• Published 25th Aug 2013
  • 10,115 Views, 354 Comments

Just Horsing Around - Darkness Shade



Seemingly lost in his life, a young man finds himself waking up in a strange new land populated by some curious residents. When certain truths are revealed and he finds there's more to his appearing there, how will he adjust to his new life?

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1st Harvest

"Ugh....my head is killing me. Where am I?"

A lone human slowly blinked, his eyes opening to see the sunlight filtering down around him through the treetops; grunting he slowly got the energy to sit up and then immediately regretted it.

"Oh my head....let's try that again."

Taking a deep breath he slowly sat up and then finally managed to get himself into a sitting position before taking a better look around; from what little he could tell he was in a forest of sorts and while he didn't think he was in any immediate danger he was pretty sure he wanted to get out of wherever this was and find civilization quickly.

"Hmmm...I'm not even sure where I am, or how I got here to be honest. What was the last thing I did?" He groaned, holding his head as he slowly walked in what he hoped was north, "I had work....and then I came home and went to the...park? Hmmm...if that was true I should have my music player and phone with me."

Checking his pockets, he did see that his player was in his pocket and still charged as well as his phone but unfortunately for the hapless man he couldn't seem to get any signal which led him to heave a huge sigh.

"Marvelous...well, at least that confirms my thoughts about where I last was. Nothing seems to be broken, nothing really feels off save for this headache....let's see, my memory other than how I got here seems to be intact still...I still remember my name and a bunch of stuff...."

Sighing again at how confusing and disheartening the situation was, he shook his head before nodding and continued on till he thought he heard voices.

"I think it's over this way! We're getting close to where the Princess said she detected that strange influx of energy!"

"Hey! Wait up! I can't run as fast as you with my little legs Twilight!"

The man paused for a moment, wondering who these two voices were; deducing that one was female and the other sounded like a young male he paused before deciding that making contact of some kind was better than tromping about this unknown forest all by himself.

Of course, when he got to where he thought he had heard the female voice running off to he saw something he wouldn't have ever expected: a purple unicorn.

"...well, that's curious." He remarked before noting the unicorn had turned her attention to him, "Hey, easy...easy girl. I'm not here to harm anyone...I'm just lost and thought I heard voices."

The unicorn stared at him with wide eyes as he slowly stepped closer in as non-threatening a manner as he could; when he was close enough to do so he reached out and began to stroke her mane slowly.

"Heh, well I can't say I ever expected to see a unicorn that's such a lovely shade of purple but at least I'm not alone anymore." He laughed softly at the confused look in her eyes, "I'm Ryan by the way...heh, look at me, expecting you to talk back. I guess I'm just tired...of...."

Ryan slowed his speaking when he saw a young dragon of all things come walking up; that wasn't the thing that surprised him the most however.

Oh no, that surprising act was when he began talking before he noticed Ryan.

"Oh finally, there you are Twilight; you shouldn't leave me like that, this forest is always so...creepy?"

"...a talking dragon?"

"Twilight, just a few question: what is that? Who is that? And perhaps most importantly, why are you letting him pet your mane?"

"I don't know, but he seemed lost and confused and I think petting my mane has helped calm his nerves some." Twilight explained before turning and seeing Ryan just standing there looking like he was in a daze, "He said his name is Ryan but I've never seen a creature like him before...I'm so curious but..."

"Twilight..."

"But I wonder what he could be...I wonder if any of my books have something in them about this?"

"Twilight...."

"Maybe he's an unknown species? Or a lost species? Oh! What if he's....!"

"TWILIGHT!"

"...yes Spike?"

"He doesn't look too good."

Sure enough, looking at him she could see Ryan begin to sway and clutch his head.

"Oh mercy, this is a bit much for me to handle at the moment...going down." He groaned before fainting and falling backwards.

Thinking quickly, Twilight used her magic to cushion his fall so that he only fell with a slight whoomp before hitting the soft grass and dirt.

"Is he okay?"

"I don't know Spike but I don't think he was expecting either of us...or that we'd be talking the same language as him." Twilight explained, frowning as she looked at this curious guy, "Stay here with him, I need to go get Applejack to help me carry him back to town."

"You're just gonna take him to Ponyville?!" Spike gasped, "What if he's like a menace or a monster or something?"

"Spike...the way he was acting, he seemed confused and worried; even if I don't know what he is I can't just leave him out here in that state. You know I'm right..."

"I know." Spike sighed, nodding his head, "Hurry up and get Applejack, I'll keep an eye on the big guy."

"He's so weird looking...with those long legs and no tail and...what the heck is he anyway? He's so weird! Maybe you shouldn't have brought him back?"

"Rainbow Dash! You can't just leave a pony...critter...whatever he is just lying there in need of help! That just wouldn't be kindly."

"AppleJack's right; no matter how weird somepony looks if they're in trouble you should help them."

"I for one would like to know where he got that amazing jacket; it has such style and that shirt of his....oh he must have exquisite tastes."

"I don't know about that Rarity, but I bet this guy totally loves to party and stuff! Just look at that shaggy mane of his! Sure it's not as long as ours but it's totally wild and I love it!"

"Guys! You need to be a bit quieter; he obviously had some ordeal given how he was acting before he passed out."

Ryan groaned softly, the sound of six distinct (and clearly female) voices ringing about making it rather hard to stay asleep; as he slowly came too from his dazed state he no longer had the headache that had been bothering him but he still felt achey all over.

"Probably from fainting like that..." He groaned, his eyes fluttering open when he heard a number of gasps surrounding him, "Uh......hi?"

"Holy ponies he can talk!" Rainbow Dash gasped, flying back and hiding at the end of the bed Ryan saw that he was situated in.

"Uhm, yeah, I can talk; hmmmm....I'm still rather confused." He sighed, sliding back into a sitting position and looking at the six...ponies he figured even if they weren't all the same, "Uhm...where..."

"Are you?" Twilight asked, noting he was still a bit disoriented.

"Yeah, that one; not that I don't mind somewhere soft after all that happened but...is this someone's house?"

"...it's...it's mine."

Ryan looked for the owner of the really quiet voice but he couldn't see head nor tail of who said it until he saw a pair of eyes peering at him from behind a chair.

"Oh, well thank you Ms...."

"Uhm...I'm....Fluttershy."

"I...can you speak up a bit? I didn't catch your name."

"Uhm...Fluttershy...my name is Fluttershy."

"Heh, that makes sense from what I can tell...at least what I think passes for sense given I'm clearly not on Earth anymore." Ryan sighed, clutching his head and taking a deep breath.

"Heh, what are you talking about you silly-ba-nilly? This is Earth!"

Ryan looked at the clearly hyperkinetic pink pony and shook his head.

"Well, then I guess I should say it's not my Earth; on my Earth, ponies and other creatures don't speak the human language....nor do unicorns and dragons and...I'm guessing your two hiding friends are Pegasuses? Pegasi? Either way a lot of what I've seen already does not exist in my world." Ryan explained, groaning again and leaning back, "I don't even know where the heck I am?"

"Human? Now what in tarnation is a human?"

"I'm a human...a human being? Do you...do you not have those here?" Ryan asked, looking at the bright orange pony who clearly had a southern accent going on, "Maybe...maybe if we exchange names all around that might help things out....I'm Ryan."

After a quick greeting all around in which Ryan had learned the names of the six ponies (and of course the dragon Spike), he was sitting with them around a table as he tried to come to grips with where he was as well as explain some things.

"Anyway AppleJack, a human being is basically what you're looking at; two legs, two arms, opposable thumbs and fingers." He explained, wiggling his fingers for effect, "I mean, other than getting into deeper physiological bits that's the basic gist."

"Oh, so you've got hands like Spike then."

"Like me huh? Okay! High five for having opposable thumbs!" Spike joked, waiting for Ryan to give him said high five...and then grinning when he finally caved, "Alright!"

"Hahaha, I guess in a world where not everyone has them having opposable thumbs can be a benefit." Ryan remarked with a grin, "Although...how do you grab things without hands? Hmmm, you probably use your mouths but I can imagine you would be able to use your hooves somehow..."

"Well....you're certainly an unusual looking feller that's for sure..and a bit of thinker too."

"Heh, well, that wouldn't be the first time I've been told that but...it sounds a lot nicer coming from you." Ryan laughed, "So...this place? It is Earth...you said it's called Equestria?"

"That's right." Twilight replied with a nod of her head, "And right now you're in a town known as Ponyville where the six of us live."

"Curious." Ryan remarked before taking a glass offered by Spike, "Thanks little buddy, some water is totally what I need right now."

"Okay, so you seem harmless but...." Rainbow Dash fluttered her wings before flying all up in Ryan's face, "Why were you in the Everfree forest? Nothing good ever comes out of there...except Zecora. Where did you come from too? How did you get from there to the Forest!?"

"...heh, I'm guessing you're the brash one of the group huh Dashie?" Ryan asked with a laugh, "All valid questions though...sadly I can't answer as I've no idea how I ended up here of all places. The last thing I can remember before waking up in that forest is taking a walk to the park near my house; I was listening to my music player and then...it gets muddy from there."

"....Dashie?! Hmmmmm, whatever...just don't cause any trouble got it?"

"Will do Dashie."

With the ice broken well enough now, the group talked for a while as explanations as well as a few laughs were shared; all in all Ryan seemed pretty relaxed considering he had no idea why the heck he'd ended up here or how to get home.

"Hmmmm, while having this settled is all well and good...it dawns on me that I haven't a place to stay given my just appearing here." He mused with a frown, "And what will I do for employment or money concerns while I try to figure out what all happened? Hmm....this is a bit of a pickle I've gotten myself into."

"Uhm, if you don't think it too much to bear you could come stay with me and my kin at our farm; we've got plenty of room there so I'm sure we could set you up with something and well, if you don't mind hard work you can always help us with the harvesting to cover living there." AppleJack offered blushing a bit, "I mean, if you don't mind being around some nice country folk that is."

Ryan gave a slight laugh before nodding and winking at AppleJack.

"Darlin', it would make this southern gentleman more than happy to accept your kind offer." Ryan remarked in something more near his actual accent much to AppleJack's surprise, "In all seriousness though, y'all have been quite kind to someone as different looking as I am. I'm very grateful considering I'd be a little more than lost without yer help."

"Oh darling, we're always happy to lend a hoove to someone in need; speaking of, if you'd like to come by town tomorrow I'd be happy to take some measurements and make you some new clothing as long as you let me study that dashing jacket of yours." Rarity remarked.

"And I'd like it if you came by my library tomorrow as well, I can't help but feel that maybe something in one of my books has information about...hoo-mans?"

"Humans Twilight."

"Right! Humans!" Twilight chuckled, feeling a bit sheepish at mispronouncing it.

"Well then Ryan, it seems like y'all got yerself a full day tomorrow so how's about we mosey back to the farm and get some shut eye?" AppleJack asked, smiling when Ryan gave her a grateful smile in return.

"That sounds great AppleJack, well then everyone I'm quite thankful for all the help. I really don't know how to repay you." Ryan stated, giving a slight bow.

"Oh no, it's no problem." Fluttershy quietly replied, "I always help any fellow animal in need after all....humans are animals right?"

"Heh, technically yes we are."

"Oh good, okay then, yes."

With a group hug goodbye till tomorrow, Ryan left with AppleJack while the others made their way back to their homes.

"Well, at least the days seem to be the same length so I lucked out on that one." Ryan made idle small talk as he walked with AppleJack, "I can't imagine having to adjust to some crazy 30 or 48 hour day or something."

"Heh, that would be pretty darn weird I can imagine."

"Hey AppleJack?"

"Yeah Ryan?"

"Your family...they...they won't mind will they? I mean, I hate to impose..."

"Shoot! They'd be just as eager to help out as I am; we're good people so don't you fret. Just be the good pony, er, human you seem to be and you shouldn't have any trouble." AppleJack explained before smirking, "Although my little sister...she might be a bit crazy seeing someone as unique as you around so...try not to let her get to you."

"Haha, duly noted AppleJack."

The rest of the walk went by rather quickly, Ryan and AppleJack swapping some stories and just enjoying the evening; soon enough Ryan could see a large farm come into view, surrounded by apple trees from what he could see.

"Heh, apples. I can't say I'm not surprised." Ryan chuckled, winking at AppleJack as they walked towards the main farmhouse, "That explains yer name at least."

"Well, it is in mah nature after all." AppleJack laughed before motioning behind her, "I mean, that is why my cutie mark is what it is."

"...Cutie Mark?" Ryan asked, a bit perplexed before he looked back and saw a mark on her hind legs, "Oh...that's what those are; I was wondering about that the whole time I was talking with all of you but..a moment to ask never really came up."

"Yep! I got mine when I learned that I preferred the simple life out here in the country, farming on the family ranch."

With that AppleJack gave a knock before opening the door and leading Ryan into the main room where he saw two other ponies enjoying some music that sounded like something his grandfather would've listened to.

"AppleJack, your back at last." Stated an older looking mare as she slowly stood up and walked over to the two of them, "Oh my dearie, who is this rather strapping young buck you've brought back with you?"

"Granny!"

"Haha, he's a bit of a funny looking fellah but he seems like a nice boy; you've got mah blessing."

"Granny!"

"Hahaha, oh my." Ryan laughed softly, his cheeks slightly red at her insinuation, "While I'm flattered at your words ma'am, I'm simply a stranger in this land that your granddaughter generously offered to help out."

"Are you sure sonny? I think you and her would make a right fine pair."

"Eyup!"

"Big Mac, don't you start on that too." AppleJack laughed before eyeing her brother and shaking her head, "That over there is my big brother, Big MacIntosh."

"...so then would your Granny be...Granny Smith?" Ryan asked, thinking he was seeing the pattern.

"He's smart as a whip too!" Granny Smith laughed, going to slap her thigh and almost falling over if Ryan hadn't quickly moved to grab her, "And such a strong, kind man...."

"Heh, again you flatter me ma'am."

"Don't give me none of that 'ma'am' stuff, you can call me Granny like everyone else." Granny Smith explained before nodding, "AppleJack, I can tell yer friend her has had one hoot-n-holler of a day so why don't you go help him get settled in the guest room and we can talk more tomorrow?"

"I think that's the best idea." AppleJack replied before motioning for Ryan to follow her up the stairs, "I'm guessing my little sister must already be in bed so you won't get to meet her till tomorrow."

"Well, if she's as chilled out as your Granny and brother were about what I am then I think I'll be okay here."

"You'll see that Ponyville is pretty accepting of just about anyone; I can't guarantee you won't get yer fair share of stares though. Haha, ya do kind of stick out with yer walking on them long legs and stuff all upright. PLus you are kinda tall..."

"Well, compared to everyone else here so far...Big Mac seems to be the first pony I've met here that is about my height." Ryan laughed as he looked at the room they'd headed into, "Ah, that bed looks nice...and I think I'll just about fit on it."

It was a few hours later, after they'd turned in for bed when Ryan awoke after a bit of a fitful sleep; glancing at the clock he saw it was about five in the morning and the sun was still a bit of a way from rising.

Tossing and turning for a bit, he finally put on his glasses and got up before walking downstairs and sitting on the porch as he stared up at the stars.

"Curious...some of the constellations are the same...but I bet they have different names here." He quietly said, staring up at them and just thinking about his current situation, "Probably some kind of horse puns are involved..."

He was jolted from his concentration when an orange hoove tapped him on the shoulder and he turned to see a somewhat bed-heady (or would that be bed-maney?) AppleJack blinking tiredly and looking a bit worried at seeing him up.

"I didn't mean ta scare ya, I just heard you get up and walk outside." AppleJack remarked before sitting next to him, "You okay?"

Giving a slight sigh, Ryan leaned back and gave a small shrug at her question.

"Well AppleJack, I'm just thinking on the situation...wondering if anyone knows I'm missing yet." Ryan explained, "And just...had a bit of a nightmare so couldn't get back to sleep."

"Well, I'm sorry to hear that sugar, but as long as yer here you'll always be welcome by all of us okay?" AppleJack asked, sliding over and leaning against him.

"Mmmmm." Ryan sighed, enjoying the warmth AppleJack's contact was giving him in the cool morning air as he reached out and scratched her messy mane, "Thanks hun, that helps me feel better; I just hope if someone does note I'm missing they don't worry too much. To be honest though..."

"Hmmmm?" AppleJack asked, her eyes closed as she enjoyed Ryan's attention to her mane.

"Haha, to be honest...I kind of don't mind a change of pace like this. My life was...kind of dull to be honest. I worked...exercised...played some games. But I didn't have friends anymore, at least that I could hang out with...I wasn't lucky with love...being alone kind of sucked. I had family, and they were nice even if we bickered, but family can only go so far ya know?"

"I kind of understand: family love and the love of a partner are two different things that people desire for happiness...but don't feel too bad, I haven't ever been in love so at least you've experienced it."

"Hahaha, that's one way to look at it...you silly southern belle you." Ryan teased, putting an arm around her and just hugging her close, "...I'd like to get back to bed but..."

"You don't want to be alone right? I imagine that's why you had that nightmare."

"Heh, smart too. I like that."

"Quit teasing me mister or I'll give you such a bucking." AppleJack teased right back, "Well, if you don't wanna be alone...and you don't think it'll be weird..."

"Hmmm? Do you have an idea?" Ryan asked, eyeing her curiously.

"Well...."

Ryan groaned softly, the bright light of day now shining forth through the window and smacking him right in the face.

He didn't want to get up and so rolled over...before making a puzzled face when he got a face full of hair; slowly opening his eyes he saw his face was buried in what appeared to be blonde hair and that puzzled him.

Then he looked about and noted he wasn't in his room and freaked out a bit, making a startled noise and jumping back...right off the bed.

"Owwww...." Ryan sighed, rubbing his head as he tried to get his bearings, "...wait...it's coming back to me..."

"Hmmmm, Ryan...you okay sugah?" AppleJack sleepily asked, having rolled over to see him on the ground, "...now what're y'all doing down there on the ground?"

"...testing the durability of the floor?" He joked, still rubbing his sore head as he lay there dazed, "Sorry, I just kind of forgot where I was for a moment and..."

"APPLEJACK! Why aren't you in your room? Are you in here?"

"Who is..." Ryan went to ask before seeing a smaller pony poke her head into the room, "Ah, this must be your sister...little sister it seems."

"There you are AppleJack, I was wondering where...." Was all the young filly got out before her focused moved to Ryan, "...huh?"

"Oh God!" Ryan gasped as he was soon tackled back to the floor as this young pony stared at him, "Uhm....hi. Can...can I help you?"

"Who the heck are you? And why are you in the same bedroom as my big sister? And what are you? And why are you in the same bedroom as my big sister?"

"You...you asked that one twice little one..." Ryan sighed, now seeing why AppleJack had seen to warn him about her little sister.

"AppleBloom, you get off mah new friend this instant! He's already having enough time adjusting without you getting yer hoove-prints all over his chest."

"...friend? Ooooooooh...is he your boyfriend AppleJack?"

"...somehow I get the feeling that your Granny and her seem to think alike on some things." Ryan joked before carefully removing AppleBloom from his person and finally standing up, "Goodness...this morning is already proving to be quite exciting."

"...so then he's not yer boyfriend? I mean, he's not a pony but I wouldn't be judging about...uhm....whatever he is if you did like him and stuff."

"AppleBloom....out!" AppleJack sighed, rolling her eyes, "...I'm sorry Ryan, I'm sure you're getting annoyed hearing that again."

"Hahaha, actually I'm just laughing it off; I guess you could say it makes my, uhm, ego feel good that even if I'm a total unknown in terms of appearances and species here in Equestria that people would still think I'd be boyfriend material." Ryan joked, giving a hearty laugh before patting her on the head, "Anyway...I think I smell something delicious and tasty cooking and I'm starving something fierce."

"Oooh, so that's what that rumbling noise I heard was...and here I thought it was just them critters stampeding again." AppleJack teased before laughing and dashing out of the room.

"You orange goober!"

With that Ryan dashed after her and ended up taking a slight tumble down the stairs before landing in a heap.

"....AppleJack...you are such a brat."

After collecting himself and having a nice apple-based pastry breakfast with AppleJack and her family (and once again getting double-whammied by both Granny Smith and AppleBloom insisting he must be her boyfriend), Ryan and AppleJack headed into town to go pay a visit to Rarity and Twilight as they had promised.

"...yer family is certainly interesting." Ryan laughed as they walked into town, before noting a few gasps and whispers of curious chatter as he passed by everyone, "...or everypony I imagine."

"What's that sugah?"

"Oh just...noting everyone kind of staring at me that's all; then again I can't blame them." Ryan remarked, trying not to let it affect him, "I can't imagine someone like me has ever wandered into town."

"Ah, don't think nothing of it; you give them some time and they'll be welcoming ya fer sure!"

After nearly getting tackled by a rather curious, cross-eyed Pegasus pony who Ryan could tell needed some lessons in flying, they finally arrived at a rather fancy looking house.

"So then, this is Rarity's house? Heh, even with what little I know about her I have to say it fits." Ryan joked before knocking on the door, "Hello? Rarity? It's Ryan and AppleJack!"

"Ooooh, darling. I was starting to wonder where you were you dear man...although I guess you must have forgotten to brush because your mane is just so dreadfully wild this morning." Rarity replied as she stared at Ryan's head.

"Hmmm? Oh, I've probably got like awful bed-head huh? ...I wonder if that's why everyone kept staring at me and not because I'm human?"

"Either way come in you two, I've been ready and waiting so let's not waste another moment!"

Looking about after walking in, Ryan could see she clearly took her designing seriously with all the fabrics, buttons, ribbons, thread, and all manners of clothing design pieces just everywhere; he was interrupted from his observations when he saw Rarity just staring at him...or rather his clothing.

"I must say that pattern on your shirt is just dashing; I'm already getting such amazing ideas for a new line of pony dresses." Rarity remarked, her eyes sparkling as she brought over a measuring tape, "So then...shall I get your sizes; I have to note this will be quite the challenge, I've never had to make clothing for a human before."

"...It's going to take some time for me to get used to that." Ryan chuckled, motioning towards the measuring tape floating in mid-air, "Magic...simply amazing."

"If that amazes you sugah, I can't even begin to imagine how you'd react to some of the things we've encountered before." AppleJack joked, watching with some amusement that somepony else was being the model this time, "Are you okay Ryan?"

"Uhm, yeah...just...oof, careful Rarity." Ryan groaned, blinking slowly, "I'm just not a big fan of having my measurements taken; as you can tell I'm not exactly the thinnest guy around so my measurements have always been a bit...large."

"Oh hush! You're quite dashing Ryan, so please, don't think so badly; besides, if you're going to be such a dear and help AppleJack out you'll be fit in no time." Rarity chimed in, smiling as she finished marking down measurements, "Okay, I think I've got the basic idea down...any particular colors you like darling?"

"Well, I'm partial to blue and purple and grey, but some more colorful clothing wouldn't be a bad idea." Ryan thought for a moment before smirking, "Hmmm...how about some reds, greens, golden yellow, and orange? Are those enough colors to give you flexibility?"

"Absolutely! Oh I can't wait to start! This is such a challenging task but I just know this will turn out marvelous."

"Heh, I appreciate it; I just wish I could repay you for your kindness." Ryan sheepishly stated before feeling Rarity take his hand in hers.

"Now Ryan, you don't need to worry about that; you need our help and besides, you're giving me such a unique opportunity: nobody else in Equestria can say they've made clothing for a human can they? Of course not, but soon I will so imagine how much of an honor that is." Rarity explained as she patted his hand, "So don't worry darling, it's all okay."

"Well then, far be it for a gentleman to deny such lovely hospitalities." Ryan taking her hand (hoove? He figured it didn't matter) and giving it a kiss, "It's nice to know that there still are such kind people, er, ponies out there in the world."

"Flatterer...now go, go, I've got so much to work on if I'm going to make your new clothing just right!"

With a laugh (and some teasing by AppleJack at his "gentlemanly" actions), Ryan and her headed off towards Twilight's house all the while being unaware that someone was following them.

"...hmmm, she lives in a tree; that I did not foresee."

"Is that weird that Twilight does?"

"Well, if we were on my Earth, a little bit; other than in books and stuff I can't think of anyone that actually did carve a home out of a tree." Ryan explained, "Anyway, let's leaf it at that for now."

AppleJack stopped her walking and slowly turned around to face Ryan before tilting her head and just staring at him.

"Sugah...did you just make a pun?"

"Y...yes?" Ryan quietly replied, "Was...was it that bad?"

"Nope! I thought it was tree-mendously funny but I figured I'd give ya some grief and let ya drift in the wind a bit."

"...and I thought mine was bad." Ryan sighed before laughing, grabbing AppleJack's hat, and putting it on himself.

"Hey! That's mine!"

"I know, but I'm gonna borrow it as retribution for a pun that was even worse than mine." Ryan teased before knocking on the door...and watching as it slammed into him, "Okay....again, ow."

"Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry!" Twilight hurriedly apologized, watching as Ryan tried to shake it off, "...why are you wearing AppleJack's hat?"

"He claims it's "retribution" for a bad pun...anyway, you mind explaining why you smashed poor Ryan with yer door?"

"Oh, well, I got so excited about potentially finding out about hu-mans that I kind of, sort of, opened the door the wrong way?" Twilight offered as an explanation, to which Ryan gave a shrug, "I am sorry, are you going to be alright?"

"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. Shall we go inside then?" Ryan asked, following the others in and blinking in surprise, "Wow, that's one impressive library you've got yerself here Twilight."

"Yeah, but it's still nothing compared to the one in Canterlot...."

"...Twi, are you okay? I can't help but notice you look a bit...frazzled." Ryan asked, eyeing her tired eyes, slightly messy mane, and sleepy posture a bit.

"That's normal when Twilight gets all excited over something." Spike explained, sorting through some books, "When she gets something new she can learn she kind of goes overboard."

"...so I might've stayed up till like 3 in the morning looking through my books to find anything about humans...I'm not crazy for that." Twilight defended her actions, though the amused look on Ryan's face told her while he didn't buy it, he wasn't going to grief her over it.

"A-Anyway, Spike has been helping me sort the last few books I have that might have some references to what you are...in case they don't though, I sent a letter to the Princess requesting some assistance."

"Princess?"

"That's a smart idea Twilight; if anyone can help find more info about Ryan here it'd be Princess Celestia fer sure." AppleJack chimed in before hearing an odd rumbly noise, "Now what in tarnation was that?"

"Uhm....that...that was me." Ryan noted sheepishly, "It's my stomach...I guess it's just getting a bit hungry."

"Well shoot then, let's get to helping with the rest of these books and then go get some lunch. That sound like a plan Twilight?"

"Sure then AppleJack...although, I hope we can find something that you'll eat."

"I don't think that'll be too much of a problem." AppleJack snickered, patting Ryan's gut, "He seemed happier than a pig with slop at breakfast this morning so I'm sure we can find something the big guy likes."

"...did...did I just get related to a pig?"

After going through a mountain of about thirty books, their search ended with nary a result save for one book that mentioned a creature that sounded like a human but other than a few words and a vague description from a long ago time their search came up empty.

"I guess this is one where y'all have to wait for Princess Celestia then." AppleJack remarked, noting her friend's slightly defeated posture, "But hey...until then you've got a human standing right here in front of ya so why don't we go get lunch and y'all can talk."

"Heh, that is true; if there's things you want to know then I'm more than happy to educate ya Twilight." Ryan added, giving a nod before blushing when his stomach rumbled again, "I think we'd better go grab some grub guys...my stomach's getting even angrier and it's making even Spike look tasty."

"...that, that is a joke, right big guy?" Spike nervously asked, laughing but not sure if he could relax during the laugh.

"Haha, well let's just say I have the mindset that usually if something lives and feels like you or I, it's not on the menu."

"Phew, that's a relief..."

"Spike, you act as if we'd let you get eaten..." Twilight sighed, shaking her head before heading out the door, "Come on, my treat since you are the guest after all...I just hope we can find something you'll eat."

"Don't you remember what AppleJack said? I'm sure there must be something...though I'm sure you guys don't eat meat what with being ponies." Ryan noted as they walked, once again all too aware of the stares he was getting, "Plus, I saw a cow that could talk so...yeah, things are a bit different here, that much is certain."

As their conversation continued on as they soon arrived at the cafe (and Ryan got quite the stare from their waiter before they ordered), Ryan began to get the feeling that they were being followed...and whoever was doing it was not very good at it.

"Darlin', you alright?"

"Yeah, do you not like your sandwich?"

"Huh? No, it's nothing like that girls; this is actually pretty tasty like I figured, but someone seems to be following us...and they're not very good at it." Ryan explained, "Don't draw attention to it but I think it's your little sister, AppleJack...and what I can only assume are two of her friends. They....appear to be trying to pass off as one pony in a trenchcoat."

"AppleBloom...do you want me to go tell them to stop?" AppleJack sighed, doing her best to not look around to spot them, "That's a might odd though that you noticed and I didn't."

"Maybe it has to do with that weird magical aura I can sense around him." Twilight suggested, "It's been sort of floating about him since I found Ryan in the forest."

"Magical aura? Me? Heh, that can't be right; humans don't have magic in my world. Not in the sense you do anyway, I suppose; we're kind of grounded more in science and such...though others like myself do like to believe in things more...magical if you will, then what we see."

"Interesting...is this why you haven't had much trouble coping to such a jarring change in your environment?"

"Probably Twi; I can't say all humans would react how I do if they were in this situation but a small percentage probably wouldn't have much of an issue." Ryan noted as they finished, "As for stopping them AppleJack, don't worry about it; let them have their fun. They're probably just curious about me like everyone seems to be; that or they're sizing me up as yer "boyfriend" material. Hahaha."

"...okay, I've been pretty quiet since Ryan made that joke about munching on me but...what the heck is he talking about AppleJack?" Spike stared at AppleJack curiously as he waited for an answer.

"Yeah, I have to say that's got me rather curious as well." Twilight added, leaning closer to her friend, "What's he mean?"

"Oh...it's so silly; Granny and Big Mac were teasing me last night when we arrived home...they said something about Ryan being "quite the stud even if he looked a little odd" and that "I had her blessing"." AppleJack sighed, lowering her blushing face, "Then AppleBloom came into the guest bedroom and saw us both in there and then she joined in on it...."

"It's a bit crazy but I find it curious...plus my ego did get a nice boost from it so I'm not bothered by it besides..." Ryan remarked, placing AppleJack's hat back on her so she could hide her blush a bit better, "When a Southern Boy is told he's good-looking and a good choice by a Southern Belle's kin, he can't help but smile at such a compliment."

"Wow AppleJack, I don't think I've ever seen you turn that red." Spike commented as she pulled her hat tighter on her head.

As the group laughed playfully at their friend's slight embarrassment, AppleBloom and her friends watched (from their poorly hidden location a few tables down where they were indeed pretending to be one tall pony in a trenchcoat) the scene unfold with curious eyes.

"See you two? I told ya he was real!"

"I guess you're right AppleBloom, but what is he anyway?"

"Sheesh Scootaloo, don't you remember? She said he was a human..."

"Darn right, Sweetie Bell...and my sister seems to be taking a liken to him."

"What, you mean like as a friend? ...and I still don't get what a "whoman" is."

"From what I can tell Scootaloo, a hue-man appears to be like a hair-less kind of pony that walks on two legs and is really tall! ...that mane is kind of wimpy though."

"Girls, focus! And Scootaloo, I mean like as in like a boyfriend...but I don't think she knows that yet. I don't rightly think he does either but I can see it! I can see the sparks bouncing about in how well they're getting along with each other!" AppleBloom energetically declared, perhaps a bit too much so as the three began to sway before spilling out along the ground, "Oh no! Our disguise!"

Looking up, the three "spies" could see that Ryan and the others had already left...which meant they had some catching up to do!

"Come on Cutie Mark Crusaders! We can't just let them leave us behind! We have facts to find out!"

"Notes to take!"

"And....and what else?"

"Duh! We gotta make sure my sister and that strange fella see the chemistry they got! Besides, maybe helping play matchmaker is what we're good at!" AppleBloom declared, "So we've gotta hurry...no telling where they ended up."

"...but didn't we already try that before with your brother and our teacher to horrible results?" Sweetie Belle noted, but was completely ignored and left behind, "Hey! Wait for me!"

Where they had ended up, as it would turn out, was on their way back to Sweet Apple Acres....only for Ryan to get harassed by an overly energetic Rainbow Dash.

"Why are you wearing AppleJack's hat? Is there something going on here I'm not in on?!"

"Dashie, I am simply wearing her hat as AppleJack thinks I look pretty...dashing in it." Ryan chuckled, "Is it really so odd that she'd let me?"

"Yeah, come on Rainbow Dash, I've got like a whole bunch of those hats at home ya know, so what's wrong with letting Ry here have one of them?"

"Hmmmm....maybe nothing if it weren't for you always being so attached to that hat of yours!" Rainbow Dash shouted, staring hard at AppleJack and then at Ryan, "I still don't know if you aren't trouble so I've still got my eye on you Ryan...you better not cause any trouble for AppleJack or you won't be able to run fast enough to get away from me."

"Well with a name containing the word Dash, I'd expect you to be fast Dashie...hmmm, I wonder who would win if you were to race him?"

"Who? There's someone fast that you know?"

Ryan laughed, amused that his nonsensical thinking seemed to get her so riled up.

"Heh, well it's not important; there's no way you'd be able to ever race him but that would be interesting to see who is faster: a Pegasus pony or a blue hedgehog?"

"....a hedgehog?!" Rainbow Dash scoffed, laughing herself into an upside-down flying fit, "How could one of those little fellows ever be fast enough to be a challenge for me? You're a strange pony Ryan...anyway, remember what I said and don't cause trouble or you'll be getting up close and personal with the clouds!"

With that Rainbow Dash, well, dashed off and left Ryan standing there looking rather perplexed along with AppleJack as they tried to sort out what that whole thing was about.

"Do you get the feeling Dashie was seeing something beyond what's there?" Ryan asked, giving a shrug as they continued towards the farm, "She seemed a bit confused about the whole hat thing."

"Well, Rainbow Dash has always been a bit flighty." AppleJack snickered, pleased when Ryan laughed as well, "In all seriousness sugah, I'm not sure what she was getting at."

"I see...well, let's hope she doesn't think on it too much...it's bad enough we've got your Granny acting the way she is." Ryan noted, motioning over his shoulder towards a tree they just passed, "Not to mention your sister and her friends apparently up to hijinx as well."

"Huh! How did he know we were here!?"

"Scootaloo, shush!"

That was followed by a loud crashing noise as the three Cutie Mark Crusaders fell out of the tree they were hiding in and landed in a pile as they watched Ryan and AppleJack stare at them for a moment before walking on after they saw they were okay.

"Ryan, I'm not sure how y'all did that but it's kinda weird; not in like a creepy or freaky way, but more like in a 'Woooooooo-e!' that was crazy kind of way....you understand?"

"Hahaha, of course I do Apps; to be honest it kind of surprises me as well but I figure why worry about it? If it's because of that magical aura thinger around me that Twi mentioned, then it's got to be a good thing right?"

"Apps? That's a new one by me but I kinda like it so I guess if that's what ya wanna nickname me sugah, then go ahead." AppleJack nodded before playfully poking Ryan, "Of course, that does mean I have to come up with an amazing nickname fer ya but...Ryan...Ryan...that doesn't give me much to work with."

"Haha, yeah I know most nicknames I've had were uhm: Ry-Ry, Ry-guy, Ry, Mister Wigglesworth, Rytoro, uh...Darkness Shade, Ryers...I'm sure I'm forgettin' one but those are a few." Ryan explained before he noted AppleJack giggling, "Wha...what are you laughing for?"

"Hee, Mister Wigglesworth?"

"Oh...yeah...uhm...that was with the first girl I loved and had a relationship with; I stared calling her Lady Limon because she liked lemons and so that's what she came up with for me." Ryan sheepishly explained, "I guess I just said it without thinking."

"No, no, it's cute; it really is." AppleJack snickered before calming, "Well, that certainly is a heapin' pile of nicknames but I'll come up with something; in the meanwhile, I think I'll go with Ry-Ry."

"Sounds like a plan to me." Ryan laughed, ruffling her mane before running off towards the farm, "Race ya there!"

"Darlin', I've got a feeling you're just a bit out-matched." AppleJack laughed, catching up to him easily enough and passing right by before slowing down and matching his pace, "Not too bad fer a fella that only uses two legs."

"Well, I've also got a bit more weight to deal with so...I was pretty sure I wasn't gonna win that one. Hahaha..."

Meanwhile, AppleBloom had been watching all this with great interest and simply nodded at what she saw.

"I can see so clearly...Cutie Mark Crusaders, we're on a mission now."

"...are you sure we should tamper in someone's love life again?"

"I think Sweetie Belle might have a point here AppleBloom. I mean, I want to find out about this new dude as much as you do but..."

"I know, I know, we really screwed up on Hearts and Hooves Day but this time I think I'm right about these two...but we have to be careful."

"I still have that bad feeling in my gut about this..." Sweetie Belle sighed, watching AppleBloom start trekking off towards the farm, "Come on Scootaloo, we gotta make sure she doesn't do anything reckless...or at least try to anyway."

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