• Published 25th Aug 2013
  • 10,111 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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2nd Harvest

"So, ready to get some work done harvesting?"

"Well, sure, but...how do you guys harvest without ladders or hands?" Ryan asked, helping AppleJack carry out some baskets.

"We just buck of course! Just watch!"

With that AppleJack faced away from a tree, reared-back, and kicked the tree as hard as she could with her hind legs; Ryan watched curiously as the tree shook something fierce before all the apples fell into the baskets surrounding the tree.

"Hmmm, impressive Apps. Let's see here." Ryan remarked, walking over to another tree and sizing it up, "Hmmmm....."

"What do y'all think he's doing?" AppleBloom asked, watching from under an empty basket, "He's just staring down the tree."

"I don't know but how is he going to buck when he walks on two legs? I can't see him pulling anything off like that." Scootaloo noted, "Wait...what's he doing?"

Ryan seemed to be concentrating for a moment before letting out a shout and kicking the tree with his right leg as hard as he could.

"...what was that all about?"

"I don't know Sweetie Belle...even my sister seems a bit perplexed."

"Ry-Ry...are yer legs not strong enough?" AppleJack asked, frowning a little bit.

"Shhhh....wait for it." Ryan stated before smirking as the apples began to shake and then fell off in one fell swoop, "Heh, I guess I've got the touch."

"Sweet rainbow colored wings, did you see what that guy did? That's like almost Rainbow Dash levels of awesomeness." Scootaloo gasped, "How did he..."

"I guess that makes some sense though, he does walk on just those two legs so they're probably super strong thanks to that." AppleBloom deduced, "So he's strong like my sister...interesting. Let's keep watching."

"Told you to be patient Apps." Ryan laughed, grabbing a basket and hefting it up.

"I have to say sugah, I was a bit worried there you weren't strong enough but I guess ya showed me a thing or two about humans." AppleJack laughed, "That's good then, always nice to have another strong pair of legs helping out."

And so it was that Ryan spent the rest of the day helping AppleJack with the harvest, all the while AppleBloom and her friends kept spying and watching while formulating all manner of nonsensical hijinx.

"I must be absolutely fascinating to watch." Ryan remarked, dumping the last basket of apples for the day into the holding bin before giving a sigh, "Phew, I'm so glad Rarity is making me some shorts...it's a bit too hot to be out in jeans."

"What are ya talking about sugah? And that reminds me...why were you in such cold weather clothing anyway?"

"Oh yeah, I guess that would seem a bit weird too huh? Well, the only thing I can figure is that seasons or time don't match up between our worlds for some reason. See, it was winter where I'm from but apparently it's summer here...hmmm, I wonder what month it is?"

"I could show ya a calendar if you'd like, to at least help ya get yer bearings Ry-Ry." AppleJack offered, "Anyway, you were a big help already so I'm glad yer here."

"Haha, thanks Apps." Ryan quietly replied, "Getting praise is something I'm always shy about so..."

"Haha, now I get to make you red."

"Goober."

"Anyway, that was a heaping load of work so I'm ready to get some dinner and rest; sound good?"

"Sure thing Apps, I suppose you're sister should come along as well right?" Ryan asked, glancing over his shoulder at the three fillies hiding in the hay, "Come on AppleBloom, dinner time! If you'd like, I can talk with yer friends tomorrow and answer all their questions and stuff."

"...awww, do I hafta? I liked spying on ya....I mean..."

"Hahaha, she's a cute kid, silly, but cute. Kind of reminds me of my sister when we were younger..."

"Ryan?"

"Huh?" Ryan asked, noting he'd been staring off into space as AppleJack looked at him with a frown, "Heh, sorry Apps; I just wasn't too close with my little sister when we got older...just thinking on that."

"...I can be yer sister if you'd like." AppleBloom offered, running over and glomping on to Ryan's leg.

"Hahaha, seriously, super cute." Ryan laughed softly before picking her up and giving her a hug, "Thanks AppleBloom, I just might take you up on that offer."

"You will?! Okay then, that makes my plan even easier then! Er, I mean....something not suspicious?"

"Hahahaha oh boy, to be young again." Ryan sighed as he ruffled her mane before setting her down, "Come on, I'm sure yer friends need to get home...and I can hear Granny ringing the dinner bell. I don't know how it is here, but if it's like back home we'd best get there before someone else eats it all...like Big Mac."

"My brother is big...I dare say you both probably eat the same amount."

"Eyup!"

"Hey!" Ryan jumped a bit at Big Mac giving his trademark word before running by, "Oh no you don't! I'm not letting you beat us to the table. Let's go Apps!"

"Already on my way sugah!"

"Gack! I've been had!" Ryan laughed as he began to run before noting AppleBloom was lagging behind, "...okay!"

"Okay...whaaaaaaaaaack!" AppleBloom gasped as Ryan picked her up and hoisted her on to his shoulders, "Are ya sure I'm not too heavy?"

"Naw! Besides, can't leave my "little sister" behind can I? The answer is no, I can't so let's go!"

"...I guess you do run faster than me so okay, onward to dinner!" AppleBloom shouted, pointing towards the farmhouse as Ryan did his best to catch up to Apps and Big Mac.

"...that hue-man is certainly something else huh Scootaloo?"

"You said it Sweetie Belle..." Scootaloo remarked before the two of them headed back to town, "Still...I got a feeling some cool stuff is gonna revolve around him; tomorrow can't come soon enough!"

"Hmmmm..."

"What is it sugah?" AppleJack asked as Ryan was thumbing through the calendar she'd given him, "Find something interesting?"

"Yeah, it would seem our world's calendar methods are startlingly similar; same amount of months and days in each month and even the month's are similarly named save for a few changed spellings. So then not only was I sent to another Earth, but I was also sent back in time by about four months." Ryan explained, "Fascinating. Wait...so then it's....oh!"

"What is it Ry-Ry? What's got you grinning like a pig in mud?"

"Again with the pig comparison." Ryan laughed softly, "If my reading this is right, then my birthday is at the end of this month."

"Hoowee, we'll have to celebrate then sugah." AppleJack remarked before grinning, "And boy howdy did you luck out when it comes to knowing a pony that is a party pro."

"One of you is a party pro? Hmmm...heh, if I'd have to guess I bet it's that super energetic friend of yours...the pink one. I think her name was Pinkie Pie?"

"Yer right...but I'm kind of surprised that we didn't see her in town today; with how she is I would've figured she'd be all over ya asking questions and making sure you two became friends." AppleJack mused before giving a shrug, "Oh well, I guess she must've been busy baking."

Setting the calendar down, Ryan gave a yawn before stretching and flopping back on his bed and getting comfortable.

"What a busy day...but I feel they'll all be pretty interesting here. Haha, still it's fun so far so."

"I'd hoped you'd be enjoying yerself."

With that AppleJack flopped herself next to Ryan and snickered when he avoided eye-contact a bit before slightly blushing.

"Heh, no need to be all shy Ry-Ry...I noticed how peacefully you were sleeping after you weren't alone last night so I don't mind."

"Heh, sheesh...as old as I am and being afraid of having loneliness induced nightmares." Ryan sighed till he felt AppleJack take his hand, "Hmmm?"

"That's a fear that can affect anypony regardless of age sugah, so don't feel so bad about it. I just enjoy teasing ya when I can since yer so good at doing that to me." AppleJack explained before nodding, "Now then, I reckon you'll be needing yer energy if you're gonna deal with mah sister and her friends...and then Pinkie Pie when we tell her your birthday is coming up soon."

With that AppleJack turned out the light and lay back, all while still holding on to Ryan's hand.

"Don't worry Ry-Ry, ya aren't alone here in Ponyville. You've got a heap of friends who'll make sure of that."

"Mmmm....thanks Apps." Ryan quietly replied, having already closed his eyes and gotten settled, "Goodnight AppleJack."

"Goodnight Ryan."

That night Ryan slept rather well, and was still sleeping peacefully when AppleBloom slowly tip-toed into the room to observe the progress of her "mission" as she put it and couldn't help grin at what she saw.

Apparently sometime during the night, Ryan and AppleJack had rolled about in their sleep and so AppleJack had ended up closer to Ryan, her head nuzzled against his chest while his arm was hugged around her, fingers laced through her mane; of course AppleBloom, with her crazy scheme already in her mind, mentally cheered at such a sight, her mind thinking that maybe this time her attempts at matchmaker might work out correctly.

As she enjoyed the moment (and thoughts of possibly becoming Ryan's little sister officially), she heard Ryan begin to stir and so ducked into the hallway so she could see what his reaction would be.

"Mmmmm....what a pleasant sleep I...." Ryan began to say before he noticed a weight on his chest and then his hand caressing something soft, "Hmmm? Soft? Huh?"

Slowly but surely he became more awake and that was when he looked down to see blonde hair and suddenly realized what that weight was on his chest; almost immediately his face began turning red but as time slowly passed he realized it wasn't all that unpleasant and so he decided to have a bit of fun with AppleJack since she was still sleeping.

"Oh Apps honey, the sun has risen." Ryan teasingly stated, carefully caressing her mane before gently patting her shoulder, "I know I make a nice pillow and all, and we're all snuggly comfy, but we do have to get up; things to do and all that."

"Mmmm, huh?" AppleJack sleepily asked before blinking and seeing where she was, "Sugah? What? Where? Oh tarnation, I've been rolling in mah sleep again huh?"

"I must say Apps, you make a delightful cuddle-buddy." Ryan teased again, ruffling her mane, "I dear say though, if your sister or Granny saw this I can only imagine how they'd take it. Hahaha."

"...don't remind me darlin'." AppleJack laughed into a sigh, her cheeks clearly taking on a red hue, "Wait...what was that?"

Turning towards the open doorway, the two saw nothing there but it had seemed like they were being watched; giving a shrug the two got up and headed downstairs for breakfast...only to note AppleBloom looking a little too happy.

"...that's not suspicious." Ryan joked as they sat down to eat, "AppleBloom, you seem pretty happy this morning."

"Why wouldn't I? I get to spend today learning about ya with mah friends and introducing them to ya!"

"Uh huh...alright then, I'll buy that for now."

"Now you treat Ryan right, ya hear me AppleBloom? Don't go causing trouble for him."

"So why are we going this way?" Ryan asked, following AppleBloom farther into the farmlands.

"We're meeting mah friends at our secret meeting spot."

"Secret meeting spot?"

"You'll see; it's where we, the Cutie Mark Crusaders, hold all our meetings."

Finally coming upon a large tree, Ryan looked up and could see a rather well-built tree house and quickly put two and two together.

"So that's yer clubhouse...hmmm, I hope it holds my weight."

"I'm sure it will, this tree has been here since my sister was a filly so it's nice and sturdy." AppleBloom reassured Ryan before leading him up the ramp and into the clubhouse, "Mah friends should be here soon so get comfy."

Well Ryan tried his best to get comfy, as it was he at least wasn't hitting the ceiling when he sat down and waited before he saw the two fillies from yesterday finally come in.

"Sorry we're late but Rarity needed a little extra help this morning working on her hue-man clothing." Sweetie Belle explained, "Oh, hey he's here already! Hi! I'm Sweetie Belle!"

"And I'm Scootaloo!"

"Haha, howdy to ya both. I'm Ryan...and what about Rarity? Do you live with her?"

"Sometimes I visit since I am her little sister; I like spending time with her when I can after all. I have to say though, I haven't seen her so fired up before."

"Heh, clearly she's quite thrilled to be making such unique clothing." Ryan laughed, "Anyway, you three goobers were snooping on me and the others yesterday so I can only imagine you have a lot of questions."

"You sure bet I do! What are hue-mans anyway? Why don't you have any hair other than that small mane?"

"Why do you always wear shoes? And your hooves? Why do they look like that?"

"Why are you so tall? And why do you only walk on two legs? And what's the deal with you and AppleBloom's sister?"

"Yeah! Why are you two so buddy-buddy? And make each other blush? And all that stuff?"

"Goodness me, so many questions." Ryan laughed, "Well, let's see if I can field them all: it's pronounced as 'hue-men' Scootaloo and well, you can see what a human looks like. As for my "mane" that's usually all the hair a human has on them save for some scattered here and there in places you can't see because I wear clothing. I wear shoes because my feet aren't protected enough to walk around without them; unlike your hooves, human feet aren't super durable. My hands, which are what these things are called, look like this because that's how humans are. We have hands with opposable thumbs."

"Oh yeah, Spike has things like that doesn't he?"

"That's right Sweetie Belle and humans are generally tall, I'm slightly over the average for guys so that's why I'm tall and well, I walk on two legs because that's how humans developed so that we walk on two legs and have our arms to handle other things; I suppose for a greater sense of range too. As for the last question....I'm not quite sure what yer getting at."

"Oh come on Ryan, I saw how well you two were getting along this morning." AppleBloom noted, nudging Ryan with her hoove, "And you two just seem to complement each other so well."

"As I suspected; Apps was right in sensing somebody spying on us. While I will admit I find her easy to be around and interact with, I'm afraid I still don't get what yer trying to hint at."

"The teasing and making each other blush...and the hat!"

"Scootaloo's right! Mah sister loves that hat and wouldn't let just anypony wear it ya know?"

"Really? Hmmm...maybe that's why Dashie was acting so weird when she saw me wearing it? But I still don't understand...are you trying to say what yer Granny suggested at about me and her?"

"I think we have a correct answer!" AppleBloom shouted, "Don't ya see? I've never seen mah sister get along with any guy as well as she does with you...there's something about her smile that just seems kinda different when she's around ya."

"Really? Hmmm....wait, you three aren't up to something are you?"

"What? Us? We're just a couple of young, innocent fillies, that's all." Scootaloo remarked, casually staring at her hoove and whistling, "What could we possibly do?"

"Hahaha, funny. I don't know if she'd think that way about me....I mean, I'm not even the same species. Though, I must admit I'm not sure how things like that are here so..."

"Spike isn't the same species as my sister, but he still has a big crush on her...and even told her so and she dotes on him quite a bit." Sweetie Belle explained, "Isn't it more about what's inside, in your heart that matters? The outside might be different but we're the same inside aren't we?"

"Fundamentally we are. Heh, just don't cause any trouble." Ryan sighed, smiling at the adorable little scamps, "And let things go naturally...I can't say I don't like how sweet she's been towards me, but if something is to develop, let it happens on its own accord."

"Yay! That sounds like permission to observe to me!" AppleBloom declared before glomping on to Ryan, "I'll be yer little sister fer real soon enough!"

"Awww...but I want to be his little sister; I bet he could teach me all sorts of cool stuff!" Scootaloo pouted before glomping Ryan as well.

"I guess being your little sister would be cool, and then I could totally have someone on my side when Rarity won't do things with me."

With that said, all three of the Cutie Mark Crusaders completely glomped Ryan forcing him to the floor amidst laughter and smiles from all involved until Ryan began ruffling everybody's mane before they finally let up.

"Goodness, you three are just as interesting as the others. Hmmm?" Ryan paused, noting a note poking out of his pocket, "What is this?"

"That Apps, being all sneaky and slipping me some money to treat you guys." Ryan laughed as he walked into town with the Cutie Mark Crusaders, "Ice Cream sound good?"

"Oh yeah! I love ice cream!" AppleBloom remarked from her position on his shoulders, "You guys have to give this a try sometime...it's so cool being so much taller than everypony!"

"Well I can fly...sort of...so I kind of know what that's like." Scootaloo added, though not very confidently, "...maybe later."

"Just one problem though?"

"What's that Ryan?"

"...where do you go for snacks in Ponyville?" Ryan sheepishly asked, "I am still learning the town after all so..."

"Oh, that's easy! If it's snack time we just have to go to Sugarcube Corner!" AppleBloom explained, grabbing Ryan's head and pointing him in the direction of what appeared to be a massive gingerbread house looking building, "I betcha Pinkie Pie can help us out with our ice cream wishes."

"Pinkie...she's that hyper-active one isn't she?"

"Yep; she kind of drives my sister and the others crazy but her smile is just so infectious you can't really be mad at her." Sweetie Belle noted, "...also, you might want to duck."

"Huh? Duck? What for?" Ryan asked, before seeing that pony from before come flying at him and making him swerve, "Ack! Derpy! Watch where yer flyin'!"

"Sorry! It's just I'm delivering mail and I'm so late!"

"Sheesh, that girl is a bit flighty huh? Anyway I'm guessing Pinkie Pie lives here? Not that I'd be surprised given how hyper she seems." Ryan joked before ducking down (so he wouldn't conk AppleBloom into the doorframe) and entering, "...hmmm, it's quiet."

Setting AppleBloom down, Ryan looked about before noting a bell and, giving a shrug, he tapped it...and then tapped it again.

"That ringing is quite pleasant." Ryan noted turning around to examine the store...before turning back around and seeing Pinkie Pie staring right at him, "Ack!"

"Oh my gosh! I didn't mean to startle you!" Pinkie shouted, rushing over to help Ryan off the ground, "Oh hey! It's you, the human dude! What brings you here Ryan? Oh! Oh! Oh! I bet I know, you came to see how your birthday party was going didn't you? Silly billy, you can't peep on that; how will it be a surprise if you know what's up?"

"...heh, so energetic." Ryan laughed, "No, I'm here with the CMC's explaining a few things about humans since they were curious and, well, AppleJack gave me a little spending money to treat them to some ice cream."

"Yeah! Ice cream! Whooooo!" The three Cutie Mark Crusaders shouted in unison.

"That's just perfect! I made a fresh batch of my signature ice cream this morning so you have to try it! You do you do!" Pinkie Pie rapidly nodded her head, bouncing all around Ryan, "Does that sound good everyone?"

"Yeah! Pinkie's mix is the tastiest!"

"Haha, looks like the crowd's spoken; make that five orders then."

"Hmmm? But there's only four of you I.....oooooooooh! You're asking me to join you guys! Okay! It's sort of, mini pre-party time then! I'll be right back!"

"So Pinkie, what, uhm, what is exactly in this ice cream?" Ryan asked, taking another spoonful of it, "I mean, don't get me wrong it's actually pretty tasty but I can't quite put my finger on everything I'm tasting..."

"Well Rysy-wysy, I can't really give away my secrets but it's full of all sorts of yummy things! It's nice to know human tastebuds enjoy them too if I ever get another chance to serve more than you!"

"Hmmm....I've got an awesome idea." Ryan remarked, walking over and picking up two chocolate chip cookies...at least they looked like chocolate chip cookies, "Okay!"

"Hey, what's the big guy doing?" Scootaloo asked, seeing him take a scoop of ice cream and plop it on to one of the cookies.

"Okay! He's experimenting! I like him already! Oh! Oh! Whatcha making?!" Pinkie Pie asked, leaning in to get a better look.

"Hmmm? Oh, it's just an ice cream sandwich. See?" Ryan explained, placing the other cookie on top and pushing them together, "I really shouldn't be doing this, since the sugar is so not good for somepony that's big like me but...I haven't had something so sweet in so long."

It was at this point Ryan noted the four ponies just staring at him like he'd created something absolutely amazing; after slowly finishing the bite he'd taken he just blinked before finally asking that all important question.

"...what? What is it girls?"

"THAT'S THE BEST IDEA EVER! Why haven't I ever thought of it?" Pinkie excitedly shouted, hopping up and getting cookies for herself and the CMC's, "This is a brilliant idea! We'll call them Ryan Sandwiches!"

"...uhm...maybe y'all should alter that name a bit."

"AppleBloom's right, if you want to credit me and sell them here then call them the Ryan Special." Ryan noted, watching as Pinkie practically inhaled hers, "...I take it you like them?"

"You bet I do! I seriously don't know why I didn't ever think to do that! I wonder what other amazing combinations you know of that I don't?!" Pinkie Pie twitched a bit, clearly hyper-charged by all the sugar, "Okay everypony, celebration dance!"

For a moment Ryan merely watched as Pinkie Pie began dancing and singing about how wondrous an ice cream sandwich was...but then he felt the infectiousness of her actions kicking in and before he knew it he was dancing right along with her, turning her song into a duet that was going all super well until they finished and Ryan saw AppleJack standing in the doorway, grinning widely and snickering.

"I see y'all got caught up in her random nature." AppleJack teased, "I was wondering if you'd be here Ry-Ry."

"Well, ya know, it was just kind of fun and....ahem! Anyway, yeah, I had a feeling you might come by after I find that well-placed note in my pocket. Haha, yer pretty sneaky Apps."

"Have to find ways to one-up ya in our little back and forth after all; yer a pretty clever fellah so I have to do what I can."

"As I can tell, then again when I have moments like this morning I think I get extra points in our little game." Ryan teased, watching AppleJack turn a light red again.

Now Pinkie Pie, being Pinkie Pie, had been watching this whole exchange quite curiously and had to wonder just what this little game was; when she saw AppleJack blush she started to get ideas in her head and grinned just a little too widely for Ryan's taste.

"Pinkie...that smile is just a smidge creepy." Ryan admitted, "What thought has those gears turning in that noggin of yours?"

"Oh nothing! Just more ideas for your awesome party that I'm totally not going to tell you about!" Pinkie explained, winking at AppleJack before looking panicked, "Oh goodness! Is it this time already? Sorry guys but I've got things to bake and work on! It was fun and don't worry, I'll get to work adding the Ryan Special to the menu!"

After saying goodbye to Pinkie, AppleJack and Ryan were left alone while the Cutie Mark Crusaders stated they had "very important business" to attend to...which Ryan could only see as their way of meddling without meddling.

"So I hope they haven't been too much of a handful."

"Naw Apps, nothing I couldn't handle." Ryan laughed softly, "Very curious fillies...and they have some interesting thoughts, but no harm done."

"That's a relief...just know if she ever gets out of hoove, she means well but she tends to let her lack of a cutie mark get to her."

"Hmmm, that at least means I deduced right. Her two friends didn't have one of those marks either so I guess they're crusading for them." Ryan noted, "Anyway Apps, what's up? I know you aren't the kind to come snooping like that."

"Maybe I was just worried about ya...especially after I told Pinkie about yer birthday being this month."

"At least that explains how she knew."

"Yeah, I kind of let it slip when I came to town earlier. You aren't mad are ya?"

"Naw, I'd wager whether I was there or not doesn't change how she reacted in the slightest." Ryan joked, "So why did you come by Apps?"

"Well, I bumped into Spike and he said that Twilight wanted to see ya; something about magic auras and the Princess? Spike seemed to be in a rush so he wasn't exactly clear but I guess she wants you to meet her at her place."

"Hmmm...curious...Princess? Oh yes, Celestia I think you said her name was? Well, I don't see what harm that could do to see what she wanted so let's make haste then, shall we? I have to say though, I seem to be getting less stares today than I did yesterday so I think everyone is getting used to me."

"See? I told ya all the folks here are pretty accepting...usually; of course it probably helps that they've seen you around us too."

"I wouldn't doubt that...you six seem to be pretty popular. The...Mane Six if you will."

"Darlin'...those puns of yours are just so awful, but heck if they don't make me laugh. Now come on, Twilight's probably pacing herself silly if I know her...and I do."

"Oh come on, I mean, I can see she's a bit of a worrier but she can't be that bad...."

"Okay, I take it back Apps, yer totally right on this one." Ryan remarked, noting a slightly frazzled looking Twilight pacing around a groove in her floor, "Uhm...Twi? What's, uh, what's on yer mind?"

"Oh! Good! Your here!" Twilight shouted, spazzing a bit, "Oh nothing much...just that the Princess wants us to meet her for an audience in Canterlot so she may meet the new visitor; she would come here but she doesn't have much free time at the moment so it's easier if we go see her."

"....and what's so worrisome about that? Sounds pretty simple to me."

"Simple!? I'm sure she'll ask me all sorts of stuff about you and that aura around you and I don't know ANYTHING!"

"Twilight....take a deep breath." Ryan commanded, walking over and gently petting her mane, "Relax....you're getting quite strung out and that's not good for your body."

"But...but...."

"Shhhh, look, I'm new here, an unknown as far as we know. From what little I gather, this Princess Celestia is pretty knowledgeable and powerful so if anypony would know something, it'd be her. I don't think she'd hold it against you that, in the two short days I've been here, you haven't had much chance to fully explore what's brought me here....or that weird aura surrounding me."

"I...I.....you're right." Twilight admitted, taking a deep breath and relaxing, "Perhaps I have been a bit crazy."

"Well tarnation, I ain't seen anyone manage to calm Twi down like that." AppleJack stated in stunned awe, "That's pretty darn impressive."

"Eh, I used to get like her in my younger years but eventually learned how to be mellow so that helps." Ryan laughed, "Anyway, did the Princess say when she wanted us to come visit?"

"She wants us to make our way to Canterlot in two days so I guess we all need to get packing." Twilight explained before pacing again, "Oh but what books do I need? And papers...and..."

"And there she goes again. As for packing, not like I have much to pack at the moment." Ryan sighed before noting Spike showing back up, "Oh, hey little buddy."

"Hey Ryan; Twilight still acting crazy?"

"Just a bit."

"Oh! That reminds me! Rarity bumped into me and asked that if I happened to see you to let you know she has some of your clothing ready. She seemed really eager to get you to her house so...probably best you get over there." Spike chuckled softly, "To be honest she doesn't look like she's been sleeping all that much so..."

"As Apps might say "Tarnation; I bet that don't make a heap of difference to you Spike.". Ya know, since you've got the hots for her." Ryan teased, watching Spike blink and AppleJack snicker at his impression, "Hmmm, purple, green, and red. Amusing."

"Gack! First you say you're gonna eat me and now you're teasing me over my love life...just go see Rarity...I've got help Twilight with her packing!"

"Hee, I've got to say you've got a real knack for making people blush Ry-Ry."

"Well Apps, I blush pretty easy too if ya haven't noticed." Ryan admitted before knocking on Rarity's door...and getting no answer, "Hmmm...should we just walk in?"

Seeing a shrug in reply, Ryan went ahead and opened the door and saw Rarity still at it, fabric and thread and all manners of things still going at it...despite the fact that she had apparently already gotten quite a bit done and had some of it sitting on what seemed to be vaguely human-shaped mannequins that he could only guess she'd put together somehow.

"Rarity....Raaaaaaarity~" Ryan stated, slowly increasing the volume until he finally got her attention, "Hi! Spike said you wanted to...whoa!"

"Oh yes darling; I just knew my Spikey-Wikey would get my message to you! Now come! I need you to try on some of the things I've made so I know I got the measurements right." Rarity noted, floating over a number of clothing choices and tossing them at him, "...hmmmm? I have a feeling it might be a bit improper if you didn't try them on in the changing room dearie."

"Well, yeah...I figured as much as well Rarity." Ryan laughed as he took the articles of clothing and headed into the changing room.

"I'm not sure why, but fer some reason I find this all amusing." AppleJack admitted, laughing when she heard Ryan grunting a bit as he tried to get something on.

"Are you alright in there darling?"

"Yes Rarity, just a little snug on the shorts but they fit fine." Ryan explained before pulling on a shirt, "Okay...hmmm? I like this..."

"Well don't be shy, come out and let me see how it looks on an actual human and not my off the cuff made mannequins." Rarity asked before seeing the changing room door open, "Goodness!"

"Well I'll be, you look like you belong on Sweet Apple Acres now Ry-Ry."

Ryan was wearing a dusty brown pair of cargo shorts that hung slightly below his knees, the pocket embroidered with a small logo that looked suspiciously like AppleJacks's cutie mark, a light orange shirt, and finally a short-sleeve red, white, and green checker plaid shirt to wear over it.

"...if I didn't know any better, I'd think you might be saying something quite similar to what a few other ponies stated Rarity." Ryan teased, "I do like it though; these shorts are much cooler than my jeans. The fabric is so soft too...but it feels really durable."

"I must say, for my first work on a human it looks quite dashing on you; I see what you meant by snug though...I could adjust the shirt if you like, shouldn't take much work." Rarity fawned over her work as she circled Ryan, "Does everything else fit well enough?"

"Naw, it's just an over-shirt so it's no big deal about resizing it; as far as I can tell everything else fits well enough...including the uhm, stuff you can't see." Ryan admitted, blushing slightly.

"Aw yes, your delicates." Rarity giggled, "Well, that's good to hear; while I don't quite understand fully why humans wear so much clothing I'm sure the reasons are sensible so I'm glad that I did well even on those. Now then, let me get a photo...do strike a pose dear!"

"Huh?" Ryan asked before gasping when he saw a flashbulb go off, "Oh, okay...you probably want shots to study...and for a fashion mag no doubt."

"Such a smart boy you are, now come on: show the camera some love!" Rarity began taking photos, all the while amused at the poses Ryan was coming up with, "Are you sure you haven't done this before Darling? You're a natural."

"Heh, posing is one of my favorite things to do...but mostly when it's for...JUSTICE!" Ryan remarked, striking a heroic pose and smirking, "Oh yeah!"

After about thirty minutes of Rarity getting her photos and Ryan trying on all manner of other clothing she'd managed to get done for him in this batch, Ryan was currently being assisted by AppleJack in carrying it back to the Farm.

"I tell ya sugah, I don't know how y'all convinced me to take part in a few shots as well." AppleJack sighed before grinning, "Still, you've got some nice moves in ya cowboy."

Ryan gave a laugh, amused that she seemed to like his newest outfit as well...and why wouldn't she, he thought, seeing as the colors matched her own natural ones quite well.

"Well, Rarity seemed to just be beaming about her exclusive material to send to her favorite magazine." Ryan laughed softly before winking at AppleJack, "Don't worry, I won't let them turn me into some high-falutin supermodel that forgets about all his friends and becomes a total jerkface."

"Ha, that'd be the day; I've only been around ya fer two days Ry-Ry but I can tell you aren't one to let things like that go to your head. I hope Rarity gets some sleep though, she seemed rather tired...and judging by this heap of clothing we're carrying back I'm wondering how much sleep she must've gotten."

"I don't know Apps, but I hope she rests up before our trip to meet the Princess. Is there anything I should know though?" Ryan asked as they finally arrived at the Farm, "I mean, I've never met a princess before so..."

"I wouldn't worry too much sugarcube, Princess Celestia is very nice and pleasant to be around; she is a Princess after all." AppleJack joked, "Well then, let's get these clothes of yers put away and then get to bucking!"

"Sounds like a plan to me Apps hun!"

And with that Ryan and AppleJack spent the rest of the afternoon as they had the previous one, harvesting the apples and putting them away all while enjoying each other's company and Ryan began to plan for his eventual meeting with what he could only guess was Equestria's ruler.

Even after another pleasant dinner with AppleJack's family, his mind was still going at it as it tended to do whenever he had something coming up that he was trying to prepare for.

"Ry-Ry, y'all should get to bed and stop thinking on it so much." AppleJack noted, yawning before flopping back on her side of the bed, "You don't want yer stress to give ya nightmares even with me keeping ya company do ya?"

Ryan took a moment to pause from his contemplating and turned to look at AppleJack before offering her a smile and nodding; with that he flopped into bed as well and gave a sigh.

"Okay, so maybe I'm not as mellowed about thinking on things as I might have said...but ya gotta admit: I'm still a lot more lax about it then Twilight is." Ryan joked, pleased to hear AppleJack giggling as well.

"Ain't that the truth sugah." AppleJack sighed, rolling and scooting over a little closer to Ryan, "Well, uhm...if'n you don't mind...."

"If I don't mind what, Apps?" Ryan asked with an amused look on his face, rather sure about what she was soon to ask.

"Well, ya know, seeing as how I'm just gonna toss and turn anyway...I was wondering if ya just wanted to cut out all the middle-pony nonsense and just, ya know..." AppleJack didn't know why she found it so hard to say this, so she just nuzzled her head to his chest, "...go ahead and end up in the position we'd be in anyway?"

"Hahaha, well with logic like that, how can I argue?" Ryan teased before getting settled and running his hand through her mane, "I suppose that makes sense...that way neither one of us wakes the other, right?"

"Yeehaw...I-I mean I knew you'd understand." AppleJack quickly sputtered out before relaxing, "Can ya reach the lamp?"

"Of course." Ryan quietly replied, reaching over and turning it off before gently caressing her mane, "Heh, yer lucky yer such a sweet southern gal otherwise I don't think I'd let ya get away with being so cute."

"Somehow...I find that...hard to believe...sugarcube." AppleJack yawned, slowly talking before being lulled to sleep by Ryan's caressing, "Night..."

"Heh, goodnight Apps."

With that Ryan closed his eyes and did his best to relax his mind so that he too could get some needed sleep.

Two days had come and gone rather peacefully as far as Ryan was concerned; without anyone (anypony? He still felt odd using the local vernacular but figured that since it was what most people understood he probably should make a habit of getting into it) asking any extra questions and things being pretty quiet (save for Rainbow Dash's occasional "checking in" on him and making the same curious remarks), he was rather relaxed due to the normalcy of just living life on a farm.

"Of course, that's about to all get flipped and turned upside down with me heading to a new city where no one knows about me." Ryan sighed, hefting the bag AppleJack had lent him as they stepped on to the train, "...I suddenly now know how an Apple Turnover must feel."

"Ry-Ry, y'all gotta stop with them strange metaphors and puns."

"Oooh! Does that mean you taste like one too?!" Pinkie excitedly asked, licking Ryan's cheek and shaking her head, "Oh darn, you just taste like...I guess how a human tastes."

"...Pinkie...why...why did you lick me?" Ryan sighed, shaking his head and wiping his cheek off on his shirt, "Goodness, remind me to not make any more food metaphors around you."

"Okie-dokie-smokie!"

"...anyway, let's get on-board and settled as the train is about to pull out." Twilight stated, slightly less twitchy than she was two days ago, "Everyone's got their own room....well, except for Ryan; you're going to have to share with AppleJack. I hope that's okay. This isn't usually a problem when it's just the six of us...but AppleJack assures me that you should be "plenty fine" with that arrangement, whatever that's supposed to mean."

"Oh I'm sure that won't be a problem for the big guy." Rainbow Dash teased, elbowing Ryan, "Him and AJ have been getting pretty buddy-buddy after all....just don't cause trouble."

"Again with the trouble thing...why can't you be like the others and just accept I'm not here to start some kind of destructive event?" Ryan sighed before smirking at her, "Or could it be that you only tease me because you like me Dashie? Heh."

" What? Wipe that ridiculous smirk off your face! And....that's ridiculous! You can't even fly!"

"Neither can four of your friends...."

"Okay, but...still...that's just a stupid idea and totally isn't cool in the least. You'd have to be at least twenty percent cooler for such a thought like that to even exist....which it totally doesn't! Ack! I can't take this, I'm gonna go crash in my room!"

With that Rainbow Dash ran off into her room, slamming the door behind her and causing the others to jump a bit.

"Hmmm, was it something I said everypony? I didn't mean to make her upset, I just meant to tease her back." Ryan frowned slightly.

"Oh darling, it's not your fault; we can all tell she does like you but Rainbow Dash has always been a bit stubborn." Rarity explained, patting his shoulder, "You shouldn't worry too much about it, she'll come around eventually."

"...hmmm, it's odd but she's kind of acting like how I did about my crush on Rarity before I came out and told others about it." Spike mumbled mostly to himself, "...I wonder."

"Really? I would've thought it ran on coal-t power." Ryan remarked, "Eh? Eh?"

"I...I'm afraid I don't get it." Fluttershy timidly replied.

"Well the train runs on coal right?"

"...yes."

"And so a type of horse is a colt, right?"

"...yes."

"So then shouldn't it run on coal-t power?"

"Oooooooooh.....I'm sorry, I still don't get it." Fluttershy quietly replied, "I tend to be immune to the form of humor known as puns."

"Unfortunately for us, sugarcube, we're not; Ry-Ry...that was a completely awful pun." AppleJack sighed, shaking her head, "You must be bored..."

"No, not completely but sort of...I made puns all the time back home though so I'm just a little rusty with this being a new world and all but don't worry, I'll be back in the saddle soon enough!" Ryan barely got out before laughing himself silly.

"Ugh, even I feel that was a terrible pun." Spike groaned, face-palming quite intensely.

"Really? I thought it was just super funny!" Pinkie Pie added, giggling before poking Ryan, "Another pun, come on!"

"What am I? A pun machine?" Ryan joked, "Creative genius takes time, it can't always be on the spot."

"...but wasn't that last pun you made just off the cuff?" Twilight asked, trying not to let her brain explode from Ryan's brand of humor.

"Yeah, you've got a point but I'm not really trying; we are just horsing around after all."

"Yay! He made another really bad one...that makes it even funnier!" Pinkie admitted, rolling about in laughter.

"....as much as I love hearing you fashion one pun after another darling, my poor head just can't take anymore. Could you find it possible to put a halt to it for now? Perhaps we could partake in some lunch?" Rarity asked, overdramatically swooning and flopping on to her seat.

"Hahaha, very well Rarity; I will hold my tongue in those regards for now...as I'm sure everypony here (except maybe Pinkie Pie) is grateful to hear." Ryan conceded, "Besides, lunch sounds pretty awesome."

And a good lunch they had indeed, though Ryan seemed a bit distracted in his thoughts as he glanced out the window as they traveled down the train tracks.

"Something on your mind Ryan?"

"Oh, just trying to figure out more things about your world Twilight." Ryan replied, "It's interesting that you have steam engines for your trains...I would've expected something closer to electric ones given the fact that you guys clearly have a system for electricity in place since you have things like lamps and refrigerators and such."

"...what kind of engines do they use in your world?"

"Well most trains I know of in the human world, save for those steam ones that are on heritage tracks, run on either diesel or electricity. I can only imagine that there are factors at work that haven't made either of those viable options. Then again, who's to say the coal you burn in your engines is as bad as the coal on my Earth and there isn't some magic involved. It's curious, for me it's almost like adjusting as if I've gone back in time a few decades." Ryan mused before noting most of them were just giving him some confused, blank looks, "Sorry...my contemplative self tends to get a little long-winded. Haha."

"Interesting...I wonder if the Princess has ever thought about that." Twilight mused, the only one actually curious about talking more with him, "Is there anything else about your world that we don't have?"

"Well I've noticed a distinct lack of planes."

"Plains? But there's like some many of them here!" Pinkie Pie chimed in.

"I know about plains, like the grassy ones..." Fluttershy added, "Are...are they different?"

"Haha, yeah, the planes I'm talking about are spelled p-l-a-n-e-s. They're devices humans came up with to fly."

"WHAT?" Rainbow Dash gasped, running over and staring at Ryan, "Fly? You? Hahahahaha! That's crazy!"

"Says the rainbow-hair Pegasus pony that would be called the same thing in my world." Ryan retorted, smirking at Rainbow Dash, "Basically they were large metal...uhm... I guess ships with engines on them that generated a lot of lift. That's probably the easiest way to explain them to y'all."

"Ooooooooh!" Twilight remarked, her eyes sparkling as she tried to picture this "plane" device, "This sound curiously like airships but they aren't are they?"

"We have those as well, but they're more used for local travel and events, so okay, you've got those. Interesting." Ryan mused, "Hmmmm...."

"Okay, so even if you did have a way to fly...were they fast?" Rainbow Dash asked, "I doubt it."

"Hmmmm...let's see, it's convenient you use pretty much the same measurement system as on my Earth so I think I can sum it up this way from my own experiences flying in them....which, by the way, is a bit of scary experience. Turbulence is not fun." Ryan remarked, "I could travel a distance of 3,000 miles (which is basically from one end of the country I lived in to the other) in about five and a half hours. And that's just a commercial flight, some of the military jets and stuff have been clocked at like 2,000 miles per hour or so. I think that's like Mach three-ish..."

"Hmmm, those things sound awful fast; I wonder if they'd be giving you a run for yer money Rainbow Dash."

"As if AppleJack! Some stupid machine couldn't ever be as fast as me, let alone when I pull off my Sonic Rainboom!" Rainbow Dash scoffed, "Then again, I guess he hasn't ever seen me pull one of those off."

"Well, I know what a Sonic Boom is but what's this Sonic Rainboom?" Ryan asked, "I must admit Dashie, you've got me curious."

"It's only the coolest thing ever!" Pinkie butted in, pushing Rainbow Dash aside, "RD gets all super fast and charged, the air electrifies around her, and then she lets out this awesome boom! And then she goes super, duper fast! Zooooom! And even leaves not only a rainbow trail in her wake, but also sends a rainbow wave in all directions from where she set it off!"

"Heh, well, I would've explained it cooler than that but Pinkie got the gist of it explained." Rainbow Dash remarked, rubbing her hoove against her chest and smirking smugly.

"Impressive. You'll have to show me this one day Dashie."

Ryan stood up and stretched, having realized he'd been sitting for quite some time and groaned a bit at hearing his joints pop before he sat back down.

"So how much longer is this trip going to take anyway? Not that I'm in a hurry, just curious." Ryan asked, glancing and seeing Rarity had apparently fallen asleep after lunch, "...I guess that explains why she's been quiet; I imagine she needs her sleep though after working herself crazy to make me some new clothing."

"Well, to answer your question Ryan it'll take about a day; sometimes it takes less but that's usually when we take the express train." Twilight explained, "That particular one only runs once a week though so, given when the Princess wanted us to show up, we had to take the regular one."

"Well, I always did want to take a train trip with friends...not how I pictured it would happen but I'm having fun all the same." Ryan laughed before smirking at Rainbow Dash, "Even if Dashie is still grilling me about being a human."

"Wha! I'm not grilling anypony, I'm just...being careful and all that stuff...stupid Ryan."

"Hahahaha, so predictable. Your reaction is pretty cute though Dashie." Ryan teased, clearly intent on making red the more dominant color of Dash's rainbow.

"C-cute? I'm not supposed to be cute! I'm supposed to be awesome! Twenty percent more awesome! I...I need some air!"

With that Rainbow Dash ran off towards one of the other cars to "get some air", all while Ryan couldn't help but laugh along with the others.

"Tarnation, y'all just get a kick outta teasing poor RD don'tcha Ry-Ry?"

"Well Apps, I figure if she's gonna have some fun with me, I might as well have some fun back."

The rest of the evening went smoothly enough and before long everypony had retired to their room for the night, though not without some friendly teasing towards Ryan about the fact he was sharing a room with AppleJack.

"Heh, the others were really teasing me something fierce weren't they Apps?" Ryan joked as he lay there in the darkness.

"Well, Rainbow Dash wasn't exactly lying when she said we've been getting buddy-buddy." AppleJack quietly added with a giggle, "Besides, it's all good natured teasing."

"Oh, I know that...I'm just a shy southern boy deep down after all."

"Darlin', it's always so weird when you slip back into that accent; is that natural for ya or is yer normal voice yer regular accent?"

"I was wondering if you were ever going to ask about that; while I do in my normal voice have that slight inflection, I can enhance it when necessary for effect." Ryan explained, "It doesn't bother ya when I do does it Apps?"

"Nope, just wondering Ry-Ry. Now come on...we've gotta get to bed; you've got a big day tomorrow meeting the princess."

"That's right." Ryan yawned before assuming the cuddle position he and AppleJack had gotten quite fond of, "...heh, something tells me this has nothing to do with rolling around in your sleep anymore Apps."

"Oh shush...y'all just relax and get to resting."

Ryan couldn't help but laugh at the content smirk on her face that showed her true feelings as he closed his eyes and slowly slipped into the realm of sleep.

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