• Published 2nd Jun 2012
  • 5,472 Views, 360 Comments

Entangled Pathways - Storm butt



It's been a long year since Soarin and Braeburn went their separate ways, and somehow every opportunity for the two to meet up was canned in one way or another. While they keep in touch through their letters, until one day Braeburn's stop arriving.

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The Long Road

Disclaimer: I do not own My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It belongs to The Hub, Hasbro, Studio B, and Lauren Faust. I do not own any of these characters in any way or how, nor do I claim ownership to the pony franchise. These characters are simply my toys.

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"It never is that easy, is it?"
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Entangled Pathways
Chapter 10: The Long Road

Why was it never as simple as it seemed when thinking about it? Wasn’t the plan just to let Braeburn live a somewhat normal and happy life with the pegasus? For a few moments Soarin honestly believed that the biggest thing he had to worry about was to make sure Braeburn and him were both happy and life was never boring. It was supposed to move along smoothly, letting life flow by easily without ever worrying about his family and who he could trust ever again. Life on the road, a stallion to show him he was loved, everything was meant to be put behind the two of them.

But no, that was far too easy to exist in this universe. There was no fairytale ending where the two never had another problem for the rest of their lives, not even close. Perhaps some alien planet where the sun rose on its own or clouds were made by themselves, but not in Equestria. Not in the world that harbored so many shades of ugly nature with hardly a decent pony in sight. Everypony was hideous in this world in their own shape or form, some more than others.

The pegasus considered for a brief moment he was overthinking things, that he was just a rotten pony only able to see the worst of everypony and rarely the best. Maybe he just didn’t understand the situation well enough. Maybe he really hadn’t changed at all and he was still the same as a year ago.

Soarin quickly shook his head as the maddening pounding from inside his skull continued. Questions raced at maddening speeds that could easily drive him insane if he had time to think longer about it. Some ponies say that time slows down when things are thrust into the heat of the moment. But that couldn’t be true, at least not all of it. It somewhat slows down in retrospect, but at the same time it also speeds up beyond control.

The moment the everlasting seconds of confusion lasted, time sped up three times normal speed. It was beyond his control that he couldn’t stop the earth pony who took off charging into Celestia knows where. Why he had ran didn’t seem to make any sense, and why he seemed to terrified and scared of that strange orange mare calling for him was a mystery as well.

“What the hay just happened?” Spitfire murmured, glancing at the dumbfounded pegasus starring in the direction his coltfriend took of charging toward. She reached out a hoof to nudge him as he stayed in his trance, a worried expression on her face as her yellow hoof began to slowly move forward in a trot. “H-Hey, should he really be running with...”

Spitfire’s question was cut off as Soarin snapped out his hoof in front of her, watching as the orange mare who caused the yellow pony to bail charged across the pathway in front of them. He whipped his head to watch the mare charge off into the middle of the town where at least fifty ponies were wandering and flying around. She called out Braeburn’s name in a brief moment of confusion mixed with simple anger at him running off without a word. She quickly vanished in the crowd chasing him, the last sight of her blonde tail snapping in the air.

Soarin felt his body tighten and his eyes widen, reality hitting him hard as he realized that there truly was no break in life for more than a second. He grinded his teeth a brief moment before glaring at Spitfire. “Take them to the hotel.” He spat out. He wasn’t sure if he was overcome with rage or simple frustration at every single thing confusing him. Was it just a natural response at this point to any sight of danger to Braeburn?

He saw the confused look in his captain’s eyes. She looked like she herself had a few questions that needed answers. However she put a hoof to her forehead and nodded her head briefly. “Just... just go get him.” She grumbled. “Sort it out and... just get him.”

The sky blue pegasus gave a quick nod, briefly glancing over the faces of the rest of his squad. Fleetfoot’s general confusion mixed with a certain gray stallion who seemed to be enjoying the drama unfold.

“Dude, I gotta tell you this is entertaining as hay.” Rapidfire chuckled out. “Can I tag along?”

Soarin rolled his eyes quickly before spreading his wings, wiggling his backside a moment as he stared upward, and letting himself shoot off the ground at a breathtaking speed with wind ruffling through his mane as he chose to bite down on his lip as an alternative of groaning in anger.

“Just what I bucking needed.” The stallion snapped as wind rippled across his feathers.
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Applejack found herself panting as her hooves finally began to slow down. She began to feel her throat sting from the shouting she had done chasing the ghost of her cousin. Her brow was damp with several beads of sweat that continued to blur her vision. A grumble escaped her throat as she angrily lifted her front leg to her forehead and dragged it across her face.

“G-Gosh darn it Braeburn, where are ya?” She called out to the dense forest around her as she stomped her hoof flat against the earth below her. The longer the orange pony looked around the more it began to dawn on her that she did indeed run further than she thought. She could only hear half a dozen or so ponies on the pathway behind her leading toward Ponyville’s park. The sound of birds was louder than anypony’s natural sounds apart from her own breathing and pounding heartbeat. Squirrels and rabbits trampled across the ground around her the more she began to listen to her surroundings. The candy coated Suger Cube Corner nor the local Library were in sight.

Applejack found herself biting her lip as she kicked an unusually large clump of grass within reach with her hoof. “Is he really this darn desperate not ta talk ta me?” She mumbled to herself.

As the mare closed her eyes she began to wonder about a great deal of things. Why exactly Braeburn was in that picture spread across Equestria, why she chose to chase after him instead of the ponies he was with. Or perhaps the biggest question was why he was even in Ponyville. Sure they didn’t keep in touch nearly as much as they used to, not after his folks stopped bringing him to reunions when he was nothing but a colt, but they still were somewhat close.

“Why the hay did ya run?” Applejack called out bitterly to the forest surrounding her, briefly considering that her chasing after him had been just a tad too harsh. She waited for several moments as the all the buzzing and chirping replaced her echoing tone before shaking her head.

“Course he ain’t gonna hear me.” She chuckled out as she lifted her hoof once more to adjust her hat, feeling her mane ruffle beneath it. “Still, coulda sworn ah saw him bolt this way...”

Applejack closed her eyes a brief moment. What was she doing before this anyway? Was it something on the lines of going to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Cake over seeing if they would buy up most of the remaining apples for their pies before Autumn hit the town? She began to shake her head, feeling glad they informed her to stop by any day of the week.

The orange earth pony had just turned to jog back to the spot she found her cousin, hoping with a little luck that she could at least catch up to them and ask why he was with them.

At least the mare would have gone ahead with this simple plan if she hadn’t heard a brief rustling of leaves above her. She felt her body freeze for a brief moment, not daring to glance upward at the tree above her. She took a deep breath before turning her body in a flash, using the front half of her body to kick off the ground as she landed her hooves on the tree beside her.

The sound of a sharp cry hit her ears as the end of a royal blue tail came into sight from above her. Applejack pounced backward as she witnessed the events unfold of a sky blue pegasus fall from the tree leaves. The panic shown on his face happened in less than a second as he shot out his wings. The orange mare noticed he did indeed manage to half-catch himself, however his hooves landed awkwardly on the ground and his side ended up connecting to the earth as he tripped.

“W-Who in the hay are ya?” Applejack cried out, showing her gritted teeth as she narrowed her eyes at the pegasus before her. “Why were ya in the tree? Are ya some kind of...”

Applejack felt her eyes widen as her memory finally snapped into place. She stood paralyzed as she watched the pegasus slowly recover, rolling over to face her with an annoyed look on his face as he began to sit up.

“That’s some kick you got there cowgirl, I’ll give you th-”

“Ya!” Applejack cried out, pointing out her hoof as she watched the other jump and give off a surprised yap at the voice the other managed to give off. He had one of his legs shielding his jaw as his brow remained in question at her. “Y-Yer the one in that there picture!” She spat out, clearly trying her best to remain calm in the situation at hoof. “T-That Wonderbolt captain in the gossip section. S-Solar or something!” She shook her head violently as Soarin slowly got to his hooves, still giving her a confused look. “W-Why did Braeburn run from me back there?”

“Hay if I know! And the name’s Soarin!” The wonderbolt spat out at her, beginning to glare at the mare. “I could ask you the same question, why did he freak out back there? I thought he was going to have a panic attack or something.”

“Well why don’t ya go and ask him, ya got two wings, go and find him!” Applejack huffed out.

“Maybe it was easier to just talk to the pony who was chasing him instead of him right now. He’s likely all worked up right now and just needs time to calm down before I find him.” Soarin growled as if it were common sense.

Applejack felt herself huffing out air from her lungs. It began to dawn on her that she indeed wasn’t going to accomplish anything at the rate things were going. She slowly curtained her eyes shut before taking in one deep breath of air as she lowered her hoof. “L-Look... let’s just calm down for a moment.” She reasoned.

Soarin growled out his response, but he did indeed seem to reason with her for a brief moment. He glanced at her as he stretched out his wings from his awkward fall, wondering just how he got himself into this mess.

“Ah’m Applejack.” The mare spoke up. She just nodded her head as she reasoned with herself this was a decent place to start over. “A-And that pony ah was chasing, Braeburn...”

“I know his name.” Soarin glared at Applejack in frustration.

Applejack simply glared back before letting herself continue. “Ah’m his cousin.” She said “And ah just wanted ta talk ta him and get some questions ah had out of the way.”

“What kind of questions?” Soarin asked, this time in a tone that was relived of annoyance. He finally decided to glance at Applejack with questionable eyes.

“Like why he was in a picture in the papers with green striped socks and a thong with a famous stallion cuddlin’ and lickin’ him!” Applejack said, trying her best not to snap once more at the pegasus who seemed less inclined to have a civilized conversation. “And why he ain’t in Appleloosa like he was supposed to be, helpin’ Aunt and Uncle Apple with all the work.”

Soarin paused briefly as he stared at the orange mare. He cracked a small smirk that seemed extremely forced before glancing to the side. “Great, you don’t know buck all.” He mumbled to himself before shaking his head.

“What don’t ah know?” Applejack asked, taking a few hoovesteps forward as Soarin took a few of his own backward. As she began to glare at him she opened her mouth to speak once more. “Look, all ah know is that a month ago ah sent a letter to Aunty and Uncle Apple askin’ how things were and how Braeburn was, and a week later ah got a letter saying they were all fine and dandy and gettin’ work done.” The mare slowly shook her head in confusion. “And then... ah get this newspaper a few days back with him dressed up like one of Rarity’s ponnequins with a Wonderbolt hanging all over him. Ah’m just confused, that’s all. And ah’m worried for him like any family would be.”

“Worried about him?” Soarin retorted. “He isn’t a baby, he’s a full grown stallion like me and I’m pretty sure he’s allowed to do what he wants without his cousin’s permission.”

Applejack stomped a hoof on the ground in a moment of frustration. “Look, ah get that he can do what he wants and all. Ah had to get a few things out of my system when ah was a filly, see new things and try them out. And ah don’t really care that he chose to run away with a stallion, he’s always been...” Applejack paused a moment before raising her hoof and wiggling it in the air. “Fru fru and feminine.”

“Femiwhat?” Soarin asked, cocking his head to the side.

“L-Look, ah don’t care about that.” The orange mare quickly got out. “Ah can’t say ah fully agree, but ah ain’t gonna freak out or go against him. What I care about is him doin’ it with a stallion he ain’t know a gosh darn thing about.”

Soarin was silent for moments with a blank expression on his face. He then began to crack a smile on his face before chuckling, raising a hoof to cover his mouth as his poker face faded. “N-Nothing about me?” He cracked out. “What exactly do you think you know about him?”

“Ah know that ah got a letter sayin’ he was in Appleloosa and workin’ his butt off like the rest of the town” Applejack said. “Now why are ya laughin’ for the sake of Celestia?”

“His folks told you that, right hun?” Soarin said, his laugher fading. “Figures. Look sweetie, they were lying to you plain and simple.”

Applejack opened her mouth a moment before closing it. Soarin smirked once more as he turned, somehow knowing what she was about to ask. “Their ashamed of him, the bastards. So ashamed of him they don’t want to admit their coltcuddler son was so unreasonable they had to throw him out over a year ago.” Soarin flapped his wings a few times in frustration as he clapped his hoof against the ground. “They don’t want to admit that they failed as parents for having a foal who grew up to be a coltcuddler.”

“T-They... they did wha...” Applejack was cut off the moment Soarin continued, turning around to face her once more as he took two hoovesteps forward, his eyes piercing into hers.

“I know that he was driven into a corner” Soarin spat out the words, one after another. “I know that he let himself fall in love with me since I was nice to him despite him constantly trying to pry me off.” Soarin took another step, and then another until he was looking down on the earth pony in front of him. “I know he kept every letter I sent him because it assured him he wasn’t forgotten. I know damn well he wasn’t where you think he was last month, because I was busy pushing him past his limits just so he could leave that hospital as soon as possible.”

“W-What do ya mean hospital?” Applejack burst out, sending waves of worry off of herself. “W-What the hay happened to him?”

Soarin chuckled dryly. “I don’t know, why don’t you try asking him why he wakes up every night just to make sure he isn’t alone?” The pegasus turned away one more “Now what do you know about him?”

Applejack was dead silent. She stayed like this for several moments as she tried to form a complete sentence with her slowly moving mouth. “S-Soarin...”

The mare was cut off as the vice-captain slammed his hoof into a nearby tree. He could hear her jump from surprise as he hissed out in pain from his throbbing hoof. He curtained his eyes shut as he growled and grumbled slowly. “S-Sorry...” He managed to get out. “I... I had to hit something.”

Applejack stared at Soarin for quite some time, biting on her lip as she tried to sort out her thoughts. “S-Soarin,” She murmured. “Look, ah ain’t gonna apologize for freakin’ out at ya yet. Ya look like ya have some problems with controllin’ yer anger and all... and ah’m not sure what to think of everythin’ ya told me just yet... but if what yer sayin’ is true... ah want ta talk ta Braeburn, not ta yell at him, but to make sure he’s happy where he is. Can ya work with me on this?”

Soarin slowly lowered his hoof from the trunk of the tree and stared at it for a few moments. “Fine.” He grumbled out. He put the hoof back on the ground and began to walk past the mare, who in turn turned around to look at him. He paused for a brief moment to turn his head back to her. “Just so you know... if you press him hard enough, he’ll say whatever you want him to.”

“Ah ain’t gonna press him.” Applejack snapped. “Now what the hay are ya doin’ on the ground? Go and find him!”

“Whatever you say, princess.” Soarin snorted out with a smirk as he spread his wings once more.

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“Ironic.” Braeburn found himself mumbling as the scent of apples continued to fill his nose. His eyes scanned above him as the green leaves fluttered in the breeze. The large red plumps of fruit hanging above him seemed to look even more juicy by the moment. How he managed to find himself on the property of the family he was trying to hide from was a mystery to him.

As Braeburn began to slowly shift his body he felt a sharp pain from his lower body that caused him to let out a sudden squeal in pain. He clamped his mouth shut as well as his eyes as he began to feel the tiniest bit thankful that Soarin wasn’t close by, for the pegasus would tease him at the same time he comforted him.

The yellow stallion sniffled as his lower legs throbbed in pain. Another mystery to him was the miracle that he hadn’t managed to pass out yet. The moment his body hit the ground was simply a test to see if he would start sobbing the way he did when he learned how to walk for the second time in his life. In a way this was worse simply because nopony was around to help him back on his hooves.

“D-Dammit.” Braeburn choked out. He was silent for several moments, trying to keep his eyes off of the delicious fruit hanging above him. Why he hadn’t eaten breakfast was still unknown.

An unusually loud rustling of leaves hit his ears as he finally cracked his eyes open and glanced at the direction above him. He was silent for a while before sighing.

“Did you come here for me or the fruit?” He called out. As he said this he heard the plop of a fruit land next to him, which he bitterly snatched and lifted to his lips.

“Can’t I come for both?” The raspy voice of Soarin came from the tree as a pegasus fell from the sky. Braeburn winced as hooves slammed on the ground no more than three feet from his head. Soarin’s body quickly came crashing down with them as Braeburn saw a pile of apples land next to him along with the pegasi’s body.

“Dude, the apples at this place are sick.” Soarin said through a mouthful. He chuckled as he waited for Braeburn’s response, however he was only greeted with silence as the other quietly chewed on a fresh apple.

Soarin’s grin faded as he swallowed the food in his mouth. “I’m guessing you aren’t in the mood for me being like that?” He asked.

Braeburn slowly shook his head. “Others mad at me?” He asked.

“Naw” Soarin said “Just confused... I guess I am too.” Soarin looked at him for a while before reaching out his hoof and stroking down the other’s mane. “How are your legs feeling?”

“Hurt...” Braeburn mumbled out through his chewing. “They’ve been hurting like hay for a while now.”

“Well... shit.” Soarin said. He gave off a chuckle as he lowered his hoof to Braeburn’s own, beginning to grasp it and squeeze. “That could be an issue. I guess this eventually happens when I let you dress up like my bitc-”

“Ah just ran.” Braeburn murmured. Soarin stopped talking as he let his eyes focus on Braeburn. He felt his own grip tighten on Braeburn’s hoof. “Ah... ah just ran from her, from AJ. Ah didn’t even think ‘bout it... ah just got scared and ran.”

Soarin was silent for a few moments. He wasn’t sure he wanted to speak just yet, he mostly just wanted the stallion to continue.

“And... when ah was runnin’... ah kept thinkin’ ‘bout everythin’ in Appleloosa. Ah keep thinkin’ that if ah wasn’t so afraid and scared of bein’ rejected... than maybe none of this would have happened. If ah didn’t shut myself out ah could have gotten a few friends ta help me out.” He twirled the apple in his hoof for several moments as he spoke his thoughts out loud.

Soarin slowly shrugged. “I guess you did freak out without any reason...” He mumbled. “But... but it really wasn’t your fault, she did start chasin’ you.”

“Ya don’t get it!” Braeburn grumbled out, tossing his apple core aside angrily. “Ah’ve always been like this! Even when ah lived with my folks all ah did was depend on them, ah ran and hid and blocked out everythin’ but them!” Braeburn hissed out the words as he tightened his hold on Soarin. “Ah can’t even remember those three months after they kicked me out before ah met ya. Ah can’t remember cryin’ past the initial shock, or even reactin’ to the insults. Ah don’t know how ah ate or even lived. And when ah met ya ah kept tryin’ ta do the same to ya as ah did the others, just push ya away like nothin’!”

“Yeah, but it obviously didn’t work that well.” Soarin retorted.

Braeburn sighed. “Ah don’t... ah don’t like how ah act.” He admitted. “Ah don’t like how shy ah am, ah don’t like how anypony else but you ah can’t just talk to without worryin’ about what ah say or how ah say it, and ah really don’t like that ah’m so clingy to ya...”

Braeburn fell silent. “Ah just ran fer no reason, and before that ah freaked out because ah didn’t want ta talk ta AJ. Even if she was nice ta me and didn’t say anything bad... ah didn’t want ta talk ta her.” He suppressed a whimper by biting his lower lip.

Soarin stayed at Braeburn, who was staring intently at the tree leaves above him. He let out a quick sigh and shook his head before opening his mouth. “Everypony is like that...” He mumbled.

The yellow stallion finally looked at him, his blank expression turning to confusion. Soarin chuckled with half a heart before continuing. “Everypony hates themselves. They find faults in themselves that only they can really see. They worry about things that will never happen. It sure as hay doesn’t help when they’re treated like those faults are all that matter.”

“But... but ah...” Braeburn attempted to argue.

“I like it.” Soarin said with a grin on his face. “I like you being shy, you blush a lot more than normal ponies do.” He mumbled, reaching out his other hoof as he turned on his side to stroke the top of the hoof he was holding. “And for being clingy and unable to talk to many other ponies... I can live with that. If I can’t help you get any better, I’m pretty sure I can live with a few faults of yours. As long as you don’t talk to me like a stranger all the time I’m happy.” He chuckled.

Braeburn’s cheeks lightly tinted as Soarin’s smile grew. “See, that’s cute.” He giggled.

“S-Shut up.” Braeburn said. He was silent for a long time before turning to Soarin. “W-What do ya hate about yerself?”

Soarin’s grin vanished. He glanced downward at the hoof he was holding. He began to slowly raise it and hold it in front of Braeburn’s face. “Being forgotten.” The pegasus whispered.

“W-What do you...?” Braeburn began.

“C-C’mon... I promised that mare that I’d let her talk to you about travelin’ with me ‘round Equestria.” Soarin quickly stuttered out. He sat up. “F-Feelin’ any better down there?” He asked.

“Y-Yeah.” Braeburn mumbled. “Wait, you met Applejack? S-She want’s to talk to m-me?”

“Didn’t you hear me, let’s move it!” Soarin called out, yanking Braeburn by his hoof only to witness a wince that he could almost feel.

“We ain’t got all day!”