• Published 26th Feb 2012
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A Different Viewpoint of Equestria - Christopher28



An archeologist finds himself in lost in Equestria after Discord's storm of Chaos.

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Chapter 4

It was Applejack who found them first. She had gone straight to the Cutie Mark Crusader's clubhouse, expecting to find, at the least, Applebloom, only to find Rainbow Dash casually leaning in the front doorway, regaling the crusaders with typical arrogant nonchalance.

"So there it was... the dangerous alien reached forward to grab Twilight Sparkle, and I swooped down out of the sky, and... BAMN! Clocked him right in the back of the head." Rainbow Dash punctuated her story by punching out with one of her fore hooves in example. "And he dropped like a rock." she grinned. "And that's how I defeated the dangerous alien invader!"

"I saw." Applebloom's voice came from the clubhouse. "I was there, remember? And he wasn't dangerous, just... lost."

"It sounds like a dangerous alien to me!" Scootaloo's voice said, sounding dubious. "Didn't it beat up your older sister... and even Big Macintosh?"

Applejack walked up the ramp to the clubhouse, shaking her head. "He didn't beat no pony up!" she protested, glaring at Rainbow Dash. "What are you going about telling stories like you're some kinda big hero? You just knocked the poor fella silly when he wasn't looking, is all. He wasn't going to hurt Twilight none, and you know it."

Applebloom nodded firmly. "That's right! He was my friend! He shared an apple with me, and he was real nice... except for the part where he hog tied my big sis, but that was all a big misunder... misunder..."

"Misunderstanding." Applejack completed. "It could have happened to any pony. He just couldn't speak proper language, that's all."

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes. "Hey, I didn't know he wasn't dangerous. And besides, didn't Twilight say that humans like him are... you know... predators, and dangerous killers?"

Applejack frowned. "Some of them, maybe, but not Johnathon."

Rainbow Dash raised an eyebrow. "Johnathon? When did you get on first name basis with the alien, anyway?" she got an evil look on her face. "Do you miss him? I bet you liked getting tied up and pushed into the dirt, huh?"

Applejack's eye's widened in shock. "Rainbow Dash, you take that back! Don't go saying stuff like that in front of the little fillies, or at all, consarn it! What's gotten into you?"

Rainbow flushed and her head drooped. "Right... sorry." she started to take off, but was pulled to a halt as Applejack grabbed her tail in her mouth.

"Hld on a sec, sger!" Applejack said around the cyan pegasus' tail in her mouth. "I've got something to say to you!" she said more clearly, letting her friend's tail go. She glanced at Applebloom and the other Cutie Mark Crusaders. "And you three too, so listen up."

Rainbow Dash turned around in mid air, hovering effortlessly above them. "OK, what? Going to tell me for the fourth time I shouldn't have kicked that human in the head? I get it! I'm a bad pony, alright? I kicked the dumb dragon, and nearly got us all killed, and I shouldn't have kicked the human in the head either, right?"

Applejack blinked, putting together the pieces. "So that's why you've been acting so strange, Sugar-cube...." she finally said with a frown, then shook her head. "That's not what I came here to say, Dash. Sure, maybe you sometimes act with your hooves rather than your head, but your heart's in the right place... ain't no pony more loyal than our Rainbow Dash."

She smiled at the hovering cyan pony. "You were just doing your best to help... you didn't know that Johnathon wasn't going to hurt no-pony, and I reckon he'll be alright in a spell...."

Rainbow Dash's angry frown softened. "Yeah, well... then what did you come here to talk about?"

Applejack hesitated. "Well, I wanted to tell you that that human... Johnathon, he's back. Apparently the gateway, or whatever, that brought him here was gone when he and the Princess went looking for it, and he's got no way home right now."

Rainbow Dash frowned. "So... he's stuck here?"

Applejack nodded. "That's right... and I know you didn't know any better, Sugar Cube, but he's still pretty dizzy and all from that thump you gave him, so he'll be staying at Fluttershy's place a while longer till he gets better."

Rainbow Dash hesitated before speaking. "Do you think... do you think he's mad at me? For kicking him?"

Applejack thought about that, then shook her head. "I honestly don't think so, but an apology wouldn't hurt none."

Rainbow Dash looked hopeful, then attempted to conceal her relief with a nonchalant shrug. "Yeah... I guess that'd be cool."

Applebloom was bouncing up and down. "Oh! Does that mean we can go see him! Sweetie Bell and Scootaloo have never seen a human before!"

Applejack shook her head. "Not right now, Applebloom. He's resting. Pinkie's throwing one of her parties in a few days, and Johnathon said to invite you, on account of you're the first pony he met here in Equestria and all. I'd bet your friends could come too, if they promise to be nice to the fella. He's had a rough time of it so far, ya hear?"

Sweetie Bell shivered slightly. "Are you sure it... er... he's not dangerous?"

Applejack grinned. "No more dangerous than Rainbow Dash here... and a mite less dangerous than when she's trying a new stunt, I'd wager." she said with a laugh. "He's a good sort." she nodded firmly. "And I don't want to hear any silly rumors about dangerous humans... he's going to be staying in Ponyville for awhile, on account Twilight's looking into figuring out how to magic him home, and we don't want every pony running and hiding whenever he comes into town, like we all used to do with Zecora."

"You know me better than that, Sis!" Applebloom said, looking affronted. "Wasn't I the first pony who made friends with Zecora? And I was the first one to make friends with Johnathon, too!"

Applejack nodded agreeably. "That you were, little sis. Maybe you'll get a cutie mark in diplo... diploma... in being diplomatic!"

The little yellow bodied, red maned pony quickly glanced at her flank, then sighed. A moment later she looked up, turning to the other crusaders, but Applejack cut her off.

"And no going over to Fluttershy's place so you can get your cutie marks in whatever!" she told them firmly. "Mr. Dwire needs his rest, and he won't get none if you're swarming all over him trying to figure out what you're best at."

As the crusaders fell into a group pout, the orange farmer pony turned to Rainbow Dash. "Dash, do me a favor and let Twilight know I found you, alright? She was worried some pony might start a rumor, so she's looking for ya."

Rainbow Dash looked insulted. "A rumor? Why would she think me, of all people, would start..." Applejack raised one eyebrow and said nothing, but glanced pointedly at the crusaders. Rainbow Dash chuckled slightly. "Oh right." She shrugged. "Sure, sure... but what's the hurry?"

Applejack shrugged. "Twilight's fixing to head to Canterlot to get some books from the royal library... to help her figure out how to magic Johnathon back home. She'll miss the train if she keeps looking for you much longer."

Rainbow Dash blinked. "Oh... sure. I'll go tell her." She grinned. "I bet I find her in..."

"Ten seconds flat." Applejack finished. "I'm sure." Rainbow Dash simply grinned again and flew off at high speed, leaving a rainbow colored blur behind her.

"Who's Mr. Dwire anyway?" asked Applebloom. "Is that Johnathon's last name?"

Applejack nodded. "That's right." she put a hoof behind her head, looking a bit confused. "Well... he's an older fella... he's a widower, and all... it seemed a mite strange to always be calling him by his first name."

Applebloom nodded slowly. "Oh, like how we always call the Cake's Mr. and Mrs. Cake?"

Applejack nodded. "He's around their age... maybe a mite older, actually, even though he's still pretty spry."

Applebloom looked disappointed. "Do you think he's too old to be friends with a little filly like me then?"

Applejack shook her head gently. "I don't reckon so. He did ask special to make sure you could come to his party, after all."

The littlest apple pony grinned. "Oh yeah." she turned to the other two crusaders. "Hey! Why don't we go find Pinkie Pie... and see if she needs help with the party!"

Sweetie Bell chimed in. "Maybe we can get party preparing cutie marks!"

All three crusaders put their hooves together, and in a loud voice, they declared, "Cutie Mark Crusader party preparers are go!" and promptly raced out of their clubhouse, narrowing avoiding knocking Applejack over in their miniature stampede.

Applejack rolled her eyes, hopped down from the clubhouse herself, and started headed towards home. "If any pony can keep up with those three fillies, it's Pinkie." she decided with a grin, then winced at the sudden mental image of four Pinkie Pies. "Hopefully they'll leave part of town standing when they're done."

***************************************

It had taken Rainbow Dash SLIGHTLY more than ten seconds to locate Twilight Sparkle, not that she planned on mentioning that to anypony.

"Hey Twilight!" Rainbow Dash swooped in to land in front of her studious friend. "I just talked to Applejack, so don't worry...." she blurted quickly, hoping to avoid a lecture. "I won't start any dumb rumors about me beating up an evil alien from another world or anything uncool like that, OK?"

Twilight blinked. "That's awfully... specific, but, thanks, Rainbow Dash. I appreciate that." she glanced toward her tree home worriedly. "Well, I'd better hurry if I'm going to get to Canterlot today. The last train leaves in half an hour!"

Rainbow Dash grinned. "Hurrying I can do. Need any help?"

Twilight hesitated. "Well... I have a travel bag packed for emergencies in the left hand dresser drawer in my bedroom... if you could get that for me, I could meet you at the Train Station. Then I'd be sure to be on time!" she hesitated. "Oh, and could you let Spike know that I'm headed to Canterlot? I hate to leave him on such short notice, but I promised that I'd be back in three days, so I really should go today."

Rainbow Dash nodded smoothly. "No problem. I'll keep the little guy company while you're gone, if you want. He's kind of cool... you know, being a dragon and all. Not as cool as me, of course, but who is, right?" she started to fly off, then paused. "Left hand drawer, right?"

Twilight nodded. "That's it. Spike knows the one, if you get confused."

The cyan pegasus nodded and flew off, and Twilight started heading for the Ponyville train station.

***************************

Spike blinked, then blinked a second time before scowling. "That Twilight, always running off doing this or that... and does she ever remember her number one assistant? I tell you... is it too much to ask for her just to ask me if I maybe wanted to go to Canterlot?"

Rainbow Dash raised an eyebrow. "Er... did you want to go to Canterlot?"

Spike hesitated. "Well no... but does she ask? Sheesh." he shrugged. "Well, it'll be nice getting to relax for awhile. Twilight said she'd be back in three days?"

Rainbow Dash nodded. "That's right." she hesitated. "So... wanna hang out for a bit while she's gone? I mean, if that's cool or whatever?"

Spike looked surprised. "What, you want to hang out with me? Really?"

The cyan pegasus shrugged. "Sure, why not. We're friends, right?"

He grinned. "Sure! I mean, what do you want to do?"

Rainbow Dash blinked, not having thought the matter through that far. "Oh I don't know... whatever." she shrugged. "I'll swing by tomorrow sometime, and we can hang." she started to head toward Twilight's bedroom. "Alright... so her overnight bag is in the left drawer...."

Spike snorted. "Nah, she filled that with extra ink last week! She's always misplacing stuff. Last time I saw it, Twilight's overnight bag got stuffed under the bed!" he jogged upstairs and threw himself bodily under the bed. "Dust Bunny... dust bunny... cupcake... how'd that get under here? Ah! Here it is!"

Spike came out, hauling a light blue saddle bag. "Here you go." he opened it and looked inside. "Twilight will probably want her checklist for "what I want to check out if I get an excuse to go to the royal library again..." he went to the purple unicorn's bedside table, rummaged through a pile full of scrolls, selected one, and stuffed it into the saddlebag. "And... her favorite brush... and... hmm...." he shrugged. "I guess that'll do." Spike handed the saddlebag to Rainbow Dash, who took it in her teeth and neatly tossed it over her back, to lay just behind her wings.

Rainbow Dash grinned. "Cool. Thanks Spike. I'll never figure out how you're always able to make sense of this place."

He just shrugged and grinned. "That's why I'm the number one assistant!" the little dragon said proudly.

"That's you!" Rainbow Dash agreed, then gave him a quick, mock salute with one hoof, and flew off through the bedroom window.

*****************************

Pinkie Pie had a major problem on her hooves. She had a party to prepare for, and WAY too much time to do it in. Three days was way more time than she needed to prepare such a simple party, and she had worked out the guest list almost before leaving Fluttershy's cabin. So now she had to wait three entire days for a party without having anything else to do! She frowned unhappily. Waiting was not her strong suit. What could she do in the meantime? There were always cakes and cupcakes to bake at Sugar Cube Corner... but even factoring in helping out Mr. and Mrs. Cake, there was time for a whole extra party in the middle somewhere. But she was anticipating Johnathon's party so badly, she almost didn't want to throw a party in between. So what else could she do?

She went over her guest list in her head one more time, thoughtfully. It would take an hour or so to trek out to Zecora's place to invite the Zebra... but she could finish making the rest of the invitations in person pretty quickly. Could she do something else to make the party special? What did someone do for someone who had just arrived in a new place for the first time? Of course, it was more than that. Johnathon had arrived without friends, or possessions, or any place to go. She was sure her friends would help him, but still... what he needed was...

"Presents!" she danced in glee. Three days was hardly enough time to help every pony who was invited pick out a present... it wouldn't to for anyone to get the same thing, after all. Not if her party was going to be perfect. Just as she was getting into a serious planning mode, the Cutie Mark Crusaders stampeded into Sugar Cube Corner looking for her, and her face broke into a wide grin.

******************************

The next morning, Johnathon woke up slowly. He blinked, then blinked again, realizing that, for the first time in several days, his headache was gone. He sat up rapidly, and regretted it. OK, not gone, quite, but a whole lot better. Better enough that his other various aches and pains were now all the more obvious to him. His right shoulder, where he had blocked Big Machintosh's charge, was particularly tender. He ran a hand through his hair, felt the stubble on his chin, and sighed.

Fluttershy came though the front door of her house, having been outside feeding her animals, and smiled at him. "Oh good, you're awake. Are you feeling any better today?"

Johnathon nodded. "My head's a lot better. I'm still a bit achy... but nothing worse than a few bumps and bruises." he gave himself an experimental sniff, and winced. "Although I could be cleaner. Do you happen to have hot running water, by any chance?"

Fluttershy smiled. "I have a nice tub, if you'd like to use it, and yes, I do have hot water." she looked curious. "Is that rare where you come from?"

Johnathon grinned slightly. "Well, in the jungle, yes, but where I grew up, it's pretty common. I'm a bit surprised that you have it... but I'm still not used to what you ponies have for amenities. I keep finding myself surprised by how much our two worlds share... and by the differences just as often."

Fluttershy smiled politely. "It sounds fascinating. Would you like me to run a tub for you? Do you need help in the bath?"

Johnathon raised an eyebrow at that, then simply shook his head slowly. "No, thank you Fluttershy, I'd prefer to bathe in private, if that's alright."

Fluttershy simply nodded. "That's fine. Do you want me to show you how the faucets work and everything?"

The archeologist nodded. "That's probably a good idea."

After Fluttershy showed him how everything in her bathroom worked, she turned to go, but stopped as she heard Johnathon give out a grunt of pain. When she turned to look, he had just finished pulling his shirt off over his head. His entire shoulder was covered in a massive purple and yellow bruise.

"Oh dear... that looks really painful." she said in concern. "Do you have any other injuries? You should have told me you had hurt yourself elsewhere, Johnathon. I can't help you if you aren't honest with me."

Johnathon Dwire glanced back at the normally shy yellow and pink pegasus. "Well... this is the worst of it, really... and the color tells me it's healing fine. It should start fading by tomorrow, and I'll be good as new in another week."

Fluttershy frowned, coming closer to examine his shoulder more carefully as he sat down gingerly on the edge of the tub. "What could have caused such an awful bruise? Did this happen when you hit your head?"

Johnathon blushed slightly. "Er... not exactly. It's from when I body checked Big Mac... you know, the big red stallion? I think he's Applejack's older brother?"

Fluttershy blushed slightly. "Yes, I know Big Macintosh. Gosh... you got this when he ran into you? How fast was he going?"

Johnathon winced. "Pretty fast. Still, I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who got banged up in that collision. I still need to apologize to the big fella for that hit."

Fluttershy smiled softly. "That would be a nice thing to do." she looked worried. "I know he's bigger than you, but I hope Big Macintosh isn't hurt too badly."

Johnathon shrugged. "Well, I expect he's only bruised, like me. He didn't break anything, at least." he frowned slightly. "Well, I'm almost completely sure he didn't. Still, if he got hurt, you do have a... pony doctor in town, right? Twilight mentioned something about that."

Fluttershy nodded, looking reassured. "Of course. I'm sure he's fine." she looked at Johnathon with a severe expression on her face. "Are you SURE you don't have any other injuries?"

Johnathon found himself leaning away from her slightly. The normally meek and mild mannered pegasus could be pretty darn scary when she was concerned about someone. He really couldn't lie to her, especially not when she stared at him like that.

"I scraped my knees a little... but they hardly hurt a bit." he told her finally. "I'll make sure they're clean and healing, Fluttershy, I promise. I do know quite a bit of first aid. I'm not a doctor, but treating minor wounds is nothing new to me. I was a boy scout, after all!" he put a hand to his forehead. "That made no sense to you, did it?"

Fluttershy shook her head, smiling slightly. "No. But I do understand first aid. What is a boy scout?"

Johnathon looked thoughtful. "Well... the boy scouts is an organization on my world for young men. We did a lot of camping out, and learned all sorts of useful skills. I'm quite good with first aid... and all sorts of things involving surviving in the wilderness." he shrugged. "It's handy in my line of work, actually."

Fluttershy nodded. "I can imagine!" she sighed. "Well, if you insist on taking care of your wounds yourself, I guess I can't stop you, although I'm a little confused why you don't want me to help."

Johnathon blinked. "Er... well, I guess I'm just a bit modest. Humans tend to wear clothes... most of the time. We're not comfortable without them, really, and I'd have to take most of mine off to let you see my injuries."

She looked surprised. "How do your doctors take care of you then?"

Johnathon blinked. "Well, people tend to make an exception for doctors...."

Fluttershy gave him a level stare. "Well now, I'm supposed to be taking care of you. Doesn't that make me your doctor then?"

Johnathon sighed. "Fine... fine." he took off his boots, and started to undo his belt. "I guess it won't kill me to let you see my bony knees."

Fluttershy inspected and cleaned his various cuts and scrapes, trying not to kick herself for not doing so a day earlier, but grateful that, at least, her patient didn't show any signs of infection, and left him to soak in the tub while she took his clothes to clean them. His culture seemed very strange to her. Ponies liked to wear nice clothes when the occasion called for it, but modesty was a strange concept for her. Still, it made some sense for an animal with no fur to learn to wear clothing to protect itself. She had rarely seen a full grown animal with so few natural defenses.

"His teeth aren't very sharp... and he doesn't have claws... or thick fur. I know Twilight said his species are predators, and Johnathon said they are like bears in what they eat... but I don't understand how that could be." Fluttershy told Angel Bunny as she walked outside to hang the archeologist's clothing up to dry. Angel gave her a dubious expression, and she frowned. "Well, yes, he does have that feeling to him, I suppose. Most of the other animals don't seem to like him very much." she shook her head. "My animals seem to think he IS a bear, only he's so much smaller... and so defenseless!"

"Who's defenseless?" Applebloom asked from just behind her. Fluttershy cowered against the ground with a squeak, turning around to see the small yellow earth pony looking at her in surprise.

"Oh my...." Fluttershy said softly, getting to her feet again. "You shouldn't sneak up on ponies like that, Applebloom, you might frighten some pony."

Applebloom nodded. "Yes Fluttershy." she cocked her head to the side. "So, who's defenseless?"

"Well, Johnathon." Fluttershy said. "At least, he's the most defenseless predator I've ever seen. I don't understand how his species could be predators on his world... unless everything else there is as helpless as they are."

Applebloom snorted lightly. "Helpless? Are we talking about the same human? You do know he hog tied my older sister and gave Big Macintosh more trouble than any pony's done... ever, right?" she grinned. "Johnathon's tough, and real strong. I wouldn't call him helpless."

Fluttershy nodded. "Oh, I understand... and he does well... kind of feel like a bear... I mean, the other animals are a little frightened of him, even Angel Bunny, as if he actually was a bear, but...." she shook her head. "I guess I don't really get it."

Applebloom shrugged. "I guess you could ask him?"

Fluttershy blushed. "Oh no, I couldn't! I don't think he likes being... scary. He's a very nice human, really."

Applebloom decided to change the subject. "Oh! Fluttershy, are those Johnathon's clothes?"

The yellow pegasus nodded absently as she started hanging up the bundle of laundry again, now that she was reminded of it. "That's right. I'm washing them for him while he's in the bath. He wanted to soak his sore muscles, and I certainly don't blame him. He seemed very stiff. I'm sure the hot water will help a lot."

Applebloom nodded impatiently as Fluttershy explained. "That's great and all... but could I borrow them?"

Fluttershy blinked. "Why would you need to borrow his clothes, Applebloom? He doesn't have any others, and I'm sure he'll be wanting these back when he gets done soaking."

Applebloom nodded again. "That's exactly it! I wanted to take them over to Rarity so that she can make him another set of clothes! You see, Pinkie Pie wants every pony who's coming to bring Johnathon a present, on account of him coming here to Equestria all alone, and without a home and all. It's nice for a pony to have their own things, and all... and I thought, since he only has the one set of clothes, that he might like new ones, and Sweetie Bell said that her older sister would be willing to help out..."

Fluttershy smiled. "That's very thoughtful of you girls, Applebloom. I think everyone bringing presents to Johnathon's party is a very good idea." she looked thoughtful. "I'll take his measurements, and get them to Rarity later today, alright?"

Applebloom hesitated. "Well... the presents are supposed to be a surprise, so can you do it without letting him know?"

Fluttershy nodded. "Of course. I can get what you need from measuring his clothing." she started into her house. "I'll just need a tape measure...."

Applebloom followed her. "Oh! I can help!"

In fact, the filly was surprisingly good with a tape measure, and they had the measurements they needed well before Johnathon's clothes were done drying. Fluttershy finished jotting down the final measurement on a small scroll, then carefully rolled it up with her hooves and gave it to Appleboom.

"There now, was that all you needed?"

Applebloom hesitated. "Well... I'm supposed to ask him some more questions... kind of figure out what sorta things he's used to having... or would like as presents. No pony really knows what humans like for presents, after all, so I'm supposed to be a spy and find out... without letting him know what I'm up to!"

Fluttershy smiled slightly, wondering how long the little filly could conceal her intentions from the archeologist. After all, her big sister WAS the element of honesty, and Fluttershy had never known Applejack to have any skill in using even the whitest of lies.

"Well, you give Rarity these measurements, and if you like, you can come back later and talk to Johnathon. I'm sure he'll like the company."

"I'll be back soon!" The filly promised as she trotted swiftly away.

"Was that Applebloom?" Johnathon's voice proceeded his head as he peered into the living room from the bathroom, even as Fluttershy re-entered the house from outside.

Fluttershy discretely slipped her measuring tape back into a drawer, and turned toward him. "She was visiting for a little bit, but had an errand to run." she smiled at the faint look of disappointment on the man's face. "She promised to come back later today though. I think she wanted to talk to you!"

Johnathon raised an eyebrow. "Oh. what about?"

Fluttershy smiled again. "Oh... you know how fillies are always so curious...." She blinked. "Oh... perhaps you don't."

Johnathon grinned. "Human kids are the same way. Always with a new question." he grinned, and came into the living room, a fluffy towel securely wrapped around his waist. "So... any chance my clothes are clean and dry yet?"

Fluttershy nodded. "Any minute now. I'll go check on them again, if you like."

Johnathon smiled. "Thanks. They're my only set... so I appreciate you taking care of them for me."

"Of course." she answered brightly, slipping outside once again. After a moment, she poked her head inside. "They've dried nicely in the sun. I'll just bring them in for you, shall I?"

Johnathon hesitated, wanting to say that he'd be glad to handle the chore, then simply nodded. "Thank you." soon he was dressed, and feeling quite a bit more human than he had when he had woken up that morning. Only one thing was missing. His stomach growled, reminding him of his most pressing remaining need. Looking a bit embarrassed, he glanced at Fluttershy nervously, not really liking the fact that he was forced to impose so much on her.

"So... what's for breakfast?"

After Fluttershy listed the possible options, Johnathon offered to cook. "I've been freeloading here for nearly two days now." he said when she tried to protest. "And really, my head feels much better. I promise to lie back down if I start feeling dizzy again, alright?"

Fluttershy finally agreed gracefully, and, after showing him how to use the stove, and where she kept her cooking implements, she contented herself with collecting ingredients for him and watching him work. She was immediately impressed with how easily he was able to manipulate things with his hands. Unicorns made it look so easy, but fine manipulation was quite a bit more difficult for pegasi and earth ponies. Johnathon was, perhaps, even a touch more deft with his hands than most unicorns with their magic. After watching him cook, she decided that it must be the human's special gift, to make up for their lack or claws, or sharp teeth, or wings, or magic, to be able to manipulate the objects around them so easily.

"Hands certainly seem useful to have!" she commented thoughtfully to him. "I can manage in the kitchen all right, and my mother was ever so deft with her hooves, you would think she was part unicorn, but you manage everything so easily!"

Johnathon blinked. "Yes, well. Hands ARE useful." he agreed. "I'd never considered what it might be like not to have them. Frankly, I'm a bit surprised at the level of tool use in your society, given that two thirds of your people need to use their hooves for everything." he looked thoughtful. "I suppose unicorns must do most of the delicate work with magic?"

Fluttershy nodded. "Mostly, yes. Each of us have our special talent, but almost every single unicorn can manipulate objects with their horn, and they are capable of very fine detail work that most of the rest of us have a great deal of trouble with."

Johnathon nodded. "I've been wondering how much of what I've been seeing here is technology, and how much magic... and, actually, how to tell the difference... if there is a real difference."

Fluttershy blinked. "I don't think about it that often. It's just the way things are, for me."

The archeologist nodded agreeably. "Well, naturally. You grew up in this society. It's part of my training to look at how other cultures do things... and I'm actually quite interested in learning everything I can about yours. I hope you'll tell me if I get too nosy. I sometimes forget myself when I'm really interested in a subject."

Fluttershy blushed, and nodded. "I'll try. I don't mind if you... ask questions, really." She was feeling more and more shy around him suddenly, and wondered why. The answer came to her almost immediately. As a patient, she was on comfortable ground, but as he recovered, she found she became less and less certain of how to treat him, which made her nervous.

By the time Johnathon finished cooking the two omelets and was sliding them onto plates, Fluttershy had become very quiet. Johnathon didn't mind the quiet, but he could sense for some reason that the yellow pegasus was becoming uncomfortable. When a knock came at the door, followed by Applebloom's voice, they both smiled in relief. They glanced at each other, noticing immediately their similar reactions, and suddenly the tension was broken again.

"Please come in!" Fluttershy said clearly toward her front door. "We're just in the middle of breakfast!" she took a third plate from her dish cabinet with her mouth, and placed it on the table with the others, then gently divided her omelet into two pieces and put one on the third plate. "I already ate earlier this morning, Johnathon, although this does look so lovely I can't wait to try it, but I'm sure Applebloom would like a piece as well."

Johnathon hesitated, then shrugged. "Alright then." he sat by the table. The chairs meant for a pony to sit at (a concept he still found a bit strange) were a bit big for him to use at the kitchen table (if he was willing to drag one into the kitchen) so he simply stood at the counter as he ate, leaning against the wall lightly.

Applebloom was willing to try something new, and both she and Fluttershy seemed to like the omelets.

"Johnathon...." Applebloom began, looking at him shyly. "Could you tell me a little about your world? Like... the stuff you liked about it?"

Johnathon blinked, then looked thoughtful. "That's a lot of ground to cover, sweetie." he said finally. "I liked... like, a lot of stuff about my world."

Applebloom frowned. "Sweetie Bell is my friend's name." she explained. "Applejack calls me sugar cube sometimes though?"

Johnathon chuckled. "Alright, Sugar cube. Is there something in particular you'd like to know about my world?"

Applebloom wrinkled her nose. "Well... I guess, I'd like to know what you liked to do for fun!"

Johnathon nodded at that. "Well, I think that's a manageable topic, although some of it might be difficult to explain." He took a moment to think about it, then nodded. "Well, I did love my work. I got into archeology when I was very young, maybe around your age. My class had a field trip once, and we got to participate in an actual dig... cleaning off artifacts, that sort of thing." he grinned. "I was hooked. I didn't get to do it for real for years and YEARS after that... but it is something I enjoy."

Applebloom nodded. "What else do you like to do? Do you like playing outside?"

Johnathon grinned. "Well... I suppose. I used to play some sports in school, although I guess it wasn't my favorite thing. I did like competition, and I have to admit, I like to win a bit too much for my own good."

Applebloom rolled her eyes. "Everypony likes to win! What else?"

Johnathon wrinkled his nose again. "Well, I guess I like boats... I used to sail, and canoe..." he hesitated. "Er... do you have sail boats here?"

Applebloom nodded. "I know what a sailboat is. What's canoe mean?"

Johnathon blinked. "Well, it's a narrow little boat... say, about fifteen to twenty feet long... and about so wide?" he measured with his hands. "I used to be really good... at canoeing that is. My brother and I used to canoe quite a bit. Riding the rapids can be a whole lot of fun, and it took real skill." he looked thoughtful. "Actually, my favorite part about sailing was doing it competitively as well. Again... with my brother, I used to sail quite a bit... we owned a tiny little sailboat for a while. We'd compete in amateur races sometimes, which was a blast."

Applebloom grinned. "That sounds like fun! Did you win?"

Johnathon nodded. "Sometimes. We won some canoeing races... and at least one sailboat race, although nothing more than amateur events."

He looked thoughtful. "Well, I used to like to ride...." he winced. "Er..." He looked apologetic, and started to change the subject. "I ran a lot too, although that wasn't really as much fun, unless it was a competition."

Applebloom looked curious. "Ride? What did you ride on?"

Johnathon winced, but decided that since he had already stuck his foot in his mouth, he might as well swallow the rest of the leg. "My wife and I owned a couple horses... and I also rode when I was younger, at summer camp."

Applebloom's face screwed up, remembering. "Horses are like ponies, but taller, right? Kind of like the Princess?"

Johnathon nodded. "Without the wings or horn, yes."

Applebloom looked interested. "And you used to ride them?"

He nodded. "That's right. Well, mainly my wife rode. For quite a while, we'd go out a couple times a week... she'd ride her favorite horse, and I'd jog along side." he smiled a bit wistfully. "My wife couldn't really keep up with me when I ran... but her horse could. We'd run maybe eight miles, two or three times a week." he looked helpless. "Oh... do you know miles?"

Applebloom looked at Fluttershy, who shook her head slowly, and he sighed. "Ah well... too much to expect that we'd have the same units of measurement." he shrugged. "A mile is about the distance between the edge of your farm and the forest I came out of... following that trail. Does that make sense?"

Applebloom nodded then. "OK, I get it! So you liked running?"

Johnathon sighed. "With someone who could push me... yes. I seem to like competition quite a bit." He looked like he was thinking again. "Let's see... I love to read. When I was younger, I'd try to read a book every single day, although I had to slow that down some as I got older. Too much too do, really."

Applebloom rolled her eyes at finding READING fun, then blinked, as the possibilities there occurred to her. "What kinds of books do you like to read?" she asked with genuine interest.

Johnathon smiled. "Well, I liked science fiction the most... and fantasy. Hmm... I guess I like reading anything about science, really, if it's not too dry... and I've always been a fan of detective stories too."

Applebloom repeated the vaguely unfamiliar words to herself, muttering under her breath. "Science... fantasy... detectives...."

Johnathon raised an eyebrow, starting to wonder if perhaps the filly had an ulterior motive to her questions. "Did you want to know anything else?"

Applebloom wrinkled her nose slightly. "Um.. could you tell me about... er... human stuff? What kind of stuff do humans like you use that ponies don't?" Fluttershy couldn't help but be slightly impressed at the question. It was a bit risky, but it was a pretty good way of finding out possible presents.

Johnathon blinked. "Gee... I actually don't know... as I don't know enough about how you ponies live to give a good answer about how humans are different.. but..." he shrugged. "Well, I guess we probably use tools a lot." he looked at his hands. "And I guess... you probably don't use gloves much." He grinned.

"What are gloves?" Applebloom asked curiously.

"Coverings for the hands." he held his up. "I usually have a pair of work gloves on me, because my hands are actually pretty soft for someone who's been a farmer..." he grinned. "My wife used to call me 'pansy hands' on account of how I always wore gloves to do anything rough... and 'pussy feet' since I almost always wore shoes. I've got pretty soft feet too... I guess." Applebloom looked at his hands with interest, having never really taken a good look at them before. They were probably the most distinctive thing about the human, and she studied them carefully. He had four long, slender digits, and one shorter, thinker one on each hand. They DID look rather fragile. Spike had similar digits, although much shorter, and quite a bit tougher looking, with sharp claws at the end of each. The fact that Spike was covered with hard scales was a big difference as well. Applebloom got a very thoughtful look on her face, and seemed to be thinking about something difficult for almost a minute.

Finally, she looked at him again. "Could you do me a favor?" she asked carefully. "It's OK if you don't want to..."

Johnathon nodded. "What is it?"

The red maned filly hesitated. "Could you... er... could you draw one of your hands for me? On a piece of parchment?"

He blinked. "I suppose I could. Why?"

Applebloom's eyes did a slow circle before she responded. "Er... for class! I bet no pony there has met a human, and I could tell them a little bit about you...." she hesitated, looking nervous. "I mean... if it's alright with you. I wouldn't tell them nothing bad, I promise."

Johnathon smiled gently. "I don't mind if you talk to your class about me." he told her. "I'd feel a bit strange having them all come and stare at me... but I don't mind you telling them."

Applebloom smiled. "Gee, thanks Johnathon!"

Fluttershy brought out a parchment scroll and a quill, and Johnathon examined the writing implements before nodding to himself. "It's been... a LONG time since I used a quill, but I think I can manage." he gestured to the page. "So... how should I do this?"

Applebloom put her hoof down on the page, and made a motion as if tracing it. "Could you make the picture life size? Maybe... trace your hand, so it's all accurate-like?"

He grinned, and did so, having to restart several times as he got the hang of the quill. "Want me to sign my name?" the man blinked, and started to write, wondering to himself. When he had finished, he looked at her curiously. "Er... can you read that?"

Applebloom nodded. "John... a thin... Dwire." She sounded like she was sounding it out as she went, grinning as she finished. "You write pretty." she said with a complementary tone.

"Er... thanks." he said, sounding distracted. "OK, this... translation spell is... weirding me out right now. I know how to write in your language as well as speak it... but I can't remember how to write in mine!"

Applebloom blinked. "Really?" she thought about it. "That is kinda weird. Maybe you should ask Twilight Sparkle how it works?"

Johnathon nodded. "Oh, I intend to. It'll probably be less freaky to me once I know a little more about it."

Applebloom rolled up the scroll with her nose, and picked it up gingerly in her teeth, depositing it gently in an open saddlebag at her side. "Thanks for talking to me, Johnathon! I gotta go now though." She smiled apologetically.

Johnathon smiled back. "Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed myself."

Applebloom excused herself and left at a quick trot, and Johnathon Dwire glanced at Fluttershy, raising an eyebrow. "Now... what was that all about, do you think?" he asked her, not unkindly. Fluttershy made a squeaking noise and hid her face with her hooves, knowing she couldn't manage a straight faced lie. He laughed, and shook his head. "Never mind. I'll leave it be, although I think I've got a pretty good idea." he frowned. "I hope nobody... er... no pony is going too overboard on my account."

Fluttershy shook her head, smiling back lightly. "Oh no... nothing like that, I'm sure." the moment she said, she remembered that Pinkie was in charge of the party to come, and wondered if she hadn't lied a little bit there, even if by accident. Ah well... she thought to himself. It'll be an interesting surprise, one way or another, won't it?

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