• Published 10th Dec 2013
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My Family and Other Equestrians - Blade Star

A HiE fic with a twist. Our protagonist is not alone. How does one approach being in Equestria, when their family is along for the ride?

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Chapter 65 - Making Plans

The zap apple harvest was complete, and at last we could all just lie down, rest, and relax. Gone were the desperate time limits and the mad dash across the orchards it caused. We now had a more than healthy safety net to get us through next winter. Hay, we could probably forgo cider season if we wanted to and still be okay financially. Despite our great success though, the Apples’ are still careful with their money. They aren’t tight with a bit by any means, but just because there’s a little to burn didn’t mean that we would be going out spending. Although to be fair, we did use some of the profits to fix up some of the older equipment. I also got the chance to have my room redone.

When I’d first moved into the Apple household in the latter half of the previous year, I’d been given the spare room in the house as temporary accommodation. Since I was probably going to be on this farm for the rest of my days, everypony agreed I deserved a more homely room. Firstly, the wallpaper was redone, in an apple theme naturally, but nonetheless it made the room a little brighter. I also had the chance to get myself a new bed. My old one was by no means uncomfortable but it was beginning to show its age. A couple of shelves were also added. Until this point I’d been keeping my steadily growing book collection in a pile on the small desk I had. Finally, I had Big Mac help me properly mount the Lunar Guard sabre I had been given by Luna as a Hearth’s Warming present; it took pride of place above my desk. To complete the set up, I had a few framed pictures put in, of my family, the Apples, me and AJ. It made me feel as if I’d lived here all my life.

If I’m honest (and as I live in the same house as the Element of Honesty, I suppose I ought to be) I am steadily finding it harder to recall things about Earth. Nothing major yet, it hasn’t even been a year. But when I was chatting with Dad the other day, I had to think hard to remember a few little things from not so long ago. Who knows, in time maybe I will simply forget my old world, or at least my life there.

Still, that was not really a major concern at the present time. I had far more important issues to worry about. I had a date. With Applejack. That last day of the zap apple harvest when she agreed, sent me absolutely clear over the moon. Of course, I naturally ran right into a metaphorical brick wall. I had no real experience of dating.

Due to my previous attitude to love, I had little in the way of experience. Until I came to Equestria, I’d never been kissed for goodness sake! Thus, aside from a few stories I’d heard over the years, most of which I concluded were hogwash, I had no experience in the complexities of dating. What the hay do you do anyways?

As a result, I stayed up a fair bit of that night thinking. I knew how AJ and I were going to get out, Luna had already agreed to assist me, and all I had to do was give her the nod. First things first was deciding on a location; I needed to take AJ somewhere she would like. Most of my limited understanding of dating was from film, the sort of thing Rarity would approve of. And while I’m sure a mare such as Rarity would absolutely adore the idea of a romantic candlelit dinner in a high class restaurant, the same could not be said for Applejack.

Applejack doesn’t really care for the false appearances created by finery and wealth, a sign of her connection to her element I suppose. She preferred to keep things simple and straightforward, one of the many reasons I like her. So pretty much every single typical, clichéd dating spot was out if I wanted to both impress her and show her a good time. I did know that I wanted to take her somewhere on Earth. Applejack has seen a fair portion of Equestria in her time, not to mention all the family she has scattered all over the shop. I toyed with the idea of the American West in its heyday, but I was forced to reject it. Giving Applejack an equalizer prior to going on our date would not give a good impression. Perhaps something more modern? I considered the idea of visiting New York, but I shot that down when I remembered her own history with Manehatten, which might not sit right with her. Plus, as Homer Simpson said ‘New York is a hellhole; and you know how I feel about hellholes’. I thought about maybe the idea of a cruise; maybe AJ and I could go on the QE2 or maybe even the Titanic, leaving before things went down the drain obviously.

But no, no matter what idea I came up with, I just couldn’t quite see it as working somehow. Applejack was a mare that focussed a great deal of time on work. When we weren’t busy looking after the farm, she was usually either resting up or thinking about what else needed to be done that week. Dammit, she needed this break if nothing else! But, because of her nature, I didn’t really have much of an idea of what she likes to do.

I then considered perhaps paying a visit to my mother country. With the right weather, Britain was a wonderful place, particularly the seaside and the open countryside. It would be something completely different. Whilst Trottingham is a rough analogue of modern Britain, particularly the north, it could not cover everything. I could take her first to London, maybe with a trip along the Thames.. Then take her out maybe to that little village me and Dad used to visit; Kingsclere, not too far from Watership Down. It would be more of a holiday than a date, but I figured that she would enjoy it all the same.

Yes, it would work well I decided. I had formed a general idea of what I wanted to do with Applejack on our little getaway/date/shared dream. Over the next several days I steadily began to flesh out an itinerary. Overall the dream would only be one night, and maybe a bit of the morning, but within the dream it would be two full days.

Now, to my mind, my idea sounded brilliant. However, given my lack of experience and occasional ability to do something catastrophically stupid, I went out over the weekend to sound out my ideas with a chosen few.

Whilst the weekend did represent a quieter part of the week in the Apple house, there was still usually a fair deal to do; farming doesn’t just stop for the weekend after all. Before I could head out into Ponyville to pay a visit to the usual suspects in matters of romance I had a few chores to do.

After getting up and having breakfast with everypony else, I had to go and help Big Mac move some of the stock around. As I said we had no real days off, but Applejack liked to have Sunday at the very least be a quiet day for us all, so all the preparation for next week was usually done on Saturday. The main job we had was getting out the various produce on offer and getting it all sorted out and ready in the carts for whoever had to watch the stall on Monday. I’d actually had my first go and running the Apples’ market stand on my own last week, and I’d done pretty well, bringing home just shy of one hundred and fifty bits in profit. Since I did so well, Applejack decided to work me into the staff rotation she had going on, so now three ponies were on hand not just two. In this instance she also asked if I could look after Apple Bloom on Monday. Instead of heading home, she’d join me at the stand to help out. As I’ve said many times before, the filly excels in pressure selling.

Anyway, Big Mac and I were out at one of the smaller barns in the southern orchard. It was this section from which we took the latest produce to send out to market. The system worked so that no stock was left for so long that it had a chance to turn bad, which was a waste of effort and energy, never mind the cost in profits. We’d loaded up several baskets and were taking them to the cart two at a time via specially adapted saddlebags. I could just about manage two of them at a time, but Big Mac, being an exceptional example of an earth pony was also able to take a third one on his back with little difficulty. Perhaps he was subconsciously doing this as a sort of ‘alpha male’ thing, just in case I forgot who was boss, unicorn or not.

Since it was just us two, I decided to take it as an opportunity to let Big Mac know what would be happening in a couple nights time. After all, I was taking AJ out on a date, and a long one at that. It would be somewhat disrespectful not to tell him what I was planning. As we loaded the baskets into the cart and turned to fetch the next load I spoke up.

“Hey, Mac, listen, Ah been meanin’ to tell ya somethin’,” The larger stallion tilted his head to the side inquisitively as he turned to look at me. I knew he would have no problem with it; I just wanted to let him know. “AJ and me were plannin’ on going on a date in a couple days.” He pondered this for a moment.

“Ya bring her back ‘fore dark, ya hear?” he said warningly. I did my best to stifle a chuckle.

“Well, ya see, that’s what Ah think you’re gonna like ‘bout this,” I said. Briefly, I explained the rough idea I had to take Applejack on a literal dream date, adding that the entire thing would take place under the watchful eye of Princess Luna. Not seriously of course, but as we would be dreaming, Luna would be able to check in on us as she pleased.

“That’s a mighty interestin’ idea ya got there, Bones,” he said after I finished my explanation. “So y’all are only gonna be away that one night?” I nodded.

“To us, it’ll seem like we’ve been gone a couple days. But to you, it’ll just be a normal night’s sleep. We’ll be up and ready to help on the farm as always. That okay?”

“Eeyup,” Big Mac affirmed. We then reached the barn and started back again with the last load.

With my chores completed and everything ready for my turn at the market again on Monday, I set off for Ponyville. I wanted to drop in on a few friends and use them as a sounding board for my ideas. After all, despite my steadily growing relationship with Applejack, I knew that I did not know as much as some of Ponyville’s residents. Naturally, they had known her longer than I had and might be able to tell me something to avoid a proverbial hoof in mouth moment. Plus, as any man knows, girls all talk to each other about everything. And I’m sure that at some point somepony, most likely Rarity, had grilled Applejack on what was happening. Consequently, Carousel Boutique was my first stop.

Rarity was just setting some of her newly completed work on the various stands that dotted the shop floor when I walked in. It seemed as if I’d arrived at the perfect time; she’d finished up her work for the day. Her typical glasses, that indicated whether or not she was working were absent from her face. However, she didn’t appear to be all that tired. If the poor mare had been working hard, I would naturally have let her be. As she is so fond of saying ‘a lady needs her beauty sleep’.

However, as soon as I walked in, causing the small silver bell above the door to chime, and possibly giving an angel its wings, Rarity looked up and happily trotted over to greet me.

“Blade Star, darling!” she said, greeting me in her typical way. I opened my mouth to reply and tell her why I had dropped by to see her, when she suddenly cut me off. “Ah, don’t tell me; you need my advice, no?” I nodded.

“Ah asked Applejack out, on a date.” I barely had time to brace for the inevitable reaction. Rarity squealed in delight and began to bounce around the room happily. The fashionista began to babble excitedly.

“Oh darling, this is simply wonderful. At last you two shall be together. I knew it from the moment I set eyes on you. And to think just a few months ago you were spouting all that nonsense about being uninterested in romance and that asexual nonsense.”

Right, I know Rarity was giddy with excitement at the time, but that still made me grit my teeth. It’s true I do like Applejack. It is true that I love her. I agree that I have completely set my former feelings against love aside. However, that final issue was still one of contention. As much as I loved AJ I wasn’t sure I could ever contemplate doing…that, with her. Assuming Big Mac didn’t kill me on the spot. Still, it would do little good to burst her bubble and it would keep her from bothering me in the future, so I held my tongue. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I think Rarity may have caught my irked expression though, for she quickly calmed down.

“Better?” I asked as she relaxed. After all, a lady does not get so excited.

“Yes, erm, sorry about that, darling.” She brushed a stray hair out of her face. “So, where are you taking her than? The rodeo, a picnic by the lake?” I shook my head in response.

“Ah’m gonna take her on a tour of the Old Country. Ah’m gonna show her Earth.” Rarity was understandably confused. “Princess Luna agreed to link my dream with AJ’s and keep us both lucid. Effectively we can go anywhere we want to. And it won’t just be a night either; Ah’m fixin’ to spend a couple of days with her. Ah figure we could both use a little holiday anyway.” I then outlined the rough idea I had. “So, what do ya think?”

Rarity placed a hoof to her chin and closed her eyes, evidently thinking deeply. She was naturally taking this whole exercise very seriously, probably more so that I was. If I’d set something up Applejack would not like, she would know, and I also knew she cared about the both of us and wanted to see us succeed. At length, she opened her eyes again and placed a hoof on my shoulder.

“Darling, I can see you’ve really thought about this. Any other stallion would probably go for some clichéd dinner and a movie date. You’ve thought about Applejack as a mare, what she likes and dislikes. And taking her to your old home is a very personal move too, darling. You are being upfront and honest about your past, an admirable quality. She will love every moment of it; I will stake my mane upon it.” Well, there was no better endorsement to be hoped for from Rarity.

I stayed with her a little while longer chatting about this and that. Eventually, the topic turned to my little sister, Lizzie. In another couple of days the effects of Discord’s prank would wear off and, Celestia willing, she would be a human once more, as she said she had wanted to be. Still, she’d done quite well as a pegasus; I’d seen her with Fluttershy and Rainbow flying around, and she’d definitely enjoyed her trip to Cloudsdale too.

After that, quickly lifting my hat from its place on the stand, I took my leave, promising Rarity that at some point, I would tell her how it all went. As I closed the door to the shop behind me, I could almost swear she was talking. Her cat, Opalescence, who is pretty much your stereotypical cat, had been with us for the duration of our discussion, so it was probably her. However, unbeknownst to me, Rarity was sitting on her sofa, petting Opal and saying, more to herself:

“Oh, Opal, why is it all the good stallions are taken these days?”

After leaving Rarity, I headed a little ways across town to my parents’ house. As it was a weekend, both Ponyville School and Celestia’s Day court were closed, so both my parents would be around. Realistically, I knew that at some point I would have to talk to my folks about Applejack and my relationship with her. I suppose in a way, I was finally ‘catching up’ with all those kids back in high school and going on my first date. I smiled a little and shook my head. I wasn’t a teenager anymore and I certainly wouldn’t be acting like half of them did on their dates.

However, I would be needing some help preparing for this little expedition. Due to my somewhat natural inexperience I had little idea on, well, everything. This would genuinely be the first date I had ever been on. Most males my age, or so I was led to believe by media, had by this point gained a fair amount of experience. I couldn’t help but feel a little bit intimidated. I mean, what if I did something or said something that ruined the whole shebang?

On the other hand though, I was not alone. I knew that I was the first stallion to ask Applejack out. Like me, she hadn’t done much in the way of romance as a younger filly. But to be fair to her, it was due to the amount of her time taken up by work on the farm, rather than a lack of interest. After all, the mare was, if you’ll pardon the expression, something of a catch. I on the other hand, only have myself to blame for my inexperience. All through high school any kind of friendship that had the potential to become something else, I had quickly shut down, usually with unfortunate results.

So, here I was, going to talk to my parents. It would mainly be my dad; I was in dire need of some fatherly advice, though I knew my mom would also get involved at some point. And so swallowing my pride, I knocked on the door.

As luck would have it, my father answered a door, a mug of tea in his hand. Perhaps that is one of the reasons he and Celestia get on so well, they both do seem to be partial to the stuff.

“Hello there, lad,” he warmly greeted me. One of the many things my father has had to learn to do is look down. Aside from Celestia and Discord, very few ponies can look him in the eye in Equestria, me included. It sort of makes me feel like a little kid again at times.

He quickly invited me inside and led me into the living room. Apart from a television, which is conspicuous by its absence, there was little to differentiate it from the front room of our old home.

“So, what brings you to me and the memsahib’s humble abode?” he asked as we both settled down on the sofa, with me tucking my forelegs under myself like a dog.

“Where is Mom anyway?” I asked, it was unusual for me to have gotten this far into the house and not have been scooped up by her in a bone crushing hug.

“Oh, she’s off seeing some friend; one of the mothers from school I think. You know how she gets. Now, what do you want to talk to me about?”

“Ah’ve got myself a date, Dad,” I said, bluntly. With an air of clear smugness, my father leaned back into the sofa, his hands moving behind his head, interlocking, a smile played across his lips. “And Ah need some advice,” I added.

“Alright,” he answered, not moving. “Where are you taking her first of all? Helps if you have a game plan you know.”

“Princess Luna agreed to sync up our dreams. Ah figure, we’ll be takin’ two days or so. This is gonna be more of a holiday that just a date. Ah’m gonna take her back home, show her ‘round a bit” My father nodded sagely before saying.

“No eighteen rated dreams though, eh?” Had I been drinking anything, it would have been sprayed from here to Baltimare. As it was, I blushed beet red and shifted around uncomfortably. As great a father as my dad is, he’s never really signed up to the idea of asexuality being a thing. Eventually, I managed to scowl at him, but by then he was laughing his head off.

“Dad, nothing like that’s gonna happen,” I said irritably. For a moment the petty side of me insisted I storm out then and there. On the other hand I needed his advice. “Now have ya got any real advice or are ya just gonna laugh at me?” Eventually, he relented and continued.

“Alright, Bones, alright,” he paused to think for a moment. “Right well, big, important thing is always pay the bill. No matter what it is, drinks or a full three course dinner, you pay. And don’t let her convince you to go Dutch either.” I rolled my eyes.

“Dad, it’s a dream. Ah could take AJ to five star restaurants every night and not have to worry.”

“My point still stands, lad,” he replied. “Even with dream money, you pay. Alright?” I nodded.

“What else?” I could tell my dad was trying to remember his first few dates with my mom. He began to say something about dressing in the right clothing. Of course, that one quietly died in his throat for obvious reasons.

“Okay, erm, oh yes. Always be attentive to her. Don’t be hanging on her every word, but let her know you’re listening. Remind her how important she is to you. That and it’ll save your backside when she circles back to a topic you stopped talking about an hour ago.” He stopped to think again. “And of course, be a gentleman, son. Though I think you cover that one quite well already. You’ve been raised right, so just follow the old ways; she’ll definitely appreciate that. Any woman, or mare, is always looking for that knight in shining armor.”

I couldn’t help but snigger a little bit at that turn of phrase. After all Princess Cadence had quite literally found one, and married him in the end. My father continued.

“Seriously, Blade Star,” he said, using my taken name for once. “You don’t need my advice really; you just need to be confident and relaxed. You are a great person, erm, pony to be with, hence why Applejack likes you. You have absolutely nothing to worry about.” He put down his mug. “Now go on, best be off with you; you don’t want to be here when your mum gets back do you?”

I promptly beat a hasty retreat back to Sweet Apple Acres. Mom could get all misty eyed on me later. It was getting late anyway, and I always did my best to be home before sundown. Perhaps next week, if all goes well, I could spend Sunday at home, maybe spend some time with Apple Bloom; the filly had really grown on me these past few months.

As I went to bed, I spoke with Applejack. Tonight I would contact Luna and tell her we were both ready. Then, tomorrow night, we would begin.

Author's Note:

Proofread by Sidetrack.

Well, here we are, the first chapter of 2015. According to 'Back to the Future - Part II', by now we should have flying cars, cyborgs, hoverboards and self adjusting clothes. We have none of these things. :ajbemused:

But we do have an update, so hey, not all bad. :yay:

Tune in next week for another interlude and don't forget to comment.

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