The spa sisters’ plan was rather simple: separate the two, then ply them for information with casual inquiries. Aloe and Lotus were not normally so devious, but these two were more than just clients to them. Over the years they had become like their private charges. At first it was merely about ensuring that Fluttershy was comfortable, or that Rarity was successfully made to unwind after her latest bout of overworking herself. But as time went on, they could not help but notice shy glances turning to blushes. They each looked at one another more and more when they thought the other was not looking. They never seemed to pay attention to the spa owners and operators, who, in turn, took it upon themselves to ensure their privacy during their visits.
Rarity's "usual" was hardly normal for a spa that saw so many clients throughout the day. Entire portions of the spa were closed off to the general public during "their day." The fact that Rarity made such accommodations lucrative was immaterial; they would have done it for them regardless. The bits just made the decision easier to justify. They had questioned each other many times as to just what in the hay they were trying to accomplish after all this time.
It was also unusual for a masseuse to pick up an entirely different skill set at the request of one client. Aloe had called Lotus a fool for taking lessons in preening, but understood why she had done it. The increase in clientele had eventually quieted the complaints entirely, so there was that. And they were very grateful to Rarity for that advice, and to Fluttershy for being the first pony they could practice on. But grateful or not, they did not wish to directly interfere in the two's romance (or lack thereof). Instead, they had done everything they could think of to give it room to grow.
The sisters had come to care greatly for their charges. They wanted the two to be happy. How their friends (and yes, even Rarity and Fluttershy themselves) were so blind as to miss the obvious was a mystery. But it was not a mystery they concerned themselves with. Their concern was simply to provide a stress-free and, above all, private environment in which the two could bond together each week. Having aided the two for so long however, they were hungry for the final reward. They wanted to hear from their charge's lips that the two had at last found the love that should have been staring them in the face all along.
Aloe approached Rarity, and Lotus Fluttershy. Aloe cleared her throat somewhat loudly to get the two lovebirds’ attention.
Aloe gave an apologetic look before explaining herself. "Ladies, I am terribly sorry. The main room we normally reserve for your trip is occupied by other clients. We will have to move you to another room." And this was absolutely true. The clients were Cranky and Matilda Donkey, here for the first time since their accommodations were paid for as a gift. Pinkie Pie had been rather generous with the couple on their first anniversary.
"Unfortunately, only private rooms are open right now, so we will have to separate you for a time." That, however, was a small lie; there was another large room available. However, she felt, and Lotus concurred, that their clients might not be as inclined to dish about their new-found relationship when together.
The two were quick to protest, but Aloe was ready for this. "It will only be for a short time until the other cou—" She coughed loudly to cover her near-slip. "Pardon me ladies, dust in my throat. That is to say, until the room clears. Fluttershy, if you will follow Lotus, we will begin with your weekly preening. Rarity, will you follow me for your horn filing?"
The two reluctantly followed the spa ponies. Aloe chuckled to herself internally. How cute! They already seem to be joined at the hip. I must have details!
The unicorn followed the spa pony, giving the occasional longing look back to her newly declared marefriend. Every step away, however, seemed to have a clarifying effect on her mind. She found that “box of things to worry about later” inside her mind suddenly springing open, and concern for her friend began anew. It was not so much that she was bothered by the idea that Fluttershy could find it in herself to be so self-confident as to dominate her... She actually found that prospect rather exciting. She had simply not expected it, and it, to be totally frank, it very much made her hot under the collar (and certain other places a lady does not think about in public) just thinking about it.
Aloe opened the private room and gestured for her to enter. Rarity lay down on the pillow provided and waited patiently for the filing to begin. She just wished she could be sure her worries were justified. Was her beloved throwing herself into another role? Was she trying to satisfy some idea of what she thought Rarity wanted? Or was she truly this aggressive when it came to the physical pursuit of love? What to do, what to—
“So, has anything interesting happened since last week?”
Rarity shook herself from her reverie; that remark had been from Aloe, apparently. Rarity glanced up at the amused spa pony as she prepared to begin filing.
Aloe’s eyes twinkled. “I hate to pry dear, but... there appears to be a change in demeanor between you two. Care to share?”
Rarity latched onto the sentence like a life-raft in a raging river. “You noticed it too? Oh, I am so worried. I mean, yes, I am very, very—oh I’m just going to say it—I am incredibly attracted to her behavior! But she just seems to be throwing herself at me with such abandon. I don’t want her to move things forward in our relationship more quickly than she is truly comfortable with!”
Aloe dropped the file in shock. “Um... perhaps you should start at the beginning. What happened since your last visit? Maybe start with why you have bite marks on your neck?”
Rarity slapped a hoof up to her neck and groaned. “Goodness, I suppose she did bear down a bit... Well, let’s see. It began earlier this week...”
Lotus opened the door to the private room, and gestured for Fluttershy to lie down on the pillow. After a few moments of secondary adjustments, the shy pegasus spoke up. “Lotus, can I ask you something?”
Lotus spat out a loose feather and nodding, smiling. “Anything!” Maybe this was it, the shy little thing was going to spill without any prompting! I bet that unicorn just swept her off her hooves! Oh this is going to be good. Now now, stop it, let her tell you!
The pegasus smiled warmly. “I really like Rarity, I want to make her happy. I was wondering if I could ask you for some advice.”
There it is! This is the moment we’ve worked towards! Aloe will be so thrilled! “That’s wonderful dear! Please, ask away!”
The incredibly cute lovebird blushed a bit, but went on regardless. “You're a very talented masseuse. I know you don't use this information in your professional life, but... I was wondering if you could give me tips on pressure points, places that would make a unicorn happy.”
Lotus considered the question carefully. “Do you mean you want to help Rarity relax more? Do we need to up the ante on her massage?”
The pegasus shook her head. “'Oh no, quite the opposite; I don't want her to relax, I want to excite her.”
Lotus froze. I couldn’t possibly have heard that right. “I’m sorry, you want to do what exactly?”
"Well... uhm..." Fluttershy made little circles on the floor with a hoof before taking a deep breath and looking her square in the eye. "I... I want to know how to..." She took another deep breath. "Rarity... she's a unicorn... I heard that... horns..." With every word her face turned redder until she resembled a tomato more than a pony, but kept going. "I want to know how to make her happy. Could you help me, Lotus?"
To say the spa pony was shocked would be the same as saying that Princess Luna was throwing a naughty tantrum when she became Nightmare Moon. This was not the reserved and demure pegasus Lotus had come to know and care for. This mare was straightforward in her wishes. She had heard love could change a pony, but this much? She trod carefully on her next words. “You... want my help... in learning how to... please your marefriend?”
The suddenly anything-but-shy pegasus nodded, glad to see she was understood. Lotus quailed at the thought. “While I admire your straightforwardness, I don’t know how comfortable I am in helping you in your... intimate life.“
Fluttershy fretted. “Oh dear, I was really hoping... She needs me, you see, I have to be the one. She couldn’t do it... I had to show her the way. If I stop leading her she might not love me anymore. I had hoped you might be able to show me... Maybe Bon Bon would know, she’s with Lyra after all... Perhaps I should just ask them both to join us? I could watch what they do...”
Lotus dropped everything. “Please excuse me, Fluttershy. I have to go get some oils for your wings. I will be back shortly.” She fled from the room in shock.
Aloe wasn’t sure what she had expected when she prompted the unicorn for information, but it wasn’t this. She busied herself while she listened, carefully applying makeup to cover the love bite. “So you smacked Applejack in the face for not wanting to be in a relationship with Fluttershy?!”
Rarity nodded in embarassed frustration. She clearly hadn’t meant for this to all spill out at once but she needed somepony to talk to about her worries. “Then I told Fluttershy I was just jealous of the time I would be losing with her. I said I loved her ‘as a friend.’ As a friend, Aloe! Celestia, what a fool I was. I have done so many foolish things of late. I just... I didn’t know what to do, don’t you see? Flirting with stallions is foal’s play, but I couldn’t do that with her! At some point I got it into my head that I couldn’t be the one for her. And there was that letter. Sun and moon, the letter... She saw through it, of course. I should have known she would. She’s a very smart mare. Then I was going to confess to having written the thing and... I just couldn’t! I heard such nonsense spilling from my mouth, telling her that the pony who wrote it must be mad! True enough I suppose... And then...”
Aloe absorbed all this in silence, not judging, but trying to understand. “And then?”
The fashionista whispered softly. “She kissed me. It was so... wonderful. At first I thought I was dreaming, Aloe! But she kept doing it... then she told me she had known all along, and I felt so ashamed for not having the strength to tell her myself. She asked me what I wanted to do now, and I confessed I had no idea anymore. So I asked her what she wanted and... her whole attitude changed! Up to that point she had been this hungry, aggressive mare, seeming to crave my affection like a starving pony would gobble up oats. Then, after I questioned her... oh, it was as if I had my Fluttershy back! She said she would just like me to kiss her back, and for a moment all was well. But then...”
Aloe nearly fell onto her face; she’d been leaning forward to hear the tale, and at its interruption she found herself aware of her surroundings again. “Yes?”
Rarity looked so confused and lost. “She stuck her tongue in my mouth. I am not saying I didn’t enjoy the experience, but this is Fluttershy, darling! I was all worried again; she was just so very forward. I found it... thrilling, but ever since Iron Will, I do not trust abrupt attitude shifts in my dear friend—no, marefriend now. Then there was the shower and the massage... Don’t tell a soul this, but things were progressing so quickly I thought she meant to... Well, she didn’t, but that’s not the point. In that moment, I was convinced she would!”
Aloe was very confused. Who is she talking about exactly? “What do you mean? Who is Iron Will?”
The fashionista looked up, startled. “You never ran into Fluttershy during that time?”
Aloe shook her head; she couldn’t recall seeing Fluttershy act any differently than she always did. “Care to fill me in?”
The unicorn grimaced. Not exactly a happy memory, I see. “I won’t go into full details, because frankly they were embarrassing for all concerned. Suffice it to say, a popular self-help guru came to town and made our dear shy pegasus friend his pet project. He got her to unleash years of repressed emotions. Irritation doesn’t just go away, you know; it festers. She called herself New Fluttershy, and she was a beastly creature. She became a bully. That’s another reason I’m worried! She’s been calling herself ‘Rarity’s Fluttershy’ and ‘Your Fluttershy’. If anypony else said such things I wouldn’t be concerned, well, not as concerned. But that, combined with her aggressiveness... I think she’s trying too hard to become what she thinks I want!”
Most ponies with a new marefriend would dream of that, think it a good thing. Leave it to Rarity to worry more about the other pony than about being happy purely for herself. “So what do you think triggered this? She had to have had some reason, surely?”
The unicorn laid her head down on the cushion in shame. “She did it for me. She said she couldn’t bear to watch me hurting myself.”
The spa pony comforted the worried unicorn. She’s so worked up. Can it be she does not see the obvious solution? “So what are you going to do? You can leave well enough alone and have what many would consider to be the perfect marefriend, somepony who does anything and everything to please you. Is that what you want?”
The fashionista looked up indignantly. “Not at all! I want her! Not some mask she puts on because she thinks I won’t love her without it!”
There was a knock on the door. Aloe gave an apologetic look to the fashionista before answering it. “Lotus! We are busy in here. Why aren’t you with Fluttershy?”
“I think there’s something wrong with her! She just doesn’t seem herself!”
"What do you mean, not herself?"
"She... I don't want to talk about it. It was rather embarrassing."
Rarity’s voice spoke up from behind Aloe. “Lotus, which room is she in?”
“Fine. Good! Girls, if you will excuse me, I shall have to beg your forgiveness. Can you see that we have privacy until we come out?”
Aloe stepped out of the way. There we go, just tell her what you do want. “Of course, you know we will.”
She opened the door to room seven and stepped inside. “Fluttershy, dear—”
She was quickly covered in kisses. “Rarity! I missed you. Did you enjoy your special?”
Rarity grinned happily, then shook herself in slight annoyance. “Darling... I need you to stop for a moment.”
The pegasus halted her smooching storm in surprise. She looked wounded, and just a little scared. “You don’t... like me kissing you?”
The unicorn was quick to embrace her beloved, since the poor dear seemed on the verge of tears. “No, no! That’s not what I mean at all... I just find it incredibly difficult to think while you are doing that, and I need my faculties for a moment. Please, sit while I compose myself.”
She took a moment to let her heart rate settle. “Darling... just now Lotus came to my room in a bit of a panic. What did you say to her?”
“Oh, I asked her for advice. You see, I don’t know anything about... well, anything and I wanted her help. I wanted to know how to make you happy.”
Rarity tried hard to hide her look of shock. “You asked Lotus how to... please me?”
The pegasus nodded. “I’ve never—”
Rarity mirrored the gesture; she had suspected as much. “Darling, I'm worried about you. I appreciate that both of us seem to have existed in self-perpetuating torment for some time now. But that doesn’t mean we have to do everything now. Please, you don’t need to go at this pace for me. There will come a time for us to... express our feelings for each other in more, ah, intimate ways ... but I fear that you’re rushing things, and trying to make me happy over your own inclinations.”
Fluttershy shook her head vehemently. “No, it’s okay, Rarity, your Fluttershy just wants you to be happy.”
She grimaced. Fluttershy was doing it again. “And who do I address at this moment, darling? You see, what I want to know right now is, what does Fluttershy want? Not my Fluttershy, but just... you.”
The pegasus went still, and seemed uncertain. All trace of the brazen mare who so captivated her attention was gone for a moment, leaving behind only the wonderfully shy creature she had fallen in love with.
Rarity realized in that instant, she loved neither side of Fluttershy less than the other. They were two halves of the same whole. She simply needed help to balance them. “Um...”
The fashionista nodded, going on. “You see, darling... I think that perhaps you have this idea of what I want, and have tried to become that. I worry that this... new attitude of yours may just be entirely to please me. I can’t in good conscience accept such a thing.”
Her beloved looked sad and lost, desperately trying to understand what Rarity was saying. “You don’t... want me to be assertive anymore?”
Rarity laughed and gave her an amused look, tinged with heat in her eyes. “Not at all! This... boldness, I love it. I am saying you can be bold, but temper it, darling. You do not have to be ‘my’ Fluttershy, that's not the pony I fell in love with. Just be Fluttershy. That's all I will ever ask of you, and in return I will love you for the rest of my days.”
The pegasus leapt off the table and swept her into a tight embrace before pausing, clearly embarrassed. “Oh... I’m doing it again. I’m sorry. You just... make me want to be like that.”
Rarity kissed her lovingly on the forehead. “Never apologize for desiring me. I am so very glad I affect you like that! Although... What led you to try and behave so... boldly?”
Fluttershy started blushing again. “Well, I... I haven’t been in a relationship before, of course, and... I tried to figure out what I would enjoy, or what you would want. And I wanted to be assertive without being mean, and I realized I could do that...” Her voice trailed off.
“By being sexy?”
She hadn’t expected the mare’s blush to get any brighter, but it happened regardless. “Yes.”
“Well, there is nothing wrong with that. But rather than guesswork... Let’s just take things a little slower, do what we each want to do, not what we think the other wants.”
The pegasus met her lips with passionate fury, kissing her deeply. She blushed just as furiously. “That sounds wonderful.”
The rest of their session passed largely without incident, the two chatting quietly and openly with the spa sisters. They seemed well pleased to see their charges so happy, even if they encountered a little hiccup at the beginning of the relationship.
Aloe sighed dreamily as the happy couple left for the day. "I think they will be okay now."
Lotus nodded, smiling happily.
Upon leaving, a thought occurred to Rarity. They were coming a little easier now that her beloved was not covering her in kisses at every opportunity. “Sweetie Belle! Fluttershy, I’m sorry but our plans for the evening will have to be postponed. I have to escort her back to our parents’ home tonight.”
The pegasus looked a bit disappointed, but nodded in understanding. “It’s okay, we’ll work on the dresses tomorrow.” She leaned forward and kissed Rarity goodbye.
Rarity watched her friend walk away, and another thought hit her... maybe too easily, as her mouth articulated it long before her mind was consulted on the matter. “Darling, would you like to meet them?” As Fluttershy stared at her in shock, she blanched. What in Equestria did I just say?