• Published 17th Apr 2018
  • 764 Views, 25 Comments

Is This It - PapierSam



Rarity and Rainbow Dash embark on many byzantine heists. Keywords: suspension of disbelief, context, and dramatic crackfic.

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Chapter Three: Someday, Here We Come

In the last chapter: Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy try too hard to protect each other, but it saves the ring Rarity gifts a faraway Sweetie Belle.

In this chapter: a knight in shining armour makes an appearance, Applejack makes a change, and the house makes for a home.


“C’mon, house number one was perfect for you idiots!”

“Here, here!”

Saturday afternoon found Rainbow Dash — sprawled lazily on the floor — and Rarity — cross-legged on the sofa — watching reality home real-estate television after a successful infiltration on the small local branch of a powerful pharmaceuticals company.

“Oh sweet mercy, they aren't thinking of using aquamarine back-splash, are they?”

“They better not!” Rainbow shouted, throwing her hands up. “That's super crappy.”

This mostly included the loudly voicing the opinion of fiscally challenged teens to unbeknownst adults financially stable enough to own their own houses.

And, considering the pair were crowded in the living room of the rented upper floor of the Carousal Boutique, Rarity didn't have much of a leg to stand on at all. Or space, for that matter.

Still, the two found solace in the small room in the form of complaining, as most people do.

Rarity was especially happy to now be able to share this hobby of hers with Rainbow – after only a few weeks of coaxing her into it subliminally by leaving the channel tuned on almost every time Rainbow was over.

With Rainbow’s routine visits becoming more frequent – now that their missions were making significant headway – this took a sudden effect that Rarity was most pleased by; both the new-found pastime, and the building success of their heists.

And, Rarity thought happily, they even got to use the sleek spy outfits she prepared. Today was a good day.

“Just – ugh!” Rainbow turned her head back to face Rarity. “Can you believe them? It's all scripted, I swear. Who chooses an en suite over a mancave?”

Well, Rarity supposed, Rainbow Dash will be Rainbow Dash. “Oh, you haven't seen anything yet. I have to show you this one episode with the awful brick beach houses.”

Rainbow stretched with a cat-like yawn. “Yeah you do. But later – we gotta get ready now.”

“Oh, yes!” Rarity exclaimed with a start. She looked at the time – half past three – and got off the couch. “My, my, isn't someone excited?”

Rainbow watched Rarity with a bemused expression as she walked to her closet. “Uh, I just got back from climbing through ducts and throwing bath bombs at security guards. Visiting people wasn't even exciting before all that.”

“Well, it could be. I for one am excited to see dear Flurry Heart in the flesh. Photos never do any living thing justice.” Rarity opened her walk-in closet, the sound of an arpeggiated piano riff echoing in her mind as she did, and started the imperative task of choosing the newest best outfit.

It was a feeling that always excited her; before her was a palette of clothing, waiting to be painted with.

Rarity sighed contently.

“It's just a baby,” Rainbow groaned with a grumpy energy that couldn’t come near Rarity’s closet of inspiration. “Cries like the rest of them.”

Rarity pushed aside her fur scarves. Today was a trench coat day. “Oh, of course you'll be that way. At least be happy to see Cadence again! We haven't since the baby shower – oh, I can't wait to hear all about being a mother!”

Rainbow stuck out a tongue. “Blegh.”

“Predictable.” Rarity held out two coats – one ebony and one charcoal – and weighed both warily. “Well, you should get dressed, too. We shouldn't be late, as dear Twilight has been anticipating us for the visit before they even announced it.”

“I'm going like this,” Rainbow said, tugging on her random-brand t-shirt before pushing herself off the floor. “Man, I hope Pinkie brings some rad desserts.”

Rarity nodded distractedly in agreement of anything Pinkie and desserts. Charcoal did look better with grey, but did she really want to wear grey? “That would be nice. Listen, do you think – where are you going?”

Rainbow stopped at the egress to the stairwell. “Gonna drop by the game store for a bit.” When Rarity gave her an incredulous look, she added, “You're gonna take three hours to get ready anyways!”

Rarity huffed, but Rainbow seemed to take it as acceptance and stomped down the stairs with a loudness that Prim Hemline would definitely later complain, 'scared off the customers, the few we have, because heaven knows most of my income comes from the rent and your own indulgence of fashion, Rarity’.

With a newfound determination to prove to Rainbow that perfection could be achieved in two hours if need be, Rarity rehung the ebony coat and turned to her shelves of greyscale dress pants.


Rainbow Dash yawned.

“Oh, oh, was that a yawn? How adorable!”

Apparently, so did Flurry Heart. Which must have been some kind of milestone, because Rainbow yawned like dying tractor, as Applejack put it.

“Is she tired?” Fluttershy leaned closer to Flurry, hands still clamped tight on Rarity’s shoulder. “Oh, we should get her to bed.”

“That's what she said,” Shining Armor muttered with a grin and a skirting look at Cadence.

She seemed too busy with Flurry, like everyone else. “Oh, it's still early. She naps more often in the morning.”

“She's nocturnal!” Twilight chirped. “That will make for some very productive study nights in the future.”

“That's what --”

“Honey, I heard you the first time,” Cadence whispered without looking away from the baby Rarity cradled. “Don't push it.”

Shinning dropped his head. “Okay.”

Too bad, Rainbow thought, because Shinning’s commentary was the best part of the ga-ga baby fest. Rainbow held in the urge to gag, knowing Rarity was even snippier than Cadence.

Still, it had been a pretty long time since the gang got together, and probably felt even longer with the missions Dash has been doing. Right then, sitting in Twilight’s living room with everyone felt like old times.

sap, Rainbow reflected.

“You should take her, still,” Rarity said, but without meaning it. She held her arms out, but moved herself with them until she seemed close to falling over.

Cadence claimed her baby with what Rainbow thought was impressively inconspicuous agility. She hadn't seemed like she had a problem with everyone holding Flurry, but this was the first time they had visited in forever. Maybe Cadence just wasn’t used to sharing her child, or maybe it was motherly instincts.

“So how come you don't visit more often?” Rainbow asked, raring to change the topic to anything else. “Is it just a distance thing?”

“Mostly,” Cadence said, eyes on Flurry. Of course. “And since Flurry, I've taken a leave from work, so Shiny has been working even more now.” She looked up at him, worried. “But we do wish he could stay home more often, spend more time with Flurry.”

Shining nodded. “Yeah. That's why we were thinking of moving back here for a bit – did Twi tell you guys?”

“Yeah,” Applejack said, amused. “Like, a hundred times. Girl was more excited than a gaggle of geese on compost day.”

Rainbow caught Rarity's sour expression at the phrase.

In the meantime, Twilight shrugged self consciously, twirling a lock of hair. “Well, no. Maybe. I just – you know. Like having you guys around. I miss you, sometimes.”

“Aww,” came the chorus, Fluttershy putting a comforting hand on Twilight.

Pinkie came bursting into the room, strawberries clutched in her fist. “It feels like someone here needs a hug!” She pointed a red finger at Cadence. “Is it you? I can hug you right now, and I'll even smell like fruits!”

Cadence giggled sweetly and adjusted Flurry in her arms. “Thank you, Pinkie. I really wish you'd let us help bake, though.”

Everyone nodded in agreement. Dash especially wanted to help clean the bowl.

“Nuh-uh!” Pinkie huffed, striking a hero's pose. “I'm gonna making a home-made baby cakes cake as homemade as possible, and I can't have anyone ruin the first cake this little puff ball ever has!”

With that, she zipped back into the kitchen, leaving a puff of flour behind.

“Smells great so far!” Dash called out encouragingly.

“That girl,” Applejack murmured, shaking her head. Everyone took a moment to silently agree with her.

“Actually,” Cadence started after, looking at Rarity. “Rarity, Twilight told me about your living arrangements. I wanted to ask about that.”

Rarity waved a hand in the way she does when she does...well, just about anything. Flirty-ish. “Oh, do not hesitate, darling. Ask to your heart’s content!”

Shining took the invitation. “So how does the whole living on a store work?”

Rainbow saw the gleam in Rarity’s eye. The only thing that girl loved more than fashion was homecare.

“Oh, it's actually the rich, beloved cousin to living in a basement apartment. You get a lot of light, and a view in most cases. Not to mention good circulation.”

“What about the noise,” Cadence asked. “When the store has a rush hour, or on a regular day. How is that?”

“Oh, the reality is that you will notice traffic underfoot, but if you adjust to it and aren’t sensitive to company, you’ll learn to love it.”

Rainbow looked around at everyone else. Applejack and Fluttershy had started their own hushed conversation, and Twilight was cooing Flurry at Cadence’s side.

Meanwhile, Dash sat adjacent to Rarity and completely cut off from any escape of her conversation. Sure, home television was fun, but that was because you could loudly mock it.

Shining leaned forward. “What about security? You’re more likely to get robbed if it's a store, y'know?”

“Well, not unless it’s a jewelry store or something to that ilk,” Rarity said, and Rainbow swore she saw her eye flicker. “But I do understand your concern. I haven't had any issues thus far. It's a quiet town, if you get me.”

“Yeah,” Shining agreed distantly. “So I figure amenities are close by, 'cause it's a business and all.”

“Oh, yes.”

“What's the cost like?”

“I will admit, it is a bit on the higher end. Of course that depends on many things, but it would be more than a basement apartment.”

“Hhm-hmm.”

Rainbow drummed her fingers. This was almost as excluding as the baby conversation.

“But I would definitely recommend it. The community and convenience that comes with living above a store is unparalleled, and it's worked out for me to be so close to my own place of work. Of course, that's a blessing and a curse.”

“So you're paying it all by yourself?”

“Oh, heavens no! I couldn't afford that. I do what I can, and my parents cover everything else, bless their souls. They work so hard as it is.”

“I couldn't imagine. So I guess the drive back and forth was more than the rent.”

“I would say the push factor was more so the toll all that driving would do. To the environment, and it's terribly numbing to drive so long everyday, combined with the stress.” Rarity sighed. “Moi staying here while they live uptown was the best option, especially for Sweetie.”

“Yeah. If I may ask, how is your sister?”

Rainbow flinched only slightly, but her mind suffered whiplash. She had completely zoned out until Cadence had asked that – not like it was a bad thing, but the mention of it still gave Rainbow the chills. Even she couldn’t just throw the question that casually, and she made a joke of everything.

But Rarity seemed totally not at all phased. Girl took it like a pro, as if it was just another question about her house.

“Oh, she's doing all right. The doctors have been hopeful, at least.”

Cadence brightened. “That's wonderful to hear. I pray for her best. And what about you? Have you been okay?”

Rarity nodded, still all composed. “Oh, yes. Thank you for asking. Everyone has been so kind.”

“Good,” Shining said, sounding deeper, like he was trying to appear tougher. “And hey, we're right around for you, too. Just ask Twi to give us a call if you ever need anything.”

“Most definitely.” Rarity nearly bowed her head. “Thank you.”

Barely a second passed before Pinkie charged back into the room. “Okay, my hug senses aren’t just tingling, they’re full-on electrifying! Who's gonna get a hug? Huh!?”

Everyone laughed, even Rarity, even Rainbow Dash, and just like that, the conversation picked up again. It was almost too smooth, like scripted home TV, Dash thought. Pinkie smothering Rarity in a hug, Applejack excusing herself to the balcony for air, Fluttershy sitting quietly and watching.

Rarity, returning Pinkies hug with a pat from her free arm, as if everything was normal.

Well, Dash thought, poking Pinkie and asking her about licking the bowl, maybe she wasn't in anyplace to say what was normal.


The evening weather was just how Applejack liked it: chilly enough to make you feel fresh.

She spent about three minutes alone there before the sliding door creaked open and she turned around to see Rarity hugging her black coat close to herself.

Applejack watched as Rarity walked up beside her, but her expression was hard to see – partly because it was dark out, but mostly because Applejack saw everything blurry if it was at least foot away.

Twilight had actually helped her find out she needed glasses, but getting them was another story: she had too much to pay for, and everything else took priority. Glasses just weren’t as important to her as bills, or fertilizer, or tractor parts.

Or cigarettes.

Well, Applejack figured as she puffed out a long breath of smoke against the crisp, cold air, gotta feed the soul what it wants.

It was a long minute before Rarity sighed loudly.

“What’s the itch?”

Rarity threw her hands out. “I just don’t know if I could have a child!”

Applejack chuckled. “Ain’t you a bit young to be botherin’ with all that?”

“Well, ain’t you a bit young to be botherin’ with all that?” She motioned her hands in random circles at Applejack, but the message was clear.

All things considered, if Rarity acted older than she was, then Applejack did things she wasn't old enough too do. “Eh.”

“How eloquent,” Rarity muttered as she swiftly plucked the cigar out of Applejack’s fingers – the girl was nimble as a fox, must be from all the sewing – and dropped it over the balcony’s ledge.

They watched it fall and bounce on the pavement below, and then Applejack pulled back and stretched. “I hate it when you do that.”

“I have to do what’s right.”

“Well, littering ain’t right.”

Rarity drummed her fingers against the hand rail. “A small price I’ll pay to save your life, or quality thereof.”

“Actually, yer damagin’ the Earth –“ and Applejack cared a ton about the Earth, “- which is puttin’ the lives of everyone in the world at danger.”

Rarity tapped Applejack’s face softly, twice. “It’s the price I’m willing to pay, for you.”

Applejack rolled her eyes and turned around, leaning her back on the hand rest. “It’s just a cigarette! ‘Ts not even the good kind.”

“There is no good kind!”

Applejack hadn’t lived an easy life, but learned a lot of lessons from it. One of those lessons was that some battle were better lost.

“Didn’t you come out here to complain ‘bout babies?”

“Right!” Rarity perked, then began twisting one of her curls between her fingers. “Seeing Shining Armor and Cadence made me think, ‘hmm, Rarity, do you really want to care for a crying brat for the rest of your otherwise successful life?’.”

“You talk to yerself in the third person when you think?”

“I find myself narrating the story of my life.”

“Ah.”

“Oh, you think it's weird, don't you?”

“No,” Applejack said. She really didn't bother herself much with how other people were, as long as it didn’t get in her way.

Rarity pushed Applejack playfully, but pulled her hands quickly back into her jacket pockets. “Oh, sometimes you're no fun. Call me self-centered, at least!”

Applejack clicked her tongue. “I ain't gonna do that.”

“Oh, you've done it before.”

“I say things when they need to be said,” she explained easily. “But right now it's only gonna start a whole 'nother thing.”

Rarity shifted her elbows in a half dance. “Maybe I want to start a whole 'nother thing.”

Girl's gotta stop sounding more like me than me, Applejack thought, amused. Out loud she said, “Well, you got Dash, and that's a whole ‘nother thing, ain’t it?”

Rarity's brow creased, but she continued dancing. “Darling, what do you mean and where is it even coming from?”

“Oh, you know.” She had to, because everyone else did. “You and Dash even came here together, both late as a gopher in winter. Don't know when you two became two pees in a pod, but hey.”

“We are so not,” Rarity argued, shivering or dancing, Applejack couldn't tell anymore.

“C’mon,” groused Applejack. “What about the times when you make some random, unknown reference to something that no in gets, but Dash still laughs?”

“She's being considerate.”

“She's being part of the joke. 'Ts not a bad thing,” Applejack tipped her hat and spoke a little softer. She wasn't one for pep talks, but she said what she could when she could. “Look. I'm glad you two are gettin’ along. A while ago you were locking yerself out, and I don't care who it is helpin’ so long as they got you outta yer head. It's not easy for me to get started on these kind of things, and it sure can't be for you.”

Because it sure didn't seem easy. The first few weeks when Sweetie Belle was taken to the hospital left Rarity in tears or always near them. That part, everyone could help out, through talking, chocolate, and other things girls did.

The two months that followed – the ones that found Rarity moving alone and away from her family – felt like they would never change.

Rarity would seem like she was doing better, with her emotions in control, and it looked like she would get through things. But something about it always felt too artificial for Applejack’s farmer tastes. Like Rarity began acting a character – herself – and was doing so well it was hard to separate the script from the emotion.

But the small things showed: eating less, Applejack acutely noticed, spacing out more, and increasingly spending time alone and away with practiced excuses were all telltale cracks in her house of stone.

If Rainbow Dash somehow got through to her, got her out of that and into some new comradeship when just before the two couldn't stand to be on the same block as each other, Applejack couldn't be happier.

But she could still be worried over things out of their control. “Apple Bloom keeps me updated with the letters she been sending to Sweeetie. Things sound like they're getting better.”

“Indeed they do,” Rarity said with a distant look Applejack couldn't figure out.

But what she could figure out was how to keep things going. “If there’s anything we can do, don’t even think to yerself in the third person for a moment.”

Rarity smiled a small smile. “Right. Thank you. And also.”

“Yeah?”

Rarity turned and level Applejack with an intent stare that was as warm as it was cold. “I’ve already a sister in critical condition for no good reason at all. You should know that I wouldn’t want to lose a dear friend to something we all tried to stop.”

That was fair, Applejack thought, but life wasn’t. So when she nodded and told Rarity she’d stay out for a bit longer and was left alone, she lit another cigarette.

Rarity ought to know that some battles were better lost than others.


Rainbow Dash didn’t hear Rarity come in, but she felt the sharp slap on her shoulder that almost knocked her cake covered fork out of her hand.

“You should be telling her, she listens to you!”

“Ouch,” Rainbow made sure to say first, rubbing her shoulder and frowning at Rarity. Then, “Who?”

“Applejack!”

“Oh.”

“Oh nothing,” Rarity bit out in an indoor voice. “You know she doesn’t like things when I say them, but she agrees with you with most things.”

Rainbow pulled a face. “No she doesn’t. When I say I’m stronger, she says she is, and when I say I’m smarter, she’s all like, ‘Lyin’s a bad habit, sugarcube’.”

Personally, she thought she did a great Applejack impression, but Rarity didn’t seem impressed. Rainbow continued anyway. “Point is, she does the exact opposite of agree with me. I’m pretty sure she really hangs on things you say.”

Rarity crossed her arms and, in a quiet voice, mumbled, “Well I hope so.”

“’Sides, are you really in any position to tell people what’s morally right and wrong?”

A while ago, that would have given Rarity a pause. Now, she took to it like it was a trivia question.

“T’would be awfully stupid if one was required to be perfect themselves before they could notice something wrong in others,” Rarity said, casually and rehearsed. “We’ve all our reservations and opinions, and the circumstance of one’s relationship is what delegates how we may express them.”

“How many Plato and Achilles theories did you hafta mix together before you came up with that one?”

Rarity dropped her arms. “Achilles? Don't you mean Aristotle? Honey, it doesn't get farther off if you hit Jupiter whilst aiming for the sun.”

“How many?” Rainbow repeated impatiently.

“I had a lot of time to struggle morally internally.”

“Well, obviously that's not a good thing for you,” Rainbow said, slinging an arm over Rarity's shoulders. “‘Cause no one likes excuses.”

“No one likes that a devil-may-care outlook, either.”

“Eh.”

“Eloquently put,” Rarity said, with a smile. She didn't say anything after.

Rainbow was caught between giving Rarity a bro hug or a noogie, though each felt like the wrong thing to do.

As she went in for both, Shining Armor came, stuffing his phone in his pocket as he walked, and stood beside them.

“You look troubled,” Rarity said, standing as well. Rainbow stuffed more of Pinkie’s cake in her mouth and got up.

“Yeah,” Shining mumbled. He blinked, then, as if he just noticed he was talking. “Oh, sorry. Just got a call from work.”

Rainbow wanted to ask, because Shining was a cop and Dash was eager to hear some good action talk.

Rarity beat her to it. “Bad news?”

Shining shrugged. “Kinda. I mean, I was looking into some positions here, and wanted to see what was going on, too. If, y’know, all is safe and stuff.”

The thought big bro instincts came to Dash's mind.

“And?”

“And it's still a tumbleweed town,” Shining chuckled.

Tumbleweed. Dash would have to call Applejack that next chance she got.

“But I got a few weird reports about – “ he shook his head “ – I dunno, crazy Pink Panther style break-ins.”

Rainbow could practically hear Rarity’s offended mental screech in her head, and she agreed. They were more like Spy Kids.

“Yeah,” Shining went on, probably taking their silence as a stunned one. “It's silly, but also sorta concerning. Some big company secrets were broken into in the last stunt. These guys could do some serious blackmail with that.”

Or research, Dash thought.

Rarity hummed thoughtfully. “It's all very intriguing. Any clue on suspects?”

“They're saying it's probably just one group, based on how similarly unorthodox all the crimes have been.”

“Maybe it's the mafia,” Dash suggested. She figured Rarity was fishing for info, so she decided to throw Shinning off their trail.

“No,” Shining said humourlessly. “They don't have a perp, but – ” he dropped his voice conspiratorially low “ – the PD’s got an idea of where they're aiming next, and when. And, heads up: stay away from the museum.”

That threw things out of the kiddie pool and into the shark infested ocean.

Rainbow held her breath. She heard Rarity breathlessly ask, “How...do they know that?”

Shining drew back, and his voice picked up. “Well, I'm not supposed to say. Shouldn't have said much of that at all, but.” He shrugged and grinned. “Eh.”

“Eloquently put,” Rarity remarked, sounding spacey.

He punched his chest and grinned even wider. “Hey, don't worry. The best cop around is gonna join the party and bust these jokers.”

Piranhas. The shark ocean now had piranhas.

“Oh?” tittered Rarity, just slightly shaking.

“No doubt. Not gonna let anything touch my sis. And double that with my babies moving here.”

Dash wasn't sure what to think first. Heh, smooth. Also, crapcrapcrap! with a little, we're not jokers, idiot! On the side.

Man, maybe Dash thought too much too.

“Speaking of,” Rarity cut in a little rigidly. “Where are Cadence and Flurry Heart?”

Shining shrugged. “Having cake. But I should probably go find 'em. Your friend Pinkie just had a quintuple shot molasses thinking it was espresso and I'm guessing the situation's about to get sticky.”

He waved and head off, leaving Rarity and Rainbow Dash to look at each other in the kind of slow horror that sinks in the stomach like five shots of molasses.

Finally, Rarity whispered, “A sticky situation indeed.”

Rainbow Dash nodded without knowing it. “That's what she said.”


Applejack was still a bit put out at the haystack of homework they were assigned when she saw Rarity looking aimlessly into her locker.

Maybe gettin' all dreamy-eyed at her Gone Girls shrine or whatever, she thought passively, and giving herself a enough of a chuckle to pull her out of her funk.

Applejack had the very useful ability to get over things quick. Unlike Rarity, for example, who was still lost in thought as Applejack walked past her. Alone.

Rainbow Dash was in detention for complaining loudly what Applejack had thought. Leave it to that girl to cluck like a goose and fight like one too.

Applejack turned heel and stopped beside Rarity, tipping her hat. “Howdy, stranger.”

“Howdy,” Rarity responded with a quick smile but aimless eyes.

As Applejack peered into Rarity’s locker, she herd her squeak.

“What?”

“Your hat is in my eye!” Rarity indignantly huffed.

“Sorry.” AJ stepped back and pushed the brim up involuntarily. “Whatchu starin’ at like a lost chick?”

“You know, I wish you'd call me that as a compliment and not as a farm animal,” Rarity sighed. “I was just thinking. And yourself?”

Applejack shrugged. “Came 'round to see ya.”

“It's always good to see you,” Rarity said, in that flirty was she said most things. “But I do have to be going soon.”

“Jus’ waitin’ for RD, yeah?”

Applejack hoped that didn’t come out accusingly. She hadn't meant to say it, but it came to mind and, if she was honest, her own filter was almost as bad as Rainbow’s.

Rarity neither said yes or no, instead asked, “Did she get held up in your last class?”

“Eeyup.”

“Typical.”

She sighed again, deeper, as she shut her locker, and had a pinched look on her face that Applejack couldn't read.

Seriously, sometimes Rarity wore her lip-gloss heart on her cheek, and sometimes she wore a mask that had way too many distracting decorations.

But Applejack could at least tell something was on her mind. Anyone could. “So you headin’ home then?”

“No…” Rarity trailed off, not in her theatrical style. She paused, thinned her lips, then turned them into a smile at Applejack. “Actually, I was hoping you would accompany moi to the museum right now.”

Applejack took a moment to think of an answer to the sudden change. “Yeah?” She settled on.

“Yes. Please? I'd hate to go alone.”

“I'm sure you would,” Applejack caved. She wasn't all too thrilled to get home and do her homework anyway. “I jus’ hope there’s something exciting you’re goin’ for.”

Rarity started walking her very hip-driven walk, and Applejack followed. Her thin smile remained, but with a familiar puckishness. “Oh, you'll see.”


Applejack didn't see.

Not entirely because she needed glasses, which is something she wish she'd stop reminder herself of.

“I do like this one,” Rarity commented on what was the fifth sparkling rock they passed in the last twenty minutes.

“It's a rock,” Applejack said, her enthusiasm dry as a southern well in summer.

“Hhm-hm,” Rarity hummed in response. She swung her hands to her right in a way she had done a few times by now, that left Applejack wondering if she was in a weird dancing mood.

They had been at the local museum – which was more like a fancy pawn shop the size of a grocery store of two stories – for almost an hour now, with not much to say about it. Rarity lead the way to some gem or some hundred-year-old tool, made a comment that was hard to reply usefully to, and made some probably hoity-toity hand wave before rinse and repeat.

Sometimes Applejack would try at conversation, but Rarity was too distracted and only paid enough attention to Applejack to tell her ‘not to touch everything with her muddy farm hands’.

Applejack was tempted to mention taking a smoke break just to get Rarity started on an argument for fun.

...that sounded too much like something Rarity would do, Applejack considered sourly.

Instead, she took another shot at the wind. “You heard about ‘Shy’s brother?”

“What about him?” Rarity asked, scrutinising a gem with holes.

“Well, she says he's visiting, maybe.” Applejack half-chuckled. “We'll have all three big brothers in this small town, huh? Think it’ll implode?”

“Perhaps.”

Applejack wasn’t too used to Rarity being this aloof. Felt a lot like grief-stricken Rarity.

Was she still bothered by yesterday? And should AJ be distracting her, or snapping her out of it?

“Did you see the news?” Applejack asked, deciding on the former.

Rarity turned and walked a few strides to look at another wall of stone that looked like a bubble cake. “Well this is interesting.”

Applejack shrugged. “Yeah.”

It may have sounded more like a question, because Rarity looked at her, pointing at the rock with a silky white gloved that probably didn't even keep her dainty hands warm from the weak November wind.

“Oh, yes. Did you know this particular gem is thought to have stored a compound of minerals known to speed up the cell healing process? Research is still being done.”

“Leave it to you t'believe in healing stones and all that dream-catchin’ magic,” Applejack mumbled.

Rarity sighed with a motion of her hands, and said, “You seem bored. Are you bored?”

“I ain't bored,” Applejack denied on reflex.

“I think you are.”

“Well, anyone else wouldda been bored dumb with these bland walls and blander showpieces. RD wouldda been too.”

Rarity looked at her with – disappointment – but spoke as casually as ever. “Why do you keep bringing her into things, honey?”

Honestly, she didn't know why. “I ain’t.”

“Because you do keep bringing her up, in case you're not keeping track of that,” Rarity persisted, walking on. “It's not like she and I just met yesterday.”

Applejack followed, and answered calmly, if a bit grumpy. “Seems like it. One day you're shoutin’ at her to 'remove her smelly soccer aura’ and the next you two are waltzing into dinner parties late together.”

They walked into the entrance to a large, open display room, but stopped at a glass-enclosed podium that Rarity studied. “Friends don't always get along flawlessly. You and I are a perfect example of that.”

Applejack shook her head. She wasn’t jealous, that surely wasn't the problem. “Look, I said it before, I'm glad y'all're getting’ along. I jus’ – I don't know.”

“W-”

“I ain't done,” Applejack cut in. She wasn't the type to talk about feelings and mush, so she knew that she could try and get it out now, or she could push it away behind all the responsibilities in life. “I jus’ – I guess I wanna know why.”

“Why?” Rarity parroted.

“Why. Like, why did it – well, maybe more like what. What did she do to help you outta your funk when the gang all tried to. Pinkie tried her darnest, and she could make a crow laugh.” She stiffed her hands into her pocket, and ignored the old receipt that crumpled under her fist. “Heck, I got more experience with dyin’ family and I couldn't help you none.”

When Rarity didn't answer for a while, Applejack had he sinking feeling that she had been maybe too direct. Maybe that's why Rarity avoided her the first few weeks: Applejack handled these things with a brutal honesty that just wasn't for everyone.

Then, after a long enough wait that Applejack almost took it all back, Rarity smiled, giggled a bit.

“I think you're upset at yourself.”

“Yeah?”

Rarity nodded slowly, blinked just as slow. “I think, I think you were upset that there was something you learned the hard way, and you didn’t want someone you cared about going through the same thing. I think you’re upset that I went through what I’ve been through, and you blame yourself.” She leveled Applejack with a steady gaze. “And I think you’re stupid to be upset over that.”

Applejack grimaced. Sometimes Rarity could be as precise as her needle point. “I ain’t stupid.”

“You’re right, that was wrong of me to say.” Rarity ran a finger absently along the edge of the glass vault, attention now on Applejack. “But it was honest, wouldn’t you say?”

Darn devil girl. “Fine, you win.”

Rarity returned her hand to herself. “Oh, and was my prize this lovely date of ours?”

Throwing her head up, Applejack groaned loudly. “Woman, you have a one-track mind.”

“You do, too,” she heard Rarity counter. “That, and we both seem to share this inability to ask for help when we need it. Two pees in a pod, if you will.”

Applejack dropped her head and snorted. “You will.”

Rarity gave her an easy smile. She opened her mouth, closed it, then opened it again to say, “As for Rainbow Dash – she has an unending source of dumb luck.”

“Yeah?” Applejack prompted.

“Yes, I would say. And she has a tenacity to get involved that you wouldn’t believe.” She hummed fondly. “And sometimes, if you’re the right person at the right place at the right time, all the wrong things start to balance out.”

Applejack waited for her to say more. When nothing came, she said, “That don't make much sense.”

“Oh, believe me, honey, things in my life stopped making sense a while ago.”

“Well, this time it's jus’ cause you ain’t explainin’ like a normal person would.”

Rarity shrugged, then, still looking wistful. “Fine. Rainbow Dash just happened to be my knight in shinning armour.”

Of course she would say that. “She beat at this one thing, then, huh?”

“It isn't a competition.”

“You bet your lady fingers it is,” Apple countered.

“Of course.” Rarity rolled her eyes, then trained them on the contents of the glass case. “They say Meadowbrook herself wrote the cure-all elixir in her notes right here.”

Applejack leaned over to look at the papers scattered in the display. “Is that what this is?”

“Well, it's believed so,” Rarity explained with a flourish of her hands. “You'd have to read it to find out.”

“Huh.”

She straightened then, clapping her hands before pulling off her gloves slowly. “Well, our grievances out of the way, I suppose all that's left to visit is the gift shop, wouldn't you say, Green Eyes?”

Apple groaned. “And I thought this couldn't get any worse.”

Rarity walked back to Applejack, link arms with her, and dragged her off. “Oh, come now. Maybe they'll have some aged cigars you'll like.”

“It ain't wine. 'Sides, gift shops are overpriced. You know that.”

“I have to by now, with how often you'll bring it up.”

“Sure,” AJ huffed. Still, she let Rarity take her away. “We should get something for yer sis. Maybe a nice little bow.”

“The thought is appreciated, but I think you’re confusing sisters here.”

Applejack laughed, and for a while she let Rarity lead her through the empty-as-a-chicken’s-stomach halls.

Then, with a suddenness, Rarity said, “I would like to make mention that I do appreciate when your being honest with me – the sincere, emotional honesty.” She smiled wryly. “I could do without your misplaced comments on various other things, such as my taste in leisure pursuit.”

Apple returned it with an easy grin. “Hey, you get it all or you get none, sugarcube.”

“I’ll have a serving of all, then, please,” Rarity said with that subtle tease of hers that Applejack could see miles away without glasses.


Smashing through the glass wasn't very subtle, but it was dangerous.

Just Rainbow's style.

And, having the element of surprise, throwing two swift darts that caught the bewildered guards’ neck before they even turned around was so Dash's style.

The two burly men fell over almost instantly, without any chance to raising alarms. Dash sidestepped one gingerly, but in doing so stepped right on the other one's face.

Huh, Dash mused when he didn't wake up screaming, those knock out drugs are hardcore.

Which meant Dash owed Rarity $50 for betting against the usefulness of their pharmaceuticals heist. But in her defense, it did put them on the cop’s radar, Shinning Armor’s no less.

Dash made her way to the control panel, and gave the dated, overly distributed security cam system an arrogant glance.

What is this, amateur hour? I've hacked so many of these, I could do it in my sleep.

Which sounded like a good idea right about now, the computer reading one in the morning and her creeping yawn reading just as late. She smothered it, though, because if shattering heavy glass didn’t wake the whole town, Dash’s yawn would.

She got to work rewinding through the day's footage. She stopped at 3:46 the past afternoon, the time she got Rarity’s text, and sure enough, the camera showed her and Applejack breezing through the halls like any old random high schoolers going to a boring museum on a school day.

Well, that wasn't fishy as much as it was a huge red flag with bold, capital letters spelling loser.

She watched the playback on twice speed, making note of the hand motions Rarity made at each display they stopped at.

At one point, Rarity and Applejack had a long conversation, which Dash lazily fast forwarded until she saw Rarity take off her gloves – same ones Dash was wearing now to keep from leaving fingerprints behind – and rewound just enough to catch Rarity’s super-fancy hand dance.

That one was the big fish, then.

Dash looked at the museum guide she picked out of the trash can. Six items checked off, and one mega-checked. Which was the same as saying seven easy steals for one super awesome Rainbow Dash.

She'd have to make it quick, though. Half an hour had already gone into phase one, and even if museum security was way more lax than company buildings – there wasn't much any normal criminal would steal from this hick town’s thrift exhibition anyway – she knew now not to tease the piranhas under the thin ice.

It was all right, though. Dash plucked her darts out of the security guards before searching for another window to smash. She wasn't an ace at this for nothing. Besides, she had to get that stupid homework done for tomorrow.

Rainbow Dash sighed. At least she could do one thing right today.


“Honey, could you be any worse at this?”

Rainbow threw her arms out. “I didn't even tip off security!”

Rarity pinched the bridge of her nose. She really appreciated Rainbow's enthusiasm, but it sometimes came out in the form of smashing glass unnecessarily.

“It's not like they wouldn't notice anything was stolen,” Rainbow argued.

“I would believe the contrary; it was so dead when Applejack and I went, I'd be surprise if they missed anything other than the reports.”

That peaked Rainbow's interest. “Hey, yeah. Do you really think those will help?”

Rarity flipped open the unassuming textbook to where Meadowbrook’s notes were tucked in. “I certainly hope so. But we won't know until I get it translated.”

Rainbow let out a long breath and leaned against the locker. “Too bad we can't get Twi to give us a hand.”

“Hhm,” Rarity hummed. She inspected the notes closer; fraying, yellowing paper with faded ink that smelled distinctly like wet winter pine needles. “Actually.”

Rainbow crossed her arms. “Yeah?”

“I wanted to tell Shining Armor that we're the thieves.”

Rainbow blinked, and Rarity wasn't sure if it was the surprise or her sleepiness that caused the delay in reaction.

Whichever it was, Rainbow pushed herself off the locker and cracked her voice on shouting, “WHAT?!”

“Relax,” Rarity hushed, patting Rainbow like an excited pup. “Listen to me. Listen.”

“I'm listening.”

“I just thought – ” Rarity hesitated “I’ve just been thinking a lot. Wouldn’t it be helpful if we got a friend as an ally?”

“And I’m chopped liver?” Rainbow challenged.

Rarity shook her head. “Absolutely not. You’re the hero. But if having you by my side got us this far this fast, imagine what having a cop of all people on our side. We could tip the scales in our favour indefinitely.”

“Or,” Rainbow hissed, “or, it could just get our behinds totally busted!”

Rarity sighed. She didn't come to the idea willingly herself, but talking to Applejack made her think things over with a new perspective. “Sometimes it's up to us to seek help when we need it. And we need it now, when we're so close to both getting caught and getting our answers. This could be the checkmate move for us.”

Rainbow didn't say anything, just fell back against the lockers with a loud rattle. Rarity put her hands on her arm, and looked at her imploringly.

“You trust my judgement, don’t you, darling?”

Rainbow scoffed and looked away, but didn't follow it up with anything until Rarity squeezed her arm.

Fine, tell the stupid guy. I still think everyone’s too dumb to find us out anyway.”

Rarity smiled and shook Rainbow lightly. “Oh, don't be like that. It was just dumb luck that you yourself found out.”

“Yeah right,” Rainbow scoffed. “Just admit that I'm better at spy work than you are.”

Rarity mock-gasped. “I'll only admit you are a far lighter sleeper at home than you are in class.”

“You just suck at sneaking around when it isn't with fancy words.” Rainbow flicked Rarity nose devilishly. “You could have woken up the entire neighborhood.”

“Firstly,” Rarity listed, freeing Rainbow's arm, “who leaves Lego blocks on the floor? Secondly, the javelin was just rotting away in your room, I did more than just myself a favour by stealing it, and third – ”

Rarity softened, leaned her back against the lockers, and gave Rainbow a soft, sidelong look. “Thank you for being so infuriatingly stubborn to follow me like a stalker. I learn everyday that in life, we need people to help us get by, willingly or not.”

Rainbow snorted and smiled. “Hey, I’m just in it for the thrill.”

“I know.”

They stalled there for a while, and all the people scuttling to get home or get to afterschool class or to detention like Rainbow Dash should have been, all of it was background noise.

The sound of a naïve melody surrounded the two of them instead.

“It’s gonna be so weird,” Rainbow whispered, “we’ve never told anyone the actual truth. Not even Sweetie Belle.”

Rarity nodded with her eyes closed. “The end is nigh, isn’t it?”

“Bring it on,” came Rainbows easy answer.

Rarity blindly reached for Rainbow’s hand, and held it carefully when she found it. “We’re homebound, darling.”


Author's Note:

These chapters are getting linearly longer. Which means I need to pay more attention to editing please excuse my first-print errors I'm a dumb-dumb

Also, I'm seeing a pattern in the episodic plot here. Gonna have to shake things up like a Rainbow Dash and Rarity byzantine heist.

Comments ( 1 )

Something about this is really special. I'd love to see more one day.

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