Despite everything, the sun still hung in the sky. The world still seemed to turn, he could tell by the nearly unnoticeable shift of the shadows over the metallic side of the dumpster, and birds still sung in the brilliant morning air. The sky was so very clear and blue as the sea, faint drifting clouds like waves crashing against the horizon. Despite all his troubles, the day went on.

Anyone would say that this was a glorious day, a wonderfully welcoming weather forecast and an abnormally abundant cheer drifting through the streets and into the swinging campus doors. A beautiful late summer day tangled in the beams of sunlight and the quickly changing hues of leaves, leaves which blew around him in his somewhat compromising position. But none of those things really mattered to him. He felt like trash, but hey, that came with the territory.

He sat up at last, wincing at the trouble his stomach muscles had lifting his weakened body to peer over the tall metal siding. He put my hands on it, and was quite sickened by the anonymous sticky substance that baked onto the bin like the leftover lining of cupcakes in those little round pans. He managed to pull himself up high enough to hoist his small body over the tall metal obstacle, though his landing on the other side was less than graceful. Dusting the garbage and rubbish of his freshly pressed pants, he sighed audibly, glancing back at the old familiar dumpster he thought he had outgrown. Surely throwing a kid into a dumpster was an old and tired ruse, but perhaps some people just never grew up or got creative about anything.

Sucking back the urge to mutter a cuss, Spike settled on a sigh as several teenagers bearing backpacks walked by. After they passed, he started following them from a distance, rubbing his swelling cheek. Up ahead, the group discussed mindless chatter, the sport they were gonna play as well as girls. It was typical high school chatter and he couldn't help but conjure up the mental images of several girls he knew.

The school itself was no Canterlot High, but Manhatten Secondary School did the job of teaching and preaching the fundamentals of education well enough. The notion that all of the student body were decent students made him snort in response. Up ahead, a girl was approaching him. She had a wide smile that slowly faded, shifting between concern and surprise before she settled on crestfallen. As they got closer, she pulled out a napkin from her bag as well as a small comb.

"Hey, Twi," he said, attempting to smile.

"Spike, what happened?" she asked, cleaning dirt off his face.

"I was walking to school and there was probably jello or something at the top of the staircase in the park and—" Spike paused, seeing Twilight's unchanged expression. Her eyes briefly shifted towards his as she paused. After a moment, Twilight continued with cleaning off the dirt, averting her eyes once more. Spike let out a long sigh.

"Felix spotted me walking and I guess he just decided that me existing pissed him off, I guess. Threw me in a dumpster afterward."

Twilight let out a drawn-out sigh and discarded the tissue. She quickly brushed off any leaves or dirt that was on his clothes before starting to remove any stains or mystery liquids that coated his previously clean-as-new outfit.

"Spike, it's been seven years now. Why won't you just accept help from others or talk to someone other than me? He won't stop if you won't try to stop him," she said, brushing the plastic teeth through his ruffled hair.

"Because I can't go around asking girls to fight my battles for me, and I want you to stop acting like you know what's best. I can take care of myself," Spike growled, crossing his arms.

"I know, Spike. I know," she muttered dejectedly before putting the comb away again.

Spike sighed, taking a quick glance at the school grounds. All around, the groups had shown themselves: jocks; bikers; smokers; students with cars, the list goes on. He mentally kicked himself for not putting himself in a group earlier in his high school life, stuck as the black sheep in a group full of girls.

Upon entering the building through its old, beaten-down doors, they were immediately greeted by Pinkie Pie, enveloping them both in a massive hug.

"HAYO, WELCOME BACK TO SCHOOL!" she squealed, repeatedly hopping up and down.

"P-Pinkie, be quiet, will you!?" Spike said, nervously glancing around.

"Hi, Pinkie," Twilight said, returning the hug.

Many eyes in the front hall had their eyes drawn to the trio with Spike as the only one nervous about the attention. His face reddened as he resigned himself to his fate, just as Fluttershy approached them as well. Pinkie Pie released them from the hug and seemed shaky with excitement.

"Hi, Twilight. Hi, Spike," she said in a rather excited voice (by Fluttershy's standards).

Spike gave a small wave, eying their uniforms. Twilight was always the modest one but she had spurned a bit, opting for a formal uniform. The other two were wearing clothes one would expect them to wear any day of the week. This caused the boy to look at his own clothes, worrying about any stains or tears in his new clothes. His worries were cut short, replaced with new ones. He briefly pondered what he'd say if the other two asked him what happened… or if they, like Twilight, wouldn't have to be told to put it together. To his relief, none of them asked, seemingly caught up in discussing what had transpired over the summer. Spike's eyes wandered, seeing if he could spot the others but to no avail. For several minutes, he let the girls talk, responding only when he was prompted to. He was okay with it, as he wasn't in much of a mood to chat it up. Eventually, the bells sounded and the two girls left, bidding the duo farewell.

"Alright, Spike. Please try to tell others, or ask for help next time. I only want you to enjoy learning, not dreading seeing those punks at school," she said, checking his hair once more.

Spike swatted her hands away before slouching forward, putting his hands in his pockets. He grumbled something to which Twilight either didn't hear or pretended not to. Pulling out a napkin, she quickly cleaned Spike's face once more much to his dismay but he didn't fight it. Twilight acted more like a mother than his older sister. And like a mother, she was going to take care of him whether he liked it or not. After, she disposed of the napkin and returned to the still-grumbling Spike. Students still piled in the front doors, heading to their classes as they stood in the centre of the room, people passing around them. She placed her finger on the bottom of his chin and tilted it up until his eyes met hers. Twilight flashed him a warm smile.

"Chin up, you won't make any friends grouchy. Try to make the best of it and if you have a problem, you have my number, okay?"

He muttered a "yes" and Twilight's smile shrunk a bit but she still gave him a hug. Spike's face reddened a bit but he still returned the hug nonetheless. Even if it was embarrassing, she was still his sister, just looking out for him. He could show her that he was thankful, even if but a little bit.

"Try and join a club, alright? It's not too late to start making friends, and what better way for friends to bond than through sports?"

"Sure, I'll think about it," Spike responded, his droopy voice no longer dominating.

Twilight's smile returned as they broke the hug and they went their separate ways, just as they were the last ones in the front hall.

Lunch time, Spike refused a text from Twilight to hang out with the girls. He decided that if he was going to man up and finally stand up for himself, he was going to join a club… and as soon as possible. Eating his lunch, he shuffled his feet as he made his way through the blue, white and black hallways adorned with lockers. Swerving around each student until he came up to the sports hallway. Walking through it, he passed the doors for the boys locker rooms located on each side until he got to a bulletin board next to the entrance to the gym. Glancing at it, he swallowed what was left of a fruit-snack and wiped his hands on his dirty shirt, reading the various team flyers.

"Basketball, baseball, soccer, fencing, swimming, book, football, golf, croquet, art, jeez… enough clubs!?" Spike muttered, rubbing his scalp as he took in the potential clubs.

He crossed his arms for a moment, tapping his foot as he thought. Around him, other students walked around the halls, chatting, or if they're in grade 9, glancing at a map as well as their class schedule. Inside the gym, a game of dodgeball was roaring between student parliament and some of the grade 9s. Spike glanced out there briefly, taking in the immense fun some of the newbies were having. Grand, large smiles adorned the faces of several students that were clearly sports stars as well as ones who looked more like they belonged in science class. None of them seemed to be fighting or arguing over who got hit or what… it was just good fun and Spike briefly wished he did this in his first year.

Sighing, the boy rubbed his cheek once more where it was most visible he was hit. Spike glanced back towards the bulletin board and a thought started to bud up in his mind. He continued rubbing his cheek, thinking back to the incident.

A shove from behind sent the boy with green hair stumbling forward. He fell to the ground onto his hands and he quickly stood up, facing the one who shoved him. A boy with an expression somewhere between smug and distaste glared at him as he was rounded by two others. He spit at the ground in front of the green haired boy as the three cornered him by a dumpster.

"Spike, now that I've got your attention, I was hoping you'd introduce me to one of those lady friends of yours. Maybe show her a good time, go out this year with a bang, no pun intended." He grinned.

"Felix, why not just ask them yourselves if you're so eager to look like a dipshit," Spike said, balling his fists up.

"Now now, Spike, that's no way to treat old friends but if that's what you want—"

A closed fist met the side of Felix's torso, hitting him in the ribs. He let out a cough, clutching his side as he stumbled back. Before Spike could retract his arm to prepare for the other two, one of Felix's goons hit him in the left cheek, knocking him over. The second goon stepped forward and kicked Spike once in the gut, soliciting a cough from him. The two then made sure that Felix wasn't dying on the ground and then all three turned their attention to Spike as he grabbed the edge of the dumpster and pulled himself up, disposing of his bag to the next. His body shivered and his cheek was starting to swell up already with tears building up in his left eye.

"Spike, didn't your momma ever say not to start fights?" Felix said, cracking his knuckles.

Spike raised his fists, arms still shaking as he nervously glanced at them. A flurry of punches and kicks later, Spike was sitting on the ground, leaned up against the dumpster as he held onto his gut. He let out several rough coughs, but he didn't make much noise. Without wasting a second, the three boys grabbed his arms and yanked him to his feet before chucking him into the garbage dumpster. Grabbing his bag, Felix unzipped the opening and dumped the contents into the garbage bin atop Spike before tossing the bag across the small street. For good measure, the second goon closed the bin over Spike as the three proceeded to school.

Spike's face darkened as he thought of the incident in the morning yet he glanced to one flyer as he thought about the whole fight.

"I didn't really feel any pain from their hits. I could do a contact sport," he muttered, eyes finding themselves directed towards the tacky football poster.

It was one of those cheap designs that was clearly produced in a slideshow program rather than an actual image editor. Cheap, flashy; it was clearly made by an uneducated student parliament member that though bright neon colours and stretched, pixelated images would look good when printed out in the school's black and white printers (God forbid they spend a little money printing colour posters).

FOOTBALL TRYOUTS! COME JOIN THE FOOTBALL TEAM AND WORK HARD AND TOUGH! SPEAK TO TEAM CAPTAIN, APPLEJACK, FOR MORE INFORMATION! TRYOUTS ARE AFTER SCHOOL AT 3:30 PM! BE THERE!

Not minding the poor quality, Spike wondered if he should go ask Applejack in the cafeteria. Already seeing the inevitable meeting and introductions occurring, he decided to wait and seek out the farmer after school. Taking a quick glance around, he stepped out of the hallway and headed towards his next classroom to finish lunch. As he sat down at a desk, teacher not present, he pulled out his phone and glanced at the contact list. It was only four of the six girls he knew; Twilight, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie and Applejack. He didn't need Rainbow's number, and he was too nervous to so much as speak to Rarity. A meek attraction towards the fashionista closed him off from asking, as well as what her reaction might be.

"A weakling that gets beaten up wants my number!? Bah! Come back later when you grow a spine!"

'Okay, that probably won't happen, but she won't want to talk to me. She already has so many friends, she doesn't need me,' he thought.

Suddenly, the prospect of the football team seemed more and more enticing. He ran images of himself scoring various touchdowns. Spike, the seven-foot tall Quarterback with muscles large enough to make Big Macintosh feel envious. He smiled stupidly at the impossible thought but the prospect of toughening himself up via football still rung in his mind. With that, he scrolled down to Twilight's name and tapped it. A photo of the girl asleep at her desk, drooling all over a textbook was present; Spike's caller ID photo for her, much to the scholar's dismay. Near the top of the page, he tapped the IM icon and mashed out a quick text.

"Twilight, maybe joining football team. Maybe toughen self up. What do u think?"

SEND

With that, he sighed and set the phone down as he pulled out a sandwich. Before he got a bite in, his phone vibrated repeatedly with one of the phone's preinstalled ringtones playing. Twilight's sleeping figure acted as the caller ID image. Spike set the sandwich down atop the plastic baggie it was in and hit answer.

"Hello?" he asked.

"SPIKE, hi! So glad to hear you're joining a team," she shouted into the phone. Loud chatter could be heard on the other end as well as the squeaky voice of Pinkie Pie seemingly describing the mechanics behind an ice cream truck. A few giggles could be heard, one of which Spike identified easily regardless of the crappy sound. "I have Applejack here if you wanna talk, or I guess you can talk since you have her number. Or do you want me to put you on speaker phone!?"

"No, Twi, that's not nec—"

"OOPSIE, SORRY, TWILIGHT! HAHAHA!" a loud, bubbly booming voice sounded along with an entire cafeteria of loud, chatting voices.

The sound blared out of the earpiece for the phone suddenly, scaring Spike into dropping the phone. He rubbed his ear as it buzzed for a brief moment. Twilight could be heard scolding Pinkie Pie for a moment and by the time Spike recovered, his heart fluttered at the voice he heard.

"Twilight, is that dear Spikey!? Where is he, don't tell me he's eating alone, right?" Rarity's voice said.

Spike was briefly stunned for a moment before he raised the phone up to his ear. He gulped a moment just as Twilight started to speak.

"Y-yeah, it's Spike, and—"

"No, no, I'm not alone, per say. I'm just w-waiting to talk to a guidance counsellor to change a class, yeah," Spike stuttered out.

"Oh, yeah. Spike said he wanted to switch out of… that class, yeah, haha," Twilight said.

Spike breathed a sigh of relief.

"Oh. Well, be sure to come to our table tomorrow, Spikey. Some of us haven't seen you all summer and would like to catch up, alright?" Rarity asked.

Spike gulped a moment, feeling all ability to think properly vanish.

"R-right, uh, sure. I will. No problemo," he stammered, feeling a smile force its way to his face.

"What are you doing?" a voice asked.

Spike looked up to see a teacher standing in the doorway, files in one hand and a coffee cup in the other. Spike gulped once more for a different reason and stammered once more.

"Uh, sorry, gotta go," he spat out as he ended the call.

"No food or drink in here!"