• Published 4th Aug 2012
  • 4,099 Views, 82 Comments

A Glasshouse Butterfly - littlerobotbird



A shippy bit of nonsense featuring Fluttershy and a silly twist.

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3 ~ The Afternoon Sprint

Fluttershy trotted quickly through the streets, chewing on her lower lip as she swung her head from right to left, searching for any sign of her still elusive other self.

Oh dear, oh dear... went the whispered mantra as she wracked her brain over where her wayward charge had gone. It’s all my fault if... if… oh, dear, what if somepony sees her? What if a guardspony sees her?

Her heart quickened as did her steps as her thoughts drifted back to that morning.

How stupid had she been? How selfish? Just lying there in bed, hooves grasping at that warm spot that had come to be such a familiar comfort. She had still been able to smell the strange mix of flour, sugar and gunpowder.

But just how long had she laid there, hoof playing across the still warm spot beside her? How long had she let herself imagine the fantastical reality, that she could trot downstairs at anytime to find the pink pony there with a plate of muffins and kiss on the cheek waiting?

How long had it been before she had realized that reality was still reality and that her new friend was absent?

It must have been nearly noon when she had finally come downstairs, the tears of the prior evening buried as she took stock of the cottage's ground floor with a smile prepared especially for her friend sure to be downcast mood.

But she hadn't been there, downcast or otherwise, and Fluttershy’s heart had lept into her throat to land with a dull thud, lodging itself between larynx and windpipe as she, with hard kick to the flank from a certain lapine friend, tore out of the cottage towards Ponyville and the first place she had thought her lost friend would have gone.

And she had been right.

Late... but right.

Where else could she have gone? Fluttershy wondered to herself. She can't know Ponyville very well except for what I told her about my...

Fluttershy's eyes widened as she came upon Ponyville's bustling Market district where she could see the very top of a familiar building, the noon sun glinting off its ornate merry-go-round facade.

The boutique!

~o~0~o~

Every scrap of a design.

Every half-thought out scrawl of an idea discarded for being beneath her standard of quality.

Every measurement and profile shot from the entirety of the boutique's lifetime, even from prior the unicorn’s time as owner, operator and purveyor of all things fabulous.

She could find any of these seemingly on a whim

But not the measurements she was looking for.

Oh, where did I put them. I know I kept them, the mare bemoaned silently as she sifted through her file cabinet—artfully disguised within an antique armoire—by hoof, the convenience of magic forgotten in her panic save for a casual adjustment of her red spectacles. I simply will not be able to forgive myself should I not be able to find it in ti—

Her thought was interrupted by the chime of the entry bell.

"It will be just a moment," Rarity called out in the sing-song voice she reserved for her clientele, her attention still fully focused on the drawer before her. She jammed her hoof as far as she could into its shadowy depths, thrashing it about in desperation for some loose piece of documentation that had somehow evaded her well-kept filing, but coming up with naught but a warrenful of dust bunnies.

Bleh... disgusting... The unicorn wrinkled her nose, making a note to tidy it up and possibly reorganize it at a later date as she wiped away the dust on a bit of too-green fabric close at hoof. Her face fell, frustrated grimace becoming a scowl.

"Welcome to the Carousel Boutique," she began listlessly as she turned to face her prospective client, guilt weighing heavily upon her. "How may I help—Fluttershy! Darling!"

"Oh, sh-should I come back later?” the pegasus stammered out, falling back onto her rear at the unicorn’s outburst. “I-I'll just go now and—"

"Nonsense!" Rarity gasped out, sweeping the trembling pegasus into her hooves and moving briskly towards the back of the boutique. "It's fortunate that you came back! I daresay almost serendipitous!"

"Fortunate?"

"Most fortunate, dear," Rarity echoed as she rushed the blushing pegasus up onto a pony-sized turntable, a trio of mirrors flanking it. "I’m rather embarrassed to say so, but just as I was about to begin my design—and I assure you again that it will be absolutely gorgeous—I discovered, much to my dismay, that I had misplaced my measurements from the Gala." Fluttershy winced as a measuring tape snaked up her leg, Rarity’s magic seeming to be focused everywhere at once. "Terribly unprofessional of me. Losing such a valued friends measurements and when she has allowed me to partake in her quest for her special somepony on top of it!"

"I—I—"

"Yes, yes, I know, darling! Truly dreadful circumstances! I could scarcely look myself in the mirror tomorrow were I to fail you after you had asked so kindly," Rarity cooed, horn sparking as fabrics of all manner of color and texture began to swirl about them. "Perhaps this is a bit short notice."

"Short notice?"

"Well, tonight is cutting it a bit close if you don't mind me saying so," Rarity intoned, Fluttershy letting out a squeak as her trembling wings were none-too-gently plied open and measured. "Oh, pardon, darling. I know you dislike having them touched so, but trust me, it will be worth it. And Rarity is a mare of her word."

"I…thank you?"

"No, no, no. No 'thank you' until we are done and you are one-hundred and ten—no wait!—one-hundred and twenty percent satisfied!" the unicorn declared as an unadorned ponnequin was yanked roughly to the platform, scraping noisily across the floor. It shimmered and shined as it was squeezed and stretched, taking on a pegasus’s proportions as a pair of wings were pinned carefully to its sides. Meanwhile, Rarity's eyes seemed to never leave her ever growing list of measurements even as she double- and triple-checked the pegasus's inseam again.

As it went on, Fluttershy could feel her heart thudding away in her throat, limbs shivering as she was held still on the slowly turning platform. She was sure that she couldn't take it much longer as a half dozen measuring tapes crawled over her like an army of paper centipedes, passing over her flanks in a steady stream. She thought she might scr—

"And voila! We are done."

"Oh, thank goodness," Fluttershy gasped out, collapsing as the numerous measuring tapes fled to their respective corners of the shop and the fabrics began to sort themselves out into drawers.

"Are you quite alright, dear?" Rarity asked, peering over her spectacles with concern. "Oh, I do hope I haven't overwhelmed you on your big day."

"N-no…I'm just…" Fluttershy paused a moment to compose herself, stepping shakily from the platform to the blessedly stationary floor of the boutique. "Can I ask y—"

“Oh, no! I cannot believe I’ve overlooked it!” Rarity interrupted, flopping to the floor with a dramatic wail. “Your mane!”

“My mane?”

“Of course!” Rarity balked at the question, scissors and curlers floating over to surround the pegasus, turquoise eyes gradually widening. “You certainly cannot have a fabulous ensemble without an equally fabulous mane cut. It simply is not done!”

Fluttershy cowered, the scissors snipping at the air as they drew closer and closer, a curling iron flanking her to the left and curlers to the right.

She was surrounded.

“Let us begin...” Rarity whispered as she stalked towards the now shivering pegasus, flanked by cans of hairspray and tubs of mousse.

Oh, dear...

~o~0~o~

Normally, the excitement of the market around noontide, the bustle of the ponies, the thousand little pieces of conversation swimming about would have been enough to sate a filly's interest.

"AJ... how 'bout now?"

"Not yet, Apple Bloom."

But it seemed to be less and less adequate as the week had worn on.

Tryin' ta get a sellin' cutie mark, my hindquarters, Applejack thought ruefully, ears twitching at the sound of impatient trotting behind her.

"How 'bout—"

Applejack lurched to the side as the filly's hoof hit her haunch. She regained her balance quickly, but shot her little sister a dark look as the apple pyramid she'd been building atop the countertop scattered to the ground in a series of soft thunks.

"Er, sorry, AJ," Apple Bloom shrank down a bit as she lowered back to all fours. "Sweetie was sayin' we might try our hoof at gettin' some dancing cutie marks... I was just tryin' t'practice a little."

Applejack trained her glare on the filly just a moment longer before her resolve softened. "Just don't be practicin' any of them high hoof kicks on my flank, alright?" She gave the filly a reassuring smile.

"Sure thing, sis," Apple Bloom replied quickly, backing away a bit before collapsing into one of the bushels of reserve apples.

Applejack turned her attention back to the street again, watching as another of the sellers packed it in for the day.

Gonna be last mare standin', it looks like, Applejack thought as she scanned the market, hoping, praying one of the ponies passing by to have apples on the mind.

"What about now?"

"Apple Bloom!" Applejack growled in frustration.

"What?" The little filly jerked up in the basket, looking back at her older sister's glare with confusion.

"Ya'll were the one that asked 'bout helpin' me sell today!"

"I know, I know... but I thought I might have a shot at getting my apple selling cutie mark"—She lifted a hoof to wave at the assortment of unsold produce—"and I don't anypony is getting any kind of mark here today."

Applejack sat down on her haunches, rubbing her hooves over her temples. Well, she ain't fibbin', Applejack.

"Bloom... y'all gonna have to learn some patience one day," she began cautiously. "Selling ain't just about...selling."

Apple Bloom cocked an eyebrow.

"What I mean is, you ain't gonna always be lucky, Bloom. Sometimes you gotta wait things out... be persistent."

"But I am persistent!"

Applejack frowned. "Bloom, there's persistent and then there's assault."

"I said I was sorry!"

"And that's the only reason you're still here today. Lucky, Mayor Mare didn't buck the book atcha. She a litigious sort."

"Litigic? She's allergic to reading?"

"Y'll wish." Applejack rolled her eyes, recalling her last run in with Ponyville's rather verbose zoning regulations. "She ain't the sort to take kindly t'misbehavin' fillies an' let's leave it at that."

Apple Bloom just humphed in reply.

"Bloom, I know y'all is sick an' tired of waiting. I was your age once too, y'know. Just got to be patient."

"Aww, that's what you always say..." Apple Bloom groaned, collapsing back into the bushel, scattering a few apples. "'Just keep workin' hard and you'll get your mark,'" she said, dropping her voice an octave as she waved her forelegs about dismissively. "I've been workin' hard for months, sis! All three of us!"

"Bloom..."

"We've tried joinin' the road crew, gardening, hedge trimmin’, plumbin’, phone repair, subterfugery—whatever the hay that means—and that's just this last weekend!"—the little filly blew her mane out of her eyes—"We're runnin' out of ideas, AJ!"

"Bloom..." Applejack trotted over the languishing filly and giving her mane a gentle brush with her hoof. "Have y'all considered focusing on just one thing? Might be surprised what a little bit of time'll do."

"She's right!"

Applejack yelped, foreleg catching on hindleg as she spun to face the sudden voice, flipping herself right into the bushel beside Apple Bloom with a loud squish.

"Fluttershy!" Applejack cried out in surprise as the pegasus peered down at her, obviously suppressing a chuckle.

"Oh, hi, Fluttershy..." Apple Bloom murmured dejectedly.

"Hi—" a snort cut her off, Fluttershy's eyes bulging a moment as she visibly swallowed her snicker—"Oh, I mean, hello, Applejack. Um, Apple Bloom?"

"What the hay are you doin', 'Shy? Scared me near half to death there, sneakin' up like that." Applejack jabbed a hoof accusingly at the red-faced pegasus. "I'd expect that from Pinkie or Dash, not you!"

"Oh! Really? Thank you!" Fluttershy brightened up, grinning widely.

"Uh... that weren't a compliment..." Applejack stated, but the pegasus seemed undeterred.

"Oh, right. But anyways, you're right, you know." Fluttershy stated with a knowing nod of her head before turning to Apple Bloom. "She's right, you know."

"Yeah, yeah, that's what all you 'big' ponies say. Be patient, yadda yadda. Stick with it, blah blah." She waved a dismissive hoof at the pair of older ponies. "I don' wanna be patient," Apple Bloom grumbled, sinking into the bushel a bit. She closed her eyes a moment before hot breath blowing in her face caused her to open them again, her vision filled with a pair of turquoise eyes.

"But she's r-i-g-h-t right! If you want to get super good at anything you need to work at it! You need to work at it haaaaaard..."

"That sounds... um... hard..." Apple Bloom sputtered, hoping for a moment to disappear beneath the apples as the pegasus smiled eerily at her.

"It is!" Fluttershy chirped, snapping back with a little hop. "But it's totally worth it! Even if you don't get a cutie mark!"

"Even if I don't... wuh-huh?" Apple Bloom gaped as she slowly worked herself out of the bushel. "But what point is there if you don't get a cutie mark? That's just silly! You're silly, Fluttershy!"

"Nuh uh!" Fluttershy stuck her tongue out at the filly.

"Yuh huh!" Apple Bloom returned the gesture.

The... what... Applejack thought, still stewing in her bushel of partially sauced apple.

"It is! It's silly!"

"No, it's not! It's not! It's not!"

"Ain't no point!"

"Yes there—ghmeris!" Fluttershy shot back around the orange hoof over her muzzle before glancing up at its partner taking her temperature.

"Y'all feeling alright, Fluttershy?"

"Frine," came the garbled reply.

"O...kay..." Applejack took a step back, before turning to the angrily pacing Apple Bloom. "Bloom, what we're trying to say is that maybe y'all are goin' about a little too lackadaisylike. I mean, think if you'd gone about fixin' the clubhouse like this. You would've never even gotten the wall patched up running around all reckless like a chicken with its head cu—" Applejack's jaw snapped shut with a loud clack, a blush overtaking her features. "Um... sorry there, sugarcube."

"For what?"

Applejack blinked. "Um... nothin' really, I suppose. Just, y'know, chickens. Know y'all still got Miss Cluckington in yer thoughts and all."

The pegasus thought on this a moment. "Okay." She smiled.

"Uh...anyways, why don't you three settle on something and work at it good an' hard for a week or so. See how things go."

"I... I guess we'll at least run out of ideas slower this way." Apple Bloom huffed, kicking at the dirt. "Hey! Maybe we could try some of our old ideas another try!"

"There ya go, Bloom. Now how 'bout you get along," Applejack said, smiling as she willed the blush to leave her face. Quick like, Bloom, while I still got some dignity.

"I know what we should try again! Cutie Mark Creature Catchers!" With that, Apple Bloom shot off.

"Y'all jus' keep out of Everfree, y'hear!"

"We will!" came the shouted reply as the little filly tore around a distant corner towards the Ponyville basin.

"Y'all better." Applejack grimaced.

"She seems nice."

Applejack started, skin rippling as she forced her nerves to settle themselves.

"Oh, um... sorry. I'll be...um... quieter..." Fluttershy scooted back from her spot just little bit too close to the apple farmer.

"Sorry, 'Shy. Just a little on edge with everything goin' on."

Fluttershy cocked her head to the side. "Is something wrong?"

"Y'know, just all the guards, Twilight and such... ain't been too good for business if you know what I mean." Fluttershy simply nodded along, eyes tracking a patrol passing by, one of her wings rustling ever so slightly. "Anyways, what can I do ya for, Fluttershy? The usual?"

"Oh, right! I have a list!" Fluttershy exclaimed, jamming a hoof into her saddlebag and thrusting a piece of paper into Applejack's face.

"Um... Fluttershy, this is a recipe."

"Yes."

"For"—the earth pony glance at the page, clearly torn out of a cookbook judging by the jagged edge—"'Slice of Love Cake'?"

"It's going to be fantastic!"

"You... you havin' yourself a git t'gether?"

Fluttershy's eyes widened. "Oh, no it's not for me! I m-mean it is for me, but not m-me or not just me, I mean." The pegasus quickly jammed a hoof into her uncooperative maw, smiling as widely as she could around the appendage.

"Well, somepony got a case of the jitters, don't she?" Applejack asked with a grin, giving the pegasus a playful jab with her elbow. "Who's the lucky somepony?"

"Oh, I couldn't say. I'm not supposed to!" Fluttershy eyes danced back and forth in a panic, cheeks flushed a tomato red.

"Aw, you know I wouldn't spill the beans." Fluttershy simply shook her head. "Alright, suit yerself. Now lessee about this cake."

Fluttershy breathed a sigh of relief, slumping to the ground as Applejack read over the ingredients list.

"Well, ain't nothin' too exotic in this, if you have the time, I could probably help you get it all together."

"Oh that'd be gre... oh, but I have so many other things still left!" The pegasus shot to her hooves, taking up a nervous half trot around the cart. "I still have to go back for a dress, get picnic supplies, talk to the weather ponies and Twilight Sparkle! Oh my, oh my, oh my..."

"Whoa there, sugarcube," Applejack said, sticking out a foreleg to halt the pegasus's nervous gait. "No worries, Fluttershy. I'm jus' about done here. I'll get all yer ingredients and drop them by your cottage tonight, okay?"

"Really?" the pegasus gasped. "Thank you!"

Applejack reared up as the pegasus thrust her hooves around her in a bone rattling hug.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" she said, grip tightening with each repetition.

"No... problem," Applejack grunted, breaking the pegasus's grip and settling both of them back on all fours. "Shoot. Reckon I could even come over and get it ready for you."

See this pony fer myself while I'm at it, she thought with a soft smirk.

"Omigosh! You will?" Fluttershy's eyes positively glistened with liquid joy at the offer.

"O' course I will. Would I lie to you?"

"Thank you!"

Applejack cringed, expecting another rib twisting hug from the pegasus.

Fluttershy gasped as the distant bell tower rang out the hour. "Oh, I'm late! Thank you, thank you, thank you!" she called out as she skipped away down the semi-crowd market, looping around a rather confused set of royal guardsponies.

"You're welcome, you're welcome, you're welcome!" Applejack called back at the vanishing pony with a chuckle, the pegasus's enthusiasm infectious.

Well, at least I’ll have something to do tonight, an’ who knows? Maybe Fluttershy finally found herself somepony special. Applejack smiled at the thought before giggling at another. Rarity's going to have a right fit! Her little Fluttershy all grown up an’ datin’!

~o~0~o~

The sun was shining, there was hardly a cloud in the sky and she wasn't due for her shift for another two hours.

The perfect time for a nap. Rainbow Dash pushed her carefully selected cloud towards one of the quieter corners of Ponyville before flopping onto it, tufts of white peeling away from the impact before fading into nothingness.

Carefully, she molded the cloud beneath her, shifting its fluff about for maximum comfort and lateral napitudinal strength.

Just a little more underneath and…perfect! She grinned as she snuggled herself into its oh-so-fluffy comforts.

She lay there quietly for a moment, feeling the cool breeze flow over her, rustling her feathers and balancing out the noontime sun heat as it beat down upon the town. She blinked once, twice before scanning the town. As much as she liked naps, she did prefer to keep an eye on Ponyville just in case.

A nap interrupted was almost worse than no nap after all.

Hunh… Fluttershy sure looks energetic today... she thought to herself as her eye trailed over the market. Like... really, super energetic.

As Rainbow watched, the yellow-coated pegasus hopped and skipped through the market, going from stall to stall with a bright smile on her face even do a little hop around a pair of royal guardsponies.

Maybe she kept that monster's book after all… did her some good. Dunno what Rares and Pinkie were talking about...

Rainbow sat up for a moment to stretch and yawn, listening to the satisfying pops of her spine before settling back down. She looked down to find the pink-maned pegasus zipping through the rest of the market at speeds that gave even the Dashter the teeniest twinges of a echo of jealousy.

Just the teeniest tiniest ones.

Heh…maybe we'll get to try for the record again this year. Thousand wingpower no prob, she thought with a sleepy chuckle.

Rolling onto her back, she closed her eyes for a proper nap only to have them thrown back open by the slamming of a door below.

The hay?! Can't a weathermare get her midafternoon z's?! She grumbled, flipping over and poking her head through the cloud to glare at the source of the disturbance: Rarity's boutique.

"Wait a sec..." Rainbow muttered as she watched Fluttershy, hair full of curlers and eyes full of panic, trotting back and forth nervously in front of the boutique.

Rainbow twisted herself up, glancing back at the market, but she couldn't find any sign of the yellow pegasus she had seen. She looked back at the boutique to find Rarity on the porch, yelling something after Fluttershy as the pegasus streaked down the street, leaving behind a trail of curlers left in her wake.

Rainbow stared for a moment before flipping herself back up onto the cloud.

"Hunh..." she muttered as she glanced between the market and the boutique where Rarity had solemnly begun to collect her curlers from the dirt road.

Well…should probably help... she thought, giving the cloud a quick jab of her hoof before floating towards Rarity.

The cyan pegasus gave the market one last glance before it disappeared from her view.

Eh…it was probably Twister or somepony else…that'd explain the skipping at least... she reasoned silently as she alighted upon the ground just behind her prim and proper friend.

"Heya, Rares, need some help?"

"Oh, Rainbow Dash!" Rarity started in shock before settling back down, giving the cyan pegasus a disappointed pout. "You are surely going to give somepony a heart attack sneaking up like that."

Rainbow simply nickered, grabbing a pair of curlers from the ground, tossing them into the air and catching each on a feather. "I'll take that as a compliment on my awesome stealthiness."

"Take it however you like, darling," Rarity replied with a knowing smirk before resuming her work.

They scavenged quietly hardly a moment before Rainbow broke the silence.

"So...um…what was up with Fluttershy?"

Rarity halted her search, straightening up. She looked over to Rainbow, biting her lip. "Well…it is perhaps a somewhat personal matter, but…" Rarity put a hoof to her chin. "You've certainly known our dear Fluttershy long enough so I'm sure there's no harm,” she rationalized quickly, sidling up to Rainbow Dash.

"Uh... well yeah. I mean, we went to flight camp together and all..." Rainbow leaned a bit away from Rarity, the grin on the unicorn's face seeming just a bit too wide for the pegasus.

"Well," Rarity began, dropping her voice to a whisper, "It seems that our darling Fluttershy finally has herself a special somepony she's looking forward to—how shall I put it?—‘courting' this very night!"

"Really?" Rainbow perked up at the news.

"I know! I know! It's so exciting and beautiful and wonderful!" Rarity gave a gleeful little hop, eyes alight with barely restrained joy. "I've been waiting for this for, oh, I don’t even know how long!"

"Why?" Rainbow asked, taking a step away from the bouncing unicorn. “I mean... it was bound to happen sooner or later, right?”

"Oh come now, Rainbow. You of all ponies are certainly aware of her…insecurities, regarding romance... other ponies... most things."

"Well…I guess I've never really thought much about it…but yeah…I guess Fluttershy is kinda…well…shy."

"To put it lightly, darling! She is the very definition!" Rarity declared, Rainbow becoming acutely aware of how loud they were becoming as a blush curled across the pegasus’s face. "And that is precisely why this night has to be absolutely perfect."

"Yeah…I guess I can't see Flutters handling stormy skies very well..."

"Yes and..." Rarity fell silent a moment, her eyes glancing skywards before settling on Rainbow Dash. "Stormy skies... oh… oh! That is simply brilliant, Rainbow Dash!"

"H-hunh?" Rainbow stammered, taking a step back from the now downright maniacally grinning unicorn.

"Oh, Rainbow, darling!" Rarity cried out, snapping the pegasus up into a hug of fierce, excited nuzzling. "I’ve just had the most brilliant idea for tonight and you are just the mare for the job!"

“Uh... awesome?”

~o~0~o~

Held within a sparkling cloud of magenta magic, a vial half filled with off-white mixture floated across the table. The mare's purple eyes glared intently from behind her protective goggles at it as she spun it around before her.

Three-hundred and fifty milliliters of bihydroalicol pegasulfite mix—the tipped tipped over, emptying its contents into a rather large beaker set over a gently burning flame—Check!

The vial was discarded into a rather full bin beside the table with a clack of glass, magenta magic playing across a bookcase filled to the brim with chemicals, scrolls and manuals for her next ingredient.

Oh, where is it? She frowned, tilting up her goggles with a hoof as she stomped over to the bookcase. Heterosulfide Manganese… Borax... L-cysteine... Cochineal... juniper berries… brown sugar?

"The hay?" the unicorn gasped aloud as she ran down the shelf of carefully organized and labeled ingredients. "Flour? Frosting?"

Oh, he is so grounded if he’s been baking in the lab again...

"Spike!" she shouted at the top of her lungs, glaring up the long stairway to the basement door. "Spike! What'd you do with my ingredients?!"

"I didn't do anything with them, Twilight!" came the indignant reply as the baby dragon appeared at the top of the stairs, besmocked in a soft yellow apron. "Now can I get back to making your lunch now?"

"Spike, you've been down here again, haven't you?" Twilight accused. “Don’t lie to me.”

"Yeah, of course," Spike answered, crossing his arms as he matched Twilight glare for a glare. "Bringing you your meals. Making sure you actually get some sleep. Making sure you don't blow yourself up from being overtired and overstressed!"

"I..." Twilight bit her lip, letting her goggles snap back into place.

"Twilight…take a break."

"But I'm just so close!"

"That's what you said yesterday, Twi."

"But I mean it this time!"

"And that's what you said the day before that."

"I..." She swore for a moment she tasted copper. "I have to finish this, Spike."

"I know…I know..." Spike replied with a roll of his eyes. "The Sodium Biphosphate is on the table next to the Carbon Dihexochloride."

Twilight glanced at the table to find that it indeed was there. "Right where I left them." The sound of hoof contacting skull echoed in the basement.

"Yep.” He watched the bag of sugar that lazily floated behind her. “And the flour and frosting next to them is leftovers from your last sleepover with Pinkie and Rainbow Dash.”

“Oh...” Twilight blushed. “Right...”

“Yeah... right.” He tapped a claw angrily against his arm, stewing for a moment before it burst out of him. “It’s been weeks, Twi!”

“This is important, Spike!”

“More important than your health?”

“Yes!” Twilight shouted instinctively before biting her lip. “Well... it’s important. You know how on alert the guard is... how anxious everypony is. If I can finish this, everypony will be able to relax again.”

“Yeah... maybe even you,” Spike huffed.

"Sorry, Spike...I'll be right up just after I finish with this one last formula."

"You said that three days ago," Spike growled, turning to the leave before turning right back. "Y'know, Applejack came by this morning asking if you were still alive and kicking or not. You're starting to worry someponies, y’know…somedragons too."

"One last formula. I promise, Spike," Twilight said with a reassuring smile.

Spike simply shrugged, anger spent, and turned to exit the basement.

"Hey, Spikey?"

"Yeah, Twi?"

"How about we go out for hayfries tonight? I'll even get you a Sapphire Surprise Sundae at Sugarcube Corner."

“Sapphire... Surprise?” Spike echoed, Twilight giggling as she saw a bead of saliva forming in the corner of his mouth, tongue lolling out slightly."You promise?"

"I Pinkie Pie promise."

"Alright," Spike relented, giving the overtired unicorn a smile. "Just don't blow yourself up before we go, ‘kay?"

"Okay, Spike," Twilight replied with a chuckle, watching the little dragon disappear from view before turning back to her lab.

Ugh...can't believe I misplaced it... again…and blamed Spike...again... Twilight sighed as she levitated the last few ingredients over to the burner. But it'll all be worth it if this works. Now… just have to be careful...

~o~0~o~

"She had better not be fibbing..." Spike muttered to himself as he meandered into the library's kitchen, wiping away the stray bit of saliva that had formed on his lips at the mention of the oh-so-delectably-decadent Sapphire Surprise Sundae. Such things were not to be spoken of in vain.

Mrs. Cake is just getting so good with those gemcakes…her cutie mark should be a sapphire sundae instead of those boring ol' cupcakes, Spike thought to himself as the bead reformed itself again in the corner of his mouth. Ugh, control, Spike, control. Can't have ponies seeing you drooling like that.

Spike shook the images of sapphires and blueberry ice cream from his mind and hopped up onto the countertop where the ingredients of their lunchtime salad lay half-prepared. It was going to be a rather late lunch at this point, he thought as he grabbed a knife from a drawer.

Or dinner if Twi doesn't get herself out of that basement sometime soon!

Just as he held the knife over a carrot, Spike heard the doorbell ring.

Guh…can't anypony read? He grimaced, stabbing the knife into the chopping board angrily and jumping back down to the floor. “Closed for lunch.” Really not that hard to understand.

"Spiiiiiiike!"

"Already getting it, Twilight!" Spike yelled back preemptively as he trudged towards the door. He opened it in a huff, fully prepared himself to read whomever was there the riot act. "We're clo—"

"Um…hi."

He snapped his mouth shut immediately and painfully.

"Oh…uh, hey, Fluttershy," Spike mumbled as he rubbed his sore jaw.

"Hiya, Spike," the pegasus replied, standing in the doorway, digging at the ground with forehoof.

"Uh…fancy seeing you here?"

"Yes."

Spike blinked.

"Um…did you want to come in?"

"Don't mind if I do!" Fluttershy perked up suddenly, trotting past the baby dragon before stopping stock-still just within the library. "Oh, wow…that's a lot of books." Her eyes shined as the pegasus took in the vast collection.

"Well, it is a library," Spike replied, closing the door. "You feeling alright?"

"Lots of ponies have been asking that today..." the pegasus murmured, touching a hoof to her chin before turning her attention back to the books, moving down the line as her hoof trailed over their titles.

"Well…you seem a little…I dunno…off?"

"Oh?" she tilted her head thoughtfully. She walked over and plopped down in front of Spike, looking down expectantly.

"Yeah…I guess. Usually, you're not this up."

"Up?"

"Y'know, like, energetic…unless it's an animal thing… or, uh, me that one time I guess..." Spike recalled with a blush the attention the pegasus had lavished upon him in their first meetings.

"Oh…so I should be more…down?" she asked, voice dropping into a lower register.

"Yeah—I mean, no…well…just more, y'know... Fluttershy-y..." Spike paused a moment. "This conversation got weird fast."

"Yes," she agreed with a smile.

Spike found himself reduced to simply staring at the pegasus once more, jaw slackening.

She simply smiled back.

"So…anyways. What'd you need, Fluttershy?"

"Oh, right, silly me!" the pegasus giggled before catching herself. "Oh…I mean…right…I'm sorry, I forgot."

"Uh…that's okay?"

"Well... was just wondering if there were any”—she coughed, the tone taking its toll on her voice—“potion books."

"Well, yeah, tons," Spike replied, eyebrow cocked. "I think Twilight's probably tripled the inventory in the last month alone. Anything in particular?"

"Oh, well, uh..." the pegasus sputtered, making a show of her eyes darting back and forth nervously. "I was hoping that you had a potion..." She paused a moment, watching the baby dragon’s face for something.

"Yeah...?"

"A potion... that might make a shy pony less... shy?"

"Oh… well... I could check with—" Spike found himself cut off suddenly as the tree gave a violent heave. "Um… one moment."

Spike ran to the basement door to find green-tinged smoke curling up from the basement, the sound of somepony coughing violently below echoing up.

"Twilight! Twilight, are you okay?!" he shouted down, stepping nervously into the greenish haze.

"I'm"—the fit of coughs continued—"I'm okay, Spike. Was just a little”—another round of hacks and wheezes—“a little bit off with my measurements."

Spike watched as a magenta glow shimmered from within the verdent fog, an arcane wind suddenly swirling into life.

Within moments, the smoke was sucked into a vortex, a large jug levitating towards the bottom of it. Slowly, carefully the smoke was suctioned into the jug before a stopper wedged into place.

"Whew…there..." Twilight said with a sheepish grin as she tilted up her goggles before turning to find Spike with his claws clasped over his mouth, body trembling with laughter. "What? What is it? Something wrong with my mane?"

"Haha! Not just your mane!" Spike shouted out before breaking out in full laughter. Twilight brought over a mirror to find herself, save a pair of spots around her eyes, completely covered in greenish-gray ash. She felt a giggle start in her belly as she tilted to reveal her mane to be in a sort of a singed mohawk.

Good thing Rarity isn't here. She'd faint from the shock of my coiffure. Twilight smirked at the thought.

"You look ridiculous!"

Twilight had to agree as she shrugged off her lab clothes and made sure the lab didn't have any still smoldering fires to take care of. With a chuckle, she trotted up the stairs, collecting the still laughing dragon as she did so.

"Yes I do, Spike. Now—what was that?" she wondered aloud as a flashing, sparkling green light filled the top of the stairs for a moment.

"Oh, yeah, Fluttershy came by," Spike told her through gasped as his chuckles subsided. "She was looking for an anti-shy potion or something."

"Anti-shy?" Twilight echoed as she tried to smooth out her singed mane as best she could before stepping into the library's main floor. "Fluttershy?"

The library seemed to be deserted.

"Did she leave?"

"She was here a second ago."

"Oh, hi, Twilight!" came a shrill cry from the stairs.

"Oh, Fluttershy, what happened?" Twilight gasped as she took in the state of the pegasus. Her hooves were covered in dust and dirt, her mane a tangled mess with a few curlers still tangled in the long pink locks. She seemed to be completely out of breath as she stood huffing at the top of the stairs.

"Oh, I'm fine! Perfectly fine!" Fluttershy nearly shouted, eyes wild.

"I…you don't look fine..."

"Well, looks can be deceiving, can't they?" Fluttershy stated rather loudly before her face suddenly dropped. "Oh, I'm sorry, Twilight. It's just been, um, one of those days, you know?"

Twilight looked towards the basement. "Yeah…I'm having one myself."

"Oh, but I have to go now, okay?"

"Wait!" Twilight shouted as the pegasus disappeared.

"Yes?" Fluttershy came back into view, smiling even as her right eye gave the subtlest of twitches.

"I, uh… anti-shy potion, right?"

"What?" Fluttershy looked upstairs for a moment before returning her attentions to the unicorn. "Oh, um, yes?"

"Well, there aren't any really any potions like that... or spells for that matter. Manipulating the basic personality profile of a pony has been outlawed since the 2nd Discordian era," Twilight explained, eyes closed as she recalled her last reading of Chaos and Crimes: An Equestrian History. She opened her eyes to find the pegasus trotting nervously in place. "Oh... um... but if you're feeling really nervous..." she trailed off a moment before brightening up. Her horn lit up and a small, round tin floated from the kitchen on up the stairs where Fluttershy grasped it with a wing. "You should absolutely try some Zebrican tea. It's the perfect relaxant for nerves. I’ve even read that it makes a great meditation aide as well. It’s almost supernatural how effective it is."

"I…um…thank you, Twilight," Fluttershy replied with a genuine smile, her twitch seeming to settle somewhat as examined the tin. "I, uh, have to go now. Um…critters to feed. You don't mind me, um, using your balcony, do you?"

"Not at all, Fluttershy," Twilight answered with a smile. "It was good to see you."

"It was good to see you too, Twilight.” She disappeared for a moment before reappearing, motherly glare firmly in place. “And don't stay cooped up in that basement too long. There's a whole wide world that's missing you," she advised before disappearing once more, the sounds of hooves on wood and the opening and closing of an upstairs door echoing down the stairs.

"Told you ponies were worried," Spike muttered, arms crossed as he sat up on Twilight's back.

"And you were right, Spike. It's definitely time for a break," Twilight replied, giving the dragon a quick nuzzle, staining his cheek with soot. The dragon grimaced and wiped off the soot as best he could.

“Hey!” he gasped out before a thought struck him. “Hey... um... wasn’t that just regular chamomile tea?”

“Well... yeah... but on a pony like Fluttershy... the placebo effect can work wonders even beyond magic,” Twilight admitted with a nervous smile. "Now, how about we both get cleaned up so we can get you that sundae I owe you."

"Sounds like a plan to me!"

~o~0~o~

Far away, Fluttershy's cottage sat quiet, most of the animals content to laze about in the warm afternoon sun.

In the bedroom, a certain white rabbit had burrowed his way into the sun-baked comforter for his own midday nap. A content smile of his face, he opened an eye to glance about the room before settling in.

The master of the house—though she would surely balk at the term—had been gone for quite a while, leaving the whole of the cottage to the animals. Angel Bunny knew that this was meant to be a responsibility, maybe even an honor, but the call of the warm comforter had easily rendered his ability to abide the pegasus’s request to maintain the tidiness of her bedroom sanctuary insufficient as he twisted beneath the covers, swirling the wonderfully soft and comfy fabric about himself, incidentally knocking the all pillows to the floor.

The little bunny purred as his body was coated in the bliss of silken sheets.

But no sooner had he closed his eyes then did his ears twitch at a distant cry of forewarning. Burrowing up from the depths of his fluffy cave, he stood stock straight, ears held stiffly as he stared out the window.

He had nary a moment to process the sound as he lept from the bed, taking the comforter and most of the sheets with him as a pair of mostly yellow pegasi crashed through the thankfully still open window and into the bed.

The bed tilted up on its side from the impact before landing on its side with a crash, the pair of pegasi slipping to the floor in the heap of sheets and fortuitously placed pillows.

Downstairs, a cacophony of groans and growls and yips and yaps and twitters and tweets filled the cottage as the animals were stirred by the thunderous sound.

Upstairs, there came a pair of groans as the tangle of bedding, hooves and wings twitched. One of the pegasi thrashed about before successfully extricating itself from the other, bouncing onto the high side of the bed.

"Woo! We should so try that again!" it cried out in a familiar voice in an unfamiliar tone as it stared down at its doppelganger.

"No…le let’s please not," the other murmured, sitting up, eyes dancing about in their sockets.

"Aww…shoot," the first sighed, kicking at the air before the bed suddenly swayed beneath it. “Whoa!” it cried out as the bed slammed back down into its proper place, a perplexed pegasus atop it. "Um...sorry, Fluttershy."

Oh dear, I hope she's oh— Fluttershy cut the thought short. No, you're angry with her, darn it.

Immediately, the imposter found its vision filled with a pair of infuriated turquoise orbs.

"What were you thinking?!" Fluttershy demanded, voice shrill and eyes alight with anger. “Risking yourself... your health?! You took off your bandages and... and wentwent gallivanting all around town! Why?”

"I-I-I," her doppelganger stammered, eyes wide with shock and ears flattened against its skull as it dropped unceremoniously to its belly. "I was just trying to—"

"To what? To get yourself hurt or caught or even worse?!" Fluttershy twitched, pressing her face against her double's. "What if a royal guardspony had seen you? You know they're out looking for changelings? Why would you take such a...a… such a stupid stupid risk?!"

"It wasn't stupid!" the changeling retorted.

"IT WAS!" Fluttershy yelled in response, eyes on the verge of tears. "It was stupid because they could have found you and taken you away to do... Celestia knows what they’d do!"

"I…okay, maybe it was a little stupid..." came the meek reply. "B-but they never would have found me!"

"What? Because you were disguised?" Fluttershy demanded jabbing a hoof at the changelings leg.

"Well, I w—" the words were cut short as the changeling saw black chitin mixed amongst the yellow fur, green smoke peeling off the wound-like spaces as they arced with green energy. "I…don't how—"

The changeling was interrupted by a pair of yellow hooves wrapping tight about it.

"Please," Fluttershy began, voice cracking as a few stray tears dropped into her doppelganger’s mane. "Just…never never do anything like that again. Promise me, Flammy?"

"I promise..." the changeling replied reluctantly, shifting nervously in the pegasus’s grip.

"Now"—Fluttershy relaxed her grip, separating enough so that they could look each other in the eye—"What possessed you to go hopping around town in the first place?"

"Oh! I had the best idea last night," Flammy chirped, face brightening considerably. "I am gonna make sure you have the bestest, most superbly awesome date ever!"

"You mean you were."

"Hunh?"

Fluttershy sighed, avoiding the mirror of herself as she stared at the mess of the bedroom around them. "Flammy... this is all…complicated."

"No it isn't!" the retort came quickly as a series of quick snaps and crackles filled the air, ignored by both.

"Yes, it is," Fluttershy intoned.

"No! It isn't! It's simple!" the changeling argued, face contorting in frustration. "You love her! That's simple!"

"I... maybe... yes, but that's just a part of it."

"But it's the part that matters! An-an—" the rest of the sentence became a nonsensical series of chirps and squawks as, in a flash of green fire, the changeling's disguise failed and its voice went up in smoke with it. After a few moments of incoherent gibbering, Flammy fell silent, murring in embarrassment as it looked at Fluttershy with its big, green-hued, segmented eyes: a dozen gazes of disappointment greeting the changeling.

"I... I'll explain it to you later. For now, you should probably relax... both of us should," Fluttershy muttered, dropping from the bed and trotting hesitantly towards the door. "I'm going to go run us a bubble bath…you’ll like those." Flammy simply nodded her assent sadly. "Then… maybe later… after this is all fixed… we can talk some more and I can explain all this to you." Another nod, even more morose.

With a sad look, Fluttershy slipped out of the bedroom, leaving the changeling to stare at the door as it closed, revealing, behind it, a rather angry looking Angel Bunny wrapped in a comforter.

The rabbit took a step forward and the changeling pressed itself against the wall, letting out a quiet trill of fear.

Author's Note:

~(Last Edited: May 18th, 2013)~