Chapter Ten: Fatal Flaws

Fluttershy heard a knock on her door. She was busy tending to a young raccoon’s wound, so she gently said to it, “Please sit still for a second.” She went to the door and opened it, and saw that Twilight stood beyond. “Oh! Hello, Twilight,” she said with a polite smile.

“May I come in?” Twilight asked.

“Of course,” Fluttershy replied. Once Twilight had entered, Fluttershy said, “Please have a seat. I need to finish treating a wound.”

“Go ahead,” Twilight said, sitting on Fluttershy’s sofa. Fluttershy went to the raccoon, finished binding bandages around its leg, and said, “There. Now don’t run for a while; you need to rest and let it heal.”

The raccoon squeaked gratefully and hopped into Fluttershy’s forelegs. Fluttershy hovered to the raccoon’s bed, where she gently laid it down. “Try to get some sleep,” she whispered, and the raccoon yawned, curled up, and closed its eyes in slumber.

Fluttershy trotted to the sofa, where she sat next to Twilight. “Sorry about that,” she said.

“It’s alright,” Twilight replied.

“So, did you want anything?”

Twilight nodded. “Yes. I have a question.”

“Okay. What is it?”

“Fluttershy,” Twilight said concernedly, “why haven’t you told Rainbow how you feel yet?”

Fluttershy blinked for a moment, then hid behind her mane. “Well… um… she wouldn’t… um, want me…”

“Why not? You know she’s considering having a girlfriend now.”

“Yes, but she wouldn’t want me.”

“Why wouldn’t she want you? I don’t understand. Why do you think that?”

Fluttershy felt the beginnings of tears welling in her eyes. “If she wanted me, she’d still be with me. But it’s okay. She doesn’t need me anymore.”

“Fluttershy, I really, really think you should try telling her. Do you still think she’ll stop being your friend? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Rainbow has a lot of girls vying for her affection, and now she knows some of them are in love with her. She’s also still willing to be their friend.”

Fluttershy’s eyes widened. “R-really?! Who?!”

“I can’t tell you unless they let me. The point is, Fluttershy, the worst that will happen is Rainbow will want to just be your friend.” Twilight smiled. “I also think you have a much better chance with her than you think.”

Fluttershy gasped. “Really?!”

“Yes. But, Fluttershy…”

Twilight frowned. “This might be your last chance. If you don’t tell her now, you might never get to again. You could already be too late. So I’m begging you, please tell her. I really don’t want you to wish you did this and regret not doing it for the rest of your life.”

Twilight stood up. “Please tell her, Fluttershy.”

Twilight went to the door. As she exited, she said, “Goodbye.”

Fluttershy sat still, contemplating what Twilight had told her. “Rainbow… will still be my friend?” she whispered to herself. She laid down on the sofa, blushing. “I have a better chance than I think?”

Fluttershy squeaked in fright. “But… what if she doesn’t want me?”

Fluttershy swallowed. “Then, at least, she’ll still be my friend…”

Fluttershy had never felt so conflicted before. Up until now, confessing her feelings to Rainbow was never even an option. Even though Twilight had told her Rainbow didn’t deserve her if she severed their relationship entirely, Fluttershy didn’t want lose what few friends she had gained, no matter how much they didn’t deserve her. Fluttershy knew that she should probably let go of such friends, but there was no way she was going to let go of Rainbow; no matter what she did, Fluttershy couldn’t stop loving her. She couldn’t lose her, no matter what.

But… according to Twilight, Fluttershy wouldn’t lose Rainbow. Rainbow would always remain her friend. Fluttershy made a small smile and giggled. “She is the Element of Loyalty, after all…”

But still, Fluttershy feared the possibility of being rejected as Rainbow’s potential lover. Fluttershy knew that she would endure pain beyond imagining if she was. She was torn between her torturous longing for Rainbow and the fear of the even greater torment of learning that she’d never have her.

However, Fluttershy came to realize: though being turned away by Rainbow would be terrible, Twilight was right. If she didn’t tell Rainbow, she’d regret it for the rest of her life. The pain of never having Rainbow would be great, but not as great as never having her while never knowing if she could have. That she should have tried.

Fluttershy had to try. Fluttershy stood up, glaring at the ceiling. “I’m going to try,” she said.

The moment she said this, panic overcame her. She whimpered and lowered back into a crouch. Now that she’d decided to actually do it, she was even more frightened than she’d been before.

Fluttershy would need more courage than she’d ever needed before to do this. Fluttershy sighed. Building that courage up would take a while…

* * *

After Rainbow had gone into an empty alleyway and quietly wept for a while, she cleaned her face back up and went to see Pinkie Pie. She entered Sugar Cube Corner and trotted up the stairs, where she heard Pinkie sobbing behind her bedroom’s closed door. She gently knocked on it, but Pinkie only continued sobbing.

Rainbow opened the door and poked her head inside. Pinkie was curled up on her bed, weeping into her forelegs. “Hey, Pinkie,” Rainbow said.

Pinkie looked up, frowning sorrowfully. “Hi, Dashie,” she whispered.

Rainbow stepped inside. “Are you alright?”

Pinkie sniffed, tears welling in her eyes again. “No…”

Pinkie returned to sobbing into her blankets. “I… I’m a… a… a freak!” she cried.

Rainbow stepped closer to her. “What?”

Pinkie looked despairingly at her. “You don’t like me, do you? You can’t stand me, can you?”

Rainbow glared. “Pinkie, don’t let Gilda get to-”

“It’s true, though…” Pinkie muttered. She sniffed. “I’m just a sad, pathetic little clown. Everypony likes to laugh at me… but nopony really wants to be my friend…”

Pinkie sobbed again. “I’m just an annoying little nuisance. I’m just fun and games. I know I am. I know I am…”

Rainbow blinked. She could see now that Pinkie’s pain went beyond what Gilda had said to her. Gilda had touched a deeper fear, a secret self-loathing that Pinkie had always hidden from her friends.

Pinkie continued, “I know… I know you went out with me just to be nice, Rainbow… I…”

“No,” Rainbow said. She climbed up onto the bed and laid on her belly next to Pinkie. “I really do like you, Pinkie. That’s why I went out with you.”

Pinkie looked up at Rainbow hopefully. “Really?”

“Yeah,” Rainbow said. “I mean, sometimes you can be a little annoying. But you’re really awesome, Pinkie. You were the first one who welcomed me into Ponyville. You’re the best friend ever. You-”

Rainbow was interrupted by Pinkie’s lips being pressed against hers. After Pinkie had kissed her, she snuggled up against Rainbow, smiling. “Thanks, Dashie,” she said.

Rainbow smiled, as well. “Anytime, Pinkie.”

Rainbow placed her foreleg around Pinkie and held her. Her face burned as Pinkie leaned against her chest. It would be so easy. Rainbow so desperately wanted to show Pinkie that she really did want her, wanted to comfort her even more…

But Rainbow gritted her teeth and resisted determinedly. She would not take advantage of Pinkie in this vulnerable state. She couldn’t go that far with Pinkie, not yet…

So Rainbow sat still, giving Pinkie nothing more than her presence. After a few minutes, Rainbow felt Pinkie begin breathing deeply, and when she looked at her she saw that Pinkie had fallen asleep.

Rainbow stood up, picked up a blanket, and draped it over Pinkie’s form. She kissed her cheek, turned out the light, and exited her room.

Once Rainbow had closed Pinkie’s door, she returned to her own house.

* * *

Rainbow was awakened by a knock upon her door. Her eyes fluttered open, and she groaned. She was in no condition to entertain company; she was drenched in sweat, her mane was a mess, and there was an issue of Naughty Teen Mares on the ground beside her.

There was another knock on her door. “I’m coming!” she called, and she grumblingly tossed her magazine back into her closet and went out of her back door, where she took a quick roll on the cloud to lightly rinse her body and mane. After she had made her mane somewhat presentable, she went back inside and opened the front door, where she saw Scootaloo smiling up at her. “Hi, Rainbow!” she said cheerfully.

Rainbow smiled back at her. “Hey, squirt,” she said. “You look better.”

“Yeah,” Scootaloo replied, “I am.

“Hey, Rainbow Dash,” Scootaloo said, blushing lightly. “I was wondering- do you think you could go to Apple Bloom’s orchard with me after school today?”

Rainbow grinned. “Sure, squirt. What do you have in mind?”

Scootaloo grinned. “I wanted to play things like Hide and Seek and stuff like that!”

Rainbow laughed. “Yeah, I think I could use something like that. Alright, I’ll meet you there.”

Scootaloo squealed excitedly. “Alright! I’ll see you later, Rainbow!”

“See ya, squirt.”

Scootaloo broke a piece off of Rainbow’s cloud and floated on it back to the ground. Once on the ground, she waved once more at Rainbow before hopping on her scooter and riding away.

Rainbow cleaned herself up properly, then took to the air and began her morning flying drills. After she had performed a few corkscrews, dives, and sharp turns, she descended to the ground and began walking.

Ordinarily, Rainbow would have found a comfortable cloud or tree to take a nap in at this point, but she knew she’d never be able to sleep. She was deeply troubled and torturously sexually frustrated. As much as she’d tried to relieve some of that tension, she found that she still desperately wanted somepony to warm her bed.

Rainbow first considered asking Pinkie, but she angrily reprimanded herself, “Three dates first, Rainbow. Three dates first, Rainbow.” She then wondered if she should fly to Canterlot and find an escort there, but immediately discarded the idea when she remembered that she’d have to get tested for a certificate of health first.

Rainbow groaned. “Come on!” she cried. “It’s been forever since I got laid! I… can’t… bucking…take it anymore!!”

Rainbow furiously kicked a nearby tree, which caused several leaves to drift down from it. After panting for a few moments, an idea struck her. She began trotting to Sweet Apple Acres.

Rainbow found that the farm was busy; Big Mac was pulling hay into the barn, Granny Smith was napping on her rocking chair, and Applejack was bucking apples from trees. “Hey! Applejack!” Rainbow called.

“Hey, Rainbow!” Applejack called back. She kicked a tree, and the apples promptly fell into the buckets beneath it. “What can I do ya for?”

Rainbow approached Applejack. “Can I help you buck these trees?” she asked.

Applejack raised a brow. “Pardon?”

“I need to blow off some steam,” Rainbow explained. “So, can I help you?”

After considering for a moment, Applejack shrugged. “Sure, I guess. I reckon you won’t have much luck, though…”

Rainbow smirked. She stepped up to a tree, turned away from it, and kicked it with a mighty crack. The apples all fell right into the buckets.

Applejack gaped at Rainbow. “How… How-”

“Hey, you Earth ponies might’ve been born with more strength than us Pegasi,” Rainbow said, smugly checking her right fore hoof, “but unlike you, I’ve been training.”

Applejack smirked back. “I suppose you reckon you’ll buck them apples as quick as me, then?”

“Try faster!” Rainbow laughed.

“Alright, you’re on,” Applejack replied.

So Rainbow and Applejack began bucking the apples in competition against each other.

Rainbow found that the activity took her mind off of things with some success. As the day went on and the sun rose and began to fall again, Rainbow grew sore and drenched with sweat. As she was taking a short break and panting lightly as beads of sweat rolled down her face, she heard Applejack say, “Woo-whee! I haven’t worked this hard since Big Macintosh broke his ribs!”

As Applejack removed her hat and wiped some sweat from her forehead, Rainbow Dash found herself tracing her eyes over Applejack’s smooth, toned, glistening orange form-

“Ahem,” Applejack said.

Rainbow shook her head. “Huh?”

“Would ya’ll kindly refrain from starin’ at me?” Applejack said angrily.

“Oh,” Rainbow said, looking away and embarrassedly blushing. “Sorry.”

“Hmm,” Applejack said, and she bucked another tree.

More than a little annoyed with herself, Rainbow resumed bucking the trees with renewed vigor. Rainbow was so frustrated she wanted to bite her tail; now she was shamelessly checking out Applejack, of all ponies. “I need some flank so bucking bad…” Rainbow groaned. A small smirk formed on her lips. “Who knows? Maybe Applejack’s a little curious…”

Rainbow shook her head. “Wow. I’m going insane. Now I’m starting to think I can pick up straight Mares…”

But after considering it for a moment, Rainbow chuckled. “Nah, I could totally pick up straight Mares. Hey, maybe I will pick up Applejack if things don’t work out with Pinkie.”

Around this time, the two Mares heard the Crusaders call to them, “Hi, Applejack! Hi, Rainbow!”

Rainbow and Applejack stopped bucking and smiled at the three fillies. “Hey, guys!” Rainbow called back.

After Apple Bloom had opened the gate to let her friends in, Applejack said, “Shoot, well, Ah’m gonna go in and get supper goin’.”

“And we’ll go have our Crusaders meeting!” Sweetie Belle declared.

Rainbow yawned. “I’m gonna go take a nap. Call me when dinner’s ready, yeah?”

“We will!” Scootaloo assured her.

With that, Rainbow flew up into the air and landed on a cloud directly above Sweet Apple Acres, where she curled up. What her mind wouldn’t allow her to do, exhaustion did; she began sleeping.

It seemed to Rainbow as though she had barely closed her eyes when she heard Scootaloo call up to her, “Hey, Dash, dinner’s ready!”

“Alright!” Rainbow yelled back. She hovered back to the ground, then accompanied Scootaloo into the Apples’ home.

After they had eaten, Sweetie Belle returned home while Apple Bloom busied herself with milking the cows. Scootaloo said to Rainbow, “Shall we?”

Rainbow smirked. “After you.”

Scootaloo led Rainbow outside into the apple orchard. Once they were rather deep in the trees, Scootaloo said, “Alright. I’ll go first. Count to twenty, and I’ll go find a hiding place.”

“Alright,” Rainbow replied, and she turned to a tree and leaned against it, covering her eyes with her foreleg. “One… two… three… four…”

As she counted, she heard Scootaloo scamper away. After she reached twenty, Rainbow called out, “Ready or not, here I come!”

Rainbow trotted in the direction she heard Scootaloo go, carefully observing the trees as she went past them. She found herself systematically weaving through the trees, eying them for any signs of the tomboyish filly.

After about fifteen minutes, Rainbow saw a tuft of pink fur peeking out from some leaves. With a smirk, she stepped up to the tree and bucked it, and with a yelp Scootaloo fell from the branches and landed with an “Oof!” over Rainbow’s back.

Rainbow chuckled. “Gotcha,” she said.

Scootaloo hopped down and shook her head. She was trembling slightly. “Come on, Rainbow! Not cool! That was-”

“Terrifying? Brilliant?” Rainbow asked with a smirk.

Scootaloo playfully punched Rainbow’s shoulder. “Alright. Your turn now.”

Rainbow grinned and started running. Once she had traveled a fair distance away from Scootaloo, she skidded to a halt and then began silently creeping in the opposite direction.

Rainbow slinked through the woods, carefully searching for a good spot to hide. Eventually she found one: a rather large log covered in orange moss. With a small chuckle she ducked behind it, closed her eyes, and lightly dozed as she kept her ears perked for Scootaloo.

After some time, Rainbow began to hear faint calls of “…bow? Rainbow? Where are you?”

Rainbow smiled and listened for Scootaloo to draw nearer.

“Rainbow? Are you here? Rainb-”

But then Scootaloo was suddenly silent. Rainbow’s brow furrowed in confusion as she swiveled her ears for any sound. Several moments passed without so much as a mouse’s squeak.

“Ha!” Scootaloo called, leaping onto Rainbow and wrapping her forelegs around her neck.

Rainbow jumped up, shouting “WAAAH!” Scootaloo began laughing, and Rainbow scoffed. “So you got me,” she said.

“I sure did!” Scootaloo cried, tightening her grip. She remained there for a moment, and Rainbow began to feel distinctly uncomfortable. She wondered, was Scootaloo staying there a little too long?

Scootaloo released her and slid to the ground. “Alright! My turn!”

Rainbow sighed, shook her head, and smiled softly at Scootaloo. “Sure thing, squirt.”

So they continued like this, playing and laughing together as they adventured through the wood of apples. However, Rainbow continued to grow uneasy. More than ever before she now asked herself weather it was wise to be around Scootaloo. Something seemed a little… different about her…

When twilight began to fall, Scootaloo said to Rainbow, “Come with me to the clubhouse! I wanna show you something!”

Rainbow gave her a small smile. “Alright…”

Just be careful, Rainbow thought. Probably nothing to worry about…

Scootaloo led her to the Crusaders’ clubhouse. Rainbow stepped up the ramp to it, with Scootaloo following her. Once they were inside, Scootaloo shut the door behind them.

Rainbow noticed that there were three sleeping bags on the floor. “Hey, why are these here?” Rainbow asked.

Scootaloo smiled. “Oh, me and my friends had a sleepover last night!”

Rainbow nodded. Still, she only felt more uneasy…

“So,” Rainbow said, clearing her throat, “What did you want to show me?”

Scootaloo trotted to one of the windows. “Look,” she said, pointing out.

Rainbow sat beside Scootaloo and peered out.

Rainbow gasped. It was absolutely stunning. The oranges and reds of the leaves and apples seemed to be a reflection of the peach-colored sky above them, and Rainbow could see the stars faintly shine behind the purple inkiness above the sun’s last lights.

“Wow,” said Rainbow. “It’s beautiful.”

“Hey, Rainbow,” Scootaloo said.

Rainbow turned to her. “Yeah?”

“Can I tell you a secret?”

Rainbow blinked a few times, but gave Scootaloo a small smile. “Sure.”

Scootaloo beckoned Rainbow closer. Once Rainbow had lowered her head, Scootaloo stood and brought her lips nearer to Rainbow’s ear.

“I love you,” she whispered.

Before Rainbow could respond, she was silenced. Scootaloo was kissing her.

Rainbow was so completely shocked that she sat in complete paralyzed motionlessness. After a moment, however, Scootaloo began to slide her tongue into Rainbow’s mouth, and at that instant Rainbow fearfully yelped and pulled back, taking a few steps away from Scootaloo.

Rainbow looked down at Scootaloo, and what she saw absolutely crushed her. Scootaloo was fearfully ducked down, her ears flattened against her head. “Oh,” she said, like the whine of a puppy expecting to get kicked.

Rainbow said nothing for some time, largely because she was at a complete loss as to what to say. She was terrified, shocked, utterly confused, and woefully distressed. As she gazed at Scootaloo, she felt nothing but heartache at what she had to do. It was despairingly difficult for Rainbow to think of the words to say, let alone to muster the courage to speak them.

Rainbow swallowed, made a painful smile, and spoke as gently as she possibly could. “Um, Scootaloo,” she said. “Uhh… well, um, I’m sorry, but… this… this can’t…”

Rainbow began trembling, and she swallowed again. “I know that you… but…”

Rainbow took a deep breath. “Scootaloo, I’m sorry, but… I can’t… y’know, um…”

Tears were welling in Scootaloo’s eyes. This was getting harder every second. Rainbow continued, “I can be… your friend, Scootaloo, but… I… I can’t…”

“Why not?” Scootaloo whispered.

Rainbow opened her mouth to speak, but only said, “I… I…”

“Do you not like me?”

Rainbow shook her head. “No. It’s not that. It’s not that I don’t like you. Its-”

Scootaloo was crying now. “Am I not pretty enough for you?”

“No, no… I… think you’re pretty…” Rainbow cringed. That was not the right thing to say.

Scootaloo’s eyes widened, then she glared at Rainbow. “Am I not good enough for you?”

Rainbow found herself again so shocked she was unable to speak. Scootaloo seemed very angry. “I…”

“Well? Am I not good enough for you?”

Rainbow blinked as Scootaloo wiped her tears away. “No, it’s not that you’re not good enough-”

Scootaloo pounded the ground. “Then why? Why can’t you be with me?”

Rainbow felt completely trapped. “Well… Well, um-”

“Well?!”

Rainbow was silent for a few moments, then she took another breath and said, “Look, Scootaloo, there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s just that you’re too young. That’s all.”

Scootaloo furiously gaped at Rainbow, as though she couldn’t believe what she just said. “That’s it?” Scootaloo asked.

Rainbow stared at Scootaloo. “…What do you mean?”

“That’s why you can’t be with me? It’s because I’m too young?!”

Scootaloo pounded the ground again. “That’s the stupidest bucking thing I’ve ever heard in my life!”

Scootaloo had just sworn at her. Every time Rainbow thought that Scootaloo couldn’t surprise her anymore, she was again proven wrong. “Scootaloo, I know it might be hard to understand-”

“I’ll understand just fine!” Scootaloo shouted. “Why does my being younger than you mean I can’t be with you?!”

“Look, Scootaloo, I don’t know if I should tell you-”

“Is it because you’re not allowed to have sex with me?”

A powerful thrill coursed through Rainbow. Her eyes widened to the size of dinner plates, her mouth slightly ajar. Scootaloo smirked. “Yeah, I know, Rainbow. I know more than you think. You’re worried that you’ll be ‘exploiting’ me, right?”

Rainbow stammered incoherently. How could she know…?

“They think if you’re my girlfriend, you’ll abuse me and scar me for life. But they’re wrong, Rainbow. You’re not asking me, I’m asking you. I know you’d never hurt me, Rainbow.”

Scootaloo smiled seductively at Rainbow. “You can do whatever you want to me.”

Rainbow stared astonishedly at Scootaloo. This sweet little filly knew exactly what she was doing. At that moment, Rainbow realized: Scootaloo was never innocent. All this time, she’d been attempting to seduce her. All those vaguely flirtatious little comments, every time Scootaloo had touched her, that moment Scootaloo first asked Rainbow out and declared that she would be her big sister- these were all part of a plan to bring the both of them to this place and moment.

They were alone, where no one could see them and no one would find them. The lighting was perfect, and the scenery was stunning. There was a bed prepared on the ground for them, Rainbow was growing desperate, and Scootaloo was openly offering herself to her and looking at her with what Rainbow could now recognize was pure adoration and longing. Rainbow had to give Scootaloo credit; she couldn’t have created a more perfect scenario.

Rainbow felt herself begin to weep. Scootaloo really did love her. Nothing would ever break Rainbow’s heart more than what she had to do now.

Rainbow smiled sadly. “I’m sorry, squirt, but it’s not gonna happen. I know that you think it would be fine, but I still can’t do it.”

Scootaloo’s smile faded. “But why? You’d never hurt me, Rainbow.”

Rainbow laughed sadly. “To be honest, squirt, you make a good case. It’s hard to argue with you. You might be right. You might be safe with me. But you’re also right about another thing: I don’t want to hurt you. And maybe I will. So I’m not gonna let that happen.”

Scootaloo began weeping again. Rainbow sighed exhaustedly. “You’re just too young. That’s really all there is to it.”

Scootaloo sniffed, and she looked up at Rainbow with a tiny smile of hope. “So… so when I’m older-”

“Maybe. But by then you or I might already be with somepony else. I wouldn’t hold my breath.”

The expression on Scootaloo’s face was one of pure despair. “But I love you,” she whispered.

A few tears streamed down Rainbow’s face, and she embraced Scootaloo. “I love you too, Scoot. That’s why I have to do this.”

After a few moments, Scootaloo began sobbing into Rainbow’s chest. Rainbow comfortingly stroked her back. “Man,” she muttered, “this whole thing has been completely bucked up for everybody…”

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