• Published 20th Oct 2011
  • 2,259 Views, 18 Comments

Ballad of Autumn Dreams - Cadence



As Rainbow goes to work with AJ, they find an old friendship renewed, and perhaps a bit more.

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Spring

Ballad of Autumn Dreams

The Spring of an Old Friendship

Snow hung heavy on the ground all over Ponyville. It piled on top of houses and trees, transforming the entire landscape into something pristine and beautiful. With its white ‘frosting’, Sugarcube Corner looked even more like a gingerbread house than usual and even the tree housing the Library had a nice festive look to it. The trees of Sweet Apple Acres, lined up in their rows with their bare brown trunks sticking out of the snow, held a tranquil quality that could only be found in the winter time.

Applejack looked over all of this from the hill overlooking her farm, a little smile playing across her face. Winter was always her favorite time of the year. As much as she honestly enjoyed working the farm, planting and tilling in the Spring, tending and growing in the Summer, and then harvesting and cleaning in the Fall, this time of rest when the land fell into a deep sleep to rejuvenate itself for the new growing season always held a special place in her heart. There wasn’t any time for that now though.

Snapping out of her thoughts with a soft sigh, Applejack shook her head for a moment before looking down at the plow-ponies who were hard at work clearing the farms of snow. Today was the last day of Winter, when Ponyville held its annual Winter Wrap-Up to make way for the coming Spring. As usual, Applejack was in charge of making sure the farm was ready to begin growing food for the coming year. Following the success of the previous year’s Winter Wrap-Up, her friend Twilight Sparkle had been put in charge of organizing the entire thing and, thanks to her careful planning, everything was running far ahead of schedule.

As her eyes scanned over the farm once more, she noticed something seemed out of place. Glancing about, she saw it again, a speck of cyan amidst the white and brown landscape.

“Why, if Ah didn’t know any better, Ah’d say that was...” She began to say, squinting her eyes for a better look. “Rainbow Dash!”

Gritting her teeth angrily, the earth pony began to slide herself down the snowy hill, hopping off at the last second to begin galloping towards where she’d spotted the pegasus. Upon drawing nearer, she found her friend laying out in one of the leafless apple trees just as she’d expected.

“Rainbow Dash, what the hay do you think yer doin’?” She asked, giving the tree a hard buck that knocked the pegasus right out of the branches. “Ain’t you supposed to be up helpin’ the other pegasi clear up the clouds? Ya know, doin’ yer job?”

Rainbow Dash picked herself up from the ground, rubbing her head with a hoof before shooting a glare at her friend. “Ow... what was that for, Applejack? I was just taking a little break, that’s not a crime. Besides, it’s not like that’s going to take a while. I’ve got plenty of time.”

Applejack gave a little groan but bit back her initial reply, trying to keep her growing frustration out of her voice as she spoke up again. “Now sugarcube, Ah know ya’ll think yer pretty fast and all, and that, thanks to Twilight, this year’s Wrap-Up’s a mite bit ahead of schedule. But that’s because everypony’s doin’ their part. We all gotta work together for this, Rainbow, and that means you too.”

Even as she was getting berated by her friend, Rainbow simply waved it off and flew back up to her branch, closing her eyes again. “Yeah, yeah. I’ve already heard this whole lecture from Twi and Fluttershy. At least, I think that’s what she was trying to say... anyways, I’ll have the sky cleared up in a few.”

“You... you didn’t think that maybe they had a point?” Applejack said, the calm mask she’d been wearing quickly slipping. “Ah mean, ya’ll only had one of the most important parts of the whole thing. Without you breakin’ up those clouds, the sun ain’t gunna be able to shine down and melt the snow so we can plant the crops we need. But here you are... sleepin’ on the job!”

At this, the pegasus’ eyes opened again and she pointed down to the farmer pony with a frown. “Hey, the greatest flier in all of Equestria, the pegasus who will one day join the Wonderbolts, does not sleep on the job. I was napping. There’s a difference.”

Applejack stood there staring at her friend for a moment before turning away with a sigh, shaking her head slowly. “There ain’t no hope for you, Rainbow. Y’all wouldn’t know a decent day’s work if it came up and bit you on the backside.”

There was a fluttering of wings as Rainbow Dash hopped down behind the earth pony, her eyes narrowed into an angry glare. “You care to say that to my face, AJ?”

Though anger still flashed in her eyes, the orange pony gave her friend a little smirk as she turned around, stepping right up to the pegasus. “Ah said, y’all wouldn’t know a decent day’s work if it came up and bit you on the backside.”

“Oh yeah?” Dash said, her wings flaring up aggressively as she got right up in Applejack’s face. “I can work just as hard as you can, if not harder. Bucking a couple of apple trees? Psh, I can do that in my sleep.”

“Is that so? How’s about we make a little wager then. You come down to the farm and help out during this entire season, from plantin’ all the way to Applebuck season. If ya’ll can do it and do a good job of it, then Ah’ll let you ‘nap’ in mah trees whenever you want.”

“Nice try AJ, but that’s a lot of work for something as simple as that. I mean, I do that anyways. You’re going to have to throw something else in if you want me to agree.”

Applejack thought this over for a few seconds before replying. “Ah’ll give you mah hat if’n you win, and you can sleep in the trees whenever you want. That good enough for you, Rainbow?”

“You’re... hat? Really? Huh, you must be pretty serious about this whole thing if you’re willing to put that at risk. You never go anywhere without it.” Dash said, her eyes widening a bit at this offer before a look of caution came over her. “What happens if I lose, not that I’m going to of course, but what if?”

“Heh, then you’ve got to go into Ponyville and tell everypony that you can’t handle the work. That yer mouth was makin’ promises your legs couldn’t keep.” Applejack said with a sly grin. “Or, if you’d prefer, ya’ll can come back next season and do it again.”

As her friend finished speaking, Dash gave the matter some serious thought. On the one side, if she went through with this and won, Applejack could never again tell her off for napping at the farm and she’d get the hat. While she’d probably give that back anyways, it was the image of this that mattered. On the other hoof though, if she somehow managed to lose, that would be a huge blow to her own image. She’d be the laughingstock of the entire town forever. Even Scootaloo wouldn’t be able to put a positive spin on the news. Well, actually she’d probably still be able to do that, but that wouldn’t matter to anypony else.

“Alright, you’ve got yourself a bet. Don’t come crying to me once you lose.” The pegasus responded with a cocky smile.

“Heh, Ah don’t think there’s any need to worry about that.”

With that, the two mares spit on their hooves and put them together to seal the bet, each giving the other a confident grin, certain that they would be the one to win.

“Well, Ah’ve got to get back to work. The ground ain’t gonna clear itself. Meet me back here tomorrow by sunrise and we’ll get this bet goin’. We’ve got a lot’a work to be doin’, so you’d best get plenty of sleep. Yer gonna need it.”

The pegasus simply gave her a little smirk in return before the two parted ways, their previous argument mostly forgotten in the light of this new competition.

________________________________________

Light flowed across all of Equestria as Celestia’s sun rose to mark the start of a new day. In the small town of Ponyville, the Winter Wrap-Up had wrapped up on time, leaving the skies clear and all the snow and ice melted away. Over at Sweet Apple Acres, an orange earth pony was watching the orb of fire slowly rise in the sky with an irritated look, tapping a hoof on the ground impatiently.

“C’mon now, Rainbow... where are ya?” She muttered to herself, looking up in the sky for any sign of the rainbow maned pegasus. “Ya should’ve been here an hour ago...”

Before too much longer, she spotted a cyan colored blur shooting through the sky toward the orchard, her friend gliding down to a stop beside her. The pegasus’ normally unruly mane was even more so than normal and she was sporting a glower on her face, though it was nothing compared to the look Applejack was giving her.

“Ugh... hey, AJ.” She said with a little yawn.

“Don’t y’all ‘hey, AJ’ me. Yer late Rainbow Dash. Ah asked ya to be here before sunrise and look! We’ve already lost a good hour we coulda been usin’ to work.”

“I was tired! What sort of pony gets up this early in the morning anyways? Besides, if this time is so important, why didn’t you just go ahead and get started without me?”

“Ah wanted to, but Big Macintosh said Ah should wait here fer you to show up while he and Caramel went ahead and got started. Now let’s get goin’. The two of us got a lot of work ta do if we want to catch up.”

“Fine, fine... ugh, why’d I even agree to this stupid bet in the first place...” Rainbow said, shaking her head to try and clear away some of the drowsiness as she gave another yawn. “So... what exactly are we going to be doing today? All the apple trees still look pretty dead to me, so I don’t guess we’re going to be harvesting anything for a while.”

“They ain’t dead, they’re resting. There’s a difference.” Applejack said with a little smirk before starting to head off through the trees. “C’mon, Ah’ll explain along the way.”

Rainbow Dash began to follow along with her as the earth pony explained what they were going to be doing for the next couple of days. “Well, Ah know we’re called Sweet Apple Acres, but that ain't all we grow here. Apples don’t grow year round, after all. During the Spring, we plant other things. Carrots, celery, grass, that kinda thing. That’s what we’ll be doin’ today, plantin’ the seeds after Big Macintosh and Caramel finish plowin’ the fields.”

“That’s it? I had to get up this early just to plant some seeds? I thought this was supposed to be hard work. Several other ponies do that too and don’t seem to have much trouble with it.”

“Yeah, well they don’t have to plant entire fields of seeds. Besides, if you’re lookin’ fer somethin’ a might bit tougher, why don’t ya’ll try pullin’ one of the plows? That ought’a live up ta what you were expectin’.”

“Hmm... you know, I think I might just do that.” Rainbow replied, thinking this would be a great way to one up her friend by doing something the farmer pony couldn’t. “After all, how hard can it be?”

Applejack gave her a little smirk in reply but said nothing as they walked on. Before too much longer, the two ponies came upon a vast expanse of flat land, almost half of it already tilled into neat rows by the two ponies they could see at the far side. Rainbow Dash’s heart sank a bit at the sheer size of the field, though she did her best to keep this hidden from her friend as the earth pony stepped forward to call out to the plowponies as they drew nearer.

“Big Macintosh, Caramel, one of you ponies mind steppin’ out and givin’ me a hoof with the seedin’ fer a bit? Rainbow here reckons she can handle plowin’ and wants ta give it a shot.”

As the two colts finished off their rows, Caramel gave a rather dubious look to Big Mac. Getting a nod from the red earth pony, he stepped out from his plow to let Rainbow Dash take over.

“You sure you’re up for this? It’s a lot tougher than it might look.” He said as he walked past the pegasus.

Dash gave him a cocky smile and nodded as she walked up to the plow. “I can handle it. I’ll have this field finished up in ten seconds flat. Watch me.”

The colt continued to look fairly skeptical but gave a little shrug and headed over to help Applejack gather up the seeds they would be planting. Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash stepped up to the plow she was supposed to be pulling with a somewhat confused look. She’d seen the plows used during the Winter Wrap-Up, almost like little push carts with a blade on the front, but this didn’t look anything like that. After a bit of trial and error, she managed to put on the harness attached to the huge metal plow without it interfering with her wings.

That done, she turned to gaze out at the long way ahead of her and gave a little gulp before getting started with her task. She began to pull against the harness around her, digging her hooves into the ground with gritted teeth... and the plow moved maybe an inch. Gasping a bit, she stopped to catch her breath, turning back to glower at the plow.

“Oh, so that’s how it’s going to be, huh? Well, I’m not going to let you win that easily!” She muttered before taking a deep breath and giving it another go.

Rainbow’s muscles strained, her legs ached, but as she took a step forward, she could feel the plow sliding through the ground. Another step, and another, and she slowly began to make her way across the field. It was hard work, harder than just about anything she had ever tried to do in her life. Every step was a battle and her entire body seemed to be screaming in protest, but she refused to give in. Thankfully, she didn’t have to bother too much with keeping the plow straight as she didn’t think she could get it to turn even if she wanted to. Finally, she made it to the end of the row and slumped down to the ground, breathing heavily but wearing a proud grin at her accomplishment.

“Nicely done, sugarcube. Not quite ten seconds, but still good. Honestly, Ah didn’t think ya had it in you but you sure showed me. Now, ya’ll just need to turn that thing around and get started on the next, oh, twenty or thirty rows.” Applejack called out to her.

Rainbow Dash’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped at that. “T-twenty or thirty rows? Er, I mean, that was fun and all, but I don’t think it’s quite my style. Yeah... how bout I just stick to planting seeds instead so Caramel can get back to work.”

Her friend chuckled a bit at those words but gave a little shrug. “Whatever you say, Rainbow.”

Gratefully, the pegasus unhitched herself from the plow and handed the harness back to the colt before making her way over to where Applejack was sowing seeds from the bag she was carrying with her. Taking up the bag left behind by Caramel, Rainbow Dash began to mimic her friend’s actions, scattering the seeds upon the freshly tilled earth. She worked alongside the earth pony for a while before finally speaking up.

“You know, I think I see why you don’t pull one of the plows yourself now. Those things are so heavy, I don’t see how even Big Mac can do it.” She said, shaking her head slowly as she turned to watch the two colts for a second.

“Nah, that’s not it at all, Rainbow. Ah pull the plows sometimes, when Macintosh is sick or injured or somethin’. Shoot, before Caramel came down here to help out, Ah was out there everyday, plowin’ right beside mah brother. It’s just that... well, the colts have always been the ones ta do all the plowin’. That’s the way mah pappy ran things and his pa before him. It’s just the way things are done.”

“So... you’re saying you don’t have trouble pulling that thing around?” Rainbow asked, a frown forming on her face. “That those two only do it because that’s how things are supposed to work?”

“Now, Ah never said that.” Her friend replied with a little chuckle, glancing over to the pegasus. “Course Ah have trouble pullin’ it. That thing’s heavy! Ya get used ta it though and ya get stronger so it’s not so bad anymore.”

Rainbow mulled over these words as they went back to their work. If what her friend had said was true, then experience must be all she lacked. She knew she was at least as strong as the orange pony, she’d never lost a hoof wrestle with her ever. Then again, she’d only ever won a few times...

Time passed as the two ponies moved up and down the rows, sowing the seeds as they went along. Though it wasn’t particularly hard work, as Rainbow had pointed out before, it was extremely tedious and dull. By the time they were halfway across the field, the pegasus had resorted to counting the number of steps it took to get down each row to pass the time. Before too long, her hooves and back were aching as well from the slow walk she had to do in order to properly spread the seeds out.

“Ugh, can’t we take a break yet? I’m bored out of my mind... anything would be better than this! I’d rather listen to one of Twilight’s lectures than keep going...”

“Quit yer complainin’, Rainbow. Ah promise we’ll take a break fer lunch before too much longer, but ya got ta stick it out til then. Unless ya’ll would rather call off the bet right now.”

“Huh, as if! I’m still going to win this thing.” Rainbow said, though she made a point not to complain out loud again.

Finally, after what had seemed like far too long for the blue pegasus, they finished off the final row. Applejack looked out over the field for a second before nodding and turning around to face the other three ponies, Big Macintosh and Caramel having grabbed seed bags of their own to help out once the plowing was finished.

“Well, that’s that. Ah reckon we can have us a nice, big lunch now. Heh, Ah’ll even fix up some cold apple cider ta go with it.” The orange pony said, giving a wide smile as two of the other three cheered at that while Big Macintosh merely gave a nod.

As they began to make their way back towards the house where Granny Smith most likely had a good meal waiting for them, Rainbow Dash grinned widely as she flew alongside her friend.

“Whew, I’m glad that’s over! I’ll admit, it was a bit tougher than I’d thought it would be, but nothing Ponyville’s number one pegasus couldn’t handle.” She said, pulling a little loop in the air before landing again beside Applejack.

“Glad ta see yer all full of energy, Sugarcube. Ya’ll shouldn’t have any trouble once we start workin’ on the next field then.”

Applejack gave a little smirk as her friend stopped dead, a look of shock on her face. It doesn’t take much longer before they all arrive at house, where Granny Smith has indeed set out a nice big meal for them to enjoy. Rainbow Dash soon regained her composure after filling up on delicious food and cold cider, and she even found herself chatting and joking around with Caramel, a pony she normally wouldn’t have thought to spend much time with. As it turned out, he was actually a rather nice colt and the two got along quite well.

After this short break though, it was soon right back to work for the four of them. The two colts once again took on the harnesses and began to pull the heavy plows across a new field while Applejack and Rainbow Dash followed behind with the seed bags. Though the boredom and aches set in once more, the pegasus pressed on anyways, determined not to show any signs of weakness.

It wasn’t until the sun was beginning to set to make way for Luna’s night that their work was finally completed, the second field completely planted as the first had been. Exhausted and worn out after a long day of work, Rainbow Dash had to nearly drag herself along as she followed Applejack back to the house.

“Not bad fer yer first day, Rainbow. Ah bit slow at first, but that’s ta be expected. You’ll definitely get better as the season goes on. Now, Ah expect ta see you here again tomorrow, bright and early. Best get yerself a good night’s rest so you’ll be ready. See ya then!”

“Yeah... see you then.” The pegasus replied, yawning lightly.

She waved goodbye to her friend before flying off towards her cloud home, so tired that she had barely made it to the bed before she fell right asleep.

________________________________________

The sun was already making its way up the sky by the time Rainbow Dash flew in to land beside an impatient Applejack on the second day of their bet.

“Yer late again, Rainbow.” The earth pony said with a stern look to the tired looking pegasus. “Bright ‘n early means before the sun rises, not a good deal after.”

“Aw, come on Applejack. I’m still beat from yesterday. Besides, we can’t have much more to plant, right? With those two fields from yesterday, there’s no way you, Big Macintosh, and Caramel could handle much more all on your own.”

“That may be so, but we’ve got more ta do today than just plantin’. Now we’ve gotta take care of the plants too ta make sure they grow. Today we’re goin’ ta plant the last field and then get ya’ll started on waterin’ and tendin’ ta the seeds.”

“Ugh, how long’s that going to take?” Rainbow asked, giving a little groan at the news.

“That depends on how fast we can get it done. Prob’ly most of the day, I reckon.”

The pegasus gave a sigh at that before nodding her head slowly. “Well, I suppose we’d better go ahead and get to it then. I’d like to finish up before it gets dark today...”

Her earth pony friend gave a little chuckle at that but nodded and began to lead the way toward the field they’d be working today. As she followed along, Rainbow Dash did her best to try and ignore the fact that she was still beat from the previous day’s work. As the field came into view, they could see that Caramel and Big Macintosh had once again gotten a head start on tilling the land. The pegasus watched the two stallions pulling along their plows for a few seconds before turning to her friend.

“Hey, AJ... mind if I take another go at pulling one of the plows?”

“Hm? Well, Ah can’t see a reason why ya couldn’t.” Applejack said, though she looked a bit puzzled. “Though, Ah find mahself a bit confused as ta why ya’ll would want to do a thing like that. Yesterday weren’t enough for ya?”

“Heh, maybe my mind just wasn’t in the game yesterday. Besides, the only way I’m going to get any better at it is to keep on trying right? It’s just like practicing a new trick.”

Looking somewhat amused, the farmer pony gave a little shrug and motioned Caramel to stop after he finished up his current row. Once again, the yellow pony shrugged off his harness to hand over to Rainbow before going to help out Applejack with the seeds. Feeling the weight of the harness on her again, the pegasus took a deep breath to try and focus herself. With that, she began to pull against the plow, starting to make her way across the field.

Just like the day before, it was incredibly hard work, especially as the aches from then returned with new friends. Still, she gritted her teeth and pressed on, determined to at least finish up one row before giving the job back. Finally, she made it, the plow turning over the last few feet of earth.

“I... think that’s enough for one day... phew...” Rainbow said, taking a few deep breaths before giving her friend a little grin. “Alright, it’s all yours again Caramel.”

After passing on the plow, Rainbow took up her seed bag again and began to get to work as she had the day before. Applejack slowed down for a moment so that the two would be working side by side down the rows before turning to glance over at her friend.

“Now what was that all about? Ah know what you said about wantin’ ta get better, but still, Ah thought you didn’t want ta have to work that hard? Heh, sometimes Ah don’t understand ya’ll at all, Rainbow.”

“Hey, I never said anything like that. I’m not afraid of any work, no matter how hard it is. Besides, I thought the point of this bet was to show that I can handle the work anyways. And there is no way I‘m going to let some piece of farm machinery beat me.” Rainbow said with a little chuckle.

Applejack gave a little laugh at that and the two went back to their work. Unfortunately for the pegasus, planting the seeds was just as boring as it had been the day before, and the knowledge that there was more work to come afterward didn’t make it any easier. Still, despite the tedium of it all, the two ponies made good progress and it wasn’t long before the last row was finished and it was time to move on to the next task of the day, the four ponies splitting up into two groups to make the job go faster.

Rainbow Dash and Applejack took the field that had just been planted while the two stallions headed towards one of the others. As they went to grab the watering cans they’d be using, the pegasus glanced over to the two ponies walking away before turning back to her friend.

“Hey, AJ, are your brother and Caramel... well, you must have heard the rumors. I mean, they do spend an awful lot of time together. Nothing wrong with that or anything, I was just wondering.”

Applejack let out a little sigh and gave her friend a pointed look. “Ugh, not ya’ll too Rainbow. They ain’t like that. Caramel has a marefriend over in Appleoosa and Big Macintosh says there’s a pony in town he’s been seein’. Fer that matter though, how about you? Found yerself a good marefriend?”

“You know as well as I do that I’m not a... a... a fillyfooler, AJ! That’s just a rumor some pony started back at flight school that I’ve never been able to shake off. I like stallions just as much as you do.”

“Exactly mah point! It’s just a rumor, it don’t mean nothin’. Jus’ like the rumor about Caramel and mah brother. Not too many ponies know this, but Caramel ain’t from around here. He helped out up in Appleoosa at one of tha farms there. There was an... an accident one day and his brother got hurt bad. The doctors did all they could, but he didn’t make it... Caramel’s always been a bit, well, clumsy and he blamed himself fer what happened. Got real depressed from what I’ve heard. His parents sent him down here, hopin’ that a change of scenery might do him some good and take his mind off’a things.”

Rainbow Dash had fallen silent during the story, watching the sad look that crossed her friend’s face as she talked. “Woah... I had no idea, Applejack. I mean, I knew he wasn’t from around here, but I didn’t know he’d come down because of something like that...”

“Yeah. Like Ah said, not too many ponies know all this. We decided it might be best not ta make a big deal over it all. Still, that’s why those two always seem to be spendin’ so much time together. Big Macintosh is jus’ makin’ sure Caramel’s fittin’ in alright and isn’t beatin’ himself up too much over it. Anyway, er... Ah guess this jus’ goes ta show that ya can’t trust everythin’ ya hear. Now, we’ve got work ta be doin’, so let’s get goin’.”

With that, the farmer pony led the way towards a little well where they could fill up the watering cans. Rainbow followed the directions she was given, still thinking over what she’d been told. Looking at Caramel, she never would have guessed that something like this had happened to him. He’d always seemed rather cheerful, albeit kind of clumsy at times. Unlucky was more like it. Things just seemed to go wrong around him or even if he was just in the area.

Before too long though, the pegasus was distracted from these thoughts as she found that there was indeed something worse than sowing the seeds. Watering the rows was an arduous process that took absolutely forever. The can seemed so very small after she’d had to head back to fill up three times before they were even halfway done with the field. Her attempt to speed up the process by dashing from the well back to the field was met with failure as she spilled a good deal of the water along the way and had to return even earlier than before.

Once they had finished up with their field, they met up with the two stallions at the house for lunch and a bit of a break. Just like the day before, the food was absolutely delicious and Rainbow was left feeling a lot better than she was before the break. As the four ponies headed back out to work, Applejack told Big Mac and Caramel to take care of the farm equipment that had been left out while she and Rainbow took care of the last field.

By the time they had finished up with the watering, the sun was once again on its way down and the shadows were growing long. All relief that Rainbow had felt after lunch had vanished to be replaced once more by a set of aches and pains in her legs and neck. Still, her friend was looking quite pleased with what the job they had done and she let herself smile a bit as well.

“Heh, yer gettin’ better, Rainbow. Still gotta work on gettin’ up on time, but once ya’ll start workin’ ya do a mighty fine job of it. We’ll make a farmpony of you yet.” The earth pony said, grinning over to Rainbow Dash.

“Wish I could say I felt like I was getting better. I feel even worse off than I did yesterday. Still, I am not going to let this beat me. No way. I’m going to be right here until the last apple falls, that I promise.”

“Yer just not used ta the work yet. Give it a couple’a weeks and ya’ll won’t have no problem doin’ the work. Heh, glad to hear that yer not plannin’ on givin’ up though. Ah’d hate fer this ta be too easy. And Ah’m gonna hold ya to that promise.”

As the two continued on toward the house, they saw Big Macintosh and Caramel standing out front waiting for them. Applejack’s face fell as she saw the rather sheepish look of the smaller, yellow pony and the look of resignation on the larger red one. Looking from her friend to the two stallions, Dash gave an awkward chuckle before taking a step back.

“Um... I think I’m just going to go ahead on home and get some rest for tomorrow. See you later AJ!”

“Yeah, see you then.” The earth pony responded before giving a little sigh and addressing her other helpers. “Now, what happened this time?”

Even as she was flying out over the orchard toward her cloud home, Dash could hear her friend’s shout, causing her to wince a bit.

“You what?! How the hay do you lose a whole plow?”

________________________________________

The next few days passed in much the same manner at the farm. Rainbow Dash’s duties now consisted of watering and tending to the seeds they’d planted, but that alone still managed to eat up most of the daylight. In addition, the job failed to grow any less tedious and the counting game she’d made up to pass the time grew old fast. To relieve herself of the boredom and aches of their task, she turned to chatting with her friend, something she realized that they didn’t actually do all that often.

Sure, she and Applejack had been friends since shortly after Dash had arrived in Ponyville, but they were generally too caught up in some competition or other to actually take the time for just small talk. As they worked their way up and down the rows, the two mares talked on a variety of topics, from the rather disappointing ‘best night ever’ at the Grand Galloping Gala, to Pinkie Pie’s last party, to the various adventures the six of them seemed to wind up in fairly often. Normally not much of an idle talker herself, unless it involved the Wonderbolts or her own aerial tricks, Rainbow still found herself enjoying the conversations with the orange earth pony, even if it was mainly to make the time go by faster.

Still, despite being able to deal with the work for the most part, the pegasus could never seem to make it down to the farm on time. Day after day, Dash would wake up later than she’d meant to and then have to deal with her friend’s pointed look and comments that if somepony would show up on time, maybe they’d be able to finish up their work earlier.

On the sixth day of this, Rainbow Dash found herself again running late as she flew into Sweet Apple Acres to find Applejack waiting in the usual spot.

“I know, I know. I’m late.” The pegasus said with a sigh before her friend could say anything. “Can we just skip this part? I’m way too tired to argue right now.”

“Heh, Ah didn’t say a word, Rainbow.” Applejack replied with a little chuckle. “Though, Ah was hopin’ ta talk with ya’ll about that. Ah think Ah might just have a way to fix yer problem wakin’ up on time. We’ve got a spare bedroom nopony’s usin’ that yer welcome ta have while yer workin’ here. That way, there’ll be somepony there ta make sure ya’ll get up on time.”

Though surprised at first by the offer, it did make sense as Rainbow thought about it. “Hmm, that might not be a bad idea, actually. I don’t know though, it wouldn’t feel right intruding in somepony else’s house like that. Not knowing I’m going to be staying there for a couple of months at least.”

“Don’t worry about it, sugarcube. Ah’ve already asked the rest of mah family and not a one of them has a problem with this. If yer still not comfortable with it though, Ah won’t hold that against you. Heh, not like Ah’m gonna force ya’ll ta forfeit the bet or anythin’ cause of it. Though, you’ll still need ta find some way ta make it here on time.”

“Well, I suppose... I can’t make that kind of decision like this though. Give me some time to think over it and I’ll get back with you on that.”

The earth pony nodded to her friend before starting to head on out towards the fields as usual. “Alright, Ah won’t pressure ya on it. Give it some good thought, but try not ta take too long though. Now, let’s get ta work.”

With that, the day passed as the others had before it, though Rainbow Dash spent a good deal of time thinking over what her friend had offered to do for her. The more she thought, the better an idea it sounded to her. Still, something just didn’t seem right about it all and it took her a good while to figure out what that was.

When it came down to it, she didn’t feel comfortable staying at somepony else’s house simply because it wasn’t hers. She would be living with somepony else and therefore subject to their rules, not her own. In her own home, she had the freedom to ultimately do as she wished, while if she took up Applejack on her offer, that freedom would be taken away.

This thought frightened the pegasus at first, though she soon shook it away with a chuckle.

“Come on, Rainbow Dash. This is Applejack we’re talking about here.” She told herself. “It’s not like she’s going to have hundreds of little rules to follow or anything. I’m sure it’ll be fine and this will all work out for the better.”

With that out of the way, Dash’s mood brightened considerably, despite the near constant aches in her neck and back from the repetitive pouring of the watering can. She even started up a conversation with Applejack again, though neither of them brought up the idea from that morning, instead electing to discuss their friend Pinkie Pie’s latest confectionery masterpiece.

“Ah just don’t get how she managed ta get that many apples all into a single cake. Ah mean, with all the other ingredients, where’d she find the room for ‘em?”

“Heh, yeah. Still, it was great! Probably one of the most delicious apple cakes I’ve ever eaten. You know... I think she’s starting to compete with your family with this one, AJ.” Dash said with a grin to her friend.

“Hmph. Say what ya’ll like, but Ah don’t care how good a baker Pinkie is. Her cake’s got nothin’ on mah cousin Apple Strudel’s, er... apple strudel.”

Rainbow Dash gave a little laugh at how defensive the farmer pony was over her family’s cooking before taking a look up a the sky, the sun now well past the halfway point. “Geez, is it already getting that late? I think I’m starting to get why we never see much of you during this part of the year. All this work must keep you pretty busy. Especially without yours truly here to lend you a hoof.”

“Ah reckon yer right about that. It’ll get better once the plants begin ta grow. They need a lot of attention this early on, but later ya don’t have ta worry nearly as much, unless there ain’t been much rain scheduled lately. Speakin’ of which, how’re you managin’ ta spend all yer time here and still keep up with the weather team.”

“Eh heh... well, I’m kind of on break at the moment. There really isn’t all that much work most of the time so it wasn’t hard to find a pegasus to take my place. If I ever wind up having some extra time every day, I’ll probably go back and pick it up again.”

“Ah see. Well, you just make sure ya take some time to yerself every so often so ya don’t burn out. Ya’ll are no help ta anypony if yer too tired to do anythin’.”

“Hey, you’re the one who’s got me working all day long without any breaks. I haven’t even been able to practice any new tricks or anything since before the Winter Wrap-Up! How am I supposed to impress the Wonderbolts if I’m spending all of my time working like this?”

“Heh, Ah guess yer startin’ ta see what you got yerself into. Remember, ya’ll can always call off the bet, if ya’d like. And besides, maybe the Wonderbolts’ll hire you on as their own private gardner.” Applejack said, giving a laugh at the look Rainbow Dash gave her at that.

Time continued to slip by and it wasn’t too much longer before they were once again making the trek back to the house, even the farmer pony glad to be done for the day. As the building came into view, Dash finally decided that she had indeed made up her mind and it was time to let her friend know.

“Hey, AJ... I think I will take you up on that offer you made this morning. If you’re sure that you don’t mind having me take up that room, I think that would help solve my oversleeping. Or, you know, you could just let me go ahead and take advantage of that sleep in the trees promise I’m going to be winning anyways.”

“Heh, you can sleep on yer own time, Rainbow. Still, Ah’m glad ya’ll decided ta go with this. Ah really think it’ll be best fer the both of us. Ah’ll be able ta make sure you wake up on time fer work, and ya’ll won’t have ta fly nearly as far ta get here. Plus, there’s Granny Smith’s cookin’ every day. That’s got ta count fer somethin’. So... Ah guess ya’ll need ta go grab yer stuff from yer house?”

Rainbow Dash thought for a moment before shaking her head. “No, not really. I don’t need a whole lot from day to day. Mainly just a bed to sleep on, and I’m good to go. Besides, if I need anything, I can always go grab it faster than you can say Sonic Rainboom.”

“Ah reckon yer right about that. In that case, come on in and Ah’ll show you where you’ll be sleepin’.” Applejack said before opening the door and leading the way into the Apple Family home.

Dash hesitated for just a second at the door before once again shaking off her unfounded fears and following after her friend. She had been inside of Applejack’s house a few times before, so it didn’t come as a surprise when she saw the walls covered with pictures of the members of the Apple Family. A few of them she could recognize on sight from the times when they’d come down to Ponyville for reunions, but she was fairly certain that even Applejack herself didn’t know who all of them were, though she’d be wrong about that.

A section of the wall was devoted to Applejack’s immediate family and hanging in the center of it was a group picture of five earth ponies. A smiling yellow mare, delicately holding a tiny foal, was standing next to a large, tan stallion who, despite his rather intimidating size, was wearing a soft, joyful expression. His gaze was turned to his son and daughter, the first giving a rather shy smile into the camera while the latter gave a beaming smile from under a hat that was far too large for her.

Hearing her name being called, Rainbow Dash blinked a bit and hurried after her friend. Before too much longer, a door was opened and she got her first glimpse of where she would be staying for quite a while. It was a fairly small room, at least compared to the bedroom back at her cloud home. Still, it would be plenty big for a single pony. Although it looked as though nopony had used this room in a good while, it was still just as spotless as the rest of the house, ever ready for the time when it would be needed.

“So? What do you think?” Applejack asked as her pegasus friend looked around the room. “Ah’m sure it’s nowhere near as fancy as the rooms you’ve got up in that castle ya’ll call home, but Ah hope it’ll do.”

“Yeah, this will do just fine. Like I said, I don’t need too much and it’s got a bed, so that covers that. Besides, this is plenty nice for me. Heh, I certainly won’t mind living here for the next several months.” Rainbow Dash said with a wide smile before giving a yawn. “Hmm, I think I’ll skip on dinner for tonight and get a head start on sleep. Thanks again for letting me stay here and all that.”

“You’re quite welcome, sugarcube! Ah’m glad ta hear ya like it.” Applejack said, returning the smile. “Though, are you sure yer not gonna regret missin’ dinner later?”

“Nah, I’ll be alright. That was a pretty big lunch, and I’m too tired to eat right now anyways.”

“Well, if you’re sure... g’night then, Rainbow. Ah’ll be wakin’ ya’ll up bright n’ early.”

“Night, AJ.”

________________________________________

“Rise and shine, Rainbow!” Came the call early in the morning, accompanied by several loud knocks at the door.

Rainbow Dash gave a little groan but began to roll out of the bed, despite feeling that it was far too early in the morning to be waking up. The fact that after a few years of sleeping on a cloud, using the bed felt about the same as trying to sleep on a rock didn’t help much either. She had tossed and turned for a good while after laying down to get some sleep, trying to find a comfortable spot and generally failing at it.

She gave a little yawn as she stretched out her legs and wings, wincing softly at the fresh aches from her muscles. She was feeling more sore that morning than she had been for the last few, though it wasn’t much worse than some of the times when she’d had to make a fairly hard landing after one of her tricks went bad. Nothing she couldn’t handle, the pegasus thought.

“Alright, alright, I’m up!” She called out as the knocking started again, grumbling to herself as she made her way to the door.

Opening it up, she saw Applejack standing there and looking far too cheerful for such an early wake up. The earth pony gave a little grin as she spotted her sleepy looking friend.

“Good ta see yer awake, Rainbow. Now come on, we’ve got a lot’a work ahead. It’s just gonna be three of us today cause Caramel’s helpin’ out Carrot Top with her garden.”

“Ugh, alright... give me a second to get ready then and I’ll be right out.”

As she stepped back into her room, Rainbow Dash briefly considered hopping back into bed again but decided against it. That would just tick off Applejack and the last thing she needed right now was for her friend to be mad at her. She was already starting to regret not having dinner the night before, especially since it looked like they’d be passing on breakfast as well.

“Hmm... maybe I should let AJ know that I really could use some food.” The pegasus mused quietly to herself as she did on occasion. “Nah, I can’t do that. That’d make me look weak, and I’m definitely not a weakling. I’ll just eat a big lunch to make up for it.”

Giving a little nod to herself at this decision, she finished up getting ready for the day, which didn’t take long at all, and was soon following her friend back out toward the fields. Along the way, Applejack went over how they would be dividing up the work to both her and Big Macintosh who had joined them on the way out the door.

“Now, since there’s only the three of us and three fields, we’re each gonna have ta take one. That’s gonna make things mighty slow, but we’ll manage. Big Macintosh, ya’ll know when ta come in fer lunch. Same fer you, Rainbow, but Ah can call you when it’s time, if you’d like.”

The large red pony gave a nod at her words and began to head on towards his assigned field. Dash on the other hand, blinked for a second before turning to face her friend.

“Wha... oh! Yeah, sure, that’s fine with me.” She said, stifling a little yawn before giving a wide grin.

Applejack raised an eyebrow at her response before replying. “Ya’ll sure you can do this? Ah don’t mind splittin’ the fields fifty-fifty again.”

“Nah, it’s cool. I’m still just a bit drowsy, but I’ll be just fine once I get started.”

“If you say so, sugarcube... well, once you finish up, that’s it fer the day and yer free to head back to the house or do whatever else you want until night falls. Ah’d better get goin’ now. See ya later fer lunch!”

The earth pony gave a little wave before walking off towards her field. Rainbow returned it, waiting until her friend was out of sight before drooping a bit. As her stomach grumbled in protest, she gave a little grimace but shook it off.

“Ugh, I haven’t even started yet and I’m already beat. Today’s going to be a long, long day...” She sighed before heading to her own field.

The first row or two went by without too much trouble. Before too long though, the pegasus was already straining to keep going. The constant tilting of her head to water the seeds, along with the slow walk from one part to the next was putting a constant strain on her already aching muscles, and having to walk back and forth from the well every few minutes wasn’t helping much either. In addition to that, she had nopony there to talk with and nothing to occupy her and help stave off boredom.

Only about a quarter of the way in, Dash actually had to take a short break to keep from collapsing. She sat down beside the well for a few minutes, glaring down at her watering can as if this whole thing was somehow its fault. As she rested up for a moment though, an idea slowly began to come together in her mind of how she could make this far easier and quicker. In fact, she had to laugh at the fact that it had taken her this long to figure it out.

Setting aside the watering can, she wouldn’t need it for this, Dash spread her wings out wide and took to the skies. Looking around for a moment, she spotted what she needed and grinned, flying over to gather it up. Before too long, she had a fairly nice looking cloud at her hooves, ripe with rain and ready for the task ahead.

“Heh, I can’t wait to see the look on AJ’s face when she hears I’ve finished the entire field before lunch. And this is so much easier than trying to use that old tin can.” She said with a little chuckle, looking over her handiwork.

With that, she pushed her cloud into place above the row she was working on and gave it a light tap. Rain began to pour out from the fluffy white object and she slowly pushed it along to water the entire row of plants. This wasn’t nearly as hard, and it used a different set of muscles which meant that the pain she’d been feeling all morning had nearly vanished, or at least wasn’t getting any worse.

Some time later, Dash was still grinning widely, well over half the field watered just as well as if she’d been using the watering can. She couldn’t help but feel fairly proud of her idea and how well it was working. She’d managed to come up with a way to not only speed things up, but allow herself to keep going beyond what she probably would have been able to. With her sore muscles and an empty stomach, she was fairly certain that she wouldn’t have been able to last much longer doing things the old way.

A loud shout rang out over the farm, coming from a familiar sounding voice. It was so sudden and loud that Rainbow Dash nearly fell out of the air in surprise. Looking down, she spotted Applejack glaring back up at her with a furious look on her face.

“Rainbow Dash, what the hay do you think yer doin’?”

“Wha? A-AJ, I... I just thought...” Dash sputtered, taken completely by surprise by her friend’s anger.

“You thought? Ah’ll bet ya’ll just wanted ta take tha lazy way out. That ain’t how we do things here on mah farm! Hay, if Ah’d wanted a rainstorm, Ah’d have asked you fer one. What if ya’ll had overwatered the plants? Or if ya’ll lost control of it and wound up with a big storm right over tha crops? What would’a happened then, Rainbow?”

Rainbow Dash was devastated by this outburst from the earth pony. In a few short seconds, all the thoughts she’d had about this being a clever idea were torn to pieces. While it was true that she had done this to make the job easier and finish up faster, the fact of the matter was that it turned out to be the best way for her to do it. Hungry and sore, she couldn’t have gone on with the watering can and this had been a solution to that problem. Still, that wasn’t enough for Applejack it seemed.

“I...I...” Rainbow Dash began, struggling to find the words to say as she felt her heart plummeting.

Nothing came to her, no way to respond to the accusing glare of the earth pony. Turning her face aside, she left the cloud behind, a faint rainbow trail briefly hanging in the air as she dashed back toward the farmhouse.

Applejack was still furious even as she watched her friend fly off from her ranting. She barely even noticed as her brother approached to stand at her side. After a few moments though, she began to calm down, an almost worried look coming over her as she realized what she’d said and done.

“D-do ya think Ah might have been a bit harsh on Dash there, Big Mac? Ah mean, maybe she really meant well and was just tryin’ ta help...” She said uncertainly, turning to glance at the red pony.

“Eeyup.” He replied simply, giving a nod.

“Aw horseapples, what was Ah thinkin’...” She said with a sigh, mentally giving herself a few good bucks. “Rainbow Dash’s mah friend and... Ah had no right ta go explodin’ on her like that. Ah reckon Ah’d better go talk to her ‘n apologize...”

“Eeyup.” Big Macintosh repeated, ever a pony of few words.

With that, Applejack began to slowly traipse her way back toward the farmhouse after her friend, thinking all the while on what she was going to say. She still felt that she was in the right about this, but simply shouting at the pegasus probably hadn’t been the best way to go about it. Lost in her thoughts, it wasn’t long before she was standing in front of the door to Rainbow Dash’s room. Taking a deep breath, she gave a sturdy knock.

“Rainbow Dash? You in there?”

No answer came back, so she knocked again and called out a bit louder this time. “C’mon Rainbow, we need ta talk.”

“Go away... Don’t want to talk...” A voice called back this time, though the door remained shut.

Applejack gave a little sigh of relief, having started to worry that Rainbow Dash had flown back to her home. If that had happened, there would be no way for her to get a chance to speak with the pegasus. Not for a while at least.

“Look, sugarcube... Ah shouldn’t have shouted at you like that, and Ah’m sorry. Now, please, let me come in so Ah can talk with you about it.”

For a few seconds, she heard no reply. About the time that she had started worrying that her friend was simply going to remain silent, Dash spoke up again.

“O-okay... If you really want to so bad, you can come in...”

With another little sigh of relief, though she was still somewhat dreading what might happen next, the orange pony carefully pushed the door open and stepped inside. Once she was able to see inside the room, she noticed the pegasus sitting down on the bed, head held low. As she stepped a bit nearer, Applejack could see that her eyes looked awfully shiny.

“Thanks, Rainbow. Have... have ya’ll been cryin’?”

“Of... of course not.” The pegasus replied, quickly turning her head away from her friend. “I don’t cry. Especially not over something as small as this.”

The earth pony winced a bit at hearing this blatant lie before letting out a soft sigh and trotting over to the bed. “Rainbow Dash... Ah’m sorry fer what happened. Ah shouldn’t have snapped at you. Not without at least hearin’ ya out first. It’s just that, well... Ah assumed ya’ll were bein’ lazy and jus’ doin’ it ta get out of the work. And... there are other reasons Ah got so mad, but you couldn’t have known...”

Rainbow Dash gave a barely audible sniff before turning back to face Applejack, her eyes dry though she still seemed to lack her usual confidence. “I wasn’t doing it to try and skip out on the work. Well, I started because it seemed faster, but I still actually thought I was helping out and that it was a good idea. I’ve... been feeling terrible all day so far. You were right, I should have eaten something last night, and I’ve had to deal with that. Plus, my whole body has been so sore lately, but even more so today. Pushing the cloud around though... I could do that without having to worry about it... ugh, and now I’m complaining about it, to you of all ponies. As if I hadn’t messed things up enough for one day...”

“Ah... Ah had no idea, Rainbow. Why didn’t ya’ll just say somethin’ bout it? If Ah’d known ya’ll weren’t feelin’ well, Ah’d have offered ta split the field with you or somethin’.” Applejack said, lowering her head to give her friend a gentle nuzzle.

“And ya’ll ain’t messed nothin’ up, sugarcube. Ah jus’... Ah overreacted a mite bit. It’s jus’ that mah whole family are earth ponies, you know? We ain’t got no magic or wings or weather powers, just our own selves and a good feel fer the land. Still, we’re some of the best farmers in all of Equestria. Mah pappy always said that this is because we ain’t got nothing special. We have ta work hard and we’re better for it.

“Now, Ah had a hard enough time jus’ lettin’ Twi use her magic ta help out last Applebuck season, but Ah was kinda desperate then. This time... well, like Ah said, Ah jumped ta conclusions. There’s no way ya’ll could have known though, and Ah shouldn’t have shouted like that. Ah’m sorry, Rainbow.”

Rainbow Dash was silent as she listened to her friend’s words. Even after the earth pony had fallen silent, she still said nothing for a moment. Finally, she leaned over to give a short little nuzzle back.

“Apology accepted, AJ. I... guess I haven’t really given you much reason to think better of me though, have I. To tell you the truth, the first thing I thought when I had the idea was of going to gloat to you once I had finished up early. Maybe I owe you an apology or something...”

“Nah, ya’ll don’t owe me nothin’, sugarcube. It was mah own stubbornness that caused this whole thing. Ah should’ve been more acceptin’, or at least talked with you first.”

The two ponies fell silent for a while, simply sitting there beside each other. The silence was broken by a slight feathery sound as Dash stretched out her wings before starting to get up.

“Well, I think that’s quite enough of this mushy stuff. I guess we should probably get back to work if we want to finish up by tonight.” The pegasus said, giving a small laugh as her stomach gave another little rumble. “Although... maybe I should see about getting something to eat first.”

Applejack blinked at her friends words before chuckling softly and nodding. “Heh, Ah reckon you’re right. Ah’m sure Granny Smith won’t mind fixin’ you up a little snack fer now, though it might be time fer lunch already. And yer right about that, we’re gonna have ta work hard ta finish up today. Though, ya’ll sure you don’t want ta take tha day off ta get some rest?”

“I’m sure. I’ll feel a lot better after lunch. I’m going to have to figure out something for tonight though, cause I don’t think that bed’s going to work out for me. Maybe pull in a cloud to use or something... er, if you don’t mind of course. It’s your house after all.”

“If ya’ll think it’ll help, then Ah ain’t got a problem with it. It ain’t gonna rain in the house or nothin’ though, right?”

“Of course not! I’m the captain of the weather team, remember? I think I know the difference between making a rain cloud and a bed cloud.” Dash said with a laugh as the two began to walk out of the guest room.

True to Applejack’s words, they found that lunch was about ready and decided to hold off until then. A few minutes later, they were seated before quite a nice spread. While not forgotten, both ponies seemed to have gotten over the events of that morning and were once again talking and joking over lunch. Finally, after eating their fill of the delicious food, they headed back out to finish up their work.

“You know what? I think this whole thing has been worth it just for Granny Smith’s cooking. That pony can do some amazing things with food.” Rainbow Dash said with a wide grin.

“Heh, she sure can.” Applejack agreed with a nod before turning to her friend. “Well, do ya’ll think yer feelin’ good enough ta take on the rest of that field by yerself, or should Ah come over ta help?”

“I’ll be fine on my own. What happened this morning was just a fluke. There’s no way a little field like that could get the better of me!” Rainbow said before noticing the earth pony’s look. “Eh heh... although, if by some chance I start feeling a bit off, I’ll be sure to find you and ask for help.”

"Good enough fer me, sugarcube. Ah’m off then. See ya’ll tonight!”

“Yeah, see you!”

With that, the two of them parted ways and picked up where they had left off. Rainbow Dash still felt the aches and pains from that morning, but without the addition of hunger, it didn’t seem nearly as bad anymore. Certainly nothing she couldn’t handle at least. It still took her longer than Applejack to finish, but she managed to do it and that night, when she was getting settled in to her newly formed cloud bed, she couldn’t help but smile a bit at the fact that she had managed to beat her own weariness.

________________________________________

The cloud bed seemed to have done the trick and, while the work still left her feeling quite tired and sore, Rainbow Dash woke up each morning feeling refreshed and ready to start the day. Well, as much as she could at least, considering that Applejack continued to wake her up far earlier than she was happy with. The fact that her muscles seemed to be adapting to the strains of the job helped out as well, and she was very careful to not go skipping meals again or trying to take an easy way out of the job.

A little over a week had passed since the fields had been planted before the first signs of life began to sprout up. As she looked down at the little green shoots, the pegasus felt a little burst of pride that she normally associated with pulling off a new trick, or putting together a particularly nice piece of weather work. Knowing that she had planted many of these plants that would one day go on to feed the residents of Ponyville left her with a feeling of fulfillment at a job well done and she wondered if this was how Applejack felt all the time.

As for the earth pony, Dash was finding that she truly enjoyed talking with her as they worked. Now that Caramel was back, they had gone back to splitting into teams of two to work the fields, which meant that she was once again having plenty of time to converse with her friend. Still, with spending all of her available time at the farm, she was starting to miss her other friends, and if she didn’t have time to practice anymore, she’d never make it into the Wonderbolts! One morning, she had finally brought this up with Applejack, and the orange pony’s response had been quite surprising.

“Ya know, ya’ll have a good point there, Rainbow. Tell ya what, since you’ve been doin’ such a good job around here, Ah’ll let ya have the day off. The three of us can handle things here.” The farmer pony said, giving her friend a little smile.

“Ohmygosh, really? Thank you so much, AJ! I mean, if you’re sure you don’t mind me going off today.”

“Heh, Ah’m sure. We’ve been doin’ this fer a couple’a years without ya, so Ah think we can handle one more day.” The earth pony said with a chuckle. “Besides, it won’t be long before the plants are big enough and we’ll have a lot more free time. So, go on and have fun, sugarcube.”

“Well, if you’re sure...” Rainbow Dash began before giving her friend a bright smile. “Thanks, Applejack. I guess I’ll see you later then!”

The pegasus waved her goodbyes to Applejack before spreading her wings and taking off, flying out toward Ponyville. After working for the past several days straight, having a day off was sounding like a wonderful idea. The only problem now was how to spend it. Thankfully, that question was partially answered for her when a familiar voice called out her name as she flew over the town.

“Ooh, Rainbow Dash! Down here, down here!”

Looking down for the source of the voice, Dash spotted a bright pink pony with a poofy mane bouncing around and waving to try to get her attention. A grin on her face, she banked and came in for a quick landing beside her friend.

“Hey Pinkie Pie! Geez, it feels like I haven’t seen you in forever.”

“I know! I’ve been looking for you everywhere after you just up and vanished. I thought Princess Celestia was good at hide and seek, but she’s got nothing on you! Though, you might not want to tell her that, or she might banish you, and then I’d never get to see you again! Oh, that reminds me, pranking’s not as fun without my best prankster buddy there with me. That’s why I wanted to find you!”

The sudden verbal barrage slammed into the pegasus, but Dash, who was quite used to it by now, simply gave a little chuckle. “Sorry about that, Pinkie Pie. I didn’t mean to disappear on you all, it just kinda happened. Though, I shouldn’t have been that hard to find. How hard were you looking?”

“Not hard to find? Do you know what I’ve been through?” The pink pony said, her eyes going wide. “I mean, I’ve asked everypony in town about it! I went to talk to Fluttershy about it first, but she said she hadn’t seen you either. Then I got kind of worried and went to go see Nurse Redheart, because you might have hurt yourself badly or something, but you weren’t there either. I kept trying to beg Twilight to cast a super-duper-prank-buddy-finder spell, but she kept saying there was no such thing, which shows how much she knows. Seriously, I thought her talent was magic, and she doesn’t even know about those? Anyways...”

The story continued on and Dash began to tune out most of it, as most ponies found themselves doing if they happened to get caught up in one of Pinkie Pie’s stories. The words came back to her though as her friend seemed to be wrapping it up.

“...and then I had a big green patch in my coat, but at least I was safe from the mean old hydra. The princess was so happy that I found the lost diamond earring though that she gave me a lotion that would fix it. And what do you know, it worked! So that’s why I’m happy to see you today!” She finished up, beaming at Dash in the way that only Pinkie Pie could.

“Wait, what?” The pegasus asked, blinking a bit before shaking her head with a laugh. “I’m glad to see you too, Pinkie Pie. Applejack finally gave me a day off, and I was trying to figure out how I should spend it.”

Pinkie Pie tilted her head with a puzzled look for a moment before giving a gasp. “Oh, of course! You were helping out Applejack on her farm, weren’t you? Boy, do I feel silly now. That’s the last place I would have looked, cause I would have found you there! Anyways, I found you and now we can go have fun, right?”

The excited pink mare managed to pull a goofy looking pair of disguise glasses seemingly from nowhere and put them on. Dash gave a laugh at her friend’s antics and shook her head slowly.

“You are so random, Pinkie Pie. That sounds good to me though! Got any good pranks in mind?”

“Hmm... oh, I know the perfect pony to go prank. I think I know just what to do too. Come on, Dashie, let’s go!”

“Heh, you aren’t even going to tell me who it is first?” The pegasus said, raising an eyebrow but following after her friend anyways.

“Nope! You’ll see when we get there!” Pinkie replied in a sing song voice, bouncing along happily as she led the way.

Rainbow Dash gave a sigh but couldn’t help but chuckle along with the pink pony as they walked through town. Since her friend didn’t seem to have any plans on letting her know, she began to try and guess who it might be that they were going to prank.

“Hmm... Is it Rarity again? No, we just passed her shop. It could be Twilight or Spike, but the library is over there and we’re going the wrong way for that. Er... Lyra or Bon Bon maybe?” Dash said hesitantly as they neared the edge of the town, grasping at anything she could come up with.

“Nope! None of the above, Dashie.” Pinkie said with a giggle.

“Ugh... can’t you just tell me who it is, Pinkie Pie?”

“Aw, but that would spoil the surprise! Besides you’ll see soon enough!”

Dash grumbled a bit at that, but it was all in good humor. Before long, the buildings fell away behind them, to be replaced by grass and bushes as they began following an all too familiar path. Indeed, as the barn and farmhouse came into view, along with a sign reading ‘Sweet Apple Acres’, her suspicions were confirmed.

“Oh... heh, it’s Applejack isn’t it.” The pegasus said with a little grin, turning to look at her friend.

The pink pony simply gave her a wide smile before glancing around surreptitiously and heading toward the barn. “Come on, this way! I’m going to need your help setting this all up in the barn. Oh, try not to let Applejack or anypony see you though. Ooh, this is going to be so good! I just know it will be the best prank ever!”

Not hearing a no, Rainbow Dash assumed that she was right, chuckling softly as she carefully snuck her way into the barn after Pinkie Pie. Eager to see just what her friend had planned, she followed along with the directions she was given. Several minutes later, Pinkie announced that they were finished, leaving Dash to look on in confusion at the bizarre contraption they had put together.

“So... what exactly is this thing supposed to do?”

“Hee hee, you’ll see Dashie.”

**************

Applejack was still hard at work on the fields when she heard the sound of somepony coming nearer. She looked up to see who it could be and saw her rainbow maned friend running full speed toward her, looking fairly panicked. The pegasus stopped beside her and tried to catch her breath.

“Woah there, what’s wrong sugarcube? Ya’ll look mighty frightened. Did something happen in town?” She asked, shocked by the sudden appearance of Rainbow Dash.

“N-no. I mean, maybe, but not in town. I asked Dashie to help me out with something in the barn, but now it’s gone terribly wrong!” Came a voice that was most definitely not the pegasus’.

“R-rainbow Dash? What happened to you? Ya’ll sound just like Pinkie Pie...”

“I am Pinkie Pie! Well, I guess I’m really Rainbow Dash now, but I’m still me too. Huh, that’s kind of confusing actually... anyways, we don’t have time for this! You need to get to the barn and help us try to fix things before we’re stuck like this! Forever!”

“Wait, if ya’ll are Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, then that means...” The farmer pony’s eyes widen and she gives a quick nod. “Yer right! We need ta get there right away. Ah don’t know what Ah can do ta help, but Ah’ll do mah best!”

With that, the two ponies galloped off at full speed for the barn. Applejack threw open the doors, looking around for any signs of what had happened. The inside of the barn looked about as it normally did, though there was an odd machine taking up a good chunk of the floor space. She thought it looked kind of like those things she’d seen down in the basement of the Library, what Twilight had called her ‘lab’. Standing beside it was a pink pony who’s look of shock matched her own.

“Pinkie-- Ah mean, Rainbow? Are ya’ll alright?”

“No, I’m not alright! I... I didn’t know I was going to get stuck like this! How am I supposed to join the Wonderbolts if I don’t have wings? Or be captain of the weather team, or fly, or... or anything?”

“D-don’t worry, Ah’ll try and fix this, sugarcube...” Applejack said before turning back to the pegasus now known as Pinkie Pie. “What happened and how can Ah help?”

“Well... the machine worked the first time, but it broke right after making us each other. So, now I’m stuck as Rainbow Dash and she’s stuck as me! Usually when things break though, a good hit can get them working again. Dashie and I need to be in our spots when that happens though, so we need someone to hit the machine.”

“Ah think Ah can do that. Ya’ll sure that’s gonna work though?”

“I don’t think we have much of a choice! If this doesn’t work, then we won’t be able to switch back and then I’m going to have to learn to fly and Dashie is going to have to learn to bake.”

“Alright then, ya’ll both do what you need to and Ah’ll do mah part. Jus’ let me know when Ah should go for it.”

The pegasus gave a nod and headed over toward the machine, the pink pony doing likewise. Each of them stepped into one of the large chambers and turned back to look at Applejack as a little gate closed to keep them inside.

“Okay, do it now!” Came Pinkie’s voice.

Applejack didn’t need to be told twice. Spinning around, she gave the machine a good, hard buck. Suddenly, there was a loud popping sound and confetti shot everywhere. The orange pony jumped nearly a foot into the air, her eyes wide.

“What the hay...” She began before another sound caught her attention and she looked to see the two ponies in the machine rolling on the ground laughing. “W-what’s goin’ on you two?”

“Heh, you should have seen the look on your face! It was priceless!” Rainbow Dash said, her voice still coming from the pink pony as she wiped tears of laughter from her face.

“Yeah! Hee hee, that was so much fun.” The other pony giggled.

As Applejack watched, the two of them reached up to pull off what she could now see were just wigs, one pink and poofy, the other rainbow colored, and neither of them all that good now that she noticed. In fact, now that she wasn’t nearly as panicked, she could see that neither of the ponies even had their proper cutie mark, just crude drawings of them.

“Ah... Ah don’t even... what the hay’s going on?” She said, her eyes starting to widen as she realized what just happened. “Oh... consarnit you two! This was all just one of yer pranks, weren’t it? Well, it ain’t funny!”

As the earth pony watched the two of them step out of the machine and begin washing the dye from their coats and realized just how worked up she’d gotten though, she began to chuckle softly.

“Well... alright, maybe it was a mite bit funny. Ya’ll two had me right worried though. Ah didn’t know what Ah would do if ya’ll really were stuck like that.”

“Aww, sorry Applejack. I didn’t mean to really worry you or anything. Well, maybe just a bit, to make the reveal all the better. Maybe it was a bit much though...” The now freshly pink pony said, turning her head to remove the false wings even as Dash was washing the invisible ink off of her own.

“It’s fine, sugarcube. No harm done. Though, mah heart’s still goin’ so fast.” She said with a laugh. “Ah might just have ta take a bit of a rest before headin’ back out ta work.”

Pinkie Pie brightened up considerably as her friend seemed to be taking the prank quite well. “Okie-dokie-lokie! I proclaim that prank a huge success then. Yay! Although, it does take a whole lot of work to get right... funny, but I think I’ll just stick to hoof buzzers. Thanks for being such a good sport, Applejack! I’ll get right to work on getting all this cleaned up!”

“Yeah, me too. With the two of us, your barn should be back to normal in no time!” Dash said with a grin.

With that, the two ponies set about pulling down their construction, Applejack lending a hoof as well instead of just watching them. With all three of them working, it didn’t take long at all before the barn was right back to the way it should have been. After she had somehow put the last of the materials into her saddlebags, Pinkie began to head out of the barn, waving goodbye to her friends.

“Well, I’ve got to get going. I’ve got parties to plan and cakes to bake! See you later, Dashie, Applejack. Try not to work too hard! Remember, all work and no play makes... I don’t remember the rest, but it’s not good.” She said, thinking on it as she walked out. “Was it all work and no play makes for a sad day, or winter stay...”

After giving their own goodbyes to the pink pony, Rainbow Dash and Applejack turned to each other. The pegasus was still chuckling softly as she grinned to the orange pony.

“Heh, hope you didn’t mind that too much AJ. I met up with Pinkie Pie in Ponyville, but even I didn’t know what we were going to do til we got here. Still, that was great!”

“Ah don’t mind one bit, Rainbow. Heh, Ah can take a joke as good as the next pony. Though, Ah’m gonna have ta work a bit harder ta catch up after this...”

“Hmm... I know you said I could have day off, but I could help you finish up if you’d like. I mean, it is kinda my fault you’re running behind.”

“Ah’d be most appreciative of that. Ya’ll don’t have to if you don’t want, but Ah certainly wouldn’t say no to some help.”

“Sure thing then! I’d be glad to help out.”

Applejack gave her friend a wide smile before nodding and starting to head back out toward the field, the pegasus following alongside her.

“Heh, you know the thing that worried me the most when Ah heard the news from Pinkie Pie? That ya’ll had lost yer wings, Rainbow. Ah know how important they are to you and Ah didn’t know how you would take losin’ them. Ah jus’ knew it wouldn’t be good and that ya’ll would need somepony there to help.”

“Hmm... I hadn’t really thought about something like that before.” Dash said, turning her head a bit to look back at her wings. “Yeah, if something happened and I lost them or couldn’t fly or something... that’d be pretty devastating. Flying is my life, always has been, and if I lost that... well, I’d need all the help I could get.”

They walked on in silence for a moment before the pegasus spoke up again. “I hope something like that never, ever happens to me, or any pegasus. If though... if something did happen, then I would definitely want you there for support, Applejack. Maybe, with a friend like you, I’d be able to pull through it.”

“That’s mah hope too, Rainbow. Though, like you say, if...” The earth pony trailed off for a moment before taking a breath and continuing. “Ah’d be there for you in a heartbeat, ta do whatever Ah can ta help.”

Again, the two fell into silence, each lost in their own thoughts. Finally, Rainbow gave a little laugh and shook her head.

“Well, now that we’re nice and depressed, how bout we go get some work done.”

“Heh, sounds good ta me. Race ya there.”

“Oh, you’re on!”

________________________________________

Though she never did manage to get any flying practice done during her time off, Rainbow Dash had still had quite a bit of fun and considered it a good day. After the excitement of that day though, things fell back into the normal routine around the farm for the next few days. Applejack woke her up early in the morning, they watered the plants, took a break for a big lunch, continued working the fields, and then went to bed shortly after sunset. Under the ponies’ care, the plants continued to grow larger day by day. Finally, Applejack declared that they were big enough to not need such careful tending every day, so long as it rained pretty regularly.

Without as much work left to do around the farm, Rainbow Dash found herself with a lot more free time to spend as she pleased. Or she would have, if she didn’t have weather team duties to catch up on. Still, that wasn’t a particularly difficult job and she still had plenty of time to practice her tricks or just hang out with her friends, though she did insist on being the one to put together the rainclouds over Sweet Apple Acres when they were called for. Applejack continued to wake her up early in the mornings for some reason, though it wasn’t quite as hard to do anymore and that did give her extra time to be out and about.

As for the earth pony, Applejack too was taking this time to catch up with her friends, having pretty much vanished from Ponyville for the past two weeks or so. There were still things to do around the farm, mending tools and buildings, checking up on the crops to make sure they were growing well, and even starting to look over the apple orchard since the trees were beginning to leaf out again. She got Rainbow to help out with the tasks that the pegasus could help with, but some things just required more experience than what the blue pony had and she did those herself.

The scenery around Ponyville began to grow green once more as the Spring days passed, the weather growing warmer as life emerged once more from the ground. While perhaps it did not carry the same tranquility as Winter, there was something to be said for these times as well. Ponies began to spend far more time outdoors, tending to their own gardens or simply enjoying the beautiful weather put together by the pegasi and Celestia’s sun.

During the occasional times that their friends were busy with their own jobs, Rainbow and Applejack often found themselves hanging out with each other since they both had roughly the same time off. Often it wound up leading to some form of competition and it wasn’t uncommon to see the two ponies racing through the apple trees up at the farm or around the outskirts of Ponyville. As the days grew longer, and the beautiful white and pink blossoms began to bloom upon the once bare apple trees, so too did their friendship grow and flourish in the beauty of the Spring.