Given that Whisper’s peace offering had come out looking like he had scooped the remnants of a hearty hearth fire into a bowl, Fluttershy decided that in the honor of their tradition, he would once again have to face the microwave. Meeting her challenge with mixed emotions, he obeyed Fluttershy’s directions, pulling a package out of the box that he had forgotten to return to the cupboards and pausing with his snout halfway inside as Fluttershy gently corrected him, explaining that the plastic coating on the outside needed to be removed, and definitely would not improve the taste.
“Oh, ok. That makes sense. This clear stuff doesn’t taste good anyway.” Tearing free the glorious snack and promptly sending it to its torture chamber, Whisper prepared himself to receive further instructions. Unfortunately, while he recognized her words, he didn’t have the faintest idea what two minutes and thirty seconds looked like in writing. “Um...” I should know this! Come on, brain. How about... “This one?”
“Whisper, you don’t know... oh, right, you can’t read.” Deciding that holding his head aloft was too much work, his neck muscles let his thinker fall to the countertop with a soft thud, clearly indicating the stallion’s embarrassment with his lack of knowledge. “Oh, don’t do that. Come on, I’ll teach you.” Fluttershy gently lifted his head and massaged his chin, which he found strangely enjoyable, after which he watched patiently as she gave him a lesson on numbers, and while he couldn’t say the numbers back verbally, his mental repetition was flawless. At the patient mare’s request, he punched in the desired time, hit the green button known to him now as “start,” and watched as the dastardly appliance began its gruesome task with morbid fascination.
“Fluttershy? Why does it keep making noise like it’s exploding? It doesn’t smell anything like corn, and I’ve never seen it pop, either. Is this more magic?”
Hmmm, I wonder... Oh well, if it makes a mess, we’ll just clean it up. I want to see how he reacts. Whisper grew confused as Fluttershy stopped the ritual, tearing the bag asunder and setting it back inside.
“Wait, that’s not corn, is it?” Pulling out a single kernel for the stallion to scrutinize, Fluttershy closed the door, restarted the beast, and took a few steps back so she had a clear view of Whisper’s reaction, but not before she heard a rather painful sounding crunch as Whisper bit down on the kernel and promptly bequeathed the unpleasant tasting, painfully crunchy whatever it was unto the lower cupboards in front of him, along with generous amounts of spittle. That was gross... and now my tooth hurts. She could have warned me at least... And then, with a bang, Whisper’s mind witnessed the true wonder of popcorn, a kernel suddenly leaping from it's place of rest, reborn as the tasty white treat it was meant to be.
Somehow, with the right stroking of the sensitive spots on the right of the door, the ill-tempered white box had begun to turn the little yellow rock things that Whisper still wasn’t convinced were derived from corn into the proverbial manna that was popcorn. Fluttershy had a moment of panic as she feared he would put his horn through the door, so great was his haste to watch the spectacle up close. Another came, and he turned to Fluttershy beaming ear to ear before another explosion called out with its cacophonous siren song, gluing his eyes to the wonders of kitchen magic.
The frequency with which they began to pop became proportional to the decline of Whisper’s sanity, and unable to contain it any longer, he began romping in circles, stopping every so often to take another look at the amazing jumping popcorn. Were he vocal, he surely would have been shouting with glee, and in a sense he was, as Fluttershy could only smile and close her eyes, her vision clouded by a wall of green text that made no sense from a literary perspective, but perfectly communicated the elation radiating from the stallion who gleaned every drop of joy from the world around him.
It was a once in a lifetime event. Carrot Top, as much as she would love to give a mare like Rarity a good ride, had never imagined that the prissy, uptight fashionista would bother to give her the time of day, let alone invite her over to the boutique late at night. She couldn’t help but hum the tune of one of her favorite, dirty dance songs as she imagined what kind of fun she would be having that evening. She knocked with confidence, and took a moment to salivate as she beheld the white unicorn that answered the door.
“Carrot Top? You’re a tad bit early, don’t you think?” Rarity asked, glancing around to make sure she wasn't seen.
“Oh, my apologies, Rarity. I am... a little eager, shall we say?”
“I see. It can’t be helped, then. Do come in.” Rarity stood to one side as the bouncy earth pony all but bounded inside, scanning the dimly lit room and pondering the many options they could experiment with as she beheld the racks of magnificent dresses.
“So then...” Carrot Top began, turning to face Rarity with an alluring smile and a voice dripping with lust. “What’s your pleasure, Miss Rarity?” The white unicorn gave a bashful smile, encouraging Carrot Top’s advance until Rarity suddenly snapped her head upright and fixed her with a piercing glare; it wasn’t one that could possibly be misconstrued. Carrot Top had no time to flee or cry out before Rarity’s horn glowed, grabbing several bolts of fabric and binding the mare tight.
“Whoa, this is a good deal kinkier than even what I’m used... mmph!” Grabbing one last stretch of fabric, Carrot Top found herself effectively gagged and staring into cold eyes that bore not a lick of mercy.
“Purity may be something you know nothing about, having cast it aside long ago, but I am nothing like you.” If I had caved, if Sweetie Belle hadn’t stepped in, then this mare... may in fact be a very good glimpse at what I’d be. But no, I shall not allow it! “Look at me, Carrot Top! I am a lady, and I will not tolerate such filth!” Carrot Top’s eyes glanced to the many pincushions filled with needles, a very real fear that her life was in peril prompting her to let out a muffled cry against the canvas that was bound around her muzzle. Carrot Top watched wide eyed as Rarity pulled out the carrot she received earlier, holding it in front of the mare’s eyes and snapping it in two.
“That... will be your legs if you ever... try to taint me with such perversity again.” Her cold, even tone brought more fear to the mare than any enraged shriek every could, as she knew that Rarity meant every word. “Hear me, Carrot Top; I will rip you to pieces if you even so much as look at me with such depravity as you have here tonight. Now, get out of my shop.” Carrot Top needed no second bidding, and scrambled away with all haste, leaving Rarity alone.
“I don’t know who you are, or why in Equestria you are taking so long. But to my stallion, wherever you are, you had better... make this worth my time.” The tinge of bitterness faded as she reaffirmed her resolve. “Oh, if you are anything like I see you in my head, then I’m sure... you will be. And even if you’re not, as long... as you can love a mare like me, then I guess... It will be all right in the end. I will wait... for as long as I can. And, if you choose to be so incredibly stubborn, then I will drag you back to Ponyville myself!” That night, for the first time in a very long while, Rarity slept with ease, the flames of confidence reignited and leaving her feeling ready to face anything life may toss her way, bringing rest to a troubled mind.
A wordless procession, one dragon and one pony, slowly made their way up the stairs of the library. Spike couldn’t accurately assess Twilight’s mood for once, though that was likely because she couldn’t even identify it herself, but after such a meaningful and, in the end, uplifting time with Sweetie Belle that afternoon, he couldn’t quite bring himself to worry. They came to a stop next to his bed, Twilight sitting down next to it and letting a slip a soft laugh.
“Spike, why didn’t you say something? I know you haven’t grown that much, but isn’t it a little cramped? You’ve had the same bed since the day I adopted you...”
“Well, now that you mention it, I guess it is a little... small,” he agreed, smiling at what amounted to little more than a basket with some bedding. “Nothing wrong with being snug, though. I’m not complaining or anything,” he quickly assured, not wanting to sound ungrateful given Twilight’s condition, if there was one. I mean, she sounds fine, and she not crying, so I can’t say for sure anything even is wrong.
I guess... it’s time I brought this to light. Celestia, give me strength... “Spike... I have a question for you, and it’s really important that you’re honest with me, ok?” She really only had the one. Every other nagging doubt could be ignored if the answer was simply yes, but as she took a deep breath and posed her inquiry, she knew it wasn’t going to be the simple. “Are you... happy here, Spike?”
“Of course, Twilight!” His answer was prompt, almost automatic, but all it took was a single glance from the lavender mare beside him to know she knew better. All the things he’d been thinking about were pushing towards the surface, and it was time to let them out. “I’ve... been really, I don’t know, lonely? Up until recently, I just felt like I was... here. Just another part of life, not really somepony.” Twilight nodded sadly, doing her best to keep herself in check. It hurt hearing what she knew to be true from the mouth of the one she’d unintentionally ignored, and for how long? She couldn’t say, but it was likely in the years, not months, and it made the feeling growing inside even worse.
“But then you started to notice me again, and I felt a lot better. It was great! We hung out, I helped you practice magic... it was just like things used to be.” I don’t want to say it. I don’t want it to be true! But she wants... me to be honest. Twilight, don’t hate me. “It didn’t feel like it was enough, though...” Twilight flinched but maintained a level expression, even as her worst fears came rushing to the forefront of her mind.
I knew it... I waited too long, he’s not happy here anymore. He’s... he’s going to leave...
“I enjoyed every second, but recently, it just feels like... something’s missing. Something important, something I need to find. As I hang out with other ponies, it feels like I’m starting to get closer to finding it.”
Spike... I can’t let go... not yet... The young dragon looked into the violet eyes of a face that conveyed understanding, but the tears creeping into the corners of Twilight’s eyes betrayed her. I knew this day was coming. I knew it would be painful, but you said it wouldn’t be like this, Celestia! You said he wouldn’t leave... You said... Twilight would admit she was probably being irrational, jumping to such conclusions, but by virtue of the fact that she was as distressed as she was, it could only mean she truly felt guilty for having left his needs and desires for her presence in his life unmet for so long. If Celestia had ignored me the way I ignored Spike, then I probably would have wanted to leave too. Just the thought of being cut off from her makes me... She shook her head, coming to terms with her actions and ready to accept whatever the dragon decided.
“I’m not... ready to leave just yet.” If one had visualized Twilight’s inner state, she would have been sitting down, patiently watching as an avalanche raced towards her, but with those words everything froze. “I... still need you, Twilight. I’m not ready to leave the library, but I just... I feel like I’m starting to finally grow up, spending time with other ponies... I am happy, Twilight, I really am, but I just feel like I need something more than what I can find just spending time with you. So, is there any way... I could maybe spend a little less time as your assistant so I can try to find what’s missing?”
“That’s...” That’s all this was? I really need to stop jumping to conclusions... Had Twilight known a spell to reverse the flow of tears back into her eyes, she would have done so, if only to spurn them for their needless exodus. “Spike, you’ve always been a dear friend to me, and I never meant to make you feel like you had to stay here so much. If you want to go spend time with other ponies, I don’t mind at all. In fact, I think you could learn a lot from others that you couldn’t learn sitting around here stacking books. You’ve already made a few friends, right?”
“Yeah, I’ve been hanging out with Applebloom, Scootaloo and the rest of them a lot lately. It’s a lot of fun, and sometimes we fight, but then I stop, see how much fun I’m having, and...” he paused, noting the thrill infusing his voice as he recalled a few of his memories. “I feel like I’m betraying you, somehow.”
“You know, I struggled with the same thing when I left Canterlot to come here,” Twilight said, smiling and wiping her face with a hoof as she released Spike so she could make eye contact. “Up until that day, I had spent nearly every day since leaving home with Celestia. And for a while, the fun I had here was tinged with a sadness that it wasn’t being shared with her. But finding my friends here filled a void I never knew I had, which is why,” she paused, placing a hoof on his shoulder, “you are no longer my assistant.”
“What? But... I... Twilight, how is that...”
“Hush, Spike, your teacher is speaking.”
“Teacher? Wait, then that makes me...” His eyes grew wide as the realization dawned on him.
“Spike, there’s more to a young dragon’s life that sitting cramped in an overstuffed library. Thus, my new task for you is to go out and make some friends, although I think you’ve already started to work on that.” I thought it would hurt a lot more than this, and it does a little, but if it makes him happier, then it's for the best. Contrary to Twilight’s reluctance when she had been charged with the same, Spike accepted the task wholeheartedly, letting for jubilant cries as he all but danced around the small upper level. Just don’t forget about me, Spike. That’s all I ask. “I do have but one request though, Spike. Make sure you report what you learn to me, ok? I would love to hear about everything, and I’m sure Celestia will, too.”
“Well, duh, of course I will! But, if it’s ok, could I still be your assistant every now and then? Seriously, this place will become a disaster if I just stop helping,” he teased, cheering on the inside as Twilight let out a genuine laugh.
“Of course, Spike. I know you’re probably going to be spending a lot of time outside the library in the coming months, but I’d still like a little time with you too. And not just to clean and organize, either! In fact, could you maybe spend some time with me now?” It was a needless question, and the two of them passed the time just like the old days, Spike helping Twilight do a spot of research while indulging in none-too-healthy study foods of which they were both fond. Eventually, Cerulean returned, and after Dawn had been put to bed, the stallion joined in, burning the midnight oil as a family, and as friends.
Attempting to both yawn and glance at the clock at the same time is fairly difficult, but as Fluttershy again found her eyes open fully, she noted that it was nearly midnight and prepared for some much needed sleep, using the restroom and brushing her teeth. Whisper followed after, and by the time he climbed back into bed, Fluttershy was half asleep, the fatigue of the day combined with staying up past her usual time leaving her utterly exhausted. And yet, she still felt a spark of excitement as Whisper slid in beside her, and she lazily rolled over to seek his warmth, which he readily gave.
“Good night, Whisper. Sleep well,” she mumbled, nuzzling into his chest fur.
“Good night, Fluttershy. See you in the morning.” Bringing a hoof around, he released a sigh much the same as the mare’s while he gently stroked her mane. I’m glad that everything we talked about didn’t change anything. I was... really worried when we got home, and it’s still in my head, but... I can wait. I don’t want to do anything that makes her nervous or sad, and when she’s ready, we can explore together, bit by bit. Just this... is more than I ever dreamed I’d find. Fluttershy cracked her eyes open as she felt the gentle connection of his lips with the end of her muzzle, too relaxed to return the motion but brimming with affection that required some kind of outlet, and thus she simply kissed his chest, as that was closest.
I had always thought that I’d need somepony big and strong to make me feel safe, like Big Macintosh. And yet... even though I’m normally the one helping you, Whisper, I still feel safer in your hooves than anywhere else. I mean, sure, you can’t read, and you nearly ruined my microwave, but... you’re kind, and sweet, and I know that you’d never let anypony lay a hoof on me. Thank you, Whisper. Oh goodness, what am I doing? Fluttershy suddenly snapped out of her revery to find that she had done more than just simply kiss his chest, but had kissed it nearly as passionately as the ponies in the movie had with each other, tongues included, during a rather awkward scene in the movie. As she suspected, Whisper’s face was flushed, his horn aglow, and his eyes strategically pointed away from her own. “Um... I...”
“It was... nice...”
“T-that’s... good, I think...” Is that... really what happens when I start to think about him? I mean, I don’t mind, really. I guess I’m just a little surprised with myself is all. Still... “Did I... make you uncomfortable?”
“No... it just...” he started, slowly bringing his eyes back to hers. I hope this doesn’t make her frustrated again. “It kind of makes me... want to, you know, explore. But I’m not asking, or anything!” Whisper instantly reassured her, despite the fact that she bore the faintest hint of a smile, frowns having no part or portion in her mind. “Storm said it’s wrong to press for it, and I’m not ready anyways... but it still felt... really nice.” What on... why are her wings... but, she was kissing me, wasn’t she? She’s smiling, though. She looks... really happy.
“Whisper... if... if you’d like to, well, kiss me too, I... would really like that.”
“Are you...” Finishing the question would have been a needless expense of magic, as all it took was on look into the mare’s eyes to know she had no doubts in her mind. Shifting slightly to allow her wings a comfortable position, she suddenly found fatigue was a subjective term, and easily set aside in the face of adoration.
“Don’t feel like you have to, ok? I wasn’t trying to say that you should...” He stopped just shy of her lips, each steady breath brushing across her face and chest, and nodded slowly, leaning into a gentle kiss, but strong desire kindled within bidding him press just a little closer, and rather than simply holding the position, he readjusted and kissed again. Even had Fluttershy been completely prepared in her mind, there wasn’t any way she could have anticipated the surge of passion that swept over her like holding a fire to her chest, and soon she found herself filled with a portion of Whisper’s wonder with exploration.
With just a small motion, Fluttershy opened her lips a little wider and ever so softly touched her tongue to his lips, and a shudder of joy ran through her as he let slip the softest sigh she had heard. It brought her even more exhilaration the wealth of pleasure she was already experiencing, and while she hadn’t been planning on taking that step soon, she couldn’t help but make an exception, resolving that it would only be permitted on occasion. Whisper’s hesitancy was like a drug, and after a few moments, he slowly returned the gesture, and they shared their first deep, passionate kiss. There, in the pale light of the moon, innocence joined hooves with kindness.
After an indeterminate amount of time, the two ponies pulled away, beaming at the other. No words were necessary to describe the elation shared, and thus none were spoken as Fluttershy gratefully sank deeper into his embrace. She savored the burning in her flushed cheeks, a small giggle escaping as she quietly wiped her muzzle with a hoof, too enraptured to care what anypony may think should she tell them. Why should she feel sorry for being in love, and showing it? To her, if the gift was given in pure, honest love, then there truly is no reason to be ashamed, and with the thought dancing through her mind along with a plethora of unsung praises for her stallion, she quietly drifted off to sleep, eager to see what the days ahead would bring.
Somehow, even sleep hadn’t dampened the bliss, leading Fluttershy to wonder if there was some kind of limit to how much contentment she could awaken to, and as she eased into consciousness with a smile amidst birdsong and a heartbeat very dear to her, she felt that she was close. Her smile widened as the memories of the previous evening came flowing in, and she felt no shame at the sudden twitching in her wings. Reaching up a hoof, she let it lay softly on the slumbering Whisper’s cheek, silently thanking him again for not being like other males, his every move registering as passionate yet unassuming.
Last night was wonderful, Whisper, and it wasn’t just because of all the butterflies. I really do love you, and I hope you love me too. I’m pretty sure you do, and one day, I’ll get to hear it for myself in your own gentle voice. Heat rose from within as she cherished the thought, and she lay as still as possible, wanting to savor the peace while it lasted. Whisper was to spend the day with Cerulean and Twilight, and Fluttershy had little doubt that at some point, Whisper would be confronted with his magic.
On one hoof, Fluttershy was eager for him to get things under control, because a growing desire to hear him speak had been building in strength in proportion to her love for him. And yet, she knew that anything pertaining to magic was nothing short of terrifying for a stallion that had only seen it wreak destruction on the world around him. The seriousness of the subject began to tug at things lurking below the surface, but in the face of such beauteous morning, Fluttershy refused to pay them any heed, resolving to deal with them at a more appropriate time. For now, it was time for a role reversal, one in which the timid princess woke her prince with a kiss.