Cutie Mark Catastrophes

by Wintergreen Diaries

Chapter 1: Truth or Dare

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Chapter 1: Truth or Dare

It was fortunate for Spike that Sweetie Belle was the forgiving type, because all it had taken to right his mistake the day before was a simple “I’m sorry.” This wasn’t to say she didn’t give him grief over it, but playful banter back and forth had become their usual mode of operation, and given that Spike had readily been accepted into their circle, four fillies and one dragon made their way through the trees and stopped in front of the Cutie Mark Crusaders tree fort that hadn’t been used for a while. It almost felt like an initiation of some kind to the dragon, and he drew back with Ruby as the other three held a whispered conversation that he just knew was bad news.

“I’d bet ten bits that they’re planning something horrible,” Spike murmured to Ruby, who was entirely unworried and happy to be out with her friends.

“Give them some credit, Spike. They’re always finding something fun to do, so whatever it is, it’ll be fun. Even if it does end in bodily harm.”

“Yeah, my bodily harm. My forehead still hurts...” There was a hush in the conversation as Sweetie Belle gave him a mock glare before returning to the three pony huddle. She was actually trying to make a point of finding a game or activity that wouldn’t be slighted against the dragon, who had different physical limitations than they, and as her friend’s voices faded out, she had an epiphany. Well, more like the idea to play a game that was as gruelling and embarrassing for everypony as it could be fun and enlightening, and she snatched it from the cruel hand of fate to eagerly deliver her brilliant scheme to the rest.

“I got it! Come on, everypony, inside!” Sweetie Belle exclaimed, not stopping to explain before rushing up the ramp. The rest followed in turn, and even with five occupants it didn’t feel cramped, although it was a bit dusty. Applebloom wasted no time cleaning out the lower level while Scootaloo showed Ruby and Spike around the smaller observatory on the level above, and after what seemed like no time at all, everypony was again in the main room, sitting in a circle and eagerly awaiting Sweetie Belle’s grand scheme for the day. It wasn’t at all what they expected, especially not from her, but that just made the idea seem that much more wild.

“C’mon, Sweetie Belle, just tell us already!” Scootaloo demanded.

“Yer patience trainin’ ain’t goin’ well, is it, Scootaloo?” Applebloom quipped, ignoring the glare. “Ah’m with Scootaloo, though. What’re we gonna be doin’?”

“Well, see as we have two new members in our circle, I thought of a nice, painless, relaxing way to get to know each other... Truth or Dare!” Everypony save Spike cheered at the idea. Being the only male in the group, he felt he had just been given a life sentence to all things humiliating, being woefully outnumbered and fairly new to the circle of friends.

Dear Twilight, today I learned that fillies like to gang up on guys and... wait, what was that? I said that a few days ago? That’s right, because it happens every time! Oh man, this is gonna seriously...

“Spike, what’s with you?” Scootaloo asked, curious as to why Spike was holding his head.

“Nothing. Everything’s fine.” For the next ten seconds... Maybe I’m just being pessimistic. Resolving to try and enjoy the experience for what it was, and clinging to sparse hope for an enjoyable afternoon, they settled down and chose their first victim.

“All right, Ruby. Truth... or dare?”

For an adventurous rogue like Pipsqueak, a small town setting like Ponyville could be downright excruciating, and while the earth pony couldn’t control his location, he could certainly make additions with his imagination. Sometimes the lines between imagination and reality got blurred in the young colt’s mind, but more often than not no harm came of his whirlwind adventures, and things had only become even more fun upon befriending Rumble. He knew he’d make a good first mate the day he watched him fly during hurricane season, and as the dark maned pegasus, who was acting as scout on their expedition through Sweet Apple Acres, cried out from above, it signalled the beginning of fun.

“Captain! Captain Pipsqueak, sir!” Rumble shouted excitedly, dropping like a rock and landing with a thud in front of the earth pony lacking in stature. “An enemy fort has appeared on the horizon. I’ll bet it’s filled with all kinds of treasure!”

“Treasure, ye say? Well, what’re you layin' around for, mate? Come on, let’s go!” Pipsqueak replied, helping his friend upright and drawing his wooden sword. Charging forward and following Rumble’s lead, they barreled through the orchard until coming to a screeching halt as the Cutie Mark Crusader's tree fort came into view. “Rumble, what’s...” he started, hearing voices and not expecting to find an actual fort. The number of fictitious baddies he’d routed and imaginary ships he’d plundered numbered in the hundreds, perhaps thousands, but he had never actually taken the next step.

“I told you there was a fort, Captain,” Rumble chuckled, giving him a light shove.

“Aye, what ye didn’t tell me is that it’s highly guarded! This one’s gonna take planning,” Pipsqueak replied, immediately assuming his mantle once more. “You’ll be walking the plank if you leave out vital information like that again, do you hear me?” he teased as they drew back to the cover of the trees. Ok, attack plans. I could always charge the front door, but I have no idea of how many ponies are inside, or how well armed they are. Maybe if I... Reality and imagination again became intertwined as he played out a myriad of scenarios in his mind, but with a roguish grin, he signaled to Rumble that he had developed the perfect scheme. “You ready for adventure, first mate Rumble?”

“Ready as always, Captain! What’s our plan of attack?”

“Well, let’s see... I don’t really have anything to hide, so truth, I think,” Ruby started off, looking around at the other ponies.

“Ok, here’s a questions for you then. Have you ever snuck any alcohol before?” Scootaloo asked.

“Don’t ya think that’s a little, ah don’t know, invasive, Scootaloo?” Applebloom interjected.

“What? That’s how you play the game, Applebloom. It’s no fun if you just ask boring stuff,” the orange pegasus defended.

“It’s really ok, you two. Nope, I’ve never snuck any drinks because I don’t need to. Berry will let me have them anytime I want, as long as I’m at home.” It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, though Applebloom couldn't help but be slightly jealous.

“You’re lucky then, Ruby. There’s more booze than you can shake a stick at flowin’ round mah family, and ah ain’t allowed anywhere near it.”

“Hey, Ruby! Have you ever gotten drunk?” Scootaloo pressed before the president presiding over the scene overruled it.

“Scootaloo, no questions out of turn," Sweetie Belle chided, chuckling as she contemplated what kinds of fun things the future held. "You’re next. Truth or Dare?”

“Dare of course, duh!” she asserted confidently, ready for anything. A slow, thoroughly disconcerting chuckle built as Spike came upon a dastardly ploy.

“Ok, I’ve got a perfect one for you, Scootaloo. I dare you... to dance ballet.”

“Wha... but... how did you know my mom was making me do that?!?” Scootaloo cried. “I can’t think of a single more humiliating... I’ll get you for this, Spike.”

Yikes, she really means it, too. “Hey, I didn’t know. I just thought it would be funny. Sheesh...” Ok, so, Sweetie Belle is sensitive about her singing, Scoots doesn’t like ballet... I wonder what I’m going to do that sets Applebloom off?

“C’mon, now, you’ll have yer turn t’ make ‘im miserable soon enough. Get t’ dancin’!” Applebloom encouraged, finding the time-honored ritual to be quite entertaining. Scootaloo was blushing even as she stood, walking to the far side of the room, and as she struck a pose, preparing to begin, her performance was interrupted by two unforeseen circumstances for which nopony inside were prepared.

“Thsh ez na mah fert! Srrndrr ah tersur t me!” Pipsqueak cried, bursting in the doorway with his trusty wooden blade held at the ready, clenched between his teeth. Unfortunately, all he received were shocked, blank stares and a load of confusion over his cryptic message. Rolling his eyes, he sheathed the blade and prepared to make his proclamation for all of the “brigands” to relinquish their vast storehouses of treasure to him when his first mate miscalculated his descent and, rather than covering the other exit, came crashing through the roof and tumbling into Scootaloo, leaving the captain seriously questioning his friend’s continued holding of position as second in command. Even if there were only two of them, after that blunder, he at least deserved to be demoted to “deckswab” for the better part of a week.

“What ‘n tarnation are y’all breakin’ mah fort for? Ah put a lot o’ work gettin’ this place shipshape, an’ ah ain’t havin’ some colts from the class below us bargin’ in an’ breakin’ everythin’!” Applebloom shouted, answering Spike’s unasked question as she ignored the disgruntled Rumble and marched straight up to Pipsqueak, who shocked everypony not by backing down, but meeting her halfway with nary a hint of fear and a smile befitting a swashbuckler like himself.

“Nay, lass, we aren’t leaving without the treasure! Miss Luna’s coffers need their dues, or it’ll be the moon for all of us! Rumble! Get yer tail upstairs and find the treasure!”

“Aye, Captain...” he moaned, prying himself away from Scootaloo who lay in a daze amidst wood splinters and shingles. “Sorry, Scootaloo. Didn’t mean to, uh... yeah, bye.” Bolting out the door and up the ramp leading to the second floor, Rumble set about his task while leaving Captain to deal with a docile horde and one irate earth pony. A quick search revealed a bag of lollipops, sure to appease the Lunar Princess, and he wasted no time snatching up the bag and flying around to the entrance to initiate emergency extraction of the captain as things were getting heated.

“Ah’ve half a mind t’ buck her hide right out the door!” Applebloom threatened, muscles tensing as she gave it very real consideration while Scootaloo offered no help whatsoever, wondering how so much spunk had been crammed into one tiny earth pony with a painted coat.

“Ye’d challenge the captain to a duel, eh? Right, let’s do it, then!”

“Hold up, Captain! I’ve got the treasure!” Rumble declared, swooping in and dropping the bag as he tried to speak, spilling the candies out all over the floor.

“Breakin’ an’ enterin’, and now yer stealin’?” Realizing that Pipsqueak had likely once again let his imagination rob him of better judgment, or in this case his fight or flight responses, Rumble redeemed himself of his blunders by grabbing a lollipop and offering it to Applebloom like a rose, jarring the filly from her fury while Pipsqueak rounded up the treasure.

“My apologies for the damage done to such a wonderful fort,” Rumble soothed, holding out the candy. “Is this your craftsmanship? You must take great pride in your work, and I offer my condolences for what I’ve broken.”

“Ah... uh...” Where’d mah temper go? Ah need it back, dang it! He put a hole in mah roof, the least ah could do is yell at ‘im just a little! An’ what’s the big idea, offerin’ us our own candy like he’s doin’ us a favor? An’ why the hay am ah takin' it? Despite her inner monologue, Applebloom accepted the lollipop into her hoof even as Pipsqueak commandeered the rest of the bag.

“Ah gt it, Rmbl! Cmn!” Pipsqueak urged, motioning to the door.

“Duty calls. I hope it doesn’t take you too long to fix,” Rumble said, bowing slightly.

“Don’t worry, it...” she started before Rumble looped his hooves around Pipsqueak and took off, leaving the clubhouse in disarray and full of very confused ponies. “It shouldn’t take... long?” she finished, turning around and looking up at the gaping hole. “What’s that colt made of, lead? Might as well ‘ave dropped a cannonball through the roof!” Oh, right, so now mah temper is back? It just ain’t fair...

“Applebloom, what the hay was that?” Sweetie Belle questioned, grinning widely.

“What was what?”

“Oh, nothing. Just the way you suddenly had a complete change of heart the moment Rumble offered you candy.”

“He was just bein’ nice! Ain’t no reason t’ be mad at that.”

“Yeah, but he was handing you your own candy, wasn’t he?” Spike corrected, glancing at Sweetie Belle who confirmed the statement with a nod. As the friends argued back and forth while Spike attempted to play damage control, Ruby tended to Scootaloo who had suffered no real injuries, much to her chagrin, and sat watching the doorway with an aimless stare; at least a sprained hoof or jammed wing would have given her an out.

“Scootaloo, what’re you thinking about?” Ruby inquired, dusting off some dust from the filly’s coat and expecting some kind of denial, and was quite pleasantly surprised with her enthusiastic reply.

“Pipsqueak, duh! Did you see the way he stood up to Applebloom? He’s, like, no match for her, and he was fearless! It was awesome!”

“Uh huh...” Ruby murmured, turning back to the rest. “Hey, everypony! Is Scootaloo gonna dance, or are you just gonna keep fighting!”

“Oh, she’ll dance all right. Sooner she goes, the sooner ah get t’ have mah revenge,” Applebloom muttered, glaring daggers at Sweetie Belle and returning to the circle. Scootaloo didn’t even have to bother being embarrassed, because all it took was one look to know that Ruby was the only pony paying her any attention. And so, she closed her eyes and let her limbs take over, the pinnacle of dainty and beacon of tranquility amongst a sea of agitation.

Rumble and Pipsqueak hadn’t actually gone very far away from the fort, having flown a short distance and then hid amongst the trees to wait for pursuers. Unfortunately, none came, making their “daring escape” much less fantastical than Pipsqueak had imagined it would be, and the thrill of the non-existent chase faded away, leaving him back in reality. Rumble was staring at one of the lollipops, unsure of how he felt after his first theft. Given that they were supplying the Lunar Princess with a peace offering, he could say they had the moral high ground, but Applebloom’s anger had kind of ruined the experience for him, and he turned to his captain, risked mutiny, and voiced his dissent.

“Hey, Pipsqueak, are we really going to keep these?” he asked, holding up the bag of lollipops. “I know Luna likes our gifts, but I don’t think she’d approve of thievery.”

“Well, of course we’re not going to just keep them. It was all just part of the fun,” Pipsqueak replied easily, smiling ear to ear. “Stealing isn’t fun unless you give it back. Getting chased helps, but from the sound of it, I think they are too busy... wrecking the place further?” he said, trailing off at the end and tilting his head to one side as angry shouts echoed through the trees, lasting only a few minutes before subsiding. “Come on, let’s go. You can do the talking, though. Something tells me I’m going to need Lionheart.” With a flourish, he whipped out his trusty blade, tossed it into the air and caught it deftly in his teeth, nodding for Rumble to lead the way.

Upon returning to the scene of the crime, they found the tree fort strangely quiet, and motioning for silence, Rumble and Pipsqueak snuck up the ramp. While they didn’t quite know what to expect, finding Scootaloo dancing didn’t even make it onto the list. The rest of the ponies had their backs to the entrance as the tempers died down and they gave their attention to the frolicing filly that was too deeply ingrained in her display to notice newcomers, her eyes halfway open but not perceiving the world around her. Rumble was vaguely curious about the dancing, though his eyes drew away from his fellow pegasus and to the hole he had unwittingly blown in the roof, leading his eyes back down to the builder.

I hope she’s not still mad. I mean, yeah, I did kind of break something... again... but it was an accident! He turned to whisper something to Pipsqueak only to find his unshakeable cohort thoroughly shaken, his eyes wide and the status of his lungs and their functionality questionable as he stood entranced by the overt femininity bombarding his brain. Time slowed as Pipsqueak’s jaw unhinged, his wooden sword falling to the ground with a loud clatter that instantly drew the eyes of everypony, including a mortified Scootaloo, onto the hapless duo. Quickly reaching down, Rumble snatched up the sword, stuck it back in Pip’s mouth, and forced his jaw closed with a hoof before turning with a sheepish grin to a crowd of ponies he barely knew.

“It’s... he... my dancing...” Unsure whether to pummel the peeping colts or have herself a girly fit, Scootaloo sank to her haunches and wished to the heavens she could disappear.

“Hey, Applebloom, look who’s back,” Sweetie Belle murmured, nudging Applebloom and pointing to the pair.

“Ah’m about ready t’ take a mallet t’ yer noggin’ if you don’t hush, Sweetie Belle. Ah swear, ever since you’ve started hanging out with Spike, you’ve been a right pain in the...” she growled before again realizing she had an audience. Alright, now’s mah chance t’ give ‘im the what for! Come on, Applebloom, be angry! Marching straight up to Rumble, she adopted a fierce glare and opened her mouth, though how her hoof made it inside, she wasn’t sure. “Howdy!” Dangit, that’s not what ah meant! “What’re you doin’ back ‘ere? Ain’t you busted the place up enough fer one day?”

Man, she is still mad... “I’m real sorry, I wasn’t trying to...” Rumble said softly, setting down the bag of candy and sliding it over with a hoof. “We were just having a bit of fun, but I messed up my fall a little bit. Here’s the candy back. If you’d like, I can help you fix it later.”

“Oh, uh... don’t worry ‘bout it, ah guess...” Applebloom replied, hesitating. Well, now ah feel like a moron, yellin’ at ‘im like that. He ain’t what ah was expectin’ at all. “It won’t take me very long t’ fix, ah think. Yer friend ok?” she asked, waving a hoof in front of Pipsqueak’s face.

“I have no idea. Sorry for bothering everypony. Pip? Come on, let’s go,” Rumble encouraged, trotting a few steps before turning to find his leader hadn’t moved an inch.

“Quit staring!” Scootaloo wailed, leaping to her hooves as a growing discomfort with the colt’s sudden fixation on her everything overcame her embarrassment. Galvanized into action, Pipsqueak tore out the door, knocking Rumble from the ramp in his haste and ignoring the groan from his downed friend as he disappeared into the trees shouting for everypony to abandon ship.

“Rumble! You ok?” Applebloom called out, peering over the side of the ramp.

“Some captain,” Rumble chuckled, coughing a little. “Thank you for your concern, Applebloom. I must obey the chain of command, but hopefully fate will bring us together again!” Standing and offering a slight bow for effect, he took off after his liege, leaving a confounded filly staring at the small crater where a pegasus had once lain. In a preemptive motion to keep the peace, Spike stepped in and whispered to Sweetie Belle.

“Any chance I could convince you not to tease Applebloom about colts? Discord may already be awake, but that doesn’t mean we need to lure him over.”

“I suppose I can lay off a little. Applebloom? Sorry for te...” she started before realizing that Applebloom was still outside. “Spike, you’re ruining my fun...”

“More like trying to keep three ponies from each other’s throats. Ruby? Is Scootaloo gonna be ok?”

“Ok? OK?!? How in Equestria could I be anything even close to ok? I just got seen by another pony dancing ballet! It’s over!”

“Shhh, it’ll be ok, Scootaloo. It was over a few days ago, remember?” Ruby soothed, placing a hoof on her friend’s shoulders. There was a soft thunk as Ruby’s intended encouragement drew Scootaloo’s forehead to the nearest hard surface. As normalcy was slowly restored and the group formed a circle once more, Spike had to wonder if there was a good reason why, barring himself, Twilight and her friends were all female. From his observation, things only got more chaotic with other colts around, but he wasn’t about to give up the bonds that were forming between himself and the other ponies in the room. It was rocky at times, and it always scared him when they fought, but he knew that even when tempers ran hot, the flames of friendship burned hotter still.

“Spike! You’re up,” Sweetie Belle declared, giving him a reassuring smile. “Truth or dare?”

“Whoa, uh... haven’t really given it much thought...” I don’t really have anything to hide, so truth might be safer. But then again, if I take a dare, maybe I could impress everypony. Gosh, this is hard... “Tr... da...” Oh well, here goes nothing. “Dare. And let’s at least try to make it something that doesn’t upset somepony. Please?” A hushed meeting was held, and Spike held high hopes as they came to a conclusion and turned back to him, all smiles.

“We dare you to write a fake letter to Princess Celestia.” While it may have seemed like a harmless prank, Spike hadn’t ever sent a gag letter to the princess, at least not on purpose or with his knowledge, and he had to wonder what repercussions awaited him as Applebloom scrounged up some paper and a pencil. However, eager to make his friends laugh, Spike sat in contemplation for a moment before adopting quite the sinister grin himself, chuckling as he got right to work. As he finished, he handed the letter to Scootaloo, awaiting approval.

“Dear Princess Celestia,

Today I learned that cake is loaded with fat and carbohydrates, and one should avoid over-indulgence lest it go straight to the flanks.

Your Faithful Student,

Twilight Sparkle

P.S.: If your hind quarters cause a lunar eclipse when you go for a night flight, it may mean you have a problem.”

Scootaloo barely made it through to the end of the letter before losing it, much like everypony else in attendance, and it took Spike a couple of minutes to calm down enough to send the letter. Twilight calling the princess fat? He wished he could be there to see what happened, and even knowing he was definitely going to get a lecture, the laughter easing the tension made any resulting consequences seem insignificant by comparison.

Applebloom was up next, and taking a page from her sister’s book, she opted for telling a truth. Spike had to wonder what had gotten into everypony that day, because it just seemed like they were trying extra hard to make each other miserable while he frantically scrambled to keep some semblance of peace, but as Ruby and he were adamantly ignored, along with their somewhat more tame questions, Scootaloo and Sweetie came up with their own inquiry, and suddenly the earth pony’s temper returned to her.

“Applebloom?” Sweetie Belle started, snickering as Applebloom rolled her eyes.

“Yeah, what? Come on, then, ask me a question!”

“Would you... date a pegasus?” It was a covert declaration of war, one that would not be ignored.

“Ah see what you did there, Sweetie Belle.”

“What? It’s a fair question!” Scootaloo quipped.

“Why do you wanna know so badly, huh Scootaloo? You interested? Hate t’ disappoint, but mah barn door don’t swing that way.”

“So, it..."

“Don’t swing fer nopony!” Applebloom shouted, moving from flustered to livid. “An’ ah’m ashamed o’ you fer even thinkin’ what you were thinkin’!”

“Guys, can we just...” Spike started before being partially deafened.

“NO!” all three cried in unison, returning to their bickering with gusto. Spike could only sigh, wondering if Twilight’s friends were the same when they were young, or if he were the only one blessed with more “excitable” friends. Ruby just shook her head, watching the fiasco, but as Applebloom darted away and returned with a mallet and ready for business, she decided she had witnessed enough needless fury for a day and promptly shocked everypony with a rather uncharacteristic outburst.

"Oh, for crying out loud! You’re all acting like a bunch of foals, you know that? Look, Applebloom thought Rumble was charming, Scootaloo couldn't quit watching Pipsqueak, and the whole of Ponyville knows Spike and Sweetie Belle were meant to be, so stop fighting about who likes who when everypony knows already!" As the last of the shout echoed away, it left calm, rational sanity in its wake. A nudge from Spike bid Sweetie Belle take the initiative making amends, neither refuting Ruby’s claims nor having any way to hide the faint blush coloring her cheeks.

“Sorry for teasing you, Applebloom. I didn’t mean to make you so mad.”

“It’s all right, ah shouldn’t ‘ave gotten so bent outta shape,” the earth pony replied, scuffing the floor with a hoof.

“And I’m sorry for taking it too far,” Scootaloo chimed in with a rueful smile. “I know there’s no way you’re even thinking about that... My head gets a little twisted living with, well, Storm and Rainbow Dash. My parents sure don’t help.”

“Scootaloo, yer mother alone is dirtier than all five o’ us combined. Ain’t yer fault you gotta live with ‘em,” Applebloom assured. “Friends?”

“Friends!” they declared, sharing a three way high hoof.

“So, uh... ah guess ah need t’ answer still... Ah guess ah would? Ah ain’t really thought about it none, but ah don’t have anythin’ against pegasi. Ah mean, both my brother and sister married unicorns, so ah don’t feel like ah need t’ be with an’ earth pony.”

“That makes sense. I mean, why should it matter?” Spike interjected. “It’s what’s inside that counts, not whether they have horns, wings, or nothing at all.”

“Or spines...” Sweetie Belle murmured, too soft for anypony to hear. “So, I guess I’m up next, then. Seeing how truth is such a dangerous subject, I’ll gladly take a dare.”

“Ruby, Scootaloo, come talk t’ me a second. Spike, you stay there,” Applebloom ordered, pulling back with the other two ponies while Spike and Sweetie Belle had a merry time looking awkwardly around the room. “All right, Ruby, you were spot on ‘bout Spike an’ Sweetie Belle. What do you suggest?”

“I’m not sure I follow.”

“Well, ah don’t know, maybe we could give them a little push?”

“Whoa, hold on, Applebloom," Scootaloo warned, shaking her head. "We’ve tried being matchmakers before, and it didn’t end well. And given everything that’s just happened...”

“Look who’s bein’ a fraidyfilly,” Applebloom prodded, adopting a smug grin as Scootaloo became defensive.

“I am not!”

“Are too.”

“Am not!”

“All right, then. Let’s make ‘em kiss.” Suddenly, there was silence in the room as everypony stared at Applebloom. Teasing was one thing, but actually forcing somepony to kiss another? That wasn’t just mean for Applebloom to suggest at an age when a peck on the cheek was tantamount to a proposal in significance, it was borderline taboo. Scootaloo shook her head vigorously, trying to reject the mushy thoughts that plagued her while Ruby gave it due contemplation.

“Ugh, you can’t be serious, Applebloom! I mean... that’s just...” Scootaloo started, unable to fathom the horrors of a public display of affection, even among close friends.

“Well, how about if we all agree t’ do somethin’ nice for ‘em afterwards if they don’t like it?” Applebloom offered.

“Don’t like... it’s not about whether or not they like it, Applebloom! It’s a kiss! Kiss, don’t you get it? Wet, slobbery, mushy...” she shuddered, glancing over her shoulder to find that she had inadvertently raised her voice, leaving one mortified pony and one dragon who was torn between being excited or booking it out of there as fast as two dragon legs could take him.

“You... you wouldn’t...” Sweetie Belle said, taking a step back.

“Yeah, come on! Haven’t you all tormented each other enough for one day?” Spike added, crossing his arms. “That’s not the type of thing you just make another pony do. It’s just not...”

“I’ll do it.” There was a collective cry of alarm followed by a deathly hush as Spike slowly turned to face Sweetie Belle, limbs stiff and eyes wide.

“Y... y-you’ll...” Spike stammered, disbelief stamped on his face. Is she really pushing for this? I mean, sure, I’d THOUGHT about it, but I never expected it to happen! Not for, like... a really, really long time!

“A-Applebloom, make the dare.” In truth, Sweetie Belle wasn’t quite sure why she was, at that moment, ok with the thought. She certainly held Spike in high esteem, and was truly grateful for his encouragement the day Rarity had yelled at her, but she had to wonder if there was something more to it.

“Well, it kinda ruins it if yer askin’, but fine. Sweetie Belle, ah dare you t’...” she paused, her jaw dropping as their fort was invaded a third time by the terrible brigand duo, and her mind got jumbled in the worst of ways. “...kiss Rumble?”

“Wait, I’m kissing who?!?” Sweetie Belle cried, whirling around and staring at the newcomers who were every bit as confused as she. “I am not kissing Rumble, Applebloom!"

“Well, yeah, because that’s Applebloom’s job,” Scootaloo replied, snickering as Applebloom violently shook her head.

“Ah meant t’ say Spike! Sweetie Belle is kissin’ Spike, an’ then we’re through with this game!”

“Oh, are you sure? There’s two more ponies that might want to play,” Sweetie Belle pointed out. “Hello, you two, come on in.”

“Thank ye kindly, bonny wench!” Pipsqueak quipped before he found himself being stared down by an angry dragon, albeit a small one.

“What’d you call her?” Spike growled, instantly defensive.

“Pipsqueak, watch your language!” Rumble urged, standing between them. “Sorry, Spike. Pip didn’t mean anything by it, he just gets... caught up in things. We were just coming by to see if we might be able to join in, but if it’s going to be a problem, we can just...”

“It ain’t no trouble at all,” Applebloom said quickly. “Everypony calm down, we ‘ave guests!”

“Guests?” Scootaloo murmured, glancing sidelong at Applebloom who wasn’t paying her a lick of attention.

“Captain, tell the lady you’re sorry,” Rumble urged, alternately looking between his friend and Spike, who was still standing with his arms crossed awaiting an apology.

“I paid the filly a compliment, so why sh...” he started, before actually taking in his surroundings. Bravery and foolish bravado were two different things, and he was now outnumbered six to one. “Sorry, Sweetie Belle. I wasn’t trying to be rude.” The apology was genuine, and satisfied Spike well enough, and after the two colts were caught up on what exactly was going on, the spotlight returned to one young starlet and one dragon whose mind was getting a head start on shorting out.

Oh man, she’s moving closer! What the hay? I’m moving closer, not her! Wait, maybe both of us are? It was indeed the both of them, and they stopped face to face, blushing profusely and feeling their unspoken crushes on one another burning as only young love can. He edged his face just a little closer before the very floorboards shook at the deafening blast of the royal Canterlot voice, courtesy of one very unamused princess confronting her bewildered student.

“TWILIGHT SPARKLE, WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS!” The fort continued to shake as everypony save one dragon who knew his time spent amongst the living was fast drawing to a close fell to the floor in a mutual fit of derision, tears of mirth being shed all around.

“I’m glad you all think it’s funny. Today’s probably going to be the last day you see me alive, after all...” Spike mumbled with a sigh.

“Oh, come... come on, don’t... gimme a minute!” Sweetie Belle started, attempting to comfort the poor dragon but not having control enough to do so. His sour expression did a lot to calm her, and order was restored as she assumed her position in front of him once again, a hush coming over everypony.

“Well, if, um... if you’re going to disappear, then I better... get my kiss.”

“Ooooo!” everypony chorused behind them, causing a timid blush to suddenly dominate the white unicorn’s muzzle with crimson. Spike was similarly colored, and as they both leaned a little closer, so did everypony in the room, the utter lack of background noise adding to the atmostphere. Closer...

Oh no, not now! But alas, it was not within Spike’s abilities to refuse messages sent back to him, and he could do nothing but beg for mercy as he again scorched a few strands of Sweetie’s mane with a fatefully ill-timed inbound message.

“Wow, Spike, I may not be into lovey-dovey stuff, but that’s just bad manners,” Scootaloo teased, a wave of snickers echoing through the room as Spike, unable to save face, took a step back and picked up the letter, paling as he read a very worrisome threat by one Twilight Sparkle, likely near combustion by the sound of her scathing words. Sweetie Belle would have been angry with him, were it not for the look of abject horror he now wore and the thousand yard stare to go with it. Snatching the letter from his loose claws, Sweetie Belle scanned it, glanced up, and wondered how Spike was still standing and not curled in the corner waiting for his life to end.

Poor Spike... He’s really in for it when he gets home. Maybe I can help cheer him up. And I swear, if one more thing interrupts my first kiss... “Spike? Don’t worry too much, ok? By the time you get home, maybe she’ll have calmed down...” He shrugged off her encouragement, too dejected at upsetting Twilight to care. I can’t kiss him like this, it’s just not right! “Everypony go upstairs. Now,” she commanded, her tone carrying enough weight that not even Pipsqueak would have stood up to her. They quietly obeyed, and as soon as they were alone, she sat down beside Spike and stared down at the floor.

“If it helps at all, we can tell Twilight we helped with the letter...”

“Sweetie Belle, I have the Element of Magic and the Solar Princess after me. I hardly think a few choice words from anypony is going to save me.” Sweetie Belle couldn’t well deny that he was in a dire position, but she had to say something to cheer him up, but what? How does one prepare a friend to meet certain doom? And that’s when she remember she was a girl, and he was a boy, and they were bound by a dare. Will all the grace and poise of an angry rhino, she abruptly shoved Spike onto his back, where he lay dazed and utterly confused until Sweetie’s face came into view, and the lights came on.

Oh man... oh man oh man! Is she really gonna... Panic almost made it, but then he realized something. There’s no better way to leave the world, right? “Sweetie Belle?”

“D-don’t get the wrong idea, Spike. They made a dare, so I... have to, you know...” She edged a little closer, and Spike became acutely aware of a rather odd burning sensation in his chest.

“It’s... just the dare?” Man... that’s not what I...

“Spike, hush,” Sweetie Belle ordered, blushing as she failed to keep from being visibly nervous.

She’s blushing... That’s good, right? If Twilight lets me live long enough to explain, this is going to make one heck of a report... oh gosh, she’s really close! Hurry up, Sweetie Belle, before my heart explodes! Their eyes locked for just one moment, their youthful curiosity and young love backed by the most irrevocable and sacred of all vows, and eyes closed as they prepared for whatever lay on the other side of the great beyond.

“SPIKE! You are so busted! Do you even...” Twilight shouted, charging up the steps and taking in the scene at a glance. Not even Twilight’s smoldering indignation could hope to match a singer’s vocal chords as she let slip a teeny bit of her frustration.

“Oh, COME ON! I’ve been trying to kiss Spike all afternoon, Twilight! You couldn’t wait just five more seconds before charging in here?”

“Trying to...” Her mind took a brief hiatus to wrap itself around the statement as the rest of the gang came tumbling in from the upstairs, falling in a heap in their haste not to miss a bit of the action, and Twilight’s mothering instincts kicked it into high gear as she noticed two other colts in the group.

Four fillies, three colts... Spike and Sweetie Belle were... They seriously were... With so many males in the room, and given the position she had found Spike in, they were clearly feeding off of her student’s forbidden knowledge and delving where no filly or colt their age should ever go. Spike soon became encompassed in a lavender aura and was yanked face to face with death itself, who made proclamation in a dangerously low growl. “You have a lot of explaining to do, mister.” Any urge to continue such a life threatening game was set aside, and as the rest left to find newer, more safe adventures, Sweetie Belle stayed behind to lament the regrettable loss of the opportunity of a lifetime, her mark disappearing in a lavender flash.

Next Chapter: Unintentional Confession Estimated time remaining: 13 Hours, 56 Minutes
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