• Published 22nd Aug 2012
  • 4,805 Views, 327 Comments

Pony POV Series Season Five: Mind Games - Alex Warlorn



Discord, beaten.World, saved.But emotionally damaged Diamond Tiara hears Discord's voice and listen

  • ...
10
 327
 4,805

Episode 59: "New Game Plus Pinkie Pie +"

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic
New Game Plus Pinkie Pie
Pony POV Series

Hi! Yes, it's Pinkie Diane! It's been awhile since we did a good old fashioned interview huh? How ya been? Is that broken nose healing alright? Oh, how have I been? I've been adjusting. I can't say it's not less stressy that I don't have to pretend I'm still crazy, but I feel, I dunno, a bit naked not having to follow the script.

It's nice to have AJ knowing about these things, it was always so lonely to be the only one who knew about this stuff. And I'm really extra happy I was able to pull off Cranky's welcome to Ponyville a lot better than in the heart world. Oh I know the Shadows-Who-Make have gone on the record as saying that I'm not really a fourth wall breaker, but look at it this way; which way is more constructive for the story? More fun, for that matter?

Oh don't give me that look, it's not at all like those Trixie/Big Macintosh pairings stories (not that they can't be a cute couple; I just don't think Trixie is Big Mac's type). I'm saying it makes this place feel more alive with me able to see the Shadows.

It's funny but no matter what I do I can't get my hooves on a copy of the script for the season finale, so I guess I'm going in there blind.

Aww! That's a nice baby Phoenix you have there. His name is Peewee? That's so cute! Who's a cute widdle Phoenix? Yes you are! You won't be able to take him with you after you've finished all your interviews? That's just mean. You should talk to your superior about that. Huh? Spike? You think Spike's cut out for that responsibility? Trust me, I know how that works out. Then again, he does sometimes gets lonely when we're all busy, having a cutesy little Phoenix to keep him company will be super nice!

So what do you gals wanna talk about this time?

Oh. That. Yeah. Yeah, after I managed to make things run smoother with meeting Cranky Doodle Donkey, I wanted to try it again with the MMMM mystery.

I actually was able to snatch some of the author's notes when he wasn't looking. Or I don't think he was looking, maybe he's just stopped caring by now. But I was able to read up how things could go differently.


"So you guys all had the same dream too?" Rainbow Dash asked the Flutters and Rarity. The twins, Aloe and Lotus, were polite and business-smart enough not to question what their customers were talking about, and just set about making them feel relaxed in their spa.

"Well, technically I had the dream, 'Cruel slept like a baby," Fluttershy whispered. "We can't see each others' dreams, so she didn't see mine."

"I shall confess, I did indeed have the same dream you described Rainbow darling," Rarity seemed to be a little uncomfortable, but they all were.

"Well, in my dream, 'Cruel wasn't with me, and Pinkie Pie was acting, well, like old Pinkie Pie."

Personally Rainbow Dash was thankful it was just a dream. Even though that dream-cake HAD been delicious, the idea of betraying Pinkie Pie's trust, having to scrub every inch of the store, kitchen, basement, and the ovens (no magic), and getting banned from Sugar Cube Corner for a year alongside Rarity (who whined about her hooves getting pruney) and Fluttershy would've just been unbearable. It reminded her of her dreams of Scootaloo not being with her.


It took a really long time for me to figure out how to do things right. I mean, I saw things can go wrong after that talk with Twilight about the whole self-fulfilling time loop thingie... wait a sec', that hasn't actually happened yet? Why not? I'll have to ask Star Catch- I mean Princess Celestia about that. Huh? How did I mess with how things've been going in other spots? Not very much to be honest, somethings were better just to let continue as they are, like if that time loop thingie doesn't happened, Ponyville won't get all those repairs it really, really needs! And a lot of things happened differently on their own. I guess I'm not the only one who's grown up, makes things kinda cool huh?

+++

Sometimes cohabiting a body sucked. It's got plenty of fun perks, but it ain't all sunshine and rainbows.

Take that mess with the tornado, for example. I couldn't believe how thick Rainbow had been letting Thunderlane infect seven other pegasi with the feather flu. But Dash was weather team captain and not me and what she said went. Heck, officially, I wasn't even on the weather team.

Rainbow didn't want the whole 'two ponies, one body' thing to make the job more complicated than need be. Which meant 'Shy had to do the flight work and not me. At least I was there to support 'Shy from the inside.

When this adventure started 'Shy was expecting half the flight team to fly slower just so they wouldn't get a wing power higher than their Princess Gaia, and the other half might look for a chance to buck her in the back during the tornado.

'Shy may not be the most hated or loved pony in Equestria: but living with Nightmare Whisper's legacy sometimes stank worse than dragon's breath.

One thing I hadn't expected was for 'Shy's deeply rooted fear of ridicule to be so powerful that it would actually create a WALL between the two of us! It reminded me way too much of my time in mental limbo, trapped in a pond under a sheet of ice. I screamed out to my family only to be muted by the wall of jeering eyes. I may call her spineless from time to time, but... ugh... that wall is one thing I can't blame her for being terrified of.

The mess with the hurricane reminded me of us going to see the great dragon migration. Okay, me going and dragging Fluttershy there kicking and screaming. I had to bribe Angel and help Rainbow drag our body to the dragon-blind. And even then Rainbow ended up getting bruised from 'Shy flailing around so much. Adrenaline does wonders for a weak body... oh yeah, I guess you already knew that... um, how's the broken nose healing, by the way? Erm, "Did Rainbow do the same thing to me when 'Shy wanted to see the butterfly migration and I didn't?" Eh, I'll leave that to your imagination. Just know we can really overwhelm each other if we get emotionally charged enough.

I knew I was being cruel. But she's the only one of our group who can stop a rampaging dragon with The Stare. She had to get over her dracophobia eventually, not just for her own good, but for OURS.

Made me wish I could duplicate the Counter-Stare I gave Nightmare Whisper on command like 'Shy can now.

'Shy made our body faint twice at the migration, Spike saw that coming and had a bucket of ice water handy (yes, I know the irony!). But at least things worked out better than last time we conflicted, and the dragons were awesome! So many in one place, all that sheer might and majesty! By the end, 'Shy started to stop blacking out and was able to watch with a cold sweat instead of acting like one of her chickens. It was a start. But, as seems to be the curse of my life, the spotlight got stolen from me.

Dragons rule! Except when they decide to have their midlife crisis at infancy after seeing all the kick-flank dragons in the sky, and Marshmallow said the wrong things at the wrong time.

I hate to admit it, but I really did feel bad for the little guy. Call me a softie and your nose is getting rebroken.


"Hey, Spike," I called, walking up to the little pipsqueak.

"What is it?" he asked, he sounded pretty sharp.

"Look, about your little identity issue," I said, looking at him carefully. No two butterflies' wings needed to be mended the exact same way.

"You gonna rub it in?"

"Hey, I'm not gonna kick somebody when they're down!" My eyes shifted away, "... Anymore!"

"Then what is it?"

"Look... there's nothing wrong with being different from the other dragons, alright?"

The little guy looked down looking ready to cry. "You don't understand... How could you?"

"I understand because my 'dad's' a sick brat with the world's worst sense of humor and my 'mom' is a shrinking violet still scared of her own shadow!"

'No offense, 'Shy.'

'None taken. It follows me.'

Oy. I mentally face hoofed. "How much am I like either of them?"

"That's different!"

"Not by much! I was born out of Disharmony, and if that's all there is to it, then I should still be an evil, sadistic bu-"

'Fluttercruel! Not in front of the baby dragon!'

'Sorry... '

"I mean... ugh... a big dumb meanie. Is it a bad thing that I'm not?"

I saw the little guy blink a little. "No... "

"Then is it a bad thing you're not some giant greedy brute?"

He didn't answer me for a few minutes. "I guess it's not... thanks 'Cruel. I just wanna know where I came from, like you."

I was startled, but kept on track, "Spike, I was born from a innocent Pegasus' mind being violated when she proved just why she was kindness, you were hatched when Twilight took her first step to being a hero. If anyone should be envious here, it ain't you! And look at it this way; some day you might be Ponyville's kickflank guardian dragon! I've even heard some epic tales about dragons like that! You got that to look forwards to, right? You can build your own legacy!"

I didn't tell him those 'epic tales' came from storybooks for little foals I made Twilight show Fluttershy to try and help her overcome her phobia. Hey, not the Element of Honesty here.

Spike actually chuckled at that. "Yeah, I hadn't thought of that!"


Purple spent a couple days with Spike talking about some family history of his she had dug up. I don't know the details, but he held his head a little higher around us after that. All he would tell me was I wasn't that far off the mark with that 'guardian' thing. And that he finally felt proud of what he was. Not scared, not ashamed, not unsure, but proud.

I didn't get the chance to get more out of him at the time, he was going on some sort of play date with the Cutie Mark Crusaders Plus One.

But then with the hurricane-

Eh? What did I really mean about 'last time we conflicted?' Oh come on I obviously meant when we had that stupid fight over the hamburger right? Right? Don't you want to hear about the hurricane and-

So you want to hear about the 'time before the hurricane'? I was afraid you'd ask that. Fine. I guess it'll make things make more sense. Just don't blame me if you get confused. It's just I, we don't like to talk about it.

Me and 'Shy... after Dash started reading, me and 'Shy had, well I guess you could call it our first big fight in a WHILE.

'Shy was letting Angel treat her like his serving-maid/punching bag. I wasn't putting up with that: I got the furry little brat to eat his veggies. Going through our mailbox, (Derpy may be a wall-eyed klutz, but she's a law of nature when it comes to mail) we noticed a bit of junk mail about self-confidence lessons. You bet we went! Or rather Fluttershy went with me in the driver's seat.

We'd never seen a Minotaur before. Apparently they'd been left critically endangered after whatever 'games' dad played with them, and even today they were considered a threatened people, at least that's what Purple said. We had to keep correcting ponies who had no idea what he was when they called him a 'monster.'

My first observation of him? Minotaurs are hot. No two ways about it. They are smokin' hot. Iron Will was the biggest hunk I had laid my eyes on. Admittedly, it's a short list. Most of the good stallions in Ponyville are spoken for. Big Mac's not really my type, and most of the others are very close-minded about my liking meat... except for that one stallion, I left him to his tubs of jelly.

Maybe it was just Iron Will's 'take no prisoners' attitude, or his way of taking command, or letting no pony push him around! But the way this bull SOLD himself he could make Tiamat herself back down! I was in heat!

So when Iron Will chose us to bring onstage during his self-confidence lessons, you bet I told 'Shy not to mess it up! Of course, the last time 'Shy had 'forced' herself on anypony, it had nearly brought about the end of the world as we knew it. Consequentially, she was SCARED to be forceful. So 'Shy needed to be retaught assertiveness from the ground up.

Naturally, when 'Shy attempted to back out with a stream of limp excuses, Iron Will just kept building up the pressure. Even with some of her 'subjects' cheering her on in the crowd, she needed a lot of prodding just to stand up to a goat of questionable sapience. Finally, the angry part of herself that Fluttershy had assimilated finally seized the helm.

'Shy had kept her anger shackled to ball and chain in her basement for decades, and like any foal after being cooped-up, she ran wild.

I've got to admit I liked New 'Shy. No more apologizing for every choice she made! No more mea culpa for breathing somepony else's air! No more me needing to step in every time somepony tried to clean their hooves on her!

Until she became a bad imitation of me! Talking smack to others with cheesy rhymes instead of my trademark wit and grace. Turning every minor inconvenience, every thoughtless comment into a fight she had to win.

Boom! Suddenly, New Fluttershy was my fault! Yes, that made me angry! Purple, Marshmallow, all of them except truth-vision Orange, thinking I had backslid and was stealing her life! You bucking bet that made me mad! But oh, you do not want to know how mad that got 'SHY, though. If she was that nasty to ponies being 'mean' to her, you can guess how she reacted to them accusing her 'daughter.' They definitely didn't blame me for it after that.

And she got worse.

What was worse, 'Shy wasn't the only pony in town to take Iron Will's lessons too far. I think Iron Will offered another way out of the dark for ponies who had been damaged by my father and hadn't been healed by Princess Gaia. Others were just emulating Princess Gaia; if SHE acted this way, then it must be okay. Or was showing her true colors or was simply under Princess Celestia's mind control again (the easiest answer).

Boy, did we ever make a mess. Again.

Purple, shocked at the changes in town, took a vote and ambushed us while we were grocery shopping. Dash held her down while she used the memory spell on 'Shy again. From where I sat in Shy's head, I enjoyed a nice little montage of all the times Fluttershy had been kind and submissive to others.

Twilight leaned in close, "Fluttershy? You okay now?"

'Shy head butted Twilight below her horn.

"You need to stop thinking you're an Alicorn! What gives you the right to go messing around with pony's heads?" 'Shy showed her teeth like a tiger. "Unless of course you want to start calling yourself Princess Twilight! Maybe Spike should send Celestia a letter, and tell her to start building a third throne for you! Shall we line up all of Ponyville to be properly adjusted as you see fit, Your Highness? Or maybe you'd like to enchant one of your foalhood toys to do it for you?"

I don't see Purple cry all that often, not with that wall of books she puts between herself and her real feelings. But this, whoa Celestia, she fell down on her knees and began sobbing in her hooves!

'Shy, stop! That was a low blow!' I yelled in our head as loud as I could through her emotions. I may have yelled outside too, I don't remember.

'Oh, and you're going to tell me what to do? Are you going to start acting like your papa and brainwash me into doing things the way you want? When you get a job to start paying the bills, then maybe I'll listen to you, parasite. Oh, that's right, you don't even have a real life of your own without me, so shut up and let me do things my way!'

I think I died a little. I think I even heard my own heart break. I... I cried... I'll admit it, I just hid in our brain, letting her block me out all she wanted.

The worst part was, I couldn't hear the difference between our voices anymore!

"Fluttershy! That's not fair!" Rainbow scolded.

'Shy turned to her. "Fair? FAIR!" I saw RD shrink a little. Then 'Shy let Dash have it. "You want to know what I've really thought of you for letting me fall to my death?"

And she told her. It was like black ripple went through the air. What was scary? I know 'Shy meant every word.

Ponies stared at us like we were a gruesome carriage accident.

Rainbow just stood there, gritting her teeth, barely able to look us in the eye. She said barely above a whisper, those rosy eyes looking so small at us, "And you're right. I was a selfish nag."

No retort, no justification, no excuses, no anger, no self-righteousness.

And 'Shy felt herself fall backwards into a freezing ocean called Reality.

"... Now I'm being the nag?"

'Shy was scared to death of herself, all over again. And I... I had ruined her, again. Going to Iron Will was MY idea.

Maybe in the end I was just a robot, programmed to try and help her, only to have things blow up in my face. Repeating the cliche over and over. I was only good at what I was made to do.

We left for our home. "Left?" We fled. The whole time, Shy apologized over and over for what she said to me and I kept apologizing for what I'd done to her.

I swear, paint scales on us and the Elements of Harmony might as well be a hydra, of course the whole crew visited. Yes, Twilight and Dash too.

"Don't come in! Get the Elements of Harmony ready! Get Celestia! I could go Nightmare any second! Just get ready to blast me!" Shy wailed. A bit of me was hoping they would so I'd get destroyed and never hurt 'Shy again.

"No." AJ bucked the door down (she'd fix it later).

We both curled into a ball tighter and tighter surrounded by our friends. I felt just as much self-loathing as Shy. Who would I turn into a Nightmare next?

We both just muttered "I'm sorry!" over and over again, to each other and everypony around us.

Purple says; sometimes it's best to just leave a friend alone, or they'll close up more. But leave them completely alone and they'll eat themselves alive. Gotta give her credit, she knows her study subject. They all just stayed in a circle around us, patiently, calmly, taking turns, but never leaving us alone even for a moment. No words, no actions, simply being there. Twilight and Dash there just as much as Rarity.

They were such a stubborn bunch. All we did, and they still loved us. We didn't deserve it and they still loved us. Who were all these impossibly good ponies?

We stopped mumbling. They stayed with us. Angel fed us like we were ill. We were. They stayed with us. The CMC Plus Two took turns taking care of our animals because we couldn't, pet care cutie marks or not they did a good job. My friends stayed with us.

Maybe it was one day later or three, but with all five of our friends there, finally 'Shy said, "I'm sorry for the way I acted, I'm not used to being angry? That's a lie, I get angry all the time. I'm more used to hiding it under a mountain. But that's no excuse for being so petty and thin-skinned. I just wanted to grow."

Everyone look nearly teary eyed at us coming out of our shell.

Then I had my say. "And I'm sorry for doing this to Fluttershy to begin with... again."

"Oh will you stop that already 'Cruel!" Dash scolded shattering the mood like a Sonic Rainboom, "That is really getting old! You are not responsible for every bad thing Fluttershy does! You're your own pony, so start acting like it and take responsibilities for your own actions!"

"I am, that's why-"

"That's why nothing! Listen to yourself you attention nut! What Fluttershy does she does on her own! Same with you! The only one here who has something to apologize for is Fluttershy."

Purple said, "I think that a mild case of egocentricism and unresolved guilt on your part is causing you to shoulder the blame for consequences you could have never foreseen."

"So let Fluttershy hear what she needs to," AJ said. "We'll help ya along in a tick Ah promise."

I opened my mouth, then thought better and shut it. I nodded. Twilight began again.

"Now Fluttershy. It's good you want to become more. That's the whole point of living remember? It's nothing to be ashamed of. You're not used to saying you're angry. You just need to learn to channel your anger properly."

"I know... b-but it seems like every time I try to assert myself this happens?" Shy said, tears welling in our eyes. "At the Gala, when I... when I tried to befriend all those little creatures?" I could practically feel the nasty memories coming to the surface. "When I tried to be more assertive... I... I know that was Flutterrage, but she was still a part of me!" And the tears came down, "T-then when I tried to make the world better, I turned into a monster instead! And now... I turned myself into what Discord tried to! 'Cruel was just a baby! I should've known better, I did know better! I'm worse than what Discord wanted 'Cruel to be!"

I'll admit, that hurt to hear.

"Fluttershy," said Pinkie Diane. "That's just silly! Flutterrage couldn't help being what she was anymore than Pinkamena could help being sad all the time, Pinky being a cute little filly, Diane loving mom and dad, or Pinkie Pie being only happy!" Pink stated, producing pictures of her split personalities from nowhere. How did she get pictures of her split personalities?! "Because that's all we were! Her going on a crazy rampage had nothing to do with you having trouble being assertive, it's just who she was! Yeah, it wasn't good to bottle her up in the first place, but I made the same mistake, several times!"

Pinkie then smiled to Shy. "And I know it's really, really, REALLY hard getting used to not having another little you hanging out in your brain to endure all the stuff you don't want to. After we fused back into one Pinkamena Diane Pie, the memories that Pinkamena and Pinky were keeping locked up for Pinkie Pie nearly made me go even crazier than her! You don't want to know what I would've done if Applejack and St-I mean Princess Celestia hadn't given me a reality check!"

I saw Apple shudder. "Trust me, yah all really don't wanna know." Strangely, I saw Purple shudder too, now I was really confused.

"If it weren't for you, Cruel, and Pinkie Pie, I'd have gone Nightmare!" added Dash. "Who knows WHAT I'd have turned into!" I saw Apple shudder again out of the corner of her eye, I think somehow, she DID know.

"Fluttershy, the point is, you're not perfect, only Celestia is," said Rarity, putting a hoof on our shoulder. "I can be... most unladylike sometimes."

"And Ah can be too stubborn for mah own good."

"I hate to admit it, but I can be a big jerk sometimes," Dash admitted.

"And I'm still getting used to functioning without alter egos!" Pink chimed in.

"I'm not a softy or anything... but I'm still learning how to be cruel to be kind, and not just plain cruel," I added, knowing this time putting my problems out there would help somepony else.

"And I can really overreact sometimes," said Purple finally. "We all have parts of us we wish weren't there, but that doesn't make us bad ponies, it means we have flaws to work on. And being there to help each other when those flaws get the better of us is what friends are for," she said, giving Shy a little smile. "It's great you want to become more than you are. Let us help you do it."

Fluttershy broke down crying again and hugged her, group hug followed like B follows A.

Then came my turn.

"Now Fluttercruel, let's get one thing straight, yeah, it was your fault Fluttershy turned into Nightmare Whisper... " Dash said.

But AJ pushed in, "But stop being so stuck-up yer flanks thinkin' it was all yer fault! Fluttershy's just as responsible for takin' it the wrong way! If that's all there was to it, it would have happened buckin' sooner. And it ain't like you were AIMIN' to bring about Nightmare Whisper!"

"We all suffered open wounds from that day, remember darling?" Rarity asked.

"But Shy didn't get broken like all of you! The Old Man made me because he couldn't!"

"And Fluttershy told herself it was just a nightmare," said AJ, giving a serious look. "Ah can't blame yah for actin' how you did at the time. Actually, Ah take it back. Ah can. Yah knew everything Fluttershy did, you thought you were Fluttershy, and were still being nasty even though you could remember being nice felt nice. But that rotten varmint made you that way, so yer no less a victim than all of us!"

Twilight entered lecture mode. "And I've thought about something for a while, and I've realized: it's just not possible that a pony like Fluttershy could be ignorant of nature's vicious side. A wildlife expert like her?! How COULD she be?!"

I had to think a little bit. I consult some of Fluttershy's earlier memories, before I entered the picture. I saw her feeding raw meat to healing predatory animals, even watching some of them hunt other animals she had rehabilitated.

"Yeah... I guess... "

"My theory is this: After she'd seen the world as absolutely cruel, through you, she tried to compensate by seeing the world as absolutely kind and repressed those memories. It's a natural response to trauma, Pinkie did the exact same thing."

'... I guess I really did try to forget it... '

I did my best to mentally nuzzle her. Yes, I did.

"Meanwhile I went insane and brainwashed the town because I was too stubborn to go to therapy. Then helped Trixie escape her personal black hole."

"And I almost went bucking Nightmare because I couldn't handle being sandwiched by conflicting loyalties," Rainbow added.

"And I... I nearly... badly hurt Sweetie Belle with a circlet because I tried to ignore my psychological pain," Rarity added guiltily.

"I ended up making Angry Pie, who tried to gobble me up! All because I was too silly to stand up to how I felt!"

"And Ah... well, it's a long story, but Celestia knows Ah had my own horse apples to work through."

"And we were all so busy healing from our damage we didn't stop to think Fluttershy would need help too."

"And that was my own fault 'Cruel for not talking to any of you, I'm the silly filly who didn't think to ask for help," 'Shy took me by surprise and slip in for the moment before retreating again to let my little session finish.

Purple finished up. "Fluttercruel, you probably helped her by giving her something to focus on!"

That gave me serious food for thought. What WOULD Shy have been like, in a world without little ol' me?

"The point is, you weren't the only one to blame for all this... " said Rainbow Dash, putting a hoof on my shoulder.

"There is plenty of blame to go around... And who you blame for something doesn't change a thing," Purple told me, as if a realization hit her then. "It's fixing the problem that matters. I don't think anyone's tried harder to save Fluttershy than you have."

"Yeah, and you fought your way outta Pony Hell to fix that mess! So stop tearing yourself up!" Rainbow Dash smirked approvingly.

"Trust me; even if you weren't here, Fluttershy still would've gone too far with that assertiveness stuff!" Pinkie Pie added.

"Um... Ah promise yah, that actually makes sense... " said Applejack.

I do my best to let it sink in there. Finally, I looked up. "... I think I understand?"

Cue group hug part deux.

Not long after that, Fluttershy made several meetings with her 'devoted' that she hadn't been right to act as immature as she had, and how she had acted wasn't what she stood for. It didn't have the same feel as the speech at the Gaia Festival, this meeting felt more between her and the ponies who still saw her as Princess Gaia.

She also took the time to apologize to the various people she harmed, but also reminding some of them they could be kinder to other ponies.

When Iron Will came by to collect his fee, 'Shy informed him that, per his 100% satisfaction guarantee, we didn't owe him a thing. Oh we had the money, yes, but 'Shy was standing on principle.

Iron Will proved to be a very mature businessminotaur and accepted our answer. And he actually revised his lessons afterwards after seeing more ponies didn't grasp the concept of using anger as a tool quite right (I could have told him that). I don't think his lessons were wrong: your anger CAN be used for you, but he forgot the part about the anger not using you.

But being me, I had my own ideas at the time.

We both should have seen it coming. Princess Celestia had to have seen it coming!

In our cottage I told her happily, "Hey 'Shy, I think I'm gonna ask Iron Will out."

"No you're not."

I startled at her answer. "Says who?"

"Says me." She said evenly.

"Well I say: 'yes I am.'"

"And I said: 'no you're not!' He's Rainbow Dash on steroids! It would be too weird."

"Well we're pretty weird ourselves."

"Not that weird. And never that weird. And no offense to Spike and Rarity, but I'm really not into-"

"Well maybe I am."

"You're not me."

"Like 'duh.'"

"Don't think you can push me aside to get what you want again."

"Want to see about that?"

And for the first time since the great hamburger argument, we brawled. Our body jostling back and fourth between us with no control. We banged ourself into the walls and furniture. "Coward!" "Bully!" "Prude!" "Deviant!" Our skull rammed into a wall just missing a window. The birds inside squawked in panic. Angel frantically shoved chairs and tables out of our way. "Every time I want something you say no!" "Everything you want has to turn my life upside down!" We flew our back into the ceiling, if our wings hadn't been outspread, we might have broken them. We belly flopped into the hard wood floor. We rolled around like we were on fire. I don't know how long we kept thrashing ourselves. We were absurd.

At some point, all our adrenaline was spent. We just laid on the floor, panting. Everything was sore. It was anypony's guess what we hadn't hurt. Angel and all the rest of 'Shy's animals cuddled around us.

"'Cruel, please tell me, tell me that was a remnant of Discord's magic, tell me it was some remains of Nightmare Whisper," 'Shy said laying on the floor, not getting up. It was painful to even breath deep at that moment, let alone get up.

"Sorry 'Shy, no can do. That fight was all us. Period."

Already it felt like some weird dream we both had. The pain the only thing telling us it was real. Could I, we, be so immature? We were so petty we'd fight just like that? "I was afraid of that. I was being really rude wasn't I?" She whispered.

"So were a bunch of ponies in town. It's nothing too special. Heck, I'd say I was acting like old me. Don't worry about it."

"I still won't allow Iron Will to date us. He's not my type."

"... I know 'Shy. But he is mine."

"I know that too. Maybe we should ask Princess Celestia to split us apart now?"

My own body. My own time. My own life. Not needing to share it. I seriously considered it. For about ten seconds.

"No. I don't want to be without you. I don't want a life without you next to and within me. I don't want you not there. But can't you be a little more open?"

I was honestly scared of what it'd be like without her. I know, I know, but you think conjoined twins wouldn't feel totally alone without their sibling there with them after spending their whole life with them? Multiply that by twenty and that's how I know I'd feel without Shy sharing a body with me. We aren't just twins joined at the heart. Oh who am I bucking kidding? I bet a lot of them might see it as freedom. But it wouldn't be freedom for me or 'Shy.

"'Cruel, I just don't think I'm ready for a relationship like that. It scares me. And if I... if I fell in love with a stallion you didn't like, would you make me not see him?"

I hadn't thought of that. "I guess I'd act just like you. I'm sorry. It's gonna be tricky... finding stallions to date. We'll BOTH have to like him. He'll have to like both of US. If we get separate stallions, that's going to be interesting to explain."

"I'm sorry too."

"I think I just wanted a somepony of my own maybe." 'Maybe' because even I didn't know.

"There's Coffee Swirl."

"He knows you too."

"Not as well as you."

"I'll think about it."

"I will too."

We fixed up the place and Angel gave us some first aid and made us go to the hospital to get checked out for real, just to be safe. Angel might know all of Shy's medicinal tricks, but he's still just a little bunny. Did we tell the truth of what happened? I'll let you figure that part out.

It wasn't long before Iron Will took his assertiveness training back on the road, after one last, free lesson as "use your anger as a tool, don't be its fool" (the guy learns from his mistakes, I'll give him that). Felt like a cheat really that our conflict resolved itself. As cool as I thought he was, I wasn't about to leave Ponyville for him. I can't say I wasn't sad to see him go. I still would've liked one date with him.

"'Cruel?"

"Yes, 'Shy?"

"Next time you want to see somepony, I won't stop you."

"... Thank you. If... when you want to see somepony, I won't stop you either... "

Dear Princess Celestia,
This letter actually contains a lot of lessons we've learned about friendship recently. Learning that your friends make their own choices, and you're responsible for what you do, not what they do. That even friends you couldn't live without will have different needs from you. To learn that being a bully isn't the same as standing up for yourself, and you don't need to treat life as a war to stand up for yourself. And true friends can help you see where the middle road lies.
-Fluttershy and family


And that brings us back here to the hurricane.

Facing the festival crowd after Nightmare Whisper had been something she knew she had to do. A good adrenaline rush could help 'Shy get over her ghouls, but it didn't always work when it came to responsibilities that came with being a pegasus. And Rainbow had to go and turn it into a production. I might love to show myself off no prob, but 'Shy? Rainbow gets into her pretty dresses easier than 'Shy gets on stage.

In spite of what you might think, Rainbow actually cuts 'Shy a lot of slack, but for ditching her responsibilities as a fellow pegasus? Wasn't happening. Not now. Not ever. Especially when Rainbow had her chance to impress a Wonderbolt and to break a world record.

Not ever cut 'Shy any slack about her responsibilities I said? I've been wrong before. In particular when Rainbow got reminded that not all of 'Shy's demons came from the day of chaos. As much as ponies would LOVE to blame my dad for every chipped tooth and foalhood teasing, the universe wasn't that nice and Rainbow Dash had been there to witness Fluttershy's abuse and suffered some of her own when she failed to reproduce the Sonic Rainboom as a filly.

Nearly falling to her own death had left little 'Shy with a fear of heights, resulting in her panic attacks that left her wings glued to her body when she tried to fly, which could spell death for a pegasus in Cloudsdale, and the constant teasing only made it worse. But instead of facing the problem, she had just moved to the ground instead where her talent did the most good and she didn't have to face her fears, and any anger she felt towards the bullies got dumped on little Flutterrage. She'd eventually get over it enough to fly, but her nerves would still make her wings lock up if they got the best of her.

Foals are innocent? You bet they're innocent! How do you think I was so sadistic and vicious when I was first born? Don't mistake innocence with goodness and being too little to know bad from good.

But seeing Rainbow Dash heart broken at 'Shy not being able to help pretty much reversed 'Shy's decision.

''Shy, is this about what you said to Rainbow when Iron Will was in town?'

'No, I promise. I'd do this either way. I can't do this for a weather captain, but I can try for a friend.' She's still the Element of Kindness.

It was a disaster. And I thought 'Shy's dragon phobia was bad, it was nothing compared to this! Being locked away in a mental room made out of jeering eyeballs is going to be in my nightmares. The worse part? Is that I couldn't help her! That wall totally out volumed me! I couldn't believe she was letting some school yard punch-clock bullies still hurt her decades afterwards! But feelings don't run on logic. And tough-love could backfire on 'Shy.

We even tried doing it with me secretly in control, all that made us do was skin our nose as 'Shy's psychosis ripped control from me and we crashed. I was beginning to develop claustrophobia!

The ponies who did do worse just for their princess was the straw that broke her back. 'Shy decided she was being more harm than good at that point. She ran away crying.

"We're going back there."

"No."

"Yes we are."

"No means no! It'll kill me."

Thankfully, Shy had finally given me some ammo to use.

"Remember what my cutie mark is 'Shy? Supporting others! Helping them along when they can't! And 'Shy, you need more support than any pony I know right now. You know you can fly great already. How about you put your popularity to good use for once and INSPIRE them? Like it or not they look up to you. This isn't a mantle you can take off. It's a responsibility. And I know you're mare enough inside and out when you aren't putting yourself down. Besides, they are all ready to help you too." I pointed at 'Shy's collection of animals, some of whom backed up my speech.

So yeah, she trained like a machine, tough girl, I offered to take over, but 'Shy knew this was her problem to deal with not mine and she wasn't going to cheat. I have to admit, bulking up our body felt good, even if I was just the passenger. And where did Angel find all those tiny pony masks?

We never felt so on fire, I had never felt so proud of 'Shy, no evil overlords or monsters here, this was her own responsibility to her fellow ponies she was fighting for! I didn't realize how out of shape we were (seriously, how do you lose a tug of war match to butterflies?! Even if one of them is Our Butterfly!), but she kept going because she knew they were counting on her!

It was like Princess Celestia herself was at our side!

She built up our body, nothing would stop her, they were in awe of us at the test track and...

We still ended up with a below average wing score of 3.0. It was a lot better than the first run, but still way below normal.

'More harm than good. More harm than good,' echoed in her head, as she chose that all she'd do is damage things. She didn't seem to notice that her managing to increase her wing power by about six times its original amount had inspired some of her struggling 'subjects', or that was what Twilight told us later after 'Shy ran off crying. Broken that all her effort had been thrown back in her face. And it made the memories only laugh harder at her.

RD tried to tell her how huge her improvement was but, "How'd you like it if everyone was flying at ten and you at three-?!"

And that sent RD's pep talk into limbo.

I was half expecting the mean Griffin Gilda to show up and rub it in her face things were going so bad for my 'mother.' Funny how our roles switch around. No, not funny at all.

But what really did more harm than good actually was Rainbow Dash not giving ponies sick leave and letting them infect each other. Turns out those low flight scores didn't have to do with 'Shy after all.

We found all this out during our regular visit to the hospital the day of the tornado. We had no intention at first to go to the hurricane, 'Shy figured we'd do more good visiting the hospital. Nurse Redheart seemed to know what we did even if she never said so. She welcomed us loyally each time. When we ran into eight pegasi all in bed with the feather flu including Thunderlane, 'Shy's desire to pitch in and help those in need overrode her self-deprecation as par for the course. You go filly.

By the time we got to the reservoir, the tornado had failed once already according to Twilight there with Spike. And Rainbow and the rest of her crew were willing to try again even if it killed them. Forget Earth Ponies, pegasi were the ones who had 'never surrender to a challenge' hardwired into our cultural identity and double that with Rainbow Dash.

That Wonderbolt Spitfire was there, but Twilight said she had to stay back to act as a rescue flyer if worse came to worst.

So yeah, here we were.

'Shy got ready to take off to help, but--

The room, the prison cell formed again. It was like it was getting smaller, like it wanted to crush me. The room wanted to smoother the life out of me! 'Shy was paralyzed, the ghosts laughing at her. They chanted "Fluttershy! Fluttershy! Fluttershy can hardly fly!" over and over. It was so loud our ears were going to burst!

"I won't make a difference! If I make any difference I'll just make things worse! And again! And again! AND AGAIN!"

Twilight shouted over them all, "This isn't about you! It's about everyone! You want it to be about you? FINE! But what's going to hurt more?! That you tried to help them and failed? Or that you didn't try at all?"

"Not if I make things worse!"

"You don't know that unless you try! This isn't about forcing something on somepony! So stop it please! They need you! Rainbow needs you! Equestria needs you! And you need this! You wanted your chance to grow? Now's your chance!"

A giant yellow and pink dragon ripped the room to shreds. 'Shy flew. I gave every drop of strength I had to keep up. And she flew, oh did she fly! And I think seeing their Princess take flight with them gave some of her followers the incentive to try harder too. Our wings were burning but we didn't care! The wind howled and we roared back! We tore a circle in the sky! Fly! Fly! Fly! Gotta fly! Nothing else mattered! Gotta fly! Fly! Fly! Fly! Gotta fly! Huh? Cloud? We did it? 'SHY DID IT!

And Spitfire, I didn't get the expression in her eyes. She seemed to be smiling, almost wistfully at us.

"Nice going Dash," She said smiling, like RD was a personal friend, "You might not have set a new record, but that was some guts you showed."

"Thanks Spitfire," She said in kind, not really melting in front of her like I thought she would in front of a 'Bolt. "But if you wanna talk guts, then you've gotta give it to my number one flyer, Fluttershy!"

"Fluttershy! Fluttershy! Fluttershy can really fly!"

And they cheered her, her. Heck, I joined them mentally. The girl deserved it!

They didn't call her Princess Gaia, they called her Fluttershy! Not their Mother Princess! Not Nightmare Whisper! Fluttershy the pegasus!

You have no idea how much that helped her, you have no idea how much that healed her, you have no idea how many weights that took off her. How much it freed her! She was loved for herself.

And 'Shy just took it all in, the glory, the cheers, this was something she did for everyone. She enjoyed the little inopportune parade they did for her more than she could ever have enjoyed the Gaia Festival, she felt as light as air.

Dear Princess Celestia... And you know the rest! Ha-ha!

'Shy?'

'Yes, Cruel?'

'Good job!'

'Thanks! Fluttershy is back and better than ever!'

And she flew, for the first time in her entire life, 'Shy flew for fun.
She was dancing on air. Dancing on air with glee.
She was celebrating them seeing just her.
Doing cartwheels in the air, her hopes realized.
From all the anticipating, it was sure a big surprise!
She was floating lighter than a cloud.
This was no gloating, she was laughing right out loud!
It sent her spirits flying, not one eye was crying.
It was like a dream come true, this I can say so too!
It was an answer to her every prayer.
Time would tell if she came through.
And just look at what happens when I do!
Prancing, dancing on air!

++++

Oh, huh?! We're back? Didn't think we'd have another story in here! Hope it works out better than the last episode adaptation we did! I think this one was a lot different though, since we weren't bound to the heart world for it! You really need to give Fluttershy her own interview, I don't think she's ever had one yet and the series is really near the conclusion now. Well, not really but from a narrative perspective. I wonder how many got that song tribute. Too meta? Okay, sorry I promise to scale it back from now on.

Like I was saying at the beginning, it took a lot of thinking for me to decide what to do differently if anything. I mean, what if by me trying to do everything better, I just make things go worse? But if I tried to make everything go the same as they did in the heart world, I might make trouble anyway! So I had to be really, extra careful! I only had one shot, and I couldn't count on this becoming one of those groundhog day loop thingies! Since AJ knew about this a little bit, I even asked her, she said she can't decide for me and it's something I need to decide on my own, since it's my story and not hers.

Finally I decided to still invite everypony with me to Canterlot and give my big speech about how delicious a cake the MMMM was anyway. AJ's family sure picks up her slack a lot when she's out of town.

I installed several pegasi and unicorn proof defenses around the MMMM this time and I knew when they were going to strike, I'm still not trusted with coffee, so I just took a nap earlier to be wide awake when they showed up. In the dark of night I heard two sets of hoof steps coming towards the car. But they stopped at the door for a few minutes and then turned back... Had we all changed that much? Dashie, Fluttershy... I wish you knew the things I do so I could tell you how proud I am.

Then right on clockwork, the drapes for the car came down. Except this time I shouted out and snapped on a glow stick I brought along this time and dive tackled for the back side of the cake screaming, "RARITY!"

"Pinkie!" Exclaimed the fashion queen on the carpet with me on top. "What-how-why-did you see the way the thief went?"

"I'm looking at her," I said darkly. I really thought they'd all changed enough that this wouldn't happen.

Rarity made a small, nervous laugh. "Now Pinkie, don't go back sliding and start acting weird again. Now would I-"

I instantly launched into my speech about how perfect and divine the Cakes' creation was, and watched her drool. "Rarity, those drapes could have only gone down with unicorn magic, and the fact I didn't see the sparkle means it had to have come from a unicorn who'd know how to hide it, a unicorn who's good at images, in other words illusions, in other words, appearance, in other words, fashion."

Rarity fidgeted, her irises' looking small. "Now now Pinkie, let's-let's not blindly jump to conclusions, there could be a hundred different explanations, and-"

I gnashed my teeth, "Rarity please stop. Please Rarity, just stop. You don't need to hurt me or yourself by lying." I considered bringing out my trump card that I knew about her false eyelashes, but let it go. That 'lie' had nothing to do with this. "Donut Joe is a baker, not an illusionist, and Twilight is the only other unicorn on this train right now who knows about the cake, and I only heard one set of hoof steps. And Twilight could have just teleported a piece of the cake away. I get it. I shouldn't have baited you or anypony. But Rarity, how Rarity," I felt sick inside contradicting my Element, but this thorn had to come out. I intentionally hurt a friend's feelings. "How could you be this greedy?"

"Greedy!" Rarity, still with me holding her down with my heavier weight and natural Earth Pony strength, looked rightfully scandalized, "How dare you! Pinkie! I was only going to take a little bite!" Then she heard herself, I felt her hooves try to go to her mouth, but I was holding them down with all my might. "Oops."

I slowly and gently got off her. "Rarity." I looked sadly at her, I didn't feel angry at her for nearly destroying a lifetime achievement of my foster family and for nearly crushing the trust I had so painstakingly gained from the ponies I loved as a second pair of parents. "Rarity what you did wasn't the least bit-"

"If you say it wasn't 'generous' we're done. As much as I wish it wasn't, so I'm not perfect. I'm not a robot programmed to always be generous."

I smiled wistfully at her in the dark, both of us illuminated by my glow stick like we were ghosts, heh, in a way we were. I sang,

"I always plan to be purely perfect,
time and again it's my goal.
Got to admit I'm not always perfect,
Please, don't you dare tell a soul."

For a moment I saw glint of something in Rarity's eyes, like she remembered the song from far away. Then she just shook her head. "Pinkie, that song. That wasn't yours was it?" She asked confused.

I so badly wanted to tell her about the little rare Rainbow Princess who never existed. But that wasn't here nor there. I'm done going in random directions.

"No, it was sung by a friend of mine who helped teach me not to take everything seriously and what to take seriously, even if I haven't thought of her in a while. But Rarity, what you did wasn't what a friend does. You knew how much this would hurt the Cakes, you knew how much this was going to hurt me. So why?"

"You just made it sound so delicious. It's like you have this magic about you when you describe treats."

"I guess I do." I was hurting inside so bad she'd still do this, even without the script there we were still doing small and selfish things. But one thing I had to get used to was dealing with it myself when that happened. "And Rarity, this is also what a friend does: I forgive you."

"What?"

"I forgive you. There's no harm done, and no one needs to know. But Rarity, there's something you need to hear," I said sadly. "And you're not going to like it, not one bit."

Rarity took on the most mature stature she could in the darkness and said simply, "I'm ready."

"Rarity. This hurts for me to say. But, there's always been a little greedy Rarity on your shoulder. Discord didn't make you greedy, he made it the queen of you. We're all proud of you for listening more to the little generous Rarity on your other shoulder but you do listen to her, and not just once or twice."

Rarity shuddered but said nothing. I wished 'Ruelly was here, this was her thing. But she wasn't there, I was on my own.

"But Rarity, that greedy Rarity, she's not going to lose every fight. And what she's going to tell you is always going to sound like a good idea at the time. Just like the stubborn AJ inside AJ. The anti-social Twilight inside Twilight. The jerk Rainbow inside Rainbow. The lying Trixie inside Trixie. The Flutters inside Fluttershy and Fluttercruel too. But that's what we're all here for. We're here to help each other and to recognize them.

"Er, I'm not used to giving these kinds of speeches, that's Twilight's department. But Rarity. The only way you can really guard against that greedy Rarity? It's to know she's there, and always will be, no matter how tiny she gets. Even when Fluttershy took all of the bad feelings away and locked them up, they didn't go away. Just like Lonely Pinkie and Angry Pinkie will always be a part of me. I'm not ashamed to be sad anymore, and Fluttershy's not ashamed to be angry anymore. And you don't have to be ashamed of what you feel."

Rarity lowered her head so low it touched the carpet.

"And the darkness within shall make the inner light shine brighter." Rarity said as if she was quoting somepony.

Is it in character for us to open up to each other like this? To trust each other like this? To just bare our souls to each other without hesitation? To forgive? Yes. It's who we are, it's what we are, this friendship between all of us, like the ingredients in a pastry, we're part of a whole, even if some of us aren't there at the time. This pure, unconditional trust we have for each other, it's not just part of the puzzle, I think it is the puzzle. Huh? Why are you smiling like that?

"And Rarity, you really don't need to be ashamed of feelings that contradict your Element. You said so yourself, we're not robots, we don't just do what our Elements want. But if you just ignore that Rarity, she'll just get bigger. If we cut off little parts of ourselves to take those feelings for us, we end up breaking apart until we're an empty storm inside. They're a part of us, and that's all there is to it."

"I understand darling, I know. Thank you... thank you for reminding me and--" I saw it in her eyes, for a moment she was going to ask if she could take a bite after all. But then just said, "And thank you for stopping me, and good night."

Before you ask, yes, Rarity did charm Spike into sending a 'private' friendship lesson report to Princess Celestia.

The next morning I lured the three chefs into the car, and 'repeated' my performance of describing their works of culinary art just as the tunnel hit and they got gobbled.

Huh? Why? Like duh! So the three of them could still become friends! They were bitter rivals to each other and me! I don't know if this counted as cheating or not to help the Cakes win, but I wasn't about to let a friendship like this not happen!

"Pink piggy! She ate them!"

What I HADN'T expected was for all the suspicion to turn on me! My cake was the one thing not touched now! I suddenly felt very cornered. Now Twilight had to prove my innocence!

Having a pony lie detector isn't as big a game breaker when mythical truth vision doesn't stand up among a bunch of strangers. Princess Celestia might have been able to know AJ was right when I said I wasn't the big-eater, but by then the contest would be over and I'd have failed my second parents.

"Pinkie, do you think, you might have done it on reflex? Without thinking about it?" Twilight asked gently.

"I am not a pig Twilight!"

Twilight was startled at my voice.

Then Rarity came to my defense zipping between us, "Now darlings! Let's not jump to conclusions on circumstantial evidence. There's more than one person in this car after all."

For second I was scared Rarity was going to take the blame 'for me.' Then Twilight said. "You're right. Let's solve this mystery." Turns out Twilight had a sherlock hat in storage too! Doesn't work without the bubble pipe in my humble opinion. So I just handed her mine for effect.

I made sure to let things take their course. It felt good though that I didn't have to pretend to be old me, and I let Twilight play Sherlock, taking in all the details. She even found some clues I didn't, like Mulia's Chocolate Mousse Moose had beak marks instead of teeth marks.

Smarty pants Twilight was able to pin who ate what and they broke in confession about my charming geass like descriptions of their master pieces. Close call.

So yes I still suggested they pool their efforts, and lent a helping hoof in assembling it. They were shocked at that considering they had accused me of sabotaging their works but I Pinkie Pie Swore I wasn't trying to 'pay them back.' Maybe it counted as helping the enemy for the Cakes, but considering what I had just done so the three of them could become friends I felt I owed it to them. Forging a friendship between the three of them meant a lot more to me than any prize could. Besides, I knew from the script that even if they won first, we'd at least win second or so, and the Cakes would be alright with that. They weren't stubborn like Applejack was.

Oh? Who won first place with the MMMM still whole and the combination work missing a piece? (Not that they knew that.) Oh come on, you don't expect me to tell you everything! Let the Shadows-Who-Watch have to guess a little bit! Just know I didn't eat the whole thing in one bite this time, I made sure everypony got a nice big slice. Especially three who'd wanted it the most.

Dear Princess Celestia,

Today I learned that even when you know what you're talking about, and you take the time to plan, things can still go wrong. Being honest with new friends can't always be an option until they know the real you first. But you should be ready to accept when misunderstandings happen, because ponies aren't puppets, and can always surprise you.

Your friend in this world and the one before, Pinkie Diane.

I just want to take a minute to say that it's been a fun ride for me and I hope it's been a fun ride for you guys too. I'm sorry that things aren't done yet like the were supposed to be months ago, I really really am. But, you'll keep coming back even after the canon stuff is done right? You will? Thank you guys! Pinkie hug! I'm sure we'll have lots of new adventures, even if they're not by the original author, I mean just look at the fan works list already!

Please come again. We still have plenty more to do. I'm sorry for this going on for so long. Oh stop apologizing for that? Okay, I... I think I'll try. Good luck.

-Fin