"This world is a trip!" -Bobby Brown
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I remember. I remember it like it happened yesterday. In fact, it did. Just a mere twenty-two hours ago. Isn't life funny like that? How something so sudden can just happen, and then it feels like a distant memory? How did this happen? A better question would be, why did this happen? Out of everything that could've happened, my little assistant, my best friend, my son, had to be taken away from me. What do I do? How do I get on with my life? Spike was always there for me, when I needed a shoulder to cry on. And now that he's gone, how in Equestria does a pony bear the loss of their only son? That's what Spike has always been to me; A son. It's a shame I never told him how much he really means to me.
It all started with the cough, a day after we returned from my older brother's wedding. I asked Spike if he was okay, to which he replied that he had a cold. Soon enough, the coughs became violent, frequent. I asked him if he should go to the hospital. He declined, saying how I've been reading to many pony tails. We both laughed at his dry sense of humor.
Later that day, I had to run an errand and fit some dresses for Rarity. Just as I was saying my goodbyes and walking out the door, Pinkie Pie came bursting through. She was a mess, her hair flat like it was on her birthday last year, and the vibrant pink was now a darker and rather depressing shade. Her eyes puffed and red from crying, further indicated by tear tracks embedded on her cheeks. She was screaming and crying slurred phrases that I couldn't understand. Without even asking me, her foreleg intertwined with mine and she dragged me back to the library, Rarity following in fast pursuit.
Nothing could've prepared me for what I'd arrive to. In the center of the library, with a mop at his side and a spilled bucket over water forming a pool around his tiny form, was Spike. He was pale, still. Not a single muscle twitch. Losing all composure, I barreled into my home with the other two ponies behind me. I picked Spike up, putting an ear to his chest. No heartbeat. Rarity's eyes widened with fear, tears poured down her cheeks. She sprinted out the door, calling for help. Pinkie Pie, not knowing what else to do, collapsed to her knees and sobbed uncontrollably into her crossed forelegs, tearfully saying she's sorry.
Minutes later, Rarity returned with Applejack, Rainbow, and Fluttershy. At the very sight, A.J.'s lips trembled as she took off her hat, placing it over her heart. Rarity collapsed into tears once more, burying her face into Fluttershy's trembling shoulder. The yellow pegasus comforted the pristine mare, inaudibly weeping to herself. Rainbow Dash's eyes darted around the room as she took in panicked breaths, trying to maintain her composure, though failing miserably.
Minutes later, paramedics arrived and carted Spike away into the hospital. I was a wreck, a complete mess. A.J. had to forcibly restrain me so I wouldn't go running after the medics. Seeing the emotional state I was in, my friends agreed to spend the night at my place. We cried ourselves to sleep. Though I can't say everypony acted the same, I know I did.
Princess Celestia arrived early the next morning, just as the sun rose for a new day, to bring me the tragic news. Spike was beyond saving at that point. He was gone before Pinkie left the library to get me. Breaking down into a fit of choked sobs, I asked my teacher how this happened. She told us the Changelings emit a toxin to ward off predators. Equines have a natural resistance to the poison, but that's because it targets only animals. Or dragons. My heart was in pieces, and I could tell my friends were having a hard time grasping the news as well. Even Applejack failed in maintaining her 'tough-as-nails' demeanor, expressing her sorrow by kicking out a ladder set beside a bookshelf. Celestia offered a funeral being held this afternoon.
A sudden thought just hit me: We were home for one day before the poison overpowered Spike's underdeveloped immune system.
As I stand here in the light drizzle whisking Ponyville, thinking over the events that had transpired, I was shocked to realize I had no anger harbored to the Changelings. Or to Celestia. Or anypony for that matter. I just felt empty, a hollowed out shell.
I couldn't bear anything more than a passing glance at my friends. Or the entire town for that matter. Spike has always been there for Ponyville, always ready to help a pony in a time of need. He wasn't just my assistant, he's everypony's assistant.
Many ponies stood out in the rain, allowing their manes to get drenched. Others had saddle umbrellas, black ones to be exact. I was sharing one with Shining Armor and Cadence, who each had their chins nuzzling my convulsing back. Behind me, were my friends. I noticed Rarity's neck was adorned with a golden necklace joined in the middle by a fire ruby, the same one Spike gave her. The others were huddled beside eachother, bleak expressions masking their somber demeanor. Applejack's brown stetson was replaced by a black one, the rim covering her emerald green eyes. Fluttershy copied the notion, but with her mane. Rarity levitated a tissue under her eyes, wiping away her running mascara. Pinkie was no longer the cheerful, bubbly, pony she normally is. She was uncharacteristically quiet, depressed, her puffy mane flattened, falling around her shoulders.
Princess Celestia stood beside a small, rectangular, hole, her stoic persona flustered by a saddened frown. She hated seeing me like this, but I knew that deep down, the eternal Goddess of the Sun was crushed by the passing of the only friend I had during my fillyhood, one that was such an influence in my life. Beside the princess was a small wooden box; too small to hold anything of true value.
When the alicorn extended her wings, that was the signal for everypony to turn around and witness the casket being carried down the path. Until that moment, I didn't notice how many ponies were here. Literally the whole town, and then some, is attending the funeral. I even saw some of Spike's old friends from Canterlot, specifically the red-headed unicorn, Moondancer.
Almost military-like, four alabaster royal guards, all unicorns, levitated the small glossy wood casket down the path in the middle of the crowd. Not a single eye was dry as they remained locked on the infant's final resting bed. Right then and there, I lost all control and began bawling into my brother's side. My old foalsitter rubbed my back and made soothing hushed whispers, like she did when I was a filly. I was too lost in my own despair to know what my friends were doing.
The guards gently settled the casket onto the damp wet ground, then entered a hollow stance with two on either side. I'd be lying if I told you that even the grim and gruff royal guards were obdurate. Just as I regained my composure, the top half of the casket opened up, revealing Spike with his hands folded over his chest, his eyes peacefully closed, and a passive smile played across his lips. Wails of agony erupted from various ponies within the crowd as they lost control of their emotions at the sight of the deceased dragon. Memories of him and I, laughing and playing, flooded into my mind, causing my heart to tighten.
"My friends," Princess Celestia began, stopping to clear her throat, "We are gathered here today in mourning of a very kind, loving soul. But mourning does not mean that we grieve, but also celebrate his life. Dragons live to be hundreds of years old, yet Spike's was unfairly cut short. But in that brief time, he's managed to touch the lives of hundreds of ponies, represented by the masses gathered before me today." Behind me, I heard hysterical sobs coming from Fluttershy. I didn't dare to turn around and look.
The princess continued, saddened by the sight of the heartbroken Elements. "Though Spike has been a handful at times, he's always managed to stick by his friends through the worst of times, always happy to help them. Because of Spike, we were proven that dragons can, in fact, live amongst ponies in peace. Perhaps one day in the future, we'll see that happen."
The Princess took a step closer to the opened casket, hitching her breath. "Spike, you are truly an inspiration to us all, especially me. Your kindness and heart is one that comes only once a millennia. You taught me how a being from a vastly different race could live in harmony amongst ponies. And that, my friends," The box beside her was encased in a warm golden aura, levitating beside her and opening up. "is the true meaning of friendship." Inside the case was a light purple fragment with darker purple spots. It was about the size of a hoof.
A moment later I realized the item was a piece of Spike's egg. The nostalgia rushed back with great force, hitting me with memories of how excited I was to get my cutie mark, become Celestia's private student, and have my own pet dragon. Though of course, as time went on, I treated Spike less as a pet and more like a brother.
The princess gently lied the egg fragment into the coffin, beside Spike. If it wasn't for the rain, I could've sworn she was crying. Clearing her throat, Celestia said in an emotion thick voice, "Anypony who wishes to say their final goodbyes may do so now."
I stepped out of the crowd of weeping ponies, feeling a lump grow in my throat with each step. My saddlebags became heavy and damp from the rain, though I paid little to no attention. My friends stepped out as well. I ushered my friends to go before me, feeling the heavy gaze of the crowd on us.
Rainbow Dash went first. The cyan pegasus approached the opened coffin, her damp rainbow mane dripping onto her snout. "Hey, squirt." She said in a cracked voice. "Uh,. . . I'm not really good at this kinda stuff, as you can see." She rubbed the back of her head, giving a nervous chuckle. Her crack slunk back into a frown when Spike didn't respond. "I'm really gonna miss you little guy. And uh, I'm sorry for making fun of you during the dragon migration." Tears began to blur eyesight as a forced smile etched her lips. "Catch ya later, ferocious dragon." She sprinted off to the far side of the crowd in a fit of sobs.
Fluttershy stepped up, choking on her sobs as she tried finding the right words to say. "Spike....you-you're a really kind soul,....a-and I still feel a bit silly I didn't make friends with you sooner...but, uh...I-I can't do this....I just can't do this!" She flared her wings open and took a brief flight, landing abruptly beside Rainbow Dash, who wrapped a comforting foreleg around her neck.
Twilight noticed a light tug at her tail. She turned to see three pairs of reddened eyes belonging to the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Scootaloo held a small brown sack on her back. Without a word, Twilight stepped back, allowing them to go before her. Sweetie Belle uttered a quiet 'thank you.' A faint smile creased the lilac pony's lips, thinking back on all of the times Spike helped the Crusaders in the quest to find their special talents whereas all of the adults brushed them off or told them to wait, Twilight included.
Applejack removed her black hat and placed it over her heart, her ponytail stuck to the side of her neck. "Spike, yer one crazy sunuva gun, y'know that? When ah heard you went on that dragon migration, ah thought I banged mah head against the tree again." She gave a sad chuckle, "Yeah, it's gonna be mighty quiet without you around. But ah know you'll always be in our hearts. Here kid," She reached into her pale green saddle bag and pulled out a thermos full of cider. "It's on the house. Ah was gonna give it to ya when ya turned twenty-one, but ah'm not entirely sure what the age is fer dragons." A lighthearted chuckle passed her lips as she set the beverage beside the adolescent. "Sleep tight, killer." She placed the hat back on her head and made a somber trot to meet her friends.
Pinkie Pie convulsed with each sob, trying to rub the tears from her eyes to the best of her abilities. "Oh Spike, nothing'll be the same without you. Your smile, your humor, your laughter, all gone, and we'll never get it back." Though her icy blue eyes were glazed with depression, a faint smile managed to form across her lips. "But I know you'll be in pony heaven, making a new group of friends smile." And with that, the party pony dragged her hooves through the wet soil and joined the recovering group of ponies.
The fashionista's pearl white fur matted with rainwater and her pristine mane was soaked and twisted. These were the last things on her mind. "Oh, my little Spikey-Wikey." She took a deep, shaken breath. "You're just a gem, an absolute gem." Her eyes welled with fresh tears as a warm smile spread across her face. She looked down at the dragon, not with depression, but with happiness. "You're such a good soul, Spike, always giving and never asking for anything in return. To be honest, you're more of the Element of Generosity than I am." She sighed with bliss. "I've always known you liked me, and I'm sorry I never took it seriously....until it was too late." Her expression fell as she hung her head in sorrow. "But you won't have to worry about that any longer." Her necklace was encased in an icy glow, soon lifting itself into the air and slowly descended into the coffin. "Now you'll always be close to my heart." She tearfully whispered, staring at the heart-shaped fire ruby resting on Spike's still chest. She made a quick retreat to her friends.
The trio of fillies trotted towards the coffin, looking down at the ground. Applebloom, who's bow sagged from the relentless downpour, said, "Spike, yer, uh,....." A sob hitched her throat, causing the filly to break down and cry. To the left, Sweetie Belle placed a comforting hoof on her friend's back.
"She's just trying to say thanks, for helping us in our Crusades." The purple and pink maned filly squeaked, her emerald orbs shone with tears.
The golden coated filly regained her fortitude and said in a tone cracked with emotions, "Even if they were busts, I'm sure you'd be just as happy as we will when we get our cutie marks."
Scootaloo nodded and took a step forward, "We found this yesterday, when we tried being coal miners." She said earnestly, dumping the contents of the bag into an outstretched hoof: A topaz the size of Rarity's fire ruby. "We want you to have it." She bit her trembling lip, gently lying the gem in the corner of the casket. Not knowing what else to say, the fillies ran out of the graveyard, leaving behind a melancholy atmosphere.
My heart ached after seeing all of my friends' beautiful speeches while I had nothing. I just thought I'd say whatever enters my mind, and so I did. "Spike," I said, already on the brink of tears. "You're the best friend a pony could ask for. You're kind, you're faithful, you're true. But no one, and I mean no one, will ever replace you as my number one assistant." My eyes blurred with tears as I completely broke down. "I loved you, Spike!" I choked, "You-You were my brother, m-my son!" Falling onto my stomach, I kept my eyes locked on the sleeping infant. "I mean, I know I seemed unappreciative for everything you do, and I was sometimes a little short-tempered, but I...I just-" I felt a hoof wrap around my shoulders, then another, and another. I looked up with reddened eyes to see my five friends standing beside me with comforting smiles.
"It's okay, sugarcube." Applejack said, smiling through her tears.
I couldn't believe I was crying like a filly in front of the whole town. But to be honest, I didn't care at this point. With all my friends at my side, I knew I could get through this. Smiling back at the casket, I said with a genuine yet wobbly smile, "Spike, if it weren't for you, I wouldn't have met such loving and caring friends. You're the best assistant, friend, and family a pony could hope for. You may have never know your true parents, but it's like you said before: We're your family."
Tears slid down my muzzle as I reared my head to open my saddle bag. A small, framed picture levitated out of the dampened white bag. I leaned it against the side of the coffin, showing Equestria the family Spike has.
I stood on all fours, feeling my heart slowly lifting. "Goodnight, my number one assistant."