Spike meets his fate as the missing Crusader returns.
The train station in Ponyville wasn’t as large or prominent as it was in other towns. There was no need. While its population was about average for an Equestrian city, tourism and trade were very rare. With an Apple orchard on the outskirts of town, a highly flexible weather service, and a diverse economic landscape. Ponyville was one of the most self-sustaining cities in the country. They never needed any outside assistance. Because of this, the lone set of tracks would remain quiet for days, or occasionally, weeks at a time.
But the odd train still ran through the town, bringing supplies, letters, packages, and passengers. One of which was the 9:00 from Seaddle, arriving every Monday, when required; and on this particular Monday, it was.
The single passenger car was completely empty, except for a single seat in the far back corner. There, a small, orange pegasus filly curled herself up on the bench, eyes closed.
She wasn’t sleeping. Her mind was too busy to rest.
The engineer applied the brakes, and the locomotive began to slow down. Scootaloo opened her eyes and looked around the vacant cabin. She could see the familiar sights of her hometown through the windows on the far side. Turning her neck, the familiar mountainsides of the Everfree region filled her view. But while it felt familiar, it didn’t feel like home.
After being gone for a month, everything felt foreign. She presumed this was only natural, and not a result of her most recent discovery.
As she jumped off the bench, Scootaloo looked around the car, to ensure she didn’t forget anything. All she had was her saddlebag; and a brand new, bright red dress. It was a simple outfit, that managed to draw the eye. She wasn’t exactly excited about it. It wasn’t exactly her style, but that wasn’t the problem. The problem was the reason she had it. Her parents didn’t say why they bought it, but they didn’t need to. She already knew.
As the train came to a full stop, the filly trotted down the aisle, and hopped off the train.
The rising sun greeted her as she stood on the platform. Her hometown spread out in front of her. She left the station, and entered the downtown core.
There wasn’t much for her to do. She didn’t want to go home yet, and no one even expected her to be back for another week.
Scootaloo mindlessly wandered through the village, allowing her thoughts to take over.
She had never felt more alone in her life, and not simply because she took an earlier return flight than her parents. After what she learned, Scootaloo thought of herself as a foreign entity in this town. Nopony else in the village was in the same boat as her. Nopony else could understand. To make matters worse, it wasn’t even her fault, it was her parent’s. But she couldn’t get herself to blame them. How could she blame them when they were the victims too?
The young pegasus stopped in her tracks. Before her stood a large statue. A tribute to Equestria’s sovereign ruler, Princess Celestia. The one who raised the sun every morning. Many thought of her as some kind of deity. Was it possible? If it was, could she help?
Scootaloo brushed the thoughts from her head, the last thing she needed was false hope.
She trotted past the figure, searching the shop fronts for anything that could make her forget all that had happened… If only for a few brief moments.
The interior of Sugarcube Corner was nearly empty. A nice cinnamon roll definitely appealed to her. A small smile appeared on her face as she ran toward the storefront.
Pinkie Pie tossed a cupcake to the stallion before her. He quickly grabbed it in a blue aura.
“That’ll be two bits!” she said from behind the store counter.
The unicorn dropped the coins on the glass, and quickly trotted away without a word.
As the young mare went to grab the currency, she stopped. The muscles in her ears started twitching. Her eyes began rapidly blinking. Her forelegs started shivering.
The unicorn flew across the room as he was hit by the front door of Sugarcube Corner.
“Oh, my!” Pinkie screamed, running toward the stallion. “Are you alright!?”
His face was smeared with chocolate pastry, and his eyes started to spin around. “OOOehh…eh…uh… Mommy?”
“Is he alright?” a voice came from behind the pink pony.
She recognized it instantly. Pinkie spun around and yelled, “Scootaloo! You’re back!” Grabbing the filly in a tight embrace.
“Um…yeah…” she said with a nervous smile. “Now, please let go.”
Pinkie released the pegasus, and the kitchen doors swung open.
“Scootaloo!” Apple Bloom exclaimed, running towards her best friend. “I thought you wouldn’t be back for another week!” she said with a hug.
“Uh… yeah, I sorta wanted to come back early,” she said with a nervous smile. “Did I miss anything?”
Apple Bloom’s eyes focused on Pinkie Pie, who stood behind the young pegasus. “Plenty,” she deadpanned. Perking back up she continued. “But forget that, what about you!? Didja have fun!?”
“Yeah,” she said. “At first… but…” Scootaloo was very unsure of herself. “Uh… I hate repeating myself. Where’s Sweetie Belle? I can tell you both at the same time!”
Apple Bloom put a hoof to her chin. “I think she’s at the clubhouse,” she said. “We could have a meetin’ after I’m done work.”
“Great!” she said.
“OO!! And we must have a huge Welcome Back Scootaloo Party!” exclaimed the pink party pony. “We’ll have cake and streamers and cake and punch and cake and Quiche and cake and games and ca-”
“-Pinkie!” Scootaloo screamed, interrupting the earth pony. “Can we hold it off for a while, at least until my parents get back?”
“They’re not with you?” the young earth filly asked.
“Uh… no?” she said nervously. “It’s a long story.”
“Well, then you better tell us later.”
“I will,” she affirmed with a nod.
“Well, I gotta get back to work,” she said. “See ya Scoots!”
As Apple Bloom returned to the kitchen, and Pinkie to the front counter, Scootaloo walked alongside the mare.
“You still got some cinnamon rolls?” she asked.
“Mmmmhm!” Pinkie nodded. “Fresh, right out of the oven!”
She quickly placed a roll in a paper bag, and passed it to the young pegasus, who dropped two bits on the counter in exchange.
Scootaloo turned to leave, but her eyes suddenly went wide. She turned around, dropped the bag on the counter and said, “Pinkie, can I ask you for a favour?”
“Sure! What is it!?”
“Well, hold on. It’s a huge favour, I might not be able to return it, you can’t ask any questions, and you can’t tell anypony.”
Pinkie was taken aback. She then put her skeptical face on. “Hmmm… I don’t know… I can’t ask questions…”
“But you’re the only one who can do it, and it’ll be very easy, and you might not actually have to do anything.”
She paused, and put a hoof to her chin. “Is it important?” she asked.
Pinkie rubbed her moustache in thought.
Scootaloo raised an eyebrow.
As Twilight walked down the streets of Ponyville, she passed by a white unicorn stallion. His face stained with what she hoped was chocolate, he had a brick of ice cream strapped to his head, contained in a pink balloon, and a box of pastries rested on his back.
He caught the curious mare’s eye. For purely intellectual reasons of course. After all, there was obviously a story there.
After the two passed, she turned around, and watched him trot away.
“Twilight,” her assistant said. “Come on, we got a list!”
“Um… right.” She took the parchment from the young dragon, and looked it over. “Hmmm… Okay, I’m supposed to meet up with Rarity soon, she said she wanted to help me redecorate the library.”
“Yeah, you think you’ll need anything for that? What are you planning?”
“Spike, it was her idea, not mine. I’m fine with the library the way it is.”
“So why did you agree?”
“I don’t know, I guess I just can’t say ‘no’ to her.”
Spike opened his mouth.
“Can it,” she said preemptively.
“Oh come on Twilight-”
“-It’s completely different,” she said, staring down the young dragon. “I’m not betraying or lying to anypony.”
“You’re lying to Rarity.”
“I didn’t lie, I said I was fine with it, not that I would enjoy it,” she said proudly. “And I’m not going to argue semantics with you.”
Spike released a dejected sigh as she trotted away. He quickly caught up with her.
“So, where to?”
“We have to pick up those bagels from Sugarcube Corner.”
“Uh…” he cowered slightly. “Apple Bloom’s gonna be there isn’t she?”
“It’ll be fine, Spike,” she said, trotting forward.
In the quaint little clubhouse on the edge of Sweet Apple Acres. Sweetie Belle slowly flipped through a large hardback book. The page turned in a pink aura, and her eyes danced across it.
She was so absorbed in the literature, she didn’t notice the sound of hoofsteps ascending the ramp; nor the arrival of a young orange pegasus in a red dress, and a dark red saddlebag.
Scootaloo looked at Sweetie Belle as she turned another page.
“See you’ve gotten better at that magic thing,” she said.
“Yeah… sorta,” the unicorn replied.
A few seconds later, her eyes went wide. She looked up to see a face she did not expect for a long time.
“SCOOTALOO!!!” she screamed, running up and embracing the orange filly. “You’re back!”
“Yeah, it’s good to see you too!” Scootaloo replied with a mile-wide smile. It was the most sincere statement she gave all day.
They separated, and Sweetie Belle asked the first question that came into her head. “So, how was it!? Did you have fun? Any pictures? Snow globes?”
“Uh… I’ll tell you later,” she said. “I wanna wait till Apple Bloom gets here.” She sat down on the floor, releasing her saddle bag. “What about you? Did I miss anything!?”
Sweetie Belle released a gasp, before giving a sparkling smile that could blind a phoenix.
The two purple figures entered the local bakery.
“Hey Pinkie Pie!” Twilight said with a smile.
“Oh! Hi Twilight! Spike! I know why you’re here, and I got it here.” She reached under the counter, and emerged with a pink box before releasing a giggle at her little rhyme.
Apple Bloom emerged from the back, and quickly trotted up to the young dragon. “Hey Spike,” she said with a mischievous grin. “Decide yet?”
“Um… no?” he hesitantly replied.
The grin quickly turned into a frown. “It’s been a month, Spike!”
“I know, I know, I’m just not sure yet.”
“You’d better get sure.”
“So, Pinkie!” Twilight said, desperate to change the subject. “Did you see a white unicorn covered in chocolate around? Had a box from here on his back? He looked in pretty bad shape.”
“Oh, yeah, he was here when Scootaloo came in and knocked him across the room.”
“Scootaloo!?” Twilight exclaimed.
“I’m sure it was an accident!” she said defensively.
“No, Pinkie, you mean she’s back? I thought she wasn’t supposed to be back for another week.”
“I think she just missed us,” Apple Bloom explained with a smile. “She has something big to tell me and Sweetie Belle though. I’m gonna meet up with them after work, and she’s gonna tell us everythin’.”
“Wait,” Spike said, his eyes wandering across the floor. His gaze shifted up, and drifted again, before he suddenly realized…
His eyes went wide.
“Apple Bloom, where is she now?” The Dragon asked.
“I think she’s at the clubhouse with Sweetie Belle.”
“Did you tell her about me?”
“Did you tell her about me, and Sweetie Belle, and Rarity!?”
“Of course she didn’t!” Pinkie exclaimed. “She would never do that! She promised!”
“Then she doesn’t… oh no… oh no no no no no…”
Twilight responded, “What, what is it Spike?”
“I mean, he’s such a sweetheart,” Sweetie Belle exclaimed, forelegs straightened out, face flushed red, and eyes twinkling.
“Really!?” Scootaloo said, almost in disbelief. “You and Spike!?”
“Mmmmhmmm,” she said with a nod.
“…she knows…” the dragon replied.
“What!?” Apple Bloom exclaimed. “She knows what!?”
“…so I guess things didn’t work out between him and Rarity.”
Sweetie Belle’s smile froze, her eyes grew scared. “What?”
“She knows about me and Rarity!”
“They didn’t tell you?” Scootaloo asked. “He asked her out on a date, just before I left.”
Sweetie Belle was frozen in shock. “What?”
“She was there when I asked her out!” He was frozen in fear. “And they’re gonna catch up and she’s gonna tell her and…”
The gears started to spin in Sweetie Belle’s head. Her smile faded very slowly.
“It was probably only one date,” Scootaloo explained. “I don’t think it’s anything to worry about.”
Apple Bloom acted quickly. “Pinkie-I’m-takin’-da-rest-a-da-day-off-I’m-really-sick-family-emergency-come-on-Spike!” She tossed the dragon onto her back and ran out the door.
The unicorn was frozen.
“Oh, come on, I’m supposed to be better at this.”
Twilight and Pinkie looked at each other, slightly dumbfounded.
“So, how much do I owe you?” Twilight asked sheepishly.
Apple Bloom ran as fast as her little legs could carry her. She turned to the dragon, who was holding on for dear life behind her.
“So she was there!?” the earth pony asked.
“Yeah,” Spike replied. “In fact it was her idea!”
“She told me to grab it by the horns! So I did!”
They continued in silence for a few seconds.
“Thanks!” Spike screamed.
“Don’t thank me, because you’re gonna tell her!”
“Scootaloo can’t tell her because you’re gonna!” she yelled back. “Today!”
Spike paused for a second, before nodding in comprehension.
Thankfully, Apple Bloom was a very fast runner. The clubhouse was in sight. Apple Bloom skidded to a stop once they were in range, throwing Spike off her back, and onto the ramp.
He landed very roughly. But quickly got to his feet, and ran the rest of the way.
Entering the clubhouse, he saw Sweetie Belle sitting, frozen, as Scootaloo waved a hoof in front of her face.
He put on the most convincing smile he could manage, and said, “Hey, Sweetie Belle… you alright?”
Her eyes drifted toward her boyfriend… but she remained frozen.
“Hey, Spike,” Scootaloo said, trotting toward the dragon. “What’s going on? I mention that time you asked Rarity out, and then this happened.”
They both looked at the unicorn.
“I guess things didn’t work out?” she continued. “So what happened? Is everything alright?”
Sweetie Belle got to her feet. “S…Spike?” she asked. “Di…di…”
Spike looked at his love, took a deep breath, and swallowed hard before continuing. “Sweetie Belle, I do love you, and I never lied to you.” He explained shakily. “And… I just… I…” tears started to roll down his face.
The final gear rolled into place, and all the confusion and fear in Sweetie Belle’s mind was quickly replaced by one emotion: anger. Her rage built and built as her horn glowed brighter and brighter.
“Sweetie Belle!” he said.
The brightness increased.
“RHAAAAAAA-!!!” she screamed in rage as she disappeared in a burst of white light.
Apple Bloom stepped inside the room, covered in dirt and a few scrapes. “What just happened!?” she asked in confusion.
“She… she jumped-she… she just…”
Spike fell to his knees as the tears continued to flow. Falling onto his claws he continued to sob in grief.
“Okay, what just happened!?” Scootaloo asked, spreading her forelegs. “What’s going on!?”
“We’ll explain on the way.” Apple Bloom said. She trotted up to the young dragon. “GET UP!” She screamed. “It’s not gonna end like this so get up!!!”
He turned to look at her, and saw what was once anger and disappointment was replaced by something else. While Apple Bloom obviously wanted it to look like anger, it wasn’t. It was sorrow, and sympathy.
He wiped the tears away, and got to his feet. “Let’s go,” he said.