• Published 11th Jan 2018
  • 5,333 Views, 123 Comments

Spike Finds Love At Last - Soothing Stone

After Rarity has settled down with somepony else, Spike turns to Twilight for dating advice with girls. Things get more complicated from there.

  • ...

Take A Deep Breath. You'll Need It.

If somepony wanted an idea of how much things changed in the last five years, they would need to look no further than the night sky by Ponyville. In the past, it would be all lit up, but it wouldn’t reach very far, since it was still a small little town. But now, it was like watching a metropolis in its early stages of life. It was almost as bright as Canterlot, and whenever there were clouds above, they would be illuminated from the lights down below.

As a result of all this growth, the streets would be a little crowded that evening. It made sense; Saturday night was a busy night, no matter where you were in Equestria. It was a good thing Twilight already reserved some space at the Magic Wheatball, as all the walk-in diners would be in a line wrapped around the building.

Speaking of the princess, she was taking Spike down to Sweet Apple Acres. She wore a slightly more upscale blue dress this evening with plenty of sequins to go around, and he wore what could be best described as a casual tuxedo shirt. It was a little tight and rubbed his back spikes the wrong way, but considering what was going down tonight, he would be okay with it for an hour or two.

“How do you feel? Nervous? Excited? A little of both?” she asked.

“A little of both,” he admitted. “I know it’s still not a real date, but it sure feels like one. I don’t think I’ve worn anything like this since Shining and Cadence’s wedding, even if it’s just a shirt. Let’s hope tonight will go better than that.”

“Like things will ever get that bad. I don’t think Chrysalis would pick tonight to strike again, just because you’re going out with Apple Bloom.”

“Hey, you never know. You gotta be prepared for anything.”

It wasn’t long until they found their way to the farm. Applejack kept the place up over the years, and while it was still the same farm at its core, she added a few acres here and there to help out with the business expansion. Meanwhile, the house was pretty much the same, just with a repair here and there.

Twilight and Spike came up to the front door and rang the doorbell. Applejack walked up to the doorstep, happy to see familiar company. “So, you brought a dragon here to date my little sister, right?”

“N-No!” Spike blushed. “We’ve been over this a few times. I’m only doing this for the practice. Didn’t Twilight tell you before you signed off on it?”

“Yeah, just messing with ya. Nothin’ to worry about.” She turned down to holler down the hallway. “Hey, AB, Spike’s here. Why don’t you go give him a warm welcome?”

Apple Bloom didn’t take long to come out to do just that. Compared to Spike’s “dressed up” get up, she was far more casual, enjoying the comfort of a green shirt with some overall jeans. It was...actually not that far off from what she normally wore when she was a kid, just a little bigger and nicer. She was now just a few inches shorter than her big sister, but it looked like she took up working out in recent years. Being more hands on at the farm would do that to a pony.

“How’s it going?” she greeted. “I like your dress, Twilight, and that’s a really cute tuxedo-ish shirt, Spike.”

“And you said she wouldn’t like it,” Twilight nudged. “Apple Bloom, I know Applejack told you about everything before we started, but do you have questions before we get started?”

“Yeah, I had one. I don’t have to do anything with love potions, do I?”

Twilight and Spike glanced at each other, a little horrified at that particular outing with Big Mac and Cheerilee. “Ehh, no,” Twilight answered. “We’re just doing this to warm him up to the dating scene. If you don’t want to do this again after tonight, that’s okay with us.”

“Alright. I do like helpin’ a friend in need, and I’m dying to see what all the fuss is about with this ‘Magic Wheatball’ outfit. I’m ready when you guys are.”

“Just don’t hurt my sister, you hear?” Applejack teased. “No love potions, no weird magic stuff, nothin’.”

“Applejack, cut him a break,” Twilight laughed. “He’s been through a lot these last few days.”

“I know, I know. Just have a good time and take it easy out there.”

“We will, AJ. He’s a good guy.” Apple Bloom waved her big sister goodbye and headed down to the heart of Ponyville with Twilight and Spike. Twilight took note of Spike’s state along the way, noticing how relaxed he appeared to be this evening. Granted, it probably helped that he was good friends with the Crusaders, but considering he was a nervous wreck at the start of practice, this was a positive sign.

It sure helped that Apple Bloom was rather curious about this Magic Wheatball as well, since it was open for less than a month at this point. It was out on the outskirts of Ponyville towards the Acres, so it only took a few minutes to get there. And oh boy, were they surprised by the size of the line outside the place. Twilight knew it would be a good idea to reserve in advance.

The Magic Wheatball was a rather interesting place to say the least. It was originally a small restaurant in Canterlot, but business was good to it, and it opened a second location soon after. Ponyville was the perfect place to open it at, given the growing population. As a result of its roots, it had a lot of characteristics of a Canterlot place, with light blue bricks on the outside and a sign with bright lights to advertise the place right next to it. Inside, the restaurant would be dimly lit with brown lights to give it a cozy feeling, and having the servers wear real tuxedos would give it an upscale feeling. Considering it sat over two hundred customers at once, it said a lot that there was still a massive line to get inside.

The party of three came up to the front desk and looked around to get a feel for the place. “What do you think so far?” Spike asked. “It was Twilight’s idea to come here. She used to eat at the Canterlot location all the time before we moved to Ponyville.”

“It’s a little fancy for my liking, but nothin’ wrong with that every now and then,” Apple Bloom commented. “I kinda like it. Just crazy how you get a Canterlot place goin’ in here, and now everypony wants in.”

“It was even crazier up in Canterlot,” Twilight commented.

Soon, the lead waitress came up to the front desk to attend to them. She couldn’t believe her eyes when she realized who she was talking to. “Princess Twilight? What an honor to serve you. You didn’t even need to ask for a reservation. Merely showing up would be enough.”

“No, it’s fine. It’s more fair to everypony else, anyways. I believe it was a party of two for Spike and Apple Bloom, and a party of one for me.”

Spike was a little worried at the sound of that. “You’re not sitting with us?”

“”It might get in the way if I sat down with you two. Not to worry, I got the table right next to your booth. It will be just like yesterday, where I’ll be on standby if you need a tip or two. Just remember your training, make Apple Bloom happy, and everything will work out.”

“Okay. I hope it works out.”

After verifying the reservation, the waitress led them to their tables. Spike and Apple Bloom were taken to a booth by the side, and Twilight sat down at a table for one right next to them. Each customer were given their own menus, which was a rather big selection of meals to choose from.

Spike took a deep breath and went over things in his mind. Compliment first. “I just wanted to say--”

“I hope you find what you’re lookin’ for,” Apple Bloom interrupted.

That wasn’t something he expected. “Yeah, me too. You didn’t have to do this, you know.”

“Hey, I know what it’s like to want something for years, and feel like you’re never gonna get it. If I can get my cutie mark after all the messes I made for months, you can get yourself a mare. Just don’t give up on yourself.”

“You know, you’re probably right. It was pretty awesome when I got my wings, and I wasn’t even thinking about that. I just don’t feel like screwing up anymore.” He picked up the menu and went over all the options. This place had quite the big liquor selection. “You’re still too young to drink, right?”

“Eeyup,” Apple Bloom noted. Apparently, Applejack wasn’t the only sibling to rub off on her. “I heard they make darn good pizzas here. Maybe we should split a four cheese one? They’re supposed to be big enough to share.”

“Yeah, that should hit the spot. I’m pretty hungry, anyways.” He flagged a waiter down and made the order, getting them a couple glasses of sparkling apple juice to go along with it. Since the Apple Family supplied the apple juice, that would likely make his pretend date happy.

Meanwhile, Twilight treated herself to a simple salad, but that wasn’t really on her mind. No, her full attention would be at the booth next to her. Deep down, she was still a little worried for Spike. She felt like he wouldn’t blow it by this point, but she didn’t want him to get hurt, either. Still, she knew he needed to do this as little help as possible. It seemed to be going well so far. He was relaxed, paying full attention to the other pony, and soon enough, he would go back to the things he learned in his training. She just hoped her training idea would work as well as she wanted.

Speaking of which, back to the training. “So I noticed that sparkling apple juice was made with apples from your farm,” he pointed out. “How has business been treating you guys?”

“Ohhhh, you have no idea how good we got it,” Apple Bloom responded. “It’s made Applejack the happiest pony in the world. She’s found the sweet spot between makin’ all the bits she could want, while still keeping her integrity or whatever you want to call it. Made enough money to pay my way through college this autumn. Thinkin’ I’m gonna do some counseling course, so I can keep helpin’ ponies learn more about their cutie marks when I’m not working at the farm. It’s the other thing I’m good at.”

“That’s awesome. Who knows, maybe you’ll be running the farm one day.” He leaned back in his seat, relieved that it was going so well on the small talk.

“Thanks. But I can’t imaging anypony but Applejack doing that. So what you been up to? If you’re doin’ a whole thing on practice dating, things must be rough on ya.”

Their waiter came up and dropped off the glasses of apple juice, just in time. He found himself drinking the whole thing rather quickly, as she wasn’t exactly wrong about the rough part. “I’m just...well, you know what it was like, what happened between me and Rarity. You’ve heard the whole story before. I want to move on from that, you know?”

“I get what you’re sayin’. Doesn’t help nothing when you stay one place for a while, even if you’re a dragon and you live for, like, centuries or something. But practice dating? That sounds a little out there. Let me guess, it was Twilight’s idea?”

Since Twilight was right there, he had to stop himself from laughing. “Yeah, it was all her idea. I couldn’t dream that up even if I tried. Not like I had a better idea.”

On the other hand, Apple Bloom didn’t stop herself from chuckling at the news. “That sounds like Twilight, alright. She would write a book on anything, even on something stupid like sneezing, and her whippin’ up a whole thing on practice dating isn’t too much of a stretch. Don’t forget, she tried making the whole town go gaga for a toy, just to get a friendship lesson out of us.”

The princess winced a bit when she overheard them. It wasn’t exactly her proudest moment when she used the Want It Need It spell, and being reminded of it was like pouring salt on the wound. She stayed quiet about it so she wouldn’t get in the way. Thank goodness she got her salad around the time, eating would help her forget that awful day.

“Give her a little credit,” Spike responded. “What she’s doing, it’s helping me get out of my shell big time. I wouldn’t have even thought about asking you out until today. If somepony told me I should go out on a practice date with Apple Bloom, I would have shot it down already.”

“Okay, I’m giving her a little credit,” Apple Bloom teased. “I’m not sayin’ she’s a bad pony. Saved Equestria more times than I can count. I can still say it’s a silly idea, but hey, if it helps you find somepony, it doesn’t matter to me.”

Shortly after that, the waiter came up to them with their pizza. They knew it would be big, but not that big. Forget about feeding two people with it; four people could share that pizza and leave happy. Don’t forget the stuffed crust along with it. Their stomachs were growling at the mere sight of it, so they split it among themselves, having six pieces each, and they dug in.

“No wonder Twilight liked this place so much,” said Apple Bloom. “This is the best pizza I’ve had in months!”

“No kidding. I gotta figure out how you make this,” Spike noted. “Nothing beats a fire ruby, but this is pretty close.”

Twilight couldn’t be happier with the way things were going. She could tell they weren’t going to hit it off for real, but Spike was being himself. That wouldn’t happen a week ago. However, something still felt off to her, and she wanted to address it. She leaned over to Spike when Apple Bloom was distracted with the stuffed crust, and she whispered some advice in his ear. “Don’t forget about the compliments thing. I’m not going to mention the small talk thing, since, well, you know why.” She went back to her table like nothing happened.

Spike was a little surprised. How did he forget something like that already? Oh well, better late than never. “Hey, Apple Bloom, you’re a big help around Sweet Apple Acres. I’m sure Applejack’s really happy to have you around as a sister.”

Apple Bloom liked how that sounded, but she wanted to make sure Twilight wasn’t around to hear what she was about to say. Coincidentally, the princess just headed out for the restroom. “Did she tell you to say that?”

“Well...um…” He looked to make sure Twilight wasn’t there, either. “Yeah. Well, yes and no. She said I should compliment you because it goes a long way with my date. What I had to say was my idea.”

“That was a pretty good compliment. And what Twilight said about compliments, it’s not a bad idea. But you wanna know something? They like it a lot better when you’re sayin’ something nice from the heart, not because you think you have to say it to get on their good side.”

“Right.” He exhaled and shuffled around in his seat, checking to see if Twilight was back yet. “To be honest, I feel weird around her lately.”

“She hasn’t been on one of her binge reading rounds again, has she?”

“No. It’s more like...like…” It took everything in his bones to get the next part out. “I felt weird ever since we started the whole dating thing. It’s getting awkward.”

“Hmm. Sounds like you found yourself between a rock and a hard spot.” She finished her crust to start on another slice of pizza. “You talked to her about it?”

“Not yet. I’m not even sure why it’s happening,” he said, with one hell of a poker face. “Maybe it’s how I’m just now starting to move on from Rarity, and it’s kinda scary.”

“That sounds an awful lot like what we Crusaders went through when we got our cutie marks. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves for the first month.”

“What did you do to get past that?” He spotted Twilight coming back to her table, and his voice started to go down in volume.

“Honestly, it just kinda came to us,” she admitted. “You can’t force a round peg into a square hole. Don’t force it or anythin’. If there’s a way you’re feeling pulled to, that might be a sign that you’re supposed to do that. You know?”

That was the worst thing he could hear at that point. When he saw the princess return to her seat, he noticed that his heart skipped a beat. Then he hears that bit of advice, and now he couldn’t stop thinking to the thing giving him problems yesterday.

As it turned out, he was thinking of Twilight during the entire day. All the memories he had of her throughout the years, the things he liked about her, the way they worked well with each other, all that stuff. Come to think of it, Twilight was probably the mare that made him the happiest, maybe just below Rarity on that list. It was like, when they were together, he always knew he would have the answer to her problems, and she would do the same for him.

And that’s when it dawned on him. It was a moment he didn’t think would happen, was dreading the day that it might happen, and then it happened. When it did, his jaw hit the floor, and he got up from his seat without warning. “I have to go to the restroom for a moment. Are you okay if I’m away for a moment?”

“Sure. The food’s still warm, so there’s no rush. I won’t leave or anythin’ while you’re gone.”

With that blessing, Spike rushed to the restroom as fast as he could. Thankfully, nopony else was there, so he had it to himself. He turned on the sink and threw a bunch of water on his face, doing anything he could to shake this thing off him. It didn’t work. It was still there. He could feel it in his heart, he could see it in his face, he could feel it in his mind.

There was no way this was happening. He couldn’t be falling in love with Twilight. Out of all the ponies to fall in love with, why did it have to be her? Somepony that was kinda in his own family? That was preposterous. Even then, there was no use in denying it anymore. This was happening.

Even if he was in love with her, how was he supposed to handle it? There was no way she would handle it well. They still lived together, so what would happen to him if she didn’t love him back? Would she kick him out of the house? Would she have somepony else be her assistant? Why did he have to make this so hard on himself? Why was there no good answer for this?

For now, he knew he had to get through tonight. This was something he should tackle tomorrow, when he had a good night’s rest and plenty of time to think it over. He grabbed a few paper towels to dry his face off and went back to the table, pretending that everything was fine.

When he got back there, Apple Bloom was almost finished. As it turned out, the check was on the table, with a few hundred bits on top of it. “Hey, Spike. Twilight was nice enough to take care of the bill for us. That was mighty nice of her, right?”

“Right. Right.” He was barely able to look Twilight in the eye and gave her a very, very awkward smile, taking his seat back across the booth. His shirt was drenched in water around the collar.

“Hey, you sweaty or something?” Apple Bloom noted. “You didn’t look like that when you left.”

“Why do you say that?” He brought a hand to his neck and realized he forgot to wipe himself there. “Uh, it’s nothing. Just didn’t feel so good out of the blue. Must have been all that pizza I put down.”

Apple Bloom looked down at her empty plate. “Sure hope that wasn’t food poisoning you went through. Would hate it if the pizza did all that, it was pretty good. Maybe we should ask for a leftover box? You didn’t touch half of your stuff.”

“Good idea. I’ll pack it up and take you home once we’re done. Thanks for everything, by the way. I can see why everypony finds you so helpful.”

“You sure you’re not feelin’ sick? You’re awfully clammy right about now.”

“No! I mean, it’s just a little hot in here.” He tugged at his sweaty collar. “Let’s just go ahead and leave now.”

Apple Bloom and Twilight were both a little worried for his well being, but they went ahead and left with him. Twilight went ahead and headed back to the castle, wanting to meet up with Spike back home once it was all over. In the meantime, he took Apple Bloom back home. The sooner this was in the past, the better.

“If I did something bad, you can tell me,” Apple Bloom said. “I didn’t make you upset, did I?”

“Trust me, you did nothing wrong,” he admitted. It wasn’t like he was lying when he said that.. “I’m just not feeling well. I’ll sleep it off tonight, and everything will be back to normal.” I hope.

“Okay, then. I’ll let you know if I get any food poisoning later, so we’ll know if we should avoid that place. Have a good night, Spike.”

“You too, Apple Bloom. At least Applejack won’t kill me.”

“Not yet,” she giggled, sticking her tongue out. She walked the rest of the way to Sweet Apple Acres. There was still a part of her thinking she made Spike unhappy along the way, but she had to let that go.

In the meantime, Spike couldn’t help but panic a little bit as he was walking back home. He had no idea what he was supposed to do with himself anymore. He knew himself way too well to know this wouldn’t just go away. He was going to have feelings for Twilight no matter what. But this might be a good time to learn how to let go of things like that for his own sake.

It would be so easy for him if he pretend that this never happened. That was never going to happen, though. Maybe if he blocked out his feelings for tonight, he would be able to go home, have some chit chat with Twilight, convince her that it really was just a case of bad food that made him act up, and he would sleep like a baby and tackle this another day. However, fate wasn’t going to make things easy on him.

When he got to the castle and opened the door, Twilight was already waiting for him inside, just as stressed out as he was. “Are you okay? Did you get sick from all that pizza?” She put a hand on his forehead to check. “You are a little warm. Maybe you should lay down.”

“Yeah, that wouldn’t be a bad idea. Might have been something in the pizza.” Yeah, this was working.

“Come to think of it, you were acting up after she said something to you. I didn’t catch it, but was it hurtful, whatever she said? I hope not. I thought she was a nice filly.”

He looked up to her and raced through all the things he could say. It would kill him inside if he came clean, but it was also killing him to even consider it. So he came up with the only thing he could imagine.

“It had nothing to do with her. It’s my fault. The thing is, I’m scared about what’s happening to me,” he half-admitted. “This is the closest I’ve ever come to moving on from Rarity, and it’s just now hitting me that I’m doing that. Now, I can date anypony I want, but I don’t know what to do when it’s time for a real date. You know, when I ask somepony out for real, because I love them.”

Twilight’s heart soared for him when she heard that, and she pulled him in for a tight hug. “Oh, Spike. I didn’t know how much this was getting to you. I should have considered how hard this was going to be.”

He was terrified when she hugged him out of the blue, and he should have stayed that way. But he was so stressed out, so worried for his well being, that he found it comforting. He found himself hugging her back, trying his best not to let it show. “Thank you…”

“No, I should be thanking you. I don’t know what I did to deserve you, but you’re the best dragon I’ve ever met,” she responded. “I know I didn’t always treat you right, but I’m so glad I got your egg for that magic exam all those years. I couldn’t imagine another dragon in my life other than you.” Her arms started to get tighter around his waist.

She couldn’t see it, but a tear streamed down Spike’s cheek. “Me neither, and don’t say you treated me badly. That’s wrong. You’ve treated me like a friend, like a brother, and I couldn’t ask for more. I just…” He realized what he was about to say, and he pulled away from her. “I’ve gotta lay down for now. Thanks for paying the bill.” He left for his bedroom without another word.

That left Twilight all alone by the castle entrance, left to wonder what just happened. There was something he left unsaid. She could feel it. Deep down, she knew she left something unsaid as well, even if she didn’t know what just yet.. She couldn’t help but feel like she was at fault for what happened at the Magic Wheatball, but that was another thing she didn’t know.

The two unresolved threads left her wide awake for the next few hours. She went over to the library and went over the notes she made for the the dating course. Somewhere along the way, she made a huge miscalculation, and it had to be there somewhere. Things like tonight, they don’t just happen. They happen because she didn’t account for something, but she couldn’t find what it was, no matter how hard she tried.

Poor Spike. She made a mental checklist of things to do and added “make a big breakfast for Spike” at the top of the list. It was the least she could do to make it up to him. And maybe, just maybe, she could get to the bottom of this. The sooner she figured it out, the better.

Author's Note:

The one before the one before the one where things explode. That will make more sense later on.