“Come on, little ones,” Fluttershy said. The ducklings paced forward hesitantly, looking around at the unfamiliar landscape. Fluttershy and the ducklings were in the town square of Ponyville, right outside Sugarcube Corner. When Fluttershy looked and saw the confectionery, she gasped, realizing what was to come.
“Oh, hi Fluttershy!” Pinkie Pie shouted. Shocked, the ducks huddled together behind the Fluttershy’s leg, putting their wings over their heads. “Oh, are those baby ducks? They’re so cute!”
“Um, they’re very shy,” the Pegasus said, but Pinkie Pie wasn’t paying attention.
“Come out, little guys!” the Earth pony said in a shrieking voice. The ducks started running about, and Pinkie Pie, of course, gave chase.
“No, Pinkie,” Fluttershy started. “Little duckies, it’s okay…”
Pinkie Pie kept chasing them all over the area, dying to pet them. “Come here, little guys!” she shouted. Fluttershy’s timid pleas went unheard.
“Pinkie!” the strong voice of Twilight Sparkle called. Pinkie Pie stopped, and the ducks hastily ran back to Fluttershy. Twilight Sparkle stepped to the two, using her horn to magically restrain the Earth pony from the ducklings.
“Oh, thank you,” Fluttershy said, nuzzling the baby ducks.
“No problem. So, what little animal are you helping today?” the Unicorn asked.
“They’re baby ducks. I found them sick outside the Everfree Forest. I got them back to health, but they wouldn’t go back to the forest.”
Still holding back a struggling Pinkie Pie, Twilight Sparkle asked, “Where are you taking them now?”
“Lake Celestia. It’s the safest place I could think of for these little duckies,” the Pegasus said, looking lovingly at the birds.
“Wow, that’s all the way on the other side of Ponyville,” Pinkie Pie said.
“I know, but I couldn’t leave them!” Fluttershy said. “Now, I really must be going. I’m so sorry to have to leave.”
Fluttershy lead the ducks a small distance farther. She passed Carousel Boutique, and waved to her friend Rarity, and then passed Froggy Bottom Bog. However, right in the middle of the path to Lake Celestia, was a red Earth stallion, asleep in the middle of the walkway.
“Oh, no. I’d hate to wake him up,” Fluttershy said to herself. But, seeing the sad ducklings, she lightly nudged his side and, almost inaudibly, said, “Excuse me, can you please move a little bit?”
The stallion stirred and looked at Fluttershy. Mumbling to himself, he flipped himself over to allow them to pass.
“Thank you,” the Pegasus said.
“No problem, friend,” the stallion said.
After reaching the lake, Fluttershy spent a great deal of time coaxing the ducklings into going into the water. By the time the ducks had reluctantly went in, it was very late. On her way back, Fluttershy again saw the Earth stallion sleeping in the walkway. It made her sad to see someone having to sleep on the road.
“Um, excuse me?” she said quietly. The stallion looked up, and smiled.
“Hey, it’s you.”
“Do you live out here, all alone?” Fluttershy asked.
“Well don’t say it like that!” the stallion said. “Say it like, ‘Wow, do you get to live out here, next to the beautiful Lake Celestia, away from the noise of Ponyville?’’ Then, he added, “And yes, I do.”
“You poor thing! Would you like to stay at my cottage? It’s all the way on the other side of Ponyville, but-”
“Well sure!” the Earth pony said. “I haven’t had a hot meal since Nightmare Moon’s time, you know.”
Fluttershy wasn’t planning on cooking anything that night. “Oh, well I suppose I could make you something.”
“Well thanks! Let’s get going to that cottage of yours now, why don’t we?”
After leaving the stallion at her cottage, Fluttershy ran out to the market to buy some ingredients. She spent a few hours making a plate of soup for the stranger, which he gladly slurped up.
“Thanks for that. I’m Redsoil, by the way,” he said.
“I’m Fluttershy,” the Pegasus replied.
By now, it was midnight. Redsoil slumped to bed in one of Fluttershy’s chairs; however, the Pegasus still had a lot of chores to do. After she fed all the animals, cleaned their habitats, recorded their numbers and actions in her journal, and raked the leaves from her yard, the sun was almost coming up. She fell asleep on the floor in front of her house when it was all done.
She woke up the next morning, and went to her door. However, she found it wouldn’t open. She knocked, and heard Redsoil get up and walk to the door.
“Who is it?” he said in a sing-song voice.
“It’s Fluttershy,” she said quietly. “I fell asleep finishing my chores last night.”
“Hmm, a likely story,” Redsoil replied in a joking voice. “What’s the secret password?”
Fluttershy gulped. “I don’t know,” she said quietly.
“Well, I guess I’ll let you in this once without it.” With that, Redsoil unlocked her door and let her in. When she got it, though, what she saw had happened to her house shocked her. All of her furniture had been moved around to a bed with a sheet over it. Her flowerpot was shattered on the ground, but the water had already dried and the flower died.
“No, no!” Fluttershy said. She frantically tried to push her chairs the way they were before.
“I thought it’d be more comfortable. Sorry Fluttershy,” Redsoil said, trying to pick up the broken pot.
“No, it’s fine,” the Pegasus said. “You just stay making yourself at home.”
“Um, are you crying?” the Earth pony asked, seeing her eyes water. When Fluttershy didn’t answer, he said, “I might as well call you Fluttercry now, huh?” Still, Fluttershy pretended not to hear him.
Fluttershy didn’t plan on making any fancy meals the next day, either, but Redsoil said the soup she made was so good that he couldn’t wait to have it again. Fluttershy relented and went out to the market, and stopped by Sweet Apple Acres to buy some apples for it.
“Hmm, them’s a lot of apples. What you need them for? You feeding some big critter?” Applejack asked when Fluttershy was ready to check out.
“Um, yes,” Fluttershy said. “I’m having a houseguest who really likes my soup. I think he’ll be staying for awhile.”
“Heh, sounds like you got a Redsoil on your hands there!” Applejack said.
“What did you say?” Fluttershy gasped at hearing Redsoil’s name.
Applejack laughed. “Oh, that’s some farm jargon on these parts. See, Big McIntosh once caught a varmint pony trying to steal some of our apples. Fellow’s name was Redsoil. He ran off, and we haven’t seen him since.”
“Oh, my,” Fluttershy said. “What a coincidence. My guest is named Redsoil. But he’s different. He nice. He’s also big and red, like Big McIntosh!”
Applejack thought for a moment, remembering what her Redsoil looked like. “Sweet Celestia, that’s him! Fluttershy, you best get that freeloader out of your house while you still got a house to get him out of.”
“Um, okay,” Fluttershy said. “Oh, add two more apples to my order! He’ll probably appreciate a farewell cake.”
When Fluttershy got home, however, she had found her house in even more disorder. Redsoil had moved her entire living room around, including the chairs, and also moved the birdcages and carpet outside.
“Hey, Fluttercry. You’re back,” he said.
“That’s not my name.” she said quietly. “I have to talk to you about something.”
“Me, too. The chair sleeping arrangement isn’t working. You don’t mind going into town for a sofa, do you, Fluttercry?”
“No!” Fluttershy said.
“No? Come on Fluttercry, I thought we were friends.”
Fluttershy sighed. “We are, just, just no!”
“Well we can’t be friends if you say no to me,” Redsoil said.
“Why not?” Fluttershy asked.
Redsoil laughed. “Just because, friends don’t say no to each other!”
“Oh,” Fluttershy replied. “Well, if you say so. I should go get that sofa now.”
“Oh, Fluttershy, I can’t thank you enough for coming on such short notice,” Rarity said, measuring Fluttershy’s foreleg. “I have ten samples to give, and they always buy when I’ve used you as my base. You’re like my good luck charm!”
“Well thank you,” Fluttershy said.
“Oh, if it’s no trouble, can you take Opalescence in for a grooming tomorrow? I know I’m not due until next week, but she’s just been shedding so much.”
Fluttershy froze. She knew she had agreed to help Rainbow Dash bring in the north clouds then, but she couldn’t say no to Rarity. If she did, they couldn’t be friends anymore!
“Rarity,” she said quietly, “I’m sorry, I can’t. I promised Rainbow Dash to help her then, and I…” She could already feel herself tearing up.
“Oh, that’s right. Well, next week will have to do,” Rarity said casually, not noticing the Pegasus’ tears and continuing to take measurements.
“So…” Fluttershy said, “you’re not mad? We can still be friends?”
“What are you talking about Fluttershy? You’re my best friend, and you still are,” Rarity replied, confused. “Why would I be mad?”
“Well,” Fluttershy said, still shaken, “my new friend Redsoil said that you can’t say no to a friend.”
“What? That’s absurd,” Rarity said. “I mean, there is something to be said about loyalty to your friends - I’d ask Rainbow Dash about that - but it’s not your fault you have a prior commitment.”
“Um, are you sure?” Fluttershy asked.
“Of course,” Rarity assured. “Wait, did you say Redsoil?”
“Yes,” Fluttershy said meekly. Rarity dropped the spool she was working with and grinded her teeth.
“Oh, I know that hooligan! He ordered a dress from me, one of the finest I offer, and refused to pay! Enraged, I threw away the dress, but he stole it from the garbage! And, to add insult to injury, he used my beautiful dress as a blanket! On the street!”
“Oh, my,” Fluttershy said. “Maybe Applejack was right about him.”
Redsoil was rearranging the furniture yet again when Fluttershy got back.
“Hey Fluttercry. When should my sofa get delivered?” he asked.
“It’s not,” she said. Then, she added, “And you know Rarity and Applejack, right?”
Redsoil’s casual smile vanished. “You’re not going to believe them over your friend Redsoil, right?”
“No!” Fluttershy said. “You just manipulated my friends, and you’re just trying to manipulate me!”
Redsoil sighed. “I knew having a new pony to walk all over was too good to be true.” The stallion stood up and casually walked out the door, being sure to knock over Fluttershy’s chair as he walked by.
Two days later, far away from Fluttershy’s cottage, Princess Celestia was reading her newest friendship report from one of Twilight Sparkle’s friends in Ponyville.
Dear Princess Celestia,
I learned something very important about friendship. Being a friend doesn’t mean you have to do whatever they say, and that just because someone says they’re your friend doesn’t mean they are. I’m proud of myself for identifying and dealing with this problem on my own.
Celestia smiled and looked out the window overlooking Ponyville. That day, she figured, the sun would burn a little bit hotter on any particular red stallions by Lake Celestia.
Edited by Master Inika, Apr 23 2012 - 04:42 PM.