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[Appleoosa] A friendly cup of coffee [Private]


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Maximilian Rockefilly Jr sighed, not from fatigue, or from some sort of apprehension, but out of a mixture of relief and an appreciation of what was to come. It was nearing noon, and the few hours preceding, and especially last night, were far more eventful and stressful than anything Max wanted to have dealt with. But dealt with it he had, and now he found himself in a far more pleasant situation. A mare, to be specific, and a pretty one at that. Madame Bistro, a former Manehattanite, like Max, was waiting for him for a cup of coffee, at her own bistro nonetheless! They'd each taken about an hour to spruce up, and while the businessmare may have spent her time attempting to pretty herself up (if any improvements were even possible), Max spent his precious moments fretting.

He'd been groomed for business, and apart from wooing potential partners and taking part in meaningless chatter, his ability to court a mare or even go on a simple date wasn't exactly up to par. Now he had the daunting task of starting, maintaining, and hopefully ending a conversation on a high note. He'd spoken with many mares, but every single encounter was about business and bottom lines. How would he fare speaking to a mare he actually fancied? Only time would tell.

His nervousness made itself apparent in the hour before he showed up, Max had changed his clothes at least five times, hoping to find the perfect outfit, before settling on the tux he'd been originally wearing. Now, he stood in front of the Bistro, and he made one final adjustment, shifting the flower on his lapel ever so slightly.

"Well... here goes..."

After a nervous gulp, Max lightly pressed a hoof to the front door and let himself in. He put on his most professional demeanor, cleared his throat and spoke as un-nervously as he could manage.

"Madame Bistro? It's Maximilian..."

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Thorn had watched in wonder as his boss had spent the last hour rushing around, fussing and fretting over herself and making sure the espresso and coffee machines were at peak performance.

After yet another look at herself, she gasped and galloped to her room.

On her way, she yelled over her shoulder "Thorn! Make sure you get my private stash ready! STAT!"

Thorn shook his ears in wonder "I wonder what could have Madam in such a tizzy? This is even more over the top than when Mr. Rockefilly and Miss Snowfall came in the other day."

Frantic thundering hooves sounded fro her room as she rushed about doing... whatever it is mares do while he got out some of her private coffee collection and started preparing it.

What shook him was the sudden agonized wail of "I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!"

The biggest chink in the unflappable donkey's mental armor was any female being upset. Since this was his boss, it was worse on his nerves.

He quickly trotted to her door and knocked "Madam, are you all right?"

An agonized sob came from behind the door. "I kinda... sorta... have a date very, very s-soon! - A real date, not a business date... I literally cannot remember the last time I had a date-date! I'm PATHETIC!"

She sobbed for a full minute before Thorn knocked again "You have plenty of fine dresses your date cant have seen before that look smashing on you.

Listen, Madam Caramel Bistro, If your date is this evening, may I suggest that blueberry blue one you ordered from Carousel Boutique from Miss Rarity's new Full Spectrum Fashion line. If it's in the daylight, might I suggest that cream colored one with caramel colored trim. You were so proud to have gotten that one from Hoity-Toity's boutique in Canterlot."

There was a moment of silence, then a sniffle and the sound of a nose being blown. "T-thank you T-thorn...I..i can always count on you..."

Sighing in relief, Thorn trotted back to finish preparing coffee while Bistro frantically got herself ready.

about 10 minutes went by, when Maximilian entered and announced himself. "Ah, good afternoon, Mr. Rockefilly. Madam will be out momentarily. It seems she has a date of some kind this evening, and she must really be impressed by this stallion as much of a tizzy as she has been in this past hour trying to make herself presentable..."

Thorn suddenly went wide-eyed as he realized that Max was oddly nervous and had paid even more attention to detail on himself than he had that morning before the tour.

"*ahem* Excuse me, is her date... You, by any chance?"

After a moment, Madam Bistro came out of her room and stopped at the sight of Max already there in her bistro. She blushed, suddenly shy, as she composed herself and trotted forward wearing the cream colored dress in a similar style to her normal burgundy, with a matching victorian stlye hat adorned with white and yellow pegasus feathers. "G-good afternoon, Max.. May I call you max? It is so good to see you here, and right on time."

Inside she quivered and thought * Oh Celestia! I'm babbling arent' I? *

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Thorn had answered the door, and Max found himself awkwardly adjusting his tie, trying to figure out the most polite way to inform the donkey that yes, he was in fact Madame Bistro's intended date. Fortunately, the mare of the hour appeared and put everything straight. Maximilian turned to face her, in order to thank her properly for her well timed intervention, but he quickly found himself gawking (rather uncharacteristically) at the mare before him.

"Celestia's grace... you may call me anything you like, Madame Bistro, especially when you look as ravishing as /that/, I fear the only thing I'll be able to call you is beautiful..."

A massive blush quickly rushed across the stallion's face, and he quickly motioned to the door before stammering a bit. "I mean... uh... you look nice, and... um... I-I thought maybe we could go for a little stroll before coming back here to grab some coffee and maybe have a little chat about things?"

Dear Celestia, she must thing I'm a babbling idiot!, he thought to himself.

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Madam Bistro blushed brightly at the handsome businesspony's sweet praise, her heart skipping a beat.

Her doe-like freeze up ended when she saw Max blush just as brightly as herself and ask her to go for a stroll before coffee.

The Mocha Mare smiled sweetly and put her folding fan away It would give them a chance to loosen up around each other before they actually have the coffee. "I would be honored to, Max."

Caramel Bistro shyly offered her hoof "Care to lead the way, kind sir?"

Thorn rolled his eyes good naturedly as he thought. * Silly ponies, acting like this around each other. No sir, He wont act like that for some jenny. Donkeys are practical.. And that new Jenny in town doesnt make your heart flutter? Riiiight... *

With a slight blush over his thoughts, Thorn waves "All right you two, have fun. Coffee will be at the peak of readieness when you get back."

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Max patted down the front of his tux and chuckled nervously. "I would... ah... be honored!"

Ever so gently, the ex-manehattanite took the lady's hoof and slowly led her towards the door. His heart was pounding, normally Maximilian was renowned for his ability to stay cool under pressure and keep his emotions under wrap, but something about Madame Bistro just set his heart all topsy-turvy. He found himself having to pause to catch his breath on multiple occasions.

"Um... I was wondering if we could just take a stroll around town, not really go anywhere in particular?"

The stallion opened the door with his magic and led Madame Bistro outside. "It would be a nice chance to talk a little bit, get to know each other. It's a shame to say I don't know much about you other than your coffee, although I doubt there's anypony that doesn't know of your heavenly brews.."

Another blush and a shy smile found their way onto Max's face as he started to trot towards the center of town.

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The Mocha Mare was feeling quite excited as a hoof touched hers.

After a moment, Caramel bobbed her head "Oh yes, nowhere in particular sounds like a wonderful idea..." She gulped shyly

She smiled as she heard what Max had to say "Yes, I am just as much in the dark about you. I am sure the tabloids have not painted a true picture of anypony famous since that dreary publishing pony, Randolf Horse started the first one a century ago."

She took a breath and let it out "Yes a walk will loosen our tensions, let us speak more freely. Shall we see where our... hooves take us then?"

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He felt a blush rush to his face as she passed. She really was beautiful. Suddenly he remembered that he had to look at and talk to the pretty mare at the same time.

"Well, the tabloids do their job, unfortunately for me ,most ponies want ridiculous stories rather than the truth. I've been asked all sorts of terrible questions, especially about my late father. I'm sure the press hasn't always been so kind to successful mare like yourself."

Maximilian sighed, he wasn't terribly upset, but he normally didn't talk about such things. It was nice to have somepony he could talk with. Of course, not everything that was said was false, but it was like that for everyone. Awkwardly, Max rubbed the back of his neck and faced Madame Bistro.

"Just curious...what have you heard about me? If your going to know the real Maximilian Rockefilly Jr, then I need to know where we're starting from."

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Madam Bistro walked along with a light blush, trying real hard not to kill the moment.

She thought a moment, then spoke "Well, only if you do the same in return, Max." She smiled wryly, thinking of the accusations that she runs barista and innkeeper ponies out of business when she opens her shop, and worse.

Showing her lack of belief in the tabloids, she wryly rolled her eyes skyward reciting the stuff her customers brought in to read, even if she banned the sales of them from her locations after a few articles on her. "The tabloids painted you as a pony who got the reins of empire too early. A pony who sees only Bits and not the ponies around you that you make all this from. Running ponies out of business when they displease you. that sort of gossip... And they had a big laugh when your mansion was devoured by weeds."

She patted his shoulder "I've heard similar claptrap about me and my family though.The Princesses really need to tighten up the Libel laws even if her Nobles get their jollies off these rags. (OOC: I imagine Diamond Tiara heading to Manehattan to head a tabloid when she grows up...)

She giggles at a thought "Perhaps the tabloid reports on the Princesses and cake eating and Night mare Night mayhem will push them into it?"

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"Well, I wouldn't call all of it libel. Some of it is true."

He smiled softly, looking over towards the mare who walked beside him. "Who knows, maybe some of the things I've heard about you are true as well? For instance, apparently you've been mixing your beans with some low quality pre-ground stuff in order to cut costs. And I've even heard that you opened one of your shops next to an older place and had them bankrupt in a week before tearing down their building to make room for an addition!"

The unicorn chuckled playfully and shook his head. "I don't believe for a second you'd sacrifice quality, and I don't see you as a ruthless business mare, even if you are passionate... I know ruthlessness all too well."

Now Maximilian had to decide whether or not to let her in on the truth, or deny all claims as patently false. On one hoof, he could try to hide his past a little longer, and maybe come off as a victim as the press. Or... he could tell her the truth, let Madame Bistro know that some of what was said is true, and risk scaring her off. Well, the Rockefilly was trying to turn over a new leaf, he couldn't expect anypony to see him differently if he didn't at least try. Maybe she'd be scared off, decide that a stallion with such a past wasn't worth it, but it would be his fault, and it was a risk he had to take.

Before the whole incident with the weeds, I was a very greedy, selfish, ruthless stallion who often would run ponies out of business, and often simply because I could. I'm not proud of who I used to be, but I'm trying to change."

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The Mocha Mare listened to Max and watched him as he had a troubled look on his face.

She thought she caught the moment he made a decision and spoke about how much of it was true about himself.

Caramel was silent for a moment as she walked along, then she shook her head and spoke "All that about I and my family is why I banned the sale of tabloids in my entire chain. We cant' stop customers from bringing them in though. Some even read them aloud."

She moved a step closer as they walked along to show she was not put off. "I admit I was wary when you came into town because of those rumors, warning the rest of the town council to be careful, just until we could see for ourselves how much of it was the truth. the margin of error was too slim to take chances otherwise. "

She smiled brightly at Max. "We still went the extra mile to be friendly because that is everything the town is, and we were not disappointed. The stallion we have seen, one who is betting everything he has, and is, on this town is not the stallion in the tabloids, not anymore. We like the Max we see so I guess your efforts are working."

She winks in a gentle tease "Next thing you know, Some tabloid will say you are a changeling next time you visit Manehattan and show the new you off..."

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"Believe me, the press is already having a hard time buying the new me. I wouldn't be surprised if ponies started testing me to see if I'm real or not." Max chuckled and bumped Madame Bistro's shoulder lightly. She took his words a lot better than he had expected, and her response certainly put him at ease.

"Initially, I just wanted to buy the town, and simply run everything from Manehattan. But... you all gave me a chance. I guess that's partly why I want Appleoosa to succeed so badly, because this town has done more for me than Manehattan ever did."

With a smile, Maximilian continued to trot, eventually the pair of them passed by a few landmarks in town, and the white Unicorn felt obliged to keep the conversation going before they returned to the coffee shop. "I just realized... it's kind of silly, but I don't even know your full name... unless your parents named you 'Madame'..." Max blushed, almost embarrassed by his admission, hopefully she wouldn't think any less of him for simply asking.

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Bistro giggled as the stallion bumped shoulders with her.

She smirked and shrugged at the admission of his plans "Ah well, running the town all the way from Manehattan would not have worked anyway. We're on the frontier, and that usually attracts ponies as stubborn as mules..."

The mare looked over at the porch of the Salt Lick "Er, No offense."

A placid grey mule brayed and chuckled "...None taken..."

She giggled and continued trotting along with Max. "And I am glad you found you like it here, Max, as I have."

Bistro giggled at the next question. "Oh Celestia no, I started calling myself "Madam" when I started my first location in Manehattan Station. Just a touch of the mysterious, eh?

She lightly bumps her shoulder with his "My full name is Miss Caramel Mocha Bistro, and my parents are Java Joe Bistro and Chocolate Eclare'. I also have a brother, Maxwell House."

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Max simply nodded, taking the new information to heart. "It's a beautiful name... May I address you as 'Caramel'?"

He was a little unsure about making such an audacious request, but he felt that a casual atmosphere might make future conversations that much easier.

"If you're ok with that, of course." he eventually added.

Soon, the coffee shop came into view, and Max picked up the pace.

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The Mocha Mare giggled and blushed at the request, her wavy tail flicked happily as he added asking if she was ok with it.

"Oh, yes, of course Max. I would be happy for you to do that."

She giggles as he starts to walk faster as the shop comes back into view.

Caramel nudges him and winks "Perhaps one day we can make this a race, when I'm not so well dressed..."

In moments, they had come to the door and she looked to see if he would get the door for her.

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Max nodded happily, content that she would grant him his request. It meant a lot, being able to drop the formalities around other ponies, especially ones that Max fancied. Of course, as they approached the door, he picked up the pace and used his magic to open it for her.

"Mares first, of course" He nodded politely and watched Madame Bistro stroll past him and into the coffee shop.

After she had passed, Maximilian followed after and located a nice table. The unicorn used his magic to pull out a seat for Madame Bistro, as he himself lay on one of the cushions near a table. "Well, Caramel, shall we share a cup of coffee?"

He didn't bother to tell her what he wanted, he frequented her shop enough for her to know that he liked a nice, strong cup of coffee without cream or sugar.

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Caramel felt a happy wiggle come over her as she went through the doorway. "Why thank you Max, such a gallant gentlecolt."

She smiled brightly when her cushion scooted out for her. "Thank you again, kind sir."

The Mocha Mare looked at Thorn "Oh of course. Thorn, Max will have his usual, and I will have a Caramel Mochalatte'..." She raised her hoof in a operatic aside "My parents made that in my honor when i got my Cutie Mark..."

She thought it strange for a moment, that the room was so empty, even for the afternoon slack-time... Ohh The Sherrif and Louise must have put the word out. How romantic of them!

Caramel smiled a bit brighter at the thought. "Oh yes, Max, would you care for some dessert later? My location in Dodge Junction just worked a deal for a recipie for something called a Cherrychanga, as long as we use produce from Cherry Jubilee's orchards. We would be the first in Appleoosa to try them."

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"How could I ever say no? I'll be sampling a fine treat /and/ be with the most beautiful company in Equestria!"

Max shifted a bit, finding the perfect position on the couch. He found his gaze lingering on Madame Bistro every now and then, practically unable to take his eyes off of her.

As he waited for the coffe, the Rockefilly decided to get their conversation going again.

"Well, Caramel, what should I know about you, other than your business?"

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Caramel smiled as she shyly rubbed her hoof on the table. "Well, I am a bit of a workaholic, but I am relearning how to have fun out here. I've recently started collecting frontier memorabelia, from towns that had once upon a time been the edge of Equestria as Appleoosa is now. I've gotten some nice finds in from Ponyville last week."

She looked up to his eyes "Also, I was quite the dancer in the clubs back when i still had free time working for my parents, and in college learning practical business skills. I'm afraid slightly out-of-date Manehattan dances arent much in demand out here it would seem, but I am learning the western moves. How about you? Do you dance?"

As the coffee was about ready, Thorn watched his boss. seeing she was still acting quite shy -her tail flicking in agitation, out of sight of Max behind the table. He chuckled to himself that this mare was more confident tackling buisness deals than being herself...

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[colour=#0014a8]"Dance?!"[/colour] Max cleared his throat and looked away for a moment. [colour=#0014a8]"No no no no no... I mean... I've done ballroom before, at galas and other such parties. But never... for fun! It seems so juvenile, simply flailing around in front of everypony... No thank you."[/colour]

He tapped a hoof on the table, thinking for a moment. What else was there to say? Max found himself struggling to continue the conversation. He'd rather be in a boardroom, or anywhere where he could discuss business, not regular life!

[colour=#0014a8]"That's something I'll need to adjust to, honestly. All the contact and intimacy is something I'm not used to at all. Heck, my own father refused to give me hugs, and now I'm expected to embrace strangers! It's a lot to get used to, that much is true...."[/colour]

Maximilian looked back at Caramel and tried his best to keep things moving. [colour=#0014a8]"Was it hard for you to adjust?"[/colour]

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Caramel smiled and peered at him over steepled hooves as he seemed shocked at dancing for fun.

Yes, here was someone who needed to learn how to dance for fun, even if just for the town celebrations.

Fortunately, her pose kept her from showing her great shock at his revelation about his upbringing.

Immediately, she put up her business face until she got her reaction under control before he could see it.

Caramel thought * Oh dear Celestia! No wonder he's been painted as a monster! He's been raised as harshly as a griffon and expected to deal with normal ponies. Oh, poor Max...* as her heart went out to him.

She nodded to him, eager for a way out of potentially embarrasing him with her concern.[colour=#800000] "Yes, it was quite the culture shock coming here to Appleoosa. It took me a few weeks to really relax around ponies far nicer than we tend to find in any of the cities."[/colour]

She leaned forward with her smile set to "charm +10"... [colour=#800000]"Given that dancing seems to be the town sport, it would behoove us business types to try and fit in. Would you like to come here on free evenings and dance with me in private, Max? I am quite rusty at it and quite frankly need the exercise. I feel it would help... our confidence with the townsponies and not feel like we have four left hooves hm?"[/colour]

As she waited for a response, Thorn stepped up with their coffees.

Caramel took them and set the on the table "[colour=#800000]Thank you Thorn, And we will be trying the cherrychangas as soon as you can heat up the icing drizzle for them."[/colour]

The jack nodded [colour=#696969]'Very good, Madam."[/colour] and trotted back to the front counter.

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Maximilian sat there, feeling uncomfortable for a moment after revealing something so personal, but the lack of any disconcerting response or obnoxious show of emotion put him at ease. He didn't need ponies feeling sorry for him, he didn't need ponies feeling anything for him, at least, that's what he thought. Private lives were meant to be private, nopony need know of his difficulties as a child, or even his lack of a real foalhood, those things were best kept hidden, forever.

He listened to Madame Bistro tell him of her own struggle in acclimating, but quickly her focus turned towards... private dancing sessions? A blush quickly rushed onto the white Unicorn's face, and he swiftly moved a napkin up to wipe at his nose, attempting to conceal it. [colour=#0014a8]"I don't see why not, if I have a few nights open I'd love to try and be a better dancer."[/colour]

Thoughts of romantic evenings, sharing coffee and dancing the night away with such a pretty mare flowed through Max's mind, leaving him speechless and with a goofy smile on his face for a moment.

[colour=#0014a8]"Ah, yes! The Coffee! I.. I was just thinking about that!"[/colour] With a nervous chuckle Max levitated the cup up to his mouth and took a deep sip. The brew was still burning hot, but Max liked it that way. His father had always made it a point to drink his coffee while it still burned, and Max simply followed suit. The pain gave way to an earthy and bold taste that was simply divine.

[colour=#0014a8]''Oh, Caramel, I've said this before but you know how to make a cup of coffee, you're going to make a Stallion very happy someday."[/colour] Almost as soon as those words left his mouth, Max went wide eyed and quickly took another sip, hoping not to say anything else stupid.

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(OOC; I'm going to guess any encounter with Max and Poison Joke will involve temporary foalhood... ;) )

Caramel mentally sighed in relief as Max did not seem to catch any sign of her initial distress at his being raised so sternly.

She smiled brightly at the blush he tried to hide concerning her offer. Her heart fluttered as he slowly broke into a grin as he seemed to be thinking over the possibilities. Her mind nearly shouted *Oh, he's going to say yes! *

Caramel fluttered her fan before her muzzle.[colour=#800000] "Very well, I have a record player and as you well know, the room over there for private discussions. Nopony can bother us while we brush up on dancing when you wish it."[/colour]

Caramel's hoof holding her fan stopped moving as she blushed brightly, showing her suddenly shy smile. Her eyes shone as she looked into his [colour=#800000]"Um y-yes, I certainly hope to someday..." [/colour]she said in a whistful tone. *...soon..* she mentally added.

She nearly jumped when Thorne politely cleared his throat [colour=#696969]"Your Cherrychangas, Madam, and Mr. Rockefilly..."[/colour]

Caramel blushed a deeper plum for a moment, then recovered[colour=#800000] "Er, yes, t-thank you Thorne...", [/colour]nodding as the jack set the dishes and silver ware down and retreated to the counter.

She spared a glance to the Privacy room, then back at the dessert [colour=#800000]"I am glad you enjoy my private stash of coffee, Max. Is the cherrychanga to your liking so far?"[/colour]

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[OOC: Good guess, but poison joke just makes it impossible for Max to lie, everything that comes out of his mouth is true XD ]

She didn't react too badly to his comment, causing Max to sigh in relief. Good, he hadn't bucked up their soiree yet, so the conversation could continue. After a deep breath and a moment to collect himself, Maximilian set down the cup of coffee and steepled his hooves on the table, looking over them at Caramel. He had noticed that look in her eyes, and it gave him a chill as their eyes were locked for only a brief moment.

Thorn showed up and Max also jumped a little, caught unawares by the jack. [colour=#0014a8]"Yes, thank you, these look delicious."[/colour]

The Rockefilly levitated a fork towards the treat, and carefully tore off a piece before putting it in its mouth. He gave a few thoughtful chews before swallowing. Max's hoof brushed his chin a few times as he thought, mulling over the taste, texture, etc...

[colour=#0014a8]"Good... very good. The sweetness of the treat is just right, not too overpowering but definitely cherry. I feel like a bitter coffee would go best with it, maybe the one I'm drinking? The aftertaste is a bit much, but that's probably just my personal preferences... Overall, a scrumptious treat, fit for any cafe."[/colour] He dabbed at his mouth with a napkin before setting the fork down and taking another sip of coffee.

[colour=#0014a8]"So... um.. Caramel... would you like to adjourn to that room over there? I keep seeing how you look at it..."[/colour]

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Caramel ate her cherrychanga daintily, giving herself time to judge it as well while she waited on Max's opinion.

She let out a sigh of relief as he enjoyed his too.[colour=#800000] "Thank you, Max. We can try making a batch without a frosting drizzle another time then, and see how those taste."[/colour]

The Mocha Mare's ear twitched as he suggested going to the privacy room.[colour=#800000] "Oh.. Oh yes, certainly!" [/colour]

The mare arose from her cushion and allowed Max to lead the way.[colour=#800000] "I hope you would not mind dancing on such short notice if you feel up to it, Max. I must have Thorn bring out the record player forthwith with some appropriate music..."[/colour]

She blinked as she looked in, seeing the tables were already out of the way, and the record player was already set up with a selection of records on a table nearby. [colour=#800000]"Oh my, It would seem my Thorn is quite the able assistant..."[/colour]

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Max grinned, thankful that he wasn't the only one nervous about their first evening together. The mocha mare's ear twitch didn't go unnoticed, and the Rockefilly kept any comments to himself as he got up. Maximilian trotted towards the private room, not in any particular hurry, simply wishing to drag every moment out of the night he could.

The room was already set up for a dance, and Max took a moment to wonder if he had been set up the whole time. He shrugged that idea off, certain that Madame Bistro would have the courtesy to inform him of any such decisions beforehoof. He decided to take the first steps inside, lightly brushing past Caramel as he entered the room. The white unicorn took a moment to analyze his surroundings, there was ample space for dancing, and privacy would be assured. With a content sigh, Max used his magic to loosen his tuxedo.

[colour=#0014a8]"It gets dreadfully hot out west, and I don't want to get all sweaty before bed... Now... laissez-nous commencer, Oui?"[/colour] Max extended a hoof and grinned, [colour=#0014a8]"A little ballroom to start, perhaps? I need to get my bearings..."[/colour]

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