1Dragon Your Hooves
"Aw, c'mon Twilight! Can't I have just a little bit of time to myself?"
Spike kicked at a stray bottle in Twilight's lab, annoyed. He had been working all day, organizing the purple unicorn's various potions, powders, and scrolls. He wasn't alone; she spent most of the day at it as well. It was tiring, tedious work, though.
"We only have a little more to take care of, Spike," Twilight said in a motherly tone. "We should be done within the next hour." She sighed as she moved a stack of vials aside to allow room for a different group of vials. Spike was a good dragon, if a tiny bit lazy. She did feel a little bad for working him all day, but he was a young dragon, and it was important for him to learn the importance of hard work.
"But my bedtime's in an hour!" Spike moaned.
"Spike, I'll hear no more of this complaining," Twilight said, a bit sternly. "I appreciate the work you've done very much, but we can't leave a job unfinished. We've got work to do tomorrow as well, but I'll let you sleep in a bit if you just help me finish this now, OK?"
"Ugh...fine," Spike said, admitting to himself that getting some extra sleep was worth it.
"Good," Twilight said, smiling. "Now do me a favor and move these flasks over there. And make sure to be careful!" Twilight floated a handful of flasks over to Spike, and he took them in his arms.
"Of course!" Spike said confidently. "Careful is my middle name!" The stack was a bit tall, and the tiniest bit unsteady, but Spike wanted to get this job done fast, and despite what he'd said, he had no interest in taking it slowly and carefully. A few hasty steps, and Spike found himself nearly falling over. Luckily, Twilight's magic steadied him and the stack of flasks just in time. Spike shot a sheepish look to Twilight, who raised an eyebrow at him.
"Um...it's not my legal name..." Spike said, offering a weak smile.
My Little Pony, My Little Pony
(My Little Pony)
I used to wonder what friendship could be
(My Little Pony)
Until you all shared its magic with me
Tons of fun
A beautiful heart
Faithful and strong
It's an easy feat
And magic makes it all complete
You have My Little Pony
Do you know you are my very best friends
"Phew!" Spike exclaimed, exhausted. "We're finally done!" The baby dragon ached all over from the hard work, but it was more than likely psychological, as moving things from one place to another wasn't anything he wasn't used to doing. "Can I go to bed now?" Twilight smiled warmly.
"Alright, Spike," she said. "You can go to bed." Spike didn't need to hear any more. He made a mad dash towards the laboratory door.
"WAIT!" Twilight yelled, stopping him in his tracks.
"Aww, what is it now?" Spike said, dragging his feet as he walked back down the stairs. He looked up to see one more flask floating towards him.
"We forgot this one," Twilight said as Spike reached out to take the flask. "Just put this over on the middle shelf of the flask section and we're good to go."
"I'm on it!" Spike exclaimed. He rushed towards the shelf, wanting to get it done as fast as possible so he could get to bed.
"Spike, you're going to break something!" Twilight shouted as he neared the shelf at a rapid pace.
"Oh, calm down, Twilight!" Spike said as he skidded to a halt just before reaching the shelf. "I'm not gonna break anything!" Spike looked at Twilight and gave her a sly grin, knowing that she expected him to crash into the shelf. In doing so, however, he failed to notice that he wasn't quite as close to the shelf as he thought. He released the flask, expecting it to rest on the shelf, and was shocked when it burst open at his feet, covering him with an unidentified powder.
"SPIKE!" Twilight shouted as the baby dragon coughed, sneezed, and generally freaked out.
"Oh no oh no oh no!" Spike cried, shaking to try and get the powder off. "What was that stuff? What's gonna happen to me?"
"Calm down, Spike," Twilight said, floating a towel over to him. "You're lucky that the powder you just spilled only effects pony physiology. Now, get to bed before I decide to revoke your sleeping-in rights for tomorrow."
"But...are you sure I'll be OK?" Spike asked, toweling off the last of the powder. "I think I feel kinda funny..."
"Are you a pony, Spike?" Twilight asked, glaring at him.
"No..." he responded.
"Then you'll be fine," Twilight answered flatly. "Now get to bed. I'll meet you upstairs...after I finish making another batch of that powder." The baby dragon trudged up the steps, under Twilight's disdainful eye. He continued to worry as he climbed into bed, and was sure that something felt weird, even though he couldn't place his finger on exactly what it was. However, Twilight did know her stuff, and if she said it would only affect ponies, then that had to be the case. It wasn't long before Spike was fast asleep.
The morning sun shone through the window, directly onto Spike's face as he was waking up. He opened his eyes briefly, then squeezed them shut again to keep the offending sunlight away. This was the one bad thing about sleeping in. He hated waking up early with Twilight like he usually had to, but at least the sunlight wasn't so intense that early in the morning. The positives did outweigh the negatives, however, as he'd gotten such a wonderful night's sleep that he'd nearly forgotten about his mishap in the lab last night. Spike yawned, starting to stir from his comfortable position. He touched a single hoof to his face, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. For some reason, even when he got a good night's sleep, he still felt tired for a while after waking up, but it was nothing a good stretch couldn't fix. Spike rolled out of his bed onto his hooves. He stretched, forelegs first, then hind legs, and finally his wings. That felt the best of all. He loved stretching his wings.
Spike reached his hand out in front of him. Only it wasn't a hand anymore. He stared blankly at the purple hoof in front of him for a couple of seconds. He took a few steps forward...very clumsily, as something about walking on two legs felt awkward now. He soon fell forward, landing on his han....hooves. On all fours, he slowly walked towards the nearest mirror. After seeing hooves where his hands used to be, he already expected the sight he saw when he looked in the mirror. However, that didn't stop it from being surprising.
The purple unicorn practically flew up the stairs when she heard Spike shout her name. She had already been up and working, and didn't like to be distracted from her work, but the sense of urgency in his voice was enough to take her away from it. She burst through the door to her room to see what the problem was.
"Spike, what's.....WHAAAAAAAAA?" It wasn't physically possible for Twilight's jaw to hit the ground and still remain connected, but it sure was making a fine effort to do so. In front of Twilight stood a purple colt with a green mane. She knew instantly that it was Spike.
"FIX IT FIX IT FIX IT FIX IT FIX IT!!!" Spike cried, stomping his front hooves on the ground until his lack of competence with his new body caused him to slip and fall on his face.
"Calm down, calm down! I can fix this!" Twilight said in a panic. "I just gotta..." She paused. In all her studies, she had never come across something like this. She'd read of ponies being turned into dragons, ponies being turned into other ponies, and on one very personal occasion, ponies being turned into plants. Never before had she read of a dragon becoming a pony.
"Hurry, Twilight!" Spike shouted. "I can't take any more of this! I don't wanna be a pony!!" Twilight paused, then she glared at Spike.
"And WHAT, exactly, is wrong with being a pony?" the purple unicorn asked. Spike gulped.
"Uh...well..." he stammered.
"I happen to think you look cute as a little foal!" Twilight said, a smirk crossing her face. "And I have half a mind to leave you like that if you're going to have that kind of attitude!"
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Spike said, his new pony ears folding down. "There's nothing wrong with being a pony! Now please find a way to change me back!" Twilight couldn't help but chuckle a bit. She loved Spike, but he was so easy to manipulate sometimes.
"OK, Spike," Twilight said. "I'm going to go check out my books and see if I can figure out how to change you back. You stay here and try not to get into any trouble, OK?" Spike nodded vigorously. The purple unicorn turned to exit the room, but looked back with a grin before she left.
"Oh, and are you feeling sick?" Twilight asked.
"Uh...no..." Spike said.
"Oh, I thought you were," she said, barely containing a laugh. "Because...you look like a small horse!" Spike stared at her, confused.
"It's a joke!" Twilight said, nearly falling over with laughter.
"Did you mean, 'You look a little hoarse?' " Spike said.
"Oh...yes, that's it," Twilight said. "I don't usually do jokes." Twilight trotted out of the room, still smiling, as Spike rolled his eyes.
Dragon Your Hooves
Spike paced back and forth, waiting impatiently for Twilight to come up with a cure for his...condition. The pacing was going surprisingly well; every step was met with difficulty at first, but he had gradually gotten more used to this new body. After a bit of confident pacing, he decided to try a bit of a run. There were a few trip-ups, as was to be expected, but after a little while, he was galloping with relative ease. As he galloped, he felt his wing brush against a nearby lamp. He had completely forgotten that he had become a pegasus. His tests with flying were far less successful than his walking and running attempts, but he was eventually able to get himself to hover a tiny bit off the ground. It was all that his little wings would allow, but he was satisfied with it.
Suddenly, Spike had a thought. He had never really fully examined himself in the mirror earlier. What was his cutie mark? Surely it would be something awesome, since he was a dragon...well, usually...of many talents. He was a great writer, so maybe he'd get a quill...or a microphone, for his announcing talent...or maybe a burly bicep, to represent how buff and manly he was! Spike bolted towards the mirror and turned to check out his flank...and saw no cutie mark. Spike sighed. He had never really understood why Apple Bloom was so bent up about not having her cutie mark before, but the disappointment at seeing a distinct lack of cutie mark on his own flank, even though he wasn't naturally a pony, was a bit of a shot in the arm.
Spike looked up at the clock on the wall. He had been waiting for so long, and was more than a bit restless. He didn't like being cooped up in his room for all this time without being asleep, and he was feeling too energetic to nap while waiting. He decided that despite being stuck in this body, he was going to go out and do something to break the monotony. The purple pegasus trotted up to the door and went to grab the doorknob...and soon discovered that a lack of fingers made doorknobs a formidable foe. Spike spent a good five minutes trying and trying before he was finally able to get the knob to turn. He took a single step out of his room.
"SPIKE!" Twilight's voice yelled from downstairs. "Don't even think of going anywhere like that!" Spike groaned and returned to his room, shutting the door again. He just couldn't stay in this room any longer. The purple pegasus looked around the room for some way of escape, when his eyes came to rest on the bedsheets. It took quite a bit of effort, but he manged to get the sheets tied together, and anchored them to the foot of Twilight's bed. The other end went out the window, and his escape was a success.
Spike delighted in the feeling of the grass beneath his hooves. He trotted in circles, feeling the breeze pass through his mane as he did so. He had no intentions of staying in this form, but for the time being, it wasn't so bad. His trotting turned into running, and then he decided he was ready to attempt flying again. This time went even better than the last attempt. He started off hovering, but after a bit, he was able to raise himself higher into the air and even do a small flip. Spike was immensely proud of himself as he touched down again. Suddenly, he heard a voice behind him.
"Wow, that was so cool!" a young female voice called out. Spike turned around to see three young fillies staring at him. He recognized one of them as Applejack's little sister, Apple Bloom. He'd seen her around a few times, but he didn't immediately recognize the two others with her.
"You must be new around here!" Apple Bloom said. "I've never seen you before!" Her eyes tracked from Spike to the train of bedsheets coming out of Twilight's window. "Oh, do you know Twilight Sparkle?" Spike was about to tell them about what happened to him, but the true story of what happened made him sound like a major klutz, and he didn't want that.
"Uh...I'm Twilight's little cousin!" Spike said hurriedly. "And I'm visiting from out of town!" He surprised himself; he'd meant to make up a different story about how he became a pony, but what was said was said, and he had to stick to it now.
"Apple Bloom, look!!" the white unicorn filly standing next to her said, pointing at Spike. "He doesn't have HIS cutie mark either!"
"We should let him join our club!" the orange pegasus on the other side of Apple Bloom said as the white one nodded.
"Well yeah, he can hang out with us if he wants!" Apple Bloom said, smiling. She then took a step towards Spike and extended a hoof. "How would you like to join the Cutie Mark Crusaders on their quest to find their cutie marks?" Spike considered this for a moment, then decided that it was something to do, and shook her hoof.
"The name's Apple Bloom!" the little yellow earth pony said, smiling.
"I'm Scootaloo!" shouted the orange pegasus.
"And I'm Sweetie Belle!" the white unicorn said. "What's your name?"
"I'm Sp-" Spike started, then caught himself. He couldn't go around saying his name was Spike, or they'd surely figure out what was going on.
"...Spark!" he finished. "Sparkstar...is my name." He smiled, impressed with himself for coming up with a name so quickly.
"Well it's awful nice to meet you, Sparkstar!" Apple Bloom said. She then looked quickly at her flank. "Aww, no politeness cutie mark? Come on!" The others inspected their flanks as well, and were met with equal disappointment.
"So what do you girls usually do?" Spike asked.
"C'mon, girls!" Apple Bloom said excitedly. "Let's show Sparkstar how the Cutie Mark Crusaders get things done!"
"CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS, GO!" the three of them shouted.
"Uhh...Cutie Mark Crusaders, go!" Spike echoed, a little late. The three girls dashed off, as he followed close behind. These three seemed like they knew how to have fun.
Twilight Sparkle smiled as she finished the final touch on her antidote. This had been a much quicker process than her attempt at finding a counter to that love spell she'd accidentally cast on Rarity a while back, probably because she knew exactly what the powder that had caused the transformation was. It was a bit strange that the powder had caused a pony transformation; she hadn't expected that result at all. Luckily, the horrible rash that was the powder's intended effect on ponies didn't seem to be showing up at all on Spike. Regardless, the concoction she had come up with was an exact opposite of the powder, guaranteed to erase any and all effects created by it. Twilight nodded her head confidently at a job well done. Now all she had to do was administer the concoction to Spike, and everything would be back to normal.
"Spike!" Twilight called as she trotted up the stairs. "Spiiiiiike!" The lack of reaction didn't concern Twilight at first. She figured that the poor little guy, worn out from this ordeal, had fallen back asleep while waiting. She smiled, thinking of him tucked in bed. He really was adorable as a little foal, something she was going to be sure to lord playfully over him before she changed him back since she knew how bothered it would make him.
"Spi..." Twilight started as she opened the door. He was not in his bed. In fact, nothing was in his bed. Not even the sheets, because they were tied to the foot of the bed and leading out the window. Her eyes narrowed, and her smile turned into a frown. She then trotted back downstairs and exited her house. Spike was going to be in a LOT of trouble when she found him.
Spike had begun to slightly reconsider things as he followed the Cutie Mark Crusaders. He had been happy to join them at first, wanting something fun to do. The more he thought about it, though, the more he worried. These were three young fillies he was following around. He was likely to get stuck doing something silly and girly, and that was not at all what he wanted. He was a bit lazy sometimes, but at times like this where he wanted to be out having fun, he was more of the type to go adventuring or do something physical. Girly activities did not suit him; they were totally out of the question. As the fillies came to a halt, he looked around and realized that they were in a field of flowers. His mind raced, filling with the thoughts of possible activities that he wanted no part of; flower picking...well, that was all he could come up with, really. It still didn't appeal to him.
"Are you ready, Sparkstar?" Scootaloo asked, breaking him out of his train of thought.
"Uh...yeah..." he said. "What are we doing, anyway?" He dreaded the answer. Suddenly, a football thwacked him right in the side of the face.
"CUTIE MARK CRUSADER FOOTBALL PLAYERS!" Apple Bloom shouted, and tackled Spike to the ground. Spike was shocked; he couldn't say he expected this. He laughed as he got up and dusted himself off. Maybe this would be more fun than he was expecting. He scooped the football up in his forehooves and tossed it towards Sweetie Belle. She tried to catch it, but missed and fell down. He felt a bit bad for a moment, but it was all in good fun.
The football experiment ended up being a failure, with none of the four gaining their cutie marks from it. Their next attempt, at Scootaloo's request, was a karate display, and it went no better. This theme continued for the next two or so hours. Every single thing they tried was met with failure and a lack of cutie marks. Still, Spike was enjoying every second of it. Races, sports (of the regular and extreme varieties)...none of it was what he expected from the three fillies, and every bit of it was a blast. This was more fun than he'd had in ages.
It was around the time that a Cutie Mark Crusaders mixed martial arts tournament was organized that Spike noticed Sweetie Belle sitting around, looking generally unhappy. He hadn't realized it until just then, but now that he thought about it, she hadn't really been too into any of the activities they'd been taking part in. Apple Bloom and Scootaloo were all gung-ho about everything they'd been doing, but for the most part, Sweetie either participated to a lower extent or, in the last few activities, barely even participated at all. She looked particularly sad right now, and Spike felt compelled to go talk to her. While Apple Bloom and Scootaloo were busy practicing armbars on each other, Spike sidled up to Sweetie.
"Is everything OK, Sweetie Belle?" Spike asked. "You seem kind of...upset." Sweetie looked up at Spike and put on an obviously-fake smile.
"I'm fine!" Sweetie responded, trying to sound happy. "I'm having a great time...playing sports...and running races...and doing other physical things that I'M NO GOOD AT..." Sweetie's fake smile quickly faded into a frown, and she buried her face in her hooves. She wasn't crying, but she seemed like she was about to at any moment.
"Aw, come on," Spike said. "You weren't so bad..." Now that he remembered it better, she WAS kind of bad in most of their activities, but he didn't want to tell her that when she was this upset.
"Yes I was!" Sweetie said. "Did you see when I dropped the football? Or when I tripped three times during that one race? I'm so bad at these things, and they're all Apple Bloom and Scootaloo ever want to do!" Seeing Sweetie so upset was starting to make Spike feel bad. He was enjoying the physical activities so much...he wasn't paying attention to the fact that Sweetie wasn't having a good time either.
"You should probably let them know that you don't want to do the things they always want to do," Spike told her, trying his best to help.
"I've tried!" Sweetie moaned. "But they never want to do the things I want to do, and it's two to one, so we never get to do them!"
"Well, what kinds of things do you want to do?" Spike asked. Sweetie looked back up at Spike in amazement. He guessed to himself that she wasn't asked that question very often.
"Well..." Sweetie said, "I kinda wanted to have a tea party...and I thought maybe we could try modeling some clothes or something..." Spike began to zone out. This was exactly what he'd been fearing. He had absolutely zero interest in any of the things Sweetie was suggesting. His train of thought was interrupted when he noticed that Sweetie had stopped talking and was looking at him expectantly. She looked so excited that someone had taken an interest in what she wanted to do...and he did feel bad that the others never wanted to indulge her...
"...Well, if Apple Bloom and Scootaloo are too busy to do what you want to do, then how about I do those things with you?" Spike instantly regretted saying this, but the look of absolute joy on Sweetie's face made him feel better. He felt Sweetie suddenly grab his hoof and drag him over to where Apple Bloom and Scootaloo were training.
"Hey girls Sparkstar and I are gonna split off and try some activities together OK see you girls later!" Sweetie bubbled excitedly. Before Apple Bloom or Scootaloo could say a word, Sweetie had dashed off, with Spike trying his hardest to catch up with her.
Spike couldn't believe that he was letting this happen. A day ago, he would have never seen himself in this situation, and it wasn't just because he wouldn't have expected to be a pony. Yet here he was, sitting still while Sweetie Belle applied a copious amount of blush to his cheeks. He had been tolerating this kind of thing for the last hour or so. First it was a tea party. Then mane styling...modeling...and now makeovers. Spike hated every last second of it...yet he didn't dare tell Sweetie that. He knew how painful it was for one to be left behind by their friends. Twilight and the gang didn't do it to him too much, but there were definitely times where he felt more than a little bit left out. Seeing how happy his participation in these activities made Sweetie was worth the girly torture. It was weird...he hadn't even known Sweetie this morning, and here he was, going out of his way to make her happy.
"There!" Sweetie said proudly. "You look..." She trailed off, before breaking into laughter. "Oh gosh, Sparkstar, I'm sorry but you look so funny!" She pulled a mirror over, and at the sight of himself, Spike joined her in laughing. He did look pretty ridiculous.
"Well, I guess we're not getting a makeover cutie mark," Sweetie said as she helped Spike wash the makeup off of his face.
"I'm OK with that," Spike said. "I dunno if I'd really want a lipstick cutie mark!" The two laughed again. After the laughter subsided, Sweetie Belle looked Spike in the eyes. He was surprised by the sudden eye contact, but didn't break it.
"Sparkstar, thank you so much for today," Sweetie said, a bit of a tear forming in her eye. "I love Apple Bloom and Scootaloo, but they never want to do girly stuff. You're a boy and you're still letting me dress you up and put makeup on you, and I think it's really nice that you'd do all that to make me happy, even though I can tell you really don't like it."
"Aw, that's not true, Sweetie!" Spike said. "I do like it!" The white unicorn raised an eyebrow at him, and he smirked. "OK, so I don't like it...but it's OK, I guess, because you're having a good time." Spike smiled, then looked down to notice that he was holding Sweetie's hoof. She noticed at the same time, and the two quickly pulled their hooves away, blushing.
"Sorry..." they both said at the same time, avoiding eye contact. A moment of silence passed, before Spike looked back up at Sweetie.
"...Um...Sweetie..." Spike started. "Is it OK if I..." Before he could finish his sentence, the white filly was already holding his hoof again. Spike smiled contently. The other stuff he and Sweetie had been doing was boring and annoying, but this sure wasn't.
"THERE you are!" Twilight's voice suddenly boomed. Spike and Sweetie's heads whipped over to see the purple unicorn walking towards them.
"Twilight!" Spike exclaimed.
"I've been looking all over for you, Sp..." Twilight started.
"I KNOW!!" Spike quickly interrupted. "My dear cousin Twilight Sparkle! I'm sorry I, your loving cousin SPARKSTAR, ran off without telling you!" Spike winked at Twilight, and she gave him a confused look. Her eyes darted down to see him holding Sweetie's hoof, and her look of anger changed to one of understanding.
"...Yes!" Twilight said. "You...should be sorry, Sparkster!"
"Sparkstar!" Spike quickly corrected her.
"Of course!" Twilight said hurriedly. "Don't you just love that game we play where we pretend to forget each other's names?"
"Best game EVER, Midnight!" Spike responded. He gave Twilight a "thank you so so so so much" look, and she nodded.
"Well, SPARKSTAR, we should be getting back to my house," Twilight said. "I figured something out that might interest you, and I need to show it to you before you head back to Canterlot. So say goodbye to Sweetie Belle, OK?" Spike, realizing what she meant, smiled from ear to ear. He let go of Sweetie's hoof and stood up.
"It was nice meeting you, Sweetie Belle!" Spike said, giving her a gentlemanly bow. "Tell Apple Bloom and Scootaloo I said goodbye, OK?" Sweetie nodded, smiling.
"It was nice meeting you too, Sparkstar!" the little white unicorn said. "And thanks again for today! I hope you come back and visit real soon!" Just as Spike was about to leave, he was surprised as Sweetie gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. Spike's wings flared out and his face turned beet red as Sweetie ran off, giggling.
"So did you have a good day, Romeo?" Twilight said, her smile a mix of genuine happiness and playful mocking. "Your girlfriend seems to like you quite a bit."
"G-girlfriend?!" Spike stuttered, turning red again. "Sh..she's..." Twilight put a hoof over his mouth.
"Suuuuure she isn't," the purple unicorn laughed. "Now let's get you changed back, OK?" Twilight levitated a flask of powder over and sprinkled its contents onto Spike. He felt a bizarre warm feeling as it covered him. He was then enveloped in a white glow, and when it faded away, he looked down at himself to see that he was once again a dragon.
"YES!!!" Spike exclaimed, admiring the return of his dragon body. "Thank you thank you thank you, Twilight!!"
"Of course, Spike," Twilight said, laughing. "I couldn't just leave you like that!" The purple unicorn's eyes suddenly went wide. "Oh no! I just realized that I haven't written a letter to Princess Celestia! And I can't think of a single thing I've learned about friendship today!"
"I've got this one covered, Twilight," Spike said, picking up a scroll and quill.
"Dear Princess Celestia. This is Spike! Today, I learned a valuable lesson about friendship. I learned that if you spend too much time concentrating on the way you like to live your life, you might find that you're not focusing enough on the things that are important to those close to you. I also learned that sometimes, if you really want to understand where your friends are coming from, sometimes it's important to try and walk a mile in their horseshoes." Twilight chuckled and patted him on the head.
"That's very astute of you, Spike," she said, smiling. "Now you should get some more rest."
"You mean I can have the rest of the day off?" Spike asked excitedly.
"I think you've had enough of an adventure today to warrant a rest," Twilight answered. "And then tomorrow, you can go tell Sweetie Belle the truth about who Sparkstar is."
"What?" Spike cried. "I don't know if I'm ready for that..."
"Oh, come on, Spike," Twilight said. "Ooh, and I can't wait to tell Rarity!"
"WHAT?!" Spike shouted. "You...you can't tell Rarity!"
"Oh, she's bound to find out anyway," Twilight said, laughing. "Do you think her sister wouldn't tell her about the pony she kissed today?" Spike turned stark white.
"...SWEETIE IS RARITY'S SISTER?!"
Spike promptly fainted. Twilight laughed and floated him into his bed.
"Get some rest, Sparkstar."
It was precisely 8:23 AM. Hardly a time for baby dragons to be awake, especially on a Sunday morning. Of course, had he been permitted to choose his own wakeup time today, Spike very well might have spent the entire day in bed, and there wasn't a snowball's chance in Tartarus that Twilight would have allowed that. Luckily for the baby dragon, Twilight's opinion of his daily schedule wouldn't be an issue for the next few days. Perhaps one early Sunday wakeup wasn't so bad with that fact kept in mind. The fatigue from his interrupted sleep would fade in the next few hours; such a period of time was nothing compared to all the free time coming to him.
"Spike! Spiiiiiiike!" came the call from downstairs. Twilight was already awake. Of course Twilight was already awake; with a scheduled departure time of 8:28 AM, she'd likely been awake for at least three or four hours. Spike grumbled as he rolled out of bed, just barely awake enough to keep from faceplanting.
"C'mon, Spike!" Twilight sang from downstairs. "It's almost time to go!" The unicorn's voice was impossibly cheery for this time of morning. Spike reflected on this, wondering if, perhaps, it had something to do with that gross brown stuff he'd often see left over in a pot in the kitchen each morning, with the peculiar smell that would often match up with the scent of her breath as she'd inform him of the day's activities. Surely it had to be one of the most powerful potions she was capable of brewing, if it granted the logic-defying ability to be perky at 8:26 AM.
"Spiiiiike! It's 8:26 AM!" Twilight shouted, urgency beginning to peek its head through her cheery demeanor. Spike summoned all the energy his tired little body would muster and made his way downstairs, nearly tripping over the giant bag of books that would be his burden as he accompanied Twilight to the train station. For one truncated moment, he wondered why one pony would need this many books for a three-day trip. After admitting to himself that this was Twilight he was dealing with, he found himself surprised that there was only one bag. Showing off his amazing dragon strength, Spike grabbed the bag by the ends and hoisted it over his shoulder, promptly toppling over.
"Spike, we have no time for games!" Twilight said, her tone dripping with impatience. "The library is precisely 5 minutes and 37 seconds from the train station, so if we don't leave right now, blah blah blah..." Spike quickly tuned out. He was nowhere near awake enough for a lecture. The baby dragon rose to his feet, dusted himself off, and lifted the bag in a far less showy way, letting the weight settle handily over his shoulder.
"Are you even listening, Spike?" Twilight asked, starting to get irritated.
"Of course!" Spike lied.
"Then what did I say?" Twilight shot back, an eyebrow raised. Spike blinked, unsure.
"Uh...blah blah blah?" Spike offered, a weak smile crossing his face.
"Very good, Spike," came Twilight's response as she returned to her cheery disposition. "I just wanted to see if you were listening. Now let's go!" Twilight led the way, the encumbered baby dragon following close behind.
"Now Spike," Twilight said, the train looming into view. "You remember everything I told you, right?" Spike rolled his eyes. She'd only gone over it about 20 times last night, and that wasn't even taking into consideration the myriad times she'd gone over it prior. He took a breath and went over the list he'd heard so many times.
"Make sure to put any books I use back in their place on the shelf. If a pony takes out a book, take their information down and put it in the files. Feed Owloysius twice a day and leave the window open for him at night, and DO NOT GO INTO YOUR LAB." He made sure to put the emphasis exactly where Twilight had; her specificity likely stretched beyond the actual words and to their presentation. The unicorn could sense her protege's frustration and gave him a warm, sympathetic smile.
"I'm sorry, Spike," Twilight said. "I'm just worried, is all. It's not every day that the Princesses call me to the palace for an extended stay, and I just want to make sure everything at home is going to be just fine." She reached a hoof over and gave her protege's head a playful rub. "I know I can trust you." Spike puffed with pride, returning her smile. Twilight could be a bit frustrating at times, with her obsessive need for order and her insistence on making sure there wasn't even a slight chance of anything going wrong. It was these qualities, however, that made her approval and vote of confidence mean that much more.
"There's the train!" Twilight exclaimed, overflowing with anticipation. "Now you behave while I'm gone, alright? And who knows? There just might be a few bonus gems in it for you if everything goes well!" Those were the words Spike wanted to hear. Twilight offered a hoof, and he stepped closer, wrapping his arms around her for a goodbye hug.
"And good luck with whatever the Princesses need you for!" Spike replied. The unicorn smiled and gave him a little nuzzle before releasing. Spike gave her a wave as she stepped onto the train, running back on the platform to watch her from the window of the seat she chose. The train eventually lurched forward, and the dragon, despite his fatigue, ran along with the train until he couldn't keep up anymore. Twilight returned his waving as long as she could see him, although they continued long after, until the train was but a speck on the horizon.
"Wow," Spike said, to nopony in particular. "An entire three days with the whole library to myself!" He could barely contain his excitement, bouncing on his toes. "I'm gonna make the most of this! I've got so many things I've always wanted to do, but haven't had the chance!" With that, he began his trip back to the library, determined to make the most of his newfound free time.
It was 9:04 AM, and Spike had already nearly run out of things to do. The youngster was positively baffled; he knew there were a lot of things that he'd always thought about doing while Twilight was home, but had no time to do because she always had one job or another for him to take care of. Why was it, then, that when he finally had time to do those things, he couldn't for the life of him remember what they were? There he sat, on a chair in the library, dangling his feet off the side. Boring. This was fun earlier, when he'd checked "feet dangling" off of the short list of things he'd been able to come up with, but by this point, it was old hat. There was no way he could possibly spend an entire three days like this. He'd surely go mad from boredom first, and then Twilight would come home and see that he'd gone mad, and she'd get all worried. They'd have to call a psychiatrist in, and he would be diagnosed with "severe boredom disorder." The prognosis would be bleak; no fun idea that Twilight or anypony else came up with would be able to knock him out of a madness so intense. He would surely have to live out the rest of his life as a dull, non-responsive lump, never again capable of experiencing the joy of fun.
Spike looked at his list and checked off "daydreaming." NOW his list was complete...and it was only 9:06! The dragon sighed as he slid off of the chair and headed towards the window.
"Here lies Spike," he said, taking on a melodramatic tone. "Taken before his time. A victim of acute bored-itis." Spending so much time around Rarity did wonders for the young dragon's ability to wax dramatic. He gazed out the window, watching the other ponies pass by. Lyra and Bon-Bon were trotting together, as they always did, headed towards the town square. He considered joining them, but he didn't really know them all that well, and given that they were together, it was likely that they weren't looking for more company. Along trotted June Bug, her baskets filled with flowers. It only took a moment for Spike to pass on the idea of joining her. She'd been a little awkward around him ever since the birthday incident, and it wasn't very likely that anything would come of him accompanying her.
It was then that Spike noticed three familiar young fillies playing a short distance away from the library. He watched Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and especially Sweetie Belle as they laughed and played together. Bloom and Sweetie had cotton balls pasted all over them, and they were running from Scootaloo, who was pursuing them in what could only be described as a large paper mask making an honest attempt at trying to resemble a wolf's face. Surely this was yet another attempt by the three to get their cutie marks, although Spike, for the life of him, couldn't figure out how such an activity could possibly be a special talent. It sure did look fun, though. A smile crossed Spike's lips as he watched them, remembering the fun times he'd had with the three about a week ago. He never had gone to tell Rarity the truth about the incident that day. Actually, that was a lie; he HAD gone to tell her, but he'd chickened out at the last moment due to Sweetie suddenly entering the room. He supposed he could just tell her another time. After all, it wasn't like Sparkstar was coming back.
Spike's eyes lit up. He quickly turned from the window, excited over his sudden idea. There was no chance that he'd remain bored now, not with this gem of an idea. The word "gem" made him stop in his tracks, though. Twilight had implied that she'd have some gems for him when she came home, but with the condition that everything went well. This meant him following her rules to a T, and blatantly breaking the fourth and most-accentuated rule was certainly not following her rules to a T. He let out a small sigh. It had been such a good idea, too. He looked back out the window, watching the fillies play. Scootawolf had just pounced on Sheepie Belle and was trying to pretend to gobble her up, but Baa-pple Bloom was now arguing this, insisting that there was no way SHE could get her cutie mark in being prey if Scootaloo was only preying on Sweetie. Spike watched and smiled as the three entered a tussle cloud. Twilight would probably never notice two little bottles missing from her lab.
Oh, who was he kidding? Of course she'd notice. She noticed EVERYTHING. But hay, he had three days to come up with a good excuse. The baby dragon ran towards the basement, excitement practically leaking from his pores. Even his excitement, however, was not enough to keep him from hesitating as his claw reached for the laboratory doorknob. He felt a twang of guilt in the pit of his stomach; he wanted so badly to go out and have fun, and being Sparkstar again would be a ton of fun, but Twilight trusted him. Twilight's trust was something worth having, and he wasn't quite sure if he was ready to lose it. His longest finger danced around the circumference of the doorknob as he considered his options. Twilight was a very forgiving pony when it came to those whom she cared for. He could probably get away with this one indiscretion if he apologized profusely. Whether or not it was worth Twilight's disappointment, though, no matter how brief it was, remained to be answered. Spike's fingers kept playing with the doorknob as he pondered, and continued to do so until, to his surprise, the doorknob clattered to the floor. Twilight was usually on top of things in the library that needed to be repaired, but apparently there had been a bit of an oversight. Spike reached down to pick the broken doorknob up, but then a devilish grin crossed his face. With a quick motion, he tapped the doorknob with his foot, allowing physics to do the rest as it rolled into the lab. Surely he couldn't be faulted for going into the lab if it was necessary to retrieve the broken hardware, right? An excuse would still be needed for the missing concoctions, but that could be taken care of in time. The main moral issue at hand had been solved, albeit in a less-than-honest manner. It was honest enough for the baby dragon, though, as he entered the forbidden lab.
Spike browsed the shelves as he walked through the laboratory. He wished his memory was better as he tried desperately to find the powder that had led to his transformation. He'd been in the lab a number of times, all of those accompanying Twilight, but never before did it look as large and imposing as it did this time. Spike took a deep breath, preparing for a long, tedious search. Hopefully he'd be able to find it before the fillies outside got too far away. Of course, considering the magnitude of this search, his greater concern was if he'd still be searching when Twilight came home in three days. It felt like a very real source of disquiet as the young dragon's eyes scanned each of the many shelves that stood in front of him, leading to him being overjoyed when, after only 10 minutes of investigation, he found a number of vials of the powder on a shelf that looked like it had been around since the time of Discord's original reign. Further investigation revealed a vial of the antidote right next to it. Success! Spike's hand was trembling as he reached for the transformation powder, and he could hardly contain himself as he opened the vial and poured the powder all over himself. Spike stood there, waiting for the transformation to take effect. After a minute or two, though, his impatience began to show through.
"Why am I not a pony yet?" Spike grunted, his foot tapping anxiously on the stone floor. It took him a moment to remember that the previous transformation had taken place overnight. He supposed he could wait for the transformation to occur, but his need to be entertained wouldn't allow it. He eyed the other vials on the shelf. Maybe another dose would speed the process up? Explaining three missing vials would be harder than two, but just thinking of the fillies having fun and of the chance to spend time with Sweetie again was enough to sway him. Maybe he'd get to hold her hoof again...maybe she'd give him another kiss...
Spike shook his head out. This was no time to sit and daydream. After all, he'd already checked that off the list. His claw reached out for a second vial, and he dumped its contents all over himself as well. It took a moment, but he soon felt an odd tingling sensation all over his scales. A white light illuminated the dank basement lab, and he cringed as he felt his body changing, one of the most bizarre feelings he'd ever experienced. Some parts of his body stretched out; others vanished completely. After a few moments of discomfort, the light faded, and Spike landed back on the ground on his hooves. He leapt into the air, letting out a joyous yell, before charging up the stairs.
"Yuck! Whose bright idea was this anyway?"
Apple Bloom grumbled as she tried in vain to clean mud off of the cotton balls that had been glued all over her body. She knew it was Sweetie Belle who'd posited the idea to the group, but asking that question just felt like something one would do in a situation like this. To be honest, she herself had approved of the idea, as had Scootaloo, but forethought wasn't exactly a talent of theirs. If it were, they'd probably have their cutie marks in it already, and they had no clue what a cutie mark in forethought would look like, so maybe it was for the best.
"It's gonna take like thirty forevers to get the dirt off!" Sweetie moaned. It wasn't her fault things had gone so disastrously wrong. She'd originally wanted to try and get her cutie mark in roleplay, but then Scootaloo thought being a sheep wasn't...what was the word she used? Awesome-tastic? She wasn't even sure awesome-tastic was a word, but then again, she wasn't a dictionary or anything.
"That's probably the least of your worries!" Scootaloo said, pulling her wolf mask off. "Just think how hard it's gonna be to get the glue off of your coats!" Scootaloo knew she was the smart one of the group. Her wolf mask was just that; a mask. A rubber band held it over her face, and as she'd just displayed, removing that was nice and simple. Also, Bloom and Sweetie had used up all the glue by the time she'd finished making the mask.
"Scootaloo!" Bloom exclaimed. "Ya knew this whole time that the glue was a bad idea, didn't ya?" Scootaloo began to giggle, but then decided that giggling wasn't awesome enough and opted for a snicker instead.
"Putting glue all over your coat when you know you're gonna have to pull it off eventually?" Scootaloo asked. "No way, not silly at all. That was sarcasm, by the way."
"Ah know what sarcasm is!" Bloom shot back. "But you don't seem ta know what warnin' yer friends 'bout a bad idea is! But Ah guess Ah don't either, since Ah didn't tell ya how bad yer wolf idea was! How d'ya get a cutie mark in bein' attacked by a wolf anyway?"
"Hey, it was a great idea!" Scootaloo retorted. "You're just jealous that you didn't come up with it first!"
Sweetie sighed as she watched Bloom and Scootaloo argue. She could understand if it was an argument for the sake of trying to get a cutie mark in arguing, but they'd tried that ages ago and already decided that it was a bad idea. This was a real argument, and she wanted no part of it, because then they'd likely turn on her for having the initial idea of gluing cotton balls to themselves. She had thrown it out there as a silly little idea, not expecting the others to listen, and had been pleasantly surprised when they had. She figured that they'd find it way too silly and girly, but they'd gone with it...well, up until Scootaloo inserted her own idea into the mix that had once again made it into more of a physical competition than she'd have liked. It was times like this that she really wished Sparkstar would come visit again. He'd listen to her ideas and not make her feel silly for them. Plus, holding his hoof felt really nice. She'd been thinking about him a lot since that day, and it would be so nice to hear his voice again.
"Hi Sweetie!" Spike said, trotting up alongside her. "What's going on?"
Sweetie smiled a vacant smile; her memory of him was so strong that she could hear his voice as if he was standing right next to her. She closed her eyes and sighed a happy sigh.
"Oh! Howdy Sparkstar!" Bloom said cheerfully. She and Scootaloo had stopped arguing a moment ago, having come to a compromise that both of them were equally wrong, and since this meant that they were also both equally right, this was the way that they would refer to it. Sweetie, lost in happy thoughts, smiled dreamily.
"Yeah...that would be great if Sparkstar was here..." she mused. Spike raised a brow and looked to Bloom and Scootaloo, who just shrugged. Spike couldn't help but blush as he realized how excited Sweetie was at the idea of seeing him again; he felt much the same way, even though he had been seeing her the whole time in his regular form. He grinned and unfurled a wing, gently poking Sweetie on the back. The white filly leapt about a foot into the air, spinning in Spike's direction. Her look of apprehension quickly transformed into a wide smile.
"Sparkstar!!" Sweetie shouted. Before Spike knew what was happening, the filly had wrapped her forelegs around him in a tight hug. It only took a moment of hesitation before he hugged back. The two enjoyed a nice moment, until they noticed Bloom and Scootaloo staring at them. Both ponies quickly let go and whistled innocently, fooling absolutely nopony.
"Ewwwww," Scootaloo said sticking her tongue out in disgust. "You two are weird."
"Well Ah think it's sweet!" Bloom said.
"You would think that," Scootaloo scoffed. "You and your sister probably hug all the time."
"W-we do not!" Bloom said, suddenly feeling a need to defend herself, even though she and Applejack did hug pretty often.
"You probably hug everypony!" Scootaloo laughed, sensing a weak point. "You're like a hug monster or something! And that's not even a cool kind of monster!"
"Am not!" Bloom retorted. "An' if Ah was, Ah'd prolly get mah cutie mark in it, an' then you'd be all jealous!"
"Who would be jealous of a boring special talent like hugging?" Scootaloo snarked. Sweetie just sighed as she watched her friends start to argue yet again. Her worries were practically forgotten as her eyes met Spike's.
"So Sparkstar, what brings you back to Ponyville so soon?" the white filly asked. Spike blinked, realizing that he hadn't even come up with a story.
"Uhh..." Spike stammered. "Well...you see..." His mind raced, trying to piece together a legitimate-sounding excuse. Quick thinking wasn't his specialty, or else he'd have a cutie mark in it...if dragons-turned-ponies could get cutie marks, that is.
"Oh, you're probably here because Twilight is away and she wants you to watch the library!" Sweetie said, proud of herself for having deduced something.
"Eeeeeeexactly!" Spike replied, thrilled that the tough job had been done for him. "But everything in the library seems to be in great shape, so I'm totally available to hang out if you want!"
"That would be great!" Sweetie said, giggling and bouncing into the air. Se dashed over to Bloom and Scootaloo, sticking her head between them as they continued to argue. "Let's hang out with Sparkstar, girls!" The two fillies quieted down and looked at their friend, then to Sparkstar. They then gave each other a look.
"We'll continue this argument later, alright?" Bloom said, offering a hoof of friendship. Scootaloo smiled and gave her a hoof bump.
"You got it!" The orange filly said. "For now, we've got some crusading to do!"
"Yeah!" the three exclaimed, jumping into the air and high-hoofing each other.
"Cutie Mark Crusaders, go!" Spike, beaming, galloped over and joined in the show of unity.
"Cutie Mark Crusaders, go!" he added in enthusiastically. With that, Bloom and Scootaloo galloped off in a random direction. Spike tried to follow them, but he was stopped by Sweetie.
"Thanks for coming back," Sweetie said, a shy smile on her face. Just the sight of her smile was enough for Spike to return it, as he felt a warm, happy feeling in his chest.
"Heh...no problem, Sweetie," he replied, scuffing a hoof in the dirt.
"The others stopped fighting as soon as they saw you," Sweetie continued. "It normally takes a LOT to get them to start once they've started up."
"Well, I don't know what I did, but I'm glad I did it!" Spike replied, grinning. Sweetie smiled and gave him another hug.
"I hope you keep doing it," Sweetie said. "You're the best pony ever." Spike beamed as he heard this, so happy about it that he didn't even notice the odd feeling he got in his belly from it. Had he been near a mirror, or if Sweetie's head wasn't behind his, one of them may have noticed the brief moment in which his eyes had turned purple, but such an opportunity was denied by pure happenstance.
"Hay!" Bloom called to the two. "Ain't y'all comin'?" Spike and Sweetie let go of each other, blushing.
"On our way!" Spike shouted. He and Sweetie gave each other another warm look and matching smile before running off to catch up with their friends.
There was a certain mystique about the palace in Canterlot. No matter how many times she'd visited the palace, whether it be for celebratory events, world-saving measures, or even uncertain situations like the one she found herself in on this occasion, Twilight Sparkle somehow always felt like she was walking through its halls for the very first time. Its regal appearance was unfamiliar in a very familiar way, a logical fallacy that even the brilliant mind of Princess Celestia's prized student could not wrap itself around. She gazed upon its many splendors, looking as awestruck as the first time she'd been here. She stared with a reverent grin at one of the stained glass windows; the one put up to commemorate the defeat of Nightmare Moon. In her moment of revelry, she completely forgot that she was meant to be providing a tour for the one who accompanied her, one to whom this place held no familiarity at all.
"I see in your eyes that you admire this prize," the zebra said, giving Twilight's shoulder a tap and meeting her with an amused smile when she turned to face her. "But I would appreciate it more if we continued this tour."
Twilight had been pleasantly surprised to run into Zecora on the train ride. She hadn't seen her zebra friend in a good while, and when Zecora informed her that she, too, had been summoned by the Princesses with no explanation, a delighted Twilight couldn't wait for the opportunity to provide her friend with an all-inclusive tour of her hometown. Fortunately for her, the time between the train's arrival and their meeting with the Princesses had left ample opportunity to show her around. She was also fortunate to be in the presence of one with such calm patience. Many ponies would have groaned at the thoroughness of Twilight's tour, as she insisted on giving as much history behind each building as she could come up with. Zecora had the patience of a saint as she allowed the unicorn to prattle on about the multitude of ownership changes that Donut Joe's shop had gone through, the social significance of the house in which the famed author Jade Singer grew up, and the like. Now, even though her relaxed, friendly demeanor tried to hide it, Twilight could sense the slightest bit of impatience behind her words.
"Oh! Of course!" the embarrassed unicorn said, rubbing the back of her mane sheepishly. She raised a hoof to point towards the window in question, but was stopped by the gold-adorned hoof of her mentor.
"I believe the rest of the tour can wait, Twilight," Princess Celestia said, giving her the gentle smile that she knew so well. She then turned her attention to Zecora, who had lowered herself for a bow. "You may rise, Miss Zecora. I thank you for answering my call." The zebra rose obediently.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Princess," Zecora said. "I hope I can help with this mysterious test."
"Oh, this is not a test, my loyal subject," Celestia said. "I've simply called the two of you here to represent Equestria in delegations with the ambassadors from Zebrica. With you, Zecora, as our local expert, and you, Twilight, as a close confidant, I figure the two of you can be very helpful in our delegations." Twilight could barely contain her excitement.
"It will be an honor to do this for you and Equestria, Princess," Twilight said, bowing her head. Zecora gave a nod of agreement.
"I knew I could count on you two," Celestia said, her smile carrying the warmth of the very celestial body whose ascent and descent she was in charge of. "Now, the two of you may retire to the chamber that I have arranged for you just upstairs."
"But what about the rest of the tour?" Twilight asked. The Princess answered with a light chuckle.
"It can wait, Twilight," the princess of the sun said to her charge. "The two of you should be fully rested for tomorrow's meeting." Twilight nodded obediently, as Zecora bowed once more. She wanted badly to continue the tour, but her mentor was right; rest was important.
The unicorn and the zebra entered their designated quarters. They thanked the guard who had led them there and had been nice enough (and thankfully strong enough) to carry their luggage. Twilight wasted no time in unpacking a book and laying down on one of the beds. It took a polite clearing of the throat from Zecora for her to realize that perhaps moving straight into studies was not the most polite of options.
"Oh gosh, I'm so sorry, Zecora," the unicorn said. "I didn't mean to be rude..." The zebra waved it off.
"Do not worry, my studious friend," Zecora said, sitting down herself. "There is no need for your readings to end." She then produced a book of her own, grinned, and opened it. "We both have our share of studies, you see. I can stand to bone up on my alchemy." Twilight smiled, relieved that she had not insulted her friend. She turned back to her book, but stopped reading again, thinking about what Zecora had said.
"Oh!" Twilight exclaimed, causing the zebra to cease her studies as well. "Speaking of alchemy, I found the most interesting side-effect for one of the powders in my lab last week." Zecora's ears perked as she turned to face Twilight.
"A new discovery?" Zecora asked. "Now this intrigues me." Twilight beamed with pride; Zecora was a master at this kind of thing, and to be able to give her what she believed to be new information was very exciting.
"Well," Twilight said, puffing her chest out proudly. "I had a certain powder in my collection which, as far as I knew, had only the effect of causing a rash on ponies. Spike spilled it on himself at one point while helping me reorganize my lab, and by the next day, he had transformed into a pony!" Zecora, who had previously been listening while reading, now turned her full attention to the unicorn. Twilight took a mental note of this and continued.
"I was able to engineer a counter-powder," Twilight said, "Which would erase any effects of the previous powder, and upon application, it changed Spike back right away! Isn't that great?" The unicorn blushed slightly, realizing that she was now gushing, but Zecora seemed unfazed by this, her face still wearing a look of interest.
"I must say that despite all my looks, I have never found a powder like that in my books," Zecora mused. It took all of Twilight's restraint not to giggle like a schoolfilly; impressing Zecora with a feat of alchemy was no easy task.
"Oh, you should have seen Spike," Twilight went on. "He hated it at first, but by the end of the day, he almost didn't want to change back!" She then grinned. "And I came up with the greatest plan!"
"A plan, my friend?" Zecora inquired. "To serve what end?"
"Well," Twilight responded, rubbing her forehooves together. "I know Spike, and even though I told him not to go into my lab, there's a good chance that he will, especially since he knows that I have more of that powder, as well as the antidote, in there. Buuuuut...I replaced the antidote with a dummy, so that I'd know when I got home if he disobeyed me! Isn't that smart?" The unicorn beamed at the zebra, but Zecora's face did not share the elation of her peer's.
"For what it is worth, I do not share your mirth," Zecora said sternly, eliciting a surprised reaction from the unicorn.
"B-but..." Twilight started, but a look from Zecora silenced her.
"A true alchemist is aware," the zebra went on. "That they must always take care. And frivolous use will lead to abuse." She set her book aside, sliding to her hooves. "In your plans to teach Spike to go by the book, did you consider the risks that you took?" Twilight's look of nervousness suddenly changed to one of pride.
"Actually," the unicorn responded. "I made sure before I did anything that there would be no negative effects from the subject going too long without the antidote being administered. I would never want to hurt my number one assistant. I just want to teach him a lesson about being responsible when left to his own devices." She was once again beaming, and looked to Zecora for her reaction. The zebra's face softened a bit, but still held a certain degree of grimness.
"The powder's original effects, you did not expect," she said. "But I trust that you kept all possibilities in check." Twilight nodded eagerly.
"I believe I did," Twilight concurred. Zecora still looked slightly unsure, but a glance at the time convinced her to drop the issue.
"The hour grows late," the zebra said. "And tomorrow is an important date."
"We should get some rest," Twilight said.
"A fine request," Zecora answered. The two set their books aside, slipped into the covers of their own beds, and shut the light. Tomorrow was a big day.
Even though he loved Twilight like a sister, Spike had to admit to himself that he was quite thankful for her vacation. Even though it had started off with a patch of extreme boredom, the knowledge that he would be able to spend the rest of this break having fun as Sparkstar made up for it in spades. He hadn't even been Sparkstar for an entire day yet, and he was already having the time of his life. He and the Cutie Mark Crusaders had spent a good portion of their morning in the CMC Clubhouse. It was decided by the three that before Sparkstar could continue his crusading, he should be officially inducted into the club. After all, if he earned his cutie mark without official paperwork declaring him as a member of the club, the others couldn't possibly count it as a victory for the club as a whole. After enduring Scootaloo's drum solo and Sweetie Belle's seemingly-endless list of synonyms for "name," the group held a celebration for their newest member. Spike couldn't help but question their method of celebration; as far as he knew, most typical exclusive groups didn't welcome their newest members with an impromptu tag-team wrestling match. He had to concede, however, that there wasn't much typical about the Cutie Mark Crusaders.
After a hard-fought battle, which ended with Scootaloo pinning Sweetie to earn the victory for herself and Apple Bloom, it was on to a very different activity, as the first Cutie Mark Crusaders Beauty Pageant was set to begin. Spike couldn't help but be happily impressed at the variation in the Crusaders' planned activities. The dragon-turned-pony had been worried that without him there to stand up for Sweetie, the three would go right back into their usual routine of tending towards more competitive activities. The wrestling match certainly didn't do much to convince him that this was not the case. As it turned out, there didn't seem to be much to worry about. The pageant was actually Bloom's idea, and despite objections from Scootaloo at first, all four had a good time with it. Spike even allowed the fillies to doll him up with badly-applied makeup and a tablecloth meant to represent a dress. Nopony earned their cutie marks from this, but a good time was had regardless.
After the pageant came lunchtime. Spike found himself getting a bit nervous as the group approached Sweet Apple Acres. It was probably silly; after all, the only bit of his pony appearance that was shared with his dragon body was the color scheme. Even that shouldn't have been a problem, as he knew plenty of purple ponies, and even a couple with green manes. Still, he couldn't help the little niggling scrap of worry in the back of his mind. Could he really lie about his nature to honest Applejack? If he did, what if she somehow saw right through his charade? She would be unhappy with him, the girls would be upset with him for lying to them, and his foolproof plan of administering the antidote before Twilight got home would be useless, since there would be no chance of Applejack not informing her of his misdeed. The risk was almost enough to make him turn around and suggest going somewhere else to eat, but it would seem way too suspicious. Luckily for him, Applejack didn't seem to suspect a thing when the three fillies introduced her to Twilight's purple-and-green, never-mentioned-before pegasus cousin from out of town. Plus, she called him a very well-mannered colt while serving them their lunch, a compliment that gave him a warm, tingly feeling in his belly. The compliment was followed by a strange look from the far pony as she glanced at his eyes, but he thought little of it, as the delicious food she had served now had his undivided attention.
Lunchtime was followed by even more crusading. Spike couldn't wrap his mind around how the three fillies had so much energy. They seemed to never tire, no matter what rigorous physical activity they engaged in. As far as he could remember (though his memory was a bit cloudy), there was never a time where he was this active for so long without needing at least a short nap. Somewhere between the jousting tournament and the attempt at trying to wake their latent psychic abilities or something, Spike was forced to sit aside and request a nap. The idea was met with hesitation at first by Bloom and Scoots, as napping would take him away from any chance of earning a cutie mark for a while unless his special talent was sleeping. Unsurprisingly, it was Sweetie who came to his defense, insisting that they could afford to wait just a little bit while he slept. As Spike drifted off for a much-needed nap in the grass, he could have sworn he heard the other two make some little comments towards Sweetie and her defense of her coltfriend. As embarrassing as it was to be called that, he couldn't help but feel happy, as another warm, tingly feeling invaded his belly before he fell asleep.
Evening soon came, and even the most energetic of young ponies had to rest at some point. Even fatigue, however, proved incapable of keeping the four close friends separated. Somepony (nopony could remember who amidst the excitement) had suggested the idea of a slumber party, and the idea was met mostly with positivity. It was decided that the library would be the easiest location to hold it, since not only did it put Spike where he needed to be to feed Owloysius, but it was also the one location at which they would not be bothered by an older sibling. The fillies still had one remaining issue, though, and that was the uncertainty that they would be allowed not only to spend the night without supervision, but also to have a slumber party with a colt on the guest list. Luckily, things seemed to be looking in their favor. Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo's surrogate sister of sorts, had been the easiest to convince, giving her permission quickly and basing it on the idea that Scootaloo was almost as awesome as she was and therefore could handle herself and the others and didn't need supervision. Applejack, on the other hoof, was the complete opposite. Bloom reasoned with her for what seemed like an hour before the farmer's resolve cracked, and she was forced to admit that as long as they didn't go outside till morning, there wasn't much for them to get themselves into trouble with at the library. Spike was very relieved that Twilight had apparently not told Applejack about her lab, and chose to also withhold that information. He seriously doubted they'd use the lab anyway.
The group now had the approval of two of the three ponies whose approval they had needed. Unfortunately for Spike, the last one was the one who made him the most nervous. He had intended to come to Rarity a week ago and inform her of the things that had gone on the last time he was Sparkstar, but his nerves would not allow him to do so. If he had only told her back then, this upcoming meeting might not be quite as awkward. Yet here he was, approaching Carousel Boutique as Sparkstar, lacking any semblance of a gameplan. There was no way he could tell her now. Not in this situation. No, he's have to just wait until after Twilight was back and he could change back.
Spike felt an odd feeling as he thought this. His mind had felt a bit clouded earlier, but now it was feeling much clearer. Spike wasn't quite sure why this was. He could be a little scatterbrained sometimes, but the previous level of absent-mindedness wasn't something he was used to. He had practically forgotten all about the fact that Rarity didn't know that he was Sparkstar before that moment. Such a thing would have likely been on his mind more, and for the life of him, he couldn't explain why such an important detail had been forgotten until that point. As Sweetie opened Carousel Boutique's front door, Spike started going over what he'd say to Rarity in his head. He wasn't telling her right now either way, but it would probably be best to plan in advance for when he did.
"Oh, is this your little coltfriend?" Rarity's voice sang as she smiled down at Spike. He looked up at her and forgot all about what he had just been thinking about. The warm tingly feeling returned as he processed those words; something about them felt right.
"Rarityyyyy!" Sweetie whined, cheeks turning bright red as Bloom and Scoots giggled. "We're just friends, okay?"
"Oh, nonsense," the fashion-minded unicorn said with a little smile. "It's not every day that you come home gushing about the colt you spent the day with." Spike felt tingly all over, happy that Sweetie had apparently been speaking so highly of him to her sister.
"He's not my coltfriend!" Sweetie said, stomping a hoof as Bloom and Scoots continued to giggle at their friend's embarrassment. "He's just a colt who's a friend!" Spike found himself blushing and smiling as he listened to the back-and-forth. The tingly feeling was growing stronger, and he had no clue why, but he wasn't complaining. It felt nice, and oddly right.
"So you are Twilight's little cousin, Sparkstar?" Rarity asked, despite already knowing the answer. Spike nodded, overcoming his blush and smiling. Rarity cooed and ruffled his mane with a hoof.
"Well aren't you a handsome young colt?" the unicorn said, giggling. Spike, still blushing, beamed, the tingling feeling growing stronger than ever.
"C'mon, Rarity, that's enough!" Sweetie spoke up. "We came here to ask you something!" Spike blinked. He'd almost forgotten why they were even there.
"Oh?" Rarity asked, removing her hoof from Spike's head. "What is it, darlings?"
"We were all hangin' out..." Bloom started, before Scootaloo nudged her way in front of her.
"And it's getting late, but we didn't wanna stop hanging out..." the pegasus continued, before being interrupted by Sweetie.
"So we wanted to have a slumber party..." Sweetie said.
"So I offered up the library for it!" Sparkstar added.
"An' Applejack an' Rainbow Dash already said it was alright!" Bloom made sure to add.
"We figured a slumber party with a colt at a house with no adults might SOUND bad..." Scootaloo said, scuffing a hoof in the dirt.
"But THEIR sisters said it was okay!" Sweetie exclaimed. Rarity blinked a few times, reeling from the verbal storm from the four young ponies. Once she'd finished processing anything, she looked at the four, a bit sternly.
"I must say, I am really not sure about this," Rarity said. "After all, you may see yourselves as mature young ladies...a-and one mature young man...but I am not quite sure I could give my consent if there is no supervision." Spike's heart sank, and Bloom and Scoots looked disappointed as well. However, Sweetie had not exhausted her bag of tricks.
"Oh..." Sweetie sighed, her eyes becoming large and sad. "Well...I guess if you don't want to make me happy..."
"Oh nonono, Sweetie, this isn't going to work," Rarity said, looking away.
"I mean, Applejack said Apple Bloom could do it, like a good big sister would..." Sweetie continued.
"Sweetie Belle, you cut that out right now..." Rarity said. She was trying to raise her voice, but it was beginning to falter.
"And even Rainbow Dash said Scootaloo could go," Sweetie went on. "But I guess if you don't even want to be as good a sister as somepony who isn't technically related to her little sister..." That was the final straw.
"Very well!" Rarity shouted. "Yes, you may go, Sweetie Belle...because I am a wonderful big sister, correct?" Sweetie beamed and hugged Rarity's leg tightly.
"Correct!" the unicorn filly said happily. The two sisters shared a slightly-fabricated sisterly moment as an astonished Spike looked on. Bloom and Scoots were used to this kind of thing by now. Rarity then looked to Spike.
"I trust that you are responsible enough to keep an eye on my sister and her friends, Sparkstar?" Rarity asked. Spike blinked, snapping out of his distraction, and nodded.
"You have my word, Rarity," Spike said confidently. "I will treat your sister and her friends with the utmost care." The fashion-minded unicorn gave him a smile and a pat on the head.
"Excellent," Rarity said. "You seem like a very good pony to me, Sparkstar."
Spike smiled, feeling tingly all over, as his eyes, unnoticed by the others, changed from green to purple. He was a good pony.