Applecores and Rainbows
"Ya know, Rainbow, when ya asked if Ah wanted to 'take a roll in the hay,' Ah figured you had lost that colorful head'a yers."
Applejack and Rainbow Dash continued to play in the large bales of hay set beneath the pegasus' home. Between the diving, jumping, and rolling, the dried grass had begun to unravel into a cushioned blanket over the ground.
Dash laughed. "Now who has the 'gutter-brain'?"
Earlier that day, Dash had helped Old Pony Whitaker by moving clouds over his land to provide shade while he worked the fields. Though it wasn't an official order for the weather team, she had felt charitable that morning, taking it into her own hooves to move the spare clouds his way. Never the one to let a favor go unpaid, and without bits to spare, the farmer gave Dash the only thing he had; hay. With no real use for the bales, she decided to have some foalish fun, inviting AJ to join in.
The pegasus hovered above one of the deflated rolls. "My impression of Rarity at the Best Young Flier Competition!" Dash began to flutter daintily through the air, humming an off-tune melody. "'Oh, everypony! Look at my beautiful wings! La la-la LA! And now I fly up to the sun! Oh, no! Wahahaa!'" Dash closed her wings falling into the bale below. Both ponies shared a laugh at the spectacle.
This was one of numerous 'dates' they had gone on in the past weeks, if they could be called such. Though both ponies enjoyed these outings, they were also keeping their relationship to themselves. They shared a 'date' in the park, a 'date' working on Sweet Apple Acres together, a 'date' to Pinkie's 'Wednesday Party,' and a 'date' swimming in the creek, sneaking small nuzzles and kisses throughout each when nopony was looking. It wasn't much, but they always enjoyed the time with each other.
AJ jumped in the pile of hay, falling into place beside Dash. "You sure are one silly filly, Dashie." She pecked a light kiss on the blue pegasus' cheek. Both ponies blushed warmly.
"Hey, AJ," Dash began, composing herself. "Have you thought about maybe going out on a date? I mean, a real date. Like, to dinner, maybe?"
AJ half-feared that the question would come up. It wasn't that she didn't feel for Dash. She had found herself over the past days swilling in new, heated emotions over the blue pony. Despite her feelings, though, a part of her was still scared of being caught dating a mare. She feared what could happen if others found out.
"Well, Dash, Ah have," the orange pony confessed. "Ah'll be honest, Ah'm awfully worried about it."
Dash looked to the mare beside her. "You? Worried? That doesn't sound like my AJ. What's the worse that can happen?"
Applejack smiled, feeling comforted by the pegasus' words. "Ah just... Ah dunno. What if ponies find out? What if they figure out we're... ya know..."
"Fillyfoolers?" Dash finished.
The word felt cold in AJ's mind. "Well, yeah. Ah mean, Ah do love ya, Sugarcube, and Ah'd stand up to anypony for ya. Ah just don't know if I'm ready to be out there like that."
The blue pegasus sat forward, looking towards the nearby Ponyville. "Well, I never said we had to 'come out.' Just, you know, a real date. Maybe have a nice dinner, just the two of us. Nopony has to know there's anything romantic going on. Please?"
As much as AJ fretted over the idea, there was something stronger urging her now. Dash wasn't the kind to beg, not for anything, but her voice was full of a pleading now. This was something she really wanted. Something she wanted to share with the orange pony.
Applejack sat up beside her mare, putting a foreleg around the pony. "Dash, you really want this, don't ya?"
Rainbow nuzzled the farmer. "Yeah, I guess I do. I want to enjoy a nice night out with my marefriend." She looked back out over Ponyville. "And, look, if anypony does accuse us of being 'that way,' I won't blame you if you deny it. I'll understand."
AJ wouldn't hear any of that. "If anypony accuses us, Ah'll help ya to put'em in place mahself! What kinda marefriend would Ah be if Ah let mah gal take the fall like that?"
Dash seemed to melt at the words, a burning blush on her cheeks. AJ loved how cute the blue pony looked when embarrassed. The earth pony leaned in, rubbing her muzzle close to her partner's, easing closer to the pegasus' mouth, before finally locking their lips in a deep, passionate kiss. Their tongues tangled over each other as Dash pulled her partner tightly to her, holding the pony within her wings.
The pair broke just long enough to exchange words.
"I love you, AJ."
"Ah love you too, Dashie."
"Whadda ya think'a this one, Big Macintosh?" AJ did a single turn, letting her brother see the outfit she wore.
AJ had a booth reserved at a popular restaurant in Ponyville for her date with Dash tonight. Though it normally took weeks of waiting on the list to get a seat, the owner and chef, Mr. Sous, had had a longstanding trade with the Apple family. It only took a free delivery of apples to get a spot on short notice.
She had been trying on various outfits for the past half hour. It was her first real date, and with somepony she cared greatly for. Her nerves were jittery beyond any anxiety she knew before. Part of her wanted to go all-out, dressing as if she was fresh from the Gala. Another part still remembered the low-key nature of the date, pressing for something less flashy. She couldn't dress too lazily, though, as the restaurant maintained an air of sophistication. The battle raged in her head with each outfit.
She now wore a decorative brown saddle with green frilled accents around the edge, and matching cowboy boots on her hooves. As with all of the outfits, her hat was still atop her mane.
Big Macintosh sat on AJ's small bed, looking over his sister's outfit. He was the only pony who knew of the couple, and as such was the only pony who could help her now.
"Well," he began in his usual drawl, "Ah think it looks good."
AJ huffed in frustration. "That's the same thing ya said about the last four! Ya ain't helpin'!"
The red stallion sighed. "AJ, ya look fine. Why can't ya just go as ya always look?"
She gave him a sharp glare. "This is mah first dinner date, and ya want me to go out looking like Ah'm straight off'a the farm?"
"You are straight off'a the farm, AJ," the stallion replied.
Applejack let out a sigh, turning back to look at the small mirror on the wall. "Ah know Ah am, Big Macintosh. But Ah wanna look good tonight. For Dash."
"Ah thought you said no pony was s'pose'ta know it was a date?" he asked. "Besides, Ah don't think Dash would dress up fer something like this."
She hadn't even thought of how Dash would dress. If they were sticking to keeping it a secret date, obviously the pegasus wouldn't wear something that drew attention. Maybe she should just go as she always looked. But, what if Dash did dress for the night? She didn't want to imagine the shame of Dash, looking gorgeous in a nice gown, showing up with a poor farmer pony in tow.
"What do Ah do, Big Macintosh? Ah ain't ever had to do something like this before." If there was any pony she could trust to give a straight answer, it was her brother.
"AJ." The red pony stood from the bed, stepping to his sister's side. "Ya look beautiful in this outfit. And it ain't too flashy. Dash'll love it."
Applejack couldn't help but blush. She hugged the pony. "Thank you, Big Macintosh."
She knew she could always count on her family when she needed them.
It hadn't been easy to leave the family home that evening without Granny Smith or Applebloom taking notice of her get-up. Big Macintosh agreed to create a diversion, sabotaging a pie in the oven. With the family darting to the source of the smoke in the kitchen, she was able to leave unnoticed. However, she now owed Big Macintosh a week free of his house chores, taking them over herself.
The sun hovered in the evening sky, painting the air a warm yellow. Traces of clouds left over by the weather team hung gracefully above, stained red by the refracted light within them. If one strained to look, they could see the stars just barely twinkling in the sky opposite the sun. The farmer laughed, thinking how romantic the scene would be tonight and having to play it off as if it was just a chance dinner. Something else inside her tugged woefully at her heart, realizing how she wouldn't be able to enjoy the date with Dash as much as she wanted because of their guise. She shook away the feelings, deciding not to let the night start badly.
That was when she saw Dash, sitting at the end of the road to Sweet Apple Acres. The pegasus had too decided to dress for the event. She wore a flowing gown, dyed an almost white shade of cyan. The cloth sashed over her frame, showing off her lithe figure and delicate wings. It was as if the very atmosphere was made for the pony; the yellow of the sky complimented her blue coat, and the glowing clouds reflected her eyes. She had even styled her mane for the occasion. She was stunning.
AJ couldn't hide the grin spreading over her face. "You look amazing, Rainbow."
Dash moved towards the orange pony, giving an affectionate nuzzle. "You look gorgeous yourself, babe."
As AJ's heart pounded wildly in her chest, she knew that this was how the night needed to start. The two took to their journey, walking side by side.
Both ponies were seated in the plush booth at the mention of the Apple name. The two found themselves in awe of the decor around them, with deep, warm colors mixing artfully with the dim lighting. The whole building felt comforting to just be in.
The walk to the restaurant had been quiet, if unnerving to AJ. Only a few ponies had turned to look at the well dressed couple, and they had luckily avoided meeting any of their friends on the way. Once inside the luxurious bistro, they found their attire to blend better in the setting, though they were still by far the best dressed there.
Sitting across from each other, Dash was the first to speak up. "How did you get us in a place like this?!"
AJ almost felt like boasting her connections, but decided to play it down. "Ah know a guy." Was this how Twilight felt every time she spoke of the Princess? "Ya don't feel outta place, do ya?"
Dash shrunk within her seat. "A little. I mean, I was expecting maybe just going to the cafe, but then you got us a table here. You really went all out on this... dinner, huh?"
AJ knew she wanted to say 'date.' So did she. "Well, Ah had to get the best fer mah best pal, right?" The coded talk was killing her.
The waiter showed in a moment with two glasses of water and menus on the tray in his teeth. As the mares looked over the menu, they quickly realized that maybe they were in over their heads.
"Uh, AJ?" Dash whispered. "I can't read this stuff. It isn't even in our language!"
The pegasus was exaggerating, but not by much. The descriptions were full of words the two had never seen before. Nothing was simple, and every name had a gourmet twist to it. This was Rarity's game, not theirs. They had foalishly walked into the territory of the cultured.
The waiter was soon by the table again. "So, ladies, what will you be dining on this evening."
Both ponies must have had the most shocked looks on their faces. "Uh, well Rainbow, what'll it be?" AJ nervously smiled at the pegasus.
"Me?! I don't know what to get! I don't even know what this stuff is!" Dash had spoken rather loudly. A few ponies began to glance at the couple.
"Uh, we'll just leave it up to the Chef to decide, thank ya." It was a gamble, but what else was AJ to do?
The waiter shot a snooty scowl to the table as he took the menus back.
AJ sighed. "Ah'm mighty sorry, Rainbow. Ah guess Ah didn't think this through very well."
Dash smiled tenderly to her marefriend-in-secret. Beneath the table, she moved her hind hoof to gently brush that of her partner's. "Hey, don't be like that. As long as you're here, it's perfect." AJ felt her cheeks flush beneath her coat.
Within moments, a rather round yellow pony, dressed in a chef's smock and hat moved to beside the table. It was Mr. Sous himself. He spoke in a heavy accent. "Ah, Madam Applejack! And who is your companion this evening?"
AJ returned to her senses. "Oh howdy, Mr. Sous! This here's mah pal Rainbow Dash." Date. She wanted so badly to say 'date.'
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Madam Dash. I am Monsieur Sous," the chef pony said, his funny little mustache rising with his smile. "I must return to the kitchen now, but I make it a point to always meet the ponies who leave the meal to my choosing. I am sure it will be to your likings!"
The pony bounded back through the small restaurant, disappearing into the kitchen.
Dash smirked. "So, that was your guy?" She had figured AJ out.
"Yeah. Mah family's been in business with Mr. Sous fer years." Applejack replied.
Dash looked quizzically to her friend. "So, you've known him for so long, but you've never eaten here?"
AJ returned the brushing of hooves beneath the table. "Ah never had a reason to before."
The waiter from before walked over to the table again, carrying another tray. He placed a bottle of pink liquid on the table, as well as two empty glasses. Aj remarked how the color looked just like Dash's eyes. "Rose wine, compliments of Monsieur Sous."
"Whoa there, fella!" Applejack responded before the waiter could leave. "What's the deal here? Free wine? What's this fer?"
The waiter tried to keep a dignified look. "If you wish, you may ask the chef yourself."
Excellent idea. AJ excused herself from the table to talk with Sous.
The kitchen was a swarming madness of clashing dishes and foreign words. A living sea of white-clad ponies flowed around the small room, each working a station feverishly. Shouting orders like a general to his officers, Sous was in the middle of the hive.
AJ stood by the door as word was passed to the head chef. A whisper in his ear over the bustle of the room, and he hastily met with the mare. "Is there a problem, Madam Applejack?"
"Oh, no, Mr. Sous. No problem," AJ replied. "But, Ah gotta ask about the wine. That bottle's gotta be worth more than all'a the apples I brought ya. What's the occasion?"
The chef pony laughed in earnest. "'What is the occasion?' Madam Applejack, though I do not come from your land, I am not deaf to the language of love. You feel for that pony, no? I cannot let an heir of my most loyal suppliers bring a love to my bistro without me providing the best! The wine is own the house, as is the dinner for the both of you, and I will not accept anything less!"
The chef saw right through her. He saw what she was scared to show. But more than that, he was okay with it. More than okay; he celebrated it!
"Thank you, Mr. Sous," she replied, a joyful smile appearing on her features. She left the kitchen, returning to Dash.
The two mares left the restaurant just after sundown. Luna's moon was full, illuminating the ground the couple walked on. The meal was outstanding. For Applejack, the chef prepared a wonderful pasta, prepared on a bed of imported grasses, topped with a savory sauce made of clovers and daisies. For Dash, he prepared a dish native to Cloudsdale; a minty cloudleaf salad, complimented with a bowl of stormdrop soup. It was a dish Dash herself had never had the fortune to eat, as it took an expert chef to actually cook a cloud into a broth! She could still feel the tingles of electricity through her mouth!
The rose wine, however, was a different beast. It was quick to see why Berry Punch enjoyed the drink so much. It was sweet to the tongue, with a barely bitter edge, both flavors mixing wondrously in the throat. But more than that, the two mares found, it would quickly get you drunk! Dash had scarcely drank in her life, mostly during her rebellious years at Flight School. It was clear to her immediately though that AJ had never touched the drink before. The farmer was quite tipsy.
"Ah think that drink's doin' somethin' mighty funny to me." AJ replied, her accent sounding even thicker under the alcohol's influence.
"Heh, well yeah! You had enough of it!" Dash herself was feeling the effect, but not to the extent of the pony beside her.
"Woo-ee!" the farmer continued, wobbling on her hooves as she moved. "So this's why Uncle Shine makes that 'Apple Cider' stuff'a his? Ah always thought it a waste'a apples to make that burnin' stuff, but this explains it right quick! Better'n salt any day!"
Dash couldn't help but laugh. AJ looked too cute as she slurred over her words. She noted to herself how they needed another night like this some time. "AJ, I think you're wasted!"
The orange pony hiccuped. "Eeyup. Ah think Ah am." She laughed with the pegasus. "Mind walking me home, Sugarcube?"
Dash blushed as she placed a protective wing over her mare. Under the night sky, she felt safe displaying her affection for the pony, free of judging eyes.
With the more sober pegasus guiding, the pair soon found themselves back before the farmhouse. The building stood silent, the occupants having long since gone to sleep.
Dash nuzzled the drunken pony. "Well, here we are. Now go get some rest, AJ."
Before she could react, the farmer planted a warm kiss on her lips. She tasted of apples and wine, Dash thought, as she absorbed the wonderful flavor.
Applejack parted from the kiss. "Dash? Would you like to sleep with me tonight?"
Dash found her body suddenly stiff, face burning with a blush so deep she could see its color reflected in AJ's eyes. Her wings had shot up into a flared pose.
AJ giggled, hiccuping a bit as she did. "Not like that, Dash. Just, do ya wanna stay?"
Dash found her body had relaxed with the new words, though her heart still rattled with excitement. "What about your family?"
The earth pony nuzzled her beneath the chin. "Ah got a door, ya know. Besides," She looked up, kissing Dash again. "Ah don't mind'em knowing."
Dash swore her heart was trying to escape. The orange pony nudged at her lovingly, moving them both towards the house together. Dash followed, her pulse charging like a stampede through her veins.
They disappeared into the still house for the night.