Mental distortion is not required. It will be provided for you.
29w, 1dCutie Mark Crusaders
81w, 1dKeeria's Library
86w, 2dRookies on the Rise
24w, 2dRainbow Dash Fan Club
- Show All Groups
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29w, 1dFilly 5
41w, 15hChildren of Equestria
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13w, 2dHow Cancerponi Should Have Ended — Part I: Forced Poni Angst 3 comments · 243 views
14w, 6dCancerponi IV - Arm Squeezer Things 3 comments · 123 views
Chapter III — Sisters
“Gaaaah!” Scootaloo shot up in a screaming tangle of sheets and feathers, her bloodshot eyes wide with terror. It took barely a moment to register the beaming yellow earth pony dangling off the edge of her bed by two scrawny legs.
It took another moment to realize what the filly had said. “H-hey! I’m not a c-crybaby!” Scootaloo stuttered in defiance.
“Heeheeheehee… If you say so, crybaby!”
Scootaloo wiped away a traitorous teardrop from her now rosy cheek. “Quit calling me that!” she fumed, glaring dull daggers at the snickering filly.
Reflex lifted Summerset’s hoof up to her lips to stifle a rude giggle, the gesture causing her to lose her grip on the bed and tumble backwards, out of Scootaloo’s vision. “Woah-oooah!” She landed on a her flank right next to her paper bag. “Whew, that was a close one,” she snickered.
“Who even are you?!” Scootaloo shouted, quivering with anger. A cough sputtered forth from her lips as she tried her hardest to stare down the intruder as Summerset poked her head back up from behind the base of the cot. She grimaced, her throat burning. “Where did you c-come from all of a sudden, I don’t remember inviting you in here!” she spat in anger as her now exposed wings twitched.
“Oh yeah, silly me! Forgot all about introductions and the like,” Summerset sang gleefully, blind or ignorant to Scootaloo’s fuming rage. “Name’s Summerset! I’m Amber Leaf’s l'il angel, I’m eight and a half, and I totally thought my cutie mark would have to do with bedside manner until today! Snnnkt—heeheehee!”
She waited innocently for a response from the sickly filly. Scootaloo, however, was completely transfixed on something—something that had passed unnoticed until it shook her to her frail core. Unable to speak, all the slightly shivering pegasus could manage was to half-lift a hoof towards the sight of the completely shaven—or otherwise bald—scalp of the blinking filly before her.
“Y-you…” she stammered in confusion, “Why’re you—I mean, w-where’s your mane gone?”
“Oh, this?” Summerset spoke with no embarrassment, her eyes peering up under a maneless scalp. “That’s one of the things that the key—Umm… Aww, shoot, what was it called?” With a heave, she pushed herself up a bit higher on the bed and kicked her hind leg over the sheet, eventually clambering onto the surprisingly warm linen comforter. All the while, “Hmmm’s” and stuttering consonants were muttered as she pondered. “Kay—no, that’s not it… Chee-ma, key-mo…”
At that last utterance, Scootaloo visibly cringed as some realization dawned upon her anxious features. Failing to suppress a gulp, she squeaked out, “Ch-chemotherapy…?”
“Yeah, that’s the one!” Summerset nodded, her eyes lighting up. “If I had the digits to snap, I totally would right now!”
Scootaloo, however, deflated considerably at this. “Seriously? I’m gonna go bald, too?!”
“Whatcha mean by that, crybaby?” Summerset said, absentmindedly running a hoof over her maneless scalp.
“Sh-shut up! I’m not a crybaby!” Scootaloo snapped.
“Were ya crying just now?”
“N-no, I was just mad is all! That doesn’t make me a friggin’ crybaby!”
Summerset flopped on her back, her head towards the head of the bed. “Aww, I’m just teasin’, ya silly goober! You don’t have to be a crybaby if you don’t want to!”
“Good, ‘cause I’m not!” Scootaloo folded her forelegs with a huff. She groaned, a splitting ache raging and pulsing through her skull as she grew more awake.
“So what was that all that snot about goin’ bald or whatever you were groanin’ on about?” Summerset rolled over onto her belly, shifting her head off the bed in the process. “It’s not over-the-counter crud that does this to ya!”
“Uhm...” Scootaloo shifted slightly, rubbing her neck with a hoof. “The d-doctor said something about a key-mo therapy? I thought it was like the stuff they make Rainbow Dash do after she breaks her wing, but you said it made you go...” She paused, looking up into space.
A sudden snarl, and then, “What they hay, kid?! I don’t have to explain myself, I don’t even know you!"
“Woah-ho, no need to get your feathers in a pillow!” Summerset snickered. “I was just curious is all, sheesh!"
"Well cut it out!"
"Being annoying!" Scootaloo spat. It was then that her lungs convulsed fiercely, and she collapsed back to the bed with a groan.
"Yeesh, you alright, crybaby?" The maneless filly winced. "S-sorry, I didn't mean nothin' by it..."
"Nnnnngh..." Scootaloo fought back tears as she curled herself tight with the practiced speed of having spent many frigid nights without shelter. "I'm n-not a crybaby..."
"Uhm..." Summerset bit her lip. With a wayward glance away from the sniffling, bedridden filly before her, she spotted her paper bag sitting on the cold tile. Her face lit up with a sudden smile, and in an instant she was standing up and hopping off the bed, her hooves landing solidly on the ground.
"Summerset?" a mare's voice called from outside the room. "Summer, sweetie, where are you?"
The filly in question spun around, away from the door. She bent over and picked up the paper bag and its contents, before making her way back to Scootaloo's bed. Hopping once, twice, three times, she finally managed to climb over the foot of the bed. With an apologetic glance at the shivering pegasus, Summerset dropped the bag at Scootaloo's hooves.
"H-hey, uhm..." she stammered, as if her talkative demeanor had also been whisked away by Scootaloo's coughing fit. "I-I think I get what you meant, or... or at least I think I do."
"G-go away..." Scootaloo choked out between suppressed sobs.
Summerset grimaced, her ears drooping. "I didn't mean to be such a nincompoop." With one last forlorn look at Scootaloo, she muttered, "You're not alone, y'know."
With that, the sobbing stopped. The silence was almost eerie at first, broken only with a sniffle that punctuated Scootaloo's breathing. Slowly, the teary-eyed filly shifted and sat up, her violet gaze falling on the paper bag that had appeared on the foot of her bed.
Summerset climbed down from the bed in silence. She picked up her top hat and placed it over her maneless scalp, shifting the giant thing around until it no longer threatened to topple off. She walked towards the door at a painfully slow gait, as if something were fighting to keep her in the room with Scootaloo.
"Summer? Are you hiding in the heated blankets again?" the mare's voice echoed from the hall. "You know what Nurse Tenderheart said about wrapping yourself in sheet cocoons, you're not going to turn into a pegasus or a butterfly!"
Summerset couldn't help but snicker at that. Just as she was about to shout back an answer, a voice squeaked from behind her.
"Huh?" The maneless filly turned to look over, and saw Scootaloo sitting up and uncovered by her blanket, staring down. The sickly pegasus' wings twitched, and she lifted the cupcake from where it sat in the bag.
"My n-name is Scootaloo," she said, her gaze never leaving the spiralling dessert.
Summerset felt a grin pulling at her cheeks. "You've got a bald-buddy in me, Scootaloo," she said.
"Summerset, please! Come out here!"
"Coming, Momma!" her voice squeaked. With a wave to Scootaloo, she pulled the door open and trotted swiftly into the hall. She looked to her left, and saw a golden-coated earth pony coming around the corner.
"There you are!" Amber Leaf smiled at her daughter. "I can't take you anywhere without you wandering off, you little explorer."
"Sure beats the boring crud you wanna do!" Summerset said with a snicker. "Shopping for hats? Pffft! Boooring!"
"Oh, really? Then you won't mind if I take this!" Amber Leaf popped the top hat off of Summerset's head.
"Noooooo, Momma! Give it back, give it!" Summerset giggled.
Amber Leaf held it just out of her hopping daughter's reach. "Oh, but I thought hats were boring. Unless you take it back?"
"I do, I do! Gimme it back, my head's all cold now!"
She sighed, finally lowering her hoof and allowing Summerset to snatch the oversized headwear back. The two of them began walking back down the hall Amber Leaf had come from, Summerset humming softly to herself.
"So where'd your treat go, Summer?" Amber Leaf asked, catching her daughters blue gaze. "Don't tell me you finished it already!"
Summerset looked down in silence, her hat shifting forward slightly.
"Summerset? Is everything alright?" Her mother's voice was suddenly full of concern.
"Y-yeah, I'm all good, Momma." She yawned, a little shudder travelling up her spine. "Somepony else was just hungrier than I was."
Amber Leaf smiled gently. "Generosity is its own reward, sweetie."
The two of them found their way back to the hospital's main entrance. Stepping outside, Summerset breathed deep the fresh afternoon air, feeling a light wind brush past her.
In an instant, the gentle breeze exploded into a veritable windstorm as a streak of color shot past them. Summerset's hat tumbled off, floating briefly before falling to the ground. The prismatic blur turned a full vertical circle before slamming to the ground between the filly and her mother, kicking up a cloud of dust with the force of two powerful blue wings.
"Summer? S-Summerset, are you alright?" Amber Leaf's voice rang out as Summerset coughed and sputtered, feeling around for her hat.
"Y-yeah, I'm okay!" she squeaked, finding her dust-covered hat and placing it back over her maneless head. As the dust cloud settled, Amber Leaf cantered the few feet over to her daughter, hugging her tight.
"My stars, the nerve of some ponies!" she grumbled. Looking up from the embrace, her sea-green eyes glared furiously at the pegasus who had so barbarically smashed into the dirt before them. "Don't you have half a mind to watch where you're going? You could have seriously hurt somepony!"
She didn't get a reply. Instead, she saw the pony stand up, flipping dust and an unkempt mane out of her eyes. Ruby eyes squinting in anger, the colorful mare closed her wings and trotted forth into the hospital. On her back, a tiny canvas saddle bag covered in twigs and thin leaves shifted with her every step. The double doors closed with a slam behind her.
Amber Leaf scratched her head. "Whatever that was about, it's not going to end well."
"Excuse me, may I help you with something?" a staff mare behind the front desk asked—quivering slightly—as Rainbow Dash stormed into the room. The tiny saddle bag resting on her spine jostled slightly as she shoved her way through the set of double doors to the left of the hospital's entrance.
"H-hey, you can't go in there!" the mare shouted after her. "This is a hospital, ma'am, and I'll ask you to respect the rules!"
Rainbow Dash snorted, but ultimately stopped and turned around. "I'm here to see Scootaloo," she said, her frown on the vestiges of a snarl. "Brought her here a few days ago. Good enough?"
The mare blinked. A slight squeaking sounded from behind the desk as she backed her rolling chair away from the unmoving pegasus before her. "J-just one m-moment, please," she stuttered.
She pulled herself away from Rainbow Dash's furious gaze. She flipped through a few papers, nodding her head. "Y-yes, Miss Rainbow Dash. Go right on back, she's in Room 224."
Rainbow said nothing. Instead, she spun around and stomped off down the hall, growling and grumbling to herself the whole way. The mare behind the desk called something else out to her, but Rainbow Dash ignored it. She had other matters to deal with.
Ascending the stairwell with a few powerful wingbeats, she slammed open the door to the second floor. A quick glance at a sign on the wall turned her gait left. Turning the corner, Rainbow Dash saw the number she sought etched in a little plate on a door.
She paused. A deep breath, and she turned to look at the littered, torn canvas bag on her back. A small crimson rag hung out of it, glittering golden fabric adorning one side of the cloth. Rainbow Dash bit her lip, apprehensively lifting a hoof.
Shaking her head, she turned her steely gaze forward once more. Wasting no more time, she pushed the door open with a firm but gentle hoof.
"Eep!" Scootaloo squeaked in surprise as Rainbow Dash stepped into the room. "R-Rainbow Dash? Is that really you?" she gasped.
Rainbow didn't speak. She instead walked into the room and slammed the door behind her with a kick. She turned her head back—nostrils flaring— and grabbed the tiny saddle bag from her back. With a grunt, she tossed it to the bed at Scootaloo's hooves.
"Just when the heck were you gonna tell me about this?!" she shouted.
Scootaloo was silent. Her chin twitched, as if there were some elaborate excuse she'd had planned for ages that somehow lacked the courage to come forward. She blinked, and felt moisture forming in the corners of her eyes.
"What the crap, kid?! You've been living on the street, and you didn't tell anypony?!"
"Th-that's not... I-it's not what y-you—"
"Oh, it's not what I think?!" Rainbow fumed, stomping a hoof. "Enlighten me then, Scoot! Just what the in hay is it?!"
At a loss for words, all Scootaloo could do was whimper.
"Did you not think this was a big deal?! You're just a foal, for pony’s sake!" Rainbow Dash yelled as if it had been her own flesh and blood living in squalor.
That last quip bit into Scootaloo. "H-hey, I'm not a baby!" She grimaced at the pounding in her head as her voice rose. "I don't need you or anypony else!"
"Scoot, are you kidding me?!" Rainbow Dash shouted. "I found this crap next to a drainage ditch! You barely have anything to eat!" She didn't even notice as she hovered off the tile floor, slowly leaning into Scootaloo's face. "And worst of all, you hide all this crap from your friends?! From me?! Sisters don't friggin' lie to each other!"
Scootaloo was silent. Rainbow Dash was breathing heavily from her outburst. For a few brief, tense moments, nopony said a word.
Then, came the tears. Scootaloo had tried to fight them back, but failed, as she always did. She sniffled once, coughed, then felt her convulsions turning into sobs. Curling into herself, she fell to her side pulled the blanket over her shivering features, knocking a spiralling pink cupcake to the floor.
Rainbow Dash winced. With a deep breath, she touched her hooves back to the tile and took a step towards the now wailing Scootaloo. "K-kid, I... I'm sorry, I should've kept a lid on all that."
Scootaloo continued crying. "I-I'm s-sorry..."
"I j-just... I care about you, y'know? To find out you're living alone, out in the dirt?" Rainbow Dash sighed again. "It's just stupid. To think you've been on your own for Celestia knows how long, and I haven't noticed it yet?"
Just then, Dr. Stable burst into the room. "Scootaloo? Rainbow Dash? What's going on in here, why is half the hospital complaining about shouting in this room?"
Rainbow Dash jumped slightly. "H-hey Doc, just talkin' it up with my favorite filly here," she said with a sheepish grin.
Dr. Stable frowned, raising an eyebrow.
Rainbow gave a heaving sigh. "Alright, look, we need to talk. Somewhere that isn't here." She gestured to the still sobbing Scootaloo.
"My goodness, what did you say?! Scootaloo, are you okay? What's wrong?"
With a hiccup, Scootaloo squeaked out between sobs, "M-my h-head hurts..."
The doctor stood up and nodded. Trotting over to a cabinet, he produced a syringe and a small vial of clear liquid. Rainbow Dash watching, he proceeded to use the syringe to put the liquid through the rubber tube leading into Scootaloo's foreleg. He stepped back, and within moments the filly was asleep.
"H-holy hay..." Rainbow Dash said breathily. "What did you give her just now?"
"All I can, I'm afraid," Dr. Stable replied grimly.
"H-huh? Whaddya mean by that?"
"I mean, I can only treat the symptoms of Scootaloo's disease." He telekinetically placed the syringe into a plastic box labeled with a biohazard symbol. "Without the consent of a parent or guardian, Equestrian law prohibits me from administering drugs that would cause harm to her bodily functions, which are unfortunately necessary to treat her."
Rainbow Dash cringed, and the doctor saw it. "Miss Dash, is there something you'd like to tell me? I feel I should remind you that every second counts when treating a disease like leukemia, especially considering how long Scootaloo has gone without aid."
"Y-yeah, about that..." Rainbow Dash said, "She doesn't really have a 'guardian,' so to speak..."
She waited for some kind of response. She expected shouting, similar to her own reaction, or even complete disbelief. Instead, she heard, "Alright, then we have two options."
"I said we have two options," Dr. Stable repeated.
Rainbow Dash blinked, then shook her head. "Okay, shoot," she said.
The doctor looked at the sleeping filly, still clutching her blanket as she would a precious stuffed animal. "Well, the first option would be to work out a way to give the hospital custody over Scootaloo until she is healthy again."
Rainbow Dash nodded. "That sounds easy enough, what're we—"
"It could take weeks, Rainbow Dash," Dr. Stable said solemnly. "There's no legal process in place for something like that. In the time it would take for me to gain permission to treat Scootaloo, we could very well lose her to the cancer."
Rainbow Dash sat down, stunned. "Sh-she's really that s-sick?" she stammered.
"Leukemia can be very aggressive. Based on how developed Scootaloo's disease is, I'd guess she's been sick for at least two months," he said. "Maybe more."
Rainbow Dash looked back at Scootaloo's slumbering figure. With a light stroke of her wing, she brushed a few stray mane hairs from the sleeping filly's eyes. "So what's option two?"
"The only other choice—the fastest choice—is much more straightforward." He looked Rainbow Dash in the eyes. "Somepony would have to temporarily adopt Scootaloo and act as her guardian, and provide the permission I need to treat her."
Rainbow Dash said nothing. Her gaze drifted back to Scootaloo, to the filly's chest as it rose and fell. She sighed, for she knew the words that would come from her mouth before she even spoke them.
"T-temporary?" she asked.
Dr. Stable blinked at that. "Yes, temporary," he confirmed. "At least until she no longer needs treatment, and possibly afterwards depending on her recovery."
Rainbow Dash sat down, her wings drooping. She kept staring at Scootaloo, at how her face was stained with tears, tears of a life spent living alone amongst the dirt and garbage of Ponyville. Memories of a rushing waterfall, a warming embrace beside a river, and a filly held on Rainbow's outstretched hoof flashed before her mind’s eye.
In a blink, she stood up. "Where do I sign?”