• Published 12th Jan 2018
  • 4,371 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 Bellied

Applejack had been asleep for at least an hour, and Rarity was preparing for bed (and vocally thankful she had not yet removed her make-up). However, Starlight and Pinkie were used to being awake late, and Rainbow was doing some unofficial night training. Twilight felt minimally guilty for rounding them all up, especially given how serious the situation was, and gathering in the castle made things feel official and important.

Still, they were not all inclined to be forgiving. "Twilight, I know this is tragic," Rarity was saying, "and of course we'll all be there for poor Fluttershy. But they need time to work it out. I hardly see why we all need to be meeting on this right now." She cast a slight glance over to Rainbow, an acknowledgement of the chill between the pegasus and the rest of them. None of them had even seen her since Pinkie's party. Twilight was grateful to have even been able to find her.

Twilight shook her head. "No, you don't get it," she said. "Something weird happened, here. Would Fluttershy just stand Moon Dancer up out of nowhere? That doesn't seem like her. And there's something else..."

"It was probably just a misunderstanding," Starlight replied.

"Yeah, and whatever it is, it's between them," Applejack added. "Fluttershy and Moon Dancer will come to us if they need to. But right now, we can't do anything for them."

"No, listen..."

"Darling, I would feel terrible if they were to break up," Rarity said with a touch of condescension. "But we have to respect what Fluttershy wants."

Spike rolled his eyes and stepped up in front of the hapless princess. "Quick, what day is it?" he asked.

"Friday," Pinkie and Rarity answered.

"Saturday," Applejack and Starlight said at exactly the same time.

They all looked at each other.

"See?" Twilight said. "Something weird."

Starlight blinked. "What happened? Time travel? Some kind of mind control? ...I'm implicating myself, here, aren't I?"

"No, it's... all stranger than that," Twilight said. "I can't figure out what could have happened. It's a mystery."

"Mystery?!" Pinkie shouted. She galloped out of the room and instantly returned, wearing a rumpled shirt and tie with a large, wrinkled, grey raincoat over it.

Rarity's mouth fell open. "Darling, what are you wearing?"

"This is my new mystery outfit," Pinkie explained, affecting a gruff, scratchy voice. "I wear it when solving mysteries." She strode around the room thoughtfully, squinting. "See, the thing I couldn't get my mind off of, was the missing berliners."

"....Berliners." Applejack said.

"Right. Three fresh berliners, right there in Sugarcube Corner. Somepony probably stole them, but I couldn't figure out why those and only those. But then I remembered." Pinkie bopped herself lightly in the head, pantomiming a rattled brain. "Berliners are the favorite pastry of a certain Mr. Discord."

"Discord?" Twilight gasped. "Oh, why didn't I think of that? His magic doesn't make any sense; he's the only one that could do something so illogical. But... what do the berliners have to do with anything?"

"I was stuck on that same thing," Pinkie answered. "Discord doesn't usually break into bakeries." She pulled a cigar out of her coat, lit it, put it in her mouth, and instantly spat it onto the floor. "Gack! Gaugh!" She looked around at her friends, perplexed. "Sorry to break character, but... bleh, are they all like that, or did I get a bad one?"

Twilight pressed a hoof against her temple. "Pinkie..."

"Oh, right. The berliners." Pinkie cleared her throat, scrunched up her face, and resumed her rasping squawk. "So Discord isn't the type of guy to sneak into a bakery for a snack; he can just make his own. But then I thought: What if something else was the real target, but those berliners were just too good to ignore?" She held up a large, green notebook. "My little black party book. Full of secrets and preferences of many ponies. And including a little tidbit about Moon Dancer's hatred of getting stood up. And it just happened to be stashed next to the missing berliners."

Applejack frowned. "That actually makes a lot of sense, Pinkie. Discord snuck into Sugarcube Corner to find out from that book what Moon Dancer hates, and then he does some crazy magic to make Fluttershy miss their date."

"But why would he do that?" Starlight asked. "Discord is... a lot of things, but he adores Fluttershy. Why would he hurt her?"

"He does get possessive sometimes," Rarity said. "Remember the Gala?"

"Even he wouldn't need to learn that lesson again," Twilight pointed out. "And this is different, because he had to know how sad she'd be."

"I think somepony must have tricked him," Pinkie said. She pulled a piece of paper from her coat, walked over to Rainbow Dash, and passed it over. "I took some notes about this, but I forgot my glasses, can you read that for me?"

"You don't wear glasses," Rainbow said.

"Oh, yeah. Can you make out what I wrote, there? My mouthwriting is really bad."

"Pinkie, this just says 'Hi, Rainbow Dash.' What are you doing?"

Pinkie looked sideways at her. "It's probably nothing, but it occurs to me, when I think about it, that you might have been the one to talk to Discord."

Rainbow's face turned white. She took a step back. "...What? No!"

Rarity raised an eyebrow. "You have been quite critical of their relationship."

"It wasn't me!" Rainbow barked. "I haven't even talked to Discord for months. You saw him way more recently than I have, at that party of yours. I haven't seen anypony; I've been training all week!"

"Oh." Pinkie shrugged. "See, the reason I ask is I couldn't help noticing your body language when we started talking about Discord. It was like you felt guilty about something. You got all stiff and funny."

"What?" Rainbow said stiffly. "No, I didn't," she added funnily.

"Well, I imagine things sometimes, so..."

"Yeah." Rainbow stared her down. "It's... it wasn't me."

"Oh, okay," Pinkie said lightly, "I guess that settles that! Rainbow didn't talk to Discord." She turned and walked away from Rainbow, then stopped in her tracks. "Well..." she said, turning back around, "there is just one more thing."

Sweat began to bead on Rainbow's forehead, but she kept her confident expression. "Uh, what?"

Pinkie tilted her head and squinted at Rainbow. "If you haven't seen Discord, and if you haven't talked to any of us, then how did you know he went to my party?"

Rainbow froze, pale and sweating.

Rarity gasped. "Rainbow, how could you?"

They all faced Rainbow Dash, contorted with shock and disappointed and anger. She opened her mouth to speak, but after some sputtering, all that came out was "It all went wrong!" And then, faster than they had ever seen, she disappeared out the window and into the sky.

"Rainbow!" Applejack yelled, running to the window. "Dang it, we'll never catch her." She pounded the windowsill. "What in tarnation is wrong with her?"

"What do we do now?" Starlight asked, but before anypony could answer, a puff of smoke exploded in the room and Moon Dancer appeared.

"Twilight!" she shouted. "Rainbow Dash talked Discord into messing with time to sabotage my date with Fluttershy so I would break up with her, but it didn't work! Fluttershy has a plan! I need your help and also coffee!" She blinked and looked around. "Um. Hi, everypony. Why is Pinkie dressed like Coltlumbo?"

They were all gathered in the library, yawning and cranky. It was well past midnight, and only Fluttershy maintained her poise, sipping her coffee and staring at the wall intently.

Rarity gave an unladylike stretch, apparently past the point of caring about decorum. "Did we ever figure out what day it was, really?" she asked.

Starlight looked up from her pile of nails. "Oh, yeah. I contacted Princess Luna, and according to the phases of the moon, which I confirmed, it's officially Friday."

Moon Dancer gave her a look. "Friday?"

"Friday. So tomorrow is Saturday again." Starlight and Moon Dancer looked at each other, sharing a shiver. The mica was not over, after all. There would be another day of mica.

Twilight came in through the window and landed softly in the middle of the library. "Well, just like we thought, she's not at home," she announced. "We'll have to go with Fluttershy's plan after all."

Rarity nodded, hovering a stack of boards onto a nearby table. "I think we're finished setting up."

Applejack frowned. "Are we really sure this will work? She didn't seem like she wanted to come back here for anything."

"It will work," Fluttershy said confidently. "I know her. This always works." She looked over across her friends. "Could somepony please take the window?"

"I'm on it!" Pinkie cheered. She bounced over to the main window, standing ready beside the shutter.

Twilight gave the room an apprasing once-over. "All right. We agreed: we listen to her, and we don't let her run. And we let Fluttershy take the lead." She smiled at her friend. "Are you ready?"

"Yes." Fluttershy downed the last of her coffee and set the mug down with a hearty clank. "I'm ready. Moon Dancer?"

"Uh, what?" Her special somepony blinked in surprise.

"I think you should say it."

"Me? Are you sure?"

"Yes, then I'll know it's not true. Please say it."

Rainbow Dash flew.

The air was getting colder, and she vaguely noticed clouds around, but other than that, she had no real idea where she was or where she was going. All she knew, despite strong, constant effort to stop knowing it, was what she was going away from.

She lied, she got caught, and she ran.

A sob burst from her mouth, and even though there was no possible way for anyone to have heard, a wave of embarrassment crashed over her. But the embarrassment was a welcome relief from the shame, which welled back up in only a few seconds.

Rainbow was not an introspective pony; she did not tend to distinguish between 'embarrassment' and 'guilt' and 'shame' and 'anxiety' and 'humiliation.' They were all just 'feeling lame,' and who cares about going any deeper than that? But now that she was filled with all of them all at once, they were as easy to tell apart as the different-colored streaks across her mane. She had lied (guilt), she got caught (humiliation), and she ran (anxiety).

And, of course, she had probably wrecked Fluttershy's relationship (shame, a lot of shame).

The first time, Fluttershy had said it almost distractedly, just while they were hanging out one day. Rainbow had been talking about their flight instructors, and Fluttershy just suddenly said, "I think I might like fillies as much as I like colts." She got through the whole thing smoothly, no stammering or anything, but it had been very, very quiet. And Rainbow just went, "Yeah? Cool. Anypony bugs you about it, just tell me."

That cloud looked familiar. Was she just going in circles around the same cloud?

The second time was this huge deal; Fluttershy told her to come alone to her room at night and all the lights were out and Fluttershy was literally hiding under her bed. And from under there, she had sputtered and hemmed and hawed and finally, finally managed to get it out: "I don't think I was right about the part with the colts." Rainbow went and sat by the bed and stuck her hoof under there so Fluttershy could hold it and she didn't say much, and all she wanted to do in the entire world was keep her friend from getting hurt. And everything she did was right: every impulse, every unthinking action, every primal desire ended up being exactly what Fluttershy needed to feel supported.

Fluttershy had needed her. She had been needed.

How had it all gone so wrong? How could her feelings push her to do the exactly right things when she was young, but exactly terrible things now? Why was she so mad? Why had she ruined everything? She was crying, but if she flew fast enough, she could convince herself it was just the wind stinging her eyes.

Abruptly and unexpectedly, some primal part of her heard, very very far away, somepony saying, "I don't like it that Fluttershy is attracted to mares!"

The world turned white and there was a furious whoosh.

Rainbow Dash was suddenly indoors, tensed up and aggressive. "Hey! What do you...uh..." The pale glare faded and she noticed who exactly she was looking at: messy mane, yellow face, square glasses.

A sudden slam resonated through the room, and she turned and saw the big window suddenly closed, Pinkie Pie standing in front of the shutter like a football linebacker. Frantically, Rainbow looked around for another means of escape, and impossibly, bizarrely, all the doors and windows had been nailed shut. She sputtered, realizing she was trapped in a room with exactly the ponies she did not want to see.

Number one on Rainbow's list of ponies she did not want to see strode up to her, pink mane flowing around an angry, yellow expression. "Rainbow," she said.

"Fluttershy! You..." Rainbow shook her head to refocus. She looked around, narrowing her gaze. "What, you all had to trick me to get me here? That's low."

"We have to talk about this," Twilight said.

"Well, I don't want to!" Rainbow snapped, but she darted up to Fluttershy anyway. "I didn't do anything! I didn't mean for anything to happen, I didn't want Discord to do whatever he did. I promise, okay? I wouldn't do that."

"Then what happened, Rainbow Dash?" Rarity asked.

"I was just talking! You know, just venting to him about Moon Dancer. I don't even remember what I said."

"You said she was a liar," Fluttershy replied icily. "And that she would make me unhappy forever."

"Well, maybe that's all true!" Rainbow barked. She knew this was it: this was that line her shame and guilt had kept her from crossing. But, if she stayed mad, she wouldn't have to feel anything else, so she just kept going and going. "She hurt Twilight and she'll hurt you. And look at her! She's not in your league. She's not cool. You should be with somepony cool." Rainbow kept her angry pose and expression, but tears were beginning to stream down her face. She noticed that Moon Dancer did not look angry. Fluttershy looked absolutely furious, but Moon Dancer did not. She just looked sad.

"Rainbow!" Fluttershy said, aghast, "how can you say that?! You don't... you don't get to be my big protector anymore! I'm a grown mare!"

"Well, maybe you need a protector!"

Sobs rang out across the room; Pinkie Pie had burst into frantic tears from watching her friends fighting. The whole thing was falling apart.

Fluttershy was crying, too. "What's wrong with her? She's beautiful, and she treats me so well, and she makes me so happy. Don't you want that for me?"

"There's nothing wrong with her!" Rainbow shouted. "Of course I want that for you!"

"Then what's the problem? Rainbow, why are you..."

"I just don't want anything to change!!"

There was a sudden, dumbfounding silence. Even Pinkie froze mid-sob, staring at Rainbow in the aftermath of her confession.

Rainbow sniffed, wiping away tears angrily. "You've always been there, Fluttershy. All of you. And now it's all going to go away."

Fluttershy took a step forward, expression caught equally among anger, compassion, and bewilderment. "Change?" She made a clear decision to go with anger. "Change?! Rainbow, I have an animal sanctuary! Twilight grew wings! You're a Wonderbolt! Things are always changing!"

"Not like this. Special someponies change everything."

Fluttershy sat on the floor, looking suddenly exhausted. "B-but..."

"Friends are a young pony thing," Rainbow spat. "You all know it. Come on, my parents don't have any friends. They just hang out with each other and think about me all the time. Pinkie! Mr. and Mrs. Cake don't have friends, right?"

Pinkie shook her head. "No, they do!" she sniffled. "I'm their friend."

"You work for them, Pinkie, that doesn't count. They have their bakery and their foals and each other and that's all they have time for. Um, so yeah, I'm a Wonderbolt, that's the point."

"But the Cutie Map?" Twilight said hesitantly.

"The Cutie Map is work!" Rainbow snapped. "The only thing keeping us together for real was, none of us had special someponies, and now that's over!"

The ponies all around her were awkward and speechless, which filled her with manic sureness. She fixed Fluttershy with a steely gaze. "Listen. Can you really tell me that you're going to have time for all your pets and your animal sanctuary and the Cutie Map and Moon Dancer and your friends?" She snorted, advancing closer to the other pegasus. "That's not gonna happen. And listen, whatever. This was always gonna happen sooner or later, right?" She poked a hoof in Fluttershy's face. "But don't expect me to be all happy about it!"

Fluttershy's mouth hung open. More than anything else, she looked confused. "But Rainbow Dash," she said, "I love you."

Rainbow had no idea what she expected Fluttershy to say, but whatever it was, it was not that. In her head, it was like a radio turned to static had suddenly been shut off; the world was bewilderingly still.

Fluttershy waved her hooves around vaguely. "I never know how to act when ponies are mad, so I might not understand. But... um. I'm not going to let myself lose you. I won't."

"What, just like that?"

"I think so." Fluttershy's voice was maternal and childlike at the same time. "I think just like that."

Rainbow sniffled. "You can't know what's gonna happen" she said. "It was easy when we were kids, but now..." She trailed off and shook her head. "We can't keep up with everything."

Fluttershy started to reply, but she stopped when a hoof touched her shoulder from behind. Moon Dancer stood there, calm confidence on her face. "I'm sorry," Moon Dancer said, "but could I have a minute with Rainbow?"

Fluttershy paused, then smiled and softly murmured assent. They looked over at Rainbow Dash, who was not happy about this idea, but who nodded sharply.

Suddenly and very unexpectedly, there was a bright yellow flash, and Rainbow and Moon Dancer were gone.

Rainbow jumped in surprise, because the darkness of the nighttime desert came so suddenly, she honestly thought she was blind for a moment. As her eyes adjusted, she realized the full moon cast enough light to see clearly. On one side of her was shimmering sands out to the horizon. On the other side was an enormous pyramid, formed impossibly out of ice-like crystal. She faltered; this setting looked bizarrely familiar. "Hey, is this...?"

"The Sidereal Tomb," Moon Dancer said, walking up hesitantly behind her. "We're in 'Daring Do and the Giant Pile of Skulls.' Do you like it?"

Rainbow turned in a slow circle, amazed. "How did you do this?"

"It's a spell Twilight taught me. I thought this might be a good place to talk?"

Rainbow narrowed her eyes. "Talk?"

"You're right, Rainbow Dash," Moon Dancer sighed, sitting down in the sand. "I'm not cool. I'm not cool at all. This was the coolest thing I could think to do, and it's hanging out in a young adult adventure novel."

"...Young adult?"

"But you." Moon Dancer fixed her with an intense look. "You are very cool. Intimidatingly cool. Intimidatingly, petrifyingly cool."

Rainbow sighed impatiently. "It's not about being cool," she said.

"...all I mean is, I know I'm a very strange pony in a lot of ways. And I can be a grouch, too. It would be totally okay for you to not like me. I want us to coexist, but you don't have to like me. Nopony wants you to have to pretend."

"Give me a break," Rainbow said dismissively. "You're basically exactly Twilight, and Twilight's great."

"Oh. Um." Moon Dancer blushed. "Thank you. But..."

"Look, I don't not like you," Rainbow interrupted. "I don't even know you. Weren't you listening out there?"

"Yes, I was." Moon Dancer took a deep breath, flop sweat beginning to bead lightly under her mane. "I wanted to say something to you about that." She patted into the sand distractedly. "I don't know if you know about the whole thing between me and Twilight, but I tried to live without friendship for a long time. And it sucked, Rainbow Dash. It was awful."

She had built a little sand castle, and she gazed down at it. "Friendship isn't second-place to a relationship for me. That would be a terrible way to live. I'd never, ever want to make Fluttershy live that way."

Smiling softly, she stomped down, flattening her sandcastle, and looked up at Rainbow. "I don't think either of us are 'casual' ponies, so I think... I hope... that I'm going to be around a long time. But not at the expense of her friends. I'm promising you, right now, I wouldn't let that happen."

"What can you do?"

"I don't know. But that's three ponies all working really hard to keep the friendship together, and... I think we can do it. Don't you? Isn't Rainbow Dash always working together with ponies to smash down challenges?"

Rainbow looked over at the pyramid. Daring Do ended up having to shatter it with a magic hammer to get to the treasure inside. She got the hammer from her old, estranged mentor, and once it was stolen by Nightshame, she needed those two orphans to steal it back for her. "Can we really do that?"

"Yeah. Like... I don't know. I can say, 'Hey, Fluttershy, I bet Rainbow would really like to see the new peregrine at the sanctuary, why don't we invite her over?"

Rainbow looked up, feeling how soft the sand felt under her. "What's a peregrine?"

"It's a really fast bird. And you'd help me out too, right? You'd say, "Yo, Moon Dancer, you've had your nose stuck in a book all week and it's making Fluttershy feel lonely, stop it.' I guarantee you'll need to do that every once in a while."

Rainbow sat quietly. "So like... we're teammates?"

"Yeah. Yeah, exactly."

"I hadn't thought about it like that," Rainbow said. After a moment of thought, she smirked. She strode up to Moon Dancer and held out a hoof.

Moon Dancer looked down at the outstretched hoof blankly. "What?"

"It's a hoof-bump," Rainbow said.

"Hoof.... bump?"

Rainbow picked up Moon Dancer's front leg and tapped their hooves together. "You are such a nerd," she said.

"Yeah," Moon Dancer agreed, "I really am such a nerd."

The desert disappeared.

When they rematerialized in the library, they were somehow already hugging. Rainbow pulled away and looked around at her friends, who were all gaping in shock at the sight before them. "Hey Fluttershy," she said, "your special somepony is pretty cool."

Fluttershy reflexively blushed. Before she could recover, Rainbow darted close. "And I've been a huge, huge jerk," Rainbow said, hanging her head. "To you and Moon Dancer. And Pinkie. And everypony." She pulled back and sighed. "I totally understand if you don't trust me, but I promise I'll do everything I can for you guys from now on."

Fluttershy frowned gently. "Just talk to me next time," she said.

"I hate doing that. So do you."

"This is worse."

They both looked at each other, and then, like a magic spell, they were suddenly embracing, front hooves and wings wrapped around one another. A cheer went up from the always mercurial Pinkie Pie.

Rainbow suddenly pulled away and looked at Fluttershy with alarm. "Oh, do you need me to do anything with Discord? I really didn't mean..."

"No, it's okay, we worked that out. It actually ended up being pretty easy. You know, Discord isn't very subtle."

Nearby, Twilight put a wing around Moon Dancer, who looked like the apocalypse she had been prepping for had suddenly been cancelled. "What book did you go into?" Twilight asked softly.

"Giant Pile of Skulls."

"She loves that one. How did you know?"

"I'm a researcher, Twilight. I know things."

Applejack walked into the center of them all. "I'm happy this worked out and all," she said, "but I am going to throw a fit if I don't get some sleep. Is everything okay?"

Fluttershy walked over to Moon Dancer and flopped down next to her. Rainbow watched them, thoughtful. She felt like back when Discord's chaos spell had been broken: the same things just suddenly looked brighter and nicer and realer. Fluttershy was finally dating somepony; she had started out hiding under the bed because she was so scared everyone would find out she was gay, and now here she was, dating this cute, brilliant genius and running her own animal sanctuary. How had she ever looked at these two dorks snuggling together and felt mad and scared? How had she felt anything but pride?

Fluttershy caught her gaze. Rainbow had never been good at controlling her facial expressions, whatever she felt in the moment just showed up there, completely at the mercy of her impulses.

Whatever the expression there was, Fluttershy saw it and smiled. "Yes," she said, "Everything is fine."