• Published 21st Aug 2012
  • 9,881 Views, 235 Comments

On Pins and Needles - The Descendant

Spike would do anything to stay near Rarity, to spend time with her. Even, it seems, suffer pain...

  • ...

Chapter 2: Needles

Chapter 2: Needles

Rarity looked more like a mother cat carrying her kitten than a studious fashionista racing to provide aid to a dragon whelp.

Indeed, as Spike wrapped his arms and legs closer, as his tail came up between his legs, he played the part even more so. As the pain coursed through him he curled tighter and tighter into a ball. The sensation of hanging by the scruff of his neck from Rarity’s lips only added to his discomfort.

Rarity had no time to ponder that. As her magic flew in front of her the bathroom door flung open, and as soon as she was inside she withdrew a white towel from the linen closet.

She laid him there, upon the bathmat, spinning it around before she lowered it so that the length of Spike’s body sat upon the soft, shaggy surface. His little body settled down into a figure of abject unhappiness, seemingly aware that his deception was now to be called into check.

Rarity’s horn came alight again, and what little healing magic she knew drifted over him as she stared upon what she had unknowingly done to the boy. Her pins still stood out upon his back. The different crystal heads reflected the bathroom light oddly, sending tiny drops of color across his back.

She looked down over him, seeing how his arm was still in his own mouth, muffling his cries of pain. She saw how his eyes were clamped shut against the torment… and to keep from having to look at her.

“Spike… I-I need you to look at me. Talk to me, Darling…” she said, touching her hoof to his head, fighting to find some place where her limited healing arts could fall over him.

Yet the dragon simply lay there, wincing in pain as the pins continued to shoot new hurts through him with every twitch. To Spike every tiny movement seemed to crack his newly formed scales, driving pain arising from where they left his tender flesh.

There was a small movement at the door, and Rarity heard the familiar footfalls of her sister nearby.

“Spike, Darling, look at me… I need you to help me,” she said as the worry grew deeper in her own voice. But he didn’t open his eyes. He didn’t look back at her.

“Rarity? Is Spike okay?” came the voice of her little sister, noticeably large with worry even as she stood partially hidden behind the doorframe of the bathroom.

“No, Dearest, he isn’t,” she said, stopping as a fresh set of whimpers arose from the prostrate form of the whelp, “and I fear it will only be made worse as we attempt to make it better.”

Rarity looked across him, saw the pins driven deep into what had always been the toughest of his scales. Now she saw the redness where they met his flesh, and even as he sat there pools of his blood were forming where the pins pressed into his soft, young scales.

Suddenly Rarity realized what had happened, what the fact that he had just molted truly meant. She berated herself in her own mind for not realizing it, for not seeing it.

Yet, it had happened. She had done this to him… and he had not stopped her. Why hadn’t he tried to stop her?

The thought didn’t linger in her mind for very long before she realized why he had.

Her eyes fell across his twitching frame.

“Oh, Spike…”

Rarity turned back to the doorframe, looking to Sweetie Belle as the younger unicorn peeked around the edge.

“Sweetie,” Rarity said, “could you do me the favor of holding Spike’s hand?”

Sweetie Belle came forward and looked piteously upon the form of the boy laying on the bathmat. “Hurry now, Sweetie,” Rarity said, hurrying her along, “I… I have to pull the pins out, and he’ll need somepony to keep close.”

Sweetie Belle sat down before him. She took his free hand in her hoof, and even as he kept biting upon the other she tried to give him words of encouragement.

“It’s-it’s okay Spike, my sis is gonna take care of you. We’re gonna make everything better… it’s okay…”

Rarity stared down at the two of them, watching as Sweetie ran her hoof over his arm and her little words echoed off the tiled walls of the bathroom. Beneath her Spike still bit into his own arm as the pain shot into him, tears welling in his eyes and dripping down his jaw.

Rarity focused on the pins, and for the first time truly understood from where his pain was rising.

The scales were split, torn in half by the pins. Each motion of Spike's body was making the damaged scales draw the needles that much farther into his flesh.

There was nothing else to be done. With that Rarity lowered her lips and found the crystal head of the first pin. With that she captured it in her teeth and began to pull it free.

Spike gave a sharp cry, and Rarity winced at the sound of it.

With that she spat the pin into the porcelain sink. Even as the sound of it rolling around lifted around the room the lips of the mare were to him once more, finding the next pin and pulling at it with tiny motions… motions that even her magic, as dexterous as it was, could not match.

It mattered little. Even if she pulled as gently as she could it still caused him to twitch, to utter little calls of pain that even Sweetie’s tender words and soft touch could not lessen.

For long, agonizing minutes that was how it went. As the light fell through the distant window, muffled cries lifted from him, each followed by the "plink" of pins falling into the sink. The noises of the pins rolling around within were slightly silenced when they ran over trails of blood their predecessors had left upon the white surface of the porcelain. They rolled back and forth before finally settling with a metallic sound upon one another and in a small pool of red.

“Last one, Darling, last one…” Rarity said long minutes later, spitting the final pin into the sink.

Her magic lifted the towel that had rested by her side, and she laid it across him gently. With her own touch she now pressed it over his back, applying pressure upon the dozen holes that she had unintentionally placed in the child.

Together the three lay there in an odd silence, Sweetie casting her worried glances between Spike and her sister. Upon the face of the younger unicorn a dozen questions sat in a cloud of confusion and fear.

Spike had not said a word since being brought up to the bathroom. He had only whimpered in pain and bit at his arm as the bathmat became an impromptu operating table.

Rarity looked down over him, saw the fear and pain that sat hidden behind eyes that he had clamped shut. She brushed her hoof across his frills, and to her subtle relief she saw his expression relax a shade.

For what it was worth, Rarity dropped every bit of healing magic she knew across the whelp. As she raised the towel, the soft purple aura of her magic settled over him. It was not to be. Her magic, not designed for healing, fell across even his wounded scales in rolling wafts of uselessness… the imperviousness of dragon magic beyond anything her own power could overcome.

A small jolt of panic swept through Rarity as she lifted the towel. The direct pressure, the most basic first aid she knew, had failed. Even as she lifted the towel, wet as it already was with the deep red stains, more blood came trickling to the surface. As Rarity’s mind raced she saw how the wounded scales moved against themselves, how Spike’s blood filled the cracks as the broken scales spread like butterfly wings with every subtle movement.

“I… oh my,” she whispered as the blood came to the surface, sitting there in a bubble that soon collapsed on itself and dribbled down the spaces between his scales.

Her mind raced to find another way to help him.

She looked around herself, the unicorn mare reaching through everything she knew, believed she knew, or thought she knew about first aid. There were bandages in the cabinet, but if the direct pressure hadn’t helped, how could the bandages?

Calm, Rarity, calm… what else do we know?

As she looked around her bathroom an old beauty trick came to mind, a way to make one lose a flush. It was one that drew the blood away from the surface of the skin. It was the best shot she had.

Yet, it was something that she knew would be difficult and… disturbing, for Sweetie to see. She'd already put her sister through enough. Fortunately, there was something she knew she had to have her sister do.

Rarity cleared her throat even as she dropped the towel over Spike once more, pressed it against his wounded scales again for what little good it seemed to do, and then spoke.

“Sweetie Belle, Dearest, would you please go fetch Twili…” she began.

“No!” the little dragon cried as he spun about, his voice coming alive for the first time since they had entered the bathroom. “No, please… please don’t get Twilight! Please? S-she told me to be careful, not to do anything that would harm my scales, anything that would… I-I didn’t listen. I’ll get in trouble! She’ll get mad! Please? Please, I-I just wanted to… wanted to…”

Rarity ran her hoof over his frills, calming him.

“That may or may not be, Spike,” she answered, pushing down upon the sopping towel once again, “But Twilight knows best how to help you now, so it is to Twilight that we turn. Hush now, you’ll be alright.”

She watched Spike bury his head into the crux of his elbows and heard him give a few more sobs. His deception was revealed, and now he was to pay the price, both in terms of damage to his own body and the lost trust of his caregiver…

… and perhaps, he feared, even more.

“Sweetie, please go and fetch Twilight,” Rarity spoke again, motioning to her younger sister.

“Is Spike gonna be okay?” asked the little unicorn, her glances going from her sister to the dragon whelp and back.

“Yes, Dearest, he… he just made a mistake,” she said, motioning towards the door.

As Rarity watched, something wonderful happened. As Sweetie began to move away she took a grand total of about two steps towards the door before turning back to where Spike lay.

“You’re gonna be okay, Spike,” said the younger unicorn as she touched her face to his, “My sis said so, okay?”

Spike lifted his head just a touch. His eyes were still closed and filled with tears, but he answered her just the same.

Rarity dared to breathe a little bit easier. She watched Spike breathing for a long moment, hoping against hope that his pain had lessened. She gently lifted the towel once again, but to her disappointment even the act of Spike slowly lowering himself back to the bathmat after answering Sweetie's nuzzle caused the blood to flow again.

With Sweetie Belle gone, Rarity and Spike were left alone in the bathroom. Some small movement caused the pins in the sink to settle further their metallic tinkle sounded out around them.

Rarity sighed and lifted the towel once more. The blood was coming slower, but it was still coming. She sincerely doubted that Spike would bleed out here in her bathroom… that Spike’s dying words would be spoken among her hair curlers and shampoos.

Still, blood was blood, and knowing that the whelp who cherished her so was in such distress filled her with emotion.

Come now, Rarity, she thought to herself, it’s not pleasant, but it is all that we have left to try, isn’t it?

It was unladylike to make an appearance in a formal setting whilst flushed, and as such cool water was often applied to one’s face before making an introduction.

In short, she remembered, cold water constricts blood vessels.

Spike heard the soft, graceful fall of Rarity’s hooves cross behind him and then beside him. Soon the sound of running water came cascading from the bathtub, and the soft waft of mare’s magic enveloped him.

Rarity’s magic… it felt different than Twilight’s.

Twilight’s felt like his blanket, like having it wrapped around him. Twilight’s magic was warm, familiar. Rarity’s was different. To Spike it felt like drifting on satin sheets, and with it came a feeling of something he could not name. It drifted around him like flower petals being driven on a warm breeze, calling to a part of him he did not know how to answer.

It felt… lovely.

The sensation washed away as her magic deposited him in the bathtub. As his clawed feet scratched about on the enamel he felt how cold the water was, and a series of thoughts went through his mind. Memories found him; memories of a time long ago when somepony else he loved had put him away from her… of another mare who he cherished, of a time when that mare had not shared her comforting warmth.

“Spike,” came Rarity’s voice, “this will be difficult, Darling, but it’s all that I can think to do…”

With that, the cold water began rushing from the faucet head, and as Rarity’s magic adjusted the nozzle, the frigid water began to run down his back. Some small part of her died as she watched his expression fade to one of shock, as he began to tremble and shake. She could only watch Spike jump, reach up, and try to grasp at the edges of the tub. She was, in point of fact, spraying a child with the coldest water she had, and not stopping at signs of his discomfort.

She was suddenly very glad that she had sent Sweetie away. With that she brought the nozzle closer to him.

Spike’s eyes came open at once, and he gave a yelp in surprise. He danced his feet and gave a few more cries of surprise as the icy feel of it fell across him. The cold had sent yet another feeling through him, one more foreign feeling that this day had brought him.

As the chilly water washed down his back he began to tremble more forcibly. He lifted his head to look at Rarity, trying to gauge her expression.

His eyes caught hers as he looked up to her over the edge of the bathtub, and his expression made her pause. It was a plea, it was him begging for some sign from her that things weren’t nearly as horrible as they seemed in that moment.

Oh, Spike, don’t look at me like that, she thought as she fought to adjust the faucet, that’s not the look I adore seeing upon your face… that’s not the face you wear when you look at her…

“Lean… lean into me, Spike,” she said, sliding closer to the edge of the tub. “Here, lean into me.”

Rarity leaned across the edge of the tub, her forelegs wide. As her magic pressed the towel to his back once again it also ushered him forward, closer to her embrace.

As the spray of the frigid waters splashed over him he barely noticed. Instead he settled into Rarity’s forelegs.

“My poor Spikey-Wikey,” she said softly as his arms came up to her. “Oh, my poor Spikey-Wikey.”

The warmth of Rarity’s chest enveloped him, and even as the cold waters continued to slide over him and the towel pressed against him Spike cared little.

Sheets of white draped around him, the soft feel of her coat wrapped him closer to her. To Spike it was as though a dream had overtaken him, only his own shaking and the pelting of the water reminding him that he was in the waking world.

Her touch was gentle, and as his wet scales brushed her coat she gave a few trembles of her own, the two shaking as the water sloshed about in the tub.

He could go no farther into her chest. The edge of the tub separated the dragon whelp and the mare, so he stood there feeling Rarity’s breathing as she lay against him, listening to the sound of it leaving her nose. The blessed heat of her body fell into him, sheltering him from the driving cold, and the rhythmic beating of her heart called out to him over and over in a steady cadence that called him deeper, deeper in ways Spike struggled to understand…

As the spray of the frigid waters caught her, strands of Rarity’s mane began to fall loose and drift over him. Rarity could only try to gently lift them away as his arms came up beneath her forelegs, slowly crept up her ribs to find the warmth there that she offered him without hesitation.

This is fine, this is normal, there’s nothing to this, she told herself over and over as she listened to Spike’s breath, as she leaned over the lip of the tub that much more. This is a friend helping a friend. This is Rarity, a mature, adult mare, helping Spike, a child that she cares about… nothing more, nothing more…

Rarity lifted her body higher. As she did he did as well, and the new contact with the frigid waters that clung to him made her shudder through her movement. She slowly turned off the water even as she cursed herself for putting him through this, for not being able to find some other way to help him, and in doing so she dropped the towel.

Inside her something grew, an emotion she had not expected.

Spike, though, did not notice. All he knew was that her beautiful scent was washing over him, her wondrous heat was falling through him, and that the feel of her coat was around him and over him.

It was all so… lovely.

Rarity looked down over the towel, past Spike’s head, and down into the bottom of the gleaming tub. The red of his blood had faded to purple; something that she soon realized was part of his draconic nature. She looked down across his back, and there, to her immediate relief, she saw no more blood welling to the surface. A quick scan of her eyes saw that even the cracked scales still held fast to his body.

With a large sigh she lowered her head to Spike’s, just to give him that much more assurance that everything was fine… everything was fine. The bleeding had stopped, none of the broken scales had fallen away, and the cold water was gone. Everything was going to be fine.

Spike moved, pressing his hands closer around her. He gently lifted a wafting bit of her mane, set it carefully behind her ear once more. Rarity felt his head move, felt him slowly nuzzling closer to her chest. He slowly nestled to her, wiping his face against her chest and up to her neck and back before giving a contented hum…

It almost worked. It almost drew her away from the emotion. It was almost enough to make her forget what had transpired in her home that day. It was such a warm feeling, the way he was cuddling to her, the way he was so happy just to be with her.

It made her happy to accept the gift of his affection, to hold him close as the last of the cold water gurgled down the drain.

It was... lovely.

But it could not last.

Rarity pulled him closer, wrapped her forelegs around his head to force him to stop moving. Spike jumped in alarm, his hands hovering around her before settling down upon the lip of the tub to balance himself.

Upon feeling his awkwardness she lowered him, let the edge of the tub sit firmly between them once more.

There must always be something between us, Darling, it seems…

They sat there, just listening to each other breath, wrapped tight in an embrace as she prepared her words. She let him hold her even as she made ready to speak the truth that would bring this act to a close.

“Oh, my poor Spikey-Wikey,” she said, letting the last few drops of water drip from her mane, watching as it left a trail down his back before dropping into the tub. “Oh, Spike… can you even know how furious I am with you right now?”

Spike bolted upright, his eyes coming wide in shock at her words.


“I am absolutely livid, Spike!” she said with a tremble. “Livid!”

“Rarity, I… I don’t, didn’t…” he said as he tried to look up to her. Rarity, though, still held him, and didn’t let go. She made him simply stand and listen, refused to let him look at her with the deep concern and worry that she knew was already painted on his face.

You aren’t to look at me like that, she thought. Not yet, I’m not ready to forgive you yet. This must be said…

“I’m so very angry with you, Spike,” she continued as her eyes misted over, “for letting me hurt you. How, how could you do that to me? How could you let me do that when… when you knew it would hurt you so?”

She felt him blinking, felt his eyelashes rubbing softly against her coat as he began to comprehend what she was saying.

“And, and… you lied. You lied to me, Spike!” she said as a few more wet drops fell from her and dripped down the length of his body to the tub below.

She allowed him to think that they were a few more stray drops of the cold water falling from her mane. In truth, that which dripped from her was far warmer than that, and began not in her mane but at the corners of her eyes.

“You lied to me so that I would keep hurting you! How… how could you do that to me, Spike!? That’s horrible! I-I never want to hurt you again! I… care, about you, Spike. It’s awful, awful for me to think…”

She stopped as the feeling of his clawed hand running up and down her foreleg reached for her. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Rarity, I didn’t mean to lie. I was just afraid that, that if there was nothing else for me to do that… that you might make me leave…”

Spike took a step backwards, and for the first time since he had been deposited in the tub he looked up to her big blue eyes and met them with the same sincerity that he hoped she would always see in him.

“I want to come here, I like being with you. I like working with you, spending time with you,” he began, his words reaching out for her, “I’m sorry I lied, but I was just, well… afraid. I was afraid that, well, if I’m not useful to you, like I am with Twilight, that you might not want me around…”

Rarity’s mind splashed through the first few months that they had spent in each other’s company, the first time that he’d asked to help her here in here shop, the times she had borrowed him to fetch gems. Yes, she had been aloof, had sensed his feelings then. She had known, but what had it been to her?

He had just been a child, one with a crush. If he wished to serve at her beck and call she had hardly been one to turn down a free set of hooves.

Err, hands.

But that had all been before.

Couldn’t he see how much more she saw in him, how things had changed since that wonderful day? Couldn’t he see how she had allowed herself to fawn over him, how much harder she was trying now? By Celestia! She’d even been willing to fight for him! She! Rarity!

That’s all I can do for you, Darling, that’s all I know to do for you. Can’t you see that I…

Rarity looked back to him, saw him staring at her, waiting for her with his hands curled around the lip of the tub.

“No, Spike, please,” she said as she stepped forward, sitting before him. “I-I had promised you this afternoon with me, here. I meant it. I should not send you away, not at all. I like having you here as well. A lady appreciates the presence of a gentleman, you know…”

“A lady,” repeated Spike. With that his smile grew wide, and she looked down to see that marvelous expression across his face. It was the same one he wore when she had presented him with the gem for all of his hard work, the same he wore when he had fanned her at the spa, the same he always wore when he looked at her with those charming emerald eyes…

Who is the mare that you think you see when you look at me like this, Darling? Who is that mare who has earned such devotion? Shall I ever meet her? Should I be jealous of her?

Rarity took a step forward, laid her head to his, forehead to forehead.

“Spike,” she said in a whisper, “promise me. Promise me that you’ll never, never, never let me hurt you again. You don’t deserve to be hurt, by anyone, and especially not by me. Promise it to me, Spike. Swear it to me, swear that you’ll never let me hurt you again… in any way… in any way…”

“I-I promise,” spoke the whelp, jumping a touch as she slowly rocked her head back and forth on top of his, granting him the nuzzle that she had pulled out of before. The subtext that scared her was gone; this truly was simply an act between friends, ones who now had healed the gap between them.

“Do you forgive me?” she asked softly. “Do you forgive me, for hurting you?”

“Of course,” he said quickly, returning the nuzzle, “You didn’t do it on purpose. You didn’t know. It was my fault. I’m sorry… I don’t blame you…”

With that the two lifted their heads, smiles across both of their faces. As they stared at one another the soft, wet sounds of the bathroom sounded out around them.

“Rarity?” asked Spike, hiding slightly behind the edge of the tub, “Can I, uhhh… can I tell ya’ something embarrassing?”

At once Rarity bit the inside of her lip.

The same feeling of anxious anticipation flew through that she had felt as they had fallen through the sky together, the sense of being on pins and needles as she suspected that he was about to make known his feelings for her. She moved to stop him, to once again put her hoof to his lips. But something caught her, a little voice inside her mind made her question herself.

Oh, it said, let him tell you! Twilight knows, Pinkie knows… half of Central Equestria knows! Why don’t you let him tell you?

Because, she answered herself, reaching for him, you know how I am with precious things.

But it was too late. Spike had already begun to speak…

“I’m stuck.”

“What?” she asked with more than a little confusion. “I’m sorry, Darling, what was that?”

He blushed and looked down across the wet interior of the tub and the sopping wet towel that sat stained red and purple with his blood. He lifted his eyes to her again as his embarrassment grew.

“The inside of the tub is all wet and slippery, and it’s kind of big, and I can’t get any foothold and it hurts if I try to lift my arms to climb and… and I’m, stuck…”

He peered at her over the lip of the bathtub, and she gazed down at him. Her confusion gave way to something less. As they looked at one another smiles graced their faces, and with that they began to laugh.

As her soft magic wafted over him once more, their laughter filled the bathroom. As it lifted him from the tub it echoed around them, ending only as she embraced him in a gentle hug, carefully avoiding the wounds that seemed somehow already to be healing in a very special magic that superseded any simple spell or incantation.