"Hey, no fair!" Cried a cyan pegasus filly, her voice cracking in agitation. She slumped back into the cloud on which she was sitting, her eyes wide and mouth hanging open in disbelief.
Her playmate, a buttery yellow filly with large, innocent turquoise eyes, looked back at her. She wore a questioning expression at her friend's frustration. "What's wrong?" The filly spoke timidly, as if she herself was the blame.
Rainbow Dash stared at her friend, one eye squinted as she screwed up her face in confusion. "How in Equestria do you keep winning at this?" For the fourth time in a row, Fluttershy had sent her king to Tartarus, and Rainbow wasn't sure what angered her more; the fact that her friend kept mercilessly beating her, or the fact that she couldn't for the life of her figure out how in the name of all that was holy she was doing it.
Fluttershy adopted a small smile and shrugged sweetly. "I don't know, I'm just good at this game, I suppose." Rainbow couldn't help but sigh. This was her friend Fluttershy.
In the short one month since their first meeting, Rainbow had come to really like the yellow filly. She was always true to who she was, and always humble and sweet, even when she had just reason to brag a little. The cyan filly could take a leaf or two out of her book, though she would never admit it.
Fluttershy surveyed Rainbow's face, before asking, "Do you want a rematch?" This was another thing to love; she was forever fair, always giving second chances. Rainbow slapped a hoof to her forehead, before sliding it down her face in sheer exasperation.
"Nah, you won fair and square." She declared, before adding, "Besides, I don't think I can handle another loss." Ending her sentence with a playful laugh, Rainbow hopped to her hooves, flexing in preparation for takeoff. Her eyes narrowed into that daring expression that was almost exclusive to pre-flight Rainbow Dash.
"How about a few tricks? Hey, I challenge you to a race, Fluttershy!"
The yellow filly's eyes grew sad as she looked down, suddenly fascinated with the sheen of her bubblegum pink locks. Neglecting to offer her eager friend a proper response, Fluttershy merely gave a little squeak.
Rainbow flitted to her side, watching her friend, her expression falling somber and slightly worried. Was it something she said? "It's alright, Fluttershy, we don't have to race or anything if you don't want to." In spite of herself, the cyan filly secretly hoped her friend would change her mind; her wings were just begging for the feel of the wind between their feathers.
Fluttershy looked up at her friend, her eyes pleading with her not to be angry. "N-no, that's not it, it's just..." She trailed away, fading into a string of unintelligible mumbles as her mane captivated her attention once more. Rainbow sat down next to her in a puff of cloud, blowing a strand of unruly hair out of the way as she searched her friend's face with concern. Fluttershy's stare could've burned a hole through the strand of pink she held, stroking it nervously.
"Come on, Fluttershy, you can tell me anything!" Rainbow scooted closer, waving her hooves through the air to emphasize her trustworthiness.
Fluttershy didn't break her stare at her mane, which her hoof was still fiddling with in anxiety. She opened her mouth and closed it in a few helpless gulps, forgetting the ability to speak, before her confession came, as feeble as possible while still staying audible, even if just barely. "I... can't exactly..." Rainbow's urging expression practically drew the words from her lips. "...fly."
She might as well have admitted to being married to a Manticore; Rainbow's reaction was the same either way. She froze, staring dumbfounded at her friend's confession. A pegasus unable to fly? Unheard of! Flying was like second nature to the cyan filly; she'd been sailing the skies for as long as she cared the remember. Fluttershy's problem was so surprising to the filly, that she had to consciously make sure that her leg wasn't just being pulled.
When the yellow pegasus began to recede like a hermit crab into its shell, Rainbow gathered the presence of mind to pull herself together. "Hey," she spoke in an uncharacteristically comforting manner, "Don't worry about it, you'll learn!"
Fluttershy sniffed a looked up with glistening eyes. "Really?" She squeaked, wiping a strand of long hair from her eyes. Rainbow nodded in assurance, wearing a soft smile.
An idea flashing through her mind, Rainbow Dash sprung to her feet. Even without a cutie mark just yet, she was still a flying expert, one with sharable expertise.
"In fact, how about I teach you right now!"
Two ponies walked side by side, one being blindfolded. The first walked gracefully and delicately, gliding over the ground, while the latter, despite her best efforts not to, was stumbling over her own hooves.
"Where are you taking me, Fluttershy?" Rainbow impatiently asked. Her eyes were wide and staring behind the fabric, though it would do her no good. The mare's nature was getting the better of her, and she hated being in the dark, both figuratively and literally.
Fluttershy giggled cutely, nudging Dash out of the way of a little pebble. "Be patient, Rainbow Dash, we're almost there."
Rainbow Dash became as keen as a sleuth as she allowed her friend to lead her. Her ears twitched at every sound,hoping to derive some sort of clue as to where they were. Well, after fifteen minutes of walking, she had gathered one thing; they were outside.
Not to mention how much her hooves were killing her. The cyan pegasus couldn't imagine how unicorns could stand walking everywhere, only teleporting once in a while, or, even worse, earth ponies. Her wings itched at just the thought.
However, when Fluttershy gave her another nudge, Rainbow remembered why she was here. Every word, every action,every thought she had nowadays revolved around this yellow pegasus. From her silky pink hair, to her sleek body, to her impossibly sweet and charming demeanor, and whole, kind heart, one thing was certain; the cyan mare had fallen head over hooves in love with her. If Fluttershy was going to lead her to an unknown location in the middle of nowhere, then to an unknown location she would go.
With hardly enough time to revel in the moment, Fluttershy brought them both to a halt. "Okay, we're here." She announced. Before removing the blindfold, the mare leaned into Rainbow, nuzzling her mane affectionately. "I couldn't forget the beautiful place you took me to last time, I had such a wonderful time, I just had to repay."
Rainbow's heart skipped a beat as she felt the yellow mare pressed against her, and she replied by resting her head on the top of her mane in a hoof-less embrace. "I had a great time too, Flutters," She spoke affectionately, before playfully adding, "And I'm sure I will this time too, if you'll just untie me."
Fluttershy smiled into Rainbow's neck, sending shivers down her spine. "Of course." She pulled aside the cover, revealing the landscape to her friend.
A meadow, somewhere outside Ponyville, spread across Rainbow's vision, spanning full and green,edged by thick trees. It was incredible how something so big and beautiful could be hidden so nicely,just for them two.
The grass grew high and lush, providing a bed of rolling spring green waves just waiting for somepony to lie in them. The field was pockmarked with white daisies, small and demure, contrasting perfectly with the crystal-blue sky and the warm yellow sun that illuminated the meadow.
Fluttershy studied her friend's expression as her eyes flicked back and forth, from the blades of grass that shone like silver to the trees that surrounded them. Rainbow's eyes grew wide in awe, unable to take in the sheer natural beauty that faced her.
The cyan mare had the catch her breath before responding. "Fluttershy, it's...amazing." That was it. There were no other words to describe what the pegasus was feasting her eyes on. Fluttershy did not mind; her smile affirmed that she was indeed quite pleased to hear that her friend appreciated her secret glade as well.
With that, the two ponies were off, galloping and cantering through the field, allowing the soft grass to tickle their hooves as they went, chasing each other in peals of laughter. The sun warmed them as they played like foals, innocent and carefree, as the breeze picked up their worries and blew them away.
Leaping around Fluttershy, Rainbow landed in the grass, sprawling herself onto her back, hugged by a million perfect white daisies. Fluttershy followed suit, the two ponies now laying next to each other, watching the few lazy clouds in an otherwise clear blue sky. For once, Rainbow didn't long to be in it.
"This place really is awesome, Flutters." Rainbow remarked with a relaxed sigh. Fluttershy didn't say a word, just sighing and resting her head on her friend's shoulder in complete bliss.
Suddenly, an idea popped in her head. "Oh, Dashie, do you know how to make a daisy chain?" She asked, pulling herself up to sitting position.
Rainbow also sat up, shaking her head. "Can't say that I do."
With a gentle motion, the yellow mare plucked a few delicate blossoms from the grass cushion beneath them. She smiled as she traced the petals, looking up to see Dash watching curiously. "Let me show you!" She suggested.
Without the dexterity that thumbs or magic provided, fine, intricate work like this was best left untouched by pegasi and earth ponies. It didn't help that Rainbow Dash never really had the knack or the patience for such careful work anyway, but she was certainly curious as to how her friend was planning on pulling this off.
Fluttershy was quick to show the technique, using her mouth as an anchor to loop the flowers together in a practiced, fluid motion. She made adorable little squeaks of concentration while she worked, sending Rainbow's heart on an affectionate sugar rush.
Rainbow was brought back to the ground when Fluttershy swung a triple daisy chain before her eyes, perfectly and expertly crafted. The mare couldn't help but be impressed by the handiwork.
"Can you show me how to do that again?"
"That's it, flap those wings!" A little cyan filly coached. Fluttershy strained, letting out little grunts of exhaustion, as she attempted to do the very thing she was never capable of.
She stood on her hooves, bent forward slightly as she stretched her wing muscles furiously. Locks of thick pink hair fell into her eyes, but the pegasus didn't bother pushing them away. Her entire mind, all of her energy was concentrated in her frail yellow wings.
"Just a little more, you got this!" Rainbow encouraged, circling her friend for a better view, flitting her own cyan wings for emphasis. Fluttershy squeezed her eyes shut as she powered on, her wings attacking the air more vigorously than ever before. Any more and she would surely give out and suddenly become an earth pony.
Rainbow hopped around, cheering Fluttershy on, "You're doing awesome! Now we just need a little momentum for that first liftoff! That's how I learned!" She declared, before landing next to her friend, looking at her with pride.
"Go on, Fluttershy," the cyan filly urged, "Run!"
With that, Fluttershy took off like a bullet, soft puffs of cloud rising from where her hooves hit the surface. She sped along, still furiously beating her wings in preparation for takeoff. The air felt cool against her face as she ran, harder than ever, more determined than ever, leaving her friend behind as she cheered heartily.
This time, Fluttershy would prove them all wrong.
Rainbow Dash groaned through her teeth in exasperation as she worked, clamping the stem of a particularly stubborn daisy in her mouth. The petals didn't fit the right way, and the skinny stems kept breaking off, like the cyan mare's patience was about to do.
After ten minutes of extremely detailed work that she wasn't used to, Rainbow was growing frustrated. She was, however, determined to have something to show for her labor, so the resilient pegasus toiled on, no matter what the cost. In any case, she wanted to impress the mare across from her.
All the while, Fluttershy had been sitting in silence, tirelessly stringing together blossom after blossom, utterly absorbed in her task. The pegasus was so enamored by the flowers before her that she failed to notice the increasing frustration and determination of her companion.
After another few minutes, Rainbow was stringing together the final flower. One final loop and she would be...done! The cyan mare held up the chain in triumph, letting the white daisies swing in front of her friend. She dropped the fruit of her labor in front of Fluttershy, leaning back to admire her work.
"Done! Whaddaya think of tha-" Rainbow's grin slid off her face as she looked up to see her friend adjusting a lovely daisy halo over her flowing mane. With a look at her own sorry little chain, Rainbow's heart fell even further.
"Argh! I just can't get this!" She exclaimed, slumping into the grass. Fluttershy appraised her chain, smiling.
"Oh don't worry, Rainbow Dash, you're off to a great start!" She reassured warmly, running her friend's chain through her hooves. "Do you want to try just one more time?"
Rainbow sighed. Of course she wanted to give it another go, anything for Fluttershy.
"Sure. Can you please show me once more?" The mare asked, turning back to Fluttershy and working up a smile. She was met with the warm smile from her yellow friend.
"Of course." Fluttershy huddled next to Rainbow, showing every detail of the technique.
The cyan mare held her breath as she lost herself in the feel of her friend's long pink hair tickling against her,and her sweet voice patiently explaining the daisy chain process. Rainbow watched with what care Fluttershy, the mare she was in love with, worked, and she made her mind up.
This time she would get it right.
After a while of difficult, detailed crafting, Rainbow laced together her final flower. She dropped a daisy chain before her friend, smiling widely in triumph, true triumph. Every petal lay perfectly, the stems twisted together just right, every element coming together to form a pristine piece of floral artwork.
"Look, Flutters, I did it!" She exclaimed, voice cracking in excitement. The product of her labor lay in the grass before the yellow mare, who looked up from her own work to appraise it.
Fluttershy smiled hugely as she bent to pick the chain up in her mouth, pink hair falling over her shoulders. Rainbow fell quiet as the yellow pegasus leaned forward to delicately place the floral halo around her head. Tenderly sweeping a strand of colorful hair away as she did so, Fluttershy closed the distance between the two, their muzzles almost touching.
Rainbow's breath hitched in her throat as the two came together, pink and rainbow-haired angels, wearing halos of spring blossoms. Fluttershy looked up from under long lashes, turquoise meeting rose, as she gently spoke, "It's beautiful, Rainbow Dash," She smiled, before adding in slightly more than a whisper, "And you look beautiful too."
The cyan pegasus moved foreward, meeting Fluttershy in the gentlest kiss, more gentle than anypony would've guessed the athlete was capable of. Her eyes slid closed as their lips touched, soft as a butterfly's wing, but as passionate as possible.
It ended all too soon, as Rainbow leaned back slightly, raising a hoof to run through Fluttershy's mane. "Thank you for teaching me." She said quietly, wearing a small smile. "I would've been lost without you." She meant the last comment to apply to more than just daisy chains.
Fluttershy smiled and rested her head on the cyan mare's shoulder, closing her eyes and allowing the breeze to wisp through her hair and ruffle her daisy halo.
"I always believed in you, Dashie."
A yellow filly was running with a vengeance, furiously thrashing the air with her wings, her little chest heaving with strain. Behind her she heard the cheers of her friend and coach that drove her on, until it was only them, the cloud below her, and the vast blue horizon.
She leaped, a single leap of faith, and closed her eyes, expecting to feel the cloud hit her as it had so many times before. Everything, everything she worked for, her very being rested on this moment, the moment where Fluttershy would either gain or lose faith in herself.
She braced herself, but no impact came. She felt light, drifting as though the filly was a leaf caught on the wind. Peeking timidly out of one eye, Fluttershy saw nothing blue clear blue, and white cloud below her. Far below her.
As she flew, suspended by the sheer power of her own wings, the filly felt an elation the likes of which she had never experienced before swell inside her. "Rainbow Dash, I did it!" She squealed in delight. "I'm flying!" Though her wings still beat furiously, Fluttershy hardly noticed over the feeling of the sky stretching endlessly around her.
Rainbow Dash watched her friend from below, squinting in the beaming sunlight. It would be so easy to just flit up there, share in her friend's achievement with a few celebratory flips, but the filly resisted. This was Fluttershy's moment. "You did so amazing, Fluttershy!"
It only took a minute of flight for the pegasus to tire herself out, and she landed gracefully on the cloud next to her friend, wearing an unrivaled smile. "Did you see me? I was flying!"
Rainbow hopped into the air with happiness, and pride in her timid friend. "I sure did, that was awesome!"
Fluttershy looked up shyly, her eyes questioning. "How... How did you know I could do it, Rainbow Dash?" She softly asked, "Nopony has ever believed in me." The tinge of sadness in her sweet voice made Rainbow Dash want to pull her into a tight hug.
Instead, she walked over, brushing a strand of pink out of her friend's eyes, tilting her head up under her chin softly. Pink eyes met turquoise as understanding, mutual silence spread between them, before Rainbow spoke.
"I have always believed in you."