Nothing I Wouldn't Do For You

by Sharp Spark

Chapter 1: Apples

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“I have a delightful idea for what to do next,” Rarity sang out. I knew that tone of voice. It meant trouble.

I warily glanced across the table at Twilight and her worried eyes showed she felt the same. But the moment was broken immediately as I couldn’t help but giggle at the streak of chocolate across her muzzle. When it came to eatin’ proper s’mores, Rarity still preferred her own kind of hoity-toity ‘etiquette’, but Twilight had surprisingly taken to my method like a pig to mud.

It was just the three of us for the sleepover. Much like that very first one over a year ago, right after Twi had moved to the town and we were all getting to know one another. Since then we’d had plenty more, but usually with more of the girls invited. It always helped to have Pinkie around, bouncing from one crazy activity to the next and dragging the lot of us along with her. Even managed to wean Twilight off that big slumber party book of hers, eventually.

But tonight it was just me, Twilight, and Rarity. When Twi had suggested it, she had dressed it up in a lot of fancy, calling it a ‘control group’ for ‘measuring gross sleepover efficiency improvement’. I told her I didn’t know that ‘gross’ was any sort of thing to call a good time, but she just laughed nervously and went off into a whole ramble fulla the kind of long words I suspect she might be making up on the spot. Halfway through I caught that Rarity was gonna be there too, and that was good enough for me.

That first sleepover was a real fond memory to me, even though in some ways it was the start of all the trouble. That was when I had really fallen for her – Rarity. Not like any pony could blame me, cause that girl is anything but hard on the eyes. But something about that night… So much of the time, Rares comes off as fake. All proper and soft and… well, weak. But underneath that, she’s got iron in her bones, and each time I pushed her on one thing, she came back spitting fire ‘bout another. It was such a surprise I kept right on! Ribbing her on this or that, secretly delighting on bein’ on the receiving end her sharp tongue and sharper mind in response, even if it did wind up with me wearing that... dress.

And then when push came to shove and it looked like the night was gonna be ruined, she came through all flying colors. That was when it hit me. I was head over heels, I realized... even though I knew it’d never work out, neither. So I dealt with it like I deal with everything. Kept my mouth shut, did my work, and moved on with my life, hoping it’d pass. Moonin’ over some pony ain’t gonna plow the south fields.

Time passed. But the feelings didn’t. Guess my heart could be as stubborn as the rest of me.

“What’s your idea, Rares?” I asked, miming across to Twilight to wipe off her face. She stared at me blankly for a long moment until she got it, and then audibly squeaked as she dashed away in search of a napkin. I looked down at the pile of ‘em on the table in front of us and smiled in amusement.

“We’re girls. It’s a sleepover.” Rarity paused, a grin appearing on her face. “Let’s talk about stallions.”

“Oh no,” I said, my head shaking violently. “No no no.” At my expression, Rarity’s smile grew even bigger. See? As much as I could tease her, she gave as good as she got. “Twilight,” I said desperately, “back me up here?”

She mumbled something into her napkin, across the room and not facing either of us.

“Come, Applejack,” Rarity purred. “Let’s talk juicy details. There’s got to be some pony out there that you’ve got your eye on.”

My mouth clicked shut. I forced it open again. “A-absolutely not. I don’t have a crush on nopony.” I felt my traitorous muzzle scrunch up reflexively and cursed under my breath.

Rarity hadn’t missed it. Her eyes lit up in an infuriatingly cute way. “Double negatives aside, I think we both know that’s not true.”

“I— Uh—” I looked over as Twilight trotted back to the table, but all I could see were a pair of wide eyes over the napkin she still held to her mouth. My shoulders slumped. “Fine. There’s a pony I like. Don’t matter none though, cause nothin’s gonna come of it.”

I shivered as Rarity put a hoof against my shoulder. “Why would you say that, darling?”

I bit my lip, trying to keep my thoughts in check. “Want me to count the ways? Too far outta my league, and we don’t have anything in common, and… and… I could never actually tell he— uh. him.”

“Applejack Apple!” Rarity chided. “I’ll have you know that you are quite the catch. I’ve seen the stallions practically start a brawl over a place in line to buy from you in the market, and let me tell you, the Apple they’re eyeing isn’t in any one of your baskets. You’re a very attractive mare. Right, Twilight?”

Twi wore a dazed expression like someone had just thumped her over the head good and hard. Clearly she hadn’t been expecting the night to take this particular line, and I had to suppress a smile at her perplexment. “Um. Yes!” she finally choked out. “Very… beautiful.” Her cheeks turned pink and she looked away again.

“And sharing the same interests is highly overrated,” Rarity continued. “A relationship is not about finding your twin or copy. It’s about finding someone who complements you. Differences of thought and of personality are healthy. Gives you something to talk about, things to do with one another, chances to share what’s important with someone you love for the first time. That’s magical.”

“Someone you love,” I mutter.

“Hm.” Rarity paused, rubbing her hoof lightly against her chin. “Idea!” she sung out. “Why don’t I arrange for a spa day this next week. I know that’s not normally your thing, but trust me. A little work and I just know you’ll shine. Maybe that’s what you need for some confidence.” Her eyes shot across to Twi. “And we’ll have Twilight come, and you can even practice asking another pony out.” I snuck a glance, and Twilight was practically hiding her face behind the table, glowing with embarrassment. Poor girl. “Then, when it does come to talking with this mare that you have a thing for, you can just—”

“Hold on there,” I said, something in that past sentence having sent a chill down my spine. I swallowed. It took me a minute to actually convince my mouth to say, “Mare?”

“Oops,” Rarity said. She grinned, scrunching her nose up in feigned mischief, even as her eyes seemed to pierce right through me. “Truth be told, I was already sort of under the certain impression that… you preferred mares?”

“You— Why would you think that?” I said.

“Well, dear, you’ve hardly shown interest in any colts around town. Or what about when Trenderhoof visited? He was hanging all over you and you wouldn’t even bat an eye.”

“Yeah,” I said, voice sounding weak, “and that coulda been because he was a weedy little twerp with some borderline offensive views about earth ponies.”

“Perhaps.” Rarity tilted her head. “Well? Am I mistaken? Do you like stallions?”

My mouth opened and shut as I tried to figure out what to say, doomed by the knowledge that she’d could read me like a book if I tried to lie.

“Applejack,” she said softly. “It’s not going to change anything. We’re your friends, no matter what.”

I saw Twilight jerking her head up and down to my side and sighed. “I… I reckon I do like mares.”

Rarity’s smile blossomed again and it did something fierce to my heart. “See? There’s nothing wrong about that.”

“There is, if the gal you like don’t feel the same way,” I muttered.

“Do you know that?” a voice called out from my side. I looked over to see Twilight staring at me with an intent expression.

I chuckled, without much mirth in it. “I’ve got a few reasons to think so. Let’s start with a coupla big, ugly male ones, shall we?”

“Maybe you’re wrong,” Twilight said. I didn’t quite know where she had suddenly got the nerve from. “Maybe just because someone has a quick fling in odd circumstances a long way away, that doesn’t speak for her whole sexuality. Maybe somepony’s been thinking about you the whole time and you never even realized it.” Her eyes flickered back and forth, and I realized she kept glancing at Rarity.

I blinked, trying to figure things out, and feeling a soaring hope mixed with dread at the thought. Had the two of them planned… Blueblood was a long time ago, after all. And it’s not like he nor that Trender fella ever gave Rarity the time of day, which was rightly baffling in my eyes.

When I did look at Rarity, she had dropped the light smile. Her expression was dead serious, her face paler than even before. She… she was nervous too?

“Maybe you should just tell her how you feel,” Twilight’s voice drifted into my ears, barely above a whisper.

“I…” My heart was pounding so hard it seemed about ready to burst outta my chest. I took a deep breath, then another. Rarity’s mouth fell open, her eyes darting between me and Twilight.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. I flailed around for the scene that had run through my head a million times, the wild fantasy that I had been so sure was just that – fantasy. I could do this. I could make this work.

I gritted my teeth and reached out to hold Rarity’s hoof between mine.

“Rarity, there’s something I need to tell ya.”

She took a shallow breath, her brow furrowing. “Applejack, hold on.”

“I’ve thought about this a long time, and I want you to know that I really mean it. And that whatever you say, I still think the moon an’ stars of you.”

"Wait," she said, as horror shone in her eyes. “Please don't…”

I closed my eyes, unable to bear looking at her. The hope that had buoyed me was quickly evaporating but I couldn’t back down now, even as I heard her whisper an “Oh no…”

“Rarity, I think I’m in love with you.”

I opened my eyes again to see a deep sadness mar that face I loved so much.

“Oh, Applejack,” she said quietly, even the very tone of her voice a dagger in my heart. “You know you are one of my most precious friends, and trust me, there’s nothing I wouldn’t be willing to do on your behalf. But…”

“Alright, you can stop right there,” I said, my voice rough to my own ears. I pulled my hoof back. “I know how the rest plays out.”

Rarity’s mouth moved as she tried to find the right words to say.

“I’ve always known that’s how things were,” I said, a bitter smile crossing my face. “But I used to be able to at least pretend to myself that it could be different, that we could have something. Maybe this is more honest.” I shook my head. “Thanks, Rares. I guess it’s for the best. I’m a lucky mare to have the farm and my family. Not gonna complain if romance ain’t in the cards for a pony like me.”

“Applejack,” Rarity said, her voice pained. “Don’t say that. I just—”

I tilted my hat forward to shade my eyes. I could feel a hot wetness collecting in them, but forced my voice to be level. “S’alright,” I said. “But if you two will excuse a silly fillyfooler, I could stand to be alone for a bit.”

As I turned to walk away, I saw Twilight sitting there, silent but with tears running down her own cheeks. I felt like the lowest pony in Equestria right about then, and that only made me feel lower.

It wasn’t until I made it to the bathroom and locked the door securely behind me that I started crying in earnest.

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