• Published 25th Aug 2013
  • 10,110 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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14th Harvest

'Ugh...what a weird dream. Pretty awesome though...gives me an amazing idea fer a game...as well as some killer new move ideas.' Ryan thought to himself, groaning softly as he woke up though he'd yet to open his eyes, 'Oh man...still so sleepy; that Spectrum stuff had a hell of a kick to it.'

As he lay there, he couldn't help but note how warm and comfortable he felt and chalked it up to the cloud bed he was currently on; he sighed a bit as he felt what had to be Apps softly kissing his bare chest.

'Bare...did I take off mah shirt last night? Ugh...I can't really remember much after getting mah friends back to the room.' Ryan sighed, figuring it didn't matter since the kisses did feel rather nice.

It wasn't until he heard the voice of the one kissing him that he finally cracked open his eyes, freezing up at what his still groggy mind saw: apparently, sometime throughout the night, everypony had seen fit to make a cuddle puddle around him. AppleJack and Pinkie were where they had been, but his left side was now flanked by Twilight (if the purple he saw out of the corner of his eye was anything to go by) and Rainbow Dash who had stopped kissing and was happily nuzzling him in her sleep. Though his glasses weren't currently on, he could see white and yellow further down the bed which solidified his thoughts as to where Rarity and Fluttershy were at.

'....argh...hmmm...' Dark grumbled, having awoken now that Ryan was up as well, '...that dream was something else huh Ryan? Ryan?'

'Nice to see yer awake...but...we seem to be in another one of them situations.'

'What situation? All I see is a relaxing sight. Can you honestly tell me you wish to move from here?'

'...I...that is...I mean...' Try as he might, and as much as he hated to admit such, Dark was right. He was comfy, he was warm, and, well, having all his friends so close seemed to always put his mind at ease the most; suddenly aware of his headache, and silently thanking he'd planned an extra day in case something like this might happen, he scratched Dashie's ears before closing his eyes and just enjoying the moment.

It was a few hours later when he was being awoken by insistent nudging; cracking open his eye he could see Apps shyly smiling at him, "Well good morning...or is it afternoon? Either way howdy there mah sweet apple."

"Ahm guessin' things got a little crazy last night, huh?" She motioned towards their current situation.

"Ya don't remember?"

"No, ah do; after all that cider alcohol doesn't affect me that much Ry. I just...when did everypony else join us?"

"Haha, I imagine the same time I lost mah shirt, though Pinks was with us originally. I'm surprised nopony else has woken up yet..."-he glanced about, magically floating his glasses over so he could see-"Hmmm...seems they've shifted a little; Rares and Flutters are pretty much on top of mah lower half now. At least that explains why I felt warmer."

"Yer taking this pretty darn well Apple Ryder; I half expected ya to be yer flustered self."

He laughed softly at her teasing, "Well, if it was me when I first got here, yeah but after all this time with y'all? Being close like this seems natural."

'Not to mention a stallion would have to be crazy to not want to have such relaxing contact with such pretty mares.'

"...ah think it's safe to say he's happy." Ryan snickered along with AppleJack until they heard some groaning, "Ah, the sleeping beauties awaken."

"Who could sleep darling with all that talking you're doing?" Rarity sighed, nuzzling Ryan's thigh, "Wait...how did...where are we?"

"You're currently nuzzling mah thigh Rares...not that I mind much, yer pretty warm." He smirked, enjoying teasing her, "I reckon ya'll felt lonely in the living room."

"....pretty much." Rainbow Dash groaned, trying to bury her head under Ryan's hand, "My head hurts so much."

'Heh, well it would seem not everypony can kiss the rainbow and rebound as well as us, eh Ryan?'

Rainbow Dash's eyes narrowed as she recalled what she'd done after downing that shot before trying to worm into the bed to hide, "Oh man...I'm so embarrassed...and I'm sure AJ is just super mad at me."

"Ah wouldn't say that." AppleJack teased, reaching over and patting Rainbow's mane, "I like to think we just had a bit too much fun is all."

"Ugh...whatever it is I need something to eat so bad." Twilight groaned, rolling about before her head ended up laying over Ryan's.

"Uh...T-Sparks?"

Hearing only a grumble from her in reply, he smirked and reached up to tickle her belly; she giggled a bit before groaning again and rolling off of him. After that it was a slow but sure process as they all got out of bed to grab something to eat...save for poor Rarity who, as soon as she stood up, made a dash for the bathroom. Seeing as the others were in no state to help, Ryan made his way to the bathroom in time to help hold her mane back as she was face-first in the toilet bowl.

"....ooooh, such a gentleman." Rarity groaned, "This is why I don't drink...especially not crazy rainbow concoctions."

"Trust me Rares, mah stomach isn't doing much better either." He joked, getting her to smile slightly, "And I'm pretty sure rainbow juice is off mah list for a while too after last night. Haha."

"I'm still pretty though, aren't I darling?"-she blinked before going face-first in the bowl again-"....ugh."

"Haha, of course you are Rares; a very pretty mare at that. Any stallion would be lucky to have ya as his own."

"Ugh...flatterer." She remarked, smirking none-the-less, "I think something light is needed..."

"Indeed." Floating over a washcloth, he wet it and wiped her face for her, "Come on, let's get some breakfast in us. Perhaps some toast?"

After finding his shirt, noting it was covered in hoof-prints, and then grabbing a different shirt to put on, Ryan set about getting some light breakfast made for his friends: nothing too fancy, just some toast and scrambled eggs with some tea. Noting their moods had improved slightly with just some food, he set about enjoying his breakfast as well rather pleased that nopony seemed too awkward or hung up over last night's antics.

'Eh, perhaps what happens in Cloudsdale, stays in Cloudsdale.'

'I doubt that Dark, this isn't Las Pegasus by any stretch.' He laughed softly while sipping his tea.

"So Ryan, that birthday...it was totally awesome and fun and stuff." Rainbow Dash nuzzled up against him, "...even the part where we got hammered and did some embarrassing stuff."

"Haha, yer welcome Dashie; I can't take all the credit though, everypony here did their part to make it work."

"Ya know...maybe we should go give Ryan a tour of the Weather Factory seein' as we're here and all."

"I'm not sure that's a good idea gals."

"Why not?"

"If I may." Twilight interjected, looking up from her paper, "I believe Ryan is worried that things are too tense for his presence there given the altercation we had yesterday morning when we arrived here."

"T-Sparks nails it as always."-Ryan winked in her direction-"As much as I truly wish to see a factory that controls the freaking weather, my showing up there would cause more harm than necessary. Perhaps once all that weird business is cleared up and there wouldn't be any odd accusations thrown mah way we can come back but it's probably for the best we avoid it at the moment."

Twilight blushed at the praise before 'hmming' loudly after turning the page; floating the page over to the others they could see why she had made such a noise. The article showed a picture from the weather factory's snowflake room where half the containers were puddles of water; apparently, according to the details, the mysterious culprit had hit the weather factory sometime last night and sabotaged the refrigeration.

"Just further proof to avoid that place like the plague." Ryan huffed, "Although...I have to wonder who this ass is that keeps attacking there; it makes no sense to me. Yeah you're disrupting the weather, but why do something that would cause trouble for everypony including the culprit?"

The others shrugged at his question, the answer escaping them; even Twilight could only deduce that perhaps whoever was attacking had some type of vendetta against it.

"These reports are the same from what the officers told us."-she tapped at the page-"Tall, wings, pointy teeth, and strong enough to break things down."

Rainbow Dash groaned, burying her head in her hooves, "I don't really care about that to be honest, I just wish my head would stop hurting."

Seeing as everypony still felt under the weather, they all decided to just chill in the room for the most part; they did feel well enough, however, to accept a dinner invitation from Vinyl Scratch who felt pretty bad that the girls had all suffered pretty big backlash from their partying.

They were quick to remind her they had gone along with it of their own choice so it was alright; afterwards they retired early and caught up on their sleep. Early the next morning, they had checked out and were on their way home without any issue.

"Hyah!"

"Kyah!"

Ryan and Spike growled as they dashed at each other, the smaller of the two pulling more than his fair of fast moves to avoid Ryan's attacks; catching him off-guard he shot out two blasts of fire in his direction. Quickly spinning, Ryan batted the first away with his wings before side-stepping the other...and then widening his eyes when it pulled a u-turn and began chasing him.

"Hahaha! You finally got the homing shot down! Brilliant!" He smirked at his pupil's success before pulling out his sword and slashing the fireball in half, "...I've really gotta ask the Doctor just what kind of metal this is that it can flippin' cut fire in half!"

"Don't stop yet!"

Turning to face his student, he saw him charging yet again; with a smirk on his face, Ryan deftly dodged before whapping him on the head with the flat of his sword.

"Ow!" Spike grumbled, "That hurt! Although I imagine if you were serious it could've been worse."

"Exactly." He sighed, sheathing his sword and snapping his fingers, "Well then, I must say I'm quite impressed at yer progress little buddy."

"That makes two of us Ryan." Spike nodded energetically as he collected himself, "It's only been a few weeks but I'm already feeling less useless."

"Spike."-Ryan narrowed his eyes at him-"What have I told you about saying that? None of mah friends are useless."

"Okay, okay..." Spike laughed as Ryan tossed him some juice and took a seat next to him on the ground, "I know; just...that whole fight with Discord is still on mah mind sometimes."

"Tell me about it..."-he took a sip of his drink-"We were quite fortunate to do as well as we did."

"Oh yeah, you never did tell me how Rainbow Dash's birthday went."

"T-Sparks wouldn't tell you?"

Spike shook his head, "Not really...every time I ask she blushes and then suddenly has something to do."

'Heh, sounds like she's still a little shy about the nightclub incident.'

"What nightclub incident?"

Patting Spike's head, Ryan merely grinned, "When yer older I'll tell ya; suffice to say she thoroughly enjoyed her birthday party. I'm just glad it'll be quiet for a little while now; nothing against the holiday season but it's always so busy."

Having finished his juice, Spike took the moment to rummage through Ryan's bag to pull out a rather brilliant looking sapphire; holding it up to ask permission he grinned at Ryan's nod before happily munching on it, "Mmmm, but what do you mean?"-he took another bite-"It's not that busy...not till nearer to Hearth's Warming Eve anyway."

"Oh yeah! That's right."-Ryan chuckled-"Y'all don't have Thanksgiving or Black Friday ta deal with, do ya?"

"Are those human holidays?"

"Thanksgiving is...the country I lived in celebrated it. We mostly celebrated by being with family, having a turkey and, well, lots of food in general...it was basically the point most people knew Christmas was coming."-Ryan stretched, wincing as his back cracked-"It was sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas so those three months were quite heavy on the holiday blitz."

"Hmmm...those are the human versions of Nightmare Night and Hearth's Warming Eve right?"

"Eyup!"

Spike finished up the sapphire, licking his lips before glancing at the bag again; Ryan laughed, reaching over and digging through his bag again before he pulled out a smaller amethyst. Patting him on the head, he handed it to him with one condition, "No more; I can't spoil mah little brother too much after all."

"Aw, okay." Spike accepted the conditions before biting into it, "Mmmm, tangy!"

'Hahahaha, yer something else Spike; I sometimes forget you're a dragon until you go spewing flames at us.'

"I know...that used to bother me but I found out it's best to be what you are and, well."-he smiled-"I'm happy here being me. So then, what is Black Friday? It sounds kind of evil..."

"It is both the best and worst day ever to go shopping; humans would line up for hours at ungodly hours just to save money on that year's biggest items...and to get Christmas gifts early without spending too much money."

Watching Ryan's grand hand movements caused Spike to laugh, "That's crazy! So I suppose I should ask then...did you ever take part in it?"

To this Ryan let out a toothy grin and nodded, "Oh yes; I've had many a crazy Black Friday experience...but it was always fun. Some years it was with mah father..."

'...Ryan?'

Spike regarded his friend oddly, noticing his face faltered for a moment before he shook it off. One thing he knew Ryan always did his best to hide was how much hurt he truly felt knowing he'd never see or talk with his family ever again; in all honesty he didn't know how he did it seeing as it clearly was killing him inside.

"...mah father when I was younger; later on I went with friends. It was fun...we got some deals, had some laughs, ate some good food, listened to awesome music, told a lot of tales, and drove around at 3am in the morning getting a mighty haul."-he stared off into the distance, his eyes glazing over slightly-"Even after mah friends abandoned me, I still went out by mahself to get some deals and...and to try and recapture a little bit of that magic I felt when I was younger."

"Ryan..."

Ryan smiled when he felt Spike do his best to hug him, as it was he easily encircled the young dragon with his arm and hugged him close, "Thanks little bro...I try not to let those thoughts bother me but every so often something will drag them out. I'm just glad I have family here to lean on when that happens. Now come on...it's too cold to sit out here for this long and I think Dashie mentioned a snow storm today in about..."-it was then that the two saw snow starting to fall-"...now. Well then...I guess we sat here longer than I thought. Hold on tight little buddy."

Holding on to Spike, Ryan grabbed a hold of his bag before focusing and poofing into the library where Twilight jumped at their sudden appearance.

"Sorry T-Sparks! It's just the storm was starting and I didn't want little bro to get sick."-placing Spike down and patting his head, he tossed him an apple shaped ruby before waving-"Later y'all!"

Before Twilight could yell at him, and with another loud poof, Ryan landed just outside the farmhouse, scaring the beejeezus out of poor Granny Smith who'd been rocking on the recliner and enjoying the peaceful view, "Ugh...now I see why T-Sparks limits that herself; it takes a lot of concentration..."

"Dangnabbit sonny! Yer magic is gonna kill me one of these days!" Granny shouted, shaking her fist from her rocking chair.

"Sorry Granny; I misjudged the time and didn't want to get caught in the snowstorm." Ryan hastily apologized, walking up and giving her a hug, "It's good to be home though."

"Haha, yer always such a smooth talker."-she hugged him back-"I've got dinner cooking, something nice and warm for what'll be a cold night; yer favorite too if I rightly recall."

Ryan smirked, "Yer famous Apple Stew?"

"I did say yer favorite sonny, try to pay attention."

Laughing warmly at her teasing he helped Granny up and into the house as the storm began to really get going, the wind howling loudly as the storm raged on...

November was over in a flash, and soon December was upon the land of Equestria; this fact was easily noticeable by Ryan as he walked through Ponyville towards Rarity's Boutique. The market was decorated for the season, lights and giant figures placed up here and there accented by the tinsel twirled around every light post and entryway. All in all, it reminded him of a few memories from his youth, particularly ones about a certain theme park and it's over abundance of decorations; he paused a moment to reflect on that and wondered if his family would be gearing up for that right now. He took a deep breath to calm his mind and smiled, pushing those thoughts away as he continued on towards his goal. Along the way he waved to those he met, even slipping up and wishing them a 'Merry Christmas' before laughing at their confusion before hearing replies of 'Happy Hearth's Warming'. Realizing he'd have to make a better effort to correct his vernacular further, he finally came upon Rarity's Boutique and knocked on the door before walking in, "Rares? Where ya at?"

"In here darling; I'm having a bit of tea? Care to join me?"

Heading into her kitchen, he could see her sitting peacefully, a scarf wrapped around her neck elegantly, "Certainly."

Pouring himself a cup, he took a seat opposite of her before taking a sip and smiling.

"Does that goofy smile mean you approve dearie?"

"Haha, indeed." He sat his cup down before smirking, "So I'm here for a little advice...see, I have this question and I believe you are the pony to ask."

"Oh my...this wouldn't have anything to do with your special somepony would it?"

Ryan blushed, though he didn't know why, and simply nodded.

"Ah ha! I could see it a mile away you dear man but no need to be so shy, I'm more than happy to help you with anything you might need."-she took his hand in her hooves-"So then, what does my favorite human need help with? Could it possibly be....?"

"No, no...not yet anyway."-he chuckled at the look in her eyes-"You know I want to...but I think it's still too soon."

"Such a proper gentleman, wanting to wait until the timing is right. AppleJack is a lucky mare; so then I assume if it's not that it's a gift for Hearth's Warming Eve then?"

Ryan nodded, "Yes; I dare say I've been wracking mah brain for a few days now and I can't think of something to get her. You and the others are a little easier but...mah Apps is a bit harder to shop for."

"Tut tut! Do not fret Ryan, I will help you find something that she will absolutely love! I am a pony of many connections after all."-she stood up and walked with him into the living room-"So let me focus on this for you so you can turn your attention to more important things."

"Heh, I don't know what I'd do without ya Rares...is there anything I can do to repay you?"

"Oh you dear, dear man...I don't need you to do anything; I'm more than happy to help."-she paused, looking up at him with big eyes-"Although, darling...there is perhaps one thing that you might do for me. Just a teensy, tiny little favor to give me some alone time..."

'Oh dear Woona! That look again! Bail out man, bail out!'

"...ignoring my other half's stupidity, what is this favor m'lady?"

"Hee, hee, well..."

"CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS HUMAN TOBOGGAN RIDE!"

"How did I get talked into this?!" Ryan screamed as the three fillies rode him like a sled down the massive hill, "...oh wait, because I brought up that crazy magnet spell. Curse that man for making it so awesome! Curse him!"

'Look on the bright side Ryan, now you can pretend you're that Frosty character!'

"Righty-o then! Ahm the greatest belly-whopper in all Equestria! Zoom!" Ryan laughed madly as he slid down the hill, following the curves and such with ease while the CMC's on his back screamed and laughed in glee as they sped downwards over the snow.

The ponies at the park looked at the commotion curiously, blinking as they saw the peculiar sight of AppleBloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo riding on Ryan's back; some of the ponies laughed at the sight while others had to question just what a 'belly-whopper' was. Others though, were not as lucky, as Ryan had to play chicken with them and try to control their speed; sadly that part of the plan hadn't been fully thought out and so, as they reached the bottom, a slight bump sent our intrepid crusaders airborne.

"I'm flying!" Scootaloo shouted, grabbing tight to Ryan and her friends, "...it's gonna hurt when we land though isn't it?"

'Nope! Right Ryan?'

"Oh yeah! Frosty couldn't do this in his dreams!"-Ryan smirked, snapping his fingers as his wings unfurled-"Time to fall with style!"

"Scootaloo does that all the time!" Sweetie Belle teased, grunting and laughing when said friend jabbed her in the side, "I'm just kidding Scoots!"

"This is amazing big bro! It's so beautiful up here!" AppleBloom looking at the ground below with its twinkling lights and various ponies enjoying their winter time activities, "No wonder Pegasi always go on about how awesome flyin' is."

Feeling a slight current, Ryan did his best to ride it out as he circled the park and waved to those down below that paused to look up at them; eventually he aimed for a clearing of snow before sliding down and to a stop. While that was really fun he had to admit he was feeling pretty tired.

"Big bro? You okay?"

He looked over his shoulder and smirked, "Yeah AppleBloom...how about a break? Fancy some hot cocoa?"

"Dude, we're always game for chocolate big bro." Scootaloo laughed, getting off his back with the others so he could stand up, "That was really fun though."

"Yeah, thanks for doing that."

"Awwww."-he kneeled down and hugged the three of them tight-"Yer mah little sisters, I'd do anythin' for ya. Now come on...CUTIE MARK CRUSADER COCOA ENTHUSIASTS!"

Bon-Bon looked up towards her store's entrance as the little bell rang and smiled to see a favorite customer of hers come walking in along with three bundled up fillies. Ryan smiled and gave a wave as they walked in, the CMC's immediately dispersing to look over the candy leaving him to handle the other part of things.

"Foal-sitting today, are we? I'm sure you've got your hands full then."

"Well, what can I say B-squared? I'm good with kids." Ryan laughed at her good-natured teasing, "Besides, who says ahm not havin' fun either?"

"So then, what can get for you today? Something special in mind?"

"Four of your famous hot chocolates if you would."-he paused-"Oh...and, well, I guess whatever mah little sisters pick out since I did say I'd treat them to something."

"Ooooh, how generous and kind; very attractive."

Ryan snickered and blushed slightly, "Cute B-squared, cute."

"Heh, I try...can't let Lyra have all the fun now can we?"-she went about getting their drinks ready-"Are you having anything to treat yourself with?"

"Well....I hadn't thought about it but...if maybe...you might have..."

"The white chocolate fudge with brownie bits and peanut butter you seem so fond of?"-she giggled at his enthusiastic head nod-"I do...made a fresh batch last night. Although, what was that nickname you came up for it again?"

'Whitemare Moon.'

"Ah yes! That's it..."-she narrowed her eyes-"Now Dark! You know I don't like it when you do that! Hearing your voice unexpectedly scares the lights out of me."

'Sorry Bon-Bon...but I just love that nickname.'

"You would." Bon-Bon smirked as she brought over the four cocoas and then got Ryan his fudge, "How much this time?"

"Oh...just half a pound...have to watch what I eat after all. We can't all be like Pinkie Pie and eat an ungodly amount of sweets."

'Doesn't stop you from trying.'

"Hey!"

"Hahaha, he's got you there Ryan."

At that point the CMC's had returned, each of them holding a sugary treat they wanted up to Ryan for his approval; nodding towards them, they cheered before heading over to a table to get situated. Paying Bon-Bon and thanking her, he carried the cocoas over to the table before sitting down (or doing his best; as he said, pony chairs don't do well by humans) and relaxing. Blowing on his cocoa, he took a sip before twitching slightly, "Careful girls...it's quite hot."

He had to smile at their enthusiasm in trying to drink it despite his warning and the way they quickly recoiled and blew on their tongues; in a way it reminded him of when he and his siblings had been younger and...

"Phew, it's kind of warm in here huh?" Ryan remarked, pulling off his jacket and hanging it on the wall to distract himself.

AppleBloom glanced at the back of the jacket before frowning, "...it's not fair."

Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle, both of their mouths adorably packed with sweets, glanced at their friend with questioning looks. Ryan too seemed a bit puzzled by her statement, "What's not fair hon?"

"...that."-she pointed at his jacket-"Yer not even a pony and ya got yerself a cutie mark. Meanwhile we still can't get ours..."

"Aw, sweetie." He gently ruffled her mane before hugging her close, "Ah know that still bothers y'all but remember what I told ya?"

"I do!" Scootaloo butted in, her face covered in whip cream from her cocoa, "You told us that just because we haven't found our special talent doesn't mean we aren't already special."

"Uh-huh! Uh-huh!"-Sweetie Belle nodded-"And that the things we are good at make us special too; not cutie mark getting special, but still unique."

"Good girls." Ryan ruffled their manes, smirking at the pleased noises they made, "So while I ahm sorry mah cutie mark seems to upset ya still, ya know it don't matter to me whether or not you've got yers yet. Yer always gonna be special in mah eyes."

AppleBloom sniffled before looking at Ryan with wide eyes and nodding; with that she buried his head in his chest while he hugged her tight. Not one to miss a group hug with their big brother, Scoots and Sweetie joined in as well not knowing that he too felt comfort from this moment that chased away his thoughts once more. It wasn't until they all heard a rather unanimous 'D'awwwwww' sound that they looked up and noticed everyone in Bon-Bon's shop (including Bon-Bon herself) had seen the tender moment and couldn't help but comment. His cheeks flushed thusly, Ryan released the CMC's from his hug before laughing softly, "So...what should we try once we're done here?"

"I'm not sure...what else can we try that's snow related?"

Ryan shrugged at Scoot's question before popping a piece of fudge into his mouth, "Well, how about we-"And then he shouted in pain, holding the right side of his jaw-"...ow...what in tar-ow!"

"Are you okay?"

He turned to Sweetie Belle with a grimace on his face and nodded, "Yeah it's just...ugh...my tooth...weird. Anyway..."-he composed himself, putting the rest of his treat away for later-"How about something simple? Like a snowman?"

"...we've made snowponies before, but never a snowman."-AppleBloom smirked, an idea forming in her head-"Hey big bro...how about ya model for us?"

AppleJack slowly awoke, seeing the moon still hanging in the sky and wondered just what in tarnation woke her up; glancing up at the human she was currently hugging, she could see Ryan's face was contorted and he seemed to fidgeting slightly in his sleep. Frowning at this, she gently shook him to try and bring him around, "Sugah...wake up."

Ryan's eyes shot wide open as he looked around for a few minutes catching his breath; eventually he felt AppleJack shift upwards some before looking him eye-to-eye.

"What happend Ry-Ry? A bad dream?"

"Hmmm...something like that...ow."-Ryan rubbed his jaw again-"Ugh...that and this tooth keeps buggin' me something fierce."

"You seemed a might distracted at dinner, but I figured ya were just tired after being around them little fillies all day in the snow."

He smirked, running his fingers through her mane, "Yeah...I think when I bit down on that fudge at B-squared's, a piece of that peanut crackle in it was in the wrong spot."-he wiped his forehead, surprised to see his hand come back wet-"Sweating? Weird...that dream must've been more tense than I thought."

Sensing his unease, AppleJack nuzzled his chest before softly kissing his neck, "Wanna talk about it darlin'?"

He thought on that question for a short while, staring out at the night sky through the window while continuing to run his hand through her mane; eventually he gave a sigh and nodded, "...it was...about mah family."

Apps noticed his hesitation and nuzzled him again. Seeing this as his cue to keep talking he did, "I was...dreaming about the holidays when I was younger."-he took a deep breath-"It started off nice, the usual stuff signifying the start of it all...though the fact it was snowing tipped me off to something being wrong. After that it all fell apart, I was suddenly my present self but everyone I cared about began slipping through my grasp, fading away from mah mind...almost like they melted away."

She watched as he glanced out the window again before hugging her tight and burying his head in her mane; eventually he lifted his head and gave her a small smile, "Sorry."

"Fer what?"

"Letting mah thoughts get the best of me like this."-he laughed softly-"I've done so well not focusing on that since ah got here but...it would figure the holidays would make it hit harder."

AppleJack shook her head, tenderly kissing him before shifting over and cuddling atop him, "Now ya listen to me Apple Ryder: yer mah stallion and that means ya can share anythin' with me if'n ya want. I ain't gonna judge and I certainly ain't gonna tell ya yer a bother when your heart is aching. Got it bucko?"

"Hahaha."-he wrapped his arms around her tightly-"Ah gotcha; now then...how's about we try that sleep thing again?"

"Sounds like a plan sugah."

The next morning came and Ryan, groaning at the ache he felt in his mouth, knew what had to be done but to say he felt a tad uneasy would be underselling it. Never the less, he was walking with AppleJack into town (all the while holding his jaw) before they came to a stop at a shop that had a small sign hanging from it. Glancing at the hourglass icon on it, he heaved a mighty sigh and pushed the door open to find the office strangely empty.

'Well, at least this means it'll be quick right?'

"...I guess that's one way to look at it Dark." Ryan huffed, but seeing as the ache in his jaw wasn't going away on its own he tapped the little bell on the desk. Hearing the sound of somepony tripping over something, he saw a light blue mare come sauntering out before pausing as she met Ryan's eyes.

"So..."-he gulped-"Howdy Dr. Colgate...I uh...I've got a tooth problem I think so ah was wondering if..."

"If?" Colgate smirked as she walked over towards him, "Yes?"

"If you could...take a look?"

"Of course! Of course! Anything for Ponyville's resident human."-she quickly grabbed Ryan's hand with her magic and began leading him to the back-"You're so lucky today...I don't have any scheduled appointments so we've got all the time in the world. Now then...let's have a look at those fangs of yours."

'...I've got that strange feeling that I figure flies have once they've flown into a spiderweb.'

"Ah, you two are just over-reactin'!" AppleJack laughed, "I'll be back later after ah run some errands okay? You take good care of him Colgate!"

Colgate poked her head out of the office door and grinned at AppleJack, "Oh, don't worry; I've been looking forward to this far too much to let harm come to him."

"You know...ah, ah think I might've changed mah mind."-he tried to get out of the chair but found he couldn't-"Oh my..."

With that the door closed, leaving AppleJack to shake her head as she left to take care of business.

Meanwhile, Ryan was sitting in the chair of his own accord now...though that didn't make him any less nervous; it wasn't the dentist itself that bothered him, oh no. Ryan had been to the dentist many times in his life and never found the experience to be too bothersome; while some parts of it had hurt...and having his wisdom teeth removed had been a very annoying experience, he usually took it all in stride. There was a difference though: in those cases, it had been with human dentists working on a human patient. Looking at Colgate who was humming to herself happily he thought back to the first time he had met her. It had been in the marketplace while shopping with AppleBloom when she sprinted over and just stared at his face...or more specifically his teeth. After apologizing for being so rude about it, she mentioned that she found the fact that he was a carnivore (omnivore she later corrected after prying open his mouth and seeing the flat molars as well) was just fascinating seeing as she never got to work on canines before. Well that whole encounter left him hoping he'd never need anything serious done since she seemed to be a bit crazy much like Lyra yet, whereas Lyra's curiosity could be sated with words and just holding his hands, Colgate's would most likely not be until she was hoof-deep in his mouth.

And yet here he was, sitting in the chair, his jaw aching something fierce and knowing that the only way to find out why was to let this pony have her way with his teeth.

"I can't tell you how happy I am to finally have you in my chair Ryan."-she pulled on her mask before carrying over a few tools she needed-"I've been wanting to get a good look at that mouth of yours ever since that day."

'Yeah...totally feeling like the fly now.'

"...you know, that should totally freak me out more but I'm far too excited to let...Dark was it?"

'...yes?'

"Ah! So the rumors are true! But yes, I'm far too excited to let your disembodied talking freak me out. Now then..."-she lifted up a pick and light-"Say 'ah!'"

Opening his mouth as wide as he could, he could see her eyes light up in delight as she felt about inside his mouth with the pick cleaning this and that.

"Hmmm...you seem to take good care of your teeth...though I don't see the third row of molars you should have. Looks like one or two cavities as well, have to fill those..."-she prattled on-"Your canines seem so exotic compared to what I normally see, even if they are much smaller than most carnivores in our world."

"Uhm-ni-ver!"

"Oh right, sorry; Omnivore." She teased, before watching as he jumped when she touched a particular tooth, "Oh my...it would seem we've stumbled upon the culprit. Yes?"

Watching as he flinched again, she nodded before setting down the pick and rummaging about for what she would need to fix his problems...which brought a question to his mind, "Colgate?"

"Yes Ryan?"-she continued her work without turning around-"What's on your mind?"

"How...how do you know about human dental traits? Like the wisdom teeth?"

"Wisdom teeth? Oh! You mean the third molars? Oh, well, that's an easy one. After you got all banged up being the hero."-she giggled at this-"Princess Luna brought by some medical books that detailed human anatomy, specifically for your skeletal system and jaw."

"Oh...I suppose that means then mah teeth match up with an Equestrian human's..."-he paused-"Well, save for the fact I don't have Wisdom teeth."

'Well, to be honest, because our diet was a little more involved with vegetation and such those third molars never evolved into a problem, unlike in your world.'

"So fascinating...now then...I have some icky business to deal with involving a tooth and those pesky cavities so what scent would you like?"

Ryan gulped, not liking the words behind that, "Scent?"

"Yes! To help with the knockout gas."

"...you make that sound so normal. I'm guessing that tooth is screwed up something bad huh?" Ryan winced again as he felt another jolt of pain from it, "...apple?"

"Hey...relax. I am a professional first and foremost." Her smile seemed to ease him a bit as she got everything ready, propping his jaw open and placing something over his nose, "Sorry it doesn't fit too well, but I'll have to get some better equipment meant for humans since I know you'll just be a wonderful regular of mine right?"

Seeing as his speech would only come out as gobbledy-gook with his mouth propped open, he lightly nodded his head before feeling a little sleepy; his eyelids began to grow heavy as he stared at the relaxing smile Colgate gave him.

"Right! Just relax...now then."-lifting up a drill, she pulled her mask back on-"Let's have some fun."

And just like that he was terrified all over again before sleep overcame him, leaving him defenseless in the dentist chair against Colgate's curiosity.

AppleJack wandered into the dentist office a few hours later, a bit upset her errands took longer than she reckoned; seeing as Ryan wasn't waiting in the front office she gave a sigh of relief that she hadn't been gone too long. After sitting for about ten minutes, she saw Colgate lead Ryan out the door by the hand and was puzzled at how oddly he was walking; getting up, she trotted over to the two before seeing Ryan smiling goofily at her.

"Hey there Appsy-wapsy-woo!" He giggled, "I feel sooooooo chill right now."

"Uhm...what's wrong with him? What did ya do to Apple Ryder?"

'She took us on a magical journey, to land of unicorns...pink, fluffy ones...dancing on rainbows.'

"Ooookay, so both Ry and Dark are a bit lost to the world."-she shook her head-"I'm guessin' you had to put him under?"

Colgate nodded before smirking at Ryan, "Yes...his tooth had chipped and exposed the nerve so I had to cap it after smoothing it down; then while I was in there I filled two cavities he had. Other than that I can tell he's very thorough with his brushing. He's a lot better than most ponies I've seen. Just...make sure he lays off anything hard for two days to let it set and no liquids for four hours so his fillings will dry."

"Ya got that Apple Ryder?"

"Pink fluffy unicorns, dancing on rainbows..." Ryan was a bit lost to the conversation, hopping in place while singing the same words over and over again. Sighing, Apps paid Colgate before lassoing a rope around his waist and leading him along.

"Bye Colgate~ Thanks for not doing anything inappropriate to me while I was passed out." Ryan waved, "You can peek at mah teeth any day."

'Yeah she can! Woooooooooo!'

With a sharp tug of the rope, Ryan shuffled along leaving a slightly blushing Colgate behind, "I dare say there goes one of the craziest patients I've ever had..."

AppleJack meanwhile was having her hands full trying to keep Ryan from getting into any kind of situations seeing as he wasn't completely there at the moment; she got her fair share of looks from her fellow ponies at him being dragged along by her lasso to which she just sheepishly laughed and smiled. Ryan simply waved with a big grin and seemed completely unaware at how ridiculous (...okay, more ridiculous) he was acting; some ponies snickered and waved back, while others had to wonder what the heck had happened to him. Mercifully, they got to the outskirts of town without any major hassle though she noted Ryan seemed to be dragging his feet a bit, "Darlin' ya okay back there?"

"I am the most excellent!" He remarked, "...although I sense the sleep demon is soon to be upon me."

'I'm not doing anything! Oh...you meant a metaphorical one....oooooooooooooooh!'

Apps sighed, thankful to see the farmhouse come into view, "I'm puttin' ya right to bed Apple Ryder...I think ya need to sleep this particular case of the sillies off."

He merely nodded quite a bit as she helped guide him upstairs (much to the curious looks of Granny and Big Mac) to their room before untying the rope and nudging him towards the bed; falling into it face-first he rolled over and grabbed hold of Apps, "Snuggle with me mah sweet equine?"

Unable to resist the dopey, pleading smile on his face she laughed and tossed her hat aside before crawling in with him; getting settled, he curled up around her, nuzzling her neck and closing his eyes. AppleJack let a smile drift across her features as she felt him kissing her softly over and over until finally he was out like a light. She too would've joined him soon had she not felt something wet hit her hair, "...Ryan?"

Shifting as best she could to look, she saw tears slowly falling down his eyes and heard him whispering something almost too faint for her to hear; only once she strained did she make out what he seemed to be mumbling in his sleep: "...I'm so sorry...so...sorry..."

This confused AppleJack, making her wonder just what he was dreaming about this time, but rather than wake him like the night prior she simply settled in against him to give him some comfort as he napped.

'Ah don't know what's eating him now. I can hope gettin' to spend time with all of us for the holidays helps chase away whatever's eatin' mah Ry-Ry...ah hate seein' him like this after all.'

A few hours later, Ryan groaned as he slowly awoke. His throat felt quite parched as he opened his eyes to see he was in bed with Apps; ignoring the dull ache he felt from where his gums were no doubt numbed, he tried to get a grip on what had happened and what was just part of his dreams.

'...not to make ya feel like a total dork, but that whole singing bit? That was not a dream.'

He groaned, realizing how foolish he must've looked in front of Colgate and AppleJack...and whoever else saw him as she led him back home; his groan doubled when he realized the teasing he was gonna get from the townsfolk at that image.

"...ya awake Ry-Ry?"

"Eyup...I did some silly stuff didn't I?"

"That's fer sure...but..."-she paused, not sure if she should mention his dreaming-"Anyway sugah, how do ya feel?"

"Like I got ran over by the Friendship Express. Whatever that stuff was Colgate used to knock me out must've been pretty potent." He sighed, rolling over and staring at the ceiling, "Other than that, mah mouth isn't doing too bad."

"That's good to hear. So then...I forgot to tell ya but yesterday we got an invite from the Princesses."

His ears perked up at this, and so did his smile, "Cellie and Lunes? They throwing a shindig?"

She giggled, "I figured that'd raise yer spirits; they're having some kind of winter party at the castle and invited all of us to come. Ah know we'll be back there later in the month for the Hearth's Warming Eve pageant but ah know how much ya like seeing that gal of yers Dark."

'....huh? Shhhhhhhhh...my head feels like someone was using it to store turnips.' Dark groaned, letting out what sounded like a shifting noise, 'Ugh...although seeing Woona would be a nice treat.'

Ryan merely blinked in confusion, "I swear, it felt as if he was rolling around on a bed in mah head. Weird...anyway sure, sounds good."-he was about to continue his thoughts till he felt and saw his stomach grumble-"...well, I'm apparently quite hungry."

AppleJack giggled before poking his stomach, "Apparently; but no solid foods for two days. Doctor's orders!"

"Ugh...very well, if I must eat everything through a straw for two days then so be it! Get the blender!"

A week passed and things were back to normal as Spike and Twilight waited for the others to show up at her house; pacing slightly she noted they weren't late but were dangerously close to it.

"Twilight, you need to relax; that's the whole point of the holidays isn't it? To relax? Enjoy yourself? Have fun?"

She looked at Spike with an unamused expression, "Yes, yes...but this is the first time we'll be trying such a long-distance feat with so many ponies."

"...and a dragon..."

"And a dragon..."

"And a human too."

"Yes Spike! I get it!" She huffed before calming herself, "I know Ryan managed to pull off teleporting to Canterlot with AppleJack, but two ponies is a lot less than eight."

Spike shrugged, sitting down on his bag and munching on a diamond, "You just need to relax; you two will pull it off no problem. That way we have much more time to enjoy ourselves there. Oh! I bet the decorations are just amazing by now!"

At that moment there was a knock at the door; opening it up Twilight saw her friends come walking in, dressed up in various articles of clothing to keep the cold at bay. Walking in last was Ryan, who closed the door behind them and smirked, "So then...eight for the Rylight Express train to Canterlot?"

"...he's been waiting ta say that since he woke up this morning." AppleJack groaned, shaking her head, "Oh well, can't fault him fer having fun."

"I know! That's like if everypony did that to me! Can you imagine how crazy that would be, trying to stop me from having fun?!" Pinkie gasped, leaping about before landing on Ryan's shoulders, "It'd be like keeping Rainbow Dash from flying, or Rarity from sewing, or Ryan from making puns and using those fingers to scratch that one spot behind your ears that's just so hard to reach but feels so good when he does it for you!"

'Hahaha...oh this is going to be quite fun isn't it?'

"Pinkie, darling, I think one of those things isn't quite like the others." Rarity remarked, bouncing her hair to one side, "Although I'm pleased that the scarf I made you looks so stunning; I bet the Princess will just love it."

Ryan glanced down at the midnight blue scarf he wore, specifically at how the ends were designed and couldn't help but laugh; while his clothing was a lighter color (a wonderful mixture of whites, blues, and yellows accented with pinks and mint green that seemed awfully familiar), his scarf seemed to mesh with it rather than clash. Taking the moment to lift Pinkie off his shoulder (and scratch behind her ears in that one spot she mentioned) he took a deep breath and prepared himself, "So then, if we're all set, shall we T-Sparks? I'm rather curious to see how well this works."

Twilight nodded before getting in a circle with the others, "Okay everypony; just hold in place and let Ryan and I do the heavy lifting....so to speak."

Doing his best to harmonize his magic with Twilight's, he soon felt the unmistakable pressure of the two auras combining before surrounding his friends and their bags while they focused on the location they were aiming for. As they prepared to poof away, Dark had one last thought before it happened, 'Tia...Tia does know we're coming this way, right?'

Twilight's eyes went wide moments before the spell went off and they were whisked away, the library falling silent as the group headed towards Canterlot...

"Oh yes...you're finally all mine." Celestia regarded her prize with the greatest of smiles as she examined it, "Oh yes...I cannot wait to get the rest of you inside me."

Licking her lips, she was mere inches away from claiming what was hers before she heard what she swore was a screaming noise of some kind; as it was there was a sudden flash which caused her to jump and freeze in place. Blinking slowly, she saw the forms of her favorite student and her friends as well as her favorite human fall down into a pile in front of her throne. It didn't take long for them to recover from the rough landing and slowly turn their glances towards Celestia.

'...is that...cake?'

"And why is there icing on...and on yer...and...."-Ryan gulped, slowly standing up and motioning for his friends to do the same as he grabbed his bag-"And.....yeah..."

The others, too speechless to say anything, merely walked backwards with Ryan until they exited the throne room and closed the door behind them; the guards standing there raised an eyebrow at their appearance but shrugged it off when they saw the startled look in their eyes.

"Don't ask Swift Cut...don't...ask." Ryan quietly pleaded, "Uhm...so...."

"I'm not sure I wish to know at this point sir." Swift Cut shrugged, "Seeing as you dropped in, I assume you're here for the party later tonight?"

"That would be right." Twilight noted, "Could you...possibly show us to our rooms?"

"Very well; follow me everypony."

A short while later after they were settled in, Luna had shown up to let them know her sister wished to see them in the throne room; glancing at each other they could only hope things were not too terribly awkward as they filed out...with Ryan in the front much to his dismay.

"And why, might I ask, am I the one in the front?" He remarked, glancing over his shoulder at the others.

"Ta be the shield."

"Because you're awesome like that?"

"It's fun watching you get all flustered!"

"I'm her valuable student, so...you have to protect me!"

"It wouldn't be becoming if a gentleman such as yourself didn't try his all to protect his ladies."

'...since when did we acquire a harem Ryan?'

"We didn't Dark!" Ryan shouted, feeling his cheeks heat up at such a thought, "And I'll assume Flutters is too nervous to add her two cents."-he sighed and turned to Luna-"Oh a scale of 'okay' to 'we're screwed'....how irritated did Cellie seem?"

Luna paused for a moment and narrowed her eyes, "My sister takes her cake very seriously."

'Well...that's not reassuring Woona.'

"I am sorry my dear Darkness...as well as my friends."-she stopped as they reached the throne room-"Should you not come back I must say I love your scarf; while I look a little odd stretched out like that, it's very cute."

"Thank you princess." Rarity remarked, "Those words will give us some resolve."-she began pushing Ryan into the room-"Now then dearie, do your job as a gentlecolt and protect your ladies."

They were silent as they walked in, Celestia's face unreadable as they took their place in front of them; a tense feeling hung in the air as the silence continued on until, mercifully, Celestia uttered three words, "Nopony. Must. Know."

"Yes Princess!" They all shouted in unison, "We will keep this secret to the grave!"

"Excellent!" Celestia replied, smiling and her chipper self again, "I must say I'm surprised to see you dropping in so suddenly. No doubt my favorite student trying another one of her experiments?"

Twilight blushed and simply nodded her head, "Well, I thought it would be good to see how well we could make our magic mesh...it seemed to work well enough."

'...until somepony lost her focus. Cough, cough...Twily.'

Celestia giggled softly much to Twilight's dismay before collecting herself and smiling at the group, "Well then, it pleases me to see you all getting along so well. I must admit, I was a bit concerned when Luna informed me of a disturbance she felt last month regarding Darkness."

'...oh. She must've noted the...pastry incident.'

"Pastry Incident?"-Celestia smirked-"So then I was right in assuming my little ponies and human were up to mischief then?"

"Somethin' like that yer majesty." AppleJack admitted, smirking at the memory, "Needless to say, ah don't think we'll be forgettin' that birthday party anytime soon."

"I know I won't! Ryan was all zoom and whoosh and we were all "Get back here!" and then the candy and the giant pies and that huge cannon of his! And then icing was everywhere and then he went flying into the sky but came crashing down and we were all "Yeah! We got him!" and then he was stuck and then we had our delicious retribution and then it was snuggle time and...mmmfh!"

Ryan put a hand over her mouth after grabbing her, "Ah think that's enough Pinks; we don't wish to bore Cellie with the details after all."

Celestia raised an eyebrow and smirked, "Snuggle time?"

Ryan gasped and felt his cheeks flush as he couldn't find his voice...but Dark had no problem expanding upon that question.

'Ah yes sweet Tia...you recall snuggle time. Remember? Those cold evenings when it was just the three of us; you, me, and dear Woona curled up in front of the fireplace as we talked about the silliest of things, enjoying a delicious beverage, and then falling asleep together in the most delightful puddle of happiness.' He sighed wistfully, 'I still remember wondering how it was your fur was so soft...and those manes, like the finest silk plucked from a galactic spiderweb. Never was I more relaxed than with you and my sweet Woona.'

Now it was Celestia's turn to blush slightly, having not thought on those pleasant nights from so long ago in quite some time, "It would seem that the years had made me forget those pleasant memories...but I see they still warm my heart all the same. Hmm...as I recall, did Discord not join us on some occasions so that we might truly get into some fun?"

At that statement, the jaws of everypony in the room pretty much dropped to the floor; too stunned to reply, the looks they gave Celestia pretty much spoke their question quite loud: WHAT?

'With all that has happened, I'd completely forgotten about that.'-Dark sadly 'hmmmed'-'Yes, not too long after he first showed up he seemed to take quite an interest in the three of us...I never did ask why. It never struck me as something to think on....'

"Yes...sadly what followed ruined what could have been many enjoyable years."-Celestia paused, before figuring she had to clarify a few things at the puzzled stares she was getting-"My little ponies and human, I sense you are puzzled by our words."

"Just a bit princess."

"Twilight's right...you were friends with Discord?" Rainbow Dash shouted, completely flabbergasted by such a fact.

"...it is true."

All those there turned to see Luna come walking in, a sad smile on her face as she took a place next to her sister.

'Woona...but yes my friends. When Discord first arrived he was not the being that we have faced many times now; he was chaotic, yes, and liked playing pranks and stuff as well as making the laws of physics his bitch but he never did anything to truly harm anyone or anypony.'

"So then what happened your majesties?" Rarity hesitantly asked, wondering if perhaps it was too personal to answer.

Dark, Celestia, and Luna were silent for a few moments, unsure of exactly how to answer that question; sensing they were struggling for an answer Dark finally spoke up, 'We aren't sure Rarity. All we know is that one day, when he returned from another one of his excursions beyond the castle limits, he was a different person...draconequus...you get what I mean.'

"Darkness..."

'I have to tell them Woona...it seemed the fully fun-loving Discord we called friend was gone. He was angry, upset about...what I don't think I'll ever fully know. His chaotic and confusing way of talking was even less decipherable and after getting into a heated argument with all of us he flew away in anger.'

Ryan could sense his friend was in quite a bit of agony, "Dark..."

'Heh, it's okay Ryan...I'm almost done after all.' Dark laughed softly, touched by his concern, 'Anyway, we didn't hear much about him for about a year...and then it began.'

"His reign of chaos and tyranny?"

"Yes Twilight Sparkle, the one that with Dark's help we were able to put a stop to but at the cost of his life." Celestia quietly replied, "I had forgotten all about such memories for so long..."

'Heh...it's the holiday season Tia; it tends to bring up buried memories whether we want it to or not.'

Ryan mumbled, a slight frown on his face, "...don't I know that one."

"...what was that Ryan?"

"Nothing...nothing ladies." Ryan quickly added, waving his hand to dismiss it, "So then that fight was even more personal than I thought...but...I suppose that syncs up with some things he said during the whole fight with him."

"U-uhm...what are you talking about?"-Fluttershy hovered over towards him-"I-I mean...what did he say?"

"He made a lot of remarks that made it clear he was not a fan of humans in the least."-Ryan scratched his head and sighed-"At the time I thought it was just because Dark gave him what for but now...I'm not so sure."

Sensing the mood was in need of boosting, Luna cleared her throat and put on a smile, "On to better things, the preparations for the party tonight are coming together well."

"Oh, so that's where ya went Princess."

"Please AppleJack, you may call me Luna."

"Alrighty then P...Luna. Is there anythin' we can help out with?"

Luna lifted a hoof and shook it back and forth, "No, no; you are guests after all. I merely ask that you all take the time to enjoy yourselves until the party."

"Mmmphghshp!"

Blinking, Ryan realized he was still holding his hand over Pinkie's mouth and relinquished his hold on her. With a sheepish laugh he rubbed the back of his neck and apologized, "Sorry Pinks...with the moment being so serious I kind of forgot I had ya captive."

"Awww, that's alright Rysy-Wysy...you'll just owe me a special favor."-she giggled and narrowed her eyes-"I think you know the one I'm talking about."

Slowly nodding his head, he grinned and then laughed at the other's confusion; bidding the Princesses farewell they retired back to their rooms to unwind a little and get ready for the party later that evening.

Ryan was currently getting dressed, pulling on quite the snappy number Rarity had made some time ago but he hadn't an occasion to wear it until now. AppleJack walked over and looked him up or down as he pulled on his shoes and gave an approving nod, "Yer looking rather stunning Ry-Ry."

Looking at his reflection in the mirror, he had to agree: the black slacks he was wearing, accented by a winding curve of reds and greens that traced up the sides and ended in apple shapes on the back pockets matched nicely with the orange button-up shirt he had on. Adding in jeweled cufflinks that matched Apps' cutie mark just completed the ensemble...almost anyway.

Walking over to their bag, he pulled out a dress jacket that, while not as badass looking as his leather one, still looked rather sharp with his cutie mark prominently displayed on the back.

"Heh, I reckon ya can't take the awesome out of the country boy just by removing a jacket."

'...that made absolutely no sense AppleJack.' Dark laughed as Ryan studied himself in the mirror, 'But I must say...we are looking sharp!'

"Quite mah mental companion; Rares knows what looks good on someone."-he glanced over to the dress Applejack was wearing, a rather nice cowgirl motif but more dressy-"And somepony; yer looking hot to trot mah sweet apple."

AppleJack simply blushed and looked at the floor, "Ya sure it ain't too fru-fru lookin'?"

"Not one bit." He remarked, "Ah dear say I've got the best date to this little shindig."

Feeling her nudge him in the side he got the picture, letting up his teasing and took one last look in the mirror. Hearing the door knock, they both gave a 'come in' and saw Rarity walking in with the others, "Darlings, I just came by to make sure that...!"

In the moment it took Ryan to blink Rarity was upon him, circling and looking over her handiwork; hearing her make a few noises and seeing nods he could only guess that she was happy with how his outfit had turned out.

"Oh it's just simply wonderful! I wasn't sure that your cutie mark would look well with the whole ensemble but it seems to mesh just marvelously!"

"...uh, Rarity? You were sayin' something? About being ready?"

Rarity blinked, laughing sheepishly as she regained her composure, "Oh yes! Right, well...the others are all ready and waiting; I don't know what it is about you two but you're always dallying."

'Heh, I find that simply adds an air of mystery to our character m'lady.'

Rarity smirked, "Always such a charmer Darkness...now come on you two! We can't be late! Not for a party from the Princesses!"

Giving a quick nod, they filed out into the hallway where they met the others; looking over their dresses Ryan let out a whistle, "Wow. Y'all are looking awesome."

"Ya think so?" Rainbow Dash giggled, her wings fluttering slightly, "I normally don't do the girly-girly thing but...if you think I look good Ryan I might have to try this more often."

'Doesn't take much to figure out what she's thinking.'

"Dark!"

"Hahaha, you have to admit he has a point Rainbow Dash." Twilight remarked, "Now then, seeing as the two of you have finally joined us...shall we meet the Princesses?"

"...I don't see why everypony's making such a big deal out of this." Spike rolled his eyes, "It's just a party; I mean, yes, it's being thrown by Princess Celestia and Luna but...it's probably going to be boring and girly like the Gala was."

"...Gala?" Ryan asked, smirking as he lifted Spike up on to his shoulders, "And hey, lighten up little buddy; I doubt it'll be as stuffy as yer making it out to be."

"Well..."-Spike shrugged and tried to give Ryan a noogie-"I suppose if you're there, that is quite a difference from last time."

"See? Exactly! Now then ladies..."-he held his arms out to his side and grinned-"Shall we?"

Author's Note:

Okay, so a day behind posting this but it's up now! Woooo! It's a little feelsie here and there but that's mostly because the holidays do tend to bring up memories one doesn't necessarily think about otherwise....at least from mah experiences anyway.
Plenty of goofiness to offset it though; the next chapter should prove interesting to see how I pull off what I wish to. Might take me an extra day or two to do so but I should have it up on time by next week...unless yer from further in the future, then it's probably already up along with the Pony Tails one-shot I'm working on the same time at the same time as this harvest and the next one.
If so.....

WELCOME TO THE WOOOOOOORLD OF TOMORROW! :pinkiehappy:

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