• Published 15th Jul 2018
  • 1,883 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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The Key

“So, let me get this straight.” Cadence sighed, squeezing her eyes shut as she pressed a hoof to the bridge of her nose. “You can check in on her anywhere, anytime, without warning, and feel like it is completely within reason because she enjoys a little chaos from time to time?”

Discord pursed his lips together, rolling his eyes that he needed to rehearse the matter again. “Well, she does! We had a wonderful thing!”

“And you don’t understand why the arrangement left her unsatisfied?”

Discord folded his arms and blew a raspberry, before leaning back to float at an oblique angle towards the ceiling. Cadence ignored the fact that his raspberry caused the tapestries of her throne room to vibrate as well. “She was completely satisfied! I just think that perhaps I’m a tad bit too much of a good thing!”

He continued in his trajectory, maintaining the same pose until his snout came to rest against the dome ceiling, thirty meters in the air. He must’ve had his eyes closed, because the contact surprised him, causing him to startle before sitting up and looking around, blinking in momentary confusion.

Cadence shook her head, watching as he leaned back and started a lazy backstroke, attempting to lap the inner surface of the throne room dome for some ridiculous reason. For a draconequus interested in considering relationship advice, Discord seemed to be putting up a lot of interference.

He’s being… what’s the word… obstinate. Reminds me of trying to sweet-talk Flurry Heart into taking a bath back when she was a foal.

She put on a saccharine-sweet smile. “Dis-coooorrd…”

Pausing in his swimming, Discord sat up, unimpressed at Cadence’s tone. “Don’t patronize me, Mi Amore, I’m not a child.”

“Says the draconequus pantomiming a swim meet in my throne room?”

He snapped his fingers, disappearing in a flash only to reappear as a moving feature on the throne room’s newest tapestry. The tapestry featured Spike’s heroics when he used his firebreath to melt a frozen cloud before it could smash into the spectators below, saving the Equestrian Games from disaster. Taking advantage of the scene depicted, Discord brought out marshmallows and started roasting one at the end of a stick over Spike’s fire breath.

“Cadence, so far you haven’t told me anything that I haven’t already heard from Fluttershy. You have anything better?

“Perhaps if you’d stop behaving like a petulant two year old.”

Discord merely popped a flaming marshmallow in his mouth before mounting a second on the end of his skewer. He turned away from her, his hunched posture and sullen expression causing Cadence to giggle. “Okay. Three year old.”

“If you’re not going to tell me anything useful, I’ll take my leave.”

This time it was Cadence’s turn to roll her eyes. “Are you here to actually ask me for advice? Or are you just here trying to justify yourself?”

“Who’s justifying?” Discord fumed, standing up and opening his arms wide. “I’ve only ever treated Fluttershy with absolute love! I’ve done more for her than any other pony with the possible exception of her mother!” Discord thumbed his chest with both hands. “I’m not the one being unreasonable!” Discord looked down, realizing that he was now sitting on top of Spike’s fire. His own tail was now smoldering. “I...I am justifying, aren’t I?”

Cadence’s expression softened into a gentle smile. “Maybe a little?”

Deflating like a balloon, Discord sank to the bottom of the tapestry before leaking out of it, pouring himself back into the courtroom. Landing with a thump, he bounced, floating back up into the air and massaging a foot. “How do you ponies tolerate walking on a floor made of crystal? Don’t you get stress fractures or anything? Split hooves?”

Hearing nothing, Discord looked back up only to find his own disgruntled expression looking back at him from a full length mirror. Cadence had magicked one up while he was nursing his plantar fasciitis or whatever, and was standing behind it, peering out at him from the side as she propped it up with her magic. It was time to begin this session for real. Of the many clients she had dealt with over the years in her side profession, she knew that many needed to vent, or go on a tirade, as it were, before they were ready to listen. As far as tirades went, Discord’s wasn’t the most explosive she had seen, but it had certainly been the most unusual. “I know what you are doing,” she drawled.

“Moi?” Discord scoffed. Nobody ever knows what I am doing, not even Princess Cakety-flanks.” Discord struck a pose. “I’ll have you know that I am swift as the coursing river. I’ve got all the force of a great typhoon. The strength of a raging fire! Mysterious as the dark side of the moon!”

Cadence's eyebrow slowly raised. “I think my bunny slippers just ran for cover.”

“What’s with the mirror?”

“Well…this is an object lesson.” Discord started muttering, but Cadence went on, cutting across him. “Now bear with me. I’m sure you’ve looked at your reflection countless times…”

“Well yeah—how could I not, what with my good looks?”

“But how closely do you really look yourself in the eye?”

“It’s my best feature!”

She sighed. “I mean deeply enough that you can see a glimmer of your soul?” Discord didn’t interrupt, so she went on. “To get an honest picture of what you are on the inside. You know, smear yourself across the wall and really study the contents?”

Discord stroked his chin. “That sounds a little dark for you.”

Cadence ignored him, choosing instead to look into the mirror. She waited until he looked back, meeting her gaze through the reflection. “It can be a hard thing, to look at yourself.”

Discord stared at her before finally breaking into a laugh. “Really, Cadie? I’ve heard this line of psychology before, but with my lifespan and experience, I think you’re a little out of your depth.” Discord’s voice had shifted, and was steadily growing colder. “You don’t think I already know who I am? Already know what I am?”

Cadence frowned, turning the mirror away for a moment. “Now, hold on. I think you’re forgetting something. Something that happened recently? Something that has already changed you? And isn’t a being of pure chaos capable of change?”

“Something changed me?” Now the draconequus sounded legitimately angry. “I changed myself. I am the agent of change. Are you going to educate me on what chaos is?”

“Of course not! But I think—”

“I am unknowable, Princess.” Discord’s voice had now become very dark indeed. He was floating off of the ground, and his form had doubled in size and was increasing. He snapped his fingers, and with a flash of light the mirror Cadence was holding duplicated, and then duplicated again. In a couple of seconds there were easily a hundred or more, each levitating and floating around them until they were encircled on all sides by mirrors, all connecting edge to edge until one smooth, reflective surface surrounded them.

“Let me show you what chaos looks like.” In an instant the Lord of Chaos had vanished, but Cadence’s eyes were immediately drawn to the mirrors that had come alive with a variety of images. Tears came to her eyes as she surveyed massive battlefields, littered with the dead and dying, blood and broken weapons laying about, causes, crusades, and lives lying in ruin. On other mirrors were displayed sieges and invading forces, hordes of ruthless mercenaries flying in and cutting down opposition. Death and destruction surrounded them. Wanton violence that ravaged not only soldiers but also the infirm and the helpless, even children. Cadence wiped the tears from her face, her mascara staining her light pink fur.

Discord’s voice sounded again, his voice surrounding her in a wave of malice. “Take a good look, Cadence. This is me. This is my past. I am the Avatar of Chaos. Capable of destruction on a colossal scale.”

The scenes of bloodshed, famine, and other manifestations of suffering gradually faded to black, leaving behind them only a featureless void. “This is what I am, Cadence. Unknowable. Unchangeable. For I am change, and not always for the better.”

Cadence squeezed her eyes shut, taking a deep breath before pulling herself together. Discord was obviously hurting, but if he went on hurting like this it was possible that disastrous things could result. He apparently had some rather big demons and skeletons in his closet, but even so, that fact gave her some hope. Even with all this history, he wouldn’t be putting on such a big show if he didn’t actually feel guilty for it.

She lifted a hoof, and channeled her full heritage of earth pony strength into the limb, slamming it down hard enough to crack the crystal floor. Tapping her magic, she released her own version of the Royal Canterlot Voice.

“And she loves you anyway!”

The room was filled with deafening silence. For a moment, she wondered if Sunburst was outside listening in, but so what if he was. She needed to break through Discord’s defenses, so she chose to wait. After another few moments, Discord finally popped up, appearing in one of the mirrors and leaning out of the plane of glass. “Well, I have my doubts.”

Cadence heaved a sigh of relief. As difficult a creature as Discord was, his facade finally seemed to be cracking. She slowly walked up to him, maintaining eye contact the whole way. Drawing near, she lowered her head slightly, bringing her horn exactly across his line of sight. “The horn doesn’t lie.”

Discord blinked before filling the entire frame of the mirror with his body. “Well, it's mistaken then. All of this…” he spread his arms out wide, all of the scenes of destruction previously displayed rippling across the mirrors, “is the truth. All of it happened. How much of this do you suppose Fluttershy knows about?” Discord dropped his head, the entire scene evaporating in smoke. “How much do you think I’ve kept from her? How much do I actually merit her love?”

Finally. Now we are getting somewhere. “She knows who you are,” Cadence replied gently. “And she knows more than any of us how you’ve changed. Perhaps you didn’t merit her love before. That doesn’t change what she feels now.”

Cadence slowly turned, walking back towards the center of the room. “Love is my specialty, Mr. Lord of Chaos… Would you like to hear my verdict?”

Cadence waited until she heard the sounds of him climbing out of the mirror, cocking an ear back for better clarity. She heard him mutter the word ‘verdict’ under his breath, but his footsteps drew nearer. Finally, he came alongside her. She only just barely hid her surprise when she noticed he was inexplicably wearing an orange jumpsuit.

He held his hands out, fists upturned and closedclose together. “I throw myself upon the mercy of the love court. Read me the next sentence.”

“...The next sentence?” Cadence shook her head. “If you can contain yourself for a hot minute, you might be interested in what I have to say.”

Discord brought his hands up to his face, pantomiming the act of zipping his mouth shut while his ears grew.

“Thank you. Now, you’ve just spent a moment sharing some darker things about your past. Seems to me you’re giving your best effort to explain why you are unlovable. And yet Fluttershy does love you. Why do you think that is?”

Hearing no reply, Cadence continued. “If you are a being that claims responsibility for so much of that…'' She pointed a hoof at the now empty mirror, before conjuring up an image of Fluttershy peering up demurely from under her bangs. “How have you earned this?”

Discord gazed at the image in silence for a few seconds before looking away, annoyed. “I’m sure you’re going to tell me.”

Cadence stepped closer, leaning upwards to whisper in the draconequus’ ear. “It’s because you chose her.” She pointed a hoof back at the mirrors. “You chose her over that.”

Discord raised a bushy eyebrow. “I don’t follow. I chose love over chaos? Hardly.”

“No.” Cadence smiled. “You chose her over yourself.” Discord looked off to the side again, his eyes gaining a distant look. “When you allowed yourself to become ‘reformed,’ as Auntie Celestia calls it, you made a singular choice. You demonstrated in this choice that you valued Fluttershy’s desires over your own. And her friendship. You chose her, in every sense of the word.”

Discord started stroking his goatee in thought. “But that isn’t how love works. If a person or pony always sacrifices… gives up everything they want in order to please the other, that leads to resentment.”

Cadence smirked. “Are you advising me on the ways of love?”

Discord frowned slightly. “Not exactly. I’m just saying that— “

“No, no... your point is valid.” Cadence nodded her head sagely. “But it is incomplete. Of course it is true that love is never a one-way street. It isn’t healthy or balanced if all one partner does is give while the other one takes. The best love exists in balanced relationships. If one overpowers the other... well, that isn’t love.”

“Are you saying that I’m overpowering Flutters? I wouldn’t do something like that!”

Cadence’s mouth tightened, thinking for a moment. “Let’s come back to that. The other point I wanted to make is that love will always be flawed if each partner doesn’t love themselves first.”

Discord’s brows furrowed. “How does that work? Love themselves? Isn’t that showing selfishness?”

Smiling, Cadence shook her head gently. “Loving yourself isn’t selfish. It is actually quite healthy. Unfortunately, too many ponies struggle with their self-image. Or they don’t accept who they are. Or forgive themselves of past mistakes...” Cadence sighed. “Unfortunately, too many ponies, in their heart of hearts, hold themselves in derision.”

“R-really? I thought all you ponies were far more content than that. All sunshine and rainbows.”

Cadence gave a sad chuckle “The images you displayed on the mirror shows we are not. Just because you see a smile doesn’t mean that pony can’t be a wreck inside.”

Discord made no reply, only continuing to stroke his goatee in thought.

“As for you my dear,” Cadence went on, “this is something you struggle with.”

Discord drew back, furrowing his brows as if the alicorn was suggesting how to make a Breezie souffle. Cadence went on, her voice even quieter. “Discord, for anyone to improve the quality of their love, they need to first love themselves. Once they do, the only other ingredient needed is their desire to seek the other’s interests before their own. When each side of a relationship does that… well…” She gave a wistful smile. “That’s what my element is truly about.”

“So, I need to love myself? I don’t think that—”

“It starts with acceptance,” Cadence cut across him. “You may learn better how to do this with Fluttershy by your side. She can help you heal. But let’s return to the earlier point.”

Discord waved a hand for her to continue.

“The reason Fluttershy broke things off---and this was likely the reason your relationship has been on and off for several years now—is that Fluttershy doesn’t feel chosen anymore.”

“But why? I love her more than ever!”

“I know, dear. I sensed that much with my horn.” Cadence smiled sadly. “And I’m sure that on a conscious level, you still choose her. The problem here is a difference in power, by several orders of magnitude. That, and the difference in your lifespans probably doesn’t help, either. If I could use an astronomy analogy, Fluttershy is a rather cute little moon… that just so happens to be orbiting a supermassive quasar.”

Discord stared at the floor glumly.

“You’re powerful, Discord. And each time your power reaches too far, impinging on the soul of your mate, she feels overshadowed. She feels trapped. And she stops feeling chosen.”

“Well, maybe I don’t want to be so powerful anymore.”

Cadence studied him for a long moment, before giving a heavy sigh. “Let’s come back to that point as well. First… How would you like to undergo a little thought experiment? This is something I do with couples in relationship counseling sessions. Fluttershy isn’t here to do it with you, but I can work around that.” Suddenly her face broke into a wide grin. “How would you like to swap brains?”

Discord stood up and backed away. “Somehow, that isn’t what I thought would come out of your mouth. Mi Amore Cadenza: Princess of Love by day and body snatcher by night...”

“There is a spell I have developed—a spell that in a large part is how I made my ascension to alicorn status—that I call my empathy spell. I use it to help couples see from the viewpoint of the other; experience things in the way that their partner experiences.” Her grin became shark-like. “It has a way of really changing a pony’s paradigm.

Discord pursed his lips. “You’re not really selling me on this, here.”

“For many couples, the experience is far too personal, so I try to help them in other ways. But for couples who are willing to try everything to save their relationship? Well…”

“I’ll agree, if…” Discord held up a claw. “And this is a very big if… Only if I can swap with Flutters. I’ll accept no substitutes.”

“But she isn’t—”

Discord’s claw turned over, showing that he had cocked his fingers in preparation to snap them. “That can be easily remedied.”

Cadence looked from his hand back to his eyes, a strange intensity there. She cocked her head with a sigh. “This is an example of what I was talking about. Fluttershy most likely feels trapped. How is she supposed to feel any balance in your relationship if you can snap your fingers on a whim and call her to your presence without warning? Even from way over here in the Crystal Empire?”

Discord’s hand slowly lowered as his expression softened. “I…” His voice was subdued. “I don’t usually take such liberties, but when the occasion calls for it…” He sat up a little straighter, his expression hardening. “When the occasion calls for it, I am the best assurance of safety she has: I can be there in a heartbeat! With me Fluttershy has never been safer. Are you suggesting I give up my ability to reach out, to snatch her from danger? I’m not willing to give that up.”

By now Discord was nearly growling. Cadence winced. It was heartwarming in a way, but in another, it was disturbing. She measured her tone carefully. “All I ask is that you see things from her perspective. You love her enough to do that, don’t you?”

Discord pointed at her. “I see what you are doing… that was low, Cadie”

“I know, I know…” Cadence’s head slunk towards her shoulders, but she peered up at the draconequus through her multi-colored locks. “But will you?”

The moment drew out, the silence becoming heavier and heavier until Discord finally relented. “Fine! Fine…” he grumbled. “What do I have to do?”

“Just allow me to do the spell. Only a minute of real time will pass, but in your mind, you will experience the equivalent of a significant past event, or maybe a day, with Fluttershy. I obviously don’t have her mind available here, but I can substitute my own. It goes without saying that my sessions are completely confidential, but in order to do this, you must give me access to one particular memory.”

Discord narrowed his gaze, thinking for a moment. “And you can just step in like that? I doubt it is equivalent. I may be a—what did you say? A supermassive quasar? Well, as an alicorn, you are probably way more massive than a cute little moon.”

“Hey!”

Discord chuckled.

Cadence sighed, realizing that he got her there. “I have a way around that too. I will revert my state of mind into how I saw the world previous to my ascension. My lifespan and outlook were very different back then. It’ll be enough.”

“If you say so.” Discord said dubiously. “Is this something that Flutters is supposed to do as well? Or is this just to change my own way of thinking?”

“If you approve of this process, we can of course bring it up to Fluttershy later. I’m sure she would agree if you’ve already tried the therapy.”

“Very well.” Discord leaned back, crossing his arms. “I’m game. Light me up.”

Cadence clapped her hooves together. “Excellent! I just need a memory.”

“Easy. As for memories, I’m still trying to come to terms with our most recent conversation.”

Cadence frowned. “Actually, I need a time when you both were enjoying yourselves. But also a day in which you used your powers in ways she didn’t expect. Or maybe a time she acted reluctant to acquiesce to some grand idea you had.”

Discord stroked his beard. “Have you been looking in on us?”

“No!” Cadence shook her head rapidly. “I would never!”

“Okay, fine. I have one: three years ago, I wanted to blink us to Saddle Arabia on Hearthswarming… But she had some other commitments I wasn’t privy to.”

“Wonderful! We’ll start there.” Cadence smiled. “Now. Close your eyes…”

* * *

Fillydelphia, 8:07 PM same day

The perky pegasus mare gave a small bow before folding up their menus. In a blink she had turned tail and pranced back into the kitchens, her salmon-orange tail waving behind her. Iron Will watched her go before jerking his head forward again, meeting Fluttershy’s eyes with an apologetic gaze. Unfortunately, his right horn grazed the edge of the candelabrum hanging over their table, sending it into a wild arc with a clang.

“I’m uh, sorry, Shy.” Iron Will cringed, reaching up and steadying the light fixture as more and more eyes were drawn to their table. “I wasn’t meaning to stare at the server’s flank. I was just thinking about what I might order for dessert.” Iron Will began to open his napkin before he suddenly realized what he had said, clapping a hand over his eyes. “I mean! Oh, Mother of Minos, that’s not what I meant!”

Fluttershy shook her head slightly, hiding a small smile behind her hoof. “That’s okay Will. You’re just nervous. Normally you aren’t like this at all. What’s wrong?”

“Well, I’m sorry, alright?” The minotaur groaned. “It’s just that it’s a little weird, having been your tour manager for so long… and having admired you all this while. It’s just a little intimidating.”

“Me intimidating?” Fluttershy blinked. “That’s a first. Why do you think that—”

“Just forget it,” Iron Will grumbled. “Let’s uh… talk about something else.”

“Very well.” Fluttershy nodded primly. She looked down at the table, thinking for a moment of something that they could converse about. Thus far the date had been a series of awkward events and twists, and Will had yet to settle down and find his groove again. At this point it was getting just a little bit painful. She wondered if he had been hiding a crush on her the whole time he had managed her speaking tour, and that issue was attempting to sort itself out now. She was beginning to regret proposing this date at all. What types of conversation would be harmless?

Finding nothing, Fluttershy gazed out the window, reading the glimmering advertisement posted at the Fillydelphia Convention Center’s billboard. Her eyes widened somewhat as she saw the name lit up in neon lights. “Oh, that’s right! Guess who’ll be competing against us during our self help seminar tomorrow?”

Sitting up, Iron Will’s brows furrowed. “Competition, eh? Who would have the horns enough to challenge Fluttershy’s tour in its prime?” He struck a pose, flexing his arms and his pectorals. “They’re going to find that they’ll have a very bad time!”

Fluttershy smirked at Will’s rhyming, He was such a silly minotaur. However, he suddenly seemed to have regained his mojo.

“I think—this time anyway—that the other event had been planned out first. One of my best friends, Twilight Sparkle, is speaking tomorrow.” She pointed a hoof out the window. “It’s friendship day, and it was Fillydelphia’s turn to host the event.”

“Oh. Well then… I hope she is successful with the main event.” Fluttershy nodded her agreement before the minotaur stuck another pose, pointing at an unsuspecting corner of the room. “But only because she is your friend. Meanwhile, I hope you have twice the success her little two-bit show has.”

Fluttershy rolled her eyes. “It’s an official, Canterlot-endorsed event.”

“Well, I mean… hey, look! Our food has arrived!”

Sure enough, the pegasus mare had returned, balancing their plates across her outstretched wings. She turned with a grin, sliding Fluttershy’s plate off of her pinions with the dexterity of many years’ experience.

“Okay, you two! Here’s the heirloom tomato caprese salad with the balsamic vinaigrette for the mare… And for the bull: Fetuccine with tomatoes and crispy capers.” Once that was done, she shimmied her shoulders to slide a small wicker basket from off her back. “And here’s more baguettes for the table. Do you need any more wine?”

Sending an inquisitive glance Will’s way, Fluttershy paused before he gave a slight shake of his head. “We are both fine, thank you.”

“Absolutely!” The server beamed. “Let me know if you need anything else. I’ll check in from time to time.” With that, she bounded off to the next table.

Fluttershy decided to pick up where the earlier conversation left off. “I am sure we can both have full and successful venues without emptying out the entire city.” She giggled before stabbing a bit of her salad, holding her fork aloft in her primaries. Iron Will likewise dug in.

The evening went on from there. If the conversation wasn’t brimming with intrigue and excitement, at least it was full of mild interest and polite conversation. As they leisurely picked at the remainder of their entrees, a mild rumble of thunder sounded in the background, drawing Fluttershy’s eyes to the window. Odd. I didn’t see any lightning, or hear anything in the weather report about a storm.

Fluttershy came to two conclusions as she reviewed the evening. First, Iron Will really was well suited as her tour manager. Not only did he listen well and value her opinion, but he really knew the ins and outs of the industry. Her second conclusion, tangentially related to the first but ever so more important to realize, was that he would be well suited to stay as her tour manager.

Just her tour manager.

She had wanted to see if the potential was there, but there just didn’t seem to be any real spark; so he would not become her special somepony. Or… what was the word? Her bullfriend? Special somebully?

Whether or not Will’s feelings for her were based on admiration or actual romantic interest, it was now her responsibility to let him down gently and carry on their connection as it was. They still had a professional relationship to maintain. They would remain friends, nothing more.

More thunder rumbled from outside, distracting Fluttershy from her thoughts as she glanced out the window again. Still no flash of lightning. Weird.

Well, no time like the present.

“Um, Will?”

The minotaur adjusted his collar, her tone of voice getting his undivided attention. “Yeah, boss?”

“I enjoyed myself this evening, and I’m glad we were able to share this experience together.”

Will gave her a quizzical look. “I sense a ‘but’ in there.”

Fluttershy gave a resigned sigh. “I’m sorry, Will. I would like our friendship to continue as strong as it ever was. But to be more? Romantically? Well…”

Fluttershy was cut off by a flash from the window, drawing the attention of all of the patrons inside.

Wait.

She played with her mane absently while she rewound the last minute in her head. There had been yet another rumble of thunder, but the timing had been backward. The thunder had preceded the lightning.

...Now that she thought of it, her natural-born weather-sense instincts had been entirely quiet all evening. Normally, she would get a tell-tale tingle down her spine that would herald a lightning strike. Thus far, her senses had been completely quiescent..

“Something strange is happening outside.” Fluttershy whispered.

Iron Will sat up. “You want me to investigate?”

Fluttershy held up a hoof. “Oh, that won’t be necessary Will. I’m sure that—”

“Be right back.” The minotaur grunted as he stood up suddenly. Reaching behind him, he pulled out his billfold and placed it on the table. “Here. That's in case they bring us the check before I return.” Without another word, he spun around and strode for the door, rounding tables and dodging server ponies..

Rubbing at a hoof nervously, Fluttershy studied his face as he made for the door. She wasn’t sure if he was more concerned about whatever events were outside, or frustrated by the already played out events of the evening. She had a suspicion it was the latter. Debating about whether or not she should follow, she eventually sat back and watched as his form passed beneath the street lamps while he scouted the area. After a couple of minutes, something drew his attention to the Convention Center, so he jogged across the street to the main entrance.

The server returned with the check, but Fluttershy hardly said two words in response. Sensing something amiss, the server only made a small comment about the ‘weird weather outside’ before promising to come back with some tea.

After a few more minutes she returned, leaving Fluttershy to keep watch while she sipped on some chamomile. The door to the convention center had opened, and to her surprise, a second minotaur was standing there conversing with Iron Will. She couldn’t make out many details, but the other minotaur did stand a little taller and was wearing several belts full of tools. Didn’t Twilight’s security team have a minotaur in their ranks? After another minute, the conversation ended and Iron Will returned to the restaurant, finally sitting back down across from her. His expression was grave.

“Fluttershy? We need to go.”

* * *

There it was again.

Whoever it was at her hotel room door, they weren’t ready to give up so easily. This time, the knocking didn’t wait for a response, but merely continued. Fluttershy brushed a lock of her pink mane out of her face and sat up, blinking at the alarm clock.

Who could that be at seven in the morning? Is there a fire?

Shrugging before letting out a tremendous yawn, Fluttershy moved the covers aside to make room as she stretched both wings out to their full length. The knocking was still ongoing. Fluttershy cupped a hoof to the side of her mouth. “Just a minute!”

Hm. You could do better than that, Fluttershy. That wouldn’t even awaken Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow.

Clearing her throat a few times, Fluttershy sat up a little taller and tried again. “Ahem. Just a minute!”

That didn’t work either.

With a flap of her wings, Fluttershy lifted out of bed to glide gently down in front of the door. For all of the nervous anticipation of her date, it had ended on a rather quiet and anticlimactic note. When he returned to their table, Iron Will had informed her about the strange monster attack that had just occurred at the Convention Center. Apparently, the thunder she thought she heard was actually the sound of the monster when it roared. The flash of light that made Will get up and investigate was given off by a magical stun spell deployed by Fizzlepop Berrytwist, Twilight’s head of security. Once Will had come back from his invesigation, he insisted that she return to her hotel room for her own safety.

Fluttershy hated to end the date on such a down note, but it did create the opportunity to bring the evening to a close without too much awkwardness. Iron Will had suggested that she take shelter for the night, and it was rather convenient to agree.

As for the incessant knocking, that hadn’t paused yet, maybe this was Will checking in on her? Not likely. He would never knock in such an irritating manner. The rhythm of the knocking didn’t even follow a pattern. It just kept changing before any pattern could be recognized—the chaos of it was rather jarring… Wait.

Fluttershy undid the latch and pushed open the door.

“Discord?!” She glared at the draconequus floating in the hall, who for some reason it would be good to take on an appearance similar to the crystal ponies of the Crystal Empire up north. All the organs of his body were see-through, with the exception of his heart. That organ was easily visible, and it oddly had a crack going down the middle of it. Fluttershy figured she knew the topic of this visit already.

At the same time, she wasn’t sure if it was right to glare at him. Discord had held up his end of the bargain, after all. He had not interfered with her date—at least as much as she could tell.

“Of course!” He grinned. “Whom were you expecting… the white rabbit?”

Fluttershy frowned at his Chesire cat-like grin. Discord obviously had something up his sleeve, and if she knew anything about her ex, it was that if he wanted to share something, there would be no deterring him. Stepping to the side in resignation, she waved him in. “Welcome to my stateroom. Make yourself at home. Tea? Coffee? Roomservice and a five-star meal?” She was going for sincerity, but a little sarcasm snuck into her voice on the last quip.

“Why thank you!” Discord Ignored her tone, humming in pleasure, as he sauntered in taking in the decor or her suite. “Ugh. Who does the interior design around here? Where’s the vibe? The beat? Where’s the plaid wallpaper with the clashing color schemes?”

More than acquainted with his antics, Fluttershy only returned his queries with a flat look. “Um, I’m sorry, but did you step out of your little dimensional portal too early?”

“Hm?”

“Discord. Why are you here?” Fluttershy hovered upwards, patiently folding her forelegs while she awaited his response.

“Why, to see you of course!” He spread his arms out wide, showing off his crystalline body. “I came all the way from the Crystal Empire!”

Fluttershy turned her glare up a touch, adjusting her primaries to glide her hover forward until only about three hooves distance separated them. “At seven in the morning after my date?”

“It couldn’t wait!”

Discord…”

“Okay, okay! I’m sorry.” He held up both hands as if warding off a blow. “I suppose it is a little over-the-top to drop in this early after your hot date with… Your minnow-taur. But I needed to see you.” Discord dropped his head, clasping his hands in front of him. He actually looked abashed.

Fluttershy considered him. It must be something significant, given his current demeanor. He was even using one of the hotel room chairs—to actually sit for once. His hands remained folded in his lap as he looked up slightly. “Can we talk for a minute?”

Fluttershy blinked. There seemed to be a deep essence to how he used that word. What did he want to talk about? This had to be him doing his best to piece their relationship back together. She was willing to talk, but he knew exactly where she stood on this whole thing. She longed for their relationship to be successful—she just wasn’t sure if it could be. “I can see that you feel this was urgent, Discord, but even so: to knock on my door at seven in the morning?”

Discord winced a little bit, but after a few seconds he stood, giving a resigned sigh. “Of course you are right. It was rude of me to barge in like that. I seem to always have a problem with timing.” He walked to the door. “I’ll wait until you're ready. If now isn’t a good time, I can come back later.”

Fluttershy was taken aback at how easily he had changed his mind. This wasn’t like him at all.

“Wait.”

Discord paused, his hand resting on the door as it stood ajar.

“We can have a chat, Discord. But could you do me the favor of waiting until I’ve freshened up?” Discord turned with a hopeful smile, making Fluttershy feel warmer inside. “Why don’t you order us some room service? We can converse over some hot food.”

Discord’s smile grew. “Marvelous! How do you want your eggs?”

* * *

“So then you swapped places?” Fluttershy giggled behind her teacup. “With Cadence?”

Discord let out a chuckle of his own. “Well, more or less. Somehow she created a false personality based on who she had been before she ascended, and then she somehow found a way to confine my vast intellect into that tiny little constricting cranium of hers!”

Smiling at his antics, Fluttershy rolled her eyes. “Yes. Your vast and vaunted intellect. I’m sure Cadence was no match for it.”

Discord coughed. “Yes. Anyway…”

“But you almost sound excited about it.”

Discord threw his hands over his head. “Because it was exciting! Imagine, casting me, yours truly, into a construct of the mind of a mortal pony! It was truly chaotic! Captivating!” He reached forward and took a large sip of his tea.

“And?”

“And I couldn’t get out. Meanwhile, Cadence had stepped into my spacious head and was calling the shots for an hour. She is a terrifying mare!”

Fluttershy tried not to snort. “Oh, yes. Love is a most frightening conundrum.”

“Right?” Discord set his tea down again, pointing emphatically in a direction Flutteshy could only guess was to the northwest. “Little Miss Love had the time of her life! First she whisked us away to a proper tea party. Ugh. Then we were off to a calligraphy class!” At this, Discord paused to shudder. “I had to practice making straight lines! And then we appeared in a factory where I was trained in the art of making metric rulers. Metric rulers! To measure things!” By now he was gesticulating wildly with both arms. “I wasn’t even allowed to cause variance to even a single millimeter! It was infuriating!”

Fluttershy tried to hold it back but she couldn’t. Now she was openly laughing, so much so that she spilled her tea. She hadn’t laughed this hard in a while. She always laughed more with Discord. She had very much missed this.

“Oh, that must have been terrible” she cooed.

“Yes it was! Yet… It was rather chaotic in its own way.”

“And Cadence did this as sort of a relationship test? Or a therapy?”

“Whichever. But at the end of it all, she gave me some advice.”

“Advice?”

“Very, very good advice, Fluttershy.” Discord leaned forward, his face becoming serious. “I don’t want to lose you. I can’t.”

Fluttershy didn’t know what to say. In all the years she had known Discord, she wasn’t sure she had ever seen him as earnest as this.

“What happened?”

“Cadence changed my paradigm.” Discord leaned closer, reaching across her remaining breakfast to hold both her hooves in his hands. “And I’m sorry.”

Discord paused, waiting for Fluttershy to react, but Fluttershy.exe was trying to reboot itself after updates.

“I’ve been such a rapscallion.”

“D-Discord?”

“A rapscallion. And a rascal. And a turd-muffin too.” Discord dropped his voice into a low murmur, lowering his head in shame. “Forgive me? I’ve injected a little too much discord in your life, my dear. I… I never knew the harm I was doing.”

“Harm?” Flutteshy shook her head in disbelief. “What harm? I knew that you loved me.”

“And I know that you knew that I loved you. I still do. But I took liberties. I misused my power. Wasn’t that what our last conversation was about?”

“Well. Yes.” Fluttershy looked away for a moment. She recalled the anguish of that day, and realized that her heart had been aching from those wounds ever since. But it had been for the best. It was a decision not made lightly, nor in haste. At least that is what she kept telling herself. “If you’ll recall, that wasn’t the first time I brought that up. Only last time we spoke, I had finally had enough.”

Discord sat back, his expression growing resolute. “Well, no more. I want you back.” With that, Discord held something forward, cradling it in his palms as if it were his own soul. “And I’d do anything to have you by my side.”

It was a key. Simple in design, devoid of color, except for a muted off-white. And yet there was something about it that resonated power.

Fluttershy gave a little gasp. What had he done? And was it reversible? She didn’t want him harming himself or doing something else foolish to prove a point. “Discky… what did you do?” She held out her hooves reverently to take it.

“I have lived for a long time, my dear. But in all those millennia, I had never loved.” Fluttershy gave a little start, looking back up to his moistening eyes. “I. Love. You. I think I started to fall the moment that you denied my power in the middle of Canterlot gardens. I was intrigued. And… a little annoyed. I had to cheat and actually push your mind harder than the others in order to get what I wanted.”

Fluttershy gave a little huff and folded her forelegs again. “Way to ruin the moment. Go back to the part where you said you loved me. Eep!” Fluttershy covered her muzzle with both hooves, her eyes wide as her bangs fell across to hide one side. Did she really say that? Is that what she really meant to say?

Perhaps.

Perhaps it was. Discord was smiling at her expectantly. “Okay, Discord. I may still have feelings for you too. But about our earlier conversation?”

Discord smiled proudly. “All taken care of.”

“But how?”

“I realized how my power was hurting you. And I saw how from my perspective, I was having a hard time understanding that fact. So I leveled the playing field some. I won’t stop being Discord—we saw how that worked out before—but this here…” He pointed a claw at what she held in her hand. “This is the key.”

Fluttershy gave him a blank look. “Yes? It is a key…”

No no no! Discord waved his claws. “Not a key. The key.”

“This key is the key?”

“Yes.”

“I’m confused.”

Discord pinched the bridge of his nose. “Let me explain. It took some doing, but I was actually able to splinter off a sizable portion of my powers and separate them from me. Cadence guided me in how to use my love to compress them, store them, and to package them, travel sized for your convenience.

“And this key… I now give to you. As I do my heart.” He reached out again, enclosing her hooves around the smooth and slightly warm surface of it. He gestured down at it with his snout. “For safekeeping. No longer shall I be able to yank you from whatever you’re doing, or be able to spy on you without your knowing. It will limit me in my ability to pull you out of danger, but… I think you’d rather have your sovereignty.”

Fluttershy held the key up, her eyes wide. She was stunned. Overwhelmed. She was more than a little terrified. “But Discky! You can’t do that for me! What will happen? And how will it affect you? You can’t do that to yourself!”

“Already have, Fluttershy. Already have—and I want you to have it.” Discord gently let go of her hooves, hovering his hands above them as if leaving a blessing before finally leaning back. “I am not harmed in any way, my dear. I’m just… not as OP as you remember.”

“But can you reverse it?”

“No.”

“What?” Fluttershy gasped, tears coming to her eyes. “But Discord!"

“Listen.” Discord reached forward again, looking deeply into her eyes as he held her shoulders. “I cannot break it. Only you can. This is deep magic, Flutters. But I want you to remember this: You break that key, you break my heart.”

“But you can’t just give me that condition!”

Discord grinned. “Look at it this way. Holding onto that key will make me a bit more tolerable to have around. You do want me around, don’t you?”

Fluttershy’s mouth dropped open. “I… You… But that’s—” After another moment, Fluttershy pushed off from the table, jostling the hotel’s serving platters. Turning on a hoof, she started to pace back and forth, glaring holes into the floor. After another few turns, she turned and gave him a rather severe look. She held up the key, shaking it a few times for emphasis. “I am really uncomfortable with this!”

Discord sat meekly, inclining his head to wait. Fluttershy went back to pacing. After another minute she stopped again. “If you love me, then you’ll respect my right to think about this? I mean... really think about it—It feels like you are giving me no choice here!”

“I’m sorry, Flutters. I don’t want you to feel like you have no choice. If you choose to only remain friends, then I will abide by that decision. I hope you give me a last chance, but even if you don’t, I still want you to keep the key.”

Fluttershy looked down at the key in her hooves, her mouth slightly open. After a few moments she sat back on her haunches, still lost in thought.

“There’s no rush. I don’t need an answer right now, Fluttershy—I would never rush you in a matter such as this.”

“I… that’s good, that’s…”

A flash of magic broke into their conversation as a wisp of smoke swirled before materialising into a scroll. Fluttershy flinched from the intrusion, but Discord only raised a claw to pluck it lazily from the air.

“It’s for you.” He held the scroll out. “Princess your new pen pal?”

“Not really.” Fluttershy got back on her hooves and took the scroll from him, glancing at the Celestial Seal. “Huh. I wonder what Princess Celestia wants?” Without further ado, she broke it open and began to read. The message didn’t contain good news.

“Oh, dear.”

“Celestia revoke your touring license?”

“No.” Fluttershy stuck her tongue out and threw a bagel at him. He merely caught it and started to cover it in mustard. “However, I need to head back to Canterlot. Right away!”

“Canterlot?” Intrigued, Discord floated off of his chair, reclining in the air as he carefully adhered the bagel to the ceiling. “What about your speaking tour? And your muscular minnow-manager?”

The pegasus shook her head. “This is too important. Iron Will can handle the cancellation. There’s a pony that has some sort of magical curse, and neither princess can fix her. It sounds terrible. They’d like us to try to help her with the Elements of Harmony.”

“Ah.” Discord tried to hide the distaste in his voice. “Yes, the crystalline constructs that create collections of concrete criminals.”

“The what?”

“Amulets of Doom. Anyway, need help packing your bags? Better yet, shall we step into my dimension and save some time?”

Fluttershy cocked her head. “Can you still do that?”

The draconequus landed his hands on his hips. “Well, of course I can—oh wait.” His posture slouched as he reached up to scratch behind a horn. “Well, I can. But to bring you—that might prove difficult.” Discord started to mutter under his breath, slowly becoming more and more animated as he had a drawn out argument with himself.

“So… train tickets?”

Discord glared at her as if insulted. “Must we be so mundane? Rolling boxes on wheels? Ugh!”

“You could sit with me in my 1st class cabin.” Fluttershy nudged his morose form with a hoof.

Discord let out a long breath. “You’ll let me redecorate a little?”

“Of course!”

“...Fine. I’ll get the tickets. You can inform last night’s date that you are coming with me.”

“That little message will sweeten the deal, huh?”

“You bet your sweet flank it does.”

End

Author's Note:

And there you have it. I needed to give these two characters their own little introduction before they stroll into my main fic, The Amulet of Shades. I will turn to that next, and get chapter 14 out as soon as I can. Fluttershy's friends are going to be a little confused when they see her, because last they heard, she broke it off... Andy why is she wearing that key around her lovely neck?

I'll also give a shout out to Nailah (go on over there and give that mare some headpats) and a new friend of mine, Tater for Life, who gave me some very good input on the character of these... ehrm, characters, and his views on the assertiveness levels of our favorite feminine pegasus.

As for this story, I admit chapter two is not as strong as one and three, but if you enjoyed the quality, I think you will certainly enjoy The Amulet of Shades. I caution you to not peek at the end of chapter 13, though. Give it a read and build up to it... Anyhoo, that's all I have. Hope you Fluttercord lovers out there enjoy. I'll further develop their relationship as Amulet moves forward.

Love y'all!
-S.C. :twilightsmile:

Comments ( 12 )

This, overall, was a wonderful story to read, with a good conclusion to cap it all off.

To go into more detail...I think I just love how true it all feels. From Cadence wanting to help Discord, but struggling when he doesn't want to cooperate to Discord and Fluttershy having that conversation with each other, just being close, and sincere...ending with him giving her the key. All the emotions feel genuine, and I'm tied into the story.

Wonderful side story. That ending still left me on the edge with that sudden transition towards your ongoing story. It hit me right in the feels. Especially, the part where Discord's decided on limiting his magical capabilities to be with Fluttershy almost made me teared up. It shocked me what he had in stored for Fluttershy. Was he gonna rid of his magic? Was he gonna give up his immortality!?! Jeez, that part still gets me. You really nailed on the emphasis part, and the seriousness of the character that is Discord. You do have some missing quotes that need to be put in some places in your story. Overall, can't get enough these two, and can't wait in what they'll get up to in your Amulet of Shades story.:pinkiehappy:

10263416
Ah, those pesky quotation marks. I'll hunt 'em down. And thanks for your kind words. Interestingly, while Amulet hasn't touched on these characters at all yet, they end up playing an important role down the stretch, so, why not give them their own side-fic to set it up? But yes, Discord and Flutters stroll right into the next chapter. Will be fun to see how Rarity and Twilight react... That was also set up from further back in Amulet.

10263148
So happy to hear you using words like true and genuine. I am all for realism (as much as can be had in candyponyland) and I certainly want the story to be instantly relatable and digestible. Glad to hear it was received well. :twilightsmile:

10270974
Um... it's fanfiction. :duck:

Y'know, fiction? As in imaginary, or fantasy, a tale? I mean, none of it ever happened. It's a freakin' cartoon.

Did you read the story at all, or just see a Fluttercord ship, drop in, and bestow your benevolent downvote on it?🙄

I see you, Ponke.

10273118

Did you read the story at all, or just see a Fluttercord ship, drop in, and bestow your benevolent downvote on it?🙄

i mean
a, they have a point
b, that's what i did
cuz, y'know, it's a garbage ship
get better taste, dude

10283062
Point!

What an incredible opinion you have about taste, buddy. I do hope dropping a meaningless downvote on a fic you didn’t read makes you feel all warm and cozy.

Because it’s how people can act around here, right? Good job. Really. Kudos to you.

I’ll go back to doing things that actually matter, now.

10283062
Boy, you have an OC (most likely yourself) snuggling to Fluttershy.
You telling us to get a "better taste in ships," yet you have that as your pfp?

I wish there were more. This is a very interesting concept, Discord relinquishing his powers......... and that's where it stops?! :rainbowhuh: That cliffhanger is harsh. :fluttercry: Are there any plans for a sequel?

10397858
Actually there is! Tune in to the main fic (or at least chapter 14) of The Amulet of Shades :twilightsmile:

10398035
I'll have to look into that story, I found this one through a romance group. :pinkiehappy:

10398047
Feel free! These events wind up playing a big role later on... 😁

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