Euphoria. Fluttershy’s eyes widened with this most magnificent of sensations as every inch of her body was overcome with loving warmth. She gazed dreamily into the light of the summer sun, before closing her eyes and taking in every sensation with utmost sensitivity. The soft grass beneath her tickled her legs as it swayed about, the wind caressed her skin and gently pressed her soft hair against her face. The pain she felt earlier was now gone, as she sat in the sun, her worries vanishing.
Fluttershy let a gentle smile escape her lips as her beloved angel bunny scurried to her side. The rabbit let out a quiet squeak which almost tickled Fluttershy’s ear buds with its softness. This was nothing she’d ever felt, a sense of pleasure that was completely foreign to her. All it took was a few bits, a little bit of pain, and some time to herself. Never again would she have to worry about their laughter, never again would she have to worry about what everypony else thought. She was sure she could live like this forever, and it was all thanks to sweet, caring Jaybird…
Even though she still had a good fifteen minutes until Fluttershy was supposed to arrive, Twilight couldn’t help but tap her hoof impatiently. She understood if her friend wanted to take her time, but she had arrived almost half an hour prior, and was very excited to get started. Fluttershy had proposed the idea of weekly spa dates a couple of weeks ago, and even though it was an attempt to make her less tense, Twilight had managed a way to stress out about this as well.
She was practically shaking as Fluttershy arrived, unbearably anxious not only to enjoy the spa, but to get on with her day. Fluttershy, on the other hand, was as calm and quiet as ever, and graced her old friend with a soft, caring smile as she approached. “Hello, Twilight, I’m so glad you could make it!”
“Oh, I wouldn’t miss this for the world!” Twilight returned the smile. “I just need to be finished by four, I’m about to have a breakthrough in my research on the properties of polarizing magic, and I can’t stall my studies any longer!”
Fluttershy couldn’t help but let out a chuckle at her friend’s uptight tendencies. Even though that was why she invited Twilight to join her, it was what made Twilight Sparkle herself, and Fluttershy did enjoy it a little bit.
The spa was, as always, heavenly. Fluttershy had decided to do the same treatment she received when she and Rarity did this on a weekly basis, and this suited Twilight just fine. Fluttershy had just wished the sisters running the facility were a little less invasive; she didn’t much like other ponies paying too much attention to her. The two spent their afternoon talking mostly about whatever came to Twilight’s mind, Fluttershy contributed here and there to indicate she was listening, but she made a point to herself not to interrupt or derail the conversation, so most of their time was spent discussing spell theories and astrology. When their time was over, Twilight had slowed her pace significantly, but Fluttershy had felt about the same as when she entered. This didn’t bother her, though, as she was fairly mellow when she arrived. After all, what was there to worry about?
Her mellow attitude was precisely why she was so caught off guard by what happened next. “Hey Fluttershy! Long time, no see!” A voice rang out from behind the two.
Standing outside the spa was a blue pegasus, his mane striped black and white. Twilight thought it looked dyed, but then again, Rainbow Dash’s hair was a whole rainbow, and she didn’t dye her hair, (at least Twilight didn’t think so). Dotting his face were various piercings, and he appeared to be wearing makeup around his eyes, despite being a stallion. To Twilight, the stallion was very unusual, but Fluttershy’s eyes lit up as soon as she saw him. “Jaybird? I thought you moved to Fillydelphia!”
The stallion chuckled in reply. “I did, but the band and I are on tour, and our next stop was Cloudsdale!” He shot the two a warm smile, “So, Shy, how’s it been? What’ve you been up to?”
Fluttershy reverted to her usual bashfulness, shrugging her shoulders up by her face and turning away slightly. “Oh, not much. I just have a little farm here in Ponyville, or something.”
The answer managed to satisfy the stallion, but Twilight was evidently not. “Not so much? What about that time you told off that dragon? Or the time you helped with the tornado?” Her enthusiasm only managed to make Fluttershy blush more, however.
“Wow, Shy, that sounds amazing! You’ve really grown up!” He turned towards Twilight, “so, who’s this? One of your friends?”
Fluttershy perked up as her sense of courtesy overrode her embarrassment, “Oh, yes, I forgot! Jaybird, this is Twilight Sparkle!” she turned her attention to Twilight, “Twilight, this is Jaybird. We were friends since I was a filly up in Cloudsdale.”
Twilight returned the smile, and started to backpedal in a mix of courtesy and impatience “Well, it sounds like you two have a lot of catching up to do, so I’ll leave you alone!” And with that, she was cheerfully trotting back towards Ponyville library.
“So, Shy,” Jaybird continued, “you’ve been doing okay, then, eh? That’s good to hear.” His smile was almost impenetrable.
Fluttershy blushed again before speaking up, “What about you? What have you been, uh, I mean, how have you been doing? I didn’t know you were in a band.”
“Oh yeah! Some friends of mine in Fillydelphia were into music, so, long story short, I decided to sing for them! We’re not huge, but we’re getting along okay.” The two basked in their mutual nostalgia for a moment before he spoke up again, “Hey, I’ve got to head off, but why don’t you come see us play in Cloudsdale? I can get you backstage if you like, and maybe we can just hang out and talk about old times.”
“Yeah, I’d like that…” Fluttershy trailed off as Jaybird started to fly away.
“Alright, then the show’s at ten! I’ll see you there!” He said with a smile and he was off.
“I can’t believe you’re going to watch that loser play!”
“But… he was so nice to me. Besides, I like music”
“Fluttershy, he’s nothing like you now. You may have been friends when we were little, but he’s not like that anymore. Trust me.”
Their argument repeated over and over in Fluttershy’s head as she made her way to Cloudsdale. Why would Rainbow Dash say those things about her friend? Why couldn’t the two just get along? Ever since they were foals, the two never meshed. Not that they had to, they lived in completely different worlds, but they were both her friends, and she hated to see them pit against one another.
She couldn’t understand it, really. Why was Rainbow Dash so nice to her and so uncaring to Jaybird? He was so much like her, and yet, she felt like she was being treated differently. Being treated specially. Like her, he was such a quiet child. As a colt, he didn’t care for all of the flying and excitement that most young pegasi did. He was more interested in art, and in music. Fluttershy reminisced the times the two would find a quiet place, and try to make music out of random things they could find. Nopony else could bring her out of her shell the way he could, at the time, and it made her sad to hear the news of his departure. She gave a relaxed sigh as she headed towards the establishment where the band was playing. Maybe some music would cheer her up.
Fluttershy’s ears pulsated with the heavy sound that rang out throughout the bar. She didn’t know what to expect, to be honest, but she was certainly not used to this type of music, and she was certainly glad she didn’t bring along any of her songbirds like she had originally planned. It was funny, really. Rainbow Dash was the one who wanted her not to go, but she was the one who’d probably like this music the best. All of the commotion was really noise to her, but she put on a smile anyways, for the sake of her old friend. Besides, who was she to decide what kind of music her friends indulged in?
By the time the show had ended, Fluttershy had managed to get a throbbing headache, which wasn’t helped at all by the few beers a pair of colts were buying her. She hated the taste, it was nothing like the cider she was used to, but she decided to down the first bottle out of courtesy. She managed to place the second one on a random table without anypony noticing. She felt a little better when Jaybird approached her, trying to hide the throbbing pain behind a welcoming smile.
“So, what’d ya’ think? Are we gonna go places or what?” Jaybird was as cheerful and full of energy as earlier that day, perhaps even more so.
“It was… nice,” was all Fluttershy could think of saying about the boisterous ruckus she had just endured.
Clearly Jaybird saw through it, though he didn’t seem to mind. “Not your thing, huh? That’s cool, I guess. I wasn’t sure you were gonna like that much to begin with, but, hey, you never know, right?” He turned to gesture towards the stage, “so, why don’t you meet the guys? We’ve got a coach out back; I think the rest of the guys are hangin’ out there.” Fluttershy hastily nodded in response; as much as she was pretending to enjoy herself, she very much wanted to get out of this place.
As much as she disliked the bar however, she was almost physically repulsed by the coach. This was a coach? The coach itself was alright, albeit a little old, but the interior was littered with garbage, old clothes, and Celestia-knows-what else. They drove around in this… thing?
“So, this is our band coach. It’s basically where we live.” Where they live?! Fluttershy was hesitant to go in at first, but then she realized that a cottage smelling like wild animals could also be considered somewhat repulsive to some, so she decided to be a fair judge and go on in.
Inside wasn’t much better, though not for the reasons she expected. The litter wasn’t too bad; it looked like it took more space than it actually did. What really was bothering her was the smell. And not because it smelled like somepony who hadn’t showered for three weeks, though it did smell like that, but because there was another scent, something she couldn’t put her hoof on…
Her line of thought was interrupted by Jaybird’s usual cheeriness. “So here are the guys; we’ve got Sixstring, our lead guitarist, Keynote, our bassist, and Drumsticks, our… well, our drummer.” A dull red stallion, lighter blue mare, and a gruff gray unicorn each responded with a simple “hey” or “sup” as their name was called. Fluttershy wasn’t even sure how the unicorn was able to perform in Cloudsdale, though her friends were able to show up to the best young flier competition, so it was entirely possible, she supposed. “This coach is our vehicle and our pad, so make yourself at home, I’m just gonna get our pay.” And with that, Jaybird left his old friend with what were, to her, a group of almost frightening-looking strangers (well, to be fair, they didn’t look much more frightening than Jaybird himself, but they weren’t her old friends).
She glanced nervously around the coach before turning quickly back to her own hooves. If she was shy in most situations, she was almost downright terrified here.
It must have showed, too, because it wasn’t long before Keynote leaned over towards her, with something grasped in her wing. “Hey, don’t get so tense,” she gave the pale yellow mare the most welcoming smile she could manage as she spoke. “Here, why don’t you try this,” she held out a small syringe, with an unfamiliar liquid in it. Whatever that smell was, it was getting stronger, too.
Fluttershy raised an eyebrow. She didn’t like needles much, but she was used to using them if one of her animals got sick. Why she was being offered one now, however, was something she didn’t understand. “Oh, no, I’m…uh, I’m feeling fine, thanks.”
Though she didn’t laugh out loud, Keynote couldn’t help but give an amused smile to everypony else in the coach. “You believe this chick?” She turned her attention back to Fluttershy after a moment, “here, it’s not a vaccine, it’ll make you more relaxed. Just give me your hoof.”
Fluttershy wanted anything more than to comply, but she didn’t want to intrude, to let these strangers down, so to speak, so she reluctantly held up a hoof. Keynote had to keep herself from laughing as the mare let out a squeak when the needle punctured her foreleg, but she managed to administer the substance quickly and as painlessly as she could.
“Theeeere we go. Feel better?”
At first, Fluttershy wasn’t sure she felt anything, except a little pain in her leg, and a small bit of nausea. But after a few seconds, it overtook her. Everything was so much more exciting, more exquisite. The texture of the carpet, the sound of the music, even the repulsive smell was now completely titillating. She swayed back and forth for a few seconds, caught up in the rush of sensations, before letting loose a goofy smile.
The door swung open as Jaybird returned, his usual smile across his face. The first thing he was greeted to, though, was a barely conscious Fluttershy, falling into him as soon as the door opened. He reached out his forehooves to catch her, and gazed down at her face as she looked dreamily into his.
“What’s gotten into her?” was all he could muster after a few seconds of this. He turned his gaze towards his bandmates, his expression a mixture of confusion and annoyance.
“I just got her a little high, that’s all,” Keynote was quick to respond.
At that, Jaybird’s eyes lit up with anger. “What the fuck, Key? Why would you do something like that?”
Keynote returned the grimace. “Hey, she was super tense, so I gave her something to lighten up a little.”
“Keynote, this is the girl who’d get sick if she drank too much chocolate milk in high school. What the fuck were you thinking trying to get her high?”
“Hey man, don’t look at me. You should’ve seen her; she looked like she was gonna chew off her own hooves, or something.”
“Alright, but don’t give her any more. We really don’t need somepony OD’ing on us right now.” After a minute, his anger started to subside. As sick as he’d feel to admit it, he did like having a mare that cute all pressed up against him like that, even if they were old friends. And he knew more than anypony that she needed to relax once in a while. Even since she was a filly, Fluttershy was extremely nervous around other ponies, and he could tell that she wasn’t having any fun up to this point. At least now she’d enjoy herself…
When Fluttershy awoke, she was in her own bed, back in Ponyville. As she traced her eyes across the room, trying to figure out what had occurred the night prior, she spotted a note on the nightstand next to her bed.
Sorry about the mess last night. One of your friends brought you home. I’ll be here until Friday.
Despite her grogginess, Fluttershy couldn’t help but smile. She was so lucky to have such caring friends, friends who didn’t judge her, and who stood up for her when she was down. She made a mental note to see Jaybird again this week .
As she dreamily observed her room, lost in pleasant memories, something else caught her eye. Mounted upon her wall, her clock was set at 11:00 a.m.
“Omigosh, my poor dears! They haven’t been fed! What about Angel!” She sprung out of bed, racing downstairs and outside as quickly as she could muster, and occasionally banging her shoulders into corners in the process. “How could I forget? How could I sleep in? Stupid! Stupid!” When she finally got outside, her animals mulled about, happy and fed. In the midst of her shelter, Twilight and Rarity stood, smiling, helping her in her responsibilities. She truly had the best friends in the world.
The rest of the day wasn’t as pleasant. After overpaying for groceries, running into strangers, and almost ruining one of Rarity’s dresses, Fluttershy couldn’t help but feel like something was going wrong. It wasn’t until her time helping Rainbow Dash train that she really felt it, though.
After her stunning performance the at the best young fliers competition the year before, Rainbow Dash felt the need to top it, to prove she was better than anypony could imagine. She could perform a sonic rainboom almost on command, now she needed to do something that would assure her spot on the Wonderbolts. This required that Fluttershy was not only a cheering section, but intervened directly. Measuring speed, trajectory angle, and even velocity, Dash was positive every detail needed to be perfect. Twilight provided the instruments, but Rainbow Dash insisted that the process needed a “pegasus’ touch.”
But Fluttershy was convinced it was no good. She needed to focus, to pay excruciating detail to every aspect of the flight, but she could barely pay attention to anything. She just wanted to be home, to be away from the gaze of everypony around her, to be in the safety of solitude. Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of screaming.
“AHHHHH!” Rainbow Dash violently crashed into the hillside, unable to pitch herself in time to avoid the terrain. Fluttershy just watched in horror; her friend had gotten away pretty much unscathed almost every time she crashed, but this looked bad. How could she let this happen? She was supposed to be there for Dash, supposed to make sure this didn’t happen, that she would be okay, and she let her down. She wanted to help, but she was frozen where she stood, overcome by a mix of shame and terror. When she finally managed to move, it was in the opposite direction, tears streaming down her face.
She didn’t go home. She wasn’t sure why, maybe because she couldn’t bear to see her friends, not even her loving animals, after what she did. Maybe it was because she needed somepony who understood, somepony who didn’t fit in the way she didn’t. Whatever her reasons, whatever compulsed her, Fluttershy found herself in Cloudsdale, outside Jaybird’s coach.
“Hey, Shy, it’s good to see you again! I was a little worried after that last little meeting you weren’t going to see me again!” Jaybird’s expression was as cheerful as it had been.
“Yeah…” She trailed off, not sure what to say. Why did she even come here? Why not come to Twilight? Or Rarity, or Applejack? Why did she fly all the way to Cloudsdale?
Finally, she found some words. “Jaybird, when we were foals, and everypony laughed at you for being… different,” she turned away, ashamed to even say something like that, “how did you deal with it? What did you do?”
Jaybird turned his gaze away this time, the smile wiped from his face. For a moment, neither said a word, before he finally spoke up. “Fluttershy, I… you don’t…. need to hear about…that.”
She hated herself for prying, but she wasn’t satisfied, nonetheless. “But why, Jaybird? You seem so happy, and I’m so scared. How do you do it? How do you keep a smile on your face?”
“Fluttershy, I’m not happy,” the words strained their way out of his throat, barely able to believe himself. “I may look happy, but I’m not. You don’t need to be like me.” He could see the tears well up in her eyes. He wanted to lie to her, to tell her exactly what somepony needed to do to be happy, but he couldn’t. All he could do is hang his head in shame.
As she started to walk away, she hesitated, unable to tear herself from what she wanted; no what she needed. As soon as she turned back towards him, Jaybird knew what she was about to ask, but it was too late. “Jaybird, I need… I need more.” He bit his lip as she spoke, his throat lumped up and he couldn’t speak. “I need it, Jaybird; I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I just want… I want to feel like that forever.”
His mind raced, trying to come up with a way to stop her, trying to convince her that this isn’t what she wanted. “You don’t want this, Shy. You’ll never get free, it’ll control your life.”
“I don’t care, I’m sick of being afraid.”
“Fluttershy, when I’m gone, you won’t be able to get this. You won’t have me to ask again.”
“Please, Jaybird, just this once…”
Finally he bowed his head, his scheming would be his last chance, his last hope. He held out a syringe in his wing, and watched with pain as her eyes lit up at the sight of it. “I’ll need…. Need 20 bits for that.” At first, he thought he had succeeded, that he could save her. But his heart sank, dropped dead to the floor, as he watched her reach into her saddlebag, and pull out a jingling collection of bits.
“Here,” her voice was barely a whisper, “I just need it one… more time.” Neither made eye contact as their exchange was made. Neither smiled, neither spoke. Jaybird didn’t even want her bits, he just wanted to give them back, to show her that there was some other way to be happy. But, he knew the joy it brought, the instant happiness one could experience from so small a thing. He didn’t know how to be happy, but he sure knew the quick route to being euphoric.
And so she found herself, sitting in the grass, basking in the pleasure that this little needle could bring. All of her fears, all of her worries, gone, and she had even managed to save some for later. Euphoria. It was wonderful.
Only a few days of this pattern when she found herself, head throbbing, having passed out on the floor. Her home had fallen into disarray, the doors locked shut and barred from the inside. Nopony could know, nopony could help her. All she wanted was to be alone, to live in this state for eternity.
But the knocking at the door begged to differ. “Fluttershy! Fluttershy, we need to talk!” Twilight’s muffled voice forced its way through her barricades, pushing into her ears.
She didn’t respond. There was nothing to say, nothing that would make them understand. They'd never understand the loneliness, the chilling fear of everypony watching, judging, knowing how weak and frail she was. She just stared, coldly at the barred doors that locked her in.
This didn’t stop the knocking , though. “Fluttershy! Please come out!” Rarity’s voice joined Twilights, until eventually they were both banging and shouting, when the influx of noise suddenly stopped.
“…Fluttershy?” the scratchy voice of her old friend watered her eyes and wrenched at her heart. “Fluttershy, are you in there? It’s me, it’s Rainbow Dash. Look, I don’t want you blaming yourself for what happened, okay? It was my fault; I was the one who made the bad call, not you.” How could her friend say such things, how could she take the blame for what was clearly not her fault? How could she possibly forgive her?
“Fluttershy, if there’s anything that is bothering you, we’re here to talk about it. We’re here for you, no matter what.”
It didn’t take too long before the door opened again, revealing a tattered mess and weathered mare inside. Tears flowed down from her eyes as she looked at each of her friends, a warm smile spread across their faces. A series of casts surrounded Rainbow Dash’s body, and in her hoof she held a small folded piece of paper. “Jaybird wanted me to give this to you. I… guess he’s not such a loser after all.”
Hey there ‘Shy,
I wanted you to know that I’m sorry for doing what I did to you. Those needles, those drugs, they can’t make you happy, and I’m sorry I ever brought you anywhere close to them.
You asked me what makes me happy, how I smile every day? I still don’t think I’m happy, but I realized you showed me the secret to it. Happiness doesn’t come in a syringe, and it doesn’t come in a bottle. Happiness can only be found in one place: the warm hearts of loving friends. You have those friends, Shy. Don’t ever give them up.
By the time you’re reading this, I’ll have already left Cloudsdale. I’m sorry I couldn’t say goodbye to you personally, but I couldn’t risk tempting you again. The next time you see me, I plan to be completely clean, and maybe I’ll find some friends like yours.
‘Till next time,