• Published 25th Aug 2013
  • 10,106 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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13th Harvest

"So we've got the plan then? We know how to pull this off?"

Twilight yawned and shook her head in an effort to wake up, "Yes, yes...we'll be waiting for you after you make the acquisition. Are you sure you can fly while doing that?"

"Of course, of course; I've gotten better. Not like the target is that heavy either." Ryan joked, cracking his neck, "Now come on...the sun will be up soon."

The early morning hours of November 19th saw Ryan and all his friends meeting to enact a special plan; putting their hooves (and his hand) in and cheering, he took off towards the outskirts of town. His destination? A certain cloud-based domicile.

Seeing that sunrise would be in merely a few minutes, Ryan snapped his fingers, donned his wings, and jumped up to gain altitude before quietly landing at the front door. Slowly turning the knob, he pushed the door open and tip-toed towards the bedroom of one Rainbow Dash; he couldn't help but smile at how cute she looked lying there: her colorful mane messily strewn about, her tongue hanging out slightly, and the most heart-melting smile on her face.

'She has no idea what's about to happen does she?'

'Not at all mah dear Darkness...but oh boy will she be happy.'

Smirking, and seeing the last bit of night begin to slip away, he carefully scooped her up and cushioned her against his chest. Heading back towards the front door, she mumbled a bit before opening one eye and sighing.

"Oh man...I'm sleep-flying again...wait..." Rainbow Dash blinked for a bit, "Why do I feel so warm? And why are we....ahhhh!"

At that point in her thoughts, Ryan had reached the edge of the cloud and jumped off, flapping his wings to stay steady as he held her tight. Of course, at this point Dashie was grabbing Ryan tightly in confusion which did help him some, "Let up a little mah dear Dashie...yer gonna choke me doing that."

"...Ryan? What in Ponyville are you doing?'

Ryan smirked, flashing her a toothy grin, "Isn't it obvious? I'm kidnapping ya for yer birthday!"

"Kidnapping me? What are you going to do to me?" Rainbow Dash blinked, thinking over that question before smirking at him, "What are you going to do to me?"

'Oh my! She's a live one isn't she?'

"Indeed." Ryan did his best to fight back the blush at her insinuation, "She wouldn't be Dashie if she wasn't though."

Rainbow Dash's smirk faltered for a moment, "...so does this mean no sexy time with you?"

Ryan coughed at that remark, slowly unbalancing in his flight path at how bold Dashie had been; laughing softly at her, he kissed her cheek before motioning at the balloon rising in front of them.

"....oh." She pouted, "I guess this isn't a dream then. Oh well, can't blame a mare for trying!"

"Quite but I think you'll find our plans to be enjoyable none the less."

Once catching up with their friends, Rainbow Dash had spread her wings and was currently flying with Ryan next to them as they made their way towards their destination. She was still a bit puzzled, however, as to why they were heading in the direction they were.

"I know we're heading towards my hometown, but why?" She asked, tapping her cheek in thought, "I mean...the only thing I can think of...is...that...!"

"Haha, it would seem ladies, that our dear Dashie has figured out our cunnin' plan...or part of it anyway."

"Ohmygosh, ohmygosh, ohmygosh, ohmygosh! Please tell me you totally got what I think you did?!"

Seeing a nod from Apps, Ryan reached into his pocket and pulled out a ticket before flicking his wrist and fanning said ticket out into seven tickets adorned with a logo that nearly made Rainbow Dash stop flapping her wings.

"Holy bucking pony feathers! You guys did get Wonderbolts tickets for their Cloudsdale show!" She gasped, flying over and staring at the tickets in Ryan's hand, "But...but how?! This is their most popular showing and they've been sold out since the summer!?"

Ryan shrugged and motioned over towards AppleJack, "You'd have to ask her...I only supplied the bits to get them."

"That's actually something I've been wondering about too." Twilight admitted, glancing over to AppleJack's smiling self sitting next to her in the basket, "How did you manage to find these tickets?"

"Yes darling, what is your secret?"

"Hee, that, much like the Apple family's secret ingredients, are on a need to know basis."

"Oh! That's so clever! It's still the truth and she doesn't have to tell us!"

"I don't really care!" Rainbow Dash flew over and glomped AppleJack, "This is the best gift ever!"

"Uh...Rainbow Dash? Could you not rock the balloon please?"

"Heh, sorry Twilight."

"...ahm pretty confident our plans won't have any problems...but."-Ryan made a motion as if tapping his foot-"I'm just a bit worried that since I've never been to Cloudsdale, the ponies there might just freak out a little."

"Oh come on Ryan!" Dashie patted him on the back and grinned, "You're with the Rainbow Dash! There's nothing to worry about! Besides..."-she smirked-"I'm sure they'll be plenty of mares eager to meet a real, live hero."

Ryan could only gasp and sputter, rolling his eyes at her incessant teasing; recovering he grabbed her in a headlock and began ruffling her mane thusly.

"No! No! Mercy! Come on! I'm the birthday mare here!"

"Heh, and you're also cheeky as all get out!" He relinquished his hold on her before looking ahead of them, "So to ask the obvious question: are we there yet?"

"...it's...breathtaking."

Ryan was rather impressed with how beautiful Cloudsdale looked; granted he expected something similar to what Dashie's abode looked like but he was not prepared for the grandeur of this floating city in and of the clouds. Easing in with the others, he landed next to their balloon before hopping back and forth on his feet, "...it's still weird to be able to actually walk on clouds like this."

'You'll get used to it and have it feeling like second nature in no time...that's what Woona told me anyway the first time she took me cloud walking.'

"...you know."-Rainbow Dash eyed Ryan (or Dark rather) oddly-"You talk a lot about back then with the Princess and all these things...but you never talk about anything before that."

At that, Dark made no reply, but Ryan could sense that particular subject was something that didn't sit well with his counterpart, "Dark...they are our friends; they know what Lunes and Cellie told me, er, us when I first showed up about ya."

'Yeah, I know, it's just...it still bothers me that I will probably never remember anything before that rainy night.'-He let out a sigh-'I mean, I don't even remember a family or...anything really. No human ever recognized me from those that lived around Canterlot and the surrounding countryside so...to be honest, my name was about the only thing I felt right about. It just...fit in my mind.'

Rainbow frowned at his words, realizing that she apparently poked a very sore subject before floating over and patting Ryan's back, "Hey...look, it...it doesn't matter ya know? You did some awesome stuff to help save our world back then...and you kept Ryan safe when he tried to save our flanks. I'm not sure it's all that great being a disembodied spirit or soul or what have you seeing as all that stuff hurts my head to think on but..."-she pointed to herself and the others-"Ryan's part of our family, and so are you so don't ever worry about stuff like that okay?"

Dark let out a growly chuckle, 'You really are a sweet gal Dashie; you remind me of a brash pony that always had my back. You definitely would've gotten along with her.'

"Well, ya know, you are part of the group effort here to make my birthday like 200 percent cooler so..."

'Haha, well then, what are we waiting for? We've got a plan to enact!'

"Dark's right! Twilight, the list!"

"On it Ryan!" Twilight chuckled as she pulled out a list, "Well we "kidnapped" Rainbow Dash, and made our way here, so let's go check in at our hotel before we go start the festivities."

"Yeehaw! Now that's what I was waiting to hear!"

The group laughed, their bond reaffirmed as they headed out of the landing zone and in towards town; the Pegasi there did indeed give Ryan many an odd look, though whether that was because of him being a human or his wings he couldn't quite deduce. As they neared the hotel they were staying, Ryan was suddenly blocked by two ponies in what appeared to be police outfits...or a close approximation.

"Sir, I'm afraid you'll have to come with us."

Ryan blinked and titled his head, "If I may ask: on what grounds sirs?"

"We've had rumor of a threat and you happen to match the description given."-the officer lifted up his baton-"I'd rather we do this the easy way."

"This is ridiculous!" Rainbow Dash shouted, "Don't you know how harmless this guy is?! Not to mention he-"

"Dashie."-Ryan put his hand on her mane to calm her-"It's okay; let's see what the mix-up is and settle things peacefully. I'm sure it's just a mistake and the sooner we clear it up, the sooner we can get back on track."

With that the officer relaxed at seeing they were going to get his cooperation; flanking his left and right, they led Ryan off to the police station.

"This isn't right Twi!"

"I know AppleJack."

"That darling man could never harm a fly, let alone ponies!"

"Look, there's no need to get worked up; Ryan did the right thing in staying calm about this. Let's just follow along and find out what's going on."

With that Twilight and the others followed behind them towards the police station, curious as to just who or what was causing this rumor that was beginning to mar what should've been a happy day for Rainbow Dash and her friends.

"...so when are ya guys gonna explain what the heck is going on to me?"

Ryan had been sitting in a prison cell now, handcuffed at that, for nearly an hour and yet the ponies holding him had yet to explain anything let alone what he was supposedly charged with.

Twilight and the others however, were doing their best to get any information they can; Rainbow Dash had been pretty adamant, demanding they had no right to treat him like this.

Noting that she was getting dangerously close to being cuffed herself, AppleJack tugged on her tail and looked her dead in the eye, "Now y'all need ta relax; getting all flustered and arrested yerself isn't gonna help solve this situation a single bit."

"...yes, I know but...."

"What do you mean he was terrorizing the Weather Factory? That's ridiculous!" Twilight shouted before calming herself, "Look...Ryan has been with us at all these dates you note the vandal struck. For Celestia's sake, when this happened we were at Lake Saddle enjoying the beach!"

"I'm sure if that is true, then he will have an alibi and we'll release him soon." The desk sergeant sighed, "Do you think I enjoy this anymore than you do? I know who he is...anypony with a brain that reads the paper should know who he is. Heh, goodness knows he's done enough to make the news more than once since getting here."

"So then why are you still detaining him dear sir?"

"I'm sorry Miss Rarity, but it's procedure; even if he is a hero, and helped all of you save our flanks, not everypony can let their base fears go."

"...so he's basically being held and harassed for being a human?"

The sergeant sighed heavily again before turning to Fluttershy, "Yes miss...though it's not my doing; apparently something else is holding it up and, to be honest, it stinks."

"What does the odor have to do with keeping Rysy-wysy all locked up?"

"...what he means Pinkie is that the reasons for keeping Ryan detained appear to be very fishy."

"...now fish are involved? But we're in the sky!"

Twilight face-hoofed before exhaling, "Someone is purposely making it hard on Ryan because he's human; someone with a stupid prejudice no doubt. That is why he's being hassled for so long despite having witnesses that give him an alibi."

"Ooooooooh!" Pinkie huffed, "Why didn't you just say that in the first place?!"

"Anyway ladies, it shouldn't be too much longer. I hope."-the sergeant rubbed his temples-"With the Weather Factory incidents causing production issues, it's no surprise everypony is on edge around other species."

It was a tense and trying half hour later that Ryan was led out by the same two ponies as before...but he was still in handcuffs.

"Why in tarnation do ya still have those things on fer Apple Ryder?"

"They said it's procedure until I was back out front." Ryan seethed before smirking and easily shattering the handcuffs, "What? Why so surprised? These are designed for ponies after all...and I'm not yer normal human either at this point."

"...I'm gonna overlook that since ya were treated pretty crappy." The sergeant smirked, "Besides, those things are cheap as hell so it's no big loss."

"But sir!"

"Hush!"-the sergeant glared at the pony standing to Ryan's right-"You know as well as I do that this pony...no, man has done as much good as we do if not more, so I won't have you disrespecting him any further. We should be so thankful all he's reciprocating with is a harmless joke...and not pressing charges for slander and wrongful imprisonment."

"...I'd probably still be in there if not for a letter from Cellie and Lunes telling them, and I quote, ta "release me before the wrath of the sun and moon landed squarely upon their flanks"." Ryan sighed, stretching and wincing as his back cracked, "I guess it helps to have such powerful friends."

'That's for sure!'

"...h-how did he talk without moving his mouth?!"

Ryan smirked before stepping back and smirking at the two officers, "It's because I'm the big mysterious human..."

'And with mah magical powers and hands, I can do anything! No pony is safe! Nopony!'

Well, needless to say, with Dark's words and Ryan's overzealous (bordering on cheesy) acting and "spooky" movements, those two officers ran like scared little colts back to their offices; glancing at the sergeant (who had the smallest of smirks on his face), Ryan blew on the tips of his index finger to accentuate his point before laughing loudly, "And that, mah friends, is why ahm awesome!"

"...you do realize that those poor officers most likely will be traumatized for some time right?"

"Haha, I hope so!" Rainbow Dash was doubled over in laughter at Ryan and Dark's little tag-team action, "I swear, I thought this birthday was going to be all crummy with them hassling our buddy but shattering the cuffs and then spooking them totally made it worthwhile."

"I'm glad you two are having fun." Twilight sighed as they finally arrived at the hotel, "Let's just hope things don't get out of hoof and they go spreading rumors about him."

"Oh darling, it's just some harmless fun. How did you put it again dearie?"

Ryan turned to Rarity and smirked, "Ah have to be diabolical once and a while, helps keep the urges down ya know."

"Haha, ah yes. How a gentlecolt such as yourself can also be so mischievous is something I will never comprehend. However, I think that makes you just wonderful darling."

"Ah think yer making him blush again Rarity." AppleJack teased, poking Ryan's side while he just tried to avoid eye-contact.

"...no comment."

'Oh! Oh! Pick me! I've got comments!'

"I bet you do Darky-Warky! You have some of the best! And that's like not fair because Ryan does too at times and then it's like two heads are better than one but you only have one head because it's Ryan's but you're in there too and...."

Pinkie rambled on for a few moments until Twilight returned with their room keys as they headed upstairs to unpack and get ready for what was soon to be quite a night; Ryan rummaged through his outfits, trying to pick one that would be just right for Dashie's birthday.

"This one?"

'Nah.'

"How about this one?"

'...not cool enough.'

"Damn...this one?!"

'.....cool, but not awesome.'

"Ry-Ry, I can hear y'all from clear across the way. What's the matter?"

AppleJack paused after hearing that question, looking at the various outfits Ryan had strewn about their bed and picked up on what the problem was; trying not to think as to how he fit so much in his bag lest her brain scramble she poked about what was left in hopes to help him. She was having much the same issue as Ryan and Dark had until she found one outfit in particular, "Hey Apple Ryder...how's about this one?"

Looking to see which one she'd picked out, a large toothy grin appeared on Ryan's face as he scooped her up for a big hug, "That's perfect mah sweet apple!"

Planting a heck of a kiss on her lips, he grabbed his outfit and got to changing since he knew the others were most likely ready at this point.

"Sweet apples...that man is something else." AppleJack giggled as she walked back to the others, "He'll be ready any moment y'all; he just wanted to looks his best for Rainbow Dash!"

'So then, how do you think she'll react?'

"I believe it will be as we expect...with the twenty percent cooler-ness as well." Ryan remarked, looking himself over in the mirror, "Heh, I'm looking pretty sharp. Okay! Party time!"

Walking out into the living space of their large room, Ryan gave a sharp whistle to get everypony's attention before striking a pose, "So then...I heard it was somepony's birthday. Somepony that's cool."-he spun-"Awesome."-he snapped his fingers to don his wings-"And whose trademark rainbow colors make anypony look almost as good as she does!"

Amidst snickers, laughs, and blushing from his friends, Rainbow Dash's reaction was the one that stood out the most as her wings flew right up as she got a good look at his ensemble: a pair of sky-blue jeans, a polo shirt striped in the same style as her mane, and her iconic cutie mark logo strategically placed on both the left front of his shirt and on the outside of each pant-leg cuff.

"Well, I guess we all know how Dashie feels about my rather eye-catching ensemble." Ryan bit back a laugh as he walked over and ruffled her hair, "So then...ready to go see your heroes?"

"You betcha!" Rainbow Dash pulled a 180, suddenly herself again as she let out the most fangirlish squee ever, "Uhm, I mean...yes! Yes!"

Biting back more snickering, the group made their way downstairs and began heading towards their destination: the massive Cloudeseum where all major events were held. While they all made idle chit-chat, Ryan still was a bit stunned at how this massive city just floated in the sky like it was nothing and to say he was impressed that the clouds themselves were part of the buildings as well would be an understatement. The design style did make him wonder about how long this city had been around as it reminded him of Greek mythology from his world.

'I can field that one.'

Ryan was a bit surprised Dark was being quiet this time, but he appreciated the rare show of subtlety, 'I bet you can oh millennium man.'

'Cute. Anyway, Cloudsdale was founded not too long after pony kind stumbled on Equestria and made nice with the humans there. It was a much smaller place back then; I remember going with Luna when they had the inauguration of the Weather Factory...though back then it only had the rainbow production and cloud control functions.'

'Ah yes, from what I've read and had Dashie tell me they've gained an ever stronger control over their, well, control of the weather. That still seems crazy to me but, alas, I am the man with two voices in his head so who am I to dictate crazy?'

'Too true, too true. Oh, we're here by the way so might wanna pay attention again.'

Noting Dark was right, he thanked his counterpart before following them along to the entrance where a large number of displays were set up: with the vendors hawking souvenirs, the bustling crowds, and the long line to get in it seemed no different than any other sporting event he'd been to back on his Earth.

"You've got the tickets right?"

Ryan jumped when Dashie grabbed on to him and stared into his eyes pleadingly, as she continued going on and on, hoping he hadn't left them in the hotel or even lost them!

"Dash I..."-he rolled his eyes when she wouldn't let him get a word in edgewise, so he took hold of her wings, "Dashie?"

"Yes Ry?"

"I have the tickets, it's all good. I know you are eager to have fun on yer birthday but relax darlin'; yer gonna pop a blood vessel gettin' all crazy like that." Ryan huffed, prying her from his person and pulling out the tickets for their entire groups, "See? Seven."

"This is going to be so awesome!" She squeed again before taking a long hard stare at the tickets, "...wait a bucking minute...these say they're...VIP?"

Ryan watched as her pupils got very, very small while her eyes did the opposite and grew wide, "...yeah. Dashie, is that...that fact...a problem?"

'Dude, yer about to be kissing a whole different type of ground.'

"What do you mean D-" And with that, Ryan was light-dash tackled to the cloudy ground by Rainbow Dash much to the amusement of their friends, "Uhm...Hahaha. I guess that's a good thing huh?"

"I reckon ya won't be happy till ya get intimate with the ground in every city huh Ryan?"

"Apps!" He grumbled, trying to fight off the blush from being tackled, "Right! Shall we ladies?"

Rarity and Fluttershy giggled again at Ryan's flustered state, while Twilight and Pinkie simply smirked as he led them to the entrance gates, tickets in hand. Curious that security to get in was strangely non-existent (seriously, they let him walk in with his sword and everything), he gave a shrug as the pony at the gate verified their passes; after everypony had their pass safely tucked away in their lanyard necklace they walked around for a bit to look at the exhibits and such seeing as the show wouldn't start for another two hours.

"...I dare say that was the easiest time I've ever had gettin' into an event."

"What are you talking about Ryan?"

"Well Dashie, as y'all know, mah world is not...the safest so to speak. An event like this in mah world could easily take thirty minutes or more to get into just for security checks."

'Really? I hadn't accessed that particular knowledge from you. How very inconvenient that is.'

"Darky-warky's right! That would totally cut down on fun time!"

"Haha, true Pinks; I guess that's one benefit of Equestria being rather peaceful."-he paused to see Rainbow Dash staring at the souvenir booth-"See anything you like Dashie?"

She simply nodded her head, looking at him briefly before looking over everything, "I mean, I have some of this stuff already but it's all so awesome! Although there are a few things I don't have in my collection yet."

"Haha, ya really want to be one of them someday don'tcha?" Ryan teased, gently ruffling her mane, "Go ahead, pick out something; my treat for the birthday mare."

Well, Rainbow didn't need to be asked twice before looking all over for what she'd wanted; Twilight walked over to Ryan and pushed up to lean on him before whispering, "Are you sure about that? There's quite a few things here Rainbow Dash doesn't have..."

"Heh."—he gently patted Twilight's mane—"Relax T-Sparks...you know that I'm more than able to do this thanks to a few unique patents you and I both own."

Twilight closed her eyes, enjoying the attention from Ryan before smirking, "I know...I guess it's just surprising how easily you spend all of it on your friends; most other ponies with that kind of money wouldn't."

Glancing to see Rainbow Dash now had a modest pile of things picked out, he chuckled softly as Twilight hugged him before hopping back down, "Well, as ya well know, I'm not most other ponies. Now then..."

Walking over to the mare running the booth, Ryan pulled out his wallet and blinked a moment at the total but still happily pulled out the bits and beamed at the huge smile on Dashie's face as she slipped on the hat and goggles while he took the bag holding her other souvenirs.

"I can't believe you just parted with those like it was nothing Ryan!"

"Hey, what's a birthday if you aren't spoiled a little right?"

"Woooo! He's so right!" Pinkie remarked, pulling out her portable hole and reaching inside it, "Oh yeah! Ryan Special time!"

"...darling, how did that stay cold?"

"Oh that's easy Rares, built in freezer."

"...I....that is..."-she rubbed her temples-"You're a dear man but sometimes you hurt a pony's brain with your logic."

"Come on Ryan!"

"Yeah Ry-Ry!"

"Rysy-wysy totally has to do this with you!"

"It is her birthday darling."

"...w-well, I think you should since it'd make her happy."

Rainbow Dash said nothing and simply looked at Ryan who was feeling a bit overwhelmed by his friends and girlfriend all giving him the sweetest, most heart-attack inducing smiles he'd ever seen.

'Dude, yer totally cornered here.'

"Not helping Dark." Ryan sighed before smiling and nodding his head, "Okay Dashie...you win. Let's go do that little tag-team obstacle course."

"So awesome!" She squeed, grabbing his hand and leading him over to the line, "I never get to try this since Fluttershy is always too afraid to."

"So...this is a mock-up of a Wonderbolts obstacle course?" Ryan looked at the course ahead of them as the line slowly moved up, "I'd assume it's not nearly as hard as the one they use given these are just normal Pegasi and not some amazing, synchronized flight team....right?"

"Of course! Of course!" She replied a bit quicker than he'd liked, "...thankfully they don't use the accuracy rings or I don't think you'd be able to fully enjoy yourself."

"...right. Well...I suppose it's a good thing I've been getting lessons from you in flying then."

With that the line slowly moved forward until it was Ryan and Rainbow Dash's turn; the stallion running the booth did a bit of a double-take at Ryan's tall, winged form before shrugging and telling him to have fun.

"Heh, I'll back you up Dashie; feel free to take the lead."

"Right! I'll guide us to victory!"

With that the two took off as a crowd began to form, curious to watch a non-Pegasus attempt the course, as they came up to the first obstacle.

"Are those...giant wind generators?" Ryan remarked before feeling the wind kick up, "Yeah...guessin' they are."

"Stay in formation and follow me!"

Smirking at how much fun Dashie was having, Ryan nodded and kept pace behind her as they weaved between small cyclones that threatened to knock them off course; as they cleared the wind he looked up to see large storm clouds closing it.

"Dashie!"

"Right! I see them!"

He couldn't help laughing as they spun out of the way to avoid the lightning strikes while he let out a loud shout, "Do A Barrel Roll!"

"...what?"

"...Nevermind; let's just say a certain rabbit I'm familiar with made that phrase quite famous on the internet."

Back on the "ground", AppleJack watched on with a bit of awe out how well their friends were doing, "Ah reckon I knew Rainbow Dash wouldn't have much trouble but I've gotta say Apple Ryder really is getting the hang of that flying thing."

"I still find the science behind it fascinating though." Twilight remarked, watching him glide behind Rainbow Dash before pulling ahead of her to cut a path through some thick clouds, "That a species like his could actually fly, let alone in a stable manner, just goes to show that magic can make any numbers work."

"...darling, while I know that Ryan's magnificent wings get you all worked, is this really the place to be thinking of that?"

"Why not Rarity? The way he can generate lift and fly through the sky with the same grace as a Pegasus is certainly worthy of research...more than he's already allowed anyway. The mathematics alone..."

Unaware of Twilight once again geeking out, Ryan was having a blast with Dashie and he could tell she felt the same if that huge grin of hers meant anything; sensing the end was near he saw a series of posts hovering in mid-air that seemed to be the final test, "So then...agility time!"

"That's right! I know you'll do fine even if you are bulkier than a pony."

"You brat! Get back here!"

"Hahaha, gotta catch me first Ryan!" With that she zoomed ahead of him, leaving a blur of rainbow in her wake.

"Gladly Dashie!" He smirked, doubling his efforts as he left a brief trail of purple, grey, and black in his wake, "I have you now mah rainbow-tinted pretty!"

"Nope!" She smirked, weaving back and forth between the pylons before watching Ryan do so as well with a little more style, "Hey!"

Ryan had decided if he couldn't win with speed points, he'd do so with style points so every time he weaved he struck a different pose. Doing so, however, had actually let him catch up to her as she had slowed to watch his showboating; when he was within arm's reach of her he grabbed hold and spun her around with him before striking a pose with her as they passed the last marker and landed at the finish line, "And that, dear Dashie, is how you win with twenty percent more coolitude!"

'...huh.'

"What?" He replied to Dark's curious, one word statement, "What are you?"-he saw that a crowd had apparently formed around he and Dashie no doubt thanks to their theatrics-"Oh...huh."

'Exactly.'

"Uhm....hi?" Ryan remarked before nudging Rainbow Dash, "Uhm...what do we do?"

"I don't know...you're the crazy flying human that sticks out as it is and then decided to stand out further by showboating with me."

'...maybe they just want an autograph?'

"Dark that is the most ridiculous..."-he blinked as someone thrust a notepad in his direction...followed by another and another-"...what?"

He turned to see Rainbow Dash was getting the same treatment and looking at him blankly; giving her a shrug he pulled out his pen and get to signing as did she. Eventually the crowd thinned out and their friends managed to make their way through to them, though the smirks on their faces certainly meant they had some thoughts to vocalize, "Come on then...go ahead."

"...that was pretty awesome. Yay!"

"Fluttershy is not wrong dearies, but I think you may have drawn a bit too much attention to yourselves."

Ryan sighed and shrugged, "I know Rares but...I just wanted to make sure Dashie had her fun."

"That does add up with how you are; of course that's not the only thing that adds up: I got so much information watching you fly and..."

"T-Sparks...please...now's not the time for science."

"Right! Come on you guys! If we don't get to our seats we're gonna miss the pre-show!"

Before he could utter a 'wha?', Rainbow Dash grabbed Ryan and began dragging him to the stadium's VIP section with the others in tow; before he could figure out how the hell she suddenly got so strong they'd arrived and, with a quick flash of their passes, were in and settled for the show to get underway.

After an interesting performance by the local high school's 'High Flyer Association' to open the theatrics (which made Ryan smirk at how even sporting events here also seemed to include school groups), the announcer began working the crowd up for the amazing show they were about to see; looking around he could see the coliseum was just packed with tons of Pegasi and other ponies that had made their way here, "I may have underestimated just how popular the Wonderbolts are."

"They're only like the best fliers in all of Equestria Ryan! How can they not be popular?"

"...so, correct me if I'm wrong, but they're part of the military here as well right?"

"Sort of; they do respond to threats but since ones requiring their intervention don't happen too often they've mostly become a showcase of talent and stuff."

Ryan nodded his head before smirking, "So then they're like the Blue Angels."

"What in tarnation are those?"

"The Blue Angels. Remember those fighter plane things I told y'all about not too long after I got here?"

"Yeah! Those things that you said zoomed across the sky and might give Rainbow Dash a run for her money!"

"Haha, yes Pinks; anyway there's a group of them called the Blue Angels that seem very similar to the Wonderbolts. On mah Earth they filled pretty much the same role: while technically part of the military, they were mostly a showcase and stunt group that would show off their skills for the crowd at Air Shows."-he smiled as he thought back on some memories-"I still remember going to see them practice with mah dad when I was younger. I always thought it was pretty cool that they were from mah hometown."

"Huh, so then I bet you can appreciate how awesome the Wonderbolts are."

He laughed heartily at that, "Well Dashie-kins, if they're as amazing as the Blue Angels then I don't doubt it."

"...D-Dashie-kins?! Don't go changing up nicknames and stuff like that." She huffed before the crowd roared and music began to pulse throughout the stadium, "Ohmygosh, ohmygosh, ohmygosh, ohmygosh! It's starting!"

What followed was an exciting hour and a half of high-flying aerial stunts, twists and turns, and pulse-pounding moves all set to some amazing music. The highlight however, was soon to happen as Dashie was eagerly walking with her friends to the private meet and greet for the VIPs; following her movements Ryan had to admit he thought she was Pinkie Pie for a moment.

"Well that's just silly Ryan! There's only one me after all! Unless I used that mirror lake thing!"

"...mirror lake? And how did you?" He shook his head, "Anyway I think it goes without saying Dashie is excited."

"Heh, darlin', she's more excited than Winona when she gets to herd a stampeding crowd of critters."

He and the others had to admit that, with the way Rainbow Dash's tail was swishing back and forth happily, she certainly seemed to be spot on for AppleJack's teasing statement.

"Oh! I'll have to make sure to get all their autographs! Oh gosh! Where's the new book I bought?"-she turned to see Ryan handing her the copy of 'I Fly High...and So Can You!'-"Thanks! Come on you guys!"

Spitfire looked at the small crowd assembled and smirked; she always enjoyed the fame of being a Wonderbolt even if she didn't always openly make it known. There was just something about those smiling faces that made all the training and such worthwhile. She finished up signing her current autograph before looking up and seeing a few stragglers finally enter in. While the six ponies weren't anything out of the ordinary (and in fact, the rainbow-haired one seemed rather familiar), her attention was drawn to the rather tall, winged, and very curious looking creature that was accompanying them. To say she was more than happy that he accompanied the rainbow one (Rainbow Dash! That was her name!), that he accompanied Rainbow Dash over to where they were signing autographs would be a slight understatement.

"You guys were amazing today! Ohmygosh, ohmygosh, ohmygosh!" Rainbow Dash fangirled as she handed Spitfire her book, "That one move you did with Soarin' was just....so awesome!"

"Hahaha, always happy to hear a fan's enjoyment Rainbow Dash."

"You...you remember my name?"

"Of course I do; hard to forget someone that pulled off a Sonic Rainboom and managed to pull Soarin's attention away from pie long enough to dance at the Gala." Spitfire smirked as she handed the book back to her, "Although..."-she looked Ryan's form over from top to bottom-"Who's your tall, dark, and mysterious friend here?"

"Huh? Oh this is Ryan! He's what you call a human!"-Rainbow Dash snickered-"I know he's tall, and I'm sure dark is right though not in the way you think, but he's not as mysterious as he looks."

"Heh, is that so?" Spitfire removed her glasses before winking at Ryan, "Do all humans have such lovely wings or are you the exception?"

'Oh my, it would appear that mojo of ours has snagged another one in our net~'

'Dammit Dark, not now!' He sighed mentally before smirking, "Well Spitfire, let's just say that when it comes to humans I'm certainly one of a kind."

"Mmmm, I'll say...especially after seeing those moves of yours earlier."

Ryan coughed softly, wondering just how she'd seen what he and Dashie had done earlier. He attempted talking but could only sputter nonsense replies and do his best to fight back a blush at her words; trying to look elsewhere (and ignoring Rainbow Dash's laughing at his awkwardness), he caught sight of two other members of the Wonderbolts talking with AppleJack. While that wasn't weird in and of itself, what unsettled him was the fact that they were giving him conflicting stares and not the kind he'd been used to since landing in this world: the male Pegasus gave him a hard glance while the female one seemed to be softly smiling at him. Needless to say it made him feel a bit odd and, after leaving Rainbow Dash to interact with her heroes, he found a seat and promptly sat down to collect himself.

"Hmmm...that's one problem with a land of ponies."

'Huh? What's that?'

"Simple Dark...chairs like these are never comfortable." He grumbled, before finally finding a manageable position, "...I wonder..."

"Wonder about what darling?"

Ryan turned to see Rarity and Twilight walking over after noticing he seemed a bit out of it; shaking his head and smiling he gave a shrug, "Well it's just that those two Pegasi over there."-he pointed to where AppleJack was still talking, noting the male Pegasus narrowing his eyes in his direction-"...eep. It's just that those two talking to Apps are giving me some funny looks."

"Didn't you say you'd expect looks though since this is your first time here?"

"I know Twilight but...the looks they're giving me are different somehow."

"How so?"

"Well...based on what I can read of their body language, I feel as if they both think I did something horrible but at the same time wonderful."-he sighed-"Does...does that make any kind of sense?"

"Uhm..."-Twilight tapped her hoof for a moment-"I think I get what you're trying to explain; basically they've hearing the same thing but having different reactions about it."

"Exactly. If I didn't know better, that look the stallion is giving me is...the same kind a father would give to a guy datin' his daughter."

Rarity couldn't help a giggle as she held a hoof to her face, "I assume that means you've had experience with that before dearie?"

"Heh...both as the target and a spectator." He joked, "I don't really get why they are but oh well. At least Dashie-kins is having plenty of fun."

"Yes, this was a great idea but...you know, AppleJack never did explain to any of us how she managed to get those tickets."-Twilight turned to see AppleJack still talking away, though it seemed she was about done-"Perhaps she knows those two Pegasi somehow and got tickets through them?"

Ryan simply shrugged, "However she did, I'm glad she could. This is probably the best birthday gift for a gal like Dashie. Oh..speaking of...I don't see Flutters and Pinks...are they..."he leaned in to whisper-"Off taking care of 'you know what'?"

"Of course darling; once you ran distraction with your stunning self they made their escape." Rarity laughed softly, "They'll be meeting us at the restaurant as soon as they finish."

"Perfect...it's all going accordin' to plan."

'You really shouldn't say things like that Ryan...especially with what I've learned about your world and what stays true in this one.'

"Oh come on...stop worrying; we've got this."

'...I think we all know where this is going now.'

"What in tarnation are ya talking about?"

And with perfect timing AppleJack came over with a big grin on her face, "Ah know y'all are talking but I need to borrow mah stallion; will ya follow me please Apple Ryder?"

'Dun, dun, duuuuuuuuuuun!'

"Can it Darky." Ryan rolled his eyes at his counterpart before standing up, "Sure thing Apps; whatcha need?"

"Well, I'd like ya to come meet somepony important...and they're rather interested in meeting ya as well."

"...okay." He followed her down the hallway and to a back room where, as he guessed, the two Pegasi from earlier were waiting, "...Apps, honey, what in tarnation is going on? I saw ya talking with these two and I can't say the looks they gave me were...clear."

AppleJack merely snickered before winking at Ryan, "Well, I just figured you'd want a little privacy when ya first met mah parents."

"Oh, yer parents. That makes so much..."-he paused, suddenly feeling a little light-headed-"....your parents? So then....oh. So then he kept glaring at me because...oh. Oh Celestia I was right."

"Haha, shoot Ry-Ry, there's no reasons to be so worried! I'd like ya to meet mah parents."-she pointed to the light grey stallion with a dark grey mane accented by blonde hair running through it in a speckled manner-"This here is my dad Star Dust."

"Sir." He politely offered, holding out his hand and watching as he took it for a hearty shake, "Heh, now I see where you get your shaking skills from hon."

Star Dust eyed Ryan oddly, leading him to gulp before AppleJack directed his attention to the light green mare with a brown mane that seemed to be sparkling, "And this is mah mother Apple Spark."

Ryan collected himself, taking Apple Spark's hoof in hand and kissing it lightly, "A pleasure to meet you ma'am. Heh, I can see now where Apps got her good looks."

"Oh my, such a charmer." Apple Spark chuckled softly before looking at her husband, "Now dear...no need to glare at the poor stallion like that."

Star Dust looked to his wife before looking Ryan over and smirking; without warning he tackled Ryan.

"Oh God!" He screamed before realizing he wasn't dead and, in fact, had only been hugged by her father, "Oh! Well..that's...that's a good thing....right?"

"Shoot! Of course it is! Do you know how worried I was when I first heard my daughter was dating some stallion that could fly and use magic?" Star Dust remarked as he continued his bear (pony?) hug, "Not that I'd be against it, but I thought you were going to be some immortal alicorn and not get to properly be with my little appleseed."

"Dad!"

"Hahaha."-he released Ryan from his hug-"I have to say though, I wasn't expecting a human of all things from what she'd been writing us."

"Hee, it certainly is a curious outcome isn't it dear?" Apple Spark giggled, "I am sorry that my husband startled you while we discussed how best to meet."-she nuzzled against Star Dust-"He's a sweet stallion but sometimes that look of his comes off as too intense."

"N-no problem." Ryan took a deep breath to collect himself, "I guess you wouldn't be too surprised knowing what I am; the Wonderbolts do get around so it's not unlikely you've heard about mah exploits. Although..."-he eyed AppleJack curiously-"What exactly has mah marefriend here been telling you two?"

"Oh, she's written about how kind and brave ya are...and how sweet and gentle you've been." Apple Spark sighed, smirking as her daughter tried to hide behind her hat, "She's written about your exploits but curiously enough."-she lifted AppleJack's hat off her face-"She left out the detail that you were a human."

"Ah...Ah was just worried ya know? Nopony else seems to mind or care but yer mah parents! I...I figured it'd be more proper if you found that fact out when ya first met him so ya...ya wouldn't get all these preconceived thoughts in yer head."

"...heh, I see my fancy talk is rubbin' off on ya Apps."

"Now's not the time fer jokes Ry-Ry."

"Nonsense!" Star Dust laughed loudly, "A sense of humor is something everypony should have. And mah little appleseed, you shouldn't be worried about telling us who's caught yer eye like this."-he nuzzled his daughter-"We only want you to be happy."

'Oooh, I see now. That makes sense then as to why...'

"Huh? Wha-what was that?" Apple Spark gasped, looking around for the voice she just heard, "Is...is somepony else here?"

'Oh...uh...oops, sorry.'

"No need to worry ma'am; that would just be the voice of a fallen hero that has taken residence in mah soul." Ryan explained, before sighing, "Ah know that sounds crazy but...."

"Oh, well if that's all it is then, okay."

"I know but...wait...what?"

AppleJack smirked, nuzzling her guy to ease his frazzled state, "Well, the Apples are Earth ponies...normally; wouldn't it make sense for us to be down-to-Earth and able to go with the flow?"

'She's got ya there partner.'

"...he even makes jokes too just like Ryan."-Star Dust stamped his hooves in approval before narrowing his eyes-"I just hope he makes sure to give you two privacy when you need it."

There was a noise that sounded as if Dark gulped before he spoke up, 'But of course sir! I would never dare spy on their private actions! I have plenty to occupy myself elsewhere when that happens sir! Sir!'

Ryan blinked, completely flabbergasted that someone had made Dark nervous like that, "...damn; I like yer pops already Apps. Hahahahaha."

So the group talked for a while, Ryan learning some interesting facts (such as how Pegasi could have Earth pony children...which only made him question how weird Pony genetics must be) and sharing some of his own with them as they enjoyed each other's company. Eventually they saw that the meet and greet was nearly up which meant they needed to go collect their friend and continue on with her birthday party.

Giving a slight bow, Ryan smiled at the two of them, "It's been quite a treat to get ta meet y'all; you've got a fine daughter."

"Well that's mah mother for you; she's done a grand job raising our kids."-Apple Spark hung her head-"I just wish we could visit them more often...but the nature of our job keeps us busy."

"Ah can imagine ma'am."

"Oh, young man, one thing." Star Dust gave Ryan a serious look.

"Yes sir?"

"Please keep our identity a secret; I know it probably makes it hard for my appleseed to not be able to talk about her parents but it's to keep her safe."-he gave a sad smile-"Even if we're mostly for showcasing talent, we are still part of the military..."

"...and that means you have enemies that would use stuff like that against you." Ryan winked, giving him a salute, "Understood sir."

"Excellent! Give our other children our regards if you would."

"Of course, I'll let mah little sis and brother know."

Apple Spark giggled, "Already calling Big Mac and AppleBloom family? I don't recall AppleJack writing about that."

"Well, ya know, they're just...good people and well, I see them as kin now with how things are."

Star Dust laughed at the blush on his face, "Just don't forget to tell us when y'all decide to get hitched alright?"

"...h-hitched?" AppleJack gasped before grabbing Ryan's belt with her teeth and tugging, "Come on Apple Ryder...time to go!"

He let out a laugh as he was dragged out the door and smirked at his parting words, "Don't worry ma and pa, I don't think you'll have to wait too long for that to happen. Later y'all!"

After they had left the room, Apple Spark leaned against her husband and sighed, "She found quite an interesting stallion didn't she?"

"Yeah...but I can tell from the way they look at each other, they're happy."-Star Dust grinned as he thought over Ryan's last words-"So ma and pa huh? I wonder what their kids will look like?"

"Why did ya have to go and say something so embarrassing to mah parents?"

"Hahaha, does the thought of marriage fluster ya mah sweet apple?"

"...no....it's just..." AppleJack shook her head, opening the door back to the meet-and-greet room, "I just..."

"Apps?"-he walked in, curious as to why she'd stopped talking-"...oh, that's why."

The room was still occupied with their friends, though something had obviously happened: Soarin' was unconscious by a pile of discarded pie tins, Rainbow Dash was standing on her hindlegs, her front pair clasped together as she shook them in victory, and Spitfire was face-hoofing while shaking her head.

"What...what in tarnation happened here?" He asked, walking over to the somewhat upset Spitfire.

"This crazy stallion thought to challenge Rainbow Dash to a pie-eating contest once it was just us alone."-she sighed-"Needless to say, he's now unconscious and stuffed. Ugh...and I have to carry him back to the barracks....unless, perhaps, a strong, handsome stranger could see fit to give me a....hand?"

'Oh God, she's flirting with you again.'

"Woooooo! I am the champ!"-Rainbow Dash let out a huge belch-"Awesome!"

Ryan analyzed the situation, took a moment to figure out the best course of action, and then enacted his plan, "Right! Well! We've places to go so we'll just get out of your mane! Bye Spitfire!"

"Hey what gives?!" Rainbow Dash gasped as Ryan grabbed her.

"T-Sparks, plan Delta Bowmega! Option Two!"

Twilight blinked for a moment before remembering what escape plan that was and then set it in motion, her horn glowing bright lavender before there was a bright flash and the room was empty save for Spitfire and a now semi-conscious Soarin'.

"So."-he coughed for a moment-"What did I miss?"

"Phew! That was a good escape!"

Ryan and the others were now back in their hotel room, mostly to drop off Rainbow's souvenirs before heading back out to dinner; as they walked along the streets, he could tell Dashie was just beaming at how well things went with the Wonderbolts and, well, her birthday in general.

"So you haven't told me where Pinkie and Fluttershy went off to."

Twilight quickly responded, "Oh it's, well they're just off making sure the reservations are right and all that."

Rainbow Dash eyed her oddly but shrugged as they walked on, "I guess...but some stuffy restaurant isn't my idea of fun."

'And who said anything about a stuffy restaurant my dear blue bomber?'

"...Dark's talking all weird again. What's he mean?"

"Haha, you'll see darling." Rarity remarked as they finally arrived at a destination that Rainbow Dash knew all too well.

"Hey! Pizza! Yesyesyesyesyes!"

"Well, when Fluttershy told us ya used to come here all the time back in high school, we figured a little nostalgia trip would do ya good."

"Ry-Ry's right...and what's better than making yer own pizza and stuff? It might not be country cooking, but dang if'n it ain't tasty!"

Rainbow Dash, realizing she might look too much the part of an excited little filly, dialed back her enthusiasm just a smidge, "I mean...that's awesome and cool."

Snickering at her way of trying to save herself, Ryan held the door open for the others before heading in himself...and then getting smacked in the face with a ball of dough. Slowly pulling the stretchy stuff off of his face, he looked up to see Pinkie Pie grinning at him way too innocently, "...I'm a fan of pizza as much as the next pony...but humans usually prefer their pizza to be cooked."-he glanced at the glob of dough that had some cheese and other things mixed in it-"And circular...and not looking like a Katamari of deliciousness."

"A whats-it-mary?" Pinkie hopped over and smirked, "I don't know what that is but it sounds tasty! Also, sorry about that Rysy-wysy; I was getting bored waiting for the party to start so they let me play around a bit."

"...as long as it was on my tab, right?" He smirked, glancing at the owner of the place who gave him a big grin, "I have that feeling again..."

'The one of impending doom?'

"...T-That you ate something undercooked?"

"That it's time to experiment?"

"That I'm awesome?"

"That it's pony time!?"

"That you'll be letting somepony design a fabulous outfit to match your wings?"

He glanced at Rarity oddly, "...you've already done that...many times."

"Oh you dear man, one can never have enough good ensembles."

Ryan facepalmed and shook his head, shuffling along with his friends to where the room they were celebrating in was. When they got inside, AppleJack hopped up and gave him a hug and kiss, "I reckon the feeling yer getting Ry is the same ya did at Pinkie's party."

He laughed knowingly, "Eeeeeyup. If that's true...then I guess we'll get to test out those spells I put in place."

Now Ryan knew that this was Dashie's day, her day to have fun and feel special that she had lived yet another year on this Earth sitting there and being orbited by the moon and sun.

'Ya know, that is a concept I find fascinating to be honest Ryan.'

'And what's that Dark?' He mused, laughing at Pinkie making a face with her pizza, 'About the sun and moon thing?'

'Yeah. It intrigues me that your Earth and the other planets orbited your sun...'

'Whereas thanks to Cellie and Lunes, the Earth stays still here while the sun and moon orbit around it....which is why the sun is always in the same spots at exactly the same time every day.'

'Exactly! Given what you've explained with your weather patterns versus ours, I bet that could be why the weather here is controllable while yours isn't.'

Ryan pondered over this statement and figured it might be worth running passed T-Sparks at some point but at the moment he barely heard a 'duck!' before getting hit in the face with tomato sauce, "...looks like our talk is gonna get put on hold Darky."

"Oh noes! This couldn't possibly be a good thing!" Pinkie smiled at Ryan, trying her best not to giggle in glee.

Ryan took a deep breath before cleaning off his glasses and face, "So...who's the wise guy?"

Everypony looked about and did nothing...and then the accusations began followed by finger pointing before it became a chaotic symphony of ponies, words, and...well you get the picture. Either way, the scene was something Discord would've loved but it was only to get better.

"Well then...seeing as you all just seem to love having fun like this..." Ryan cracked his knuckles and smirked at the girls, "Shall we...engage round 2?"

"Now Apple Ryder...I know yer a bit upset that, once again, ya got sneak attacked with food but...this isn't one of our homes and it rightly wouldn't do if ya made a mess."

"AppleJack is right...you don't want to cause a stir in Cloudsdale, correct?"

Ryan mulled over Apps and T-Sparks's words carefully, his smirk never leaving his face as he lifted up his wand and made a sweeping, arc motion with it. Satisfied his spell was in place, he levitated some cheese, a few vegetables (and something that looked strangely like pepperoni) in front of him before slicing them up, "I think that won't be an issue now...so order up! Who had one with The Works!?"

And just like that everypony scattered everywhere in the room, cheese and vegetables and all sorts of pizza ingredients flying every which way; there was no mercy (even for Ryan) as the seven of them escalated their attacks until finally, at the end, the group was a doughy, saucy, though strangely delicious looking, mess.

"Ohmygosh, ohmygosh, ohmygosh! That was awesome! But! When Pizza Mike sees this he's gonna never let me back!"

Ryan leaned over to pat Dashie on the head (and lick some pizza sauce off her cheek, an act which induced much blushing on her part) before winking, "Relax Dashie-kins...I said I had this under control! Ready Dark?"

'You bet!'

Lifting up his hands, he snapped his fingers on both of them and watched with amusement that the spell was actually working: the room was, for lack of a better explanation, quick rewinding and undoing all the mess they had made. Sure enough, even the mess they'd gotten on their persons had vanished and returned, leaving the room spotless and showing several personal pizzas all customized exactly to how the seven of them liked them.

"Was that...a time spell?"

Ryan shook his head as he looked at Twilight, "Nope...it's actually just a mid-level cleaning spell that I modified slightly ta have it read our minds and make a pizza with what we like at the end. Not very useful in combat but not a bad thing to know."-he glanced at his pizza curiously-"Or, well...come up with the closest equivalent in mah case it seems. You don't have some of the things I like because, you know, cows talk here so...I'm sure this pepperoni stand in will do fine."

At that point Pizza Mike burst through the doors, looking like he was ready to shout about something, but changed his mind when he saw everypony standing there normally, with nothing out of the ordinary; blinking he shook his head and sighed, "I must be hearing things...anyway, if your pies are ready let's get to cooking!"

After enjoying their pizza (Ryan had to admit, whatever that was tasted like pepperoni so that was good enough for him), they led Rainbow Dash through the now dark streets of Cloudsdale to their final party stop. She recognized the area they were going to, and sure enough she could see the flashy nightclub come into view.

"I never took you for one to go to a club Ryan."

He took her teasing in stride, laughing when she nudged his side, "Haha, well there's a certain pony playing here tonight so...when she heard it was your birthday she pretty much cute bullied me to bring ya by."-he huffed, putting on a look of mock annoyance-"You ponies and yer ability to be cuter than a puppy and kitty trying to get into the same tiny box."

"Oh my gosh, that would be so cute!" Fluttershy sighed, holding her cheeks and smiling dreamily, "We totally need to do that you guys."

"Flutters."-Ryan snapped his fingers-"Focus."

Laughing and giving him a sheepish grin, she joined her friends as they went to enter and found a little trouble with the bouncer; while he had no problem letting the ladies in, he was a bit stubborn on letting Ryan into the club.

"What gives dude? It's not because I'm human is it because..."

"Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! It ain't nothing like that! I'm no specist!" He quickly spat out, trying not to cause a scene, "Ya ain't got the looks is all."

"What?" Ryan scoffed, as did his friends, "Come on...I've got clothing from one of the most premier pony designers on, leather jackets are always in style, and I've got the most rocking pair of wings a human has ever had. How do I not have, as ya put it, the looks?"

The bouncer looked Ryan over, humming in thought before saying one thing, "What wings?"

"Are you blind, the ones that..."-he looked over his shoulder to see they were gone and deadpanned-"Gals, how long have mah wings been gone?"

"Oh, about the time you used that rewind spell."

'Of course! By aligning our abilities to use it, there must have been a side-effect that willed away the wings.'

"...right Dark, of course!" Ryan huffed, before striking a pose and snapping his fingers, "Okay then..."-he spread his wings wide-"How about now?"

The bouncer's shades fell off his face, and, as Dark was quick to note, a few mares in line swooned at his show of plumage; needless to say the bouncer simply nodded and allowed him entrance with the girls.

"Well, that was an unwanted hassle...odd though I didn't notice mah wings vanishing."

"Heh, I reckon ya were too caught up in fun with us sugah."

"Yeah! You were too busy being cool and saving me from a fate deprived of Pizza Mike's delicious pizzas!" Rainbow Dash remarked, hovering over and grabbing on to his arm, "So then...who is this friend that begged you to come here with us for my birthday?"

As they entered the dance floor (with AppleJack latched on to his other arm), Ryan simply motioned towards the DJ booth where the one, the only, DJ PON3 was rocking her decks something fierce and laying out the wubs-a-plenty!

"Woooo! I love wubs! They're so bouncy and fun!" And with that Pinkie was off on the dance-floor, having fun...or Pinkie Pie fun anyway.

Ryan winked at AppleJack before taking Rainbow Dash's hoof, "Would the birthday mare care to dance?"

"Well...I don't usually...but since it is my birthday."-she began dragging him out on to the floor-"And you did ask...it'd be super rude not to accept, right?"

"Quite." He replied, laughing as they grooved to the beats.

Rarity sauntered over to AppleJack and smiled, "You're being quite tolerant with letting your stallion be all buddy-buddy with Rainbow Dash darling."

"Well, ah reckon I get him all the time."-Apps looked over and saw Ryan twirling Rainbow Dash around-"And ah know she still likes him and all. It's her birthday so shoot, what's a little harmless happiness fer mah friend?"

"Heh and I thought I was the generous one." Rarity teased, giggling as AppleJack rolled her eyes, "Oh darling, relax. I'm just having some fun. I must say though...while Vinyl is quite a dear, her music is a little jagged for my tastes."

Twilight had meanwhile wandered off to watch Vinyl rock the decks; apparently she had quite a hidden interest in music and, though she wouldn't ever admit to it, she did like rocking out to dubstep when nopony else was around.

Fluttershy was a bit reluctant to get out and dance but Pinkie was quick to fix that, pulling her out with her and swinging her all around. All in all the group of friends was having a heck of a time in their own way while enjoying the pulse-pounding beats and flashing lights until there was a break in DJ PON3's setlist and everypony clapped (well Ryan clapped, the ponies did their hoof-stomp thing) in appreciation of the fine beats.

"Wooooo, thank you Cloudsdale! Don't go anywhere though, this next set will be wub-tastic!" Vinyl noted as she scanned the crowd and easily saw Ryan's tall figure standing out amongst those on the floor, "Ah! Ryan!"

Hearing his name, he turned from chatting with Apps and Dashie before locking eyes with Vinyl; seeing her enthusiastically waving at him he waved back before getting the feeling she wanted to talk. Nodding at AppleJack, he scooped up Rainbow Dash before walking over and hopping up on to the stage, "Hey Vinyl! Rocking setlist so far!"

"I know right! Can you believe Tavi had the nerve to say my playlist was not up to standards?"

"Haha, that sounds like her though. Perhaps you should remix some classical music and see what she thinks?"

"That's a great idea! How about..."

Rainbow Dash pressed on Ryan's chest with her hooves and moaned, "...can ya put me down?"

"Oh right! Sorry Dashie!" Ryan sheepishly grinned as he set his friend down, "Sorry, but it's easier for me to do that then drag y'all when I need ya to move."

"That's okay. So you invited us here huh?"

"You bet! Why not when it's your birthday?"

"I see."-Rainbow narrowed her eyes-"No ulterior motives?"

"No, no, no..."-Vinyl bit her bottom lip-"Okay, maybe one..."

"Are you ponies ready to rock?!"

The crowd cheered in response, though AppleJack and the others had to wonder just why Ryan and Rainbow Dash were on stage with her.

"Ah reckon Vinyl had a reason she wanted us here." AppleJack smirked, "I betcha this is gonna be mighty entertaining."

"I want all of ya to put your hoove up for Rainbow Dash who's celebrating her birthday today!"

Rainbow Dash simply blushed when the spotlight focused on her before waving to the crowd.

"Woooooo Dashie!" Pinkie cheered from somewhere up above.

'Is...is she hanging from the rafters?'

"You don't question Pinks Darky." Ryan laughed softly before getting blinded by the spotlight, "What the hay?"-he pulled on his shades-"What's the big idea Vinyl?"

"Sorry, but gotta introduce ya too if yer gonna be part of this!" Vinyl Scratch chuckled before shouting, "Yeah! And I think most ponies know this guy! He's only the most amazing human in all Equestria."

"Erm...I'm the only human in Equestria Vinyl." Ryan replied, smirking as the crowd laughed.

"Details! Yer still the most amazing one despite that! Now then, I think you all know a very popular song he helped me make...and well, as a special treat for Rainbow's birthday, I've managed to get him to do a rare live version for everypony! Wub-wub motherbuckers!"

'Are you sure about this Ryan?'

Ryan smirked, expanding his wings to the crowd's cheers as he grabbed the microphone, "And disappoint our fans? Never."

With that a familiar, though more wubbed out version, of what he lovingly called Shades of Friendship began to kick up as Rainbow Dash helped Vinyl rock the turntables.

'Remind me to ask her when she learned to do that.' Dark mused as Rainbow rocked the decks as well, 'Damn can she rock a beat!'

"My Little Pony...." Ryan began, hearing the crowd go nuts as he held the microphone out to them.

"My Little Pony...." He heard them reply, pleased they caught on quickly with his plan.

"Ah, ah, ah, ah, ahhhhhhhhhhhh! I used to wonder what friendship could beeeeeee!"

"Mah Little Pony, Mah Little Pony!"

"Until you all shared it's..."-he paused as Vinyl dropped the beat-"magic wi-ith me!"

"Big Adventure!" "Tons of Fun!" "A beautiful Heart!" "Faithful and Strong!"

"Sharing magic it's an easy feat, and Magic makes it all, all, all, all, all..."-he repeated as the two mares scratched the decks, "Comple-e-ete!"

"My Little Pony!" "Mah Little Pony!"

"Don't you know you are my, my, my very best friends? My Little Pony!"

"My Little Pony, don't you know you are my very beeeeeeeeest friends?"

"Now drop it! Wub-wub-wub-wub!"

"Hoowee, he sure is having fun up there isn't he?" AppleJack laughed, stomping along to the beat as Ryan rocked out during the extended drop fest Vinyl had added to this live version, "Hahaha, I ain't ever seen him worked up like this before."

"He certainly knows how to get a crowd going darling."-Rarity giggled at a particularly silly move he did-"I'm rather impressed he's doing this so easily; given how shy he acts makes this even more amusing."

"Oh, well...Ryan's just like that; he might be shy with us and others but he really does like having fun with everypony when he can. Plus...well, I think he likes being silly too."

"That's totally right Fluttershy!" Pinkie sprung out from behind her wearing all sorts of glow sticks, "This is such an awesome remix! Yeah!"

"...where did you get those?" Twilight mused, looking at Pinkie before looking back up to the stage where Ryan was doing the most unusual dance moves, "...what style is that?"

"Duh! It's Para-Para!"-Pinkie hopped up on her hindlegs and copied his moves-"He told me all about this dance style one day; it used to be popular in some foreign country from his world and he played the game based on it all the time! Wheee! This is fun!"

Giving his wings a flap and doing a stylized flip, Ryan pulled the microphone back out and picked up the singing but in mid-air this time.

"My Little Pony, Friendship is our way!"

"My Little Pony, yeah Mah Little Pony!"

"That's all it takes for us to save the daaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!" He smirked, using his free hand to mimic the turntable stretching Vinyl was doing.

"Mah Little Pony, yeah My Little Pony!"

"Honest and Loyalty!" "Laughter and Generosity!"

"Kindness and Magic make the Harmony that puts an end to villainy-yyyyyyyyyyyyyy!"

"My Little Pony!" "My Little Pony!"

"Don't you know you are my very best, very best, very best, very best, very best, very best,"-he began sliding all about in the air before landing back on stage-"YEAH! My Little Pony! Mah Little Pony!"

"We will always be friends to the end!"

"My Little Pony! My Little Pony! There is nothing our love cannot defend!"

Sensing the big ending coming, Ryan snapped his fingers as the three components of Malus Domestica he had set up on stage glowed brightly and blossomed forth it's huge, brightly lit apple tree behind Vinyl and Dashie.

"Friendship! GO!" He shouted, before whispering one more thing, "Scatter!"

As the two mares behind him wound down the song's extended outro, the apple tree exploded into a million points of magical energy that drifted and snowed down upon the crowd like twinkling stars; catching his breath Ryan couldn't help smirk at just how damn fun that had been before the song finally ended. Putting the microphone back on its stand, he took a bow before smiling sheepishly at the crowd, "Well, I certainly had fun with that; how's about everypony else?"

Well if the roaring cheers and adulation they'd received in reply was anything to go by, it was safe to assume that the crowd had as much fun with that as he, Vinyl, and Rainbow Dash did; once the set was over and the next DJ had taken over, Vinyl had joined the others as they sat around having various drinks to relax.

"Here ya go Apple Ryder, I figured after all that jawing ya did up on stage you'd have a heckuva thirst."

Eyeing the cold glass of cider happily, Ryan easily chugged it before sighing, "Hmmm...not too bad but it doesn't have that same kick as our Apple family brand."

"...dude, you just knocked that back like it was nothing!"

Twilight snickered, her cheeks showing she was already a bit tipsy, "Well Vinyl, he is a human and that mug is scaled for ponies so it's not like he drank that much."

"T-Sparks, how much have you had already?"

"Just the one Ryan...why?"

"Well, I mean, I've had the same amount as you then but yer already tipsy."

"Of course it won't affect you as fast darling, you are much bigger than we are after all."-Rarity winked at Ryan-"And from what my measurements show, that encompasses all parts of you."

Ryan coughed, nearly choking on his second mug while Rarity simply giggled and took another sip from her fancy-looking drink, "Rares!"

"Haha, oh you dear man, no need to be so bashful about your attributes after all."

'I think somepony's having a bit of fun thanks to the alcohol.'

"Hmph! Such accusations from Dark of all people, I am not becoming inhibited; I am merely stating the truth about such a handsome stallion."-Rarity stuck her tongue out at him-"I am his fashion designer after all, it only makes sense I know the dimensions of his body so that his clothing looks spectacular on him...glorious even."

Vinyl pounded the table and let out a loud laugh, "You guys crack me up...though it's still weird hearing that Darkness Shade guy like that."

'Oh my dear DJ PON3, you have no idea. Hahaha.'

"Sheesh, must you flirt with everypony we meet Dark?" Ryan sighed, finishing his second mug but not even feeling a tingle, "This cider is weak compared to Apps's stuff...I actually find mahself wanting some Zap-Apple cider."

"Heh, you want to party huh?" Vinyl remarked, pulling off her shades, "I think I can hook us up with something awesome if ya want."

"Whoawhoawhoawhoawhoa! Hey now! We don't want to get wrapped up in anything illegal here..."

"Relax Ryan! There's just a special drink they make here in Cloudsdale that is fantastic...I'm not sure how it'll impact a human though, but I bet you'll find it quite fun!"

"I don't know...."

'Oh come on Ryan, it's not like we do this all the time: what's wrong with having a little fun with our friends?'

"Well....I suppose as long as we're mature about it...how bad could it be?"

"Alright you crazy mares (and man), this is the infamous Spectrum shots."

The group looked at the small glasses that had been brought over after Vinyl had had a little chat with the bartender and one thing jumped right out in Ryan's mind: it was glowing like a rainbow which made him feel a little hesitant.

"So...Vinyl?"-he lightly tapped one glass and watched the bright brew ripple-"Is this...is this made with rainbow juice or something?"

"Oh yeah, totally; that's why it's so hard to get a hold of right now. I don't really get the specifics but there's some crazy stuff going on at that weather factory here."

"Oh yes, we had a slight run in when we first arrived where they thought Ryan was the one causing trouble." Twilight explained, a little more coherent but still looking all the part tipsy, "I can't say I've ever heard of a beverage that uses rainbows."

'I have...but that was nearly a thousand years ago.'

"Really Dark? And here I thought Spectrum was something new."

'Well PON3, it went by a different name back then and for all I know is a completely different drink but it was something the humans came up with after first observing the properties of liquid rainbows. Oh boy, they were pretty crazy, the group that came up with that idea.'

"If ah didn't know better, it sounds like ya had a few rodeos with that one."

'Ah...yes...well...let's just say there was this one time with Tia and Woona and...ahem!'-Dark made a coughing sound-'Anyway, you should be fine drinking this Ryan; rainbow juice doesn't exactly affect humans too badly.'

"Well that's..."-he paused-"What do you mean by "too" badly?"

'You'll see...bottoms up ladies!'

Seeing his friends hesitantly lift their shot glasses, he did the same and tried to ignore Dark's words as he clinked glasses with them; they all looked at one another before simultaneously downing it. Setting the glasses down, they all looked at one another and didn't seem to feel any kind of odd effects until...

"My mouth is on fire!" Ryan practically roared, panting and twitching, "Sweet Celestia and Luna!"

'Yep! Rainbows are still just as spicy as I remember!'

"You asshole! You couldn't..."-he paused, smacking his lips-"Actually, after that first burst it's rather tasty...I can't put mah finger on it though, the taste I mean."

"Tarnation! That's got more kick than Big Mac when he's cranky!"

"Ooooooooh yeah! That is what I'm talking about!" Vinyl laughed, though it was apparent she was now appropriately inebriated, "Woooooooo!"

"Oh my dearies...I suddenly feel so very warm."-Rarity slumped against her chair and fanned herself-"Dreadfully warm!"

"Uhm Dashie? You okay?"

"....Iiiiiiiii'm more than okay Ryan! I am"-she leaned over and whispered in his ear-"Awesome..."

'Heh, I must say, these reactions are about as amusing as Tia and Woona's the last time I kissed the rainbow.'

"Mmmm, kiss this Rainbow Darky!"

Ryan jumped in his seat at Dashie's bold move, blinking as he tried to push his intoxicated friend off and managing to do so, "....well...that was...not expected. I'm gonna wager it hits ponies harder than a human...or at least faster than it does a human....both maybe?"

"That would be the science!" Twilight giggled drunkenly, before leaning over the table and staring at Ryan, "So...did she taste like those Skittles candies of yours you always compared her to?"

"Wha-what---"-he sputtered, turning to look at Apps who seemed a little upset-"Apps?"

AppleJack lifted a hoof up and smacked the table before narrowing her eyes, "Dashie..."

"O-oh deeeeear." Fluttershy felt faint at the apparent impending doom before actually fainting right then and there.

"AJ I'm...it's...I didn't mean to..."

"If'n yer gonna do that, you'd best share."

"I...wait...what?"-she was cut off as AppleJack kissed her, "I...what?"

'My goodness...seems this night might end just like that one did after all.'

"Don't give them ideas...no matter how pleasing they might sound." Ryan sighed, shaking his head, "Needless to say, I think it's effected me so much even you're drunk Dark."

'I AM NOT!'

"Yeah...you are...and further m-"-he gasped as Pinkie popped from above, somehow, and smooched him too-"Pinks?! What the hell?!"

"Oopsie-doopsie! I just saw an opening and figured if everypony was gonna make a move on you, I'd join in the fun!" Pinkie explained, staring at Ryan from her upside down position, "At least now I can see why AppleJack enjoys it so much. You're a good kisser!"

He tried to counter her, to come up with something intelligent to defuse the situation, but with Dark laughing like a ecchi bastard in his mind and the alcohol now affecting his thoughts he could do naught but flap his mouth open and closed like a fish.

"Hee-hee! You're so funny Rysy-Wysy!" And like that Pinkie popped out of sight, although Ryan had a suspicion she was making mischief with her portable hole.

"Now this is how you party!"

"Vinyl..."

"Yes Ryan?"-she batted her cerise eyes at him-"Something on your mind big guy?"

"I...uh....that is..."-he pouted-"That's not fair doing that to me...stop being so cute."

"Heh, no way mister tough human, it's too much fun flustering you although..."-she glanced at the group and how half of them were now passed out-"I may have made things a bit hard on you..."

Ryan heaved a sigh and smiled, "Don't worry Vinyl; it should be easy enough to carry them back to the hotel...if I can get Apps to help me..."

'I think she already is by keeping Rainbow Dash occupied.'

"...she's simply passed out on top of her."-he sighed, shaking his head-"Stop making it sound worse than it is!"

Realizing that he had a long walk with his friends back to the hotel he bid Vinyl Scratch a good night before lifting Rarity and Twilight on his shoulders, using his magic to levitate Fluttershy. Waiting for AppleJack to get a steady footing with Rainbow Dash on her back, the two of them were followed by a wobbly hopping Pinkie Pie as they walked down the quiet, nighttime streets of Cloudsdale.

"Ya know, it's times like this I'm thankful mah training and stuff has given me a boost in strength...otherwise carrying two full-grown mares would be a might harder than it already is." Ryan huffed, "That and magic...thank Cellie for magic."

"Ya sure yer okay Apple Ryder?"-AppleJack focused intently to keep her footing-"I mean, I've drank some tough stuff before so it's no big deal to me...but that stuff was stronger than any Zap-Apple cider I've ever made."

"I'll be fine...I just have to not let Dark's thoughts sway mah own..."

"Oooooh! What thoughts? I bet he's having some super sexy thoughts huh?"

"Pinkie!" Ryan gasped, nearly dropping his friends, "Why is it you go right to that?"

"Hee, it's just the magic of friendship and alcohol combining into one beautiful happiness!"

"...yer a weird drunk Pinks."

"Thanks!"

'She has a point though...mah thoughts are pretty relaxing.'

"No! Stop! I won't think about their...soft fur on mah cheeks...their warm bellies resting on mah shoulders...how cute their drunk little faces are as they sleep..."

"...Ry-Ry...I hate to say it but ah think yer totally thinking about it."

Ryan sighed as they reached the hotel and hung his head, "Oh God Apps...ahm awful aren't I?"

Sensing his distress, Apps sauntered over and nuzzled his side as best she could, "Naw, ya aren't awful at all. Frankly, ya control yerself rather well given the fact that we all do a lot of teasing of that nature with one another."-she smirked-"Let alone all the group cuddlin' we find ourselves doing. So you ain't anything of the sort, you've been the very image of a gentlecolt."

He glanced down at her as they rode the elevator up, "Ya mean that hon?"

"Shoot, am I not the Element of Honesty?"

"Point taken."

"...now as for that other half of yers..."

'HEY!'

After fiddling with and kicking open the door to their room, Ryan felt his energy fading having carried his friends all that way; stumbling over to the couch, he sat Rarity and Twilight on it before floating Fluttershy over and doing the same. That taken care of, he helped AppleJack set Rainbow on the loveseat and then slowly limped to bed with her, "They'll be okay there, right?"

AppleJack sleepily nodded as she curled up next to him, "Sure as sugar...mmmm...heh, I don't think Rainbow Dash will forget this birthday."

"Heh, I'd bet on it."-he slipped an arm around her and held her close-"I'm dreading the hangovers we'll have in the morning...but oh well, it was worth it to make some fun memories. Here's just hoping tomorrow morning won't be all awkward."

"...Nah."-AppleJack yawned loudly-"We're...mature adults...close friends...it'll be...."

Noting she fell asleep before even finishing her thoughts, he smiled before kissing the top of her head and closing his eyes, "Well...I just worry too much ah guess...haha."

"I'll say!"

Ryan didn't need to open his eyes to know who that was, "Pinks...I...you know what...I'm too buzzed and tired to deal with this...just...do what ya want and get some sleep."

"Okie-dokie-Ryan-pokie." She remarked, nestling up next to Applejack and resting her head above Ryan's, "Good night my friends."

And with that peace settled over the hotel room as everypony got some well needed rest.

Author's Note:

What is it with me and making birthday parties just crazy-pants? XD Hopefully that whole bit with the concert made sense the way I put the inflection; I had a heckuva a time trying to figure out the best way to type it but feel pretty satisfied with how it all turned out. Anyway, I hope y'all enjoyed the silliness in this chapter as well; I'll be starting on the next chapter tomorrow with any luck. Now that the story is heading fully into the holiday season, boy do I have plans. Here's hoping they get pulled off as well as I'm picturing it in mah mind. Hahaha, thanks fer reading!

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