by Leaf Blade

04. Hard Sell

Rainbow Dash’s hoof twitched as it rested uncomfortably over the arm of a creaky old wooden chair, Rainbow’s wings splayed in either direction as she laid half falling off the chair, reading the same Daring-Do book for the bajillionth time.

She’d never really been bothered in the library before, something about almost always having blood on her face or hooves must’ve made her seem ‘unapproachable’.

Today was different though. Today, Rainbow’s miserable lounging was disrupted by a faint squeak of a voice, almost like a mouse had suddenly got the ability to talk.

“E-excuse me?” the voice said.

Rainbow didn’t look up from her book. No one ever bothered her before, so the voice must’ve been talking to somepony else.

“Ex… excuse me? R-Rainbow D-Dash?”

Okay, now Rainbow was confused.

She tossed the book onto the nearby table, watching anxiously as the thing nearly slid right onto the ground, and she sat up straight—well, straight enough— and found herself peering just over the head of a graceful-looking yellow pegasus with really cute pink hair that just went on for days.

The mare was standing in front of the chair’s arm and looking at Rainbow through the corner of a single uncovered eye, the other eye shielded by a waterfall of pink hair as she hung her head down anxiously.

“Yeah?” Rainbow cocked her head, confused more than anything by the sudden interruption. “What’s up?”

“I was wondering if, um, if you wouldn’t mind, if it’d be okay with you that is, if um—”

The girl trailed off, and she started breathing heavy like she was about to have a panic attack. Rainbow sucked air through gritted teeth but tried not to make it too obvious just how much secondhand embarrassment she was feeling.

Poor girl just stood there shaking like a leaf, stammering and kicking shyly at the ground, trying to come up with anything that resembled a sentence, but no luck.

Rainbow tried to think of something to say or do to help, or at least get her to calm down for pony’s sake, but she didn’t have the foggiest clue who this girl was or what she wanted, so Rainbow was kinda at a loss.

Finally the awkward pony stamped her hooves loudly on the thinly carpeted wood floor and said for the whole library to hear, “Will you go to the fair with me?!”

She immediately covered her mouth with her wings and her entire face turned red, tears welling up in her eyes as she looked around at all the people who were giving her really pointed stares.

Rainbow paused for a sec, just to take in the total absurdity of her situation, but when she saw the trembling girl’s tears start falling down her cheeks, she flashed a sly grin. “Well I can’t really turn you down after that, can I?”

“Y-you don’t, if you don’t— uh, or rather, you can’t, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to, I mean—”

“Bup!” Rainbow jumped onto the arm of the chair and put her hoof on the girl’s muzzle before she could start spiraling again. “It’s no biggie. Not like I have any plans. So yeah, I’ll go to the carnival with youuuuu…”

Rainbow’s hoof went limp as she shot a curious glance at her new acquaintance. When the timid girl did nothing, Rainbow moved her hoof in an expectant half circle, but the girl just stared blankly, causing Rainbow to sigh and roll her eyes.

“What’s your name?”

“Oh!” the girl’s cheeks turned bright red and her eyes widened like they were staring down an oncoming train. “Um, it’s F-Fluttershy.”

“Well F-Fluttershy,” Rainbow said with a chuckle and playfully nudged Fluttershy’s chest, “I’ll meet you there at eight. Sound good?”

Fluttershy nodded, and even with her face still half covered by her wings, her bright red cheeks were as plain to see as the relief washing over her smile.

“That said,” Rainbow cleared her throat, tapping her hoof against her chest, “why would you wanna ask me to the fair anyway? You not got a lot of friends or something? Desperation maybe?”

“W-what?” F-Fluttershy yelped, taking a step back and whitening up like a ghost, or one of those cheap ghost sheet costumes. “N-no, I honestly just wanted to—um, I wanted… to…”

She trailed off again, and you’d swear the ugly carpet was the most interesting thing she’d ever seen the way she was staring at it. Rainbow rolled her eyes and almost felt like she should give the girl a tap on the noggin to grab her attention back.

“Ahem,” Rainbow said flatly instead, and that did the trick as F-Fluttershy sprung up stiff as a board, eyes locked with Rainbow like she was prey in a hunter’s scope.

“U-um, the truth is—” Fluttershy closed her eyes and let out a slow breath, the color washing back into her face before opening her eyes again. “The truth is, you remind me of somepony I used to know. Somepony I miss.”

“Déjà vu, huh?” Rainbow nodded, a withered chuckle escaping her lips. “I feel that.” In fact, Fluttershy’s feelings were mutual; she reminded Rainbow of someone she used to know, someone she really looked up to.

“I wanted to ask you as a way to respect their memory,” Fluttershy said grimly, slowly shaking her head back and forth, “I didn’t do right by them, so maybe this is my way of trying to apologize to them? I don’t exactly know, but I do know… that you seem like somepony that I would like to know better… if that’s okay with you.”

Rainbow grinned ear to ear, baring glistening fangs, and if she wasn’t conscious of the quiet library setting, she would’ve busted out laughing.

“That’s a hard sell, Fluttershy,” Rainbow said gleefully. “You seem like somepony worth knowing too!”

“R-really?” Fluttershy bit down on the edge of her hoof, her wings twitching behind her and Rainbow couldn’t help but think she looked pretty cute.

“Yeah,” Rainbow nodded to a beat only she could hear, “so I’ll meet you there around eight, just try and chillax until then, okay?”

“Okay,” Fluttershy bowed her head quickly, pink hair flying every which way. “Thank you, Rainbow Dash!”

Rainbow gave her one last grin before the girl bounced, Rainbow happy to get back to her book in peace.

She felt really bad for Fluttershy; she knew what it was like to be that nervous, and she wondered if it was even a good idea to go with her to the carnival or fair or whatever. Rainbow had no idea who she was or what her deal was—though Rainbow couldn’t help but feel they had met somewhere before.

That said, the one Rainbow felt really concerned for was Fluttershy herself. Her life wasn’t exactly gonna get improved by having Rainbow in it.

But it didn’t matter now. Rainbow was a lot of things, most of them bad, but she stuck to her word at least.

Who knows, Rainbow thought as she settled back into her book, maybe this’ll be a good thing for the both of us?