AN: first time actually writing one of these for MLP. I never thought I'd get so wrapped up in brony culture that I'd want to write one. But this inspiration came along and I decided to try it out. Hopefully you enjoy. On my deviantart page (pinkertonfloyd) once uploaded, the Art is by Summer Foth, AKA Sulalu. ENJOY!

"And now, fellow art admirers of Ponyville," Prima, the local art gallery manager announced to the crowd and cameras, "I present Applebloom's newest work of art…." Grabbing the sheet which draped itself over the canvass, Prima Color paused for dramatic effect. The audience complied, and remained silent yet strained their necks closer towards the podium where Prima stood at, waiting anxiously for the reveal of this new painting.

"…The Third Eye reopens," Prima finally concluded. Tugging tightly with her hoofs, the sheet flew off the canvass.

The spectators were awestruck.

Several "oohs," and "Ahh's" flooded the auditorium where the display was taking place. Cameras began to snap rapidly taking multitude of photo's which sounded like machine gun fire. Reporters began mumbling into their tape recorders describing the work of art, using such words as "Mysterious," and "dark,": "hallucinogenic," and "Surreal." But the number one word being tossed around was "disturbing." All in all, the audience was pleased and inspired and very much satisfied.

It was obviously a pictured inspired by a dream, or at least a nightmare. In the middle of the canvass was the tiniest portrait of a pony ever. She was cowering in the middle, covering her eyes with her hooves, and hunched over her body in a quivering-quaking fashion; the absolute demeanor of a pony gone mad. Surrounding the pony was darkness. Black, black and more black (with just a touch of grey). Behind her was the main feature of the painting. It was a giant eye, with a glimmering Iris, eye-lash, and outline of pure white. The positioning of the eye allowed for the tiny pony to be placed right in the center of the dark pupil. Sprouting from the eye appeared to be monsters. They looked like worms but with teeth. And they were trying to escape the canvass, or at least that's how it appeared.

Everypony was dying to know the exact inspiration for this work. What was the purpose? What was the inspiration? Was there any symbolism? Luckily for them, part of the exhibit today was that Applebloom was explaining a few choice paintings that she was displaying. She had already done 4 and this one, the 5th one, was the last of the few new ones she was presenting.

So where was she when the time called for her to step up to the podium?

She was where she always was between each painting; standing near the back of the stage sporting sunglasses and smoking a cigarette.

It was obvious how much she changed. Sure, some changes were subtle. She had grown slightly to a normal pony size and her coat of fur had gotten just a little bit darker. Some things didn't even change at all. She still kept the bow in her hair and her voice still had that great farmer drawl that all the Apple family members had.

Emotionally however, she was practically a mess. She was no longer the whiny, yet bright and happy little Applebloom she once was. She was a grown, sophisticated, yet eccentric pony who now of days hanged out with complete weirdo's (at least in Applejack's opinion) and vowed to never marry or have kids, making her virtually a detached self-recluse artist.

And it all began when she acquired her cutie mark.

The story of how she acquired her cutie mark was just about as strange and mysterious as the pony was now. It seemed rather fitting when one looks back at it. For Applebloom the story of how she gained a cutie mark began in the same place where she gained the cutie mark crusaders; school. And just like the cutie mark crusaders, the inciting incident was Diamond Tiara's constant heckling. It had grown much more abusive as time went on. As little kids, it was nothing more than snobbish cracks, and although painful, they saying remained true. Sticks and stones would break the bones but the name calling never hurt poor Applebloom.

When they became teenagers, Diamond Tiara began paying for the sticks and stones. She would pay stronger, more aggressive and downright stupid stallions to hassle her daily (she had enough bits to do that), and the hassling would range from a few choice words, to sometimes slamming the poor pony into her locker. Teachers couldn't notice when the bullies did their job for the paid stallions acted and pulled of their actions with style and grace. A quick slam of the shoulder and Applebloom would go flying. No one noticed, and to Applebloom it felt like no one cared. At least she had Sweetiebell and Scootaloo to rely on and tell her troubles to.

Unfortunately for her, on that day, neither was to be found.

Sweetie was in Canterlot performing with the band (which in turn, gave her her cutie mark). Scootaloo was…..well, usually she was always at school, against her wishes of course. However, on that day, she wasn't there. Worst of all, on that day, the bullying was heightened and Applebloom felt as though she was going to lose her mind if she didn't have no one to talk to. However, at the moment she breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that she could at least relay her issues to Cheerilee.

Unfortunately for Applebloom, she wasn't there either.

"Cheerilee is rather sick today children," The substitute teacher announced, "So I will be your teacher today." Grabbing the clipboard and dawning on a pair of reading glasses, the griffon announced the plans. "Your assignment today is to draw a picture in the style of the one of the artists you've been learning about."

Applebloom's face dropped into a perfect pout/open mouth gap of shock. She was totally unprepared. She rarely paid attention in class (focusing too much on acquiring her cutie mark), and she was a terrible artist, or so she thought at the moment. If she had her friend's with her, they could've relied on each other to come up with a great idea. But they were gone. Sweetiebell had the excuse, but where was Scootaloo? She was getting rather worried.

A few moments later, as the class continued on with their work, and as Applebloom stared blankly at the blank paper she was given, Rainbow Dash appeared in the doorway asking to see Applebloom. The electric blue Pegasus seemed on edge. She breathed heavily and her eyes were wide. This confused and frightened Applebloom somewhat, and when the substitute teacher excused them both for the day, the farm filly knew that something was up.

Good news was, Applebloom no longer had to worry why Scootaloo wasn't at school. Rainbow Dash told her.

Bad news was, Scootaloo was in the hospital.

As they rushed passed the hospital doors, Rainbow Dash explained everything to the dismayed Applebloom. Earlier that morning, Scootaloo bumped into Dash on the way to school and explained an idea that she was developing. Quite simply, Scootaloo found a way for her to break the land-speed record on her scooter. There was only one slight problem; she needed someone to assist her in pulling back the larger than life slingshot to fling her forward. Rainbow Dash, being the naïve and thrill seeking Pegasus that she was, assisted Scootallo, seeing as how she had a few minutes to spare. Everything worked out brilliantly. Once she was propelled from the slingshot, she stayed on her scooter like a pro, and Rainbow Dash was able to effectively clock her going at "120" miles per hour. It was going so smoothly.

That was until Scootaloo's face collided with the rather large and bulky tree branch that hung low.

Nurse Mercy prepped Applebloom for what she was about to see. "She was awake and fine when we brought her in, but we had to knock her unconscious for the surgery." She explained. "She suffered a broken nose and dislocated jaw, along with several lacerations along her face and a burst blood vessel in her eye." She sighed. "She's lucky you know. Fillies tend not to survive such a crash, much less walk into the hospital with a boastful and gleaming attitude of happiness."

She pulled back the curtains and Applebloom gasped. Tears began to well in her eyes. The sight of her friend in such a state was too much for her to bear at one moment. She was damaged pretty badly. The evidence of that was rather noticeable due to the excessive amounts of gauze that was wrapped around her face. The machines buzzed and beeped as the sleeping Scootaloo's heart slowly went along. A large tube was shoved down her throat to assist with the breathing, and to top it off, something else was showing brighter than any beam of sunlight.

"What is that?" Applebloom almost screamed as she pointed towards her friend's no longer blank flank. The cutie mark was rather simple. It was a scooter propelling through a ring of fire. It was an admirable cutie mark.

Dash chuckled as she patted the shocked Applebloom on the shoulder. "She gained that as soon as she got up from her crash. I guess that's how she was able to stay awake and happy as we walked in. She was practically crying tears of joy."

Applebloom's mind raced. Horrible thoughts began to transpire. It all boiled down to one simple key factor. Applebloom was the last of the crusaders to receive her cutie mark. She was now a teenager, two years away from graduating school, and still remained blank flank. Maybe she was to be blank forever; a pony with no purpose or aspiration; no goals or special talents. A pony with no cutie mark meant a pony that had nothing to offer. She had nothing to offer. She was nothing.

When confronted with this news, she stood awhile in silence, not knowing exactly how to handle these begrudging feelings of anger and betrayal which boiled inside her.

"Isn't it great," Dash commented.

Applebloom snapped.

She pushed Dash off of her with a giant burst of strength, causing the Pegasus to stumble back flabbergasted. Applebloom then screamed at her, with a voice which cracked with fury. Tears pooled down her eyes like waterfalls, and she placed her hooves to her hair and began to pull roughly.

"No!" she screamed. "This is awful!" her anger got the best of her at that moment, and she rampaged on the nearest object. In her case, it was a case which was lying upon the table. She picked it up and without thinking, threw it on the ground. The container bust open and all of its contents spilled out, and the mini-containers which held those contents cracked and caused the liquid to spill.

It was blood samples which began to pool along the floor.

"What the hay are you doing?" Nurse Mercy said as she grabbed the demented Applebloom and started to call for security. Rainbow Dash still stood in the corner, shocked by what she saw. As Applebloom began to get carted away by the justifiably angry nurse, her eyes caught something.

"Wait!" she screamed again, this time out of a pleading shrill instead of an outlandish yell.

Nurse Mercy, taking note in the change of voice in Applebloom, looked to the floor as well, and noticed what Applebloom was staring at.

The blood which flew out of the vile was starting to streak along the tiled floor. Strangely, the pattern in which the blood started spilling was almost geometrical….

…much like a drawing.

"Hand me a piece of paper, now" Applebloom commanded.

The art project was a fantastic success. Of course, there minor hiccups along the way. Both the Nurse and Dash were flabbergasted when Appleboolm asked that upon hearing that she couldn't use the blood from the floor, to have her blood taken and to be given the syringe. Never the less, there was no harm in what appeared to be no foul, and in a quick blink of the eyes, Applebloom was given a syringe of her own blood. It was the perfect tool for the perfect job. The drawing reminded her much of a cartoonist they were learning about known as Ralph Steedman. It was simple, and bold, and it was enough to get her an A (although the teachers were rightly taken aback and somewhat disgusted when handling the drawing. It caused quite a stir amongst the administration and she was called to a hearing on whether or not she was to be expelled, which gave AJ a huge impression of her sister).

All the painting really was, was the word "alone," spelled in blood.

Simple, yet overpowering. Disgusting yet practical. Dark and depressing, yet inspirational and impressive. These words would forever be associated with Applebloom's artwork, along with the cutie mark she received once the assignment was completed.

It was a paintbrush smacking a canvass violently, as though the artist holding the paintbrush was attacking, rather than painting. It symbolized all the pain and harassment Applebloom was going through, and how art had became her escape; how art was simply a way for her to unleash the demons onto paper, so that she would never have an episode like the one she had in the hospital again.

When her flank glared white with light and as that light dissipated her cutie mark was revealed. She jumped about as high, if not higher than Pinkie Pie, and began to declare "YES! YES! I GOT IT! I FINALLY GOT IT!" over and over again. The residents in the hospital began to cheer, knowing full and well how impressionable and important such a day was to a filly. It was the happiest moment in young Applebloom's life.

From that day on, Applebloom focused only on painting, using all the money she received from doing her chores around Sweet Apple Acres on buying the best brushes, canvases, oils and products that bits could buy. After high school, she went on to college to perfect her craft. 3 years into college, the fruits of her labor paid off when she was given the opportunity to display her works of art in her first art gallery. Many buyers came and went, and Applebloom went from poor to being only 20% away from Rarity's level of wealth. The family was proud of her, including Applejack, even though to this day, she still finds some of her artwork rather creepy and hard to look at.

Everything was going great.

Then Applebloom bit off more than she could chew.

While in college, she made some friends and some rather strange friends at that. She had no problem hanging out with the "ordinary," mares at school, but she was drawn, compelled, and most of all, welcomed into the group of other artists as well. They were a fantastic and bewildering lot. Druggies, addicts of all kinds, cutters, suicidal thinkers, progressive intellectualist, mate swappers, and above all else, ARTISTS!

She moved into an apartment with several other artists (the weirdo's AJ referred to), and lived there for 2 years. They were a strange group all right. Some had some rather shady pasts that no pony dared speak of. One pony in particular had a self-mutilation obsession while another suffered substance abuse problems. The only other female in the small, cramp, trash filled, polluted apartment use to be a groupie for DJ-Pon3, and had multiple diseases which caused blisters and measles to spread across her body. To this day, Applebloom will sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, sweating and screaming. It scared Applebloom mentally, and some of the things she saw, will never go away.

But she survived. It toughened her up greatly, and made her recessive to social interaction, but she was alive and well. Even though she would never go back to being the cheerful, sweet, adorable Applebloom that once was, and even though she was now only a shell of the pony that she use to be, she had her health, she had her sanity, and most of all, and she learned to support herself when no one else could be there. She still hung out with the crusaders when they found time to hang out. Scootaloo was usually on a movie set 5 to 6 times a week helping out with the stunt department and Sweetiebell's band was constantly either in the studio working on a new album, or out on the road busting their chops. But when they found time, they would spend the night together, and have sleep over parties like the good old days. But as stated before, Applebloom became somewhat of a shut in.

Today was 10 years to the day that Applebloom received her cutie mark, and she couldn't think of a better way to mark such an occasion than with another art gallery. This time, her artwork became so popular, that the local ponyville art museum didn't have the room to hold the multitude of ponies that wanted to see her work. So a theater was rented out and transformed into an art gallery over night, and the attendance was massive.

Applebloom explained her newest piece of art to the fans. Causally, she would take a drag of the cigarette. "The idea for this painting came from this theory that Twilight explained to me a long time ago." She said. She took another drag, and then continued. "Twilight had been researching on this ancient philosopher that believed ponies could evolve to a bigger and brighter level of consciousness. His name was…gahh…..I can't remember his name. I apologize. Anyways, he believed in a thing called a third eye, which is basically like our sixth sense in a way. When we pry this eye open, we evolve much quicker and become much stronger. He believed that in order to achieve this, ponies had to look into their 'shadow' which was the subconscious, and analyze what it meant. This meant picking apart their dreams, their habits, their feelings, etcetera, etcetera." She paused for a moment then pointed at the drawing. "This also meant looking into the past and realizing how it shaped you individually as a pony. And although the past can be a scary place, as depicted by the 'monsters' of this pony's past right here, we need to walk through it in order to achieve evolution. I thought it was a good theory and I partly subscribe to it. Logically speaking, we only use 10 percent of our brain daily, and by looking into our past and subconscious, we can evolve our thinking and gain the other 90 percent. Hopefully, all of us can do this one day, and maybe then, society and ponanity as a whole can stop acting like a bunch of chickens with our heads cut off." The audience lightly chuckled and Applebloom gave forth a rare occurrence for the spectators, a signature Applebloom all knowing smirk. After the tidal wave of photos ensued, she looked towards the audience. "Ok, I'll take one more question before I hit the autograph table and we can open this gallery to the public."

It seemed like millions of hooves shot up at once. Applebloom mentally chuckled at the sight of this. She randomly pointed to a grey reporter near the back. "Yes?"

"Is the pony in the middle supposed to represent you?" the stallion asked.

Applebloom looked back at her painting and hummed to herself in curiosity. "It never really occurred to me before, but that pony did turn out looking a lot like me, didn't it?" she responded. The audience laughed again. "I suppose my subconscious was trying to give me a message." In context with what the painting was about, the audience laughed again. Jokes aside, it was now time for Applebloom to give forth her true answer. "Well…Art is supposed to be subjective. You, the readers or witnesses or audience or whatever you are at the time, are suppose to place your ideas, your thoughts, and your opinions upon the work of art and figure out what it means to you. That's why music has so many genres. If one pony doesn't like hip-hop, he or she may like country and so on and so on. So with this painting, you could say that the afraid and terrified little pony is me, for I did indeed have a strange and terrific past. But one could also say that the pony could be Fluttershy, or Princess Luna, or whoever. What I was really trying to achieve was for the audience to ask the big questions, for all great works of art make ponies ask great questions. These questions are 'what is your subconscious like?' 'Do you like it?' 'What did you find?' But most importantly, 'have you visited it lately.'" She told the spectators, "Thank you," before stepping down the podium. Some of her younger fans tried to rush her and glomp her, but luckily the guards were able to hold them back from crossing the ropes.

As she sat down at the autograph table, Prima Color finished off the session by stating, "I declare the gallery, open!'

The autographs came and went. She signed mostly picture of herself or blank slates of paper; the typical objects a pony has autographed. The only bizarre thing about the signing that day was that she had to sign a baby. It was weird, but strangely kind of cool as well. She only vaguely hopped that the mother would wash it of her child's forehead later. Otherwise he was going to get harassed in school later in life.

When the gallery was starting to close, and the ponies started to fade away, something extraordinary happened. At the time, Applebloom was speaking to Prima Color and was beginning to argue. The situation was pretty self explanatory.

"C'MON!" Applebloom practically begged as she spoke to the manager. "I said 60 bits, no more, no less. Do you realize how much I worked on that bucking thing?"

As Prima began to step down off the step ladder, holding onto the picture being taken down, she shot back a look towards Applebloom. "Do you realize how much my boss in our company is up our flanks daily?" which she arrived onto the floor, she regained her calm and cool composer, and spoke politely. "Look Applebloom, I understand how hard you worked for this. And Believe me, if it was my decision, I'd let the buyer pay the original price. But this here is an auction, and unfortunately, no other bidder would go up to 60."

"I'll go 75." A new voice concurred.

Applebloom turned towards the voice, and her face broke in shock and awe.

She stood there twiddling her hooves nervously. Her eyes were darting in a guilty manner. Her pink coat was automatically recognizable for Applebloom. She thought she was hallucinating. There was no way in all of Equestria that she would ever show her face around her, much less seemed dismayed for such an act. However, it was reality, and she really was here. Applebloom mouthed her name silent in disbelief.

"Diamond Tiara?"

"I'll raise the bid up to 75." Diamond Tiara announced.

Prima stood there confused for a second. "Um…..ok. But the auction is already over."

"Go grab him for me," she asked Prima. "I know the man personally, and I believe we can come to an agreement."

Again, a small period of silence overflowed upon them. It was that type of silence that a pony gets accustomed to when awkward feeling would float abound. Again, it was Prima who broke the silence. She nodded her head towards Diamond Tiara and proclaimed, "Allright," before walking away from the painting, presumably walking towards the bidder.

Applebloom stood there dumbfounded. Diamond Tiara got closer to the painting and began to analyze it. When she spoke, it was obviously apparent that she felt rather uncomfortable speaking to Applebloom, alone.

"It-it's b-beautiful." She announced.

Applebloom looked up from her cigarette to stare at Diamond Tiara, as if to say, did she just say 'that'?

"Thank you," was all that the artist could reply with.

Diamond Tiara looked back at Applebloom. Her eyes darted towards Applebloom's face, then down to the cigarette, and then back up again. "You've changed."

Applebloom huffed in response. "You have as well."

The princess-like pony smiled for a brief second and then looked back at the painting. The tension in the room was so thick that it could've been cut with a knife. Finally, Applebloom sighed and asked the question that was pestering her mind greatly.

"Why are you here?"

It was now Diamond Tiara who sighed greatly. She stepped in front of Applebloom, and with the utmost sincerity, began to speak with her directly. Her eyes stared back at hers, and Applebloom noticed a faint trace of tears behind them. She actually legitimately meant what she was saying, and it blew Applebloom's mind.

"I….I came here to Apologize." Diamond Tiara began. "I want to Apologize for everything. For the abuse, the teasing, the bullies, just…..everything. I was a terrible person to you and the weight of what I did has been killing me these past few years. My father was thrown in jail due to bad business practices and my mother since then divorced him. I don't want you to take sympathy for my plight, but just hear me out ok? I was raised like a pampered princess my whole life and didn't know anything about heart ache or lost. Now I do, and now I understand how terrible you must have felt at the way I treated you. I understand completely if you don't accept my apology and I would hold nothing against you. It's just that…I had to do this. I had to. And I hope you understand that I really mean this. I know there's no way to say it rightly, but it still needs to be said." She choked a bit on her tears, and with a voice that was about to crack, she stated one last time. "I'm sorry."

Applebloom stood there silently. This couldn't be the real Diamond Tiara. It had to have been a clone.

Just then, at that moment, Prima trotted back in with a somewhat disappointed sneer. "I tried to find him but he's completely gone."

"That's ok," Diamond Tiara replied. "I live with the guy who bought the painting. He's my colt-friend. Hopefully we can work something out. But if it's ok with you, I'll pay up the extra 25 bits that he has not paid you yet."

"Fine with me," Prima announced as she held out her hoof. Diamond Tiara reached into her pockets and gave forth the coins. "Thank you," she replied.

"No problem." Diamond stated with a quiet voice that Applebloom recognized the emotional state behind it; sadness. Sadness for what though?

As Diamond began to trot away, Applebloom finally spoke up.

"Hey," Applebloom shouted.

Diamond Tiara turned, looking puzzled.

"Would you…would you like to hang out sometime?" Applebloom asked.

All the light pink pony could do was raise a brow, completely confused by the request. She thought Applebloom would never ask.

"Well you see," Applebloom continued as she herself began to become the one who stared at the ground and twiddled her hooves. "Sweetiebell's band is having a private concert at the Canterlot palace for Princess Luna. Only invited guests are allowed to attend. Scootloo got three tickets and she was going to give the third to her colt-friend but they broke up recently-so….I mean, you don't-….y-you don't have to if you don't want t-"

"I'd love to," Diamond Tiara replied, causing Applebloom to look up with a sheer expression of shock painted upon her face. "What time?"

"Ummm….."Applebloom scrambled for some words to say. "It's a late night show….you know-being princess Luna and all so…..maybe I could pick you up around 8 and we could hang out at a bar or something?"

"That would be awesome." Diamond Tiara said as she began to walk out the door with the painting in her hand. Turning back as she made her way through the rotating doors, she exclaimed, "I'll be waiting for you."

And with that she was gone. Again, silence flooded the now empty auditorium save for the two ponies. Applebloom was flabbergasted by what just happened. The gears in her head why beginning to cram. It was hard to process the information but from what she could work out, it appeared that Diamond Tiara was actually…..Nice.

"Who was that?" Prima asked inquisitively.

Applebloom replied with the only words she could think of. And to this day, they somehow still ring true.

"An old friend."

Whoa! That was long. Hopefully you stayed with me. Hope you enjoy the story and the art. More to come. Please give me your honest opinion. Also, each chapter title is refrencing a song, if you can name the song correctly, you'll get a shoutout in my other fan fics and on this one as well. PEACE! PLEASE REVIEW.