My name was Razorbeam, and I am retired.
3w, 6dWell I did promise... I think. 35 comments · 249 views
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19w, 2dAn Unintentional Hiatus 12 comments · 250 views
Everypony always seemed like they were in such a hurry here. Stores were crowded, streets were packed, and Spike was having a rough time of it. He knew he could simply fly over everypony until he reached the castle, but he would have had to land for the guards anyways. One did not simply fly past the guards, even old friends of the Princess.
It certainly didn't help his mood that here he was not well known. Everypony gawked at his massive frame, only adding to his recent self-consciousness. He knew that if he flew overhead it would only make matters worse, because then even more ponies would see him. He could imagine them running around and screaming below as if they were under attack. He shook his head to clear such nonsense, but his wings clenched tighter to his back all the same. He simply trudged on, waiting patiently for ponies to move out of his way, looking at his feet and never making eye contact with anypony. Most ponies were more than happy to get out of his way, but in some places it was simply too crowded to do so.
Still, if he was in the city that meant that the guards had let him through, and for most ponies that was enough. They knew he was harmless, at least deep down. But then, few had seen Spike since he had grown so much, and only a couple ponies truly recognized him, so most kept a careful distance without even realizing it.
Buildings soared on either side of the street, most of which were many stories tall. Here and there Spike would come across a building that was only a single story high, which he himself was almost as tall as. He felt it added to the contrast of the city, for even if all the buildings were similar in design, they were still varied enough that he never got bored with the place. They all had myriad colored roofs, some red, some yellow, and all pleasing to the eye. It wasn't a boorish explosion of hastily assembled colors, but more like a carefully crafted mosaic. Everything flowed into everything else, from the shop signs to the street lamps. The brick street was warm under his claws from the afternoon sun, and he could feel the vibrations of the city; carts rolling over bumps in the road, ponies trotting here and there. In a way, this place almost felt as if it had a heartbeat.
His spirits were lifted slightly as he passed by what appeared to be a crowd of fillies and colts, all students being led by their teacher on some class field trip. All the fillies looked at him in shock, but the colts swarmed around him, hopping up and down when they saw him. "Wow, this is so cool!" One colt chimed, daring to touch Spike. "Yeah! Look how pretty his scales are!" one of the fillies added, looking at her reflection in Spike's scales. The children yammered and shouted, flowing around him like a living river.
"Children, please! You're going to bother him, and I'm sure he has important business to attend to," their teacher huffed, trotting this way and that to try and gather little groups that had split off around Spike in the chaos.
Spike couldn't help but smile. "It's alright, really. I'm not in any hurry," he said. When he smiled, a few of the colts directly in front of him went wide-eyed at the sight of his fangs. Spike noticed and winced, prepared for the same reaction he had been expecting from nearly everypony the past day and a half. But instead he was hit square in the face with typical childhood curiosity.
"Wow, look at those teeth!" one colt chimed. His eyes were no longer wide with shock, but now squinting to get a better look. "I wish I had teeth like that!" His teacher hushed him and shooed him away, looking mortified at her students' behavior.
She opened her mouth to apologize, but Spike waved a claw absently. It hadn't bothered him in the slightest; in fact it had actually improved his mood. At least somepony saw him differently. To the children he was cool, interesting, and 'pretty', as one filly had put it. He wasn't sure about that last one, but one thing was for certain; they weren't afraid of him at all. And they were just children, who could be startled simply by their own imaginations. Creatures like the monster in their closet, or the shadowy thing under their bed were more fearsome to them than he was.
As the teacher finally gathered her students and moved them back into line, they made their way off down the street. The children all continued to look over their shoulders at him, waving farewell and calling their goodbyes. Spike, too, went his way, suddenly remembering why he had come to Canterlot.
It made almost too much sense now. He hadn't even met the Princess yet today, but the change of scenery had already done him a world of good. Granted, most ponies still gave him the reaction he had been afraid of, but they were like ghosts on the edge of his vision now. Colorless and bland, their shocked looks and subtle, fearful body language paled in comparison to the vibrant enjoyment of the children. Something so simple, yet so uplifting.
Feeling renewed and ready, Spike made his way a little more quickly to the castle. It was less crowded here, for few ponies would approach the palace without an invitation. Here and there citizens made use of the public areas of the castle; going to the library, or traversing the expansive gardens. But the main boulevard leading up to the gate was unoccupied, and so Spike had a full view of the magnificent structure.
It was comprised of many towers, some sprouting from the castle itself, and others branching off from other spikes. It wasn't jumbled though, but rather cultured; like a sculpted tree, the branches all neatly in line to form a pattern pleasing to the eye. It was painted white in most places, though if the sun glinted off its face it appeared to be many colors, as if somehow its pale shell was prismatic. Soaring, arched windows and doorways adorned nearly every inch of it, or so it seemed at this distance. The stained glass windows reflected the sunlight brightly in their personal colors, only adding to the castle's brilliance.
Spike was always awed by the palace, and had a hard time believing he had really been invited to stay in such a wondrous place every time he arrived. Still admiring its many features, he did not know he was standing at the gate until one of the guards cleared his throat.
Spike looked down, slightly confused, before his mind caught back up with the times. "O-oh, sorry," he apologized lamely, scratching the back of his head in embarrassment. "I'm here to see the Princess."
The guards only smiled at him. "Good to see you again, Spike. Yeah, the Princess sent word to let you through, so go on ahead." The gates swung open as the guards stepped aside, still smiling pleasantly. "It's strange to see you come alone though... Twilight busy lately?" the guard on his left asked.
Spike really did want to hurry and see the Princess, but he knew that he needed to keep up appearances and hold this conversation with the guards first. He settled his nerves enough to not find the unneeded conversation annoying, and painted a pleasant smile. "No, she's not too terribly busy. But this time the trip was more of a private affair... Like a vacation," he said, snapping his claws together when he had found the right analogy.
The guards both nodded to each other, and the one on the right painted a fake, sour expression on his face. "You're lucky. We haven't seen a vacation in ages." He said, his tone not matching his expression at all, only adding to the humor.
Spike only laughed. "Well, I'm vacationing here, I guess. This is where you guys are all day. If anypony's lucky, it's you."
The guards both shared a laugh with the dragon, and when the silence afterward had gone on long enough, the guards finally ushered him through, waving down the alley to the castle's main door. "Well, we won't keep you. I hope you have a good time. The Princess should be in the private garden around this time, so if she doesn't show up to greet you, just make your way there."
Spike nodded his thanks, and made his way down the main highway to the castle. The gates closed behind him slowly, peacefully. It was not strange or foreboding, like it had always been said in children's stories. Here, when the gates closed behind you, you felt safe. As if you had been transported to another world, free of all the darkness in the one before it. He did not feel trapped here, but rather like they had closed to prevent anything unwanted from following him; such as his worries.
Safely welcomed by the guards, Spike opened his wings and readied to fly. It would be faster to reach Celestia's personal garden by air, since it was on a crafted terrace that jutted from the western side of the third story. He leapt and pumped his wings, drifting lazily in the warm summer air towards the garden. He scoured it from the above, but couldn't catch sight of his hostess.
The garden was an explosion of colors, flowers blooming in every corner, hedges adding contrast to the bright hues with their deep, dark green. It was here that Celestia came to relax, to be away from her duties for a time. Gazebos stood at either end of the terrace, ivy hanging from them. Here and there little 'rooms' had been set up using braided wire. Ivy crept on this as well, casting shade over the paths through the garden.
Spike assumed that she was under one such ivy cluster, if she was in the garden at all. He alighted on the southern end of the terrace, looking around in awe. Birds chimed, and the place felt purely serene. He made his way through the garden, looping his great neck out to peer around hedged corners before deciding if he needed to take this path or that. He had still seen no sign of her.
Then, on the breeze from the west, he caught her voice. But it was not the voice he was used to. Silently, he followed the sound, entranced by it's interesting flow.
He rounded a corner, and there she was. Glowing in all her splendor, and singing to herself. The wind blew her mane about gently, and her eyes gazed lovingly on a tree she had tended many long years. It was a cherry tree, its blossoms the same color as the pink in her resplendent mane.
Spike had never heard her sing like this; nor anypony else. He was enthralled, lost in her voice's pure note and brilliant, soothing volume. She didn't have to fight the sound of the wind or the rustle of the plants to be heard, even if she only had herself as an audience. She didn't yet know that she had a visitor, and Spike couldn't have so much as considered interrupting her, even if he had given it all his attention. But he didn't have any attention to give it.
The melody was bittersweet; sad yet glorious. Silently awed, he listened to the words she was singing, trying to piece them together and better understand this small glimpse of a Celestia he knew nothing of.
"Winter and spring, they softly fade,
Under the brightening dawn,
Summer comes but cannot stay,
For the road ahead is long.
The Sun will come again in time,
To light the world and warm the snow,
The ivy will begin to climb,
The flowers will begin to grow.
Winter blankets all the land,
The moon does shed its brilliant light,
Its beauty we don't understand,
The subtle loveliness of night.
On the wane, the moon has set,
The sun shall rise again anew,
The frost we shall all soon forget,
Instead we greet the springtime dew.
And so the cycle comes to end,
For years are simple, passing fast,
And soon it will complete again,
As it has done for ages past."
Spike felt strangely calmed by the song. Though it was about the fading of the sun, it was also about its return. It was somehow warming, and at the same time chilling, pulling on all his heart strings in one go. He had been holding his breath the entire time, for fear that she might hear him breathing, and end her glorious, magnificent melody. But it had come to an end regardless, the Princess opening her eyes, which had been shut peacefully for the duration of her performance.
Spike let his breath out now, and it had been pent up so long that it came out as a relieved sigh. The Princess heard this, as he was now only a few steps away, and turned to face him, looking slightly startled.
"Oh, hello Spike. I didn't know you had arrived already," she said, looking slightly sheepish, as if she had been caught doing something wrong. Her song had been private, Spike now realized, and he felt terrible for eavesdropping. And yet, he knew if he'd had the chance, he would have listened in all over again. "How was the reception at the gate?" she asked, as if already trying to change the subject she knew to be building in Spike's mind.
"It was warm as ever," he said with a polite smile. But he wasn't going to let her off the hook so easily. This, too, was another side of her he hadn't seen. She had always been so cool and collected, and even now he could barely tell that his unexpected hearing of her melody had affected her in any way. But there were little hints, and he wanted to explore the possibility that under her royal mask, she was much like anypony else. "What was that song you were singing? It was marvelous... I've never heard anypony sing like that before," Spike said, his tone all awe.
Celestia smiled a little at that, glad at least that he had had a positive impression of her song, even if he had eavesdropped. "It's a song Luna and I have been singing for a long time now. She and I are the only two who know all the words to it, and even what you heard was only a little. Still, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I don't sing for anypony very often." She said, regaining her composure all through her response. By the end, she seemed like Celestia had always seemed to Spike; wise, somehow attached to her friends and yet still detached from everything; above it all. But for that split second, he had seen what he believed was a true facet of her personality.
Celestia looked Spike up and down, from his tail to the tip of his nose. "You certainly have grown." She said warmly, smiling at him and striding forward a few steps to greet him more properly. Spike lowered his head appropriately, bowing to her gently as he always had. Despite that he considered her a close friend, the bow had always seemed deserved in her presence. Even if she were not royalty, she always gave off an aura that didn't really demand respect, but rather encouraged it.
Instead of telling him to rise, as she had always done in the past, Celestia pressed the side of her face gently against his, a typical pony embrace. "I am glad you came, my friend." She said, all formality now gone from the situation.
Spike didn't break the embrace, though it seemed awkward simply because it hadn't been his intention. Still, it was comfortable, not abnormal. He found it odd that being this close to somepony this important didn't faze him. "I'm glad you invited me to. I haven't been here long, and already I can feel the weight lifting off my shoulders." He said, finally breaking off the hug, but keeping his head low so that she could converse with him more easily.
She was so much taller than everypony else, and it was strange for Spike to see her standing in front of him, but below him. It had been years since he had seen her last, tending to stay behind when Twilight made trips to the castle. Even with her enhanced height, she still only came up to roughly half Spike's powerful frame. But it was odd; she had loomed over him all his childhood days, and now it was he who towered over her.
Celestia cleared her throat patiently. Spike snapped out of his train of thought, his green eyes locking back to her purple ones. "Is something wrong?" she asked, smiling gently as she always did.
Spike shook his head, slightly embarrassed. "No, nothing like that. It's just been so long since I've seen you last. You used to be so much larger than me, but now I'm twice your size," he said, feeling as if it wasn't really an embarrassing topic; not between these two.
Celestia laughed, a delightful sound that Spike had not heard in years. "Yes, it is rather funny. I still remember when Twilight hatched you, and how small you were then. It's a little strange for me, too." She eyed his wings now, a curious look taking over her features. "When did those come in? They're certainly magnificent," she said, walking around to his back to get a better look.
Spike flared them out so she could see their full span. "About two years ago. They looked ridiculous at first, but they managed to grow in nicely. I had a bit of a growth spurt over the last year," he said, giving them a little flap before tucking them back against his sides.
Celestia stayed behind him, forcing him to turn around and face her. She was standing near the entrance to the garden, waiting for him. "Well, there's no need to stand on occasion. Why don't you come inside and we'll catch up where its more comfortable." Smiling pleasantly, she politely waited for him to enter first, following behind.
It was slightly cooler inside, yet still just as beautiful as the garden. Light filtered through colored windows, painting each hall a different hue. Celestia took the lead now, guiding Spike to a place where they could sit and enjoy each other's company. He followed closely, looking about the castle he had once known so well. Here and there he would spot something new, but for the most part it was all the same. Time did not wear on things here, it seemed, and that was good. Spike needed something familiar and constant.
His gaze settled on Celestia, trotting gracefully a few steps ahead of him. She, too, had not changed over the years. Spike knew that she did not grow older, yet it surprised him to see her exactly as he always had. Even if she did not age, he would expect to see changes in her demeanor, her way of handling herself. But she walked as she had always walked, spoke as she had always spoken, and looked as she had always looked.
They arrived in Celestia's personal study. Spike had never been to this area of the castle, and he took in the new sights with an eager eye. The room was predominantly red, with plush carpeting and large, flowing drapes covering the windows. It was comfortable, and it had a sense of secrecy. Spike enjoyed the feeling that here his words would be shared in private.
Celestia climbed casually onto a couch far too small for Spike, folding her legs under her. Spike laid himself out on the carpet instead, thoroughly pleased with its comfortable feel. Both completely comfortable, Celestia initiated the conversation; a fact Spike was grateful for, since he didn't even know where to begin. He wasn't even sure that he wanted to speak to her about the true reason he had come to see her just yet. Luckily, at least for him, he was not put in that position.
"How has your work been with Twilight?" Celestia asked, pulling a bottle of wine over with her magic. The appearance of the alcohol relaxed Spike slightly; while he didn't really consider himself old enough to drink, he knew enough about it to realize that it helped to make a situation more casual. He was glad to see that things would not become serious too soon. He needed this easy conversation first; a mellow lead in to more pressing matters.
"Things have been going alright. As peaceful as things have been around Ponyville lately, it's been almost... abnormal. But I really can't complain about it. I don't think I've ever seen her so happy in my entire life," Spike finished quietly. He almost added the phrase 'up until recently', but decided it was best not to bring that subject up so soon; or in such a way. The sound of the wine bottle's cork being popped yanked his attention away from that simple thought, and back to his hostess.
She poured herself a glass, swirling it and re-corking the bottle simultaneously. It was a rather impressive feat, though both tasks seemed simple. But in truth, Twilight had educated him enough in the ways of magic that he knew that such finite movements, like swirling the glass, required complete concentration for most anypony; Twilight included. The fact that Celestia could do two such delicate tasks at once without any visible effort was impressive to say the least.
Celestia took a gentle sip from the glass. Her eyes widened slightly as if she had just realized something. "I'm sorry Spike, would you like a glass?" she asked, shaking the bottle gently, since she had not yet re-shelved it.
Spike shook his head slowly, as if he was not really sure of his answer. "I've never had alcohol before, so I think I'll pass," he said idly, though he had to admit to himself that he was curious to try.
Celestia seemed to know all about this silent admission, and uncorked the bottle again, pouring him a glass. "Oh, it will be alright. Wine is light on the tongue, and helps to loosen it. There's nothing wrong with a little now and then. As for never trying it before, there's a first time for everything," she said, her tone soft-spoken as always, yet insistent.
Spike found it hard to fight his curiosity and her urging at the same time, and so he nodded. "Alright, but only a little." Celestia nodded her agreement, and moved a glass his way. It was unwieldy in his large claws, and it felt far too fragile. He expected the stem of the magnificent wine glass to snap under his nails at any second, yet it did not. Gingerly, he sipped at the substance he had only heard of, and never experienced. He coughed after his first taste; he could definitely make out the grape flavor in the wine, but the sudden bitter bite of the liquor made him cringe.
Celestia laughed, sipping at her glass again. "It takes some getting used to, but after a few sips you'll develop a taste for it," she insisted, shaking her glass gently at him to accentuate her words.
"I'll take your word for it..." he said, his tone all disbelief as he took another unpleasant sip. Still, it did not have the same impact as the last, and so he began to wonder if maybe she could be right. All the drinking nonsense aside, Spike decided it would be best to broach new conversation. "So what about you? How have things been here at the palace? It seems as if nothing has changed since I was last here; like coming home without ever really leaving," he said, his tone all warmth, insisting it was a welcome thing.
Celestia sighed, setting aside her glass. "It's been boring, to say the least. So little happens when Twilight is not coming to me for guidance. I fear I grow lazier as she grows wiser. My daily duties are too routine, and they hardly keep me occupied." She said, rolling her eyes. That reaction alone was strange to Spike. Here, alone, she seemed completely different. Where nopony could see her she was so normal, so expressive, no longer the shaded, mysterious Princess of the world he was used to.
Spike liked that. It was humbling to see this creature, the most powerful and majestic he had ever known, revealing her true self to him in such simple ways. It was as if with him she felt no need to keep up appearances. Spike was warmed by that trust, the knowledge that she could depend on him so readily that she didn't need to act around him. He realized suddenly that he had been staring and not listening, her voice carrying on without his attention as he gazed at her. A symptom all too common between him and females these days, it seemed.
"And the guards are just... the guards. They've always been the same, even when I hire new ones. It's as if somewhere out there somepony is making copies of the last batch," she continued, completely oblivious to Spike's staring or his absence of mind. Spike did manage to latch his attention back onto the conversation during this line, though, making a classic recovery.
"Sounds like my visit was well timed. Even if I'm not so interesting, it's at least a change of scenery." He said with a chuckle, sipping again on his wine. He realized as he did so that the glass was suddenly empty; not surprising considering the volume his mouth could hold. Without any prompting at all, the Princess was already refilling his glass.
"I find you very interesting, Spike," Celestia said, sounding slightly insulted at the idea that she might find him boring. "You've changed so much, and you were always so quick witted and intriguing to talk to. I'm glad to see that hasn't changed, except perhaps that maybe it has developed even more." She fixed him with a strange smile, one he had not seen from her before. He wracked his mind, yet he could not quite peg it.
Then it happened, but not in the dramatic, nerve wracking way he had expected. "So, tell me about your troubles, Spike." Celestia said kindly, her tone imparting the feeling that he was not obligated to do so at all. If he so chose, he was free to deny her request. But the look in her eyes, all caring and concern, drove all thoughts of fleeing the inquiry from his mind.
He sighed, setting aside the wine glass. He had not touched it since the refill, and now he had his doubts that he would get the chance. "Where do I even begin...?" he asked sadly. The recent streak of comfort and happiness here cushioned his heart slightly, shielding him from the brute force of sorrow. Yet he was not immune to it, and it permeated his tone when he spoke.
It had been rhetorical, yet Celestia answered him all the same. "Tell me about her. About Rarity." She said, her tone curious and warm. "About why you love her."
Spike looked at her, slightly shocked. He hadn't expected that request; he had been prepared to recount her rejection of him, or his fear of repeating such a failure. Or even his concern that he would never be able to face her again. But he had not expected to recount all of his feelings for her.
"I... I can't explain it. She's brilliant, funny, beautiful. Every word she says is a treasure to me... or it was. But I'm not sure anymore," Spike replied. He said it all without realizing it, and after reflecting on it he realized it was true. Did he really not know why he loved Rarity now? All he knew was that he did, but he couldn't explain it... He didn't have the words for it. Feeling ashamed at such an obvious failure concerning his heart, he could only think of one thing to say.
"I'm not even sure I understand what love is, Princess." He said sadly, looking away from her and down to the floor in shame.
"Please, just Celestia." She said, her tone all sweet sympathy. "I can understand that feeling, Spike... It's why I asked what I did. Love is hard to explain, but easy to feel." She rose from the couch, setting aside her own glass and walking over to him, sitting with him on the carpet. "The heart is not good with words; it is dominated by feelings."
Spike sighed. "I know that much, at least... but how can I know why I love her, if I don't know what love truly is? I have only ever loved her, but how do I know it was love? I don't have anything to compare it to... it's always been her," he said, his tone becoming even more somber.
Celestia sighed, patting his clawed hand gently. "It's not easy when you only have one love. But you are young; the path to discovering love isn't a short one. If it were that simple, the world would be a much easier place to live in. Sometimes, you need to explore new possibilities before you realize what it is love truly means." She said quietly.
Spike sighed as well, understanding her words, but unwilling to heed them. "I don't want to explore... I just want her. Have you ever felt like that? To want somepony so badly?" He asked, his grief turning to subtle anger, his tone almost accusing her of inexperience in the ways of love.
Celestia's face went suddenly sad, and Spike's heart sank. He had no idea what impact his words had had on her, but he didn't care much for it. She had always appeared happy and in control, but her eyes spoke of a time when she had once been broken-hearted like he was now.
"I've loved before." She said quietly, sadly. It was her who looked away now, unwilling to meet his gaze. It was as if she was seeing something from a long time ago, her world no longer that of the present. "He loved me back, and we were happy. It was much the same with me at first; uncertainty, rejection. But as we fell apart, we realized how badly we missed one another, and we returned. That was how I learned what love truly was." Tears welled in her eyes as her next words caught in her throat.
"He was wonderful. But I am immortal, and he was not," she said quietly, her voice trailing off, unwilling to continue.
Spike suddenly understood the grief she was recalling. "Oh, Princess," he said quietly, unsure of any other words to console her with. It was so strange, so unexpectedly backwards. And so sudden. But he realized now that she had probably never told anypony this. She had never had the chance to confide this heartbreak, had lived with it all her life. And now she was leaping at the chance to be heard, he knew. in her position, he would have done the same. Spike didn't mind; this didn't need to be about him right now. He was just as happy being able to give her comfort as he was receiving it for his own pains.
"Oh Spike... I had to watch him die." She said, her tears coming fully now. Spike curled his neck around her, wrapping her in his warm embrace, the best comfort he could offer as she cried. Never had he seen her cry; sorrow was not something he had imagined she had even experienced, as kind and happy as she had always seemed. But he could not imagine that pain, the pain of watching your lover fade away while you lived on forever.
"Celestia, please..." he said quietly, squeezing her gently to calm her and bring her back to the present, the room they were in, and away from that terrible time.
"You're... you're right, Spike," she said sadly, turning to face him, his eyes only a few feet from hers, seeming mere inches considering the length of his nose and hers. "It was ages ago, and I should be over it... But I can't be, and I'm not sure I ever will be. I've never loved again, for fear of suffering through that a second time," she said, her control regained, but her voice still melancholy.
"Is that what love is...?" Spike asked, gently holding her still, almost unaware of the contact. They weren't bodies now, but souls, battling each other's sorrows with all their might.
"Yes, Spike... Love is a feeling that never dies, no matter the ages that pass; a feeling capable of bringing you great joy, and great sorrow," she said, pressing her cheek against his, needing the embrace. "I have been so alone for so long. Someday, everypony I know will fade away. Twilight, the others... Only I will remain." She said sorrowfully.
That revelation shocked Spike. He hadn't considered the idea that even the ponies he knew today would someday leave her. It struck him hard in the heart, and he could finally feel full empathy for her. He didn't know if he could go on living like she had in her situation. How many friends had she lost? How many stallions had she loved, knowing she could never be with them for fear of their passing?
Celestia looked away again, embarrassed and ashamed of her sudden breakdown. Unwilling to let her wallow in these feelings, Spike turned her eyes back to his gently with the back side of his hand, so that he would not scratch her. When he finally had her attention, he smiled at her, a sad yet hopeful expression.
"Even if someday I'm gone too, for now you have me." He said gently, wanting nothing more than to comfort her. She had been so good to him all these years; it was the least he owed her. It was strange, to have her this fragile in front of him, wrapped in his neck for comfort. It didn't seem like her, and yet he knew it was; the real her.
She too smiled, and though it remained sad, it contained a glimmer of happiness and comfort. "Thank you, Spike... I needed to hear that." She sighed, the air coming out shakily as she tried to regain her composure. She tossed her mane gently, trying to put it back into place from the mess her breakdown had caused. "I'm sorry you had to see that."
Spike only smiled at her. "Don't be... What kind of friend would I be if you couldn't share your problems with me? I'm honored, if anything. Thank you, Celestia," he said quietly, his tone sincere. He meant every word. Powerful as she was, even she was not immune to the hurt love could cause. It was humbling, eye opening, and most importantly strangely comforting. Clearly it was a force nopony could command, and it calmed Spike's own tormented emotions to know that a certain amount of it was beyond his control. He broke off the embrace, the moment now past.
"A poor one indeed." Celestia admitted, laughing slightly, and running a hoof across her wet eyes. They sat near, yet no longer touching, the silence between them speaking volumes. They let their feelings run free in the air between them for a time, until at last Celestia spoke up. "What do you think about dinner...?" She asked weakly, possibly the worst attempt at a subject change Spike had ever heard.
He wasn't about to turn her down though. They both needed a break from this, to clear the air between them before this conversation could happen again. "Dinner sounds wonderful," he replied gently, standing and helping her back to her hooves as well. "Come on; we can talk about this later," he said, dismissing the topic calmly for now. He needed to be the strong one, the calm one, at least for a short while. She would have her turn later, he knew.
Together, he and his Princess made their way out of the study, in pursuit of dinner and finer moods.
It had been easier than she had worried it would be; Rarity had locked herself away in the boutique, and she had yet to try and handle that nightmare. But the others had taken the news well enough. None of her friends had questioned Spike's visit to the royal city. When the Princess came calling, it was just best to go.
Twilight was glad that Rarity had not been present. She knew that eventually she would have to deal with the mare in private. Something from the night before didn't quite resonate with her. While she could admit love talks weren't her forte, she knew Spike well enough to realize that he had been hiding something. Still, she had no intention of bringing it up to her purple friend before he had left; it would have only delayed his recovery, or so she thought.
But Rarity was another issue, and she meant to get the truth from her; if ever the white mare would leave her house.
A knock on her door caused her to jump. It was already ten at night, and at this hour visitors were usually limited to about six people. Curious, she trotted over and peered out the window. Her face suddenly all shock, she snapped back to the door and threw it open.
There she was, as if summoned by her thoughts. Never in her life had she seen Rarity in such a mess. Her mane was all but destroyed, the stylish curls crumpled and flattened. Her eyes looked far away, as if always somewhere else, the bags under them indicative of a sleepless night. Even her normally fine coat was ruffled and spiky. She looked as if she had been hit by a tornado and struck by lightning all at once.
"Rarity...?" Twilight asked, not even completely sure it was her.
She walked in slowly, as if in a trance. Standing inside the door, she suddenly shook her head violently, and snapped back to reality. "Twilight, I need to see Spike!" she practically screamed, rushing up to her purple friend and shaking her roughly.
Twilight brushed her off angrily, clearly seeing where this was going. "Oh, so now you want to see him," she said, a hint of sarcasm in her voice.
Rarity winced. She had known if Spike went to anypony first, it would have been Twilight. She was suddenly nervous of her own choice to come see the purple unicorn, knowing full well that she was probably now on Spike's side of this train wreck of a relationship she had made. And what was worse, she knew that she deserved every ounce of her friend's anger. Spike was like a son to her, and Rarity had done damage to his heart. Something a mother was not quick to forgive.
"Twilight please..." she begged, her voice sincere with worry. "I went looking for him after that night and haven't found him since. I need to speak to him..." She was still completely unsure she knew what she would say if she did, yet she knew she had to. Her heart and soul were screaming at her to do so, and she needed to follow them, else they would tear her to shreds.
"Spike is taking a little break from Ponyville. And if you want to see him so badly, you'll have to go find him; but I'm not telling you where he is until you tell me the truth," Twilight said, her eyes angry and her voice even more so.
Rarity didn't like this. Angry Twilight was not on her list of things she was prepared to deal with right now. "Th-the truth? What do you mean?" she asked, backing up a step and looking for a way out, figurative or real; at this point, anything would do.
Twilight wasn't going to let that happen, and used her magic to slam shut the front door that Rarity had left wide open. "The truth about what happened with Spike. He came to me and told me you rejected him because you just wanted to be friends." Twilight took a step closer to her, and then another, continuing her speech. Rarity continued backing away, until Twilight had literally pressed her into a corner.
Her eyes still narrow, angry and demanding a straight answer, Twilight pressed on. "But after he left, I got to thinking. You know how I love thinking." She said, her voice deadly serious. "And that excuse; the entire friendship thing...? It's not the truth, now is it?" Twilight's muzzle was now pressed hard against Rarity's, bending her nose back toward her as she cringed away.
Rarity lost it. She had been near the breaking point too many times in the last twenty-four hours to count, but this time she passed it. She slumped, sobbing in front of her furious friend. She was right be angry with her! She deserved every ounce of that glare!
"Oh, Twilight! I broke his heart!" Rarity wailed, laying on the floor without even an ounce of strength to raise herself back up. "The things I said, all lies. I didn't mean to hurt him the way I did, I tried not to!"
Twilight stomped a hoof in impatience, not at all fazed by the sobbing routine. "What... did... you... do?" She asked fiercely, bringing Rarity back to her feet with magic. The pale pony stood there, legs shaking from a torrent of emotions.
"I am afraid of him, Twilight! I was terrified, right in front of him!" Rarity practically screamed, unable to contain the words she had yet to say aloud any longer. "The claws, the fangs, the fire! I suddenly saw him for what he is; a dragon!"
Her head snapped to the side as Twilight slapped her hard, her face livid with anger and sadness, both fighting for dominance. Rarity sat down in shock, unable to comprehend that her friend had struck her.
"You.... you foolish, stupid, inconsiderate.... Rrrrrr!" Twilight fumed, for once completely out of words. "Saw him for what he truly is? If you saw that, if you had ever seen it once in your entire life, you two would have been in love for years by now!" She roared. Angry tears now stained her face. She did not like hitting her friend, but she had no desire to take it back. Rarity had deserved it.
"But he's dangerous, Twilight..." Rarity whispered lamely, rubbing her stinging cheek.
That only made Twilight even angrier. "Dangerous? Dangerous! When have you ever seen him harm a fly? If anyone's dangerous here, it's you!" She said, pointing an accusing hoof in Rarity's face. "You broke his heart. And you think he's the dangerous one? Spike is gentle and kind; all he has ever wanted was to be with you and care for you. How can you fear him?" she said, her anger finally leaking out and turning into disbelief at the end.
Rarity sat down hard, her face all shock. She was the dangerous one. Oh Celestia, she was right! Spike would never hurt her, but she had hurt him in the worst way possible. She felt her heart clench as she realized her stupidity, her shallowness. Her fear of him remained, but it throbbed dully, a background shade in the bright realization of what she had done to her dear friend.
"Don't you love him at all?" Twilight asked quietly, her rage spent.
Rarity rose slowly from the floor at that, considering it. Of course she did. She had just been to blind, too caught up in what he appeared to be. She had forgotten what he truly was in her shock and her horror. She bit down hard, clenching her jaw, suddenly furious with herself. "Of course I do, Twilight." She stared hard at her friend, suddenly grateful for the harshness, the sting on her cheek. Without it, she would be a trembling mess for the rest of her life around Spike, if she even ever saw him again.
"Then I'll keep my promise," Twilight said quietly, her tone a mixture of relief and skepticism. Rarity couldn't blame her disbelief; the hurt she had caused Spike was not easily forgiven. "The Princess invited Spike to Canterlot, to get away and clear his head for a while. If he hadn't, he was prepared to never speak to you again. The Princess convinced him not to make such a hasty decision." Twilight scowled at her. "Try not to waste this opportunity to redeem yourself."
Rarity smiled sadly. "I wouldn't dream of it. Thank you Twilight," she said quietly. "Can you send me to him?" Rarity asked, referring to Twilight's teleportation spell.
Twilight shook her head, scowl still in place. "No. I want you to prove to me that you've realized the truth about him. If you want to see him so badly and make things right, you will have to do it on your own." Twilight's voice softened at the end of it all. She couldn't stay mad at her friend forever, even with the hurt she had cause Spike. "There's a train leaving tomorrow morning for Canterlot. If you really mean to go, that will be your chance."
Rarity sighed, grateful that she at least had some chance at this, even if Twilight would not help her. "I'll go, you can count on that." Rarity said with determination. "Thank you, Twilight... For everything you did. I needed that."
Twilight smiled at her, sincere yet sad. "You're welcome... just don't make me have to do it again. I'd really rather not," she said sheepishly, suddenly looking back all her rage.
Rarity headed for the door. If she was leaving in the morning, she had a lot preparations to make; like fixing her mane. "I won't, believe me. This time, I'll tell him how I really feel... and it's not fear anymore," she said quietly, determined and sincere, walking her way outside.
Twilight smiled warmly to herself. Though it had been a sour meeting, the result had been sweet. Perhaps soon things would go back to the way they were meant to be. She shut the door behind her friend, watching her through the window as she made her way home.
"Everything will turn out in the end," she said to herself with a sigh. "It always does."