Spike's Unexpected Growth Spurt

by Megapone


Chapter One: A Growing Problem

Life in Ponyville was always a funny sort of thing. You could never be too sure when a rogue monster would attack, an ancient evil arise, or a forgotten alicorn make her first debut. Thankfully, for one Twilight Sparkle, the Golden Oaks Library was always a safe haven. Full of books, parchment, and ink, it was a sanctuary of knowledge that had never breached from without.

Within, however, was a different story, as made evident by the large amount of dragon bulk currently filling its kitchen.

"Ouch!" Spike recoiled in pain as his head bounced off of the firm oak of the top cabinet. He rubbed his bruised spike, glaring up at the offending piece of wood. The cabinet door, for its part, sat innocuously in place, quite unmindful of the death glare currently aimed in its direction.

"Spike! Come on! The omelets are going to burn!"

He blinked. A shake of his head helped to clear away the stars. "Oh—r-right! I've got it. Just let me—whoa!"

As he'd turned to nod over his shoulder, the side of his head had made contact again with the cabinet. The edge had clipped right across his ear, and it was that ear whose lobe was currently throbbing a bright, angry red.

"Ouch, ouch, ouch!" Spike hopped up and down on one leg, his palms cradled around his sensitive ear. "Ouch!"


He froze in place. Slowly, not daring to pull his claws away from his throbbing extremity, he turned to face the voice that had called over his shoulder.

Twilight looked up at him, one eyebrow quirked in a disciplinary fashion, and the other turned upward in a surprised sort of flinch. "Calm down, buddy," she said. "You're making the floor shake."

Spike blinked, his neck craning forward to make sure that he wouldn't hit the darn cabinet a third time. Hesitantly, he lifted a clawed foot up, held it up in the air for a second, and then slammed it down on the floor. Sure enough, a series of vibrations echoed through the room, sending ripples through a glass of orange juice, rattling the windows, and setting Twilight's mane on end.

He grinned sheepishly. "Heh."

Twilight rolled her eyes, sighing. A purple aura rippled around the edges of her horn, and she turned her head back toward the stove. "Seriously, Spike. You really need to take better care with what you're doing. Especially when you're...that big."

Spike looked down over himself, and then back up at her. He snickered. Standing at nearly six feet tall—a full two feet in height above the average mare—he truly towered over Twilight, his draconic frame filling up much more of the kitchen than it had when he was just a hatchling. Even Bic Mac had to look up to him now, if only a little. Muscles—not many, but a few—rippled underneath his diamond-hard skin, and he'd come a long way from the pudgy toddler he'd been when they'd first moved to Ponyville.

He looked down at her and flashed a fanged smile. "Oh, don't worry about it, Twi. I can handle it, no—"

"Oh, no!"

Twilight stood by the stove, her magic levitating a pan beside her head. She looked down into the pan, wincing at what she found there. "The eggs are all burned."

Spike swallowed. Whoops.

She turned it to the side, letting him see. Sure enough, a cluster of yolks inside had been singed to a char. He sniffed, nearly flinching at the smell. It smelt worse than rubber, and reminded him of Sweetie Belle's cooking a bit more than he'd care to admit.

"Heh." He awkwardly scratched the back of his neck with his claws. "I, uh, can make more. Really."

A soft smile crossed Twilight's face. "Oh, Spike. It's fine. We'll just go to Joe's new shop to pick up some doughnuts, and—"

"No, really!" Spike's face lit up as he turned and lumbered over to the fridge. He opened the door, feeling around inside. "I can just grab a few more eggs and—"

Crunch. With that sinking feeling in his chest again, he felt a cold, viscous liquid running between his claws. He didn't need to look to know what it was. "Oops."

Twilight groaned. "That's the third time this month! Spike, you really do need to learn to control your own strength!"

"Twilight, you worry too much!" Spike pulled his hand out of the fridge, cringing internally at the sight of raw egg dripping down his claws. He momentarily pondered licking up the bits of eggshell that still clung to his scales, but one look at Twilight suggested otherwise. "I—I can clean this up, no problem!"

"Spike, stop!"

Spike brushed it off as he took a long stride toward the broom closet. "I've got this! I can clean it up! I can—"

He stopped, frozen in place.

Twilight's eyes widened behind him. "Spike? What's wrong?"

He couldn't answer, at first. It was like an eggshell had been cracked over his head, but one flicker of his eyes upward proved that his spines were yolk-free. He felt woozy, a wave of water running through his ears. Licking his lips, he tried to take a step, and found he couldn't.

"Ith—ith okay, Twilight." His words slurred in their deeper tones, and he felt his forked tongue stick to the roof of his mouth. "I—I—"

There it was again—the wooziness—and it was back with a vengeance. He felt a pounding behind his eyes, and a churning in his stomach. Without another word, he doubled over, his wide face turning green.

"What're you—"

Twilight looked like a deer caught in a floodlight. "Oh, no. Nuh-uh, mister. You are not getting sick all over my new carpet!"

Spike gurgled vainly. His stomach was fighting a losing battle with his liver, and he winced as another wave of nausea washed over him. The air seemed to swim before his eyes. With an errant twitch, he felt his right bicep throb, complaining loudly. His left soon followed it, both muscles filled with a pain that was quickly becoming worse than any cramp. His face flushed an even brighter green, the color mixing with the native purple to become a slightly queasy shade of puce.

"No! You march right to the bathroom, or I'll—I'll—"

With a stream of lukewarm fire and an earth-shattering retch, Spike was violently, terribly sick all over Twilight Sparkle.

Before she summon up the slightest hint of a lecture, he dropped to the floor with a thud.

Twilight looked down at Spike with a mixture of shock, anger, and disgust.

"Ee-yuck," she finally spat, slinging a glop of vomit aside with a swing of her head. A quick cleaning spell saw the rest of it gone, though the smell still lingered. She wrinkled her nose. It said something about her, she felt, that she could tell that it smelled like spoiled amethyst and rotten emerald.

There were bigger fish to fry than personal hygiene, though. A clinical part of her mind noted that her assistant had just been violently sick and then dropped to the floor. Her brother assistant, a slightly more clinical part noted. Her brother had just passed out, and was now lying in the floor in a puddle of evaporated vomit.

Her eyes opened wide, a sudden adrenaline rushing through her veins. Instinctually, her wings flared out, and a charge of magic began running through her horn. Without even consciously doing it, she'd already teleported the two of them up to her bedroom and levitated the blankets over Spike's gangly limbs.

"Oh, my poor Spike," she murmured, reaching up and feeling for a fever. It was a rather difficult measurement, though, as dragons' base temperatures tend to be much higher than their pony counterparts. After a few, hesitant moments during which she debated between "volcanic" and simply "burning orchard," she finally settled on something moderately in-between and lowered her hoof.

Well. That was something, at least. It looked like he wasn't horribly sick—dragons did have terribly strong constitutions, after all. She glanced down over his long, lanky body, thoughts flickering through her head. What to do...what to do...

Chances were, he'd just eaten a bad gemstone over the past week and its chemical structure was coming back to bite him. A small, slightly-more-reassured smile came to her face. Yes; that had to be it. If time went by and it looked like something serious, than she'd have Nurse Redheart take a look at him (assuming the nurse even knew how to deal with dragon physiology, which was, admittedly, doubtful); if everything seemed fine, then Twilight had no doubt that Spike would be back on his oversized feet in no time.

A fond smile crossed her face. One wing curled around his chest as the other took hold of the blanket, tugging it down to (unsuccessfully) cover his much longer legs. "Don't worry," she whispered. "You'll be just fine. Everything will be just fine."

She turned away, wings curling back around her sides. As she reached the door, she heard a muffled snort, followed by a grunt.

Yup, she thought, giggling to herself. That's Spike all right. With a final, fond chuckle, she closed the door behind her and trotted down the stairs.

It was almost a pity she hadn't turned around. If she had, she might have been able to see the too-short bedspread looking a little bit shorter, inching its way up Spike's legs with each passing second.

Spike wasn't uncomfortable. If anything, he felt good. The nausea and pain from earlier had largely subsided, and had been replaced by a rather warm, pleasant feeling that filled his system with a tingly sort of sensation. His two oversized fangs poking out over his lower lip, he snuffled into a pillow and then turned over on his stomach.

Sleep felt good. It was more than just sleep, though, his unconscious mind decided. The tingling feeling had spread throughout his chest and then to his arms; his heartbeat pulsed through his entire body like a strong, beating drum. With each beat, in fact, it seemed that the feeling of warmth grew. And grew. And then grew again.

Spike's weight pushed against the mattress, lowering it closer to the floor. It would have taken a sharper eye to notice at first, but his limbs were gradually lengthening, second by second. At first, it was only an inch or so—barely noticeable in an already-towering dragon. Fairly soon, though, his arms were hanging off the sides of the bed, and his spines pushing against the wooden headboard.

Spike was growing, and not in a subtle way, either. His chest swelled outward with each new breath, retaining some of its volume as he exhaled. Soon enough, his leaner chest had grown a pair of respectable-looking pectoral muscles, poking out beneath his chin and swelling with each expansion of his lungs. His arms, too, looked more than a little wider than when he'd first been laid out; his biceps bulged noticeably beneath the rustling sheets that covered his growing body.

It was clear that this was no ordinary growth spurt, but Spike's unconscious mind neither noticed nor cared. Instead, he only smiled to himself and spread his legs a bit wider, the swell of muscle between his thighs pushing them just a tiny bit apart. His stomach rippled and firmed until the beginnings of a six-pack were spread across his abdomen, his hips shaped without a drop of baby fat on them. His legs, still growing outward and away from the rest of his body, soon stretched out even further over the edge of the bed—his feet had already been dangling over the edge—until his knees had reached the very end of the mattress.

He snored, the deep vibrations shaking the sheets and fluttering through the curtains. His arms were as wide around as large melons, now, and his adolescent frame now filled the entirety of Twilight's bed. With a crash, his feet fell to the ground, his massively-oversized claws digging into the soft wood as he fidgeted in his sleep.

Spike was clearly much bigger by now; where once he'd been a scarce two feet taller than the average pony, he now was at least twice Twilight's height from head to toe. He groaned, that warm, pleasant feeling fluttering in his chest again, and licked his lips. His dreams were filled with an enormous pile of gemstones, piled three mountains high, and all ripe for his taking. With a gasp and a rush of happiness, dream Spike leapt into the air and dove into the mound of food. He piled them into his mouth, eating and eating and eating...

...and growing and growing and growing. He groaned again as his extending frame finally slowed to a stop. By now, his formerly-gangly limbs were packed with muscle, each arm as wide around as a pony's torso. When he snored, the whole bed shook, and the mattress was dangerously low to the floor under his several-hundred-pound weight. His abs had by now formed into a clear six-pack, and when he blearily scratched his stomach in his sleep, his claws scratched against a pile of bulky, diamond-hard scales.

By now, Spike was undeniably huge. Gigantic, even. Yet he himself remained none the wiser, blissfully snoring as his limbs stretched and flexed to their full, unhindered length. The blanket, now laughably small, fluttered to the ground. By now, it was barely enough to cover Spike's bulging chest, let alone any other part of his body.

And still, Spike slept on.

"I'm really happy that you were able to find the time to come over today, Rarity. I knew you'd like this series."

Rarity gave Twilight a scandalized look. "Why, of course, dear!" She tutted loudly, clicking her tongue against her upper lip. "When I heard that you'd gotten the latest shipment of books by Sarah Clopwell, I simply had to take a look for myself. Now, where does this one go?"

Twilight chuckled, her lavender aura enveloping a short stack of books, each with a different-colored ribbon on its cover. "The Romance section is off to your right. They should be alphabetized by author." She paused. "And to be honest, I thought you might still be a little upset over...well..."

"Caramel? Pshaw." Rarity sniffed, tossing her mane over her shoulder—though making sure not to muss it up in the process. "The foalish stallion really didn't do anything for me. Really, darling. I'm sure I'm better off without him. Now, you said the books go over here?"

Twilight nodded.

"Very good." Rarity gave a single, curt nod, three books following her as she trotted between the shelves. She liked to hum as she worked, browsing through the shelves for the right home for her books. Sweetie Belle had just come up with the most darling song the other day, and she really did wonder why—

It took her a second to make sure that it had been the ground that had shook and not just her. Rarity put a hoof to her head to steady herself—though more to reassure herself of her coiffure than of any real cranial discomfort—and blinked over at the end of the row. "Twilight," she called, somewhat uncertainly. "Did you hear that?"

Alas—the only reply that she heard was loud humming and the muffled sound of turning pages. Rarity nearly sighed. Really: the poor dear simply had to find a way to control her compulsive reading. A means to interface with the outside world would surely be a start.

Reluctantly, she trotted to the end of the row, her trio of books still floating forgotten behind her. The main room of the library soon came into view, as well as the staircase that led up to the upper levels. As she noticed a shadow coming down from the steps above, she smiled to herself; the spines and obvious tail casting the shadow meant that Spike had evidently woken up from his nap. Still, though, something nagged at the back of her mind.

Why is the floor shaking?

Her idle thought was quickly answered, though, when Spike's shadow reached the final stair, and the dragon himself came into view.

Her hoof automatically flew up to her horn, her eyes widening in surprise. Sure enough, a purple-and-green-spined dragon stood there on the steps—but this was no lanky teen, no gangly adolescent. This was a true man of a dragon—a god, almost—his toned and towering body filling the staircase that he descended from. Spike had been nowhere near this huge—a barely-adequate description, she reminded herself, eyes roving hungrily over his muscled body—when she'd last seen him. This dragon—this beautiful, wondrous dragon—had to be twice her size, almost. More!

His arms were thick with corded, bulging muscle; his chest was packed with layer after layer of powerful, stacked strength. Each one of his claws could have taken her up with ease and—she nearly fainted with awe—held her up as though she were no more than a stuffed animal.

His tail was an enormous, extra limb, swinging behind him and knocking into the walls with each thunderous step he took. His clawed feet—oh, how could she have ever called them "small?" The things were simply enormous!—dug deep into the wood, often crushing three or four steps beneath them each time Spike moved forward.

Finally, he emerged into the library's main room in all of his titanesque glory. His muscle rippled powerfully with each breath he took, his arms bulging nearly as large as his head as he took a final step forward. He leaned forward, bowing down and slouching so that his head only scraped the ceiling. Rarity stared, too dumbfounded to do more than take it all in.

"Uh." It took her a moment to realize that the rich, deep vibrations that had rippled through her body were, in fact, Spike's voice. His enormous shadow fell over her, and he licked his lips with a tongue that would have covered her entire face. "Hey, Rarity."

It was simply too much.

Rarity fell back, fainting onto a conveniently-placed pile of books. The last thing that she heard before passing out completely was Twilight's voice, calling her name.

Chapter Two: The Elephant in the Room

Twilight looked down at the floor. Rarity was sprawled across a heap of volumes of The Equine Librarian's Almanac, her hoof held over her face and her eyes shut tight. She looked back up, her eyes tracing hesitantly across the empty air until they met a patch of air that was decidedly not empty.

She resisted the urge to hold in a whimper. She usually wasn't sure about royal protocols outside of those referenced in the little pamphlet that Celestia had given her, but she was fairly sure that whimpering was fairly high up on the list of Things Royal Alicorn Princess Aren't Supposed To Do.

So, instead of giving into her animalistic instinct to run away and cower from the hulking shape before her, she squared her hooves, held her chin high into the air...and blinked.

"Spike?" she asked, disbelievingly.

The giant dragon—as evidenced by its spines and scaly tail—tilted its head to the side. "Hi Twilight," a deep voice rumbled. It took her a moment to realize that it was the dragon speaking, its purple-and-green mouth moving in a disturbingly familiar fashion. "I, uh, feel kinda weird. And do you know why Rarity fainted?"

"Spike." She said his name again, turning it over in her mouth and trying to associate the image of the lanky, teenaged wyrmling with the hulking best standing before her. Even as she watched him, his chest flared outward, pectoral muscles the size of her head inflating with a single inhaled breath. When next she spoke, she couldn't help the deadpan tone that slipped into her voice. "You feel weird?"

"Well, yeah." Spike—judging by the coloration, if nothing else, she felt assured that this was, at the very least her Spike—nodded, shrugging. She winced as one of his broad shoulders scraped against the side of the wall, gouging out a worryingly large hole. Spike himself seemed not to notice the crash of wood against the floor. The spines on his head, brushing against the ceiling, said something more about his sheer size. "Pretty weird, actually. Not just kinda."

"And I wonder why," Twilight said under her breath. She looked up at him, her neck straining as she tried to fit him into the edges of her vision. "I think I know why you feel weird—you're huge!"

He straightened up in reflex, his eyes widening—and as a result, smashed his head straight into and through the ceiling. "Ouch!"

Twilight's jaw dropped. "Spike! I just paid the last property damage bill last week!"

"Sorry! Sorry!" She could feel the sound of his deep voice as it rippled across her coat. Spike held a clawed hand to his forehead—a notoriously long-clawed hand, she thought, noting the fact that just one of his claws was now as long and wide as her neck. "What do you mean, huge?"

"Spike." Twilight spoke slowly, looking up at him with one of the most bewildered expressions she'd ever managed to summon. "You just smashed your head through the ceiling."

"Yeah. So?"

She groaned. "Let that sink in."

Spike looked at her, then at the ground, and then at the ceiling. Then back at his toes. Then...

"Holy crap—I'm huge!"

"We do not use that language in this household!" Twilight barked. "Spike!"

A wide, toothy grin was spreading across Spike's face as his eyes roamed hungrily over his new body. "I—whoa. This is incredible!"

"You are rather enormous," she admitted. "But Spike! I do not want to hear that word from you again, mister. Do you understand?"

Spike nodded vacantly, though he was too busy admiring his enlarged physique to really care. He was huge. He was enormous. He was friggin' gigantic was what he was! He stood up a little straighter, letting out a slow sigh of wonder as his spines scraped against the hole that now sat in the middle of the ceiling. He glanced down at his stomach, feeling a strange feeling of...power there—a feeling of solidness. He clenched his abs tight, his smile broadening as he noticed the two rows of muscles flex and grow there. He lifted a claw, hesitantly, and stroked it across his chest. His pectoral muscles were huge, pushing out from his chest and almost blocking the view to his legs. His six pack felt like a line of rocks—no: a line of diamonds.

He flexed an arm; for an instant, he was a hatchling again, holding up his 'ceps for the mirror to admire. But this time, the muscles were real. He felt momentarily disappointed that there wasn't a mirror to show him the full glory of his physique, but was quickly won over by the ways that his muscles seemed to ripple beneath his scales, his biceps and triceps together flexing into a corded sphere even bigger than his head. He flexed harder, his fangs flashing out of the side of his mouth as veins pressed against the inside of his skin, showing on the exterior of his arm.

"Whoa," he breathed, flexing on and off a few times to get the full effect. He held up the other arm and flexed that one too, just to be sure. He was pleasantly surprised, then, when the sheer bulk and volume of both limbs managed to fill up the entire walkspace in the corridor between the stairs and main room. It felt so amazingly tight, his powerful bulk pushing up against—and cracking—the weak, paper-thin plaster.

"Spike!" Twilight scolded. "You stop that, right now! I'm not going to make the Princess pay for even more repairs!"

It seemed, though, that Spike couldn't hear her. His eyes roamed down toward his hips, passing his muscled pelvis and admiring the ways in which his thick, corded thighs rubbed against each other with their sheer mass. His feet dug into the ground, with each one looking bigger and stronger than he'd been as a hatchling.

He felt something behind him and turned to get a better look. There, his tail waited behind him. Unlike before, it seemed to be four times the thickness, and five times the length. It was an enormous, strength-filled organ, and he watched with unbidden glee as it swayed eagerly in the air, far above the ground.

The simple act of turning, though, seemed to have set off something else. With a grunt, Spike felt a sudden itch between his shoulder blades...and then a push that spread out across his back, nerves coming alight as two somethings flared out behind him.

Wings. He had wings..

He looked them over as best he could, with moisture in the corners of his eyes. Wait a few more years, Twilight had told him. You'll get them; don't worry. He'd taken the news as best he could, watching Rainbow Dash soaring in the sky every morning and wishing that, just maybe, he could join her in the air, too. And here they were.

They felt alien—two extra limbs held out from his upper back. He tried, experimentally, to stretch one out further, and was pleasantly surprised when it flared out with a woosh of air, its thick membrane letting just the barest amount of light stream through its veined surface. Spikes tipped the edge of each one, and as he pulled them back in and pushed them out again—just to feel their presence once more—he was rewarded by the sudden crash of a bookshelf toppling to the ground on either side of him.

Spike finally registered the damage he'd caused, flushing. "Whoops."

He looked back toward Twilight. Her jaw was still open, though she seemed to be trying her best to close it again. Her eyes was twitching.

"Spike," she said slowly. Dangerously, even. This was the I'm angry at you, mister, but I'm not going to show it. tone. He flinched in anticipation. "What did you do?"

"Nothing, I swear!"

"You had to do something!" she barked. She held up a hoof, gesticulating wildly about his oversized form. "Something like...this doesn't just happen overnight! How?"

"I don't know!" Spike held up his encyclopedia-sized hands in protest, wincing as Twilight glared at him.

"Did you get into my experimental spells again?"

He shook his head. She raised an inquisitive eyebrow.

"Any of the chemicals? Those can be pretty unpredictable if you touch them the wrong way."

Another shake.

Twilight sighed. "Then...why? How?"

Spike swallowed. "Uh, I...dunno. I guess I just kind of...woke up this way?"

A groan was the only thing that answered his reply. "Great. Just great." She glanced about the room, eyes scanning over the various destruction sites scattered around the library. "We're looking at another...two hundred bits for repairs—at least—one of my best friends is passed out on the floor, and," she bit out, savoring the word, "My younger brother is suddenly a gigantic, overmuscled, towering dragon."

Spike gave her a hesitant grin. "Well...when you put it that way..."


He blinked. "Huh?"

"Outside." Twilight jabbed a hoof toward the door. "We're going to the doctor to see if there's a problem here. Right now."

"But Twilight..." Spike's whining sounded just as pathetic, he noted, even when done with a much deeper voice. Twilight, at least, did not look impressed.

"I said, now." She frowned up at him. "I swear, if this is another greed growth thing..."


The look in her eyes softened. "Look," Twilight said quietly, meeting his gaze. He had to shuffle a bit, more than somewhat uncomfortably, to look straight at her without bumping his head into the ceiling again. He settled for a half-sort of crouch, which brought him down closer toward the floor, albeit still two feet higher than Twilight's head.

"I'm worried about you, Spike," she murmured. "I don't want you to be sick, or hurt, or...or anything."

He blinked. Was that a tear in her eye?

"And..." Her voice was choked up, and she averted her gaze. "I don't want to lose my little brother again."

Images flashed through his head—of being a mountainous, single-minded brute, tearing through Ponyville in a storm of rage and blind greed. Scaring Twilight. Attacking Rarity. Spike shivered.

"I'll go," he rumbled. He bowed his head.

Twilight looked back up at him, a small smile on her face. A wing unfurled from her side and reached up to brush against his cheek. "Thank you, Spike," she whispered.

"So what do you think, Doctor Hoofdall? Is he okay?"

Twilight bit her lip, her eyes flickering over to the blue-maned doctor. Doctor Hoofdall was currently balancing on the top of a stepladder, peering into Spike's cavernous maw with the aid of a flashlight that Twilight had levitated beside her. Spike himself was crouched down as far as he could, doing his best not to cause too much damage. Sure, the door to the doctor's office had been a little bent outward when he'd tried to crawl through—okay, fine, a lot bent—and maybe he'd accidentally ripped one or two doorknobs off of their hinges in an overeager attempt to come inside. What mattered was that he hadn't crushed the operating table that sat safely off to the side of the room, and that he'd only flattened one of the chairs in the waiting room.

His stomach grumbled. Loudly. He might've attracted more than his fair share of stares, glares, and general surprise on the way here, but he'd be damned—darned, he corrected himself, eyes flickering back down to where Twilight sat—if he went any longer after this without getting food from somewhere.

"Can you tilt your head to the side a bit?" Hoofdall's voice echoed in his mouth, her head nearly fitting entirely in the space between his oversized jaws. He quickly obliged, doing his best to keep his much longer, sharper teeth from accidentally puncturing her skull. As she peered around a particularly large canine, he shifted on his feet, trying to stay comfortable when he couldn't even stand up for fear of putting his head through to the second floor. As it was, his bulk filled most of the small room, anyway; Twilight had suggested conducting the exam outside, but the doctor wouldn't have it.

"Hm..." Dotor Hoofdall stroked her chin and pulled her head back. Spike was more than happy to close his mouth again at her signal. "No sign of mouthrot, or any kind of draconic gingivitis."

Twilight leaned forward. Spike could've sworn that her eyes were sparkling beneath the sterile glow of the fluorescent lights above them. "Is there anything else? Did you find anything that could have caused his growth?"

Hoofdall to a second to consider that before shaking her head. "Nope. By all accounts, he's a perfectly healthy, hearty, maturing dragon."

Twilight sputtered. "But—but—but this!" she finally choked out, waving her hooves in Spike's general direction which, thanks to his bulk, wasn't very hard to do. "This isn't normal. This can't be normal!"

Hoofdall sighed. "Miss Sparkle, after the last episode, I took the opportunity to order some journals from Manehatten on draconic biology. I can assure that this is not a greed-growth problem."

Twilight bit her lip. "How can you be so sure?"

"Well, for one thing, he's been completely cooperative, anything but kleptomaniacal, and in fact, rather pleasant to talk to." The doctor peered over at Twilight past her cracked, circular glasses. "Miss Sparkle, there's no reason to suspect that this is anything more than your average teenage dragon growth spurt."

"Growth spurt? He grew two and a half feet in two hours!"

"And I've told you already," Doctor Hoofdall said, sounding more than a bit irritated. "There doesn't seem to be any problem with him."

One look into the doctor's eyes was apparently enough to persuade Twilight that any further argument would be pointless. "...Fine," she finally conceded. "Maybe there's nothing physically wrong with him."

"Physically, yes."

Twilight's eyes widened. "But mentally?"

Hoofdall whinnied, giving a low-pitched snort. "His ego's going to grow as large as his muscles, for one thing." She nodded over her shoulder. Twilight followed her gaze.

Sure enough, Spike had managed to find the mirror on the inside of one of the cabinet doors and was currently flexing into it, letting out soft "oohs" and "ahs" as his muscles bounced and swelled on his reflection's arms. He took in a deep breath and held it, his chest muscles bulging at least a foot away from his chest as he beheld them with glee.

"...Yeah, I can see what you mean." Twilight rolled her eyes. "Come on, then, Mr. Haycules. We're leaving."

Spike pouted, the expression managing to look moderately horrifying splayed across a hulking, mammoth-sized dragons' face. "Aww."

"Thank you, Doctor Hoofdall." Twilight gave the doctor a weak smile. "I'll be happy to get the bill back to you within the week."

"Take your time." The doctor waved a hoof dismissively. "Truth be told, I'm more than happy to get a chance to watch Spike mature; it's not often in Equestria that we get to see a dragon's maturation firsthoof. The last such incident was...less than helpful, but I do look forward to seeing how much he'll grow."

How much he'll grow.

Twilight felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end, a shiver rippling across her coat. For a single, terrifying moment, she envisioned a hulking titan of a giant: a monster of purple and green scales that stood so tall that one foot could cover the entirety of Ponyville, the Smoky Mountain barely coming up to its ankle. How much he'll grow? How much will he grow?

She forced those feelings back down. Spike's big, curious eyes looked down at her from his squatting position. What did it matter if his arms were as big around as her whole body, or that her head only came up to his belly button? It was still Spike, after all.

"It's still Spike," she murmured, a soft smile on her face.

"What was that?"

"Nothing." Twilight flashed the doctor a grin. "Thanks again."

"Any time, Miss Sparkle."

A sudden rumbling echoed through the room. Twilight flinched on reflex, only opening her eyes once she was sure that an Ursa Minor had't invaded Ponyville again.

Instead of a rampaging ursine, though, all she saw was a sheepish-looking Spike, with one oversized hand resting on his muscled stomach. A soft red colored his cheeks, and she heard another rumble coming from his belly.

"Come on, mister." She chuckled, feeling much more lighthearted than she had before. "Let's get you some lunch."

In an empty room, Rarity's eyes shot open.

For a moment, she felt woozy. Where was she? How had she gotten here? Squinting, she waited until her sight cleared of spots. Finally, her vision resolved into something that she could actually see: she was staring right out of a window and into a collection of tree branches that stretched off into a bright blue sky.

She reached out an unsteady hoof, flopping it an a decidedly unladylike manner before coming into contact with a hard surface. She prodded it. Her hoof brushed against something soft. Something was lingering on the edge of her mind, she felt: something that she knew was important.

And then she remembered: Spike.

Rarity sat straight up, the blanket sliding down from her neck and onto the floor. She looked around, eyes wide; she seemed to have been placed on a couch and left to rest following her...episode.

The image flashed across her eyes again, and it took all of her will not to simply swoon, right then and there. That tall, massive figure. That bulging, perfectly-sculpted physique. Those toned, powerful scales.

Rarity sighed, fluttering her eyelashes at nopony in particular. She couldn't imagine how that wonderful, incredible dragon that she'd seen before could possibly be her little Spikey-Wikey, but unless there was another purple, green-spined dragon wandering around Twilight's library, he couldn't possibly be anyone else. And Celestia, what a dragon.

"What a dragon," she breathed. "Magnificent." She felt a heated blush rising to her cheeks, and hastily brushed her mane out of her eyes lest it frizz from her...enthusiasm.

Her hoof, still resting on the table, brushed against something: a piece of paper. Once Spike's glorious image had faded sufficiently from her mind, she levitated it with her magic and delicately unfolded it to see what was written inside.

She had indeed fainted, the letter confirmed, and Twilight had put her to rest on the couch in the library's upper loft. One quick look around at all of the books surrounding her more than affirmed that statement. Furthermore, Twilight and Spike had gone out to the doctor's to find just what was wrong with Spike. The note ended with a request for Rarity not to panic, and a reassurance that everything would be fine.

Rarity silently fumed. What was wrong? There was nothing wrong with Spike! How could there be anything wrong with such a beautiful, enormous, bulging...

She idly wiped her hoof on the side of her mouth, catching a thin line of drool before it could hit the ground.

She shook her head. Well, that simply wouldn't do. She had an obligation to find Twilight, assure her that this wonderful blessing of thick biceps and towering muscle was anything but a curse...

...and to perhaps see him again.

Breath fluttering in her chest, Rarity steeled her resolve. She had a mission, and by Celestia, she would carry it out.

Chapter Three: A Big Appetite

"So I can really get anything I want?"

Twilight shot Spike a side glance. She could swear that he looked just a little bit bigger than when they'd entered the doctor's office. His strides were a bit longer, his muscles bulged just a little bit more, and his head looked as though it'd shot up at least a few more inches since they'd left. On a dragon as large as Spike was getting, though, a few inches was a pretty paltry number when compared to over eight feet of broad-shouldered, hulking dragon muscle.

Still, though, she couldn't shake the feeling that he was swelling, outwards as much as upward, with his chest and arms inflating in size and muscle with every powerful breath that he took. His every stride left a deep gouge in the dirt road, his lengthy claws raking through the earth whenever he lifted his titanic feet. Ponies all throughout town watched him go, eyes wide as saucers. Some looked upset; others looked terrified. Some looked angry, and others just seemed plain confused. But all of them gave him—and Twilight by extension—a wide berth, evidently not wishing to get too close to the draconic mammoth skulking down the street.

Twilight bit her lip, swearing inwardly at the obvious nervousness in everypony's eyes. They'd only just gotten used to a teenage Spike walking throughout town, and that was before he'd grown so huge that he had to duck down to his waist in order to avoid destroying every doorway he walked through. I'm lucky that they know me well enough to give us the benefit of the doubt; otherwise, I don't know what would stop them. To be honest, she didn't blame them. If she were a random townspony, and saw Spike in his...embiggened state, she'd be afraid of another dragon attack, too.

Spike, for the most part, seemed not to notice, but she could see the flicker within his eyes that suggested something more. For all his life, he'd been a social creature, albeit a snarky, sarcastic, nap-loving one. Now, he could see the distrust and surprise in everypony's eyes, and she knew that he was old enough to know what it was. His tongue, forked and long enough to wrap several times around Twilight's torso, flickered out between his lips as he squared his (admittedly impressively-sized) shoulders.

Twilight turned to look up at him as they walked, passing through the town square. She did her best to keep a smile on her face, though the small sliver of worry that not everything was okay still lurked in the back of her mind. "Within reason," she said, meeting his eyes. "Though I did just get a bonus from the Princess that I've been meaning to spend, so I'll do my best to get a bit extra."

As if in reply to her offer, Spike's stomach rumbled, and loudly. A few ponies nearby looked around with a frantic look in her eyes; Twilight guessed that they thought that it was an earthquake, or maybe another bunny stampede.

She herself only put a hoof to her mouth, giggling as Spike's digestive system made its displeasure known as best it could. It really was no surprise. With a build as huge as that—her eyes flickered involuntarily over his thick, chiseled abdomen, and his bulging calves, measuring, calculating, and analyzing—it was no surprise that he'd need so many calories just to keep going. If his recent...activity was any indication, she noted, shifting a bit uncomfortably as she noticed his pecs bulging out a little further than she remembered, he was probably still growing, and would likely need even more food as a result.

For a moment, she pondered that situation, running a few calculations through her head, and shivered. Where am I going to get enough money to feed him at this size? And if he gets any bigger? Twilight swallowed.

For his part, though, Spike seemed overjoyed. "That sounds great, Twi." She was getting used to his deeper, rumbling voice, albeit more slowly than she'd like. "I'm starving. I could eat a house!"

She almost flinched. He noticed, giving an awkward chuckle. "Bad choice of words, huh?"

Twilight snickered—she couldn't help it. "Maybe a little bit," she admitted. She was again reassured, though, that this really was Spike underneath that ton of muscle: that it really was her baby brother hiding inside of that mass of bulk and power.

"And here we are," she finally said, coming to a stop. Spike halted beside her, his feet digging deep into the ground as his weight sunk into the tender soil. "The Ponyville marketplace."

Ponyville had grown in the past few years since Twilight had moved there. Not enough to have any big buildings, retail stores, or—more relevantly—major shopping markets, but enough to have swelled the ranks of its market vendors until they filled a rather large pavilion near the center of town. Everything was sold there: from apple carts to a carrot stand, to three different bakeries and at least two delis, there was something for everyone in the Ponyville Marketplace.

Spike's stomach grumbled again, and he exchanged a look with Twilight. She paused, sniffing the air as a delectable smell crossed her nose. Her neural patterns were instantly put to work, firing off as she attempted to analyze and dissect the source of the scent. Savory...a trace of salt. Approximately thirty percent hydrocarbons by weight, and—

Spike lifted his oversized snout into the air and sniffed. "Mm... Hey Twilight, do you smell that?" A soft, dreamy grin crossed his face, with one lethal-looking fang sticking out over his upper lip. "Egg-and-spinach quiche. My favorite."

Within a moment, Twilight had gotten it. "That's it!" she exclaimed. "It's a quiche of some kind—probably with egg. Hey, Spike?"

She paused, looking around and noticing that her much larger compatriot wasn't beside her. "...Spike?" she said, in a slightly smaller voice. Darn it. How could you lose an eight-and-a-half foot dragon?

In seconds, though, she'd found him again.

"Hey, buddy! Whataya think you're doing?"

"Spike!" Twilight barked, cantering up to him. "What is going on here?"

Spike looked down at her, a sheepish grin on his face. "Well...Twilight...you see—"

"This big...brute just stomped up to my stall and started grabbing everything it could see!" The vendor sputtered, his Manehattan brogue coming out with his obvious agitation. "The hay is up with that?"

"Excuse me!" Twilight said sharply. She rearranged her wings on her back, the feathers reflexively flexing outward as her cheeks flushed a bright pink. "That beast happens to be my brother. And though I apologize for any trouble he may have caused you, that does not give you the right to call him names like that!

"As for you," she went on, turning to give Spike her best I-know-what-you-did-Mister glare, "What do you say?"

Spike looked down. A mountain of pastries, pies, and other baked good were piled high in his cradled arms. His beefy biceps were wide enough to make a large-enough "basket" to hold a veritable feast. "But Twilight—"

"Nope. What do you say?"

Spike rolled his eyes, though she noted the flicker of apology in his eyes. "Sorry," he finally muttered.

Twilight perked up an ear. "What was that? I couldn't quite hear you."

"I'm sorry I took your stuff," Spike blurted.

"There we go." Twilight smiled pleasantly before turning back to the vendor. "And you, sir?"

He stared at her with wide eyes, mouth hanging slightly open. "W-wings," he stammered, blinking rapidly. "And a h-horn. You're that Princess."

She tilted her head to the side. "Perhaps. Now, do you have something to say to my brother over here?"


Twilight nodded. She tapped a hoof impatiently, hoping to get her point across. To his credit, Spike did a wonderful job of Looming Over Everything beside her, his massive bulk casting an impressive shadow over the stand, though it was more incidental than anything. At his size, she'd be more impressed if he couldn't manage to loom over somepony.

The vendor swallowed. "I—I'm sorry, all right? I didn't know."

"Very good." The smile returned to Twilight's face, and she turned to nuzzle her saddlebags. Where did I put that bag of bits...? "Now for, the food," she said absently, referring to the mountain of food still held in Spike's bulging arms. "How much will it all be?"

He told her.

Three minutes later, with a substantially lighter wallet and a pleased dragon at her side, Twilight slogged through the center of the marketplace with a bewildered expression on her face.

"That much money for the contents of one stand?" She shook her head. "That's ridiculous! How am I supposed to—"

She was interrupted by a loud rumbling. The sound echoed in her ears, and she followed its source until her eyes came to rest on Spike's well-muscled—if a little rounder—stomach.

There was a beat of silence.

"Oh, you have got to be kidding me."

Spike twisted a claw in his mouth, fiddling between two of his sharper incisors. "I'm still a little hungry, Twi," he said, the sheepish smile returning to his face. "That was a pretty good appetizer, though."

Appetizer? "You hate fifteen pounds of food!" she sputtered. "More, if you count the unused apples that he threw in as well!"

He shrugged. "Well, what can I say?" He flashed her a toothy grin. To his credit, though he did look more than a bit guilty. She decided that she deserved that kind of vindictive satisfaction. "I'm a growing boy."

Twilight groaned, slapping a hoof onto her forehead. "Well, what am I supposed to do now?" She floated her purse back up to her nose, looking it over unhappily. "You cleaned me out entirely, and that was just one stand! I had no idea that I'd need to buy this much food—where will I get the money without going all the way back to the treehouse or asking the Princess for more?"


Twilight blinked, turning around to look over her shoulder. "Rarity!" she exclaimed, eyes widening. "You're awake!"

"But of course I am, darling. Did you think that a small fainting spell could put little old moi out of commission?" Rarity beamed, fluttering her eyelashes before craning her neck upward to look at Spike. "And hello, Spikey-Wikey! You're looking simply smashing today!"

Twilight managed to catch the light blush that rose to Spike's cheeks. "D-do you think so?"

"My dear: I know so." Rarity gave Twilight a wink and took a step closer to Spike. "Now, I couldn't help but overhear that the two of you have a bit of a dilemma, if I may. What was it, again? Something about food?"

"You could say that," Twilight said glumly. She shot Spike a glare and he winced. The sight was more than a bit comical, given that it was a several-hundred pound dragon with over eight feet of height flinching beneath the withering gaze of a pony that came up to only just below his hip. "I've already used up all my money, and Spike is still hungry!"

Rarity took in a sharp breath. "My dears, that simply won't do!"

"Tell me about it," Spike muttered, scratching his stomach. Rarity's eyes, Twilight noticed, tended to linger on his ab muscles for just a second too long. The other unicorn lifted a hoof to rub her eyes before continuing on.

"I suppose I shall have to step in, then." Rarity turned up her nose with a small sniff. "I could never leave a friend in distress."

She opened an eye, giving Twilight a knowing look. A soft smile crossed her face. "It just so happens that I've received my latest profits from my new line of Canterlot dresses, and I just so happen to have them on my person."

Spike's eyes widened as a purse noticeably fatter than Twilight's rose up beside Rarity, its contents jangling enticingly. He licked his lips, entranced.

"I already know what you're going to say. 'No, Rarity; I couldn't possibly have you spend your hard-earned money on me.' But I shall insist." Rarity raised an eyebrow, giving Spike a long, hard look. Twilight thought that she saw something else spark in those bright blue eyes, but for the life of her, she couldn't put her hoof on what. "For what better use is there of one's bits than to aid one's friends?"

Twilight opened her mouth to retort, but another grumble of Spike's stomach made her think the better of it. Instead, she only gave Rarity a tired smile. "Thanks, Rarity. I really appreciate it." She paused. "We really appreciate it, I should say."

Rarity waved a hoof. "Oh, think nothing of it, dear. I'm more than happy to help."

She turned to face Spike, her neck cracking as she did her best to meet his eyes—even when the tip of her horn only just reached his belly button. "Now, dear, what did you want to get?"

There was a hungry look in Spike's eyes. "Well...I can think of a few things."

And so, for the next hour and a half, Spike ate.

And ate.

And ate, and ate, and ate.

He devoured the contents of an entire apple cart in minutes, pouring dozens and dozens of apples down his throat. He chowed through twenty loaves of bread in as many minutes, stuffing his face with biscuits, sweetloaf, and strudels. Pound after pound after pound of fresh-picked produce vanished into his gullet; Twilight felt guilty enough to tip the vendor for psychological counseling after being exposed to the sight that was Giant Spike Eating Everything.

And still Spike ate on.

He gathered up piles of fruits in his arms, throwing them up in the air and letting them fall until they hit the bottom of his stomach. He crammed his cheeks full of taco, pizzas, and hayfries, scarfing down every stray calorie he could find. By the end of it, Twilight would swear that they'd cleaned out the entire contents of at least half the square. Needless to say, quite a few shoppers would go home hungry that day.

She watched with no small amount of awe as another fresh-baked pie disappeared into Spike's mouth. He chewed thoughtfully, his cheeks bulging with buttery crust and apple tart. "Mm," he mumbled. "That's good stuff. Caramel glaze?"

The vendor looked startled. Honestly, Twilight couldn't fault him. It wasn't every day that an eight-foot tall, totally ripped teenage dragon came up to your stall and devoured everything in sight. "Um, y-yes."

"Good stuff," Spike repeated, his voice rumbling in his chest. He popped another whole pie in his mouth, swallowing it whole. "You're a pretty good baker."

"T-thank you." The baker's reply sounded more like a question than a response.

Beside him, Rarity was clearly doing her best to hide the grimace that was clearly displayed across her features. Her formerly bulging purse was now filled with nothing but air; a hopeful glance inside was greeted only by the buzzing of a fly. Oh, please let this be the last one...

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Spike burped. It was a long, low belch, sustained over several seconds, and one that smelt of everything from pears to oranges to fresh-made quiche. "Sorry," he said once it was done, shooting Twilight a grin. Without as much as a by-your-leave, he plopped onto the ground, the earth shaking beneath his massive weight.

One claw-tipped hand slowly rubbed against his belly, his formerly-defined abs now dominated by a bulging, rounded stomach. It was an impressively-sized organ, one that flopped out over his waist, and sloshed as the earth vibrated beneath him. With the way things were going, though, Twilight had no doubt that his metabolism would make short work of it. She squinted, trying to make out Spike's head against the sun. Even sitting down, he was still a head taller than her. Still, she could swear that he hadn't been that close to nine feet just a few seconds ago...

"That was really good," Spike said, letting his hand rest on his stomach. He beamed at Rarity. "Thanks, Rarity. You're a really good friend."

Rarity fluttered her eyelashes in return, taking a step closer and returning the smile. "Why, of course, my dear. All you had to do was ask." She lifted one hoof, stroking it down the side of one of his generously-muscled arms. "Really—I'd do it for any of my friends."

Twilight's eyes narrowed.

Any other thoughts, though, were interrupted by a loud yawn. She turned to look at Spike, whose eyes looked bleary. "Nngh," he muttered, scratching the side of his folded wings. "After all that awesome food, I could use a nap."

"We could go to one of the meadows nearby," Twilight suggested. "They have plenty of space."


Rarity gave Twilight a sharp, almost shocked look. "Have my dear Spikey-Wikey lying out in the cold mud? His pristine scales would get all dirty!"

Twilight raised an eyebrow. "Rarity, I—"

"Oh, but my own Boutique is only just down the road." Rarity smiled pleasantly, running a hoof through her mane. "I'm sure I can offer you a place to rest—to 'crash,' as it were—for a few hours."


"That sounds great, Rarity." Spike gave her a giant smile, hugging his oversized arms to his chest. He yawned again. "Thanks."

Twilight closed her mouth. It was clear she'd been overruled.

Carousel Boutique was quiet when they'd entered. "Sweetie Belle is upstairs, asleep," Rarity had said, turning on the lights with a flicker of her horn. "We should have the place all to ourselves. Isn't that nice?"

Getting Spike inside had been a bit of a challenge, yes, but not one that they hadn't been able to fix with some telekinesis and a bit of yoga that Rarity said she'd picked up from a few ponies out in the country. Besides, Rarity hadn't seemed too bothered by the rather large dent that was now left in the front door. At least her entrance was a pair of double doors, which had made the whole experience much more pleasant.

Twilight didn't miss the way that her friend's eyes had slid across her when she said all to ourselves. To be honest, though, she couldn't bring herself to care. She was just happy to have somewhere to rest her hooves after that harrowing ordeal.

A trickle of something cold and uncomfortable trickled down her spine. And that's just lunch...

We're going to have to do that every meal.

On every day.

For the rest of his life...

Twilight gulped.

I think I need help.

"Oh, Twilight. Doesn't he just look so precious?"

She flashed back to reality, glancing over at Rarity. The white unicorn stood over Spike's head, peering down at him with her hoof over her mouth. He was laying sprawled out on the floor, lying on top of a trio of mattresses laid out in a row to better accommodate his bulk.

"Well, I shouldn't say precious, really," Rarity said, giggling into a hoof. "Not for a creature as large and beautiful as he. Truly, my dear—have you ever seen someone so strong and...well, manly?"

Twilight blinked. A haze had seemed to have descended over her mind, fuzzing up her thoughts as she did her best to put two and two together. Her thoughts were rather violently interrupted, though, when she realized that something was happening.


"And his arms—simply divine! That chest." Rarity shuddered with evident glee.


"And—sorry, darling. Pardon me. Did you say something?"

Twilight gulped. "Is it me, or is he growing again?"

As she watched, Spike's limbs stretched out further and further away from his body. Already, she could see layers of muscle adding up on top of his already-massive physique. This wasn't a slow change, like what she'd observed over the past few hours. No: this was an active, fast growth spurt—and if the volume of food he'd consumed had anything to do with it, a big one, too.

Beside her, she could hear Rarity's quiet, awestruck voice.

"Oh, dear."

Chapter Four: Blown Out of Proportion

Spike felt numb. A pleasant sort of haze had descended over his mind, clouding his thoughts and filling him with a collection of warm, fuzzy sensations. More than anything else, he felt full; absently, he raised a clawed hand to stroke against the bulging mound that served as his stomach. An idle thought ran through his mind: I don't remember being that fat...

His eyes fluttered as a sudden throb of pleasure went down his spine. That felt good. What was it, though?

He felt it again: stronger, and with a longer duration. It felt like a sort of electric shock that dances along his muscles, quivering at the tips of nerve endings, and heating up his draconic blood. A small smile tickled at his mouth, his eyes still closed shut. He wanted more of it—he wanted to feel it again.

And so he did.

As Twilight and Rarity watched, his limbs began to lengthen, stretching out across the floor. For Spike, he had the oddest sensation of being stretched, with an odd tension filling out his joints and tendons. It was a pleasurable feeling that covered his muscles, rippling across his beefed-up biceps as his arms and legs inched across the floor. His spine grew out longer, too, his back arching as he hit nine feet in height and then passed it. Nine-foot-one. Nine-foot-two. Nine-foot-three.

He groaned, shifting on the floor and feeling his armsockets pop and moan with him. Already, his stomach was deflating, its immense store of calories slowly depleting in order to feed his growing mass of dragon bulk. Beneath his enormous, burgoning weight, the cement floor of the Carousel Boutique cracked and moaned as his growing, bulky tail lashed out behind him. His spines stuck out from his head, rock-hard and completely rigid, each one larger than a pony's head.

Twilight's eyes went wider as Spike stretched out his legs, his joints popping and a deep yawn emerging from his throat. His long-clawed toes actually reached across the room by now. Several hundred pounds of pure muscle made up his thick, powerful legs, thighs sculpted like marble reaching high into the air as his legs pushed against the opposite wall.

As the back of his neck rode up the wall behind him, head and feet pushing up into the air as the space between them got narrower and narrower, Spike's eyes fluttered open.

He gasped. The sudden intake of air was enough to send a current of wind through the ponies' manes, ruffling Rarity's hairdo and rippling across Twilight's clear-cropped bangs. His chest inflated impressively as another surge of growth pulsed through his system, his legs stretching out a little bit farther and becoming a little bit thicker.

"I—I'm growing!" he breathed. His deep voice was even lower—nearly as low as Big Mac's earthy tones. "I'm huge! Huge-er!"

"We can see that!" Twilight's mouth dropped as Spike's shoulders shuddered, the muscle actually rippling—visibly under his skin as he grew, and then grew some more.

The feeling was almost indescribable. The last time he'd grown, Spike had been asleep. This time, though, every bit of growth was made clear to him. His spine shivered as his fingers grew out, his hand broadening until he could hold a pony comfortably in the palm of his hand. His head inched upward—soon ceasing to "inch" and just speeding into the air instead. He passed eleven feet, and then twelve feet without breaking a sweat, but still, Spike grew on.

"My models!" Rarity shrieked, her hoof flying to her mouth as Spike's growing tail lashed out behind him, knocking over a full assembly line of mannequinns displaying her dresses. Spike barely heard her, though; all of his attention was fixated on that feeling of growth that suffused his mind, throbbing with power and heat with every new flex of his growing muscles.

The giant grew even bigger, his scales straining outward in a feeble attempt to hold in the mounds of muscle that wove beneath his skin. His biceps swelled outward—sixty inches, sixty five, seventy—until they bulged bigger than his head, unflexed, and resembled nothing more than two enormous pumpkins that bulged out on his arms. His triceps, perfectly shaped, made up the other side of his wide-flaring arms; his thickening forearms were of a size to nearly make Rarity's eyes roll up into her head alone.

He soon passed thirteen feet, his head riding up further toward the ceiling. He grunted in a mixture of pain and pleasure; with how huge his body had grown, he was pressed firmly between the two walls that made up this corridor of the Boutique. His wide, long-toed feet pushed against the opposite wall, the plaster cracking and straining as his huge, powerful muscles pushed against it. As another surge of growth struck him, he felt his head fly back against the wall behind him, a powerful roar emanating from his throat.

Pectoral muscles bulged out from his chest, their size only dwarfed by the rest of his muscled form. He flexed them on reflex, the two giant mounds of muscle and flesh growing a little bit larger at his command. He was almost floored by how good it felt—such power! Such strength! It filled his veins, flowing through his every thought, and he grew even larger.

Finally, the walls could take no more. With a few more cracks that grew into a shattering of wood and cement, his feet and shoulders broke through the sides of the room, collapsing the plaster around him as the house itself made room for his giant, godlike body. His wings flared out around him before returning to his back, and he groaned as they grew a few more inches in wingspan and thickness. His muscles rolled around his body like a protective shell; even as he watched, his six pack grew in both size and definition, becoming even sharper with each inch that he added to his incredible height. Abs like nopony had ever seen bulged proudly from his midsection, covering ever scale that hadn't been taken by his godlike pecs.

The feeling was indescribable: on and he grew, passing fifteen feet and still not slowing down. He was only partway there, and he loved it. Some bestial, instinctual part of his brain knew that even when this growth spurt was finished, there would still be more to come. There would always be more. He knew that he couldn't get enough—the feeling; the tightness, the stretching; the sensation of more and more and more

His mindless pleasure was only broken through, finally, by the sound of a high-pitched shriek. Spike snapped out of his growth-induced haze, his giant, bleary eyes focusing dimly on Rarity.

"Sweetie Belle!" Her eyes were wide and unfocused, panic covering her face. "She's upstairs!"

"The house is coming down!" A bright purple aura flickered around Twilight's horn. She looked so small, now, Spike realized. Like a toy. At the sound of her words, though, a sick feeling of dread clutched at his stomach and held it tight. "We have to get out of here!"

Sure enough, a low, sickly-sounding groan echoed through the house. The walls around them were cracking, with structural instabilities spiderwebbing across their weakened plaster. Bits of dried paint and old wallpaper fell from the ceiling as the floor above began to disintegrate. Spike's eyes went wide, and he swallowed. Hard.

"We can't leave my sister!" Rarity yelled. "She's taking a nap in her bedroom—she'll have no idea what's happening! She's going to—" Her voice choked off, and she made a mad dash for the stairs.

Before Twilight could react, Spike knew exactly what he had to do.

In one giant, clunky motion, he threw out his arms. At sixteen and a half feet in height, his lanky limbs were easily able to take a hold of Rarity—by now a good six feet away—and Twilight—who was sitting right below him, her mouth wide open in shock. He pulled them into his chest and stood up, power surging through his legs as he pulled himself into an upright position.

His head smashed through the ceiling as though it were made of nothing more than wet tissue paper. The roof of Carousel Boutique had only been twenty or so feet in the first place, and at his current height, Spike almost had to bow down to avoid breaking through the building entirely. His body felt tight—constricted by the too-small house around him, his limbs encircled by cracked plaster and broken wood.

Rarity screamed and shrieked in his grasp, her legs wiggling out of control as she struggled to escape his titanic grip. "What are you doing, you overgrown ruffian? I have to save my sister! I have to—"

"There," Spike said, quickly spotting her. Sitting in a bed not six feet away was a small, white-coated mare. Sweetie Belle looked up at the enormous dragon with wide, fearful eyes as specks of plaster fell down on her from the ceiling. Spike briefly debated trying to grab her, but she was too small, and with this amount of time, he didn't know if he could afford the time that it would take to seize a smaller, adolescent filly if his limbs were still too huge and unwieldy to use with any sort of precision. So, he settled for the bed. Taking the sides in between his right hand and switching Twilight over to Rarity's side—the former seemed too shocked to resist, her jaw still hanging wide open and a few useless sparks sizzling at the tip of her horn—he simply grabbed the bed, lifted it into the air, and hugged it to his chest.

"Let's go!" he roared, and leapt into the air, wings spreading wide behind him. He braced himself.

Crashing through a roof was not fun. It was made no more fun, really, by the three mares held tenuously in his grasp. He hugged them tighter to himself, trying to ignore Rarity's panicked screams and doing his best not to crush them against his bulging chest.

The plaster ceiling was the first thing to go, the wood splintering outward as his diamond-hard spines crashed into them and split them apart. He closed one eye tight, the other one staring unflinchingly into the roof ahead. The Boutique was structured like a real carousel, or perhaps like a tiered layer cake. He had a final layer to break through before they'd be home free.

Clutching his precious cargo even closer, his wings flapped once—twice—sending him soaring up through the crashing debris. He grunted in pain as splinters and nails raked across his scales, screws digging into the membranous flesh of his wings. He grunted again, but this time in pleasure, doing his best to ward off the warm haze that signalled another surge of growth. He could feel his limbs stretching, his muscles swelling, and his height growing with each fraction of a second. It was a struggle not to give into that beautiful, wonderful sensation—that feeling of power, of strength, and of sheer pleasure.

With a final flap of his wings, Spike crashed through the roof, his cavernous maw opening wide to roar in defiance.

However, they weren't in the clear yet. He roared again, this time in pain as a heavy construction beam fell down with a thunk on his head, squashing his ear and tearing across his wing. The roar was more guttural, the splintered wood cutting through unprotected flesh even as his growth resurged, weaving across the wing fibers and repairing them, even stronger than before. He managed to steady himself, keeping his friends protected under the girth of his enormous arms as they pressed against his chest.

The beam had done its job, though. Spike was thrown violently off to the side, breaking through the roof diagonally instead of straight up. He was sent flying, tumbling through the air as his wings flapped uselessly around him. The roof came down through the air all around his growing body, his limbs lengthening even as plaster, cement, and debris crashed all around him.

He hit the ground with a muffled grunt. His chin dug straight into the dirt, his eyes shut tight. He did his best, though, to corkscrew in the air so that his belly—and by extension, Twilight, Rarity, and Sweetie Belle—would be held above him instead of being crushed into the dirt by his mountainous, lethal bulk. He roared again as a collection of beams and cinderblocks came crashing down around him, each thumping against one of his bulging muscles, their surface area being too large to be missed, before hitting the ground and gouging out deep, violent holes.

Finally, it was over.

Spike swallowed, his eyes squeezed shut and his arms clamped tight over his chest. Finally, he allowed one eye to flutter open to gauge the destruction. As the dust settled, he was able to see clearly what was left of Carousel Boutique.

The shop had been utterly destroyed.

Where once a proud, beautiful fashion store had stood, shaped by the mind of a mare as intelligent as she was kind, now rested a pile of dead kindling, broken up and disintegrated into tiny, unusable pieces. It was like looking at the aftermath of a hurricane or a tornado, and yet Spike couldn't bring himself to look away.

He watched with dead eyes, dread trickling down his spine to replace the waves of pleasure and growth that had held it only moments before. Carousel Boutique was gone—Rarity's home was gone. Her livelihood. Her career. Her dream.

When the ponies in his arms started shouting at him again, he didn't resist. Instead, he let his arms fall to his sides, simply staring straight ahead at something that he had only seen in his nightmares.

"Sweetie Belle! Oh, Sweetie Belle—thank goodness you're okay!"

Spike's eyes flickered over to his stomach. The ponies he'd held there had tumbled off to the side, Rarity embracing her sister and holding her as though she'd never let go. Her lips were puckered, and her eyes shut tight. Rarity whimpered into her sister's coat, her hoof brushing against her mane as the other wrapped around her shoulders.

"Rarity!" Sweetie Belle was no longer the tiny, adorable filly that she once had been, but even as a younger teen, she was still smaller than her sister. She struggled futilely to escape. "Cut it out! I—I—stop it!"

"Spike!" Twilight's voice cut across Spike like a whiplash, scoring deep marks in scales that couldn't even be scratched by diamonds. With a gulp, he turned to face her.

"I don't know what happened," he whispered. His throat felt dry like the desert, and his tongue like sandpaper in his mouth. "I just—I—"

"You singlehandedly destroyed Rarity's house!" Twilight shouted. Her eyes were wild, her mane unkempt.


Spike and Twilight both turned in a flash to face Rarity as her voice ran throughout the scene of destruction. Even amongst this place of crumbling wood and debris, Rarity still held her head high, her chin tilted up into the air ever so slightly.

"It—it was my fault," she murmured. "I knew, rationally, what the risks were, and I brought Spike into my house regardless. I was responsible for this—from Spike's growth, to the destruction of my shop, and to—" her voice choked up with a swallowed sob—"the endangerment of my Sweetie Belle."

"Rarity..." Sweetie Belle's voice was hushed and somber.


"No buts about it. Rarity shook her head, glaring at Twilight. "Spike is not the one at fault here. I—I have been irresposible. Superficial. Foolish, even." She gave a short, harsh, bark of laughter and shook her head. "Rarity. Such a silly, stupid mare."

She looked up and met Spike's eyes, wider than cartwheels by this point. "S-spike? I'm so very sorry, but I—I must ask for a moment by myself. Can you forgive me?"

Spike swallowed again; her words rang out in his mind, but he didn't hear them. Instead, he only had eyes for the scene of destruction that he, Spike the Dragon, had caused. Smoke and dirt, crumbled rock and broken wood. And beneath it all, over a dozen dresses, the product of a brilliant mind and representative of so much more. All ruined.

Because of him.

"I—" His voice was hushed, and muffled beneath a half-frozen sob. "I did this. Me."

"Spike?" Twilight asked, frowning. "What are you doing?"

His wings flared out behind him. "I did this," Spike breathed. He put his hands against his face, deadly claws scratching along his cheeks. "I destroyed the Boutique. My size—my growth spurt did this."

His wings flared out behind him.

"Spike! Where are you—"

But he couldn't hear her. Instead, iamges flashed across his mind of a titanic beast: of a creature of scales and fire rampaging across the town, laying waste to everything in its path. A creature of greed and hatred and lust, without any sort of rational mind.

A monster.

Without another word, he leapt up into the air, wings spreading wide behind him.


If he'd turned around, he would have seen Twilight running after him, tears streaming down her face. He would've seen Sweetie Belle watching him in shock, and Rarity sobbing quietly into her hooves. He would've seen the skeleton of Carousel Boutique, still smoking and covered in ash and dust and loathing.

But he didn't look back.

Chapter Five: The Lonely Giant

Rarity's sobs came quietly. Her hooves, pressed against her eyes, felt hot and rough against her face. Beside her, Sweetie Belle sat gently stroking her mane, murmuring meaningless comforts into her ears.

Rarity sniffed. The smell of smoke filled her lungs.


Twilight's voice was caught somewhere between a choke and a sob. Eyes blurred and bloodshot, Rarity looked up into Twilight's face.

Her eyes were full of horror and regret. She spoke three words: "Rarity, I'm sorry."

And then she was gone.

Rarity watched the purple haze fade away. In the aftermath of Twilight's teleportation, she rather felt as though her mind were filled with haze as well.

Twilight stumbled across the dirt road, half running and half tripping as she blew through the countryside. Every so often, her horn would flicker with the light of a teleportation spell, and she'd vanish with a pop of air and appear fifty feet farther along.

She didn't know where she was going. Pictures swam through her skull, rendering coherent thought impossible. Spike, towering above the villagers below him. Rarity, sobbing into her hooves. Herself...

Twilight shut her eyes, tears welling up at their corners. And she, Twilight Sparkle, who'd screamed at her little brother instead of comforting him, instead of apologizing for her mistake—

She swallowed. Scratch that. She knew exactly where she was going.

After all, where else would he be?

The Everfree Forest was a scarce fifteen-minute walk from Ponyville; at a brisk canter, it became more like ten. When taken at a full gallop, and with scattered teleportations—some of which took her along the road, and some of which took her a quarter mile to the side; her thoughts were too chaotic, eyes too clouded to possibly care—it only took about four minutes and thirty-three seconds.

Thankfully, it wasn't far. Unthankfully—she momentarily considered the word's status in the Official Trottingham Dictionary before tossing it aside—it wasn't far enough.

She wasn't going into the Everfree itself. She didn't need to. That was probably a good thing, especially considering the fact that she didn't really know if she could muster up the will to defend herself against a wayward cockatrice right now. Instead, she came to the side of a small hill just before the border. Here, the grass still grew green and sweet, while twisted ferns blossomed in the darkness barely a quarter-mile away. Scattered rocks dotted the slope, and her hooves pressed into the soft dirt as she made her way toward the top.

She saw his silhouette first. It towered above even the largest boulder, his shadow stretching across the muddy grass as the sun descended in the sky. He sat facing away from her, great wings folded across his back.

He gave no reaction as she trotted closer, her hooves padding upon the crisp grass below. As she approached, she was again overcome by just how big he was; it hadn't fully registered back at the Boutique, while she was still overwhelmed by the destruction of the Boutique, but here, standing alone on the outskirts of civilization, she was reminded of how, even sitting down, he towered over her, the muscles on his back and shoulders rippling beneath his enormous wings.

She stopped. He still gave no sign that he'd noticed her, and truth be told, she wasn't quite sure how to change that. She bit her lip, the words swimming through her mind.

Spike, I'm sorry.

Spike, I hope you're okay.

She stood there, silent, looking up at his mountainous form and wishing for the words to make themselves appear. The sun was beginning to approach the horizon, and the sky had turned a richer, deeper shade of blue, speckled with spots of gold.

Ultimately, it was Spike who spoke first.

"Applejack saved my life down there once," he murmured. His face was turned away from her. The wind blew across his spikes, and Twilight shivered as it blew through her mane. "A whole pack of Timberwolves were chasing me, and she saved me from them."

He paused. "I don't think I have to worry about Timberwolves anymore, though."

Twilight swallowed, trying to muster up the will to speak. Come on, Sparkle. "Spike, I—"

"I destroyed the Boutique." Twilight couldn't see Spike's face, but she could hear the tremor in his words. "I almost hurt Rarity, not to mention Sweetie as well. If they hadn't gotten out in time..." The words hung in the air like a guillotine, poised over his neck.

"You were the one that got them out safely." Twilight squared her shoulders, standing up straight and tall—though, admittedly, the effect was somewhat lessened by the fact that even with her increased alicorn height, she still only came up to his kneecap, and when he was sitting down, to boot. "Without you, they'd be in the hospital. You saved them, Spike."

Spike gave a harsh bark of laughter. "Without me, they wouldn't even be in that mess, Twilight."

Twilight opened her mouth, and then closed it again.

"Do you know what the worst part was?"

She looked up.

"I enjoyed it." Spike looked over his shoulder, and for the first time, Twilight realized that his eyes were brimming with tears. "In some way, I knew that what I was doing would destroy the Boutique—and I didn't care. It just felt too good."

His voice sounded haunted. "It's like...you know how you've described what magic feels like when it's rushing through your horn? It felt like that, except fifty times more. Fifty times bigger." He shook his head and laughed, though it came out sounding more like a choked sob.

"I felt good—good all over. My arms and legs kept stretching out longer, bulking up until it should've looked ridiculous, but it didn't. I felt strong—stronger than I ever had before. It felt like I was on fire, and the thing was, I liked it. I wanted more and more. I wanted to keep growing and growing. I wanted to show the world how big I could get. I wanted it to keep going and never stop." Spike jerked his head away from her, letting a fat dragon tear fall to the ground. It steamed as it hit, cooking the grass below it.

"I didn't care, Twilight. Today, in the market, I knew that eating everything in sight was just taking advantage of Rarity's generosity. I knew that I shouldn't have gone into Rarity's place. But I did anyway."

She heard a muffled sob. "Is this what I'm supposed to be for the rest of my life? Just like when I was a kid, but this time, having it creep up on me and want more, even when it's turning me into something else? Just eating and growing, getting too lost in how good it feels to care about any ponies or houses that I stomp on?

"I'm a monster."

Those words hit Twilight like a slap across the face.

"Don't you dare." She bit out the words, nearly surprising herself with the sheer amount of venom within them. "Don't you dare call yourself that. Ever."

"But I am."

"Absolutely not!"

Twilight's chest heaved, each breath of air sounding like a strangled gasp. She looked up into Spike's big, wide eyes and glared. "Never say that about yourself again."

"Twilight, I liked it." Spike put his head in his hands. "I told you—I didn't even want to care about Rarity or her house. All I cared about was getting bigger. What kind of pony would do that?"

He gave a harsh bark of laughter. "I guess that's the answer. I'm definitely not a pony."

"You stop that." Twilight steeled herself, scowling up at him. "I'm not going to stand around here and listen to you talk about yourself like that."

"I'm a dragon, Twi." Spike shook his head, refusing to meet her eyes. "All those other dragons we've met—the one on Smokey Mountain, or the one in the Everfree Cave. Or hay—even the ones in the Great Dragon Migration. Would you say that Garble was a particularly nice guy?"

Twilight looked taken aback. "...No," she sputtered. "But—"

"Those dragons didn't care. They knew what they wanted, which was to just keep eating and hoarding until they were bigger than everything else." Spike's eyes glimmered with unshed tears, and he choked back a sob. "Maybe I've just been lying to myself. Maybe that's what I'm supposed to be."

"You aren't...that," she spat, stomping a hoof on the ground for emphasis. "You're my little brother, and that's something that will never change."

"Face it! I'm not your little brother! I'm a dragon, and you're going to have to live with it!"

Twilight took a step back, her coat still standing on end from the force of Spike's voice. He'd stood up on the crest of the hill, his mountain of a body towering above her. With each thunderous breath, thin curls of smoke wafted from the ends of his nostrils, and his wings trembled against his back. On reflex, his arm came up high, enormous claws glinting in the light of the setting sun.

He opened his eyes.

Twilight stood below him, horn raised as if to defend herself from attack. For a moment, he was amazed by just how small she seemed—at his newest size, she was barely wider than his foot—but within an instant, he realized what he'd done.

What he'd almost done.

"Oh, my gosh." Spike took a step back, eyes wide and fearful. He yanked his claws back and held them against his chest. "Twilight, I'm so sorry—I would never—I mean, you have to—"

"A monster, huh?"

He froze. Twilight's face was downcast, but he could catch the barest sign of a smile.

"Would a monster hold back? Would a monster still care?" Twilight looked up at him.

Tears were running down her face.

Spike swallowed.

"Spike, you're not a monster. And no matter how big you get, you'll always be my little brother." Twilight wiped her eyes. "I'm sorry—so, so sorry—that I yelled at you like that. I don't know what I was thinking.

"Can you please forgive me?"

Spike was dumbstruck.

Here he'd stood, claws bigger than the entirety of Twiligt's body outstretched, with fangs poking between his teeth that had to be three feet long. He'd towered over her, a titanesque mountain of muscle and size whose every step made the earth shake—

And she'd only stood her ground, looked up at him, smiled...

...And asked for his forgiveness.

The words were out of his mouth before he even knew what he was saying.

"I forgive you."

Tears glimmered at the corners of Twilight's eyes. "Thank you," she whispered.

Spike slowly sat back down. He squatted into it, bending down to make sure that he didn't break the cliff or sit on Twilight by mistake. Even at this lower elevation—it felt weird talking about his height with a word like "elevation"—his face was still a good six feet above hers.

He bit his lip. "And I'm sorry for destroying the Boutique. I'm sorry for losing control, and I'm sorry for..." He winced. "Well."

Twilight looked at him expectantly.

"I guess that's not important right now," Spike said, bringing a claw to his eye. To his surprise, it came away wet. "But Twilight, can you ever forgive me? A big, stupid lunk like me, who's got more muscle than actual brains?"

Twilight shook her head. "I've said it before, and I'll say it again: there's nothing to forgive." She sniffed loudly, beaming up at him. "But Spike, if it makes you feel better, then yes. I forgive you."

Wordlessly, he held out his arms. With a flash of purple light, she was atop his bicep, gazing into his giant eyes with what he could only describe as endless trust and love.

He curled his arms protectively against his chest. She felt so small like this—like a stuffed animal that had shrunk in the wash—but her presence felt so huge. He wanted to hold her forever, never letting go of that smile, or those eyes, or that magic that he felt whenever she was around.

"I promise you, Spike." Twilight's voice was easy to hear, with her face pressed up against his chest like this. "No matter what happens, we'll find a way through this. I'll always accept you for who you are."

"And that is?"

He could imagine the soft little smile on her face. "My number-one assistant."

He chuckled.

"I love you, Spike."

There was a lump in his throat, but he ignored it. In this moment, there were no regrets, no worries about the future, and no fear or anger for the things to come. Instead, there was only the setting sun, and that feeling of warmth and love against his scales.

"I love you too, Twilight."

Chapter Six: Huge Tracts of Gemstones

"So," Twilight finally said. "You ready to go back to Ponyville?"

Spike shook his giant, mammoth-like head. "No. Not yet."

Twilight blinked.

"I can't go back like this. Not with Rarity's house destroyed." Spike looked up at the sky. "I need to make it up to her."

"Oh, really?" Twilight frowned. "And how do you plan to do that?"

He grinned, toothily, and right then, Twilight knew that her baby brother was back. "Tell me, Twi—have you been to the gem fields lately?"

"So let me sum this up."


"You wanted us to hike out to the gemstone fields in the middle of the night."


"In order to dig up gems."


"Enough gems, that is, to completely pay off any repairs needed for damage done to Rarity's shop."

Spike put a claw to his chin. "Hm...yeah. That sounds about right."

Twiight looked up at him, a small grin on her face. "Never change, Spike. Never change."

He beamed back down at her, seeming a little less gigantic now that he was walking on all four limbs, rather than bipedally as he'd done before. With his tail extending for over a dozen feet behind him, he was no less impressive, but at least this way she could actually look him in the eye.

"We're here!" he finally announced. "The gemstone fields!"

Twilight looked up, her eyebrows going up into her forehead.

These fields had never been known to be a particularly fruitful place; in fact, most plants—aside from the odd acacia tree or bit of tumbleweed—tended to stay out of the area. But now, under the chill, cold moon of the night sky, it seems like a barren wasteland. She shivered. If not for the hills and highlands that bordered the fields, she would have thought that they went on forever.

"Okay, then." Spike looked down at her. "You ready to go?"

Twilight smiled back; she couldn't help it. Spike's enthusiasm was infectious. This is what I want to do, his body language said. This is how I'm going to fix things. And judging by how infectious his optimism seemed to be, she couldn't help but believe it as well.

This will make everything okay.

She felt a little twang in her heart, but shoved it back down. Let's do this.

She nodded up at Spike. "Absolutely! Where do we start?"

Spike hummed to himself. He sat back on his haunches—causing the flat earth to tremble under his weight—and casually stroked his chin. "Y'know, I think most of the gem caches are somewhere over in that area—" he gestured off toward some point in the southwest "—so we might as well start there."

Twilight chuckled. "Well, you're the gem expert. Lead the way, Mr. Mineral."

Lead the way he happily did. Twilight could almost feel the pebbles beneath her hooves shake with each cheery bound that Spike made across the flatlands. As they approached the spot he'd pointed out, she let a bit of magic into her horn, letting the energy swirl and spark at its tip as she prepared her spell.

"Right...here," Spike announced. He gave Twilight a searching look. "Okay; you ready?"

She smirked. "You got it!"

She activated the spell.

There was little chance of matching Rarity's innate special talent—Cutie Marks were funny like that—but Twilight had managed to finagle up something that at least resembled her friend's gemstone-tracking spell. Unlike Rarity's, it was only able to track trace elements of minerals left behind by gemstone formation, but for all intents and purposes, it was enough.

Besides. Twilight's smirk deepened. Rarity's spell might be good for finding small, specific types of gemstones, but they weren't searching for a single-use diamond brooch. The more gems there were, the easier they were to track. And tonight, Twilight and Spike were looking for the motherlode.

The spell flickered to life. Instantly, she felt a magnetic pull on her horn, pulsing with each beat of her heart. She swiveled her head, searching for the source of the pull.

"There!" she shouted, raising a hoof. It pointed straight at a pile of rocks sitting innocuously off to the side. "I'm getting a pretty strong reading from that patch of dirt."

"How deep?" Spike's long tail curled around her shoulder as he stared at the space she'd pointed out.

She reminded herself that his deeper voice would still take some getting used to. Taking a moment to calibrate the spell, Twilight took her tongue between her teeth and made a quick estimate. "About...forty, fifty feet down. Plus or minus five."

"Those are error bars I'm willing to take." Spike snickered before turning and giving her a serious look. "Alright, Twi—stand back. I don't want you getting hurt."

Twilight's expression softened. With another spark at the end of her horn, she vanished before reappearing at least ten yards away. "How's that?" she hollered, a purple shield flickering into existence around her.

Spike rolled his eyes. "Smart-aleck," he muttered fondly.

And then he was off.

Twilight had seen plenty of things, but she'd never seen anything quite like that. She'd seen construction ponies use machines for excavation before—giant, metallic things that dug deep into clay, slashing it from the earth—but Spike was on a whole other level.

Every inch of his twenty-foot bulk was hard at work, digging, cutting, and burrowing into the ground. His tail flailed vigorously behind him with each foot he gained, digging deeper and deeper into the earth. He was like a machine, albeit the biggest one she'd ever seen. Muscles pumped, those giant, bulging abdominals soon becoming slick with sweat as his biceps swelled further and further. His wings held tightly against his back, Spike made short work of any rock or root in his way, his diamond-hard claws slicing through each of them with ease.

Soon, his titanically-broad shoulders had pushed out enough dirt to make a hole wide enough to fit ten ponies, standing side by side. Twilight's eyes only grew wider as Spike's bulk began to disappear under the dirt. It seemed almost impossible that there could exist something larger than he.

Well, there was the Ursa Minor, her logical side reminded her. Not to mention the Ursa Major. And all the other dragons. And the hydra. And—

She made Logical Twilight shut up. It was more fun to just watch Spike work, especially without second-guessing herself through the nagging of a secondary persona.


Her eyes widened. She imagined Spike's opening wide too, his wings flaring out in surprise. With a poof of magic, she was back to standing over the now-enormous hole.

"Did you find something?" she called down.

Spike's grin was wider than she felt it had any right to be, but there was no denying the look of absolute glee on his face. "See for yourself!" He took a step to the side, pointing to one of the walls of the hole.

Twilight's jaw dropped. Sure enough, a heap of sapphires lay pooling at the bottom of the hole. In the moonlight, they glimmered a bright, eerie blue, their hues glinting off of Spike's iridescent scales. As she watched, more and more poured out. There must have been hundreds there!

"Holy crud!" She cut herself off before going into more...explicit exclamations. Even once she'd gotten herself under control again, it was still difficult to contain her newfound enthusiasm. "Do you need a hoof with that?"

Spike looked up at her, and then back down at the heap of sapphires. A few more had leaked out, and almost the entirety of the hole's floor was now covered in bright, shimmering blue. "What do you think?" he called back, snorting.

Twilight smirked.

Two levitation spells later, both Spike and the immense pile of gemstones he'd found sat by the side of the hole. She grinned up at the mound of sapphire, barely noticing that she hadn't even broken a sweat. It was probably just one of the perks of being a super-magical alicorn.

"So," she said, turning to face Spike. He was sweaty, dirty, and probably smelled worse than last week's attempt at potato stew, but his joy was palpable. "You ready to go again?"

He grinned. "Am I ever!"

Four holes and at least a ton of scattered rubies, emeralds, and sapphires later, Twilight knew they were getting somewhere.

She grinned as piles and piles of dirt flew from Spike's latest hole, occasionally landing with a piece of lapis-lazuli or topaz sticking out. It looked like Rarity really knew what she was doing when she came here: it felt like gems were leaking out at the seams!

She was just about ready to holler out to Spike if he'd found anything yet—this cache was deeper than the rest, a whole two hundred feet, and he'd been digging for over thirty minutes—when she felt a sudden weight on her shoulder. She turned around...

...and stared right into the beady eyes of a Diamond Dog.

One high-pitched yelp and a teleportation spell later, she was glaring right back at him—or her, for all she knew—with her chest heaving slowly. She hated being surprised.

"Little pony steal doggies gems." The Dog shook its head, rasping out the words with all of the sense of disappointment it could muster. "Stealing bad, yes?"

It was flanked on either side by two—much larger, Twilight realized—other Dogs, their dumb canine eyes glinting in the dim moonlight. Their coats were brown and flecked with dirt, though muscles rippled dangerously beneath that muddied fur.

When its companions didn't respond, the first Dog elbowed them in the sides. "Yes?" it hissed.

"Yes," one grunted.

"Stealing very bad," the other added in its own gravelly tones.

"Yes, yes; stealing bad," the first one whined. Its eyes narrowed, and it took a step closer toward Twilight. Instantly, her horn came up, her eyes flashing.

"But we're going to teach the pretty pony a lesson, aren't we?" The Diamond Dog giggled. "Show her that ponies shouldn't come out to steal gemstones at night."

It elbowed one of its companions again. "Yeah," it grunted. "At night."

The first Dog groaned.

"Go!" it snarled, its head snapping up as it jabbed a stubby paw in Twilight's direction. "Grab her! Teach pony a lesson!"

In the half-second that Twilight had before the two chunks of muscle hurled themselves toward her, she had enough time to roll her eyes, buff her hooves, and teleport herself directly behind the first Diamond Dog. The larger Dogs made contact with an enormous crash, their imitation "armor" sending noise for miles across the dry landscape.



Twilight watched with an unhealthily large amount of satisfaction as the two Dogs moaned with pain, though she personally doubted that the two brutes had enough neurons between them to feel even one iota through that thick skin.

Hearing the loud pop that had announced Twilight's arrival, the first Dog's head whipped around. It let out a shrill yelp as it saw Twilight directly behind it.

"Agh! Pony is here, not there!" Its claws scraped across its ears as its flunkies tussled on the ground. "Ack! Why does Dog have to do everything himself!"

So he was male. Huh.

With a growl, the Diamond Dog bared his teeth and leapt for Twilight, claws outstretched. She easily batted him away with a wing, barely sparing a thought.

He went sprawling. Hissing and sputtering as he got to his paws, the Dog glared daggers in her direction. "Pony—pony dare attack—"

His words died in his mouth as an enormous shadow fell over him.

"Pony dares do what?"

Twilight giggled. "A little late to the party, aren't we?"

Spike bared his fangs, towering above the downed Diamond Dog, who was now whimpering in fear. "I heard you shrieking like a little filly. I had to come check it out."

His slitted eyes slashed across the air to bore into the Dog's squashed face. "I should rephrase that. Diamond Dog dares attack pony?"

He spat on the ground. It left a sizzling droplet of boiling moisture as large as a golf ball. The Dog whimpered again.

Spike took a step forward, leaving a sizable footprint and making the earth shake beneath his weight. He was back to standing on two legs, and so every inch of his gigantic body seemed to stretch up into the heavens, far above the Diamond Dog's head. Even had it been standing, he would have been more than four times its size; lying prone, and paralyzed with fear, the dragon must have seemed larger than a mountain. The bulging muscles rippling with strength, power, and—undeniably—barely-constrained anger couldn't have hurt the effect either.

"Now," Spike boomed, his voice echoing across the empty fields. With each word, his body tensed a little more, massive biceps, pectorals, and shoulders swelling bit by bit until the poor pup was all but drowning in his giant shadow. "You're going to start off by apologizing to my sister over here, and you'd best do it before I start beating you into a pulp." He appeared to reconsider. "Or before she decides to start reading you a two-thousand page report on philosophical ethics. Your choice."

Within a second, the Dog was at Twilight's hooves, bowing and scraping. Every other word out of its mouth was either a deep, heartfelt apology, or a promise to give her more gemstones than she could carry. She thought she caught the words "untouched, lustful bitches" a few times, too. That gave her some pause.


The Dog quickly shut up.

She took a step forward, looming over its prone form. "You messed up. That much, we've made clear. The question becomes, what are you going to do about it?"

The Dog opened its mouth, but a spell quickly zipped it back up. The Dog whined.

"Now, I don't want any..Diamond Dog females." Twilight winced at the mental imagery. "But there might be something that you can do for me."

Somehow, the Dog managed to break free of its magical gag. "Yes!" it burst out. "Anything—anything! Pretty pony no hurt doggie—doggie help pony!"

Twilight smirked. "How kind of you. Now, from the last time we were here, I remember you lot having a whole cluster of mines beneath this field."

She glanced over her shoulder, back toward the piles of gems that were waiting for them. She thought she could hear the Dog whimper.

She turned back, grinning. "Think you have a minecart big enough to carry all that?"

"Thank you!"

Twilight waved to the pile of defeated-looking Diamond Dogs as she trotted away from the entrance to their mines. Beside her, Spike gave an amused grunt. The cart was hitched to his back, and somehow—she still marveled at his strength—he was managing to pull all several tons of gemstones that lay inside. Once or twice, she'd caught him drooling at the seemingly endless treasures there, but so far, it looked like he was keeping his monstrous appetite in check.

Off in the distance, the sun was beginning to come up. Twilight squinted, peering over the tops of the foothills as the sky turned from black to a deep crimson.

She turned to look up at Spike. "Think this'll be enough?"

His grin said it all. "Ponyville," he rumbled, the gems clanking behind him with each step he took, "here we come!"

Chapter Seven: An Earth-Shaking Homecoming

The dishes were dirty. Already.

Rarity gritted her teeth as a blue aura flickered around the edge of her horn. She leaned over the sink. Sure enough, each plate was blackened, covered in a bizarre mix of char and grease.

"Sweetie," she said quietly. "You wouldn't happen to know anything about these dishes, would you?"

Behind her, Sweetie Belle chuckled nervously. "I, uh, may have tried to make waffles this morning. It didn't turn out too well."

Rarity's head whipped around; Sweetie flinched. "I'd say not," Rarity said. "Well, I suppose that's more for me to do, then."

"Rarity, you know you don't have to help around the house this much. Mom and Dad are just happy to have you back home."

Rarity sniffed. She smoothed her mane back, making sure not to get any soapy water into her coiffure. "That may be so, but I couldn't bear to impose on them like this without doing something to help out." Her nose wrinkled. "Like some kind of unenterprising layabout.

"Besides," she said. "I'm only here until I can get back on my hooves. Someday, I'll have the funds to rebuild the Boutique." She sighed. "Someday soon, I hope."

Sweetie Belle was peering out of the window. "Uh, Rarity?"

"Yes?" Rarity paused, looking up from a pair of dishes that she'd been scrubbing vigorously. Soap bubbles leaked down from their sides and into the sink, burbling as they fell into the drain. "What is it?"

"You might want to come see this."

"I'm a bit occupied at the moment," Rarity said. "In case you hadn't noticed. Don't you have some singing practice to do or something?"

Sweetie Belle turned back to look at her. A wide smile covered her face. "No, really," she said. "You really don't want to miss this."

Rarity rolled her eyes. She let the dishes float back into the sink, the towel she'd been using to dry them folding itself up neatly and going to hang over a nearby bar. "What could possibly be so important as to—"

She froze.

Just down the road, two indistinct shapes were becoming visible. One was a massive, hulking figure; the second a much smaller pony. Both were purple. The former seemed to be towing a large cart behind it, with ropes slung over its wide shoulders.

Something was glimmering there. A stray beam of sunlight caught the surface of the cart, sending vibrant, shimmering colors in every direction. Iridescent shades of purple, green, and silver shone in the morning light.

Gemstones. More gemstones than she'd ever seen in her life.

Rarity's eyes widened. "Spike and—"

"Yup," Sweetie Belle said. Her grin spread even wider. "Looks like you might get the Boutique back sooner than you thought."

"...And that's when we got back into town."

Spike chuckled, jabbing a claw over his shoulder toward the cart beside him. "You wouldn't believe how heavy these things were to carry. Gemstones are actually pretty dense."

Rarity nodded vacantly. All of her attention was taken by two things: the massive dragon on one side of her, and the enormous collection of gemstones on the other.

"...Rarity?" Twilight blinked at her. "Are you feeling okay?"

Rarity put a hoof to her forehead. "Yes, dear," she murmured. "Just feeling a bit wooz—!"

Her vision blurred, her legs suddenly buckling beneath her from a combination of stress, relief, and complete and utter bewilderment. She was falling—

Something caught her. Rarity groaned, shifting her weight. The surface beneath her felt...scaly?

"Sorry. I didn't want you to fall."

Spike looked down at her sheepishly. His giant, draconic face was able to look surprisingly flustered—and adorably so, Rarity would have thought at any other time. One of his massive hands was spread out beneath her, supporting her weight with a single outstretched claw.

She flushed. "Thank you, Spike," she said. "I—er—"

She cut herself off. "I'm sorry for being so incoherent. I'm...I'm merely at a loss for words."

"Are you sure you're not going to faint, at least?"

A bubbling laughter grew in her chest. "Yes."

The claw withdrew. Rarity let out a small "oof" as she went back to supporting her weight with all four hooves, but managed to stay on-balance regardless, if a bit unsteadily.

"Now, let me get this straight," she said.

Twilight nodded.

"The two of you went out to the gemstone fields last night."

Spike inclined his head.

"Worked until sunrise to gather a veritable mountain of precious gems."

Twilight's cheeks colored.

"And even faced against a trio of Diamond Dogs before pulling all of these gems back to Ponyville. All in order to pay for the reconstruction of my Boutique."

"Yup," Spike said. "That about sums it up."

Rarity swallowed. "Oh."

Her voice sounded very, very small.

"So, what do you think?" Spike drew himself up, his chest puffing outward with pride. At another time, Rarity may have appreciated the way that his pectoral muscles bulged out from his chest, the wind breathing across his monstrous physique with each breath her took. At the moment, however, she was feeling overwhelmed in a different way.


"Yeah?" Spike leaned forward, holding his claws together. His shadow easily covered her.


"Yes?" Twilight asked, beaming.

Rarity shook her head. "I cannot possibly accept!"

Spike's jaw dropped.

"Spike, Twilight—this is just too much! I appreciate the thought, but I cannot allow you to give me—little old me—so much material wealth!"

"But it's for the Boutique!" Spike protested. "How else are you going to rebuild!"

"I shall manage. I'll be back up and running in no time at—"


She stopped. Twilight was looking at her, very seriously.

"I know that you don't like accepting gifts like this," Twilight said. "And I know that this may make you feel uncomfortable. But this is for you, and nopony else. Spike didn't spend his whole night digging up gems for himself. He did it because he wanted to make up for what he did." She pursed her lips. "I'm sorry, but to deny his gift now would just be selfish."

Rarity's stomach fell.

"Look...Rarity." Spike's voice was astonishingly gentle despite coming from something so large. "I know that I messed up yesterday. Really badly, too. But all I want right now—more than anything else in the world—is to make things right again."

He let himself back down, crouching on all fours until he was looking her right in the eye. "Please," he said, sounding more vulnerable than she'd ever heard before. "Please, accept these gemstones to rebuild Carousel Boutique. I don't want them, but I do want you to be happy."

Rarity wiped her eyes.

"Thank you," she whispered. "Thank you, Spike."

Spike grinned. "Hey. Don't mention—"

With a stifled sob, Rarity leapt forward. Her hooves held tightly around his closest foreleg—actually his right arm. Covered in rippling muscle and sinews as it was, she could barely fit her hooves around even a fraction of it, let alone reach up high enough to hold onto his chest. But it was enough.

Spike's smile softened. With a slow, gentle movement, he brought his other claw over to Rarity's side. She didn't resist as he picked her up, holding her between his two enormous hands.

She didn't resist either when he leaned back and clutched her against his chest. Her sobs mixed with a muffled laugh. She must look like some kind of bizarre teddy bear in comparison.

""I...thank you," she repeated, tears falling down her cheeks. "I'll never forget this."

Rarity looked over the site. She was surprised at the fact that she no longer had to keep herself under control; there was no fear of breaking down into sobs now. Perhaps that was because she knew that this destruction was impermanent; that from the ashes, a new fashion store would be born.

A smile flickered across her face. Perhaps she would make that into a new fashion line. The Phoenix. Coming soon to stores everywhere in Canterlot.

Her gaze drifted up to the enormous dragon standing beside her. Perhaps she'd make it The Dragon instead.

"So," she said. "What do you think?"

Spike raised his eyebrows. "I think we've got a lot of work to do."

It was certainly true. There was almost nothing left of the Boutique; everything that might have remained had been removed by cleanup crews that morning. If they were to build anything here, they would have to start from scratch.

At least they had the necessary funds. Rarity smiled, a light feeling of warmth in her chest. That had been the first thing Twilight had checked: exactly how much the gemstones they'd found would provide for. As it had turned out, they had managed to find far more than they needed. Even though ponies like Rarity could find as many as they needed, gemstones were still quite expensive for the average mare, and Rarity knew a vendor or two from whom they would fetch a hefty price.

That had been before Twilight had excused herself, leaving her alone with Spike at the building site. She'd said it was to go contact a construction crew that she knew, but she also added that she needed to write a letter.

"To the Princess?" Spike had asked. "About friendship or something?"

Twilight had smiled. It was a secretive little smile. "Something like that," she'd said.

"So," Rarity said, turning back to Spike. "What do you think?" It was an idle question, but the answer that she received surprised her.

"Well," Spike said, "We're definitely going to need a large supply of lumber. We can probably harvest that from the Everfree. From what I remember, most of the securing inside was with three-quarter-inch nails, so we'll have to order a whole lot from Canterlot. The construction ponies should know what to do, but all the same, you should have a general idea of what you want to see—whether it'll be at all similar to what you had before, or whether it'll be something new. You can probably find example schematics in the library—I can show them to you."

He noticed Rarity staring at him and blushed. "Well...I have worked at the library most of my life," he muttered, somewhat abashedly. "Read enough architecture textbooks and you tend to pick up a thing or two."

"I can see that," Rarity said. She blinked, a smile spreading across her face. "Spike, that sounds like a wonderful plan."



Spike grinned. "Well, then. Let's get to work!"

The next two weeks were a blur, seeming to flash by so fast that it was as though the days were flying on the back of Friendship Express. The construction ponies came easily enough—many were eager to see the "loot" with which they'd be paid, and were appropriately astounded when they actually saw it—and immediately set to work drawing up plans, sawing, and hammering.

Spike turned out to be a much bigger help—no pun intended—than anypony had expected. His strength let him rip smaller trees out of the ground without the need for a saw, and his size let him carry their broad trunks all the way back to the construction site. The unicorn overseers watched with awe as his clawed feet pounded into the ground, three massive tree trunks held tightly under his arms. Day by day—and sometimes by night as well—he worked tirelessly alongside everypony else to make sure that things were going as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

Once they'd heard what happened—Rainbow Dash hadn't even known that the Boutique had been destroyed yet—the rest of the gang quickly pitched in. Applejack's home-grown construction skills were invaluable when laying down the foundations, and Pinkie was always ready to pitch in with either a hoof or a celebratory cupcake break. Even Fluttershy managed to persuade her friend Harry to help out. Rarity could never decide whether to be amused or intimidated when she saw a nine-foot bear traipsing across the site, carrying a pile of paint cans in his arms with a goofy smile on his face. Eventually, out of trust for Fluttershy, she settled for the former.

Day by day, the building grew. Foundations became a floor, which became walls, which became a ceiling. In what seemed like no time at all, the first floor was done, and the second floor rooms were well on their way to being completed. Even the Crusaders had managed to pitch in by this point, dragging along quite a few of their classmates for the ride; the construction crews seemed honestly bemused by the sheer amount of support the project was getting from the public.

Even when Spike persuaded her to splurge a bit on the more expensive wallpapers, decorations, and maybe just one specially-commissioned stained-glass window to go above the front door, there were still oodles of gemstones left to use. They'd barely made their way through half, and the need for funding was fast running out.

"You know, Spike," Rarity said one day. "You should feel free to take some of these for yourself. I don't need nearly quite so many gems as what we have here."

Spike snorted. "Come on, Rarity. They're yours. I wouldn't dream of it."

"Then take them as a gift." Her eyes held no hint of compromise, though they sparkled with pride. "Please. For me. I'll keep some myself as a nest egg of sorts—just to help get me back on my hooves—but you really mustn't feel ashamed of taking most of the rest. You're a growing dragon, and you need your vitamins. Or minerals, as it may."

His stomach grumbled, loudly. Spike blushed. Rarity raised an eyebrow.

"Oh, all right," he mumbled.

She never saw him take them, even after that, but from time to time she'd catch him sneaking a clawful of gems into his mouth. A smile always flickered across her face when she saw that. It was partially out of happiness that he'd accepted her gift, and partially out of simple, physical appreciation.

He hadn't had a major growth spurt since the store had been originally destroyed, but as he ate, she sometimes imagined that she could see him growing: slowly, but steadily. Already-wide biceps became even larger, muscles swelling outward until they were filled with nearly unimaginable strength and power. His abs tightened even further, becoming an eight-pack that looked as though it was harder than diamond. Shoulders broadened to support a pair of wings that were as imposing as they were majestic. Bit by bit, inch by inch, and—she thought—foot by foot, he grew a little taller each day, both in size and in something she hadn't taken the time to notice before: maturity. Spike was no longer some sort of overgrown adolescent.

Occasionally, she'd find herself licking her lips in his direction before she caught herself. Oh, yes. He was filling out very nicely.

Near the middle of the second week, Twilight had taken the initiative to take his measurements. He was precisely twenty-five feet and three inches, she announced to anyone who cared to listen, and with a wingspan of over fifty feet. That had been somewhat surprising, though with everything else that was going on, not quite as surprising as it could have been.

The next day, Rarity found herself outside of Ponyville's outermost café. It wasn't her preferred cuisine, by far—the lot of it was more "common" fare such as hayfries or fried eggplant patties—but it was on the outskirts of town, which meant that its outside dining area had more than enough space to accommodate all of Spike's bulk.

"So," Spike said, chewing on a clawful of hayfries. The owner had been nice enough—or well-paid enough; she'd seen Twilight come in here earlier with the promise of a generous tip. It was Spike's favorite place to eat, after all—to provide him with a full cart full of food. He seemed to appreciate it. "What do you think of the wallpaper you picked out?"

"That you picked out, you mean," Rarity said. She rolled her eyes. "Why, I can't imagine why I wouldn't purchase the silver pattern with the purple stripes. I clearly had no other choice."

"Hey!" Spike yelped. "That's a beautiful color scheme."

She quirked an eyebrow at him.

"It is," he mumbled. He tossed another pile of hayfries into his mouth.

"I'm only kidding with you, Spike." Rarity took a sip of her milkshake—she'd tried it only at Spike's suggestion, and had found herself reluctantly liking it as time went on—and chuckled under her breath. "I love the pattern. Thank you for helping me pick the rest of the decor out."

"Oh, shucks. It wasn't much."

She rolled her eyes. "Spike, you really do have wonderful taste. That glass lamp you pointed out at the market the other day will look simply fabulous above the mantle."

"Well," Spike said, looking very pleased with himself, "I was taught by one of the best, after all."


"Doesn't mean it's not right," he shot back. A mischievous smirk played across his face.

She snorted, pushing away her milkshake. Her table looked tiny beside him, but somehow, she didn't find the size difference all that intimidating. It wasn't even a barrier. If anything, knowing that he was beside her made her feel...comfortable. Safe, even.

She sniffed. "Well, I'll hand you that round." A glimmer danced in her eyes. "Spikey-Wikey."

He groaned good-naturedly. "Are you really back on that?"

"Why, of course!" Rarity tutted loudly before offering him a wink. "What else could I call my lovely little angel?"

"Not so little," he reminded her.

She paused. "Perhaps not," she corrected herself. "Forgive me, Spike. It's not every day that a mare has to realize that a foal has grown into a stallion. Or in this case, a wyrmling into a full dragon."

Spike's purple scales flushed a deep red. "Wow, Rarity. I...that means a lot, coming from—"

"Guys! Hey, guys!"

Rarity whirled around. "Yes, Rainbow Dash?" she asked through clenched teeth.

Dash waved her hooves in the air. Even hovering fifteen feet in the air, she still only came up to somewhere below Spike's shoulder when he was sitting up.

"What's up, Dash?" he asked around a mouthful of hay.

She shook her head, rainbow mane splaying across her shoulders. "You guys aren't gonna believe this."

"Believe what?" Rarity asked sharply.

Rainbow flashed her a grin. "Just come down to Sugarcube Corner. C'mon—everypony's already there. We're just waiting on you two."

Rarity's lip curled. "Well, as you can see, Spike and I are currently preoccupied with eating lunch. So, if you don't mind, I'm afraid we'll have to—"

"I'm done." Spike pushed his cart away and met her eyes. "I'm mostly full, anyway."

He stood up, stretching his limbs and wings. Rarity's heart skipped a beat as she saw those two enormous membranes spread out to cover the sky. The sunlight seemed to pass through them just so, illuminating the veins within and letting the purple scales on their borders shimmer with a dim glow.

"Alright," Spike said in his deep voice. "Lead the way, Dashie."

By the time that they got there, it seemed like half the town had come out to Sugarcube Corner. Luckily, Spike managed to clear a path for the two of them to follow without much trouble. Unsurprisingly, it seemed like nopony wanted to get crushed beneath a dragon's foot.

"Now, everypony," Rarity said. She pushed her way through the crowd, moving toward what looked like the top of Twilight's mane. "I'm not entirely sure why Dash felt the need to drag the two of us out here, but I can honestly tell you—"

She stopped in her tracks, eyes wide, and jaw dropped wide open. Beside her, Spike let out a strangled gurgle.

"Good afternoon Rarity, Spike," Discord said mildly. He smirked. "It's certainly been a while."

Chapter Eight: Downsized

Spike stared. "Discord? What're you doing here?

"I'm doing fine. Thanks for asking." Discord scanned up and down Spike's enormous frame, one elegantly-curved eyebrow hovering above his forehead. "You're looking different—did you lose weight? Do something new with your scales?"

"Weren't you supposed to be in Gryphonia?" Rarity asked. "Something to do with a weather problem, I believe?"

"Rarity, Rarity," Discord said. "That's old news by now."

"And how, if I might ask, did the Gryphon Emperor react to a custard pie to the beak?"

"Better than expected," Discord replied dryly.

"In any case, that doesn't answer the question of why you're here," Spike pointed out.

Discord paused, putting a claw to his lip. "...It doesn't? I suppose you're right."

He shrugged. "Well, what can I say? I just happened to be in the neighborhood, really. After my time abroad, I suppose I wanted to stop by to see some of Ponyville's rustic charm."

"I asked him here."

Twilight stepped forward, all eyes turning toward her.

"Twilight?" Spike asked, eyes widening. "You did?"

There was a playful, knowing smile on her face. "Yup. Remember that letter I wrote last week?" she asked. "That was for the Princess. I told her about the situation, asked if she knew anypony who could help, and she recommended Mr. Chaos over here."

"Twilight!" A claw went to Discord's forehead. "You wound me—I'm reformed! Fluttershy will vouch for me."

"That doesn't mean that you like chaos any less," Twilight replied. "As I'm sure the Gryphon Ambassador would be more than happy to tell us."

Discord pouted. A white flag popped into existence between his claws, and he waved it back and forth with a weary sigh. "Oh, fine. Be that way."

"Anyway," Twilight said, "Celestia and Luna were too busy to make the trip, but Discord's already generously offered to lend us a hoof—er, hand—in fixing things."

"What things?" Spike asked.

Discord gave him a toothy grin; Spike shifted uncomfortably as those slitted eyes roamed up and down his body. "Why, your 'little' problem, of course. I'd heard that you were...less than satisfied with your latest growth spurt."

Spike's eyes widened. He was suddenly reminded of just how little the ponies at his feet really were. His claws drew up into fists at his sides, and he held his wings in a little tighter. "I—you can fix this?" he blurted. "Make it go back to normal?"


"None of your games," Rarity said. She took a step in front of Spike and glared up at Discord's taller, more wiry frame. "Either you're going to help Spike or you're not, so speak up instead of dancing around the issue."

Discord's eyes darted over to Twilight, who nodded in return. "Very well."

He snapped his fingers and vanished, reappearing around Spike's neck like some kind of bizarre necklace. Spike nearly leapt in surprise at the sudden weight; as it was, several of the ponies nearby noticed his shift in weight and quickly edged away to avoid becoming pony-pancakes.

"Allow me to put things simply, then," Discord said, tapping his claws on Spike's scales. "You're a dragon. Dragons grow big. Hence, you're big."


"Oh, hush. I'm getting there." Discord waggled a claw in Twilight's direction. "Didn't your mother ever tell you that it was rude to be impatient?"

Twilight twitched. Discord gave her a wink.

"As I'm sure you've noticed," he went on, "this growth of yours hasn't been exactly what you expected."

Spike nodded. "Twilight's never heard of dragons growing this quickly, and even the doctor thought that I was done after the first growth spurt."

"As well she should," Discord said dryly. He paused. "For a normal dragon, anyway."

"What do you mean 'normal'?" Spike asked, narrowing his eyes. "I'm completely normal."

"Of course you are," Discord purred. "Well, dear Princess? Do tell your young charge exactly what's normal about him."

Twilight's cheeks flared a bright red, and Spike frowned.

"Well," Twilight coughed, "Most dragons aren't hatched in the midst of a magical meltdown caused by a unicorn ranked an eight-point-four on the Cadabra scale."

Discord tapped his chin. "Not to mention undergoing a forced growth spell mere seconds after hatching. Tsk, tsk, Ms. Sparkle. Quite irresponsible." Twilight blushed even further.

"Hey!" Spike shouted. It came out as more of a deep rumble; windows shook up and down the street by the sheer force of his voice.

Below his knees, he could hear Rainbow Dash yelp, "Hey! Watch it, bucko!"

Discord gave him a meaningful look. A sheepish grin crossed Spike's face, but soon faded into a scowl once more.

"None of that was Twilight's fault!" Spike crossed his arms over his impressively-sized chest. "She was just a filly! She didn't know what she was doing!"

"Ah, ah, ah," Discord said. "But that doesn't change the fact that it happened in the first place."

A devilish grin crossed his face, and he snapped his fingers again, this time reappearing on top of Spike's head. "So tell me, Mr. Big Bad Dragon: What happens when a wyrmling is hatched through the use of explosive magic, exposed to a growth spell before his draconic energy has even had the chance to stabilize, and then left alone  with that very same magic source for all sixteen years of his young dragon life?" He waggled his eyebrows for emphasis. "Not to mention whatever impact living with the Element of Magic might have had. Even alone, the Elements' auras are quite potent."

Spike's mouth moved dumbly. "I—what," he stammered. "But—"

Discord smirked.

"I'm eighteen," Spike finally managed to mumble out. "Not sixteen."

"Yes, yes. As they say in the rolling suburbs of Los Pegasus, whatever." Discord waved a hand dismissively. "Regardless, this is how all of the pieces come together."

He snapped his fingers. "First, there's a spark."

The image of a chubby-looking baby dragon flickered into the air beside Spike's head.

"Then energy builds up."

The baby dragon glowed purple, its image seeming to pulsate for a few moments.

"And then?" Discord smirked. "Ka-boom."

The image suddenly swelled outward, expanding with wild abandon until Discord clapped his hands together. It stopped, hung in there air for a second, and then vanished with a pop.

Spike swallowed. "So wait—this is because of magic? Because of Twilight?"

"Only halfway." Discord vanished, this time appearing on the ground with his hands clasped behind his back and a monocle over one eye. "Dragons have their own inner magic, you see. It's what keeps them growing, which for most of them is a slow and steady race, usually ending at around one hundred feet or so after a few centuries." He paused. "Give or take."

"But for me?"

"But for you!" Discord rubbed his hands together, cackling. "That's the fun bit! With your circumstances, you've got enough pony magic and draconic magic to keep you going forever!"

Spike blanched. "Forever?"

Discord winked. "And with your growth refreshing and increasing the amount of ambient magic in your body, the draconic side has more to feed on."

"It's a feedback loop," Twilight cut in. She was chewing on her lip, her eyes averted toward the ground. "It'll keep going, increasing exponentially. It might not ever end."

"You think this is big?" Discord asked gleefully. In the blink of an eye, he was Spike's height, looking him right in the eye as he towered over the nearby houses...but then he was swelling, expanding, growing upward and outward until he filled the sky, two yellow eyes glaring down at the Earth below—

And then he was Discord once more, leaning up against Spike's leg. "Big," he snorted. "This isn't big. This is piddly."

Spike hadn't noticed it, but he was sweating. A dawning look of horror was in his friends' eyes: Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack. His heart felt like it was beating out of control as images flashed across his mind: flattening Ponyville in a single step, destroying Canterlot like an ant beneath his foot, growing and growing and growing until Equestria itself was like dust

"Enough!" Rarity took a step toward Discord and glared. "You said that you would help him. If you're here to do no more than terrify the poor dragon, then you're welcome to leave!"

"Go on," Twilight said. "Tell them what Princess Celestia told me."

"As you likely already know," Discord said loudly, shaking his head, "while your Princesses control things like the sun, moon, and love—" he snorted under his breath "—Chaos magic is my forté."

He snapped his fingers, and a cloud of cotton candy appeared overhead. Little kernels of popcorn began raining down, hitting everypony's heads with little thunk-thunks. Some ponies tried to shield themselves, squatting with their hooves over their heads and squinting through the sudden nutty downpour. Others, like Pinkie Pie, opened their mouths wide and began to feast.

"If you had to describe chaos in one word," Discord asked Spike, "what would it be? Come on, now—don't be shy."


Discord shook his head.

"Strange? Weird?" Spike offered. "Out of control?"

"Getting closer."

"Uncontrolled? Unrestrained?" he asked. "Wild?"

A grin spread across Discord's face. "Bingo. And do you know what pony scientists call dragon magic?"

"Wild magic."

"You're on fire tonight!" Pieces of paper began to rain down alongside the popcorn, with the letters B-I-N-G-O proudly emblazoned across their surfaces. A fang poked over Discord's lip as his smile spread from ear to ear—literally cutting through his cheeks until his dimples had vanished completely. "And can you guess what that means?"

Spike's eyes drifted over Discord's much smaller form until he noticed something: his tail. Namely, his red-scaled, pointed, draconic tail.

"You're a dragon," he blurted.

Twilight smacked her forehead.

"I guess that's the best they could come up with in the ol' University, eh?" Discord vanished, reappearing by Applejack's side. He elbowed her in the side; a checkered beanie was one his head, and a white beard covered his face. "Eh, ol' chap? Eh? Eh?"

Spike rolled his eyes.

"But I suppose there is a reason why they call me a draco—nequus," Discord finally said. "I have a certain...connection to your little brand of magic that your pretty pony princesses lack."

"So that means—"

"Yes." Discord buffed his claws against his chest and inspected them with a critical eye. "I can shrink you back down to size. Any size, really. I can even cut off any future growth, if that's what you want."

Spike felt the world go silent.

Cut off...any future growth...

Just stop right here, he realized. Never get as big as the other dragons. Never feel that surge of power or strength as it pulsed through his veins, swelling like the fire in his chest—

Rarity's face flickered across his mind's eye. Twilight's followed it, then Rainbow Dash's, Pinkie Pie's—even Celestia's! A normal life! Was it worth it?

He narrowed his eyes. Absolutel—

"Discord! Stop joking around and cut to the chase already!"

He blinked.

"Oh, poo." Discord rolled his eyes, putting a hand to his hip. "Can't a spirit of chaos have a little fun once in a while?" He glanced over at Twilight. "No? Very well then."

He gave a long, drawn-out sigh. "What Ms. Princess Formerly Known As The Librarian wants me to tell you is that I can give you more than an on/off switch. I can give you a knob."

"You can what?" Spike asked.

Discord smirked. "Oh, Spike, my boy. You never thought that your magic was completely uncontrollable, did you? A pity it isn't," he added, tutting quietly. "Lost restraint is always more fun.

"But yes," he went on. "Your developed 'pony' magic has given you a certain degree of...control, shall we say?" He shrugged. "So, I do a little switcheroo with your body—let you control your size and power—and we're all off to the races!"

He held his arms out wide and waggled his eyebrows. "So, Spikey-Wikey—what do you think?Do we have a deal?"

Rarity trotted up, beaming from ear to ear. "Discord, if what you're saying is true—"

Discord leaned against one of Spike's tree-trunk-like legs, looking very pleased with himself. "Have I ever given you reason to doubt me?"

She gave him a meaningful look, and his cheeks flushed a light pink.

"Well," he muttered under his breath, "maybe once or twice."

"—If this is true," Rarity continued, "then Spike—this could be the perfect solution! You wouldn't have to worry about outgrowing Ponyville anymore!"

For some reason, those last words gave him a pang of sadness, but that was quickly replaced by a grin that slowly spread across his face. "That'd definitely be pretty cool."

Twilight edged over to Discord and elbowed him in the side. "See? I told you it'd work out."

"I never doubted you, Twilight."

She rolled her eyes. "So, Spike: Are you ready for this?"

Spike took a deep breath. He could feel something in his lungs, jittering like a butterfly hyped up on caffeine. Was it fear? Tension? Concern?

He closed his eyes. No.  It was excitement.

His eyes snapped open. He looked down at Discord, a thin smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. "Let's do it."

Discord clapped his hands; the sound echoed like a thunderclap in the enclosed space. "Excellent! Just hold still, and it'll all be over in a jiffy." Holding up his claw to Spike's leg, he paused for a moment—

—something sparking on the end of his claw—

—and then gave him a poke right between two scales.

For a moment, Spike didn't feel anything; in fact, he'd barely felt Discord's touch. "Are you sure that worked?" he asked, his voice rumbling out.

Discord buffed his claws against his chest. "Oh, you'll see."

And then Spike felt it: a sudden tension running up and down his spine, as if he'd been lying still for a very long time. Then the tightness began: it felt like his skin was shriveling up, curling into itself with each passing second. He looked up and gaped; the sky was getting further away! He peered down at his legs and gasped: his limbs were getting shorter, his oversized muscles deflating a little bit more with every inch of height that he lost.

He groaned; it felt like someone had taken hold of his tail and pulled, hard. He felt the scales shrinking across his skin, his  spines flopping down over his head. He'd lost about five feet in height by this point; where once he had towered over the nearest house, he was now only big enough to look through the third-story windows.

Down below, the ponies by his feet were milling about nervously, watching the whole process with something between awe and fear. Watching him getting bigger was one thing, but this backward kind of growth was something else entirely.

"Whoa—whoa!" Spike yelped. His arms jerked wildly, wobbling as he struggled for balance.

The shrinking redoubled, and Spike felt himself drop a few more feet in height. He couldn't be larger than thirteen feet now—about the same height he'd been before he'd wrecked Rarity's house. It felt tight, his scales crawling across his skin as they receded, both in size and in bulk. His chest and arms, which before had been godlike in proportion, were now much more manageable in size and weight.

And then the world dropped out from beneath him.


Twelve feet became seven in a fraction of a second, his legs compacting beneath his torso before he could react. He collapsed in an unwieldy pile on the ground, moaning in time with the throbbing of his head and arms.


"There." Discord smirked and crossed his arms over his chest. "Much better."

Spike groaned again, his eyes flickering. The world seemed blurry, the suddenly towering buildings swaying before his unfocused eyes. "Twilight?" he murmured, watching a vaguely purple shape moving toward him. "Is that you?"

He felt warm fur push around his chest. "Yes, Spike," Twilight whispered back to him. "It's me. And everything is going to be okay."


He let out another oof as another weight crashed onto his stomach. "R-rarity?"

"Oh, it's lovely to see you down here again, Spike!" She smiled at him, her eyes glittering; his vision cleared a little, and he smiled in return. "I can't tell you how worried I was!"

"I can imagine," he chuckled. He wrapped an arm around her—and Twilight, who let out a little "eep" at the sudden pressure—wondering at the feeling of something in his arms that wasn't tiny. "It's just good to be back on the ground, again."

"So—is the customer satisfied? Does the waiter get a tip?"

Twilight snorted and rolled off of Spike's chest. "Thank you, Discord."

"Thanks," Spike echoed. He looked up at Discord, a fang poking out over his lip—and gaped.

"You're tall," he said stupidly.

"Oh? I hadn't noticed."

Twilight giggled. "Yup. Everything's going to be just fine."

"Ah-ah-ah," Discord cut in. "Let's just do a quick checkup first." In a flash, he was back by Spike's side, holding a clipboard in his hands and wearing a clean white coat around his shoulders. A stethoscope hung around his neck.

"Any nausea?" he asked.

Spike blinked. "Just some dizziness."

"Any violent contortions? Seizures?"


"Boils, moles, or sentient acne of any kind? Pus, blisters, or genital warts?"

"I—blegh!" Spike stuck out his tongue. "Okay; I did not need that last one."

Discord peered over the edge of his spectacles at Spike; evidently satisfied, he clapped his hands and the whole doctor's ensemble disappeared. "Excellent. I'll give you a clean bill of health for now."

He bent down to look Spike in the eye. "So," he asked, drawing out the first letter of the word and giving it a lazily flick at the end, "Can you feel it?"

"Feel what?"

"Your size, of course. It had to go somewhere, didn't it?"

Spike closed his eyes. Nothing "I—wait."

There. He could feel it, like a knot at the back of his mind. He could feel it, swelling and pulsing with each heartbeat. Curiously, he poked at it with a thought, loosening it ever so slightly—

"Whoa!" Dash exclaimed.

He opened his eyes. "Whoa," he echoed, a bit more happily. He'd grown again, going from about six and a half feet to a nice, round eight feet. His muscles had bulked back up a bit, too, and he felt a familiar surge of power in the wings that fluttered behind his back.

Discord chuckled. "Now try to put it back."

Spike nodded. Probing around that point in his mind, he found that knot again. This time, though, instead of loosening it, he tightened it, drawing it back in on itself until it was back to its original size. He could see himself shrinking as he did it, his body growing smaller with each tightening of the knot.

"That," he said slowly, "is cool."

"It's pretty awesome," Dash put in.

Discord grinned. "Excellent! Now, any questions?"

"Don't think so."

"Just lovely!" Discord chirped. He snapped his claws, a bright-colored shirt decorated with flowers appearing on his shoulders. "I'll be off, then—got beaches to see, theme parks to litter—"

He stopped midstep. "Unless, of course, you'd like to give yourself one last run."

Spike stared after him. He could feel Twilight at his side, a comforting weight against his leg. "What do you mean?"

Discord looked over his shoulder, peering over his sunglasses. "Why, your growth, of course."

A sly smirk crossed his face. "After all, don't tell me that you didn't enjoy it a little bit. That sense of strength—of sheer size?" A dark chuckle rumbled through his chest. "Come now, my boy. Everyone likes a little taste of power."

Spike stared at his feet. He was suddenly aware of everypony's eyes on him. "Maybe a little," he mumbled.

"And why not cut loose for once?" Discord purred. Spike was suddenly aware of Discord's claw laying across his shoulder, the draconequus giving him a tight grin from barely a foot away. "Let's see what that draconic magic is capable of."

Spike swallowed. "I—"

He glanced at Twilight, who offered him a tentative smile.

He turned back to face Discord and grinned. "Let's do it."


Spike's eyes widened as he felt a sudden force pulling at his arm. "Wait, what—"

"Farewell, my little ponies!" Discord said, beaming out over the crowd. He gave a little wave. "Don't worry about us; I'll take along two of your friends for supervision. Not that you'll need any eyewitnesses, that is," he added, tapping a claw on his chest.

A mischievous smile flickered across his face. "You'll be able to see the whole thing live. Just keep your eyes on that horizon! Now ta-ta!"

He waggled his claws, a white light building up around his feet—as well as Spike's, Twilight's, and Rarity's.

"Discord!" Rainbow Dash hollered. "What're you—"


The four vanished.

Chapter Nine: The Titan Awakes

The first thing they felt was the sun.

Spike squinted, his claw going up to his face to shield his eyes from the bright light. It must have been late afternoon, but out here, the sunlight felt...stronger. Harsher, somehow.

"Welcome to the Tropic of Bellerophon," Discord's voice echoed. "Land of the Eternal Plains."

Spike glanced over his shoulder, eyes widening as he took note of the two ponies behind him. "Twilight? Rarity? You came too?"

"Yup," Twilight said. She had just struggled to her hooves after shooting Discord a glare after what was, presumably, quite the unexpected teleportation spell. "I just wanted to make sure that nothing too extreme happened."

"Twilight, please."

Spike looked back up; Discord was hovering in the sky above them, laying back on a cloud and sipping a glass of chocolate milk. "The whole point of this exercise is to go to extremes," Discord said, sounding annoyed. "Goodness; don't you ponies ever do anything fun?"

Twilight kept glaring at him. Discord turned to the ground and stuck out his tongue at her.

Rarity coughed from her place beside Twilight. Somehow, her mane had avoided getting mussed up as badly as Twilight's during their little jaunt; Spike was sure that millions of mares would pay their weight in gold to find out how she was able to control her "coiffure" so well. "Of course, I had to come along too," she said, giving Spike a tight smile. "I must admit that my reasons are not entirely altruistic—there's something exciting about imagining you truly cutting loose, as Discord has said."

"You're sure?" Spike asked. "Even after the Boutique?"

"Spike, that was weeks ago. I've long since gotten over any phobia of growth I may have had." Rarity shook her head. "Besides, if you hadn't noticed, I've become more than comfortable with...well, with a larger 'you,' you might say. Seeing you down here like this is a welcome change, but I can't say that the thought of you outgrowing anything you have before doesn't bring a certain thrill to my veins."

Spike felt a chill go down his spine. It wasn't a bad one, though—it sang with a tense, electric feeling, tickling his muscles with warmth and tension. He shot Rarity a grin. "Well, then," he chuckled. "I'll do my best not to disappoint."

"So where did you say we were?" Twilight asked. "The Tropic of Bellerophon?" A frown crossed her face. "I could swear that I'd heard of the name somewhere..."

Above them, Discord yawned. "Well, I should certainly hope so. Any Canterlot scholar worth their salt will have heard of the legendary birthplace of the Buffalo race."

Twilight froze. "...You called it the Land of Eternal Plains."

"Did I?" Discord asked. "Slip of the tongue, really. But whether it's truly that 'mythical' place or not, the important thing is that it's flat, relatively uninteresting, and most significantly—for you ponies, anyway—completely empty." He shrugged, his shoulders digging into his cloud hammock. "Well, mostly flat—there are a few mountains over there—" he jabbed a claw to a dark lump on the horizon "—but for the most part, a healthy, growing dragon can just go wild."

He leaned over the side of his cloud and grinned. He was sporting a pair of large, gaudy pink sunglasses that seemed to blink along with his eyes. "So, what do you say, Spikey-Wikey? Ready to go?"

Spike licked his lips. "Ready."

Discord waves a hand dismissively, going back to lay on his hammock. "On your mark, then."

None of them saw it, but a mischievous grin swept across his face, and his eyes darted toward the mountains he'd pointed out. "Let's make this one heck of a show."

Spike closed his eyes, his claws curling into fists at his sides. Beside him, Twilight gave Rarity a look, and they both took a few steps away. There was no point in being too close to a soon-to-be-gigantic dragon.

There. Spike's lips curled into a smirk. He could feel it again: that knot of energy throbbing in the back of his mind. It was full of power, of promises of strength and size. Where before he'd had to dig deep to find it, this time, it seemed to be floating on the surface—almost as if it wanted him to find it.

Well, he was more than happy to oblige.

He decided to start slow. With a kind of mental twist—he wasn't sure how, really, to describe what he'd done, and likely wouldn't be able to anytime soon—he loosened the knot.

Warmth flooded into his system, singing through his veins as it loosened from a tiny trickle into a somewhat stronger one. He looked down at his claws, grin stretching from ear to ear as he watched his hands swelling. That power filled him, teasing him, running sparks of electricity up and down his spine.

His arms swelled outward, filling with muscle and power. Tension built in his "normal-sized" chest, and he grunted as his pectoral muscles pushed outward, bulging until they'd reached the size of basketballs. Layers and layers of thick, corded muscle built up around his legs and waist, filling the space beneath his scales with a strength he'd almost forgotten he'd had.

His spine arched as his body lengthened, his head inching up into the air as his limbs got longer and longer. Inches became feet, and soon, a ten-foot tall, adolescent dragon stood above the dancing grasses, his sculpted body shining beneath the bright sun.

He smirked down at Twilight and Rarity. "How's that for a start."

"Looking good so far!" Rarity called back. She was barely taller than his knees now, the tip of her horn only just poking below his hips.

"You're still in control?" Twilight asked. "No sudden urges to crush anything?"

"Twilight, it's me," Spike said. He spread his teeth in what he hoped to be a comforting grin. "Don't worry."

She looked up into his eyes, weighing, calculating, and evaluating. Finally, she closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and opened them again with a wide grin.

"Okay, then," she said. "Like Discord said—go wild."

With a pop, Discord himself appeared behind her. "Twilight, dear—you might want to get you and your friend a bit further away for the next part of our little show."

"Why's that?" Twilight asked.


She followed Discord's glance until she met Spike: all ten towering feet of him. Her cheeks flushed, and she averted her gaze. "Right. One teleportation spell coming up."

"Have fun, Spike!" Rarity called as Twilight's horn began to glow. "We'll be watching!"

Spike waved back. "Will do!"

They vanished.

He turned back, squaring his shoulders. His eyes narrowed as his grin spread even wider across his face. "All right then," he murmured, licking his lips. "That was the warmup. Let's get serious."

Diving back into the recesses of his mind, he "grabbed" the knot with two tendrils of thought, and pulled.

It came loose.

Power like nothing he'd ever felt before flooded into his system. It rushed through his veins, nearly overpowering him with its sheer depth and heat. It was...intoxicating. His eyes fluttered, his mind nearly submitting to the pure feeling of bliss rapidly spreading through his body.

He gritted his teeth, his grin becoming a snarl. "I won't be beat," he growled, his voice deepening as his muscles swelled, his body growing even huger. "This power is mine—I'm in control here."

The power surged again, and his grin deepened, his eyes narrowing. "You want to have some fun?" he rumbled, feeling the power thrum in response. "Then let's have some fun!"

The energy exploded.

It filled his every cell, surging with power and strength. Spike's back arched, his muscles rippling and swelling across his body as his scales sharpened and hardened back to diamond-like levels. His body inched upward, his head moving up into the sky and his chest bulking further with each foot of height. Twelve became fifteen became twenty which became twenty-three. He was enormous—almost as big as he'd been before! At this height, a pony would barely reach his ankle, let alone one of his monstrous, bulging calves! His head alone was the size of a horse-drawn cart!

It wasn't enough.

That electricity ran through his body again, his veins singing with heat and power. He roared, throwing his head back as his limbs stretched, his muscles firming and growing until they made even his previous size look puny. He passed twenty-five feet, and then even thirty, without even breaking a sweat.

By now, had he been in Ponyville, he would tower over the tallest buildings. Even Ponyville Hall, where events like the Summer Sun Celebration were held, would only come up to his shoulder. He could picture it now: so tiny, so puny before his growing strength!

It was only going to get bigger.

His wings thrust out behind him, thickening and growing in span until they were each thirty-five feet, from tip to spine. He flexed them powerfully, feeling his mountainlike chest pulsing beneath his scales as he grew and grew and grew. Thirty feet became forty, soon becoming fifty, and even sixty.

It was like the sound rock and metal grinding together, bones lengthening until they alone were bigger than any pony could ever imagine. His muscles stretched, expanding like a balloon over his chest and arms. A tight feeling built up in his chest, and he let out a long, pleasure-filled sigh. It turned into a moan as waves of bliss washed over him, bathing him in pure sensation as he grew, and grew, and grew.

"Yes..." he murmured, his voice rumbling out across the plains. "That feels so good—"

His eyes darted back down to the earth below, and he almost laughed. Even the tallest trees of the Everfree Forest were nothing to him now! The tall grasses of the "Eternal Plains" were like dust beneath his feet, and with each passing second, he could feel his body growing and swelling, getting bigger and bigger at his command. His arms bulged even larger, his tail thickening behind him as it lashed from side to side in sheer pleasure and power.

Dragons by nature are not a bipedal species. It's only in the lean muscle of their youth that any are able to stand upright as usually only a Diamond Dog or minotaur can. With a mighty roar that shook the plains, Spike's hands—his front legs, he realized with a start—crashed onto the earth below, cracks rippling through the ground at his mighty weight. His wings spread wide, flaring out across the light of the sun above it.

From far away, Twilight and Rarity watched with awe, their eyes as wide as saucepans. "I-incredible," Twilight stammered.

Rarity took a deep breath. She felt warm—uncomfortably so, even. "Absolutely incredible," she echoed, licking her lips. Spike's gargantuan form towered above the plains; even from the distance of a half-mile, she could see him as clearly as though he'd been standing right beside her. Each bulge of toned, rippling muscle, that head growing huger than she could have imagined as his bulk seemed to cover the plains.

Spike grunted, smirking as his growth seemed to slow, tapering off at around seventy-five feet. "What's the matter?" he muttered, stomping one giant foot on the ground. It left deep claw marks, gouges that ripped through the tough dirt and claw. "Had enough? Is this too big?"

The tension seemed to grow, and Spike felt an almost belligerent feeling in the back of his mind. "Come on!" he hollered, his deep voice echoing for miles. "Let's see what you've really got!"

In the blink of an eye, Spike's already gargantuan form nearly doubled in size, growing from eighty to one hundred and fifty feet of pure draconic power. His tail lashed against the earth beneath him, gouging out deep scars in the ground as his claws—each bigger than a house; a pony was barely even an ant to him now—dug down even further.

His wings flapped once, not to get him into the air, but to make a show of their sheer size and breadth. It was like a hurricane had descended upon the plains, pushing and bending the tall grasses to the ground and even ripping small chunks of dirt into the air. Far away, only a quick shield spell on Twilight's part had made sure that the two observers wouldn't go a similar way.

The time of "inching" was long since gone, with another ten feet of length adding themselves to Spike's already titanesque size every second. On all fours, he wasn't necessarily as tall as before—just over a hundred feet at the shoulder—but that did nothing to mask the sheer bulk of his growing, powerful form.

He passed two hundred feet with a roar that shook the heavens, his head swelling up into the sky as his wings surged above him. His mind was overrun with sensation, the feeling of his limbs stretching and bulging like a torrential river bursting over his thoughts. His body sang with power, his already-huge body—two hundred fifty feet, three hundred!—screaming for more and more and more!

His roar bellowed out over the plains as his head soared up even further into the sky. By now, Twilight, Rarity, and Discord weren't even visible next to his enormous size; for the sake of their well-being, Twilight had teleported them even further away in preparation of future...explosive growth.

Five hundred feet. Six hundred. Seven hundred. This growth was exponential, pushing him further up into the sky with each passing second. Spike's mind was ablaze with the distilled feeling of power, strength that fueled his great size and urged him to go further, harder, and above all bigger.

A single clawed foot could have covered the entire Ponyville marketplace; each of his wings could have shaded the entirety of Sweet Apple Acres. He surged up even further, surpassing one thousand feet as a fire burned in his stomach, fueling his rise to what seemed like, for all intents and purposes, godlike proportions.

An Ursa Minor would be a gnat beside him, an Ursa Major barely the size of a chipmunk in comparison. Spike shifted his weight, slamming his claws deep into the ground. When he lifted them back up, he left an impact crater that shattered the ground beneath his several thousand tons of weight.

Hydras, skyscrapers, whole villages—they were nothing to him now! Tiny! Minuscule! Insignificant—unknowns beneath his massive, ever-stretching bulk!

And he was still growing.

Spike nearly doubled over, feeling something rippling deep in his stomach. The sensation moved up further until it filled his chest with heat, pushing him outward, upward, and past the lowest layer of clouds. They felt cool against his scales, leaving thin drops of precipitation falling against his massive back. Even that, though, was nothing compared to the temperature building in his chest.

With a roar swelling deep in his lungs, Spike took a deep breath, lifted his head to the sky, and—

The mountains that Discord had pointed out were not, in fact, mountains at all. Not in the strictest sense, that is—they actually formed a range of mountainlike territory that comprised one of the largest rings of volcanic activity in the world.

Near the peak of Mount Wanahawkaloogie, a red dragon dunked his head into the nearest pool of lava. He was a growing specimen, likely hitting the peak of his adolescent growth spurt: probably around forty to forty-five feet in length. His talons were impressive in both their sharpness and shine, and his wings flared powerfully behind his back.

He let his head rest in the lava for a moment. Its scalding temperatures may have burnt a pony or "weaker" species to a char, but to a dragon like him, it was merely a lukewarm bath. It felt...pleasant.

And then the ground shook beneath his claws. Once. Twice. Three times, the pebbles that, to a smaller creature might have been called boulders, rumbling around his feet.

His head jerked out of the lava. Beady yellow eyes glaring out across the magma-filled wasteland, he looked around for the unfortunate soul who'd disturbed his soak.


The words died in his throat as his eyes drifted up into the sky. It was an astonishingly purple-looking sky—which was admittedly odd, due to the fact that sundown wasn't for at least another hour—and made even stranger by the splotches of green that looked like giant clouds bobbing in the air above.

The dragon swallowed. Why did those clouds look like scales? Why did that purple look like muscle...?

He continued looking upward—his neck craning back, his spine cracking as he tried, and failed, to fit the entire thing into view—and saw, sitting high above the clouds, a face.

A dragon's face.

And then came the fire.

Huge tongues of flame, licking at the skies above, roared forth from the titanic dragon's throat like liquid heat. They curled around the clouds, evaporating any present moisture in a fraction of a second. The heat was nearly tangible, even from here—it was like an ocean of fire, flame, and heat, filling the skies until they were a deep orange, burning like the swell of a volcano's lower chambers.

The much smaller dragon's eyes wandered back down to the being's face, and he felt a shiver go down his spine. That pillar of size, already near a half-mile in height, let alone the monstrous length of its body, and the breadth of its wings, was like some kind of god—a creature of myths, like the great Wyrm, or the World-Serpent whose thrashing shook the world. But...those eyes...that crest...

...That stupid, dorky face...

Before he'd fully allowed himself to remember Spike's name, Garble's eyes rolled back up into his head and he fainted, collapsing onto the ground below.

Spike let his forelegs fall back to the earth with a crash, the ground cracking beneath his weight. Pillars of smoke the size of small towns curled beneath his nostrils. His body swelled and grew beneath him, his claws growing huge, his torso growing enormous—and he loved it. He loved every square inch of his massive, bulging body.

It was like nothing else he'd ever felt before. His rate of growth seemed to increase in size as fast as he did, each new spurt bringing even more power than the last. And what power! It seemed to fill his mind, drowning his thoughts and emotions in nothing more than pure, size-fueled bliss. He could roar, he could breathe fire, he could destroy entire cities if he wanted to! That rush filled his thoughts, fueling his muscles and height as the demand for more became a demand for more and more and more and more


Nearing a full mile in height, Spike was nearly lost in growth as he surely—and anything but slowly—became the largest creature that Equestria had ever known. His head swelled in time with the beating of his heart, that heat the only thing that filled his thoughts.

And then he heard the voice again: No.

It wasn't a loud voice. It wasn't a particularly defiant voice. But it was disappointed, and as Spike grew further and further into the skies, dominating the earth below him, it fluttered beneath the surface, waiting.

He was better than this, it whispered. He wasn't some beast, to be overcome by adrenaline and hormones and Celestia-knows what else. He wasn't a mindless monster, nor was he some kind of junkie, his muscles bulging outward with pleasure as he waited for his next fix. He was a dragon. He was a dragon, raised by a pony. He was a dragon who knew what things meant, and he was a dragon who knew why.

He was Spike, and there was no point in size if he was going to drown himself in it.

That whisper—that tiny, insignificant whisper—rang louder than the biggest volcano. The fire stopped.

He saw Discord, smirking down at him as he enunciated the words, "Go wild." He saw Twilight, looking up at him with wide eyes as her lips formed the words "Be safe."

He saw Rarity, and then remembered that if he was ever to have a chance with her, it would have to be as a dragon.

Not as a beast.

There was a strange, tingling sensation running up and down his spine. He suddenly felt cold, his limbs aching as though he'd dumped them in cold water. He glanced up at the sky and gaped—

The clouds were getting smaller. He glanced back down. The ground, bit by bit, was getting closer, rushing up to meet him. His eyes narrowed. He knew what he had to do.

Reaching back into his mind, he took hold of the "knot," grabbed hard, and pulled it tight.

The warmth disappeared.

He was shrinking, he was falling, he was losing altitude—and fast. A hundred feet disappeared in the blink of an eye, the earth swelling up to something more than just a floor beneath his feet. His wings curled in, and he shut his eyes in preparation of what was to come next.

He passed through the cloud cover, the white puffs leaving streaks of water and ice across his scaly face. Those melted in time, but only from the air resistance rushing across his skin. He left a thousand feet behind, and then eight hundred—seven hundred—six hundred—

Where once he had more than filled the sky, he now only filled half. His wings fluttered weakly behind him, his muscles shrinking and leaving his scales to fill that empty space back in. He was the size of a village—of a market square—of a skyscraper—

As easily as it had come, one hundred feet left him behind. Ninety feet flew by with a whoosh of air, eighty feet falling to seventy, and then sixty. He was falling, his bulk deflating, his head flying toward the ground like a missile—

And then there was nothing but dust.


Twilight's hooves pounded across the ground, the grasses whistling against her sides with each heave of her chest. "Spike!" she hollered again. "Are you—"

Her hooves skidded to a stop, digging through the light brown dirt as she came to a full-out halt. Wide-eyed, she looked down at the scene below, with the sound of Rarity's galloping hooves echoing behind her.

A mass of dust hovered over the area, just barely settling after that mighty crash. The ground was bare, with a deep gouge in the earth that looked to go down for fifty feet. It was like a crater, as if a meteor had crashed here, wiping the earth away and leaving empty space in its place.

Right in the center of the crater was Spike, lying prone on the dirt.

In a flash of purple light, Twilight was by his side. "Spike!" she said again. She dove on top of him, her hooves clenched tightly around his neck. "Are you alright?"

"Ugh...Twi... You're choking me."

Twilight quickly pulled back, and Spike coughed loudly. He grunted, looking up at her—still prone—and gave a weak grin. "That was...pretty awesome, huh?"

"It was," Twilight admitted. "But you're not doing anything like that again! At least," she added, seeing the look of dismay in Spike's eyes, "not for a little while. You don't want to push yourself."

"Oh, Spike! That was amazing!"

"Rarity—oof!" Spike grunted, just barely managing to keep his grin as Rarity tacklehugged him to the ground. "What...what'd you think?"

"I could scarcely believe my eyes." Rarity gently stroked his scales, brushing the tips of his spines with the edge of her hoof. "My Spike, growing bigger than a mountain? Those mindless nimbies up in Canterlot would never believe something like this."

Spike sighed happily at her touch. "My Spike," Rarity murmured. "My big, wonderful Spike."

"So you all enjoyed the show, I see?"

Twilight turned to look over her shoulder. "Discord! I was wondering where you'd gotten off to."

Discord shrugged, twirling a bit of fur between his claws. "Oh, here and there," he said. "I'm more of an aerial viewer, myself."

He turned to wink at Spike. "For the record, those were some impressive guns. Battleship sized, I'd wager."

Twilight opened her mouth. "Wha—"

"But in any case," Discord went on, steamrolling right over her, "you may have noticed that you're feeling a bit tired. Fatigued. Exhausted, even."

Spike grunted from his place on the ground. "It's that obvious, huh?"

"A bit." Discord sighed. "You see, my dear little dragon—you're still young. Your body is still...maturing, shall we say." A smirk tugged at the corner of his mouth. "Your magic is still growing."

"So what does that mean?"

"Aha! But there's the fun part." Discord winked. "It means that with time, you'll not only have more control of yourself and the growth process, but you'll be able to push your body further as well. It'll just require some time."

"Time, huh?"

Spike looked around him. Twilight had her hoof on his arm, her mane waving in the wind. Rarity stood tall beside him, blue eyes glittering with affection and possibly something even more. Spike chuckled.

"I guess if it's just time I need, then I've got plenty of that. After all—"

He looked up at the sky.

"—making the journey is the best part."

He met Rarity's eyes. She nodded back, a smile flickering across her face.

"Let's go back to Ponyville," she said. Her hoof brushed against his arm. "I'm sure some ponies back there will be very interested in learning about what they may have just seen."

Her face moved closer; Spike went stock-still. Could she...?

Her lips touched his cheek.

As Twilight prepared the spell that would take them back to Ponyville, with Discord watching them with amusement and a spark in his eyes, Spike's jaw stayed wide open, his eyes seemingly even bigger than when he was huge. He barely made a sound as the magic surged above Twilight's horn, and didn't notice that one of the clouds above was shaped like a curl of flame, or that the sky was beginning to turn a deep crimson with the onset of sunset.

It was unfortunate that they weren't in the sky. For as they vanished, the teleportation spell taking hold, an airborne observer would have been able to notice something peculiar about the "crater" that they had just been in.

It was over three hundred feet long. It was rough, like the surf of the ocean. It was deep, pushing into the earth for a good fifty feet.

And, to that airborne watcher's eyes, invisible to those on the ground...

...It was in the shape of a dragon's foot.


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