An Honest Life

This story is a sequel to The Mess We're In Flim was never one to argue with Flam. In fact, if the situation had been any different, they might have been able to work it out. But, fate being the fickle thing that it is had other plans. After a heated fight, they split up. There was no going back, the bridge was burned and the damage done. It soon becomes apparent that things are never as easy as they seem. Several failed attempts later, Flim is out of energy and ideas. Just when he's about to give up, a chance encounter with Applejack changes everything. Working beside the Element of Honesty was the opportunity he needed. If he could prove his sincerity to her, then nopony would question his desire for an honest life. But, as the days drag on, he realizes a truth that may just jeopardize everything. How can he prove his sincerity when he must constantly hide the truth?


3. A Fresh Start

Waking up would not have been so bad for Flim if he had not opened his eyes to see an irate Applejack standing over him. Flipping over, he stared back at her, cringing. "Yes?"

"Don't you 'yes' me! You have any idea what time it is?" She tapped her hooves impatiently against the dirt floor.

"Morning?" Admittedly that was not the best answer in Equestria, but Flim was tired. Before he could react, Applejack literally dragged out of the barn by his hind hoof. "Youch! Let go of me!"

"Fine." Applejack swung the pony unceremoniously to the earth. "Now let's get goin'. I ain't goin' to waste all day humorin' yer sensibilities."

"Yeah, yeah." Dejectedly, Flim followed after the mare. Late, are we? The sun had barely come up. His stomach grumbled uncomfortably, causing him to grimace. "So, are we going to eat something, your highness?"

"You missed breakfast." Applejack's gaze fell on Flim's visible ribs. "Well, we'll give you some lunch if yer good."

Flim rolled his eyes, "Your generosity is without bounds."

"That's right."

They kept walking for what felt like forever, pausing only long enough for Applejack to appraise a tree or two before moving on. Just when Flim was about to throw in the towel, they finally arrived at a small orchard with trees chock full of apples. "Well, that's unusual."

Applejack gave an are you serious look. "What in tarnation are you goin' on 'bout now?"

"Well, apples aren't ready for harvest until late summer or early fall." Flim puffed out his chest, confident that he at least knew that much.

Instead of the expected dumbfounded expression, Applejack snorted, rolling on the ground with laughter. "My, yer a might dull in the head. An yer cutie mark's an apple slice!"

"I know plenty of things about apples." Well, not really. But hey, I know more than Flam.

"You must be conked in the head if you think that apples can only be harvested in fall." Applejack stood, walking over to the nearest tree. With a knowing smirk, she bucked the tree, sending a cascade of apples into the baskets at its base. "These here are summer gold apples. They're ripe for the pickin' early in the summer and taste as sweet as honey."

"Really?" Flim levitated one to examine. Shockingly, the fruit did smell just like a jar of honey. "How'd they manage to make these?"

"Make them?" From the expression of horror on Applejack's face, Flim had said the wrong thing. She scooped up an apple from the basket, stroking it like a kitten. "Apples ain't made, they're grown."

Does it matter? He rolled his eyes, "Suit yourself."

Applejack cleared her throat. "I'll now demonstrate the proper way to buck apples. Walking over to the nearest tree, she eyed it for a few seconds then kicked it so hard that the thud echoed across the orchard. A cascade of apples rained down from the branches and nestled themselves neatly inside the baskets. She turned back to Flim, a wide smirk on her face. "An that's how you buck apples."

Flim nodded, taking a position by the nearest tree. In an attempt to emulate Applejack's form, he raised his hind legs and gave a powerful kick. Much to his dismay, the apples hung resolutely to their respective branches. Argh! Again and again he pounded against the trunk. A trickle of apples came down, tumbling hither and yon. It took six of his strongest kicks to clear the tree and only a small fraction of the apples actually landed in the baskets.

A loud laugh from Applejack drew Flim's glare. Wiping the tears from her eyes, she continued, "That's yer apple buckin'? Good gracious, I'd hate to see yer plowin'." With that she started to walk away. "Best get started. There's more than a few trees to clear. I'll stop you for lunch."

The mare is downright tyrannical. Flim was careful to wait until Applejack left, then he turned back to the trees. A simple yet brilliant thought crossed his mind then. Though she said she wanted the apples off the trees, she never exactly specified how. Lighting his horn, he began to levitate the fruit into baskets. Even he was surprised at how much easier that was. A lot to do my hoof, I'll have this done in three hours.

Repetition always had a way of making Flim think. For good or ill, his mind would race in circle after circle. Working in the orchard sent him back. Back to the time when he and Flam were as free and happy as any pony. What he would not give for that now.



"I would ask what you're doing, Flim, but in all honesty I don't want the answer." Flam stroked the tuft of hair he deemed to call a mustache thoughtfully.

Flim rolled his eyes, continuing to stretch out on the long grass. "I'm getting ready."

"Ready for what?"

"I don't know. Life, love, success, you take your pick brother of mine." In truth the only thing Flim was getting ready for was a good run. The day was perfect. Just warm enough to clear the dew but cool enough to get some deep lungfuls of morning air.

Flam raised an eyebrow, "Uh-huh." He looked towards the horizon where the sun was making its way into the sky. "So, do you think we'll make it to Las Pegasus by tomorrow?"

"Maybe, if you're not too slow." Flim savored the look of frustration on Flam's face. Though his brother was clever as anypony could be, he was hopelessly lazy when it came to physical activity. And he was slow. So terribly slow. What a shame. There was nopony he wanted to run with more than his brother. Flam knew that and would always refuse Flim's invitation. Better not to touch on the subject too long. "So, Flam, you think we made the right call?"

Flam began to levitate their overnight gear into their respective saddlebags. "Right call? What are you talking about Flim?"

"Leaving them." Flim felt a knot forming in his throat at the very thought. Though they loved their brothers, sisters, and parents, they knew it was time. It happened to Blackjack and Séance. But Mom and Dad never had to deal with two of their children going off at once. That was a blow Flim never wanted to give them. "Mom will be worried sick."

Flam was silent for a while, staring hard at the bags. His voice was soft and unsure, "Well, we're sixteen, Flim. It's not like we're colts. They know we know we can come home whenever. Besides, Blaire and Bjorn are there to watch the twins. So," He gave a less than confident grin, "I think they'll manage."

Yeah, but will we? Already, Flim felt a desperate tinge of loneliness. Not only was he missing their siblings, but the others that traveled with them. How would Cannonball and Highwire react to their best announcers being gone? How would the twins feel when they couldn't have their big brothers read them a bedtime story? What would their parents do for advertising? The thoughts kept swirling like dark clouds in his mind.

"Flim. Flim!"

Flim jerked awake from his daydream, staring up at Flam. Tears started to spill down his cheeks, "Sorry, I'm such a crybaby, Flam."

"Hey, it's okay, brother of mine." Flam patted him on the back. His eyes darted around their little campsite, apparently looking for a conversation piece. Then, he stood, holding out a hoof. "You going?"

"What? Walking?"

"No numskull. Running." Flam gestured grandly to the open field beyond. "I can tell you're itching for a good run."

Flim felt his heart leap at the possibility, but tried to remain cautiously optimistic. "But you hate racing me."

"Aw, well," He shrugged, "it's a nice day. I don't see the harm in a bit of morning exercise."

"Oh you are so on!" Flim trotted over to his makeshift start line. "All right, see that tree over there?"

Flam's eyes grew wide and he stared at his brother incredulously. "But that's a least a mile from here!"

"Easily. Closer to a mile and a quarter." Unconsciously, Flim's hooves began to prance in place. He could already feel the adrenaline coursing through his body. This was it, a real race with his brother. "I'm not going easy on you Flam, so I expect you'll give it your best."

Flam grimaced, "I'll try. But I know how fast you run."

"On my mark." Flim, pawed at the ground as he counted slowly, "One . . . two . . . three!" With a tremendous lurch, Flim pushed off from the starting line and down the grassy thoroughfare. Nothing in all of Equestria could compare to this feeling. As he soared across the earth, he felt his troubles fall far behind. Running was not just a game, it was an unbridled, primordial freedom that nopony could ever take away. That one fact was all the comfort Flim needed.



Applejack frowned as the sun beat mercilessly down on her coat. Certainly it was a nice day, but it had grown too hot for heavy labor. Undoubtedly, they would have to finish the orchard after lunch during the heat of the day. Urgh! Why in Equestria did I trust him with that? He's probably got two trees done by now.

As she neared the orchard, Applejack felt herself dreading what she would find. What she saw took her breath away. Each and every tree had been picked clean, without a single apple out of place. Lying in the shade, munching placidly on an apple was Flim. He waved a greeting, "Applejack. So good of you to come."

"Flim." She made her way to him, eyeing the baskets all lined up in neat little rows. "You did good. Did you just finish?"

"Indeed I did." He spun the apple in his magic before finishing it off with a crunch. "I took the liberty of eating a few. I hope you don't mind. I didn't get breakfast."

"That's fine." Applejack was too distracted to care. There was no way one skinny unicorn could have collected so many apples. No way in Equestria. She raised an eyebrow, eyeing him cautiously. "So, you got a lot of work done."


She tried her best at a casually indifferent tone, "How'd you do it?"

Flim rolled his eyes, levitating an apple from one basket into another. "I picked them like this. How else?"

"But . . . but I showed you how to apple buck!"

"Well yes, but it seems rather pointless to do it the hard way." Flim chuckled, getting to his hooves. "You see, if something can be done more efficiently with magic, why in Equestria should it be done without it?"

Applejack never wanted to slap a stallion so badly in her life. "Apple buckin's worked for years on this farm. Why should I do it any different?"

To her frustration, he gave a knowing smirk. "Because, dear Applejack, quality control."

"Huh? What are you goin' on 'bout now?"

"Simple." An apple levitated from one of the baskets beside Flim and one by the tree. "See these two apples? What do you notice?"

Really? We're goin' to play this game? Snorting in frustration, she pointed to the one from the second basket. "Well, that one's bruied a little."

"Precisely. And there are plenty more like it from that basket." Flim began to walk down the row of baskets, "None of these apples are bruised. Correct?"

Applejack had to admit he was right. "Yeah, they're good."

Flim stopped, turning back to stare Applejack in the eye. "That's because I picked them with my magic." He gave a pitying expression, patting her on the forelock. "For somepony who claims to be all about quality, can you really tell me that picking apples with magic is a bad thing? Why I picked at least twice as fast as I did bucking them and not a single fruit was damaged. How's that for efficiency?"

There was nothing to say. Every bone in her body wanted to scream at him, but his logic was perfectly irrefutable. She turned away from him, flicking her tail in his face. "Fine! So long as it's done, I guess I don't care."

"Excellent." Flim trotted over to her. "Can we eat now?"

"You just had some apples!"

"Yes, but your Granny makes some delightful dishes." He started back towards the house. "I suppose I'll just eat them all myself then."

"No! I'm comin'." She cantered over to him, glowering at him. It was not fair. There was no way a con man like himself could possibly out-apple an Apple and she would prove it. She just had to figure out how . . .



"That ain't how you talk!" Apple Bloom stamped her hooves against the barn floor.

Flim snorted, rolling his eyes at her. "This is how properly educated ponies converse with one another." He began to ready the cart they were taking to town with crates of apples.

"Really, cause I'm pretty sure that's just how snobs talk!" Since lunch, he had been using the largest words known to ponykind just to get on her nerves. Well, she had had enough. "I ain't goin' ta listen to you anymore."

"Touchy, touchy." Flim gave a theatrical sigh. "I suppose I'll won't tell you then."

Her ears perked up at that. "Tell me what?" When he did not respond, she rushed over to him, eyes pleading. "Tell me what, Flim?"

"Well, since you're so interested in cutie marks, I thought I'd tell you some secrets." He chuckled, stacking another crate. "Too bad, really. My siblings told me some good tricks. I was going to share them with you but," Flim gave a pittying pat on Apple Bloom's head, "you don't want to hear me talk."

"No! I really, really want to hear." She knew it was shameless begging, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up. "Please! I need all the help I can get."

Flim appeared to be contemplating. Then he gave the slightest of nods. "All right. I'll let you ask all the questions you want on the way to town. Sound like a deal?"

Apple Bloom held out a hoof. "Sure does!" The stacking went much faster after that. Apple Bloom could not wait to learn more about cutie marks. Maybe, just maybe he would have a tip she could use.



Big Mac was fairly sure his sister enjoyed tormenting him. Not only had she stuck him with Apple Bloom for the rest of the day, she had added Flim to the mix. It seemed the world was against him and Cheerilee ever getting to spend a moment in each other's company.

Flim was blathering nonstop to Apple Bloom about something, Equestria knows what. He really had not shut up since they started towards town. He was half tempted to throw the collar on Flim and make him pull. But, either the collar or the cart was liable to crush him. So he settled by ignoring Flim as much as possible.

"Big Mac? Big Mac!"

"Huh?" He looked down to see his sister looking into his eyes. "What?"

"Flim says one of his sisters is a psychic!" Apple Bloom pranced as if she might burst from excitement. "Do you think I could be a psychic?"


"Awee! You're no fun." The filly turned back to Flim. "Do you think I could, Flim?"

Flim closed his eyes, apparently pondering the question. "Well, I wouldn't stifle you're enthusiasm, but mind reading's something you're born with. You can't learn it."

"Shoot." She cuffed her hoof against the road, stirring up a cloud of dust.

Big Mac toned out the rest of his sister's conversation with the unicorn. What in Equestria she found so fascinating was beyond him. Luckily they were almost in Ponyville so he would only have to grit and bear it for a while.

"Wow, so this is Ponyville proper, huh?" Flim's sudden exclamation caught Big Mac off guard.

"Eeyup." He rolled the wagon across the bridge into Ponyville, keenly aware of Flim's wide eyed examination of the town. What's so exciting? After a while, they came to the main drag. The entire place was bustling with activity. Big Mac's substantial frame and wagon made a clear path through the crowd, however, and soon they were positioned in their usual place.

"Yeah! We're here!" Apple Bloom did a happy dance around the wagon.

Big Mac could not help but groan. An entire afternoon in the oppressive heat selling fruit ponies did not want. It was a waste of valuable time he could be spending elsewhere. Just as the thought crossed his mind, Cheerilee strode over to them. He felt his face heat up exponentially. "Hello, Cheerilee."

"Hey Mac." Cheerilee grinned with that perfectly sweet expression only she could pull off. Though she was playing casual, Big Mac knew she wanted something.

Apple Bloom wriggled herself between them. "Heya Cheerilee, want some apples?"

Really? Instead of a response, he merely pushed his sister out of the way with a hoof. "How are you?"

"Good, I just," Her face grew rather red, and she pawed at the ground. "I didn't know if you wanted to walk around together, maybe catch a snack . . . "

"Eeyup. But," He grimaced, gesturing to the wagon. "Got a lot to sell."

Flim who had apparently been watching them raised a hoof. "Now, now, Big Mac. Go along. We can handle things here. Can't we, Apple Bloom?" He winked to the filly.

"But," Big Mac did not want to imagine all the chaos that would arise when his over excited sister worked with the ex con-man. "it's a lot of work."

The unicorn broke into a fit of laughter. "My, my. Is that what you call it? It's a lot of opportunity. I'll tell you what," Before Big Mac could protest, he drew him close, "I'll have all these apples sold by the time you get back or my name isn't Flim Skim."

"But, there's a lot of apples." They easily had a two day sales supply in the cart. There was no way in Equestria they could sell so many.

"Trust me on this one. Go have fun with your marefriend. I've got you covered."

Why am I not convinced? Sighing heavily, he nudged Cheerilee along. "All right. Let me know if you need anythin'."

Flim waved, a cheesy grin on his face. "Oh I will."

As they walked away, Cheerilee glanced back at Flim. "Isn't that the con artist who came to town?"


Her eyes grew wide, "But, he's working for you."

Big Mac grimaced. "Eeyup."

She lowered her voice to a whisper, "Why?"

"Don't know." Big Mac tried to ignore the sweeping sense of dread in the pit of his stomach. Please work out.



"Buy our apples! Hey mister, buy some apples."

Flim was bemusedly watching the worst display of salesmanship imaginable. It was obvious that she never learned how to sell so much as a tea cozy in her life. Pathetic. Who would buy apples from her with a technique like that?

"Flim!" Apple Bloom's face puffed out into a monumental pout. "Yer supposed to be helpin'."

"I am." Flim continued to recline on the wagon seat, eying his hooves with a bored expression. "I'm observing."

Apple Bloom's ears perked up at that. "Observin'?"

He nodded, "Oh yes. You see, you never ought to try and sell anything until you know the situation you are trying to sell in."

"Okay. I guess." Though she still looked rather skeptical.

"Come here." He motioned her towards him, and she came. "Listen, a good salespony knows about timing and working a crowd. Right now, the crowd's not right."

"Ah," She winked back at him, "Gotcha."

Flim turned away from her, distracted by an amusing scene across the street. A middle aged unicorn was attempting to do something to a flower box. His golden magic was surrounding the box in an erratic manner that had even Flim nervous. With an ear splitting snap, the box quite literally exploded, sending shrapnel in all directions.

As soon as the magic disaster was over, a lilac mare dashed over to the stallion. Judging from her harried expression, this was not the first time the stallion had messed up. Flim was so distracted watching them that he failed to notice Apple Bloom's face light up.

"Twilight! Hey, Twilight!"

The mare turned her head. To Flim's surprise, the pegasus was in fact an alicorn. Then he remembered something he had read about months back. Twilight Sparkle, one of Applejack's friends had been made a princess. He had completely forgotten that little detail. His stomach lurched uncomfortably, as he thought about all the ways she could punish him for his past conning.

Instead of an angry scowl, she looked downright happy to see them. "Apple Bloom and," She trotted over, leaning close to Flim, "Flim?What in Equestria are you doing back here? Where's Flam?"

"Uh . . ." He tried not to be intimidated by her staring, but it was not easy. "We split up. I'm doing some work for the Apples over the summer. Right, Apple Bloom?"

"Right." Apple Bloom slapped him on the leg, giving him a toothy smile. "He's a little weird, but he's okay."

Speaking of . . . Flim watched the unfamiliar brown stallion walk over to them. Though only a little taller than him, he gave a much more substantiated aura of strength. Judging from the glasses and the fact that he was with Twilight, he did not use it often. Flim held out a hoof, "Nice to meet you, I'm Flim."

"Charmed. My name is Entropic State. But please, call me Entropy." The stallion's lined face broke into a soft smile as he took the hoof. He gave an embarrassed chuckle. "I suppose you saw my little . . . miscalculation."

"It was hard to miss." The situation was feeling dreadfully awkward, and he looked for a way to break the tension. "So, are you Twilight's husband?"

"WHAT?" Twilight's face turned the shade of Apple Bloom's mane. "Why would you say that?"

Flim shrugged. "You just look like you go together well."

"No, no, no, no. Entropy is my magic student for the month." She looked to Entropy for backup. "Isn't that right?"

"Quite correct."

Apple Bloom eyed Entropy's salt and pepper mane and laughed loudly, falling to the ground. "Why are you the student? You're super old!"

Instead of the expected annoyed response, Entropy simply started to laugh. It was incredibly loud, and Flim found himself cringing at the volume of it. "Well now, I am getting up there in years."

Twilight's reaction was closer to what Flim expected. "Apple Bloom! That isn't polite. Entropy is a well-respected professor at Canterlot University. He's teaching me quantum physics."

"Indeed I am." Entropy gazed at Flim from behind his rectangular spectacles. "I take it you farm apples for a living?"

"No, I . . ." How did Flim describe his profession? The last thing he wanted to say was conman. "I'm a traveling inventor and showman. The apple's more of a figurative thing."

"I see." From his expression, he was not quite convinced. "Well then, I suppose we'd better get going. There's more learning to be had today!"

Apple Bloom waved cheerily. "See you Twilight! Hope you don't blow up any more flowerboxes."

Twilight grimaced a little, glancing at her now distant pupil. "I hope so. I really hope so . . ."

Flim watched them leave, then turned back to Apple Bloom. "What time is it?"

"Uh, 'bout two I guess."

"Perfect." Plenty of time left. This business would be a piece of cake. There was nothing that came quite as naturally to him as sales. His horn lit up, and he began to clear apples from a crate. Apple Bloom watched him with curiosity until the crate was empty. "And voila!"

Her eyebrow raised ever so slightly. "So, you got a crate. What's the big deal?"

Flim chose a mock offended expression. "Ye of little faith." Flipping the crate over in front of the wagon, he motioned Apple Bloom to step up. "Watch and see how a master salespony works his magic."

Apple Bloom snorted, rolling her eyes. But she climbed on top of the crate anyway. "Now what?"

"You'll follow my lead." After clearing his throat, Flim spoke into the crowded street. His show voice managed to carry all around without sounding like he was shouting. The ability had gotten him out of more tight spots than he cared to admit. Today it would server their purposes nicely. "Step right up fillies and gentlecolts! Step right up and don't be shy. Today we've got a treat for you. A spectacular delicacy to marvel your taste buds and shock your senses."

A crowd of ponies began to gather around to hear Flim. Judging from their whispers, they were less than convinced. One plump mare glowered at him, "What? They're just apples!"

Flim shook his hoof. "That's where you're wrong, my good lady." He levitated up a particularly choice apple, allowing it to catch the sunlight for added effect. "These aren't just any apples. These are Summer Gold apples, infused with a honey-like taste sent from the heavens." Flim searched the crowd, pointing out a burly construction worker. "You there. Come here."

Grudgingly, the pony came forward, eyeing Flim as though he had two heads. "Yeah?"

"Do me a favor and smell this delightful fruit."

Rolling his eyes, he sniffed the apple. His expression changed to one of shock. "It smells like honey."

"That's right, folks! From the mouth of one of your own. Not only do they smell like honey, they taste just as sweet." He levitated the apple into the stallion's hoof. Hopping up on top of the wagon, he continued, "I know what you must be thinking. How could any fruit so delectable, so succulent be healthy for you? Well now, I can most assuredly say that it is."

Flim leapt down to stand beside Apple Bloom. "Our dearest Apple Bloom here eats all day. Just observe her silken coat, alert eyes, and impeccable teeth. And the cause of this is simple, my fellow ponies. Apple family apples each and every day!"

Apple Bloom spoke in an aside to Flim. "Them apples don't do that."

Flim rolled his eyes. This was so much easier with Flam. "Just go along with it kid. You want to sell them, right?"

"Yeah." Apple Bloom puffed out her chest, "That's right! My family's apples are the best. That's why I'm so strong."

Excited murmuring rippled through the crowd. A few ponies looked more than interested. Just the right moment to drive the point home. Once again, Flim jumped on the wagon. "Hang on folks. There's one point I forgot to mention. These rare, delicious apples are only available for a limited time! Once they're gone, they're gone. So stock up before it's too late."

That sealed the deal. The swarm of ponies milled around Flim, shouting their orders. Apple Bloom looked a little scared, but Flim knew he could handle it. In less than half an hour, they sold each and every apple on the wagon. Flim smirked, levitating the bag of bits into the back. "That, Apple Bloom is how you sell apples."

"WOW!" The filly's eyes shone with admiration and she danced like Heartswarming Eve had come early. "I never saw so many apples sold so fast! That was amazin', Flim!"

"I try." Though he tried to remain casual, he was glad of the praise. It was the first time anypony had been impressed with his sales skills.

"What in tarnation?"

Their heads wheeled around to see Big Mac staring at them, mouth hung slightly open. Flim waved, motioning him closer. "Big Mac. I trust you had a relaxing time with Cheerillee?"

"Eeyup. But," He gesticulated wildly to the wagon, "how did you sell them ALL?"

Apple Bloom bounced around Flim, "He used his salespony know-how. Ain't that right?"

"That right. Why work harder when you can work smarter?"

"Eeyup." Big Mac looked less than convinced, but said nothing.

Together they made their way out of town. Apple Bloom kept chattering to Flim the whole way. He did not mind. In fact, it brought back pleasant memories of his own sisters. They crossed the bridge and started down the road to the farm.

"Say, Flim? How's this for a sales pitch?" She cleared her throat and attempted a carrying voice like Flim's. It came out as more of a shout. "You can't get strong teeth an shiny hair without our apples! They're better than any trip to the doctor."

Flim sniggered, then burst out laughing. "Apple Bloom. It's okay to stretch the truth a teeny bit, but you can't go lying to them."

"Awee. Why not?"

He gave a sly wink, "Because little filly, that's not honest." Truer words were never spoken. If only Flam had listened to that advice, then they would never had ended up where they had. That thought hurt more than any dagger to the chest.



"Applejack, can I talk to you?" Big Mac leaned against the living room wall, trying his best to remain casual.

His sister set down the book she had been forcing herself to read. One on apple farming no doubt. "Sure, Big Mac." She patted the seat on the couch beside her. "What's eatin' you?"

"Flim." There was more to it than that, but for now that would have to do. Trying to ignore Applejack's stare, he glanced out at the darkened farm beyond the window. "He did good today."

She snorted, apparently wanting to add some snide comment, but stopped herself. "Yeah, guess so. He got all them apples picked before lunch." Her voice grew small, "Better than I could do."

"Eeyup. But that ain't such a bad thing. Is it?"

"Naw. I guess not." Applejack looked at her brother, then turned away. "Apple Bloom really likes him now."

Urgh. What he would not give to stop that. For the rest of the day, all the filly would talk about was Flim. It was getting on his nerves. "I reckon he's teachin' her bad habits."

"You think so?"

"Well," It was not as though he thought Flim was really causing damage. More like he was putting the wrong ideas in her head. "I just worry, that's all."

Applejack nodded, "Me too. But I think we ought to give him a chance, Big Mac."

What? That was the last thing he expected to come out of her mouth. "Why?"

"Cause he's reliable. An gets the job done. Heck, we ain't never sold so many apples in one day before." Her freckled face broke into a genuine smile. "Maybe we can learn somethin' for later."

"Eeyup." Big Mac patted her on the back, starting towards the door. "I'm goin' home. See you tomorrow."

"See ya!"

Once he left the house, he took a deep breath. The night was cool and clear, perfect for thinking. If all went well with the new fields, he would have a tidy profit this autumn. Enough for making plans. Important plans he had been putting off. If Flim wanted to stay and kept working the way he was, he would not complain. It was an opportunity for him and might just take some stress off of Applejack. Time would tell.

Author's Note:

Flim's getting into the swing of things and Apple Bloom's got a new idol. This could only end well.

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