• Published 2nd Mar 2015
  • 2,577 Views, 62 Comments

Lightning Struck Home - MyHobby



Winter falls on Ponyville, leaving Spike to cope with a recent tragedy alone. While nightmares darken his sleep, Apple Bloom offers a bit of light. Will he step into that light, or allow fear to devour him?

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When That Cold Air Blows

The wind bit deep into Spike’s face. His claws dug at the ice as he slid back, blown about by the howling gale. He belched a gout of flame, but it was swallowed by the cold. He blinked tears from his eyes, but they froze on the spot. He could do no more than hold on and cry out.

“Twilight! Help!”

He was in the top of the tallest tower of the Crystal Empire’s palace. It glinted blue all around him in the blinding white light of the ice storm. The smooth crystal offered him no purchase as the ice coated it in a thin, deadly film. Behind him there was nothing but open air and a plummet to certain death.

“Spike!”

In the middle of the room, amid the swirl of snow, was a purple splash of color. A light burst through the white in a display of stunning power. Spike’s eyes met Twilight’s, and he couldn’t hold back the smile.

“Don’t worry, Spike,” Twilight said. She stood strong as he felt her magic grip his small, baby-dragon body. “I’ve got you. I’m right here.”

He moved forward as a painstaking pace, guided by her gentle, warm magic charge. He reached his claws out to touch the tip of her hoof.

The crystal beneath Twilight’s hooves turned dark and ugly. Shard shot up from the ground in a circle around her, trapping her in a cage of pure malice. She shrieked as one sharp edge sliced into her foreleg. Her concentration faltered.

Spike clawed at the slick floor in a desperate attempt to halt his fall. When his hands finally found purchase, he hung by his fingertips from the edge of the precipice. He screamed at Twilight, and she screamed back.

Spike looked down. The tower lay below him in its full, glistening glory. The snow spiraled as it fell down and was sucked beneath the castle. White became black as the roar of the wind took on a life of its own. Greedy green eyes formed out of the storm.

She can’t help you.

“Twilight!” Spike said. “Twilight, you gotta help me!”

She is trapped, Spike,” the storm spat. “You cannot hold on by yourself. You are separated forever.

“No!” Spike screamed into the wind, and almost overpowered it. “No! She’s my friend! We’ll always be together!”

One of Spike’s hands slipped. Bits of ice and crystal tumbled into the vortex. Twilight beat her prison with futile kicks.

You’re mine,” the storm said. “Mine.

A great gaping mouth, filled with rows of teeth, opened up at the base of the castle. The gale blew downwards, pulling him into the maw. The storm’s booming laugh struck Spike’s heart and dislodged the last of his claws.

You fear,” the storm said, “so you are mine!

Spike fell into fear’s open jaws.

***

“No!”

Spike tore his pillow clean in half as he sat up in his nest. Feathers fluttered around him as he heaved in mighty breaths. He looked down at the shredded halves clutched tight in his claws.

He lay back down and curled himself up over his comforters. The darkness in the library’s upper room felt solid, as if it physically pressed against his body. Cold seeped in from the cracks in the windows, cold that drifted along the floor until it slid past his belly scales and touched his hide.

The tangible darkness caused his spines to prickle, as if he could feel ghosts of the past wandering through the night and into his bedroom. He shut his eyes tight and drew a quilt across his back. He knew it was silly, but he couldn’t help lying motionless, afraid of the attention he might draw from anything lurking in the shadows.

After some time, he ignored the world around him and focused within. A moment of soul-searching led to his core: The fire that burned in his heart. He focused on that warmth, willing it to seep through his chest and into every limb. Twin trails of smoke escaped his nostrils. He sighed and blew the smoke across the room.

Spike dared to reach his arm out from under the covers. His hand found the small cabinet he kept beside his nest. He slid his claws up the side until he reached the top, where a candle waited. A gentle breath later, the room filled with a warm glow.

No ghosts hid in the shadows. No monsters waited in the cracks. No storms howled outside the window. He shuddered as he set the candle down on the cabinet and lay back beneath the covers. Since his pillow was in pieces all around him, he bunched up the comforters beneath his head and nestled his chin atop them.

His bedroom was large. There was room enough for two princess-sized beds, and his nest was just bigger than one of those. His private collection of books leaned against the far wall. The closet with his winter gear was sunk into the wood to his left. One door led to a full bathroom, while the other led downstairs to the library lobby.

The library was so empty when Twilight wasn’t there.

He wrapped himself tighter in his blanket as the cold slid an icy touch along his belly. He looked at the clock on the wall as it chimed three-o’-clock. He buried his head in his hands and groaned.

He skittered across the floor on all fours, grabbed a book from his shelf, and skittered back to the nest before the warmth left his covers. He plopped the book before him and turned the cover over.

Fire in the Mountain,” he read, “by Twilight Sparkle.”

He smiled as he dug into the book, a familiar tale about a pony who delved into a volcano to save their friend from a fearsome fate. The monster that had kidnapped the friend was so touched by the pony’s dedication that he allowed them to go free.

Spike chuckled. Twilight had a thing for happy endings.

By the time he finished the book, the sun was already peering over the horizon. It reflected off the tall, intricate, crystal palace that had sprouted out of the ground nine years before. Twilight’s Palace. Her home and, for a few years, his.

He shuffled the covers off of his shoulders, skittered to the closet, and slid on a purple sweater. His warm breath turned to fog as he walked down the stairs, fog that mixed with the smoke still trailing out of his nose. He spent the next couple hours tidying up the library, making sure it was up to Twilight Sparkle’s standard for spotlessness.

“Hoo.”

Spike raised an eyebrow. He turned to the old, graying owl sitting on its perch near the library’s entrance. “Well if it isn’t Owloysius, Harbinger of Doom.”

“Hoo,” Owloysius said.

“Yeah, that was me thumping around upstairs.” Spike yawned into his claw. “Didn’t keep you up, did I?”

Owloysius tilted his wizened head.

Spike smirked. “Right. Night owl.”

“Hoo?”

“Sure, I coulda just come down and helped you, but that’s my time off, you know?”

“Hoo!”

“Uh uh. You don’t get the right to call me a lazy bum, featherbutt.” Spike went into the kitchen to whip up a meal for the owl. He set the prepared dish before Owloysius with feigned solemnity. “Your mouse-gut soufflé, Your Owliness.”

Owloysius gave him a dismissive hoot before digging into the food.

When time came to open up the library, Spike pulled the curtains aside to reveal a world of winter.

White snow hung from every bough. Colts and fillies played in the drifts, throwing snowballs and building snowponies. He saw the Cake twins, Pound and Pumpkin, hustling for the pond, which had been frozen solid in the deep, chilly night.

Huge banks lined the streets, shoved aside by strong earth pony stallions. And one particularly-strong earth pony mare, Spike noted as Apple Bloom hauled a cart down the street. She had managed to get that Apple Family gene that caused a pony to sprout up like an apple tree, and came up to just under Big Mac’s chin.

Spike told himself that he was only a little bit shorter than her. Only a little bit.

He opened the window and stuck his head through. “Hay, Apple Bloom! You covered my sidewalk again!

“Go back to bed, Spike!” she called out with a cheeky grin. She pushed the tip of her trapper hat away from her eyes. “It ain’t good for a lizard tah be out in this cold!”

Spike laughed. “I can handle it! See you this afternoon, right?”

“A’yup.” Apple Bloom patted her cart. “Ah’ll come by with your stuff. It’s apple pies for Ponyville, tonight!”

There was an understanding among Ponyville’s residents that in the deep of winter, certain desirable ingredients grew scarce. Fresh fruits and vegetables gave way to cooked rice and dried plums. Even the staunchest stockpiler had difficulties after the standard three months of winter. So it was with a great amount of joy that ponies shared in the bounty provided by the Apple Family’s skill with canning. Every week or so, one of the family members would cart around a few cans of apples, or pre-made pies, or a big cobbler, to lighten the mood.

It didn’t hurt the public’s opinion of Applejack’s status as mayor, that’s for sure.

Before Spike could return to the warmth of the library, a snowball flew out of nowhere and pelted him upside the head. He flicked a bit of snow off the tip of his nose. “Ah. Surely you realize this means war?”

Rumble flew overhead, bouncing another snowball in his hoof. He lifted one side of his earmuffs. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t hear you over the sound of your unconditional surrender.”

Rumble nearly tumbled out of the sky when a snowball smacked him square in the chest. Spike slammed the window shut and sprinted through the library, grabbing his overcoat on the way. Bursting out the door, he scooped up snow as he ran, building a foal-sized boulder in his claws.

Rumble looked from his snowball to Spike’s behemoth. His pupils shrunk. “Parley?”

The next strike did take the muscular stallion out of the sky. He left a pegasus-shaped impression in a snow drift. His snowball shot up from the force of the blow, and then came down in the center of the outline.

Spike trundled through the deep snow and stood beside the hole. “Alas, poor Rumble, laid low in the prime of his life. How ironic for the brave knight to be felled by a fierce dragon! No longer to ferry clouds across the sky with fearsome blows. No longer to douse roaring flames with mighty splashes. No longer to work odd jobs for the gentle villagers. No longer to woo his fair maiden!”

Rumble’s head popped out, a little pile of snow sitting between his ears. “Okay, I was fine with everything you said except for that last one.”

Spike reached down and pulled him out by his foreleg. “So what are you up to today?”

“It’s my weather patrol team’s free day.” Rumble brushed himself off, making sure to flick more than a few flakes at Spike. “Unless Cloudkicker calls in backup, I’m just gonna hang out. You?”

A chill ran through Spike’s body. He zipped his coat up to his neck. “I’m keeping the library open until three. After that, my calendar is clear as crystal.”

“Awesome. That means you can join us.” Rumble draped a foreleg around Spike’s shoulders. The dragon trudged through the snow on his hind legs. “Turns out that new coffee shop that moved into town—the Keen Bean?—is a really hopping place. They’ve got drink mixes the likes of which I cannot even pronounce. Caramelberry mochafrappeccino territory, here. They got music and a dance floor and everything.”

Spike gave him a dry chuckle when they reached the door to the library. “Sounds like your kinda place alright.”

“What can I say, I like the atmosphere.” Rumble prodded Spike’s poofy overcoat. “But here’s where things get interesting for you. Scootaloo and I are tracking down all our buddies to see if they’ll stop by. We rarely get together anymore, you know? It’ll be nice.”

Spike shrugged and pulled the door open.

“You need to get out sometime,” Rumble said. “It’s been almost five months since, um…”

Spike’s ear frills drooped. “I know.”

Rumble scuffed a hoof on the ground as Spike entered the library. “Don’t be afraid to open up every once in a while, dude.”

Spike stopped with his claw on the doorframe. He gave Rumble a small smile. “See you tonight. Around five, you think?”

“Yeah, we all ought to be there by then.” Rumble took flight with a small hop and a quick flap. “Bring your dancing shoes!”

“I don’t normally wear shoes!” Spike said as his friend retreated across Ponyville. “Dancing or otherwise.”

***

Spike tweaked his bowtie before a mirror. He angled it to the left, then to the right, and then back to the left. He had done so for the past fifteen minutes with little improvement from either side.

“Hoo?”

“How am I supposed to know if it’s too formal?” Spike shot Owloysius a low-browed glare. “I’ve never been to this place before. Maybe I just wanna make sure I look nice.”

“Hoo.”

“You’re no help.” Spike’s teeth chattered. He moved exactly one step closer to the fireplace. “It’s this or Rumble starts up some sort of intervention. I don’t need an intervention. I’m fine.”

“Hoo.”

“’Fraidy cat? Excuse me?” Spike struck a thumb to his chest. “Which of us is the world-renowned hero? Yeah, that’s right. The guy with thumbs. Two of ’em.”

“Hoo! Hoot!”

“No, I didn’t…” Spike groaned. “I’m sorry I offended your lack of digits. Yes, you are the only one here with wings. Yes, that’s, in your words, ‘Totally wicked.’”

Spike flicked Owloysius on the beak. “But you’re still a jerk.”

Owloysius shrugged. “Hoo.”

Spike closed the curtain. The day had grown dark far earlier than the usual sundown. Dark clouds gathered overhead, promising a snowstorm.

“Funny. Nothing’s on the schedule for today.” Spike shrugged. “Must be Cloudkicker getting stuff ready so she doesn’t have to work tomorrow.”

“Hoo.”

Spike’s mouth cracked open, showcasing his pointed, gem-crushing teeth. “But if you ever told her she’s lazier than Dash, she’ll prove her name by kicking you all the way to Cloudsdale.”

“Hoo…”

“Nope. I wouldn’t take my chances.” Spike shrugged on his heavy, down-filled coat. “Make sure the fire stays nice and warm, okay? You know where the fire bell is if it gets out of hand.”

“Hoo!”

“I know you know I know.” Spike waved a claw as he walked out the door on all fours. “Later.”

The ice and snow were cold against the soles of his feet and the palms of his hands. He stopped every few meters to rub life back into his limbs. “Maybe I should look into shoes. Just maybe. Galoshes, perhaps.”

The light of the sun as it passed between clouds was a relief, at least. The tips of his scales tingled as he stepped out from the shadows. All around there were sounds of foals playing or their parents calling them inside for a warm blanket and a mug of cocoa. A few Hay, Spikes were thrown his way, and he returned the greetings in turn.

He reached the market to find it emptying out. It was a little early in the day for that, but he supposed he couldn’t begrudge the salesponies wish to get out of the cold. Spent heat-pads were tossed into trashcans as carts were rolled away. Hats and saddles and boots and scarves were secured to anywhere there was a spare patch of hair.

Spike questioned the brilliance of sitting out in the cold for hours on end, but a living was a living.

On the outskirts of the market square lay the permanent shops. They were the ones with internal heating, and thus a bit more pleasant to visit in the cold winter months. On their outskirts, snug between the spa and the barber shop, was a brown building with green trim. The sign above the door was a steaming coffee mug with the words “Keen Bean” scrawled beneath it.

Spike pushed open the door, and was blasted with smells and sounds. Roasting beans, blaring music, flowing caramel, thumping bass, dripping chocolate, scattered singing. He stood at the entrance for a moment, unsure of what to do. He was rescued from his shock by a whap on the back from Rumble’s strong hoof. “It’s about time you made it! I was almost ready to come over and carry you here!”

Spike let the door fall shut behind him. Colored lights flashed overhead, stealing his attention. “You said this was a coffee shop! It’s a stinking club!

“Clubs, shops, they can both be used as a blunt bludgeoning object.” Rumble scratched his blown-over mane. “That sounded funnier in my head. Come on, we got a table by the bar. You can say hi and grab a mug or five.”

Spike cocked an eyebrow. “How many have you had tonight?”

“Dunno, don’t care.” Rumble hovered in midair as he led Spike between ponies and around tables. “I’m planning on burning all my nervous energy on the dance floor with Scoots. Look, if I go into cardiac arrest from caffeine overdose, don’t try to revive me.”

“Wait,” Spike said. “What?

“No, I just mean you personally. Get somepony else to revive me, sure.” Rumble’s mouth twisted into a funny shape. “I’ve seen you do CPR. Remember the dummy you punched a hole in? Don’t want that to happen to me.”

Spike crossed his arms. “I think somepony should have cut you off about four cups ago.”

“Make it six to be safe.” Rumble pointed, a grin spreading across his face. “And here in Beanland, for the first time in a long time, the gang!”

Dinky stood up from her seat beside Pipsqueak and waved her forelegs. “There’s our favorite dragon! Hop on over!”

Button Mash chuckled to himself. “Aha! The mighty dragon emerges from his cave!”

Spike lowered an eyebrow at the scruffy colt. “Somebody already made that joke, dude.”

“Nuts.”

“It was me.”

“Now you’re just being rude.”

Apple Bloom waved with one hoof while she gripped the chair beside her with the other. “We saved yah a seat!”

Achoo!” Scootaloo shouted. She buried her nose in a handkerchief. “Wad ub, Spig?”

“I think I’m a heck of a lot better than you sound.” Spike smiled at Apple Bloom as he slid into his chair. He leaned his arm on the table and turned to Scootaloo. “Cold hitting you hard?”

“Hids hard ebery year,” she groaned. She shot Rumble a glare. “I wouldn’d eben be here if somebony waden’t threadenig abduction.”

Button snickered into his drink. “Somepony’s looking to commit a felony, I guess.”

“The stallion does have the one point,” Pipsqueak piped up. “It had been quite some time since we’ve hung out together. Let alone individually.” He bowed his head to Dinky. “Present company excepted, of course.”

Dinky wrinkled her nose. “You barely said hi to me on Hearts and Hooves day.”

“I couldn’t!” Pipsqueak tapped the table to accentuate his point. “Because I was busy preparing for our date that evening.

“That was Hearts and Hooves Night.” Dinky turned away. “A completely separate thing from Hearts and Hooves Day.

“See this? This is why we aren’t married yet.” Pipsqueak waved a hoof around the table. “We need this courtship period to figure out basic definitions of words and phrases.”

The smile on Spike’s face brightened little by little. He glanced around the table for the friends that weren’t there. “Not everypony could come, huh?”

“Twist woulda, but she’s gotta help her cousin Bonnie close up the Bon Bon.” Apple Bloom’s eyes turned upward in thought. “Snips hates the cold, so he’s probably burrowed under his covers right about now. Who even knows where Snails hangs out nowadays? Sweetie and Featherweight are here already.”

Spike furrowed his brow. “I didn’t see them when I walked in.”

“They’re somewhere. Said they had a surprise for us.” She nudged his shoulder. “Grab yourself a coffee and stay awhile. We ain’t goin’ nowhere no time soon!”

Spike saluted. “Yes, ma’am!”

It was the work of a moment to stand up and reach the coffee bar. Rumble was right about the menu choices. There were probably enough flavors and combinations to sate an army, and give each member their own, unique mug. He selected an iced tea with a fruity aroma and gave the order to the barista, a brown mare who vibrated like a nervous Chihuahua. Doreen Bean, her nametag said.

Spike was about to return to the table, cup in hand, when the music died down. Spotlights swiveled around to focus on the dance floor. Doreen Bean stood off to the side, a microphone in her hoof.

Spike shot the bar a double-take. He could have sworn he’d just taken his drink from her. How could she have—?

“Welcome to the Keen Bean we hope you enjoy your time here I think you’ll enjoy the special treat we have tonight please turn your attention to the dance floor!” she said in a rush. Her tail all but spun like a propeller behind her.

“Must be related to Pinkie Pie,” Spike muttered.

Four ponies wearing stylish green suits walked onto the floor, microphones attached behind their ears. Fluttershy stood at the front, a small smile on her face. “Ladies and gentlecolts, thank you for inviting the Ponytones to perform tonight. Even though the winter months can be cold, we hope we’ll give you reason to feel a little warmth in your heart.”

Behind her, Sweetie Belle and Featherweight double-checked their mics. The fourth pony—Toe Song, or Torch Tapper, or something, Spike thought—already had their head bobbing to an unheard beat.

Featherweight opened his mouth, and Spike almost dropped his drink as a deep baritone burst forth.

“Bum, bum, bum da-ah bum-bum…”

Fluttershy’s and Toe/Torch’s voices blended together as Sweetie’s took the lead.

“There’s a truth within you
And it’s waiting to show
There’s a path you must take
It’ll point the way to go

“The left or right
The day or night
There comes a choice to make
With all you might
Fight the good fight
Listen up, for heaven’s sake”

The dance that had been interrupted by their arrival started again in earnest at the bouncing beat. As Spike sat down, Scootaloo jumped up. She grabbed Rumble’s wing and dragged him along behind her. “Come on! If I godda be here, at leazd I ged to hab a liddle fun!”

Pipsqueak laughed at the bug-eyed look on Rumble’s surprised face. “He’ll be lucky if he doesn’t catch her cold, he’ll be.” He took Dinky’s hoof in his. “Come on, Love. Are we going to let them hog the dance floor?”

“Indeed not!” They skipped away, side by side.

“The truth will set you free
The truth living in your heart
That’s the way to be
Listen up, ‘cuz that’s the start”

Spike tapped his claws along with the rhythm. He spoke to Apple Bloom, raising his voice to be heard over the music. “Aren’t you gonna join them?”

“We proved kinda conclusively that ah cannot dance a step,” she said. She tilted her head down, a rosy tinge to her cheeks. “Ah’m liable to kick somepony sooner than later. And, well…” She gestured to her body, which was easily twice the size of anypony else there. “They’d have tah make room.”

“So they’d make room.” Spike jerked a thumb at the general melee. “You don’t even need to know a dance. Just go down there, open up a spot, and get started with those carrote moves of yours.”

“That’s why ah’m liable tah kick somepony in the face!” she laughed. She tugged on the edge of her pink bow. “What about you, smarmy? You gonna dance or what?”

“Well…” Spike ran a clawtip between his neck and the bowtie. “I do know this one dance. I learned it from the leprechauns in Lightninggale. Kinda silly…”

“Ah’ll make you a deal, then.” Apple Bloom smirked and hunched her shoulders. She held a hoof to the side of her mouth. “You go out an’ do your dance, and ah’ll do mine. We’ll be embarrassed t’gether and such.”

Spike slid his chair out. “Deal. You coming, Button? Button?”

Button Mash sat quietly to the side, his chin rested in his hooves. He had his eyes closed. His ears twitched as he listened to the song.

“Ah think maybe Button’s got other things on his mind.” Apple Bloom looked from the entranced stallion to the mare singing lead in the Ponytones. “Y’ think they’ll ever actually talk?”

“I heard that,” Button said with no change in his expression.

The song ended. Applause rolled around the club, coupled with cheers and whistles. Dozens of eager feet awaited the next piece. They were soon joined by an extra set of hooves, accompanied by four claws.

Fluttershy started the next song. It was quicker than the last, with each Ponytone taking a verse while Fluttershy belted out the chorus. Hooves snapped against the floor and wings beat overhead. Ponies made sure to give Apple Bloom a wide berth as she kicked and swung. Even so, she was nearly breathless with excitement.

Spike stood on his hind legs. He kept his hands on his shoulders and his back straight. He hopped a little bit, trying to find the rhythm of the song. He bounced from foot to foot, clicking his nails against the floor.

Apple Bloom kicked a back leg out after making sure there was ample room. “Whadda yah call that? ‘Cat on hot tin roof?’”

“It’s called… or it’s trying to be”—Spike sucked in a deep breath—“a leprechaun jig… It’s been… a while…”

Apple Bloom fell into a sturdy stance. “Wanna show me how it works?”

“It’s harder,” Spike wheezed, “when you have four legs. Geeze, I’m not as light as I used to be.”

“Heh, the weight’s all muscle, though.” Apple Bloom reached over and touched his upper arm. Her back stiffened and she jerked her hoof away. “Y’know. Just as an observation.”

Spike bit his lip. “Ahuh. So, what you gotta do is kinda cross your legs, like so.”

Apple Bloom mirrored his movements with her front legs. “Like this?”

“Yeah, but you do it with your back legs, too.” Spike scratched his chin. “I think. Then you sorta hop to the other foot.”

“What, with all four legs?” Apple Bloom tilted her head. “Ah’m gonna end up fallin’ on my flank!”

“Leprechauns only have two legs. Maybe it’s easier on their center of balance.” Spike kicked his leg out and slid it behind his grounded foot. “And, uh, something like that, maybe.”

Apple Bloom grimaced. “Now ah am gonna kick somepony.”

Spike clicked his heels. He grinned with two rows of pointy teeth. “Not even gonna try?”

“Hmph!” Apple Bloom tossed her mane. “You’re on!”

He performed the dance slowly as the Ponytones entered the final chorus. Apple Bloom followed as best she could. When he sped up, she hurried to match. Before long they were dancing at nearly the same speed. They were off a beat, and moving slowly enough to embarrass any leprechaun, but they were laughing all the same.

The door slammed open with a prolonged shout of “Everypony!” just as Fluttershy reached her high note. She screeched in surprise and ducked down underneath Sweetie Belle. Featherweight choked on his own spit and spent a few minutes coughing. Cold air billowed into the club, carrying with it silvery flakes of snow. Ponies rushed to pull on their coats or tighten their scarves.

Doreen Bean stomped up to the door. “You gotta come in or out, sister, I don’t pay to heat the outdoors you could do with some manners judging by the way you just interrupted a show and—”

The newcomer, a lavender pegasus mare with a blonde mane, shoved her hoof in Doreen’s mouth. “Can et, ye ijit! I’m tryin’a save yer clientele from certain doom!”

“Um,” Doreen said, at a loss for words, “what?”

“Thar’s a monster o’ a storm abrewin’ o’er the Everfree!” the mare said. “Et’s a fair heap more than th’ weather team’s capable o’ handlin’!”

Rumble still had Scootaloo in the middle of a deep dip. He looked up from her eyes for the first time since the dance began. “Wait, Cloudkicker?”

The weather pegasus slapped her forehead. “O’ course me barmy brother-in-law would be oot dancin’ on a night as bleak as all this! Ye got Thunderlane worried sicker ’n a tatzelwurm wit’ indigestion!”

“Um…” Rumble picked Scootaloo up and let her hover beside him. “Nice to see you, too?”

“E’erypony, ye gorra head home now if ye wish to see et at all!” Cloudkicker marched around the perimeter of the dance floor, her face stern and her ears laid back on her scalp. “Ye might can unnerstand the severity o’ the situation a wee bit more if ye bonnie well look ootside!”

Spike took a moment to peer through a nearby window. Snow fell in sheets as the wind blew loose branches to and fro. It was cold enough to freeze water in less than a moment, with a wind chill that was downright deadly.

“If ye cannae get home safely, ah recommend a good old-fashioned campout right here in th’ Mean Bean.”

“It’s the Keen Bean, actually—”

“An’ if ye dunnae get oot now, that’s exactly what yer gonna do!” Cloudkicker stomped her forehooves. “Now get a move on b’fore I’m forced to airlift ye oot o’ an avalanche!”

“Well, shoot.” Spike turned to Apple Bloom. “I guess you won’t get those pies delivered.”

“Well, ah already did. Mostly.” She nibbled her bottom lip. “Ah was kinda savin’ th’ library for last, cause—”

“I said move et ye lazy ponies!” Cloudkicker took to the air and zipped outside. “An’ dunnae think I willnae follow through wit’ me threats!”

Spike nearly got lost amid the stampede for the door. He managed to reach his coat and slide it over his shoulders before he was practically carried into the snow. He saw the Ponytones headed for Sweetie’s boutique. Button scrambled through the drifts towards his family home. Pipsqueak and Dinky held on to each other lest his small stature and her thin body get carried away by the wind. Scootaloo blocked the stinging snow with her magic as much as she could, cutting a path for Rumble to walk her home to Quills and Sofas.

Spike clutched his chest as the ice struck his heart. The chill spread through his body, seizing his muscles, until he finally managed to zip his coat up to his neck. A quick, hot breath into his palms later, he breathed a sigh of relief.

He plodded his way through the growing snowdrifts. He secured a warm, wooly cap around his head, but his crest kept nudging it the wrong way. He gave up and pressed it deep into his pocket. He carried on through the storm, his muscles aching with every step.

He finally reached the library with little energy to spare. His sidewalk was knee-deep along its entire length. He could barely see the library’s sign—denoting it as the Seeds of Friendship Public Library—underneath its new-fallen blanket. Putting one foot in front of the other, he focused on simply getting inside and getting a fire lit.

A grunt of frustration and a muffled curse tore its way past the howling gale. He furrowed his brow and looked back. Apple Bloom was secured in her harness, pulling with all her considerable strength on her wagon. She had cleared it off as much as she could, but the wheels kept getting clogged with snow and ice.

Temporarily forgoing warmth and safety, Spike rubbed his arms and waddled over. “Apple Bloom! What are you doing?”

“Ah’m getting’ the dang cart home!” she snapped. Her face was red from cold and exertion. “What’s it look like ah’m doin’?”

“You look like you’re asking for frostbite, or hypothermia, or a serious case of death!” Spike shook his head. “No. No, that isn’t happening. You gotta leave it here and dig it out tomorrow.”

The flaps on Apple Bloom’s trapper cap flapped in the violent wind. “What? Leave it here? Ah ain’t never not finished a route. Not now, not ever!”

“Ponyville just became a giant ice box. You can finish it later.” Spike shivered beneath his coat. “Come on inside. You can hang out until the storm blows over.”

“Uh…” Apple Bloom’s face softened as she looked over his shoulder. Her mouth scrunched up to the side. “Ah’m not sure that’s such a great idea.”

“Got a better one?” Spike crossed his arms and tapped a foot. Or maybe it was just shivering violently. It was hard to tell. He drew the corner of his mouth up. “Hay, we’ll make the best of it. I’ll brew up some cocoa and we can crack open one of the pies you brought me. Sound good?”

Apple Bloom’s cheeks grew a shade darker. She hunched her shoulders and grinned nervously. “Sure. Why not?” She flipped open the cart and pulled out three pies, ready to stick in the oven. “You’re the last stop on the route anyhow, ’cept for home. What’s an hour or two, huh?”

A sharp crack was followed by a resounding crash. A hefty branch from a nearby tree fell, torn down by the weight of the snow and the force of the wind. Spike shielded his face and grabbed Apple Bloom’s foreleg. “Might be a little more than a couple hours, Bloom! This storm’s not planning on quitting!”

They rushed for the door as fast as their overburdened and overtired legs could carry them. The ice chased them doggedly, searching for that last bit of skin to bite, that last tear to freeze, that last ear to whip. They pushed through the entrance, dripping and shaking. Spike cast one last look at the overwhelming blizzard and slammed the door shut with as much finality as he could.

Author's Note:

I hate coffee, coincidentally.

This story is partially an experiment in improving my prose. Avoiding too much of the dry "He did she said" stuff, while trying not to bog it down with too much description.

Maybe one day I'll lose my mortal terror of Lavender Unicorn Syndrome, since avoiding that completely is hurting my capacity to describe character appearance. :applejackunsure: My style is a work in progress.

The story is complete, mostly, so expect an update on Wednesday!

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