• Published 28th Jun 2012
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A New Hero - Alex The Lone Wolf

What if there was another pony who joined the pony gang? (Look at longer description...)

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Crusader of the Lost Mark

"Alex, could you help me with my homework?" I asked as I dragged my hooves towards him.

"Homework?" He responded with confusion. "What homework? You're not even in school."

"No, but the Cutie Mark Crusaders want me to try at least ten different things that might get me my cutie mark, and I really don't feel like thinking about what to do." I didn't hesitate to express how I really felt about the situation.

Alex had been with Twilight in the castle library ever since I left with Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo, due to the fact I had officially declared myself a Cutie Mark Crusader back when we had gone to Appleloosa. To tell the truth, if I had known that they would have taken my answer seriously, I probably would have never said yes. I've tried to tell them it was pointless searching for my "cutie mark", but they never listen.

"That's weird." Alex replied. "I would think they'd take you along to try those different things, not just leave them for you to do alone."

"Well…it's because they had to go help one of their friends at school run for Pony President or something." I sighed and fell to the floor, unwilling to take part in any of this. I just wanted to crawl back into my little safe space inside Alex and not have to worry about the outside world. In fact, that was probably one of the only good things about being alone in there, but even so, I couldn't leave the Cutie Mark Crusaders hanging. They'd be so disappointed, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to stand looking at their saddened faces. "I don't understand, Alex. Why do they think that I'll find my cutie mark? It's so obvious I won't. I technically don't even exist. I'm not supposed to be alive. I mean, you'd think I would have already had my cutie mark by now, considering how old I am, but no. It's pointless!"

"Are you really sure about that?" He questioned. "You've haven't exactly been out and about until not too long ago. Maybe you just need some time."

"Trust me, Alex. Even if I had been 'out and about' for the same amount of time you have, I wouldn't have a cutie mark. I've already given up on believing I'll ever get one because I know I won't. It's just not logically possible, all things considered."

For some odd reason, Alex laughed at that. "Where have you been? If you've seen everything that's happened to us up until now, you'd know that logic doesn't stop anything from happening. Look at Discord. He's a prime example."

I didn't really have a well-thought response to that, so I only closed my eyes and stuck out my tongue at him.

"You have to admit he has a point, Spirit." Twilight now felt inclined to join in on the conversation. "I mean, I know you aren't exactly the same as the rest of us, but you still are a pony right now, aren't you? I understand how you feel, because never have I ever witnessed or heard of a pony living with the kind of circumstances that you have. Still, you can't really throw the idea of having a cutie mark out the door."

What I did have to admit was that I supposed there was sort of a loophole on the possibility that I'd have a cutie mark waiting for me to unveil, but either way, I really just didn't care about a cutie mark anymore. Why couldn't I just live in peace without one? Does it really mean anything?

"Is having a cutie mark really that much of a big deal?" I thought out loud, feeling unnecessarily frustrated. "So, you have your 'special talent' on your butt. So, what? It's not like it gives you any special power you use for the rest of your life. All it's good for is showing other ponies something they don't need to know and will probably be used as a reminder when you're old and forget things the minute after you think about them."

Alex and Twilight exchanged looks of concern with each other after my rant.

"Spirit, I'm not saying that a cutie mark is everything." She continued earnestly. "However, it's a very important piece of who you are, not for other ponies to see, but for you. It's a mark of your destiny and who you're meant to be."

I didn't feel so easily swayed in by her opinion. "Oh. Then, there's that because if that was the case, I should have already had my cutie mark by now. My destiny? Obviously, it's what I've been doing with Alex for all these years. But nope. No cutie mark."

"Spirit, listen…" Twilight tried to linger on her persuasive efforts as if there had been something important in it for her. "That doesn't mean you've found out who you're meant to be, it just—"

"Forget it!" I exclaimed as I already grew tired with how long the talk about cutie marks lasted. "I'm just going to do this stupid homework on my own. It's not like I have anything better to do anyway!"

With that, I stormed out of the library and soon the castle entirely.

Outside, I began feeling guilty for how I reacted, especially when I said I had nothing better to do. It was a lie. There was something important that I gave myself to task of doing ever since I began existing as Spirit. It was to protect Alex and make sure he could never be hurt as long as I was still standing. I'm not going to lie and say I did a great job of it in the earlier days, but it was still better than what could have been. As long as he was still healthy and standing, it was fine by me.

Either way, I couldn't go back, not after how I left things. I still had to do this 'homework' for the Crusaders anyway. Maybe afterwards, I can try explaining why I feel it's pointless in trying to look for my cutie mark. If they still don't understand, I might just have to resign without their approval.

I faced the road towards Ponyville and immediately came up with one of the ten ideas I could use for getting a cutie mark. "'Walking' cutie mark: Check."

By the time I had made it into town, I had already come up with most of the ideas I needed for the time I would report back. I had to admit, there were just variations of a few of the different lame ideas I had come up with, but they still technically counted. I think.

"'Looking up at the sky' cutie mark: Check." My eyes continued eyeing the clouds above. "'Cloud Analyzing' cutie mark: Check." I turned my attention back to what was in front of me and took notice of ponies roaming around the town. "'Pony Watching' cutie mark: Check." Maybe I can do a 'Smell analyzing' or 'Stone turning' cutie mark check later…

I was sure that the Crusaders hadn't returned from school yet, but I still made my way over to their clubhouse. I apparently had special VIP member access, so I might as well use it. Inside, I decided to take a look around and find out what exactly their thought process was on getting a cutie mark. In other words, I guess I wanted to find out why they've never stopped working so hard on getting a cutie mark besides the sake of just getting the cutie mark.

Nevertheless, I didn't find answers as I mostly came across mountains of different ideas to what they could get their cutie mark in. If I was serious about the homework they assigned me, I'd probably be ticking things off their already made list. Although, I wouldn't be sure if it was technically cheating… Either way, I had to give it to them that they were determined, and it definitely showed in their work.

I stretched out the long lists, reading how they've covered such ground like taffy-making, scuba diving, and even giving a pretty terrible performance at their school talent show. It was at this point when I began feeling depressed as I went through each and one of their past journeys and stories.

How did things turn out like this? Why did they turn out like this in the first place? He and I had been happy, even if all we did have was each other. Looking back, I couldn't believe I felt the way I did before. If I could, I would do anything to have it all back. But that wasn't an option anymore. He's happy now around all the friends he's made. I can't take that away from him…even if I feel like he's moved on…

I carelessly allowed the tears from my eyes to fall as I reminisced about the past. The long-erased past.

Still… I can't help but dream about the days that really meant something to me. Sometimes, I'm afraid I might just make the mistake of letting my emotions get in the way of what I think is right yet again.

Things grew almost completely silent as I began wiping the remaining tears off my face. Purposely forgetting the reason I had come in here in the first place, I put away the papers I had been reading through and began leaving the clubhouse.

Outside, I stared at my hooves with each step I made. I continued walking as my mind felt buried under empty thoughts. All of a sudden, I bumped into something small yet solid. As I flinched backwards, I then heard it land and roll a bit on the ground. As I turned my attention to what it was, I found that it was an apple. I grabbed a hold of it and turned it over.

That's strange… Why would I bump into an apple? It's like if it was falling and then froze in place for me to bump into…

Certain worries began to cloud my mind, but I quickly brushed them away by shaking my head.

Why am I overthinking this? It's just a dumb apple.

I merely tossed it aside, continuing my walk back into town.

I still didn't have the energy to keep my head held up high to see where I was going. If I turned out to be in the way of anypony, I expected that they would move themselves. However, I soon found out that that wouldn't be the case.

"Excuse me." I half-heartedly apologized as I had bumped into someone, but I didn't earn a response back. In fact, the pony hadn't even move. "Hey, what's—" I was about to release some of my frustration onto this poor soul, but I was shocked to see that this pony had been completely frozen in place. "H-huh?!"

I quickly turned to see the rest of what I could of Ponyville, and this was when I began to panic. Everything had been frozen in place!

"N…no!" I shook my head in denial, feeling myself automatically back away at the site of this. "This isn't supposed to happen anymore!" I fell back and lifted my hooves to press them against the temples of my head. I tried to make this all stop, but nothing changed! "No!"

I had suddenly began feeling all alone and helpless. The first pony that came into my mind was Alex. All I wanted to do was see him, even if he was going to be frozen just like every pony else.

I found him, along with Twilight, still sitting in the castle library. My heart dropped at the sight of this as they had been affected too, and all I can do was hug him as hard as I could, desperately seeking warmth and love. I knew there was a way out of this, and I just had to find it. But I couldn't help but feel scared and hopeless. I didn't want any chance of things screwing up like they did before…

"I'm sorry, Alex…" I apologized as I stared into his utterly still face. "I wanted to ditch it, I swear, but I couldn't bring myself to do it…just in case of an emergency… Just in case something really bad happened to you, and I had to change it before it was too late…"

"Well, that's ironic…" I unexpectedly heard behind me, causing me to gasp and immediately turn around. What I noticed first at this shadowy pony was his eye color. They were a dark shade of red that you could only associate with something sinister. After that, I realized that one of his eyes had been visible. The other had been completely covered by the greyish mane that hung carelessly over it. The rest of his body had been covered with a hooded garment, but from what I could see was that the color of his coat had collaborated with the same sinister red. "…if you ask me, it seems every bad thing that happens is because of it."

"W-who are you?! How are you able to move?!" I immediately asked, though his voice sounded familiar. I began to feel as if I'd met him before.

"You of all ponies should know the answers to both of those questions." He returned. "But I guess it's not a surprise that you've already forgotten about me. Let me see… It would be like the second time now, right?"

"Are…Are you that stallion that…that took my hoodie?" I asked, seeing as only he would pretty much fit the bill.

"Well, I wouldn't say it's your hoodie." He answered light-heartedly, almost as if this had been a friendly conversation he could easily joke around in. "But I gave it back, so you're not going to keeping ragging me about it, are you?"

I shook my head slowly and proceeded to ask one of the biggest questions that needed answering. "Why do you keep bothering us? You say that I should know the answer…but I don't have any clue who you are at all!"

"Suck it up, buttercup." He responded coldly. "Because I'm not going away. Not until I take what's mine."

"What? Are you really that obsessed with my hoodie?!"

"Boy, you're stupid. But you've always been, haven't you? Believe it or not, you'd be the only pony to understand why I'm doing what I'm doing, but I think it'd be better to leave it a question until the very end. I can't risk having you ruining things for me."

I stared at him for a moment as I remained silent.

"Are you even real…?" I asked, raising his eyebrow as I turned my eyesight towards the floor. "You're just another illusion, aren't you? I've been having so many doubts in my mind, and with things how they are now, all I've been doing is blaming myself… It's not really you that's making me think you're still some kind of threat. You're just the doubts I have that physically manifested into something I can see." I shook my head. "It's over for you."

"Oh, it's far from over. I'm just getting started."

"You couldn't even do anything back when you were with Night Terror! What makes you think you'll do anything more than cause small trouble now that you're on your own?!"

"I might be on my own, for now anyway, but I have a way of manipulating things. You'll see soon enough." With one last devilish smirk, he appeared to be ready to leave. "Just keep this in mind. You might want to keep your 'power' in check. You might just regret keeping it in the end, and by that time, it'll be too late."

"Yeah, whatever." I simply responded with as I watched him fade away. Even though I didn't believe it, his threats didn't feel completely empty. Even if he was just an illusion…why was it specifically him?

I looked around and remembered the predicament I was still in. I took in a deep breath and slowly exhaled it out. It was my job to fix this, but I was extremely sensitive to the idea of making another mistake. I need to stop worrying. I'll be fine as long as I don't let my stupid emotions get in the way this time. I can do this. I just need to keep calm and just take a few seconds to fix this.

I turned and faced Alex. I returned back to my place inside of him to thankfully find everything looking normal as it should be in my safe haven. However, there, I began to meditate and try to unfreeze everything else in the outside. As long as I didn't think about the past, I should definitely be fine.

For what felt like a long moment, I recalled what I had been doing before things turned out like this. I recalled what Alex and Twilight had been doing and imagined a scene where they continued doing what they had been doing, which I believed was reading. When I felt it was safe enough, I slowly closed my eyes. I couldn't see if anything had changed inside here. I needed to go back outside.

"…be okay?"

"I hope."

I heard these voices immediately as I existed once again in this world.

Everything had returned back to normal. Due to the sight of this, I couldn't keep in both my relief and excitement.

"Alex!" I called to the first pony I had seen. I raced over to hug him and ended up slightly pushing him backwards from the force.

"S-Spirit…! What's going on…?"

I shook my head. "N-nothing. I'm just glad to see you…" Besides, I wanted to apologize for the way I acted. Even though I had always been the main cause, I always tried to unwind bad tension. I couldn't bear the thought of going through another goodbye like that. "I'm sorry for how I left earlier. I didn't mean to…be like that. I just don't want to work so hard for something I might not even have. I'm…I'm fine without one anyway."

Alex glanced over to Twilight before he replied to me. "We didn't mean to push it on you or anything. Sorry. If you don't want to, you don't have to. You might just need to explain that to the Crusaders…"

"I know…" I nodded and then pulled away. "I just hope they understand… I'd hate to see them so disappointed." I then began turning towards the door so I could make my way outside of the castle. "I'm going to see if they're still at the school. I'll be back later."

I was then in town on the path towards the schoolhouse. I had expected a quiet keeping-to-myself walk, but I found my ears being present to a shaking "STOP!" in unison from a group of fillies. As everypony nearby did, I turned to see the source of the voices galloping straight past me.

"Diamond Tiara, this is not the way!"

These voices sounding extremely familiar caused me to squint my eyes and tried to get a good look at the ponies ahead. There was no doubt. The three ponies that had been running were Applebloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle. But why were they running after the other filly? Seeing as I needed to speak with them in the first place, I ran after them as I overhead their apparent dilemma.

"You know you're better than this hostility"

The filly they had been running after stopped a stallion pulling a cart of apples and turned it over towards the road, causing the Crusaders to stumble and fall over. From this, I was able to catch up to them and help them up. They gasped in surprise at the sight of me, but they obviously didn't have time for explanations or questions.

"Come on, Crusaders!" Applebloom led.

"You don't even know me at all

Don't understand the meaning of my fall" Diamond Tiara, having a good lead ahead of us, despondently returned back as she bobbed and weaved through ponies in the way.

"What my family would think if I ever

Fail at anything"

Applebloom found us a route to cut her off and pointed us in the direction to take.

"I'm a diamond – that means you'll never break

No matter what be the cost of the path I take

Whatever I have to do to win in the end"

"Stop!" The Crusaders confronted her at the end of an alley between two houses, but she refused to stop. "This is not the answer!"

"Wait!" They attempted again. "And it's plainly seen"

"Listen!" They pleaded. "You can redeem yourself

But by helping others, not by being mean"

They found themselves able to cut forward so they could face Diamond Tiara. I stayed behind, honestly having no motivating reason to give me the adrenaline that these girls had. Nevertheless, as they continue their hopes to persuade their classmate, I couldn't help but listen in at the words they sang. For some reason, it felt as if I needed to hear them too.

"We know you want friends who admire you

You want to be the star with all the power too

But there's a better way, there's a better wa-a-ay"

They slowed for a moment to run side by side altogether.

"There's so much more still left to

Learn about yourself

See the light that shines in you

We know you can be somepony else"

As it appeared the filly they had been chasing began having second thoughts, the Crusaders came to a stop between two branching paths and gestured towards the right.

"You can stop right now

And try another start

You'll finally free yourself from the dark

And see the light

And see the light of your cutie mark"

Despite their best attempts to convince her, Diamond Tiara ignored their guidance and made her way towards the left where the schoolhouse stood. The Crusaders immediately followed after, and at the end of the road, Diamond Tiara caught the attention of the school ponies that stood at the front.

"Everypony, I have an announcement!" She stated seriously.

"Diamond Tiara! Think hard about the choice you're makin' right now!" Applebloom advised.

"You can be a better pony!" Scootaloo added.

"Diamond Tiara!" A voice bellowed out from the front door of the schoolhouse. A mare with a formidable stink-eye and an obviously expensive wardrobe seemed to take everypony by surprise as she looked dead in Diamond Tiara's direction. "I just happened to be here for the school board meeting, and this is what I see when we adjourn? My daughter associating with confused, insignificant lowlifes? Socializing with their kind is not how you move up in Equestria!" She walked past us and seemed to especially eye me, see as I was grown up and still without a cutie mark. However, she didn't bother acknowledging me, which was not surprising based on what she had just mentioned. "Come, Diamond Tiara!" She ordered as she proceeded to leave the school grounds.

"No, mother!" Her daughter disobeyed.

"Excuse me?!" Diamond Tiara's mother demanded, pulling her head back and lifting her chin upwards in an intimidating and powerful manner.

"You've spent your life acting like a high horse and raised me to follow in your hoofprints!" Her child approached her to look her dead in the eyes. "At first I thought this was fine, but then I finally realized I wanted something you don't have – friends!"

Everypony in the area gasped, causing her to return a look of minor fear for just a quick second. "That's enough, Diamond Tiara! Step away from those blank flanks!"

"These are the Cutie Mark Crusaders, and they are my friends!" She introduced in a stunning one-hundred and eighty degree turn. "You need to stop calling them such mean and hurtful names! They are working harder to get their cutie marks than anypony I've ever seen! And they will get them exactly when they discover their true talent, which I guarantee will be amazing! Now, will you please deliver this to father?" She presented a loose-leaf piece of a paper towards her mother.

Appearing to be completely overstricken with embarrassment, as if she had such a high standard for her reputation to the public, she cautiously accepted the paper to prevent any other outburst to come from her daughter. "Yes, of course, dear..."

"I have to thank you, Crusaders." Diamond Tiara turned towards the three little ones as her mother walked away almost like a dog with its tail between its legs. "Obviously, I've known since I got my cutie mark that my talent is getting other ponies to do what I want. I just asked my father if he could donate the money for the new playground equipment!" She then approached a colt that was the smallest out of the bunch. He flinched as she spoke, seeming to fear the worst, only to be caught off guard by a newfound kindness. "I knew you were worried for a second there, weren't you? Ha! Well, I think it's all gonna work out just fine, Mister President!" She winked with a friendly intention.

"We'll build a playground

For all of us to enjoy" Diamond Tiara now rounded up each of her classmates as she sent looks of gratefulness towards the Crusaders.

"So full of games

There's enough for each girl and boy

I want to help and do

Everything that I can

I'm here to show you I changed

Listen up, here's the plan"

At the school yard, she began to direct where and how the new playground equipment was going to go.

"Bring it in! That's right, keep it coming!" She told the delivery pony before she headed towards a timid-looking filly. "Hey there, you with the amazing strength. Can you help them move that merry-go-round across the lawn? Thank you so much!" The filly waved as she surprised me in showing me that such a small filly could have such tremendous strength to lift an entire merry-go-round like Diamond Tiara had mentioned. Speaking of the pony currently in charge, she proceeded to ask another colt for some more help. "And you with the super teeth, we need you to help with that teeter-totter. You got it! That's the spirit!" She praised.

"There's so much I can do

To help everypony else" She continued as the others worked together to set up the new equipment. It was at this point where I noticed somepony I hadn't been expecting to see here helping as well with her magic. It was Twilight, and in turn, I began searching for Alex.

"I see the light that shines in me

I know I can be my better self

I can free the past

'Cause now the future's bright for me

My cutie mark has set me free

To do what's right and be the pony I want to be~"

I didn't have to look hard as he had been retrieving a part that connected with the one that Twilight had. He looked really happy…

"And be the pony I want to be!"

The new playground had been completed in practically no time, and I had to admit, it looked absolutely amazing. It was like the playground of my dreams, and it was the kind of playground only a rich pony could afford. It only goes to show how wealthy her family was…

Before I could approach Alex to learn the reason for the two of them being here in the first place, I felt a small hoof tap me on my flank. I turned to see Applebloom as she joyfully smiled at me. She invited me to join in discussion among the rest of her cutie mark seeking friends.

"I've been thinkin', Crusaders. We spend an awful lot of time fussin' and frettin' tryin' to discover our true talent. But when we take a little time off, we end up helpin' other ponies figure out their true talent!"

"Yeah, and I think that's way more important than worrying about our cutie marks, don't you?" Sweetie Belle agreed.

"Absolutely!" Scootaloo jumped in joy as her small wings fluttered. "I don't care if I ever get my cutie mark as long as I get to hang out with my best friends."

"So what do you say, Crusaders? Want to just focus on helpin' others find their cutie marks?" Applebloom asked.

"Yeah!" The rest of them slapped hooves to indicate their start of a new mission.

"Actually girls…there's something I've been meaning to sa—"

I was cut short when not only I, but the three of them as well, noticed a spark emerge from their unison and some kind of aura appear around them. They each began being lifted up, and before I knew it, I turned my head away with my hoof in front of my face due to a blinding light, something I ironically should be really immune to.

By the time things were visible again, they each sat up and began recovering from what had just happened until everypony that had been taking in the sight of the playground gasped in awe from what they saw.

"What happened?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"What's goin' on?" Applebloom repeated.

"It's your cutie marks! They're amazing!" Diamond Tiara happily pointed out.

I couldn't believe it for myself when I saw it. The mark they had been fighting so much to find finally appeared on their flanks, and I think they were different from any kind of mark I had seen before. The three of their marks had some kind of shield, but within the shield laid a trait that each of them uniquely possessed.

No way…! Does this mean…? That the entire time they've been together…It was their destiny?!

"We all got the same cutie mark! Cutie Mark Crusaders forever!" They jumped in hysteric bliss before they began to sing about their accomplishment.

"We were searching for our cutie marks

For a while there" They hugged each other immensely.

"Trying to find out how we fit in

So many ways we've tried before

But we kept on trying more

'Cause the Cutie Mark Crusaders don't give in"

They proceeded to gallop back into town, looking as if they were going to let everybody they could see know about their great accomplishment. Even their classmates began to follow behind. Seeing as how I was still technically a Crusader, it wouldn't feel right to leave them on their own.

"Now we know what it took all along" Scootaloo mentioned.

"And our journey here is never really done" Sweetie Belle added.

"For it is more than just a mark

It's a place for us to start" Applebloom continued before the three of them united.

"An adventure that has only just begun"

Everypony that had been working in town stopped to take a look just as if a parade had been marching through. Even though these ponies might have not known the three little fillies, they looked extremely happy and proud for them. Admittedly, thinking about how it would feel for myself felt especially heartwarming.

"We'll make our mark

Show the world what we can do

We'll make our mark

Helping fillies to break through

To the ultimate reward of a cutie mark!"

At one of my favorite places in Ponyville, the fillies reunited with their bigger sisters.

"All right, everypony! Get ready for the biggest cute-ceañera celebration ever!" Pinkie Pie broadcasted for everypony to hear with an expected response of applause.

"Oh, sugarcube, if Mom and Dad were here, they'd be so proud of ya." I heard Applejack tell Applebloom as the rest of her family enjoyed the scene in tears.

"Oh... Thanks, Applejack." Applebloom expressed as she wiped off tears of her own.

"Now go on and party with your pals." She encouraged.

"I'm so proud of you, little buddy

You've taught me a thing or two" Rainbow Dash tended to Scootaloo.

"You've inspired everypony around you

And you've inspired me too" Rarity sung in Sweetie Belle's way.

"You've made your mark" The three of their sisters sung together as everyone else witnessed the event unfold and progress before them.

"Done Equestria so proud

You've made your mark

And we're here to sing it loud

For the ultimate reward of your cutie mark!"

"Well, what do you think, Crusaders?" Applebloom turned to the rest of her friends. "Were these cutie marks totally worth waiting for or what?"

"Yeah! I can't wait to see who we're gonna help next!" Sweetie Belle enthusiastically approved.

"We started out just three

Crusaders driven to see

What we find in our hearts

Discover our destiny

And here we are, best friends

About to start it again

An adventure that never will end

We'll make our mark

Helping fillies most in need

We'll make our mark

So each one of them succeeds

'Cause the ultimate reward is a cutie mark~!"

Before the cute-ceañera, they made sure to take a photo of not only them, but everypony that had an important part in their journey, including even me. It was up to Spike to end up sending it to the princesses of Canterlot.

At Sugarcube Corner, I found myself sitting at the table that was practically reserved just for them.

"…so…you guys are still going to be Cutie Mark Crusaders…?" I couldn't help but ask with a sort of dejected tone.

"Of course!" Scootaloo exclaimed almost immediately.

"It won't be about finding our own cutie marks, obviously, so we'll helping other ponies with theirs." Sweetie Belle added.

"And there's no way we're just gonna leave a fellow Crusader in the dust, so you're our next priority!" Appleboom pointed at me, gaining instant approval from the rest.

"Listen…" I rubbed the back of my head for what was to come out next. "I don't know if I should be a Crusader anymore."

"Why not?" Applebloom asked, quickly growing a look of concern.

"I've tried to tell you all as subtly as I could before, but I think I should just spit it out." I took in a deep breath and the released it out almost harshly. "I don't think I have a cutie mark to find."

"Huh?!" Each of them screamed out in unison.

"Look, I'm not the same as you fillies." I wanted to reason with them, but being kids, I felt as if they wouldn't completely understand. "After all, if I had a cutie mark to begin with, I'm sure I would have found it by now. I know what I'm meant to do, but I just don't have a cutie mark to show it like the rest of you. Honestly, have you ever seen a pony that was grown up and still not have her cutie mark?"

They looked among each other for a short while in silence before Applebloom spoke up.

"Well, I don't believe that." She said bluntly. "You're right, I've never seen any kind of pony live their life without a cutie mark, but if it was possible for a pony to not have a cutie mark for any kind of reason, surely you think there'd be a legend about a pony or two never havin' found their cutie marks, don't you think? But as far as I know, there isn't! I don't know why exactly you feel as if you have no cutie mark, but I for one won't stop believin'. When I look at you right now, I feel somethin' special in my heart. I just know there's a cutie mark waitin' to be explored inside you."

Her eagerness and enthusiasm was killing me. At least, it was beginning to kill the doubts I had for not having a cutie mark in the first place. I still didn't believe that I had one, but her words were causing me to have second thoughts on there being zero chance of a cutie mark for me.

"You really think so…?" I asked.

"We know so!" They eagerly shouted together.

Argggghhh. I couldn't help it. They were too cute!

"Alright! Alright!" I surrendered. "I'll keep looking for my cutie mark." After all, if there was a chance that I somehow magically had one, and I found it, I'd love to kind of have a big ceremony and celebration just like these three…

"Yes! Cutie Mark Crusader Cutie Mark Finders!" They bellowed out a hooffull as they bucked hooves. "Let's start crossing off the list—!"

"Actually…" I cut them short, still wanting to keep to certain conditions, should I stay in the Cutie Mark Crusaders. "Not that I don't appreciate the help, but I think I'd rather skip doing every little new thing I can find in hopes of finding my cutie mark. I think it'd be better if I…just take my time with it and find it on my own. After all, I kind of have to stick with Alex most of the time and help him save Equestria, hehe."

"Understandable." Scootaloo admitted towards the others. "After all, we didn't find our cutie marks until we focused on helping others instead of ourselves."

"Alright, you got a deal!" Applebloom allowed. "But you let us know whenever you're in any kind of trouble."

"That's what being a Cutie Mark Crusader is all about in the first place!" Sweetie Belle stated.

"Cutie Mark Crusaders forever!" They chanted together and lifted their hooves once more, having me join in at their last buck.

"Congratulations, you three!" We heard a new voice join in at our table. We turned to see Twilight with Alex following closely behind. "I can't even begin to explain how proud I am!"

"Same here." Alex added. "It practically feels like it was just yesterday when the three of you formed your club."

"Now that you mention it…" Twilight appeared to recall something. "Wasn't this the same exact spot you three had talked to each other about the club?"

They took a glance at both their table and surroundings.

"Huh, you're right." Applebloom realized. "How cool is that?!"

"All this was meant to happen!" Scootaloo burst out loud, slamming her hooves on the table and causing the drinks on top to shake.

Twilight found herself giggling at their reactions. "Your cutie marks are a sign of your destiny, after all."

That caused me to wonder. If I really did have a cutie mark stored for me in the future, does that mean that the whole time, everything I've gone through was meant to happen? As much as I thought about it, I still couldn't make sense from it. It couldn't have been like that, not after everything I did.

The reality was…we probably weren't even supposed to be here in the first place…

Back at the castle in Alex's room, I filled him in with what had happened after I left to find the fillies at the schoolyard. In return, I asked him for the reason why he and Twilight were at the schoolyard helping the little ones with their new playground.

"Twilight and I were still a little worried about you, so we decided sometime after you left to catch up and see how things were going. We didn't think we'd arrive to see new playground equipment being set up by every one of you. Makes me wonder how much we missed from today."

I shook my head in response. "I still think it's crazy how Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo got their cutie marks today, all at the same time!"

Alex chuckled. "Twilight and I never thought they'd get them in unison like that. A long way back, it seemed pretty obvious to what their special talents were, but it's amazing how things turned out today. In a way, I'd say the cutie marks they got mean much more than what we previously thought. It just goes to show how much their friendship means to each other, and it also shows that the bond between them will never falter."

"Yeah…" I replied softly as I stared at the floor. "They um…managed to convince me in having hope for my cutie mark. I still don't really think I have one but…I guess I can't exactly throw out the possibility."

Alex remained silent for a moment before he spoke. "Hey, Spirit. I know you have doubts because you weren't exactly born like any other pony…but you're a pony. I don't even understand it myself, why you're a pony to begin with if you had been the light inside me, to be honest. Either way, I think you deserve to have one, and I guess in this case, time will only tell."

I returned a slightly laughing scoff at that. "Yeah. It definitely will."

"I think I'm heading to bed." He mentioned as he walked past me. "What about you?"

"Think I'll stay up for just a bit longer. Not too long though." I assured him.

"Sure thing." He jumped on his bed and began making himself comfortable. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight…" I returned, sitting in silence briefly before I walked out of the room.

I didn't know why, but I sort of felt like I needed to talk to somepony. Somepony who was probably still at the library during this time of night. I took a peak past the ajar doors to the library and noticed her paying close attention to the books she had in front of her face. I backed out, inhaled, and exhaled a deep breath before I decided to walk on in. She heard the sound of the doors opening just enough for me to squeeze on through.

"Hey, Spirit." She friendly called out to me. "You're not with Alex?"

"Oh, um." I tried to just make up a simple excuse. "I was about to be, but I had been walking by and noticed the library door open."

"I see." She returned. "I'm kind of glad you came by. I'd been looking over some books revolving around ponies and history. I didn't seem to find anything relating to a pony never having found their cutie mark."

"O-oh… That's interesting…" I almost mumbled, seeing as I didn't really have much to say to her.

"On a different note, I can't seem to find anything about any pony having their own living spirit inside of them." She lightly giggled, poking fun at the idea. "Then again, I guess the both of you are…unique to begin with."

I remained quiet after that.

Twilight seemed to obviously take my silence into consideration for what she had to say next. "You know… You and I haven't really spoken much. I think the most you've ever spoken to me was when you guided me to Alex in his dream, back when Night Terror was still a threat. After that, it seems you've just been kind of keeping to yourself. I didn't do anything to make you upset, did I?"

Yeah…you kind of did.

But I couldn't say that.

"I'm just weird…" I simply stated. "I don't really know any pony else besides Alex. Well, I guess I'm starting to know Pinkie."

That wasn't the entire truth. I did know others. Another pony I like to see as my best friend was Coco Pommel. Then there was also Starlight, Alex's former foster sister.

"Well, I'd really like to get to know you too." She suggested earnestly. "Who knows? If I find out more about you, maybe I can help you with all sorts of things like about whether or not it's possible for you to get a cutie mark!"

I didn't want to just flat out say no, but I wasn't exactly leaning towards her suggestion either. I tried to come up with some kind of believable excuse as I rubbed my foreleg uncomfortably.

"Or…if you don't want to. That's okay." Twilight surprisingly made it easier for me. "But you know, I'm here if you need anything."

As I heard that, an idea suddenly came across my thoughts. Although, I wasn't sure if I could particularly say it was a good one. "Actually…there is something you could probably do for me…"

"Sure! What is it?" She responded enthusiastically.

I actually approached her on my free will, which seemed to unsurprisingly slightly shock her.

"There's something…I want to ask you." I closed my eyes and made an attempt to stay as calm as I could be before asking. "Do you really think of Alex as your brother?"

It was no surprise that Twilight would be sort of taken aback from this question. I could already believe she was thinking about why on Equestria I would ask something like that, and I hoped she excused it as me just being Alex's protector.

"Oh…!" It took her a minute to possibly get her words together. "Well…" She lifted her hoof towards her face and slightly looked away. "To be honest, I think it's goes much more than just being a brother to me."

"What do you mean?" I asked, bringing myself closer as I searched her expression with quivering eyes.

"It's hard to explain." She answered. "But…I guess that's why we have the term 'B.B.B.F.F.'." She laughed a little with a small beaming grin.

"'Big Brother Best Friend Forever', right?"

"Yeah, that's right." She nodded. "He's a lot more to me than just a 'brother'. He's my very best friend. Someone I can rely on. In fact, through all this time we've known each other, I think he's practically been the only one there for me through my darkest times. Like during the Canterlot wedding for instance. Everypony had thought I was just jealous of Princess Cadence and possessive of my brother, Shining Armor. I even started thinking about that myself, forgetting about everything I had witnessed the fake Cadence do. Thankfully, Alex wasn't so swayed by the others. If we weren't already super close by the end of that wedding night, then we definitely were the days after. Sure, we might have disagreements every now and then, but I know it's just because we care about each other."

"Don't you think you could've just kept yourself to your own brother instead?" I've felt those words cut and burn my tongue as they shot out.

"What do you mean?" Twilight responded in a puzzled manner.

"Your actual brother. Shining Armor. Couldn't you have…just stuck with him?"

"I'm…I'm not sure what you're asking, Spirit." She expressed. Although, she spoke as if she wasn't completely clueless of what I was getting at.

"Did you really need to get so close to Alex? Couldn't you have just been plain old friends?"

She no longer looked as comfortable as she did when she first invited me to chat with her. "I don't know how to answer that… It just happened, Spirit. After all, ever since I left Canterlot, I've been on my own without Shining Armor. Alex was there to fill in the gap. And since he's been so busy with the Crystal Empire, Cadence, his entire life…" She stopped as if she didn't want to touch anymore on the subject. "Why are you asking me this? That was…rude."

"Sorry." I simply apologized without placing too much meaning behind it. "Forget I asked then. I'm just…curious." That was putting it very lightly.

"I guess that makes sense." Twilight seemed to lower her guard a little after having it spiked up from my pretty personal question. "You've never really been fully accustomed to life outside, have you?"

That's far from the truth, but let's go with that.

"You could say that." I began to pull a naïve dimwitted smile. "There's just so much more I don't understand."

"Well, like I said, I'm here to help." Even after what had just happened a few seconds ago, she still kept her offer standing. "But maybe…let's just not get into touchy subjects next time."

"Right! That was dumb of me." I bumped myself on my tilted head with a completely feigned stupidity. "Anyway, I'm beat. I'm going to go ahead and get to bed. Later, Twilight!"

"Night…" Twilight almost muttered behind me as I left the library.

I definitely wasn't smart like Twilight was. If I had to, I'd definitely place myself at the opposite end of the spectrum, but even I wasn't dumb enough to know that she didn't completely buy my poor excuse. In the end, I might have caused an even bigger rift between us than before.

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