• Published 25th May 2018
  • 1,546 Views, 12 Comments

Of Orchards and Obituaries - Tumbleweed

Tragedy hurts more when you know it's coming.

  • ...

Chapter 2

For as much she prided herself on inspiration, Rarity was the the first to admit that it was determination that had brought her so far. Her ideas, while brilliant, would amount to nothing she never made time to sit down and meticulously craft each and every design.

And yet, as Rarity sat in front of the sewing machine, she found both inspiration and determination in short supply. She had hoped to busy herself with, well, busywork, but Rarity couldn't bring herself to do anything more productive than re-shelve a couple bolts of fabric. Rarity rolled up a swath of red flannel and stared at the plaid pattern. The fabric was sturdy, the sort of thing that could withstand the rigors of physical labor-- while still being just the right color to match a certain earthy tone of coat ...

It was a relief when Rainbow Dash barged in.

“Rarity! There you are!” The pegasus swooped through the front door, and set to circling Rarity's shop. “I just had the coolest idea for a new outfit?”

“That's good.” Rarity said, and slid the flannel back onto a shelf.

“So like, I need you to make me a new Wonderbolt flight suit, but you gotta make it too small, right? That way, I can go all 'raaaaaaargh' and flex really hard and then the suit rips apart and then I look totally badass!”

“Badass, yes.” Rarity said, and absentmindedly pulled out some yellow and blue fabrics.

“I know, right?” Rainbow Dash rolled through the air in joy, and then came in for a landing in the center of the shop. She flicked her wings out, proudly, and then paused. “Heeeey, wait a minute. Did you just say 'badass'?”

“I suppose I did.” Rarity unrolled her measuring tape and got to work.

“You're ... not supposed to do that.” Rainbow Dash said.

“Oh, I know I've got your measurements on file, but I should take fresh ones if we're going to get the desired effect.” Rarity stretched the measuring tape up the length of Rainbow's wing.

“No, you're agreeing with me. What's up with that?”

“Whatever do you mean?”

“Like, every time I come up with some crazy idea for a new outfit, you're supposed to say--” Rainbow Dash stood up taller, and affected her poshest accent. “--that's a start, darling, but what if we go a ... different route?”

“I am?”

“Yeah!” Rainbow Dash abandoned her imitation (which was probably for the best). “And then you make something that's even more awesome because that's what you do!”

“It is?” Rarity pulled the tape back.

“Well, duh! Seriously, haven't you been paying attention for the last however many years?” Rainbow Dash squinted at the unicorn. “You feeling alright?”

“I ... I'm fine.” Rarity rolled the tape up. “I'm just a hair ... distracted, that's all.”

“Yeah? What gives?”

“It's ... nothing.”

“Pssssh. It's obviously something. You're like two eye twitches away from locking yourself in your bedroom with your cat.”

“I am not!” Rarity said. “... even if such a sequestering does sound somewhat appealing.”

“Told you.” Rainbow Dash said. “Now you gonna spill the beans or what?”

“I suppose there'll be no pleasing you, otherwise.” Rarity sighed. “Applejack and I got into ... a fight.”

“So?” Rainbow Dash said. “I thought you two fought all the time?”

“We don't fight, dear. We ... bicker. Occasionally. That's more of a game, than anything, This ... this was different.”


“It ... it was stupid.” Rarity muttered. “I mean, I went all the way out to Sweet Apple Acres to bring Applejack something to eat, and when I tried to console her in her time of emotional turmoil, I found out that she was crying about a tree of all things. Can you imagine?”

“Whoa.” Rainbow Dash said. “... it wasn't Bloomwood, was it? Even I know how important that stupid tree was to her.”

“You do?” Rarity paled, even moreso than usual.

“Oh yeah. It'd be like, if your favorite sewing machine broke down and exploded or something.”

“But it has a lifetime warranty!” Rarity said, holding a hoof up to her mouth. A moment later, the realization set in, and the corner of her eye began to twitch. “Ah. I understand now. If you'll excuse me, Rainbow, I think I'm going to barricade myself in my room. Send Opalescence if you see her.”

“Oh no you don't!” Rainbow Dash zipped around in front of Rarity, blocking her path to the stairwell. “No crazy bedroom time!”

“But it's hopeless!” Rarity wailed, even as she made her way to her liquor cabinet. “Applejack will never forgive me after everything I did, and now I'm going to die loveless and aloooooone!”

“Nothing's hopeless!”

“Except for this!” Even through her sobbing, Rarity managed to mix herself a Manehattan (complete with cherry). She gulped a good third of the cocktail down, and then cradled her head in her hooves. “I've insulted everything Applejack stands for! And now ... the best I can hope for, the best I deserve is to die an old spinster with dozens of cats! And I've even screwed that up, because I already had Opalescence spayed!”

“Yeah, but there's one thing you haven't screwed up yet-- me!” Rainbow Dash puffed out her chest.

Rarity looked up, blinking. “What?”

“Okay, so maybe I could have worded that better, but the important part is, I'm in your corner, Rarity. I mean, I'm kiiiiiiinda responsible for getting you and Applejack together in the first place-- you're welcome, by the way –which means I'm already like a matchmaking expert. Or something! All we have to do is figure out a way to get you and Applejack talking again so that way you can make up and then you'll make out and then I'm not gonna think about what comes next because too much lovey dovey stuff makes me wanna barf.”

“I ... appreciate your enthusiasm, but--”

“I bet Fluttershy can help, too!” Rainbow Dash rubbed at her chin. “I wonder if she's still got the fake mustache.”

“I ... don't think that will be necessary.” Rarity said.

“Just a two mare operation? I can roll with that.”

“You're really not going to give this up, are you?”

“Nope!” Rainbow Dash said.

“In that case ... well, I suppose you're right-- in theory, if not in method. I ... I do want to apologize, but ... there's got to be something more to it. It's not like I can just make her an outfit to say I'm sorry ... even if Applejack would look quite mysterious and enticing in a black veil, but ... oh!” Rarity perked her ears, eyes suddenly shining with a familiar look of inspiration. “I think I know just the thing! And I'm going to need your help!”

“What do you want me to do?”

“Rainbow Dash, I need you to steal something for me.”

Night fell over Sweet Apple Acres, and Rainbow Dash got to work.

She stretched her wings out, silently gliding above the treetops. She flew in a wide circle, avoiding the cozy, warm farmhouse (despite the tempting scent of apple pie wafting up from the chimney). The wind tugged at the ends of the sneaking-mission bandanna tied around her forehead as she glided past the farmhouse and touched down behind the main barn. Rainbow Dash flicked her wings, then scanned the barnyard, searching for her target--

--she found Applejack instead.

Rainbow Dash heard her before she saw her-- Applejack's voice echoed out from within the barn, singing along to a mournful country record. It was hard to make out the exact lyrics, but Rainbow managed to catch a few key phrases: “drinkin' alone” and “broken heart” and “even my dog done left me” key among them. Curiosity getting the better (or perhaps worse) of her, Rainbow Dash crept up to the barn door and peeked inside.

Sure enough, there was Applejack, sprawled on her back on a hay bale. A rickety record player sat on the next bale over, warbling out the steel-guitar sound of heartbreak. A plain, unmarked jug sat on the floor next to her; Rainbow Dash recognized it for the sort of jug the Apple family used to hold The Good Stuff.

The pegasus leaned on the door, causing the hinges to squeak. Applejack blinked and looked over at the door. “Hey! Whossat?” She rolled off the hay bale and onto her hooves.

“Nobody!” Rainbow Dash squeaked, and ducked out of sight.

“Rainbow Dash?” Applejack tromped over to the door and pushed it open before the pegasus could take flight. “What n' tarnation are you doing here at this hour?”

“Oh! Uh, I was ... doing weather patrol stuff! Raindancer needed somepony to cover the night shift 'cause she was ... uh, on a date, yeah. So I figured I'd chip in and help out! And, uh, I got all the work done early, 'cause I'm awesome like that, so I figured I'd come by and say hi.”

“Welp. Hi.” Applejack said. “Ya done said it. Need anythin' else?”

“Well, uh. No?” Rainbow Dash scratched the back of her neck. “But, uh ... since I'm here, um ... are you alright, Applejack?”

“I'm fine. Everything's fine. Why would things not be fine?”

“Uh.” Rainbow Dash looked over her friend's shoulder, at the record player still playing mournful country music. “Just ... asking? Like, this isn't an earth pony thing or something, is it?”

“Can't a gal sit by herself in a barn listenin' to her records with maybe a li'l bit of somethin' refreshin' to take the edge off?”

“I ... don't know?” Rainbow Dash said.

“Well, I do know. Because that's what I'm doin'. And it's fine.”

“Fine. Got it.” Rainbow Dash nodded.

“Hold up ... “ Applejack narrowed her eyes, suspicious. “Did somepony send you all the way out here?”

“What? Send me?” Rainbow Dash faked a laugh, however unconvincingly. “Why would Rarity do that?”

“HA! I KNEW IT!” Applejack went back to her hay bale and scooped up her jug to take a defiant swig. “Rarity sent you to check up on me! Well, you just go back to Ponyville n' tell her I'm doin' great, ya got that?”

“Uuuh, kay?” Rainbow Dash took a step back. “You want me to tell her about the whiskey and the country music, too?”

“I don't care!” Applejack took another pull from her jug. “I reckon Rarity won't, either. She'd rather sip on her fancy-pants champagne and listen to all of her symphonical music with the fancy horns n' stuff. Ain't even got a banjo in it! How's that supposed to be cultured, huh? Just goes to show that some things just ain't gonna work out. Now go on, Rainbow. I've got a lotta records to listen to, and not enough night to do it.”

“But I--”

“Git!” Applejack slammed the barn door shut in Rainbow's face.

Rainbow Dash reared back to kick the door in, but reined herself in at the last moment. As galling as it was to let Applejack get the last word, Rainbow Dash reminded herself she had a mission to accomplish. And so, she backed away from the barn-- at which point she finally saw what she had flown so far to get.

With one last, furtive glance over her shoulder, Rainbow Dash skulked over to the woodpile, grabbed a large chunk of freshly-split applewood, and took to the sky once more.

Mission accomplished.

“I thought I'd find you here.” Rarity said. The early afternoon sun blazed overhead, which did nothing to help her mild hangover. Coincidentally, Applejack had quite a similar problem, though with the added 'bonus' of having the chorus of a particularly catchy murder ballad still stuck in her head.

Applejack grit her teeth, then eased the heavy basket of apples off of her shoulders (it wouldn't do to bruise a whole bushel, after all). “Issat so? Well, I ain't much in the mood to talk, Rarity. We both got better stuff to do anyway.”

“Of course, of course, you're ... busy.” Rarity said, delicately. “But-- well, I just wanted to let you know, I ... I'm sorry. Obviously that tr-- obviously Bloomwood was important to you, even if I ... didn't understand. At the time. I was absolutely beastly to you, and ... and if you want nothing to do with me, I'll understand.” Her voice wavered, ever so slightly, but Rarity pressed on. “Still, even if you never speak to me again, I ... I just wanted to give you something, first.”

“Welp, I hope you saved the receipt, sugarcube, 'cause I reckon you'll be better off takin' whatever fancified doodad ya got there back to the store.”

“Applejack!” Rarity scolded. “Did you really think I would be so gauche as to try to buy your lo-- your friendship? I'll have you know, I have worked on this hoof-crafted piece of art for hours, and do you know how hard it is to find a lathe at one AM?”

“Hold up, what did you need a lathe for?”

“For this, dearest.” With that, Rarity reached into her saddlebags with her telekinesis, pulling out a cloth-wrapped bundle, about hoof sized. “Whatever you do ... just take this. Please?”

Applejack looked down at the bundle, and then back up into Rarity's wide, pleading blue eyes. “Oh. Uh. If you put it that way ... “ She gingerly took the bundle in one hoof, then used the other to tug the cloth away-- and then gasped once she saw the present.

“I knew you'd like it.” Rarity said, allowing herself the luxury of a smirk.

“Rarity ... “ Applejack looked up at the unicorn. “Just ... just what the hell are you thinkin'?”

“Wait what.” Rarity's expression fell.

“I mean, not that I ain't flattered, but do you really think this is the right time for this sort of thing? I mean, just the other day we were at each other's throats, and now ... now you wanna do this? Y'all know this ain't some kinda fairy tale, right?”

“Whatever are you talking about?” Rarity said, bewildered.

Applejack balanced the lacquered wood ring on one hoof, not yet brave enough to see if it fit. “And, uh. I guess it goes with my coat, sure, but I always thought weddin' rings was s'posed to be made of gold n' jewels n' stuff.”

“Wedding ring?” Rarity's heart missed a beat. Several, really. But then, a moment later, she caught herself. “Applejack.” She said, carefully. “That's a hatband.”

“Beg pardon?”

“Here.” Rarity's horn glowed as she picked up the thin wooden ring and then delicately settled it over the crown of Applejack's well-worn hat. “Ah! Perfect! You see, I carved that hatband from some of, well, Bloomwood, and now it's like you can carry the tree with you, anywhere you go!”

“Oh.” Applejack took off her hat and marveled at the dark-stained strip of wood around the crown. “Oh. That ... that's mighty nice of you, Rarity. It's prolly the most thoughtful thing anypony ever gave me. And ... hell, and here I am, thinkin' you wanted to get hitched or somethin'.” She trailed off into a nervous laugh.

“Perish the thought!” Rarity blurted, and then held a hoof up to her mouth in shock. “I mean. Ah. Not that ... such a prospect doesn't have a ... certain appeal, but ... “

“I got the farm!” Applejack said, desperate. “And you've got your boutique!”

“Exactly.” Rarity nodded, curt. “Neither one of us is ready for that sort of commitment. Why, can you imagine how much of a fiasco a wedding would be?”

“You're tellin' me. Granny Smith would invite the whole dang clan-- and somepony's gotta feed 'em. I'd be bakin' apple fritters for days!”

“And I would have to absolutely outdo myself with the wedding gown-- ye gads, the embroidering alone would be a feat in and of itself ... “

“'Sides, not like we need to get married anyway. What we got goin's pretty nice. Well, except for what happened yesterday.”

“I mean, everything has its ups and downs.” Rarity said. “Provided, of course, that you ... you still want to make this work?”

“Course I do!” Applejack blurted.

“So you ... you forgive me for being such an insensitive lout?”

“Only if you'll forgive me for yelling at you. I ... I wasn't in my right mind, was all.”

“And that's why I couldn't stand it. Whenever I see anypony-- or you, specifically, in pain ... it hurts me even more. I just want to ... fix things, you know?” Rarity hesitantly reached forward, pulling the farmpony into a hug. No sooner had her hoof touched Applejack's coat, the earth pony wrapped her forelegs around Rarity in a deliciously tight (if slightly sweaty) embrace.

Rarity squeaked in delighted surprise, and then found herself staring into Applejack's eyes, nose touched to hers. “Apology accepted?” Rarity managed, even as she felt her heart beating faster.

Applejack winked. “Lemme show you.”

Her lips still tasted faintly of whiskey.

Comments ( 4 )

I think rarity should still be a might but upset at applejack. She was right to get angry after applejack used vague words instead of just telling her, leading her to believe granny Smith or even worse applebloom had died. And applejack just assumed rarity would know how important the tree was instead of explaining it. Hell we still don't know what makes the tree important other than it was the oldest. Rainbow said it was applejack favorite tree, but why was it her favorite? Was it planted by her parents or maybe first owners of the farm? Applejack, no matter how unintentional, played a mean spirited joke on rarity and should give her own apology for that, not just yelling.

Rainbow Dash, the relationships consult slash timber thief!

Also, a cute ending for a cute story. :raritystarry: :ajsmug:

Ooh, lovely ending. Now get married, you two. :p

I reviewed this story as part of Read It Later Reviews #88!

My review can be found here.

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