"That was some party, hmm?"
"It was very nice. We always have so much fun at Pinkie's parties."
"I think this one was the best yet. But you know what? I prefer the after parties. Less crowded."
Fluttershy sighed and settled herself more comfortably into Rainbow's embrace, allowing herself to take comfort from the other pegasus. She had never realized until the previous night how much she enjoyed having somepony with her. Even with all the animals sleeping around the house, she had always felt lonely in the hours after the sun had set, when she lay in bed thinking.
Rainbow smiled when she felt Fluttershy snuggle closer, feeling the warmth of the other pony against her. The light blue pegasus gazed at her marefriend, unconsciously brushing a stray piece of hair our of the shy ponies face. She found that it was hard to tear her eyes away, and even if she was able she wouldn't want to. Much like the previous night the moon shone through the window, lighting up Fluttershy's face to a beautiful silvery white. Driven by some sudden impulse, Rainbow leaned her head over just enough to kiss her on the cheek, feeling the heat rising in them in response. It wasn't like they hadn't done it before, and to be honest it wasn't all that much in the first place, but it was still a way to show their affection.
When Rainbow leaned back, her eyes were still on Fluttershy's face. After a few seconds, she saw a single glimmering tear fall down her face, accompanied by a quiet sniff.
"You okay?" Rainbow asked, hoping things wouldn't turn out like the other night. Fluttershy hesitated, and then nodded, but that wasn't enough to convince her.
"Fluttershy, you don't need to hide anything from me. Whatever you want to say, you can say it."
"Well, I, umm," she began, glancing up to see Rainbow looking genuinely worried for her, which did help to bring her comfort. "I was just wondering, why it is that you like me. I-I don't understand why you'd like anypony like me."
The question came as a surprise to the blue pegasus. Of all the things Fluttershy could possibly worry about, she never expected her to worry about Rainbow's feelings for her. Before answering, she gave the shy pegasus another soft kiss on the cheek.
"First off, I don't just like you Fluttershy," she began. "I love you. I love you more than anyone in Equestria. As for why, I could go on and on about things like how kind you are, and how beautiful you are. And how adorable it is when you blush."
Fluttershy realized that she was blushing, which only deepened the shade of red, making Rainbow laugh quietly before speaking again.
"While those are all true, I don't think they really do you justice. You're much more than that. One thing I've always loved about you is, well, your innocence. The way you talk about the world in the purest way. You haven't been influenced by the darker side, unlike me."
"What do you mean by that?" Fluttershy asked quietly in confusion. Rainbow thought for a moment, knowing it would be difficult to explain.
"Let me start by saying that I've never been in real relationship before this, I promise. But, as you know, I'm a show off. Sometimes a bit too much of a show off. That can sometimes give ponies the wrong impression of me. Back at flight camp, after the race where you first visited the ground, I started acting a little different. As I got older, it didn't get any better. I was a flirt, I admit it. I never had actual feelings towards the ponies, but I enjoyed all the attention they gave me. Sometimes one would come onto me a little too hard, and I'd turn them down, but I didn't stop. I liked making them think that they had a shot with me, that I'd actually consider being with them even though I never would.
"You weren't in Cloudsdale at the time, so you wouldn't have known about the reputation I got. Most other ponies thought of me as the type of mare that they could have some fun with for as long as they wanted, and then move on when they were done."
Rainbow paused in her story, squeezing her eyes shut to stop any stray tears from falling. She hated that part of her past. She was ashamed of it all, but Fluttershy deserved the truth, and so she'd get it. While Rainbow had been talking, Fluttershy had been listening in silence, unsure as to how she felt about what the other pegasus was saying.
"I don't know why I kept doing it," Rainbow continued after a moment. "I honestly liked the attention, and I couldn't see how it was affecting me. It just kept happening until one colt pushed too far for even my liking. After that, I left Cloudsdale for a few days to think. I don't know how I found Ponyville, but when I did, the first pony I saw was you.
"I had no idea that you'd moved to Ponyville. I had always wondered where you went when you officially left Cloudsdale, but I couldn't see why you'd still want to be my friend so I never tried to talk to you again. You probably don't remember what I'm talking about, because I never came and talked to you. I flew around the town for the rest of the day, thinking of what I wanted to do with my life. After the last incident, I was tired of the reputation I had back home. Then I had an idea. I barely even stopped to think about it. I just called the movers, and I was living in Ponyville within the week.
"You'll probably remember that day. It was the first day after I moved into my house here. I saw you walking around town, so I went to say hi. I didn't expect you to remember me. After all, we may have been friends as fillies but that had been years before. But you should have seen the look on your face when you saw me again. Do you remember that? Your face lit up and you practically tackled me to the ground in a hug. That had to be the moment I realized that I loved you.
"You see Fluttershy, if I hadn't seen you again that day, I might still be in Cloudsdale with no where to go in my life. When I saw you, I felt like I wanted to try to make things better for myself. You're the reason that I am who I am today, and in the past I've wished that I could be more like you. I know that may not make much sense, but it's true. You are so innocent to the terrible things that happen that you make others see the light. So there you have it. I love you simply for being you."
When she finished, Rainbow smiled. Never before had she admitted all of that to anypony, and it felt so easy to say with Fluttershy. There was silence between the two of them for a few seconds, and then Fluttershy couldn't hold back the tears any longer. She allowed herself to cry, and felt Rainbow hug her close.
"Fluttershy?" she asked in worry. "I'm sorry, okay? I didn't mean to make you sad or angry with me when I told you that. I'm sorry."
"I'm not crying because of that," Fluttershy said in between tears. "What you said about me... nopony has ever said anything so nice to me in my whole life."
Rainbow was shocked for a moment, and then she smiled. She had to have seen that one coming. You can't just tell a pony that they saved you from a horrible life and expect no tears to be shed.
"What about you?" Rainbow asked after a moment.
"What do you mean?" Fluttershy asked, allowing the other pegasus to wipe a tear off her cheek.
"Why do you love me?" she clarified. The yellow pony smiled.
"We've known each other forever, and we've been friends forever. Since we were little, you've always stood up for me. I never thought that I deserved to have someone so... loyal as my friend. You stuck by me when I lived in Cloudsdale, and you never deserted me when I needed a friend. I could never understand why you wanted to be around me. After all, you were also so athletic and competitive. You liked to fly fast and fly high, and you still do. I was never one for the sky, and I admired you. You're the bravest, loyalest, most faithful pony I've ever met.
"I know that you said you sometimes wanted to be like me? Well I always wanted to be like you. You're not afraid of anything, and you'll rise to any challenge put in front of you. You know how to stand up for yourself, as well as for others who are too shy to do it themselves. When I saw you again that day in town after all those years, I hugged you because I couldn't believe that the best friend I ever had was finally back. I knew I was never going back to Cloudsdale, so I thought that I'd never get to see you again, and then there you were. You managed to find me, and I don't believe it was an accident. We were always meant to be together, and that day proves it. Even if I never fully realized how I felt until you stood up for me yesterday, I think that I've loved you for a very long time."
When she finished, Fluttershy realized how much she had been talking. She rarely had that much to say, and she ducked her head in embarrassment, her mane falling to cover her eyes. Almost instantly, Rainbow gently brushed it aside, her eyes glowing as she met the shy gaze.
"Looks like we really were meant to be together," she said softly, feeling her heart beat a thousand times faster looking deep into those wide turquoise eyes. Neither of them felt the need to say another word; they had said all they needed to when they had poured their hearts out to one another. In a sudden rush of feelings, Rainbow leaned in towards Fluttershy, slowly closing the distance between them. She moved closer until their lips were just centimetres away, so close they could feel the others warm breath.
But before Rainbow could close the final distance, Fluttershy flinched back. The look on the blue pegasus face was full of shock and hurt, and then she frowned, and abruptly pulled back.
"Fine," she mumbled, letting go of Fluttershy and turned around to face the other way on the bed. Fluttershy didn't quite know what to say. Why had she done that?
"Rainbow, I'm sorry, I-" she began, but was cut off.
"After all we just said, and you don't want to kiss me?" she said, pain filling her voice. "Fine. That's just fine with me."
Fluttershy mentally hit herself for flinching away when she did. She hadn't expected that reaction, and she knew she had to fix it.
"Rainbow, I didn't mean it like that," she tried to explain, wrapping her own hooves around Rainbow, who didn't try to move away. "I really do love you, and I meant every word I said. But I'm not ready for that. I'm just not. It feels like everything is moving so fast, and I'm scared." Her voice began to tremble as she went on. "I'm sorry if I feel that way. I just want to be with you, and I'll do anything to keep it that way. Please don't be mad at me. I'm sorry."
Fluttershy felt Rainbow sigh, and then she turned back around and hugged Fluttershy into her chest, gently rubbing her back.
"You apologize too much," she said softly, closing her eyes as she spoke. "I'm the one who should be sorry. I'm not going to force you to do anything you don't want to. I just want to be with you too, and if you want to take things slow, then we will. I'll be happy if you are, so there's no need to cry again."
"I love you Dashie," Fluttershy said, her voice muffled against her marefriend.
"I love you too," Rainbow whispered, smiling and finally allowing a single tear to slide down her cheek. "And I always will."