• Published 30th Dec 2012
  • 2,008 Views, 115 Comments

Two Paths - Sir0Chicken



Twilight is faced with a choice: leave Ponyville to pursue her dreams or stay with her new marefriend, Applejack. Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash helps Fluttershy deal with the harsh realities of rejection.

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Where The Heart Is

After more than a few hours of work, it was finally done. The barn was gone. Brushing the dust off her coat, Rainbow leaped into the air and spread her wings as Applejack took a step back and smiled.

"Thanks for helping out with the barn, Rainbow," Applejack said, her voice scarcely louder than a whisper. A blush spread through her cheeks. "And thanks for, you know, talking."

Hovering a few feet off the group, Rainbow flapped her wings and snickered. "I'm not sure I did that much talking," she said, "but you're welcome. Sorry I made such a mess."

Applejack glanced at the pile of rubble that lied where a barn once stood. To both ponies' credit, they had set a few planks and other scrap pieces off to the side, but the rubble dwarf that scant collection. "No, it's no problem," Applejack said, keeping her gaze on the demolished barn. "I can clean all this up easy enough. Either way, I think I needed it."

"Yeah, and most of it was junk anyway." Rainbow flapped her wings again and lifted herself even higher into the air. "I've got to go, AJ. I promised Fluttershy I'd be back for dinner." She took a look at the horizon and the small sliver of sun that was quickly descending behind it. "Hope I'm not late," she added with a grimace.

Applejack might have responded, but Rainbow didn't hear it. As soon as she stopped speaking, she was off, watching the trees of Sweet Apple Acres zip past her as she picked up speed. Before long, she flew over the fence that marked the end of the orchard. From there, it was a matter of minutes before she reached Fluttershy's cottage.

Rainbow landed outside the cottage with a loud whoosh and a flap of her wings. She touched down with a smile on her face, but that smile disappeared when she heard a gasp from inside. I must've scared her half to death, she thought. Dang!

For a moment, Rainbow stood outside the cottage biting her lip as an ever widening hole opened in her gut. Thankfully, it wasn't long before Fluttershy came out. To Rainbow's surprise, she had a broad grin on her face and almost pranced to Rainbow's side.

"I wasn't sure if you'd make it back in time," Fluttershy said through her grin. "How were things at Applejack's?"

Rainbow felt her whole body go slack as she trotted into the cottage with Fluttershy at her side. "It was good, I guess." She rubbed the back of her neck. "Somehow got roped into tearing down a barn for her."

Fluttershy formed an "O" with her mouth and nodded. "I was wondering what took you so long." Rainbow started to enter the kitchen, but Fluttershy pointed to the dining room. "Dinner's on the table. I decided I'd go ahead and make some lentil soup."

"Oh." Rainbow's ears drooped for just a moment before perking back up. She quickly put a smile on her face, but the look on Fluttershy's face told her the effort was in vain.

"I'm sorry," Fluttershy said, shrinking away. "Would you like something else?"

"No," Rainbow almost shouted. She winced before stepping forward and reaching out a hoof to Fluttershy. "No, it's great. I'm just sort of…" Rainbow stopped and grimaced. "Sorry I couldn't help out or anything."

Fluttershy took a step closer to Rainbow and started to lean in before flinching back. "Don't worry, Rainbow Dash. You were helping Applejack. I may not be as strong and confident as she is, but I can take care of myself."

Rainbow held up her hooves. "I never said anything. It's just, talking with Applejack… It got me thinking."

Fluttershy nodded toward the dining room and nudged Rainbow along. "Maybe we can talk about it over dinner."

Rainbow chuckled and trotted over to the table, where she saw two steaming bowls of soup. "Sounds good," she said as she pulled Fluttershy's chair out. Once Fluttershy took her seat, Rainbow walked over to the other side of the table and sat down.

Fluttershy forced a smile and tilted her head. "So what were you thinking about, Rainbow Dash."

"Well…" Rainbow paused as she considered her words. She scratched her chin and left her eyes drift toward the ceiling. "Well, I guess it started when I was helping AJ out with her barn. She was sort of bummed out 'cause Twilight was going to help her out with it." She shrugged. "If I were Twilight, I'd be pretty stoked that somepony else did the job instead."

Fluttershy swallowed a small spoonful of soup and glanced out a window. "Sometimes, if you really care for somepony, you can bond over anything." A blush began to blossom across her cheeks. "My mom said that true love is spending the day cleaning the house with your special somepony and knowing you couldn't want anything more."

Rainbow smirked. "Is your mom always that sappy?" She saw Fluttershy wilt and leaning forward, reaching out a hoof. "I didn't mean it like that. It makes sense. Doing stuff together is cool and all, but do you get what I'm saying."

Fluttershy opened her mouth for a few seconds, but after a moment she stuck another mouthful of soup in it and remained quiet.

With a chuckle, Rainbow picked up her own spoon. "I'm just saying that sometimes you want to do something special for your special somepony. You know, like it says in the name." She tasted the soup with a smack of her lips. "This soup's awesome, by the way."

Fluttershy blushed once more. "Thank you," she mumbled. "I know what you're saying." She paused and furrowed her brow. "I don't understand what this has to do with Applejack, though."

"I…" Rainbow glanced about and scrunched up her nose. "Yeah it does. I mean…" She drew her lips into a thin line and hesitated. After a second, she leaned forward and said, "It's 'cause AJ was going to make Twilight help. She thought it'd be good for bonding and all that, but sometimes you've got to do things yourself. You can't just let your marefriend do the work."

Fluttershy blinked repeatedly, and Rainbow realized that she had leaned much closer to Fluttershy than she'd intended. She recoiled with sudden, jerky movements and coughed. "You know, or your coltfriend, I guess."

Both ponies returned to their eating for a while. Every so often, their spoons would clang against their bowls, but a general silence reigned over the table. A few times, the two locked eyes and smiled, but they quickly looked away and returned to their meal.

At last, Fluttershy ventured to speak. "I saw some ponies setting up clouds around the town today," she said. "Is there going to be a storm soon?"

"Yeah," Rainbow said. "Orders from up top. We've gone too long without a good rain, so I had to schedule one by the end of the week." She glanced outside. "It should be starting up soon."

Fluttershy smiled. "I guess we'll have to start up a fire this evening, then."

Rainbow grinned right back. "I guess we will."

Once Fluttershy had finished her soup, she stood and reached Rainbow's empty bowl. Before she could grab the bowl, Rainbow snatched it in her hooves and nodded toward Fluttershy's bowl. "I can get that," she said.

Fluttershy hesitated but, after a moment, she hoofed the bowl over. "Thank you."

The two ponies entered the kitchen, where Rainbow headed directly for the sink. Dumping both bowls in, she turned on the faucet and glanced around the counters. "Where's the sponge, Fluttershy?" she asked.

"Second drawer on the left," Fluttershy replied. She noticed an empty bird feeder hanging outside the kitchen window and walked over to a bag of birdseed. She reached in and produced a cup full of the seed and trotted over to fill the feeder. "Would you mind grabbing some firewood when you're done washing those?" she asked after she had poured in the birdseed.

"Sure." Rainbow soaked the sponge in water and began to scrub the bowls. "Behind the cottage, right?"

"That's it." Fluttershy nodded and put the cup back with the birdseed. She flashed a grin at Rainbow and walked into the living room, where she sat on her favorite wicker chair. Within a matter of minutes, Rainbow joined her, three fire logs balanced on her back.

"That was awful fast," Fluttershy commented. She raised an eyebrow, which only elicited a roll of the eyes from Rainbow.

"The bowls are washed, I swear," Rainbow insisted. "You can check for yourself if you want."

Fluttershy smiled and grabbed a log from Rainbow's back. "I'll trust you," she said as she placed the log on the fireplace. She did the same with the other two logs, and once she'd carefully stacked them together, she trotted into the kitchen once more.

"Aren't you going to start the fire?" Rainbow asked, searching the mantle for a tinderbox. "How are you going to start it anyway?"

"Just a second, Rainbow Dash," Fluttershy called from the kitchen. Rainbow could hear a drawer close, and just after that Fluttershy returned holding a shimmering orange feather.

Rainbow's eyes grew wide. "Is that what I think it is?" she asked.

"It's a phoenix feather." Fluttershy nodded, a wide grin on her face. Celestia gave it to me the last time we were in Canterlot. That way I can always remember little Philomena."

Rainbow snorted. "I don't know what bird you're talking about, but that Philomena wasn't little."

"Well, either way this will start the fire." Fluttershy trotted over to the fireplace. "All I have to do is…" She dropped it onto the wood and it burst into flame. "There we go." Grabbing a blanket hanging from her couch, she sidled up to Rainbow. "Wasn't that nice of the princess?"

Rainbow leaned into Fluttershy and beamed. "I guess that is kind of cool." She closed her eyes and let her head rest on Fluttershy's shoulder. "Fluttershy?" she said.

"Yes, Rainbow Dash," Fluttershy replied.

"This is cool, too."

Fluttershy nodded. "I… I'm glad you here."

"Yeah." Rainbow's smile grew wider. "Me too."



The beaming smile that Shining Armor left on Twilight's face lasted for a while, as far as smiles go. By the next morning, some echo of it might have remained, but the gloomy skies over Canterlot did their best to smother its dying embers. Clouds blanketed the sky, and every one of them was some dull shade of grey that had no business hanging over the glistening capital of Equestria.

Twilight was checking out of her hotel when the rain first started. It was light at first, barely a drizzle, but it picked up. Oh, how it picked up.

Twilight felt absolutely silly using a forcefield spell to block the rain on her way to the station. The curious glances she got from other ponies did nothing to improve her mood. Note to self: Research umbrella spells.

Awkwardness notwithstanding, Twilight found her train without incident. To be sure, the Canterlot Train Station was a labyrinth of intersecting railways and shifting lines, but the municipal planners had done their jobs well. All she had to do was follow the signs, show the conductor her ticket, an hop aboard.

When she finally got her luggage tucked away and found her cabin, Twilight breathed a deep sigh. She was out of the city, out of the rain, and on her way home. A grin began to spread across her face, but when she glanced out the window, she stopped. The sky was still dark and grey.

After a long while, the train finally began to roll along the tracks. With a loud whine, the locomotive announced its departure, leaving Canterlot behind in a matter of minutes. Twilight, for her part, drifted off to sleep.

When Twilight next opened her eyes, she was greeted by a considerable amount of light. An uncomfortable amount of light, as a matter of fact. Taking a few seconds to let her eyes adjust to the brightness, she finally looked out the window and saw the sun. The sun and the bright blue sky. The clouds were gone, long gone, Twilight noted with a smile. As Twilight looked ahead, that grin grew wider. Out toward the horizon, she could see Ponyville. She could see home.

This is so exciting! I'll have to go see Applejack this afternoon—oh, maybe it already is afternoon—and… Her thoughts trailed off as her smile fell and her ears went flat. What will I even say to Applejack? I didn't resolve anything! I mean, I guess I know I can spend some time in Ponyville, but… A pit opened in her chest. What am I going to do?

Twilight felt that horrid emptiness in her chest for the rest of the ride. The train's whistle didn't drown it out, and it didn't disappear when the train stopped at Ponyville Junction. As the wheels screeched against the tracks, Twilight took a deep breath and went to grab her luggage. When the train came to a full stop, she pulled it out of the luggage compartment and walked to the exit. She down the steps at the edge of the car—one, two, three—and took the final step down to the platform.

She was home.

The sun shone bright and the air smelled of a fresh rainfall. The birds were out and about, chirping loud enough to drift even over the noise of the train station. Still, Twilight didn't smile, at least not at first. That changed not long after she left the train. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a flash of orange. Before she could react, she was struck from the side as two strong hooves wrapped around her. She stumbled and turned her head to see the brown Stetson, the orange coat. It was Applejack.

Twilight gasped and twisted about until she could hug Applejack back. "Applejack! What are you doing here?" she asked, burying her face in her marefriend's shoulder.

"I figured you'd be a tad homesick once you got back and wanted to give you the ol' Apple Family welcome." Applejack rocked Twilight from side to side for a moment before pulling away. "Well, not the real Apple Family welcome," she added with a chuckle. "I guess it's just me."

"I wouldn't want it any other way," Twilight said, pulling Applejack back in for another hug. "This is such a wonderful surprise. How did you know what train I'd come in on?"

"That was the easy part. I just stopped by the library and asked Spike."

Twilight raised an eyebrow. "And the hard part?"

Applejack laughed. "There wasn't one. All I had to do was get here on time."

"So it was inevitable," Twilight said with a laugh. She picked up her luggage and began to walk away from the train with Applejack. "Did you do anything interesting while I was gone?"

Applejack stopped and rubbed the back of her neck. "Uh, yeah. Kind of."

Twilight's smile faltered as she stopped a few feet in front of her marefriend. "What's wrong, Applejack?"

"Rainbow came by the other day and we… We sort of…" Applejack bit her lip.

The breath caught in Twilight's throat. "Go on," she insisted, nodding vigorously.

Applejack grit her teeth and finally said it. "We took down the barn without you."

The two ponies were silent for a moment, Applejack hanging her head in shame. Finally, Twilight began to giggle. The giggles grew to laughter, and before long, Twilight was guffawing loudly and clapping a hoof on Applejack shoulder. "Applejack, silly, that's great," she said, planting a kiss on her marefriend's cheek.

"Really?" Applejack blushed and tilted her head.

"Of course it is." Twilight picked up her luggage and resumed walking off the platform. "Why wouldn't it be? I'm surprised you didn't take care of that years ago."

"But…" Applejack closed her eyes and shook her head. "We were going to work on it together." She opened her eyes and glanced at Twilight. "So you're not upset you didn't get to help."

"Are you upset that I didn't help?" Twilight tilted her head.

Applejack smirked. "Well, I guess not." She followed Twilight off the platform as the two began to make their way through Ponyville. "I could take you there if you like, show you how it looks."

Twilight nodded. "I've got to drop my bag off at the library first. You mean now, right?"

Applejack sped up to a trot and nodded. "Course. If you have the time, I mean."

Twilight leaned into Applejack's shoulder. "For you, Applejack, I have all the time in the world."



When Rainbow opened her eyes in the morning, Fluttershy was gone. She blinked a few times, but every time her eyes reopened, they opened to an empty half of the bed.

Brow furrowed, Rainbow began to get up, but just as she rolled toward the edge of the bed, the bedroom door swung open. In walked Fluttershy balancing a tray of food on her back.

As Rainbow propped herself up against the headboard of the bed, Fluttershy made her way to the side of the bed and began to slide the tray onto Rainbow's lap. "I made you breakfast," she said, pointing out the slices of toast and scrambled eggs on the tray.

Rainbow grimaced and glanced at the food before looking up at Fluttershy. "Thanks, Fluttershy," she said before blowing out a sigh.

"Is something wrong?" Fluttershy furrowed her brow and began to scrutinize the meal.

Rainbow held up a hoof and shook her head. "No," she said. "No. It looks awesome. It's… Thanks." She patted the bed and said, "You gonna sit here with me or do I have to eat this on my own?"

Fluttershy tentatively got into bed with Rainbow, eyeing their breakfast all the while. "Are you sure there's enough for us to share?"

"What are you talking about?" Rainbow her up her hooves and shrugged. "You made it, after all."

Fluttershy glanced away. "It's just that… I mean, I could make my own breakfast if you think you'll eat all of this. It was for you, really."

Rainbow glanced at the tray and noticed only one set of silverware. "Well as long as you don't mind sharing a fork, I say we share. Either that, or I'm cooking your breakfast."

Fluttershy gave a thin smile and shook her head. "No, no, thank you, Rainbow Dash," she said, perhaps a bit faster than Rainbow would have liked.

After that, the two ate in silence for a short while, taking turns as they split the eggs. Finally, as Rainbow shoved another mouthful of toast into her mouth, Fluttershy asked, "Are you going to work today?"

Still chewing, Rainbow nodded. After a deep swallow, she said, "I've got to check up with the team, make sure the rainstorm went as plan. By the way," she added, checking out the window, "do you know what time it is?"

"Sometime around 9," Fluttershy answered. "Why? Are you late?"

Rainbow rolled her eyes and snickered. "They don't expect me till noon most days." A mischievous gleam flashed across her eyes. "I should get out there early today. Keep them on their toes."

Fluttershy covered her mouth and giggled. "Those poor pegasi!"

Rainbow shook her head and straightened herself. "No, it'll be totally hilarious!" She shifted around under the sheets and picked up the nearly empty tray. "Uh, do you mind if I go now?"

Fluttershy's face fell. "Are you sure?"

Rainbow put the tray back down on her lap and twiddled her hooves. "I mean, I don't need to or anything. Like, I can help you out with the animals, or—"

"No." Fluttershy picked up the tray and stood up. "It's okay, Rainbow Dash. You have your job, and that comes first." Once the tray was nicely balanced on her back, she offered up a smile.

"That's not… I just…" Rainbow bit her lip as her brow creased deeply. "I'll wrap up work early," she said at last. "Are you going to stick around here?"

Fluttershy nodded. "I'll just tend to the animals till you get back." She shifted the tray on her back. "After I clean these, of course."

With a grimace, Rainbow nodded and got up. "Thanks for that again," she said as she followed Fluttershy out of the bedroom.

"You're welcome," Fluttershy replied, making her way to the kitchen sink.

Rainbow shot right past her toward the front door. "No, but I'm serious," she said. "I'll get you back for that. I'll do…" She waved a hoof around indistinctly. "I'll do something, I guess."

Fluttershy giggled. "It's fine, Dashie," she said as she turned on the faucet. "Just have fun at work."

"I will." Opening the front door, Rainbow trotted off and opened her wings. As the door to Fluttershy's cottage swung closed, Rainbow flapped her wings and lifted off, dashing off to the skies above Ponyville.



Twilight was stunned. Her jaw hung open and her eyes were wide, and Applejack watched with a chuckle and a smirk. Out in the fields of Sweet Apple Acres, where once stood a rotting old barn, there was now nothing.

Well, perhaps nothing was a bit of an overstatement. Some few bits of debris still cluttered up the area, and the musky odor from the barn certainly remained, but the building itself was gone. Twilight turned to Applejack and gave her marefriend a hug.

"You really did it," she said. She sniffed the air and crinkled her nose. "It's still a bit smelly, though."

Applejack laughed and patted Twilight on the back. "Well it's only been gone for about a day," she said. "Besides, you didn't gag or cough or anything. I call that progress."

Twilight nodded, still crinkling her nose. "I guess you could call it that," she mumbled as she walked onto the bare dirt that had once housed the barn. "Even the dirt floor looks cleaner when you get it out of that wreck."

Rolling her eyes, Applejack trotted up to join Twilight. "Oh, now you're just making things up."

Twilight shook her head. "It does. For one thing, the sun is finally shining on it, and the fresh air is surely doing wonders for the soil."

"You been reading books on farming, Twi?" Applejack asked as she arched an eyebrow.

Twilight averted her gaze and blushed. "Maybe," she said before breaking out into giggles. She trotted to Applejack's side and rested her head on her marefriend's shoulder. "Either way, it looks beautiful now." She pulled away and faced Applejack directly. "Thank you."

Applejack smiled and gave Twilight a hug. "Anything for you, sugarcube."

Once the hug ended, Twilight glanced away and began to trot away. "It really is great, but can we walk somewhere else?" she asked. "I think this place still needs a few days to air out."

With a laugh, Applejack cantered along in pursuit. "Sure thing. But wait for me." Both ponies laughed as Twilight picked up her pace, and before long they were both galloping and giggling through the apple orchards.



Rainbow left work early with a broad grin on her face that came as soon as she found her weather team and stayed until well after her departure. She'd been right. They never expected her to show up so early, and sneaking up on them hours before noon had been more satisfying than even Rainbow could have anticipated.

Needless to say, Rainbow's arrival gave her subordinates a jolt of energy, and it didn't hurt that Rainbow herself was working at full throttle. When the team finished cleaning up from last night's storm, the sun still hung high in the sky. A black-coated pegasus with a sky blue mane flew over to Rainbow and cleared his throat

"What is it, Thunderlane?" she asked after busting one last cloud.

"Is there anything else to do today, boss?" he asked, glancing around the sky.

Rainbow joined him and looking about, then shrugged. "Well, Cloudsdale called for sunny skies this afternoon, and I can't see a cloud in the sky." She winked. "Guess we can head home early."

Thunderlane shook his head and blinked. "Really?"

"Sure," Rainbow said, holding up her hooves. "If anything comes up, I'll handle it." She turned to her nearby coworkers and cleared her throat. "You hear that, guys? Shift's over."

With a smattering of cheers, the ponies flew away in different directions, leaving Rainbow slowly soaring through the sky. Her smile still clung to her face, but as she began to may her way toward Fluttershy's cottage her pace slowed and her smile faded.

She's probably going to insist on making dinner again, Rainbow thought, and though the notion made her mouth water, her ears still drooped low. She blew out a sigh and floated down to earth.

When she touched down, she snorted and threw her head back. What am I getting all bent out of shape about? She's just being nice. It's awesome really. Rainbow tried to smile, but the expression quickly fell away. I've got to do something for her.

She glanced to Ponyville, then to the sun. The market's probably open, she thought, turning away from the Everfree Forest and toward the town. Before she got far, though, a shadow passed over her. She glanced up, wondering who would be flying so far from Ponyville, when she saw it: A cloud.

With a loud whoosh, she zoomed into the air until she was level with the cloud. Turning about, she turned to give the cloud a firm kick, but before she could follow through another idea struck her.

Flapping her wings as delicately as she could manage, she turned back around and poked the cloud with her hooves. It squished a little with her touch, but it reformed as soon as she pulled back. Seems firm, she thought. Glancing around to check if anypony was around, she flopping onto her back and landed on the cloud. She let out a soft moan. Nice…

Still grinning, Rainbow rolled over and wrapped her hooves around the cloud. After a moment, she found Fluttershy's cottage against the backdrop of the Everfree Forest and began flapping her wings. She quickly picked up speed, and before long she and her new cloud were at Fluttershy's doorstep.

From around the back of the cottage, Fluttershy trotted up with a wide smile. "Hello, Rainbow Dash. I…" She saw the cloud and tilted her head. "What's this?" she asked.

"I've got the best idea ever!" Rainbow said, flying into the air and spreading her hooves wide. She zipped down to Fluttershy's side. Fluttershy jumped, but she didn't move far as Rainbow grabbed her with one hoof and pointed at her with the other. "You, me, cloud bed," Rainbow said, her eyes gleaming as she did so. "Doesn't that sound awesome?"

For a moment, Rainbow's grip relaxed, and Fluttershy took the moment to pull away. She glanced nervously at the cloud a few times as she said, "Well, I don't know Dashie. I haven't used a cloud bed since… Well, it's been a long time."

Rainbow threw up her hooves. "Well then of course we've got to get this thing set up! You probably forgot how awesome these things can be." A lopsided grin covered her face, but Fluttershy only gave her a small smile in response.

Rainbow lowered her head and her hooves, folding her wings to her sides. "Could we just try for tonight?" she asked, looking up at Fluttershy with shimmering eyes.

Fluttershy paused before stepping forward and nuzzling Rainbow in the cheek. "I guess so," she said. She nodded at the cloud. "You'll have to set it up, though."

Rainbow grinned and saluted Fluttershy. "That was the plan."

As Fluttershy began to walk around the house again, she glanced back at Rainbow and added, "Oh, and you'll have to move the old bed, too." Rainbow's flank fell to the ground as Fluttershy continued. "You can put the mattress in the closet and put the cloud in the frame. Have fun!"

With that, Fluttershy rounded the side of her house, humming an airy tune.

Rainbow, for her part, stood and yelled, "I was going to do that anyway."

After a moment, Fluttershy's head poked back around the side of the house and she said, "No you weren't, but thanks for doing it now." Without another word, she rushed away to her animals.

Exhaling out of the corner of her mouth, Rainbow tapped her hoof and looked to her cloud. "Well, I guess I'll need to get you inside somehow."

The cloud made no response.



As the sun began to set on Sweet Apple Acres, Twilight and Applejack were still meandering through the orchard, albeit at a much slower pace than before. The two ponies leaned into each other as they walked, moving in silence as one.

Finally, the Apple Family home came into view, lights on as the sound of clanging plates and silverware drifted toward Twilight and Applejack. As they approached the building, Twilight nuzzled Applejack's shoulder.

"This has been such a wonderful day," Twilight said. "It's almost made me completely forget about how nervous I was with the princesses yesterday."

Applejack stopped and stood stock still for a moment. When Twilight turned around, Applejack rushed toward her and put her front hooves and Twilight's shoulders. After a moment, she began to speak.

"I… I know you've got one hay of an opportunity out there in Canterlot," she managed. "I know it's what you've always dreamed of and… Well, I won't stop you." She pulled Twilight in for a hug and buried her face in Twilight's chest. "

"Applejack, what's wrong?" Twilight hugged Applejack back and began to rock her gently back and forth.

"You took the job," Applejack said. "You must have. That's why you haven't said anything, isn't it?" She sniffled and picked her head up. Looking Twilight in the eyes, she said, "You can tell me. Be honest."

Twilight shook her head. "I didn't make any final decisions, Applejack, but I'm not just leaving for Canterlot," she said. "Even if I take the job, I want to be here with you, with our friends. I need Ponyville, but I especially need you."

Applejack blinked a few times and chuckled. "You mean it? You told them that?"

Without answer, Twilight leaned forward and planted a kiss on Applejack's lips. Applejack's eyes went wide at first, but they fluttered and closed as the kiss lingered. Their lips remained locked for a few moments, and when they pulled away, they did so with broad smiles on their faces.

Applejack opened her mouth, but all that came out was a strangled laugh. "I never quite get used to that," she finally managed.

"I hope I never do." Twilight kissed Applejack again, and her eyes shone against the sunset as she pulled away. "I'm sorry I can't give a full answer. I promise that whatever decision I end up making, you'll be the first thing on my mind.

"It's okay," Applejack said, pulling Twilight back into a tight embrace.

Twilight buried her face in Applejack's shoulder. As they both rocked slowly back and forth, she said, "I know. It's all okay. More than okay."

Twilight paused, then gave Applejack another kiss.

"I love you, Applejack."

"I love you, too, sugarcube."



Late in the evening, Rainbow and Fluttershy finished their dinner and cleared their plates to the kitchen. Before Rainbow could reach the sink, Fluttershy snatched her plate and turned on the faucet, smiling and humming all the while.

"I can clean those," Rainbow commented, but Fluttershy kept humming. "It was just salad," Rainbow continued. "It'll be easy."

The smile never left Fluttershy's face as she said, "Don't worry, Rainbow Dash. You showed me how good you are at cleaning yesterday."

Rainbow scoffed. "I cleaned those soup bowls in ten seconds flat," she said.

"Exactly," Fluttershy replied without missing a beat.

Rainbow opened her mouth, then clamped it firmly shut. She walked in a circle for a moment and said, "Well, you'll like the cloud bed, at least. It's going to be so awesome!"

Fluttershy nodded, not turning her attention from the dishes. "We'll see."

Rainbow thrust a hoof forward and grinned. "Yeah, we'll see. You'll see how awesome it is, and you'll be like, 'Oh, Rainbow Dash, you were so totally right and awesome.'" Seeing Fluttershy roll her eyes, Rainbow added, "True story."

Fluttershy scrubbed the last few bits of food off the dishes and turned off the faucet. Lifting one dish for Rainbow to see, she said, "Look at how clean this is." The dish sparkled in the light of the setting sun. "Isn't it just amazing?"

Rainbow smirked and poked Fluttershy in the side. "When'd snarky Fluttershy get here?" she asked, poking Fluttershy again and drawing out a high-pitched squeal.

Stifling her giggles, Fluttershy lowered her head and said, "I'm sorry. I can stop being snarky if you want."

Rainbow pulled Fluttershy closer, shaking her head vigorously. "Of course, not, Fluttershy. This is awesome. I like you this way."

A blush spread across Fluttershy's face as she put the plate back into the sink. "I can dry those off in the morning," she murmured, still in Rainbow's hooves. "It's getting dark."

Rainbow's lopsided grin grew wider. "I know a certain cloud bed we could go to." She swept a hoof toward the bedroom. "Shall we?"

With a giggle, Fluttershy nodded. "Yes."

As the two ponies trotted into the bedroom, Fluttershy's eyes grew wide. "I knew this was supposed to be a cloud bed," she said, "but cloud blankets?"

Rainbow patted the side of the bed and pulled back the blankets she had made just hours earlier. "Isn't it cool?" she asked. "A friend from Cloudsdale taught me how to make them. I figured if I'm making you a cloud bed, it ought to be top of the line."

Fluttershy wrapped Rainbow in a warm hug. "That's very thoughtful of you," she said. "Do you want to get in first, or…?"

Rainbow nudged Fluttershy forward. "It's your bed. You try it first," she said.

Smiling softly, Fluttershy shook her head even as she slipped into bed. "It's really ours," she said as she settled under the covers. "I mean, if you want to keep staying over."

Rainbow's wings flew open, and she chuckled as she folded them back against her sides. "Yeah, that'd be cool." She walked to the side of the bed. "Now make some room for me," she added. "Scoot over."

Fluttershy willingly obliged, letting out a soft purr. "It's so soft," she said. "And… fluffy."

Rainbow got into bed next to her and grinned. "I told you you'd like it." She closed her eyes nuzzled Fluttershy's neck, eliciting a giggle. Rainbow was practically beaming when she rolled over and draped a hoof over Fluttershy's chest.

"Rainbow Dash?" Fluttershy said, lifting her head from her pillow.

"Yeah, Fluttershy?" Rainbow moved a bit closer to Fluttershy but kept her eyes closed.

Fluttershy ran a hoof through Rainbow's mane. "This is the nicest thing anypony has ever done for me."

Finally, Rainbow lifted her head and opened her eyes. "Well, you deserve it," she said, blushing just a little. Her blush grew deeper as she fixed her gaze on Fluttershy's face. "You're… You're pretty awesome, Fluttershy."

Fluttershy leaned down and gave Rainbow a kiss on the forehead. "You're the most wonderful mare I've ever met," she replied.

Mouth hanging open in a dumb grin, Rainbow nestled her head in Fluttershy's long soft mane. "Cool," she said as she closed her eyes, letting her thoughts drift away in a sea of yellow and pink.

Author's Note:

This chapter marks my longest yet by far. Consider that an apology for taking so long. Thankfully, this is my last week of school, so I should be able to do quite a bit of writing once summer arrives. As always, feedback is appreciated.

And yes, I made a "ten seconds flat" joke. I guess that makes this story *puts on sunglasses* twenty percent cooler.

I know. I'll go sit in the corner now…

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Comments ( 18 )

"You here that, guys? Shift's over."

hear

c:

Ohmigoodness, Rainbow and Fluttershy are being so goddamned cute I just wanna snap their little legs off and roast them.

Seriously, this was so sweet.

Applejack laughed and patted Twilight on the back. "Well it's only been gone for about a day," she said. "Besides, you didn't gag or cough or anything. I call that process."

Should it be progress instead of process?

I'm happy to see Twilight and Applejack working out their issues with one another calmly by talking and not through a lot of emotional subtexting.

2512296 Eeexactly.

their interactions and not-quite relationship make my heart melt a little bit, and I was hungry?
..........
I dunno, man. I really, really don't. *le sigh.*:ajsleepy:

My thought's on this chapter.

2513061
2513215
Thanks! :pinkiehappy: I really liked writing it, so I'm glad the enjoyment showed through on the other end.

When you said that Rainbow threw her hooves up at some point in the chapter, you said his instead of her. I just thought I'd let you know.
Great chapter, by the way.

2553116
*Sigh* I knew I did it somewhere. I just couldn't find it. Thanks! :twilightsmile:

2557494
Ha, no problem. Love the story, by the way.

when can we expect an update?

2930290
This Tuesday marks the end of my super-busy vacationy phase of the summer. I'll get another chapter up soon after that. Sorry for the long wait! :pinkiesad2:

2946635

Chhhhiiiickeeeen!

Where's the update...? You weren't lying to me, were you...? :fluttercry:

Naaaw, everything seems to be working out for them.

That was awesome :twilightsmile: That was the cutest chapters that I binge read in a long time. :twilightblush: I do hopethat your Hiatus will be done soon cause it is a crime to let this story unfinished :raritycry: I WANT MOAR SOON :flutterrage: If that is alright with you :fluttershyouch:

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