• Published 29th Jan 2017
  • 2,000 Views, 81 Comments

Roots - Storm butt

Caramel and Big Macintosh have been dating for a little over two years now, and with the Apple Family Reunion approaching Big Macintosh struggles to decide if he's ready to invite Caramel and take their relationship to the next level.

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Chapter Ten: Sickness

Caramel woke up sweating. He didn’t know what time it was, but judging by the fact that the stars were bright in the sky from the sight of his window he knew it was late. He felt Mac’s foreleg wrapped around him and his back pressed to his lover’s chest, but his entire body was damp and wet with sweat. When he touched his eyes, he realized they were wet with tears.

His body was shaking. Not trembling or shivering, but shaking. He didn’t realize it until now but there was fear in his chest. Whispers of a dream he couldn’t exactly remember. A stench in his nose so overpowering it made him sick.

Cheap perfume. It was everywhere. In his nose on his sheets on Mac even. He couldn’t get away from the stench even by covering his nose and his stomach began to churn.

Caramel crawled out of bed and away from the safety Big Macintosh’s forelegs usually brought him. He stumbled and hit the wall, dizzy beyond words. He forgot until now that he wasn’t at home or at Big Macintosh’s, but at a near stranger’s house. It was unfamiliar to navigate in the dark so he hit his legs on several things desperately trying to make his way to the door. He was panting, loudly, and made his way to the bathroom.

The light blinded Caramel so much that he had to shut it off. His eyes stung worse than before, but still he couldn’t get away from that stench as he half collapsed half tripped against the toilet and upheaved whatever was in his belly from the dinner he had just a few hours ago. What was once sweet and tasty now tasted vile and like acid coming up. His cheeks were wet with tears he didn’t understand why he was crying and his body was trembling and drenched in sweat. His stomach hurt so much he felt like he had been kicked repeatedly in it. He threw up twice more in the span of maybe ten minutes in the dark, his hooves shakily gripping the sides of the toilet as drool left his mouth.

Suddenly the lights flicked on and Caramel cried out in pain, covering his eyes and moving away from the toilet. His back hit the wall and he curled up as tight he could. His belly threatened to upheave again.

“S-Shoot, sorry, sorry!”

Braeburn’s voice. Caramel only barely registered this when he felt a hoof touch him. He felt hideous, his mane a mess and vomit on his chin. His eyes just barely adjusted to the light without immense pain in the next minute yet they didn’t seem to want to focus. He heard Braeburn’s voice but couldn’t register what the stallion was saying to him.

“I heard you,” Braeburn said, his voice quiet. “My cooking really that bad?”

Caramel knew it was a joke but he was too close to throwing up again to pretend to find it funny. He was only half aware of where he was over his mind screaming how awful he felt. He barely registered being lifted and pushed over the edge into a shower where Braeburn let him sit down again. Water hit him and he jumped, yelping at the icy touch. The warmth wasn’t good either. His body wouldn’t stop trembling.

Caramel didn’t know how long he sat in the shower. Eventually he laid down, letting the warm water run over him. He threw up once more, but his belly was so empty that it was hardly anything but gagging. He must have apologized at some point because Braeburn kept telling him it was okay and not that big of a deal. He didn’t remember talking, really, only the warmth of the water just barely enough to wash off the grim of sweat coating him.

He didn’t feel clean when Braeburn stopped the shower and began to dry him. He was talking, but Caramel couldn’t really focus enough to understand it. He kept one hoof pressed over his lips in fear his body might react against his will again.

“It’s gonna be okay,” Braeburn said. “You’re fine. One step at a time.”

Caramel was being led someplace. He was eventually laid into a bed and covered up. He tried to push off the covers because he was burning but Braeburn forced them down until he finally settled, panting and gasping occasionally as he tossed and turned. He only vaguely understood that he was no longer with Big Macintosh because the bed was far too small. He still smelled that stench of perfume and his eyes kept watering. He thought he was crying, but didn’t feel sad so it didn’t make sense.

“Shhh,” Braeburn said. “It’s okay, Cara. Nopony’s upset. You just got sick is all.”

Caramel was definitely crying.

Caramel thought he passed out at some point, but he wasn’t entirely sure. He tossed and turned so much and went from freezing to burning in seconds. He didn’t think he ever stopped trembling. There was a point where he was in so much pain he wanted to die. His head was pounding worse than any hangover he had ever had before.

He remembered crying at some point. His mind was enveloped in a mix of sickness and the occasional touch of nightmares prying at his mind. During one of these nightmares he was brought back by a hoof stroking his mane and lips kissing his forehead and then his cheek. He heard the name ‘Sugarcube’ once or twice. He cracked his eyes for just a second and realized it was morning. The next time he opened his eyes it was darker and the blinds had been pulled shut.

Caramel wasn’t sure how long he had been like this. Drifting in and out of consciousness between the nightmares and sickness. The stench of that perfume just wouldn’t go away. He wanted Big Macintosh to come back and touch his mane and tell him it would be okay, but he couldn’t make himself form the words to ask for it.

When Caramel finally opened his eyes for more than half a second, it was twilight. He had missed nearly a full day.

His head was throbbing, and his belly twisting fiercly. But for the first time since the day before he could form a complete thought.

“I feel like shit,” He mumbled aloud.

“I don’t doubt it,” Was the first voice that Caramel heard. If he was a little stronger he might have jumped, but it made sense that he wasn’t in the room alone. He cracked his eyes and saw Braeburn out of the corner of his eye approach him. He was holding something in his hooves that he forced against Caramel’s lips.

“Drink,” Braeburn said.

Caramel drank. It was a strange sensation feeling dehydrated as well as too sick to swallow. He could only take small sips without nearly gagging.

“Looks like you caught a twenty-four-hour virus,” Braeburn said when he pulled the water away. “Big Mac got real worried. I ain’t ever seen him pace like that. I made him go to sleep because he was awake right after I put you to bed. Last time I…”

Braeburn was rambling again, and Caramel began to zone out. Caramel rolled onto his back and covered both his eyes with his hooves and pressed down. He tried to suppress his headache with everything he could but it just wouldn’t seem to go away.

“Sorry,” Braeburn chuckled. “Too much info at once. Got it. You hungry?”

Caramel wanted to say no in fear that he might throw up whatever Braeburn gave him, but his stomach couldn’t lie. He was starving. He nodded his head and closed his eyes. What felt like seconds but was probably minutes later Braeburn came back and handed him a small plate. It was just two slices of toast.

“Go slow. Papa said to just give you toast but I added a little cinnamon, okay?”

“Okay,” Caramel mumbled in reply.

He took three bites, and that was all he could manage without his body trying to reject it. Braeburn set the plate on the night table instead. He wanted to shut his eyes and go back to sleep, but he had a feeling that the worst of it had passed and he wasn’t going to pass out again. Braeburn was standing over him with a smile. He didn’t think he had ever seen Braeburn not smile.

“I think you had a few nightmares,” Braeburn said. “You were talkin’ a lot in your sleep. Big Mac got real worried when he heard some of it, but wouldn’t spill what it was.”

“What… what did it say?” Caramel questioned. His voice felt weak.

Braeburn shrugged.

“Stuff like ‘Sage’ and ‘Mom’ and stuff like that. I didn’t really get it. Papa said I shouldn’t pry.” Braeburn frowned. It was a strange sight on him. “You’re in my room, by the way. Figured you needed your own space.”

Caramel for the first time looked around. The walls were indeed different. Yellow and white striped wallpaper. The bed was smaller but also softer, and in the corner there was a large Wonderbolts poster. He hadn’t taken Braeburn for one into sports, but there seemed to be a few random wonder-bolts themed things around the room. There was a strange plushie of a cyan Pegasus with a dark blue mohawk mane sitting on the night stand. It had little goggles around it’s neck that were far too big for its stuffed persona, but then Caramel realized they were real after a second look.

“I’m sorry,” Caramel mumbled. It was all he could think to say.

“Don’t be,” Braeburn chuckled. “You got sick, that’s all. What were the nightmares ‘bout?”

Caramel didn’t bother to tell Braeburn he hadn’t even said he had nightmares, but that was because he didn’t answer at all. He felt weird remaining silent, and Braeburn’s gaze was locked onto him.

“Sorry,” Braeburn said. “Didn’t mean to pry.”

“Mmm,” Caramel made a noise in response. It was all he could force himself to do.

“Papa went out to get some medicine,” Braeburn said, changing the subject. “I ain’t ever seen Mac worry like that, really. He loves you a lot, I can tell.”

“Mmm,” Caramel repeated the noise. He didn’t like the idea of Big Mac pacing around worrying about him. He wanted to tell Big Macintosh he was okay, but he was positive that he couldn’t even force himself to get out of bed.

“Y’know, a lot of ponies think I’m dumb,” Braeburn said suddenly. It was the first time his voice had seemed somber, and a little distant. “I was always the last pony born for like… gosh, maybe eight years? Apple Bloom and Babs came along a while later, but the family still sees me as the youngest colt sometimes. I was real scared that when I told em’ all I liked stallions they might think I was just young an’ experimenting.”

“I don’t think you’re dumb,” Caramel mumbled. It was all he could think to say.

“Thanks,” Braeburn chuckled. “But that ain’t the point. I’m just sayin’ that… even if they accept me they look at me a little weird now. You don’t know how happy I am that Big Mac came with you. I came with some stallion that ain’t even here all the time.”

Braeburn reached over to the small plushie of a Wonderbolt and pulled off the goggles.

“Big Mac an’ you talk ‘bout each other like you’ve always been together,” Braeburn said as he rolled the goggles around in his hooves. “I barely know you and you just seem so right for him. He ain’t ever open like that ‘bout how he feels even with the gals in Ponyville.”

“I love him,” Caramel said.

“I know that, Silly,” Braeburn laughed this time. “Shoot, can’t believe I didn’t notice it. He has gaga eyes all over you. I’m glad you two came early, even if you did get sick so soon.”

If Caramel’s face wasn’t so hot already he might have started blushing.

“I… I ran away from something,” Caramel said out loud. He wasn’t sure why he said it, but he turned away when he did. “That’s what the nightmare was about.”

“Oh,” Braeburn said. He didn’t push more, which surprised Caramel. “Do you want me to go wake Mac? I’m sure he’ll be happy that you woke up.”

Caramel stared hard at the wallpaper in the dim lighting and tried to stop his head from hurting so much. He ignored Braeburn’s question.

“Does it smell to you?” Caramel asked, curling up under the blanket.

“Smell?” Braeburn asked.

“Like… Perfume?”

“No, I don’t think so,” Braeburn said.

Caramel was quiet for a long time. He wasn’t sure if he was thankful for Braeburn’s rare silence but he was forced into it. He swallowed a lump in his throat he didn’t even know had formed and shut his eyes. The smell wasn’t there, but the memory was. It was so strong and overpowering. So many nights of gagging on it and hearing his mother yell.

“Me and Big Mac came here because of me,” Caramel mumbled. “I was running away from my family… Or… one of them, I guess.”

Braeburn continued to be quiet. He touched his hoof to Caramel’s side.

“My Ma ran away when I was little,” Braeburn said. “I didn’t know her at all. It was right after she had me. Papa said they were just casually dating and she accidentally got pregnant with me. She just left a month after I was born and Papa still don’t know where she went.”

“I wish I never knew my mom,” Caramel mumbled, and then instantly regretted it. He was still sick, and not thinking. He wanted to apologize but was too scared to speak, squeezing his eyes shut and begging the moment to pass without incident. “Am I bad for thinking that?”

“Well,” Braeburn said, his voice unsure. “Papa told me right before I came out at the reunion that… if Ponies didn’t treat me right they weren’t worth keeping. He loved me, and that was all I needed.”

That was what Big Macintosh had said back at the train station. Some ponies were worth leaving behind, no matter the relation.

“I think Mac might love you like Papa loved me when he said that,” Braeburn said. “So, no. I don’t think you’re bad for thinking that.”

“I’m sorry,” Caramel mumbled again. He wasn’t sure why.

Braeburn said something about asking if Caramel wanted Big Macintosh again, but Caramel barely heard it. He closed his eyes, and felt sleep come over him.