• Published 1st Jun 2013
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Legend - Radiant Dawn



He was an average man in nearly every sense of the term, but his entire life is flipped upside-down when a push for a paycheck turns into something unexpected...something much more.

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Chapter 3: Making Good Pt. 1

Chapter 3: Making Good Pt. 1

“...don’t need it anymore, he’s waking up now.”

“Are you sure? I mean I can still get it if-”

“No Spike. He’s been through enough as it is, and I want to make him comfortable, not angry.”

I grunted as I sat up and rubbed my head, and then blinked a few times to clear the fuzziness from my vision. “Ugh...what happened? Feels like I got hit by a truck.”

“What’s a truck?” I heard Twilight ask in confusion.

I sighed and shook my head as the memory of what happened came back to me. “Something I’m probably never going to see again.”

Twilight stood there awkwardly for a moment before saying, “Well umm...would you like some tea? It’s peppermint.”

I took a steadying breath before nodding. “Some tea would be great. Thank you, Twilight.”

As she left the room with Spike in tow, the situation hit me again, but this time there was no denial left in me. Princess Celestia had made it painfully clear that as it stands, there is nothing she could do. It sucked overall...my hope was broken, and I had to now find a way to come to terms with the fact I was stuck in Equestria. Beyond just surviving and waiting to leave, I now had to learn to live here. That meant that something as silly as “don’t touch a pony’s back” was no longer just something to avoid. For better or worse, it was something I was going to have to integrate into my life. Such things were a part of this world, and so they would have to become a part of me.

My family and friends are dead. The world I knew is gone. I have a new life to explore.

These three truths were going to become my whole world so that I didn’t lose sense of reality, and it would give me something to do until I could find a way to settle in. I knew myself well enough that it wasn’t a question of if I could learn to live in Equestria, but rather how long it would take for me to be comfortable doing so. Life would go on, no doubt, but it was going to take a lot of work on my part for it to do so. After all, my skillset from college and such was made for a world with modern technology. Now I guess the term “modern” wasn’t exactly fair in a world so far removed from Earth, since by a mere count of years, it was quite possible that Equestria had been a nation far longer than humans had even been on Earth. It was simply the fact that with magic and the ability to fly, ponies didn’t have as much use for cars, computers, or even firearms. I mean, what use was I in a world like this? Why the hell had Equis kept me here?

Unfortunately it wasn’t as if I could just sit down and ask the damn planet what the planet wanted me here for. It was just another one of the things about this place that reminded me of just how alien I was to it, and how different things were going to be.

“Jamie, you there? You’re spacin’ out.” I heard Spike say as he snapped his fingers in front of me.

My vision became conscious again and I nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just thinking is all.”

A teacup and a saucer levitated over to me, and I gently grabbed it from the lavender aura it was held in. Twilight then approached and sat in front of me on the floor, sipping her tea before saying, “Well don’t think too hard. You can’t feel too well after taking a dive to the floor.”

I rubbed my forehead with a groan, the headache becoming more apparent with her words. “Thank you for reminding me, Twilight.”

She grinned sheepishly. “Sorry, but if you’ll let me, I might have a spell that could help.”

I nodded and then watched as she closed her eyes. Her horn began to glow softly before I felt a slight pressure on my head. The pain slowly ebbed away, and a moment later, so did the pressure.

I blinked a few times before smiling softly at Twilight. “Looks like that did the trick. How did you do that?”

She opened her eyes and smiled as well. “I figured that your headache was caused by swelling from the blunt force trauma you experienced when you hit the floor. I simply coaxed the blood vessels to constrict, lowering the blood flow to the bruised area and bringing the swelling down. Unfortunately it won’t last forever, so I would recommend some ice later on.”

I nodded slowly, offering her a small smile. “Thanks though. I do appreciate it.”

Both of us sipped our tea as Spike quietly made his leave. Finally, it appeared the silence became too much for Twilight as she offered, “I’m sorry, Jamie...”

My gaze was thrown to the floor as I sipped my tea again, and I answered, “I’d rather not think about it right now, if that’s alright with you. I need time to deal with this on my own.” I took yet another sip of the strangely-soothing tea, then brought my eyes to hers. “What I would appreciate however, is if I had something constructive to do. Usually when I need to think, I like to work in some way. Normally that would consist of helping people with computer problems, but since ponies don’t have computers...”

She nodded. “I understand, Applejack does the same thing.” Her eyes turned turned to the ceiling as she tapped her hoof on her chin. “Hmm...well I know that Applejack could always use help during this time of year. Harvest season is coming up, so she usually spends this time going through her orchards pruning the trees. It’s pretty tough for an earth pony to do though, so maybe you could help her out.”

I raised my eyebrow at this. “All this time and ponies haven’t invented pruning shears made for ponies?”

She shrugged. “They have little loops that go over the hooves so that we can use them, but the problem is that we’re not good at standing up on our hind legs, so usually Applejack has to climb the tree she’s pruning and sit in the branches. Besides being very uncomfortable for her rump, she’s fallen out quite a few times. She’s been lucky so far, but I don’t want her to get hurt unnecessarily if there’s somepony around to help. Well, someone.”

I shrugged as I took another sip of tea. “I’ll help her out then. I gotta apologize to her anyway.” I then cleared my throat as I locked eyes with Twilight. “By the way, I’m really sorry about how I acted. Rainbow Dash made me realize I was being very insensitive to how all of you felt.”

Her ears splayed back a bit as she remembered the previous day, and she nodded. “Yeah, you were.”

I sighed as I finished off the tea and set the cup down on its saucer beside me. “It’s just that I was so sure I was going home that I didn’t see the need to form any sort of connection with any of you. I figured that the less bonded we were, the easier it would be for all of us.” I then felt the shame weigh upon me for how I’d acted, and stated, “Twilight, I’m sorry. I know that you all took me in and cared for me, and I’m eternally grateful for that. I just didn’t want to get close to anyone just to have to leave them. It seems that even though I ignored the bonds that were forming, that didn’t mean they went away.”

“Well,” she began, her thinking expression again gracing her face, “maybe you can make it up to me by finally letting me study you. Clothes on of course, but you’ve yet to let me scan your body or even ask you about anything.”

I shrugged. “I guess that’s fair, so long as you cue me in on Equestrian society. I’ve already screwed up once by patting AJ on the back...I don’t want to do anything worse than that.”

She giggled lightly. “Worse than telling a mare you want to mount her in front of her grandmother? That would be a tough one to top, Jamie.”

I glared at Twilight as I sarcastically replied, “You’re the Element of Magic and a comedian. What will you do next?”

Her giggles stopped, but a warm smile remained. “Well, I’m going to help you settle in here, if you’ll let me. I mean, I like having you around, but I know sooner or later you’re going to want your own home.”

I nodded a few times. “Sounds like a good plan. Problem is, I don’t see much of a demand around here for someone who can’t use magic, doesn’t know how to farm, and can’t fly. With all that being the case, I don’t see much of a job opening for me around here. I mean I guess if I had the time and materials I could build my own house, but the problem lies with the fact that I can’t grow food to save my life, so I’d have to have money to buy some instead.”

Twilight frowned as she turned her gaze to the ceiling again in thought. After a few moments she said, “Well you’re a lot more dexterous than ponies are, you can climb better than us, and your senses of sight and smell are better as well. I’m sure there’s other strengths unique to humans as well, but for now let’s focus on those attributes, which happen to be the most obvious.”

I raised my eyebrow. “Wait, I can see and smell better than you?”

She giggled as she walked over to a window that faced northeast, pointing to it. “Look out this window. Can you see Canterlot in the distance?”

I shrugged and looked out the window. I’d never been to the capital city of Equestria, but it was the only city nearby that was built onto a high plateau. It took me a moment to peek through the haze of clouds, but I could see the bright golden towers peeking over the cloud cover. “Yeah, I can see it.”

As I looked back to Twilight, she smiled. “Well there you go. I can’t even see the mountain from here...no pony can. To us, it’s all just one big red-brown blur with some lighter coloring in the middle. In fact,” she trotted over to the front door and opened it, pointing towards Sweet Apple Acres in the distance, “I can see Appplejack’s farm from here, but I can’t read the sign over the main road...but I know you can.”

I nodded. “Yeah. It’s pretty big and hard to miss. I mean I can’t read the language, but I can make out all the shapes.”

“For ponies, we can’t see it until we’re only a few hundred hooves away.” she explained as she closed the door. “It’s why our signs are written so large, because of our vision. Now to us, it’s normal, but to you, it seems huge, right?”

I shrugged. “Can’t read the language, so to me it just seems like a bunch of funny shapes.”

She rolled her eyes and nodded. “Okay, and I get that, but if it were written in your language it would look huge, right?”

I nodded as I looked back to the sign in the distance. “Yeah. It would look like a sign in New York city...something that was meant to be seen for miles.”

I had told her little about my life personally, but much about my world, so she understood the reference. She nodded as she explained, “Normally, ponies learn where things are by just exploring or having somepony show them as an escort. We remember where everything is by memory. Oddly enough, not trusting our physical senses is something all ponies learn early in life, since what we perceive as reality can be distorted to seem like something it is not.”

Twilight had explained a little about magic in general, so I understood what she meant. Still, humans were evolved with strong physical senses, and we learned to trust them to observe our world. Learning to see beyond the obvious was going to be a rather large change to my personality, but if I was going to live in Equestria, it was a change that had to be made.

“Now,” she began thoughtfully, “as far as your sense of smell, that’s rather simple. Do you remember three days before the mating season came around for Ponyville?” I cringed a bit at the mention of the time, but nodded. She continued. “Well, I remember you remarking a few times as you walked around Ponyville that something smelled ‘off’. It took me some time to realize that you were smelling the female pheromones.”

I raised my eyebrow in confusion. “So I could smell your heat before it even happened?”

She nodded again. “Exactly. Ponies can’t do that, Jamie. Now I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but you bringing that up made me remember what was coming in those next few days. Had you not unknowingly reminded me, I wouldn’t have even thought to get supplies for that week.”

I understood what she meant. The very last thing I’d want was to be raped multiple times by a pony, though during mating season, that number was likely to be more than one had I gotten caught outside. Beyond the normal psychological damage of rape, I’d probably want to cut my own dick off because I’d had sex with a pony.

Yuck.

“Beyond that,” she continued, “it’s a valued ability to be able to smell things like you do. You smelled the stove burning the wooden spoon that had fallen on it a week ago in the library. If you hadn’t, my house could have caught fire and all three of us could have been killed.”

She did have a point there. Still, I couldn’t see a job as the “Ponyville Smeller” panning out.

“I don’t see that turning into a job though, Twilight.” I countered.

She growled and shooed me away with a hoof. “Just...go help Applejack with the pruning. I’ll have come up with something by tonight when you get back.”

I sighed before standing up off the floor and making my way over to the door. I paused before opening it and turned to Twilight, saying, “I want you to know that I really appreciate what you’re doing for me, Twilight...you didn’t have to do anything for me. You and Applejack could have just left me in the forest that day you found me.”

She looked up at me and smiled gently. “Not to say that I wouldn’t have taken you in anyway, but Applejack was the one that wanted to bring you inside and wash you up. She might not be the Element of Kindness, but that pony is one of the nicest ponies you could hope to meet.”

I nodded as I opened the door. “I’ll have to apologize and thank her then. Alright then, I’ll be back later, I guess.” I turned my head back to Twilight as I added, “And thank you, Twilight.”

She waved her hoof at me dismissively as she trotted away, so I walked outside and closed the door behind me, heading to Sweet Apple Acres.


It took me only a few minutes to reach the farm, and only a few minutes more to compose myself for an apology. Now that I’d taken a bit of time to look at myself objectively, I realized that I’d been pretty cold and insensitive towards the ponies that cared for me. Even though I’d tried my best to prevent it from happening, bonds had formed, and I’d acted rather unfairly towards those ponies. Luckily for me I only had to deal with three of them right now, but I knew for a fact that Rarity, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Octavia, and Vinyl Scratch were not going to be happy about the fact that I was ready to leave without saying so much as a goodbye to them.

To put it simply, I was a prick.

Luckily for me, ponies tended to be more forgiving of social faux pas. A perfect example (and thankfully the only one I had) was when I’d touched Applejack’s back. Had she been a human woman and I’d done something similar ‒ such as grabbing her ass ‒ I could be looking at a permanently-ruined relationship, or even jail time. Applejack on the other hand had simply explained what I had done and let it go. I suppose my ignorance of the situation had a lot to do with her understanding of it, but I also knew that a human woman wouldn’t have cared either way.

What I hoped all that meant was that I’d be able to apologize to all of those that I’d unknowingly hurt, and get over it...although with the way that Applejack and Rainbow Dash had reacted, I wasn’t entirely optimistic.

“Are ya comin’ or goin’?” questioned a strong male voice from behind me.

I turned around to see Big Macintosh, Applejack’s older brother, standing behind me with a piece of grass in his teeth. Truthfully I was unsure if the “Big” was actually part of his name, but I wasn’t going to be the one to say his name incorrectly. He seemed like a pretty calm guy, but he was an awful lot of pony to piss off, with hooves the size of my head.

I shifted a bit uneasily on my feet as I replied, “I’m actually here to see Applejack. Do you know if she’s here?”

He jerked his head towards the farm. “Ah reckon she’d be in tha east fields, where tha gala apples are...’least she was when Ah left.”

I nodded with a friendly smile. “Thanks Big Macintosh, I’ll just-”

“Hold it, colt.” he interrupted, his voice having taken a rather dangerous tone to it. When I turned to him again, his face had turned into a subtle scowl. “Ah heard y’all made mah sister cry.”

Shit...

I cringed as he said it and mentally attempted to make my peace with life and death. “Y-yeah...”

He didn’t move, which oddly didn’t settle my nerves. “Why?”

I sighed and slumped a bit in defeat. “Because I’m an insensitive idiot with a penchant for making girls cry, apparently.”

He stared hard at me for a few minutes before doing the pony-equivalent of a shrug, which meant he tilted his head to the side for a second before regaining his normal posture. “Sounds about right ta me. Guess ya better go apologize.”

As I made my way through the gate, I noticed he was walking beside me. I looked over to him in confusion. “Wait, really? Just like that?”

He chuckled softly before nodding. “Mah pa always said tha sign of a good colt is one that can admit he’s wrong, and what he done wrong.” He then flashed a smirk at me. “So’s long as ya ain’t just mean-spirited, that’s good enough fer me.” As we continued our walk, he deviated to the farm house ahead of us while pointing to the left. “She’ll be over yonder. Good luck.”

I nodded to the large red stallion as I walked over to where Applejack was. Just from where I was, I could hear her cursing in a mixture of words I was familiar with, and some I wasn’t. It was true that ponies had their own curses, such as the word “ponyfeathers”, but the first time I heard Rainbow Dash drop the f-bomb when she crashed during an exceedingly windy day, I couldn’t stop laughing. Compared to humans, ponies were a lot more open with words, lewd comments, and even public displays of affection. Let it be said that some of the more “rough” ponies, like Applejack, cursed like sailors.

“Ah can’t get tha...Celestia-damned...thing...” she was cursing out loud in grunts, still oblivious to my approach.

I stepped under one of the trees and noticed a certain blonde tail sticking out of it. As tempting as it was to yank on the pretty tail to scare her, I resisted for a few reasons. First of all, I had learned over time that even though these ponies were sapient like humans, their prey instincts still held fast. This meant that they felt safer in numbers, would rather run than fight (unless challenged by another pony), and tended to be quite a bit more jumpy than the average human. Also, Twilight had been kind enough to advise me when I pulled on her tail (thankfully in private) that although I was simply trying to get her attention, such a gesture could be considered a very strong suggestive gesture of a sexual nature, or a challenge to fight, depending on who was involved.

So instead...

“APPLEJACK!” I shouted loudly from just below.

She shouted out in surprise and fell backwards, but thankfully for me another thing about ponies defied physics...

*THUD*

They were a lot lighter than humans were, even with similar mass and more physical strength.

I chuckled as I held her in my arms, her side against my chest. “Well hey there, partner.”

She sighed and rolled her eyes. “Well thanks fer catchin’ me Jamie, even if it was yer fault Ah fell.”

I gently set her down onto her hooves and brushed my shirt off with a grin. “Anything I can do to keep you on your toes...er, hooves. Whatever, you know what I mean.”

She chuckled and nodded. “Yeah, Ah know what ya mean.” She picked her hat up off the ground and patted it against her side to dust it, then set it back atop her head. “So what are ya doin’ ‘round here?”

My smile fell and I took a knee so that I could look eye-to-eye with her. “First off, I want to apologize.”

“Jamie, ya don’t need to.” she replied as her expression darkened a bit.

I shook my head. “No...no, I do. The fact of the matter is that I acted like a breedcolt (a horrendously derogatory term that implies the colt that is the target of the insult is good for little more than making more ponies).”

“Woah.” she responded, waving her hoof at me while shaking her head. “It ain’t that bad.”

I sighed and said, “Making two of the toughest mares in Ponyville cry is a pretty big deal, Applejack.”

She shook her head. “Ah might be a farmpony, but Ah think ponies ‘round here got tha wrong idea. Ah’m still a normal pony, and Ah still got emotions. Mah feelin’s can get hurt just like everypony else.”

I nodded. “Exactly, and that’s why I’m apologizing. I don’t care that you think I didn’t do anything wrong. The point is, I feel I was wrong.”

She stood her ground for a moment before deflating a bit in defeat. “Fine, then Ah forgive ya. Happy now?”

I smirked. “A little. Anyway, the other reason I came by is because Twilight told me you could use some help pruning the trees. I need something to do to keep from feeling useless, and Twilight said that you tend to have trouble doing it.”

“Ah can prune these branches just fine.” she defended sternly, a rather harsh scowl on her face.

I shook my head with my hands held up. “I didn’t say you couldn’t, I just figured that maybe it’d be easier to have someone help you that doesn’t have to climb the tree to do it. Besides, I’m rather handy.” I demonstrated by wiggling my fingers in front of her face. When she didn’t seem convinced, I added, “Please. I feel like an invalid, sitting around with nothing to contribute. Now that it’s a sure thing I’m going to be here for the foreseeable future, I want to make sure I’m not just ‘the funny-looking bum’.”

She squinted at me for a few moments before sighing and tossing the shears to me, and I found a disturbing part of my brain thinking how skilled she was with her mouth.

I’m going to need therapy...

I caught the shears and adjusted the loops so they were as tight as they could be, hugging the handles so that they would be out of the way. I looked up to Applejack and asked, “Alright then, where do I start?”

She pointed ahead of me and answered, “Just get all tha gala apples today. We’ll do the rest during tha next couple’a days, iffin’ yer still set on helpin’.”

I nodded. “I am.”

She offered a grateful smile before pointing up at the tree we were currently under. “Should be pretty easy for ya ta spot tha dead branches...they’ll be tha ones with dyin’ leaves on ‘em. Just clip ‘em off at tha base.”

I raised my eyebrow as I asked, “I don’t think these shears are going to be enough if I come across a big branch.”

She shook her head. “Ah already checked tha trees. All tha bigger branches are healthy, so y’all should be able ta handle it jus’ fine. Ah’ll be tendin’ to tha cows if ya need me.”

As she trotted away I shrugged and got to work, glad to have something constructive to do.


I finished the job just as the sun began to descend the sky from its midway point, and I was a hot mess. I was sweaty, dirty, scratched up in a few places, and exhausted. Still, I was also happy that I had done something helpful around here, as the more I had time to think about things, I realized I needed to pay back these ponies for their help and hospitality.

One of the (steadily increasing) number of things I had come to like about Equestria was the fact that its night and day was very punctual and regimented. During the summer, for example, the sun rose every morning at 5:00 a.m. and set at 8:00 p.m. It meant that most times, I could estimate the time of day simply by judging the position of the sun itself. Another strange yet nice thing was the fact that I could look directly at the sun without it hurting, and without worrying about damage to my eyes. To be able to actually look at the great star that gave a world heat and light was an indescribably surreal thing. After all, as a human, I was taught at a young age that while the sun gave us heat and light, it could also burn and/or blind us. Not so with the Equestrian sun. Instead, the only thing one had to worry about was getting too hot if one stayed out in the sun too long. There was no such thing as sunburns, and just like people at night would look up fondly at the moon, ponies would look up at the sun in silent thanks to their princess of the day.

I looked up at the sky and figured it was somewhere around two in the afternoon, so I used the cart that Applejack left nearby and set about gathering up all the branches that I had clipped. True that she hadn’t directly asked me to, but I was smart enough not to leave a job only halfway done.

“Heads up!” shouted a familiar raspy voice from above.

I had learned pretty quickly what that warning meant, so I quickly dove to the side just in time to dodge a rainbow-streaked bullet as it skimmed the ground and hit the fence a few dozen yards away.

I jumped up and dusted myself off before jogging over to the impact point. “Rainbow Dash, are you alright?”

A few grunts later and the mentioned pegasus climbed up and over the hill she had rolled down. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m good.”

Her mane was sticking a few different directions, being more messy than it usually was. There was a large amount of dirt, grass, and leaves stuck in her mane, tail, and coat. To put it simply, she looked like she was attacked by Equis itself.

I raised my eyebrow as I stopped next to the broken fence, noticing she was limping a bit and wincing as one wing held limply at her side. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” she answered before wincing again and shaking her head. “Actually no, I’m not fine.” She slowly limped over past the fence before sitting down on her haunches.

I looked her over again and noticed that she was bleeding from several abrasions along her cheek, shoulder, and flank. I kneeled to look at her better and commented, “Seems like the ground won that fight.”

She glared at me. “Ha ha, you’re hilarious.” She then motioned to her hanging wing. “Would you mind helping me out?”

I nodded. “Sure. What do you need me to do?”

She jerked her head towards her wing. “I need you to grab the base of my wing, right where it connects to my back. It’s dislocated, and I need you to put it back in place.”

I made my way to her side and asked, “Is this a regular injury for you?”

She chuckled lightly and shook her head. “I wouldn’t say regular, but it has happened before. Usually Twi would help me out, but since you’re here I don’t have to bother her.” I grasped the part she asked me to, and she hissed a bit in pain as she grit her teeth. After a moment she said, “Alright, now when I tell you I’m ready, I need you to-”

“I’ve set a dislocated joint before. I know what to do.” I explained. I then picked up a piece of the broken fence and handed it to her, which she took in her mouth and bit down on. She took a couple deep breaths before nodding, and in one quick movement, I yanked the wingbase away from her back, resulting in a loud and rather disturbing pop. I looked to Rainbow Dash to see tears coming from her eyes as she whimpered in pain. After a few moments however, the wing retracted to fold against her body, so I let it go and moved around to her front.

She spit out the chunk of wood and sighed. “Sonuva whorse, that sucked.”

I sat in silence for a few moments as she caught her breath, but eventually the quiet got to me as I blurted out, “So, I’m going to be sticking around here, I guess.”

She was still taking deep breaths through her nose, but nodded without looking at me. “Yeah...I heard.”

I was again silent for a few seconds before asking, “So are we not going to talk about how big of a dick I was?”

She snorted and turned completely away from me. “Only if you’re ready to-”

“Rainbow Dash, I’m sorry.” I interrupted.

She looked at me for a moment and blinked rapidly a few times. “Um, okay. That was easy.”

I shrugged. “Apologies come easy for someone that realizes they’ve been a big fucking asshole.”

“I take it the word ‘ass’ isn’t referring to a donkey, right?” she asked.

I nodded. “Correct.”

She nodded as well. “Yeah, you kinda have been.”

“I just thought I was leaving, so I didn’t see the reason to make friends with any of you just to ditch this place.” I explained.

She frowned slightly as she asked, “Why, are we not good enough to be your friends or something? Is it because we’re ponies and you just see us as animals?”

I shook my head. “It’s neither, actually. I’m just a coward is all.”

Her frown thankfully disappeared as she tilted her head in confusion. “Why are you a coward?”

I sighed as I felt my shoulders droop from shame. “Because I would rather not make any friends at all than to have to say goodbye to them. It’s a pain I’ve been through more than a few times, and one I wasn’t keen to relive.”

Rainbow Dash stared at me for a few moments before sighing as her head lowered towards the ground. “Well, I guess I can’t really be mad at you for that. We’re all afraid of things.” She then looked back up at me with a pained expression. “The others don’t know, but I told Vinyl and Octavia. I guess it’s really up to you to tell the other three about all of this, but you need to go to Vinyl’s house first. And just to warn you ahead of time, she’s not gonna be anywhere near as nice as I am.”

I winced, then nodded. “Yeah...I suppose not. Luckily Tavi’s there, so she’ll buffer the blows a bit.”

She chuckled and shook her head. “Don’t bet on it. That mare might be prim and proper on the outside, but get her mad and she’s liable to hang you from a tree with her cello strings.”

“Eeeugh...” I groaned as I turned away. “Well thanks for the pep talk, Rainbow Dash. I hope you come to my funeral. Do a rainboom over it or something.”

She shoulder-checked me as I stood, causing me to stumble a bit. I had to remind myself that such a gesture was actually a friendly action between buddies with ponies (though generally not stallions), so I returned the gesture as I stood again, causing her to stumble to the side as well.

She chuckled lightly and said, “Finally getting the hang of things, hm?”

I shrugged as I dusted off my pants again. “A bit. Some things still don’t make sense to me though. Like that thing some of the mares do where they swat at your butt with their tail.”

Her happy expression changed to surprise as she asked, “Somepony hit your flank with her tail?”

I nodded as I answered, “Yeah. I was in town the week after Twilight took me in; she was showing me around Ponyville. Anyway, the first time it happened I passed it off as an accident. It happened like five more times though, each time by a different pony. From what I can tell, ponies don’t wag their tails like dogs do, so I figured it had to be on purpose.”

She blushed a bit for some reason, which made me nervous.

Rainbow Dash nodded after a few seconds of silence. “Oh yeah, that was on purpose alright.”

Her expression started to make my mind run in directions I didn’t want it to go. I sighed and asked, “I’m going to regret asking, but what does that mean?”

The blush on her cheeks darkened slightly as she answered, “It’s a subtle way of one pony telling another pony she’s interested in them. Only mares do it, and by ‘interested’, I don’t mean in a friend sort of way.”

I raised my eyebrows. “So I had ponies dropping nonverbal pickup lines all day?”

Rainbow Dash shrugged. “I guess that’s one way of looking at it.”

“What the hell is wrong with the ponies around here?” I asked in exasperation. “I mean I’m not even a native of this place, and I’m about as ‘out there’ as you can get. I don’t act like a normal male from around here, I can’t do magic or fly, and I can’t even read. What the fuck is so interesting about me?”

Apparently my voice had been a little more forceful than I’d meant, because Rainbow Dash was looking up at me guiltily, as if she’d done something wrong.

I sighed and closed my eyes. “I’m sorry...it’s just that I’m not sure how to deal with this.” I opened my eyes and looked into her rose-colored eyes as I asked, “So what’s so interesting about me?”

Her guilt washed away as she explained, “Well first of all, ponies aren’t really all that exclusive when it comes to race. There’s ponies who are with griffons, a few with the desert horses of Saddle Arabia, and I’ve even heard of a pony that married a diamond dog before.” She lifted one of her hooves and gestured to me. “The way you look isn’t really a problem...trust me. In fact, it’s probably because you’re the only one of your kind that so many of the mares around here like you. You know, the whole ‘exotic rarity’ thing...I think that’s what it’s called anyway.”

I groaned as I facepalmed. “I swear, I feel like the way a human girl must feel. Seems everywhere I go I’m getting leered at now. I really need to get Twilight to lay out all the body language things so that I don’t miss anything important.”

“That would probably be a good idea.” she replied.

Suddenly a realization hit me, and I felt very awkward all of the sudden. “Ah shit...”

“What?” Rainbow Dash asked worriedly.

I looked down at her and said, “One of those ponies that did the ‘tail-brush’ thingy was Vinyl.”

“Oh...” she said awkwardly.

I nodded. “Yeah, and now I’m about to go and explain to a mare that may or may not like me in a way I don’t like her that I was about to leave her and this world behind without even telling her.” I chuckled darkly. “You know, I was joking earlier about the funeral thing, but I think she actually might kill me now.” I shrugged as I turned and grabbed the two arms of the cart, pulling it with me towards the barn. “Well, might as well get it over with.” As I began making my way towards the barn, I looked back at Rainbow Dash and frowned. “We need to get you cleaned up though. Follow me.”

“Jay, I’m fine. It’s just a few scratches.” she replied nonchalantly.

I shook my head. “Scratches can easily become infected if they’ve got contaminates in them, like dirt. So unless you want to get sick and have bald patches because of scars, let me help you out.”

She looked a little unsure, but finally relented. “Alright fine.”

As Rainbow Dash came up along my side, I couldn’t resist reaching out a hand and patting her head as if she were a dog. “Good girl.”

Instead of batting my hand away like I expected her to, she just rolled her eyes at me as we continued making our way towards the barn in the distance.


It was only a five or so minute walk to the barn, but when Rainbow Dash and I arrived, Applejack was waiting for us there, apparently seeing us approaching.

When she saw her friend’s appearance though, she gasped in surprise. “RD, what happened to ya?”

Rainbow Dash smiled sheepishly. “Heh, umm...I may have crashed into your fence.”

Applejack raised her eyebrow. “Again?”

“Again...” she replied with her head hung low.

The farmpony shook her head before looking to me. “Well thanks a lot for yer help, Jamie. Ah can take ‘em from here.”

I nodded. “Sounds good. Can you get a damp washcloth though? I’m gonna get Rainbow Dash cleaned up.”

Applejack nodded before trotting out of the barn, leaving me and the other pony alone together.

“You don’t have to call me by my full name every time, you know.” Rainbow Dash commented.

I shrugged. “I haven’t thought of an embarrassing nickname yet.”

For the first time since I’d known her, she giggled. Not a chuckle or a boisterous laugh, but a light, girly giggle. It was cute.

“You can just call me Rainbow, or Dash. I guess you could call me RD too, but that’s more of AJ’s thing.” she replied with a grin.

I looked to the newly-nicknamed Dash and smiled. “Dash it is then.” I finished pulling the cart inside the barn and brought it aside so it was out of the way of the doors, then turned around and took a seat on a stool that was beside one of the walls. I crossed my arms behind my head and leaned back, resting my head. “So Dash, when did you meet Applejack? I mean I know when you all became the Elements of Harmony, but I don’t really know all that much about you all before that.”

I heard as she trotted over to me and answered, “Oh, well I’ve known AJ for a long time, almost as long as I’ve known Fluttershy. I was only twelve when I first started living on my own in Ponyville, and I met AJ by crashing into her...and her apple cart.”

“Great first meeting.” I mused.

“Yeah.” she answered with a snort of a laugh. “Anyway, Applejack tied my wings down with a knot only she could undo, and then she told me she wouldn’t undo the rope until I helped pay her back for her broken cart. So for the next week, I spent time working the farm with her, staying in her guestroom. I was pretty mad at first because I couldn’t fly, but AJ actually turned out to be pretty cool. After that week, I wanted to be closer so that I could visit her more often, so I moved my house closer to Sweet Apple Acres. We spent almost every day hanging out after I would see ‘Shy in the mornings, so we became good friends. She’s probably one of the only ponies who’s as tough as I am.”

“Tough enough ta kick yer flank for breakin’ mah fence...again.” Applejack chimed in from behind me.

Applejack trotted up from behind and allowed me to pull the washcloth off of her back, while Rainbow Dash nervously rubbed the back of her head with a hoof. “Heh, sorry AJ.”

The farmpony stared intently at her friend for a few moments before shaking her head with a smile. “Ah guess Ah can forgive ya if ya help me fix that section. B’sides, Ah’m just happy ya ain’t hurt too bad.”

Dash winced a bit as I began gently wiping the scrape on her cheek, but offered her friend a smile. “Nah, you know me. It’d take more than the ground to put me out of commission.”

I opted not to mention the dislocated wing to Applejack, and just continued wiping down the different abrasions along Rainbow Dash’s left side. It was when I reached her behind that I stopped. “Um...”

Dash looked to me in confusion. “What’s wrong?”

I met her eyes and said, “Well, the last one is on your flank, and I feel a little uncomfortable just rubbing your ass without asking.”

Both mares were used to my way of speech, since such words were common for them as well. Rainbow Dash nodded to me as she said, “That’s good that you asked. Normally, it’s a big no-no to touch another pony’s flank, but since you’re cleaning off scrapes, it’s all good. Go ahead.”

I shrugged. “Alright then. This one’s deeper than the rest, so bear with me here.”

As I wiped the wound, she suddenly jumped away with a cry of pain. “Ow! What the hay, something’s poking me!”

“Turn around and stay still.” I ordered, and she obeyed without question. I looked close (yes, it felt weird staring at her butt, even if it was a pony’s flank) and noticed a small bit of wood sticking out of the cut. “You’ve got a chunk of the fence stuck in there. Hold still for just a second.” I reached out with my thumb and index finger and grasped the piece before yanking it free. Again she jumped away, but looked to me with concern instead of surprise as I held the wooden shard in my fingers, bloodied at one side. “There we go. Now let me finish cleaning it and you’ll be all set.”

“You know, stallions don’t usually do stuff like this.” Dash commented.

I shrugged as I finished wiping clean the last scrape. “I guess it’s okay then, because I’m not a stallion. Besides, red clashes with your coat too much. My OCD would drive me nuts if I let it stay that way.”

When she turned back to look at me, I could see Dash was blushing a little bit. “Well, thanks for the help, Jay. I guess I’ll see you later then, providing you’re still alive.” She wasted no time in zooming away, leaving a cloud of dust in her wake.

“Why wouldn’t ya be alive?” Applejack asked curiously as she watched the retreating pegasus.

I shrugged. “Because Vinyl’s probably going to kill me. And if she doesn’t, Octavia will. Either way, I’m dead, so it was nice knowing you.”

She chuckled as I stood. “Well when yer done bein’ dead, come back here. Ah got somethin’ Ah wanna show ya.”

I nodded as I made my way to the barn doors. “Wish me luck then, AJ.” ‘I’m gonna need it.’