• Published 26th Sep 2017
  • 11,086 Views, 367 Comments

Carry Me Home - PropMaster

Spike carries each of the most important ponies in his life home after a long day.

  • ...


Spike heaved another load of feed into the shed and pushed it carefully into the interior. He had to duck his head a bit to get through the door, but it wasn't a big problem... in a few years, though, it might be. He stepped back out into the animal sanctuary and stretched out his back, his wings shuddering and flapping as he extended them. He'd been working for hours with Fluttershy, the pegasus mare initially refusing for fear of being 'too much trouble', which he'd assured her she was not, nor could ever be. As the day had progressed, he'd seen more and more things that he could help with: more jobs that Fluttershy struggled to complete herself.

His short stretch break finished with a long yawn that sent little wisps of smoke into the air, and he waved away the smog with one clawed hand. He noticed Fluttershy staring at him from near the garden she was working on, and he smiled nervously. "Uh... something in my teeth?"

"O-oh! No, certainly not. You have... very nice teeth," Fluttershy said, looking away from him. Her mane was pulled back behind a scarf that she'd used to keep her long mane out of her eyes as she worked, but a long forelock had slipped lose as she'd worked. Spike thought she looked wonderful, despite the sweat and dirt on her yellow coat.

Spike approached her as she hauled another large basket of compost-rich soil towards the garden, her wings flapping with the strain of hauling the basket. Spike ambled closer and gestured to the bag. "Why don't you sit back and let me do that?"

Fluttershy grit her teeth and muttered something that he couldn't understand around the handle of the basket, as her eyes winced shut and she let out a little grunt of exertion. Spike moved around to the other side of the basket and started pushing it, and Fluttershy struggled to keep his pace as he moved the large basket of rich earth. Finally, she let go of her side of the basket and slid out of the way as Spike pushed it across the grass to the edge of the garden. He looked over his shoulder and smiled at her. "See? No problem!" Fluttershy smiled, but her eyes glanced down at the ground towards her hooves, a demure and uncertain pose if he'd ever seen one. He frowned. "Are you okay?"

She looked up at him, her eyes wide. "Oh, yes. I just, um... I'm fine."

Spike knew she was holding back, and he realized that he'd done something wrong, but for the life of him he couldn't see what. He approached her and sat down in the grass next to her, his neck bending down a bit to look at her. "Everything okay? You know you can tell me if you need me to do something," he hesitated, glancing back at the basket, "or, uh, not do something."

Fluttershy blushed. "Ah, I suppose I am a bit transparent, aren't I?"

"To one of your oldest friends? Yeah," Spike said, chuckling.

"It's silly, Spike. I promise, you don't need to worry about it," Fluttershy said firmly, nodding once as if the matter was closed, and she stood back up. "I have more to do, but I can get the rest done on my own if you have other things to finish today."

Spike didn't want to walk away after the little moment he'd just had, so he shrugged. "Nah. Do you mind if I tag along? It's been really nice to get out here and help you."

Fluttershy beamed at him, "You're too good, Spike. Well, come along, then. I have feed to spread and some areas that need a bit of cleaning out of old nests." Fluttershy trotted around the edge of the sanctuary, heading into the feed shed and retrieving two large metal pails. She filled them both with seed, grain, and nuts; scooping things out of different bags and mixing them together in the pails. She explained as she worked. "The squirrels love the nuts and some of the seeds, so we do two scoops for them. An extra scoop of the seeds so some of the birds can get at them, and then three scoops of the small seed and two of the grain for the mice, voles, and the smaller birds. We've got two feeding stations for them, so we've got to do the same for both pails... and, there." She picked up one bucket, levering it carefully onto her back with some struggle, and pointed to the other bucket. "This will go much faster if you carry the other one. I usually only carry one at a time."

Spike grinned and reached out with both hands, plucking the bucket from the ground and the one on Fluttershy's back with ease, lifting them up and holding them out. "No problem."

Fluttershy let out a little huff, blowing some of her long bangs out of her face, and then she turned. "Well, come on, then."

Spike realized that he'd upset her again, and he frowned. "Did you... not want me to carry both?"

Fluttershy stopped in her tracks, her wings drooping slightly, and she turned around to look at Spike with a gentle smile. "It's fine."

"No, it's not. I'm bothering you... why?"

"It's fine, Spike. Let's go, the animals like to keep a schedule, they get nervous if things are different. Keeping my little friends stress-free is a big part of what I do, here," Fluttershy said, turning around again and trotting away towards the first feed station. Spike sighed and followed behind her. Fluttershy hummed to herself, smiling as animals began to cluster around the feeding station. As Spike approached, a lot of the animals scattered, and Spike let out a sigh. Fluttershy smiled up at him, "Sorry, Spike, but you're a little too different for their tastes, I suppose."

Spike smirked, "I'd be worried if they didn't run. It's smart for them to be afraid of dragons, even if they don't have to be afraid of me."

Spike set down the first bucket, and Fluttershy reached in with a hoof and began to scatter the food around the area, dispersing the grains and smaller seeds, placing the nuts up onto little elevated dishes, and pouring the rest into little bowls that were secreted into little holes or atop of rocks. Spike watched as she worked, sitting back and admiring the care that she put into the work. She nodded, "All right, let's go to the next one."

"Do, uh... you want to carry the bucket?" Spike asked hesitantly.

Fluttershy smirked, "Oh, no, you've proven quite capable. Just bring it along, and we'll have this done in no-time." Spike picked up the metal pail and followed Fluttershy across the sanctuary grounds to the second feeding station. He set the second bucket down and watched as Fluttershy repeated the process of setting out the food. She dusted off her hooves and gave a nod. "All right, let's get these back to the shed."

Spike reached for the second pail at the same time that Fluttershy did, and they both froze. Spike jerked his hand back, and Fluttershy sat down, staring up at him. Spike blushed. "Sorry."

Fluttershy sighed. "Spike, I really, really appreciate how much you've helped me, today... but you've done the lion's share of the work! Why don't you let me do a few things? We're supposed to be working together."

Spike hesitated, staring at her as she looked up at him with a cute frown on her face. "W-well, uh... I don't know. I just want to be helpful!"

Fluttershy watched him for a long moment, and then her eyes lowered to the ground and she let out a sigh. "This is about Rainbow Dash, isn't it?"

Spike blinked. "What?"

"You brought her in the other day, all beat up... and the next thing I know, you're suddenly over here, offering to do work and then not letting me lift a hoof to help. Rainbow Dash mentioned pushing herself too hard. Do you think I'm pushing myself too hard, too?" Spike stared around the sanctuary. It'd doubled in size in the last ten years as Fluttershy had expanded things and created more room for more animals. Dozens of carefully crafted dens, warrens, and holes dotted the landscape, along with forty carefully planted trees and three "wild feed" gardens for the animals to browse at their leisure without needing the specific attention of feeding stations. There were two ponds stocked with fish, and ten bird baths, and numerous other niceties and things that needed tending to and looking after. Fluttershy cleared her throat, bringing his attention back to her. "Your silence really tells a story, Spike."

Spike winced. "I didn't mean—" he started, but Fluttershy floated up to his eye level with a beat of her wings and pushed a hoof gently against his mouth.

"Shhh. I know you don't mean anything by it, and I really appreciate what you're trying to do, but... Rainbow Dash and I are two very different ponies. We both have our careers, and the things I do are certainly hard work, but everything I do is done in careful measure. There's a lot of work and love that goes into here, but I promise, I'm not taking on any more than I can handle... after all, it'd be awfully selfish of me to hide that I couldn't handle the responsibility. My animal friends would suffer if I couldn't maintain the work that needs done. Do you think if I needed a lot of help, I would let them be unhappy to save my pride?"

"No, of course not," Spike said quickly.

Fluttershy smiled and nodded, floating back down to the ground and landing in front of Spike. "So, you trust that I can handle everything?"

"Y-yeah. Of course you can... I just like helping you out, Fluttershy. I didn't mean to... make it seem like I didn't have confidence in you."

"I know you didn't, which is why I'm not upset at all, but I think it was important to talk this out. I can tell you're trying to... um... coddle me a bit," Fluttershy said, giving Spike a knowing look.

Spike shrugged. "I guess I was, huh?"

Fluttershy patted him on the leg, her eyes full of empathy. "You're worried about us these days, aren't you?"

Spike blinked down at her, searching for the words, but nothing he said could encapsulate his feelings. He took in the lines under her eyes that had grown more apparent, the slightly more wide stance she kept her back legs at to support her lower back. He remembered the way she stopped to rub at her muscles when she thought he wasn't looking. There was nothing to say, and so he stared at her, hoping for her understanding.

Fluttershy giggled. "Silly dragon. Just because you're getting bigger doesn't mean that we've changed all that much. Sure, maybe Rainbow Dash might be having some trouble, but that's the way of her world. Spitfire retired after her wing injury during a race a few years back, and Rainbow Dash took over as Captain of the Wonderbolts... and now, she's pushing the envelope of her own time as a stunt flier. Probably harder than she needs to, because she knows that that piece of her life is limited. You can't stay at your peak forever. But this work? The things I do here? Certainly, in another five years, I might need to hire an assistant, but for now, I can take all of this on. And, if it ever gets too much to handle, you can trust me to ask for help."

Spike nodded, exhaling slowly. "Thanks, Fluttershy."

Fluttershy giggled. "Of course. Now, we've got nests to clear, a few dens to muck, and compost piles to stir. I can certainly use your help on all of those, but let's work as a team, okay?"

Spike nodded. "Okay." Together, they both set to work, moving from task to task and job to job until the sun set. Another round of feeding for the nocturnal animals that were beginning to wake up, and finally...

Fluttershy sighed and sat down in the grass, running a hoof through her mane before pulling the scarf off of her head. Her mane tumbled loose, clinging to her face in places, but she didn't seem to mind. "Whew... well, that's everything. Thank you again for the help, Spike. It was an awful lot we got done today, and... well, I couldn't have gotten it done as quickly without you." Spike nodded, yawning and stretching, and Fluttershy giggled. "Oh, my, that looks nice," she said, standing up and stretching her back, arching it up and then lowering her hips and kicking out her back legs. She stiffened up, suddenly, her eyes going wide, and she froze in place, one leg still stretched back. "O-oh dear."

Spike glanced down at her as she stood in the odd position. "Hm?"

"My, um... my lower back muscles just froze up. I'm afraid to put my hoof down." She blushed.

Spike frowned in worry. "Oh, gosh. Are you okay?"

Fluttershy gingerly began to set the hoof down, and her teeth clenched as she hissed in pain. "I guess I'll be scheduling a session at the spa tomorrow."

Spike reached down and scooped her up, and she let out a little squeak of surprise. "Well, looks like one more job for me to do the lion's share of the work on," he said with a wry grin.

Fluttershy wriggled a little bit, before settling down in his grasp. "What are you doing?"

"Taking you home. I don't want you to strain your back any more than you already have," Spike explained as he began to walk along the path towards Fluttershy's cottage in the distance.

"Oh, Spike, you really don't have to!" Fluttershy said, even though her strained smile told a different story.

"Hmm... nah. I definitely have to. Let's get you inside. Do you think a hot shower will help?"

"Oh, um, probably?"

"Great. You make sure to sit and soak for a bit, and I'll make you some dinner you can eat in bed, so you don't have to worry about anything."

Fluttershy blushed a deeper pink than her mane. "Spike, that's really too much! I can manage!"

"No way! You've done the same for me. Remember when my wings came in, and you spent a whole week bringing me that special soup recipe you got from Zecora to help with the aches and pains?" Spike smiled down at the pegasus in his arms. "This is just one hour. No big deal."

Fluttershy sighed, and patted a hoof gently against his chest. "Oh, Spike... you're too good."

Spike didn't reply, but he didn't feel like he needed to. The silence was a comfortable one as he took Fluttershy back to her cottage.