• Published 12th Jan 2013
  • 5,552 Views, 144 Comments

Contact - MyOwnNameWasTaken



How Rainbow Dash seems upset at the prospect of a hooficure -- even for health reasons! Fluttershy tries to help -- and uncovers a shocking secret.

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5 - Recovery

“So, Fluttershy... how do we do this?”

“I think we should start with your back; that’ll keep your wings free for now. Just lie down on your stomach and spread out your wings to either side.”

“OK, I can do that,” said Rainbow, lying down on the folded coverlet. It was still warm from the two of them lying on it earlier. “Do you want my wings more up or dow -- oof!”

“Either is fine. You’ll have to adjust them as we work, anyway.”

“Um, Fluttershy.... Isn’t the massager --”

“Oh, it’s masseuse. Or masseur if the pony's a stallion.”

“Where’d you get a fancy name like that?”

“I think it comes from Prance.”

“Whatever. Isn’t the ‘masseuse’ supposed to be off to one side or something?”

“Normally, yes,” said Fluttershy, straddling Rainbow’s hips and settling her rump on her friend’s dock, “but things get a just a teensy bit trickier when you’ve got wings. This really is the best way to work on a pegasus in the flare position. But, um, I can sit to one side if you want, only I won’t be able to work both wings together....”

“Well, whatever works best, I guess,” replied Rainbow, a little embarrassed. “I’m just glad Gabby Gums and her spy-cameras got retired.”

She felt Fluttershy shudder. “Oh, please don’t remind me! Now lie still,” she continued, gently feeling her hooves up Rainbow’s spine, moving from her lower back to the base of her skull.

“I thought you said a massage involved a lot of pressure?”

“Oh, I’m just getting my bearings. It -- it doesn’t tickle, does it?” asked Fluttershy, suddenly freezing in tense anxiety.

Trust me, Fluttershy: if it does, I’ll let you know!”

“Oh, good. Now, if you could take a deep breath and then let it all out, please?” asked Fluttershy sweetly, putting both her hooves on Rainbow’s lower back.

This stuff is more complicated than I thought, mused Rainbow. Still, she took in a deep breath and --

A disturbingly loud POP! sounded as Fluttershy depressed her spine.

“Whoa! What was that?!” gasped Rainbow, bounding to her hooves in panic.

“Eeek!” yelped Fluttershy, hanging on for dear life. “Calm down, Rainbow! You had a few misaligned vertebrae; I just pushed them back into place, that’s all!”

“But I felt something move! Inside!!

“Yes, I moved them back to where they were supposed to be. Correct spinal alignment is very important, especially for a sporty pony like you! Haven’t you felt your back getting stiff lately? Like you always want to crack it to relieve some pressure?”

“Actually... yeah, I guess, now that you mention it,” admitted Rainbow. She had been feeling a bit stiff, especially just below the wings....

“Well, most of that should be fixed now,” Fluttershy assured her. “Although,” she added, wiggling her hindquarters a little, “it feels as though your hips are a little off, too. We’ll have to adjust those later -- I can’t do it from this position. Right now, we’ll walk up the rest of your spine, and then move back down working on your muscles.”

“ ‘Walk up?’ Uh... OK.... Y-you know best....” Rainbow settled back down on the coverlet. She was a little surprised by how collected her friend was. Fluttershy had been a little hesitant while suggesting this whole massage thing, but now that they were into it, she was quite forward and, well, authoritative. She wasn’t usually this confident.

I guess she just knows what she’s doing. That would make you more confident, right? Gee, I sure hope she knows what she’s doing....

After Fluttershy had moved up her spine, making a few additional adjustments, and coaxed a disturbingly musical assortment of cracks and pops out of her neck, it was time for the muscles. Rainbow found it unexpectedly educational.

A few months ago, she had borrowed a collection of books on sports training from Twilight, hoping to learn some new techniques. One book had been a study of pony anatomy, but she had not been able to get much out of it. Twilight liked her charts big and busy, but Rainbow got lost in them. She was used to working out her routines using the feel of her body as it moved through each stage. Trying to match that intuitive sense to complex charts in a book had been more trouble than it was worth.

But with Fluttershy running her hooves along each muscle group, naming individual muscles as she picked them out, it all began to make sense to Rainbow. She was surprised at how many of the book’s complicated names she could remember.

She was also surprised at the sad state her body seemed to be in. Fluttershy’s probing hooves teased out sore spots and tender tendons wherever they went, finding them in places Rainbow didn’t even know she had!

“I’m always careful to stretch,” she protested.

“Always?”

“Well, almost always....”

“And you push yourself very hard as well, Rainbow -- but don’t worry. We’ll get you all sorted out.”

And she was. Fluttershy worked like a mass cloud-clearing, leaving nothing in her wake. She patiently worked down Rainbow's back and along both outer and inner wing surfaces, smoothing out every kink and knot she could find. Then she slid off to one side and straightened out Rainbow’s hips by twisting her hindquarters through a convoluted pattern that Rainbow would have sworn only Blossomforth could manage.

“Now, Rainbow, normally you’d lie on your back for the rest of this, but if it bothers you to have your wings pinned under you, I suppose you could lie on your side and I could do one flank at a time....”

“Well...” Rainbow craned her neck around and gazed at her wings, flapping them once. Then, with a sudden movement, she folded them tightly up, favouring her friend with a determined look. “What the hay. Let’s just do it the normal way.”

She rolled over quickly on her back, refusing to give herself enough time to reconsider. The floor felt surprisingly comfortable -- but then her back had not felt this loose in ages; that probably had something to do with it. Fluttershy squatted down on her hindquarters next to Rainbow and started working down her neck.

Rainbow twiddled her hooves absently. Part of her field of vision was taken up by Fluttershy, but she was busy concentrating on the massage, so Rainbow let her gaze drift past her and follow the contours of the ceiling. She shifted her back against the floor; decided that she didn’t feel too nervous.

“Hey, Fluttershy,” she said, “I gotta admit, this whole massage thing feels a lot better than I thought it would.”

“Oh, I’m so glad!” Fluttershy gushed happily. “Massages have so many benefits, especially for active ponies like you -- or Applejack, for that matter! Do you know she often goes to the spa? She’s not really into perms or facials, but they offer a whole set of massage services, and after a long week of farm-work, they’re just the thing to relax all those bunched-up muscles. Maybe the two of you could go together sometime?”

“Huh. I guess we could.” She give Fluttershy a tentative smile.

“Now brace yourself,” said Fluttershy, sliding her forehooves over Rainbow’s collarbone and positioning them at the top of her chest, on either side of the sternum, “I’m going to have to get a bit rough.”

“ ‘Rough?’ What for?”

“It’s time to work on your pectoral muscles,” she answered, suddenly shifting nearly all of her weight onto her forelegs and twisting her hooves to dig deep into the muscle. Then, with a small grunt of effort that somehow still managed to sound elegant, she parted her hooves and slid them down along either side of Rainbow’s ribcage, from the breastbone right to the base of the wings, keeping the pressure constant all the way down.

Rainbow’s eyes went wide; she felt her spine arch beneath and her hind legs kick the air reflexively. She sprawled back limply on the floor as Fluttershy reached the end of the stroke.

“Oh, wow,” Rainbow gasped in shocked surprise, as Fluttershy caressingly slid her hooves back up her friend’s chest, repositioning again on either side of the sternum, a half-hoof down from the previous position.

“H-hang on, are you going do... that all the way dowww--” Her sentence gave way to another gasp as Fluttershy’s hooves answered the question for her. Rainbow’s head slumped backwards on the coverlet as she ran her forehooves through her mane.

Sweet Celestia! How can something that hurts so much feel so good at the same time?!

“I did say it was a little trickier with wings,” said Fluttershy apologetically, repositioning again. “We pegasus ponies have all the -- hnnnffff -- muscles that unicorns and earth ponies have, but we also -- hnnnffff -- have an additional set of muscles to work -- hnnnffff -- our wings, and it just so happens that the avian -- hnnnffff -- pectoralis muscles overlay the equine ones -- hnnnffff -- with the supracoracoideus muscle, which -- hnnnffff -- creates the wing upstroke, lying right between them, so we -- hnnnffff -- need an awful lot of pressure to loosen up the -- hnnnffff -- lower muscle strata, especially in your case, since your -- hnnnffff -- wing musculature is so well-developed!

“There,” gasped Fluttershy, pausing to wipe the sweat from her brow with the back of one foreleg, “did you get all that, or.... Um, Rainbow?”

Rainbow lay somewhat askew on the floor before her, tongue lolling out and eyes counter-rotating in her head.

“Y-yeah,” Rainbow panted dazedly, “pecs get in the way -- n-need pressure. G-got it.” She shook her head to straighten out her eyes.

“How do you feel?”

“Well...” Rainbow shifted around experimentally and was immediately ‘rewarded’ with a virtual symphony of shooting aches and pains reverberating up and down her ribcage. She shuddered involuntarily, which only made it worse, before slumping limply back against the floor.

“I think the word is ‘sore’,” she groaned. “B-but not in a bad way! It’s like... all those aches you get after a really hard workout. Sure, it hurts, but... I don’t know, it makes you feel alive. Like you can feel every muscle, you know? Oh! Owww...” she groaned as another set of aches ran through her.

“I’m afraid it’s the only way to reach the deeply-buried muscles; the upper layer gets pretty sore. But now that we’ve loosened the underlying strata, we can focus on your outer pectorals and soothe all those aches away,” cooed Fluttershy reassuringly, moving back to the top of Rainbow’s ribcage to gently knead her traumatised muscles.

“I -- I’m not stopping you,” moaned Rainbow blissfully, as she felt all her aches progressively fade under her friend’s expert touch. Whoever said that it was the earth ponies who had their magic in their hooves never met Fluttershy, she decided.

“...Fluttershy, I don’t think I ever would have tried anything like this if it hadn’t been for you,” she admitted, “ so... thanks.”

Her friend blushed a little and dropped her gaze. “Oh, you’re very welcome, Rainbow,” she said, “but you don’t need to thank me. To be completely honest, this isn’t... entirely selfless.”

“Huh?”

Fluttershy gave Rainbow a shy glance from within her flowing mane. “Promise you won’t laugh?”

“Uh, OK...?”

“To tell you the truth,” she explained, not taking her eyes off her work, “I’ve wanted to get my hooves on you for a long time.”

Rainbow blinked twice.

“It’s just,” Fluttershy continued hurriedly, “you’re so strong and so well-built -- it’s silly, but to an under-powered pony like me... I suppose I’m a little envious. Every part of you is so firm and toned,” she added admiringly.

And every part of you is silky and soft, Rainbow added silently. She looked away toward the ceiling, and then back at her forehooves, feeling a little awkward. She pressed her hooves together and sighed.

“Fluttershy, I’m... I’m always pushing you around or dragging you off places.... I don’t mean to upset you or anything, it’s just -- I don’t want you to miss out on stuff, I guess. We don’t -- don’t do that much together, so....” She looked away. “I’m sorry if it bothers you.”

“Oh, you know, Rainbow, I don’t mind that much. It is a little unsettling when you drag me off somewhere, but I can be a little shy, and a bit of a homebody, so I probably would miss out on a lot of things if I didn’t occasionally get a little push out the door.

“But no more dragons,” she added in a voice suddenly grown hard, skewering Rainbow with a withering stare.

“No more dragons!” Rainbow agreed desperately, holding up her forelegs to shield herself from her friend’s dreadful gaze. “I got the message, I promise! Pinkie-Promise, even!”

“Oh, good,” the once-again sweet and mild Fluttershy sighed with visible relief, moving off Rainbow’s abdomen and onto a hind leg.

“At any rate,” she continued, “I think I’m awfully lucky to have friends that want me to be the most I can be, even if it does mean pushing me out of my comfort zone... once in a while. So don’t worry about it.”

“Fluttershy... all this stuff -- I’ve never talked about it with any pony before, ever. Or let any pony just... do things to me. It, uh.... You help me be the most I can be.” Rainbow winced to hear her own words, pressing a hoof against her face in embarrassment. “Ugh, that sounds really sappy, but I mean it! Only I... don’t know how to say it right.”

Fluttershy favoured her with a small smile. Neither pony spoke as she finished working on Rainbow’s legs. Finally, she laid the last leg down onto the coverlet and gently slid one hoof back along Rainbow’s body to rest it on her chest.

“I didn’t do any work on your head this time, but aside from that, that’s more-or-less what a massage is like. How do you feel?”

Rainbow twisted back and forth and rolled out from under her friend’s hoof. Lying on her side, she flicked her tail up over her head, caught in it her forehooves, and pulled. Tilting her head back, she nearly managed to touch her nose to her dock. She let go of her tail and twisted onto her stomach, unfurling her wings. A quick snap sent her soaring, and she slithered through an extremely sinuous figure-eight and a tight cork-screw twist before coming to hover before Fluttershy.

“Did you see that?!” she laughed excitedly. “I’ve never been able to do anything that tight before! Heh, watch your flank, Blossomforth, Rainbow Dash is coming! Everything just feels so... fluid! I-I really needed that, and I didn’t even know! Thanks, Fluttershy!”

“You’re welcome, Rainbow, I’m glad it helped....” Fluttershy opened her mouth, as though she intended to add something more, but then seemed to hesitate.

This did not go unnoticed by Rainbow Dash. “What is it?”

“I was thinking, if that massage made you feel better, there’s... oh, but I’m not sure it’s such a good idea....”

“It can’t hurt just to hear it, right? Spit it out, and we’ll see.”

“There’s another type of massage we could try, only, it’s a... hoof massage,” she finished in an undertone.

“Oh,” said Rainbow uneasily, fore and hind hooves reflexively drawing into one another.

“The masseuse uses the tip of one hoof to apply gentle kneading pressure on a number of target points, called 'reflexes', in the soles of the recipient’s hooves,” explained Fluttershy as she demonstrated using her own forehooves. “Each reflex is supposed to correspond to a part of the body -- Twilight wasn’t too sure about how verifiable that was, but it really does help the recipient relax. Only of course, in your case, it would have... unpleasant side-effects.

“Rainbow, you react badly to other ponies touching your hooves because you associate the sensation to what that terrible foalsitter did to you when you were little. I thought, if we could just link something more pleasant to that feeling, it would help you overcome your problem.”

Fluttershy shook her head, clearly distressed. “Oh, but I don’t know if it really works that way! What if it makes things worse? Or just makes you feel awful? I’ve put you through enough today already!”

Rainbow drifted down to alight at Fluttershy’s side and put a hoof on her shoulder. “Hey, come on. You couldn’t know; I never told anypony. And you sure made up for it after! Don’t beat yourself up over that.” She sighed, let her foreleg slide off her friend’s shoulder, and walked off a few paces before sitting down on her haunches. She looked down at her forehooves.

“But I don’t know about this hoof massage thing either, Fluttershy.” She dropped her forehooves down and pressed then against the floor. “It’s... well, it’s kinda scary.” Rainbow was not one to admit fear readily, but she didn’t mind this time; she knew Fluttershy would understand.

“Hey,” answered Fluttershy, “close your wings and dive, right?”

Rainbow stared at her. Fluttershy smiled shyly and gave a timid shrug. Rainbow turned her face away. After a moment, her shoulders began to tremble.

“Rainbow?” asked Fluttershy, clearly anxious that she’d said the wrong thing.

Rainbow burst out laughing. She fell over backwards, rolling back and forth on the floor, clutching at her abdomen. For a long time, she simply could not stop.

“Aw, heck,” she gasped, still smiling, when she could speak again, “it’s what I do best, isn’t it?”

Fluttershy, who had been smiling, sobered suddenly.

“But listen, Rainbow: the thing about a dive is that you can pull out of it whenever you want. You don’t have to go all the way. I think... I think you feel you always need to prove yourself, to every pony you meet, every time you meet. You have so much potential, and you set such high goals for yourself -- and whenever you reach a new level, you set your sights even higher. I’ve always admired that about you. But you should do that for your own sake, not because... because you’re worried everypony will forget everything you’ve already done if you don’t keep coming up with new tricks!

“...Do you remember when we first met?”

“Sure I do.”

Fluttershy caught Rainbow’s gaze in her own.

“You’ve already proven yourself to me, Rainbow Dash. You don’t need to do it again. You can never fall in my eyes; only rise higher. And... you’re so good at that.”

Rainbow felt herself blush deeply. She looked away, nervously rubbing a forehoof against the opposite leg.

“I wasn’t trying to impress anypony,” she mumbled.

“I know. That’s why it did impress.”

“...Wow, Fluttershy. When did you get so forward?

“I-I did take an assertiveness course.... Is it too much?”

“No, it’s cool. It’s just, I think -- no, I know -- that’s the... the nicest thing any pony’s ever told me... and I, uh, I can’t come up with anything to say.”

“You don’t have to say anything, Rainbow. That was my point.”

“Aw, but that feels like short-changing you somehow....” She rubbed a foreleg over her eyes, swallowing hard. “Sorry, I’m mushing out a lot today, aren’t I? I just -- give me a minute....”

“...Would you like a glass of water?” Fluttershy asked tactfully. “There’s still a bit of that raincloud left.” Even Rainbow Dash could tell she was offering her some time alone without Rainbow having to ask for it.

“Yeah, I'd like that,” answered Rainbow with a grateful smile. “M-my throat is kinda dry.”

“I’ll be back in a little while,” added Fluttershy gently as she exited the room.

Rainbow’s tears began to fall the moment her friend had left. She wiped them away, only for more to well up in their place. But she was still smiling, because it didn’t hurt this time, it didn’t hurt at all, for it seemed Fluttershy didn’t mind all the awkwardness or the silences or the hang-ups or the shoving -- and the sheer relief of knowing that meant more to Rainbow than she could ever put into words.

She felt herself being nudged gently, and turned to find Tank standing there with a concerned expression on his small features. She picked him up and held him tightly.

“You always come and find me when I need you, don’t you?” laughed Rainbow through her tears. “But I’m not sad, you know? I’m glad! Real, real glad. I thought I’d lost her, Tank. I thought I was losing her and that I’d just smashed whatever was left, and I didn’t, and I wasn’t, and it’s all cool and... and I’m so happy, but I can’t stop crying. How freaky is that, huh?”

She clung to Tank for a long while. Everything in a cloud house was soft-textured and slightly yielding; even the new flooring was only semi-rigid. Rainbow liked the feel of the firm, rough shape of Tank’s shell, with its hard edges digging lightly into her flesh. It was oddly comforting.

“You know, Tank,” she reflected, “before you moved in, I don’t think I ever really noticed how empty this house can feel. Sometimes, it’s like... well, it’s all vapour, you know? I mean, that’s normal for a Cloudsdale house, and pegasus ponies can walk on clouds, but sometimes it just... feels a bit unreal. It’s nice to have something solid to hold onto....”