• Published 10th Jun 2013
  • 3,967 Views, 285 Comments

When The Mare Comes Around - nanashi_jones



I woke up in a shallow grave off Highway 5. When I dug myself out, I was Applejack. And trouble followed with me.

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Lately I Been Leanin’ Toward the Blues

I sat on Max’s bed, looking at his computer. He was in the bathroom, cleaning up all the dirt I’d left behind.

Max was basically my best friend. We’d known each other since forever and he was technically my first kiss, though it’d been a dare. We’d gone to high school together and while he probably could have gone to any brainy ass college he stayed local and did a scholarship at a technical because, “Why spend money when I’m just going to read the books on my own?”

The night of our high school graduation he got wasted and told me and a few of his other friends he stayed because of us. He was too hung over the next day to remember it, but I do and it’s one of the nicer things anyone’s ever told me.

He lived in an apartment only an exit or two away from Syracuse. It was a one bedroom, one bathroom, tiny thing and he kept it tidy. Max was a tidy kind of guy.

“Well, that’s a mess I never thought I’d have to clean up,” he said, coming into the bedroom in jeans without a shirt.

I could see some of the dirt that had been in my fur was on his hands and his usually styled brown hair was mussed. Little smudges of dirt were on his jeans, his cheeks just beneath his glasses, his arms.

If I couldn’t remember dunking his head in the kiddie pool to proclaim my dominance, among other childhood activities, I’d probably feel something about how good he looked. Because Max wasn’t bad looking. At all. He definitely dated more than me. A friend of mine had once asked me why I hadn’t tapped that. I’d just looked at Max and sure, there was a slim, adorkable dude there, but he was my bro. Weird would not begin to cover it.

“Sorry,” I said, laying my head on the bed.

“Hey, it’s okay. You kinda woke up as Applejack in a grave after a car accident. This definitely falls under the ‘Dire Stuff’ clause of our friendship.”

He plopped into the chair in front of his computer and leaned back.

“How you holding up Rae?”

I sighed, shrugged, looked away.

Max had come and got me by dint of some trick he had me do with my phone, where Google Maps zeroed in on my location. I directed him there with it. I cried pretty much the whole time till he arrived, stumbling down the embankment to find me hunched over my stuff.

He stared at me.

I’d probably stare at me too.

Then he got down and wrapped me in this big comforting hug telling me it was alright, he was there. He picked up my purse, got my phone and carried me back to his car. He put me in the back seat and talked soft, reassuring nonsense all the way back to his place. There, he tried to carry me up the stairs to his apartment, but he started wheezing after the third stair and I figured he’d used up his Superman for the day getting me up the embankment.

I jumped out of his arms to navigate my way up. It was slow going. I was still figuring out walking in this body.

Inside, he guided me to the bathroom and washed me down.

Max is pretty metrosexual, so he had all these nice shampoos and loofahs that he used to get all the dirt out of my coat, my mane and my tail. All the crying had me numb again, so I just let him work.

It was like that time I’d gotten plastered on New Years and taken a header into some bushes. Only, now I wasn’t sitting down, singing “Tom Sawyer” as he laughed while scrubbing me clean. I was a pony fresh from a grave. I missed that New Years.

He started snorting halfway into cleaning me and when I turned to glare at him he showed me the bottle he was using.

Mane n’ Tail.

We cracked up. I kinda needed to laugh at that point.

After he toweled me off, I just wandered across the hall to his bedroom, scrambled up to his bed and plopped down to stare at his computer and feel burned out. Fear creeped around the edges of the burned out feeling though. Fear and worry and... Something else. Something... Comforting? Hell if I know where that came from.

“I figured as much,” Max said, nodding and looking away. “You need me to call anyone? Work? Your parents?”

“If you could...” I said. God, I sounded pathetic.

Max smiled though and rose up, tapping out numbers on his phone while looking at my phone. I heard him talking in the next room. My hearing was a lot better than it used to be, my ears moving to find the sound and zero in on it.

“Hey, who am I talking to? Hey Tim, this is Max Adams. I’m a friend of Rachel Shelton... Yeah. Yeah I know she isn’t. Can you transfer me to a manager or someone? Thanks.” His foot tapped. “Hey, who’s this? Hi Travis, my name’s Max Adams. I’m a friend of Rachel...”

I turned my ears away. Since my ears didn’t normally do that, on top of feeling awkward about Max calling in for me, I got to deal with feeling weird about my own ears. Freaking great.

I looked over at the cage where Max kept his ferret, Omega, who was sniffing the edge of his covering furiously. I sniffed back and realized his ferret smell wasn’t as bad any more. Musky still and definitely ferret, but... I felt like I got more than just him being stinky. I could almost make out a bit of the who Omega was. Just by smell. More weird.

“How’s your day, Omega?” I said with a small smile. “Everything good in ferret land?”

Omega backed away from the plastic wall and bent his body up in the middle with a wiggle of his shoulders. He seemed to be giving me a so-so expression.

How did I know that?

“Called your job,” Max said, coming in. “Travis was alright with a day or two of sick leave and I left your Mom a message you were with me.”

I nodded, taking my gaze away from Omega and his weirdness.

“Thanks,” I said.

“No problem, pardner.”

I scowled at him.

Max chuckled, but raised his hands in peace. “Sorry. Couldn’t resist. Did you know when you scowl it is absurdly cute. Like, I figured AJ would have a decent grouchy face, but I’m full-on resisting the urge to cuddle the crap out of you right now.”

“Keep on resistin’,” I drawled. I was getting used to the voice, strange as it was.

“Fair enough,” he said, plopping back into his computer chair. He leaned back, squeaking it, looking at me.

“So. Walk me through last night again.”

I did.

I got off work at 10:30, thanks to some truly dick moves by my bosses, and drove home taking Highway 5 like I usually did. Nothing special happened until a pair of headlights flashed their brights at me from behind. I ignored them since I was already speeding a bit and not looking to get a ticket, but then they started swerving. A lot.

I slowed down and changed lanes to let this problem pass when I got tagged by the car. It felt like a hard bump and I’d called him a few names and then I got hit hard and it all got confusing.

“I woke up in the dirt,” I said hollowly. “I managed to dig out before I suffocated.”

Max nodded.

“I went to my car. Got my phone...” I shrugged. “You know the rest.”

Max blew air out through his mouth and ran a hand through his hair. He glanced away, then back to me.

“Okay,” he said. “Okay. We gotta call the cops.”

“And tell them what?” I asked. “Oh, hey officer, I got run off the road last night, but I don’t have identification and even if I did it doesn’t look like me at all.”

“I can vouch for you,” Max said. “With all the people becoming ponies, I’m sure there’s some precedence for it.”

I stared at him like he’d just started speaking Klingon.

“What?” I asked, blinking too much. “People doing what now?”

“Ponies, Rae. Like from the My Little Pony show?”

I’d made that connection, but since I didn’t expect Max to be this ready with an explanation, I just stared even more.

He sighed, smiling a little. “Okay. Like, you’re Applejack? There’s a kid who passed through Toronto as Rainbow Dash, just to have breakfast. And then there’s this girl from Reno- she’s Fluttershy and they’re all headed here. Now.”

“Here?” I said, pointing down with my hoof to indicate his apartment.

“No, not my place. New York! Here...”

Max spun around and pulled up a browser. I flicked my tail, frowning at it. I felt like I needed it tied off, but I had no idea how to go about that with my hooves. Same for my mane. Didn’t Applejack always have both tied off in the show? I’ll have to rewatch some episodes, I guess.

“Here, watch.”

Max enlarged a Youtube video and wheeled out of the way, so I could see the screen. It showed a press conference with a kind of dumpy looking guy leaving a podium. Then the press conference was joined by a pair of horses, one white and the other blue, with manes and tails that looked more like flowing light than hair. They also had wings and horns and were wearing some really expensive looking jewelry. They looked familiar. Like I should know their names or something...

“I-I…" The white pony looked uncertain, then swallowed and went on. "I know you must all be, uh, shocked about this. Believe me, I am too. But please don't doubt me when I say that I am really Lauren Faust, and she...” The pony calling herself Lauren gestured to the blue one who was a little smaller than her. “Is really Tara Strong."

I leaned forward, transfixed by the talking pony. I felt a kind of... Awe of her. Of both of them, really.

"The reason I called this conference today is not to tell the world about what happened to us. As you can see, it's obvious," she said, gesturing to herself. "I called for this because this is the only way to assure that I am heard by my target audience. You see…"

Clearing her throat, I saw something settle in her, like she was taking charge of a situation. It reminded me of my mom when she’d take charge of some really unruly kids or decide how to talk to me about “important stuff.”

"There is one other out there who is like us. I don't know who, or where, but somewhere there is a person just like us. Changed. Into a pony."

I glanced down at my hooves. “Well, duh,” I said.

“Shh,” Max responded. “This is the important bit.”

"But this will not be the case for very long," Lauren went on. "Everyday, someone else is affected, and this will continue until–" She stopped and the authority in her bearing faded a bit, her head ducking down. "Yet, the most important thing I have to say yet is this, to those that find themselves changed."

Then her eyes rose and she found the camera that was recording and I got a chill as it felt like she was looking right at me.

"If any of you find yourself to be an Element of Harmony, I need your help. You need to come to New York.”

She held the look for a beat longer, then broke contact. "No further comment," she said almost muttering as she stepped down.

The video ended in a freeze as she and the blue pony started walking off and an eruption of questions came along. Other links popped up to suggest similar videos. What could be similar to that, I had no clue.

“You see?” Max said.

“Not... Really. Who was that? She looked awful familiar.” I blinked. “I mean, really. She looked really familiar.” Great, now I was talking like my cousin, Abbie.

“That was Lauren Faust and Tara Strong. Lauren started the show and she got turned into Celestia, who’s the princess that raises the sun and Tara’s one of the lead voice actresses and she’s now Princess Luna, who raises the moon.”

“Uh-huh,” I said, nodding incredulously.

Max sighed, rolling his eyes in exasperation.

“Mind holding off the sarcasm Miss Applejack?”

I winced. “Sorry.”

“So now they, and all the other ponies that want to help, and the Elements are going to New York to figure this out.”

“What’s that got to do with me?” I asked, still clearly missing something. I remembered Luna and Celestia now. I’d seen some art on Max’s desktop and one of the episodes I’d watched had the white pony princess in it. I couldn’t see what he meant about the Elements though.

Max facepalmed at me and I could tell he was struggling to keep calm. I appreciated it. Even after the soap, I could still taste bits of dirt in my teeth and probably wasn’t going to react well to anyone yelling any time soon.

“You’re Applejack,” Max said. “The Element of Honesty. You’ve been called by your princess to go to New York, help the other Mane 6 and save the world from whatever’s caused so many people to start becoming ponies.”

He leaned back and just like in D&D or when he was drunk at a party, I could see the last words slipped right out.

“It’s your destiny.”