Heart of Scales
Turn 9: Heart
It's been a week since the dinner with Twilight, a little over a week since he came to Ponyville. During that time he'd been helping Applejack around the farm, of course. Whatever free time that he had was spent on doing other things around the town. Through a number of jobs, he's gotten to know a good number of the ponies that he'd already known as a dragon.
Word of his skills spread fast. It was a wonder that he was getting such good publicity, even though the quality of his work was no worse than when he was a dragon. Spike wondered if it was because he had an "owner" at the time. Maybe dragons weren't so trusted with many kinds of work. It was one of the constant reminders of how different ponies treated him now that he was a pony.
Whether he had been working for somepony or not, he most often found himself strolling by Twilight's library, glancing into the windows to see if Twilight was home, if she needed any work to be done. He'd often see Owloycious swooping in and out of the rooms, not being sure what kind of work he was doing when he did. It didn't seem as if Twilight was in a desperate need of an extra worker after he had left. Everything in the library seemed to run normally and appeared to be quite stable. His absence didn't make much of a difference in keeping it clean, running, and inhabitable. It gave him the idea that his time working for Twilight was most spent doing trivial work that didn't really matter in the big picture of things.
As Spike approached the library, the front door swung open, revealing Twilight behind a sheet of parchment. The quivering top half of a quill was bobbing up and down, glowing with Twilight's magic. Wearing a travel bag full of scrolls, she walked ahead with her face in her work as it was unbeknown to anypony watching whether she was keeping aware of her surroundings or too preoccupied to notice that she was just moments away from firmly pressing a sheet of parchment into Spike's face.
And twas the latter.
"Eyah!" Twilight cried in surprise when a part of her parchment had suddenly protruded into the shape of a snout. Her quill quickly fled behind her head in a smooth, half circle motion as she jumped back.
"Ruby! Goodness, what a surprise!" Twilight sighed straightening out her parchment, as the quill returned to her front.
"It's not too often that you lose your surroundings as you write and walk." Spike smiled rubbing an ink stain off of his nose. "Things for the festival, I suppose?"
"Oh, I almost forgot." Twilight made it obvious that she had taken on more work that she was able to handle. "It's a relief I ran into you here. We promised to meet, didn't we?"
"Yeah, we did," Spike reminded.
"Where did I put that?" Twilight looked into her large bag, sifting through the scrolls to find the one she had prepared for Spike. "I'm sorry about almost missing you there. I'm just losing my mind doing all this work. Mayor Mare is nowhere to be seen. Here's your scroll. I tied it with red string so I knew which one to give you."
Spike took the scroll, which was tied with more of a thin decorative ribbon than string. Twilight also gave him a smaller travel bag to keep the scroll inside.
"So what am I supposed to do?" he asked.
"Since I'll be way too busy to do it myself, I'll need you to supervise the preparations for the Summer Sun Festival." Twilight already started to show signs that she had spent too much time with him. She looked as if she really needed to be somewhere else. That or she needed to use the bathroom right this instant.
"There's going to be a list of things inside the scroll that'll tell you where to be, when, and what you want to be looking over. You know your way around town, do you?"
"Most of it, I guess." Spike nodded.
"Great! When you're finished, come by the library. That's where the party's going to be. We're all going to gather there to watch the sunrise. Don't worry about coming by too early. The party's already been going on for quite a while."
Spike looked past Twilight and saw that there were a good number of ponies inside through the windows of the hollowed tree. The front door opened and closed with ponies coming in and out, ponies that would rather give their right hoof than spend their afternoon with a book. A party would be the only way to explain all the activity in the library since this morning. There was more activity in the usually vacant tree than all the other days of the year put together.
"It's any easy job! There's not much to it. I'll leave it to you, okay? I better go!" Twilight smiled before hurrying down the road. "See you later!"
"Sure thing!" Spike waved, hoping that he won't be as busy as Twilight was with her work than with the contents of this list.
He delicately untied the ribbon keeping the paper in a tight roll and slipped the ribbon into his bag. He unrolled it and took a look at its contents, which went on just until the bottom of the scroll touched the ground.
Who would have known that supervising the preparations was the job Twilight was planning to put him to? He remembered it clearly, his first day in Ponyville. He was doing this exact same job, alongside her. There were a whole lot of things to supervise than Spike remembered on his first day here in Ponyville. Twilight did most of it while all he did was hang around and watch her go through the difficulties of the task. This meant that he had little to no experience in this kind of work, but what did it matter anyway? It should be enough that he's seen it done before already, not to mention that it seems to be an overall simple job. This was great. With this job he'd be able to roam the town without feeling that he was wasting time not doing something productive.
The one thing that was different was that Twilight only had a few items on her list that time. Spike had always wondered if that was the Princess's way to introduce Twilight to her future best friends in Ponyville. Now, that same task has been given to him, in a larger volume. This was an interesting coincidence. It was easy to imagine a hidden meaning behind this job given to him.
Spike checked the list for any venues that would be of his interest. Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, each had their own work and were all there within the other minor and menial preparations separating each one. He didn't have to make much of an effort to spot them all. Twilight had already marked them in a special different colored ink. There were only a few stops before he got to his first area of interest at the "Ponyville Cooking Center" where Applejack was most likely mixing ingredients for the "Summer Sun Cake". According to the description this must be one hay stack of a cake.
Rolling up the scroll and fitting it into his travel bag, Spike referenced his flawless mental map of Ponyville and pointed his snout towards a certain avenue, out of the many that branched out from the Library area that he knew led to his first destination.
Echoes of the CMC's giggles tickled his ear, which Spike realized after a looking over his shoulder, to be a trick of his mind. He took an anxious look around his surroundings before shaking it out of his mind and speedily walking away from the party noises coming from the library behind him.
The job had involved more walking that Spike had anticipated. His legs weren't worked to the point of pain, but this was far more exercise than a normal walk around the town. He had just gone around a large area of the town square, checking to see if public sanitation was going to interfere with the town's beautification for the day's events. The garbage bins were cleared, the streets were free of litter, and just about every window of every store had been polished to a blinding shine.
There were no hitches, so far. He was on his way to the cooking center, looking forward to seeing what kind of masterpiece Applejack was going to be working on for today. Just reading the description for the cake was intimidating. All the ingredients had been gathered to a single location including flour, sugar, eggs, and all the stuff that goes into cake, in lethal doses. Lethal can also define its weight, by how deadly it would be if a whole load were to fall on an unfortunate pony.
But where was all of this going to go down? With cake involved, Spike had expected it to be at the Sugarcube Corner, the first place that would come to mind if anyone mentioned cake. But the Sugarcube Corner has its own quota for today and they would certainly need their own bakery to meet it. The Cooking Center is the only place in town that has a large enough kitchen and oven to handle a project of this size. The gigantic columns of the cake bread were going to be made, while decorations and frosting for the cake were going to be prepared in different parts of town and shipped to the center, where professionals will decorate and "befrost" it.
Then at last it will be in display at the town hall, where it will await slicing, distribution, consumption, and smearing across the snouts of your befriended.
Just where did Spike's responsibilities fit into this whole system? All he needed to do was to learn when the baking stages of the project were going to be completed, take a list of any problems, deficiency in ingredients or workforce, and report them to the catering department at the town hall.
Quite easy compared to what the rest of the ponies involved have to go through.
That was what Spike was thinking as he approached a factory like building, complete with smokestacks and a locking dock for trucks. Was this really a building just for cooking? Just how many large orders does Ponyville get every so often? Will this building even be needed for its full output potential besides events like today?
Spike entered the building through the front entrance and went along a hallway until he reached the double doors leading into the "mega bakery".
The room was as wide as the building. The ceiling was a bit over twice as high as an average room. While the exterior appeared to give the building a very industrial look, the inside seemed quite clean and fancy, just a like a scaled up version of a kitchen you would see on a cooking channel. There was plenty of light coming through the large windows that reached from the the snout height of an adult pony to the ceiling, giving it almost the impression of being in Princess Celestia's throne room, without the regality, of course. It was really a place you would trust to have your food cooked just seeing how clean it would have been if it weren't for the chaos of cooking a giant cake all around the area. Used cooking apparels, dirty aprons, towels, sinks brimming with materials in a desperate need of a dishwasher dominated the scene. An entire corner of the room was dedicated to the waste, egg shells, empty bags of flour and sugar, and empty gallon sized milk containers.
The smell of the room… well, nothing more to say than it smelled like cake.
But the noise…
The aluminum bowls clattered and mixing machines grinded, doing what no pony with normal sized arms and average lifting abilities could never do. There was chattering coming from all directions while the bakers at work exchanged information relevant to the job at hand. Spike began to wonder how he was supposed to find one pony in all of this until he heard the loudest noise of them all.
"Allright I need all ya'll over there make sure that the cake pans aren't leaking!" Spike heard Applejack shout orders from an elevated platform over the large baking racks which were holding enormous cake molds that were most likely one of the many sections of the actual giant cake.
Spike didn't understand all the cake jargon, which to Spike's realization, actually existed. Hearing Applejack's voice being the largest made him unable to resist making a smile. It wasn't because this made her easier to find either. Watching her work, he began to wonder if he was even worth the time to share a few words with her. At the same time, he sort of knew that she would welcome it anytime.
Even though Applejack was directing the whole lot, her cooking hat, which replaced her usual, and apron were streaked with flour, making her appear equally messy. As with having a very large oven on site, things can get pretty warm inside. She was sweating and, presumably, expending a whole lot of energy, but her smile seemed to be unaffected.
"Excuse me!" Spike heard somepony call to him from the scene. Spike traced the voice with his hearing and guessed the general direction of where the voice had come. He saw a pony walking towards him maneuvering through the traffic of the workers.
It was a pony who had almost the same mane and coat color as Applejack's. Her eyes were blue, while Applejack's were green, and she kept her hair free, natural, and untied. This was a common hair style for most mares in Ponyville, popular for its simplicity. There was a very tasty looking desert of the baked variety for her cutie mark, a feature that assured Spike that he wasn't staring at a copy of Applejack, but she almost had him fooled. She, as well, had on a hat an apron, but they seemed to be cleaner than what the other ponies had on. She had a clipboard with her which told Spike that she wasn't type that did the "hooves on" work
"Is there anything you need? Because you really shouldn't be coming in and wandering as you please," she told Spike with much scrutiny. Just who was she, one of Applejack's relatives?
"I'm here to take a list of things that you might be running short on," Spike explained sheepishly.
The pony turned a few pages very quickly in her clipboard. "Nope, I don't think there is anything that we're in dire need of. Everything is running smoothly, thank you. Will that be your business?"
The issue was resolved much more abruptly than Spike had anticipated. Sure he was here to do his job, but since he's come all the way, he had hoped to see Applejack at work, and get her version of the report on the current situation personally. It would be easier for Spike to walk out of this bakery after hearing that than with just the response he had received from this mare that he felt was lacking in specific description.
"I just wanted a word with Applejack." Spike looked over the pony to check if Applejack was where she was just before. However, she had left her previous location and was not in sight.
"I don't think that'll be possible," she said tartly. "You see, she's directing this entire project, and I don't think it would be in our best interest to distract her just to have her repeat what I've just told you."
"And more," said a voice to Spike's relief. Applejack had come to see him herself. So she had noticed him come in just a few moments ago.
"Applejack! Should you be here?" asked the pony.
"I think they've got it under control, Cobs." Applejack nodded. "They wouldn't be working here if they can't get the job done without somepony telling them what to do. And I believe Ruby needs a moment to speak with me."
"Goodness forbid that something goes wrong while you're idle. Then we'll really have something to request from your friend here."
"C'mon," Applejack said lightheartedly. "How can you deny this face? This is my cousin Apple Cobbler. Here, shake hooves."
Apple Cobbler, or Cobs, as Applejack referred to her, rolled her eyes as she matched her hoof with Spike's, exchanging a weak up and down with each other. She could have been thinking of him as one of many things. A nuisance would be one of those many things… perhaps not that many.
"Please hurry, Applejack, if you must. Keep it short. You're a part of many important things here and you can't leave the others without your assistance."
"I know there are a lot of important things that needs to be done around here, but I do believe that my word with Ruby is just as important. It'd be nice if you would consider it so as well, sorry about that."
"Fine, I guess we can cover for you while you're 'busy'." Cobs sighed. "Have fun now, Applejack. Nice meeting you, Ruby…"
She trotted away, making sure to scold ponies who were dilly-dallying back into work. Applejack led Spike to a quieter part of the bakery, behind the large mixing machines which were not operating at the time. The machinery separated the area from the rest of the noise and it was an area hidden enough so that they would only be visible from outside through the lone, large window beside them. It was the ideal place to share a few words.
"I didn't know your cousins were so uptight." Spike chuckled. "Do ponies really get like that raised in the country?"
"Cob's has always been one of the stricter fillies I've known. She's got a talent for baking but she's also sharp with her studies, perfect cousin to ask to help me oversee the project."
"That explained the clipboard she was flipping about. You can't give some ponies that clipboard."
"Sorry about that. She's usually more pleasant than what you've seen just now, just the work getting to her. She's not as used to work."
"I don't blame her, although you don't seem all that busy or agitated. You seem almost as if you're enjoying it all."
Applejack raised her brow and gave him a testy look.
"Hey, I am busy. I was even wondering whether I should be here with you or not." Applejack smiled taking a few looks over her side. "I hope something doesn't explode while I'm gone."
"What?" Spike sounded deeply concerned. "Explode? Cob's was right. What if something really does go wrong with the cake? I didn't know you were cutting it this close. No pun intended. Go on, get back out there. There's always later."
Applejack stopped Spike, placing her hoof on his chest stopping him as he steadily took steps forward from their concealed spot in an attempt to coax her back into work.
"No sweat, I don't want you freaking about me or the cake. I wouldn't have pulled you aside if I had absolutely no time. Cobs wouldn't have taken so lightly to it either. It's fine."
Spike wasn't so sure to accept this or not. However, it was very difficult not to given the fact that she didn't give off any aura or feeling of busyness, haste, or work related stress. She was awfully light and cheery, as she had been all the times he's worked with her. Why did he doubt her now? She had always been like this.
"It doesn't mean that I have all the time in the world either." Applejack smiled. "So what are you here for, Mr. Ruby?"
Spike found it embarrassing to explain, given the extreme difference of importance between his and Applejack's given responsibilities.
"Well, I've come to take a list of things you might be in need of. Ingredients, tools, workforce, I'm here to deliver the request."
"We're fine thanks." Applejack replied just as swiftly as Apple Cobbler had, but not to be dismissive. She felt that there were better ways to invest their short moment together. Spike felt as if the scroll in his travel bag had become several times smaller, or lighter, he wasn't sure.
"About your job, when do you think you're going to be finished?" Applejack asked.
"Around this evening, I suppose," Spike replied, recalling the last few things that were on his list. "From the looks of it, I can guess you won't be letting out any time soon."
"Actually I'm only responsible for the baking part of the cake making process. The frosting and decorating is done by another team. I'll be finished here faster than you think."
Applejack nodded. "You'll be finished a little while before I will, so why don't you drop on by afterwards. We can enjoy the festivities after we meet up here, find something to do before the sunrise."
"Twilight's invited me to her tree house for a party after everything's over with. If I'm invited, you're invited for sure, that goes without saying."
"Great, so we have a plan?"
"Yeah, I guess, we do."
The sunlight from the windows had dimmed down, leaving them in considerable less lighting. Spike's eyes went towards the window and decided that it was just a cloud were passing over the sun. He began to think of the next assignment on his list. When Spike looked back he saw Applejack checking her fellow workers from between the machines and then back at him. "Looks like they've finished with the batter, I'll have to get back and help them out with the pouring. I'll see you later, okay?"
"Sure, but which way am I supposed to leave?" Spike asked.
Applejack walked back up to him and pointed out a door at the corner of the building, a back entrance.
"Just unlock it and you'll be behind the building. Go right around and you'll find yourself back at the front entrance."
Spike nodded and turned to leave but was held back by Applejack. Apparently she had more to say.
"How were Applebloom and her friends today? Did they cause you much trouble?"
"No, they were just fine. We ended up hanging out in the tree house, kept them busy during the morning just like you asked me to. We had a good time. They should be enjoying themselves in the town by now."
Applejack took a swift step forward and before Spike could back off or react. Having been caught off guard, in mid sentence, it almost took him a few seconds to realize that she had just planted a small kiss on his cheek. He would have described it as a peck. It was over so fast. There was barely any residual feeling besides the smallest dot of cool moisture where she had contacted. Spike was in a daze for a split second and came to a moment later, watching Applejack give him a wave and slip past the mixers back into the fray of work.
"Keep up the good work, Ruby!"
Spike stood for a few moments, thoughts in a blank, as sunlight resumed shining through the windows, waiting for any sensation that might take him over before he realized that there was no reason for there to be any. He promptly pulled out his list and read on for his next task.
Spike swung open the back door, letting the cool fresh outside air wash and replace the stuffiness of the indoors that he had just recently become accustomed to. His list fluttered in the breeze as he pinned it down on the grass with his hoof.
His eyes ran from the top of list down to the marked line where Applejack's venue had been mentioned. He checked off the box, along with all the ones that came before it with a small quill he had found in the side pouch of his bag. Returning the quill to its pocket, his eyes fell down to his next agenda.
"Cloud Clearing" it read, in sky blue letters.
He was scheduled to see Rainbow Dash next. Predictably she was in charge of keeping the weather in check for today. Under her name, mentioned under the title, were written in pink letters "Be aware of procrastination". Of course, Spike wasn't surprised. He remembered the first time he met Dash, aloft on her bed of clouds, snoring the daylight away, while the sky was littered with the white poofs.
Getting her on the job was no problem, but just where in the hay was he supposed to find this unpredictable mare who, at this time, could be on the top side of a cloud, deeming her invisible to the earth pony eyes, or flying to and forth over Ponyville, making catching her a whole different mission in itself that requires more patience than even Spike would care to have. There was no listing of where to find her anywhere on this list, so Spike had very few options at hoof.
He could try to find her himself, but there was no way how long that would take. Before he did such a thing, he needed to find out just how urgent cloud clearing really was for now.
The best way to find out? Look up, of course. Spike turned his head upwards into the blue sky to get an idea of how many there were. Besides a few strips and wisps of cirrus clouds, the sky blue palette was almost completely clean. No danger of obstructed sunlight and definitely no danger of a downpour. If there were only clouds of this degree, then there would certainly be no huge problems for the rest of the day. Resident pegasi would clear those wispy clouds on their own if they proved to be any sort of nuisance. Rainbow Dash was only necessary to bust the larger, meaner, cloud masses.
He had been thinking all this as he was making his way around the building, back to the front entrance, as Applejack had directed him. It was then that he noticed a large white poofy mass floating just about window level, parked at the side of the building. It wasn't too far, almost just around the corner from where he had exited. Just what in the world was this doing here?
It was a cloud, only meters above the ground. Spike could get a good jump and touch it if he wanted to. If he were to blow from under it, it just might float back up to where it belongs, higher up.
What else was Spike to do? He couldn't just leave this curious cloud here while he goes looking for the untraceable Dash. It was tempting to try busting it himself. Just how many chances did one earth dragon or pony get, to touch a cloud this close up? If cloud clearing was the job and if Spike still had his appetite for work, old or new, he would certainly rise to the challenge of trying for it. This cloud, since it was the only one he knew of that offended the permitted air space, was probably one out of a few, or even the only one of its kind. He could be completing this job altogether just by taking care of this one lone cloud, resolving the need for Rainbow Dash. Just how hard could it be? Wiping out a cloud as one did a smudge on a window pane?
Spike positioned himself under the cloud, trying out knee exercises to keep his joints prepped for the jump. He thought of the best way to attack it, smacking it, punching it, cutting it across. Bucking was certainly out of the question. In the end, he decided that slicing it in half would be the best option for the way he was going to jump, like a cheetah on the hunt, swiping a small bird out of the air with one graceful leaping twist.
The shadow of the cloud provided with better visibility, keeping the sunlight from blinding him as he focused on one precise cut down the middle. Winding up for the jump, Spike sprang off the ground into the air. He reached the peak of his jump and managed to get some decent air time, during which he executed a spinning slashing movement with his hoof, not only chopping the cloud in half physically with his arm, but with the sheer force of his swing, manipulating the air around him to extend the range of his cut beyond his reach, dividing the cloud cleanly in one attempt.
He landed on his hooves, a little shaky, but standing as he watched the two halves drift slowly apart. Spike looked on with a somewhat satisfied expression, confident that he would be able to clean up the rest of the cloud with a few more sweeps. He had just positioned himself under one of halves that had begun drifting away, while the other remained quite stationary.
The cloud above Spike, having been severely disturbed had begun to disperse like dry ice did on water, becoming gradually smaller. Spike was just in the middle of deciding whether to finish it or leave it to disappear on its own when something much unexpected fell right between his eyes. There was a tail hanging out of the cloud, a rainbow colored tail. Spike took a few steps back having a good idea of what was going to happen next.
As the cloud shrank, the pegasus that had been on it the entire time, gradually became visible. Her lower half slipped off the edge of the shrinking cloud as she struggled to stay on, scratching at the surface to try and find some kind of friction to keep herself afloat. It was no use as it became obvious that the cloud was no longer large or tangible enough to support her weight. The whole scene was a bit pathetic, honestly. Spike didn't understand what she was working so hard for, as if she hadn't been seen already. Spike watched her kick and struggle for a moment before she finally forfeited, using her wings to keep from touching the ground, just as the remains of the cloud evaporated. She then turned to face Spike, slowly, looking speechless.
"Um… uh… Dang it, Ruby!" Rainbow Dash sounded annoyed, arms crossed, hovering in front of Spike. "There I was enjoying a nice nap before you came and cut by bed in half! What gives?"
"Oh, I don't know. I was clearing clouds, which is a job you're supposed to be doing!"
"If clearing clouds is my job then why the hay are you doing it?!"
"W-What!?" Spike cried in outrage. "Cause it was right in front of me and I thought I'd clear it to save you the trouble!"
Spike had no idea why he had joined her in raised voices. Just how in the world did he get caught in this pointless argument?
"Sorry for trying to help." Spike frowned. "Now that you're here, I'd appreciate it if you'd take care of the rest. I had no idea that out of all the ponies working their hooves off, the one taking a nap would have the shortest temper, goodness…"
Spike gave Rainbow Dash such a pompous about face that it would have put any rich pony in Canterlot to shame. He even swung his tail just right to land the prefect stinging feeling of rejection on Rainbow Dash. Spike took a few annoyed steps forward but stopped when he felt somepony holding onto his hind leg.
"Wait! Don't go!" Rainbow Dash cried as Spike halted his gait to keep from dragging her across the grass. "I didn't mean any that! It's just that you caught me off guard and I didn't know what to say. Please don't be mad!"
"What in the…?" Spike was very confused at this point. "Fine, I won't be angry, but were you really napping?"
"No I wasn't!" Rainbow Dash puffed her cheeks. "I'm not as lazy as you're probably thinking I am, but I'm not like that, you know? You've got to believe me!"
"I know everything."
"I was aware that you were going to be looking for me. Twilight let me know beforehand, so I'd thought it would be faster if I found you first, and I did."
"Then why didn't you meet me then?"
"Cause you kind of went into that big building and all, so I thought I'd wait in the meanwhile."
Spike looked over at the factory. The other half of the cloud was still intact floating by one of the windows. He looked up at the sky, pretty clear. There shouldn't be any clouds to-
"Block the sun…" Spike mouthed. The unusually low cloud next to the building, Rainbow Dash's strange behavior, the moment of dimness when he was with Applejack, it all made sense.
"You… you were spying on me, weren't you?"
Rainbow Dash bit her lip, surprised that he had caught on so quickly. She nodded very slowly in reply.
"You were watching me, and Applejack, through that window." Spike turned to the window once more. "You saw."
"I didn't see anything," Rainbow Dash lied with a mischievous smile.
Spike looked at her with his mouth open for a moment before taking a seat right there on the grass, letting out a great mix between a groan and a sigh, making his entire movement similar to that of a ball deflating quite noisily.
"Don't even try, it obvious that you did." Spike placed a hoof upon his face.
"Oh come on, It's nothing to be ashamed about." Rainbow Dash took a seat next to Spike. "If it makes you feel any better, I've flown over Sweet Apple Acres a whole bunch of times. I'm not surprised that you're like this with Applejack. You two make a nice couple. One kiss on the cheek is nothing I wasn't expecting."
Spike gave Rainbow Dash a disapproving look at learning that this wasn't the first time she had spied on him from the air. That probably means that she's seen just about as much as Applebloom. Now here she was talking the exact same things to him.
"Were just really close friends. The kiss on the cheek was definitely a first, despite what ideas you've had watching us back at the farm."
"Just close friends?" Rainbow Dash looked somewhat surprised, and disappointed. "Here I am burning up with jealousy at how happy you two look and you're telling me there isn't something between you two?"
"Nothing like that has ever been decided."
"Then that's something you should consider. Applejack's not the type to go around giving out free kisses, you know. I don't see any reason why she wouldn't like to be in a relationship."
"That wasn't part of the plan, if I ever had one to begin with," Spike replied. "I was never seeking a relationship with Applejack, so I didn't think I was allowed to. But now, I don't know anymore…"
"So you didn't expect to get along so well with Applejack?" Rainbow Dash asked. "But you are, and when you've reached a certain point, you're going to have to decide what to do now. It doesn't matter if you were seeking anything or not. It doesn't matter if there if you tell me there isn't anything between you two either. You're going to have to stop beating around the bush."
To have feelings for somepony, to confirm it is to give it value. He will have to act on it, but he wasn't in a position to act on anything right now. If only they knew what he had to consider, what kind of uncertainty was stuck in the back of his head, while making every decision for as long as he could remember.
I might not have time…
I might be discovered… I might disappoint…
I might l have a chance… I might hurt somepony… I might be hurt…
I might have to leave… I might have to lie… I might have to confess… I might have to be honest…
"I can't, it's too difficult," Spike replied with his eyes shut tight.
"It's not, do you like Applejack or do you not?" Rainbow Dash asked assertively.
"I've told you, there's nothing between us." Spike said out of reflex.
"Don't tell me what there is, tell me what you feel. It's only difficult if you keep dodging the question."
Why was she forcing him to reply to something he wasn't ready to answer? Even if he did, what could he do about it? What actions or decision would he be forced to make once he did come to an answer? He remembered Princess Celestia's letter. Was this question a way to sort out his feelings? He was scared to do so, because doing so meant bringing upon himself something that was unknown to him.
Once he did, all freedom will be lost to him. He will once again be a slave to his feelings, his heart. Regrettably his heart will not be able to take the fault when it causes him to do irreversible damage. He will have to take all responsibility in anguish, having only himself to blame, feeling betrayed by himself, unable to place his guilt on his feelings which he would have long discarded by then.
He would curse his heart for existing, curse it for the things it had caused him to do. He would wish it had never existed.
But if those feelings remain, then there would be his heart. Despite whatever damage, the pessimism, the contradicting, hopeless facts that were in his face, it would be there to shoulder his pain, understand his feelings, help him move forward, live on, feed him hope, reveal to him happiness unreachable by any other means.
Ironically, the moment he discards his heart, only then would the pain would be truly his. Only then would he be truly alone and broken. Only then would he have to believe the cold hard facts, which would become his reality, which would not have been otherwise.
She might like me… She might not… She might not be ready…
I might have misunderstood…
I might have to understand…
I might not want to believe…
I don't want to believe…
I still don't…
He was not to be a slave to his heart. His heart was his to follow. Even if he was unable to control it, it knew best where he truly desired to go. Whatever darkness it leads him into, it will never be over as long he stays loyal and true to it, and that was much better off than his heart having never existed.
So tell me, heart, what do I desire?
"Hello! Ruby!" Rainbow Dash called out to Spike as he was lost in his thoughts. "What's it going to be?"
Spike took a deep breath and exhaled.
"I wasn't sure if it was something for me to do," Spike smiled. "I think I do like Applejack. I have for a while, now that I think about it."
"There you go!" Rainbow Dash laughed alongside with him. "What took you so long?"
"I thought I would only be selfish admitting it, accepting it. But it never matters what I think, does it?
"And here we were, wondering if you'd ever admit it!"
Spike's laughter died down, wondering if he had heard her correctly.
"We?" he asked.
"Oh snap." Rainbow Dash chuckled nervously.
Spike's eyes widened as he quickly turned over to the other half of the cloud that had been floating by the window this entire time. Its size had dwindled considerably, but it still had mass because it had remained stationary. Unlike Rainbow Dash who had tried to escape while on it, speeding up its deterioration. It was small. It couldn't ever support a full grown pony. It was just then that Spike saw a reddish pink tail fall out and hang from it. It had been within earshot, listening to every word he had said.
Without another millisecond to spare Spike leaped from the spot and fantastically soared with both front arms spread out, his crosshairs spot on the target. When he smashed the cloud into the wall of the building he saw a light orange CMC rat scurry into the bushes. Spike slid off the wall, having obliterated the cloud, and paced menacingly over to the foliage. He stood in front of the thicket ready to rip them apart if that was the only way he was going to get to her. Rainbow Dash watched in suspense, frozen. Spike was so worked up that he almost didn't recognize the small rumbling noise that was emanating from within the bushes
It was then that the bushes suddenly exploded with leaves and engine exhaust. Spike ducked just in time as a scooter leaped over him and drifted to a halt next to Rainbow Dash.
"Don't you move!" Spike yelled, ready to chase her off the edge of the flat world if he had to, raking his front hoof on the dirt, smoke rising out of his nostrils. "You think your little scooter is going to out run me?!"
Scootaloo pulled out her megaphone and twirled it around her hoof. Spike froze in caution. He dare not trigger one of her dirty tricks.
"Applejack's right in there you know. It'd be a shame if she heard earlier than we're planning to tell her. You can stay right there and at least have a chance of stopping us before we do."
Spike bit his lower lip, having a hard time controlling how hard. Scootaloo let her engine exhaust billow out from behind her, serving as some sort of smoke screen as she sped away into the intersections of the town, becoming as untraceable as he had previously thought Rainbow Dash to have been.
Rainbow Dash sat there looking apologetic.
"Please don't be mad! She made me spy on you! I didn't know what was going on! I don't know anything that's going on! Would I have done this if I knew what was going on?! Don't kill me!"
She had brought herself down into a fetal position.
Spike took a few deep breaths and calmed down. Still very annoyed, but better off. He roughly jerked out the list, unrolled it most irritably, and looked down its contents. He walked past Rainbow Dash, who flinched to his approach.
"I need the sky spotless for today, if that wouldn't be too hard for you." Spike sighed, clearly suppressing something. "Despite what you've just done to me, it's not your fault as I've come to realize. You helped me remember something very important to me. I think that about covers for what happened just now."
"Oh, good." Rainbow Dash sighed in relief. "The clouds, I'll blast them into outer space!"
She saluted in a military fashion, as if she was back in flying school.
"And please, no more spying."
"I'll try not to…" Rainbow Dash smiled sheepishly.
Spike walked out from the trees and grass back onto the paved streets. He resisted his urge to ask somepony which way the scooter had gone. He checked his list for his next job, at the same time wondering where he should lay siege to smoke out those CMC rascals from their holes.
I might not want to believe…
I don't want to believe…
I still don't…
I never have…
I felt it…
So that's it?...