And so everyone traded off.
This worried not only you, but also Discord. Enough that he temporarily pulled both you and Chrysalis aside for a "fatherly chat with his children"
Through that, Chrysalis made it clear she'd be on her best behaviour. In fact, by the end of the chat, you all voiced to each other that you all wanted it to be over. This whole thing was like a weight that was preventing everyone from doing what they wanted to do.
And so, with that being said. You went off with a rather nervous looking Filthy as he walked with you on the street towards Sweet Apple Acres while Spoiled took Chrysalis to god knows where.
You didn't say anything to him, you just focused on looking forward, trying to figure out what was the matter with him without looking judgemental.
Until finally, he looked down at you and spoke "Anon, ah know I'm supposed to be fatherin' you right now, but I've been bouncin' a question about in my noggin' and I was hoping you could answer it for me"
A question? It probably had to do with his nervousness. In fact, it made you think back to the sleepover. Was he still bothered by those thoughts? C'mon, you weren't going to get Diamond filly pregnant or whatever. "Sure, what is it?"
"Well, normally any colt or filly answerin' this question would probably say an outlandish thing or two. But ya seem like a smart colt who knows what he wants and...well..." He hesitated as he looked the other way for a moment "Say you do get married to my little princess, ya haven't got any longterm plans, do ya? I know, I know, ya probably haven't thought about it. But if ya have, well, you wouldn't mind lettin' me know, right?"
And then it became clear. He was afraid of what would happen if you did get married to Diamond. Maybe he thought it'd be a life full of chaos and adventure and all sorts of crazy shit. But really? After dealing with another universe, Chrysalis, Chimeras, and Princess shittery. Nah, you'd like to have a nice calm life. "Well Mr.Rich, I'd just like to live a relaxing life. Maybe have a couple of kids. Maybe one thats like me and super smart, and a cute little well behaved daughter of my own. I know I've got this chaos cutie mark and all. But really? If I was an adult? I'd just want to relax. For the most part anyway...But maybe..."
Maybe, if you did become a Rich, you could use your earthly knowledge to be a part of the business. Introducing the board game Monopoly would be amazing! "Maybe I could be a part of the business. You know, learn it and work with it and...stuff? I dunno, it sounds neat to me, even if some of it is boring."
Filthy Rich stopped, he was deeply thinking on what you were saying as he didn't expect such a mature answer. "Really now? Didn't think you had an interest in the orderly stylings of big business"
You shrugged "Well, if I'm also going to be your son in the future, then I want to do something to help. Does that sound weird? I dunno, if it does, I'm sorry. I mean it though." You did. Hell, at this point, there was a part of you that felt befriending Chrysalis at all was a bad idea. Everything surrounding her was stressful as fuck, you really could use a few years or more of R&R.
Again, Filthy pondered on it.
and as he did, he first began to smile, then he let out a hearty laugh. "haha! Well now, don't that beat all. In all my years, ah never met a colt with such a realistic view on his future. Anypony else would have mentioned being a superhero, a ruler of the world, or other nonsense like that. But you, Anon? Ya got your priorities straight. And here I was thinkin' them second thoughts. Should have known that the hero colt always has a surprise or two hidden somewhere. Well, if that's what ya want, Anon. Then boy, do ah got a treat for you"
Ha, wow, that's all it took, you had his full approval to marry his daughter, that was easy. Then again, if you had a daughter and some freaky chaos guy showed up to whisk her away somewhere, you'd pound him into dust and...wait..
You were some freaky chaos guy.
Well, you wouldn't call yourself freaky. More like...gentlemanly. That's it, gentlemanly.
So whoever would whisk your daughter away would have to be gentlemanly. Or else they get to have a date with ye olde bat.
"Anon?" Filthy looked at you, wondering if you heard that last part.
"H-huh? Oh, umm. Sorry, blanked out." you chuckle nervously "Was thinking about how classes just kinda came and went."
"It did, didn't it? But that's only because, as Mrs.Muffin Top said, we are a well adjusted town with well adjusted ponies such as ourselves. But ahrm, I was wondering if you wanted to help with my business. It's nothing too big, just a supply run. Ya mentioned you wanted to be part of the family business, and well, if you're serious, then this would be a good start."
A supply run? Well, considering where you noticed you were heading, it seemed to be business with the Apples. But, wait, was it zap apple jam type of business? "Sure, I'd love to. So, what are we picking up?"
Filthy grinned at your answer as his steps and speech became more enthusiastic. "an important item for the Barnyard Bargains right here in Equestria. The Apple family's sweet apple cider. Been low on stock for a couple of days and been needing to resupply. Sounds boring, ah know, but it's actually very important it gets done. the apple cider from Sweet Apple Acres is the best cider this side of Equestria and one of our biggest sellers. Havin' none to sell ain't good for business. So, that being said, ya still want to help?"
That didn't sound too bad at all. Hell, it'd definitely get you brownie points with Mr.Rich. And the best part? It'd be NORMAL. NORMAL and SAFE. For once, you could relax with a level headed guy and not worry about shit. "Mr. Rich, I'd be honored to help."
A tear appeared on Filthy's eye as he quickly wiped it. He was touched to see a colt with such work ethic. His, most possibly, future son. "Right, well, let's a mosey then. I want to be as early as possible to help load the barrels."
"You actually load the barrels yourself, Mr.Rich?"
"Sometimes, Anon. See, I gotta stay fit for them long and arduous type business trips. So sometimes I come early to help load the cart. It's not an everyday thing, of course, but I don't want to end up fat or flabby like some of my competitors. Now, it's no ill will towards them, but ah don't want to be the type of pony who takes a couple of moons reaching over for a quill." Filthy Rich says with a little bit of a cocky smirk as he finishes his sentence.
That was actually pretty funny. You didn't figure he would joke at the expense of others. It wasn't anything too harsh, but funny nonetheless. "Heh, that's kind of funny, Mr.Rich. I guess with you staying in shape, you really know how to hold that big business on your shoulders, huh?" you grin as you give him a nudge.
But he didn't even crack a smile at that. "Now I don't want to be a downer, Anon. But that was right terrible. You may want to work on your jokes a little bit or you'll be doing more than just breaking the ice. You're friends with Pinkie Pie, aren'tcha? She should be able to help."
Oh man, that was a real downer. You thought you could impress Filthy with a good joke. But it bombed.
It wasn't that bad was it? You thought it was pretty good. "Erm, yeah. Erm...I'll work on it."
When you both arrive at the farm and approach the barn, you could already see Applejack and Big Mac beginning to bring out the barrels of cider.
And it made you think. "Mr.Rich, do you come get the barrels everytime? What about when you're on business trips?"
"Well, I usually try to schedule my trips in a way that'd I'd be back to make a pick up before it'd become too late. But if I am kickin' the can a little too long then I usually have a butler on standby to make the pick up. Randolph is putting on years. But by Celestia herself, he's the spriest we got."
So, he always does thing physically. That made you wonder. "So, let me ask. You never have any unicorn butlers make a pick up?"
"Hrn.." He didn’t seem to keen on that question "You're implyin' if any pick up is done with magic, ain'tcha?"
"Well, not exactly. I was just thinking, wouldn't it be easier and more efficient to have this kind of stuff done by magic? I'm just thinking like a businesspony would and I think it'd help with the profits, right?"
"Hrm....You're right, Anon, it would. But take a gander over there, tell me what you see" He points over to Applejack and Big Mac, they were a small ways a ways and were busy getting the barrels out.
"Applejack and Big Mac bringing out barrels?"
"Mhmm, good. Now, ya don't see them using magic, do ou?"
Where...was he going with this? "No.."
"Exactly. Sweet Apple Acres would see a large increase in profit if they had a unicorn to use powerful magic to help with the work. But they don't. They put their own hard work and sweat into it and they get by just fine just through that. It's tradition, it's family values, it's the satisfaction of doing the hard work yourself. And that's how the Rich family has been doin' it since the inception of Barnyard Bargains. We always did it by hoof, no matter what." Filthy looked towards the pair of farm ponies with a sense of deep respect.
He then turned to you, and put his hoof gently on your shoulder. "That's why, if yer gonna be a Rich, ya have to promise me to not use that horn doohicky if you're ever going to take over the family business. Not even once, Mr.Anon. It may seem like a bunch of hooey, but without tradition, everything falls apart. So...please, promise me. I trust your word, so don't even worry. But ya have to mean it. Don't make this promise if ya can't keep it"
The look in his eyes were strong...and almost scary,
It felt like you were making a promise with god himself. A promise so sacred that there'd be no coming back if you broke it.
And thinking about it, how hard could it be? You were an Earth Pony yourself. They seem pretty tough. If he brought you here then that meant you were more than ready for some physical labor.
And he's been worried so much about the future of his daughter. You felt for him. So...yeah, you could do this. "I Promise, Dad!" You saluted him
And it made him tear up "Oh, c'mon, Anon. Don't do that. Stallions aren't supposed to cry"
You then hugged him. You felt he needed the reinforcement.
You could feel his foreleg slowly wrap around you. "T-that'll do, Anon...T-that'll do" He gives you a gentle hug and pulls away slowly before patting you on the head. He then sucks up his tears through his own eyes. "N-now, l-let's not dilly dally or we won't get to load them barrels."
Heh, you were kind of getting into this. You marched along next to him until you came into Applejack's and Big Mac's view.
Applejack stopped and laid up a barrel when she saw Mr.Rich walk towards the barn. "Well Well, if it ain't Filthy Rich. Here for another early run?" Applejack says as she wipes the sweat from her brow
"'Course, can't let you two have all the fun, now can I?" Filthy Rich says with his lighthearted smile.
"Shoot, ya know we don't mind loading up the cart. Oh, by the way. Big Mac, ya don't mind getting that other cart out, do ya?"
"E'Nope!" Big Mac says as he walks off to get an empty cart and bring it over.
"Well, Applejack, ya know it's always appreciated. But loading the cart up is the best exercise a pony like me can get." Filthy Rich said as he stretched a his legs.
"Well ain't that the truth. Well, if that's what ya...hrn?" And that's when Applejack noticed you "Well now, if it ain't Anon. Didn't expect to see you...wait" Now she was confused "Why is he with you, Mr.Rich? Ain't he supposed to be in that class thing Twilight signed him and Discord up for? What's he doin' with you?"
"Well, by coincidence, I signed my family up for the same class, and wouldn't you know it? Everypony turned out to be the best parents the instructor has ever had. Don't that beat all? Right now, we're doing a bit of a foal exchange and Anon is my son for the rest of the day. I think. I don't know how long it's supposed to be but at this point I don't mind if it's the whole day." Filthy answers. Feeling pride that the classes went well.
"Everypony? Really?" Applejack was skeptical "Even Discord?"
"Hey!" You chime in. You didn't know what it was. But you resented the way she expressed that. "I know dad causes problems sometimes. But he's still my dad. And he's great. He never treats me bad or anything. And.." You clutch your horn. You knew Discord cared. He was one of your best buddies. And this horn? Well, who else would be willing to trust you with so much power but him? "I love him."
"Well, Anon, ah didn't mean it like that. Ah just..." Applejack was at a loss. She didn't mean to upset you. She sometimes forgot that he even was a father as she barely sees you or him these days. She sighs, and leans her head down "Sorry, Anon, that weren't right of me at all"
Damn fucking straight.
But you just give her a hug. Didn't want to be an asshole in front of Mr.Rich and all. And it wasn't anything personal to Applejack either. It's just that Discord didn't deserve that unless he was indeed being a gigantic shithead. "It's ok, Applejack. I know you didn't mean it. But yeah, I'm here to help load the cart with Mr.Rich. All without magic!" You look back at him with a wink.
"Oh..erm" Applejack started to sweat from those words as she looked to Mr.Rich. It was like she was trying not to say anything that was offensive again. "Well now. Mr.Rich, ahm. Well? Are ya sure you want Anon helping you out?" She was remembering from when you fought Big Mac and how weak you were against him "He may be pretty spry, but he's about as strong as a..." She was thinking of a saying that made you out to not be as weak as she thought you were, but also actually got her point across "As a worm breakin' out of a barn made of steel"
Hey, a worm breaking out of a barn made of steel sounded tough. Good to see Applejack thought highly of you.
But Mr.Rich rubbed the underside of his chin, confused. "Er, as far as sayings go. I don't think a worm could ever actually do that"
....was she saying you couldn't do it?
Just as you realized this, Big Mac came out with a cart and lowered a ramp for the barrels to be pushed up onto.
You gave Applejack a mean look. "Weak as a worm huh? I'll show you!"
Applejack cringed as she tried to once again apologize "C'mon, Anon. Ahm sorry. It's just that…. Ahh shoot, Anon. C'mon, yer not gonna get a barrel up there"
"Applejack! How could you say such a heartless thing. There ain't nopony who's that weak, especially a foal his age. Even if he is a little smaller than most, big things come in small packages." Mr.Rich said in your defense as you walked over to a barrel.
"Mr.Rich, ah know big things can come in small packages but..." Applejack looked over at you and cringed as you tried to tip the barrel to its side.
"C'mon! C'mon!" You tried biting at it, slamming into it, even bashing your head at it. It wouldn't budge. "Stupid barrel, probably overfilled or something..."
Now you were getting angry. But no matter what, it'd just slightly bobble. It was taunting you.
Applejack just silently pointed at you as she looked at Mr.Rich.
And Mr.Rich himself? He began to sweat and smile sheepishly at your terrible attempts. "A-ahrm, well. Maybe Anon is just a little tired is all"
But Applejack continued to point at you, giving a harder stare at Mr.Rich.
You were ramming the barrel at this point. And it still wouldn't budge.
Mr.Rich sighed. He didn't realize you were so weak. But he didn't want to fully give in just yet. So he put on a smile and walked past Applejack as he put his hoof on the barrel and put it on it's side. "There ya go, Anon, this one's just brimming with cider so ah can understand why it's a little tough. So how about you get it up the ramp while I go work the barrels right there."
Dammit. He didn't have to go and do that. You almost had it.
...But whatever..fine. As long as you could show that you could get the barrel up there, you could prove you were strong.
You mustered up all your strength and started shoulder pushing the barrel. Getting all four of your hooves automated to just go forward. And at first, tt was working. The barrel was moving forward.
"There, you see? ah knew Anon could do it" Mr.Rich said as he watched you successfully roll the barrel up the ramp
But Applejack just looked on. unconvinced. "Ah'm not so sure..."
And right when you were about to get the barrel up the top of the ramp and into the cart… "...A-Agh..." Your legs began to shake. the momentum you had was gone and the barrel began to slowly roll backwards. "N-ngh..C'mon..C'MOOOOOHHHHHH!" The barrel rolled back and took you with it as you got rolled onto three times before it left you on the ground.
Everyone cringed hard at that.
Big Mac went to recover and load the barrel as Applejack and Mr.Rich went to check if you were ok.
You were on your back. Looking straight up, in pain."D-did I do it?"
Filthy couldn't hold it back anymore. As a magic user, you were probably top notch. But an earth pony who couldn't load a barrel? You were going to seriously need to toughen up. "Well, Anon, the important thing is ya did your best and nopony can take that away from you." Filthy said as a way to lessen the blow.
But in your stupor, you took that as a win as you pointed at Applejack with a cocky smirk "See, I told you I can do it! And...urrrrrmmm" your eyes nearly rolled into the back of your head as you felt dizzy. "And uhhmm...C-can I get some Applejuice? Please? I feel weird."
"U-hrm. S-sure, Anon, whatever ya say. Mr.Rich, would ya like a glass?" Applejack felt really bad for you. She had never seen an earth pony fail that badly at something, especially since Applebloom could do barrel pushing no problem. She was even thinking it was probably for the best you and her never worked out.
"Y-yes, I'll take a glass. Ah'll...just watch Anon til ya get back" Filthy was a little worried. He thought you might even have to go to the hospital. And he felt terrible for that even being a possibility.
But this injury? Aside from the stupor, you've done a lot worse. Still...you were achy.
After drinking your apple juice, you were taken aside so Filthy,Applejack, and Big Mac could fill the cart with the barrels of cider.
You felt better now, physically.
Mentally however? You were fucked.
How could you screw up something as easy as moving a barrel?
As you looked on, seeing the ponies work, you wondered what they thought.
An Earth Pony who couldn't move a simple barrel of cider?
....dammit. It was humiliating. You actually felt humiliated that you couldn't do something that even Applebloom could do.
"Whatcha doin' Anon?"
maybe the barrel was overfilled? Hell, you were kind of small. An overly filled barrel could have been too much for you.
Maybe if you got back in there you could show them. Show them what you could really do.
You felt something tap you "GWAH!"
You fall over on your belly as you hear cute southern giggling behind you.
"Anon?" Applebloom walked over to the front of your face and looked down at you "Are you ignoring me?"
"No..." you grumble as you sit yourself back up "I was just thinking. What are you even doing here anyway?"
Applebloom tilted her head in confusion, looked back at the barn, then back at you as she pointed towards it "Ahm, might be because ah live here"
"C'mon, Anon. why are you being such a grumpy sourpuss?" Applebloom said as she tried putting on a grin and tapping your shoulder.
You just slowly place your hoof on hers and slowly push it away "If you gotta know, it's because I tried pushing a barrel that was overfilled up that ramp and couldn't do it. Made me look like an idiot. I could have done it if it was filled normally"
"What?" Applebloom looked over where her siblings were working "Those barrels?"
"Yeah, those barrels"
"Urm" A sense of dread his Applebloom, dread and pity for you "Anon, all them barrels are filled as much as they can. And erm...it ain't that hard to get em up the ramp."
You stared at them working at the barrels again, then at Applebloom, then back at the barrels.
You put your hooves to your face when you felt your delusions shatter before you.
All those lost fights, getting beaten by a Chimera, all of it.
It smacked your pride pretty damn hard when you realized how weak you really were.
You didn't even answer Applebloom back. It really stung.
Applebloom noticed her words had seemed to worsen your mood, and she felt rather bad about it. "Ahrm, Anon, ah didn't mean to make ya feel bad. Ah was just saying is all. Besides, ahm an Apple. All the Apples in the Apple family are pretty strong. Ya gotta be if yer gonna be able to buck apples and whatnot."
You didn't know what it was. Maybe it was because you wanted to justify your weakness. But you felt the urge to actually talk about this issue with her.
So you sighed, and pressed on. "I don't think it's that Applebloom. And even if it was. Mr.Rich? He's a nice dude. I just made a promise that I'd always do this sort of thing physically after marrying his daughter. And well? I can't even do that. I feel....shame. I feel bad that I couldn't do something this simple."
Applebloom blinked a few times "Erm..did you say, marry?"
Applebloom didn't realize you were thinking that far ahead. Not that it bothered her romantically. It was just jarring to her. "J-just askin'. Well Anon, if ya really want mah opinion. Ah think yer just thinkin' too much. It's obvious that you ain't too strong because yer always solvin' your problems with that horn thing. And that ain't a bad thing. But if ya wanna get muscle, ya gotta do all kinds of exercises. And even then, why are you feelin' ashamed? Ya saved Diamond Tiara, ya beat up some griffins, ya saved an entirely different Equestria! Heck, even though they don't know, yer doin' your best with the changelings. Ah never would have met Scrappy without ya. Though, ya could stand to be a little nicer to him sometimes."
Well, that was mostly uplifting. "I g-guess. But about all that heroic stuff. You think it makes up for my lack of....y'know"
"Anon.." Applebloom giggled "Are you really acting this way cuz you couldn't push a barrel? C'mon, this ain't like you. "
"I mean, I know it isn't. It's just, y'know…..That's Mr.Rich and he sees me as his future son. Which is kind of cool. Not that it replaces my current dad, he's cool too. It's just, I was having a normal moment with him. And then I told him I can do this. And now I look like an idiot."
"Ah think yer overeactin', Anon. Ya saved his daughter for Celestia's sake! That counts for somethin', ah think. If yer really that worried, just talk to him about it after they’re done. It's not like ya can't just get some exercise later anyway. Ah'm sure he'll understand"
If you were a lesser colt, you'd probably deny all that. But Applebloom was most likely right. Ok, well….You didn't ACTUALLY save DT. But nobody really knew that. And you did do all those other heroic things. You'd have to be an idiot to think you'd be seen as less after saving an entire dimension. "Holy beans, Applebloom. You know what? You're right!"
You balanced yourself and stood on your hind legs, raising your fore legs up like fists.
"I'm the hero colt! And everypony knows it! So yeah, I just need to balance my high magical prowess by doing some exercise. Just you wait! Nothing will be able to stop meeeWFSF" You take a step forward, and step on the flat of a rake, making the pole end swing up and slam into your face, knocking you onto your back.
Applebloom winced, and chuckled nervously "Oh, hehe, erm...ah was lookin' for that. T-thanks, Anon"
You really couldn't have a moment...could you?