• Published 15th Jul 2018
  • 1,874 Views, 57 Comments

Fluttershy's Iron Will - Sparkle Cola



Fluttershy and Discord have been friends for years, and at times they have been more, with an on again/off again relationship. Now that Iron Will is Fluttershy's speaking tour manager, Discord is perfectly fine with them going on a date. Right?

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Doctor's Orders

Ponyville Animal Hospital - 11:30 AM

When Amethyst Star signed on to work as the charge nurse for Fluttershy’s new animal hospital, she didn’t know that her patience would be tried to such extremes. Sure, when the occasional cantankerous capybara or agitated armadillo made a fuss, her budding skills as an animal caretaker were put to the test. However, situations such as these paled in comparison to having to deal with her nemesis.

Her main responsibilities at the animal hospital included scheduling, managing patient records, and generally trying to maintain order and security. The key word being try. Maintaining order when dealing with one certain Avatar of Chaos, now walking into the lobby for the second time this morning, left her feeling drained and exhausted. Not that she would let that show.

It required a steady hoof and a mind like a steel trap—and she had learned from the best. If she had any strategies at all for how to deal with this draconequus, she owed it to her mentor, Fluttershy. That mare possessed such stalwart resolve and inner passion that she buoyed Amethyst up with a heady sense of confidence. Even when Amethyst knew things were about to get chaotic, she had the Element of Kindness in her corner. And somehow she knew that it would all be okay.

“Aaugh!” the draconequus groaned, clutching his right arm as he limped through the front entrance.

As Amethyst took in the sight, she noted Discord happened to open the door with the same arm that was in the sling. Once clear of the door, he struggled up to the reception almost as if his legs didn't work right.

“You must help me, Ms. Star, I beg of you! I have to see Fluttershy! I have been wounded and maimed!”

Blinking twice, Amethyst schooled her face into a carefully neutral and bored expression while giving the draconequus a flat look. “Maimed and wounded mean practically the same thing, Discord.”

Looking offended, Discord held out his sling-bound appendage six inches away from Amethyst’s nose, pointing to it with his other hand. “The same thing? They’re nothing alike at all!”

With a snap of his talons, a massive dictionary appeared directly over Amethyst’s desk in the air. Not being able to do anything else but spring backwards with a gasp, she watched helplessly as the dictionary landed with a crash across her desk. With Luna as her witness, Amethyst could have sworn she heard her desk shrieking in agony, cracking and shuddering under the strain. No tome could be as big as what Discord just conjured up, which likely weighed about as much as Harry the Bear.

With another snap, the dictionary sprang open and Discord pointed to a definition highlighted in bright pink marker. “If a pony were to be wounded, my dear overly-zealous nurse,” Discord asserted, “they would be coming to you with something like a slash or a cut. Such an injury would likely bleed all over as you mammals are wont to do. Euch.” Discord shivered.

Snapping his fingers again, Discord caused the dictionary pages to flutter backwards in a flurry of motion, blowing Amethyst’s mane wildly as they flew. The pages stopped flipping back when they reached the section marked “M,” displaying another passage, only this time the section was highlighted in plaid. “But, if a pony were to be maimed, they would have little to no function in said appendage, or possibly have lost it entirely.” Discord folded his arms in satisfaction, as if that had completely settled the matter for a poor, ignorant little pony.

“Discord?” Amethyst tilted her head up to gaze at the Lord of Chaos sweetly.

“Yes?”

“I don’t think it is your limb that has me worried about having lost its function entirely. The more important problem might be concerning what you’ve got between your ears.”

“Bah!” Discord scoffed. “You know very well that dear Fluttershy is joyously filling her life's calling, caring for the weak and helpless!” Discord waved his arms emphatically, causing the sling to slip from his elbow and flap uselessly at his side. “I’m weak and helpless! I’m just helping her fulfill her calling!”

Amethyst could only raise an eyebrow in response. She imagined if her look were any flatter, somepony would’ve sworn that she had ironed her face. She lifted a hoof and began to massage her temple. “Discord, if anything is weak and helpless here, it’s my reception desk. You just dropped a book the size of a small library on it.”

As if to further emphasize her point, Amethyst's desk suddenly gave way with a groan, settling to the floor of the reception area with the sounds of tearing and splintering wood. Discord smiled sheepishly and snapped his fingers, making the tome disappear. "Oops?"

“And besides: even if you had a wound, with the way you are waving both arms about, it could hardly be maimed now, could it?”

The silence between them stretched uncomfortably long as Discord looked blankly at Amethyst for a few moments. Then, without further preamble, the arm in question promptly fell off.
“Aaaugh! Help me, I have been maimed! You must bring out Fluttershy!”

Sighing in exasperation, Amethyst brought her hoof to her face. She could distinctly remember Princess Twilight making a similar noise when she had to deal with this chaotic menace. Amethyst had been planning on asking Fluttershy for a raise in a few months, but now she was strongly considering moving up that timetable.

To tonight.

After giving Discord a glare that said stay right there, she stood up and trotted over to the public restroom, leaving the perplexed draconequus behind her. Not half a minute later, Amethyst exited the restroom, this time carrying a pitcher in her telekinetic field.

Discord pursed his lips as he regarded her offering. “And what, pray tell, is this?”

Amethyst brought forward a paper cup from behind her mane and began to fill it with water from the pitcher. “This? Oh, it’s only a glass of water. I may not be able to serve it to you in a crystal cruet, but this is a hospital after all. What ya gonna do?”

Amethyst smiled mischievously. “Isn’t that the remedy you demanded from a couple of princesses several years ago? Back when you were under the influence of the Blue Flu?”
Scowling, Discord floated up into the air. “This is an animal hospital, isn’t it? And I, your friendly neighborhood draconequus, represent at least four different animals; just look at my limbs! I have four times the amount of reasons why I need care!”

With a glint in her eye, Amethyst Star smirked. “I only count three.”

Discord glared as he pressed his lips together, slowly lowering himself back down to the floor. She returned his gaze without flinching until he finally relented, stooping down to retrieved the discarded appendage before using it as an impromptu back scratcher. “Fine. When does Fluttershy take her fifteen-minute break?”

A gentle voice called out from the treatment area of the hospital behind a set of large swinging doors. “I can take my break right now, Discord, if that’s what you would prefer.”

Amethyst’s shoulders sagged with relief as she turned around and sat behind what was left of her desk, growling under her breath. She felt like she just got hit with a major blast from the Elements of Harassment.

Amethyst wanted to start picking up some of the scattered paperwork, but she couldn't help but watch as Fluttershy emerged from the doorway to the treatment rooms. Amethyst noted that Fluttershy didn't even look tired, even though she had seen a full schedule of patients during the morning shift. Even the tightly wound bun of her pink mane atop her head looked pristine. She made a mental note to ask Fluttershy about her secret to the indestructible hair bun. Completing the ensemble was a stethoscope around her long neck and a white doctor’s lab coat, her long tail flowing out from the back of it with countless wildflowers braided through the entirety.

“Why, my dearest Fluttershy,” Discord clasped his mismatched claws together. “It’s so nice to see— ”

Fluttershy held up a hoof as she gazed back, her expression unreadable. “I’m sorry Discord, but I need to speak with my charge nurse for a minute in private.”

“But—”

“—In private, Discord. Then I can take my break.”

The two looked at each other for a suspended moment, neither one moving. Both looked tentative, and Amethyst sensed a pressure, not unlike how heavy the atmosphere tended to get before a scheduled rain storm.

Then without further ado, the moment passed, and Discord leapt into the air, bodily diving into the sling that had been wrapped around his right arm moments before. Not a second later, he popped out of one of the sports magazines in the waiting room, garbed in the green and black hoofball uniform of the Manehattan Maulers, helmet included. Popping out of the magazine to join him were two IV poles with drip lines, an oxygen tank with tubing running to his nose via a nasal cannula, and a large heart monitor chiming with alarm signals. Bandages covered all of his extremities and a good deal of his torso, but the numbers of his uniform seemed to have been colored in over top. Oddly, his number was 3.1415, with the numbers shriveling and trailing off in an indeterminate manner.

Amethyst’s eyes widened as she took in the sight. She wasn’t even sure that Fluttershy had that much bandaging in stock. Fluttershy for her part only brought a hoof to her face.

Grinning, Discord reclined back in his chair, somehow looking both woeful and yet smug at the same time. “I, and my poor broken body, will be waiting for your TLC…”

Four minutes later…

Discord bowed as he gallantly cleared a branch out of the way while Fluttershy proceeded further down the trail. The gesture was altogether unnecessary given her stature compared to the height of the branch, but she wasn't going to mention such a thing when Discord was doing his best to demonstrate chivalry.

“You do have a lovely animal resort, Fluttershy.” Discord mused. “I don’t doubt your little furry friends appreciate it. What insurance do they carry? Ponyna? Equestriagroup? They certainly don’t pay you in bits, do they?”

Fluttershy shook her head, rolling her eyes at his antics. “They give what they can, Discord. Often, they pay it forward, helping other creatures in even greater need, and they are happy to help me as well. The whole system works rather well towards furthering my efforts.”

“Hmm.” Discord trailed off, unsure of what else to offer.

Fluttershy looked back up at her one-time lover and smiled, trying to put him at ease. “Thank you again for the funding you provided when we founded this resort.”

Fluttershy looked ahead again so she could pick her way down the natural stone staircase as the trail descended to let out by the shore of a small lake nestled in the depression. The far end of the lake was bordered by a line of trees completing the picturesque setting. Fluttershy climbed onto a park bench facing the water and made room for Discord to follow suit. Several ducks paddled up nearby, albeit with some caution due to the proximity of the large draconequus.

“Yes, well…” Discord waved his paw dismissively. “I’m sure that dragon never noticed the ersatz coins I used to replace what makes the base of her treasure trove. It’s not like she counts it.”

Fluttershy blinked her eyes twice, her face a mask of careful neutrality. “You… you replaced her… um, I’m not sure that was such a good idea—”

“—oh, she’s fine. Besides, I picked the least chaotic dragon I could think of. You should have seen how organized her stacks were!” Discord’s brows furrowed for a moment as he pulled on his goatee. “Come to think of it, that factoid might make Norberta the most likely dragon to run an inventory…”

Not for the first time, Fluttershy brought her hoof to her face.

Discord waved his paw dismissively again. “Not a problem. I’ll take care of it. Besides…” Discord plopped his elbows on top of his thighs and rested his muzzle in his claws. “I’m sure your speaking tour across Equestria with Mr. Iron Wail has been super productive.”

Hoo boy. Fluttershy could tell it was going to be one of those conversations.

“I’ve seen all of the posters and the garish t-shirts, and I have to say they’re just…”

Fluttershy’s features flattened out as she gave Discord an unamused glare, and he was quick to pick up on it. “I mean... the shirts are elegant!” Discord grimaced as if he was biting into something sour. “I’m just amazed, what with your height difference and all, that you two could even fit on the side of a collectable mug. One would almost need a stein... What is it you see in him, again?”

Fluttershy sighed, as she cocked her head to the side. “We aren’t dating, Discord. He is only a business associate.”

Discord folded one arm across his chest while drumming the fingers of his other hand across his cheekbone, murmuring almost inaudibly. “Business associate… right.”

The pause drew out for a few seconds, and then it drew out some more, until the silence began to feel awkward. Fluttershy heaved another breath, because there didn’t seem to be enough air around them at present.

It just ached, in a way. Breaking things off with Discord made complete sense at the time, because he had simply pushed her too far when he ignored any sense of boundaries. But then there were so many qualities about him that she loved. And she still thought she loved him. Maybe. But when he allowed too much of his chaotic side to hold sway, sometimes it just became too much—he became too much. But if he was too much, why did she miss him so terribly?

“—Perhaps if you—”
“—Maybe if I—”

Fluttershy gave a wan smile. “I’m sorry, go ahead.”

Discord waved his claws back, his bushy eyebrows rocketing upwards. “No no, you were speaking first. Please. I want to hear what you have to say.”

They continued to stare at each other for a moment before breaking into laughter. How in Celestia’s name had they become so awkward?

“I was only going to talk about boundaries, but never mind that.” Fluttershy demurred. “What I was trying to say is that I am not dating my business associate. Just like you and I aren’t dating, so it wouldn’t be a problem either way.”

“Wouldn’t be…” Discord muttered, pulling his claw downwards over his face. “Well, there is one potential problem that I see—”

“—and that is?”

Discord hesitated with his mouth left open, before finally waving a paw as if shooing an irritating fly. “Nothing…” He clenched his jaw and glared daggers at the dirt below.

Fluttershy sat up straighter, trying to peer into Discord’s striking yellow eyes. She placed a comforting hoof on his forearm. “Discord, I can assure you that Iron Will has been a very thoughtful and effective business associate. With his past, he knows the ins and outs of motivational speaking, and he has been outstanding in his managing my tour around Equestria. He might no longer have an interested audience, but his connections have been instrumental.”

“...So you do like him?”

Fluttershy huffed. “Discord, that’s not what I said at all… Besides. I like most ponies… people. Iron Will is polite, understanding, empathetic, and he has also filled in nicely as security and my bodyguard.”

“Yes… I’m sure he is guarding your body,” Discord muttered.

“What was that?”

“Oh, nothing…” Discord lapsed into silence, before calling on some visual magic to rearrange a virtual grid titled: The Periodic Table of the Elements. The table only displayed the symbols for K, La, H, Ge, M, and L. Fluttershy would have been confused, if not for the cutie marks associated with each symbol. After another moment Discord flicked the grid with a digit, causing all of the symbols to flicker before switching to displaying only the letter K. “Those flowers in your tail really do add a nice touch, by the way.”

“Well, thank you.”

Discord indicated the flowing strands with a wave. “I mean, it must have taken forever to weave them in!” Discord paused while he pulled at his goatee again. “You should have come to me—I could’ve finished it in less than a minute, tops.”

Not sure where he was going with this, Fluttershy smiled sweetly. “Thank you for offering. But really, it’s just one of the ways my little friends try to pay me back. And they did it just about as fast.” She winked at a sparrow that had perched on her shoulder. He nodded his head in acknowledgement before taking off again.

Discord watched the bird go, his face unreadable. The silence began to grow uncomfortable again. Once again, Fluttershy heaved a sigh. It pained her to see Discord like this, and she still valued him as a friend. Maybe someday they could be more, but she wasn’t sure how.

“What is it, Disky? Bit for your thoughts?”

Discord’s frame seemed to stiffen a little. “I just don’t want to see you hurt.”

“Hurt? I don’t understand.”

“I don’t trust Iron Wail. If you need a bodyguard, if you want security…” Discord turned to her, his eyes focused and intense. “Who could do that better than moi?”

“Discord. We’ve talked about this.” Fluttershy’s heart felt like it was beginning to lurch in a sideways, squishy movement.

“It’s just that you are around that minotaur on your speaking tour and there’s no place for me. You, and Iron Will? Iron Will… with you. ” Discord made a fist, but fire and smoke still snaked out from between his fingers. “There’s just… Promise me that you’ll tell him no.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“When he asks, just say no!

“Asks what? Discord, we are business associates!”

“Don’t give me that. He thinks of you as more than that!” Discord pointed a claw at her. “And when he asks, use your slogan!”

“What?”

“Your slogan… on your blasted tour! The Gentle No™. When he asks, you give him the Gentle No!”

Fluttershy closed her eyes. “So it’s my blasted tour, then?”

Discord recoiled at Fluttershy’s even tone. “What?”

“My successful tour around Equestria that has helped so many ponies… is blasted, is it?” Fluttershy took a shuddering breath. “There is nothing between Iron Will and I. And there is no commitment between us either, except to be friends.”

“I, uh…”

“And if I so happened to decide I wanted to give Iron Will a chance, you would support me… as a friend, correct?”

Now Discord recoiled as if he had been slapped, wincing from the blow. The stunned silence between them was deafening, and it pained Fluttershy’s heart to see it.

“As I have said before, Iron Will has been nothing short of professional, and in a large measure its been him that was responsible for much of my success."

Discord frowned as he held up both claws in a placating manner. “I-I only meant to say—"

“You have always meant the world to me, Discord. We shared an incomparable love. But there is one difference between you and Iron Will that I must say: Iron Will respects my boundaries.”

Fluttershy took to the air, flapping her wings as she hovered to meet Discord eye to eye. This had been a point of contention between them repeatedly, and it had led to her breaking off their relationship. She understood he was the avatar of chaos, and she relished his spontaneity, but if he could not abide by just a few inalienable boundaries, then their break would have to be permanent.

As much as it hurt them both.

“If I haven’t miscounted, this is the third time this week you have tried to get past poor Amethyst while I was still treating my patients. It’s the second time this week with a pretended injury!”

Discord’s arm promptly fell off again.

Ignoring this, Fluttershy went on. “Do you know how much stress you are causing my charge nurse? She asked me for a raise!”

“Well, at least I was considerate enough to not try to get past her while you were treating a patient. If you’d notice, I always wait until you are charting.”

Fluttershy felt her eyebrows furrow again as what he said sank in, her glare becoming a more substantive force. “And how do you know exactly when I am doing my charting?

“Well I… umm.”

“Discord?”

The draconequus flinched.

“Have you been spying on me while I work?”

“I… well, it wasn’t spying per se…”

Fluttershy dropped back to the earth. Too agitated to flap her wings in a symmetrical manner, she paced back and forth in front of him instead. He knew exactly how she felt about his spying abilities. Sometimes not even her patience was enough.

“Discord, you know that my break time is at 3:30 PM. You also know my lunch hour is at noon. But here you go, dropping your limbs all over the waiting room and giving Amethyst a coronary! What if a little colt bringing in their puppy saw that?”

Discord huffed. “Well, I wouldn’t disarm myself around foals anyway. There’s no telling what they’d do, the annoying little brutes… Kidding, Flutters! Kidding! You know the little ones are great doers of my work.”

Fluttershy brought him back on topic. “And your attempts to pull me away from my work at 11:30?”

“Well, honestly!” Discord planted his hands on his hips. “How do you expect the Avatar of Chaos to adhere to a specific schedule? It’s just so constraining and confining, and… eeaugh!”

Unimpressed, Fluttershy turned around and walked up the trail a few paces before turning around to regard him again.

“Well then, if you aren’t able to keep to just a single commitment, just a single, particular part of my schedule that I have specifically designated…”

Sensing a verdict coming, Discord panicked for a minute.

“Fluttershy,” he asserted. “You know that this is what I am. It’s what you love! Remember when I began to fade while trying to throw you a proper and orderly tea party?”

Fluttershy took a deep breath. It was the same old argument. He still struggled to sense when he was crossing the line. He struggled to strike a balance between exploring his powers and living with her, just given a few conditions. It was time to put her hoof down, and clarify things now that she was seeing all the more clearly.

Her response was even, but sad. “I’m not asking you to go against your nature. I’ve never asked for that. But I am asking you to respect boundaries. You can be yourself, but not at the expense of my privacy or my sovereignty. There are certain limits that I have set about myself, and there are certain rhythms to my life. And until you better understand how to respect those…”

Fluttershy was fighting hard now not to burst into tears.

“I have the sovereignty to say no to you as well…” Fluttershy felt as if her heart were spasming in her chest.

“I… You wouldn’t! Not when—”

“—Discord. I want to listen very closely to my response. It is very simple: No.”

Again, Discord recoiled as if he had been struck.

“Please keep your distance until I am ready to speak with you again. Preferably after you have learned how to better respect my boundaries. And if I ever do ask Iron Will on a date—”

“—A date?” Discord stiffened as if his tail had been victimized by Tirek using Garble as a hammer.

“And if that were to happen, you are not to interfere. If you can’t abide by that then it is over between us. Do I make myself clear?”

Discord shrank down, looking glumly at his feet. “You have my word, swearing upon all that is chaos.” After another moment, Discord vanished with a puff of smoke, evaporating into the ether.

Waiting for a moment, Fluttershy reviewed the last few minutes of conversation in her head, tears flooding her eyes as the trail to the stone staircase blurred. It was a painful discussion, but Discord had to understand that a relationship still required balance. If he could understand that, then maybe they had a chance.

As for Iron Will, he had been a perfect gentleman thus far. Maybe she should ask him on a simple, straightforward date. Not as a punishment to Discord, but for her to examine all of her options. After all, it would be nice to get to know the real Iron Will. Not his talk circuit persona. Not his tour manager identity. The real Iron Will, the one who as a loving single parent takes great interest and pride in seeing to the needs of his teenaged daughter. Fluttershy shook her head ruefully.

This was certainly going to be interesting.

Author's Note:

10/02/18 I smoothed out the story a bit and helped Flutters stay within character. Took Dr. Blankflank's critique to heart. Thanks, Doc!

So, I've been sitting on this story idea for a while... Was hoping this particular dynamic had not been explored before. If it has, just let me know. Also, let me know which direction you think this story should go. :twilightsmile:

Oh, and thanks, Darth Pegasus for your input! :pinkiehappy: