Books. They were everywhere. Books on the walls, books on the floor, books on surfaces books had no business being. It was a library but the little dragon could swear there were more books in the building than could be properly held on the shelves. There were stacks of books as tall as him and taller still beyond. If he'd wanted, Spike could have built himself a little fort out of the non-fiction books around him alone and a surrounding fence with the remainder.
"Spike, are you still down there?" The purple princess alicorn called to her assistant, standing atop the stair case leading to their room. "I think I know which ones I need now. Can you get me Doctor Deceptive's Devious Duplications. It should be right around where you are."
"On it!" Spike called back up as he began to sift through the piles around him. After doing this for so long Spike had actually become rather skilled at sniffing out a document or novel upon request. But with Twilight turning the library upside down for the books she wanted it was getting more difficult by the volume. "Let's see, Doctor Doom's Double Deadly Donuts of... er... what was it called again!?" Spike said as he wasn't sure if he'd be able to remember the title let alone dig up the book.
"It should still be on the wall. Third case to the right, bottom shelf, green cover." Well that made it easier. Spike hopped over the various piles of books until he was able to reach the shelf and locate the required text. As soon as he got his hands on it though and pulled it from the shelf it was encased in a pink magic and floated away from his claws up the stairs. "Thanks Spike!" Twilight called down as she retreated back into the room. Spike let out a frustrated sigh as he navigated around the piles of books once more to get to the stairs and climb upward.
"Twilight, is all of this really necessary? You can't read more than one book at once anyway." Spike said with the knowledge in the back of his mind that it would probably be him that was going to have to place everything back in their proper order. Twilight was already laid out on her bed, the collected books around her in two neat stacks on the floor. She had a piece of parchment before her and a stack of several more nearby, ink and quill ever ready. After all that hunting and gathering for those books she was the only one that looked satisfied from the work.
"I know Spike, but I just feel at a loss if I don't have all the materials I want within easy reach. Thank you for helping me get all of this together. I know we went a little over board trying to find them all this time." Spike put his claws to his back and stretched himself out, making a small cracking noise as his back popped.
"I'll say. Now all the others gotta go back." Spike sighed again and turned to face the stairs to begin his next chore. Though this audible frustration wasn't lost on his friend when she heard it. Twilight tapped her chin with the soft tip of her quill as she tried to think of a way to cheer her assistant up. Thankfully something came to mind.
"Oh Spike, there is actually one more favor you could do me if you don't mind." Spike stopped at the top of the stairs and turned to face the princess.
"Sure, what did you have in mind?"
"Well you see I actually will need at least one more material. It's a crystal prism. Since I'll be working on new magic that involves making illusions I can use it to not only create many different illusions at once but even disperse and remove them entirely." Twilight's voice picked up with an edge of excitement as she stated each word. Obviously eager to begin putting her ideas to the test once she was sure everything was going to go according to plan. "I'm afraid I don't have one here, but there is someone in Ponyville who should have them available." When the smile came upon Spike's face Twilight knew that Spike was on the same page as herself.
"Raaaarity." The dragon boy said dreamily and Twilight Sparkle rolled her eyes. Still it was nice to see him cheer up so quickly.
"Exactly. Would it be okay if you ran over and asked to borrow a couple if she doesn't mind?"
"I'm on the case!" Spike said with a salute and turned on his heel, dropping down the stairs in a serious of painful sounding thumps and bumps before crashing into the book pile below. Twilight winced and closed her eyes as he fell. "I'm okay! Don't worry, I'm on my way." The alicorn princess couldn't help but giggle at his response as she returned to her studies, confident in her assistant's abilities to complete his task.
With a short jog later in the day fueled by the power of love the little dragon was soon at his favorite unicorn's door step. Spike stepped inside after opening the door, the little bell over head ringing to announce his arrival. The sweet voice called from the back room out to him. "Just a minute, I'll be right there." Spike wasn't sure what Rarity may have been up to but he respected her request, taking a moment to look over the dress dummies that show cased some of Rarity's finer works. The little dragon didn't really understand the finer points of fashion but he did know what he liked and Rarity often made things he liked Or maybe they were just things made by someone he liked? Didn't matter either way to him. "Sorry for the delay, how can I help you?" Rarity announced as she walked into the room. Looking as perfect as ever in Spike's opinion. "Oh, Spike. What brings you over today?"
"Hey there Rarity." Spike said cheerfully as he approached. "Actually I was here on an errand for Twilight. She wanted to know if you had any crystal prisms she could borrow?"
"Indubitably I do, darling. Right this way please." As if she had to request for him to follow. Spike felt as though he was walking on air itself when she lead him to her work room. "It may take some digging to find though, I've got things scattered about quite a bit." Spike's mind righted itself a little when Rarity suggested there was a task that needed to be completed. Being prepared to see a job through to completion was a habit he'd picked up from Twilight but had adopted into his own personality.
"Not a problem, after this morning I can help with just about any-whoa!" Spike stopped in his tracks. Rarity's work room was usually a little messy but things were down right chaotic in here. Rolls of fabric, paints, gems, sequins, dress dummies and even carpentry tools. He swore there was a drill hiding behind some pieces of cardboard in the corner. "You weren't kidding! What's all of this stuff for?"
"Well you see I promised Applejack I'd help her with some designer baskets to sell some of her crops in bulk this year. Then I told Fluttershy I wouldn't mind sewing up some bird nest blankets for all those sweet little chicks. THEN I promised Pinkie Pie I'd put together a new clown outfit for her upcoming parties. This isn't even considering the fact that I had orders for dresses lined up as well, along with accessories and keeping my promise to Sweetie Belle to finish her new comforter for her bed." Rarity's eyes seemed to widen with each item listed, retreating farther into her mind as the weight of every tasked layered onto her. "But" She said as her purple magic gripped a hold of a note book and floated it over to her. "I have my new planner to help with this. Tasks, dates and instructions for (almost) every item I need to do."
"Wow." Spike said in amazement. "Are you sure you're gonna be okay? I mean that's a lot to take on yourself." Rarity was amazing of course but even she had her limits.
"Oh Spiky-Wikey, thank you for your concern but have no fear. Rarity will come through in the end!" Her dramatic declaration was only for Spike's benefit and perhaps her own confidence but she delivered it as if she were on stage before an audience. Spike admired the showmanship lovingly. "Now lets find those crystal prisms for Twilight. They should be over there somewhere." Rarity motioned to a pile of gemstones sitting in part of the room, towering over the other piles of materials and glowing in such a way that it seemed to outshine everything else around him.
Spike eyed the pile of gems, licking his lips in hunger at the delicious assortments before him. "You can sort through it yourself, can't you Spike? I'll be near by in case you need my assistance." Rarity asked with confidence as she approached her draft table, leaving Spike to his task.
"Suuuuure." Spike said hungrily as he approached the pile, grinning to himself. Those crystals could be anywhere in this huge pile of gems but thankfully Spike had a nose that was suited to sniffing out just these kinds of things. Also he had a mouth that was suited to shrinking this pile down into something that was easier to sort through. Taking a ruby in hand Spike held it before him in anticipation.
"Oh and don't eat any of them please, I need them all for my projects." Well nuts.
"Right." Spike said a little disappointed but respected Rarity's wishes.
It took some time and a lot of sorting through a jumbled pile (and even more will power through a rumbling stomach) but Spike eventually found the two crystal prisms he was after. By the end of it every gem and jewel had been separated into a nice collection of their own individual type. Rarity was adding more notes to her book when Spike finally approached her with his mission accomplished. "Thanks for letting me search through your stuff Rarity, I think Twilight's going to be happy with these." Spike said showing off the two prisms he'd found.
"Why they're perfect, well done Spike. Oh and you even organized my gems! This is going to make things run much more smoothly."
"Aw shucks, it was just a happy accident after I got my claws into the job. I'm glad you like it though." Rarity tapped her chin as she looked over the various glittering piles and came to a decision. Floating a bag over to herself she took a gem from each pile and dropped it in before handing it to Spike.
"A good job deserves a reward I say, have a snack for the road won't you?" Spike took the bag gently in his claws when Rarity floated it over to him, marveling at the simple gift she'd bestowed upon him.
"Wow, really!? Thank you so much."
"Think nothing of it. Oh Spike, if you're not busy tomorrow would you mind visiting me again? Someone with your talents in sorting could certainly be helpful in these daunting tasks I've taken upon myself." Spike stopped and saluted Rarity dutifully in much the same way he'd done for Twilight earlier that day. "Perfection! I'll see you later then deary. Tah tah."
As the unicorn returned to her desk the little dragon showed himself out the front door. He was mindful that while he savored the flavor of the gems Rarity had given him that he didn't eat the very items he'd been sent to gather for Twilight. Today may had started out a bit annoying, what with all the work and organizing and searching he had to do, but at least it was all for his friends that he loved. On top of that tomorrow he got to spend the day with Rarity! At her request! He was so happy Spike leaped into the air and clicked his heels together. "Tomorrow's going to be perfect. I can't wait."
Bright and early the next day Spike was already on his way to Rarity's boutique. Twilight had given him permission to leave as there weren't any immediate chores she needed assistance with and she could tell he was eager to get a move on. It was too early for the boutique to be open for business so Spike knocked on the door this time instead of entering outright. He wasn't waiting long though as the door opened promptly and his favorite unicorn was there to great him. "Oh Spike, just the dragon I wanted to see." Spike could feel the heat on his cheeks with the obvious blush at her words. "Come on in, we should get started right away."
"Of course! I'm glad to help out. Just point me in the right direction and I'll handle any job your require." Spike said confidently as he puffed his chest in a manly display. "Do you need me to sort the fabrics? Or maybe there was something you needed moved into place or fixed?"
"Actually Spike I had a special job for you. I know it's a bit out of the ordinary but would you mind assisting me on fixing up this dress?" Rarity asked as she opened the door to the back room, a dress dummy set in the center with a nearly complete outfit adorned over it. "I could really use the extra claw so to speak."
"You want me? To work on this?" Spike asked amazed. Certainly he'd helped Rarity with a number of tasks before but never was he asked to directly assist in the creation of any of her products. "I mean I'm honored to but are you sure? Usually when it comes to working on clothing you're very private."
"Not to worry in the slightest, I have the client's exact instructions right here to follow and only a few more steps to go before we're done." Rarity said as she used her magic to float the note book off the drafting table and show it to Spike. Looking it over and then the dress he had to admit that even he could tell what steps had to happen next. "You needn't fear a thing, this can be a project we take on together. That's alright with you, isn't it Spike?" Rarity raised a hoof to the dragon's chin and looked into his eyes. Spike thought he felt his heart nearly leap out of his chest when she gave him that look.
"Perfect." Spike blink and cleared his throat. "I mean I'm perfectly fine with it! When should we start?"
"Right away of course. Come Spike, let us create splendor!"
And so they did. Rarity had completed most of the hard work already but the details still needed to be added. Gemstones, lace, buttons and fabric combined together over the course of that beautiful morning to become a stunning green dress that was sure to please a happy pony when she arrived that day to pick it up. Rarity added the finishing touches herself to the accompanying hat and placed it on the dress dummy, looking it over carefully. Spike was standing behind her at the ready to provide for her every need. "Hmm... it appears complete. I just want to be sure it's just right. Spike darling, can you check the notebook to be sure I didn't overlook anything."
"Right away!" Spike announced as he moved to the drafting table and reviewed the notes and pictures Rarity had drawn weeks previous in preparation for this day. "Hmmm... it says here you wanted to put three feathers at the front of her hat, not just two." The hat had a ribbon tied around the top with an emerald set in the middle and two feathers poking out of either direction. Rarity noted what her mistake and used her magic to float another feather to add to the very center.
"We're done! Wonderful. Thank you ever so much for your help Spike, things certainly moved along faster with you by my side." Spike swallowed a lump in his throat as he returned the note book to the table, trying to stay cool while getting such praise from the most special pony he'd ever met.
"Aw, it was nothing. I'm just glad I was able to help out." Spike said with genuine happiness in his voice. "It looks like we've managed to finish just in time for lunch. I guess you'd like to get something to eat huh? I won't keep you." Spike said as he got ready to exit the building, figuring Rarity must have had lunch plans already set up for herself. Usually she'd spend it with her sister or one of her friends. If he hurried back to the library Spike might be able to catch Twilight before she left to get food herself.
"Actually Spike if it wouldn't be too much trouble, perhaps you'd like to have a lunch date with me?" Rarity offered and Spike felt himself nearly become light headed when she uttered those magic words.
"Lunch.. d-date?" There was no way she actually used the "D" word when talking to him, right? Spike had never been shy of expressing his devotion to Rarity but for her to invite him to something like that well it just didn't-
"Unless you're not hungry." Spike's eyes went wide. Lifting his claw up to his mouth Spike bit into it suddenly while keeping eye contact with Rarity, who also got a more than surprised look at the sudden odd action.
"Ow. Well... this isn't a dream then." Spike said embarrassed, blowing on his now sore claw. "Yeah, yeah I'd love to."
"I'd say so if you've resorted to chewing on your own hand." Spike looked away humiliated over the action but cheered up when Rarity bumped her cheek against his own with a little nuzzle. "Come along now, I've been working on a recipe for sapphire muffins that I want to see if I've perfected."
"Oh boy, that sounds delicious!" Spike exclaimed as he followed along side her. Rarity gave Spike a smile that made him feel like his heart melted when she threw it his way.
"If it isn't any trouble and you have the time, would you like to help me with another project after lunch? I would certainly enjoy the company."
"You... you really mean that?" Spike wasn't sure how to take all of this. He'd gone from only being able to spend a few hours a day at most with Rarity to her requesting him to stay by her side.
"Well of course darling, I wouldn't ask it of my Spiky-Wikey if I didn't mean it." Rarity said with a lovely tone to her voice. Spike couldn't resist.
"Alright!" He said leaping up into the air and then covering his mouth quickly right after. "Ahem... I mean... I'd be honored." With that settled Rarity went to work making a delicious lunch for the both of them. It was one of the best Spike had ever eaten.
The sun was already setting by the time the door to the library opened and the dragon Twilight Sparkle had been waiting for was the one to come through it. Twilight sat up from the comfy pillow she'd been resting on while reading from the second half of books that she'd gathered the previous morning. "There you are Spike, I was getting worried."
"Hey Twilight." Spike said with a loud yawn as he closed the door behind him and walked into the tree house home. "Sorry if I kept you waiting. How's the studying going?" Twilight closed her book and set it back on the pile, using her wings to rise up off her pillow and land a little awkwardly back on her hooves.
"It's going great! I'm almost ready to start practicing what I'm learning here. With those crystal prisms Rarity let me borrow it should be a cinch." Twilight looked over the sleepy dragon as he wobbled on his feet. "Speaking of Rarity it looks like she put you to work huh?" Twilight gave Spike a soft rub on his head with her hoof.
"Actually the work wasn't that hard at all, I don't know why I'm so beat." Spike said as he approached a chair and took a nice break off his feet. "Rarity needed to weave some baskets for Applejack tomorrow so she can try to sell some over stock of apples. All I did was weave and paint them." Twilight looked him over with concern.
"How many did you make?"
"Only like... what, thirty of them?"
"Thirty!? By yourself?" Twilight used her magic to float a glass of water over to her assistant who drank it appreciatively.
"Yeah, Rarity did the other thirty. It went kind of quick actually. While I was there I felt really great, it wasn't until I got back that I was ready to crash." Twilight grinned to herself at Spike's explanation. "What?"
"Sounds like the power of loooove was giving you quite the bit of endurance." The princess teased her assistant lightly, Spike blushing in his chair and crossing his arms defensively.
"I-I just did what I'd do for any friend, that's all!" Twilight giggled to herself and walked up to Spike, putting a wing around him.
"Sorry to tease you like that Spike, it's just I think you got lost in your work is all and didn't realize how exhausting it really was. It's not the first time, you always put one hundred percent of yourself into everything you do for somepony else." Spike let out a sigh as he thought about Twilight's words.
"Yeah, I guess you're right."
"Naturally." Twilight responded with a bit of cockiness in her tone. "Now should we get dinner started? Maybe we can recharge that fire of yours before it's time to hit the sack." Spike nodded and got to his feet again, heading to the kitchen to help Twilight make their meal for the night.
"Oh um, Twilight? If it's okay with you can I go over to Rarity's again tomorrow morning to help her deliver the baskets?" Twilight was pulling out a pan and cutting board with her magic when Spike asked. She turned and raised an eyebrow the dragon's way as her magic continued to pull out ingredients. "She asked if it would be alright if I was there to assist her again."
"Again? Well... okay. I guess it's alright so long as I don't get you back completely worn out. I don't like seeing you so tired after just a day of chores." Spike nodded enthusiastically.
"Not to worry, I'll be sure to pace myself so that way I can work as your assistant too." Spike said proudly and Twilight couldn't help but smile his way.
"It's not that, I just don't want to see my friend working himself ragged. I'm glad you're enjoying your time with Rarity but just don't over do it, okay?"
"Not a problem, you can count on me." She sure could. The two spent the rest of their night putting together a tasty meal and ending it in their respective beds. It was odd to Twilight that Rarity was suddenly asking for so much of Spike's time but maybe it was a good thing? After all they did get along well and it made Spike happy for sure. She just hoped he wasn't getting his hopes up too high for something that wasn't there.
Along the dirt path the two traveled, the lovely white unicorn pulling a cart full of weaved and painted baskets behind her along with an extra bit of cargo in tow. Spike was resting amongst the piles of baskets in the cart at Rarity's suggestion. He'd helped load them up for her and since there wasn't much he could do to pull the cart itself she offered for him to relax on the way. While the ride was nice it did raise a little bit of concern with the young dragon. "Rarity are you sure it's okay having me back here? I'm not too heavy am I?"
"Not at all deary, the wheels do most of the work for me and it's a gentle slope down to Sweet Apple Acres. I may be a lady but I can handle myself as well, you know." Rarity said with a tone of pride in her voice. Spike climbed up off his back and leaned forward over the edge of the cart to watch the exquisite pony pull him along.
"Okay then. Thanks for inviting me with you by the way. Twilight was a little worried I'd come home tired again tonight but delivering a few baskets is a lot simpler than making them."
"Don't even mention it Spike, after all you did to help me construct them you deserve to be present at the delivery." Rarity rounded the corner and went through the gate to Applejack's property. The blonde Earth Pony was waiting for them right outside her home. Carts of her own near by filled to the brim with, what else, apples. She waved a hoof as they approached. "Hello darling! How are you today?"
"Never better." Applejack replied with a hearty amount of energy and country twang. "Ah see ya brought over them baskets ah asked fer. Thank ya kindly for takin' the time tah make 'em fer me. Ah know ya got a full calender of other tasks tah keep ya busy."
"Happy to be of service, but you don't have to describe it as a chore. You're a friend before a client after all." Rarity said as she gripped a hold of one of the baskets with her magic, floating it out for Applejack to inspect. "Tah dah! Expertly woven and painted by yours truly. Oh, and Spike as well." Rarity said as she motioned back to her little scaled assistant. "The weaving part anyway, I did all the painting myself. I hope it came out the way you like, I have fifty-nine more just like it ready for whatever crops you need to fill them with." Applejack looked the basket over carefully. In fact she wasn't just looking the basket over, she was examining it from every angle. "Applejack? Is everything alright?"
The baskets themselves seemed sturdy enough to Spike when he was putting them together, even the ones he made himself. Rarity had given him specific instructions and his little claws were well suited to the task. Afterwards Rarity had painted them all a cheery shade of yellow and painted an apple, an ear of corn and a carrot going around the basket in a simple but charming design. All in all he thought they did a really good job on them. So it was weird Applejack was looking them over so intently. "Ya'll painted them yourself? Not Spike?" Applejack asked, the unicorn and the dragon shared a glance and then nodded in unison. "Well, actually they're perfect!" The duo let out a held breath together when she showed her appreciation.
"Oh thank goodness. For a moment I was worried you didn't like them." Spike could see how she got the impression, Applejack still seemed puzzled by it.
"It's not that ah don't like 'em none, just kinda surprised these are one of yours. I mean they're great but they're so..." Applejack tried to think of the most appropriate word to use. "Not gussied up." Rarity raised an eyebrow in confusion at that statement.
"Should I have... applied more 'gussy'?"
"Nah, ah like 'em fine. It's the first time ah've ever seen ya not apply jewelry, lace or sequins to an art project is all." Spike had to admit for one of Rarity's creations it was lacking a bit in the shimmer and shine, but delivered well on the quality. Besides Spike thought the simple paint job made them look pretty nice. "Don't fret none over it. Well guess ah better take 'em inta the barn."
"I'll help!" Spike offered as he made he was to the back of the cart and hopped out, taking a stack of baskets along with him in hand. Between the trio the cart was soon unloaded and Applejack had everything she needed to get started on her half of the job. Once Rarity received a bag of bits for her trouble in making the baskets her and Spike were on their way back up the hill. Though Spike took it upon himself to walk along side Rarity as he didn't want to weigh the cart down on her back with the uphill walk. Once they were clear of the farm Spike let out a sigh. "Well, I guess I should head back to the library then."
"Oh?" Rarity asked surprised. "Did Twilight say she needed you back after this trip?"
"Well... not really no." Spike thought it over, all she had really asked was for him to not be completely worn out tonight. She didn't say he had to rush back.
"Did she have any special assignment or favor she needed you to do?" Spike considered that carefully as well before coming to his conclusion.
"No. She didn't even say when she wanted me home."
"Well then..." Rarity said and batted her eyelashes. Spike felt his heart thump extra hard when she gave him that look. "Taking this cart back and forth has given me quite the appetite. Maybe you'd be a dear and make us some lunch?"
"Suuure." Spike said, unable to hide the tone of admiration in his voice. "I'd be happy to have lunch with you again."
"I do ever so appreciate it, Spiky-Wikey. If you could make me some pea soup that would hit the spot perfectly. You're welcome to whatever you want in the kitchen." Spike nodded as he watched the lovely unicorn with the purple mane, counting himself the luckiest dragon in the world just to be able to have a moment like this. "Oh and if we have time, maybe you could help me with some extra things that need done?"
"Whatever you say." The dragon boy said dreamily.
Later that night in the library Twilight was watching the door with an intense gaze, the entire building quiet aside from the clock that ticked the seconds by on the wall. Twilight's foot tapped a near by wooden table from the chair she was sitting in, feeling her patience tick away along with the clock. She glanced up at the time and then to her nearby pet owl who gave her a concerned "Hoo."
"One more minute, Owlicious. One more minute and then I'm going over there to find out why he's taking so long." Tick of a clock, tap of a hoof. Tock of a second, clop of her foot. Tick, tap. Tock, clop. Tick, tap. Tock, clop. Seconds ticking, tapping, tocking and clopping away until... "Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, FOUR, THREE-"
"Hey you two." Spike said as he opened the door to the library, looking as cheerful as could be. Twilight let out a breath.
"One second to spare." She said as she rose to her hooves from her chair.
"What's that?" Spike asked confused as he glanced between the princess and her pet.
"Spike look how late it is. I thought you were coming home early tonight?" Twilight tried to keep the worry in her voice to a minimum but she was having a hard time hiding it. "What took you so long?" Spike shrugged off her concern, something that didn't earn him any more sympathy from the purple alicorn.
"I was just helping Rarity some more is all. It wasn't even that hard this time. She asked me to gather materials and cut a few patterns out for her dresses while she worked on those little tiny comforters for Fluttershy's birds. It was super easy. Should I get started on dinner?" Spike said as he strolled to the kitchen. Twilight was a mixed bag of emotions at the moment as her little dragon assistant seemed to be in high spirits but that didn't make her feel much better that she'd been here worrying about him most of the night. Twilight followed along after him as he put on his apron and chef's hat.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Twilight asked looking him over again.
"Of course, never better. Why I could make an entire vegetable lasagna right now with how great I feel!" Spike said as he held a spatula up over his head like a proud scepter. Then promptly fell to the kitchen floor on his face as his body collapsed.
"Spike!" Twilight shouted as she used her magic to pick the little dragon up, looking him over intently. Spike shook his head to clear the cobwebs.
"Well... maybe I should stick to just noodles and garlic bread?" Spike asked with a nervous laugh. Twilight wasn't interested in his jokes however as she was examining him all over.
"I can't believe I let you go out today. Are you feeling ill? Is your nose stuffed up? Let me see your tongue." Twilight pulled the forked tongue out of Spike's mouth to look it over much to the dragon's dismay. "Nothing irregular. Do you have a fever? Let me take your temperature." Twilight put her head against Spikes. "Oh my gosh, you're so warm! I should get some medicine."
"Twilight." Spike said flatly. "I'm a fire breathing dragon, I'm always warm."
"Oh." Twilight said in realization. "Well... still you just fell over. That's not good. Maybe you should stay in bed and rest up tomorrow?"
"But Twilight, Rarity asked me to help deliver the blankets to Fluttershy's place tomorrow." Twilight sighed, this had to stop somewhere.
"I'm pretty sure Rarity can handle a few blankets all by herself without your help Spike." Spike's eyes softened at that statement as he looked down at the floor. The hurt expression on his face dug at Twilight's heart.
"Yeah, you're probably right. I mean if I'm not going to be any use then there's no reason for me to stick around, is there?" Spike took off his chef's hat and apron, tossing them on the counter and trudging past Twilight to the stairs. "Sorry I worried you, I guess I'll go to bed early then." Twilight grumbled in frustration as he walked by. She wasn't sure how to handle this at all but she couldn't just leave it the way it was. Taking to her wings Twilight flew over the dragon and landed in front of him.
"Spike wait. If... if you're feeling alright tomorrow morning, then I don't see why you can't go out with Rarity again." Spike's eyes lit back up like two little torches were suddenly ignited behind his irises. "BUT! Only if you're feeling better, really feeling better. And if you and Rarity get lunch together again I want you back here afterwards. No extra jobs, Rarity's a big girl and can handle giving me back my assistant for an afternoon."
"Not to worry!" Spike said as he threw himself at Twilight and gave her a big hug. It caught the alicorn by surprise at first but she returned it with her front legs soon after. "So uh, should I get started on dinner?"
"Actually Spike, I'll make it for us. You just concentrate on getting healthy." Twilight gave Spike a little rub on the top of his head as she smiled at him. She knew it bothered him to not be doing something at almost all times but it was important to her that he rest up for the night. "Hope you don't mind those buttered noodles and garlic bread though. My talent's magic, not cooking." Twilight took to her wings again as she awkwardly flew and landed back in the kitchen, using her magic to get everything ready. Spike took a chair at the table and let out a yawn once he was seated.
"Too bad you can't just magic up some food. Then you could instantly have those hay burgers and fries you like so much at will." Twilight giggled a little to herself at the idea... and refrained from asking Spike to write that down for her to research later. Maybe some spells were too dangerous (her waist line would suffer the consequences for sure).
The next day came with the rise of the bright morning sun. Dew dripping from the leaves, a light breeze rustling through the trees and bushes all the while birds were chirping their morning songs. Some of the birds that is, not all as the others were tending to their chicks and keeping them warm from that slightly chilly breeze in the air. Thankfully however help was on the way in the form of tiny comforters that were settled down over the nests and around the little chicks. The yellow hooves of the pegasus that placed the blanket retreated gently from the nest as the mama and papa birds watched over their children happily.
"Is that more comfortable for you?" Fluttershy asked softly to the little birds, the chicks cheeping in appreciation to her for the help. The pegasus smiled and made a noise of sweet joy in return at hearing their song and lowered herself to the ground with her wings. "I'm so happy for you. Now you keep warm under there until it's time to learn how to fly on your own, okay?" The birds continued to sing happily in response and Fluttershy trotted away from the tree back towards her house. She had to let her friends know just how much she appreciated the assistance. "Oh Rarity, thank you ever so much for making those nest comforters for me and all the cute little birds. They're wonderful."
"You're most welcome, darling. It was my pleasure to help. Just knowing all those little chicks will be kept secure and snug in their adorable little blankets is enough." Rarity said sounding quite pleased with herself. "Spike is owed some thanks as well. If not for him I wouldn't have found the time to get them sewn together for you." The unicorn dished out praise for the little dragon and he looked embarrassed to receive it. Not at all uncommon for Spike when it came to Rarity.
"Aw shucks, I didn't do much really. I mean it was just cutting patterns out for you while you worked on all the hard stuff." Spike humbly corrected but smiled wide while doing so.
"Well I still want to thank you both." Fluttershy said with appreciation. "We even have some extras in case any other birds need them in the future. Although I have to say I was a little surprised when I saw them." Fluttershy pulled one of the tiny bird blankets out from the saddlebag she wore at her side to look over the small comforter.
"Surprised? I hope in a good way." Rarity asked with a twinge of concern in her voice. Fluttershy didn't look disappointed however.
"It's nothing bad, they're perfect actually. Just what I wanted. But they're so... 'plain' compared to what you'd normally make." Fluttershy said as she held the tiny blanket out. It was more of a small quilt to help keep the birds warm and snug but other than the quilted pattern and thickness the blankets didn't appear all that special. Just a bold, plain color of green, blue and red. "I'm not trying to offend you at all. It's just I was expecting you might have thrown in several designs on the blankets for the fun of it for yourself." Fluttershy was clearly trying to express herself without saying something mean and looked uncomfortable all the while. She was beginning to wish she could take the whole thing back as Rarity seemed like she was second guessing her creations now. Thankfully Spike stepped in though.
"Don't worry, Rarity hasn't lost any of her touch." Spike said confidently. "She's been working on those elaborate outfits for her clients for the end of the week so I guess she was trying to get your blankets done as fast as possible. It's why I've been around helping so much too."
"I guess I have been a bit bogged down with work lately." Rarity said to herself a little concerned. "I wouldn't want it to seem like I wasn't giving my very best to you." Fluttershy shook her head quickly.
"Not at all, I love them. Thank you so much Rarity." Fluttershy said smiling wide and the little birds from the trees chirped their appreciation along with her. Rarity smiled proudly to herself.
""Well then with that job done shall we depart Spike?" Rarity floated her note book out of her own saddle bag and checked her to do list again. "I should get back to putting the finishing touches on that yellow dress before I start on Pinkie's new costume. On the way we could stop somewhere for lunch if you like." Spike looked thrilled at the idea of spending more time with his favorite unicorn.
"Yeah, that sounds great! But uh... Twilight said she'd like me back after lunch if that's okay? She's been worried since I'm coming home so late these past few nights." That caught Fluttershy's attention who had been admiring the nests in the trees while her friends talked. She proceeded over to the two now that some thoughts were in her mind about what they'd said.
"Um, excuse me. Sorry, I don't mean to be a bother, but I was just wondering, Spike said he's been spending the past few nights with you?" Fluttershy asked Rarity meekly but curious. Rarity didn't hesitate at all in responding.
"That's right. Spiky-Wikey has been such a dear lately. He's been assisting me with several jobs over the past few days and even keeping me company for lunch. It's been ever so pleasant." Rarity had such genuine happiness to her tone that it was hard to doubt whether or not she'd enjoyed Spike's company. The little dragon more than obviously happy to be in hers. This was just filling Fluttershy's mind with other thoughts about the situation though.
"I...see. Rarity um, if it's okay can I talk to you a moment? Girl to girl?" Fluttershy asked as she motioned for Rarity to walk away with her and Rarity nodded in agreement. "Thank you, Angel can you keep Spike company for us?" The little rabbit who'd been spending his time up until then leaning against a tree munching on a carrot hopped over to Spike and sat next to him doing the exact same thing. Not exactly thrilling company but the pegasus only needed a moment. When they were out of earshot from the dragon Fluttershy stopped.
"What's the matter darling? You know if there's anything going on with you that I won't hesitate to help." Fluttershy gulped a little as she wondered how best to approach this subject. On one hand it didn't seem like her business at all but on the other she was worried something bad could happen between her friends and she couldn't stand aside while it did if she could prevent it.
"Well, it's not me. Rarity I noticed that you and Spike are, well, um... spending a lot of time together lately?"
"Oh yes, he's been just the most helpful assistant I've ever had. Though really I shouldn't be surprised, Spike always does his very best to help others." Fluttershy nodded.
"That's true, he does. But you two are also spending time together, alone, for things like your lunch?" Rarity gave a little nod and a "Mm-hm" sound in confirmation to her question. "So it's just the two of you then?"
"That's right, a few innocent little lunch dates together." It was the word "date" that stuck out to the pegasus the most. "It's the least I could do really. He's offered me so much help that I owe him something for all his trouble. But why are you asking me all of this now Fluttershy?" The pink haired pony found it hard to believe Rarity couldn't piece this all together herself. Rarity was a unicorn that was usually very perceptive and intelligent but she did get a little distracted from the world around her when she was focused on something. Fluttershy took a deep breath before continuing.
"Okay. Um, you see I'm just worried about Spike is all."
"Spike? I know he's been working hard but I'd never ask anything that was taking advantage of him." She was still missing the point Fluttershy noticed.
"I know you wouldn't do that. Spike's a dear friend to you after all. To all of us. But he's... well... he's so attached to you, Rarity."
"Well of course deary." Fluttershy raised in eyebrow in surprise that Rarity agreed to that so quickly. "Just as I'm attached to you, and Twilight and all our friends. You all mean so much to me."
"No, that's not... I mean he's..." This was so embarrassing to talk about. Maybe she shouldn't of said anything? But she had to say something while the topic was brought up. "I'm just worried he'll get confused about you're relationship together."
"How do you mean?" Fluttershy felt herself getting frustrated, was she going to have to spell it out?
"I don't want him to think there's something going on that's... well... not real? That he'll get the wrong message about you and get hurt... somehow. I don't know." Fluttershy was tapping her front hooves together now as she looked down at the ground. This wasn't an area of expertise to her. Frankly in a situation like this Rarity was the person she'd be going to for advice on how to talk about it.
"I think I understand." Rarity said and Fluttershy felt relieved. "Darling you have nothing to worry about. I'll be one hundred percent sure that Spike understands things between us completely. No ambiguity. Is that alright?" Fluttershy nodded, just glad to have gotten through all of that. Stuff about love and feelings was okay when it came to friendship and her pets but for things involving "special someponies" she couldn't really handle it. "Your concern is appreciated but I promise you'll have nothing to worry about. Tah tah!" Rarity said as she approached Spike again. The unicorn and the dragon headed back towards the town, Spike happy to be spending company with someone who could at least talk now.
Fluttershy watched them go for a bit until they were out of sight. She turned her gaze to Angel and the rabbit gave her a quizzical look in response. "No I think it's alright. I talked with Rarity and I'm sure she won't do anything that would lead him on." Angel crossed his arms and cocked his head to the side in doubt over the success of such a conversation. "Don't be like that, Rarity is a smart pony and she cares about her friends. She won't say anything that will hurt Spike. I'm sure of it." The little rabbit shrugged his shoulders, clearly done with the subject and hopped onto Fluttershy's back. "Good, now lets get something to eat ourselves before we check on all those little birdies again."
"Twilight, we're back!" Spike called out as he and Rarity entered the library. Though once they arrived the place looked rather empty. "Twilight, are you here?"
"You don't suppose she stepped out?" Rarity asked with a hint of concern to her voice. "I wouldn't want to leave you here all by yourself." She glanced back at Spike who was currently riding atop Rarity's back.
"Aw you don't have to worry Rarity, I'd be fine here. It's not the first time I've watched the library by myself." Rarity seemed as though she was going to counter him with her own concerns but they were interrupted when Twilight suddenly stepped out from one of the back rooms. "Oh hey, there you are. We were wondering where you went." Twilight smiled at Spike and Rarity but didn't say a word. Instead walking up to them and waving. Spike and Rarity looked at each other confused before awkwardly waving back at her.
"Um Twilight, darling, are you feeling okay?" The longer Spike looked at Twilight Sparkle the more he realized something was off about her, he just couldn't place it. Twilight without a word proceeded to walk circles around Rarity and Spike with a proud smile before stopping in front of them again and sitting down awkwardly on the floor. "Um... okay. You seem to be just fine."
"Twilight, where are your wings!?" Spike suddenly asked aloud as he realized what had been eating at him. The purple unicorn before them should have been an alicorn princess. "Did something happen, are you okay!?"
"Drat, knew I forgot something." A voice called out from the back as another Twilight Sparkle emerged into the main library. She walked up next to her wingless doppelganger and greeted her friends. "Hi guys, how did the delivery go."
"It went fine." Rarity said looking at the two Twilight's uncomfortably. "Twilight deary, why is there another one of you walking around?"
"Don't you remember?" Twilight asked as she used her magic to float two crystal prisms near by. Even though she held them out in front of the white unicorn Rarity didn't seem to have any clue what she was talking about. "Helloooo, you're the one that lent me these crystal prisms for my magic practice." One of the prisms lit up with a white light and zapped the purple unicorn Twilight Sparkle, causing her to disappear in a light flash of pink magical energy.
"Oh, right, my apologies... it appeared to slip my mind I'm afraid." Twilight was looking between her and Spike with a slightly confused expression. "Is everything all right dear? It's okay if you want to keep the prisms, I don't really have a need for them right now."
"Spike's riding on your back now?" Twilight asked with a tone of confusion and concern. Spike realized himself that he was still riding as Rarity's passenger and hopped off shortly after, tapping his claws together shyly.
"Yes, he said you were concerned about him being so tired lately so I offered to give him a ride back home. I figured it would allow him to rest his feet with all the walking he's done with me already." Rarity gave Spike a gaze that Twilight felt was a bit more... glamorous than she was comfortable with. Especially the way she batted her eyelashes his direction.
"I see..." Twilight said, not sounding any more relaxed then when she'd questioned the way they had entered together. "Well then I guess you're probably pretty busy with all that work you've been doing lately. I won't try to keep you any longer than I have to." Spike walked over to Twilight and stood by her side, making her feel a little more comfortable.
"Goodbye Rarity, did you want me to come over again tomorrow morning?" Rarity opened her mouth to reply but something in Twilight caused her to react first.
"Tomorrow? Oh um, no I need help tomorrow I'm afraid. For my studies." Twilight wasn't even sure where she was going with this statement but it fell out of her mouth so quickly that she couldn't recover from it. Spike gave her and suspicious glance.
"I thought you said you didn't need me for you illusion magic studies?" Shoot, that was right. She did say that. Twilight thought quickly about how to respond.
"Well you see it's not... for those studies. It's for a different study! Yes this one's for... um... plant. Plant... biology. So we'll be out most of the day. Just the two of us. Sorry if this ruined your plans." She was rambling now and hoped it didn't look too obvious. The scary thing was she didn't even know why she was doing it. Just that she felt somehow bothered by the idea that Rarity was going to be taking Spike out again. Rarity herself was watching Twilight with mild confusion before responding.
"Very well then." Rarity said sweetly.
"Wha- really?" Twilight asked, surprised her fumbling explanation worked.
"It's fine darling, if you need Spike's help I completely understand. He's assisted me with so much already." Rarity approached Spike and leaned down to look him in the eye. "If it's alright with you Spike do you mind moving our lunch up to dinner instead? That way it won't interfere with Twilight's plans. Right Twilight?" They had other plans already for a lunch!? What was going on here? Spike responded to Rarity naturally though like there wasn't an issue.
"It's fine by me, a dragon's work is never done." He said sounding proud to himself. "Guess I better get ready for a picnic tomorrow."
"Don't worry about dinner, we'll go out some place." Rarity said confidently. The whole scenario was freaking Twilight out a bit. It was like Rarity and Spike had... well... a life outside of her. One just to the two of them. Something about that dug at her heart.
"Probably a place that serves good soup huh? I've never seen a pony eat so much of it since these last few days. You've had it every meal."
"A girl has to watch her figure." Rarity said proudly and then smiled at Twilight. "I'll be off then. You two have a great evening, tah tah darlings!" Twilight lazily waved her hoof to Rarity as she went out the door, more confused that ever. It felt like there was something going on that she didn't know about. While that alone was usually enough to bother her the fact it was something between one of her best friends and someone that felt like family to her was the most unsettling part.
"Twilight?" Spike asked snapping the princess out of her daze. "I was asking what books you needed for tomorrow."
"Oh... um... bean stalks." Twilight said off the top of her head.
"Bean stalks?" Spike asked really confused now.
"Yes I was um... curious about making a magic bean stalk. Like in the stories you know? With the giant ponies that live in castles in the sky." It was a pretty outlandish fib but Spike just sighed and shrugged, going about his task to gather up what she asked for. Twilight meanwhile was trying to figure out how to approach the current subject with Spike. Maybe she should wait till tomorrow, after he'd been separated from Rarity for a while? Give her a chance to collect her own thoughts. Then she could get to the bottom of it.
He had been riding on Rarity's back. That's what really got to her. Spike rode on Twilight's back all the time and she never thought anything of it. In fact she kind of liked having him so close by. It was a supportive feeling having a friend at the ready like that. She'd never said it would bother her if he rode on some other ponies back but she never thought it would come up. Cause if he did it didn't seem like it would be the same as riding on hers. Not the same at all.
"Even if you can make a bean stalk grow that big I don't think you're going to find what you're looking for." Spike said in an off the claw remark as he looked through the books.
"We'll see." Twilight responded quietly to herself.
The next day Twilight Sparkle laid out on a blanket in the middle of a grassy field. A tree provided her and Spike with generous shade as she focused her attention on four small little plots of dirt out in the sunlight not too far away from their picnic area. Concentrating her magic Twilight's horn glowed a charming pink color as it grabbed a hold of a bottle of a green substance and floated over to the first plot. Dropping a small amount of the liquid onto the soil a bean sprout quickly grew amongst the dirt and twirled around looking for something to climb onto before stopping and resting on the soil. Near by Spike wrote down the results onto a parchment with a quill, looking less than enthusiastic over his part in this experiment.
"Okay so we know the growth formula will work on a bean sprout. Let's try plot two and see what results we can get with twice as much."
"Right, recording plot two." Spike said sounding very bored with the whole ordeal. Twilight had to admit this was probably one of the least interesting experiments she'd ever done. Considering she invented it over night for the sole reason to get Spike out of the house with her she didn't think it would be too thrilling. But still it accomplished its task and she had to carry it out to keep up with appearances. Floating a second bottle over towards the plot of dirt Twilight dumped the contents on the bean sprout and watched it begin to grow at a rapid rate. The bean stalk even managed to stand up on its own at first before the weight of it dragged the plant back down and left it spiraling on the ground until the formula's effects wore off. Spike wrote down the results on the quill and yawned openly over the whole thing. Maybe now was time to make her real move.
"Um, say Spike, should we break for lunch?" Twilight asked trying to sound casual in her tone.
"Fine by me, eating food is a lot more interesting than watching it grow." Spike got up onto his feet and dug into the picnic basket. Shortly after there were two plates out that had specially made sandwiches for both of them. Twilight used the thermos to pour out juice into two cups and served them up as she planned her next words carefully.
"So, um... I guess you're looking forward to tonight, huh?"
"Mmmf. Yeah." Spike said threw chomps of his ruby and jelly sandwich. "I dunno where Rarity wants to go yet but I guess she's got it all figured out. I usually just go along with her plans anyway." He did seem to be doing that a lot. Though then again that's all he was doing today with herself too wasn't it? How much different was it between them? Rarity was asking for Spike's help sometimes now and she was praising him and rewarding him for it. Twilight did the same thing all the time. But... they're not the same. Not really. "Twilight, is everything okay? You're not touching your daisy sandwich."
"Oh, sorry!" Twilight said suddenly as she took a way too big bite of her food and awkwardly chewed it down. Spike watched her with a great deal of confusion as she used her cup of juice to get the last of it down. "Mmm! Delicious!" Twilight gave a far too exaggerated smile and Spike scratched his chin looking the alicorn princess over.
"Are you sure everything is okay? You're acting kind of weird."
"Fine fine, everything's fine. I was wondering more about what you and Rarity were doing actually when you were together?" Twilight tried to steer the topic back to the issue of interest.
"You mean helping her with her sewing projects? That's all it's been really?" Spike answered suspiciously. "It's funny though, you've never been that curious about what we've done in the past."
"Well... that's because you and Rarity never acted this... close before in the past."
"What do you mean? We've always been friends." Well this was why you came out all this way, Twilight. Best to get into it now.
"I know you're friends with Rarity, Spike. That to you Rarity might be considered even more than a friend. Which is why with all the time you've been spending around her lately I just want to be sure that nothing happens that would disappoint you." Spike seemed genuinely confused by this line of conversation which wasn't helping Twilight get the point across any.
"Disappoint me? Are you kidding, it's been great! I mean it's mostly been a lot of work but Rarity's great to be around and makes it seem like it isn't work at all." Spike finished off his sandwich in a couple happy bites. "Besides tonight we're getting together, just the two of us for a meal and to talk. It won't be work related at all." Spike puffed his chest out when he reminded Twilight of his "dinner date" the two had planned and this was exactly the kind of thing she was afraid of.
"About that, are you sure you understand Rarity's intentions?" Twilight asked hesitantly. "She's a very generous pony after all, I wouldn't want you to interpret this as anything more than a friend thanking another one." Spike considered Twilight's words carefully and finally came to a conclusion.
"I get it now; you're jealous." Spike said smugly to the purple alicorn and if she hadn't been laying down on the blanket Twilight might have fallen right off her hooves.
"I should have seen it coming. Rarity's asking for my help all the time lately, I'm out of the library more, she's treating me to a fancy dinner. You're worried she'll steal your favorite assistant." No! No that wasn't what Twilight was worried about at all. Well... maybe somewhere, deep down she thought that he might... no! This wasn't about her. It was about Spike. "Look, you don't have a thing to worry about. Twilight I'd never stop being there for you." Twilight was so bothered by how this conversation had become derailed she took to her hooves and stood up on the blanket.
"No, that's not... Spike listen I just don't want you finding out that things aren't going to work out the way you want."
"What are you talking about?" Spike took to his own feet now as well. "It's just us spending time together. What's to be concerned about?"
"Because I know you have a crush on Rarity and I just... I don't want you thinking that somehow this is going to change everything and she's suddenly going to fall for you overnight." Spike seemed hurt by those words but Twilight didn't know how to say them without being blunt. His head was as thick as his scales sometimes. Still he retaliated with frustration in his own words to her.
"Well why wouldn't she like me?" Spike asked defiantly.
"Because you're a baby dragon!" Twilight finally said. "And... she's a pony. You're different. Different in a lot of ways and even though you're both good friends those differences might be too much to overcome. I just don't want you hoping for something you can never have." Spike didn't know what to say at first. He didn't look Twilight in the eyes, instead looking everywhere else he could as he tried to get his thoughts together again for a rebuttal. When it became clear he didn't have one Spike's arms dropped to his sides in depression.
"So... ponies and dragons... shouldn't be together?"
"No. No not at all." Twilight walked up to Spike and put one of her wings around him in a hug. "Spike you've always been there for me. I can say you're one of the closest friends I've ever had, which is why I'm so... I guess paranoid about something ending badly for you and you getting hurt." Spike's arms rose up and gave Twilight a light hug in return, something she welcomed gladly. The two released their embrace after a moment but Spike didn't seem any further relieved.
"Should I not go?" Spike asked hesitantly. Twilight wouldn't allow that though.
"You should go. And the two of you should enjoy yourselves. Just don't get carried away, okay Romeo? I don't want you getting into something more than you can handle is all."
"Well... okay then. I promise I won't let things get out of hand." Twilight nodded, feeling a lot more comfortable about the future now. "Was that the whole reason you wanted to do this fishy bean stalk growing thing?" The princess blushed and didn't make eye contact as she tried to think of a way to answer that.
"Well I... uh... how about we jump right to the end!?" Twilight suggested as she grabbed all the vials of potion and dumped them on the last plot of soil. They braced for something to explode out of the ground but nothing came of it. Spike sighed and shrugged his shoulders.
"Guess that concludes that experiment. Giant bean stalks are just in fairy-" Suddenly an honest to goodness giant bean stalk exploded out of the ground and lifted the princess and dragon into the air. They managed to make it about twice the height of the tree that had been shading them before the thick stalk finally stopped growing and held them safely up top on a bed of leaves and stem. Twilight shook the cobwebs out of her head and looked over the side to see how far they raised.
"Wow! I didn't actually think that would work. Spike do you still have the check list? I want to take notes on this." The little dragon dangled within one of the curled vines of the giant stalk and unrolled the parchment he'd gripped onto when they took off into the air and wrote a note upon it.
"Dangerous mixture of every potion; success."
So the day progressed and eventually Spike had departed to meet Rarity at their agreed upon location. This left Twilight with some time to herself to practice more with her illusion magic but she didn't really feel like it. Truth be told when Spike had left she didn't feel like doing much of anything. After his departure her motivation took a large downswing and instead she found herself reading some flimsy romance story that she'd always thought of picking up before but never had until this point. She should have been working on dinner for herself but she just didn't feel like it.
It was her own fault really. Even if her and Spike had had a serious conversation about how he should expect things to go she was still worried about him. It wasn't like she thought Rarity would ever be cruel to Spike. That pony thought of others quite a bit and would go out of her way to show it. But if he pushed too hard things could end badly and he'd only have himself to blame. She tried to drown these worries out with her story and helped the hour pass. As well as the second. Once the third had flown by Twilight's energy was depleted completely and her book became an improvised pillow as her body laid on a comfortable cushion. She didn't awaken until the sound of happy voices entering her home roused her from sleep.
"I do so love a movie with a happy ending. Had things gone differently I don't think I would have been able to sleep tonight after watching all that." Rarity's voice cheerfully rang through the princess' ears as she lifted her head from the book that had cradled it.
"I didn't think they'd actually break up at the end. I mean c'mon, that would have been a huge bummer. It's not like the movie makers wouldn't give the audience what they'd want."
"I suppose your right darling, though I'm still happy no surprises were in store for them. Oh Twilight, you're still up." Twilight rose to her feet, using her wings to steady herself as she did. She wiped her eyes to help her focus as she glanced up at the clock.
"Yeah, I was just waiting for Spike. How late were you out?"
"I dunno." Spike said as he closed the door behind Rarity. "We just decided to go see a movie together and didn't check for the end time. It was worth it though." Twilight looked between the unicorn and the dragon and noted they seemed very pleased with their night. It was... very different from how she'd expected things to go.
"Oh. Well that's good. So I guess the dinner was a hit." Twilight asked through the haze of sleepiness. Rarity was quick to respond.
"It certainly was darling. As a matter of fact I decided to follow through with some advice I got from Fluttershy and be honest about things without a shadow of a doubt." Twilight raised an eyebrow curiously wondering what that could possibly mean. "Spike had told me about your concerns with him spending so much time around me and well... that you might be worried I was stealing away your assistant. Which I assure you Twilight was never my intention in the least."
"Oh, was that all?" Twilight said relieved. "It's okay Rarity, I know you'd never do anything to hurt anypony's feelings."
"Quite." Rarity responded confidently. "So to help with your concern of Spike staying out too late and that to make sure we both have time with our Spiky-Wikey I've come up with a solution." Spike stepped forward looking even more excited that Twilight had expected. She wondered if there was some kind of scheduled plan or weekend visit they had planned or something.
"Rarity asked me to move in with her!" Spike announced, Twilight's eyes opening wide and snapping her completely awake.
"Isn't it great? I told her about how you keep getting worried about me coming home late so she proposed that it would be better if I just came over to work in the day and stay with her at night." Twilight's mouth hung open as she tried to find the words to explain exactly how she felt about this proposal. Rarity stepped in almost immediately after Spike to continue.
"I know Spike doesn't have many possessions but we can always come by later to move them over to my place. All I'd need for tonight is his basket if that's alright." Twilight's words finally came back to her for the answer.
"No!" She shouted loudly, surprising both individuals in front of her. "No! You can't... Spike you can't move in with her. Rarity what are you even thinking!?" Twilight began pacing around the library now, clearly disturbed by everything she'd heard. "You can't just invite somepony to live in your home. That's not... that's not something you just do for more than a sleep over or a party or..." She was trying to grasp the right train of thought to make them understand how bad an idea this was. Rarity intervened as Spike seemed to nervous to speak up to Twilight when she was this angry.
"Darling, I really don't see what the issues is. I thought it would solve all our problems."
"Solve our problems? This is the problem! Rarity asking somepony to move in with you is the kind of thing you do for your special somepony. Not just your friend."
"I know." Rarity responded confidently and put a hoof around Spike's shoulders. "He is my special somepony." Twilight felt her jaw fall open again as words escaped her a second time. How did this keep happening?
"It's true Twilight." Spike said as well and put his little arms up around Rarity to hug her in return. "I thought about what you said and told Rarity how I really felt. I said I didn't want her to think I was pressuring her or making her uncomfortable. But then... but then she said she felt the same way about me!" Spike was nearly cheering as he announced this, the two still held in an embrace. Twilight felt as if she was the only voice of reason in the room.
"Rarity, you can't do this." Twilight finally managed as she approached them. "Spike is a baby dragon, you can't expect to be able to... to care for him the way he needs to be cared for. Besides he's not mature enough to be able to even understand what it means to be someone's special somepony! We're barely mature enough to ourselves." Twilight was trying to argue reason into this and it just seemed to make it so much worse. Spike looked absolutely crushed by her words, she was essentially telling him that he couldn't have his dream now that it was before him. Rarity however was more than ready to fight back.
"Well now you see here, Princess Twilight Sparkle." Rarity stepped forward before Spike now. "Perhaps we're young but that doesn't mean we're foolish. We've battled monsters and saved kingdoms and learned lessons in friendship have we not?"
"And Spike has been there beside us in all of these battles and lessons and saving of kingdoms. Why he saved one all by himself and has written down our own lessons with his very claws."
"That... that might be true. But that doesn't make him ready for a commitment like this!" It was an odd sensation that was running through Twilight Sparkle. Something akin to how a parent feels when they're watching their child make a mistake and just wanting to reach out their hoof to help them.
"Then why not ask him yourself?" Rarity said as she backed up from Twilight, letting her approach Spike on her own now. The little dragon look conflicted, moments ago he'd been as happy as she'd ever seen but now he was distraught over the fight happening in front of him. Twilight didn't know what to do. Does she put her hoof down and crush his dreams? Or does she allow him to possibly make a huge mistake that could cause a rift in his friendship with Rarity? Sighing to herself Twilight leaned her head down to look at him.
"Spike... is this what you really want?" She asked quietly and slowly the little dragon nodded his head. "I... see. Well... okay then. You can go with Rarity." Twilight turned her back on the two of them, she didn't want them to see the tears welling up in her eyes.
"I'll be back tomorrow, okay Twilight? It'll be like I was never gone." Twilight sniffled a little and nodded her head, not daring to speak when she was like this. Rarity used her magic to lift Spike onto her back, the new couple walking out of the library together and closing the door behind them. Leaving Twilight by herself. Alone.
"How does it fit darling?" Rarity asked the bouncing pink pony as she tried on her new costume. Pinkie Pie put her new clown outfit to the test, balancing on balls, juggling clubs and doing all sorts of aerial flips and tricks. When she was done she reached into her special pockets for confetti and tossed it into the air.
"It's perfect!" Pinkie Pie said with joy as she bounced around Rarity. "In fact it's exactly, completely and almost eerily like how I pictured it in my head!"
"Oh." Rarity said nervously. "Is that a good thing? People have been telling me that a lot lately. They've also said that my designs were a bit too... simple?"
"Looks fine to me." The blue pegasus commented as she munched away on a muffin. Rainbow Dash had happened to stop by for a morning snack when Rarity had arrived and decided to stick around to see the results of her creation. Pinkie Pie seemed happy with it Rainbow thought so that was good enough, right? "Course usually anything you make is like a lot more girlied up so I know what you mean."
"I'm sure the phrase you were looking for was 'distinguished', Rainbow Dash." Rarity corrected.
"Yeah yeah, same thing." Rarity didn't look like she felt they were the same thing at all but it didn't bother Rainbow Dash any. Pinkie Pie still seemed happy as she blew into a noise maker while enjoying her new costume.
"Oh boy, I can't wait to cheer someone up with this as soon as I'm able to!" The pink pony exclaimed and that reminded Rainbow of something else.
"Hey I know, you could head over to Twilight's. She seemed like she was in need of cheering up." Rarity's expression went from pleased with Pinkie's joy to concerned at those words.
"Oh, is she still upset? I was hoping that once Spike went back over there she might cheer up." Pinkie Pie felt something was wrong in that statement and chose to correct Rarity.
"Why would Spike be headed 'back' to the library Rarity? He lives there. Shouldn't he be returning or just plain old be there already?" Pinkie juggled some cream pies now around her head after giving her perspective.
"Well you see Pinkie, Twilight and I had a bit of an argument after Spike decided to live with me instead." Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie both froze in their tracks the moment Rarity shared that bit of information. The pies Pinkie had picked up to juggle flew into the air and landed on Rainbow Dash's head without the pink earth pony to catch them. Funny enough the news was so shocking it didn't even break Rainbow out of her stare. "Is something the matter? Do I have anything on my face?"
"Spike is living with you!?" Pinkie shouted in surprise as she produced an umbrella to protect her new costume from the cream that Rainbow Dash was currently shaking off of her face. "But... but why? Is there something wrong with Twilight's house?"
"Not a thing is wrong with her place, darling. Spike and I talked it over and we decided that it would be best for us both if he simply stayed with me from now on." Pinkie and Rainbow shared a concerned glance between each other before looking at Rarity again. It wasn't really Rainbow's style to pry into other people's business but it felt like somepony had to say something.
"Well jeez Rarity isn't that like, I don't know, kind of a little... too..." Rainbow grumbled as she tried to think of what to say, this kind of stuff was the worst for her to talk about. Thankfully Pinkie Pie came to the rescue.
"Isn't that what you're supposed to do only with your special somepony?" Yeah, that was the question she was trying to get out. Rarity answered though without so much as hesitating.
"Spike is my special somepony. Well, actually special somedragon, but you get the point." Rarity earned another round of blank stares after that confession and she looked about worriedly at the two girls. "Is there something wrong with that?" Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie averted their gaze when she asked, both seemingly uncomfortable with the subject. Especially when it involved two of their friends. "Darlings? You're starting to worry me. What is it." Rainbow Dash found the courage to speak up again.
"It's just... well, I like Spike too y'know. He's like a cool fire breathing little brother. It's just that don't you think it's kind of weird for you two to be living together?"
"Weird!?" Rarity said sounding just about as offended as she ever had before in her life. "Explain yourself this instant." She really didn't want to. She wanted to just fly away and talk to Twilight about this but that felt more disrespectful to Rarity than to keep talking. Once again though Pinkie stepped in to help.
"Rarity, isn't Spike a little young and um... scaly to be your special somepony?" This didn't quell the fire in Rarity's eyes any less. If anything she seemed further motivated to defend her choice.
"I'll have you know Spike is more than mature enough to be my special somepony. Why he's handled just as many responsibilities as any of us and been there for us time and again. I don't see why everypony is bringing this up like he's some kind of child." Rainbow Dash spoke up again but felt less confident in her protest than previous.
"Well he is a baby dragon. And, y'know, a dragon. He's not even a pony. Are you sure the two of you can even get married legally?" Pinkie Pie joined in shortly after to add to the momentum.
"Yeah and don't dragons grow to be like big and mean and fire breathy? Can you really be with something like that?" Rarity's face contorted several times into different emotions. A look of shock and then anger and finally wincing as she fought back the tears in her eyes.
"I... see. So that's what you all think of me." Rarity said as she turned her back on the earth pony and pegasus. "Well then that's fine, you're entitled to your own opinions. I'll just leave then so you can talk about them further, by yourselves."
"Rarity, we weren't trying to-" It was too late though, the white unicorn took to her hooves and ran away from them both. Rainbow Dash looked down at the ground feeling just awful about how that had all went. "Pinkie were we... wrong? I mean he is a dragon. That isn't going to work out in the end, right?"
"I dunno." Pinkie said as she kicked a pebble with her hoof dejectedly. "But we made Rarity sad. That's not what friends are supposed to do."
"Even if what she's doing is wrong?" Rainbow Dash asked and was answered in silence. Neither of them had an easy answer for that question.
"I'm home!" Spike called out as he walked in through the front door of Rarity's boutique, the bell announcing his arrival with his shout. Something about saying that out loud felt really good in his heart. Maybe it was the fact that the pony there to receive him felt it as well when he entered.
"Spike, you're back." Rarity called out from the kitchen. "I'll be out in a second Precious Scales, I'm just finishing preparing dinner." That also felt really good to hear. Coming home after work to have dinner with his special somepony. This was all like a dream come true.
Well, almost anyway. Twilight had still been pretty upset over Spike leaving and they had talked about it for a while when he came back today but in the end it seemed they'd come to an agreement. He still loved her of course and she loved him. They were family and nothing was ever going to change that. With that feeling reassured it helped Twilight accept him staying with Rarity a bit more but it still bothered her to stay in the library alone now. He hoped maybe she could find a special somepony too. Spike would like to see her feel as happy as he did.
Spike took a seat at the dining room table and Rarity walked out with a seasoned loaf of emerald bread and a bowl of soup for herself. "Still on the soup diet?" Spike asked as she took her own seat at the table.
"A girl has to care for her figure, Spike." Rarity said as she positioned herself. "You wouldn't want me to lose mine, would you?"
"You're beautiful to me no matter what, Rarity." Spike said a little dreamily as he watched her from across the table. Rarity giggled and covered her cheeks to hide her blush. "Thank you so much for dinner, I'm sure it's going to be delicious."
"Think nothing of it darling. How was Twilight? I'd heard from Rainbow Dash that she was less than enthusiastic after last night." Spike sighed as he recalled how long today felt between the two of them. But at least it ended on an understanding.
"She's... she's okay. She will be anyway. Twilight's going to bring some of my things over tonight before we go to sleep so that I'll have my basket to go to bed in."
"Well... you know Spike, it's not as if I minded you sleeping in my bed." The white unicorn batted her eye lashes and Spike felt like he could have fallen over from love sickness just seeing that gaze.
"Y-y-yeah, I liked it too." He admitted. "Well what I remember of it anyway. I passed out right away when we got back. Guess I'm still staying up too late at night these days." Rarity giggled at him.
"You didn't miss anything, Spiky-Wikey. I went to bed right with you after all. Now shall we enjoy dinner together?" The couple agreed happily and prepared to dig in. Though their meal was interrupted by the sound of knocking on Rarity's front door. "Now who could that be at this hour?"
"I'll get it." Spike said proudly, happy to be offering his assistance so soon to their relationship. Spike walked to the front door and opened it to greet what he thought might be a late night customer or even Rarity's family come to visit. The last thing he expected was the mob before him. "Oh uh.. hey guys?"
"So, it's true." Applejack said standing in front of the doorway. Behind her was Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy all crowded together. "Pardon Spike but might we all come in tah have a word wit Rarity?"
"Well, I guess so?" Spike said as he backed up to let the other ponies enter. Rarity had already exited the dining room when she heard Applejack's voice, looking amongst her friends who had all gathered together. Spike was getting a feeling in his gut that something wasn't right with this set up.
"Rarity, what in tarnation are ya even thinkin'?" Applejack said right out of the blue as she approached the unicorn. "Hookin' up with Spike? Callin' 'em yer special somepony. Don't ya think that's gonna make things awfully complicated when it all starts tah fall apart?" Rarity stood aghast at the words being spoken to her so brazenly.
"Applejack! How dare you barge into my house to say such things!? Why just who do you think you are to bring such accusations to my doorstep?" Rarity said with equal defiance to Applejack's accusations but the earth pony had support right behind her. Rainbow Dash floated up on her wings to join in the conversation.
"Rarity it's weird! I mean he's a dragon. So he's small enough now to hang out with us and stay in your home but what about when he gets bigger?"
"Yeah!" Pinkie Pie said as she hopped into the conversation as well. "Besides right now he's a baby dragon. Is it even okay for a baby dragon to be a special somepony? How old is he even?" Rarity turned to look at all three of the questioning faces before her, unsure how to respond to all of these statements. Spike was currently taken aback as he seemed to be left out of anything that was being said despite it concerning him. Fluttershy was hanging back from the others but Rarity pushed past them to approach her.
"Fluttershy... darling... do you think the same thing?" Fluttershy didn't look up, she didn't want to meet Rarity's eyes. "Fluttershy?" But still she spoke.
"You're not the same, Rarity." Fluttershy said. "Ever since you started spending all this time with Spike your touch for sewing has changed. Your priorities for things are different as well. And well... you and Spike aren't the same either." Fluttershy finally looked up to face Rarity, but she kept her hair around her face as a shield to hide herself from the tears in Rarity's eyes. "You can't expect to be able to live with a dragon the same way you could with a pony. It's different from the relationship Spike has with Twilight. I just don't want you two getting hurt." Spike couldn't stand it any longer, he had to say something.
"Hold on a minute here!" Spike shouted running up next to Rarity and putting an arm around her. "So what if I'm a dragon? No one complains if an earth pony becomes a special somepony with a pegasus. Or if a unicorn goes on a date with an earth pony. So why is it so bad that I'm a dragon and Rarity's a unicorn? Can't we just... get along?" Spike suddenly became faint from the stress and started to fall over, but Rarity caught him in time with her leg before he could hit the floor. Spike slowly corrected himself after she helped him back to his feet. "Sorry Rarity, guess I was more tired that I thought."
"It's okay darling, thank you." Rarity whispered quietly. Despite his protests their friends weren't done expressing their opinions, Rainbow Dash having more to say.
"So a pegasus can date a unicorn? Big deal, they're both still ponies. Spike you're a dragon! You're not even the same species as the rest of us. Don't you think at some point that's going to cause a problem for you two?"
"Like what?" Spike asked in return and Rainbow Dash was suddenly at a loss, not sure where she'd been going with this.
"Well... I dunno! Fluttershy, you know animals better than the rest of us. This isn't normal, right?" Fluttershy hung back clearly not wanting to say any more than she had already shared. Her face never raised from the floor. Rainbow's question did get an answer from someone else.
"I'm not an animal!" Spike said angrily. "I'm a dragon. That's like... that's like saying a griffon is an animal and a pony isn't. You don't all really think I'm just some kind of pet, right?" Everyone's eyes turned away now. It seemed the fire that was in their bellies when they arrived was having trouble staying lit when their views were questioned. Applejack as the leader tried to state their point once more.
"Ya don't really see any griffons takin' up livin' wit other ponies either." Applejack offered. "It's just unnatural not tah stick wit yer own kind."
"Maybe we are different." Rarity said finally. "Maybe it's not just Spike... maybe I'm different from you all too. That I can love Spike for who he is when you can't see past what he is." Rarity lifted her front leg and Spike took her hoof in his claw, holding it for moral support. "So what's wrong with us loving each other? How is this different from how we've all lived before?"
"Ya'll weren't together like... like ya'll are hitched already. Don't ya think things are escalatin' awfully fast Rarity? What'll the town say when they all see yer livin' together? How ya gonna keep yer business open?" Spike's claw shook in hesitation, he'd never considered that before. He thought they could get around other people not understanding. They could get around whatever challenges a dragon would have to face living with a pony. That he could even eventually bring their friends around to see it their way because they all loved each other. But the ridicule Rarity may have to face... all because of him? Rarity's mouth opened to answer but Spike was faster than her.
"You're right." Spike said sullenly. "You're right... I should go." Even if it had been their intention to stop this before it got further out of hand, it didn't keep his friends from being any less shocked when they heard him say those words. Even Fluttershy had looked up in surprise to see he'd cave in like that. Rarity's hoof shook and tears threatened to form in her eyes.
"Spike?" She asked quietly.
"I can't put your business, your entire life, at risk just because I want it to work out so badly. It's not right and it's not fair to you. If I love you then... it's better I go." Spike let his claw go loose in it's grip but Rarity's magic gripped him by the wrist as she looked at him longingly in the eyes.
"Don't go." She said sounding the most pathetic he'd ever heard her.
"Rarity, our own friends don't even think it will work. Twilight was never happy about this... I can't ruin your life for me." The grip of her magic loosened as Spike made the most adult decision he'd ever had to conceive on his own before. He put somepony else's well being before his own. Silently he trudged to the door, the other ponies parting aside for him as he went. No one seemed to know what to say during all of this as he turned the handle and swung the door open, revealing the pony on the other side. "Twilight?"
"Spike? And... everyone else? What's going on in here?" Twilight asked as she walked into Rarity's home, a suitcase and a basket floating behind her with her magic as she did. "Was there something going on I forgot about?" None of Twilight's friends could meet her gaze after everything that just happened, Rarity had turned her back to everyone to hide her expression. "Hello, can someone please clue me in?"
"It's over Twilight." Spike said to her. "Sorry to make you come out all this way with my things. It wasn't necessary, I"m moving back in." Twilight's expression changed several times in a few seconds. From confusion to a slight joy to even further puzzlement as she could deduce that something was not right about what had just happened. Instead of scooping up her assistant immediately Twilight used her magic to close the door behind her and face her friends.
"Would someone like to tell me why Spike has suddenly decided to move out and Rarity isn't even looking his way?" Applejack had been the head of this pack to begin with but now she was gripping her hat against her chest as she was having trouble saying the words. Pinkie and Rainbow Dash were at a loss as well. Fluttershy quietly approached as she took on the uncomfortable role of confessing everything.
"We came over here because... well... we didn't think it was right. What Rarity was doing with Spike. So we came by to let her know that we were afraid this was going to hurt them somehow." Twilight didn't seem to be able to connect the dots in the same way the others did. Applejack finally found her voice and joined in.
"It's obvious isn't it Twi'? A pony hitchin' up with a dragon? That's not something normal ponies do. How's Rarity gonna stay in business or get respect 'round Ponyville if everyone's talkin' 'bout them behind their backs?" Twilight seemed unconvinced.
"Who would talk? Who would care besides us, her family and friends?" Spike was feeling a glimmer of hope in his heart as Twilight was standing tall, ready to defend him in this moment. Rarity seemed to notice as well as her head turned their direction a little but didn't face them. Pinkie Pie jumped in next to dispute with Twilight.
"The whole town would talk about it? There would be gossips and rumors and everyone wondering how in the world she was gonna be special somepony with a dragon!" Rainbow Dash flew up next beside her.
"Yeah, I mean have you ever heard of a pony and a dragon living together?" The blue pegasus asked. To which the purple alicorn had a simple answer.
"Yes." She said matter of factually and stunned the whole party. "You haven't? It's not very common but there's lots of stories of very rich and powerful ponies marrying dragons. It was considered a symbol of high nobility if a dragon was willing to live a life with a pony. It's not that strange, griffons and pegasi have been getting married for years."
"Whoa whoa whoa, wait a minute. Since when do griffons and pegasi get married?" Rainbow asked now very confused by all of this. "I lived in Cloudsdale most of my life and I never saw a couple like that living there or heard of them getting married."
"I don't know if it's legal in Cloudsdale, but anyone can get married in griffon territory. You've really never heard of that and lived in Cloudsdale your whole life?" Something seemed to click in Fluttershy's head.
"Now that you mention it, I remember when we were little Mr. Nimbus used to hang around with that one griffon Gretta a lot. I used to think they were just friends but maybe they were more? He didn't live in Cloudsdale, remember Dash?" Rainbow Dash looked like all the wind had fallen out of her sails as their arguments had been picked apart by Twilight in under a minute. The alicorn princess wasn't done however.
"I'm surprised at all of you. I know it was shocking to hear that Rarity and Spike wanted to do something this extreme, and I'll be honest I'm still a little uncomfortable with all of it myself. But it was never because they weren't the same. I'm just... well... I was sad to think you'd outgrown me already Spike." Twilight said sounding a little sad and she received a hug from the purple dragon instantly.
"Never." Spike said. "I'll never outgrow you Twilight, I couldn't. Your my family." Twilight hugged him tight in return. When their embrace ended they stopped to look at everyone else who were feeling ashamed of themselves after the reason they'd come over here in the first place. Spike had every right to be angry with all of them. They'd tried to force him apart from someone he loved simply based on the fact they weren't comfortable that he wasn't like them. But... "I just want to be with everyone I care about." He said to the group. "Twilight's my family. You're all my friends. Rarity is my special somepony. I don't want to have to give up anyone, ever. I love all of you so much. If there's a way we can all live together in peace... can't we?" They were all silent for some time before Applejack put her hat back on her head and approached Rarity who still had her back to the group.
"Rarity... please forgive me." Applejack asked sincerely. "Ah dunno why things got this way now that ah've seen it all wasn't a big deal tah begin with. Ah mean ah just... ah guess ah felt uncomfortable and didn't know what tah do about it. So ah'm sorry and if yer still mad well... ya have every right." They waited in silence in what felt like an eternity, Applejack looking unsure what response she'd get after things had gotten so out of control. When Rarity swung back around she threw her front legs around Applejack's neck and hugged her tight.
"Thank you." She said through little sobs. "Thank you so much." Applejack hugged her gratefully in return. They crowded around their friends as the two hugged and made amends. Fluttershy felt the need to speak as well.
"I should have defended you." The butter yellow pegasus said. "I went along with everyone instead of doing what I thought was right. I'm sorry Rarity, I failed as a friend." Rarity's face came up beside Fluttershy's and nuzzled her in return.
"You're still here aren't you?" Rarity asked and that cheered the pegasus up as she nuzzled back. That left Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash looking uncomfortable still. The girls and Spike all turned to face them and Pinkie found the courage to explain herself.
"I guess I just didn't understand. Maybe I still don't. Because it still seems like there might be some things that'll be really difficult for you two. But... I don't like telling someone they can't be with who they love. That feels awful and wrong. I think I'd rather help you through your problems, if you do have them. Because I really just want my friends to be able to smile." Rainbow Dash didn't like being last in anything, let alone apologies. But everyone else saw past their personal issues and even Pinkie had managed to come to peace with it. So she had to say something.
"I still don't get it much myself." Rainbow confessed. "I mean I don't know if I'd do it if I were in either of your horseshoes. But if you both can do it together then I don't want to be what stops you guys. I mean dragons are cool, and so are griffons, and naturally I am so pegasi are rocking. Maybe it feels different but Twilight's right, saying these things can't be together makes even less sense than saying they have to stay apart." With everyone's minds made up Spike ran back to Rarity and embraced her in his small arms. The unicorn put a leg around him in return as the couple shared a loving hug. Twilight smiled brightly.
"I think perhaps we've all learned something today.
A little bit later Twilight had returned to Rarity's after a quick stop at her house. Coming back with both the crystal prisms she'd borrowed from Rarity as well as a special journal. The girls were all currently looking at illusion reflections of themselves. Pinkie Pie was having the most fun, having figured out how to do a dancing duet with her own magical copy. Spike and Twilight were currently focused on a task they'd done many times before, a quill in his claw as he took down the princess' words carefully.
"Today I and my friends learned that sometimes a pony you know can do things that might seem strange or unusual to you. But that doesn't mean you should be afraid or angry over these different behaviors. It's much more important to learn about why something is different from what you've seen before than to try and separate yourself from it. Because who knows, you may find yourself embracing something wonderful that you weren't even aware existed before." Rarity approached the dragon and alicorn with a bright smile on her face.
"Twilight, thank you so much for all of the support you've shown us. Truly without you I don't think any of this could have ever happened. Right down to us meeting each other in the first place. I owe a debt to you for making me the happiest unicorn in Ponyville." Twilight blushed a little at the praise as Spike stood up from where he'd been writing and stood next to his special somepony.
"You don't have to thank me Rarity, I'm happy for you both. I'll admit it'll take some getting used to having the library be so much quieter now. But you'll come to visit me, right Spike?"
"Are you kidding? You'll be begging me to come back to Rarity's after I hang around you all day." The girls all shared in a laugh together, enjoying the moment after so much tension earlier that day. "Say Rarity, should we warm up our dinner? It's probably gotten cold since we left the table." The unicorn's face changed to sudden realization.
"Oh my gosh, I forgot all about it. I'll get it all warmed up right away, it'll just be a moment." Rarity said as she walked into the dining room and out of the front of the boutique, her illusionary shadow following along with her.
"Ah guess we all should skidattle out of her as well." Applejack offered and the others agreed. Twilight had one thing to do though before they left.
"Just a second, before we run I'll get rid of all these illusionary copies. I'm so happy I managed to get most of these spells down." The unicorn said as she lifted one of the prisms with her magic and emitted a white flash of light, causing the illusions in the house to disappear instantly. Pinkie was a little depressed that her act had disappeared on her but she got over it quickly. Spike opened the door for the girls and they all piled out onto the road, all saying their goodbyes. Spike made sure to give Twilight a big hug before she left and closed the door behind her.
"Darling, I hope you're still hungry. I used a spell to get the bread to just the right temperature I think." Rarity said as she walked back into the showroom.
"You bet. Everyone just left so we should... chow... down." Spike said as he came to a stop mid-step seeing his special somepony walk into the room. "Rarity?"
"Yes dear, what is it?" Rarity asked with a pleasant melody in her voice.
"I... what happened?" Spike was shaking as he looked Rarity over. "I don't understand."
"Spike, what is it, what's wrong?" Rarity approached the dragon but stopped when the door to the boutique opened up again. Twilight Sparkled walked back into the building with the two crystal prisms floating before her.
"Can you believe it, I totally forgot to give these back. I'm such an air head. Sorry to interrupt you-" Twilight froze and her eyes became wide when she saw Rarity again. The unicorn looked down to see that her white coat had become pitch black. Her hooves once manicured and perfect were now a jagged mess with holes through them. Her purple mane was gone completely and instead she now had two insect like wings on her back. Spike was still unable to form words and "Rarity" was much the same as she was rendered speechless herself. Though Twilight knew exactly what to say. "Changeling!"
It was all "Rarity" needed to hear, her wings opened and she took to the air, flying into the dining hall to the sound of glass crashing as a window was destroyed for her exit. Twilight dropped the crystal prisms and took to the air with her less than reliable wings but she didn't have time to think. "Spike tell everyone, now!" The princess commanded as she flew through the air to try and pursue the changeling. It took Spike several moments for him to realize that he was standing in Rarity's home alone now and that his world had come crashing down around him.
Later at the edge of the Everfree Forest Spike had arrived along with the rest of their friends. Twilight was there was well, panting and distraught. Rainbow Dash was first on the scene and landed stiff. "What's the situation!?"
"I followed her all the way to this part of the forest but I can't figure out where she went. She couldn't have gone far." Everyone crowded around Twilight to get an idea of the situation. "As far as I can tell she can't use her magic to change form but that might not last. I don't know how long reaching the effects of that spell I used will be. But we have to split up and find her as soon as possible. We catch her and she'll lead us to Rarity."
"I brought these!" Pinkie shouted as she passed whistles to everyone around her.
"Good thinking Pinkie." Twilight praised. "This makes the plan simple, we find her and we let everyone else know with the whistle. Soon as you hear it blown run to that direction and we'll pin her down! Is everyone ready?" Everyone agreed in unison with a shout of "Let's Go!" as they all split up. Even though he was eager to begin the search Spike was honestly having a very difficult time keeping himself together. Things had spiraled out of control so quickly that he wasn't sure what to think anymore about the past several days. All he knew was they had to find that changeling or Rarity, the real Rarity, was in a lot of trouble.
But the forest was vast. Even when you knew where you were going to places like Zecora's hut or the Castle of the Two Sisters it was easy to get lost and dangerous to wander. That changeling could be hiding in any number of the unexplored places. He couldn't give up though. Even if all he had wanted out of today was to sit down for dinner with his special somepony. But she wasn't that... she had manipulated him. Right? He felt like he could still smell that dinner before him. That emerald loaf bread freshly baked and her bowl of pea soup.
"Wait, what's that." Spike sniffed the air... he actually could smell the soup! Falling to all fours Spike began to sniff the ground as he tracked the scent, finding that it was getting stronger the farther he went. He followed it all the way to a hill with a bramble of vines and fallen tree limbs all over it. That was where the scent was strongest. It didn't take much deduction to figure out what to do next and Spike cleared the vegetation away to reveal a small cave entrance that was big enough for a pony to fit through. He should have blown the whistle right then but... he had to be sure.
Crawling down into the cave Spike grabbed a thick looking tree branch from the pile and lit it on fire, making a small torch for himself for what he hoped was a short trip. He crawled down a rocky slope to a wider part of the cave and searched around the walls. Even if he hadn't had the torch his nose would have lead him directly where he needed to be. Hanging from the low ceiling was a thick green cocoon with a slightly translucent exterior. The colors of white and purple could be made out through the skin of the cocoon and Spike confirmed what he was searching for. "Rarity..."
"You called, darling?" A voice rang out and Spike spun his torch around to see the figure approaching him. "Hello Spike... I'm sorry I ruined our dinner."
"Stay back!" Spike shouted as he held the torch out like a weapon but the changeling did nothing to strike at him or run away. She just continued to look at him. "I've found you out you... you... liar!"
"You're right Spike, I am a liar. I lied because that's what I do, it's what I have to do to survive." She walked past him and looked over the cocoon she'd constructed around the real Rarity. "It's impressive don't you think? I used all those soup meals to get the material I needed to construct it. Making a cocoon is not easy for a single changeling to encase a pony, but I had to do it if I wanted to take her place for you." Those last words caused Spike to hesitate.
"For... for me?"
"Of course, isn't it obvious Spike? She was never going to love you the way you wanted. I could see it clear as day. When I realized how badly you wanted that love and how you'd never receive it I decided to take action." She tapped her deformed hoof against the cocoon. "I replaced her for you, became Rarity for you. To give you the love that you wanted and to receive the love you had to give. Don't you understand Spike, this was all for you."
"No." Spike said quietly "I never... not if it meant this."
"If it meant loving a changeling?" The creature asked as she approached him again. "So what if I am a changeling Spike? If I'm not the real Rarity. What defines 'real' anyway? I loved you and gave you everything you wanted and all I asked in return was that you loved me too." She placed her hoof in his claw. "Please let me love you again. We can be happy together, just the two of us." Spike looked at the changeling suspiciously, unsure of what to think after having his world turned upside down the way it had been. He knew if he accepted this offer he could have what he always wanted, it would just be a lie. But if he did then he'd lose his real friend and so would everyone else, forever.
"It won't work." Spike said flatly and took his claw away from her. "You'll get found out again, Twilight will see through your disguise. It's over... whoever you are." Spike took hold of his whistle and brought it up to his mouth.
"Wait!" The changeling said and threw herself on the ground before him. "Wait, please! There's a way." Spike hesitated. "Those crystal prisms Twilight Sparkle had. If you bring them here, give them to me, I can use them like she did. I can make illusions with them."
"That's... there's no way..." Spike tried to argue.
"It'll be fine my Precious Scales, you'll see." She rose up to her feet again and stroked the side of his face with her hoof. "We can use them to give me back my illusion of Rarity, and make her look like me. We'll turn her in as myself and no one will ever think to suspect me again. It's a perfect plan that lets us love each other forever. All I need is for you to go and get them, and bring them here. Then we'll destroy them so no one can ever use them against us again. What do you say?" Spike stared into the deep green eyes of the creature before him, making so many promises. Saying she could give them the kind of life he wants and he'd never have to feel lonely without her again. It would just cost him a friend. "Spike?" She looked at him expectantly, awaiting his decision.
A day later Rarity was resting in her bed, covered in blankets and surrounded by her friends. Pinkie Pie had taken the liberty to fill the room with get well decorations and balloons to welcome back their friend's return. Rarity sipped a spoonful of soup as she recovered her strength, the handle of the spoon being held by the pink magic of a nearby alicorn. "I'm happy we managed to find you in time." Twilight said. "With how long that changeling had you trapped out there in the woods I was scared to think of what we might find."
"As am I, darling." Rarity said weakly in appreciation. "I owe it all to you for helping me in my time of need. Things happened so fast that I don't even remember how I got there. One night I was asleep in my bed and the next thing I knew I was awake with all of you carrying me out of the Everfree Forest." Fluttershy tossed another blanket over Rarity that she had stitched together herself and had pink butterflies upon it.
"We're just lucky Twilight's magic was able to reveal what was going on before it was too late." The yellow pegasus said with relief. "We're very fortunate you got rid of her illusion spell when you did." Twilight sighed remembering that.
"Lucky yeah but I won't be able to do something like that again for a while. The prisms broke when I dropped them after I started chasing that changeling. I'd have to find another set to be able to use that kind of magic again." The loss of her magical items did bother Twilight but it didn't seem to get anyone else's spirits down. Rainbow Dash was feeling pretty good about herself since Rarity had returned.
"No worries Twilight, after we gave that changeling a beat down I don't think any others will be showing up anytime soon." Rainbow Dash and Applejack had sprung onto the scene after the changeling's lair had been discovered and managed to defeat and capture the changeling with little difficulty.
"She sure hollered a whole lot after we got 'er. Still tried tah tell us she was Rarity even after she couldn't change into her no more." Rarity wasn't very interested in the details to be honest, she looked like she was just happy to be back home where she belonged.
"Well thank you ever so much for your rescue. Even if I wasn't awake it's good to know that all I had to do was rely on my dear friends and know that I'll be safe." The girls all crowded around to hug Rarity tightly, all except Spike who was hanging at the back of the crowd while all of this went on. Just watching awkwardly as they talked. Twilight eventually broke the group hug to usher everyone out.
"We better let you get your rest. You'll need it to be able to get your strength back." One by one the girls gave their well wishes to Rarity and walked out of her bedroom door. As they all got ready to leave her to rest Rarity spoke up.
"Spike, deary, could you wait a moment?" Spike stopped in his tracks and looked to Twilight who nodded her head to him. Spike turned back to Rarity's bed as the door closed behind him to let the two talk in private. "Thank you darling. I owe all of this to you."
"You don't have to thank me, it wasn't anything special." Spike said as he looked down at the ground.
"Oh but I do! Twilight told me it was you that found where that changeling had hidden me away and you were the one to rescue me." Spike tapped his claws together as he listened to Rarity speak, unsure how to respond to her anymore. "She also said that this creature had been manipulating you into doing all sorts of things for her. I hope she didn't do anything that hurt or upset you while looking like me." Spike shook his head.
"No... she didn't hurt me. Twilight said I was so tired around her all the time because she was draining my energy. But she didn't hurt me."
"Well, even that I can't forgive. Fooling my Spiky-Wikey and all of my friends, taking over my boutique, making dresses in my name. I'll have much work to do to repair my good name." Rarity realized she was going off on a bit of a rant in front of Spike and that this wasn't the reason why she'd asked him to stay. "Ahem, in any case, thank you again for coming to my rescue. You're one of my dearest friends in the world, Spike. My hero." She extended her front leg to Spike and he leaned in to give her a hug. It felt nice but he couldn't deny it was different from what he'd grown used to.
"Yeah... you're my friend to Rarity. Always." Spike said slightly somber as they released each other and Spike said his good byes. Before he departed though Rarity asked him for one more favor.
"Oh Spike?" The unicorn said. "Thank you for the soup but if you see Fluttershy could you ask her to bring me some tomato flavored next time? I'm not really found of peas."
"Yeah... yeah I will." Spike said as he exited Rarity's bedroom and went down the stairs. Twilight was waiting for him when he arrived in the showroom and he hopped onto her back without a word. The showroom had been cleaned up earlier, the shards of Twilight's broken prisms swept up and Spikes basket and suitcase brought home before Rarity was able to notice they'd been there in the first place. The pair didn't speak but Twilight could feel the weight on Spike's shoulders as he leaned his head against her neck the whole way back.
"We're home." Twilight said as she opened the door to the library and walked inside. Spike slipped off her back once they were in the house and trudged up the stairs to their bedroom. The alicorn princess wanted to say something but she didn't have the words for what had happened to him. It wasn't a situation she'd ever encountered before. None of them had. How do you fix a heart that's been broken in such a way? Owlicious watched the little dragon go by so dejected and was also at loss on how to cheer up his friend. The owl flew to Twilight and landed on her back.
"Hoo." It said concerned.
"I don't know if I should..." Twilight responded.
"Well... maybe it would be better if I stayed with him. I don't want to leave him alone." Twilight climbed the stairs as well to their room, Spike laid out on her bed instead of his own, his head resting on his arms and the sound of soft sobbing could be heard. She couldn't just leave him like this. Stepping into the bedroom Twilight called out to him softly. "Spike?" The little dragon sniffed hard and turned his head to look at Twilight, tears running down his cheeks. Twilight hopped onto the bed as well and opened her wings and arms, the little dragon running into her embrace for comfort.
He cried for a while and she let him, he needed to get it all out. She wanted to cry as well on his behalf but held it in, wanting more to be the pillar of strength when he was in need. As his sobs lessened and his breathing slowed Spike wiped his eyes against her purple coat and held her tightly. "Why Twilight... why me?"
"I don't know Spike." Twilight responded honestly and kept him close. "I wish it hadn't happened to you though. I'd take it back if I could." A princess of Equestria and she didn't even have the power to heal the heart of one of her closest friends. She felt oddly helpless as Spike suffered before her.
"I just don't understand why. What was the point of this? Of being lied to? Of thinking someone loved me and having them actually not, of just using me? What's the point of that? Was it a lesson? Was I supposed to learn something?" The questions started a new bout of tears as he pressed his face against her chest and she held him tightly. She couldn't answer him. Was this supposed to be a lesson? If it was it wasn't like any kind of lesson they'd learned before in the past. It wasn't the same. They're not the same at all.