• Published 5th May 2018
  • 9,112 Views, 175 Comments

Alternate Beginnings: Year One - Doug Graves

Seven years before the events of MLP:FiM, a human appears in Equestria, meeting Applejack and other ponies of Ponyville.

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2 Dinner Conversation

Toiling in the fields all day built up quite the layer of sweat and grime on Doug’s body. So much so that a quick dip in the pond wasn’t enough to remove it, and his skin is still a little raw from the rough bristles he used to scrub himself off. A light sheen of water glistens on his chest, remnants of a second rinse outside the farmhouse. The towel finds a peg near the door, right next to the one used earlier by Applejack. He walks into the dining room and then the kitchen, spotting Applejack busily preparing dinner. Doug grabs three sets of dishes from the cupboards, placing them on the dining room table.

Doug returns to the kitchen, fingers finding Applejack’s head. She quietly moans as she pushes her head into his hand, trying to get his ear scratching just a little deeper. She winks at him as she pulls away, returning to the nearly finished task of cooking dinner. He says, "I wanted to thank you again, for taking a chance on me, giving me a job and a place to stay."

Applejack smiles as she nods, "Oh, shucks, ain't nothing nopony else would do. Besides, after what you said about not being from around here? Ain’t like you have anywhere else to go. 'Sides, you'll earn your keep around here."

Doug stretches his sore legs, “I believe that. Shame Granny Smith won’t be joining us for dinner. I was looking forward to saying more than a few words with her.”

Applejack nods as she opens the oven, removing the covered dish inside. She places it on the counter to cool, “Yeah, some days she nods off a little early. Best not to wake her when she does.” She smiles as she glances over, giving his side a quick nuzzle. She grins as she turns, her tail flicking his flank as she starts placing apples in a bowl. She pauses; is she really doing what she thinks she is doing?

Doug moves over, inspecting the dishes on the counter. Doug chuckles, “I reckon she’s as sharp as her namesake, huh?”

Applejack’s muzzle sours as she replies, “Nah, it ain’t like that; she’s a real honeycrisp once you get to know her. It’s just, after my parents… well, Ah don’t really want to talk about that.” She flicks her head to the dining room, “Go and see Big Mac, Ah’m sure he’s champing at the bit to spend some time with ya.”

Doug smiles, another quick rub to Applejack’s head getting a second tail flick to his thigh. He grabs another bottle of apple juice and heads back to the dining room. The three pony style chairs around the table, little more than benches, are too low for Doug to comfortably sit on. Instead, he sits cross legged on the floor opposite Big Mac. Doug remarks, “Evening, Mac. Beautiful day to work outside, yup?

The red earth pony stares at Doug, slightly nodding his head. “Eeyup.”

Doug smiles at the taste of juice, “You all do a great job around here. But, ain’t it a lot of land for just three ponies? Even if y’all are some of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen.”

“Eeyup.” This one contains a hint of pride.

“Saw some wheat and flowers, but it seems like you mostly grow apples.” At Big Mac’s nod, Doug continues, “You mostly export them, or just sell them here in Ponyville?”

Big Mac nods again.

Doug gives Big Mac a questioning gaze, but soldiers on. “Applejack was pretty keen on me working here.” Another sip of juice. “I’m really looking forward to working the fields with you all.” He smirks, “Though, I don’t know that I’ll ever get as good at the plow as you. Or apple bucking, for that matter.”


Doug swishes the juice in his mouth, swallowing and shrugging, “Hey it don’t bother me none.” His face relaxes as he smiles, “Applejack though, she sure is something, ain’t she?”

Big Mac’s eyes narrow. “Eeyup.”

“Oh, I don’t mean to imply anything. Just had a great time working with her in the orchards and all.”

Big Mac’s eyes narrow further. “Eeyup.”

Applejack steps through the doorway, balancing several plates on her back. Her mouth reaches back, deftly grabbing one dish as Doug gets up to help. She waves him off, saying, “Couple more dishes on the counter, go on and grab those. Ah got this.”

Doug nods, heading into the kitchen. Applejack looks at Big Mac, “Lively conversation, you must like him.”

Big Mac shrugs noncommittally as Doug walks back into the room. He places the larger serving dish on the table and asking, “So, what did you make? It all smells delicious.”

“Ah just made a selection of what we normally take to market. Ain’t nothing special.” Applejack motions with a hoof, pointing at each dish in turn, "We’ve got apple pie, apple fritters, apple tarts, and apple dumplings. Oh, and apples.”

Doug nods, taking the dish of apple dumplings and spooning some of the contents onto his plate. He passes the dish to Big Mac, grabbing one of the apples and the next dish. Soon, his plate is piled high with apple products, and he notices Applejack has more on her plate than Big Mac. He remarks, “Got quite the appetite there, dontcha?”

Applejack looks between the three plates, “Well, Ah am more’n twice your weight, even if you are a bit taller.” She starts digging into her food, tongue licking the sauce off the plate. She notices that Doug has taken a knife and is cutting his dumplings into more manageable pieces. She shrugs and goes back to her meal, quickly finishing off her plate and going for seconds. The three ravenously dig into their meals, the only sounds chewing and the scratch of knife on plate.

Soon, the food has all disappeared. Applejack stares forlornly at the last apple dumpling that Doug is swirling around his plate, gathering the last remnants of sauce. She frowns as he bites into it, still feeling a little hungry. Seeing her expression, Doug takes another bite, leaving around half. He slowly points the knife with the dumpling towards Applejack. She jumps at the chance, quickly devouring the dumpling. Her tongue licks the sauce still remaining on the knife, her eyes peering up at Doug. He cocks his head to the side as he looks back, pulling the knife away and gathering the dishes.

Applejack glances at Big Mac, who is eyeing her curiously. She looks back towards Doug again, swallowing nervously. Doug stops at her stare, holding the stack of dishes in one hand. Applejack stammers, dreading the conversation she has been putting off. “Um, Doug, there’s something that’s been eating at me most of the day.”

“Oh? What’s that, Applejack?”

“Well… to be completely honest, the farm hasn’t been doing so well, since last year. My parents… well, they ain’t around any more, and it hit Granny particularly hard. She hasn’t been able to help around the farm as much as she used to, so we haven’t been able to make as much…”

Applejack trails off, gulping as she tries to break the news. “What Ah'm trying to say is, it’s been great working with you and all, but Ah'm afraid we won’t be able to pay you much of anything. Ah’ve got some bits saved up, so Ah can pay you a little extra for today, but after that...” She trails off again, her muzzle falling to the floor, unsure of how best to continue.

Doug shakes his head, his free hand rubbing Applejack’s mane. His hand travels down to her chin, turning her muzzle up to look at him and saying, “Oh, you don’t have to worry about that, Applejack. After today, I would love to stay here with you. I’d be happy working here for meals like this and a warm bed.”

He smiles at Applejack, lightly rubbing her chin. He returns to the kitchen, oblivious to the stunned expressions on Applejack and Big Mac.