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Stallions and Mares (closed)


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"Well, that was a pretty intrestin' show..." Applejack mused as she made her way back to Sweet Apple Acres. The farm mare took a deep breath as she trotted through the light layer of snow, thoughts swirling in her head.


"You can say that again!" Rainbow glanced over at her friend and smiled. "I mean you couldn't usually get me anywhere near a fashion show, but that one wasn't bad. I mean it was one of Rarity's shows."


"Yep, if any pony knows how to show off a set of dresses its Rarity!" She tried to sound excited but it was kind of obvious that something was nagging her. "That's one pony who knows her way around gettin' gussied up!"


"Seriously! Did you see that final dress? What did she call it again?" Rainbow's eyes glimmered as she remembered all the sparkling jewels and white lace that had layered over the fashion model filly like snow.


"Sugarplum Snow." Applejack flicked her mane back as she continued to trot under the Sweet Apple Acres sign. "That's the one she had Valen in wasn't it?"


"Yeah!" Rainbow looked over at her friend again. "So, are you cool with seeing him in Rarity's show? I mean it is a little...well, I don't know... I mean he is a stallion isn't he?"


As they trotted towards the farmhouse Applejack slowed to a walk. "I'm all for stickin' up for who you are. I mean we've all had to do that over the years. It's just... well..." Her voice trailed off. This was a little hard for her to talk about.


"I get it AJ." Rainbow walked on as they talked. She shivered a little as a stray snowflake landed on her muzzle. 


Applejack let out a breath. It turned into mist in front of her. It was fairly late in the evening and it was getting colder out. "Valen's a stallion, but he sure don't act like it. I guess I just wonder if he's really happy dressing as a mare. Just seems like it would get confusing living that way. He's family so I care about him. That's all."


"You know...maybe we should talk to him about it. He's staying on the farm tonight right?"


"I guess you're right. It might be a little hard to bring up though." Applejack held the door open for her friend.


"Let's just see how it goes. I mean how bad could it be?" Rainbow smiled and trotted inside. 

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When shows went off swimmingly despite the possibility for disaster, Valen was enlivened by experiencing it. Every show was a similar theme to some extent and to the untrained eye they were patterned similarly as well, but Valen knew the full scope of the efforts such shows entailed. It stood to reason that of course one of the few ponies in Equestria capable of handling a show of this energy was Rarity, but that wasn't even the half of it. Gilded Lilly had been contacted about the show not long before it began, forcing Valen to get into his feminine half quickly and without as much time as he was accustomed. Still, working with one of Equestria's most talented designers was something of a dream come true, and he made sure to give it his all.

As the fates would have it however, it would not be easy. His cousin Applejack and one of Applejack's friends, a pegasus by the name of Rainbow Dash, attended the show. Valen had to make a concerted effort to not look or stare or acknowledge their presence as special or unnerving. He stole glances when he could, but couldn't tell what was going on. Nonetheless, he believed he had done a bang up job at the show. It never hurt when the designer created something as beautiful as Sugarplum Snow, which really allowed the attention to be called to the wonderful design in play rather than the model. Rarity didn't know that Valen was Gilded Lilly, which made the whole deal more nerve-wracking but in the end successful.

After the show, Valen went off to the woods and took care of his features. The makeup was taken care of, the hitch in his trot was removed, he worked on his vocal cords, and his mane was returned to normal. Normally there would be more to do but his time had been precious coming into the event and in oprder to make it work at Sweet Apple Acres, his time was precious still. If he got back there in due time than the story he had told would hopefully work out. With all due haste, Valen made his way back to Sweet Apple Acres. He was staying there for several weeks while his parents were out on an overseas business trip. They had made the offer for him to come, but he had already lined up some jobs. Luckily, Sweet Apple Acres was a great location, thanks to the ponies that lived there and a train station nearby. He grabbed the basket of vegetables he had purchased earlier and left at this spot as part of the cover. In all honesty it had taken about a minute, but it would work as a cover.

As long as nothing went wrong of course, so he made sure to double time it back. In no time at all he found himself in front of the barn door. He played with his mane a little to get the stray strands back down, took a deep breath, and opened the door. “I'm back! Sorry it took a little longer, but you know how it can go with some of them. I believe some ponies desire the bartering process to be even more tiresome than it is already! I'll put the basket on the table,” Valen said to nopony in particular, trotting into the kitchen- not having seen anypony just yet.

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  • 2 weeks later...



The town friends made their way into the kitchen of the farm house. It was much warmer inside which they both seemed grateful for.


"Whew!" Rainbow shook a couple snow flakes out of her forelocks. "It was colder out there than I thought."


"Ah know! It's been a pretty cold winter alright." Applejack trotted over to the fridge and pulled out some cider. After bringing three mugs to the table she set the cider over the fire. "I'll have this warmed up for us in a jiffy Rainbow." The mare's voice still sounded a little absent.


"You know AJ... it's kinda obvious you don't want to have this conversation with Valen." She pushed one of the mugs around as she took a seat at the table. She watched her friend occupy herself with getting some cider ready. "But we both know it would be better to just get it done with. And don't worry, I'll be right here for you!"


"Thanks sugar cube, Ah appreciate you stickin' by my side like this," She smiled a winning smile at her friend.


I'm back!


"Ok, let's just act normal ok?" Rainbow got the mugs ready as Applejack carefully took the steaming cider kettle off the fire.
"Yup, just a normal night of friends and family talkin' and havin' fun together!" AJ put on her smile and tilted her hat back a little. What could happen? They were family!
As Valen trotted in Applejack started pouring out some cider. "Valen! Welcome back cousin! Did take ya longer than Ah thought it would to get your business done. Take a seat, we're just gettin' some cider warmed up."
"Hey Valen! What's up? Sit down and take a load off!"
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Valen smelled the cider just as clearly as he saw it. Sweet Apple Acres produced cider that had a certain aroma to it and made it famous all across Equestria. It had an earthy froth to it and smelled strong off the tap. The smell subsided over time, but the hope was the same- that the wonderful first image would stick with you and add to the ambiance, allowing that small lingering aftersmell to be more than enough to carry the day. Couple that with the one of a kind taste? It was easily the best cider in Equestria, yes. So well respected that even in high society situations with ponies who wouldn't be caught dead drinking anything but the finest Equestria had to offer, Sweet Apple Acres cider more often than not found somepony there who couldn't help but share a mug or three.

Which is to say that when the cider came up, Valen almost salivated.

“Oh, that smells delicious. Tell me, do I detect a hint of loam?” Valen asked, proud that his pay attentionness at Sweet Apple Acres had given him knowledge of soil types. Whatever it took to impress Applejack in that regard, who was being more than kind in allowing him to stay at Sweet Apple Acres for such an extended time. And her friend Rainbow was here, an added boon. He hadn't dealt with her much if it all, but she seemed nice. And both of them seemed very...excited today. Especially Rainbow, whom Valen had no meaningful interaction with. Well, she was a Ponyville pony. Probably was just wanting to try to be as accommodating as Applejack. That was a very tall order! “Oh, it's nice to see you too, Rainbow Dash. What brings you two together on this fine day?” He asked, taking his seat.

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  • 1 month later...



Applejack finished pouring the cider and took a seat near by Rainbow. She smiled at her cousin as he made the comment.

"Yep! You've learned a thing or three since you showed up on the farm haven't you cousin?" She sipped her own mug appreciatively. "Loam, sweet grass, and the best darn tootin' apples in all of Equestria! MMMMhhhmmmm! That's the good stuff." She sipped her drink again.

"Well, AJ here told me all about her awesome cousin and I figured I better meet you if you were half as cool as she said you were." Rainbow had seen lots of Valen tonight. In fact, it had been her job for the night. AJ had asked a favor and Rainbow couldn't refuse her best friend. Applejack had had an inkling about her cousin and who better to watch out for him than Rainbow? Rainbow had seen enough to know that Valen had gone to the fashion show as a stallion, preform on stage as a mare, and change back into a stallion before coming back to the farm. She had to admit it had been a good show. The lighting effects, the music, the awesome designs by Rarity and her crew.

Both mares found their heads spinnig a bit, trying to figure out how to talk to Valen about what they knew. If it were up to Rainbow they would have just left well enough alone, but it wasn't enough for Applejack. She cared too much about her family to just leave Valen in his predicament. He might not see it as one but there just seemed to be something unnatural about a stallion parading around as a mare for fun.

"We just got back from Rarity's show." Applejack set down her mug. "It was a pretty great performance, all those mares done up in all sorts of fancy get up."

"Yeah, I don't even like all that fancy stuff and I was still impressed."

Just then AJ eyed something coming from the corner of the bag Valen had left at the edge of the doorway. It looked just like the fabric they had seen on the dress Valen had worn in the show...

"Just curious cousin, but what's that in your bag? Looks sorta sparkly and pretty."

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Valen had an expertly laid blush prepared for just this sort of scenario, since it was rare he could show off what knowledge of the farm he had been able to soak up in his time there. He took a sip of the day's brew- as usual, superb. You couldn't make a better cider as far as he was concerned and you most certainly couldn't get the sort of apples that went into this. The best apples in Equestria- this wasn't a boast, but a promise. "This is delicious! As always, Sweet Apple Acres makes the best cider in the world. I was at the market in Manehattan and your cider is consistently voted best in town," he said, drinking some more.

What was even sweeter than the beautiful cider was the sweet things Applejack had been telling Rainbow, apparently. Would anything he do be called awesome by a semi-Wonderbolt? As far as they were aware he was simply a city colt with a taste for education and some business, pleasant but not special. So what was it that WAS noteworthy? Probably just family friendliness. "Well, nice to hear that Applejack has nice things to say. I guess since I know my loam, I'm really ticking up on the scales of a proper Apple-pony, yes?" he laughed, "are you on the roster for the Wonderbolts' Summer Sun Shows in Manehattan?" He asked as they started talking about the show.

Yes, the show. Sugarplum Snow had been a beautiful piece and Rarity was a wonderful designer. It was rare for a dress to be both beautiful and cute, being attractive and feminine while being something you could see in day to day life, retaining the amazing qualities of style while not breaking down the barrier into pretentiousness- but Sugarplum Snow was that, and Rarity was the best. But they were there? he wouldn't have taken the job if he had known, but no matter. Nopony had ever connected the dots and Rarity was behind the scenes. If she didn't, nopony could. "Oh? I don't pay much attention. I hear Rarity is a good fashion designer though. Didn't know you two would like such excursions," he added idly, being purposefully not very engaging there.

And then AJ asked about his bag. He gave a quizzical look and turned around. Crud! He had forgotten to finish packing everything appropriately, leaving the outer layer of Sugarplum Snow in the light, reflecting just the tiniest bit. Okay. Okay. She didn't know just yet, but he had to be smart. "Oh. That. Umm......................................"

He blanked. Super smart.
"OH! I, uhh, got Apple Bloom something."

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  • 2 weeks later...


"You bet!" Rainbow gulped down her mug of cider in excitement at the thought of the Wonderbolts show. Recently she had been added to more the the flight team's rosters. It seemed she was little by little making her dream come true. It could be any day that Spitfire asked her to become a full fledged member of the crew. As of yet, she was still on reserve. But Rainbow had wondered how they needed to resort to a reserve flier so often. In the back of her mind Rainbow made a note to speak with the Wonderbolts Captain on the matter. For now though , they had other business to get to the bottom of.

The pegasus listened as Valen made a cover up for the material in his possession. It was obvious he was making up an answer on the spot. Both the mares new what the fabric really was but neither wanted to just out and say it. This was a tricky matter they were dealing with and each mare had her reasons for not going about things too quickly.

"Well golly, that's nice o' you cousin!" Applejack set down her mug and trotted up to the bag. That fabric had to be Sugar Plum Snow's same material. If Applejack knew anything about Rarity she wouldn't have more than one of a dress she had just finished designing. Her unicorn friend really didn't like mass production. This was either a scrape from the workroom, which she doubted. Or...the dress itself.

Applejack thought for a moment. She could just pull the dress out and get things over with or ask Valen what it was he had brought for Apple Bloom. The mare took a breath. If they were ever going to get things talked about it just had to be done. Before Valen could do anything about it the farm mare had unzipped the edge of the bag and pulled forth the dress! She trotted back to the table and laid in gently down, out of the way of the cider or anything else that might ruin the lovely thing.

"That's quite a gift Valen." Rainbow looked at Apple Jack for a moment. She had pulled out the dress, she was going to have to take the helm on this one.

"Valen...we know you weren't at the market tonight sugar cube. You mind tellin' me what you've really been up to?" Her voice was soft and calm. She wasn't upset, she just wanted her family to be honest with her.

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Valen wondered for a moment if he could get away with it all. It couldn't be that easy, could it? Ponies were hard to trick Vale though, because ponies had a hard time lying naturally. And Valen didn't really think of himself as a liar, either. Really, he could give that dress to Apple Bloom. It would ride a little tight on her since she was bigger but it would still be really nice on her. He'd have to find some way to make it so that Rarity would understand why the dress ended up with Apple Bloom. Part of the deal with the shows was that if it was a one-of-a-kind deal like it was, and thus was useless after somepony had worn it, the model got to keep it. These shows are about showcasing the designers, not the designs, as much as ponies could get them confused. So if he could get away with it, he'd just have to...

...well, he probably wasn't going to get away with it easily, as Applejack went over and picked it up and laid both the dress and the knowledge that they knew he wasn't being totally honest. That was...ehh, well, that ruined his plan a little if they were going to question him, even though he had purchased a  full basket of vegetables. But okay, he just had to go ahead and think of something. Or he could just tell the truth- but if this was such a big deal to them to the point they had to sniff it out, no doubt it was bound to cause some sorta trouble for him. If he could only push through and get them to accept one tiny lie. They were at the show though- did they recognize the dress? So many things could go wrong in such a small amoutn of time, it was hard to work with this!

Valen started to sweat and he couldn't lock eyes with anypony as he spoke. "What do you mean I didn't go to the market? I bought the vegetables, like you wanted. They're right there," he said incredulously, pointing at the basket. Then he looked at the dress, "and here I made sure to buy something nice for her and I'm told I didn't go through all this work to get it? My word cousin Applejack, I had no idea you could be so...accusatory!"

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Applejack's muzzle twitched just slightly as Valen responded. She just wasn't expecting him to respond like this. He had seemed so proud and sure of himself when he was up on that stage. She would have thought he would have wanted to confide in her. If anypony could be trusted it was Applejack. She wasn't going to let this go...it was just....how was she going to get him to be honest?

"Hey!" Rainbow set down her finished cider mug and narrowed her eyes at Valen. "Nopony accuses my best friend of being accusatory." She raised her eyebrows, her expression softening just a touch. "I mean come on Valen! It's one thing to keep yourself to yourself, but you don't have to go around lying! I mean AJ's your family and family is everything to the Apples. If you were going to tell the truth to somepony it should be her." She took a breath. "Look...I get it if you don't want to admit what you were doing with me around since we don't know each other but we were there tonight...we saw you..."

Rainbow stopped talking. She had just totally outed Valen whether he would have eventually done it himself or not. She spoke again, her normal vigor returning to her voice. "I mean I'm always proud when I preform because I'm awesome and everypony knows it. You were great up there tonight, nopony could stop talking about the dress," She eyed Sugar Plum Snow as it lay on the table. "And how you wore it."

AJ sighed, not sure how Valen was going to respond. "Ah knew it was you the moment I saw ya up there tonight Valen. It's hard to disguise yourself from family...though Ah 'ave to admit that was one fancy get up you had on!" She fixed Valen with her honest gaze. "Now, you mind tellin' us the truth?"

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Valen sunk further into his seat as Rainbow came in with a hard defense of Applejack. That was all well and good of course, though Valen found himself feeling as if his very important job of vegetable wrangler was being grossly overlooked by the two mares. She had a point about truth telling and all, but it seemed different when it really wasn't their business what he did with his career, especially when he was worried about these two in particular. She had heard that Rainbow was a practical joker and could be a bit blunt with what she meant. And Applejack- Valen had so much respect for her that he worried this bit would somehow disappoint her.

No matter what though, the cat was out of the bag (and that seemed an awfully cruel phrase no matter what the connotation). Rainbow spoke about her pride in performance, and she should be. And he had a lot of pride in what he did as well, but it was hard to imagine that the situations were too similar. Rainbow had always been that way and a Wonderbolt was respected. If Valen was a filly maybe it would be the same, but there was an inherent element of dishonesty to his work- he wasn't performing as Valen Orange, but Gilded Lilly. Still, he figured they were perhaps venn diagram'd a bit. Applejack was an observant mare herself- no, it was over.

He sighed, then moved his hooves over his mane and took a deep breath. A pregnant pause before he stood up and walked over to his saddlebag, grabbed it, and put it on the table. As he spoke, he gently emptied the contents- beauty supplies, a notebook, and identification. "Well, it was only a matter of time I guess...and here it is. See, I have a career, and that career is as a model. A filly model, and a really good one at that, known as Gilded Lilly. This is because I'm a crossdresser, and one day a friend of a friend of a friend who ran a small store in Manehattan needed a model. They didn't know who I was, but I wanted to make a few bits and I knew I could look fabulous. Well...I did. And I did so well that my stage name got out there, and now I'm sorta famous. I do it at least once a week, and one time there was a tour where I was Gilded for a full month. I just happened to get hired for Rarity's show here," he said, at times very lowly, bringing out more and more stuff until the table was full. 

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AJ's eyes shimmered a little as her cousin came clean. It was just something that would always touch the farm mare at her heart. Family trusting family with honesty. Telling the truth meant a great deal to Applejack, more than almost anything. Though she already knew that Valen had been cross dressing she didn't know the extent of what he had been doing for a living. The table was covered with the wares of his trade at this point.

"Valen..." She glanced at Rainbow for just a moment. Having her best friend there made things a little bit easier. "Thank you for bein' honest with us sugar cube."

"Wow Valen, that's uhhhh..." Rainbow seared around for their cider mugs. She eventually found them and stood up to tote them to the kitchen sink. "Yeah, that's cool." The words came a bit half halfheartedly. "I mean I'm all for being good at whatever you do and it sounds like you're pretty good at...this." She came back to the table and sat down.

"Yep, it's great that you're famous and all that Valen. I'm plumb proud of you for that." She reached over and patted his shoulder with her hoof.

"It's just that..." Rainbow began. AJ knew where she was going.

"It's just that are you sure you really want everypony to think you're a mare?"

"Yeah like are you comfortable in all that fancy gear. I mean geez, I'd be a stallion if I could." Rainbow offered. "So much easier. You don't have to brush your mane, or wear dresses, and all that other stuff mares have to worry about." She smiled. "Not that I ever get all fancied up."

"We're all about doing what makes us comfortable. Rainbow here and I are probably two of the rougher versions of fillies." She winked at her friend. "Been called a tom-colt a time or two in my day after all."

"I just don't get why you'd rather dress up and act like a super model mare than do all the awesome stuff a stallion gets to do."

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Valen had expected a lot more of a hardline stance from both of them, seeing as they were legendary for being tomcolts- things they themselves attested to as the conversation wore on. Especially from Applejack who had such expectations from family and, whether or not she admitted it, a certain ideal in mind. he knew that was the case because almost every time he could see Big Mac and Apple Bloom moving out of their roles Applejack fretted. This was true- he had seen it in the letters he had communicated with Apple Bloom through. And Rainbow? Well, Rainbow Dash was the single most aggressive pony he had ever met. No doubt she wouldn't see the appeal of being feminine.

"Well, opening up is the hardest thing about it all. I appreciate you being so nice about it," he replied perhaps a bit too soon, as cracks in the armor started to emerge. They were...kind about it. Accepting, at least verbally. But even then there was reticence to grasp it all and soon they became more questioning, even being more than a little silly about it. In between everything else they said, Applejack and Rainbow both said something that made Valen's ears perk up. Applejack asked if he wanted everypony to think he was a mare and Rainbow why he would bother with that when there was so many awesome things he could do as a stallion. A few comments among a few, so he decided to respond to all.

"Well, it isn't that I want them to think I'm a mare outside of my work, cousin Applejack. But...I'm really very excellent at my job, so I'm not seeing any problem there," he said before nodding and saying something that might sink him, "it makes me comfortable when I do it. You can never say no to what makes you, you, can you?" He said, thinking he scored a great point as he replied to Rainbow. "Well, the outfits are very comfortable. Most are form fitting and when I combine that my natural...skill, I suppose, in preparing myself, I look fantastic as you can attest to," his voice dripping with obvious pride, "we all have things we are good at, after all, and it never has to conflict with doing stallion type things."

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"Well, Ah certainly respect ya fer doin' what makes ya comfortable Valen. And stickin' to workin' hard to make a livin' ta boot." She smiled at her cousin.

Applejack was pleased to hear the pride in her cousin's voice. Though she still didn't quite understand why anypony would feel comfortable masquerading as the other gender she had to give Valen credit. He was certainly grasping onto what made him comfortable and doing something with it!

"Ah just want to make sure yer doin' what makes you honestly and truly happy."

"Well I still don't get why you like getting all fillied up Valen. I mean come on, stallions can be models too. I've seen them at Rarity's shows even. Wouldn't you feel just as comfortable with ponies thinking you look awesome as a stallion?"

Rainbow found herself getting a little frustrated with the situation. She would give anything to be a stallion! Life would be so much easier. But she had never thought about just doing what Valen did... something similar at least. She was conflicted, not knowing if she was frustrated with Valen or herself or both.

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking AJ?"

Applejack looked quizzically at her friend. It was obvious Rainbow was a little upset though she couldn't figure out why. Rainbow was still smiling and all, it was just that Applejack knew when her best friend was upset.

"Ah'm honestly not sure Rainbow..."

"If Valen wants to act like a filly, he should just go all out! Why just during the shows? If he feels more comfortable as a filly why not just always be one?"

"Come on now Rainbow Dash, calm down fer just a second. There's no reason to try to force Valen to do more than he already does..." She glanced at her cousin, a smile still on her features. "Unless of course you think you would be more comfortable in life being a filly all the time?"

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This is when it started to turn, when they started to go from being accepting to questioning. It took longer than he thought but it was partially why he was worried about revealing it in the first place. Answers to questions he didn't have answers to were troubling. Applejack at least tried to stay on his side, or at least thinking she was, by supporting him- but ending with questions. You could count on Applejack for the effort in trying to understand who you were and what was going on, the effort inherent in love and the effort inherent in seeking out the truth and wanting to believe in the honesty in others. For all he was worried about regarding her, at least she wasn't being super aggressive about her questions and that made her a little more palatable at the moment despite the severe awkwardness.

Compare to Rainbow, who might be the most aggressive questioning mare he had ever seen. He could quickly ascertain it was because she herself had doubts and questions. And when somepony had those about themselves when they encountered others who should have, and maybe did have those questions, who hadn't taken the steps they believe are appropriate. But this was Rainbow Dash. Outrageously aggressive by nature, by force of personality, perhaps not really realizing the extent of her pushing and shoving. Stacking facts on facts on rumors on theories. If Valen's head wasn't swimming with his own formulating responses he would recoil from the aggression. 

As they spoke, he replied

"Thank you for your concern Applejack, but it does make me happy."

"The styles aren't my taste. I don't feel anything towards them and if I don't have a passion, how can I care? Besides, I don't look awesome as a stallion mode. Tried it!"

But then came the final question, and the heart of his problem. His own ignorance of this all too important answer bred constant frustration, which resulted in a shrug. "I dunno. Does it really matter?"

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Rainbow couldn't think of too much else to say. She could keep pushing the issue but she knew Valen was liable to start taking offense to her. That happened a lot, she was used to it. The thing was they were in Applejack's house and he was her family and she wasn't about to push things so far that AJ got irritated with her. It didn't happen often anymore but Rainbow would rather avoid it if possible. Having AJ ticked at her was not a fun thing to deal with. It usually lead to a competition of sorts and she was still recovering from the last time they had competed together. Rainbow's wing and hoof still weren't healed all the way. They twinged when the weather got to them and they still affected her activities somewhat. Applejack had gone easier on her for a long time to let her heal and she wasn't sure she was ready for anything too serious on the physical competition front just yet.

"Well, I guess if it makes you happy you should go with it." She was smarting on the inside from lots of angles at this point. She would love to be totally healed up and get back to everything she loved to do. Plus, Valen was living his desire to act like a filly and have other ponies think he was a filly. If only she had the guts to give that a try....but as a stallion? No, it would never work.

"Well, Ah jus' don't know if it matters cousin. I just feel like you should be able to do whatever makes you feel like you the most. Have you thought about just livin' as a filly all the time?" It felt a little odd to ask but this conversation was so off the wall already it didn't really matter anymore. "Ya know..." She glanced at Rainbow. "We could get ol' Rarity tah stop by in the morning. Ah bet she could get you all sorted out to live the fanciest sort o' filly life possible. You could at least give it a try. Why do ya think cousin? Should we take this to the next level an' see how ya like it?"

Rainbow waited to hear the response. She was sure she wouldn't make it very long when it came to getting all fancied up. But, she did like spending time with Rarity.

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Rainbow seemed to be consumed by her own troubles and not an issue for Valen to dig deeper in. It was impolite unless asked for input to offer his thoughts, so he didn't. Which he wished they had followed. They were pushing and prodding into things that they shouldn't be, inferring and implying things that weren't true. Or were they? he didn't rightly know. If he did, he could have blown this all off and moved on. Instead he had to go ahead and ask himself questions he didn't want to ask, push boundaries set by his own good taste and sense into unexplored territory. Could it be there was a kernel of truth hidden in the discomfort? It was possible. 

But even if it was possible he didn't like the idea of being forced into this. The roles had been reversed. Rainbow had been the one suggesting or implying the worst things, now it was Applejack's turn to invest herself in bad ideas while Rainbow seemed to wilt under the fire of a surprise internal conflict. Either way, this wasn't what he wanted. He didn't know why, really- perhaps being forced was the cause of his dislike of the whole shebang. Or maybe it was the lack of privacy, something he valued tremendously, and how quickly and totally it had been violated to extreme levels. Well, maybe not extreme. He just felt that way, exposed and uncovered figuratively and literally. And the idea of having Rarity involved didn't help matters.

All of this came across as a very nervous chuckle and a blush. "No, no. That is quite alright, Applejack. In fact, I'm really tired and should really be going to bed right now haha see you two later," Valen said, preparing to leave the table as his blush overcame him.

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"Alright Valen, we'll see you in the mornin'. Have a good rest!" She tried to sooth the situation as Valen left the kitchen.

"Well, that went...awesomely..." Rainbow rolled her eyes and went for more cider. She was still flustered about the whole thing...way more than she would have thought possible. There was just so much going on in Rainbow's life right now. So many things to try to figure out. So many issues to deal with. Rainbow was not good with dealing with issues. "Do we really need to push this AJ? Valen really doesn't seem thrilled with all of this."

Applejack went over to fill up her cider mug too. "Ah know it's tough sugar cube, but it's got to be done! Ah'm not goin' ta let mah family go around not knowin' who they really are. First thing tomorrow mornin' we gotta go find Rarity." She took a long drink of cider. "If anypony can out filly Valen enough to make him give all of this up it's good ol' Rarity!"

"I thought you said if it made him happy he should just go for it?" Rainbow rubbed her still healing wing for a moment in thought.

"Well Rainbow, it's just that what Valen's doin'...it's just so unnatural. I mean he's a stallion, he should just own up to it." She didn't go too much further. She was talking to a mare that loved her like a stallion was supposed to love mares. It was pretty much an unspoken fact outside of that one fateful event in the mountains months ago. The two hadn't really talked about it since. This was about her family right now. Though Rainbow was her close friend, she wouldn't try to change her. At least not try to the lengths that she would with Valen. 

She took a breath. "I'll meet you at Rarity's boutique in the mornin'?"

"Ok..." Rainbow sighed. "I'm not sure why you have to push this AJ, but I'll be there." She finished off her cider and set down the mug. "Night AJ." Rainbow exited the farmhouse.


The next morning dawned misty and a touch colder than usual. AJ wasn't sure if Valen was awake or but she was at his door bright and early. She reached up a hoof and gave a little knock.

"Valen? You up sugar cube?" She listened for a moment. "I got breakfast going in the kitchen."

She figured they could grab a quick bite and the head on over to Rarity's place.

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  • 3 weeks later...


Valen retreated to bed without hesitation, the awkwardness of the day leaving him more drained than any show possibly could Rarely could a pony claim to be as tired as he was mentally. It took a special something to make Valen's eyes twitch out of their own free will, something outside of the normal realm of relations and today had proven that sometimes it came from within. It was one thing to be caught, but the way that whole conversation had went had been incredibly strange, very weird. It in some ways took a bit to make him stand back and think about what it could all mean, and none of it made much sense to him.

Rainbow Dash had wavered in between two extremes and seemed more unsettled tha anypony else, more so because something was ticked wrong inside. He couldn't place it but it felt like she was asking herself questions that she needed answers to, not of him. Applejack was...well, not entirely unexpected. But strange herself. Caught between the dual avenues of wanting to respect him and wanting what was best for him, and not devoted to either path enttirely. He guessed as far as revelations went it couldn't have gone that much better but it spoke to the problems that he made for himself that it still caused some problems for him as he went to bed.

His mind swam, big moments and small colliding in his head and keeping him awake for an hour or two more than he should have been. His rest was fitful and not relaxing in the slightest- so much so that when Applejack woke him, he awoke groggy, unfocused, not totally aware of what was in play, and not as kempt as he would like. Nonetheless he responded with a yawn and made his way downstairs, baggy eyes teling the tale. he did take a deep smell, however.

"That smells...delicious, cousin Applejack!" he said in between yawns.

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Applejack had gone back down to the kitchen once she knew Valen was up and about. She had had a fretful night, sleep resisting her call. So many emotions tumbled through her mind. For Valen she just wanted him to be happy. But the mare knew that part of being happy was being a-ok with who you were. She just didn't feel like Valen had a hoof on who he was and today was the day that would change! She was doing him a service, as painful as it might be for him...and her. It was awkward, odd, and felt kinda funny but she would go to those lengths and further for him. He was family.

Of course her thoughts on Rainbow had tumbled through her head more than once. Something had just felt odd with her friend last night. Rainbow had been asking the weirdest questions and just plain acting odd. AJ stuck it in the back of her mind that she really needed to have a talk with Rainbow. She knew the mare so well and she knew when Rainbow was keeping something from her.

As Valen entered the kitchen she greeted him warmly.

"Good mornin' cousin!" She turned her head to stifle a yawn. "I hope y'all slept well! We got a big day taday! But first...breakfast!"

AJ had done the meal proud! There were apple spice pancakes with butter and syrup. Steaming mugs of fresh cider. A big bowl and wheat and sweet crumble hash. All the breakfast a pony could want! Nervous energy had been spent preparing the feast and it showed though AJ tried to hide it.

"Dig in!" She spoke as she loaded a plate with some pancakes and hoofed them over. "After this we'll go visit good ol' Rarity!" Her stomach dropped as she mentioned Rarity. This day was not going to be easy...

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Valen wandered off to bed, none too pleased with what had transpired but not overwhelmed at the perceived incredulity of his cousin and her friend. Truth be
told, there were a million ways it could have went and this was not one of the worst ones. That didn't mean it had gone swimmingly, however. Applejack was
equal parts friendly, confused, and stubborn, not knowing which way to go but certain of problems where there were none. She would want to help solve them,
which casted an uncertain cloud over his future. Speaking of clouds- something was off with Rainbow Dash. From what little he knew, he knew she was a ball of
strong confidence. Seeing her all wishy washy was something that spoke to him in a more disturbing way.

No matter what the story was behind the oddity that was the talk, he was tired. More tired than he could have believed possible, as all the stress
simultaneously rolled out of him while making sure to have every bit the impact he feared along the way. He was so, so tired- and yet unable to sleep, at least
for a while. Questions ran through his head, what ifs, relief and worry- all of it keeping his mind racing. Moving. prevening his eyes from ****ting and allowing
Luna to do her work. By the time he went to bed it was several hours after he had went to the room, and his sleep was deep and of far greater depth than a
light day of modeling would have warranted otherwise.

He awoke, or was awoken, several hours later by his cousin- small one, not the big one. He was beyond tired still and half asleep as he staggered out of bed,
staggered down the stairs, staggered into the kitchen. There was a thick film around everything, and his legs barely moved. Applejack said hello and welcomed
him, but all he could see was the food. It was a feast, as was common at Sweet Apple Acres. He made himself a plate and plopped down, almost falling asleep
in the pancakes before he caught himself. He was so fascinated by the feast, so tired, so out of it that all he could summon in response to Applejack's Rarity
moment was a weak: "good morning...sounds...fun...this breakfast is so...cool," he said, chewing lazily. But hungrily. And tiredlyly.

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"Well now, I'm glad ya like the breakfast sugar cube!" Forked a mouthful of pancakes and syrup into her mouth. She chewed for a little bit, a smile plastered over her features.

Soon enough breakfast was over. There was no more time to lollygag...it was time for action!

"Alrighty! If'n yer all finished up here we can head on over tah Rarity's!" She made sure to keep her voice light and non-consequential. After all, there was no reason to get all worked up. She was giving Valen the chance to feel truly comfortable with who he was. It was the best thing she could do for her family. She had to do this for family.

Once they were all set Applejack lead the way down the farm road towards the heart of Ponyville. Carousel Boutique wouldn't be too busy yet. AJ was hoping she could get there before Rarity opened. She was also hoping that the unicorn wouldn't mind opening up late so she could help Valen out properly. 

Soon Rarity's home and place of livelihood came into view. The brightly colored building was a beacon of fashion and well being to all around. Many mares, stallions, and fillies couldn't help but smile as they trotted by. Lots of the ponies in Ponyville had clothing made by the famous fashionista. Though Rarity was a big time name she still found the time to make wonderful customs pieces for her regular Ponyville clientele.

Applejack smiled as she drew near, Rarity was outside her boutique.

"Good mornin' Rarity!"


"Oh! Applejack! Applejack darling! I'm ever so glad you're here! I could use a little help!" The beautiful unicorn mare nodded to a large stack of boxes to the side of the entrance.

"It seems my order of new fabrics has made it's way here! Must have been dropped off by an earlier morning delivery pony!" She tapped one of the boxes with her front hoof. "Oh, I just can't wait to see them! I ordered them from a special designer in Saddle Arabian an absolute age ago. I was at a trade show in Manehatten and their designer was there and I couldn't help but order some for myself..." She noticed Valen.

"Oh my! I'm sorry! I was so wrapped up in the delivery I didn't say hello to you!" She gave the stallion a winning smile.


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As they walked towwards Rarity's, Valen started to wake up from his stupor that was induced by his fitful and poor sleep. His mind started to kick into gear, and
it was unhappy at everything being presented to it, namely the early morning destination. Why hadn't he said anything earlier? Heading to Rarity's was the
definition of a terrible idea. Normally he would be pleased if he was going alone, but he knew underneath the vaneer of pleasantness was the sort of meeting
and talk he didn't want, especially after last night's wringing of emotions. But for all of that he couldn't say no, because he was past that point. Until he could
find out what was happening, anyway. And so he followed dutifully, head down, not matching Applejack's energy at all. Maybe she would just chalk it up to how
much he had eaten.

As they approached, he started to go through the possibilities in his head. What would Rarity think? She was the key to his career. Her word meant a lot to
most of the tours that ran across Equestria. If she was unhappy with this development, his career would vanish, along with the opinions of those who knew him
outside of his modeling career. It was social suicide as much as it was career suicide. If she liked it- well, he didn't know what he would think. Relief? A bit,
maybe. But there were so many variables and [possibilities that as he entered Carousel Boutique, his eyes had decided to find the ground.

It didn't take lomng for that to change, with Rarity's friendly greeting as well as revelation that her new fabrics had arrived. If Valen had to guess- Damanescus
Silk? Only came from a very small town in Saddle Arabia. Famed for its many wonderful properties as well as it's harsh ability to work with. Only the best
designrs could work with it, and Rarity was one of them. He tried to keep his wits about him, and his friendliness at the forefront. "Hello to you, Miss Rarity.
This looks like a fantastis delivery, if I say so myself."

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Rarity took her hoof from the box and set it gently on the ground. She had to keep her wits about her now! How in Equestria had this turn of events taken place? She had recognized Valen right away of course. She had worked with the talented stallion many times. lots of ponies looked good in her designs, even great...but it was hard to match certain ponies in poise and basic body structure. Valen had a structure that made her world famous designs shine! She had cast him numerous times and had begun to drum up various clients for him too. Hardly anypony knew that the lovely model presented on stage was in fact a stallion. Rarity had agreed to keep his secret secure upon one of their earliest contracts.

A blue sheen shimmered about her horn as she began to levitate two boxes. A small bit more magic was used to push the door back and then she trotted inside, boxes levitating before her.

"Could you two be dears and bring along a box or two?" Her melodic question drifted back to the two Apples.

"You got it Rarity!" Applejack had already been saddling up with a couple boxes before the question was asked. "Come on Valen, let's get these inside!" She carefully carried the boxes inside, making sure not to damage their contents. She didn't know anything about fabrics really but if Rarity was this excited about the delivery she sure wasn't going to mess them up.

"Thank you dears, just put them over there if you would?" Rarity exclaimed while levitating her load into a neat stack near her designing room door. Once the shipment was moved inside she smiled at her guests. "You two are here bright and early. The shop isn't even open yet. Is there something I can do for you?"

"Ah..." Applejack fidgeted for a moment with her front hooves. Then she adjusted her stetson. This was all so awkward. Only the drive of protecting her family kept her going with the plan. "Actually there is... Ya see Rarity...this here is Valen an' he's mah cousin." She nodded to the stallion. "Well, Ah guess there's not much need tah beat around the bush so I'll jus' level with yah. Valen 'er has taken tah actin' well...like a filly Ah guess is an ok way of puttin' it."

Rarity's brow raised as Applejack spoke. This was certainly an awkward situation. She knew AJ was honest but really? Perhaps Valen didn't want his secrets out in the open like this? But still, she was loyal to her good friend Applejack. She would hear her out. "Go on darling."

"Well, Ah'm aimin' tah help Valen out. If he wants to act like a mare I figured it would be best for him to see if he felt like actin' feminine all the time. Who knows, maybe he would be happier jus' livin' as a mare all the time." She blew a breath up towards her forelocks.

"Anyway...Ah guess Ah was hopin' you could help us sugar cube. Ah mean no pony knows actin' like a true blue filly like y'all do. I figured we could get him all gussied up and actin' about as feminine as possible an' see if'n he takes to it."

For a moment Rarity just stood there. How was she supposed to respond to this? It was all just too odd. Eventually she turned to Valen. "Well, perhaps you could tell me where you'd like to start darling..." Then inspiration hit her! She could try out some of her newest runway fashions on him. It would be a good place to start and something he was comfortable enough with. "I have a new line I'm working on, car to try on a few numbers?"


Rainbow had calmed down since last night. After a bit of tracking she was able to figure out that AJ had gone to visit Rarity. The pegasus figured she would catch up with her friend and smooth things over. No reason to stay at odds with each other. She hoped she could make a better second impression on Valen as well. She knew how much getting along with family meant to her farm pony friend.

She landed softly out front and trotted to the door. It was open so she pressed her way inside.

"Hey guys! How's it going?"

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Valen wanted to object to what was being said but found himself unable to do so, and not for the reasons he would be worried to admit. No, in all of his
frazzled mental makeup he had forgotten that Rarity knew that he was the one under the clothes all that time. He had figured that as a secret, it was s afe.
Once revealed all it would take is a loose lip to sink the ship of his burgeoning career. She was a great pony and all but rumors of gossiping- ironic, was it not?-
that floated around her had made him hesitant to allow this secret of theirs to be public in any way. Once she thought it okay to speak about, with whom would
this information be shared with?

He trusted her with many things, but he had been worried about this. But as Applejack told Rarity, he knew he had to place his trust in her, to see and known
the truth. If he had wanted to be a filly, she'd have known- right? In those private moments, when they discussed his career? Obviously his faith in her was
well-placed. Yes? Correct? Hopefully so. He just sighed and rubbed his neck as Applejack went over the plan. This was a sillier outcome than he had thought.
He would much rather just have her be angry or just accept, but whether this was some sort of therapy to push him out of it or her honest feelings on the
matter, it was a convoluted way of going about it.

Though it did not make him wonder if Apple Bloom knew. Or Big Mac. Or Granny. Big Mac wouldn't be a big deal, but the fillies would be a bit of trouble- they
were talkers. he'd have to find out later, just as he would have to worry aboout what was going on now. What was Rarity going to do? Say? She didn't seem
that invested yet. That was good? No big changes? Was he just reading too much into small things? Probably. After they spoke, Rarity turned to him. What did
he want to do? Well, he wanted to just go back to the farm, bury his head, and forget this whole thing. He wanted Applejack to get back to common sense.

Another option presented itself. A new line? How enticing. And what trouble could there be now that they knew? More importantly, maybe he could get her in
private and just confirm that they were in the same page. "Your new line, Miss Rarity? That sounds spectacular. I'd love to see them," he said, leaving out any
hint of wanting to be a filly or anything like that. As he approached, Rainbow arrived- a ball of confusion all her own, though she seemed in better spirits. Hopefull she would have more sense than Applejack. "Hello, Rainbow. I wonder what brings you here," he asked blandly, not amused that Applejack had apparently planned this out a bit too far in advance.

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Applejack smiled a bit as Valen consented to checking out the newest line. Then she took a step back to watch for a little while. It seemed Rarity was fine with helping Valen out...in fact the farm mare was surprised just how well her friend had taken the news. She new Rarity to be one often smitten by the stallion population and she had thought there might have been at least a hint of shock to the lovely unicorn.

"Jus' when yah think yah know somepony..." She muttered under her breath.

"What was that AJ?" Rainbow came up next to her friend.

Applejack was a bit startled by Rainbow's proximity. She was so wrapped up in helping Valen at this point that she was loosing just a little bit of focus. "Oh uhhhh... nothin' really sugar cube it's jus' that...well...sometimes a pony can jus' surprise ya that's all..."

"Oooookkkk?" Rainbow cocked her head towards her friend. She was having her own head struggles with the whole situation. In fact after a night of thinking things over Rainbow had made her way to Rarity's to do a bit of dressing up of her own. If any pony would understand her new fashion interests she hoped it would be Rarity. She hadn't really wanted to share her desire with AJ yet, but she hadn't been able to stop herself when she showed up at Rarity's even though AJ and Valen had just stopped by.

"Well, not really sure what we're supposed to do..." Rainbow started edging herself away from Applejack and towards the stallion fashions Rarity had on display. She slowly reached up to touch the cuff of a black suit. "Why would Valen want to wear all that frilly stuff anyway?" Rainbow spoke more loudly than she thought she would. Her heart was beating fairly hard and she couldn't quite figure out why. "I mean come on! This looks soooo much more comfortable!"

Applejack walked over to stand next to her friend. She eyed Rainbow for a moment. "Ya think so huh?"

"Oh girls!" Rarity called form the other side of the boutique. "Would you both be gems and help us out for a ensy wensy amount of time? I'm sure Valen wouldn't mind a small audience and I could definitely use your opinions on the new line."

Rainbow was shocked out of the semi-trance she had been in. Her whole self image was tumbling around in her head at this point. "Oh! Uh, yeah sure thing!" At least she would get a little break from all the thinking she was doing.

"You got it sugar cube!" AJ trotted over and took a seat on a stool outside the dressing room.

"Come on out when you're ready darling!" Rarity spoke to Valen from the door of the dressing room. "I just want to get some feedback on the line." She smiled at her friends. "These two aren't exactly fashionistas but I very much value their opinions."

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