• Published 8th Apr 2014
  • 1,149 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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7. Out to the Undiscovered Ends

Rainbow Dash’s stomach was turning somersaults as she knocked at the cottage door. The wood had deteriorated further in the weeks since she had last been here, and she only narrowly avoided a nasty splinter. At first, there was silence from inside, which made Rainbow feel bad. When she heard Fluttershy’s soft hoofsteps approaching, she felt much worse.

The door opened.

“Dashie!” Rainbow didn’t know what she had been expecting, but it wasn’t this. Fluttershy pulled Rainbow inside and kicked the door closed with a hind leg, before wrapping her wings around her friend in a warm hug. “Oh, Dashie! I’ve missed you so much. I was so worried I’d gotten everything wrong and I just didn’t know what to do.”

“Wait, what?” said Rainbow, blinking. “You worried you’d gotten everything wrong?”

Fluttershy let go of Dash and sighed, her eyes downcast. “When you were here before, and I made you feel bad. I felt awful about that, and I really wanted to apologise—but when you didn’t come back, I thought I’d made you mad. I waited and waited and you didn’t come, and I thought it would be too late. I thought—”

“Too late? You thought I didn’t want to be your friend any more?” Rainbow’s mouth dropped open and she stared at the other pegasus.

Fluttershy shook her head rapidly and shuddered, screwing up her eyes as though to put the thought out of her mind. “No!” she squeaked. “Of course not! It wasn’t that. It was that, well, I really wanted to talk to you about something. I know I could have come see you in Cloudsdale, but I really had to care for an orphaned mouse. The poor thing was shivering with cold when I found him in the garden.”

Rainbow Dash dabbed the corner of her eye with a hoof, she hoped surreptitiously, and declared, “Well, I’m here now!” spreading her wings expansively. “But what’s up, ‘Shy? You could have just sent me a letter.”

Fluttershy looked flustered and said, “I, um, well, that’s the problem, really. I have something I really need to give you—give you in pony, I mean. But I was getting worried you wouldn’t be back for a long time after the mailmare told me that you had some major weather event coming up in Cloudsdale.”

“Yeah,” said Rainbow, nodding. “Though it’s not exactly for Cloudsdale. We got a big order in from Canterlot. Big order; they want a whole bunch of rainbows for somepony’s cute-ceañera next month. Won’t tell us whose it is, but I guess it’s some big-shot unicorn at the Castle or something. So we’ll be working double time on that until it’s all done and dusted.” She sighed. “And I’m lead mare on this job. Which means I have to be there all the time; I haven’t been able to try out my Wonderbolts routine for three weeks now.”

“Oh, you poor thing. Why don’t you sit down? Then we’ll have a nice cup of tea and you can tell me all about it.” She trotted lightly to the stove without waiting for an answer.

Rainbow hesitated before taking a chair, surreptitiously prodding it with a hoof as she hovered above it to make sure the cracked wood would take her weight. She flicked her mane out of her eyes and settled into her seat.

“Sure,” she said. “Not that there’s a lot to tell. It’s just... I can’t get any time to myself, you know? It’s all work, work work. I mean, yes, it’s nice to have a whole load of weather pegasi looking up to me and trusting the calls I make – but sometimes I really miss the old days in the Factory.”

“You miss your old co-workers?”

“Heh. No. Not those lunkheads. What I miss is being able to get away from them. Go have a nap or... or...” Rainbow waved a hoof, unable to find the right word.

There was quiet for a while, then the kettle sang and Fluttershy prepared the tea. When the pot was ready, she filled the two ponies’ cups. Rainbow was actually slightly surprised that the liquid didn’t leak out of the crazed, chipped china containers. Still, the tea was good. Very good. Rainbow wondered idly where Fluttershy had learned to prepare it so perfectly. She was starting to think she might actually ask for some tips when something occurred to her.

“Hey, ‘Shy,” she said.

“Yes?”

“You said you wanted to give me something?”

“Oh. Yes.”

Rainbow leaned forward and waggled her eyebrows. “Aaand?”

Fluttershy blushed. A moment later, Rainbow felt warmth in her own cheeks. The room suddenly felt uncomfortably hot; Rainbow was relieved when Fluttershy spoke again.

“Well, I knew your birthday wasn’t very far away, and I really wanted to give you a present. But then you didn’t come to visit all that time, and I started to get worried. And with how busy you’re going to be over the next few days, I don’t know whether I’ll see you again before then – so I think I’d better give you the gift now.”

“Okay, I guess that makes sense. Though... how’d’ya know my birthday was coming up, anyway?”

“Um, because I know you?”

Rainbow gave a mirthless chuckle. “Oh, yeah. Right. So, uh, what is it?”

Instead of answering her friend, Fluttershy glided out of the room and disappeared upstairs. Rainbow could hear her muttering as she rummaged through drawers in her bedroom, though she couldn’t make out the words. Dash looked around the kitchen, noting without surprise that the cracks in the ceiling had lengthened a little more; that the damp patches on the ceiling had spread a little further.

After a little while, Fluttershy reappeared, a slight sheen of sweat visible on her forehead. She was holding a tubular parcel about a foot long, simply wrapped in cyan paper and tied with a bow of ribbon in rainbow stripes. She didn’t offer it to Rainbow, however, instead pointing to the front door and saying, “Come on, I think we should go outside for this.”

“Huh? Why?”

“Um, because it’s a lovely evening?”

Rainbow gave Fluttershy a sideways look, but shrugged and said, “Well, I guess that’s true at least. Let’s get moving, then.”

The two pegasi landed on the far side of the lawn, close to the chicken coop. Fluttershy stood on the western edge of the grass, her back to the sun, her soft shadow just clipping one of Rainbow’s forehooves. A chicken clucked briefly and Fluttershy paused to listen, ears pricked, brow creased, eyes wide and attentive. She never really stops, mused Rainbow.

The clucking ceased and Fluttershy relaxed. She turned her attention back to Rainbow, holding out the package for the other pony to take. “Happy Birthday, Dashie.”

Rainbow Dash accepted the parcel, if a little hesitantly. She ran a hoof across the smooth wrapping, then raised it to her ear and shook it, prompting a half-stifled giggle from Fluttershy.

“What? Don’t tell me you never do that!” She shook the parcel again. “Okay, I give up. What’s so special about this thing that we have to come out here, anyway?”

“Oh, I really can’t tell you that before you open the package, Rainbow Dash,” said Fluttershy, smiling slightly. “It’s a surprise gift, after all; you’ll need to read it for yourself.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” Rainbow’s face crinkled into a frown. “‘Read’? You’re giving me a book for my birthday? Flutters, I’ve told you before, I do not do reading. I’m an all-action mare, not some fusty library nerd. So yeah, nice thought, thanks a lot for the gift and all, but... maybe you should give this to somepony else?”

Fluttershy’s voice was barely above a whisper, but it was firm and strong.

“No. It’s for you. And it’s not a book; it’s a scroll. Please, Rainbow, at least open it first.”

Dash relented rather gracelessly. “Oh, all right, I’ll open it. But I’m only doing this because it’s a gift from you, Fluttershy. I’m not gonna be guilt-tripped into becoming some kind of desk-jockey egghead. I’m still the future captain of the Wonderbolts; my cutie mark isn’t a pile of dusty old library books, you know.” She gripped the bow carefully in her teeth and began to untie it.

Fluttershy brushed her mane out of her face and looked at the ground, nodding to a tiny shrew that scurried past. A songbird called his challenge from atop a rose-bush, from somewhere in the middle distance a train whistle sounded its mournful note and there was the ever-changing yet constant whoosh of the wind soughing in the unnatural treetops of the Everfree Forest. A tiny cumulus cloud scudded just above the line of the cottage roof, momentarily dimming the shadows still inching their way along the well-nibbled grass. Otherwise, the sky was clear and still.

Until—

“Flu-Fluttershy?” Rainbow’s voice had entirely lost its brashness and impatience. “’Shy, is this seriously what it looks like? It’s not some weird prank? You bought the...? Is the Cloud House...?” She brought a hoof hesitantly to her chest.

Fluttershy looked up, and answered with her eyes. Rainbow steadied herself for a moment, letting the box fall and clutching the precious paper tightly between her forehooves. Her vision was growing blurry as her eyes began to fill.

Rainbow Dash still didn’t like crying. It was still silly and fillyish. But there was another way. She laughed, loud and long, the sound bouncing off the wall of the cottage and echoing through the garden. Eventually, she collected herself and looked straight at Fluttershy.

Fluttershy looked straight back.

“But how?” asked Rainbow Dash at length. “How the hay did you...?”

“My dad never gave me a home,” said Fluttershy. “Not a real one, at least. But he can give you a home.”

Rainbow screwed up her face in confusion, then all at once her eyes were wide and staring and her jaw had dropped open. “No. No, you can’t have. No way.”

Fluttershy rolled her eyes, an action so unexpected that Rainbow almost dropped the deed scroll. “Yes, Rainbow. I can have. And I did.”

“But the Cloud House was so—”

“Expensive,” interrupted Fluttershy. “Yes, it was. To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to afford the price, even with Dad’s money and the little extra I was lent by Ra—by a really generous pony whose pet I sat for sometimes. The bidding went even higher than I was expecting it too, and I, well, I sort of got carried away at the end.” She dropped her eyes to the ground, the edge of one forehoof scuffing along the grass.

“So... you didn’t even have enough left to mend all the cracks in the plaster and buy a few plates and stuff?”

“Well, um, I would have, even with having to pay for this, but then I wouldn’t have been able to afford to care properly for all my little animal friends. I really couldn’t have borne that.”

“You could still have told somepony about it! ‘Shy, you could have told me. I’m making plenty from the weather job now, and I’d have been able to help you out. You’re absolutely crazy!” A sudden grin split Rainbow’s face. “Hey, how about we both go crazy? I’ll accept this gift from you if you accept my help in fixing up your house? Do we have a deal or what?”

Fluttershy laughed. “I guess we do.”

The pegasi embraced.

A short while later, the sun sank beneath the cottage roof, setting on two ponies standing in silence and sharing their moment. There would be many other moments, but never again would there be this moment.

The spell was broken by the arrival of another pony into the deepening shadows of the evening garden. It was Rarity, resplendent in a deep red gown with richly metallic, burnished-gold accents. Fluttershy couldn’t help noticing the jagged claw marks that marred the hem.

“Good evening, Fluttershy,” said Rarity. “And good evening to you, Rainbow Dash. I know it’s terribly rude of me to barge in on you like this, Fluttershy, but do you think you could possibly manage to give me a spot of help with dear Opalescence tonight? She’s been dreadfully fidgety all day, and I don’t really know what’s causing it. I do worry about her.” She patted at her ruined hem. “And I was supposed to be wearing this dress in Canterlot next week.”

“Of course, Rarity,” replied Fluttershy. “It’s always lovely to see Opal again; I’m sure she’s grown so much since I last saw the adorable little thing. Though I do hope you’ll excuse me if I wait here a little while longer, just until Rainbow and I have been able to talk some more.”

Rarity frowned and turned to the other pegasus. “Far be it from me to quibble, Rainbow Dash, but shouldn’t you perhaps be thinking about flying back to Cloudsdale? It’s already starting to get dark.”

Rainbow Dash opened her mouth, but Fluttershy raised her head and said, “Oh, I think she’ll be staying here in Ponyville tonight.” Seeing Rarity’s eyes begin to widen, she blushed and said hurriedly, “Um... no... I didn’t mean... well, um, maybe it would be best if Rainbow explained it all for herself. Dashie?” She turned to look at her fellow pegasus and the embarrassment drained from her face, replaced by the simplest of smiles.

Almost lost from sight in the gathering gloom, Rainbow Dash didn’t answer at once. She was watching the sun rise in the west.

Author's Note:

Thank you for being so patient!

If you're wondering about that last sentence... yes, that is what I meant. If that confuses you, read the chapter again. If it still confuses you:

Rainbow isn't watching the actual sun. She's watching Fluttershy, who is (as stated earlier in the chapter) standing on the western edge of the lawn and is now giving Rainbow the "sunrise smile".

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Comments ( 15 )

a nice cute way to end a nice cute story:yay:

6052552 Thank you! That was the idea, so I'm glad it came across. :yay:

Where has this been hiding? It was such an adorable and sweet story I can't believe I barely read it today. I'm supposed to be studying for finals!!!

I really like this story so much. Amazing job writing it.

6052785 Oh dear, I hope my story hasn't interrupted your studies too much! :rainbowwild: But seriously, thank you very much. I'm a huge fan of FlutterDash friendshipping and really wanted to write something centred on that friendship -- plus I find that friendship adorable and sweet myself, so I'm delighted you found this fic so enjoyable. :yay:

Nicely done. Very neat to have read a story about how Rainbow Dash ended up with the cloud house. Very nice wrap-up to your story (: even in just friendship it's so cute :rainbowderp:

6058274 Thanks very much! :twilightsmile: I'd wondered after seeing "Pinkie Pride" why on earth Rainbow would move house on her birthday -- and then the idea that the house was actually a present took shape. 'Shy's and Dash's relationship is just friendship in this fic, but that there were times when it might have become something more (eg the bit leading up to "The moment passed" in ch. 1). It just didn't happen to work out that way for them in the end, and they simply became extremely close friends (as seen best in "Hurricane Fluttershy"). :twilightsmile:

6088337 More thanks are in order! :twilightsmile:

Now, since when do ponies have forepaws, hmm?

Um... undercover otter service? :trixieshiftleft::trixieshiftright:

Spotted another semi-colon error

Actually, I'm going to keep that one as it is. Non-standard it may be (and it is!), but I feel the cadence of the phrase is better with semicolons than with dashes, and I don't want to change the wording. This one was a deliberate piece of rule breaking -- for a change!

Here, at last, her thoughts turned darker as she remembered not a bird but another pony.

I agree with you that the original version of this line needed changing, but in the end I decided to remove the commas entirely. I don't like the sound of a significant pause after "Here", you see. :twilightsmile:

Rainbow leaned forward and waggled her eyebrows. “Aaand?”

When I read this, the first thing that popped into my head was that awesome expression Dash gave to one of Daring Do’s quips in Daring Don’t. This one, I believe:

She was watching the sun rise in the west.

I understand it perfectly, and I think it’s a glorious way to end this wonderful tale. :twilightsmile:
This has been such a joy to read! I’m just sorry it took me so long to sit down and read it. Well, now I have, and I have to say that I contend your remark about this not being one of your best stories. This is definitely one of the best stories I’ve read on this site, and I suspect it will always remain so.
On to the final installment of edit suggestions!

You thought I didn’t want to be your friend any more?

The “any more” should be “anymore”, in this instance.

… and declared, “Well, I’m here now!” spreading her wings expansively.

I don’t know if there’s an actual grammar rule covering something like this, but, to me, having that clause—or phrase, or whatever it’s called—tacked on after the dialogue doesn’t read well and just plain looks odd. Perhaps rearrange things along the lines of: “… and, spreading her wings expansively, declared…”

It’s all work, work work.

There should be a comma after that second “work”.

Dash looked around the kitchen, noting without surprise that the cracks in the ceiling had lengthened a little more; that the damp patches on the ceiling had spread a little further.

Three things:
(1) The semi-colon should be a comma.
(2) In the second description, concerning the “damp patches”, stating “on the ceiling” again right after using it so recently—and in the same sentence—seems repetitive and unnecessary.
(3) Since you’re describing distance, the “further” should be “farther”.

Fluttershy’s voice was barely above a whisper, but it was firm and strong.

“No. It’s for you. And it’s not a book; it’s a scroll. Please, Rainbow, at least open it first.”

These should be combined as one paragraph. The dialogue is Fluttershy’s, after all, and there isn’t a shift from the focus on her character here.

The bidding went even higher than I was expecting it too, and I…

Should be “to”, not “too”

6188327 A big thank you is in order! :pinkiehappy: There's nothing I like more than getting feedback on a story, and yours has been wonderful: interesting, helpful and (let's be honest here, we're all a bit vain in this game) gratifyingly positive. I've already fixed some of the technical errors, but thanks for pointing out several more, which I'll get to in the near future. A few specifics:

"any more" / "further" / "Mrs"

1. "Any more" is standard BrE, although "anymore" is creeping in, as American forms tend to. Actually, "for ever", "per cent" and "apple sauce" are correct BrE as well, though the first two of those are coming under severe pressure from the one-word versions.
2. We don't use "farther" that much in BrE; "further" is generally used even for distances. "Farther" isn't incorrect, but it's relatively rare.
3. BrE has spent the last century or so gradually dropping full stops after abbreviations, at least outside formal writing. "Mrs" is the usual British form.

Second comma’s unnecessary

I'm keeping it, since I want the slight pause after "she felt", which you don't get without the second comma.

But seeing Dash shot down like that by Spitfire? That was harsh.

Yep. Maybe a little over the top, but Spitfire is also still a bit young and brash at this point, albeit not as much as Dash. I don't personally much like the "drill sergeant" persona she was given for S3, but it was useful here. (Also, it gives Rainbow another reason to be determined to show Spitfire how good she really is in "Wonderbolts Academy"...)

Her dad was a jerk.

Mm-hm. I didn't want Fluttershy to start out an orphan, so she needed a parent, and I couldn't ignore the fact that we've heard nothing about her family in the show. But I got fed up with the number of stories in which Flutters' dad is outright abusive; I didn't want to go down that road (note that 'Shy isn't malnourished) and so this fitted quite well. (Heh, another Briticism there: "fitted". :rainbowwild:)

tacked on after the dialogue doesn’t read well

Quite right! I think that actually needs splitting into two sentences, with "She spread her wings expansively." at the end.

This is definitely one of the best stories I’ve read on this site, and I suspect it will always remain so.

Well, um... thank you! :twilightblush: I think what I meant in my comment was that it had several problems that I really should have fixed. (The "accessing the archives" minor sub-plot goes nowhere, really; I may add a paragraph to ch 5 to counter that.) I do like this fic, though, and I'm very happy that you did too.

And thank you too for reading this bloated comment! :yay:

6189190 You are more than welcome! I’ve always found positive criticism to be much more constructive than negative, so I try to keep my comments in the former category. And we all deserve a boost in ego every once in a while, of course. :raritywink:
Concerning the BrE… Curse the Pond and its division of such a similar language! Had I known these Briticisms, I certainly wouldn’t have nitpicked them out of the manuscript. I’ll definitely remember them for future perusals of your and other British nationals’ works. Thank you very much for instructing me on those nuances!
In reference to the Spitfire matter, I completely agree. I’ve always seen her as a more matured—if only slightly, in some instances—version of Dash. The idea of a younger Spitfire being “brash” instead of a straight drill sergeant throughout her life is a much better concept, and it gives her character more depth. With how she’s portrayed in Wonderbolts Academy, it just makes sense for her to have grown into that militaristic persona. Plus, if you factor in this earlier stage of Spitfire’s character development, your portrayal of an encounter between her and Dash before the events in the show is perfectly plausible—Spitfire would not have bothered to remember some punk filly beyond that encounter, and the fact that she doesn’t seem to have met Dash before the show remains whole and uncontended.
Fluttershy, an orphan? I never thought of her in that position. Granted, the distinct lack of familial information in the show concerning Fluttershy does open the floodgates for all sorts of theorizing, but she just never struck me as being an orphan. I always thought she had parents, and in my personal headcanons I suppose I still do, but not of the overbearing, neglectful, or abusive types. Perhaps she didn’t have a “perfect” childhood—well, foalhood—but, then, who among us ever has? But I digress. :twilightsheepish: I wasn’t sorry to see her dad go, but the fact that it happened to Fluttershy was what tugged the heartstrings. At least she didn’t seem to take it too hard, though that’s perfectly understandable, all things considered.
And finally, allow me to thank you in turn for putting up with my “bloated” comments. :twilightsmile:

6189645

Curse the Pond and its division of such a similar language!

Well, quite. Every so often, I think about making a blog post about the particular challenges of being a British fanfic writer in an American fandom... maybe the upcoming hiatus will give me the time to actually do it!

Fluttershy

Major spoiler about her in the SDCC panel, I see. No more details here, except to say that I'm quite glad I'm not still writing this fic!

Anyway, thank you once again. Now, let's see which of your stories catches my eye... :twilightsmile:

6191020

Fluttershy

:derpyderp2: Oh, my gosh, yes! I can't wait to see how alike (or dissimilar) they are! We're getting some more 'Shy details, yay! :yay:
On a semi-unrelated note, did you watch/listen to the new song that was revealed?

6191242

On a semi-unrelated note, did you watch/listen to the new song that was revealed?

One or two little bits, just to see what the style was. I'm saving the whole thing for the actual episode. :)

Well you keep telling me I should actually write reviews instead of just reading fics, and I have Finally worked my way around to this one.
I agree with @rocket that This is a much better Rainbow Dash Story Than many I have read, that may be helped by how she is in the background as it were. I also agree with @Emylia+Hawke about Spitfire and really like her here too.
I'm not too sure about Fluttershy though, at times her behaviour seems a bit erratic (but this could be on reflection, makes here more like a real pony).Sometimes it is hard to know if you are in RD's head or Flutters, fox example the bit in the garden (I really thought they ere going to kiss), I was surprised to find myself suddenly in RD's head.

6226574 Thanks very much! :twilightsmile: As far as Fluttershy goes, her behaviour being a little varied was deliberate, though if there are any specific points where this got in the way of the story then please do tell me. You're right that I can sometimes have a problem with perspective-hopping. I've been working on improving that, but this story was started so long ago that it doesn't show so much here! Still, I don't think it harms the story as a whole and I'm not changing that last chapter now, as the last paragraph needs to stay at all costs and I'm not recasting the whole chapter to be Dash POV. :rainbowwild:

Dash and 'Shy were never going to kiss, though. My headcanon (in this story, at least) is that there have been times when being more than friends might have happened (there's one in chapter 1!) but that it never actually did, and that they're now happy as deep, close friends. :yay:

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