Chapter 1 - Dark Skies
Caramel looked up at the dark sky above him. The weather Pegasi had planned a storm to start at dusk, leaving the day free for the citizens of Ponyville to continue their daily routines. It seemed to Caramel that the clouds were mimicking his current feelings rather well. Storm clouds normally floated along the skies alone, uncared for and unloved until somepony needed them. Caramel sighed heavily. It was just a bad day; surely everypony had them now and then. He remembered Big Mac after Applejack said she wasn't going to return and how he spent the rest of the day trying to cheer up his old friend by telling him that AJ was fine and she was just upset about something silly.
“You okay, sugarcube? Y'know there's a storm comin', right?” Caramel launched himself into the air from where he was sat, earning a giggle from the amused mare. “Did I scare ya Caramel?” Applejack often scared him, it was just the way he saw her, and after that time Big Mac walked into the barn when they'd been drinking... “So whatcha doin' out here anyway?” It's awful late to be sat around.” Caramel sighed yet again, the day had been a rough one and he wasn't quite up for discussing it whilst he was still completely sober and standing in the middle of Ponyville.
“How's about, I get to walk you back to Sweet Apple Acres, and you invite me in when we get there for a drink?” Suddenly realizing what words had just left his mouth Caramel panicked. “Just as friends! Of course, I... heh...” His face began to burn up. He couldn't have imagined it to be much more awkward unless...
“Hmm, Didn't Big Macintosh walk in the last time we both began drinkin'?” … she mentioned that. His cheeks burning in a shade of red he didn't even know was possible to reach he let out a small groan. That was a long and awkward night.
The Apple family had held a celebration with the extra cider after seeing off the Flim Flam brothers and everypony was drinking. Later in the evening the Apples had invited him to stay the night in the spare room of their house. Unfortunately, he and AJ ended up falling behind the others and decided to head to the barn for some... privacy. Both clearly drunk, Applejack approached him slowly and hugged him tightly, rambling on about how hard it was apple bucking, and how lonely the work was. Caramel had attempted to comfort her and whilst doing so she interrupted him with a long kiss. Unsure what to do, he returned the affection. Unbeknownst to the two of them, Big Mac opened the barn door, looking for the lost pair. Upon seeing Caramel kissing his sister he began to shout.
Caramel shuddered at that last part of his memory. Big Mac never raised his voice, but when he did, Caramel knew nothing but fear.
“What in Celestia's name do ya think yer doin' with MA sister Caramel?” The pair froze. Caramel swung his head around to see Big Mac stood in the door of the barn, blocking his escape route. “When I get my hooves on ya, oh I'm gonna make ya feel it!” Big Mac ran towards Caramel. Applejack jumped to the side and hid in the corner of the barn next to a few bales of hay and drunkenly watched the scene unfold. Caramel tried to dodge to the left, but instead took a drunken step and tripped over his own hoof, hitting the floor with a thump. Big Mac seized the opportunity to get closer. As Caramel managed to get back to onto his hooves he looked up to see Big Mac standing there. 'CRACK!' Caramel hit the floor out cold.
He didn't really have any memory past that, until he woke up with a hangover and Big Mac to explain himself to with the previous night's events.
“I s'pose we could, as long as you can keep yourself off me this time.” She finished up with a mischievous smile that Caramel mirrored in response,
“I guess I could try.”
The pair started making their way to Sweet Apple Acres for the night, sharing a few jokes and stories from the past to keep the atmosphere light hearted and happy. They passed Sugarcube corner, home to the famous Pinkie Pie, the best party thrower in all Equestria. Applejack couldn't resist making a few comments on how Pinkie never made any sense in how she worked, able to pop up anywhere at any time with boundless amounts of energy.
“Y'know that pony scares me sometimes. How can anypony possibly do all that bouncin' in a single day an' not be tired!” Both of them considered several possible ways, deciding that the best way to deal with it was just accept that Pinkie just doesn't make sense to anypony in Equestria.
The rain began to fall, but only lightly as the pair found themselves at the entrance to the farm. Caramel had been here many times before, as a guest of Big Mac's and as a farmhand after an incident involving Applejack's stubborn personality. He never did ask Big Mac what happened that summer, probably just good old AJ over working herself again.
As they trotted up the path a large red barn with wooden beams painted white came into view on their left. All barns looked the same to Caramel; large buildings of painted wood, always red and white. As they began to pass the barn, Applejack turned to Caramel.
“Annnnd if ya take a peek to yer left, ya can see the barn where Big Macintosh clobbered ya!” Applejack grinned at Caramel. Not one to be outdone by Applejack's comment, he found himself responding in kind.
“If I remember rightly AJ, there were two of us in that barn who got caught. I may have taken a hit to my head, but I believe Big Mac took a real swing at your pride now didn't he?”
The quick response caught AJ off guard, stuttering as she tried to find a clever comeback for the light brown stallion, but she finally gave in, defeated, as they reached the porch.
“Alrigh' wise guy, ya got me. Thank you for making sure I had arrived safely.” She added the second part in a posh accent, probably from when she was in Manehatten with the Oranges. Either way, Caramel found himself laughing loud enough to wake anything within half a mile of the farm. Applejack joined in the laughter, making Caramel happier than he had been all day.
“Isn't this the part where you invite me in? Remember?” Caramel looked towards the door, hinting at his earlier proposal. Applejack stared at him for a few seconds, before breaking off when Caramel made eye contact. Confused by what was going on, Caramel decided to ask what was wrong. “You ok AJ?” Applejack just looked around nervously, “Y'know, I was getting tired anyway... I'll just go ba...”
“NO! I mean, uhh, why don'tcha come on in for a while, I'm sure Big Mac would love ta see ya!” The loud response stunned Caramel. Was she covering up for something? Unsure how to progress with the current situation, Caramel smiled warmly and gratefully accepted the invitation.
“Can I get ya a cider?”
“Sure thing! I normally miss out on cider season. Pinkie always takes way too many for any single pony to safely drink.”
“I'll bring it through when I'm ready. Big Macintosh should be in there anyway.”