>"Honestly darling, I don't quite see the point here"
>There in a small cafe sat two girls.
>One covered in band-aids and pride.
>The other in fashion and concern
>Just another day in the life of a boxer.
>The girl having trouble reaching out for her juice winced.
>Dark, purple bruises scattered across her arms
>Her hands barely able to close around her drink.
>Sighing loudly with a judgmental stare
>The girl's friend placed a straw into the glass.
>She held it up to her friend's slightly swollen face.
"Thank ya" she grunted as if nothing was wrong with her.
>Her lips struggled with making contact with the straw.
"Hang on, ah almost got it"
>The bone white girl could feel the beginnings of a throbbing headache appear.
>She pinched the bridge of her nose as she shut her eyes.
>Once more she sighed loudly.
"Everythin' okay Rare?"
>The concerned question was punctuated by obnoxious slurping.
>Rarity's eyes opened as her head was still tilted downwards.
>She slowly rose back up as she rested her hand on her cheek.
>"This has been a long time coming" she thought.
>Taking another deep breath she put down her friend's now empty drink.
>"I think..." the next few words were hard to find.
>"...I think you should stop this silly boxing thing."
"Silly?" the stubbornness came to light a fire behind Applejack's eyes.
>Her battered arms attempting to push herself up from the table in anger.
>But the strain was too much.
>Rarity's expression softened with concern.
>"Yes, I do believe this whole boxing thing is now just a silly waste of your time, Applejack."
>Her hand tried to intertwine with AJ's, but the slowly steaming girl pulled her hand away from the table.
>She sucked air through her teeth as pain drove a loaded bus all down her arm
"Ah'm finally winning matches and y'all want me to hang up mah gloves?" her words as stiff as her fingers.
>Rarity found herself sighing once more.
>Too many times in one day.
>"I'm happy for you."
>"Don't think I'm not, but look at yourself." Rarity gestured at the pouting bandaged girl
"Rare, we've been over this."
"It just comes with the sport" she tried to brush off what Rarity was saying as she tried to look down at herself.
>A no-legged man selling her shoes had a better chance of convincing Rarity.
>But Rarity recognized that tone in Applejack's voice.
>Her drive has no brakes until something gives.
>A shiver ran up the base of Rarity's neck down her spine.
>"...I at least want you to consider it"
>"For me." her deep sapphire eyes looked up at the still standing Applejack.
>Hoping to knock some sense into her.
>AJ's shoulders relaxed as she clutched the side of her left arm.
>She didn't fully understand why her will was going all in on boxing.
>All she knew was the cheer of the crowd.
>Excited fans screaming her name.
>How the ring shines like beautiful gem.
>It's a warm and fuzzy feeling.
>She looked down at her hand and made a fist.
>Her fingers barely able to close unless she forced it.
>Ignoring the pain, she looked back towards Rarity.
>Whose eyes still held a motherly concern.
>Like unyielding stone towers.
>Applejack smirked as she placed her hand over the top of Rarity's.
"Ah'll be fine, Rare"
"I'm sorry, we've done everything we can" an almost whisper tone settled in the white room.
>The air felt dry and bitter.
>Rarity's mascara was running horrible streaks down her cheeks.
>The makeup and the bitterness of her tears stinging her eyes.
>Such a sensation didn't even feel real at the moment.
>Not with what her eyes could not avert from.
>Tubes connected to an amalgamation of a machine.
>The worst part was it was horribly silent.
>Not a sound from the beast.
>Silence though was an awful thing.
>It made her mind wander.
>Why was she in this room to begin with?
>Why had a voice apologized to her?
>Why was she crying?
>Glancing up from her tear-stained lap she remembered.
>The words refused to pass Rarity's lips.
>Instead, her shaking hand wrapped itself around the limp hand before her.
>She tried to resist looking to Applejack's face.
>But she failed.
>Cursed by her own curiosity.
>Through teary eyes she saw her beloved Applejack.
>Or rather, what remained of her.
>Rarity's chest heaved and huffed.
>Her mind refusing to accept this circumstance.
>But the lifeless, washed-out look in her eyes was all too real.
>Feeling it all too much, Rarity buried her face in the side of Applejack's bed.
>Sobbing, and cursing herself.
>"I-I'm sorr-" her words stuck in her throat as she looked back up.
>There was nothing.
>No man nor machine.
>Rarity still felt something grabbing her hand.
>Despite the emptiness in the room.
>Through some blind courage she managed to peek down at her wrist.
>Her heart froze solid.
>Applejack's severed hand gripped around her arm like a bird of prey.
>Then in an instant.
>It faded away to nothingness.
"We've done everything we can" echoed like an epitaph on an old tombstone.
>The feeling of being drowned in frozen water jolted Rarity almost out of bed.
>Her heart racing a mile a minute.
>Threatening to shake the whole room if she couldn't calm down.
>Taking deep breaths however she saw familiar sights.
>No more white room.
>No more machines.
>On the nightstand next to her was her well-organized collection of night masks and emergency makeup.
>Her breathing became less heavy.
>But a sound to the other side caught her attention.
>Sounded like a cheese grater going to town on a car tire.
>Glancing over she witnessed Applejack's majesty.
>Drool on the side of her face.
>And a hearty snore in her lungs.
>But the important thing was, she was okay.
>Rarity smiled as her baggy eyes held back more tears.
>Carefully she gently rose from the bed.
>Reaching into the bottom drawer of her nightstand.
>Hidden inside was a lighter and a pack of cigarettes.
>A half-empty pack of cigarettes.
>One for every time she dreamed about the white room.
>Exiting the apartment through the back door.
>The sounds of the night echoed.
>Crickets chirping, and the occasional passing car.
>Under the pale moonlight, Rarity took a deep drag of her smoke.
>The worry just melting away from the burning embers.
>Even if she was standing next to a disgusting dumpster.
>Even though her nights have been filled with those horrific nightmares.
>There was still something to keep her grounded.
>"Keep that rhythm going now!"
>Applejack jabbed from left to right with almost no time between blows.
>Each punch thudded against the leather bag in an almost operatic recourse.
>"That's it girl!"
>"Work em' like a big ole apple tree!"
>A small smirk crept up on Applejack's sweating face.
>The same combination connected with the bag as she kept on her toes.
>Just like riding a bike.
>One small step back and as quick as a bullet.
>An uppercut bending the bag almost in half as it was practically launched like a shooting star.
>Gritting her teeth she let out a small breath and chuckled.
"Still got it" she confidentially thought.
"How was that Sal?" she turned her head to the side of the ring.
>Where a grizzled, older black gentleman in a red tracksuit, and navy blue joggers was standing.
>"You looking good out there kid"
>"Just remember to keep your rhythm right, and to protect that face of your's"
>He pointed down at Applejack's midsection.
>"Your stomach can take a beatin' like a tree trunk, but your face is still fragile like fine china."
>But before another word of advice could be spoken.
>The gym doors flew open with a sudden jolt.
>Cold, numb feelings entered Applejack's spine.
>Tingling, and chilling it.
>Facing the door, Applejack saw Rarity and she had seen better days.
>Her makeup streaking in huge globby runs as more tears waterfall down her face.
>As if those three words were the catalyst to some long lost form of pure rage.
>She went off like a wildcat on the hunt.
>Her body tensed as she prepared to be tackled by the drama bomb, but it didn't come.
>Instead she felt a warmth wetness spread across her shoulder.
>Choking sobs slightly vibrated her shoulder.
>Applejack's hands still in their gloves.
>Curled into fists.
>Her right hand inched close to Rarity's back to comfort her.
"It'll be okay, Rare."
"Whatever it is."