• Published 12th Jan 2018
  • 4,373 Views, 124 Comments

I Am Awkward (Yellow) - J Carp

Two shy, yellow ponies meet and hit it off. But friendship problems don't stop just because romance is on the table.

  • ...

Yellow Brick Road

"Here it is!" Twilight said proudly, as she led Starlight Glimmer into the former storage room, which had been equipped with two bookshelves, a cheap desk, and literally nothing else. "Careful, I'm still setting it up."

"Um, this is the new pony's lab?" Starlight Glimmer asked, ticking an eyebrow. "It's... kind of small, right?"

"Yep!" Twilight said cheerfully, levitating manuscripts from a cardboard box and into one of the bookshelves. "I know not everypony is as spartan as I am, but believe me, Moon Dancer is. She'll spend most of her time in the library or the field, anyway. If her lab is too big, she'll probably just fill it up with trash."

Starlight frowned, very obviously refraining from even looking into the dark corners of the room, where no janitor had ever set foot. "Still, compared to the rest of the castle, this is pretty, uh, stripped down, isn't it?"

Twilight shook her head, still grinning happily. "Oh, no no no. Trust me, Starlight, she'll think this is cozy."

"How do you know?" Starlight asked. "You act like you know this pony. Did you meet her at a conference or something?"

"What?" Twilight quickly trotted out of the room and then trotted back in, levitating a small, potted plant with her. "No, Starlight, this is Moon Dancer. Remember? That pony whose party I skipped and she got so mad at me?"

"Wait, hold on a second," Starlight said, bugging her eyes out. "This is that pony you were friends with? The pony you're giving a huge grant to... is your old friend from school? Twilight, are you sure this is ethical?"

Twilight fixed the leaves on the plant, then she fixed them again, then she kept fixing them a bit obsessively. "I was worried about that, but it was Princess Celestia who made the final decision, and she thinks it's fine. Moon Dancer really is the right pony for the job."

Starlight narrowed her eyes. "If she's such a brilliant Gifted Unicorn, why did she need this Everfree grant, then? Shouldn't she be set for life?"

"She was doing fine, but not reaching up to her potential," Twilight sighed. "Moon Dancer could be the smartest pony I've ever met, but her career has had no focus, so far." She gestured over to the bookcase of manuscripts. "I mean, look at some of the things she's published! 'A History of Griffon Marble Sculpture, from the years 805-815.' 'The Effects of Neurotransmitters Galaxompin and Whizzatandril on Unicorn Illusion Potency.' 'The Coffee Plant as Sign of Earth Pony Cultural Prestige.' Look, she wrote this biography of Emperor Green Grass II in Ancient Equestrian. Her grammar is perfect, but I don't even know why she did that!"

Starlight blinked. "That's... wow. She's certainly well-studied, at least?"

"Yes, but there's no rhyme or reason to it!" Twilight huffed. "That's why this job is perfect for her. There's countless things about the Everfree we don't know, and this grant will let her study any and all of it, using any methods she wants. She has to focus, but she also has flexibility."

"Well," Starlight pouted, "I guess you'll have a great time with your brilliant, awesome friend from school working next door."

Twilight gawked at Starlight in alarm. "What? Starlight, are you jealous?"

"No," Starlight answered, jealously.

"Starlight! No, it's not about that. I'm trying to build an academic community here in Ponyville, and you're a big part of that, too! I want you guys to be able to work together, okay? I think you'll really like her. Right?" Twilight giggled with a tinge of mania. "You'll like her? Oh please like her I kind of accidentally ruined her life for a couple of years."

Starlight chuckled. "Okay, okay. I'm excited to meet her. And I bet she'll fit in with Trixie and Maud, too."

"I mean, maybe not Trixie..." Twilight mumbled quietly.

"Oh, and we could start a reading group, or something? That doctor pony might be interested, and maybe Cheerilee?"

"there's nothing wrong with her she's just not a scientist," Twilight continued, and then much more loudly added, "Yes, I think that's a great idea."

"I think so, too," Starlight said. She paused, glancing around nervously. "Um, so, are we just pretending we don't see Pinkie Pie, or...?"

"What?" said Twilight, and then Pinkie fell from the ceiling, face millimeters from her own. "Augh!!"

Pinkie stood, frozen, staring into Twilight's eyes. She was dressed as a ninja clown, and she had the most serious expression on her face that Twilight had ever seen. "Twilight," she whispered harshly. "Did you ask her?"

"Pinkie! What...?"

"Did. You ask. Moon Dancer. About. Her going-away. Par. Ty."

The word 'party' clicked something in Twilight's brain, and she calmed. Pinkie was a ninja clown who could walk on the ceiling because she wanted to do a party; okay, things made sense again. "Oh, yes I did," she said. "She says it's fine. She's happy to have another Pinkie Pie party after she ended up enjoying the last one so much."

"Yay!" Pinkie screeched, suddenly no longer wearing a costume. "It'll be so greaaaaaaaaaaaaaa..." her voice receded as she galloped down out the door, down the hallway, and through a nearby open window.

"Oh, so you didn't even see her?" Starlight asked, smirking. "I guess my Pinkie Senses are..."

"Wait." Twilight help up a hoof.

Nothing happened for a few seconds, but then, just faintly, they could hear it: "..aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat! OH HEY GUYS I FORGOT!" Pinkie stuck her head into the storage room, grinning wildly. "Dress nice! It's a Caaaaanterlot Party. Bye!"

Twilight smirked back at Starlight. "The Pinkie student has not yet become the Pinkie master, it seems." They both laughed, though it ended with a sigh from Twilight. "Um, could you help me get those plungers off the ceiling?"

Twilight was clearly a wreck, which made Fluttershy feel a little better. That was a terrible thought, and it put Fluttershy in the uncomfortable but not unfamiliar situation of trying to explain to her own mind that the thing she just thought was not meant as bad as it sounded. They were all on the train on the way to Canterlot, to this... party. It was going to be fun, Pinkie Pie parties were always fun, but they were also… a big deal. Twilight being upset just meant she wasn't the only one nervous about things.

"Sugarcube," Applejack was saying, sounding exhausted. "It's really okay. Pinkie's got it all worked out."

"Yes, but," Twilight said, pacing back and forth several times in the space of a few seconds, "Rarity, are you certain you brought all the dresses? Remember, Lyra wanted..."

"Twilight." Rainbow Dash reared up and put her front hooves on her anxious friend's shoulders. "Chill. Okay? It's fine. Chill."

Twilight gaped at her frantically for a moment, then closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and dropped to a sitting position. When she opened her eyes again, she looked more reasonable. "I'm fine. Sorry, girls. I just... I've spent so much time talking about how she was the past couple of years, I've made her seem like not a nice pony. But she is. Right, Spike? Isn't Moon Dancer nice?"

"She gave me a lollipop once," Spike confirmed.

"Well, if she's so nice, then everypony's going to get along, right?" Rainbow prodded. "So you can just sit down and relax."

Applejack sighed. "Look, we all understand you have good reason to be fretting about this after the last time she had a party, but y'all had a new start. She'll be happy if you have a good time."

"Yeah!" Rainbow added. "And the Wonderbolts are all gonna be there! And your brother, and the princesses. This is way different."

Twilight seemed convinced, which relieved Fluttershy, though her mood darkened overall. She did not need to be reminded that all of Rainbow's Wonderbolt friends would be there, not to mention Princess Luna. This was going to be a huge party, and it seemed like everypony else had Canterlot friends they were looking forward to visiting.

She started in surprise as somepony sat down next to her. "Oh! Um, Starlight Glimmer, hi."

"Hey, Fluttershy." Starlight looked over at the rest of the group tutting over Twilight, a soft smile on her face. "It makes me anxious to see Twilight so anxious, so I thought I'd come over here and take a little break. How are you?"

"Oh, I'm fine," Fluttershy replied, not really lying. "How are you?"

"I don't love trains, to be tell you the truth. The... shuffling gets to me. It feels good to sit down." Starlight looked over, raising an eyebrow. "Really, are you all right?"

Fluttershy nodded hesitantly. "Yes? I mean... Canterlot always feels a little weird to me."

"I don't blame you. It's a weird place. But, are you looking forward to the party?"

"Oh, yes." Fluttershy smiled. "And I'm looking forward to meeting Twilight's friend. If Twilight's so worried, I'm sure she's special."

"It doesn't take much to make Twilight worried, but I think you're right." She beamed at Fluttershy. "Talking to you always calms me down. Thanks." Her smile faded slightly. "But really," she said, "how are you doing?"

Fluttershy blinked at her, stymied for a moment. She wondered if Starlight was expressing surprisingly good social skills or surprisingly poor ones. She spent a few seconds trying to sum up her feelings before giving up and giving the closest answer that was not an outright lie: "I'm fine, really."

Starlight nodded, either satisfied or ably pretending to be. The train suddenly lurched around a curve, and her face turned green. She lay back against the seat.

Without thinking, Fluttershy reached over and rested her hoof against Starlight's steadily. She wondered if Starlight knew that putting her in a caretaker role would calm her down, and, not for the first time, she marveled at Twilight's friendship training abilities.

"Oh no!" Twilight suddenly burst out. "I just realized, what if I say her name wrong?" She shifted her weight from left to right, trying out various pronunciations of her friend's name. "MOON Dancer. Moon DanCER. MOon DANcer."

Spike touched her wing gently. "Um, Twilight, maybe we should just go back to the sleeping car and lie down, all right?"

"Yes Spike I think that would be best Moon DANCER," Twilight replied. She let herself be led out of the car. "Moon DANcer. Agh, it doesn't even sound like words anymore!"

The door slid shut behind them. The remaining ponies glanced at one another in concern.

Moon Dancer smiled at Lyra. The silly, green pony was telling some sort of ridiculous story about popcorn, acting out the exploding kernels as they grew out of control and apparently filled her kitchen (it was a ludicrously improbable story, though she supposed Lyra was capable of it). Her slightly more benign doppelganger-in-strangeness, Minuette, laughed uproariously. Twinkleshine and Lemon Hearts laughed too, but more quietly. Bon Bon, Lyra's "best friend" (Moon Dancer almost snorted with amusement after hearing that euphemism) looked decidedly less entertained from having to relive the story.

Moon Dancer's smile was real. She was... actually happy. All around her, the party was active and boisterous, and it had been in full swing for almost three hours. The courtyard was filled with happy, smiling ponies, well-dressed and handsome. She had seen Twilight and they'd had a really good conversation. She actually combed her mane and put on a nice suit and make-up and ponies told her she looked good. She felt a bit gleeful.

"How do you put up with her?" Moon Dancer asked Bon Bon, chuckling along with the others. "She was burning toast when we were fillies. I can't imagine living with her now."

"I'm a secret agent trained at handling dangerous monsters from Tartarus," Bon Bon answered seriously, and everypony laughed more.

Moon Dancer's glee slipped, though her expression did not crack. Had she just implied Lyra was difficult to get along with? Yes, but it had been a joke. Right? Everypony knew she had just been kidding. She wouldn't insult Lyra right to her "best friend's" face, wouldn't ponies understand that? Oh, she loses track of herself for one second, and she just blurts out a mean insult, that was just like her...

"Hey." A hoof waved in front of her face, and she blinked in surprise. Her friends were looking at her, concerned smiles across all their faces. "You were kinda in your own head, there," Lemon Hearts said. "Do you need a Moon Dancer Minute?"

Moon Dancer chuckled nervously and scratched the back of her head with a hoof. "Yeah, probably. Big party, you know?"

"We get it," Twinkleshine said. "Have one of those puff pastries, maybe? They're delicious."

Moon Dancer nodded, and she turned and left her friends behind, strolling casually towards the snack table.

A Moon Dancer Minute (coined by Minuette, who quickly started calling it "Moon Dancer Minuette," which was nowhere close to as funny as she thought it was) was when Moon Dancer was in a social situation and her thoughts got dark. It could be caused by practically anything, but it happened quickly. Disappointment or anxiety or resentment just bubbled up inside her, and she just could not talk with other ponies and deal with those feelings at the same time. And it turned out, the solution was simple: she would go off by herself, refocus on things, get a hold of her thoughts and emotions, and somehow things would get better. Her friends understood. Sometimes, Moon Dancer just needs a minute.

She looked around her at the guests. She saw her sister and brother-in-law talking to one of the castle pegasus guards. Off to the side of the courtyard, next to some columns, Princess Cadence and Shining Armor laughed at a joke Pinkie Pie was telling (and Pinkie somehow, in the middle of her punchline, without anyone else noticing, caught Moon Dancer's gaze and winked). Twilight Sparkle and one of her Ponyville friends, the one with the hat, were talking pleasantly to the Canterlot librarian. "Congratulations, Moon Dancer!" said a passing stallion she remembered from school.

This was her party. It was much bigger than she'd expected; Pinkie had taken it upon herself to invite lots of ponies she barely knew. But many of these ponies, these glamorous, happy ponies, were gathered here because of her. Because they actually liked her, they were proud of her for getting a big new job, and they wanted to celebrate her before she moved.

Moon Dancer smiled softly to herself. She levitated a puff pastry from the table and prepared to toss it into her mouth.

She missed. Her mouth hung open, the pastry bouncing off her cheek and falling to the ground.

While idly looking around, her gaze had tracked to the shadowy corner of the courtyard, near some bushes. There, half-hidden, was the most absolutely stunning pony she had ever seen, wearing a green dress, pink mane sleek and sparkling down her back.

Moon Dancer could hardly understand it. How could one pony be so striking? Princess Celestia was here (Moon Dancer glanced over and saw that the Princess was laughing merrily during a conversation with Twilight's old student, wanting to confirm her esteemed guest was having a good time even in her distracted state) and she looked like a piece of lint by comparison.

Moon Dancer simply stood in shock for a few moments, but then her analytical brain kicked into gear. She frantically looked around for the closest pony she recognized.

It was not a pony. "Spike," she stage-whispered. The baby dragon, who had been quite enthusiastic about nibbling up a tasty puff pastry he had found on the ground, looked up in surprise. "Spike," she repeated, gazing back at the mythical shadow-pony of beauty.

"Um, yeah? It's okay if I eat this, right? You didn't seem to want it."

"Spike," she said a third time. "Who is that."

"Hm?" Spike looked up, scratching his head. "Oh. That's our friend Fluttershy. You should talk to her, she's really nice. Seriously, it's just going to go to waste..." Moon Dancer idly noticed him speaking but could not look away from the angel in the corner.

"'Spike,'" Spike said, affecting a falsetto, "'I demand you eat that puff pastry or I will completely give up on friendship for two years.'" Moon Dancer did not respond. "'Oh, of course Moon Dancer,'" he continued in his regular voice, "'I guess I have to, then!'" He popped the treat into his mouth and chewed happily.

"I'm glad it all worked out," Moon Dancer mumbled. Still without changing her gaze, she reached out her hoof and patted him on the head, before walking away, her mission decided.

The party was crowded, but Moon Dancer walked with purpose. She was buoyed by her Moon Dancer Minute and intoxicated by gratitude to her loved ones. "Am I really doing this yes I am doing it!" she thought madly as she nodded politely to some passing acquaintances. "I am just going to walk up to that gorgeous pony I've never talked to before and make friends." She almost burst into maniacal laughter, but instead she smiled apologetically to the somewhat large unicorn she was scooting past.

Fluttershy had never been more miserable in her life, a thought which caused immediate regret as soon as she had it. She was certain that all of these ponies were very nice. But the thing was, she didn't know most of them, and the ones she did know were all busy talking to the ones she didn't know. (Unfortunately, she thought she had glimpsed Photo Finish off to the side, which did not help her mood.)

At some parties, Pinkie Pie would periodically bounce over with some friendly stranger she could talk to, but not this time. Rainbow Dash had her Wonderbolts friends, of course, and the rest of her Ponyville group was mingling. Mingling. Fluttershy nearly shuddered at the word. Fluttershy felt like they all showed up at the party and she just turned around and they'd all disappeared into the crowd.

She sighed, then froze, because sighing might make ponies notice her. Remaining unnoticed was a high-risk-high-reward strategy at parties, Fluttershy had learned. If she was successful, the time passed quickly and relatively painlessly. But there was nothing worse than being noticed trying not to be noticed. Luckily, she was at the top of her not-being-noticed game, tonight.

Suddenly, a pony strode directly up to her and looked her right in the face. "Hello!" she said, boisterously. "I couldn't help but notice you standing there!"

"Oh no!" Fluttershy exclaimed.

There was a pause.

The friendly (or perhaps insane) pony wore glasses and was staring at her through them. She looked smart. And Canterlotty. "Um," she said.

"Eem" Fluttershy replied.

The pony seemed to recover. She smiled wider. "Hi. I'm Moon Dancer. This is my going-away party. And... I didn't know you, so I thought I'd come over and say hello?"

"Oh." Fluttershy looked up with a soft smile. Moon Dancer! That was Twilight and Spike's friend! They said she was nice. "Hello. I'm Fluttershy."

Moon Dancer smiled back. "Good to meet you. I hope I didn't startle you, just walking up out of the blue. I never know what to do with myself in big crowds."

Fluttershy nodded. "Oh, I completely understand. I'm always a little awkward at parties. I'm kind of shy."

"That's funny!" Moon Dancer bellowed.

There was another pause.

"...What?" Fluttershy said.

"Oh no, I mean... your name? Fluttershy? I read some research once about ponies' names and personalities. Because, I mean, isn't it weird you'd be named Fluttershy and also be a shy pony? And also... fluttery? Because. I mean I've never danced on the moon. Ha ha! Right? But see... you. Um."

There was a very long pause. "....butterflies," Moon Dancer finished weakly. Fluttershy's mind swirled with helplessness.

Meanwhile, Moon Dancer's thoughts had not turned dark; this situation was far too ludicrous for that. She felt like she was watching the exchange happen from a long distance away, not far enough to find it hilarious, but also not very far away from that. She had one more weapon in her arsenal: if this didn't work, she'd have to leave the terrified, gorgeous pony in peace. "So," she said, with very weak confidence. "What do you do?" Moon Dancer's arsenal was not well equipped.

Fluttershy tilted her head forward, her mane streaming down over her face. "Um. I run the animal sanctuary in Ponyville."

Moon Dancer blinked. Her awkwardness was instantly forgotten, replaced with something comfortable and familiar: intellectual curiosity. "Oh! Sweet Feather? I read about that! I've been wanting to meet the ponies who run it."

One of Fluttershy's eyes peeked through a slit in her mane. "You... have?"

"Oh, yes," Moon Dancer said, nodding. "I've been really interested in animal behavior for years, and I was amazed that you're able to have habitats for all of them so close together. I saw a picture, and you had a badger just standing right next to a bear. How do they coexist?"

Fluttershy had almost her whole face out from behind her mane. "No, badgers and bears can get along well. They only fight where they don't feel comfortable."

"Really?" Moon Dancer asked, her awareness of Fluttershy's beauty once again becoming prominent. "Every book I've read says they're natural enemies."

Fluttershy shook her head vigorously. "A lot of what ponies think they know about animals comes from watching them in zoos. But you can't really get to know them in a place like that."

"Wow," Moon Dancer said, meaning it.

"Every animal has a different way of feeling comfortable," Fluttershy continued. "And in the wild, they're made to find those places that make them feel that way, and if they can, then they'll be peaceful. It's like they have a sense for it. But in a zoo, even if we try to make something they'll really like, we... pony it up. We put things in that we would like if we were that animal, not what THEY want. They're totally different from us, but they're the same at the same time. Um. It's hard to explain."

"I get it," Moon Dancer said. "It's like this party. Pinkie Pie is really good at making ponies feel happy and have fun. But even when she tries really hard, she puts some Pinkie in it. She can't always see that some ponies are different."

"Yes." Fluttershy looked at Moon Dancer with soft intensity. "Yes, that's it. Exactly." Then the intensity faded and just softness was left. "Um... but please don't tell Pinkie Pie I said that, okay?"

Moon Dancer laughed. "Okay." There was yet another pause, but it was very different from the earlier ones. "Hey. Do you want to get out of here?"

Fluttershy looked up, startled. "What?"

"Yes, good question, what?" Moon Dancer thought, but she said out loud: "Do you want to go? Like... somewhere quieter, maybe? I think I'd like to."

"But it's your party," Fluttershy said, hesitation on her face.

"I think it's okay if I sneak out," Moon Dancer said, with surprising confidence given that fact that she had rendered the inside of her own mind a gibbering idiot. "But... let me say goodbye to my friends? I'm still going to see them all the time, but this is technically my going-away party."

Fluttershy frowned, then she slowly, slyly smiled. She nodded once. "Okay," she said. "Okay, let's do it."

"Give me one second, all right?" Moon Dancer matched Fluttershy's smile with her own. When she turned around to walk away, she very silently freaked out harder than she had ever freaked out in her life.

She found her friends across the courtyard. They were chatting and very unconvincingly pretending like they had not been watching her the whole time.

"Um, hi girls. Sorry, I... um. Got pulled away for a minute."

Minuette and Lyra looked absolutely unable to contain their glee. Twinkleshine and Lemon Hearts were more composed, but still practically vibrating with excitement. Bon Bon, to her credit, only made a small show of her annoyance at having to be the grown-up. "Oh, that's all right. We were just talking about... your school days. Right, Lyra?"

Lyra nodded. "Yes. If you and Fluttershy have babies, will you name one aft..." and then Bon Bon spilled her drink onto Lyra's face. Lyra was undeterred, grinning at Moon Dancer like a maniac.

Moon Dancer glared back. "Okay. Well. Um, I'm going to go. Okay?"

Twinkleshine literally sniffled because she was literally tearing up about this. "We're sorry, Moon Dancer, it's just... she lives in Ponyville, and Lyra and Bon Bon say she's really great. We're excited."

Moon Dancer nodded stiffly. "Well. Fine. Thanks. I'll see you girls tomorrow, and then I'll be back at least every Tuesday. So. Yes."

They looked back at her warmly (though with a subset of them still smiling like idiots). She turned around to leave, then turned back. "Um," she said, "I love you girls. Okay, bye." She whirled around and walked quickly to where Fluttershy was waiting.