• Published 13th Apr 2013
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When Kindness Met Hatred - Dramapony



Fluttershy tells the story of her brother, and the family that rejected him.

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Chapter 4: The Family Reunion

Chapter Four: The Family Reunion

As Rainbow Dash and I ascended to Cloudsdale the next morning, an ensemble of questions danced around my head. Why do they want to see me now? Why were they so cruel to Mockingbird, but sounding so nice in the letter? Do they know how much pain they have already caused me in just a few days? Above all else, I couldn't stop thinking about how I would react to seeing my father. He turned so cold-hearted and violent, he ended up hurting somepony I love very dearly—that he loves very dearly. Since he was family, I wasn't sure whether to feel either angry or calm.

I started wondering if my parents had changed much since I last saw them, or how much home has changed. What did they do with my old bedroom? Do they still have pictures of me on the wall? Are they aware of the amazing things, that I've seen and accomplished with my friends? I was still able to remember so much about them.

My father, Barrister, has always been a pretty strict stallion. Hard working, competitive, and very devoted to his beliefs. He was the kind of pegasus who would do anything to get what he wanted, without letting anything get in his way. Father always expected a lot from all of us to achieve greatness in the highest ways possible. A standard that I was never able to fully live up to.

My mother, April Shower, was somewhat different. A very intelligent mare, and very beautiful too, she was always the nurturing kind who told us we were loved every day. A lot of ponies said that I take strongly after her. Sweet, sensitive, and caring. Whenever I was around Mother, I always felt loved.

Ever since I left them, I haven't thought too much about going back. I always knew that I wouldn't have been welcomed, but for some reason, I still loved and cared about the family I left behind. I realized, however, that the invitation I received the previous night gave me an excellent opportunity to convince them to reconcile with Mockingbird.

Maybe that's the reason why I decided to go to brunch. Maybe I felt a great urge to bring us all together once more. We could've revived so many more wonderful memories of camping, holidays, and vacations to Las Pegasus every summer. There would still be room for more in the years to come. Oh, I thought It would've been so wonderful to be a family again. If only I knew.

After making our morning commute through the bustling and congested streets of Cloudsdale, we finally arrived at 4, Cloud Drive, my old home. As I have predicted, the outside of the house still looked the same. The large two in a half story castle-like building, that was sculpted from pure cumulus, towered against Celestia's sun. Two rows of four stained glass windows, painted red, looked out into the clear blue sky. The front yard stretched out for about ten yards up to the edge of its cloud island.

The sight alone, brought back so much.

***

Our little selves frolicked around the cloud yard on a golden autumn afternoon. Me and my brother's giggles and carefree spirits brightened the already gleaming city in the sky. The small colt swooshed out an imaginary sword, protecting me.

"Aargh! Back I say, ye scalawags! If ye lay one hoof on me sissy, I shall have yer booty!" he commanded in a fake swashbuckler tone.

I backed off timidly. "Um, Mockingbird? Maybe we shouldn't be playing pirates if you're going to threaten anypony... if that's okay with you, of course." I insisted to my little brother.

He broke character, rolling his eyes. "Fluttershy, I'm trying to protect you from the sailors of Gilda, The Evil Griffin Pirate! How am I supposed to save you, and claim the treasure of Candy Island, if I don't fight like a pirate?"

"Oh, well, I just don't want to cause any trouble or fighting, that's all. I don't want to see you get hurt."

"Flutters, you don't have to worry about that. I'll be proud to protect you no matter what."

"R-really?"

"Of course! That's what brothers and sisters do!"

***

How young and innocent we were then. I cherished our days of playtime, when we went on imaginary adventures to far off places. It was a wonderful chance for me to get away from my reality of being isolated at school. I would've loved to go back to those days and be a kid again. Growing up and seeing the world for what it really is can be so hard.

"Shall we?" Rainbow asked. I snapped out of my day dream. I didn't know what to expect from this gathering. How would they treat me? Were they still furious? Would I have even been glad to make this appointment? I was about to find out.

"Y-Yes, let's," I said, quietly.

After making our way down the front path, we arrived at the door. After about half a minute of trying to control my shaking hoof, I rang the doorbell. The tiny button produced a loud, but melodic, chime. Almost immediately after, we were welcomed by a middle-aged mare.

She was about my height, her coat a very rich butter yellow. She had a pair of lime green eyes. Her radiant flaxen red mane showered past her front shoulders like a waterfall. Her cutie mark was a triplet of tiny raindrops, descending from a grey cloud. She smiled brightly as I was wrapped in her tight embrace.

"Oh, Fluttershy, sweetheart, it's been so long," my mother joyfully cooed next to my ear. Her hugs were always the warmest. How I've missed them so much. She broke off from me, turned to Rainbow Dash and repeated the loving gesture. "And, Rainbow Dash, it's so lovely that you could make it."

Dash rolled her eyes to me and unraveled her tongue from her mouth, as if to make a gagging noise. I gently shook my head in disapproval, signaling her to drop it before Mom had a chance to let go.

I tried my best to give my warmest smile possible. "Um, hello, Mom. How are you?"

She clapped her hooves together. "Wonderful. We have to catch up with you. I imagine you have loads to share with us. My baby girl is finally home! Please, come inside, you two."

Rainbow and I did as we were told, while mom shut the door behind us. I was almost blinded by the shining, all white, interior of the house. Specks of sun ray peeped through small holes in the ceiling. A winding staircase thrusted out in front of the main entrance. A series of family pictures covered every wall of the downstairs corridors. Memories of each birthday, vacation, holiday, graduation, and other special occasions were documented in each golden frame.

"Barrister, honey, the girls are here!" Mother called upstairs. An elder stallion exited from the second floor washroom and descended the steps. My father looked very similar to Mockingbird, except he was much taller and his jet black mane was powdered with white from aging. A pair of thick, black squared, eyeglasses rested on his muzzle in front of his citrus orange eyes. He wore a deep blue suit jacket that came down to his flank; which was tattooed with an off-balance scale of justice cutie mark.

Upon seeing me, he revealed his yellowing teeth with a smile. "Fluttershy, my girl. Welcome home!" He inevitably came up and gave me a small hug, with a pat on my shoulder.

"H-Hi, Dad," I stuttered.

He turned to Rainbow and gave her an even tighter embrace. "Ah, Rainbow Dash, toughest mare in Cloudsdale! Finally, I get to see you again."

My friend kept a straight face and nodded. "Uh, yeah. Hi, Mister Barrister. It's good to see you too." Her pupils were floating away to another corner on the ceiling, making it obvious that she didn't want any contact with him.

I breathed deeply and smiled. "So, um, I like what you did with the place. You kept it looking so pretty."

Mother blushed at my compliment. "Honey, that is so sweet of you. But It has all been the same since you were last here."

Father nodded in agreement. "Exactly right, April. We never changed. We are still the lucky parents of a young and beautiful mare, we still bring in our splendid fortunes from our careers, and we still live in this lovely home." He waved his hoof around with a prideful smile.

"You sure like being consistent, don't you?" Rainbow Dash mumbled to herself.

"What was that, dear?" Mom asked.

"Nothing," Dash replied, turning her head to observe the stair railing.

I cleared my throat. "Well, I'm certainly glad to be back as a guest."

"A guest?" Dad asked. "Fluttershy, you know you are welcomed here anytime. You are still in this family, so don't you think any differently."

I wanted to thank him for being so sweet, but that wasn't enough to make me forget my mixed feelings. Rainbow Dash started looking at me like she noticed something odd. Something doesn't seem right with their behavior, was the non-verbal message she sent me. I felt like agreeing.

Father turned to Mom. "April, is the table all set for brunch?"

"Oh, yes, I know the girls will love what we have for them," she returned with a nod. They lead us into the living room on the left.

This was probably the least void room in the whole house. Two large sofas, made of cloud, sat facing each other on the sides of a long coffee table in the center. The setting was assorted with homemade and grown fruits, vegetables, bagels, danishes, cinnamon buns, orange juice and coffee. Mom has done it again.

A crystal chandelier dangled from the ceiling, reflecting off the shimmer of the glowing sun through the windows. The shelves on the walls were occupied with more old photographs of me and Mockingbird. All the pictures were arranged in chronological order, as if to make a timeline that watched us grow over the years.

Except I noticed that all the pictures with Mockingbird had his face cut out, leaving a dark hole over his own past. Were my parents really trying that hard to forget him? They were acting all happy like his coming out never even happened.

***

Dad escorted us to a registration booth. "Okay, kids, I hope you two have a great first summer at flight camp!"

I glanced up to my father with big and begging eyes. "B-But, Daddy, what if the other fillies don't like me?"

"Of course they'll like you, Fluttershy. You come from an amazing family with Mommy and Daddy, and you have your brother here to protect you." He turned to his little colt with a wink. "Isn't that right, Mockingbird?"

He saluted Father like a soldier following an order. "Yes, Daddy! Nothing bad will ever happen to my sis!"

"That's my boy! Just remember that no matter how far away we are from each other, Mommy and Daddy will love you both very much."

***

Even I'll admit it, the first hour of the brunch was kind of boring. My parents had the upper hoof in the conversation as they went on and on about all the court cases Dad won, Mom's projects in the Rain Department of the Cloudsdale Weather Factory, the number of expensive trips they took, or how they were thinking of renovating the house. They never brought Mockingbird up once. Did they even remember that they had a son at all?

Rainbow Dash and I remained seated in the plush couch across from them. Our only activity while listening to their stories was taking random nibbles at some food, forcing down the bitter tasting coffee past my throat and putting on an occasional smile and nod whenever they wanted us to agree with them. It was great to hear that they were doing well, but the whole time I felt this mysterious urge to speak up.

My brain kept reminding me of how I told Mockingbird that I would go speak to them and try to persuade them a little. My thoughts were rehearsing this speech on repeat. My heart was in the right place. For the first time in my life, I actually wanted to lead a conversation. But the opportunity didn't come.

I know what you're probably thinking right now: why couldn't I just interrupt them? Um, yes, I suppose I could've done that, but that just sounds so rude. Mother always taught me to let others finish talking before you speak, so I wasn't going to disrespect her like that. Especially when they invited me over themselves.

Finally, after Dad finished up his last story, he gave me my chance. "So, Fluttershy, it's been a whole four years since we last saw or spoke with you. Tell us, what exactly have you been doing with your life?"

Oh, dear, now I couldn't speak at all. The moment I have the floor and I go blank. What have I been doing with my life? I could've told him so much. About how I made so many wonderful friends and all of my unforgettable adventures with them. Memories that I have permanently sewn to my heart, to never forget until the day I die.

But no, Instead, I said the only thing that could come to mind. "I've been living a very nice life in Ponyville. I now work as the town's official animal caretaker." I nervously smiled, even though I knew he wouldn't be pleased.

The stallion rolled his eyes. "Oh, I see. Still throwing your life away on a bunch of filthy vermin with earth ponies?"

With an offended gasp, I was surprisingly quick to react. "What? My animals are not filthy. They are all very sweet little critters, who—"

Father raised a hoof, and I stopped. There I go being a push over again. "Fluttershy, do you remember why we asked you to move out?" That day was a terrible memory. A memory that I succeeded in erasing from my mind, up until that moment. I just shook my head, knowing that there was no way to avoid it.

He continued. "You had so much at your hooves. True, you never had the skills to get into the advanced flight academy on your own, but you were lucky enough that I had ties for your acceptance. You could've improved so much as a flier and learned to assert yourself for competition. A successful life was waiting right there for you. Instead, you denied all of those wonderful opportunities to live like some lowly life hippie near the forest. We gave, and gave, and gave, but you never appreciated it. You turned down your only opportunity to be great. Animals do not lead to greatness, Fluttershy."

I lowered my head. My eyes started to feel very moist and salty. Was any of that really necessary?

"Hey, Fluttershy doesn't need your approval to know that she's great!" I jumped to see that Rainbow Dash was aggressively hovering over my dad, jotting a hoof at him.

He arched a brow. "Oh, and how is that so, Rainbow Dash?"

"If you've kept in touch with her, you would've known." Dash gestured to me. "She has scolded a full-grown dragon, won a staring match against a cockatrice, tamed a cerberus, saved the pegasus tornado last year, and reformed the god of chaos! What else do you want from your only daughter?"

It was very sweet what Rainbow was doing for me, but I could tell that she was unintentionally daring him to argue—A challenge he could not resist. Father was the kind who wanted to be right about everything; they didn't nickname him 'The Iron Barrister' for nothing. He would even go as far as to use the scary tactic of shouting, mudslinging and name calling just to get his point across. Was he very intimidating? Yes, but I still loved him. At least, I think I did.

He got up to refill his coffee mug. "You see, there's a lot more to being great, other than just a couple of occasional achievements," my father claimed, tightly clenching his hoof. "You have to have the passion for competition. The willingness to kill whatever's in your path to reach the ultimate goal, while leaving no concern or empathy for others. My daughter here has failed to show any hint of that in her life." The patriarch relaxed back in his seat and sipped his hot beverage, posing a cocky smirk of victory. Mom sat next to him and only nodded in, what appeared to be, forced agreement.

Why did he have to say all those mean things to me? I understood that I took a different path from what they wanted for me, but I had to back then. If I had done things their way, I would've been completely miserable. My life would've been very different, but not for the better. I might have been able to please them, but it would've came at my own expense. In the end, it just wasn't worth it.

After a lengthy silence, I took a very deep breath and tried to argue back. "W-Well, Daddy, I-I actually think that I am happy with what I do."

"As long as you feel that way, we're proud of you, sweetheart." My ears peaked at the sound of my mother's voice. After staying quiet for such a long time it was the first time I heard her. She spoke words of encouragement to me for the first time. My heart leaped like a frog. A smile started to spread when—

"Dammit, April! You're not helping!" Dad yelled to her. The room fell quiet again. My mother shrank back into hiding behind her mane. No. That couldn't have happened. Father would never snap like that to his family... would he?

"Fluttershy, if you really want to be successful, then tell me: when are you going to start being serious, stop playing with animals and look for a real job?" he inquired.

"Um, well, what I do is a real job," I stated. "I keep the animals in town and around the forest safe. I heal them, feed them, help fix their homes, watch over pets, find potential loving owners for them, and make sure they all feel loved and have a place in this world."

Dad crossed his forelegs and scrunched his nose with heavy disinterest. "Do you make much?"

"Um, you see, uh, no. But that's not—"

"Then, you're pretty freaking lucky that you have all that Will money from your Grandma Nightingale, my mother, to dip into. Or else you would've never survived."

Rainbow Dash leaned close to Father, widening her eyes. "And who says money is important? She still makes a good amount of bits to spend. If she's been living well on her own, she's successful in any sane pony's eyes!" Dash's opponent went frozen. His face remained unhinged from his own frustration of the debate.

Rainbow wrapped her foreleg around my shoulder and slid up against me. I continued to sit in high anxiety. True, Dad was making me feel upset, but the insult throwing wasn't necessary at all. "Like I said," Dash continued, "she doesn't need your approval to know that she is happy. Fluttershy knows that she is successful on her own terms. Right, Fluttershy?"

A gulp blocked the vocals in my throat. I cautiously nodded my head, fearing whatever I said next would only anger him even further.

Dad turned his head away. "Fine, I don't want to hear anymore of it." He never gave up like that before. Was that his own way of silencing me? The tension was eased a bit when a knock came at the door.

"I'll get that," mom volunteered. She got off her haunches and crossed over to the entrance. After she opened the door, a familiar stallion pegasus entered.

This pony showed more age than my father, but was not exactly elderly. He was tall, but still a bit shorter than Dad. He had a very dark brown coat and wore a black suit top. His mane was a faded blonde that covered most of his head—except for one large bald spot on the back. On his flank a cutie mark of a black cloud, with three golden thunder bolts erupting, stood out for a mile.

Mom stepped aside for the new guest to enter. "Hello, Zeus, we're glad you could make it."

Zeus nodded. "My pleasure to be here today, April Shower." He trotted into the living room and greeted my father. "Barrister, my friend! Having a good Sunday, I'm assuming?"

Dad got up. "Excellent, now that you're here," he responded in an embrace. "How did your mission go last night?"

Zeus smiled menacingly. "Well, let's just say they should definitely get the message now."

"Fantastic! I knew you'd be right for the job."

I noticed some spots on Zeus' hoof—red spots to be exact—that resembled dried paint. His inner palm looked swollen like he had been trying to scrub it off earlier. The color chipped from his dry skin and floated down to the floor. What kind of "mission" was he on? I asked myself. Why would he needed to paint his hooves for it?

Dad turned and gestured to me and Rainbow Dash. "And look who decided to join us for our talk."

Zeus' face brightened. "Well hello, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy. It is so good to see you both again." As he approached my seat, I could feel the hair on the back of my neck stand. As the blonde stallion brushed my chin, I looked up to see him smile with a hungry look in his sea blue eyes. "Fluttershy, you have grown up into quite the beautiful young mare. Your parents should be very lucky."

I thought of trying to shift away, but quickly realized that I was too boxed in to do so. He quickly leaned in and planted a long kiss on my cheek. Oh, my goodness, that was such an... awful feeling.

Instead of warmth, a nauseating taste came to my tongue. The air felt like somepony turned up the thermostat, but I was the only one feeling the heat. My heart quaked. My brain tingled with a very fuzzy dizziness. My stomach felt like it was injected with a vomit inducing substance. I began to squeal in the same manner when I get very nervous or scared. It came as a surprise to me that I didn't faint.

Zeus was the kind of stallion whom I've never felt completely safe around, or trusting of. I know, it's a terrible thing to say about anypony, but he was different. Whenever he saw me when I was little, he always overemphasized how pretty I looked, tried to sit near me, or even give me these weird kisses like he wanted to... um... l-like he... you know, right? I always tried my best to avoid him, but the fact that he was best friends with my father, and my mother's boss, didn't make it very easy at all.

Mom came back into the room. "Please, Zeus, have a seat." She gestured to an open armchair next to me. Zeus took his place. My dad turned back to me.

"So, Fluttershy, tell us. How's Mockingbird been doing with you?" he asked.

My brows curved, my head cocking a little to the side. "How did you know he was with me?"

Mom sighed and shifted her focus out a window. "Just a feeling. You two were always so close, we kind of knew that he would find you. You were so much like a second mother to him while growing up."

Now was finally my chance to take the floor. After taking a deep breath, I went on to tell them everything that happened between me and Mockingbird over the past two days.

Dad just nodded and took a tiny sip of his coffee. "I see, and you took him in?"

"Well, of course I did," I answered. "He's my brother. I love him."

My father started to shake his head. "No, no, no, no, no. You see, Fluttershy, he might be your brother and my son, but what you did was actually very wrong."

My brows furrowed. He never said anything like that before... at least not about his own family. "What? Why was it wrong? What else was I supposed to do?"

The elder stallion sighed and placed his mug on the table. "Fluttershy, I now know Mockingbird just as well as you do. It's true that he was never the strongest flyer around, or the brightest when it came to weather making and handling, but I had faith in that boy. I knew that with his special talent, he would've surely succeeded out there and made me proud, but not anymore."

Zeus took the lead. "What your brother has done was choose a lifestyle that is very unnatural," he explained to me. "You see, stallions and mares were meant to be together under one union. Together, they create families. If two stallions or two mares partake in such cuddling or fooling together, what they are not doing is love, but offending Princess Celestia herself. This is one of our core beliefs of the Traditional Pegasus Family Coalition, and what we strive to promote for a better Equestria. We even discussed the effects at our meeting last night."

Offend Celestia? That didn't sound very true at all. Rainbow Dash was the next one to speak. "Whoa, whoa, whoa! You don't even know the princess. How can you tell if she is not okay with the personal lives of two ponies?"

Mom cleared her throat. "W-well, that's b-because Equestria needs families to thrive."

She looked to Dad. He nodded to her. "Exactly right, April. Our society needs the family to survive. Something that cuddlers are obviously incapable of providing. If there is no standard family with a mother and father, then many fillies raised by cuddlers and foolers will grow up with severe dysfunction. Equestria cannot afford to see that happen."

I tried to counter argue, but ended up stuttering, "B-But I just d-don't th-think that Mockingbird is any different f-from any other pony. He just wants to be himself, how is that harming anypony."

Father shot up in frustration and paced over to the fireplace. "Fluttershy, what you are failing to understand is that Mockingbird has disharmony messing with his brain. Can't you see how obscene it is? If we accept that lifestyle, then before we know it, we would also be allowing ponies to marry squirrels, siblings to inbreed, and pedoponies to touch every little filly they see! Do you know why? Because they'll all use the same excuse: 'It's love!' That is everything that my coalition goes against, and I will not live to watch this world crumble because of my son!"

He was really starting to get angry. You would've had to really upset him to make him this mad. I was shaking like a leaf as my mind went dead.

Rainbow slammed her hooves on the coffee table, the plates and silverware shimmering and clanking loudly. "So, trying to beat the child you love and kicking him out was better than some harmless love? That's just sick!"

"I kicked him out because he wouldn't listen, or cooperate!" He was shouting at this point. I began to wish that I was like a turtle, so I could hide in my shell and wait for all the danger to pass. "For eighteen years, I did my best to raise him on the values of a good family and what was important. I gave him everything: a home, an education, my support and my confidence. How does he repay me? He takes my values and lessons, chews them up and spits them all out onto my hooves. Everything that I know to be morally wrong is what he's doing. I will not have a son to be betray me!"

Dad flew over my head, landed next to my seat and craned over me. "And you! What you're doing is only making it worse. He has a problem, but you're encouraging him to accept himself like that. Like it is perfectly okay to promote such an unhealthy habit. He will never get well if you continue."

***

My family flew out from the school auditorium and into the night time sky. Mother and Father wore the warmest of smiles, while escorting me and my little brother at their sides. The little colt looked at the fresh mark on his flank.

"Oh, boy! I can't believe this! I discovered my special talent!" he cheered, looking up at me. "You see this, Fluttershy? Now I finally have a cutie mark, just like you!"

I smiled to him. "Mockingbird, you were so great up there. I'm very proud of you."

"We're all very proud of you, Son," Father added. "I will always be proud of you."

"Always?"

"Always. There is nothing you can ever do to make me stop loving you."

"Really?"

"Of course, sweetheart," Mother chirped. "Families will always love each other. There is no magic, corruption, or any other power in this world that could ever change that."

***

My heart burned and burned and melted like wax at the mercy of his words. I took a sip of coffee. It's almost impossible to cry if you're drinking. I spoke after a passing silence. "But, don't you think it was still a little harsh to just kick him out? If you don't mind me asking that is."

To this day, I still don't know why that question came up. My father already made it pretty clear that he didn't approve. At that point my heart was so broken that I couldn't even think straight. It just seemed so pointless, but I had to try.

The answer he gave me, however, came as a surprise. Father lightly trotted over to a shelf that held Mockingbird's graduation photo. He traced his hoof over the cutout hole that used to have his face. "Twenty years, I've been president of Traditional Pegasus Family in Cloudsdale. All those years we've tried to spread the message of how a normal family is important. 'If the traditional family falls apart, then we all will fall apart,' I always preached. But throwing out my only son, when he needs help, was very hypocritical. It was wrong."

Did that actually work? I asked myself. Was it really possible that I changed my father's mind that quickly? It couldn't have been. Looking back, that didn't seem very natural at all. He didn't even take a minute to think about it. Had I known what he had in store, I would've been much more careful about what he proposed next.

He turned back to me with a mysterious smile painted on his face. "I would like to see him again. Discuss this with him, one on one. I want you to bring him to me, Fluttershy. Tomorrow, at one o'clock, for lunch."

My own train of thought derailed. That didn't seem right. I didn't want to accept the offer, but I didn't want to decline either. I believe that with a little kindness, patience, compromise, and understanding, ponies can change for the better. But it rarely happens this fast. I really wanted to believe him at the time. It was a chance to reunite the family again for good.

But wait. I just remembered. Twilight. "Um, actually, I'm sorry. That is not going to work. I have lunch tomorrow in town with a friend."

Zeus reclined further in the armchair. "How about Saturday night, then? It'll be another chance for us to catch up and I want to be here for that. I'll be very busy running the Rain Department this week." He waved a hoof to my mother. "We're preparing a massive lightning cloud for a huge storm that's scheduled to hit Canterlot in about three weeks time."

"Zeus, I'm still not so sure about this project," Mom claimed, concerned. "A lightning cloud that big could cause a lot more damage, shock and injury than the average—"

"Why are you trying to take over my position?" Zeus rudely interrupted. "You are only my assistant manager. I'm not paying you to criticize my projects."

"I'm not criticizing you," she argued. "All I'm saying is that if we break it up into smaller clouds and distribute it more evenly, then we would be risking a lot less—"

"April, please don't argue with Zeus about his work," Dad interjected. "I didn't become one of Equestria's top lawyers by taking criticism from assistants." My mother lowered her head and sighed in sadness.

She has always been mostly quiet when it came to opinions or beliefs. Most of the time, she would often agree with my father or just sit on the sidelines when an argument came up. Mother always followed her spouse without question, force or protest. Perhaps my extreme shyness was another major trait that I developed from her? I could never be too sure. Poor Mom. It sounded like she just wanted to help better their project. She had every right to her opinion as a weather pegasus. How I wish I could've helped her at that moment.

Dad refocused back on me. "Alright, Fluttershy, how about we meet back here on Saturday at around seven? There will be tons of ponies here for support."

With all the rudeness, intimidating hospitality and harsh viewpoints they just showed, I really didn't feel so sure about his idea anymore. Rainbow Dash looked at me with a disapproving look like she predicted what was going to happen. I just spoke my mind. "Um, I don't know. I'm sorry, I just have to kind of think about it." I hid my right eye under my mane, prepared for another outburst. Except there was no need to.

Dad smiled. "Don't worry, I'll give you another day to change your mind. Tomorrow we'll be sure to send you a friendly reminder, just to push you in the right direction." By that I thought he meant a note, not what was to ensue.

I nodded with some uncertainty. "Oh, um, okay. I'll talk about it with Mockingbird when I get home."

"Excellent!" my father exclaimed. "We hope to see you then."

Mom started to smile again, like her own silencing never even occurred. "That will be wonderful, Fluttershy. I look forward to seeing my little angel again." A tear of joy started to twinkle on the corner of her eye.

Zeus crossed his legs onto the coffee table. "I can't wait. I imagine it will be a fine rendezvous."

Rainbow Dash took my foreleg and pulled me off the couch for the exit. "Uh, well, okay. So if that's all, we should really get going. I have some, uh, Wonderbolt practicing to do." I could understand why Dash didn't want to stay much longer, so I followed her lead.

"Uh, yes, I have a lot of cleaning to do," I lied. "But this was very nice. Thank you for inviting us."

Father halted us. "Before you go, something came in for Mockingbird yesterday." He crossed over to a stand and picked up a sealed pink envelope. "It's from the Sky Café. We contacted them about your brother and they sent us this in return."

I took it from him and placed it under my wing. "Thank you. I'll be sure he gets it."

The lawyer pegasus began walking Rainbow and I over to the door and opened it for us. "Excellent, darling. We'll see you on Saturday."

After waving a quick goodbye to everypony in the room, the two of us headed out, leaving my past behind.

After we were well out of the range of the house and flying back down to the earth, Rainbow Dash looked to me and asked, "Are you sure it's a good idea to meet with them again?"

I gulped. "I don't know."

I couldn't make heads or tails on anything that happened. I always knew about their views and expectations, but to actually be that crude to me when I'm just being my usual kind self? Who were those ponies?

On the way home, my mind couldn't shake off this dark prediction. There's a storm coming, it kept telling me. What storm? What was making me think this? Could it have been my parents?

This thinking made me feel like there was an angry lioness waiting to jump out of me. When a mother lion feels that her cub is threatened, her very first instinct is to protect him from the dangerous predator. The carnivorous feline inside awoke from her slumber. Discovering the impending threat, she began to growl.

Was this feeling... anger? A desire for me to rage against Mother and Father? Letting them know how much they've hurt me and made me upset? Was I bottling it all in? No! That couldn't have been me. I would never dream of doing such a thing to hurt my own family. Would I?


Long after Rainbow Dash parted from me to her cloud duties, I made my landing in front of my cottage. I couldn't feel more relieved to be back home. Looking down, I noticed the Red Azalea that Pinkie Pie gave me. The flower bowed, the bright color on the pedals starting to fade with dryness. I probably should've gotten to it earlier, but I was just so distracted. "I'll plant it today, for sure," I told myself. "Just, after I finish helping Mr. Beaverton Beaverteeth repair his dam." I was so glad that it wasn't near Sweet Apple Acres again.

When I opened the door, I saw that I had visitors. Rarity, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie were all looking down on Mockingbird, sitting on the couch.

"Are you sure you didn't not like the party last night?" Pinkie Pie asked, sounding worried and upset at the same time.

"It had nothing to do with the party. I had a great time," Mockingbird assured her with a little grin. "I just wasn't feeling too well, that's all."

Rarity sat down next to him on the neighboring cushion. Her hoof rubbed in circles along his back, showing the same maternal instincts she usually gives her sister, Sweetie Belle. "Are you sure, darling? When we saw you last night, it looked like you were more terrified than ill."

"Oh, I was ill. It just felt like an emergency, so I had to rush home."

"Without even telling your sister about it?" Applejack asked in confusion. "You know, ya really scared the willies out of her, sugarcube. Heck, I was scared too. Big Macintosh came out just a minute later and he didn't wanna talk to me about anything. In fact, he really wanted to go home, himself." She massaged the back of her neck. "It looked like somepony was trying to hurt him. I hope he's feeling alright. He hasn't even gotten up yet this morning."

I quietly closed the door and approached everypony. "Oh, I'm sure he's doing okay, Applejack." All four performed a small jump as their heads shot up in unison and turned to me.

Rarity stopped her rubbing. "Fluttershy, dear, how long have you been there?"

I took a step back and lowered my head. "Oh, I just came home. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt or scare anypony."

Pinkie jumped onto her hooves and hopped in front of me, giggling. "Oh, silly Fluttershy." She began patting my head with an unintended force, causing my eyes to squint. "Don't you worry your pretty little head about interrupting. Auntie Pinkie Pie and friends are just making sure your brother is A-Okay!"

My brows scrunched. It always kind of annoyed me that she called herself my aunt, even though she knew that I was a year older than her. But it was never enough for me to be angry with her. I could never imagine myself being angry at either of my friends.

Rarity coughed to clear her throat. "What Pinkie Pie is trying to say, Fluttershy, is that we saw Mockingbird run out last night, and we were just stopping by to make sure he was alright."

My heart was starting to warm as I smiled. "Thank you, girls. That's very sweet of you all. Mockingbird just had a little rough night last night, that's all."

Applejack turned back to him. "You don't look too sick anymore. That mean you're feeling better?"

Mockingbird nodded. "Uh, yeah. Much better. Couldn't be healthier." I noticed a similar tone in his voice. The same one he used at the party when he wouldn't tell them the real reason why he was in town. My friends never had the ability I had to understand what others felt on the inside.

Rarity smiled and nuzzled against his neck. "A very good bit of news to hear, sweetness." She perked her head up and pursed her lips. "And remember, if you ever need somepony to talk to, you can always find me at either the Carousel Boutique, or the Ponyville Spa. I would be more than happy to listen to you. Why, you can come and talk to any of us, and we would all lend an ear."

"Thank you, all of you," Mockingbird gestured to my friends. "I really appreciate it." The three mares nodded to him, showing that they were glad to help.

Rarity got off from the couch. "Well then, I have a lot of orders to fill so I should probably get going." She began trotting across the living room.

Pinkie Pie followed suit. "Okie Dokie Lokie!" she cheered, trailing behind the white unicorn.

The last to leave was Applejack. "Well, certainly good to hear you're doing well, Mockingbird. I suppose I better head on back to the orchard. Those apple trees can't plant themselves. I'll catch y'all later." And with that she was gone.

Mockingbird and I were alone together again. He got up from his seat and asked the first thing on his mind. "How was brunch?"

"Um, i-it was okay, I guess," I answered.

"You guess? What do you mean?"

"Well..." I went on to tell him all about the reunion and Dad's offer.

My brother bore a blank face, scratching his head. "So, he really wants to talk to me again, huh?" He didn't sound very enthusiastic or thrilled. In fact, I don't think he even wanted this meeting to happen at all. "Do you really think we should go? It sounds kind of suspicious."

I looked up into his eyes and told him my truth. "That's what I'm trying to decide."

The rest of the day passed quietly. While Mockingbird had a daisy sandwich for his lunch, I spend some time fluffing Angel's tail. The task of trying to properly place the curlers into the usually stubborn bunny's behind felt like hours to me, but in the end it was worth it for both of us. He always loved how his tail poofed out once the styling tools were removed, giving it that soft bouncy feeling whenever he ran, scurried, thumped, or hopped. I enjoyed seeing how cute he was to have a fresh start to his new clean self.

Once that was done, it was time for me to go and help fix the local beaver dam. I went to my closet to retrieve my good pair of yellow rubber boots for the river, and a spool full of twine.

"Mockingbird, I'm about to head out to care for some beavers!" I called to him as he fiddled with a chip of wood at the top of the staircase.

"I won't wait up for you," he returned.

"You won't have to. I shouldn't be gone long." After I went and opened the door, before me stood an unexpected guest: Big Macintosh. He had his hoof hovering in a curled position like he, himself, was about to knock. The farmer chewed on the stem of a wheat straw. A pair of bags dangled under his weary eyes. I noticed a small black and blue bruise against his chest. It looked fresh, too.

"Oh, hello, Fluttershy," Big Mac addressed. He lowered his hoof, rotating his pupils in a circle.

I smiled shyly at him. "Hello, Big Macintosh, how are you?"

He sighed. "Uh, okay, I guess. I just had a very late morning, so I'm a bit drowsy." He yawned deeply and rubbed the bits of sleep grain from his eyes.

After a brief awkward silence, I was the first to speak. "Is there anything I can do for you."

He nodded. "Yes, there is, actually." Macintosh paused for about a minute. Why was he coming to see me? What could I have done for him? Was he even coming to see me at all? "I-Is your brother home? I kind of wanna talk to him." He shut his eyes into a tight fortress. Was he preparing for an attack or something? I didn't understand why it sounded like a challenge to ask that. It was just a harmless request. I never saw him act so nervous before.

"Sure, he's just upstairs. I'll get him for you," I answered, trotting to the bottom of the stairwell. "Mockingbird? There's somepony here to see you. Can you please come down... if you're not too busy, that is?"

Mockingbird floated his way down the steps. He landed beside me and caught his sight of Big Macintosh, patiently waiting for him.

"Uh, hi, Big Mac," my brother said, sending a small wave in the red stallion's direction. "How have ya been since last night? Everything alright?"

"Eeyup," the earth pony answered. "I just came by to ask you for something." He turned to me. "In private, if ya don't mind, Fluttershy."

I tilted my head, wondering why I couldn't be there for it. "Oh, um, okay. I was just about to head out anyway. I'll see you later, Mockingbird." Ask him for what? The curiosity was already beginning to brew. But of course, I always knew better than to get nosey in another pony's business. Invasion of privacy just seems so... frightening.

Deciding not to snoop or interrogate, I simply headed out my cottage door and trailed off to help Mr. Beaverton Beaverteeth.

Author's Note:

Hey, I hope you all enjoyed the new chapter. Forgive me if this was a bit lengthy. It actually turned out to be much longer than I intended it to be, but I felt like there was just so much that I had to reveal in this part of the story. Please don't forget to rate and comment below. Chapter five will be out soon!