• Published 12th Feb 2021
  • 599 Views, 37 Comments

When the Stars Sleep - Sea Gnash



Have you ever wondered what happens when the sun sets, but the moon doesn't rise to take its place?

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4. Company

~*~ Chapter 4 ~*~

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~*~ Company ~*~

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Fluttershy gasped as she suddenly awoke. Her head felt strange and light, like she had been woken up after just entering deep sleep. She had to force herself to sit up just to keep herself from falling back asleep, and it was only then that she was able to see that she was in her bed.

She scanned her eyes over the room, and she was indeed laying in her own bed. The lack of sounds coming from her animal friends on the other side of the door or outside the window hadn't gone unnoticed, but it appeared to still be rather early and they were all probably still asleep. Asleep like she probably should have been.

“That was such a strange dream,” Fluttershy muttered to herself. It had been some time since she had a nightmare that vivid.

A sudden rapping at her window made Fluttershy jump. Before she could check to see what was causing the noise, the window slid open and the head of Rainbow Dash leaned inside. She could only sigh in relief from seeing a friendly face after such unsettling images her mind had decided to show her as she slept.

“Awesome, you're awake!” chimed Rainbow Dash. “Rarity said she wants you to help her with a new dress she's working on. I stopped paying attention halfway through, but I think she just wants to use you as a model or something.”

Fluttershy blinked. “Rarity usually comes to visit me on her own when she needs me. Why are you here? Uhm, no offense, I mean.”

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes in a rather exaggerated manner before holding her foreleg to her head in dramatic fashion. “I'm simply just too busy to trot all the way across town myself!”

Fluttershy could only giggle at the display. It wasn't the best impression she had heard in her life, but she understood what Rainbow Dash was going for.

Once calm, she slipped from her bed and gave her head a little nod. “Okay, I'll go. Thank you for telling me, Rainbow Dash. I would hate to disappoint Rarity by not showing up when she needs me.”

“Don't mention it. I'll see you when you come down!”

Fluttershy turned toward the window again, but she only caught sight of it shutting closed before she could give a response. She stared for a few moments, but turned away from the window to instead canter to her little vanity and fix her mane to look presentable. The reflection that came back to her looked ragged. Her mane looked like it hadn't been combed in days and she could see the slightest hint of bags under her eyes. It really must have been a rough night of sleep for her.

By the time she stepped out of her room, she felt much more presentable, even if she still held those little rings under her eyes. But there was only so much she could do for that. Though hopefully a short nap after helping Rarity would help, they always helped Angel whenever he was feeling grumpy.

As she reached the bottom of the stairs, she suddenly felt the need to keep her hoofsteps quiet. Despite the fact the sun was already in the sky, they all remained asleep. Even if it was early, the little birdies should have at least woken up by then.

Despite the urges she felt to check on them, it would feel terrible to wake one of them up before they were ready. She was already feeling what they felt like first hoof and wouldn't wish it onto any of them. Instead, she carefully made her way to the front door and slipped outside.

A little squeak of surprise left Fluttershy once the door was closed and she turned around to spot the face of Rainbow Dash just a few inches away from her. She held a hoof to her own chest to let out a calming breath.

Rainbow Dash chuckled and spread her wings to hover above the ground. “Heh, sorry. Didn't mean to scare ya. Come on, let's go.”

Fluttershy frowned and turned her head just enough to hide a good portion of her face behind her mane. “I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be scared. I'm just feeling a little jumpy this morning.”

“And that's any different to any other morning?” teased Rainbow Dash.

Fluttershy blushed, but began trotting down the simple pathway after more urging from Rainbow Dash. “I just had a nightmare last night and I can't get it out of my head. At least, I think it was a nightmare.”

Rainbow Dash waved a dismissive hoof. “Is that all you're worried about? It can't hurt you now that you're awake, right? It'll be fine.”

Fluttershy didn't respond. Even if that dream had scared her, something in the back of her mind felt like it didn't want her to forget about it. Twilight had told her that dreams are sometimes your subconscious trying to tell you something. She had been having a few stressful days, so maybe her mind was just trying to tell her to take things more slowly?

Twilight. For some reason, when she thought about her friend's name, it almost felt like something wanted to fight its way back to the front of her mind. The path from her home to Carousel Boutique took them right past Twilight's library. Maybe it would be okay to stop by and see if Twilight was awake?

Upon entering Ponyville proper, it felt nearly just as quiet as her cottage. A few ponies milled about here and there, but it wasn't anything like it usually was. Even just after sunrise, there were at least weather ponies flying all over to get things prepared for the coming day.

Rainbow Dash had been keeping quiet ever since Fluttershy chose not to reply to her words. That was, until her wandering eyes glanced towards the Golden Oaks Library.

“Hey! We should pick up the pace, don't you think? You know how annoying Rarity gets when you keep her waiting!” Rainbow Dash urged, slipping herself between Fluttershy and the library.

Fluttershy shrank down and away from her friend. Something about Rainbow Dash felt a little more overbearing than usual that morning, but she couldn't put her hoof on it. Despite her instincts telling her to stay quiet and just do what was wanted of her, that feeling in the back of her mind only pushed back even harder. She needed to see Twilight.

“Uhm, Rainbow Dash? I think Rarity will be okay for a few more minutes. I think I want to talk to Twilight about the dream I had last night.” Fluttershy tried to peek under Rainbow Dash to peek at the tree-house.

Rainbow Dash dropped down onto her hooves to block Fluttershy's view again. “You can visit her after. Just keep going!”

Fluttershy took a couple steps back to give herself that little bit of space. “Rainbow?”

Rainbow Dash pushed in closer, making Fluttershy step back again until she felt her flank press against the fence surrounding a nearby home. “You don't want to let her down, do you?”

“Rainbow, you're scaring me.” Fluttershy shrank down, trying her best to hide behind her mane, though she felt little comfort this time.

Rainbow Dash pressed her nose up against Fluttershy's, eyes much more angry than they had been before. “I thought you wanted to help Rarity! You wouldn't lie to me, right?”

Fluttershy felt something within her slip under the pressure of Rainbow Dash bearing down on her. She managed to find an opening and she pushed herself out from between the fence and her friend.

Her break for the library ended as quickly as it started when she felt a sudden, sharp pain come from her scalp. Rainbow Dash had grabbed onto her mane with both hooves and used it to force her back, eliciting a small squeak of pain from Fluttershy.

“Where do you think you're going?!” Rainbow Dash growled as she used the mass of pink hair to pull Fluttershy back towards her.

Fluttershy didn't have any courage in her to respond, it taking all of her energy to just keep her neck from bending back too far. She tried to dig her hooves into the dirt in some vain attempt at freeing herself, but she always knew how much weaker she was than somepony like Rainbow Dash.

Another small scream came from Fluttershy when what resistance she did have failed and she felt her hooves slip out from under her. A powerful yank downward forced her to the ground at an angle that knocked some of the air out of her lungs, forcing her to struggle to regain it. Her body burned and her legs wouldn't listen when she tried to stand back up again.

Rainbow Dash tossed a clump of pale pink hair to the side as she loomed over Fluttershy. “I was going to get you to Rarity's place so you couldn't run away, but I guess I can't risk it now. She'll understand.”

A blue foreleg pressed down onto Fluttershy's throat with Rainbow Dash's full weight behind it. She did her best to push back against it, but there was little she could do against such an athletic pony. Her back legs kicked and scraped at the ground under her as she struggled for breath.

“Why?” Fluttershy struggled to get even that single word out, but the only response was even more pressure on her throat. Even if she wanted to ask again, all she could get out were weak gags and struggles for air.

“Fluttershy!”

Fluttershy's ear twitched in the direction of the voice she could barely make out over the beating of her own heart. Her hind legs slowly stopped her kicking as her strength slowly began to drain away from her.

She had to focus what remaining strength she had on fighting against the weight crushing the life out of her. She managed to choke out a response before more gagging gasps took over. “Twi – Twilight? Please, help!”

“Fluttershy, I'm coming!”

The second call of her name came in clearer than the first. That time, it was accompanied by what appeared to be a loud banging sound followed by a crash.

* * *

Twilight jumped awake from the sound of a smash that rang out from the second floor of her parents' home. Sitting up, she realized she was still laying on the rug she had allowed herself to collapse onto. Though, she now had a soft blanket draped over her.

Next to her on the table sat a plate of slightly browned apple slices that must have been sitting there for at least a couple hours. Two other plates next to that one were completely cleaned of whatever meals they had been carrying. Across from the table, Spike slept on the couch, curled up on one of her mother's many throw pillows.

It took only a few moments for her to realize Fluttershy wasn't nearby and her heart sank. “Spike. Spike! Wake up!”

Spike groaned in complaint, but opened up one eye to look in her direction despite that. “What is it? I need my beauty sleep if I'm going to make it to the castle.”

“Where's Fluttershy?” Twilight didn't have the nerves to dance do her usual dance with Spike when he was complaining. She hoped Fluttershy hadn't heard anypony talking to her like she still swore she had.

Spike turned over and settled back in again. “Oh, she was having trouble getting to sleep on the couch, so I said she could sleep in your room.”

Twilight immediately felt most of her worry lift away. Fluttershy was still inside, and the second floor always felt safer than the first for obvious reasons. She rose to her hooves once what had woken her up came back to her. “Maybe it'll be good to check on her, though.”

No response came from Spike, and Twilight gently laid her blanket over him with her magic. She turned back towards the table and picked up one of the apple slices to eat in one bite while heading up the stairs.

Luckily, the door to her bedroom sat right at the top of the stairs. She tried the handle, only to find it wouldn't budge despite the door not having an actual lock on it. Could Fluttershy have gotten so scared that she barricaded herself inside? She did look the most worse for ware out of the three of them by the time they made it to the home.

“Fluttershy?” Twilight gave a gentle knock on the door. She did always respond well to soft voices, so maybe she could help her calm down.

When no response came back, Twilight placed her ear against the door to listen. Nothing. Growing worried, she lowered her head down to the floor to peek under the little space between the door and the carpet and her heart jumped into her throat.

The room didn't have any light inside and all she could see was a wall of pitch black. Fluttershy had been just fine sleeping in the light back at the library in Ponyville. She wouldn't have turned it off on her own, would she?

“Fluttershy? Are you in there?” Twilight asked again, putting a little more force into her knocks. When still no reply came, she leaned in to listen once more.

She closed her eyes when she thought she heard something just barely able to come through. It was faint and she couldn't make out exactly what it was, but something was on the other side of the door. The dark's odd ability to muffle sound had only been a strange sensation in the back of her mind up until that point, but now it might be blocking out something important.

Twilight flared her magic to life and gripped the door handle as strongly as she could. Despite her best efforts and the sweat slowly forming on her forehead, it wouldn't budge. Looks like she would have to get in there the hard way. And make a mental note to apologize to her parents whenever things were back to normal.

She took a few steps back and galloped at the door at her full speed. She had to twist her front slightly to get her shoulder out front and ram herself into the door. She heard the sound of straining wood, but the door remained firmly in place despite her now-throbbing shoulder.

“Fluttershy! Hang on, I'll get you out of there!” Twilight called into the room before backing up. She repeated her motions, much to the displeasure of her shoulder that had a deeper purple patch on the fur revealing the bruise forming underneath.

She had to heave to catch her breath. If there was one thing she hadn't studied for, it was the proper technique for breaking down a door with your whole body. What she did know, though, was that there wasn't any time for slowing down. She didn't know what was happening inside the room, but with all the noise she was making, Fluttershy would have opened it on her own by now if she could.

Twilight took in one deep breath to focus her mind. “Fluttershy, I'm coming!”

She backed up one last time and charged the door with all the strength her legs could muster. With a powerful leap, her shoulder once again collided with the door. Despite the architecture's best efforts to remain strong, she felt herself falling to the floor with a portion of the door that snapped from the hinges.

With light from the hallway flooding into the room, Twilight could now spot the lamp on the opposite side had its shade torn off and light bulb shattered. She ignored that and put her entire focus onto the bed as she stood up. She could have sworn she saw a vaguely familiar shape of a pony standing over a lump in the blankets for just a moment when the shadows receded.

With a swift flick of her magic, Twilight threw the blankets off the bed to spot Fluttershy laying in a tightly curled ball of pink and yellow. She reached out a hoof towards her friend, but pulled it back in surprise when Fluttershy suddenly sat up with a heavy gasp as if she had just come up from being trapped under water.

Fluttershy held onto her throat with both of her hooves as she coughed and struggled for breath. She took short, quick breaths as if her body was slowly adjusting to being able to breathe again. It was only when Fluttershy appeared calm enough that Twilight felt comfortable reaching out for her again.

“Fluttershy? Are you okay? What happened?” Twilight had many more questions to ask, but the condition of her friend meant much more to her in that moment.

Fluttershy turned her wide scared eyes towards Twilight once the words caught her attention. She didn't respond and instead threw herself at Twilight to wrap her hooves around her and cling to her like a scared filly to their stuffed animal.

Twilight could feel Fluttershy's entire body trembling as she held onto her. She wasn't ever the best at comforting others in moments like those, that was ironically something Fluttershy was better suited for, but she wanted to do what she could. She simply held Fluttershy close to her and listened to the little sobs coming from the place in her neck Fluttershy had buried her face.

The two sat there in the safety of the light beam filtering through the doorway until the sound of little footsteps hurrying up the stairs hit Twilight's ears. She continued holding Fluttershy, even as Spike peered around the corner.

“What in the world is going on up here?! I thought you were just going to check on her, not demolish the place!” Spike complained and kicked a little shard of wood on the floor. He only stopped when he turned his eyes towards them. “What happened?”

Twilight clutched Fluttershy tighter while giving Spike a dark stare. “We need to get out of here. Right now.”