• Published 12th Jan 2012
  • 18,193 Views, 590 Comments

How to Woo Your Lady in Nine Easy Steps - paleowriter

Spike orders a How-To guide book to win Rarity's heart.

  • ...

Step Four

Chapter Five: Step Four

Now that you have won the friendship of your mare, it is time to take the next step. It is time to show her you are interested in more. It is time to turn on the romance.

Before you go overboard, remember, being overly forward will only scare her off. Take things slow. Step Four is all about giving her hints that you would not be averse to starting a romantic relationship. Anything beyond a hint during this step is unwise.

You are probably wondering to yourself, what could be considered a hint, and just how small should these hints be? Obviously, you do not want your efforts to be so well hidden they go unnoticed.

Never fear. In this chapter, we will discuss how to best draw her attention to your romantic intentions. Topics covered will include doing your mare small favors, giving her thoughtful, but not overly-expensive gifts, and the art of the flirtatious smile.

Spike stood in front of his mirror, smiling at himself.

He couldn't keep it up for more than a second and a half before burying his face in his hands. "Wow, Spike, you look ridiculous."

He could make muscle poses in front of a mirror all day long, but trying to smile flirtatiously at his own reflection crossed the embarrassment line, big time. Maybe it'd be easier to do this if I got Twilight to give me a mustache again?

He tried imagining it.

Or maybe I should just stick to the other hints Smooth Fox suggests. Gifts and favors. He could do those things. He already did those things.

Spike mustered up the courage to try one last smile.

"Oh dear Celestia, no way. No way." His reflection looked like a lizard with some sort of sick stomach condition and a nervous cheek twitch. Spike shook his head quickly, and shoved the mirror far away.

Yes, gifts and favors would definitely be safer.

One would think a day of manual labor would make it easy to sleep soundly, but that clearly was not always the case. After a dreadful night of tossing and turning, Rarity had come to a few conclusions. There were certain truths that she would just need to get over herself and face.

Rarity took a deep breath, using her magic to replace the thread in her sewing machine. It was time to lay things out as they really were. "Truth number one," Rarity began, "Spike seems to have developed an attachment to Applejack," she choked slightly on the Earth pony's name as she closed the latch on her sewing machine. "Truth number two: Spike has less of an attachment to me, now." Rarity paused, her eyes drifting to the floor for a few moments.

She cleared her throat loudly. "Truth number three," Rarity's voice stayed firm, even if her knees wobbled slightly, "As Spike's good friend, I should always put his happiness first. If that means supporting his affection for another pony, then so be it."

Rarity walked across her shop to browse for the right color fabric for the first job of the day. "And…truth number four…"

She stopped in her tracks. Her expression turned pouty and her lips folded in on themselves stubbornly. Come on, now, Rarity. You already admitted it to yourself last night. You can't hide from things forever.

The unicorn sighed. "Truth number four," she repeated in resignation. "I don't want Spike to like Applejack. He's supposed to like me."

She used her magic to yank a roll of canary yellow fabric off the shelf. It tumbled out, knocking into her boxes of buttons and nearly spilling them across the floor. Rarity winced.

"But what I want doesn't matter," she continued, floating the fabric over to her workbench. "Spike can like whomever he wishes. In fact, it is better this way. It's about time that dragon got over his silly little crush on me. It can be Applejack's turn to deal with this whole mess." Rarity unrolled the fabric, setting it under her sewing machine. "True, I was getting used to him always hanging around the shop, and the way he'd follow me around town was endearing, but really, for his own sake, it's best for him to move on. It's not like I was ever going to return his affections. I'm an independent businessmare, for goodness sakes. I have my own things to worry about."

She glanced to the left at her design board, and magically flipped a large sheet of paper around to double check the stitching for the pattern.

"It was certainly flattering to know he held me in such high regard," Rarity continued to ramble, going back to her sewing. "But it would simply be selfish of me to insist that Spike feel romantic affection only towards myself and no other pony, when I obviously have no intention of pursuing anything romantic in return. It's flat out greedy, really. Spike liking only me, forever. What a notion. Hah." She managed a short laugh, but that still didn't hide that her lower lip was quivering again. Rarity put one hoof to her mouth. "Now stop that," she said softly to herself. "It's time to move on."

Rarity fell silent, slowly moving the fabric under her sewing machine. A sudden knock at the door interrupted her thoughts.

Who could be knocking? The shop doesn't open for another hour, and I'm not expecting any deliveries…

She opened the door up.


"Hey there, Rarity," Spike said pleasantly. "May I come in?"

Rarity took a few steps backwards. "Uh…yes, yes, of course," she said, regaining her composure. The dragon walked in, and Rarity followed him, closing her door. "Is there something I can help you with?" she asked. She noticed her voice sounded weaker than usual, and she frowned at herself. That just wouldn't do.

"Actually, I was here to ask you that," Spike said, clasping his hands behind his back and rocking slightly. "Twilight gave me a couple hours off this morning, and I thought I'd stop by and see if there was anything you needed done, Rarity."

Rarity smiled. "How very sweet of you," she said, her eyes shining. "In fact, I do need some help weeding the flowerbeds outside."

"Okay! I can do that!" Spike said, darting past her out the front door.

Rarity's stomach turned over on itself. "Wait. Spike, wait!" she called, chasing after the dragon. This isn't moving on! This isn't letting Spike go free to pursue Apple-er…other mares! It just felt so natural to have Spike drop by and help out…she'd lapsed back into how things used to be. Rarity, you can't keep doing this to him!

"Yes?" Spike turned around as soon as Rarity ran out front of her shop.

"Spike…" Rarity started, unsure of what exactly she wanted to say. Well, there was one part of her inside that was screaming exactly what she wanted to say, but she quashed that voice down quickly. "I…well, that is to mean, you…well…You don't need to help me out today. It's your morning off. You should spend it doing something you like."

"But I like helping you," Spike said.

Rarity's breath caught in her throat. Spike blinked at her, and she could see the confusion in his eyes. "Yes…" Rarity began slowly. "Well…still. I'm sure there are other things you might like doing that would be more relaxing for you."

"This is relaxing! Just being around you is – " Spike threw a hand over his mouth, and turned away quickly.

Rarity stared at the blushing dragon. His actions were almost enough to make Rarity hope that she may still be the mare Spike adored…but she couldn't risk trusting in that. She'd just end up hurting worse. In fact, after all she'd been through the past few days, how dare Spike make her even think that there was still that chance? She bristled. "Really. Please, Spike. I insist you spend your morning elsewhere." Her tone was harsher than necessary, but anything it took to get Spike away was for the best, right?

"You insist?" Spike's shoulders fell. "I just…I wanted to…"

"Yes, but I don't need any help right now," Rarity interrupted.

"But I…"

"Just go, Spike."

Spike narrowed his eyes and clenched his hands into fists at his sides. "Fine. I'll go. If that's what would make you happiest." He turned and stomped away before Rarity could respond.

Rarity watched him go. She sighed, and gave a guilty glance to the side. You should go after him, a voice inside her said.

And say what, then? She asked the first voice.

She had no answer. Or rather, she had too many answers, and couldn't bring herself to imagine saying any of them to Spike.

She retreated into her shop, doing her best to ignore the first voice, which had turned on her and was now drilling one word into her mind on repeat:


Spike kicked a rock along the road, smarting after his conversation with Rarity.

First she needs help, and then she doesn't? Why'd she have to get so mean about it, huh?

Spike crossed his arms, squeezing them tight to keep back the tears that were threatening to spill. Now how am I supposed to do Step Four?

Smooth Fox hadn't given any instructions for what to do if your dream mare refused to accept any favors. It just wasn't fair. Was he the first guy that this had ever happened to? Spike flushed, realizing that was entirely possible. Maybe he was just terrible at romance. Maybe he didn't deserve Rarity at all.

You are worth her…you are worth her…a little voice in his mind said, repeating Smooth Fox's mantra.

Spike barked out a laugh. "Yeah. Right."

He sat down on a bench by the park, and buried his head in his hands.

"Hey, Spike! Why you lookin' so down, huh?"

Spike unburied his face just in time to see Scootaloo shoot past him on her scooter. The filly spun around and scooted back towards him.

"What's eatin' ya?" she asked.

"Hi, Scootaloo," Spike said, drooping backwards into the bench. He really didn't want to have to deal with the little pony right now. At least she wasn't with her –

"Hey, guys! Get over here! Cutie Mark Crusaders Grief Counselors!"

- friends.

Spike sighed.

"Oh no!" Applebloom said, trotting over with Sweetie Belle. "Spike, what's wrong?"

"Nothing…" Spike said. Maybe if he didn't make a big deal out of it, they'd just go away.

"Doesn't look like nothing," Sweetie Belle observed, hopping up onto the bench next to Spike.

"C'mon, Spike, yeh can tell us," Applebloom said. "We're yer friends!"

Spike blinked, looking at each of them. "You are?"

"Of course!" Scootaloo said.

"Sure we are!" Sweetie Belle squeaked.

Spike stared at Sweetie Belle the longest. They're my friends…Sweetie Belle is my friend…

Rarity's sister smiled at him from her seat by his side.

Maybe he wasn't such a failure at Smooth Fox's book after all.

"Well…I guess I can sort of talk about it…" Spike said, warming up to the fillies.

"That's the spirit!" Scootaloo said, jumping in the air and twirling one-hoovedly around the handlebar of her scooter. "Now what's gotcha down?"

Spike sat up a bit straighter. He'd have to be careful how he worded things, especially with Sweetie Belle around.

"Okay, so…I wanted to do something nice for somepony," he began. "But they turned down the favor."

"Why'd they do that?" Applebloom asked.

"I don't know. I wish I knew," Spike answered.

"Maybe they didn't need the favor," Scootaloo suggested.

"No, they needed it," Spike said, remembering the look of Rarity's flowerbeds. "They actually suggested the favor. Then…decided they didn't want it after all."

The three little ponies exchanged glances. "So…you're upset you didn't have to do somethin' for somepony else?" Applebloom asked for clarification.

"It's more than that," Spike grumbled. "When you put it that way, it doesn't sound like it's a big deal."

They all blinked at him.

"Nevermind," Spike sighed. "I didn't think any of you would understand." He began to get up.

"Wait, don't go!" Sweetie Belle said. "We want to help!" She pushed Spike back down onto the bench.

"Yeah!" Applebloom said. "I guess rah't now we just don't understand yer problem."

"Could you tell us who you were trying to help?" Scootaloo asked.

Spike looked at the ground, swinging his legs back and forth. "Somepony important to me," he said. "This pony…well, they mean a lot to me."

"Is it Twah'light?" Applebloom asked.

"No, it's not Twilight," Spike answered.

"Is it Pinkie Pie?"

"Or Rainbow Dash?"

"What about Rarity?"

"I'm not saying who it is, okay!" Spike leapt up on his feet. "It's just somepony! And I wanted to help them, and they wanted my help, too, but then suddenly they just didn't and I don't know why. Then they told me to go away."

"I hate when my sister does that to me!" Sweetie Belle said.

Spike blanched. "I never said it was your sister!"

"Er…I know…" Sweetie Belle raised an eyebrow at him. "I didn't say it was my sister. I'm just saying that I know how you feel."

"Yeah, me too," Scootaloo said. "I always want to help out Rainbow Dash, but she usually just tells me to go away."

"Really?" Applebloom tilted her head. "Applejack is usually more than happy to have help when she needs it."

"I try to help, anyway," Sweetie Belle continued. "I like helping Rarity. But sometimes I have to be secret about it. When she finds out I did it, she gets really upset."

"She does?" Spike asked.

"Yep," Sweetie Belle said. "She likes doing things on her own. At least, that's what she always tells me."

Spike thought this through. Maybe Rarity just wanted him to go away so she could do the gardening herself? He frowned slightly. That still didn't explain why she'd been so angry about it, though.

"I don't know. I don't think this pony wanted to do the job on her own. She seemed more upset at the idea of me helping her with it," Spike explained.

"She seemed upset?" Scootaloo asked. "Nice work, Cutie Mark Crusaders Detectives! Now we know it's a mare!"

The three fillies cheered, and Spike groaned.

"So…it's a mare…who's important to yeh…and it ain't yer sister…" Applebloom mused. "Oh! Is it a mare yeh have a crush on?"

"What?" Spike scrambled backwards on the bench. "I didn't say anything like that!"

Applebloom shrugged. "Yeh just sound like mah' brother, when he's talkin' about his crush," she said. "Just a guess, s'all."

"It would explain why you're so down about all this," Scootaloo reasoned.

"What's it like, having a crush?" Sweetie Belle asked, blinking in interest.

"I don't have a crush on anypony!" Spike insisted. He could feel his cheeks turning bright red.

"Well, fine, don't tell us then," Scootaloo crossed her hooves. "Like we even care. I'm bored, anyway. Come on girls, let's go try our luck with frisbee golf cutie marks."

"Alrah't," Applebloom said, but then she looked at Spike. "Sorry, Spike. Didn't mean to get yeh upset or nothin'. Good luck with everythin'!"

Applebloom and Scootaloo took off, but Sweetie Belle stayed behind.

"What is it like, having a crush?" Sweetie Belle asked again.

"It's not much fun, that's for sure," Spike mumbled.

"Oh," Sweetie Belle sat next to him for another moment. "Well, I hope everything works out for you. Maybe whatever pony you're talking about wouldn't mind having the favor done, if you didn't let them catch you doing it. That's what I do at least."

She hopped off the bench and trotted off to join her friends. Spike watched her go, considering her words.

One way or another, he'd have to do Step Four. If he had to do it secretly, then maybe he'd just have to do it secretly.

In any case, it was time to get back to the library. He'd promised Twilight he'd be back before lunch. And his chores would take him up through dinnertime.

"Tonight, then," Spike decided. "I'll work on Step Four tonight."

"SURPRISE!" Sweetie Belle slammed the door open and Rarity jumped up from her work bench.

"Sweetie Belle!" Rarity exclaimed, dashing over to the door. "What…what are you doing here?"

"I wanted to ask you something," Sweetie Belle said, trotting into Rarity's boutique.

Rarity groaned inwardly. After everything she'd been dealing with, she needed her little sister around like she needed a visit from the Diamond Dogs. "What is it?"

Sweetie Belle paused, looking at the dress Rarity had finished that day. "Ooooh, I like this one!" she said. "The yellow on the sleeves looks great!"

"Why, thank you," Rarity preened a little. "It did turn out rather well, didn't it?"

"Oh yes!" Sweetie Belle agreed. "Hey, can I stay for dinner again?"

"Erm…" Rarity grimaced. Way to butter me up first, Sweetie Belle. "I suppose? Did you finish all your homework?"

"Yep! Spent all afternoon on it, too," Sweetie Belle said. She followed Rarity into the kitchen. "So what's for dinner?"

Rarity took out a bowl from a cupboard. "I was going to do a simple salad. I can put turnips in it, if you like."

"Yay!" Sweetie Belle leapt up. "Turnips! Oh, and you're still going to take me to the fair tomorrow, right?"

Rarity smiled a little. She began chopping up the vegetables. "Of course. Is that what you wanted to ask about?"

"Oh! No!" Sweetie Belle perked up from her seat at the kitchen table. "I almost forgot!"

Rarity rolled her eyes, looking away from her sister so she wouldn't see.

"What's it like to have a crush?"

Rarity nearly cut her hoof open, and just barely jerked the knife to a stop as it fell from her magic grip. "Wh-what? Where did this come from?"

Sweetie Belle shrugged. "I don't know. We were talking about it today. All Spike would say was that it wasn't very fun."

"You were talking to Spike about this?" Rarity asked, aghast.

"Yeah," Sweetie Belle said. "He was in the park today. He looked pretty upset so we all talked to him for a little. I think he has a crush on somepony. I've never had one, so I asked him what it was like. But his answer kind of stinks. I thought it'd be fun to have a crush. What do you think, Rarity? Have you had a crush before?"

"Well, of course I have. Most ponies have by the time they're my age," Rarity said, splitting the salad into two portions and levitating one of the bowls over to her sister. Spike talked to Sweetie Belle about his crush? Rarity bit her lip, wondering for a brief moment if he'd been referring to his crush on her or on Applejack. Then she shook her head, her mane bouncing slightly. It didn't matter, remember?

"So what's it like?" Sweetie Belle asked, chowing down on her salad.

"Sweetie, manners. Use your utensils," Rarity frowned.

"Fine," Sweetie Belle said, slapping one hoof down on a fork.

Rarity ate silently for a moment. "Having a crush…" she began, thinking it over, "It's really liking somepony…wanting to be around them…being extra happy when they are nearby…dreaming about them at night…hoping they feel the same in return…that sort of thing."

"Oh," Sweetie Belle said. "I figured it'd be something like that."

Rarity nodded. "You'll know it when you feel it. It's a er…giddy sort of feeling. Like your stomach can't stop flipping about itself."

"Well that just sounds uncomfortable," Sweetie Belle said, tilting her head and raising an eyebrow up high.

"No, it's a nice feeling," Rarity continued. "Usually."

"So who do you have a crush on?" Sweetie Belle asked next.

Rarity blinked. "I didn't say I have a crush right now. I said I've had crushes before."

"Okay," Sweetie Belle didn't miss a beat, "So who did you use to have a crush on?"

Rarity thought back. "There've been a few ponies…I guess the most recent was Prince Blueblood, but don't even get me started on him."

"Prunz Boobood?" Sweetie Belle asked, her mouth full of salad.

"Sweetie, chew, please," Rarity leaned back away from her sister. "You'll make somepony ill."

Sweetie Belle swallowed. "Sorry," she apologized.

Rarity sniffed. "It's quite alright. And yes, Prince Blueblood. Princess Celestia's nephew. That turned out to be a horrible mistake, though. I'm ashamed to have ever fallen for him. He was nothing like I'd imagined."

Sweetie Belle stared at her sister expectantly, and Rarity sighed, realizing the little filly wanted more of an explanation.

"I made the error of falling for a pony I'd never even met. I built up all these expectations of what he would be like." Rarity pushed the last bit of carrot around her bowl, absent-mindedly. "It turns out he was nothing but a spoiled, self-centered jerk. His one saving grace is that he taught me a valuable lesson."

"What's that?" Sweetie Belle asked.

Rarity smiled. "You can't pick your perfect stallion. I was so set on falling for Blueblood because it would make me a princess if we married…but I was going about things the wrong way. True love is something that finds you, not something you decide on."

Sweetie Belle looked like she was about to ask another question, but a noise outside startled both of them before she had the chance.

"What was that?" the little unicorn asked instead.

"I'm not sure…" Rarity narrowed her eyes. "Stay here, okay?"

Sweetie Belle nodded, thankfully not arguing. Rarity left the kitchen and cautiously approached the front door. Using her magic, she opened it up just a crack. It was dark out, and Rarity couldn't see much in front of her.

"Is…is anypony there?" she asked. There was no answer.

Sucking up her courage, Rarity opened the door the whole way and glanced outside.

Nopony. Just darkness.

"Well, that's odd…" Rarity said, backing up inside. Then her eyes caught sight of something on the doorstep. It was a single rose.

"What's this?" Rarity blinked. She levitated it into the air. "A rose? How did this…?"

She looked over at her flowerbeds. Could it…?

"Sweetie Belle, could you please bring me my lantern?" Rarity called back inside.

"Sure thing!" Sweetie Belle squeaked, and Rarity heard her scrambling about the shop. Soon she was by Rarity's side, lantern lit and hanging from her mouth. Rarity levitated the lantern up to the level of the rose and shown it back and forth.

Her flowerbeds were weeded. All of them. Meticulously.

Rarity sucked in a breath, her eyes falling on the flowers closest to the door. They'd been rearranged – carefully dug up and replanted – into the shape of a heart.

It took a moment to process, and Sweetie Belle's incessant questions didn't help Rarity's brain work any faster, but it finally did manage to dawn on her.

"Spike," she whispered.

"What?" Sweetie Belle asked. "What about Spike?"

"He must have…he's the only one who knew that the flowerbeds needed…so that means…"

Rarity leapt up, wiggling her front legs in the air and losing control of the lantern and rose, which both fell to the ground. "He still likes me!" Rarity squealed, prancing around her sister. "Don't you see, Sweetie Belle? Spike still likes me!"

"Oooh, so you're the pony Spike has a crush on?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"Yes!" Rarity yelled triumphantly, levitating the rose back up into the air.

"You seem awfully happy about it," Sweetie Belle observed, a huge smile growing on her face. "Is this that giddy feeling you were talking about earlier? Is your stomach doing flip-flops?"

Rarity screeched to a halt, her face blanching. "Of course not. Don't be ridiculous." She laughed a little, hoping her laughter didn't sound too forced. "I don't like Spike. Not like that at least."

Sweetie Belle tilted her head. "Really? But you're so excited – "

"Come on, now, Sweetie Belle," Rarity marched her sister back indoors. "Let's get this door closed before we let in the cold."

"But – "

"I don't think you've finished your dinner yet."

"But – "

"That's enough out of you, Sweetie Belle."

Rarity gave a firm shake of her head.

And that's enough out of you, too, Rarity. The unicorn's heart was pounding in her chest. She wasn't entirely sure it was all from nerves, either. And that just made her heart pound faster.

"Spike, where have you been? And why are you so filthy?" Twilight demanded as Spike shut the library door.

He wiped his feet on the doormat, but knew it wouldn't be much use. He'd just have to mop tomorrow.

The dragon walked through the front room, leaving dirt clumps in a little trail behind him. "Sorry," Spike apologized. "Was working on Step Four."

"I thought Step Four was doing nice things for your mare?" Twilight asked, levitating a washcloth over. "Last I checked, Rarity's not a big fan of dirt."

"Yeah," Spike sighed, trudging up the stairs. "But she'll like this. I think. I don't know. It's been a confusing day, okay, Twilight? All I want to do is take a bath and go to bed."

Twilight mercifully took pity on him and lowered her washcloth. "Alright. But you'll be cleaning all this up tomorrow, right?" She gestured at the mess he'd left behind him.

"Yeah," Spike said. "I'll get up early, before the fair."

"Okay then," Twilight replied, giving him one last look. "But don't strain yourself. Get some sleep tonight, okay?"

"Yeah," Spike said again. He was exhausted, so sleep should be easy, but…

The dragon groaned. The fair was tomorrow. It was a perfect setting to try Step Five, and he just couldn't ignore that.

You know you'll have to try it sometime, Spike, he told himself as he began running the bathwater. Tomorrow's as good a time as any. In fact, it's probably the best time. What's the worst that could happen? Rarity getting angry with you? Well, hate to break it to you, but that already happened today, so toughen up, buddy!

Spike climbed into the tub and started picking dirt out from under his claws. The bathwater was warm, but Spike couldn't help but shiver. Step Five had a way of striking terror deep within his dragon heart.

But he'd come this far, hadn't he? How could he quit Smooth Fox's steps now?

Like it or not, he'd have to do Step Five.

Spike gulped. The annual Fun Times For Friendship Fair was definitely going to be anything but fun.