Warnings and Disclaimers:
Characters in this work are property of their respective owners, I do not own any of them, and do not intend to make any sort of profit off of this work.
This My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfiction involves shipping. If you don't know what that means, please go read up on it at http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Shipping before reading.
If you are made uncomfortable by ANY form of romance between ANY two intelligent beings, this fanfiction may not be to your liking. Continue only with caution.
And now, on with the show:
As she walked toward Sweet Apple Acres, Twilight's thoughts lingered on Rarity's briefing. Rarity had described many qualities that she wanted in her ideal stallion, and seemed to want to know whether Big Macintosh qualified on every count. "I want a stallion that's strong and athletic, but not a show-off. I'd like him to be well-read and intelligent with good business sense. And of course he absolutely must be neat and organized. Oh, and good fashion sense is essential," Rarity had told her.
Twilight had raised an eyebrow, "So basically you want him to be the opposite of his sister?"
Rarity had paused, considering, "Well I hadn't really thought of it in those terms, but I suppose you could put it that way. It's not that I don't like Applejack, darling, she's a good friend, but her... ah... unique charms aren't really what I want in a stallion to spend the rest of my life with. You see what I mean, don't you, Twilight dear?"
Twilight, of course, had seen. Rarity and Applejack could rarely go as much as a week without getting into some major fight or another, though they were able to make up every time. Even with her admittedly incomplete knowledge of romance, she could understand that it would most likely be impossible to go out with someone you got into fights with constantly. Who could put up with something like that, and why would they?
Twilight arrived in due time at the farm that Big Mac ran with his sister. Rolling hills covered in apple trees spread into the distance, and Twilight was reminded uncomfortably of the vision she had shared with Rarity. Still, she had a job to do, so she pushed the distraction to the back of her mind and looked around for her target; it was fortunate, considering the size of the farm, that he was nearby and easy to spot.
Big Mac was in the act of placing barrels under apple trees in anticipation of the bucking season when Twilight approached. She called out, "Hello Big Mac! How's it going?"
The large red stallion turned from his work with a smile, "Why howdy Twilight. What brings you 'round ta Sweet Apple Acres? Lookin' fer Applejack?"
"Actually, Big Mac, I was looking for you," Twilight replied, giving the cover story Rarity had made her practice repeatedly as an excuse to try and determine whether Big Mac's intelligence was up to Rarity's standards, "You see, I was going over the library catalog when I found a book on historical developments in agriculture in Equestria. It mentions the Apple Family as owners of Sweet Apple Acres over a hundred years ago. I thought you might be interested in reading about your ancestors." Twilight used magic to float the book in question out of her saddlebag and showed Big Mac. In truth, she had found it ages ago, but hadn't expected Applejack to appreciate any book, even one about apple farming, and never even thought about Big Mac.
Inspecting the book, Big Mac smiled, "Why, thank yeh kindly Twilight, but ah already have this one."
The simple statement took Twilight completely by surprise; she had anticipated several possible reactions Big Mac might have had when presented with the dry, obscure historical tome, but him being familiar with it had certainly not been one of them. "You own a copy?"
"A-yep. It's some-where on one o' tha shelves back at tha house. Been months since ah've cracked that par-tic-u-lar tome," the huge stallion drawled.
Twilight raised an eyebrow, "I hadn't pegged you for the bookish type Big Mac. No offense. I know Applejack doesn't read much."
"Don't ah know it," Big Mac sighed, "Applejack ain't never had much use fer book learnin'. She's more 'bout kickin' and luggin', which leaves all the plannin' and figurin' to yours truly. Along with a good share ah the kickin' and luggin, o'course. When yeh run a farm, yeh need some-pony with book smarts around."
Twilight was genuinely interested in the turn of the conversation. "What specific sorts of things do you need to know to run a farm, Big Mac? I've never researched it much," Twilight asked, enthusiasm evident in her voice.
"Well..." the larger pony replied, evidently gathering his thoughts, "Yeh gotta know everythin' there is tah know 'bout apples and apple trees, how to re-cog-nize blights an' mold an' pests, an' how tah deal with those, o'course. Fertilizin's real important, so knowin' who's sellin' tha stuff an' what it costs an' if the seller's cuttin' it with sawdust or somethin' ta try an' pull a fast one on ya. Gotta talk to tha weather ponies tah know when tha' storms are comin' and when yeh can work fine, an' know which weather ponies can find a few mis-placed coins or apples and con-ven-ient-ly farget ta leave any clouds o'er Sweet Apple Acres or send more rain our way, dependin' on what we need. Say hi ta yer friend Rainbow Dash fer me, by the way, will ya? An' a farm's like any business; yeh gotta keep tha accountin' right or yeh won' know where yer money went at tha' end a tha' month. Gotta know the prices and suppliers fer any number ah things, barrels, carts, chemicals, an' buildin materials, jus' off the top ah ma head, an' how ta get 'em shipped cheap an' on time. An' o'course yeh gotta know tha price 'a apples all 'round Equestria, so yeh know how much ta ship out an' how much ta sell local. An speakin' a local, yeh gotta go ta city council meetins', ta make dern sure they ain't gonna hoof ya over on zonin', turnin' ag-ri-cul-tur-al inta re-si-den-tial o' some such foolishness. An that's jus' tha basics."
Twilight's eyes had grown wider and wider over the course of the speech, and when it ended, she looked on in stunned silence, her eyes wide as Big Mac smiled down at her.
"And of course," Big Mac added in an accent that would not be a hair out of place in the court at Canterlot, "You have to speak with a certain accent and diction, or the other farmers won't respect you, and the farm supply vendors will. As a shrewd businessman, I know that I want neither of those things to happen. I'm sorry I don't come by the library, Twilight. I'd like to, but I get all my books delivered in unmarked boxes. I've got a reputation to maintain."
Twilight's jaw dropped.
"A-yep. Ah trust yeh not ta spread that 'round all that much, on account of Applejack tellin' me yer a good friend. Now ahv got work ta get back ta. So long Twilight, thanks for bringin' that book 'round."
With that, Big Macintosh pulled his cart to the next line of apple trees, leaving Twilight to slowly make sense of what she'd just heard.