• Published 10th Jan 2016
  • 1,380 Views, 37 Comments

Under the Hat - Tyro

Applejack always wears a hat. Always. But it can't be because her hat is special to her, not if she has a whole closet of of them. So why does she always, always, always wear a hat? Rainbow Dash is determined to get to the bottom of it...

  • ...

Into the Woods

Rainbow had been flying for almost an hour. With no moon in the sky, trying to follow Applejack by sight was nigh impossible. A thought in the back on her mind told her that it might have been prudent to bring a lantern with her, but she shushed it. It was too late to turn back now.

She had given up trying to call A.J's name. She probably wouldn't respond even if she were in ear shot. Rainbow couldn't understand why A.J was so upset. Okay, so she apparently didn't want anypony to know about the scars. Why? They were freaking awesome looking scars! Rainbow was kind of jealous actually. How cool would it be to have scars like that to show off to everypony?

Maybe A.J thought they made her look ugly? Nah, that couldn't be it. Even if they weren't the coolest looking scars ever (which they were!), A.J totally wasn't into her looks like that. Sure, Rarity would say it was "unbecoming of a proper lady" or something (seriously, what did unbecoming even mean?), but since when had Applejack ever listened to anything Rarity would say?

Or maybe Applejack was ashamed. Maybe she had gone out and had an awesome, dangerous adventure without Rainbow and was trying to keep it a secret? No. Absolutely not, Applejack would never be so unfaithful-

She was broken from her thoughts by a strange sound. Well the sound itself wasn't that weird, it sounded like somepony crying. What was strange about it, was that it sounded kind of like...Applejack...

Not entirely convinced her ears weren't playing tricks on her, Rainbow touched down in the forest and crept towards the clearing from which the sound was coming. With only starlight, it was hard to tell, but she could just make out the form of a pony sitting on a fallen log hugging herself, shoulders shaking slightly.

"Applejack?" Rainbow stepped forward. She was surprised by how small her own voice sounded. The pony's head snapped up and Rainbow was sure she was going to run again. "Wait, please don't go!"

"What's the point?" Applejack lowered her again. "You already saw, there's no point tryin' to hide anymore."

"I don't get it." Rainbow dared to walk a step or two closer. Applejack made no effort to move away, that was a good sign, right? "So you have some scars, what's the big deal? I think they look kinda-"

"The big deal," Applejack cut in, "ain't how they looks. It's how I got 'em."

Rainbow summed up the last of her courage and sat down next to her. Still no signs of pulling away. Rainbow relaxed. They had made it this far, how bad could anything A.J had to say possibly be?

"Do you know what happened to my folks?" Applejack seemed to be taking very slow, deliberate breaths. Almost like she was psyching herself up for something.

"Uh, they died, right?" Rainbow cringed at her own bluntness. "I mean, I don't know how or anything, I guess I always figured it was like a farm accident or-"

"It was because of me."

Time had passed. Rainbow didn't know how much. She had been too stunned to speak and Applejack hadn't volunteered any extra information. They had just sat there. For ten minutes? Fifteen? A half hour? Who knew?

"I..." Rainbow tried to break the silence. She was surprised by how dry her throat was. "I don't... What do you mean? How can you be..." She didn't know what to say. She was just trying to fill the space. Fortunately Applejack finally came to her rescue.

"It was a little after I got back from Manehattan that time. Mom had just had Applebloom a few weeks ago and...it was so stupid. I was stupid."

"Hey come on, you were just a ki-"

"Mom and Dad had said I was gonna have to share my room with Applebloom soon. She'd been sleeping in their room while she was still a foal, but that was gonna change when she got a little older." Applejack paused, seeming to consider each word she was about to say next. "I was...so stupid. I didn't want to share my room and...like a dang child I threw a temper tantrum."

Applejack throwing a tantrum? Now Rainbow had heard it all. The image of little A.J acting out seemed so ridiculous that she would have laughed out loud were it not for the tears streaming down A.J's face.

"Well come on, you were a child. Kids do dumb stuff."

"Not this dumb. After my little display, they sent me to bed without supper. I got so mad, I decided to run away. I climbed out my window and ran to the Everfree Forest." Applejack paused to take a deep breath. "And that's when the Timberwovles came."

Rainbow's blood ran cold. Applejack didn't really need to say anymore, she could already guess how the story ended. She ran a hoof over the scars on A.J's neck. Three neat lines. Just like claw marks.

"Mom and Dad were already out looking for me. They made Mac stay home for safety and Granny had to take care of Applebloom. One o' the smaller wolves already caught me around the back of the head when they found me." Rainbow stroked the scars as tenderly as she could. "I was pretty dazed from the blow. It was hard to focus and everything happened so fast. They were shouting for me to get away and then-" Applejack's words were starting to get interrupted by sobs now. "T-they started s-screamin' and...I could hear the sound of-"

Rainbow took her hoof away from the scars and instead embraced her. Applejack buried her face in Rainbow's neck and began to sob uncontrollably. And though she would never admit it, tears were starting to run down Rainbow's face as well.

"It-" Rainbow took a moment to compose herself. "It wasn't you fault. You were just a kid, you didn't-"

"Yes it was!" Applejack drew her head back. "They wouldn' have been there if I hadn't...if I..." Applejack sighed. "Anyway...the last thing Mom said to me was to run. So I did. I made it back to the house and...I just couldn't face Granny and Mac. I couldn't tell 'em that I..."

"Wait, you mean nopony knows what happened to your parents?"

Applejack gave Rainbow a tired, sad look.

"They know. They just don't know everythin'. By the time I got back I already knew it was...I knew it'd be too late." Rainbow put her foreleg around A.J's shoulders as they shook again. "I snuck into my room and bandaged up my own head. I knew they would be questions if they saw, so I found an old hat in one of the closets and used it to cover up the dressin's."

"So how did Granny find out?" Rainbow's voice quivered, almost dreading the answer. Applejack sighed again.

"The next mornin' she finally went out to find 'em. And she did. I spun a lie about comin' home that night. With everypony so sad about what happened, none of 'em really paid close attention to my story. Granny didn't even blame me."

"Nopony asked why you were wearing a hat?"

"Mom and Dad both used to wear hats a lot. I guess they figured I was just doin' it to remember 'em. The cuts healed, but the marks never quite went away. I know they're hard to see even when I don't have a hat on, but I just prefer to keep my head covered whenever possible just in case..."


Silence fell again. It was a lot of information to take in. Minutes passed as Rainbow racked her brain to think of something comforting to say. In the end, there was only one thought that occurred to her. It was a silly thing to ask, but she had to keep the talking going. Rainbow never liked the quiet.

"I know this isn't really the important part of the story... But you said this all started because you and Applebloom were supposed to share a room. You don't share a room now, what happened?"

Surprisingly enough, Applejack actually laughed. Not her usual boisterous laugh. It was a dark, bitter laugh.

"Aw Sugarcube..." She smiled sadly. "After that night, we had a room goin' spare."