• Published 28th Jun 2012
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A New Hero - Alex The Lone Wolf



What if there was another pony who joined the pony gang? (Look at longer description...)

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Putting Your Hoof Down

Episode 45 – Putting Your Hoof Down

I became conscious, but my eyes remained closed. I made little movements in bed, feeling like I wanted to go back to sleep. However, I opened my eyes and just sat up, yawning and looking around. I decided to walk to the bathroom and turn on the water in the sink. I placed my hooves under the running water and rubbed some of it on my face and eyes. Afterwards, I turned it off and looked in the mirror. I observed myself for a moment and played with my mane a bit, fixing it up for my presence with Fluttershy. Seeing Fluttershy in my mind, I quickly brightened up and felt excited to see her. I walked out of the bathroom with a smile and down the stairs. I stretched and loosened myself up a bit before opening the front door and walking out.

Standing outside, I looked at the clear blue sky above me. It presented maybe noonish? The breeze around town was like a cooling fan that renewed me. I inhaled its wonders and began walking towards Fluttershy's cottage, hoping I have a wonderful time with her.

I arrived at her door, beginning to her some noises inside. Good, she's awake! I smiled and lightly knocked. She opened it and smiled brightly, but softly.

"Alex! I was just about to feed my animals."

"Really?" I responded. "Can I come in?"

"Of course!" She led me inside. I noticed that there weren't any animals around. I assumed that she was just about to call them.

"Lunch time!" She rang a bell and called so gently and sweetly. "Who's hungry?" Many animals immediately came out from their homes, even from the outside, and scurried inside, ready to receive their meal. "Plenty for everypony." She began pouring a box of animal food. However, one of the squirrels unexpectedly fell on her head and on the floor. Fluttershy had made a huge pile of food, and all the animals were rushing to eat it. I slightly widened my eyes at their behavior. Another mouse came by and knocked the bunny that was eating on top of the hill off from the hill, even shocking me a bit more. Wow…these animals are really…competitive for their food… "Slow down, sweetie." She suggested. All the animals suddenly stopped chewing on their food and looked at Fluttershy for a moment. Then, they just continued to chomp rapidly on the meal, practically ignoring her. Nonetheless, Fluttershy began flying, continuing to carry the box of food until a mouse somehow jumped and pulled the box away from her. He impressively held the whole box above him and literally swallowed every piece of the food, causing him to grow significantly until Fluttershy flew towards him and took the box away, giggling.

"Fluttershy… your pets are really…um…hungry?" I commented, still a little shocked at their behavior.

She giggled once more. "Yes, they are really nice though." Suddenly, we began hearing loud thumping on the ground, causing us to look back. It was Angel. He had his front legs crossed and his eyes narrowed in annoyance. "Here you go, Angel bunny." Fluttershy began pouring the food in a bowl in front of him but he kicked it upwards, causing it to land on Fluttershy's head, bringing her down from flight and making her release the box.

"Fluttershy! Are you okay?" I quickly asked, readying my hooves to touch her.

"Yes, I'm fine." She pulled the bowl off her head and shook her mane to remove the bits of food. Angel continued his thumping, causing me to look at him in annoyance instead. "Okay, Mister Picky-pants, you win." She flew over to a table to retrieve a beautifully made salad. "Carrots, lettuce and apples, yum yum yum!" He sniffed it and merely throw it away, causing me to widen my eyes in shock. Wow… I never knew he was that spoiled… "What? But— Angel grabbed one of the cucumbers, but he purposely turned his face to a green sickly color, falling to the floor and holding a flower on his body. "Then, what will you eat?" Angel brightened up, stood up, and sped off somewhere. He came back with a recipe book, placing his paw on a picture of the same salad Fluttershy had made, except it had bananas, nuts, whipped cream, and a cherry on top, possibly other sweets inside… "I'm not sure I can even make that." He then thumped his paw angrily on the picture. "Well... I don't want you to starve... Oh, are you sure I can't tempt you with a nice crisp piece of— She had held up a piece of lettuce, but Angel just slapped it off her hoof, slapped her face, and placed the picture right on her. She sighed. "I'll make your special recipe."

As Fluttershy continued to read the recipe, I looked at Angel angrily. "What's with that, Angel? Don't bite the hoof that feeds you!"

He then returned an annoyed expression towards me and threw a bowl of food at me. The food flung all over me, but I quickly caught the bowl, not wanting it to break. I sighed heavily in anger. There wasn't really anything I could do to punish him. He was Fluttershy's pet, not mine.

"It's okay, Alex… I'll make his recipe." She continued analyzing the book. "It looks like I have to go to town to get the rest of the ingredients I need…" She stood up and placed the book on the table. Then she flew over to her room to retrieve something.

I looked at Angel annoyingly. "You're lucky you have such a beautiful and sweet mare as your owner…"

He merely stuck out and blew his tongue at me and then hopped off. I rolled my eyes, and Fluttershy came down with a saddlebag attached to her body. "Are you coming with me, Alex?" She asked.

I managed to smile a bit. "Of course!"

She giggled a little and flew over to me to kiss my cheek. "Thank you."

Afterwards, we both walked out of the cottage and began heading to town.

Fluttershy led me to the marketplace. Several ponies were there, buying, looking, or just hanging around in the tables nearby. She pulled a list from her bag and observed it. The list contained the contents and checklist for the recipe Fluttershy had to make. "Hmm, let's see. Asparagus." She placed a hoof near the item on the list. After, we began walking towards the line that had a couple of ponies that later bought their asparagus. Just as the last pony received his item, Fluttershy was about to purchase one until a unicorn suddenly cut in front of her, shocking me a bit. "Excuse me... umm... I think you just stepped in front of me...?" Fluttershy tried to point out, but she was too soft. The unicorn ignored her and made her purchase. "Excuse me, I think you made a mistake?" The unicorn grabbed the asparagus with her magic and began walking away with annoyed eyes. "You see I was actually here first and—

"Sorry, didn't notice you there." The unicorn announced, but didn't even mean it as she walked away.

"I know…" Fluttershy lowered her head, looking at the ground sadly.

Seeing her frown at that, I quickly looked at the unicorn with narrowed angry eyes and began walking up to her, calling her and ready to confront her. "Hey!"

She sighed, heavily annoyed and turned around to face me, speaking in the same tone. "What?"

"You just cut in front of my girlfriend and walked away like nothing. Apologize to her!"

"Uh… Didn't you just hear me? I said I was sorry." She rolled her eyes and began walking away.

"She was right there! How could you not notice her?"

However, she continued to walk away. I sighed and found no point in trying to continue this, so I turned around and began walking towards Fluttershy, noticing an old pony purchasing asparagus as well.

"Ohoh, no need, dearie, I'm already in front!" He grabbed his purchase and walked away, leaving Fluttershy to look back and mumble something.

Fluttershy was just about to step towards the stand again but a couple of girls rudely popped in front of her chattering senselessly. "…like, oh well…"

"Hey!" Fluttershy softly exclaimed.

The mare with the huge mane and hot pink bow looked back at her disrespectfully and responded. "Would you mind moving back? You're in my personal space."

Fluttershy returned widened eyes and looked around to see if she really was. "But—

"Seriously, do you need your asparagus so badly? Get a life." The second pony responded in the same manner as her friend, causing Fluttershy to sadly walk away. They both giggled, and made me feel my blood boil.

"Hey!" I confronted them as well. "Don't you two talk to her that way!"

"Ugh…" The one with a bow responded in disgust as she rolled her eyes. "And who are you, the loser patrol?"

"I'm an adult! Unlike you two little spoiled brats here!"

"Excuse me?" Her friend replied. "You're like totally uncool, you know that?"

I growled, ready to raise my voice and lose control of myself until Rarity suddenly intervened and placed her hoofs on me. "Alex, darling, let's not settle this with anger shall we?" I let out a angry breath and looked away. Rarity faced the girls and talked to them. "Girls, please take your asparagus and go." They rolled their eyes, grabbing their asparagus, and walked away. After, Pinkie led Fluttershy back to us. She still had a saddened look to her face. Rarity talked to Fluttershy as I continued to calm down. "Fluttershy, you mustn't let them treat you that way."

"Oh, it-it's really no big deal..." Fluttershy replied.

"It's bigger than big, it's double big, you are a pony with a problem." Pinkie Pie added.

"What problem?" Fluttershy asked. Pinkie exchanged a look with Rarity and nodded. Then, she moved Fluttershy to the side and quickly took her place on the front of the line, causing Fluttershy to spin and fall to the floor. "Oh, go right ahead Pinkie Pie, you first."

"Right there!" Pinkie pointed out. "That's the problem."

"You've got to stop being such a doormat." Rarity added.

"A doormat?" Fluttershy questioned, surprised.

"A pushover, darling." Rarity explained. "You've got to stand up for yourself, promise us. Alex won't always be here to do that for you…"

"Oh, okay. I promise." She answered hesitantly and began walking to the stand. "Oh! Good!" However, a um…nerdy…pony came by and picked up the last one, dropping the bit. "Oh, that's okay, I don't mind." I would have confronted him as well… but I think he's been through enough in his life to not see my anger explode… To be honest… I think he'd actually start crying or something…

Rarity quickly rushed to Fluttershy's side. "Watch and learn." She began walking towards the pony. "Hold it right there, mister small and handsome."

"Uh, who, me?" He asked.

"Oh, of course, you." Rarity worked her charm. "Nopony ever called you handsome before?"

"Uhh, that'd be a big no." He answered frankly.

"Oh, well they should! How about flexing some of your muscles for me?" Rarity asked, grabbing his hoof which caused him to quickly grow excited that even his tie spun rapidly. He then flexed his left hoof really hard to only present a…small…size of a… should I even say… muscle? Nonetheless, Rarity gasped, and responded in a surprised manner, making me want to snicker as I tried to hold in a laugh. "Oh my heavens! Do you think a strong, handsome stallion such as yourself could give my friend the last asparagus?" She grabbed the asparagus from his saddlebag and placed a bit on his nose.

He mumbled bashfully as Rarity walked back with the asparagus. "Nuhh."

"See, that's not so hard, is it?" Rarity asked as she opened Fluttershy's saddlebag and placed the asparagus in there.

"...um... I guess not." Fluttershy responded.

I chuckled a little. "Well, Rarity… that's one way to assert yourself."

She winked playfully at me and began grabbing the list from her bag. "Alright then! What else is on your list?" She opened it to view it.

"Let's see... I also need tomatoes." Fluttershy announced, which led us to the tomato stand. This time, there was no pony in line. Fluttershy walked up to the stand and used her wing to brush the three tomatoes off and into her saddlebag. Then, she placed a bit on the counter. "Here you go." Afterwards, she began walking back to us happily.

The tomato stallholder looked at the bit, a bit surprised, and cleared her throat, catching Fluttershy attention. "That'll be two bits. Not one."

"Oh, but last week it was only one bit…"

"That was then, this is now."

"Oh, okay. I don't wanna argue about it." Fluttershy replied, placing a bit on the counter. Rarity placed a hoof on me, preventing me to confront her when I began feeling angry again. Pinkie Pie bounced over to the stall and confronted her instead.

"What do you think you're doing?"

"Mindin' my own business, maybe you should try it!"

I looked at Rarity, desperately wanting to step in. "Rarity!"

She just shook her head and continued to observe the scene.

"Two bits for tomatoes is outrageous, one bit is the right price." Pinkie placed a hoof on one bit and brought it back to her side.

"I say it's two bits." The stallholder placed her hoof on the bit and brought it back to her.

Pinkie narrowed her eyes and brought it back. "One bit."

"Two bits!" The stallholder pointed towards the sign that presented two bits for three tomatoes.

"One bit!" Pinkie brought up her own custom made sign that actually displayed one bit for three tomatoes.

"Two bits!" The stallholder argued.

"One bit!" Pinkie pounded her hoof on the counter, causing the bit to hop back to her side.

"Two bits!" The stall holder did the same, but with both of her hooves.

"Two bits!" Pinkie Pie argued, now using reverse psychology and pulling the bit, but merely placing it on the stallholder's side again.

"One bit!" The stallholder exclaimed, now proving Pinkie's method successful and placing the bit on her side.

"Two bits!" Pinkie moved it back.

"One bit!" She repeated.

"I insist it's two bits or nothing!"

"One bit and that's my final offer!"

"Have it your way, one bit it is!" Pinkie Pie quickly responded and took the bit with her. After, we quickly walked away from the stand, smiling after seeing Pinkie do her job. We shared a small laughter. "See? Asserting yourself can be fun!"

"I guess you're right!" Fluttershy replied, feeling better now.

"So, Fluttershy, do you feel like giving it a try?" Rarity asked.

"Um... okay." She then stopped, seeing something that caught her eye. "I need that cherry." She quickly flew to the stall holder and began speaking to him. However, I managed to spot a pony with a saddlebag that presented a muffin. I smiled, knowing it was Derpy. From what I could see, she looked to be asking the asparagus stallholder for something, but he shook his head in a sort of annoyed way. She opened her eyes and frowned, lowering her head. I would have gone and spoken with her…but I needed to make sure Fluttershy was doing fine. "Boy am I glad you have one cherry left." Fluttershy explained to cherry stallholder as she began landing and using her wing to retrieve the bit from her saddlebag.. "You see I'm making this special meal for my bunny Angel, he's a very picky eater, and the recipe calls for a cherry on top." She placed her mouth inside and grabbed the bit. "Here you go." She said as the bit clinked on the stall.

"So, you say you need this cherry 'very badly'." He responded, causing me to narrow my eyes in suspicion.

"Oh, yes, I'm desperate for it!"

"Then it'll be ten bits!"

"Ten?" Fluttershy widened her eyes and looked at us. I was ready to strike, maybe even with my hooves since this pony was a guy, but then I remembered Fluttershy had to learn… So I took in a deep breath and allowed the girls to motion her to do what they taught her. Fluttershy narrowed her eyes in determination and then began her attempt to win the cherry. "Oh, hey, mister handsome, I know you wanna do the right thing because you're handsome and strong and big, handsome, strong guys are always nice to everypony, right?" Her attempt was cute and adorable…but it didn't win over the stall holder.

"Ten bits for the cherry."

Fluttershy looked over at us again, noticing Rarity nod her head as Pinkie flipped her hoof to motion Fluttershy to try her method.

"Ten bits for one cherry's outrageous! I insist on paying you... eleven bits!"

"Eleven bits?"

"Umm...I mean, nine bits!"

"Er, now wait a minute."

"Okay, twelve bits, but that's my final offer!"

I looked over to Rarity and Pinkie Pie to see them notice that Fluttershy was just making things worse. Pinkie dug a hole in the ground and stuck her head in there while Rarity only placed a hoof to her face.

"I think you're confused."

"It's twelve bits, take it or leave it."

"Okay, I'll take it!"

Fluttershy was actually just about to give him her bag of money, but I quickly intervened, standing in front of Fluttershy and facing the stallholder. "One bit or nothing. Don't you dare try to scam her from her money."

"Or what, kid?" He responded, aggressively.

I reacted by narrowing my eyes in aggression, and was just about to literally attack by pouncing on him, but Pinkie and Rarity quickly wrapped their hooves around me, preventing me from leaping, and dragging me away from the stand.

"Calm down, Alex." Rarity advised as they continued dragging me away from there. "Violence is not the best answer for this type of situation…"

I sighed and calmed myself down, allowing them to stop dragging me. "I know… I'm just so protective of Fluttershy. Anypony that wants to mess with her makes me just want to… explode…"

"It's understandable, Alex." Pinkie placed her hoof on me and then looked at Fluttershy. "You shouldn't give him your money! One cherry is not worth twelve bits!"

"But... I was only doing what you did…"

"It was a valiant effort, but you should refuse to give him your business and just walk away." Rarity responded.

"But... I can't let Angel starve! He won't eat it unless I make it just right! I need that cherry no matter what it costs!" Fluttershy began flying towards the stand, but stallholder heard us and changed the deal.

"In that case, twenty bits!"

"Twenty?" Fluttershy widened her eyes and stopped. "Oh, but, I don't have that much!"

"Then why're you wasting my time?"

I narrowed my eyes in anger again as Fluttershy could only form a saddened expression.

Another pony walked by, carrying two bits with her magic. "I'll give you two bits for that cherry!" She placed the bits and removed the cherry from the stall.

"Sold! Eh, tough break, kid. Next time, don't be such a doormat."

Fluttershy frowned and began walking away sadly, causing my blood to boil. I immediately began charging at him but Rarity and Pinkie Pie grabbed me and stopped me before I could do any damage. I gave a few huffs of angry air and then finally took in a deep breath, sighing heavily. I stood up and faced them. "Where did Fluttershy go?"

"She left…" Rarity answered.

"I'll go talk to her…" Afterwards, I began looking for Fluttershy, who was most likely going back to her cottage.

When I reached the bridge outside her cottage, I saw a goat walking past me, bleating a little. I raised an eyebrow in confusion but nonetheless I continued walking towards her door. I noticed the top part of her door was open. Right when I reached it, Fluttershy suddenly flew outside all of a sudden, which caused me to widen my eyes and quickly catch her, or at least attempt to. She landed in my hooves, but her impact caused me to fall to the ground with her. At least she is safe.

"Fluttershy?" I called her, surprised. "What's going on? What happened?"

"Oh…um…" She frowned. "I made Angel the salad he wanted… it just didn't have a cherry on top… I gave it to him…but…" She sighed sadly. "He didn't eat it…"

I sighed as well after hearing her answer. "Fluttershy…You can't let Angel boss you around… You feed him, shelter him, and do so many more things for him. I know you care about him…but right now, he's just being a spoiled pet. You have to do something about it… otherwise he's going to keep treating you like this… you have to put your hoof down when he crosses the line."

She looked at me sadly for a moment and then buried her face in my chest. "Look at me... I really am a doormat."

I could only place my hooves on her back and pat her lightly to comfort her…

"Come on… let's go inside…"

She nodded. "Okay…" She stood up and allowed me to stand up as well. She noticed her mailbox was full of mail. "Hold on…" She opened it and pulled out all the mail, but there was one that really caught our attention. We took the mail back in the cottage and placed it on the table while we sat down. Fluttershy grabbed the strange-looking one first. It was a pamphlet… She began reading what was on it. "The incredible Iron Will turns doormats into dynamos. Assertiveness seminar today, hedge maze center." She narrowed her eyes in determination as she thought about something. "As Celestia is my witness, I'm never gonna be a pushover again!"

"Fluttershy… do you really think you should go to this thing?" I asked, a little worried.

"Alex." She placed her hooves on me desperately. "I have to! I don't want to be a doormat for everypony to step on! Like you said, I have to put my hoof down! Please Alex! Please let me go! It's my only chance!"

I could only think about it as she continued to look at me with pleading eyes. Maybe she can have a better life with this…but… I sighed. "Alright…but I'm coming with you."

"Thank you!" She thanked and squeezed me.

I could only wrap my hooves around her as I hoped that nothing negative would come out from this…

We traveled to the hedge maze center almost immediately after. The front of the maze contained a banner with the same symbol that was on the pamphlet. Fluttershy did sound determined back at the cottage, but when we actually arrived inside the maze, she was a bit shy and scared. I just held her hoof and led her inside where the crowd was at.

"Oh! Ah! Uh... excuse me!" Fluttershy stated softly as we tried to find a spot at the front of the crowd. She squeaked shyly when we tugged ourselves into a spot. She retrieved angry stares from the other ponies as if they wanted to kick her out of the group, but I returned the same stare at them, causing them to look a little frightened and look back at the stage.

Suddenly, loud music began playing. The spotlight shined on the stage as smoke filled the area. All of this was run by two goats of the opposite color. Okay…? Then, a large Minotaur appeared on the stage, swinging and flinging his arms around as fireworks exploded on stage. The crowd responded with the stomping of their hooves. He then flexed his arms, displaying his muscles as he kissed each one tenderly. I narrowed my eyes and shook my head.

"Welcome, friends!" He announced as he walked on the stage. "My name is Iron Will, and today is the first day of your new life! I wanna hear you stomp if you're tired of being a pushover!" The crowd stomped, excluding Fluttershy and me. "Stomp if you're tired of being a doormat!" They repeated their action. "Stomp if you wanna pay nothing for this seminar!" They stomped and cheered, but it soon slowed down into general confusion and then laughter. Iron Will looked at the crowd seriously and snorted causing them to immediately become silent. "That's no joke, friends. Iron Will is so confident that you will be one hundred percent satisfied with Iron Will's assertiveness techniques, that if you are not one hundred percent satisfied, you. Pay. Nothing. But I pity the fool who doubts Iron Will's methods." He faced directly with a pony beside us. "You don't doubt me, do you?"

"Uh-uh, no sir..." He responded along with the general agreement from the others, providing a nervous face.

"That, my friends, is your first lesson." He announced as he stood on top of the two goats, who seemed to not mind it at all. "'Don't be shy, look 'em in the eye.'" The ponies in the crowd chattered in agreement. "Now, to demonstrate that Iron Will's techniques will work for anypony, I'm gonna need a volunteer." Everypony immediately raised their hooves except Fluttershy and me. Instead, she timidly and slowly slid behind me and hid. Well… I didn't really want her to go up there… especially on how shy she is… I faced the front and tried to keep her hidden as well. However, the goats that were helping him were looking around the crowd, obviously looking for somepony that wasn't raising a hoof. The white one spotted Fluttershy hiding behind me and called out to the black one, causing him to talk to Iron Will. He stood up and faced my direction. "You, behind the blue one!" Everypony immediately separated from us, causing Fluttershy to poke her head and become clearly visible.

"Who, me?" She questioned.

"Yes, you! Iron Will wants you onstage!"

She gulped. "Uh, well..."

I looked at her and then faced Iron Will. "I'll take her place."

"What?" He questioned me and studied me. "No… you're too easy. I need somepony… like her!" He pointed at Fluttershy.

"But—

"That's okay, Alex… I'll go…" Fluttershy interrupted me softly.

"Fluttershy…"

"Now!" Iron Will commanded, causing Fluttershy to flinch and respond in a whisper.

"Okay…" She timidly walked from me to the stage, where she was immediately confronted by the white goat. She moved around him and tried to walk, but the goat just got in her way again.

"Whoaa! He's blocking your path. What are you gonna do about it?" Iron Will asked.

"Um, politely walk around him?" Fluttershy guessed.

"No." He answered, crossing his arms.

"Gingerly tip-toe around him?"

"No." He emphasized.

"Go back home and try again tomorrow?"

"No! 'When somepony tries to block, show them that you rock!'" He lightly pushed her towards the goat, causing the goat to fall down on the floor.

"Oh! Sorry." Fluttershy apologized.

"Don't be sorry! Be assertive! 'Never apologize, when you can criticize.'" He cleared his throat and then planted his face in front of the goat. "Why don't you watch where you're going!" He faced Fluttershy again. "Now, you try."

"Uh... next time, get out of the way before... I bump into you, 'cause... I totally won't be sorry when I do!"

It wasn't exactly what Iron Will was looking for…but he grabbed Fluttershy's hoof and raised in front of all of us to see. "You see my friends! If my techniques can work for this shy, little pony, then they can work for anypony!"

Fireworks exploded as the crowd cheered. Fluttershy looked around the crowd and then at me, smiling adorably.

After the seminar, we began walking back home to the cottage.

"Alex, did you see me? I was so assertive!" She excitedly stated.

I chuckled a little, but I still didn't feel good about the "assertive" techniques that were mentioned. "Maybe you shouldn't go to that extreme…"

"What do you mean?" She asked, looking at me.

I then remembered how sweet she really was. She didn't explode towards the goat like Iron Will did… so maybe she won't be that bad… maybe she'll just be…assertive. I shook my head. "Never mind."

"Well, come on, Alex!" She exclaimed joyfully, but still softly, as we neared her cottage and walked in. "It's time for doormat Fluttershy to become assertive Fluttershy!" She walked to her mirror and taped the pamphlets on there. Um… "Okay, I feel good. I feel ready to 'attack the day', as Iron Will says." She slightly giggled as she looked at me. "Ready or not, here comes assertive Fluttershy now!" She walked to the door and opened it, beginning to walk outside.

"Why don't we go see Pinkie and Rarity so they can see how you are now?" I asked, making a suggestion.

"Sure! We can also— Her sentence was cut short when she saw an elderly pony over-watering her flowers. "Excuse me, Mr. Greenhooves, but I-I think you might be over-watering my petunias..." She commented as we walked over to him. He responded with a chuckle. "...again..."

"Let the professional handle it." Professional…? He continued humming.

"Sir, you're—

Fluttershy placed a hoof on me with a determined but angrier face. "' Treat me like a pushover, and you'll get the once over'" She faced the hose and stepped on it, halting the water flow towards the outside. The pony noticed this and shook it. After, he placed the hole in front of his eye. Fluttershy then released the water, causing it burst on him. He coughed and sputtered. "Well, perhaps that is enough water…"

"Thank you." She responded and walked me across the bridge. She giggled excitedly and faced me. "I can't believe it worked!"

"Yeah…but…was it really necessary to do that? You could have at least swiped the hose away from him or turn it off or something…"

"It doesn't matter. I'm not a pushover anymore! I'm so excited!" She smiled brightly.

"Uh-huh…" I answered, feeling uneasy as I walked with her and looked slightly away.

When we reached the main bridge to town, we saw a couple of ponies each carrying a cart full of garbage for some odd reason. They were both blocking the way as they talked to each other. "Showpony business is tough." The one on the left said.

"Go ahead, try one of your jokes out on me, I laugh at everything." The other added.

"Okay, okay, okay. A donkey and a mule are stuck on a desert island..."

Fluttershy noticed how they were lagging around, so she cleared her throat boldly. "Excuse me? Would you mind moving your carts so we can pass?"

They poked their heads around to see us right behind them. "Yeah yeah, in a minute, I just wanna finish up this story. And so the donkey says to the mule—

"A-hemmmm, can you move, you're blocking my path." Fluttershy interrupted, growing angrier.

"Fluttershy, maybe you want to tone down a bi—

"Yeah yeah, in a minute! So the donkey says to the mule...

"'When somepony tries to block, show them that you rock!'" Fluttershy commented and walked up to the carts.

"...and the mule says—

Fluttershy kicked the carts, causing them to fly upwards and leak all the garbage on top of the two ponies.

"Ugh, easy does it, lady. We're moving, okay?" They began moving while I could only stare at the mess made with widened eyes.

"Good!" Fluttershy announced and began walking towards town while I could only trail behind her a bit, starting to feel worried about this new "assertiveness" thing with her... That could have gone a lot better…

Fluttershy and I eventually arrived at Sugarcube Corner.

"Who's next, please, and what can I get for you today?" Pinkie Pie announced in a question as we walked in the building. I began standing in line behind another pony while Fluttershy stood behind me. I heard a tap, causing me to look back to see that somepony had slipped between Fluttershy and me and took her place, bumping her away from her.

I would have definitely said something about that…but Fluttershy took control instead…

"What do you think you're doing? Didn't you see me?" Fluttershy asked, aggressively.

"Uh, I guess maybe." She merely responded.

"'Maybe'? 'Maybes are for babies!'" She placed her hoof on the pony and spun her around, making her face her. "Now go to the back of the line where you belong!"

The pony smiled nervously and did so. The ponies that were in front of us watched the whole thing and quickly did so as well, as they were all highly intimidated of her. Afterwards, Fluttershy released a jerky smirk, causing me to feel even more worried that this mess is beginning to get out of hoof. I mean sure… that pony practically deserved it…but did everypony really need to go to the back of the line?

"Heyyy, look at you!" Pinkie expressed at the counter.

"Oh, your attitude is so feisty, it's fabulous." Rarity added as Pinkie nodded.

"Maybe a little too feisty…" I muttered under my breath as Fluttershy gracefully flew towards the counter.

"Thanks." Fluttershy replied, a little arrogantly. "I learned it from Iron Will's seminar."

"Well, looks like that monster's workshop really paid off!" Pinkie stated.

"Iron Will's not a monster, he's a minotaur, and a true inspiration. His techniques really work." I remained silent and walked over to the counter as Fluttershy explained.

"Well, they've certainly made a difference in the way you carry yourself. You truly are a whole new Fluttershy." Rarity replied.

"Yes I am." Fluttershy looked at her hoof as if she had just received a pedicure. "And new Fluttershy feels pretty stoked about new Fluttershy."

"What about you, Alex?" Rarity asked me. "Are you proud of your new girlfriend?"

I couldn't really answer. I just looked away, beginning to feel that sadness that I felt at the gala. Oh no… don't tell me Fluttershy is…

"Well, old Pinkie Pie feels really proud of new Fluttershy." Pinkie Pie prevented the possible awkwardness that might have happened. "Proud as pink punch." She dove under the counter and pulled out a bowl of pink punch. "Want some?" She snorted and giggled, falling towards the floor from her own joke, but by the look on Fluttershy, she didn't take it that way…

" 'You laugh at me, I wrath at you!' "

"Fluttershy, hold on! She wasn't—

Fluttershy pushed the bowl of pink punch towards Pinkie, shocking both Rarity and Pinkie as she held the bowl on her head. Afterwards, Fluttershy began walking out the door. "Come on, Alex." No, I definitely do not like this… "Bye, girls!" As Fluttershy jumped out of the sweet shop, everypony outside immediately ran away. "What a day. Taxi!" She waved her hoof and called a nearby taxi as I stood at the porch of the building. Pinkie and Rarity soon joined me. The taxi came towards Fluttershy to give her a ride, but suddenly another pony jumped on the carriage and smiled happily as if she wasn't even there.

"Uh-oh…" I slipped out.

"Oh no you don't. 'Cut in line, I'll take what's mine!'" Fluttershy instantly pounced in the air and right on top of him, furiously fighting, landing punches and throwing out the pony in front of us. "Nopony pushes new Fluttershy around!" Fluttershy exclaimed as she raised a curved hoof. "Nopony!" She screamed loudly, causing the taxi driver to become frightened and quickly take off with her inside.

I could only remain at the porch with widened eyes and an agape mouth as I could not believe what kind of pony Fluttershy had turned into…

"Old Pinkie Pie is not so sure new Fluttershy is such a good idea after all." Pinkie commented after watching the mess happen.

"Old Rarity agrees." Rarity responded.

"Oh no…no…" I slipped out, sitting down and shaking my head, as well as catching their attention. "Fluttershy can't be turning like this… she's sweet and gentle… not a…a monster…" I sighed sadly and covered my face with my hooves.

Rarity and Pinkie placed their hooves on me. "Don't worry, Alex." Rarity assured. "We should go and try to stop her before it's too late!"

"Yeah! I'm pretty sure she'll listen!" Pinkie Pie agreed happily.

"...You're right… Nice Fluttershy is still in her… we just need to reach out to her… Come on!" I quickly stood up. "Let's go find her!"

"Yeah!" They both agreed and followed me towards the direction she left.

The path eventually led us towards the road to her cottage. We stopped to see Fluttershy with some tourist.

"Excuse me, do you know how to get to the Ponyville tower?" He asked.

"Sure, you just—

Fluttershy gasped when the mail she had in her mouth dropped and fell into the puddle.

"Oh, that's a shame."

Fluttershy growled loudly. " 'You make me lose, I blow my fuse!'"She quickly grabbed the tourist's camera and literally swung him around until she let go and had him fly towards a nearby stack of hay while the camera rung the bell in the tower.

I quickly rushed over to Fluttershy while Pinkie and Rarity trailed behind me.

"Fluttershy! What are you doing? This isn't you!" I questioned, almost in desperate voice.

"Didn't you see what he did to new Fluttershy? And he thought new Fluttershy was a pushover!"

"No sweetie, he didn't." Rarity answered for me while I could only stare at Fluttershy with pleading eyes, even feeling the emotions being to swell up inside me. "We saw the whole thing. We think that you've taken your assertiveness training a little too far."

"What? You just want new Fluttershy to be a doormat like old Fluttershy! But old Fluttershy is gone!"

"I just want my girlfriend back! The nice and sweet one!" I pleaded, even starting to feel like my voice wanted to break.

"Yes, we want that Fluttershy back." Rarity agreed.

"No, you want wimp Fluttershy." She argued as she flew around us. "You want pushover Fluttershy. You want do-anything-to-her-and-she-won't-complain Fluttershy!"

"Nyaaaaah! Too many Fluttershies to keep track of! Make it stop!" Pinkie Pie announced in a confused manner, holding her hooves to her head.

"Things getting too complicated for your simple little brain, Pinkie Pie?" Fluttershy asked mockingly as she placed a hoof on her forehead and pushed her to the ground.

My heart felt like it was pierced and skipped a beat while Rarity caught Pinkie Pie before she fell to the ground. "Now, stop right there! Let's not let things descend into petty insults!" Rarity demanded.

"Why not? I thought 'petty' was what you're all about, Rarity. With your 'petty' concerns about fashion." Fluttershy attacked with her words, causing Rarity to gasp and begin tearing up, using my shoulder to cry on. I could only try to comfort Rarity by placing my hoof on her, but I was way too shocked by Fluttershy's behavior that I was literally speechless…

"Hey, leave her alone!" Pinkie defended. "Fashion is her passion!"

"Oh, and what are you passionate about? Birthday cake? Party hats?" My eyes continued to widen, as well as my mouth agape, when I continued to hear Fluttershy be such a…such a…bully… "I can't believe that the two most frivolous ponies in Ponyville are trying to tell new Fluttershy how to live her life when they are throwing their own lives away on pointless pursuits that nopony else gives a flying feather about!" She exclaimed as both Rarity and Pinkie Pie formed tears in their eyes.

"Looks like nasty Fluttershy is here to stay!" Pinkie responded as she began to cry.

"I cannot believe what that monster Iron Will has done to you!" Rarity added in the same manner.

Then, they immediately ran away crying as I could only call after them, feeling highly bad for them. "Girls, wait!"

"Iron Will's not a monster, he's a minotaur!" She screamed out and landed, facing me. "Now, KISS ME ALEX!" She grabbed my cheeks with her hooves and forcefully planted my lips on hers. …for the first time…I didn't feel anything… I didn't feel the spark…

"No!" I pulled her away from me.

"What?" Fluttershy responded aggressively. "I thought I was your girlfriend, Alex!"

"No, you're not!" I answered, boldly, but feeling tears form in my eyes. "My girlfriend was the Fluttershy I loved. Now, you're a completely different Fluttershy! You are not the Fluttershy that helped me through my depression! You aren't the Fluttershy I fell in love with! You're just a… a…" My lips trembled as I spoke. "…a bully!" My words caused her to suddenly widen her eyes and open her mouth as I immediately turned away and ran after the girls, feeling tears drop from my face.

I caught up with the girls after a few moments. They stopped by a river, sitting and allowing tears to drop from their face. I frowned sadly and lowered my head as I walked towards them. "I'm sorry girls…"

"…what?" They looked back at me, to see me teary as well.

"I don't know what got into her…" I sighed sadly. " I should have never let her go to that seminar…"

"Oh, Alex…" Rarity replied as they both walked over to me to comfort and hug me. "It wasn't your fault… It was that 'Iron Will' fellow…"

"Wait a minute…" Pinkie commented. "Does this mean…" She paused. "…that you two are…broken up…?"

"I…I don't know…" I lowered my head and stared at the floor. "Maybe…I mean…if she stays like this…because…I…I can't… she isn't the pony I fell in love with…"

"No." Rarity boldly stated, beginning to wipe the tears from her eyes. "I will not allow for the both of you to separate. You two were meant for each other. This is just an obstacle you both have to jump over together…"

"You're right…" I perked up a little. "I really love Fluttershy… I won't let this ruin it. We need to go try to talk to her again…also because… I think I may have been too harsh with her…"

"Then what are we waiting for?" Pinkie asked. "We can't let this ruin our friendship either! Let's go!"

After, Pinkie immediately took us back to the cottage.

We slowed down to walk when we discovered the condition the cottage was in. I was shocked to see the cottage covered with wooden boards everywhere there was a possible escape, condemning the whole building. Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and I all exchanged a look of worry and shock.

We walked towards the door and stood there for a moment. I looked at the girls. Rarity gave me a confident nod. I nodded as well and knocked on the door. "…Fluttershy…? Are you in there…? It's us… Alex, Pinkie, and Rarity…"

"Go away!" She exclaimed from inside, sounding muffled on the out. "Go away before nasty Fluttershy strikes again!"

"Oh, sweetie, we all said things that we regret." Rarity added.

"We did?" Pinkie questioned.

Rarity immediately placed her hoof on Pinkie's mouth and shushed her.

"Pinkie's right. I'm the only one to blame." Fluttershy continued. "But don't worry, I'm never coming out of my house again. Everypony will be a lot safer with me and my mean mouth locked away."

"Fluttershy…listen… I love you with all my heart. I don't blame you for anything you've done… Iron Will was just a bad influence on you. We can change you back to your normal self…

"Yeah! He's the one that made you act super-duper nasty!" Pinkie added, but Rarity kicked her. "What I mean is, there are other ways to assert yourself besides yelling at everypony."

"Yes! You can stand up for yourself without being unpleasant about it." Rarity agreed.

"They're right… being assertive isn't about being a jerk… Being assertive is letting others know that you won't be bossed around, and that you're your own pony…You just need to come out and we'll help you…"

"I, I'm not sure I can, I'm too far gone. Whenever I try to assert myself, I become a monster." Fluttershy responded.

"Oh, sweetie, you're not a monster." Rarity assured.

"No, but he is." Pinkie pointed towards Iron Will, who was standing on top of the black goat that was on top of the bridge.

They both walked over to him while I stayed near the door of Fluttershy's cottage.

"Iron Will's my name, training ponies is my game." He announced with a thumbs up.

There was a pause as Pinkie and Rarity tried to understand what he just meant.

"What a darling little catchphrase." Rarity expressed.

"Your friend Fluttershy loved Iron Will's catchphrases. Word on the street is that she doesn't take no guff from nopony! So, Iron Will is here to collect Iron Will's fee." He stated and began making his way up here.

"Fluttershy is in no shape to deal with that creep!" Pinkie told Rarity.

Rarity took in a breath as she began running after Iron Will. "I'm sure a big, brave, powerful and rich monster- I mean, minotaur, like you, doesn't need that money right away. You can afford to come back later."

"Are you kidding? Fluttershy is overdue as it is. Iron Will collects now." He grabbed Rarity's horn and placed her over a bush, dropping her there. I growled and took a defensive stance in front of the door as he was right in front of me. "Get out of the way!"

"No!" I boldly refused.

Just before he was about to make a move, Pinkie Pie quickly intervened.

"We're not even sure Fluttershy is home right now." He grabbed her and held her up to move her out of the way. "Uh, she might be off frolicking with some woodland creatures, uh, why don't you give us some time to track her down for ya?"

He then released her. "Iron Will does have some grocery shopping to do…" He pulled out a list and carried a small white basket with his left arm. "Iron Will will come back this evening!"

"But that's only half a day. We need one full day at least." Pinkie argued.

"Iron Will will delay for half a day and no longer!"

"A full day!" Pinkie now began her method of asserting.

"Half day!"

"Full day!"

"Half day!"

"Half day!"

"Full day!"

"We need half a day and no more!" Pinkie shouted as she jumped in the air.

"Well you'll get a full day and no less!" Iron Will caught her by the tail and responded as well.

"Okie dokie. See you tomorrow." Pinkie Pie cheerfully replied as she walked on air.

"Wait, what?" Iron Will questioned, confused, and lowered Pinkie.

Then, we suddenly heard Fluttershy sneeze inside.

"Huh, sounds like the search won't be necessary. Iron Will collects now." He stood in front of me, ready to strike, but Pinkie intervened again.

"But we had an agreement! You gotta come back tomorrow!"

" 'When somepony tries to block, show them that you rock!' " Iron Will stated and grabbed Pinkie, throwing her off the hill and into a mud puddle.

I felt my blood boil and immediately charged directly at him, wanting to protect Fluttershy. I tried pushing him away with my body, but he merely grabbed me and threw me against the wooden railing. I grunted as I felt the impact on my body. He then grabbed all the wooden boards and threw them away. "Your payment is overdue, Fluttershy!" He raised his fist, as if he was about to strike down the door, but he actually just knocked lightly. Fluttershy opened the door and came out as we stared in suspense. Iron Will snorted and began speaking. "You were nothing but a doormat, and Iron Will turned you into a lean, mean, assertive machine!" He created those ridiculous reflex moves again… "Now, pay Iron Will what you owe Iron Will!"

"Um, no." Fluttershy frankly responded.

My jaw almost completely dropped from that.

"What did you say?" He asked in an intimidating way.

Fluttershy didn't look scared. She didn't look timid. She just looked him right in the eye. "No."

"Ohhh, I'd hate to be you right now," He replied as he bended the wood with anger. "Because Iron Will is gonna to rain down a world of hurt unless Iron Will gets his money pronto!"

As he snorted, Fluttershy only returned a determined and challenging look as she began to create a response. "As I recall, during your workshop you promised one hundred percent satisfaction guaranteed, or you pay nothing." She stated as she walked over to me to help me. "Well, I'm not satisfied." She boldly glanced over at him.

"What do you mean you're not satisfied? Everypony has always been satisfied!"

"Well I guess I'm the first then." She responded as she helped me up. "But since I'm not satisfied, I refuse to pay." She wrapped her hoof around mine. "It's as simple as that." I could only stare at Fluttershy in silence as she was being so…amazing…

Fluttershy stood right by my side as she continued to face Iron Will in a bold manner. He returned a surprised look. The two goats of his joined him in a circle talk about what to do with the situation he was in. After several seconds of their bleating, they glanced back at us (but mostly at Fluttershy), and then returned to their bleating.

"Ohh, are you... sure you're not just a little bit satisfied?" He asked as he rubbed his head and then began to mess with his tie nervously. "B-because maybe... we could, cut a deal, I-I mean, we're both reasonable creatures, aren't we?"

"I'm sorry, but no means no." Fluttershy clearly and boldly stated.

"No means no, huh?" The black goat began carrying him. "Nopony's ever said that to me before. Huh... I gotta remember that one. That's a good catchphrase for my next workshop." He grabbed the white basket from the white goat and soon was on his way out of here.

Rarity and Pinkie Pie immediately rushed over to us.

"You were amazing, Fluttershy! You totally stood up to that monster!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed as they both held out their hooves to hug Fluttershy.

"In fact, you didn't change at all! You were the same old Fluttershy that we've always loved!" Rarity added.

"The one we've missed!" Pinkie included.

"Don't worry, old Fluttershy's back for good. I'm sorry I took the whole assertiveness thing too far. Friends?" She offered.

The two of them returned teary eyes, but of joy this time. "Friends!"

They hugged each other, giggling as well as I could only smile warmly at the scene. Fluttershy lightly pulled away from them and faced me. "Um…" She announced, almost a little shyly, as she blushed. "…girlfriend…?"

I didn't even answer her. I returned a lovingly look and grabbed her hooves. Suddenly, I planted my lips on her passionately with my eyes closed. She remained surprised for a moment, but then closed her eyes as well as she held my hooves tightly. There's the spark...

"Aww!" I could hear Pinkie and Rarity express.

After a moment, I pulled away from the kiss and continue to gaze at her. "Of course."

When Pinkie Pie and Rarity left, now happily resolved of the problem, it was night time. I stayed with Fluttershy longer to be with the old self that I missed so dearly. I was on the couch as she began to prepare to feed her animals dinner.

"Hey, Alex…" She spoke.

"Uh-huh?" I answered.

"Do you mind if you write a letter for me to take to Twilight so she can send it to the Princess?"

I smiled warmly. "Sure." I found a spare piece of paper around and a pencil. I placed the pencil in my mouth and was ready to write.

Fluttershy smiled and closed her eyes to begin speaking. "Dear Princess Celestia, sometimes it can be hard for a shy pony like me to stand up for myself, and when I first tried it, I didn't like the pony I became." Fluttershy began placing food in the animals' bowls as she continued talking. "But I've learned that standing up for yourself isn't the same as changing who you are. Now I know how to put my hoof down without being unpleasant, or mean." She stood with the box of food below her, looking at me.

I nodded. "That was fantastic. I rolled up the paper. However we noticed Angel begin his tantrum again. He crossed his paws and pushed away the delicious salad Fluttershy made for him. Fluttershy then narrowed her eyes at him, in her own cute way. Angel jumped in the air and pounded his feet angrily. Fluttershy then used her signature move, The Stare, and immediately caused Angel to widen his eyes and try a piece of cucumber. He flinched and looked away, thinking it was actually going to taste bad…but he realized he was wrong. He smiled brightly and began chomping down on the salad in the bowl.

Fluttershy, then looked at me again as I returned a look of accomplishment towards her.

"Well… I guess I better leave you to finish taking care of your animals." I spoke as I stood up.

"Mmk." Fluttershy walked over to me and looked at me for a moment. Then, she slowly, but meaningfully, placed her forelegs around me, as well as even her wings. I slightly widened my eyes, but she shut them when she planted a very passionate kiss on my lips. After several seconds, I looked at her lovingly and smiled. "Goodnight, Alex. I love you."

I nodded. "Goodnight, Fluttershy. I love you too."

With that kept with her and me, I left her home happy and loved, carrying the letter in my mouth.

I passed by Twilight's house to drop the letter off. I knocked on her door lightly, as I could still see the lights on in the tree. She opened the door after a moment.

"Hey, Alex."

"Hey, Twilight." I grabbed the letter from my mouth and presented it to her. "Here. Fluttershy wrote this letter to the Princess."

"Really?" She questioned, quite surprised. "What happened today?"

I chuckled lightly. "Something you'd probably never believe…"

She giggled. "Well I'll find out somehow. Anyways, I better let you go to bed. You look pretty tired."

"Heh… I guess I am…"

She sent a smile with her eyes closed and then wished me a goodnight. "Goodnight, Alex."

"Goodnight, Twilight."

After, I left towards home.

I then began becoming comfortable in my bed. I smiled as I closed my eyes.

I know that that was almost like a fight between Fluttershy and me… but somehow from that… I could feel our bond grow even stronger…

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