• Published 29th Jan 2017
  • 1,991 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 Two: The New Routine

The morning sun streamed in from Big Macintosh’s window and splayed over his bed. As little as a year ago, this site would have been unusual for him to see upon waking up. For his entire life he was always an early to rise early to bed sort of stallion. Applejack used to tease him and say “Good afternoon, Mac” whenever she got out of bed at eight in the morning compared to his five-thirty on the dot every day. It wasn’t like they ever started work on the farm until ten in the morning unless it was a special occasion, Mac had just preferred to wake up that early. But now… When he woke up he could hear the commotion of breakfast outside of his door.

“Mmm,” Caramel made a noise when Mac rolled slightly and nearly flattened his boyfriend. The smaller pony was tucked into his forelegs and gripped in a little spoon position. He was the reason Mac’s sleep schedule had changed so drastically in the past year, though he might not have known it.

The first few times Caramel slept over at Mac’s were a big deal at the time. The morning, however, was another matter entirely. Caramel had never had rhyme nor reason to wake up at the seemingly absurd time his boyfriend did, so he was a late sleeper. Mac had to withhold shock the first time Caramel shyly told him that he sometimes slept till ten in the morning. What started as not wanting to wake his boyfriend and laying in bed a few extra hours just enjoying cuddling slowly developed into Mac’s worsening sleep habits. He used to be strict with his rules about bedtime, but Caramel had changed the rules. Now they woke up at nine in the morning, the latest in the household.

“Morning, Sugarcube,” Big Macintosh whispered after planting his lips against Caramel’s soft and supple neck. He kissed a few times only because he knew Caramel was insanely sensitive, especially when he wasn’t expecting it. He was rewarded with his toying by Caramel making a yelping dog-like sort of sound and instantly scooting his body back further into the trap known as his muscular boyfriend’s strong legs, of which he instantly locked Caramel and let his teeth graze just against Caramel’s jawline.

“C-C’mon you jerk!” Caramel whined, instantly struggling in Mac’s iron grip. He knew better by now than to let Mac have too much fun toying with him or he might never stop. “I’m up I’m up!”

Mac chuckled himself and released Caramel, though instead of squirming away from his teasing lover as fast he could Caramel instead rolled over until the two were belly to belly and buried his face in Mac’s neck. He cuddled him back and groaned. Mac knew he was more than likely being used as a pony shield for the sunlight, but he didn’t mind.

“I was dreaming,” Caramel muttered in an annoyed voice. “Five more minutes.”

Big Macintosh just smiled and kissed his boyfriend’s head.

Mac had only slept in the same bed with three ponies he would ever consider himself in a semi-serious relationship with. Something nopony seemed to expect out of the big red workhorse was just how… cuddly he was. Mac enjoyed the touch of another in his forelegs to fall asleep too. He enjoyed a pony’s unique scent filling his nose, Caramel’s was sweet with just a hint of cotton, and the squirm of another as they adjusted. It made him feel comfortable and warm. The first mare who found this out about him wasn’t a cuddler, and the second seemed almost turned off as she expected Mac to be the strong stoic type always. Caramel was different, though. Caramel let him sleep like this. It was an adjustment he later admitted, and more than once Caramel confessed if he was braver earlier in their relationship he might have asked Mac for some of his own space. However, he had grown to like it just as much, if not more than Mac.

Mac used to never waste time in the morning upon waking. Now he took time to appreciate those little five more minutes Caramel always asked for. Caramel was at his most cuddle addicted and flat out needy in the morning as he switched to accepting Mac’s grip to practically laying on him for those last moments of sleep.

Mac was happy. He had feared… well, the worst. No matter how well their visit at the grave three days earlier had went, he had this tiny fear in him that was irrational ever since that things might be awkward between the two of them. In Mac’s eyes, it was a step forward. A step he had never taken with anypony before.

Big Macintosh glanced around the bedroom as the last wisps of sleep abandoned his thoughts and mind and he began to think more clearly. In those thoughts, he could only wonder how he had waited so long. The room was different to what it had been two years ago, even though Caramel didn’t even live with him. Mac was minimalist, and had nothing in his room shy of a few photographs of family on his bedside table. Now he had a photograph of Caramel and him beside it, but that wasn’t all that was different.

There was a thick, fluffy throw rug covering Mac’s once bare hardwood floor. He had gotten it because it made the floorboards creak less. The house was old and noisy, and Mac didn’t mind. Unfortunately for him Caramel was a light sleeper and any loud creaking in the bedroom would usually wake him up. The carpet muffled it. The closet which Big Mac never used now held several of Caramel’s sweaters and scarves he had forgotten here during the long winter. Mac’s personal bathroom connected to his bedroom used to only have one towel and one bar of soap. Now it had three towels, one for Caramel’s mane and body, and several brands of soap and various pill bottles that the two had forgotten to throw out once emptied.

The changes were gradual, but the room itself was unrecognizable. The biggest itself was the larger bed and second pillow which Caramel was only now half using in favor of Mac’s own chest. The bed needed to get bigger once Caramel started sleeping over, as Mac had a small twin that barely fit his since he was ten. The pillow was soft and fluffy, and something Mac couldn’t sleep on without feeling like he was suffocating from his face sinking in so much.

“Sugar,” Mac whispered as he ran his hoof down to Caramel’s own and took it before giving as gentle squeeze. “Five minutes is up.”

“Mmm,” Caramel made a low-moaning sort of noise of annoyance.

“Want five more?” Big Macintosh chuckled.

Caramel only had to nod and bury his muzzle deeper into Mac’s chest fluff. It was very hard for Mac to say no.

Breakfast was busy. Big Macintosh when he was little assumed that every family woke up in a chorus of energy and bubbling excitement for the day ahead of them. However, one glance at Caramel whose eyes were still drooping and steps swaying uneasily made him realize that his family was more than likely unique in this regard.

“Morning, sleepyheads!” Applejack called.

That was a more recent nickname. Being the last to wake in the house was almost an open invitation for ridicule in a family of farmers who thrived on the morning sunlight.

Mac gave his sister a small smile and nodded his head. Apple Bloom was running back and forth from the kitchen to the living room gathering all her things for school. Her bow wasn’t even in her hair yet and when she said good morning. Caramel of course instantly went for the same table Granny Smith was at and laid his head down and gave a quiet, tired good morning to everypony.

With the kitchen as loud and bustling as it was there was no chance Caramel was going to nod off. Whatever Applejack was frying up for breakfast on a total of three skillets at once was popping and sizzling as she dashed each of them with pepper and other various spices without even looking.

“I always tell you to get your stuff ready in the morning,” Applejack rolled her eyes as Apple Bloom rushed back into the kitchen and impatiently beat her front hooves on the ground.

“I know I know!” Apple Bloom whined as she was struggling to fix up her bow. Mac chuckled and reached down, helping her do so before she thanked him with a big smile that made his chest feel warm.

Big Macintosh went for the coffee next. He drunk his black, but was generous and filled up a second mug with plenty of cream and sugar and put it in front of Caramel. Applejack was pulling out plates and tossing them all on the table as she also threw on hash browns and eggs. She and Granny Smith were joking back and forth, sometimes trying to get Caramel to pitch in. He was never listening, mostly because he was still exhausted. It would be about fifteen more minutes before he was recognizable as an intelligent form of life.

The Apple family ate fast. They also ate a lot. They were hard workers, so they needed the calories to burn. Even Granny Smith ate a serving and a half. Caramel himself was a bit more on the heavier side of things, his belly a striking contrast to the Apple Family’s flat stomachs, but even he was never able to keep up with them. As such, his plate was usually the only one never cleaned when he was finally full. He might have been teased about this if the Apple Family weren’t all aware they were bottomless stomached freaks.

Caramel was just starting to fully come around about halfway through breakfast. Applejack was telling him about the upcoming harvest and they began to playfully talk about some of the excuses Mac might make to get out of work early to visit him. A year ago these jokes might have made Caramel blush, but now he was able to playfully go along with it. It was part of the charm of the Apple family. They either chased you away or broke you down with kindness in the lengths they’d go to in order to make you feel a part of the conversation.

“Needs to go buy a new wheel for the cart?” Caramel asked. “One date last summer was to the hardware store.”

Mac rolled his eyes. Caramel of course didn’t bother to mention the fact that they walked around the park after that.

“Naw,” Applejack shook her head. “He used that excuse three times last year.”

“Four,” Big Macintosh said with a chuckle.

“You’re not very creative!” Applejack snapped across the table, and the two of them chuckled. “You know you work twice as much as me! You’re ALLOWED to ask me to pick up some of your lovey dovey slack!”

“You lot are never straightforward,” Granny Smith chimed in with a nod before going on one of her long rants.

Big Macintosh chuckled.

“Well, the harvest won’t be in full swing for a while, right?” Caramel asked. “We’ll still have a few weeks before he has to start playing hooky.”

“Mmm,” Applejack shook her head slowly. “No, I don’t think so. Actually the Apple Family Reunion is coming up in a few weeks, so we’ll be out for at least a long weekend pretty soon.”

“Oh, right,” Caramel said when he slumped back into his chair. He was frowning and gripping his coffee cup. “Forgot about that.”

Mac couldn’t help but notice the slight disappointment cross Caramel’s face. It was only for a second, but it was there. What Mac had learned early on in his life is that the Apple Family didn’t pick up on small things like he did. Maybe it was because he was quiet and had to rely on a more physical communication over a verbal one. If he blinked, he might have missed it. He was just about to open his mouth to say something when Apple Bloom interrupted him.

“Shoot!” Apple Bloom said as she pushed back her plate. “I promised I’d meet the girls before school.”

And just like that the chaos of morning breakfast seemed to disperse. As usual Big Macintosh asked Apple Bloom if she wanted to be walked to school and she said no, and then without her the livelihood seemed to settle down on top of everypony’s full bellies.

“I’ll wash the dishes,” Caramel offered.

“Oh, you don’t have to do that, sweetie!” Granny Smith said.

“C-C’mon, it’s not like I helped with breakfast or setting up,” Caramel bashfully giggled when he began to gather up the plates. Granny Smith said something about how he was a polite stallion and he blushed more.

“I’ll help,” Mac said when he stood up. He could tell Caramel was about to open his mouth to argue but Mac quieted him down by going over and kissing him before he could talk. It was always easy to quiet Caramel down by blushing.

“Ugh,” Applejack made a noise as though she were clearly rolling her eyes. That wasn’t a ‘I’m uncomfortable with my brother kissing a stallion’ sound it was a ‘I’m uncomfortable you’re being a big dope in love’ sound.

The warm water splashed over Mac’s hooves as he grabbed for the soap and traded dishes with Caramel. They had good teamwork in Caramel washing and Big Mac drying. Whenever they did work together Mac always saw this stern and focused expression on Caramel’s face. It was less intense than if he was trying to help out on the fields, but it was still there. It was almost as if Caramel was afraid of messing up in some way. Mac touched his shoulder lightly and the expression softened when Caramel smiled.

“So,” Caramel said. His voice was holding back something. Big Mac thought it might have been a sign. “You’re gonna be gone in a few weeks for that family thing?”

“Eeyup,” Mac said when he nodded his head.

“You usually have fun at those things,” Caramel said with a nod. He was talking quietly, mostly because Applejack and Granny Smith were so close and it was clear he didn’t want to be heard over the running water. “I mean, I hope you do…”

“Sugar?” Mac asked. He touched Caramel’s shoulder again after he had been holding the same glass under the water for a good ten seconds without budging. He blinked and shook his head slowly.

“It’s nothing,” Caramel said before Mac could even ask what’s wrong. He just knew that was going to be the next question. “I’m just being… dumb.”

Caramel hesitated before that last word.

Mac didn’t like it when Caramel called himself dumb. He used to do it a lot more until Mac asked why one day, and when Caramel couldn’t (or wouldn’t) give an answer he wanted to drop it. Perhaps Sage had never called it out before, or maybe Caramel himself had just never noticed, but now whenever he let it slip there was always the slightest hesitation followed by the same thing Mac always said.

“You ain’t dumb, Sugarcube.”

Big Macintosh pushed back Caramel’s mane so he could see his eyes more clearly. Caramel wouldn’t look at him and just slowly turned the same glass over a few times under the water.

“Just… you get really busy in a month. It’ll be hard to see you and I… I was glad we could spend some time together when it wasn’t so cold and all.”

Caramel mumbled those words as if he didn’t even want Big Mac to understand them. He blushed and looked away, grabbing the soap again and handing the glass over. He moved on from his work, but Mac held the glass there silently for a few moments.

“We’ll still have time,” Big Macintosh tried to sound reassuring.

“I know.” Caramel was now shaking his head. “Just forget I said anything, okay?”

Mac frowned, but Caramel didn’t look up to see. The workhorse was thinking now, and in those thoughts an idea began to form.

“Pardon?” Applejack asked.

Mac was frowning. He wasn’t looking at his sister, but he could imagine the look she had on her face. It was the sort of half quizzical half amused waiting for the punchline sort of expression he had feared. He didn’t look up from the cart wheel he was tightening, but he could see his sister’s orange coat out of the corner of his eye.

“I wanna bring Caramel to the reunion,” Big Macintosh repeated.

Applejack was quiet for a while. It was uncomfortably quiet, and it brought back memories Big Mac wished he had never gotten to share with his sister. The times where him and Caramel were still a new couple and whenever he brought up Caramel she would pause and look worried or confused how to react. It was something Mac thought they had gotten over and he would never have to deal with it again.

Now was possibly the best time to talk about it. Mac didn’t put much thought into things, as he was more of an impulsive pony. The moment an idea or thought popped into his head he liked to go for it when it was still fresh. This was one of the few times he had waited. Caramel was gone, Apple Bloom was at school, and Granny Smith was taking her post lunchtime nap. The two were together in the barn checking up on the tools they used for harvesting before the winter to make sure nothing was rusted or loose and everything would be set for the following seasons. Mac tugged at the wheel on the cart and felt no sign of looseness so he released it and shut his eyes.

“I ain’t asking for permission,” Big Mac said when Applejack was quiet for an uncomfortably long time.

“Sorry,” Applejack mumbled. He glanced to his sister and saw she was shaking her head. If she was waiting for the joke to hit, it wasn’t gonna happen. “Just… This is real sudden, Mac. Are you sure you wanna?”

“I thought you were fine with me and him now,” Big Macintosh said. He had never sounded angry with his sister before. In fact, he could remember the last time he was mad at her, and it was when he was little and she pushed him into a river in the middle of winter and he caught a cold. His father had made her apologize and go without dinner that night. This was one of the rare times he was tempted to let that anger flare up. Of course, if he wasn’t expecting some resistance then why did he go through such lengths to make sure his sister was alone?

“I am!” Applejack argued when she stamped her hoof on the hay covered barn floor. “Just heavens to Betsy, are you forgettin’ the little detail that the rest of the family don’t even know you like stallions!”

Big Macintosh didn’t need to be reminded. He had been with Caramel for two reunions now, and both times Caramel had been left behind. It didn’t cross his mind at the time to correct the ponies of his family who asked if he had a mare friend yet, but now he was beginning to wish he had.

“It’s in Appleloosa, ain’t it?” Big Mac asked.

“Yeah,” Applejack nodded her head. Her tone went from backlash to more soft and submissive in that single word.

It was almost as if Big Mac didn’t even need to say the name for the stallion they were thinking of to pop into both of their minds.

“I mean… Braeburn IS hosting it this year,” Applejack mumbled aloud.

Braeburn was, to put it lightly, the single most colt cuddling coltcuddler Mac had ever met. Of course, Ponyville had it’s own share of same-sex couples scattered through it who Mac occasionally talked to. The earth pony and harp playing unicorn at the sweets store. That one aqua earth pony who was an artist and his husband gryphon who had their wedding a short time after Caramel and Mac had begun dating and they were more on the low-key side of things. However, none of these ponies were anything like Braeburn.

Braeburn from the moment he came out was loud about who he was and held very little shame. He brought a stallion who he proudly proclaimed his boyfriend to the first reunion it was known about him. He liked to talk about it, and in general he liked to talk a lot. Furthermore, most of the family liked Braeburn.

Maybe it was selfish at the time, but during that reunion Big Macintosh couldn’t help but be thankful that he wasn’t going to have to be the first in the family to pave the way.

“Look,” Big Macintosh started with a sigh. “A few days ago, when I took Caramel to Ma and Pa...”

Applejack looked down and frowned. She knew about that. Applejack was the only pony other than him and Caramel to know about that. In fact, it was Applejack who encouraged him when he went to her asking if he was doing something stupid the night before. Applejack had come such a long way to being supportive of Mac and the choice of a partner he had made, so it was hard to understand why she couldn’t be that pony now.

“It went great,” Mac said with a chuckle. “I knew it was right to show him that. We talked and talked about it for hours.”

“You told me,” Applejack muttered when she hit her hoof at a small clump of hay on the floor. She was keeping her mouth twisted and her eyes narrowed. “Mac, you know we treat Caramel like he’s family and…”

“Eeyup,” Mac said sternly. It was the sort of reply that didn’t need to be explained, because Applejack had already said it. “Just like family.”

Applejack bit her lip and then sighed.

“Some ponies took Braeburn… y’know… really hard, Mac,” Applejack said when she walked over to the cart and put a hoof on the edge. She leaned her forehead against it. “I know you have thick skin but this ain’t some stranger, this is family. I don’t want you or Caramel to…”

“AJ,” Mac said.

Applejack glanced up and looked over to Big Macintosh. He was staring at her intently, making sure that she was looking him right in the eye when he talked.

“I love Caramel. We ain’t just experimenting anymore.”

Applejack did something Mac didn’t expect, and that was to chuckle.

“I know that, you dope.”

Applejack walked over and nicked Mac in the arm. She sighed and lowered her hat so Mac couldn’t see her eyes. She was shaking her head slowly not in a disapproving sort of way, but as though she were thinking.

“Maybe you’re right,” Applejack admitted. “Maybe if there were any time to do it it’d be when Brae was hosting.”

“I’ve never seen a stallion kiss another stallion so long without air,” Big Mac said.

Both chuckled at that. Things were lightening up already.

“So,” Applejack said when she raised the brim of her hat. “How’re you gonna ask Caramel?”

Mac frowned. He hadn’t even thought of that.