• Published 12th Sep 2013
  • 1,278 Views, 22 Comments

Canterlot Wondercolts - risingdusk

Applejack juggles school, work, and family problems, while also helping her friends' relationship problems and falling in love without realising it.

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Chapter 4

Dear Ma and Pa,
I think I'm having a mighty hangover. I dunno how much I drank last night, but I'm feeling it now. I know, I know, y'all won't like that too much, but I was mostly responsible. Twlight took me home 'cause she stayed sober, so I didn't drive. In fact, she took us all home, 'cept for Pinkie cause she was already at her place. Y'all remember that she don't live with her parents, since they in some mining town and wanted her to go to Canterlot High? It's why she can throw a mean party, any time she want.
I dunno why I'm telling you, 'cause y'all knew already. Darn hangover, making me forget things.
But y'all should know that it was a good party, like always. Pinkie sometimes annoys me, and I know that's bad to say against a friend, but when it comes to partying, she's our gal. We played beer pong, Rarity and I against Shy and Pinkie, with Twilight being the judge. We won, only 'cause Shy's terrible at the game, but when Flash joined Pinkie, we had our butts handed to us. And then we did karaoke, and they begged me to stop. I ain't blessed in singing, as y'all know. Shy has a good voice though, and Rarity too. And we danced too, but I think I stumbled more than I danced. Y'all had to go on and get me two left feet, huh?
It was a blast. But thing is I'm worried. And I know, I worry too much, 'bout a lot but I reckon this a good reason this time.
Dash didn't show yesterday. And that ain't like her. Dash takes a liking to a good party like the rest of us. Since Freshman year, she and I try to drink each other under the table. 'Course I win, 'cause no one can beat a country gal, but y'all know how competitive she can get. Then again, y'all prolly didn't even know about the drinking thing, and I'm sorry. I promise I still get my chores done and all, and I only drink if I got the free time.
But back to Dash. She wasn't there. And I guess I wouldn't worry so much, if it wasn't 'cause Shy. What she said got me thinking. See Dash, well, y'all know. She don't go looking for trouble, but it sure finds her. And I'm thinking that if she got into some kind of trouble again, she's gonna need my help. But she's the stubborn type, you know, so I guess ain't no surprise that she didn't say a word to no one. 'Cept Shy, but her and Shy go way back. They's friends before the six of us became a gang.
Still, I ain't liking that she ain't been nowhere to be seen. But we got practice tomorrow, so I'll figure out what's going on with Dash, come hay or highwater.
Anyways, I gotta get back to my chores and try to get rid of this darn headache. Big Mac won't be happy if I keep him waiting.
Miss y'all dearly,

Ponyville once again offered a blistering day. The clear skies promised no rain as it let the sun mercilessly burn any who passed beneath its glare. Applejack's tough skin was already used to the punishment, thanks to Applebucking, but a glance at her reddened team mates told her they were suffering. Most of them were applying sun screen to try and protect themselves, but for others, especially the paler folk, it looked too late already.
There was still some time before practice started, so Applejack did her normal routines; stretching until every muscle was relaxed, jumping jacks and running in place to get her heart pumping good, and then more stretching, because it never hurt. Normally her and Rainbow Dash would have done this together, trash talking the other in good fun, examining the new recruits for this year, and discussing hopes for the track team this year, but to her worries, her friend was nowhere to be seen. This continued to nag at the back of her mind, but she knew her athletic friend was sure to show. For as long as Applejack had known her, Rainbow Dash never ditched a practice.
So she was left alone to contemplate her thoughts this time, while waiting. The rookies of this year, Thunderlane and Lightning Dust, seemed like potentially good players, though just listening to Lightning Dust go on, Applejack was sure they would have an attitude problem with her. Then again, most freshman like to think that they are the biggest and the baddest, so she expected nothing different. Dumb Bell and Hoops were off in there little corner, practicing on their own. At some point last year, the now-juniors gave Rainbow Dash a hard time when she flopped a sprint from last year, but they were soon shut up when she set the high school record in the next meet-up. Applejack hoped there wouldn't be any problems from them this year. Everybody else seemed caught up in their own affairs, and to her satisfaction, she felt like this was a good team. A team that could win the championships.
A sharp whistle rang through the air. Coach Spitfire, stood at the centre with her assistants, Fleetfoot and Soarin. It appeared that none of the alumni could join today, but Applejack knew very well that they would show up eventually. They were probably too busy in their colleges right now.
"Gather up, everybody."
Blinking in confusion, Applejack pushed her way to the front of the crowd, eyes searching for Rainbow Dash but not finding her anywhere. "But Coach, Dash ain't showed yet."
A bright orange eyebrow lifted high above Spitfire's sunglasses. "And she won't be, A.J. You're taking her spot as captain."
"I can't possibly, Coach." The little nag increased to a raging worry, leaving Applejack flustered and confused. "Dash is our captain, and she's gon' show. She ain't one to bail out now!"
"I'm telling you, A.J, Dash will no longer be competing with us this year, leaving you as the senior of the team and our new captain. Now, everybody form up into lanes and get ready for warm ups. We've wasted enough time."
Applejack tried to search for any sign of a joke. Rainbow Dash loved a good prank as much as the next one, and since she was good friends with the coach, it was possible that Spitfire could be in on it. But the coach continued on, guiding the rookies into the running lanes, Fleetfoot and Soarin helping out. As if some other being guided her, Applejack took the point position--Rainbow Dash's spot--and began the team stretches.
It was until she saw Dumb Bell give her a strange look that she realised she was doing them out of order. Legs first, then cardio, then arms, then cardio again. With a heave of frustration, Applejack corrected herself, hearing Rainbow Dash make fun of her in her head. Somehow she made it through the team stretches, so now it was time for the jog around the track. While the coaches showed the team their new positions in the line up, Applejack reflected. First Fluttershy's warning, then Dash's non-appearance at the party, and now Spitfire saying she was off the team? Clearly this wasn't a joke, which could only mean that there was something seriously wrong with her friend.
"A.J, are you deaf?" Spitfire's shout cut into her thoughts. "I blew the whistle three times! Get your rump moving!"
Immediately she took off, too fast at first, and she cursed as she watched her pacing. The rest of the practice was much the same, Applejack being far too distracted to pay attention to what she was doing, Dumb Bell and Hoops snickering, the rookies making snide remarks, and Spitfire constantly losing her temper. When Applejack tripped over nothing while trying to perform a sprint, Spitfire had enough.
"Applejack, what in the hell is wrong with you? Do I need to find a new captain?"
Heat flushed through Applejack's face that had nothing to do with the weather. "I'm real sorry, Coach. Honest, I'm trying."
"Trying isn't going to get us into the championships." When the coach was this mad, it was easy to see why she was called Spitfire. The crimson anger painting her skin and joining the bright orange and yellow hair made her look like an actual fireball. "And if you're going to be my captain, you better start acting like you at least know how to run!"
Her anxiety formed a tight whip on her tongue and struck with a harsh snap."I ain't the captain, Rainbow Dash is!"
Spitfire took off her sunglasses and gave Applejack an even look. Expecting hostility and anger, Applejack was surprised to see a glimmer of sympathy instead, even though her words did not match it. "Come with me. Now."
Ignoring the jeers of her team mates, Applejack followed her coach outside of the track, unsure what to expect, but was mildly shocked that she didn't care. The well-being of her friend was more important than getting kicked off the team, which she was sure was about to happen as they re-entered the locker rooms.
"I knew I was going to have a problem with you when you found out about Dash," Spitfire began, finally coming to a halt.
"It ain't like Dash to not show up, Coach, you know this!"
"A.J, she's not going to be..."
"Y'all can't expect me to believe that, Coach!" Applejack interrupted. "When we last talked, she couldn't stop talking about winning that championship! I reckon it was the only thing she could talk about for months, and I ain't gon' believe y'all sayin' she's not showin' when she's most damn loyal person I know and she ain't one to quit her team!"
"Well she did, and the sooner you realise this, the better you'll be," Spitfire shot back.
"I ain't racing without Rainbow Dash!"
A tense moment passed between the hotheaded coach and the stubborn teenager, but at last Spitfire sighed heavily and laid a hand on Applejack's shoulder. "Listen, A.J, I'm sorry but I can't tell you what's going on with your friend, because at the end of the day, I'm still a teacher and have to follow those damn privacy rules. But I can tell you this. I'm just as worried as you are, kid. When I last saw her, she was in tears, and I'll be damned if I've ever seen Dash cry, but she was. And I know two things. Despite what she told me, I can tell she still wants to race. And you're not going to be able to perform unless you know how she is."
"Sure won't," Applejack muttered, her anxiety spiking at these news.
"So go on, A.J. You're useless to my team right now, and I'm not going to keep you around if you're just going to be a liability. Find your friend and I don't want you back unless Rainbow Dash is beside you."
They were stern words, but a smile formed on Applejack's lips anyways as she embraced her coach gratefully. "Thanks, Coach. I won't let you down."
When Applejack pulled away she saw Spitfire roll her eyes and shake her head, but she smiled all the same. "I know, A.J. If anyone can bring Dash back, it'll be you."

Author's Note:

I'm really sorry this took so long to get up. I got caught up writing on my main novel whenever I had the free time, but work took up most of my time, and now the holidays are here, oh boy. I'll make more of an effort to keep up with this better though, promise!

Do we finally get to find out what happened to Rainbow Dash next chapter? We'll see...

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