As Twilight approached the Apple family farm, a feeling of intense emotional distress overwhelmed her. It wasn't her own.
"I can see them. They're struggling."
"That second sight of yours is somethin' else." Spike commented.
The Alicorn clung tightly to the copy of Portrait of the Goddess in her coat pocket. She had to find an excuse to show it to Apple Bloom.
"I'll think of something."
Twilight approached the door. She closed her eyes.
"This is it." she spoke.
Spike knocked on her behalf.
Applejack opened the door. Seeing Twilight brought a smile to her face. The Alicorn felt a deep discomfort settle in her chest. She peeled back the farm pony's façade with x-ray precision.
"Apple Bloom's gettin' ready for breakfast. Y'all eaten yet?"
Twilight shook her head.
"Come on in. We'll fix ya some plates."
The Alicorn and her brother stepped inside. They looked around. The house was modest, with just enough room to fit everyone: a quaint little place if ever one existed.
"Y'all must be Applejack's friends she's told us so much about." an elderly mare greeted. She had green fur, a white mane tied in a bun, and red-gold eyes.
"You must be Granny Smith. I'm Twilight. This is my younger brother, Spike. It's a pleasure to meet you."
"Well ain't you just the sweetest little thing?"
"Would you like some help?"
"Now don't you fret. I might not be a spring chicken no more, but I ain't down for the count yet. Why don't ya take a seat over there? Breakfast'll be ready in a few minutes."
Granny pointed to a table just a few feet away.
"Thank you." Twilight said graciously.
"Not at all."
A muscular red stallion strolled down the staircase. Twilight felt her face flush at the mere sight of him.
"Howdy." he said in a thick southern drawl.
"Name's Big Mac."
"You're Aj's brother, right?" Spike inquired.
"Ya got more out of him just now than we do in six months." Applejack said in jest.
"When most of your day consists of workin', ya learn to be concise." Mac responded.
Spike waited until the Apples turned their backs before whispering to Twilight.
"Somebody's got butterflies." he uttered.
Twilight placed a hoof over her mouth in an attempt to silence her brother.
"Hey, I'd go gay for him." the dragon continued.
Twilight rolled her eyes.
A filly with a red mane and pink bow strolled down the stairs. Twilight gripped Spike's hand under the table. The unease she felt before was amplified multiple times over by the child's presence.
"Twilight?" the young girl questioned.
The Alicorn's expression remained unchanged. Twilight simply nodded. The experience was so much more surreal than either of them could've imagined. Apple Bloom took her seat at the end next to Twilight.
Twilight and Spike answered all the usual questions about their hometown and educational backgrounds. Truth be told, neither of them were really interested in the conversation. It was merely a formality until they could seize the flow. After breakfast, they got their chance.
"I have to help Granny and Big Mac around the farm today," Applejack stated, "Y'all mind keepin' A.B. some company?"
"I can help," Twilight offered, "I'm used to physical labor."
"Sure you don't mind?" Applejack asked.
"Not at all. Spike can stay here."
"That's mighty kind of ya."
"Don't mention it."
Twilight moved next to Spike. She slipped the CD into his coat and used a spell to communicate with him telepathically.
"Take care of her."