Twilight drowsily rubbed her eyes as the morning light began trickling through her bedroom window. As she went through her usual morning routine of stretching and brushing her mane, she mentally recounted the events of the previous night. She wasn’t sure if she was handling it well, or if the reality had just not sunk in completely. She couldn’t recall the last time anypony had tried to do such an awful thing to themselves. In fact, Twilight was unsure that there had been even a single suicide attempt, let alone a successful one, among ponykind in the last few hundred years.
“Just what have I gotten myself into...” Twilight sighed, looking into her mirror halfway expecting her reflection to respond. “More important than that, I hope he’s gonna be ok.”
Satisfied with the precise orderliness of her appearance, Twilight cantered down the hallway towards the stairs. Passing by Sam’s room, she decided to check on him. She slowly creaked open the door, and craned her neck in through the crack.
Sam wasn’t in his room.
Fearing the worst, Twilight quickly tore through the top floor. Having no luck in finding him there, she practically flew down the stairs, yelling out his name.
“Sam! Where’d you go?!” Her eyes were wide with the realization that, if Sam had indeed made another attempt on his own life, she might be too late. She came skidding and stumbling to a stop in the kitchen where Spike, previously enjoying himself in the task of making breakfast, was standing at attention, on alert.
“What’s wrong Twilight?!?”
“It’s Sam, I can’t find him, please tell me you’ve seen him!”
Almost immediately, Spike relaxed and stood at ease. “Chill, will ya? He’s just downstairs in the basement. Something about transforming and neutron mumbo jumbo. Go see for yourself! I’ve almost got breakfast ready for us anyway.”
Suspiciously eyeing Spike, Twilight made her way to the cellar. Sure enough, she saw Sam’s familiar blue cotton coveralls, their wearer hunched over Twilight’s workbench quietly humming to himself. Twilight let out a relieved sigh as she trotted down to see what he was up to.
“Well, you certainly made for an early start today! Glad to see you’re feeling better,” Twilight said with an almost-strained cheer in her voice.
Sam stood up with a start, quickly relaxing as he realized who his visitor was. “Ah, uhm, yeah, after last night, I couldn’t really sleep,” Sam said, scratching the back of his head with a wrench, “and what you said to me last night... I got to thinking, you’re right. Getting my civilization’s knowledge back is probably one of the best things I can do. I think I like the idea of having some sort of ‘grand project’ to pour myself into. Of course, all the knowledge and expertise in the world won’t help if I don’t have the right kind of power.”
Twilight cocked her head. “What do you mean? Don’t your devices run on electricity like my lab equipment here?”
Sam nodded. “Yeah, they do, but it’s not that simple. See, it took me some very... Shocking, if you’ll pardon the pun, efforts to figure out what voltage your system uses. Thankfully, you ponies had a little surprise for me; I wasn’t expecting for your technology to have already advanced to using alternating current.”
“Why is that?”
“For starters, it saves me from having to put together an inverter to convert direct current to alternating so that I can use my chargers. Those inverter circuits are fairly irritating to deal with. And, it seems you are using a frequency similar to what we used. It’s not exactly what I’d like it to be, but it’ll do well enough for my purposes. That means that all I need to do is wire up a transformer,” Sam pointed to an iron ring with a coil of wire wrapped around each side, “to step down the voltage for my power adapters.”
Twilight laughed. “So that’s what Spike was rambling on about.”
Sam put his hand over his face, shaking his head. “But yeah, been down here for a few hours plugging away at that thing. Be glad you aren’t an electrician; it might be a week before I get feeling in my hands back,’ Sam winced, flexing his fingers. Twilight saw several small burn marks on his hands.
Twilight put a hoof to her chin to think. “Once you get that transformer made, you’ll be able to use your computer and everything else?” Sam nodded in response.
Sam continued wrapping the wire around the iron. “Yeah, then I can do more than just answer your questions. I’ve got tons of pictures and other bits of my old life stored on it...” He sighed, set down the transformer, and turned to face the unicorn librarian. “Hey, look, um, I’m not that great at apologies, but...”
Twilight interrupted, smiling. “Oh no, you don’t have to apologize for anyth-”
“No, let me finish, please.”
“Sorry,” Twilight grinned sheepishly.
“It’s alright, look, I know I haven’t exactly been the most pleasant guy in the world since I’ve been here. And I’m especially sorry that I pulled that little stunt last night. I swear I’m not usually like that; I don’t know what was up with me.” Sam sat down on the bench. “So I guess what I’m saying is, I’m sorry, and thank you for being so understanding. And thanks for being there for me last night. It’s been a long time since I’ve really had someone to talk to.”
Twilight trotted over to the bench and jumped up next to Sam. “Like I said, you don’t have to apologize for anything. I can’t imagine how crazy this whole ordeal has been for you. I could probably read every book in Equestria and still have no idea what I would do in your position.”
The two sat in silence for a few moments, before the loud gurgling of unsatisfied appetites broke the quiet, causing both of them to laugh awkwardly.
Sam stood up. “Maybe I should take a break for some breakfast...”
“Yeah, Spike was just finishing up the cooking when I came down, I think he’s made some blueberry muffins today.” Twilight jumped down from the stool. “Feel up to taking more questions afterwards?”
“Sure. I kinda cut things short yesterday, didn’t I?”
Sam and Twilight made their way back upstairs to the kitchen.
After they’d finished their morning meal, Twilight and Sam moved to her study for another round of interviewing.
“Before you start interviewing me again, mind if I ask a question first?”
Twilight nodded. “Frankly I’m surprised you don’t ask more. Please go ahead!”
Sam pointed at Twilight’s flank. “Yeah, so those flank-marks that all the ponies seem to have, does everyone here go and get tattoos on their rear ends? What’s with that?”
Twilight giggled. “Oh you mean our ‘cutie-marks’. They just sort of appear; their appearance is related to our special talent or whatever our greatest passion in life is, and once we learn and realize what that is, our marks appear. My talent is magic, and I think the reason my mark is a starburst is because, when I discovered my ability, the sheer power of my ability caused a bright, colorful flash. At least, that’s what the Princess told me; I kind of went into a trance. It was a strange afternoon. I even accidentally turned my mom and dad into potted plants!” She noticed Sam’s shocked look. “Oh, don’t worry! The Princess helped me change them back. They’re both just fine!”
Sam scratched his head. “I guess that all makes about as much sense as anything else around here. That’s all I’ve got for now.”
Twilight once again readied her quill, ink, and parchment, levitating them in the air around her. She cleared her throat.
“So... The last thing we talked about was some of the things your culture liked doing... But I feel like I haven’t really gotten to know you yet.”
Sam raised an eyebrow. “...And you need to take notes for that?”
Twilight grinned. “Oh, that’s just to take down anything interesting about your time that you talk about, it’s not like I’ll be writing down your favorite color or anything! Anyway... You’ve already told me how you got here, but would you mind giving me a short history of yourself? I guess start with your childhood. And please, if you don’t want to talk about something, just tell me and we can talk about something else.”
“Sure. For starters, I’m 24 years old, a fairly young adult by my society’s measure, so my childhood wasn’t all that long ago, to me anyway. I grew up in an area not too dissimilar from Ponyville, really rural place. My grandparents owned a farm, they grew hay mostly, but raised some cows and horses on the side. I went to school like a normal kid, but during the summer I’d help my grandpa out on the farm with my cousins, go to the beach with my parents and my sister, you know, pretty normal childhood for where I grew up...”
“What’s her name? Your sister, I mean.”
“Ellen. She was my complete polar opposite, haha...” Sam’s eyes briefly watered up before he continued. “Totally outgoing, bubbly personality, and so nice to everyone that she was actually kind of annoying sometimes.”
“Sounds like a certain friend of mine,” Twilight said with a giggle.
“Speaking of your friends, am I going to get to meet anyone else any time soon?”
“Definitely. I’ve been meaning to invite one or two over, but they’re about as busy as I am anyway.” Twilight made a note to herself: Invite friends to meet Sam?
“But anyway, yeah, my childhood was pretty normal up until my teenage years. I’d always been kind of a geek, an egghead, but it wasn’t until then that it was really obvious. I can’t tell you how much my classmates enjoyed teasing and picking on me. I kinda stopped trying to make friends at about that time.” Sam shifted his gaze to the floorboards.
Twilight’s memory flashed images of her own schoolfilly days, particularly her time in magic kindergarten. She could still hear her classmates’ jeers and giggles at her expense as they played keep-away, levitating her favorite books away from her through the air.
Sam snapped his fingers. “Twilight? You ok there?” Her eyes, and mind, seemed focused on something far off in the distance.
Coming back to reality, Twilight shook her head. “Yeah, sorry. That kinda brought back some nasty memories of my own... Kids are pretty rotten sometimes.”
“Yeah, no kidding. It wasn’t until high school and university that I really came into my own. I studied hard, with the idea being that if I worked hard enough, I could get into a nice, big university and kind of remake myself. That’s where I started studying computer engineering.”
“Sounds like me when the Princess sent me here. Until then, books were pretty much my whole social circle.” Twilight didn’t show it, but she was secretly delighted that she and Sam had something like this in common. She loved her friends dearly, but they didn’t always understand what it was like for her to be such an introvert, so controlling of who she let into her life. Well... Maybe Fluttershy understood, but she’s terrified of her own shadow.
“Heh, even in university, that much only changed a little for me. Engineering is a pretty demanding subject. But it was worth it, I got hired by a large company right after I graduated. They paid pretty well, but that wasn’t the real benefit of working for them. That time machine I was in? My company was contracted as one of the research facilities to help design them. If I hadn’t gotten that job, my family and I would have likely been stuck in a refugee camp or something after the war started. Funny how things work out, eh?”
The hours quickly ticked by. Much to Twilight’s relief, Sam seemed to be in better spirits about discussing his past. Though he would still find himself tearing up when a painful reminder of his lost family cropped up in conversation, both he and Twilight were doubled over with laughter as Sam recounted a series of birthdays on which he and his best friend pranked each other rather than exchange gifts. Twilight again found herself questioning Sam’s sanity, though, as he ended that story.
“...And we finally decided to give it a rest when he... He...” Sam couldn’t breathe for all of his laughing, “He gave me a pipe bomb!” Sam’s face was flushed and his eyes streaming tears, as he attempted to catch his breath and avoid falling out of his chair.
Twilight decided at that moment that she’d likely never fully understand some ponies, or ‘people’, as Sam referred to others. Setting aside her writing tools, she felt a brief pang of disappointment that she hadn’t really taken down any notes. That feeling was quickly supplanted, however, by a sense of satisfaction over the fact that she had seen Sam actually smiling and laughing for the first time since she’d met him. She could still see the distinct pallor of grief hanging about his face, but it was having to fight for dominance with the grin that Sam wore as he recovered from his laughing fit.
Finding Sam’s last story to be as good as any for a stopping point, Twilight stood up and stretched her legs. “I’m going to go grab a sandwich. Are you ready for some lunch?”
Sam shook his head. “No, I’m fine, I think I’ll go back downstairs and work on that transformer a little more.”
“Alright, suit yourself! If I can help, let me know!”
Sam went back down to the basement, and Twilight trotted over into the kitchen. As she began levitating to the table the necessary ingredients for a lettuce, cucumber, and daisy sandwich, Twilight was relieved at the change she had seen in Sam. She could tell that his ordeal had worn heavily on him, that much wasn’t going to change anytime soon, but seeing him laugh the way he did earlier reassured her that he would be ok.
Sam lost himself in his work. His hands were beginning to cramp after hours of tedious calculations, electrical testing to figure out the line voltage and frequency, and winding the transformer wires. He felt an odd sense of satisfaction from having to do all of this work the old-fashioned way, without the use of voltmeters and all of the other advanced tools he used to take for granted.
His right hand began to throb painfully as it demanded a break. He obliged, sitting back from the table with a sigh. Sam still felt terrible about the incident the night before; he wasn’t normally the type to let his emotions overtake him like that. He was especially ashamed that he had caused Twilight so much extra stress on top of the burden she normally carried; it was obvious to him that she was usually a fairly high-strung individual. He resolved to make it up to her somehow.
All the same, Sam was a little shocked at how much better he was feeling. He still felt a terrible grief clawing at his insides, but a new emotion was floating alongside it in his mind, a feeling he had not experienced since the war had begun in his own time: relief. It wasn’t just that he no longer had to deal with the daily drudges and responsibilities of working in a wartime research base, or that he no longer had to fear sudden death from falling bombs. During the war, he scarcely had anyone to really talk to; when on the job, Sam and the rest of his fellow engineers focused solely on the task at hand, and he certainly didn’t want to trouble his family’s already worried minds with his own problems. Embarrassed as he was that she had seen him in such a rough condition the previous night, Sam was glad Twilight had been there to lend him a sympathetic ear, after saving him from himself, of course.
Sam jumped back into his task. Upon finishing the transformer, he decided to test it out on his least important item, his music player. He found it odd that, even two hundred years after Apple Inc. had been broken up as a monopoly and sold off, the term ‘iPod’ had stuck around as a generic name for such devices. Sam hesitantly got the necessary cabling connected, and plugged in the charger; he caught himself holding his breath as he waited for the device’s screen to light up and indicate charging. After a few tense seconds, sure enough, the iPod powered up, relieving Sam’s anxiety over whether or not he’d be deprived of his music, one of his only remaining luxuries from his own time.
Sam decided this was a good point to stop and take a break; he wished he had gone ahead and eaten lunch when Twilight did, his stomach angrily grumbling in agreement.
The rest of the evening passed uneventfully. Sam had decided to wait his hunger out another hour and have dinner with Spike and Twilight. Remembering Sam’s mentioning of fish as a good food source for humans, Twilight had Spike try his hand at catching a few. Seeing as how neither the young dragon or the unicorn mare ate any sort of meat, they had no idea how to prepare it for their housemate, so Sam took it upon himself to do something he hadn’t done since before the war had started. He attempted to cook. He quickly remembered why he usually stuck with simple dishes or let his past girlfriends cook for him; he effortlessly burnt the fish to a black, inedible crisp.
Even after living at Twilight’s library for a few days, Sam still seemed to be having trouble getting used to bathing in a shower designed for a creature that was, at most, half his height. He found himself having to crouch just to fit underneath the shower head, and Twilight had already learned to dismiss Sam’s yells of pain, annoyance, and frustration when he slipped. She had no idea why he kept making loud, angry references about gods and dams, though, and made a mental note to ask Sam about religion the next time they had a question session.
Everyone settled into their beds for the night. Twilight drifted off to sleep with a small, satisfied smile on her face, confident that Princess Celestia would be proud of her for taking such good care of Sam so far. Spike wasn’t quite as satisfied; after all, he watched Sam burn up on the stove almost all of the effort he had put forth to catch those fish.
Sam, however, was just simply not sleeping well at all. He managed to drift off briefly, but was abruptly jolted back to consciousness. He had once again had a nightmare, the same one as usual; walking with his family on the beach, before being blasted to oblivion by a nuclear explosion. Feeling familiar with this dream by now, he managed to keep quiet despite his cold sweat and racing pulse.
As he stared at the ceiling, wondering if he would be able to sleep at all that night, one question stuck out in his mind.
Sam took a few deep breaths. “I wonder if things turned out ok for everyone. I hope mom, dad, and Ellen managed to live the best lives they could, wherever and whenever they ended up...”
The next day passed relatively quickly. Twilight decided not to have a question session that day, as she wanted to take a day to catch up on some other studies she had been working on before she took on Sam. Besides, she thought it would be nice to give Sam a little time to himself; she knew he’d probably spend most of it working on restoring the archive drive, but if he was anything like herself, Twilight figured letting him lose himself in his project would help him clear his head.
Still, the unicorn did occasionally take a few minutes for a study break to go check on her human friend, to make sure he wasn’t working himself crazy. Twilight cringed slightly as she remembered that everypony in Ponyville was aware of the sort of hijinks that occurred when she didn’t manage her stress in a healthy manner.
Twilight sighed. “I never did get my old stuffed doll back... I think Big Mac ran off with it,” she said to herself. She trotted down the stairs to see how Sam was doing. Just as with last time, he was so absorbed in his project that he didn’t hear the sound of hooves on the ground coming up behind him.
“How’s it coming along, Sam?” Twilight asked, a cheerful smile on her face.
Sam jumped straight into the air with a shout. Upon landing, with an exasperated tone he said, “Geez, do you always have to startle me like that?” His glare softened when he saw her grinning. “I suppose you do, don’t you.”
Twilight giggled. “I’m sorry, it’s too easy! You must just be really focused. You know I called your name like three times as I was coming down, right?”
Sam shrugged. “Guess I just didn’t hear.”
“That much is obvious.” Twilight was laughing again. “How is everything coming along?”
Sam motioned for her to take a closer look at his work, and pointed to a segment of metal and plastic that he had under Twilight’s desk-mount magnifying glass. “You see this? This is the main bit of damage here. Those tiny little metal lines are the connections I have to remake. Hopefully, that’s the only real problem, but I won’t know until I can connect it to my computer.” He turned to face Twilight again. “I’m actually glad you came down here, I need a soldering iron to actually connect the metal and some of these other parts. You wouldn’t happen to have one would you? I haven’t seen one down here.”
Twilight shook her head. “No, I’m afraid I don’t. I think my friend Rarity does, though.”
Sam raised an eyebrow. “You mean one of your friends is also into electronics? I didn’t think this sort of stuff was common knowledge in Equestria.”
“Oh, no, she’s not, she’s a dress designer.”
“I don’t follow. Why would she have a soldering iron?”
“She loves to use jewelry and gemstones to add to her designs, and she sometimes uses a soldering iron to work with the gemstones’ metal settings. I’ll ask her to bring one over; I’m going to meet her in town in an hour or so. I'm inviting her and one of my other friends, Applejack, to drop by tomorrow. They’ve been interested in seeing what’s kept me so busy lately.”
“Thanks, that would be incredibly helpful.” Sam frowned a little. “Are you sure it’s a good idea for your friends to meet me? Didn’t you say they’re really easily spooked?”
Twilight laughed. “Oh, it’s fine. They, and my other friends, have dealt with things far more... Terrifying than you. Applejack and Rarity are two of my more level-headed friends. Now, if we were talking about my other three friends, it would be a different story.”
“Well... You’d go over great with Pinkie Pie, she loves EVERYpony, but she’s so over-the-top hyperactive that, frankly, I’m not sure you’re ready to deal with her yet,” Twilight said with a giggle. “Rainbow Dash, well, she’s a great friend, though sometimes she needs to be reigned in a bit. She’s off in Cloudsdale right now anyway. Then, there’s Fluttershy. YOU would have nothing to worry about from her, she’s a really gentle pony, but unless she were to see that most of us are okay around you, she might just be scared to death of you. Her name is very fitting, I’m afraid. It’s an issue of hers that we’re working on with her...”
“Sounds like a rather interesting group.”
Twilight sighed. “You have no idea. I love them all dearly but you wouldn’t believe the situations we get ourselves into with each other. Oh, speaking of my dress-making friend, that reminds me of a question I’ve been meaning to ask for a while. Do you humans always wear clothes? Why exactly is that?”
“Yeah, we pretty much always wear them. We aren’t like most animals; we really only have a small amount of hair covering a few areas of our bodies. Unless the climate is really temperate, we don’t keep a great deal of our body heat. Plus, some members of my species who have lighter skin, like myself, can get nasty sunburns pretty easily. Now, there are some races that wore very little, if any, clothing, but they lived in much warmer climates, and they had darker skin that could better handle the sun.”
“Wow. Really only the more wealthy ponies wear clothes as frequently as you do. Most of us just dress up for special occasions, like the Gala that my friends and I attended several months back. Rarity made us the most beautiful dresses!”
“Is that so? So far, the only ponies I’ve seen wearing clothes were the palace guards and the two scientists that first studied me. But yeah, those are the reasons why my species first started covering ourselves. We almost never go unclothed, even if the environment would allow it.” Sam laughed. “We have a pretty strong sense of modesty.”
“I’m sure Rarity will LOVE to meet you; somepony who wears clothes all the time? That sort of customer would be a dream come true for her,” Twilight chuckled.
Sam got the feeling that an encounter with Rarity might not be as much fun for him.
Twilight suddenly remembered how much reading she still had left to finish. “Well, I’ll let you get back to work. I need to get back myself. If you need anything, just let me or Spike know!”
“I heard that! I’m napping!” A faint voice yelled from upstairs.
Sam and Twilight quietly spent the rest of the day diligently working at their tasks. Sam spent much of his time almost on autopilot taking notes of the supplies and tools he would need to get started on this task. He especially enjoyed having his iPod recharged; he could feel the seconds quickly turning into hours as he continued his work.
Finally, around dinner time, Twilight decided she had read enough; her vision was beginning to blur due to eye fatigue. She went downstairs to see if Sam was ready to eat as well; she had stumbled across detailed, foolproof instructions on how to cook fish, and there was still one left untouched from the previous night’s dinner disaster.
Sam knew it had to have been a little unpleasant for Twilight to look up information on how to prepare and cook meat, but he was thankful that she had gone out of her way to further take care of him like that.
In between mouthfuls of bread and fish, Sam spoke up. “Hey, Twilight, thanks for finding that recipe, you have no idea how long it’s been since I’ve had food like this. This is nearly as good as when my grandma would cook for me.”
Twilight smiled. “Oh, it was no problem. I’m just glad the kitchen doesn’t smell like fire and smoke again.”
“Hey, what about me? I’m the one who went through all the trouble of catching those things,” Spike yelled with a pout.
“Don’t worry, I was getting to you, besides, I did thank you last night, remember? But I’ll say it again, thanks so much for getting these for me. Though, next time, take me with you and I’ll show you an easier way than just using your claws.” Sam had no intention of making Spike permanently take fishing duty, but he did want to spend a little time getting to know his other housemate. Besides, if he’s a friend of Twilight’s, surely he’s not always that sarcastic. He’s almost as bad as me sometimes, though.
“Oh, yeah, you’re right, sorry,” Spike replied, a red hint of embarrassment showing on his face. “That would be great though, those fish are ridiculously slippery, dude.”
“No problem.” Sam resumed chowing down.
The three continued their meal, exchanging a little bit of small talk about what they had done over the course of the day in between mouthfuls. After the meal was finished, and the dishes washed and put away, everyone returned to their earlier tasks for a brief time before getting ready for bed.
After breakfast the next day, Twilight insisted that Sam take a break from his archive work, as she expected Applejack and Rarity to stop in at any moment.
Sure enough, only a few minutes passed before there was a knock at the door. Twilight’s horn glowed briefly as she opened the door from across the room.
“Come on in, girls!” She called to the door.
Two ponies stepped inside. The first to enter was a orange pony with a blonde mane covered with a Stetson hat, a few light freckles dotting her face, and three apples marking her flank. Sam noticed that she was a bit more similar to ponies he’d seen in his own time, as her forehead lacked a horn. The second guest was an alabaster white unicorn, her purple mane and tail obviously painstakingly styled into position, with three diamonds on her flank.
The orange one spoke up first. “Hi there Twi’, so what’s this project of yers that’s kept ya so busy lately?”
The white unicorn added, “Yes, darling, we’ve all been wondering where you’ve been and if you were ok!”
Twilight pointed a hoof towards Sam. “Girls, meet Sam Mitchell. Sam, meet Applejack,” she pointed at the orange pony, “and Rarity,” pointing at the white pony. Both guests’ eyes were wide open.
“Lands’ sakes, Twilight, what is that?” Applejack exclaimed.
“Sam’s a human. Long story short, a long time before Equestria existed, and before even the Princesses existed, there was an entire race of humans like Sam. He managed to travel forward in time from...” Twilight scratched her head as she thought, “How long ago did you say it was, Sam?”
“I’d say it was at the very least a few hundred million years ago,” Sam replied.
Rarity’s eyes bugged out even further. “He can talk?!”
“Yes, I can. And it’s very nice to finally meet some of Twilight’s friends.” Sam extended a hand in their direction.
Applejack quickly picked up on the gesture; she trotted over to him and placed a hoof into his hand and they shook. “Nice ta meet ya, Sam, any friend o’ Twilight’s is a friend o’ mine.” She withdrew her hoof. “Say, Twilight, how’d he end up with you anyhow?”
Rarity interjected, “And why is he wearing such ghastly unfashionable clothing?!”
“Rarity!” Twilight gave a slight scowl in her direction, as did Sam.
“What? It is though, dear...” Rarity pouted slightly.
“Anyway, AJ, he’s here with me by request of the Princess. I’m supposed to help him adjust to living among ponykind and learn about him and his people. Also, he’s spending his time here with me repairing a data archive he had with him. You have no idea how much we have to learn from him!”
“Eh heh, ya’ll have fun with that Twi. So Sam, how ya likin’ Ponyville so far? Right pleasant place ain’t it?”
Sam reached up and absent-mindedly rubbed the back of his head. “To be honest, I haven’t really gotten to see much of it yet; Twilight wants to be careful about introducing me into society.”
“Well now that’s a darn shame. Tell ya what, if you and Twilight have a moment tomorrow, ya’ll oughta drop by Sweet Apple Acres. You’re lookin’ a little thin there, Sam, so don’t be surprised if’n my Granny Smith tries to fatten ya up with some of our famous Apple Family apple pie, not to mention all our other bits of bakin’.”
Twilight’s face lit up. “You know, AJ, that sounds like a great idea! Didn’t you say you grew up on a farm yourself, Sam?”
Sam nodded. “Yeah, I did. I think I’d like that a lot, Applejack.” Applejack reached up to shake his hand again. Sam looked down and saw Applejack’s smile and bright green eyes looking back up at him. He saw the kindness in her eyes and couldn’t help but be reminded of one of his cousins from the summers he spent on the family farm.
“Then it’s settled. Ya’ll come on down soon as you get a minute, and I’ll show ya ‘round, Sam.” Applejack turned to Twilight. “Thanks for introducin’ me to yer new friend. I’d love ta stay an’ chat a lil’ more, but Big Mac’s waitin’ on me to help him haul a couple dozen bushels of apples down into the cellar.” Applejack looked back at Sam as she made for the door. “Pleasure ta meet ya Sam, see ya’ll ‘round!”
“So... Sam, Twilight told me yesterday that you needed to borrow one of my irons for your project, I believe I brought one with me if you still need it.” Rarity’s horn glowed as a soldering iron floated out of her saddlebag.
Sam grabbed the iron. “Thank you, Rarity. I’ll return it to you as soon as I’m done, or sooner if you need it back.”
“Oh that’s quite alright, darling, I have a few extra. Keep it as long as you need. If I may ask a question, do you always wear clothes?” Rarity had an eyebrow raised.
“Yeah, actually, we-”
“Oh Celestia!” Rarity’s eyes opened wide. “A creature that always wears clothes! I have so many ideas I would like to try! I would like to apologize for my little outburst earlier. Allow me to rephrase what I said.” Rarity cleared her throat. “Your clothing is very... Worn out. And, I would very much like to make some new clothes for you, if you’ll allow me to take your measurements.”
“Well... Ok, it’s been ages since I’ve worn anything that wasn’t ration- HEY WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” Sam felt his clothes moving seemingly of their own volition.
Twilight saw Rarity’s horn glowing. “Rarity, no! What are you doing?!”
But it was too late. There stood Sam, completely naked. His face red with anger and embarrassment, he yelled, “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?!”
Rarity was completely taken aback and confused. She did that as a matter of course to all of her customers; being unclothed was a fairly normal thing for most of them, and made it much easier for Rarity to take their measurements.
Twilight broke the awkward silence first, hoping to diffuse the situation. “Um, Rarity, give him back his clothes. Humans are a little different from us. They don’t like being unclothed, as Sam explained it to me, they are ‘modest’. And Sam, I’m sorry, I should have mentioned this to her, that’s how it normally goes for us when we go get measurements taken for new clothes...”
Sam had finished redressing himself, muttering profanities under his breath.
“Oh, Sam, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, no need to be modest,” Rarity giggled, “But if I have offended you, please do let me make it up to you, I-”
Sam was having none of it. “I don’t care what you do! I don’t need any fancy-schmancy designer clothes or any garbage like that!”
“Fancy-shmancy? GARBAGE?!” Rarity’s royal-blue eyes were seething with rage. “Just who do you think you are? Most ponies around here pay me top bit for my talents, and yet here I am offering them to you as a gift! Well, I see how it is going to be! Good day Twilight, I will see you later.” Rarity stormed out of the door in a huff.
Twilight had buried her face in her hoof. She looked at Sam angrily. “Was it really necessary for you to yell at her? Generosity is kind of her thing; it really hurt her to yell at her for that.”
Sam was still breathing heavily, attempting to calm his anger. “Was it really necessary for her to strip me naked without even asking first?”
“I know, I know, like I said, I should have said something to her earlier. I’m really sorry. She meant well, I promise. Please tell me you’ll apologize to her next time you meet...”
Sam crossed his arms. “I’ll apologize to that snob as soon as she apologizes for violating me.”
“What’s the big deal? So she took your clothes off...”
“Maybe I wasn’t clear earlier. We’re MODEST, we don’t go in the nude unless we’re taking a shower or, well, having sex! It’s a social taboo!” Sam’s face was beet-red.
Twilight’s eyes shot open in realization. “Oh, Celestia... I didn’t know THAT’S what you meant! I’m SO sorry Sam! Ponies just don’t have the same ideas about nudity as you do...” She buried her face in her hooves. “At least he got along with AJ,” Twilight muttered to herself.
“If anyone needs me, Twilight, I’ll be in the basement,” Sam yelled out after her.
The unicorn and the human both returned to their respective projects, and scarcely spoke to one another until dinner.
Later in the evening, once all three residents of the library had sat down to eat, dinner was covered in an awkward silence. Spike had overheard the ordeal that occurred between his crush and Sam, and was none too thrilled that Sam had insulted Rarity. Twilight was still a bit embarrassed about how the whole thing had unfolded. Sam was just angry, and a bit annoyed with the furious scowl Spike kept shooting him.
Sam decided to be the first to break the quiet. “So... Uh... Twilight, when can we take Applejack up on her offer to have us for a visit?”
Twilight was relieved that somepony was finally talking. “Well, I’ve got some time I can spare tomorrow after breakfast, we’ll go then, if you promise not to insult any more of my friends,” she said dryly.
“Yeah! You can’t talk to Rarity like that!” Spike angrily interjected.
Sam glared back at Spike, who had already set back to attacking his dinner. “Don’t worry Twilight, Applejack seems cool enough in my book.” His expression softened a bit. “She actually reminds me a bit of one of my younger cousins from back on my grandparents’ farm.”
“Really? Your cousin must have been really something, we all think the world of Applejack around here.”
Sam sighed a little. “Yeah, Katie was a great kid...” His eyes watered up briefly. “I really do miss her sometimes.”
Spike chimed in again. “Nice dinner conversation, guys.”
Twilight rolled her eyes while Sam shot Spike another angry look. The conversation ceased for the remainder of the evening.