dumbfounded for a moment, blinking. “Okay, then. You know what that means.” Her smile returned, her eyes sparkling.

The three girls, standing side-by-side, joined in a chorus of, “GO CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS APPLE BUCKERS GO!” right in Rarity’s ear. She swore she felt the air push against her face, some of her mane thrown into the air. The next thing she knew, they disappeared, the only sound heard being tiny hooves heading down the stairs.

“Sweetie Belle, do try not to get too dirty out there! I know you don’t like me giving you a bath, but if I must—” Rarity started to call out at the top of the staircase.

“Oh, c’mon, Rarity!” Sweetie whined in the distance while giggling from the other two following not far behind. Once the door shut, silence lingered in the still wind of the house, which sounded like a symphony to her ears now that the girls had left.

A creak cut into the quiet, and Rarity turned to the source of the sound. A sniffling Applejack peeked out from the open door. “I heard the girls.” She rubbed her muzzle, asking, “They doin’ alright?”

“Yes, they’re fine, but why are you out of bed?” Rarity asked, aware of how motherly she sounded, but she did not care. She pointed into the room. “You should stay in your bed for a good majority of the day if you plan to get better.”

“What if I have to go to the bathroom?”

“Do you have to go now?”

“Not... right now.” Blush painted the farmer’s cheeks.

Rarity felt her eye twitch, but she refused to lose. Using the technique Twilight used to calm herself down from any stress, she breathed in and out with a quick gesture of her hoof. “Can you be so kind to just stay in bed?” she requested.

Applejack, despite rolling her eyes, went back inside, Rarity joining suit. She struggled not to make a big deal out of it, but Applejack’s concern about her farm and her family was hard for Rarity to fight against. Already, her patience began to dwindle.

She took a peek at the window that gave her a good glimpse of the hills of the farm as she lay down. “They out there yet? I can’t imagine what they’re doing... considering how they usually do things... differently.”

Rarity giggled in agreement and turned. Instantly an idea flashed in her mind, her eyes flickering with mischief. Oh, it was childish and silly, but she hoped she'd get a response she wanted. She smiled warmly at Applejack when she looked back at her. “Oh, dear, you’re worrying about nothing. I’ll go see.”

The blank expression on AJ’s face showed that she did not notice Rarity’s fake grin before she went over to the window. “What’s the worst that could—” Her smile slipped away. “Sweet Celestia’s crown!”

“What?” Applejack rose from her bed, tossing the blankets away from her body. She flipped so her hooves touched the floor, getting ready to get up, should there be a problem.

“The girls set a whole patch of the farm on fire!”

“They what?!” AJ’s scream was filled with panic, and she began getting out of her bed, on the verge of jumping out. She reached the window before Rarity could stop her, ready to knock her down if she must.

Rarity tried to place a hoof in her way, opening to but Applejack saw the serenity outside. Everything was as it should have been. Big Mac already began his work in the fields, while Apple Bloom and her friends were working on one tree with no signs of flames anywhere. With a sneer at Rarity, Applejack held back any urges to yell, mostly because that would threaten to hurt her voice.

Rarity blushed and smiled weakly. “Sorry, Applejack, I simply couldn’t help myself. But I think it’s for the better. It proves that you have nothing to be concerned about.” She patted AJ’s back. When she saw her shoulders sag, Rarity blinked. "I apologize for upsetting you so much, though."

“It’s okay," Applejack said, the problem nonexistent, but her stress still dangling above her.

With her lips pursed, Rarity watched Applejack lay back down into bed, a frown slipping down. Having tricked her like that made her feel bad. A heavy sadness replaced any other emotion from before. Seeing Applejack’s disappointed face only worsened how she felt, as well as make her realize how worried Applejack was for her farm, more so than she figured.

“I didn't realize how concerned you were. I’m sorry,” she apologized again.

“Of course I am. It’s like you with your work, no doubt. How would you feel if I did the same thing, except with your shop?” Applejack asked, a bit more of a snap to her voice than she planned, which only hurt Rarity even more. She might as well have punched her right in the heart. Applejack paused, mulling over her words before she added, “I know you were tryin’ to help me and all, but—”

“I could have done it in a far more properly manner,” Rarity finished for her, stopping Applejack in a second.

“Yeah...” Applejack tilted her Stetson down over her face.

Rarity turned to the side, head bowing down. “I’ll be right back, then. I still have to get some things.” With a new motivation to have Applejack forgive her, she left the room.

***

Upon Rarity’s return, a few things levitated around her in a blue aura. Applejack couldn’t help but peek back up when she came in. The unicorn wore what seemed similar to surgical mask, which Applejack couldn’t help but stare at the most.

“What’s with the, uh...?” Instead of saying it, she pointed at the cover over Rarity’s mouth. Of all the things she expected Rarity to bring, that wasn’t one of them. Perhaps she should've.

“What? I want to be sure I don’t catch a cold, either! What’s so wrong with that?” said Rarity, her words muffled.

With a huff, Applejack shook her head. “I promise I won’t make ya sick. Will it kill ya to take it off?”

Rarity hesitated. “No, but... oh, fine!” She tore the mask off and placed it aside, trotting over to AJ with the other things in tow. “We still need to take your temperature real quick, just to see how bad you are.” With a flicker of it, she stuck the thermometer into Applejack’s mouth before Applejack could say a word, though the farmer’s knitted eyebrows said a lot that she could not say at the moment.

“Don’t give me that look. Might as well get this over with; no use complaining about it," Rarity said, pointing at her. Applejack grumbled under the thermometer, but thankfully didn't spit it out or anything else Rarity would simply grimace at.

After a minute, she took it out and rose it up to observe it as best as possible, squinting. “104. Still awfully ill, but a little rest and medicine should do the trick,” Rarity announced, putting the thermometer on a nearby table.

“You came prepared,” Applejack noted.

“Why wouldn't I? Don’t you know me better?” she teased, flashing a grin. Searching to her right, she brought forward a bag of ice. “It’ll be pretty cold at first, but it’ll help with how warm you feel.”

Applejack nodded, and Rarity placed the bag on her forehead, but first taking off her hat. She shivered at first, but soon, the trembling ceased. With a warm sigh, AJ could feel some of the strain escaping her. With her hat off, some strands of her mane slipped on her face. Before she could consider tossing them aside, Rarity caught them first with a delicate touch.

Rather than complain about her friend’s help, Applejack shut her eyes and allowed the silence to fill the room. Even Rarity was strangely quiet, which she didn't bother asking. Rather than talk, they let the calm speak for them.

Then a grumbling sound interrupted the hushed tone. Both mares gazed at Applejack’s stomach, with Applejack blushing a light pink.

Rarity’s smirk was impossible to hold back. “I suppose you want something to eat?”

“What was your first clue?” Applejack joked back. When she saw Rarity get up to leave, she held out a hoof. “Are you sure I just can’t get it myse-?”

The unicorn had already left, not a word spoken, and leaving Applejack talking to air.

***

“I usually make some good ‘ol soup for when my kin ain’t feeling well. Always perks ‘em up a little,” Granny Smith explained, stirring the pot as she stood in front of it on her hind legs.

The kitchen competed with Rarity’s when it came to spotlessness. She was almost envious, but her attention went back to Granny Smith, who offered to give her something for Applejack. With a last few clockwise swirls, Granny grabbed a spoon and poured the soup into a bowl. She popped a single tiny thing in there and let Rarity take it.

Rarity glanced down at the bowl. Its contents looked like nothing special, its coloring a dull peach color. Since she was not the one eating it, though, she didn't say anything in that regard. “I’m sure she’ll love it. The poor dear has been so concerned about not being able to work today. I just hope she can relax.”

“Ah, the trees ain’t going anywhere. One day without her workin’ so hard won’t mean much for me. She does enough as it is,” Granny said. “Plus, I know she can’t stand bein’ treated like a filly when she’s sick, so I know it’s a toughie to hold her down.”

I had no idea, Rarity wanted to say, but decided to keep it to herself.

“She’ll come ‘round, though.” Then Granny Smith pointed into the bowl. “By the way, her medicine is in there. Just pretend it isn't, though.”

“Wh-?”

“Stubborn one just can’t stand takin' medicine. We Apples usually handle things ourselves when we have problems, but a little change won’t kill anypony.”

Rarity nodded and headed upstairs, where she found AJ resting exactly where she expected her. Only this time, she was writing in her book.

Rarity sat herself down in a chair and waited for her to realize she was sitting there. She sat there for a moment, watching Applejack work on her writing, deep in thought and concentration painted on her face. When Applejack’s eyes met Rarity’s, she just saw a blinking, curious eyed unicorn. She stopped her writing and placed the book right on her chest. “So, what are you writing about?” Rarity asked.

“What part of ‘diary’ is hard to understand?” AJ asked, sliding it under her mattress.

“Don’t be so defensive, dear. I have one of my own, so I understand.”

“Still. No need to eavesdrop on me."

"Eavesdrop is listening in on a conversation, not writing, silly." She smiled, earning a less amused look from Applejack.

"You know what I - "

“Just eat your soup. Your grandmother made it," Rarity interrupted, holding up the bowl of soup.

Applejack’s eyes lit up. “Great! Granny always makes the best soup for when we’re sick,” she said, her face perking up as if just those words were the cure. She sat up, and Rarity reached to hand it to her.

Her lips pursed and moved around, and when her eyes shut, she let out a few small noises. That alone should have warned Rarity, but it was too late for her to do anything before Applejack let out a loud sneeze. Really loud.

Ah-CHOOOO!

The air from Applejack's largest sneeze flew right in Rarity's direction. While the unicorn did not feel the impact too much, the bowl in front of her did. With not much holding it up, the bowl was forced from Rarity's grasp and into her face, all the soup meeting with her face. She let the bowl drop onto the bed, revealing only her blue eyes behind all the dull peach colored soup that the bowl slipped onto her. Her eyes stared in no particular direction, like she was looking up into space.

“Oh, sorry, Rarity! I didn't mean—”

Rarity poked up a hoof to cut her off. “Excuse me a moment,” she said, still expressionless as she departed from the room and went into the bathroom in the next room.

Running water echoed into the hallways for a good minute or so; in that time, Applejack thought over what Rarity had done just for her. Walking left and right to help her, even when she tried to raise up against it in her stubbornness. And since the Crusaders weren't burning up the acres, she had a feeling they'd get things done today without her. Staring at the ceiling,

When Rarity returned, her white face glowed from the water; even her hair had a glow to it, as well as a good brush. Her smile, too, shined with content. “Much better.”

Applejack's thoughts remained in space, but she turned to Rarity, smiling sheepishly. "You okay?”

Once taking a deep breath, Rarity walked over to her, trying her best to relax herself and not yell about the mess. It was done with, at least, her coat and hair brushed and done. “It could be worse, I suppose. When you're a unicorn, even if you have control over your magic, it can get pretty... out of control, when you're sick.”

“Good thing I ain't a unicorn, then.”

“I suppose so. Sweetie Belle has yet to have that problem, and I just know I'll be the one stuck with her when it does.”

“Can't be that bad, can it?”

Rarity leaned against the bed. “When I last got sick, I remember shattering all of our windows on the first floor. Oh, it was awful; completely embarrassing. Since then, I specifically got magic-proof windows brought in.” She shook her head at the old memories.

A chuckle made her lift her head to Applejack. The expression on Rarity's face made her stop, but she said with a sneeze, “C'mon, now, it's pretty funny.”

Eyes of cobalt glinted. “How about we see how funny it is when I accidentally break all the windows in this room?” Her lips twitched upward into a mischievous look.

“No, ma'am, I like my windows as they are; not scattering all over the house, thank you very much.”

Applejack’s straight face couldn't hold for long, and soon they both started laughing. Once that ended, Applejack thought over something. Before Rarity could ask about it, the blond pony said in a low octave, “I’m sorry.”

Rarity stared at her, surprised. “For what?”

“For snappin’ before. I know you were just tryin’ to help ‘n’ all.”

Rarity rolled her eyes. “Dear, no need to make a big deal out of it now. But you’re forgiven, as long as you can forgive me for starting that whole stupid thing.”

“Ah, it’s no big deal. I just can't believe you're helping me out this much. I mean, don't ya have your own things to do today?”

Rarity's eyes fell to the floor. In the beginning, this was something she thought of when she decided to stay and help her friend. There were already clients to send their dresses to, designs to be sewn and created as it was. With a whole day behind on her work, her mind stressed over how much work that piled up upon her return.

With that in mind, she stared at her sick friend, and all that worry disappeared for a while. “Well, yes, but you're my friend, and when a friend has a problem that I can help with, I'll be there for them.” She put a hoof on Applejack's shoulder, a smile stretching on her lips.

Rarity’s eyes glossed over for a moment before her face lit up. “You know what? I’ll even sing you a little song!”

“... Come again?”

With a giggle, Rarity crossed her hooves in front of her and explained, “Oh, it’s this adorable song my mother sang to me when I was younger whenever I got sick. It was a cute little lullaby, and... well, it certainly didn't make me feel better, but I would usually fall fast asleep to it.”

“Alright.” AJ shrugged, though not certain what to think of this. “Go ahead.”

She immediately began the song, closing her eyes and leaning in to allow her soft melody carry on in Applejack’s ears. “Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur. Ha—

“Soft Kitty?” Applejack echoed, still taking the time to understand what was going on. She raised an eyebrow.

“Yes,” Rarity answered simply, her eyes opening but her eyebrows tilted down. “But please, if you will, don’t interrupt me next time. Now I have to start over.”

AJ nearly sat up, sniffing. “Oh, no, Rare. It’s fine. Y-you’ve already done enough for me-”

“But I must!” Rarity’s exclamation made Applejack lay back down to avoid any more damage to her hearing. “I can’t just go on like that when I was cut off.” The exaggeration in her statement displayed a dramatic tone Applejack couldn’t help but grin at. It was something she always found amusing, almost adorable, coming from such a properly mannered mare.

“Okay, go on,” she played along.

Rarity composed and allowed herself to start over. “Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur...” she sang, reaching out to fluff Applejack’s pillow.

Hearing Rarity’s smooth and lovely voice so close to her ear, Applejack felt the tension on her shoulders loosen up. Although a random and silly sounding song, it was fairly adorable and nice to listen to, something sweet and quiet to settle her down and help her drift to sleep. Content with the peace and falling deeper into the pillows, Applejack drifted to sleep, her eyes shutting.

Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr.” Once Rarity completed the song, she looked over at her friend. Applejack's eyes were closed, and her breathing showed the rhythm of one who had fallen asleep.

Her laughter was in a small octave, and she spoke in a gentle voice, “And you doubted Soft Kitty. Good night, Applejack.”

Author's Note:

THIS. THIS DAMN THING!

From several rewrites to changing prereaders, this took WAY longer than I intended. I had this ready around a month ago. So so SO sorry! I can only hope this is a good enough chapter so it sorta makes up for that long wait.

The next chapter is going pretty well, at the very least.