A Turn of a Not so Friendly Card
Twilight burst into the kitchen with such a clatter that it caused her brother to jump, spilling some of the hot water from the kettle on the counter and down the front of the wooden cabinets. There was a red flush to his cheeks and an angry arch to his eyebrows. “What the hell, Twily?” Normally Shining Armor would laugh off a small startle, but Twilight could tell that the events of the evening was starting to wear on his nerves.
Twilight felt a huge weight lifted from from her shoulder when she saw her brother was alright. “Sorry, I guess I was over thinking things again. When I couldn't hear you down here, I started to worry.” Twilight walked to the counter grabbing a damp cloth before kneeling down to wipe up the mess she caused.
Shining Armor knelt next to her. He reached to play with the magenta stripe in her hair, his face softening. “Sorry I overreacted. After everything that's happened tonight, it's no wonder you'd be so concerned. It's going to take a lot more than some spooky darkness to take me out, I can promise you that much.”
“It's not just that, bro. I'm really concerned about Spike...about this.” Twilight pulled the scroll from her pocket passing it to him. Twilight watched his blue eyes skimming the page. She could tell by his relaxed smile melting into a frown that he had a new found concern about what was going on.
“...they become violent, huh?” Shining Armor was up, helping Twilight to her feet. The smell of lemon and ginger already started to radiate from the steeping tea bags. It was odd that something so small could ease the tension in the room. The moment was fleeting though. Shining Armor asked the question she'd been dreading to answer all night. “You don't think your dragon friend has this thing, do you?” Shining Armor grabbed the small cupcake shaped sugar bowl from beside the coffee pot, setting it between the two mugs of tea.
“To be honest, I can't be sure what he has.” Twilight tugged on the string of her tea bag sending a small dark circle of liquid wafting off of it. “There are so many variables I don't have the information for. I've never heard of this type of illness before. Worse yet, I have no idea how Spike contracted it in the first place and if he has it, is he contagious? There were a lot of us with him tonight, anyone of us could be carriers.” Shining Armor leaned his hip against the counter top. There was a grim look on his face.
“That's the real reason you busted in here and scared me half to death?” The egg timer started buzzing causing them both to jump. Shining Armor chuckled as he grappled with the thing forcing it to be quiet.
“Alright, you got me.” Twilight wore an awkward smile as she quietly willing her heart to calm down. She pulled the tea bags from the cups tossing them into the sink. Shining Armor was already scooping sugar into his tea, Twilight counted 1...2...3 as she always did when they drank tea together, her bother always did love his tea super sweet.
There was something about this return to normalcy that made her feel better, calming after such a terrible evening. Twilight took the spoon and counted two for herself before listening to the odd staccato sound of the spoon hitting the sides of the tea cup.
Shining Armor touched the mug to his lip, pulling it away just as quick. “Careful, it's a little hot.” His tongue lapped around his bottom lips as if trying to wipe the burn away. Twilight found herself giggling again. Even though Shining Armor had grown into a capable adult, he managed to stay that gangling teenager that she's grown to love.
Shining Armor opened his mouth to say something, but stopped, his eyes grew wide and his gaze grew distant as if he were looking right through her to something behind. “Hey bud,” He spoke easy, a smile coming to his lips. “ Doncha thing you be in bed taking it easy?” Twilight turned around on the stool to see Spike's gangling figure leaning against the door frame. His head resting on his forearm as if he were exhausted.
Shining Armor set his cup down, stepping around Twilight. She caught his arm as he passed. He looked at her and she mouthed the words 'I got this' before slipping down from her seat walking towards the young dragon. “Spike, honey you should really be in bed.” As Twilight got closer, she could sense there was something off about the dragon's stature. He his shoulders hitched with every ragged breath he too, his muscles were tensing under his scales. The sight caused the hair on the back of her neck to bristle. “Spike?” Her voice was barely a whisper.
Spike slowly raised his eyes to meet hers, a raspy breath caught in his throat. His head rolled to the side, resting on his shoulder as if it weighed a ton. He stared at her with milky white eyes that blotted out the once green irises. Red puffy rings lined his eyelids, they were swollen and watery. There was an odd coppery smell wafting off of her. “Spike...” Twilight sighed, sadness heavy in her voice.
Spike lurched forward grabbing her biceps so hard that his claws tore her shirt, shredding it as she jerked away. Twilight let out a cry falling back. Her shoulder struck the bar stool behind her on the way down. The dragon tripped over her feet, stumbling down on top of her. Brought her elbow up into Spike's neck, trying to force him off. Spike snapped his teeth mere inches from her face as she struggled to push him away. Spike was stronger than she realized as he bare down on her, his teeth getting closer and closer to her cheek. His weight against her chest pushed the air from her lungs, making it hard for her to scream.
Suddenly the weight was gone, her airway was clear enough to cut loose with a scream. Spike's foul smell dissipated. When she snapped around to see what happened, Shining Armor wrestled across the tile floor with the wiry dragon. Twilight fought to get to her feet, grabbing at the dragon's slender shoulders. Spike turned and snapped at her, nearly catching her hand, Twilight jolted so hard that she fell to her backside on the floor. “Twily...get back.” Shining Armor climbed to his feet struggling to get a hold of Spike's sleek scales. “I got this.”
Twilight started crawling towards the pantry door, getting to her feet as she jerked it open. “Over here!.” She hollered, grabbing the broom just inside the door. Shining Armor was already on his way fighting for every inch across the slick tile floor.
Finally he managed to throw the smaller dragon to the floor inside the pantry, while Twilight slammed the door. Quickly she worked to brace the door closed with the broom. Spike threw his small body against the door in a angry fit. It shuttered, threatening to splinter it right off of the hinges. “Easy Spike, please calm down.” Tears welled in her purple eyes, the tightening of her throat chocked with each word she spoke. “I'll find a way to help you, I promise.”
“Dammit.” Shining Armor cursed, the sound of the sink being turned on followed afterwards. Twilight turned towards him. There were spatters of red everywhere. Across the floor, up the cabinet, a pool of it spilled over the edge of the counter down to the tile floor. Twilight looked at the red swirling around the drain, feeling her stomach churn along with it.
Twilight moved towards him, her hand reaching for him. “Were you bitten?” She already knew the answer, but needed to hear it from his own lips.
“Don't you worry about me...” Shining Armor's hand trembled, clenching from the shock. “I'll be just fine.” He concentrated on the jagged bite mark on his arm, sparks raining down uselessly from his horn. The blood didn't slow and the wound remained open. “Damn.”
Twilight focused on the wound doing what she could to block out the sound of Spike hammering against the pantry door. “I got you, big bro.” Twilight drenched a towel is cold water, wrapping it around his arm. Shining Armor flinched and moan as she pulled it tight, trying to stop the bleeding.
“Am I infected?” Shining Armor grunted through clenched teeth. His words were lost to the heavy thumping of her heart in her ears. It blended with the pounding of Spikes body against the door. The room was spinning, she steadied herself on the counter keeping her eyes down, focusing on the wound.
“It's not a certainty...I mean there's a chance you could be immune.” Twilight used another rag to clean up Shining Armor's arm, before focusing on the small puddle on the floor.
“Twilight!” Shining Armor's desperate bark, brought her eyes up to meet his.
“Yes!” Twilight snapped back. “In a few hours you're going to be as bad off as Spike is.”
Shining Armor's lips tightened as he shook his head. “Oh man...This sucks.” Shining Armor sat on one of the stools, resting his head in the palm of his hand. “What's going to happen to Cadence, the baby? Oh man, what about Cadence, I hope she's alright.”
“Easy Shining Armor, I'm sure she's okay. Right now we need to focus on finding a cure for you and Spike. Come on, lets go to the library where I can keep an eye on you.” Twilight wasn't as confident as she hoped she sounded.
The two of them walked into the hall, neither of them speaking. Undoubtedly Shining Armor's thoughts rested with his wife and unborn foal. Twilight's mind was going a mile a minute. Things were getting worse the longer the evening wore on. Now that Spike was a confirmed carrier, and Shining Armor was infected she was going to have to pick up the pace and focus on finding a cure. Instead Twilight thoughts dwell on her friends. Were any of them infected as well? If only she would have told them about the illness earlier in the evening, they might have been able to prevent anything from happening.
Her thoughts were pulled away as a smell tickled her nose, it was warm and musky in a way. Something familiar, but only in passing. “Do you smell...” Shining Armor breathed in deep, coughing out a sharp exhale. “Tobacco?” Twilight turned to look at him, his head angled in a questioning fashion. “You didn't take up smoking did you?”
“What...No! Of course not.” Twilight glared at her brother, telling him in no uncertain terms that the idea was preposterous. She would never allow herself to take up such a disgusting habit.
“Well, if it's not yours, than whose is it?” Shining Armor stepped closer to her, looking around for the sign of it's origin. “Come on, I think it's coming from the library.” Shining Armor walked to the only door on the right side of the hall. He planted himself between Twilight and the door, just in case there was something to the the source of the strange smell.
The room was basked in the orange glow from the fire place. Two leather upholstered, high backed chairs were silhouetted against the glow. The warm smell of oak wood on the fire smelled good, cozy, but wasn't strong enough to stifle the pungent sweet smell of tobacco. A plume a smoke rolled up from the other side of one of the high backed chair. A familiar voice hummed an incoherent song. It was joined by the sound of a page from one of Twilight's old books slowly being turned.
“Who's there?” Shining Armor demanded, pushing his curious little sister behind him again.
“Why, just an old friend,” The familiar voice stung deep in the recesses of Twilight's mind. It was soon joined by a familiar smug face. “I just came by to see if you were enjoying my little game, Twilight Sparkle.”
The unmistakable goat face with the misshapen red irises .One horn crooked like a bent tool, the other sprouting out like an antler from a great beast. But the thing that stood out the most, because it caught the glow of the firelight, one over sized fang. A pipe rested in his one eagle claw hand, a book clutched in his other, a strong lion hand. He was a mix and match of so many things, he looked like a puzzle that had been incorrectly assembled. It mirrored his juxtaposed nature, and his legend was well known to all who lived in Equestria, but no one knew him better than Twilight. “Discord!” Twilight hissed, stepping from behind her brother.
“I hope you don't mind, but I let myself in.” He chided, “Please take a seat, join me for a little story time.” He took another puff from his pipe before slipping back down into his seat, going right back to reading his book as if they'd never entered the room.