• Published 12th Nov 2016
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Grief is the Price We Pay - Scyphi



Spike thought he could get them to trust and befriend Thorax. But they didn't.

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Colder

It felt colder in the cave.

Of course, Spike already knew it would be cold in the icy cavern, having set foot into it plenty of times before just that same day. To try and offset that now, he and Thorax had pieced together a small fire that they had positioned themselves around, each sitting on the side opposite from the other. Spike had lit it with his firebreath while Thorax had cast a spell with his changeling magic that would keep the fire going without consuming all of its fuel for, hopefully, up to triple the normal time. It resulted in a curious magical fire consisting of flames that were both the emerald green of the little dragon’s firebreath as well as the cyan blue of Thorax’s magical aura, casting a wide array of colored light into the darkening cavern of ice. More importantly, it also generated a small bubble of heat that warmed their small corner of the spacious hollow, taking the edge off the chill.

Despite all of that, it still felt much colder in the cavern than before to Spike. But he suspected it was because of more than just the physical temperature of the cave.

Thorax had been quiet for a long time, his solid blue eyes filled with fruitless mental activity as he attempted to process something appropriate to say. “I’m sorry,” he finally spoke softly.

“It’s not your fault,” Spike mumbled, arms wrapped around his legs as he stared into the colored flames of their modest fire.

“Yes it is,” Thorax insisted. “If it hadn’t been for me…if I hadn’t tried…asked you to…” he trailed off, his thought getting choked off and he averted his gaze.

“It’s not your fault,” Spike repeated again. “It was my choice to make. Not yours.”

They were silent for a long time again.

“You really didn’t have to do that, you know,” Thorax stated after a moment.

Spike didn’t reply as he continued to stare into the flames. He wanted to say that he absolutely did have to do what he had done, to reassure the changeling that it was the right thing to have done, regardless of the consequences. But at the moment, present circumstances made it hard for him to be able to get the words out…at least while still having them be meaningful.

“You going to be alright?” Thorax asked next after another lengthy pause.

Spike shrugged. “I’m still working that out myself.”

“Had it even occurred to you this could happen? When you decided that while they were arguing about what to do, you’d…well…”

“Truthfully? No. No, it really didn’t.”

Thorax rubbed one of his hole-riddled hooves against his foreleg sheepishly. “I guess you’re entitled to feel pretty miserable at the moment.”

Spike finally looked up at the changeling. “Actually, you know what?” he said. “I’m really feeling just mad at the moment. Mad at the fact that they…they just…” he trailed off, feeling the roiling pit of emotions he had been trying to keep contained nearly boil over. He took a deep calming breath and shook his head. “If anyone should be sorry Thorax, it should really be me.”

His eyes glazed over as he reflected on the memory of the past afternoon, at the many glares of shock, anger, betrayal…the echoing chill of Shining Armor’s firm and final order…the look of utter dismay on Twilight’s face…but even she had sided with the others over him. That what was probably what stung the most. Why couldn’t she at least have understood? She always had in the past.

Spike squeezed his eyes shut as he felt the slurry of emotions begin to bubble up against his will again, hot tears starting to seep into his eyes. He pulled himself even tighter into a ball. “I really thought I could make them see.”

Thorax was quiet for a long moment and didn’t immediately reply. But then he got up and slowly walked over to Spike’s side of the fire and dropped down onto his belly beside him. “If it helps any…I really thought you were going to convince them too.”

Spike nodded to himself for a moment, trying to maintain his crumbling bravado for a little while longer, but it finally caved in. Tears streaming from his eyes, Spike ended up leaning against the firm carapace of the changeling’s shoulder and wept into it. Thorax tensed when Spike did this; as a changeling he really wasn’t used to this. But like the new friend he was, Thorax didn’t protest and let Spike be. The little dragon appreciated it. He decided in the end he was going to have to get the emotions out eventually anyway, so he let the tears flow for a few moments.

“At least I believe you’re a friend,” Spike managed to mumble out as he got through the worst of his tears.

Thorax snorted. “A lot of good it did you too,” he muttered. “If I had known what was going to happen because of it…I would’ve just left you alone way back when we first crossed paths.”

They were quiet again for a long moment, staring into the flames of their fire.

“Where are you going to go now?” Thorax then asked.

“Where can I go?” Spike asked. “I’ve effectively been banished. Banished from the Crystal Empire. From Ponyville. From all of Equestria. On charges of aiding and abetting the enemy of all things.” He sniffled. “Just because I had the novel idea to befriend a changeling.” He grabbed a small rock sitting next to him and hurled it angrily into the nearby chasm that divided the cavern almost neatly in half, listening to it bounce off the sides of the seemingly bottomless pit a couple of times as it fell. “Guess that says a lot about the true nature of ponies in Equestria, as much as I hate to admit it.”

Thorax averted his gaze for a moment, afraid to agree with the rightly temperamental dragon on the matter just yet. “They were all you had, weren’t they? Your pony friends?”

Spike let his head fall on Thorax’s shoulder again. It wasn’t the softest of surfaces, but at least it was warm. He then nodded his head. “And they’ve turned their backs on me, I suppose.”

Thorax was again quiet for a long moment, but he nonetheless looked sad for his dragon friend and his unfortunate predicament.

“So where are you going to go?” Spike asked the changeling finally.

Thorax sighed. “Nowhere, I guess,” he said. “I don’t really have anywhere else to go either. Can’t stay here, and I can’t go back to the hive…so I guess I’m just an outcast with nowhere to stay.”

Spike thought for a moment. “Guess we’ll just have to be outcasts together then,” he deduced.

Despite everything, Thorax managed a small, but sad, grin. “Guess so.”

As night fell outside the cave, the two continued sit and stare into the flames of their small fire, huddle together to try and keep each other warm, and ponder what fate would hurtle them at next.

Author's Note:

So this idea naturally came about after "The Times They Are A Changeling" aired, and I noticed that some fans struggled to appreciate the magnitude and seriousness of Spike choosing to side with and support Thorax, still seen as a potential enemy, like he did at the time. While it's true that, given Equestria's general trusting and friendly persona, Spike was probably never in any real danger of repercussions by doing that, I couldn't help but raise the question to others of what would've happened to Spike if for some reason the ponies hadn't listened to him or trusted him, and saw him as siding with an enemy instead? Thus the crux of this story, which takes that thought to the logical extreme, and explores what could've followed as a result.

So to insure an easier workload for myself, chapters will likely stay around 2,000-ish words, and because I had held off on beginning to post this until after the season 6 finale (because I had rightly predicted the subject of Thorax and the changelings was going to come up again then), I've also managed to produce a small buffer of completed chapters. Until that buffer is exhausted (which I hope to delay as long as I can as I continue to write new chapters), I'm aiming to post new chapters about twice a week, probably Mondays and Fridays unless something comes up.

If things seem vague about what happened initially, know this was done deliberately. The story is less about what happened to Spike and Thorax to get them here and more about what will happen to them afterwards, but never fear; more details about what happened will gradually come to light as the story progresses.

Minor edits made to chapter as of 11/24/2016

ANOTHER EDIT: Since I've been asked in the comments twice now, there will be no shipping or romance between Spike and Thorax. They will remain as only good friends on through to the end.

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