The night was calm and the smell of summer was strong. Beside some bushes at the outskirt of a small town sat a young filly, her eyes fixed at the sky as if stargazing. It wasn't the first time she sat in this particular spot, and – she reckoned – it would not be the last either. She stifled a yawn as it was much past the time she usually went to bed. Despite nature still being in full bloom, the filly could tell autumn was on its way. For any activity other than sitting still and squinting towards the sky for several hours, the weather would have been called brisk. But now, it was simply chilly. The filly shuddered and began walking around in circles to get the blood flowing. Not that she complained; she had endured much worse weather in this particular spot.
Content with the added warmth in her limbs, she sat down and resumed her vigil, intensely scanning the skies for a streak of color. Half an hour later, she was almost asleep sitting on the same spot, but soon came out of her relaxed state and put her ears upright as she wondered if she had heard something nearby. A brief rush of joy was exchanged for caution when she realized she had heard hooves instead of wing beats. The pony she waited for would definitely never have been walking. Hoof beats meant someone else.
Somepony would probably ask questions of what a young filly like her was doing out at this time. She couldn't have that. Somepony else might even insist on following her and making sure she got home safe. And she absolutely could not have that. The young filly immediately decided to used another one of the advantages of the thick bushes she always waited by. She crawled inside and, hidden from the outside, listened as the voices and hoof beats came closer.
As the voices grew louder, she felt a lump rising in her throat. It was the pony she had waited for, but she wasn't alone. From her hiding place she watched as the pair emerged out of the dark, their lack of flight made very obvious. Rainbow Dash and another pegasus – a brown colt she didn't recognize – walked with their wings wrapped tightly around each other. They laughed and then stumbled, but their entangled wings allowed them keep their balance and aided in transferring the misstep into an act of sloppy kissing.
Scootaloo watched from her hiding place, heat slowly beginning to rise to her face, but soon was plagued by a cold hard lump in her throat. Well, the clubhouse again I guess, she thought. With the feeling of wetness coming to the corners of her eyes – which she hated herself for – she slowly began making her way through the bushes to the other side, away from the laughing and kissing couple.
Rainbow Dash's night had been awesome so far, which really wasn't so strange since being awesome generally meant having an awesome time. She and AJ had hit the bars – well, bar to be more exact. This wasn't Manehattan after all – having shots, bantering and generally having a good time. After the shots they hit the dance floor and it was there that she saw him first. He sat with his friends, downing beers, but his eyes rested on her. He wasn't from around here, and good looking too. His toned flight muscles rippled under the skin and his feathers glistened with the many different hues of and between the shades of brown.
The rest of the night had been a blur of dreamy dancing, dirty flirting in a secluded corner of the bar, and when he put his wing around her on the way home, her whole body shivered in anticipation. There had been some kind of altercation with AJ, but she didn't remember exactly what about right now. That mare probably just needed to chill out a little bit. And right now her inebriated mind was trying to solve another problem. Her house was up there in the sky. Getting there meant getting to her bedroom, and doing what she had wanted since she first laid eyes on him earlier in the night. But getting there also meant flying, which meant disentangling from this wonderful embrace of ruffled feathers and hungry mouths.
The sound of a branch snapping nearby quickly broke through the fog surrounding Dash's drunken but occupied mind.
"What was that?" she said, ears suddenly perking in the direction of the sound.
"What?" her companion asked in return, his visage supporting the tone of confusion in his voice.
"I think there's someone in the bushes," she explained with as she pointed with her free wing towards the area in question.
"It was probably just a bird or a bunny," the colt dismissed and attempted to resume the kiss, only to meet a hoof pushing him away instead.
"I don't think that was a bird. It might have been a pony, and in that case, I think I know who it is," the cyan pegasus said with a rising anger in her voice. "And I'm gonna give her a piece of my mind; this isn't the first time this shit has happened".
She began walking over to the bush and shouted "Hey, I know you're in there! I told you not to do this anymore! It's fucking creepy and you know it!" She began to crawl into the bushes, her bewildered lover remaining outside. He was just about to object further when the sound of someone frantically trying to push her way through the thick undergrowth became as clear and apparent as the day.
"TWILIGHT! I told you last time I was gonna rip your horn out if I caught you creeping again!" She turned around to the colt and continued angrily "…crazy egghead. Sometimes I don't know why I hang out with her. The friendship seems to come with the 'privilege' to be a 'case study' at regular intervals, most likely without you knowing about it."
The mare launched herself into the air and surveyed the thick green under her. Looking for movement she shouted, "Twilight! This is your last chance to come out peacefully. I will NOT become 'the face of binge drinking' in 'Equestria Psych' this year again!" Spotting the movement of a few leaves, she pounced on the spot. "Gotcha now egghe…," she trailed off when she saw she had grabbed a small orange filly instead of a lavender mare. "…Squirt?!"
Rainbow Dash sat down on her haunches with confusion written all over her face. "Scoots, whatcha doin' here of all places in the middle of the night?" After her drunken mind slowly processed the situation, comprehension dawned on her almost immediately. She asked the little filly one simple question. "They at it again?" The inquiry was met with a silent nod from the younger pony.
Suddenly, a male voice called out for Rainbow Dash wondering what was going on. She sighed, "I'm sorry squirt, but I have some company. Can't you sleep at Applebloom's tonight?"
The filly slowly shook her head and whispered, "They have their relatives over right now, so the house is really crowded."
"Rarity?" the older mare quizzed.
"It was late when I had to go. I didn't dare waking her up."
Rainbow Dash sighed again, took the filly under one arm and with a few strong but slightly unsteady wing beats, took her to the end of the shrubbery and sat her down a few feet from a very confused brown stallion. The flight was just a few seconds and despite how Scootaloo felt that Dash was everything but pleased with her, she couldn't help but smile. She never felt as safe as she was when being carried in flight by Rainbow.
"Wait here while I try to sort this mess out," Dash told the younger filly while signing for the brown colt to talk to her a few paces away.
"You don't have too. I can sleep at the clubhouse," Scootaloo piped up as the mare was turning away from her.
Dash turned her head and gave her a tired look that clearly said, "No, you can't 'sleep at the clubhouse'."
…sleeping on the sofa…won't disturb us…." Whatever Dash had been saying, it didn't working, and the colt took off and disappeared into the night sky. The mare stood watching in the spot where he disappeared for a while before briskly walking over towards the filly. She unceremoniously lifted the filly on her back and without a word took to the skies heading towards her home in the clouds.
The flight took less than a minute, but Scootaloo was almost nodding off, not realizing how tired she really was. She quickly woke up when she was dumped on the floor of the living room in Dash's house. She stifled a yawn and, uncertain what to do, anxiously watched while the older mare paced around the room, grabbing the odd pieces of dirty cutlery and fast food containers that were strewn around the room. She was clearly in a bad mood. Scootaloo was feeling the lump in her throat building again, silently cursing herself for being so stupid. Why didn't she just immediately leave when she realized the older mare had company?
"Um, Rainbow? I'm really sorry about your date," she piped up.
The older mare froze in her place and stared at Scootaloo who instantly regretted opening her mouth.
"You know what, so am fucking I…," she snarled before unsteadily making her way into the bathroom.
An orange filly with tears in her eyes sat in a large, cold cloud house. She didn't know what to do and she hated herself for it. Looking out the door, she wondered if her useless wings would give enough lift to make it to the ground without hurting herself too much. She made her way towards the door and opened it, staring over the edge towards the ground. There was no way. If it was 15 or 20 meters she might have had the endurance to slow her speed, but the ground was much farther away than that.
She imagined just jumping. Maybe it was what needed to be done to finally make her fly. She tried to visualize it: falling, but suddenly, wind catching in her wings and making her soar through the skies. Dash falls in by her side and praises her, asking her to move in with her now that she can fly up to the house herself. But that wasn't about to happen, and she knew it. A few seconds of panicked flapping would turn into a plunge towards the earth. What would she do? Would she strain and burst her weak flight muscles trying in vain to break her fall, or would she think it was for the better? Scootaloo closed her eyes an imagined the ground coming up faster and faster, finally meeting her. It didn't seem so bad after all, it would be rather quick.
Her thoughts were abruptly cut off by the noise of the toilet door opening. The twisting pit in her belly instantly returned and she wanted to hide herself somewhere. But Rainbow seemed to ignore her and was making her way towards her bedroom, swaying a little and propping herself up against a wall with one of her wings.
With the sound of Dash's bedroom door closing and leaving the small filly alone in the rest of the big house, she shivered slightly due to a sudden gust of wind from the open door, and went to close it. When she reached for the handle, she suddenly – not really knowing why – stepped out onto the edge of the house instead, and gazed down at the ground.
Rainbow Dash slowly became aware of her surroundings. The dull grey light outside put the time at somewhere in the early hours before dawn. Sitting up in the bed, she rubbed a hoof in her eyes trying to grasp what she was doing and pinpoint the source of her discomfort. As sleep further slipped from her brain, she identified a parched tongue, throbbing headache and a full bladder. The latter was probably the main culprit in her awakening.
Gliding out of bed and taking a few seconds to regain her balance, small fragments of the night before began to come back. A hangover, she realized. Making her way out of her bedroom, she received a small shock at the cold floor and air outside her room. Cloud houses had one large drawback: they weren't very insulating. The only thing keeping her bedroom warm in the night was her pegasus metabolism, the room's small size, and the extra thick walls. She made her way to the bathroom while bracing herself against the cold.
After relieving herself and drinking what seemed like a gallon of water, she felt a little better at the very least. As she made her way back towards her bedroom she thanked Celestia by thinking, "At least I didn't drag home some insufferable jerk that would lie snoring in her bed all morning and have to be thrown out." She did have an exceptionally bad taste in colts when that drunk. "Wasn't there a brown pegasus? Yeah, the one I sort of remember dancing with at the bar, right?" Her mind raced, trying to piece together the fragments of the night before.
"O yeah, we did almost make it home. Lucky Scoots needed a place to crash or else…" her mind trailed off before the realization dawned on her, "Oh Celestia fuck me. Scootaloo!"
A panic began welling up in Dash's chest as the memories from last night came rushing back swiftly and forcefully. She groaned and galloped to the living room. The room was bitter cold, and the outer door was left wide open. Rainbow felt a cold lump in her heart as she advanced towards the door.
"She couldn't have tried to fly down could she?" she thought in dread before spotting something in the corner of her eye. It was a little orange ball of wings and fur tucked up in a corner of her sofa.
The small shape was shivering from the cold but was obviously too exhausted to be kept awake by it, and Rainbow Dash was cursing herself over and over in her mind as she carefully gathered the small shape in her forelegs and flew towards her bedroom. She carefully placed the sleeping filly on her bed and lay down beside her, extending her wing over her and pulling her close. The sudden contact between her own and the filly's cold fur made the older mare gasp, and she used a free hoof to throw a blanket over them. The movement had made the orange filly stir and open her eyes. A second of confusion flashed across the young face before a panicked expression emerged on the filly’s face.
"I'm s-s-sorry Rainbow, I-I didn't mean…," she sputtered before Dash laid a gentle hoof on her muzzle.
"Hush, Scoot, hush. There's nothing for you to apologize for," she whispered and hugged the young filly closer. "I'm sorry, Scoot, I truly am." A few more seconds of confusion stayed on the filly's face before her lip started to quiver and she began to sob hysterically while she buried her muzzle in the older mare's coat. Dash wrapped her wings around her even harder and slowly rocked her while gently stroking her mane as she cried. Slowly, the sobbing from Scootaloo subsided and she looked up from the tear-sodden fur of Dash.
"I love you Rainbow," was all she said.
Dash dried the tears in the corners of the filly's eyes and answered, "I love you too squirt," while kissing her forehead. "Now try to get some more sleep will ya?"
Tucking the orange bundle of fur beneath her wings and hugging her tight, Dash stared into the gray dawn outside. It didn't take many minutes before the rhythmic breathing under her wing told her Scootaloo was asleep, and it was not until then Dash felt tears beginning to fill her eyes
"I'm so sorry Scoots…"