• Published 7th Aug 2018
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Equestrian City: Side Streets - Malcontent

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"Lost Fruit" (Applejack/Flashbacks/Rarity/Trenderhoof)

“Lost Fruit”
By DarkMalcontent
Proof and Polish by Alisia
Editor in Hooves Brawny Buck


Applejack took her hat off and gave a frustrated grunt with her attention on the receptionist. It was hard to focus on looking the young girl in the eye as they seemed to be looking in another direction. “Aah would like to see Rarity. She made a heaping sum of a donation and I’d like to thank her personally.”

Looking at the confused receptionist, the name “Muffin” was printed on her tilted name tag, Applejack fidgeted with her hat until she got a response. “Ms. Rarity is very busy. You need an appointment,” Muffin said, adjusting her headset slightly as she typed away at her console. She stared hard at the screen with a long pause. “Miss...Hoof?”

“Applejack, please.” AJ corrected her, trading her hat to her other hand. “Look, I know I’d normally need an appointment, but the sudden donation, I’d like to speak with her. It’s raised some concerns, not to mention I’m...well I’m an old friend.”

“That’s what she’s hoping.” Spike popped up on a monitor nearby, startling AJ and Muffins.

“Oh, Spike, you scared me.” Muffins said, holding her chest momentarily.

“Sorry, I’ll take care of this one. You worry about booking the afternoon.” Spike said, his avatar shifting from dragon to a dog form that jumped several screens. He motioned at AJ with his paw. “Come on, this way.”

“Spike...?” AJ rubbed her forehead slowly, the perplexing moment washing over her. She put her hat back on and followed Spikes instructions hesitantly. Walking to the far end, she heard Muffins get overwhelmed yet again.

“Hi, Applejack.” Spike sat casually on the flatscreen. “Boy have you got questions I bet?”

“Y’all ain’t kidding.” She raised an eyebrow. “How?”

“How am I alive? I’m not.” Spike motioned again, leaping to what appeared to be a series of flat screens placed along the lobby, leading the blonde haired girl along with him towards the elevators. “I died. This is an elaborate recreation via an abandoned A.I. program Twilight repurposed.” The elevator gave a dull ding as he said that with the doors parting. “That's the easy part to explain.”

“Can’t wait to hear the hard part.” She said, stepping into the elevator and giving a bewildered stare as the doors closed in front of her.

“Well Rarity can't see you at the moment as she's about to present the new proposed armor to the ECPD.” Spike continued as the elevator began to rise. Several curved glass monitors in the elevator popped on and Spike walked across them as he continued. “But I'm willing to bet you’re here to find out why we transferred so much to AppleTrends?”

“That's the main reason, Spike, but it's not the only one.” Applejack answered with a slow nod.

“Do you feel like sharing the rest?” Spike morphed back to his dragon avatar as the elevator rose to the middle of the building and the doors opened. “This way,” he said while hopping to a nearby monitor in the busy hallway.

Stepping through the hallway AJ dodged the hurried pace of several different girls all running past her shouting different things. Mostly about fabric or resources, the last one shouting about lunch orders. As quickly as the papers and girls flew by, the doors they all ran in slammed shut and the distant rustling of paper was all that she could hear. “City folk,” she muttered as her boots were muffled by the carpeting in the hallway. “Where in tarnation are we going?”

“This way.” Spike suddenly appeared near her head. “To the green room”

AJ jumped with a short gasp and smacked at the avatar with her hat out of instinct. “Just stay where I can see ya. Green room ya say?”

“Think of it as a VIP waiting room while Rarity finishes up.” Spike said, increasing his size and filling a whole screen as he walked. His proportions changed as well to a mid sized dragon and wings sprouted out his back. “Can I get you anything to drink? Water? Tea? Apple juice?” he gave a teasing smirk as he said the last drink. They reached a jade colored door at the end of the hall, upon which it unlocked and opened for her.

“Well...” she pondered half a second. “Lemonade if ya got it.” She took her hat off and cooled off in the air conditioning. “Whew. Didn't realize how hot it was ‘til I came into this here air conditioning.” The door closed and the nearby wall lit up to reveal itself as a television on low volume, with Spike on a nearby corner mounted monitor.

“It’s on its way. Just relax and I'll let Rarity know the moment she's done. I bet Twilight will want to say hi too!” he waved and the monitor he was on turned off.

Left to herself finally, she sat down in a plush looking chair and immediately sank into it much further then she anticipated. Catching herself on the arms of the chair, she rebalanced her form and cleared her throat, trying to forget the moment of panic she had just had in being eaten by a chair. A small glass of lemonade arrived by a hovering drone and left her alone with her thoughts as she slipped it. Staring at several framed magazines on the walls, AJ let her mind drift into a sea of memories she had tried to lock away.

***

Suburbs of Equestrian City - Sweet Apple Acres II

1 year after The Canterlot Disaster

“Look I'm mighty flattered but I just can’t be involved with anyone serious right now.” Applejack huffed as she lifted a bale of hay and hurled it past Trenderhoof. What I'd like to do is get you and your butt off my farm. Applejack gritted her teeth to keep from saying her thoughts. The skinny and clearly out of place socialite dodged with little grace, adjusting his glasses while she saw him move closer. “Besides, if I don't get the chores done there won't be much for you to report on.”

“It’s simply incredible how you move with the grace of a dancer yet the strength of an ox!” Trenders reply rang in her ear.

Oh where did Rarity go? She needs to keep a better leash on this boyfriend of hers, Applejack thought as she narrowed her eyes.

“I'm ever so glad I came down today to watch you in action. I could watch you all day!”

“I know!” AJ said in defeat. “Y’all said so five times so far today!” she picked up two large barrels of apples and hoisted them under her arms with ease. She grunted as she nearly ran over him again. I swear if he don’t stay out of the way I'm fixing to just pin him down with an apple barrel for the day. She focused on the barn ahead of her to keep from acting on her thought. Turning a half second later she noticed Trender staring curiously at a set of tools. “What was it you’re report was supposed to be on exactly again?” she cocked an eyebrow.

“I'm to report on the economic and sociological impacts the modern farm has on the rate of technology advancement in urban units.” He answered proudly, pulling out his phone and taking several moments to type a few more notes. “When I took this class from ECU, I had no idea I'd be going to such a folksy setting as part of the curriculum.” Trender looked back up at Applejack and grinned widely in adoration. “Let alone meeting someone of your prestige, beauty and rough down home values.”

Applejack stopped as he started in on his explanation. The meaning was going over her head a bit but she certainly knew what the last part was about. Trenderhoof had been at her for sometime now since he arrived and had yet to give up. I gotta admit, his persistence is rather cute. She thought as she resumed her duties. But Rarity has been entirely clear he’s her man for at least a year now I think. Applejack set the barrels down with a grunt, dusting her shorts off. Granny always said ‘Never pick apples from someone else orchard’. She sighed and looked over in a desperate hope he had magically disappeared.

Trender shrieked softly as a set of pitchforks and rakes he clumsily bumped into tumbled over next to him. He turned with interest after the danger had passed and began to pick at the objects. Bending over, he peered at the rake, having never been privy to such devices up close.

StIll... Applejack turned away some and peeked from behind her hat ever so slightly. Her gaze taking in what the slender but persistent teen had to offer in regards of physical appeal. This barn seems to have a sturdy frame despite the thin shingles. Still...the silo seems adequate. She smirked to herself. Reality punched her mind softly as she scorned herself. What the hell am I doing?! This is the only thing Rarity's got left.

She rubbed her forehead, wiping sweat with a cloth slowly. Leaning on a set of crates, she took a swig of water from her canteen and gave a helpless look as Trenderhoof tried replacing the tools. She already smokes too much. Trender and her new shop in town is all she focuses on now. Folks don’t talk to her since Sweeties funeral. AJ took another swig and her gaze lowered. Pretty sad really, how cold everyone been towards’er.

“Curious.” Trender said softly as he tried stacking them again. This time he solved the problem by propping them all against the other in a cluttered mess. It held but Applejack shook her head and stood up.

“Look. Ya gotta put the heavier ones in the back or tilt them this way. Else they'll just tumble back down again,” she said as she fixed them back up.

“Outstanding my Haymaker of a Farm Queen!” Trender replied to her as he adjusted his outfit and brushed dirt off.

“I ain't your haymaker.” Applejack groaned and turned to walk away, eyes set on the cows next. She didn't want him to see the slightest of blush appear from his last comment. If aah was a haymaker I'd use it to knock some sense into ya. Farming ain't for you. Just like I ain't. Just wouldn't work, she thought to herself. Pushing open the doors she picked up a large bucket and set it under the first holstein. Bringing her small milking stool with her she adjusted it to sit. Before she could begin she cocked her eyebrow as she heard him again.

“Ah this must be where the milk comes from.” He made a few notes but then snickered softly. “How ‘udder'ly quaint.”

Oh that deserves a bucket of milk poured on ya. AJ thought, but found herself laughing audibly ever so softly. She stopped herself just as quickly. No. Stop AJ. Can't let him wear ya down. Applejack straightened her expression and tried to start again,only to glance past Trenderhoof’s shoulder. A sober expression fell on her face as she made eye with Rarity. Her friend was dressed in what could only be described as new age western gear. The look on Rarity’s face was the real show stopper though. It was meant only for Applejack, the look was clear even without words: ‘Back Off’. Aah know, alright? Applejack thought to herself and gave Rarity the slightest of nods. I hear ya loud and clear.

“Trender, dear,” Rarity called in a tone reflecting a more calm and cool demeanor. “I think I've got an outfit you might like to see me in.” She tilted her rhinestone accented cowboy hat back. “Or perhaps out of?” she gave a lazy grin to her boyfriend of almost a year. Trender didn't turn to look at or even answer the fashionista. Rarity cleared her throat. “Dear~” she called again with a small pitch raise to add a bit of sweetness, and a poor attempt to pull off a southern touch.

Applejack noticed he was fixed on her motions as she milked the cow. Figures. Typical man. She smirked to herself, surprised she found it amusing instead of annoying. This surprised and concerned her now.

“Applejack?” Trender suddenly asked, rubbing his chin. “Why are you doing that by hand?”

“Cow won’t milk herself.” She responded, trying to stay focused on her work with more difficulty now. “Don't have the luxury of a milking machine or a larger set up.”

“Well. I was just thinking along the same lines.” He pulled up his phone and checked several notes. “You might be able to finance a larger set up with enough capital.”

“Right. Let's just go on around back to the money tree.” Applejack shook her head with a grin.

“No. Nothing as trite as that.”

Applejack turned as she noticed his tone changing. A degree of seriousness carried it now. She thanked her stars he hadn't used a pet name for over five minutes now. “Well...what do ya mean?” she stopped and looked up at him, genuinely curious. “Me and Big Mac tried talkin’ to the bank. Granny always had more luck talking to’em.” She leaned back on the stool. “A machine would save time but no bank wants to fund such a ‘risky endeavor’ since we're still so new.”

“Right. That would make sense.” Trender answered. “Normally. But you and your large brother have some assets here that you might not have presented.”

“Like?” Applejack tilted her hat back with her thumb, stood, made her way over and washed her hands at a small sink. Walking over to Trender for the first time with genuine interest, she heard the jingle of Rarity's boots.

“Leave it to my boyfriend. My. Boyfriend.” Rarity said firmly as she placed a hand so AJ could clearly see it on Trenders shoulder. “To find money where most don't.” She heard the tone Rarity used and took a step back from them both.

“Well I'm not quite sure I'd know what to do with the situation we all have here.” Applejack gave an uneven reply, her eyes darting from Trender and Rarity cautiously.

“There's clearly a need to reassess.” Trender looked up to Rarity and then Applejack. “The current situation...” he cleared his throat. “Of course I have to go now but, if you change your mind and want to have a more serious discussion, you know where to find me.” He said as he checked the time on the phone and cleared his throat.

“I wouldn't mind some help like that. If it could help the whole farm and business and what all.” Applejack stumbled on her words and looked away to the apple trees to her right. “I gotta admit, I wouldn’t know how to go about it. I'd be lost without ya in the paperwork department.”

“Yes. Lost without you.” Was all he said to her, taking a moment to meet her gaze with his as he stood. Both of them paused and a blush spreadover their cheeks.

Rarity gave a louder, frustrated and almost angry grunt. “Trender. Dear.” Her tone was quickly losing its pleasantness to Applejacks ears. “Why don't we go back to town now? You and I have reservations.”

Sure sounds like it. Applejack thought to herself as she cleared her throat. “Well it was nice having ya both here.”

“Yes, Applejack, we must find another time to do this again in the distant future.” Rarity’s tone betrayed the daggers she stared at Applejack. “Dear. Go bring the car around won't you?”

“Right. Car.” Trender said almost hypnotically as Applejack noticed him keep his eyes on her firm tan legs for a bit longer then he should have. She walked behind a set of small fencing to break his line of sight, letting him escape and out of ear shot.

Silence between the two girls was all there was as he left. Rarity pulled a slender cigarette from her designer purse. As she lit it up, Applejack coughed as the smoke drifted towards her.

“Now look.” Applejack finally said in a matter-of-fact tone. “I know what ya'll are thinking and it ain't like that a’tall.” She threw her arms outward in frustration. “I was tryin’ my darndest to get him to keep away.”

Rarity turned to stare at the barn as she took a long drag and nodded at her. The sound of a car approaching filled their ears. Applejack felt a desperate need to hear something. Anything.

“Applejack.” Rarity finally said, turning her head back to her, letting a puff of smoke go. “Try. Harder.” A determined yet venomous tone echoed in her ears.

AJ grimaced as that was all her friend said before turning and walking towards the vehicle that had rolled to a stop. Applejack stared at her friend as she left and felt a conflict inside her she didn't enjoy having. She rubbed her forehead in bewilderment at the whole situation. Sure would be nice to have someone to talk to about this. But the only one I got left that's nearby… is Rarity… “Well this is a fine barrel of apples I've gotten stuck in.” She muttered to herself.

“Eyup.” Was all she heard in the distance, her brother Big Mac walking by with six barrels on a cart.

Applejack grunted at her brother’s apparent knowledge of her perplexing position. When she turned to follow him, everything faded to white with a voice interrupting.

“Did you need a refill?” Spike asked loudly, knocking Applejack’s focus back to the present.

“What? NO! She already blames me for Sweetie!” she blurted out suddenly. “I mean, uh…” she looked over with a flush to her cheeks. “Yeah Spike, that would be great.” She hid behind her hat a bit as she answered, the blush getting brighter as another drone flew in with her refill.

***
End of Episode

Author's Note:

One of the many things I enjoy about the Flashpoint like universe I'm slowly writing is it's many many branching moments. The great "What If.." and TrenderJack is just one of many of these issues.

If you're interested in more of the backstory, stay tuned and don't forget we have a wikipedia for our growing universe! :)

Not to mention a discord! Come hang out and chat about MLP, EG, and all elements!

See ya next time!