Bifrost

by Leaf Blade


03. A Little Kindness

Rarity’s eyes darted at every single passing pony, even as her head was held high.

While she was certain that—

Well, fairly certain—

Moderately cert—

She hoped.

She hoped that none of them would clock her as trans, the worry gripped her heart at all times when she trotted through the Dodge City streets all by her lonesome.

Put it out of your mind, Rarity, she thought to herself as she centered her eyes on the path in front of her, It’s just paranoia. You’ll be okay.

The one comfort that allowed Rarity’s anxiety to ease—somewhat— was that everyone in Dodge City was as dirt broke and miserable as she was, and just trying to make their own way; so long as you didn’t get in said way, most ponies wouldn’t give you much trouble.

At least, that was the hope that she clung to for fear of becoming yet another trans woman horror story, of which she’d heard far too many.

Still though, with her mane perfectly coiffed and a dashing teal scarf billowing behind her in the soft breeze, Rarity looked hot and felt confident.

At least, confident enough.

The walk from Rarity’s apartment to the public library wasn’t long, and while it felt infinitely stretched by the constant war being waged with her own brain, she was there before she knew it, and any thoughts she had been battling with were brought to a screeching halt at the scene that greeted her in the courtyard in front of the library.

A slender, almost skeletal thin, yellow pegasus, with a waterfall of pink hair falling across her shoulders that acted as a picturesque backdrop for the affection and joy on the pretty mare’s face as she was lying stomach on the ground playing with a stray squirrel.

“My apologies for keeping you waiting, sweetheart,” Rarity kept her voice quiet and pleasant so as not to startle the easily frightened mare, or her little furry friend. “Have you been here long?”

“Not at all,” Fluttershy said with a smile, a single sharp fang poking out her upper lip in a most adorable fashion. “I’m just glad to see you.” Fluttershy turned her head away from Rarity to smile at the fleeing squirrel, waving goodbye as it scurried off back home.

“Likewise!” Rarity gently took the young lady’s forehoof and gave it a kiss, and the amused giggling that Fluttershy responded with was music to Rarity’s ears.

Even as Rarity felt herself drowning in her own life, her one constant reminder to keep swimming came in the form of her deeply valued friendships with Twilight and Fluttershy. Rarity was always quick to muse that said friendships were probably the only things in her life that had value.

“Did you oversleep?” Fluttershy asked, hopping up onto a nearby short brick wall and perching atop it. “You’re usually so punctual.”

“Ah, yes, I apologize,” Rarity awkwardly brushed back a curl of her mane. “I’ve been sleeping later and later these days it seems.”

“Something the matter?” Fluttershy leaned toward Rarity, practically closing in nose to nose, and Rarity felt a painful throb in her chest at the prospect of burdening her friend with her misery.

Instead of the ugly truth, Rarity simply gave a half-hearted frown and an apathetic shrug, though Fluttershy’s concerned glower only deepened at this.

Rarity took a deep breath of the crisp air and gathered her thoughts; if anyone deserved to hear her honest thoughts, it was Fluttershy, but Rarity had to weigh the catharsis of speaking her mind against the guilt of dropping her burden on Fluttershy.

And that was before even considering the knowledge that Fluttershy had no means to genuinely help Rarity, even if she knew what was going on with her. But would Fluttershy be offended if Rarity kept her thoughts from her? Rarity knew that she would be rather incensed were the positions reversed—

If only to make the voices in her mind shut up, Rarity found herself speaking—or rather, blurting out a confession.

“I have a lot weighing on my mind. That is all.”

Some confession.

But how could she tell Fluttershy about how her inability to get work was wreaking havoc on her anxiety? Or about how her inability to even gain disability payments made her feel useless, what with Twilight covering most of their rent with her own disability? Oh, or what about how she had thought that leaving her family behind would allow her to break free of the chains of misery that bound her but she hadn’t realized until she had left them that those chains had smothered her half to death already?!

The weight on Rarity’s mind, when she really boiled it down, was simple. Rarity wanted nothing more than to simply stop living. And no one needed to be cursed with that knowledge but her.

“I suppose it all just gets a little draining,” Rarity said with a weak chuckle that hid the resounding headache she was getting as her brain felt like it was trying to literally tear itself apart.

“I understand,” Fluttershy whispered with a sympathetic smile and leaned back onto her perch, and both the kind intent and utter falseness of her statement made Rarity smile in turn.

“So anyhow,” Rarity cleared her throat, eager to get the conversation back to the topic at hoof, “you were requiring my assistance on some matter?”

Fluttershy hopped off the brick wall and trotted toward the library, motioning for Rarity to follow her, which she was all too happy to do if only to get out of this blasted cold. A dashing scarf and illustrious coat of silvery fur could only do so much.

The inside of the humble library was as drab and tasteless as a bowl of unseasoned beans; ugly moss green carpeting clashing hideously with the decrepit bookshelves whose shades of brown varied only in the amount of visible decay on them, all wrapped up with absolutely gaudy pale-yellow wallpaper.

Rarity wondered how poor Twilight managed to even stomach such a dreadful place.

There were but a scant few patrons walking about or sitting in chairs, but Rarity’s eyes instantly locked onto one among them who stood out like a shining beacon.

Inside a small seating area in the exact center of the library, sitting on an old wooden chair barely padded with a thin dark green cushion, was a blue pegasus reading a book in one hoof while her other foreleg dangled limply onto the ground, and her long mane of rainbow hair that clashed miserably with her dirt-brown bomber jacket struck Rarity like the tricolored bolt of lightning that decorated the pegasus’ flank.

The crawling in Rarity’s stomach was accompanied by an appropriately disgusted sneer at the familiar woman, which was only made worse when an aside glance to Fluttershy’s tepid smile clued Rarity in that she was the reason Fluttershy wanted Rarity’s help to begin with.

Fluttershy was far too kind for this world, and nopony deserved her kindness less than that pony.

“You know her, don’t you?” Fluttershy asked meekly. “Didn’t you two used to be friends?”

Rarity shot Fluttershy a poisonous glare but upon seeing the color drain from her friend’s face, she sighed her anger away and smiled softly as she put her hoof on Fluttershy’s cheek.

Oh Fluttershy, if only you knew.

Fluttershy was Rarity’s number one confidant, so she knew about Rarity’s history with Rainbow Dash— vaguely. It was not a period of the unicorn’s life that she recalled with any fondness, and anecdotes from that time—especially regarding the rainbow-haired mare—could only be choked out of her in fleeting moments of incredible stress, apathy, or nostalgia.

“Why?”

That was the single most important question that Rarity needed to ask, and the bitter growl she asked it in was just loud enough to get a shush from a nearby patron.

“Why her, Fluttershy?” Rarity hissed.

“Everypony deserves a little kindness,” Fluttershy said with a timid smile, and Rarity frowned even deeper as she refused to be charmed by the cute little fang poking out of Fluttershy’s mouth, “and I don’t think she has anyone to show it to her. I see her around sometimes on my daily commute, and nopony ever looks at her or gives her a smile. I have you, you have me and your friend Twilight, but I don’t know if Rainbow has… anyone.”

Rarity looked back at the rainbow-haired barbarian with her hind legs resting on the arm of the chair, idly flipping pages through her books as her wings twitched awkwardly while they were splayed out behind her.

Rarity looked back at naïve, innocent Fluttershy, whose teal eyes were bright and full of hope somehow.

“People don’t change, Fluttershy,” Rarity’s voice, as cold as rusted iron, caused Fluttershy’s ears to clamp down on her head. “Hardship and failure shape them into the people they are, and they don’t change once they’ve been set.”

Fluttershy stared blankly for a moment, but a very mischievous little grin crept onto her face and took Rarity by surprise.

“Then you know you can’t stop me,” Fluttershy cheeks were tinted pink as she stuck her tongue out to tease Rarity, “I guess I have to show her kindness because it’s just in my nature.”

Rarity let out an ugly snort that echoed through the quiet library, attracting the other patrons’ ire and burning Rarity’s cheeks.

“I suppose I can’t argue with that,” Rarity hung her head in embarrassed defeat.

“Besides, trans solidarity, right?” Fluttershy said with a pained smile, and her words tugged at Rarity’s heart and forced her to look at Rainbow again. “If we don’t look out for each other, who else is going to?”

“I can’t argue that either,” Rarity’s words were calm and her tone measured, careful not to betray the bitterness with which they were spoken. You really had to hit me right where I live, didn’t you, Fluttershy?

Memories of Rainbow Dash made Rarity nothing short of violently ill, yet there was an infuriatingly persistent part of her brain that simply could not give up on her because of the identity that they shared.

“I’ll be your self-esteem team here,” Rarity said shortly, “but I’m afraid that’s all I can offer.”

“That’s all I need,” Fluttershy nodded and bit her lip as she looked over at Rainbow. “The fair’s in town, and I want to ask her to go with me tonight. It’ll be a nice, pressure free place for us to maybe learn a little bit about each other.”

Fluttershy’s ears flicked up and she looked at Rarity with concerned eyes and a slight pout. Rarity simply rolled her own eyes and sighed quietly but theatrically.

“Yes, I’ll be there too,” she said grudgingly. Fluttershy squealed in delight, tapping her hooves on the carpet before embracing Rarity in a hug, which Rarity happily reciprocated after with some mock reluctance. “Now go ask her before I change my mind.”

“Wish me luck,” Fluttershy squeaked as she took a couple of shaky steps toward the center of the library.

“Good luck, sweetheart,” Rarity waved at Fluttershy with a strained smile and waited for her to turn her full attention to Rainbow before sighing in disgust.

I sincerely hope that you have better luck than I had.