"You… want to stay in Canterlot another day?"
As Twilight Sparkle asked the question, Rarity's heart sank even further than it already had when she had fully explained what she had done to her friends. She had been too blinded by her own self-interest, sidelining what truly mattered for her personal gain, and she knew it. However, her request was for an entirely different reason, one that she was not yet willing to reveal to the disappointed mare before her.
"I… yes, I would. I promise that I will come back to Ponyville the day after tomorrow, there is just… one last thing that I need to take care of before coming home."
Rarity's words were met with a disgusted snort, and upon moving her eyes to follow the noise, she found Rainbow Dash looking down and to the side with narrowed eyes. Rainbow had taken the truth of Rarity's actions slightly harder than everypony else, but had also said the least. In fact, she had stayed quiet the entire time, refusing to even look at the confessing fashionista as she finally told the truth.
"Well… if that's what you really want, then we'll support you," Twilight said with a sigh. "Right, girls?"
Everypony nodded with looks of unease as Twilight turned back to look at her assembled friends. Everypony but one.
"…thank you, Twilight. I'll do my best to get back to town as soon as I can. I… promise."
Rainbow Dash mumbled something and snorted yet again, earning looks of surprise and confusion from her friends. Nopony questioned her, and simply glossed over the muted outburst as they continued to say their temporary goodbyes. One by one, Rarity nuzzled her friends and wished them a safe journey back to Ponyville, smiling all the while. Each walked out the door of the suite in turn, giving a small wave and nod as they left. When only two of her friends remained, Rarity moved to nuzzle Twilight first, and found the bookworm drawing her into a tight hug.
"Rarity… even if things didn't really work out how you wanted, and you kinda… ditched us, at first… I want you to know that I still consider today one of the best birthday parties I've ever had, and you played a huge role in making it great. Everypony had a lot of fun, and we still love you, no matter what. Alright?"
Rarity sniffled a bit as Twilight pulled back and smiled.
"…that is… very kind of you to say. I'm glad that you enjoyed yourself, truly." A small smile played across her lips as she closed her eyes briefly and nodded. "I'll see you back in Ponyville?"
Twilight smiled wide and returned the nod, clopping her hooves as she did so. "You bet!"
With one final nuzzle, the violet mare turned and trotted to the door, only to crane her neck back and look at the two ponies standing silently apart from each other.
"…Rainbow? You coming?"
Rainbow Dash's intense, narrowed magenta eyes never left Rarity's panicked face as the mare answered her other friend.
"Yeah. Go on ahead without me, I'll catch up."
The hesitant unicorn nodded once again before turning to trot out of the room, leaving two of her closest friends behind to speak in private.
"I want a word."
The terse sentence came out in a forceful, demanding tone, one that Rarity was not used to hearing. The words caught her off guard, and the older unicorn tucked a hoof under herself in uncertainty as she pulled her head back and blinked in surprise.
"Close the door."
Another demand, emphasized by the clearly pissed-off pegasus taking a few steps toward her shaken friend. Rarity obeyed, and quickly used her magic to pull closed the large, ornate door that was her only escape from the multicolor fury standing before her. With the portal sealed off, and all of the shades drawn, the two stood in silence. One mare in a cold sweat, and the other in a burning rage.
"Don't you 'Darling' me!"
As the pegasus advanced, the unicorn retreated, trying desperately to keep the space between them as even as possible. Rarity very quickly ran out of room, and soon found her rump impacting the wall behind her as Rainbow continued to walk, wings and nostrils both flared as she yelled.
"That was an extremely shitty thing to do, and on Twilight's birthday, no less!"
"Rainbow! Language!" Rarity said with a gasp, clearly offended by her interrogator's words.
"I don't care! It's true!" Rainbow threw a hoof out to the side in a light blue blur of motion before bringing it back to the ground with a stomp. "This isn't the first time you've done this, either! Putting yourself before everypony else! Some Element of Generosity you are!"
Rarity closed her eyes and looked down to the floor as Rainbow turned once again with a snort. She could still hear her friend's heavy, angered breathing, and knew very well that the pegasus was right. There was no excuse, and no running from what she had done. The others had let the situation slide with reassuring words and happy nuzzles, but not Rainbow Dash. Such things weren't enough to make up for such blatant disloyalty, and Rarity knew it.
"Save it, Rarity."
The alabaster mare opened her eyes just in time to watch Rainbow fold her wings back in and give her mane a shake, still facing away as her tail twitched in annoyance.
"We all heard your apology, and while it might be enough for the others, I'm wicked pissed. First, you almost wrecked the Best Young Fliers competition, then, you make your own sister feel like you don't care about her, and now, you do this to Twilight, and really, all of us. Not only that, but you've got the apples to ask to stay another day? What the hay is wrong with you?"
Rarity sniffled again and let a tear fall to the carpet as Rainbow turned back to her and punctuated the question with another flaring of wings and flip of the tail. The unicorn had to try her best to fight back a humorless smile at the sudden cleaning up of language, and barely succeeded. Crushing guilt won out over any sense of satisfaction that the pegasus had at least listened to her request, and Rarity found herself shaking her head as she tried to think of a way to explain. Rainbow didn't give her the opportunity.
"And another thing!" she added with a stomp. "I can't believe you drenched Opal just to use as an excuse! It's bad enough when you lie and hurt us for your own selfish needs, but when you bring a defenseless pet into it, that's even worse!"
"Oh, and you were so respectful and considerate of Tank's feelings throughout your entire contest to select a pet, hm?"
The words were out of Rarity's mouth before she could even think to stop them, and she found herself glaring right back into Rainbow's equally angry eyes.
"You've never acted stupidly out of self-interest and felt horrible about it later, then? You've never done something you regret, only to apologize and be consumed by guilt for the rest of the day? Tell me how it feels to be so perfect."
Rainbow sneered, pulling her lips up and baring her teeth as she did so. "This isn't about me! I never said I was perfect, but I also never totally ditched my friends just because something 'more important' came up! Because of your constant selfishness, you almost made Twilight break down in tears at her own birthday party!"
Rarity returned the anger and did her part to escalate the argument to the next level, knowing full well that it would do nothing but make the situation worse.
"For somepony who isn't perfect, you certainly declare yourself 'the best' quite often!" Rarity began to cry in earnest, shaking her head as a steady stream of tears began to trail down her face. "Not only that, but you completely 'ditched' us when we needed you most! When Discord started his little game, you flew off and abandoned us without a word! You almost got Equestria destroyed single-hoofedly because of your selfishness!"
As soon as she said the words, Rarity's heart pulled against her chest, reinforcing her guilt and the knowledge that her statement was false. She was running out of defenses, and had nowhere left to run. She knew that she was wrong, she knew that she was being petty, she knew that Rainbow was completely right, and it hurt. To run away from that pain, she had made another fatal mistake and said something completely unforgivable, something that she knew she wouldn't ever be able to take back.
Rainbow got right up into Rarity's face, pressing her nose into the older mare's own as she screamed her words directly at the cowering unicorn.
"Rainbow, I'm so, so sorry, I didn't mean t-"
"SHUT UP! I LEFT BECAUSE I THOUGHT MY PARENTS WERE IN REAL DANGER, NOT TO GO AND STROKE MY OWN EGO! I LEFT BECAUSE MY FAMILY COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED IF WHAT DISCORD WAS SAYING WAS TRUE! YOU LEFT BECAUSE YOU'RE AN ARROGANT, WHINY, STUCK-UP BITCH, AND ALL YOU CARE ABOUT IS HIDING YOURSELF SO THAT YOU CAN PRETEND YOU BELONG SOMEWHERE YOU DON'T! I'M DONE WITH YOU, AND YOU'D BETTER THINK LONG AND HARD BEFORE YOU EVEN CONSIDER COMING BACK TO PONYVILLE, BECAUSE CLEARLY YOU'D RATHER BE HERE WITH THE REST OF THESE STUPID JERKS!"
The words cut Rarity's heart into pieces, and caused her tears to double in volume. She openly sobbed, lowering herself to the carpeted floor as she buried her face into the material. She knew that every single one of those words was deserved, and upon hearing Rainbow's own heavy breathing and flapping of wings, Rarity almost began to hope that the mare would just strike her across the face and get it over with.
"I can't even believe you. H-how… how could you say something like that? A-after everything you've already d-done today, and now you go and make it a thousand times worse…"
Rarity looked up and blinked back her tears, surprised to find Rainbow tearing up as well.
"I really thought you still cared. Even a little. I seriously… I can't even… just…"
Rainbow shook her head as Rarity stood and trotted over to her. With great hesitance, the unicorn wrapped her hoof around her friend's neck, and slowly leaned into the contact. The pegasus pushed back into the hoof, aggressively burying her face into the neck of crying mare.
"…I can't believe you said that. I can't believe any of this. You just… I'm so angry at you I'm getting a headache! Why would you do stuff like this? Why would you ever say those things?" She began to cry as well, letting her tears fall into the ivory fur before her. "W-when… when you were gone for a few days, I… I-I almost came to see you, because… I don't know why, but I started to really, really miss you, Rarity."
The unicorn blinked in surprise and pulled back, letting her ruined mane hang unevenly to the side as the pegasus continued to speak. She had never seen the younger girl break down like this before, and the sight only served to make her feel even more awful about everything that had gone on.
"You and I… w-we've never really been as close as the others, but I gave you the benefit of the doubt for everypony else's sake. Especially Fluttershy's."
Rarity sniffled at the mention of the name, and immediately remembered her best friend's disappointed look as she told her group of friends about her dishonesty.
"Fluttershy is one of my closest friends, and she said you were amazing. She said you were generous and caring, that you were always there for her, and that you were somepony that everypony should know."
The ironic choice of words caused Rarity to sob again, but she did her best to remain silent and let her friend finish.
"I… I thought we had like nothing in common, and that we just kinda stuck together because of the rest of the group. I really, really never thought that we would get to be as close as I am with Fluttershy or Applejack. But… I really do care about you, Rarity. I care a lot. It sucked not having you around for the past week, and I don't even understand why! I just… I just know that you're like a sister to me, whether we hang out a lot or not, and I hate when you do this stuff!"
Rainbow flapped her wings in frustration as she sniffled loudly, doing her best to stop the tears from coming. Nothing seemed to work, and so she tried to force the spotlight off of herself as quickly as she could.
"Why are you so quiet? Say something!"
Rarity looked up, her eyes completely dry. She had long since run out of tears, and her throat felt like she had been screaming for hours, despite not having said a word for several minutes. Speaking didn't seem appropriate, as she felt that nothing could justify or take back what she had done. Upon hearing Rainbow's words, however, she decided to at least try to express her regret.
"I… what is there to say?" she began, completely aware that she had chosen the wrong words. With a shake of the head, she quickly tried to correct herself before the yelling could begin again. "I'm just… I am so, so sorry. I truly mean it, and I know that nothing I could ever say could make up for… what I accused you of… and I also know that you are completely right to be angry with me. Rainbow… I… I love you like a sister, as well. I love all of you as though you were family."
"Then why would you do what you did?" Rainbow asked with a bit of an edge to her voice. "I just… I want to understand. I want to know why, and I want you to promise never to do something like this again!"
"I won't." The response was immediate, and accompanied by a firm nod. "I promise you… I feel so guilty right now that I'm finding it somewhat hard to breathe. I know that I betrayed you, all of you, especially Twilight, on her birthday. And I cannot apologize enough for what I did."
Rainbow finally folded her wings in and sat heavily onto the floor, completely drained and beyond all words. The shaky mare simply nodded for Rarity to continue, and brought up a hoof to wipe her eyes dry.
"…I have no excuse. I'm the oldest out of our group of friends, I have to take care of Sweetie regularly, and I run my own business out of my home. I should know better… I should be a better friend."
"You usually are." Rainbow's voice was hoarse from yelling and crying, but she still felt as though the point needed to be made. "I… I'm sorry for exploding on you like this, and I'm really sorry for calling you a... you know... but I just can't do this anymore with you! Something had to be said!"
A light blue hoof slammed into the carpet for emphasis, and Rarity moved to Rainbow's side, allowing the younger girl to lean into her as she spoke again.
"I know. I… agree. Something did need to be said. I am whiny, arrogant, and rude, and I absolutely hate that about myself. I know how much of… well… an absolute twat I've been, and I'm so sorry. I just… have you ever known for a fact that you shouldn't do something, even to the point where you know the consequences, and yet you do it anyway?"
Rainbow snorted and closed her eyes, leaning fully into Rarity's side.
"All. The. Time. And every single time I do, I feel like a stupid foal after. It sucks."
Rarity nodded her agreement. "Yes. It… sucks. And I do it entirely too often. This was one of those times. I don't have any other explanation, other than that I was a selfish foal for tossing aside our friendship, and I just… I… oh, Celestia, now I have a headache as well."
Rarity brought a hoof up to her horn, closing her eyes against the pain while her companion laughed lightly. The unicorn found herself laughing as well, and soon the two friends broke down into hysterics, neither entirely sure what was so amusing about the situation. Rarity was the first to recover from her fit of laughter, and did her best to resume the serious tone that the conversation had before the interruption.
"I just… I know that it's no excuse, but with the stress of running the shop and the pressure to break into the eye of the upper-crust and gain recognition, I… sometimes forget to spend time with you all, and how important that is. You're right, Rainbow. I… I am a lousy Element of Generosity."
"Well… no you're not. I mean… not really." Rainbow finally removed her head from Rarity's shoulder, and stood to stretch her wings and legs. "You make us dresses and accessories all the time, for free, whether we... want them or not." Rainbow gave a small cough and blushed a bit.
"Not only that, but when one of us needs you, you're always there for us, and you've pushed orders of paying clients back just to hang out with us before. Speaking of… you slash your prices all the time for ponies who can't afford what you make, and sometimes you just give stuff away to the point where you almost can't pay the rent. Rarity… you aren't the only one who's said things she shouldn't have tonight."
"Well… I suppose that's true, bu-"
"But nothing. And look." Rainbow pushed her hoof under Rarity's chin, raising the mare's lowered head to make sure that she had eye contact. "You might be whiny, arrogant, and rude sometimes, but I'm… uh… heh…"
Rainbow blushed hard, and fought to get her words out before finally succeeding. "…boastful, impulsive, and immature. Really often. And you guys all still love me. I mean... look at what happened last week with Mare-Do-Well, and all of you are totally fine with me now. Your faults don't define you, and everypony has their moments. I'm definitely not perfect. Even though I'm pretty close," she added with a smile.
Rarity couldn't help but giggle, and moved forward to nuzzle into the polychromatic mane of the other mare. "You are, Rainbow. Even I can admit that."
"Oh, shut up. I'm not really anywhere near per-."
"You are to me. All of you girls… you really are the sweetest, most loving friends anypony could ever ask for, and the fact that you all are willing to put up with me is proof of that."
Rainbow nodded and rolled her eyes, laughing a bit as she did so.
"Alright… well… look, I hate serious talks and stuff, so can we just stop now? Seriously. It's late, I'm exhausted from getting so mad and absolutely not crying, and we need to get back to Ponyville." Rainbow paused, and raised a brow. "You're not actually staying here another night, are you? After the talk we just had about not ditching us?"
Rarity grimaced at the question, and blushed under the harsh gaze that she received. "…I am."
"OH COME ON! WHAT THE F-"
"RAINBOW! I have a reason! Just… please. Stop and listen for a moment?"
Rainbow closed her eyes and took a deep breath, clearly on the edge of rage. "This better be good. Go."
"…like I said, I feel completely awful about everything. I want to make it up to Twilight, and so… I want to finish her dress. Tonight. If I went back and unpacked, it would take me at least a day to get all of my equipment set up again, and even if the occasion has passed, I want Twilight to have her original gift, as soon as possible."
"That's… Rarity, that's… really… nice. But… so you're just going to work through the night?"
Rarity nodded and sighed, before trotting over to her bags to begin removing what she would need.
"…well… alright then. Can I stay with you?"
Rarity turned around immediately, not having expected the question at all.
"What? Rainbow… I thought that you were still angry with me, and th-"
"Oh, shut up. Just… we're cool, alright?" Rainbow took another, final deep breath, and blinked several times before giving her wings a decisive flap. "There. Water under the bridge, it never happened, and I never cried. Deal?"
Rarity smirked, and turned back to her bags to begin removing her fabrics and tools from the suitcases.
"Deal. But you seriously don't want to go back to Ponyville tonight to sleep? You would… rather keep me company?"
Rainbow rolled her eyes and snorted. "Rarity, it's like midnight. Not only that, but I'm so wound up right now that I don't plan on sleeping no matter where I go, and if you're gonna work all night, I'm sure you could use somepony to talk to. Besides… we don't hang out enough."
For the first time that night, Rarity's heart didn't feel so heavy as she turned back to her friend and spoke.
"You know… you're right. Thank you, Rainbow. I couldn't ask for a better friend. I really do mean that."
Rainbow trotted over to the bed and hopped up onto it, grabbing a pillow with her teeth as she settled into the blankets. She hugged the pillow tightly and lowered herself on top of it, letting out a snort as Rarity finished thanking her.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now, you'd better work on that dress the whole time we're talking, or I'll never forgive you. I'll be watching."
The two shared a laugh, and the conversation began once again. By the time morning came and the mares fell asleep next to each other in the lavish bed, neither had ever felt closer to another friend.
Author's Note: Hey look, I did something I wasn't planning on. What a surprise.
Sweet and Elite is easily one of my favorite episodes now, and Rarity is still likely my favorite of the mane 6. Dash is a close second, and I really, really wish that those two would get an episode together. Even if they don't, though, I can always write things like this and A Terminal Case of Irresponsibility just for them.
Anyway, I really do think that Rarity is self-aware and knows her faults, and Rainbow would be the one to point them out if two of the friends were going to argue. Scented Venom chapter 7 is the next big upload, but who knows if I'll do another one-shot before then...
Planning to try to start a blog going for both story stuff and random musings, followed by a Twitter account. Blog will be up by the time Venom 7 is posted, and I'll likely officially announce it then.
Finally, it's my birthday tomorrow. Woo?