• Published 25th Aug 2013
  • 10,163 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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5th Harvest

The sun slowly filtered through the windows as it rose the next morning, it's bright light drifting into Ryan's face and slowly rousing him from his deep sleep; opening his eyes slowly he noted his shirt seemed to be missing but it wasn't far as it was draped over AppleJack who he was currently hugging close to him.

All of a sudden a headache made itself known and that's when he caught sight of the empty ZAP-Applecider bottle that Apps had broken out last night after quite a few minutes of intense making out (apparently AppleJack really liked this whole kissing thing); while he didn't usually drink, she assured him he'd be fine if they split the bottle.

He was still resistant, but after batting those gorgeous green eyes of hers and saying she'd been saving this for a special occasion as apparently Zap-Apples, whatever those were, only grew every so often and that they were notoriously hard to get a good cider out of; as it was the bottle she had she'd been letting age for quite some time and so he conceded and soon enough the bottle had been drained as they laughed and joked (and made out some more) before finally curling up together and happily passing out in each other's arms.

"Ugh...I seriously believe this is the first time I've ever had a hangover. Protip Ry, they suck." He groaned, closing his eyes and nuzzling AppleJack's neck to try and distract his aching noggin, "Mmmm, what a birthday though."

"...got a headache sugah?"

"Mmm, yeah..." Ryan groaned, kissing her neck and pulling closer, "I told ya I don't drink, so I'm not surprised this happened."

"Hee, mah Apple Ryder can't hold his cider." AppleJack teased, "Well, we aren't in a rush; we can sleep it off a bit."

"We? Heh, so I'm not alone in my agony am I?"

"Well...I told ya it's been aging for a while; I reckon I underestimated it just a bit." AppleJack admitted, wrapping her forelegs around Ryan's arm, "Now shhh...that bottle is making enough noise as it is."

"Tell me about it..." Ryan sighed before closing his eyes and falling back asleep along with AppleJack.

As they were snoozing, the other members of their group were finally waking up themselves after having crashed in the barn; after Ryan and AppleJack had left the party had gotten a bit crazy and gone quite a while into the night.

"Ugh...I can't remember the last time a party went on for that long here." Rainbow Dash yawned, "...mmm...what am I laying on that's so soft and warm?"

"Uhm..that...that would be me." Fluttershy remarked, "After you got into a cupcake eating contest with Pinkie Pie, you flew around declaring you were the Ultimate Rainbow Heroine, latched on to me crying about..."

"About what?" She asked, rolling off of Fluttershy and looking at her curiously, "What was I crying about? Not that, ya know, I cry or anything!"

"Oh well..you made me promise not to tell, but it made it clear to me you're still aching a bit about things." Fluttershy suddenly went quiet, "I hope that didn't give it away."

"...hmmm, I see; well, speaking of our favorite human and AJ, where the heck are those two?"

"Oh, well, I only know because I saw AppleBloom and her friends coming back and they said that those two were not to be disturbed? Something like that...they were all blushing so, I'm not sure what happened."

"I see...are the others up yet?" Rainbow Dash gave a huff, dusted herself off, then waited for Fluttershy to do the same.

"Oh yes, they're just outside getting some air; they were wondering where the birthday boy wandered off to but when they heard he was with Apps they just smiled and stopped worrying." Fluttershy raised a hoof to her face and frowned, "I'm still not really sure why they smiled though...I mean, I guess it's because those two seem to get along rather well..."

"Fluttershy..."

"So maybe he just wanted some private time with her...but what would that mean?"

"Fluttershy!"

"Eeep!"

"Sheesh, relax...look, let's just go see the others and then go find the big guy and AJ."

"No, no...this is wrong...all so very wrong."

The girls gave a pause as they (along with the Cutie Mark Crusaders who had decided to tag along) heard what sounded like Ryan's voice groaning in agony nearby.

"...that doesn't sound good."

"Or does it Twilight!"

"...Pinkie, no...it doesn't."

"Darlin', what's the matter?"

"Hey, that was AJ...what the heck is going on in there!? Come on!" Rainbow Dash quickly dashed ahead and flew right into the clubhouse before seeing a rather shaken up Ryan being comforted by AppleJack, "What happend? We heard Ryan groaning really loud and...."

"It's alright sugarcube, Ry-Ry just was having a pretty bad dream from the sound of things; I think it might've been the cider to be honest." AppleJack explained as the others caught up with Rainbow Dash, "Well, h-howdy y'all...y'all come out here to find us or something?"

"...hey, he does have more fur!" Scootaloo remarked, "It's all patchy though..."

"I told ya so; he's just always covered up with them fancy clothes and such."

"AppleBloom, y'all shouldn't be telling other ponies things like that." AppleJack sighed before patting Ryan's shoulder again, "You okay sugah?"

"Yeah, what happened?" Twilight asked, walking over and seeing the clear look of horror on Ryan's face, "Whatever you were dreaming about must have been awful..."

"All wrong, all wrong..." Ryan muttered, rocking back and forth a bit, "Highschool...oddly colored...not ponies...eating bacon...so lost...so trapped...."

"Darling, whatever are you talking about?" Rarity asked, clearly perplexed by his words.

"....a world that nopony should know." Ryan muttered again, "Thank goodness Luna was there to help soften the shock some...I must send her a letter of thanks."

"Sounds like yer coming out of it hon." AppleJack remarked, kissing him on the cheek before he stood up, "Don't scare me like that!"

"I didn't mean to Apps, but...it was a bit scary because I thought I'd lost ya...all of ya...because it just seemed so real." Ryan explained, shaking his head to clear his mind, "Let's just not speak of it again..."

Ryan paused for a moment before tilting his head; for some reason Rainbow Dash was snickering and the others (save for the CMC's) were blushing quite a bit as they looked at him and, for the life of him, he couldn't figure out why.

"What's wrong with y'all? Why are ya blushing like that?"

"Uhm, Ryan...while I can pretty much guess why you two went off on your own, uhm...." Twilight tried to explain, though her tongue was tied.

"Dude, you've got hoof prints all over your chest!" Spike remarked, walking over to Ryan and grinning, "So then...I guess you two finally made it official huh?"

"Huh?" Ryan quietly mumbled before looking at the clear marks on his chest, "Oh sweet Celestia...has anyone seen my shirt?"

"Oh relax! Hee, it's not like anypony didn't see this coming you know!" Pinkie admitted, winking at Ryan, "To be honest, it looks like I lost the pool! Oh well, that's okay."

"...pool? What?" Ryan asked, before looking at the grinning Spike who was holding his fist out towards him, "Hmmm?"

"Come on man! You helped me win the pool! Just think of the gems I can get with all those bits!" Spike proudly declared, shouting in excitement when Ryan returned his fist bump.

"Wait, wait, wait....so...y'all were betting on when Ry and I would finally make a...a move?"

"I know, it's not something we should've done but...Pinkie and the CMC's all got the idea in their head and...." Twilight bit her lip and looked at the ground, "I guess my curiosity got the best of me..."

"...even I got wrapped up in this darling; I feel so ashamed now."

Ryan wasn't sure what to think, but he was a little perplexed at something.

"You too Flutters?"

"Oh uhm, I...." Fluttershy gasped, hiding behind Rainbow Dash, "I well...I just...it sounded fun and...Rainbow Dash told me it'd be okay and..."

"Fluttershy!"

"Oh! Sorry Rainbow Dash."

Ryan looked about for a moment and pulled on his shirt before tapping his foot as he thought.

"You aren't mad, are you darling? I can understand if you are though..."

"...no, I'm not upset Rarity. If anything, I'm surprised; surprised mostly though that only Spike made the right guess. I mean, my birthday just seems so obvious." Ryan laughed warmly, smiling at everypony, "A month of us getting all buddy-buddy...to be honest, I had a feeling Apps might take her chance last night and by golly was I right!"

"Yep! That's why I won! It was elemanetery once I thought on it!" Spike added, nodding his head, "Twilight thought it too obvious though, so she figured it'd be another month before anything happened."

"Okay little dude, that was an awesome pun!" Ryan laughed loudly, "Well done! On a more serious note though...I'm kind of glad nopony seems to have an issue with, ya know, me and mah Apps officially dating."

"Tarnation, why would anypony? Y'all both make each other happy."

"Ha, while that is true little sis, I can't say I wasn't just a bit worried."

"Shucks Ry-Ry, ya shouldn't be fretting over something like that." AppleJack remarked, pushing up on to her hind legs and glomping him from behind, "Mah friends aren't like that."

"AppleJack is right, it definitely eases up some tension I've noted now that it's been settled."

"I guess so Twilight, but I'm still watching him!" Rainbow Dash declared, "If you break AJ's heart...I'll break you."

"Sheesh, relax Dashie; I've no intention of doing that." Ryan remarked, smirking as he spun around to kiss AppleJack, "Not when this just feels so right."

"Mah stars sugah, you'll make a gal swoon doing that so suddenly." AppleJack teased, relinquishing her hug on him, "...."

"Hmmm?" Ryan remarked, noting everypony just kind of staring at the fact that he and Apps kissed, "Oh, well...uh...uhm..."

"Huh, so that's how it works. Makes sense to me."

"Woooo! That was all "whoosh!" and romantic!"

"Oh my...."

"You certainly are smooth darling."

"I'll have to take notes; you seem to know what to do."

"Heh, eh maybe little dude." Ryan replied to Spike's comment, but he noticed all but one person (not counting the CMC's who were a bit busy blushing to say anything) had commented.

"....." Rainbow Dash still clearly had ache apparent in her face, but she forced a smile, "Okay, just treat her right alright?"

"I will Dashie, I will. So then...seeing as we slept in quite a bit." Ryan remarked, looking at his watch, "Oh wow...anypony up for lunch for then?"

And it was soon that all of Ponyville knew about the newest couple, but as the girls relayed to him nopony really seemed to care; a few gave odd looks about it but otherwise didn't seem to be too bothered.

As he was soon to find out, one in particular seemed to be kind of stalking him; he hadn't seen her before but apparently she was very interested in humans for some reason or another and it was on this day, while he was watching the Cutie Mark Crusaders play in the park that she finally took the chance to talk to him.

Ryan, for his part, had sat down after chasing the three little fillies all around the park and wearing himself out; taking a break to rest he was currently looking over the local paper and seeing what news was going on.

'Hmmm, they're calling for an early winter? How...wait, they actually mean a literal early call. I...I guess if I hadn't seen Rainbow Dash knocking away clouds and stuff before I'd be more perplexed.' He thought before feeling someone sit down next to him, 'Hmmmm...'

The pony in particular that had sat down next to him was of a vivid, light blue, almost minty color; a unicorn he noted, who seemed to be emulating the way he sat almost to a tee.

'Odd.' He thought before seeing her note he was looking, "Oh, hi."

"Hi." She replied, watching as he gave her a wave and seemingly being super focused on his fingers, "..."

"...okay." Ryan quietly stated, turning back to the paper but catching her staring out of the corner of his eyes, "...can...I'm sorry but can I help you?"

"Oh I....well...I've just..."

"I'm Ryan by the way, but I have a feeling you know that."

"Yes, yes...how couldn't I? Haha, uhm, my name is Lyra."

Smirking and raising an eyebrow, Ryan took her offered hoove but noticed she seemed reluctant to let go.

"Uhm...can I have mah hand back?"

"Oh! Right...I'm...sorry!"

"Look, Lyra...what's going on?" He asked, folding his newspaper, "You seem a bit...distracted."

"Oh well, it's just that...I've kind of wanted to talk to you for a long time and, well, you were finally all by yourself and not with your girlfriend or other friends so..."

"Sooooo?"

"Well, I...I knew about humans before you came; I've been kind of fascinated with them actually but all the other ponies thought I was nuts." Lyra explained with a laugh, "Especially since I tended to imitate a lot of their mannerisms and such."

"Like how I'm sitting?" He teased with a laugh.

"Heh, yes, that. And then...well, I heard about you showing up and couldn't believe it."

"Well, not to sound like Dashie, but I am pretty unbelievable."

This got a laugh out of Lyra and caused her to kick her feet back and forth since the way she was sitting left them hanging over the edge of the bench.

"You're pretty funny huh? I guess that's why everyone really likes you...and why AppleJack was so taken with you."

"Heh, well, I suppose I have my good qualities. Anyway, you were saying?"

"Oh right! Sorry. When I heard you had shown up I didn't believe it but then...I saw you in town one day with those three fillies, the cute one with the red mane up on your shoulders and you were holding her steady with those hands of yours."

"My...hands?" Ryan asked, lifting one up and staring at it, "What's so amazing about mah hands?"

"What isn't?!" Lyra shouted, suddenly taking his right one between her hooves and looking at it, "I mean, it's so much more handy than a hoove; you've got those fingers that can grab and all that awesome stuff! And you're so tall and just the way you look...I never thought I'd see the day when a human actually would show up though." Lyra paused for a moment before noting she did it again and let go of his hand, "...I'm sorry; this crazy interest in humans is what's annoyed a lot of my friends to begin with so...I'm sure to an actual human it isn't fun."

"Heh, hey now, no need to get so down Lyra. I don't mind sharing any info if ya want, but maybe next time you talk with me ahead of time about a meeting."

"You mean that?"

"Well, I'll try to make the time to answer your curiosity; I can't say I'm not curious mahself as to how you knew about humans when so many other ponies didn't." Ryan explained, "So, just send me a note when ya wanna talk and I'll work it out with ya."

"Awesome!" Lyra shouted, "Oh, oh...can we do that high-five thing? I mean, I know I don't have fingers but...we could pretend!"

"Hahaha, you are a curious pony but okay." Ryan replied, slapping his flat hand against her hoof, "Anyway, I can hear Lil' Sis calling fer me so see ya later Lyra."

"Bye." She replied, watching him leave and then staring at her hoof, "...Eeeeeee! I high-fived an actual human....huh?"

Lyra had been broken from her staring when she heard Ryan call her name, looking up to where he was she saw he'd turned around and grinned before giving her a thumbs-up; seeing that she promptly squeed again before hearing him laugh and then run off towards the CMCs.

The month slowly passed, and Ryan was a bit busy helping buck the apples as apparently it was almost cider season...which certainly reminded him of that memory of sharing the Zap-Applecider with Apps.

AppleJack had laughed when he asked if the regular cider they made would have the same effect on him and she assured him the regular brew they made and sold was much tamer, so much so that they were even able to sell it to the little fillies; well, that fact seemed to help energize him further as he became a bit of a machine.

In fact, between him, Big Mac, and AppleJack combined they were able to harvest more apples for cider making then they had in a long, long time...which was good as what was about to happen would make that fact very helpful.

"Alrighty, just a few more trees." Ryan huffed, squaring back and kicking another one hard, "Phew...I'll say this much, my legs are freaking machines now after all this bucking."

"Eyup!"

"Macintosh is right, you're easily keeping on pace with us Ry-Ry." AppleJack added, hefting up another basket of apples, "Okay, that's mah last one for the day; you boys get yer last trees harvested and then we'll get these washed off for tomorrow's cider production."

"Sounds good, right bro?"

"Eyup!" Big Mac replied, rearing back and kicking his last tree...and bending it a little, "Uh, whoops."

"Heh, whoops indeed; sheesh dude." Ryan laughed softly, "Remind me to never get you upset; I'd probably get kicked clear to Canterlot if I did."

"Funny."

"Aw, you know it is."

"Nope!" Big Mac replied, but his grin showed he felt otherwise.

"Mah humor is impeccable. Yer just jealous because...." And that's all Ryan got out before he kicked his last tree and felt an unbearable pain rocket up his leg, "Oh damn!"

"...Eh?" Big Mac noted, hearing the swear quite clearly and turning to see Ryan flat on the ground, "Ryan?"

"Ugh....damn, that hurt bro." Ryan grunted, grabbing his ankle and rolling it slowly, "It doesn't feel like anything is broken. That's good."

"Eyup!"

"Heh, yeah but...." Ryan slowly leaned against the tree and stood back up, but putting any weight on the ankle sent a burst of pain through it, "....I sprained it or something; I can't put any weight on it for now."

"Here." Big Mac motioned, gesturing towards his back, "I'll help."

"Heh, thanks bud." Ryan groaned, limping over and grabbing hold of Big Mac, "Heh, go figure I hurt mahself on the last tree."

"Eyup."

As the two limped slowly back towards the farmhouse (as the trees they were on were quite a distance away given how hard the three of them had been working), things were silent for a bit, but then Ryan had a thought he hadn't really thought on in the last two weeks since he started dating AppleJack officially.

"Hey Big Mac."

"Yup?"

"I know most ponies don't seem to mind, and actually are supportive, but I don't think ya ever told me what yer thoughts are on me dating yer younger sister."

"Well, to be perfectly honest, that first night ya came home I was a little curious as to what ya were, but I was with our grandma and didn't see any reason to get all bent out of shape and just welcomed ya to our home." Big Mac explained, surprising Ryan by how well-spoken he truly was, "And ta be honest, after that first night I saw the twinkle in mah sister's eyes whenever she'd look at ya or talk about ya; I'm old enough to know what that meant and then when I saw that look in yer eyes as well? Heh, well I didn't think it'd take long before you two hit it off."

"Wow...that means a lot to me. Also, I think that's the most words you've ever said to me in the whole time I've been living here at Sweet Apple Acres."

"Haha, well, I only talk when I need ta after all."

"I like that, you'll make a good brother."

"Eyup!"

"...and from what I can tell, you feel the same way."

"Eyup! You'll treat her right, of that I can tell....otherwise you'll be getting an express trip to Canterlot."

"Ahhhhh, see! I knew you liked mah joke!" Ryan noted, sharing a hearty laugh with Big Mac as they finally pulled up to the farmhouse.

"There y'all are I..." AppleJack started to say before seeing Ryan leaning on Big Mac and going wide-eyed, "Mah Apple Ryder! What happened?"

"Oh, thanks Granny; that ice feels good." Ryan sighed, placing the ice pack on his ankle as he sat, "I guess I won't be bucking for a few days everypony...sorry."

"Hey now sonny, part of being a good farmer is knowing yer limitations; you won't do anypony any good if ya try to work on a hurt leg and then get even more injured." Granny Smith noted with a nod.

"Granny's right; ya just gotta heal up big bro."

"Eyup!"

"Don't worry Ry-Ry, we've got more than enough apples harvested so just rest that ankle. You've helped plenty."

"I know, I just...I don't like feeling useless." Ryan frowned, before AppleJack walked over and kissed him, "Apps..."

"Now don't ya ever say anything like that about yerself, okay? Yer far from useless mah Apple Ryder; besides, there's other stuff to help with in terms of making our cider, as you'll see, so you'll still be able to help out."

"Heh, thanks. I'm lucky to have a family like y'all."

"Awwww!" AppleBloom giggled and hopped into his lap to hug him, "I'm glad yer here with us too!"

"Eyup!"

"Yer certainly an Apple family member as far as I'm concerned sonny." Granny Smith added, patting him on the head, "Now then, I've gotta go make a super duper dinner so we can get ya healed up and feeling like yerself again."

"Eyup! Come on AppleBloom, let's go help Granny."

"Awww...oh, okay."

With that, Ryan and AppleJack were left alone with one another; seeing Ryan scoot over on the couch she took his offer and sat down next to him before leaning on his shoulder.

"Heh, leave it to mah big strong guy to get himself hurt on the last tree."

"Yeah, yeah, I know; Big Mac was laughing with me about that too." Ryan joked, putting his arm around her and nuzzling her mane, "Mmmmmm."

"Hee, it's nice to see yer ankle hasn't affected yer cuddle abilities."

"Goober."

"As Big Mac would say, 'Eyup'. I can't help it though." She giggled softly, "I am just a sweet southern belle that loves her shy southern boy after all."

"Oh, right in my blushing." Ryan laughed softly, feeling his cheeks heat up, "Turning mah words on me I see."

"Well mah Apple Ryder, all's fair in love and war right? And we ain't a-feuding so this must be love."

"Apps~"

With that AppleJack stretched out with her head in his lap as he caressed her mane and just enjoyed a simple moment with his gal; a short while later they heard the call for dinner and so they headed into the dining room, AppleJack helping Ryan limp his way there before they all settled down to a nice, home cooked meal with family.

"Hmmm, so that's part of the secret of why your cider is so talked about huh?"

"Yep; it's a close-kept secret so don't go spreading it around."

"Heh, now why would I do a silly thing like that Apps?" Ryan asked, capping off another barrel of cider, "...I know ya said this stuff is tame, but it still smells strong to me. I suppose that's just the secret ingredient."

"Eyup!"

"Ugh..." Ryan groaned softly, still feeling his ankle grumbling at him as he rolled the barrel over with the others, "I just wish I could do more than cap the barrels and help sort the apples. If I could help run with Big Mac we'd be churning out so much more."

"Relax Sonny, with yer help we're ahead of schedule this year with our harvesting so quit fretting." Granny Smith remarked, looking over the apples and making small noises as she picked out the best ones.

"I know Granny; I guess I am still helping....oof!" Ryan grunted when he felt somepony hop on his back, "...lil sis, what are you doing?"

"Just trying ta cheer ya up with a hug...is it working?"

"Hahaha, I suppose it is; now come on, let's keep on moving and make enough cider for everypony!"

And continue on they did, processing cider almost nonstop for the next week; even though Ryan still felt hampered by his injury, AppleJack was always quick to remind him that having his extra set of hands (she actually used the word hands, even though she said it felt mighty weird to say) around meant that they were always ahead of schedule.

Thus, it was with great fanfare, that early one morning he and Big Mac helped roll out all the barrels and get them set up while the others readied the tap and booth; Ryan had to do a bit of a double take however at seeing the long line of ponies that had apparently camped out for the cider.

"Dang, I didn't know the family cider was this popular." He laughed softly before noting the first tent was abnormally pink, "...or I think, mayhaps, that a certain pink pony is at work here."

"Oh! Oh! Oh! Did I hear someone say pink? And in a certain silly-willy human's voice?" Pinkie shouted, unzipping her tent and dashing at Ryan, "It is!"

"Ack!" He sighed, going down once again, "Can't...can't ya say hi normally to me just once Pinks?"

"Who wants normal Rysy-wysy? This way is so much more fun! Anyway! I know how in demand the cider is and thought I'd camp out! So when a bunch of other ponies heard about that they decided to do it too!"

"OH COME ON!"

Turning to the sudden outcry of rage, Ryan saw Dashie looking quite annoyed as she fluttered about near the front of the line; clearly she had not anticipated this many ponies camping out in line.

"If I don't get any cider this year I'm gonna explode!"

"Oh, oh! Are you gonna do it twice?!" Pinkie asked, hopping off of Ryan and back to her spot by her tent.

"...you can explode twice?" Fluttershy asked, having followed along with Rainbow Dash.

"Yeah! It's the most amazing thing ever!"

"...I'm not going to ask how she knows that." Ryan huffed, standing up and dusting off the hoof-prints, "Anyway...we about ready to open Apps?"

"You betcha!" AppleJack shouted, ringing a bell, "Cider Season is officially OPEN!"

And with that the day rolled on, the bits coming in left and right while cider left in the same fashion; as to be expected of something in such demand, however, just as poor Rainbow Dash was about to finally get her glass...

"Sorry, we're all out sugah."

"NOT AGAIN!" Rainbow Dash raged before hanging her head, "Always...always..."

"Dashie, calm down before you pull a wing." Ryan rolled his eyes at her overreacting, "Look, we've been able to make a lot more than before with mah help, and we'll have more made up tomorrow, so don't worry."

"Apple Ryder's right sugarcube, y'all can't rush our cider; it's made with love and care after all otherwise it wouldn't be so good."

"That's what you said last year, and the year before that. You always run out and I always get left high and dry!"

"Rainbow Dash is right!" Shouted the crowd, "You always run out!"

"Yeah, not everypony gets cider!"

"...oh man, this is getting a bit rough." Ryan remarked, "Angry customers are the worse."

"Y'all just settle down and come back tomorrow when we'll have....do y'all feel a rumbling?"

"I thought I sensed something but...where is it coming from?"

Looking about Ryan couldn't seem to see any source of the growing rumble until...

"What in tarnation....is that a car?"

Up rolled, amidst all the chaos, a very curious looking form of locomotion that rolled up to a stop right next to their cider booth; with that two ponies dressed in a manner that Ryan right away did not trust in the least hopped down and gave the crowd wide grins.

"That thing of theirs has a very Doc Brown vibe to it..." He mumbled before noting them talking and decided to listen...for now.

"Well lookie what we got here brother of mine, the same in every time."

"Ponies with thirsts, dry throats and tongues with not a drop of cider to be found." The other said, moving about the crowd and interacting with some of the ponies.

"Maybe they don't know that there's no need for this teary despair..."

"And the key that they need to solve the sad cider shortage you and I will share!"

Ryan looked at the two ponies, took note of their demeanors, the way the crowd was getting their full attention, and he shook his head.

"I know exactly where this is going hon...and I don't like it."

"What y'all talking about Ry-Ry?"

"Watch...they're about to start singing to pull in the crowd."

And, sure enough, they began to go into an elaborate song to build up the crowd and gain their trust...and damned if it wasn't super catchy.

"...I don't like this...and their names don't help either Apps." Ryan remarked, tapping his foot to the beat of the song, "...and how dare he kiss mah lil' sis's head."

"Ry, whatcha talking about?"

"Their names are Flim and Flam...which, if it means the same thing here, a flim-flam is a scheme to take people's money; and judging by that machine of theirs they've got a doozy of a one brewing." He sighed and shook his head, "Even Dashie is getting sucked into it. This isn't good."

"Eyup."

"That machine of theirs is supposed to be a cider making machine?"

"That's right my strange looking, tall fellow! The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 can make more cider than you'd think in the blink of an eye!" Flim remarked before turning to AppleJack, "Young filly, if you would allow me to borrow some of those delicious, and might I add spell-bindingly fragrant apples for our little demonstration here?"

AppleJack glanced at Ryan and Granny before seeing the two nod, "Uh, sure, I guess."

"Hmm, as I suspected." Ryan mumbled, noting them use the apples to make their own cider and show off their supposed quality control of their own, "They've won the crowd over...so I reckon they'll try to persuade us to "team up" with them."

"The most important thing is what Apple Acres is known for, our quality and care sonny! Yer fancy machine can't match that no matter what ya say."

"I'm glad you brought that up Granny, I say I'm glad you brought that up! I'm sure you'll see the quality if you just try a cup."

"Oh that's not gonna help." Ryan face palmed after seeing Granny smile when she drank a cup of Flim and Flam's cider, "...modern world indeed. Peh, they're just a bunch of shysters. I'm a bit disappointed in Twilight and Spike getting caught up in the song though."

With the end of their little song and dance done, and the crowd unfortunately eating out of their hands, Ryan and the other Apple family members weren't sure what was going to happen next.

"Big bro...what's gonna happen?" AppleBloom asked, tugging on Ryan's pantleg.

"Nothing, that's what; automated nonsense can never compare to homemade no matter what." He explained, hefting her up on to his shoulders...and noting Flim and Flam uncomfortable close to them, "Uh dudes...personal space."

"How about we make a deal?" Flim asked, rubbing his hooves together.

"Oh great, a deal offer from the con-men."

"I find your tone of voice very offensive sir...we simply want what's best for both of us." Flam replied.

"Best for y'all most likely."

"Well of course, we would be doing the heavy work after all; you'd merely supply the apples." Flim explained, giving a grin, "How's about we split the profits 75-25?"

"...gee, let me guess; you're the 75?" Ryan scoffed and shook his head, "I already know what mah family is thinking so no deal; that money helps out during the winter and I won't stand by and let them lose the farm."

"Heh, that's mah Apple Ryder; he knows how things are so no deal you...shysters?"

"Shysters Apps."

"Yeah, we won't let ya fool us into anything."

"Well I'm sad to hear that I say; I guess we'll just have to run you out of business then." Flam vaguely remarked before bowing goodbye with his brother and disappearing with their locomotive monstrosity.

"...I didn't like the way he said that."

"I'm in agreement little sis but hey, Apple family quality tops everything."

"Yer right sonny, so let's go make some quality care!"

"Heh, Granny, yer a crazy old mare...but dang if you ain't awesome." Ryan laughed, walking back to the barn with everyone.

"Darn tootin' youngin'!"

And so the next day came, and more cider was sold, and like before it ran out before everypony was able to get a glass...which is when they showed up again trying to sell their cider; of course AppleJack pointed out (much to Rainbow Dash's dismay when her bought mug was knocked out of her hooves) that Flim and Flam had no legal right to use the Apple Family apples to make cider.

"Well then, if you're so confident in that cider of yours how about a contest?" Flim asked, hoping to goad them into a fight.

"Heh, like we'd fall for something silly like that." Ryan scoffed again with a smirk, "Even being the emotional human I am, I know better than to fall for yer low-handed tactics."

"A human huh? Not like that matters, I mean...it's not up to you is it?"

"Of course not, but I know mah family." Ryan remarked, putting his arm around AppleJack's and Granny's neck and hugging them tight, "And I know they aren't foolish enough to fall for yer tricks."

"Ah, but big bro...they're trying to say bad stuff about us."

"I know AppleBloom, but they're just words. Who cares what they say?"

Figuring the matter was over with, Ryan and Granny turned back their attention back to getting cleaned up and ready for another day of cider selling tomorrow until...

"Heh, look brother...do you see what I see?"

"Why yes, I don't see a pony or whatever a human is...."

"Indeed, I just see two chickens!"

The air suddenly grew quiet, the camera panning to show both Ryan and Granny pausing in their steps as their faces suddenly became quite serious; turning around the pair stared hard at Flim and Flam before Ryan smirked.

"Yep! I guess I'm just a chicken then!" Ryan remarked, putting his arms to his side and flapping them like wings while clucking, "Ba-kawk! Or maybe you'd prefer Cock-a-doodle-doo~?"

Of course, unfortunately for the Apples, Granny was not messing around with her reaction to their words and marched right up to the two before poking them in the chest.

"Nopony...calls me...chicken!" Granny shouted, "Y'all are on! We'll kick yer butts any day all day!"

"Heh, tomorrow then...we'll see who can make the most cider." Flim remarked, a smug smile on his face, "And whoever wins gets exclusive rights to Sweet Apple Acres!"

"...oh my." Granny remarked, now feeling upset she let herself get goaded into it.

"Don't worry Granny, we'll show them what for!"

"Apps is right, we won't let those guys win!"

"Eyup!"

"Are you guys going to be alright?" Twilight asked, running up after seeing that little exchange.

"We'll be fine; we're not gonna lose to those guys T-Sparks. I've dealt with their kind before back on my Earth so..."

"I hope so Apple Ryder...this farm is our life, our home."

"Hey now." Ryan softly stated, kneeling down and kissing AppleJack, "This place is mah home too ya know? Heh, I'll fight with all mah might to protect it; in the end justice will see us through."

"Justice huh?" Spike noted, "You seem to like that word Ryan...maybe yer cutie mark will have something to do with that?"

"Haha, well I'm sure if humans could have them mine would certainly sync up with justice little buddy. Now then, let's get a good meal and a good night's rest so we can send those Flim-Flam foals packing!"

"Yeehaw! I like the sound of that sonny! You've re-energized this old mare! I am sorry though fer losing mah cool."

"Don't sweat it Granny; after all, nopony's perfect."

The next day came and the fated hour had arrived; with the Mayor herself watching over and judging the competition it was nearly time to see who could produce the most in an hour...with the fate of Sweet Apple Acres hanging in the balance.

"Are ya sure yer up to doing both those things Ry-Ry?" AppleJack asked as Ryan stretched his limbs out in preparation.

"Yeah, I'll be fine; it's not hurting like it was and by both bucking apples for AppleBloom to move and helping run alongside Big Mac we should be able to keep up with that contraption of theirs." Ryan replied, frowning as he finished, "...what bothers me the most is that the mayor and the other pony residents would even allow the Flim-Flams to try and run us out of business."

"What can I say darlin'? I guess that's just the downside of angry customers."

"Yeah but...Dashie is part of that angry crowd and she's our friend so...it bothers me how odd they're acting."

"Everypony! It is time to start the competition and see who can make the most cider in an hour!" The Mayor declared before turning to each team, "Are you ready?"

"Yer darn tootin' we are!" Granny shouted, readying herself.

"My brother and I are more than ready." Flim remarked, both he and his brother sitting comfortably on their machine.

"Then let the contest begin!"

And with that all sorts of craziness was started, with AppleJack and Ryan bucking trees as fast as they could, AppleBloom getting those apples to Granny, Granny sorting the good ones from the bad, and then Big Mac running the press and capping the barrels; of course, when Ryan got a decent length ahead so AppleBloom would have a buffer, he would help out and cap the barrels so Big Mac could keep on running...and occasionally take over so Big Mac wouldn't wear himself out.

In contrast, Flim and Flam were pretty much kicking back and relaxing as their machine did all the work.

"Do you think they can win Twilight?"

"Well, considering how Ryan's pretty much running himself ragged to help out, and how quickly they seem to be flowing thanks to their plan...it'll be close." Twilight admitted, frowning slightly, "As far as I can tell they're nearly keeping pace with one another, but every barrel from Flim and Flam is coming out a few seconds faster than AppleJack's..."

"And since they aren't machines...they're going to slow down huh?" Spike huffed, "This whole contest is so stupid...it doesn't make any sense; Granny Smith may have said some words she shouldn't but they were just words, not a contract!"

"I know Spike, but I guess this has become a matter of pride; I just hope our friends can hold out."

"...Man Twilight, you're making me feel bad when you say it like that." Rainbow Dash mumbled, digging at the ground, "I guess things did get out of hand over cider, huh?"

"That's for sure."

"...dammit." Ryan grunted, kicking another tree before wiping the sweat from his eyes, "...we're just too slow!"

"We gotta do something then!" AppleBloom shouted, "What if we take a shortcut and not be so nit-picky?"

"Nuh-uh." AppleJack shook her head, "We shouldn't taint our quality like that."

"Apps is right...let's just keep going as hard as we can!"

Sadly though, as hard as they could wasn't exactly working out well with them getting tired...and it seemed they were going to lose until...

"How about letting honorary family members help out?"

Turning to see Twilight talking to the mayor about helping, Ryan had to wonder if the Flim-Flam bros would agree to it; smirking when he heard them get over-confident, he felt his energy returning as Twilight began assigning all their friends different parts to help with based on their talents.

"Huff, nice of ya to join the party T-Sparks."

"Well, we can't just let our friends down right?"

"I'll say!" Pinkie shouted, helping scoop up some apples, "But hey, I forget to say: next time you play at chicken Ryan let me join along! I've got an awesome costume for just such an occasion."

"Heh, will do; now let's go everypony!"

With the added help of their friends, they were making cider like nopony's business and had begun catching up to Flim and Flam who suddenly started looking a bit less confident.

"Alright, we're catching up!" Ryan declared happily before grunting in pain, "....ugh!"

"Ry-Ry!" AppleJack gasped, running over to him as he leaned against the tree he just kicked, "Are ya alright darlin'?"

"Ugh...heh, yeah; I just aggravated it finally. I can walk...but I can't kick anymore trees." Ryan sighed, before smirking, "I don't think it'll matter though."

"Sugah, I knew ya weren't fully healed up yet." AppleJack frowned slightly before smiling and pushing up to hug him, "Thanks though mah Apple Ryder..."

"Heh, just do one thing for me Apps..."

"What's that?"

"Win and send those phonies packing!" He whispered, kissing her softly, "Now go, I'll be alright."

Giving him a nod, AppleJack redoubled her efforts and as Twilight began to calculate, they had increased their rate fivefold...which meant they had not only caught up to Flim and Flam at this point, but they were ahead!

"I dear say brother of mine, I think we might lose."

"Well, there is always the one option..." Flam remarked, staring at a big red button.

"But then....hmmm....I guess otherwise we lose..."

"No choice then!" Flam shouted, pushing the button and turning off the quality control of the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 which sent it into a bit of a frenzied overdrive, sucking up whole trees at a time.

Meanwhile, from his now spectator role, Ryan had witnessed their folly and laughed softly at their hastiness.

"As I expected..."

"They're cheating!"

"Now now lil' sis...don't ya fret none." Ryan reassured her with a smile, "You'll see that this means we've won."

"If ya say so."

Soon enough the bell rang, signaling the end of the hour and the end of the competition...but hopefully not the end of the Apple family.

"...our barrels are still less than theirs." Twilight sighed, "AppleJack, I'm sorry."

"But we were going so fast!" Rainbow Dash huffed, "How could we lose?"

"It's because they cheated!" AppleBloom grumbled, "It's not fair!"

"I know, but we gotta honor our word." AppleJack admitted, though it pained her to do so.

"I'm sorry dearies...this is mah fault for losing my temper." Granny sighed before she felt Ryan patting her neck, "Hmmm?"

"Hey, it'll be okay; as long as we got each other, that's what matters most." Ryan reassured her, before feeling AppleBloom glomp on to his leg, "And I know, they did cheat...but Apps is right; we needn't sink to their level."

"Eyup...even if it don't feel right."

"I know Big Mac...well, I guess we better get packed up then." AppleJack turned around slowly, walking towards the farm, though she did smile when Ryan began to caress her mane, "Thanks sugah."

The crowd wasn't really sure what to make of it, as they were pretty hard hit when they realized what this whole competition had resulted in...though some, being fickle in mood as any human ever was, suddenly changed their tune when the Flim-Flam brothers began offering their cider for sale.

Of course, anypony with a brain could look and see that their cider looked less than appetizing with the branches, rocks, and other assorted awful bits that just were not quality-controlled at all; as such, it should come as no surprise that not only was it all spat out as soon as it was drank but that Flim and Flam suddenly found they were in a bit of hot water.

Without a single word, the two shysters hopped aboard their machine and high-tailed it out of Ponyville....exactly as Ryan, who had foreseen such an event coming, had pointed out to his family with a grin.

"Well tarnation, you were right sonny!"

"Heh, as I figured; just like any con-man on my Earth, they always get lazy and finally get bit in the rear by their plans." Ryan laughed loudly, "Told ya it'd be okay lil' sis."

"Yay! This means we get to stay here at Sweet Apple Acres!" AppleBloom cheered, "We did it y'all!"

"Eyup!"

"And, I just noticed a nice side-effect of this little competition."

"What's that Ry-Ry?"

"Seeing as we went above and beyond producing all this cider...I reckon we've got enough here for everypony! So, how's about we make us some money and happy customers?"

"Sounds like a plan to me! Okay everypony, cider's on!"

And so everyone was served, though when Rainbow Dash got to her turn the tap was dry; she was nearly on the verge of tears when Ryan gave her a tap and noted he just had to put another barrel in.

"Dashie, you really are a sweet gal underneath that brash attitude aren't ya?" Ryan teased, "Otherwise why would you get all sad when we clearly have plenty of cider left to serve?"

"I...that is...just...shut up and give me my cider!" Rainbow Dash huffed, happy to have her mug...but she turned and smiled at Ryan, "...you might be right though. I mean, there had to be something that brought on my crush on you."

"Dashie..."

"A-anyway, get yourself some cider too! You were working pretty hard out there...so it's no wonder you and AJ get along so well."

"Heh, I suppose some cider would be nice after all that." Ryan laughed softly and took up a glass with all his friends as they cheered and happily downed their cider, "Yeehaw!"

"That's mah Apple Ryder for ya!"

"Apps!"

"Heh, just be glad that ain't mah special brew from the other night."

"Oh darling, you just blush so easily when dear AppleJack is teasing you." Rarity giggled, "Then again, I know a certain Spikey-wikey that gets that way around me so..."

"...Rarity...why do you have to say things like that?"

"It's because the both of you are just so cute when that happens." Rarity remarked, hugging Spike who protested...but not very hard.

"Haha, you gals are something else."

And so with that another cider season came to a close, and from what Granny had deduced they had made enough money and then some to help them get through another winter season.

"Oh Apps, I'm super sore tonight, that's for sure." Ryan groaned softly, slowly making his way to bed and flopping down on it, "I'm glad our home is okay though."

"Ry, are ya sure you'll be okay?"

"Yeah, I'll be fine; we won't be bucking for quite a while so my leg will get some rest."

"Well, I know ya say that but...maybe I can help." AppleJack moved down towards the end of the bed and started massaging his ankle the best she could, "Ah know I'm not as trained as them spa ponies but I still thought it'd help."

"Mmmm...well, you certainly are putting just the right amount of pressure." Ryan laughed softly, "But ya don't have to do this."

"I know, but I want to. Can't a gal make her big strong guy feel better?" AppleJack asked, batting her eyes at him.

"Uhm, well...yeah, of-of course ya can!"

"Then relax darlin'."

"Yes ma'am." Ryan teased before remembering something from earlier, "So I couldn't help notice that AppleBloom seemed a bit down even though everything turned out alright for us."

"Ah, she's probably all down in the dumps because whenever cider season rolls around it reminds her that school is about to start up soon." AppleJack explained as her hoove brushed against his foot...and heard a slight giggle, "Oh mah stars...are ya ticklish?"

"N-no...." Ryan attempted to lie, but she wasn't being fooled, "...Apps no!"

"Hee." AppleJack giggled, tickling Ryan who tried to kick free of her grasp but wasn't finding much success with his aching ankle, "I'm sorry mah Apple Ryder...I guess hanging around you has given me a bit of a mischievous streak."

"Haha...hah....haha.....oh Apps." Ryan laughed softly as she crawled up the bed and nuzzled against him, "Yer lucky I love ya or I wouldn't let ya get away with such things without recompense."

"Oh I don't know...maybe ya just say that to all the cute fillies?"

"Ya know I don't; I suppose I'd let our friends get away with some things, but yer special." Ryan remarked, caressing her mane and laughing as she hummed softly, "Ya do know that, right Apps?"

"Heh, of course I do sugarcube; it was pretty clear from what happened on yer birthday~"

"Good...now then, perhaps we should do something to help keep AppleBloom from getting the school blues?" Ryan mused, thinking while continuing his caressing, "Ah! I've got it...how far away is the nearest beach?"

"The nearest beach? Ya thinking some fun in the sun might help?"

"Well, the beach is always fun right? Making sandcastles, playing volleyball, burying each other in the sand...and of course taking long walks on the beach with one you love, the sun setting behind you as the waves crash quietly on the sand."

"If'n I didn't know better, I'd swear you've thought about this before." AppleJack teased.

"Well, it's on mah list of things I've wanted to do but..."

"I hear ya hon. Anyway, there's some kind of resort or something a few hours from here on Saddle Lake. We actually passed it on our way to Canterlot before we went through the mountains."

"A lake beach huh? That should work...hmm, but a resort; that sounds pricey."

"Actually, the gals and I have gone there before and it's not too bad; besides it's been a while since we hit the sands so I think AppleBloom would be excited."

"Okay, I'm game then! We should talk with the others tomorrow to sort it out."

"Heh, you and Twi with yer plans and stuff." AppleJack teased, caressing his chest and laughing, "Oh well, that big brain of yers is pretty handy...and smarts are attractive."

"...I think that's 3 to 1 for you tonight Apps." Ryan chuckled softly before reaching over and turning off the lamp...or he would have if AppleJack hadn't stopped him, "Hmmm? What is it hon?"

"I just remembered I have to write a letter to Princess Celestia." AppleJack remarked, hopping up and grabbing a pencil and paper.

"A letter to Celestia? What for?" Ryan asked, slowly getting up and walking over to her at the desk, "Here, let me write; mah hands are a bit better for that."

"Thanks sugah. Anyway, we help Twilight out with her letters about friendship every so often and send what we learned to the Princess to read." AppleJack explained, "Understand?"

"Yep; that sounds pretty good though...I'll have to get in on this." Ryan laughed, "Ready when you are!"

"Okay...ahem, 'Dear Princess Celestia, I wanted to share my thoughts with you....I didn't learn anythin'! Ha! I was right all along!'"

"...well, that's pretty frank but I suppose you are right." Ryan snickered, writing as he was told, "Hmmm...oh, I know what to add! 'While Apps is right, I suppose what she's trying to say is that it was reaffirmed for us that if you take the time to do things right, then your work will speak for itself. That and the fact our friends will always have our backs no matter what the crisis.'"

"That's pretty good Ry-Ry. Do you think we should write anything else?"

"Naw, I think that pretty much covers it." Ryan noted, signing his and AppleJack's name before writing a little P.S. and rolling it up, "So...I suppose we'll have to ask Spike to send this tomorrow then."

"Right! For now sugah, let's get to bed...I'm one pooped pony."

Watching as AppleJack flopped into bed, Ryan hobbled back over, turned off the light, and lay down before the two of them got comfy and were soon fast asleep.

The next morning, Ryan, AppleJack, and AppleBloom were heading over to Twilight's to meet the others and see who was up for a beach trip; as it was AppleBloom was pretty excited when she had heard their plan and was eagerly looking forward to the beach...especially since it meant some possible new ways to work on getting her cutie mark.

"You sure yer okay today sugah?"

"Yeah, yeah, I'm okay Apps; just a little slow, that's all." Ryan ruffled her mane, "Not that I don't appreciate the concern though."

"Well, I just don't want ya injured badly mah Apple Ryder." AppleJack noted before knocking on Twilight's door, "Howdy Twi!"

"Good morning you three; come on in. The others aren't here yet, but they should be soon."

Walking in, Ryan saw Spike bringing out some tasty looking breakfast items and that only reminded him of the fact they'd delayed eating to join their friends for breakfast; still, remembering the favor he needed done, he walked over and waved hello.

"Hey little buddy, I was wondering if you could do something for me?"

"Sure! Always happy to help out. What do you need?"

"Can you send this to Celestia for me?" Ryan asked, handing him the sealed letter, "Something Apps and I came up with after all the craziness yesterday."

"Sure thing! Just a second!" Spike noted, tossing the letter in the air and letting loose his firey-breath, "There we go! She should get it any minute now!"

"Perfect!"

Meanwhile...

"Hmmm, I wonder how he's getting along?"

"You mean Ryan?" Celestia chuckled, "You would be thinking about him."

"Sister!"

"Heh, I'm sorry; I shouldn't say things like that. I know how much you've missed him all these years."

"Yes...I know Ryan is a different person, but....anyway, it was nice to see that I'm not the only pony that fell for his charms."

"Haha, well with Dark as a predecessor of sorts, it's no surprise." Celestia remarked before watching as a letter appeared, "Hmmm? What's this? A letter from Twilight Sparkle?"

Opening it up, Celestia gave a note of amusement when she saw it was from somepony else, and started laughing loudly at what was written; snickering when she got to Ryan's part she couldn't help the laughter or the smirk from appearing on her face.

"What is it that has you so amused dear sister?" Luna asked, slightly perplexed.

"Well, let's just say Ryan has been getting into some fun it would seem...and bringing dear AppleJack long for the ride." Celestia remarked, "In addition, he says to say hi to you and hopes you're doing well; apparently he also thanks you for help with a certain disturbing nightmare he had?"

"Oh yes, I recall that one...what a strange thing to dream about. I'm glad to hear from him though."

"My! I must hear of this strange dream then."

"Well, you see, it apparently had to do with a high school setting....and we were the principals..."

Back in Ponyville...

"Spike, you've outdone yourself again." Rarity remarked, "These muffins are just simply scrumptious."

"Yeah! They are pretty good and I know cupcakes!"

"...but these are muffins Pinks."

"I know, they're awesome right?!"

"I...uhm...but...."

"There there big bro, it's okay." AppleBloom attempted to soothe his broken mind, "So what do y'all think?"

"I think it'd be great to spend time on the beach with everyone!" Scootaloo shouted, "As long as Rainbow Dash is coming!"

"The beach huh? I suppose I could hit up the surf a little." Rainbow Dash remarked, smirking as she looked at Ryan, "Are we gonna get to bury Ryan in the sand?"

"You would want to do that." Ryan dryly replied, sticking his tongue out at her.

"Well, I suppose it wouldn't hurt." Fluttershy timidly added, "I do need to work on my tan a little."

"How does a pony tan?" Ryan asked, though he was largely ignored.

"Hmmmm, all that sand...and water....and it gets everywhere...." Rarity remarked, frowning slightly till she saw Sweetie Belle looking at her pleadingly, "Ugh...oh very well; a little sun and sand never hurt anyone anyhow."

"Rarity's going?" Spike remarked, getting a pretty big smile on his face.

"Heh, I bet I know what's going through his head." Ryan snickered, nudging his little buddy, "Just contain yerself little dude; save it fer the beach."

"I...just...that....I hear the dishes molding!"

Ryan merely shook his head as he watched Spike run off and out of sight.

"Then again, if he was thinking what I think he was...I can't rightly blame him."

"And what might that be mah Apple Ryder?" AppleJack smirked at him, "Hmmm?"

"I do not think that is important mah dear." Ryan cleared his throat, "So then...is that everyone?"

"Wheee! I'm down for a beach party!" Pinkie shouted, "I've even got the best outfit to wear!"

"I guess it's unanimous y'all! We'll leave in two days then so get yerselves ready for a rip-roarin' time!"

"HOORAY!"

"Oh, by the way T-Sparks, did ya get that thing I sent you? What with all the excitement I totally forgot to ask the other day."

"Hmmm? Oh that thing? Oh yeah, I got it on the computer and as I expected, it was super adorable. Thanks for sending it to me."

"Ry-Ry, what do I have the feeling this involves something that happened between us?"

"You remember Apps, since T-Sparks helped me she had a simple request and so I fulfilled it when ya were taking yer little snooze."

"I see sugah...just don't let it get around Twi."

"....what are you talking about?" Rainbow Dash asked as she literally butted in, "I feel like I missed out on some big secret."

"Heh, maybe you'll find out someday, maybe not." Ryan cryptically mentioned, "Now then...I'm hungry so it's muffin time!"

With their rooms reserved, their bags packed, and everypony of their quite large group packed on the train with the prospect of having fun; as such there was much chatter and talking to be had depending upon the groups: Ryan and Twilight were discussing their shopping plans as well as everything to do once they checked in...with AppleJack along for the talks thanks to Ry, Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo were chatting it up over tales of awesome, Rarity was whispering something to Spike that had him blushing much to Sweetie Belle's amusement, and the others were just discussing all the things they wanted to do for the few days they'd be there.

Soon their short trip was over and, after having gotten off at the train station, they had checked into their rooms and began unpacking things.

"Once everypony gets settled we'll go shopping for our meals while we're here so don't dawdle too much." Twilight noted, looking over her checklist before seeing Ryan look at her, "Oh, uhm...well...I mean..."

"I think that's a wonderful idea." Ryan remarked, patting her neck, "Help keep us on task with this stuff T-Sparks."

"Will do!"

Setting his and Apps's bag in their room, Ryan opened the sliding glass door and took a deep breath of the (sort of) sea air.

"Wow, this place is ever more beautiful than I thought it would be." Ryan remarked, stepping out on to the balcony and admiring the view, "Amazing that this is a lake, given it looks like any ocean based beach I've ever been to."

"Well that's just the beauty of magic darling; friendship isn't the only magical thing around here after all."

"Cute Rarity, cute."

"Are y'all done chattering Apple Ryder? We've got all our stuff settled in so let's go get our groceries so we can go bust up that beach! We're wasting quality time!"

"She's right big bro! Come on!"

Laughing, Ryan closed the balcony door, scooped up AppleBloom, stuck his tongue out at Apps, and then dashed out the door with the others not far behind...

"As expected of a resort town, y'all do have something resembling a commercial grocery store." Ryan remarked, though he seemed a bit confused on how the cart works, "Uhm....this looks a little off."

"Oh, yeah; you've never shopped at a place like this...at least here anyway have you?" Twilight asked, "I think there's an old saying that fits here....about the cart before the horse?"

"Oh...right...you guys don't really move like I do...normally anyway, so you pull yer carts." Ryan nodded his head, "I suppose we'll take turns but anyway, what should we eat for the few days we're here?"

"Candy!"

"...Pinks...CMC's...we can't live on just candy."

"But...but...it's tasty!"

"I...that is...."

"Ry, I think this is one battle yer losing." AppleJack teased, patting his back, "We'll get some snacks, but we need meals first."

"Ooooh, okay."

"...I suppose it should worry me more that she has the mentality of a child as well but then again, that's Pinkie for ya." Ryan sighed and shook his head, "How about grilled cheese one day for lunch? And then we can do sandwiches?"

"Ooh, that's a good plan!" Twilight pulled out a list and began writing out what was being called out, "What else?"

"Oh, can we splurge and have crab?!"

"Now wait a minute Scootaloo, we don't know if everypony is okay with that." Ryan remarked, having to pry her from his person, "Are there any objections?"

Sensing none, he nodded at Scootaloo who was rather excited her idea was accepted before returning to her spot, riding on Rainbow Dash's back.

"...I'm not a taxi, kid."

"But Rainbow Dash, you're just so awesome...and I wanna stick by ya!"

"...ugh, fine, whatever kid just watch the wings."

"Right...we'll figure the rest out later."

"Yeah, come on guys! Let's get our food and go! The beach is calling my name and that name is Pinkie Party Pie!"

"...I...but..." Ryan sighed before helping push the cart as they continued along.

After about an hour of chaotic shopping, somehow they were all able to get more than enough food for their little beach trip...and then some.

"So...is there anything else we missed? Anypony got any other things they want?" Ryan asked as they pulled up to the checkout, "Last chance for anything else."

"I'm good Apple Ryder."

"The three of us are happy Big Bro!"

"I've got more than enough snacks! Yay!"

"I'm awesome....and okay as well."

"I...I think I'm okay too Ryan."

"We should have all I need darling."

"And I've got everything on the list checked off." Twilight added, rounding up the group, "Perfect!"

"What about you little dude? You've got yer share of munchies?"

"Me? Yeah, I'm good; I brought plenty of gems along to snack on...but I got a few things here too so I'm good."

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