|Diamond in the Rough
Author: AbsoluteAnonymous PM
After the Gala, Applejack has a little too much to drink, and Rarity agrees to escort her home; but then, much to Rarity's embarrassment, Applejack decides that right then and there is the perfect time to confront the unicorn about their true feelings.Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Romance - Applejack & Rarity - Words: 3,143 - Reviews: 37 - Favs: 87 - Follows: 25 - Updated: 10-22-11 - Published: 10-21-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7482158
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The drink was a glacé of iced punch, and tasted like some kind of blend of citrus and other fruit flavours. It was completely unlike anything Applejack had ever tasted before, and it was delicious. Although it burned her throat a little on the first sip, she found that a second sip of the cool drink soothed that; and before she knew it she'd drunk the whole thing and was getting another.
Upon leaving the Gala, the six of them had hung out for a while at Pony Joe's for Spike's benefit. After all, he'd just wanted them to spend some time together in his hometown, and they couldn't really deny him that. He was just a kid. But as the night went on and eventually Celestia herself had decided to retire, Twilight decided that it was time to put him to bed; and once they were free of their underage charge, they'd decided to go somewhere a little more grown-up.
Still in their Gala finery, the six of them had together found a quiet, cozy little pub to spend the night. Somehow, it had a much more welcoming atmosphere then the ball they'd just abandoned. It wasn't too crowded; small groups of friends sat around every table, talking and laughing and eating and drinking. They themselves had chosen a more private table in the corner, far from the other customers.
Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash were having a contest to see who could eat the most plates of nachos, having apparently already gotten over the disastrous evening. Fluttershy looked haggard, staring off into space and not touching her food, mouth occasionally twitching. The others had silently agreed not to ask her if she was okay, remembering the look on her face when she'd charged into the ballroom earlier. Twilight, on the other hand, looked satisfied enough with how the night had ended, sitting primly upright, eyes closed in concentration, as if she was mentally composing another letter to her mentor. Rarity, on the other hand, ripped off her tiara, sulking, the moment they'd sad down.
When they'd ordered their food and drinks, she'd ordered something with a long, exotic name, one of her fancy, hoity-toity, city-sophisticate drinks. And on an impulse, Applejack had ordered the same. When the drinks arrived Rarity had looked at her oddly, but Applejack ignored her, opting instead to focus on the cup as she tried to figure out how an earth pony was meant to drink it.
And now, after what felt like hours had passed, here she was ordering yet another round, taking another deep sip of whatever-it-was.
"Applejack, perhaps you should be drinking that in...moderation?" Rarity suggested quietly, casting her a side glance.
At first Applejack couldn't answer. A cold burn numbed her mouth and throat. Her hooves on the table suddenly seemed a long way away from her body, and Rarity's voice seemed strangely distant. She tried to come up with something clever to say, but her thoughts were getting all tangled.
"Nah, I'm fine," she finally responded, with great effort. "Just peachy." And she hiccupped.
"Most unladylike." Rarity sniffed, taking another sip of her own drink. "I'll have you know that getting inebriated in public is a sign of loss of control, and a sure-fire way to social ruin."
"Ah reckon Ah don't really give a damn 'bout any of that."
Twilight had taken out a notebook and quill from somewhere and had begun to take notes on something. Nopony bothered to ask her what she was doing or why she'd had writing tools on her at all; she was utterly lost in her task. At some point Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie had left the table, and nopony bothered to ask where they'd gone. Fluttershy was joylessly pounding down shot after shot like an old, bitter alcoholic, a glazed look in her eyes as she glowered at the table.
"Well, this night looks like a bust." Applejack finally slurred with great effort. She felt the room lurch as she stood up. "I guess I'll just be headin' back on home fer now. See y'all later."
"Applejack, you cannot be serious." Rarity interrupted. "You can barely stand! How in Equestria are you planning to get all the way out to Sweet Apple Acres on your own?"
"By...by walking?" Applejack said slowly. Words were getting more and more difficult, and the room almost seemed like it was spinning. She took a step forward, but lost her balance and started to pitch forward. Before she could land on her face a rush of unicorn magic caught her and righted her.
"Applejack, as a good friend, I cannot possibly allow you to head outside in this condition. You are not well, and I will escort you back home." Rarity said firmly, stepping away from her seat and taking a place beside Applejack. "Twilight, Fluttershy, I bid you a good night. We shall see you in the morning, I suppose."
Fluttershy grunted an incomprehensible response before taking another shot, and Twilight only nodded, a million miles away.
"Hey," Applejack said suddenly. "Where'sh...where'sh...the other two? The, the...aw, darnit, what's wrong with my mouth? I don't..."
"Come along now," Rarity interrupted primly, dragging Applejack along with her magic. "Before you make an even bigger fool of yourself."
Once they were outside, the cool night air hit Applejack like a slap in the face, and she stumbled forward in a daze, swaying. The air was crisp and clean, and the sky was clear, leaving nothing to mask the lovely silver moon or countless glittering stars.
"Lookit that!" She suddenly shouted, raising her head to look at the sky. "It's jist like Twi's dress, all...all sparkling. Oh, hey! Heh, heh...it's like...it's like Twilight Sparkle! Her name! I git it!"
"Applejack, you're embarrassing me." Rarity said curtly.
Applejack turned her head and blinked into a pair of very wide, very frowning blue eyes.
She hiccupped again, then made a profound discovery.
"I'm drunk," she announced.
Rarity sighed, and began to magically push Applejack forward again. "I can tell," she muttered, half under her breath.
Sweet Apple Acres was a ways out of town, meaning that it would be a long, arduous walk with the drunken Applejack, who was getting more and more on Rarity's nerves with every passing moment.
Applejack was already frustratingly unconcerned with what others thought of her. Even when sober, she was far too open and loud about what she did, never seeming to care whether anypony else heard her. This was the complete opposite of the fastidious Rarity, who spent nearly every waking second striving to make the best impression possible to everypony around.
Drunken Applejack, on the other hand, was far, far worse. Normally, she just didn't seem especially bothered with what she did in public, but at the moment it seemed like she was actively going out of
her way to call as much attention to herself as possible. Rarity, at least, knew how to regulate her behaviour when drinking, although admittedly she could already feel a headache setting in from the alcohol she'd taken earlier.
She was only half-listening to Applejack's ramblings, trying to ignore the way she'd slung a hoof around Rarity's neck as she led her home. Or the way she kept inexplicably nuzzling up against her.
"Say..." Applejack suddenly drawled, pulling back.
"What are you doing?" Rarity asked, irritated. Although Applejack had stopped, she kept walking, expecting her to follow. "Come on, I can see your barn just over that hill."
"Nuh-uh. No way. I'm not budging another step until you tell me something."
"Oh, for...what? What do you want?"
"That prince o' yers...did...did you two dance together?"
The question came completely out of nowhere, and Rarity did a double take, startled. Applejack stood behind her alone on the road, bathed in moonlight, a stoic expression on her face even as she swayed slightly. She looked so ridiculously serious, despite the thick stench of alcohol surrounding her, that Rarity almost wanted to laugh. And so she did, albeit softly, as she approached Applejack, trying to entice her forward again. "Oh, come now, Applejack, what does that have to do with anything?"
"Did he kiss you?"
Rarity froze. Applejack glared.
"Applejack, really -"
"I told you. 'Til you answer me, I. Ain't. Budgin'."
The two of them stood face to face on the winding dirt road back to Sweet Apple Acres, both of them now bathed in Luna's soft light.
"No." Rarity finally answered. "No, we did not. He was the least charming prince I had ever met. Very ungentlemanly. Don't you remember when we stopped by your stand? He didn't even offer to pay."
Applejack blinked. "Oh yeah. Ah forgot about that part."
"It was very noble of you to give us the fritters for free, though. But no. We didn't dance or kiss, and if I never see him again it will be too soon. Now, will you just follow me? I can see your house - "
"Didya dance at all?"
Applejack's comically serious expression was now replaced with one of the deepest concern, and again, Rarity didn't know how to answer.
"Well...I suppose not."
"That's too bad. Ah know you really wanted to. To dance with yer prince and all."
"Well, I suppose I'll have to wait until next year." Rarity answered lightly. "Now, if we can just -"
"You don't have to wait."
"I'll dance with you."
The night was utterly silent except for the soft rushing of the leaves in the gentle night wind and the occasional chirp of a cricket
"Applejack," Rarity said carefully. She had to be delicate, she knew that much, even though she'd never exactly been in a situation like this before. "That's a very kind offer, but I think I'm fine for tonight. Why don't we just -"
"Ain't I good enough fer you?" Applejack interrupted yet again.
It looked like Rarity wasn't going to be allowed to finish any sentences tonight.
"I know that I ain't no handsome stallion, or even a sophisticated city pony, and that I'm just a simple ol' country bumpkin, but...but..." Applejack continued earnestly, even as she was tripping over her own words.
Her expression was one of such wide-eyed innocence that Rarity almost felt her heart stop, until Applejack suddenly scowled, kicked the ground, and shouted, "Aw, confound it, Ah don't remember what Ah was gonna say!"
"Applejack, maybe you should just go home and get a good night's sleep. You'll probably have a terrible hangover tomorrow, and it will be best if you get in bed right away."
"I ain't that drunk."
"Well, you're obviously not that sober, either." Rarity snapped.
Another silence fell over the two of them. This time, though, Rarity could see the hurt reflected in Applejack's eyes.
"So ya think I don't mean it? You sure know how to make a pony feel like nothin', Rare."
"Applejack, I didn't mean...I'm not trying to be rude. It's just that it's very late and you had a lot to drink, and I don't want you to say things you'll regret."
"I'm the Element of Honesty, Rare, in case you forgot, and I never say nothin' I don't mean one-hundred percent."
Imagine how scandalous this would be if anypony was listening to this, Rarity thought briefly. Then she was suddenly ashamed, struck by guilt. Applejack, drunk or not, wouldn't care either way whether anypony heard what she was saying, so why should Rarity?
Lost in thought, Rarity didn't even notice Applejack approach her until she felt her settle in to lean against her.
She felt warm. To Rarity's surprise, Applejack seemed to fit perfectly, as if they were both molded for the express purpose of leaning against one another.
Her memory flashed to the sleepover at Twilight's during the storm. Telling ghost stories and clinging to each other in fear. Even then, in the midst of an argument and in the heat of the moment, Rarity had found herself thinking that holding Applejack felt strangely...right.
"I know you think this is just the drink talking," Applejack slurred softly into her ear. "But I like you a lot, Rare. I don't mind if you think I'm gonna ferget about this tomorrow, because I know I won't."
The unicorn's heart was pounding.
When she had first met Applejack, her first thought had been, she could be beautiful.
Applejack, for all her roughness, had the potential to be quite the lady if she'd wanted to do so. Her face was simple and pretty, eyes wide and laughing and the exact same shade of green as the orchards in summer, her build strong and supple. If she just cleaned herself up a bit, maybe did something with that soft golden mane of hers, she could have easily passed for a sophisticated Manehattenite. And yet she chose not to, for the simple reason that she had no interest in pretending to be something she wasn't. She was like a diamond in the rough; if polished, she could truly dazzle. And yet she seemed to have no desire to leave that rough.
This caused Rarity no end of irritation, simply because Rarity craved beauty and longed for perfection in all things and couldn't understand why somepony wouldn't be the same way. She was always trying to get Applejack to dress up a little, or maybe comb that fine yellow hair, or maybe just try the slightest bit of makeup to highlight her fine bone structure, but Applejack rejected every suggestion. After all, Applejack was nothing if not honest about who she truly was. Why try and dress up the country pony?
But over time Rarity had gotten over it and grown to accept Applejack's attitude, even as it frustrated her, and finally began to appreciate the way she managed to shine, even without the polish Rarity had envisioned for her.
Applejack was a friend, a very, very dear friend. An exasperating one that she was constantly arguing with, but a friend nonetheless. And she was drunk. It was Rarity's responsibility to get her home, because that was what a good friend did. It would be wrong to take advantage of her in a situation like this, when Applejack was in such a vulnerable position.
But even though her head recognized how wrong it was, her heart seemed to disagree.
The drinks from earlier fuelled her courage and vanquished any doubts or second thoughts she might have had, and suddenly they were pressed up against each other, and she was tasting Applejack; a wonderful blend of cinnamon and apples and warmth, just the way Rarity had always imagined she'd taste, ever since the sleepover, ever since they'd first held each other and shared a bed and Rarity had first begun to experience those idle daydreams.
When they finally pulled away, they were both panting. Applejack was grinning that lazy, crooked grin, looking satisfied. In contrast, Rarity's eyes were wide with shock from what she'd just done.
I can't believe I just...
"I'm ready to go home now." Applejack whispered, leaning close to Rarity's ear. She could feel Applejack smiling while she spoke, breath warm on her neck. "D'you wanna come with me?"
Rarity quickly stepped back, and Applejack almost fell over until Rarity caught her with her magic.
"What in the hay -?" She angrily demanded. "What did you do that for?"
"I won't do this with you right now, because you are not in a right state of mind and that would be exceedingly wrong of me." Rarity began primly, smoothing out her now-considerably rumpled dress with her hooves. "But..." she continued, voice halting slightly."If...if you still feel the same way tomorrow...and it wasn't just the drink speaking...then...perhaps...we can try. We can try being an...us."
It took a moment for her words to sink in, but when they did, Applejack grinned.
"I guess I'll see you tomorrow, then, Rare."
"Perhaps. If you haven't completely forgotten this incident by then."
"I bet you I won't."
"I doubt that. But we'll see. Until then, we could've been at Sweet Apple Acres ages ago, so let's go."
They walked side by side in silence for a little while, hooves crunching the ground as the trotted along. Rarity held herself with as much dignity as she could muster, even as her heart was still racing from the kiss, but Applejack seemed considerably more easy now, grinning foolishly to herself and giggling in a silly, drunken way, still swaying even now.
When they finally reached the main house, Applejack was poised to go inside before turning to Rarity.
"Help me inside?" She asked with what was presumably her best imitation of a coy smile.
"Applejack, honestly!" Rarity scolded. "I just..."
"We don't...we don't have to do nothin'. I jist don't wanna be alone yet, and everypony else is probably asleep."
Rarity looked away, fidgeting with her dress. As beautiful as it was, it was really starting to get on her nerves. It was making it far too difficult to walk and move. It wouldn't be an entirely bad thing to shed it for some reason.
"I suppose," she finally answered, not meeting Applejack's eyes.
With another lazy grin, Applejack opened the door for Rarity even though the unicorn could've just held it open with her magic, nodding her head slightly in a mock bow.
Very elegant, Rarity thought with a small smile in response, stepping through the entrance; and Applejack followed, kicking the door shut behind her.
Applejack woke up feeling terrible, in body and spirit. Her mouth tasted strange, dry and thick somehow, and her head was pounding, as if somepony was going at it with a hammer. Her entire body ached, even her eyes. It was a struggle just to sit up.
The lights were too bright, and she flinched when she opened her eyes. It only made her headache worse.
When her vision cleared, she noticed a very familiar-looking white unicorn curled up on the sofa, fast asleep.
What in tarnation...