Rating/Warnings: PG? I guess? I think G except for the Pinkie Pie conversation.
Summary: Twilight Sparkle is all filled up on weird lately, and that's even before she ends up in an alternate world where Applejack is Rainbow Dash's girlfriend instead of hers.
AN: I just don't even know what happened here. One minute I was watching the "Equestria Girls" movie and the next minute I was writing this junk and thinking way too deeply about how the relationships in the human version world seemed all different than in the regular one. I'M SORRY.
Although idk who i'm even apologizing to because the only person who is going to read this is Eri.
Stardust in My Eyes
Weird is relative at this point, Twilight Sparkle has to admit, what with the bare skin and the tiny nose and balancing on two legs all the time. Even before that with the wings and the crown, honestly Twilight is all filled up on weird lately, more filled up on it than Fluttershy's house was with baby squirrels, last time Twilight had seen it.
Weird was watching that girl come in the gym all sun-bleached hair and tanned skin all the way from her boots to her mini-skirt, and Twilight could only stare, mouth open a little, for the split-second it took her brain to understand that it was Applejack, her Applejack. Twilight hadn't thought much about what passed for physical attraction in this universe until she saw it on Applejack and was struck totally dumb by it because Applejack was beautiful. Weird was her body feeling it in all different places than usual, but it feeling it hard enough that Pinkie Pie had to shout Twilight's name three times to get her attention.
But the way this world's Applejack is looking across the soccer field at Rainbow Dash, part stubborn and part hopeful and not a little bit sad, that feels so weird that it gets right under Twilight's skin. Or maybe it's that the shock hasn't quite worn off yet, of having Rarity snap, "You mean like you've gotten over what happened with you and Rainbow Dash?"
Twilight's head had snapped up at the way she'd said you and Rainbow Dash, and she'd been just in time to see how Applejack's eyes flashed with hurt before she covered it over with that stubborn set of her jaw. Just because the whole shape of her face was different, that didn't mean Twilight hadn't recognized that expression right away.
That had been when she realized that hair and boots and everybody being earth ponies (earth people?) weren't the only things different in this world. Although rationally she had realized that if she didn't live here then she and Applejack couldn't be together, it hadn't quite hit her until that moment that Applejack might be with somebody else instead.
And for that somebody to be Rainbow Dash...Twilight couldn't see it, couldn't imagine it, until she caught her first glimpse across the field of Rainbow Dash, all long legs and hair streaming behind her as she chases after a ball like she's flying. She's beautiful too, enough to make Twilight's breath catch in her throat and her heart squeeze with homesickness. If Rainbow Dash can figure out how to fly in a place where nobody had any wings, then why shouldn't she be able to win Applejack's heart?
That isn't your Applejack, Twilight scolds herself. These aren't your friends and there's no reason you can't be rational about this. Her smile is firmly pasted on and she's sure the others haven't noticed, aside from Spike shooting her a curious glance once in a while. Of course she wants Applejack and Rainbow Dash to make up, no matter what universe she's in. Of course she doesn't want them to fight.
But no amount of rationalization can make it feel good when Applejack and Rainbow Dash throw their arms around each other. The others cheer as the pair turns to come their way, and Twilight starts making a mental list of all the ways that being jealous is very silly.
"One: you don't even live here," she murmurs under her breath, the excited chatter of the others drowning her out quite nicely. "Two: Applejack has a right to be happy. Three: She doesn't even know you in this world. Four: Rainbow Dash is lots of fun and very pretty and can be just as stubborn as Applejack and..." At that point the list starts making Twilight feel worse, so she stops.
"Somebody," Applejack is saying once she gets close enough for her voice to carry, "and I think we all know who..."
Twilight struggles to focus on the conversation, but her attention keeps drifting, mind occupied with the set of Applejack's jaw and the swing of her hair, things that Twilight had memorized so long ago. It's only when she catches Rainbow Dash looking at her curiously that she drops her eyes.
So maybe she knows better than to take any kind of physical challenge where she has to beat Rainbow Dash, but Twilight can't quite stop herself either when that's exactly what Rainbow Dash demands. As if if would prove that she could win Applejack back just by kicking some stupid ball into some stupid net, even if she could do it.
She decidedly can not do it. Rainbow Dash could have stood back and done absolutely nothing and Twilight would have still failed spectacularly, even if she'd her four solid hooves back instead of these stupid things she thinks might be called "ballet flats." Flat on her back with the wind knocked out of her, Twilight draws breaths as deep as her burning lungs will allow and pretends that the pressure in her chest is from her failure at sports.
Rainbow Dash leans over her, just a little bit of concern through the victory smirk, and Twilight doesn't have it in her to be angry. She loves her own Rainbow Dash after all, and misses her. Twilight does her best to just push it all aside for the moment, telling herself firmly that the less she meddles and the more she focuses on the problem at hand, the faster she can get home.
Just get her crown back from Sunset Shimmer and get out of here, and everything will go back to normal with no ballet flats and no mini-skirts and no strong, slender fingers redoing sun-bleached hair in a braid that her Applejack probably couldn't manage even if she were a unicorn.
"Something wrong?" Applejack asks, catching Twilight staring. Twilight shakes her head fiercely, cheeks going hot. She frowns and puts her hands up to feel, wondering what the heck that's even about.
Twilight forces her hands down; for all she knows human bodies do that at the drop of a hat. "So..." She tries to think of something to talk about as a distraction, but all that comes tumbling out is, "Are you and Rainbow Dash...um..."
Applejack goes a little pink in the cheeks herself, eyes dropping, and Twilight thinks she might get it now. How embarrassing, your emotions all over your face like that. At least the pink is sort of flattering with Applejack's skin tones; Twilight doubts it looked nearly so flattering on her.
"To be honest, I don't know." Applejack is still staring at the table. She rubs at the back of her wrist like she always does when she has a problem that can't be solved with bucking more apples, and the familiar fidget makes Twilight's chest close up with homesickness. "I thought we were, but then we had that fight...she said she liked me, before."
"She did?" Twilight asks, torn right in half between wanting all the details and wanting exactly none of them.
"Well, you know Rainbow Dash…right?" Applejack catches herself, giving Twilight a sideways glance. Twilight nods; she knew her Rainbow Dash, after all. "When she feels something, she tells you. Trouble is, no way of knowing whether that means she likes you, or she likes you, or maybe right now it feels like she does but tomorrow…"
"What did you tell her?" Twilight can't keep herself from asking. It's strange to hear the story backwards, when her Applejack had been so much the aggressor getting their relationship started. Given herself, Twilight thinks ruefully that Applejack hadn't had much choice; she'd practically had to beat Twilight over the head with a book to get Twilight to see that she was interested.
Applejack just shakes her head. "Nothing really. I might've said 'Oh, I see.' Real romantic like." Applejack rolls her eyes hugely at herself, and Twilight has to suppress a smile. "It caught me so off-guard I didn't know what to say. By the time I figured out maybe I liked that, it was already too late."
"It's not too late," Twilight counsels. Her heart feels a little like when Rarity is adjusting a new gown and gets blasé with the pins, but Twilight hates seeing Applejack look sad even more. "You made up, that's a good start right? You should just talk to Rainbow Dash about it. Maybe she feels the same way. You won't know until you ask, right?"
"She does need the direct approach," Applejack says ruefully, scratching at her nose with one of those long, weird fingers. Pony Applejack does it with her whole hoof when there's a chore she's putting off, so it takes Twilight a moment to recognize the gesture. Applejack drops her hand back into her lap and stares at it, rubbing at the calluses on her other palm. "What do I know, anyway? I'm just some hayseed farm girl spends all her time making cider, and Dash is…well, you saw her."
It makes Twilight sad to hear Applejack talk herself down like that, but it also makes her think about when Applejack had had to explain to her that out in the country, ponies usually stuck to courting their own type.
"I mean, what's a fancy, magical unicorn like you see in a plain-as-dirt earth pony like me?" Applejack had asked. It had brought Twilight up short, because she could see in Applejack's eyes that that was what she truly believed, deep down. Twilight had insisted that Applejack's ability to coax food from the land was as good as any spell, better. Most of her spells blew something up, lately.
"Your hooves are just as magic as my horn," she'd said, and even though Applejack had brushed the compliment off shyly, Twilight could see she'd been touched.
"I see you, too," Twilight says, making Applejack look up in surprise. Twilight looks her right in the eye, trying to get her feelings across. "You're just as strong as she is, just as stubborn. Plus you're the most loyal po…person I know, and to Rainbow Dash that's more important than whether you can kick a ball. I think…I think you're very well matched."
Maybe it was too direct, and maybe Twilight put a little too much of her real emotions into it, because there's a flicker of uncertainty in Applejack's eyes. But she smiles a little, and Twilight hoped that her words help. Even if what she's helping is her girlfriend confess to somebody else.
Not your girlfriend, she reminds herself. The longer she's here, the more often she has to keep reminding herself, over and over. She closes her eyes a moment and pictures her own Applejack, her hat cocked over one ear and her mane coming free from its tie and her cutie mark bright red against her golden flank, and that makes some of the jealousy ease. Makes her fourteen times as homesick, though.
Somehow she holds it together until they're dressing for the dance. That's the hardest thing yet, all of them over-excited and talking over each other, cheeks flushed, hair wild from trying things on and yanking them off. Twilight's throat is already tight with homesickness when Applejack happens to catch her eye, hair pooled up in a halo from the dress she just pulled over it and her bare chest covered only in her dark red bra.
Twilight barely makes it into the dressing room booth before the tears start down her cheeks. Fortunately they don't seem to notice she's missing while Twilight draws a dozen slow, deep breaths and tells herself that she does not, does not want to run her fingers over Applejack's skin, no matter how soft and warm it looks.
"Darling?" Rarity calls through the door with a knock. "Are you quite all right in there?"
"Yes!" Twilight calls back, her voice miraculously steady somehow. She looks at herself in the mirror, eyes sad and dress clinging softly to her weird, long curves. "I don't think this one suits me, is all."
When she comes back out, tears wiped away, Rarity is occupied trying to coax Rainbow Dash into a proper skirt ("It's a dance, sweetie, not an Olympic qualification round"), and Applejack is sitting at the mirror to do her hair. She looks like she's concentrating, but the smile that keeps curling up the corner of her mouth says that she's listening to Rainbow Dash's protests about limited range of motion.
The thing she's doing with her hair looks complicated, and Twilight draws closer without meaning to, close enough that Applejack notices.
"What are you doing?" she asks when Applejack looks over her shoulder.
"Doing?" Applejack looks at herself in the mirror. "Braiding it? Guess you can't do that with hooves, huh."
Twilight shakes her head, watching Applejack braid. It looks effortless when she does it, her long fingers weaving in and out of her blonde locks over and over. The tail that results looks firmly bound, sturdy, and Twilight thinks about her own Applejack complaining all the time that her hair is always falling out of the darn tail holder at the worst possible moment.
"Can you teach me?" she asks. Sure, Applejack says, she's taught half of Applebloom's friends to do it after all, what's one more.
The lesson ends abruptly when there's a flash of rainbow in the mirror, and Applejack's attention is completely stolen by Rainbow Dash twirling obediently for Rarity in the dress they've compromised on. It's okay, though; Twilight thinks she got the gist of it.
After they're all dressed, everything seems to happen all at once. The dance is exactly like one of Pinkie's parties only more, everything loud and fast, too many people packed in too close together, and people can stand a lot closer in a crowd than ponies can. It makes Twilight's skin prickle, but she thinks that her Pinkie Pie would probably love this. Rarity too, judging by the way human Rarity is positively preening with how many compliments she's getting on her dress.
When she glances to the side, though, it feels like there's a spotlight just on Applejack and Rainbow Dash, even though Twilight knows it's ridiculous to feel that way in the dim and disco-balled room. The pair are smiling shyly at each other, and Twilight can't tell whether they're about to dance, or have just stopped. Applejack reaches up suddenly to take her hat off and drop it on Rainbow Dash's head instead, and the flash of Rainbow Dash's delighted grin is too much for Twilight to watch any longer.
She just wants to go home. If she has to stay here and watch this for thirty more seconds, much less thirty moons, Twilight feels like she is going to go right out of her mind.
Thank goodness the fighting starts just about then.
Twilight makes it the whole way through on a rush of adrenaline, so maybe there's something to Rainbow Dash's methods after all. All the endorphins make the second half of the dance a lot more pleasant than the first half, so far as Twilight is concerned, but then again she can spread her wings for some space anytime she feels too close-pressed. Plus, Rainbow Dash spends her time zipping around the gym like a nut, predictably, rather than hanging off of Applejack.
Let her enjoy it while she can, Twilight thinks as Rainbow Dash whooshes over her head, Scootaloo's high-pitched giggling echoing off the ceiling. She wonders if maybe it isn't cruel to give Rainbow those wings only to have them stripped back off again when Twilight leaves, but then she brushes the thought off. This is a celebration, after all.
"I'll miss you," Twilight tells them when they're standing outside, which is sort of weird since she'll still have them, in her world. But they aren't the same, she supposes; the way Applejack is holding Rainbow Dash's hand behind her back is proof enough of that.
Also she's getting a weird vibe from Rarity and Pinkie Pie that could only be part of an alternate universe. In her world, if those two tried to go out, they'd kill each other in three days flat.
"Take care of her," she murmurs into Rainbow Dash's ear when they hug goodbye. She wishes she had the time to explain, but then Rainbow Dash's hug tightens, and Twilight thinks maybe she doesn't have to.
When she stumbles through the portal, back onto her gloriously stable four hooves, Twilight is so relieved that she nearly cries. She's disoriented from the trip, and all the shouting and grabbing the others are doing aren't helping that, but then she sees Applejack's tear-filled eyes over Pinkie Pie's shoulder, and that's when Twilight finally lets out a sigh of relief that feels like it takes all of the weight off of her chest.
"What was I like?" Applejack asks when they have a moment alone together. The others have gone back to their rooms, leaving Applejack to try and coax Twilight into sleeping. So far she's only managed to get Twilight to sit on her bed. "Other me, I mean."
Twilight is still unsettled about the whole thing, but Applejack's tears are long gone and she looks back to normal, curious to hear about it. That's Applejack, after all; now that she knows Twilight is back safely, for her all is right with the world. Meanwhile Twilight's emotions are still galloping all over the place like a Wonderbolt on amphetamines.
"She was beautiful," Twilight settles on after a moment. She shrugs. "She was you."
"Aw, shucks." Applejack grins and nudges Twilight's shoulder with her own. "Go on."
"Stubborn," Twilight says, making Applejack laugh. "Loyal. And strong, she could lift three cases of fizzy apple cider, and she looked really good in those boots. And..." Twilight trails off for a second, but keeping it inside is only making it feel worse. "And she was in love with Rainbow Dash," Twilight finishes in a rush.
Applejack's wide eyes and dangling jaw would be funny under any other circumstances. Twilight fidgets, not sure whether saying more will make it worse.
"But..." Applejack frowns. "Well. How about that."
"There wasn't a me there," Twilight rushes to add. "I mean, I guess there must be a me there somewhere, but Applejack didn't know her."
"Me and Rainbow Dash," Applejack repeats. She seems to be thinking hard about it for a second, before she shakes her head. "I can't hardly even imagine it."
"I couldn't either, until I saw it." Twilight sighs. She smiles a little, remembering Rainbow Dash with Applejack's hat on her head at the dance, tipped back at a coy angle. "It made a lot of sense, actually. Sometimes you two sound exactly alike. You're the only one who can keep Rainbow Dash from running all over you and getting her way all the time."
"That's the truth," Applejack laughs. "Gotta dig in your hooves sometimes with those damn pegasi. And alicorns," she teases, leaning over to tug a wing feather with her teeth. Twilight startles a little at the feel of it, still not used to all the new places that make her feel things. "Otherwise you flit all over and get yourself all in a mess."
Twilight tries to share her smile, but she knows hers is a wan imitation of her usual smile.
"All in a mess," Applejack repeats, eyeing her sadly. "What's really bothering you about it?"
"I don't know." When that gets her nothing but Applejack's steady gaze, Twilight tries to put her hoof on something in particular. "AJ," she finally says. Applejack tilts her head in confusion. "She called you...called her 'AJ.' I don't have anything special I call you. Why don't I?"
"Twi, you worry about the silliest things." Applejack shakes her head, amused. Twilight frowns and opens her mouth to protest, but Applejack doesn't let her get any words out. "They're them and we're us. I don't need a pet name to know how you feel about me. Heck, it's written all over your face, all the ponies in the Crystal Empire can probably see it. Is that what's bothering you?"
"No," Twilight answers softly. It's hard to meet Applejack's eyes, so she drops her gaze to her blankets. "I don't know. She was just like you. I know she wasn't you, and that there wasn't even a me. I know it shouldn't bother me. I'm sorry."
"Nothing to be sorry about. It's not like I want to see some other universe you cuddling up to Rarity or Pinkie Pie," Applejack says bluntly, making Twilight blink. "I'd be jealous as anything."
"You would?" Twilight asks.
"Course I would!" Applejack shoves Twilight's shoulder gently with her own. Then she laughs. "Sorry, just…the idea of you and Pinkie. Wasn't the best exampled I coulda picked."
"Definitely not," Twilight laughed in spite of herself. "I bet she doesn't ever shut her mouth even in bed, given what happens when her mouth is full at dinner."
"Twi!" Applejack bursts out laughing loudly enough that Twilight is afraid they'll wake the others, but Applejack's real laugh, the one that's so deep it's completely unattractive, eases some of the hurt inside of Twilight's chest that nothing else has touched so far. "Dammit, how am I supposed to look her in the face tomorrow at breakfast?"
"Don't," Twilight says, making Applejack tilt her head. "Don't look at anybody but me."
It's a stupid, selfish request, but that's exactly why her Element of Harmony isn't generosity and Applejack, this Applejack, still loves her anyway. Applejack doesn't even question her, just slides closer until their sides are pressed warm together from shoulder to cutie mark.
"I won't," she promises seriously. "You're the only one for me, sugar cube."
Twilight leans into Applejack heavily, exhaustion dropping on her like a thick blanket. Applejack bullies her under the blankets, and Twilight is so tired her wings don't even flop around to throw the blanket off. Applejack's weight is warm and solid against her back, and somehow that makes it easier to fall asleep.
She still wakes up three times, convinced she's trapped in that other world and will never get home, but Applejack pats her back to sleep each time, barely even waking up.
"They said I failed Equestrian literature and had to retake it in summer school!" Twilight wails the third time, which for some reason Applejack finds hilarious while Twilight doesn't see the humor in it at all.
The next morning at breakfast, Twilight tells the other four the whole story without leaving anything out, just like she and Applejack had decided. When she gets to the part about Applejack and Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy and Rarity's eyes go wide. Pinkie Pie is so shocked that her mouthful of pancakes falls right back out onto her plate.
"See, I told you so," Applejack murmurs, and Twilight kicks her under the table.
"Well I think it makes perfect sense!" Rainbow Dash announces, making every pony look at her with raised eyebrows. "What? If it takes a freaking princess to turn Applejack's head here, obviously anywhere else she'd only be interested in the coolest pegasus in Ponyville."
"Do try to be at least 20% more full of yourself, darling," Rarity says dryly, making Fluttershy laugh behind her napkin. Pinkie Pie just points and laughs.
"Don't listen to 'em, princess," Applejack advises, and it sets Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie off giggling again, but Twilight doesn't care somehow. After everything, it feels almost like a pet name when Applejack says it, even if she's only doing it to tease.
"Here," Twilight says when Applejack is retying her mane back for the second time (the first time had unfortunately involved the strawberry jam). "Let me."
"What—" Applejack starts, but falls silent when Twilight concentrates, her horn glowing warmly.
She isn't sure she'll be able to do it on the first try, since she learned while she had hands and no magic, but Twilight pictures the smooth weave of Applejack's long fingers through her blonde hair, and before she knows it, Applejack's hair is in a perfectly serviceable braid.
"There," Twilight says, feeling entirely self-satisfied as she snaps Applejack's hairband around the end of the braid and lets the magic drain away. "What do you think about that?"
"I'll be," Applejack says, turning her head this way and that, trying to get a good look at her hair despite that being more or less impossible. She settles for giving Twilight a pleased grin. "Guess you learned something from those weirdos after all."
"Maybe I did," Twilight agrees easily enough. "But I'm plenty glad to be home with my weirdos, thank you very much."
"OMIGOSH!" Pinkie Pie exclaims suddenly, making Fluttershy startle and drop her forkful of pancakes into her juice. "You know what we should do?! We should have a HUMAN party! We can stand on two legs and wear poofy dresses and nobody can fly—"
"Pinkie, sweetie," Rarity interrupts without missing a beat, just as Rainbow Dash is opening her mouth to mutiny. "Just eat your pancakes."
Pinkie Pie does, just like that, and Twilight side-eyes both of them for the rest of the day because she is totally filled up on weird right about now.