• Published 13th Dec 2011
  • 6,912 Views, 539 Comments

Far From the Tree - Rust



A mysterious pony turned to stone 1000 years ago is revived by the denizens of Ponyville.

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Second Chances

Note: I do not own My Little Pony.
No comment. Surprised?

CHAPTER TEN


SECOND CHANCES

Roughly two weeks after the Hearth's Warming party, life at Sweet Apple Acres had drifted back into the backbreaking routine common on most Equestrian farms. The Apples would usually rise with the sun to complete the morning chores, while either Big Macintosh or Applejack stayed indoors to get a hearty breakfast going. By the time the chores were done, there were usually a piping hot stack of cinnamon flapjacks waiting as a well deserved reward. The Apple family's newest addition had already established himself to have the appetite so common with his kin, and sometimes out-ate Big Macintosh himself, a commendable feat. After breakfast, Apple Bloom went off to school, escorted by one of her elders. This usually meant that for a while there was only one pony out in the fields, but Buckshot's recent addition to the roster tended to speed things up. The stallion often worked so hard that Applejack often found herself with nothing to do at this time, something the orange farm-pony hadn't experienced since she was a filly.

Today, Big Macintosh was taking Apple Bloom to school, so she found herself alone on the farm with Buckshot and Granny Smith. Once again, the morning chores had been finished, and Buck was nearly done with the work that needed to be done before lunch. Applejack couldn't help but be amazed by the the stallion's strength and speed. Jobs that had taken her an hour tended to take him less than half that time. She was concerned for him, however. Lately, he'd been pushing himself harder and harder in the fields, plowing, clearing the snow, and hauling carts of goods as if his life depended on it. Applejack resolved to confront him about it. She could tell when something was bothering a pony, and, as usual, her instincts served her right. She found him out behind the barn, strapped to a train of no less than five wagons packed full of apples, his head lowered as he plodded his way to the silo to store the apples for the winter.

She wedged a hoof in front of one of the wheels, halting the motion of the train like a stick being shoved into the spokes of a bicycle. "Uncle Buck, Ah think we need t' have a little talk, ya hear?"

Her uncle looked up from the ground suddenly, as if he'd been caught daydreaming in class. "What's goin' on, Applejack?"

Applejack walked up to him and looked him in the eye, her emerald green gaze boring into his calm face. "Ah'm noticin' that ya'll've been workin' like a madpony. Ya just plowed the back field in record time, and now Ah find ya out here, cartin' five wagons of apples to the silo."

His expression didn't change. "And?"

Applejack chuckled a little. "Big Mac can barely do two at once. You've more than doubled that."

Buck looked at her strangely. "Then... you want me ta slow it down a mite, then?"

"Not exactly. See, Ah've noticed that ya only work like this when somethin's got yer tail."

"So?"

"So, Ah think somethin's botherin' ya, and Ah also think that aren't movin' another hoof 'till Ah know what it is." Her words were final. Applejack's word was law on this farm.

Sadly, Buck followed his own laws. With a small grunt, he got the train moving again and mumbled something, avoiding her eyes with a lowered head. Applejack refused to give up. She placed herself directly in front of him, forcing him to stop once again or risk running over her.

"Look, AJ, I just don't wanna talk about it, savvy?" he said with a sigh.

"No, Ah do not. Spill it, buster."

He said nothing for a while, simply standing there, a pained expression on his face. Applejack thought he looked like he was deciding whether to jump off a bridge, or stick his neck onto the railroad tracks. Finally, a large puff of steam came from his nose. "I don't feel like I belong here." he said slowly.

Applejack had no idea what that meant. "Whaddaya mean by here, exactly?"

Buck gestured in a wide circle. "The farm. Sweet Apple Acres. I don't feel like this is my home."

"Yer actual home was here a long time ago, so I can imagine why ya'd think that."

He snorted. "Not like that. I've got a family here, too, so I don't feel alone. It's different," he searched for the words to accurately convey himself. "...it's like this isn't what I should be doing."

"Like, ya shouldn't be workin' on the farm?"

He winced, as if he'd been hit with a sharp pebble in the eye. "Aye. That's it."

Applejack was suprised by this. Every Apple since, well, him, had always spent their life working the land. Her uncle looked right and left, like he was checking to see if anypony was around, before leaning in close to her. "Can I tell you somethin'? It might be a bit of a shocker, though," he said quietly.

"Uhh... sure?"

"I've never liked farming. Not one bit. It's so bloody tedious, you know? I only really started this place up because it was the only thing I'd known. My father was a farmer, and he taught everything he knew to me. I passed that on, and, well, what do you know, here we are!"

Applejack was almost speechless. "But, yer an Apple! Yer the Apple! How could ya not like what ya do? Ya'll got an apple cutie mark, fer Celestia's sake!"

"That doesn't mean I'm into apples. I got my mark for protecting my family with the strength of my two back hooves." He shook each leg as he mentioned them.

Applejack started pacing. "So... If ya don't wanna be here, why didn't ya just say so?"

Buckshot's face turned downcast, guilt in his eyes. "Look at all I've been able to do around here. Two weeks, and yer almost a month and a half ahead of schedule. I might not like doing this, but I'm far too good at it to just stop helpin' my family."

At this, Applejack's pride flared up. "We wuz gettin' along just fine 'afore ya showed up! Ya never had t' do this much fer us in the first place!" she spat angrily.

Her uncle's ears fell flat against his head. "What else am I supposed to do? I can't just sit around all day while my family works."

Applejack calmed herself down. She had had no idea that this was what was going on inside his head. She decided on a different approach to the dilemma. "Well... what have ya always wanted t' do?"

Buck looked like he was going to say something, then paused. "Nopony's ever really asked me that before. I honestly don't know how ta answer that'un." He scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Never had a chance ta find out, either. I've been a farmer and a knight, but I can't say I liked either o' those things very well. I don't like fighting. Only do it iffin' its necessary."

Applejack unhooked him from the cart. He didn't try to stop her. She signaled him to follow her, which he did, his long strides easily setting the pace. "Ah think ya should git the chance t' find out, sugarcube. Everypony deserves t' find something that they love t' do. There's probably somethin' fer you t' do in town, if ya'll would check and see." They passed around the front of the house and began walking through the barren orchard in the direction of Ponyville. "Tell ya what," Applejack continued. "Why don't ya stay in town fer a while? Until you find yer callin' and whatnot."

Buckshot shot her a worried glance. "What about the farm?"

She chuckled at this. "Ya'll said it yerself, we're already a month and a half ahead of schedule. Ah think we'll be fine at the Acres fer a while."

He digested this information slowly. Applejack swore she could hear the gears turning in that great big head of his. Here was a chance for him to finally discover his true calling. He could be anything he wanted.

Finally, he spoke up. "Fine. But only for a month. I've got enough bits to buy half the houses in town, finding a place to kip for the night won't be too much of a problem. But if I can't find something in that time, I'll be staying here at the farm," he paused for emphasis. "For good."

Applejack gave him a hug. "Now git goin'." She swatted him affectionately with her tail. Buck laughed and continued onward down the path out of the orchard. Applejack stayed where she was to watch him go, until he was a dark speck cresting the final hill out of the farm in the distance.

She noticed, somewhat bittersweetly, that never once did he look back.

Author: Righto, short chapter, but necessary to set up the rest of the story. Anyway, I think I'll be introducing a central antagonist once I find a way to fit one into the plot. Like the yin to Buck's yang. The plot, by the way, I make up as I go, and usually my mind works faster than I can type. Hence, weird shit is in store for the future.