• Published 26th Sep 2013
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Flying in Place - Atosen



Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash have been friends for a long time. Fluttershy has been in love with Rainbow Dash for a long time. Rainbow Dash is waiting.

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The Fight

Fluttershy beat her lanky wings as hard as she could. Her legs kicked out in the air erratically, trying to gain purchase on nothingness. She panted hard, but she knew she could do it. Rainbow wanted her to do it. She just had to believe in herself.

“Awww, yeah. This is awesome,” came the voice of the little blue filly from above. Fluttershy heard a small splash before the voice called out again, “Come on, ‘Shy! What’s taking so long?”

Dash leaped off the top of the cloudtop and buzzed down to Fluttershy, then grabbed her from behind and pushed her straight up. Fluttershy squeaked, but a moment later she felt spongy cloud beneath her hooves. She sighed, letting her wings sag. Looking around, they were on the very top of a huge pillar of cloud. Beside them was a big spring of rainbow, which flowed over the other edge and fell to Cloudsdale below. The rainbow falls made a deep rumble, but so far above the city there wasn’t much other noise. Even though Fluttershy knew she was so high up, it was kind of calming.

“There! You alright?” said Dash, flitting around in front of her.

Fluttershy took a few moments to catch her breath, then nodded.

“Oops.” Dash snorted and pointed at Fluttershy’s flank. “Now you’ve got a new cutie mark!”

Fluttershy gasped and spun around, very nearly tripping over her own hooves. “A … A rainbow horseshoe? Wh-what does it mean?”

“It means you’re gunna need a bath, doofus.” Dash waved a hoof, which was dripping with rainbow. The splashing sound earlier must have been her dipping it in the spring. “Come on! The thing I wanted to show you’s over the other side.”

The two of them trotted across the cloudtop, following the bank of the rainbow stream until it plunged over the precipice. Rainbow Dash cleared her throat and swept her foreleg out in an artistic arc. “Fluttershy, I give you: Cloudsdale.”

The whole city spread out below them. Pegasi bustled to and fro everywhere, on the roads and through the air, looking as tiny as fleas. In the distance they could see the towering pillars of temples and libraries and government buildings. They saw the enormous bulk of the Cloud Factory, with elegant, wispy cirruses being released from its tallest chimneys. Way down below, they saw houses, shops, and their very own flight school.

And overlaid in front of it all was a swirling mist in every hue and shade that emanated from the roaring rainbow fall.

Fluttershy gasped. “It’s beautiful.”

Dash grinned. She flipped onto her back, hovering with her hooves casually crossed behind her head. “Told ya. I knew it’d be up your current.”

“You find so many, um, awesome things, Rainbow.” Rainbow snorted when Fluttershy said ‘awesome’, and she felt herself blush. “I … I really like you, Rainbow.”

“Hah. That’s what all the fillies and colts say. Heartbreaker Dash, that’s me.”

“No, I – I’m sorry. I just …” Fluttershy lowered her head and looked away, her face falling behind the curtain of her mane. “Um, I meant it. I really like you.”

“Woah, you better not be getting mushy on me, ‘Shy.” Dash flew in front of Fluttershy, putting her hooves on her hips. “We got a reputation to uphold, you and me. We’ve got no room for mushiness.”

“I … Um, n-n-no. Of course not.”

Dash nodded, then crouched and spread her wings. “Hey, wanna see how far we can glide to from this high up? I bet you a million bits I can get to the other end of Cloudsdale!”



*



Rainbow tried going to Fluttershy’s cottage immediately. She heard crying inside. She pounded on the door until it was answered by one of the rabbits, who glared up at Rainbow and refused to let her in.

She yelled at the rabbit. It didn’t help. Eventually she relented and returned home.

Over the next few days, Rainbow barely saw Fluttershy. She caught a few glimpses of the yellow pegasus – once entering the spa with Rarity, once busy with the twins at Sugar Cube Corner – but never had a chance to actually speak to her. After talking her other friends about it, it became clear Fluttershy was avoiding her.

Fluttershy had been angry at Rainbow a few times before – that filly had an impressive stare, Dash would happily admit – but this was different. She never normally avoided her. In all the years they’d known each other, they had always turned to each other for company first.

Dash tried not to worry about it, but every time she tried to take a nap her thoughts went inexorably back to Fluttershy. She tried to keep active with stunt training instead, but she found that she spent more time looking around for the butter-yellow audience that was supposed to be there than she spent actually performing. She tried to distract herself with books, but after the first couple of days she ran out. Now that Twilight had moved to Canterlot, Rainbow didn’t know how to find more good books.

So with little else to do, Rainbow found herself hanging out with her friends for as long as they would put up with her.

A week after the party, Rainbow was in Carousel Boutique, standing patiently on a dais while Rarity fussed over yet another dress. “How does this one feel, darling?”

“Fine.”

Rarity gave a small sigh. “You say they all feel fine, Rainbow. Is it too heavy?”

“No, the weight’s fine.”

“Is it obstructing your wings?”

“Nah, the wings are fine.”

“Rainbow, dear, the purpose of the exercise is to understand how wearable my designs are. I cannot adjust them if you do not tell me what is wrong with them. You cannot tell me that all of these designs are fine. Are your hooves free enough?”

Dash obligingly shook one of her legs. “Mmm, yeah. The hooves are fine.”

Rarity took a deep breath to unleash some scathing retort or another, but before she could speak, heavy hooffalls and a familiar voice echoed from the front room. “Howdy, Rares! Got yer apples here!”

Rarity rolled her eyes. “Let me see, I wonder who that is. There are two ponies in all of Ponyville who don’t know how to knock, and one of them is standing in front of me. Who does that leave?” She removed the pins that were holding Dash’s dress together, finally freeing the pegasus to stretch, and magically opened the door to the front room. “Thank you, Applejack, you can put the box oh Celestia what are you doing?” she screeched.

Applejack paused midstride, holding a small crate of apples by the handle, and blinked at Rarity. “Whah am I ooim?” she echoed, speaking around the handle.

“Your hooves!” Rarity pointed. Applejack’s hooves were covered in mud, and she had tracked hoofprints onto Rarity’s otherwise spotless floor.

Applejack snorted and set the crate down on a table. She winked over Rarity’s shoulder at Rainbow Dash. “Sorry, Rares, but somepony’s gotta keep up the traditions ‘round here.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Ah thought y’all would like my hoofprints. Nice and familiar, y’know, with everything changing around us. First Twi’ and Spike moving away, and now Fluttershy.”

“Wait,” said Dash. “What?”

Rarity looked back at Dash, frowning. “Fluttershy is moving to Baltimare in a few weeks. There’s a vacancy for a vet there. Did you forget?”

Baltimare?”

“She told us each last week, Rainbow,” said Applejack. “Couple o’ days after … the … party …” The colour drained from the farmpony’s face. “But she ain’t been speaking to you. Ah’m sorry, Dash, Ah didn’t realise you didn’t know. I woulda –”

Rainbow never found out what Applejack would have done. By that point she was out the door and racing across Ponyville. “Fluttershy!” she shouted as the cottage came into view. “Fluttershy, you in there?” The front door cracked open to show a glaring rabbit. Rainbow dodged to the side and flew through a window instead. Her hooves thudded on carpet as she landed in –

Fluttershy’s bedroom. Oops. She hadn’t meant to intrude quite that much.

Fluttershy was curled up on her bed. She raised her head as Rainbow entered. For a moment the blue pegasus thought her friend had been crying, but no: Fluttershy’s eyes were dry and clear. Her body, though, was slumped and listless, with drooping wings and a heavy frown. “Rainbow?” she whispered.

Dash stared at Fluttershy. She flexed her wings a few times, waiting for good words to enter her head. “‘Shy, is it true? You’re leaving Ponyville?”

Fluttershy stammered something too quiet for Rainbow to hear. When Rainbow raised an eyebrow, Fluttershy nodded.

“Why?”

Fluttershy lowered her head to stare at the bedcovers, letting her mane fall in front of her face. “It’s, um … It’s a really good, um, job opportunity …”

“No, that’s not why,” said Rainbow, her tone harsher than she’d intended. “You’ve got a good job here. You take care of practically all the animals in Ponyville. Why would you leave?”

Fluttershy’s wings twitched and her ears flattened against her head. “Because … it hurts.”

“… Huh?”

The yellow pegasus raised her head again, fixing Rainbow with one baleful eye. “Because it hurts to be here,” she said, her voice rising in volume. “It hurts to, to, to see you every day, to be your friend, never knowing whether that’s all there is!”

Fluttershy rose to her hooves, standing above Dash on the bed with her wings raised in fury. Her eyes burned like the Sun itself, making Dash stumble backward and fall onto her hindquarters. “What’s keeping me here, Rainbow?” she demanded. “Answer me that! What do you think is keeping me here?!”

“Uhh …” Rainbow stammered, put on the spot. “There’s your animals, and all our friends … and me …”

“Exactly!” she roared. “You, Rainbow Dash! Don’t you realise what you mean to me?! Don’t you realise how much I need you?! Don’t you realise what you’re doing?! You …” Her anger suddenly dissipated and she slumped forward. She looked very small. She mumbled into the bed, “Rainbow Dash … How many years?”

“I – I don’t …”

“I once told you that I loved you, Rainbow Dash.”

The breath caught in Dash’s throat.

“I still do,” Fluttershy continued. “But you … You wouldn’t tell me how you felt. You just told me to wait. I – I thought I was waiting for a reason, Rainbow. I thought you – you weren’t sure or you had other priorities or, or something. But now you’re stalling with the Wonderbolts too, and that’s the one thing you’ve never been unsure or unfocused about. C-compared to them, what hope do I have?”

“‘Shy …”

“I j-just want to know, Rainbow. If … If you love me, that’s wonderful. If you don’t, then I can – I c-can cope. You’re a wonderful friend, and that would be enough. But … I’ve waited so many years to know. I don’t think I can do it anymore.”

Rainbow’s tongue was thick in her mouth. She tried to say something, to form her lips into shapes and make sounds come out, any sounds as long as they would make things better, but she didn’t know how.

She moved toward the bed, but as soon as she took a step Fluttershy spoke again. “I’m leaving at the end of the month.”

Dash stopped. She tried to speak again. Then she swore, kicked the air with her hind hooves and leaped through the window.