Teeth freshly brushed and hair combed, Spike Sparkle stopped in the open archway of the family dining room. His right hand clutched the hardwood frame as his eyes roved over the space.
Sitting at the head of the light rosewood table was Night Light, his foster father. The older man was clutching the black and white print of what was assumed to be the “Equestria Herald”, the paper crumpled as he held it tightly between work-worn fingers.
On the older man’s left side sat Shining Armor. The older boy was shoveling forkful after forkful of lightly browned, syrupy heaven into his mouth like someone was trying to take it away from him.
Across the table from Shining, in the chair closest to the young, observing boy, sat Twilight Sparkle. Her small right hand was wrapped around a tall glass of orange juice. She was staring over at her older brother, her hand paused on the way to her mouth.
“Shiny, if you keep eating like that you’re going to get a stomach ache.” Her voice had a stern warning to it, but still held it’s kind, loving tone.
The sound brought a small smile to Spike's face as he left his observing position to join the rest of his family for breakfast.
His small, right hand reached out to slide his chair out next to his older sister, her gaze immediately locked on him. “Glad you finally came down to join us, sleepy head. For a minute there I thought you crawled back into bed.” Twilight’s voice was playful. A shared, identical goofy smile appeared on both the older girl and younger boy’s face.
Spike climbed up into his chair, shuffling it closer so he didn’t have to reach so far to eat. “You know me! Always trying to find an excuse to jump back in for few more Z’s.”
The girl’s laugh echoed around the room, bringing smiles to everyone’s faces. Twilight Sparkle could always make anyone’s day with just one genuine smile and laugh; at least, for the Sparkle family she could.
Shining Armor reached forward, his hand playfully trying to steal a piece of bacon off the young boy’s plate when he wasn’t looking. Spike’s eyes immediately swiveled to stare at his older brother, his small hands reaching up to grab around the larger wrist. Shiny playfully tried to fight him off, still trying to grab the piece of food before giving up with a smile of surrender.
“Okay, okay you can have it, big guy,” Shining said playfully, retreating back to his own plate.
“It was mine in the first place!” Spike stuck out his tongue, his left hand reaching out to wrap his fingers around the greasy food before bringing it up to his mouth and biting it in half. He chewed it thoroughly before swallowing.
Night Light shuffled his paper, his glasses sat low on his nose as he skimmed through the bold headlines. “So, Spike, looking swell there sport. I’m sure you’ll get all the ladies’ attention today,” the older man said with a chuckle, his index fingers bending the top of the paper over to give a toothy smile to his youngest son.
Spike’s mouth dipped harshly into a scowl, his green eyes narrowed to give his father a dirty look.
Twilight reached over and dipped her fingers through his green mess of hair. Her hand swiping through the green locks, soothing the aggravated middle schooler.
“Don’t let daddy get to you, Spike. He teased Shiny and I then just as much as he is you now. He thinks it’s a father’s prerogative to give us a hard time.”
Spike nodded, his older sister's words drained all the anger out of him leaving a small smile resting on his face. He tightened his fingers around his fork and proceeded to copy his older brother, shoveling the bits of pancake into his mouth at top speed.
Twilight Velvet entered the room, steaming plates of pancakes, bacon, and a pitcher of freshly made orange juice held delicately between both her hands on a silver tray.
“Good heavens! boys, slow down! There’s more where that came from. You all need a good breakfast, but if you swallow it whole you’ll just end up sick to your stomach and miserable instead of focused on your tasks.”
Velvet’s voice broke Spike’s concentration, his fork clattering out of his hand with a ‘clink’ to his plate. His eyes locked onto the food in his foster mother's hands. It was like he hadn’t ate in days, at least that’s what his stomach was telling him.
Shining Armor noticed the look on his younger brother’s face, a grin made itself known on his own lips.
“Hey mom, can I get some of that?” Shiny had raised his fork in acknowledgement of his mother, his smile widened as she nodded.
“Mom, me too! Can I?” Spike quickly reclaimed his fork and waved it high in the air, his expression turning into one of worry as he saw his brother sliding almost half the stack of cakes onto his plate, Shining took more than a couple of pieces of bacon too.
Twilight shook her head at the two boys, her small smile baring teeth as she watched her little brother begin to fidget anxiously in his seat.
Night Light peeked over his newspaper at the elder boy. “Now Shiny, make sure your little brother gets his fair share. It’s his first day at a brand new school.”
“But dad! I’m so––” Shining Armor cut himself off before finishing that thought as he looked at the smirk slowly growing on his father’s face. “You know what? Here, Spike, take some of mine.” Shining Armor forked several of the pancakes off of his plate and onto his brother’s.
Night Light chuckled to himself as he went back to his paper. “Besides, he’s going to need all the help he can get,” he muttered to himself, just loud enough for Shining to overhear.
Spike’s face beamed as his mother placed several more strips of bacon alongside the—now intimidating—stack of pancakes, before covering the stack in maple syrup.
He began to inhale the fresh food, even challenging Shining Armor to see who could finish their stack of pancakes first. By the end, Spike was beaming in victory, and Shining Armor let out a slow groan as he held his stomach.
“I told you you’d get a tummy ache if you ate too fast, but nooooo you didn’t listen to me.” Twilight said right before she stuck her tongue out at her older brother.
The two older siblings began making faces at each other, the youngest Sparkle watching from his own seat while smiling brightly.
“Okay, Spike, Twilight,” Velvet started, “into the front room! You know what time it is.”
Twilight jumped to her feet with excitement, her competition with her older brother immediately forgotten.
“Umm… what time is it, Twi?” Spike whispered his question to the girl, not wanting to let their mother see that he didn’t know what they were going into the front room for.
“You don’t remember?” The older girl questioned as she pushed her chair out to leave the dining room, her smile wavering.
“Umm… no? Should I?” Spike copied his sister, pushing his chair out from under the table and hopping down. His eyes locked on to her face, curiosity causing his brow to dip and his mouth to curl downward on one side.
Twilight glanced down at her little brother, a frown dipping the corners of her mouth. She placed her soft hand on his shoulder and kneeled down in front of him.
“Spike, what did you do?” She said as she shook her head in false disappointment. She clicked her tongue, a soft sigh following after as her hands reaching up to untie the knot he had made with the ribbons of his dress-shirt.
“What? Oh… It wouldn’t tie right for me so I just knotted it and left it alone,” Spike mumbled, avoiding his sister’s eyes.
The older girl was quiet as her long fingers crossed the ribbons over one another, pulling it tight before proceeding to form the two silky pieces into a tight, straight, and perfect white bow.
“There, now you’re perfect. Let’s go.” Twilight patted her hand on the bow before standing back up to her full height, a smile was back on her lips but her eyes held a note of sadness.
Spike’s eyes dropped to watch the tight bow puff out, the silky white ribbons were formed elegantly in a way he didn’t think he would ever learn how to do. His eyes looked back up at his sister curiously as her hand gestured for them to go to the other room.
The two children walked into the front room and Spike’s eyes shifted from Twilight to the antique chair covered in red velvet sitting in front of the window. His expression changing from curiosity to recognition.
The early sun shone brightly through the glass pane, bathing the room in a golden hue. Long beige drapes framed the window, bending the light around the old wooden-legged chair in a picturesque moment. His memories rushed back to him, remembering the day Twilight had started middle school. It suddenly dawned on him why Twilight Velvet had called both himself and his older sister to go into this room.
Just beyond the chair sat an old dark rosewood hallway table, pictures of memories past set in delicate golden frames decorating the top of the polished wood. From his spot next to his older sister, he could see one of the framed memories. It was of Twilight dressed in a long white dress, a bow as big as her smile rested delicately on her smaller chest as she beamed at the camera. Today Spike would be taking his own first day of middle school photo, just as Twilight had that day. The difference now was she was also taking another photo today for another big step in her own life.
Omigosh! I’ve spent all morning whining and complaining about how it’s my first day and I didn’t even think about how Twilight must feel! Today’s her—
Velvet walked in from the kitchen interrupting his thoughts and shaking the camera she had in her hand up in the air. “Oh Spike, I can’t believe it’s your turn already! First Shiny, then Twilight, and now we get your picture on your first day of middle school! Plus today is Twily’s first day of high school! Oh, my babies are growing up so fast! I wish I could go back to when you were all little, playing with your stuffed animals in the park.” The older woman sighed longingly, her hands clasping the camera to her chest as she closed her eyes in remembrance.
Spike’s thoughts continued to race as his mother prattled on.
She came into my room earlier with her uniform on. Twilight reminded me yesterday how excited she was for the party Pinkie Pie was throwing for all their friends to celebrate. She’s even coming home late today because of it. I’m such a horrible brother. I didn’t even acknowledge my B.S.B.F.F.’s feelings or ask her how she felt. Life is about to change for her too... again.
Twilight whispered to her little brother with a chuckle, “Are you ready? First day pictures! Can you believe how much time has gone by? This will be your very own first day of school Sparkle family picture. Aren’t you excited, Spikey?”
Spike felt like he was going to cry. “Twi, I....” The tears began to form in his eyes as he clenched his teeth.
Twilight sat gingerly in the chair, facing their mother, and brought her legs together, patting her lap for Spike to come sit down.
Spike stepped slowly toward her, his tiny hands coming up to his face to wipe his tears away. A second set of hands brushed his aside, the long fingers cupping his cheeks forcing him to look up as a warm kiss was pressed against his forehead.
They shared a smile for a moment before his older sister's hands dropped to grab him under his underarms. Lifting him up high, she turned him around and set him softly on her lap, her hands dropping around his stomach to hug him tightly to her chest.
Spike frowned. “So, do we just sit here then?”
Twilight reached up and pinched his cheeks, pulling the skin out to force a smile, “Yep, just gotta put on a smile!”
“Twiiiiiiiiiilight! I can do this!” Spike reached up to bat her hands away, a smile naturally forming on the boy's lips as his sister’s laugh echoed around the small room. The older girl’s hands dropped back around his stomach, her lips pressing a soft kiss onto the crown of his head before smiling up at her mother.
“Okay you two, big smiles!” Twilight Velvet simply radiated good feelings, her excitement for this day far outpacing Spike’s, or even Twilight’s for that matter.
I can’t believe this going to be my first Sparkle family school picture. But more importantly, I can’t believe Twilight is holding back her own nervicitment just because this IS my first.
Waiting on the two to smile, well, on Spike to smile, Velvet tapped her foot impatiently. “Tick tock, Spike. We have to leave for school soon!”
Spike hadn’t noticed his expression had fell, his scowl once again marring his face.
Twilight quickly reached her hands up to his sides and tickled the boy, stealing a grin and a laugh from him before quickly dropping them back down and smiling at the camera.
The camera flashed as Twilight Velvet took the picture, startling the green haired boy. “Got it!”
“Wait, what?” He blinked twice before looking back at Twilight. Velvet smiled and left to go show the picture to her husband and older son, leaving the two alone for the moment.
Twilight smiled sheepishly before scooting the boy off her lap and to the floor. “It’s okay to be nervous, Spike. Just know that your big sister will always be here for you.” She booped his nose with an index finger before leaving the room to go grab her backpack.
Spike waited for a moment, his eyes staring forward where his sister once stood. He bit his lip roughly, tears sliding down his cheeks. “Why?” He whispered, his tiny hands forming into shaking fists. “What about you. Who’s going to be there for you? Since I’m so... weak.”
The young boy’s hands clenched at his sides, his tears dripping off his chin and absorbing into the bright white bow of his uniform shirt.
Spike peered out the window for a moment, the fall morning sun reminding him of the day little Twilight Sparkle became his first real friend in the world.
“Hi, I’m Twilight Sparkle.”
Spike was staring up at the older girl. They had talked a little at lunch but he had never imagined she’d come hang out with him on the swings after school.
‘She did say she would see you later… I just thought she got weirded out and was making an excuse so she wouldn’t get in trouble.’
“I’m sorry if I was weird earlier. I… I can imagine what that would be like. Some random girl just walking up to me and talking to me, knowing my name without even introducing herself? I’d be a bit freaked out too. I-I was just nervous.”
Spike just stayed silent, his eyes curiously watching the girl. The more she talked the more comfortable she got with her words. By the end of their conversation that day he had gotten to know a little about Twilight and her prized possession: Smarty Pants. How Spike loved that stuff animal with its mismatched eyes and the smile it brought to young Twilight’s face as she talked about the doll.
Squeezing his eyes shut, a shiver rocked through the little boy, the past bringing pain to his small heart.
“Even back then, she put me above her own feelings. Twilight…” Spike whispered, his arms came up to wrap around himself.
Loud noises from the main hallway let Spike know his brother and sister were ready to head off to school, their conversation about Cadance echoing down to his ears. It brought a sad smile to his face, the tears had stopped, but the pain still resonated through his chest.
As he turned to leave the room to gather his own stuff a picture caught his eye.
Sitting amongst the other photos was a lavender and green hand-made frame with a picture of a young Twilight and Spike sitting on the swings at Celestia’s School for Gifted Children. Suspended between them by an extended blue-patched cotton-filled paws was Smarty Pants, both Twilight and Spike squeezing her tightly with bright smiles beaming.