Circleship: This Too Shall Pass

by JohnPerry

Chapter 1: This Too Shall Pass

Big Macintosh took a long draught of cider from his mug before letting out an easy sigh. He looked out over the verdant orchards of Sweet Apple Acres, admiring the soft light of the setting sun reflecting off the yellow, orange, and gold leaves of autumn. Bright red fruits shone brightly in the sunlight, looking like baubles hanging from the rows of trees that stretched out over the hillside. Besides him, Applejack leaned back against a wooden fence post, taking a swig of cider from her own mug. Behind them sat the barn, standing proudly as a symbol of their hard work.

“Eeeeyup,” Big Mac drawled, an expression which in this context and due to its long drawn-out nature and the inflection of his tone could be roughly translated as, “My word, this is a beautiful day, is it not? Why, it’s the sort of day that makes one happy to be alive.

“Mmm-hmmm,” Applejack murmured as she held the rim of her mug to her lips, an expression which could be translated as, “I heartily agree, and would also like to express my appreciation for this batch of cider you made. The quality of it is most excellent.

“Yup,” the stallion replied, which here meant, “You’re most welcome for the cider, my dear sister; I’m happy you’re enjoying it while we share this peaceful moment.

“Hello?” a male voice called from the other side of the barn. “Anyone here?”

“Hmph,” Applejack grumbled, casting a frown in the direction of the voice, her expression roughly meaning, “So much for the moment. There’s never any peace around here.

“Eeyup,” Big Mac responded with a chuckle, putting down his mug before making his way around the barn. When he reached the other side, he was greeted by the sight of two ponies walking up the path towards him; one was a blue-coated stallion with a dark blue, swept-back mane, while the other was a mare with a pale yellow coat and a fiery orange mane. Both were pegasi.

“‘Sweet Apple Acres,’” the stallion read off the sign over the entry gate. “Yeah, this is the place, Spitfire! I’m telling you, they make the best pies!”

“You and your pies,” the mare named Spitfire replied, rolling her eyes as she did so. “This had better be a pretty amazing pie for us to come all the way out here.”

“Hey there!” the stallion called out when he spotted Big Mac, waving vigorously. “Do you have any pies?”

Big Mac shook his head as he approached, still keeping a warm smile on his face. “Nope.”

“Nope?!” The pegasus stallion looked crestfallen, his eyes widening and his jaw dropping in horror. “What do you mean ‘nope’?!”

“I think he means ‘nope,’ Soarin,” Spitfire chided. “As in ‘no pies to be found here.’”

Soarin’s ears folded against his skull and he gave Big Mac a hopeful grin. “Well… got anything else?” he asked.

Big Mac opened his mouth to respond, but another voice answered before he could. “Come on back tomorrow morning, y’hear?” They turned to see an elderly green-coated mare standing on the porch of the farmhouse, looking down at them. “We’ll have a fresh batch ready with enough pies, fritters, and tarts to stuff yourself silly! Jus’ so long as Big Mac remembers to pick up enough flour. Won’t you, Big Mac?”


“Tomorrow morning? I can wait that long!” Soarin exclaimed, his expression quickly brightening. He leapt into the air, his wings unfurling as he did so. “Great! I’ll be back first thing tomorrow! Come on, Spits, let’s see if we can find someplace in town to stay! Race you back!”

Spitfire faltered, remaining in place on the ground. “Err… that’s fine, you go on ahead. In fact, why don’t you find that Rainbow Dash kid? I bet she’d be happy to see you.”

“Yes, ma’am!” Soarin cheered before taking off with such force that all Big Mac saw was a blue streak racing towards town before his own mane blanketed his vision. Once the rush of wind passed, he lifted a hoof to push his hair out of his eyes and found himself alone with Spitfire, who was watching Soarin vanish over the horizon, shaking her head.

“Sorry about him, he can be a little thick sometimes,” she said, turning to Big Mac and flashing him a small grin. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, he’s a nice fellow and all, but… yeah.” She trailed off.

Big Mac shrugged his massive shoulders. “Yup.”

The sound of hooves treading on ground met their ears and they turned to see Applejack approaching, her eyes widening at the sight of Spitfire. The pegasus gave her a smile, chuckling as she came nearer. “Huh, small world.”

“I’ll say!” Applejack exclaimed. “Nice to see ya again! How’re the Wonderbolts treating ya?”

“No different than usual,” Spitfire replied. “Anyway, I’ve taken up enough of your time. I guess I’ll be back tomorrow to see these amazing pies of yours.”

“Ee—” Big Mac’s response was cut off by an orange hoof being shoved over his mouth. He turned to see his sister now standing beside him, now wrapping her forehoof around his shoulders.

“Actually,” Applejack began, “Since, Big Mac here needs to go into town to pick up some flour, I’m sure he’d be happy to show you around town! Won’t you, Big Mac?”

“Err…” Big Mac stammered even as he felt his sister practically shoving him towards Spitfire.

“Oh, I wouldn’t want to be a burden.”

“Nonsense!” Applejack said. “You’re an esteemed guest! And besides, Big Mac was heading into town anyway. He’ll show you all the nicest places around!”

“…Yup?” Big Mac murmured, giving Spitfire an awkward grin.

The surface of Ponyville Lake was still, mirroring the purples and dark blues of the twilight sky above. The setting sun had retired behind the mountain for the day, but the western sky was still lit in fiery, if fading, tones that were reflected in the colors of the mare Big Macintosh was standing beside.

“That’s really pretty,” Spitfire commented.


A long silence descended over them, broken only by the croak of frogs and the buzz of insects flying over the water. A soft breeze passed through the valley, like a gentle sigh, rustling the yellowing leaves in the trees. The creak of a windmill drifted from the nearby town.

Spitfire rubbed one of her forelegs with the other, glancing down at the shore of the lake. Big Mac went from looking at Spitfire, to looking at the town, to looking out at the lake, his eyes desperately searching for a target that he wouldn’t feel uncomfortable staring at.

“Sorry,” Spitfire blurted out, finally breaking the silence. “I’m not that good at the small talk. I tend to just give orders. Conversations are really more Soarin’s thing.”

Big Mac nodded. He pawed at the ground for a moment before opening his mouth. Then he closed it. Then he opened it again. After a few more false starts, he finally articulated words. “Err…”

“What am I even doing here?”

Spitfire sighed, throwing Big Mac a quick glance before continuing. “Sorry, it’s just… sometimes I think I must be the biggest idiot in the world. Recruiting season at the academy is over and I don’t have to go on tour for another few days. So I finally get a break from my work, and what do I do? Let my co-worker convince me to tag along with him. So now I get to be reminded of work on my vacation.” She turned to Big Mac, giving him a wry grin. “I must be pretty stupid, right?”

The stallion shook his head, smiling. “Nope.”

Spitfire laughed, a high, sharp noise that rang through the air. “That’s nice of you to say, even if you’re completely wrong.”

The pegasus went back to staring out at the lake. “Anyway, sorry to unload that on you. I’m sure you’ve got better things to do that listen to me whine all day.”

Big Mac put a hoof to his chin, frowning slightly, before smiling and shaking his head. “Nope.”

Spitfire let out a loud snicker, quickly covering her mouth with a hoof. It took her a moment to recover, and when she did she gave the stallion a broad grin. “I like you. You’re easy to talk to. Hey, if you were a pegasus, you’d probably make a good cadet. Oh, and there I go thinking about work again,” she muttered, rolling her eyes.

She inhaled deeply before letting out her breath slowly. “So… what do you do around here for fun?”

Big Mac considered this for a moment. “Work.”

Spitfire raised an eyebrow at this. “Okay… anything else?”

Another moment of silence passed for a moment before Big Mac shook his head. “Nope.”

The pegasus let out a snort, once again collapsing into snickers and this time joined by the hearty chuckles of Big Mac. “Sounds like you could use a vacation yourself,” she remarked, thumping him on the shoulder. It was a mark of her strength that the huge stallion actually felt it.

“You know, this really is beautiful,” Spitfire said, waving a hoof in the direction of the lake. The last rays of the sun were quickly vanishing over the horizon as twilight consumed the sky. She rubbed a hoof over the sandy shore. “I always just thought of lakes as… you know, water. Just water. Once in a while, we come by and suck some out for Cloudsdale, and that’s it. I didn’t really think there was more to it than that.”

Big Mac nodded, and after some consideration picked up a small, flat rock with his teeth. He drew his head back, then whipped it forward as he let go of the stone, watching with satisfaction as it skipped twice before dropping beneath the surface with a soft “ploonk!

“Nice one,” Spitfire remarked. “Here, let me try.” She picked up a rock of her own and threw it in, but it promptly sank into the water with a loud splash. “…Shoot.”

“Here.” Big Mac nudged a small, flat stone towards Spitfire, who took it in her mouth and gave it a strong throw. Her aim was off, though, as she wound up flinging the rock at the shallow water near her hooves. The resulting splash caught her, drenching her face.

Spitfire grumbled while Big Mac let out a snort. At a glare from the pegasus, his face promptly scrunched up and he avoided her gaze. But after a moment, her stern façade broke and she let out a snicker of her own before the two broke out into laughter.

“Okay, I’ll leave the skipping to you,” Spitfire laughed, shaking the water from her mane. “I’ll just throw them in.” At that, she picked up another small rock, but this time lobbed it with a forehoof. The two of them watched it sail through the air in a high arc before landing with a tiny splash far out from the shoreline. “Let’s see you beat that,” she said, throwing Big Mac a cocky grin.

The stallion returned the grin and trotted over to where a stone the size of his fetlock sat slightly elevated above the surface of the lake. With a great wind-up, he pulled back one of his hindlegs and smashed his hoof into the stone, sending it hurtling over the lake. Spitfire watched with her mouth agape as the rock landed halfway across the lake, sending a huge splash in the air and scattering a nearby flock of geese that had otherwise been enjoying a quiet evening. Their angry honks resounded through the air as they took flight for safer environs.

“I may not be keeping track, but that’s gotta be some kind of record,” the pegasus said with awe. Big Mac gave her a satisfied smile.

A loud yelp rang out from the opposite shore, accompanied by the familiar honks of geese. In the distance, Spitfire and Big Mac could make out the blue streak of a pegasus racing through the sky, being pursued by a mass of large, honking birds. Behind them, a distinctly rainbow-colored streak raced after them, yelling something incoherent from this distance.

“Uh oh,” Spitfire muttered, lifting a hoof to cover her sheepish grin before turning to Big Mac. “I think now would be a good time to pick up that flour of yours.”

“Eeyup!” Big Mac exclaimed, leading the pegasus in their flight from the scene of their misdeed, the both of them laughing all the way into town.

“It’s not funny, Spits,” Soarin grumbled, his face and coat now covered in nicks, scratches, and several small bandages.

“I didn’t say anything,” Spitfire said, flashing the blue pegasus an innocent smile. The two of them were once again standing at the entrance to Sweet Apple Acres, now enjoying the warm morning sunlight on their coats.

“Yeah, but you were thinking it,” Soarin grumbled, idly scratching at one of his bruises. Nearby, Big Mac was assembling the mobile stand the Apple family used to sell their goods while Applejack and Granny Smith made trips back and forth between the stand and the farmhouse, carting trays of steaming pastries and pies with them.

“It’s just a good thing Rainbow Dash knew where to find that Fluttershy pony,” Soarin continued. “Who knows what those geese would’ve done otherwise…” He suppressed a shudder while Spitfire and Big Mac shared a look before quickly turning away, whistling loudly.

“But it’s okay,” he went on, his mouth watering at the sight of the pies Applejack was carrying on her back. “It’ll all be worth it, once I taste that wonderful pie.”

“Soarin, you’re drooling again.”

The blue pegasus merely gargled in response. Soon, bits passed between hooves and Soarin was snout-deep in a fresh apple pie, scarfing it loudly and moaning with pleasure through bulging mouthfuls of piping hot apple filling.

Applejack watched on uneasily for a moment before leaning towards Spitfire. “Uh… is he okay?” she whispered.

“Oh, this is nothing. You should’ve seen him at the Cloudsdale Custard Competition. He nearly passed out on the spot.”

“Mmf frmm eff goof,” Soarin mumbled between bites, his face still buried within the depths of the pie tin.

“Well, glad you like it!” Applejack said with a chortle before turning to her brother. “Alright, Big Mac, your turn to take the stand into town.”

“Eeyup,” he replied, harnessing himself to the front of the stand while Applejack secured the last of the treats inside. He was just about to start for town when he noticed Spitfire standing beside him.

“Uh… this might sound weird, but…” She cleared her throat and leaned closer, speaking in hushed tones. “Do you think I could tag along with you? I just want to get away from Soarin for a bit.” The noisy sounds of wolfing down pie filled the air, and there were still several untouched pies sitting on the ground that the blue pegasus had yet to touch. “He’s gonna be like this for a while.”

Big Mac chuckled before giving Spitfire a wide grin. “Eeyup.”

Wonderbolts autographs! Meet Captain Spitfire! Free autograph with purchase of apple pastry!

Big Mac was astonished. It had all started out simply enough. He had set up shop in the middle of the square and, just like always, got a few regulars who were used to the cart’s presence. But then Spitfire, seeing an opportunity to bring in some business, raced into a costume shop on the edge of the square and emerged a moment later wearing a full Wonderbolts outfit. Suddenly, the attention of everypony in the square was on them and Spitfire was barking out orders.

“Line up here on the right!” she commanded. “Single file, no pushing, no shoving, foals to the front! Buy your apple treat here on the right, then get in line for autographs on the left! Hey! You with the mohawk! No cutting in line! Single file, ponies!

“Hey, wait a minute!” called out a green-coated stallion with red hooves and a blonde mane, who was pointing at Spitfire. “Those aren’t captain stripes on your uniform! The captain has two yellow stripes and a red stripe, not three yellow ones!” He placed a hoof on his chest and offered the crowd a smug grin. “Every true Wonderbolts fan knows that.”

Spitfire yanked off her mask and glared down at the stallion, revealing a face that would have been instantly familiar to anypony who read a recent issue of Wonderbolts Weekly. “I left my actual outfit at home and this is the best I could do on short notice. Now do you want your stupid autograph or not?”

The stallion gulped and withered before her gaze. “Yes, ma’am,” he hurriedly mumbled.

On a normal day, the Sweet Apple Acres stand would still have a few unsold leftovers even after being open all morning. On this day, it sold out within fifteen minutes. Big Mac hurried to serve the growing crowd of ponies, watching on in amazement at the growing pile of bits beneath the counter.

“…and there!” Spitfire announced, stamping her inked hoof on a photograph of herself for the last pony in line. The pony in question grabbed it and raced away, squealing loudly as she did so. Spitfire glanced at the clock tower in the distance. “Twenty minutes!” she crowed. “That’s a new record!”


“Heh, looks like you made a good haul there,” Spitfire said, pointing at the small mountain of gold bits that Big Mac was scooping up in several burlap sacks. “Just be grateful there aren’t any trademark lawyers around here to see that.”

Big Mac raised an eyebrow at this, and Spitfire leaned towards him, speaking in a hushed tone. “Well, strictly speaking, we’re not allowed to charge for our own autographs, at least not without permission from our sponsors. And they wouldn’t be willing to give it to us anyway, because they have exclusive rights to all our autographed merchandise.”

“Oh,” Big Mac replied.

“Yeah, it’s all nonsense,” she went on, leaning back in her seat. “And the sponsors are a nightmare to deal with. Just be grateful if you can go your whole life without meeting Patent Suit. That guy is an ass—“

“Ahem.” Spitfire and Big Mac jumped at the sound of a voice coming from behind them and turned to see a middle-aged, gray-coated stallion with flat, graying hair, thick-rimmed glasses, and a very severe expression on his face. Rather than a saddlebag, he wore a briefcase on his side, and on his flank was a mark of a sheaf of documents.

“Uh… hi, Patent!” Spitfire said, her tone suddenly very high-pitched. “Nice to see you again! I, um, was just talking about how you’re such an… ass-tounding gentlecolt! Heh heh! Heh…”

Patent’s eyes narrowed as he gazed over the bridge of his glasses at Spitfire, and Big Mac suddenly felt himself shiver uncontrollably and his blood run cold.

Two weeks suspension?!

In retrospect, Big Mac felt he should have known it was too good to be true. The encounter with Patent Suit had ended with him confiscating every bit they had made – for “evidence” – and with Spitfire receiving a citation. And while losing what amounted to roughly two days’ worth of income had been bitterly disappointing for Big Mac, his frustration was nothing compared to Spitfire, who was currently ripping her citation to shreds.

“Two weeks suspension! Me! Who do they think they’re dealing with?! I’m the Captain of the Wonderbolts!” she shouted, hurling the shreds of paper to the ground. “I worked for years to get where I am now! I’m not some celebrity or stunt flyer they get to just push around!”

She yanked off the Wonderbolts costume she was wearing, forcefully tugging at its folds before balling it up and hurling it at a nearby dumpster. However, it unfurled in mid-air and lost momentum, instead coming to a rest atop the head of a gray-coated, blonde-maned pegasus who happened to be fluttering past at that very moment. She paused to pull off the blue fabric and look at it for a moment before gasping with delight and racing off.

“I swear, I hate this job sometimes!” Spitfire yelled, throwing her forehooves into the air. She paused in the middle of the street to bury her face in her hooves and let out a muffled scream.

Big Mac stood at her side for an uncomfortable moment, looking around uneasily, before slowly lifting a forehoof and patting the pegasus on the shoulder. He gently pressed his hoof against her coat, feeling the tenseness of her muscles slowly ease.

Finally, she sighed and stood up, looking at Big Mac. “Okay, I don’t hate my job. In fact, there’s a lot of stuff I really love about it. It’s just all this paperwork and contract stuff that drives me nuts. They didn’t tell me about that back at the academy.”


“Well, I guess it could be worse. The academy doesn’t come back into session for another month, so the suspension won’t affect me there. But now I’m gonna miss the first round of races.” She paused, then added, “And don’t worry, I’ll make it up to you for losing those bits.”

Big Mac shook his head. “No th—“

“Oh, no no no,” Spitfire said quickly. “I insist on making up for it. It was my fault you lost them, so it’s my responsibility to pay up.”

“But—“ Big Mac was interrupted by a yellow hoof being forcefully shoved into his chest.

“No buts! I can work for it, and now I’ve got a two week mandatory vacation. I have no reason not to help you out here. In fact, I want to help you out.” She removed her hoof from Big Mac’s chest and held it out in front of him. “So what do you say? I won’t take no for an answer!”

Big Mac gazed down at Spitfire’s extended hoof, silently considering her.

Over the next week, Spitfire would begin each day by waking up at the crack of dawn and flying to Sweet Apple Acres. The Captain of the Wonderbolts had taken to sleeping on a nearby cloud at night and helping Big Mac on the farm during the day. Even after Soarin left town for the Wonderbolts’ shows, with Rainbow Dash in tow as an enthusiastic audience member, Spitfire stayed in Ponyville and continued what had become a daily routine.

At first, each morning went the same. Spitfire would arrive at the farm and Big Mac would insist she had worked off her debt. The pegasus would insist otherwise, and without any hard figures to back up either of their claims, she would win these arguments by sheer force of personality. So she continued working, aiding the stallion with whatever he was working on that day.

And after a few days, Big Mac stopped protesting.

“So let me get this straight. You earth ponies rake up the fallen leaves into piles, and then… foals jump into them?”


Spitfire and Big Mac were standing in one of the many orchards of Sweet Apple Acres, surrounded by the glorious colors of autumn. The bright red fruits coupled with the many yellows and oranges of the leaves seemed to reflect the coats of the two ponies present. Though the trees were still full of foliage, many leaves had already fallen to the ground. Spitfire and Big Mac each carried a rake, and several large piles of leaves, about as high as the Wonderbolt captain was tall, dotted the landscape around them.

Spitfire stepped next to one of the piles and picked up one of the leaves with her rake, holding it in front of her face to examine it closely. “I don’t see the appeal. They’re all… brown and crinkly. Not soft like clouds. They don’t really look like they’d be much fun to jump into.”

Big Mac suddenly felt an overwhelming compulsion to illustrate the virtues of jumping headlong into large piles of leaves. Being a stallion of few words, he knew he would not be able to persuade another pony by oral argument, so he opted for a simpler and more effective approach: he lifted a forehoof and gave Spitfire a quick shove. With a yelp, the pegasus vanished into the pile, throwing up a cloud of leaves in her wake.

Spitfire’s head emerged out of the top of the pile, giving Big Mac a stern glare, but the stallion was laughing too heartily to think anything of it. After a few seconds, a sly grin crossed her face. “Oh, you will pay for that!” Her hooves promptly went to work, struggling to fling hooffuls of leaves at him, but none made it very far through the air before fluttering to the ground, falling far short of Big Mac. This caused him to only laugh harder.

“New plan!” Spitfire shouted, spreading her wings and launching upwards, raining leaves down beneath her. A few quick twists and turns through the air were all that was needed to lift the pile into a swirling mass of leaves. Big Mac’s eyes widened at the sight of a huge vortex of autumn colors bearing down on him before he was buried beneath their mass.

A shrug of his shoulders was all that was needed to disturb enough of the pile to clear his vision, and it was to see Spitfire holding a hoof to her mouth, trying to hide her smile before she gave in and burst out laughing. Her joy proved infectious and Big Mac soon joined in.

“Okay, I may have gone a little overboard,” Spitfire remarked, looking around at the mess of leaves that littered the ground, covering what had previously been raked earth.

“Eeyup,” Big Mac chortled, stepping out of the pile and shaking off as many leaves as he could. He looked at Spitfire and noticed a brown leaf sticking out prominently in the sweep of her mane. “Here,” he murmured, leaning down to grasp the leaf between his teeth and gently pull it out of her hair.

“Oh, thanks.” Spitfire gave him a sheepish grin, before taking a step towards him. “Uh, you got one too.” She stood up on her hindlegs, planting her forehooves on his broad shoulders to reach up towards his back. Big Mac felt the volume of her mane brush against the side of his face, tickling his cheek. Her teeth tugged at something that had wedged itself in the hairs on the back of his neck. A sudden shiver went down his spine at the feeling of her breath on his coat and her firm hooves pressing into his skin.

Her head reemerged in front of him, her mouth now holding the leaf she had pulled from his mane. Her hooves remained on his shoulders as their gazes met, their snouts mere inches apart. From this distance, Big Mac could make out every detail of her face: every individual eyelash, every strand of hair that made up the majestic sweep of her mane, every little vein in the brown leaf she held between her lips.

Spitfire opened her mouth, letting the leaf fall slowly to the ground, forgotten to the two ponies present. A long moment passed in silence before she spoke, never pulling her gaze away from Big Mac’s.

“That just happened, didn’t it?”

Big Mac took a few seconds to respond, still holding the stem of his leaf between his teeth. “Eeyup.”

The validity of what they had just experienced confirmed, they stood still for another long moment. Big Mac could feel Spitfire’s breath, warm upon his snout. Another shiver went down his spine and traveled down his legs, and judging from the way her hooves shook ever so slightly against his shoulders, she was shivering too.

“You…” Spitfire paused, closing her mouth and briefly licking her lips. “…You don’t mind, do you?”

Another long moment passed in silence, save for the rustle of the leaves around them.


“Big Macintosh!” Applejack called out, trudging through one of the far orchards. The sun had already set behind the horizon, casting the sky in twilight. The mare gave a huff before shouting, “Where in the hay are you?! It’s getting late!”

The crunch of hooves stepping upon fallen leaves met her ears and she turned to see Big Mac and Spitfire coming over a hill and walking towards her, trotting side-by-side. Applejack tapped a hoof on the ground as they approached. “And where have you been, Big Mac? Dinner’s getting cold and I’m out here lookin’ for ya!”

“Sorry, Applejack,” Spitfire answered. “We just got distracted is all.”

Applejack raised an eyebrow. “Distracted by what?”

Spitfire and Big Mac shared a look, grinning. “Oh, nothing,” the pegasus said. “We just started fixing up each other’s manes.” Before Applejack could formulate a response, Spitfire continued in a smooth, casual tone, “Oh wow, would you look at the time? ‘Til tomorrow, Big Mac.”

“Eeyup,” he replied, watching Spitfire spread her wings and quickly take to the air, soon vanishing behind the trees of the orchard.

Applejack watched her leave before turning back to her brother, a quizzical look on her face. “Do you wanna explain what that was all about?”

Big Mac wore a smug grin on his face as he continued towards home, not bothering to look at his sister as he walked right past her, offering an answer that translated roughly as “Wouldn’t you like to know?


“What?” Applejack shouted at his retreating form. “What’s that supposed to mean? Hey, I’m talking to you! Y’all get back here, mister!”

There was a spring to Big Mac’s step the next morning. He barely felt the nip of the cool morning air as he headed out into the orchard to gather apples. The bright, cheery colors of the leaves around him only lifted his spirits even further as he whistled while he worked, bucking the plentiful harvest from the trees.

However, the day went on, and still Big Mac was working alone in the orchard. He glanced up at the sky, noticing the sun already climbing high above the mountain to the east. At each rustle of the leaves and each breath of wind, he would look up to see if it would be accompanied by the flap of wings. When he started missing tree trunks in his attempts to buck them, Big Mac finally abandoned the task and left the orchard, searching for any sign of Spitfire.

It wasn’t a long search. His wanderings took him near the barn, where the sound of raised voices met his ears. Big Mac crept along the side of the barn, peering around the corner to see Applejack and Spitfire facing each other.

“Look, I just wanna know what’s going on between you two,” Applejack said.

“I don’t think it’s any of your business,” Spitfire muttered.

“Like hay it’s none of my business!” the earth pony shouted. “This is my brother we’re talking about here!”

“He’s a grown stallion, Applejack.”

“He may be grown up, but he’s a shy one. And I’m just looking out for him.”

Big Mac remained hidden behind the barn, listening intently. He felt the urge to take that step forward, to reveal his presence and put an end to this argument, but his hooves wouldn’t move.

“He’s real sincere,” his sister continued. “And I need to know you’re doing right by him.”

“What do you take me for?” Spitfire exclaimed. “Some undependable flake who just runs out on ponies? I am a Wonderbolt—“

“Exactly!” Applejack yelled. “You’ve got shows to do and an academy to run! You gotta go places where Big Mac can’t follow. So what are you gonna tell him when you have to leave?”


Big Mac closed his eyes and gritted his teeth, his mind screaming at itself. “Get out there. Get out there. Stop this.

Applejack’s voice was low and threatening. “Nopony is closer to me than my brother. So don’t you dare do wrong by him, y’hear?”

Big Mac heard the flap of wings, and when he opened his eyes and looked around the corner he saw Spitfire flying away. His felt his legs finally start moving beneath him as he opened his mouth and cried out, but the Wonderbolt was already too far away to hear him. Somepony who did hear him, however, was Applejack, who spun around and stared wide-eyed at him.

The stallion could only watch Spitfire vanish into the distance, becoming a speck in the sky before passing beyond a nearby hill. Once she left his sight, Big Mac turned towards his sister, leveling a fierce glare which caused Applejack to back away a few steps.

“I, uh, guess you overheard, huh?” she mumbled. When Big Mac’s frown hardened, her tone became defiant. “Hey, don’t look at me like that! I’m just looking out for ya!”

The two siblings glared at each other for a moment before Big Mac closed his eyes and sighed. His expression softened and he walked up to his sister, reaching out a forehoof before pulling her in a tight hug.

“Oof!” came Applejack’s muffled grunt before she grinned and returned the hug. “You big softie. This is exactly why I have to keep an eye on ya.”

"Hmph." The corner of Big Mac's lip curled upward while he pulled her closer. “I can take care of myself.” Applejack’s ears folded back against her head and she hugged him a little tighter before they finally broke apart. They stood at hoof’s length, looking at each other.

A small smile crept onto Applejack’s face, and she thumped him on the shoulder. “Y’all be careful now.”

Big Mac nodded, then turned away and started galloping in the direction that Spitfire had taken off in.

Big Macintosh’s search took him the better part of the day. He ran after Spitfire in the direction of town, asking anypony he met along the way if they’d had seen her. After checking every street and business, he circled around the edge of town and still had no luck. It was only towards the end of the day that he thought to check the lake.

As he approached the shore, he heard a familiar voice. “Spitfire, you idiot!

He peered around a thicket of trees to see the pegasus standing on the shoreline, hurling a rock into the water. “You stupid, lousy…” she muttered aloud, even though she stood alone. Spitfire lobbed another rock in while Big Mac watched.

He stepped out from behind the thicket and cleared his throat, causing Spitfire to whip around. They stood there, staring at each other, with the pegasus pawing at the ground.

“Uh… look,” Spitfire began, staring down at her hooves. “I’ve been thinking, and… well, I’m just not sure this is going to work out. I’ve got stuff to do and you’ve got stuff to do, and… It’s not ‘cause I don’t like you!” she hurriedly added. “It’s not you, it’s me and… oh geez, this is sounding so trite.”

She sighed and planted a forehoof on the bridge of her nose. Big Mac moved towards her and wrapped a forehoof around her, pulling her into a hug. “I understand,” he rumbled.

Spitfire stiffened for a second, initially reluctant to return his warmth. But her muscles slowly relaxed in his embrace and she nestled her head against his chest. “Your sister is right; you are sincere. That just makes me feel that much worse for doing this.”

She pulled away from him, taking a step back as she looked upon him. “Look, I’ve done something wrong here. This whole trip was just supposed to be a distraction from work. Nothing more. And then you got rolled into it and… I’ve never been any good at this touchy-feely stuff. So I didn’t stop to think that maybe this meant more than a vacation to you.”

Big Mac bit his lip and looked down at his hooves, causing Spitfire’s face to fall and her ears to fold against her head. She sighed, then turned away to look out over the lake. “You know, I always used to wonder why ponies made such a big deal out of break-ups. It just seemed like part of the drill: you got together, you had your fun, and then you went your separate ways. No need to make a big drama out of it. I guess I thought I’d just handle it like giving orders; ‘We’re done, end of story.’ Shows what I know.”

Silence fell between the two. A cold rush of wind passed over the lake, stripping the trees of more of their leaves and sending a chill through both ponies. Dead brown leaves, stripped of their color and vibrancy, drifted past them. Spitfire turned back to Big Mac, their manes whipping around their faces as they looked upon each other.

“So… now what?” she said, her tone soft and gentle.

Big Mac took a moment to respond, and when he did he leaned down to nuzzle her head. “We enjoy this.”

Spitfire didn’t move at first, taking her time and letting out a low, long exhale before nuzzling him back. “Are you gonna be okay when I leave?”


“Are you sure?”

Big Mac took a few seconds to reply. “Eeyup.”

“Alright then.” Spitfire reached up with her forehooves and planted them on Big Mac’s shoulders, lifting herself up so that she and him were facing eye-to-eye. “I’ve got a few days left before I have to go. We’ll make the most of it.”

Their lips met, their bodies pressing against each other’s warmth, as if to defy the chilly wind that enveloped them.

Big Macintosh took a long draft of cider from his mug before letting out an easy sigh. He looked out over the orchards of Sweet Apple Acres, its trees now bare and their branches now stripped of leaves as winter’s chill came upon them. The fiery tones of the setting sun adorned the sky in front of them, reminding him of a certain mare he had just said farewell to. Besides him, Applejack leaned back against a wooden fence post, fiddling with the mug she held between her hooves.

“So… she left this morning?” she asked.


Applejack bit her lip before speaking again. “And… are ya feeling alright?”

Big Mac took another sip of cider. “...Nope.”

He paused, then turned towards his sister and gave her a small smile, communicating a different message: “But I’ll be okay.

She smiled in return, looking down at her cider mug. “I’m sorry for being nosy, it wasn’t my place. I just…” She swallowed. “I was afraid she wasn’t gonna be the right one for ya.

“But I want you to find the right one, Big Mac. I really do.”

Big Mac reached out a forehoof, pulling Applejack into a hug. She smiled, returning the hug. “Aw, now you’re making me be the big softie, aren’t ya?”

The stallion grinned broadly as he hugged his sister even tighter.


Return to Story Description


Login with