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Gone in 1800 Seconds

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Wood splintered and shards of plaster fell as Spike’s claw crashed through the wall of the Carousel Boutique.

He stalked through the empty building, smashing through wood beams with his claws and tail. He’d grown as large as Big Macintosh now, his lean draconic body far stronger than it appeared. Each strike was carefully judged for maximum damage and minimum energy expended. His demolition was methodical, his path unstoppable. It all seemed cold and calculated from the outside... but inside his head, he was anything but.

The boutique had been emptied of anything that could be reused, but in Spike’s mind’s eye, everything was untouched, pristine as the day he’d first come to Ponyville. Even as he tore down walls and crushed supports, each room evoked, involuntarily, a stream of memories made with the unicorn he had always admired.

Here was the entryway, where she had once wound a custom-knitted scarf around his neck before they stepped out into the snow and sleet.

Here was the kitchen, where he had cooked a romantic dinner for her, combining all his experience cooking for Twilight with a week spent scouring the library for the perfect recipes.

Here was the central display room, where they had spent hundreds of afternoons working together on one project or another. Where he had finally dropped to one knee and professed his love for her. Where she had tearfully accepted his offer of his heart, and confessed that he had stolen hers as well.

And here was the staircase that led to her bedroom, where they had held each other close, shared their first kiss, and... Spike turned away. Even after so long, thoughts of her could still bring a blush to his scaly cheeks.

But his task was clear, and he had already steeled his heart. No matter how many memories it held, no matter how much it would be missed, the Carousel Boutique had to go.

Spike tore the building apart from the inside, ripping away its supports one by one. Wood creaked dangerously around him, but he ignored it. Finally his task seemed complete, and he leapt through the open doors to safety. He turned to watch the fruits of his labor...

A heavy rock, suspended in a magical aura, flew past his head and into the building, breaking through the last untouched column. With a groan that sounded almost alive, the Carousel Boutique collapsed in on itself, becoming nothing more than a pile of scrapped wood.

Spike let out a long breath and wiped the sweat off of his forehead. “Whew... Thanks for getting that last bit, Rarity.”

“My pleasure, darling,” Rarity assured him, stepping forward with a handkerchief as white as her fur. She dabbed at his face, getting the rest of the sweat off until he met her high standards for cleanliness again. “And thank you so much for taking this project on.”

“Yeah, that was pretty awesome!” Rainbow Dash flew down from her cloud perch, leaving behind her pegasus’-eye view of the action. “I mean, I could’ve done it faster, but that was a seriously clean collapse!”

Spike laughed. “Well, you’ve got Twilight to thank for that. I wouldn’t have known what supports to hit without her.”

Twilight shook her head. “That’s true, but it was you who did all the hard work.”

“That was impressive, Spike!” Applejack added. “No two ways about it!”

“Heh, thanks...” Spike glanced back at Rarity, only to find her staring at the wreckage, her face pensive. He brushed a claw over her back, ever so gently. “Hey, you okay?”

“I’m fine, Spike. It’s just...” Rarity smiled, dabbing at her eyes with her handkerchief. “Even though it had to be done, I will miss the old boutique. We all made so many wonderful memories there.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. I was thinking the same thing while I was in there.” Spike wound his arm around her, pulling her close. “But we do have that photo album we put together. And we’ll be making even more memories in the new place.”

Rarity beamed. “We certainly will! Oh, there will be so much more room! Room for display models, room for fabric storage, room for...” She placed her hoof on his claw. “Us.”

“Right. Us.” Spike’s grin was uncontrollable. He glanced down at Rarity’s stomach, remembering a conversation they’d recently had. And maybe some day... a bigger ‘us’.

“Oh, I can’t wait to see the new boutique,” Fluttershy gushed. “It’s going to be so beautiful.”

Applejack nodded. “Sure as shootin’! Shame we had to get rid of the old one, but that’s just the way it is.”

“Yeah! After all, creation and destruction... They’re really two sides of the same coin!”*

Everyone stopped and turned toward the speaker of those words. “Wow...” Twilight managed, after a moment. “Pinkie Pie, that was really deep!”

“Aw, it just makes sense, silly!” Pinkie giggled. “We make food at the Sugarcube Corner, remember?”

“Oh, that’s right,” Twilight said. “No matter how beautiful it is, everything you make there is eventually going to be eaten.”

Pinkie nodded with a seriousness that didn’t match her wide smile. “Exactly!”

“Okay, I’m gettin’ outta here before it gets any more philosophical,” Rainbow groused. “Lemme know when you guys need help again!”

“We will, Dash, don’t you worry,” Rarity chuckled. As the gathered ponies began to break up, she turned to Spike, allowing a coquettish smile to slip onto her face. “Now, then, my dear Spikey-wikey... With the boutique properly demolished, I seem to be in need of a place to stay tonight. I don’t suppose you might be able to assist me?”

Spike hummed, pretending to think it over. “Hmm... I think something could possibly be arranged. Why don’t you come with me, milady?” His tail slid around behind her, gently pushing her forward into his embrace.

“Oh! With pleasure, darling...”

(“Psst, Twilight! Wanna have a sleepover tonight?”

Thank you, Pinkie Pie.”)