Sweet Apple Acres was cool this time of year and as usual Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash were in a pranking mood. Normally, they would aim for Applejack, but this time they were targeting her older brother Big Macintosh. They had set a surprise for him on a path they knew he would take eventually. The prank was that once he hit a tripwire they had set up a pulled back branch would be released and hit him in the chest. For Pinkie and Rainbow it was set at face level, but Big Mac was taller not to mention that his yoke would protect him so he was not in danger. They only wanted to surprise or scare the quiet stallion. What happened was still a surprise but was not fun.
Fluttershy was walking along Ponyville square when a sudden craving for an apple pastry came over her. She immediately headed to Sugarcube Corner to find Pinkie Pie. The town bakery was alive with happy activity and smelled wonderful to the pegasus who was used to the simple quiet smells of nature. Fluttershy walked to the counter and waited to be pounced by Pinkie. She would always be startled no matter how much she knew that it would happen. She never told Pinkie to stop because that was the few interactions the two would ever have. 'Why can't I just tell her,' Fluttershy thought to herself. After a minute of no surprise pouncing she relaxed and then immediately braced herself thinking that Pinkie was waiting for her to relax. Still nothing happened, so she rang the little bell that was on the counter.
Mr. Cake was in the kitchen and walked to the counter with a smile said, "Why hello there Fluttershy. What can I get for you today?"
"Oh hello Mr. Cake," Fluttershy said softly, "Is Pinkie here?"
"Nope," Mr. Cake said, "I gave her the day off. She could really use it. I think she's with your friend Rainbow Dash. Would you like me to get you something?" Mr. Cake was a salesman and knew that Fluttershy required a soft sell.
"Well I would like an apple fritter," she said softly as usual, "um, if that's alright."
Mr. Cake laughed happily. He never met a pony as shy and polite as Fluttershy. "Of course it's alright," he said, "let me just grab it for you."
"Thank you," Fluttershy said. She reached under her wing and pulled out her change purse, fished out the four bits, and placed them on the table. Mr. Cake returned and said, "Oh no Fluttershy. You get the family discount! That'll be two bits!"
"Oh no," Fluttershy squeaked, "I insist. I can't take a discount. That would hurt your business."
She pushed the bits over to Mr Cake who sighed defeated knowing once again that Fluttershy would not take the discount. "All of your other friends only pay half," he said, "Why is it so hard for you to accept it?"
"I just don't want to take food out of your mouths," Fluttershy said softly, "I know things are tough for you this time of year. When business picks up again, I'll take you up on that discount." She smiled warmly and received one in return.
"Well," Mr. Cake said smiling, "You can't blame an old colt for trying."
Fluttershy giggled, enjoyed her pastry, and left for home. Back out in the cool air, she had a change of heart. 'It looks like a nice day for a walk,' she thought to herself. Pointing herself in no particular direction, she found herself walking towards Sweet Apple Acres. She kept her pace at a quick trot by her standards, but she still managed to get to the Apple family farm by lunchtime.
Rainbow Dash was waiting impatiently for Big Mac to spring the trap. She did not have the patience for this like Pinkie did, and secretly hoped that anypony would spring the trap so they could move on to more fun things. She would soon get her wish.
"Um, Dashie," Pinkie said softly, "Can you keep a secret"?
"Sure," Rainbow said.
"Promise you won't laugh at me," Pinkie asked.
"Can't promise you that," Rainbow said giggling, "That might be my natural reaction."
Pinkie's face became solemn and asked, "Then promise me that you won't hate me if I tell you."
"Um Pinkie," Rainbow said, "Whatever it is there is no way I could hate you for it." The rainbow maned pegasus turned her body so she was facing her pink friend, "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine," Pinkie said, "It's just that. I. I mean, I'm. I'm a." Pinkie was stammering for words then after a sigh said, "Forget it. It's not important."
"No," Rainbow said, "This is really bothering you, and if you don't let it out it will eat you up. I promise that whatever it is I'll help." She gave her friend a warm smile that seemed to relax the pink earth pony.
"Ok," Pinkie said, "It's just that I don't want you to think I'm weird."
"You're Pinkie," Rainbow said, "You are the definition of weird."
"Fine," Pinkie said trying to sound angry but was clearly hurt, "then I guess you don't have to hear it. I'll just let it eat my 'weird' little heart out."
"Pinkie," Rainbow said softly, "I didn't mean it in a bad way. I just meant that you are so random sometimes and, yeah, can come off a little weird. I'm sorry. Please tell me what's bothering you."
"Ok," Pinkie began again, "There is a certain pony that I really like."
"And," Rainbow asked.
"That's it," Pinkie said.
"That's it," Rainbow asked, "That's it? All of that suspense and all you have to say is that you have a crush on some colt? C'mon Pinkie!"
"Rainbow," Pinkie said, "The secret isn't that I like somepony. It's that it's not, um a colt." The last part was a quiet whisper that Rainbow could not understand.
"Not a what now," she asked.
Pinkie sighed and repeated louder, "Not a colt." She waited for the axe to fall. For her friend to call her a 'freak' and laugh at her.
"So what," Rainbow asked, "you mean an older stallion? Is this pony married?"
Pinkie sighed, "No. It's not a colt or a stallion." She motioned her forelegs towards Rainbow clearly trying to give her a clue.
"Yeah I'm not following you here Pinks," Rainbow said, "If it's not a colt and it's not a stallion. That only leaves..." She trailed off the pieces clicking into place, "You like fillies?"
"No," Pinkie said, "Well just one specific filly."
"Who," Rainbow asked, "And for how long?"
"Well this you absolutely have to keep secret," Pinkie whispered.
"Ok," Pinkie whispered, "It's..."
At that time there was a snap of the tripwire, followed by the sound of air being cut by the pulled branch, and the satisfying smack of it hitting its target. Rainbow was about to give a sigh of relief when the following sound was screaming and crying.
Both ponies looked back to their trap and were shocked to find Fluttershy rolling on the ground, her hooves covering her face, screaming and crying in absolute agony. They bolted to the pegasus and tried to calm her down.
"That's not Big Mac," Rainbow said slightly still in shock.
"You think," screamed Pinkie, "What have I told you? Fluttershy is off limits to pranks!"
"I know," Rainbow said. She was holding the writhing pegasus and tried to calm her down, "It's ok Fluttershy! I'm here and I'm gonna take you to the hospital!" She turned to Pinkie and said, "Get the tripwire and tie Fluttershy's rear legs to my waist. I'm going to hold her on my back with my forelegs."
Pinkie hoisted Fluttershy who kept crying, "Ow! Ow ow ow! It hurts!" Each 'ow' broke the pink pony's heart to see the kind pegasus in such agony, and it was made worse since the prank was her idea. Now the pony she loved most was badly hurt and could possibly be blind.
In no time Rainbow was off in the air and there was nothing but a rainbow streak in the sky. Pinkie galloped after her as fast as she could hoping to reach the hospital in time. "Please be ok Fluttershy," Pinkie said softly as she ran following the rainbow streak in the sky.
Rainbow was flying as fast as she could and needed to fly faster. Her wings were beginning to strain and she just pushed herself faster. Fluttershy had her forelegs around Rainbow's neck and wanted them to her face. The wind was not helping and Rainbow caught a glimpse of her friend's face and saw that she was bleeding from her eyes as well as crying. Her wings were hurting more, but she would risk a temporary strain or muscle tear if it meant saving Fluttershy's eyes. 'We should've been paying attention,' she scolded herself, 'This is all Pinkie's fault. The prank was her idea, and she was talking about liking some filly when Fluttershy sprang it.' Suddenly, Rainbow felt a sharp stab in her right wing. She lost altitude and with a scream of determination forced the pained wing to keep flapping. She reached the hospital and crashed to the ground. The nurses saw Fluttershy's face and heard her cries and immediatly placed her onto a gurney and wheeled her inside.
About fifteen minutes later, Pinkie ran into the hospital panting heavily and nearly collapsed. Rainbow was standing in the waiting room, and her wing was bandaged. Pinkie slowly walked up to her and fell over exhausted.
A nurse gave her a glass of water and Pinkie asked, "How is she?"
"I don't know," Rainbow said softly, "I think she may be blind."
Pinkie shot to her feet and fell back over dizzy. From the floor she asked with her eyes full of tears, "What do you mean, Dashie? How do you know?"
"I don't," Rainbow said, "It's just that on the way over here I caught a glimpse of Fluttershy's face and she was bleeding from her eyes. That can't be good. I think we blinded her." Rainbow's eyes were also full of tears.
"No," Pinkie said, "Not Fluttershy." She looked to the emergency room doors and whispered, "Please, not her. Blind me. I deserve it."
"Pinkie," Rainbow said, "It was an accident. Yeah we should've been paying attention, but it was still an accident. I feel terrible, but why are you so..." Rainbow looked at the doors and back to Pinkie and she knew, "Pinkie." Pinkie looked up to Rainbow. "Is Fluttershy the pony you like?"
Pinkie nodded slowly and began to cry, "Now she'll hate me forever!"
"This is Fluttershy," Rainbow said, "She'll forgive you. In fact, I bet she already has. She's just in too much pain right now." She cringed immediately after saying that knowing it was the wrong thing to say. Tact was never a trait of Rainbow's.
Pinkie began to cry even harder now, and buried her face into her mane which had become quite straight. Rainbow nudged her and Pinkie saw the doctor standing in front of them. She ran up to him and asked, "Is she ok?"
"Yes," the doctor said, "Your friend is in stable condition, and it does not look as though the damage to her eyes is permanent. She will need to stay overnight so we can treat her eyes. I see no reason why she won't make a full recovery."
"Thank you," Pinkie said softly her mane now slightly wavy, "Can I see her?"
"Yes of course," the doctor said, "but remember that the room will be darkened to protect her eyes."
Both ponies nodded, and made their way to the room where Fluttershy was resting. She stirred when she heard somepony enter the room, "H, hello," she said softly her voice full of fear, "Who's there?"
"It's me Fluttershy," Rainbow said, "Pinkie's here too."
"Hey Fluttershy," Pinkie said softly, "I'm so sorry I hurt you. I know you hate me now." She began to tear up again and moved closer to Fluttershy when she motioned for her.
Fluttershy put her hoof to Pinkie's face and leaned forward and hugged the pink pony. Pinkie began to cry and Fluttershy said softly, "It's ok. It was an accident. I don't blame you." She pulled away gave a small smile, to the window. Pinkie nudged her chin to face her. Fluttershy giggled and said, "I'll have to get used to that. At least it will only be for one night."
All this time Rainbow was thinking and suddenly had an idea. She quietly left the room and looked for the doctor. She found him looking over a chart and she asked, "Hey, are you keeping her here so you can routinely wash her eyes?"
The doctor nodded, "Yes. She will need to have her eyes cleaned every six hours, or the pain could return and cause more damage."
"Is it possible for someone without medical training to do it," Rainbow asked.
"I don't see why not," the doctor said, "but I would rather she stay here. Why do you ask?"
"Well," Rainbow said, "You know that the accident was the result of a prank that did not go as planned, and my friend is feeling really guilty about it. I was thinking that she could take care of her as a way to make it up to Fluttershy."
"Is she reliable," the doctor asked.
"When her friends need her she is always there," Rainbow said confidently.
"Then if Fluttershy agrees," the doctor conceded, "I have no problem releasing her from our care."
"Great," Rainbow said excitedly, "I'll tell Pinkie!"
Rainbow ran back into the hospital room and saw Pinkie stroking Fluttershy's mane gently. "Hey Pinkie," Rainbow called, "Can I talk to you for a second?"
Pinkie whispered to Fluttershy, "I'm gonna talk to Rainbow. I'm not going to leave the room. If I do I will let you know."
Fluttershy nodded, "Thank you, Pinkie."
Pinkie felt a strong pang of guilt and walked over to Rainbow, "Yes Dashie?"
Rainbow gave the pink pony a big grin and asked, "you wanna make this up to Fluttershy?"
"Of course," Pinkie said softly, "Why? What do you have in mind?"
"Well," Rainbow said, "The doctor told me that the only reason they want to keep her here is to wash her eyes every six hours. That way they'll ensure there is nothing left to damage her vision. Now here's the best part, anypony can do it, and that means you!"
Pinkie looked at Rainbow and then got a big smile, "I can take care of Fluttershy?"
Rainbow nodded, "Yup and if you happen to let it slip that you like her..."
"Dashie," Pinkie scolded quietly looking back to see if Fluttershy heard Rainbow, "After what I did to her, I don't have the right to tell her." She looked to the floor and sighed, "I wish that I never thought of that prank."
"Maybe it's for the best," Rainbow said.
Pinkie looked back to her friend confused, and knew what she meant. Even though Pinkie felt guilty about hurting Fluttershy, she still had a chance to make it right. She nodded and said, "You're right Dashie. I'll take good care of her, and maybe one day I'll tell her how I feel."
Rainbow sighed knowing that there was no convincing Pinkie, "Ok. Just take good care of her."
Pinkie nodded, "I promise. I will take really good care of Fluttershy."
The doctor returned and walked to Fluttershy and said, "Your friend's offered to provide you with the medical care for your eyes. If you agree then I can release you."
"Um," Fluttershy said softly, "Who will be taking care of me?"
"I'll take care of you Fluttershy," Pinkie said softly, "I have to. I need to make this right."
Fluttershy gasped slightly and Pinkie felt bad. She did not know that Fluttershy was really excited to have Pinkie be the pony to take care of her. She was after all in love with the pink party pony.
"I know you're mad at me," Pinkie said softly feeling terrible, "but I will take really good care of you. I promise!"
The doctor had Pinkie fill out the proper forms and Pinkie put the pen in Fluttershy's mouth, blushing slightly as their lips were close together, and helped her mark an 'X' on the signature. After that, Fluttershy was placed onto Pinkie's back and they made their way back to Fluttershy's cottage.
"Pinkie," Fluttershy said softly, "You, um don't have to carry me. I can walk."
"I hurt you," Pinkie said sadly, "I have to do something."
"And you are," Fluttershy said with a small smile, "I know you will take good care of me Pinkie." Fluttershy hugged Pinkie gently with her forelegs causing the pink pony to blush and her heart to skip a beat.
"Thanks Fluttershy," Pinkie said, "It really means a lot to me that you aren't angry with me."
They arrived at the cottage and Pinkie gently helped Fluttershy into her bed and covered her in a sheet. It was almost time for Fluttershy's eyes to be washed, and Pinkie went about darkening Fluttershy's room. She placed heavy blankets on the windows and covered the cracks above and below the door. Soon, the room was so dark that Pinkie had to move the blankets slightly just to get her bearings. 'I think that would work,' Pinkie thought proudly.
She carefully made her way to the kitchen and poured the eye wash into the bowl, and read the instructions to make sure she got everything right. First, she was to carefully remove the gauze bandages around Fluttershy's eyes and then even more carefully remove the cotton pads that covered them. After that, she was to use warm water and a soft sponge to clean the area around the eyes to ensure that no foreign material or dirt could get into Fluttershy's eyes. She was then to carefully pour the eye wash onto Fluttershy's eyes to rinse them out. Pinkie was told that the first time would be very painful for Fluttershy and Pinkie needed to be prepared for it. The washes after that should be considerably less painful. She read the instructions two more time to make sure she had it right. She compared it to a cupcake recipe, and it stuck that much easier.
She gulped knowing that this wash would hurt Fluttershy, but it had to happen. She placed the fresh bandages, warm water, a cloth to dry Fluttershy's face and the eye wash onto a tray, and made her way up the stairs to Fluttershy's room.
Pinkie opened the door and tried to memorize where everything was so she would be able to find it in the dark. She slowly placed the tray on the table next to the bed, and closed the door. Carefully she made her way to the bed, and fantasized about how she perfect this have been if the circumstances were different. In her mind, she would slowly walk over to Fluttershy and carefully lift the shy pegasus to a sitting position, and tilt her head back and gently give her a soft kiss.
Today however, she walked to the bed, carefully helped Fluttershy to a sitting position, tilted her head back and gently removed the bandages around her eyes.
Fluttershy remained calm and trusted Pinkie to take care of her, but she was nervous since the doctor told that the first wash would be worst of the three washes. Her heart was beating faster and faster as Pinkie set herself behind her and wrapped her forelegs around the yellow pegasus. Fluttershy let her head rest against Pinkie's shoulder and that allowed her bandages to be removed easily. Once the pads were removed from her eyelids she tried to open them, but Pinkie stopped her.
"Not yet," Pinkie said, "I still need to wash your face." Pinkie dipped the sponge into the warm water, she made certain was in a square container so she would keep track of it in the dark, and began to gently scrub Fluttershy's face. She scrubbed around her eyes, her nose and while she was scrubbing her snout their lips briefly met. She quickly moved the sponge to Fluttershy's other cheek and if the room were not darkened she would seen Fluttershy's blush match her own.
She reached for the round bowl that had the eye wash and said, "Ok I'm going to wash your eyes now. The doctor said this will hurt so I'll be as gentle as I can." She felt around Fluttershy's and when she thought she found her eye she leaned closer to apply the medicine. She stopped when she heard a muffled voice.
"Um," Fluttershy said, "That is my, um mouth."
Once again Pinkie's face flushed crimson and she moved in the proper direction and found Fluttershy's eyes. She gently and slowly poured the medicine and Fluttershy let out a cry of pain and squirmed causing most of the medicine to spill. "It's ok Fluttershy," Pinkie said softly, "I'll be more gentle." She poured the medicine again and Fluttershy let out a soft whimper. Once it was over, Pinkie use the cloth to dry Fluttershy's face and applied the fresh bandages. "Get some sleep," Pinkie said softly, "I'll be here when it's time to wash your eyes again."
"Are you leaving," Fluttershy asked scared.
"No," Pinkie said, "I just wanted to take a little nap, and didn't want to wake you with the alarm."
"Well sleep here," Fluttershy offered surprised at herself for making such a bold offer. 'Silly Fluttershy,' she thought, 'Pinkie is just being nice. She doesn't feel that way about you.'
"Well," Pinkie said, "I suppose since we have to get up at the same time it would make sense." In truth, if the situation were different she would have dived into that bed already. She made her way to the bed and laid down next to Fluttershy making certain to keep the covers seperating the two of them.
Both ponies selpt soundly and when the alarm clock sounded Pinkie groggily hugged Fluttershy and immediately let go when Fluttershy gasped, "Sorry about that Fluttershy. I'll get the medicine ready." She quickly left the room, 'Nice work Pinkie,' she scolded herself, 'You are supposed to be taking care of her not taking advantage of her.' She got the medicine ready and returned back to the room.
The medicine application went much smoother and quickly this time, and Fluttershy only felt as though the medicine was just too warm. Once she was cleaned up again her stomach began to growl. She blushed, "Sorry. I guess I'm a little hungry."
"Okey dokey," Pinkie said happily, "I'll fix us up some grub!"
"Thank you Pinkie," Fluttershy said softly, "I mean it, and I forgive you. It was an accident, and I'm glad that you're taking care of me."
Pinkie felt much better knowing for certain that Fluttershy was not angry with her. She opened the door and closed it behind her. She stopped to think about what to make for dinner, and slowly opened the door again when she heard Fluttershy talking to herself.
"Nice going Fluttershy," she said sofly but with annoyance, "Pinkie is right here, and still you can't say it. Four simple words, 'I love you Pinkie,' it's not that hard, is it?"
Pinkie was stunned when she heard those words, 'she loves me, too,' she thought. Pinkie wanted to run in there and tell Fluttershy that she loved her too, but was stopped by Fluttershy's next words.
Fluttershy laughed softly, "Who am I kidding? Pinkie isn't like that, and even if she was she wouldn't settle for a nopony like me." She sniffed a little and continued her personal attack. "She should have an adventerous pony. Somepony that can keep up with her and not drag her down. No, I'll never tell her how I feel. She'll think I'm weird, but I'll just tell her to keep it a secret. She won't tell a secret. Not Pinkie Pie, but I really do love her." She was about to continue, but a small knock on the door stopped her short.
Pinkie walked in tears in her eyes, and planned to tell Fluttershy that she would love to be with her. Instead, she said, "You know what, I forgot to ask what you wanted to eat."
"Oh anything you want is fine," Fluttershy said softly.
"Okey dokey," Pinkie said and left the room to the kitchen. 'She loves me,' she thought, her heart swelling in her chest. She wanted desperately to tell her, but for some reason she couldn't say the words. There was too much fear, but Pinkie was content that one day soon she will be able to confess to Fluttershy, and they could be together.
Dinner was simple. A daisy sandwich and some tea, but it would sustain the timid pegasus. Pinkie helped her eat and a few times their lips met again, and both want to kiss each other but never did.
The final washing of the night was a simple chore, and Fluttershy was able to sleep the rest of the morning. Pinkie told her that she would return that afternoon to remove the bandages and then take her to lunch to celebrate.
Once Pinkie left Fluttershy's cottage she ran as fast as she could to Rainbow Dash's house. When she arrived she screamed, "Rainbow wake up!"
Rainbow flew down immediately worried that something was wrong with Fluttershy, "What is it? Is Fluttershy ok?"
"Oh she's fine," Pinkie said.
"Pinkie," Rainbow groaned, "I was trying to get some sleep. What do you want?"
"Well," Pinkie said, "Remember when you told me to tell Fluttershy how I felt?"
"You did," Rainbow said with a smile.
"No," Pinkie said, "but I overheard her talking to herself and I found out that she likes me too!" She was blushing and had a large smile on her face.
"Really," Rainbow asked, "Well if you both like each other then what's stopping you two from being together? I mean sure I have to give you the 'if you hurt my oldest friend I'll make sure they never find your body' speech, but that's really just a formality. I know you'll be good to her, and the rest of the girls will just be glad that Fluttershy will have somepony that makes her smile. In case you haven't noticed everything just seems right with the world when Fluttershy is happy." She looked at Pinkie and said, "Try to keep her that way."
"I want to Rainbow," Pinkie said, "I really do, but I can't say the words. I just can't."
"Hm," Rainbow mused, "There are other ways to say it."
That gave Pinkie and idea. A few hours later Rainbow and Pinkie were at Fluttershy's cottage, and Rainbow began to slowly remove the bandages. "Wow Pinkie you did some really good work taking care of Fluttershy."
"She really did," Fluttershy said blushing.
"Ok just need to take the pads off of your eyes and I want you to open them slowly," Rainbow said.
Fluttershy did as she was told and opened her eyes slowly and adjusted to the light. Once her vision cleared she gasped, her eyes were twinkling, and a huge smile appeared on her face. The cause, was Pinkie sitting at the end of the bed with a bouquet of roses on the bed and a note in her mouth. She was blushing and the note contained four simple words. Four words that Pinkie could not say, but wrote down easily, 'I love you, too.'