• Published 24th Mar 2013
  • 12,556 Views, 400 Comments

A Hairy Problem - BlueBastard

Strange things are happening with Applejack after a mysterious wolf-like creature attacks her when she looks into the aftermath of another CMC incident.

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Ch.10: Protein and Perfume

Chapter 10: Protein and Perfume

If there was anything Applejack stood to have gained from revealing she was a werewolf to the two ponies in front of her, it was that she could slightly breathe easier about the whole thing. Sure, it was only letting in two ponies in on the secret, and neither of them were among her five closest friends, but it was a start.

“Th-this isn’t a joke, is it?” Lyra asked shakily, her perceptions of reality shattered after watching something out of her foalhood nightmares emerge from where Applejack had been standing just moments before. “Y-you’re actually a…a…”

“Werewolf? Ah’m pretty sure that’s what Ah am. What else could Ah be, a giant fat were-rabbit or somethin’?” replied Applejack with a toothy grin at her own joke to try and lighten the mood. Unfortunately, she’d forgotten her teeth became significantly scarier looking while in wolf form, so the attempt at humor was lost in the normal ponies just getting freaked out again.

While Lyra’s reaction to the teeth made her lose her voice, Sandalwood managed to find the ability to talk: “Is…is that whole transformation thing like, controllable, or something?”

“Ah think, usually Ah try and hold off on this until nighttime when Ah can let this side of me out without anypony knowin’. Ya’ll are the first ponies I’ve done that in front of, namely ‘cause Ah doubt ya’ll would’ve believed me if Ah’d told it straight up.”

“Okay, that’s…good, I guess. Erm, do you mind turning back to the pony you usually are? To be honest I’m trying really hard not to scream because it looks like a wolf is going to kill us.”

“What are ya…oh, right, sorry,” apologized the werewolf, immediately retracting her form back to that of the farm mare. While still extremely freaky and unnatural looking to Sandalwood and Lyra, the reverse wasn’t as horrifying as the first and the end result was much easier on the natural instincts.

But the truth was there, and both Lyra and Sandalwood glanced at each other nervously. They were now sworn into keeping a secret that, despite what could be presumed to be Applejack’s best intentions to keep herself on a collar, could end up destroying the town if not all of Equestria with a werewolf epidemic. But because they’d Pinkie Promised, they had no choice but to help Applejack keep her lycanthropy a secret from the entire town.

It was then Applejack’s stomach growled loudly, causing her to sit down on the floor out of hunger. Lyra then spoke, out of sheer curiosity: “So, um, as a werewolf, do you still eat like a pony or are the stories true in that you can only-“

“Ah’m not gonna eat ya, if that’s what you’re askin’!” Applejack snapped, her grouchiness due to the one issue she was having which wasn’t related to being a werewolf. “For yer information, Ah can still eat like a regular pony, but recently this whole werewolf thing has expanded mah tastes to include…” she trailed off at the end, unsure of how to word it.

Sandalwood, however, figured it out immediately; “The incident at The Meatery…you were drawn there because you were developing a taste for meat, but didn’t know it until too late, right?”

Applejack nodded sadly, “Ah guess, the whole thing is kinda fuzzy in mah head, all Ah can remember is that burger. Normally Ah don’t go anywhere near that kind of stuff, but just thinkin’ about that burger and how delicious Ah thought it was…let’s just say mah current hunger situation isn’t bein’ helped.”

To both Sandalwood and AJ’s surprise, Lyra seemed to perk up at what was being implied when she asked “You probably haven’t been able to have meat recently and could really go for some right now, couldn’t you?”

“Please don’t tease me about this, Ah haven’t had meat in a long while and it feels like Ah’m starving mahself to death despite trying to eat like Ah regularly used to an’ all…”

“I’m not teasing, Applejack, I just wanted to know. You two give me a moment; I might have something that could help you out.” Lyra then exited the converted shed to fetch whatever it was she was talking about

“Wait, Lyra eats meat?” asked Applejack to Sandalwood, worried that this human obsession of Lyra’s might have gone too far.

“Beats me, though if she does it would be a good thing to know since now I’m probably moving in with her soon,” answered Sandalwood, now concerned about her future housing plans.

At an impromptu meeting of friends at Golden Oaks, Twilight Sparkle was of the opinion Fluttershy had either gone insane or accidentally eaten hallucinogenic mushrooms. “Fluttershy, Applejack can’t have been emitting dog pheromones, it’s biologically impossible!”

Standing her ground, mostly out of concern for Applejack possibly undergoing a crisis of species association (to which she was far more accurate than she could have known at the time), Fluttershy was insistent on her points: “I never said Applejack was giving off those kinds of things, but whatever is going on with her somehow made the dogs think she was. Only problem is that I don’t know what else could have caused every dog in town to give chase unless they thought she was in he-“

“Oh, for Celestia’s sake Fluttershy!” said Rarity, cutting Fluttershy off, “Even though we don’t know what’s going on with Applejack, we shouldn’t be implying she’s lost control of her body such that it is somehow resorting to mating habits from before the creation of Equestria and is sending out signals to dogs to come around and, um, ‘get to know’ her hindquarters.”

Pinkie Pie, as usual, appeared to have no grasp about what anything was being discussed beyond simply “Applejack was chased by a horde of hounds through town,” instead throwing out her own wild theories such as; “Ooh! Ooh! Maybe the dogs just wanted to imitate Applejack by trying to herd her around town?”

Twilight, well accustomed to Pinkie’s antics, didn’t even bother looking at the hopping pony as she responded with a flat, “Not likely. Applejack is well-experienced with herding and would have tried to lure the dogs out of town for such an event, anyway.”

“And she certainly didn’t seem to know what was going on!” interjected Rainbow. “I know that all I saw was Applejack running as fast as she could and away from the giant mass of dog going after her at roughly the same speed, if not a little faster. When Fluttershy and I came back, only the dogs were there and a large, scattered mess of various kinds of plants.”

“From the way the dogs were acting, it was like the plants were intentionally dumped there to cover some kind of smell. They were rubbing their noses like they couldn’t use them at all,” Fluttershy added.

Twilight groaned. “This is getting us nowhere. We probably should figure out what happened to Applejack and get the answer from her, though I have a sneaking suspicion she’s been trying to hide something from us.”

“How can you imply such a thing, Twilight?!” cried Rarity, overdramatic as usual. “You know how bad she is at lying - her status as the Element of Honesty notwithstanding - but what on Earth could she be trying to hide from us now? It’s certainly not as bad as the time she just up and took a job at a cherry sorting factory because she couldn’t come home without the money she promised the mayor.”

“Do you have any other explanations for Applejack’s strange behavior now being topped off by every dog in town getting the hots for her?”

“Well, um…no, not really.”

“Thought so,” Twilight said with a grin, although the self-appreciative humor she had did little to reduce the fears of what truly could be cause for her friend’s strange incidents.

“What is that?!” asked a very disgusted Sandalwood. Lyra had returned, levitating what looked like a brown disc of…something… and encased inside a bun. Two such discs, actually. There was also a very healthy amount of cheese, lettuce, tomato, and reddish-brown strips inside the strange sandwich. Evidence of a very small bite having been taken of the assumed food-type thing was also visible.

“This, Sandalwood, is a double bacon cheeseburger. I got it from The Meatery some time ago, delivered and all ‘cause I didn’t want to go all the way out there. From my research, humans apparently love these things but I couldn’t even stomach one bite of it, so it’s been chilling in the freezer. Bon-Bon’s been wanting me to get rid of it, but I figure it’s still good to eat once I warm it up with a heating spell.”

Sandalwood could feel her lunch trying to come up when she moaned, “That has got to be the most gut-wrenching thing I’ve -*HURK* ever seen! Just looking at it is mak-*URK*-ing me want to…oh Celestia give me a moment!”, quickly dashing off to find a restroom to relieve her innards.

Applejack, in contrast, stared at the burger as if hypnotized by it, drool coming out of her mouth. “Is…Is that fer me?”

Lyra nodded as she lit the meaty masterpiece up with her magic, warming it up, before putting it back on the plate. “I think you better eat it before poor Sandy gets back, or else she might end up tossing yesterday’s lunch as well.”

Within seconds Applejack was greedily chowing down on the double bacon cheeseburger. She was trying to be polite about it and not gorge herself like a pig in a trough, but here the fight against werewolf instincts was not in her favor and she wolfed it down, noisily and more than a bit disturbingly. Lyra had to look away. She knew Applejack wasn’t purposefully being this…animalistic…in eating but it was still unnerving.

“Oh, that was soooo good,” said the now sated werewolf, smacking her lips until she remembered where she was, “Uh, sorry…”

Just happy both Applejack’s immediate meat problem and disposing of what Bon-Bon called “the thing living in the freezer”, Lyra just gave the embarrassed earth pony a small smile “No biggie, I’m sure this werewolf thing is actually harder than you make it look. Now if I was a werewolf? I’d probably still be freaking out.”

“Has that disgusting thing been removed yet?” called out Sandalwood from behind the door leading into the adjoining flat.

“Yes, the offending foodstuffs has been consumed, it is safe to enter!” answered Lyra, prompting her future housemate candidate to re-enter the garage.

“Lyra, I’m not moving in here if there are more of those, just so you know!”

“Don’t worry, I’m sticking with tofu burgers. I’m not sure that if I was even human I could handle a diet of meat. Although if you think about it, we as an equine species should be able to eat meat, being that we’re technically omnivores and if the meat was sufficiently ground up enough that-”

“I’m not sure how you even managed to take a bite out of that thing! No way am I making something that vomit-inducing take a spot on my favorite foods list! Seriously, you’d have to be some kind of barbaric, savage monster to even like consuming-“

“Excuse me?!” interrupted the insulted werewolf.

Sandalwood then remembered why they all were in the garage in the first place and promptly apologized for indirectly calling Applejack a barbaric, savage monster for reasons beyond the orange mare’s control. Applejack easily forgave, but the truth was in Sandalwood’s words.

“Ah know you didn’t mean it, but ya’ll obviously know what werewolves are like, an’ that’s exactly what Ah’m trying to avoid. Originally Ah thought Ah’d gotten these new, weird habits of mine under control once Ah knew the truth, but as that scene out in town proved Ah possibly am just tryin’ to be normal fer a lost cause or somethin’.”

“What? That’s horseshit and you know it, of all ponies!” declared Sandalwood. “I may still be new to Ponyville, but I know enough about the exploits of you and those five friends of yours to safely say any idea about you not beating this is well and truly wrong! You’re known for being the toughest and the most dependable of the group everypony in Equestria has nicknamed the “Mane Six,” giving up has never been an option for you, so why now?”

“Ya don’t understand, this whole werewolf thing can’t be cu-“

“Yeah, yeah, the whole ‘incurable curse’ or something like that. Read the book, watched the crappy movie, been there and done that. But don’t think of it as some kind of disease. Sure, it will bring about a lot of complications, I don’t even know how you’ll work out getting enough meat to satisfy those carnivorous tendencies, but you can keep this under control. Consider it a disability, of sorts, except I’m sure there are some benefits that go along with the downsides unlike most disabilities like a missing leg or being deaf. But the point is; you’re an Apple, and after everything I’ve heard your side of the family has had to go through a lot, yet you always end up recovering. How is this any different besides being a slightly taller hurdle for you to jump over?”

Applejack had to admit, Sandalwood had a point. Being a werewolf was going to be harder than she’d initially thought that night at Castle Everfree, but it could be manageable. At the very least Applejack had her sense of identity, unlike that one time Discord reversed it so she always lied. Only thing worse than that would be her cutie mark getting switched so she was doing something requiring talents she didn’t have, like making dresses or understanding high fashion.

“Yer right, Ah guess. But Ah don’t know if Ah can keep this a secret for long, Ah’ve already had to tell you two, how much longer until somepony else finds out and alerts the town? Ah can’t even walk around town right now, ‘cause apparently every dog in town either hates mah guts or wants to marry me!”

“Oh, I think I can help you with that. We just need to get to the spa without attracting attention, good thing it’s close by,” Sandalwood answered, a sly smile growing on her face.

“What’s that supposed to mean, exactly?” inquired a now worried Applejack. Her worry only increased when a similar smile appeared on Lyra’s face as the mint colored unicorn made it clear what was about to happen;

“Don’t worry, Applejack, I’m pretty sure you just got yourself a free aromatherapy session.”

Words could not describe how low Applejack’s heart sank. This was not going to end well for her one way or another.

Two hours later, the rest of the “Mane Six” had split up and were looking for their lost friend. So far no progress had been made, which was somewhat concerning, but regardless they pressed on.

Rarity, naturally, decided two hours of trotting around town was enough reason to go get a quick hooficure at the spa. While she was there, she could ask Lotus or Aloe if they’d seen Applejack anywhere. She would have also asked Sandalwood but today was her day off, which was a bit of a disappointment as she and Applejack seemed to be getting along quite well and the aromatherapist would have been the most likely of the spa ponies to know the location of the apple farmer.

Hmm, now there’s an idea, getting Applejack to try out one of these aromatherapy sessions, thought Rarity, Sandalwood knows how to make the whole thing simply divine and I bet after all Applejack’s been though she could use one.

So imagine her surprise as none other than Applejack was walking out of the spa, looking around as if she didn’t want to be followed, and then putting on the most fake smile possible when she realized Rarity was coming towards her.

“Applejack, there you are! You’ve had everpony worried sick after that whole thing with the dog chasing!”

“Ah, uh, did Ah now? Well, er, didn’t mean to cause a fuss.”

“Of course you didn’t, darling. But now that I’ve found you we need to…” Rarity then sniffed the air, “Are you wearing Chattelle No. 50? When did you of all ponies start wearing top-tier perfumes?”

Applejack blanched. Of all the ponies who could have found her it had to be the one who knew the most about perfumes. Fancy ones at that. While the work mare usually didn’t mind perfumes, she had a special distaste for Chattelle No. 50 because it had been her mother’s favorite, and after the tragedy that claimed the apple parents the heartbroken filly couldn’t bear being anywhere near that specific perfume because of the memories it brought up. As an adult mare Applejack found the memories weren’t as bad, but Chattelle No. 50 was the one Sandalwood insisted would help cover up the smell of whatever it was Applejack’s body was doing to attract dogs.

“Sandalwood suggested Ah should try wearin’ some, ‘cause, er…”

"Oh, you don’t need to tell me, Applejack, I can already tell why. So...who's the stallion you got your eye on? Don't worry at all, darling, I'll be sure to be discreet."

In addition to the personal problems Applejack had with “Number 50,” the perfume carried one other social trait that was born simply out of how upper-class it was treated. When not worn by a married mare, the presence of the perfume implied the wearer wanted to make a very good impression on somepony they were interested in. This was an issue for Applejack, simply because there was nopony she was interested in at the moment.

"Well, uh, Ah’m not wearin’ it for that reason, actually…”

"Oh, really, Applejack, dear, but you can't fool me. So, perhaps, it's a mare you have your eye on, hmmm?"

"Oh for pete's sake, what is it with ya'll thinkin' Ah'm interested in females?!"

It was at that time Sandalwood exited the spa to try and lend some support to the mare who truly was doing a bad job at covering things up. “Oh, hey, Rarity! What are you doing here?”

“Hello, Sandalwood. Applejack here apparently caused some kind of a ruckus in town involving the entire dog population, so the others and I were going around looking for her, and now she tells me that you suggested she wear Chattelle No. 50 but won’t explain why. Maybe you would be willing to help me understand this, strange change in her concern for outwardly impressions, hmm?”

Applejack glanced over at Sandalwood, the pleading for help clear in her eyes, while that big fake grin remained plastered to her face. Mentally,Sandalwood facehoofed, she hadn’t wanted to do this but it was either that or break a Pinkie Promise. And Lyra said breaking Pinkie Promises was just one rank above “die horribly” on the “things not to do EVER list.”

“Actually, she’s not wearing it for that kind of thing. It’s…actually because of a mistake I made.”

“A mistake?” asked Rarity, shocked at this sudden admittance of guilt for something, “But darling, your skills with perfumes and scents is unmatched! Whatever are you talking about, ‘making a mistake’ with those amazing talents of yours?”

“I asked Applejack here to come help me with an experimental new concoction that I could add to my inventory. However, while my cutie mark says I’m good with using scents and other aromatherapy materials, it doesn’t mean I’m a good alchemist. That whole business with the dogs? They thought they smelled natural dog hormones, the kind that signal when a female dog is in heat, but really it was my attempt at mixing chemicals and testing it on Applejack here that cause the whole mess.”

Applejack made a mental note to send some free apple pies Sandalwood’s way. It was clear how much pride the pony had in her very unique talents with aromatherapy, so to take a minor fall for something she didn’t do was really sticking her neck out here.

“Really? I didn’t even know that kind of thing could be done. As for you, Applejack, apparently you’re due for some good luck after all of these mishaps and such, no?”

Applejack’s grin turned from fake to real at that comment; “Ah reckon Ah do, all this crazy nonsense is makin’ me think Ah stepped in some of that Poison Joke again and this is all a result of that.” In reality, Applejack knew perfectly well she hadn’t stepped in any Poison Joke, she’d learned to avoid those patches of humiliation during her midnight werewolf runs in the Everfree.

“Well, since you’re all spruced up thanks to Sandalwood, let’s go find the others and let them know you’re okay.” With a nod from Applejack and bidding Sandalwood a good day, Rarity turned and trotted off.

Applejack was about to leave, but Sandalwood stopped her. “Look, Applejack, I’m willing to try and help you keep this werewolf thing a secret, and I’m sure Lyra doesn’t have much of a choice but to help as well, but I think I can speak for the both of us in that we’d prefer to not get involved as much as possible. Just…just hang in there, I’m sure things will improve from here.”

“Thanks, Sandalwood, that means a lot.” Applejack then hurried to catch up with her fashionista friend. As Sandalwood watched the two walk off towards town, she couldn’t help but wonder just how deep a rabbit hole she’d inadvertently gotten herself and Lyra sucked into by agreeing to help hide a werewolf in plain sight of everypony.