Fluttershy stared out the passenger side window of Sunset Shimmer’s car with a far off look in her eyes. The world outside was grim and moody, a byproduct of the thick cloud cover and torrential downpour. The rain had started falling rather suddenly, and it wasn’t showing any signs of calming down. Deep puddles had formed all over the place, and what few people there were on the passing sidewalks moved quickly with their heads down or umbrellas up.
The car pulled to a stop at the next red light, and the woman sitting next to her gave a quiet sigh. Fluttershy looked over and saw Sunset staring back at her with a small smile. “Good thing you asked me to give you a lift, huh?” she asked with a shrug of her shoulders.
Fluttershy nodded along a grateful smile on her face. “Oh, yes. Thank you very much for the ride.”
“Hey, we knew it was going to rain, and your normal bus was out of commission. It was the least I could do,” Sunset brushed her off with a dismissive wave of her hand. She pointed at an intersection further down the road. “Now, uh, your house is right up around this corner, right?”
Fluttershy’s eyes followed Sunset’s finger. She gave a nod of her head. “Yes, that’s it. Turn left, and it’s on the next block.”
“Okay, you’ll be home in no time.”
Any further conversation was brought to a sudden and jarring halt when Fluttershy’s phone started ringing in her pocket. Curious, she pulled it out and checked the caller ID. It was Eventide.
An uneasy feeling came over her as she looked at the name. It wasn’t like Eventide to call her at this hour unless there was a problem. Frowning, she glanced up at Sunset. “Oh, uh, I’m sorry. I need to answer this.”
“No, that’s fine, go ahead,” Sunset waved her off again before starting the car forwards again. “I’ll be quiet.”
“Thank you,” Fluttershy smiled and answered the call. “Hello?”
Even before Eventide said a word, it became abundantly clear that something was terribly wrong. The uneasy feeling swelled into full-on anxiety when she heard Eventide shakily inhale to begin talking. “Fluttershy, oh, thank God, you’re there! I need your help!”
Fluttershy’s veins began to go cold from the tone of his voice. He sounded like he was on the verge of an all-out panic attack. “Eventide? What’s the matter?!” she asked, turning her head to look out the window.
“I just- It’s Beebee. He’s hurt - Really hurt! I can’t get him to wake up! He keeps groaning and, and- j-just get over here and help me!”
Her eyes widened, and her heart twisted into a cold knot. “Wait, what?! What happened?!” she demanded, her voice rising in volume and drawing an alarmed glance from Sunset.
“I’m not sure! All I know is Apple Bloom brought him in a few minutes ago, said he fell, and he was… Oh, God… he was b-bleeding everywhere. He has this big h-hole in his side, a-and…” He babbled, whatever he might have said next lost between his frantic breaths.
Fluttershy’s face turned ashen. She looked down at the floor of the car between her feet, finding her backpack situated there. Moving quickly, she reached down and unzipped it. To her relief, she found she had a full and almost unused first aid kit sitting within. “Eventide, have you tried treating him?”
“I… I, uh, I don’t… I c-can’t-”
“EVENTIDE!” She barked, making him go quiet. She felt a knot of regret form in her heart, but she shoved it aside for now. “Focus, please! Have you disinfected the wound? Is it bandaged up?”
There were several deep breaths on the other end of the line before Eventide started speaking again. “I… sorry. Okay… uh, I don’t know for sure. All I know is Apple Bloom’s working on him downstairs. But she didn’t have her first aid kit, and mine’s pretty depleted. Last I checked she was using towels tied around his barrel to try and staunch the bleeding, but...”
Fluttershy sat upright, her heart starting to hammer frantically in her chest. Without even thinking about it, she turned around and stared directly at Sunset. “Sunset, you need to turn this car around, now.”
The other woman flinched from the intensity of Fluttershy’s words. Her eyes went wide and a look of confusion spread on her face. “What? Fluttershy, what’s-”
“NOW, SUNSET!” The words came out in a scream, one which made her voice break from the volume. She then turned back to her phone. “Just hang on, Eventide. I’m on my way. Use whatever you have to and slow down the bleeding, and disinfect that wound if you haven’t already!”
“Right, okay, I’ll try. Thank you, Fluttershy. Please, hurry…” Eventide replied, his voice shaking. Fluttershy then heard him shouting at Apple Bloom, though the words were distant and illegible. Then the line went dead.
She sat there for several seconds, her mind trying to catch up with everything that had just happened. She took a deep breath, put her phone away, and looked at Sunset. She found the other woman staring right back at her, having pulled the car off to one side of the road. Sunset raised an eyebrow. “Hey, what’s happening? Is it an emergency or something?”
“Yes, it is!” Fluttershy shot back, her hands balling up in her lap so hard that her knuckles began to turn white. “Please, just take me to Eventide’s house right now! His…”
Silence fell over the two of them in the car, what little color there was left in her face draining away as it dawned on her exactly what it was she was about to do. She focused her eyes on Sunset, finding that she was just staring at her in confusion.
Fluttershy hesitated, the words catching in her throat. She couldn’t do this. She couldn’t say it. If she did, who knew what would happen to Beebee? Sunset would find out about him, and then she’d almost certainly want to send him back to Equestria. Fluttershy couldn’t let that happen. She couldn’t let Eventide’s son be taken away from him.
But, she realized, if she didn’t go through with this, there was a chance that Beebee might die. In her mind, an image flashed before her. An image of Beebee… dead. Just the thought of it was enough to make tears build up behind her eyes.
Sunset’s eyes widened when Fluttershy suddenly looked away, her shoulders shaking. “Wha- Hey, are you okay? Fluttershy…?”
She couldn’t let it happen… Fluttershy sniffled, took a deep breath to steady herself, and spoke in less than a whisper. “...His son is hurt. I have to help him.”
Sunset frowned. “Wait… if his son is hurt, why is he calling you and not 9-1-1?”
Fluttershy refused to answer.
“Please… just take me to him.”
A long and heavy silence fell over the two of them. Sunset looked at Fluttershy for a good long time, her eyes searching. At last, she relented. With a quiet sigh, Sunset pulled the car back into motion, taking Fluttershy back the way they had come.
It was almost dark out by the time Sunset turned her car into Eventide’s driveway. The journey had been a silent one, Neither of them speaking at any point, save for Fluttershy occasionally telling her driver where to turn. The rain had let up only slightly, but it was enough to allow the sky to gain the faintest of dark blue tints. The light was low, and everything beyond the lamp posts beside the road were little more than dark silhouettes against the sky.
Finally, the house came into view. Fluttershy involuntarily sucked in a deep breath through her nose when she saw Eventide pacing back and forth by the front door. His shoulders were hunched, his hands were stuffed into his pockets, and his expression was twisted with intense dread and anxiety.
Sunset leaned forward as she pulled the car to a stop, squinting at the man curiously. She then turned to look at her passenger, only to let out an alarmed yelp. “Huh?! Fluttershy?!”
She didn’t wait for Sunset to speak again. Fluttershy pushed open the door of the car before the engine was even off, lifted her backpack onto her shoulder, and broke into a mad sprint for the house. She could barely hear Sunset stepping out of the car behind her, but she was too busy to care.
Eventide looked up upon hearing her feet pounding against the moist ground, and the faintest glimmer of hope appeared in his eyes. Caring little about the rain soaking him, he broke into a run to meet her halfway. They practically tackled each other, wrapping one another up in a tight hug, with Eventide burying his face into her shoulder.
Fluttershy went to speak, but the words became lodged in her throat when she felt the tremors ravaging Eventide’s body. She could feel his heart hammering against his ribs even through his vest, making her own heart plummet. It only got worse when she heard him sniffle, and the pit of dread in her stomach grew several times over.
She took a deep breath to calm her nerves, then leaned back to look into his eyes. They were bloodshot, putting his distress on clear display. “How is he?” she asked in barely even a whisper.
Eventide sniffled again, his face falling. “He’s… he’s still out cold. Apple Bloom’s t-trying to take care of him, b-but…” he tried to explain, his voice hoarse.
Fluttershy frowned, then looked past him at the front door of the house. The sight sent chills down her spine. It looked so much larger and more imposing than she was used to. She couldn’t help it; she withered and shrank in Eventide’s arms, a tiny whimper escaping her lips.
He held her closer, giving her a tight squeeze. “Come on,” he then whispered to her as gently as he could, releasing her from the embrace and turning towards his home. “He’s down in his room.”
Fluttershy fell silent and fell into step behind Eventide, the two of them moving at a brisk pace. As they passed through the front door, she spotted Buddha sitting by the basement door, her eyes trained on the knob. She briefly looked over at Fluttershy, and her tail swished back and forth a couple of times before falling still again.
She dutifully stepped aside as Eventide opened the door to the basement, her eyes boring into Fluttershy’s in a silent plea for her help. Finally, they came to the door that led into Beebee’s room. Eventide came to a stop in front of it, then turned to look into Fluttershy’s eyes again. “...Are you ready? It’s… not a pretty sight.”
She answered him by stepping forward and opening the door with a near-deafening creak. The room beyond was almost exactly the same as she remembered it. Beebee’s books were against the left wall, his toy-box, now sorely underused, rested in the right corner, and the overhead light put the sky-blue color scheme on full display. It looked pretty normal, and for a second, she found herself relaxing.
But then her eyes settled on the bed, and all that familiarity was replaced with horror.
Apple Bloom was crouched by the bedside, her hands pressing down on a bundle of towels that were steadily turning a sickening shade of red. The girls’ face was twisted with tension and fear, but her eyes displayed a clear and sharp focus on her task. Her eyes briefly flicked up to look at Fluttershy, before she returned her attention to the bundle below her.
Fluttershy paused in the door frame, one last vestige of dread forming in her gut. She swallowed heavily, took a deep breath, and moved further into the room.
The bundle under Apple Bloom’s hands suddenly lurched, and Beebee’s face became visible as he tried to sit up. His eyes were screwed shut, his teeth bared in an agonized grimace. A long, primal cry of pain snaked out of him, a sound more animalistic then any of them had ever heard from him.
Apple Bloom reacted quickly. She placed one of her hands on his forehead while keeping the other pressed on the towels. “Hey, easy, Bee,” she whispered to him in a soothing voice, slowly pushing him down onto the bed. “Easy, easy, relax. Try not to move…”
Beebee eventually relented, falling back down onto the blankets with a long, pitiful whimper.
It was awful. The sound of Beebee’s cry reverberated in her skull over and over again, and the image of his miserable face was burned into her mind’s eye like a branding iron. How could something so small, so precious, and so pure be allowed to suffer like that? How… why?
She took another step forward, then another, and suddenly she was sprinting for Beebee’s bedside. She dropped to her knees by Apple Bloom, her eyes wide and scanning the bug’s body. Most of it was covered in towels, blocking the wound from injury.
“What do we do?” Apple Bloom’s hushed voice drew her attention and gestured helplessly at Beebee. “A-Ah’ve never had to deal with somethin’ this bad before.”
Fluttershy took a deep breath and set her jaw. “Let me see,” she instructed firmly while reaching down and moving the towels back. Her stomach churned with horror and disgust at the sight, but she forced herself to look at it.
The chitin all along the side of his barrel had been shattered, and the sensitive tissue underneath was rent open in a hideous gash. It was gruesome and made Fluttershy want to puke. But at least now she knew what she was dealing with.
And that meant she knew how to treat it.
“Has it been disinfected yet?” she asked while unzipping her backpack and pulling out her own first aid kit.
“Yeah, it has,” Apple Bloom replied with a nod. A grimace formed on her face as she recalled the moment. “Ah’ve… never heard him scream like that before…”
Fluttershy did her best to not think about that; instead, she moved on to the next step. “Okay, then we need to close this up. Let me see…”
Right as she was about to set to work, a startled woman’s voice cut through the air from the entrance to the room. “What in the?!”
Fluttershy froze, her eyes widening and ice flooding her veins. Slowly, ever so slowly, she lifted her eyes to look through the door. Just as she feared, standing there with a shocked and bewildered look on her face, her eyes locked squarely on Beebee, was Sunset Shimmer.
It was out of the bag, now. Sunset knew. There was no hiding him, now.
Fluttershy sucked in a deep breath and forced herself to focus entirely on Beebee. “I… he… I just…” she tried to speak, to explain, but she just couldn’t. The words would not come, and the sight of Beebee’s brutalized body was only making it harder for her to focus on speaking.
Thankfully, Apple Bloom noticed her discomfort and stood up. “Sunset, Mister Oath, could you two go and wait upstairs, please? Fluttershy and Ah need to focus,” she instructed in as firm a voice as she could manage, making sure to look at each of them in the eyes as she did so.
Sunset stared at Apple Bloom, then Beebee, then Eventide. After a few more seconds of hesitation, she nodded and backed out of the room. “R-right… Okay… I’ll be waiting…” she muttered before turning. Before she left, though, she glanced back into the room at Fluttershy. “...We’re going to talk about this, okay?”
Sunset stood still for a moment longer before finally disappearing from view.
Eventide watched her go, his expression strained. He turned back to face the others. “...Can we trust her?” he asked, his hands wringing themselves over his chest.
“Yeah, Ah think so,” Apple Bloom stated before turning back to Fluttershy.
The animal lover didn’t say a word, choosing instead to block out the rest of the world and focus all of her efforts on the broken basement bug in front of her.
Eventide didn’t say another word. He gave a quiet nod of his head and silently retreated from the room, closing the door behind him.