Off Duty

“Well, I do owe ya one…” said Rainbow Dash.

Applejack nodded. “Glad you see it that way. As a personal favor to me, we gotta be more gentle. You know—nice?”

“It still seems kind of funny, though. I hope you aren’t going to make a habit of it, Boss. It’s okay—I’m pretty sure I can still get what I need.”

“An’ jes’ what is that crack s’posed to mean?” snapped Applejack.

Dash smirked, stretched out proudly on the bed, and kissed her on the nose. “Thanks for proving my point, Boss.”

At that, the country pony looked sulky, her ears back and her eyes narrowed. “Can you please not be doin’ that? It’s exactly what I’m talkin’ about. Sweet Celestia, why is this so hard to explain?”

“What I don’t get is, why is it a problem? You’re, like, the best pony ever! You’re so tough and sexy. Why do you want to be weak? For crying out loud, Boss, not to be obvious or anything, but you get to dominate me: Rainbow Dash! You alone get that. I thought that was a special thing I was giving you. It makes me really excited. Now you’re telling me that’s wrong?”

Applejack looked away, her sulky expression turning sad.

“You’re freaking me out again, Applejack…” said Dash.

“Oh yeah? Well… hear me out. Just a moment…” said Applejack, and she removed her hat, catching it in her teeth. Dash watched, her jaw hanging open in surprise, as Applejack dropped the treasured hat on the floor, and kicked it under the bed with a forehoof, and turned—meeting Dash’s gaze unflinchingly.

“What the hay was that?” said Rainbow Dash. “What are you about to tell me?”

“It’s just—Mother’s hat cain’t hear this, okay? You keep this a secret.”

“From a hat? From your hat, or from all hats?” blinked Dash.

“I’m serious! Okay,” sighed Applejack, “I understand it’s silly, but respect my feelin’s, okay? This is a lil’ sensitive for me. Ain’t you got stuff you wouldn’t want folks to know?”

That stopped Dash. “Actually… yeah, I needed to talk to you about something. That… biting. Uh… or you could say chewing. On my w… wing.”

“Was that wrong? I can stop. It was just a hay-brained idea. Seemed to work?”

“Oh my gosh, don’t stop!” said Dash, her eyes wide. “Don’t ever stop, but can you kinda never ever mention that we do that to anypony?”

“You’re kiddin’. I know I never saw no pegasus doin’ it—but it’s that kinky?” said Applejack.

“Oh yeah. Oh yeah. You wouldn’t know since you’re not a pegasus. And I guess since I have you for now, it doesn’t matter. But still, I never expected to be that slutty with anypony. With you it’s different. I like being incredibly slutty for you. Din’cha notice?”

Applejack looked over her slutty pegasus, who stretched and posed for her. “Hard ta miss, sometimes. It’s that big a deal? You coulda said somethin’.”

“If I did… you might have stopped doing it,” said Dash.

“Point taken,” said Applejack, remembering how Dashie had started to come and then been unable to stop. “I promise, I won’t tell nopony. Now, ya ready to hear me out?”

Dash peered at her sideways, clearly worried. “Can you give me a hint of how bad it is? I mean, if you have to hide it from your own hat?”

“Mother’s hat,” corrected Applejack.

“It’s your hat now.”

“Ah am my mother’s mare now… complete with th’ hat… excepting this, and I’ll thank you to not spread it around. Please?”

“Just tell me!” squeaked Rainbow Dash. “You’re scaring me!”

Applejack took a breath. “I am not really a stallion at heart. I’m secretly a mare.” She shut her eyes as if awaiting a storm of objection, then peeked one open, to see Dash staring at her in bemusement.

“Uh… that’s it? That’s the big scary secret?”

“Consarn it!” snapped Applejack. “Seems like you yourself keep findin’ that fact disturbing! It would cause me a heap ‘a trouble if that got out, how can you be shruggin’ it off now?” She glared, her tough cowpony look on full display instantly.

“Uhhh… boss?” said Rainbow Dash. “If you’re trying to be girly, how can I put this? That’s not really how it’s done. I mean, as much as I like you being stalliony…”

Applejack took several deep breaths, and her glare softened. “Sorry.”

Rainbow Dash wriggled over to nuzzle her lover’s chin, and gaze into her eyes—the full wide-eyed Rainbow Dash innocent gaze being deployed to soothe the irate Applejack. She didn’t just gaze cutely, either—Dash fluttered her wings, flicked her tail, stretched out an elegant leg for Applejack’s benefit, and squirmed playfully. Finally, she said, “THAT is girly. I hadda take lessons too, don’t feel bad…”

“To think that I’ve got to take girly lessons from Rainbow Dash!” said Applejack, disbelievingly. “Wait, who’d you take lessons from? Fluttershy?”

“Nope! Think real hard. I’ve been complimented on my wriggling before, you should be able to spot it. Don’t you notice something… feline, about it?”

The penny didn’t drop for a moment, and then Applejack’s eyes widened. “You’re joking. Gilda? Seriously?”

Dash nodded, smug. “Who else? She alone could teach Rainbow Dash more about wriggling during sex. Got to love that type. Butch as a rock out of bed, but a total kitten when you get her in the sack…”

“Really? I mean, you do? That type? Thank goodness,” said Applejack, “you’re makin’ it easier for me to talk about this. I’m ashamed to say it, but that’s my weakness. I need to be even more like that.”

Dash quirked an ear. “But I want you to be my stallion, you’re so good at it. And what does this have to do with keeping secrets from your hat?”

“Ain’t you ever met my Granny? You never heard stories about my mother Applesauce?”

Dash blinked. “Whoa. Really? Applesauce?”

“Cutie mark of one big shiny apple, kinda like Braeburn’s but shiny. How she hated that boy… She was the number one Apple. Ah’m a pale shadow of her, but I am my mother’s mare re-gardless. It’s a shame she din’t have no magic bit, I think she’d have liked it. I bet you that if she did have one, none of us Apples woulda been born so it’s just as well…”

“Apple SAUCE? Isn’t that kinda mushy?”

“It’s what happened to you when you crossed her. I think folks are happier now that I’m the Apple family head mare, ta be honest—I got to uphold the traditions, but I believe I temper it with love. Some of our traditions…” Applejack winced, shook her head, and shrugged.

“Wait, wait. So, in that picture on the wall, with your Mom and Dad… she was a tyrant? She ran the farm? Wearing your hat?”

“Ain’t my Dad.”

Rainbow Dash’s jaw dropped. “What?”

“Ain’t my Dad. Granny Smith explained to me. It’s Big Macintosh’s Dad. Colts get to know their Dad, ‘cos they’re soft, but Apple fillies stand alone… ready to grow up ta be head mare… And you best not tell this to anypony, but it ain’t Apple Bloom’s Dad either. Ah bullied Granny Smith into agreein’ not to tell Apple Bloom that—she’s a little like a grandchild, an’ Granny got a weakness for her and gave in. Like Mother’s ol’ sayin goes, boys is for plantin’ seeds in you and for keeping outta the rain so they don’t drown… an’ I guess Apple Bloom gets to be an honorary boy, an’ coddled. Suits me.”

Rainbow Dash stared at Applejack, dumbfounded. “You don’t know who your Dad is? I don’t believe it. With all your Apple family stuff? I thought you—y’know—came from somewhere. How can you tell me YOU don’t have a Dad?”

“Thought that were obvious. It’s traditional. Apple family is run by mares. Ain’t no stallion around to tell us what to do. We take real good care of Big Macintosh. Din’tcha ever notice how he don’t look anythin’ like me? They do say my Daddy mighta also sired Caramel…”

“Okay, this is weirder than I thought it was gonna be. I’m not judging you! I just have to say—why, Applejack? It seems like it makes sense to you. Why is it such a big deal that you want to be a mare, why don’t you guys talk about this, why would you not have a connection with all your family like so many ponies do?”

Applejack’s glance was sharp. “Such as you?”

Rainbow Dash’s wings drooped. She looked away. “Point.”

“Sorry. I should know it can be a touchy subject.”

“But that’s just it!” said Rainbow Dash, rallying. “Never mind me. I make my own awesome—I can out-hero anybody, especially while I can come home to you. I want you to have a real family, Applejack! Somebody’s got to have that. We can’t all be out there fending for ourselves.”

“I am that!” said Applejack. “I am that for Apple Bloom, an’ Big Macintosh, an’ Granny Smith. I’ll make it up outta nothin’ if I have to—an’ sometimes I have to. We’re more tight-knit than ever before. I think my dear mother could ‘a learned a few things about love an’ compassion if she’d lived, but at least she remembered to be gentle with the menfolk, meanin’ Big Macintosh and his daddy. I don’t know if she was gentle with mine, or Apple Bloom’s. Seems a mite unlikely.”

“Wow. It’s so weird to hear you talk about this. You never, ever mentioned it, even though you’ve always had all those other family members around…”

“There’s a reason,” said Applejack, levelly.

“I can see that,” said Rainbow Dash. She gulped. “So… that’s why you’re such a good stallion, huh?”

“Yep. Runs in the family. Ain’t you ever pissed off Granny Smith? And she’s nothin’ to dearly departed Applesauce, sugar. I am my mother’s mare—and I would like to be more’n that, if it ain’t too much to ask.”

“If being more girly counts as being more than that,” said Dash, “why are you also acting like it’s less than that? You’re that worried she’d be ashamed of you?”

This time it was Applejack who looked away—her expression first angry, then sad.

“She was, Dashie. She din’t live to see me become the mare of the household. She was ashamed of me. In her heart of hearts, she did not think I could carry on the line, and take over Sweet Apple Acres.”

Dash’s eyes were tragic, hearing this admission. But Applejack wasn’t quite finished.

“Well, I did. I am the mare of the house, and Sweet Apple Acres is thrivin’ even better than ever. But I don’t know if I rightly have carried on the line—and I don’t know if I even want to.”

Rainbow Dash couldn’t even answer. She just leaned over, and kissed Applejack, until the grim look in the country pony’s eyes had softened.

“Looks like I have you, anyways,” said Applejack. “You don’t mind too much?”

“I’ll give you anything. Anything.”

“That’ll help,” said Applejack. She didn’t explain further, as if the revelations had taken her to a frightening new place, with dreadful secrets unveiled. And yet, thought Rainbow Dash, it was so obvious in retrospect. Granny Smith was always so cantankerous, none of them spoke about Applejack’s parents, Big Macintosh deferred to mares constantly and was like a big colt in some ways… it made sense. And Applejack, her beloved, was left holding the bag of a strange, proud family that didn’t tolerate changes. Even their refusal to use magic made sense now. Applesauce, and Granny Smith before her, had refused it, and so it remained.

Dash wondered what would’ve happened if Granny Smith had heard of the Applebuck Season where they’d pitched in to assist AJ, and Twilight had harvested scores of apples with a glitter of magic. She winced and made a mental note never to tell the old lady about it—and wondered if it showed Applejack’s struggle to find her own way. But then, they’d established Boss was sweet on the studious unicorn—she’d ended up actually fucking Twi, and had told Dash a little about it, guardedly. That attraction might have been the thing that let her tolerate the use of magic, against all the family traditions. She’d certainly been raising Apple Bloom to question those traditions and superstitions.

“Dashie? You went all quiet. Is it okay?”

Rainbow Dash blinked. Applejack was looking imploring at her, biting her lip anxiously. Dash realized she’d been thinking for some time, possibly while looking fretful, and her love could be jumping to all the wrong conclusions. She sprang, verbally, into action.

“Everything’s totally okay!” announced Dash. “It couldn’t possibly be more okay. I love you more than anypony, and I’m going to be your perfect marefriend and give you everything you ever hoped for.”

Applejack blinked. “Uh… that’s nice. Very, uh, Rainbow Dash of you.”

“Of course it is! Your life is going to be made of awesome!”

“That said… what exactly are you fixin’ to give me now?”

“Okay, you said you wanted to be more girly? To be the mare? I’ll tell you what, I’m going to grab that magic bit, grow a dick, and I’m going to lay waste to you, pony girl! You won’t be able to walk for a… what?”

Applejack was gesturing with forehooves, shaking her head urgently.

“I got to work, honey! We can’t jes’ keep on gallopin’ in that direction! I appreciate it an’ all… you’re real sexy when you’re fierce like that… but we got to think up something else or we’ll both be victims of too much fun, you know what I mean?”

Dash regarded her levelly. “It would be worth it and you know it.”

“To YOU it would,” retorted Applejack. “I won’t stand for you endangerin’ your livelihood jes’ for a cheap thrill, and I’m damned if you’re gonna risk mine. You don’t need to be no rougher than you have been. Ain’t the concept of ‘enough’ in your vocabulary?”

Rainbow Dash smirked at her. “I heard of it once. It just didn’t seem awesome… enough.”

Applejack stared at her, and began to giggle, and the giggling spread, and then the two lovers were hugging and laughing. “What am I gonna do with you, Dashie?” said Applejack.

“The question is, what aren’t you going to do? Now let’s get back to the important business. What is the exact amount of laying waste to you, darling mare, that you request? I have awesome muscle control, you’ve experienced it. You can set me on blend, pulverize, liquefy, whatever you want, and I’ll deliver i… NOW what?”

“Aw, darlin’…” said Applejack, helplessly. “I don’t know if I can even explain it to you.”

“Try,” suggested Rainbow Dash.

“I don’t know… we go back an’ forth, gettin’ fiercer and fiercer. What if we try somethin’ else? I got to imagine it might be a new thing to you, from all I’m hearin’. You know Twilight?”

“Not like you knew her!” said Dash. She elbowed Applejack, smirking, and added, “When are you going to tell me more? You were holding out on me! You said she was tight, but I didn’t notice her walking funny, though you could tell she’d got some if you looked closely which of course I did until it made her mad and then I stopped. Out of respect for you. Otherwise that would’ve been even more fun.”

Applejack blinked. “You what now? Heh. This is gonna be hard to teach you. Are y’all up for a real challenge? Toughest challenge Rainbow Dash ever tackled?”

Dash grinned. “Bring it on!”

“Make love ta me.”

The grin dropped away. “But… I’ve been offering to do that any way you want. What are you talkin’ about?”

“I mean, we always go at it mean an’ savage. Make sweet love to me. I had to do it that way with Twilight ‘cos she’s a little pony an’ I’m big as a dude. It was… special. I ain’t in the mood for all that rough stuff, not from me and not to me, darlin’. Make sweet love.”

Dash didn’t reply right away, and looked worried. Then she said, “But what if I’m not exciting—when I’m not, you know, being exciting? I need to be exciting!”

Applejack nuzzled against her. “You are! But this is different. You din’t give up on me when I admitted my secret mare-ishness. Well—you’re a mare too—at least with me you are. We can both be real impressive, but darlin’? It’s just us mares here. We’ll get back to that wild stuff some other time, but won’t you jes’ hold me? I want to feel you inside me like… you get in there, an’ hug an’ embrace me, and my body will embrace you. I promise, it’ll feel nice.”

Dash licked her lips. “Boy. When you fillyfool you don’t mess around, huh Applejack?”

“Ya jealous I thought of it first?”

“I’m amazed you thought of it at all!” said Dash.

“Scared?” teased Applejack.

“No way!” claimed Rainbow Dash.

“Come on, honey—I’ll show you how.”

Rainbow Dash hesitated, then hopped off the bed and found the bit where it’d fallen on the floor. She picked it up between her teeth, the magical erection springing happily forth between her legs, and then climbed back into bed with Applejack, her eyes a question that was promptly voiced.

“So… ‘m I spos’ed t’ p’t it in now? Or not?”

Applejack hesitated, and then her eyes flew wide. “Wait! I wanna do somethin’.”

With that, she swished her mane around, seizing the little red hair-tie in her teeth, and pulling it loose. In a moment, she’d also removed the hair-tie on her tail, and tossed both onto the floor. Applejack shook her mane out, stretching, batting her eyelashes at Dash.

“Uh… what w’s that f’r, Boss?”

“Jes’ bein’ daring. Don’t tell nopony…”

“Huh?”

Applejack shook her head, and peered through her long mane as it fell across her face.

“Apple mares don’t wear long flowin’ girly hair, sugar. Y’all have seen how I cheat. I tie up jes’ about the last inch, and dare ‘em to argue. Always have. I know Granny don’t approve, but she ain’t the mare of the household. It was just about the first thing I did when Mother died. I took her hat, and I wore my hair how I wanted.”

Dash’s eyes were wide, though her teeth still clung to the magic bit and the blue stallionhood still jutted forth between her legs. If Applejack didn’t know better, she would’ve said Rainbow Dash was terrified. Her ears were back, but there seemed to be no reason for it.

Applejack leaned closer, and stroked Rainbow Dash’s unruly mane with a gentle hoof.

“But not like this. Now I’m all naked…”

She stretched, in sensuous enjoyment of that fact, and flipped over, wriggling back against Rainbow Dash with her rump to Dash’s crotch, turning her head to favor her love with a sultry gaze. “Don’t you fret. You can do it. All you do is practic’ly not move or nothin’… let me show you th’ feeling.”

Dash’s gaze wasn’t confident. She didn’t even budge. It seemed like her whole vocabulary for fucking had been taken away, but Applejack’s eyes drank her in anyhow, accepting her no matter what, being confident for her, leading the way.

“I love you, Dashie. An’ you’re doin’ great at not movin’… but you can move a little bit.” Applejack wriggled her firm, supple ass against Rainbow Dash’s crotch. “Touch me there.”

Rainbow’s leg was shaking, and that seemed really strange, but Applejack nestled back against her lover trustingly anyhow. She felt Dash hug her, and didn’t even complain when the hug became alarmingly tight—and then it relaxed, became gentler, as Applejack had hoped.

Dashie’s heart was pounding. Applejack could feel it. She almost looked back over her shoulder at Dash again, but then her attention was captured by an intimate sensation, the feeling of Dash’s magic-derived cock pressing against her, dead center to her marehood with typical Rainbow Dash skill. It only pushed gently, just as Applejack wanted, and she let out a low, sweet moan as the head tucked snugly into the soft outer folds of her vagina and came to rest, waiting to be pressed further.

It felt oddly soft. Applejack heard a gritting noise, like teeth bearing down on the magical bit, like Dash was fighting to not go limp. Dash’s body felt tense, and she held Applejack with a strange reluctance. Applejack’s ear quirked, and she began to look at Dashie again, but before she could do it, the pressure against her marehood gently surged, and Applejack melted in pleasure as Dash slowly slid the magical stallionhood into her.

It was a little squishy, compared to how it’d been for the harsh, wild humpings they’d shared. Rainbow Dash hadn’t had any trouble being fierce, or tough, and she hadn’t had any problem with Applejack being that way to her. It’d been a huge Rainbow Dash turn-on, and Applejack wondered for a moment if she’d made a mistake—if, in asking Dashie to be tender, she was asking her to go to an emotional place that the blustering pegasus had no interest in.

But she also knew she’d hooked Dash’s competitive spirit with the challenge—and if it was fair for Dash to kick her and incite her to savagery, it was just as fair for her to seduce Rainbow Dash into gentleness. Probably she alone could get away with it. It’d do her good, thought Applejack. That pony either cannot or will not be loving. Time she learned.

Dash was a firm, solid presence at her back—and a less firm, but still solid, presence sunk deeply into her marehood. Applejack squirmed, with a little croon of pleasure, and guided Dash’s hoof down between her legs. It was what she’d done with Twilight—for that matter, it was what Dash herself had done with Twilight. Except, to hear Twi tell it, Dash had gone after her hungrily, like playing a prank, or like she was forcing Twilight to orgasm out of mischief. Always, always the lil’ troublemaker, thought Applejack. Playin’ games with everypony and everything. And now that she’s touching somepony she loves, where is all that? It’s like she’s not even there.

And then, unexpectedly, she was.

Dash’s hoof, guided by Applejack’s, traced the country pony’s vulva, transfixed by magical stallionhood—brushed Applejack’s equine breasts, small mounds graced with erect nipples—and something happened. Dash’s whole body shuddered, and she made a small noise that Applejack couldn’t interpret, and her hoof went to caress Applejack again, and then Applejack moaned, for Dashie’s cock began to swell and stiffen inside her. Something had changed, or some dam had broken. Dashie was alive against her, clung to her, quivered with the desire that she had hoped for. Rainbow Dash shuddered again, with another little cry that seemed to speak of desire too much to bear—and she began, hesitantly, to move inside Applejack.

Applejack reeled with the sensation, so different from the earlier stallion-ravaging, like a sweet tide coming in. Behind her, Dash moaned and sniffled, and hugged her tightly again, and all the while that pegasus cock got thicker and harder. Dash was moving as if in a dream, shifting her body tenderly, and the stallionhood tugged sensuously and slid deep like waves breaking on the shore, like Rainbow Dash was simply part of the surge of some primeval ocean that lifted and swept Applejack deeper and deeper—a rip-tide drowning her helplessly in love.

Dash seemed to be drooling or something—Applejack’s neck felt wet. She didn’t care, it didn’t matter. All that mattered was the way Rainbow Dash’s trembling foreleg stroked her body, dipped lower to fondle her mare breasts like they were something too precious to touch, and all the while, Dash’s hips seemed to move of their own volition, not guided by Dashie’s manipulative pony brain but tapping into something deeper and more powerful, something that didn’t need to prove itself or win anything. The flow of it, the huge sway and rocking motion that still felt effortless even as Dash’s gentle strokes grew deeper and filled up Applejack’s ponypussy with throbbing stallion-cock, was completely new.

Dashie was ridiculously erect and hard. She moaned like a lost soul, and just kept moving as if she too was riding something much larger than either of them. Applejack stared at the far wall as if it was a miraculous, amazing wall, and let the waves carry her farther and farther, melting into her lover’s embrace in complete surrender to the experience, even as her ear twitched, as her body jolted, like a string of lit firecrackers with a few going off unexpectedly ahead of time. She gasped, heaved a deep breath.

“Oh sweet… Celestia…”

As Applejack tottered on the brink, she heard a sob from behind her, as if she wasn’t the only one seeing things too beautiful to endure—and with a mighty throb, Rainbow Dash came. She didn’t buck or get violent, she just nudged herself as deep as she could and unloaded, her body shaking, the magical cock seeming to swell up to its utter limit, especially at the base and flare. Dash’s come gushed forth, and Applejack wailed sweetly and lost her senses for a while. The wave that had been sweeping her back and forth had reared and dragged her under, and for what seemed like an endless time, there was nothing but that surge, the shudderings of her own orgasm, the tender, slippery motions of that thick stallionhood within her, and Dash’s forelegs holding her so tightly but clinging so sweet.

It didn’t stop, as much as it subsided. Dash wouldn’t let go, though she wasn’t thrusting any longer—that had subsided as well. Applejack blinked, half-dazed, her body one big limp puddle of post-coital glow, but without the soreness of a rough ride. Perhaps Dashie was sore, thought Applejack—sometimes it seemed to have as much to do with how hard you came, as what you were doing, and Dashie had come so very hard.

She turned to ask if this were so, and looked at Rainbow Dash’s face.

There had never been drool. It wasn’t drool at all. It had been tears. Dash’s face was drenched with tears. She still held Applejack tightly, but her eyes said she was holding her for fear she would get away, and then her words confirmed it.

“D’n’t leave me!”

“Dashie, darlin’! How could I?”

“No, I m’n it,” sniffled Dash. “D’n’t. Please? Please, please, don’t go ‘way…”

“Oh, honey! You don’t need to keep hangin’ on to that thing. We came, sugar, you can let it go an’ we can talk…”

“D’n’t wanna…” said Dash, plainitively. “This can’t ev’r end…”

“Well… you’ll have to let me have it, when it’s your turn. Remember? Remember how nice that is? We can do it like this. I’d like that.”

Rainbow Dash nodded, her face still tragic. “Uh-huh.” She still wouldn’t let go of the bit.

“There’s another thing,” said Applejack gently.

“Mm?”

“I need to turn around—and hold you, now. Come on, sugar—put it down.”

Rainbow Dash resisted for a moment, and then gently put the bit onto the pillow. The magic stallionhood slipped out and shrank away, and Applejack forced her quivering, sated body to roll over in bed, and took Dashie into her embrace, not a moment too soon—for Dash had burst into tears again.

“There, there, honey… I ain’t goin’ nowhere. I ain’t never leavin. You hear?”

Dash nodded, awkwardly.

“Now what brought all this on?”

Rainbow Dash sniffled, again. “Why’d you have to… make me feel? It’s not safe. Now I’m scared. Now it’s not about winning, or having… it’s needing…”

“Uh… mind helping me out with that? You wanted to win me?” said Applejack, stroking Dash’s mane.

Dash lifted her head, with a glimpse of her old attitude. “I can win anything—I can win anypony.”

“Sure you can. You won me long ago, darlin’.”

“I… I…”

“Easy, sugar. Easy…”

“I… useta be able to LOSE anypony, too. Anypony! Until… now.”

Applejack winced. Things were making more sense. “Is that what you had to believe?”

“It was true,” said Rainbow Dash in a tiny voice. She buried her head under Applejack’s chin, and against her neck, said “It was important.”

Applejack held her lover tightly, and tears came to her eyes. She knew so little, but at the same time understood so much. Rainbow always stood alone, fought to prove she didn’t need anypony and could beat anyone at anything, could never bear the slightest chink in that armor—and now, thought Applejack, just by asking, she’d led the unbeatable Rainbow Dash off the playing field. The game was over, and it was time to go home—and there wasn’t one for Rainbow Dash, not since some very early age. Just an empty apartment in the clouds, filled with silent trophies.

Such was the life of someone whose cutie mark was a rainbow bolt born of the storms.

Applejack bowed her head, and thought, while she hugged Dash. Eventually, the disheveled pegasus sniffled again, and looked up.

“B.. boss?”

“Yes, Dashie?”

“You okay?”

“I’ll tell you what I am. I am yours, Rainbow Dash. Body, mind and soul.”

Dash’s attitude again tried to reassert itself. “Yeah, I’d kinda figured that part out…”

“No, listen! I ain’t rightly a clever pony, and you’ve never minded that. I din’t know quite what I was askin’ from you, when we did this, but you did it for me anyway. You let down your guard, Rainbow Dash. For me.”

Dash looked away. “Yeah…”

A gentle hoof under her chin guided her gaze back to Applejack’s deep emerald eyes.

“You keep that guard down. Hear me? We are gonna have us a life. You have me now, all of me, every which way, includin’ some ways we prob’ly ain’t thought up yet. This is your bed. I am your mare—or stallion, as it may be. Ain’t nothin’ you could do that would shake me, now that I know the heart of you. I will protect that heart with everythin’ I got, so you let it show, y’hear?”

Hearing this, Dash’s face went through gratitude, disbelief, yearning, skepticism, hope—a tumble of emotions warring with each other as the isolated pegasus tried to square her new reality with the world she’d been living in.

Finally, amazement won out.

“You really mean that, don’t you?” she said.

Applejack’s gaze didn’t waver, and the weary circles under her eyes just added determination to her level stare as she answered.

“I mean it. I would die for you, Dashie. I love you.”

Rainbow’s eyes brimmed again, and she flung herself into another fierce, desperate hug, that stretched on and on as if nothing else could ever happen—until Dash pulled back, and fixed Applejack with a serious look.

“Yeah… we need to work on that, totally not okay…”

Applejack looked stricken. “What, what?”

“I’m just sayin’. Not allowed at all.”

“What?”

Dash’s glance was fierce and sharp.

“You do NOT die. Definitely don’t die. Like, ever.”

Applejack gathered Rainbow Dash back into the embrace, more gently, and for a change, Rainbow Dash didn’t feel coltish and awkward—she melted against Applejack, and fitted perfectly. Applejack petted her wing, and Dash gave a little sigh of bliss.

“I’ll try not to,” said Applejack. “I promise.”