Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 168

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Chapter 168

Well, seeing as how a crisis was just barely, and yet also obviously avoided, I figure I might as well see how the Apples are doing.

The walk to the orchard just seems to take longer and longer every time I attempt the trek. I ponder the idea of just asking AJ how they’re doing next time I see her but... Nah, might as well make it a bit more personal.

After a long time, I finally see the farmhouse, wondering how they expect anyone with less than four legs to make a trip like this. Oh well, I’m here and only a little tired. Might as well get their side of this story now that it’s all over.

As I arrive at the farmhouse, I see that the lights are on inside, the gentle flicker of candles revealing the shadowed silhouettes of the family within.

Well, as likely as it is that they are celebrating, I at least want this to be dealt with so we can just sweep this all under the rug. Knocking on the door it doesn’t take long for an answer.

Big Mac, looking as sedate as usual, greets me. “Hallo, Anthony. Watcha need?”

“Figured I’d see how things are, get her side of the whole story, she didn’t really get a chance to at the trial. Though being the accused it isn’t exactly a surprise... sorry, I... Court cases are a bit of a sore spot for me. Anyway, I wanna see what we can do to prevent this from happening again. From anyone.” I emphasize the last point to make sure he’s aware that I don’t think Applejack is scum or whatever.

“Ah’right. C’mon on in.”

I step inside and the smell of ‘inhabited animal house’ is just as prevalent as ever. Oh well, at least it’s better than Fluttershy’s place.

Granny Smith is asleep in the rocking chair by the fire, Big Mac sits down on the couch next to Applejack, and ‘Bloom is happily doodling with crayons on a piece of paper. Those crayons can’t taste good, right?

Well, if you don’t have hands I suppose. Still, I can’t imagine doing half the things these ponies do with their mouths. The only thing I haven’t seen them do is change a diaper... I’m willing to bet they’d draw the line there too.

“So, crisis averted I take it? Everything all better?” AJ doesn’t look me in the eye, but she at least doesn’t look too upset.

“Eeyup. Sorta.” Comes Mac’s response.

“Well, if I’m any indication, a bad experience takes quite a while to scab over. Don’t worry that things aren’t suddenly perfect just because it’s over. But I guess what I’m here for is to talk about why it’s not all perfect. Ponies seem to just let stuff go. What I’m seeing here looks more like a human response to nearly-avoided tragedy.”

“Well, Ah can’t say ah’m feelin’ a-okay, but Ah’ll be fine, Anthony. Ah just need to... let it settle. Earth Ponies hold on, y’know?”

“Well, I’m no therapist or psychiatrist, but humor me. You are only still in any kind of trouble on a purely technical level, Clark doesn’t even seem upset with you for what you said... what’s eatin’ at ya?”

AJ sighs, and leans against her brother with a pained face. “Ah just don’ know why Ah don’ like him. I mean, I know he’s lyin’ about something real important, and it just rubs me wrong!” She stops to take a deep breath, Mac having wrapped a tree-trunk-like foreleg around her shoulders. “Ah- Ah just don’ feel safe around him, and Ah don’ feel safe havin’ others around him neither.”

“But I do. He means more to me than just my best friend... he’s a lifeline. If he survived then maybe, just maybe... somehow my family did too. Or at least some of them. Him being here means there’s a possibility I haven’t really lost everything after all. I know he’s not the most trustworthy person out there, but neither am I. He’s made some... bad choices, I admit... but I understand why he made them. I want to fix him, so he doesn’t have to act like a demon anymore. And when you threatened him I... I could say I overreacted, but I really don’t think I did.”

“Ah understand. He’s like family to ya. Ah get that. Ah just don’ think Ah’ll ever feel comfortable around him. Ah’m sorry, but Ah’m not gonna lie.”

“Yeah, I know. And I get why. Frankly if it was any other circumstance, I’d agree with you. He’s really really messed up, it just doesn’t show that often. But if we kill him, we won’t get a chance to make him better. You don’t have to like him, but... just don’t hurt him or treat him like a rabid animal. He kinda is... but I’m sure we can do something about that... do you think we can?”

“Ah- Ah can’t promise that, Anthony. Ah can promise Ah won’t try to attack him again, but Ah won’t work with him.” AJ burrows her face into her brother’s shoulder, and I can see tears streaking his red coat.

“Well, I’m not gonna try and force you to like him, that’s just unfair. We should be glad that he doesn’t hate you, and move on from there. Alright?”

“Yeah... Ah can live with that. Ah’m sorry fer hittin’ you, Anthony, with that knee-strike. Wasn’t needed, and Ah coulda messed it up fer good if ah wasn’t careful.”

“Eh, I coulda done worse to you... we were both a little out of our minds there. If you’re sorry, then I am too. Let’s just try and keep anyone else from becoming a nazi. It never ends well.”

“Yeah. Hey, thanks fer comin’ by. How ‘bout ya stay fer dinner? Ah think a big, home-cooked meal would be good fer clearing the stress, right?” Applejack offers. A chorus of happy agreements comes from the other Apples and I.

Once dinner is over, I can tell that all the tension seems to have just left out the door. Feeling full and tired, I decide it’s time to head back. I bid the now much happier family goodbye and make my way back to Ponyville. Man, a warm meal like that, now I feel ready to sleep.

Not that much further... to the town limits that is. You know what? I’m just gonna... sleep on the grass. I get a little further and, as fate would have it, I end up by the schoolhouse and decide to just lay down in the grass like I did before.

As I’m sitting down, waiting to fall asleep, I see a mildly confused-looking stallion walking the nearly-deserted streets. He’s got a pale coat and a dark mane, and is looking rather suspicious in the late-evening moonrise. He keeps glancing at the houses, and I’m not sure what for. However, he’s not doing anything illegal, so I guess I don’t need to bother him, much.

Suspicious looking characters at least get the intimidation treatment. I stand up and it’s somewhat difficult with how tired I am, and seeing the moon rising makes me yawn. I amble over to the shady guy and get in front of him.

“Dunno who you are, don’t care. Whatever business you have, I’m not gonna be a part of unless you do something stupid. If you’re looking for a relatively uninhabited place to sleep and don’t mind not having a roof, there’s a nice little area over there.” I point towards the edge of Ponyville to the West near the Everfree forest. “‘Course if you do become a problem, I’m gonna have to burn your eyeballs out of their sockets ‘r whatever...” He looks nonplussed, but I don’t bother waiting for a reaction, I just head back to the field by the schoolhouse and just drop to the soft grass.

Really comfy. Next Chapter: Chapter 169 Estimated time remaining: 8 Hours, 42 Minutes

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