Chapter 5—Applejack’s Answer
Oh…what do I do? What did Rainbow say? Oh yes. “I need you to read this for me, Applejack.”
Fluttershy set her pastries down on the ground and stood behind the tree, occasionally peeking out from behind to see the orange Earth pony lift her hind legs to kick the tree. She’s bucking apples again. The pegasus loved to watch the apple of her eye buck trees. Some of those reasons were less than platonic. She felt a shiver ripple from her chest and travel down all of her hooves as Applejack flexed her hind legs, poised and ready to strike the tree.
“Hi, Applejack. Read this for me, please?” “Hi, Applejack. I just wrote a story. Please read it?” “Applejack, hi! I just wrote this story. Do you think you can read it?” “And tell me what you think?”
“Oh heya, Flutters. Ah didn’t see y’all there.”
Fluttershy let out a small “eep,” not realizing that she had accidentally emerged from her hiding place. “J—Jackie…Hi Jackie…”
Applejack chuckled. “What can Ah do ya for?”
“Oh…I don’t want to be a bother…”
“The day’s almost over, so Ah’m pretty much done with my chores for the day. Y’all won’t be a bother, don’t worry none.” She smiled reassuringly.
Darn! “Um…I wrote this story. Do you think…” Her voice faltered. She tried again. “Do you think…” Deep breaths. “Do you think you could read it for me?”
“Oh, sure! Ya’ll want my proofreadin’? Ah’d love to, but wouldn’t Twilight be better at this?”
“Oh, um…I’d rather if you read it.”
“Fluttershy, Ah really would like to, but Ah’m really plum-tuckered out after today’s work. Ah mean, Ah’d love so much to hear it and all, but Ah don’t think Ah have the focus to read it myself.” She yawned and sat down under the apple tree she had just bucked. “Er…Ah don’t want to be a hassle or anything, but do ya think you could read it to me?”
Jackie…you’re really going to do this to me? Oh Jackie…I…I can’t…Deciding to show it to you in the first place was difficult enough, but now you want me to read it to you? I don’t think I have the courage…
“It’s okay if y’all don’t want to,” Applejack said, noticing the long hesitation.
Oh, now she’s going to think I’m difficult and lazy and ohh!
“Okay, I’ll read it. Just um…please be gentle…”
“Sure thing!” she said. She tapped her hoof on the grass in front of her, motioning for the pegasus to have a seat facing her.
Fluttershy sat on the grass, feeling the small blades flicker across her fur. It tickled, but the tickles were minute compared to the pounding in her chest. She took a few deep breaths and laid the paper in front of her. She looked up and saw the shining green eyes and supportive smile of her companion. They gave her enormous encouragement. “Okay…” she whispered softly to herself, “You can do this.”
She took a few deep breaths, and began to read:
Angel hopped across the fields, trying to escape from his caretaker. Every time dinner was served, he adamantly refused. His eating was finicky, and that made him hard to take care of. But his caretaker, Fluttershy, was patient and made sure he was fed.
“Angel!” she called after him. But there was no response but a stuck-out tongue.
He hopped faster and faster, hoping to escape the celery. He hopped down the road, past the fields in front of Fluttershy’s cottage, and finally into Sweet Apple Acres.
“Oh, Angel!” She finally caught up with him after awhile. He was a lot smaller than the pony, so he tired out much easier. “Please come back and eat your celery.”
He shook his head.
“I know you don’t really like it, but it’s healthy…”
He turned around stubbornly.
“How about this: If you finish the celery today, then I’ll make you your favorite carrot soup tomorrow.”
His ears perked up and he turned back slowly.
“Is that a yes?”
After a few moments of thinking, he nodded his head quickly.
“Okay! Now go back to the cottage and eat your celery, okay?”
He started hopping back. Fluttershy was about to follow him, but a voice kept her back.
“Ah’m really impressed at how you keep all your animals so happy.”
She turned around to see her friend Applejack. Perhaps “friend” wasn’t the best way to describe it. In truth, Fluttershy was very, very fond of her. It was because of this fondness that she was very nervous and especially shy around her. This time was no exception.
“Howdy there, Flutters. Is Angel giving you trouble?”
“Oh…oh, not particularly. He’s just very…persnickety.”
Applejack nodded. “Fluttershy, are ya busy right now?”
“Well care to come have a chat with me? You know, to just talk?”
“Oh, of course!” Fluttershy was happy that she could spend some time with Applejack. She followed her until they found a tall apple tree. The leaves were very green, as it was still summer, but it managed to provide lots of shade.
“Ya know, Flutters? Ah really like times like this.”
“Just me and you, lying under Appletina here.” She lied down, closed her eyes, and sighed peacefully.
To Fluttershy, she was just like an angel—one that was not persnickety at all. “Oh, Jackie…” she whispered. Without thinking, she leaned down and kissed Applejack on the cheek.
The farmer pony quickly sat up and rubbed her cheek with her hoof. Fluttershy gasped and shied away. “Oh, what have I done?!” she thought. “She hates me!”
“F—Flutters?” Applejack stuttered. “Did y’all just…?”
Fluttershy became scared and wasn’t sure what to do, but she knew she had to be brave. She took a few deep breaths and became very courageous. “I’m so sorry, Jackie—Applejack…”
“It’s okay…” she said, but Fluttershy was sure she was just trying to be nice.
“I’ve just…I’ve loved you for so long, Jackie…I just couldn’t help myself. I’m sorry!” She was crying, but it was okay because she was being brave—something she wasn’t able to do for any other reason than for her love. “Please don’t hate me…”
“Ah…Ah couldn’t hate you even if Ah wanted to, Flutters…”
“C—Can we just forget about all this?” She sniffled.
“Ah don’t think Ah want to.” Applejack kissed the cheek of the sobbing pegasus.
Fluttershy sniffed a few times and opened her eyes. Applejack’s beautiful green eyes stared back at her. She felt orange hooves wrap around her body and pull her in tightly. She heard the words “Ah love you, too” whispered into her right ear.
Fluttershy kept crying, but this time because she was happy. The love of her life reciprocated her feelings, and there was nothing else she could ever want.
After the pegasus had calmed down, Applejack still refused to let go of her. She knew that she was holding a very fragile pony and needed to comfort her. She was sensitive like that.
“Oh Applejack,” she sighed, “our love will last forever, won’t it?”
“Yes, sugarcube,” she replied, “forever and forever. Just you and me, Flutters.”
The sun was slowly setting to the West, and they could both see their shadows lengthening. Below a single tree sat the two mares, hugging so tightly that if it had not been for the difference in fur colors, nopony could tell them apart.
Fluttershy could feel the soft grass beneath tickle her back as she moved. “I love you, Jackie.”
“Ah love you, too, Flutters. Ah love you, too.” She nuzzled the yellow neck before her, eliciting a small gasp from the timid pegasus.
For Fluttershy, everything was perfect, and it would continue to be so, because the only thing she ever needed was right next to her—forever and ever.
Fluttershy put the paper down and moved it behind her. Her eyes followed it across the grassy ground. She didn’t turn forward. I’m afraid to look. If only I were as brave as Story Fluttershy.
“F—Fluttershy…” Applejack said softly.
She still didn’t turn around. The fear of what was to come swallowed her whole. The deed was done. She knew everything. There was no going back. If Applejack rejected her, she would have to move again. She would have to live with another rejection—one that she very much wished she wouldn’t live through.
“Are these…? Is this…?” Her voice seemed to be sucked away at the end of every sentence. At last, she asked, “Do ya really feel this way?”
Fluttershy nodded while still looking back, trying to lengthen the time until she had to face her worst fears. Nothing was said for a few minutes. Finally, curiosity took better control of her. With her eyes glued to the grass, she asked softly, barely over a whisper, “Do…do you feel the same way?” The sound was diminished even more under the competition of the light breeze. She could feel tears beginning to form, but they were still static.
A pause. Then, Applejack spoke. “No. Ah’m sorry, but Ah don’t love you.”
The dam burst. But…But my story…It was supposed to be…Why don’t you…Please love me…I love you so much…I can’t…I don’t…I…You…But…Jackie…Jackie….Jackie…please…
Fluttershy stood up slowly, sobbing heavily. The world collapsed. There was no reason to live anymore. There was no reason to exist. The love of her life hated her. Everything was against her. The sun was dim and weak. The farm became a toxic waste dump. Everything around her disintegrated into her worst nightmares. Cloudchaser came back to her just to mock her again. But this time, Applejack was there, too.
She could already see it. In a few days, everpony in town would tease her and shun her, calling her a fillyfooler. She couldn’t even walk down the street without jeers and derisive insults. Ponies would hit her with things and throw rocks at her, and she would have to go to the hospital again. Only this time, it would be worse. The doctors would turn her away, saying that they couldn’t help somepony who molested other fillies. The police would then arrest her, and she’d go to prison and spend the rest of her life lonely and bullied by the other inmates. But that didn’t seem very bad compared to how she would feel on the inside.
Applejack doesn’t love me. I don’t…I don’t want to stay here. I’m going to move. I’m going to move into the ground. Nopony come look for me. I’m just going to wither and die in the ground. Only the dirt will love me. Cloudchaser and Applejack are just perfect examples of why I don’t deserve to be here. Rarity was wrong. Twilight was wrong. Rainbow Dash was wrong. Pinkie Pie was wrong. They were all wrong. I hate myself. I hate myself. I…I want this to end. Now…
Fluttershy took a few steps forward, and her wobbly hooves broke her into a run. At least, they wanted to. Before she could even walk three steps, Applejack’s strong hoof pulled her back by the tail.
She felt those strong hooves grab onto her neck and yank her forward. She expected to be hit. She expected the ground to meet her face to hopefully end it all. She wanted to be hit. She wanted Applejack to use her bare hooves to beat the life out of her. She wanted to feel blows onto her face that would snuff out her life and her pain bit by bit. After all, that’s what she deserved, right?
Instead, her muzzle felt the soft belly of the Earth pony. The hooves slipped down from her neck and onto her withers. They held her fast while she sobbed freely into the orange fur. They rubbed her fur up and down, trying their best to comfort her. They petted her on the head and they rubbed her sides gently.
She started letting out all of her emotions. All the hiding. All the denial. All the fear. All the stress. And finally, all the hate—hate for herself, and hate for the world.
“Y’all didn’t let me finish,” she said softly. “Ah don’t love you, Flutters…”
Please don’t say that again…Please…I can’t bear it…
“But that doesn’t mean Ah won’t in the future. Listen, Flutters. Ah’d like to give this a try, okay? Just because Ah don’t feel anythin’ for you now, doesn’t mean Ah won’t in the future. If you’d like, Ah’d love to go on a date with you, okay?”
“S—So…you’ll…you’ll l—love me…l—love me later in th—the future…?” Fluttershy asked erratically through her crying. Please say yes.
“If all goes well, then yes. Ah will love you.”
“Oh, Jackie!” she cried. The world became lighter. The toxic waste dump became Sweet Apple Acres again. Her senses reopened and she could feel the hooves rubbing her back. She continued crying, but the tears were less of desperation and more of need—an emotional need.
Applejack was patient. She waited through all the tears, constantly giving the pegasus signs of attention. Her hooves were at work again, rubbing her back and petting her mane. She whispered words of encouragement like “It’s okay” or simply a “Shh” sound.
“Have Ah told you how much Ah love it when you call me ‘Jackie’?” She suddenly asked.
“Well, Ah do. It makes me feel real special.”
Fluttershy raised her head up from Applejack’s stomach and saw her green eyes, looking straight at her. She saw the compassion and care in those eyes—compassion and care that gleamed differently than that of her friends’.
“So…d—do you…um…” Her crying had subsided substantially, and her sentences became less and less fractured.
“Yes, my fillyfriend?”
“F—Fillyfriend? I’m your fillyfriend?”
“Well, if we’re gonna be datin’, then you’re my fillyfriend, aren’t ya?” she chuckled.
“Dating…” she cooed. “Dating…”
“Eeyup. Datin’. Speakin’ of which. Ah think Ah know where Ah’m gonna take you for our first date. And if you feel like it, Ah know where Ah wanna take you tonight.”
The dam was repaired, and the tears subsided. Except for a few heaves from her chest and some sniffles, she was happy again. Fluttershy put her muzzle back onto Applejack’s belly, but now due to comfort and not need. “My fillyfriend,” she whispered. A small spark fizzled in her throat and a warm flame flickered in her chest when she said those two words. She said them louder: “My fillyfriend.” The spark and flame grew and were joined by butterflies in her stomach. She said it louder. And louder.
Applejack joined in.