• Published 6th Sep 2018
  • 1,357 Views, 24 Comments

Beneath the Argent Moon - Rose Quill

Sunset returns to the world of CHS for a slumber party, her fiancée in tow.

  • ...

The Difference Between Us

"What's got you so happy?" I asked the human Fluttershy later that night.

"I'm not sure what you mean." She responded softly.

"You've been smiling at us all night," I said, giving her a smile of my own. "So spill!"

"It's just, well," she rubbed her arm. "I've never seen you so happy and I'm honestly really glad for that. There was always that little part of you that held back when you lived here. Especially around me."

I winced, thinking I had hidden that better from the girls. "Listen, about that..."

She waved me off. "I understand perfectly." She lifted her gaze to mine and I saw the same forgiveness my Fluttershy had offered when I had first returned to Equestria. "And it's alright. I forgave you a long time ago."

I felt a little choked up as I leaned forward and gave her a hug.

"Thanks, Shy, that means a lot to me."

When we separated, I sat back and sighed contently. This had been a great night so far. As SciTwi returned, I noted the lack of her counterpart.

"Where's Twilight?" I heard Applejack ask.

“She said she wanted to get some fresh air, clear her head for a bit.” She snuggled into the farmgirl. “I don’t know if she feels any better though.”

I noticed my Fluttershy stand, a look of worry on her face. "Should we go talk to her?"

"Of course we will." Rarity standing to join her.

"Maybe she just wants to be alone for a minute," Fluttershy said.

I stood. "Let’s let her have her space. If she isn’t back before the food gets here, I’ll go talk to her.”

As we all agreed, I made my way over to SciTwi.

"What were you two talking about?" I asked.

"I just tried comforting her," she said shyly. "I know what it's like to have magic go a little astray and I wanted to let her know she could talk to us. And that you two didn't seem to mind it so much."

I sighed. "She's spent a lot of time trying to undo what happened. Sometimes I think that after working on something for so long you become used to it being there." I looked over at my Fluttershy as she stepped back into the living room. "Sometimes you learn to live with it, sometimes it stops bothering you, and sometimes it becomes a part of who you are."

"And if you don't want it to?" Twilight asked.

"Then you find a way to move past it," Fluttershy said, her steps nearly silent despite her heavy boots. She slipped an arm around my waist. "It took a long time for me to get to this point. It won't happen overnight."

"And you've got friends to help you when things gets tough," I reminded her. “She has gotten better about not overreacting, but…”

“She still has her moments.” Rarity finished.

“Should I go get her?” asked Twilight, nervously smoothing her skirt.

“No, she’ll be fine,” I said. “If she needs air, then it’s fine. She’s a big mare... er girl. She can take care of herself.”

But after receiving the stack of pizzas Pinkie had delivered, the Princess was still absent.

“I’ll let Twilight know dinner’s here,” Rainbow said. She hadn’t been gone long before she returned, a look of confusion on her face. “She’s not here.”

“What do you mean?” SciTwi said. “We sat on the porch and talked and she said she wanted to clear her head.”

“Oh, my,” my Fluttershy whispered, sounding like her old self. “Twilight likes to walk to clear her head sometimes.”

I felt my eyes widen. While we weren’t in a dangerous neighborhood, I knew my old place wasn’t too far away and it tended to be a rough area. “Maybe we should go find her.”

“You want help?” Dash asked.

“It might be better if it’s just Shy and I. We know how she thinks -- usually -- and might be better at talking to her about it, especially if she is feeling down about us.”

“I don’t know,” my Fluttershy muttered. “We might make it worse.”

“I’ll go too,” Rainbow said. “Three pairs of eyes are better than two.”

Before the other girls could follow in their declarations, the human Fluttershy spoke up.

“If it’s alright, I’ll stay here in case she comes back.”

Pinkie smiled and flounced over to her. “I’ll keep you company, Shy!”

“I mean, um,” Fluttershy hesitated. “It is your house, after all, so...”

We decided to split up with Shy, Rarity, and myself heading for the mirror while Twilight, Applejack,and Dash went towards observatory. It was a comforting place for this world's Twilight. So it was a decent place to investigate.

“So, I must ask,” Rarity said as we waited for the light at a crosswalk to change. “How much of a change is this, ahem, condition of yours?”

I frowned and was about to protest the question when Fluttershy turned to face us. In the red light of the don't cross light, her face had taken a slightly sharper cast, her eyes glinting purple under her brows and bangs.

“It’s still me, underneath.” She gestured to her face. “The teeth, the eyes, they’re just a little different. I can see better at night, I can hear and smell better, and I’m a little stronger. Other than that, I don’t think there’s that much different.”

“Well, you act much more assured than our own Fluttershy.” The light turned green and we began to cross. “She isn’t quite as forward as you appear to be.”

“The difference between us is likely that she hasn’t gone through some of what I have.” I felt her fingers thread through mine, giving them a gentle squeeze. “Sunny helped me through some of it, and all my friends help me through my hard days.”

“Or nights,” I added. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a quartet of rough looking teens sitting on a stoop. I vaguely remembered them from CHS. If I had to liken them to an Equestrian counterpart, there was only one tribe that came to mind.

Diamond Dogs.

I stared at them from the corner of my eye as we passed, silently wondering if Twilight had come this way. She was always confident in her safety since she had become an Alicorn, the increase in magic and addition of Earth Pony traits boosting her strength. But that magic didn’t translate perfectly over on this side. Human dimorphism tended towards mares being smaller and weaker than stallions. It didn’t make sense to me but that was just how it was here.

We had gone maybe a few more steps before I heard a muffled cry come behind us.

As we turned, we saw Twilight struggle from from the largest of the Diamond dogs. He'd been shielding her from our sight. The fear in her eyes sent a bolt of anger coursing through me as I stepped towards the group.

“Let her go.” I growled.

The smallest teen smirked. “Why should we? Found her wandering all alone. It’s not safe for pretty girls to wander at night.”

“My friend said to unhand her, you ruffians!” Rarity shot. I could practically feel the hate bubbling from her.

I nearly took another step forwards when a pair of arms looped down, one snaking around my waist while a large hand clapped over my mouth. As I was hoisted from my feet, I saw Rarity entrapped within another of the teenager's grips.

“Put me down,” Fluttershy whispered in a slow, even tone. I recognized it from the times she had accidentally used it on me.

She had just used her Gaze, the hypnotic upgrade of her Stare. I twisted my head around in time to see her pat the gang member that had tried to capture her on the shoulder as he looked forward with a slack-jawed expression.

She strode forward, locking eyes with the Diamond Dog that held me, her eyes glowing in the shadow cast by the building. I avoided meeting her eyes out of instinct.

“Put my friend down, would you?” she purred. “She’s soooo much trouble to hold on to. It’d make me happy to see her free. Don’t you want to make me happy?”

I shivered at the words. Even without the enthralling gaze, a part of me would do anything to make her happy after hearing that voice.

The goon's grip slackened as I was placed back upon my feet. I instinctively wiped a sleeve across my mouth, to rid away the taste of his clammy hands.

No additional words were required in order to get Rarity free, as the goon's grip slackened. Fluttershy then steeled her gaze, approaching the Diamond Dogs with a seductive sway to her step.

I leant over to Rarity. “Are you ok?” I whispered.

“I'm afraid my clothing may need a cleansing after being crushed by that cretin. But I'm no worse for wear," she muttered, brushing ineffectively at a smudge on her white jacket. "Do you know what Fluttershy is doing?”

I watched as she spoke to the group surrounding Twilight. They all took on a distracted look, eyes glassy as she spoke softly. I noticed she avoided looking at Twilight directly, likely trying to spare her from the worst effects of the Gaze. It almost seemed to work, until the burliest of the group shook his head and snarled at Fluttershy.

“What d’ya think yer doing?” he spat, turning and gripping Twilight's arm tightly. “I ain't gonna be scared by some slip of a girl.”

I saw Fluttershy tense.

“Let her go,” she growled.

The Diamond Dog laughed at her, shoving Twilight back towards his cronies and advanced on Fluttershy. “And I ain't gonna let you get away with speaking to me like you just did.”

Despite being around the same height, his bulkier frame gave him an intimidating look. I began to dart over to help her fend him off.

I hadn’t taken more than a few steps before Fluttershy was swallowed by a small cloud of inky black smoke. We all froze, and I couldn't figure out what had just happened. Then the thumping of wings drew my attention upwards.

She was held aloft by leathery wings, and her ears sprouting from the top of her head, large and tufted. Her eyes gleamed in the night sky with a menacing glare that made me recall the early nights of our relationship, seeing her transformation for the first time.

The bat had returned.

She furled her wings and dropped straight to the ground, landing with a thud before her aggressor, the cloud of smoke ushered away in the wake of her descent. She stalked forward, closing the distance between them until they were almost nose to nose.

“You look so intimidating, hurting a harmless girl. It’s a good look on you, but do you know what the difference between us is?” Her hand shot out and fingers curled around the Diamond Dog’s neck just under his jaw. “I always follow through with my threats.”

She lifted the man into the air as though he weighed as much as Angel Bunny. Her wings spread out again and she lifted up into the air, the struggling gang member clutched in her hand. The smell of fear, and a few other less pleasant odors, began to reach my nose as he kicked and struggled.

“Lemme go!”

“Oh, I will.” Fluttershy flicked her bangs behind her shoulder. “The height of which I do so depends on you.”

They continued lifting higher, feet now at eye level. I was worried that Shy had been completely sublimated and was intent on actually harming this challenge to her authority.

“Fluttershy?” I whispered.

"Let'r go! Let'r go!" a terrified cry sounded out.

This was immediately followed by him being dropped gracelessly against the pavement below. He remained unharmed, however, as he stumbled to his feet and broke into a full blown retreat. This was soon followed by his gang as not a Diamond Dog opted to linger behind.

With her work done, Fluttershy drifted back towards the ground, her wings furling against her back.

I took a cautious step forward. “Fluttershy?”

She turned to face me, so I approached with my gaze away from her potentially hypnotic gaze and my hands out to the sides, like a zoo keeper approaching an especially problematic animal.

“It’s just me, Songbird,” I soothed, using one of the pet names I had for her. “It’s ok.”

She broke out laughing as her wings vanished.

“Of course it is, Sunny!” she said, her voice returning to her normal tone. “I’m still your Fluttershy, after all.”