Applejack lay awake in bed holding her legs around the shivering pegasus by her side. Though Fluttershy remained asleep the earth pony could feel the discomfort in her lover, as if suffering a terrible nightmare. Applejack looked up from the bed to gaze out the window, the outside world was barely visible befitting the early morning before Celestia's sun had fully risen in the sky. The longer she gazed outwards the more her emotions faltered, almost as if feeling pain that wasn't hers. Her thinking cut short before it could elaborate itself as the pony in her hold began to cry.
"It's ok Flutter, Ah'm here." Applejack held her lover closer covering as much of her trembling body in the embrace as possible. "Ah'm here, it's ok." She could feel Fluttershy accepting the embrace, comforting her, but ultimately not being enough to stop her crying. Even for Fluttershy crying to such an extent due to seemingly nothing wasn't normal, especially after discovering love. As Applejack continued to comfort her crying pegasus her mind returned to the window, outside the skies were dull and cold, almost as if crying themselves.
"Rainbow." Fluttershy managed to speak between her tears, refusing to make eye contact with the window her lover brought her gaze back from. Fluttershy leaned into Applejack's hug, drying her still running tears against her orange coat. "Rainbow, needs, she's." After struggling with to many words Fluttershy fell into tears again, unable to speak as her lover slowly stroked her mane.
From the window of Rarity's boutique the curious lavender unicorn stared into the unsettling sky. It was dull, completely grey in the morning of a usually sunny day, the clouds covered the entirety of the skies and the cold soon turned the unicorn away rubbing her ears with her warmer hoof.
"Twilight, dear." Rarity held up a purple scarf awaiting her lovers response, being awarded a pleased smile she levitated over the scarf, gently resting it around Twilight's neck. Rarity was pleased with the match before the cold air forced her to find a spare scarf for herself. She could see from the mirror the gloomy sky which attracted Twilight's attention, it was miserable and she feared it would only bring misery in turn to the ponies beneath it. "I should go check on Fluttershy." Rarity continued as she wore her spare scarf. "Such weather can make her upset."
Twilight turned her inquisitive gaze away from the window to meet her partners concerned face. "She can't really become upset with Applejack though?" Twilight stated, more of a question than a helpful statement, but Rarity appreciated the care behind it smiling in return.
"True, but it is always best to check." Rarity concluded as she kissed her lover on the cheek before making her way downstairs. "I won't be gone long you can stay warm here until I." Rarity smiled again as Twilight repeated her kiss and motioned towards the door. "Come back." She finished realizing happily that Twilight would go with her.
As the two unicorns opened the door a voice came from the distance. "Twilight!" Applejack trotted at a slow but determined pace towards the door. "Rarity." As Applejack came closer it became evident to the unicorns that Fluttershy lay on her back, crying.
"Heavens, is Fluttershy ok?" Rarity exclaimed fearing the worst for her friend.
"She's, not harmed but, we need to talk." The two unicorns moved aside to let Applejack through before closing the door to keep the room warm. The earth pony gently lowered her lover onto the bench by the table, before kneeling down to be by her side. "All of us, it's important."
Rarity quickly made her way over to collect some warmer clothing, stumbling over several display models in the process. "But Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie aren't here." Twilight could feel the worry filling the room but other than the weather had no idea what could be happening, they have had cold weather before and everypony was happy.
Applejack sighed, lightly stroking Fluttershy as she cried. "Ah know, but it's important. It's about them." Applejack accepted the warm clothing Rarity brought over, placing a blanket over her quivering pegasus.
"Th, thank you, but it's not the cold." Fluttershy continued crying lightly, her voice filled with compassion for the act behind the tear filled mask.
Rarity sat down on the floor by the table and Twilight joined her, holding their hooves together to feel more secure. "If it isn't the weather, then what is it? What has happened?" Rarity asked, more concerned than her words let on.
"It's, Rainbow she, she's." Fluttershy tried speaking before Applejack silenced her with a warm kiss.
"Ah'm sorry but let me say it for ya." Applejack continued to hold her lover, knowing talking about it would bring her tears. "It's Rainbow Dash, there's something wrong but ah don't know what." She looked up to her friends noticing their puzzled expressions before expanding. "Flutter said that weather ponies share their feelings with their weather." Applejack noticed Fluttershy crying more, moving in to hug her, hating herself for needing to say words that caused her grief. "It's bad, really bad, the skies are sufferin'."
"But the weather pony is Rainb" Twilight paused before finishing noticing Fluttershy becoming worse to her words. Applejack merely nodded in return. "We haven't seen her or Pinkie since yesterday." A deafly silence soon filled the room, blanketed by the pegasus' soft crying.
"We need to find her." Applejack finally broke the short but painful silence. "She's probably at home, ah hope so anyway." The other ponies nodded in agreement.
"What about Pinkie?" Twilight asked, receiving a short pause in response.
"It might sound bad, but we know Rainbow needs help, let's just hope that Pinkie is there to." Applejack didn't make eye contact as she spoke, hating her suggestion of ignoring her friends potential pain, even if only temporarily. She managed to rise her head to notice her friends nodding in agreement again, but this time more hesitantly. Applejack hugged Fluttershy a final time kissing her before rising to her hooves. "We'll be back with Rainbow."
Applejack felt her lover's hoof reach out to grab her before she could step away. "I want to help. Please" Fluttershy's determination shone through her tears. She felt relieved as a white aura surrounded her, lowering her gently onto Applejack's back. "Thank you." She gave a soft smile to Rarity before lowering her face into her lover's mane.
"Ok, let's go help Rainbow Dash." Applejack stated happily, noticing Fluttershy's tears starting to lessen as the four of them made their way outside, into the gloomy weather portraying their friends pain, they were determined to help.
Twilight and Rarity lead the way through Ponyville's abandoned streets, for a usually busy morning the town was silent to the cold. The soft smell of fires leaked through the doors they passed, comforting them slightly to know everypony seemed to be ok. 'Everypony besides Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie', the thought of their journey returned unnerving the inexperienced unicorn. "It shouldn't be this cold." Twilight tried rearranging her scarf to no avail, as if the weather just cut right through the fabric. "Hearth's Warming was colder than this. Why does it feel so cold."
"There's nothing to warm it." Fluttershy responded, still resting on her partner's back as they followed closely behind the unicorns. "If there's nothing, is she, is she."
"She's fine." Applejack interrupted quickly before allowing Fluttershy to finish what none of them wanted to hear. "She just needs help, and we're gonna give it." The pegasus remained quiet but Applejack could see the eyes pondering what she was told.
"We are here." Rarity stated with a slight joy. Rainbow Dash's cloud mansion lay in the skies over the next small hill, the journey never took very long, but for the first time felt too long. "We shall go ahead." She replied looking back at the earth pony still harbouring their upset friend.
As the two unicorns galloped over the hill, Applejack sighed lightly continuing her slow pace. "I'm sorry for being a burden." She could hear Fluttershy speak softly into her ear, her breath blowing against her mane.
"Ah'm letting ya do whatever ya want."
"And ask whatever I want." Fluttershy interrupted smiling, as she recalled her lover's promise on their first day. "Thank you."
Applejack felt warmth break the cold atmosphere as Fluttershy rested on her mane, for the first time since she awoke, her tears seemed to dry. But it wasn't long before they were ready to return as they heard Rarity's shocking scream from over the hill. "Sorry ah need to be fast." Applejack stated galloping quickly over the hill, hoping she didn't hurt Fluttershy in the process.
"This is, it's" Rarity held her hoof against her mouth as she backed slowly away from the scene. She turned to Applejack noticing her approaching quickly with Fluttershy gripping firmly to her chest. "Don't let Fluttershy see!" She yelled to shocked to notice the volume of her voice.
Before Applejack could stop her she felt Fluttershy leap into the air and land softly on the grassy floor. "Rainbow?" She called out in her usual quiet voice, as Fluttershy passed Rarity she could see the regret in her eyes for alerting her to the scene. "I, I have to help her." She turned away from the lightly crying unicorn, moving slowly and cautiously towards Twilight Sparkle who was sat down before her. "Rainbow?"
Twilight raised her head from her examining to look the determined pegasus in the eyes. Without a word she sighed sadly, moving aside for the pegasus to see. Fluttershy was speechless staring down at the beaten floor, the ground was cracked as if a large force had landed against it. The grass was flattened and torn, and the blades of grass before her were caked red, surrounding a dried puddle of blood. "Flutter." Applejack called out concerned as she placed her leg around the frozen pegasus. "We don't know anythin' yet, don't think to much about it."
Fluttershy suddenly turned and collapsed in tears over her lovers body. "She can't be dead! Rainbow doesn't die!" Applejack fought back her own tears as well as she could, refusing to take the comfort away from the crying mare. "She can't."
Twilight returned her attention to the dried blood, she hadn't felt such painful thoughts since the events with disharmony, the loss of her friends. The loss of Rainbow Dash. The lavender mare began to shut out her friends crying as she felt her mind loose itself in the blood. 'That's not enough.' Her mind suddenly stated waking her fully conscious again. "Not enough?" She asked herself quietly staring down at the dried pool, she scraped her hoof across it gently scraping the shallow surface. "It's not enough!" She yelled happily before growing her awkward smile realizing she did so, looking at her friends who stared back. "I mean there's not enough blood here, there would be a lot more if something really bad happened."
Applejack looked down at the state of the floor, among all the blinding fears she noticed it really wasn't much worse than the last time she broke her leg trying to help Big Macintosh rebuild the barn. The work pony managed a small smile while hugging Fluttershy closer. "For once ah'm glad for ya books Twilight." She lifted Fluttershy's head to face her. "See, Rainbow's ok." Fluttershy lowered herself to the floor, looking back cautiously at the scene. "Somewhere."
The four ponies looked around trying to spy any trace of Rainbow Dash, or anypony for that matter. There was a faint trail of blood leading across the grass from the impact area, but after a few meters it seemed to spray outwards and disappear. "Ah don't get it." Applejack commented as they stood around the ending trail. "It just disappeared."
"Ermm, it spread by flying up." Fluttershy spoke plainly receiving glances from her friends. "I've, seen it before." She stated quickly before lifting off into the sky towards the cloud mansion.
"Ah hope she's ok." Applejack sighed sadly sitting down with her friends as they waited for Fluttershy's search. "Not just Rainbow, an' Pinkie, but Fluttershy as well. She, ah think she's seen somethin' similar before."
Rarity stared upwards at the small yellow pegasus flying around the clouds. "She has, Rainbow Dash isn't the most safety conscious flier. Fluttershy has been to talk to me about it a few times wanting someone to talk to, but she's never been so broken up as she is now." Rarity began smiling thinking of how much she cared. "Fluttershy truly is deserving of being Rainbow's best friend, there's never a moment that goes by when she doesn't care for her. But sometimes, that care can take it's toll on her sensitive heart." She noticed Fluttershy starting to descend and turned her gaze to the listening earth pony. "But now she has you, your love is making her strong, otherwise she may not have been able to come with us today. You mean more to her than even you think you do."
Fluttershy landed beside Applejack exhausted after her search. "I saw Rainbow! I think, I saw her tail in her bedroom, but I couldn't get her attention or open any doors." She felt Applejack place her leg around her, and rested against her strong warming body. "I'm not strong enough to move the clouds she made." She sighed feeling powerless.
Applejack happily noted Rarity's kind words as she comforted the previously scared pegasus in her embrace. "At least she's safe, thanks for makin' sure." Fluttershy became even warmer as Applejack thanked her. 'Ah might not know how much ah mean to ya, but at least ah know how much ya mean to me.'
Twilight was still unnerved, knowing her friend could still need help she had to think of something. "You said in the bedroom?"
Fluttershy nodded "It's that room there." She pointed towards a window near a rainbow pool.
"Ok, I'll go talk to her." Twilight readied herself pointing her horn at the direction Fluttershy marked. She closed her eyes as her lavender aura began surrounding her. Just before she brought her body into a teleport she heard Rarity's voice but failed to catch the wording before being brought inside the cloud mansion, Twilight had not seen the inside of Rainbow Dash's house before and it was incredibly cold, suffering the full brunt of the painful weather it was a part of. The room was a typical Rainbow Dash style, except for all her belongings seemed to be thrown aside by either a fit of anger or despair. "Rainbow Dash!" Twilight called out noticing the faded pegasus on the bed, her mane's colouring was dull while her coat was covered in traces of unwashed blood and mud. "Rainbow!" Twilight repeated as she moved her hoof forward to try and reach her unresponsive friend, but she felt nothing, her step felt none existent against the bedrooms surface. Twilight realized her error to late as she began to fall through the clouds. "DASH!" She yelled through the open clouds before they began to reform above her blocking the view of her friend.
Rainbow Dash broke from her despair as she heard the familiar cry for help, she rose to her still working hooves before throwing herself through her cloud home, hitting each floor softly before they managed to completely reform, as she chased down her waking nightmare. "Pinkie!" She yelled attempting to catch up with the pony she misidentified, but it was no use, she was to far away again. She strained her wings as far as they could manage pushing through the pain it gave her, she had to save her lover, she couldn't fail her again. But it was to late. "I'm sorry Pinkie, I didn't deserve you." Rainbow Dash regained tears in her eyes as she gave up, and folded in her wings. Allowing herself to fall to her deserving fate.
Twilight closed her eyes as she noticed Rainbow Dash becoming to far away. 'Lessons, training, reading, and the Element of Magic can't even use a simple cloud walking spell.' Time seemed to slow down as she felt herself hit the ground. "I'm sorry Rarity."
"You can be sorry later." Twilight opened her eyes hearing her lover's voice, she tried moving to no avail before noticing the 'ground' she hit was a strong but weakening white aura. Before she could fully appreciate the strength of the levitation it shattered and landed Twilight harshly, but unhurt on the floor. "I am sorry Twilight dear, but stopping your fall was, taxing at best."
Twilight looked up to her saviour brushing some dirt from her legs. "Thank you Rari."
"Rainbow!" The unicorns looked back up quickly noticing their friend falling, Twilight knew Rarity was to weak to help and quickly tried making her way over to the two pegasi, to everypony's shock Fluttershy raced into the sky and caught her best friend. "Rainbow."
"Shy?" Rainbow Dash opened her eyes to her friends voice, her evident tears touching her soul. "Don't cry." She noticed the floor incoming, what was to be her judgement threatened to hurt her best friend instead. With a strong flap of her beaten wings she managed to slow their descent enough to land safely with the aid of a familiar lavender levitation.
Rarity walked over, still exhausted to her four friends. "Can ponies please stop falling today." She gave a soft laugh at her own statement. "I just want to stay on the nice, all be it cold, floor. Ok?" She settled down near her lover, resting against her lavender coat. "At least now, all we need is Pinkie Pie, then we can sort everything out."
The exhausted unicorn felt sick as she noticed her mention of their pink friend broke Rainbow Dash into tears. 'I should have known not to mention anything yet. Celestia only knows what happened between them. Pinkie might have dumped.' Rarity shook her head to the thought as she held her hurt friend sympathetically. 'No, Pinkie loved her, she would never leave her.' She gazed back to the nearby caked blood. 'Oh Pinkie, what happened to you?'
Applejack removed her warm clothing and placed it over Rainbow Dash, who lay sprawled across the floor being treated by Fluttershy regardless of permission. The kind pegasus held a serious but caring look on her face as she used her emergency supplies on her friend. Applejack had never seen her rival so upset before, and the cleaning Fluttershy gave over the wounds only showed how shallow most of them were. She feared what caused her so much pain, knowing it wasn't her own injuries. "Pinkie." Applejack's expected fear was answered as Rainbow spoke covering her face with her right hoof. "I failed you, I don't deserve this."
Fluttershy silenced her friend with her hoof shortly, before beginning to stroke her ruined mane. "Nopony deserves to not be treated, no matter what. I know it hurts, but catching illnesses won't do any good for any of us." Fluttershy continued cleaning her best friend's wounds. "We will wait as long as you need, just let me know when you are ready to talk." Rainbow silently lowered her head over her leg, becoming more docile as she lay in thought.
Twilight, Rarity and Applejack began talking quietly to each other trying to draft any ideas of what happened between their injured and missing friends, but among the shot down ideas of death or a break up they couldn't figure out anything plausible. As they continued to talk a small shadow flew overhead, they looked up to see a small grey pegasus flying towards Rainbow's house, she remained at the door for a few seconds before noticing the group below and began to descend. "H, hi does anypony know if Rainbow Dash is in?" The postmare rubbed her bruised face shortly before noticing the hurt pegasus on the floor. "Rainbow Dash?! Oh Celestia what happened?" Ditzy ran over tripping slightly before sitting next to Fluttershy. She rubbed her bruised face again as the obvious conclusion came to mind. "Gilda."
"Gilda?!" Fluttershy snapped uncharacteristically to the name of her old bully.
Ditzy sighed wincing slightly at her own pain as she brought out a letter from her saddle pack. "I, I hate to do this, but I need to give you this." Fluttershy snatched the letter from the postmare's grasp before tearing it open and skimming the content. After a short read she ripped the letter in half, throwing it away to the wind. "No please! I don't want to be hit again!" Ditzy yelled fearing the sender's usual response to her failed delivering.
Twilight wrapped her lavender aura around the two parts of the letter, levitating it over to her eyes. "Dash," Twilight gulped hurtfully as she began reading the rest of the small message. "Now that the pink nuisance is out the way, maybe you can come back to me, if you stop whining and start being cool again. Gilda."
"Heartless monster." Fluttershy stated coldly. "She hurts Pinkie then she hurts Rainbow then demands her, she hasn't changed at all."
Twilight shook her head quickly. "No, it's just a misunderstanding, Gilda's her friend, friends don't ever do things like that."
"She's evil!" Fluttershy spit out in response. "Ponies always said that but it's wrong, she's cruel, she's mean, she's evil!"
"It was me." The arguing ceased as Rainbow Dash began crying openly again. "It was my fault, it wasn't Gilda, I couldn't save her Pink, Pinkie, I killed her."
Fluttershy dived over and hugged her best friend. "You didn't kill her, you couldn't kill anypony. It's all a lie."
Rainbow collapsed into her caring friends hug. "Pinkie fell, I tried to save her, I tried. I, I was sure I saved her I had her in my hooves!" She yelled staring up at her friends eyes before returning her gaze down. "But I didn't, I woke up with my legs broken and she was, gone." Rainbow fell against her best friend's yellow coat again, drenching it in tears. "I was positive I saved her, but I failed just like I did with Twilight."
Fluttershy continued to hold the broken pegasus as the others grouped around her, trying to comfort Rainbow Dash. "But, there's not enough." they turned their attention towards Twilight, pointing down at the caked blood on the floor. "There's not enough blood there for one pony being seriously injured, yet alone two, and anyway there's no body, she can't be dead."
"Gilda said she took the body into town, she said I didn't want to see it." Rainbow continued crying in her carers arms.
"GILDA?!" Fluttershy screamed shocking the other ponies. "That cruel manipulative cow! She's blatantly lied about this to hurt you."
"Pinkie was probably just unconscious from the fall and Gilda must have confused it, she-"
"Do you REALLY-" Fluttershy's anger was cut short by an orange hoof forcing itself against her mouth. She noticed her lover standing beside her, holding her. Her anger subsided as she felt her mane being gently brushed. Noticing she was calm again Applejack removed her hoof, allowing Fluttershy to apologise. "I'm sorry Twilight, I just, she's hurt me and others so many times, and now Rainbow. I, I shouldn't take it out on you."
Twilight walked over to her friend, pulling her in for a hug. "It's ok, I understand I probably shouldn't have said it either." Twilight let Fluttershy go, who smiled back still ashamed at raising her voice. "But at any rate we know that Gilda knows where Pinkie is. We just need to go and ask her where she took her, this all looks bad but remember that she is still Rainbow's friend. I'll go and find her." Twilight smiled happily turning to Rarity. "I'll miss you, but I will only be gone for a short while." She gave her lover a kiss before starting to make her way over to town, pleased with the knowledge she was going to help Pinkie Pie.
Fluttershy was about to speak out in protest but was silenced again by her lover. She noticed Applejack's eyes held the same concern as she raised to her hooves. "Ah'll go and make sure she's, safe." The work pony sighed thinking about their naive friend. "Don't hold it against her, she hasn't had to learn them lessons, yet." Applejack gently kissed Fluttershy who was still fearing for her friend. "Ah will keep her safe, Ah promise." Gently petting Fluttershy for a final time, she turned away to catch up with Twilight.
"Wait!" Applejack and Twilight stopped hearing the yell coming from behind. "She, she's at 8 Bridle Lane." Ditzy held a determined but fearful look, staring at the two leaving ponies. "But please, don't tell her I told you." The postmare lowered her gaze back to the floor, silently fearing the beating she could receive. "Pinkie, she, cared about me. She invited me to a party made for me. She's the only pony that ever really did. Please help her, for me as well."
"Thank you Ditzy." Twilight thanked happily for the help from the pony she barely knew before turning back around to face town. "See, we just need to be nice and others are nice in return. It's no different with Gilda, or that dragon, or hay, likely even Discord." Twilight giggled at her statement as she walked beside Applejack.
'Ah'm sorry Twilight, but not everything is sugar and rainbows.' Applejack quietly feared for her friends happiness, as they pressed on to confront Gilda.