Fluttermilk

{Alternate Ending 2: Bitter}

As the sun crested the hills beyond the Everfree Forest, and the silhouette of Canterlot glowed golden in the distance, Fluttershy squeezed her eyes shut against the light. The wind caressed her wings and gently flowed through her mane and tail as it whipped behind her like a glorious banner. Smiling happily, she turned her head away from the dawn's glow to open her eyes and see the svelte form of a blue pegasus next to her. Holding her hoof, the rainbow maned mare grinned devilishly back at her as they shared a morning flight.

Always a weak flier, the yellow mare rarely left the ground where her beloved animals lived. But up here, with her oldest friend guiding her, she felt she could glide forever in her lover's gaze. Rainbow Dash would never let her founder, and would forever be there to catch her if she fell. The love she had been harboring all her life had finally blossomed and been reciprocated, and the chromatic mare was now hers forever.

Suddenly, a patch of mid-air turbulence made her miss a beat and she jolted in the downdraft. Losing her hold on her lover's hoof, she began to struggle to stay aloft, and the eventual fear took hold once again. Crying out, she felt her wings cramp up and her stomach lurch as she plummeted to the ground below. Quickly the sky and earth traded places as she spiraled out of control, falling faster toward the hard ground below her. Her heart hammered and she screamed for all she was worth, a sound rarely ever heard by mortal ears as she plummeted to her doom. This time, there would be no butterflies to save her.

Suddenly, there was a massive explosion, as the sky was torn asunder by a kaleidoscope of wild color. A polychromatic blur shot past her, just moments before she felt her fall arrested and strong hooves wrapped around her barrel. Once again, she was safe in the arms of her dearest friend and lover, Rainbow Dash.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" she gasped out as she wept openly into the colorful mane of her friend. "I just don't know what happened. What would I do without you?"

"Aww, take it easy Fluttershy! I would never let anything happen to you." The rough voice of her marefriend soothed her nerves like the softest lullaby, and the lithe, yet powerful arms held her tight as they descended slowly to the ground. "I will never leave you, and I will never let you fall."

A hard blue muzzle found a soft yellow one, and the two lovers kissed passionately as they touched down to earth. "I love you Fluttershy."

"And I have always loved you, Rainbow Dash..." with a sigh, she leaned in and buried herself in her lover's prismatic mane. It smelled like Skittles.

*Thump*

With a start, the yellow mare startled awake. She blinked a few times, but then feeling the comforting bulk in the bed beside her, curled a hoof around her lover and drifted back to sleep.

*Thump*

Jolting awake again, the remnants of her tender dream began to fade as she was forced awake again. This time she lifted her head, dismayed to find that the comforting form she had been cuddling was in fact her spare pillow. A cold chill washed over her as she realised that she was alone in bed, but she quickly noticed a rather impatient tapping at her bedside.

With a smile back on her face, she rolled over in bed to behold not the love of her life, but a very pissed off white rabbit. He made a very emphatic motion towards a large pocket watch he was carrying, pointing out that the morning was rather well under way. His expected morning meal was not ready and he was ready to take his ire out on his caregiver.

"Oh my, Angel Bunny, I am so sorry!" The young mare bolted out of bed, all thought of the previous night and the dream she had been having forgotten, as her natural instincts kicked in and she folded to the whims of the creatures she cared for. Angel knew well how to manipulate her kind nature, and used it to his advantage.

Muttering to herself, Fluttershy rushed to her morning chores, starting breakfast for the many animals in her care. The white rabbit oversaw the operation with a clinical glare as she busied herself caring for her many charges, and making an extra special meal for the bossy bunny himself. "Please forgive me, Angel, I just don't know what came over me, sleeping in like that." Desperately, she begged his indulgence.

Carefully tasting a bite of his meal like a pompous emperor testing his offerings, Angel nodded once in the mare's direction, then made a dismissive motion with his paw, before settling down to eat.

"Oh my, thank you for being so understanding, Angel Bunny. It will never happen again, I promise!" Desperately the pegasus assured her pampered pet, before scurrying off to finish making food for the other animals.

The morning waned and the many duties of an animal caregiver kept her mind occupied and off the subjects she longed to dwell on. The subject of the previous night's activities, and the absence of Rainbow Dash almost slipped her mind, until the last critter was fed, and she had a moment's rest to break her own fast. No sooner has her mind begun to wander to the slippery subject of her friend's behavior, than she was once again interrupted by a knock at her door. Looking nervously over at her rabbit friend, she was met with an incredulous look that seemed to say. 'Bitch, I'm eating. You answer your own door!'

With a weary sigh, she made her way to the door, and meekly nudged the portal open. She gasped in joy as she beheld the literal mare of her dreams, standing on her porch. "Rainbow Dash, I was so worried. I woke up and you were gone, and I didn't know what had happened, and..." her voice trailed off as she noticed her friend wasn't looking her in the eye, and seemed to be shifting nervously on her hooves. "What's wrong Dashie?"

Flinching at the pet name, the blue mare sighed and finally looked her shy friend in the eye. "I'm sorry."

"Wha-what do you mean? You have nothing to be sorry for!" The cold chill from the morning returned as she realized something was not right with the situation.

"I'm sorry Fluttershy. Things got weird." Sighing, the rainbow mare looked away and seemed to be unable to meet the worried gaze of her closest friend. "I just... I can't do this. You are my best friend, and I just don't want to lose you like this, but I can't do this. It just can't happen, it's too risky."

"B-but. Why? Am I, did I..."

"It's not you, it's me." Groaning at the old cliche, Dashed lowered her head and sighed in defeat. "I'm sorry Fluttershy, but I just can't be what you want. I just can't. We are friends. We will always be friends. Nothing more."

As her soul began to collapse in on itself, tears began to stream down the face of the yellow pegasus. Her knees buckled, and she sat heavily on the doorstep of her cottage. "Why?"

Ignoring the question, Rainbow Dash reached into her saddlebag, pulling out an apparatus of tubes and nozzles. She hoofed it over to the distraught mare and sighed again. "I got you this. I cashed in some promises and made Applejack swear to not ask questions. She probably thinks it's for one of your animals, but even if she knows, she will never tell. It should help keep your secret safe."

Looking down, Fluttershy numbly recognized a small portable milk pump, the kind usually used for goats and smaller herd mammals. It would be just the right size for a mare like her, and she wouldn't need to wait for the hospital's machine. A small part of her mind made note of this, and filed it away for later retrieval, as her heart sundered and the world collapsed around her.

Starting to reach out for a hug, Dash seemed to think better of it. Wiping away an errant tear from her own eye, she quickly turned away so her friend couldn't see her cry. "See ya around Flutts." And in a blast of air, she rocketed away through the treetops. A second, louder boom could be heard as she blasted off at top speed away from the place of her greatest shame.

In the resulting quiet, all that could be heard was the soft sobbing of a heartbroken mare as the tears pooled on the dry earth at her hooves.

Author's note: Yes, I know. There is a special place in pony hell for authors that make Fluttershy cry. They know me there, it's like family.