• 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 44: "Fluttercruel's Cute-Ceañera"

Fluttercruel's Cute-Ceañera

Written By lz0291 and Edited By Alex Warlorn and then some


We looked in the mirror. We were both nervous and we were both getting used to the idea of speaking when we couldn't see each other. So, a mirror.

I had finished reading a chapter book on hoof to hoof combat I, Fluttershy, had borrowed from Twilight for me. She mostly zoned out when I began reading it, not wanting to have the gruesome images of where to break a pony's bones in her mind.

We were in our room, and somehow 'Shy had been convinced to let Pinkie Pie, or Pinkie Diane, set up downstairs to organize. Applejack was helping to cook, but the others would be arriving later. And for now, we were just waiting out of sight until the time was right. Well, I was waiting out of sight at least.

It was going to be my cute-ceañera after all.

"S-So, um... Are you sure you want to do this?" 'Shy asked.

"I don't want to, but we have to. We didn't have much time to really explain a couple of days ago. It's best we get everypony knowing what's really going on here instead of making assumptions. I don't think many of them were really paying a huge amount of attention."

"Okay. Um, maybe we could postpone it though."

I shook our head.

"No. Pinkie's in full cute-ceañera mode. We couldn't call her off if we wanted to."

And that's why I wanted Pink to be in charge of putting this show together. 'Shy wouldn't let her down so I had no way of backing out. Considering what I had unleashed on Equestria, I felt lucky I wasn't decorating the royal Canterlot Gardens. Now that the excitement had calmed down, I wasn't sure how they'd react to my sudden appearance on stage.

"B-but, maybe we do want to?"

I shrugged. 'Shy squeaked.

"I don't see why you're so worried. You're not this freaked out even on your birthday and you're not the one they're focusing on."

"But I am! We both have the same body at least, everypony might see us as one and the same!"

I sighed.

"And that's why we have to do this. To make sure they know we have the same body but not the same soul."

Fluttershy nodded our head.

"Okay. It's your call."

She...we shifted gears and I went downstairs.

Angel had moved all of Shy's animals outside to the back where he'd keep an eye on them. With seven ponies and a dragon going full throttle at one of Pink's bashes, she had been worried we'd traumatize the poor things. And considering what a few of them are, scaring them could be the last mistake a pony could make.

All of our, my, 'Shy's birthdays had been quiet affairs, done mostly with our, her animals and Marshmallow and Rainbow. Not the sort of thing that made some noise.

I almost laughed at how a town legendary for how close its residents were could have a shut in like Fluttershy in its ranks. But you wouldn't find a more accepting town anywhere.

I saw party food set out on a table that had been likely assembled inside to make it fit. Chips, soda, light salad, the regulars, along with typical Pinkie food and some that had been her personal ideas. 'Shy had bit my tongue every single time I had tried to ask for hamburgers. We talked funny for a couple days.

The decorations had my cutie mark on them, along with the brownish yellow and dark pink that were my colors. It never hit me before how our eyes were about the one thing that stayed the same color when we shifted. I'd have thought about that more if Celestia herself hadn't said in plain Low Equestrian that we were indeed two spirits in one vessel now customized as a two-seater. After spending about ninety percent of my life thinking I was just a worthless clone left over from the Old Man's plan, it felt good to know I had a soul of my own.

The decorations were decidedly Pinkie Pie, but they seemed more organized, less wild, they were just as spontaneous, but it was like everything GREW from a pattern rather than everything clashing, which Rarity had secretly admitted at our spa trips was a weakness of Pinkie Pie's style before.

There would be flowers and a few animal styled decorations of course . . . ugh. Unless it was a Honey Badger or a Timber Wolf it wasn't exactly my style. I think 'Shy caught that.

'I think the butterfly fits you too...'

'What? How?'

'You started out as an ugly piece of Disharmony...no offense...'

'None taken, continue.'

'But in the end, you've grown into something great and wonderful. Plus in a lot of cultures, butterflies represent rebirth.'

I couldn't help smiling inside and out about that part.

'Yeah, I guess you're right...' I let my eyes fall on one of the decorations. I think that one suits you.'

'A skunk? Um...why?'

'Because you never go looking for a fight and avoid it if you can, but if something messes with what you care about, you can send it running for the hills without having to beat it up to do it.'

'...Yeah, I guess you're right...'

There was a cake with my cutie mark on it. I didn't really have a favorite flavor, so I just went with bitter dark chocolate. Bitter times can help you remember the good times after all.

I spotted Pinkie Pie calmly and happily setting up a last few detailed ribbons she never seemed to get tired of.

I'm almost certain we made no noise, but Pinkie was there in front of us before we even reached halfway. It was like a switch had been pulled. It was so fast I don't even think I saw her move, how does she do that?!

"Oh, hey, the others will be here soon so that's good timing! Anyway, just gotta go over the plan with you..."

"I'll meet everypony one on one, one at a time," I said. That was it, really. And it seemed to be the best idea, and the one easiest on Fluttershy to watch.

"Yyyep, then we'll have the party itself once we all know you right, and then... Well, that's it, the party's pretty much the end of the plan."

Pinkie then blinked.

"Oh, hey, Scootaloo can't fly here, right?"

"Um... No?" I said in reply, vaguely recalling that was a filly in Ponyville.

Where had that come from? Why would she ask if a filly could fly in the cottage?

'No, Scootaloo can't really fly at all.'

"Good. I just wanted to be sure I'm in the right place. I really wish I was back with the regular author, he'd be able to let me know himself. The next chapter should have us back on plot! Unless a new episode airs first, that always gums up the gears, and you SEEN his schedule? It's a wonder he hasn't stopped writing this series yet!"

'I guess this is Pinkie being Pinkie?' I asked 'Shy. In my opinion Pink's actions are stranger than my origin. And that's saying something.

'Yes. Just try to work around it.'

"Anyway, so, the party food. I was looking into the meaning of cute-ceañera and some ponies say it's from Mexicolt, and then I remembered that Mexicoltian cuisine has lots of words that sound funny and they're good party food as well so according to a book I got so I tried my hoof at cooking some for tonight but don't worry there's still lots and lots of good goodies like apple fritters, cupcakes - normal ones, muffins, hay and potato chips, and all that kind of stuff but I thought since we're all older than the average ponies having a cute-ceañera maybe we should have some more food-y food, I mean not that sugary sugary sweet sweet stuff isn't great but this is a kind of different party and-"

"Does she ever stop to breathe?" I found myself asking.

"...Nope! Don't need to, can breathe in while I speak, got lots of practice! Uh, where was I?"

"I don't know. I fell off the mountain of words at a thousand feet."

"Don't be silly, you're a pegasus, you could fly if you fell off! I think I got everything covered anyway, but I keep thinking I'm forgetting something I was going to do. Anyway, that's not important for now, food is handled, we just need to wait on everypony else!"

And with that she shot off to look out of the door.

I swear I could see an eye twitching. Like she was smiling because she -had- to, like 'Shy did sometimes and was too scared to be angry.

I was baffled, ever since Pink had her days long nap, she had been more, focused, more, rational. But it was like all that had been -reversed-. But the way her muscles were taunt, it was clear she was holding something back. Something big. I opened my mouth.

She shouted, "Oh, they're coming! Applejack, they're coming, it's almost time!"

"Hold yer horses a sec, sugarcube, ah'm trying to get this pie outta the oven mahself since somepony ran off while we were pullin' it out!"

Pink giggled.

"Oops. That's what I forgot. Sorry Applejack! We should have borrowed DUST from the guest author while we had a shot."

"...What's dust?" I asked.

"Device for Unicorn Style Telekinesis. It's a form of Magitek that doesn't even exist here so don't worry too much about it."

I facehoofed. She was making up nonsense. Pinkie being Pinkie. But it felt like she was pulling it out of her flanks now, rather than Pinkie Pie Land where she always had before.

"Just work around it... " I reminded myself as there was a knock at the door.

"Ooh, they're here!" A voice shouted from the kitchen, and there was a momentary clatter of hooves heading right for the door.

"Hey, hey, HEY, hold it Pinkie, ah need your help, this darn pie ain't easy to pull out with just one mouth on the tray!"

"I'll get it. It's my house after all..." I said, heading for the door.

We opened it, to be greeted by Rainbow Dash leading the pack. The three unicorns Rarity, Twilight, and The Other One were behind her, and Spike rode on Twilight's back.

And with Dash leading them, it certainly felt like a pack to me at that time instead of a herd, no matter how kindly the appearances of the others were. Not that I was looking, since Dash's expression had a magnetic quality to it that made it hard to focus on anything other than the contempt she was barely hiding, it was an old friend to me.

"Hi." The prismatic pony said rather curtly. I retreated inside to let Fluttershy bring them in and maybe cool Dash down.

Then again, I doubt even a Windigo could really cool her down at times. She probably has fire in her veins instead of blood. Can ponies breed with volcanoes? I suspect the answer is somehow yes, and Dash has one in her family tree at some point. Either that or a Phoenix, might explain how she survives all those stunts she pulls.

"Hello, girls. Come in!" She said, missing the fact Dash was glaring daggers at us. Or if she saw it, she was ignoring it.

Now she was in charge, she was looking past Dash, and letting me see the others. Rarity seemed okay but gave off an air that she was in two minds about things. Spike seemed to be imitating Rarity to the point of glancing at her every few seconds to try to confirm her mood. As for the other two unicorns, well...

"Trixie, please, I know you want your contribution to the festival to work out well, but if you stress yourself out when there's so much time still left you'll actually run out of time because you keep changing ideas, and probably miss a few good ones along the way. Just give the thinking a rest for tonight and enjoy the party." Twilight was saying.

"But it has to be perfect, Twilight!" The One and Only Trixie countered.

They were, in short, distracted. I wondered if they'd even noticed the door opening.

"Twilight is right, darling. Relax for now. I find it's difficult to have a good idea when one is stressing over everything." Rarity added. "I don't spend so much time at the spa just to stay fabulous."

"Yeah, Rarity's right!" Spike nodded.

I sighed. All Rarity had really done was re-iterate what Twilight had said, yet the little lovestruck dragon seemed to take her word as divine guidance that all should obey. I had crystal clear visions of her telling him to jump off a cliff, and the little dragon actually doing it....

"No, Spike, don't jump!" Fluttershy squeaked out in a panic.

The dragon stared at us for a second.

"Uh, okay, I'll just drop down..."

''Shy!'

'Sorry.'

Ugh. Normally our thoughts and our dreams were our private zone, but even thoughts could be 'loud enough' to hear it looked like. At least our dreams were still private. I have no interest in Shy's adventures in Bunny-Land and I know Fluttershy wouldn't want to see my dreams.

The five of them came in, and Pinkie then emerged.

"Hello everypony and dragon! Just so you know what we're gonna do we're all going to say hi to Fluttercruel one by one in alphabetical order! So that's Applejack-Dashie-Trixie-Me-Rarity-Spike-Twilight!"

"...That's not alphabetical. Rainbow Dash should be before Rarity and I should be before Twilight." Trixie pointed out.

"Don't be silly fillies Dashie and One and Only Trixie! We don't count the 'the' as part of a name for alphabetical order!"

"But those still aren't our actual..."

"Just work around it, Trixie." Fluttershy said.

She seemed to take the advice on board, but did give us a quick glance to wonder who had been giving it.

"Trixie shall."

"Well, 'RD's' not working around it. I'll go after Pinkie. My name is Rainbow Dash."

Pinkie looked at her with a brief moment of confusion before perking back up.

"Okay, that's settled! Applejack, you're up!"

"What?" She shouted from the Kitchen.

Pinkie bounced off to fetch her (and probably explain) so I decided that was my cue to really be there.

'I think it's time I really showed up.' I said.

'I agree. Good luck and have fun. Um, if you want to have fun that is... Er, I'll be here in case you need me for anything. Good luck again....'

And with that...

'Really, good luck!'

...With tha...

'And I really will be here if you need me, just think and I'll be there!'

I sighed in our head,

'Please, 'Shy, just... thank you but just...'

She seemed to get the message and finally stopped wishing me luck to give me control of our body just as the other two entered the room.

"Okay, girls, um... I think it's time you all really met her so, um.... here's Fluttercruel."

She'll never work to announce DJ Pon-3 onto the stage, that's for sure. Ignoring the rather Fluttershy way of having been introduced to my party, I concentrated for a second, and felt a slight tickling sensation on my flank as Fluttershy's Cutie Mark changed into mine and our fur taking on my colors.

The others noticed it, their attention still having been drawn by Fluttershy.

"...Hi." I said, a deer in the headlights. Of all the times for me to actually ACT like Fluttershy!

"AJ first!" Pinkie said, scooting beside the other earth pony to nudge her in my direction.

I raised a hoof.

"I'm Fluttercruel. Nice to meet you properly." I said.

Applejack gave me a long look, sizing me up if I had really meant what I said.

She took my hoof and shook it with vigorous strength that meant I barely had to move the limb myself at all.

"Howdy. I'm Applejack but everyone calls me AJ. How is it you wanna do all this, talk here together or go in another room?"

I shrugged.

"I'm fine out here."

Of course, I was giving off a cool aloof attitude. Inside?

I felt a lot like I was 'Shy, and there were six dragons in the room with me. And Spike, who I just couldn't take seriously as something dangerous, ever. Not unless magic or something was involved. I mean, look at him. He's tiny, and from what I and 'Shy know about dragons (not very much, to be honest) he won't get large for decades. Heh, I wonder what gift 'Shy was going to get him for his first birthday in Ponyville next month.

Applejack shook her head as I briefly pondered why it seemed only the actual dragon was giving off an air that didn't imply I risked being burnt to a crisp by flamethrower breath.

"Not so sure you are, but we'll go with it. So, what're we to do? Ask questions?"

"Seems good to me. Just ask anything. If I have an answer you'll get it," I replied.

"Okay. What would you say you are?"

I pondered this for a moment. I'd expected something to trap or trick me, but this one seemed to be reasonable. But still, I was aware the truth might still alarm them. Ponies could be unpredictable. At the same time a perfectly good lie was a waste against Applejack, so I decided to be honest. Trouble was... I wasn't sure of the answer to begin with.

"I guess I'd say I'm a different pony sharing a body with Fluttershy. We're different ponies. I guess the best way to describe it is I'm her offspring. I think my own thoughts, have my own views, my own memories... I'm me. Fluttershy is Fluttershy. I'm Fluttercruel."

Applejack nodded.

"Nice hun. But Ah said 'what' you are. Not 'who' ya are."

I startled, now I really wasn't sure how to answer. "I don't know. I thought at first I -was- Fluttershy. Then I thought I was just a leftover spell of Discord's that got pushed aside by Twilight's magic. Now I wonder if I was actually born 'from' Discord."

I'd be blind to not see them tense from that. I'm just glad I didn't add 'and Fluttershy' to the end of that.

"Then I figured I didn't exist. Even if Fluttershy vanished I'd still be nothing more than a poor parody. Now after what Celestia said, I think I'm just another pony whose joined at the heart to Fluttershy."

"Good enough for me. Welcome to the family. Trixie? Your turn."

I was confused at this. I had expected the Element of Honesty to have probed far harder than just a couple fairly 'simple' philosophical questions.

"Huh? Oh, uh.... "

Trixie too seemed to be caught off guard, likely pondering her magic show before being brought to the world again. The blue unicorn was really thinking after we shook hooves. She must have had a big question... or was still thinking about her show.

"Greetings! I am the One and Only Trixie!" She did with a trace of her dramatic flair.

"Hi. I'm Fluttercruel. Nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you...Do you have any ideas for a good magic show?"

Even though I had saw it coming, I facehoofed. Everyone else did too. She tittered nervously under their gazes.

"Make the most annoying pony in the audience disappear," I said flatly. I swear Rainbow gave a tiny smile at that. Did she think it was funny or was it something else?

"Sorry. Um... What's it like to be two ponies sharing a body?"

Pinkie seemed to stifle a laugh, so presumably there was a Pinkie Being Pinkie incident underway. Maybe some random story she heard (or invented) where a pony put her mind in another body with the real owner still there. Or it was just a plain old innuendo. I would not have, and still would not, put it past her.

"I... I honestly can't tell you. I have 'Shy's memories. But they've felt more like those of someone else's lately. I've always been like this. You'd need to ask 'Shy. I'm not even sure she could explain it."

"Then.... How did you come to be? Just to clarify?"

I was about to speak when I felt a warm tingling of worry begin. I paused for a second before I decided to just press on with the truth.

"Well, I'm.... I'm sort of what happened when the old man.... Uh, surely you all know that part, right?"

It was still true. It was just starting to feel strangely uncomfortable for some reason.

Trixie nodded in response to it, even though all I'd done was answer her question with another question.

"I just wanted to check if you'd be reluctant to talk about it."

I wasn't too shocked they were really testing me with this. It was a quiz after all. I was just a little surprised they weren't hiding it.

Pinkie then hopped up. I briefly considered asking for 'Shy's help. I'd only had any real large scale exposure to her today, having been fortunate to keep it low previously, but I feared it was all but a taste of things to come.

"Oooh, my turn now! Now I get to know you!" She shook both my hooves like I was a water pump. "Hi Fluttercruel! Nice to meet you! I'm Pinkie Diane Pie! But just Pinkie Diane or Pinkie Pie if that's what you're used to! Wait. I've been talking to you all day! Aaagh! I already do know you! Rats! Oh well. I need to think of another question.... Dashie, you go while I think."

"I'll wait, actually. I think I want to be last. Just for once..." She said, not even looking at Pinkie but instead directing her penetrating gaze right at me.

I gulped nervously. That tone did not bode well, and the glare, whilst not even on the same level as The Stare, was still unnerving.

"Oh. Okay then. Rarity?" Pinkie said, with no ideas.

"Oh? Ah..." The fashionable mare was taken off guard.

I was sensing a theme from the unicorns.

"Rarity Belle. Owner and proprietor of the Carousel Boutique. Pleased to meet you." We shook hooves daintily.

"Fluttercruel. Ditto."

"Well, I have to be honest, my main worry, well, I... I'm not really sure it's fair to ask this." She said nervously.

I tried to look at her reassuringly.

"I don't mind. I won't mind. At least I'll try not to mind."

"Okay. Well... Fluttershy and I go weekly to the spa together. I just want to know... your presence... it won't affect that, will it?"

I tried not to laugh, but I did. When I stopped, Rarity seemed worried, and some of the others looked quizzical. I tried to defuse the situation fast.

"Oh, no. No, it won't affect it. Or rather it hasn't effected it. The last four times we all went I was daydreaming the whole time pretty much. Those twins know how to treat a pony."

She raised an eyebrow.

"Oh. So you were there. I see. Well, darling, that's fine for everypony! As long as you don't feel left out at the spa that is..."

I shrugged.

"It's good for the body at least. 'Shy looks after it pretty well."

"Good. That seems fine to me. "

She paused. I tried to prompt her.

"Anything else to ask?"

"Hm... Well, I was... Ah, no... Hm..."

She hmm'ed and ah'ed and pondered things for what seemed an eternity, but was probably just ten to fifteen seconds. And then she had something.

"Well, it's sort of a personal taste matter, but... what do you think of Fluttershy's mane style since you have to share it?"

I pondered this. It didn't mean much to me...

"I don't really worry about it that much right now. 'Shy can take care of how we look."

"Would that extend to dresses? It's just I was thinking perhaps you may prefer different fashions to Fluttershy. I was trying to think of ways to ensure any dresses would suit you both..."

I shook my head.

"I'm not really too concerned with dresses. That's still more 'Shy's side of the cloud."

Rarity nodded.

"I see. Well, darling, if you ever want a dress that's more 'you' than anything Fluttershy has, let me know post haste and I'll come up with something ASAP!"

This wasn't any sign of trust, that much I know. Rarity would likely ponder offering clothing to an invading alien army.

"Good heavens, your armor is simply... so last season! Those crow emblems on the shoulders... ugh, and that red is simply not a good color for this spring, darling. Especially with the white and black on the shoulder pads. The eagle motif on the chest is nice, but would probably be nicer in another color, and the whole towering eight feet tall thing is very imposing but I honestly think the glowing green eyes is just overkill..."

I smiled a little at the idea. Of course logically the alien or aliens probably wouldn't understand her, but it was just an idle thought that didn't bear my attention that much.

Especially if it makes me miss Rarity pondering more questions and ultimately giving up.

Marshmallow asked in a small voice, "Would you like to model for my dresses?"

My jaw fell away. I felt 'Shy (and thus me) becoming faint. But I wouldn't let her! "Yes!" Rarity trotted a bit back. "Yes yes yes yes! I would love to! It would be great! I'm a bit worried I have scars under my coat! But you'd still want me to model?! Yes yes yes! I'd love it! All those eyes on me! Me in all their eyes burned into their memory forever, I'd love--" I blushed and clapped my mouth shut. "That is...;" I regained my composure. There's that weird smile of Rainbow's again, but she didn't laugh like I thought she would. "I would have no objections to helping you with that."

Rarity stared in open mouth awe, blinked, grinned manic like a foal given a new toy, then coughed and collected herself.

"Sorry, I can't think of anything else." She whispered in my ear, "No need to worry about the scars, they're hardly noticeable now that your fur has grown over them, and most of them are on the part of you a dress would probably cover as it is. Next week, after the spa." I nodded. "Who is it now?"

"Okay, got questions now!" Pinkie said, as Twilight had been readying to speak, I'm surprised she didn't have note cards...that I could see.

I nodded, a little annoyed the first unicorn to have an actual plan was cut off. And then I became terrified because now it was Pinkie.

"...Do you like cupcakes? The dessert, not that fanfic."

"Yes." I sighed.

"Do you like to party?"

"Yes."

"What's your favorite color?"

"Dark purple?"

"Favorite kind of music?"

"Don't have one yet."

"If I was a colt, would you date me?"

"NO!"

"What if you were the colt?"

"NO!"

"And how long have you been around for?"

"Well I was 'born' during that whole thing with the Old Man, so around a month?" I replied, unsure of both the answer and where she was going.

"Would you say EXACTLY a month?" She pressed.

I shrugged.

"Sure. Actually a few weeks more than that but that works."

Let's go with that, I thought. What harm can it do, I thought. I need to stop thinking or think more.

For in response to the answer, she grinned a grin that will haunt me forever.

"Happy Monthiversary then! I need to get some practice with this song when the Cake's foal is born!"

She then began to sing.

'MOMMY MAKE THE CRAZY PONY GO AWAY!

I retreated into our mind like I was on fire and tried my hardest to block her out.


I eventually calmed down enough to see out of our eyes, that 'Shy seemed to be slowing Pinkie down at least.

"Pinkie.... Pinkie, you're scaring her. Calm down."

"Oh... Sorry. I guess when I sing it to Baby Cake I need to tone it down?" The pink pony pondered.

We nodded, and 'Shy clarified the issues she had spotted with the song other than the 'causing me to scream in terror and hide in our brain' problem.

"I'd tone it down a little. I'd probably drop the hard bass, maybe omit the dramatic chords, just completely abandon the rap section, tone down the backmasking..."

"Ooh, you noticed? If I sang that bit backwards it'd sound like 'eat more baked goods' because baked goods are awesome!"

"...Actually, I'm pretty sure sung backwards that line said 'Luna Won't You Cry For Me I'm as lonely as I've ever been' but it was a good idea. Just not that good for a birthday-style song. Oh, and the cannon, chimes, and brass fanfare ending you seem to have planned for it is just way over the top."

I was calming down enough to realize Pinkie hadn't finished the song off thanks to 'Shy and...

...Holy horseapples.

"What. The. Hay. Is. That." I asked, taking control back, and pointing at the bizzare tube-shaped thing pointing out of the window that hadn't been there a moment ago.

"That's what Ah said." AJ sighed.

"The cannon for the ending! It's an L118 Happy Howitzer MK II! It's supposed to be MUCH louder than my old Party Cannon MK I. Shoots 300% more balloons and 200% more confetti and can render an entire town party ready with just a few barrages. I just need to remember to load it next time! I was going to shout BANG for the end of the song."

"Pinkie? No next time. Please just get rid of that thing. What is wrong with you?" Twilight asked from... below the table where everyone else was hiding.

"Oh, come on, Twilight, I haven't even fired it, it's not loaded so I can't even fire it, and it's pointed out of a window. It's perfectly safe!" Pinkie said, leaning on it giving it a soft pat.

When our ears stopped ringing, I had to agree, it was louder than her original Party Cannon. As testified by half of Ponyville when they heard it and saw the balloon mushroom cloud with sparkles in the distance.

'Shy had taken emergency control and had rushed outside to help Angel keep all the animals from triggering another rabbit stampede. Her animals were on watch from City Hall as it was.

"Is there anything important that direction?" Dash asked.

"Just Ghastly Gorge. Good thing too, if it was facin' out the other window Ah reckon it'd hit Hoofington."

Trixie understandably growled at Pinkie Pie.

Pinkie made the smallest, saddest, most doe eye grin imaginable, "Uh, no harm no foul?"

Trixie's horn lit up like a lightning storm. "Trixie will show you no foul!"

After Pinkie Diane got to experience electroshock therapy and Trixie got to feel Equestria's biggest group-hug tackle the three unicorns present began dismantling the bizarre contraption under the watchful eye of a panicky Pinkie Diane.

Once done Twilight spoke while Pinkie and Spike dragged it outside to dispose of it.

"Okay. My turn now. Hello, I'm Twilight Sparkle."

"Nice to meet you," I said calmly as I hoof shook, "Fluttercruel."

"Fluttercruel... I'll be honest. You've been around for a month. You're a result of... the 'Old Man's' work. Applejack says you're telling the truth about what you think of yourself. You're reluctant to talk about some things but open with others..."

She paused. Outside, Pinkie poured some strange liquid over the Happy Howitzer from a red can.

"What do you think we think of you?"

"I... I don't know. I thought I was supposed to be letting you all know me. I really only know you all from being there with Fluttershy. But... But I think you don't really trust me. And that I can't just say a few words to earn that and we all know it. We all need to work at it."

She nodded.

"I said I'd be honest. And I will be. We don't quite trust you yet. But so far I've seen proof you're a different pony from Fluttershy. I don't think you're an alter ego of her or something that's dangerous. But we're going to need to work together."

I nodded too, then gulped nervously.

"You're the one who dumped the bucket of water on my head and started the game of 'keep away' with the Elements Reference Guide when Discord was destroying the world?"

"Yes." I offered no excuses. Fluttershy tried to assert herself to say I didn't know any better at the time, I bit our tongue.

"And Fluttershy thought it was herself?"

"Yes. And I thought I was Fluttershy. I chose the name Flutter'cruel' because it was the first word I heard when I was born in our body."

"'Our body?' Don't ya'all all mean her body?"

"No, our body. When I was born I thought of it as my body. But now that . . . I'm done trying to be, forceful, I see it as my body and 'Shy's. We don't really turn each other 'on' or 'off'. We both always here, it's more like one of us takes a step back or step foreword or are standing side by side, neither of us is really ever 'gone.' "

"And She asked the stallion, 'What tis thy name?' and the stallion replied, 'My name is Legion, for we are many.'" Twilight quoted.

"There's only two of us." I said dully.

Twilight lowered her head, "Sorry, sort of, slipped out."

"I don't blame the comparison."

"A pony has the right to change their name when they get their cutie mark, why are you still calling yourself Fluttercruel?"

"My name was all I had when I was born, the one piece of outside proof I ever was, it's precious to me."

"You're also . . . the one who made Fluttershy turn into Nightmare Whisper?"

"I wanted to die. No, I didn't think I was alive TO die, I wanted to cease to exist, except I didn't exist for that to happen either, I wanted to...just not be, limbo. But I didn't want to vanish with a debt over my head for 'Shy not taking me to you to be erased when we first met. So I showed her the real world. I showed her nature isn't all Bambi . . . I never thought that would be her response . . . "

"And you're the one who then saved us from Nightmare Whisper, and who acted as a unique Element of Kindness who all together we saved Fluttershy with. After that, thing-foal, said it would kill you and you helped us anyway?"

"Yes?"

"I don't believe the Elements of Harmony make those kinds of mistakes. You were willing to face your mistakes. And, I can see right now you're very different from the gray Fluttershy that . . . that I saw on that day."

Twilight said no more and trotted back from us with a hoof sake.

"Your turn, I guess." I said to Dash.

She gave me a look, and then spoke.

"...Spike. We missed Spike. Spike needs to ask you a question."

"Huh? What about me?" Spike said, re-entering with Pinkie. Outside, a fire was burning.

"Your turn."

"Oh. Hi. I'm Spike."

"Fluttercruel." He took my hoof and shook it.

"You're the one who splashed water on me when I was sleeping?"

"Yes. I thought it was funny." I said in a voice that was the opposite of funny.

"And now?"

I gritted my teeth. I lowered her head ever so slightly. "I think, I still found it funny. But you didn't. And nopony else did."

"I guess that'll do," Spike said in a tone I couldn't read.

Rainbow opened his mouth, but then the front door was kicked in. It was Angel. I felt strangely frozen to the spot as he hoped onto a confection table and whispered in my ear, Fluttershy translated as he mimed.

"Yes, I did think you looked cooler with really long legs and you trampled ponies. And yes I meant it when I said I was proud of you."

Angel kicked me in the nose. It throbbed as blood rushed to it making it larger. Then he knelt at me and bowed his head and made a Pinkie swear and pointed at me and himself again and made another kneeling. Shook my hoof once. Then he hopped out again back to his duties.

Everypony looked at me.

I spoke, "'Consider myself punished. And try to look after yourself more than Fluttershy does.'"

"Fine. I'm up, then."

I wanted to ask 'Shy back to help, but whatever Rainbow was going to say would probably be really bad. I decided to try and face it myself.

"Rainbow Dash, the one and only. Future Wonderbolt Captain."

We shook hooves with the emotion of robots.

"Fluttercruel." I bite my tongue before I said 'spawn of the devil.'

"So, Fluttercruel. I'll be honest too. I think you're creepy."

This was a good start. Not.

"The idea you've been lurking in Fluttershy's head. My oldest friend's head, for a month. A little remnant of Discord, in our midst, hiding away. You seem to know we can't instantly trust you because of that. But why did you mention trust? Twilight never asked about trust..."

"I...."

"I'm not done. That part was rhetorical. My real first question is different. Is Fluttershy listening?"

"...Yes" I said, "There's not a mute button we can push. We can zone it out, but we can't just go poof! Sorry. If you don't want 'Shy to listen, she'll try not to, but that's all."

What was she going to ask?

"Then ask her."

'Cruel you don't need to do this alone.'

'No 'Shy, please, just do as she asks.'

' . . . Alright. I'm here if you need me remember.'

"Done."

"Sure?"

"Yes. She said she will, and I bet you're going to trust her a lot more than you do me."

"See, the big question is about trust. How can we trust you not to hurt Fluttershy?"

"What? What are you saying?"

Dash simply looked back, stone-faced.

"I'm saying, how do we know you're not going to snatch control again? Fly around making her do things and make everypony think she did them again? How can we be sure you're really not another corruption in her head again? How do we know you won't hurt her again? "

"Dash..." Applejack tried to cut in, but I shook my head.

How dare she. She has the gall to stand here, when she doesn't even know much about me other than bare bones, and think I'm somehow dangerous to Fluttershy now? And she . . . had every right.

"You don't yet. All you have is my word, 'Shy's word, and that I did my hardest to fix up a mess I caused in the first place."

"Not good enough! If you're going to be around my friend forever, every hour, every moment! How the heck can we ever trust you to be alone with her? How do we know you're not just putting on a show and are gonna just stab her in the hoof with a kitchen knife and laugh at it? Or stab Angel and listen to Fluttershy cry and love it?"

I felt heat build up inside me. I looked at her like a tiger would.

"I'd never deliberately mean to hurt Fluttershy." I said, trying not to respond the way I really wanted to. "I fought my way back from limbo to make up for hurting her last time."

"Oh? How do we know that's true? Do you want to... hurt me, maybe?" Dash pressed her face close to mine, staring me point-blank.

"...I'm seriously considering it." I admitted.

Dash kept up her stare. "Then do it, come on, crack me in the face right here."

I gave a low growl. "No." What was she up to?

"Well then maybe you're just a clone after all. Maybe you're just using some zebra voodoo to make yourself look different and are just like Pinkamen-"

Next thing I know, Rainbow was on her flanks. I gasp, looking at the hoof that had cracked her in the face. I was surprised to see everypony else looked more angry at Rainbow than they did me. "I...I'm sorry...I-"

Then she smirked, then wiped a little blood off her mouth as she got up.

"Good, I finally got to see the real you."

"...Good?! What are you talking about?!"

I was surprised to say the least.

"Yeah. I wasn't sure, but you really are an entirely different pony. Nothing anyone could do could make Fluttershy want to hurt anything, you really meant that punch. I had to make sure you weren't just bluffing and would actually do it."

I felt my body shudder with me. 'Shy?

Applejack facehoofed.

"RD, Ah wanna hurt ya now."

I felt like 'Shy wanted to give her the Stare of Stares, probably because she thinks of me as her daughter . . . 'I won't listen.' Heh, little liar.

"I must say Rainbow Dash that was over the line." Rarity chastised.

"The One and Only Trixie agrees." Trixie noted.

"Eh, what's different there. But yeah. So why'd you hold back Nightmare Whisper when she tried to blind AJ?"

"Because it was my mistake, I should have to clean it up. 'Shy was lost in her nightmare because of me."

"Why'd you talk about trust with Twilight's question?" Dash continued.

"...Didn't you just prove it? I knew you guys can't trust me!" I almost shouted.

"Whoa, settle down. We can't trust you until we know you, and we needed to really know the real you, not some act you're putting on to make us like you. And we're getting there."

"...Huh?!"

"My word Dash, what are you up to here?" Rarity fumed.

"Proving her wrong and making her drop her act. Guys, we do know her. We know she's different and we know she's not dangerous... Well, unless she's provoked. So, yeah. We can trust her..."

I was overwhelmed. This had been eye-opening... I thought Dash was making assumptions about me, but she'd been making me assume things about her. And at the same time about myself. She'd been playing an act with her questions, for everything! But I guess I was putting on an act too. Since when was I skittish and acting all polite? That's NOT me and she saw it the whole time!

"...But she's still kind of creepy."

...Okay, most things.

"Okay, everypony and everydragon, is it time to party now?" Pinkie said.

I whimpered involuntarily. A sympathetic hoof was put on my back by Rarity.

"Don't worry, Pinkie is not normally so . . . Extra-Pinkie."

Pinkie Diane looked me in the eyes. "Sooo... Since it's your party what do you want to do first? A dance? Pin the Tail on the Pony? Ooh, did you know it used to be pin the tail on the donkey years and years and years ago, but then the donkeys complained it was offensive not least because some ponies took it literally and after the invention of the nail gun it was just getting painful for them?"

"That sounds good..." I found myself saying.

"Pin the Tail on the Pony?"

"No, a nail gun, in case Pinkie Pie snaps... Er, I mean, sure. Let's play that." I think I heard Rainbow snicker.

And so we did.

"Oh! I have an idea! Can I try first?! We won't count it for the game though!" Trixie suddenly shouted as the game was set up.

"Well... It is Fluttercruel's party so...."

I shrugged.

"I need to see how it's done." A complete lie, I had 'Shy's memories remember.

The blue unicorn smiled, put the blindfold on, was spun around in circles for a moment. and then stood far back from the paper pony picture that the plan was to perforate the plot of with a pointy pin. The tail and pin she held glowed, and then shot forward.

"...Trixie, you're looking through the blindfold with magic." Twilight noted.

"She's cheating?!" Pinkie gasped.

"No! I'm experimenting. See, it doesn't count, I said, so maybe for the magic show there could be knife throwing. But safe because I can see perfectly! Safer still with magic shield spells, illusions, and so on..."

"...But anypony who knows magic would sense something was wrong." Rarity noted.

Trixie frowned.

"Drat. They would. Oh well. Your turn, Fluttercruel."

I gave it a go. I wasn't too bad at it, but the game did descend into a slight farce a few moments later...


"...Twilight! now you're doing it!"

"Ah! Sorry, I was trying to mask it to see if Trixie could..."


"...Rarity? Are you trying to mask it too?"

"Why, yes, dear, I thought Twilight's idea was..."

"...You're not hiding it very well. In fact you're making it pretty obvious."

"Oh. How can you tell, Rainbow Dash?"

"The glowing eyes behind the blindfold is a clue but the fact you've got a red line of light shooting out the tip of your horn to where the pin went is also a giveaway."


"AAGH, HOW DID IT CATCH FIRE?!"

"Trixie, you put too much magic into the masking spell! Let it go!"

"Enough already."


Several perfect hits later.

"Pinkie! Are you using your Pinkie Sense!?"

" . . . maybe?"


Several poked walls later . . .

"Rainbow Dash, put that nail gun away now!"


In the end, we had a few pins on target, some nails in the roof, goodness knows what Pinkie had managed to do with hers, and a distressingly empty fire extinguisher. All in all, a pretty exciting game.

"What now?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"Ooh, I know, musical sta..." Pinkie began to say.

A quick hoof over her mouth from Rarity silenced her, however. There was then some whispering from the white coated mare to the pink one, that seemed to mention a cockatrice, and what sounded like 'book fort', as bizarre as it sounded. There was then a glance at Twilight Sparkle, who raised an eyebrow puzzled, and then Pinkie was released to speak.

"...Musical... sta.... sta... sta-irs. Like musical chairs but... you... have to sit on the stairs?"

There was confusion.

"Or we could just play regular musical chairs?" Twilight Sparkle said.

"That too. That'll do."

It wasn't much of a contest. Dash, Pinkie, and Applejack dominated the game with their speed and agression/enthusiasm. Five rounds saw Dash win two, Applejack win two, and Pinkie win the other.

"Ah say we do somethin' else now. Like hoof wrasslin'!" Applejack declared, with a glance at Dash.

Rarity sighed.

"Honestly, you two. This is Fluttercruel's night, and..."

"Sounds like fun!" I suggested. Finally something my style!

"If you're sure, darling..."

"Of course she's sure! Let's do this, AJ!"

At once the pegasus and earth pony began to hoof wrestle like the irresistible rain-force meets the unmovable apple-object.

"Alright!" I said at once, "Marsh- I mean Rarity wrestle Pinkie Pie, I'll take Sparkle, and Trixie and Spike can have at it."

"As if I'd take part in something so-Wagh!" Rarity began before Pinkie Pie pulled her away to one end of the table.

"Trixie does not lose at anything!"

"Except when it's magic compared to Twilight," Spike sniggered.

'Good one.'

Trixie grumbled. "You're mine lizard."

"Wanna forfeit Twilight? No shame in backing off from a contest you can't win," I said at her with coy look on my face hiding one eye behind my mane.

"Actually. No. This'll be a good chance to learn something." Twilight smiled.

"Heh. Just don't say I didn't warn you when you have to limp on that leg for a while." I smirked in her innocent beaming face. "Let the games begin!"

"HI-YAH!"

"Owie . . . " Pinkie Pie rubbed her hoof when her opponent had split the cheap rebuilt wood table down the middle, "Rarity, how'd you learn to wrestle like that?"

"Ha! My father spent years trying to turn me away from the path of lady-hood and turn me into the athlete he wanted! Hoof wresting was one of the first games I learned!" Rarity boasted.

Trixie's bloodshot eyes crossed as Spike's eyes became slit as he hissed with his fork tongue. Their muscles bulged. "TRIXIE WILL NOT LOSE! TRIXIE CAN NOT LOSE!" Inch by inch, Spike forced her hoof to the table, "TRIXIE--MUST--NOT--LOSE!" But she lost anyway.

Trixie fumed, "I hate you."

Spiked kissed his invisible muscles. "You say that only cause you like me."

"Want me to go easy on you?" I looked with the eye of the tiger.

Twilight looked back with eyes of a dove. "No please, do your best please Cruel, it is your Cute-ceañera."

"Your funeral!"

Huh? Something's not right here. Oh come on! There's no way our body is weaker than a pony who spends all her days reading using horn magic! There's-just-no- "I win!" Twilight cheered.

"How? HOW?" I gasped at her bewildered.

"Oh! I read a book on hoof wrestling once! The first thing it said was having superior physical strength does not automatically guarantee a win. Second you should apply a small amount of back press, also keep your foreleg as close to your body as possible and-"

"Enough," I pleaded putting my hooves to my head. I guess those self defense books were right when they said a 'drop of skill is better than a sea of force', lesson learned. "So who won with Rainbows and Orange Apple?"

"I think they're still going," Spike pointed.

Yep. Should've seen that coming. The two were still locked in mortal combat.

"MORTAL KOMBAT!"

"Pinkie! Turn down that music!" Twilight shouted.

"Sorry." Pink apologized at once. Too bad, I kind of liked it.

"Wow, she's lasting a lot longer than last time," Spike said.

"Last time?" Trixie asked.

"Trixie, the moment we get home you are reading all my copies of my friendship reports and I am telling you the story behind each one," Twilight answered simply.

"About time," Trixie replied simply.

Spike said, "Applejack and Rainbow Dash did an Irony Pony Competition before . . . I filled in a lot of roles that got me a lot of bruises."

"Sounds like I missed a lot of fun," Trixie said with a smile.

Then history repeated itself (I, Fluttershy was there as scorekeeper remember?) and Applejack was on the floor.

"Gha! Best of three!" She shouted a second later.

I tried not to giggle, but I did smile, closing my eyes.

"Tarnation! Best o' five?"

"Uh, Applejack, this is a single elimination competition and-"

"Best o' seven!"

"Fine we'll do the other rounds first," Twilight said. "Rarity, you'll go against me, Spike, you'll fight Rainbow when AJ . . . gives up, er, wears herself out."

"Huh? Why me?"

"Because if you went against Rarity she'd wink at you and you'd lose instantly, and if you wrestled me you'd hold back because you don't want me to be a sore loser and stack you with extra choirs."

Rarity gave a melodramatic gasp. "Twilight! I'm shocked you'd accuse me of such under-hoofed tactics!"

"Trust me Twilight, I'd never hold back at a chance to wrestle you!" Spike grinned.

Twilight got a perplexed look on her face.

"Alright fine, I'll wrestle you, and Rarity can wrestle Rainbow."

"Twilight, certainly you wouldn't have a lady-"

"What Twilight says goes," I said before this turned into a hamster wheel. Plus, I did kind of want to see Rainbow get her flank kicked by the 'girly' one of the group.

So Twilight and Spike set claw against hoof.

This was going to be over fast.

Pony hoof and dragon claw struggled against each other so hard the table shook.

"Eh?" Twilight said surprised.

"I was reading over your shoulder!" Spike declared.

We watched in awe as the purple limps went left and right, almost touching the table before getting a second wind and resisting . . . Spike was a dragon . . . but a BABY dragon . . . and as Twilight lasted against his surprising superior muscle mass in his tiny frame his reserves began to wear out until - "I WIN!"

"Dangit." Spike rubbed his claws.

"You left the room before I finished the last chapter, conserving your strength and letting your opponent wear themselves down."

Alright, it was official, I so had to check out that book.

"Best of eleven!"

"So... Just us six for now. What do we do?" Spike wondered. "This could go on for awhile."

"Maybe a board game. Like Monopony," Trixie suggested.

"...That takes hours." Spike noted.

Trixie simply pointed a hoof at the two hoof-wrestlers. At this point it was looking like we were going to have Applebuck Season Part 2.

"Best of thirteen!"

"...I see your point." The dragon backed down.

"It's still a bad party game. There's a reason some ponies call it Monotony." Pinkie noted.

"Well... Perhaps truth or dare?" Rarity suggested.

I grinned.

"...Maybe not." Trixie said with some obvious alarm.

I ungrinned.

"Well, Fluttercruel, any ideas? It's your party..." Twilight tried to get us on track.

"...Darn! Best outta fifteen!"

"What about Blind Mare's Bluff?" I suggested.

"This room is a little too cluttered for such a game." Rarity said.

Drat. That had been the plan.

There was silence bar the sounds of hoof-wrestling, and ever increasing scale of victory.

"Best out of nineteen!"

Rainbow's victory high was beginning to wear off.

Rarity, Twilight, and Pinkie Pie all said together right at AJ, "Apple Buck!"

AJ startled as if woken from a dream.

"Ah . . . sorry girls, lost mah head there. Draw RD? Ah dangit, you win."

Everypony but me and Trixie let out a sigh of relief.

"Yes," RD said in a tired tone. "So whose next?"

"Ta-da." Rarity struck a pose.

"Yer kiddin'."

"Afraid to lose to a lady Rainbow Darling?"

"Fat chance. Bring it!"

"AIKITAKI!"

"Break anything RD?" AJ asked calmly looking over RD who was flat on the floor. Yep, it was so worth the wait.

"Only my pride."

"Don't worry sugarcube, that heals fast for ya."

"Ready to go Twilight?" Rarity said striking a martial arts pose.

Twilight's eyes became pin pricks. "I think I'm going to practice the better part of valor." Twilight bowed and swiftly trotted backwards without turning away.

"RARITY! WINS!"

"Pinkie, lose that there creepy voice changer!"


Blindfold based games were out. A few suggestions were shot down from lack of colts present. An idea of Pinkie's failed as we already lacked clothing. And suggestions of drinking games had brought numerous warnings that Twilight Sparkle was a complete lightweight who would probably be away with the faeries just looking at anything stronger than apple juice. So was I, so sue me.

A drunk Pinkie Pie was simply something to whether the storm of and laugh about later. A drunk Twilight had required the Cutie Mark Crusaders to sneak in and slap a triple strength sealing on Twilight's horn to get the books to stop back-up singing and the house tree to stop tap-dancing and assure Ponyville that Discord had not returned. (This was followed by a five page letter to The Princess by Twilight Sparkle on why drinking was bad, two days later when the hangover went away). Apparently, a drunk unicorn was supposed to be unable to concentrate on magic enough to do it, but in Twilight's case, loss of control over her magic wasn't such a good idea. Twilight insisted it had to be a side effect of her simply not seeking help at first after her trauma with the Old Man.

Twilight had built up the courage to try again, but apparently even Pinkie wasn't that crazy (or wasn't anymore).

She disputed this with Pinkie, but I decided the risks of Twilight proving her tolerances were better than advertised (or rather the amusing benefits of her proving that they were as bad as everypony said) did not balance against the threat of a drunk Pinkie. I not was ending up a clown costume!

Besides, the notion of drinking did not sit that well with me.

So we sat with Pinkie and Dash discussing what record to play next, and I decided to consult 'Shy.

''Shy? Are you there?'

'Oh... Oh, is something wrong?' She sounded startled, but not that surprised.

'Not really. It's just we don't have many ideas for games. Most of them have... issues.'

'Oh. How about the quiet game?'

I sighed, outside and in.

'Pinkie would lose, Dash would lose soon after by laughing, Applejack would go out, Spike would laugh, Twilight would admonish him, Rarity would come to his defense, and then I'd probably lose it and burst out laughing. Trixie wins, the end.'

'...I could play? If... If you want me to.'

'No. I think you and Trixie would last longer than hoof-wrestling.'

"...Dash, not all of us have wings to do that, and besides, how do y'all even expect to play cloudball at this time o'night?"

"It was just an idea!"

"Ooh! Scary stories! It's getting late after all! Oh, wait, was this going to be a sleepover? We could make this a sleepover! I remember there was one time I wanted a sleepover on the farm but dad said no because I wanted to invite some colts and it took me about five years to realize colts had cooties then another five to realize that they don't. Oh, by the way, does anypony even know why foals talk about cooties? It's really silly when you think about it..." Pinkie bounced from topic to topic.

I then realized something.

"Maybe we should just have something to eat?"

"...And that's when I discovered that the alt-fire mode fired shurikens and I was like whoaaaaa this is AWESOME and... Oh, yeah, that's a good point. We all forgot to eat!"

And so we did.

"Scootaloo says the Unlockable The Triple Rocket Launcher beats the Auto Fire Shurikens," RD said under her breath.

And I discovered that Mexicoltian food is spicy.

Very spicy. Spike, Pinkie and I were the only ones with a real tolerance for it. The others didn't eat much of it. Dash felt it needed to be about twenty percent spicier.

"...Fluttercruel? You okay there?"

Pinkie may have had something to do with it, but it was spicy enough that Fluttershy felt like her mouth was on fire. Oddly, though, I was fine with it.

"Yes. I'm fine. Why?"

"Oh, nothin' sugarcube. It's just... Well... Ya kinda got steam comin' out of yer ears."

"Ah. Do I look warm?"

Dash nodded.

"You're sweating quite a bit. In fact, the last time Fluttershy tasted super-mild paprika she thought that was too hot. "

"Okay...."

I then wondered what would happen if I let 'Shy slip back in front.


"...Sheesh, girl, ya seem like you could've drank about ten gallons o' milk there if we hadn't run out. It weren't that bad, were it?"

"It was for her apparently..." I groaned. Fluttershy had not reacted well to it at all. I might have found it funny if we didn't share a body.

"Hm... This could bear studying. Mentally, 'Cruel evidently has better tolerance for capsaicin, but the shared body still seems to react to 'Shy's tolerances. It's making me think there's an element of a psychosomatic or placebo-like effect in play. I wonder what other sorts of differences there might be..." A certain purple pony was prosing.

"Twilight, dear, this is not the time or the place for a science project." Rarity sighed.

"...Fire eating. No, wait, that needs serious training and the magic spells for it are obvious..." Trixie muttered.

I stared at the last glass of milk, 'Shy's little spicy episode having drained both bottles of milk we had, and then another two that Dash had fetched from Sweet Apple Acres. I wasn't sure just how much that was, but it seemed to have been enough to calm 'Shy down. And make us feel sick to our stomach.

"...Anypony else want this glass?"

Pinkie gleefully grabbed it, and produced a bottle of Chocolate flavoring from somewhere. She seemed about the only one not a bit unnerved at the sight of chocolate milk. Leave it to the Old Man to traumatize ponies of a beverage.

Finally we served the cake. 'Shy didn't care much for the dark bitter chocolate flavor but I found it appealing. Pinkie wolfed her piece down, Rarity politely nibbled, AJ and RD scarfed theirs down like it was contest (maybe it was), Trixie took one bite and gave the rest to Twilight who didn't look too pleased at that. Spike of course loved it. He was more than happy to finish off the rest.

Gifts? Not much. Rarity of course got me a dress our size that ever so slightly more racy than her normal work. AJ got me a bottle of cider she had from her family's private store house (we stayed between it and RD), thankfully not the hard kind. Twilight of course got me a book (some classic novel, no, it wasn't 'Jekyll and Hyde'). Pinkie of course got me a box of candy (strangely with none of them 'taste tested'). Dash admitted she wasn't able to get me anything, and I accepted that and moved on. Spike got me a hoof trimmer.

Trixie admitted she wasn't used to -giving- gifts, and handed me a card for a 'one command performance' for the One and Only Trixie. So yea.

Everyone was surprised but me when Fluttershy shifted to the front for a minute as she took a gift box out, "Happy cute-ceañera." And I shifted back and opened it.

"You said that was for your mother," I whispered.

She laughed in her mind. 'And we can't be sure can we?'

I put on the emerald necklace.

"Those symbolize rebirth and foresight." Twilight said.

"So they do." I made a small laugh, and then came the big group hug.

Pinkie then played every iteration and remix of Equestria Girls ever released, official and otherwise. Then I got her to switch to an extended remix of Meglomaniac from Pony-A-Pony. There wasn't much room for seven ponies and one baby dragon to dance, so Rainbow Dash and me simply break danced on the ceiling ('Shy nearly tossed our cake from the spinning, but I loved it). Rarity and Twilight all but dragged their fellow unicorn onto the small dance floor. Pinkie danced like a maniac and kept bumping with Applejack who bumped back. Spike took the safe course of dancing on the table. I can't say I didn't have fun.

Outside Luna's moon was high in the sky.

"Well, it's rather late now. I'm afraid I really must get my beauty sleep..." Rarity said.

At this, it seemed everypony else realized the time.

"I should head off too. Spike needs his... Okay, Spike already is asleep. Proves my point." Twilight chuckled.

Trixie snored.

"...Looks like I have two to drag back home."

"Yeah, ah should head to hit the hay too. Prob'ly gonna be wantin' to kick mahself come the rooster crowin' at sunrise for stayin' up so late."

"Oh, I've got an early shift myself."

I was surprised to realize Pinkie had said that. She wandered back in, with a moustache of chocolate milk. She licked it off before anypony even pointed it out.

"Yeah, and... Well, I don't have any weather stuff tomorrow but uh... I should really be heading home." Dash said, rubbing the back of her neck with a hoof.

"Need to tuck Scootaloo in bed?" I smirked.

RD blushed furiously and flew off.

My own reply was a yawn.

"...I guess that settles it."

Angel hopped in rubbing his eyes as the marshmallow, the orange apple, and Pink, all trotted out.

I was surprised to see Twilight staying put.

"Aren't you going?"

"Well, Trixie and Spike are already asleep, so there's no real point in me going sooner. I'm a night owl by nature."

"Heh. True enough." I hoofed Twilight a glass of soft-cider.

Twilight downed it. She trusted me.

"Not bad. Applejack keeps the hard-cider under lock in magic proofed walls."

"And how do you know that?"

"I never knew cider could be so good until I tried Sweet Apple Acre's."

"I see. So what did you think about scary stories?"

"Seems as good a way to spent the rest of the night as any. Heard the one about the headless horse?"

"I actually have a few horror stories too, well maybe they're not quite horror but-"

"Oh? What are they?"

"Just a few dreams I had after I was first . . .born. Cupcakes. Cheerilee's Garden. Pattycakes. Sweet Apple Acre's Massacre."

Twilight cringed. "Well. I've read plenty of horror. Bring it."

++++

"You are a sick pony with a sick imagination."

"You forget who my father was. I'm just glad me and 'Shy don't see each others dreams. And just remember . . . . those stories are all absurd. There's no way any of them would actually do any of those, ever. That's what makes it a joke."

"If they're the same story, I can see why Pinkie hates Cupcakes so much...You know the problem with all those?"

"What?"

"They're just gore. There was no real FEAR to them, just shock value. Base nightmare material. Now . . . let me tell you one that actually uses ponies' psychology against them. By H.P. Horsecraft."

++++

I was shivering in my hooves. "Touche."

"Why thank you." Twilight smiled.

A clock chimed. It was past midnight.

"Now 'Cruel . . . I think there's more one thing you should know."

"Yes?"

"A Cute-Ceañera doesn't signify the end of discovering yourself. It marks the BEGINNING. Who you are, and what your cutie mark really means, can only be determined by you now. Remember that Fluttercruel."

"Thanks I think I will." I yawned again.

"One last thing. Trixie meant for it to be her, but she fell asleep before she could so . . . " She lead me outside, and poked Trixie awake.

"The One and Only Trixie will-- eh?"

"Just figured you'd want to be awake for this."

Twilight's horn glowed.

And the stars sparkles in the heavens in multiple colors as fireworks burst to life.

"You copied my spell," Trixie said darkly.

"And you copied mine."

"Touche."

But I wasn't paying attention. The new short lived stars formed into a shape . . . my cutie mark, my Element of Kindness. It was beautiful. And so was I.

"Cheerful Cute-Ceañera Fluttercruel, forever."

"Thank you." I whispered, nodded, and fell into dreamland, I felt a unicorn's magic catch me, I didn't fear, I trusted my friends.

+++

'Fluttercruel? Can you hear me?'

'Yeah, 'Shy, what is it? We didn't scare you too much with the stories, did we?'

'A little...'

'I felt you nearly made us faint...three times.'

'Sorry...Did you enjoy your Cute-Ceañera, 'Cruel?'

'...Yeah, I think I did...I guess the others are okay, after you get to know them.'

'Good, I'm glad...Um, about what Rainbow said...'

'Don't worry, I'm not mad at her. I can't blame her for feeling that way...'

'That's not it...well, that's part of it...But there's something else...'

'Yeah?'

'...I trust you, Fluttercruel...'

'...Thanks, 'Shy.'

~Fin