NoSpoon

Letting Go (Applejack) by NoSpoon -- ONE SHOT

Dec 12th, 2015
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  1. >It's been a few months since the great Equestrian disaster.
  2. >You take out a cigarette and open the window.
  3. >You remember it as it unfolded on the TV that day.
  4. >A giant rift appeared in the sky and thousands upon thousands of rainbow coloured ponies fell from the sky.
  5. >Outside your window you spot one of the ponies trot by, though they were on a leash.
  6. >Well, they called themselves ponies despite being smaller, sentient beings that could use also magic.
  7. >Not to mention the various types of ponies.
  8. >The one that just went by looked like a regular earth pony.
  9. >There were unicorns, pegasi, and there was even a rare type that had both wings and a horn.
  10. >Or so the news reports said.
  11. >Anyway, we all thought it was a massive invasion, the beginning of WW3, but that wasn't the case.
  12. >You stub out your cigarette and light another one.
  13. >At first, there were the hunters, people who hunted them for trophies.
  14. >Then there were the underground auctions.
  15. >All those were put to a stop, at least by the local police.
  16. >You look over at the football stadium in the distance.
  17. >They'd set up massive refugee camps wherever they can for them until the governments could figure out what to do with them.
  18. >One of the ideas was a temporary foster home program paid by the government.
  19. >And that's what kept you waiting.
  20. >You look over at the calendar hanging on the wall.
  21. >Yep, today's the day when you get a pony.
  22. >Sounds like a nice present, but it really wasn't.
  23. >It was more of a babysitting job with a meagre monthly pay.
  24. >Well, this was your parents idea.
  25. >They were working abroad, and here you are sitting on your arse with a liberal arts degree.
  26. >The next best thing to getting a job was this.
  27. >You hear a van turning down the road into view.
  28. >It's a black van with tinted and wired windows.
  29. >This couldn't be...
  30. >It stops outside your house.
  31. >A man and a woman both wearing black suits step out of the van.
  32. >The woman is the first to spot you and flashes you a smile.
  33.  
  34. >Time to meet the new resident of the house.
  35. >Opening up the front door you are greeted by a wall of muscle.
  36. "Er, hey there."
  37. >Jeez this guy was huge, even for you.
  38. >A voice out comes from behind, "Stand down agent Anderson. Please wait by the van."
  39. >The woman in the black suit steps out from behind the guy and greets you.
  40. >"Hello, you must be Anonymous? I'm agent Smith."
  41. >She smiles and flashes you her government issued id card.
  42. >She's kinda cute.
  43. >"I believe you are expecting another resident today?"
  44. "Well, yeah."
  45. >"Can I please come in? We have a couple things to go over."
  46. "Alright, is the big guy coming in?"
  47. >She smiles. "You can ask him, but I wouldn't bother."
  48. >You lead her to the living room.
  49. >"Could you be a darling and make some coffee?"
  50. >And you've just sat down.
  51. >She flashes her infectious smile again.
  52. "Alright." You grumble.
  53. >When you come back with two cups of coffee, you find agent Smith sitting with her legs crossed in front of a large binder.
  54. >"Thank you Anon, you don't mind me calling you that?"
  55. >You shrug.
  56. >"Today's been pretty busy for us, we've only just started this week and progress has been slow." She sips her coffee. "Mmm, now, excuse me, this is a damn fine cup of coffee."
  57. >You sip yours.
  58. >It's just regular coffee.
  59. >"Mmm, now that hits the spot, better than what we get back in the office."
  60. "Agent Smith? Can you tell me what's going on?"
  61. >"Oh you can call me Miss Smith, I'm still young at heart you know?"
  62. "Uhuh... Miss Smith, so when do I get to see the pony?"
  63. >She places her cup down and stares at you.
  64. >"Anon, what do you know of these ponies?"
  65. "Well, everything that they've said on the news, they're colourful, sentient, that they coincidentally speak our language and that they can use magic?"
  66. >"Very good, though there are a few other things that they weren't allowed to say, though it'll only be a matter of time."
  67. "What's that?"
  68. >"Well... you'll find out yourself." She smiles.
  69.  
  70. >"I just need you to read through this documentation and sign it, though you can really help us out by signing it in the first place."
  71. >That's... odd.
  72. >You think that an government official wouldn't be this, nonchalant about all this?
  73. >"Here you go Anon, sign right here on the dotted line. I'll summarise what the general guidelines are." She comes beside you and pushes a pen into your hands.
  74. >Hey her hands are pretty soft and she was leaning into your side.
  75. >She's too close.
  76. >And before you know it, you've scribbled something onto the lines.
  77. >Dammit, something's going to sting you later for all this.
  78. >Smith smiles and release her grasp of you.
  79. >"Right so you'll be looking after a citizen of Equestria, though they're yet to be formally recognised there's a draft going through the collective powers as we speak. They are to stay and live with you until the governments decide on how to handle the crisis."
  80. >You nod.
  81. >"You will provide them a place for them to sleep, keep them fed and most importantly, keep them safe. In turn, you may have them do whatever they can to help out."
  82. >"Next thing is, and this is important too, you'll need to accompany them if they are to go outside for whatever reason. You'll find enclosed in this envelope a leash."
  83. >She hands you a padded envelope.
  84. >"For now, it's mandatory that they wear this when they're outside."
  85. >"Failure to do so will mean that they will be arrested on the spot and sent back to their camp. Likewise, you as their guardian will be penalised by having your monthly pay suspended."
  86. >"If you're having any difficulties with the pony, you can give them paracetamol. It's extremely effective as a sedative. If you really can't handle the pony, you can report back to me."
  87. >She looks outside the window.
  88. >"Let me be frank, I highly recommend that you don't do drug or report the pony."
  89. "Why is that?"
  90. >"Do you recall the news reports about the underground pony slave auctions?"
  91. "Yeah? But what's that got to do with this?"
  92. >"I'll... let you think that one through. I think you're a good kid, so don't let me down."
  93. >What, were people abusing these ponies?
  94. >They didn't mention that in the news.
  95. >Smith takes out her phone.
  96. >"Oh, and it goes without saying that bestiality laws are still in effect."
  97. >You spit out your coffee.
  98. >"Smooth, though I had to say it. Sure enough these are sentient ponies, but it's still too early. And speaking of which, welcome there."
  99. >She turns to face the hallway.
  100. >You turn around and see agent Anderson blocking the hallway.
  101. "Er, hey."
  102. >He steps aside to reveal a small, orange pony holding a cowboy hat to her chest.
  103. >"Erm, howdy, sir."
  104. >Smith smiles and stands up.
  105. >"Anon, I'd like you to meet your new member of residence, Applejack."
  106. "Oh hello."
  107. >She turns to the orange pony.
  108. >"Applejack, welcome to your new home."
  109. >Applejack nods.
  110. >"Alright then, that's the formalities over and done with. We need to get going to our next appointment."
  111. >Smith walks right up to you and places a hand on your shoulder.
  112. >"Anon, take care of her and be sure to read through that documentation. I'll pop in sometime next week for some coffee and to check up on how our little pony is doing."
  113. >And with that, Smith turns and waves her hand in the hair.
  114. >Anderson glares at you before leaving.
  115. >Odd guy.
  116. >You walk up to the window and watch the black van speed away.
  117. >The room has gotten silent.
  118. "Alright then, Applejack was it?"
  119. >You turn and see the strange pony still hiding behind her hat.
  120. >She's, afraid of you?
  121. "Did you bring anything with you?"
  122. >"Does it look like ah got anything? Ah ain't got nothing with me."
  123. "Oh, alright then."
  124. >Stupid question, of course she wouldn't have anything with her.
  125. "Well are you hungry? I could fix something up for you to eat?"
  126. >"Ah'd like to go to ma room if ya don't mind, sir."
  127. "Okay then, follow me."
  128. >As you walk towards her, she moves away from you.
  129. >You stop.
  130. "Why'd you move away from me?"
  131.  
  132. >"Ah heard what ya humans are like and what yall do to us. Ah'd like to keep mah distance, if ya don't mind, sir."
  133. >You don't want it to be like this.
  134. "C'mon, follow me." You carry on.
  135. >After a couple of steps you hear her hoofsteps behind you.
  136. >She really was a pony.
  137. >You open up the door to the master bedroom.
  138. "This used to belong to my parents."
  139. >Applejack turns to face you.
  140. >Your eyes lock with each other.
  141. "Since they won't be coming back anytime soon, it's yours."
  142. >She grimaces and looks away from you.
  143. >You sit down on the bed and slap the duvet beside you.
  144. "It might be a bit too large for just you, but it's really comfortable and warm. Here give it a go."
  145. >Applejack just walks to the corner of the room and sits down.
  146. >"Ahm fine with the floor thanks."
  147. "Oh, okay. So..."
  148. >"Ah'd like to be left alone, if ya don't mind, sir."
  149. >There it is again, 'sir'.
  150. >She's staring at you.
  151. >Dammit she really wants you out of the room.
  152. >Well, what can you expect?
  153. >Better give her some space.
  154. >You walk past her.
  155. "You know you don't have to call me sir."
  156. >She doesn't reply.
  157. "Let me know when you're hungry."
  158. >You only hear the sound of the door closing behind you.
  159.  
  160. >For the rest of the day she never did come out.
  161. >There was no way you were going to read through all that documentation.
  162. >You thought about what she would eat.
  163. >You figured that ponies, like horses, wouldn't eat meat.
  164. >Makes sense right?
  165. >After some research online, you put together some salad and some fruit for her dinner.
  166. >Something you keep telling yourself you should have more of, but damn meat is too damn tasty.
  167. >Well you could've asked her what she ate.
  168. >If only she would talk to you.
  169. >With your tray of healthy greens you approach her room.
  170. >You knock on the door.
  171. "Hey, Applejack, you awake?"
  172. >Leaning against the door you can't hear anything.
  173. >Something feels wrong.
  174. "Hey you alright in there?"
  175. >You try to open the door, but it's been locked from the inside.
  176. >Since when did she figure out the lock?
  177. >Doesn't matter, what matters now is whether or not she's okay.
  178. >She could be in trouble.
  179. >You start hitting the door harder.
  180. "Applejack? Please answer me!"
  181. >No good.
  182. >You start slamming the door.
  183. >Taking a couple steps back, you prepare to ram the door.
  184. >The door unlocks and a tired Applejack appears.
  185. >"Alright, alright ah'm up. So stop yer bangin'. Er, if ya don't mind sir."
  186. >Her eyes are bloodshot.
  187. "Hey, I was worried about you. You didn't say anything."
  188. >"Ah was just, tired, an ah needed mah sleep sir."
  189. "Look, would you please just stop calling me sir?"
  190. >You lean down.
  191. "It's Anon."
  192. >She looks away from you.
  193. >"Anyway, I made you something to eat."
  194. >You slide the tray in front of her.
  195. >"Ah ain't hungry."
  196. >She's lying.
  197. "You must be kidding, it's been hours since you stayed inside your room. Just try some."
  198. >You nudge the tray closer to her.
  199. >"Like ah said, ah ain't hungry!"
  200. >With a single kick she sends the tray and everything on top of it flying.
  201. >"An ah don't need yer sympathy."
  202. >You look down at where all that food went.
  203. >Welp.
  204. >All that hard work just went down the drain.
  205. "W-what did you just-?"
  206.  
  207. >"What ya goin' deaf now? Ah said ah ain't hungry an ah don't need yer sympathy, so drop yer fake act an just leave me alone."
  208. "And what will leaving you all alone accomplish? Listen, I'm just trying to help."
  209. >"Yall just like that. Ya think yer bein' kind an helpin', but ah seen what yer kind do."
  210. "What do you mean?"
  211. >"Yer just pretendin' to be kind, when all yall do is put stuff in our food to make us weak. Sayin' everythin'll be alright when ya just want to lock us up, force us an, an-"
  212. >She closes her mouth with her hoof.
  213. >You see tears falling down her face.
  214. >Shit.
  215. "It doesn't have to be this way."
  216. >You try to get a hold of her.
  217. >She jerks out of your reach.
  218. >Her eyes are filled with hatred.
  219. >"Don't. Touch. Me. Yall a buncha mean, no good fer nuthin' lyin' dirty apes!"
  220. >You try again to touch her, but she rears her legs and bucks them into the air.
  221. >It connects with your hand and a jolt of pain shoots up your arm.
  222. "HEY!"
  223. >You raise your other hand.
  224. >Applejack cowers and shuts her eyes.
  225. >"Go on an hit me. Do as ya please."
  226. >You can feel your hand throbbing from the pain.
  227. >Damn these ponies are stronger than they look.
  228. >Your hand is shaking.
  229. >Though not as much as how she's shaking.
  230. >You lower your arm and clutch your injured hand.
  231. >You kneel down in front of the frightened pony.
  232. "Do you think shutting yourself off from everything and everyone is going to help you?"
  233. >Ignoring the pain you smile.
  234. "Listen, I know... or rather I don't know what your story is, or how bad you really have it."
  235. >You reach out with your good hand and place it on top of her head.
  236. >She stops shaking.
  237. "Look, I don't want you cooped up in there without any food or water."
  238. >You gently rub her head.
  239. "And I won't force you to do anything you don't want nor will I ever hit you or hurt you. I know you're a living, breathing being just like me, so it'll put me at ease if you just come out and eat something."
  240. >You lift your hand off her and stumble towards the mess.
  241.  
  242. >You try and pick up the pieces of salad but you can't.
  243. >Your hand is pretty, ahem, bucked up.
  244. >God you need painkillers.
  245. >Using your other hand you start putting all the pieces onto the tray.
  246. >That is until you noticed Applejack beside you, picking up the green leaves with her mouth and placing it back onto the tray.
  247. >You both carry on picking up all the pieces in silence until the floor is as clean as it can be.
  248. >You awkwardly hold the tray and turn to go back down to the kitchen.
  249. >"Ah'm... sorry."
  250. >You stop.
  251. >You place the tray back onto the floor and pick up an apple.
  252. "Here, this one is still good."
  253. >You clumsily hand it to her.
  254. >It takes a moment for her to approach you.
  255. >Instead of using her mouth to grab it, she holds it between her two hooves.
  256. >You've never seen a pony do that before.
  257. >It's actually kind of cute.
  258. >"… thanks."
  259. >You smile.
  260. "I'm... just gonna go clean this up and rest. If you need anything, the kitchen is all yours."
  261. >You almost didn't make it to the kitchen.
  262. >You throw the tray into the sink and scramble for the first aid drawer.
  263. >God damn your hand felt like it was on fire.
  264. >You needed something strong.
  265. >Oh thank baby Jesus that you still had some co-codamol.
  266. >You break open the pack and throw two tablets into your mouth.
  267. >Then, against all common sense, you decide to raid the liquor cabinet.
  268. >Scotch whiskey - this'll knock you out.
  269. >And you were hoping on it.
  270. >You take a massive swig of the bottle while you stumble over to the sofa.
  271. >Oh good, looks like one thing or the other is taking affect.
  272. >Soon the throbbing in your hand goes away.
  273. >And so does your balance.
  274. >Everything soon goes awry and sweet sleep descends upon you.
  275. "Goodnight sweet prince." You mutter to yourself.
  276.  
  277. >The good ol' alcohol and co-codamol combo did the job.
  278. >A good, painless, comatose-like sleep.
  279. >You feel a sensation coming from your hand.
  280. >Funny, is this how a broken hand feels like?
  281. >The throbbing has gotten slower, and more deliberate.
  282. >It's warm and… wet?
  283. >That can't be right.
  284. >Your eyes flicker open.
  285. >What year is it?
  286. >1957?
  287. >That's just the whiskey bottle resting against your cheek.
  288. >And your injured hand.
  289. >Looking down you see Applejack licking it.
  290. "Wha-"
  291. >You jerk your hand free and the pain kicks back in.
  292. "Ow!"
  293. >"Bout time ya woke up. Ya know ya talk in yer sleep?"
  294. >She gives you a stern look.
  295. "Er, I do?"
  296. >"Yer do, well, anyways, ah thought ah'd help yer hand."
  297. >You look at your swollen, saliva covered hand.
  298. >"It's an old family remedy fer bumps an grazes. An… it didn't taste that… bad."
  299. "Well, thanks I guess?"
  300. >Applejack backs off and goes off into the kitchen.
  301. >Hmm I guess she's still an animal.
  302. >...
  303. >Did she say I didn't taste that bad?
  304. "By the way, what did I taste like?"
  305. >Applejack drops a package of bandages in your lap.
  306. >"C'mon, ya should wrap that up."
  307. "Thanks, again."
  308. >She's pretty nice actually.
  309. >You both work together in bandaging your injured hand.
  310. >It's a combination of the pony using her teeth to grip on the packaging and you using your free hand to hold and tear.
  311. >You can feel her breath against your skin.
  312. >She's pretty close.
  313. >And warm too.
  314. >"Ah suppose ya want somethin' ta eat?"
  315. >You look up at the clock, it's already 11am.
  316. "Hey don't worry about it, I can fix somethin-"
  317. >Trying to stand up the whole room starts spinning.
  318. >"Whoa Nelly, ya just sit right there."
  319. >Applejack places both of her forelegs onto your chest and pushes you back down onto the sofa.
  320. >You were still pretty out of it.
  321. "O-okay."
  322.  
  323. >"Don't get the wrong idea, ahm just makin' up fer mah wrong doin'."
  324. "Alright, alright. Call me if you need any help."
  325. >Applejack goes behind the sofa towards the kitchen.
  326. >Watching the orange pony navigate around the place was pretty amusing.
  327. "You sure you're alright in there Applejack?"
  328. >"Darn place is too big fer me."
  329. >She jumps up onto the table top.
  330. >"Ah don't even know what this contraption is. Do ya put this on the stove?"
  331. >You watch her tilt her head at the kettle.
  332. "Oh jeez don't do that - it's an electric kettle."
  333. >"Ah what now?"
  334. "You fill it up with water and put it back on its base, then all you've gotta do is just press the button."
  335. >"Press the button. Right."
  336. >She grips the kettle handle with her mouth and lifts it over to the sink.
  337. >A minute of studying the top she pops open the kettle lid and uses her mouth to turn the tap.
  338. "Do you, do everything using your mouth?"
  339. >That, came out wrong.
  340. >Applejack gives you that look - the one with the raised eyebrow.
  341. "Er, nevermind."
  342. >"Fer yer information, ahm fine on mah own thank you very much."
  343. >"These the only apples ya got?"
  344. "Yeah. What are you making?"
  345. >"Just shut yer trap an sit still. Yer actin' just like a baby fer cryin' out loud."
  346. >Ouch.
  347. >After some time, Applejack brings you a tray of tea and toast with some sort of apple jam on top.
  348. "I didn't know we had apple jam."
  349. >"Yer didn't."
  350. >Hmm, apple jam on toast.
  351. >That's an odd thing to put on top.
  352. >"Huh... couldn't you have used the other stuff?"
  353. "It ain't as nice as what we used to get back on the farm but ah did what ah could."
  354. >"Not gonna lie, I'm pretty iffy about this."
  355. >You lift a slice up to your nose and sniff it.
  356. >Smells... apple-ly.
  357. >"Oh quit yer whinin' an just try it."
  358. >Applejack shoves the slice into your mouth.
  359. "He-"
  360. >What's this?
  361. >It's... actually pretty nice.
  362. >The combination of the sweet warm syrup and crunchy cinnamon apple pieces really worked together.
  363. "Hey this is pretty good."
  364. >You think you just caught her smiling.
  365.  
  366. "Hey, you know it's strange for me to say this but you've got a nice smile."
  367. >Applejack stops.
  368. >And in instance her smile is gone.
  369. "... what's wrong?"
  370. >Her eyes are staring off into the distance.
  371. >"... ah think ah need some time to mahself."
  372. >She slides off the chair and starts making her way back upstairs.
  373. >You want to reach out to her again.
  374. >But seeing your bandaged hand stops you.
  375. >I should let her be.
  376. >... but won't everything just repeat?
  377. >She's gone now.
  378. >What are you going to do?
  379. >You have an idea.
  380. >You take the home phone off its base and flick through the ring binder Smith gave you.
  381. >Where is it…
  382. >Aha here it is.
  383. >You type down the number and put the phone to your ear.
  384. >"..."
  385. >"Agent Smith."
  386. "H-hey there, it's Anon. I wanted to-"
  387. >"Oh! Anon! I wasn't expecting a phone call so soon."
  388. >"How are you guys settling in? Did you miss me?"
  389. "Yeah, I mean no, not really. It's Applejack you see."
  390. >The line goes quiet.
  391. >"Tell me what's the matter Anon."
  392. "She's been getting into these strange moods and locking herself away. Like just now, one moment she was happy and the next she got all, you know, upset."
  393. >"I see."
  394. "Is there anything I can do? I don't want to see her like this."
  395. >"See, I knew you were a good kid. Listen kiddo, right now you're the only one there for her."
  396. >"She might be a thinking, talking colourful pony but she's still a person. Understand?"
  397. "I think I understand."
  398. >"Listen, you're not the only one. It might be a good idea to take her outside or something, I'm not saying you have to buy her stuff."
  399. >"Just put yourself in her shoes, or hooves, whatever, and think about how you'd feel?"
  400. "Okay."
  401. >"Hey Anon, I'm gonna have to cut this call short, something's happening. I'll be waiting for your cup of coffee again. Ciao."
  402. >And just like that, the line went dead.
  403. >Hmm, put yourself in her… hooves?
  404. >You scratch your head.
  405. >It looked pretty serious.
  406. >Like she was remembering something pretty bad.
  407. >That's something even you can't imagine.
  408.  
  409. >I mean, if they come from a magical world, then there's probably a lot of unimaginable stuff.
  410. >… right?
  411. >And despite all that, she's still someone, or somepony.
  412. >Whatever.
  413. >As you place the phone back into its base, you look up in the direction of her room.
  414. >It's quiet.
  415. >You make your way upstairs.
  416. >As you go to knock on the door you notice that it's already opened.
  417. >Pushing the door open you peek inside.
  418. >The curtains were drawn and you couldn't see her.
  419. >You take a step in and look over at the bed.
  420. >It's still neatly made.
  421. >Your heart starts to kick in and you flick on the light.
  422. "Applejack?"
  423. >You hear something near the bed.
  424. >Ah.
  425. >That's where you hid when you were a kid.
  426. >Going down on all fours you pull up the bed sheets.
  427. >Huddled inside in a ball was Applejack.
  428. >She was facing away from you.
  429. "Howdy."
  430. >"Ah told ya ta leave me alone."
  431. "You know when I was a kid, I got pretty scared at night."
  432. >You lie down on your front.
  433. "It was over a stupid thing too, who'd watch a horror film all by yourself at night?"
  434. >One of her ears flicked at you.
  435. "I'd wait all night just like that, scared that a monster would eat me. Waiting until my parents came back home, even though they'd always be late from work."
  436. "I know it wasn't real, but the fear felt very real. Waiting all that time, alone, that was a horrible memory."
  437. >Then her ear drooped.
  438. "What I'm mean to say is, I'm here, with you."
  439. >After a moment of thinking that you didn't make any sense whatsoever, Applejack turns around to face you.
  440. >"Ya... comin' in?"
  441. >You smile and crawl inside.
  442. >"Howdy."
  443. >You lie down on your back next to the pony.
  444. >"Ya know, ya talk an awful lot of gibberish. Are ya always like this?"
  445. >A blush comes across your face as you try and laugh it off.
  446. >You stop when you feel something tug on your arm.
  447. >"... thanks. Ya know, ya remind me of somepony. An ah know how stubborn ah can be."
  448. >You're looking at her in the dark.
  449.  
  450. >"She was one of mah friends, all of them are, they were always there fer me, now ah don't even know what ta think."
  451. "Hey, don't get me wrong but..."
  452. >Jeez did you want to say it?
  453. >"But what?"
  454. "... at least you have friends."
  455. >"... ya never had any friends? Ya mean to say ya never made any?"
  456. "Well, maybe a couple of internet friends."
  457. >"In-tar-net friends?"
  458. "Forget it. I mean, I think you should trust them, if not, then at least believe in yourself. I can't even begin to imagine what sorts of things you've been through to get here."
  459. >You both fall silent again.
  460. >Dammit did you just say too much?
  461. >Your thoughts were interrupted when Applejack pulled herself into your side.
  462. >She's shaking, no, she's crying.
  463. >"Ah... ahm tryin'... ah... ah miss them all..."
  464. >She's trying hard to not let it show.
  465. >You pull her into a hug, despite brushing your injured arm against the slacks above you.
  466. >She freezes.
  467. "It's okay."
  468. >You gingerly place your free hand on top of her head and begin to rub it.
  469. >As though an invisible barrier just broke, Applejack cries into your arm.
  470. >You can feel her hot breath and tears wet your chest.
  471. >All you do is hold her.
  472. >That's all you can do right now.
  473. >This feels strangely nice.
  474. >...
  475. >She seems to have relaxed.
  476. "Hey Applejack?"
  477. >You try to figure out if she's awake.
  478. >Nope.
  479. >She's fallen asleep.
  480. >You're both really close together too.
  481. >Of course you dummy, this is a hugging position.
  482. >You can feel her breathing down your arm.
  483. >... this is fine too.
  484. For a pony, she doesn't smell like what you'd imagine.
  485. She smells of cinnamon and apples, though that could've been from the cooking.
  486. >You lean in and kiss her gently on her head.
  487. >Did her breathing just pause for a moment?
  488. >...
  489. >Maybe you should get some shuteye too.
  490.  
  491. >You wake up later and find yourself sprawled out beneath your parent's bed.
  492. >Alone.
  493. >She's not here.
  494. >Getting up and out from under the bed, you hear noises coming from the kitchen.
  495. >You find Applejack on top of the sink in the middle of washing the dishes.
  496. >She pauses.
  497. >"Did he really… nah ah could've sworn…"
  498. "Hey what's up? Sorry I must've dozed off-"
  499. >"Nothin'!"
  500. >She scrunches her face.
  501. "You alright Applejack?"
  502. >"Ahm fine!"
  503. >Huh?
  504. >She jumps down from the table top.
  505. >"Ah, ah thought ah'd clean up the mess."
  506. >You look around the room.
  507. >It's cleaner than it's ever been before.
  508. "Wow, jeez I didn't realise how dirty this place really was."
  509. >You smile at her.
  510. >She stamps her hoof.
  511. >"It ain't somethin' to be proud about."
  512. "Oh..."
  513. >"... don't get the wrong idea… Ah was just... repayin' ya."
  514. "Huh? What for?"
  515. >She scrunches again.
  516. >"Whoo whee! Ah think ah worked up a sweat! Ah think ahm a go have a good ol' soakin'!"
  517. >With that she quickly makes her escape.
  518. >Hmm.
  519. >You wonder if she'll be alright on her own?
  520. >Wait, c'mon Anon.
  521. >She's a pony, not a pet.
  522. >Er... don't think about that last one.
  523. >I'm sure she'll manage.
  524. >Now that you've got some free time, maybe it's a good time to do some sketches.
  525. >When was the last time you picked up the pencil?
  526. >You nod to yourself and begin to walk upstairs.
  527. >"Gosh darn it!"
  528. >As you approach the top of the stairs you notice that the bathroom door was open.
  529. >What's with her habit of leaving doors open now?
  530. >Steam and the smell of soap drifts out of the room.
  531. >"How in tarnations do these humans wash themselves?"
  532. >As you cautiously walk closer, you hear the water running.
  533. >"Unf! O-pen up will ya!"
  534. >Now there's the sound of clopping and splashing around.
  535. >"Oh fer the love of Mary!"
  536. >... and something just fell onto the floor.
  537. >More worryingly, you notice water coming out into the hallway.
  538. "Er, Applejack? You alright in there?"
  539. ...
  540. >"Eyup."
  541. >Liar.
  542. >You really didn't want to intrude on a girl bathing herself.
  543. >But she's just a pony right?
  544.  
  545. >All you wanted to do with your some spare time was to just sit down and finish your sketches.
  546. >You had a good one of Yang from some sort of Chinese cartoon coming along.
  547. >You hear another crash from inside.
  548. >Forget about all that, she's making another mess.
  549. "Alright I'm coming in."
  550. >"Ah! Anon? No wait ah sec!"
  551. >You push the door wide open.
  552. >"No!"
  553. >You find Applejack frozen like a deer in headlights.
  554. >To say that there was a mess would be an understatement.
  555. >Your eyes followed the trail of devastation.
  556. >By the feet you find several of your mom's old yet expensive hair products.
  557. >Some of the bottles had been clumsily opened and spilt, covering the floor in patches of thick white liquid.
  558. >Your eyes moved up towards Applejack.
  559. >She was bent over the bathtub, half submerged in a duvet of bubbles.
  560. >One white stained foreleg was supporting herself from falling out while the other was inside the tub.
  561. >Applejack had splotches of some white cream all over her mane and nose.
  562. >It seemed like you caught her trying to get out of the tub, though right now she was stuck in a rather undignified pose, what with one leg high in the air.
  563. >A slither of bath water runs down her leg towards her groin.
  564. >The sudden realisation that her rear was out in the open dawned on you two.
  565. "Ah."
  566. >"AH!"
  567. >A deep blush simultaneously spread across both your faces.
  568. >Coming to her senses Applejack jumps back into the bathtub, only to reappear as a red scrunching face poking out from a mountain of white bubbles.
  569. >You find a soap bar flying pass you and ending up in the hallway, just missing you by a thread.
  570. >"Anon, ah don't know if this is what humans do. But stallions do not barge in on a mare."
  571. >"So if yer done peeking. Get on outta here before ah force ya out."
  572. >She's glaring at you now.
  573. "Wait wha-why are you angry? Just look at this place!"
  574. >"..."
  575. >Just shake it off.
  576. "Look, never mind, I'm sorry. Really. Though I heard all the commotion from downstairs."
  577. >"Ah..."
  578.  
  579. "Look, since I'm here I'll help you out."
  580. >"Hmm."
  581. "Deal?"
  582. >"... no funny business."
  583. "No funny business."
  584. >Applejack gives you a little nod.
  585. >"... deal."
  586. >Right, time to get into the action.
  587. >You throw a large towel over the floor, so as to stop you from slipping, and walk over towards her.
  588. "Alright, look, I'm going to need to get rid of all this water first."
  589. >You unplug the stopper to let the bathwater drain.
  590. >Then you reach up for the showerhead.
  591. "This'll get rid of all the bubbles on you, that okay?"
  592. >"... sure thin'."
  593. >The steady stream of hot water eats away at the bubbles in the tub, until you're left with a pony covered in bubbles.
  594. >Hmm this reminds you of that one time you helped bath your uncle's pet dog.
  595. >You aim the stream at her main body and, using your free hand, you scoop away the excess.
  596. >"Ah!" Applejack gasps.
  597. >You pull back.
  598. "What did I do!?"
  599. >"Yer fingers…"
  600. >You look at your fingers.
  601. >"They're... ah... like a swarm of angry Breezies in spring time."
  602. "Like a what now?"
  603. >"Forget ah said anythin'. Just… don’t go touching places yer shouldn’t."
  604. >It was just her back.
  605. >You shrug and carry on rinsing her down.
  606. >Every time you brush your hand down against her back you can feel her tense up.
  607. >And every time you noticed her rear leg kicking ever so slightly.
  608. >Cute.
  609. >Er, her tail wasn't probably the best idea.
  610. >It's decided, time to sort out that mane.
  611. >Using your fingers you gently rake through her mane, getting rid of the knots here and there.
  612. "Hmm looks like I'll need to comb this through later on."
  613. >"Ah ya have a comb? Ah couldn't find one in here."
  614. "Did you look in the glass cabinet?"
  615. >"Ya mean that crystal mirror thin' up there? That's a cabinet? How was aye supposed to reach up there?"
  616. "Oh right."
  617. "Well could you hold this for a moment?"
  618. >You hand her the showerhead.
  619. >Applejack takes it with her and starts spraying her tail with it.
  620. >Yeah there was no way she was going to go up there safely.
  621.  
  622. >But if she's willing to hold onto the showerhead like that.
  623. "Hey keep holding onto the head. We can leave the comb for later."
  624. >"Mm?"
  625. >You lean over and grab her mane.
  626. "Now I can do this."
  627. >You get a little shampoo in her mane, in any case she was already caked in it, and make a lather it up.
  628. >Running your hands through her mane feels incredible, not like the time you washed your uncle's dog.
  629. >No, this mane was really smooth now that you were working into it.
  630. >This is nice, it's almost like a meditation…
  631. >"Er, Anon? Yer been cleaning mah mane fer quite some time now."
  632. >You snap out of it.
  633. "Huh what? Oh sorry."
  634. >Applejack was hanging the showerhead over one of her forelegs.
  635. >"So how 'bout that comb?"
  636. >You take the showerhead off her.
  637. "Thanks. I'll go get it afterwards, for now, could you please close your eyes?"
  638. >"W-what do ya mean?"
  639. >She blushes.
  640. "I'm gonna rinse off the stuff near your face."
  641. >"Ah. Okay well, g-go ahead."
  642. >Applejack is hesitant at first, but gradually closes her eyes and leans her head forward.
  643. >It looks like she's expecting a kiss…
  644. >"W-what cha waitin' fer?"
  645. >Get it together Anon.
  646. "Ok."
  647. >You cup your hands underneath her chin to lift her head up.
  648. >She tenses when your fingers touch her forehead.
  649. "Hey don't move, I don’t want to get any of this in your eyes."
  650. >With your hand shielding her eyes, you start rinsing her from top down.
  651. >She's standing still, almost obediently to your touch.
  652. >"Mm."
  653. >Rinsing what shampoo was left off her mane, you notice some had gotten into her ears.
  654. >Guess you what part you're moving onto next.
  655. >You reach in and touch the inside of her ear, causing it to flick out of reach.
  656. >"A-h-h! Anon! A-ah just told ya to not go touching places yer shouldn't touch!"
  657. >She's quivering.
  658. "Yeah, I know it's just there's some shampoo in there. Just... hold on a sec'..."
  659.  
  660. >If it's one thing you've learnt from washing your uncle's dog, is that you've gotta be quick with these things.
  661. >With your index finger and thumb, you gently grip hold of her ear and wipe away the dirt in her folds.
  662. >"A-ah!"
  663. "Nearly done..."
  664. >You lean in closer to get a better look at what you're doing.
  665. "And... done."
  666. >Applejack is breathing more heavily now.
  667. "Right now for the next ear."
  668. >"H-huh?"
  669. >You pull her head to rest against your arm as you get yourself into a better position.
  670. >"W-what just a second Anon, ah, ah ain't ready ye-"
  671. >Too late.
  672. >Your fingers were already touching the pinna of her ears.
  673. >"Ah!"
  674. >Man this part is so warm and smooth.
  675. >It's almost a pleasure to clean out her ears.
  676. >You slide your thumb underneath the top lip of her ear, rubbing out the bubbles.
  677. >"Mm!"
  678. >Applejack tries to pull her head out of your hold.
  679. >But every time you touch her ear she goes limp.
  680. "And... all done!"
  681. >You release her, though she's not standing straight anymore.
  682. >She's looking at you with half-lidded eyes.
  683. >...
  684. >It couldn't be because her ears had never been touched before?
  685. "Hey Applejack, do you normally use tools to help you wash?"
  686. >It takes her a moment to answer the question.
  687. >"Y-yeah, ah tried doin' on mah own."
  688. >"But ah can only do so much, with ma mouth an hooves."
  689. >"An ah didn't see anything ah could use."
  690. >"But now... ah understand how ya humans can be so... masterful."
  691. "Hmm hold on a sec."
  692. >You move over to the shelf and pull off a scrunchie and a brush.
  693. >"Ah know what that is but what in tartarus is that?"
  694. >She's looking over to the scrunchie.
  695. "Oh this? You can use it to lather yourself up and scrub away the dirt."
  696. "Here let me show you."
  697. >"Wh-wha-wait Anon!"
  698. >You squeeze what was left of in a bottle of green shower gel and begin rubbing it all over Applejack's neck.
  699. >The soft fabric rubs against her fur, sending shivers up her spine.
  700. >"Ah-Anon, y-ya rubbin' apples all over me?"
  701. >She's panting now.
  702.  
  703. >Twisting your head you look at the shower gel.
  704. >'Apple Fresh'.
  705. >"Well would you look at that, you'll smelling 'Apple Fresh' in no time!"
  706. >You laugh at your lame joke and begin to brush Applejack's back.
  707. >Oh.
  708. >You never really noticed it, but she's got some sort of logo on her thighs.
  709. >This must be what they called their cutiemark.
  710. >"A-Anon, ah, ah don't know how much more ah can take."
  711. "We're nearly done now, hey Applejack should I clean your cutiemark?"
  712. >"Huh? Wai-"
  713. >Too late, again.
  714. >You were already rubbing circles into her cutiemark.
  715. >"M-mm-"
  716. >She's making an awful lot of noise from just rubbing some fur.
  717. >You look over and find out that she's covering her own mouth.
  718. >Just a bit more...
  719. >"A-ah! Mmm- ah! A-Anon! Hah! Ahhh!"
  720. >She's shudders and becomes stiff.
  721. "And okay! We're all done here."
  722. >...
  723. >Applejack is panting hard and quivering.
  724. >Dammit is she cold already?
  725. >You grab a nearby towel and wrap her up.
  726. "Here, let me clean this place up later. You keep warm and get some rest."
  727. >Unable to speak, the little pony nods.
  728. >You fish her out of the bathtub and carry her in your arms.
  729. >For a pony that really hurt your hand, she's pretty light.
  730. >And man does she smell incredible, whatever concoction of shampoo you used, she smells really sweet.
  731. >Heading into the master bedroom, you pull the duvet down and tuck her in.
  732. "There, that'll keep you nice and warm. Rest easy."
  733. >She slowly nods with a content smile on her face.
  734. >You close the door quietly behind you to face what was left of her destruction.
  735. >God you hope that those shampoo bottles weren't too expensive.
  736. >And there goes your sketching time.
  737.  
  738. >Hello Darkness, my old friend.
  739. >It's been such a long time, so I've come to see you again.
  740. >What's that?
  741. >Feels like something is pressing against me.
  742. >Jeez why can't I ju-
  743. >"-st wake up already!"
  744. >The nudging has stopped now.
  745. >Maybe five more min-
  746. "Argh!"
  747. >The curtains were pulled open, flooding the room with light, driving away the darkness and blinding you in the process.
  748. >You try and pull up the duvet, but it's too late.
  749. >Your warm, cosy cover is ripped clean off your bed, leaving you exposed to the elements.
  750. >"Ah said. Rise. N. Shine. Anon! Get yer lazy ass outta bed!"
  751. >The voice obviously belongs to the perpetrator and saboteur of your morning lie in .
  752. "... morning Applejack."
  753. >Yes that's right.
  754. >You're looking after a pony from Equestria now.
  755. >A world that was once home to thinking, talking, magical, rainbow coloured ponies.
  756. >And you had one that especially loved her mornings.
  757. "What time is it?"
  758. >"If ah were guessin' ah'd say it's nearly eight."
  759. "Oh for crying out loud. Come back later."
  760. >"C'mon if ah can wake up early, so can you."
  761. >Denying reality, you curl up your knees and roll into the wall by your bed.
  762. >It's darker here.
  763. >This'll do.
  764. >"Just what in the hay do ya think yer doin'?"
  765. "Five more minutes..."
  766. >You feel something heavy land on your bed, and it's moving its way towards you.
  767. >Suddenly you find yourself forcefully spun around and facing the ceiling.
  768. >You come face to face with Applejack looking down at you.
  769. >She's got you pinned down with her hooves.
  770. "Oh."
  771. >"Ah already said ma good mornin' to ya."
  772. >She grins.
  773. >Sigh, there's no way that you were gonna go back to sleep after all this.
  774. "... good morning Applejack. Now can you get off me?"
  775. >"Ah."
  776. >She blushes and jumps off the bed.
  777. >Now that you were free, you got up and begin stretching your back.
  778. "I suppose you have breakfast all sorted?"
  779. >You watch as shes grab your duvet by her teeth and toss it neatly over your bed.
  780. >"Ah came here ta wake yer fer that reason."
  781. "What?"
  782. >"Ya ain't got any food in yer kitchen."
  783. "What about in the fridge?"
  784. >"That cold white box contraption?"
  785. >"Ain't nothin' in there fer the likes of me."
  786. "I'm sure there was some bacon."
  787. ">Ahem, if ya forgot, us ponies don't exactly eat any meat. It ain't right."
  788. "Huh? Don't tell me you've never had bacon before?"
  789. >You know she's a herbivore, but this feels like some sort of injustice.
  790. >Applejack walks beside you and, in a very controlled manner, bucks your backside.
  791. "Ow!"
  792. >"Shut yer lolly gaggin' n get changed!"
  793. >Alright Anon, the boss pony has spoken.
  794. >As you put on a shirt, you start thinking of the stuff she might like from the supermarket.
  795. >The questions keep coming, what kind of shops might she be interested in?
  796. >Then a problem breaks through that sea of thought.
  797. >How on earth are you going to get her to wear that damn leash!?
  798.  
  799. >Coming downstairs you find Applejack sitting on the floor by the sunlight.
  800. >"Ya sure took yer sweet time."
  801. "Some people like to spend their mornings asleep."
  802. >You go over to the kitchen to check again.
  803. >There was always some food to be found.
  804. >Aha.
  805. >Turns out you've got some pony friendly whole grain cereal.
  806. "Hey Applejack, you eat whole grain right?"
  807. >"Well ah'll be, yer had some grains?"
  808. >You fill out two bowls with the cereal and milk, and take them both to the table.
  809. "Well that's breakfast sorted, come sit and have some."
  810. >As it turns out Applejack wasn't exactly too happy with the breakfast 'grains'.
  811. >"Ya call this grain?"
  812. >"What? It says whole grain on the box."
  813. "Ah know grain when ah see it. But… okay."
  814. >Despite all the faces she kept pulling, she ate everything.
  815. >Well, now that you have her sitting down, it might be time.
  816. >Not that you really wanted to bring it up.
  817. "Um… Applejack I want you to take a look at something."
  818. >"Hmm?"
  819. >You bring out the leash and place it on the table.
  820. >The collar was part leather and metal in construction with a metal chain.
  821. >It looked like some expensive dog collar.
  822. >Applejack's eyes were fixed onto it.
  823. >"I-is that what ah think it is?"
  824. "Ah, so you know about it."
  825. >Her ears droop.
  826. "Sorry, I was trying to think of some other way to bring it up…"
  827. >"Ah know what the deal is, ah can't blame ya but it seems like this is how its gonna have ta be."
  828. >You pick up the collar.
  829. "I've been given strict instructions by Miss Smith to do this…"
  830. >She looks down at the floor and nods at you.
  831. >"Tell me somethin' Anon."
  832. "What is it?"
  833. >"Did ya ever hear of a pony in our history called Sombra?"
  834. "No."
  835. >"Sombra was an evil pony, he enslaved an entire empire of ponies."
  836. "Ah."
  837. >"He put em all in chains, not too different from that one, n got em to work n fight fer him."
  838. "You know that's not why they issued these."
  839. >"Ah know… Ah know just..."
  840. >"If ya heard the stories as a filly, only ta then find out that they were true..."
  841. >Applejack looks up at you.
  842. >"Just, could ya do somethin' fer me Anon?"
  843. "What is it?"
  844. >"Just..."
  845. >"Could ja tell me that ah… ah ain't a slave?"
  846. >"..."
  847. >Damn.
  848. >Here you are in kneeling in front of a little pony with a collar.
  849. >If only she were an dog, then it wouldn't have to be so bad.
  850. >But this.
  851. >This was bad.
  852. >You reluctantly slide the collar around her neck and close it, hearing a heavy click.
  853. >Once done, you pull her in and wrap your arms around her.
  854. "... you're no slave Applejack."
  855. >You feel her two forelegs hold you.
  856. >"Thanks, Anon."
  857. >When you let go of her Applejack rushes off into the hallway, dragging the leash with her.
  858. >She reappears with her cowboy hat in place, and the leash held in her mouth.
  859. >You follow suit, putting on your shoes, keys, wallet and phone.
  860. "Right, you ready?"
  861. >She gives you the leash.
  862. >"Ahm ready."
  863. >You open the front door and head outside together.
  864. >...
  865. >Forget about your uncle's dog.
  866. >It was late morning so the streets weren't too busy, which made it a bit better.
  867. >Honestly you were really self-conscious about the fact that you walking a pony on a leash.
  868. >I mean, watching that old granny with a pony was socially acceptable.
  869. >But you, a man in his healthy years, walking a bright coloured pony?
  870. >"Yer alright Anon?"
  871. >Nah, this wasn't like that.
  872. >This was your parents idea, and this was for a good cause, for Applejack's sake.
  873. >"... yer sweating an awful lot Anon."
  874. >You just hope that you don't come across anyone who'll give you trouble.
  875. "Ah!"
  876. >The leash tightens.
  877. >You look around and see Applejack yanking the chain back.
  878. >"Did ah mention that yer remind me of a certain pony?"
  879. "Y-yeah you did. Sorry I was thinking about stuff."
  880. >"What sort of stuff?"
  881. "I mean, don't you find this strange?"
  882. >She tilts her head, then changes expressions and blushes.
  883. >"A-Anon! Ah, ah th-thought we already t-talked about this."
  884. >Sigh.
  885. >Seems like she was just as self-conscious about wearing a collar too.
  886. "C'mon, let's go."
  887. >You wait for Applejack to catch up with you before continuing, side by side.
  888. >To others you might look a bit odd, perhaps mean even.
  889. >You look down the pony next to you.
  890. >But right now, you wanted to show to the others that you weren't any better than she was.
  891. >You walk with her, side by side.
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