Under the Hat

by Tyro

First published

Applejack always wears a hat. Always. But it can't be because her hat is special to her, not if she has a whole closet of of them. So why does she always, always, always wear a hat? Rainbow Dash is determined to get to the bottom of it...

Rainbow has been enjoying her new found relationship with Applejack for some time now. But when she accidentally wrecks all of the hats in A.J's closet, she comes to a realisation.

She's almost never seen Applejack without a hat on.

She doesn't know why, but make no mistake, she will before long...

My entry for "The Fourth AppleDash Contest: A Little Twist of Lemon"
Chosen categories are:
Deepest Darkest Secret
Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter Hats

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"What did you do?"

Rainbow grinned sheepishly, standing amidst the carnage like a deer caught in headlights as Applejack surmised the destruction that lay before her. Rainbow guessed that A.J was not amused by her attempts at spring cleaning. In a moment of pure genius and inspiration, she had concocted her own all-purpose cleaning spray, made from various cleaning fluids from around the kitchen. Naturally she had decided to test it on everything she could find and, being the attentive, considerate marefriend that she was had remembered A.J mentioning that the spare hats and bows closet was in need of cleaning. Obviously it would make for a perfect test subject.

Unfortunately when she had been mixing the chemicals together, she had not been entirely paying attention and might have accidentally used peanut butter as her base instead of sugar soap.

The results had...not been pretty.

Deciding what Applejack needed was a nice big apology hug, Rainbow moved towards her, (deftly stepping over the mush that had once been a particularly nice bullrider) and prepared her embrace. To her surprise, A.J instantly backed away, turned and left the hallway as fast as possible.

Applejack and Rainbow were perhaps not the most mature of couples. Between Rainbow's...exuberant ideas and Applejack's quick temper, disagreements between the two had a habit of escalating into full blown arguments and shouting matches. Eventually things would die down or blow over and the two would make up. Those who knew them often paid no attention, saying that this was just how the two got things "out of their system". No matter how angry they got, nothing ever went too far and they were both thick skinned enough to take it.

So Applejack's hasty departure caught Rainbow off guard. She had been expecting a blow up and A.J had just left her hanging. She was almost disappointed...

The afternoon passed with little event. Rainbow had finally managed to clean up the damage. The hats were unsalvageable and the wardrobe still smelled like bleach and peanut butter, but at least the hallway looked more or less presentable. She hadn't seen any sign of Applejack since earlier, but with dinner approaching she knew A.J would appear before long. She had never missed a meal before and Rainbow doubted she would now.

Dash was seated at the table along with Applejack's family. Ever since the relationship had grown more serious, they had welcomed her into the family farm gladly. She had always been happy to be a part of the group, although she did wish Granny Smith would stop dropping hints about marriage. It had only been a few months...

Rainbow was helping Big Mac serve up the stew when Applejack finally entered the room. Rainbow looked up, intending to offer any last apologies if needed. But the words died in her throat when she saw what A.J was wearing.

She was wearing a bright red neckerchief that she sometimes wore when the sun was particularly hot. Rainbow had seen A.J wear it a dozen times and nothing about it was out of the ordinary. She rather liked it actually. She always thought it made A.J look kinda hot, just the sort of thing Daring Do might wear.

But what caught her attention today was not that A.J was wearing it. It was how A.J was wearing it. Instead of tying it around her neck, she instead had it on top of her head like a bandana.

Rainbow couldn't decide if she looked more like a pirate or a street thug.

As Applejack took a seat, Rainbow was stunned to notice that nobody else around the table seemed to be commenting on her odd choice of head wear. They were just passing around potatoes and gravy like everything was completely normal. This wasn't right. Maybe they had known Applejack for longer, but Rainbow had still known her for several years. And not once in that time had she ever worn something so...well, un-Applejack. This couldn't stand, something had to be said.

"So," she began, "hard to starboard? Get of the squall? Shore up the main sail?"

She giggled to herself, waiting for everypony to join in with her pirate themed jokes (the latest Daring Do book had had a major pirate theme). Then she realised that everypony was looking at her like she had lost her mind. She seemed to get that look from this family a lot.

"Um, what're you talkin' about Rainbow?" Applebloom asked in her innocently wide-eyed way.

"Oh come on, I can't be the only once noticing this!" Rainbow stood up and pointed at the bandana. "Seriously, did Nightmare Night come early?"

Part of her was expecting Applejack to get angry at her comments, as she so often did. But again A.J surprised her.

"I just needed somethin' to protect my head from the sun. Since somepony wrecked all my usual hats."

Rainbow would have commented on the snarky comeback, but she was distracted by something she saw in the window. Or rather, what she didn't see.

There was no sun outside. It was a completely overcast day. Applejack saw her looking through the window and just as she opened her mouth to comment, A.J stood up from the table and left the room. Moments later, they heard the front door open and close.

The atmosphere left behind was...tense. Rainbow could feel everypony looking at her like this was all her fault somehow. She especially couldn't help noticing Granny Smith's piercing stare. For such a kindly old mare, she could give someone the evil eye when she wanted to.

"Okay, maybe I was kind of out of line there," Rainbow tried another of her nervous grins, "but am I missing something? Applejack never wears anything like that! She always wears a hat!"

"Well she mentioned that you wrecked her hats." Mac causally spooned some more potatoes onto his plate, but there was a hint of a protective tone in his voice.

"Well yeah, but if she didn't have her hats, why wear something else? Why not just go without?"

Mac just shrugged. As did Granny Smith and Applebloom. Now that she thought about it, Rainbow had almost never seen Applejack without some kind of head gear on. And now that she really thought about it, a question came to her.


Quirks and Secrets

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She could see her prey through the leaves of the bush. She licked her lips greedily and bounced on her hooves in excitement. Her quarry would soon be within her grasp.

As Applejack paused from mending the fence to wipe her brow, Rainbow seized her opportunity. Her muscles tensed and with a primal roar (that may or may not have come out as more of a screech), she pounced.


Stars burst in Rainbow's vision as she clutched her head in agony. Applejack had ducked at the last second and Rainbow had sailed merrily past her straight into a fence post. She rolled onto her back and looked up at Applejack, who was now standing over her, that red bandana still firmly tied around the cowgirl's head. Mockingly.

"You mind tellin' me what you're up to there?" Applejack's eyebrow was arched as always. Rainbow decided it was time for plausible deniability.

"Oh y'know. Just wanted to say hey." Rainbow coughed." So...hey."

"Any reason why you're wearin' eyeliner on your cheeks?"

"What, a mare can't like feelling a little prettier once in a while?" Rainbow quickly scrubbed the camouflage makeup from her face and stood up. Somehow, Applejack's eyebrow rose even higher. Rainbow sometimes wondered if it would ever come down.

"Okay, well while you're playin' dress up, I gotta get on with this." Applejack turned back to her tools while Rainbow seethed. "We'll hang out later, but right now I-" Applejack stopped talking for a moment in order to sidestep Rainbow's second leaping grab at the bandana, "but right now I got a lotta work to do. Why don'tcha go and see one o' the girls?"

Rainbow sat down and folded her forelegs grumpily as Applejack gathered her things and moved on. It didn't make sense. Why was Applejack so weirdly obsessed with wearing hats? And how did she always seem to know when Rainbow was about to make a grab for one? She couldn't possibly have seen Dash coming, they didn't call her 'Rainbow Stealth Operative Dash' for nothing!

She perked up suddenly when she remembered A.J's advice to hang out with one of the others. Twilight! Twilight would be able to think of a sneaky way to remove Applejack's bandana! It was the only way that made sense! It wasn't like she could just ask Applejack why she always wore a hat.

"Couldn't you just ask Applejack why she always wears a hat?"

Twilight was no fun.

"Come on Twilight, there's no way she's gonna tell me! There's obviously some weird reason why she always wears a hat!" Rainbow paced around the castle in frustration. It would have been so simple if Twilight had agreed to just teleport her right above A.J so she could yank the bandana off, but no, Twilight had to get all ethical about it.

"She doesn't always wear a hat. I've seen her hatless plenty of times." Twilight returned to her book, clearly not appreciating the gravity of the situation.

"Well yeah, but have you ever seen her up close without a hat on?"

"Well sure, there's...um...." Rainbow smirked in satisfaction as Twilight seemed to be lost for words.

"You know she goes swimming with a hat on?"

"So? Plenty of ponies wear a bathing cap-"

"I mean her cowpony hats! She wears a cowpony hat when she swims!"

"Huh. That seems like it'd be bad for the felt..."

"And then was the time she snuck one onto her head at your brother's wedding when she thought nopony was looking!

"Sneaked, not snuck."

"Heck she even keeps it on when we're in bed togeth-" Rainbow was cut off by Twilight's hoof mushing up against her mouth. "Too much information?"



"Okay, so she has something of a quirk." Twilight closed her book and put it away with a remorseful sigh. "Is that really such a big deal? Compared to Pinkie, she's still pretty normal. Heck, she's pretty normal compared to you."

"What's that supposed to mean? I'm totally normal! I could be more normal than A.J with one hoof tied behind my back!"

"Well did Applejack ever get thrown out of a Grand Galloping Gala event for insisting on dressing up like Daring Do?"

"That only happened like three times..."

"Did Applejack ever break half the windows in town by trying to pull off two Sonic Rainbooms at once?"

"Nopony can prove that was me!"

"Did Applejack ever paint a declaration of love for Spitfire in huge letters on the side of her barn?"

"She didn't tell me that was hard cider!"

"My point is, we all have little...oddities about us. Why does it matter so much if Applejack has one?"

"Because-" Rainbow stopped and took a breath. "Because she won't talk about it. It's like she's keeping a secret."

Twilight looked at her with a degree of sympathy. "We all have little secrets Rainbow. It doesn't have to be a big problem."

Rainbow tried not to sound dejected. She really tried. "But why is she keeping a secret from me?"

While flying back to the farm, Rainbow's thoughts turned and turned through her mind. Maybe Twilight was right. Maybe it was just a weird quirk about A.J that she'd never noticed before.

And that was part of dating, right? Getting to know the other pony in more (ugh) intimate ways that you had before? Maybe there would be other things to learn about A.J as time went on. And A.J would probably learn things about Rainbow too. Like how Rainbow sometimes liked to snuggle in bed with her Daring Do plushie.

That thought did not bring Rainbow much comfort.

Besides, a thought kept coming back to her. When A.J had first found out about Rainbow destroying her hats there had been a look on her face. At first she just looked annoyed, but when Rainbow moved closer to her, she looked different. She looked...afraid. Rainbow's own words played in her head.

"But have you ever seen her up close without a hat on?"

Rainbow set her mouth in determination. That settled it, Twilight was wrong. This wasn't just a quirk. Applejack had a secret. And whether she wanted Rainbow to or not, Rainbow was going to find it out.

Hats Off

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Rainbow huffed as she sat in bed that night. Applejack was already fast asleep but that wasn't what bothered her. True to her word, Applejack had hung out with Rainbow that afternoon and they had had plenty of fun as they always did. Rainbow didn't try and make a grab for A.J's bandana and A.J assumed Rainbow was finally prepared to let the matter drop.

Of course, that had all been part of Rainbow's master plan to lure A.J into a false sense of security. Now that Applejack was asleep, she would be able to finally see what the fuss was about.

And how could anypony blame her? Applejack had discarded the bandana when she went to sleep, but now she was wearing a nightcap! A nightcap! What kind of pony actually wore a nightcap these days?

Okay so maybe it was kind of cute in a weird way, but Rainbow was sure at this point that Applejack was deliberately trying to tease her with this mystery. Well no more! It was time to get to the truth.

Delicately and gently as she possibly could (which wasn't much, but A.J was least a heavy sleeper), she took hold of the nightcap and slowly eased it off of Applejack's head.

Her breath caught in her throat and her heart stopped when Applejack stirred slightly. It couldn't happen like this! If Applejack woke up now, there was no way she'd ever find out! Seconds ticked away painfully as Rainbow held her breath, the nightcap still clenched between her teeth. At last, A.J appeared to settle and Rainbow allowed herself the smallest sigh of relief she could muster.

She tugged gently and the cap finally came free. She discarded it and took a moment to let out a silent cheer. Now, at last, she would finally know the secret! She peered in close at Applejack's head.

It was around this time that Rainbow realised there was no moon out tonight and as such, too dark to make anything out. Whoops.

She fumbled around, trying to find any kind of light source that would be bright enough to see what A.J was hiding, but not so bright as to wake her up. Of course the Apple family could always be relied on to be as determinedly old fashioned as possible, so the first thing Rainbow had to hoof was a candle in a short, squat littler holder. Applejack always kept a box of matches in the nightstand drawer so Rainbow moved to retrieve them.


As she rolled away from Applejack, the worn springs of the mattress protested loudly. Okay, it probably wasn't that loud in the grand scheme of things, but in the silence of the night, with Rainbow desperately trying to keep A.J from awakening, that squeak was practically deafening.

Once again, A.J seemed to stir, snuffling her nose a little as her quiet snores were disrupted. Rainbow was already half turned away and she feared that any movement back towards the cowgirl would just wake her further. So, frozen in place, she extended a wing to try and comfortingly stroke A.J's side to ease her back into a more restful state.

It seemed to work, as Applejack gave a contented sigh and her breathing settled. Unfortunately things went from bad to worse as A.J proceeded to grab Rainbow's wing, roll over onto her front and start snuggling with the stolen appendage.

Rainbow bit into her hoof to stop herself from screaming in frustration. Now that A.J was effectively lying on top of her wing, she was completely trapped. It didn't help that she was still stuck in a position halfway between lying down and sitting up, a position that she was rapidly growing tired of.

For the better part of the next quarter hour, Rainbow tugged and twisted her wing, bit by agonising bit. Slowly, oh so slowly, but surely, she was able to gradually pull her wing free. A couple of the smaller feathers were pulled out along the way, but such sacrifices had to be made in the face of finding out what Applejack was hiding.

As her wing came free at last, Rainbow finally pulled herself off of the bed and set about opening the drawer to get at the matches.


Oh for Celestia's sake!

Rainbow winced as she pulled the drawer out. Applejack shifted a little, but it seemed like she wasn't in danger of waking up. Once again, a few more excruciating minutes passed as Rainbow carefully opened the drawer slowly and gradually. She resolved to oil the stupid drawer first thing tomorrow. This secret had better be worth the effort.

At last she was free to grope around for the matches. She struck one and lit the candle. Resisting her excited urge to leap back on the bed to get to the bottom of things, she instead elected to flap her wings and hover over Applejack. She wouldn't be able to get quite as close, but she was less likely to make noise.

That fact that Applejack had rolled over finally worked to Rainbow's advantage and she now had an unobstructed view of A.J's completely hatless head. She peered in as close as she could, trying to find whatever it was that Applejack was so desperate to keep a secret.

At first, she couldn't find anything at all. This couldn't be! Surely Twilight couldn't actually be...right? Right? Rainbow shook her head. No! She would find out what was going on. She lowered herself a little and held the candle closer to Applejack's head.

And there, finally, she saw it. And it wasn't at all what she had been expecting.

It was a scar. More specifically, three scars. Three straight lines side by side, near the back of Applejack's neck, running up into her hairline. They were fairly small. Small enough that Rainbow wasn't surprised she hadn't noticed them on previous occasions where she had seen Applejack without a hat. But even though they were small, they were awfully...deep.

Rainbow was so engrossed by this revelation that she didn't notice, at least not until it was too late, that she was holding the candle at an angle. And the wax was starting to drip.

In a flash, Applejack's eyes sprang opened and she hissed in pain. She jerked up and clapped a hoof to the spot on her neck where the hot wax had landed. She looked around and quickly found the culprit of her rude awakening.

"Rainbow Dash, what exactly are you doin' with that candle?" Rainbow scooted back a little. "Didn't anypony ever tell you not to play with fire?"

"Um...I was just uh...well...y'know..." Rainbow fumbled for an explanation, but nothing came to her. She could only wince as Applejack glared at her.

"You'd best have a darn good reason for-" Applejack suddenly cut herself off as she rubbed the back of her neck some more. Even in the candlelight, Rainbow could tell she was rubbing the scars. Her eyes slowly widened in horror as she clearly started to realise what Rainbow had seen.

"Hey come on now," Rainbow tried to smile nervously, "let's just calm down a sec and-"
Before she could even finish, Applejack was out of the bed. Before she could say anything else, Applejack was out of the room.

"Applejack, wait!" All Rainbow heard in response, was the front door slamming and the sound of Applejack running off into the night.

Into the Woods

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Rainbow had been flying for almost an hour. With no moon in the sky, trying to follow Applejack by sight was nigh impossible. A thought in the back on her mind told her that it might have been prudent to bring a lantern with her, but she shushed it. It was too late to turn back now.

She had given up trying to call A.J's name. She probably wouldn't respond even if she were in ear shot. Rainbow couldn't understand why A.J was so upset. Okay, so she apparently didn't want anypony to know about the scars. Why? They were freaking awesome looking scars! Rainbow was kind of jealous actually. How cool would it be to have scars like that to show off to everypony?

Maybe A.J thought they made her look ugly? Nah, that couldn't be it. Even if they weren't the coolest looking scars ever (which they were!), A.J totally wasn't into her looks like that. Sure, Rarity would say it was "unbecoming of a proper lady" or something (seriously, what did unbecoming even mean?), but since when had Applejack ever listened to anything Rarity would say?

Or maybe Applejack was ashamed. Maybe she had gone out and had an awesome, dangerous adventure without Rainbow and was trying to keep it a secret? No. Absolutely not, Applejack would never be so unfaithful-

She was broken from her thoughts by a strange sound. Well the sound itself wasn't that weird, it sounded like somepony crying. What was strange about it, was that it sounded kind of like...Applejack...

Not entirely convinced her ears weren't playing tricks on her, Rainbow touched down in the forest and crept towards the clearing from which the sound was coming. With only starlight, it was hard to tell, but she could just make out the form of a pony sitting on a fallen log hugging herself, shoulders shaking slightly.

"Applejack?" Rainbow stepped forward. She was surprised by how small her own voice sounded. The pony's head snapped up and Rainbow was sure she was going to run again. "Wait, please don't go!"

"What's the point?" Applejack lowered her again. "You already saw, there's no point tryin' to hide anymore."

"I don't get it." Rainbow dared to walk a step or two closer. Applejack made no effort to move away, that was a good sign, right? "So you have some scars, what's the big deal? I think they look kinda-"

"The big deal," Applejack cut in, "ain't how they looks. It's how I got 'em."

Rainbow summed up the last of her courage and sat down next to her. Still no signs of pulling away. Rainbow relaxed. They had made it this far, how bad could anything A.J had to say possibly be?

"Do you know what happened to my folks?" Applejack seemed to be taking very slow, deliberate breaths. Almost like she was psyching herself up for something.

"Uh, they died, right?" Rainbow cringed at her own bluntness. "I mean, I don't know how or anything, I guess I always figured it was like a farm accident or-"

"It was because of me."

Time had passed. Rainbow didn't know how much. She had been too stunned to speak and Applejack hadn't volunteered any extra information. They had just sat there. For ten minutes? Fifteen? A half hour? Who knew?

"I..." Rainbow tried to break the silence. She was surprised by how dry her throat was. "I don't... What do you mean? How can you be..." She didn't know what to say. She was just trying to fill the space. Fortunately Applejack finally came to her rescue.

"It was a little after I got back from Manehattan that time. Mom had just had Applebloom a few weeks ago and...it was so stupid. I was stupid."

"Hey come on, you were just a ki-"

"Mom and Dad had said I was gonna have to share my room with Applebloom soon. She'd been sleeping in their room while she was still a foal, but that was gonna change when she got a little older." Applejack paused, seeming to consider each word she was about to say next. "I was...so stupid. I didn't want to share my room and...like a dang child I threw a temper tantrum."

Applejack throwing a tantrum? Now Rainbow had heard it all. The image of little A.J acting out seemed so ridiculous that she would have laughed out loud were it not for the tears streaming down A.J's face.

"Well come on, you were a child. Kids do dumb stuff."

"Not this dumb. After my little display, they sent me to bed without supper. I got so mad, I decided to run away. I climbed out my window and ran to the Everfree Forest." Applejack paused to take a deep breath. "And that's when the Timberwovles came."

Rainbow's blood ran cold. Applejack didn't really need to say anymore, she could already guess how the story ended. She ran a hoof over the scars on A.J's neck. Three neat lines. Just like claw marks.

"Mom and Dad were already out looking for me. They made Mac stay home for safety and Granny had to take care of Applebloom. One o' the smaller wolves already caught me around the back of the head when they found me." Rainbow stroked the scars as tenderly as she could. "I was pretty dazed from the blow. It was hard to focus and everything happened so fast. They were shouting for me to get away and then-" Applejack's words were starting to get interrupted by sobs now. "T-they started s-screamin' and...I could hear the sound of-"

Rainbow took her hoof away from the scars and instead embraced her. Applejack buried her face in Rainbow's neck and began to sob uncontrollably. And though she would never admit it, tears were starting to run down Rainbow's face as well.

"It-" Rainbow took a moment to compose herself. "It wasn't you fault. You were just a kid, you didn't-"

"Yes it was!" Applejack drew her head back. "They wouldn' have been there if I hadn't...if I..." Applejack sighed. "Anyway...the last thing Mom said to me was to run. So I did. I made it back to the house and...I just couldn't face Granny and Mac. I couldn't tell 'em that I..."

"Wait, you mean nopony knows what happened to your parents?"

Applejack gave Rainbow a tired, sad look.

"They know. They just don't know everythin'. By the time I got back I already knew it was...I knew it'd be too late." Rainbow put her foreleg around A.J's shoulders as they shook again. "I snuck into my room and bandaged up my own head. I knew they would be questions if they saw, so I found an old hat in one of the closets and used it to cover up the dressin's."

"So how did Granny find out?" Rainbow's voice quivered, almost dreading the answer. Applejack sighed again.

"The next mornin' she finally went out to find 'em. And she did. I spun a lie about comin' home that night. With everypony so sad about what happened, none of 'em really paid close attention to my story. Granny didn't even blame me."

"Nopony asked why you were wearing a hat?"

"Mom and Dad both used to wear hats a lot. I guess they figured I was just doin' it to remember 'em. The cuts healed, but the marks never quite went away. I know they're hard to see even when I don't have a hat on, but I just prefer to keep my head covered whenever possible just in case..."


Silence fell again. It was a lot of information to take in. Minutes passed as Rainbow racked her brain to think of something comforting to say. In the end, there was only one thought that occurred to her. It was a silly thing to ask, but she had to keep the talking going. Rainbow never liked the quiet.

"I know this isn't really the important part of the story... But you said this all started because you and Applebloom were supposed to share a room. You don't share a room now, what happened?"

Surprisingly enough, Applejack actually laughed. Not her usual boisterous laugh. It was a dark, bitter laugh.

"Aw Sugarcube..." She smiled sadly. "After that night, we had a room goin' spare."

What Happens Now?

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Rainbow continued to run her hoof slowly over the scars. Applejack's cries had settled to the occasional sniffle, her shoulders only jerking once in a while. A strange calm had descended over the two, despite the emotional outbursts and the heavy revelations. There was a new weight in Rainbow's chest, yet she somehow felt lighter at the same time. It seemed wrong to think it, but she seemed to feel almost...content.

At last Applejack broke the silence. "So what happens now?"

"I dunno." Rainbow's voice was thick from disuse. "What do you wanna do about it?"

"What do you mean, what do I want?" Applejack looked at her in shock. "It ain't up to me."

"Sure it is. I'm not gonna tell anypony about what you told me. I..." Rainbow hung her head. "I'm sorry for dragging your secret out like I did. I know you didn't want me to know and I get why. So if you want to go on keeping it a secret...that's your business."

Applejack stared at her with a piercing glaze for a moment. "So what you're sayin' is....if I wanna pretend this never happened....you ain't gonna rat me out?"

"Did you really think I would?"

"No... I just figured you might have some speech about how I'd feel better if I came clean with everypony."

"I wasn't gonna...I mean I wouldn't..." Rainbow bit her lip in frustration as she tried to summon the right words. "...Do you feel better?"

Despite the question, silence fell again for a moment. Rainbow watched A.J as she hung her head in contemplation. And then A.J broke the silence with a small chuckle.

"Does it sound wrong if I say I kinda do feel better?"

"What? No, of course that's not wrong! Why would it be wrong?"

Applejack looked up at the stars. "Dunno. I guess maybe some might say I don't deserve to feel better after what happened."

"Pfft! Yeah right!" Rainbow giggled, in spite of the incredulous look Applejack was now sending her. "Who would say that kind of thing?"

"Um...I don't know if you were listenin' to me for the last half hour or so..."

"Yeah, yeah." Rainbow cut her off with a wave of her hoof. "You screwed up. Big time. I think anypony would agree on that." Applejack's head sunk, only to be stopped when Rainbow pushed her chin up again to look her in the eye. "But I said it before and I'll say it again. You. Were. A. Kid. You didn't mean for any of that stuff to happen, right?"

Applejack swallowed. "Well no, but-"

"But nothing!" Rainbow took A.J's face in her hooves. "Kids screw up all the time! Heck, grownups screw up all the time! The only thing is most of us are lucky enough that our screw ups aren't a big deal. But...sometimes stuff happens."

A.J raised her old familiar eyebrow. "Stuff...happens."

"You remember when I saved Rarity with the Sonic Rainboom?" Rainbow waited for Applejack's nod before she continued. "Remember what you said to me, after I got back from hanging with the Wonderbolts?"

A.J laughed despite herself. "I said you were about the biggest dang fool I ever did see, pullin' a stunt like that. I said you coulda broke your neck."

Rainbow grinned. "And I said, 'coulda done, but I didn't'. Y'see? Everypony said I was a hero, but that was only cuz I got lucky. Well, I mean my awesome skills had a lot to do with it too," Rainbow ignored A.J's snort, "but the point is, if I had smacked my head into the ground and croaked right then, ponies would have said I was stupid. That I went and risked myself for nothing. But...I guess that's kind of it. When things work out for you, no matter how stupid you might have been, it's not a big deal. But the one time something goes wrong, suddenly the fact that you were dumb is the most obvious thing in the world."

A.J laughed again. It was good to hear her laugh. "Except it was obvious that you were dumb that day. Obvious to me anyways."

"Well that's the cool thing about me and you. If we do good, you can still tell if we did something stupid. And if we do bad, I can see that it was bad luck and it totally wasn't our fault."

A.J smirked. "So that time you tried napping in the Tree o' Harmony..."

"Shut up. My tail grew back just fine."

A.J nuzzled her. "I'm just messin' with you." She kissed Rainbow gently on the cheek. "Thanks Sugarcube. I still don't know if I deserve it...but you made me feel better."

"Aw yeah, another win for Rainbow Psychotherapy Dash!" Rainbow jumped up and punched the air in celebration. She settled down as a thought occurred to her. "So...since this talk went so well and all...you think you'll tell your family as well? Might be good to..."

She trailed off as Applejack's face darkened. She mentally slapped herself. So close and she went and ruined every-

"Maybe." Or perhaps not. "I'ma have to take some time to think things over. I gotta think about whether this'll be good for them, not just for me. I don't want to hurt them, but I don't want to run from the truth no more either."

Rainbow pushed her face into Applejack's neck, resting just below her chin. "Whatever you choose, I'll back you up no matter what. I'm cool like that y'know."

A.J chuckled once more and wrapped her foreleg around Rainbow's shoulder. "I know Sugar. And I can never thank you enough."

"Yeah, yeah." Rainbow threw A.J's foreleg off and stood up. "Now enough of this mushy stuff already! I wanna get back to bed. Gotta get a good night's sleep so I can totally own you at water-skiing tomorrow."

Applejack rose to her hooves as well, clearly ready to meet the challenge. "Oh is that a fact now?"

"Pfft, you're totally gonna suck. You're gonna be all like: 'oh no, Rainbow done figured out mah see-kret an' now Ah cain't kon-sehn-trait on th' dag-blasted gahme'!"

"...I don't sound like that."

"You kinda do though..."

"Well I reckon that makes us even then."


Applejack let loose one last, evil chuckle. "You don't think you're the only one who figured out somepony's secret now, do ya?"


Applejack kissed Rainbow deeply on the lips. "I know about the Darin' Do plushie Sugarcube."

The End