• Published 12th May 2012
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Soarin' with Apples - Allonsbro



While spending the day at a fair in Ponyville, Soarin' is injured and stays at the farm for a while

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Chapter 8: Upside Down.

Chapter 8: Upside-Down

The tension in the air was palpable as Soarin’, Applejack, Macintosh, and Granny Smith sat at the kitchen table. Applejack sat with her head on the table, a worried expression still on her face, her grandmother comforting her. The Apple matriarch’s expression was somber as she softly stroked her granddaughter’s back. Big Macintosh stood nearby, his normally stoic expression cracking at the seams as he tried to be strong for his sister.

When Applejack had told them the news, just as Soarin’ had predicted, they had been very understanding. Granny Smith had held her granddaughter as she cried, whispering to her that it was going to be OK. Soarin’ was beginning to wonder if he should excuse himself and let the family have their time together in peace. He went to get up, but a pleading look from Applejack stopped him and he turned the attempt into an excuse to bring her a glass of water. The orange mare gratefully took the water, giving him a small smile as she drank.

“Have ye told Clover yet?” Granny asked.

The sad look returned to Applejack’s face and she looked back down at the table.

“Ya need ta tell ‘im, honey.”

“Ah know,” she replied. “Ah’ll go over there later today. Best to get it over with sooner.”

Silence reigned for another long few minutes until it was broken by the front door opening.

“Hey, everypony, Ah’m home.”

Applejack stiffened as she heard her sister’s voice. The littlest Apple came bounding around the corner, her saddlebags bouncing against her sides.

Granny was the first to react. “Howdy there, youg’un,” she said, slowly rising from the table and giving her granddaughter a smile. “How was school?”

“Good. Ah got a A+ on mah book report.”

“Good job, sweetie. Why don’tcha go an’ hang that up on the fridge.”

Beaming with pride, the little filly dropped her bags, pulled out her report and made her way through the dining room. Upon noticing Soarin’s presence, she stopped, her report falling to the floor as she exclaimed cheerfully, “Soarin! What are you doin’ here?”

“Hey, Bloom,” the Wonderbolt replied, forcing a smile. “Thought I’d make good on that promise and stop by. How’ve you been?”

“Fine,” she said, picking her report off the floor and moving to put it on the fridge. When she returned, she paused in the doorway, noticing something was amiss. “What’s goin’ on?”

Applejack had turned her head, trying to hide her tear-streaked face from her sister. The filly saw right through her attempt and immediately bounded up onto a chair next to Applejack.

“What’s wrong, sis?” she asked. When she didn’t receive a reply, she looked to everypony gathered around the room. “What’s wrong with Applejack?”

“Ain’t nothin’ wrong with her, honey,” said Granny, coming over and putting her hoof on the filly’s shoulder. “She just ain’t feelin’ well is all. How about you come in the kitchen and help me start dinner? Ah’m sure she’ll feel better when she gets somethin’ in her belly.”

“All right, Granny.” Turning back to her sister, the youngest Apple sibling gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Don’t worry, sis. Me an’ Granny’ll make ya feel better.” She hopped down off the stool and went into the kitchen.

The matriarch gave Applejack an understanding smile. “How about if you go take a little walk,” the elder mare whispered once Apple Bloom was out of earshot. “That’ll give ya time ta clear yer head.”Applejack sniffed and nodded and Granny followed Apple Bloom into the kitchen.

The orange mare looked to the Wonderbolt and asked, “Would you come with me, Soarin’? Ah don’t really want to be alone right now.”

“Sure, AJ.”

Soarin’ held the door open for her and they went outside. No sooner had the door shut behind them, Applejack let out a sob and a fresh wave of tears flowed down her face. Soarin’ wrapped a wing around her, letting her know he was there for her.

“W-what am Ah gonna tell Apple Bloom?” she sobbed. “Ah’m supposed to be her big sister. Ah’m supposed to set a good example for her. What’s she gonna think’a me when she finds out?”

“She’ll probably be happy that she’s going to be an aunt. Apple Bloom loves you. Being pregnant won’t change that.”

“Ah know. Ah just feel like Ah’ve let her down.”

Soarin’ gave her a comforting squeeze with his wing. Silence fell as the two of them began their walk around the orchard. The sun was lowering in the sky, but still a fair distance from setting. Soarin’ kept his wing around Applejack for the duration of their walk. He tried to lift her spirits by telling her a couple of funny stories and eventually managed to get a small smile from her. When it was time for dinner, they went back to the house.

“Can you stay for dinner?” Applejack asked as they climbed the steps to the porch. Her tone suggested that she wasn’t asking if his schedule was free as much as she was hoping that he would stay a while longer.

He nodded. “I’ll stay however long you want me to.”

She smiled at his response and he felt a stirring in his chest. He’d hated seeing her so sad and was happy that she was smiling again. Her green eyes, which had until now lacked their former vibrance, shone anew and he smiled back at her, losing himself in those beautiful…

‘No. Stop it. She’s still with Clover. What’s more, she’s very vulnerable right now and she doesn’t need you throwing a wrench in the works.’

“Thanks,” said Applejack, “Ah really appreciate how supportive yer bein’.”

The two of them went inside and sat down to have dinner, a simple meal of steamed vegetables fresh from the Apples’ home garden. Conversations were minimal, but Apple Bloom was particularly talkative and her idle chatter about her day acted as a torch keeping away the awkward silences.

When the meal was concluded, Applejack donned her hat and left to go see Clover. Soarin’ offered to go with her, thinking he could help somehow. She declined, saying that this was something that she needed to do herself.

Time passed slowly as Soarin’ and the family waited for Applejack’s return. They took turns helping Apple Bloom with her homework and when she was done, they started a board game, then another. They were about half-way through a third when it was time for Apple Bloom to go to bed.

When Applejack finally came home, it was late and the moon was high in the sky. Her hooves dragged on the ground and her head hung low. Her face looked distraught as she walked through the door and she looked like a single word, either good or bad, could lift her high or send her crashing down. Soarin’ feared the worst.

“What happened?” he asked her.

There was a long silence and Applejack continued to stare at the floor, transfixed, as if the world outside didn’t exist. Granny Smith slowly approached her granddaughter and pulled her into a hug. The orange mare returned the hug, holding on to her grandmother.

“What’d he say?” the green mare asked.

Applejack broke the hug and cleared her throat. Her voice cracked as she tried to keep her composure. “He…he said he needed time to think.”

One of Macintosh’s forehooves stomped the ground. For the first time since Applejack had told the family of her pregnancy, he said something. “The hay is that supposed to mean?!”

Soarin’ cringed at the barely bridled anger hidden in the red stallion’s tone. Granny raised a hoof at her Grandson in a placative gesture.

“Macintosh, calm down.”

“No!” the stallion’s voice boomed. “He’s the father’a mah sister’s foal and he needs to pony up and accept his responsibility and do right by her.” The red stallion began heading for the door.

“Big Macintosh, where are you goin’?” asked Applejack.

“Ah’m gonna give that colt a talkin’ to.”

Applejack galloped over to her brother before he could reach the door and stood in front of him. “Big Macintosh, please.”

“Macintosh Apple,” Granny bellowed, “Ah don’t care if yer a grown stallion. So help me, if you open that door Ah’ll tan yer flank six ways ta Sunday!”

The eldest Apple child stopped dead in his tracks. “But, Granny…”

“But nuthin’! Ah’m not sayin’ yer wrong about that colt needin’ to accept his responsibility. But, it ain’t yer place to make him do that. Ah don’t care how good yer intentions are. ‘Sides, yer sister needs you right now. Don’t go startin’ trouble a’fore ya take care’a the trouble here.”

Big Macintosh hung his head and murmured, “Yes, ma’am.” He then turned to his sister. “Ah’m sorry, AJ. Yer hurtin’ right now and Ah should be supportin’ you.”

Applejack breathed a sigh of relief and hugged her brother. The big stallion’s forelegs enveloped her as he returned the hug and he gently stroked her back, comforting her.

“And,” Granny continued in a softer voice, looking at Applejack, but speaking to both of her grandchildren, “Clover didn’t say he weren’t gonna do nuthin’. He just said he needed time ta think. Just give him time and Ah’m sure he’ll come around.”

Applejack nodded. “Thanks, Granny.”

The elder mare embraced her grandchildren. “Now head on up to bed, honey. You’d best get some shut eye.”

Applejack nodded and went upstairs to her bedroom.

“Mister Soarin’,” said Granny, turning to the Wonderbolt. “How’s about we get you set up in the guest room?”

Soarin’ silently obeyed, following Granny up the stairs and to the hall closet. The older mare took out a few extra blankets and led him to the guest room.

“Here ya go,” she said, placing the blankets on the bed, “just holler if you need anything.”

“Thank you. I’m…sorry if I’m being an imposition.”

“Ain’t no problem at all.” The old mare paused for a moment, looking him over. “You’ve been awful quiet this whole time. Got somethin’ on yer mind?”

Soarin’ looked at her in surprise. Ever since Applejack had told her family, a small persistent doubt had formed in the Wonderbolt’s mind.

“It’s nothing,” he said.

The green mare sat down on the bed. “Sonny, Ah’ve seen plenty’a ponies with nuthin’ on their mind and you ain’t one of ‘em. What’s troublin’ ya?”

Soarin’ sighed and joined Granny sitting on the bed. “It’s just…your family is really close-knit. And all day, I’ve been feeling kinda like an extra wheel. I guess part of me is wondering if this thing with AJ is a family thing and I should butt out.”

The old mare closed her eyes and pushed a stray lock of her white mane out of her face. The two of them sat in silence for a while like that and for a moment Soarin’ thought Granny had fallen asleep. This thought was dispelled when she opened her eyes and spoke.

“Sonny, Ah think yer right. This is a matter fer family. But to us Apple folk, family means somethin’ more than blood. Yer family celebrates with you in the good times and sticks with ya in the bad’uns. They’re the ponies at yer side when ya need ‘em. And Applejack needs her family right now more’n ever.”

The elderly mare placed her hoof on his shoulder and locked her eyes with his. “Ya ain’t been here long, but Ah think Applejack found a real friend in you. She’s gonna need that friendship more’n ever now.”

Soarin’ nodded, realizing that she was right. Slowly, Granny got down off the bed and made her way to the door, wishing him a good night as she softly closed it behind her. Soarin’ sighed and got under the covers of the bed, folding his hooves behind his head and staring up at the ceiling.

He thought about Applejack, specifically about his new found affection for her. As much as he hated to admit it, what he had said to Granny Smith hadn’t entirely been the truth. He wanted to help Applejack, but he couldn’t quell his worry that his feelings for her would make helping her difficult, especially now that she and Clover would be raising a foal together. The blue stallion uttered a groan and placed his hooves over his face, wishing that he wasn’t feeling this way and could just focus on helping Applejack.

As his mind wandered, evading sleep and thinking of his predicament, his thoughts were interrupted by a small creaking sound. His ears swiveled and just when he thought he was hearing things, he heard it again. It wasn’t the sound of the house settling. That sounded more like the screen door at the back of the house. Needing something to distract him, he got out of bed and looked out the window.

The moon was not quite full, its pale light shining down on the orchard. Soarin’ squinted and saw a shadow moving near the edge of the trees. He could just make out the form of a pony slowly walking along the rows of trees.

“Is that…AJ?” he said to himself. He opened his window to get a better look and his suspicions were confirmed. The orange mare turned and began making her way down one of the rows of apple trees.

Soarin’ shivered as the rapidly cooling night air blew through his window. Knowing Applejack would be just as cold, he quickly grabbed the comforter off of his bed and climbed out the window, taking to the air above the trees. He scanned the rows of the orchard until he found her. She had gotten a good distance down the row and seemed to be working her way towards a clearing near the back edge of the farm, the same one that Soarin’ had found her at earlier that day. When she reached the clearing, she stopped in front of the single tree in the middle and sat down. Soarin’ landed at the edge of the clearing and slowly walked up behind her, hoping he wouldn’t startle her.

“H-howdy ma, pa,” he heard her say, causing him to stop short. The Wonderbolt took a few steps back, realizing why Applejack was out this late and not wanting to disturb her. Applejack had never really mentioned her parents except for the time that she told him where she got her hat. Soarin’ had guessed that they had passed away, but seeing it confirmed made him feel just as sad for Applejack as if she had told him herself.

“Ah…Ah told Clover about…y’know,” she continued. “He…he got real mad and started yellin’. Then Ah started yellin’ and…” she sniffled and Soarin’ heard a small sob escape, “it was awful.”

She bent down so that she was on the ground with her legs tucked up underneath her. “We talked things over and he said he needed time to think and get his head straight.” She swallowed, holding back from breaking down into sobbing. “Ah’m real scared.”

She was silent for a while, only letting out the occasional sob or sniffle. Soarin’ knew that he probably shouldn’t be listening to her talk to her parents, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave.

“You shoulda seen Big Macintosh when Ah told ‘em what Clover said. Ah thought fer sure he’d go over and drag the two of us to the altar. Granny set him straight, though.”

She sat up and idly placed a hoof over her stomach. “Ah don’t know how me and Clover are gonna get through this, but no matter what Ah know Ah’ve got mah family…and mah friends to help.”

Soarin’ smiled as he felt all of his doubts fade away. Silently, he promised himself that he would do whatever it took to help Applejack. Dealing with how he felt about her would have to wait.

Deciding to let Applejack talk with her parents in private, he turned to leave. As he moved to walk back to the house, he accidentally stepped on an errant twig, snapping it. He froze.

Applejack gasped and whirled around. “Soarin’?”

“Um, yeah it’s me,” he replied stepping towards her “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you or eavesdrop or anything like that. But I saw you leaving the house and I thought you’d be cold.” He held the comforter out with his wing, keeping his head down and looking very much like a colt caught with his hoof in the cookie jar.

She gave him a small smile. “Thanks.”

Seeing her up close, he noticed she had removed her hair ties, letting her mane flow like rivers of pure gold down her shoulders, shimmering in the moonlight. He was taken aback for a moment, thinking that she looked even more beautiful than she had in his dream. Taking the comforter, he draped it around her shoulders.

“Won’t you be cold?” she asked.

“Nah. I’m from Cloudsdale. I’m used to the cold weather.”

Both ponies sat in awkward silence for a long time. Soarin’ scuffed his hoof on the ground and Applejack pulled the blanket closer around her.

“So, uh, how much of that didja hear?” asked Applejack, breaking the silence.

“Pretty much all of it. Sorry.”

“S’all right. Ah like to come out here every now and again and talk to them. Makes me feel safe, like they’re still watchin’ over me.”

Soarin’ nodded. Deciding to leave Applejack to talk with her parents in peace, he got up to leave.

“Wait,” Applejack called, raising a hoof to stop him. “Would…would you mind stayin’ here a little longer?”

The Wonderbolt wordlessly sat back down. Silence reigned on the hilltop once more, neither pony wanting or needing anything to be said.

Thinking about what Applejack said about her parents brought back memories of Soarin’s own mother. How long had it been since he’d dropped by to visit her? He visited her every Hearth’s Warming, and they wrote letters to each other often, but that was mostly it. He didn’t mean to fall out with her, but sometimes his job just kept him too busy to visit.

His ear twitched when he realized Applejack had said something.

“What was that?”

“Ah said thank you,” she replied a little louder, turning her head to give him a small smile. “Thanks for bein’ so supportive of me while Ah try to get through this. You were probably just plannin’ on spendin’ the day and goin’ back home and Ah appreciate you bein’ here for me.”

The blue pegasus wrapped a wing around her and returned her smile with one of his own. “I’ll always be here,” he said, “whenever you need me.”

He didn’t know why he said that. It just sort of came out, but the Wonderbolt realized that he had meant every word of it. He, like Applejack, had no idea what would happen. But he knew that no matter what happened, he would be there for her, no matter what it took. He might never be able to tell her how he felt about her. But, as long as he was there to help Applejack, he was OK with that.


“Equestria girls, we’re undeniable. Boots on hooves, bikinis on top.”

A few days after Soarin’ and Applejack’s meeting at her parents’ grave, the Apple’s upstairs bathroom filled with steam and the sound of Soarin’s voice as he sang a Sapphire Shores hit song that had gotten stuck in his head. Having finished using the shower brush on his back, he commenced using it as a microphone while scrubbing his chest with a washcloth.

“Furry coats so cute, we’ll blow your mi-ind. Ahh. Ahh. Ahh. Ahh. Ahhh. Ohh.”

His shower concert was unceremoniously interrupted with a knocking on the bathroom door. Startled, he cleared his throat and tried to cover up any embarrassment apparent in his voice.

“Uhh…occupied,” he stammered. Hearing no reply, he went back to his shower, hoping that whoever had knocked hadn’t heard him singing. He made a mental note to get more manly songs stuck in his head in the future.

A brief, almost filly-like scream came from the Wonderbolt as the door slammed open. The pegasus whipped his head around the curtain.

“Applejack! I’m in the middle of a shower! “What are you-”

“BLAUGH”

The stallion’s ears flattened against his skull as he heard the contents of the orange mare’s stomach emptying into the toilet.

“Oh.”

Applejack heaved a few more times then grabbed a tissue to wipe her mouth.

“Ugh,” she muttered. “Ah hate mornin’ sickness.” Throwing the tissue away and flushing her former breakfast, she turned to the wet-maned Wonderbolt. “Mornin’, how are you?”

Soarin’ pulled the curtain up to cover himself so just his head was poking out. “Just hunky-dorey. Couldn’t you have done that in the other bathroom?”

“Granny’s usin’ it. ‘Sides, you walk around naked all the time. What’s the difference?”

He ducked further behind the curtain, blushing fiercely. “It…it’s the principle of the thing.”

Applejack rolled her eyes and smirked. “All right, Ah’m goin’. Have fun singin’. Just don’t quit yer day job,” she called, giggling as she closed the door.

Soarin’s face turned beet red and the stallion let out an embarrassed groan.

Applejack chuckled a few more times just outside the bathroom, then made her way downstairs to have a second go at breakfast, singing to herself.

“…fast flyin’, fierce, we trot till we dro- Consarn it!”




Later that day found Soarin’ working in the south field with Big Macintosh. There were a few dead trees that needed pulling up to make room to plant new seedlings. Soarin was tasked with wrapping large chains around the trees and hooking them to the red stallion’s yoke. He suspected that his help wasn’t needed, but there wasn’t much to do and he wanted to help as much as he could.

The blue pegasus stood by and watched as Macintosh, newly chained to the tree, dug his hooves into the ground and started pulling. The big stallion grunted and grimaced in concentration. Slowly the eldest Apple pulled at the chains, making the dead tree start to bend. Soarin heard the creaking of the wood and the snapping of the smaller roots as the tree slowly came up out of the ground.

The Wonderbolt stared in wide-eyed amazement as the red stallion uprooted the tree, sending it crashing to the ground. A job like that should have taken at least three ponies, two if they were both earth ponies. The combination of what he had just witnessed and the memory of the altercation in the living room a few days prior gave the Wonderbolt a new sense of respect for Applejack’s brother and for Granny Smith, who had stopped her grandson from doing something he’d regret despite his anger at the time.

The tree having been pulled down, Macintosh sat down and wiped his forehead, looking back and admiring his work. Soarin’ helped him unhook the chains and the two of them picked up axes to start chopping the dead wood and load it onto a nearby cart. Soarin’ didn’t work as fast as Macintosh, being unaccustomed to putting his lips through such a vigorous exercise of endurance, so he tried to make up for it by carrying his wood and Macintosh’s to the cart. This meant that the red stallion could chop without breaking his rhythm and the two of them made short work of the tree in a little under an hour.

When all of the dead wood was loaded onto the cart, the two stallions sat down to take a short break. They sat in relative silence for a while. Soarin’ hadn’t gotten to talk with Macintosh very much and tried to start up a conversation.

“So…uh, is it all right if I call you Mac?”

“Nnope,” the eldest Apple replied, hardly even moving.

“Oh, you prefer Macintosh?”

“Eeyup.”

“OK.” An awkward silence fell before Soarin’ decided to try again. “Beautiful day, huh?”

“Eeyup.”

“What do you guys have left to do before winter?”

The red stallion thought for a moment. “Little harvestin’ and repair.”

Another silence.

“Well I’ll be happy to help with any of that if you need me.”

“Much appreciated.”

A longer silence.

“You’re not much for conversation, are you?”

“Nnope.”

“Rather let your actions do the talking?”

“Eeyup.”

Soarin’ nodded in understanding. “Welp,” he said, stretching. “I’m ready to get started on the next tree, how about you?”

The earth pony cricked his neck. “Eeyup.”

Both stallions worked in relative silence for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon, stopping only for short breaks and to have the lunch that Macintosh had brought with them. The sun reached its zenith and began the downward trek across the sky when they were finishing the last tree.

“Hey, do you mind if I take off?” asked Soarin’. “Applejack asked me to take over selling apples for her while she picks Apple Bloom up from school.”

Big Macintosh set his ax down, leaning it against a recently felled trunk. “Nnope.”

“Thanks.”

Soarin’ opened his wings and took off, flying in the direction of Ponyville’s market square. He soon reached his destination, landing near the cart where Applejack sold her family’s wares.

“Hey.”

“Howdy. Thanks for doin’ this,” she said, removing her apron and giving it to him.

“No problem. Are you sure you’re OK with leaving me alone with the stand?”

“Sure Ah’m sure. You did good during cider season and this ain’t too different. ‘Sides, it might help business a little. Been kinda slow lately.” She was quiet for a moment, a contemplative frown overpowering her smile. “Ah’m gonna tell Apple Bloom today.”

Soarin’ placed a hoof on her shoulder, giving her a comforting smile. “Good luck.”

She returned the smile. “Thanks. Well, better get goin’. Have fun. Sell a lot’a apples.”

“You got it.”

The orange mare left in the direction of the schoolhouse and Soarin’ took a moment to stretch, relieving his sore muscles from working with Big Macintosh. Looking around the square, he took in the sight of the town. Ponies greeted each other and paused for a friendly chat as they went about their business, a sight not often seen in the larger cities like Cloudsdale or Manehattan. The blue stallion liked the small town charm of the place and hoped that he’d be able to spend some time looking around soon.

“Excuse me.”

Breaking from his reverie, Soarin’ smiled and greeted his first customer, a white pegasus with a light blue mane.”

“Good afternoon, ma’am. How can I help you today?”

“Are you Soarin’ the Wonderbolt?”

The stallion’s smile almost slipped. He’d forgotten that going out in public meant recognition as a Wonderbolt. “Uh, yes.”

The mare beamed. “Really? Wow! What are you doing here in Ponyville? Do the Wonderbolts have a show coming up?”

“No, I’m just here helping out a friend.”

“Oh, I see,” said the mare, nodding in understanding. “Hey, would you mind if I got an autograph? My son is a huge fan of yours.”

Soarin’ reached into a shelf in the cart and pulled out a pen. “Sure. Who’s it for?”

“Chip Mint.”

Soarin’ signed his name on a piece of paper and passed it to the mare. “There you go.”

“Thank you so much. Also, could I have some apples?”

Soarin’s smile widened. “Sure. What kind?”

“Uhh, some red delicious, a couple of honeysuckle, and maybe some golden delicious.” Four of each.”

“You got it.”

Soarin quickly assembled the fruit and put it in a bag. When he turned to give it to the mare, he saw several other ponies had lined up behind her. The mare gave him the required payment, thanked him again and made way for the next customer.

The next hour was more or less the same. Most of Soarin’s customers had noticed that a Wonderbolt was at the Apple’s stand and came to say hello or ask for an autograph. Soon a long line was forming in front of the stall. Soarin’ did his best to fill all their orders as quickly as possible, but the line never seemed to get any shorter. To make matters worse, a few paparazzi had appeared and began taking pictures. The Wonderbolt kept on an outward smile but inwardly wished that he were a unicorn so he could teleport away.

He felt a sense of hope as he saw a familiar cyan pegasus approaching. He waved her over.

“Hey, Rainbow,” he greeted, having to shout to be heard.

“Hey,” she shouted back. “What’s going on around here?”

“I took over running the stand for a bit and I got swarmed.”

The prismatic mare was about to reply when a nearby photographer’s flash bulb went off a little too close to her for her liking. She glared at the brown pegasus behind the luminary assault.

“Hey! What’s the big idea? Get that thing outta my face!”

“Sorry,” the stallion replied, “just trying to get some shots of Soarin’.” The camera flashed again, making Soarin’ and Rainbow blink.

“Yeah? Well maybe he doesn’t want you guys taking pictures of him,” she retorted, pushing the camera away. Her wings sprang up as she took a defensive stance.

Soarin’ quickly tried to diffuse the situation, placing a hoof on her shoulder. “It’s OK, Rainbow. Hey, could you help me sell apples? Don’t worry; they’ll leave soon when I tell them I’M NOT DOING INTERVIEWS.” He shouted the last part loud enough for them to hear. Several ponies standing nearby with notepads frowned, jotted down a few notes and began to trickle away.

Rainbow helped him fill customers’ orders and eventually the camera flashes died down and the ponies that weren’t in line to buy apples left.

“Why were those photographers such jerks?” asked Rainbow as she put a few granny smith apples into a bag for a customer. “Why didn’t you just tell ‘em to buzz off? They’re invading your privacy.”

Soarin’ sighed. “I’ve been a Wonderbolt for a long time. You learn pretty quickly that the press doesn’t really care whether or not you want your picture taken. Celebrities are big news and ponies want to know about them. I used to hate it when I first started, but now it’s easier to ignore. Makes me appreciate my personal time a lot more too.”

They continued selling fruit and slowly the supply in the baskets and the number of ponies in line began to dwindle. When the last apple had been sold, Soarin’ stepped away from the stand and just signed autographs until the last fan that wanted one had it.

“Is Applejack OK?” asked Rainbow, standing next to him as he started packing up the stand.

Soarin’ paused a moment, not sure if he should divulge Applejack’s current situation.

The rainbow mare seemed to sense what he was thinking. “It’s OK, she told me. Invited all the girls for lunch yesterday and spilled the beans.”

“Ah,” Soarin’ nodded; glad that Applejack’s friends had been brought up to speed. “Yeah, she’s fine.”

“Any word from Clover?”

The Wonderbolt shook his head. “Not yet. AJ’s pretty worried. She goes over to his house every day and they talk, but he says he still needs time to think about things. They’re having dinner tonight to talk some more.”

The cyan pegasus frowned. “What is that guy’s deal? It’s not like they’re getting married or anything. They’re just having a kid together.”

“Having a foal is a big thing, Rainbow,” he replied. “A lot of things change. It’s even worse when the pregnancy isn’t planned. I do agree with you a little, though, and I hope Clover makes up his mind soon. Going through this is going to be hard enough for Applejack without somepony by her side to help her.”

She quirked an eye at him. “How do you know so much about this?”

“Well, my-“

“Ah’m gonna be a aunt! Ah’m gonna be a aunt!” squealed a voice attached to a yellow blur blazing down the street.

Soarin’ felt the wind escape his lungs in a wheeze as he was tackled to the ground.

“Can ya believe it, Soarin’?” asked Apple Bloom as she stood on his chest, her eyes wide with excitement. “Applejack’s havin’ a baby and Ah’m gonna be a aunt!” Looking in the direction of Carousel Boutique, she exclaimed, “Ah gotta go tell Sweetie Belle and Scoots. Maybe we can be Cutie Mark Crusader Midwives.”

Soarin’ let out an ‘oof’ as the excited filly leapt off his chest and bolted away to tell her friends the news. Applejack approached the stand as Rainbow helped Soarin’ up.

“I see Apple Bloom took the news well,” he said.

“Uh-huh,” the orange mare replied. “She’s been tellin’ everypony she meets on the way from the school house. Reckon everypony in town knows by now.”

“Uh-oh.” Soarin’ suddenly became worried for Applejack. He knew that there was a certain stigma that came with unwed pregnancy.

She waved a hoof. “Don’t worry none. Everypony’d find out sooner or later. Might as well be sooner, when Ah can nip the rumors in the bud. Mah family’s got a good reputation ‘round here, so Ah don’t think anypony’ll think poorly of me. ‘Sides, long as Ah’ve got mah family, Ah don’t care what anypony else thinks.”

“Yeah,” said Rainbow, rising on her rear legs into a fighting stance. “Plus, anypony who’s got a problem with you is gonna have me to deal with.” She punched the air a few times with her forehooves to emphasize her point.

Applejack laughed. “Ah don’t reckon it’ll come to that, Rainbow, but thanks just the same. Could you do me a favor and head on over to Clover’s house and tell him Ah’ll be over once Ah close up the stand.”

Rainbow saluted. “Got it. Hey, Soarin’, once I’m done, do you maybe wanna hang out?”

“Sure thing, Rainbow.”

Rainbow grinned. “Yes! I mean, uh, cool. See you later.” With a flap of her wings, she was in the air and zooming in the direction of Clover’s house.

Soarin’ took off his apron and started helping Applejack put away the baskets and pack up her stall.

“Whoa,” she exclaimed as she hefted the cash box up to the counter. “Looks like you had a pretty good day.”

“Heh, yeah, ponies started recognizing me and asking for autographs. I guess waiting in line to meet a Wonderbolt makes a pony hungry.”

“Yeah, Ah reckon you’re right.”

When they had finished packing up the stand, Soarin’ got ready to start pushing it back to the farm. Turning to his friend, he realized that her mind had wandered somewhere else and she was staring off somewhere in the distance, a worried look on her face.

“Are you OK?” Soarin’ asked, breaking her from her reverie.

The orange mare continued to stare in the direction of Clover’s house for a moment, then turned to give her reply. “Yep, Ah am now. Ah’m still scared…” she placed a hoof on her stomach, “and Ah know that Ah’m nowhere near ready to have a foal, but Ah think that with a little bit’a help from Clover, Big Macintosh, Granny, Apple Bloom, mah friends…” She was silent for a moment, then looked up, locking her eyes with his, “…and you, Ah can make a pretty good run at it.”

“Are you kidding?” said Soarin’, giving her a crooked grin. “You’re gonna be the best mom in the world.”

She smiled. “Thanks. I-“

BOOM!

Pegasus and Earth Pony, as well as the entire market, jumped at the sound of an earth-shattering explosion and turned their eyes in the direction of the disturbance. The sight of the ring of colors spreading across the sky left no doubt as to the source.

“Holy horseapples!” exclaimed Soarin’. “I haven’t seen one of those in a while.”

They had no time to marvel further, however, as a rainbow trail streaked rapidly across the sky in their direction. The cause of the sonic rainboom skidded to a halt in front of them, a panicked look on her face.

“AJ! You gotta come quick!”

Applejack stiffened, a panicked look befalling her expression. Without another word, she began galloping in the direction of Clover’s house, with Rainbow and Soarin’ taking to the air and flying low to follow her.

They quickly came upon Clover’s house to find that the door had been left open. Applejack dashed inside without waiting while Soarin’ and Rainbow landed. The two pegasi went inside to see Applejack staring blankly at the living room. The entire place was in disarray and it appeared that some furniture was missing.

“The door was open when I got here,” said Rainbow. “I came in and I found it like this.”

“You think somepony broke in?” Soarin’ asked.

“Where’s Clover?” Applejack asked frantically. Her head jerking side to side as she scanned the room. She took off running down the hall to another part of the house. Soarin’ and Rainbow made their way through a door on the other side of the room.

They found themselves in the kitchen, which was in no better state than the living room. Several cupboards had been left open, devoid of their contents and a few appliances appeared to be missing. Something on the counter caught Soarin’s eye and he went to investigate.

“Find something?” asked Rainbow.

“A note,” he replied picking it up and opening it. His eyes scanned the paper, which had damp spots in several places. The writing was quite sloppy, but still legible. As he read, his face fell he felt an empathetic wave of grief wash over him.

Dear Applejack,
I’m not that good with words, so this is going to be kind of short. I’m a coward. I don’t really know any other way to say it. I’m scared to leave you, but I’m even more scared of staying. I’m just not ready for this and I just can’t ~~~
I’m so sorry. Maybe I’ll come back someday, if you can ever forgive me. I’m sorry.
I love you.
Clover

“What’s that?” came a voice from the door that, under any other circumstance, Soarin’ would have been glad to see. From the look on her face, she had probably guessed what the letter contained.

“Applejack…” He tried to say something to ease the worry on her face, but his voice just caught in his throat. He blinked a few times to try and hide the tears threatening to overflow. He wished with all his heart that he could tell Applejack something, anything to make the heartbroken sorrow apparent on her features to go away. He wished that this was all just a dream and in a moment consciousness would come and all would be forgotten. He didn’t even care if it was Applejack’s dream and, when she woke up, he’d fade into oblivion, never to be thought of again. She could wake up and it would all be OK. She’d be in bed, happy and safe. She could cuddle up to Clover and he’d hold her, cooing in her ear to calm her down and tell her it was all right and that he wasn’t going anywhere.

As much as the blue stallion wanted to tell her all those things, he knew he couldn’t. With a heavy heart and a single tear escaping the confines of his eye and running down his cheek, he said the only thing he could think to say.

“I’m so sorry.”

Soarin’ swore he heard the orange mare’s heart shatter. She rushed forward and snatched the note from his hoof, wiping her face to clear her vision to read it. As her eyes jumped back and forth on the page, a shadow of despondence fell darker and darker on her features. She let out several choked sobs, trying to hold off her emotions as long as possible. The weight of the wall of emotion crushing her quickly proved too much for her and she collapsed.

Soarin’ rushed forward and managed to catch her head before it hit the tiled floor. Her trademark Stetson fell from her head and she stared blankly at the wall in front of her, almost comatose.

“Oh, Celestia,” she whispered. “Please help me.”

Soarin’ felt her shaking and saw her chest heaving as she began hopelessly sobbing. His resolve finally broke and he let the well of tears begin flowing as he cried for the mare he cared about. He lied down next to her with his side against her back and draped his right wing over her. Rainbow lied down near Applejack’s head and draped her left wing over Soarin’s. The rainbow pegasus looked like she was trying to keep back an outburst of rage and sorrow the size of a tidal wave, but her stone mask was quickly showing signs of cracking. The two pegasi cried quietly while their friend wept on the floor.


“What…what am Ah gonna do now,” she wailed between sobs. “Ah can’t d-do this witho-out C-Clover. Ah can’t do this alone!”

Soarin’ bent his head down and rested his cheek on her neck. Softly, he whispered, “You will never be alone, Applejack.” He glanced up at Rainbow and she gave him a nod. “I promise you. Rainbow and I will be with you through every step.”

Dash rested her head on Applejack’s neck, just above Soarin’s. “Y-yeah,” she agreed, trying to keep her voice steady. “You know the girls’ll help, too. Plus, you got, like, a million aunts and uncles, so your Granny’s raised her share of kids. Between her and Twilight you’ll always know what to do. Pinkie or Fluttershy can foalsit.” She chuckled a little. “Rarity’ll probably make more baby clothes for the kid then it’ll ever be able to wear.” She sniffled. “Plus, with an aunt as awesome as me, that kid’s gonna be the best thing to happen to Ponyville since your Granny moved here.”

Applejack didn’t say anything. She lifted her right foreleg and placed it over her two friends’ heads, holding them in an awkward hug.

The three of them lied in silence for a long time. Finally, emotionally drained, Applejack fell asleep. The two pegasi stood up and Soarin’ wordlessly lifted Applejack onto his back and carried her into Clover’s bedroom. He gently laid her on the bed and pulled the covers over her. He stood by the bedside for a moment, watching her sleep, feeling a few more tears running down his own face. The sight of the wet streaks running across her face looked wrong to him. Somepony as wonderful as her didn’t deserve to be so sad. He touched her cheek with a hoof and gently wiped the offending streaks away.

Turning, he motioned for Rainbow to follow him out of the room and shut the door behind them.

“Can you stay with her while I go take care of something?”

“Where are you going?” she asked, her voice trembling.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be back in a while to help take her home. She shouldn’t be here in Clover’s house when she wakes up. I’m going to head over to the farm and explain everything to Macintosh and Granny. There’s no need for her to relive this. It’d be better if they already know when she wakes up.”

Rainbow nodded. Soarin’ began to walk past her in the direction of the door when her iron resolve finally broke. She threw her hooves around his neck and softly cried into his shoulder. He lifted a hoof and gently placed it on her back, letting her get it all out.

“H-how could Clover do something like this?” she asked, a desperation in her voice that pleaded with him to give her an answer.

“I don’t know, Rainbow. I don’t know.”

They broke the hug and Rainbow wiped the tears from her eyes, retreating back behind the tough mask she wore. She quietly opened the bedroom door and went inside to look after Applejack.

Soarin’ left the house and softly closed the door behind him. Taking to the sky, he quickly made his way back to the farm, taking a brief detour into the farthest field. The area was not in use anymore, the Apples not having enough hooves to keep it running, so he knew he wouldn’t be disturbed. His hooves had barely landed on the ground when he whirled around and bucked a tree as hard as he could. His vision turned red at the edges as he felt his barely contained rage at Clover overflowing. He bucked the tree over and over again, leaving gashes in the bark. When his back hooves started feeling sore, he turned around and gave it a few punches with his front hooves.

When his anger had finally abated, he stopped, panting through clenched teeth, his head drooping to the ground.

“Clover,” he growled. “if I ever see you again, you’d better hope Applejack forgives you.”





A/N: And thus, the author has given you sad feels, then brought them back up only to send them crashing down again. Dance, my little puppets, dance. Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

*Ahem*

Next chapter hopefully coming soon.

Author's Note:
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