Fluttershy stepped into the small tub, feeling the water wash over her entire body. Then, without taking a breath, she lowered herself to be completely submerged into the water. She curled up into a small ball at the bottom of the tub as the last of her air escaped from her lungs.
An image of her father appeared before her, as she smiled. No matter how much her body or mind screamed, she wouldn't give it the air it needed.
Fluttershy slowly slipped away, disappearing into a quiet, dark, watery world.
After Angel could no longer hear Fluttershy, he knew he had to act quickly. Unfortunately, he knew there was no way for him to get past the locked door, into the bathroom, and even if he could, he had no way of lifting Fluttershy out of the tub. Not knowing what else he could do, he dashed outside, Fluttershy's suicide note in his paw, looking for somepony, anypony, to help him.
Rainbow Dash had had a rather unsettling day thus far. She knew Fluttershy had been having some unusually bad nightmares the past couple of weeks, and so this morning they visited Twilight, Pinkie tagging along with them after she heard about Fluttershy's nightmares. Twilight used some crazy spell that let them do a "mind delve" (or whatever it was) into Fluttershy, and that was supposed to get rid of Fluttershy's nightmares. However, after Twilight cast the spell, the three of them found themselves in some bizzaro nightmare version of Ponyville.
All Rainbow Dash could really remember about that experience was escorting Fluttershy to her cottage in the foggy nightmare world only for Fluttershy to be separated from herself and Pinkie Pie. After that everything was just a blur until all of the sudden she was back in Twilight's library with Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy. The three of them looked no worse for wear, but Fluttershy seemed... different, as if she had resigned herself to some fate unknown to Rainbow Dash. Then afterwards, Fluttershy wanted to talk to her in private, where Fluttershy told her that she thought they should stop seeing each other as marefriends, and that she needed some time to think on what she saw in that otherworld. After that, Rainbow Dash flew off, having nothing she felt she could say to help her friend, other than a simple, "Feel better, alright?"
As Rainbow Dash was flying back home, and away from Fluttershy's cottage, she felt a deep sense of unease in the pit of her stomach. She was quite taken aback that Fluttershy wanted to stop dating her, after all, Fluttershy was the one who held romantic feelings towards her, not the other way around. Rainbow Dash had never felt romantic feelings toward anypony, mare or stallion, but she didn't want to hurt Fluttershy when Fluttershy made how she felt about her known, and Rainbow Dash honestly really did love Fluttershy in her own way. She just wondered if she just wasn't a pony that could really feel romantically towards another pony.
However, as Rainbow Dash reflected on the month she and Fluttershy had spent together as marefriends, she realized that during that time she felt happier and more complete than she had ever felt before in her life. Rainbow Dash needed her, and needed to know that Fluttershy really was okay. She also wanted to do something she had failed to do just minutes before: tell Fluttershy how she really felt. So, she made a decision, and flew back to Fluttershy's cottage as fast as she could in her tired state.
After five minutes of flying Rainbow Dash arrived back at the cottage's front door just in time to see a panicked rabbit holding a piece of paper racing across the bridge just outside of Fluttershy's home. Rainbow Dash shouted out to him, "Hey, what's the matter little guy?"
Angel Bunny rushed back to Rainbow Dash at a speed that even impressed her, leading her to wonder what the little bunny could be so worked up about. That question was quickly answered as the bunny handed over the note in his paws. "Please forgive me my friends," the note began, and it was all Rainbow Dash needed to see. She tucked the note under her wing as she began to panic.
"Where is she? Where's Fluttershy?" Rainbow Dash made no effort to hide the distress in her voice. Angel Bunny wasted no time and ran straight to the locked bathroom door, Rainbow Dash right on his tail.
Little paws again began to furiously pound on the locked bathroom door, as if to say, "We need to get this door open right now!" Adrenaline began to surge through Rainbow Dash as she prepared to bash herself against the door. Fortunately, the bathroom in Fluttershy's cottage was connected directly to the main room, giving Rainbow Dash plenty of space to gain the momentum she needed to break down the door.
"Here goes everything!"Rainbow Dash flew headlong at the door. A loud crash reverberated through the cottage as the hinges to the bathroom door instantly broke away from the monumental impact generated by the desperate pegasus, leaving the door to slam down onto the wooden floor. Ignoring the pain from the crash, Rainbow Dash picked herself up and ran over to the tub, where she found Fluttershy laying almost peacefully at the bottom, but yet fully submerged underwater.
"No no no no NO!" came the anguished cry that resulted from the sight of seeing a dear friend lay unmoving under the water's surface. Rainbow Dash quickly searched around the room desperately for anything that could give her leverage she needed to help lift Fluttershy from the tub, but the search proved fruitless.
"Oh, what do I do? I can't just lift her out of the water! I don't know if I have the strength."Rainbow Dash began to weep, for she feared there was nothing she could do for Fluttershy in her exhausted state. Angel Bunny wasn't having any of that. He jumped up onto Rainbow Dash's head and gave it a good stomp before jumping into the tub himself, swimming down to try and lift Fluttershy up, despite the futility of the gesture.
That gesture did, however, get through to Rainbow Dash, who put aside her fears and summoned strength from deep within. She hovered over the tub and gently let herself down so she could lock her legs around Fluttershy's. With a mighty pull, the exhausted pegasus lifted Fluttershy out of the water, with Angel holding onto her leg. Rainbow Dash managed to gently lay them down on the floor, and began to check the now unconscious Fluttershy's vital signs.
With no small amount of anguish, Rainbow Dash saw that Fluttershy was no longer breathing, but she experienced a glimmer of hope as Fluttershy's heart was still beating, however faintly. "Angel, go get somepony to help take Fluttershy to the hospital and I'll stay behind to do what I can for her. Hurry, now!" The sound of paws scraping the ground began to fade as Angel dashed off.
Rainbow Dash's lips met Fluttershy's as she began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, with some CPR thrown in for good measure. Rainbow Dash was trained in CPR during summer flight camp as a required precaution for all members of the camp, and Rainbow Dash thanked her lucky stars that she paid close attention that day, as that skill may very well be what she needed to save Fluttershy's life. Rainbow Dash kept at it, until her body finally began to succumb to its need for rest. Just before she passed out, she whispered in Fluttershy's ear, "Fluttershy, don't leave me. I love you." A tear formed in Rainbow's eye as with her last bit of energy, she gently kissed Fluttershy on the lips. She heard the sound of hooves clopping against the floor, but she was too tired to get a look at who was there.
"Help... Fluttershy..." she managed to groan, just before finally slumping over, asleep.
Rainbow Dash awoke to find herself in bed at Ponyville Health Clinic, and instantly sat up so she could look around for Fluttershy. "Fluttershy? Fluttershy, are you in here? Please, answer me!" she yelled.
"Ah, you're awake." Nurse Red Heart stepped into view. "We found you unconscious next to your friend, and we brought you here with her. Thank goodness that bunny came straight to the clinic, your friend was in dire condition when we reached you two, and if it wasn't for your help, she probably would have already died before we were able to get there. Feel free to get up, there's nothing wrong with you, you were just passed out from exhaustion, but that's no reason to keep you from seeing your friend. Let me take you to her."
The nurse led Rainbow Dash into another room, where Fluttershy lay wearing an oxygen mask, still unconscious. Nurse Red Heart spoke up again, "Feel free to wait in here for your friend to come to. And is there anypony you would like us to notify for you?"
Rainbow Dash thought it over, but then responded, "No, I want to be the only one here when she wakes up. Maybe later, though."
"Oh, and one more thing. After she wakes up, would you like a counselor to come visit her? We, ahh... found this note, and saw the last few words were a good-bye." Nurse Red Heart presented a familiar piece of paper to Rainbow Dash.
"No thanks. It would be best if I were the only one she talked to for a while. But could I have that note back? ...I never had a chance to read it."
"Of course." The nurse set the note down on a nearby table. "I'll leave you two alone."
With nothing else to do, Rainbow Dash took the note off the table and took a nearby seat. Rainbow Dash slowly unfolded the note, as if she was unsure she really wanted to know its contents, but she knew that if she wanted to help Fluttershy, she needed to know what was hurting her, and this note was the all she had to work with at the moment. Rainbow Dash was devastated that such a note, a suicide note, even existed, however. She thought aloud, "Oh Fluttershy, what could make you do such a thing? Everypony loves you." With a sigh, Rainbow Dash finally bean to read the note.
Please forgive me my friends, but this is all I can do to make amends for what I've done. I have blood on my hooves that I can never be forgiven for. I loved all of you, you were the closest ponies to ever be in my life, and while I'm sad to be leaving you I can do nothing else. This is my only option left now.
Dash, I'm sorry I lied to you. I won't be coming back, but know that I did love you. You allowed me to live this long with the pain that filled me. Please be happy knowing that the pain is gone now. You meant so much to me.
And please take care of the animals for me while I'm away. Mr. Mouse will need his cast changed on Thursday, he should be able to have it off by the end of next month if he's stayed off of it. Margret's wing should be healed by Wednesday, she can be flying at full strength before she knows it. Daisy will need her medicine, she has a terrible cold and I've left the medicine on the cabinet. And finally Catalina should have a full bill of health by the time you find this, so you can send her on her way.
Goodbye my friends. Thank you
As Rainbow Dash finished reading, the tears were flowing like rivers down her cheeks. Tears shed because Fluttershy made an attempt on her own life, tears shed because Fluttershy had locked her out and not let her help, tears shed at seeing Fluttershy express her love for what Fluttershy thought was going to be the final time, but most of all, tears shed at seeing Fluttershy hurting so much. In a fit of anger and sadness, Rainbow Dash tore the note to shreds.
Rainbow Dash remembered Fluttershy saying that what she saw in that otherworld was meant to punish her for something that happened in her past, and her suicide note said she had blood on her hooves, but Rainbow Dash refused to believe that the sweetest, kindest pony she had ever known could have ever done anything so wrong. Whatever was causing Fluttershy such distress, Rainbow Dash was going to get to the bottom of it. For now, however, she could only wait and hope Fluttershy would be okay. And while she waited and hoped, she only wished to cry for her friend.
The sound of tumblers turning rang out through the outside hallway, the door locking so Rainbow Dash could express her grief in peace.
Fluttershy saw that she was enveloped in what seemed to be a brilliant white light, and there was also a whisper quite noise, as if it was coming from miles away. Her mind slowly began to reach a state of consciousness, and she was able to start thinking about her situation.
"Where am I? Am I dead? I'm supposed to be dead... Oh, I hope all of my animal friends will be okay. But I'm sure my friends will take good care of them. ...My friends... I just did a terrible thing to my friends, didn't I?" Fluttershy thought she heard herself start to cry. "But this is what I deserve... How could I be forgiven for what I did?"
As Fluttershy's senses slowly came into focus, she noticed she was lying down. She still heard crying, but she found it wasn't her tears, as she felt tired and unable to cry or do much of anything else.
However, she was able to croak out a feeble, "Hello?" The crying stopped. "Where am I?"
Fluttershy's vision was the last of her senses to return to her in full focus. She could see past the glare now, and she noticed she was wearing an oxygen mask, but before she could put the pieces together in her head, she heard a familiar voice.
"Fluttershy! You're awake!"
Suddenly, a blue head topped with a rainbow mane popped into view directly above her face. "Rainbow Dash... what are you doing here? Wait... what am I doing here?"
"Well, me and Angel kinda saved your life. I broke into your bathroom to get you out of your tub, and then I had Angel go get the ponies from Ponyville Health Clinic to bring you here, the clinic, if you're still wondering, while I stayed behind to keep you alive. I'm glad you're okay, Fluttershy."
Fluttershy could only whimper in response, "But... but... I deserve to die, Dash. You weren't supposed to come back."
"No, Fluttershy, you don't deserve to die, and I don't ever want to hear you say that again."
"But... I did a terrible thing..."
"I don't care what you think you did, I won't let you leave me. I came back because I felt I needed to say something, something I failed to say before. I love you Fluttershy. I don't know if I mean that as a marefriend or as a regular friend, it's hard for me to tell with you now. I guess I mean it both ways. I love you and I need you to stay with me, Fluttershy."
Tears of joy streamed down Fluttershy's face after hearing Rainbow Dash bear her soul to her. "I love you too, Rainbow Dash, and it means the world to me to hear you say that." However, Fluttershy's smile remained sad, and eventually became a frown. "But what I saw in there and what I learned about myself... I just don't think I can forgive myself... I don't think I deserve forgiveness for what I did... I don't deserve your love." Fluttershy's tears were now of sadness and defeat.
"Fluttershy... I can't bear to see you like this. I know you couldn't have done anything so terrible, you couldn't hurt a fly. So tell me, what did you see in there? I need to know what's hurting you so I can help make it better."
"But I'm afraid if I tell you, you'll hate me. How could you not hate me? I've already tried to leave you... Oh, he was right. I really am a monster. I don't even know why you would want me as a friend anymore..."The sound of sobbing filled the room as Fluttershy could no longer keep her pain under the surface, her guilt for her past compounded by a new guilt, guilt for what she had almost done to her friends. She buried her head in her hooves and just wished for the pain to go away.
"Fluttershy! Stop it, now!" The room became quiet for a moment, and the emotionally tattered Fluttershy looked up to see Rainbow Dash's eyes were filled to the brim with tears. "I'll never hate you, no matter what. I forgive you for what you tried to do tonight. I'm just happy I was able to save you. And Fluttershy, I could never lose you as a friend." At that point, Rainbow Dash leaned down over her friend, and lifted the oxygen mask still covering Fluttershy's face off for a moment to give Fluttershy a loving kiss. "I need you to be strong right now, alright?" came the caring whisper into Fluttershy's ear.
"A-... Alright. Thank you Rainbow Dash. If you promise you won't hate me... I guess I can tell you what I saw, what that place made me remember about myself.
"Back to when I was just a little filly, my mother was very sick, and even though my father was a doctor, he couldn't cure her. For a long time, my mother stayed at the hospital in Cloudsdale, but eventually they let her come home so my father and I could could take care of her. However, my mother was always in terrible pain from her condition."
Fluttershy's eyes began to water like a faucet at what she knew came next. "Then, one day when I went to check on my mother and to see if she wanted anything to eat, she said she knew how to cure herself, and that I needed to help her do it for it to work."
Fluttershy began to sob uncontrollably, and she could only tell what happened next in small gasps. "Then... she got out a knife... and said that I needed... to strike her with it... to cure her."
Rainbow Dash's face was covered with a look of sheer horror and sorrow for her friend.
Fluttershy continued, 'She yelled at me.. and said that... if I loved her... I would do it. I was confused... I loved her but... doing that... didn't seem right. Still, I decided to... believe her... it was the only thing... I could do... and I did it. Rainbow Dash... I killed my own mother..." A wail sounded throughout the room as the pain of the memory stung Fluttershy to her core.
But then, Fluttershy felt a comforting caress on her cheek, and looked up to see two magenta eyes filled not with disgust as she expected, but love.
"Shh... Fluttershy, it's okay, I'm here for you."
"But Rainbow Dash, I-"
Rainbow Dash gently put a hoof to Fluttershy's mouth to silence her. "You don't have to say another word. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. Your mother did a terrible thing to you, and you have to realize that her blood is on her own hooves, not yours Fluttershy. Please, forgive yourself, because nopony with any heart at all could hold that against you".
Fluttershy pushed Rainbow Dash's hoof away from her mouth, and with sadness in her heart, quietly whispered, "My father did..."
Before Rainbow Dash could respond, Fluttershy began to explain, "That was what else I saw... After I... After my mother was dead, my father came in wondering why I hadn't come back down yet to tell him what my mother wanted to eat. He saw me holding the knife, covered in my mother's blood, and he struck me. After he was finished crying over my mother's dead body, he took me into the bathroom, to clean me off... and while we were in there, he called me a monster. He... he almost drowned me in the bathtub right there. I guess that's why I thought it would be a fitting way for me to end it all...
"But my father said that would be to easy. He said that I needed to feel the misery I caused, so he abused me throughout my foalhood as a punishment, and it was a punishment I must've deserved..."
Rainbow Dash stood motionless at the side of Fluttershy's bed, shocked at the depravity of Fluttershy's mother and the cruelty of her father. Rainbow Dash turned her head away from Fluttershy for a moment to hide the pain etched into her face, and to hide the tears raining from her eyes. "No Fluttershy, you didn't deserve that. You are the sweetest, kindest pony in Equestria, and you never deserved any of what your parents brought on you. It was your parents who didn't deserve to have your sweet spirit in their lives. I'm so sorry you had to go through that."
A deep sigh escaped Rainbow Dash's lips, and Fluttershy took the opportunity to sit up and put a hoof on her friend's shoulder. "It's okay. If I hadn't gone through that, I may not have been such a weak flier." Fluttershy let out a small chuckle. "And then I wouldn't have met you. Even if you can't forgive my parents, I thank them for what they did. Without them, I wouldn't have met you or any of our other friends, and I love you all so dearly. You made my life worth living."
Rainbow Dash turned around, showing the tears in her eyes. She begged, "Then stay with us. Stay with me. Just because you learned an awful truth about your life doesn't mean it's not worth living anymore! You deserve to live, and be happy. Please, Fluttershy, promise me put your past behind you where it belongs and promise me you won't let yourself hurt any more. Promise me you won't scare me like that ever again. Promise me you'll stay with me." Rainbow Dash grabbed Fluttershy and squeezed her close.
Fluttershy sighed, and looked back at what she had learned in that otherworld, but she looked on it with a new light. She had friends that loved her and cared for her, and she had had the best marefriend in the world. She returned Rainbow Dash's embrace and said, "I promise, Rainbow Dash. I'm sorry I put you through so much...
"Rainbow Dash... will you take me back? What I said before... I really do want to be with you Dash."
"Of course I will, Fluttershy. Nopony else is as important to me as you are." A grin overtook Rainbow Dash's face as she removed Fluttershy's oxygen mask all the way, and took her in a deep, passionate kiss, leaving them both breathless. For a time afterwards, they did nothing more but enjoy quietly looking into one another's loving eyes.
"Oh Rainbow Dash, you're the best marefriend a pony could ever have."
That night, the night they spent together at the hospital, was a secret between the two mares. Fluttershy had made Rainbow Dash agree not to let their friends know about her hasty attempt at suicide, and they both agreed it was best they never were to discuss Fluttershy's painful past with anypony. However, that night would forever be a special night for the both of them, for it was the night they truly realized the extent of their love for one another.
After that fateful day, the two marefriends officially moved in together. Pinkie Pie even threw them a big party to celebrate, making up for the one she had missed to on the day the three mares visited Silent Ponyville, as they had decided to call it. Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash formed a loving couple, supportive of one another and both happier than they had ever been before in their lives.
When the time came around for Rainbow Dash to decide whether or not she was to leave Ponyville and tryout for the Wonderbolts, she decided Fluttershy needed her, despite Fluttershy's protests that Rainbow Dash should follow her dreams. However, Rainbow Dash felt it was more important to stay with Fluttershy to keep her happy, and to be Fluttershy's emotional anchor. As much as Fluttershy hated to admit it, she still needed Rainbow Dash's support, and so Rainbow Dash put off her dream of joining the Wonderbolts indefinitely.
Still, life went on, and all was well with Ponyville once more.