• Published 25th Aug 2013
  • 10,108 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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11th Harvest

Ryan surveyed the royal ball room where the party had taken place from his place lazily resting against AppleJack and smiled at what he saw: though it was a bit messy now, the ponies left had certainly enjoyed themselves, and Pinkie had certainly outdone herself in the decorating....which included an awesome cake that tasted like heaven.

"I seriously cannot figure out how in the world I've lost weight in mah time here when everypony feeds me so dang well. It's puzzling."

"Mmmm." AppleJack yawned and nuzzled his tummy, "Well ya work pretty hard there Ry-Ry, helping on the farm and helping all our friends with stuff...not to mention what ya tell us about what ya used to eat on your world didn't sound terribly healthy."

"I suppose that's true...maybe not for the sweets, but I haven't really questioned Pinkie about her confections too hard; I'm usually too busy enjoying the sweet radiant bliss they produce when you bite into their fluffy, gooey, sugary goodness."

AppleJack stifled a laugh before patting his stomach, "Ah guess you'll still be mah teddy bear for a while talking like that huh?"

"Heh, I don't know Apps...even talking like that, and eating those sweets, I'm still losing weight. I guess you just know how to help me burn it all off." Ryan chuckled softly, leaning down to nip at her ear, "Isn't that right mah little pony?"

"Mmmmm....careful Ry, there are others around after all."

"You act as if I'm going to do anything bad." He teased, scratching her mane, "There's always time for that later if ya want, once we're alone that is..."

"...tarnation, you and making me turn all red." She sighed before leaning into his hand, "Those fingers of yours are too talented Ry...they should be illegal or something."

"They aren't though...so I can still do this." He smirked, watching as she was too wrapped up in his caressing to notice him slip his other hand to her belly, "Or this!"

"What are ya talking...." Was all she got out before she felt him tickling her fiercely, "TARNATION! Hahahaha....Apple Ryder what's wrong with you? Luring a gal into a false sense of security....hahahaha...and then....hahahaha...tickling her of all things?!"

Ryan merely smirked, the sound of her laughing so melodious to him; eventually though, he could see Apps was at her limit and so he relinquished his hold on her and waited for her to catch her breath, "Your laughter is just so beautiful Apps...I just can't help mahself."

"Yuuuusss, sshould gets a rrooom...."

Ryan paused to look up at the clearly inebriated pony talking to them and smirked, "Berry Punch, yer drunk...go find a place to sleep it off."

"I don't neeeeeeeed you to tell me what ta........" And that was all as Berry Punch collapsed right there before snoring quite loudly.

"Somepony can't hold her liquor." Ryan sighed before patting AppleJack's shoulder, "Hey, since the party has wound down a bit, perhaps we could go check out that addition Cellie had put in. I'm curious about it and, well, at this point in the party, if two of the heroes wander off I don't think anypony will notice."

Having made their way out without anyone noticing, Ryan and AppleJack walked down the long hallway whose stained glass works stood as reminders and testaments to the history and bravery that existed in Equestria; events of significant importance were forever captured in their reflective and translucent beauty.

"I didn't really get a chance to give this place a good look last time, but I'm glad I am now."

"Yeah, it's a pretty nice sight isn't it sugah?"

"Indeed." He noted, walking passed the first one showing Luna and Celestia defeating Discord, "I have to wonder if they had this remade to hide Dark's existence. I can understand why they would, but maybe now that I'm here...they might see fit to restore that scene to its original state."

"I bet if'n ya asked them, the Princesses wouldn't have any problem with that."

"I reckon yer right."

'This one makes me sad though...poor Woona.'

Looking up at the one they were in front of, Ryan could see as to why it would upset Dark so: the scene depicted Celestia unfortunately having to banish her sister when she first became Nightmare Moon.

'I could've stopped it...somehow...I know I could have were I here.'

"Dark, buddy, stop beating yerself up over it. What happened was how life was to go, ya can't change the past after all."

"Ry-Ry's right; y'all shouldn't let the past overwhelm ya sugarcube."

'Heh, I suppose yer both right...besides...you and your friends saw fit to fix it all 1,000 years later.'

Indeed, the stain glass they gazed at showed that exact scene: AppleJack there with her friends as the six of them became the new Elements of Harmony and returned Nightmare Moon back to her normal self as Luna.

"So in the end it worked out pretty well...and even more so when Discord first saw fit to mess with y'all." Ryan remarked, nodding at the next window, "I have to say whoever Cellie gets to make these for her has remarkable skill; they're quite beautiful."

"Your praise is most pleasant to hear Ryan."

Turning around, Ryan could see Celestia had shown up sometime during his enjoyment of the stain glass history snapshots; watching her walk over he couldn't help smirking, "So then, just how long have you been watching us?"

"Not very long; when I noticed your absence I had a feeling I could find you and AppleJack here. No doubt you wish to see the new addition Pinkie let out of the bag."

"Haha, ya read mah Apple Ryder like a book Princess." AppleJack teased, "I have a feeling he'll really like it though...being the hero an' all."

"Apps." Ryan groaned, his blush visible even in the moonlight that bathed the hallway, "I suppose I am curious. I also bet it's the next one right?"

"Haha, observant as always." With that Celestia walked with them, coming to a stop at the newest addition to the history of Equestria, "So then, I hope we did well in capturing the moment."

Looking up at the tall window, Ryan (and Dark, though more mentally than anything else) let a smirk slowly form on his features. The glass displayed the key moments from that intense fight: from he and Spike's entrance, to him fighting against Discord using Malus Domestica, followed by Spike valiantly standing up for his fallen friend, to his resurrection and retaliation using his Justice Blitz (represented by the icons of the Elements surrounding him), and then finally Twilight Sparkle and the others finishing it all off and returning Discord back to stone.

"So then, do you like it?"

"I...well, yeah it's...it's awesome Cellie but...I feel kind of...awkward taking up so much of it with Spike. I mean, I know the two of us gave it our all to stop him but it was Apps and the gals that finished him off again."

"Ah shucks, look at mah Ry being humble as always." AppleJack laughed, even more so as Ryan's blush deepened, "If it weren't fer y'all fighting him and using our friendship to break his hold on the six of us, we wouldn't have been able ta finish him off. You deserve the credit here sugah."

"Well, I guess it wouldn't be proper to do anything but accept the accolades then if everypony thinks that way." Ryan laughed softly, "It's kind of nice to see the human presence here being so positive again."

"...what d'ya mean again hon?"

"Cellie knows what I mean...I didn't really say much about it earlier because the more pressing matter was fighting Discord but I did some reading in that library. There were some things in those books that I found curious...and it made me wonder something. Princess?"

"Yes Ryan?" Celestia asked, a bit curious as to why he was suddenly so formal, "What is it you wish to ask?"

"The humans...they were just like the ones from mah world weren't they? The books detail it...the one's belonging to Lyra didn't, so it's safe to assume not all history books from that time period did but some of them, and admittedly some of Dark's journal entries too, detail that humans here might not have been as different as the ones where I'm from.

"They fought, were greedy, ostracized those different, and, while I won't say more than that, there were even moments that I'm sure you know I'm referring to that make me wonder one simple thing: why did ya trust me? Even before you discovered the connection between mahself and Darkness Shade, you had no problem that I was even here, let alone living in the same town as your number one pupil and her friends. It was as if...as if you didn't care that I was human and what my kind, or rather alternate kind, had done when they existed in Equestria."

Celestia was quiet for a moment, though her face made it clear she knew Ryan might inquire to such things one day, "Yes, I am well aware that the picture of humankind I painted for Twilight Sparkle and the others was very rosy, but that was mainly for their sake. I was not too far from the truth however. I did not wish to give them seeds of mistrust by showing the negative aspects of humanity until they had gotten to know you better; so they could see that just because some of a species does horrible things, does not mean you should condemn the whole of that species.

"Dark was a very good example of that, he was human but as I said we all saw him as a pony as well because of how he acted. That day, when I received that letter from Twilight I was very surprised and curious I must admit. To think that a human had reappeared after so long...heh, well, it wouldn't have been fair of me to judge him right off the bat after all."

"Ah see what yer saying Princess, it'd be no different than if Ry judged us ponies without gettin' to know us."

"That is right AppleJack; I allowed his actions, rather than his species, to speak for him. I think it goes without saying I was not disappointed."

"Hahaha, that's about the explanation I figured Cellie."

'What did you expect Ryan? Tia's always been a fair ruler...it wouldn't be like her to be a tyrannical asshole.'

"Oh my." Celestia laughed at Darkness' blunt statement, "Can you imagine what this world would be like if I was like that? Dear me, it would be almost as bad as if Discord was in charge."

At that Ryan and AppleJack joined her in laughing before chatting and making their way back to the party.

With all that had happened, it felt weird for everything returning to normal for Ryan and the others; as it was, it was early the next day after they had returned home that he woke up before Apps and slowly slipped out of bed. Getting dressed, he gave AppleJack a quick kiss, smirking as she mumbled his name in her sleep and rolled over, before heading downstairs to see Granny working on breakfast.

"Well hey there sonny! Ya sure are up early."

"Yeah Granny, I've got something to take care of this morning so I'll be out for a bit; I should be back around lunchtime with any luck."

"If'n I know you, yer probably off ta help one of yer friends with something."

"Haha, guilty as charged Granny." Ryan remarked, grabbing an apple turnover so he could eat on the run, "Smells delicious as always, thanks again Granny."

Leaning down to kiss her cheek, he gave her a hug before hefting up his bag and heading out the door, the turnover hanging from his mouth; once outside he picked up his pace and began making tracks for the outskirts of town.

"Heh, he's such a sweet fellah...a little crazy too but I like that! Now if only he'd get around ta proposing to mah granddaughter, then I could finally relax about them two." Laughing at her own thoughts, she turned her attention back to getting breakfast ready for the others yet to wake.

Back with Ryan, he was coming upon the tranquil plain where he was supposed to meet Spike and saw the tiny dragon waiting patiently at the nearby waterfall; upon seeing him he gave a wave and saw him wave back in return.

"Hey there little buddy, hope I didn't make ya wait too long."

"Nah, you're on time Ryan. I was just a bit impatient so I headed here earlier." Spike replied before walking over, "So I have to ask, why did you choose here to start with our training?"

"I have mah reasons, but first off..." Dropping his bag and getting into a ready stance, Ryan snapped his fingers and donned his shades and wings, "I want you to come at me with everything you've got!"

"Are you crazy?! I could barely touch Discord! And you held your own against him!"

"Come on Spike, mah methods have a reason; I just want to gauge what all you seem to have." Ryan shot him a reassuring smile, "Besides, I'm not Discord; I won't be fightin' back and I won't hurt ya so come on. Strike at me with all your might!"

"...fine then!" Spike shouted, roaring as best he could and running at Ryan before jumping up to strike him.

Ryan easily blocked Spike's attack, watching as he recoiled back from it before landing on the ground and frowning; he was puzzled at Spike's next move before he felt a ball of green fire shoot out and collide with him.

"Well now, that was unexpected." Ryan joked, dusting himself off, "It was more than I thought you'd be able to do with your flames given yer size."

"But it didn't really faze you huh?" Spike noted, "Still...that was weird...my flames have never been that strong before. Usually it's just a straight, thin blast...well, unless I sneeze anyway. I've never been able to make a fireball before."

"...hmmm, I wonder? Well, come on! Don't stop now. Keep at it!"

Nodding, Spike ran at him and struck at his shins before dashing between his legs and letting loose another fireball; sensing this Ryan folded his wings and shielded his backside from attack as the fireball bounced off and hit the waterfall before sizzling out.

"Not bad...not bad."

"Yeah, but not enough to do anything against you." Spike sighed, "I guess I just am a weakling huh?"

"Not necessarily." Ryan remarked as he walked up and kneeled down next to him, "You have the drive to be a hero and sometimes that's all it takes. You wouldn't have asked for mah help if you didn't think you could improve."

"I suppose that's true so then...can ya explain why we're here of all places? Why did you want a waterfall? I mean, it's already a bit chilly so water is like the last thing I imagine somepony would want to be around."

"Exactly!" Ryan noted, snapping his fingers and willing away his shades and wings, "...I still find that weird that I can 'poof' the shades as well."

'Just me being mischievous...besides, inheriting my wings means inheriting my style too there partner.'

"I think Dark's got you there Ryan." Spike chuckled at Dark's teasing.

"Yeah, yeah, you two are regular comedians." Ryan shucked off his jacket and sat it and his t-shirt on his bag before kicking off his shoes, "Come on, follow me."

Spike was confused as to why Ryan got rid of his jacket and shirt, and was puzzled further when he saw him kick off his shoes; still, he followed him as they walked over to the waterfall, "So...what are we doing?"

"The first step to help you improve like you want is to help build a strong mental base. For that, we're going to meditate under the waterfall." With that Ryan stepped into the water and gasped slightly, "Sheesh, it's a bit chillier than I thought but nothing we can't handle. Now come on."

"...this is nuts." Spike huffed, but he followed anyway figuring Ryan knew what he was talking about, "Brrr...."

Not wasting any time getting acclimated to the water, the pair situated themselves under the waterfall, Spike mimicking the same posture Ryan made before closing his eyes and focusing, "So...anything specific I should do?"

"All you need to do is relax, breathe, let your mind focus and sharpen naturally in the peaceful surroundings. Meditation and mental health are just as important as any physical prowess and sometimes even the strongest opponent can be overcome with only a sharp mind." Ryan explained, opening one eye and patting his friend on the head, "As long as you have the drive, you can accomplish anything Spike."

"Heh, thanks. How do...how do you know all this anyway? I mean, no offense big guy, but you never struck me as the type."

"Haha, well, I've known many people in my life and let's just say the positive aspects of a lot of them have imprinted in mah mind..."

"Ryan?"

"Heh, sorry Spike, mah memories messing with me again; the particular person that I picked this up from well...he didn't turn out to be as much of a friend as I thought he was in the end."

"Well, you'll always have my friendship...and the girls as well." Spike chuckled, "I don't think I even have to mention Applejack...you guys are way beyond friendly at this point."

"You brat." Ryan laughed loudly, "Now come on...let's settle down and focus for a while."

A short time later, after meditating and then drying off, Ryan had Spike come at him again to get another gauge of his abilities; after having about the same amount of success as last time Spike signaled he'd had enough for now. At that Ryan gave a nod and noted that even if Spike couldn't tell, he was certain there was a very small improvement just from focusing his mind.

"That's nice of you to say, but it's a long road isn't it?"

"It sure is little buddy but much like me ya care about our friends and that can be a big motivator."

"Yeah, you're right I...." Spike was cut off by his grumbling stomach, "...meditating burns a lot of energy."

"Hahaha, well I think maybe that's just yer love of gems. You did fire of a lot of fireballs though." Ryan dug around in his bag and pulled out a decently sized emerald, "Here ya go Spike, enjoy!"

"Oh my gosh, this thing looks sooooo delicious!"

Laughing at his reaction, the two headed back towards town before parting ways with Spike heading back to Twilight's and Ryan heading towards Rarity's Boutique; upon arriving there he gave a knock and noted no answer.

"Hmmm..." He knocked once more before finally opening the door, "Rarity? Are ya here? I didn't hear ya reply and..."

"Oh darling...uhm...could you be a dear and possibly lend me a hand here?"

Dropping his bag, Ryan walked over and looked at Rarity all tangled up in various ribbons and thread and, well, y'all get the picture, "Rares...what in tarnation happened here?"

"...my dear sister happened with her friends." Rarity sighed, struggling a bit, "I tried to undo this mess with my magic and well..."

"It only made things worse?"

"Exactly darling, so please..."

"Of course." Ryan nodded and set about trying to untangle poor Rarity, "My goodness this is a mess...what in tarnation were mah little sisters up to?"

"I believe they were trying to get their...fashionista cutie marks." Rarity groaned, before cheering in joy when Ryan had freed her forelegs, "Oh dear Ryan, those hands of yours are such a miracle."

"Heh, well, they do let me be handy when I need to be."

"I'm so overjoyed for your help I don't even care if you make puns." Rarity remarked, watching as Ryan finally untangled the last bit holding her hindlegs, "Oh I'm almost free, thank goodness!"

Eventually the last bit wrapped around her torso was pulled free and Rarity cheered in glee, elated to finally be mobile once again; turning to Ryan she gave him a big hug before noting he was a bit sweaty.

"Oh, sorry Rares, should've warned you. I was training with Spike so..."

"Spikey-wikey? But why would he train with you? Isn't that a little mis-matched?" Rarity asked, looking at Ryan oddly, "Why would he want to?"

"He felt useless in the fight with Discord and practically begged me to help him get stronger. I didn't want to at first, given I don't know the lasting effects of his injuries, but well...I've got a weakness for the young'uns and he's pretty much become like a little brother to me much how the CMC's have become like mah little sisters so...."

"Heh, you really are such a sweetie aren't you? Just make sure Spike stays safe okay?"

"Don't worry Rarity, I will."

"So then darling, now that we've settled all that, what brings you by?"

"Oh! Right!" Ryan went over and grabbed his bag before setting it down in front of her, "Well, given how active I've been since getting here and how much better I've been eating, I've lost quite a bit of weight so that first batch of clothes ya made for me are a bit big now. I was wondering if ya wouldn't mind bringing them in for me so I can keep wearing them...as well as one other favor."

"Heh, that should be no problem Ryan; I can have it done in a few days for you. First though, I'd have to take your new measurements."

"Well then, by all means: Let's! Get! Fashionable!"

About twenty minutes later Ryan was finally on his way home after spending a little while chatting with Rarity; as he passed by the market he paused at Roseluck's stand to purchase a bouquet of flowers.

"I bet I know the lucky mare those are for."

"Haha, I'm sure you'd be right. It's not like I keep mah love for Apps a secret after all."

"I'll say; thanks for your business."

Taking a whiff of the bouquet, Ryan smiled and looked up at the clear sky on this chilly but pleasant October afternoon; waving hi to the few other ponies he passed on his way out of town (including a very hyper Lyra that had to be dragged away by poor Bon-Bon), Ryan enjoyed his walk back to Sweet Apple Acres.

As he expected, he saw AppleJack out in the fields no doubt looking over everything and making sure it would be ready for the early winter that was forecast to start not too long from now; trying his best to be stealthy he hid the bouquet behind his back and hopped the fence before carefully making his way down the row of now bare apple trees she was inspecting.

Just when he thought he had the drop on her (so to speak), he saw and then felt as she quickly pivoted and then pinned him to the ground before grinning widely at him, "Well howdy there Apple Ryder; fancy meetin' ya out in the orchard like this."

"Well, ya know me...ever since getting to Equestria I seem to get quite intimate with the ground."

"Mmm, how's about ya get intimate with me instead?" She teased, leaning down and kissing him, "You've been a busy boy this morning huh?"

"Guilty as charged, but I brought mah gal a gift." Ryan wiggled his right hand, "I got ya some of yer favorite flowers."

"Ah sugah, ya shouldn't have." AppleJack leaned over to sniff them before eating one, "Mmmm, I love me some sunflowers...not as much as apples, but they're still mighty tasty."

"I hope that's not the only thing you love." Ryan chuckled, taking advantage of her distraction and rolling so he was on top, "Heh."

"Mercy me, ya certainly are a naughty boy sometimes Ry-Ry." AppleJack sighed as Ryan kissed up her neck before nipping her ear, "Come on...I've got...got to finish making mah...mah rounds."

"As I recall, oh apple of mah eye, you were the one to start this little session of fun." Ryan chuckled softly, kissing her deeply, "Ah swear, I don't think I'll ever tire of that."

"Mmm, that's good ta know." AppleJack sighed happily as Ryan settled half next to her/half on her as they rest there, enjoying the chilly autumn weather, "Y'all sure know how to make a gal feel wanted, although..."

"Hmmm?"

Apps smirked as she leaned over to whisper in his ear, "I don't reckon yer interested in showing me that Malus Domestica isn't the only thing that can propagate are ya?"

At that Ryan couldn't form any response, in fact all rational thought was gone as his face turned redder than any apple AppleJack had ever seen and he remained rather silent for quite a bit at what she of all people suggested. After informing Dark he should kindly shut the hell up with the laughter, he turned to AppleJack and smirked before whispering in reply, "Now now Apps dear, a true gentleman, especially a southern one, saves such a special prize for marriage."

"M...marriage?!"

Now it was Ryan's turn to laugh at AppleJack's blushing cheeks, "I reckon if things keep at the pace they're at, you'll get yer wish and see mah sword ain't the only thing that can propagate."

AppleJack couldn't form any words as a response so she did the one thing that came to mind: she rolled back on top of Ryan and kissed him over and over.

"Mercy me!" Ryan sighed happily, waiting for her loving onslaught to finish, "Heh...was it something I said?"

After finally breaking out of their crazy make out session, Ryan and AppleJack finished up the rounds before returning to the farmhouse; after checking on all the critters and making sure they were doing okay they took a seat in the hay to watch the sunset.

"It seems like it was just yesterday we did this, while summer was still going strong."

AppleJack curled up against Ryan, gently running a hoof over his chest while he caressed her mane; as he glanced down at her the vibrant oranges, yellows and reds from the setting sun seemed to enhance her natural beauty and almost give her an otherworldly glow.

"Heh, tell me about it Apps: back then neither of us had the courage to move to the next step but ya finally got the gumption to on mah birthday...and then look all that's happened since then." Ryan remarked, lifting up her hat and brushing a few locks of hair out of her face, "Mah word yer so pretty...and ta think yer mine. It almost seems like a dream."

"Ry..." AppleJack softly spoke, nuzzling his chest, "Well this ain't no dream bucko, I'm as real as they come."

"Thank Celestia fer that."

With that they settled into a comfortable silence as the sun slowly dipped down out of sight, signaling the end of another day; hearing Granny ringing the dinner bell they reluctantly got up and headed inside to join their family.

Dinner was enjoyable as always, thanks in part to Granny's cooking always being so delicious; after helping clean up the dishes they enjoyed a peaceful evening in the living room, the fire crackling softly as they enjoyed a quiet night together.

That was, until Granny decided to pull out a book and hand it to Ryan, "Here sonny, I bet ya will find this rather interestin'."

"...what is...a photo album?" Ryan remarked, smirking as he went to open it, "Well then...I bet I will Granny."

"Photo album?! Wait! No!" Applejack gasped, trying to keep him from reading it.

"Ah, ah!" Ryan teased, lifting it away from her and standing up, "Come on Apps, let me see it; yer family album couldn't have any more embarrassing moments in it than any other ponies."

"No! Don't!" AppleJack pleaded, wrapping her legs around him, "Come on Apple Ryder! Show some mercy!"

"Now AppleJack, you sit those flanks on that couch and be civil!"

"...yes Granny." AppleJack sighed, sitting back down and letting Ryan do the same, "Go ahead Ry-Ry."

With that Ryan opened it up and, as he figured, it was a photo album full of pictures focused on AppleJack; he let out a chuckle at the first few before smirking at her, "You were such a cute baby, just adorable."

"Ah lord, I knew this was gonna happen." She sighed, pulling her hat down.

"Hmmm...I'm guessing the two ponies here are yer parents." Ryan tapped at a certain photo, "...come to think of it, ah don't think I've ever seen them around."

"They're far away sonny, but always in our hearts."

"Oh, I see...I'm sorry."

"Fer what? They ain't dead ya goof."

"Oh, but...the wording ya just used...I'm confused Granny."

"Mah daughter and that sweet stallion of hers are just busy with work a lot, that's all."

"Really? Huh, I would've thought they'd be here on the farm."

"Oh, that daughter of mine...the stories I could tell but, I'll save those for another night. Can't let ya know too much about them, otherwise when ya finally do meet 'em sonny ya won't be as awkward."

"Crazy old mare." Ryan teased, watching as Granny winked in reply, "I take it that means 'Darn tootin'?"

"You betcha!"

With that over Ryan kept flipping through the album, always pointing out just how cute AppleJack was as a young'un, as well as teasing her over an apparent apple 'fwitter' obsession she had back then. There was one photo that was curious, and that was of what appeared to be a teenage AppleJack with a similar aged colt at what appeared to be some kind of dance.

"Oh no, not this." AppleJack threw herself over Ryan's lap to cover the album, "This part don't matter none Ry."

"I'm guessing this was high school huh?" Ryan asked before gently moving AppleJack out of the way, "Ya look pretty happy there."

"Yeah that was...somepony I thought liked me; we dated all through high school but then he went off to some fancy-pants university and just broke things off with me." AppleJack explained, frowning slightly, "I was pretty upset for a while...at least till Big Mac made a joke about bucking him to the moon."

"Eyup!"

"Hahaha, well I had mah share of school romance issues. At least yers went somewhere, nobody would give my feelings the time of day back then." Ryan wrapped an arm around AppleJack and pulled her close, "But that doesn't matter seeing as I finally found a gal that loves me back."

"Wooooooooooooooooo!"

"AppleBloom!"

"Hee, I couldn't help mahself."

"Thank ya Ry, besides it wasn't too hard to love ya back with ya being so gosh darn sweet all the time." AppleJack remarked, nuzzling against him and yawning, "I'm feeling sleepy sugah...care to go to bed?"

Ryan nodded his head and after stating goodnight to his family headed upstairs with Apps; after getting changed into his pajamas he walked over and pulled something out of his wallet before sitting next to her on the bed.

"What's that?" She asked as he unfolded something to show her, "Wait...is that..."

"Yeah, that's mah family...although quite a while ago when I was younger." Ryan explained as he pointed at the different pictures, "This is when we were in grade school, high school, and then this one is when I was a little thing."

"Oh my gosh yer so adorable!" AppleJack squealed, somehow pinching his cheek, "You were a cute kid."

"Apps..."

"Haha, not so funny when it's on the other hoof huh?"

"Well, I figured I got ta see the younger you so why not do the same?"

"Thank ya mah sweet Ry."

With that Ryan put the pictures back where they belonged before climbing into bed and getting settled under the cover with Apps, "Hon?"

"Yeah Ry?"

"I thought ya told me that you were never in love before."

"...well, yeah ah...ah reckon I did Ry but...well...I didn't think it really counted seeing as he broke it off so easily without a second thought." AppleJack sighed and nuzzled Ryan's chest before hugging him tight, "Ah really thought he liked me since we knew one another since grade school but...ah guess it meant more to me than it did ta him. I guess I didn't want to tell ya since you already seemed so banged up yerself about yer problems that night...had to stay strong fer ya."

"That was sweet of you then." Ryan leaned down and kissed the top of her head before hugging her close, "You don't have to worry about that happening though, mah love for ya is strong enough to weather anything life will throw at us."

"That's nice to hear Ry-Ry...and ah feel you mean that so thank ya." AppleJack sighed, relaxing as Ryan gently caressed her mane, "That's the kind of hurt I wouldn't ever wish on anyone, not even Discord."

"Haha, yeah, it's the kind of pain that can break even the strongest person; as an old friend of mine once said "If you break a man's spirit, he loses the will to fight but if you break a man's heart, he just may well lose the will to live.""

"That sums it up pretty well...mmm, I'm just glad that you didn't lose the will when yer heart was broken Apple Ryder."

"And the same with you Apps. Thanks to that, we'll always have each other."

AppleJack slowly nodded before closing her eyes and smiling, "Good night Ry."

"Good night Apps."

With that, another night came to a peaceful close on Sweet Apple Acres.

"Apple Ryder! Are ya ready yet? We're gonna be late!"

"I know! I know! I'm just trying to get one last thing right!"

AppleJack tapped her hoof and rolled her eyes, "What in tarnation is taking ya so long to get yer costume ready?"

Hearing a noise, AppleJack jumped when Ryan teleported right in front of her in a puff of smoke; as it dissipated she blinked a few times before speaking, "...Dark?"

"Or a reasonable facsimile anyway." Ryan commented, smirking as he looked over his and Rarity's handiwork, "I really dig the outfit; Rares did a masterful job."

"Tarnation! Are ya doing that smokey magic in the house?! I told ya not to do that!"

"Sorry Granny!" Ryan apologized before clearing his throat, "The hair was a bit hard to get right, but magic is a wonderful thing sometimes."

"Hmmm, I must say." AppleJack circled around him, examining every detail, "Ya do look pretty sharp."

Ryan gasped when he felt Apps smack him on the butt, "What was that for?"

"Just testing the stitching on them cutie marks of yers." She giggled, "So whose idea was that?"

"Well, while I wanted to incorporate what I suppose is now mah cutie mark, Rares thought it would be absolutely hilarious to place them in roughly the same spot that y'all get yours." Ryan facepalmed and shook his head, "And since they'd look silly on the side of mah pants...they went on the butt pockets. Although, I don't quite mind when it's you giving me a love tap."

AppleJack grinned, leaping up to hug him, "You're such a weirdo sometimes Ry, but yer my weirdo."

'Funny, I recall Luna saying something like that to me as well.'

"Dark! Y'all got the weirdest sense of timing dang it!" AppleJack grumbled before kissing Ryan anyway, "Now come on! We've gotta meet the others in town for the festivities!"

"Okay then I'll...ack!" Ryan gasped, being dragged along by AppleJack, "I'm sure this must be quite a sight: a winged human with dark hair and shades being dragged along by an orange earth pony dressed up as...uhm...ya know, it looks familiar but...why can't I place it?"

"Ah got the idea for it looking at those files ya put on that fancy computer machine ya put in our room; there was this blond human wearing this awesome looking suit of armor and it looked pretty cool. Ah asked Rarity to try and make something more flexible but was true to it...ah think it came out well."

"So basically I'm being dragged by the pony version of Samus Aran...I'm okay with this."

"I reckoned you would be...and ya wouldn't be dragged if you got them legs of yers moving Apple Ryder!"

Figuring she had a point, he matched her pace and soon they were making tracks to Ponyville to meet the others.

"Oh my gosh they're so late! This is seriously cutting into candy time!"

"Pinkie, I'm sure there is a perfectly fine reason as to why Ryan and AppleJack are running behind." Twilight noted, "Besides, when we showed up your sack was already half full."

"Well duh! I start early on Nightmare Night! I mean, come on....Free Candy!" Pinkie huffed before finally seeing Ryan and Apps in the distance, "Thank goodness! There they are!"

"Howdy y'all! Sorry we're late but Mr. Shade over here had to make sure he was lookin' suave."

"Hey! If I'm gonna play the part, I have to get everything accurate." Ryan remarked, before looking at Pinkie tapping her hoof, "Uhm...somethin' on yer mind Pinks?"

"Do you know how much free candy we're losing here?! FREE CANDY RYAN!"

"Guh!" Ryan slowly walked back as Pinkie got up his in grill, "I...but...yes! I'm sorry!"

"Good!" She giggled, "Now let's go!"

"So...those wings of yours are looking pretty good Ryan."

"Thanks Dashie...I like yer outfit. That's that...Daring Do character you and T-Sparks like right?"

"Yeah! Rarity helped me with the outfit but I did the hat myself!"

"So let's see...Apps is Samus Aran..."

"Say-mess a run?"

"Samus Aran...she's a bounty hunter. Where was I? I'm Dark, Apps is Samus, Dashie is Daring Do, T-Sparks appears to be Cellie, Fluttershy is a butterfly, Pinks is a giant chicken (a giant chicken I tell you!), and Rares is a vampiress?" Ryan listed down the row, "Heh, better watch our necks then."

"Oh darling, the only thing I like to sink my teeth into is making wonderful new dresses with so many gorgeous gems."

"Ah, so a vegetarian vampire, that's good then. Hey T-Sparks, where's mah little buddy? He not trick-or-treating?"

"Oh he bumped into AppleBloom and the others and got dragged along by them; they're probably bobbing for apples at this point." Twilight explained.

"Ah, so that tradition carries over here as well huh? Curious. Heh, seems like Halloween and Nightmare Night aren't too different after all."

"Ya said that weird word before Ry-Ry, that...hallos-ween."

"Halloween Apps, and basically it's our equivalent to Nightmare Night; we do seem to do most of the same stuff: kids going around for free candy (as well as older people too sometimes), parties that involve snacks and games and just having fun, and there is that strange sense in the air of something supernatural, something magical, something...mysterious."

"...I thought there wasn't any magic in your world?" Rainbow Dash looked at him oddly, especially with the hand movements he'd made.

"Well there isn't...or isn't anymore depending on who ya ask but humans in older times were more superstitious of things. Halloween, and well most holidays, have changed quite a bit in our history and aren't exactly what they started as back when they were first started."

"This is all fascinating and I'm sure just totally historically awesome but we're burning FREE CANDY!" Pinkie shouted, following up with a cluck for good measure, "Now quite geeking out and let's get a massive haul!"

Ryan simply smirked before striking a pose, "Ya don't have to tell me twice! For great justice, let's get some sweets!"

And get sweets they did, though at one house they did have to hold Pinkie back as she wasn't quite able to do so herself at seeing an unguarded bowl of candy with a sign that simply stated 'Take one please' with a smilie face and all.

Eventually, after hitting everypony's house they could, the group came to the square where the festivities were really getting underway and a fun time was being had by all; looking about he could see a few of the ponies he also called friends out and enjoying themselves...and then he saw a sight that made him pause.

"...I...I..." He tried to form words but when he couldn't he gently rubbed his temples before looking to the girls, "I need to a have a word with Lyra so y'all go ahead and start having fun and I'll catch up."

Walking across the way, Ryan could tell Lyra had seen him right away and seemed a bit nervous at him showing up; when he finally got to where her and Bon-Bon had been enjoying their punch he smirked as he looked her costume up and down.

'Well well Ryan, this is almost like looking into a mirror.'

"Heh, well, Dark always did wonder if we could both exist at the same time...though I doubt he ever figured it'd be like this."

"...Ryan...was that voice...someone else? Who was...wait..." Lyra tapped her cheek in thought, "I've got it! It's that Dark fellow from that book you let me read...and who you also seem to be dressed up as."

"Yeah...and he's rather curious as to why you're dressed up as, well, as me." Ryan laughed into a sigh before walking around her, "I am impressed though, you've managed to capture most of my awesomeness; the wand could use a little work but props to your rendition of Malus Domestica matching almost perfectly. If I wasn't wearing it mahself I'd swear you've got mah sword."

"Hee, thanks Ryan. I worked really hard on it."

"I can attest to that." Bon-Bon teased, "She's been working on that thing for the last two weeks nonstop going on and on about how it had to be perfect because it had to do with you."

"Yeah but...well..." Lyra tapped her hooves together, "I just wanted to make sure it was perfect since you're my friend and awesome too so...I had to make sure if I was going as you, I had to do it right! I hate to disappoint you though, but the sword is fake; it doesn't even have a blade, it's just the hilt and handle attached to a hollow sheath."

"Hahaha, well that's okay. It's not like it has to be perfectly one-to-one but ah am flattered that you'd cosplay as me."

"Cosplay?"

"It means going as someone, usually a character that's well known...it technically fits in this case seeing as most ponies around here know who I am at this point."

"I see then, that makes sense."

"I am curious, why did ya chose mah original outfit when I first got here of all things?"

"Well, I figured why not wear what I first saw you wearing? Oh! I forgot though, check this out!" Lyra excitedly shouted, reaching back and flipping a switch, "I even made it so the gem can switch colors."

Ryan watched as the gem did indeed shift from orange, to red, and then to green before back to orange, "Now that's impressive. Well done Lyra!"

"Hee." Lyra grinned at the praise, "Thanks! Your mane color was the hardest thing to do though, I had a heck of a time getting the dye to work right! Why do you have to have such an odd blend of blonde and brown and...I swear it looks like you've got orange in there too sometimes."

"...this coming from the pony that's a minty green normally. Though...why didn't ya just use yer magic to do that? That's what I did with mine." Ryan teased, "Either way, your efforts are quite amazing...in fact, let's get a photo. Would you mind taking it Bon-Bon?"

"Not at all but...how do I...?"

"Oh right...I didn't bring the hoof-friendly version."

"I can just use my magic, that way Bon-Bon can be in the picture too!"

"Sounds good! Let's get lined up then."

Taking a moment to size everything up, Ryan got the camera in the right position before letting Lyra take over and he quickly joined the two of them; once everypony was smiling Lyra worked the camera and a succession of clicks was heard as it took a number of shots.

"Looks good, I'll have to send them to you later." Ryan remarked, cycling through them so they could see.

"Wheee! Now then! I'm off to high-five people!" With that Lyra was off, leaving Ryan and Bon-Bon there alone for the moment.

"So...why didn't you just use your magic Ryan? From what I know you should've been adept enough to."

"Oh well...I didn't mind letting Lyra shine. That smile she had at being helpful was more than worth it; besides B-squared, part of being the hero is also knowing when to let others take the lead too. The last thing I want to do is push friends away by always trying to do everything and being a spotlight hog."

"That makes sense given the kind of person you are....and I see, regrettably, that you finally came up with a nickname for me." Bon-Bon sighed, shaking her head but smiling.

"Well, it was inevitable wasn't it? Haha, though Lyra...man, it's hard coming up with something for that crazy mare. Heh, give me enough time though and I'll figure out something." Ryan laughed before giving her a bow, "If you'll excuse me m'lady, I have others to attend to."

"Not a problem, happy Nightmare Night Ryan."

"Thanks B-squared, same to you."

"There ya are big bro! We've been looking for ya forever!"

"Ah yes, my favorite little sisters...but wait, where's Spike?" Ryan remarked, kneeling down and hugging the three of them, "Wasn't he with you?"

"He was...till we accidentally knocked him into the apple-bucket."

"That's not that bad Scoots...oh God, there's more isn't there?"

"Yeah and then, when we tried to help him out of that we ended up flinging him into the cotton candy booth..."

"...there's still more isn't there?"

"Yes." Sweetie Belle added, "See...then Pinkie Pie showed up and started chasing him, saying something about 'the cotton candy clouds have returned' and then he tripped and was right back into the apple bucket."

"I see." Ryan frowned, "That's an unfortunate series of events. Is he okay?"

"He's in good hooves if that's what ya mean; Twilight took him to get cleaned up but he was looking a little worn out."

"Well, it's not really yer fault hon so don't feel too bad. I'll have to go see him a little later to cheer him up." Ryan noted before standing back up, "So then...how's yer hauls?"

"Oh my gosh big bro, we got sooooo much candy!"

"Yeah, but we haven't gone with the others to pay Luna, I mean Nightmare Moon our respects."

'...Nightmare Moon?'

"I'm with Dark on this one...what about Lunes' evil past self?"

"Don't ya know? Part of Nightmare Night is offering some of yer haul to Nightmare Moon so she won't gobble ya up in yer dreams."

"I....see." Ryan remarked, "I'm guessing this is a carry-over from the old days when Lunes wasn't all together there in the head then."

"Yep! Last year she showed up and things got crazy! But it all worked out in the end." Scootaloo nodded before motioning with her head, "Come on big bro! Come with us...wouldn't want Nightmare Night to come haunt your dreams because you wouldn't share your candy right?"

Ryan smirked and nodded, "Haha, yeah, that would be bad huh?"

"Oh look, the loser blanks...but at least they have a competent chaperone."

Turning around (and knowing just whose voice that had to be), Ryan was not surprised to see Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon walking towards them; rolling his eyes and smirking he laughed softly, "Well well, what do we have here? A little princess and a fairy it would seem."

"Of course I'm a princess." Diamond Tiara noted, "I suppose you're heading off to Nightmare Moon's statue judging by the direction you're going."

"Heh, that's right DT. Care to join us?"

"Hmmmm, well that would be...oh drat, daddy's caught up to us again." She sighed, seeing her father come running over.

"Diamond dear, I've told you not to run off like that." Filthy Rich huffed before seeing Ryan and grimacing, "You don't know what you could run into...especially on a night like this."

Though he wasn't sure why, he could sense that Filthy (or should he say Rich? He wasn't sure) was directing those words at him; trying his best to ignore it he maintained a calm demeanor, "I assure you Mr. Rich, that your daughter as well as her friend would be well protected by me from anypony that wished to harm them."

"I bet." He tersely replied before nudging his daughter, "Come along now you two, it's nearly your bed time."

"...ugh, very well daddy." Diamond Tiara sighed, following behind her father but mouthing sorry to Ryan.

Ryan smiled and nodded, mouthing back that it was okay, it wasn't her fault.

"Bye Ryan!" Silver Spoon shouted as she trotted off to catch up to them, somewhat oblivious to what happened.

"Later SS, take care!" Ryan remarked before smiling down at the CMC's, "So then...shall we little ones?"

"Ah don't get it Ry, why does Diamond's dad seem to not like ya all that much?"

"I don't know AppleBloom; I can't think of any reason I've given him to act that way."

"Do you think it's just because you're a human?"

"I'd hope it wouldn't be that Sweetie Belle...that'd be like me hating somepony because they're a pony." Ryan sighed and shook his head, "Maybe he's just really distrustful of anyone that looks odd?"

"Well, either way it's stupid." Scootaloo huffed, "Anyway, we're just about there!"

Ryan couldn't help notice that the area they were heading to was uncomfortably close to that creepy forest, "So...they built this statue...in the outskirts of the Everfree Forest? The same forest that's warned against, told not to enter, and contains unknown horrors from beyond?"

"Yeah, that's right."

"And then every year you come to this statue, built out here, to leave candy? In the middle of the night no less?" Ryan paused in mid-step, "...ow."

"What happened big bro?"

"Mah mind broke at the weird logic is all." He huffed, "Anyway, I think I can see it from here."

Sure enough, there stood the statue of Nightmare Moon glowing in the moonlight; Ryan paused to look it over and frowned slightly at how...terrifying it made poor Luna look.

'Poor Woona...she looked so sad like this.'

"You see it too, though I shouldn't be surprised given how close you two were."

"Uh Ryan...you're talking to yourself."

"Oh, sorry Scootaloo, just having a conversation with Dark...he, as I, noted how sad her eyes look despite her fearsome appearance." Ryan opened up his bag and dumped out his offering, "I keep having to remind him not to beat himself up over what happened to her all those years ago."

"Well he shouldn't feel so down; as long as he knows she still loved him then that's what matters." AppleBloom noted before glomping Ryan, "Besides, if he's part of you, than when we hug ya we're hugging him too!"

"...so then...we kind of have two big bros?" Sweetie Belle remarked before glomping him as well, "...although I guess it would technically be three for AppleBloom since she already had Big Mac."

Scootaloo tapped her cheek before glomping on as well, "I don't really get it...but works for me!"

'Hahaha, you little rugrats are too much.'

"Yer welcome Dark!"

Just then there was a large flash as the wind kicked up thusly and all of a sudden the statue standing there turned into...Nightmare Moon?

"What the hell?" Ryan gasped, quickly grabbing the girls and jumping back, "How?!"

'This can't be possible!'

"You foolish little foals, to think you dare to stay here when we appear to collect your meager offerings!" Nightmare Moon bellowed, "You must have some courage to remain in your spots and...............Darkness?"

"Lunes?"

'Woona?'

In one more quick flash of magic, Nightmare Moon turned back into how Luna should normally look before she slowly walked over to Ryan who was still tightly holding his little sisters, "Goodness me...you're practically his spitting image now."

Ryan, sensing things were not amiss, set the CMC's down before blinking, "Lunes...what in tarnation was all that?"

"Huh? Oh, I'm sorry; apparently the children like it when I spook them on Nightmare Night so I make a point to appear. Besides, look at all this free candy."

'Heh, you always did have a sweet tooth.'

"That's true enough Darkness. I just can't get over how perfectly you've copied him though Ryan." Luna walked around him once more, "The wings, the hair...but I know it's still just you looking like him."

"I am sorry Lunes...had I known you were going to be here I would've gone as something else."

"No, no, that's okay; as time goes on I find my memories do not affect me as hard as they did when you first arrived. He wouldn't want me to stay all hung up on it after all."

'Woona...'

"Hmmm...hey little sisters?" Ryan turned and kneeled in front of them, "Do ya think you can get back to town on yer own okay?"

"Hmmm? Oh. Oh! Yeah! Yeah! We're not far from town...and technically it's not really in the Everfree Forest so."

"Are you sure that's a good idea AppleBloom?"

"Trust me on this one Scootaloo, ah think I know what Ryan's planning."

"Uhm, maybe you can fill me in then while we walk back." Sweetie Belle noted, "Don't stay out too late big bro!"

"I won't girls, see ya later." Ryan watched as they headed off back to town before turning back to Luna, "I...we have been working on something...it's not too stable...so I don't know how long it'll work for but...I figure this night is appropriate enough for it."

'Are you sure about this Ryan? You don't have to...and it's probably gonna hurt once it's over...'

"Ah know, but...well I don't mind since, ya know, I'm dressed for the part."

Luna was just perplexed as the two went back and forth, "What are you two talking about?"

"You'll see....Soul Cross." Ryan grunted for a moment after calling out the spell and fell to one knee, a hand clutching his head.

"Ryan?"

"...Not Exactly." A gruffer voice was the reply Luna got as he stood up slowly, "Huh...this body feels like mine...but it's different enough for me to know it isn't."

Luna felt she knew this voice and the way he was talking, "...Darkness?"

"Heh, in the flesh...so to speak; Ryan's a hell of a guy, giving up control of his body so you and I can have more than a moment." Dark smirked, walking over and putting his arm around Luna's neck, "...I've missed you so much. I see your fur is as soft as ever."

"Dark." Luna blinked back tears before leaning against him, "I...I know I said the memories don't affect me as much but...your voice...your touch..."

"Shhh, there there." Dark quietly whispered, caressing her mane, "I know it was hard...you stayed tough for so long until it was too much."

"Darkness I..."

"I'm not disappointed though...you held back as long as you could; thankfully Tia was there to do what she could. I...I just wish she had found a better way than leaving you alone for 1,000 years on the moon."

"It was so lonely....and all I could think of for the longest time was how much I missed you...and my sister."

"If there had been a way, I would've gladly stayed with you there my sweet Woona." Dark smiled, removing his shades and staring into her eyes, "Just like your stars above, your beauty still shines so brightly."

"...you still know how to charm a mare." Luna snickered before blinking as she felt something cold land on her, "...snow?"

Sure enough, as Dark and Luna could see, a light snow began to fall signaling the start of winter at last; he laughed softly at this turn of events, "This reminds me of Hearth's Warming Eve that first year I lived with you and Tia. Do you still remember that?"

"Ah yes...how could I forget the day you finally confessed your love for me? Haha, you were so nervous at how I'd react all because of such a silly difference."

"Yeah." Dark laughed into a sigh before smiling, "I was always so fierce against those threatening us...but when it came to confessing my feelings I was like a shy school boy."

"When I accepted your love, it began snowing just like this; we sat in the garden for hours that evening as the ground slowly turned to white." Luna smiled, turning to Dark and seeing him grimacing in pain, "Darkness?"

"Heh, sorry Woona...but I think my time is about up; this spell is pretty draining, especially for a human to perform." Dark groaned, feeling the effects as his wings vanished from sight, "Poor Ryan's gonna have a hell of a headache...I don't think we'll be testing this spell out again anytime soon though so...sorry hon."

"Heh, that is okay; any time with you is a gift. A gift from a very caring friend." Luna smiled softly, leaning down to kiss Dark, "Protect him, okay?"

"I will Woona...goodbye...for now."

With that Dark collapsed to his knees before his voice changed into a familiar, slightly southern one, "Sweet Celestia that spell hurt mah noggin something fierce."

"Ryan?"

"The one and only Lunes; I take it you enjoyed yer time with Dark?" He asked, slowly standing up and stumbling a bit, "Oh man...mah head! Hmmm...it's snowing too? Crazy."

"...do...do you mean to say you did not have awareness while Dark was borrowing your body?"

"The Soul Cross basically puts me to sleep for lack of a better explanation; Dark's got full control when I'm out." He explained, "But...I trust him so..."

"You are a very good friend. To hear his voice, truly hear it, after all this time has brought a smile to me I have not felt in some time. Thank you Ryan."

"Heh, anytime Lunes...but...ugh...." He stumbled, falling to one knee, "Damn; I underestimated the spell a little."

"Shall I assist you?" Luna asked, lending him a hoof.

"To get up, yes; as for getting home...there appears to be a certain orange pony I'm quite fond of hiding in the bushes watching us. I would love if she assisted me to our home."

"...How in tarnation?" AppleJack shouted before realizing she gave herself away, "Ah...ah mean...oh drat Ry-Ry."

Walking over to the two, Ryan could see that her eyes were a little red...had she been crying?

"Apps...your eyes; are...are you okay?"

"Yes!" She quickly replied, "Ah...ah just...that whole thing ya just did for the Dark and the Princess...it's just...touchin' at how sweet mah stallion is to his friends."

"Apps." Ryan took her into a tight hug, "Heh, you know me; I do what I can to make mah friends happy. Yer the same way, remember?"

"Ah know that, it's just...the way I do it is different. I help them...but ya gave up control of yer body willingly like it was nothin'." AppleJack sank into his hug, nuzzling his neck, "Ah don't know about you, but that's a pretty big thing ta do fer a friend."

"Doesn't seem that way ta me." Slowly standing up, Ryan placed a hand on Apps to keep steady before turning to Luna, "Lunes, if you'll excuse us. It has been a wonderful evening and I do hope you have a good Nightmare Night."

"With the gift you've given me...and of course all this delicious candy of course, I can safely say I have. You two take care of each other."

"Shucks, I'll keep him in line Princess if'n that's what ya mean."

"Apps!"

Luna laughed at their exchange before nodding, "Of that I do not doubt, farewell my friends."

Waving goodbye Ryan and AppleJack began their walk back to town, noting that the festivities were well over at this point. The stands yet to be taken down were the only reminder of the events of the evening as they walked passed a few stragglers still out and about enjoying the company of friends...and apparently trying to hunt ghosts from the sounds of it.

"Ah tarnation, ah got so caught up helping Dark and Lunes I forget to check in on Spike."

"I wouldn't worry about that Apple Ryder." AppleJack remarked with a smirk as they began the trek back to the farm.

"And what is that supposed to mean?"

"Haha, you'll see mah love; have mah surprises ever been bad?"

Ryan shrugged, figuring she had a point; as they finally came upon the farmhouse he could see a rather large bonfire set up...and some very familiar ponies (and one dragon) sitting around it, "Ah, now I see what you meant luv."

"Ah told you it'd be okay."

Seeing that Ryan and AppleJack had finally joined them, they offered them a marshmallow on a stick as they sat and joined the party.

"Hey big guy, where's your wings at?"

"Hmmm? Well Dashie, let's just say the energy I was using to keep them out was better used to help out some friends of ours."

"...and what the hay does that mean? Sheesh, always so cryptic."

"What it means Rainbow Dash, is mah Apple Ryder was being his sweet, loving self as always." AppleJack added, before munching on her marshmallow, "Mmmm, that's chewy goodness."

Turning to his right, Ryan smirked at Spike before pulling him in for a noogie, "I hear ya got into some misadventures of yer own little buddy. How ya feeling?"

"Heh, better until you decided to be silly." Spike teased, grinning at Ryan's actions, "The girls made up for it though by giving me some of their rock candy."

"That's good to hear; they did seem genuinely upset at causing you grief. Ahm guessing they're sleeping though."

Fluttershy ate another marshmallow before nodding, "Oh yes, those little dears tried their hardest to stay up till you and AppleJack got back but they just wore themselves out too much and fell asleep. Granny Smith moved them into the house so I suppose they're sleeping over."

"Haha, they can be so adorable when they aren't getting into trouble." Ryan laughed softly, "This has been a fun night everypony...tiring, draining, but fun."

With that the friends talked long into the night, the fire slowly dwindling as they joked, told spooky stories, and of course enjoyed one another's company...oh, right, and had lots of delicious candy as well; as the last embers finally sparked out everypony yawned before stretching and standing up. Saying their goodnights, the friends went their separate ways back home while Ryan and AppleJack doused the rest of the fire. Afterwards they slowly made their way inside and upstairs before seeing the three CMC's happily dreaming in AppleBloom's room.

"Heh, they're just so cute." Ryan whispered before quietly walking by.

"Yeah, but just wait till they're up and makin' all sorts of noise."

"Haha, well, that's true." He remarked as they entered their room and closed the door, "...I'm too tired to change."

Sighing, Ryan tossed off his jacket and kicked off his shoes before flopping into bed...and then feeling AppleJack flop on top of him; too tired to say anything about this position, he softly kissed her before feeling her get comfy and rest her head on his shoulder. Wrapping his arm around her waist, he closed his eyes and with that his first ever Nightmare Night came to a successful and happy end.

Author's Note:

It's a bit early, but the idea train isn't stopping for me so here's the Nightmare Night/Halloween chapter as well as a little follow-up to the celebration and then a few other small things to get it back into a more silly, less serious mood. Also that little part with Apps and Ryan in the orchard I do NOT know where it came from; I was just typing and then...that really bad joke just popped in there and I could not pass up using it. Haha, hope y'all enjoy!

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