• Published 7th Feb 2021
  • 1,123 Views, 42 Comments

Scales and Sweets - SilverEyedWolf



After a couple of dates, Rarity tells Spike it's not going to happen. This is the fall-out.

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Back Into the Swing

Author's Note:

This one got a little away from me, huh. Don't get too excited about the upload time, this one was already half (3/4th really) written when I posted the first one, but I was still waiting on TG to get back to me about his art for the cover.

Some exposition, a lot of scene placement, some set dressing if you will.

Some groundwork laid.

See'ya next chapter! :heart:

Spike sat heavily in the chair next to the register, once again placed at the table closest to Pinkie Pie's station.

If the Saturday rush was late, the Sunday one was even more so; it was closing in on eight o'clock and the bakery tables were still next-to empty. Besides Spike there was a singular other pony, coat an ashy gray under his slightly darker fedora, sipping a coffee and reading passively through the Ponyville News.

Spike perked up when a dish was placed before him, a decently sized danish that looked to hold a red jam and cream cheese.

"Are you feeling any better?" Pinkie asked, plopping into the seat across from him. While her hair held its normal, exuberant stature, her eyes were soft and full of worry and sorrow.

Pity, perhaps.

"I am, actually," he said with a smile, reaching over and patting her shoulder. "Guess I needed to get it all out instead of trying to drown it, huh?" he chuckled, picking up the pastry and taking a bite.

It was cherry jam; slightly tart, and very sweet.

He glanced away from the sweet, and back into Pinkie's unchanged eyes. Sighing through his nose, he took a sip of the coffee to clear his mouth before he said, "Really, Pinkie, I feel much better now. I don't know how much longer it'll last, but right now I'm okay. Promise," he said, swiping a digit across his chest and placing it on a closed eye.

Pinkie huffed, but leaned back into her chair and nodded. "I guess better is better than nothing," she murmured.

Chuckling, Spike said, "It's definitely better than worse."

Pinkie's eyebrows narrowed for a moment before she giggled. "Maybe a little," she said, sticking the tip of her tongue out at him.

Taking another bite of the pastry, Spike chewed it as he ran his eyes along the walls, gazing through the glass of the cabinets at the sweets and savories beneath it until Pinkie cleared her throat.

"Not that we mind having your around Spike, but what're you planning for the rest of your day?"

He sighed, putting his pastry down on the plate before steepling his digits and leaning his head on them. "I should get back to Twilight first probably, and let her know I'm alive. Then I'll catch up on work before heading home, I suppose."

Pinkie seemed to be waiting for something more, but let out a breath before nodding. "Alright Spike. Just please remember that you have a bunch of friends to lean on if you need it."

He nodded, smiling at her. "Yeah, I've got..." he paused, working his jaw for a moment before saying, "I've got most of you girls, plus Big Mac and Disccy, all the way up to mom if I really need her. I'll be alright."

She looked him over before nodding slowly. "Alright then. But first, you should finish your breakfast!" she said as she perked up.

Spike picked up the danish as Pinkie bounced away from the table at high speed, pausing to chuckle before putting half of it in his mouth. He was still chewing when he saw Pinkie reappear in the kitchen doors, and nearly choked when he saw the platoon of plates on her back, each with a different series of baked goods on top.

He coughed as Pinkie neared the table and slid the plates onto the tabletop before sliding herself back onto the chair.

Swallowing the half-chewed mass in his mouth, he said, "Ugh, Pinkie?" around a quiet cough.

"Hmm?"

"Wha-what's all this?" he squeaked out as she leaned back in her chair.

Snickering, she leaned back as she lifted her eyebrows. "Why Spike, it's the rest of breakfast silly!" She watched him look over the table before leaning forward, narrowing her eyes. "Eat. Up."

They stared at each other for a long few moments, Spike looking on in horror as Pinkie's expression remained unchanging.

Then she snorted and leaned back, giggling. "We're having a tasting today silly," she said, waving a hoof at him as she giggled into her other one. "We like helping creatures find their new favorites every now and then."

Spike sighed, slumping in relief with a paw over his chest.

"The other half is yours, though," she said, tilting her head at him as he froze. "Well, go ahead Spike," she said, waving a hoof at the plates nearest him.

"Dig in."

***** ***** ***** ***** ******

Spike left the cafe about five minutes after that, fleeing Pinkie's hearty laughter at having gotten him twice with the same joke. After thanking her and offering to pay for his breakfast (waved away by both mares in the bakery) he was out the door, blinking in the unfiltered sunlight of Sunday morning.

Stretching again in the warm spring sun, he forced a shiver through his scales before he started on down the road. His two rear paws lifted some of the loose dirt that had settled on top of the lane, and he held his long tail just over the road to keep it from dragging through the dirt.

While the sun had been up for a while, it seemed as though most of the village had just woken up, a few friendly faces waving back at him when he greeted them.

There were a few more in the park he detoured through on the way home, mostly colts and fillies playing some pick-up games of hoofball, buckball, basketball, tag, and a few he didn't recognize as anything cohesive.

He neared the Castle of Friendship a little quicker than has was comfortable with, slowing his pace until he stopped at the foot of the stairs.

Groaning at his own hesitation after a moment, he rolled his neck and shoulders before walking up and pushing open the doors.

"Hello, and welcome to—Oh, hey there Spike," said the pony behind the desk Twilight had installed in the main room after she found a group of unexpected ponies 'touring' her bedroom.

"Twilight's been worried about you," the secretary, Paper Trail, said as she shuffled through a couple of loose pages on her desktop. "She's in the school right now; she's probably about halfway through her adult calculus class."

"Ah, right, the breaking point," he said, nodding. "Any letters or notes for me?"

"Well, Twilight of course wants to hear from you asap, and she also assigned a senior apprentice to your archival duties for the time being," she said, reading off of the note before handing him three small slips of paper. "And Big Mac left a note saying that he canceled your game night since he figured you wouldn't have been up for it Saturday night."

"Thanks, Trail," he said, reading over the two flowing scripts before glancing at the rigid letters on the last one. "I'm going to go relieve the apprentice then, would you tell Twi I'm in the library?"

"Will do," she said with a nod, before lifting her book from underneath the counter.

Snickering, Spike nodded at it. "Your dust cover's too loose. What'cha actually reading?" he asked, slipping the paper notes beneath one of his storage scales.

Glancing quickly at the door and down the hallway, she lifted an eyebrow before showing him the actual cover.

"In public, Paper Trail!" he pretended to exclaim, raising a wrist to his forehead. "What would Twilight think? What would your mother think? What would your wife think!?"

"She'd think that I have good taste," she said with a wiggle of her eyebrows. "And as for Twilight..."

She waved the dust cover gently through the air before replacing it.

Dropping the act, he said, "Nah, she'd never believe you were reading the History of Basket Weaving. You should grab a copy of a Shepherd Queen novel or some other pulp piece."

"Ooh, I don't suppose you have an extra copy of the Elevator cover? It's about the right size..."

Laughing, Spike started his trek to his little section of the castle. "I'll see if I can't find one for Nimble to bring you when I get him outta my archive."

"You're a good drake!" Trail yelled after him, before settling back into her chair and raising her pages again.

He chuckled as he walked down the hallway, taking the seemingly random twists and turns necessary to reach the large half-public library deep inside the castle. The librarian, Scroll Star, perked up and nodded at him as he waved, not stopping to bother the stallion and the ponies checking out a couple of hardbacks from him. Sighing as he neared a door on the south side of the room, he steeled himself before throwing it open.

"What," he barked out, grinning to himself as he heard something clatter within the room, "is the first thing you are to do when working with artifact scrolls!?"

A young stallion poked his head up from behind the long table he'd fallen behind.

"S-S-Secure the surrounding areas from contamination?"

Looking around the room, Spike nodded as he noted that the windows had been shuttered this time, and the wall lights had been lowered to near-complete darkness. The air purifier and dehumidifier were humming on the ceiling next to the outside wall, and the pony was working on the specific table that had been runed to assist these facilities.

"So why," Spike asked, flicking a paw back towards the open door, "the buck, was that unlocked!?"

"I, uh," the pony stuttered, his ears flicking down along his skull. "Forgot?"

Sighing, Spike closed the door and locked it before activating the sign that displayed that the room was in official use. Walking over to a desk at the head of the room, opened one of the drawers and pulled out a pair of thin cotton gloves he didn't technically need but used in the name of professionalism.

Walking over, he nodded at the pony.

"At least you don't have a bucking bag of cheese crisps on the table this time, Nimble Wings. What're we looking over?"

Using his wings, covered with the same material as Spike's gloves, Nimble gently brushed one of the runes on the table. A perfect copy of the scroll floated up and out of the original, hovering in the air. Reaching out with his primaries, he slowly unrolled the image of the scroll as the magic of the table replicated his actions on the original piece.

"Looks to be one of the historical scrolls brought over by the earth ponies in the mass migration away out of the west," he said, pressing another rune that put a magnification effect over the scroll. "The runes appear to match those of Rockhoof's ponies."

"They do," Spike said absently, looking closer at the magnification. "As a matter of fact, I think these might match them perfectly, putting its age a couple of hundred years later."

"There's no smoke or water damage visible on the scroll. Would light age the parchment that much?"

"Hmm," Spike hummed, reaching out and moving the magnification with his claws. "Here, see these stains? I'd say that the scroll is suffering from over-reading by unclean hooves. This isn't age, it's the result of oil being absorbed into the scroll."

"...Ew."

"There's a reason we wear oil protection," he said passively. "How much of this alphabet do you recognize?"

Nimble reached out to reposition the magnification before making a noise in his throat. "We haven't covered it yet, so I can't actually read it yet. I recognize these runes as vowels, and I think this word is... wheat? Grain?"

"That's correct actually, it's a word used for an ancient breed of wheat," he murmured, nodding to the pegasus. "I'll go ahead and take over here then. You can take off if you like, but I'd suggest checking out the guide Rockhoof made to translating ancient earth ponish runes. Oh, and would you take Paper Trail one of the extra dust covers for Shepherd's Elevator novel?"

Nimble chuckled. "What's she hiding now?"

"The newest Marriet Trotter book by that self-publishing stallion," Spike chuckled. "The one that Twilight hates so much and Rar—"

Spike swallowed his words, his back suddenly tense and his mind blank.

"Oh, I didn't know that Rarity is a fan," Nimble said, his back to Spike as he pulled the coverings off his wings. "How'd the last date go, by the way? Way back on Tuesday, right? Do anything fun?"

Spike snorted. "No, no I couldn't say that," he muttered, before waving a paw at the stallion. "We can talk about all that later, though. Go on, get. And don't forget to lock the door on the way out!" he called after the bewildered pony being waved away.

He waited until he heard the lock click, before sighing and starting to gently roll the scroll back up. He pressed the runes and gently picked up the ancient scroll before placing it on a cotton mesh that he rolled up before putting it into one of the specialized boxes they kept the rolls of paper in. He walked over to the wall and rolled up the wooden cover and replaced the box before he closed the cover and locked it again.

Looking over the table, he nodded at its clear surface, before he sagged against the wall and slowly scraped down to the ground.

"I'm okay," he told himself hollowly, pressing the back of his paw to his nose as he sniffled. "I got it all out this morning, and I don't need to go to tears every time I hear her name." He breathed in, breathed out. "I'm okay."

He was still steadying his breath when he heard a knocking at the door.

"Spike?"

Sighing, he called out, "You're okay to unlock them Twi, everything's put away!"

He heard the tinkling sound of a spell being used to unlock the room before the light pervaded through the opened door.

"Spike?"

Raising his paw over the edge of the table, he chuckled as he said, "Over here."

"Oh sweetie," he heard her breathe before closing the door. A moment later she was at his side, sitting on the ground next to him as she put a hoof out.

"I'm okay," he said, raising his paw and squeezing the hoof gently. "Just got smacked down for a moment is all, I'm already getting back up," he said, placing the paw on the ground and pulling himself up with the long table in front of him.

"You don't need to," Twilight tried, pausing when a chuckling Spike leaned over to hug her.

"Thank you Twilight, really thank you, but I've had this conversation already today," he said, letting do and smiling at her. "Well, sort of. Promised Pinkie that I'd go to somebody if I need, and I'll promise the same to you as well." He sighed, stretching his back. "Besides, I already cried this morning, I think there's a refresh period before I can break all the way down again."

She looked up at him with big, soft eyes. "There isn't, though."

He snorted, pressing his palm against her nose. "Cut that out," he said, rubbing her nose roughly before patting her head. "I don't need to wallow right now, and we both know that."

Twilight looked at him for another few moments, unsure.

Sighing, Spike threw his paws up and shrugged. "Well, fine, you do you I guess. I'm gonna grab a scroll and start transcribing it though, so keep the tears to a minimum."

Her frown increased for a second before she sighed and let her wings droop.

"Alright, fine, I'll drop it," she said, before flicking a wing up to point at his snout. "But I want you to drop work, for the rest of today at least. There's no telling when you're gonna be reminded of it again, and I'm not going to let you bury yourself in work until you forget about your troubles."

Spike sighed, waving his paw at her limply. "What am I supposed to do then? Go drink some more about it? I still have the headache from this morning, thank you."

Twilight flinched a bit when he told her he'd been drinking, but instead of lecturing him she sighed and pressed a hoof to her forehead. "I don't know Spike, I just know that burrowing into a dark room for hours on end doesn't end well for your mental standing."

"Know from experience?" he quipped.

Frowning heavily, she batted at his arm with a hoof. "Hey, don't come after me just 'cause you're down," she said, holding her hoof back threateningly as he chuckled at her.

Raising his paws, he shook his head. "Ay, I give, I give."

She narrowed her eyes at him before sighing and dropping the hoof. "Really though, Spike, you should get out. Maybe head into the park and find a bench to enjoy?"

Spike sighed, looking back at the locked racks of work he had on loan, mostly from Canterlot.

"Fine," he ceded, his eyebrows knitting together in thought. "That doesn't sound awful. What about you, what're you up to?"

"Oh, uhm," she said, looking away and scratching the back of her head. "Well, honestly, I'm a bit behind on some of my returns, and the check-out books need to be gone over for anything late, and—"

Snorting, Spike cut her off to give her a single, slowly raised eyebrow.

"Hey, I didn't just get shot down," she said, poking his chest with a hoof. "I can lurk around dark rooms all... I want... to..."

The other eyebrow joined the first.

Twilight held her gaze for another few moments before sighing. "Yeah, that one sounded better in my head," she said with a small smile as she looked down at the floor. "I guess all that can wait for another day or two..."

"There we go Twilight!" Spike playfully said, giving her a small push on her shoulder. "Let's make an event of it then, grab a picnic from the kitchens and maybe a certain captain of the guard?" he said with a smirk.

"Sp-Spike, I'm sure she has better things to do—" she started to say with a blush.

"Then she'll be just like the both of us!" he exclaimed as he started walking out of the archival room, Twilight scrabbling to follow after his longer strides. He waited for her to exit before he locked the doors with a key from one of his scales. Nodding after testing the knob and finding it locked he spun around and once again forced her to keep up with his strides.

"Now, I just had breakfast, but I'm sure you just had your usual?"

Twilight mumbled something under her breath, which was starting to get heavier as Spike hurried them through the hallways.

"Yeah-huh," he deadpanned, before continuing, "And since it's not quite lunchtime, I'm sure Captain Fizzy hasn't had anything more than her usual two cups."

"You know she hates when you call her that."

Chuckling, Spike just kept the long strides up until he stopped suddenly before a door, Twilight taking another few steps before skidding to a stop and turning around with a blush.

He didn't quite let her catch her breath before he used the joints on his first two left digits to rap on the door.

"Come in," called a voice on the other side, tone firm if a little distracted.

Spike opened the door and shoved his head in between the pieces of wood, grinning as the dark mulberry mare groaned slightly under her breath.

"Well that's not a good sign," Fizzlepop Berrytwist, Captain of Her Highness Princess Twilight's royal guard, said as she pushed away the thin stack of paperwork from in front of her. "You're only ever here to drag me out of my office, and since I don't hear any explosions outside, I assume this is another exercise in frivolity."

"Woo Fizzle, you could wilt a daisy with those words," Spike said brightly.

"Too bad you're kudzu," she sighed, before rolling a hoof in the air. "What're you here for, Spike?"

"Well," he said, opening the door the rest of the way to reveal Twilight smiling tensely and waving at Fizzle, "we were hoping you could accompany us into the park for your lunch break."

Smiling lightly at the princess, Fizzle glanced at Spike before rolling her eyes. "You know I don't take my lunch breaks, I just eat in here."

"And since Twilight came into my place of work and kicked me out, I've taken her away as well as revenge," he said, patting Twilight's head until she swatted his paw away. "Ow. And since we're all being bothered today, I thought we could pull you along as well."

She glanced up at him, blushing when he winked and looked down at Twilight pointedly.

"I guess I can take a break today," she said slowly, smirking when Spike chuckled and Twilight's smile grew a bit. "But I get to call the place we get to stop and eat at."

"Deal," Spike said, nodding at Twilight. "If you two wanna meet me at the door, I'll go get the picnic basket and blanket."

Breaking from the group, Spike made his way to the kitchen and grabbed an assortment of sandwiches, making sure to include at least two he knew the others liked. Grabbing a pink gingham square from one of the closets on the way back to the front, he put the folded sheet on top of the basket supplied by the kitchen, pinning it between the handles.

The two mares were chatting quietly when Spike reached the front doors, Fizzlepop nodding as he approached.

Hefting the basket, Spike said, "One thermos of chilled coffee, eight sandwich halves, three salads."

"What, no appetizer?" Twilight asked with a glint in her eyes and a smile.

"That's what the walk is for, Miss Princess," he said with a pointed look at her flanks. "Maybe should have skipped the sandwiches..."

Scowling and blushing, Twilight lit her horn and Spike felt something appear behind him before something heavy and soft smashed into the back of his head before disappearing.

"Ah yes," he murmured, rubbing the impact zone. "The ancient Pillow of Shame. How appropriate."

"It's gonna be the ancient moat of shame if you're not careful," Twilight threatened, before sighing and glancing back at her hips.

"It was one hundred percent a joke, highness," Spike said pointedly, chuckling when her back tensed. He waited for her to relax before swinging his head towards the captain. "Right, Fizzlepop?"

Spike looked back and forth as the mares blushed and mumbled at each other for a minute before he picked up the basket and pushed open the doors.

"Right, with that out of the way, shall we be on ours?" he asked, nodding his head towards the park.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

After an afternoon of none-too-careful pokes by Spike, accented by a couple of magically assisted dunks in the park's lake, Spike spent a few hours checking up on the archives and getting the things that were out of place back into them before he returned to his little home just east of the train station, on the west side of town.

Lifting one of his scales to pull his key out, he reached out and gently patted the bark beside his door as he unlocked it and slipped into the familiar lobby.

After his (expedited) completion of a library sciences degree, he'd introduced the idea of rebuilding the town's public library, more for creatures to peruse without having to go into the castle than for any other reason. And Twilight had been filling her shelves more and more recently, so the extra space was needed anyways.

After thinking on it, conferring with their friends and the mayor, and embarking on at least one quest to find a particular breed of old tree seed, Twilight and Applejack had come together to regrow the old Golden Oak Library, younger and bigger than ever.

After some hemming and hawing, Spike had accepted the duties of head general librarian and moved in, taking up the room that Twilight had kept.

Loneliness hit swiftly, and Spike had taken to keeping in Twilight's archival wing just to have other creatures to hang out with after work. His friendships with Big Mac and Discord had deepened, but even they couldn't keep him from staring at the ceiling in his quiet house some nights.

Which had ultimately lead to him pressuring Rarity, gently but persistently, into a date.

He sighed as he moved across the room and behind the desk, turning the mechanism key that started the lights. Pulling out the rattling bin that connected to the wall, he started pulling out books that had been returned while he was absent.

"Whatcha—" A voice started beside him.

His entire body seized and his legs tensed, shooting him up into the air. With the flap of a single wing, he spun himself so that his body hit the ceiling, all four paws digging into the wood with his sharp talons. His tail and neck flattened against the wood as he pressed himself against the surface, tilting his head just enough to see—

"Pinkie Pie!?" he squeaked out, half question and half accusation.

"That's me!" she replied with a wide smile and a wave. "But you know, I think it'd be easier to talk down here. Unless you just wanna lower your neck! That'd be like talking through one of those old school pipe things on ships, but with your head down at the end of the pipe!"

She giggled like that was the second-funniest thing she'd heard that hour.

"Uh, yeah, let me... just..." Spike murmured, shaking his head as he pushed his front paws against the ceiling to pull his talons out of the wood. He put his paws out as he hung from the ceiling from his rear claws, trying to catch himself in a headstand for when his feet popped out.

Unfortunately, one was really in there apparently, and he hung by only one claw for a moment as Pinkie giggled up at him.

"You want me to help?"

Spike shrugged. "I wouldn't mind, but I don't wanna land on you," he said, looking up into her eyes. "I know I'm scrawny, but I'm also kinda dense."

"I know some fillies who'd say the same," Pinkie giggled before she stood up onto her hind legs and grabbed onto Spike's shoulders. "But I guess they'll probably get some time with you now, huh?"

Spike swallowed dryly. Half of it was the conversation of any type of mare beside Rarity, but the other half was his new view.

Looking straight up/down at the floor, he cleared his throat before saying, "Uh, Pinkie, you're sort of showing your whole, uhm, tummy right now."

She looked down at Spike's glowing face and giggled. "It's fine Spike, I know a gentlecreature like yourself won't linger anywhere." Her tail swished behind her legs, teasing the edge of Spike's downward vision. "Riiight?"

He swallowed again, before lifting his free back leg to the ceiling to try and press himself out. He felt her legs wrap around his barrel, just above/below his arms, and with a firm tug, his claws popped free.

Landing in a heap, Spike shook his head before looking up her torso and into the giggle muzzle a few hooves above him.

"Thank you," he said, quickly curling up into a sit and rolling his shoulders to work out a bit of the strain of landing on them. "But also, it's your fault I was up there, so I guess it's a thank you for fixing the problem you caused," he said as he looked over his shoulder, sticking his tongue out at her.

There was a flash of Pinkie-pout before a chuckle overtook it.

"Sorry," she said, holding out a hoof. "I just got bored while I was waiting, and you know how things happen when I get bored."

Snorting, he snagged her hoof instead of tapping it and used it to pull her onto her hooves. Letting go, he stood up again and cracked his back before turning around to face her.

Looking down, he asked, "What were you asking, before you tried to send me to the moon?"

"I was asking what you were up to!"

Glancing to the side, he waved a paw at the metal bin. "This's the night return bin, but it gets used whenever somecreature needs to give something back whenever I'm not here. I was just gonna process them before checking the order box to see if Canterlot sent me any of the books I ordered over the last week."

"Oooh!" Pinkie said, trying to look excited.

Spike couldn't help but laugh at the expression on her muzzle. "It's not glamorous, but it's not so bad. You just gotta know how to read the spine," he said, tapping a laminated sticker on the dust jacket, "and know how the library organizes its card catalog," he said with a digit pointing at a large series of metal drawers under the counters.

Opening a book, he showed Pinkie the date written in ink. "So with the number on the spine we know which drawer to look into, and with the date written inside we can see who checked it out."

Glancing at the spine he quickly pulled open one of the many tall drawers, filled with a forest of skinny index cards with numbers hovering over them in several places. Shuffling through the cards he found the one he wanted and pulled it out.

"So, uhm, looks like Silver Quills checked out this," he checked the cover, "ink and paint making manual, I guess he's looking to get into making his own. It's within return date, so we just initial beside the name," which he did, "then the book goes on the returns cart. The sides are labeled as processed and not, so we know which ones are ready to be shelved and which need to be checked back in."

Slotting the book onto the cart, he nodded. "Simple enough, right?"

Glancing to his side, he chuckled at the lost face Pinkie had. "I guess it gets easy after you have a decade or so of practice to get the rhythm down."

"It's a lot of words and numbers," Pinkie said, picking up a book and eyeballing the spine. "So, what's the big eff mean?"

"Ah, that's a fiction book," he said, moving down the counter and tapping the end of the shelves. "Fiction is basically grouped by author's last name, then I like to sort them alphabetically unless it belongs to a series. Same as the first one, but these index cards," he said, pulling the drawer open, "have letters instead."

"So this one by... A. A. Mous, it goes with the emms?"

"Yup, it goes to the M card," he flicked through the cards, "then we'd go to the M-o's, then M-o-u's, and," he said, pulling a card triumphantly, "checked out by one Flutt—"

He stopped, glancing down at the cover of the book and sighing before signing beside the name and slipping it back into the forest of cards.

"Who checked out that one, Spike?" Pinkie asked with slightly-too-big-to-be-innocent eyes.

Mumbling incomprehensibly under his breath, Spike placed the book on the cart and cleared his throat. "Now with that one done, we can move on to—"

And so it went for the next half hour, as Spike coached Pinkie through the processes of checking in the books in the bin, before taking care of the leftover ones on the cart, before he showed her how he pushed the cart around to shelve books.

At the end of it, Spike nodded behind his desk, offering a clenched paw that Pinkie met with her hoof.

After a half-minute of looking over his clear check-out counter and check-in cart, he blinked and looked over at Pinkie. "Hey, wait," he said, pointing at her. "What're you even doing here? Did you come to check out a book?"

"No, silly," Pinkie said, rolling her eyes as she playfully pushed on Spike's hip. "I came to hang out! You had a... Well, a lot of a morning, ya know? So I came over to make sure you didn't have a bad evening or anything. Doctor Pinkie just following up, right?" She giggled. "I thought maybe we could play some board games or visit one of the girls, but this was fun too, in its own way."

"Oh, uhm," Spike started, scratching the back of his head when he realized he didn't have a follow-up. "Uh, thank you. It means a lot."

"Anytime," Pinkie said with a smile, before looking around the library. "So, you got any board games?"

Smacking his lips together, Spike looked around the room as he thought before his eyes met a specific section of the library. Frowning and scratching the top of his head, he let out a noncommittal grunt.

"Yes and no," he said, walking over and pulling a thick textbook from the wall and displaying the large O&O design that served as a title. "I don't really have a lot of games with actual boards or things, but I've expanded the 794 section a bit. You wanna pick up your old swashbuckler again?"

"Wow Spike, you sure know how to thrill a girl," she deadpanned.

He snorted. "Oh, apologies, Pinkie Pie, I wasn't expecting to wine and dine somepony tonight," he said, slotting the book away. "Would the lady prefer to fetch a game of parcheesi while I obtain some Franzia?"

Pinkie narrowed her eyes. "The ol' Boring-Sorority-Special, eh? You're getting warmer."

Spike couldn't help but laugh at that. "Alright, alright, I can do that. Tell you what, I'll go grab some cheap wine and pizza, you grab the board games, and we'll meet at Twilight's to bug her and Fizzle, maybe see if Glim-Glam and Trix are home?"

Pinkie's face brightened before it dimmed with a slight blush. "Ah, wait, Starlight and Trixie are out of town right now. You know, out and 'roughing it' in Trixie's wagon."

"I bet they are," Spike said with a chuckle, one that Pinkie echoed. "I'd say we could just go bother Twi and Fizzle, but I kind of already did that this afternoon. Hmm. Are the twins back in town yet?" he asked.

"Nah, they're up in Canterlot. Pound is still getting the delivery system set up while Pumpkin works with Twilight's other unicorn friends to finish enchanting the kitchen."

"Oh yeah, Carrot and Cup gave them the Canterlot branch, huh?" Spike said, shaking his head as he remembered. "And the Crusaders are all wrapping up their teaching certifications, huh? Getting ready to help out Twilight and Glimmer in the school."

"Yeah," Pinkie nodded, tapping her hoof on her chin. "Let's see; Twilight and the castle crew are out, the Cake twins are out," she said, listing them with little gestures in the air.

"No offense to the elder Cakes, but I don't think I wanna party with them," Spike said quickly.

Nodding, Pinkie continued, "Most of the rest of the girls are busy as well. I think Fluttershy is available, but we both remember what happened last time with the yahtzee dice."

"I think she still has them embedded in her wall," Spike said with a grin. "Discord refuses to help her get them out, he says he thinks it's much too funny to remember the game where she only rolled the four ones, fifteen times in a row." Leaning in, he whispered, "Discord swears it wasn't anything he did, too. Just bad luck on her part, apparently."

Pinkie pressed her hoof to her muzzle to hide the smile, before going on, "Well, then both pegasi are out because Rainbow said she had something special planned for AJ when she finished work. That leaves me, and—"

Pinkie gulped and laughed lamely as Spike gazed stonily at her. "Just me," she squeaked.

Spike took a moment before giving her a barely forced smile. "It's alright Pinkie, I'll be okay." He chuckled hollowly. "I don't think I'm ready to invite Rarity over for a pizza party though." He perked up. "Let's make it just us, then. I'll go grab grub, you get whatever you'd like, and we'll meet back in fifteen or so?"

Pinkie nodded, smiling before standing on her back legs to give him a quick hug.

"'Ey now," he muttered, returning the gesture, "you do that and the waterworks will start again. Go on then," he said, patting her shoulder and letting her go. "You like, uhm, olives and peppers, yeah?"

"Right on both!" she said before bouncing towards the door.

"You want a key this time?" he quickly snarked, patting the scale where he kept his.

"Nah, I've got this door down pat," she returned with a wink before disappearing into the dusk outside.

Spike watched her go, shaking his head with a growing grin.

"Weirdest damned mare," he said before he followed her into the looming night and turning to the north.

Everycreature knows that Pescolt's Pizzaria was the number one joint to get a good pie, and the only other place in town specialized in calzone anyways.