“Hey, AJ, what’s in here?”
Five words were all it took for Applejack’s heart to stop and her green eyes to fill with fear and shrink down to the size of pin points. She knew exactly what was in there: her friends’ loss of respect for her.
“Err, nothin’,” AJ chuckled nervously. “C’mon, Twilight, it’s time fer another round,”
Rainbow Dash flashed a smirk across the poker table at Pinkie, who nodded. In perfect synch, the pair rose from the table and crossed to where Twilight stood gazing at an old box.
“C’mon, ya’ll it’s nothin’, really,” Applejack tried again, shifting from hoof to hoof.
“It doesn’t sound like nothing to me,” Dash smirked. “What do you think, Pinkie?”
“Nope! It sounds more like…something! Should we look, Twilight?”
It took Twilight a moment to catch on to the joke and when she did an all too large and energetic smile spread across her face. “Yes, Pinkie, I think we should. Rarity?”
“Oh, don’t drag me into their little joke,” Rarity rolled her eyes and fanned herself with her cards.
“Fluttershy?” Twilight tried again.
“Uhm, no thanks, I don’t want to hurt anypony’s feelings,” Fluttershy murmured, earning a grateful smile from both Applejack and Rarity.
“Err, anyway,” Dash shrugged. “Pinkie, three…”
Cyan, pink, and magenta hooves flew eagerly into the box and dug out three battered, yellowed photo albums.
“Pictures? That’s it,” Dash sighed. “That’s your big secret?”
“Maybe it’s what’s in the albums,” Pinkie smirked again.
“Applejack, I bet there’s nothing wrong with your baby pictures,” Rarity cooed. “They’re probably adorable!”
“Awww, I wanna see baby AJ!” Pinkie tore open her album and looked down at the black and white photos inside.
The interesting thing was, the filly in the pictures looked like Applejack, same bright blonde hair and spunky green eyes, same Palomino coat and triple-apple cutie mark. Except, it wasn’t Applejack. It was the exact opposite of the Applejack they all knew and loved.
“What is it?” Rarity asked curiously, craning her neck over the shocked, slack-jawed trio.
Applejack hung back, slouching lower and lower as the silent minutes dragged on. Fluttershy, unable to contain her secret curiosity, trotted over and joined the three in their surprise.
“Ya’ll may as well say something. There’s no joke I haven’t heard,” Applejack sighed.
“Joke about what?” Rarity was on her hooves in a flash and over in between a gaping Rainbow Dash and a giggling Pinkie Pie.
“Oh, my little gem, you look stunning!” Rarity giggled. Her tone turned condescending, “And yet you won’t let me dress you up when we go out!”
“Heh, AJ, who knew you did beauty pageants! Ha!” Dash chuckled, flipping the page to reveal more photos of Applejack strutting down the runway with a long, flowing sea-green dress.
“Oh, look, Dashie, she won awards!” Pinkie pulled out a few faded blue ribbons and a long, white sash emblazoned with the red words, ‘Ponyville Beauty Queen’.
“Applejack the Beauty Queen! Priceless!”
“Come now, Rainbow Dash,” Rarity sniffed. “Certainly you have a secret special talent.”
There was a chorus of “No, I don’t” and “Oh yes she does!”
“Pinkie!” Dash hissed.
“So you do, don’t you?” Rarity smirked with victory. “And what would it be, Pinkie?”
Throwing a foreleg around Dash’s neck, Pinkie chirped with pride and adoration, “She cooks for me!”
“That’s so sweet,” Fluttershy cooed. “I didn’t know that.”
“Yeah, well, no one was supposed to,” Dash grumbled, but she didn’t shy away from Pinkie’s grasp.
“So we have a beauty queen and a gourmet chef,” Applejack reveled. “Who knew?”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Dash sighed. “Can we just go back to playing?”
The five retook their seats at the table and Applejack dealt the cards, as she always did. But as they played, Applejack couldn’t help but gaze over at the box, reminiscing those days of a curled, soft mane, long, beautiful dresses, and an adoring crowd.
“Ya know, Rare, maybe it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I got dressed up sometimes…”
Filly beauty queen Applejack! So adorable! Though I don’t know where we’d fit this into AJ’s established canon, it’s a cute enough concept to ignore that and enjoy the teasing, and I like how AJ thinks back to those memories and bonds a bit with Rarity. A fun little story, Red Pen.