• Published 20th Dec 2015
  • 6,574 Views, 304 Comments

John Honeycrisp Apple - Robo Bro

The human farmer, John Apple, has been injured. With no family to inherit, he is set to lose his farm. Unable to cope, he seeks to end it all. Much to his confusion, he wakes up as a pony and surrounded by talking ponies who are calling him "father".

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Chapter 5

John stirred to wakefulness at the sound of somebody stumbling around just outside his bedroom door. Whoever it was seemed even less steady on his hooves than he was, as hard as that was to believe. A glance to the clock by his bed and he could barely make out that it was just about two in the morning. He sighed and wondered what anybody would be doing up at this time of night. It was a few hours too early to be getting up to do chores, and much too late for any sane farmer to be staying up if they planned on waking in time to do said chores. He closed his eyes and tried to ignore the sounds.

The heavy thunk of something slamming against his door caused him to jump beneath his sheets. Wondering whether that was a knock or somebody collapsing against his door, he turned on the lamp by his bed by pulling at the on/off chain with his teeth. Whichever one it was, he needed to find out what was going on.

John threw off his blankets and hastily crawled out of bed, wincing at the pain in his back from rushing himself as he had. He reached for the bottle on his nightstand and poured out two pills from it into his mouth. With his meds taken, he made his way to the door and gently swung it open.

Standing unsteadily on the other side with his face wet from half dried tears was Big Macintosh. The scent of alcohol, hard apple cider if John wasn’t mistaken, hit him like a brick wall.

“Big Mac? What are ya doin’ here?”

“Dad?” Big Mac asked, his eyes growing wet with new tears that threatened to course down his face once more.

“What’s wrong, son?”

Those tears that had barely held on within his eyes came through on their threat and flowed freely down his face. He practically fell into an embrace with his long lost father, much to the injured stallion’s distress. His back screamed at him over the stress the larger pony was putting it under.

“Ah...Ah thought ya were dead!” Big Macintosh wailed into his father’s green mane. To Tartarus with his back, John thought, his son needed him right now.

“It’s okay, ah’m here for ya, big guy. Let it all out.” He soothed the drunk stallion, gently running a hoof through his mane in what he hoped was a comforting manner.

“Ah’m sorry...” big Mac whispered, already half asleep under his father’s ministration. John was surprised to hear those words coming from him, he had thought that he himself was the one that should be apologizing.

“Shh, it’s alright. Come on, Mac, let’s get ya to bed.”

Big Macintosh nodded wearily into his mane and allowed himself to be led to the bed further inside the room. John laid him down as gently as he could manage and tucked him in. He had always wanted to have his own kids that he could tuck into bed, but he’d not once imagined that kid would be a fully grown, drunken stallion. He was still glad to do it, though. It was nice to feel needed like this after a lifetime of isolation. Later he would need to have a talk with him to find out just what all this was about, but there was no way he could do so now with the way he was muttering incoherently as he drifted off to sleep. The only thing he could make out was his oft repeated apologies.

“Rest well, son.” He whispered into his ear before slipping out of the bedroom.

That was going to be the end of his sleeping tonight. Even if he still had a bed, he was too energized by the drunken intrusion to fall asleep. He’d need a new place to rest and some time to wind down before he could possibly get any more shut eye. Seeing as he had gone to bed sometime yesterday afternoon, he contemplated not even bothering to try.

He crept along the hallway, ever aware of his horribly aching back and hoping the painkillers would kick in soon, until he reached his most recent nemesis: the stairs. Gritting his teeth against the pain, he descended them at a snail’s pace. He should probably see if he could get a room on the ground floor so he didn’t need to strain himself on these steps in the future.

Finally, he reached the bottom, slick with sweat and with a parched throat. Going down had proven to be far more difficult than climbing them had. He found his way into the kitchen and to the sink. He lifted the handle and shoved his head beneath the cooling flow of water before drinking his fill straight from the faucet, then sighed with relief as he turned the tap off.

A slight rumbling in his stomach informed him that he was hungry. He really didn’t feel like trying to cook something up at the moment, even if the pain in his back was swiftly fading as his meds started taking effect. He looked around the dim kitchen for something quick and easy until his eyes landed on a fruit basket filled with apples set out on the dining table. That would do nicely.

He snatched one with his hoof and took a quick bite of it. He moaned in satisfaction as the fresh fruit contacted his tongue. The sweet juices, the smooth peel, and the relatively course innards were delicious, but more than that, they tasted exactly like the apples he had grown himself back on his own farm. He swiftly devoured the rest of it, tossed the core into the trash, and grabbed another from the basket before wandering off toward the living room. He flicked a switch that turned on the lanterns attached to the walls, illuminating the cheery faces that lined the room.

As he absently ate his second apple, he found himself staring at the same photo that had caught his attention the day before. He set his half eaten fruit down on a nearby coffee table, then took the picture off its nail to get a closer look. He collapsed onto one of the couches and continued to stare at the family that he cradled in his forelegs.

John didn’t know how long he sat there, wishing he could have had that which was never his. In particular, he gazed into the emerald eyes of Rosewood Apple. What had she been like? Was she as sweet and loving as she appeared to be while she stood there beside her husband and foals? With her face burned into his mind, he tried to imagine her laughing with joy as they spent a lazy, summer afternoon together under the warm sun. A smile graced his lips while a tear simultaneously landed on Rosewood’s beaming face.

“Yer up mighty early.” Granny Smith interrupted his thoughts as she hobbled her way into the room, breaking the mesmerizing silence of the night.

“Yeah,” he responded, looking up from the photo, “Mac woke me up.”

“What’s he doin’ gettin’ up at this hour?”

“Ah don’t think he’d been to bed, actually. He’d been drinkin’ an’ he came bangin’ on my door.”

“Drinkin’ ya say? He oughta know better than that. Ah think ah’ll go give him a piece o’ my mind fer disturbin ya when ya need yer rest.”

“Leave him alone, Ma. He seemed awfully broke up ‘bout somethin’, an’ ah’m fine, he didn’t hurt me none.” He quickly came to the defense of the boy, mindful not to mention the stress the encounter had put on his back. “Besides, he ain’t gonna remember you scoldin’ him if ya do it while he’s still black out drunk.”

“Alright, if ya say so.” Granny Smith relented. She sat herself next to John on the couch and tried to get a better look at the object he held. “Whatcha got there?”

John passed the photo to his mother, who took it gently from his hooves. She gave a ‘hmm’ of understanding as she herself stared at the image it held, her eyes becoming unfocused as she delved into the memories it evoked. After awhile, she looked over to her son.

“Ya don’t look to have aged a day from this here picture. ah’m kinda jealous. Ah’m gettin’ real up there in years now, these old bones ain’t what they used to be.”

“Ah’d bet yer back is better than mine right now.” John countered with a wry grin, eliciting a chuckle from the elderly mare.

“Aye, ah reckon yer probably right, at least ‘til ya heal up some.” She responded in good spirit, then looked back to the photo. “Do ya remember takin’ this here picture?”

John shook his head sadly.

“It was taken the year before ya went missin’. Apple Bloom here was jus’ a few weeks old. Applejack was five and Big Mac a paltry nine years old. My, how they’ve grown. Before ya know it, they’ll be havin’ foals of their own. Ah think Big Mac’s got a sweet spot fer Apple Bloom’s school teacher, Cheerilee. A nice, respectable mare like that would be a wonderful addition to the Apple family, don’t ya think?”

John frowned nervously. “Ah don’t rightly know who yer talkin’ 'bout.”

“Hmm? Oh, right. It’s easy to forget ya’ve been gone all this time with my agin' memory. Don’t mind me none, ah’m just an old nag dreamin’ bout seein’ great grand foals ‘fore ah pass. Still, ya could probably meet her yerself tomorrow if ya take Apple Bloom to school in the mornin’ an’ maybe get yer own opinion on her.”

John couldn’t help but smile at the prospect of meeting his son’s potential sweetheart. “Ah think ah’d like that.”

The two of them sat there in silence for awhile as they both stared at the old photo. His mind wandered to how the beautiful mare staring at him had in fact died.

“If ya don’t mind me askin’, how did my wife die?”

“Ah suppose ya wouldn’t remember that neither, would ya?” Granny Smith sighed. “It was a dozen years ago, or thereabouts. She was off takin’ some of our apples to another town, ah don’t quite remember which one no more, but it don’t really matter none. Big Mac had been buggin’ her somethin’ fierce to let him prove he wasn’t a foal no more. To this day, ah don’t understand why foals are always in such a rush to grow old, ah know from experience that it ain’t no fun, but Rosewood was convinced to let him come with her that day.

On their journey, they crossed through some real dangerous places. Rosewood warned Big Mac to stay near to her, but he didn’t listen and ran off ahead of her. He ran smack into a chimera an’ was nearly eaten up by it, but Rosewood got there in time to rescue him, tellin’ him to run home. He got back safe an’ sound thanks to her quick actions, but she didn’t make it herself.”

John reflected on how that might explain why Big Mac had been apologizing to him. He likely felt guilty over the loss of his mother, and if Rosewood’s death had something to do with Honeycrisp’s disappearance, he may feel responsible for that too.

“That’s...that’s terrible.” He stated the obvious, unsure of what else he could say in that situation.

“Yup, it sure was. We all took it real hard, but Big Mac more so than the rest of us. No matter how much we told him it wasn’t his fault, he jus’ kept blamin’ himself. Then, not even a week later, ya just up an’ vanished. Big Mac locked himself in his room after that. He’d always been a little quiet, but he flat out refused to talk to anypony at all, an’ he barely ate nothin’ neither. Ah’d leave a plate outside his door every meal, but most the time ah’d end up havin’ to throw it out. When he finally came out a month later, he looked so sickly that a breeze coulda knocked him over. We had him in an’ outta the hospital for the next month, an’ seein’ a therapist too. His body recovered, but he never did open up ‘bout it none.”

John was nearly in tears at the retelling of the painful tale. A family torn apart by tragedy, and one little boy traumatized for life by shame and guilt. It was a wonder that he had turned out as well as he did. John noted with some concern that he couldn’t be sure he had turned out well. He hadn’t exactly had much interaction with the stallion, and most of what he had was when he was incoherently drunk. How much worse off would he be if he regained the love and forgiveness of his long lost father only to learn that he was an impostor?

“How were all of ya able to keep goin’? Ah can only imagine the kind of strength ya have in that heart of yers.” Granny Smith smiled sadly at her son’s words.

“It ain’t a pretty past, but it’s ours. There ain’t no help in dwellin’ too much on it, best to jus’ keep on movin’ forward an’ tryin’ to make the best of things.”

“Ah don’t know if ah could have kept goin’ in yer place.” John admitted.

“Ah ain’t gonna lie to ya,” Granny stated, causing a pang of guilt in John’s chest, “it hurt somethin’ fierce, worse than ah can ever remember feelin’ before. Even so, ah still had yer foals to keep me company an’ to take care of, an’ the Apple family is a big one, family came outta the woodwork to help us out ‘til we was able to get back on our hooves.”

John lowered his head to avoid looking at the older mare in the eyes. He felt terrible for all these ponies had gone through.

“Ah’m sorry.” He stated mournfully. Whether he was apologizing for what they had gone through or for lying to them, he wasn’t quite sure.

“No point in bein’ sorry, as far as ah’m concerned, yer jus’ as much a victim of what happened as any of us.” John didn’t respond to his mother’s attempts to comfort him. “How ‘bout this? Ya try an’ get some more sleep before the sun comes up an’ ah’ll come wake ya up in time to see Apple Bloom to school. Ah’m sure ya will feel better in the mornin’, and ya can meet her teacher too.”

John nodded. “Yeah, that sounds good.”

“Alrighty then, let’s get ya back up to yer room.”

“If it’s alright with you, ah’d rather stay here. The stairs hurt my back, an’ Mac is in my bed anyway.”

“If that’s what ya want, ah’ll go fetch a blanket fer ya.”

“Thanks, Ma.”

“Yer welcome.”

John sat there in silence until his mother returned. After some fussing from her, he was tucked in warmly on the sofa. His mind went over everything he had learned this night and everything he had done since waking up as a pony. Though he wished it were otherwise, he knew he wouldn’t be getting anymore sleep this night. He just lay there, listening to the sounds of night until sunrise.