Love Means Having to Say You're Sorry

by bookplayer

Chapter 1: The Mushy Stuff

The bell over the door rang as ponies came and went from Sugarcube Corner on that fine and sunny morning. Inside, the smell of freshly baked and fried sugary treats filled the air, and Mrs. Cake waited on the ponies picking up goodies to start their day.

Rainbow Dash was sitting at a table full of muffins and danishes, along with Twilight, Rarity, and Pinkie. The four friends’ voices filled the shop with friendly conversation and called greetings to townsponies they knew.

“I made three different kinds of cookies to bring to the picnic today.” Pinkie grinned. “First I made chocolate, then I thought some of my friends might like peanut butter, so I made some peanut butter too! Then I thought, what if some of my friends like chocolate and peanut butter?”

“So you made chocolate peanut butter cookies?” Twilight asked with a smile.

“No. Snickerdoodles, because I loooove saying it! But that way there will be more chocolate and peanut butter for the ponies who like them both, and everypony will get to say snickerdoodles!” Pinkie popped a whole muffin in her mouth as Twilight giggled.

“Do you know if Applejack will be at the picnic today?” Rarity asked the table in general.

Twilight shrugged. “Why wouldn’t she be?”

“Yeah, of course AJ’s gonna be there,” Rainbow Dash added. “We’re supposed to play horseshoes.”

“Well, she mentioned yesterday having some kind of special plans, when she came to have me put a new band on her hat.” Rarity gave a small smile.

Dash furrowed her brow. “Something happened to AJ’s hat?”

“No, it seems she was looking for something ‘a bit flashy,’ as she put it. Something to catch a pony’s eye,” Rarity finished with a smirk and a wink.

“Oh,” Twilight said, then she seemed to catch something in Rarity’s tone. Her eyes lit up and she smiled. “Oooh, really?”

Rarity nodded. “Her mane was brushed, and I’m sure I noticed a sway in her step.”

“Uh, what does that have to do with her hat?” Dash asked, tilting her head to the side.

Pinkie was grinning from ear to ear. “You think she’s brushing and swaying and flashing for the same reason?”

Rarity arched an eyebrow. “That’s not quite how I’d put it, Pinkie, darling. But yes, it seems obvious, doesn’t it?”

“What seems obvious?” Dash narrowed her eyes and glanced between her friends. Nothing obvious could have escaped the cunning and clever mind of Rainbow Dash. “And what does it have to do with AJ having special plans that might mean she’s not going to play horseshoes with me?”

“Dash, you really can’t think of a reason AJ might make special plans, brush her mane, fix up her hat, and act a little differently?” Twilight said gently.

Dash’s eyes grew wide. The clues were obvious! “She’s a changeling?!”

“No, Dash.” Twilight rolled her eyes. “She’s in love!”

Dash stared at Twilight, trying to understand the statement. ‘She’ was supposed to refer to AJ in that sentence, but Twilight followed it with ‘is in love.’ That was impossible. AJ couldn’t be in love, especially if it meant that she was skipping horseshoes with Dash. AJ wouldn’t miss that for love. It was decided.

“No way! You guys are crazy!” Dash slammed her hooves down on the table. A muffin was nearly knocked to the floor, but was saved by landing in Pinkie’s mouth. Dash went on, “AJ is my friend, she can’t fall in love!”

Rarity looked at Dash, confused. “Why not?”

Rainbow Dash shot Rarity a look. “Because I know AJ. Love is mushy, and AJ is not mushy. She’s strong and brave and an awesome athlete, like me. I wouldn’t fall in love, especially if it got in the way of a game, so I know that’s not what’s up with AJ.”

“Is there a problem if AJ is in love, Dash?” Twilight asked, concerned.

Dash rolled her eyes. A problem? There would be millions of problems if Applejack was in love! She would care about another pony more than her friends, which happened to include Rainbow Dash herself. She would be mushy. She would have to be in love with a pony who was so much less awesome than her that it would actually make AJ less awesome. Basically, exactly what Dash had just said, so she repeated it because Twilight was sometimes a little dense.

“Yeah, there would be a problem! She would miss horseshoes.” Dash shook her head. “But she wouldn’t do that. So she can’t be in love.”

“Um, you could play horseshoes next weekend,” Twilight pointed out.

Dash stared at Twilight for a moment, unsure how Twilight thought that would fix anything. “It doesn’t matter, we’ll be able to play then, too. Because Applejack, my totally awesome friend, is not in love.”

Rarity raised her eyebrows at Rainbow Dash, then gave Twilight a nervous glance. Twilight shrugged and Rarity turned back to Twilight and Pinkie. “I gave her a red band for her hat, to match her ribbons. I wanted to add a gemstone as a flourish, but she insisted that would look too fancy. Do you suppose that means it’s--” Rarity cut off quickly and glanced at Dash, then went on to the other girls “It would be a farmpony, if she was in love? Carrot Top, perhaps?”

Pinkie smiled. “Carrot Top and Applejack would make a yummy couple!”

A vision went through Dash’s head of Applejack giving the carrot farmer a sappy nuzzle. Dash made a face.

“I thought Carrot Top had a special somepony already...” Twilight put a hoof to her chin in thought. “What about Daisy?”

Dash’s face turned to a grimace as the vision in her mind changed to the pink flower pony offering Applejack a bouquet of flowers, and Applejack smelling one and putting it in her hat while the other pony looked at her worshipfully.

Rarity pursed her lips. “I hope not. Their coats would clash.”

“I’m not sure that’s something AJ would really care about,” Twilight giggled.

“I know that, and I’m sure I could find some way to tie them together visually.”

“Oooh! Ooh!” A grin took up half of Pinkie’s face. “What about Caramel? Their coat colors would match, and caramel apples are even yummier than carrots and apples!”

“That would be acceptable.” Rarity nodded.

“I guess I could see that,” agreed Twilight. “He does help out sometimes on the farm.”

“Ugh!” Dash shouted, unable to take another nightmare scenario about everything in the world being lame. “Would you guys stop talking about this totally crazy, completely not-true idea Rarity got in her head?”

“There’s no harm in talking about it.” Rarity said in a calm, even tone. Then her face changed to sympathy towards Dash. “If Applejack has found a pony she cares for deeply, we should celebrate for her and wish her the best, you know.”

“I do wish her the best.” Dash grumbled. “There’s no way that Carrot Top, or Daisy, or whoever is gonna be the best for her.”

Twilight exchanged a glance with Rarity, then asked gently, “Is there anypony you would want it to be?”

Dash rolled her eyes. “No. I can’t think of a single pony in Ponyville good enough for Applejack to be in love with.”

Rarity raised an eyebrow. “None? Not even y-- one of us?”

“Huh?” Dash asked, then looked around the table. “You think it could be... one of you guys?”

“It’s possible, I guess,” Twilight said with a shrug and a nervous look at Rarity, whose face was planted on her hoof for some reason.

Dash’s eye went wide. Somehow, the idea that it might be one of her friends was even worse than some boring pony from town. Her very best friends quickly took each other’s places in various visions of Applejack being all dumb and sappy, snuggling and having romantic dinners and being disgustingly happy about it. Fear built inside of Dash; she had to make this go away.

“No! No way! This is crazy, and you’re all crazy, and I’m gonna get to the bottom of this!” She took off out of her chair and flew to the door of the bakery, nearly running into a gray earth pony as he entered.

“Where are you going?” Twilight called after her.

“To find AJ!” Dash called back over her shoulder as she flew out onto the Ponyville streets.

On the flight to the market, Dash took several deep breaths. If she found AJ, this would all go away. AJ would tell her that it was nothing; a joke on Rarity, maybe, or something that was supposed to increase apple sales. AJ would laugh her tail off at the idea that the other girls thought she was in love, and Rainbow Dash would crack up right along with her.

At the bustling market, a quick scan of the wooden stalls and carts selling food and household goods revealed no apple cart. Rainbow Dash wasn’t satisfied and slowly flew over the stalls and crowds of ponies, muttering the contents of each one as she went, so she didn’t miss it. “Vegetables... pots... flowers... baskets... bees... more vegetables.”

She stopped as she got to the end of the row, frowning. “No apples! What the hay is going on here?”

Since she was several feet above most of the other ponies, and talking to herself, nopony answered her question. So she decided to ask it to an actual pony.

Rainbow Dash landed in front of Roseluck’s stall full of flowers. “Where’s the apple cart today?”

The cream-colored pony shrugged. “They didn’t set up today. I guess Mac’s busy at the farm, and who knows where Applejack is?”

That sounded sneaky to Dash. Rainbow Dash was an expert on sneaky, so she noticed right away that Roseluck didn’t think AJ was on the farm for some reason. “So you haven’t seen AJ anywhere?” Dash asked casually, looking away as if she’s spotted a particularly interesting cloud.

“Oh, I saw her this morning, coming out of the spa,” Roseluck said. A smile appeared on her face, and Lily and Daisy appeared at her side, wearing similar smiles.

Dash looked back to the ponies quickly, a worried expression on her face. “The spa?” Dash repeated.

“Yeah, it looked like she had her coat brushed...” Roseluck said, practically grinning.

“Oh, and she had a new band on her hat!” Daisy added.

Lily nodded. “She looked good, and she seemed to be in a great mood. She was swinging her tail, whistling, smiling to herself. We’ve all been trying to figure out who the special pony is. Do you know?”

“There’s no special pony!” Dash shouted, hovering so she could cross her forelegs while she set the flower ponies straight. “She’s just happy because... because she’s going to play horseshoes with me later.”

“She looked awfully nice for a game of horseshoes,” Roseluck said skeptically.

Dash opened and closed her mouth, then shot back, “It’s a special game, okay?”

“Whatever you say, Rainbow Dash,” Roseluck said with a shrug, turning back to her flowers and her friends.

Dash shook her head. If Applejack wasn’t here, she must be on the farm. She probably got her coat brushed because they had something important going on there. Maybe it was another reunion, or an important meeting with a customer. Maybe Princess Celestia was stopping by for lunch, and Applejack forgot to tell anypony. There was clearly a perfectly innocent explanation, so Dash could stop having this weird, tense feeling anytime she wanted to. Just as soon as she saw Applejack.

She took off for Sweet Apple Acres and decided to see how fast she could get there without doing a sonic rainboom, for no real reason at all.


A little while later, Rainbow Dash was flying over the apple farm in a large search spiral, scanning for signs of movement, listening for sounds of hooves on trees or conversation between the siblings. In the orchards, row after row of fruit-laden trees stood without a sign of another pony. The fields lay peaceful, covered with neat rows of young plants, but empty of ponies tending them. As she got towards the center of her spiral, Rainbow Dash flew closer to the ground to check the buildings.

There was no sign of either sibling in the barn or the cellar. The cows hadn’t seen Applejack since she brought them breakfast, hours ago. The hog shed was occupied only by hogs, and there was nopony in the chicken coop but chickens. A peek through the kitchen window revealed only a napping Granny Smith in her rocking chair.

Rainbow Dash landed on a branch of a nearby tree. This was really weird. Applejack wasn’t hanging out with her friends at Sugarcube Corner, she wasn’t working in town, and nopony was working on the farm either. On top of that she’d been acting strangely enough to make other ponies think really dumb things about her.

A look of concern crossed Dash’s face. What if she was sick? Maybe that’s why she was acting weird. Maybe she had a fever and that made her crazy enough to get a new hat band and get her coat brushed! Mac probably figured it out right away, and took poor AJ up to bed.

Dash flew to Applejack’s bedroom window, and peeked inside. She grinned, Mac and AJ were both inside. Mac was leaning against the wall, chewing a wheatstalk, but AJ wasn’t in bed. She was pacing back and forth, and she looked a little worried.

With her head next to the window, Dash could hear the voices from inside:

“I just gotta say it, right?” Applejack said, sounding a little concerned.

“Eeyup,” Mac answered with a nod.

“And if she don’t like me that way, it’ll be just fine. I’m a strong pony.” Applejack stopped her pacing and stood tall, her head held high.

“‘Course ya’ are,” Mac agreed.

She frowned and looked down at her legs. “Then why’re my knees shakin’?”

Mac smirked. “Just proves you’re a pony, AJ.”

Applejack looked around the room, and her gaze landed on a vase of flowers. “Should I get her somethin’? Flowers? Candy?”


Applejack nodded. “You’re right, it’s just askin’ her out. That’s more for the date.”


“You don’t think that brushin’ my coat and mane, and the ribbon on my hat might seem too... I dunno, flirty?” Applejack glanced in the mirror and stroked her bangs before looking to Mac for the answer.

Mac raised an eyebrow, smirking again. “You’re tryin’ to flirt, so I’m gonna say... nope.”

“I ain’t tryin’ to flirt!” Applejack stomped a hoof. “I just wanna ask her to see a movie with me.”

“You’ll have more fun if ya’ flirt,” Mac said with a shrug, and the same smirk.

Applejack rolled her eyes and chuckled. “Like you’d know anythin’ ‘bout it.”

“I know a thing or two.”

Applejack smiled over at her brother. “Mac?”


“Thanks for your help.” She walked over and gave him a hug, then he turned and walked out of the room, leaving Applejack to rush back to her mirror and fluff her bangs a few more times.

Outside, Dash’s ears drooped, and she sunk to the ground like a deflating balloon. Stopping herself just before landing, she flew back to the apple tree and sat on the branch, her head in her hooves.

Everypony was right. Applejack was in love. She wasn’t going to play horseshoes with Dash this afternoon, she was going to ask out a pony she liked. Then she’d have a special somepony. Dash imagined the scene...

A beautiful day in the park, the skies clear, the birds singing. Little foals playing, grown up ponies walking around and admiring trees or whatever ponies did when they walked through the park. And under one of those trees, on a checkered blanket, Applejack sitting with another pony, talking stupid goopy talk and looking into her eyes. The other pony would nuzzle AJ’s mane, which would be all soft and silky ‘cause it was brushed.

“Oooh Applejack, you smell really good because you put on perfume or something!” the pony would say.

“Just for you, my special lil’ flower. Now we’re gonna sit an’ snuggle all day!”

Just then, Rainbow Dash would fly up, as awesome as usual. “Hey, Applejack, wanna do something fun like have a race or play a game?”

“Nope. I’m busy bein’ mushy, Dash,” Applejack would say, ignoring Dash and gazing into the other pony’s eyes.

“But, what if we do something really awesome, like climb to the top of a mountain, or go fight a dragon? We could totally take a dragon, if we worked together!” Dash would grin, because there was no way an awesome pony like Applejack wouldn’t want to do something awesome.

“That would mess up my mane, then my special sompony wouldn’t like me! Ya’ know I never do awesome stuff no more.”

“Okay.’ Dash would frown and look at the grass. “What if we just kinda hang out, because I really like hanging out with you? I won’t mess up your soft mane, or get your coat all messy even though it looks really cool when it’s messy...”

Applejack would finally look up and frown. “Rainbow Dash, don’t ya’ get it? I’m in love with this pony! My special somepony is the only pony who matters, you’re just my friend.”

“Oh... okay.”

“Now, don’t bother us again.”

Then Dash would sulk off, looking over her shoulder at her former best friend snuggling with a special somepony that she liked way more than Dash.

Dash felt something wet on her cheeks, which in no way indicated that she was crying, as she shook herself out of her vision. Why would AJ go and do this to her? They had fun together! They were partners; AJ and RD. And Applejack was just going to abandon her, for some stupid pony she could be mushy with. It wasn’t fair.

Applejack wouldn’t think it was fair either, if she wasn’t all wrapped up in being in love with a pony. Applejack would never want to be mean to Dash like that. This totally wasn’t AJ’s fault, it was just something that happened to her, like a spell! Dash just had to find some way to break the spell, and AJ would be back to normal.

Rainbow Dash sat up on her branch. If being in love was going to make AJ be all mushy and hurt her best friend and not play horseshoes, then Dash had to get her out of love. This was the perfect time, too, since AJ hadn’t even talked to the other pony yet. Dash could make sure that AJ didn’t get a special somepony, and she knew the perfect way to do it. But she was going to need a little help.


It took Rainbow Dash about a half an hour to round up her other four friends, and direct them to the library. Now they sat in a row on sitting pillows, facing Twilight’s podium. Dash hovered behind the podium with a stormy look on her face.

“I think we all know why we’re here.”

Dash looked at the blank faces of Twilight, Rarity, and Fluttershy, and the grinning face of Pinkie Pie.

“Oh! I do!” Pinkie shouted, raising her hoof and waving it around. “We’re here because you told us to come!”

“Right!” Dash started strong, then realized that Pinkie’s answer was not what she was expecting. “I mean, yeah, but I asked you to come so we can talk about Applejack. Our friend... is in love.”

Dash had been hoping to regain some sense of urgency among her friends, but only Fluttershy looked the slightest bit surprised. Dash decided that didn’t matter, and went on, “I know, I know, this is a big shock. But together, we can get through this. I have a plan, but I need your help.”

“A plan for what, exactly?” Twilight asked, skeptically.

“To stop this before it ruins my-- I mean, our friendship with Applejack! If Applejack is in love, she’ll care about somepony more than she cares about m-- us! She won’t wanna climb mountains or fight dragons, and she’ll wear perfume, and some dumb pony will get to nuzzle her soft mane!” Dash thumped the podium dramatically.

“I wear perfume,” Rarity pointed out.

“And, um, I don’t like dragons,” Fluttershy added.

Twilight just looked at Dash quizzically. “Rainbow Dash... have you considered at all why this is really bothering you?”

“I just told you, Twi. Try to keep up,” Dash said to Twilight, who rolled her eyes and sighed. “This is serious, you guys. We have to stop this.”

Twilight shook her head sadly. “You can’t just stop a pony from being in love.”

“Yeah, but I can make sure the pony she likes won’t go out with her.” Dash said with a grim smirk as she finally got to explain her plan. “Then she’ll stop being in love, and we can play horseshoes. So I need to figure out who that is!”

Rarity’s mouth fell open. “Rainbow! I am shocked!”

“Yeah, that’s mean!” Pinkie said, frowning. “If Applejack loves a pony, she’d be really sad if that pony didn’t like her back! And her front. And her personality, too, that’s really import--”

“Nopony can like any of Applejack except us!” Dash shouted.

Twilight was just staring at Dash, her eyebrows raised and a look of disbelief on her face. “I know how important this is to you, but you can’t want to hurt AJ like that!”

“I don’t wanna hurt her. This is for her own good,” Dash said, shifting uncomfortably. She wasn’t hurting AJ by doing this... she’d be hurting her more by not doing it. The others had to understand. “I mean, AJ’s a special pony, and she shouldn't be with somepony who’s not special. And, even if she found a special pony, she shouldn’t think that pony’s more special than me.” She frowned and looked down at the podium.

After a minute of silence, Rarity said softly, “Rainbow, darling, how long have you felt this way?”

“Since I found out about all of this!” Dash looked up quickly, with a frustrated gesture to her friends. “Why don’t you guys see it?”

Twilight exchanged a look with Rarity, then said kindly to Dash, “Calm down. We... understand how you’re feeling. And we’re all here for you. But you’re not going to be happy if AJ’s heart gets broken, are you?”

Dash hesitated, then shook her head to clear any doubts. “She’ll have us... we’ll make her feel better. Then we won’t have to worry about this ever again.”

“Rainbow, you’re our friend, but Applejack is our friend, too,” Fluttershy calmly explained. “We want you both to be happy, but you can’t do something to make yourself happy, knowing it will make Applejack upset.”

“Applejack won’t be happy with some other pony,” Dash insisted.

“You don’t get to decide that, darling,” Rarity said softly, like she was talking to a foal.

Realization dawned on Dash. She looked at her friends, eyes wide with desperation. “You guys aren’t gonna help me?”

“No.” Rarity bit her lip and frowned. “This is wrong, Rainbow. You are making a mistake.”

Twilight shook her head. “You don’t want to do this, Dash.”

Pinkie smiled sadly. “Dashie, you’re supposed to make your friends smile, not frown.”

Dash looked to Fluttershy, her last hope. But Fluttershy looked down to avoid her stare. “Um... I don’t think I want to do something that would hurt Applejack... so, no.”

Dash sighed. “I don’t get you guys. It’s like you don’t even care that AJ’s gonna love somepony more than us.”

“She’s our friend,” said Twilight. “She’ll always be our friend, and she’ll always be your friend, too. Please don’t do anything you’ll regret.”

“I won’t.” Dash agreed, taking a deep breath. Then her eyes narrowed, “But I’m gonna do what needs to be done.”

With that she flew out of the library, ignoring the voices of her friends calling to her to stop.


Dash flew through Ponyville, judging everypony she saw as a potential target of Applejack’s affections. It had quickly become apparent that she had no idea who it might be. None of the ponies she saw, or could think of, were good enough for Applejack to like that much, and every time she looked at a pony she could just see them with AJ, on that blanket in the park...

She briefly considered trying to convince everypony not to date Applejack, but she didn’t have that much time. Applejack might be meeting her future special somepony any minute, and Dash was supposed to be at the picnic pretty soon. She settled for glaring at anypony she saw, hoping they’d remember, if they were Applejack’s special somepony, that Dash didn’t like them dating her.

She left the town limits flying aimlessly, more focused on glaring than on where she was going. She found herself flying towards Sweet Apple Acres and stopped on the first cloud she came to. Applejack would be leaving soon, and then it would be too late. She had to think of another plan.

Dash couldn’t convince the other pony not to date Applejack, so she’d have to convince Applejack not to date the other pony.

From her cloud perch, Dash looked in the distance at the Sweet Apple Acres farm house. She could see the window to Applejack’s room, where AJ had been hours earlier, worrying about impressing a pony who totally didn’t deserve her and who would ruin everything.

Applejack had nothing to worry about, of course, who wouldn’t be totally impressed by a pony like her? AJ was crazy if she thought she didn’t look cool enough for anypony every single day, with her dusty coat and messily tied back mane...

But AJ didn’t think that! She thought it was important that she looked cool and flashy for this pony, so maybe if she didn’t look cool and flashy, she’d never ask them out! All Dash had to do was figure out a way to get AJ all messed up, and convince her the other pony wouldn’t like her then, and she’d come and play horseshoes with Dash!

With a foolproof plan in her head, Dash scanned the road between Ponyville and Sweet Apple Acres. She quickly found the perfect spot, a dusty strip of road with large bushes on the side. Bringing her cloud with her, she set up about fifty yards away, and waited.

It didn’t take long to see Applejack come trotting happily up the road. As AJ neared the spot, Rainbow Dash focused on her, ready to pounce.

But something held her back. Applejack looked so good... her coat was clean and shiny, her mane looked soft, and the red hat band was a perfect touch; it brought together her hat with her hair ribbons and the apples in her cutie mark. Everything about her seemed cool and confident, from the smile on her face, to the happy tune she was whistling, to the swagger in her walk. Rainbow Dash had seen Applejack dressed up, but this was different. This was normal AJ, but with extra awesome. A part of her just wanted to watch AJ like this and enjoy how perfect she looked right now.

Dash wondered if maybe AJ would dress up like this with her, sometime, and they could be awesome together. Dash decided she would wear her sunglasses, and maybe brush her mane too. They could just walk around town, wowing other ponies with how great they looked and how cool they acted.

But that was the problem, other ponies could see it too. Whomever Applejack was going to find was sure to see how awesome AJ looked today. Dash was sure this was the right plan; she couldn’t let some other pony see AJ like this and take her best friend away from her. AJ would understand that it would be way more awesome hanging out with Dash all the time than being mushy with some other pony.

Rainbow Dash narrowed her eyes, thinking about that other pony, and took off at full speed, straight at Applejack. It was only a few seconds before she felt the impact, AJ’s warm body, the abruptness of the collision, the hard ground and scratchy bushes as the two ponies rolled to the side of the road. Finally, the confusion settled, and Dash found herself in the middle of a bush, on top of AJ, who was struggling to get up. Pressed against her, Dash could smell some kind of perfume that smelled like apples and spices.

“What in tarn-- Rainbow Dash! What’re you doin’ here?” Applejack said, finally freeing herself from beneath the pegasus, and stepping out of the bush, back onto the road. She glanced around for her hat.

“Oh, I’m sorry, AJ. I didn’t see you walking there!” Dash said, flying up and brushing herself off. “I was just out for a fly, ya’ know, practicing a few awesome tricks.” She landed next to AJ with an innocent smile.

“Oh.” Applejack blinked. “That’s okay, I suppose. Just got a little dusty, is all.” She looked down and blushed. Everything was disheveled; there was dust all over her from hitting the road, as well as on her hat which had landed in the dirt a few feet away. She picked it up and stuck it on her head, where her mane was full of sticks and leaves from the bushes.

“Yeah, your mane’s a mess, too,” Dash added.

“Yeah.” Applejack said with a sigh. She looked at where it lay on her shoulder and used her teeth to pull one of the dozens of twigs out of it.

“So I guess you might as well come and play horseshoes with me!” Dash suggested brightly. This was going perfect!

“Okay...” Applejack took a deep breath and smiled, though it seemed more tenuous than her earlier confidence. “Just gimme a minute to talk to Rarity and borrow a brush when we get there.”

“No!” Dash said quickly. She couldn’t let Applejack fix herself up or talk to Rarity, who would just want AJ to go find her dumb special somepony anyway.

“Why not?” Applejack asked, confused.

“Uh...” Dash tried to think. “No way a hairbrush is gonna fix that. You’d need, like, a whole team of spa ponies.”

“You think I look that bad?” Applejack’s face fell, and her big green eyes seemed to be pleading with Dash.

Dash knew she was almost there. “Yeah! Like, totally hideous. You can’t talk to a pony you like looking like that. Good thing I don’t care how awful you look, so we can still... play...” Dash trailed off, as something in Applejack’s face changed drastically.

The pleading disappeared, replaced with panic for a second before her jaw set, and she looked away quickly. “I gotta go.”

“What? AJ, where are you--” Dash started, as AJ took off at top speed for Sweet Apple Acres. “Darn it!”

Shaking her head in confusion, Dash tried to figure out what was happening. This wasn’t the plan, AJ was supposed to be going to the park with her, happy to not have to worry about looking good for some other pony. Dash’s eyes went wide as she realized that AJ was going to fix herself up again, so she could go find that pony! Of course AJ wouldn’t give up that easily, AJ never gave up. It was one of the cool things about her.

It was one of the cool things about Rainbow Dash, too. She flew after her friend, but AJ had a head start. Dash flew over the orchard, scanning the ground for a few moments before she heard the farmhouse door slam

Dash flew straight to AJ’s window, just in time to see the AJ come stomping through the door and slam it behind her. But rather than brushing her mane, AJ threw herself face down on her bed, her shoulders shaking. It took Dash a second to realize that AJ was crying.

Of course she was crying, because... because...

Because of what Dash did. Dash’s ears fell, and she felt her own eyes watering from the speck of dust that probably got in them on her flight. Applejack was so happy when she was going to talk to the pony she liked, and Dash had totally messed it up. There was no denying she’d made AJ cry.

Everything in her heart wanted her to fly through that window and make it stop; it wasn’t supposed to be like this. Her brain told her she was an idiot, this was exactly what was supposed to happen. AJ didn’t think the pony she liked would love her, her heart was broken.

But that was dumb. AJ could get anypony she wanted, her heart didn’t have to be broken. Dash knew that if she went in there, she could tell AJ that. She bit the tip of her hoof, cringing. If she told AJ that, AJ would get the pony she loved, but Dash would lose her best friend. There was an ache in her heart at the thought of not getting to hang out with AJ all the time, not seeing her smile and laugh, not going for long runs and watching her orange coat and muscles get covered in a shiny coat of sweat. And the thought of seeing her being mushy and snuggling with some other pony felt like a knife in the center of that ache.

But looking at AJ crying, and knowing she made AJ cry, that she’d hurt a pony she cared about so much, just to keep herself from hurting... that was worse, she decided. Worse than a million knives. She put her hoof against the cold glass of the window, grimacing at what she was about to do. She slowly slid the window open, and flew inside.

Rainbow Dash landed softly, right next to the window. “Um...”

Applejack looked up quickly, startled. She drew her foreleg across her eyes to dry the tears, and swallowed hard. “Go ‘way, Dash. I-- I need--”

“I’m sorry,” Dash cut her off. “AJ, I was totally wrong. You don’t look hideous, you look cool. And before I crashed into you, you looked really awesome, and I know the pony you love would think so.”

“How did ya’ know...?” Applejack blinked and sat up on her bed.

Dash sighed and shrugged. “Everypony’s talking about it. Everypony is trying to guess who’s lucky enough to make a special pony like you love them. They must be a really amazing pony...”

“She is,” Applejack said, quietly.

“Well, um...” Dash looked at the floor, and forced the words out despite the pain. “I wanna help. I want to help you get your special somepony, AJ. You deserve it. And even if nopony deserves you, I wanna see you look happy and awesome, like you did when you were going to tell her. So, I’ll help you brush your mane and coat, if you want. Or, I can go tell her you’ll be a little late, if you’re worried she’ll be mad. Just tell me who it is, and where you were supposed to meet her.”

“I was supposed to meet her in the park,” said Applejack. “We were gonna play horseshoes.”

Dash cringed, the knife driving deeper into her heart. But she just bit her lip and took a breath. “You should’ve told me. I could have gone someplace else.”

Applejack smiled softly. “It is you, sugarcube.”

“What?” Dash stared at AJ and blinked. The pain started to melt away, even though she was sure she hadn’t heard right. 'It' seemed to refer to the pony AJ loved, but after that came the words 'is you.' Which would mean, since nopony else was here--

Applejack blushed. “I figured... well, I have an awful good time with ya’, and I think you’re pretty, so I decided to ask ya’ out. I just wanted to polish up a bit, to show ya’ I think you’re special.”

“You think I’m special? You made yourself look awesome for me?” Dash did her best to rewrite every thought she’d had in the past twelve hours. “You... wanted to ask me out?”

Slowly, her earlier visions of the park transformed. The random other pony turned into Rainbow Dash, and instead of goopy things, she and AJ would tell each other how awesome they were. When she nuzzled AJ she would feel her mane, and smell the spicy apple scent on her neck, and suddenly Dash realized that the apples and spices smelled an awful lot like cider. Her mouth watered, and the thought rendered her speechless.

Applejack’s face clouded, and she looked down as she went on. “I didn’t know ya’ think I look... hideous when my mane’s messy and I’m a bit dirty. So, I reckon I know your answer now.”

That was enough to break Dash out of her stupor. “No! I don’t think you look hideous! Ever! I just said that because...”

Applejack looked up, waiting for Dash to finish the sentence. It was Dash’s turn to blush. She frantically searched for an excuse, but she couldn’t think of one that would both convince AJ that Dash wasn’t a jerk and explain that AJ was absolutely wrong about Dash’s answer. Looking into expectant green eyes, Dash decided that the latter was more important.

“I said that because I’m a jerk,” she informed Applejack. “I knocked you down on purpose. And I tried to make you think another pony wouldn’t like you.”

Applejack’s mouth fell open. “Why would ya’ do that?”

Dash looked down and ran her hoof over the back of her mane. “I was afraid that if you got a special somepony, you wouldn’t have time for me. And, I really, really like hanging out with you. So, I figured that if you thought you looked bad, you wouldn’t want to ask out the pony you liked, you’d just come and play horseshoes with me. I’m sorry.”

Dash barely glanced up, and upon seeing Applejack’s steely glare she immediately looked back down.

“Of all the low-down, selfish, sneaky varmints...” AJ growled. “You really thought I might just forget ‘bout my best friend? Did ya’ even think for a minute how I might feel in any of this?!”

“I thought you wouldn’t be that upset, because whatever pony you liked totally wouldn’t deserve you.” Dash forced herself to meet AJ’s glare out of the corner of her eye. “I was right, by the way.”

Applejack’s face softened to a frown. “Well, you did manage to make a right mess of things.”

“Yeah,” Dash agreed.

“But, ya’ also came here to make it right,” AJ said, even more softly. “You were gonna help me, even if ya’ thought it meant losin’ me. That’s the Rainbow Dash I want for my special somepony.”

Dash’s eyebrows went up, and her ears perked. She was afraid to say anything, almost afraid to breathe, in case it reminded AJ of what an idiot she’d been.

Applejack smiled. “Dash, you wanna go out with me sometime?”

“Yeah!” Dash shouted, zooming across the room and scooping Applejack into a hug.

“Good. Just don’t do that again, okay?” Applejack said with a grin, returning the hug. She gave Dash a nuzzle, and Dash rubbed her cheek against Applejack’s, smelling that apples and spice perfume, feeling AJ’s soft mane on the tip of her muzzle.

“Do what again?” Dash said, dazed by the new sensations, both physical and emotional. How did she never know she wanted this so much? How could a pony she’d known so long smell so good all of a sudden? How could anything feel better than knowing that Applejack wanted to hang out and do awesome stuff with her, and hug and nuzzle like this?

Applejack was in love. And that was awesome, because Rainbow Dash was, too.


The park was sunny and bright, with birds singing in the trees and only a few fluffy clouds here and there. Fluttershy, Pinkie, Twilight and Rarity sat on a large blanket when Rainbow Dash and Applejack arrived, slightly late to the picnic.

“Hey, guys,” Dash said with a sheepish smile.

AJ gave her a poke in the side. “Go on now...”

“I, um, just wanted to say... you were right. It was really dumb of me to try to hurt AJ and keep her from getting together with the pony she likes. I almost really messed things up, just because I didn’t listen to my friends.”

Twilight smiled, and glanced between AJ and Dash nervously. “That’s okay, Dash. But, um, you’re both okay now?”

“Better than okay!” Dash grinned. “AJ got to ask out the pony she likes!”

“You’re happy with that, darling?” Rarity arched an eyebrow at Dash.

Applejack smiled at Rarity, and draped a forehoof around Dash. “Turns out I got a soft spot for crazy featherbrains.”

Rarity and Twilight let out twin sighs of relief as smiles spread across their faces.

“This is perfect! Apples and rainbows aren’t the yummiest, but they’re the friendy-est and the happiest and the snickerdoodliest!” Pinkie bounced, and her eyes grew wide. “Wow, that’s even more fun to say than snickerdoodle!”

“Congratulations, both of you,” Rarity offered, the smile still on her face.

Fluttershy beamed at the couple. “I’m so glad everything worked out.”

“And I think Rainbow Dash learned some very important things today.” Twilight grinned and raised an eyebrow at Dash.

“Yeah.” Dash agreed, thinking about the day. “I learned that you have to trust awesome ponies to make awesome choices in special someponies. And I learned that I never, ever wanna make AJ cry, no matter what.” Applejack grinned and nuzzled her, and Dash blushed with a nervous glance to her friends. “And, most importantly, I learned that love isn’t mushy if both of the ponies in love aren’t mushy. So I can snuggle Applejack, and it’s not mushy, even if it looks kind of mushy.”

Rarity smirked. “Are you sure, darling? I mean, the two of you look quite mushy. Don’t they, Twilight?”

“Yup, definitely looks like some mush there,” Twilight said, giggling.

“I know, but it’s totally not!” Dash said, grinning proudly as she wrapped a wing around Applejack and returned the nuzzle to demonstrate the new rule. “See? This would be really mushy with anypony else, but it’s not with me and AJ.”

“Weird how that works, huh?” Applejack said with a wink to the other girls. “Come on, sugarcube, let’s play some horseshoes!”

“You’re on!” Rainbow Dash grinned as she flew to set up the pitch, secure in the knowledge that she was totally right; Applejack would never miss a game of horseshoes.

Author's Notes:

This is an official entry into the AppleDash group's summer contest, found here.

Thanks to Jake Roberts, DbzOrDie, and First_Down for pre-reading.

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