• Published 18th May 2015
  • 8,061 Views, 682 Comments

Inner Strength - Krickis

When Twilight overhears a private conversation, she has to come to terms with how she feels about herself, love, and a certain somepony. All while weighing her public image against her personal desires.

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21 - Of Mountains and Molehills

Chapter Twenty-One

Of Mountains and Molehills

“Last train to Coltsville!”

“Our train should be here any minute now,” Twilight said, staring at the train schedule.

Fluttershy frowned. She did miss her friends, and was worried sick about the animals, but she didn’t want to leave yet. She was just getting used to feeling like part of a family again.

Twilight Velvet put a hoof on her shoulder. “Now I expect to hear from you, dear. I want a letter every week.”

“Darling, you know Fluttershy’s gonna have her hooves full once they get back. Maybe once a month?” Night Light suggested. Shining Armor and Cadance had left the day before, so it was just Twilight’s parents seeing them off.

“Fine. Every other week, and that’s my final offer.”

Fluttershy giggled. “I think I can handle that.”

Spike came running up to the ponies with a basket of cinnamon buns. “Heese aw gweat!” he said through a mouthful.

“Spike, chew your food,” Twilight Velvet chided.

He swallowed before continuing. “Anypony want some?”

The four ponies all gathered around to let the fresh pastries warm them on the cold morning. By the time the basket was empty, and everypony was a little more full, they heard the whistle of a train coming in. “We should move down to the platform, that’s our train,” Twilight said, squinting at its approach.

As they began to walk towards the train, Fluttershy instinctively moved closer to Twilight. With a sideways glance, her marefriend stepped away a bit. Fluttershy frowned, but kept the distance Twilight left between them. ‘It’s not because she’s ashamed, it’s just because…’ As the days went on, Fluttershy was beginning to have a hard time remembering why they had to keep it secret. ‘We’ll talk about it in Ponyville.’

As they were walking through the crowd they were interrupted by a flash going off nearby. “Princess Twilight, a moment of your time, please!” a stallion with a camera asked. He had a grey coat and a magnifying glass cutie mark.

Fluttershy had to admit, Twilight had gotten much better at pretending to be happy to see reporters. She turned to face him with a genuine smile, and stepped to the side so that her family would be left out of any other photos.

“Good morning, Your Highness. I was hoping you could answer a few questions for Ponies Magazine?”

The train to Ponyville pulled up, its doors opening to let out its current passengers before it could take any more, leaving them with no excuse to get away. “Maybe just one or two, but my train’s here, so they’ll have to be quick ones.”

“Of course,” the photographer said, snapping another picture. “Let’s start with the question on everypony’s mind: Does Princess Twilight have a coltfriend?”

Twilight chuckled, which even Fluttershy almost believed was real. She had gotten better at that, too. “Sorry to disappoint you, but no.”

“Would that have anything to do with the rumors that you’ve been spending a lot of your time with the same mare? We also have it from a reliable source that you invited a mare over for the holidays. One can’t help but wonder if it’s the same pony; perhaps the better question is does Princess Twilight have a marefriend?” He glanced at Fluttershy.

The camera snapped a picture of Twilight’s reaction, which was definitely not faked. Her mouth fell open for a moment before she shook her head and gave a nervous laugh. “That’s absolutely ridiculous! I spend time with all my friends, and I hardly think having a guest over is that big of a deal.”

“All aboard for Ponyville!”

While everypony was distracted by the train’s arrival, he took a picture of Fluttershy. Having her picture taken wasn’t exactly new to her. She had occasionally been in pictures with Twilight and all their other friends, as well as once before with Twilight when the rumors first started. But aside from her brief modeling career, nopony ever had any reason to want a picture of just her.

“Uhh, maybe we should get on the train now?” Spike said, but Fluttershy was already boarding.

“Ticket, miss?” a friendly mare asked. “Let’s see here. Oh, your private room is the first door on the left there. Would you like any help with your bags?”

“No, thank you,” Fluttershy said, already on her way to the room. She opened the door and dropped her saddlebag on a seat, then sat down next to it, putting her bag on one side of her and the wall on the other.

She immediately regretted running off. She hadn’t even said a proper goodbye to Twilight Velvet or Night Light after all their hospitality. She sighed and sunk into her seat. She had been so upset that she hadn’t stopped to think about what she was doing.

“Boy, it’s a good thing you got out of there when you did,” Spike said. She was puzzled for a second that she hadn’t heard the door open, but then realized she hadn’t closed it. “After you left, Mom dragged Twilight off to the side. She looked furious!”

“Was the reporter still there?”

“Yeah, he took a ton of pictures. I bet tomorrow’s headline will be all about the Royal Lecture.” Spike chuckled as he sat in the window seat. Fluttershy doubted that would be tomorrow's headline. She knew she should have stayed outside, that Twilight would have gotten rid of the reporter and wouldn’t have gotten in trouble with her mom, and then the three of them could have said goodbye together.

“I can’t believe her!” Twilight said, entering the room and shutting the door behind her. “She treated me like a filly, right in front of everypony!”

Twilight levitated Fluttershy’s saddlebag to a different chair and sat next to her. Fluttershy was still angry but decided to let it go. There was no point in making things worse.

Twilight sighed and leaned against Fluttershy, who didn’t react at all. “I love you, Shy, but we’ve got to be more careful. He probably wouldn’t even have noticed you if we weren’t walking so close together.”

“I can’t walk next to you now?” Fluttershy asked. She tried to keep her tone level, but judging by how Twilight sat up to look at her, she must have failed.

“Come on, Shy, you know I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just… ponies are noticing us.” Twilight didn’t quite meet Fluttershy’s gaze.

Fluttershy stood up and walked to the other side of the room, sitting across from Twilight and Spike. Twilight gave her a look that was both confused and hurt. “We wouldn’t want anypony to get the wrong idea,” Fluttershy said, her tone cold and detached from the situation.

“What? Fluttershy there’s nopony here,” Twilight said. “You’re being ridiculous.”

“Calm down, you guys,” Spike urged. “There’s no need to fight about anything.”

“Ridiculous…” Fluttershy repeated. She stood up and walked to the door.

“Where are you going?” Twilight asked.

“I don’t know. I just… need to stretch my legs.”

“We just got here! At least wait for the train to start moving.”

Fluttershy ignored Twilight and opened the door. As she tried to walk through it, however, the train started with a jerk, knocking her off her hooves. She glanced back at Twilight, whose expression read ‘I told you so’. Fluttershy turned away to ignore her.

“Are you okay, miss?” the ticket taker from earlier asked. As the mare helped her up, Fluttershy took a better look at her. She was a dark brown pegasus with tan spots and bright golden eyes. Her light brown mane was cropped short, with her bangs pinned to the side to keep them out of her face.

“Thank you so much,” Fluttershy said, smiling at the other mare’s kindness. “Uhm, could you point me to the bathroom?”

“Of course. It’s right at the end of the hall there,” she said, pointing it out. “Watch your step, now.”

“Thank you,” Fluttershy said, shutting the door to their room behind her. She made her way to the bathroom, closed the door, and just sat against it.

‘What’s wrong with me?’ she wondered. She shouldn’t have a problem with their relationship being secret. It was already something that they’d agreed on, after all. This wasn’t the first time something like this had come up. Why was she still reacting this way?

‘It wasn’t just what she said, it was how she said it.’ She didn’t just deny their relationship, she said the idea was ridiculous. That having Fluttershy over for the holidays didn’t mean anything. And her reaction was different. Normally she was polite but detached with reporters, like she was talking about a different Twilight Sparkle. But this time it seemed like she was acting authentically. She was shocked anypony would even ask if she had a marefriend, and she had called it ridiculous. ‘Why would Princess Twilight Sparkle have a marefriend? Don’t be ridiculous, she’s only a friend, no big deal.’

It wasn’t really like that. Twilight was just caught off guard and responded to the unexpected question the only way she could think to. Fluttershy knew that. But it didn’t matter, because it felt like Twilight was choosing her reputation over her marefriend, again.

Fluttershy stood up and looked in the mirror. She stared at her reflection like she was waiting for something big to happen, something to show her the answers. Instead, she just watched herself as tears started forming. Eventually she found herself crying face down in the sink.

‘I’m being silly,’ Fluttershy decided. ‘Besides, somepony might need to use the bathroom.’ She got back up and washed her face. Only when she was done did she look back in the mirror. Her mane was a bit of mess, but otherwise she looked okay. Thankfully, her eyes weren’t red, so she shouldn’t have to answer any questions.

Walking down the hall, she was about to return to her room when the ticket taker approached her. “Is there anything else I can do for you, miss?”

“No, thank you,” Fluttershy said.

“You know, your tickets include a free cup of coffee. Or tea, if you’d prefer.”

Fluttershy cocked her head to the side. “It does? Twilight didn’t say anything about that…”

“Well… alright, you got me.” The mare smiled sheepishly. “It doesn’t, but if you want I’ll still get you one.”

Fluttershy smiled as she realized what was going on. “Thank you, but Twilight really doesn’t like ponies doing her favors just because she’s a princess.”

“Oh, no that’s not it, it’s just, you see…” the mare rubbed at her neck. “I guess I might as well come clean. You’re Fluttershy, right?”

Fluttershy nodded. She tried to think if she had met this mare before, but she couldn’t remember anything.

“Well, the thing is… you’re kind of my hero.” She blushed slightly as she looked off to the side.

“I… what?” Fluttershy blinked in surprise a few times. She had never been called anypony’s hero before. “But why?”

The mare wasn’t able to meet Fluttershy’s eyes as she spoke, but the smile never left her face. “I was in Ponyville during the Summer Sun Celebration. I was still kinda young at the time, and I got separated from my family when Nightmare Moon showed up. I was so scared; it was my first time being away from home, and I’ve always been terrified of traveling. I know, odd job, right? But I saw you and your friends go into the woods. I didn’t know what was going on, but I wanted to run after you. I could tell you guys were doing something reckless, and I’m not sure if I wanted to stop you or help you do it. But… I didn’t do anything.”

Her smile faltered, but only for a moment, and came back twice as strong, and she finally looked directly at Fluttershy. “Then you guys stopped Nightmare Moon and saved Princess Luna! I couldn’t believe it. You all became so popular at my high school, everypony wanted to be one of you.” She giggled. “Even the colts.”

Fluttershy was still confused. Sure, lots of ponies appreciated them all, but it was really Twilight who led the charge. “But why me? Everypony else was more brave than I was. I probably wouldn’t even have gone if Rainbow Dash hadn’t been there.”

“Actually, that’s kind of why. When I saw you, I could tell you were terrified. I knew that you felt just like me, but you went anyway. All I did was hide in a bush and cry. I started tracking all your adventures, always looking for parts about you. I wanted to go on my own adventures, but I’d have panic attacks if I had to go to the other side of town.

“Fast forward a few years, and Tirek came and stole everypony’s magic. I thought we were done for, but then I saw you again. You had this crazy rainbow thing going on, and you flew over us, then everything was okay. I realized how close I came to never fulfilling my dream to see the world, and I applied for this job.”

“Even though you were afraid of travelling?”

The mare nodded. “It wasn’t easy. I love meeting other ponies from all over Equestria, and seeing all these different places, but I was so freaked out at first. I can’t believe they didn’t fire me on my first day when they found me curled up in a ball in the broom closet. But I stuck with it, because you showed me what can happen when we fight through our fears.”

Fluttershy couldn’t believe it. She had always done what she could to help because she had to for Equestria, and she had her friends to support her. She couldn’t imagine anypony had even noticed her among everypony else, let alone that she could inspire somepony to face her fears all by herself.

“I’m sorry. I’m being like, super weird,” the mare said, and her smile faded. Fluttershy realized for the first time that the mare had been smiling since she first entered the train.

“No, you’re not weird at all,” Fluttershy said. “I’ve just never had anypony tell me anything like that before.” The mare’s smile returned, which spread to Fluttershy. “So, uhm, is that tea still an option?”

“Of course!” She led them to the next car, which was a dining room. “My name’s Amber Glow, by the way.”

“Oh sorry, I should have asked,” Fluttershy said as she sat down near the bar. She mentally kicked herself for being so rude.

“No, it’s fine. I was kinda rambling.” Amber Glow ducked behind the counter and pulling out a kettle. Once she made two cups she went around to the other side to sit next to Fluttershy.

“I hope I’m not getting you in trouble by sitting here with you,” Fluttershy said.

Amber waved a hoof dismissively. “Nah, I just have to go around with the concessions cart in a half hour, I’m free until then. Normally I’d be in the break room, but… ah, never mind.”

Fluttershy smiled. “But you were hanging around my room.”

“Well… yeah. I swear I’m not some kinda crazy stalker or anything, but I just really wanted to find some way to talk to you.”

“Hmm.” Fluttershy sipped contently on her tea. “I’m glad you did. I think I really needed a friendly face right now.”

“But aren’t you with the princess?” Amber Glow asked, confused.

“Yeah but we, well, we had a fight.” Fluttershy rested her chin on her hoof. “It was probably my fault.”

“I’m sure that’s not true,” Amber said, resting a hoof on Fluttershy’s. “You two will work it out. Do you want to talk about it?”

‘Yes,’ Fluttershy thought. “No, thank you though. You’re right, it’ll work out eventually.”

“Alright,” Amber said, taking a sip of her tea before getting an excited grin. “Hey, is it true that you befriended Discord?”

“Oh, yes. He’s really very sweet once you get to know him. We have tea every week.”

“No way! Those must be some crazy tea parties.”

The two talked until Amber had to get back to work. Little by little, Fluttershy forgot about her fight with Twilight. Neither of them even noticed when they ran out of tea.

“Hey, thanks for talking to me,” Amber said. “It was really cool.”

“Oh, it was my pleasure,” Fluttershy said.

“So, uhm…” Amber Glow fixed her mane before replacing her hat. “I was wondering if, uhm… uh, you know what, never mind.”

She had done that several times while they were talking, usually when she wanted to ask something about Fluttershy but was worried she’d look weird. “Amber, really, you can just say whatever’s on your mind.”

“Oh, uhm, well you probably won’t want to but… I’m gonna be in Ponyville for a few days, and I was wondering if you maybe like, wanted to go out for dinner sometime.”

Fluttershy blinked like a few times. “Do you mean… like a date?”

“You know what? Forget that. There’s no way somepony like you would want to do that.” Amber began to walk away.

Fluttershy hopped off her stool. “Amber, wait!” The brown pegasus turned towards her, her eyes wide. “I’d love to meet up with you again, but just as friends. If that’s okay with you?”

“Oh. Of course!” Amber’s smile again proved infectious, as Fluttershy caught it too. “That’s totally cool. And I should have known somepony like you wouldn’t be, you know.”

Fluttershy’s smile faded. ‘There’s no way somepony like her could be like me.’ How many times had she felt like that? She knew Twilight wouldn’t like it, but she couldn’t let Amber feel alone. “That’s not it. Actually, I am a… Well, I already have a marefriend.”

Amber’s eyes went wide and she broke into a huge grin. “Woah, really? That’s so cool! I never knew that.”

“Well, we’re actually kind of secretly dating,” Fluttershy said.

Even though the car was empty, Amber dropped her voice. “Sweet Celestia, is it Princess Twilight?”

Fluttershy gave the tiniest of nods. “But please please please don’t tell anypony!”

“I won’t say a word. Trust me, I know what it’s like to not want everypony to know about you.” Amber looked sad for a moment before glancing at the clock. “Holy smokes, I’m gonna be late! Uhm, would it be cool if I went to see you tomorrow, maybe around lunch?”

“Of course. I live in a cottage on the outskirts of town. I’m sure pretty much anypony in town could give you directions.”

“Got it! I’ll be there, and thank you again.” She rushed out with her cart. Fluttershy smiled to herself as she walked back to the room, feeling like she finally understood how Rainbow felt around Scootaloo.

Fluttershy pushed open the door and sat next to Twilight.

“Hey, Shy. I was about to go looking for you. You were gone so long, you had me worried. Is everything okay?” Twilight kept her tone light, no doubt not wanting to further upset Fluttershy.

Fluttershy found she was still angry, much more than she had realized before entering. “I’m fine,” she said in a tone that said she wasn’t.

“Oh, okay,” Twilight said. She tapped her hooves together for a moment. “Listen, Shy, I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to make you upset. But I can’t avoid whatever it was I did in the future if you don’t talk to me about it.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Fluttershy said.

“Okay,” Twilight said. She was quiet for a moment. “So, what’d you do while you were out?”

Fluttershy would have been content to wait in silence, but she could appreciate Twilight trying to start a friendly conversation. “Well, I talked to Amber Glow, the mare who took our tickets when we came in.”

“That’s nice. So, did you make a new friend?”

“Yeah, she was really nice.” Fluttershy giggled. “Actually, she asked me out on a date.”

“What?” Twilight said, a little too loudly. Even Spike jumped before staring resolutely out the window. “Well, what did you say?”

Fluttershy shook her head in disbelief. Didn’t Twilight trust her? “I said no, of course. What did you think I’d say?”

Twilight smiled a little and looked off to the side. “Yeah, I guess that was a dumb question.”

“We’re meeting for lunch tomorrow if you want to meet her.”

“You’re what!?” Twilight bolted upright and turned back to face Fluttershy. “Why are you meeting her for lunch? You said you told her no!”

“I said no to the date, not to being her friend,” Fluttershy said. “I don’t see what the problem is.”

“You’re meeting a pony who asked you out for lunch. How is that not a date?”

“Because it’s not a date? I meet friends for lunch all the time. If it was a date, why would I invite you? Do you really think I even want to date somepony else?”

Neither of them even noticed Spike slip out the door.

“I don’t know.” Twilight turned away from Fluttershy. “This isn’t exactly convincing me otherwise.”

“Excuse me?” Fluttershy recoiled at the comment. “How could you even say that? I love you, I don’t want to be with anyone else.”

Twilight turned to her with a scowl. “Are you sure about that? Because sometimes I wonder if you wouldn’t rather be dating Rarity.”

“What?” Fluttershy stood up. “I do not love Rarity. I would not rather be with Rarity. You’re being unreasonable.”

“I’m being unreasonable? I’m not the one with a date tomorrow! I’m not the one who ran off in front of the press in the first place, and who might have blown our cover!”

“It’s not a date! Although if it was, it’d be nice to have somepony who isn’t afraid to be seen in public with me. I’m sick of being your dirty little secret!”

“You think I’m happy like this? That I want to stay hidden from everypony? No! I want to be able to tell everypony just as much as you do, but we just can’t right now.”

“When can we? What, if we get married? After that? Am I going to be your secret bride?”

“Of course not! I just need some time to figure everything out!”

“You’ll always need time! I’m tired of hiding it. I’m done. You do what you want, but I don’t care who knows about me anymore. From now on, I’m not hiding that I like mares.”

“No way. You can’t just spring that on me!”

“What, I can’t even tell ponies about myself now? I’m sorry if you have a problem with it, but I’m tired of being ashamed of that part of me.”

“Fluttershy, you can’t even say you’re a lesbian. I’m not the one with a problem!”

“It doesn’t matter what you call yourself if you never tell anypony.”

“If ponies know about you, they’ll wonder every time we’re together; it’s too suspicious.”

“I’m sorry Twilight, but not every decision I make will revolve around you. This is about me and what I need to do for my life!”

“Well, I’m sorry for thinking I was a part of that!”

“You are! You’re the most important part of it, but you’re still just one part. I need to do this, Twilight. Why can’t you support me?”

“I do support you!”

“Yelling at me isn’t supporting me!”

Twilight inhaled to yell again, then caught herself. “I do support you,” she said much calmer. “I understand why you want to come out, but please, give me some time. I don’t mean forever, just a few days to think about things. And then we’ll talk about this again, calmly.”

Fluttershy kind of wished they were still yelling. She knew she’d never be able to out reason Twilight in a calm discussion. She sighed. “Think about what you need to. But one way or another, I’m tired of pretending there’s something wrong with me.” She walked towards the door.

“Fluttershy, wait. You don’t have to go. Stay here with me. I promise I won’t try to argue anymore. And if you really want to be alone, I’ll leave.”

Fluttershy turned around and glared at Twilight. “Why? Are you afraid I’m going to leave with somepony else?”

“That’s not –” Twilight shook her head as she realized her tone was getting defensive. She softened it before continuing. “That’s not what I said. I just don’t want you to feel like you have to go.”

“Sorry, but I have to find Amber and tell her my jealous lover said I’m not allowed to be her friend.” She flung open the door and didn’t listen to Twilight’s reply.

She walked aimlessly through the train cars, scarcely even noticing where she was going. She moved from car to car, not bothering to stop to talk with anyone. All the while, thoughts of Twilight and of the argument ran through her mind.

It wasn’t like she didn’t see what Twilight was saying, but she didn’t understand how Twilight couldn’t see her point. She wasn’t even talking about coming out about having a marefriend, only that she liked mares. And how often did a question like that even come up?

Eventually she found herself in a transport car that only had a few crates in it. She laid down next to one and fumed quietly. Who was Twilight to tell her what to do with her life?

“Fluttershy?” She turned to look behind her and saw Spike standing next to her nervously twiddling his claws.

“Oh, hi, Spike. Sorry for, uhm… everything back there.”

“It’s okay.” Spike sat down next to her. “I just wanted to make sure you’re alright.”

“Aww, that’s very sweet of you.” Fluttershy nuzzled the little dragon. “I’ll be fine, but could you check on Twilight for me?”

“Alright, but, uhm…” Spike played with his claws some more. “I know Twilight’s stubborn, and she gets too worried about stuff, and she’s being kinda selfish right now, but I know she’ll come around. She really loves you, you know. Well, we both do.” He threw his arms around her. Taken by surprise it took her a second to return the hug.

“I love you too, Spike. Don’t worry, everything will be fine between me and Twilight.”

“Yeah, okay,” he said, letting go of her and kicking at the floor. “I’ll, uh, go find Twilight then.”

As he ran off, Fluttershy thought about how accepting Twilight’s family was of her, and how great Twilight herself usually was. She thought of all the times she woke up next to Twilight. Without ever realizing it, morning had become her favorite part of the day, because she got to wake up next to the most wonderful mare she could imagine.

‘But I don’t really love her, I love the comfort.’

‘I love having somepony to hold me and stop the nightmares.’

‘I do love her, she’s so special to me.’

‘I don’t love her, I love being part of her family.’

‘I love her and her family.’

‘I’ve never loved somepony this much.’

‘I’ll never be able to love her like she loves me.’

‘She can’t really love me.’

‘Nopony could really love me.’

‘She’d be better off without me.’

‘I’d be better off with Rarity…’

Fluttershy cried in the storage room until she felt the train jerk to a stop. ‘How long was I in here for?’ she wondered. Taking a deep breath, she got up and wiped her eyes. Part of her wanted to just fly away so she wouldn’t have to see anypony on the way out.

Unfortunately, she still needed to get her saddlebags. So she dodged around the ponies still collecting their luggage, and made her way back to the room she’d avoided most of the trip. ‘Twilight doesn’t even like traveling in private rooms. She just wants to keep me hidden away.’

Opening the door, she found Twilight sulking in her seat while Spike gathered their belongings. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to grab her bags and leave and ignore Twilight completely, or if she wanted to grab her in the tightest hug she could and apologize.

“I’m sorry,” Twilight said. Her tone was cold and she didn’t look at Fluttershy.

“Me too,” Fluttershy said as she strapped on her bags. She walked over to Spike, who was looking in between the two ponies in apprehension. “I’m going back to my house tonight Spike. I’m sure I’ll see you sometime soon.”

“Okay, just… remember what I said.”

Fluttershy nodded then left the room without saying goodbye to Twilight.

As she walked out a friendly voice called, “Hey, Fluttershy!”

Fluttershy looked up to see Amber Glow standing by the exit with a broom and dustpan. “Hi, Amber,” she said, approaching the bubbly mare.

“So I just met, like, the coolest guy. He used to be a performer in Manehattan, and while we were talking he just starts singing this dramatic opera! I’m just like ‘woah!’ ‘cause we’re talking a stallion as old as my grandpa, but believe me, he’s still got it. Everypony gave him a standing ovation, it was the best.”

Fluttershy giggled in spite of herself. There was something about Amber’s smile that pushed away Fluttershy’s problems. “That sounds wonderful.”

“This job is so cool. Every day there’s a new story to hear, you never know who you’ll run into.” She looked away, but the smile never left her face. “I mean, I never thought I’d actually get to meet you.” It was adorable how the outgoing mare still was kind of shy about meeting her.

‘Where did that come from?’ Fluttershy looked away as she caught what she was thinking. I’m not supposed to think about anypony other than Twilight like that…

“Oh, Princess Twilight!” Amber called out. Fluttershy turned in time to see Twilight walking out the door. Spike said something to her as she left but Fluttershy couldn’t make it out. He shrugged at them and ran after her.

“Uhm, she must not have heard me,” Amber said doubtfully.

Fluttershy sighed. “I’m sorry, she’s not usually like that.”

“Hey, it’s cool. We all have those days, right?” Amber shrugged it off, but her smile wasn’t as bright.

“Yeah.” Fluttershy nodded. “I’m sorry, but I really do need to check on the animals.”

“Oh, of course. See you tomorrow, then?”

Fluttershy nodded. “Yup, I’m looking forward to it already.”

Amber reached out a foreleg to hug her, hesitated, then offered a hoof bump instead. Fluttershy laughed and hugged her anyway. They said goodbye, and Fluttershy walked off the train.

The walk back home seemed exceptionally lonely. She kept thinking about Twilight not wanting her to see Amber Glow. Part of her felt upset at Twilight for blowing the whole thing out of proportion, but part of her wondered if Twilight had a point. She might as well not deny it to herself, she was attracted to Amber, at least a little bit.

‘It’s not like I love her or anything. I don’t even have a crush on her! What’s wrong with thinking another mare is cute?’ one half of her rationalized.

‘Twilight’s right, I shouldn’t feel this way. I should only have eyes for one pony. Why do I want to get to know Amber so much if I’m faithful to Twilight? the other half of her felt.

Her thoughts conflicted all the way home.

When she arrived, she was surprised to find her light on and her door unlocked. She pushed it open and went inside. “Hello? Is anypony here?”

Applejack’s head popped out from around the kitchen doorframe. “Hey there, sugarcube, welcome back. I hope ya don’t mind me using your kitchen to sit a spell. Those animals got me beat.”

Fluttershy set her bag near the door and walked into the kitchen. “Of course not. Thank you so much for helping me out.” She sat down at the kitchen table, making sure to leave an empty seat between her and Applejack. “I hope they all behaved themselves while I was gone.”

“Not a problem from any of them, except that rabbit,” Applejack said, leaning back in the chair. “Couldn’t hardly get him to sit down to eat a darn thing. I don’t know where he got to now, but he was around here a moment ago.”

Fluttershy sighed. “Sorry, he can be difficult. He’s probably hiding because he’s mad at me for leaving.” While she would have loved to see Angel after being gone all week, she wasn’t in the mood to track him down.

“Heh, I’m just glad it was him and not the bear. So, uh, how’d everything go with Twilight’s folks?”

Fluttershy smiled. She knew Applejack still felt uncomfortable about her and Twilight, but appreciated her acknowledging how important the trip had been for them. “Oh, they were great! Twilight Velvet made me this sweater, and Night Light taught me all kinds of new recipes. Shining Armor and Cadance were there too, and we all played this game called Oubliettes and Ogres. They even got us a full set of everything we need to play here, too.”

“Sounds like y’all had a good time. Gotta say though, I figured you’d be back at Twilight's castle. But I guess I can’t say I blame ya for wantin’ to check on the house first. I know I would.”

“Oh, uhm, I was just gonna stay here tonight, actually,” Fluttershy said, looking off to the side.

“Uh oh, what happened?”

“Oh, nothing, I was just a little homesick is all.” Fluttershy tried to show a casual smile, but Applejack gave her a look that made it clear she wasn’t fooling anypony. “We had a fight.”

“I’m all ears, sugarcube. Tell me all about it.”

As much as Fluttershy appreciated Applejack’s offer to talk, she wasn’t sure how sympathetic her friend would be to her problems. It didn’t escape her attention that Applejack always kept some distance between them ever since Twilight and Fluttershy had come out to her. “It’s nothing serious, we’ve just been spending a lot of time together lately. I think spending the night apart will be good for us.”

Applejack looked unsure. “Well, if you say so, but I –”

She was cut off by a knock at the door. Happy for something else to focus on, Fluttershy quickly answered it, and Rainbow Dash walked in as soon as it was open. “So what happened?”

Fluttershy gave her best I-don’t-know-what-you’re-talking-about smile and said, “What do you mean?”

“Twilight just walked into the castle, looked at everypony, then just locked herself in her bedroom. Spike said I should just come talk to you about it.”

“Everypony?” Fluttershy asked.

“We, ah, kinda had a surprise welcome home party waiting for you at the castle,” Applejack said. “I was planning on taking y’all over there if ya showed up here first.”

Even though she was still upset, Fluttershy felt bad for Twilight. She couldn’t imagine how she would feel if all her friends had come here to see them, and she had shown up by herself.

“Well… alright, I’ll tell you… We got into a fight on the train.” Fluttershy told them about the reporter and the fight about coming out, then she hesitantly told them about Amber Glow and the fight about her. She left out how she felt about Amber.

“So she asked you out, what’s the big deal?” Rainbow said. “It’s not like she knew you had a marefriend."

“She didn’t keep flirting with you after you told her ‘no’, did she?” Applejack asked.

“No, I don’t think she’d do something like that,” Fluttershy said.

“Then I don’t really see the problem either. I mean, maybe ya coulda been a bit more careful with tellin’ Twilight about that part, but she should know you wouldn’t do anythin’ behind her back like that.”

“Yeah!” Rainbow said. “And totally uncool of her to tell you who you can be friends with. Not to mention if you want to come out, that’s your own business.”

“Well, I dunno about that part. Sure, she shouldn’t of yelled at ya, and you do have the right to tell who you want ‘bout that stuff, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable for her to want a few days to think it over first.” Applejack shrugged.

“Of course it is! She just wants to wait until you lose the fire to do it! She knows that in a few days she’ll be able to think of all this stuff to psych you out and not go through with it.”

“I hear what you’re sayin’, but ya gotta remember this decision affects both of them.”


“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised you’d say that,” Rainbow said accusingly, folding her forelegs.

“And just what is that supposed to mean?” Applejack asked defensively.


“You probably don’t even want them to come out anyway.”

“You think I want my friends to keep lying ‘bout something? Me, of all ponies?” Applejack glared at Rainbow. “And don’t you dare accuse me of not sticking by my friends. I just think they should think about this all the way through.”


“Admit it, you just don’t want to be the friend of the gay ponies!” Rainbow pushed a hoof into Applejack’s chest.

Applejack smacked it away and adjusted her hat. “I’ve heard you say a lot of stupid things over the years, but that takes the cake. I don’t care one way or the other about none of that!”


“None of what, AJ? If you’re so accepting then why won’t you even say it? They’re gay. You have gay friends. But I guess saying nothing is better than what you called them when you first found out.”

“I didn’t know it was a bad word! Nopony ever told me that, I didn’t mean nothing by it!”

“Please stop fighting!” Fluttershy had heard enough yelling for the day. She turned around and flew up the stairs, throwing herself into her bed and burying her face in a pillow. She screamed, then began sobbing.

She didn’t even hear the hoofsteps as two ponies stopped in the doorway, unsure of what to say. While they thought about it, a little white bunny hopped between their legs and onto the bed, nuzzling his way into her mane. As she stroked Angel, Fluttershy slowly calmed down.

“Hey, uh… I’m sorry, Shy. That was way uncool,” Rainbow said. “You too, AJ. I’m sorry I said all that stuff.”

“Aw, ‘s okay. I’m sorry to both of you, too. I can’t believe I lost my temper like that.” Applejack bowed her head, hiding her face behind her hat.

“It’s okay, girls. I think I’d just like to be alone for now though.”

“Alright, well… if you need me just let me know,” Rainbow said.

“Everything will work out, sugarcube,” Applejack said. “And you, ya little furball, you’ve been a real pain in the rear all week, so ya better take good care of Fluttershy. I reckon you owe it to both of us now.” Angel stuck out his tongue at the orange pony before returning to hugging Fluttershy.

“Thank you, both of you,” Fluttershy said. “I’ll see you girls later.”

Gingerly the two left the house, while Fluttershy kept petting Angel. She didn’t feel angry, or sad, or upset, or anything really. She just felt drained and stared at the ceiling for longer than she could say.

“I don’t like her hanging out with that rainbow pony. She’s gonna turn her into a faggot.”

“Come on, honey, she’s eight years old. They don’t even like colts yet, let alone fillies.”

“Look, it’s not even just the rainbow thing. I did always wondered about Blaze, but at least he acts like a stallion. But his daughter’s been fighting with colts, and actually winning. Just listen to her talk, for crying out loud. She might not be old enough yet, but mark my words, the girl’s gonna ruin our daughter.”

“Fluttershy’s friend is fighting? Oh dear…”

“She’s uncontrollable. Blaze would be better off keeping that girl hidden away. I don’t want to see her around the house anymore.”

Fluttershy got out of bed. She looked in the mirror. Her eyes were completely bloodshot, her mane was a crazy mess, and her fur was matted down from crying all day. She went to the bathroom to wash her face. As she toweled off and checked her reflection, she frowned. Still a mess, but she wasn’t planning on seeing anypony else that night. She walked down to the kitchen.

Sometimes she thought it was funny. Everypony always thought Rainbow Dash was the questionable one, but nopony really suspected Fluttershy. It didn’t seem funny right now. ‘…better off keeping that girl hidden away.’

Fluttershy pulled out a tea bag and then put it back. She really didn’t want to go back to her bedroom. Instead, she pulled out Rainbow’s coffee and turned on the stove.

‘She’s gonna turn her into a faggot.’ Fluttershy didn’t usually think about things like what made a pony like mares or stallions. But she knew having a friend who liked mares couldn’t change her sexuality. If there was one thing that caused Fluttershy to not be attracted to stallions, it wasn’t Rainbow. Sometimes she found that funny, too.

Once she was done making the coffee she turned off the stove and poured a mug, adding milk and sugar. She didn’t bother emptying the pot, leaving the remaining coffee to sit. She sat down and took a sip, scrunching up her face at the taste of it. She really hated coffee. Still, she kept drinking, even when the occasional tear fell in.

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