• Published 12th Sep 2013
  • 1,278 Views, 22 Comments

Canterlot Wondercolts - risingdusk

Applejack juggles school, work, and family problems, while also helping her friends' relationship problems and falling in love without realising it.

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Chapter 2

"Come on, Angel Bunny, you really should eat just a little more," Fluttershy said as she tried to convince a small white bunny to finish eating its carrot. Applejack knew that bunny very well, ironically named Angel. As far as Applejack was concerned, that animal was a creature of the devil. How Fluttershy had the patience to deal with such a testy rabbit was beyond the cowgirl.

Then again, Fluttershy was most at home inside the shelter. At school or in any social setting, the pink-haired girl was timid and often soft spoken. Well, she was still soft spoken now, but if she was around strangers, sometimes it was impossible to hear her. Here, surrounded by all of her "animal friends," it was like she was a whole different person. The animals responded to her words, and the way they interacted, Applejack swore she could understand them.

The cowgirl had just finished patting a small brown dog, giving it a good scratch behind the ears before leading it back in its cage, when Fluttershy joined her. They had spent the whole afternoon bathing nearly every animal, including the mean cats and the playful dogs, then grooming and feeding them, and now Applejack was ready to hit the hay. At the mention of it, a yawn escaped her, and she stretched while letting it out. Her limbs were extra sore after all of the harvesting from earlier in the week.

"Thank you so much for helping me with the animals, Applejack," Fluttershy stated. "I didn't know how I was going to manage all by myself, since the owner went away for the day. I'm so glad you came to help."

"Awh, shucks, it's no big deal, Shy," Applejack responded, shrugging.

"Oh but I really do appreciate it. It's so nice for the animals to get to see new faces." Fluttershy paused, and Applejack looked over at her friend with concern. Her pretty teal eyes were watering, and for a moment Applejack thought that her friend was going to start crying. But with a long blink and a deep sigh, Fluttershy was able to compose herself once again, wearing a sad smile. "It's just, they're so lonely and I wish I could just take them all home with me. But I couldn't possibly fit them all in my room, and besides I see them faithfully every day."

"Well that's real kind of you, Fluttershy." The cowgirl already knew this; for as long as they knew each other Fluttershy was to the animal shelter as Applejack was to her farm. Deciding to change the topic, she asked, "So how's the rest of the gang doing? I ain't hardly seen none of them since summer's started, being busy with the farm and all."

"Oh, I guess they're alright," Fluttershy stammered. "I mean, except for Rainbow, but I'm hoping she'll be okay."

"Huh? What's wrong with Dash?"

Hiding behind her pink mane of hair, Fluttershy lowered her head and shuffled her feet awkwardly. "I'd rather not talk about it. It's really personal to her and I don't want her getting mad at me..."

When her shy friend got like this, Applejack knew it was time to drop it. Making a mental note to check on Rainbow Dash when she next got the chance, the farm girl reached into her pants pocket and pulled out her keys. "So, how're you getting home, Shy? Your room mate coming to pick you up?"

"Um, well I don't have a room mate anymore." Her voice was even softer, and Applejack had the distinct feeling that she missed a lot more than she bargained for this summer. She really needed to make a better effort to keep in contact with her friends from the looks of things.

"So much for dependable," Applejack muttered out loud, shaking her head as she twirled the keys in her fingers.

Fluttershy must have heard because she shot her head up and gave an anxious look. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to...I wasn't trying to say...You're a good friend, Applejack! Lyra just moved out last week to live with her parents again, so you couldn't have known..."

"I should have though," the cow girl argued. "You're my friends, and I don't even know what's going on anymore. I've just been too darn busy."

"But everyone knows that it's Applebucking season, Applejack," Fluttershy countered, though she cowered slightly as if expecting rebuke. "No one blames you..."

"That's not the point, Shy." Releasing a hiss of frustration, Applejack tried to calm down when she saw Fluttershy visibly flinch. "Sorry, but I can't help feeling I'm letting y'all down by not keeping up. How in the hay can I call myself a good friend if I ain't even there for y'all?"

"That's not true," ventured Fluttershy. To Applejack's amazement, the timid girl managed to lock eyes and even look stern. "You took time from your farm to come and help me at the shelter, didn't you? And if one of our other friends would have come to you asking for help, you would be there for them just like now."

Silence stretched for a moment as Applejack tried to think of something to say back, but when it lasted too long, Fluttershy returned to trying to hide behind her hair. "I'm...I'm sorry, Applejack, I didn't mean to get mad. I just don't like seeing you so upset..."

"Awh, it's okay, Shy. You didn't make me mad, just made me think. Say, why don't I take you back home? Reckon you don't want to walk that far."

"Oh, it's okay. I don't want to be a bother..."

"Shy," Applejack started, raising an eyebrow. "You ain't a bother, you're my friend. Now come on, truck's just out back."

After a meek "okay" the pair of them walked in silence, enjoying the beautiful day Ponyville had to offer. That was one of the nice things about Fluttershy; the two of them were good friends that shared each other's company without the need to talk. It was a nice comfortable silence, allowing Applejack time to reflect.

It bothered her about Rainbow Dash. Their next practice was in three days, and unless Applejack happened to meet up before, she planned on learning the truth then. Fluttershy didn't mention the rest of the girls, so Applejack assumed, or at least hoped, that they were okay.

The truck greeted them at last. It wasn't much of a ride; chips of orange paint peeled off various places, mud was splashed up on the sides, and there was a large dent on one of the doors. But it was Applejack's baby, and she was very possessive and proud of it. When they entered, both of the tall girls almost had to jump into the cab. The brown cushion seats attempted to swallow the pair whole, but Applejack resisted as she inserted the key in the ignition and turned it.

The truck whined, not wanting to move yet, and even tried to convince Applejack to lay back in its comfortable seats. The farm girl growled as she tried again. And again. And again.

"Come on, you piece of crap," Applejack exclaimed, pounding her fist on the steering wheel. "I love you, but I ain't gonna push you all the way to Sweet Apple Acres."

Beside her, Fluttershy chuckled softly. "I thought you loved your truck."

"I do, but dangit, if this darn thing don't start up, I swear I'll junk her myself."

"Maybe you should ask it nicely. That's what I do to for my animal friends and they listen."

Applejack threw her an incredulous look, and Fluttershy almost had a hint of a grin behind that innocent expression. "Shy, this ain't no animal."

Instead of addressing her, Fluttershy looked at the vinyl dashboard and gave it a small pat. "Um, excuse me, Miss Truck? Could you please start up for us? I'm sure you don't want to make Applejack upset..."

Rolling her eyes, the farm girl turned the key once again, and the truck roared to life. Applejack stared blankly in disbelief before saying, "Awh that was just dumb luck. But we best get a move on 'fore it gets too dark."

The only response she received was a another soft laugh.

It was a good fifteen minute drive to Fluttershy's cottage, since her shy friend chose to live on the outskirts of town, not too far from Sweet Apple Acres. The scenery changed around them slowly, the shops and townhomes melding into suburban homes that grew more and more sparce until trees were all that passed the windows.

A thought occurred to her just as she turned into the small dirt road that led the way to Fluttershy's home. "Wait a darn second, you said Lyra moved out?" A nod was her response, so Applejack continued. "But Shy, that means you're living by yourself?"

"Um, yes. But it's okay, really. I like being by myself though so it doesn't really bother me."

"But Shy, how're you gonna pay the rent? You ain't making enough at the shelter. You're not...you ain't gonna go back to your dad's are you?"

A loud squeak almost made Applejack press the brake, but she steeled herself. This was the typical reaction to the mention of her father. "N-no, Applejack. I'm, um, going to work with Rarity. She talked to her parents already, and they said it was okay."

"Well that's real kind of her," Applejack sighed in relief.

"Mhm. With the animal shelter and helping Rarity, I'll be fine."

"Sure hope so, Shy. You let me know if you need anything, will you?"

Fluttershy nodded shyly. The truck came to a stop right in front of the cottage. Just as always, Applejack was mindful of the beautiful gardens surrounding the place, the flowers painting the yard in very bright colours that reached all the way to the steps. When a summer breeze passed, it almost looked like a floral sea, with small animals as its inhabitants. The farmer often warned her friend about how the varmints could ruin the flowers, but when it came to animals, there was just no arguing with Fluttershy.

The door opened to let her friend exit. Just before she closed it though, Fluttershy said, "Thank you again for the ride. And the help. I really do appreciate it."

"It's no big deal, Shy."

"I'll see you again later...oh. Are you coming to Pinkie Pie's party?"

"What's the occasion this time?" Pinkie Pie was notorious for throwing parties, even for the silliest of things, but Applejack couldn't deny the fun in them.

"It's Twilight's and Flash's anniversary next month, I think. But Pinkie Pie wants to throw the party now, because we all know Twilight won't go to a party in the middle of the school year."

Snorting softly, Applejack could only imagine Twilight Sparkle's response. Even for a small quiz, the honour student would study to the point of an anxiety attack, let alone go to a party. "Yeah, I know what you mean. I'll see what I can do, alright Shy?"

"Okay. Um, don't think I'm forcing you or anything...I just thought I'd ask, but I'd completely understand if you don't."

"Don't worry about it, Shy. I'll see you around?"

"Mhm. 'Bye Applejack."

Author's Note:

Alright, first full chapter and not just a journal log. I meant to post this chapter yesterday, but whoops it hit seven in the morning, and I really needed to sleep. Darn you, work. Still a slow start, but we'll have some fun soon enough. :3

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