by ArchoPony

8 - Honesty Restored - Part 3

“ I know you want to find the best way to get things done. “ She swung her hoof around with the word ' best '
“ And- You know what. “ She had another idea. This whole friendship lesson might be doable after all.
“ Your right. “
Ponder was back to being confused.

“ If I had just assumed correctly - ”,
“ that you were doubtin' my competence, not my intent, the conversation would have been slightly faster. “

“ But that's not what happened, was it? “
Ponder looked defeated.

“ And I'm sorry that I don't... quite have the... uh- mentality for that. “
“ But somethin' tells me that similar stuff happened in the past, even back in your human world. “

Ponder was not happy. He just got schooled by a mind that not only was much dumber then he was, but admitted it. He could have sworn he let out a small sigh of anguish.

And he also could have sworn she fumbled her last point just to rub that in.
To make a point, but still.

“ So, Try. “ She asserted.
He was back, yet again, to confused.

“ I'm going to ask ya to at least try. “
“ Um- Applejack. I don't know how much I - “

“ And your gunna have to ask them to try too. “

Ponder was confused and shocked.
“ And, If you don't mind me askin'... “ She continued.
“ You was thinkin' I was simple minded back there, weren't you? “ She said in half-confidence. With a smile, to let him know he wasn't in trouble.

“ Wha- “ Ponder found himself saying, as he got up to look around the area the area for magic.

“ And I ain't readin' your mind. “ She said with a well earned smirk.
“ Earth Ponies don't have that kind of magic. “ She said, raising a hoof to eye level.

“ Now. “ She got into lecture mode. Ponder was now attentively listening.

“ Don't you find it funny that while I could read you like an open book - “
“ You couldn't read me? Even when you raised that eyebrow, even while I was tryin' to communicate with you. “
“ Well, yeah. “ Ponder frustratingly rebuked.

“ Intelligence is very predictable. Chaos is not. “ He realized he had to further clarify:
“ There are usually only a few, simple ways to do something the ' best way ' “ He was trying hard not to insult her again. She showed appreciation with a smile.

“ While there are nearly infinite ways to mess something up. “ He finished.
She was back to a minor frown. ' So close, yet so far ' She thought to herself.

She started to respond.
“ Even if that was true -“
Ponder raised another eyebrow.

“ See – There you go again. “
“ We talked about this. “ He responded in monotone.

Applejack sighed.

“ - Back on track. “ She said with assertion.
“ Why did you count on me, in all my simple mindedness, to understand exactly what you meant; in a ' serious conversion ' just to save a few seconds here and there? “

Ponder just stared into space. He didn't know what to do.
A short, clown nose honking noise rung about in both of their heads.

“ Hold on. “ She said, noticing his uneasiness.

“ Let me give you an out. “ She offered;

“ You were just wanting to speed things along, not thinking bout' it too much. “ She said.
“ And you were talking to me as if you were talking to another' one of you'. “ She finished, proud of her rebuttal.

“ Are... -” He was trying to say.

“ Are you sure you can't read minds? “ He half- asked.

Applejack laughed.

“ Well, I too thought ya a bit slow. “ She apologized.
“ But turns out “
“ Ya'll were just different. “
“ Different ponies have different strengths. “ She confidently asserted.

Ponder was too used to running mental circles around everyone he met to think otherwise, until now.

He had never even considered that other people were more then just another pair of hands when compared to him.
Fixing a car? Sure, others can do that. He didn't want to get that dirty or spend that amount of time learning about it, especially while being physically disabled.

But now He wasn't so sure about that.

If they weren't going to be hostile to him, and Applejack wasn't, then maybe he should consider their differences instead of just snobbing them.

After all, Intelligence was just another way to figure stuff out, and Applejack seemed to have this ' communication with the normal people ' thing already figured out. To a T.

“ Ready to talk about the more troublin' stuff? “ She asked with sincerity.
“ Yeah. “ He replied, almost chipper.
“ Now that's more like it. “ She said, not able to muster a smile.

Ponder was worried.
She inhaled.

“ Yall are gunna have to apologize to the entirety of ponyville if you want to stay. “

Ponder's heart sank a bit. Not too much, just enough to make him nervous.
“ And the families of those you effected. “ She said in unusual formality.
He was about to say something, when Applejack interrupted him:

“ And not a single pony can say no for you to stay in ponyville. Otherwise, you got to go somewhere else in Equestria, assuming you want to stay here. “
She motioned to the sky.
Ponder was surprised. Even Applejack was approaching her limits. And with her element of honesty, no less.

Ponder turned to sadness, depression.

Applejack took notice.

“ Look, I understand if you don't want to go back to where the other humans are “
“ It's just that -” She started to explain.

“ No I get it. “
“ Even if I'm completely safe, I still cause tension – For some reason “ He said that last part with minor confusion.

“ Yeah. You cause tension. And worry. And whole slew of other negative things just by bein' here. “
“ Your not like Starlight who, well, almost destroyed the world “
He seemed concerned about that last statement.
“ Her mishaps were private. Never happened, actually, with time travel being time travel “
Now he was just confused.

“ My point is that yours was - … public. “
A point he really did not like to be reminded of.

“ And that changes things. “
“ Drastically. “

“ Yal' didn't meant to do it. “ She clarified.
“ Even most of the townsfolk agree. “

“ So your not in trouble, in THAT way. “
Another reminder. He was almost getting bored of them.

“ But after you talk with all of us – Twilight's friends “ She swatted a bug from her snout.
“ Your gunna have to talk with them. “
“ Keep stayin' away from the townsfolk. “ Applejack had noticed his aversion to them from the get-go.
“ And you don't have to use that made-up name you told to that one pony that stopped to talk with you. They don't know your real name. “
Ponder was embarrassed. He was made fun of plenty of times for his ' edginess ' when he didn't even mean too.
Luckily this was Equestria, not the human world.

“ Nothin' shameful about it, good on you for tryin' “
She said.

He had been worried for nothing. No finger pointing and laughing.
In fact.
He had never been made fun of or physically assaulted since he got here.

Another thought creeped into his mind.
“ Applejack, if you agree with me on all this, why did you make Applebloom cry? “
Applejack got worked up: “ Wha- Was she? “
She turned her head back to the farm, then back to him.

She got back on track.
“ I don't. I don't agree. I'm first talking about what YOU see as true, so then I can talk about what I think is true. “
She looked saddened. Almost depressed.
' Good. ' thought PonderBright. One more disincentive to not do it next time. Applebloom was now a little more safe from her shenanigans.

“ And that's another thing.- “ She was preparing another big speech.
“ I get it, I won't disobey orders. “ He interjected.

“ Nope. “ She responded.

“ Ya'll could have been dangerously dehydrated out in this summer heat. “ She said as she swung one of her water satchels to him.
He drank it in almost 6 seconds.

“ See? “, She said
“ Don't endanger your own safety, or anyone else's, orders or not. “ She said with confidence.
“ Alright. “ He said, waiting for another segway.

She responded after a long swig from her water case :

“ Your presence is distractin'. “, “ And not just because your socially awkward. “
“ Are... We still talking about Applebloom? “ He had to clarify.

She tilted her head at him.
Hypocrite. Non-verbal communication.

Oh well. He did understand.

And he did hold himself to a much higher standard then everyone else.

The noise of Applejack's putting her bottle away zoned him back in :
“ Because if we are “ He looked at her to confirm she was paying attention. She was, and was also just seeing where he was going with this.
“ Arn't... YOU the one that, did all that, while I just... stood there? “

“ Another good segway. “ She proclaimed.
“ Your just filllllled with holes of the social variety, I just can't find enough to fill. “ She said chipperly.
He was unammused.

“ Sorry. “ She apologized.
“ Didn't mean for it to come out like that. “

They both shared a stare.
Applejack's awkward and Ponder's accusatory.

“ Yes. “ She had to break the silence.

“ I did. “

“ And I am mostly to blame for that outburst with Applebloom. “
' Mostly? ' Ponder thought to himself.
Luckily she wasn't able to 'read' that thought.

“ But you made a choice. A choice to be here “ She pointed to the ground
“ Rather then there. “
She pointed to the sky.

“ And I now agree with you! “ She leaned forward.
“ Those things sound like abominations! “ She said with minor doubt.
“ They were wrong for doin' that too you. “ She said with forgiveness.

“ But all choices have consequences. “
“ And by choosing here rather then there “, “ Things are gunna happen that wouldn't otherwise. “
She was taking a more and more regretful tone.

“ And I probably need to get back to Applebloom soon. She needs an apology too. “
She was looking back towards the farm, impatience in her eyes.

" And- I would apprecaite If we didn't talk about my family no more. " Applejack firmly asserted.
Ponder look down at the ground, then back up at Applejack while formulating a response.
" Ok. " He said with pure frankness.

" Alright. " Applejack confirmed.

“ And I get it. “ He said.
“ You do? “ She was questioning him, turning back around to face him.

“ Yeah. My presence here " He did a sweeping hoof motion at the sky " will be, on average, a net negative until I make some sort of amends. “
He said while closing his eyes.

“ Well I'll be. “ She said with hope.
“ Twilight was right. You are one smart cookie. “ She further clarified.

Ponder grew a smile.
Applejack was embarrassed.

“ Well, uh, If you have it worded exactly the way you need it. “ Applejack had gotten over it pretty quickly.
“ You adapt pretty fast. “ She was over her earlier embarrassment.
“ Don't thank me, thank the autism. “ He half-joked, as he knew autism was just as much a part of him as anything else.

“ Aw – What now? “ She was just confused. Of course. Primitive pony world would have no notion of mental disabilities.

“ Oh- Don't worry about it. “ He said while smiling and waving a hoof, trying to communicate he had tried to make a joke;
to do the funny.
Applejack smile a minuscule bit. Had one of his social cues...

Actually worked?

He got back on topic.
“ We can always talk later. You have a lot to do. You work on a farm. “ That last sentence was absurdly awkward, but true.

Indeed I do work on a farm. “ She validated his social peace offering.
“ But; I don't you think you need any more. I think you get it. “ She said with a smile and tilting her head towards him.

“ Wow. Thanks- uh. “
“ Bye? “ He half – said half- asked, as she turned to walk away.

“ See ya around. “ ; She sent him off with.
An unusually friendly response for someone who was yelling at their kids to stay away from him not an hour ago.
Was he meant to infer something from this?

He wasn't about to disobey orders when lives weren't in danger and follow her to her farm, no, but what about something she meant by saying it that way?

Was she testing him?
No, she just lectured him about miscommunication.

Was she wanting to get a rise out of him?
No, she could done much worse per the earlier parts of their conversation.

Was he meant to infer something else from that?

Yes he thought he was.

He walked away with his head held high, not close to the ground as all the times before.

Applejack had been watching.
She turned back around to go to the farm, while talking to herself:
“ Hm. You do indeed catch on quickly. “

She looked back at him.
“ And you may not be as socially inept as you think. “

Her cutie mark began to glow, and shine outward.

Mission complete.

She smiled a proud, well earned smile as she walked to clear things up with Applebloom.

(3) By employing the officers of his army without discrimination, through ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to circumstances. This shakes the confidence of the soldiers.

- Sun Tzu, Art of war.