• Published 3rd Sep 2012
  • 6,074 Views, 270 Comments

Three's A Crowd - Sir0Chicken

Fluttershy and Twilight have grown close, but will the Fluttershy stand a chance against Applejack?

  • ...

A Proper Story

"Alright, darling. I suppose the best place to start is at the beginning. Mind you, I didn't know about all this for quite some time, but I've managed to put the pieces together well enough. This is all true, as far as I can gather."

Twilight nodded without a word. Taking her cue, Rarity nodded in turn and began to speak, pacing about the room as she did so.

"Anyway, Rainbow Dash and Applejack have always been good friends. We all have, really, but you've seen how they are. They've both got athleticism, and competitiveness to match. It only makes sense that they'd grow close. I think it was maybe five or six months ago when things took a turn, though.

"Now pay attention, because I'm going to cover a lot of things in a short time. Love can be confusing sometimes, and if that's ever been true it was true for those two."

Rainbow Dash sighed.

As she sat on a cloud high above Ponyville, waiting for sleep to overtake her, she felt her wings and legs itch with pent-up energy. There was too much going on. She couldn't just take a nap. Even so, it wasn't like recent events could be solved by kicking clouds or doing barrel rolls.

She sighed again.

It had been a while since Applejack left to go talk to Fluttershy. Rainbow wasn't sure how long, but it had to have been at least a couple of hours. She knew Applejack; that discussion couldn't have lasted too long. Of course, it's not like I have a good reason to go check on AJ, but still…

Once more, she sighed.

As she exhaled, her eyes glinted briefly, and she stood up on the cloud, head held high. Who am I kidding? If AJ has a problem, She unfurled her wings and, with her jaw set, she jumped off and began to speed toward Sweet Apple Acres.

Rarity rubbed her chin and looked to the floor. "Anyway, where was I?" Her hoof shot up and her eyes opened abruptly. "Oh! Yes.

"At some point, Rainbow made a bet with Applejack. Whoever could buck the most apples in a day and get them back to the barn won. I don't have to tell you who won that bet, now, do I?"

It took Rainbow just a few moments to reach Sweet Apple Acres, and she landed with a flap of her wings on the dirt road that connected the farm and Ponyville. Best to come in on foot instead of flying, she figured. Not to say that Applejack would chase me off, but just in case…

A few small clouds hung over the apple orchard, remnants of the week's rain supply. It was Cloudchaser's turn this week, Rainbow thought. She snorted. Typical sloppy work.

Rainbow remembered a time when it was always her turn to bring clouds for the Apples. For Applejack, really. That's what I get for taking a dumb bet, really. Not the last dumb thing I did with Applejack.

She lowered her head and sighed.

"I honestly don't know what got into Rainbow Dash, but at least she accepted defeat when it came. Twelve weeks of cloud duty for Sweet Apple Acres: that was the deal, and Rainbow honored it. Every week, without fail, she would be there, and she made sure the Apples received every drop of water they needed."

A chuckled escaped Rarity's lips. "From what I was told, Applejack absolutely loved it. She was the boss—that was another part of the deal, I suppose. She would tell Rainbow where to put the water, and if Rainbow told me the truth Applejack took a good deal of pleasure from making things difficult for her. It was all in good fun, I'm sure, but you know how those two tease each other sometimes. It really is quite precious.

"Rainbow tried not to let that get under her skin, but that could only last so long." Rarity blew out a long sigh and shook her head. "She always has had such a temper—not a violent one, mind you, but even so, she simply would not take that sort of abuse forever."

I was just doing my job, Rainbow thought, staring at the ground as she walked toward the Apple Family home. So what if I was helping out a friend? It was just another work assignment.

She sighed.

That was the plan, anyway. But we were friends, and she started it! "A little to the left. No, a little right. How about forward a bit?" What else was I supposed to do?

Rainbow tackled Applejack on that day so many weeks and months ago. The two ponies went down in a plume of dust and a heavy thud, and when the dust settled, Rainbow found herself on top of Applejack. It was so weird, and then it was awkward.

Except then, well, it stopped being awkward.

And that was when I kissed her.

"I'm sure you can imagine what Rainbow did next." Rarity stopped pacing and turned to face Twilight with a flip of her hair.

"Um, no?" Twilight shrugged and furrowed her brow.

"Really?" Rarity clucked her tongue and shook her head. "I was hoping you would look to how you would react to that sort of decision. She panicked. Flew away as fast as she could, shouting apologies the whole way back to Ponyville. And who does she go to for advice?" Rarity fluttered her eyelashes at Twilight.

"I'm assuming you, Rarity," Twilight answered with a roll of her eyes.

"Indeed, Twilight, dear." Rarity tossed her head back and began pacing again. "The poor dear, she was so distraught! I don't know what she would have done if I hadn't been there." Rarity smiled and closed her eyes for a moment. "Fortunately, I was there."

I went to Rarity—what else could I have done? Rainbow scowled, casting her glare at the dirt road in front of her. She made me pay through the nose for that, that's for sure.

"Of course I couldn't give proper advice without knowing the situation." Rarity held her head high and placed a hoof over her heart. "And if Rainbow refused to keep me in the loop, then how would I know what was secret and what was not." A toothy grin found its way onto Rarity's face. "It would have been a shame if I accidentally let something slip to somepony like Pinkie Pie, after all. I think Rainbow understood it was better to keep me informed so that sort of thing never happened."

At least Rarity actually helped me out in return. Rainbow exhaled sharply as a grimace began to spread across her face. I don't know how experienced she really is, but all that fuss she makes about looking confident—not that I needed her to tell me how to look awesome. It was just a good reminder. Stay confident.

"Stay poised," Rarity said with a wave of her hoof, adopting the manner of a teacher giving a lecture. "As trite as it sounds, appearances are half the battle. If you look good, you feel good."

Twilight snorted before she could stop herself. "Sorry, but I find it hard to believe that Rainbow needed a reminder to be confident."

"Oh, Twilight, that's exactly what I thought you would say." Rarity adopted a slower cadence as she spoke, letting her voice linger over key syllables with the melodious quality of a song. "You must understand that bravado is not the same as true confidence. We were all able to tell that Rainbow was nervous about the Best Young Flier Competition, were we not?"

"I guess so," Twilight answered.

"But she never told us as much." Twilight started to answer, but it soon became clear that Rarity never meant her words as a question. "That is precisely what I am talking about, Twilight. You must act reasonably confident, not to the point of excess. It was something of a challenge to bring Rainbow around, but I believe she was better for the effort when all was said and done."

I figured Rarity was just going to give me a new dress and push me out the door. Rainbow laughed at her own thoughts and lifted her gaze to the horizon. Probably wouldn't hurt to keep following her advice now, though. She managed to keep her head held high, but her shoulders slumped despite her best efforts. Just a habit now, I guess. Best to stay in practice.

The apple trees seemed to loom over Rainbow even though the sun hung high in the sky, bathing her in its warm glow. The trees themselves didn't bother her. It was Rainbow's memory that haunted her. I'm sorry, she thought as she blinked back tears. Sorry… for everything.

"Looking back, I might have been asking too much of the poor girl, but I told her to go straight back to Applejack and sort this all out in the open." Rarity sighed. "Normally I would have liked to practice a bit more… restraint… in such matters, but Rainbow made her decisions, and we needed to act accordingly."

"You mean 'she,'" Twilight interrupted.

Rarity's mouth hung open for a moment before she shook her head and laughed. "Of course not, dear," she insisted. "This was a collaborative effort. I stand by my advice to the fullest possible extent. We were going to make it through this minor crisis—Rainbow and I both.

"Unfortunately, Rainbow was less certain that I. She was terrified—the poor thing! On the other hoof, it was a blessing that Applejack didn't have those same fears."

She came for me. The fact shocked Rainbow Dash to this day. I ran off like a… like a coward, and she still came for me.

Rainbow Dash sighed.

A whole lot of good that did. So what if we kissed again? So what if she forgave me? So what if I wanted it so badly? "Only make promises you can keep." You were taught that as a filly. Why didn't you listen?

Tears welled up in Rainbow's eyes and she stopped her steady walk toward the Apple Family home. Can't afford to let her see me like this, she thought. Her wings unfurled as she glanced back at Ponyville, but she pulled them back against her sides. I've got to do this. I've got to—

She turned around, and her heart almost stopped. Standing there, watching the tears streak down her face, was Applejack.

"It was so adorable!" Rarity closed her eyes and squealed, beaming all the while. "They belonged together." Her smile disappeared. "At least, that's what I thought. You see, I thought that competitive spirit they shared would be a blessing—a way to add some spice to their relationship. I suppose, though—and you must forgive the metaphor, Twilight—but after a point, a dish stops being spicy and ends up just being painful to eat."

"I think that competitiveness is what scared her in the end. She got nervous again—it really is so strange. That devil-may-care attitude she has, it crumbles at the slightest disturbance. From what I can tell, she was feeling overwhelmed by it all." Rarity grasped at the empty air with a hoof. "She had such great ambitions—still does, in fact. Everypony has their limits, though. I suppose she was afraid of reaching hers."

Rarity shook her head. "I told her to talk with Applejack, but… well, good advice only works for as long as you follow it. Rainbow has always been so headstrong…" For a moment, words failed her, and Twilight leaned forward as Rarity grasped a the air with a hoof.

"She ran away," Rarity finally said. She shook her head and rubbed her chin. "Actually, I suppose 'flew away' would be a better way to describe it. Nonetheless, after her weather duty at Sweet Apple Acres was over, she stopped visiting Applejack. They'd been together for more than two months, and she didn't tell the poor darling a word. I don't know what got into her, but believe me, once I heard I gave her a stern talking to."

"What?" Twilight leaned forward and threw her hooves up. "You mean she just left Applejack? Why didn't I hear about this?"

"That's the thing." Rarity breathed in and blew out a long sigh. "Rainbow was afraid other ponies would find out about them, and… Let's just say she wasn't sure if she was ready for that. She loved Applejack as a friend, to be sure, and she still does, but that's a far cry from true romance. Sometimes, ponies just grow apart, and that's fine. Rainbow simply did not handle it well—nor did Applejack."

Rarity smirked despite herself before wiping the expression off her face. "I wouldn't say she was being overly dramatic, but Applejack surely was quite emotional when she found Rainbow Dash." Rarity clicked her tongue on the roof of her mouth and shook her head. "I wasn't there, but if Rainbow told me the truth, Applejack was terribly upset. Rainbow was scared half out of her wits when she got back to me."

Twilight crossed her forelegs and scowled. "I still can't believe you never told me about this, Rarity."

With a gasp, Rarity brought a hoof over her chest. "But darling, what could I do? Rainbow made me swear to secrecy, and I imagine Applejack would have been none too happy if I started gossiping about her love life.

"That being said… I guess there really isn't all that much more to tell." Rarity stroked her chin and pursed her lips, but she could only shrug in the end. "Rainbow managed to calm Applejack down somewhat, and she came to me as soon as they parted ways. She was so out of sorts, I thought somepony might have been hurt, but the worst had already passed at that point."

She lowered her head and sighed. "I spoke to Applejack not too long after they separated, and she was not pleased. To be honest, I'm surprised they're still on speaking terms, but I suppose time heals all wounds. What do you think, Twilight?"

Twilight stared slack-jawed at Rarity for a moment, and Rarity tilted her head. "Twilight? Darling?"

Shaking her head vigorously, Twilight stood and set her jaw. "I'm sorry, Rarity, but I have to go," she said.

She opened the door and started to walk out of the sauna, but Rarity held out a hoof and cried, "But Twilight, where are you going?"

Stopping in the doorway, Twilight turned her head and offered a small half-smile. "I need to talk to Applejack," she said, and without another word, she was gone.

"Back so soon, Rainbow?" Applejack reached to wipe a tear from Rainbow's cheek, but her friend pulled away and swatted the outstretched hoof away.

"What are you doing all the way out here?" Rainbow asked, rubbing her eyes. "I thought you'd be in your house."

"I'm just checking on the orchard." Applejack took a step forward, and this time, Rainbow didn't push away. "What's wrong, sugarcube?"

"Nothing." Rainbow finished wiping her eyes and looked Applejack in the eyes. "I was just wondering how your talk with Fluttershy went."

Applejack squeezed her eyes shut and drew her lips into a thin line. After a moment, she opened her eyes and shook her head. "Not so well, Rainbow. What am I going to do?"

Rainbow shrugged. "I don't know. How about you tell me what happened first?"

"She just won't see reason," Applejack huffed. "I'm trying to tell her that I won't go after Twilight, and all she can do is act like I'm doing something wrong." Crying out, she stomped her hooves on the barren dirt. "I'm doing all I can. Why can't she just accept it?"

Rainbow had to force herself not to roll her eyes. "Applejack, not to be harsh, but how is this even a problem?"

Applejack narrowed her eyes and took a step forward. "Hey, Rainbow! This isn't just about me. Besides, it's not like you haven't flubbed some easy decisions before."

As soon as she realized what she was saying, Applejack clamped a hoof over her mouth, but the damage was already done. Rainbow closed her eyes and flinched, but even then she couldn't prevent the tears from returning. "I'm sorry, okay?" Her voice was barely a whisper, and she turned away to hide her fresh tears, but Applejack refused to let her back down so easily.

"No, Rainbow," she said. "I'm the one who should be sorry. I didn't mean it, you got that?" She raised a hoof to place it on Rainbow's shoulder, but Rainbow shrugged it off and took a step away. "Look, I made my mistakes too. I just don't want to make another now."

Rainbow wiped her eyes and turned her head, keeping it low and her shoulders slouched. "Well, you know what I did wrong," she said. "Don't do that."

"I don't plan on it," Applejack said in reply to Rainbow's remark. "You made a big mistake; there's no denying that." She frowned and put her hoof back on Rainbow's shoulder. "Why didn't you just talk to me? All you needed to do was say something."

"I couldn't!" Rainbow fought to keep her voice from breaking, but the effort proved futile. "I—I still cared for you, but just not like that. You were so happy, and I was going to ruin all that, and—"

Applejack grabbed Rainbow's face and forced Rainbow to look her directly in the eyes. "I handled myself fine," she insisted. "I'm still here, aren't I? I know you're sorry, and I forgive you. Honest."

"You sure about that?" Rainbow wiped a tear from her face and chuckled. "That's not what it seemed like this morning."

"Well, you made another mistake this morning," Applejack laughed. "Besides, I might not have been in the greatest mood." Applejack shrugged. "Anyhow, I still might not be completely happy with what you did to me, but time moves on. It's time to let bygones be bygones."

Rainbow nodded. "Done is done."

Applejack chuckled and broke out in a grin. "I guess you could say that."

"I think we got a bit off track, though, AJ. You never admitted that you're being a drama queen."

"I am not being a drama queen, and what's it to you anyway?"

Rainbow shrank from Applejack's shouting, but she refused to back down entirely. "Applejack, you're my friend, and so are Fluttershy and Twilight. This means a whole lot to me, and I'm not going to let you mess up everything by acting all high and mighty."

"How am I being 'high and mighty?'" Applejack snorted and stomped a hoof. "I ain't the one telling other ponies what to do here."

"You think just running away from Twilight is going to solve anything?" Rainbow shot back. "This needs to be her choice, not yours. You've got to go for it. It'll be her choice either way, and that way nopony will feel like they didn't get a fair shake."

"But Fluttershy—"

"Fluttershy's strong," Rainbow cut in. "She might be stronger than all of us, really." She smiled and laughed softly. "It's actually kind of awesome. She'll take care of herself." Rainbow stepped forward and placed a hoof on Applejack's shoulder. "All you need to do is take care of yourself."

Tears welled up in Applejack's eyes, and she shook her head and grit her teeth. "Damn you," she hissed. "Why can't you all just let it go?"

"Because we care about you," Rainbow whispered. After a moment's hesitation, she took another step forward and wrapped her hooves around Applejack in a tentative hug. "There's a good chance somepony's getting hurt sooner or later, but I'll be a griffon if I let you hurt yourself."

The tears flowed freely now, but Applejack didn't care. As she pulled away from Rainbow, she smiled in spite of her tears and nodded. "I understand," she said. "Thanks, Rainbow."

Rainbow shrugged and flapped her wings, lifting her up into the air. "Don't thank me. It's your choice. Just make sure you don't mess this up."

Applejack laughed as Rainbow Dash waved and began to soar away. "Not a chance," she muttered in between chuckles.

"Not a chance."