• Published 16th Jul 2012
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Pony POV Series Season Three: Butterflies - Alex Warlorn



Discord beaten. Reality restored. But invisible wounds must heal too. Time for butterflies to fly.

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Pony POV Series Episode 35: "Butterflies Fluttercruel"

My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic
Pony POV Series
Butterflies Section 7 Fluttercruel

Hey. So you want to talk to me again huh? Surprised to see me? You thought I was just gonna fade away now that my 'role' is over? Pst. Happy to disappoint you, Fluttercruel is here to stay. You thought maybe I was gonna split from 'Shy and go off on a bus to find myself? Sorry, I'm sticking around whether you bozos like it or not! I'm not fading into the ether any time soon and there's not a thing you can do about it!

And I'm not abandoning 'Shy. I'd like to say it's only because I owe her. But sadly I've been left with no alternative, but to say she's both a friend and my family, and I much prefer her over the other family I have. Has she stopped crying into her pillow every night? Sorry, not tellin' ya.

I've heard some ponies whisper maybe it would have been better if 'Shy had died then and there so she wouldn't have to put up with these horse apples. Well let me tell you something I know from personal experience, living is a LOT harder than freakin' dying! And even when 'Shy was out of her gourd, she didn't take the easy way out!

Let me spell this out. Fluttershy is freakin' SORRY already! She wants to move on! I want to move on! A LOT of ponies just want to move on! From the ones who hate her, to the ones who love her and the ones who just don't care! Got it?!

Now we know how The Princesses feels? Don't change the subject bub.

At least 'Shy's 'subjects' got it into their heads fast enough that 'mommy' wasn't appreciating the attention and the best thing they could do for her was leave her be. There are exceptions of course, Zecora kept inventing excuses every weekend for a month to come over and see how she was doing.

I wonder if Celestia's subjects would be this loyal if she suddenly became just another pony.

How did all the others react when they first met me? I think I'll save that narrative for another day, maybe. It's getting exhausting having to cover every little detail isn't it? Ponyville is a living breathing entity unto itself. It grows, it matures, it changes, as the ponies that make it up grow and change, and all the links that connect them. It can get so confusing right? Trust me when I say trying to cover all those links is a futility.

So how are things working out for me? Better than they were before I'd say.

Eh? 'I'm right back where I started?' With myself and 'Shy having only one body? Eat whatever she eats? Go wherever she goes? A glorified pair of conjoined twins with no hope of separation? Heh, she's also gotta go where I want to, eat what I want to, and do what I want.

I might be back where I started. But it actually feels right now. I think it would be too lonely not to have the pansy in my head. I guess I'm really NOT back where I started. I'm not a prisoner who has to share a cell with her jailer anymore. Now I have my own home that I'm sharing with family. We're sharing a body now, there's a big difference.

Do I think of 'Shy as a mother or a big sister? I dunno. But it feels good ya know, to know she's around, it feels natural, I guess I would feel empty without her around for the ride. I'm also gonna get her to grow a spine if it kills us. No! Hold on! I didn't meant that literally! Look! I promise, no repeats of what happened! I literally fought my way out of Limbo to fix that for Celestia's sake! Do you think I'd do that if I was just going to go and do it again?!

Besides, from what Princess Luna said, 'Shy might be the 'daughter' and me the 'mother' personality. With 'Shy being put together from Twilight's memory spell to 'explain' why she broke so easily when shown hard cruel reality. It's amazing how some ponies still don't get it. Ugh. 'Shy wants to say that it's always 'amazing' to people who are fully knowing of something to see ponies who aren't. Meh. Whatever. The point is that neither of us know who came first now, and neither of us care. We've both got souls according to Princess Celestia, so I figure that means we're both real.

Still I think it's for the best I not tell 'Shy where Angel got all that extra firewood after he put out those Timber Wolf traps.

You know it's crazy, here I am finally my own pony as a person, yet I'd feel incomplete without 'Shy around. Huh? So it's like being married? Do I do WHAT in bed?!

...

Pst. I didn't buck'er that hard. Don't overact so much. I'm sure they'll wake up in a bit. Naw, see? The bleeding's already stopped on its own.

So yeah, while both of us having our own bodies would be fun like everypony else, I wouldn't want it if I couldn't have the pansy bouncing around in my skull. It would be too, lonely.

Besides, I think the pansy needs me. Someone needs to help her along to stand on her own four hooves sometimes. Yeah she says the same thing about me being more nice, give me a break.

So, ya wanna hear how things are working out in Sunny Town? Yes it's still there, like me, it didn't just up and poof out of existence once 'Shy was back to her senses.

I was honestly worried that they'd be like mad dogs after 'Shy ordered Zecora to show us where they were. I mean, how ticked off would you be being stuck in purgatory on Equestria for a thousand years then for you to get cured twice within a year and a day later each time being turned back into what you were? I've pretty much been to Pony Hell or something like it, so I can tell you from personal experience that I'd have been VERY ticked off if I got drug back after clawing my way back and enjoying life for real, especially if it happened TWICE.

I was worried they first thing they'd do was attack us on sight for giving them another 'false salvation.'

Yeah I told her. Yeah I was ready to take to the air the moment those dang zombies so much as blinked at us wrong. I told 'Shy as much. She didn't care. 'Shy promised she'd save them.

I swear I heard 'Shy's heart crack when the first thing they did was fall on their knees begging 'Princess Gaia' to free them, saying they'd be her slaves forever if she just ended their torment.

Their screams and wails when she said she no longer had that power are gonna haunt me for the rest of my days.

Of course they thought she was lying. Then they thought she was testing them. Then they tried to lose interest in her but she kept coming back.

The good news is that the time with Princess Gaia made them realize, whether they liked it or not, that cutie marks came in different flavors other than 'free-will stealing plague marks.' So yeah, you can guess that really threw them for a loop. A truth they had based their entire 'we were right' mentality totally gone in a flash. And with Princess Gaia gone so she couldn't block the memories, these undead ponies were goin' nuts. I saw one with gray fur lop his own head off with something or other. Of course the curse just brought him back to life.

I think the fact he found out he had killed his own daughter because she was had done something with herself instead of being infected by a deadly plague kinda sorta broke what sanity he had left. That entire stupid town was founded by stupid Cutie Pox stupid survivors. Now they're trying to plead ignorance to themselves, I said trying. I'm not letting these idiots invent a new lie for themselves. I'm not that cruel.

Yeah, Mitta was there, good kid. She won't stop yaking that we're wasting our time, I'd agree with her, but it's kinda scary how determined Fluttershy is. She's the one thing that's meaningfully changed for these walking corpses in a thousand years. I'd love to rub that in Luna's face if I thought I could get away with it.

This green zombie mare kept trying to walk out of the town, got dragged under by those creepy skeleton hooves, resurrected in the middle of town, and began walking again, like a robot.

One named Gladstone wanders about aimlessly when we aren't around like a zombie from the horror movies.

Oh, the cute young couple? They killed Grayhoof a few times after finding out they had been cursed for nothing. Now they're begging 'Shy to grant them freedom again. Then I reminded them the curse was the only thing keeping them alive, they'd never see outside Everfree Forest. Cruel? Well, I didn't want them to die (for real) thinking they'd get to trot into town and catch up on things like Princess Luna.

At least they're sobbing in each other's arms now instead of reenacting their first date at their Founding Party over and over.

As for Mitta, well, Zecora has suggested we bring in some psychologist ponies. Then it turns out none of them are willing to go anywhere close to Sunny Town, even the ones who still love Fluttershy as Princess Gaia (and don't detest her for torturing their patients when she tried to use magic to cure their insanity). Twilight's gone there exactly once, she dragged her hooves the entire time. Meeting concrete proof that 'zombies do exist' made her have to take an emergency trip to her psychologist again now that the adrenaline was gone from saving Fluttershy. Thankfully her psychologist was the same one we took to SunnyTown to begin with.

Zecora still comes with us though. She agrees with Mitta this is a lost cause. But the one encouraging us the most is the one we see the least. Ruby, always out of the corner of our eyes she's there. She believes the most in us. She has a lot of heart for a ghost. She thinks 'Shy is the key Sunny Town needs to finally find rest.

. . . WHAT-?! You find Shy's trying to help those damn dead ponies in Sunny Town ANNOYING?! I'm gonna bust yer face in too! You think she can do anything LESS? She loves them! She can't help it! Love doesn't just vanish! Just like she loves every pony who her fog effected! You know what that means bozo-?! That freakin' means she KNOWS she wronged ponies she loved! This is her redemption! Just like me clawing my way back to save her was mine! If she can free these heads-up-their-flanks dead ponies from their Hell on Equestria, then she can escape hers too!

So yeah, they've stopped attacking us or asking what we can't give them. The good news is that we have one more pony with us.

Yeah, Pinkie Diane, how'd you guess? 'Giggle at the ghosties,' right. She considers making the ghosties giggle at themselves to be the ultimate test for the Bearer Of The Element of Laughter. Bearers or incarnations of? I wonder if Old Lady Celestia herself knows sometimes. Oh don't knock it 'Shy, she's older than any of us except the Old Man.

Pink said something along the lines of "Its so cool that fan game was a part of this canon, it was creepy but fun!" or something...Even after that whole split personality merge thing, she's still hard to understand sometimes.

So yeah, first she did her comedy routines, then a few musical numbers, that last one at least got Mitta smile for the first time in a thousand years. And the green pony stopped marching to her nth death.

She even tries hugging them, a few at time, she needs time to recover between her forelegs going numb.

"Hey Pinks," I had to ask after I dragged her back from Sunny Town after she gave Mitta a Super Special Pinkie Super Hug. "I gotta know, are you doing this because you're sorry you didn't get to to keep yourself as a container to everyone's misery?"

Pinkie Pie shook her head, "Naw. There are ponies who are unhappy that have been that way for a long time. No matter what they look like, they're still ponies. And if the little ghostie . . . has already forgiven them . . . then hurting them like this is kinda pointless."

"Gotta agree with ya there."

"Ya know 'Ruelly," she single-hoofedly invented a nickname I actually hated more than my short-hoof, "You and I have a lot in common."

Had she finally gone crazy again? "How do you figure that?"

"Well, the part of me that was Pinkamena, not so much the part of me that was Pinkie Pie. Ya see, Pinkamina wasn't born the old fashioned way either. And she was really made up of a lot of bad feelings you'd never associate with Pinkie Pie. Everyone thought she was just a bad pony, but there turned out to be some good in her after all! You both had that 'take charge' attitude too I think. And you both had that dark air around you. You both weren't afraid to get physical and both of you had a different color shade from the other, er, from the pony you shared a body with."

"I see."

"No no no really. You two really were a lot alike. The difference is that Pinkie Pie and Pinkamena started out as one pony then split apart then came back together again! You, well you, were never one pony. And you guys didn't turn into one. Which is kinda surprising really, I mean, I bet everypony thought you were gonna turn into one pony, or were gonna end up as two ponies apart, or that you'd, you know, die in a heroic sacrifice or something. I mean, the two of you being still together, but still two ponies after you guys worked everything out! Who saw that one coming? Know what I mean? That's not counting of course those who figured there'd be only one of you, er, never mind."

"Pinkie." I sighed. "Geeze."

"Oh don't worry about it! Being unexpected is good as long it makes sense when you look back! Nothing is more fun than a good surprise!"

"Like you?"

"I make sense in hindsight. That's an improvement over before."

"Okay, fair enough."

"The point is Flutter', you gotta friend in me! Me and Fluttershy are good friends too. I know from Gilda that doesn't automatically make us good friends, but it really really should! Because I know you're a good pony, even if you started out as a really really mean one made by Discord as part of his evil plan, but that was before you turned good and the character development happened. You helped us save Fluttershy, Fluttershy thinks you're a good pony, and you seem like a good pony to me, a little rough around the edges but-"

"No disclaimers please, Pink. Please. Just take this pony as she is."

"Okie Dokie Lokie!"

I laugh. "I guess deep down you are still-"

"Can we skip that part? I'm kinda sick of hearing it," Pinkie said tilting her head.

I laughed again, and put my wing around her, "Ya know Pink, I think I finally get why Dash hangs out with you."

By this time we were finally back at the cottage. "Looks like this is your stop. See ya next time 'Ruelly. Oh and, thanks for taking me serious when I am."

"No prob. See ya Pink!" I waved with a wing.

And Laughter hopped away.

"Ah, you made a friend," Fluttershy said warmly.

I startled. "I? We were just talking."

"That's how friends are, they get to know each other."

I couldn't help but laugh. Pinkie Diane really was the Element of Laughter.

-----

The next day heading to town for supplies we ran across a very particular something.
"Hey ladies, what can I do ya for? I'd like ta have ya for lunch, er, sorry, that came out wrong," Said the burly male griffin on the other side of a pull cart with a built in grill and several ingredients underneath.

I smelled the scent of cooking meat. 'Shy tried to take a step back but I stopped her in time.

"What can I make you for lunch? Ugh, that came out worse, Sorry sorry. Ahem, what can I make for you to have for lunch?" You could tell he was trying to be friendly with that grin but it just came across as creepy.

Shy asked, "Erm, you new in town?"

"Just passin' through. The Griffon Clans swap meet is at Dragon's Peak this year and I'd rather not have to eat my profits halfway there. Here's the menu, anything strike your fancy?"

'Shy began suffering Gilda flashbacks but I held her steady. Thankfully 'Shy isn't one to hold onto prejudices.

Our eyes scanned down the list. And I saw it. 'Hamburger.' And 'Shy instantly spotted something else. Veggieburger. We managed to blurt out at the same time somehow, "Veggieburger/hamburger!"

"Eh? Nice voice trick ya got there pony. Ya should take that trick on the road. So a veggie and a hamburger eh? Okay, just a sec'. Three bits please." We paid him.

'Don't tell me you're still going on about cows you never met 'Shy.'

'Meat disagrees with me.'

'How would you know if you never tried it?'

'I don't want to.'

'Well you don't have to, I'm going to. Just think of carrots or something while I eat.'

"Here ya go." Said the griffin presenting two sandwiches, "One hamburger and veggie burger."

"Okay thanks." I said matter of fact, took the sandwich and began to chomp on it. Fluttershy I think tried to actually close our throat but didn't get far. I savored the flavor, it was really good too. This griffin knew how to cook dead animals. After I was done and, no, I didn't lick my hooves, I hadn't washed them. I use those things to touch the ground. Don't look at me that way, just because I'm my own pony doesn't mean I don't know how to be health conscious. I might be a "foal", but I'm not that stupid.

Fluttershy felt very woozy in her stomach, which means I did too, but she had to endure it. I have to admit, she didn't actually complain the entire time like I expected her to. She then ate the veggie burger to wash the flavor of cow out of her mouth. She scarfed it down almost like a Timber Wolf.

The flavor gone she asked, 'Um...so what did you think, 'Cruel?'

'About as good as I expected, yours?'

'Well...I guess it was nice...it did taste pretty good I guess.'

"Wow." The griffin said amazed, "My ma always told me you were a bunch of intolerant, vicious, vegans, oops, no offense. I guess you can't take what anyone says completely at face value when it comes to other people huh? Thanks for opening up my eyes. I've never seen a pony eat a hamburger that fast."

Fluttershy turned green. "What?"

"Huh?"

"That was the hamburger?"

"Well, yeah, you had the veggie burger first, then the hamburger. Something wrong?"

'Shy's eyes became pink pricks. "Oh nothing nothing nothing! You're a very good cook! Have a nice day!" And 'Shy took off like the Old Man was chasing her.

'Shy was pretty silent for the rest of the day. I was too.


That evening, well, I'll just tell you.

I heard her before Fluttershy, that really surprised me really, you think little miss soft and sensitive would hear her first. Maybe I just had a certain level of empathy with her. After all, I knew what it was like to be a prisoner in your own body.

It was a soft noise, distant and close by at the same time, like a phantom pain. It took a bit for me to realize it was a foal crying. Finally 'Shy noticed it too. We both wordlessly looked around but the crying didn't get further or closer.

"Angel, can you hear where the crying is coming from?" We asked.

Angel looked at us weird and shrugged, he had no clue what we were talking about.

I still don't know why we heard her then, and not before, and not later. Maybe it was the shock that we couldn't tell the difference between the griffin's meat and veggie burgers. Maybe she had just grown enough that her voice could be heard past the bars and her door. Maybe she had been sulking ever since the love and tolerance death ray had given her a spanking and had finally broke down. Maybe 'Shy was unconsciously angry I had forced her hooves like that and it called to her, or angry with herself for not realizing she was eating meat at all.

Whatever the reason, we could hear her now. We kept looking for the crying that wasn't going anywhere, we went outside, we went to the edge of Everfree, and back inside, the crying remained the same.

It hit Fluttershy before it hit me, probably because she'd actually been a foal to hear herself cry as one instead of being born full grown. "That's me, that's me crying."

We startled together. We both instantly knew who it was then. How could we not know? There was only one conclusion we had short of us both going crazy or someone playing a prank in bad taste on us.

It was my idea to use the mirror. We concentrated on the mirror, concentrated on the crying visualizing what the source could only be! The image in front of the mirror wavered. It became a door.

"This could be a trap you know," I said.

"And there's a chance it isn't and she needs help. Like you did."

I couldn't argue with that, I am an Element of Kindness too you know. I could have suggested we go to Twilight to do her 'enter the mind trick' but instead we did this on our own. Stupid? Yeah. Totally Fluttershy? Yep. Me? Well, I didn't want to have to listen to some poor filly brawling her eyes out until whatever happened.

We reached out and touched the mirror. It felt like our entire body got heavy one moment, and the next thing we knew we were in a white void. I gasped when we looked around. There was 'Shy, next to me. Separate. We touched each other. It was a really weird experience.

"'Cruel?"

"'Shy?"

For a moment, I could almost see the ghost of butterfly wings with her pegasus wings. Me? I saw the scars on my body I got as a parting gift from those things that wanted me to stay put in limbo after I forced my way out.

In the blink of an eye we were in a familiar forest, it was the same clearing 'Shy got her cutie mark.

There was also a door standing in the middle of the clearing. Looked like the kind from that club I had gone to on my 'free day', marked 'Private, keep out, this means you, if I have something to say I'll say it. Sometimes you gotta be cruel to be kind.' It also had a crystal version of my Cutie Mark in it, MY Element Of Kindness.

"That's the door to my soul," I said knowing instantly.

"Why did we enter through my soul?" Fluttershy asked looking around, she saw birds and blutterflies colored like her friends.

The style of everything reminded of something a filly would paint.

"I'd guess because you were on the surface when we both stepped inside," I said.

We heard the crying again. We looked at each other and trotted towards it, first we thought it was through the door, then we realized it was BEHIND the door.

We split in opposite directions and moved to see what was on the other side of the door itself, not going through it. We weren't that surprised really when we found a blank flank Fluttershy, looking Pipsqueak's age, crying in a crib two sizes too small for her. She didn't even notice us.

As we stepped closer, the landscape changed. One trot we were in the forest, the next trot we were in a Cloudsdale Nursery. There were stuffed toys all about, most looking rather abused. One that looked like my old man was torn to shreds, the one that looked like Dash, had the head torn off.

"This was my room," Fluttershy whispered. I remembered too. But the details were all off.

On the wall was a photograph of the legendary pegasus race just as filly Fluttershy fell off the clouds. A poster of Summer Flight Camp was right next to it.

There were two unlocked door behind us, the one from before, and the one that looked like the door to our cabin with Fluttershy's Element of Kindness engraved on it.

"Door to my soul?" Fluttershy asked.

I rolled my eyes, "Duh."

As we got closer, the filly began to strangely calm down, but there was no sign she had seen or heard us. I braced myself, expecting Nightmare Whisper to pop out of the foal's mouth or something.

I realized there were some stuffed toys in the too small crib, all with familiar shapes and colors: Zecora, the other Elements, Cheerilee, and several more.

Laying on the cloud floor was 'Shy's Gala's dress torn like it was that night, and sized for a filly.

Outside the window, I saw Canterlot's Royal Gardens, empty.

It hit me that the room had several cloud cribs, but the rest were all empty and dust covered. I couldn't read the names on them.

Hanging from the ceiling was a plastic Sonic Rainboom which had hanging trinkets shaped like a cockatrice and a dragon. Thankfully they did not come to life and attack us.

The filly, who didn't at all look like a zombie, partial or otherwise, began hugging the stuff animals of her friends for dear life.

'Dangit, she looks kinda cute when she has the water works off.' I thought. Did that count as narcissistic? Pst. Only if 'Shy thought it too. Okay, maybe she did. She didn't hesitate to pick the foal up into her forelegs.

The foal opened her eyes at once and began to struggle, "Lemmie go! Lemmie go!"

"Fluttershy, it's time to let go. It's time to come home back with us." Fluttershy whispered.

"NO! You hate me! You don't want me! All you do is lock me away! Then when I could get out you're always ashamed of me!" Flutterrage snapped.

"Yes I am," Fluttershy said sadly letting her back into the plushie filled crib, "And I'm sorry. I've always been scared of you. Ever since I was a filly. Mom said good fillies didn't get angry. Dad said good fillies didn't hate. I didn't want to think of you. I wanted to get away from you . . . but, you've been with me this whole time anyway haven't you?"

"I-I-tried to help, and you locked me up again! You let me out when the animals wouldn't be your friends! Then you acted like I was never there! Leave me alone! You don't want me!"

Fluttershy tried to work her mouth but nothing came out.

"Now that the animals all like you, you won't let me out for anything ever again! Now that you have her!" She stabbed a hoof at me, "You don't want me around at all!"

We remembered. The garden party. The aristocrats at Canterlot had been spared Princess Gaia's fog, none of them knew who she was, and the animals, with me reminding her to be cautious, were willing to give 'Shy a chance this time since she wasn't acting like a mad pony running at them shouting noises.

"I don't want anypony to suffer if they don't have to," Fluttershy said, "I've had to accept that I can't help everypony. But I can help you! Come on Fluttershy, you don't have to be alone anymore. I won't lock you up again."

"I wanna be with her! She won't lock me up!" She said pointing at me.

"Er, sorry little filly, doesn't work that way, you're not a part of my soul. I can't take you." Or at least I didn't think so.

"I don't trust her!" She said referring to Shy of course.

"And you trust me?"

"I don't trust her more," The filly said pouting.

"You know you've caused me a lot of trouble," Fluttershy said sternly, "You kept wanting me to do some bad things when I was lost in the dark."

"I JUST WANTED EVERYPONY TO BE HAPPY! THAT'S GOOD! PONIES WHO DON'T WANT THAT ARE BAD!"

We look at each other.

I wondered if it was better just to leave her here in the shadows. It was where she wanted to be; would it be heartless to force her into the light that she had barely even seen? Would 'Shy even still be 'Shy if she accepted her anger back, especially when her anger didn't want to be accepted back?

What if she was the copy, and I was the original after all? Was it right for either of us to take her? I felt trapped. And so did 'Shy. What if Shy got her to accept her, but she was just the copy? What if it drove her nuts because she had never experienced anger before? What if I was the copy and took her, would she just wither and die inside a pony who could already feel anger? What if the 'original' Fluttershy's mind had been killed by Discord when he created me and neither of us was the original, did that mean the pony she used to be a part of was long dead and she had nowhere she could go anymore? And that was if we could convince her to come with either of us, or should.

Yeah, it was Pinkie and 'Shy and the big red ball of misery all over again.

Except there was no Walking Purple Encyclopedia here to spell it out in metaphor here.

I wondered about simply 'leaving' and 'coming back' later, but I had a gut feeling that whatever path had brought us here inside 'Shy's mind wasn't likely to open again after this weird fluke. So now or never time.

"'Shy, maybe this is a fool's errand. Remember those? She's raw emotion. She's your anger, your rage, or mine, the original Fluttershy's, whatever. You can't change the nature of the beast."

"I changed yours."

"That-! That's different! She's nothing -but- anger!"

"And you were nothing but cruelty. And yet here you are, Element of Kindness."

"The point is that she's just a part, a piece, she doesn't have full free will or a soul of her own! I might have been all one color, gray, but I still had different shades!"

"I think she does too. Or she wouldn't have been crying. Just screaming."

"Point."

"I'm right here ya know!" Flutterrage pouted.

We both looked apologetically at her and took a few hoof trots back.

"This is the Nursery we, you, maybe me, ugh, the original Fluttershy, let's just go with that, grew up in isn't it? I remember it." I said looking at the familiar drawings on the wall.

"Yes it is. . . . It also means she's the one part of Fluttershy that was never tainted by Discord, because she was here when he, when you were born."

"I wonder if that little Moon Princess would be laughing if she knew her little punishment had finally hit home."

"I don't think so. She was hurt. Because I tried to hurt someone she cared about. I think somewhere in her she's still a teenage filly trying to figure out who she is. . . ."

"'Shy, if she is the only part of Fluttershy Discord never touched, and we can't know which one of us is the mother and which one is the child, if either of us is... Then do either of us have a right to take her?"

"'Cruel, if she's the only part of Fluttershy Discord didn't hurt, then I don't have any right but to take her. If I'm to be Fluttershy, if this is who I chose to be. Then . . ." She gritted her teeth. "Then Fluttershy's anger is what I need to take to be Fluttershy."

There was no way I could say no to that. "Fine 'Shy."

"Well I'm not goin'! JUST GO BACK AWAY!" The nursery shook like a storm cloud.

Call me crazy, but I had a sinking suspicion we were racing against the clock.

'Come on 'Cruel think! How do you get this bundle of bad attitude how to go back with 'Shy? . . . Dangit. 'Shy's right. She's not just bad attitude. Okay. Think 'Cruel why is she a little foal? Why? Because 'Shy began repressing those feelings when her family was teaching her to be a wallflower? Because her feelings are so rudimentary? Dangit! I get angry all the time! How come I can't figure this out? What does anger want?'

'Maybe it just wants to go away.'

'No, that isn't all-hey!'

'Oh! Sorry! I didn't mean-'

''Shy what have I told you about being over the top in your apolo-, oh never mind! I was thinking!'

'Well, you're thinking pretty loud.'

'Good an explanation as any. I'm guessing she won't hear us because she's sealed herself off from us. Must be this place. We've never been this deep inside your soul before. . . You know, this would be a lot easier if she just turned into a giant monster and we had to kick her flanks, and give her a harsh talking to.'

'How-How can you say that?'

'Easy, monsters always the same solution, give'em a good smacking in their language. Done and done. Go home for pizza.'

'That's not very kind to the monster.'

'It also wouldn't be kind to those the monster would hurt to do otherwise. Not everypony listens to reason 'Shy, and your Stare doesn't work on everypony. Remember Nightmare Moon and the Old Man?'

"WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE! I SAID GO!" The entire nursery shook again. We both saw the lightning crackle. "WHAT ARE YOU A PAIR OF STATUES-?!"

'Cruel! We don't have time to squabble!'

'Believe it or not I agree! And let me say it from someone who knows anger better than you do. Anger's most base desire to lash out at the person whose hurt them. To pay back as many fold as possible for how they've been hurt because of course YOU -must- be more important than the person who hurt you and the person who hurt you must be stupid so they 'deserve' a harsher punishment! Maybe pandering to -her- is the wrong solution.' I thought icily.

'I can't just repress her again. And I don't want her to just go away.'

I felt actually rather proud of 'Shy in that moment. She might have finally been getting it. Or maybe it was just cause Flutterrage was appearing as a little filly to her, but a mare can dream.

I suggested offhoofedly, 'You know if we go to Twilight or Celestia, they could likely tell whose soul she's a part of. Settle who we are.'

'Don't care.'

'Ditto.'

'Maybe the magic of friendship can calm her down?'

'Shy she's not a Windigo, hate and anger are two different things...' And that's when it hit me like a ton of bricks. Something that Pink said when telling us about that whole personality merge thing she did.

That she'd split into Pinkie, Pinkamenia, and all her other personalities because she refused to accept them, she thought she was better off without them. It wasn't until she understood why she needed them that she could fuse her mind back together. Was 'Shy the same way with Flutterrage?

Fluttershy wanted to take Flutterrage in, but did she really know why she SHOULD besides her just being a cute little filly who was upset and scared or that she needed to be a 'complete Fluttershy'? Or did she not know the reason they were separate in the first place? Well, it was a good a place to start as any. After all, unlike her, I actually know what it's like to be angry without some split personality taking control.

'...And if you want to take her into yourself, you're going to have to understand why you need her other than you're supposed to. . . . Anger cools down, hatred festers. Anger fades, hate focuses into a crosshairs. Anger becomes spent, hatred FEEDS on itself. Anger can make you stupid if you let it. Hatred? Ponies like to -say- it makes you stupid, but it's lot worse than that.

They can give birth to each other, they can serve each other, but they're never the same. The thing about anger is it can be helpful, if you direct it the right way and don't let it control you, or give birth to hate. Hatred is intolerance, the refusal to accept something at all. It's great you don't hate anypony, but that doesn't mean you don't need to be able to get angry.

'Remember those times with the dragon and the cockatrice? There is such a thing as righteous fury. You can let out your anger in some way OTHER than to hurt the one you're angry at, you can tell them how they've made you angry and work through it WITH them so you both come out better for it. Or, like my Old Man where the guy is a beast, and that's the only way you're gonna protect your friends: let your anger fuel you kicking his sorry tail nine ways to Sunday. Just because it's a bad captain doesn't mean its not a vital part of the crew!

'Hatred CAN'T be let out and burned through, the only way to get through hatred is to let go of it. It forgets but it never forgives. Hate doesn't stop. So there's a big difference between anger and hatred, see? I was born from dissonance, I know these feelings like you know your own wings 'Shy.'

Fluttershy seemed to think it over for a bit, trying to understand what she was being told. What she needed to make Flutterrage a part of her so they could be complete.

The white clouds were turning black. Yeah, I really ate up the clock with that big speech of mine. Purple would be clapping her hooves.

She finally spoke after a bit.

'...Cruel, you remember what I told you when we first met?'

'I recall a bunch of mousy squeaks, a threat to have Twilight kill me, and a creepy lullaby.'

'I realized you were lonely when you mentioned Flutterrage wouldn't speak to you. She's -hurt-. Because I was hurt.'

'Right because she's Fluttershy.'

"DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING YOU WANNA SAY?"

Angry faces of Shy were appearing on the blackening walls of the nursery. Silently mouthing us to vanish. My wings stiffen.

"Why do you hate me so much?" 'Shy asked the obvious question.

The brat just stuck her tongue out at her.

"I'm sorry that I've left you trapped in here for so long."

"Then take a long walk off a short cliff. With your wings clipped."

'And that's hatred. It doesn't bow down to reason.' I thought simply.

'Shy got this creepy look in her eyes, and when I say creepy, you know I'm not talking horse apples. 'Then let's not use reason, we'll use feelings. It's like you said, anger needs to be explained so it can be worked through with the one who hurt you. I won't run from my anger anymore.'

For a second I was worried she was going to use the Stare. Instead she trotted straight to the crib and said, "Flutterrage. Little Fluttershy?"

"What?"

"Yell at me. Shout at me. Scream at me." She lowered her head so they were on even level, "Hit me, kick me, bite me, snarl and spit in my face, do whatever you feel you need to do, whatever you feel I deserve, go right ahead. Just let it all out, I Pinkie Pie Swear that nothing you say or do will make me lock you up again," she said. "Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye," she said, going through the motions for the promise.

Flutterrage startled at this. Confusion flickered across her face. Then she snarled, "YOU BIG! DUMB! MEANIE! YOU THINK THAT MAKES IT ALL BETTER?! WE WERE GONNA MAKE A WORLD WHERE NOPONY WAS HURT! THEY WERE GOING TO LOVE ME! AND YOU LET -HER- STEAL IT AWAY!"

Black clouds shaped like Windigos pushed their way into the nursery from all sides, howling. The shape of the face of an enraged foal pushed out of the floor and ceiling. For the second time I appreciate for 'Shy what it's like to be afraid.

I think 'Shy knew better than to launch into a five hour speech about free will.

"No one except me, and then Pinkie Pie. We were hurting. And that hurt my friends."

Now the brat did look shocked. Apparently that thought hadn't crossed her tiny little mind. The filly's lips quivered. Tears were starting again. I remember that face. Oh Celestia I remember that face!

"IT'S NOT FAIR!!! IT'S JUST NOT FAIR! AND WHEN WE MAKE IT FAIR NOPONY WANTED IT! WE GAVE EVERYONE A PLACE WHERE THEY WEREN'T HURT AND WERE HAPPY AND OUR FRIENDS HATED IT! NATURE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE HAPPY AND IT WAS AWFUL! WE LOVE OUR FRIENDS AND WE WERE MADE TO HURT THEM AND LOVE IT! WE WERE NICE TO THE ANIMALS AND THEY ALL JUST RAN AWAY! DASHIE SAID SHE WAS RACING FOR US AND SHE LET US FALL! SHE NEVER EVEN ASKED IF WE WERE OKAY! WE DIDN'T WANT TO GO TO FLIGHT CAMP BUT PAPA DID! IT'S NEVER FAIR! NOT FAIR NOT FAIR NOTFAIRNOTFAIR-NOT fair . . . "

Fluttershy hugged her gently, and stroke her mane, the filly pathetically pounded on her, Shy not even reacting when the little filly's hoof nailed her in the eye. Fluttershy kissed her on the muzzle.

"I'll admit, I was scared of you before, terrified. You came out when I no longer had a choice, and the more I pushed you under the more you pushed back. But even then, you helped me sometimes. You helped me save my friends from the dragon, and you helped Fluttercruel catch Rainbow Dash. But what you did at the Gala, I had never been more scared of anything my life, and it was myself. I didn't want to think we were the same pony. I didn't want to think I could be like that.

"I didn't want to think that animals could be scared of me. I wanted to believe something, anything, as long as it wasn't my fault. I treated animals I had just met like they were Angel and the others instead of creatures I had to get to know. Everyone loved cute little innocent Fluttershy, if I stopped being that, would they still love me? . . . I've been a coward. Oh, I'm so so so sorry for ranting off like this, it wasn't very polite at all was it? I'm sorry, I-"

"'Shy."

Back on track she looked the filly among her stuffed toys in the eyes, "It's all my fault. All of it. I forced you away. I kept you away. I did my hardest to pretend you weren't even there. I was being selfish." She hugged her tighter, her own tears appearing, "I understand now...I'm not going to run from you again, I promise. Because I'm you, and you're me."

I startled as I watched both ponies break down into sparkles and blurred together. The Cloudsdale nursery broke apart like a fog on a hot summer's day. I was suddenly back in the forest clearing from before. It was different. Before it had been like a watercolor painting, but now, it had shading. Depth?

A small butter yellow pegasus filly fluttered over to me with a familiar cutie mark on her rear.

"Hi 'Cruel." She said happily.

"F-Fluttershy?"

"All of Fluttershy." She smiled, and she glowed white, her body went through puberty and became an adult mare between heartbeats.

I asked tentatively, "How do you feel?"

She took on a droll expression. "Angry. I'm angry Grayhoof murdered Ruby thinking he was sparing her. I'm angry I caused the entire Nightmare mess and I have no one to blame but myself. I'm angry I've been weak-willed when my friends needed me. I was angry Rainbow abandoned me, cutie mark or not. I'm angry you ate a hamburger with my, no, our body, and I'm angry I ended up eating the hamburger instead of you. I'm angry we really are two different ponies with one body." Her face formed resolve. "But Celestia said we need each other, and us walking away from each other would hurt us instead of help us. And I'm going to accept what she says. And you worked so hard to save me from myself, and protect our friends. You stopped Rainbow Dash from becoming a Nightmare, those are things that I wouldn't have been able to do on my own. And I don't know if I could now. And I need to accept we're different ponies with different needs, whether I like it or not."

My ears wilted, "Any regrets about us being together forever?"

"None. Okay, some. But I know I'd have a lot more regrets at us not being together forever."

"Same here 'Shy." I smiled without sarcasm or irony.

That was when the giant rainstorm came out of nowhere.

We sputtered the water out of our mouth blinking as Angel stood over us holding an empty vase.

"Angel!"

The bunny just crossed his arms, not liking the response to his rescue.

We got up off the floor, still in front of the mirror. We looked at the clock, we had been out all afternoon. Judging by the cymbals next to us, this wasn't Angel's first attempt at waking us up.

"You really should have just gone to Twilight for help you know," 'Shy said to our pet.

Angel looked surprised like the thought hadn't occurred to him, but he just shrugged.

I laughed. "No need to get angry 'Shy. Remember. No harm no foul."

Fluttershy looked to Angel. "But I understand I didn't tell you to do anything like that and things have been kind of weird with me recently, especially before I told you about Fluttercruel...And thank you for staying by me." She hugged Angel close to us, he didn't really resist, and neither did I.

The little rabbit returned the hug.

You want to know where I would go if I could go anywhere? Right here. Because this where I belong. We're not two halves of a whole, we're two who walk alongside each other. We're not stuck with each other, we have each other. This is the only place I want to be.