Rainbow Dash turned her head to see the owner of the voice. To her surprise, she was met with the familiar face of a yellow maned orange pony in a cowboy hat looking at her with a face of intrigue.
"Ah never thought ah'd see you at a place like this," the mare said as she walked to a chair opposite of the pegasus.
"Oh, heh, I was just stopping by for a drink," Rainbow said, disregarding the existence of the group behind her willingly as she removed her arm from the chair's back and sat normally.
Applejack, that was her name, pushed the seat back and sat in it as she spoke, "Ah couldn't help but overhear word of my brother being passed around like a hot potato, but ah was very surprised to see you holding it this time, sugar cube."
Rainbow Dash blinked a few times, twice for her confusing analogy of a baked food and once for being caught making gossip with other mares. At this, she chuckled a little out of embarrassment, then decided to explain herself to Applejack's assumption about being part of gossip talk. Last thing she wanted to do was to be mistaken as a haughty gossip filly in any shape, form, or level.
"Uh, not really, Applejack. I was only talking about him because he sounded familiar."
Out of the view of her eyes, the waiter had managed to sneak close enough without being noticed to present the mare with her drink on a miniature platter. It was a tall glass of purple liquid with bits of green in it, and a blackberry and raspberry floating in the cup with a straw laying to the side. Taken by surprise, Rainbow Dash blinked before she said 'About time!' impatiently in her head.
As she reached for the straw with her mouth, the waiter suddenly spoke up to the surprise guest at the table.
"Miss Applejack! What a surprise to see you here!" Rainbow Dash looked up with a straw in her mouth.
Applejack put on a sly face as she replied, "Afternoon, Silver Platter. Ah was just walkin' by when ah saw my friend here, so ah decided to sit down an' chit chat with her."
The waiter bowed, "It's an honor to have you here. Would you like a drink on the house?"
The pegasus across from the farmer blinked and widened her eyes at the offer. Her straw nearly fell out of her mouth. Applejack merely repressed a chuckle.
"Sure, Silver Platter, since you're offerin' an' all," the earth pony replied.
The waiter nodded and turned to the rainbow maned pegasus, "And for you, young mare, your drink is on the house as well."
The waiter turned around before seeing Rainbow Dash's eyes widened further and her mouth hung wider agape. As the horse trotted back into the building, the winged mare turned to the cowgirl holding her same expression.
"What was that just now?" she asked, "Do you 'tip' the manager or something?"
Applejack rose a hoof to share her thoughts, until she came to realize what Rainbow Dash was implying. At this, she scowled her face at her, insulted.
"Now what's that s'ppose to mean?" she shot.
The rainbow pegasus blinked as she continued, "For yer information, Sweet Apple Acres has an affiliation with this 'ere rest'rant. We provide the apples for their foods an' drinks an' our workers get discounts on their items. There's no tippin' the work horse here as yer implyin'."
Rainbow Dash blinked and shifted her head back in fear of insinuating her implications on a friend. She hated when she did that.
"Uh, sorry. My mind was in the gutter. Eheheh…"
Applejack stared meekly, watching the mare embarrassingly dip her straw into the drink, before she rolled her eyes and returned to the original subject of the conversation.
"Ah suppose so, seein' as how you were talkin' 'bout Big Macintosh earlier," she said, with emphasis as she raised her hoof in a cup manner.
Rainbow Dash swallowed some of her drink and reeled back a little, putting on a critical face as she smacked her mouth a little. The drink wasn't the taste she was expecting, so she was taken by surprise of the sweet but somewhat tart taste of the liquid.
'Mm, a little sour…' she thought.
Turning her interest back into the conversation, she spoke, "Oh yeah, Macintosh?" she said with a questioning expression, "I don't really know who that guy is."
Before Applejack could reply, the waiter returned to the table with a cold glass of apple juice on a mini platter.
"Thanks, Silver Platter," she said.
"You're welcome, milady."
Rainbow Dash looked at the drink, then at her own, then an annoyed face at the waiter. He looked at her with the intention of a quick glance, but a raised brow appeared on his face as he had no idea of why the pegasus was looking at him like this.
"Umm, is something the matter, miss?" he asked.
Rainbow Dash wasn't originally going to say anything, but after the question, she considered it. However, she decided to disregard it as she didn't feel like saying anything here.
"No, nothing," she simply said, turning back to her drink and taking a sip from it.
The hostile impression still riddled the waiter's face as he left the table. Applejack calmly sipped her drink as she eyed the waiter before looking back to the mare sipping her drink.
"How were you goin' to pay for that, anyway?" she asked.
"Hmm?" Rainbow hummed, lips still on her straw.
"That's the grass berry drink mix, ain't it? That stuff costs forty six gold, about half my-"
The cowgirl couldn't finish her sentence, though, as the pegasus, out of sheer surprise, spat back out the contents of her mouth through the very straw she was sipping.
"Forty six gold? That's about twice my daily wage!"
It took her a moment to realize what she had done, exactly. Seeing the cowgirl before her soaked in the purple liquid, her hair dripping a little, made her sheepishly chuckle at her own fault, as she was prone to do. She couldn't tell if Applejack was annoyed or angry because the drink had soaked her hair and it lay droopily down her face, shielding her eyes.
"…well, that there's forty six gold all over mah features," Applejack said as she brought out a napkin from some mysterious space to wipe herself.
"Eheheh, sorry," Rainbow apologized. She couldn't help but notice how many consecutive screw ups she's been having today.
"Yer lucky that I came by to say hi," she said, brushing her hair a little, "else you'd be payin' for this in feathers, sugar cube."
That comment made her feel uneasy, taking a quick glance at her own pair of wings and remembering how little money she had on herself. Applejack never was one to lie about her analogies, Dash just hated how morbid they could be sometimes.
"Yeah, I'm sorry. I don't come by here often," she apologized.
Applejack merely shook her head at the pegasus's incompetence, "Water under the bridge. So anyway, about Big Macintosh…"
She took a moment to sip her drink until she saw purple droplets on the glass. Remembering the deluge a few seconds ago, all of a sudden she wasn't thirsty and pushed the glass away. Rainbow Dash raised a brow at this, but said nothing.
"Yer not one for town gossip, aren't you?" she asked.
"Ehh, no. Not really," Rainbow replied.
"So you don't know what a big deal he is to most of the mares in town?"
Rainbow Dash shook her head.
Applejack sighed, "Well, I take it you never took a good long look at him, have you?"
The pegasus tapped her chin with her hoof, trying to recall if she ever managed to get a concrete view of the stallion. She never did.
"No, not really," she admitted, "I mean, I do fly over your farm every now and then, but I've never seen him around."
"Oh, he's usually in the barn doin' the hard jobs, maybe that's why."
Applejack looked at what was left of Rainbow Dash's drink in hopes of being able to leave the restaurant's grounds soon. Only a few ounces left, although, it didn't look like she wanted to finish the drink.
"Maybe you want to meet 'im?" she asked, the pegasus's interest hooked, "If we go into town now, we can catch him on his last errand today."
Rainbow Dash looked at her glass to see what was left of her drink. She clicked her tongue for a recap of the drinks taste and didn't feel like having anymore. She felt a little bad for not finishing the drink out of courtesy, but then again, it was free.
"Eh, sure. I got time," the pegasus said as she pushed her chair back.
"Great!" Applejack happily expressed as she stood up from her chair, "Somewhere in town is a fertilizer stand. That's the last place he'll be at assumin' he's followin' his list to the last period."
"Uh, what about the drinks?" Rainbow Dash asked, her back already facing the table.
"Don't worry 'bout that. 'Ey Silver Platter!" she shouted towards the building in general, "We'll be on our way!"
Without a response, the cowgirl turned and walked away from the area. Her pegasus friend looked at the building for a moment, hearing no comment of objection for the following seonds, then decided to disregard the importance of their leaving, seeing as how Applejack was good friends with the restaurant's business. They probably wouldn't mind leaving their unfinished drinks on the table. If Applejack didn't care, she shouldn't either.
"So, what's this guy like?" Rainbow Dash asked.
By now, the two mares were walking on their way to were the fertilizer was sold. The route led them along the edge of town, so the scenery around them was part greenery and part PonyVille. To their right were a few trees and plains beyond them and to their left was casual PonyVille business. Even here, ponies and yearlings were frolicking around in life in a random assort here and there.
Applejack tilted her head up, trying to summarize her brother in the necessary words.
"Well, that depends. What'cha heard of him?"
Rainbow Dash thought for a moment. She thought back to what those haughty mares were talking about of him. And believe her, it wasn't hard to forget, not with those accents.
"Well, he's big…"
"Duh," Applejack quickly interjected, earning a quick glare from the pegasus.
"…he's muscular," she continued, "…and apparently, every filly is talking about him. That's all I got."
"I take it that's yer physical impression of him?" Applejack asked.
"Well, yeah. I never met the guy, maybe. I don't remember."
The earth pony rolled her eyes. She wasn't sure why, but maybe it was because her brother's impression on her friend was already marred by filly gossip that she heard. Well, at least he was only half the talk every pony was talking about.
"Well, he is big an' strong, but he's also gentle and big hearted," she said, "Not really one for words, though."
Rainbow Dash raised a brow. She sort of liked the concept of a quiet friend. She preferred to be the one doing the talking in relationships. Maybe it was for this reason alone that she preferred hanging out with Fluttershy over Pinkie Pie; at least she had control over whatever took hold of the moment.
"Quiet, huh? What kind of quiet are we talking about here?" she asked, "Fluttershy quiet, or librarian quiet?"
Applejack thought of how to properly answer her friend's question. Big Macintosh definitely wasn't Fluttershy quiet, as Dash put it, but he wasn't the kind to value silence like a gem. He seemed to have his own definition of quiet.
"How 'bout, Big Macintosh quiet?" she replied.
The pegasus wasn't amused. She wanted a more specific response, but if it was going to be harder to explain than it needed to be, she'd rather find out for herself.
"Well, anyways," Applejack resumed, "He's an honest worker an' a good person to talk to, but he'll do what needs to be done as long as it's right."
"Sounds like a generic goody four-shoes," Rainbow Dash said, "He doesn't sound like my type."
Applejack was about to say something until her brow rose and she caught the meaning behind her friends words.
"Wait a minute, were you intendin' to check out my brother in hopes of a coltfriend?" she asked.
Dash looked at her friend with a shocked expression, the kind she would have if she was caught doing something you would not like.
"Uh, no! I was just thinking out loud! That's all…" she said, looking away to hide a faint blush.
Silence cursed the two for a moment before it was broken by the sound of chuckling. Rainbow Dash looked to her friend to see her jovially laughing at the thought, to her surprise.
"Ah, don't worry, sugar cube. It's not like he would've said yes," she said.
"Huh? Why not?"
"Well, Big Macintosh ain't exactly lookin' fer a filly to hook up with. He says he's got too much time on his hooves workin' an' no filly in PonyVille is worth his spare time."
Rainbow Dash would be lying if she said she wasn't disappointed at hearing that, but she reassured herself by listing in her head reason why dating a guy like Macintosh would be a waste of effort.
"Oh, well, that's okay. I'm not the kind of pony who wants an honest and quiet coltfriend. I prefer brash boys who won't tell me 'Let's sit down and look at the flowers' or 'That's too dangerous' or 'We can't do that, that's illegal'," she turned to Applejack, "Know what I mean?"
The cowgirl smirked, "Yeah, I understand. Big Macintosh ain't exactly that kind of person."
The two looked forward and saw the fertilizer shop still open. Rainbow Dash just remembered what they were walking for, and was looking forward to meeting the oft talked about Big Macintosh again.
"Although, I still want to meet him, personally," she said, Applejack smirking.
"Let's just hope he hasn't left yet. I told him to fetch sixty pounds of fertilizer this mornin'."
Rainbow Dash merely chuckled, "Sixty pounds? Are you trying to break his back or something?"
"Now don't underestimate Macintosh. He's a big stallion who can hold his weight," she said in his defense.
The pegasus didn't acknowledge those words as she would've. She just thought the image of a stallion lifting sixty pounds to be a terribly difficult feat and nigh impossible. This was just something she had to see for herself.
"Ah! Miss Applejack!" The store owner, an old brown stallion with grey facial hair, said, "What can I do ya for?"
Rainbow Dash didn't react to the smell of the store very well. She found it repugnant and difficult to take, but she didn't cover her muzzle out of respect for the store owner. It wasn't enough to keep her face from curling up, though.
"Howdy, Donald. I was just stoppin' by to see if my brother was around 'ere," she requested.
"You mean Big Macintosh? He's in the back," he answered, the two of them brightened up at this, "My boys are helpin' him with his purchases."
"That's great! Tell him I summoned 'im for me, would ya?" she asked.
The old steed entered a door leading to the back. As soon as he disappeared, Rainbow Dash exhausted her breathe, tired of enduring the rotten stench in the air.
"Ugh! What is with this place! It smells like a pig sty!" she complained.
Applejack turned to her friend in confusion, "Well, that is what a fertilizer shop's s'pposed to smell like."
Dash ignored her comment and asked, "What is fertilizer anyway?"
Applejack blinked, "You really don't know?" she asked, Rainbow shaking her head in response, "Tell me, you ever wondered why my farm bothers with our pigs?"
The pegasus merely raised a brow at this, giving to suggestion that she had no clue.
"Well, I can tell you that farmin' what they 'excrete' isn't our favorite job there."
Rainbow looked at Applejack, then to the door leading to the back, then gave a sniff to the air, then back at Applejack. Halfway, she figured she wasn't going to like her answer, and as the clues stacked on, she would find that she was right.
"Yep. Pig manure," she simply said.
Dash swore she felt her stomach do a back flip and trip into a wall.
"I think I'm gonna be sick…" she answered.
"Well hey. Our plant's gotta grow somehow."
This only made Dash feel worse. She couldn't ever look at grass normally ever again.
"'Ey sis, ya called fer me?" a voice behind the door spoke up.
Rainbow Dash perked up and looked at the door in anticipation. As if by his voice alone, assuming that was his voice, the sick feeling in her stomach was quashed. The rank smell of manure was almost inexistent to her as she waited for that door to open and reveal to her the stallion she's been waiting to see.
And when it opened, the pegasus was lost for words.
Out of the door walked what could be considered as the largest stallion in the world. He had a magnificently red coat covering a large portion of his body that stopped at around his ankles where his cream colored hooves where bare to see. His mane was a pleasing color of orange, a little ruffled after work earlier today. He was wearing an obscurely large horse collar around his neck and on his back was, true to Applejack's word, four bags of fertilizer assuming each one was fifteen pounds; a nearly impossible load for one stallion alone. But the most hypnotic feature of Macintosh that the other mares seemed to have neglected going into detail about were his large green eyes. Those eyes…the way they hung under Big Mac's laidback eyelids gave you the impression of a pony who was easy going and harbored no grudge to anything in the world. How powerful yet humble they were, especially if you were to look into them. But such a feat was hard to do with Macintosh, as he rarely looked back into another mare's eye and stared.
…but that was exactly what he was doing now.
"…uh, you two alright?" Applejack asked, seeing her brother and friend stare at each other.
Dash was the first to break away from the stare, shaking her head of the lingering impression of Big Macintosh's features. The stallion himself only had to blink and snap himself out of his own trance, or rather, stare. It was hard to tell what his expression was under that poker face of his.
"Uhh, hey, mister Macintosh," she said, trying to look at the stallion and not fall under another spell.
Macintosh smiled, "Afternoon, miss Rainbow Dash. You can just call me Mac," he said.
He held out his hoof in offer of a hoofshake. Dash looked at it and, momentarily lost, sheepishly took his hoof into her own. But as they shook, Dash found herself to have no control of the shaking. She simply couldn't overtake the muscle in his arm and was powerless to the tempo of the shake. She may as well have gone limp in her arm and the red stallion wouldn't have noticed.
"Uh, heheh, ok then, Mac," she said as their hooves parted.
"What brings you here, then? Is my sister tryin' to introduce all her friends to me?" he asked.
"Nah, Rainbow here was just wantin' to meet'cha, that's all," Applejack explained.
"Pleasure to make yer acquaintance, miss Rainbow," he said.
The pegasus smiled sheepishly and spoke, "Eheheh, just call me Dash. All of my friends call me that."
Applejack tapped a hoof to her chin, "Hold on, none of us ever just called you D-" she couldn't finished, however, as a sharp elbow jab struck her in her side, courtesy of the pegasus trying to put on an impression.
"It was nice meetin' ya, miss Dash, but I hafta return to the farm and put this 'ere fertilizer to work," he said, looking at the heavy bags on his back.
"Oh, uh, sure. Go do your thing, big guy," Rainbow Dash said as she excused herself out of Big Macintosh's path.
Without another word, the stallion headed out the door and on his way back to the farm, but not before he took a quick glance at the pegasus. In that moment, Dash could feel something about him that was different from when she first saw him moments ago. There was something like care in his eyes, like something in his look was special in a way that only he could give. It was a strange feeling, a feeling of admiration and sentiment that no pony else had given her. Like a sort of affectionate look.
…she had no idea what she was thinking about.
Her thoughts were broken as a certain mare wrapped her arm around the pegasus.
"So? What's yer impression of Macintosh now?" she asked aloud.
Rainbow Dash looked at Applejack for a moment before looking back out the door. She normally had something to say for any given moment, but right now, she was lost for words. Any word she knew to describe the stallion she just saw wouldn't do him justice. All she could say about him were thoughts she wasn't willing to divulge on just yet. But at the moment, she was reconsidering what her tastes in stallions were.
"I think…" she started, "…that he's worth looking into."
"Well, he- say what?" she questioned in the middle of a sly line.
Rainbow Dash looked into Applejack's face and said, "I said, I think I'm interested in your brother."