• Published 29th Jan 2014
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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 3

Author's Note:

And here we are again with another chapter! Now i shall repeat.... and especially with this chapter...


*WARNING*

AS MENTIONED IN CHAPTER ONE. CONTEXT FROM MY OTHER STORIES WILL BE NEEDED TO UNDERSTAND A FEW THINGS.

*WARNING*

I'm not self advertising here, really i'm not. i just really want the reader to be able to enjoy my work as much as possible. :)

MLP: FiM
The Weight of Responsibility
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 3:


Thunderlane slammed the door shut and blinked furiously. Now on top of everything he was seeing things. He would open the door again and he wouldn’t be looking at three celebrities. He slowly opened the door again, eyes re-widening. He attempted to close the door again, but this time a yellow hoof blocked it. Thunderlane was ten feet back from the door as soon as it opened again.

He was looking directly at Spitfire, Soarin, and Fleetfoot of the Wonderbolt elite ace squad. He tried to say something, but all that came out of his mouth was something that sounded like a duck’s voice cracking.

“Hello to you too…” Fleetfoot chuckled at how visibly flustered Thunderlane was.

“Wait a minute, you look familiar.” Spitfire looked him over, but was interrupted as Granny Smith entered the room and slowly moved towards the door.

“Well! Look what the cat dragged in! If it isn’t Spitflyer, Swearin, an’ Fleetfarm. How are y’all doin’?” Granny Smith absolutely butchered their names as she advanced to the doorway. The three smiled and shared a laugh, knowing full well from past experience that correcting her was fruitless.

Thunderlane had frozen completely solid, not even blinking throughout the whole scene. He was wrong, things were going to get weirder and there was nothing he could do to stop it.

“Doing fine Granny and you’re looking just as young as we left you.” Soarin joked as Granny Smith finally made it out onto the porch.

“Oh you flatter this old mare. So what brings ya inta Ponyville today?” She questioned them. Spitfire answered.

“Fleet and I are on our way to Manehattan for a few weeks, Business, appearances, some photo shoots, etc. Thought we’d stop in and say hello.” She motioned to Fleetfoot who took over.

“While we’re gone, the lead squad isn’t performing, so Soarin is tagging along this far to see his little rainbow.” She leaned over and nudged Soarin in the side. He perked up, not paying attention because he was looking around for signs of Rainbow Dash.

“Oh that’s wonderful! They just got back from deliveries, so she’ll be over by the barn. Need a place t’stay again?” She asked Soarin.

“Nah, I figured Dash will—” He began, but was cut off.

“Uh oh, incoming Soarin.” Fleetfoot said with a chuckle. Something that sounded like “ohmygosh” was coming repeatedly from the direction of the barn, and drew closer and closer. Soarin smiled at Granny Smith.

“Hold that thought.” He said and was tackled at full speed by Rainbow Dash as she yelled “OHMYGOSH” over and over. Soarin was instantly gone from his spot, Spitfire and Fleetfoot didn’t even flinch as a gust of wind blew past them. Soarin extended his wings, forcing them to a stop in the air, but Dash clung to him, wings flapping furiously, tears of joy squeaking out of her eyes.

“You jerk!” She yelled as she removed her head from his chest and looked him in the eyes. “You gotta tell me when you’re visiting!”

“This was sort of last minute.” Soarin shrugged, “like I was gonna pass it up though.” He winked and the two embraced tightly again.

“Aww, they are too cute!” Fleetfoot sarcastically swooned, putting her hooves together and resting the side of her head against them. Spitfire rolled her eyes.

Thunderlane saw the whole exchange through the window to the right of the door. Rainbow Dash was on a first name basis with the Wonderbolts too? Scratch that, she and the famous Soarin were an ITEM?! How many more ways could he be jealous of Rainbow Dash? Not so much about Soarin, more about having personal relationships with celebrities. What the hell made HER so special? The last time he encountered the Wonderbolts it was at the summer flight camp and the whole time he was there he was scared to death of—

“LINEUP!”

Thunderlane flinched and in an instant found his body moving again, he moved slightly to the right and turned attention. He blinked, remembered where he was, and wondered why he just did that. Fleetfoot was nearly on the ground laughing and Spitfire was just smirking.

“See?” Spitfire motioned towards Thunderlane.

“Wow, you weren’t kidding!” Fleetfoot said between laughs.

“I thought I recognized you. Thunderlane right?” Spitfire walked in towards him. “You were at our last flight camp.” She waited for him to say something, but he stood perfectly still. “Oh for heaven’s sake, RELAX. I’m off duty. I just wanted to see if you still flinched super hard when I called for line up.” She admitted, recalling Thunderlane being probably the most intimidated flyer she ever coached. When he didn’t respond again, she gave up and eyed the rope around his wings, lifting an eyebrow. She left him where he was and went back to the porch, “so why’s he here?” She asked Granny Smith

“Broke a new buildin’ of ours, payin’ off the dept with work.” She put it simply. Spitfire glanced back at him and shook her head.

“Smooth.” She moved back towards Fleetfoot, as Soarin and Dash finally finished attacking each other with affection. “Good to actually see you Rainbow Dash.” Spitfire smirked as Dash and Soarin’ smiled embarrassedly.

“Heh, sorry, got a LIIIIITTLE excited.” Dash explained while shifting closer to Soarin.

“Do tell.” Spitfire looked over Dash briefly, “Wish I could stay and see what that new bod of yours can do, you look like you’ve been hitting the gym.”

“Just pulling apple carts actually.” Dash proudly stated while flexing an arm.

“Cause it’s been that easy.” Applejack suddenly spoke as she entered the scene with Mac and Braeburn in tow.

“Okay so I had a little bit of trouble at first.” Dash shrugged.

Fleetfoot smiled, blushed slightly, and bit her lip upon eyeing Big Mac and this other new handsome farmer pony beside him. Spitfire nudged her in the side and whispered.

“Careful Fleet, you remember what happened last time.”

“I know big red is taken, but what about the OTHER dream boat? Heeeee! They sure now how to grow ‘em in this family!” She whispered back.

Thunderlane continued to mostly hear and not see what was going on as the same explanation was given to Applejack. This was too much. He had literally no idea what to do. The more he stood there the more he felt like a complete idiot. He had met Spitfire in person before, even if it was with her barking commands in his ears, but to have Soarin and Fleetfoot just show up too? His body just plain LOCKED. Great first impression. Thunderlane: Occupation, straight up dumbass.

“Well it was good to see you all, but Fleet and I better fly. We have to get To Manehatten and check in to our hotel before tonight. We’ll stop on our way back in a couple weeks,” Spitfire cracked her neck and spread her wings, “have fun.”

“Yeah, have LOTS of fun.” Fleetfoot winked at Soarin before Spitfire put her in a wing lock.

“C’mon instigator.” She pulled Fleetfoot along as she laughed. They waved goodbye and took off into the sky, displaying their awesome speed by being out of sight in less than a minute.

“Well you’re just in time for Lunch Soarin, c’mon in and we’ll get ya something too!” Applejack invited him in.

“Oh thanks! I’ve missed the home cooking here!” Soarin followed them all in, still glued side by side to Rainbow Dash. He stopped as they passed Thunderlane, Dash and Applejack stopping with him.

Just as he was about to break his nervous stiffness, he was staring right into the eyes of Soarin, the famous Power Flier of the Wonderbolts. He felt himself lock up again. Just when he thought he couldn’t feel like any more of a dolt.

“Nice new living room addition you have here.” Soarin chuckled. Applejack rolled her eyes. “What’s with the rope?” He asked as he continued to walk circles around Frozenlane.

“Keep him from flyin’ off. He broke a new unit of ours right after Mac finished buildin’ it. He’s workin’ here till he pays it off.” Applejack explained. Soarin perked up.

“Wait, as in the expensive storage unit you’ve been mentioning in your letters?” He asked Rainbow Dash.

“Yup,” she nodded, “crash dummy here fell right out of the sky at full speed into it.”

“Ooo—,” Soarin winced.

“Seriously Thunderlane?” Dash got in his face to try and dispel his anxiety. She expected this from Fluttershy, but NOT a pony like him. When she got no response Applejack beckoned them into the kitchen.

“Forget it, if he wants to be stuck like that forever, let ‘em.”

“No, no, wait,” Soarin smirked like a little colt. He grabbed a book from a nearby shelf and hovered slightly above Thunderlane’s head, placing the book carefully on it. He let go and it balanced perfectly. He chuckled and grabbed another.

“Soarin!” Dash snickered. “Stop, they’re gonna fall!”

“You kidding me? See how stiff he is? I bet I’m gonna get five at least!” He said with gusto. Applejack found her lips quivering, trying not to laugh herself. The shenanigans continued until Soarin balanced six books on Thunderlane’s head and three more on his flank. Dash had fallen on her flank and was rocking back and forth, laughing hard. Applejack had lost her composure and was chuckling as well.

“Mac! Braeburn! You gotta see this!” Applejack called to them from the kitchen. Braeburn emerged first.

“What’s goin’ on in WHA?!HAHAHA!!” His eyes widened as he stared incredulously at the sight before him, Soarin bowing and Thunderlane balancing all the books, still stiff from earlier. “Ya gotta be kiddin’ me, Mac check it out!” Big Mac turned the corner.

“EeyuppPPPFFFFF—” He nearly sucked the string of wheat all the way into his mouth, before laughing heartily as well.

“Oh man,” Dash sighed and wiped tears from her eyes before hugging Soarin tightly. “Dammit I’ve missed you so much!” They all calmed down and went on to the kitchen, leaving Thunderlane in the living room with all the books still on him.

He was mortified. The internal screaming was bound to last for a few days.


After the sudden arrival of Soarin and a quick lunch, the ponies were back out to work. Thunderlane was led out to the wreckage of the storage unit to help Braeburn and Mac start putting it back together. Rainbow Dash and Applejack stayed behind to help out Granny Smith with a few more things before they would eventually join them.

Soarin, after hearing the situation, swore that he would do what he could to help them out as well, that way he could be there with Dash and lend a hoof instead of taking her away and slowing their progress.

Thunderlane was glad that Soarin stayed with Dash and Applejack for the time being, his brain still had to register that THE Soarin was here at Sweet Apple Acres. He may have been an acquaintance of the Apple family and obviously a little more to Rainbow Dash. But to him, there was a celebrity right there. It would take some getting used to.

“Come help me with this.” Braeburn snapped Thunderlane out of his day dream. He did as he was told and helped Braeburn move a large wooden board off a pile of broken machinery. Their first task in repairing the storage unit was to clear away the mess. Big Mac was already tinkering with the machinery associated. He was the only one who knew how to fix it. He put it together after all. While he did that, Braeburn and Thunderlane were salvaging bits and pieces that could be used again.

Thunderlane looked around at the piles of broken boards and beams that were all strewn about as Mac dragged the last bit of machinery over to his self-designated work area.

“Somethin’ on yer mind?” Braeburn asked, picking up on the curiosity in Thunderlane’s eyes. Thunderlane was surprised. He hadn’t really interacted with Braeburn much. In fact they had yet to even exchange words. After the way he was “introduced” to Applejack and Big Mac, friendliness was never expected.

“Oh, well, nothing.” He dodged the question while glancing at Big Mac. He hoped Braeburn would leave it at that, but he didn’t know Braeburn well.

“Aw, c’mon that look screams curiosity.” He prodded. Thunderlane glanced back at Mac, then at Braeburn again.

“I don’t want to make him or you angry. I’ve had enough Apple rage.” Thunderlane stated while rubbing his cheek. Braeburn chuckled.

“Look partner, you did us wrong, but you’re workin’ to pay it off. That’s where it ends for me. I ain’t gonna hold any grudges or pummel you in the face, got it? From the looks of things, you could use a pal to confide in while yer here. You can talk to me if ya ever need to. It ain’t in my blood to be a stranger.”

Thunderlane was definitely surprised. Thinking back to his past couple of days, it really did seem like there was more to the way they were all acting. At least with Applejack. Everypony else seemed to be treating him fairly.

“Well,” He looked back at Mac, “Promise you won’t punch me in the face?” He made sure. Braeburn chuckled.

“Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!” He made several comical motions ending with a hoof over his eye. Thunderlane just stared blankly.

“What?”

“Sorry. I learned that one from a friend of mine in town. Anyway, no punching.” Braeburn nodded. Thunderlane edged towards Braeburn to whisper.

“I heard something about him being a good builder. If this thing was so well put together, how did it just fall apart when I ran into it?” Thunderlane asked, gritting his teeth as Braeburn lifted an eyebrow. Braeburn's face suddenly scrunched and he burst out laughing, falling over on his back. “What’s so funny?” Thunderlane wasn’t sure how to feel about this response.

“Ha ha hooo haaaaaa, do you have any idea how hard ya hit it?” Braeburn managed to say between chuckles. He spread out his front legs. “You came outta th’sky like a shootin’ star!” He smacked one hoof against the other. “Right through the outer wall, I’m surprised the hole wasn’t Pegasus shaped. And—,” Braeburn rolled over, got to his hooves, looked around, and kicked a pile of split wood to reveal a metal pipe that was bent in the center, “—you were goin’ fast enough to dent this. Not to mention a lot of the wooden support beams we’re pullin’ up don’t look like this cause they fell down.” He motioned towards some of the wood they piled up. A few stood out that looked as if they had been struck, not collapsed.

It may not have been the answer Thunderlane wanted to hear, but he couldn’t argue with it. At least Braeburn laughed about it instead of strangling him. The whole short exchange was heart lifting for Thunderlane though. Braeburn was friendly from the start. He was shoved around by Big Mac, glared at by Apple Bloom, and verbally berated more times than he could count by Applejack. Granny smith was nice from the beginning as well, but it was more refreshing to have it come from someone around his age.

Feeling better, he continued to help Braeburn organize the bits and pieces into a pile of reusable and a pile of unusable. They continued for another hour, suddenly pausing as Braeburn spoke up.

“Hey, looks like somethin’s goin’ on back at the house.” He pointed towards the front porch where it looked like two grey pegasi were arguing with Applejack out front. Big Mac glanced over the machinery to get a look.

“Eeyup.” He acknowledged while squinting. Then whoever was talking to Applejack must have put her off because soon her yelling could be heard. Thunderlane finally took a look himself, admittedly curious.

“Ah!” He blinked to make sure he wasn’t seeing things, but quickly covered his mouth. Mac and Braeburn glanced at him.

“Friends of yours?” Braeburn asked, making a head motion towards the house. Thunderlane’s eyes darted between the two of them. He sighed, seeing no way of avoiding it.

“Yes. Those are my friends.” He admitted. As soon as he did the shouting got louder. Braeburn scratched his head.

“Mac, I think we better to somethin’ before A.J. starts fightin’ them.” He suggested. Mac dropped his tools and nodded.

“Eeyup.” He stepped out from his workspace and the two began walking towards the commotion. Thunderlane followed behind, reluctantly.


“Yeah I saw you hit him! And what’s with all this heavy pulling and slavery stuff?! You’re gonna hurt him! Sheesh you already have!” Flitter yelled right into the face of Applejack, who stood her ground and was doing her best to not get her hooves involved in her replies.

“Look I already told ya I’m sorry about the punch, it was a weird day, but he’s workin’ for us cause he damaged our property. I don’t see how hard it is to understand that!” Applejack’s temper was rising and she couldn’t hold it back for long. She didn’t need this right now, especially with how she was already trying to deal with things.

Cloudchaser leaned against the wooden fence of the porch. She didn’t want to be there, but her sister dragged her along, insisting they had to get Thunderlane out. As far as Cloud Chaser was concerned, Flitter was just being her girly, over protective-self, and this was a mess Thunderlane had to get himself out of.

“Not if you’re gonna make him do earth pony work! I’m not gonna let you break him like that!” Flitter continued.

“It ain’t yer decision, it ain’t yer problem, and it ain’t none of yer business!” Applejack pressed a hoof against Flitter’s chest, making her recline.

“God! You are such a c—”

“Hey now what’s all goin’ on here?” They were cut off by Braeburn as he, Big Mac, and Thunderlane approached. Flitter turned sharply to see who interrupted her, ready to give them what for as well, but she never got the chance. Her jaw dropped, and her pupils widened.

“Oh… hi…” her eyes shifted between Big Mac and Braeburn. The feathers in her wings all puffed out and her face made an entire pigment change to red. “Uh…” She failed to speak. Applejack raised an eyebrow at her, Mac took no notice, but Braeburn could tell what was happening and sighed. This wasn’t the first time he and Mac received this kind of attention from a mare they didn’t know. They had to stop being in the same place if this kept happening.

Cloudchaser, much more resilient to hunky stallions than her sister, smacked herself in the forehead and shook her head, moving up and draping her hoof over her sister’s shoulders.

“Look farm filly,” She addressed Applejack, “I think what my sister is trying to say is you should stop being a bitch and cut Thunderlane some slack.” She put bluntly. Applejack narrowed her eyes at her, Braeburn and Mac giving disapproving looks as well. “I mean, he’s a lazy slacker.”

“Hey! I’m right—”

“I know you’re there Thunderlane,” She continued, “he got himself in this shit, I’m not gonna deny that, but seriously, what with the 24/7 PMS you have going here?” Cloudchaser continued her very blunt and indecent way of putting things. Applejack had nearly grinded a hoof shaped hole into the floor below her. She was on the verge of throwing another punch, but she refused to let anger control her. Her resolve on that matter was weakening though.

“I don’t know who ya think ya are, but I’ve had it with you and yer swoonin’ sister, git off our property before I think twice about not rearranging yer face!”

“Whoa there!” Cloudchaser threw her hoofs up, “hate to break it to you sweetheart, but you don’t scare me, also nice move bringing the farm hunks over to silence my sister, but that doesn’t work on me. It takes more than that to—”

“What the hell is going on over here?!” Soarin came down the stairs into the living room with Rainbow Dash beside him, a hoof draped over her back. Cloudchaser stopped dead. Her voice stuck on the “E” of the word me. Her left eyelid twitched.

“AHHH!!!!” She flung herself backwards, pulling her sister with her, the two tumbling down the stairs of the front porch. “That, that, that, that,” She stuttered while blushing furiously. Soarin and Dash stepped out, Dash looking at the sisters quizzically.

“Flitter? Cloud Chaser?”

“What—?” Cloud Chaser took note of Soarin’s arm around her. “I can’t take this. Flitter, we’re leaving!” Cloud Chaser grabbed her still flustered sister and forced her up into the air, flying off.

“What just happened?” Soarin asked, looking back at the Apple family and Thunderlane, who had hidden slightly behind Mac, still intimidated by Soarin’s sheer presence. They all jumped as Applejack slammed a hoof so hard against the floor the board splintered. She was gritting her teeth and breathing heavily.

“Hey!” Mac approached her and tried to put a hoof on her shoulder but she batted it away.

“I’m fine!” She belted before stomping up the stairs. They all let her go, knowing she was already trying to sort a lot of things out. This little incident probably didn’t do much to help her with it.

“I’m so confused.” Said Soarin.


After the commotion was over, they all spent the rest of the day working on the storage unit. All of them but Applejack, who hadn’t emerged from her room since the surprise visit from Thunderlane’s friends.

Thunderlane himself was embarrassed. That little scene certainly wasn’t going to help the Apple Family’s view of him. Those were his friends after all, and while they were only doing it for him, they sure botched the first impression. He also found he felt bad. He didn’t know why, but after the nice gesture Applejack did for him with the dinner and her confession to having some troubling things on her mind, he felt he owed her now. Maybe this was another case of not wanting to be shown up. She was nice to him after she did something bad, now he felt the need to do the same. He didn’t directly do anything bad to her, but he felt responsible for his friends.

Why the hell was he like this? Even when it wasn’t a competition he made it one. While a small part of him wanted to apologize out of courtesy, most of him wanted to because he didn’t want to seem like the worse pony. Maybe he had some things he had to sort out as well. The more things happened around here the more he felt like he and Applejack had a lot in common. Honestly, that really scared him.

“Whoa! Careful there!” Thunderlane blinked and internally freaked out as he almost hit Soarin in the face with a pile of wooden boards.

“S—SORRY!” Thunderlane quickly and loudly apologized. Soarin winced and shook his head out.

“At ease soldier, no need to be so tense.” Soarin chuckled before taking the boards from him. Thunderlane stood still for a moment as Soarin flew the boards over to a nearby pile. He was suddenly elbowed in the side by Dash as she walked by,

“Seriously Thunderlane, RELAX.” She said. Thunderlane blinked and glared at her.

“Easy for you to say, you and he are fu—OW” He yelped as she elbowed him again.

“I’ll let that one slide, but seriously, listen. Soarin hates it when other ponies put him on a pedestal. Treat him normally, for his sake.” She left it at that and hovered over to Soarin’s side.

“Again, easy for you to say.” Thunderlane mumbled as he turned to do more “heavy lifting”.


After many hours, which all seemed like a year to Thunderlane, the sun was setting and Granny called for dinner. The ponies all finished their current task and prepared to turn in for the night. Thunderlane slid a pile of wood off his back and plopped down on the ground for a moment. Once again the day had left him a physical wreck. He wanted desperately to stretch out his wings. The rope was really starting to irritate him. There was no way he was getting it off though, especially after his first escape attempt. Something else this experience was teaching him was just how much he relied on flight.

Hunger pangs in his stomach were enough to motivate him to get up. All the work had built up an appetite, and he wasn’t going to miss dinner. Being well fed was one of the few “perks” of being on the farm, if you could call it that. As he trotted a good few yards behind the rest,

“Oh? You think so? Then let’s see it.” Soarin’s voice caught his attention. He turned to see him and Dash face to face, both with smirks on their faces.

“Prepare to be amazed flycolt, this body isn’t just for show you know.” She taunted. Soarin bounced his eyebrows,

“Not that I’d complain.” He flirted while looking her all over. She tipped his chin back up,

“Pay attention.” She winked and hovered a few feet away. Thunderlane rolled his eyes at all the sly sweet talking, but he decided to watch to see just what they were going on about.

Dash set her hooves on the ground and spread her wings. She proceeded quickly through motions that were too fast for Thunderlane to break down from his distance, but what it looked like was a small hope and a jump, followed by her thrusting her wings back, followed by something he just could not put into words.

Rainbow Dash fired from the spot, a loud sonic boom echoing through the air. Big Mac and Braeburn turned to see her whisk by so fast it looked like an actual rainbow flew right beside them. She angled up into a loop, straining herself against the g-forces, doing her best to loop all the way back around. She was clearly struggling to change her trajectory, but eventually had looped all the way back down and passed by Soarin close to the ground. However she lost control as she tried to slow down, and was struck by a pocket of air, flinging her slightly upward while flailing and yelling, “WhooooaAAAooooAAAAAAAHHHH.”

Snapped from his awe at the extreme display of speed, Thunderlane gasped as he watched her lose control. There was nothing he could do, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t worried she would get hurt.

But then a second sonic boom resonated through the air, and a light blue streak rocketed towards her. It intercepted Dash, before two wings extended to slow them down. Thunderlane glanced back to where Soarin was standing to find that Soarin was in fact, no longer there. He turned back towards Dash to see Soarin had caught her in his arms, and was slowing them both down.

Thunderlane’s eyes darted between them, and where Soarin had previously stood, his jaw nearly unhinged by how hard it had dropped. Rainbow Dash’s display was impressive, but Soarin did it even faster and with so much control and precision. It was unheard of, but then again he was part of the Wonderbolts’ ace squad.

Soarin eventually brought them to a halt and Dash opened her eyes, looking directly into his.

“Well I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed, but you have to work on the control. I won’t always be able to catch you.” He said with a wink. Dash scoffed and crossed her hooves.

“Darn, I was hoping I had it.” She looked visibly distraught.

“How about a thank you?” Soarin asked while comically edging the side of his face closer to her. She smiled, grabbed his head, and turned it towards her,

“I was getting to that,” She said before closing the gap between them.

“THAT’S where we exit,” Braeburn suddenly appeared beside Thunderlane and edged him along. Thunderlane glanced briefly at Soarin and Dash, but quickly turned away as they proceeded to pretty much make out in the middle of the path.

“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.” He agreed with Braeburn and they continued on to get dinner.

Yet he couldn’t get his mind off of the amazing abilities he just witnessed. A lot of things were really being put into perspective for him during his time here. Here specifically, it was the reason he was in this mess to begin with. He was just as good as Rainbow Dash? Forget it. After seeing her nearly perfectly copy an ace Wonderbolt’s signature move, there was no contest.

Biting off more than he could chew. Pure recklessness. He knew from the start he couldn’t pull off a sonic boom yet he tried anyway. He knew escaping was pointless, but he tried anyway. Why did he keep doing this to himself? Maybe all this hard work was the Apple family’s way of showing him he shouldn’t take such risks. Applejack did say something about him understanding what he had done to them. Was this what she meant? Part of him thought so, but part of him didn’t.

Applejack. There was something he had nearly forgotten about in all the commotion. She had not appeared since Flitter and Cloudchaser barged their way in. He had no idea where she had gone, but he remembered he wanted to apologize.

He just couldn’t make up his damn mind. He wanted so badly to rebel, to tell them off, and to argue his freedom from all this work. However, the Apple Family had treated him so well after a few initial incidents, and there was also evidence that there was more to their troubles than just him.

Above all else, he was tired of being confused.


Dinner was nice and lively, especially once Soarin and Rainbow Dash finally joined them all. While Thunderlane remained quiet, he was very interested in Soarin. Hell, what Pegasus wouldn’t be? He was a genuine Wonderbolt. He let the rest do the talking and listened in on all the stories and info he had to share.

Above all he was left in awe when Braeburn brought up the tornado incident in Ponyville a little while back. Thunderlane was on weather duty when the strange tornado appeared, and under Rainbow Dash’s command, tried to counter it with the rest of the team. The last things he remembered from the incident was that their anti-twister didn’t work and something struck him really hard right in the center of the back, knocking him out.

Soarin admitted he wasn’t able to give all the details, but he did mention that the tornado was being conjured by a force of pegasi criminals, and with the help of Rainbow Dash, the Wonderbolts were able to repel them. Rainbow Dash had elbowed him repeatedly during his recount, making him change the course of his explanation each time. There were clearly parts being left out, but what Thunderlane heard was enough to wow him immensely.

Talk about his situation being beyond explainable. Here he was, eating dinner with a family he wasn’t part of, wings tied, in work custody, and listening to a Wonderbolt tell stories. Things couldn't get much weirder.




“IS THAT A CHALLENGE?”

Pinkie Pie, OUT. This isn’t your story.

“Aww… fine, fine.




Despite all the fun he was having listening to Soarin’s stories, Thunderlane still had Applejack on his mind. She was still not around. Not even for dinner. Had she been upstairs the whole time? Her dinner was even on the table, and she hadn’t come down.

Why? Why did he care about apologizing so much? Why couldn’t he keep his competitive side down? She apologized to him, so he had to apologize to her, he didn’t want to look like the worse pony. IT MADE NO SENSE. You apologize to somepony because you feel the need to. NOT because you want to look better for it.

Or was it really that at all? He felt no need to apologize to the rest of them who were present. Mac and Braeburn seemed a little put off by it too, but he felt no need to apologize to them. Applejack was different than the rest of them. The others seemed to let him be aside from putting work on him. Applejack was always the one to tell him where to go, what to do, how to do it, and how much he was doing it wrong. He STILL felt a bit miffed about how she turned him away from pulling carts into town. He knew he couldn’t, and he didn’t want to, but she preemptively made the choice. Something was different about not being able to whine his way out of it. If he didn’t want to do it, why did he even care?

“RGH!” He suddenly grunted and shook his head, internally gasping a moment after. He looked up and all eyes were on him. His eyes widened and he forced a fake smile onto his face. “Uhhh… haha, um,” He looked down to avoid eye contact and pushed away from the table, “sorry, I have to do something.” He left the kitchen and made his way to the stairs.

The rest all looked between each other before dismissing their wonder and continuing with dinner. Granny Smith however, kept her eyes towards the stairs and smiled. She had an idea of what Thunderlane left for and she had a good feeling about it.


Thunderlane stood outside the door to Applejack’s room, his hoof hovering in front of it, ready to knock. He was having second thoughts about disturbing her. He had been unsure about a lot of things lately. Each time he was he had gone for it regardless and each time it ended up biting him in the ass.

He put his hoof down and turned away, taking three steps towards the stairs before stopping, shaking his head, and turning back around. He reached his hoof up again to the door, but again hesitated. Was this a good idea? Was he knocking on the door to his own death? He was sure the last pony Applejack wanted to see right now was him, especially after the way his friends treated her.

Again he stopped and turned away. This time he got five steps down the hallways before he stopped and shook his head. Turning back, he went up to her door again. This time he was going to knock. This time he would do it.

He stopped again. Come to think of it, why wasn’t her family, or Rainbow Dash, one of her closest friends, going to her to see if she was alright? Maybe there was a reason. Maybe Applejack preferred to be left alone in this kind of situation. Maybe he was thinking too hard. Maybe he should just let it be.

Once again he turned away. He decided he would just have to let her be. He got to the top of the stairs and stopped. He felt like a broken record.

STALLION UP. STOP HESITATING.

He grunted in disgust at his own lack of confidence and stepped right up to Applejack’s door. He raised his hoof—”


Applejack had been lying on her bed since she confronted Flitter and Cloudchaser. She tossed and turned over and over again while trying to sort out her thoughts. She couldn’t keep getting angry like this. It wasn’t like her. Big Mac had made it clear: it was like she wasn’t even herself. If her own family thought so, what would her friends say? What would happen if she had an outburst in public? It would ruin the reputation of both her and her family.

All she wanted was for everything to go right. She just wanted her family to succeed and prosper. With this in mind, she wanted to have control of as much as possible to ensure it all went according to plan. But could she handle it? How much responsibility can one pony hold on their shoulders? She thought she’d have learned after the Apple bucking season incident when Big Mac was out of commission. A lesson that she learned so long ago should be written in her heart by now.

But what was she supposed to do? Big Mac had responsibilities. Apple bloom had a few, Braeburn took his share of the work, and Granny was now limited to upkeep of the house. Sure Dash helped out, but beyond that she didn’t want to burden them with more than they needed.

Was it a matter of trust?

Applejack was ambitious. She had big plans for Sweet Apple Acres. She wanted it to grow and prosper unlike any farm in her family had ever before. She wanted everything to go just as she planned it. Was she afraid to hand out extra responsibilities to her siblings? Was she afraid they would put a wrench in things? This probably explained why she was so iffy about Big Mac working the deal with Filthy Rich in order to build the new storage unit. Mac just up and did it all himself. It made her nervous beyond belief how quickly he spent the large amount of bits earned.

It all would have been fine if not for Thunderlane crashing into it and knocking it down. She partly felt like Mac should’ve considered a worst case scenario, but now she was thinking too far. There was no way he could have. The only problem was now they were beyond far behind without the added boon of what the storage unit would be used for.

This was it. This is why strange things were happening to her. She had so much on her shoulders already, and as suddenly as a star falling out of the sky, her burdens were doubled, tripled, quadrupled. Her responsible nature went into overdrive and her whole body was moving and acting on instinct. Emotions and self-control were being overshadowed and blocked out and it was making her a horrific sight to those around her.

She groaned and rubbed her eyes. She didn’t care if she wasted half a day contemplating all of it. If not for Soarin repelling the pegasi sisters with his celebrity charm, she was seconds away from losing it again and becoming violent. She had to fix it, but how?

Then the sound of knocking broke her out of her internal struggle. She blinked and looked towards the door. The shadow of hooves shown from below the door within the small glow from the hallway. She didn’t expect anypony to come to her. Nopony ever did. She made it clear a long time ago to her family that if she ever went to her room when upset, that meant she wanted to be alone and sort it out herself. Somepony either forgot or she had had fallen so hard that they felt the need to go to her anyway.

She rolled out of bed, slightly grumbling. She may have been a wreck, but she still wished to sort it out alone. Even with the way things were she felt her family should still respect her way of dealing with it. She reached for the door and opened it. Never expecting what she saw.

She stared right into the eyes of Thunderlane, who for a moment looked resolved before flinching so hard the floor creaked below him. They both just stared.

Thunderlane hadn’t thought this far into his plan. Nice going dipshit, you don’t even know what to say. He took the moment to look her over. She looked like hell. She wasn’t wearing her hat, her mane was all messy, and her eyes were all red. Had she been—, crying?

Applejack didn’t know what to say either, but when he just stood there she began to wonder why the hell he was there and why he thought disturbing her was a good idea. She lost her patience quickly, and to avoid any more fits of anger, began to close her door.

“Wait!” Thunderlane snapped out of it and shoved his arm in the door. Applejack stopped and sighed, letting him push it back open. She stood firm and glared at him as he entered her room.

“WHAT?!” She asked coldly and devoid of any brightness what so ever. Thunderlane flinched again, but this time held his ground. Applejack was waiting for it. Waiting to hear more whining and more idiotic reasons as to why he was being “mistreated”. She did not need this right now. He picked a horrible time for it and she was prepared to make him regret it.

He let his head hang slightly and looked away from her.

“Look,” he started in a serious tone, “I’m sorry.”

“Huh?” Applejack’s expression lightened and her ears twitched a few times. She wasn’t quite sure if she had heard him correctly. Did he just apologize? “Fer what?” She asked. He looked back at her.

“My friends this afternoon. Flitter and Cloud Chaser.” He clarified. Applejack scoffed and turned away.

“Nice choice of friends.” She put bluntly. Thunderlane was shocked. He quickly retorted.

“Hey! I know they’re not your kind of ponies, but they ARE good friends of mine.”

“Did ya come in here for anythin’ else? I don’t care what you think o’them. It ain’t gonna change how I think of them.”

“Sheesh!” Thunderlane rolled his eyes. “Why are you being such a hypocrite?” He instantly regretted saying that. He knew she wasn’t going to take kindly to it.

“That’s it! OUT!” She moved to push him towards the door but he moved around her.

“Just listen! I feel responsible for my friends okay? You came and apologized to me after you did something bad. Am I not allowed to do the same? My friends were complete jerks to you. To me that’s no different than if I did something bad.”

Applejack’s eyes widened in surprise. A friendly gesture and taking up responsibility for something? Was this really Thunderlane? She jumped slightly as he stomped a hoof down.

“I just wanted to apologize! What’s your problem with that? You aren’t the only one who’s allowed to feel bad about things!” He glared daggers at her for a moment before realizing her demeanor had changed. She didn’t look so angry any more. She turned away and looked down, her ears drooping.

“N—no. There ain’t nuthin’ wrong with that.” She walked back towards her bed. “Sorry I misunderstood. That’s mighty kind of ya.” She flopped back onto her bed and faced away from him.

Thunderlane stood still and just looked at her for a few seconds. He did what he came to do. Why did it feel so unsatisfying? Again, why did he care so much? He was frustrating himself now. Screw it, he wanted to know.

“So what’s going on? There’s clearly something wrong here.” He asked out of the blue. Applejack contemplated twisting around and yelling at him, but she couldn’t find the will or the energy.

“Nothin’.” She answered.

“That’s a load of shit.”

“Dammit!” She sharply turned towards him, “It ain’t none of yer business!” She retorted, but he just gave her a “yeah right” look.

“I think when I get punched in the face, it becomes my business.” Thunderlane said bluntly. Applejack bit her lip, digging for a response, but instead she just sighed and turned back over.

She wasn’t used to this. Her family usually left her alone. The only pony who ever confronted her was Big Mac, and if/when he did, it almost always turned into butting heads. For once Thunderlane had a valid argument. Her inner demons led to her physically harming him. He deserved some explanation. Didn’t mean she wanted to though. And this was definitely not the time.

“Look Thunderlane, I’m sorry I hit ya and that I’ve been a bit harsh on ya, but I can’t talk about it right now.” She said. Thunderlane was disappointed, but she followed up. “You’re right, there’s a lot of stuff goin’ on. But I don’t wanna talk about it now.” She finished sincerely. Thunderlane frowned, but at least he got some sort of answer. He turned towards the door.

“Fine.” He began his way out.

“Thunderlane.” She called to him before he could leave. He glanced over his shoulder. She didn’t turn towards him. “Thanks for wonderin’ at least. It felt good to get a little off my chest.” She kept facing the wall. Thunderlane wasn’t sure if he was being complemented.

“Sure.” He said flatly before continuing and nearly tripping over a tray of food right outside her door. He was about to verbally question it, but he stopped when he saw a note by it. It read: “give this to her, say you brought it.” –Granny Smith

Thunderlane blinked and looked between the food and Applejack. Why hadn’t he thought of that? Granny Smith was one step ahead of him. He wished it was his doing, but if Granny thought it was right he wasn’t going to question her. He had learned not to pretty quick. He shrugged and went along with it.

“Here, I brought your dinner up too.” He grabbed the tray and carried it over. Applejack turned and looked at the food, then at Thunderlane as he set it down on the bed. She didn’t answer, but Thunderlane had already felt like he overstayed his welcome. He quickly left the room and closed the door on his way out. She found herself feeling the need to thank him again. That was three times she felt he had been nice despite her view on him. Applejack tried to speak right as he left, but it didn’t come quick enough.

“T—thanks…again…” the delayed words squeaked out into the lonely room.

---To be continued---