Written By Closer-To-The-Sun (Joseph Noblit)
At Sweet Apple Acres, two youngsters were playing in the apple orchards late in the afternoon. One of them, the yellow, earth pony filly, was running around and through the trees. Zigging and zagging, her red mane and tail, along with her large pink bow, flowed as she dashed away from her friend. Following close behind was a purple and green dragon. Though his body was small, he was closing the gap between them.
"You can't run forever, Applebloom!" the dragon called out with a playful smirk.
With a laugh, the pony replied, "Ah'm tellin' ya, Spike, ya can't keep up with the likes of me! Ah'm the best crusader when it comes ta playin' tag!"
"That doesn't mean you won't get tired!" Spike sounded determined to win.
Playfully, Applebloom stuck her tongue out at the dragon before bolting off deeper into the orchard. Spike followed, no willing to let her escape his sight.
Suddenly, Applebloom noticed that the sky was turning into different colors. Paused, she waited for Spike to catch up to her, "It's gettin' pretty late, do ya wanna call it a draw?"
Prideful, Spike refused, "No way! I'm not going to lose to you just like that!"
With a sly grin, she slightly shoved Spike down with her hooves before resuming her running, "Then try not ta lose!"
Picking himself up off the ground, Spike moved quickly to continue his pursuit of the little filly. This time, however, Spike was able to not only tag Applebloom, but also tackle her to the ground. Letting out an 'eep' in surprise, the little pony began to wrestle with the baby dragon playfully. Their laughter echoed as it grew later. Before too long, Celestia's sun retreated behind the horizon and night blanketed Equestria.
Spike was the first to stand up and make a statement, "Wow, it really did get dark fast."
"Yer not a scaredy dragon, are ya?" Applebloom edged him on.
"Pfft, no way," Spike partly lied. While the dark didn't bother him, it was the fact that he didn't want to admit that he had no idea which way led back to the farm and then back to Ponyville.
"Good, because ah don't think Rarity would think it very brave of ya if ya can't handle a lil' darkness," the filly giggled, trotting along with a little moonlight shining down to illuminate the ground.
The dragon ignored the comment and his burning cheeks and spoke of something else, "Say, do you know where we are?"
"Ah think so," Applebloom replied, trying to sound reassuring, "ah wander out here quite a bit durin' applebuckin' season, so ah kinda know this place."
"Um, alright…." Spike was a little worried. He tried not to look frightened.
For a few minutes, Applebloom trotted in, what seemed to Spike, circles among the trees until she stopped abruptly.
"Ah know where it is!" she sounded excited.
"Know what now?"
Without an answer, Applebloom dashed forward into some shrubs. Spike felt nervous and scared being left alone in the dark and quickly closed the distance, "W-Wait for me!"
On the other side of the bushes, a small, abandoned shack stood in the darkness. The yellow pony was trotting up to the door and entering without hesitation. "Come on, Spike! Quit draggin' yer tail!"
He followed his commands from the pony, entering the door, "What is the place?"
Lighting a small lamp, Applebloom finally answered, "It's a secret hideout! Well, kinda. Granny told me about how she built a fort in the orchard when she was lil', but then forgot where it was. So, I went lookin' fer it one day, and this is it!"
Looking at the interior of the small shack, no bigger than two chicken coops put together, Spike noticed the plain and very bland style to the structure, "It's….nice?"
"Ah like it! Ah also hope to bring some stuff out here an' make it my little private clubhouse!" Applebloom mused just before yawning. Watching the filly yawn, it caused the dragon to yawn as well. "Ya tired out, Spike?" she asked, her hoof still up from covering her mouth.
While he didn't want to admit it, the dragon was exhausted, "I guess I am. We did kind of play all day, almost non-stop."
Giggling, Applebloom added, "An' ah did win."
"Everything! I beat you at tag, wrestling, eating our lunch the fastest!" the filly gloated.
"Have you tried eating gems? It's not easy!" Spike tried to defend himself.
With more laughter, Applebloom continued, "Yer jus' grumpy 'cause ya lost! Ya'll feel better after a nap." The pony trotted to one of the walls and picked up a light blue quilt, placing it on her back.
Yawning, Spike nodded, "Have to admit, that sounds kind of nice." He sat down and leaned his back against the wall of shack. Closing his eyes, he took a few deep breaths and was quick to relax.
"Mhmm…." Applebloom agreed with this statement. She finally stopped her moving as she laid herself down next to the dragon. Her head was against Spike's legs.
This caught the dragon by surprise, "Wh-What are ya doing?" He tried not to raise his voice too loud.
"Snuggling. It's ta help keep the both of us warm," the yellow pony replied with her eyes closed and a slight pink tint to her face.
Spike saw the pink in her cheeks and took a moment before replying, "Well….if ya want, ya could rest your head on my legs. I mean, it has to be more comfortable then the floor." His own face was turning warm colors as well.
Without wasting a moment, Applebloom did just that, and snuggled closely to the dragon. A smile appeared on her face, "Thankies, Spike."
Smiling, the baby dragon replied in a hushed tone, "You're welcome." He placed his claws gently on top of the crimson mane of the filly, lightly running them through the fine hair fibers. Despite the occasional giggle from Applebloom, who was being slightly tickled by the brushing of her mane, it was absolutely peaceful in the shack.
The eternal silence was broken by the sleep-talking filly, who had just fallen asleep. In her hushed sleepy speech, she mumbled, "Ah like this feelin'….ah wish it could stay a lil' longer…."
Spike, who heard the gentle words, whispered back, "I do too…."