Well rested, semi-exhausted, and ready for the day to go on as they stepped out of the shower, Crimson and Big Mac entered the dining room just past the kitchen. Big Mac went about rummaging around the fridge for breakfast while Crimson regarded Applebloom with embarrassed amusement, her expression of deep contemplation shifting to one of disgust as the couple entered.
“Applebloom, what’s that look for?”
“Ah was just tryin’ to figure out what t’ do today, but clearly ah need t’ check that book out from Twilight again so ah can see if there’s any way t’ soundproof somethin’ twice. It just ain’t natural, screamin’ an’ hollerin’ like yer dyin’.”
“An’ yet, ah feel so alive.”
“Big Mac, yer gonna have a mallet ‘tween yer ears if you say anythin’ else. Taintin’ mah ears, what kind o’ big brother are you?”
“Applebloom, we really aren’t that loud, are we?” Crimson received nought but a sullen scowl for her inquiry, at least for a time before the filly sighed.
“No, you ain’t, ah’m sorry. But ah can still feel it in the floorboards.” Again thankful for his red coat, Big Mac’s blush was nearly imperceptible as he set out various apple treats and some vegetables for Crimson to enjoy before taking a seat beside her. “Ah think I’m gonna try t’ find Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo, see if they want t’ do somethin’. Sorry fer hollerin’ at y’all.”
“It’s all right, Applebloom. We probably could use a little more self restraint.”
“Eeyup.” The filly trotted off, and Crimson bantered back and forth with Big Mac for a while. She finished first, having a smaller appetite, and bid him farewell as she made towards Fluttershy’s cottage. After some sleep, some fun, and some food, she found her worries of Fluttershy staying the night alone with that stallion diminishing, and the scene that she was met with banished them completely as she made it to the house. Rather than knock, she chose simply to observe from the window, since whatever she saw would be the most natural, which, given that it was Fluttershy, was nothing short of adorable.
Jubilant was the word that came to mind to describe her pegasus friend as she groomed the timid stallion. She couldn’t see his face, as he had his back to her, but for him, who was so frightened just by her presence, to be allowing that kind of contact, it could only mean that Fluttershy and him shared something special. Fluttershy had to keep placing a hoof on his head to keep it from bobbing to the song, as the movement made it difficult to continue combing, but sure enough, shortly after she pulled her hoof away it would start again. From where Crimson stood, it seemed much more like a mother and son relationship than anything romantic, but if it was truly making Fluttershy that happy, then she resolved not to speak against it.
Fluttershy glanced up as a knock sounded at the door, and Whisper instantly scrambled under her bed as quickly and painlessly as he could on three legs. Rather than let whoever was outside in, she trotted over and gathered up the stallions sizable tail and pushed it under the bed to aid in his disappearing act.
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell where you are.”
“You’re welcome, Whisper. Just stay here for a bit, ok?” Trotting over, she found a beaming Crimson on the other side of the door. “Good morning, Crimson. Are you here to help feed the animals?”
“Well, actually, I was just coming to check on you. I was a little worried, leaving you alone with some stallion you hardly know, but after watching you two this morning...”
“You were watching us?” Crimson was about to nod and continue on to say how she didn’t expect anything of the two, but as the dainty mare’s cheeks flushed pink at the thought of everything that had happened since waking, she became rightfully suspicious.
“Fluttershy? Is there something you need to tell me?” Ok, well, that squeak speaks more than her words would. There is definitely something going on. “What kind of relationship are you in, exactly? What’s going on between you two?”
Oh dear, what do I say? I don’t even know the answer. I mean, we both like eachother, but I don’t know if he even knows what that means. “Um... I don’t...”
“Is he still here? Maybe I can ask him.”
“No, you can’t!” She hadn’t meant to shout, but she really didn’t want to have to chase him through the forest, especially given how much time she’d spent getting the last of the debris out. Unfortunately, raising one’s volume typically indicates secrets or anger, and seeing that Crimson was not upset but rather eyeing her with greater suspicion, Fluttershy knew which it was. “I’m sorry, he is here, but he’s too scared of you. Please, leave him alone. I’ll answer any questions you have.”
“I’m still waiting on the first one, Shy.”
“Oh, um...” Crimson turned to give the house a good looking over, confident that a stallion with such copious quantities of hair wouldn’t be hard to spot. Her eyes had almost passed over the bedroom when there was a sneeze, a flash, and all the loose articles in the house shook. Fluttershy and Crimson both took a moment to stare at the knocked over vases, the clock that had fallen over, and the several books that had fallen from their designated resting spots. Crimson took one step forward before Fluttershy spilled the beans, leaving Crimson even further shocked and slightly worried.
“Ok, Crimson you win. I like him, and he likes me, but he doesn’t know anything about boundaries!”
Doesn’t know anything about what now?!? “Fluttershy, when you say boundaries...” One more glance at the mare nervously shuffling in front of her confirmed it. “Explanation. Now.”
“Oh, ok, um... let’s see. This morning, he, well... he watched me shower. Oh, and this one time when we were in the forest he... um... played with... with my...” Whether she finished the sentence or not, the slow unfurling of her wings connected the dots in Crimson’s mind.
“And you’re ok with this? That’s almost as fast as I used to be, Fluttershy!”
“Crimson, he doesn’t know any better! He didn’t even know what a bed was!”
“Didn’t know... so what, then, he’s been living in the wild his whole life?”
“That’s right, I think. I want to try talking to him about it, but it’s too soon. And besides,” she started, peering back at the bed where he was no doubt still hiding, “I don’t want to scare him away. I’m hoping that, eventually, I will get him to a point that we can leave the cottage every now and then, but I can’t possibly rush that. Please, don’t be angry, Crimson.”
It doesn’t make any sense. Even if he were abandoned, he’d still have some recollection of what it was like being with other ponies. And if he was wild to begin with, there’s no way he could communicate with Fluttershy. There’s something going on, but what? Memory loss? I wonder if maybe Cerulean could take a look... “Fluttershy, I’m not angry, just... be careful, ok?” She nodded, and Crimson peered back at the bed. “Tell him I said goodbye, and I didn’t mean to frighten him.” Fluttershy stood still a moment, gazing into the distance before breaking into a cheerful grin.
“Don’t worry, he heard you. He’s sorry for hiding, but he’s just not ready yet.”
Telepathy? I definitely need to talk to Twilight and Cerulean about this. This is just too strange. Crimson waved and let herself out, and after some gentle coaxing, Whisper dragged himself out from the bed, hobbled back out to the main room and plopped himself down.
“Can you brush me more?”
“Silly, I told you I was going to get your mane and tail done, right? I’m not even halfway done, so sit still, all right?”
“What about singing?”
“You move too much for that, but if you’re good, maybe I’ll sing you a song when I’m done.” Taking her at her word, he sat up straight and stiffened, giving a nearly flawless impersonation of a statue. Fluttershy finished what was left of the mane before sitting beside him and laying his tail in her lap, running a hoof over it and taking a moment to be amazed at how fine it was. I would love to be wrapped in this, it’s so soft and warm and... oh, I’m doing it again. Normal thoughts, Fluttershy, normal thoughts! Unfortunately, it was a battle not easily won, made worse when he turned and sat facing her, watching her every move with scrutinizing interest and wondrous curiosity. “Is something wrong, Whisper?”
“Why do you like me?”
Where did that come from? I mean, I know the answer, but... “There are a lot of reasons, but why do you, um, want to know?” She waited for the telltale green letters the flare across her vision, but none came. “Whisper?”
“I didn’t know what a bed was.” To say the answer confused Fluttershy would be putting it mildly, and her hooves quickly lost their ability to brush as her mind overclocked itself trying to unravel the mystery. Fortunately, he noticed the furrowed brow and elaborated. “I look scary. I tried to keep you away. I don’t know anything about this place or other ponies, but you still said you liked me. Why?”
“I feel safe with you, Whisper.” He didn’t know what to expect, but that was, perhaps, the lowest on his list.
Fluttershy, I’m not safe. You can say I’m not a monster, and maybe... maybe I can believe that. But that doesn’t change what I’ve done, or how many ponies I’ve hurt.
“Oh, stop that. No sulking,” she commanded, waving the comb at him and regaining his attention. “Listen, Whisper, I used to be scared of other ponies just like you.”
“Yes. It was so bad that I couldn’t even tell somepony my name if they asked. I’m still very nervous, meeting new ponies and going new places, but I was never scared of you. I don’t know what it is that makes you so sure that things are going to go bad, or that you just break things, but that’s not the pony I see.”
“Then what do you see?” Fluttershy gently set down the brush, maintaining eye contact as she did so. In an honest expression of trust, she gently eased herself into his lap, leaning her head against his chest and wrapping his good hoof in her own.
“You think you look scary, but I find comfort in your mane. You think you don’t know anything, but I see eyes filled with wonder. You see a monster, but I see a pony who just needs a friend. I see...” Myself...
It was a little known fact that there was indeed a limit on the amount of fabulosity that Rarity could experience in a single day without being driven mad. But, for whatever reason, the universe was collaborating with its good friend fate to try and achieve just this. Sure, the morning didn’t exactly start off the greatest, but throwing away the evidence of yesterday, everything was diamonds and silk from there on out.
Firstly, she found that one of her latest designs had been featured in an eminent fashion magazine and was receiving great renown, praised by fans and critics alike. Clearly dissipation must be ladylike if she could turn out such a marvel while, admittedly, quite pasted. As a result, her boutique had landed several high paying orders which, if her performance maintained itself, would net her even more notice. After some discussion and Rarity’s revealing of her spell to find gems, Jewel was able to cut ties with the price-jacking, snobby suppliers that had all but choked her shop into bankruptcy and re-open in Ponyville. Elated to be away from the city, Jewel had crafted a few utterly marvelous pieces for her as thanks, which she was only all to willing to display, though she sometimes felt the full effect was lost on the ponies around Ponyville. Good Spirits, true to his name, set about expanding the menu of the tavern with all manner of tasty, though normal, beverages for her to try. It really wasn’t fair to the others, but Silver was winning by leaps and bounds in her mental contest, if only for his association with the two ponies.
Still, through various hard learned lessons, she knew that friends should come before work, and sating her thirst for gossip combined with worry for Fluttershy, driving her towards the cottage. Now, Rarity still had nightmares about having a green mane; it was, quite bluntly, the worst possible color, and she truly felt for anypony cursed with such an existence. Certainly, if it looked poorly on her, then how could it ever be even close to reasonable on another? Or, at least, that’s what she thought until she peeked in the window and saw Whisper.
Rarity, as her friends all knew, was prone to lapse into “fashion frenzy,” during which time logic was given a front row seat to watch mania put on a show. It didn’t matter to her much whether the pony holding her dear friend was mare or stallion; whoever it was had the most stunning, most sensational, ravishing, striking... The list went on, and she silently nodded her affirmation to every adjective before coming to the overwhelming conclusion that, for once, she had been wrong about fashion.
I was woefully mistaken in my assessment, as this clearly proves that green is the... best... possible... thing! That color, the way the mane shines in the light... why has Fluttershy been keeping this pony to herself? And who is it? It looks so natural, but nopony has a mane like that, mare or otherwise. It’s criminal, keeping such beauty withheld for one’s own pleasure. I will not stand for it! Without a further thought on the matter, or an ounce of self-restraint, Rarity barged in the door and bolted towards the stallion who, were it not for Fluttershy in his lap, would likely have bolted just as fast for his happy place underneath the bed. Fluttershy suddenly found oxygen in short supply as the terrified stallion clung to her with all his might, terrified of the white unicorn that was much too close for comfort.
Excitement in the form of books piled high pervaded the library, as Twilight finally was given a day off to do nothing but study, practice, study, and practice some more. Being a mother, while valuable for learning all kinds of lessons, was the single largest time sink she had found. Not that this cause any kind of regrets, but Cerulean knew that she would get stir crazy if she wasn’t given adequate time to get her scholastic high off of the scent of musty pages and the tantalizing tickle of dust. It was fortunate then that the knock on the door sounded in between books, though it was with great reluctance that she stood and cantered over.
“Crimson? You look stressed, is something wrong?”
“Well, I don’t know, exactly. I was hoping to talk to Cerulean, is he here?”
“No, he left this morning with Dawn to go raise a ruckus elsewhere. Is it something I can help with?”
Well, she does know a lot about magic. And from what Cerulean’s told me, she’s known Fluttershy longer, too. “Maybe. Can I come in?”
“Oh, sorry! Sure, come on in.” The mare gawked at the mountains of books piled around the room, wondering how anypony could both live in such a condition and not choke on the dust that glittered gold in the shafts of sunlight. “Ok, sis, what’s this all about?” Crimson chuckled softly at the moniker before growing serious once more.
“So, remember the other night when Fluttershy told everypony at the tavern that she had somepony already?”
“Yeah, it was kind of a shocker. I’m a little curious to know if she was actually being serious or just trying to keep everypony away.”
“It was both, actually.”
“Really? Wait, so Fluttershy actually has a special somepony?”
“I can only assume. It was rather difficult prying an answer out of her, but she admitted that she likes him, and he likes her.”
“Awww, that’s so cute! I wonder what he’s like? Have you seen him? Is he a hulking earth pony like Big Macintosh?”
“No, he’s an easily startled green unicorn that hides from anypony but her.”
“Hmmm, yeah, I can see that.”
“Twilight, if it was that simple I wouldn’t be here.”
“I’m sorry, you’re right. Go on.”
“I try not to be suspicious of ponies, but she’s told me a couple of things that are worrisome, and I’ve noticed some odd things about him. For one, he’s lived in the wild most of his life, and has no social awareness whatsoever.” Twilight suddenly became much more intrigued with the idea of studying an isolated pony than the now boring books she was so enamored with just moments before. “He... touched her wings on the second day, and watched her shower this morning.”
“And ponies say I moved fast... Crimson, that may be kind of strange, but that’s no reason to try and track down Cerulean. What’s really going on?”
“Well, he’s a unicorn, like us, but his magic... Twilight, have you ever heard of a unicorn using magic for telepathy?”
“What, you mean like speaking into another’s mind? It’s complicated, but not impossible, why?”
“He doesn’t talk, Twilight. Not a single word. And yet, he’s communicating somehow with Fluttershy, like he’s doing exactly that. No unicorn left to his own devices in the wild should know how to do that, right?”
“You’re right, that is strange. No, not strange, that’s borderline impossible, unless it had something to do with his talent.”
“He doesn’t have one. He’s still got a blank flank, and that’s not all. When I arrived there this morning, he was hiding under the bed, but when he sneezed, he released some magic and it knocked a ton of things over. Small things, like vases, but still. I’ve never heard of somepony translating a sneeze into something like that.” The more Twilight heard, the more she wanted to abandon her studies and go see this stallion.
No talent, no learning, and yet he was using fairly advanced unicorn magic? “Wait, Crimson, is it possible he’s using soul magic?” Those words were the trigger that connected the nagging doubts with her distant memories. She couldn’t know for certain, but she knew somepony who could tell her for sure.
“Twilight, please, you have to tell me where Cerulean is!”
“He’s probably at Sugarcube Corner, getting some...” She never finished the sentence, because after a brief, scarlet flash, Crimson was gone.
“You know, Dawn, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think you loved cupcakes more than me.”
“Silly dad, no eat Rulean. Eat cupcakes n’ pancakes!”
“I’m sensing a cake trend.” The filly ignored his musings and returned her attention to the box of delectable treats before her. Sure, if she ever discovered that the particular strain she was consuming were laced with less sugar and more vitamins, she’d have blown a fuse, but the little foal was none the wiser as she demolished a dozen in record time. Pinkie had nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for the foal that was greedily starting in on the second box, grateful that her mother was nowhere near to stop her.
“Cerulean, if she keeps up like that, I’m going to have to actually try at the next eating competition. I mean, Spike did a great job, but I think Dawn will have him beat pretty soon.”
“I really need to expand her diet a little bit, but she’s as finicky as they come. If she tries to keep up with you, I’m afraid the only thing she’ll do is swell up like a balloon.”
“Oh, like this?” The mare, by some mystery of the universe, seemingly converted the oxygen in her body to helium and began to drift away.
“No, Pinkie, down! No wings, no fly!”
“Okie dokie lokie!” There was an audible whoosh of air as she deflated, trotting back behind the counter to score some treats for herself when the door slammed open and Crimson came charging in.
“Cerulean, you can search memories, right?”
“Yes, but...” He got no farther as she bolted over, recalled the scene where Whisper had sneezed, and pressed her horn to his.
“Take a look.” He watched for but a moment before snapping his head back and staring at her with wild eyes. “Is it?”
She never received a verbal response. Dawn found her snack time abruptly halted as Cerulean bid her hold on tight and took wing, soaring straight to the library, entering in a hurry and levitating Dawn to her mother. “I’m sorry, Twi, I’ll make up the lost study time later!” Twilight didn’t have time to ask for an explanation before he bolted away, and she did her best to comfort the startled filly who sat staring at the small puffs of snow left from his wings.