Twilight Sparkle walked up to the Apple family home overlooking Sweet Apple Acres. She had gotten a letter from Big Macintosh asking her to come to their house at a certain time of the day, and not to tell anypony else. The purple unicorn wondered why he had done so, but decided paying a visit to the quiet stallion would be good after the craziness a few days ago that involved her tardy letter to Princess Celestia.
She knocked on the door and heard a crash sounding from within, followed by the sound of Big Macintosh saying "ow."
"Is everything okay in there, Big Macintosh?" she called out, raising an eyebrow at the door in front of her. She was already halfway through remembering a spell to break it down when the door swung open, revealing a rather embarrassed-looking bright red stallion.
"Howdy there, Twilight Sparkle," he greeted with a cough, his face just a shade redder than the rest of him. "Thank ya mighty kindly for comin' over on such short notice," he told her.
"Well, your letter looked like it was written in a hurry," she said, using her magic to take the letter out of her saddlebag to show him. "It didn't even come in the normal mail. I just found it slipped under the door of the library this morning."
"Miss Twilight," the letter began in rather sloppy writing. "I've got something important for you here at my family's farm, please come by at 2 o'clock and please don't tell Applejack or any other pony." The words "please don't" had been underlined several times, further emphasizing Big Macintosh's need for secrecy.
"You're lucky Spike didn't find it or else I'd never heard the end of his questioning," she remarked with a chuckle. "I was just having my morning cup of tea when I noticed it on the floor."
The stallion nodded. He had actually been the one to deliver the letter himself, going to Ponyville early in the morning before anypony in Sweet Apple Acres was awake, shoving it under the door of the library, and then running back to the farm to be in the middle of plowing the fields by the time his sister woke up. He had been counting on the fact that Twilight Sparkle mentioned to him once that she always had to wake up Spike in the mornings, and was therefore usually the only one in awake in the library at that time.
"So, what have you've got for me? And why two in the afternoon?" Twilight asked, breaking Big Macintosh out of his thoughts. "You're usually out working the fields at this time," she remarked.
He let out a cough, looked around as if to check if anypony might be around, and then ushered the purple mare into his home. "I asked you to come at two since AJ's usually out sellin' apples and apple treats in Ponyville, Applebloom's out playin' with her friends, and Granny Smith's havin' a very slow walk around town at this time," he explained as they walked through the house, eventually stopping in front of a door with a sign hanging on it. The sign matched the green apple half that Big Macintosh had on his flank. "This here's my room, and it's inside here. Would you like to come in?"
The purple mare blinked. "Uh... Well, if it's where this important thing is, I suppose so. Plus, if it'll help you with your worries about keeping this all a secret, I'm fine with it," she replied.
"Is it that obvious?"
"Well, you keep looking at the windows as if half-expecting somepony to catch us in here," she told him, chuckling. The bright red stallion chuckled as well, albeit nervously.
He opened the door and led her inside. She noticed that the room had the basics, such as a bed and storage space for Big Macintosh's things. She also noticed that there was a chart tacked up on one wall, with different dates indicating when they had to plant and harvest. In the middle of his simply-decorated room was a rug, and on that rug was a familiar-looking toy.
"Smarty Pants!" Twilight Sparkle exclaimed happily, trotting over to her doll and picking it up. "I thought I'd lost you a few days ago! But how did you..." She trailed off, looking at Big Macintosh, who was blushing again.
"Well... After the crowd dispersed... I kinda... I kinda..." He quickly looked left and right. "I kinda took your doll home," he said very quickly and quietly.
"Even after the enchantment wore off?" she asked him, a confused expression on her face.
A sheepish grin appeared on Big Macintosh's face. "Well... Eeyup," he admitted. "I took her home right after everypony else had gone and made sure none of 'em saw me. I can't really explain why, guess I got caught up in the moment," he remarked. "But anyway, once I got home, I realized that I had to give her back to you. I just had to wait for the right time." He shrugged. "And I can't have AJ findin' out about this," he muttered.
"I won't tell her, I promise," Twilight replied. She looked at her doll again, and noticed that she seemed a little different. "Did you..." She noticed how Smarty Pants' button eyes were sewn back on securely, how she was no longer leaking stuffing, and how she looked like she had gone through the wash. "Did you... Repair Smarty Pants?" she asked in disbelief.
She turned the doll over in her hooves. Although the faded color remained, she noticed the new stitching on some parts of it and the rest of the changes to her childhood toy. The stitching was a little uneven but Smarty Pants definitely looked better than a few days ago.
He rubbed the back of his head with his hoof. "I hope ya don't mind, Twilight. I just fixed her up a little for ya, as an apology for takin' her. It was a little hard though," he said, holding up a hoof. "I ain't used to workin' with tiny things like needles and such. Sorry if it seems a little sloppy."
Twilight gave him a smile. "No, it's fine." She looked at the doll in her hooves again, and was reminded of the feeling she experienced when she first received Smarty Pants. Her smile brightened and she laughed. "Thank you, Big Macintosh. This was very sweet of you," she told him, causing him to blush.
The stallion returned her smile with one of his own. "You're welcome, Twi... Just wonderin' though..."
"Hm?" She looked up from the doll.
"Was Smarty Pants your favourite doll?" he asked her.
Much to his surprise, Twilight let out a laugh. "Yes, she was," she said, gently setting the doll down on the rug and sitting down. "She didn't come with the really pretty mane that all the other fillies had on theirs, and she didn't have all the bows and ribbons either," she began. "But she had her own pad of paper and quill, and I always used to pretend she was writing down her assignments whenever I was doing my own assignments. Whenever I'd be studying, she was always right next there to me. Nopony could really separate us when I was younger. She wasn't the prettiest doll in Canterlot, but I always believed she was one of the smartest ponies there."
"One of the smartest ponies," Big Macintosh echoed. "Just like you, Twi. I think you're one of the prettiest too."
Now, it was Twilight's turn to blush deeply and look away. An awkward silence descended on the pair. The stallion broke it a few moments later with a cough.
"I-I-I mean! I... I..." he began. "Uh... I mean... I understand what it's like to have a favourite toy," he quickly said. "One that ya just can't seem to let go of and such..." Twilight turned to look at him, tilting her head to one side. "I'll show ya..."
He went over to a chest and opened it, rummaging around for a while until he found what he was looking for. Using his teeth, he carried something bright red over to his visitor, and set it down next to Smarty Pants.
"This here's somethin' my Granny made for me when I was younger," he told her. Twilight looked at the toy. It was a pony similar in size and shape to Smarty Pants, just a bit bigger. It had bright red coat made out of plush material, a mane and tail out of orange yarn and two green buttons for eyes.
"It looks just like you!" Twilight exclaimed, chuckling.
Big Macintosh smiled. "Yeah... Granny Smith gave it to me after she saw me lookin' at all the other colts with their new superpony toys," he told her. "She told me that even if this pony didn't have magic or could fly like the other ponies, she said this pony had something just as good."
"She said that this pony had a hard-workin' nature. He took real good care of his family, 'specially his two younger sisters. He was big and strong, so he'd plow the fields and work even harder. That sure was somethin' I needed to hear," he told the mare, who looked at him in confusion. "Oh, when I was younger, I was bigger than the other colts. Kinda made me feel a little bad, on accounta I'd sometimes accidentally break stuff like the seesaw if I sat on it, or a toy 'cause I didn't know my own strength. But I felt better after Granny Smith gave me Mini Mac and told me that story. Made me feel better, and made me realize I could put all my physical ability to good use."
Twilight laughed. "So, he's big and strong, just like you?"
Big Macintosh laughed as well. "Eeyup, I guess."
"And he works hard on the farm, just like you?"
"And he cares about his family, just like you?"
"And he's a handsome-looking pony, just like you?" Twilight asked, making her voice a little higher and levitating Smarty Pants in front of Big Macintosh's nose.
"Eeyu-What was that?" Big Macintosh asked, looking at the doll in front of him in confusion.
"I think Mini Mac's a looker," 'Smarty Pants' told the stallion, who sat down opposite the doll and picked up his own toy to hold up, and cleared his throat before speaking in a different voice as well.
"Really now, Smarty Pants?" 'Mini Mac' asked 'Smarty Pants.'
"Yeah-huh!" 'Smarty Pants' replied. "Twilight Sparkle thinks so too!"
"Really? Well, thank ya kindly, Smarty Pants. Better thank Twilight Sparkle when I see her."
"Can you keep a secret, Mini Mac?"
"You can count on me, Smarty Pants."
"Twilight thinks that Big Mac is one of the sweetest, most caring, and hard-working ponies she has ever met," Twilight's voice returned to normal as she finished her sentence, and she finally gathered the courage to look the stallion in the eye.
"Well, Big Mac thinks Twilight is also one of the most caring ponies he's ever met," he started, his voice normal now and green eyes locked with Twilight's purple ones. "How she's always helpin' out her friends, and Ponyville, and even Sweet Apple Acres. And that she's the smartest pony he's ever met. And that..." He took a deep breath. "She's amazing."
"You're pretty amazing yourself," Twilight said, her voice barely above a whisper. Both of them were sporting blushes on their faces, and they had both let their toys drop to the rug, Smarty Pants and Mini Mac leaning against each other.
"Twilight Sparkle," Big Macintosh began. "If can make a humble request... Would you let me bring you for a walk through the apple orchard?" he asked her in a hopeful tone. "They look mighty pretty this time of the year."
"I would love to," she replied and gave him a warm smile.
They went out to the orchard together, both of them talking about memories from their childhood, all brought on by a simple doll.