• Published 16th Nov 2012
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Address Unknown - remedy



Derpy's suffered scorn for a mold she doesn't fit. Will a chance meeting change her life for the better?

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16. Revelations

Chapter 16 – Revelations

Rainbow Dash cantered through Ponyville in grim silence, focused on ignoring the pony that followed behind her, holding the tip of the multicolored tail of the weatherpony in her teeth to guide her. Holding the impromptu tether at least gave Derpy an excuse to not have to talk, and Rainbow Dash seemed to not mind the quiet.

Rainbow slowed her speed, looking above to judge their location. She had never been to Derpy’s house before, and taking the blinded mare into flight would be more difficult than merely having her trail on the ground. Derpy had tried a short flight after leaving the library, and flying sightless was close to impossible – she had immediately begun weaving and spinning, her sense of direction completely disrupted after leaving the ground.

The pair had decided to walk until they were as close to Derpy’s house as they could get to minimize the time spent in the air looking, and then Rainbow Dash would have to literally carry Derpy up to her home. The weight of another pony did not bother Rainbow Dash; she had easily carried four ponies at the ‘Best Young Fliers’ competition. She didn’t want to be Derpy’s personal transport all day.

Her pace went from slow to fully stopped, and she turned to the mare behind her.

“Hey, Derpy, what was your address again?”

“31969 Cirrus Minor,” Derpy replied. She hesitated for a moment before adding, “Thank you for taking me home, Rainbow Dash. I’m sorry that I have to be a burden on you today.”

Dejection and guilt were evident in Derpy’s voice, and the tone was so melancholy that for an instant Rainbow felt sorry for her. The feeling was fleeting, though, and the thought of Twilight’s panic earlier steeled her nerves back to apathy.

At any rate, her anger had abated to indifference after the time they had spent in silence. Actively staying angry required too much thought, so Rainbow just let her mind wander, and her grudge against Derpy had lessened, though only slightly.

“Save your apologies for later,” Rainbow Dash said flatly. “I think we’re close to where your house is, but I’m still probably gonna have to spend some time looking. I’m rarely out by the housing district on this side of Ponyville.” She considered their position again before deciding that they might as well take to the air. “Okay, climb on my back and I’ll fly us up.”

Derpy clumsily got onto Rainbow’s back, accidentally kicking her a few times in the process and eliciting a growl from her unwilling guide.

“Watch it back there, featherbrain!” she snarled. “Sitting at your place all day is painful enough as it is, without having you give me bruises, too.”

Rainbow heard a squeak, followed by a hasty, yet meek, “I’m sorry, Rainbow Dash. I didn’t mean to,” followed by a few sniffles. Rainbow replayed the last few seconds in her mind, and her eyes widened as she realized how harsh she had sounded, not to mention the fact she had just told Derpy, in no uncertain terms, that spending the day with her was an agonizing experience.

It also occurred to her that, had she not previously known Derpy was behind her, she would have easily mistaken the hushed, mild apology as coming from Fluttershy. She winced at the thought of how Fluttershy would have been hurt by the comment she had just made, and that understanding twisted her emotions painfully. Even if she disliked Derpy, it was no reason to be cruel to her.

She looked over her shoulder to see Derpy sitting on her back, trying her hardest to keep her balance without having to grab at Rainbow Dash. Adding to her guilt, Rainbow saw her attempting to quietly hold back tears all the while. The sight wrenched her gut. She had not simply been cruel; she had been downright malicious.

Rainbow’s tone softened slightly.

“Derpy, I’m sorry. I didn’t really mean it like that. Just, try to be careful, okay?” Her voice cracked as she spoke, still picturing Fluttershy in her mind.

Derpy sniffed a little and calmed down, shocked by the immediate change in Rainbow Dash’s voice. She wondered what might have triggered it, and wished more than ever that she could have seen what had made the mare so much softer. She didn’t get to enjoy the empathy for long.

Rainbow Dash shook the vision out of her head, just glad that Derpy wasn’t crying any more, and her voice turned steely again.

“Okay, I’m taking us up, and I’ll keep it slow so you won’t need to worry about slipping off. Hold on tight, but not too tight. I don’t want you choking me and making me blackout halfway up.”

Derpy leaned forward carefully and tentatively wrapped her hooves around Rainbow Dash’s neck. She made sure to keep her grip a little loose, fearful of what reaction she would get from her unwilling helper if she held on too hard. She felt the mare shift beneath her, crouching her hindquarters down as she readied to push off from the ground.

The feeling made her slightly nauseous. She clamped her eyes shut instinctively and tried to brace herself for the plunge her stomach would take when Rainbow Dash took flight. Getting airsick on Rainbow would be certain doom for her, either by being bucked off in midair or by the thrashing she’d receive on landing. Neither sounded pleasant.

Thankfully Rainbow Dash’s mastery of flight meant in addition to being agile and fast, she could be graceful and gentle when she wanted to, though those times were few and far between. All Derpy could feel after Rainbow’s initial shift in posture was a faint push, and they were airborne.

Derpy had never imagined Rainbow Dash would intentionally travel slowly. She knew she was not well liked by Rainbow, but she was extremely grateful that Rainbow was showing her consideration regardless. The flight upward was smooth, and Derpy couldn’t even tell how high they had climbed until Rainbow Dash banked her path toward the left and shifted to a descent. She felt Rainbow Dash stop to hover for a few moments, apparently checking the address.

“Alright, I guess this is your place.” Rainbow said shortly, settling down lightly on the wispy landing step outside the house. “It doesn’t look like too bad of a place,” she remarked. Her voice still sounded a bit cold, but Derpy took the statement to be as good of a compliment as she would get.

“Thanks. It’s not really big or impressive, but it’s home.” Truthfully, that was an understatement. Derpy’s house was small compared to nearly all the other homes in the area; mailponies didn’t receive the best pay to begin with, and her previous employers in Cloudsdale had seemed to look for reasons to deduct bits from her paycheck.

In hindsight, she thought it was pretty obvious that they were actually trying to make her life miserable, and for the most part they had succeeded. The biggest mistake they had made in their quest to torment her was firing her, and the thought that they had unwittingly given her the happiest opportunities of her life brought a small smile to her face.

She heard somepony impatiently clearing her throat, and she snapped back to the present, realizing that she was still clinging to Rainbow Dash outside her house. She carefully slipped off Rainbow’s back onto the cloud, embarrassed at drifting off into a daydream while sitting on a pony that clearly didn’t care much for her to begin with.

“Sorry about that,” she muttered softly. “I kinda drifted off there for a minute.”

“So I noticed,” Rainbow replied in a sardonic voice. “What were you smirking at, anyway?”

Derpy fidgeted at being put on the spot like that – it had never occurred to her that Rainbow Dash might have been looking at her while she sat there, lost in her thoughts.

“Nothing, really,” she sheepishly answered. “I was just thinking about how the Cloudsdale mail team fired me a little while ago.”

“Huh?” Rainbow Dash was truly confused now. “Why in Equestria would getting fired make you smile?” She sat down on the doorstep, intrigued enough at Derpy’s odd behavior that she forgot about her impatience to go inside the house.

Now Derpy was truly embarrassed; her reasoning was complicated and personal, but she knew if she brushed the pegasus off she’d be infinitely worse off in her attempt to extend her friendship to Rainbow Dash.

She rubbed the back of her head with a hoof in discomfort, but figured she had nothing to lose by talking about it. She certainly couldn’t get Rainbow to dislike her much more than she already did.

“Well, when they fired me, they sent me to Ponyville. That’s when I got to meet Twilight, and, well, I guess that kinda tells it all.” She blushed further. “I would have never found somepony to love if I was still stuck with them.”

An awkward silence fell after Derpy’s admission, and Rainbow Dash was glad that Derpy couldn’t see her. She had been momentarily stunned at Derpy’s positive outlook at even the most negative events, and she couldn’t find any words to appropriately explain it. The absence of her visible reaction meant that she could pretend the silence was only indifference to the response. Awesome ponies didn’t get touchy-feely.

“Eh, if you say so, I guess,” she said dismissively. “Whaddya say we go inside? I could use a rest after carryin’ your flank all the way up here.”

“Oh, um, yeah, I guess so…” Derpy acknowledged. She had hoped her response might have shown Rainbow Dash how much she really cared about Twilight, but apparently it hadn’t. She sighed a little at what she thought was a missed opportunity. It’ll be okay. Twilight said so. I have all night to show her what I’m really like. The thought gave her some hope back, and following Rainbow’s voice to the door, she let them in.

****************

“Argh! I simply cannot abide sitting here for such a long time, Twilight!” Rarity used her perfected wail of self-pity in an attempt to get a reaction from her study partner. She let out an exasperated huff, putting on the best fake pout she could muster. She was determined to wheedle at least a little break time out of Twilight.

Unfortunately for her, Twilight was lost in deep concentration, her nose almost touching the desk, comparing her transcript with the original parchment containing the spell of interest. The only acknowledgement Twilight gave the ivory unicorn was a short verbal jab.

“Rarity, you promised to help me look for the problem with this spell. If you want to practice your whining, go find the Diamond Dogs and knock yourself out.”

Rarity let out a dignified snort and dropped back into her chair.

“How many times must I explain to you all that there is a difference between whining and complaining?” she badgered.

“Less time than it would take for you to just stop doing both and be done with it.” Twilight countered sharply, nose still buried in parchment.

Twilight!” Rarity gave an indignant gasp, and then dropped to her gruff, accusatory, and yet somehow still ladylike tone. “How could you force your friend to sit in one place for so long like this?”

“Rarity, you’ve been here a total of one hour, and forty-two minutes of that hour have been spent flipping your mane, inspecting your hooves, staring blankly into Celestia-knows-where, complaining or whining or whichever one it was, and you even tried to start flirting with Spike when he walked past earlier to distract yourself.”

Rarity slipped back into complaint mode. “… But, but…” she sniffed, “my coiffure is being ruined by the musty old air in this library, this tiny little desk is so stifling that I’m all sweaty, my hooficure is being absolutely marred by flipping through these stiff old books, and my beautiful coat is getting completely covered with dust.” She spat out the word with contempt. “You simply must let me out to refresh myself at the spa for a little while.”

Twilight didn’t even bother to look up from her texts. She pointed a hoof down the hall.

“Down there is a ‘spa’ you can use for fifteen minutes or so. The rest of us refer to it as a shower. Get all that icky dust off your coat, dry yourself completely so you don’t destroy my books, then get your flank back here and help me find out what went wrong.”

Rarity huffed again, but she realized that a fifteen minute shower was the best sympathy she could expect from the obsessed librarian, and she took the opportunity while it was there. She had been gone for no less than one minute before Twilight heard her voice floating over from the bathroom.

“Twilight, darling, where do you keep your exfoliating creams and moisturizers?”

Twilight facehooved. It was going to be a long day.

****************

Rainbow Dash led the way into Derpy’s house, trailed by the pegasus that lived there. It felt strange to be leading Derpy around like this; she was giving a tour of a place she had never been to before to somepony who knew it well. She took her time walking through the entry, looking around in order to gain some familiarity with the building. She was, after all, going to be responsible for being Derpy’s guide for the day.

The responsibility was unsettling, and she felt an urge to free herself from the chore and simply leave Derpy alone to fend for herself. The thought was definitely appealing, but she had made a promise to Twilight, and the fact that she had even considered both breaking her promise and abandoning the blinded mare appalled her.

Her mind floated back to earlier, seeing the hurt on Derpy’s face, and regret tugged at her chest. As the day went on, her thoughts continually asked her why she was being so hard on the poor pegasus. Sure, she didn’t like her, but there were plenty of other ponies she didn’t get along with in Ponyville, and she had never treated them with contempt as she had with Derpy.

That fact hit her, and she immediately responded in defense, aggressively shoving all emotion from her head. Sometimes if you ignore a problem, it’ll go away on its own. Thinking can wait. I have to find my way around this place anyway. She smiled emptily to herself. This problem was one she wanted to ignore as long as possible, and she had no issue indulging that idea.

“Umm…” a hesitant and small voice brought Rainbow Dash back to the present. “Rainbow Dash? Are you still there?”

Rainbow turned around and saw Derpy still by the doorway, trying to feel her way along the floor with her hoof, cautiously moving forward but trying not to trip or run into anything. She felt another pang of guilt at leaving her standing there while she was looking around, and walked back over to help Derpy around the room.

“Sorry about that Derpy, I was kinda lookin’ around to see where everything was and forgot that I’d need to help you around.” Rainbow glanced around again, unsure of what exactly to do. “So, uh, what should I be helping you with? I mean, obviously I gotta keep ya from running into stuff, but is there something else I should be doing?”

“Well, we could have some lunch, or dinner, I don’t really know what time it is any more. Last I knew it was late morning, and that’s when I lost my sight. Since then I haven’t been able to judge what time of day it is.” Derpy gave a weak smile. “All I know is that I’m kind of hungry.”

Dash nodded, before realizing that the gesture wouldn’t be seen anyway.

“Right. That makes sense. It’s mid-evening now, I’d guess about five-ish, so if you want we can grab a bite to eat.”

“Alright, the kitchen should be over that way,” Derpy made a vague gesture to her left with her hoof, and almost lost her balance lifting it off the cloud. Wow, and I thought it was hard to walk on clouds with my sight like it was before… “I should have some salad greens and flower buds in the refrigerator, that’d be fine for me, if you wouldn’t mind just getting some on a plate for me. You’re welcome to anything you can find in the kitchen.”

Rainbow Dash looked at her a bit quizzically at the simple request.

“You sure you don’t want something more than just a salad? If you haven’t eaten since breakfast you must be starving.”

“Oh, no, that’s enough for me, you don’t need to make anything. I’m just glad you’re here to help me maneuver through my house, you didn’t volunteer to be my personal caterer for the night.”

After all she had put Derpy through so far, Rainbow couldn’t fathom the consideration that Derpy was giving her. Had the horseshoe been on the other hoof and she’d been the blinded one, she’d have been asking for the most complicated meal ever, just to get even. Her offer to Twilight to help with anything floated back to her, and she shook her head.

This time, though, she was not shaking it to clear an unwelcome thought. She was arguing with herself, and for the first time ever, her pride lost. It was one thing to dislike somepony, but as she thought about her behavior that day, her anger, her redirecting of blame, her harsh words, her coldness, she realized something.

She was doing nothing but holding a petty grudge as though Derpy was her sworn enemy, and she couldn’t even say why she had a grudge in the first place. She still wasn’t able to accept Derpy – she would need to do some major thinking about that later. Until she figured out what and why she was feeling this way, she wasn’t going to treat Derpy like dirt for no reason.

“Nah, it’s no problem, Derpy. I’ll whip up something for us. Tell you what, you go lay down and get that rest, and I’ll let you know when I’ve got something ready. Sound okay?”

The look on Derpy’s face at that suggestion told Rainbow Dash that everything she had suspected about her behavior earlier was dead on. The blind mare wasn’t just surprised or speechless; she was genuinely shocked to hear the prismatic pony offering to do something by her own choice. Rainbow pretended not to notice and just continued.

“So, where’s your room at, anyway?”

Derpy recovered from her daze, trying to remember which way she was facing. She steadied herself a bit more before lifting her hoof this time, and gestured ahead and slightly to her right. “There’s a hall down around there, at least I think it’s around there. The bedroom is all the way to the end on the right. If you need it, the bathroom is on the left about halfway down the hall.”

“K’, hold on to my tail a minute, and I’ll take ya down there.”

Derpy lightly grasped the tip of the tail that was lightly brushing her muzzle, and slowly followed Rainbow down the hall, carefully stepping across the cloud to make sure she didn’t stumble and yank on the tail. She felt the tail come to a sudden halt in front of her, and almost pitched forward into Rainbow’s flank from the unexpected stop, and she heard a sharp gasp from the colorful pegasus.

“Is all this… what’s with all the letter thingies in here?” Rainbow didn’t even try to hide the confusion in her voice. She gazed around, her head swimming from puzzlement to amazement to amusement at the sight.

Derpy had completely forgotten about the strange decorations adorning her room, and embarrassment flushed its way across her face. Well, that’s that, I guess. If she didn’t think I was a freak before, she does now. She gave a big sigh.

“After my eyes went all weird, I started collecting these from eye doctors. I guess after all the hassle I was getting, I was willing to do about anything to get them back to something more normal. I try to focus on the letters every night; I guess you could say it’s kind of an obsessive exercise for me.” She lowered her head, waiting for the derisive comments that were sure to follow.

Nothing came. Rainbow Dash was trying to comprehend the lengths Derpy had gone to just to try to be a little less of an outcast. Amazingly, she somehow was able to relate to how Derpy felt. Rainbow had always received her own amount of teasing – ponies hadn’t called her ‘Rainbow Crash’ for nothing – and just that small amount had been all it took to propel her to obsessive exercises of her own.

If that amount of teasing was all it took to make her obsessive about flying practice, what would she have done had she received the amount of scorn Derpy had?

She turned to look at Derpy, and was taken aback by the pained grimace she wore, as though she was waiting for something… A light clicked on Rainbow Dash’s head. Derpy was waiting for more ridicule. Of course she expected it – she had gotten it her entire life, why would now be any different?

“Did it ever help?”

“Huh?” Derpy wasn’t sure what Rainbow had said. It sounded foreign, spoken in a calming yet interested voice.

“Your letter practice thingy. Did it ever help you get any better?” Rainbow Dash actually surprised herself with the question. She hadn’t consciously chosen her words to make Derpy feel better, and she wasn’t feigning interest. Looking at Derpy’s room had made her wonder if all the work had paid off, and she legitimately wanted to know. The question had just tumbled out as a result.

“No,” Derpy softly replied, “it never did. I’ve still been trying, but I think Twilight is the only hope I have left of improving.”

She paused, and her face brightened a bit. “If she can’t get it to work right, though, I think I’m okay with it. She doesn’t mind how my eyes look, and the fact that she loves me anyway makes my sight feel so much less important.” She grinned a little. “Not that I’d complain if she did make them better.”

Dash gave her a bit of a playful swat with her wing, directing her toward her bed. “Well, when your sight comes back, keep trying until Twi gets it right. Now, get some rest while I see what I can whip up for food.”

****************

It had been hours since Rarity came back from her impromptu ‘spa treatment’, and she had only moaned about Twilight’s lack of styling products for a short while before she finally gave up and sat, studying quietly. Her inspirations for her designs were long gone anyway, so she may as well help as best she could, even if they hadn’t made any progress.

Twilight had re-transcribed the scroll entirely, and then compared it to her previous attempt to try to spot any differences she may have written. Frustratingly, they had been identical. She had since moved on to cross-referencing medical terminology for any abbreviations or words that might have dual meanings in the context of the spell. So far, her efforts were unrewarded.

Rarity was almost mindlessly flipping through a journal on medical reference formatting; Twilight had suggested that the writers of the spell might have had a special sequence for documenting their findings that differed from normal reading, something like having a section specifically for subjective observation that might not belong in the actual spell itself. It had taken only minutes into the book for Rarity’s eyes to glaze over as incomprehension took hold of her.

She gave a frustrated sigh, staring at the accursed scroll sitting between her and Twilight. Lamplight danced over the page. Darkness had crept over the library some time ago, and with a series of overdramatic thumps she intentionally dropped her forehead on the table several times. Each thump was accompanied by a rude or vulgar comment regarding the document, until finally she let her head rest where it dropped, rolling it to the side to give Twilight a disheartened look.

Twilight had stopped reading for the moment, regarding her friend’s theatrics with a raised eyebrow. Rarity gave an irritated groan and glanced back at the parchment, only able to see the thin line of the text from her vantage point on the desk. A flicker from the lamp dispelled some shadow from the page, and an indentation caught her eye in the glint of the light.

There was a slight impression on the page, clearly left by a quill years ago, directly in a very dark patch of smudged ink. She raised her head to look, and the mark vanished, the faint depression of paper imperceptible from above. Her eyes locked on the sentence containing the smudge.

At all times, the caster’s horn must be separated from the patient’s forehead.

Smears dotted the sentence, but it was clear enough to read, and it made sense; Rarity dropped her head back to the desk, looking along the edge of the page. She focused a small bit of magic to conjure a light opposite the page, and the indentations appeared again, more visible with a stronger light behind them. The letters ‘n’ and ‘t’ shone in the ink stain.

Shaking, she raised her head, eyes still on the word that had been partially obscured to be sure she didn’t lose which stain they were in. She reread the sentence.

At all times, the caster’s horn mustn’t be separated from the patient’s forehead.

Rarity had found Twilight’s error.

****************

Rainbow Dash lay on the couch, poking at the pillow she had found in one of Derpy’s closets. Derpy had offered more than once to let Rainbow have her bed for the night; after all, it was the least she could do to thank Rainbow for the dinner she had made. Rainbow had, of course, refused – partially out of manners as a guest, and partially because sleeping under the charts in Derpy’s room would have seriously creeped her out. In daytime, they were thought provoking, but at night… creepy.

She was going over and over in her head all the thoughts she had thrust aside during the day. It was still early, but Derpy had fallen asleep almost effortlessly. Even after her rest before dinner, she was exhausted from her day. With her host sleeping in the next room over, Rainbow Dash had plenty of spare time to think without emotions betraying her iron-pony image.

Her entire life she had disliked Derpy, and more recently that dislike had escalated. She had presumed it was because the clumsy mailmare was getting close to one of her best friends – that much was obvious. Her earlier time in Derpy’s home had taken much of that bitterness away; the pegasus really was kind of likeable, in a weird sort of way.

For some reason, though, Rainbow still had a deep-seated distaste for her, and she couldn’t explain why she couldn’t accept the mare for who she was. She had come to an easy enough answer for why she didn’t like her at first, and it was the same reason everypony else had.

Derpy was different, and as a filly she had been made fun of for that by everypony, Rainbow Dash included. It didn’t make her proud, but that’s the way it was. She went with the crowd, poking fun at the filly with the weird eyes. Rainbow Dash punched the cloud in frustration, remembering the looks of dejection the young filly had worn every day – they were the same looks that she had seen earlier in the day on the grown mare.

She froze at that thought. She had seen the same looks on somepony else when she was a filly. Somepony else she knew had worn a face of rejection and fear her entire foalhood, and she still carried pieces of them today. Rainbow Dash had glimpsed her when she had been cruel to Derpy. Fluttershy.

All her life, the yellow pony had faced mockery from all sides but one, and it was the only difference between how Fluttershy and Derpy had grown. Rainbow Dash was the difference. Everypony made fun of Fluttershy – everypony except for her. She had stayed by Fluttershy’s side through it all, defending her from the teasing at her constant fear and virtually non-existent flying skills.

Fluttershy was still timid, still fearful, still a poor flyer, and just like Derpy, still hurt easily from the scars of foalhood. The only variation between her long-time friend and Derpy was that Rainbow Dash threw insults at Derpy instead of repelling them. It was time for that to change.