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Oh What A Night (Steel)

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Rainbow flitted through the skies over Ponyville. She was a little late but she figured it wouldn't matter much. A dinner out with Applejack was special of course but Rainbow was irritated. She had been brooding for the week and a half since the Nightmare Night party and things hadn't gotten any better in her mind. She was irritated that AJ would ask more of her. Irritated that she had to help even though she was super tired. Irritated that she vcouldn't have things just the way she wanted them. I mean, come on! This was Rainbow Dash we're talking about not some regular pony that had like tons of time and stuff.

 

She puffed a breath of air out of her muzzle, causing her forelocks to floof.

 

"Get it together RD..." She sighed. "It's nice to go out for dinner together. Plus Lyra and BonBon are  gonna be there. It will be fun to see them and it will keep our minds off all this talk of me doing even more to help with Zap..." 

 

It wasn't that she didn't love AJ or Zap, she loved them both dearly. But she was Rainbow Dash and it was asking her to be really hard put to place anypony else in front of her own needs. She was super busy, and tired, and now she had to go out and smile and act nice with their friends... her expression looked anything but cheery as she dropped out of the sky in front of the restaurant they were having dinner at. 

 

There was the group up ahead. It looked like they were waiting on her... oh great. She was sure AJ would have something to say about that too...

 

"Well, here we go!" She forced a smile onto her face and trotted over.

 

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"Rainbow Dash is here!" Lyra exclaimed cheerily. "Can't wait to try this place out!" She smiled to BonBon. 

 

Lyra was always excited to spend time with her special somepony but even more so since they were going out with Rainbow Dash and Applejack! Wow! She was sure they would have lots of fun things to talk about.

 

She glanced over at BonBon, offering her a wink as they made their way towards the entrance. "Did I tell you how good you look tonight?" Her tail flicked over BonBon's cutie mark as a flirty smiled played on her lips.

 

Yep, tonight was sure to be fun!

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Applejack looked good. Well, she always looked good. Not good in the Rarity way but good as in she was clean, her mane was soft, and she felt like a thousand bits. She was also dirt tired. So tired. Always tired- but she never let it show and never would. She worked her rump off on the farm, looked after Zap, taught him as much as she could, and then spent much of the rest of the time as a Twilight Guard. Every day of every week of every month of every year was an endless toil. A lovely one mind you. Every last part of her daily schedule was one that she was happy to take part in. But it was nearly impossible to find any time for herself anymore. Indeed, the only reason she was able to do something like this was because Twi was in Canterlot and the Twilight Guard contingent was less required. If Twi had been in Ponyville? Well, she'd have to double-date plus one with a Princess if she wanted anything of the sort. That was a little harder than it sounded like it would be, and it didn't sound easy in the first place.

 

WHich is why she wanted some more help from Rainbow. She didn't want the world from her, just something more than she was doing now. Applejack understood it was easier to ask for than to receive. She also understood that Rainbow had much of her schedule set aside outside of her control.  The Wonderbolts were a busy flight demonstration team, after all. Applejack understood all of that. But that didn't mean she didn't want Rainbow to try. Even if she got nothing more out of it, the knowledge that Rainbow tried would be enough for her. And who knows- maybe they could work something out and Zap Apple would get to see her flyin' momma more often than...not as much as Applejack would like, truth be told. And the way RD had acted at the Nightmare Night party had upset her. She had brought it up casually during a lull, not thinking it was a big deal regardless of answer, and then dropped it. Yet Dash had the gall to sit on it? 

 

It was just like her. Somepony suggest she help out and it interferes with her perfect little life plan and she gets all stuffed up in her little flight suit. Uggh. She didn't want to think about it anymore and as she trotted up to the date location she was more or less all set and ready to go. Big Mac was watching Zap, she was looking good, and the other members of the Double Date were ready to go.

 

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Bon Bon was always ready to go. So much so she had made the arrangements, reserved the seats, and set aside sometime later in case she and Lyra wanted to see a show. And she didn't mean plays or a movie either, hubba hubba. Of course, she invited Applejack and Rainbow Dash out on a whim. The pair were the busiest ponies in Ponyville. She didn't really expect to hear an affirmative from either one but Applejack replied for both, so...here she was! With Lyra! And them! She had arrived just before the rest and made sure the coast was clear of...well, nothing really. She figured she didn't really have anything all that exciting to be concerned about but that didn't stop her. Old habits died hard. Lyra was there in good time and in between all the other flirty moves she made sure to plant a kisser right on her cheeks. "This should be a great dinner. It has the best reviews of retro-vegan sushi in Ponyville. It is also the only retro-vegan sushi in Ponyville, but I digress," she said as she curled her tail around the adventurous tail of Lyra and yanked on it playfully. Applejack was not far behind.

 

"Howdy, y'all!"

"Hey there AJ!"

 

Rainbow arrived. Both Bon Bon and AJ could sense frustration, a fake smile was always easy to see, but neither said anything. AJ trotted up and gave her a hard hug. "Well here ya are, RD, Good timin' too. We all just arrived!" She said as she tugged RD into a tight side embrace, walking beside her towards the entrance. "Don't know 'bout you but Ah'm starvin! Ah could eat a whole pegasus right on up!" She said with a snicker as Bon Bon nodded.

"In we go!" She said, leading the way until she was at the front counter. A young unicorn stallion was manning it.

"Reservations?"

"Bon, four."

"....there we go! Follow me, ladies," he said as he grabbed four menus and gestured. Bon Bon and AJ followed to a nicely sized four pony table near the back, with more intimate lighting. They took their seats.

"Here are your menus, ladies. Your server should be with you in a moment!"

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"Oof!" A puff of air escaped Rainbow's muzzle as she was pulled into a rather tight and rather fierce side hug. She didn't wrap her front leg around AJ but instead escaped from the hug as quick as possible and walked next to the orange mare.  She shrugged, shaking off the embrace but making it look like a stretch or a yawn or something.

 

"Heh heh..." She ruffled her wings a little as she walked, trying to get some of the tension out. She had built up a lot of tension from her brooding and subsequent moping. "Yep, here I am."

 

She glanced sidelong at AJ. DANG IT! She was frustrated with Applejack, downright mad at her but...daaaaang did she look good! Not the fancy kind of good, nope, the kind of good the RD could hardly stand. That golden mane and tail done up like AJ hadn't given it a second though. Her healthy coat shining over her muscular rump... "Gah!" RD shook her head. She wan't going to let herself fall for this again. This time she meant business and she was gonna stick to it! She caught a whiff of AJ's scent and her thoughts jumbled once again. 

 

"I-I'm hungry too..." Her voice faltered for a moment. Faking what was going on inside had never been a strong suit for the sky blue mare. "Really hungry actually." There! That sounded better. Right?

 

They were lead to the table and everypony took a seat. It was a nice table, good lighting, comfortable. Now... if only RD was comfortable too. This would have been a perfect night but the mare's emotions were proving difficult to keep at bay.

 

"Wow Bon!" She nuzzled her mare. "This place looks great!" She smiled at AJ and RD. "BonBon here sure knows her stuff about food! She's taken me to the craziest places and somehow they always turn out amazing!"

 

The waiter soon returned and asked for drink orders.

 

"I'll take ummmm..." Lyra scanned the drinks list. "I'll try this one!" She used her hoof to point at a fruit infusion with a fun little flamingo stuck in the top. "The Island Getaway!"

 

"Just water's good..." Rainbow commented dryly. 

 

 

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Of all the days, was she really going to choose this to act all petulant? Applejack loved Rainbow dearly but there were times she could be such a little filly. Maybe Applejack grew up too quickly after the passing of her ma and pa, but it often felt like RD had never really grown up. Couldn't get her anger out in constructive ways and threw little temper tantrums when she didn't get her way. So touchy! Just like Rarity. Did Applejack have a thing for temper tantrum throwing mares? Anywho. Applejack allowed Rainbow to escape her hugging grasp only ever lightly, getting a little peeved herself. Really? Really? Were you really doing this? It had been more than a week and they were on a double date at a nice restaurant. Under what stars did it make sense for Rainbow to be this upset? Hopefully Rainbow could simply relax and have fun and not ruin this night. Or continue to annoy Applejack, because even she had her limits when it came to dealing with adults.

 

They sat down and Applejack as asked what she wanted to drink. Well, there was nothing too exciting on the menu since they didn't have apple cider, but that didn't mean she wasn't going to put something down. "Ah'll take...pear rum. Yeah, thats tha ticket. A nice big mug of it, too," she said cheekily. The server gave a furrowed look and seemingly mouthed the words 'mug' questioningly, then trotted away. She looked at Bon Bon. "Well, can't say AH think it'll match what Ah've had lately, but no harm in tryin'! How's tha bon bon stand doin'?"

 

"Pretty good, actually. Thinking about buying a third storage unit for my supplies. Did three-k gross profit last month."

 

"Woo-wee! Thats mighty fine there. Sugarcube Corner might have tha market cornered on baked goods but Ah tell everypony Ah know ta head yer way for chocolates."

 

"Thanks for that, pardner," Bon Bon laughed before turning her attention to Rainbow. "So flyfilly, how is that big open sky treating you? I wasn't able to get to the last Wonderbolts show."

 

Applejack briefly wondered if Rainbow Dash would actually try to participate, but reckoned she wasn't gonna leave Lyra out there in the lurch on account of an upset filly. "How've you been, Lyra? Get into any trouble recently?"

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Lyra was so so so proud of everything Bonbon had accomplished with her chocolate sales. It was amazing to see what her expertise was capable of! The minty mare had of course helped Bon out getting things rolling and then going with her to any event where it seemed like one set of hooves wouldn't be enough to get the job done.

 

"Thanks AJ!" Lyra chimed in as Applejack offered to spread the word. "Before you know it, it's gonna take more than just us two to keep the chocolate stand working!" She smiled. "I saw a line half way around Equestria for the Apple family's last cider sale! You guys sure know your business!" Her eyes lit up. "Ever consider pairing chocolates and cider?" She asked the question to both mares.

 

Rainbow sighed lightly as Bonbon asked about her Wonderbolts experiences as of late. Right before she was going to speak their drinks arrived. Rainbow held her water glass between her hooves, glowering down at it. Stupid water...this stupid place didn't even have cider... so now she was drinking stupid water... her bad mood was written all over her features and it wasn't getting any better.

 

She raised the glass to her muzzle and took a little sip before returning it to the table. "Oh you know, busy as always. I haven't seen much of the open skies lately. We just took on some more recruits which has made my schedule even more hectic..." She looked to the side and spoke quietly. "and that's before somepony asked me to take on even more responsibilities..."

 

Lyra raised her eyebrows at Rainbow's little comment. What the hay was going on here? She, Bon, and AJ seemed to be having a great time but Rainbow was acting like a rain cloud over an otherwise perfect parade. She could feel the tension growing and it didn't feel good. Lyra had just wanted a nice night out with friends and well...Rainbow seemed to be all she could to ruin in. Lyra made eye contact with Bon and then tried to make eye contact with AJ until...

 

"So... are we all ready to order?" The waiter appeared again. 

 

"Uhhhhh," Lyra hadn't even had a chance to look at the menu. "Can we have a couple more minutes?"

 

"Of course madam... take all the time you-"

 

"I'll take a daisy burger, no fries." Rainbow butted in. "Don't want to be here all night," She muttered.

 

Rainbow was being beyond rude and she really didn't care. Of course AJ would say she was being selfish, and foalish, and and and... blah blah blah.... Rainbow couldn't do anything right. AJ always found something to pick on. Why not make it easy to find something?

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Applejack got lost in thought for a second. Cider and chocolates? Well, it wasn't a bad idea. Depending on the season the chocolate didn't take away from the flavor profile, but sometimes they didn't know until it was late in the process. And she didn't want to make a promise she couldn't keep. "Can't say yes just right now, but it could be somethin' ta think about. Gotta make sure them flavor profiles don't conflict. Don't want nopony ta walk 'way from all that cider thinkin' 'bout anything but the rest. Sides, Ah gotta make sure this one-" Applejack said as she elbowed Rainbow lightly in the side, playful but..well, it could have been gentler, to be direct, "-gets all her cider. Land's sakes, she could put down a barrel herself if Ah let her," she laughed, though it was hard to tell whether she was trying to needle Rainbow in public about drinking too much or playfully challenging her to test that theory. To be honest, Applejack didn't know herself.

 

It was hard at times to take Zap Apple places. He could throw a temper tantrum sure but it was mostly the curiosity, how he wanted to say hi and just let everypony around know his whole life story. It was cute because he was young and didn't know better. It was hard at times to take Rainbow Dash places because she could throw temper tantrums and just passively aggressively ruin the mood. She wanted to take that surly attitude and straighten her out, and it showed on her face as Applejack shot Rainbow a look after her little side comment there. "Rainbow Dash, don't start this..." she whispered tersely as the waiter came to take their order.
 

Not wanting to take it out on him- and also having done her pony best to find out what they had- she went ahead and made an order. "Oh, Ah'll take tha..salad salmon? Looked mighty tasty ta me. That and some good ol' fashioned tomato soup!" She said with a healthy nod. Bon Bon wasn't far behind. "Tofu Fish and Chips, big ones. Super hungry tonight!" She said, too excited to be out with Lyra to really give a wooden nickel currently about Rainbow's surly attitude.


She kissed Lyra as the waiter pulled away with at least two orders. "We're so happy you two could make it. You're just so busy!"


Applejack smiled and leaned back. She wanted to pull RD in for a big hug but was both sure she would squirm away and also...didn't really want to reward her terrible behavior. "Well, Ah reckon we all now. Part of bein' an adult an' all that. Runnin' tha farm, operations inside and out, raisin' a colt, bein' a guard- lots on mah plate. Always try ta find tha time for others, though. Reckon yer gonna be in tha same bucket soon enough, right? When're you two gonna get yerself a little munchkin ta eat up all yer time an' attention?"

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Rainbow graced AJ with a short glare as she was elbowed none too gently. Her attitude continued to worsen as the orange mare continued to ignore it. 

 

"Yep..." She sipped her water. "Gotta love that cider..." She puffed some air out of her muzzle and grimaced ever so slightly. 

 

"Rainbow Dash, don't start this..."

 

Leave it to AJ to start talking to her like she was a foal. She was obviously the better parent of the pair of them and she always had to point in out. Rainbow hated not being the best and AJ's asking her to help out more had just driven home the point that she didn't do enough. As if Applejack couldn't see RD had already started this and was going to continue at it until she felt like stopping...

 

"Hmmmmm," Lyra looked over the menu one last time while the others put in their orders. Her stomach rumbled and as looked through the list. "How about the eggplant and bell pepper skewers with a side of fried rice?" She tapped her hoof on her choices as she read them to the waiter.

 

The mare's cheeks flushed as Bon planted a kiss on her cheek. Bon was just the best! She flicked her tail over the small of her mare's back and winked at her. "Yep! It's not every day you get Applejack and Rainbow Dash all in one shot!" 

 

Then AJ mentioned the prospect of foals...

 

"Oh!" She nuzzled Bon even as her stomach dropped. "Well we haven't talked seriously about it....but um, I'd love to have a little guy or gal trotting around!"

 

Rainbow rolled her eyes, not really responding to anypony, just airing her own thoughts. "Yep, AJ's really busy these days... and apparently I'm not," She smirked and continued on with her water.

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Bon Bon didn't even want to imagine how raising a kid would turn out. She knew she wasn't the best role model to follow. She was always wanting to change, always seeking something new, never settling- which all seemed like admirable traits until you realized kids needed some form of stability in their lives. She wasn't that. Her lifestory was that of an iterant wanderer and failure who liked chocolates a green unicorn who was as silly as she was. She wasn't sure she was ready for it. But would she want one someday? Maybe. Probably. Likely. But she knew that she wasn't ready now. She also assumed that Lyra felt the same. It had never come up and Lyra certainly wasn't a mare who was shy about the prospect of bringing up just about any subject that she found particularly pertinent. So color Bon Bon surprised a little when Lyra said she'd like it. Bon Bon wasn't so sure, but wasn't against it either. "Heh, well, who knows what our future holds? I don't plan on this stopping any time soon so..." she trailed off, partially because she was having great difficulty actually paying attention to this side of the conversation when it was clear the juicy stuff was on the other side of the table.

 

Applejack, for her part, thought she had been trying her darndest to just have a good time. Yeah maybe she had ribbed RD a little but they always did that. It was nothing unusual. Nothing to get all uptight in the wingsuit about. Yet here she was, acting all aggravating. She really did know how to get under Applejack's skin. It was showing, too. She shot her mare a look and huffed, enough coming out of her nostrils to send some napkins on the table flying into Bon Bon's face. "Rainbow, you plum know Ah ain't sayin' that. If you wanna talk 'bout something then can you at least hold off until after dinner? Bon Bon an Lyra were nice 'nough to invite us out ta dinner and if yer not gonna behave on my account, do so on theirs!" She said with clear desperation in her voice. Why the hay couldn't she just have a nice night out anymore? It was like some invisible and dramatic force was toying with her constantly. She sighed and brushed her mane aside, smiling weakly at Lyra and Bon Bon. "Sorry, sorry. Ah won't be so loud. Uhh, so...AH can't wait for tha food ta get here, right?"

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Normally Lyra would have found Bon's response to the question about having a little one of their own interesting buuuuut.... whatever was going on between their two dinner companions was far more interesting. Besides, Lyra knew BonBon wasn't anywhere near ready for a foal. In fact if they ever did have one of their own, she knew the burden of raising the little guy of gal would fall squarely on her withers. Bon's career kept her busy and preoccupied far too much. Lyra didn't mind. When the time was right, if it ever was, she'd be happy to shoulder the responsibility. At least she thought she would be...  Well, no time to consider that further.

 

Applejack spoke some terse words to her mare and Lyra could all but see the tension in Rainbow build from a smolder into a raging boil!

 

"No!" Rainbow set her glass down far too heavily onto the table. Water spilled over the edge, making her even more angry. "No I don't know that!" She snorted softly, trying her best to keep under control. Controlling emotions was not a Rainbow Dash thing however...

 

"You always talk about all the stuff you have going on. How you're working the farm, and Twilight's Guard, and this and that, and whatever....aaaaand you of course manage to be the best mom in the world to Zap! Like I'm not a good mom at all!" Her voice rose in octave and volume. "Well! Guess what? I'm doing the best I can! Sure I'm not as amazing (eye roll) as you are at balancing everything but I'm there when I can be. You just expect me to drop more of what I'm doing to take care of him!" 

 

She got up and pushed back from her chair. "Well, I can't ok? I'm not giving up any more of what I do! You're so great, I'm sure you'll figure it out!"

 

By now every eye in the room was on them. Rainbow wasn't even close to being through yelling. She stormed through the restaurant and out to the front patio, knowing full well AJ would follow her...

 

Lyra's eyes widened as the scene played out. She was a little embarrassed to be involved, her heart rqced as she waited to see what AJ would do.

 

"Holy Celestia..." She whispered to Bon from the side of her muzzle.

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Applejack was dumbstruck by Rainbow's outburst. For Land's Sake, what had gotten into her? Just because Applejack had the audacity to ask for a little more help? How goshdarned selfish of Rainbow! Some loyalty she was showing. Applejack hadn't said a dang thing about being perfect or thinking Rainbow wasn't doing a lot but as she started going off and throwing a temper tantrum Applejack found herself starting to agree that, you know what, Rainbow hadn't been doing as much as she could be. That she was being lazier than she needed to be, and not nearly as good a mother as Applejack knew she could be. And that was the one that upset her most of all as Rainbow yelled and trotted off and onto the patio. Applejack knew Rainbow well enough to know she wanted to have it out, have this fight. And after pushing enough of Applejack's buttons, she was too angry to really care that she as doing exactly as Rainbow would like her to do.

"Excuse me," she said before rudely getting up, hot on the trail of her lovely, awful pegasus. She wasn't far behind Rainbow. The Wonderbolt didn't have to wait but a few seconds before Applejack was out there with her, face growing beet red from anger and embarrassment. She was huffing very lightly as she tried to keep her boiling anger from showing but was only partially successful.

"What in the name of Celestia gives you the right to act this way, Rainbow Dash!? Why, 'cause yer a little upset that Ah'm asking ya ta at least see if you could do a little more ta help me and Zap Apple!? Excuse me for askin'! Ah didn't think you'd have a problem askin' for some more time off on account of you bein' sooooo loyal and loving Zap an' I sooooooo much, but Ah guess Ah was wrong!" She yelled, nose to nose with Rainbow Dash. "If you wanna fight 'bout this then go on ahead, let it all out. But don't think for a moment Ah'm gonna let you get away with treating me, yer son, and our friends this way!"


Bon Bon looked at the fight with a bit of a sparkle in her eyes. She hated that her friends were fighting...but she liked a bit of a fight from time to time, a bit of gossip. "Wow. I don't think I've heard Applejack yell like that in a while," she whispered back to Lyra just as their food was arriving. The waiter was distracted as well by the fight and plates were placed incorrectly, though he saw it before too long. "Sorry about our friends. Lover's quarrel!"

He nodded. "Yes, yes. I see. Well...they better tone it down. The manager is about to go talk to them..."

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Lyra's gaze shifted from the retreating figure of Apple Jack to BonBon. As the waiter spoke of the manager the unicorn blew out a breath.

 

"Hopefully they get thing quieted down quick... I don't want to see them get kicked out..." She made a sidelong glance at BonBon and spoke to her. "...Or do I?"

 

Not that she wished ill of her friends buuuuut, wow what a shovel full of gossip this would be! Not only were they out to dinner with AJ and RD but they were in the middle of a fight between the two famous mares! Lyra's gossip alarm was going off big time! This would be awesome news for her friends to hear!

 

Rainbow stepped in, pressing her nose up against Applejack's. If she wanted to yell that was fine! It was more than fine! Rainbow had some yelling of her own to get to!

 

"What gives you the right to tell me I can't act this way? Again with your 'holier than thou' routine. You're just so used to being the best that you can't stand somepony not agreeing with you! Is that it? Well, guess what, I'm putting my hoof down and not letting you get away with this! You can't tell me what to do all the time Applejack! Well, you try to, and I'M SICK OF IT!"

 

She sucked in  a breath and continued. "I'm sick of you touting to everypony about how amazing you are! You act like it's nothing for you to balance all the stuff you do and it's not! So get off your high horse and get down on my level would you? I put in tons of time training and working and taking care of Zap Apple! I'm there as often as I can be and it's not fair for you to ask for more!"

 

She took a step back. "And how dare you equate what I do and how busy I am to how much I love you and Zap?" She snorted. "Is that it? Is that how you measure love? Huh? How much you do for somepony? Nothing else? Cause guess what farm pony these's more to life than working!"

 

She sucked in a huge breath and then huffed it out through her nose... Rainbow hadn't been this worked up in a long time. She knew she wasn't making complete sense but she was just so mad she couldn't think straight!

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Rainbow Dash was being insane. Patently and absurdly off of her loco. Since when did Applejack tell her what to do? Heck, since when did Rainbow Dash even let such an accusation slip on by? Sure as heck wasn't like her to stay put when she felt like she was being told what to do. And, frankly, if being asked to inquire as to her availability was some kinda push too far, then that crazy bird-brained pegasus certainly was certainly living up to the warnings about the sort of damage all those crashes could cause.

 

"Are you out of your featherbrained mind, RD? If Ah was actin' like it was no big deal than Ah wouldn't be askin' for yer help, would Ah? No! Ah'd be just fine all on mah own, but Ah know what Ah can and can't do and there's just some things Ah can't do! Ah asked you for more help 'cause Ah needed it. Ah might love ta work and Ah might love mah family but that don't mean Ah can do it all, ahn' Ah'm sick an' tired of bein' told that askin' for help is some kinda problem when y'all get on me for bein' stubborn! Screwed both ways, that's how Ah feel," She spat back, her voice husky and getting lower as she got angrier.

 

She tried to pull it back, and the emotional whiplash caused her to grunt in frustration as she turned her back to Rainbow and looked down.
"Ah love you, Rainbow, Ah do. But it seems ta be that anytime anypony asks you to give a little you get scared, an' when you get scared you get angry. Well, Ah'm scared. Ah'm scared Ah'm not enough for 'im, an' Ah'm sure as sun not a pegasus that can teach him all he needs to do to fly. Ah do a lot an' so do you, but..." she trailed off, a stinkin' line of thought gaining traction as she turned back to Rainbow, fire in her eyes.

 

"And you know what? Ah'll tell you exactly what Ah'm fearin' is really goin' on, Rainbow. Somethin' yer gonna have ta do a bit to pull me away from thinkin'. You didn't even bother askin' not 'cause you think yer doin' enough. Not 'cause you think you shouldn't have ta. You didn't ask, didn't even ask, because you were afraid they'd be willin' ta work with ya, be all reasonable-like. You ain't scared of nothin' but the possibility that yer responsibility ta yer family will get in tha way, however small, of bein' a Wonderbolt . An' yer scared of that because you'd rather be a Wonderbolt than have tha responsibility of lookin' after yer very own flesh an' blood!"


Bon Bon was eating quickly and viciously blowing through her food like a windstorm over the plains, listening intently to the argument. It was getting nasty out there! All of this sounded like it was over Zap Apple and Applejack wanting Dash to do more, and Dash not wanting to do more-slash-feeling like she did enough. It was juicy, and her steel trap of a mind was recording all of it. "Well, if I wanted a reason to not have a foal I guess arguing about responsibility would be one of them..." she laughed to herself, drinking wine and tinking it against Lyra's as she watched an older stallion make his way out into the patio...

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Lyra winked to her mare as she spoke of the mares outside being escorted away for fighting. "Oh Bon, you're bad!" She leaned over, trying to pick up on what they were say...or to better term it, yelling!

 

Rainbow sucked in a breath with the words AJ threw her way. Her ears flattened back to her skull and she fumed. Scared! Scared? Ha! She wasn't afraid of anything! And that's when something inside Rainbow shattered. She couldn't think of a retort. Her brain suddenly felt like it was on fire! She opened her mouth to reply and nothing came out and worse...

 

She flicked a wing up over her face. Not tears! No! Not now! She had to prove how strong she was. She had to tell the blasted mare in front of her that she loved so deeply it hurt that she was wrong! She had to scream that Rainbow Dash wasn't afraid of anything! She was the best, perfect, everypony wanted to be just...like...her?

 

Horse apples!

 

It wasn't true! None of it. Rainbow was lying to herself. Had been lying to herself for...well for about forever! And of course AJ would see right through her! Of course she would know what was going on better than RD knew herself. That was why she loved AJ so much. So knew, and she supported, and she called you out when you needed it. There was nothing Rainbow needed more and nothing she'd rather not admit. Especially in front of like an entire restaurant and two particular mares that seemed to be leaning in the catch snippets of the argument...

 

This was too much...way...too...much...

 

Tears flowed freely now as Rainbow took to wing. She lofted up a few feet and spoke softly, her voice wavering.

 

"Ok..." She started to fly away. "You're right AJ...I'm afraid."

 

Rainbow flew as fast as she could towards Sweet Apple Acres. She had to get to Zap, like now. Her heart felt like it was bleeding and hugging her son close was the only thing she wanted now.

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Well, that went in an unexpected direction. Applejack was full of fire and vinegar and expected a blasting retort from Rainbow Dash, a fierce and rotund declaration that would continue to propel them forward in this fight. What happened instead was unexpected, and made Applejack retreat inside of herself in contemplation for a few moments of her precious time. Instead of the fierceness, instead of the expected rebuke, Rainbow Dash brought her wing up to her face. Applejack knew what that meant. Knew that for all of the fire and brimstone energy Rainbow Dash had, there was a soft core inside that was as vulnerable as anypony she had ever met. Then her wing came down, tears welling before she took flight and admitted that she was scared. And as quickly as Applejack was involved in the step by step of the fight, as quickly and easily as she had partaken in the viciousness once the barrier between cordiality and emotion had been broken, the will to engage was reversed within her. Rainbow Dash flew off in the direction of what Applejack knew instinctively to be Sweet Apple Acres. Her body moved in kind, but was blocked.

 

The manager was there and he looked relieved at the sight of Rainbow Dash flying away, but none too pleased about almost being run over. "Ma'am, you-" he began, his voice stern and focused, but not at all as stern or focused as Applejack's determined trot past him. "Sorry, gotta go. Nice place," she said in a hurry, not giving him the satisfaction of laying into her. She trotted past Lyra and Bon Bon and sighed, stopping ever briefly. "Ah gotta go. Rainbow..." she shook her head, "she's somthin', all right. Sorry 'bout ruining yer night out. Maybe we'll...get somethin' sorted an' we can do this again. Well not all tha fightin', but tha goin' out. Maybe," she said with very little confidence before continuing her move out. In no time she was out of the restaurant and once out she began a gallop towards Sweet Apple Acres. She wasn't sure if she was running to fight, running to comfort, or running just to run, but she knew at the very least the manner of her destination and that was enough for now.

 

Bon Bon waited for the engine that kept Sweet Apple Acres operating at peak chaotic production to mosey on out before turning to her mare with a churlish, Cheshire grin tickling her rose-hued features. "Dinner and a show, Lyra. They're always good for dinner and a show."

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Lyra couldn't help but smile back at her mare for a moment before leaning in a planting a firm kiss on her muzzle. Something about seeing other couples fighting made her feel even closer to Bon. "Well that was a good show, I'm ready for dinner!" She spoke just as the waiter arrived with their orders. "Guess we're gonna have some leftovers..." She spoke as four meals were dropped off. "Let's get done quick! I'm suddenly looking forward to spend some time with you at home," She gave Bon a sultry wink and then dug into her food.

----

 

Rainbow flew fast and furiously towards Sweet Apple Acres. She cried freely as she zipped through the air, the wind of flight wiping the tears away as quickly as they fell. She felt vulnerable, open and afraid. All the time of holding in her emotions was too much. She felt herself breaking even as the farm came into sight. Her heart was pulled in so many directions and she literally felt herself falling to pieces.

 

She'd felt this way before but it had been a while. Anypony who knew Rainbow knew she had a nasty habit of holding her true thoughts and emotions back until they wrecked her. She fumed too the AJ would choose to bring in the wrecking ball the way she had. Out in public, in front of friends and total strangers alike? How could she do that? Rainbow kicked herself mentally for letting Applejack take her down like that. She felt weak and alone and needed her son right now!

 

She swooped down to the farm house and hardly landed as she came inside. There was Big Mac, playing with the little guy in the kitchen. It looked like they had just finished up dinner. The smell of fresh apple pie was heavy in the room and Zap looked like her was have a great time with his uncle.

 

"Rainbow Dash?" Big Mac stood quickly, a worried look in his eyes. "I thought yah would 'ave been out much later. What are you doin' back so--"

 

"Zap!" Rainbow rushed to her son and wrapped him tight in her arms. She hugged him close, his sticky apple sauce smudged cheek sticking to hers. "Come on," She took to flight again, holding Zapper in her arms still.

 

"Um," Big Mac looked on. "You ok Rainbow?"

 

He ended up speaking to a swinging door. Rainbow was gone. 

 

Not long after the mare had a fire going in the pit she had built out in the hills of the western orchards. 

 

"You like that Zappers?" Rainbow tried to distract herself by putting all her efforts in showing Zap a fun evening.She had to make up for all the time she had neglected him. She felt so guilty now. Like she had traded precious time with her son for her job....for herself. The thought made her sick! It was true she was thoroughly and utterly selfish. Why hadn't she seen it before? She was an awful mom and a terrible partner for Applejack. Tears still streaked her cheeks as she hoofed Zap another marshmallow. 

 

"Leave it to Pinkie to keep the s'more supply stocked out here huh?"  She tried to chuckle but it came out as a weak whimper. 

 

"I've been..." She tried just telling Zap how she felt. He was really young still so it would be safe she figured. "I've been a terrible mom..." More tears. 

 

Rainbow glanced around into the darkness and shadows cast by the fire. She had no idea what she was doing. Her heart hurt so bad she didn't know what to do...

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Applejack was labored with regret as she galloped home. Guess getting all cleaned up was for a waste with how quickly she was moving back home, sending dirt and sweat flying as her tired body ignored the negative coronations of being unduly tired. She needed to get home. She needed to get home, and she needed to get home fast. She didn't know what she planned on doing or why she was going to do it, she just knew she needed to do something and it needed to be fast. Her head was swimming with the myriad possibilities, tinged with a bit of angst at the unbelievability of any of this happening at all. It was a hurricane of emotions that swallowed up the serenity of the sea and spit them all out, tangled and ruined in the tumult by forces barely understood by the ponies going through it.

 

She was still mad as hell at Rainbow Dash. This was to be a good night out. A night for them to be together and alone with another couple and able to enjoy one another's company without the incessant demands of work or family. Rainbow had decided to ruin it for no good reason other than she wanted to fight about it. But she wasn't the one who went for the throat, now was she? No, that Applejack. She hadn't let her mare off very easily, not at all. And while Rainbow had been the one who wanted to fight, it was Applejack who laid her harshest criticism out for all to see. She felt like an idiot. Rainbow was a sensitive mare behind all that bluster and she had went for some bruising commentary. Seeing Rainbow Dash well up and tear up was never easy in the best of circumstances and Applejack had ensured that it happened in public. How awful was that?

 

Pretty awful she reckoned. But Rainbow hadn't wanted it any other way. She didn't want to wait until they were alone to have it out. She wanted it public, she wanted it mean, she wanted it personal. Applejack felt awful...but being honest, she didn't really blame herself. Rainbow had made her bed and had to lay in it. Applejack had to be there to help her out of it so they could move on. Such were the roles they had today.

 

In almost no time at all, Applejack found herself rounding into the Orchards. Rainbow was somewhere in the Western Orchard. She could tell, the way the clouds above had been shorn in half and tossed about by tricks in its direction. She continued galloping but in due time started to slow, hearing Rainbow's sobs as she drew in. Soon she was at a treeline looking in on Rainbow and Zap, together. Rainbow looked like a mess. Zap Apple looked like he had made a mess, though Rainbow hadn't yet noticed. Applejack leaned against a tree and looked on in silence, allowing Rainbow to have her moments with Zap Apple- even tinged with sadness as they were now. Even then, such moments were beyond precious.

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Rainbow pulled her Zappers in close and cried. She glanced up and saw the little guy, his eyes full of unspoken questions, staring at her. He was sticky as can be from the marshmallows but Dash didn't care. She gave him a kiss on the cheek and sobbed.

 

"I don't know what to do Zap... I'm so so sorry! I'm selfish and well..." She sniffed hard. "I'm scared."

 

Her heart fell a little bit more. She had let AJ down, like let her down really badly. She wouldn't be surprised if her beautiful mare decided to leave her and take Zap away too. It would only be fair after the train wreck of a parent and spouse Rainbow had turned out to be. More tears streamed as she made another realization. She was supposed to be the element of loyalty. Ha! She figured she was the last thing from loyal. She was a disappointment to herself, to Zap, and most heartbreakingly to her beloved Applejack.

 

"I'm sorry AJ..." She croaked out into the darkness. She knew her mare couldn't hear her but she called out anyway. "I'm sorry I'm not good enough for you. You deserve the best of the best and I'm...not."

 

She let Zappers go back to mallow roasting and sucked in a breath. "I know you'll miss me little guy," She scrubbed his head with her hoof lovingly. "But I'm not sure I should be doing this... you know, raising you?"

 

Rainbow really was at a loss now. She felt like she should just leave. Just take Zap back to Big Mac and disappear. But she knew she couldn't do that. Her life was too intwined with everything in and around Ponyville. And she really really didn't want to anyway. It ripped at her heart to think of leaving Zapper and AJ. Should couldn't do it. AJ would have to tell her to leave for Rainbow to go.

 

She sat dejectedly on a log. "What am I gonna do?"

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Applejack took several deep breaths, trying to keep herself low enough to not disturb the scene in front of her. It was oddly cathartic, while still being heartbreaking. Applejack watched and listened to Rainbow Dash's...breakdown, for lack of a better word. It may as well have been the perfect one considering how deep Rainbow had sunk and how quickly it had happened. She had always been strong on the outside but capable of fracturing inside. Self-confidence was never her strong suit despite how much she seemed to possess. Applejack had heard about her backstage meltdown at the Best Young Fliers competition all those years ago. Ever since then she had appeared on the surface t be headstrong and in command of herself to a great degree. But Applejack knew the truth. Ponies evolved but the core was the core. Rainbow Dash was going to have her insecurities but she worked to keep them down and away from her mind. Strong waves of confidence almost always hid that the bedrock was full of fear. The fear of failure, and here she was thinking she had failed.

 

Applejack took another deep breath and started to walk towards her mare, picking up the confused and sticky Zap Apple in the process. He looked like he was about to cry. 'Filly see, filly do' as the saying went, even if he wasn't a filly. She shushed him and held him tight before placing him on her back. He held tightly to her mane and sniffled. There would be tears no doubt. You can't stop a foal when the tears were on their way, merely delay their arrival. Still, she had to talk to Rainbow. She wasn't a mare who cried easily and when she did so, she cried on the inside. That didn't mean that when she spoke her words weren't fragmented and broken in their own way, which was soon apparent. She reached out and pulled on Rainbow's shoulder, keeping the flightly pegasus firmly in her grasp. "Rainbow Dash, calm down. Nopony's sendin' anypony away. Like it or not, yer stuck with me an' Zap Apple here forever," she said as Zap Apple started to cry, his tears a long time coming. She sat next to Rainbow Dash and held onto Zap Apple, patting him on the back. She wanted to dig at Rainbow for causing all this mess, but it wasn't the time.

 

"Listen sugarcube, Ah know this is rough and tough an' it don't feel good. That's just how it is sometimes. Knowin' what we want and goin' for it, well, that's what makes us, us, right? We all have dreams an' wants. Yer lucky enough ta live yours. Ah'm lucky enough ta live mine. Y'all just need to think on whether whats in yer heart is what yer sayin' out loud," she said as she pulled Rainbow in closer, giving her a hug even as Applejack continued to sit next to her and stared off. "You ain't a bad filly. Yer just scared. It's no sin ta be afraid, 'specially when the road gets bumpy."

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Rainbow didn't know what to do when AJ materialized out of the darkness. Would she still be fuming? Would she be upset? The pegasus didn't know what to expect and she found her heart at a loss. She already felt bad for the things she had said and done. She wasn't one to think before she acted but, she knew... even brazen Rainbow Dash knew for sure that the way she had gone about things back at the restaurant was just plain wrong. It broke her heart because she loved Applejack with all her heart and it pained her that she had done what she had done.

 

But there was no rewinding life. Though she wished she could. She wasn't even sure she would have done anything differently. She had little check on her emotions and she doubted she would ever gain much more than she currently had. She of course also felt bad that she had pulled Zap out into the cold dark night without even trying to explain what was going on. When would she ever stop hurting the ponies she cared the most about?

 

"A-AJ?" She didn't know what to say but it did relieve her to see her mare picking up Zappers. The poor guy was so confused and even as she watched he started to cry.

 

More relief flooded in as Applejack assured her fickle mare that their little family wasn't going to be breaking apart. That was all it took for more tears to roll down RD's cheeks. She felt so much better in that moment, just knowing AJ would be by her side and not toss her aside for being the jerk she so obviously was... waaaaaay too often.

 

It still hurt her pride a little bit and she certainly was not used to letting ponies get away with saying it, but she was scared. For some reason, in that moment, RD felt herself pulled closer to AJ than she ever had before. She had never been with a pony in her weakness. She always ran and hid her imperfections from the world. She never shared that with anypony... and now she was, for the first time in her life, with the love of her life.

 

"I'm so sorry AJ..." She couldn't speak, and just cried. She moved closer until she could put her muzzle up close to AJ's neck and breath in her earthy scent. "You're right, I'm scared. But I feel better knowing I'm not going to loose you or Zap," She patted the little guy's head. "I shouldn't have done any of that back there... I'm ashamed AJ... you deserve so much better than that..."

 

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Rainbow's muzzle rested on Applejack's neck, the pegasi mare's halting breath and tears felt through the deep breaths she took when next to the earth mare. Applejack, for her part, didn't start crying or even showing much more than she already had. She allowed Rainbow the luxury of letting the good news sink in for a little bit. Indeed, it was good to hear that Applejack wasn't gonna be forcing anything untoward to happen. But as Zap Apple cried on her back and Rainbow's halted breath warmed her neck, Applejack remained stoic. She cared. She had shown she cared. In the midst of all this however, somepony had to be firm. It would have to be Applejack and even as she put one arm around Rainbow and patted her, she knew something was wrong between them. What had been said at dinner had been said after all, and there as little she could do but think it over.

 

It had come out more explosively than Rainbow would have liked, and she may even be ashamed of it now, but that didn't change what had happened and what Rainbow had said. Those words weren't born out of momentary malice, even if such an element charged them. They weren't spoken at random. They were deep inside Rainbow, harbored at the core of her being. It was the real her, even if she would have likely wanted to go about it in a better way, say it in a kinder manner.  That was what was sticking through everything else in Applejack's mind. There was a serious problem and they needed to have an adult conversation about them, about the future, and about what they needed in this life. It was a scary talk and she wasn't sure if they could do it alone, to boot. She knew where she stood and she knew that Rainbow may not have the strength for it. Not now, anyway.

 

"It ain't about what Ah deserve," Applejack said as she took the leg she was using to hug Rainbow and used it instead to gently pull her chin up to look at Applejack, who was as calm and composed as she could hope to be, "but what Ah have. It ain't about what you deserve, but whatcha have. And it ain't about what Zap here deserves, but what he has. Ah was pretty sure Ah knew what we all had, but Ah'm not sure- it ain't enough ta love one another. If we're gonna go any further with this and make it work, we need ta get help. All of us, 'cept for tha little stinker on mah back. Ah'll see who Ah can get, sure has ta be somepony good We'll be fine, Rainbow. It'll be fine. We just need ta...solve somethin', thats all."

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