The Many Complications of Interspecies Romance

by HapHazred

Chapter 1: Splinters

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There was a theory in Equestria. It was a theory proposed by ponies with far too much time on their hooves, about a universe with more flexible rules than others. According to them, the universe, what with all the magic that made up its fabric, it had acquired elastic properties.

This was usually as far as the theory got. Most ponies snickered and left whatever scientist had proposed the theory to go home and return to do whatever it was he or she was doing before. Being friendless, mostly.

But if one listened to the theory all the way to the end...

The universe, they said, was similar to a river. It knew more or less how things were supposed to go. And the universe, being by its very nature old, tended to be quite conservative. It knew what everything was supposed to be simply by dint of knowing what it had always been. Earth ponies were on the ground. Badgers were underground. Alicorns lived in big shiny houses.

And the elastic properties of magic tended to keep things this way.

But sometimes, something would happen to the universe. Something that stretched the rubber band that was reality too far for comfort.

Two ponies fell in love when they weren't supposed to.

The universe was very, very confused, and the two ponies involved weren't much more knowledgeable on the matter.

The cries of anguish echoed through the mid-afternoon air, taking everypony by surprise. Screams were for midnight, or inside tall mansions with too many easily-weaponizable candlesticks. Not mid-afternoon, two hours after a heavy lunch. You’d be just getting back into the swing of things. In just fifteen minutes, you'd take a quick coffee break. It wasn't the right time for screams. It wasn't convenient.

Applejack, the pony who had screamed in the first place, didn't care what anypony else thought was convenient. She was hurt, on her side, clutching her hind leg. Tears borne of confusion and pain welled up in her eyes.

Rainbow Dash was the second pony on the scene. She would have been first, only Big Macintosh had been there when the accident had taken place. Apples red like bloody roses were fallen around Applejack. Her older brother was wide-eyed and panicking, unsure what had happened, and why his sister was crying in pain.

In fact, he reacted so slowly he'd later swear Rainbow had gotten there first, regardless of the facts.

"Are y'all right?" he asked, half-hoping that seeing Applejack attempt to buck a tree and collapsing was merely a trick of the light.

"My hoof!" Applejack cried, trying to stretch her body in ways that wouldn't work to look at her injury. Rainbow wrapped her fore-hooves around her withers, pulling her back and holding her still.

"Hey, don't move so much. What is it? Broken hoof?"

"It hurts..." Applejack winced, struggling against Rainbow's grip. Despite the pegasus’ physical strength, she almost broke free.

"Hey, Big Mac, check out her hoof," Rainbow instructed. To Big Mac's surprise, she displayed remarkable calm at seeing her hard-as-nails friend writhing in pain.

"Somethin's... stuck in my hoof..."

Rainbow bit her lip as she tried putting her foreleg on top of Applejack's head in an effort to soothe her. "Hey, check if one of her horseshoe nails came out badly, or something. I don't know." To Applejack, she simply began running her hoof over her mane. "Keep calm, and don't move. I've been injured a few times myself, and it's kind of like scratching an itch. Except way worse."

Applejack grunted. Rainbow wasn't sure whether that meant she'd try or not, but it was the best promise she'd get.

Big Mac looked up from examining Applejack's injured hoof with a worried look. "I don't understand..." he muttered. Rainbow frowned.


"Splinter," he said, his voice deeper than even its usual bottom-of-the-sea pitch.

Applejack closed her eyes. "That ain't normal..." she said through gritted teeth.

Rainbow wasn't entirely sure what to say.

"A splinter?"

Big Mac nodded. "I don't believe it either, but it's right there..."

"I don't get it," Rainbow said. She turned to Applejack. "Don't move," she snapped, and got to her hooves, trotting around to Applejack's other end to get a good look. She shook her head. "You've got to be kidding."

"I know," the stallion replied. "Apples don't get splinters, but... I don't know what to tell you..."

"No," Rainbow snapped, "I mean stop being such a big baby. It's a splinter, a tiny piece of wood. I've gotten them all the time."

Big Mac shook his head. "Listen, I don't know what weird pegasi thing you got, but splinters are rare. Apples ain't had them in generations. The only time we heard 'bout them was in Granny Smith's old tales."

In the meanwhile, Applejack did her best not to move, which is difficult when two ponies are fighting over your hind leg.

"...and anyhow, we ain't got no time to argue," Big Mac said. "My sister needs medical attention."

"...get it out..." Applejack said, her face twisting in a way that would have frightened even the bravest of small foals. Rainbow shoved Big Mac out of the way, determined to settle the matter there and then.

"'Kay. I need you to keep very still, right?"

Applejack nodded.

"Good. Now, trust me. This is just going to sting a tiny bit." She looked into Applejack's eyes with the hint of a smile. "You trust me, right?"

Before Applejack had a chance to change her mind, Rainbow bit the end of the splinter sticking out the frog of her hoof, and pulled. The shard of wood slid out of the hoof with only a small amount of resistance, leaving a small, rough hole where it used to be.

Applejack winced.

"Hey, you kept still," Rainbow said, surprised. "I'd have thought you'd kick me for sure." She held up the splinter in her hoof. "See? It's out. You're all good."

"No," Big Mac said, "she ain't 'all good'."

Applejack clutched her recently 'injured' hoof, unable to quite believe the pain was over. Rainbow examined the splinter.

"Well, I suppose it was a big-ish splinter..."

"Could it have been the tree?" Applejack asked, before sniffing loudly. Rainbow tilted her head.

"Well, where else would a splinter have come from?"

"She means if the tree had meant to do that," Big Mac explained.

Rainbow rolled her eyes. "Listen, AJ, you know I l— like you, and all, but it's just a teeny, tiny splinter. It's nothing to worry about. I got my first when I was three."

"I got my first just now," Applejack muttered. "Is it... okay?"

"I dunno, sis'," Big Mac replied.

"It's just like a paper-cut. You ever got one of those?"

Applejack gave Rainbow a look. "Well, yeah, but that's different."

Rainbow frowned. "How so?"

"Apples and trees have... well, an understandin'," Applejack explained. "We take care of 'em, and help 'em grow, and in exchange they help us out."

Rainbow raised her eyebrow. "Seriously? You believe in that nonsense?" Applejack did her best to wipe her eyes, which was a strange sight for Rainbow to see. Applejack never cried. In the same way as getting mugged by a puppy, your brain failed to believe it, even when it pulled out the switch-blade. Rainbow sighed. "O...kay, so you do. Let's just get you back home, shall we?"

Throughout town, the virus of information spread. Soon, everyone who had no business knowing about Applejack's splinter condition ended up knowing, regardless of whether anypony had actually told them or not. And they knew one thing for sure: Apples didn't get splinters.

Earth ponies everywhere grumbled ominously at the news, concerned for their most successful farmpony.

"Stands to reason, dunnit?" they'd say. "Udderwise, how'd they kick 'em trees all day long without gettin' peppered wif' 'oles in their 'ooves?"

"They got a way wif' trees, they do. Them trees know what's best for 'em."

Unicorns and pegasi, however, had different opinions.

"Just a splinter, 'innit? Who knew Apples was such a crybaby?"

Rainbow, not possessing the innate instinct of what was right and wrong that the other Earth ponies had, felt squashed between opinions. She was sandwiched between wanting to tell Applejack to grow a pair (so to speak), but also sitting down and fretting alongside her friend.

In the meantime, Twilight viewed the whole thing as a mystery that needed to be solved.

"How haven't the Apples ever gotten splinters?" she asked Rainbow when the pegasus arrived at Fort Friendship. "Surely it must be an occupational hazard, what with kicking trees, raising barns, rolling barrels, fixing carts..."

Rainbow held up her hooves. "Hey, I dunno. All I know is that it's got AJ freaked out, and you know what happens when Ponyville's most reliable and cool-headed pony gets freaked."

Twilight was about to answer, but she stopped herself just in time. "Actually, I don't. I've never seen her properly freaked."

"Ponies panic. When Pinkie or Rarity or you or even me go nuts, that's just business as usual. Applejack is supposed to be steady," Rainbow replied. "And frankly, she has me worried."

"It's not like you to worry about splinters, Rainbow."

"Normally, I don't. But I also normally don't see AJ writhing in a little ball of pain in the orchard," Rainbow said. "Usually that's me when she finds me eating her crops. The world feels backwards."

Twilight went serious, lifting her nose as she pondered Rainbow's words. "You're right. I don't know why, but there's a feeling of wrong-ness in the air."

Both ponies went silent for a few moments. Rainbow could have sworn she felt the temperature decrease... and she hadn't instructed the weatherponies to chill out.

The moment was interrupted by Spike.

"That might just be Owlysius. He's been sick again."

Twilight frowned. "Well... I suppose the only thing to do is examine the subject." She gave Rainbow a determined grin. "Tell Applejack I'd like her here as soon as she's able to walk again."

Rainbow nodded. "I'll carry her myself if I have to."

"Okay, so, you just lie down and do your best not to move."

"I'm gettin' the impression I'm told to not move a whole lot more'n usual..." Applejack commented, resisting the urge to shift her weight on the uncomfortable crystal slab. Nearby, her family watched her with eyes filled with concern.

"Is she one of 'em changeling scoundrels?" Granny Smith asked. "I wouldn't have thought they could trick me so well, but my eyes are goin', and she might've been replaced..."

Applejack snorted. "I'm still the same as ever. Thanks for noticin', Granny."

"Will she be all right?" Applebloom asked, worry flooding her voice. Twilight didn't reply.

"Twilight doesn't know anything yet," Rainbow declared. "Give her a second, kiddo'. I'm sure AJ'll be fine."

"Will this mean I'll get a splinter too?" Applebloom asked. "They sound pretty scary."

"They're not so bad," Rainbow said.

Twilight took out a magnifying glass and began examining Applejack's bad hoof. It had already mostly healed: only a small dimple in the frog let her know there had been a splinter in there at all. "Well, the tissue looks normal. Given that you've never had splinters before, I'd hypothesize that this is a problem that is magical in nature."

"Magic?" Rainbow asked, groaning. "Oh, great. It couldn't just be a particularly gnarly tree?"

"From what Applejack has said, she has kicked hundreds of trees... thousands. Not once has she gotten a splinter, and let's face it, with all the construction work on her barns, it'd be a miracle without magic intervention."

Rainbow looked at the floor, eyes going dark. "I hate magic."

Big Mac had gotten over his panic earlier and returned to his strong, silent self. Twilight frowned.

"Spike! I'd like for you to fetch the Pursuit Informatio, please! I might have questions to ask it."

Spike narrowed his eyes from the corner he stood in. "Twilight, remember the last time we dealt with an intelligent book?"

Twilight rolled her eyes and nodded. "Yes, but this time will be different."

"And the time before that, when Rarity almost remade all of Ponyville into a living gala?"

"Yes, Spike, but it could be helpful."

Applejack lay on her back, unsure what or who a Pursuit Informatio was. "Um..." she began.

"Just sit still, Applejack," Twilight said, and tapped the crystal table with her hoof. No sooner did she do so, that it began to glow. There was no denying it was definitely a colour, but they could never agree what colour it was. Green? Blue? Some new colour nopony had seen or would see ever again?

The one thing they could agree on was that it was magical.

"Hey! What's that doing to AJ?" Rainbow asked. Twilight waved her hoof.

"Just examining her. Like an X-ray, but without the harmful rays. Also, it's nothing like an X-ray," she said. "The Crystal Empire sent it. It fits in perfectly in the new castle, doesn't it?"

"Just hurry up. I don't think it's normal I can see through my own skin,"Applejack grunted.

Spike hurried into the chamber with a small, hoof-sized notebook in his claws. It looked old, tattered. Maybe it had been sat on a few too many times. It also smelled, but everypony was too polite to point that out.

Twilight took the tiny book in a levitation field, and opened it.

"Okay, so... what does that mean?" Twilight muttered, scanning Applejack with a critical eye. "Huh. That's odd."


"It's... um. Is there pegasus blood that runs in your family?" she asked Granny. The old pony shook her head.

"Nope. Never."

Twilight frowned. "Very odd indeed," she said. "What could be the cause for magic confusing a species with another?" Silence filled the room. Twilight looked up from the book, jaw hanging open. "I've never heard about that. Spike, get me the 'Rare Afflictions of Reality Bound Ponies and Plants'."

"What's with that book?" Rainbow asked.

"The Pursuit Informatio is a book that contains a portion of the fabric of the universe," Twilight said. "It acts as an encyclopaedia, of sorts. If encyclopaedias beamed knowledge to your brain without you having to actually understand the words."

Rainbow threw her hooves up. "Okay, don't tell me."

Spike returned with a book almost twice his size. "Here it is," he grunted, and slammed the book on the floor. Twilight smiled.

"Excellent, Spike. Thank you. Now, let's see here..."

"Won't ya'll tell us what's wrong with my granddaughter?!" Granny exclaimed. Twilight, with skills honed through years of being the smartest pony in the room, ignored her. She flicked through the pages with the speed of a veteran bookworm until she singled out an entry she found relevant.

"Ah ha! Looks like it's Tribe Magic Exposure," she declared. "It's when a pony's magic gets muddled. There are several possible explanations for this, among which are the magic/entropic theory and the elastic-universe theory. It's most typically caused when..." Twilight read, before trailing off. "Oh."


"Um, nothing serious, anyway. Can I... um, speak to Applejack alone?" Granny folded her hooves. Twilight grinned, a single bead of sweat dripping down her forehead. "I assure you, it's nothing to be overly worried about."

Granny slowly turned to leave, and Big Mac and Applebloom followed instantly.

"Um, actually, can Rainbow stay?" Applejack asked. "This sounds serious."


"Hey, it's fine. I can keep a secret," Rainbow said, and leapt over to her friend. Twilight sighed.

"Well... fine. I guess." She ran a hoof through her mane. "See, for some reason, your inner magic is getting confused. For some reason, it's starting to think you have... pegasus bits. Whilst there are several possible causes, the most common is... um, exposure to another pony type. In this case, pegasi."

Applejack frowned. "What do you mean, exposure? And how does that make my 'magic' confused?"

"Well, see, if your family and life have a long history of being, um, 'Earth pony exclusive', then the magic of the other pony you, um... are with, starts taking over, according to the magic/entropic theory. Or if you're more into the elastic universe theory, the universe simply doesn't 'get' why you'd... explore pegasi, and is trying to fix it as best it can."

"By 'explore', you don't mean, say, in the bedroom, in private?" Rainbow asked, her brow furrowing.

Twilight nodded.

Rainbow's face fell. "Oh."

"It's not very dangerous, really," Twilight went on. "It's just that it may come with little side effects that'll affect your usual Earth pony-ness. Your body knows what it should be, even if the magic doesn't, so you won't go around spouting wings or anything. It's just... keep an eye out for small changes."

While Twilight had been talking, Applejack's hoof managed to snake around Rainbow's own. It was a small gesture Twilight only became aware of when she finished talking.

"It ain't your fault, sugar," Applejack whispered, barely loud enough for Twilight to hear.

The gears in her brain began to slowly turn, gathering momentum and kinetic energy. Eventually, they reached a conclusion.

"Oh," she said. Perhaps she could have made a more eloquent statement, but then again, she had been taken somewhat by surprise.

"...if you say so," Rainbow replied, ignoring Twilight's realization.

Twilight began to back away. "Perhaps I should leave you two alone for a bit."

"No," Applejack said. "I'd love to have a minute free to speak to Rainbow alone, but I have some questions."

Rainbow began nursing Applejack's hoof as the Earth pony sat up straight, the garish wallpaper of guilt plastered over her face. Twilight took a deep breath.

"This is going to be awkward, isn't it?" she asked. Applejack nodded.

"Sorry, sugarcube," she said. "Is there anything we can do? Like, to compromise?"

"Like, maybe do, um... less often?" Rainbow asked, before running her hoof across her face. "Horseapples, this is awkward..."

Twilight shrugged. "Maybe. By the looks of things, if it's started, the only thing that will heal it would be stopping completely—"

"That ain't an option," Applejack replied almost immediately. "We're sticking together, and that's that. Besides," she went on, “it’s either her or some other pegasus. I’m not, er…”

Twilight ran her hoof through her mane again.

“AJ is pegasexual,” Rainbow finished. “And if she doesn't want to stop, then she won’t.”

The look the pair exchanged was quick, but said more than any amount of words could convey. For the slightest sliver of a second, Twilight was jealous. Not of either of them... but of what they seemed to have.

She was also jealous of their ability to hide it. Perhaps it was simply because she hadn't been looking, or they kept it under wraps very efficiently. Either way, Twilight hadn't thought secrecy would be their strong suit.

"In that case, you might just want to do things that remind you you're an Earth pony," she said. "Farming, being around trees, being around Earth ponies..."

"I already do that," Applejack said.

"Yes, but you should maybe try... feeling it more," Twilight said. "Magic is a very odd thing. It cares less about facts and more about intent."

Applejack rubbed her chin, losing herself in thought.

"I guess those little flying trips didn't help much either, huh?" Rainbow commented. Twilight shook her head.

"Probably not."

Throughout town, the virus of information spread. Soon, everyone who had no business knowing about Applejack and Rainbow did. They might not always know how that affected Applejack's mysterious splinter, or how it begun, but they all knew that the pair weren't just on friendly terms any more.

There was annoyance: they didn't like the idea they had been duped. There was a sentiment of encouragement: ponies liked it when other ponies were happy. Not too happy, mind... happy enough that they reminded them of what they had/could have, not so much that it was obnoxious.

Meanwhile, Applejack and Rainbow pondered.

"I, uh... didn't expect our friends to find out this way," Rainbow said, quietly. "I also... um..."

Speech felt heavy and unwieldy to Rainbow. She couldn't get it to work in quite the right way. Applejack leant to her side, her body brushing against Rainbow's own.

"It's fine. I didn't know either," she said. "In fact, if Twilight didn't know, we can assume nopony did."

"Yeah, but, well..." Rainbow sighed. "I guess I feel bad. I didn't expect things to be this way."

Applejack turned her eyes towards her downcast partner. The pegasus wasn't even looking down at her hooves. She was just looking... away. Somewhere else. Applejack wrapped her hoof around her waist and pulled her close, Rainbow's back pressing against her chest and stomach.

"Y'know, a few months ago we wouldn't have guessed any of this'd happen," Applejack said, pressing her lips against Rainbow's neck. "I'm fine with one or two side effects."

"Yeah, but... you know you don't have to do this if you don't want to, right?"

Applejack buried her muzzle into Rainbow's mane. "I don't back down from challenges."

"I know. I just don't want you getting hurt or anything," Rainbow said. "That'd just be uncool."

"Hurt?" Applejack asked, snickering. "Sugar', you said so yourself: it was just a splinter." She tightened her grip, Rainbow's fur and flesh rubbing against her own. "I've been hurt worse."

Elsewhere... or rather, everywhere, the universe stretched. Stretched to allow for something that didn't make sense.

How long until it snapped?

Author's Notes:

I hope you enjoyed this first chapter. Believe me when I say that it gets stranger. Chapter two is already up!

Out of context line from the next chapter:

I'm staying away from your butt for a while. By the sounds of things, you could stick a fully armed ninja in there.

Feel free to comment, and upvote. Both will help me loads. Have a good one!

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