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It had almost been a year, already.  Zap was growing up so fast.  It wouldn't be too long before his upbringing becomes the responsibility of other ponies living in Ponyville.  In the time he has lived in the world he has learned to walk and begin talking.  He even had short episodes in which he could fly before his bone mass kept him from hovering indefinitely.  When harvest time came, he learned what apples trees look like and how big they are.  He has learned that rosebush thorns cause pain when touched, but he has also learned how soft and warm Granny's quilt can be.  He barely remembered what it was like when there was snow still on the ground until the white stuff returned, but he is well acquainted with the discomfort from being outside for too long when it is really hot.  Seasons for Zap Apple were not a rhythm.  To him they were just things that happened with no understanding of the concept.  He remembers a strange evening called Nightmare Night, what a fun adventure that was, but he was not aware it will come again.  He has experienced everything a year can offer, but he has only experienced them once.  And he could not be more entertained.

 

He was busy playing with his toys in the living room at Sweet Apple Acres.  He could hear commotion going on in the kitchen, hearing his mother's voice, and Nan-nan's voice too.  Big Mac was probably outside doing work, he could think, and Apple Bloom wasn't usually around until later in the day, because of something called school, but her voice could be heard anyway.  It seemed like a special day, but he was not sure why.  And before he could think about it further, he just had a great idea on how he can further play with his toys.

 

For the past few days he had been trying to beat his record for how high he could stack blocks.  His toy blocks, which had symbols written on them, some letters some animals, were mostly useful for stacking.  A practical use need not be necessary, Zap had fun trying to stack them as high as he could.  In previous attempts he had stood on chairs to place blocks higher.  Another time, he stood atop Uncle Big Mac in order to reach the top of his towers of wooden blocks.  This time he would try even higher, towards the height of the ceiling.  He starting stacking the blocks one by one, humming a song his mother taught him while doing it.

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Applejack's mane existed in a constant state of frizz. Strings of it flopped out and extended out of its normal ponytail formation and some of its luster was now more myth than reality due to the unusual shagginess. Well, not unusual anymore. It was almost always this way now. Slightly disheveled. Askew . It was motherhood mane and she had it fierce, the product of a combination of looking after a newborn foal and working the fields and running a business- so little time for her own manecare or sometimes even basic maintenance. Her eyes were also baggier than normal. Not anything extravagant or dangerous looking, but small bags that seemed to live there now. Sleep was a luxury, not a requirement. Even for an Apple she didn't get much sleep nowadays. That was fine though because she had picked up so many skills that you could only learn when you were a constant motor of activity, willing or not, like how to power nap when your foal was finished feeding and was taking a nap alongside you. She also was sure there were few things as rewarding as that.

Zap's first year had been tough but fun, trying but rewarding in the most splendid ways possible. As a pegasus he could get into trouble that she couldn't do much to stop but for the mpst part he was a remarkably well-behaved little guy. A heartbreaker, a perfect little colt, mama was so proud of him. It was easy to set-up a good first birthday for him. She had invited her friends over but didn't really expect them to come, nor would she be offended if they didn't. Everypony was busy these days and it was hard to take time out for a one-year old's birthday of all things. But heck, even if it was just the Apples they were going to make sure he would have fun. They had cake and ice cream, gifts both material and familial, and love to stretch across the world all for the little guy. He was easy to buy gifts for. She had gotten him some really nice stuff but was pretty convinced he'd be more interested in the wrapping and the boxes than the gifts. That'd be fine to. He was fine. Everything was fine. Always. In fact she didn't even yawn as she looked bleary eyed out of the kitchen to her perfect little guy, spying on his newest activity.

“Aww, he's stackin' his blocks again. Ain't he a perfect little block stacker?” Applejack said, ear twitching because everything was always great. She looked over at Granny Smith and smiled. “Ah can't wait ta see what y'all baked this year. Been smellin'-” she quickly looked back at Zap. He was safe and everything was fine. “-Smellin' mighty good. Hungry as a...hungry as a hippo, Ah guess. Apple Bloom, did you get Rarity's gift from Sweetie Belle?” She asked her younger sister who was tending to the needs of her perfectly fine older sister. She gave her sister a weird look, which wasn't needed because everything was fine. “Uhhh...yeah, got it. You've asked like four-”

“Great!” Applejack responded, looking at nopony in particular. She looked back into the living room. Zap was still around. Great! Everything was great and she didn't need any sleep and hadn't slept last night because everything was great. “All comin' together somethin' fierce, Ah reckon. Big Mac's gonna be in soon, all our gifts are comin' in dandy. This is great,” she said in a joyful voice because she was so happy.

“Where's Dash?” She asked sweetly as she stared off into the distance, one ear and eye twitching because everything was fine.

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Working hard in the kitchen was the gray maned matriarch of the Apple Family, Granny Smith.

"Alrightee!  Got little Zap Apple's cake ready for icin', got the last batch of apple fritters in the oven!  Gotta guard the pile of'm we got from yur big brother!  He's always a-wolffin' down mah fritters when I ain't lookin'!  Now Applejack, don't ya fret none!  This here's gonna be one fantastic shindig fer Zap Apple.  See?  Almost got all the food ready an' I got word that yur Uncle Apple Strudel's gonna be comin' here all the way from Germaney!  Hope that bearded rascal don't bring his tuba with'm.  Last time that ol' goat played his tuba it scared our cows plumb ta death!  Oh, and I did invite Grand Pear ta come too!  After all, he did make peace with us Apples an' is tryin' ta make amends fer all his past meanness.  Hopefully, the rest of our party guests will be as furgivin' as we are.  Relax, Applejack!  Party ain't supposed ta start fer a while.  Rainbow Dash'll be here.  Ya know she's not gonna miss this fer all the tea in Canterlot!"

 

Granny Smith tried to look reassuring to her frantic granddaughter.  But the elderly mare understood how important first birthdays were and how they are always celebrated with great enthusiasm in the Apple Family.

 

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Now it had been pretty darn exciting to hear AJ was pregnant. He choose not to question any of the finer details as life always did seem to find a way and with Apples it was sure as hay hard to stamp out! After all the number of cousins he could count seemed to grow every day! Little Zap sure was a miracle, and not for what seemed the obvious route. Nope. Instead the surprise came from AJ even becoming pregnant! She sure has calmed down since way back when, though by how motherhood had her up in a tizzy, sure t’weren’t much. She didn't go it alone though. No Apple did. Even with Dash being as busy as she was with the Bolts, they always found time. Plus the little guy has them, well asides from Granny and all the cousins, and aunt's, and uncle's -- or Apple Bloom: he had Uncle Mac. He never fancied being called that. Mac did just fine in some cases. Big did good to differentiate him from his pa. He has always been pretty big.

 

Well all that aside today was pretty special. While Mac would think most days are pretty nice -- days like today were particularly great. There were a lot of Apples, so a lot of celebrating came hoof in hoof. Anniversaries, graduations, and, of course: birthdays. Looots of birthdays. But this was a special birthday. This was Zap Apple's very first birthday. And while it wasn't going to be any more or less special than his second or third: there was something about experiencing something new that was a real treat. Treats… he could smell them already! Cakes, apple pies, strudels and… his favorite: fritters. Oh golly Granny didn't make 'em often. Special occasions of course. And what was more special than today? He couldn't help but smack his lips together and listen as his stomach protested. He had been working hard today, not that he never worked hard: but not just in the field! He had been helping to decorate the farm.

 

He soon found himself wandered off toward the scene. His honeysuckle colored mane slowly peeked up from the edge of the table where the fritters cooled. He had been a moment late to the accusations of his fritternapping. Parting his jaws he would nip the edge of a still hot fritter and pull it away. He snapped it up as quick as could be! Ahh but it caught the tip of his tongue!

 

“Hot!” He was surprised, yet somehow he shouldn't have been.

 

Quick as a cat he stuffed the hot fritter in his muzzle and pouched it up against his cheek lest the company in question become suspect! “Decurashuns dun.” He muffled through chewing.

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Zap had climbed Granny's rocking chair in an attempt to gain higher ground.  His task to deliver the top block on his stack and make it higher than he has ever done before didn't require much thought.  To him it was very simply, use your little wings to fly there.  To this point, Zap Apple had not had proper flight training, he wouldn't get that for another few years, but pegasus ponies have been known to learn very early, even as early as their first birthday.  For Zap, his life experience surrounded him with earth ponies who loved working with and on the ground, the extent of Zap's curiosity could only stretch as far as his instincts.  Well, that and Mommy Dash's encouragement when Mommy wasn't looking.

 

A block in his mouth, he reached the top of the chair, swaying with the rocking as his moment made it unstable.  But he was able to maintain control before making a leap for the air, aiming his intentions towards the tower of blocks.  Intentions.  Reality would set in a few seconds later as Zap could not maintain his hover and began barreling downward before locking his wings up and hitting the ground head first, the forward momentum carrying him into the tower of blocks where he would topple them.   The loud thud would surely be heard by mom.  He looked towards he direction, waiting for her glance, and when she met him, he began to cry.  The cry that said, 'I'm not hurt, but I want your loving and caring attention anyway.'

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Applejack never had doubt that the party was going to be fantastic. Hard not to be optimistic about the prospects of a birthday party for an Apple when he had all the access to a loving family one could hope for. But that didn't make Granny's work any less delicious smelling. "Granny, looks like yer hittin' another one outta tha park," she said, looking for the icing. She found it. "Here ya go, Granny. Nice ta hear 'bout Uncle Strudel, he's always a hoot an' a holler. Just don't holler too much on account of-" she looked quickly back into the room, watching her little stallion as he started his final ascent, then back to her Granny, "-umm, whatever Ah was saying. Look at how big he's gettin', Granny! Ain't he so dang perfect? Grand Peare is gonna love meetin' his first great-grandfoal, Ah bet," she said confidently. Everypony would want to see him because he was so perfect.

 

Big Ma seemed to be having some issues with how hot these fritters were, the big, lovable oaf he was. Of course they'd be steaming hot, Granny didn't half-make a dang thing. She giggled as she watched her older brother eat the fritter as stealthily as he could. He had been in charge of decorations and he did a great job. He did a great job most of the time because he was such a focused and reliable friend and brother. You got him on a task, you could expect it being done well, being done fast, being done right, and him working up an appetite along the way! "Ah bet Big Mac's pretty hungry, ain't he? Need ta get himself somethin'?" She asked in a motherly voice, her tone almost impossible to change at this point in time. Maybe in a few years it would be different. Apple Bloom laughed. "Yeah, well, make that two! Big Mac, wanna help Granny ice tha cake?" She offered, not really aware whether or not Granny wanted or needed help.

 

Then there was a thud and a crash and Applejack was already looking in by the time Zap cried. She had listened top him cry lots. She knew the difference between a real cry of pain and one of attention and this was one of attention, a cry she had come to know well. And she should learn to ignore it, according to the education she had been given, at least sometimes. Didn't want the little fella to become a spoiled, attention seeking troublemaker! But she was never a mare given in to ignoring her instincts, and so she came trotting into the room. "Aww, did my little stallion fall down? You got up so high!" She said proudly, picking him up and bopping him on the nose. "Everythin' will be just fine, you adorable little marekiller you," she sat down on the ground and placed him opposite her, adjusting her hat above her bagged eyes. "Can you say, 'momma'? 'uncle'? 'aunt'? 'granny'? 'great-grandpa'?" She asked, expecting too much but with patience between words enough to give him time. And when he tried, she encouraged him- "good job!"- and when he was done, she held him tight.

 

"Today's your first birthday! Such an exciting first year for ya!"

 

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"Thank ya a heap, AppleJack!" Granny Smith neighed as she accepted the icing container from her granddaughter.  "Glad yur startin' ta calm down.  Fer a while thar, you was actin' like a nervous cat in a room fulla rockin' chairs."

 

As the elderly earth mare began to ice the birthday cake, out of the corner of her eye she caught the sight of Big Mac quietly grabbing up one of her own hot apple fritters.  Granny Smith was about to say something but then noticed how the huge stallion reacted to the piping hot fritter in his mouth.  Granny Smith grinned and pretended not to notice, she figured poor Big Mac had been punished enough due to his burnt tongue.

 

Suddenly, there was the sound of a crash in the living room. 

 

"OH NO!" Granny Smith shouted as she followed Applejack into the room and watched her tend to little Zap Apple. 

 

"Say youngin'!  Best watch ware yur wonderin' off ta.  Reckon ya git that adventurous spirit of yours from yur ma!" the elderly mare said in a firm but polite voice.  All of her decades of experience with foals taught Granny Smith that they're naturally curious and love to climb and explore.

 

"He's OK, Applejack.  Ya gotta admire the kid's spunk!  I had spunk like that a long time ago.  I wonder ware it went?  Oh well.."

 

As Granny was about to say more, suddenly a very loud noise burst all over the barnyard.

 

 

OOOOMMMMPPPPPAAAAA!    OOOOMMMMMPPPPPPPAAAAAA!!

 

"I know who THAT is a-comin'!" Granny Smith shouted as she poked her head out the window.  There was a taxi stage coach parked in front of the farmhouse.  Out stepped an elderly dark yellow pelted stallion with a green pear cutie mark on his flank.  Seated on the back of the stage, wearing and tooting his huge tuba was an elderly olive green stallion with a white mane and beard wearing a green suit and stylish hat.

 

 

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"GRAND PEAR!   APPLE STRUDEL!" Granny shouted as she galloped out to greet them.

 

"Hello Granny Smith," Grand Pear said after exchanging a big hug.  "I was in Ponyville, hailing a taxi to ride out here when I ran into this distinguished gentle pony who had just arrived from Germaney.  Since he was going my way, I gave him a lift!"

 

"Good Morgen Frau Granny Smith!" Uncle Apple Strudel neighed as he leapt from the back of the taxi and gave his tuba one more loud blast.

 

"HEY STRUDEL!  COULD YA KNOCK IT OFF!" Granny shouted.  "Yur scarin' all mah critters!"

 

"Oh, sorry bout dat, dear sister," the bearded stallion said as he took off the tuba and accepted a quick hug from Granny Smith. 

 

"C'mon in the house you two, come an' see little Zap Apple!" Granny Smith neighed as she led the pair of elderly stallions inside.  There, Grand Pear and Uncle Apple Strudel smiled upon seeing the excitable foal.

 

"What do you know, Granny Smith?  Our first great grandchild has wings!" Grand Pear announced with delight.

 

"Vhat?  You didn't know dat, Heir Pear?" Uncle Apple Strudel asked as he approached him.  "Und how is mein favorite grand nephew today?  Vait till you see dee present I brought ya, all dee vay from Germaney!"

 

"He's adorable, Applejack," Grand Pear said to his mother.  "His father must be a Pegasus, where is he?  I must meet the happy stallion who sired this incredible foal!"

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Mac seemed content to finish up his snack, though his poor tongue was sure paying the price. Nevertheless it seemed they were nearly done preparing, at least Granny Smith and Applejack were. With all AJ’s fretting you woulda thunk Discord himself had pulled some cockeyed trick to divert his sister from her chores! Course she was tenacious so nothing short of that or the ground tearing split woulda been fit to stop her from celebrating Zap’s first birthday. Even in that case he was sure she’da found a way. That cake looked great! While Granny’s pies were the best, her cakes t’weren’t nothing to shake a stick at neither! All this work sure did make him hungry. He had a hearty breakfast, but after a day at the farm there wasn’t no way a pony wouldn’t a been famished. But he supposed eating could wait. It was likely to be up to him to carry all this outside and put it in place. He wondered just how much they prepared. It wasn’t an Apple bonanza if the whole family wasn’t invited. He did know not everypony could make it, why with Braeburn so busy at Apploosa he’d be surprised if he could take the time to head on down, or with what with Full Steam always on the road, pulling steam. He was sure they’d send their well wishing one way or another.

 

It wasn’t until the clattering tumble of blocks and a foal did Mac get pulled out of his contemplation of having just one more bite. Seems little Zap took a spill. Knowing full well a young colt could get himself in all sortsa trouble when their ma or pa ain’t lookin’, it wasn’t hard to see that he done contemplated whether ta pick himself up or set off and get the coddling he well deserved at this age. He went full go with the latter and let out a big cry that was sure to turn AJ’s heart, despite knowing they were just crocodile tears. Lucky fella as he was now for once he was old enough it wouldn’t quite work the same. He would have to power through the odd boo boo and tumble. Mac rolled his eyes, but chuckled. There wasn’t any pony who could say he wasn’t a bit of a wolf caller in his youth, that is crying when there weren’t naught to cry about. All foals did it for a while. He learned eventually and so would Zap.

 

The stallion stepped forward, brushing a few blocks aside so nopony else found purchase to trip over them. He looked to Zap and raised a hoof. “Uh… there, there.” He puffed up his cheeks and smooshed his forehooves against them to make a pbbbt noise and cheer the little fella up.

 

The Omphalos of the tooting tuba was sure a familiar sound. Seems their first few guests arrived! Oh! And lookit that! Uncle Apple Strudel and Grand Pear arrived together! It was nice to see Grand Pear coming along from so far, and while the same could be said of Uncle Apple Strudel -- he wouldn’t miss a celebration if he could help it. It was great excuse to blow that tuba of his and make some music! He looked to Applejack, wondering if there was much left to go. With guests already arriving maybe cleaning up Zap Apple was a good idea. He tapped his sister’s shoulder.

 

“Well…?” He started cleaning up the blocks and scattered toys, lest there be little room for Apples to breeze through the dining area when fetching more food. Plus leaving blocks scattered around Granny’s rocking chair wasn’t the best idea. He looked to Grand Pear and Apple Strudel. “Long ride?” he greeted in his usual manner. To the point, as he was, but it didn’t stop him from approaching after the blocks were stacked aside and moving to give them each a hug! They were family after all, no strangers.

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Dash couldn't wait! She had picked the best of all gifts for her little stallion! The perfect items to say that she loved him! 

 

The pegasus bolted onto the scene at Sweet Apple Acres, swooping in low to give her mare a kiss before landing in front of Zap Apple. 

 

"Aw! Why does it look like you've been crying little stallion?" She brushed the tears off his muzzle and grinned at him before giving the little guy an affectionate nuzzle. "Can't believe he's a year old already!"

 

She trotted over to AJ and brushed a stray strand of forelock off her face. AJ was always beautiful and Dash couldn't help but gaze deep into her eyes for a split second. "Can't believe we've been parents for a year already!"

 

The mare's mind went over all that had happened in the past year. They had all grown in so many ways. Rainbow had never felt so sure of herself and so unsure at the same time. She would get through it all though, help to raise a proper stallion, and make sure the love of her life knew she was loved. 

 

It was then that she noticed all the others around. It was almost comical how often she had tunnel vision for her little family. "Oh! Hey everypony! Thanks for coming to the party!"

 

*Sorry for lack of graphics...it's been a while...

 

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The artificial tears dried up instantly the moment Applejack arrived in hoof.  Attention was a foal's life, and Zap would get all of it.  At least for now.  Most of the time, Zap could not understand everything the family would say to him or around him, but he understood repeated words and words of importance.  Such as Zappy, play, and apple.  Mother encouraged him to speak names of family members.  Zap didn't know why these ponies were related, or why relation even matter, but he knew if he was a good boy, Granny Smith would give him sweet treats.  And if he was not a good boy?  Sweet treats anyway.  "Momma!  Ungle.  Apple.  Ant.  Anny.  Greygrey.  Apple." Zap became immediately puzzled when mother said a new word he wasn't familiar with.  "Birfday?"  His head tilted curiously as more and more family members came to give him attention.  He could not keep up with everypony, but he did feel special.  Extra special today.

 

Just then, Rainbow Dash arrived in front of everyone, kissing Zap.  Zap exclaimed, "Dassy!"  His wings buzzed in place, his inner-pegasus raging with excitement.

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Zap Apple was the greatest foal to ever exist. He was going to be the best Apple stallion ever which was a tall order considering the Apple family had a history of producing great stallions. She knew this because he had advanced linguistics skills: He talked real nice! He didn't have any trouble saying the words or a variation of the words she wanted to hear and that was good enough. She hugged him tight. “You're a smart cookie, ain'tcha? Why, maybe you'll be so smart you'll become some sorta fancy science pony! Twilight could teach ya all sortsa things!” She said happily because everything was fine, her eye twitching. “But Ah think you're better off here for now, you little stinker,” she gave him an Eskimo kiss and then raspberried his belly for a moment. She loved being around him. He was perfectly fine and everything was always fine, because it was, and she was, and so was he. Ear twitch.

Granny was right. He did have spunk and an adventurous spirit. Applejack laughed, somewhat nervously. “Yep, he sure does Granny. Between our Apple-scented adventurism and stubborness and Rainbow Dash's...err, energy, he won't be bothered by much. No obstacle in his path! Nothin' will stop him. Well, except when Ah ask him to, because you're such a good little fella, ain'tcha?” She asked him, half pleading for him to remember the affirmative answer and the other just to get the words out.

More family started to arrive! Applejack was well practiced in the ways and means of protection and covered up Zap's ears as the tube went off. Uncle Strudel was a hoot and a holler, always energetic and brought a nice presence. He was always positive, or so it seemed. As an elder he had a whole lot of wisdom to share and the Apples are made sure that their elders weren't just respected, but that newer generations learned to listen and learn. With ponies like Uncle Strudel around, little Zap had all the advantages a little-big colt needed! “Uncle Strudel! So happy y'all could make it! Ah bet lil' ol' Zap here will love your present,” She said, her surprise evident in her voice. By all rights she wasn't really expecting extended family to show up to a birthday party for a foal. But then again, they were Apples, and Apples were the greatest family in the world.

Another new addition to that collective was Grand Pear. Everypony made mistakes and he paid for them in a more deeply personal ways than most: With what was left, she was happy to share with him all the fruits of that forbidden union. “Sure is a pegasi, just like his other momma! He's gonna be a real good flier too. Runs in the genes for 'em, Rainbow's a Wonderbolt an' all,” she said, getting up with Zap in tow and bringing him close to the two elderly stallions could see the soon-to-be-greatest-stallion-ever. Ear twitch. “Ah'm sure she'll be here soon. She won't miss his first birthday. Not ever, nope-”

And speak of the devil! With a flash and a dash Rainbow made her appearance. Applejack was pretty happy to see her for around seven hundred reasons. She was a busy mare, buy with Wonderbolting and weather control taking up so much of her time that Applejack sometimes felt like a third wheel in the order of things. She knew that was downright silly, but staying up three weeks every night with a weeping foal feeding on can dull your sense of priorities. Beyond all that though, seeing Rainbow Dash filled Applejack with powerful warmth, and she pulled Rainbow in for a hug when she came in. “Yeah, a full year! Heh, just one of many, Sugarcube,” she said, wanting mightily for Rainbow to share in the joy of motherhood for a month while Applejack...worked on the farm or some equally relaxing activity. “Glad you got here just in time. Ah was startin' ta fret that you'd miss the party!” She replied with a nice, calming laugh and not at all a somewhat screwy one. She shook her head, ear twitch.

Zap said his version of Dashie, and Applejack made sure to encourage it. “That's right! Momma Dashie!” Yep, his little pegasus wings sure did buzz in excitement whenever the more famous, brightly colored, winged member of the pair was around. She wasn't jealous; it was Applejack little Zappy Wappy would trot to when he scrapped his knees. Big Mac indicated it was time to go. He was right, of course: He was right about most things. Good head on his shoulders. "Thanks for pickin' up, Big Mac. Ah was gonna have Zap here pick 'em up later so we can teach him all about cleaning up after ourselves, but Ah reckon we'll be too full of toys and having fun with cake to notice!" Snort laugh. "Ah think we're ready ta go. Who wants ta head into tha kitchen naw?”


Meanwhile, Apple Bloom iced the cake, excitedly taking a few free samples of the frosting along the way all incognito like.

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Granny Smith spotted Apple Bloom finishing up the icing on the birthday cake out of the corner of her eye.  Slowly, she turned her head and shouted, "GREAT JOB THAR, APPLE BLOOM!", briefly interrupting the ongoing conversation taking place in the front room.  "Whoops!  Sorry bout that, y'all.  Don't mind me, jist keep a talkin'!"

 

As Granny listened and witnessed other members of the family greeting and hugging Uncle Apple Strudel and Zap Apple, hearing Big Mac ask them about their trip.

 

"Oh, zee trip vas vonderba!" the bearded stallion announced.  "It vas a nice zeppelin ride from Germaney, oh zee beautiful sky!  Big Mac, have you ever been flying?  You vould love it!"

 

"I just got back from Vanhoover," Grand Pear explained, "I was fortunate to have returned just in time to receive your lovely invitation to this party!"

 

Granny Smith watched the arrival of Rainbow Dash with great joy.  The elderly mare nodded at AppleJack's affirmation, smiling widely until Grand Pear asked about the 'father' of little Zap Apple.  The gray maned mare knew all about the origin of little Zap Apple.  She didn't quite understand the 'mechanics' of it, but Granny tried not to think about it too much.  Zap Apple was super cute and her first great grandchild and that was good enough for Granny!  As she thought hard about how to respond, AppleJack answered Grand Pear's question.  This caused the patriarch of the Pear family to look instantly perplexed and confused.

 

"What?  How?  Rainbow Dash and.. But.. But.."

 

"Do not looked so surprised, Herr Pear!" Uncle Apple Strudel neighed.  "After all, Equestria is a land of powerful magic!"

 

"But.. I do not understand.."

 

"Who in tarnation cares about understandin', ya old plow horse!" Granny Smith said playfully to her former rival.  "Thar he is!  He's our first great grandfoal!  I can't explain zap apples, but I know they come every season.  I can't explain THIS Zap Apple either, but I know he's gonna grow up ta make the whole family proud!"

 

"You're right Granny Smith," Grand Pear said with a nod as he walked up to AppleJack and Rainbow Dash.  "I am so glad I could be here to celebrate this adorable foal's first birthday!  I'm Grand Pear and I know YOU are the famous Rainbow Dash!  You, AppleJack and your friends have saved our fair land from disaster numerous times!  It is indeed a pleasure to meet you in person!"

 

"Alrighty folks!  Time ta mosey on over ta the kitchen, let's git this here party started!" Granny Smith shouted, nudging Uncle Apple Strudel and Grand Pear in that direction.

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Big Mac was glad to see the little guy get over his tears as quick as he did. They did have family to greet. He t’weren't much surprised great uncle Apple Strudel made the trip. Given it was a party and the theme he never seemed one to miss on a family celebration or reunion. He was pleasantly surprised Grandpa Pear made the trip, given he had his own business to care for. It would do Zap good to know his more immediate family at an early age. Good meetings always started early. Though on that he did sort of fret about how he'd do meeting all the others. While Dash and AJ coupled up and producing a foal, alone, seemed overall as normal as Ponyville got. There were the other hoot and a half a nonsensical tomfoolery that really did to try his patience. And he was a patient, understanding pony.

 

But golly there were times he worried the town’s done lost its marbles.

 

Oh! Applejack caught his suggestion, which was good. He'd nearly forgot he made it as he had turned his focus on piling away the blocks. Zap could do with a bit of combing back, especially after his spill. Playing did rough up a mane, but he also had feathers to contend with. Granny praised Apple Bloom’s work and Mac could only agree. It looked so good! He couldn't wait to have a bite proper, though seemed his littlest sister was already trying out the product. Heh. Working in the kitchen had to be quite the job! Being able to snack and nibble on your confectioneries… Mac didn't have skill for cooking. Aside from upkeep on the farm the most he was skilled with was that and even so there were times the equipment or structures suffered under his heftier hoof.

 

He'd start on by helping carry the heavier food items to the tables and well needed seating to lay out enough room for everypony, plus some. One never knew who would drop by and that was just how parties ended up! Especially an Apple party. Though Mac was worried. Applejack has been awful twitchy since the beginning of the day, and it wasn't her usual tensions that had her aiming for the stars when the treetops were just as swell. Something about how she focused her gaze and continued to assure the wellness of the perfectly fine situation made him think she was far beyond ordinary nervous about Zappy’s first year. He did suppose being a mom was tough, but AJ was one of the toughest ponies he knew. She was his sister after all!

 

After hauling out the cake to the main table the eldest of the Apple siblings approached Applejack. “Hey…” he took care at the accusation, regardless of it's truth. AJ was always quite resistant to admitting this here and that, though she's gotten better at it over the years. “Chin up.” He reached out a hoof to Pat her side.


If she needs help cleaning Zap Apple up for the party he was more than willing to take him off her hooves for a moment while she collected herself.

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Rainbow smiled at her Applejack and gave her a kiss on the muzzle. She took a step back, tilting her head slightly. Something seemed a bit odd with the love of her life... she wondered what it could be. She would ask later, not now. She knew better than to bring up a question that could be tricky in front of relatives and the like. Rainbow had learned quite a bit about AJ over the past year. The strain of raising their little bundle of joy had changed them both. Not for the better or for the worse.. just changed them.

 

She nodded to Grand Pear as he made his introduction. They of course were trying to understand how the little Zappers had been born at all. Magic was really the one and only explanation needed. Granny was sure right about that! Rainbow was glad the family was able to move on from questioning his birth quickly and get to partying.

 

"Hey there Grand Pear! AJ told me all about you! Glad to meet you!" She shook his hoof before her eyes started to follow the crowd to where the party was going to take place. "You like cake I hope!"

 

Rainbow couldn't hide the gleam in her eyes as Zap buzzed his little wings and continued to babble out words. He was gonna be fast! He was gonna be smart! He was gonna be resourceful! He was gonna be well... the best stallion Equestria had ever seen! How could he not be with Rainbow Dash and Applejack as his mommas?

 

 

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Zap was starting to really be entertained by everything and everypony that was around him.  Applejack would start asking him rhetorical questions.  Zap knew these were rhetorical, even if he didn't know what the word rhetorical even meant, because the kind of question a big pony asks that does not warrant answering was what Zap considered to be a random statement said just for fun.  So he would instinctively respond by doing just that.  Saying random words, just for fun.  "Ay-cha.  Ay-cha."  Applejack eskimo kissed Zap and blew laughs into his belly, laughs he could not contain.  "Ghee hehehe," he giggled incessantly until mother stopped the torture.  He stood back up and continued his rant, being acknowledged by Rainbow Dash and the other elder ponies.  "Ay-cha, ay-cha.  Ay-cha!"  We trotted around towards the kitchen where he saw Uncle Big Mac talking with Mommy.  The thought ran in his head, and his repeated word changed.  "Yup. yupyup, yup yup yup."  Zap circled the kitchen, either waiting to be noticed, or waiting for a new fun word to say.

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Applejack understood to some extent the confusion of Grand Pear. Nopony ever really pried into the lives of parents except for close friends. Sort of off-limits to the uninitiated. Most foals were born and rarely did anypony ever really stop to consider the fact that with the gender imbalance of Equestria how that could be so. Unicorns understood it better. They studied magic and how it bent known laws around. In this case, it was Twilight who told Applejack after the farmer and her mare had gotten entangled in a magical explosion. At first they had been certain that the child was the result of Twilight;s magic going haywire, but that wasn't...entirely accurate. “Ah understand tha confusion. Equestria has mighty powerful magic, and love plays heavily on it. Two mares love one another enough? Well, yeah. Sometimes tha natural laws bend all sortsa ways for magic. We ain't tha first or last,” Applejack explained slowly, a few twitches of the eye making their way in. There was more to it of course but she wasn't going to bore them in the same way Twilight had bored her.

It wasn't long before Big Mac tried to comfort her. Chin up, he said- she smiled. He was a comforting sort. But she felt fine because everything was fine. There was no problem, even if there was. Truth was, being a momma was rough, especially when you still worked all your normal hours, ran a storefront, worked the farm, and kept all your other engagements. Big Mac needed to work as well- he was a big help, but hours were long. Apple Bloom was a help, still a bit young and adventurous. The kicker was that unlike when Abby was younger and the responsibilities fell on AJ and Mac, Granny Smith couldn't help that much. She wanted to, mind you, but she was older, a bit crankier. Applejack had operated for a full year on little sleep every night because it was in her nature to rush towards her little fella with even the smallest cry. Applejack's tics were all subconscious. She didn't register the twitches, the flicks, the swift head turns when nothing was wrong. “Just tired, Mac. Ah'll be fine,” she said reassuringly, though it wasn't clear who she was saying it for more.

Maybe she was saying it for Rainbow, who gave Applejack a kiss and a quick snuggle. She didn't want Dash to think that she was angry or anything like that. Ponies deserved to chase their dreams and Rainbow had achieved hers. While Applejack would love a few weeks off to work the farm, she would ate herself for every moment of it. Well, maybe not. Everything was fine and that would be even more fine with Rainbow most of the time, but even Applejack's semi-delirious motherhood state had certain standards. “How's Spitfire treatin' ya? Heard yer wing had a bit of a sprain. Didn't think it'd hold you back any but Ah wrote her and told her ta not hurt you none, or Ah'd have ta bury her ten feet under the ground,” she considered what she had said, “well, Ah was kiddin' about that. Hope she understood that, hahahahaha,” her laugh trailed off as they entered the kitchen. Besides, she had a Zap Apple to watch.

He was being absurdly adorable. Apple Bloom was next to him and the smaller Apple aunty gave him a big hug. “Yer gonna have some cake, little nephew!” she said, covered in frosting as she was. Then elder ponies showed up, and she trotted up to them and launched into a big hug. “Uncle Strudel! Grand Pear! Ah'm so happy ta see ya! Uncle Strudel, see mah cutie mark? See it?” She said, showing it off. “It's real nice! Oh, Grand Pear, Ah made ya somethin' extra sweet,” she trotted off into the pantry and pulled out pastry. “It's one half apple, one half pear, but all tart! Ah call it, 'Pear-Apple Tart Extravaganza!' ahn you should try it,” she pushed it towards him. It wasn't very good, not at all, and not that Apple Bloom knew it, but she was proud of it nonetheless.

Applejack picked up Zap Apple and put him on the table, not far from the cake. She had her eyes on him. That cake would be fine. And speaking of fine- “eyup, eyup, eyup!” she said along with her Zappy, imitating her big brother. She shot her brother a look. “Well, looks like somepony's takin' thar speech patterns off of ya! Eyup!” She giggle-snorted, her nose twitching. “Sounds like them fritters are done, Granny! Smellin' as sweet and nice as your best batch. We're gonna fill you up with all sorts of goodness. Yer gonna remember this forever!” She explained to her colt, sure that everything would be fine.
 

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AppleJack's statement reminded Granny Smith of one essential fact she had forgotten during all the pre-party activities:  She still had another batch of apple fritters in the oven!

 

"Land's sakes!  Gotta git them fritters out!  One side, y'all!" Granny Smith neighed as the elderly mare made a mad dash for the oven, pushing aside many of the ponies who stood in her way with a surprising burst of speed and strength.  Granny's race to the fritters toppled both Uncle Apple Strudel and Grand Pear.

 

"Granny!" Grand Pear yelled as he and the bearded Germane stallion got back up on their four hooves.

 

"Herr Pear, mein sister vould run through a vall of timberwolves ta prevent her baked goods from burning in dee oven!" Uncle Apple Strudel laughed.

 

"Whew!  Jist made it in time!" Granny announced as she opened the over door and took the freshly baked fritters out.  "I wonder if'n I kin find a volunteer who'd wanna taste test this here batcha fritters ta make sure they're done up right!"

 

Granny turned and smiled at Big Mac, giving the burly stallion a wink.

 

Meanwhile, Grand Pear turned to face Rainbow Dash to answer her question.

 

"Indeed I do love cake, young mare," the Patriarch of the Pear family said with a smile, "and I love cake even more when I'm dining, with family!"

 

"Vell said, Herr Pear!" added Uncle Apple Strudel as the bearded stallion turned towards AppleJack, "Ja!  I see dee cutie mark Frau Applebloom, und it is vonderba!  Und you, Herr Zap Apple, I know you like cake also, ja?  In dis family, you vill eat much cake und pies und fritters und.."

 

"That thar's enough speechafy'n, brother!" Granny Smith interrupted, pointing at the birthday cake with the single cake lit on top of it "Time ta sing Happy Birthday ta our birthday colt!  AppleBloom, ya might need ta help yur nephew blow out that thar candle!  Ok y'all, commence ta singin'!  Here in Equestria, if'n ya sing a good enough song, music'll spring up outta nowhere ta help the song along!  Let's see if that works THIS time!"

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Applejack was a whole lotta things. She was earnest, dependable and, as she aged much more honest than from her reckless youth! But the most important trait, none withstanding her role as an Element of Harmony: she was a pony. Plain and simple. She was an Apple which made her a heckuva pony, but Apple or not she was still a pony and ponies had their limits. He woulda done loved Dash to be over more, but the mares were as busy as bees in the spring, on the daily! He was as helpful as he could be but what between field work, apple bucking and deliveries his hooves were mightily full! AJ assured him she was quite alright, but he would reckon she needed some sorta break…

 

For now, though, they had what and else to focus on. It was Zap Apple's day! He's been up and about a whole year and he had many healthy and, hopefully happy, years to go. It wasn't that Mac was some sort of neigh Sayer, but he recalled Applejack's rebellious streak as if it were yesterday. Nevermind his other mother being the infamously stubborn and hardheaded Rainbow Dash! Far be it for him to judge others but, land sake Zap has got a mule’s fortitude built right in. It was going to be quite a time dealing with that. He chuckled as the little fella seemed to pick up a few words from him. He'll have himself a good vocabulary, that was for sure. Mac wasn't a chatterbox, but Gale had meaningful things to say when he had to say em!

 

He perked up when Granny offered somepony to test the freshly baked fritters. Mac parted his jaws, only for his stomach to answer for him with a voracious sounding growl! “Uhhh, hehehe. Sure thing Granny!” He blushed a bit, that stomach of his betraying him.faster than he could say Eeyup!


There t'weren't no pony quicker than Big MacIntosh when fritters were involved! He sped over and tossed one if the freshly baked fritters into his muzzle. After a few customary “Ah haaa hot!” He wolfed it down, nodding graciously at Granny's fine cooking. Golly they had been lucky to learn the best of the best from her! After gulping down the fritter he moseyed on over to the table. It was time already? He would clear his throat and out from that voice was the most obnoxiously rich singing that seemed much out of place for a foal’s birthday wishes! Leave it to Big Mac to go all out with the singing.

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