• Published 8th Apr 2014
  • 1,146 Views, 46 Comments

Where They Understand You - Loganberry



Rainbow Dash moved to Ponyville on her birthday. This is the story of how – and why – it happened

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6. And Help Us Find Our Way

Rainbow Dash hammered at the complaining timbers of the old cottage’s front door, bouncing up and down in the air impatiently. “Hey, hurry up, Flutters, open the door already! I know you’re shy and all, but come on, it’s me. And I have something really, totally amazing to tell you about!”

There was a quiet click, and the door opened. Fluttershy’s eyes grew wide as she saw her friend’s excitement. “Goodness, Rainbow Dash, I wasn’t expecting to see you back down here so soon. It can’t be a month since you last came to see me. And you do look happy. Why don’t you come inside, and we’ll have a lovely cup of tea and talk all about it.” She brushed a wisp of pink out of her eyes. “I think I still have a little carrot cake left over from yesterday, too.”

Fluttershy turned from the door and walked softly towards her kitchen. Rainbow rolled her eyes and bit down on her tongue; a relaxing hot drink and a quiet conversation wasn’t quite what she had envisaged at this point. Still, this was Ponyville; this was Fluttershy’s own house. Her place, her rules, Dash conceded reluctantly as she trotted inside to join the other pegasus. Rainbow closed the door behind her as gently as she could, though she had to shove it a little as the frame had warped out of shape.

The two ponies moved through to Fluttershy’s kitchen, which was simply and sparsely furnished. This in itself was not surprising to Rainbow Dash: her friend had never been a very materialistic mare. Even so, she sucked her teeth slightly as she saw the bareness of the room. The large wooden table’s varnish had worn away in places, and at least one of the chairs was held together with string and tape. A threadbare brown rug was the only obvious concession to comfort. The only ornamentation came from a few tiny flowers clustered around a similarly diminutive couch perched on the window sill.

Rainbow bit her lip. “Hey, Flutters, can I ask you something? About this house?”

Fluttershy looked up. “Of course.”

“It’s just that... well... I couldn’t help noticing... you know when you went to City Hall?”

“Yes?”

Dash drooped. She sighed, shook her head and grimaced. “Yeah... it’s not important. Don’t worry about it.”

“Rainbow,” said Fluttershy, her face suddenly serious, “if you’re worried about me coming to live here on my own, then that’s very thoughtful of you, but you really don’t need to be. Everypony’s so nice in this village, and they’ve all been really kind to me; one of the ponies who came around to say hello even invited me to a special welcome party she’d planned.”

Rainbow jerked her head back in surprise. “A party? You? No way! Did you get a secret job with the Marenistry of Sound or something? But wait... did you actually go to this party?”

Fluttershy giggled, a surprisingly fillyish splash of sound that echoed oddly from the crooked walls of the old building. “Oh, yes. The poor thing would have been so sad if I’d said no, and Pinkie Pie’s special talent is making ponies happy. She even made sure there weren’t many other ponies there, just my new friends Rarity and Applejack and the ponies Pinkie Pie rents her room from. So of course I went to her party. I just didn’t stay for very long.”

Rainbow hovered in silence, trying to match Fluttershy’s words with what she knew of her character. Occasionally she caught her friend’s eye, but each time something in her expression made Rainbow look away. When that happened, her glances took in more details of the old cottage. The mould growing in the cracks of the ceiling. The missing plaster and paintwork on the rough walls. The rainwater stains around the edges of the windowpanes.

“So, what’s with the couch?” said Rainbow suddenly, gesturing at the windowsill. “Who’s that thing for?”

A shadow passed over Fluttershy’s face for a second before she said, “Oh, that’s... well, it’s not set up for anyone right now, I-I guess. But sometimes, my little patients can get so sad if they’re not able to go outside anymore. They can rest here and have a lovely view out into the garden.”

“Oh... right,” said Rainbow, squirming a little in the air. “Uh... you know what? I could really go for some of that cake you mentioned.” She sat down at the table and rubbed her forehead with a hoof.

Fluttershy wandered off to an unadorned cupboard and produced a couple of simple blue teacups. These she placed on the table, before returning to the cupboard and rooting out a plain brown teapot with a chipped spout. This accomplished, Fluttershy took the kettle from the stove and changed the water before setting it back to boil. She sang softly to herself as she worked; Rainbow could catch only a few notes here and there, but she feasted on them like a desert explorer coming upon a solitary bunch of grapes amid the bleak and barren wastes.

Dash curled her lip and looked at her forehooves for a moment. Then she said, “You really should come visit me in Cloudsdale sometime, ‘Shy. Not that this place you have here isn’t, ahem, great and all, but it’s gotta be limiting for a pegasus to be stuck down on the ground all day. A real sky city like Cloudsdale is just so much more awes—”

“No, thank you, Rainbow,” said Fluttershy. “I’m quite all right here.” Her tone was soft and polite, but there was a hint of steel behind those great limpid eyes.

The conversation was interrupted by the merry whistling of the boiling kettle. Fluttershy filled the teapot and held it for a few moments, tipping it this way and that to warm it, then brought it over to the table. She set it down – there was no mat, Rainbow realised – and brought over the carrot cake, cutting her companion a large slice without waiting to be asked. She served herself a much smaller portion and filled each pony’s teacup, holding the teapot at an angle to allow for its dribbling.

Rainbow slurped her tea noisily, throwing it down her gullet in quick and eager gulps. Fluttershy took a demure sip from her own and cup gently stirred the drink with a spoon, wrapping her other forehoof in her mane and unselfconsciously stroking its soft, pink hairs. Rainbow set down her cup, hypnotised by her friend’s actions for a few moments. Without really looking, she reached over the table for the carrot cake, but her clumsy hoof missed its mark and swept the plate to the floor, where it broke cleanly in two. Cake crumbs skittered across the uneven floorboards.

“Oh wow, Flutters, I’m really sorry! I didn’t mean to, honestly, I guess I just wasn’t paying attention.”

There was a fractional pause before Fluttershy said, “Oh, please don’t worry about that, Rainbow Dash. I can always make more cake, and I’m sure I can mend the plate as well.”

Mend it? What do you mean, mend it? Why don’t you just go buy another one? You’re not seriously telling me there isn’t a china store anywhere in this town?”

“Oh no, it’s not that. I’d just really prefer to fix it up myself. It’s all right, really. I’ve done it before, plenty of times.” Rainbow thought she caught a catch in Fluttershy’s voice, though she couldn’t be certain. She shrugged it off. I guess she’s just trying not to be mad at me.

“Well, er, okay, I guess,” said Rainbow. She gave a sickly smile.

“But Rainbow,” said Fluttershy, her voice once more soft and warm, “didn’t you say there was something amazing you wanted to tell me about?”

The effect on Rainbow Dash was immediate: her head snapped up, her wings stood proud and her chest puffed out. Her face split by a bursting grin, she zipped in a tight figure-eight around the kitchen before coming to rest in front of Fluttershy and letting loose a whoop of delight.

“Guess which totally awesome pegasus has just been promoted?” she bragged. “And no guessing Notch Lapel!” she added with a wink. “He’s outta there. Moving to Fillydelphia, last I heard. But me? I’m in the big league now.”

Fluttershy’s smile was immediate and beautiful, and Rainbow bathed in its glow. “Oh, that’s wonderful, Dashie!” she said. “Are you still working at the Weather Factory?”

Dash cocked her head. “Kinda. The foremare took me aside and pretty much said I was wasted where I was, but there was a place open in the Weather Management Team, and that it was mine if I wanted it. A 100-bit raise and so long to those jerks on the factory floor. And you know the best part?” She tossed her mane back casually. “Total. Freedom. I just check in every morning to see if anything’s up, but otherwise it’s my call what needs doing. And you know something else that needs doing? Coming to visit my awesome friend in Ponyville way more often.”

“Um,” said Fluttershy, reddening slightly, “would you like another cup of tea?”

Rainbow looked around the room and shook her head. “Nah, that’s fine, ‘Shy. Not that it wasn’t great and all, but I don’t wanna get in your way.”

Fluttershy’s expression was confused. “Rainbow Dash,” she said, “I can tell there’s something bothering you. Won’t you tell me about it? Please?”

Dash bit her lip. “Fluttershy,” she began hesitantly, “could you use a little help with this place sometimes?” Seeing Fluttershy start to protest, she waved a hoof and went on hurriedly, “I didn’t mean it like that! You’re an amazing mare, ‘Shy, and y’know, honestly I couldn’t do some of the stuff you have to do all the time.”

“Why, thank you, Rainbow.” Fluttershy blushed again and looked at the floor.

Dash gabbled on. “But I mean, well, I have this new job now and there really isn’t much I’m doing with all the extra bits except stuffing them in the bank. And here you are, living in a place that’s – no offence – pretty much falling apart. So, I was wondering, maybe if I gave that extra money I’m gonna be getting to you, or some of it anyway, you’d maybe be able to fix up this place a little and...”

Rainbow stopped as she realised how quiet it had become in the kitchen. Fluttershy was standing beside her, trembling in a way she had never seen before, her breathing far too calm and her eyes set.

“Rainbow Dash,” said Fluttershy, her voice low yet every word as clear as day, “I told you I was okay, and I am okay. Please don’t keep pushing me like that; it’s...” Her eyes dropped for a moment. “Well, it’s not really very kind. It was very nice of you to come see me, and I really am happy for you getting that promotion, but I have a lot to do right now.” She walked over to the front door and pulled it open. “Thank you for the visit.”

It took a few seconds for Fluttershy’s words to sink in. Rainbow opened her mouth a couple of times, but no sound emerged. She flew out of the door and up into the cloud-spotted sky. As she rose, she heard the soft click of a latch behind her. It sounded to Rainbow Dash like the slamming shut of a tomb.

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