Assumptions X: I Guess You’ve Always Known
ANNOUNCEMENT: Even though canon Caramel was revealed not only to be desirable, but also to have a girlfriend, I will finish this story. I’ll pretend those few seconds never happened. And after Assumptions are done, I promise not to ship Caramel ever again.
“Are ya sure this is a good idea?” Apple Bloom asked her unicorn friend for the umpteenth time.
“You heard Miss Cheerilee. She hasn’t got a special somepony, and we all agree that it simply isn’t right for a mare like her not to have anyone to share this special day with.” Sweetie Belle explained .
The orange crusader by her side nodded eagerly, her tiny wings fluttering from excitement. “Besides, you said Big Mac needed cheering up as well.”
“Ah did… didn’t Ah?” Apple Bloom replied, bowing her head. I just thought we’d make him a big heart like we did Miss Cheerliee. She looked around the town square full of happy couples holding hooves and nuzzling. Only their teacher trotted idly by them, nopony by her side.
“Good afternoon fillies,” she greeted them, smiling from ear to ear.
“Good afternoon Miss Cheerilee” the three fillies returned her smile, only brighter and worryingly mischievous.
She’s real nice. Apple Bloom though as the crusaders watched their teacher trot back to school. What can possibly go wrong?
Caramel observed himself in the mirror. He was wearing the bow tie that Rainbow Dash gave him, and has again groomed himself to the nines. He smiled nervously, and approached the mirror, tilting his head to the side and licking his teeth.
“What are you doing, trying to kiss yourself?” a familiar, mocking voice spoke behind him.
Caramel turned around to see his cyan friend hovering inches above the ground, a playful little smile playing across her face.
“N-no!” he snapped back. “I’m just… do I have something stuck in my teeth?” He turned around, his muzzle leaning very closely to the mare’s.
“Your teeth are fine!” she stammered and turned around as heat rose to her face, painting it pink. “Now go before I have to drag you there myself!”
“A-Are you sure it’s okay?” he asked and put his hoof on her shoulder.
She shifted nervously and shook him off. “Yes, for Celestia’s sake!” she shouted desperately, as Caramel finally turned to leave.
Rainbow Dash sat in the middle of his room for a while, defiant, as the shuffling of hooves and finally a slamming of the door could be heard from the kitchen. She sniffled as her face twisted itself in anguish. Just let it be over.
A single beam of setting sun penetrated the large barn through a crack of the open door. Inside, an orange mare stood perfectly upright, awaiting the arrival of the one who summoned her. A knock on the door suddenly interrupted her thoughts. Slowly, the heavy wooden door opened with high-pitched creak, letting in more sunlight, illuminating her luxurious blonde mane. Against the last luminous rays of light, a slight, dark figure of an earth-pony emerged, slowly pacing towards the mare.
“C-Caramel?” the mare asked, surprised.
“Yes,” he answered resolutely,, his determined gaze piercing Applejack, “I need to talk to you about something…”
“Ah was afraid ya would, sugarcube,”she sighed. I hate doing this. “But hear me out first, please.”
The stallion was not expecting this and his practiced posture broke down. Once again, he was slouching, his eyes nervously flitting from one place to another. “B-but, this is serious. Applejack, I …”
“Please, Caramel. Don’t make this harder than it already is.” She looked at him, her eyes watery sparkling orbs, “Big Mac told me what ya said that night y’all went to order straw.”
“That’s not what I… I mean, I’m here to tell you that I-” he managed to stammer before the mare interrupted him again.
“Caramel, have ya ever wondered why ‘bout sea ponies?” she asked sincerely.
“W-What? What does that have to do with anything?,” he asked, bewildered.
“Well, ya see,” she continued, “sea ponies are not just an old mare’s tale. There are plenty ponies out there that see them. They are most definitely real. Why, mah Marestralian cousin Grenade Apple that sees ‘em every day when she goes divin’ in them reefs,” she continued as tears began forming in her eyes. “But you see, despite there bein’ actual seaponies, and mah friends havin’ seen them, Ah’ve never ever saw or felt the need to see one mahself.”
Caramel looked at her in disbelief, his eyebrows raised, his jaw fallen. What is she going on about? I’m talking about love, not sea ponies…
“Now some ponies might find it a mite strange that a mare like me has never seen a sea pony, an’ there was a time when ah felt that bein’ like this was a bad thing. But then Ah remembered that no matter what, Ah still had mah friends, mah family and mah farm. Ah should not want something just because ponies think Ah should…” tears were streaming down Applejack’s face. She gritted her teeth and gave a wide, defiant smile. “Yer a good pony, Caramel, an’ Ah know there’s good mare out there for ya. But Ah just can’t be her. Ah can never be nopony’s mare,” she gave a quiet sob, “But ah’ll always be there for my friends, Ah’ll be there for ya, just as ya were for Apple Bloom and Big Macintosh.”
Caramel just stared blankly, the only sound his own heartbeat, as Applejack wiped tears from her eyes and took a deep breath.
“Ah’m sorry Ah’m such a mess. Ah hate bein’ the bearer of bad news, especially to good friends. Ah hope ya can accept this situation.”
“Applejack…” Caramel suddenly froze up. What should I say now? “I had no idea. I’m sorry…” he looked away and turned to leave.
“There’s nothin’ to be sorry ‘bout, sugarcube.” She trotted towards him. “Come ‘ere.” Extending her hooves, Appejack embraced the startled stallion “It’ll all be good. Don’t worry.”
Caramel froze up as the orange mare pressed herself against him. A million unexplained impulses raced through his brain, his chest collapsing onto itself as a tiny vacuum had temporarily replaced his heart, a strange suffocating sensation taking a hold of his being. But as Applejack’s warmth enveloped him, and a trail of tears fell onto his shoulders, he regained control of his body. He closed his hooves around her, stroking her flaxen hair.
“Thank you, Applejack,” he whispered softly into her ear as he continued patting her back.
As they tore apart, Applejack once again surveyed her friends with a huge grin, her eyes bright and happy, despite the recent veil of tears.
“Well, I guess I’ll see you around, or something…” Caramel muttered and slowly took off, not turning around to look back, his eyes focused on the ground.
Applejack looked at the retreating stallion, wiping tears from her eyes. At least now he won’t be pining pointlessly. She sighed and turned around to leave as well. Suddenly, another thin beam of light shot down into the cavernous space, originating from the thatched roof above. Applejacks crooked grin was now reduced into a gentle smile and her tears stopped flowing. Oh Rainbow Dash, she thought to herself, I wondered whether you’d show up.
Above, seated atop the barn’s roof, Rainbow Dash withdrew from the tiny hole she had used on numerous occasions to spy on the Apples (especially close to cider season - not that that ever did her any good). She wanted to smile, but found herself physically unable to. Instead, warm tears started trickling down her cheeks, matting her coat. She looked down at her hooves, which seemed to move in slow-motion. Her wing, neatly folded, would not unfold. Standing there, the only movement was her silky mane being whipped up against her face by the chilly February wind. I wanted this, didn’t I? Applejack was right, though. It will be all right, eventually…
The pink-maned pegasus trotted down the main street in Ponyville. While on any other day, her elegant, delicate figure would draw at least a few longing glances from the town’s stallions, an on some occasions even mares (though these glances were sometimes of the jealous variety as well), Hearts and Hooves Day seemed to be one of those exceptional days when the citizens of Ponyville only had eyes for their special somepony. But this wasn't new to her and actually worked in her advantage, as she tried to keep her private Hearts and Hooves ritual a secret.
She passed another set of giggling couples, seated outside and sharing an oversized, pink mug filled to the brim with hot cocoa, just as easily as she passed the rustling hedges on the way by the park. Had she not been so absorbed in her own thoughts, she would have heard a few more high-pitched squeals and the seen freshly fallen snow falling off of the dense foliage bordering the road to Sugarcube Corner.
I wonder if they'll have ice cream this year. Maybe I’ll just get that rich chocolate gateau as I always do. I don’t need to worry about my figure anymore anyway. With her thought fixed firmly on her future feast, she entered the bakery, barely noticing ‘one of those couples’ seated in the far corner, now apparently nibbling on a single cherry. Urgh. She barely noticed that she had made it to the counter, when her thoughts were interrupted by a plump blue mare.
“What can I get for you, dear?” the shop’s proprietor enquired, while throwing an nervous side glance at the couple seated in the corner.
“Uhm, nothing special. M-maybe just… a large chocolate cake,” Fluttershy whispered, turning her head to make sure nopony but the baker had heard her order.
“Well, I’m afraid we’re all out of heart-shaped ones,” the baker said apologetically. “Would a normal round one be all right?”
“No… I mean, I don’t need a heart-shaped one, actually,” the timid pegasus sighed sadly “the round one would be perfect, as always, thank you.”
“All right sweetie, I’ll just get one from the back,” she turned around and trotted to the kitchen.
Fluttershy exhaled deeply and took turned her head around. For the first time, she noticed the explosion of bright-pink streamers and hearts that seemed to have invade every last square inch of the small space. She was the only customer, save for two ponies, who only had eyes for each other. Both of them looked very familiar, though their mannerisms and contorted poses looked almost as unnatural as the snippets of conversation that managed to carry themselves to her Fluttershy’s ears.
“… my lovey-dovey silly-smoochy honey-bunny” a perfectly polished female voice said.
That sounds like Cheerilee, the pegasus mused as she furrowed her brow and bit her lower lip. But of course, she’d never say something that silly.
“… yer mah schwoopie-doopy sweety-weety pony pie,” a low, drawling voice grumbled.
This is just beyond silly. The pegasus mare took a few steps forward and closed in on the couple. Seated on two chairs, opposite each other, their flanks raised high up in the air, with a large empty milkshake glass were Cheerilee and Big Macintosh.
Fluttershy felt as if all air had suddenly left her lungs, leaving her gasping for more, but physically unable to take a meaningfully deep breaths. No - not you too Cheerilee. She heard a faint noise and turned around to see the tip of Mrs. Cake’s hair, the rest of her being obscured by a large chocolate cake she held in her hooves.
“Are you all right, sweetie?” the baker asked, after putting the cake onto the counter, a small tremor quaking the immediate are of the counter.
“Y-yes…” Fluttershy managed to wheeze. “Thanks for the cake.” She threw a couple of bits in the general direction of the counter, completely missing the marks. Proceeding to stuff the cake into her saddlebags and reducing it to a pitiful brown mush, she galloped out, leaving the proprietor with a puzzled look on her face.
“Oh my,” Mrs. Cake muttered to herself, “I hope she’ll be fine.” She then turned her head to face her customers and gagged a little bit. “This holiday…”
As the had already began its downward journey, Rarity looked around her shop. A large number of wedding dresses have been strewn across the floor, and broken pieces of furniture blocked pathway into one of the cabins. She sighed and shook her head, her silent magic levitating the clothes into their rightful place on the shelves, the broken pieces of furniture being swept into the corner.
She surveyed her shop again. Well, it’s as good as it will get, considering… She levitated the cleaning equipment into her cupboard and trotted towards the entrance, trying to close what was left of it after Cheerilee’s had her way through it. Unexpectedly, something small and light bounced off her mane, landing on her doormat. I hope to Celestia it’s the last piece of this debris!
She zoomed in on the small object in fierce concentration. It was no larger than a hoof and had a smooth light-pink surface, dotted with dark pink sprinkles. An enticing aroma of strawberries reached the dressmaker’s nostrils. “A-a cupcake?”
“Oh hi Rarity!” a frizzy mane, along with the rest of Ponyville’s party mare suddenly materialized from thin air.
“Good afternoon, Pinkie Pie” the unicorn responded nervously. “What can I do for you?”
“Well, I was just wondering what you’re planning on doing today?” The pink mare nodded her head enthusiastically, her voluminous coiffure bouncing to extravagant heights.
Besides drinking copious amounts of red wine? “Well, I was actually going to take some time off…” Her blue eyes darted across the room, “from cleaning.”
“Because I was wondering, whether you’d maybe like to bake cupcakes with me. We could make plain cupcakes with blueberry topping and strawberry cupcakes with strawberry topping and put them next to each other, also, I kind of liked that thing you did on the pushcart in the desert, so if you still feel that way maybe we could do that again some….”
The pink pony was once again silenced by her marshmallow unicorn friend, as their lips met for the second time. Pinkie closed her eyes and lost herself in the moment. When Rarity finally withdrew, she just opened her eyes and panted silently, staring at the seamstress.
“Kitchen, now!” Rarity turned around and trotted inside. “Come on, we haven’t got all day,” she called to her friend as she whipped her tail seductively.
Pinkie Pie blinked a few times, and took a small, uncertain step inside. Stepping over the threshold, a feeling of million butterflies, released from her stomach, floating silently to every part of her body, tickled her sense, sending a large happy grin to her face. Yay!
Fluttershy woke up to a loud knocking on her cottage door. She shook her messy mane and looked around. Her hooves were covered in chocolate, though they rested neatly folded on her bloated belly. She tried to shift her head and a jolt of pain shot through her neck. She tried turning around, but simply managed to fall down onto the floor from her old love-seat.
“Coming!” she shouted as she tumbled forward, nearly tripping over her chocolate-covered saddlebags, which were strewn over the floor haphazardly.
She hurried towards the door and swung it open. Through her morning haze, she could make out a dark violet pony with light violet mane, brushed neatly, the visitor’s large green eyes wide open, unblinking, probably staring at the sight of the usually elegant pegasus in the state of complete mess.
“Good morning, Fluttershy,” Cheerilee said brightly and smiled, her perfect enunciation irking the pegaus. “I just thought I’d drop by before school starts, but I think I’ll come back later.”
“Fluttershy surveyed herself again, and after a few seconds, her eyes went wide. “Oh sorry, I must look like such a mess, but I’m fine, don’t worry about me. I’ve just had a small snack before going to sleep yesterday.”
Cheerilee raised an eyebrow as she spotted the large chocolate-covered platter lying in the middle of of Fluttershy's bedroom. “Well, I guess… It’s just I need something for Mickey, you know, my pet mouse. Do you still have that cream from last time. It seems his tail got caught in a trap, and it just doesn’t seem to heal well.”
“Oh, sure…” Fluttershy paused for a while trying to remember. “Please wait here while I get it for you…”
Cheerilee nodded as Fluttershy ran off into the kitchen. The violet pony peered inside through the open door, observing the state of the room. The yellow pegasus came rushing from inside, carrying a tube of the ointment in her mouth. She passed in onto Cheerilee, who deposited the item carefully inside her bag.
“Rough night yesterday?” Cheerilee motioned at the mess in the living room.
“Not really, I was just feeling a bit under the weather, so I didn’t bother cleaning up.”
“Well I hope you’re feeling better than I do. My whole body's killing me after last night” Cheerilee said.
Fluttershy’s ears suddenly stood up. "Oh Cheerilee! I'm so sorry. I saw you at the shop yesterday, and I should have warned you... Ooh, this is all my fault..." she started shaking her head.
"Excuse me?" Cheerilee looked at the distressed pegasus who was now banging her door against the solid oak doorway.
"I should have warned you against Big Macintosh the moment I saw you two in the Sugarcube Corner, of course. Now you'll just get your heart broken as countless others." she leaned in and embraced her friend, stroking the back of her head gently. "Don't worry, I'll be there for you if you need me"
Cheerilee just stood there, unmoving. "What are you talking about?"
"You and Big Macintosh, of course. I know he seems like a good stallion, but he'll never be satisfied with just one mare. He's always messing around with other fillies. Why, this winter I caught him fooling around with Twilight Sparkle in the library in the broad daylight. A-and then, when his sister invited all of her friends over, he had his way with Rainbow Dash in the kitchen."
"Fluttershy, are we sure we are talking about the same Big Macintosh?" Cheerilee probed, a nervous, worried smile stretching across her lips.
"Yes. Why, one night, he tried to break in to my cottage. He's come for a book, but of course, he probably wanted much more. He can never make a good mare like you happy. Let him go, before you get hurt." Fluttershy hugged the schoolteacher and began sobbing quietly.
"Fluttershy" Cheerilee protested. and pushed the pegasus away. "What you saw yesterday was the two of us tripping on some Love poison..."
"Love poison?" the pegasus sniffled and wiped tears off her cheeks.
“Yes. Can you believe it? Big Macintosh's little sister and her two best friends thought that Big Macintosh and I should be each other’s special someponies, because we were both alone.So they secretly served us some quite strong Love Poison. It was quite embarrassing when we both sobered up, but nothing dramatic actually happened” She finished and beamed at the pegasus.
“Oh, I didn't know.” Fluttershy spoke quietly, he matted mane once again swinging across her face. "B-but just be careful around him."
Cheerilee looked at the pegasus. "Listen Flutterhy, I don't know what you've heard or seen, but Big Macintosh is actually not like that. Did you know he attends every parent-teacher conference for Apple Bloom. It's really one of the few times that he ever goes to town. He prefers not to anyway, because whenever he goes, ponies stare," the violet mare finished.
"How-how would you know?" Fluttershy asked, taking a step back from Cheerilee.
"After the Poison stopped working, we felt it was best to have a talk, not to leave things hanging between us, and affirm our mutual friendship." The mare was quite forceful now. " I am sorry, but if you can't bring yourself to face him, you'll never know the truth about him."
Fluttershy blinked and hung her head in shame. “Thank you Cheerilee, ooh.. I simply must clean this mess, and then take a shower. And give my regards to Mickey.” The pegasus simply closed the door behind her.
The schoolteacher walked on to work quite agitated at the thoughts of the quirky veterinarian, but these were quickly being replaced by those of yesterday. It might be nice to have a special somepony… someday.
The sun had already risen above Ponyville when Rainbow Dash pressed her face against the glass, trying to get a better look into Caramel’s room. Her eyes darted from one corner of the room to the next. Sure, the bow-tie had been thrown unceremoniously onto the floor, and the stallion seemed to be huddled into a tight ball underneath his blanket, but the room was tidy as ever. Rainbow Dash paused for a while, thinking about the mess she’s made when she was rejected the last time. He’s far too uptight…
Looking up at the sun, she decided that the hour had come and knocked on the window. The glass panes rattled within the wooden frame, making enough noise for passers-by to look up at the source of the racket. The pegasus just shrugged in an unapologetic gesture and banged on the window once again. She began giggling as the stallion suddenly shot up and, running towards the window, tripped on the blanket which was still wrapped around his limbs.
“Morning,” he said as he opened the window, his monotone voice stopping Rainbow Dash’s laughter.
“Hi. I guess it didn’t go well?” she asked cautiously.
“Well, I’ve been barking up the wrong tree all this time. At least she didn’t let me embarrass myself by letting me say it...” Caramel sighed, and once again turned his gaze towards the ground.
The mare flew inside and sat down by his side. She took her hooves and pressed his head to her shoulder, her hoof now running down his mane onto his cheek. “There, there. It’s going to be all right.”
“I know. I Don’t really know what to expect. But I thought this whole thing would be a bit more… you know… tragic. It’s still sad, but it’s not like my heart was broken. I still feel it… you know?” He looked into her large magenta eyes as she smiled back at him.
“Well, maybe…”Rainbow Dash felt heat rising to her face as she closed in on Caramel, “she wasn’t the one… maybe you’re meant to be with somepony else,” she whispered into his ear.
“You think?” he looked up at her again, his brows furrowed, his mind whirring. Somepony else? “Maybe with time, yeah…”
“Caramel?” Rainbow Dash asked, her hoof still stroking Caramel’s cheek. “How would you…” she turned to face him. “How would you like to…”
The stallion instinctively started closing the distance between them. “Yes?”
“How would you…” she blushed and took a deep breath, “like to come see the Wonderbolts show with me after Winter Wrap-Up?” She smiled at him.
His body looked as though it had been petrified, his mouth half opened, his front hoof mid-air. It took him a few second to blink. “What?”
“Well, you remember that ticket you gave me? I actually have a season pass, so I’d have gone anyway, but you just looked so sad, so I didn’t want to pile it up by saying your gift is essentially useless to me…” She gave an apologetic smile and scratched her head.
“Oh”… he muttered and slumped against her. “I really can’t do anything right, can I?”
“Nah, I think it’s really cute when you try. Now come on, let’s fix up some breakfast or I’ll be late for work.”
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea, you and cooking,” he raised his hoof in a feeble act of protest. “Also, how will I get to Cloudsdale?”
“I’ve picked up a few tricks from you. As for flying… there’s a pony for that!” the pegasus shouted as she hovered into the kitchen, humming a joyous tune.
Caramel followed, not wholly convinced either plan was a good idea. Upon stepping over the threshold of his room, he stopped dead in his tracks. Did she just say I’m cute?
“B-Big Macintosh!” the yellow pegasus shouted over apple tree tops, although to the retreating red stallion this sounded more like a whisper.
“Eeyup,” he turned around, acknowledging the mare, but focused his gaze onto the red farmhouse in the distance. The delicate mare landed opposite him, his expansive shadow covering her body, sending shivers down her spine.
“I would just like to apologize for the way I treated you when you came for the book. A-and also before that. And... well, I-I talked to Cheerilee and I think it is wonderful that you two have become such good friends. I also heard about the Lo-love Poison,” she added, the volume of her voice dropping dramatically with those last words. “I’m so glad you’re…, I mean, b-both of you are fine. She also told me some other things about you. Things, things I didn't know before”
“Eeyup.” the stallion nodded, and sat down, his face coming down to Fluttershy’s level. "Miss Shy. Ah don't know why we've never talked before, but ya always seemed to avoid me. Ah always thought ya preferred bein' alone, not wasting her time on us simple ponies,"
“Oh no... Please forgive me. I've just listened to others and not to myself. And I guess that-that… as much as I definitely enjoy solitude, I wouldn’t mind, perhaps, spending a little time with you… sometimes. That is, if you and Cheerilee wouldn’t mind either. I'm so sorry” she finished and lowered her head, her pink mane falling across her face, obscuring the deep shade of red that had taken place of her usual pale complexion.
The stallion sighed and shook his head. Well, at least we can start with a clean slate.“Deal,”he growled and smiled gently.
“R-really? T-thank you.” She beamed, but immediately hid her face behind her pink mane again. “I am really sorry about earlier. I hope I can make it up to you somehow… Well, if you need anything, you know where to find me.”
The pegasus threw her hair back and craned her neck, her sparkling teal eyes now reflecting in Macintosh’s murky emerald ones. Her lips curved into a smile as she slowly turned around, prancing quickly from the hilly orchard, uncharacteristically taking to the skies and performing graceful loops in the air as the thoughtful stallion watched from the ground with a sheepish grin plastered across his face.