In loving memory of Nathan Maddox
Sept 25 1991 - Feb 12 2012
The sun was just setting over the horizon of Ponyville as Twilight Sparkle and Spike were heading out of town towards Fluttershy's cottage. The air was beginning to cool as the bright orange warmth of Celestia's sun began to descend. Twilight smiled as she made her serene walk along the path with Spike nearly half awake on her back.
"Remind me why I have to tag along," asked Spike, still feeling sore from organizing books non-stop all day in the library.
"Because I'm worried about Fluttershy and I need you here for this. I think she's been feeling really sad lately."
"Yeah, but I don't see how that's uncommon. Doesn't Fluttershy get depressed about something on a weekly basis?" Spike said, still grumpy from his work session.
Shocked by his words Twilight stopped on the creek bridge as she turned her head around and gave Spike a hard stare. Taken by the surprise, Spike snapped out of his grumpy state; realizing what he had just said. He frowned at himself, feeling the guilt for his rude statement.
Spike shrugged a little as he hopped off of Twilight's back in shame. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it the way it sounded. I mean, I know Fluttershy is really sensitive. I just thought that everypony knew that she gets really sensitive."
Everypony in Ponyville knew Fluttershy and were aware of her tendencies to be sad every now and then. Most of the time, she would be seen tending to the animals or shopping for Angel Rabbit's favorite foods. Those who lived in Ponyville long enough paid no attention to her whenever she broke down sobbing or ran off crying.
With Spike now beside Twilight, they continued their walk down the trail in silence. They had just noticed a few fireflies that lit up the shadows of the trees, creating a soft set of silhouettes among the bushes. The two companions could now see the outline of the cottage as the sound of the birds began to die down for their evening's rest.
More than a few minutes went by before Twilight spoke up, having now forgiven Spike for his rude comment earlier. "Spike, you and I both know it's true that Fluttershy always has some reason to be sad or frightened every other week, but this is different. I've got this strange feeling that her sadness has been progressing over the past few days."
"What makes you say that?" Spike's eyes widened a lttle.
"I just heard a rumor today. Somepony that Fluttershy was crying by herself at the lake over by the main road today. It was even said that she's been just sitting there ever since this morning."
"You mean Fluttershy's been crying all day?"
"I don't know, but that would explain why Pinkie Pie told me that Fluttershy wasn't at Sugarcube Corner like where she usually goes, and she also didn't come by the library today to pick up that book on bunny care she wanted."
She could still recall the time she spent looking through all of her old animal archives in the basement that had been covered by years of dust and dirt. There was a sense of disappointment knowing that she spent more than an hour looking for that book, feeling that her efforts were in vain.
Spike thought of something else, a recollection, "Come to think of it, Rainbow Dash told me a couple of days ago that Applejack needed her and Fluttershy to help clear the birds out of the apple trees so AJ could do her monthly harvesting, but Fluttershy never showed up,"
It was a weird feeling to Twilight. Usually Fluttershy was the first to jump at helping animals. Whether it was helping migrate frogs to Boggy Bottom Swamp or removing a thorn from a ferocious bear, nopony big or small was a match for Fluttershy's kindness, as her element implied.
Suddenly another memory sparked in Twilight's head. "Rarity also told me that she needed Fluttershy's help trying on new outfits for her customers but never showed up either. That was just yesterday," She also remembered Rarity mentioning that Fluttershy didn't seem too thrilled with the idea to begin with.
The conversation turned into another gloomy silence. Twilight and Spike said nothing for awhile but had their minds thinking in unison, knowing it to be true; Fluttershy might actually be depressed.
"So, has anypony heard from Fluttershy in these past few days?" Spike asked.
"I'm not sure, I don't know." Now Twilight was really worried. If none of her friends had heard from her lately, where could she be? It wasn't unusual for Fluttershy to run off to find a quiet place to calm down, but this just felt strange.
Applejack was huffin and puffin as she attempted to kick one of the last remaining apple trees for the day. She was sweaty and began to feel a slight shiver as a gust of cool air blew past her face. The hard working earth pony was beginning to reach her limit, feeling the sensation of her aching muscles. Harvesting this many apples in only two days was sure enough to knock anypony into next week.
Rainbow Dash was just returning with a fresh set of empty baskets for the remaining apples. She carried one in each front hoof with a third in her mouth, flapping her strong Pegasus wings over the hillside of the barren apple trees. Setting the baskets down near the last tree, she then walked up behind the panting earth pony.
"Getting tired yet?" Rainbow grinned.
Applejack tried her best to put on a smile. "Heck no, I'm used ta this kinda exhaustion."
"Really? Because it looks like you're ready to keel over," Rainbow's grin turned into a satisfying smile.
Everything was always a competition between Rainbow Dash and Applejack. Ponyville's two most athletic ponies could be seen competing to just about anything. Each trying to prove which of them was the strongest, fastest, most athletic mare, even though neither of them kept score in the end.
"I'd like ta see you use all four hooves applebuckin' non-stop fer hours at a time."
"Hey, I've been busting my flank clearing the birds from each tree and carrying half of the baskets," Rainbow then set herself down next to Applejack. "My wings are exhausted and my arms are beginning to ache from all that bird clearing."
Applejack was surprised and then smiled at Rainbow. "Oh, so ya'll feelin' tired then as well?"
No! I didn't mean exhausted. I meant that I
needed a break, that's all."
There was a slight laugh under Applejack's breath. She knew that Rainbow always tried her best not to show any sign of weakness, whether it be during a contest or just helping out. It was the type of friendship that just seemed natural to them, and they understood this.
"No need ta worry sugarcube. We've both been workin' very hard fer the past few days and I really appreciate all that you've done, but it's almost over now."
Rainbow frowned, feeling a bit annoyed as she flew up and landed on the nearby tree branch. "Yeah, well this could've been a one day job if Fluttershy hadn't totally bailed on us like that. What's with that pony anyway?"
"Please don't sound so upset at her. She's been goin' through a rough patch these past few days."
"What do you mean?" Rainbow raised an eyebrow.
Applejack then paused her tree bucking and sat under the tree Rainbow laid in as she tried to recall her last encounter with Fluttershy. "I'm not sure, but I'm feelin' mighty worried about the pegasus. She was mighty sad the last time we spoke."
"You mean earlier today?"
"No. It was 'bout three days ago when I was tryin' ta help her find Angel Bunny. Somethin' happened between them. An argument of some sort."
"Why? Did Fluttershy do something wrong?"
Applejack thought about it for a sec, unsure that Fluttershy could even be capable of doing something bad, even if it weren't on purpose.
"I ain't certain, but when we were 'bout half way through our searchin' for Angel by the creek bed, Fluttershy started wimperin'. I tried to comfort her as best as I could, but just couldn't get her to stop."
Rainbow didn't like hearing this. Nothing upset her more than the feeling of her fillyhood pegsus friend feeling sad. She always regarded herself as someone personally responsible for Fluttershy, much like a guardian.
"What was she crying about?" Rainbow asked.
"She wouldn't say, so I just decided ta leave it at that and she eventually calmed down, but yah see, when we found Angel, that Bunny had an a'ful angry look on his face."
Rainbow felt bad, but she didn't dwell on it. "She probably just felt bad for losing track of Angel."
Though it wasn't uncommon for Angel Bunny to get grumpy with Fluttershy once in a while, most ponies in Ponyville would think that he and Fluttershy have a good relationship. Aside from his rude remarks against the shy Pegasus, they were happy friends.
Applejack stood up walking over to the last unbucked apple tree, surrounded by empty baskets just waiting to be filled. She stared at the hanging apples, reminiscing in their reflections off of the sun light in a brief pause before continuing her story.
"I think that there's more to it than that. Yah see, after Fluttershy thanked me for helping her find Angel, they both started headin' on back to the cottage, but I'm certain I heard Fluttershy sobbing again under her breath. I asked what was bothering her, but all she said was that she needed ta be alone fer a while.'"
The blue pegasus didn't say anything. Now she was concerned for her friend's response, wondering what was going on in Fluttershy's head. What she must be going through. Was there anything she could do to help?
"Finished at last." Rarity said as she put away the last of her fabric with a huge sigh of relief.
All of her customers had to come down for size fitting since she didn't have anyone to model for her. She felt exhausted; her hooves in dire need of a treatment from the beauty parlor. The white unicorn just wanted to throw herself in a bath to unwind her hooves from all the sowing she'd been through. She was just about the flip the 'open' sign on her door to 'close' when Pinkie Pie's face landed right on the window of the door.
"Hi Rarity!" The pink bouncing pony exclaimed.
Rarity threw herself backwards in her surprise from seeing Pinkie's face randomly appear in front of her. "Pinkie, whatever are you doing? You nearly turned my mane grey."
Pinkie opened the door. "Oops, sorry about that. I just stopped by to talk to you about something."
"What is it darling?"
"Twilight told me that Fluttershy's been really sad lately. Like super duper crying sad."
"Sad about what dear? What's been bothering her?" Rarity asked.
"I dunno." Pinkie began to frown a little.
Rarity felt shocked, but confused. "Well then if we don't know what Fluttershy is sad about, then how does Twilight know she's even sad?"
Pinkie just shrugged, not knowing how to answer her. "That's why Twilight asked me to get the gang to meet up together in the library tomorrow morning so we can talk about it and try to cheer her up. Something about Fluttershy crying all day at the lake."
The white unicorn's concerned expression altered into a more worried face. "Crying? All day? Oh the poor thing! Pinkie Pie, you tell Twilight I'll be there tomorrow without delay."
"Okkie Dokkie Lokkie!"
Before Pinkie could walk out the front door to find her other friends, Rarity had to know more. "Um, Pinkie dear, have you seen Fluttershy sad lately?"
"I haven't seen Fluttershy all day. I even made her a super-duper special cupcake just for her, but she wasn't at Sugarcube Corner today. She must be pretty sad."
"Well as her dearest friends, we will be sure to, as you would say; turn that frown upside down."
"You betcha! It's getting dark now, so I gotta go tell the others now. Do you know where I can find Applejack and Rainbow Dash?"
"Why, I believe Rainbow Dash is out helping Applejack with something at Apple Acres. Aren't you going to go invite Fluttershy as well?"
"Nope. Twilight's already taking care of that. See ya later Rarity. You're a good friend." The pink pony bounced excitingly out of the shop, hoping towards the farm.
"Ta-ta darling!" Rarity yelled.
She then closed the front door and flipped her 'open sign' to 'close' before turning off the lights, making her way into the kitchen to make some tea. The smell of the warm natural herbs soothed her lungs as she levitated the tea bag in the boiling pot.
The image of Fluttershy's sad face was fixed in her mind as she stood at the window looking out at Celestia's sun setting off in the distance. She thought of her dear pegasus friend and what she would say when she saw her tomorrow.
Applejack gave a final kick at the last tree as the remaining apples in the field fell nicely into the empty baskets, relieved that all their hard work had paid off. They secured the heavy baskets on their backs and headed back to the barn, where rows upon rows of apples were stacked neatly against each other.
It was perfect timing. The sun had just set over the horizon, which cooled the air even more. There was a light glow coming from Ponyville as day time turned into night time. Applejack flipped on a nearby lantern.
Rainbow dropped the baskets on the ground in fatigue. "Now are we done? I'm starving over here."
"Not yet Rainbow. Let's take a ten minute break and then head on over ta Fluttershy's house. I just thought of somethin'. I think Fluttershy may be feelin' really down right about now. "
"Why? I thought Fluttershy would already be used to patching things up with that grouchy bunny."
"Remember when I went to the market today to go and get us some more baskets?"
Rainbow Dash nodded.
"Well, I saw Fluttershy walkin' out of the store across the street and bumped into another mare. Then she got yelled at fer not watching where she was goin'. Next thing I saw, she ran off in a frantic off towards her house."
This began to enrage Rainbow Dash, tensing up in her hooves as her stance changed. The only thing she didn't like hearing about Fluttershy crying was somepony else making Fluttershy cry. "Who? Who made her cry? Tell me where she is, I'll give her a big piece of my mi-"
"Now hold yer hooves there sugarcube. I went on over to that mean pony and set her straight. It's not important now. What's done is done." She neglected however to say who that pony was.
"Not important? She didn't deserve that. There's no way I'm just gonna let some mare make Fluttershy cry for an accident. We need to find this pony and kick her flank!"
Rainbow hind leg kicked over a basket of apples, breaking a few in the process. Applejack could now see how upset she was, remembering how she and Fluttershy were close fillyhood friends. She knew however that anger wasn't the best answer right now.
"Hold yer hooves there Dash. I know you care fer yer friend as much as I do, but what she needs right now is for us to be there fer her."
Rainbow paused her anger and relaxed her body. She then then smiled at the orange pony and knew how right she was. "You got it, let's grab ourselves a snack and then we can head on out."
Just then, she heard somepony singing, coming up along the path. It was Pinkie Pie, doing her usual enthusiastic bouncing and chanting walk towards Sweet Apple Acres. She hoped over the fence and landed just in front of the barn door.
"Hey guys, watcha doin?" Pinkie asked.
"We just finished up the harvesting fer the month." Answered Applejack.
Pinkie smiled with glee and excitement. "Wow, you guys worked hard! Just think of how many pies you could make for all the parties I would throw for you. I bet I'd have so many pies that there wouldn't even be enough parties to fill them with." The pink pony began bouncing passed all the apple filled baskets with excitement.
"Yeah, I bet yer right," She was glad to know somepony appreciated the hard work.
Rainbow had a curious question. "Hey Pinkie Pie, have you seen Fluttershy lately?"
Pinkie stopped bouncing. "Now that you mention it, I haven't seen her come by Sugarcube Corner in a few days," She then paused with a sudden awareness. "Oh, that's why I came over to find you. Twilight told me that Fluttershy has been feeling sad lately and wanted me to invite you guys to the library tomorrow morning so we can have an invention
"An intervention?" Applejack interjected knowing that Pinkie wasn't always good at pronouncing Twilight's words.
"Yes! That's it." Pinkie Smiled.
Rainbow yawned. "So then we'll meet up with her tomorrow? We can make Fluttershy feel better?"
"Yep, you betcha! Oh, and Twilight also wanted you to bring some of your apple cider." Nopony could resist Sweet Apple Acres apple cider.
Applejack smiled. "Sure, I think I got some extra bottles in the cellar. Much obliged Pinkie. We're willing ta do anythin' fer our little Flutter-"
Suddenly, all three ponies saw a small familiar dragon figure coming up the path, running as fast as he could. He was yelling something, but nopony could hear him.
Applejack squinted her eyes. "Is that Spike?" What's he got his tail in a boot fer now?"
Fluttershy's cottage was coming closer into view as the sun continued to tilt more and more over the horizon. After a few more minutes of silence, Spike had a question for Twilight.
"Have you seen Fluttershy today?" He asked.
"No, I haven't," The lilac unicorn looked at the ground, but then seemed to recall something else, "but I think I overheard the clerk at the store talking about Fluttershy running off from his store crying after buying some garden supplies."
Now Spike was feeling kind of down. "I hope she's not in a sad slump. I always feel so empty and hollow whenever Fluttershy gets this way. She's supposed to be the element of kindness, not sadness." Spike and Twilight were both getting the same vibe.
Knowing that this conversation wasn't helping, Twilight changed the subject and broke out of her depressing state. "Well then, it's up to us as her faithful friends to make sure she's happy and healthy."
"What do you think would make her happy?"
They were just crossing the small stone creek bridge at the cottage. It was almost dark outside as the sky turned into a soft purple haze. The temperature dropped again as the trees swayed from the wind blowing towards the north.
"I've asked Pinkie to gather our friends to meet at the library tomorrow morning so we can see what's been bothering Fluttershy. Plus I've asked Pinkie to make sure Applejack brings over some of her apple cider."
"So we're here to invite Fluttershy?"
"Exactly. Hopefully, this will put her in a good mood," She smiled at her plan, convinced that it would work.
"That sounds good. I just want to see the old Fluttershy again, like the one who fell for my cuteness when we first met." He grinned a little at the thought of the yellow pegusus being bashful.
Twilight and Spike were just outside Fluttershy's front door. It was really quiet outside now. Not even the birds or bunnies where out in the yard like they usually were. The lights inside the home were off too.
"Now remember Spike," said Twilight, "we're not here to confront Fluttershy on her depression. We're just here for a visit like we normally do."
"Normal. Got it." He gave the thumbs up, a smile and a wink.
Twilight raised her hoof as she knocked once on the door and was about to follow up with another two knocks when the door slid slightly open. They both peered inside but only saw darkness.
"Um, Fluttershy?" Twilight said softly. "Are you home? It's us, Twilight and Spike."
There was no reply. The lilac unicorn slowly creaked open the door, but there wasn't enough light left in the day to brighten up the inside of Fluttershy's home. They both slowly walked into the unlit room.
"Maybe she's sleeping. We don't want to wake her." Whispered Spike.
"But we need to make sure she's okay, now help me find the light switch." Twilight whispered back. Her horn then began to glow as she casted a luminary spell. There was a small sphere of light around her head as she walked along the wall looking for the light switch.
Spike motioned his hands along the wall opposite of Twilight, trying to feel for a switch since he couldn't see. He was not even five feet away from the door when he tripped over something. "Ow," he groaned.
"You okay?" Twilight suddenly noticed an unlit candle on the window table in front of her. She then proceeded to use her magic to light the candle and hover it over to where she thought Spike was, seeing him on the ground in a silly manner.
"Yeah, I just tripped over some books." He grabbed the floating candle and was about to continue down the side of the wall when he noticed that these weren't just books, they were photo albums. Inside were dozens of pictures of Fluttershy's friends, animals, and even some beautiful scenery taken from her home in Cloudsdale. But he also noticed how the current open page was slightly wet with something.
"Found it," Said Twilight as she flipped on the light switch, which was quickly followed by a scream from Spike as he fell backwards onto the floor, dropping the candle in shock from what laid in front of his eyes.
Twilight turned around about to ask what the problem was, but just stood there with her eyes widened in terror. "Oh sweet Celestia!" She exclaimed.
Before the unicorn and the dragon was the soft yellow pegasus hanging motionless just over the table, and her wings were not moving.
End part 1