A/N: Please note that this fic is is no way meant to be taken seriously or confused with something intended to be seen as such.
Twilight Sparkle primly adjusted her spectacles. Her mane was twisted back into a tidy knot, a hairstyle carefully selected to add to her professional image, just like the glasses. With a sweep of magic she lifted her clipboard and quill to eye level. She placed her quill to the paper; she was ready to begin.
Except that her seat wasn't properly aligned with the patient.
Applejack looked immensely uncomfortable, but Twilight didn't seem to notice; she was too busy fidgeting with her chair, making sure everything was just-so before they began their session.
Applejack wasn't entirely sure how she'd ended up in this position. The last thing she'd remembered, she'd been back home at Sweet Apple Acres, harvesting apples, when suddenly a purple whirlwind had rushed in faster than Rainbow Dash and swept her away.
And now here she was, lying down on some kind of...really long sofa in the library while Twilight muttered to herself about "neurobiological processes" and "socio-cultural factors."
Normally she'd have just up and left if somepony else had tried such a bizarre stunt on her, but Twilight was a friend. She could be odd sometimes, but then, so could everypony else. It was no secret that the citizens of Ponyville were a bit eccentric; so maybe it would be best if she just humoured her for a while, and listened to whatever had her so antsy.
"Uh, Twilight? Applejack asked tentatively.
Twilight immediately looked up, a brilliant smile on her face; but the light pouring in the window reflected off in her glasses, causing them to glare in an unsettling way.
"Yes?" She asked, sounding every bit as perky as she looked.
"What exactly am I doin' here?"
"I'm glad you asked that." Twilight answered, scooting her chair forward slightly. The way she sat was unnatural. It was the same way that green unicorn, Lyra, sat on benches, and only made Applejack more uneasy. It looked painful. Not that Twilight noticed her discomfort. For somepony so focused, she was acting strangely oblivious, especially for her.
"I've come to the conclusion that many, perhaps all, of the ponies in this town are suffering from some degree of mental illness; but Spike and I alone remain exempt from this state of affairs as outsiders from Canterlot. I've taken it upon myself to give what aid I can to the good citizens of Ponyville in exchange for the hospitality I've received from them during my time here so far."
"Didja always talk so stuffy-like?"
Twilight glared, and Applejack shrank slightly. When Twilight was serious, she was serious, and accepted nothing less from those she dragged along into her mad ideas.
"Beggin' yer pardon, Twi." she apologized. It was probably best to play along. "Not all of us kin talk as fancy as you city ponies. Couldja try talkin' more like a simple country pony, like myself?"
"Of course." Twilight answered stiffly, again adjusting her glasses. They were black and rectangular, and Applejack had never seen Twilight wear them before. "It's quite simple. All of the ponies in this town are crazy."
For a moment they simply stared at each other.
Then suddenly, her words sank in, and Applejack frowned. "Hey, I take offense to that!"
"It's not your fault, Applejack," Twilight said soothingly. Her quill was already scratching away at the clipboard floating before her. "You and everypony else probably have many deep-seated issues that can be traced back to your childhoods, and I'm going to help all of you root them out and take care of them before they get any worse. It'll probably take a long time to fully psychoanalyze the entire town, though, so I'm starting with my friends. You're my first, isn't that exciting?"
"How kin you just come right out and accuse Ponyville of bein' crazy?" Applejack said irritably, ignoring the condescending smile Twilight wore as she continued to write. "You don't know us! You've barely lived here for a year, how kin you judge us? D'you seriously think you kin just march in here with, with yer fancy quill and ink and yer hoity-toity glasses and tell us what's wrong with us and how to fix it? Maybe we like being this way, ever think of that?!"
Twilight set down the quill, magically pulling a thick paperback book from a nearby shelf and flipping through the pages. "I understand that you might have some misgivings about therapy. It said so in my book."
"Lemme guess. Egghead's Guide to Gettin' on Everypony's Cases 'Bout Nothin'?"
"No," Twilight said, and floated the copy so that Applejack could see the title. It was bound in yellow, with a black and white drawing of a befuddled, goggle-eyed pony lying on a sofa much like the one Applejack was on. It was called 'The Foal's Guide to Psychology.'
"What in tarnation -" Applejack muttered, reaching for it; but Twilight magically yanked it from her hooves so that she could look at it herself, smiling happily. She never seemed as happy as she did when near books.
"It's a fantastic reference guide!" The purple unicorn bubbled, professional attitude forgotten in her eagerness to share with her friend. She turned the book, continuing to turn the pages to show Applejack a blur of text and diagrams. "It has everything there is to know about personality and behaviour, and it has a massive list of potential disorders in the index! I figured that all I have to do is read up on the symptoms, and compare them to what I know about the pony in question, and I can diagnose everypony before I actually see them. Then all I have to do is tell them what their problem is and we can come up with a plan for fixing it. Isn't that a great idea? It'll be so efficient, and -"
"Twi, you can't be serious." Applejack interrupted. "This is just ridiculous. You know that, right?"
Twilight stopped flipping the pages and floated the book back to it's space on the shelf. "What do you mean?"
"You can't possibly think you know everythin' 'bout a pony just because you've seen them around town every once in a while. And this book here doesn't look like the most reliable source." She added, eyeing the 'Foal' in the title. "If you're really worried that somepony has a serious problem, shouldn't you find a professional to take the time needed to help them, instead of doin' it yourself?"
"Applejack!" Twilight cried indignantly, hooves on her sides in a proud stance, face flushing. "Do you think I can't do this? Don't you think I've studied up on it enough?"
"Well -" Applejack began, but Twilight wasn't about to let her finish.
"I've read just about every book about psychology and psychoanalysis that I could find in the library! And that's why I'm starting with my friends, because I know you better than the other ponies!"
"Twi." Applejack interrupted. Twilight was scowling, bun getting astray and glasses now slightly crooked. She'd dropped her quill and pad in the heat of the moment. "I know yer smart, smarter than most of the folks 'round town. I'm not tryin' to insult you. I'm just sayin' that it's a lot yer tryin' to take on. Dontcha remember when I tried to harvest all the apples at the farm by myself? I was a mess at the end, and because yer a good friend you made me stop and see that I couldn't handle it on my own. And that's what I'm doin' now."
Twilight looked away. Neither of them spoke. The only sound in the room was the loud, steady tocking of the clock hanging on the wall.
"Don't you think I can help you?" Twilight asked pathetically.
Applejack sighed. Her back was getting incredibly sore from lying down like this, and she was itching to get back to the orchards. She'd been all for humoring Twilight on whatever venture she was attempting when she'd first gotten dragged along, but this was just ridiculous. Forced therapy? Honestly, she knew that Twilight could be a bit out there - in a way, Twi had a point, most of the ponies in Ponyville werea bit unusual - but that was just because she didn't really know how to socialize, and was having trouble making friends. But accusing an entire city of insanity and taking it upon yourself to cure them wasn't really the best way of fixing that.
"Help me with what?" she finally asked. She hated to admit it, but curiosity was getting the best of her.
"I was just getting to that," the unicorn announced triumphantly, hurt feelings apparently forgotten as she telekinetically picked up her clipboard again.
"Now, I know that you pride yourself on your honesty. But most of us lie to some degree, typically to avoid provoking conflict, so it's unusual to find somepony committed to absolute honesty, no matter what."
Her tone had become clipped and clinical, as if she was just reciting a pre-prepared speech. Which she probably was, if the way she was reading straight from the pag was any sign.
Applejack couldn't help it. She grinned. It was true, she'd always been a straight shooter. Even as a filly she could never bring herself to lie; or at least, not well. Honesty was the best policy, that was her motto. Nothing was gained by trying to fly under the radar, and in the end, the truth always found a way to come out, so why not save time and come out with it from the beginning?
"You're also poor at deception, and have trouble recognizing deception in others." Twilight continued.
Her grin dropped slightly. That was true as well, but wasn't as nice to hear. More than once she'd been made a fool of for believing something that, in retrospect, was an obvious lie. Usually because Rainbow Dash or Pinkie Pie were intending to do just that.
"For the most part you are able to sustain good relations with others by holding your tongue, but occasionally you let your need to tell the truth get the better of you, and can be hurtful. You might not realize it, but sometimes honesty can damage friendships."
"That's just silly, I'm the git-allonginest pony there ever was."
"That's not a word. But to get straight to the point, I believe you have autism."
Applejack bolted upright, then winced and fell back on the couch. Ponies weren't meant to sit up that way. But she couldn't help it; she'd been so startled that she'd found herself springing up before she could help it.
"What did you just say?!" She shouted.
"Autism." Twilight repeated. "The key to lying is thinking of an imaginary scenario or abstract concept that doesn't really apply to anything. If you want to lie, you have to be able to understand the way others might think, or how they're likely to think, to work out how to hide the truth from them. But autistics have trouble deceiving because they have difficulties putting themselves in another ponies hooves that way."
"Is that...I...I can't...you just..." Applejack spluttered, eyes wild as she stared at the ceiling above her.
"I know, it's frightening how accurate the diagnosis is. It just seems to fit you, doesn't it?" Twilight said eagerly, looking up from her notes. "Doesn't it just seem so...right? Doesn't it just seem to scream YES at you? The book said that ponies sometimes get scared when the truth hits too close to home."
"Ain't there more to autism than that?" Applejack finally asked. "That can't be it. I don't like lyin', so I have autism? That's too simple."
"According to my book - "
"Maybe it's just because I'm the element of honesty. Yer big, smart, unicorn brain ever think of that?"
"Applejack, I know it can be hard coming to terms with it, but this is your reality." Twilight said soothingly, reaching out with a hoof to stroke Applejack's mane in what was presumably a comforting manner. The earth pony jerked away, scowling. "It's possible to live with this. I know that it can be upsetting at first, but what you need to understand is that it's not your fault."
"A load of horse-apples, is what it is."
"There's no known cause and no known cure, but there are treatments you can try." Twilight continued, ignoring the outburst completely. "For example, there are medications you can take. You could try music therapy or massage thereapy, too. I don't know much about those, but they're in the book, so I'm sure they're fine. And I'm willing bet that there are many other things you could try. You can learn to function, Applejack. This doesn't have to define you."
"I kin function just fine!" Applejack shouted, awkwardly sliding off the sofa. She didn't even know why she'd sat through this for so long, when it had been clear from the beginning that it was just going to end badly. "I run the family farm all on my own, don't that count as 'functioning?!' Even if yer right, I got along this well my whole life, I don't well need to stop and do somethin' 'bout it now! I'm doin' fine and so's everypony else, and you don't got no damn right to barge in and tell us to change!"
"Applejack! I told you about using double negatives around me!" Twilight snapped, not even looking up from her notes.
"I don't care! Here's the honest truth - you'rethe crazy one!"
Twilight didn't seem to hear her. She was mumbling to herself excitedly about different treatment plans she could establish for Applejack, horn glowing softly as she scribbled away.
"I better not hear of you tryin' any of this baloney on mah brother or sister, yah hear?!" Applejack called from the doorway.
"If you see Rainbow Dash, tell her I want to talk to her!" Twilight called back.
The door slammed shut.