Fluttershy was lying in the grass near her cottage with a small group of her critter friends when she saw the telltale turquoise tails streaming toward her in the sky. Following her gaze, the animals also watched as Gearhead came angling in. As he approached Ponyville airspace, still flying at an altitude that bordered on where normal Pegasi could not reach, the Earth Pony slowly decelerated. In the process of doing so, Gearhead shed the kinetic energy that came with having breached the magi-sonic barrier multiple times. The boom shells that developed and wrapped around him left him then, diffusing in the sky ahead of his flight path as they continued on and lost their strength. On the ground, their passing would barely ruffle a feather, Gearhead was such a conscientious flyer.
At first Gearhead was obviously heading toward his shop, which he had built next to the river that served as a border with the Everfree Forest. He used that proximity to easily mine resources from the forest for use in building his gadgets, but unlike classic mining and stripping techniques, Gearhead had his much more eco-friendly Read and Gathering techniques: he found what he needed first, and used the second technique to draw those resources to him with minimal disturbance to the ground where those minerals were buried. Watching him work often gave Fluttershy renewed appreciation for his geomancy.
Fluttershy stared when the flight-path that the particle trail described curved directly toward her, but then the Earth Pony turned back toward his original objective, and she could not help feeling disappointed. The Pegasus wondered if Gearhead still felt awkward because of their earlier break-up, and decided to give it some time, thinking to maybe go and ask.
As it turned out, she did not have to trouble herself, because Gearhead came walking to the cottage on his own. Fluttershy smiled to himself, since it seemed like Gearhead had wanted to leave his vaunted Alicorn Engine behind when he came to see her. He had done that sometimes before, too, but he was usually quick to rely on it for the slightest of challenges. When he came closer, Fluttershy could see that the stallion's mane was still a little wet, and she chuckled a little: had he really taken a quick shower just for her sake?
"Good afternoon, Fluttershy. May I join you?"
"Certainly, sir," Fluttershy said, giggling softly. She watched the stallion as he walked into the small circle of animals, and they made room for him to lie down across from the mare. She had realized it before, but by taking a little here and there, and by avoiding destroying homes when he could, Gearhead had earned a lot of respect from the animals who lived in the area, including those who made the Everfree their home.
Such things flew in the face of all the unfortunate things that Fluttershy knew had happened earlier in Gearhead's life: the inability to control his abilities and the bullying he received as a result were similar to what Fluttershy had experienced as a filly. In retrospect, it was funny how similar their pasts were, at least in concept. But where Fluttershy had stayed mostly land-bound and befriended the fauna that found her, Gearhead had struck out on his own, leaving childhood friends behind and finding more here in Ponyville.
Friends who had helped him become more open. Recently Gearhead had appeared to be happier as well, but Fluttershy could tell that there was still something weighing him down when she looked more closely into his green eyes, or watched for the slight downturn at one corner of his mouth whenever he started to brood. Fluttershy could not help feeling that such an appearance did not suit this friend with the rust-red mane, interspersed as it was with three bright turquoise streaks, an apparent gift from each of his improved Alicorn Engines alongside the brightening of his eye colour.
"What is it?"
Gearhead looked up. "I do not want to burden you with my problems," he said.
"Now, you know better than that. At least let me listen. Otherwise, I'll just keep asking," Fluttershy put a determined expression on her face, and Gearhead sighed.
"Fine, I will admit it: I miss Snowbelle."
"Of course you do: she's your daughter," Ice dragon or not, Fluttershy thought. "You love her, and taking her to learn from her own kind was a hard decision. But you and I both know that it was the right decision."
"I can sense her just fine through our psychic bond, yet I cannot help missing her anyway."
"Can you get a sense for how well she's doing?"
"She is content and not in any danger. Beyond that I cannot tell, and we agreed not to pry into one another's thoughts."
Smiling reassuringly, Fluttershy put a hoof over one of Gearhead's own. "You're worried the dragons will teach her something you think she shouldn't learn. That she won't be your daughter when you go to pick her up."
"Of course I cannot help worrying about the possibility, even though I cannot change it, nor can I go and interrupt her training. I have to trust her."
"She is smart enough to choose what is most right for her,"
"Even when she tries to intimidate you into action?"
"That was my fault, for not seeing beyond to the truth. I'm trying to be better than that. I'm not trying to replace her mother, never that. But everyone needs some of the right kind of affection. Even you." Fluttershy saw Gearhead narrow his eyes fractionally when she mentioned Snowbelle's mother, but she could not have avoided bringing her up. Clearly, Gearhead still bore some anger toward Sombra for trapping her in the deep caverns of Canterlot Mountain, and toward Chrysalis for killing her. Despite having avenged the dragon, it seemed like Gearhead would continued to carry that anger with him.
But at least Fluttershy and the rest of their friends could be there to help him carry it. She moved closer to wrap Gearhead into a light hug, and they stayed that way for several moments. When Gearhead finally pulled away enough to look into Fluttershy's face, he still looked concerned, but less so than before.
"Is it the Black Sheep?" Gearhead would continue to carry this mark as long as he could not sow, grow, or harvest any useful plants, and unfortunately he lacked any Earth Pony magic with which to do that. As long as he was the Black Sheep, he could not be considered as a possible Successor, and because his father, the Patriarch Redwood, was vocally supporting him against his oldest brother, Vines, Redwood was taking a lot of heat. He ran the risk of being completely discredited if Gearhead did not succeed as a farmer, as though what he did as a gadgeteer and Artificer did not matter. Not only that, but Gearhead was afraid that the stigma attached to being 'Black Sheep' would extend to the mare he married and any foals they had together, and he wanted to avoid bringing them into that.
"Do you think I should be dating?"
"If it makes you happier, then what harm can it be?"
"I have hurt others because I have tried,"
"I know, and so have I," Fluttershy smiled sadly. Gearhead immediately put a hoof over hers in a mirror gesture to what she had done earlier. "Everyone deserved some happiness," she said.
"Well, there seem to be many places where you are happy," Gearhead said.
"Do you want to accompany me to one of them?" Fluttershy said, standing up.
"Are you sure you want to leave your friends?" Gearhead asked. They chittered or growled at Fluttershy.
"They say to have fun," Fluttershy smiled. "Are you up for a flight?" She asked, spreading her wings. She only got to 'up' before Gearhead wrapped his tail around his dagger's hilt and started his incantation:
"Quattuor Magnae Spiritus, ventus transmutare alas." Silvery wind swirled into being at his sides, quickly altering shape until they became a pair of wings, although they did not fully materialize. Fluttershy lifted off, and headed directly toward the Everfree Forest. She did not have to check to ensure Gearhead was following her, because she felt the slight presence of his Wind Wings, even before he drew even with her.
Together, Fluttershy and Gearhead soared over the trees, avoiding whatever threats lurked below, until they came to the clearing that was open to the sky, but sheltered by the trees gathered at its edges. The who field within was covered with flowers of ever hue and scent, but the most spectacular flower was the one at the center. It was larger than the rest, with petals shaped like a butterfly in pink, with green and blue chasers throughout. Because of this flower, Fluttershy had decided to call this place the Butterfly Glade, and until they had broken up over the misunderstandings that Fluttershy took from Iron Will's seminar, she and Gearhead had come here often, together with Snowbelle, just to enjoy the flowers.
Fluttershy flew a slow spiral around the glade, dipping her nose to smell each flower over which she flew. Gearhead followed her, but not so closely that his wings would disturb the flowers or the critters living here. When they came to the flower at the center of the glade, Fluttershy alighted gently beside it, and gestured with a hoof for Gearhead to come join her. He hovered a couple meters away, and when the flower's stalk started to sway, he dismissed his wings to drop lightly the rest of the way to the ground. For a moment Fluttershy thought she would have to try to catch him, but the sly magic-user called the slightest wind back to coalesce under his hooves and cushion the rest of his fall.
Regardless, there was so little space in the Glade for them to stand without disturbing the flowers, and so stallion and mare sat side-by-side. The multitude of colours, shapes, and scents washed over them in the slightest of breezes. They were still there when the sun began to set and the moon began to rise.