(Grown Up) Spike/CMC
The sun hung high in sky – coming up close to noon in Ponyville without a cloud in the sky. As perfect a day as it could possibly be, and yet Applebloom simply could not stop shaking. These bi-monthly meetings were always a little nerve-wracking for the filly as she paced the town square, circling the fountain for the hundredth time that afternoon – when your best friends had moved out of town and didn’t get many opportunities to visit, you learned to treasure the ones when they did.
She thought back momentarily to her sister on the family farm, and licked her lips softly – it had been too long since she’d last swung by the Acres to see her sister since the last time she’d dropped by for some more wood.
She would have to pay a visit to Applejack at some point soon as well, hopefully with her friends, even though Scootaloo oft said she found it weird to see a Wonderbolt settled down with a family, even in his breaks away from scheduled shows. Though he was the only Wonderbolt to have a family besides his team, Soarin’ doted on his wife and children whenever he visited to a level that surprised some of the more cool and aloof pegasi on his stunt team, including Captain Spitfire, Rainbow Dash and even the grown Scootaloo.
Apple Bloom couldn’t share the same issues – she quite liked Soarin’ as a brother-in-law, and her nephew and niece were beyond adorable and quite liked to play with their ‘Auntie Bloom’ as they had got as far as calling her. Lost in the memories of the last time she’d visited the farm, she almost didn’t hear the calling voice from behind her.
“Apple Bloom! Hey, Apple Bloom!” The yellow-coated filly wasn’t the only one to turn around at the near sing-song tone of the greeting, and a few of the older residents of Ponyville inclined their heads slowly. The Royal Herald was a position often overlooked whenever the Princesses went anywhere, but the clear call to announce the presence of Celestia and Luna was given than none other by one of Apple Bloom’s oldest friends.
“Sweetie Belle!” she cried as she trotted across the courtyard to press noses with her friend. “Good ta see ya again! How’s Canterlot been?” she asked eagerly as the unicorn fell into step with her, headed for a smoothie bar. Sweetie Belle smiled softly.
“Very, very well thank you!” Apple Bloom couldn’t help but smile at the voice – it hadn’t turned out quite as high-class as her sister’s had, but still had a clear air to it that was lacking from hers’ or Scootaloo’s. “Luna and I have written another two songs together that I intend to sing at the Midnight Moon Festival this winter. I think she’s planning on Ponyville as the location, though I can’t be sure how a princess’ mind works. I’m not Professor Sparkle just yet,” she said with a smile and a wink. Apple Bloom chuckled softly as she ordered the usuals for the pair of them – strawberry and banana for herself, and cream-blueberry for Sweetie Belle.
“And where’s the passionfruit and pomegranate?” asked a voice from just off to the side of them, timed perfectly as the waiter turned to leave the two fillies at the table. Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom cried out in delight as they drew up a chair for their Pegasus friend. Scootaloo’s mane was a little slick with sweat, and the Wonderbolt outfit clung to her body, but she was grinning and smiling at the others with hints of everything that her two mentors had taught her in the stunt squadron.
“Better make that a third one,” mentioned Apple Bloom with an apologetic smile to the waiter. The colt gave a weak smile and nodded before heading off to the kitchens once more. “Ya coulda given us a bit more notice,” pointed out the earth pony, at which Scootaloo crossed her forelegs.
“And you two could have waited a few seconds longer before going to get your orders,” she replied with a stuck-out tongue. The three girls laughed, taking the time to give each another a big hug, feeling that spark of warmth grow inside each one, the feeling of being back with one’s best friends.
Apple Bloom had no shortage of good acquaintances in Ponyville – now that Twist was the proprietress of Sugar Cube Corner, she had been responsible for the treats that Apple Bloom bought every week for a little reward for good work, and there were the members of the cards club that she ran alongside her sister when Applejack wasn’t looking after the foals. But the picture she had in her room of her long time friends held only the white unicorn and orange Pegasus along with herself.
Sweetie Belle was much of the same mindset – much like her sister when she attempted to set up a shop in Canterlot, that while the upperclass unicorns of the Royal City were sophisticated, polite and made great quality products, sometimes they just weren’t quite the same as the friends one knew and loved. Her ineptitude at magic didn’t help much either, but here in Ponyville there was nobody that thought twice about it.
Scootaloo would never have been caught admitting that the Wonderbolts could take it out of her, but Spitfire had turned the outfit into an even faster and more party-like team than before. Race all day, party all night – it often meant the stunt team needed very long breaks between their tours. Soarin’ was more than appreciative of this and the time he got to spend with his wife, and even Rainbow Dash admitted it was good to get some time off and head back to Ponyville or Cloudsdale. Though what she got up to when she was at the latter was a matter never discussed.
“So when is your next show?” asked Sweetie Belle after their smoothies were delivered and the three fillies had taken the first, refreshing mouthfuls. Scootaloo chugged down a good deal of her drink before replying, slurping her lips with satisfaction, swallowing the pips when she encountered them. A habit of the pegasus’ that neither of the others could ever hope to understand
“In about a month or a half. We’re planning to take this one a bit easier, more time between shows. We’ll be coming to Ponyville, of course. Rainbow and I have got a new move we’ve been planning for a while now for that one. I dunno if I can tell you what it is though, it’s top secret that only the very, very best of the Wonderbolts can possibly know about,” Scootaloo said with great pride, taking the time to look aloof and powerful as she did so. Unfortunately, Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom had long since become used to Scoot’s ways and they knew just how to deal with it.
“If y’all say so,” said Apple Bloom, and turned back to Sweetie Belle, intending to ask how Celestia and Luna’s latest students were getting on when Scootaloo burst in again.
“Augh! Why do you two keep doing this to me?” she exclaimed grumpily, folding her arms as the unicorn and Earth Pony laughed heartily, turning their attention back to the Pegasus as she explained (using a knife, fork and a precariously balanced napkin ring) the way that she and Rainbow would do a two mile race, with Scootaloo on the ground on her custom-tooled skateboard, and Rainbow flying a mile up in the air and back down.
“I’ve yet to win it, but people seem to like it. The skateboard routine got a coupla cheers from the crowd at our last show. They don’t expect Pegasi to be able to use Earth Pony modes of transport that well,” she said with a grin. Apple Bloom rolled her eyes.
“Now dontcha go remindin’ me of that. Ah could darn sure use your scooter an’ yer wing power nowadays to ferry about all mah stuff,” the town carpenter admitted with a soft sigh. Sweetie Belle sighed as well, looking Apple Bloom in the eye.
“You’re still living in Zecora’s old house?” she said with a tinge of disappointment. “Here I was thinking we wouldn’t have to go through the forest again to get to our beds…” she said with a slight pout. Apple Bloom met her friend’s stare right-on, however.
“Ah promised Ah’d keep that place alive when Zecora went back home to her old family’s lands, an’ Apple Bloom keeps her promises,” the filly said with no shortage of pride in her tone at her honesty. “Plus, means Ah’m close to some other friends,” she said with a slight smug air. Now that caught Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo’s attention. Both fillies tilted their heads to look the yellow-coated female up and down curiously.
“What friends live in the Everfree Forest so close to that hut?” asked Sweetie Belle curiously. “Luna’s castle is almost a full day’s walk from there, and it’s more quickly accessible from the Waystones in the middle of the villages anyway,” she said, making the reference to the teleportation crystals in the centre of every pony-inhabited town or city in Equestria, the work of several years of study from Professor Twilight Sparkle, the kingdom’s finest in all manners scientific.
“Yeah. Even the griffon outlaws live deeper in than that, and I doubt you’re friends with most of them,” Scootaloo added, one eyebrow raised as she regarded her smirking friend. “Go on, tell us,” she urged. Apple Bloom’s only response was to settle up with the waiter, and wink at the pair of them.
“Follow me an’ Ah’ll show ya both,” Apple Bloom said with a voice rich with pride and tease. Before Scootaloo or Sweetie Belle could say a word, the Earth Pony had galloped off in the direction of the forest.
“After her!” cried Sweetie Belle, beginning to gather her weak magic, a little trick she’d learnt for the last time the Crusaders had been together.
“Ah still call that cheatin’!” scowled Apple Bloom as she slowed to a trot, panting softly as she watched Sweetie Belle stop her bubble spell, the four lighter-than-air orbs beneath her hooves popping at once and depositing the unicorn on the ground beside her friend. Scootaloo landed between the two, her wings only slightly sore after the unplanned exercise, grinning as she looked at her out-of-breath friends.
“And we call it using our talents just as you were yours, Miss I-can-kick-a-ball-into-orbit,” the Pegasus said with a grin as she poked her head inside what used to be Zecora’s old home, and indeed there was still one of the masks adorning the walls. But Apple Bloom’s carpentry skills had turned the hollowed-out-tree into something genuinely resembling a house. Inside, there was a soft carpet across the wooden planked floor and fireflies buzzed softly inside a collection of lanterns swinging gently from the ceiling.
“Mah talent is makin’ things outta wood with a hammer an’ saw, Scootaloo,” pointed out Apple Bloom. “Don’t make me turn yer head inta a bowl,” she added with a malicious gleam in her eyes. Scootaloo yelped and leapt behind a panting Sweetie Belle, who glared at a now perfectly-innocent looking Apple Bloom.
“Don’t scare us, Apple Bloom! You know that there are some people who say you’ll develop evil powers by staying here,” Sweetie Belle began, though she was quickly rounded on by Apple Bloom.
“Huh, is that what they’re sayin’ about Apple Bloom? ‘Cause they didn’t like Zecora, they think that Ah’m gonna be corrupted or somethin’? They think Ah’m summonin’ demons in mah spare time?” the yellow filly asked, her expression venomous as she stared at her friends. Sweetie Belle took a step backwards at that, and Scootaloo swallowed hard, right up until Apple Bloom’s expression became innocent once more.
“It’s all baloney, girls. Zecora weren’t a bad egg, she was just misunderstood. You gots more chance of turnin’ evil than me, Sweetie Belle,” she said with a stuck out tongue. Sweetie Belle bristled a little, but let the jibe slide. Mostly because she wasn’t sure if it referred to Celestia or Luna. “Anyways. Ah need to show y’all mah new neighbour. He’s a right gent,” Apple Bloom continued, turning about on the spot to trot behind her house, a little further into the forest. After a wary glance at each other, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle followed.
“Um, Apple Bloom? This is… a cave,” the two said almost instantly as they rounded the corner, watching their friend wander leisurely inside. When no answer was forthcoming, the Pegasus and unicorn glanced curiously at each other but followed their friend into the cave, following the sight of Apple Bloom’s big red bow into the darkness.
“Can you light up your horn at all?” asked Scootaloo as the red butterfly seemed to fade further and further into the darkness. Sweetie Belle shook her head.
“Not after that float spell. I don’t have the energy to do anything,” she admitted with a flush hidden by the darkness of the cave. She looked further into the cave, and yelled out to Apple Bloom. “Does it get brighter further in?”
In response, the yellow filly began to laugh in the darkness and her friends’ eyes widened, suddenly becoming even wider as the light from the entrance to the cave was blocked off, a grinding of rock signaling that a door had come from somewhere and been rolled right in front of the exit. Apple Bloom’s laughter continued into the darkness as Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo wrapped their arms about another in the darkness, looking about in terror. Their fear came to a sudden climax as a gout of flame burst from the darkness of the cave, licking about the roof and sending mad shadows cascading about the huddling equines.
Apple Bloom stood above the fire, the two gouts of fire framing her like an infernal picture as she laughed, her eyes glittering with the dancing flames as the entire room seemed to glitter with red reflections of the fire.
“Ya were right, Scootaloo! I have been summonin’ demons from the underworld!” cackled Apple Bloom as she looked at her friends as they screamed fit to burst, great clawed hands beginning to encircle their bodies and pull them apart. The hug broken, Scootaloo began to struggle wildly against the hand that held her midsection, hot and scaly as Sweetie Belle simply stayed there, rooted in place as tears welled in her eyes. Her ears folded back as she heard the voice emerge from the darkness then.
“Thank you, my good neighbour… you brought me two beautiful, wonderful fillies…” it cackled and the two in its’ claws began to deflate. What hope could they have to stand against some great beast from the underworld that held them both in its’ claws like they would hold an apple?
“Now, I think we should begin with revenge for that sleep-over six years ago,” the voice added, and Sweetie Belle was pretty sure she’d lost her mind at that point. Suddenly, she realized that the claws had put her down on a straw bed gently on her back, and were now beginning to run teasingly across her exposed soft belly.
Despite the tears and the fear of her surroundings, the sensation was one she hadn’t had for a long time and she began to giggle despite herself, still trying to look into the distance and work out what in all of Equestria had first petrified her and then proceeded to treat her as gently as a lover, placing her down in soft straw and treating her expertly groomed coat (courtesy of her sister) with great tenderness as he teased her.
It seemed from the laughter to her left that Scootaloo was getting much the same treatment. Another gout of flame burst out, but this time it obviously hit some kind of oil channel running through the walls, the flame licking about the walls of the cavern to reveal a perfectly sane-looking Apple Bloom standing atop a great purple dragon, sharp green spines running down his back as he regarded the trapped fillies with emerald-green eyes full of a familiar mischief.
“Spike?!?” exclaimed Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo in between helpless giggles and laughter as the dragon’s dexterous talons manipulated and teased their sensitive spots.
“Yup, that’s my name,” the grown dragon said with a wink at the unicorn and Pegasus ponies he had trapped beneath his claws. “You seem surprised to see me,” he teased as he let Apple Bloom leap off his head and down his back to dismount. Spike’s growth spurt while he was away from home was evident in every part of the great specimen that tickled them – his claws when bunched were a little thicker than any pony’s midsection, and he was about as long as the Appleoosa train all the way to the caboose tip to-tail.
His wings were folded in tight against his body but they looked like they would have a wingspan enough to shade the majority of Ponyville square. His claws continued to tease the soft spots of Apple Bloom’s friends as the bow-wearing filly trotted over to stand in between her friends.
“Awh, dun be frightened you two,” she teased the pair of them as they rocked back and forth on the hay, all pretence of resistance faded as they roared with laughter. “Spike’s a well-good gentleman, even if he did do the same ta me when Ah first came in ta visit,” she said with a sharp look at the dragon. Spike only chuckled.
“Payback’s fair for when you three pounced me and tickled me until I breathed fire for you… to roast your marshmallows,” he said with a raised eyebrow, getting a flush from all three ponies. “You could have asked nicely, you know. And then you wouldn’t be getting this!” and to emphasise his words, he began to dig his claws deeper in the joins between leg and body, seeking out the soft flesh to rub with his claws, sending Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo into breathless screaming of laughter.
“Stop… stop!” Scootaloo gasped, her wings beating uselessly behind her back as she attempted to make amends. “We were… we were trying… to get… stoppit! Our cutie marks for… eehee! Campfires…” she panted, eyes filled with tears of mirth as she pleaded to the great dragon to stop. Sweetie Belle was beyond the realm of speech and was gasping loudly, opening and closing her mouth again and again wordlessly as she begged Spike and Apple Bloom with their eyes to let up. It seemed that Spike at least knew when enough was enough, and his claws slid back from the underbellies of Apple Bloom’s friends as he sat back on his cave floor, his head watching the two of them pant and pick themselves up on shaky legs again.
“I thought… I thought you were with the other dragons in the Cindersmoke mountains…” gasped Scootaloo as she managed to return back to earth from her giddy high from her tickle fest. Apple Bloom nudged a bowl of water towards each of her friends as they caught their breath, and Spike explained all.
“I did for a while, and spent a few years as King Irontail’s personal scribe and storyteller,” the dragon explained, getting an approving nod from Sweetie Belle. Irontail was one of the few other rulers of the lands surrounding Equestria that Celestia was on first name terms with, and able to talk to about matters besides affairs of state with ease. She’d never subscribed to palace gossip about what happened when Celestia used her magic to reduce Irontail into a size that would fit in her bedroom, but maybe Spike could shed some light on that.
“But… I kind of fell out with another dragon, and took the honourable option of leaving rather than fighting. I still communicate daily with Irontail, but I decided I wanted to come back and visit my friends again. I’m too big to fit in Ponyville, but I reckoned there was still space in the Everfree Forest.” Apple Bloom took over the story now.
“An’ what a racket Ah woke up ta that night. Scratchin’ an’ fire an’ rocks breakin’. Ya couldn’t justa picked an old cave of yer own rather than burnin’ out a brand new one beside mah house?” Apple Bloom asked with a grin up at Spike. The dragon snorted a mushroom cloud of smoke that knocked the Earth Pony back onto her haunches.
“I didn’t know anyone still lived there. I’d been told Zecora had gone home, so I thought it was fair play to just get to work. Imagine my delight when one of the fillies, all grown up into a beautiful mare, walks in through my door.” Apple Bloom blushed at the memory of how she had been tricked and trapped by Spike in much the same way as her friends were. Of course, minus the pretence of one of her other friends pretending to be a demon-mage and scaring the living daylight out of her. That said, Spike’s compliment made her feel that little better about herself as she gave a broad smile.
“So when Apple Bloom tells me her friends are coming round, and would I like her help to get back at you two? Well, I couldn’t resist. Especially when her friends are as pretty a pair of mares as she is.” Now it was Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo’s turns to beam as they licked their lips clear of any water splash and nodded.
“Well, aside from the slight surprise when we first met, it’s a pleasure to see you again, Spike,” Sweetie Belle said with a smile as she admired Spike’s new form. Scootaloo nodded as well, beaming at the big dragon as she then turned to Apple Bloom.
“Nice trick you pulled on us there. But I think it’s a bit unfair,” she said, prompting raised eyebrows from Spike and Apple Bloom, and a nod of assent from her unicorn friend. “See… if Spike had caught the pair of us on our own, that would be cool. Bit mean to spring it on us after so long, but hey, it’s Spike. We’re used to him being a jerk.” The dragon’s snort of smoke blasted Scootaloo now, but the Pegasus cheekily brushed it away.
“But you had to go scare us as well, Apple Bloom. And I reckon that’s a bit unfair. I think we need revenge,” the orange-furred pony pointed out. As Apple Bloom’s face began to click with the realization, Sweetie Belle pounced upon her, wrapping her forehooves around the Earth Pony’s midsection and holding on.
“Gotcha!” she cried, before she suddenly remembered one trait of the Apple Family that had got passed down through the generations, at the point where she was flying off Apple Bloom’s back and through the air. She landed with a loud ‘oof’ by the side of the cave, but Spike had reached out a claw to stop her from hitting the rocks.
“Got you more like,” Spike pointed out with a smile, turning back to look at where Apple Bloom and Scootaloo were at a stand off, the Pegasus’ wings extended and beating gently to keep her in the air, hovering just in front of the protective Earth Pony. Spike gave Sweetie Belle a quick wink, placing her back down on the ground on all four hooves as he made his move.
“What in tarnation…” began Apple Bloom as she felt her legs knocked out from underneath her, her body flipped over until she was lying on her back, squirming helplessly as Spike’s claws held her spread-eagled on the ground, her sensitive belly exposed.
“No! Spike, Spike, I’m your next-door neighbour! Let me go!” she cried out, writhing against the grip of the big dragon even as Scootaloo’s expression turned to one of utter glee. Sweetie Belle trotted over to her friend’s side, and on a simultaneous nod, the unicorn tugged a pair of feathers out of Scootaloo’s orange wings, making the Pegasus wince momentarily. But her grin was soon back as Rarity’s sister passed her the feather, and Apple Bloom’s eyes went wide.
“Coming back to Ponyville? Best. Decision. Ever,” thought Spike with a huge smile as Apple Bloom’s screams of protests and laughter began to fill his cave.