• Published 29th Jan 2014
  • 6,900 Views, 428 Comments

The Weight of Responsibility - Calm Wind

Responsibility can be heavy, and accepting it can be tough. But even those used to it are not free of fault.

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Chapter 2

Author's Note:

Hey all! Managed to pump out 16 more pages. I kinda like doing it this way, i feel like the updates get the story more exposure. As much as i like writing very long oneshots, i think head in the clouds taught me that using chapters gets more attention for possible critique and comment.

The Weight of Responsibility
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 2:

Thunderlane was sweating so much he felt like he was swimming. He was pulling a load roughly three times as heavy as his initial trip from the barn to the field, but he refused to stop. He didn’t know how he got apple filled cart to start moving, but he had the momentum going now and was NOT going to risk stopping and getting stuck halfway back to the barn.

He found he was able to keep his mind off how exhausted he was by cursing himself. Why couldn’t he do it? Why couldn’t he just give the Apples a piece of his mind? There were obvious reasons as to why he didn’t want to challenge Big Mac. Liking where all his body parts and organs were was pretty high on that list of reasons. But why did he always lock up when facing Applejack? It’s not like she towered over him like Mac. Hell, he was slightly taller than her. Yet every time she got in his face and started belting at him, he fell back with little retort.

How much more of this was he just going to take? He never had a problem standing up for himself with anypony else. Was he really afraid of her? Or was something else keeping him from it?

The thoughts were definitely keeping him from paying attention. He looked up and yelped before trying to instantly stop. Big Mac’s cart train was halted a few feet from him. Despite his best efforts, the momentum of Thunderlane’s cart pushed him forward, hooves skidding, and drove his face directly into Mac’s end cart.

The whole train jostled slightly, causing a few apples to fall out. Mac, who was in the process of unhooking himself, blinked and looked over his shoulder to see what caused the slight shift. Applebloom hopped down from the cart, dropping a pile of apples into a basket before trotting back and getting a look herself.

“Uh oh, Mac, I think he’s out.”

“He” was the only word Mac had to hear before flattening his ears sighing in frustration. Dash flew ahead of him as he made his way down the train. He watched her fly overhead, and then she burst out laughing as he neared. Mac peered around the corner of his last cart, Thunderlane was there alright. His face had gone right through one of the back boards and was sticking through into the cart. His legs hung limply and he was out cold. Mac lifted an eyebrow in confusion as Rainbow Dash fell to the ground on her back, clutching her sides and laughing hysterically.

Mac wondered how hard Thunderlane had to hit the cart to have his face put through it. He looked the back cart up and down as Dash began to roll back and forth while kicking her back hooves in the air. Mac reached up a hoof and gave another board on the cart a controlled whack. To his surprise, the board splintered and split. He liked to keep his farm equipment in good shape, and this cart was clearly in need to some repairs.

“Oh.” He perked up, realizing he should probably help Thunderlane. He reached up, grabbing him by the shoulders, and yanked him free. A few apples fell out of the cart from the new head-sized hole, which were quickly whisked up by Applebloom. Mac frowned as he examined Thunderlane.

Out. Again. This time it wasn’t even because of the work. It was a clumsy accident. Mac was already behind schedule, but he found himself constantly having to look out this “helper” of theirs.

Dash’s laughter finally died down,

“Ooooh, oh man, that was the best laugh I’ve had in a while.” She hovered at eye level of Thunderlane, whom Mac still had hoisted up. “So now what? It’s not like we can keep waiting for him.” She looked Thunderlane over, wincing when she saw quite a large bump on his forehead. “But it looks like we can’t leave him either.”

Mac glanced up into the sky, observing the position of the sun. He glanced back down at Thunderlane, then out into a certain direction. He passed the string of wheat around his mouth a few times before nodding.

“Run along t’school Applebloom,” He set Thunderlane down and scooted his little sister along, “But on the way, can ya stop somewhere for me?”

Thunderlane groaned as he woke, instantly slapped with a major throbbing sensation in his forehead. Somepony was talking, but his head hurt too much to make out what was being said. He opened his eyes slowly, expecting to meet the glare of the sun, but to his surprise it was dim. His vision slowly corrected itself and he blinked and glanced around. He seemed to be in the barn, the dim light was the sun poking through the small cracks between the barn wall boards. He was lying on the ground, on what felt like a thin pile of hay, and something cold was balanced on his head.

The talking finally became understandable. It wasn’t a voice he was hoping to hear.

“This ain’t the time to be all soft ya’hear? I need ‘im back up and workin’ as quickly as possible. Not like it’s gonna help at all.” It was clearly Applejack. The same tone and harsh words she had used from the start. His body curled up a little more on instinct. How much more of this would he have to take? He asked himself yet AGAIN. It was becoming a recurring question in his head. He heard someone else reply to her, but the voice was so quiet he couldn’t make out a single word. Applejack answered with a grunt.

“No buts or ifs about it. He owes us work, and he ain’t gonna pay it off sittin’ around, passed out. If he knows what’s good for him he’ll shape up and get to work!” Applejack belted before the sound of stomping hooves and the barn door slamming indicated she had stormed out.

Thunderlane shook his head, feeling something shift on it. He remembered something was balanced on it and reached up, feeling a cold pack. He blinked a couple times and glanced at his surroundings. There was a small box of medical supplies sitting near him, a picnic basket next to it, and a red and yellow picnic blanket.

“Hmm, hmm, hmm.” The sound of quiet cheerful humming came around the corner and drew closer. Thunderlane watched as a familiar yellow Pegasus with a long pink mane came around the corner, completely oblivious to him being awake.


“EEP!” To the surprise of nopony, his voice startled her and she zipped behind the picnic basket. How she managed to hide her entire body behind it was beyond him. She peeked out behind and sighed in relief.

“Oh goodness, I wasn’t expecting you to wake up so soon.” She instantly calmed down upon seeing it was only Thunderlane.

“What are you doing here?” He asked as the cold pack fell off his head. Fluttershy quickly fluttered over to him, picked up the pack, and replaced it on his head.

“Well, I don’t all the details, but Macintosh said you hit your head really hard. He had to get back to work, so he had me come over to look after you.” She explained while whisking her right hoof along the ground and not quiet looking at him. “You have a nasty bump on your forehead, but the swelling is already going down. Just rest a little and it should be fine soon.”

“Huh.” Thunderlane responded unenthusiastically. The last thing he recalled was trying to stop his cart and running headlong into another cart. Absolutely NOTHING was going his way. But then he realized something. He smirked and glanced at Fluttershy as she fumbled around with her picnic basket. He didn’t know Fluttershy that well, but he DID know that she was overly kind. Which made her easy to dupe.

Forget the consequences, he didn’t care, he just wanted this nightmare to end. This was a chance he wasn’t going to pass up. Applejack just left and was probably going back to work and Big Mac was most likely still pulling carts. This was the perfect chance.

“Say Fluttershy,” he added a fake tone of discomfort to his voice, “could you help me with something?”

“Oh, sure, what can I do for you?” She asked sweetly, completely oblivious to his intentions as he predicted. He leaned to the side, showing her where the knot was tied on the rope that bound his wings.

“They tied this thing a little too tight. It’s been really digging into me. Could you loosen it just a tad for me? It’s really uncomfortable.” He also wore an expression of false discomfort. As he had hoped, she didn’t suspect a thing.

“Oh, of course, we can’t have that.” Kindness was in her nature and very blood. This was her shining quality, and at times her biggest downfall. Thunderlane kept up the act and kept one ear up to listen for the door, just in case. Fluttershy reached for the knot and gave it a small tug with her teeth.

Thunderlane smiled as he felt the rope loosen. That was all he needed. His wings were very stiff, but he thrust them out past the rope, pushing it up on his body past where it could bind him. He stood up and broke into a sprint, running into and knocking over Fluttershy, who squeaked in surprise as he practically mowed her down. He turned the corner and spotted the door, it was closed, but it was all that stood before him and his freedom. He flew towards the door, landing only to slide it open. The sunlight blared in his face, but he ignored it and readied his wings for flight after a few steps.

A few steps that sent him careening right into somepony else. He couldn’t tell who, because the two of them began tumbling as soon as he struck them. Then the two ran into something much larger. The tumbling stopped, and Thunderlane found himself looking directly up at Big Mac. The glare Thunderlane was receiving could have crushed a rock it was so fierce. Then he realized he was also on top of somepony.

“Ya have exactly three seconds t’get offa me before I tie a rope around your neck too!” Applejack’s voice came from below him.

Oh he was in deep shit now. Unless he flew away. He quickly spread his wings, but Mac already had him in a strong headlock. He wasn’t crushing Tunderlane’s neck, but he most certainly couldn’t fly out of it. He gulped and quickly moved the non-held part of his body off of Applejack, who got to her hooves, retrieved her had from the ground, and roughly slammed it back onto her head, she grabbed the rope and retied it around him, this time it felt even tighter.

Before they could start berating him, a slight whimper came from inside the barn. Big Mac’s Ears shot up and he instantly dropped Thunderlane from his hold before galloping into the barn. Applejack’s jaw dropped and she looked towards Thunderlane with a furious gaze.

“You’ve gotta be kiddin’ me.” She could barely find the words to describe just how angry Thunderlane had just made her. If he had hurt Fluttershy in any way shape or form, she was going to clock him across the jaw, she didn’t care what Granny thought.

“What?” He asked as if nothing was wrong. Applejack shoved her face against him, the anger in her expression nearly double what it was moments prior. He nearly turned pure white and gulped. “I’ll shut up now.” He said, his voice squeaking.

A moment later, Big Mac walked out of the barn with one front leg gently draped over the back of Fluttershy. There were bits of hay stuck in her fur and mane and her eyes were slightly misty. That was all Applejack needed to see. She threw off her hat, gritted her teeth and grabbed Thunderlane around the neck. He yelped in surprise as she actually hoisted him up into the air. She pulled back her other hoof, and thrust it towards his face. Thunderlane braced himself and closed his eyes. Big Mac, alarmed, ran towards them to stop his sister, but he didn’t get there in time.

Big Mac and Fluttershy both winced as Applejack’s hoof connected to Thunderlane’s face. Pain seared through his cheek as the force tore him from her grip and he tumbled to the ground. Fluttershy gasped and Mac just stared incredulously at his sister. She was breathing heavily, nearly hissing as she glared at the heap of Thunderlane on the ground. Her eyes were filled with rage and she moved towards him again. Mac was about to move in and stop her, but Rainbow Dash, who saw from afar, zipped in and placed her hooves against Applejack’s shoulders.

“Whoa whoa WHOA!!!! Applejack what the hell is wrong with you?!” She pushed against her, but Applejack showed little sign of simmering.

“Rainbow Dash. Git. The. HELL. Outta mah way!” She belted right in Dash’s face. Even Dash found herself at a loss. She had never seen Applejack act this way before. She wasn’t sure what to do, but a large hoof fell on her shoulder. She looked at it, and followed it to Big Mac, who was eyeing his sister calmly and seriously.

“Dash, help Fluttershy with Thunderlane. I gotta have a talk with mah sister.” Said Mac as Applejack’s glare shifted instantly to him. Rainbow Dash was not about to get caught between that, and left to help Thunderlane, who was twitching on the ground.

“Don’t ya start with me Mac!” Applejack struck preemptively. Mac instantly turned and butted heads with her. She glared back at him hard, but he didn’t even flinch, pushing her backwards a few feet, her hooves skidding along the dirt.

“What the hay has gotten into ya!? Getting all violent and such?!” He held firm as she tried to push back against him. As strong as she was, Big Mac was the pony equivalent of an oncoming train.

“How many more of ya are gonna sympathize with this low life, huh?! First Granny, then Braeburn, an’ now you ‘n Rainbow Dash. We gonna have Applebloom jumpin’ on the bandwagon soon too?!” She yelled right back. Mac stopped pushing against her and shook his head.

“Who the hell am I even talkin’ to here?! Ya sound nuthin’ like mah sister!”

“I could ask you the same damn thing ya big ass softy! He hurt Fluttershy and you just sat there? Ya nearly killed Rapidfire for just flirtin’ with her.” She flinched as he thrust a hoof towards her, but loosened up when all he did was press it against her chest.

“Did he trick her? Eeyup. Did he take advantage of her kindness? Eeyup. But she told me all he did was knock her down while tryin’ git free.” He explained. Applejack’s eyes widened slightly. “I don’t care if he tried to escape, ya just cold cocked ‘im for NO REASON. I suggest ya go cool off and think about what ya done!” He pointed a hoof towards their house.

Applejack wanted to fight back. She wanted to yell in his face and tell him why he was wrong. That was just the problem. Mac was completely right. She glanced over at Fluttershy. She was covered in hay and twigs and her mane was messy, but other than that, she showed no signs of being harmed in any way. Not even a tiny scratch on her delicate body.

Then she looked at Thunderlane. Unlike Fluttershy, he looked terrible. He already had the bruise on his head from before and now he had a swollen cheek plus a bloody nose. He was curled up on the ground, shivering as Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy tried to help him.

Applejack bit her lip and slammed her hoof against the ground, looking away from Mac. She retrieved her hat, placed it on her head, tipping it over her eyes, and walked towards the house. Mac shook his head and turned to help with Thunderlane.

Celestia alive, what the hell did she just do? Applejack couldn’t believe it herself. She just punched another pony directly in the face, purely out of anger. How did she lose her cool so easily and so quickly to the point of violence?

She glanced up at the house approaching. She knew she’d have to face Granny Smith about this. She’d be surprised if Granny didn’t already see the whole thing, they were within eyeshot of the house after all. Seeing the house made her think even more about what she had just done, bringing things into perspective for her. This wasn’t the first time she had gotten in a fight, she scrapped all the time with her siblings, but it was always in good fun or just a small scuffle.

She just punched another pony AS HARD AS SHE COULD. A Pegasus no less, they weren’t as sturdy as earth ponies. Thunderlane was probably in a lot of pain. It wasn’t like a while back when Mac beat the tar out of Rapidfire. Mac was protecting Fluttershy, and honestly, Rapidfire deserved it. Thunderlane wasn’t the most likable pony, but he did NOTHING to deserve such a painful consequence.

She approached the house and stopped outside the front door. What was wrong with her? Mac was right, she wasn’t acting like herself at all. She was super stressed out, but it’s not like that was new. She was used to that. Could it be a mix of the situation Thunderlane put them in and how he wasn’t helping them recover? Possibly. Perhaps she had taken too much responsibility. She barely had time to see her friends nowadays. She saw Rainbow Dash nearly daily due to her help and occasionally Fluttershy when she visited Mac, but Twilight, Pinkie, and Rarity only saw her from time to time. And if they did, it was because they paid a visit.

She sighed as she walked through the door. That had to be it. She was used to being overworked, but not with so many other things to be aware of. She had recently taken over many chores Granny smith used to take care of. Apple Bloom was moving up in school, having to spend more time on homework. Farm business had escalated, even with the addition of Dash and Braeburn it was hard to get everything done on time without sacrificing quality. To make things worse, she knew Dash would eventually complete her training and pursue the Wonderbolts and who knows if Braeburn would stay forever. He was a natural born leader, and she was sure he’d branch off on his own way again eventually. Those thoughts only made things seem even worse. She had way too much to think about and way too much work. Was it all taking more of a toll on her than she was willing to admit?

Applejack got two steps into the house before coming face to face with Granny Smith. Braeburn was behind her with a basket of laundry, but when he saw them lock eyes he quickly left the room. They had clearly both seen the commotion outside, and Braeburn knew well not to get in the way of a stern Granny Smith.

Applejack looked straight down. This time no one had to tell her she was in the wrong. She knew she had done something bad and Granny Smith could tell.

“Well? Was it worth it?” Granny Smith spoke up.

“No Granny.” Applejack’s voice was tight and squeaky.

“How do you feel?” Granny continued.

“Terrible.” Applejack felt her whole body tensing. The true gravity of what she had done was sinking in.

“Well good, and I hope I don’t have ta tell ya what you should do now, dear.”

“No.” Applejack barely got out while shaking her head.

“Good.” Granny Smith finished, turning back into the kitchen. Applejack sniffled and gritted her teeth, refusing to break down in front of family. She moved quickly up the stairs and to her room, passing Braeburn as she met the stairs. Braeburn was about to say something, but stopped when he eyed small circular water stains on the floor every few inches along Applejack’s path. His ears sank down and he held in his urge to talk to her. Deciding it would be for the best to let her be. Instead he turned and followed Granny Smith.

“Granny, she’s a real mess right now, shouldn’t we do somethin’?” He asked, remembering the way his family all came to him when he lost his way. Granny Smith shook her head as she removed some apple fritters from the oven.

“You’re a kind soul to think of her Braeburn, dear. But she needs t’come to terms with herself before we c’n do anything.” Granny spoke while automatically going through her baking motions like she had for the past multiple decades.

“There has to be somethin’ we can do beside though. She’s taking on so much work nowadays. I don’t want to see her break under pressure.” Braeburn set the laundry down and glanced back towards the stairs.

“The weight of responsibility is heavier than anything. It doesn’t matter how strong ya are in the body or mind, no one is ever ready for it. Yes, she has taken on much more than she c’n chew, and did so at the same time as a huge setback, but as long as she c’n see what it’s doin’ to her she’ll come around. Give it time.”

Braeburn would never be able to argue with a single wise word from Granny Smith. While the old bones sometimes were a bit strange, they had seen and know more than he could at least seven times over.

Applejack had to figure this out on her own. It was all part of what she lived for.

What a day it had been. Thunderlane was now completely convinced he wasn’t dreaming and that he was truly living in a nightmare. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy had helped him back to the house, before tending to him. He now lay in his bed, staring directly up at the ceiling. His forehead didn’t hurt anymore, but he still had a headache from when he ran into the cart, which was made even worse by the pain from his nose. His nose had a tissue stuffed in one nostril to stop it from bleeding, and even though nothing was broken, it was in enough pain to make him think it was.

The sun had gone down and there wasn’t much light in his room. He didn’t care. He didn’t give a damn about anypony or anything at the moment. All he did was accidentally run into a building. He understood he had to pay off the damages, but how did it turn him into a beaten wreck? He didn’t deserve such abuse, at least his definition of it, which included the farm work along with the punching. He was beginning to realize just how awful this was going to be. If one day brought all of this hell, and only accomplished what looked like a fraction of what needed to be done, this was going to be an experience he would loathe for the rest of his life.

The sound of the door creaking open broke him from his daydream, but it ended there. He made no effort to look. He had had enough of other ponies for the day. There was nothing that they could say or do that would make him acknowledge them or make him feel better.

“Hey…” Unless it was THE LAST pony he expected to hear. He blinked and shifted his head to see Applejack standing in the doorway without her hat, the light from the hallway illuminating her against the darkness in his room. His body instantly tensed, but relaxed when he saw that she looked troubled. Applejack remained silent for a few moments looking at the corner of the door frame and rubbing her right hoof against her left leg.

She wasn’t good at this. She was an honest pony. It was a trait that at times worked against her. She didn’t like Thunderlane or the situation he put them in, and she would stand by that. She stood by many of her decisions and actions adamantly, which in effect, led to her not being good at admitting when she was wrong. Apologies always seemed like a surrender to her, but this was one of the few times in her life she had to do it, no questions asked. Punching him was completely uncalled for.

“S—” she started, but paused as she continued to internally fight herself. She took a deep breath and sighed. “Sorry.” She continued to look away from him.

Thunderlane blinked. Of all the things words he expected her to say, THAT was the very last. An awkward silence filled the room as neither spoke nor moved. After a lot of hoof shuffling and wishing she had her hat to hide her eyes, Applejack spoke again.

“I shouldn’ta hit ya, I let my anger git the better of me.” She walked in and up beside the bed, still not looking at him, and sat down. “You’ve gotta work for us, and we’re behind, but I shouldn’t be so hard on ya. I got a lot of apples on my plate right now and its gettin’ to me.” She glanced at him. He was just staring wide eyed at her, probably worried she would abuse him again in some way. She didn’t blame him. She had more or less taken all her anger out on him. She refused to do so on her siblings, making him an easy and only target. She had to try and fix that. He wouldn’t do good work if he was terrified of them.

“You go ahead and take a day or two to rest. I’m not gonna force you right back out after what I’ve put you through. I’m gonna try my best to keep my cool, but ya gotta promise me you’ll help us out.” She finally looked at him for a response.

Thunderlane realized she was looking for an answer. He quickly gathered his jumped thoughts.

“Uh—” he slurred. Then cleared his throat quickly and nodded. “Okay.” He didn’t really think much about it. He was so confused and still admittedly scared of her.

She accepted the response for all it was worth, knowing he would still be a hassle.

“Oh,” She got up and walked towards the door. “Here.” She reached out into the hallways and lifted a bed tray of food into the room. It was a full cooked dinner complete with a salad, mashed potatoes, a few slices of turkey breast, and a small pitcher filled with turkey gravy. Flanking the main course was a large mug of fresh apple cider and a slice of apple pie. Thunderlane’s eyes widened at both the sight and the delicious smell as she set it down on the bed. “Sorry ain’t enough for what I did to ya. So, I made dinner for ya too.” She continued to not look at him directly. Thunderlane was speechless. After all the crap he had gone through, to have this happen, now he had to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. He kept glancing between her and the dinner. She, in turn, kept glancing at him for some sort of response or thank you.

“Er—” again he gave not much of a coherent response. Applejack gritted her teeth.

“Damn it just take it an—!” She exploded briefly and quickly threw a hoof over her mouth. Thunderlane flinched so hard that the tray rattled. Applejack looked straight down. “Sorry, like I said, I gotta keep mah cool. Enjoy dinner.” She turned and walked towards the door at a quickened pace, embarrassed that she let the small outburst happen.

“Thanks.” Thunderlane suddenly said right before she left. She stopped and glanced back. He wasn’t looking at her, but she smiled and closed the door behind her.

Maybe Thunderlane had looked at it all the wrong way. There seemed to be more going on than just his suffering. He tended to think mostly for himself, but his current situation proved to him that he wasn’t just being dealt cruel and unusual punishment. From the start he could only see Applejack as a crazy farm mare or “she-devil” who was both intimidating and stronger than him, likely to beat him to a pulp if he lashed out just one more time.

But then there was the apology. He never expected to hear something like that from her. Especially after how stubborn she appeared to be, mostly from viewing her interactions with her siblings. Maybe there was a reason she was being so harsh. Maybe there was a reason he had to work, despite his desire for there not to be. He felt the answers would become clear the longer he worked. That was the one thing that was unclear though. Just how long was he going to work?

Thunderlane rested for the next two days. Granny Smith did an excellent job at making him feel comfortable, and he received regular visits from random Apple Family members to drop off a meal or to just plain check on him. It was quite a shift from how it all began and how he expected everything to go.

The third day after being socked in the face, he honestly admitted to feeling better and got up for work like he had a few days ago. But to his surprise,

“What?” Thunderlane blinked as he stood in the doorway. Applejack nodded and pointed back into the house.

“I want ya to help out Granny this mornin’. We’re haulin’ lots of apples into town today. And, well—” Applejack didn’t know how to put it without sounding even slightly demeaning.

“I can help pull the—” Thunderlane stopped as Applejack stared at him with her ears and eyebrows flat, “Okay, fine, I know, I know.” He sighed and stepped back inside. He didn’t know WHY he found it embarrassing. They were Earth Ponies after all. By default they were bigger and stronger than pegasi. If it wasn’t for Rainbow Dash pulling carts along with them maybe he wouldn’t feel like his manliness was being questioned.

He watched the Apples head out before Granny Smith beckoned him into the kitchen. He didn’t know how to feel. He was happy he didn’t have to do strenuous work, but the reason was just pathetic.

Thunderlane spent the morning assisting Granny Smith with the household chores, which he found he was a bit of a klutz with as well. He had done things like laundry and dishes before, but he was never so thorough or efficient about it. He actually found it hard to keep up with her.

On the bright side though Granny Smith was very patient with him, and any time he messed something up, she stopped him and showed him how to do it step by step. It was refreshing. Everything seemed to be different. Maybe being punched in the face wasn’t so bad, if such a thought could ever be reasonable.

In town, Applejack, Big Mac, Braeburn, and Rainbow Dash all pulled into the market square of Ponyville each pulling two carts full of apples, except for Mac who had six. They all unhooked for a rest as Applejack pulled out a list from her small saddlebag.

“Alright, we have twenty-er-so deliveries to make,” she carefully tore the list into three pieces, handing one to Braeburn and another to Rainbow Dash, “y’all know the drill. Let’s make this quick so we can git home and keep at it.” She explained as Braeburn and Dash fastened saddlebags to themselves. Mac trotted back to his end cart, and pulled out three mini carts, filling them all with apples. Applejack, Braeburn, and Rainbow Dash, hooked themselves up.

“A.J.” Braeburn spoke up as they prepared for deliveries, “You doin’ okay?” He asked. Applejack stared blankly at him.

“Course I am. Why?” She lifted an eyebrow.

“Oh, just curious.” Brabeurn turned away, but she reached over, and turned his head back towards her.

“WHY.” She asked flatly. Braeburn blinked and avoided eye contact.

“No real reason, I was just—” he stumbled over his response. Rainbow Dash leaned over from Applejack’s other side.

“Cause you punched somepony in the face recently.” She finished for him with a slight smirk. Applejack furrowed her brow and glared at Dash.

“What the hay is that supposed t—” Applejack stopped herself and took a deep breath. Dash and Braeburn stared in surprise. “I know, but I’m fine. Okay?” Rainbow Dash shrugged, let it be, and began pulling her cart away. Braeburn just wanted to be polite, but it backfired,

“You sure?” He continued.

“I’M FINE!!!!” She yelled out loud. There was a hush in the market place and almost every pair of eyes present was staring at her. She blinked and quickly pulled her hat down to hide her eyes. “Sorry.” She said quickly to her cousin before pulling her cart away. When Braeburn’s ears stopped ringing he shook his head and got to work, leaving Mac behind to keep an eye on the large carts.

Thunderlane sat down and sighed in relief as soon as Granny Smith indicated they were done for the time being. The whole thing was a lot more taxing than he thought. He was more than certain that he had just done more chores in the past four hours than he had done his entire life. How did Granny Smith do this every day? The old Pony was much tougher than he gave her credit for.

He perked up when he heard voices and carts outside. He made his way over to the window to see the ponies returning. Again he felt slightly inadequate, doing household chores while the others were out doing heavy lifting. Not that he WANTED to do heavy lifting.

The whole situation he found himself in was so twisted and skewed around itself he had a hard time figuring out exactly how he felt. Did he want to be there? No. Did he want to work? No. But when he was told he couldn’t do something, he suddenly wanted to do it. This was just like how he got in this whole mess to begin with. When Cloud Chaser taunted him about not being able to do a sonic boom, he did it anyway despite being unable to. Here, he was told he wasn’t strong enough to pull a cart, and despite knowing he couldn’t he wanted to anyway.

He groaned and stepped away from the window, walking back through the house. What was wrong with him? He couldn’t focus on anything.

He jumped slightly when a steady knocking came from the front door. He blinked and stared through the living room towards it. It clearly wasn’t any of the Apple family or Rainbow Dash, they wouldn’t have bothered knocking.

“Thunderlane, be a dear and answer the door for me?” Granny Smith poked her head around the corner with a dish towel in her hooves. Thunderlane nodded and made his way over to the door.

He had only been on the farm for a few days and it was already shaping into a very interesting experience. Interesting was the only way he could put it because as sure as he was that he wanted out asap, he found himself wanting to prove himself to them? Why? He didn’t owe them anything, at least from his standpoint. Then there were all the weird things, like buff Rainbow Dash out of nowhere making him look weak, Fluttershy almost giving him an escape, and being punched in the face for doing nothing. It really couldn’t get any stranger than it had been. He was more likely to get front row seat tickets at a Wonderbolt show than to believe things could get any crazier.

Thunderlane opened the door. His jaw dropped, his eyes widened, and his pupils shrank as he saw the three pegasi standing outside the front door.

“Hey there! Is Rainbow Dash here?”

---To Be Continued---