• Published 26th Jul 2016
  • 4,052 Views, 189 Comments

Sick Little Ponies (And One Dragon) - Estee



Seven sick Ponyville residents. Seven short stories. Six Bearers. One dragon. (Bring your own hoof sanitizer.)

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Spike: Nothing To Worry About

The little dragon, asleep in his basket on the loft floor, could not hear the two unicorn mares talking. Their tones and volume were being deliberately kept low, for they did not wish to disturb him. But still, they stayed close, because they did not wish to leave him just yet either. And they talked.

"...so when he just started to -- sway like that, I loaded him into the cart, put him under a blanket, and got him back here as quickly as I could, Twilight. It was so early, and the streets were so empty, that I do not believe anypony even saw us." The uniquely-accented voice was heavily weighted with concern, and a little bit more. "I briefly thought of trying a doctor, but -- well, after what happened last time, with those two -- I felt you should be the first resort. And also that you had to know before anypony else did, of course, as his sister. But first and foremost... that perhaps it had happened before. That you would know how to help him. And..." Rarity sighed. "At first, I thought he was just sweating. I asked him to wipe down before handling any more of my fabrics. How much more foolish could I have been, Twilight? It took me full seconds to remember that Spike does not sweat, never sweats, and by the time I realized that, he was beginning to sway, and he wasn't making any sense --"

The smaller mare sighed. "Rarity -- I know you're worried, and I know it's hard, especially after the last time. But he'll be okay. He's just a little sick."

A slow breath. "Forgive me for asking this: I understand that you would know better than anypony, but -- you are sure? He will recover?"

This triggered a deeper sigh. "You're forgiven, Rarity. If there's any emotion I know I don't have to put in a letter to the Princess, it's this one. Being worried about somepony... when you don't understand what's going on, and you don't know if there's anything you can do at all..."

Twilight sat down. Her eyes sought the floor, and her gaze stayed there.

Carefully, "The growth spurt -- it wasn't the first problem, was it?"

And softly, "He's the only one. The only one right now, anyway. I researched a lot over the years. There's been other dragons who lived with ponies, here and there. Every three generations or so. But none raised by ponies starting from the hatching on, not until him. And the ones who stayed... they didn't exactly write down books of their medical lore. So every time he got sick, I'd gallop to the Archives when I knew there wasn't anything there, I even tried to find some elder dragons once during second year when I really got freaked out, but the Princess stopped me and -- she did the right thing, I was about ten body lengths from the cave, but... I worry, Rarity. I'm always going to worry, because I don't know enough and there may not be any way to learn. Whenever he gets sick, I get scared..."

His sibling took a slow breath.

"...except this time. Because this is the second time he's had this. Which means I know what has to be done."

Rarity blinked. "Tell me, Twilight. Please, if there's any way in which I might help..."

Twilight's gaze came up, and she smiled. Just a little. "The funny thing is that you're more qualified to help than anypony."

A brief pause, and then "Details, please?"

"He needs to eat topaz. That'll speed the recovery. There was no book which knew what to do about this -- but the first time he caught it, his body did. About twelve hours after he started dripping, he woke up with a craving for topaz. And the more of it he ate, the better he felt. The problem is -- it has to be pink topaz."

Rarity frowned. "That is an issue. Topaz on its own is just about clear: the colors come from impurities in the soil and rock around it. The conditions for pink topaz... they are not common, Twilight, and I have no specimens of that particular gem in my stockroom at the moment. However..." and the frown inverted "...I do possess certain knowledge on where we might look. And should that fail, there are sellers we could contact. But as getting a shipment might take decidedly more time than a search... yes, I am more than happy to assist. However, the area I am thinking of is well away from the Dogs' warren, and my best digger is currently indisposed. I do not believe I can coax substitutes so far out under Sun, which means the unearthing process... oh, dear. Simply getting to them..."

Twilight shook her head. "It's not a problem. I'll just come with you and bring something I can push into the dirt."

Carefully, "Should we both be leaving him? That dripping..."

"He'll sleep for a while. Hours. I've been through this before, Rarity. And he's only a little bit sick."

The designer slowly exhaled -- and then took three times that amount of atmosphere back in. "Then -- what is that fluid coming off him? For I know it is not sweat."

"It's actually why he doesn't sweat." The tones immediately shifted into more of a lecturing cadence. "As near as I can work out... his skin normally secretes the fluid in microscopic amounts, and the scales absorb it, just about instantly. It's part of what gives them their luster -- and it might be all of what makes him fireproof. Once the scales absorb it, they're just about completely immune to heat. It's partially a conjunctive effect with the composition of the scales themselves: I tried putting some of the fluid on things the last time, and it made them heat-resistant -- but it's also sort of harsh on a lot of materials. It doesn't do anything to pony fur or flesh, but it's -- really nasty with binding glue. I thought I could protect some books, and..." She winced. "...I got the fines paid off. Eventually."

"And now, with his being sick?"

"I think his body is overproducing as some part of trying to regulate his temperature. It's hard to say, and I wish I knew more, I wish, but... it's harmless, as long as he doesn't touch the wrong things. He's going to be kind of dopey when he wakes up, he'll really be out of it for a while, almost like he's drunk. But he'll want topaz, and after he eats enough -- he'll be better. And the faster we can find pink topaz, the sooner that'll happen."

Rarity nodded, forced herself to present the outer appearance of relaxation. "Then let us begin. We can check the local shops on our way to the fringe: I do not expect to find anything, but if there's any chance we might be able to leave a portion by his basket, we should investigate it. Shall we?"

"Yes."

They began to move towards the ramp. Spike, still asleep, shifted in his basket. The clear, slightly brimstone-scented fluid soaked into the sheets.

"Twilight... forgive me for worrying, please, but it is Spike, and -- I do understand your fears, after the last time and today alike. But such events will trigger concern within me, and --"

"-- it's okay, Rarity. This time, it's okay." Twilight smiled. "There's nothing to worry about."


When it had originally happened, he'd slept for nearly half a day. He didn't remember that, really: he'd been rather young, and while not all of his earliest memories were lost, anything viewed through the fog of illness turned into an indistinct haze. But because he'd been so young at the time... his body hadn't had the same level of strength it did now. A younger dragon had wriggled in a smaller basket while Sun was moved entirely across the sky.

A somewhat more mature one opened his eyes.

He sat up. Rivulets of fluid ran down his scales, which were unable to absorb the unexpected bounty.

"Topaz," he muttered.

After a few moments, Spike managed to stand up, began to make his way towards the kitchen. The tip of his tail sagged to the floor, and the world's thinnest river trailed in its dragging wake.

"Topaz?" Spike asked the world as he reached the miniature kitchen, pulled up a stool so he could begin rifling through cabinets --

-- unfocused eyes stared at where his claws were gripping the wood. At how the shade of the wood was steadily darkening.

Dim memories flickered, and Twilight-taught priorities shifted.

"Don't touch books," he reminded himself. "Mustn't touch books. Not without dry hands."

He glanced behind him, through the open door and into the ground floor of the sister-free library. Lots of books. Too many ways to wind up touching them.

"Tissues."

The kitchen was carefully ransacked, with dark clawprints displaying the exact ordering of the procedure through their current level of dampness. No topaz. Also, which seemed worse, no tissues.

"Tissues?"

Spike tried to think. It wasn't easy. The haze inside his brain seemed to have been joined by a small fire, the sort of thing where he just wanted to curl up next to it in a comfortable basket and rest for a while. But he wasn't going to do that, because books were important and wet hands would damage books. He needed tissues, because Twilight would want him to use tissues, and so he had to get tissues. There were places in town where tissues could be found. He only had to think of one...

He stood still for a few minutes. A small puddle began to form around his walking claws.

The little dragon nodded to himself.

"Tissues," he decided, and left the library.


It had been a hard morning for Roseluck. But then, they all were.

For starters, Sun had been raised, and that was hardly a certainty. In fact, in the time since the Nightmare, she had often found it necessary to wake up a little early and -- check. Roseluck owned several clocks which she felt had been properly synchronized to the seasonal schedule, and if Sun was even a second off, it meant something disastrous might be happening with the Princess right now, something surely much worse than a mere momentary distraction caused by a courier, and she would begin to scramble for the door, desperate to alert everypony about the horrible, horrible -- and then Sun would come up.

After that, there was the weather to consider. Yes, it was regulated, but the teamwork which created that regulation was being led by Rainbow Dash, and how could that be anything less than begging for disaster, at least in those moments when the coordinator wasn't actually setting one up? And not only that, but Ponyville was surrounded by a wild zone, which occasionally sent its own air currents into town, and who knew what those might do? Why wasn't Rainbow stopping it? How could she just fall asleep on a cloud when a responsible pony would be continually patrolling the borders, searching for the smallest suspect gust, because Ponyville was surrounded by a wild zone. Just like every other settled zone in Equestria (but for those with the misfortune to be bordered by water and thus put everypony within at risk of drowning), all of which were sadly lacking in their efforts to enforce true security, and seriously, if it wasn't for having found her friends, who understood, Roseluck would have left a long time ago.

And today, there were insect infestations. Or rather, there weren't, at least not that she knew about, and that just might have been the worst of all possible things. The most recent issue of Proper Thought (which had contained a truly outstanding article: They Want You To Think You're Paranoid, which the Flower Trio had eagerly devoured -- by eating it after reading, to keep it away from them) had ended on a teaser: Coming Next Moon: Fifteen Insect Infestations Which May Be In Your House Right Now! And it hadn't said what any of them were, which meant that she, like her friends, had been inspecting her residence with snout as close to the floor as she dared, afraid to fall asleep because that was when they crawled on you, she'd gotten out her Hoovmat Suit (the most recent, and thus only the intact one) and tried to sleep in that, but there was always the chance of her house being infested with some previously unknown species of magical bug which just happened to be invisible and had the ability to phase through Hoovmat Suits, especially if you lived in Ponyville and had to deal with -- well, Ponyville. So Roseluck hadn't slept much, mostly due to all the little crawling sensations along her skin which were in no way produced by paranoid twitches which forced her fur to lie against the grain within a confining, fast-disintegrating Hoovmat Suit.

But it was time to head for work, where the worst thing which probably might happen was that one of her flowers would grow a giant bulb of a head, start speaking, and order her to bring it ponies to eat. She'd had a dream about that once, which had involved an unusual amount of singing.

Roseluck reluctantly shed her Hoovmat suit, or at least what was left of it: she hated doing so, but wearing it while working had an oddly detrimental effect on business. Took one last check of Sun through her heavily-curtained window (still raised), inhaled a suspicious sniff of the air (too wild), and took the greatest risk of her life, the one she went through just about every day when the Trio wasn't huddled together waiting for The End. She went outside.

And the dragon was right there.

The dragon scared her. Well, of course it scared her: it was a dragon. What Roseluck didn't understand was why everypony else wasn't scared. It breathed fire. It had those things on the ends of what should have been forelegs, and they weren't hooves. It stood -- well, the only other entity in town who would stand like that for any real period of time was Lyra, who was double-jointed in a way which had made Roseluck decide the composer was probably a monster in disguise and so she was just waiting for the imposter to slip. And some moons ago, it had -- gotten bigger. Much bigger. For a while. And sure, everypony in town had seen the Princess when she came to explain things, but how far could you trust somepony who controlled Sun with her mind, especially when you knew (or at least had read some interesting stories about, none of which ever matched each other and every last one of which was absolutely true) what had happened to the one who moved Moon? Everypony else had forgiven the dragon for something which supposedly wasn't his fault -- but not Roseluck. Roseluck was keeping an eye on him. From a safe distance.

It turned. It looked at her.

Its scales were slick. Fluid ran between them in thin lines, dripped off his claws, soaked the ground around him. The dirt absorbed the brimstone-scented stuff. Two of the cobblestones seemed to be smoking.

Hazy eyes blinked. Drops of fluid flew off its eyelids, and one came within six body lengths of hitting her.

The mouth opened. She could see the predatory teeth, strong enough to bite through gems. A mouth which opened in order to flame.

It made a sound.

And Roseluck did the only thing any pony of sense possibly could have done.


Spike stared after the screaming mare as she raced away at full gallop. Blinked in confusion. Frowned a little.

"...tissues?" he repeated to the just-about-absent party. It didn't seem to change anything. He thought about it as best he could, then decided he knew why, and corrected it just before she completely vanished.

"Please?"


Sound the alert! For the alert always needed to be sounded, especially when you lived in Ponyville and only two others usually had the intelligence to realize that alerts needed to be sounded at all. So Roseluck raced to their houses first, although she took care about her duties and made sure to call out warnings all along the way. But once she'd reached them and explained everything she knew (which took about two seconds) and everything she believed (an additional three crucial minutes), there was a Trio of ponies putting the settled zone on lockdown. She would take one half of Ponyville, Daisy could cover the other, and Lily Valley would go directly to the police because of all those among the Flower Trio who regularly went to the police in the name of sounding alerts (every last one of them), she was the one they had the most trouble kicking out in a hurry. But in this case, they might actually listen because it was the dragon and everypony remembered what had happened the last time, even if most of them had stupidly decided to forgive it.

So Roseluck raced down the streets. She paused to perch on fountains and statuary and helpful soapboxes and called out the alarm. And ponies... well, some of them ignored her, because ponies learned from experience, not from helpful magazines and worried discussions of the long-term detrimental brain-injuring effects from Sun and Moon control that went on deep into the night. But others paused, listened to see what it was all about this time, and yes, a few of them laughed -- all right, perhaps more than a few -- but the fact that it was the dragon gave a number pause. Because something had happened with the dragon once, and that meant things could happen again.

It meant ponies were listening. And that hardly ever happened. There might even be a chance to save the town, if only Lily had some luck with --

-- and there she was. Along with an officer.

Roseluck immediately jumped down from the fence, began to explain what she'd seen, as the first pony witness to the horror. Told the officer all about the hazy eyes and open mouth and fangs and the fluid, along with the flames and the slashing claws and the roars which had started to enter the event around the third time she'd talked about it, which meant that her traumatized mind was trying to protect her by providing the memory in small portions, and Roseluck was grateful for that. And of course she also had to mention the threat which the dragon had made to her very life, by declaring it had issues.

The officer seemed to be listening. Yes, listening with a rather dubious expression on her face -- but listening...

Another pony galloped up, an earth pony mare whom Roseluck had never seen before, went straight for the officer.

"My fence!" the new mare cried. "He -- my fence...!"


Spike frowned at the painted wood, idly traced a claw along a fresh portion.

There was a brief, strong smell of something very close to turpentine. And then the pastel blue line discolored into an equally pastel green.

He giggled a little, sat down in front of the fence, and idly drew patterns for a while. Most of them wound up looking like flowers.


"ACID!" the new mare cried out. "Acid at his touch! Why didn't anypony tell me there was a dragon in town? There aren't any dragons in any other settled zone! I never would have come here! I'd leave right now, but I can't go back there to pack when there's a dragon who secretes acid...!"

"And you're sure about this?" the officer said. "Because... look, you're new, I understand that. And --" she took a quick, rather odd glance at Lily and Roseluck "-- in this case, it's a little easier when it comes from somepony -- new. But... acid?"

"YES! Please, you have to stop him, before he touches a pony...!"

The officer took a breath.

"Right," she said, mostly to herself. "So there's something happening. I'll rally the station and get somepony on official town crier duty."

"...y-you," the new mare stammered, "...d-don't even have a town crier?"

The officer sighed. "It's usually a volunteer position. Nopony approach Spike --"

"-- who?"

"-- and we'll get on it. No interference, no attempts to stop him, and nopony should touch him. I'll see if anypony can find his sister --"

"-- two?" the new mare screamed. "There's two dragons in this town? At least? How about their parents? Do they have any other siblings? Why isn't there any warning posted? What kind of settled zone are you running here? How can anypony stand to live in a place like --"

"-- and we'll get on it," the officer forcefully repeated. "Please, miss, if you'll just let us..."

The new mare's knees gave out, one at a time, and she sagged to the ground.

The officer looked down at the softly-hued white and pink mare. Turned to Lily and Roseluck.

"You two..." and looked as if she was rejecting any number of words before settling on "...know what to do with a near-faint. Probably better than anypony in town. Take care of her?"

They nodded.

"Good. I'll go tell the station." And she left.

Carefully, Roseluck knelt down next to the new arrival, and gently said, "What's your name?"

"P-Phalae."

"Phalae," Roseluck smiled, and saw Lily do the same. "I think you and I are going to be really good friends."


The station was... active.

"Anypony got eyes on Twilight?" the chief asked.

"Can't find her. Or Rarity. We may be down two Bearers, and that's just the ones we know about. Luna kick it, why did it have to be the librarian gone this time..."

Worriedly, from a junior officer, "Those are the two he spends the most time around. They might have been --"

"-- don't think about it that way," the chief broke in. "Not until we've got evidence. Maybe they're looking for the solution and didn't tell anypony else."

"Without the others?"

"That's what we're trying to confirm."

Fur flew. So did several piles of paperwork, at least until the sudden wind current dissipated enough to drop it.

"All right, that's our flight moving for the cottage now. Who's searching the clouds?"

"It's her naptime. Who says she's using a cloud?"

"It's our best chance. Take it. And then go to the usual trees. How are we doing on those shield spells?"

"It's only been a few moons. Do you really expect us to find somepony in the precinct who can learn a shield working in a few moons?"

"I thought you were working on learning --"

"-- do I look like a librarian to you?"

"You're a stallion. You're navy blue. You're --"

"-- yeah, that's kind of my point. So just keep placing the physical barricades."

"Against something that breathes fire and just picked up an acid touch?"

"You've got a better idea?"

"Finding his sister."

"So keep going with that. Where is he now?"

"According to our last scout, he's still moving down Friesian Avenue. He's a little... smaller than what the Trio said. And --"

"-- his size may be fluctuating. Remember, do not approach. Celestia stomp it, the flames would have been bad enough... So he's pretty much going in a straight line?"

"Yes."

"All right. We can't assume he'll keep that up, but just for the sake of putting up a few more useless barricades, if we project that out for a while..."

A map was found. Quills were activated in the name of law enforcement.

They all stared at the results for a while.

"It's possible," one concluded. "We don't know what he wants right now. But last time, he got greedy. And if it's things he's after again..."

The chief nodded.

"Get some ponies there. Get the useless barricades up. Find casters with some decent strength, pegasi who can aim. I don't want to hurt him, not unless we know he's a threat --"

"-- but you heard -- and we saw, he's acting --"

"-- even with an extra witness involved, this still started with the Trio. One time, that postal mare accidentally dropped some envelopes on Daisy which were exactly the wrong shade of blue, and I got to spend three hours trying to convince her that the sky can't actually fall. And in the end, she told me I was covering it up. Just because something's happening doesn't mean it's what they say is happening. We don't hurt him unless he makes a move. Not Spike. Clear the streets and shops if those three didn't do it already, give him a clear path to where we can intercept him at the potential goal, get our forces ready, find the Bearers, and find Twilight. But unless we have proof that he's going after ponies -- we let him make the first move."


The streets were oddly empty. Spike hadn't truly noticed. He was focused on his goal. Move forward. Take care of the important thing. And, every so often, draw flowers. Drawing flowers was sort of fun.

He briefly paused in front of a jewelry store. For the second time that day, a head poked into the shop and asked a quick question.

"Topaz?"

The empty establishment provided no response. He sniffed the air.

"No topaz..."

Well, it wasn't much farther to the true goal now. He pushed onwards. And behind him, the little trench dug by lowered tail tip absorbed fluid, and that faint smell of brimstone filled the air, he walked and he dripped and he blinked away excess drops, and he thought about what he had to do, because it was hard to think of much else.

There seemed to be a rather large number of ponies up ahead, especially when compared to the almost none he'd been seeing recently. Maybe they could help, especially since they were in front of where he had to be.

Spike advanced.


"We've got eyes on him," a younger officer called out. "Size is normal: repeat, size is normal."

"Don't trust that!" Roseluck gasped. (She and the rest of the Trio had moved to the thickest concentration of police, as that seemed the safest place to be. Also, she was the only pony who knew just what was happening and the more she thought about it, the more she seemed to know.) "It could change at any second! And you can see it now, can't you? The dripping..."

And from behind them both, a strong stallion voice expressed an somewhat exasperated "Officers, I understand your concern. And I know it's a public street, even when it's front of a private establishment, so I can't ask you to leave. But the twelve of you, along with your guests, are completely blocking my entrance, and we're not even sure anything's wrong."

"It's him!" Roseluck cried out. "You can see it's him! Just like last time!"

With the most calm currently available in the settled zone. "The last time involved a great deal more mass."

"You have to listen --"

"-- the same way I had to listen when you told me that pulling my complete stock of imported avocados was the only way to prevent our brains from being consumed by avocado weevils."

"YES!"

"Which don't exist."

"That's what they want you to think!"

"...they?" Phalae quivered.

Roseluck found the strength to smile. "Don't worry. We'll teach you. Before they can get to you and make you think they don't exist."

Weakly, "...oh... that's... nice."

"All right," the police chief said. "I can see the liquid now. He's dripping all over the place. That's new. And it's... having an effect on parts of the street. But not all of it. And it's really not acting like acid. I'm seeing a little smoke from where it's hitting flint, but that's it. And he looks..."

She frowned.

"...kind of like he's got a fever. Like he's not really focused right now. Almost drunk."

"He's a dragon!" Roseluck protested. "They don't get hot! And he can't get drunk, you remember about the drinking contest, the other pony went into a coma and --"

"-- the other pony," the chief slowly said, "slept for the majority of three days, mostly waking up to find a bathroom, not always in time. And --" another long look at it "-- it's like he's sweating."

"They don't do that either!"

The police chief turned to look at her for a moment. "How do you know?"

In a desperate rush because it was getting closer, "Because he's a dragon and if you don't get hot, you can't sweat and you'd only have a fever if you get sick, he's a dragon so he can't get sick, you have to attack before he reaches us, it's the town's only chance, he's not sick..."

The chief's entire body spun. Her snout was the width of three tail strands away from Roseluck's. Hot breath blasted into the earth pony's nostrils.

"How do you know?"


So many ponies! Spike smiled, altering the flow of several facial rivers in the process. With all those ponies, surely somepony would be able to help! And -- his focus snapped back into the singular -- the right pony. Already there. In front of the place, because he was a very considerate pony and knew Spike needed help. He was all about helping, wasn't he? Even for a fee.

Oh... the fee...


The dragon reached towards his right hip.

And Roseluck screamed.

"HE'S GOT A --"

"Nopony move!"

The others officers froze, responding to the order of their chief. Horns dimmed. Corona levels dropped. Hooves were motionless, waiting just above the surface of the cloud.

The little dragon's claw tip poked against an especially large, dome-like scale on his right hip, tilted it away from his body. Another tip flicked against the hollow interior.

Shyly, he held the object high.

"Officers?" the store's owner said. "It's a public street. And as a member of the public -- I'm going to use it."

"Don't --" a young officer started --

"-- exactly. Don't stop me."

The middle-aged light brown earth pony stallion stepped around the barricade. Slowly, he trotted forward, ignoring every order and attempt at clutching his safely-curled tail between desperate teeth, not to mention the sound of four mare bodies attempting to impact the ground. And he approached the little dragon.

"Yes?"

The claws elevated a little more. All of the fluid ran away from the object being held, leaving it perfectly dry.

"Tissues?" Spike asked, and offered the golden bit.

Mr. Rich smiled down at him.

"Ah," he said. "Yes. Just a moment, please..."

Spike nodded. Mr. Rich took the bit between his teeth, turned, and trotted back to the store. Spike sat down in the street to wait, patiently humming a little tune.

The officers stared at him. Then at Mr. Rich as he went inside and, in less than two minutes, came back out, the bit replaced by a large box. The businesspony trotted into the street, dropped the package in front of the walking claws.

"Your tissues, sir," he said.

"Thank you," Spike politely replied.

"You're quite welcome."

"Can't touch books without tissues," Spike explained. "Not when I'm sick."

Mr. Rich nodded, then glanced back at the barricade. The frozen ponies behind it.

"I'm taking him home," he said. "Should anypony spot his sister, please inform her that he's with me. She's likely on a medicine run, for whatever medicine might be suitable. Until then, I'll keep an eye on him. And -- Ms. Roseluck..."

Who immediately screamed again. "Sick dragon! We've got a sick dragon! Why isn't anypony doing something? We've got to --"

His nostrils briefly flared and somehow, it was enough to stop her.

"Avocado weevils," he snorted, and returned his attention to Spike. "May I walk you home, young sir?"

Spike thought about it. "Okay." He proudly picked up the box. "Topaz?"

"That's your medicine?" The little dragon nodded. "Regretfully, I don't have much of a jewelry department. Maybe when we get you home."

Another nod.

Mr. Rich smiled. And they walked down the street together, heading for the library.


It was two days later.

"So here it is," Twilight said as the field-surrounded scroll floated onto the police chief's desk. "When it comes to illness, that's a list of everything he's ever had since the day he was hatched. Every symptom, every treatment we were able to find -- everything. It doesn't mean there won't ever be something new, but that's what I know about and -- what I guess everypony else should have known about too. I'm sorry, I am, but he slept for nearly half a day the first time, and --"

"-- it's all right," Chief Miranda sighed. "You didn't think of it, even after what happened -- but I didn't think to ask, either."

"So what happens now?" Rarity quietly inquired. "Will there be any charges?"

The officer's lips quirked. "For 'Seeking a box of tissues with intent to pay for them'? No. I'm going to try and get the Trio on inducing a riot again, but Ms. Wishes' father is a very good lawyer who truly loves his daughter -- for some reason. We'll see if he can get them off again. I'm expecting a defense of 'dragon panic,' and I'm expecting to openly laugh on the witness stand when I hear that. A lot."

"I'm sorry," Spike quietly said, just barely visible in front of the desk. "I didn't mean to --"

"-- get sick?" Miranda asked. "And who does? You're feeling better now, Spike, and nothing bad happened. That's what matters. All I want you to do is what every citizen of Equestria should do after they've been falsely accused. Go home, talk it over with your family and friends, try to feel better, and -- if you can -- don't think about it any more than you have to. This is over."

"You're sure?" Twilight carefully asked. "Completely?"

"Well," Miranda reluctantly admitted, "not with the Trio. Not as long as they live here, not while they're addicted to their fear. But when it comes to having them try to rally the town just because there's a sick little dragon trying to do some shopping, and trying to convince us to stop him..."

She adjusted her position on the bench, smiled.

"...I'd say there's nothing to worry about."

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