• Published 31st Dec 2013
  • 4,523 Views, 40 Comments

Dilemma - Locomotion

After rediscovering an old gift from Spike, Rarity finds herself in a real pickle over her feelings for him. Can her friends, both from Ponyville and from further afield, help her come to terms with being in love with a dragon?

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Chapter 5: Rescue from Heartbreak

Author's Note:

Warning: this chapter contains suicide references.

Edit (09/11/19): Changed the receptionist's announcement, because I discovered that Hospital Emergency Code Red actually means Fire Alert, and the correct term for cardiac or respiratory arrest, or for medical emergency in general, is actually Code Blue.

It was only twenty minutes before the express began its long journey north, but Rarity was so anxious to get home that it seemed like ages. But at last, the train had left the outskirts of Canterlot and was now speeding through the open countryside on its way to Ponyville. As it pounded down the main line, Rarity decided that it would be a good opportunity to work out what she was going to say to Spike when she arrived home. But working out a mental “script” for her arrival back in Ponyville, although not half as difficult as her previous dilemma, turned out to be a bit of a challenge in itself.

“...let's try this again. Um...hullo there, Spike – lovely weather we're having here today......you missed me? Oh, Spikey-Wikey, I missed you too. You're such a sweet little dragon and – no, that's too mushy! I can't tell him that, or I'll have him off to the Dragon Kingdom again!!” she castigated herself. “Okay, this needs some serious work!”

But before she could start again, she was interrupted by a knock at her door. She opened it up to find an Earth pony stallion staring blankly into her compartment. “Can I help you, sir?”

“Um...sorry, madam,” apologised the other passenger, “I just heard your voice from behind the door and wondered if everything was okay.”

“Oh no, everything's fine,” replied Rarity with an awkward smile. “I was......just rehearsing for my latest fashion début next month, but I couldn't work out what to say.” It wasn't much of an excuse, but it was all that she could think of.

Luckily the passenger seemed convinced. “Okay, madam, that's fine,” he replied, and headed back to his own compartment. Breathing a sigh of relief, Rarity closed the door and began rehearsing once again.

“Right, here we go – good day to you, Spike, how are you feeling? ......Oh, I'm so sorry that I had to leave at such short notice, but I needed to get some dressmaking supplies from Canterlot......I know, and I missed you too...listen, Spike, there's something I need to tell you...”

But once again she was suddenly cut off, this time by a somewhat explosive roaring sound as a goods train swept past them, nearly causing Rarity to jump out of her skin.

“Come on now, Rarity,” she told herself again, “you've got to remain calm, or else you're going to mess it up really badly with Spike. Now where was I......oh, botheration! Now I've forgotten what I was going to say!” she growled with frustration.

But her annoyance quickly turned to concern when she heard the screeching sound of the brakes being applied. The pace of the countryside bypassing her window seemed to slacken and wane until it was going no faster than a butterfly, and then not even that. Then, with a light jolt, the screeching diminished completely as the express finally stopped.

Rarity pulled her window down to look along the train in both directions. She was confused to find that they had stopped in the middle of nowhere; there was no station platform, no junction, not even a signal to show where they were. She noticed the driver levitating a long wire up to the telegraph cables on the lineside while the firepony opened up a wooden box, but couldn't seem to work out what they were for. At that moment, she heard a knock at her compartment door, and opened it to find one of the train attendants standing outside.

“Terribly sorry, lady, but our locomotive has burst a steam-chest,” he reported. “We're sending for a pilot engine to rescue the train, but it may be some time yet.”

Though she only just managed not to show it, Rarity was most dismayed at having to wait for longer before arriving back in Ponyville. Already she was getting quite worked up about how to tell Spike of her feelings for him, but to have to wait longer before telling him – she just couldn't bear the suspense.

“Okay, well, thank you for the update,” she replied. The attendant nodded, and made his way down the corridor, closing the door behind him. Only then did Rarity let her feelings out; “Oh, disaster!” she wailed. “Just when I've come to a decision regarding Spike, fate has to throw more obstacles in the way by making my train break down! Of all the worst things that could happen, this is THE – WORST – POSSIBLE – THING!”

But then another thought occurred to her that made her forget her hysteria. “Or is it? Yes, my train may be more than a little late getting me home, but that does buy me a bit more time to work out what I'm going to say to Spike,” she thought aloud. “But later, maybe; I need to soothe my nerves with a nice dry Martini.”

As she left her compartment and headed for the bar coach, she happened to glance out of the corridor-side window, from which she could just make out Ponyville in the distance. Looking upon its rough location, she couldn't help but wonder if Spike was alright.

But what Rarity couldn't know was that Spike was anything but alright. The following morning, after his lack of success with Apple Bloom, he decided to try Scootaloo instead – but while he took the same gentle, almost stealthy approach that seemed to have worked quite well before, it didn't work quite so well on the orange Pegasus filly. If anything, however, Spike's major downfall came in the form of a rather cheeky little unicorn filly they passed on their way to Sugarcube Corner.

“Look, Mommy!” squeaked the filly, pointing a hoof towards them. “It's a dragon on a date with a pony!”

“Put your hoof down, dear,” chided her mother, “it's rude to point.”

Scootaloo overheard the other filly and shot a death-glare at Spike. “So,” she hissed, “the whole reason you asked me over to lunch at Sugarcube Corner was so we could go on a date, huh?”

Spike backed away nervously, trying to think of a response. “I-I-It's not what it looks like, Scoot...” he stammered.

“Spike, have you even met me?!” demanded Scootaloo, raising her voice in anger. “Going on a date is the mushiest thing anyone can expect of me! I don't – do – mushy!”

“But Scoot...”

“BUT NOTHING!!” shouted Scootaloo. “You're not doing my reputation any justice by making me look sappy, Spike, so I'd greatly appreciate it if you could just forget your lousy date and GO AWAY!!!”

This stung the little dragon quite hard. “I – I didn't mean to ruin anyone's reputation,” he faltered, trying to hold back tears. “It's just that Rarity won't talk to me, and...”

“Oh, so you're getting on Rarity's nerves too, huh?!” spat Scootaloo rudely. “Well, I'm not surprised; you're so annoying with all your sappy romance antics that it's a mercy the whole of Ponyville hasn't been infected! Just get out of my sight, you irritating lizard!” and she slapped him hard across the face before storming off in a huff.

Spike stood firmly rooted in place, watching in distress as Scootaloo ran further and further away from him. Her words had cut him to the core, and the sound of his heart breaking was almost audible as he raised a claw to his throbbing cheek where the disgruntled Pegasus filly had slapped him. Maybe Scootaloo was right; maybe he was nothing more than an irritating lizard. Maybe...maybe the whole of Ponyville would be far better without him. Even Rarity seemed to think so – why else would she be avoiding him so much? His eyes brimmed with tears as he ran off in the opposite direction.

The pilot engine having arrived to rescue the train at long last, the Crystallion Limited finally pulled into Ponyville Central Station, late but safe. Rarity wasted no time in unloading her luggage from the van, and as soon as she had finished, she carefully carried the whole lot across town to the Carousel Boutique. As she went, she beamed with anticipation; after many more hiccups along the way from Canterlot, she had managed to work out what she was going to tell Spike, and couldn't wait to see him.

Normally the pure-white unicorn would have spent a good few hours carefully unpacking her belongings and stowing them away, but today was different; she was so anxious to let Spike know what she felt about him that unpacking was the last thing on her mind. She placed the dressmaking supplies in the storeroom, carefully stacked the rest of her luggage in the lobby and cantered over to the Golden Oak Library.

Twilight had been busy reorganising the library that morning. One of the resident Pegasi had taken an interest in starting a flying chariot service, but had left the Transport section in complete disarray in her excitement over the whole venture, and Twilight had to spend the best part of an hour carefully alphabetising the books in the correct order. But that wasn't what seemed to be bothering her right now; Spike had been unusually downcast over the last week or so, and when she came to wake him up for his morning's work, she had found his bed completely devoid of any dragon. Just as she placed the last book onto the shelf, she heard a knock at the library door.

Rarity stood outside, breathing heavily to try and calm herself down before Spike opened the door. She didn't want him to see her all tense and uneasy. Much to her surprise, when the door opened, Spike was nowhere to be seen.

“Oh, Twilight, it's you,” she exclaimed.

“Hey, Rarity,” replied Twilight. “How was your shopping trip in Canterlot?”

“Um...very well, thanks.” Rarity stood and fidgeted uncomfortably as she tried to steel herself once again. “I, um......I was actually wondering if I could have a talk with Spike. Is he in?”

“Actually, I haven't seen very much of him all week,” answered Twilight, visibly perplexed. “I think he left early this morning, but there wasn't even a note to say where he had gone. Why did you want to know anyway?”

“Oh...private matter,” said Rarity quickly. “Thanks anyway, Twilight; let me know if he comes back.”

After checking the library, Rarity cantered around Ponyville checking the various shops and other areas where Spike may have gone. Sugarcube Corner, Bonbon's sweet shop, the marketplace, the school – everywhere she looked, there was no sign of him, and even when she asked around, everypony seemed to have the same answer; “Sorry, Rarity, haven't seen him all day.”

By the time she reached the bowling alley on the far side of town, the white unicorn mare was almost ready to give up. Luckily, Sweetie-Belle was just outside; but she too was looking rather worried.

“Hi, Rarity,” she called.

“Hullo, Sweetie-Belle,” smiled Rarity. “How was your weekend at Fort Maine?”

“It was okay, I guess,” replied Sweetie-Belle anxiously, “but I'm a little worried about Spike. He'd been asking me if I wanted a date with him the same day you left for Canterlot, and Apple Bloom and Scootaloo say he had been asking the same of them too.”

Rarity was almost speechless. Spike had always been so kind and helpful to her, and now he was trying to date one or other of Sweetie-Belle and her friends? “But why?” she asked in disbelief.

“He seemed to think you didn't like him anymore, and said he wanted to try and move on from you so you wouldn't have to put up with him.”

“But that's what I'm trying to talk to him about!” objected Rarity. “I finally managed to come to terms with my feelings while in Canterlot, and I want to tell him that I feel the same about him as he does me – or did, anyway,” she added meekly.

What Sweetie-Belle was about to say next, Rarity couldn't yet tell, but she seemed extremely uneasy about it. “Well, we've all had to let him down gently because we all have our own crushes,” she said nervously, “but from what Scootaloo had been saying, she didn't even try being gentle with him. She seemed all edgy and irritated when she told us all about it, so I'm pretty sure she might have yelled at him.”

“I see,” answered Rarity grimly. “Well that ungrateful filly had better watch out, because as soon as I see her next, I'll be having severe words with her!”

“Actually, sis, I'd probably wanna think about what Spike may be doing at the moment.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, last any of us saw of him was when Dinky saw him taking a walk along the path that leads to the Ponyville Dam,” explained Sweetie-Belle, her voice starting to sound more urgent. “I dunno what he's doing up there, but he...could be......”

Rarity didn't need to hear any more. Before Sweetie-Belle could finish her sentence, she took off for the dam as fast as her legs could carry her...

Spike wandered aimlessly along the top of the cliffs near the dam, tears still flowing from his eyes like the river-water through the sluices at the bottom of the huge wall that held it all back. He could still feel the stabbing pain of heartbreak in his chest from when Scootaloo had angrily chewed him out over that date to which she hadn't consented, and the thought that Rarity didn't feel the same way for him as he always had for her made it so much more unbearable.

“I'm really sorry to have to leave you all like this,” he wept, “and especially you, Twilight; you've been a far more valuable friend than anyone can ever know, and I've been really honoured to be your faithful assistant. But I just can't carry on. I have to end this right here, right now,” and he slowly diverted his course closer to the precipice.

At that very same moment, Rarity had come to the shore of the river at the foot of the dam, but couldn't seem to find Spike anywhere. Just as she was about to call out for him, she saw the little dragon walking along the very edge of the cliff.

“SPIKE, NO!” screamed Rarity frantically; but she was too late. One moment, Spike was still standing at the top of the cliff, the next, he toppled over and plunged towards the rushing water. The white unicorn aimed her horn at him and concentrated hard on her magic, trying to levitate him to safety. But by the time she had built up enough energy, Spike had disappeared into the river with a loud splash.

Without thinking another second, Rarity darted towards the river and dived in after him.

“Hang on, Spikey-Wikey!” she called bravely. “I'm coming!”

The strong currents were sweeping Spike downstream at an alarming rate, but Rarity was a surprisingly good swimmer, and soon caught up with him. Draping him over her shoulder and clinging onto him for dear life, she turned and swam towards the riverbank; but as she did so, she suddenly realised that there weren't going to be many hoof-holds in the cliff that she could use to climb out. This also meant that she wouldn't be able to place Spike on firm ground even if she used her magic. All it needed was one small error of judgement, and he would be back in the river again – and this time, there would be no saving him. She clung desperately to a rock by the bank, hoping that somepony or something would come to her and Spike's rescue.

Up above, Fluttershy was helping a group of sparrows find a home when she heard a voice from down in the ravine. Wondering what might be wrong, she strained her ears to try and identify who it was.

“Help! HELP!” wailed the voice again.

Fluttershy went pale. “That's Rarity!” she cried, and dived towards the rushing waters to find her unicorn friend still hanging onto her rock, but only just. “Rarity, what happened?!”

“Spike and I can't escape the current!” called Rarity. “Get us out, Fluttershy, quick!!!”

Carefully, slowly, so as not to get caught in the strong flow of the river herself, Fluttershy descended towards both dragon and unicorn and wrapped her arms tightly round Rarity's waist. Then, with all the wingpower she could muster, the canary-yellow Pegasus lifted them out of the water and lowered them gently onto firm, dry ground. The moment she had released Rarity from her grip, the white unicorn pumped her front hooves feverishly against Spike's chest, trying to bring him round.

“Spike, wake up!” she pleaded. “Please, don't leave me now!”

Fluttershy placed a hoof against the little dragon's wrist to check his pulse, and was alarmed when she could hardly detect one at all. “Oh my, that looks critical!” she gasped. “We've got to get him to hospital, Rarity, or he could die!”

That was more than what Rarity wanted to hear. Levitating him onto her back, she raced away towards the hospital faster than she had ever gone in her life. Such was her speed and the effort she was putting into her desperate dash to save her little dragon's life that her limbs felt like they were about to drop off, and her lungs felt like they would burst if she didn't stop for breath. But she didn't dare stop for one second; the thought of losing her Spikey-Wikey forever was far too much for her to bear.

Even when she saw the hospital up ahead, she didn't even slow herself down. Close to her target at long last, the white unicorn mare let out one last burst of energy and charged through the doors, almost smashing them to matchwood. The receptionist looked up, startled, as she finally came to rest against the front desk. “What's all this?” she exclaimed.

“Emergency...Spike...drowning...please...help him...” panted Rarity breathlessly.

The receptionist took one look at Spike and immediately turned to the intercom; “Staff announcement, we have a Code Blue at the front desk! Prepare the recovery unit, stat!”

Not long after, three doctors rushed into the waiting area pulling a stretcher behind them. Leaning heavily against the desk, the exhausted unicorn watched as they laid Spike down on the stretcher and whisked him away to the recovery unit.

“Spike...” she moaned weakly, “...please...hang on...don't...don't die...on me...now...”

She could just make out the image of a fourth doctor standing next to her, but the image was very blurry, and she couldn't make out what he was saying. Her head was spinning as fast as if she had been in a tumble-dryer, and she was shivering deliriously, as if somepony had just thrown her into a tub of ice-cold water. Her vision gradually blurred even further until it became a grey haze, then a thick fog, and finally just a complete blank as she plunged into oblivion......