Trying to Relax

The dull collective rumble of a multitude of conversations filled the air of Ponyville's small marketplace as the Apple family stall was stocked with fresh apples by three hard working humans. Shiny red apples picked the day before sat on the front row, showing the pride of this year's season.

It was another tradition of Sweet Apple Acres to sell the last few batches of apples in town after a big harvest like this. While most of the apples would be shipped all over Equestria, and that money was the mainstay of the farm's income, it was always important to remember when their only income came in the form of local buyers.

Applejack herself put on an apron and was getting ready to market her produce, when she looked at her newest helper.

"Ah can't thank you enough for your help, Chains," she told the human as she approached him while he picked up the last basket of apples and set it beside the stand. "Who'd a thought a skinny beanpole like you would be such a hard worker?" she teased with a smile.

Chains returned the smile. "Thank you, Applejack," he said. And while she teased him with the term 'beanpole' it would hardly be a fitting term now. While still thin, he had a modest layer of muscle to him now that came from both working on the farm and from the wrestling sessions with Lock and Stock. The blonde twins, who had stayed on the farm, remained individually stronger than Chains, but they complimented his improvement, and welcomed a chance to go at it again with him whenever he wished.

"Well, partner, it's time to get to work," AJ said, as she flipped the sign over. "Ah won't be needin' help sellin' apples, so you can head on home now. I'm sure Twilight's been missing you something fierce," she said, winking at him.

The human smiled and gave her a respectful bow, though it made the mare a little uncomfortable. "Thank you, for many things," he said to her. "Giving me this chance to get stronger and for being patient with me even though I was not that good of a worker to start with."

AJ sighed. "You're a great worker, Chains. Strong or not you do your best every minute you're out in the field. That's a good work ethic whether you can clear ten trees or a hundred in a day," she smiled again at him. "So hold yer head up. Yer a good guy, and you got friends."

There was a moment of silence between them, and Chains nodded. "If you ever need help on the farm again, I'll be happy to help… as a friend," he said, his smile growing.

Applejack's own smile grew to a grin, and she held out her hoof, which the human took and shook. "Glad to call ya a friend, Chains."

Chains returned the library shortly after and was a little surprised to see it completely spotless. It wasn't dirty when he had left that morning, but there was still plenty to straighten up and dust, and he remembered there was a pile of books that needed repaired yet. But none of that was there anymore.

Instead the Library/home he, Twilight, and Spike had shared was cleaner than the day they had moved in. Though considering that was shortly after a party, that wasn't too surprising.

Also absent however, were his housemates.

"Twilight?" he called out, looking around. "Spike?"

Suddenly there was a flash in front of him, he covered his eyes, seeing spots. "Surprise!" came two voices he recognized. He put down his arm to see Twilight and Spike both in front of him, smiling, a gesture he returned.

"We got the place cleaned up before you got back," Spike was the first to speak up. "So you don't have to do anything and relax for today."

"You've been working so hard lately," Twilight added in. "You deserve a day off."

Chains wanted to argue, saying he wanted to help, but he knew it would do no good to argue with the two of them. He sighed and smiled as he relented and nodded. "Alright, I'll relax today," he said.

Twilight smiled and came closer, and he leaned down to hug her and she returned it, nuzzling her muzzle between his shoulder and neck. "But I'm still cooking tonight," he added, earning a giggle from his beloved mare.

"Fine, I won't keep you from your kitchen," she said with a good natured laugh. "Spaghetti and Oats?" she suggested, making a cute face to try and coerce him into it.

He only smiled and nodded in agreement. "Anything you want," he told her as she led him to the sitting room, which doubled as a reading room for visitors to the library. "What else is new?" he asked her.

"Nothing really," she replied, sitting next to him while Spike sat nearby as well. "A few books checked out, but it's been mostly quiet." She pouted. "I guess there isn't a lot of call for reading these days."

Chains put his hand on her withers and rubbed down to her back gently, causing her to sigh out contently and lean her head in towards him. "That feels good," she said.

They stayed that way for some time, while Spike read a comic book, when suddenly they heard the door open. On instinct, Chains pulled his hand back, causing a frustrated groan of disappointment from Twilight as she looked to the door to see who would intrude on their moment, but relaxed when she saw who it was.

"Oh, hello Rarity," she greeted her friend with a smile, her agitation forgotten, or at the least, suppressed.

The fashion mare returned the smile, likely oblivious to the moment she had interrupted. "Good day, Twilight, I hope you're doing well," she said with every bit of sophistication as she was used to presenting herself with.

"We were doing well," Twilight answered, trying to keep her disappointment from being noticeable.

If the white mare noticed, she didn't show it. "That's wonderful, darling, and I must say Chains, you are looking very well," she said, glancing at the human. "Physical labor really isn't my thing, but it's certainly done you some good," she giggled, noting the blush from both the human and his supposed owner.

Twilight coughed into her hoof to get Rarity's attention. "I don't mean to sound rude, Rarity, but was there a reason you came to the library today?" she asked.

Rarity gasped, possibly acting like she'd forgotten rather than it actually slipping her mind. "Oh, that's right, I was hoping I might be able to borrow Chains for a little bit today," she told them, her friendly smile still present.

"Borrow?" Twilight asked, raising an eyebrow. "But he just got done working, what could you need him for?"

"Oh well, you see," the white mare began. "I've been asked by a client from Canterlot to work on an outfit for their human, but I don't have any humanoid mannequins, but Chains is about the right proportions. I just need to have him wear it while I put it together and adjust it as needed."

It sounded like a reasonable enough request, but Twilight sighed. "Does it really need to be done this second? He's been working hard lately and we were hoping to just-"

"I wouldn't mind it, Twilight," Chains chimed in with a friendly smile to his beloved Mistress. Twilight was about to protest when Chains gently placed his hand on her withers, and she stopped what she was planning to say. "It shouldn't be so bad, and I'd like to help."

Her agitation was soothed by his words and by his hand. She looked up to him apologetically and nodded. "Alright, we'll just have to sit and relax together afterwards," she said, relenting.

Rarity smiled brightly, "Oh, thank you darlings," she said happily, going forward and giving Twilight a hug. "I promise, after this order is filled I'll purchase some human mannequins right away so I won't have to put you two in this awkward position again."

The group was about to leave when suddenly the door opened and two of the towns ponies walked in. They gave their greetings and began to look around the library for whatever book it was they needed. Twilight sighed. With customers she couldn't just leave the library unattended.

A third one entered as well and she looked to Rarity and Chains. "I guess I'm stuck here for a bit, but you can go on ahead. I'll be there as soon as things get situated here," she said to them.

This got her a nod from the two and Rarity continued. "Not to worry, darling, he is in good hooves," she said with a smile.

"I can still go too though, right?" Spike asked, hoping to spend some time with the mare he's been crushing on.

Twilight was going to say 'no' at first, but the look Spike was giving her was enough to make her relent. It was only a few customers, she could handle them without help for the time being. "Alright, you can go too, Spike," she said.

Spike smiled brightly and the three of them bid Twilight goodbye as they left for Rarity's boutique.


Chains sighed lightly to himself as he stood on the stage while Rarity moved around him quickly and efficiently. Spike was in the corner, snickering to himself as he watched the display. Rarity had said that the human he needed to model the outfit for was about his size, but she neglected to mention that it was a female human and that he was going to be wearing a dress.

It was a lovely baby blue gown with white lace over the skirt which went just below his knees. It seemed somewhat similar to a maid's outfit, but much classier. The shoulders were poofy and it hugged Chain's torso, showing off his figure.

"I didn't think too much when I saw you gained a little muscle," Rarity spoke as she focused on her work. "I'll need to take it into account when I fit it to her."

What was more humiliating for Chains was that Rarity insisted on him looking the part so she could envision it easier. As a result, he was in a light makeup that made his face seem more pale, as well as some eye shadow. His hair, normally in a long ponytail had been undone and flowed down his back.

Spike had been laughing even harder earlier, but had since calmed down enough that he was just chuckling while Rarity worked.

It did make Chains tense up a bit, and he frowned.

"Don't let him get to you, darling, you look absolutely beautiful," Rarity said, trying to cheer him up. "Why, I wouldn't have guessed you were a boy when I first met you, but now I'd bet half my boutique that you were a young lady if I didn't know better."

It did little to actually raise his spirits, and he groaned lightly.

"Don't give me that frown," she said, sticking a pin in the hem of the dress. "You look great, boy or girl".

"And thank you for putting up with it all. You've been a great help, standing still," she added while folding up the hem of the skirt. "If I ever ask Rainbow Dash to help I can barely get a minute's work done before she's trying to fly off," she said.

Chains felt himself smile, and his heart lightened about his situation. It was the same feeling he had when Applejack thanked him for helping her. "It's no problem," he told her. "I'm just glad to help."

Rarity began humming a tune to herself as she made more finishing touches to the skirt, when the door opened wide, and a certain rainbow haired pegasus flew in, hovering in the air above the stand. "Hey Rarity, I got a favor to ask…" she drifted off as her eyes landed on the human on the stage, wearing the light blue dress, his face aglow with burning pink cheeks.

Rainbow Dash tilted her head curiously and then looked to Rarity. "Who's the new girl?"

This brought laughter anew from Spike, who fell from the chair he was sitting on, while Rarity ignored Dash for the moment.

Chains was the first to speak up, looking up at her. "H-hello, Rainbow Dash," he said quietly.

Rainbow's eyes widened and she stared at Chains for what felt like hours. Her face slowly twisted into a smirk, then a smile and after she snorted, trying to hold back her laughter, she fell to the ground, her laughter matching Spike's and only interrupted by gasps for air.

"Pay her no mind, Chains, she is only jealous that she can't be so feminine," the fashionista commented with a huff, her eyes only momentarily leaving her work.

The prismatic mare wiped some tears from her eyes and caught her breath. "Believe me, I am not jealous over how girly Chains looks," she chuckled, looking again at the human, who somehow still managed to keep himself in place.

Rarity sighed and smiled, sitting up and giving Chains one final once over. "Does it fit alright, darling? Try moving a bit."

Chains began to move himself about, rolling his shoulders and testing his range of motion in the dress, and while he was uncomfortable with the situation as a whole, he had to admit, that the dress itself was very comfortable despite how delicate it was. "It feels fine, I think," he said.

The white unicorn's smile widened. "Good, the hard part is done, you can change back into your normal clothes behind the screen if you please," she said. "Thank you again for humoring such a request."

He stepped down delicately from the stage, and walked towards the dividing screen to hide himself as he changed, as he heard a cat call from the blue pegasus.

"Sway those hips more as you walk, a girl has to show off what she's got."

While this made Chains' face light up as he quickened his pace to hide behind the screen, it made Rarity glower at the pegasus, and with her magic she tugged on Rainbow's ear, earning pained protests as she was slowly brought to the ground.

"Ow, ow, okay okay," she said. "I'm sorry, I'll stop."

Rarity smiled triumphantly and let her ear go. "There, was that so hard?" she teased.

Rainbow Dash rubbed her ear while glaring at the unicorn, and she snorted.

It was a few moments more, when Chains returned from behind the screen, dressed in his regular clothes, which included the vest that Rarity had made for him when they first met. He had cleaned his face of the makeup and had carefully folded the dress which he was carrying back to Rarity.

"Thank you, darling, you were a great help to me. I'll need to think up some way to repay you and Twilight," she said, smiling before perking up, "I know!" she declared. "Your next outfit! When I have time I'll fix you up a brand new outfit absolutely free of charge."

Chains was taken aback and held up his hands, shaking his head. "No, please Miss Rarity that is much too generous a thing to do for such a small favor," he told her.

"Ah ah ah," Rarity interrupted. "I will not hear a word of it," she said. "I've made up my mind and I will make you a brand new outfit." She looked him over, and smiled, "One much more fitting of your new physique."

"Hey, yeah," Rainbow Dash chimed in, raising an eyebrow. "You do look a lot more solid there, Chains. I heard you were working on AJ's farm. I guess it helped burn some muscles into you," she chuckled.

Chains was blushing at their compliments, but it did make him happy that he was getting noticeably stronger. "Thank you," he said to the two mares, who returned his smile.

"Now get going," Rarity said with a friendly tone. "Twilight's probably swamped at the library if she hadn't had time to get over here yet. Do take care, darling, and if you need anything from me, just ask."

"See you guys later," Rainbow said to both human and dragon as they too said their goodbyes and left.

"Oh, that's right Rainbow Dash, you said you needed a favor from me?" Rarity asked as her other guests left.

"Oh yeah, anyways, I was thinking of ideas for a cool flightsuit and…"


Chains and Spike had run into Twilight about halfway back to the library. She apologized for taking so long, but one pony was very unsure of what kind of book they wanted to check out.

Spike laughed when Chains had said that nothing too important happened at Rarity's and Twilight accepted it.

They had gotten as far as the library door when Twilight stopped. "Oh, I forgot, I leant a book to Fluttershy a few days ago."

"I can go get it," Chains volunteered. "I can just go there quick and be back before very long."

Twilight gave him a look that said she wasn't quite convinced, her brow furrowed slightly. "You're supposed to be relaxing."

He just smiled. "We can all relax when everything is done," he said, his hand rested gently on her back. "I promise, it'll be the last thing I do today before dinner."

Twilight pouted her lips. "It better be." With that they parted ways, Twilight going back to the library, and Chains going towards Fluttershy's cottage to retrieve the book that Twilight had lent her.

The walk was short, and he was soon walking up to her door, which he noticed to be open just a crack.

He reached up and knocked gently, but the door opened a bit more, and he peered inside.

"Miss Fluttershy," he called. "I'm sorry to bother you, but Mistress Twilight had lent you a book and…"

He trailed off as he took in the scene.

The room before him was a mess, the table in the middle was flipped onto its side, a teapot had fallen to the floor, its contents spilled onto the wooden floor.

Slightly panicked, he looked around to try and find the home's owner, and didn't have to look much. His shocked eyes locked with hers as she looked up at him, with an equally shocked expression, from atop a human form.

He then looked down to find the steel grey eyes of Bandage, who also looked surprised, but less dumbfounded.

And finally, Chains noticed that Bandage was without his shirt, and there was an abundance of bandage which were tangled and wrapped around the both of them. Fluttershy's wings were held tight to her back, and just below them was the human's single hand.

For a moment, the intruder stared, as both his cheeks and those of the pegasus began to grow red as the situation sunk in for both of them.

"Sorry! I'll get it later!" Chains quickly said before slamming the door behind him and rushing away from the cottage, his face burning the entire way home.

Once he had returned, he apologized to Twilight, saying Fluttershy was unavailable at the time. Twilight promised to forgive him, if he would finally relax. And for a time they had managed to do just that, until once more, there came a knock at the door.

Twilight grumbled as she got up from Chains' side, and went to the door. She opened to see Rainbow hovering there, and in response to Twilight's sour expression, the rainbow maned pony gave a nervous grin.

"Uh, hey Twi, how's it going?" she asked.

"It'd be better if Chains and I could get some time together without somepony interrupting," the unicorn said a little bitterly before she let out a sigh. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't be so short with my friends." Her features softened a little. "Is there something I can help you with?"

Rainbow came inside and landed on the floor, and her hoof scratched the back of her head. "Well, kinda, you see… um, well, you gotta promise to keep it a secret, I can trust you guys, right?"

"Of course, Rainbow," Twilight said, growing a little concerned. "Is it serious?"

"Very," the pegasus said, looking around, making sure there was no pony else , Spike had gone back to Rarity's by then. "Like, you can't even tell Celestia about this."

Twilight's face hardened, and Chains felt a chill.

"Okay, Rainbow, I trust you. I promise I won't say a word to Celestia, now what's this about?" Twilight looked her friend in the eye as she promised.

Rainbow looked between Chains and Twilight and took a deep breath. "Do you believe Chains should be free?"