• Published 21st May 2012
  • 15,903 Views, 474 Comments

April Showers - Denim_Blue

As the saying goes, April showers bring May flowers...and rainbows. Spike learns this first-hand.

  • ...

Chapter 2: Downpour Blues

April Showers

by Denim_Blue

Chapter Two- Downpour Blues

“Thanks again for helpin’ me with the compost, Twilight. I really appreciate it.”

Twilight smiled as she concentrated her magic on moving the wheelbarrow full of compost towards the Apple family’s barn. “Not a problem, Applejack. I’m just glad we finished spreading the compost in time. Looks like the weather-ponies are just about finished with setting the rain clouds up around Ponyville.”

Applejack looked over her shoulder towards Ponyville. Several brightly colored dots could be seen flying over Ponyville, pushing large gray clouds and clumping them together. Every so often a streak of rainbow could be seen, darting between groups of pegasi and assisting in the construction of the rain clouds. “Huh, would ya look at that. Even Rainbow Dash is awake already,” Applejack chuckled.

“Surprising, I know,” Twilight agreed with a laugh of her own. “She’s been keeping herself plenty busy lately. Between weather duty, training Spike to fly, and helping Scootaloo with her tricks, I’d say she’s really had her hooves full. I suppose she doesn’t really have time for sleeping-in anymore.”

“Never thought I’d see the day, to be honest. I was startin’ to wonder if she was allergic to hard work.”

“Oh stop it, Applejack,” Twilight chuckled. “She’s not that bad.”

“I suppose, but it don’t beat the fact that she can be a real laze-about most of the time. I don’t get how she’s able to be so darn athletic when she spends half of almost every day nappin’.”

The two set the wheelbarrow of leftover compost in the barn before making their way to the the farmhouse. “Granny’s been slow-cookin’ a nice apple and cabbage stew all mornin’, and I can smell it from all the way out here. Why don’t you stay over and have lunch with us?”

“Well, I am hungry.” Twilight felt her stomach growl at the thought of a home cooked meal. She blushed a little as Applejack gave her a knowing smirk. “Sure, why not? I always enjoy anything Granny Smith makes.”

Applejack nodded. “Good choice.” She gazed towards the steadily darkening sky over Ponyville. There was a faint sheen of rain coming down on the small town, and more of the heavy rain clouds were being directed towards Sweet Apple Acres by a few of the weather ponies. “Looks like the rain is makin’ its way here anyway, Twilight. You might as well stay here and wait for it to pass. Unless you enjoy bein’ wetter than an unsheared sheep swimming in a waterin’ hole.”

“No, I think I’ll take up your offer,” Twilight giggled.

The two entered the farmhouse, and Twilight immediately caught the sweet smell of apples mixed with cabbage that was wafting out from the kitchen. The sound of Big Macintosh’s deep baritone could be heard over clatter of plates and silverware being set on the table.

“...sure he was alright, Apple Bloom. Spike’s a busy dragon, after all. He runs his own business, y’know.”

“I know, but Sweetie Belle told us that Rarity said he just up an’ left! That ain’t like him at all, and you know it. Shoot, he’d probably spend all his time helpin’ her with her dresses if he could.”

Twilight and Applejack walked into the dining room where the other two Apple siblings could be seen setting the table. “Apple Bloom? Yer back earlier than I expected. What happened to spendin’ time with Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo?”

Apple Bloom sighed as she turned to Applejack. “That’s what I was just tellin’ Big Mac ‘bout. The girls and I were comin’ back from helpin’ Ms. Cheerilee plant her flower garden before the rain started. Rarity was all worried an’ sobbin’ over something when we arrived at the boutique, and Mr. Fancypants was busy tryin’ to calm her down. Sweetie Belle asked us to wait outside so she could talk to Rarity. Eventually she came back and said something about Spike stoppin’ over, then leavin’ all of the sudden. He dropped a flower when he left. She said he practically ran away with how he took off so quickly.” She shook her head. “I guess Rarity and Mr. Fancypants were goin’ to have a dinner date in Canterlot this weekend or somethin’, but I’m not so sure anymore.”

Twilight frowned. “Oh...I think I know what happened.”

“What?” Apple Bloom asked.

Twilight shook her head. “I don’t think it’s my place to say...”

Granny Smith turned away from the large steaming pot of stew sitting on the range, a small, sympathetic smile on her face. She sighed heavily. “The poor drake got his heart broken, ain’t it obvious?”

“Huh?” Apple Bloom frowned. “Whattya mean, Granny?”

Granny Smith chuckled a little as she turned back to the apple and cabbage stew. “You’ll understand soon ‘nough. Yer ‘bout the age to start courtin’ ain’t ya?”

The teenage filly blushed a bit. “W-what are ya talkin’ ‘bout, Granny?”

Applejack and Big Macintosh had caught on quickly enough. Applejack let out a sigh of her own. “Oh shoot, the poor little guy. I didn’t know Spike still held a flame for Rarity. Sure, he’s always been a real sweetheart around her...”

Apple Bloom frowned. “Wait, y’mean...Spike still has a crush on Rarity? I thought he grew out of that awhile ago.”

Twilight smiled wistfully. “No, he just learned how to hide it better. I could still see it, though. He’s had a crush on her since the day we moved into Ponyville.” She took a seat down at the table, her gaze resting on the small vase of flowers situated in the center of the table. “I’ll have to go see how he is later. He’s probably going to be in a real slump for a while.”

Twilight and the Apples were soon settled at the table, eating their lunch together while sharing stories about what they did today. While Twilight tried to put the thought of Spike aside for now, she couldn’t help but worry about him. He tried to act tough, but she knew that deep down it didn’t take much to upset him.

The more she pondered about it, the more she wished for the rain to let up so she could check up on him.

It was close to four when the rain had finally let up. Twilight thanked the Apples for the wonderful meal, and quickly headed down the road leading to Spike’s house. She suspected this day would eventually come, despite how much she wished for it to never happen. Honestly, she would have been overjoyed if Spike and Rarity began dating each other, but...

Rarity cared for Spike, that was obvious. However, Twilight was fairly certain her unicorn friend never saw Spike in a romantic way. Sure, Rarity cared deeply for him, but so did the rest of Twilight’s friends. It was hard not to, considering how much of a kind-hearted dragon he was.

The large stone house of Spike’s came into view as the path sloped down towards a river. She picked up her pace, cantering up to the smaller side door Spike had built for ponies to use. She knocked on it three times with a hoof. “Spike? Spike, it’s Twilight, are you home?”

No answer came from within. She sighed. He’s probably inside, sulking...

She frowned, knocking a little harder. “Spike, come on, please open the door. I-I heard what happened with Rarity. I just want to talk.”

Still no answer. She pulled down on the knob, only to find the door locked. She paused for a moment, frowning at her predicament. She lowered her hoof and closed her eyes. Her horn glowed briefly before a silver key appeared out of nowhere. When Spike had finished his house, he had given Twilight a spare key to his home, just in case she needed to get into his house while he wasn’t around. Normally she would not enter his home if he was gone, but he was likely ignoring her, or sleeping in some dark corner of his abode.

The door opened and she stepped inside. Sunlight poked through the western window of home, bathing the center in a soft golden hue. However, there was no sign of Spike.

“Spike? Are you home?”

She walked towards the kitchen area and lifted the trap door to his root cellar where he kept some of his perishables as well as some of his larger gems. “Spike?”

He wasn’t there, either. She looked around the place once more, her eyes resting on a large door across the den area. There was an engraving of a crescent moon on the door and a simple latch

This could be awkward, but... She walked towards the door and cleared her throat. “Spike...are you in there?”

No response. She slowly turned the knob and peeked her head in. Nothing but a large bathtub, toilet, sink, and mirror.

Well, at least I didn’t disturb him... Twilight closed the door and looked around the den area once more. There wasn’t a note or anything on the kitchen table or counter saying where he went. He would usually leave something like a note telling where he went and when he’d be back, if only for Twilight’s peace of mind. There was no such note to be found this time, however. She found a piece of parchment and a quill, and left a brief note saying she stopped by in case Spike returned, and that she wanted to talk to him when he had the chance. With that, she left the house and locked the door behind her.

Twilight’s imagination tried to come up with places he could possibly be. The problem was that Spike had wings; he could be almost anywhere, especially if he wanted to be left alone. She couldn’t stop the feeling of anxiety from rising up in the back of her mind. Did he run away? Where to? Is he alright?

She shook her head and exhaled slowly. No, she wouldn’t get anywhere by worrying. She needed to calm down, and think this through, piece by piece. It was–

“Oh, Twilight, there you are!”

Twilight jumped a little and quickly spun around around to see Fluttershy and Pinkie making their way towards her. “Oh! Fluttershy! Pinkie Pie! Sorry, you startled me a little. I was just checking to see if Spike was home.”

“Sorry, we didn’t mean to startle you, Twilight,” Fluttershy apologized. “We were just heading here as well. We heard from Sweetie Belle that Spike might be upset about something.”

“So, we decided to bring him some cupcakes and cheer him up!” Pinkie dug into a saddlebag she was carrying and pulled out a small box. She pulled off the box cover, revealing four sapphire cupcakes. “I know how much he likes sapphires, and we had some lying around Sugarcube Corner, so I baked them up. Fresh from the oven! They looked so delicious that I had to taste one, but it wasn’t that good since it’s a gemstone, and not vanilla or chocolate. Still, I know Spike will like them!”

Twilight smiled, touched by her friends’ concern. “That’s very sweet of you girls...but Spike’s not here.” Her smile fell. “He didn’t leave a note, or anything. I was about to head out and see if he’s at any of his usual hangouts.”

“Would you like us to help? Pinkie and I can go check the duck pond,” Fluttershy offered.

“That would be great. I was going to look for him in town and ask if anypony has seen him. He sometimes goes to the park to take a nap.”

“We’ll ask around, too,” said Pinkie. “Don’t worry, Twilight. We’ll find him, and then we’ll give him the cupcakes, and he’ll be happy again. If we see any of the other girls, we’ll ask if they can help as well.”

“Thanks, both of you,” Twilight sighed. “Spike’s probably depressed right now. He...well, he planned to ask out Rarity out on a date today.”

“Oh dear...” Fluttershy’s ears folded back as she looked to the ground. “I guess she must have told him that she and Fancypants are dating.”

“Spike happened to find out that Fancypants was taking her to dinner; it sounds like the two were planning out a date from what Apple Bloom told me,” Twilight answered. “That must have been hard for him to take...”

“Well, Rarity has been talking an awful lot about Fancypants as of late. She’s gotten to be really good friends with him. I’m surprised he didn’t know about this sooner,” Fluttershy added.

“I like Fancypants,” Pinkie said with a smile. “He’s a fancy pony, but he’s also really nice and knows how to have fun! Like, this one time, he stopped by Sugarcube Corner last week, and Rarity wanted him to try some chocolate cake, but–”

“Um, Pinkie, do you think that maybe you could tell us your story another time? I mean, well...we should go looking for Spike, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, you’re right, Fluttershy.” Pinkie put her box of cupcakes back into her saddlebag. “Okie dokie, Twilight. If we see Spike, we’ll be sure to let him know that you’re looking for him.”

“Thanks again, girls. Hopefully we’ll find him before it gets to be too late in the day.” Twilight looked to the sky. Judging from the Sun’s position, it had be close to five in the afternoon now. That meant they probably had another two hours to look for him at best before it got dark, and then searching for him would only be all the more difficult to do.

As Fluttershy and Pinkie made their way towards the duck pond, Twilight slumped onto her haunches and rubbed one of her temples. Spike had become really good at putting up a front when he needed to over the past couple of years. Knowing him, he’d probably try to wait this out and show up a day or two from now, acting as though nothing had happened. He would probably stop fawning over Rarity, too.

She knew he probably wouldn’t bring up what happened to anypony, and he’d deny that there was anything wrong with him if Twilight asked. Regardless, she needed to find him and talk to him. The sooner, the better.

Rainbow sat a little ways off from a large half-pipe near the Ponyville schoolyard. She watched as Scootaloo rolled down the side of the half-pipe on her scooter, her wings pumping hard to give her some extra speed. The teenage filly rolled up the other side and into the air, then kicked her scooter with one of her hind legs so it spun around twice while in midair. She then landed back on it and rolled back down the side. She turned once she was near the bottom of the half-pipe, and came to a stop as she applied the brake.

“Not bad, Scootaloo! You didn’t even falter for a second that time!”

Scootaloo grinned as she pulled off her helmet and shook her unruly purple mane to loosen it up. “Thanks, Rainbow Dash. It’s nothing special, but I can do a lot more when I fly now.” She flapped her wings a few times and grinned. “I’m not as good as you yet, but I broke my hundred yard dash-flight record last week. I should be ready for the Best Young Flier competition next year if I keep improving like I am.”

“Great! Keep at it and you might even be as good as me someday.”

“Might?” Scootaloo laughed a little. “You mean will.”

Rainbow mussed up Scootaloo’s mane with a hoof. “That’s what I like to hear.” The two walked down a path leading back to town. “So, you’re not going to believe this, but apparently Spike was planning on asking Rarity out on a date today.”

Scootaloo quirked an eyebrow, then a small frown appeared on her face. “Oh...that explains things...”

Rainbow gave Scootaloo a confused look. “What things?”

“Well,” Scootaloo began. “The girls and I were over at Sweetie Belle’s place for a little bit earlier today, and Rarity was all upset over something. She wasn’t crying, but she was really worried. Kind of like how she got when Sweetie Belle got that nasty fever a few months ago.”

“Uh oh. Really, she was that bad?”

“Yeah, but that’s not all we heard. Apparently Spike had stopped over earlier. He was acting weird, according to what Rarity told Sweetie Belle. He was introduced to Fancypants, who was going to take Rarity out on a date, and then Spike left all of the sudden. He looked like he was in a hurry or something. He dropped a flower on his way out.”

Rainbow winced. Oh man, that’s rough...

“I...I thought he was over his crush on Rarity,” Scootaloo shook her head. “I mean, he acts nice to her, but he always has. I guess I sort of just got used to that.”

“I’ve known Spike for quite awhile now. For him to go and ask her out on a date is huge,” Rainbow added. “Poor guy...”

“Do you think he’ll be okay?”

“Spike?” Rainbow shook her head uncertainly. “Hard to tell. He’s strong, but...he can be really sensitive, too. You wouldn’t think so, though, with how he acts most of the time.”

Scootaloo nodded, her gaze turning ahead once more. Her eyes narrowed a bit as she blinked. “Hey, isn’t that Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy?”

Rainbow followed the filly’s gaze, and sure enough, there were her two friends, looking around the park area, as though searching for something, or someone.

“Hey, Pinkie! Fluttershy!”

The two mares’ ears perked up as they looked to Rainbow Dash. They smiled and made their way towards her.

“Hiya, Dashie! Have you seen Spike anywhere?”

“Lemme guess, you’re looking for him after he took off from Rarity’s place?”

Fluttershy nodded sadly. “So, you heard, too?”

Rainbow sighed. “Yeah, Scootaloo just filled me in on what happened. Spike had told me last night after some flight training that he was going to ask Rarity out today. Looks like things didn’t go as he’d hoped, huh?”

“Not at all,” Fluttershy said. “I hope he’s alright. Oh, you don’t think he ran away, do you?”

“Spike?” Rainbow shook her head. “Nah, he may get down in the dumps and disappear for awhile, but Ponyville is his home. I don’t think he’d do something like run away. Besides, who’s going to look after Twilight or his gem horde?”

“Well, he did run away that one time when Twilight found Owloyicious,” Fluttershy said.

“Yeah, but he was a baby back then, Fluttershy. He’s grown up a lot since then, and wouldn’t do something like that to Twilight. That and he owns his own place now, so I don’t know why he would up and leave it after just building it not too long ago.” Rainbow flapped her wings and lifted a few inches off the ground. “So, nopony’s seen him since he left Rarity’s?”

“Nope, which is kind of weird, since he’s a big, purple dragon! Kind of hard to blend in with ponies, don’t you think?” Pinkie answered.

Rainbow frowned, folding her forelegs together, and hummed in thought. “I might know where he is. If I find him, I’ll tell him to head over to his house so Twilight can talk to him.”

“Okie dokie, Dashie! We’ll keep looking around for him, too.”

“Alright, I’ll catch you all later.

With that, Rainbow Dash flew off, making her way towards the Everfree Forest.

Spike picked up a topaz with his claws and tossed it into his awaiting mouth. His teeth crushed the gem effortlessly and swallowed. He didn’t even taste it as it went down. He looked down at the small pile of gems he collected, and chose a nice sized garnet. Not his favorite, but still a nice find for a place like the Everfree.

The garnet snapped and crunched like a piece of glass as he bit into it. The crystalline chunks slid down the thick and durable lining of his esophagus, settling into his stomach along with several dozen other digesting gemstones.

He hated being like this, he really did, but he didn’t want to be around anyone at the moment. So, he went to the one place where nopony was likely to find him: the Everfree Forest.

He ran into Zecora on occasion, sure, but she was usually fine with giving the drake his privacy if he asked for it. Sometimes he’d go to this clearing just to get away from the day-to-day stuff, and just relax. He didn’t have many things to worry about while he was in the forest. Unlike ponies, he had his fiery breath, and a tough hide. The only real threats he had to worry about were Manticores, which were rarely desperate enough to prey upon a young and hardy drake like him. There were Ursas too, but those were few in number and nearly impossible to find. The fact that Snips and Snails managed to find an Ursa Minor like that one time years ago when Trixie stopped in town still boggled Spike’s mind. They were apex predators (though, technically, they were omnivorous), and thus not that common compared to other animals.

Thinking of Ursa Minors caused him to look up at the purple and blue sky, gazing at the first couple of stars that were twinkling above. The last rays of sunlight could be seen piercing through the thick cover of the Everfree Forest. Part of him knew that he probably shouldn’t be here. No doubt his behavior had been noticed by Rarity. To make matters worse, when he had dropped his bouquet of flowers into a trash bin at the park, he had noticed a flower missing. The red tulip, while not as renowned as the red rose, still held the meaning of love behind it. Knowing his luck, Rarity probably saw him drop it.

You idiot, if you had just politely declined the invitation for tea and left calmly, then maybe you wouldn’t have dropped it. Rarity’s probably all worried now, knowing how she gets. Spike’s head slumped to the ground. I probably ruined her dinner plans with Fancypants. Way to go...

He didn’t know when he planned on heading back home. He did have some work orders to finish, and while gems were nice, they were only a part of his diet. He was able to eat plants if he needed to, but he didn’t know a lot about the local flora in the forest. Unless he wanted to risk getting sick by eating the wrong plant, he didn’t have much option there as far as food went. He would probably just wait a day and head back. He’d make up some excuse, and hopefully the girls would buy it, and everyone would move on. He would just tell Twilight and Rainbow Dash that he noticed Rarity was happy with Fancypants, and make no further comment on dating her. If Rarity asked about the flower, he would simply say that Lily had given it to him when he passed by her floral shop as a belated thank you gift for making the stone foundation for her new greenhouse. Customer confidentiality was a policy Lily stuck to, so Spike knew she wouldn’t tell on him if anyone asked her about it.

The hardest part about all of this was perhaps the fact that he knew it would end up like this, deep in the back of his mind. He wanted to believe that he could have a relationship with a mare like Rarity, but it seemed the chance had come and gone. In the end, she never saw Spike in that manner. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that he shouldn’t be all that surprised. After all, he’s a dragon. She’s a pony.

It was doomed from the very beginning.

Spike chuckled dryly. Figures. It’s no wonder most older dragons are so bitter in nature with how much time they spend alone. They are territorial, very possessive of their horde, short-tempered, and typically apathetic to others. Dragons mate whenever they feel like it, but this is as much of an advantage as much as it is a disadvantage for them.

Dragons rarely felt a desire to leave their dens. Usually young dragons were the ones who paired up and raised young. Not only that, but they had a sex-ratio that was the complete opposite of equines. For ever ten male dragons, there was two or three females at best. This was likely an evolutionary trait to keep dragons from overpopulating and causing competition issues relating to...

Spike sighed and shook his head. Even when he was depressed, his thoughts would drift. Twilight had left a lasting impression on him, it seemed.

He curled his tail around his body, and closed his eyes. Getting some sleep might help. He’d get some rest, wake up, and then figure things out from there.

“I thought I’d find you here.”

Spike’s head rose quickly as his neck craned up to the sky above. There, flying a slow circle over his head, was Rainbow Dash.

“Rainbow? What are you doing here?”

Rainbow circled downwards before landing beside the dragon. She folded her wings to her sides and gave Spike a slightly annoyed look. “I could be asking you the same.”

Frowning, Spike looked away. “I’d rather not talk about it.”

Rainbow Dash sighed and rubbed her forehead with a hoof. May as well cut to the chase. “I heard about what happened...about when you went to visit Rarity today.”

“Great...” He shook his head slowly, then pinched the bridge of his nose as he continued. “How bad is it?”

“Well, I haven’t spoken to Rarity yet, but it sounds like she’s pretty upset about what happened. Twilight is looking all over for you, too. Pinkie and Fluttershy were even searching for you. I’m pretty sure Applejack may have even taken some time from tending the orchards to look for you.”

Spike groaned. “Damn it, I’m not a baby dragon anymore. I don’t need to be coddled whenever something goes wrong.”

“Well, you should still go and talk to Rarity and Twilight.”

“Why? I can take care of myself, Rainbow. I’ll get over it...and I’m sure Rarity will be fine, too.” His eyes rested on the pile of gems, and his expression became a little guilty.

“Uh huh...when did you plan to head back into town?”

“I dunno...a day...or two...?”

Rainbow’s frown intensified. “Spike, look, I know that this sucks, but you can’t go and binge out on gemstones every time things don’t go your way. It isn’t healthy.”

“What are you, a psychiatrist?”

“No, but you’re not the only one with problems. Not everypony gets the pony of their dreams, you know.” Rainbow winced a little at her tone. She didn’t mean to sound so harsh. “I...look, Spike, for what it’s worth, I’ve been in the same boat as you, okay?”

Spike quirked an eyebrow, but his frown quickly returned. He gave her a skeptical look. “Really?

“Yes! Is it that so hard to believe?” she growled out.

“Erm...well, a little,” Spike muttered quietly. “I mean...you are Rainbow Dash, after all.”

“Yeah, well...” Rainbow shook her head. “Come on, let’s head back to your place. Twilight’s worried sick about you.”

Spike remained in place. “No, I’m not in the mood to talk to them right now.”

Rainbow was already spreading her wings, preparing to lift off the ground. She gave Spike another annoyed look and groaned in frustration. “Come on, Spike, stop moping around and feeling sorry for–”

“Look, no one’s telling you to stick around. I just don’t feel like talking to Rarity or Twilight right now. They’ll both feel sorry for me, and try to make me feel better. That and Rarity will feel guilty, which makes things even worse. I don’t want her to pity me. I want her to...” He shook his head. “...whatever, it’s all said and done.” He slumped back to the ground and picked up an amethyst, taking a bite out of it.

Rainbow heaved out a deep sigh, folded her wings back to her sides, and plopped down beside the dragon. “Fine.”

“Hm?” Spike looked at Rainbow, his face written with confusion.

“I said, ‘Fine’. If you’re not leaving, neither am I. Not until you decide to head back to Ponyville with me.”

“Rainbow, come on, you’re–”

“No,” Rainbow interrupted. “You don’t get it, Spike. I’m not here just because I feel like I have to. It’s because I’m your friend. Rarity, Twilight...all of us are your friends, and we care about you. We’re only looking out for you. Yeah, it’s kind of sucky that Rarity’s going out with Fancypants and not you, but–”

Kind of sucky?” Spike repeated before letting out a sardonic laugh. “Rainbow, you don’t get it. Rarity was probably the only pony in this whole town who showed anything remotely close to affection that was romantic, and I’m pretty sure that ninety-nine percent of the time it was just harmless flirting. I wish I had seen that sooner.” Spike’s eyes narrowed as he stared at the pile of gems, only to be reminded further of the mare that was plaguing his mind. “She’s beautiful, polite, and the worst part is she’d probably go out with me to make me feel better if she wasn’t already with somepony.”

“That’s not true, Spike.”

“You want to bet?” Spike groused. “She’s generous to a fault, Rainbow. Most ponies don’t think much about it, but it’s true. She usually gives anyone a discount if they don’t have enough bits for a dress, and she’ll happily fix something up for a good friend or complete stranger. Usually she won’t charge for it if you don’t say anything.” He shook his head. “She’s the only pony in town that even pretended to try to give me a chance, even if she wasn’t really interested.” His head slumped once more to the ground as he cast his gaze to Rainbow Dash. “You remember back when I went on the Great Dragon Migration?”

Rainbow nodded. “Yeah, what about it?”

“Well, I meant it when I said you guys are family to me. I’ve lived my whole life being raised with ponies.” Rainbow opened her mouth to speak, but Spike continued. “I don’t regret it for a moment, but...sometimes I wish there were other dragons who lived among ponies. At least...at least then there would be the off-chance that I might find someone who would want to go out with me.” He closed his eyes, chuckling sadly. “Let’s face it, Dash, the only way I stand a chance of finding someone in Ponyville who find me attractive would be if I shrunk in size, grew fur, a mane, and hooves.”

Rainbow looked at Spike, her expression bordering somewhere between pity and anger. “So that’s it? You’re just going to throw in the towel, and sulk over this?” She was suddenly on her feet again and leaning close to his face, causing him to flinch.

“Well, no, but I just–”

“Good!” Rainbow practically shouted while the smallest of smirks appeared on her face. She poked a hoof at his chest as she continued. “You’re better than that, Spike! Shoot, you’re one of the coolest dudes I know! You’re funny, really strong, and you can build lots of cool stuff out of stone!” She flared out her wings a little as she continued, her smirk becoming a confident grin. “Not to mention that you can fly, breathe fire, and you’re pretty smart, too! I mean, next to Twilight you probably have the most books in all of Ponyville.”

Spike managed to smile a little, touched by her words. He didn’t want to call out her praise as a moot point, since all dragons were fairly strong and capable of breathing fire. Instead, he gave a small nod to her. “Thanks, Dash.”

Dash grinned proudly. “Just telling it like it is.”

They remained silent for a long time after that. Neither kept track of the time. Before either of them knew it, the moon was shining through the trees, casting a gentle light on the clearing.

“I...I guess I should probably head back, huh?”

“You know how Twilight gets,” Rainbow replied with a small smile.

Spike let out a quiet chortle. “Yeah, she can be a real worrywart.”

Rainbow got to her feet and stretched a bit. “Come on, we’ll walk back.”

Spike quirked an eyebrow as he got to his own feet. He scooped up the pile of gemstones with a wing and folded the appendage against his body, allowing him to carry the gems. “What, you don’t want to race or something?”

She gave Spike an annoyed look, rolling her eyes and frowning as she began her trek out of the clearing. “It’s late, and I am a little tired.”

“Alright, I’ll buy that excuse for now,” Spike laughed.

They made their way down a path leading out of the Everfree. The sound of crickets beginning their nightly chorus could be heard as a gentle wind blew through the thinning treeline. Within several minutes they had reached the edge of the forest.

“So, you going to be okay?”

Spike grunted while keeping his eyes ahead, looking towards the horizon of Ponyville. “Eventually. It’s not like I never thought about this happening, after all.”

Rainbow looked at the drake, noticing the frown playing at the corner of his lips. She wanted to say something to cheer him up, but she couldn’t really think of anything. As far as she knew, Spike had never dated before. Today probably didn’t help him feel much better about that ever happening, either.

The rounded shape of Spike’s home could be seen as they trekked over a hill. They noticed light pouring out from his two large windows.

Spike sighed. “Looks like Twilight decided to wait for me.” Rainbow could hear the amusement in his voice. “I hope she isn’t too upset.”

As they reached the front door of the house, a soft pink glow enveloped it as it swung open, revealing a distraught Twilight Sparkle. Her eyes widened as she laid eyes on Spike. “Spike!”

Spike was given no time to reply as Twilight wrapped both her forelegs around him as best as she could, giving him a hug. “I was so worried about you! I heard what happened at Rarity’s and I went looking for you, but nopony had seen you since earlier today, and then Pinkie and Fluttershy tried to look for you, but they didn’t have any luck either.” She looked up at him, her eyes shining with a few unshed tears. “I was worried that you had gone and run away...again.”

Spike’s chest tightened at the sight of Twilight on the verge of crying. He crouched down low as he could so his eyes were level with hers. “I’m sorry, Twilight. I just...well, I needed some time to myself.”

Twilight nodded. “I thought so...I just got worried. From what Rarity said you ran off all of the sudden. She...she found one of the flowers from your bouquet, and...well, she put two and two together.”

“Ungh...I knew it.” He ran a claw over his brow. “Please tell me she’s not still upset about it.”

“Well of course she is!” Twilight answered, her tone rising a little. “She’s always worried about you, Spike, even if she...well, doesn’t like you that way, she still loves you as a friend.”

Spike sighed, casting his glance towards Rainbow Dash. She just gave him a smile that said, ‘Told you so.’ and remained silent.

Twilight seemed to finally take note of Rainbow Dash, and smiled. “Thanks for the help, Rainbow Dash.” She looked back at Spike. “Where were you?”

“He was in the Everfree, just a little ways in, sitting in a clearing binging on gemstones.” Rainbow answered.

Twilight gave Spike a look that was both sympathetic and disapproving. “Spike, you know eating too many gemstones isn’t good for you. You need a balanced diet of fiber, grains, fruits, and vegetables as well.”

“Yeah, yeah, gemstones provide essential minerals for scale and bone growth, but fiber helps maintain a healthy body and fruits and vegetables have essential vitamins, so on and so forth...” Spike rolled his eyes and Twilight’s frown deepened. “Twilight, I just...look, if you were in my situation you’d probably understand more.”

“I...” Twilight’s frown vanished. “I guess so. Still, you’re going to have to cut back on your gem intake for a few weeks. How many did you eat?”

Spike mumbled a response.

“How many?”

“...a few dozen...”

“Spike!” Twilight groaned. “That’s it, no gems for the rest of the month.” She finally took note of the bulge beneath his right wing. “What are you holding in your wing?”

Opening his wing up, he dumped the small load of gems he had collected onto the ground. Twilight’s jaw went slack before she looked at the dragon in disbelief. “You said you had a few dozen, and still had this many left over?”

“Yeah...” Spike answered.

“Spike, do you know how many calories you probably took in today? Quartzite alone has more than enough for–”

“Don’t sweat it, Twi. I’ll just increase his workout program to burn those calories when he’s training with me,” Rainbow cut in. Spike shot her a look of betrayal while she just smirked.

Twilight’s expression brightened a little. “Well, I guess that is ultimately up to Spike. Still,” She leveled her gaze with his. “No more gemstones for the rest of the month. Are we clear?”

“Come on, Twilight, I’m perfectly fine with having a few gem–”

Are we clear?” Twilight repeated.

Spike heaved out a sigh. “Clear as crystal.”

“Good.” Twilight’s stern look vanished, being replaced with a small smile. “I’m glad you’re okay, though. Er...you are okay, right?”

“Physically? Yeah. I’m just going to need to some time to get over what happened today, I guess.” Spike shrugged his shoulders. “Are Rarity and Fancypants alright?”

“For the most part, yes. Rarity and Fancypants wanted me to let them know when you finally showed up again. I was thinking maybe you could–”


Twilight paused, and gave Spike a confused look. “No?”

“I know what you’re going to say, and I think for now it’s best that I don’t, at least for a little while.”

Twilight’s brow furrowed a little. “Spike...”

“Look, seeing her after that whole ordeal is only going to be awkward for me. Not to mention I probably ruined any plans they made for a date.” Spike shook his head. “Twilight, can’t you just tell them I’m back, and leave it at that?”

“If you don’t talk to her now, it’s just going to be more awkward later, Spike,” Rainbow said. “I mean, think about it. If someone you were good friends with had a crush on you and then went through something like that, wouldn’t you want to at least talk to them?”

“I guess...”

“Rainbow Dash has a point, Spike.”

Spike frowned and ran a claw over his spines. He groaned and sat down on his haunches. “Fine, first thing tomorrow, I’ll stop over to Carousel Boutique and talk to her. I’ll just tell her everything’s okay, and that she doesn’t need to fret over it anymore.”

“Spike...” Twilight shook her head.

“What? Should I apologize or something?”

“No, but don’t lie to her and say you’re alright when you’re obviously not. She’ll know you’re lying, and that could make things worse for her and you.”

“Yeah,” Rainbow agreed. “You know how she gets when she has something on her mind. It’ll bother her for days unless it’s resolved. You’ve seen how chaotic her workroom gets when she’s worried about something.”

Spike found himself nodding. A frustrated and worried Rarity made for a very messy boutique.

Rainbow looked at the clock hanging on the far wall. “I had better get going. I have to train Scootaloo tomorrow in acrobatics, and the weather’s supposed to be clear skies all day, so I’m working a full shift tomorrow keeping the skies cloud free.” She made her way towards the door. “Later Twilight, later Spike. Oh, and starting next week, we’re going to be running laps around Froggy Bottom Bog. Hope you’re ready.”

As soon as the pegasus was gone, Spike groaned. “Great, now I’m going to run myself into the ground and probably drown as well from all the training.”

“You’ll do fine, Spike. Rainbow’s told me that you’ve been doing a great job keeping up with her training.” Twilight gave him a reassuring pat on the hand. “You can’t just eat gems like that, though. It’s unhealthy. That’d be like me going out and having three bales of hay fries in one sitting.”

“...would you be able to actually do that?”

“Probably not, but I’m sure you could.” Twilight tapped her chin in thought. “A drake your age requires about 30,000 to 35,000 calories a day. You’re at a peak developmental period, so I can understand you having large meals. Still, a healthy dragon eats a very wide range of food as well. You need your proteins from legumes, nuts, and seeds, as well as your vitamins. You also need to keep your iron intake up. Judging from the amount of gems you dug up, you probably got enough iron from ingesting bits of soil while eating.” Her eyes lit up. “We should do some dietary experiments and see if–”

“Whoa, Twilight, hold off on science-mode for now, alright?” Spike gave her a grin. “We can do that another time.”

Twilight pouted a little, but conceded. “I guess. Still, can you imagine the amount of data we could publish? Oh, Spike, I could present a symposium in Canterlot or Manehatten!” She began to squeal a little. “Spike, promise me at some point this year you’ll help me? Please? Think of how much we would be contributing to draconic and equine society!”

Spike smiled, glad to see that Twilight was back to her usual self. Being worried and upset didn’t suit her in Spike’s eyes.

“Sure, I promise. We’ll have to set aside a few days a week. Maybe you can do some recordings on me before and after my training with Dash, too.”

Twilight’s eyes literally sparkled, and she gasped. “Yes, vital recordings and measuring the calories burned before, during, and after strenuous physical activity! Yes, yes, yes! Oh, Spike, this will be perfect! I know researchers haven’t had the opportunity to study these things yet! We’ll both leave an amazing mark in the Equestrian scientific community!” She giggled while dancing excitedly in place.

Twilight left shortly after, still beaming and giggling to herself. She gave Spike a light peck on the cheek and told him to get some sleep, and to make sure to visit Rarity tomorrow as soon as he could. Spike gave her his word that he would.

Now, he sat alone in his house, the only sounds coming from the nocturnal insects outside. Despite his talk with both Rainbow Dash and Twilight, he was still rather down in the dumps about the whole thing. Sure, talking to them had helped him a little, but it didn’t mean he was completely fine, either.

Maybe dragons aren’t meant to have relationships with ponies... Spike thought. I mean, would that even work? Physically?

Spike wouldn’t deny that, while he was a modern ‘gentledrake’, he still had physical needs like any other creature. He didn’t think of such things all the time, but he wouldn’t deny that Rarity held a physical attraction to him. In hindsight, he wondered that, if the situation had happened differently, and the two got together...would they even be able to engage in the more intimate activities that so many couples took part in?

He honestly doubted there were any books on sexual relations between ponies and dragons, and if there were, Twilight likely had none at the library. He didn’t think that sex was what a relationship ultimately boiled down to, not at all. He knew that it was usually one of the more enjoyable aspects of an intimate relationship, though. So, perhaps his current situation was for the best, considering the possible things that could go wrong if he and Rarity had gotten together.

He couldn’t help but ponder on the subject though, at least from a scholarly perspective. Could a physical relationship between a dragon and a pony be possible? He heard rumors that some areas in Equestria had isolated populations of pony-dragon hybrids. He wasn’t sure how much truth these rumors held, but it was definitely an interesting notion. Dragons and ponies, along with most other creatures in Equestria, had latent magic. While from a biologist’s point of view the idea of a dragon and a pony having healthy, viable offspring together was ludicrous, an arcane scientist would argue that it’s not entirely impossible. Magic has rules and limits, but it is able to do things that are otherwise impossible.

Yawning, Spike decided to call it a night. He pulled his futon mattress, quilt, and pillow out from their corner in the living area, and slumped down for some much needed rest. Tomorrow, yet again, he would have to have an important conversation with Rarity. Hopefully, this time he would be able to say what he wanted instead of running away.

Rarity had spent the better portion of the day prior moping and worrying about Spike. Fancypants, being the patient and understanding stallion that he was, tried his best to comfort her. He even offered to stay the night and take the guest room down stairs. He was still asleep, judging from the occasional snore she heard echoing down the hall in the otherwise quiet boutique.

Now, Rarity was sitting in the kitchen, a cup of tea beside her hoof as the morning sun rose over the sky. She had gotten very little sleep, but she wasn’t a stranger to all-nighters as it was. She might have gotten an hour or two of sleep, but once she was awake she tended to stay awake.

With it being rather early in the morning, she was rather surprised to hear a gentle knocking at the door. She gave herself a cursory look in a mirror hanging on the wall before walking to the door. Upon opening it, she let out a quiet gasp as she laid her eyes on none other than Spike.

“Spike?” She whispered loudly, surprise and relief laced into her words. “Darling, what are you doing up at this hour? It’s barely six in the morning. Shouldn’t you still be in bed?”

Spike was standing on his hind legs, staring at a spot on the ground and his claws fidgeted. “Um...I was hoping we could talk...y’know, about...well, yesterday?”

Rarity nodded. “Of course.”

She opened the door fully, and stepped aside so he could enter. She studied her friend as she closed the door behind him. Aside from the bags under his eyes, he appeared to be fine.

“I take it you couldn’t sleep much either, huh?”

Rarity managed to smile a little. “I’m afraid not. Fancypants is still sleeping in the guest room right now. I must have kept the poor dear up all night...”

“Yeah, about that...” Spike cleared his throat while scratching his head, his gaze still lingering on the floor. “I’m...sorry for making you worry like that. It was stupid, and selfish of me.”

Rarity’s smile drooped a little. “It wasn’t stupid or selfish of you, darling. Worrisome, yes, but not at all stupid or selfish.”

“So, you and Fancypants are still going to have your date, right? I didn’t ruin everything, did I?”

“Oh, no no, we still plan on going to Canterlot...”

Spike nodded. “Good, I...I would hate if I ruined all your plans with him. He’s...he’s a good stallion.”

A gentle hoof brushed against his knee. He looked down to see Rarity giving him a concerned look. “Spikey...you don’t think I’m angry with you, do you?”

“Well, maybe a little bit.”

“Spikey, I would never...” Her voice faded, and instead she placed both hooves on his knee. “Spike, look at me.”

He did. “I’m sorry...”

“Hush, darling.” She gestured with a hoof for him to lower himself back onto all fours. He did so, and found the mare standing right before him. “Please don’t think for a moment that I hate you for doing what you did. The truth is...I sort of knew about your crush. For...for several years, I suppose.”

“Yeah, I tried so hard to hide it, too.” Spike chuckled dryly. “I shouldn’t be surprised, though.”

“Darling, please don’t be like that.” She smiled a little as Spike’s emerald eyes fell upon her. “I’m not just saying this to make you feel better, Spike. You are, by far, one of my dearest friends. Ever since I met you, I couldn’t help but think to myself, ‘that little dragon will make someone very happy someday’.”

Spike sniffled a little.

“Spikey, I don’t want to lead you on. I...I don’t feel the same way for you. I care for you, and love you, but not like that. You’re my family, my friend, and I am incredibly grateful that you are a part of my life.”

Tears began to well up in Spike’s eyes. “You’re not making this easier on me, Rarity.” He didn’t seem angry, though. There were faintest creases of a smile on the corners of his lips, too.

Rarity felt her own vision beginning to blur. “I want you to be happy, Spike. I really do, but...I cannot give you what you’re looking for. It would be unfair of me to make you think that I had such feelings for you.” She shook her head slowly. “I wish there was a less painful way to do this. I know what heartbreak feels like, after all. I was your age, once upon a time.”

“Stop talking like that, Rarity. You’re still young.”

“Thank you, darling, but I mean what I say.” She placed her hoof on his cheek. “I’d rather have it hurt now instead of leading you on any further. I apologize for...for not saying anything sooner. I suppose I thought you’d grow out of it, in time.” She shook her head. “Although, the fact that I genuinely enjoy your company didn’t make bringing that point across any easier.”

“You do?”

“But of course, Spike!” She looked offended by his question. “I find it hard to believe that any decent pony could possibly dislike you, darling.”

“The same goes for you, Rarity.”

Rarity placed a hoof to her chest. “...such a gentledrake.” She took several steps back, putting a comfortable amount of space between them. “Are you going to be alright, Spike?”

“Yeah, in time.” He gave Rarity a guilty look. “How about you?”

“Yes, I will be. I’m just glad we could talk about this.”

“Yeah, me too...” He studied a claw before continuing. “So...are we still friends?”

“I would hope so,” Rarity said. “What happened yesterday doesn’t change anything, Spike. You’re one of my dearest friends. If you ever need somepony to talk to, don’t hesitate to look for me.”

“The same goes for you, Rarity.”

Rarity’s bottom lip trembled slightly, but she held onto her smile. “R-right, well...I imagine you have a long day of work ahead of you, don’t you? Have you had any breakfast yet? I’m sure I have a few emeralds stashed away somewhere for you...”

“Ah, actually, I’ve been put on a strict no-gemstones diet for the rest of the month,” He mumbled, just loud enough for Rarity to hear.

“Dear me, and why ever would you have to go on such a diet in the first place? I thought dragons are supposed to eat gems.”

“I kind of overate a bit last night. I ate more gems than I should have, and now I’m forbidden to eat any for awhile. Twilight’s orders.”

“Ah, then I suppose you have no choice but to follow it, don’t you?” She hummed in thought. “Hm...how about some muffins and jam? I know they’re not as filling, but the boysenberry jam I bought at market last week is simply divine.” She took a step back. “Now, you wait right here, and I’ll have two muffins for you in just a moment.”

“Rarity, really, it’s no big deal, I can just eat–”

“Ah ah,” Rarity cut him off with a wave of her hoof. “I won’t take no for an answer! You haven’t had the jam, so you don’t know what you’re missing, darling! I won’t be long.” With that, she disappeared into the kitchen.

Before Spike knew it, Rarity was walking out with a small tray of muffins floating beside her. She levitated the plate over to Spike, and he took it into his claws. He felt his stomach rumble at the sight of the two bran muffins that had been halved and covered in a generous amount of dark purple jam.

“See? I knew you’d be hungry,” Rarity teased.

“Haha, yeah, I guess so. Thanks, Rarity.” Spike took one muffin half and tossed it into his mouth. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the sweet, yet somewhat tart, flavor of the jam. “Wow, Rarity, where’d you get this jam?”

“Berry Punch was selling some of her family’s local preserves. She doesn’t do much farming herself, but she told me that her uncle and aunt own a fair amount of land outside of the Fillydelphia area. She told me the land’s been in the family for over six generations.” Rarity leaned a little close and spoke. “If you ask me, Berry’s probably a lot better off financially than she lets on with all of us. She probably moved to Ponyville to get away from all of the high-class living. At least, that’s what I’ve heard, mind you.”

Spike nodded. “Yeah, I think Ponyville’s got a few closet millionaires hiding around here, actually. Mr. Waddle told me once that he invested in the Rich family’s Barnyard Bargains stores back in Ponyville’s early years.”

Rarity’s eyes widened a fraction. “My word, yet you wouldn’t have noticed it at all with how simple of a lifestyle Mr. Waddle leads.”

Spike chuckled. “He told me he’s saving up his money for his grandchildren so they can go to college when they’re older.”

Spike quickly finished the muffins and let out a sigh. “Thanks, Rarity. Those were great.” He gave her a gracious smile and handed her the plate so she could take it in her magic. “So...”

Rarity lifted a hoof before he could continue. “There’s no need for more apologies, Spike. I forgave you the moment you arrived here.” She motioned for him to lower his head, and wrapped both her hooves around his neck. “Just promise me one thing?”

“Sure,” Spike replied.

“Don’t ever stop being the wonderful dragon that you are. Can you do that for me?”

“Just as long as you keep being the charming unicorn that you are in return.”

Rarity chuckled softly. “It’s a deal, darling.”

The two pulled away, and Spike let out a sigh as he looked out the morning sky. “Well, I better get going. Have to make sure the rest of that order gets out to Appleloosa today, then I have to get started on another order I just got in the mail. That dance club that opened up some time back requested about ten tons of granite for the foundation and walls of an expansion on their restrooms. Apparently the place is getting to be popular.”

“New dance club? Ah, you mean 2 Hot 2 Trot, don’t you?” Her face scrunched up a little. “Not the kind of place I would go to for a night out, but I suppose I’m more old fashioned.”

“Wouldn’t know, I haven’t been there myself.”

“Loud music, lots of alcohol, flashing lights, and promiscuity.” She sighed. “Oh well, the younger colts and fillies seem to enjoy the place.”

“Ah,” Spike chuckled. “That kind of place, huh? Well, they wanted to support local business so they went to me first. They heard that I’m the one to go to for building material.”

“Well, that’s certainly good news!” Rarity beamed. “Looks like your little business is getting a name for itself, isn’t it? First the new bank in Trottingham, then Appleloosa, and now a dance club!” She giggled a little as Spike blushed. “I daresay you’ll end up becoming one of those closet-case millionaires in Ponyville if things keep up like this.”

“Maybe. That’s a long way from now, but it can’t hurt to dream, I guess. I just hope I can last long enough to get to that point. It’s definitely not easy work, I’ll tell you that much.” He rolled his shoulders a bit and grunted as his muscles loosened a little. “I better get going, then. Say hi to Fancypants...and...well, y’know, that I’m sorry.”

“Enough of that, Spike. He understood everything that happened. I explained it all to him, and he’s not angry at all about that.”

“If you say so.” Spike turned towards the doorway. “Later, Rarity. You know where to find me if you need anything.”

“Tata for now, Spikey-Wikey.”

As soon as the door closed behind him, Rarity let out a deep sigh. She looked to the floor and smiled. He really has grown up, hasn’t he?

“Well, that takes a load off of my mind. I’m relieved to see that he’s in better spirits.” spoke a voice from behind Rarity.

“Oh, Fancypants, I’m sorry. Did we wake you up?”

Fancypants walked into the room, wearing a dark blue robe and his monocle. “Not at all, Rarity. I just overheard you two talking while I was getting up. I figured it would be best if I didn’t intrude.” He smiled at Rarity as he continued. “I’m happy that things are good between you two again.”

“Yes, Spike carries his heart at his sleeve...well, he would if he had sleeves, that is. The little darling is so thoughtful and sensitive. It scares me sometimes to think what might have happened had we not shown up to help him all those years back when he went on that Great Dragon Migration...”

“Ah, I remember you telling me about that,” Fancypants said with a nod.

Rarity smiled. “I meant what I said though. Whoever ends up winning his love and devotion is going to be lucky.”

Fancypants chuckled. “I think you might already qualify for that, don’t you think?”

Rarity shook her head. “No...well, yes, in a way, but nothing romantic.” She sighed. “As handsome and wonderful as he is, I’d be lying to myself if I dated him. He deserves someone who can love him just as passionately as he loves.”

“Indeed. Love is both tender and fickle, blind and misguided. Moves with the waves, stands among stone.”

“Well, someone’s being rather poetic,” Rarity giggled.

“A little excerpt from a poem by Waxing Crescent. She was a poet from olden times.”

“Waxing Crescent, you say?” Rarity tapped her chin for a moment before her face lit up. “Ah, yes, her! You should talk to Spike about her poems. He has a large book of her works at his house.”

“Is that so?” Fancypants seemed intrigued. “Well, he’s just the most interesting of drakes, isn’t he?”

“That he is,” Rarity agreed.

It was around two in the afternoon when Spike decided to take a break. He slumped down against a large oak tree, sighing as he let his aching muscles take a rest. He glanced at the large pile of rock he had accumulated in the past six hours. He had more than enough rock to finish the work order for the train station to Appleloosa, and had already made a headstart on the granite for the dance club in Ponyville.

“Whoa, someone’s been busy.”

Spike cracked open an eye to see Rainbow Dash hovering lazily before him. “Hey, Rainbow. I’m just taking a rest. I got my order for Appleloosa pretty much complete; just need to ship the last of those rocks over to the train station before five.”

“Need any help?”

Spike laughed a little. “No offense, Rainbow, but even Big Mac and Applejack couldn’t haul my usual workload. Unless you’ve got maybe one hundred or two hundred more pegasi with you, I don’t think you could pull that much weight.”

Rainbow opened her mouth to object, but the knowing smirk on Spike’s made her hold her tongue. She really had no room for argument. As athletic and fast as she was, if Applejack and Big Mac couldn’t help, she wouldn’t be able to either.


“I could pull the wagon with you.”

“Don’t you have weather duty right now?”

“Nah, skies have been clear all day. Apparently Cloudsdale’s behind on production this week. We were supposed have some cumulus clouds fly over about three hours ago, but we just got word from the Weather Factory saying the clouds won’t be going by until tomorrow. That’s a pain in my flank, because now we’ll have to have cloud-kicking duty all day tomorrow instead when we were supposed to have a light workload.” She sighed. “Whatever, nothing I can do about it without calling for a meeting with the weather committee, and that takes forever to get approved.”

Spike grunted and rose back to his feet. “Well, if you’re willing to help, I won’t object. I’m done breaking rocks for the day, but I need to pull this back to Ponyville.” He rolled his shoulders a few times, making a clear cracking sound as he sighed. “Right, there’s an extra harness on the wagon that you can put on. I want you to take front, though. I’ll haul the majority of the load from behind.” His expression became serious. “If you start feeling any kind of sharp pain, I want you to let me know immediately, got it?”

“No prob, Spike, I can–”

“I mean it, Rainbow. This is dangerous work, even for me. The only reason I can do this as often as I do is because I’m a dragon and have four times the muscle mass of a stallion.”

Rainbow was caught off guard by his tone. He wasn’t joking or smiling. She nodded meekly. “Yeah, I understand.”

Spike relaxed a little. “Good. I just don’t want you pulling a muscle, or worse, getting a hernia.”

Rainbow cringed at the thought of her muscles tearing. “Ouch. Has that happened before?”

“To me? No, I set limits for myself. The maximum load I can carry is twelve tons, and that’s a very high extreme for me. Usually I’m pulling between four and eight.”


Rainbow and Spike were soon tied to the large wagon that was piled with the five tons of gray stone. Spike began to pull at first with a loud grunt. The wheels creaked a bit before slowly rolling. Rainbow waited until Spike picked up some momentum before contributing what she could to the effort.

“Gah...man...this is...” Rainbow grit her teeth as they pulled the wheel over a small rut in the road. “I don’t think I...ever pulled...this much in my life...”

Spike gave a grunt of agreement. While he appreciated her willingness to help, she was barely contributing to the overall effort. Still, watching her try spurred him to work harder. He decided letting her help was a good idea.

“S-so...I heard from Fluttershy that you talked to Rarity earlier today...” Rainbow was already sweating heavily, blowing her bangs from her eyes every few seconds.

Spike grunted. “Yeah...we talked it over. I...I think we’ll–let’s get around that hole there so we don’t tip, turn right a little–I think we’ll be alright. She wasn’t angry, and while I’m...still...damn, I think I put more stone in here than I thought...” He pulled harder on the harness around his shoulders. His nostrils flared a bit as a few plumes of smoke escaped them. “We’re good, Rainbow. I’m a little bummed about what happened, but I’ll get over it.”

Rainbow sighed, though Spike wasn’t sure if it was one of annoyance or relief, seeing as they had managed to get onto relatively flat ground. “Well of course you’ll get over it, but how are you right now?”

Spike gave Rainbow a curious look. “Fine, for the most part. Like I said, a little bummed out, I mean, sometimes I get a little depressed, but that’s normal, right?”

“I guess, I wouldn’t know, really. I’m no expert at this dating stuff.”


Rainbow looked over her shoulder. “What do you mean by ‘really’?”

“Nothing, I guess I just thought that with how popular and cool you are in Ponyville that you’d have gone out with at least a few ponies.”

He knew that he had said something wrong as Rainbow faced ahead, her cheeks a little red. “S-so what if I’m popular? Doesn’t mean I have to date, does it?”

“Whoa, I wasn’t teasing, Rainbow Dash. I was just surprised, that’s all.”

“Yeah, well...” Rainbow looked back to him again. “I did date...a little...”

Spike smiled. “Anyone I know?”

“I went out with Thunderlane for a little while back when I first moved here from Cloudsdale. It didn’t work between us, but we broke up on good terms.” She shook her head. “A week later he and Cloud Kicker dated, that went on for a month. Before I knew it, he had dated about two dozen mares in Ponyviille.”

“No kidding?” Spike blinked a few times. “Wow, never took him to be that kind of stallion.”

“Don’t think too badly of him, Spike. He’s not really like that anymore. He’s been going steady with Flitter for over two years now. That’s longer than any other filly he’s dated, as far as I know at least.”

Spike decided not to delve any further on the subject, but he was still surprised by Dash’s lack of dating. Sure, he knew she wasn’t much of a romantic filly. She was a fairly attractive mare, he wouldn’t lie about that. He had a hard time imagining that she didn’t have at least a small group of ponies lined up to ask her out on a date, though.

That didn’t really bother him. Even if she was lying, and did have three dozen suitors awaiting her, he was one of her close friends. That was something that put him in a whole other league above a random stallion or mare that she might start dating.



Rainbow groaned. “I tried calling your name for the past minute. You were spacing out almost as bad as Twilight does when she has one of her all-nighters.”

He grinned sheepishly. “Oh, sorry. What’s up?”

“I asked what you’re going to do about that dinner reservation at that one fancy restaurant?”

Spike pondered that a bit. He supposed he could just cancel it, but that would require him to mail a letter. That would take about two days to be received if he mailed it out today, which wouldn’t work considering that tomorrow was Friday. He could just not go to Canterlot, but if Princess Cadance found out, she’d probably feel upset or insulted, considering she managed to talk the restaurant into having it where he didn’t have to pay for anything. He could send a letter to Celestia and ask a castle official to send The Cypress the news of his cancellation, but that would just create more problems and unneeded sympathy...

“I dunno. I guess I’ll just invite Twilight and we’ll make the most of it. She’d probably like to see her parents and brother, anyway.”

Rainbow smiled. “Yeah, probably.”

Another thought crossed Spike’s mind. Maybe...?

“Unless...Rainbow, would you like to go to The Cypress instead?”

“Me?” Rainbow almost tripped as she looked back to him. “Why me all of the sudden?”

Spike grinned. “Think of it as a thank you for dealing with me ever since you started teaching me how to fly. That and...for helping me out last night.”

“Ugh, Spike, I told you, that’s what friends–”

“Then consider this a part of what friends do for one another,” Spike interrupted. “Besides, the Wonderbolt exhibit is currently on display at Canterlot Public Museum.”

“It is? Omigosh, seriously? Why didn’t you say so?!” She squealed in delight. “Wait, what day is tomorrow?”


“Oh man! Do I have to wear a fancy dress and all that junk?”

Spike chuckled. “You don’t have to. I was going to have my scales polished by Aloe tomorrow, but nothing besides that.”

Rainbow nodded, then fell silent. The two continued hauling the wagon down the road. The rooftops of Ponyville’s residency could be seen creeping over the distant hills. It would probably be another half an hour before they reached their destination, but they were making good time with the idle conversation. Spike hardly noticed the weight he was carrying anymore, and Rainbow appeared to be just fine.

“Huh...what time were you going to head to Canterlot?”

“I was thinking about arriving there around three in the afternoon. The reservation’s for seven at night.”

“Hm...” Rainbow looked to the ground for a moment, then gazed up at the sky. “I guess I could ask off for tomorrow. Cloud Kicker does owe me for covering two of her shifts last month when she was visiting her folks in Baltimare...”

“No pressure, Rainbow. I can understand with work and everything.”

Rainbow seemed to really be considering this with the way she was chewing on her lower lip. Eventually she nodded. “Sure, why not? You can give me a real tour of Canterlot, and not just the castle.”

“Deal,” Spike grinned. “I’m going to warn you, though, a lot of the ponies are just like the ones at the Gala.”

“Ugh, great.” Rainbow grimaced. “Just as long as I don’t have to wait in line at the Wonderbolts exhibit, I’ll deal with it.”

Spike smiled. “I doubt it’ll be that busy; it’s a pretty big museum, and I’ve never had to wait in a line to get in. The only museum larger than the Canterlot Public Museum is the Equestrian Museum of Arcane and Natural History in Manehatten, and that’s saying something. We’ll be fine.”

“Cool. Want me to stop by your place around two-thirty, then?”

“Yeah, we can leave and be to Canterlot by three. We should be able to make the flight in under twenty minutes.”


Spike and Rainbow returned to idle chat after that, sharing stories about their day-to-day work. It was small talk, but neither minded that much. Despite what had happened to Spike recently, things were brightening up again, if only a little.

Even if he wasn’t dating Rarity, he still was her dearest friend. He was ahead of his schedule for work orders, and if things kept up at the rate they were, he’d be getting paid for two decently-paying commissions this month, giving him a healthy amount of bits to put away. Now he and Rainbow Dash had made plans to see the Wonderbolts exhibit, and have a great dinner to boot.

Things were starting to brighten up for him after all.

End of Chapter Two

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