Written by The Descendant
Owliscious settled onto his perch on the far side of their living space.
As he worked at his wings, forcing the melting sleet from the down, he kept one ear and one eye on the figures of Twilight and Spike. They moved about wordlessly, slowly putting the wet scarves across the hearth, the sound of their hooves and clawed feet sounding out above the crackling of the fire.
The owl looked at Twilight, saw her looking at Spike with a distant, worried contemplation. He spun his head to look at Spike, saw him avoiding her gaze, moving sheepishly.
An understanding flew through the bird, and he slowly but certainly hid his face from their view and attempted to doze. In that moment the bird was very happy for his Equestrian animal intellect that he was smart enough to understand, comprehend, even if he was unable to articulate.
At least, the owl realized, that meant that he didn't have to give the baby dragon The Talk.
Twilight took a deep breath, and spun to face Spike.
She let it out in a long "pfffffttttt" of spittle, misspent energy, and lost determination as the bathroom door silently clicked shut.
She went before the fire, watched the vapor rise off of the scarves. There was nothing to do now but plan. She restated her assumptions, that Spike had been scared out of the library because he believed, erroneously very erroneously, that she and Caramel were about to partake in a biological act.
She laid out her plan once more in her mind, the one that had begun to form in the sleeting drizzle as they made their way back to their little home across the slippery stones.
One, show him the evidence and let him draw his own conclusions. Two, get him to state his assumptions. Three the hard one, explain the context, function, purpose and every squishy little detail of the said act so that he was no longer afraid of it and had a frame of reference. That he would know the risks and rewards.
Her head swam for a bit. She wondered about perhaps finding something to add to her tea that would be a bit more bracing. She decided against it.
Four no, four was the hard one, she realized, the one he'd have the hardest time dealing with. Four, let him know plainly that this was her body, and what she did with it was her own decision. She was a logical, thinking creature who knew the risks, and would make her own decisions
just as she now hoped he would be equipped to do.
Her head swam again. That had been hard for her to think about, surprisingly hard that the little baby dragon whelp she'd lifted from a basket in the nursery would someday
She looked to the kitchen to see if there was something more bracing to be had.
She ran through The Talk as her parents had given it to her, rolled her eyes as she remembered the parts they'd stuttered through, rehearsed the lines in her head. The fire crackled and she stared at the bathroom door. No. It's time.
"Spike?" she said, lifting herself and crossing over to the door, words fluttering through their home for the first time since they'd returned, "Didja' fall in?"
"My tummy hurts," came his reply, softly, through the thick door.
Oh Celestia, oh Luna, it just gets better.
"Spike, if you can, please come out. We, we need to talk about, about "
Ovaries. Urethra. Plateau phase. Fallopian tubes. Zygotes. Trimesters. Afterbirth.
She turned as the sound of water in the sink reached her, listened as the door came open and little clawed feet made their way across the wooden floor to the carpet behind her.
She turned to look at him as he stood there before the fire in his typical face of worry, rubbing his hands up and down his opposite arms, barely looking at her as the light from the fire fell over him. Overhead the grey skies offered little light, and the sound of the sleet beating at the windows made up the background noise of the conversation that unfolded.
"Spike," she said, lifting her hoof from where she had laid, pointing to the table, "What do you notice about our table?"
He slowly turned his head, examined it as it caught the light of the fire. "You you got the eaves in " he stated hesitantly.
"No," she said, softly, "Caramel did "
She waited while he stopped wincing.
"Caramel has a handyhoof business Spike! He was here for more than half of an hour. He worked on the table, and then we had some tea. He was about to leave when I said that I had one more job he might like to consider "
Spike looked up to her with a growing awareness across his features.
"I asked him if he could make you a bed, Spike. I wanted to surprise you with a brand new 'big boy bed' we were going upstairs so he could measure your basket Spike, Spike nothing "
"Oh Twilight! I'm sorry!" he said, falling to his knees, his eyes watering. As his hands covered his mouth she blinked in surprise, his reaction startling her. "I I didn't think, I just just saw the two of you, and I I felt, it hurt and I ran I, I thought that you you were "
She forced her expression to soften, watched as his hands went back over his mouth. She sat, waited, as he blushed. Blushing is fine. Embarrassment is fine. It's just as natural as the act he was struggling to put into words, she thought. Embarrassment, she realized, is fear's first cousin. It tells us that this is important, this matter is important, pay attention.
"I thought that you were gonna " he said, his face going a stark crimson as he hid behind his hands.
Go ahead, Spike, she thought as she forced her face to become softer, say the word. It's okay I won't get mad. String together the three little letters, make the word that has brought every creature you've ever met into reality. Let it just come out the word that has brought so much pleasure and pain, so much joy and heartache. It's okay I won't get mad, she told herself, let's talk about this.
At once something thudded against Twilight's thoughts a horrible feeling. As she looked at him as he struggled memories flooded her mind of him playing in the sandbox in Canterlot, his laughter as they went together through the Ponyville streets, as she tucked him in at night. Will that change, the way she sees him, and he her, if they have this talk?
She forced herself not to startle, but suddenly she realized why all the other stories the happy little lies about magic mirrors that foals come through, she realized why they exist. They exist so that things don't have to change.
She leaned forward a little bit, nodded to him. Different parts of her wavered inside her back and forth both in anticipation and worry over his reply.
He opened his little clawed hands, exposing his mouth, took a tiny breath.
"Do grown-up stuff," he said swiftly, instantly shutting his claws back once more over his face, going even redder.
She breathed a quiet sigh, closed her eyes and opened them gently. An excellent compromise, she thought. Well played. I love you.
One and two were done easy enough. Now, now came the hard ones.
Twilight let a vision enter her mind. She decided to construct a metaphor, one that appeared more like an old time political cartoon than a mental image. Inside her own thoughts she saw 46,000 little copies of herself forming into ranks. They were as soldiers, an entire division, and their armor was labeled "Determination", and their weapons were "Understanding", "Reasoning", and "Factual Information".
She set them to marching, and as these thousands of tiny Twilight Sparkles marched they set their eyes upon the figure of a tiny castle. On it's ramparts an armor-clad Spike sat defiantly with a spear labeled "Misconception", the flag above him reading "Ignorance".
Okay, girls, time to storm the castle. Have fun.
"Spike," said Twilight, factually, "When a bee collects pollen from a flower, she takes it to the next "
Before she had even finished the sentence she witnessed Spike's features change entirely. He went from the retreating figure of an uncomfortable little boy back to his more harsh, judgmental stare.
"Really?" he said, his voice cracking, "That's where you're gonna go with this?"
She stared at him blankly, and he bounced back from her a little, raising his hands in deference.
"Oh, okay just, just skip ahead to stuff with backbones "
In her mind the metaphor witnessed her skirmishers being thrown back, some scared off by large cartoonish alligators in the moat. Her own face fell down a shade as she moved to continue on.
"When, when a mommy and a daddy want to have a baby " she began.
"No," he said, resting his head against his chest, tilting it so that he looked down at the carpet at an angle. He had become quiet, both of his earlier appearances giving way to something more fragile. This wasn't going as she had planned.
"No," he continued, "They don't need to be trying to make a baby. They don't even need to be married."
Twilight sucked in a sharp breath. In her metaphor her first few brigades were thrown back retreating in a panic through the rest of her ranks that looked on nervously. She looked at him, part of her trying to understand how a frank explanation of basic biology had somehow become a debate.
He looked up at her, wiped his hands across his face. "Twi," he said, pointing out the door of their living space, "We live in a library a library Twi. The books in the section next to the clock third shelf. I know where all the books are here you know that. I'm, I'm your Number One Assistant."
Her mind raced across the library, saw a stand of books remembered their titles and purpose.
Oh Celestia, oh Luna reproductive biology, relationship guides!
Oh Celestia, oh Luna some of those were fully illustrated! Color photographs!
The color drained out of Twilight as he looked at her like he'd just admitted something he was ashamed of, as his expression fell down and he went to the floor as though he expected to be punished.
But she couldn't wouldn't even if she hadn't been trying to explain all of this. Her metaphorical troops marched forward hesitantly as she loaded her last bolt
"When, when a stallion and a mare love each other very much?" she found herself asking.
"No!" he called out in a pained shriek. At once he slapped at the carpet with both hands, rose up, spun on her with the flush going back over his face, "No, don't fib to me! It went really bad when I fibbed to you, so don't do it to me!"
"Spike " she whispered, her color now fully dropping out of her, her eyes going wide.
"They don't need need to love each other! They barely even need to to know each other! That's why I was so scared, be because Caramel doesn't love you! I I was afraid he might be one of them!" he cried, holding his arms close to himself, choking through the sentences.
"Spike," she asked again as a great and powerful dragon began to emerge from the castle her metaphorical troops had been advancing upon, "Who who "
"One of the the colts!" he said, choking, "One of the colts who who stand on the street corners when I'm doing our shopping, or when I'm out for a walk."
Her hoof went to her mouth.
"I hear how they talk about fillies. What they want to do to them how they want to treat them. Treat treat them like animals, just something something to be used " he said, beginning to shake, literally trembling.
Part of Twilight wanted to rise up right now and leap across the way to him, gather him up. Yet, another part, the calm part, knew that he wanted to express something something that the young dragon whelp, the little boy, was struggling to articulate. Tears came to his eyes as he continued.
"I I don't get everything they say but "
She made a mental note to definitely take more care to observe who he was around during the day.
"When I hear how how they act, how they talk about some mares how they laugh as they say what they did to them " he stood, turned to her, his eyes streaming, "If I ever heard one of them talk about you you like, like that I think it would kill me, I think it would kill me, Twi!"
His arms wrapped tighter around his stomach, almost doubling him up in a very real and very palpable pain as he stood before her. She wanted to leap to him, wrap him in a hug, rock him over and over and make little sounds of reassurance. Yet, the logical part of her kept her there, looking up to him, knowing that he must be allowed to express his fears the fears of a child for his well, whatever she was to him.
"It hurts! It hurts my tummy to even think about one of them just using you, anypony ever just seeing you as a toy! It hurts like getting shots right in my tummy! Oh, Twi, it hurts!" he said, wincing, wrapping his arms tighter to his stomach, clamping his eyes shut as the tears started again.
Twi felt her own eyes watering, witnessing the horrible majesty of this, his great fear. Inside her mind her metaphorical troops began melting away, their manes on fire in a comedic way, some with "X's" in their eyes and tongues hanging out in a cartoonish parody of a lost battle. The dragon advanced upon her in that metaphor his claws marked "Fear", his teeth labeled "Concern".
"Twi Twi, I I want you to have somepony in your life Twi, if that's what would make you happy "
Her ears perked up and her eyes went wide once more as the conversation took a turn she definitely had not expected. He spoke again, seeming to talk to the scarves that still lay steaming before the fireplace.
" you'd be great for some colt. But I, I want you to to have somepony who loves you. Loves you, Twi."
He stood, turned to face her as tears streamed down his face, and he returned to being the uncertain child she'd been trying to assuage. To her immense relief his arms came unwrapped from his stomach, his pain lessening visibly as he looked up to her. To her amazement he put his clawed hands out before her, and she lowered her chin into them and looked at him as he spoke to her.
"I I really want you to have a colt, no a stallion, a real stallion, who would never, ever, ever, ever, hurt you who would love you forever and ever "
He rubbed his forehead to hers, some of his tears catching in her purple coat as he sniffled his way through his wants and wishes for her.
"Some stallion who will be kind to you gentle with you, understand all the little things that make you you. One who knows "
He retracted his hands back to his mouth, the little boy, the whelp fighting for his words. She lifted herself onto her front hooves, looked down over him as the wet of his eyes reflected the firelight and the grey of the skies beyond.
" knows how special you are how wonderful you are loves you for "
To her surprise he opened his hand, ran it over the space between her eyes, up to her forelock.
"Loves you for what's behind your eyes what's up here "
She watched as he put his hand to the little hollow of her chest, stretching it far out to her as she stood on her forehooves. He danced the tips of his claws across her in a little circle, tickling her in the slightest. She lowered her head to try to see what he was doing but only as she felt the tips of his claws tremble there did she realize realize that he was invoking her heart
"Love you for what's in here "
He stepped back, painted a smile across his face. He mumbled something, winced as he did.
"Spike?" she asked in a voice only just above a whisper.
"I I want you to have a stallion in your life, if that's what will make you happy, Twi. But but only if if "
He mumbled again, and she leant forward.
"But only if," he said, quaking through the words, the types of words little boys always have trouble saying, "only if he he never hurts you, only only if only if he loves you .loves you, loves you as much as I do."
"Loves you as much as I do," he repeated.
The tears streamed down his face in large rolling spheres, crossing over the falsely painted smile. His smile tried to hide his fears for her, the horrible thought that somepony might actually just view her, the one living thing in this world he loved completely, as something to be used.
The smile hid the hope that there must be some pony out there who, in time, would share his love for her and that much more love her enough to lead her to that wonderful place where Spike's love for her was not designed and had no want or wish to go.
She knew this smile, what the false smile meant she had seen it before. She'd seen it on the face of another male who loves her in a way very similar to the little dragon now before her.
Her mind's-eye flashed back through her life. She arrived back in her family home in Canterlot, and she felt herself as a child again, a little filly-foal.
It was just after she had received The Talk from her own parents. She had stumbled around in that awkward silence following the frank and factual biological discussion, new words and concepts still flashing around in her head that made her simultaneously want to giggle hilariously and be sick all over the azalea bushes.
She remembered coming out into the kitchen and seeing one of the strangest sights of her life. Her father, her loving, caring father stood there, his head fully inside the icebox. He drank in the cold, taking deep breaths. Breaths that steamed back out into the icebox in clouds of vapor.
As a child she had wondered about this and then simply wrote it off as part of that unusual day. As an adult, these years and decades later, she understood. It hadn't been easy for him, The Talk. As it had gone on he'd been nervous, mother doing most of the "heavy lifting". He'd in fact been so put off that he'd mispronounced one of the crucial terms as "organism".
Twilight understood now why he was there, in the icebox, his head resting in the crisper drawer. He had been fighting a fight. He had been raging, screaming inside his own mind, trying to use the cold to numb away the images that beat at him the realization that someday some colt, just some random unwashed colt, would be hunched over the adult form of the little filly he had read to until she fell asleep in his lap, his precious daughter that he'd carried to bed all of those nights.
He had attempted to use the cold to drive away the awful image of a slobbering, grunting form covering the grown body of the little girl who'd given him butterfly kisses and run down the school hallway to him, jumping into his forelegs and wrapping him in countless hugs.
"Hi, Pumpkin," he had said when he finally lifted his head from among the milk bottles and cabbages, painting that false smile, the same one Spike now wore, "Would you like me to make us some nice cold milkshakes?"
Yes, Spike wore that same smile now too and she hated him for it. Well, hate was far too strong but it was so unfair, utterly unfair. She was supposed to be worrying about him she was the one raising him now. He was the one who was supposed to be free from worry. Only the small concerns of a child were supposed to be his.
No wonder her metaphorical troops had been so soundly beaten. The harsh biology and reassuring facts had been the wrong weapons to arm them with. No, Spike shared his concerns with those of her father, those her wonderful, loving daddy had seen play out during his unhappy sojourn among the dairy products. They were worried for her didn't want to see her hurt, used they wanted her to be loved.
How much worse, she realized, it must be for Spike.
She looked back to him, drawing herself out of her reflection. He still stood there, his eyes watering, looking down into the fire as he ran his clawed hands up and down his arms once more.
She thought about Spike what his world involved. It wasn't much. He owned nothing. The bassinet back in their now cold unused room in Canterlot was property of the nursery, something that they should probably have returned before coming to Ponyville.
The basket upstairs they had found here in the library, he uncomfortably refusing to sleep on the downstairs couch she realizing he wasn't ready to be so far from her yet, the reassuring sound of her breath at night if he awoke being all that he needed to be sure everything was fine.
No, he had nothing. He had no vast hoard, no glittering cavern. She was his world, his everything. Everything he believed, felt, and knew existed inside of her she was the total sum of his reality.
And he was worried for her his, well, whatever she was to him. Certainly more than a boss, definitely most like a best friend. But but there was more, something like she was his big sister. Perhaps, perhaps even his mother figure?
It was perhaps all of these, perhaps none. All that she knew was that in his world, and hers, they shared something something unique and special, a love born of friendship, and she thanked Celestia for it.
Whatever their relationship was, he was her little one, and she his big one, and now she moved to draw out the fear and pain he felt for her.
Step three had been an absolute and complete failure. Thank Luna that they were in utter agreement about part four.
This was her body, and she was the one who would decide how it would be used. It was no more Spike's decision or her father's decision on how her body's fate would unfold than it was the decision of any of the colts whom both feared would somehow trick her into their lustful embraces.
Ha! No. That was not the fate of Twilight Sparkle, she reminded herself, smirking softly as she looked to him. That was a decision she'd made before this dragon could even speak. No, there was no place in her life for some stallion without compassion, without love no colt would find a place in her life who did not show himself to be empathetic. No colt was getting that far into her life without loving her first.
And, as sure as the Well of Souls is deep, no pony was going to get into any other part of her before that, either.
So, she thought, why not tell him that?
"Spike?" she said, reaching her foreleg out to him, "Would, would you come here, please?"
Spike stopped looking deep into the fire, stopped running his hands up and down his arms. There was a mix of emotions on his face, relief that he had been able to say these important things, the flush that only a little boy can wear when he'd been made to say things like "love" and "special".
As he turned to face her she smiled over him. As he looked up to her she took his hand in her foreleg. Sitting down in a rather uncomfortable position, her weight supported entirely on her back legs, she took his hand as his expressions all fell away to one of astonishment.
Then, slowly, she opened his hand with one hoof as it rested in the other, one claw at a time. He did not react, did not question, his trust in her complete, his wonder at the act total.
When all had come open she slowly turned it over and laid his hand across her chest. She smiled over him once more as the sleet continued to pound at the window and the flicker of the flames of the fireplace spilled out over them.
"Spike," she said, holding his hand to the hollow of her chest, "I'm going to make you a promise okay? Is that alright with you, that I make you a promise?"
"Yeah, Twi yeah, that's okay," he said softly.
"Spike," she said, lowering herself so that he had more control over his hand, "Spike, what is this?"
"Your heart," he answered, the whelp blinking, the last few tears running down his face, thankfully and finally dripping into the carpet.
"Spike," she said, "when, or if, the day ever comes when I think I've found a stallion who I want to be with who I think can be the one to make me happy, and I him, I promise I promise that I will be absolutely, utterly sure that he loves me. That I know as sure as the sun is shining and the Well is deep that he won't hurt me that his heart is big, as big as mine or even bigger. That I know that he has as much love in his heart as the ones who are already in mine."
With that she slowly released her hooves, let his little hand stand against her chest as they smiled to each other, his happy face returning to their little home for the first time in that long, late afternoon.
Slowly he retracted his hand, stood before her with his hands cupped together, smiling at her widely.
"So," she said, giving a great long sigh of relief, "how did I do? That work for ya'?"
"Heh!" he laughed, his face blushing once more as he put his hands behind his back, "Yeah yeah, that was pretty good!"
They stood there for a long moment, each staring at each other with big dumb dopey smiles. The pony tilted her head to look at him as he twisted one foot back and forth across the rug. Someday, she remembered, he would have to make such a choice too. Turnabout, she thought, is fair play.
"Well," she said, leaning towards him, nodding, "What about you? Would you make me the same promise?"
"What?" he said, his face suddenly going into one of puzzlement.
"Would you make me the same promise?" she repeated, nuzzling him once.
"Blegh!" he replied, sticking his finger in his mouth, the little boy's reserve of ability to cope with all this lovey-dovey frilly type of talk now entirely spent.
"C'mon Spike," she said in a soft laugh that gave way to a chiding tone, "Somewhere out there this afternoon is a little girl dragon who's wondering if when she's a grown dam she'll meet a wonderful, caring, loving drake and I just happen to know where there is one "
As he blushed he looked first to the carpet, then up to the windows where the sleet still rattled and shook. He looked out them for a long moment, then back to Twilight.
"Do do you really think so, Twi?"
"Maybe she's over the mountains," began Twilight, looking at him wistfully, "maybe she's down the coast maybe she's one of us, a summoner to a designate, but, yes I think so. I certainly hope so."
Spike looked back to the window, then back to Twilight.
"Do I get an exception if Rarity ever comes around?"
Twilight stifled a snort.
"Yeah," she said, rolling her eyes, "you've got immunity on that one "
Spike blinked a few times, took a step closer to her, lifted his hands. She raised her hoof into them, and he placed the flat of her hoof against his chest.
"I promise," he said, "to treat all of the girls, dragon or pony, that come into my life the same way I hope, beg, that the ones I love will be treated."
As his hands fell away and her hoof was left resting lightly on his chest she pondered his words. That hadn't been quite what she'd wanted to hear. But, all things considered, it was close enough.
She slowly dropped her hoof. The Talk was over. Exercise complete. Well done, everyone. Spike was fine, she was fine, everything was fine. Life moved on once more.
"Hi, Twilight," he said after a long moment of awkward silence, "I'm back, they cancelled the Gathering."
She laughed a bit, saw he was looking for a "redo" of his actions, wanted to show her how responsible he was. No, no don't do that yet, Spike, she thought. Don't start acting all grown up don't fly away from me yet. I'm not ready for that.
"How was it?" she said with a laugh as a cunning thought swept through her mind.
"It sucked," he said, running his hands across the frills on his head, looking down to the carpet in thought, "Hey we have half of an hour before we have to get dinner started. What are we gonna do until then?"
He looked back up to see Twilight in a position more like a Bengal tiger about to pounce than a pony, her eyes narrowed and her mouth curled up into wonderfully wicked little smile.
"Uh oh!" he was able to breathe before her attack began.
Owliscious came awake again as the sound filled the little living space. He blinked his great vibrant eyes and spun his head back and forth before it was able to settle on the source of the cacophony.
He watched as Twilight planted the raspberries on Spike's stomach. As the dragon laughed and laughed she tickled him, flipping him onto his back as he tried to roll over, knowing to avoid the toughest scales knowing where the little spaces were that would send him into another giggling fit.
At once he broke and ran, laughing as he sped around the bookcase. To Owliscious's surprise Twilight emerged on the other side alone, a little look of surprise and anticipation across her own face.
At once Spike slid out through the bookcase, catching her unaware as she looked to where she had thought he'd come from. Sliding beneath her Spike danced his own fingers across her belly, chest, and neck, sending the pony to the ground, her dulcet laugher filling the room. The dragon tickled her behind her ears, made down her neck to her shoulders and back up again as she giggled and turned to him.
At once though Twilight had gathered him up once more, tickling the underside of his tail and belly in sequence as he tried half-heartedly to defend himself, as their laughter filled the room.
Soon enough it was over, and though Owliscious could not physically smile the happiness in the bird was evident as he once more put his head under his wing. Before he did he gave one last pleased peek at the two who sat before the fireplace, sheltering in each other's embrace as the sleet thrummed against the windows and rattled the panes.