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By Conner Cogwork
What would you do, if you met a pony who was at once your brother, and yet not? Applebuck wishes to reunite with his 'Cousin JayJay', and braves the dimensional divide to reach his goal. But being a small foal, how will he deal with a world in which everything is flipped? His friends, his family, and even... himself?
Image credit to KtKat! Thanks!
Through Eyes Unused
"You alright, Cousin Applebuck?" the yellow filly in front of him asked. "Y'all look like yah seen a ghost!"
Oh it's worse than that, he thought to himself. Ah just got a reminder that Ah'm in WAY over mah head.
She really DID know who ah was this whole time! Wh-what if she tells her friends? What if they start lookin' fer me? Cousin JayJay'll have a fit if she finds out from one of them! A-ah should... Ah should really...
"Y-know," he started out-loud, eyes flicking about uneasily at the passing scenery as they buzzed down Leek Ave. "O-on second thought, it's been a long day fer me... maybe we should-"
Right before crossing an intersection, Scootaloo suddenly swerved to the right, causing all ponies inside the wagon to hold on tight, Applebuck's face flushing as he realized that Sweetie was pressing herself close and squeezing him from behind for all he was worth. Their diminutive, winged chauffer zoomed the Crusader-mobile up alongside a nearby building, suddenly stopping them all with a jolt, allowing herself to peer around the structure's corner.
"Tar-nation, Scoots!" both Apples Bloom and Buck bellowed. "What was that all 'bout!?"
"Shush you two, you're doing it again." The pegasus waved a hoof at them. "We've got a little obstacle in the path up ahead."
"Make that TWO obstacles. Really rich ones. Y'know, them."
"Ooooooooh," the trio in the wagon grumped, crossing their hooves. "THEM."
The farmfilly had to blink a couple of times, before turning to her colt self. "Wait a second. Do yah even know who we're talkin' 'bout, Cousin?"
He flushed again, realizing that once more he had become lulled by the sense of familiarity of the events around him. There was only one set of 'them' that he could think of, after all. "Uhm, Ah can take a guess." he stuttered. "Ponies from school that got cutie-marks, that make fun of ones that don't?"
"That's right." the unicorn nodded. "Is it really them, Scoot?"
"Yep. Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara."
The colt had to pause to process those names. Silver... Spoon? Diamond TIARA? Back home, they were Silver Ladle and Diamond Crown! Oh gosh. Now he felt his stomach churn. They were bad enough as boys back home. How am Ah gonna deal wit' them as GIRLS here?!
"What're they doin', Scoot?" Applebloom asked. "Sittin' an' talkin'?"
"Kinda," She craned her head out to get a better look. "They're at a table, there's a big box on it... oh wait, hang on, there's a waiter coming... oh WOW I've never SEEN so many jelly donuts!"
"Yeah, he's got a big tray full of them! Now he's... he's dumping them in the box! And... now they're getting up! I see, they're taking the box with them!"
"Probably off ta somewhere in th' park ta pig out on 'em," the yellow pony grumped, crossing her hooves again with a sour expression on her face. "They got more moolah than they know what t'do with, Ah tell yah what."
"Oh guys," Sweetie Belle began. "I've got some bits on me still. If you want, I could get us all some jelly donuts too."
"S'not the same." Scootaloo piped up from her watch position. "Thanks for the offer though. Hey, they're heading this way. If we just sit tight, they'll pass us, and we'll be able to go on without any heckling from the royal peanut gallery."
Applebuck sat back against the wagon's rim as he thought. Heh. If it were up to me... if Ah were back in my world, an' had Crown an’ Ladle headin' mah way with a box of donuts, Ah know EXACTLY what Ah would do.
"Ah know EXACTLY what we're gonna do." his female double piped up, face full of determination. "We're gonna get us a few of them donuts."
The pegasus looked up at her with a grin, while the unicorn could only gulp worriedly. The colt on the other hand, had to mentally facehoof as he realized Of course she's gonna think just like me! She IS me! Oh well, in fer a penny, in fer a pound!
"What's the plan, Bloom?" their driver asked, leaning in closer.
"Okay... okay, Ah got it. Yesterday, Ah overheard them talkin' 'bout colts at lunch. They were talkin' 'bout which ones were cute or strong 'n whatever. Ah think right now, they're both a li'l bit 'boy-crazy', if yah know what Ah mean."
A giggle from the white one, and a disgusted face from the orange one. However, it was the yellow one that made Applebuck's skin crawl as she proceeded to turn and look at him, a sly smile and expression coming over her face. "An' we just happen to have a brand-new, well-mannered, handsome colt right here at our disposal."
Not five seconds later he walked out from behind the building, now adorned with a pair of saddlebags strategically positioned over his flanks, obscuring the fact that he was a blank. The plan had been hurriedly explained to him, and while on a very base level he was happy to go along with it, it still meant meeting his arch-rivals... under new faces.
He walked forward in a daze, eyes drifting and then locking onto his targets. He took a few seconds to stare, before shaking his head and looking again. What in tar-nation...
The coloration of the two fillies walking in his direction were unmistakably familiar. It was just that up to this point, he was still thinking of them as the boys that he knew back in his world. The sight of a pink pony with purple and white hair and the grey filly with a pigtail struck him like a ton of bricks. It was the silver one who was hauling the box with a slight sway in her step that his orange eyes couldn't help but follow as her locks bounced with every step she took and BY SOLARIS'S BEARD WHY AM AH LOOKIN' AT HER LIKE THAT?! SHE'S JUST LADLE AS A GIRL AN' YOU KNOW LADLE'S A STUCK-UP JERK! SO STOP LOOKIN' AT HER LIKE THAT!
The two rich girls were chatting animatedly amongst themselves. As he drew closer however, he saw Diamond Tiara's eyes take notice of him, eyes widening slightly to take him in. Silver Spoon joined her a second later, and eventually their steps began to slow, trying to get a better look. Welp, here ah go. the colt steeled himself.
He turned his head to actually look in their direction and stopped, before taking his cap off and giving an exaggerated bow to the ponies. "Good afternoon, ladies." he drawled in a low voice, with as much respect for a lady as he could manage, like his brother had taught him.
He heard a stifled giggle from their direction, before the pink one spoke. "And a good afternoon to you too, sir. Are you new in Ponyville?"
"That Ah am." he replied, standing back up and placing the cap back on his head, tucking it low over his eyes as he introduced himself. "Th' name's Buck. Johnny Buck. At yer service." Why didn't Ah think of that name before? Woulda saved me a heap of trouble wit' mah other self.
Again the fillies glanced between each other, badly-hidden looks of glee on their faces. They hurriedly composed themselves again, before the leader responded. "A pleasure to meet you. I am Diamond Tiara, and this is my friend, Silver Spoon. We were on our way to the park, good sir, would you care to join us?"
"It's not every day we see such nice gentlecolts in this town." Silver Spoon added, a slight purr to her voice. "We'd love the opportunity to get to know somepony with the same class as us." She then proceeded to toss a wink his way.
This is ALL kinds of wrong. he found himself thinking, trying to get a grip on himself. His stomach was churning at the thought of Silver Ladle flirting with him, and yet his heart was unexpectedly working hard at the sight of this girl expressing interest in a country boy like him. Get a hold of yerself Applebuck. Remember. Eyes on th' prize.
"It'd be mah pleasure." he responded, wresting his eyes away from the silver pony's face and towards the huge white box perched precariously on her back. "Say Miss Sp-Spoon... that thar box looks awful heavy fer a filly like you t' be haulin' 'round."
Tiara let out a quiet 'Oooooo' at her friend, as the bespectacled one looked behind her at her cargo. "Oh my, well, it is rather weighty, now that you mention it. I was originally intending on carrying it to the park all by my lonesome, but..." she then proceeded to turn her eyes back onto the yellow pony. "If you're offering to take this little bundle off my back~"
Again he bowed. "Th' thought did cross mah mind, mah lady."
"Ooooh, such a well-mannered gentlecolt." Tiara crowed, as the boy walked up next to them. "Offering to take a lady's bags? It's so hard to find a boy of your character, Mister Buck. Snips and Snails would do well to learn from you."
Already he had a clear idea of who she was talking about, but he tried hard not to think about it. His mind was more preoccupied with other matters, such as the silver-pelted filly that had walked up rather close beside him, tilting her back to allow the box to slide off her spine and onto his. The poor apple pony felt his face redden a bit more as she proceeded to bump her flank into his, slightly dislodging his saddlebags. Did she just do that on purpose? Ooooh hang in thar, don't chuck yer cookies yet...
"Oops!" Silver Spoon dramatically gasped. "Looks like I almost knocked your bags off. My apologies, let me get that for you sir~"
Applebuck gulped again. Apology nuthin', she just wants t' look at mah flanks! Oh sweet Solaris Ladle wants tah look at mah flanks Ah swear Ah'm gonna spew right here where Ah'm standin'-
"Hey... hold on here."
He couldn't see behind him, due to the box, but he could feel her hooves adjust the bags around his flanks... on second thought, it felt more like she was lifting them OFF to take a look underneath!
"Tiara!" The surprise was evident in her voice. "You won't believe this!"
The purple-maned one blinked. "What, what is it?"
"Our gentlecolt here's a BLANK-FLANK!"
Ohkay, that's it. he thought to himself, before taking a deep breath and speaking. "Aw gosh, y'all dun found me out. Ah hope you don't mind it bein' a blank flank who's..." he then paused to inhale, before proceeding to belt his voice louder. “-CARRYIN' YER JELLY DONUTS!”
A buzzing behind a building's corner suddenly fired up, and the two rich fillies couldn't help but stare wide-eyed as the Cutie Mark Crusaders zoomed out from behind their hiding spot, barreling down towards their position.
Spoon dodged left, while Tiara dodged right. The colt on the other hand, gave a buck upwards, causing the package to bust its top, a few of the filled pastries flying up into the air.
Right in time for the Crusader-mobile to drive by. Quick as a wink, each filly reached out as they passed, and grabbed a donut or two out of the air. At the same time, Applebuck ditched the box, hopping onto the conveyance and catching a donut of his own in his mouth as he went.
"Thank yah kindly fer th' donuts, Diamond Tiara!" Applebloom called back as they sped down the street.
"An' sorry fer th' mess!" her 'cousin' called back. "Ah'll take yah up on yer offer some other time!"
As they buzzed out of sight, the air rung out with the voice of four foals as they chanted "CUTIE-MARK CRUSADERS DONUT LIBERATORS! YAY!!"
The pink pony got to her hooves and quickly collected their box, already noting the missing pastries. She gave a glare in the direction that they went, cheeks puffed out in indignation. “Of ALL the... ROTTEN, DISPICABLE, HORSEAPPLES... How DARE you pull a stunt like that! And I thought you were a GENTLECOLT! My father will have words! You hear me, Johnny!? WORDS! LISTEN TO ME WHILE I’M SCREAMING AT YOU!!”
By then the dust had settled, the Cutie Mark Crusaders having long vacated the scene, leaving the two fillies alone in the street. At length, Diamond Tiara stood and calmly recollected her tiara, before sparing a glance towards her companion.
The young grey mare was looking in the same direction that the four ponies had left in, though her expression was more dazed than anything. A long moment passed, before she turned her head to look at her pink friend.
"You know what, Tiara?"
The aforenamed pony gave a blink. "What?"
"For a blank-flank... I still think he was kinda cute."
“Y’know. For a blank-flank.”
There was a ragged sigh, as Tiara turned away, picking up the box in her mouth and marching back towards the restaurant, mumbling under her breath.
“I wonder if he’s a relative of Applebloom’s.” Silver Spoon continued to ponder, gaze locked back down the street. “I mean, that accent... It sounds silly coming out of Applebloom, but out of him? His voice was just...” her expression softened as she let out a wistful sigh, glasses still askew on her face.
That was just too much. The pink one dropped her box and marched right back over to her friend, before pulling her back up onto all fours and tugging her back towards the restaurant. “Forget it Spoony. There’s no way I’m letting you get hung up over a colt that’s gonna cause us nothing but trouble.”
“B-but, how do you know he’s gonna cause us trouble? It was just the one time-”
“Because he’s with Applebloom. And you know what they say. The apple never falls far from the tree.”
Donuts were savored and enjoyed as the foursome rested inside the Crusader Treehouse. Applebuck was now finding himself more and more at ease in his new surroundings. Despite being in an alternate dimension, the thrill of having pulled off a caper, as a Crusader, WITH Crusaders, had cheered him more than he would have thought possible.
"Oh man, did you see the look on their faces?!" Scootaloo laughed, muzzle smeared with strawberry jelly. "That was just priceless!"
"You guys know that their parents will reach ours eventually, right?" Sweetie asked, nibbling daintily on hers. "You know what they say about Karma. 'You reap what you sow'."
"Eh, it was worth it." Applebloom waved off the comment, as she reclined on one of the clubhouse pillows, donut in-hoof. "Besides, knowin' them, they got plenty of bits to buy 'em s'more donuts if they wanted. Maybe a whole 'nother boxfull."
“Why’ve they gotta be so snooty-snoot with their bits anyway?” the pegasus spoke again. “If I had anything like the amount of bits that the Riches family has, I’d… I dunno, use it for something constructive.”
The yellow colt raised an eyebrow. “Oh yeah? Like what?”
“Hmmm… probably build a skate-park. So everypony could come and skate and do tricks all the time!” She laid back in her seat, eyes going out-of-focus as she dreamed. “Man, I’d love to see Rainbow Dash try it out. I bet she’d love it!”
The unicorn giggled a little, before lapsing into thoughtfulness herself. “If I had the bits… I would build like, a giant birdhouse for all of Miss Fluttershy’s birds. Like, big enough for every bird in Ponyville to live in!”
Scootaloo rolled her eyes, as Bloom let out a coo. “Awww, that’s so sweet, Sweetie Belle!” she said, while Applebuck merely nodded, sorting the name ‘Fluttershy’ away in his brain for later analysis.
“As for me,” the apple filly piped up, a hoof to her chest. “Ah think Ah’d use that money t’ help keep th’ family afloat through th’ winter. Th’ cider season always helps, but sometimes we come up a li’l bit short. So…”
Applebuck lifted another jelly donut in his double’s direction, in motion of a toast. “Ah hear yah, cousin. Believe me. Ah’d use them bits t’ make sure mah family stayed good too.”
She nodded back towards him. “S’too bad them rich ponies haveta feel like they need to rub their saddles intah everypony else’s faces, eh? Ah’d like to think that none of us would ever do that.”
“Ahh well. Guess there’s just no figurin’ out them high-an-mighty types, is there?”
They all murmured in agreement, before letting a comfortable silence descend about them. Here and there one would smack noisily, taking a bite into a pastry. Thinking thoughts and pondering little dreams. Just a calm, everyday, evening laziness...
This ain't so bad. he thought. Don't feel all that different from home... in fact, Ah'd almost say that ah still WAS home...
"So." the little pegasus piped up. "Were we going to do Bungee-jumping or what?"
"I dunno." Sweetie replied, ever the voice of caution. "Do we REALLY have to do it from Dead-Hoof's drop? Why can't we just... you know, do it from the clubhouse railing? A-and have lots of pillows nearby?"
"Aww, c'mon Sweetie/Silver," both of the red-maned ponies spoke once again. "It ain't nearly as fun that way!"
Once more, each pony popped their orange eyes open in surprise, before glancing at each other in puzzlement. The pegasus seated nearby got to her hooves as she leveled an odd look of her own at the two. "Okay, that's just getting freaky now. What's going on here, 'Bloom? Does every pony in your family do this?"
The unicorn had her own question. "Did you just call me Silver?"
Applebuck clamped his hooves over his mouth, his irises shrinking further. Ack, maybe Ah'm getting TOO comfortable. Ah'm fergettin' Ah'm still a stranger 'round these parts. If Ah don't watch mahself, Ah'll start callin' them Silver an’ Scooteroll all th' time.
"A-Ah'm not shore." Applebloom confessed, a hoof rubbing at the back of her head. "It's never happened wit' me before... though now that Ah think of it, Cousins Red Delicious and Gold Delicious kinda do th' same thing."
"Y'know, you're right." the boy added, recalling the relatives in his own dimension. "If they weren't both sayin' th' same thing at th' same time, they were finishin' each other's sentences. Sometimes they'd creep some folks out-"
"-but it’s just one of those things we Apple family're used to." his doppelganger finished. A second of silence passed before her eyes widened in realization, turning to look at him with an open mouth. "Ah just finished yer sentence! Maybe it DOES run in th' family!"
"Maybe." the white filly started, coming over to sit by the two farmponies. "Maybe there's even more to it. I mean, think... Apple-Bloom, Apple-Buck... I know that apples run in your family, but even then, those names sound really similar to each other."
He bit his lip in trepidation. Gettin' a mite bit close there, 'Sweetie'. Yeah, mah 'Cousin' and I are closer than y' think. But ah'm not shore if SHE'S ready t' hear that...
... she's not gonna take it very well. Good lawrd, Ah cain't believe Ah didn't think of it. When Ah first met mahself, Ah nearly had a conniption fit. If SHE finds out who Ah really am... she's probably gonna react th' same way, if not worse! Great gallopin' Grundels, what'm Ah gonna do?!
"Just like Red an’ Gold Delicious!" the yellow filly exclaimed, now locking eyes with her male self again, a glint of awe shining from them. "Cousin Applebuck... maybe we're Super Cousins, just like them! Oh y'all gotta come to th' next reunion Cousin, Ah cain't wait t' show everypony!"
"M-Maybe, cousin." he stammered, involuntarily taking a step backwards. "Th-though Ah wouldn't go holdin' mah breath now..."
"Guys." Scootaloo interjected, the pegasus having been patiently quiet up till now. "While this has been fun and all that, I think we've kinda lost the subject. Are we, or are we not, gonna try for our bungee-jumping cutie-marks today? I mean, unless we got one for donut-grabbing..."
There was a pause, before all four ponies lifted a hindleg and looked back to their flanks to check. Still bare.
"...which we haven’t, I'd still like to squeeze in one more caper." she finished, flapping her wings impatiently.
Applebloom took a look out the clubhouse window and grimaced. "Gah, sorry Scoots, but take a look outside. Th' sun's goin' down. It's gonna get dark soon."
Sure enough, the light had begun to descend. Th’ days almost done. the colt thought to himself. Passed by quicker than ah thought it would. Not sunset yet, but AJ would be wantin’ me home by now...
"Rarity will be waiting." Sweetie added. "She usually gets really worried if I'm not home by the time it gets dark."
The pegasus sighed in defeat. "Aww, okay then. But remember, we're STILL trying it tomorrow, alright?"
Applebuck and Bloom couldn't help but chuckle. "Alright Scoots." they both spoke. "First item on th' agenda tomorrow!"
Again they took on looks of surprise as they looked at each other. This time around however, the filly let a big smile go across her face while both of her friends rolled their eyes or giggled. The colt let out a nervous laugh in turn, as his female self proceeded to ask him "Say Cousin, where're y'all stayin'? Got any friends in Ponyville?"
He blanched. Ah knew Ah fergot sumthin'. "Ahh... well..." He dipped his head low and rubbed the back of it, before locking eyes with his alter-ego again. "A-Ah was kinda thinkin' of... stayin' on th' farm. Y' know, family an’ all that..."
"Shore thing!" she exclaimed in turn. "We got plenty of room! Say Scoot, would yah mind drivin' me an’ mah cousin to th' house before yah leave?"
"No problem, 'Bloom." the orange pony replied, grabbing a nearby helmet and securing it to her skull. "Race yah to the wagon!"
To be continued...
"Thar never WAS a Dusk Blitz, was there?"
The boy stared at her for a second, before looking down again and muttering. "Big bro was right, Ah AM a bad liar... yeah, Ah'm awful sorry 'bout leadin' you girls on a wild griffon chase like that... A-Ah was tryin' to stall fer a chance to look fer somepony else..."
"Somepony else?" the filly asked. "Who?"
He gulped, before looking back up at her. "Ah was lookin' fer mah Cousin JayJay."
She narrowed an eyebrow as she looked up to the ceiling in thought. "Cousin JayJay... y' shore y' don't mean Cousin Johnee Red Johnathan? Don't he live over in Appleloosa?"
"Nope. Cousin JayJay's a girl... an' Ah know she lives right here in Ponyville. Ah came a long way to see her... just to be with her..." He dipped his snout back towards the ground. "She means... th' whole WORLD to me..."
"She does?" Applebloom asked, tilted her head to the side to get a better look at his face. "Who is she then? Who's Cousin JayJay?"
He opened his mouth to answer, but the answer came from elsewhere. It started with the loud creak of the front door being swung open, followed by the drawl of an older farmfilly as she announced.
"Ah'm HOME everypony!"