"Rainbow, is that all true?" Twilight stood up to hug her mourning friend.
Rainbow laughed and casually wiped a tear from her face, hoping no one noticed. "Of course it is Twilight."
"I bet you kicked that dumb old colt's butt with your awesome Kung Fu moves!" Applebloom had apparently woken up at some point during Rainbow's story.
Applejack spoke up, patting Applebloom's head. "You didn't leave anything out this time did ya?"
Rainbow cowered down, letting her mane fall in her face. "...no, I'm sorry I did before."
"Awe Dash, I was only jokin, come here, I'm not mad at ya." Applejack was more than surprised at Rainbow's sudden change in personality.
Twilight seemed to recognize this phenomenon. "I think I read about this somewhere, when a pegasus goes through a very traumatic experience, they can often become much more timid and passive. Even though they're normally competitive and assertive, it's been recorded in severe cases that they even stop speaking at all."
"Well I'm glad our Dashy is at least almost back to her good ol self." Applejack threw her arm around her moping friend.
"Well I agree completely, also I'm getting cold, and I think I hear a bug. Let's go back home now guys." Rarity decided she had endured the outdoors long enough.
The ponies all packed their things back up while Rarity called for the carriage. It seems the four ponies had lost track of time while Rainbow shared her past with her curious friends. The moon was nearly directly above them, indicating it was approximately midnight. Upon arriving back to Applejack's home, they were each given a spare room. Twilight and Rarity chose to share one.
"Hey Rarity, I'm going to go out for some air alright?" Rarity was already in bed, more than ready for some sleep.
"Okay, hurry back sweetheart, I'll be waiting." Rarity blew her a kiss then collapsed into a deep sleep. Twilight smiled and took a moment to enjoy the sight of her new found love laying quite peacefully. She walked up to her and gave ger a warm kiss in the cheek, then trotted out the door.
Twilight couldn't take her mind off Fluttershy's house, there were still unanswered questions waiting to be resolved. However she feared her friends wouldn't be able to understand, much less accept these answers. So she trotted off towards Ponyville on her own, disappearing into the night.
Twilight soon found herself entering the tattered ruins of her friends old home. It was too dark to see inside now, so she cast a spell, creating a small orb of light at the tip of her horn, making sure to keep it dim enough not to attract any unwanted attention. She heard a noise coming from upstairs, this time it caused her to jump. Twilight was a bit nervous, but she forced herself to calm down and continue her exploration. She slowly walked up the stairs, each plank seemed to shriek in agony as she continued up the stairs. The door was locked, horror struck Twilight, she knew earlier today the door was left wide open. Every logical cell in her body told her to run away, but curiosity overwhelmed her caution. Twilight tapped on the door.
No response, Twilight jiggled the handle and it came loose. Just then a low pitched groaning came from the other side of the door. Her mane stood straight up and she covered her mouth with her hooves to keep from screaming.
"Okay Twilight, calm down, calm down. There's a logical explanation, uh, the wind. It's just the wind."
Twilight calmed herself, she pushed the door open and peeked inside. It was the same as when she left it. She walked in to further investigate, the picture was gone, but the broken glass was still there. Her heart was racing, Twilight looked up into the closet, the light from her horn still left the gaping hole pitch black. She shot an orb up into the hole, the darkness seemed to consume nearly all the light. Another noise, it was coming from the attic. Twilight decided she had no choice, she climbed through the hole. She was immediately met by a nearly unbearable stench, small dead animals littered the floor, most of them rotting. Twilight looked around, dust clouded the air, and it was too dark to see anything. She brightened her horn, but the thick dust prevented her from seeing very far.
"Flu... Fluttershy?" Twilight heard a sobbing sound coming from a corner. She shined her light in that direction, through the dust she spotted a pair of eyes reflecting her bright light. With a quick flutter they disappeared behind a thick wall of dust. Twilight decided to swallow her fears and investigate. As the dust settled, Twilight saw a heart shattering scene. She felt as if she swallowed her heart and tongue as she looked upon her missing friend. Fluttershy was holding the lifeless body of her beloved pet rabbit, Angel. She rocked it back and forth in an attempt to comfort it.
"Hush now little one, if you ever want to get better you'll need your sleep." She sat her pet down gently on its pet bed and reached over to pick up a mostly decayed bird.
"Well aren't you looking good today Mr. Finchy, let's work on grooming those messy feathers of yours."
Twilight was for the first time in her life, at a loss of words. All she could do was cry and watch as Fluttershy desperately tended to these long since deceased animals. Twilight walked up to Fluttershy, she noticed that she seemed to be starving, her ribs were clearly visible. She lowered Fluttershy's hoof and gently hugged her. Twilight felt her rapidly pulsing heart, then felt her own sink into her chest.
"Hey Fluttershy, would you come with me back to Applejack's house please?" Twilight wasn't sure how to talk to or handle Fluttershy in her current state.
"Oh no, I can't Twilight, I have a lot of sick animals to take care of. Speaking of which, Angel Bunny, you need to take this medicine if you ever want to get better."
Twilight put a hoof to Fluttershy's face, turning her to make eye contact. Fluttershy seemed to look straight through Twilight, not actually making eye contact. Twilight saw huge bags under her eyes, as if she hadn't been sleeping or days. Once again Twilight found herself covering her nose due to the repulsive stench.
"Fluttershy, we need to go. Now." Twilight could hardly stand the odor any longer.
"I... I can't, I already told you Twilight."
Twilight put her hoof around Fluttershy, urging her towards the exit. Fluttershy resisted, and when Twilight didn't give up she began to panic. She flapped her wings kicking up dust all around them then quickly disappeared into another corner.
"You need help! If you won't come willing I'll force you out. It's for your own good."
Twilight wrapped Fluttershy in a veil of purple magic, lifting her into the air. She led her through the hole in the closet. They were back in Fluttershy's room where Twilight could at least stand to breathe. Once again Twilight heard a terrifying deep groaning.
"Fluttershy, what is that?!"
"Oh that's just Gummy, I think he still has a belly ache. You know he has trouble chewing his food, and he doesn't play nice with the other animals. So he's down here by himself all day, I bet he's lonely." Fluttershy seemed genuinely concerned about his feelings.
Twilight peeked underneath her bed, two deep purple eyes met hers accompanied by a low growl. Twilight gulped, "He's... Huge! When did that happen?!"
Gummy crawled out from under the bed. He was much longer than Twilight, his thick tail whipped the floorboards as he allowed his massive mouth to slowly open. Jagged teeth appeared to randomly placed along his gum line.
"Flut.. Fluttershy, when did Gummy get teeth?"
"Well, I gave him teeth so he could chew his food, he was getting really sick and needed more solids."
"You gave him teeth? I don't even... Fluttershy, please come with me, you're sick and need to take care of yourself right now. I'm going to do everything I can to help."
"I feel fine Twilight, but if you say so I'll go with you for just a little while. But I can't stay gone long." They walked downstairs then outside.
Twilight took a deep long breath, enjoying the crisp night air, Fluttershy immediately sobbing and begging Twilight to let her go back inside. Gummy retreated back under the bed.
"Twilight, I really need to stay here, please don't make me leave my little pets all alone."
"Come on you." Twilight was growing impatient, probably due to her long day and lack of sleep.
The two soon arrived back at Applejack's home. Everyone was already asleep, so Twilight led Fluttershy to an empty room and welcomed her to get some sleep. It didn't take long for Fluttershy to doze off, she seemed exhausted due to her frantic care taking. Twilight wasn't quite sure if she should leave Fluttershy alone, but soon the sweet beckoning call of Rarity's warmth in bed got the better of Twilight's judgement. She crawled into bed and wrapped her arms around her warm partner, cuddling close up.
Later in the morning, the six sat in the living room, Fluttershy had freshly showered and was smelling much better now. She was eating some warm apple strips for breakfast, Celestia knows she needs it. The ponies all gathered around, listening to what Twilight had to tell them. Despite all the obvious problems in her life, Fluttershy wanted only to return to her animals, not only to take her mind off her overwhelming guilt, but to escape the judgment of her friends. As far as they were concerned that was not an option.
"I... I really need to get back to Angel, he's been really sick lately, the others too." Fluttershy looked down at the floor, hoping the others would simply let her go.
"I'm not sure how to tell you this, or why you can't tell, but Angel's dead Fluttershy, all those animals in the attic are."
Fluttershy knew that it was true, but refused to believe it until now. She stopped and thought about that fact for a minute, unbearable mental anguish filled her thoughts, her heart seemed to stop beating.
"I know... You're right Twilight... You're right about everything, you always are... I just needed to keep taking care of him, I was so lonely there."
"Why didn't you come to us sooner? Any one of us would have gladly helped you with anything."
"I just couldn't Twilight. I couldn't even stand to look at you, at any of you. I saw you all fighting and crying, and it was all because of me."
"Because of you? It didn't have anything to do with you, why would you say that?"
"I couldn't make myself tell you, I didn't want you to hate me. So I just hid in my house and pretended I sold it and moved..." Fluttershy's was sniffling and sobbing like she never had before, she was lost in her own depression.
"Can I please just go? I don't belong here."
"No Fluttershy, you can't. You have nowhere to go, your house is in no condition for any pony to live there. And that disgusting attic is just going to get you killed, who knows what kinds of diseases are floating around in that foul air. What you need is our help, and we're all here to give it to you now, but first you need to trust that we love you and are really here for you no matter what you think has happened."
"What she really needs are some crazy pills." Rainbow attempted to lighten the mood with a joke.
"Rainbow! You're not helping!" Twilight scorned her off color humor.
"Jeez sorry, you know I was just joking right Shy?"
"I.. I know." Fluttershy replied under her breath.
Rainbow Dash approached her, she wrapped her wings around her and warmly comforted the sniffling pony.
"Everything's going to be fine, now tell us what happened to you, we're your friends and only want to help you, we love you." Rainbow Dash displayed a rare glimpse of her compassion. Something she often only really shared with Fluttershy.
"Thanks... But, you shouldn't love me. I don't deserve it..."
"Of course you do darling, why would you even say that?" Rarity joined in the comforting hug.
"I... I..." Fluttershy was interrupted by her own uncontrollable crying.
Twilight and Applejack both rushed to her side, doing their parts to comfort the more than distressed pegasus.
"Ask Rainbow, there's nothing you can say that would shock us now, and we'll never stop loving you no matter what you have to say." Twilight attempted to speak light heartedly but her voice reflected her sadness. Seeing her sweet innocent friend in shambles like this was all too much to take.
"I... You see, well..." Fluttershy stumbled around her own words, speaking in a less than audible tone.
"Just say it Shy, we won't judge you, tell us what's got you so worked up."
"Well... I... I killed Pinkie Pie!" Fluttershy blurted it out.
"I was helping her with Gummy and I saw her in the ballon so I went to talk to her to tell her what was wrong and she got mad at me but I was already mad at her so we started fighting and she yelled at me and... I... I just snapped, I lost control of my body... I.. Killed her..."
Rainbow let go and took a few steps back. Tears were welling up in her eyes. "You what?..." Before she could reply she ran outside and flew away.
"Rainbow wait!" Twilight chased after her, but there was no way to stop her. She headed back in to talk to Fluttersy and figure out exactly what she was saying.
"I'm so sorry, I'm leaving now, you can tell Rainbow Dash that she can come back in... I wouldn't want to be around me either..."
"Fluttershy stop it. Rainbow is just upset, honestly we all are. We never expected you to say something like that. Now come here." Twilight hugged her sobbing friend. "If you know something about Pinkie's death that we don't, you need to tell us."
"Okay... I'll tell you everything, I just couldn't bring myself to do it before. I couldn't even stand looking at you guys. You were all so sad and... It was all because of me. That's why I hid..."
"No more hiding, we're here for you. I'm sure Rainbow'll come around soon enough."
The three ponies sat around Fluttershy as she went on to tell them the truth, a truth that none of them ever wanted to hear.