A Dragon’s Flame
Chapter One: Five Years Later
Spike’s lungs burned with exhaustion as he darted down the dark, vacant streets. He looked over his shoulder time and time again, hoping that those in his pursuit would finally give up.
As he passed a building, he thought it might serve as a refuge, but as he tried the door, only to find it locked, his hopes were dashed. Not willing to waste anytime knocking, Spike turned and began running once more.
Quickly, he found himself regretting this, for the hoof steps he had been running from, were beginning to echo louder and closer.
A now older Spike awoke with his heart racing and a cool chill running down his scales. He brought his hand to his head and tried to wipe away some of the sweat he had accumulated in his sleep. It didn’t take him long to realize that his face wasn’t the only thing damp, for his pillows were as well.
He looked over to see the first beams of sunlight were beginning to reach over the windowsill. This comforted him, for his nightmares were finally at an end, yet as he did this, he caught sight of Twilight’s empty bed. He couldn’t help but sigh at this disappointment. Spike didn’t know why he was expecting her to be there, after all, she was a highly schedule oriented pony.
Spike slid out of bed and made his way down the staircase. As he did this, the smell of pancakes met his nose. Looking to a nearby clock, he found that it was a little after seven thirty.
He stepped into the kitchen to find Twilight with a plate of pancakes before her. She seemed to be too intrigued by her newspaper to even notice Spike’s entrance.
“Good Morning, Twilight,” he said groggily.
Twilight appeared to jump before she looked up to Spike. She forced a smile to hide her worry over the news article, but it quickly turned to a frown. Spike’s eyes were once again bloodshot, with dark circles to outline them.
“You didn’t get much sleep I take it?”
He shook his head.
“Well, there’s pancakes if you want some,” she said as she gestured towards the plate across from her.
Spike shot her a playful look as he took a seat. “You didn’t burn the underside like last time, right?”
The princess rolled her eyes. “That only happened once.” She paused before redirecting the conversation. “Now, do you mind telling me what kept you up?”
Spike sighed. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Same as last time?”
Twilight leaned back in her seat. “Are you sure you don’t want to talk? It might help to get some of this stuff off your chest.”
“No, I’m good,” he said, raising a claw to reassure her.
“I’m just saying you should-“
“Twilight, it’s okay. Can we please just talk about something else?” said Spike, more forcefully than he meant.
She averted her eyes, fearing her present course may only serve to annoy him.
He noticed this shift, and began to regret his actions.
“I’m sorry. Now just isn’t a good time…”
This caused both to feel slightly awkward, but Twilight quickly thought of something to say.
“Hey, when I was making these pancakes I noticed we were running low on a few things. Do you think you could come to the market with me?”
He nodded. “Sure, but first, can you tell me why the news had you so worried.”
Twilight almost choked on her sip of orange juice.
“What are you talking about?”
Spike smirked. “Twilight, we both know I can read you like a book. So, what is it?”
She looked down at the newspaper, hesitating before unfolding it and sliding it over to Spike.
As soon as he read the front page, Spike leaned back in his seat, clearly more distressed.
“DRAGON ON PONY MURDERS SPARK OUTRAGE”
Spike moved down and began to read the rest of the article. It was obviously bias; almost trying to stir up controversy with the way it was worded. Sure it was good for the news industries, but bad for the thousands of innocent dragons living in Equestria.
“So, it’s starting again?”
Twilight nodded. “Hopefully this will blow over in a couple months like last time.”
Spike looked up at her with an expression obviously not as hopeful as Twilight’s. “It still hasn’t blown over, Twi; it just hasn’t been as bad.” Spike then stood. “I mean, whose brilliant idea was it to put a town near the Dragon’s border anyways?!”
“Spike, it’s not going to be like last time. I promise the princesses and I will do something.”
“You’re not a dragon, so you just don’t get it!”
Now it was Twilight’s turn to get frustrated. “That may be true, but I saw how you were last time, and I care about you more than anypony in the world! So don’t tell me I don’t get it!”
Spike just stared at her, really not sure how to reply.
Twilight’s cheeks turned a light shade of crimson at the realization of what she had said. However, since it was true, she figured that she might as well own up to it.
As the pair walked down the streets, Twilight looked to each of the market stands, trying to check off every item on her list. Spike, on the other hand, was far less focused on the task, and more on the eerie feeling that he was being watched. He would continually turn around hoping to catch some pony eyeing him, but each time he did this he found no one paying him any attention. However, based on past experience, he figured the best thing to do was ignore it, for now at least.
Oftentimes Spike would wonder just what happened to Equestria, the same nation he helped protect on numerous occasions. It’s almost as if the recent years of peace have left everyone with nothing to do. Simply put, if the evil outside is at rest, then the evil inside is at work.
“Spike, which one of these look better?” asked Twilight, holding up two tomatoes with her magical grip.
Spike really couldn’t see a difference; so he did somewhat of a mental coin flip.
“The one on the left, I guess.”
Twilight eyed the one he had selected once again. “You’re right. The other one is too early.”
The princess then made her way over to the pony running the stand.
“That’ll be four bits,” she said with a smile.
Twilight reached into her saddlebag and pulled out the requested amount before thanking her and trotting away. Spike smiled to the seemingly friendly pony, but as he did this, her sunny expression quickly became one of hate.
Spike truly began to loathe outings. Each time he’d leave the library, he’d have to deal with something like this. Honestly, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d gone in public without someone mumbling about him being a savage, or catching someone watching him with a look of disgust. However, in Ponyville at least, ponies like this only made up a minority, so he never felt like he was ever in any real danger. Only in the larger cities did the threats become a reality.
Just as Spike rested Twilight’s grocery bags upon the floor, an emerald flame shot out of his mouth. Before the incoming letter had time to hit the ground, Spike’s claw snatched it from the air. Examining it, he saw the royal seal of Princess Celestia, as usual.
“Come on, why is it that Luna never writes you?” he asked as he handed her the scroll.
Twilight smirked as she unrolled it. “Do you remember how she could dream walk?”
“Yeah, she sure likes to…” As Twilight glanced over the parchment, she began to trail off; her expression going from a mildly happy one, to that of concern.
Spike instantly took note of this abrupt change. “What’s wrong?”
Twilight just stared at the letter, rereading it a whole three times. She had hoped that she might have misread some critical detail, but found she had not.
She looked up to him. “Princess Celestia wants us to come to Canterlot.”
Spike, now greatly relieved, chuckled. “That’s it? The look you had made me think someone just died.”
“She wants us to stay, for the foreseeable future.”
His expression now shifted to mirror Twilight’s. “What?”
“She says she’ll give us some time to get our things together, but she wants us in Canterlot by the end of the week.”
Spike made is way over to Twilight’s side, as to read the letter for himself.
“Did she say why?”
She handed Spike the parchment before walking off. “No, but I have a pretty good guess.”
Spike walked along the dirt path outside of Ponyville, a cool mid morning breeze enveloping him with the scent of spring. It was the perfect place and time to do some thinking, and think he did. Spike thought of all the hate he’d receive upon his arrival in Canterlot, all the things he and his new friends, the Cutie Mark Crusaders, wouldn’t get to do together, but most of all, he thought of Rarity.
If he was really going to live in Canterlot for as long as he’s lived in Ponyville, it could be years before he saw her again. By then any feelings she might have developed for him would be long lost. This was something Spike was certainly not willing to accept. However, this presented him with yet another problem; if she indeed had any feelings for him, there was only one way to find out. He had to ask Rarity out, on a date.
It was something perfectly simple, yet the very notion of it sent fear burrowing deep into his heart. There were only two possible outcomes, but only one brought about this feeling.
The dragon pondered just how he’d go about this. Would he go up to her casually and ask so matter-of-factly that it was as if he were asking her the time? No, that’d seem to brash, almost like he didn’t care one way or another. Would he wear his best suit and bring her a bouquet of flowers? No, that’d seem too over the top, and all the effort might even make her feel obligated to go out with him. No matter how much he wanted her to do this, indirectly forcing her to go was not the answer.
Then, a far more troubling thought crossed his mind. What if she does say yes, only to never get to see him? He couldn’t keep her from being happy, by never being there for her. It just wasn’t right.
Spike sighed and came to a stop. He craned his neck back and looked up towards the blue sky. Clouds danced with the wind as they always had, completely unaware of his inner turmoil. It always seemed that the most beautiful of days, would be Spike’s worst.
“Spike?” asked a familiar voice.
He looked over to see that his thought blinded stroll had brought him to Sweet Apple Acres, and there before him was Applejack sitting peacefully beneath an apple tree.
She smiled to him. “What are ya doing all the way out here?” The mare then took note of his expression. “Something the matter?”
The cowpony’s genuinely caring attitude brought a weak smile to Spike’s lips. Lately, having anyone show the least bit of concern for him, other than Twilight, was always uplifting.
“Just doing a little thinking, AJ. What about you?”
She fixed her hat. “Well, I just finished some apple bucking, and figured I’d take a break before lunch." She paused. "Now, how about you tell me what it is you’re thinking, because you sure don't look too happy about it.”
If there was one thing other than honesty that Spike knew Applejack for, it was persistence, so he figured he might as well get this over with now.
He sighed before speaking, considering his next words.
“Applejack, I want you to promise not to mention this to anyone.”
She nodded. “Cross my heart. Now, what’s wrong?”
Spike looked to the dirt; the morning’s dew almost completely burnt away. “If somepony you care about a lot is going away, should you tell them how you feel?”
Applejack smirked. “Well, that answer is obvious; of course you should. If you care about this mare, you should tell her.”
Spike looked up. “But wouldn’t it hurt to find out, only to have them leave?”
Applejack nodded. “Yeah, it would, but never knowing is even worse.”
“How can you be sure?”
Applejack stood to her hooves and trotted over to Spike. “Just because I was never too involved in the dating business, doesn’t mean I don’t know how ponies think. So just trust me on this one. Even if you two don’t get to see each other every day, there’s nothing stopping letters, phone calls, and the occasional visit.”
Spike nodded. “That’s if she says yes.”
Applejack smiled. “Let me tell ya right now, she’d be a fool not to. And if she does say no, that’s her loss.”
He smiled back at Applejack. She did always have a habit of knowing just the right thing to say to make him feel better. Then suddenly his expression fell as he remembered the true reason for his departure.
“Even with all that’s been happening to dragon’s lately?”
Applejack looked away, truly not expecting this remark. “All I can say is, if she really does want to be with you, she wouldn’t care. Besides, if you’re going for some pony who isn’t willing to fight for the two of you, she’s not the right one.”