• Published 3rd Dec 2015
  • 1,542 Views, 20 Comments

Only in Manehattan - Distaff Pope

On a trip to Manehattan, Rainbow Dash discovers a side to her wife that she never knew existed. Dash doesn't take it well.

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3. Honor Thy Father

A few hours later, Sweetie and Scootaloo's coffee table was cluttered with empty Neighpponese boxes and beer bottles, and the time was filled with talks about sports teams, the Wonderbolts, Apples, and how great things were with Sweetie (according to her, their relationship was completely perfect). “Yeah, you should talk to her,” I said, yawning and getting to my hooves. “She seems…” Look, maybe Sweetie wasn’t my favorite pony in the world, but she’d trusted me enough to tell her all that… stuff, and I wasn’t about to betray that. “You should just talk to her, she’s got a lot on her mind.”

“Alright,” Scootaloo said as I trotted to the door. “Oh, and thanks for stopping by, just wish you’d given us more warning.”

I shook my head. “Totally would’ve, but between flight training and farm stuff, the last few weeks have been so busy that I might’ve forgotten to write you. Anyways, yeah, it’s always fun catching up, and keep being awesome.”

She laughed. “Sure thing, Dash. You and AJ should stop by again before you leave.” Yeah. That’d be great, if I could convince Applejack to forgive me. Obviously, I could eventually, but we might be back in Ponyville by the time that happened.

“We’ll see,” I said. “You going anywhere in the next few days?”

“Nah,” she said, shaking her head. “I’m off work, and Sweetie’s only doing a few club shows.” Her eyes went wide and she glanced at the clock. “Shit. Sweetie!”

“I know!” Sweetie yelled back from their room. “I’m almost dressed.”

“You’re always almost dressed. How long does it take to put on a dress?”

“You know it’s more than a dress,” she said as I grabbed the door handle with a hoof. “There’s shoes, and makeup, and jewelry.”

“Oh, Celestia, it’s just a freaking lounge show. You’re not performing in front of Carneighgie Hall or something,” Scootaloo said.

“Well, I’ve really got to go, you two have fun, alright?”I said, looking back at Scootaloo. She nodded at me, and a second later, I was gone, two seconds later, I was back on the street, and three seconds later, I was in the air, flying back to Applejack, and trying to figure out just how I’d say that I might have overreacted a bit.

The flight was the worst kind of flight: short and uneventful. I couldn’t even get going that fast because I was in a city with a bunch of other pegasi flying around. At least I got to make some tight turns around the buildings, and the skyscrapers allowed for some really interesting directed gusts of wind. It wasn’t like racing down the Canterhorn, flying inches from the surface as the wind whips your eyes, going faster and faster as the ground rushes up at you, and then at the last second doing an awesome turn to keep from breaking almost every bone in your body, but it was better than nothing.

A few minutes later, I was standing at the door to the Oranges’ apartment, my hoof hovering an inch off the oak. A second’s hesitation, then I knocked and heard shuffling on the other side of the door. It opened, and a pair of blue eyes were staring into mine. Aunt Orange. “Care to tell me why I should let you back into our apartment after you threw our hospitality in our faces and hurt our Jackelyn?”

“Uhmm… I think I might need to apologize to my wife,” I said, giving her a smile that flickered and died.

She didn’t blink or budge. “Might?”

“Yeah, okay.” I rubbed the back of my head. “Look, could you just let her know I’m here and that I want to talk?”

Aunt Orange hmmed and closed the door. It opened a minute later, the blue eyes replaced with a familiar green. “Finally got it into your fool head to apologize, did ya?”

“Yeah…” Something clunked behind me and I looked back to see another pony walk out of her apartment. “But do you think we could do this somewhere a bit more private?"

She sighed and turned around, trotting deeper into the apartment. “Come on then, and shut the door behind you.”

“Cool,” I said, following behind her as we reached another door in the apartment. We walked in, and it was… well, it might’ve put Twilight’s old library to shame. Bookcases covered almost every bit of wall, and each shelf in them sagged under the weight of their load. Applejack reflexively walked over to one particular case and scanned the rows.

I took a breath. No big deal. I’d apologized to Applejack tons of times before. I took a deep breath. “Look, I’m sorry I freaked out at you before. I just…” I thought back to what Sweetie said. “I didn’t mean to make you feel like I was rejecting you, I just… I didn’t get why you were acting all weird, and.... I kinda still don’t, I guess. Could you help me understand?”

She sighed and turned around, holding one of the books in her grip and carrying it to the bed. “Yeah, Ah’ve been doin’ some thinkin’ too, and Ah reckon Ah owe you an explanation. Maybe if Ah told ya more about mah folks, ya wouldn’t have gone off like ya did.” She paused. “Ya just gotta understand, talkin’ about them ain’t easy for me. Also ain’t somethin’ Ah ever found any sense in discussin’. Gone’s gone, ain’t nothin’ changin’ that.”

“Okay, but they’re still your parents. I’m sure you think about them every day. I think of mine every day, and…” I somehow managed to stop myself before I finished that thought. From the look in her eye, she still figured out where I was going.

“Yeah, okay, so Ah think about ‘em a lot, sure, but Ah don’t like dredgin’ up them memories. If Ah start thinkin’ about the good times, too much, then Ah start thinkin’ about all the times they missed, and then Ah start thinkin’ about how Apple Bloom won’t really ever know ‘em. Shoot, Ah didn’t even know ‘em that well.”

And that was way more than I’d ever heard her say about her parents before. Now I had to keep her talking. “Look, Applejack, I figured out that you brought me here to see this part of yourself you don’t really feel comfortable showing.” With Sweetie’s help. “And if you trust me enough to do that, you can talk to me about your parents. Plus, it’ll help me figure out just why you go all weird in Manehattan.”

“Alright,” she said, setting her book down on the nightstand and making herself comfortable on the bed. “So, ya know mah Pa was an Orange, and ya probably figured out he was a bit more high-falutin than mah Ma.”

“Kind of figured that much,” I said. “So what was his deal? How did he meet your mom? And just give me the short version, I don’t want to spend ten years hearing about it.”

“Alright, well, he was the one that used ta oversee their orange grove Mareami, so he went on a lot of farming expos and stuff. Ya know what Ah’m talking about.” I sure did. We spent most of our ‘vacations’ going to some convention center and listening to ponies trying to sell us some new thing that would revolutionize farming.

I nodded.

“Anyways, my Ma ran into him at few of those shows, and I reckon he made an impression on her. He wasn’t like them other farmers. Whenever she saw him, he was readin’ or writin’ somethin’, and Ah guess one night, she decided to sit down next to him and ask what he was writin’ all the time. Turns out, he always wanted to be a big poet, so when he wasn’t overseein’ the farm or touring the showroom at one of them expos, he either had his muzzle in a book or was writin’ somethin’ down. He had some pretty good ones, too, Ah think. Anyways, he must’ve enjoyed talkin’ to her, and she must’ve enjoyed listenin’, because the next few expos, they made it a point to spend all the time they could talkin’ to each other. Then, they started takin’ trips to visit each other, and before ya knew it, she was askin’ him to marry her. It took a while for Granny Smith to warm up ta him, though; said she first thought he was just some fancy city-slicker who wouldn’t know a hard day’s work if it bit him in the flank. Dropped that complaint after a few weeks, though.”

“So, I’m guessing you were close to your dad?” I asked. That kind of made sense.

“Course, Ah was, Ah’m an Apple. But… Ah hear what yer sayin’, and maybe Ah was a mite closer to him than my Ma,” she said, nodding her head and picking up the book. “This was one o’ his. Not one o’ the ones he wrote, just one o’ the ones he liked reading to me. Ah like readin’ it through whenever Ah’m up here.”

“Then why don’t you just bring it with you to Sweet Apple Acres. I’m sure your Aunt and Uncle won’t mind,” I said, narrowing my eyes. I thought I kind of had it figured out, but now things stopped making sense again.

“Ah can’t do that, Dash. Ah’m an Apple – not just that, Ah’m the head Apple. When Ah was younger, Ah tried livin’ like he’d want me to, tried bein’ an Orange. Thought, ‘Shoot, Ah got the colorin’ for it, and Ah always loved listenin’ to Pa read me his poems and…’ Well, ya heard how that story goes. Point is, Ah ain’t an Orange, Ah’m an Apple. Ah can’t stand a lot o’ that high society fluff for more than a few days, and Ah turn into a downright wreck if Ah spend more’n a week away from the farm. Most of the time, that’s fine, but every now an’ then, Ah start thinkin’, ya know? Thinkin’ that Ah’m livin’ how my Ma would’ve wanted, but almost completely forgettin’ him. Like, just a few days ago, Ah got this big itch that it’d been years since Ah’d read one o’ his poems or done any of them big arty things we liked doin’ together.”

“So that’s why you had this big trip, to… Remember your dad?” I asked. And it all made sense again. Stupid, stupid sense.

She nodded, and I could see the tiniest bit of wetness in her eyes as a hoof moved up to touch her hair clip. “Ya know, he got this for me. On our last birthday together, and…” She blinked. “Look at me, just spend a few minutes talkin’, and Ah’m already gettin’ all silly and sentimental. Ain’t no good bellyachin’ about what can’t be–”

Before she could finish that thought my forehooves were wrapped tight around her. “Applejack, I love you, but you can be a complete idiot sometimes. I don’t care if you cry around me or start feeling sad.” I checked to make sure the door was completely closed. “You’ve seen me cry before, and said there was nothing wrong with that. That goes both ways.”

“Yeah, but there ain’t no point in bein’ sad about this. Not like Ah can change anything. They’re gone, and that’s that. No amount o’ bein’ sad and bellyachin’ on my part will change that. Ah got too many things to do.”

I hugged her tighter. “See, now I’m wishing I hadn’t called you an idiot before, so I could call you one now. Being sad only makes sense when you can’t fix something. If you can do something, do it. Go out there, and kick some flank. But when you lose something, when something you had broke… then it’s fine to be sad.”

“Well, Ah was sad, but then Ah got on with mah life. Can’t spend mah whole life mournin’ ‘em.”

Ugh. I pulled back and flapped up. “That’s fine! I’m not saying that. If you spent all your time crying, we’d have a completely different problem, but you can at least remember them. You can talk about them. And if you get sad when you do, that’s fine. I love you. I’m not going to judge you for that. So come on. Tell me about your parents.”

She smiled as I settled back down on the ground. “Alright, well, it’s like Ah was sayin’, Ah… sometimes, Ah get to missin’ mah father, feel like Ah’m forgettin’ him, so Ah come up here to visit mah Aunt and Uncle. Remind mahself Ah’m still his daughter. Ya know, ya should hear Granny Smith tell how happy he was when Ah was born. He loved my Ma, he loved the Apples, but Ah reckon he sometimes got to feelin’ like the poet in him stuck out a little bit, so when he had a daughter that had his coat color…” She smiled. “Well, we were always closer. Ah still loved my ma, and he still loved Mac, he weren’t so big then, but we had a bond. Every night, he’d tuck me in, he’d read a poem to me, and when he got some time to do writin’ of his own, Ah was in the room with him.” She blinked. “Ya know, our bedroom, it used to be his study. Shoulda seen it back in the day, wall-to-wall with books, and–”

“What happened to them?” I asked, before following her gaze to the books that filled the room.


And then everything made sense, as missing details fleshed out the cutie mark story I already knew. A filly who’d lost her parents, going to live with her aunt and uncle to try and be like her father. Coming to hate all the kind of boring high-society stuff, because of course she did, and leaving, returning to her Apple roots, and earning three red apples on her flank for it, ending the debate on whether she was Applejack or Jackelyn. I looked at her, understanding. Then, my eyes were drawn from the apples on her flank to the ruby-red apple hair clip in her mane, and I understood something else.

“You wanted to be like him, that’s why you left home to live with your aunt and uncle, right?” I asked. I knew the answer, but I wanted to hear it from her.

She nodded, eyes threatening to spill over with wetness. “Ah did, but… Ah couldn’t. Ah couldn’t deal with all the formality and fanciness. Sure, Ah liked goin’ to shows, and seein’ the art exhibits, and all that, but the other stuff…” She gagged. “Can’t do that for more than a few days without losin’ mah mind.”

“But… he didn’t want you to be an Orange. Look at that hairclip he got you.”

Her hoof moved up and undid the hairclip, bringing it down so she could see it. “Yeah, what about it? It looks like mah cutie mark.”

“Yeah, it does,” I said, nodding my head. “The cutie mark he never saw.” She froze at that. “Look, maybe I’m way off base here, I’m not super smart like Twilight or good at navigating all this emotional stuff like Fluttershy or Rarity, but I think I know you pretty well. You want to be like him? You want to carry on his memory? That’s fine, it’s great, you totally should, but... correct me if I’m wrong, but he didn’t live in Manehattan, did he? He lived on the farm with your mom. From what you said, he worked pretty hard on it, too. Probably super kind and compassionate, too.” Her neck made the tiniest nod. “You’ve been honoring him every day, Applejack, because he might’ve been born an Orange, but he chose to be an Apple.”

There was a pause as I tried to get the next words out exactly right. “Look at your cutie mark again. Sure, it shows you’re an Apple, but maybe it’s also a reminder, that no matter what happens, you’ll always be his daughter. You’ll always be his Jackelyn.” She smiled, tears running down her cheeks, and I kissed her. Softly. Tenderly. A kiss only the two of us would ever know about. “I think you’re both. I think that’s what the cutie mark is really about. That you’re both Applejack and Jackelyn at the same time. That you don’t have to choose which one to be.”

She laughed and smiled, nuzzling my cheek. “Ya know, Ah knew bringin’ ya here wasn’t the worst idea in the history of Equestria. Yer still gonna have to apologize to mah aunt and uncle for bein’ a total ass to ‘em, though.”

I waved a hoof. “Yeah, yeah, tomorrow, Jackie. I’ll apologize and then we’ll find some…” I glanced at all the bookcases in the room. “Or maybe a lot of movers to bring all these books back home.”

“Jackie, huh? Ah think Ah like it, and yer sure bringin’ all them books back with us is a great idea?” she asked. “They were mah Pa’s, and they should be with–”

“With his family? With his daughter? I completely agree,” I said, rolling my eyes and picking up her poetry book. “They’re your inheritance, AJ. They belong at Sweet Apple Acres.”

“Ya know,” she said, wiping a hoof across her cheeks. “Ah think Ah can clear some space off and get you a shelf for your own books. Gotta find some place to keep those Rainbow Dash originals.”

“Sounds great,” I said, flopping down on the bed and rolling on my back, keeping the book close. “But I think I’ve got to do some editing. Golden Grain’s character… maybe there’s more to her than I thought. I think she’s way cooler and more nuanced-ey than I originally thought.”

“Ah think ya just say nuanced, sugarcube, and ya know, ya could try writin’ original characters for once.”

“Ehh, maybe,” I said, passing the book to her. “Now, I’ve never actually read a poem before, so pick one I’ll like.”

“Ya mean you’re actually gonna read a poem?” she asked. I couldn’t see her face, but I could hear her eyebrow raise.

“Heck no,” I said, laughing. “Let’s not get crazy, but… if you wanted to read one out loud, I wouldn’t mind listening.”

“Well, Ah suppose Ah can think of a few ya might like hearin’,” she said, settling into bed next to me.

“Can’t wait to hear ‘em,” I said, letting my eyes close and a smile form on my lips. “Read on, Jackelyn.”

Comments ( 14 )

:rainbowderp: woah. never thought about this before. this story was deep. i like it :D

Blimey, that's a lot of apostrophes.

For fear of sounding repetitive, I won't say I loved the story. I will say, however, that this has brought me somewhat more to the AppleDash camp than I'd like. I think the people in there have their bows on the ready, waiting till they can see the whites of my eyes. I'm kind of afraid of what your future stories will bring. :pinkiesmile:

6697147 What do you mean about bows at the ready?

6697487 I'm just thoroughly continuing the camp analogy. Seeing as it's a shipping camp, though, I suppose they'd be pink bows with hearts on the end of the arrows, just waiting to strike me so I blindly continue walking to their gates.

I've found this story has also turned me somewhat more poetic. This isn't a good thing; my comments are already indecipherable as they are. :twilightblush:

6698512 It's fine, just be sure to let Tchernobog know this story softened your view on AppleDash. Actually, you're the second person who's commented to the effect that they don't normally like AppleDash, but thought this was good.

Alright, well, he was the one that used ta oversee their orange grove Mareami, so he went on a lot of farming expos and stuff.

..."orange grove down in Mareami", I think?

An interesting peek into what Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo's relationship is going to be like in Your Own Worst Enemy in future chapters! Nice.

Who would've guessed that Applejack acted like the Oranges not because she was afraid of being herself, but because she wanted to feel closer to her daddy? Brilliant. I swear, you always keep me on my toes with your writing. I think you're going one way and you just completely blindside me with something way better than what was thinking. Rainbow Dash showing Applejack that she didn't need to be in Manehatten to feel close to her dad and that those books should be with her made my heart melt. Good ol Rainbow, she's not the smartest pegasus in the sky, but sometimes she can say the right thing at the right time.

Excellent as always! :twilightsmile:

Okay! Now that the contest is done, I can comment. Bearing in mind, I read it only once, when this was published - so I might be a bit hit and miss on some details.

While I did like the idea - not wanting to lose the closeness to her father and where he came from - and the execution was okay... the characterization was my issue.

For lack of a better term, AJ was being irrational - to an extreme. Call it a Rarity extreme. (Damned white devil had a bad influence on her! :ajbemused: ). AJ... well, it might take a bit, but she'll be 'reasonable' about things, and explain it. Though part of the issue here was her not wanting to explain it. That, in and of itself, I found rather odd of AJ. Not so much the stubbornness, but the unwillingness to explain. Of the six, AJ is definitely the most practical... and, usually, the most sensible of the lot. Maybe some views are a bit skewed at times, but it's not something completely wild.

For instance, I think a tweak in the story might've been better: AJ explains a small part of her problem - and Dash doesn't understand it at all. AJ refuses to explain more until Dash 'gets' it - and that's something she needs to learn for herself. Or, AJ starts explaining, and Dash makes a comment or other that annoys/pisses AJ off. Enough to need to 'cool off', as it were - and later gets explained in full.

I did like this, it was an interesting glimpse in your version of AppleDash. I just feel there was a little too much Rarity in that Applejack ;)

6913336 Hmm, that's a fair criticism. Could you send me a PM that's a bit more about how you'd change it because I'm going to defer to you on how AJ and Rainbow Dash are characterized.

It was a... good story. Though I can't say I enjoyed it, that would be... it just feels wrong. I enjoyed chapter one. And three. Very much so. The second one, though... there's almost nopony or other creature/character in this show I don't cherish in some way or another. The main cast, the background ponies, the villains, I can't come up with a single name or description. That includes Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle. And reading in what situation they were in, what became of their lifes... it was downright devastating.
Like an accident, I couldn't help myself from reading on. But while I did, I somehow felt... numb. Shocked, I suppose. That was a section that intertwined with another story of yours, or so I remember the description mentioning? I won't read it. I dare not. Because that little peak into their lifes didn't make me cringe or 'feel sorry'. It made me almost feel heartbroken.
It was a really good story and I enjoyed the first and third chapter. But that middle section... it overshadows everything else. I have to admit, in some regards, that's a compliment in itself - you wrote something that touched me to the core about a character I liked, sure, but didn't knew I cared about enough to be devastated by her downfall.

7094184 That's fair. I'll probably rework the second chapter soon-ish because the original story is veering off in a different direction than imagined there, and if I leave, it will create a huge continuity snag. When it's done, I'll try to send you a letter so you can see Sweetie and Scoots in a happier place.

You don't have to, really. But if it happens and you still happen to remember me somehow, I'll appreciate the gesture as I appreciate the thought right now. Thank you.

7528855 Yep, I need to rewrite this story a bit. A lot. At least, I need to rewrite the middle of it.

ThNks for the fic!

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