• Published 2nd Mar 2015
  • 2,578 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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Thinking of Apple Pie

Spike slumped against the wood door. He lowered himself to the floor and took several deep breaths. He closed his eyes and focused on his heart, on its beat and its warmth. He called forth a small flame that lit the edge of his lips. Smoke drifted out of his nose as his body temperature rose.

“Nice trick,” Apple Bloom said. She peeled off her coat as the attached snow melted into a puddle. She shook her boots off and grimaced at the way her hair plastered itself to her skin. “Ah ain’t gonna get any trouble from secondhand smoke, am ah?”

“It isn’t normal smoke,” Spike said. “It’s all magic byproduct. The energy that doesn’t get used by the spell. It doesn’t do anything good or bad.”

Apple Bloom raised an eyebrow. “Nothin’ that’s gonna ‘blanket the land in darkness’?”

Spike laughed. “That dragon had some seriously bad breath. Don’t worry; I’ve got a couple centuries to go before I’m that bad.”

Apple Bloom removed her hat and tried to fluff her sweaty mane with little success. “How ’bout lightin’ a fahr for those of us who’ve got normal lungs?”

Spike skittered across the floor to the waiting fireplace. A few logs were already stacked into the brick hearth, placed there by Owloysius. Spike cupped his hands in front of his mouth and blew hot breath between the palms. Magic, green-lit fire danced across the logs, singing the bark and eventually taking hold. Spike sat back and watched the fire grow, changing from green to orange as it started to burn independent of magic.

Apple Bloom walked up to the owl’s perch. Owloysius slept quietly, his wings twitching occasionally, until he sensed the pony’s approach. His large eyes blinked open.

“Hoo. Hoo!”

“Hay, Owloysius.” She tickled him under his beak. “How’s everypony’s favorite librarian?”

Owloysius snuck a smirk at Spike. “Hoo.”

She tilted an ear towards Spike. “You know what he’s sayin’?”

Spike chuckled. He walked up to the stand and flicked the tip of the owl’s ear. “He’s complaining that I should bring pretty mares to the library more often.”

“Hoot!” Owloysius said in agreement.

Apple Bloom snorted loudly. She covered her mouth with a matted hoof. “Thanks for the compliment, but ah don’t think ah look it right about now.”

Spike snapped his fingers and planted a palm to his forehead. “D’oh! Of course. You can use the shower upstairs if you wanna get cleaned up.”

Apple Bloom untied her bow. Her mane sprung out a little bit, but mostly held the same pose. She shook her head, letting it flop heavily against her neck. “Heck yes, please. You’re gonna want tah use it, too, ain’t yah?” A jolt went through her shoulders. “After ah’m done?” she added quickly.

“Nah, I’m good.” Spike picked up the pies from their resting place by the door. “The pie ought to be done by the time you get down.”

She gave him a grateful grin and bounced up the stairway. Spike stuck the extra pies in the icebox and set the third beside the oven. He closed his eyes and searched his memory for the recommended time and heat. A spark from his teeth ignited the oven, which he brought up to temperature slowly with a crank of the dial.

“Hoo.”

Owloysius rested on his shoulder, his eyebrows low and his beak severe. He pecked Spike on the ear.

“Ouch!” Spike rubbed the sore spot, but held himself back from batting the offending bird away. “What was that for?”

“Hoo!”

“I know this is a bad situation, okay?” Spike furrowed his scaly brow and slid the apple pie into the oven. The heat of the metal coils illuminated the pie as it cooked. “Did I really have a choice? We couldn’t just leave her out in the cold like that. I wasn’t joking when I said she could die.”

“Hoo, hoo.”

“Ponies gossip. It’s in their nature. If they misconstrued this, we’ll either set them straight or ignore them.” Spike rested against a polished wood dining table. He let the minutes tick by in his head. A tinge of cinnamon brought a smile to his face.

“Hoo!”

Spike’s muzzle scrunched up. “Huh? Temptation? Temptation to what?”

Owloysius closed his eyes with a faux-longsuffering expression. He shook his head. “Hoot.”

Spike’s cheeks went beet-red beneath his scales. He bared two sets of sharp teeth. “Uh… Um… You and I both know why that isn’t happening. Ever.”

“Hoo…”

“Apple Bloom’s my friend, and I sure as heck don’t wanna get her in trouble.” Spike prodded Owloysius in the chest. He let out a low grumble. “We’ll figure something out, right? Besides, we aren’t alone. We’ve got you. Congratulations, you’re our chaperone.”

Owloysius rolled his eyes. “Hoo.”

“I know you’re just an owl.” Spike’s nostrils twitched as he caught a new scent from the pie: The crust was turning crispy. “Just… go nap or whatever it is you do during the day. I’ll handle it.”

“Hoo, hoo, hoot!”

Spike brought his fist down on the tabletop. “Just get off my back!”

Though he only used an ounce of his strength, the table collapsed beneath the blow. The sound of wood snapping combined with a loud clatter to produce a resounding, heart-stopping cacophony.

Spike froze in place, his mouth agape. A tiny whine slipped out of his throat.

Owloysius shrugged and flapped his way over to his perch. He nestled into his fluffy feathers and fell asleep almost immediately.

Spike stood there for a moment, staring at the ruined table, before he remembered the pie. He forewent oven mitts and reached in barehanded to grip the pie tin gently in his clawtips. The cinnamon-apple filling bubbled up through the holes atop the pie’s crust, venting steam as the pie started to cool itself. The beautiful scent of apple, sugar, crust, and love mixed together drifted around the entire library. Spike sighed as the tension left his shoulders.

It returned with a shout from the upper floor. “Spike? Ah heard a crash, you alright?”

“No injury to report!” he shouted back. He swallowed and moved to the cabinets. Plates lay in meticulous stacks, due to the neatness constantly drilled into him by Twilight.

Twilight…

Dear Spike,

It’s Mom. Twilight’s hurt. She’s alive, but she isn’t doing well. We have her at Canterlot Hospital. Please pray for a quick recovery.

He found himself leaning on the countertop. He pushed himself up and reached into the cupboards. “Stupid plates.”

“Ah imagine they ain’t the smartest utensils, no.” Apple Bloom ducked so that she didn’t bump her head on the doorframe. Her mane was still a little damp from the shower, but the way her coat glistened and her tail flowed made her look much more comfortable. “Shucks, what happened to th’ table?”

“It… met with a terrible fate.” Spike wrung his hands. “Kinda a stupid accident.”

He slid a knife out of the silverware drawer with much less difficulty. He raised it above the steaming crust.

“Hold on a sec,” Apple Bloom said. “Y’ gotta wait a bit to let it cool. Otherwise it’s just gonna dribble all over the place and burn your tongue along with it.”

Spike smiled and set the knife down. “You’re the expert. How long do we have to wait?”

She tilted her head and waved a dismissive hoof. “No more’n ten minutes, ah’d guess. Ah’m feelin’ a might peckish, you know.”

The windows rattled from the force of the gale outside. The heavy crackle of the library’s branches gave the two of them pause.

“Applejack’s probably gonna have to stay at the office tonight.” Apple Bloom nibbled her lower lip. “Hope she an’ Mac don’t worry none.”

“That’s an easy fix.” Spike waddled on his hind legs out of the kitchen. “I’ll grab a couple sheets of paper and write them a message saying where you are.” He winked at her. “Dragonfire: One-hundred percent more reliable than the Postal Service.”

She suppressed a giggle when he reached for the pages. He turned on her with a raised brow. “What’s so funny?”

“Y’ look like a penguin when y’ walk on your hind legs like that.” She sat on her haunches and drew her forelegs up like wings. “Waddle, waddle, waddle.”

Spike sniffed and raised his chin. “I do not waddle.”

“Y’ kinda do, Spike.”

“I do not. I lumber, as any vast dragon does.”

“Don’t lumber mean somethin’ like ‘to waddle with heft’?” She gave him a cheeky grin. “Admit it to yourself an’ you’ll feel better.”

He scribbled down a quick note, copied it on a separate sheet, and rolled the two messages up. He pointed at a nearby window. “Open that up, will you? It’ll give the spell a shorter route.”

Apple Bloom stumped over, balancing on her hind legs. She braced herself against the wall and yanked the window open. Cold air blasted in, carrying with it a dusting of snow.

Spike breathed his powerful, sparkling fire on the letters and watched them burn into smoke. They shot into the storm, carried by a power far more mighty than the winds which threatened to pull them from their assigned paths.

Apple Bloom slid the pane shut with a sigh of relief. “Ah get the feelin’ ah ain’t really thanked you enough for not lettin’ me go out there.”

“It’s my good deed for the day.” Spike came alongside her. The glass fogged up from their warm breath. He scratched his upper arm idly, knocking loose a few dead scales. “I hope everypony’s okay.”

“Ah ain’t never seen it this bad b’fore,” Apple Bloom said.

“I have, but that was in the Crystal Empire…” Spike grimaced. “When Sombra was attacking.”

Apple Bloom’s loose mane swished over her shoulders as she swung her head around. “Y’ don’t suppose this has somethin’ tah do with what that Hurricane pony did to Cloudsdale, do yah?”

Spike clenched his fist as he leaned his arm against the wall. He ground his teeth lightly behind his lips, choking down a beastly growl. He pushed back from the window and walked away on all fours. “Whatever it is, it’s out of my hoov—hands. Out of my hands.”

Apple Bloom frowned as she watched him go. She settled her forehooves on the ground and followed at a short distance. “Ah’m sorry for bringin’ it up.”

“It’s fine.” Spike looked over his shoulder. “It’s not your fault. It just… hurts. I’m just glad everything’s settled down now.”

He paused at the door and looked over the pile of splinters and logs that had once been a table. “Um… Since the table is… not a table anymore, we can eat in the den.”

Apple Bloom popped her head into the kitchen. “The den?”

Spike flipped the knife between his fingers. Four quick cuts later, the pie was divided into eight equal slices. “It’s what I call the reading area by the fireplace. It’s got some big comfy couches, a nice armchair or two, and it’s conveniently situated right next to the radio.”

Apple Bloom puckered her lips. “Ah thought there weren’t no food or drinks allowed in the library.”

“During business hours, it is a library.” Spike dished out her plate and followed up with his own. He carried one in each hand as he waddled past her and between the book shelves. “Outside those hours, it’s my house.”

“Fair enough.” She moseyed over to the radio and flipped it on. Rather than the usual evening shows and music selection, there was an explosion of white noise. “What gives? What’s wrong with your speakers?”

An extra-loud bellow from the outdoors served as her answer. She snorted and flipped the switch back off. “Sure. Stormy weather an’ radio waves don’t mix for one reason or th’ other.”

“Then that leaves us with three options,” Spike said. He passed her a plate. “Pie, books, and good company. Take your pick.”

She smirked and spread herself across one of the cushy couches. Her tall body took up all three seats. “Pie, as always, wins out in the end.”

Spike added a log to the fire. A quick stroke later, it was blazing bright, lighting the room with an amber glow. He settled himself into the easychair beside Apple Bloom’s couch. The scent of smoke mingled with the tang of cinnamon as they dug into their treats.

“Ah always thought apple pie was a good source of memories,” Apple Bloom said through a mouthful of crumbs.

“I thought that was vitamin C.” Spike giggled as Apple Bloom stuck her tongue out. “No, but seriously, what do you mean?”

“It brings good stuff back. Like, the scents and the flavors all thread throughout your life, and this just brings it all together.” Apple Bloom lifted the plate to her nose and took a deep whiff. “Granny Smith always smelled like cinnamon. She told me she daubed a little behind her ears every mornin’, ’cause when she was a kid weren’t no way to afford good smellin’ soap. Had to make it by hoof. Times have changed in a good way as far as that goes.”

She tilted her head to the side, bringing her shoulder up to her cheek. “How ’bout you, Spike? What do you remember when you eat apple pie?”

Spike regarded the dessert on his lap. He brought it up to his mouth and took a careful nibble, letting the sweet stickiness coat his teeth. He mulled it around in his mouth for a long moment.

“Ponyville. The first day I came here.” Spike nestled into the chair. His tail waved softly back and forth over the armrest. “Warm sun, good food, lots of new friends… It was pretty awesome. Me and Twilight doing what we’ve always done best.”

Apple Bloom let her eyes drift over to the fireplace. “That was the first day we met, too, wasn’t it?”

“Yup. That’s where the ‘good food’ comes in.” Spike patted his belly. “I don’t think I’ve eaten so many apple-related goodies in my entire life.” He pointed a claw at her. “All of it awesome, I’d like to add.”

She smirked. “Ah was scared of you.”

“Huh?” Spike covered his heart with a disbelieving claw. “Me? Why?”

“’Til then, the only thing we’d ever heard about dragons was how big and scary they were.” She swung a hoof through the air. “They’d snatch you up if you didn’t eat your broccoli. They’d eat you outta house and home an’ then eat your house. But you didn’t.”

“Well…” Spike twiddled his thumbs. “Not always.”

Apple Bloom let out a huff. “Nopony blames you for the growth spurt.”

He shrugged. “I’m just saying, maybe they should.”

“We don’t.” She reached across the way and rested a hoof on his elbow. “You weren’t like that and you ain’t now. It ain’t hard to see how friendly you are.” She smiled and crossed her forelegs under her chin. “So ah pulled out the big guns t’ make sure y’all stayed for brunch.”

Spike scratched the place her hoof had touched, loosening a few more scales. “Ahuh. The big doe-eyes. I’m still pretty sure they’re about one step away from Fluttershy’s The Stare.”

“Results are results.” Her ear twitched toward the fire, catching a pop and a crackle. They silently watched the flames dance, feeling the warmth spread to every inch of their bodies. They set their plates on the floor, ready to clean once they were done resting.

“I should probably thank you on behalf of all of Equestria,” Spike said.

“Huh?” Apple Bloom’s head popped up. “What for?”

Spike peered around the side of the easychair’s back. “If we hadn’t spent the morning with you guys, would Twilight have trusted Applejack in the Everfree forest?”

Apple Bloom’s expression dimmed. Her forehead became heavy over her eyes. She looked back at the fire with a sigh. “It ain’t for us to know what mighta been.”

“No, but it can put what is into perspective.” Spike’s sharp teeth glinted in the firelight. “‘Apple Bloom, Savior of Equestria’ has a nice ring to it.”

“It’s a start,” she said, keeping her voice hushed. “Goes pretty well with ‘Spike, Champion of the Crystal Empire.’”

Spike tapped his clawtips together. He stood up in a rush. “Hay, you want something to read? The library has tons of new books. I’m pretty sure I could find something you—”

“You go ahead,” Apple Bloom said. She stretched her legs out and let her head flop down on the couch cushion. “Ah’m just gonna sit here awhile.”

Spike rubbed his wrist. He crawled over to her and sucked in his bottom lip. “You okay?”

“Now that there’s a question ah oughta be askin’ you.” She gave him a tight-lipped, lopsided smile. “But we both know the answer t’ that one.”

Spike rested on his haunches, his arm over one knee. “You didn’t answer my question.”

“’Cause it’s a hard one.” Apple Bloom’s eyes flicked between the fire and his own eyes. “Y’ ever get to a place and… and think that if everythin’ stayed the same, forever, life would be just fine?”

Spike’s ears dipped down. He opened and closed his hands, pressing his clawtips to his palms. “Yeah. Before Twilight got hurt. When I was her number one assistant.”

“Yeah. When everythin’ sits right.” Apple Bloom brushed a lock of red mane from her eyes. “But… but then you see somethin’ that would… change everythin’. It could be somethin’ amazing, or… or beautiful. But it would take a push. It would take a leap to get to that thing, that amazing, beautiful thing, and then nothin’ would be the same.”

She curled her legs closer to herself, firmly staring into the fire. “If it worked out, it would be great. But it might not work out. And if it did it would be hard. It would just be easier to keep things the same forever.” She shut her eyes and let out a loud breath. “What would you do?”

“I…” Spike fell fully to his rear. He hugged his chest and rubbed his upper arms. “I can’t answer for you, Apple Bloom. I guess if you tell me what it is, I can give you advice.”

“It’s a couple of things, ah guess.” Apple Bloom twisted herself so that she was sitting up. She threaded her tail around her flank and rested her hoof on the cushion beside her. “For one thing, ah wanna leave the farm.”

Spike blinked. He scratched the back of his head. “What? But it’s your home. It’s your life!”

“An’ like ah said, ah dunno if I want that life no more. Ah wanna open up a potion brewery downtown. Ah wanna offer mah skills as a carpenter to folks who need it.” She gave him a light, playful scowl. “An’ ah don’t wanna keep wakin’ up b’fore sunrise to clear out the chicken coop.”

He laughed lightly. He looked up at her with a cocked brow. “When’s this happening?”

“If ah wanted to, ah’d open up a shop once Applejack’s term as mayor ended.” She tilted her head back. “So ah got a couple years tah think on it, at least.”

“There’s that.” He let his smile show the tips of his teeth. “So, will you be good at it?”

“Ah didn’t get this cutie mark stackin’ hay bales,” she said, gesturing to the open, pinkish apple blossom on her rump, with a bud on either side.

“Cool.” Spike turned around and leaned his back against the armchair, warming his chest against the fire. “Will you be successful? Do people need it?”

She wrinkled her nose at him. “Ah get the feelin’ ah could be reasonably profitable.”

“Now…” He looked in her eyes, and she in his. “Will you be happy?”

A brightness sprung to her face, starting in her eyes and extending to her gradually perking ears. She leaned her head forward in a gentle nod. “Yes. Ah think ah will.”

Spike snapped his fingers. “Welp, I guess it’s up to you to decide the best way to go. But if you want my advice”—he winked at her—“take the plunge.”

He slid up into the easychair and leaned on the armrest. “So, you said there were a couple of things, right?”

“Yep.” She bit down on her lower lip, a slight shiver to her forelegs. “It could be even harder, but—but way more wonderful.”

Spike inclined his head. “What is it?”

Apple Bloom propped her hooves on the armrest, leaned her long neck over the gap between the seats, and touched her lips to his.

The taste of cinnamon swirled with the smell of smoke. Lightning flashed and fire roared across their lips. The howling gale outside was drowned beneath the blood thumping in their ears. Breath left them in a gasp.

Spike kissed back.

Spike stopped.

He edged away from Apple Bloom, his chest heaving. His jaw hung loose. His eyes opened wide. A tear dripped down his cheek. “Oh no.”

The blissful smile on Apple Bloom’s face vanished, replaced with a furrowed brow. “What’s wrong, Spike?”

Each word took a full breath from Spike’s lungs. “I… Can’t…”

She reached for his cheek to wipe his tear away. “Hay. Hay, it’s okay—Ouch!” The hot dragon tear stung her hoof. She drew it back in a rush to suck on it.

“I’m sorry,” Spike huffed. “I-I’m sorry.”

“Hay, you didn’t mean nothin’.” Apple Bloom waved the hoof, cooling it with air. “Ain’t your fault your tears are hot as Tar—”

No.” Spike’s claws clenched around the soft armrest. His nails dug into the fabric, tearing it little by little. “I mean… I’m sorry… I can’t… I can’t…”

Tears trickled from the corners of his eyes, sizzling on their way down. “I… can’t… love you.”

Apple Bloom shrunk into the couch, her ears low and her shoulders sagging. “Huh?” she squeaked.

“I can’t love you like I should,” he said breathlessly. “I… I’m a dragon, Apple Bloom.”

Apple Bloom swallowed air. The voice that came from her mouth was barely a whisper. “Why not?”

“I-I-I’m a dragon. I’m… strong enough to break an oak table by accident. Strong enough to hurt ponies badly.” He held his hands out and stared at them as if he had never seen them before. Air flowed from his lungs in a stuttering mess. “My breath is f-fire and my jaw is a jackhammer. M-my hide is armor. My claws are knives. My scales… I c-could knock you across the room and not even feel it.”

Apple Bloom blinked back the tears stinging her eyes. “Spike, now hold on—”

“I’ve hurt ponies already, Apple Bloom,” Spike said, his voice cracking. “I can’t hurt you, too!”

The windows shook in the heavy silence. The fire dimmed, casting deep shadows around them. Spike avoided Apple Bloom’s eyes while she searched for his.

“Spike,” she said at last, “you’re the most gentle dragon ah know. The kindest, wisest, most loyal dragon in all Equestria.”

“That doesn’t count for much,” Spike croaked. He rubbed his eyes and carried his hands up to his forehead. “I’m still a dragon. Either that or I’m the scariest, most dangerous pony in Equestria.”

“You’re more’n that.” Apple Bloom stood up. She reached for his hand. “You’re so much more—”

Spike jerked his hand away. “Don’t. Please. I don’t wanna… I could…”

Apple Bloom jutted her chin out. “Are you tellin’ me that right here, right now, if we’re holdin’ hooves, you couldn’t help accidently hurtin’ me at all?”

“I…” Spike’s cheek twitched. “I wouldn’t mean to.”

“Right, because you’d be careful, and you’d be carin’, and you’d be lovin’, like you always are.” She grasped his hand between her hooves. “Stop thinkin’ of yourself like a walkin’ death trap! ’Cause you ain’t.

He rubbed her hoof with his thumb. He sucked in a breath through his nose and let it go as a sigh. “I can’t love you like I should, though. I’m so… we couldn’t even… It’s dangerous to kiss, let alone hug or… uh…”

Apple Bloom skewed her muzzle. “Last ah checked, love was a little more’n just kissin’, huggin’, and makin’ babies.”

“Yes. Yes, it is.” Spike wiped a new tear from his face. “But you can’t say they aren’t important, can you?”

She didn’t move her hoof away from his hands, but she did turn her head to the side. “No, ah can’t.”

“Apple Bloom, I can love you as a friend.” Spike coughed to clear his constricting throat. “I will be your friend for as long as I live. But… I can’t be in that kind of relationship with you. I wouldn’t be able to—”

“—love me like you should?” Apple Bloom finally let her hoof drop to the floor. “Ah’m startin’ to get the signal.”

Spike clutched his hands together and snapped his eyes shut as tight as they would go. “I’m sorry.”

“Ah’m sorry, too,” Apple Bloom said with a heavy voice. “Ah… ah think…”

She walked to the staircase with a loose, limp gait. “Ah think I’ll head up to the guest room f-for the night.” A low whine escaped her throat. Her face twisted into a pained sob. She rushed upwards to hide her tears. “Ah-ah got a l-lot to think abou—”

Spike remained as he was, seated in the easychair with his tears held at bay, until he heard the guest room door slam shut. He gathered up the dirty plates without a word, washed them with equal quiet, and then wrapped the rest of the pie in foil.

Owloysius gave him an interrogating “Hoot?” but Spike had no answer.

Author's Note:

Don't hate me just yet, there's still one more chapter. Plus an epilogue.

Next update is Friday.

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