• Published 31st Oct 2012
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Big Brother - ObabScribbler



Big Macintosh finds Applejack and Rainbow Dash in a compromising way. Should he keep their secret?

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Big Brother

Disclaimer: Laconically not mine.

A/N: I started this back in February when I mainlined the entire FiM canon up to that point. Then real life got in the way and I didn’t finish it until holidaying in Belgium brought a bout of creativity. This was actually my first FiM fic, so please be gentle.

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Big Brother

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1. DAWN

….

Applejack was missing.

Big Macintosh stared at her empty bed. The covers had been neatly turned down. That would be Granny Smith’s doing. She turned down the covers every evening, as if she was convinced one night a tiny orange filly would scramble through the window, fall asleep and come down to breakfast like nothing had happened.

He wasn’t stupid. It had taken twice as long for him to learn multiplication in school and he needed to sound out long words in books – didn’t really like reading at all unless he was alone and nobody could see his lips moving – but he wasn’t stupid. Convincing the rest of the world there was a difference between ‘slow’ and ‘stupid’, however, was an on-going struggle.

Applejack had never treated him like he was stupid. She was so much younger, she listened, enrapt, as he explain working the farm to her and thought he was the smartest pony in the world. She wasn’t old enough to use language he couldn’t understand when he read her note. He pictured it, full of tooth marks and spit-stains from being constantly pulled from under the china angel on the mantelpiece where she had left it. They all knew it by heart. It didn’t make coping any easier.

Treading as delicately as he could – which wasn’t very, but Granny was practically deaf so it didn’t matter – Big Macintosh crossed the room and nudged Applejack’s pillow to fluff it. It was his own private ritual. Granny turned down covers; he fluffed pillows. They both set out an extra place at mealtimes, and then refused to look at the unused plate.

He was the stallion of the family now Pa was gone. He was supposed to look out for his little sister, but he had obviously done something wrong if she had just up and left without saying a word. He wasn’t given much to introspection – couldn’t spell it if told to write it down – but that bothered him. Why had she been so unhappy? Was she really so dissatisfied with life at Sweet Apple Acres that she had to leave it – and them?

He sighed and went to the window. It was dawn; bright light cresting the horizon like paint on a dark canvas. He had barely slept. That wouldn’t do. He had work to finish today. Granny couldn’t manage the bucking anymore. She tried, but it was mostly his job since her arthritis really took hold. He had to get bigger and stronger, so he could take care of things the way the stallion of the family was supposed to.

He stayed at the window, thinking his private thoughts, until the sky exploded. That was how it seemed, at least. A wash of multi-coloured light detonated and shot outward over the farm. Birds of the dawn chorus abandoned their song to squawk and fly in all directions. Dozens of rabbits, squirrels and other small animals dashed about the orchard. A crashing noise followed seconds after the rainbow explosion, as if the universe was stamping its hooves.

“Wassat?” Granny burst through the door, bleary-eyed but alert. “Did the boiler explode again?”

Big Macintosh tossed his head at the quivering sky. The ring of coloured light was still travelling away into the distance like a gigantic ripple in the fabric of reality. His mouth hung open, but he couldn’t help himself. He had never seen anything like it before.

“What in tarnation?” Granny squinted at it. “The heck is that?”

Big Macintosh didn’t know. A strange feeling coalesced in his belly. He wouldn’t realise until later that it was excitement. That rainbow ring was a portent, or a sign, or something else significant for which he didn’t have words. He could feel it in his fetlocks.

“Granny,” he said slowly.

“What is it, youngin’?”

“Applejack.”

“Where?” She scanned the road. “Dang filly. Wild as a June bug on a string. I don’t see her.”

“Not yet.” He smiled, even though he couldn’t yet hear the clatter of tiny orange hooves. “Soon.”

“Y’think?”

“Yup.” He turned from the window. “Gonna wait for her at the gate.”

Granny watched him with narrowed eyes. “You’ll be wastin’ good buckin’ time.”

“Yup.”

“You must be sure if you’re willin’ to neglect buckin’.”

“Yup.”

A smiled creased her wrinkled face. “Good enough for me.”

….

2. MIDDAY

….

Big Macintosh stood at the crest of the hill and watched his sister and her friend darting between the trees. Midday sun dappled orange and blue coats as the two little ponies played. No matter how old she acted, or how much responsibility she tried to take on, Applejack was still a filly at heart. It would be a couple more years before she could reasonably be called a mare and he would have to start worrying about stallions courting her. In his humble opinion, she should act like a filly as much as she could while she could, but the only time she let her guard down seemed to be when that little blue pegasus came calling.

He was standing in plain view, but neither filly spotted him. They were too absorbed in chasing each other in some complicated game of tag mixed with hide n’ seek and rugby. The pegasus arrowed up between the branches. A swish of leaves was the only indication where she had gone. He watched Applejack canter into view, spot the leaves and pretend not to see them. She slowed to a trot, but when the pegasus tried to surprise her from above she was ready. Somehow slewed her body to one side and turned their madcap roll into her pinning the other pony.

“I win!” she crowed.

The pegasus spat out a mouthful of leaves. Her rainbow mane and tail were studded with twigs and bits of bark. “No way!”

“Yes way!”

Another roll and their positions were reversed. A single leaf was stuck to the pegasus’s flank. It looked a little like a cutie mark, but flaked away to reveal the actual mark beneath. Yup, on their way to becoming mares, but still fillies in all the ways that counted.

“No way!”

Applejack blew out a breath. “Goldarnit, you weigh a ton! No more apple pies for you.”

“What?” The pegasus was aghast. “No fair! I love apple pies.”

“I can tell. You’re breakin’ my ribs.”

“Aw, man.” The pegasus beat her wings and lifted her weight off, only for Applejack to launch herself and reverse their positions once more.

“I can’t believe you fell for that,” Applejack grinned.

“I let you win!”

“Sure you did. Oh look, there goes a flying pig.”

The pegasus blinked. “Now that’d be awesome.”

Applejack made a face. “You think everythin’ would be better with wings.”

“Well, it would.”

“Nu-uh.”

“Uh-huh! Imagine raccoons and rabbits and squirrels with wings. They’d be so much cooler than they are now!”

“It’d be gosh-darn awful! They’d reach all the apples before we could pick ‘em!”

“Nu-uh, because you’d have wings too, so you could chase them off. You wouldn’t have to learn to buck anymore, either. You could just take the apples right off the branches.”

“But I like buckin’. Why would I want wings?”

“Duh! Because everything would be more awesome with wings.”

“I’m awesome just the way I am.”

“Nu-uh!”

“I beat you today without wings, didn’t I?”

The pegasus pouted. “Totally not awesome.”

Big Macintosh allowed a small smile to turn up his mouth. Yup; it sure did do Applejack good to act like a filly sometimes. He turned away and hid behind some bushes before she could see him and demand a bucking lesson instead.

….

3. DUSK

….

There was a lot of satisfaction to be had in doing a simple job well. Apple-bucking was a balance of strength and accuracy, but not exactly academic. Neither was Big Macintosh. He had long ago reconciled himself to his shortcomings and no longer felt like he had to justify himself to the world. Either ponies accepted him the way he was or they didn’t and weren’t worth knowing anyhow.

This had definitely been a Valentine’s Day to remember. Or not. Usually bucking helped him order his thoughts, but today had left him in such a tizzy he was still reshelving a few things in his head.

He kicked out with one hind leg and a tumble of Red Delicious landed in each of the three baskets he had positioned. Taking a handle between his teeth, he dragged each to the cart and manoeuvred them up the ramp. When he was done he checked to make sure had hadn’t missed any and arranged himself in the harness to pull the entire load through the orchard for checking. Granny would take out the bad ones and save what she could, turning the others into mash for compost or one of those liniments she kept for when he or Applejack pulled a muscle.

He looked around him as he walked, wondering where the heck his sister was. She had been due to help him today, but in all the confusion with Cheerilee he had forgotten. Now, trying to cram all the work into his evening, he felt the slight stirring of resentment that Applejack had apparently used his absence to sneak away and do her own thing.

He frowned at the resentment until it skittered away back into its box. Applejack wasn’t that kind of pony. She wouldn’t skive work unless something important had come up – which, given some of the things she had gotten mixed up in since Twilight Sparkle came to town, could be just about anything. Had another dragon attacked? Was she helping rescue a friend from underground jewel-thieves? Could she have been whisked away to Canterlot on Princess Celestia’s orders? He was still impressed that a practical, down-home pony from their family was hobnobbing with the upper crust without picking up all sorts of silly airs and graces. Applejack was as level-headed today as she had ever been since the day she got her cutie mark and he was proud of her.

He dragged the cart into the barn and was unloading the baskets when he noticed the ladder from the hayloft on the floor. Usually it sat by the hayloft door, leading down to the floor, but it had fallen or been kicked over. He couldn’t park the cart after unloading with it there, so he hastily stashed the baskets where Granny could reach them in the morning and gripped the ladder between his teeth. It took two smaller ponies to manoeuvre the thing usually – Applejack and Applebloom typically worked together, since Granny could barely move her withers to pick up more than apples these days. It was no trouble for him, however. He gently placed it up and put it back where it should be.

As he turned away, the sound of movement made his ears twitch. It was coming from the hayloft. He turned back, thinking it may be a racoon or stray squirrel that had got in. Once, an entire family of grickles had nested up there and he had been forced to carry each squalling, scratching lizard-bird down individually in special unbreakable carriers Twilight had whipped up for him. He hoped it wasn’t more grickles, although that would account for why the ladder had been kicked down. Grickles were notoriously territorial when they chose a nesting spot.

He climbed the ladder quietly, not wanting a faceful of claws when he reached the top. He couldn’t smell anything bad, but that was indicator. Peering cautiously over the top rung, he froze.

Well, it sure wasn’t grickles.

Applejack slept curled in the hay, her tail over her nose. It was how to she used to sleep under her blankets as a filly when the boiler blew and the farmhouse got especially cold. Behind her, mouth open and a glob of drool ready to fall, Rainbow Dash also sprawled asleep in the hay. Neither had heard him approach. They were both clearly exhausted. What made him pause, however, wasn’t the fact that his sister was napping up here while he was busy working in the orchards. It was the casually possessive hoof Rainbow Dash had thrown over her flank and the fact that she was wearing Applejack’s hat. Applejack never let anyone wear her hat. She had been protective of it ever since Pa gave it to her on one of his rare visits home. Not even he or Applebloom were allowed to touch it, but there Rainbow Dash was, bold as brass, wearing it askew like it was her own.

Big Macintosh stayed where he was for a long moment. He considered ducking out of sight and coughing to give them a chance to reorder themselves, so they could all pretend things were as they had always been. As he was thinking this, however, Applejack shifted in her sleep, nuzzling backwards into the curve of Rainbow Dash’s body. Her tail fell aside to reveal she was smiling in utter contentment.

Big Macintosh descended the ladder with a soundlessness anyone would have been surprised at, given his soup-plate hooves and massive body. He passed through the barn doors but stopped, looking back over his shoulder. Going back to the ladder, he took it between his teeth and brought it down, using his knees to cushion the sound of it meeting the floor. It lay where it had been before he came in, giving no clue that he had moved it.

“What’s got you smilin’ like a fox with the key to the henhouse door?” Granny asked when he came into the kitchen. “You find a sweetheart today?”

He thought about the question, and about Cheerilee. “Sorta.”

“Sorta? What kinda sweetheart is a ‘sorta’ sweetheart?”

“Complicated.”

Granny sighed. “You young folk. Never make nuthin’ simple. You’re gettin' long in the tooth to keep puttin’ off settlin’ down, Macintosh.”

He shrugged. “Probably.”

“You need to find somepony special, get coupled and be happy. You an’ Applejack both. She shouldn’t get to your age an’ have nopony special to call her own too.”

He thought about the hayloft and smiled. “Not a problem, Granny.”

“You’re smilin’ again.” She glared at him. “You gonna tell me why?”

“Nope.”

“Dagnabbit. Nopony tells me nuthin’ no more. It’s because I’m old, ain’t it? Y’all think I’m too old an’ old-fashioned to know what’s goin’ on in your lives. I was young too once, y’know.” She continued to grumble as she sliced apples to go in the pie crust sitting on the counter.

Big Macintosh looked out of the window at the barn and just smiled.

….

Fin.

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