• Published 5th Jun 2014
  • 4,890 Views, 255 Comments

Wear Flowers in Your Mane - jkbrony



On a day she spends with her surrogate little sister, Scootaloo, Rainbow Dash receives news that will change her life forever. Everypony must deal with loss at some point or another....

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Chapter 4 -- A Touch of Kindness

Fluttershy cycled through the faces of her friends, hoping to see some look of understanding as to what had just happened, but they all appeared to be just as shocked as she was.

The sight of Rainbow Dash crying was so rare that coming across a zebra living in Equestria could have been a more common sight (and as far as anypony knew, there was only one, and she lived deep within the Everfree Forest).

"Oh my, I hope it wasn't something I said," said Rarity, staring out into the rain.

"Or something I said," remarked Twilight.

"Would you happen to know anythin', Fluttershy?" asked Applejack.

Fluttershy shook her head. "She seemed fine when I went to invite her, except that...she didn't want to come at first."

"Why not?" asked Applejack.

"Umm, she said that she was in the middle of something."

The still-open door allowed cold air and the sound of splattering rain to fill the room, and Twilight magically closed it. Pinkie Pie looked almost distraught: the feeling of somepony actually rejecting one of her parties was just as painful as the feeling of somepony rejecting her as a friend.

"Well, I wish we knew what that 'somethin'' was, 'cause I'm just not sure what would make her react like that," replied Applejack.

"The cancellation of the Daring Do series probably would," Twilight suggested. "But I would know if that had happened."

"Perhaps she was simply touched by our throwing a party on her behalf?" questioned Rarity.

"Maybe, but I'm not sure why that would have made her run off," replied Twilight.

Pinkie Pie lowered her ears. "Why would she cry? My parties are supposed to make ponies smile..."

"I'm sure it has nothin' to do with you, Pinkie," consoled Applejack.

"Yeah," agreed Twilight. "I'm sure it's just..."

She suddenly went silent for a few moments and then whispered "Oh no..."

"What wrong, Twi?" asked Spike.

"Maybe this is our fault....," she said as every eye in the room fell upon her.

"What do you mean, Twilight?" asked Fluttershy.

"What if...what if she's not in the Wonderbolts Reserves after all?"

"That can't be it. We all saw her acceptance form," noted Applejack.

"I know, but...what if something happened? What if there was a followup test or something that she didn't pass? What if she lost her membership? Think about it. It would explain why we haven't seen her all weekend. She probably didn't know how to break the news to us after all the effort we put in to helping her get into the Reserves."

The room fell silent for several moments.

"Oh dear. You may be right, Twilight," said Rarity. "This party must have been too much for her to bear."

"Oh no!" cried Fluttershy. "That would explain why she didn't mention getting her letter when I asked her if there was anything new. I think you are right, Twilight!"

Every head in the room suddenly hung, every ear lowered. They were each reminded of how they felt when their arguing about which study method was best had caused Rainbow Dash to fly off in frustration, finally accepting that none of their methods would work for her and that she would never pass the Reserves exam.

"What have we done...?"

****

STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!!!

Rainbow Dash zipped through the air, barely able to see where she was going while the raindrops stung her face. Tears continued to fall, blending in perfectly with the rain as they slipped from her eyes.

You blew it. All you had to do was keep it together, and you blew it. And now...now they know that there's something wrong, and you're going to have to tell them everything. Nice going, Rainbow Dash.

She suddenly changed direction and shot straight up into the sky until she was above the rain clouds. She plopped herself down upon a solitary leftover cloud that had not been used to create the rain. The sun cast a unique glow on the clouds below, making her feel like she was drifting along an ocean of gray.

All Rainbow Dash could think about was the grinning faces of her friends, as she had immediately realized something the moment she saw them—something that she had truly wished was not true. She felt nothing. Nothing. Not the slightest bit of happiness, joy, or fulfillment from the fact that she was mere days away from finally realizing her "lifelong dream", as Twilight so accurately put it. All the years she had tried so hard to get the Wonderbolts to notice her, all the years she had watched them perform and imagined herself among them, all the years she had fantasized about the day her time finally came was about to culminate into a painfully bitter and unsatisfying conclusion.

Why? Why does it have to be like this?

A fresh set of tears leaked from Rainbow's eyes and she instantly wiped them away. It was now clearly apparent that the death of her father was holding her down like a solid wall that she was chained to by all four hooves. It was impossible to escape it—impossible to let it go and move forward, as she so desperately wished to. Putting her life back on track now seemed like a harder task than ever. And to think that she had foolishly assumed that she was going to get through his passing without shedding so much as a single tear...

Rainbow stared bitterly up into the sky.

"You think this is funny, don't you? Go ahead and have your laugh. It doesn't change the fact that you were wrong all this time. You can't hold me back anymore. It may be hard right now, but I know I'll be just fine without you. So go ahead and have your laugh now, while you still can. Because soon you'll see just how little it matters to me."

With nothing left to say, Rainbow Dash buried her face in the cloud.

****

A pegasus belongs only in the air, and anything less does not make a shred of sense. That was how Rainbow Dash always felt, and thus she did not particularly enjoy being on the ground herself. Yet she somehow found herself there anyway, following closely behind Fluttershy as they flew mere inches above the earth.

Fluttershy had told her that she wanted to show her something—something that she would supposedly never be able to see in Cloudsdale. Rainbow reluctantly agreed to come, but certainly did not expect that the trip would be worth her time. They were in the area where Fluttershy had received her cutie mark, which she now visited every single day after Flight Camp. Trees were scattered about and the earth was populated with grass as far as the eye could see, even covering the hills in the distance. Among the grass were bushes and shrubs, which shook slightly as they passed by, the animals inside reacting to their presence. Looking around at the scenery, Rainbow Dash realized exactly what it was that she hated most about the ground: far too much green.

"Are we almost there, Fluttershy?" Rainbow asked impatiently.

"It's right up ahead," answered Fluttershy, pointing at a tree a short distance away.

"This had better be worth the trip down here," Rainbow said with annoyance, unsure about what could be so particularly interesting about a tree.

"Just trust me. You've never seen anything like this," Fluttershy assured her.

When they reached the tree, Fluttershy elevated herself to the highest branch, where a bird's nest sat with four blue eggs bunched together beside a robin who looked pleased to see her.

"Is it time?" Fluttershy asked the robin.

The robin chirped in a jovial fashion. Rainbow Dash rose to Fluttershy's level and hovered in place beside her.

"Oh, goodness! I can't wait!" Fluttershy cried with boundless enthusiasm. She pointed a hoof in Rainbow's direction. "This is my friend, Rainbow Dash. I hope it's okay that I invited her. I really wanted her to see."

The robin looked in Rainbow's direction and chirped.

"She says hello, and that she's happy you came," said Fluttershy to Rainbow Dash.

"You can understand her?" she asked, her eyes widened.

"Well...yes," answered Fluttershy. "I told you this was my special gift."

Rainbow Dash was taken aback. She never would have thought that Fluttershy possessed an ability that she would actually be impressed by, and perhaps even a bit envious of.

"Hi, there," she said with a small wave, and the bird chirped happily again.

"Oh my goodness, this is it!" Fluttershy squealed as one of the eggs suddenly began to vibrate, with the other three following after.

They watched as the surface of the eggs began to crack near the top. The cracks soon turned into holes, where tiny beaks could be seen poking through. The beaks persisted to push, and the cracks eventually formed an opening, allowing bare bodies to become more and more visible. Freedom grew ever closer as the three baby robins spent the next several minutes squirming out of their restrictive shells. They paused multiple times, as though suddenly giving up on their freedom in spite of how close it was. However, after a few brief seconds, they continued to push with even more determination than before.

"Is this not the most beautiful thing you've ever seen in your life?" whispered Fluttershy, appearing to be on the brink of tears.

Rainbow said nothing, transfixed by what she was seeing. As Fluttershy said, she had never seen anything like this before. Though she had seen many birds in her young life, she had never once wondered about how they were born.

Within ten minutes, each of the four babies finally escaped their eggs. The robin nestled them in her wings.

"Congratulations," said Fluttershy. "You have beautiful children."

The robin chirped appreciatively.

Fluttershy turned to Rainbow Dash, still stunned silent.

"Come on, let's go," she whispered.

After staring at the newborn birds for another few seconds, Rainbow followed Fluttershy down to the base of the tree.

"Well? Was it worth the trip down here?" asked Fluttershy.

Rainbow blinked with awe, surprised that she was actually impressed by what Fluttershy had wanted to show her.

"That was...amazing."

Fluttershy grinned with satisfaction. "Want to see more? Follow me."

Rainbow trailed behind her as she flew over to another tree with a large hole in its center. Hovering just outside the hole, Fluttershy peaked her head inside to see a pair of squirrels with three babies.

"Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Chipperson. How are they doing today?"

The pair of squirrels squeaked happily.

"That's wonderful to hear," Fluttershy beamed. "I hope you don't mind, but I brought my friend here to see them. Is that okay?"

The squirrels looked over at Rainbow Dash and squeaked.

"Why, thank you," Fluttershy replied. "Oh, and would you mind if—," she whispered something to them that Rainbow Dash could not hear.

"Thank you. I promise she'll be very careful," Fluttershy replied to another squeak from the pair of squirrels.

Fluttershy moved away from the hole and turned towards Rainbow. "Take a look. These babies were born last week."

Rainbow Dash looked inside at the three babies. They were almost completely hairless, all eyes snapped shut, and curled up together with little motion between them.

"Awww...", she said, in spite of herself.

"Do you want to hold one?" asked Fluttershy. "They said that you could."

"Really?" Rainbow beamed, now knowing what Fluttershy whispered.

"Only if you be very careful. They're very weak and fragile."

Rainbow nodded. "Okay."

Fluttershy moved back towards the hole and pulled out one of the babies, carefully placing it into Rainbow's hooves.

Rainbow Dash's heart melted at the sight of the tiny creature shivering in her grasp. It was the most helpless and innocent being that she had ever seen in her young life. It was so small and fragile that she feared that even the slightest sudden movement could be life-threatening. As she hovered in place, holding the helpless creature in her forelegs, she thought about the frailty of its life. Were something to happen, were it to be abandoned or left on its own, the poor creature would never survive. The only way it would live on to mature was by its mother nurturing it with enough love and care to allow it to grow. Rainbow was instantly reminded of her mother's picture—how she had held her infant self with the same undying love and care.

"Hey there, little guy," she said softly to the tiny creature. It stirred uncomfortably and then went still, as though it had finally found comfort in her forelegs.

"Why are his eyes closed?" Rainbow asked. "Is he asleep?"

Fluttershy shook her head. "Many small mammals are born blind. They don't usually open their eyes until they're a few weeks old."

"Oh," Rainbow replied. She carefully released the newborn squirrel back to Fluttershy, who gently placed it back in the tree.

"I'll be back to check on them next week," she told the parents. "Remember to keep them cozy and warm, and no solid foods."

The pair of squirrels squeaked in appreciation. Fluttershy smiled and flew off, with Rainbow Dash following beside her.

"Thanks, Fluttershy," she said. "That was really nice. With how things have been going for me lately, I really needed this."

Fluttershy frowned. "What's been bothering you?"

"Well, as I've told you, one more Sonic Rainboom is the only thing standing between me and an instant spot in the Wonderbolts, but I still haven't been able to pull it off. And now my dad is getting on my case about it, and that's really getting annoying. He doesn't think I'll ever be a Wonderbolt."

"Well, I truly hope you get into the Wonderbolts someday. I hope you get everything you've ever wanted out of life. And if there's anything I can do to help, I'll do it. You don't even have to ask."

Rainbow blinked. "Really?"

Fluttershy stopped near a burrow and was greeted by a family of bunnies.

"Of course. I recently came to realize that discovering my love of animals, getting my cutie mark, I owe that all to you,"

"What do you mean?" Rainbow asked, stopping beside her.

"Well, I've always been afraid to come down to the ground. I never would have come down here on my own, and if that had happened, I never would have realized just how much I love it here," Fluttershy answered. The bunnies returned inside their burrow.

Rainbow Dash raised an eyebrow. "I...don't follow."

"Don't you get it?" Fluttershy asked, turning towards her. "If not for you standing up for me, if not for the race, I never would have fallen down here."

Rainbow Dash winced with surprise. It had been weeks since that race, and all this time, she had feared that Fluttershy might have held some resentful feelings towards her for not stopping the race to save her from falling, particularly when the entire purpose of the race was to defend her. The notion that Fluttershy was actually appreciative to her for it was downright inconceivable.

"But...you could have died!" exclaimed Rainbow. "And I was too focused on trying to win that I didn't even notice that you fell. I would have saved you if I had known."

"And if you had, nothing would have changed," Fluttershy pointed out. "I still would have been too afraid to come to the ground. I still would have never found out about my gift and gotten my cutie mark."

Fluttershy suddenly threw her forehooves around Rainbow's neck.

"You helped me discover my destiny, so I will do anything I can to help you realize your dream."

Though still struck with confusion, Rainbow Dash accepted her embrace, curling her mouth into a smile.

****

"Rainbow Dash?"

Rainbow turned to see Fluttershy hovering just behind her, a look of solemn concern upon her face.

"How'd you find me?" she asked, thankful that her tears had finally stopped falling.

"I remembered how you like to be above the clouds when it's raining. I figured I would find you up here somewhere," replied Fluttershy, taking a seat next to her upon the cloud.

"I guess you're wondering why I did that, right?" Rainbow asked without looking at her.

"I think I already know," replied Fluttershy.

Rainbow Dash turned her head towards her.

Fluttershy took a deep breath. "You lost your Wonderbolts Reserves membership, didn't you?"

"No. That's not it."

"It's not? So you're still in the Reserves?"

Rainbow nodded.

"Oh, thank goodness," Fluttershy said with relief. "We all thought that had to be the reason. I wasn't sure what I could have even said to console you."

Rainbow Dash said nothing, staring down at the cloud upon which they rested.

"So what's really bothering you, then?"

"I don't really want to talk about it, Fluttershy," Rainbow replied.

Fluttershy put a hoof on her shoulder. "The more you shut us out, the more worried we'll be."

Rainbow sighed, knowing that she would have to tell her something.

"It's just....I thought this would be different," she said.

"You thought what would be different?"

"Getting into the Wonderbolts," said Rainbow. "It's just...I don't know. I'm not as happy or excited as I should be."

Fluttershy cocked her head. "Why not?"

Rainbow Dash paused briefly.

"I just keep wondering that it may not be all that it's cracked up to be. What if I've wasted my life pursuing a dream that didn't give me all that I was hoping for?"

"I'm sure it will," said Fluttershy. "Maybe you're just experiencing nerves. After all, this is everything you've always wanted."

"Yeah, it really is," Rainbow said with a nod. "But...I don't know. I mean, my faith in them has been shaken a bit lately. Remember what they did to Soarin back at the Games tryouts? How do I know they won't one day replace me with a better flyer when they need one?"

Fluttershy raised an eyebrow. "A better flyer? Than you?"

Rainbow paused for a brief moment, scratching her chin.

"You're right. That would never happen. But it still doesn't change the fact that they tried to replace one of their own. I mean, that says a lot about their loyalty to each other, doesn't it?"

Fluttershy went silent for a few moments.

"I suppose you're right. But they learned their lesson and I don't think they'll do something like that again."

"I don't know why, but suddenly I'm just having regrets," Rainbow continued. "Like maybe I should have pursed something else."

Fluttershy's eyes widened. "Rainbow Dash...are you saying that you don't want to be a Wonderbolt?"

"No....well, I don't know," Rainbow answered. "All I know is that getting that letter should have been the greatest day of my life....and it just wasn't."

Fluttershy was utterly perplexed. The only other time she had ever heard Rainbow Dash express any notion of not wanting to be a Wonderbolt was when she quit the Wonderbolt Academy, disillusioned by the thought that they rewarded recklessness. In all the years they had known each other, her desire to join that elusive club had never changed or faltered.

"What about your dad?" said Fluttershy.

Rainbow swiftly turned her head towards her. "Huh?!"

"Well, you wanted him to see you wearing your Wonderbolt uniform, right? To prove him wrong?"

Rainbow Dash nodded, turning her head away from Fluttershy again.

"Yeah...I did."

"Well, aren't you at least glad that you're finally going to be able to do that?" asked Fluttershy.

Rainbow Dash went silent for several moments.

"I never saw him again. Not since the day we parted ways five years ago."

"I know," Fluttershy replied.

Rainbow chuckled silently. She had forgotten how much Fluttershy knew about her.

"I'm actually afraid to see him again," she said. "I don't know what he'll say or how he'll react. And somehow I don't think it will give me the satisfaction that I've always imagined it would."

"Maybe that's because it's not meant to give you satisfaction," said Fluttershy.

Rainbow looked at her again. "What?"

"You both allowed this disagreement to ruin the relationship you had. You allowed five years to pass by with no contact—five years that neither of you will ever get back. But once you finally do it, you will have closure, and then you two will at long last be able to rebuild your relationship."

"He's the one who insisted on beating down my dream, remember?" Rainbow said irritably. "I couldn't take it anymore."

"I'm not saying that you were wrong for leaving," said Fluttershy. "But five years without so much as dropping by to say hello? Don't you feel that was a bit much?"

"I told him that he wasn't going to see me again until I was wearing a Wonderbolt uniform, and that was what I meant," Rainbow replied flatly. "If I had saw him any time before then, he wouldn't have let me live it down."

"I don't think that's true at all," retorted Fluttershy. "Haven't you ever thought that maybe your absence caused him to have a change of heart? That maybe he felt sorry for driving you away? That maybe he's spent the last five years missing you? Besides, didn't you miss him?"

Rainbow Dash sighed. This was not the first time she had been faced with that question...

"Trust me. The best thing that's going to come of this is that you two will finally have a chance to repair your relationship," said Fluttershy. "You'll finally have a chance to put it behind you and move forward, making up for lost time."

Rainbow looked down at the rain clouds beneath her. The sound of the raindrops splattering upon the ground below was no longer as loud as it had been, letting her know that the rain was starting to die down.

"That's not going to happen," she said silently.

"Sure, it will. You'll see."

"No! No, it won't!" Rainbow nearly shouted. "And that's because he's—"

"He's what?"

"He's....too stubborn."

"Come on. I think you owe it to him to at least give him a chance," replied Fluttershy.

Rainbow shrugged.

"Perhaps this is why you're nervous about joining the Wonderbolts," Fluttershy suggested. "Maybe you're too worried about seeing your dad again to be excited?"

"Yeah...that could be it," Rainbow nodded.

"Just give him a chance," said Fluttershy. "And when you're finally wearing that Wonderbolt uniform, you'll realize that you've achieved everything you've always wanted, and all your doubts will fade away."

Rainbow Dash did not reply, prompting Fluttershy put her hoof around her.

"I wish you wouldn't keep your feelings bottled up, especially from me. Remember, if there's anything you ever need to talk about, I'm always here for you."

Rainbow hung her head and sighed. "Oh, Fluttershy. I don't deserve a friend like you."

"Don't talk that way," Fluttershy replied sternly.

"But I don't," said Rainbow. "At the Traders Exchange, I traded you away for a stupid book after you had spent all your time with me making sure that I got what I wanted even if you didn't. What kind of friend does that?"

"Oh, that's okay," said Fluttershy. "You realized your mistake. But even if you hadn't, I would have gladly stayed in Manehattan to train the Orthros."

"But why? I had no right to trade you away like that."

"You're worth it," said Fluttershy. "You stood up for me when no one else would. I never would have gotten my cutie mark if it weren't for you, and I'm even more sure of that now that I know that the explosion that scared the animals was your Sonic Rainboom. I owe so much to you."

Rainbow's mouth curled up into a smile. If anypony deserved to be the bearer of the Element of Loyalty, it was Fluttershy. That was much more than she could have said for herself being an ideal bearer for the Element of Honesty. She had just lied to her dearest friend's face, and she did not expect that she was finished lying either. Nevertheless, this talk with Fluttershy had lightened her mood considerably. A little touch of kindness was all she needed.

"Feeling better?" asked Fluttershy, noticing her smile.

Rainbow nodded. "So what do we do now?"

"Well, wouldn't it be best if we went back to Sugarcube Corner? The others are waiting for us there, all thinking that you were rejected from the Reserves."

Rainbow cringed, uncomfortable with the idea of facing her friends again.

"What do I tell them?" she asked.

Fluttershy thought for a moment.

"Well...the truth always works."

Rainbow lowered her ears.

"By the way, you said before that you were in the middle of something. What were you doing?" Fluttershy asked.

Rainbow looked down. She had lied to Fluttershy enough for one day, or at least for one conversation.

"Drinking through all my cider."

Fluttershy did not respond. Rainbow Dash looked over at her and was pierced with a stern look that almost instantly made her regret her actions. Fluttershy's "stare" often seemed to be just as effective with ponies as it was with animals.

"Well, not all of it," said Rainbow. "I still have one bottle left."

"Now, was that really necessary?"

Rainbow sighed with annoyance. "No. It wasn't."

As the two pegasi made their way back, they noticed that the rain had been reduced down to a sprinkle and ponies were beginning to fill the streets once again. It appeared to be evening now, or at least very late in the afternoon. The day had stretched on endlessly for Rainbow Dash, and she was more than ready for it to end. Tomorrow would be another chance to put her life back on track, as most of the rain clouds would surely need cleared away. The difference was that she would be busting the clouds this time, and thus the task would be a dozen times more fun and relaxing.

Pinkie Pie was solemnly drawing invisible frowning faces into the floor with her hoof when the door of Sugarcube Corner opened again.

"Rainbow!" Twilight exclaimed.

"Hey, guys...," Rainbow said as humiliation crept its way through her body.

"Are you alright?" asked Rarity.

"I'm fine, now," she answered. "And before anypony asks, no, I haven't been kicked out of the Wonderbolts Reserves."

A sense of relief washed over the faces of everyone in the room.

"Then what was wrong?" asked Twilight.

Rainbow Dash took a deep breath and looked over at Fluttershy, who motioned for her tell them.

"Well, it's just that...I've been going through some...doubts and stuff but...I'm okay now. Really."

"Doubts?" said Applejack. "Doubts about what?"

"It doesn't matter," said Rainbow with a glance in Fluttershy's direction. "I'm really sorry if I worried you guys. We can have this party now, if that's okay. I'd hate to let all of this go to waste."

Pinkie beamed instantly.

"Are you sure?" Twilight asked.

Rainbow nodded. "Yeah, I'm sure."

Pinkie Pie suddenly ran up to her and threw her forehooves around her neck.

"I'm so super glad you're okay!"

"We all are," said Twilight, and one by one, they each followed suit until hooves and claws were wrapped around every inch of Rainbow's body.

"It's okay guys. It really wasn't that big a deal," Rainbow said, their displays of affection warming her heart.

"So, shall we party?" Rainbow asked as they each released her from their grasp.

****

It was after dark when Rainbow returned home, all party-ed out. It had gone on as expected, and she successfully avoided revealing more about why she had run off, quickly changing the subject when it was brought up. Lying to her friends made her feel excruciatingly uncomfortable, but she was determined to prevent them from learning the truth.

They wouldn't understand, not even Fluttershy. It would just be better if they didn't find out.

Walking into the kitchen, she saw the empty bottles of cider still strewn across the table with the one full bottle still standing among them. She placed the bottle back in her refrigerator, thankful to herself that she had not drank through it. She then headed up to her bedroom, where the two letters still sat on her bedside table. She picked up the half-open envelope that contained her father's final words to her. Rainbow Dash was once again struck with the urge to open it, even though she had no desire to read through it at the moment. Knowing now that she was always going to be struck with this urge whenever she laid her eyes upon it, she realized that she would need to hide it from view until she was finally ready to read what was inside.

Walking over to her bookshelf nearby, she pulled out Daring Do and the Chest of Mystery and opened it up, preparing to stick the letter inside like a bookmark. Just before she did so, something fell out of the envelope's opening and glided swiftly down to the floor. Rainbow Dash cautiously squinted her eyes down at it.

It appeared to be a photo.

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