"I awoke with a fright as another nightmare came to a sudden end. I lay on the grass staring at my hooves for a moment as I calmed myself down, repeating to myself that nightmares couldn't hurt me - like what my parents used to tell me.
"A few weeks ago, reminding myself a couple of times was enough, but nowadays, a couple of dozen times was barely enough for me to get a hold of myself. My dreams were getting worse, and they were starting to get to me.
"I lifted my head up sluggishly and looked over to where Spike was sleeping, only to see that he wasn't there. I panicked slightly as I looked around for him, clambering onto my hooves in moments. I let out a sigh of relief the moment I saw him sat on a fence nearby, his back to me, looking up at the Moon in the night sky.
"Like me, Spike was having nightmares too, but not every night. Other nights, he'd simply stay awake for hours, staring at the sky and getting lost in his thoughts. I preferred not to disturb him during those times, because after everything he had shared with me, and all the other things he hadn't, I knew that he was still coming to terms with what had happened. The loss of our friends (even if that turned out to be temporary, or so I hoped), the carnage that had swept over our home, and his own gremlins were all a lot to take in. Especially for a young Dragon.
"Still, I felt he was much braver and stronger than any pony ever gave him credit for, with the exception of Twilight. With the destruction all around us, with everything he had to face alone before I found him, he was handling it better than I could've expected.
"I decided to go and speak with Spike, since I wasn't ready to go back to sleep just yet. I quietly walked over to him, and leant up against the fence he was sat on. I looked up at the Moon with him, not saying a word so I wouldn't bother him too much. Tonight's moonlight was brighter than it had been for days, as the Sun and Moon's new schedules fell in line with each other to allow such a peaceful night sky to appear.
"Spike piped up. 'Nightmare again?'
"I nodded, whispering. 'Yes, and you?'
"'Needed time to think.' Spike shrugged.
"I looked over to him, 'Anything that you'd like to talk about?'
"He didn't take his eyes off the Moon. 'No, I'm fine.'
"Silence fell between us for a few moments, and just as I turned my head to look at the Moon once more, Spike changed his mind.
"'How did you find the strength to carry on?' He asked. I turned my head to him again, and he carried on. 'I mean, no doubt you realised that everypony was, uh... Gone... After a while. How did you cope with the sadness? How did you get through the grief and start over?'
"I began to think of my answer. There were times where the realisation would hit me, and I'd spend anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours lost in my mind. But between fighting to survive and seeking the Elements of Harmony, I'd never stopped moving. I'd never stopped to take a day to just cry until I couldn't cry any more, I never had the time to do that. If anything, I hadn't really grieved at all yet, I'd simply pushed everything into the back of my mind, and forced myself forward even if I didn't want to go - memories of my trip to the Free Lands surfaced in my mind as an immediate example of that.
"Spike was patiently waiting for an answer, I tried to form my answer into sentences. 'Honestly, Spike, I haven't got through the grief yet. I've been ignoring it.'
"Spike kept quiet, and I continued: 'Everything is moving so fast, and I don't want to be a nervous wreck while trying to keep up. From the moment everything went wrong, I've always been focusing on going somewhere, and never stopping long enough for grief to catch up.'
"The Dragon didn't move, but appeared to be digesting what I'd said. Finally, he spoke again. 'So... you're like the Moon? Or the Sun?'
"I tilted my head sideways in confusion.
"'Princess Luna isn't... here,' Spike began, 'And yet the Moon carries on. Never stopping to think about her not being there. It just keeps on crossing the sky, it may have started acting weirdly now, like the Sun, but they both keep moving.'
"My eyes fell upon the Moon again, and I thought about what Spike had said. Both celestial bodies had taken on their own routines in the absence of the Princesses, and neither had stopped to mourn the disappearance of the two ponies that guided them for so long. Their movements were automatic. Lifeless.
"'Being like the Moon is not a good thing,' I started to explain. 'We're both creatures with emotions, but the Moon and Sun are not - they can't grieve because they can't feel pain. So they do what they do best, moving across the sky without slowing down one bit.
"'Every day I push everything into the back of my mind is another day that it becomes harder for me to do just that, Spike. I just don't think I can take it if I let it all out. But I cannot be like the Moon, even if I tried, because one day, it will all catch up with me. And if my worsening nightmares have anything to do with it, it is clear that it will catch up with me soon.'
"I turned to face Spike, who was now looking at me. 'You're much better off than I am."
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I took way too long with this...
I didn't expect this to appear on EqD, I also picked a bad time to be drinking fizzy orange when I saw this on the Drawfriend.
Regardless of my dirty screen and sticky keyboard, I hurried onto dA and did the revisions and proof-reading I was going to do later in the description. So sorry if you put up with the horrible writing earlier.
Anyway, I wanted to practice drawing Spike again, I think I've almost got drawing his face and torso down, if a little iffy at times (I always need to reference something at the moment, but that's not a bad thing), but his arms and legs still give me trouble. Claws are a pain to draw, but they are much simpler than hands thankfully. Maybe one day all of this time spent drawing claws, paws, talons, and giant foam fingers (maybe) will pay off and make drawing human hands much easier.
Still, I wanted to draw Spike, so he was put into the front, while Fluttershy simply stands/leans beside him, listening to what he's saying.
The picture came out nicely, if flawed. It's not the best picture I've drawn, but it is better than early Survivor Shy scenes, and Spike looks better in this latest update than the last one that featured him.
One thing I've noticed behind the scenes, where I'm writing a summary of Survivor Shy to help plan and organise scenes, is that all of the Spike-related scenes published and planned so far are very closely centred around the pair's relationship and Spike's own little story. In many ways I'm glad that I've given Spike a very good, meaningful role in the story, since I didn't plan to have him appear initially, but it also makes me worry that it'll get old or boring to have Spike scenes follow a similar formula.
And then there are shipping goggles... I'll spare you of that can of worms.
Be sure to comment your thoughts in! I don't care how massively long your comments are, or how zany they may be. As long as I can understand it, I'll read it. I don't mind questions, either.