“Good morning!” Crystal Ball sang, walking into the crusader’s clubhouse.
Scootaloo looked up tiredly and groaned before turning over under her blanket. “Go away, I actually get to sleep in today.”
“But it’s time to get up. Sweetie Belle and Applebloom will be here any minute.”
Scootaloo groaned again. Crystal Ball rolled her eyes and skipped over. With a flourish she whipped the worn blanket away.
“Hey!” Scootaloo scrambled to catch it but it slipped right through her hooves. With a glare she stood up and began rubbing the sleep from her eyes. “What’s wrong with you today?”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“Well, you’re acting all normal and happy. It’s starting to creep me out.”
“I know, isn’t it just aweful? Discord’s been teaching me to make friends.” She shuddered. “Really, a couple zaps of mind control magic work so much better.”
“Uh... Right,” Scootaloo mumbled as she started folding her tattered rag of a blanket.
“So, how did it go last night?”
“I told Spike everything except for who you really are.” Scootaloo sat on her pillow, eyes threatening to tear up again. “I told him about what happened to my parents, and the Cloudsdale orphanage I ran away from after being bullied, and I told him Discord’s trying to help me. He promised he wouldn’t tell anypony. He told me not to trust you or Discord. He’s not just going to forget what happened, but at least now he feels bad enough for me that he won’t do anything to get me in trouble.”
“Excellent,” Crystal said, smiling brightly.
“No,” Scootaloo sighed. “It’s not excellent. I told him all of that stuff so he’d pity me. I... I manipulated him.”
Scootaloo stomped a hoof. “You might not care, but I do! It’s wrong.”
“But you’re only trying to help. Discord needs you, or he’ll never be free. Surely this little bit is worth helping him? I mean, he saved your life, didn’t he?”
“Well, yeah, I guess.” Scootaloo scowled again. “He saved me from your changelings.”
Crystal Ball waved a hoof. “Yes yes, but that’s all in the past now. The point is, you told Spike what you had to so you could help a friend.”
“I wouldn’t have had to tell him anything if you hadn’t talked to him first. What were you thinking?”
“Well, we had to approach the subject somehow. Better to do it now then when the elements are finished.”
Scootaloo blinked. “What? Wait, wait, are you saying Spike...” she trailed off.
“Discord chose Spike for the opposite of generosity. The Element of Greed, if I remember.”
“Woah, wait a second!” Scootaloo looked around the clubhouse and half-whispered, “Discord? Are you there?”
Discord answered with the sound of a drawn out yawn. What are you two fighting about so early?
“You said we had to use bad ponies for the elements. Spike isn’t bad. He isn’t even a pony!”
I said unpleasant, though I guess that doesn’t apply either. Look on the bright side, at least one of them will be fun to work with.
“That’s not the point!” Scootaloo shouted angrily. “You never said you’d drag my friends into this! And how do you think he’d feel if he found out? He’s head over tail for Rarity, and you want him to wield the completely opposite element? He’d be hurt, and mad at all of us.”
Well, he is a dragon, and they’re naturally greedy. Didn’t he try to steal your scooter?
“Well, yeah, but he’s better now.”
Scootaloo, he’s not better because he was never sick. He’s a dragon.
“But he’s more like a pony than a dragon anyway.”
You say that like it’s a good thing.
Scootaloo fidgeted her wings and replied nervously. “Isn’t it?”
Discord sighed. Scootaloo, I chose Spike because I wanted to help him. It’s great that he can live happily with ponies, and he’s got friends all around him, but all that comes at the cost of who he is. Being a dragon is as much a part of him as your wings are to you. Would you want to be “normal” if it meant you’d never learn to fly?
Scootaloo’s breath caught as she remembered a nightmare she’d had several times. She’d grown up without ever learning to fly, watching her classmates soar through the clouds every day. The mere memory made a roiling sea of panic rise in her chest.
You see what I mean? Spike needs to accept the things that make him a dragon, and learn to live with them. He’ll only get hurt if he ignores them and pretends to be a pony his entire life. I think I can help him, but only if he comes around.
Scootaloo dipped her head. “I guess.”
“Wonderful,” Crystal Ball said from the corner, reminding Scootaloo that she was there. “Now that’s settled, shouldn’t your friends be here by now?”
“Oh, they aren’t coming today. That’s why I was trying to sleep in. It’s the Sisterhooves Social today.” Scootaloo flopped back onto her pillow and reached for her bag. “It’s just you and me today.”
“I see,” Crystal Ball said. “Then I guess... wait, did you say Sisterhooves? Like, sister?”
“Yup,” Scootaloo replied, pulling out her latest Daring Do book and flipping it over. “They hold it over at Applebloom’s house every year.”
“And I take it they’re with their sisters? Rarity and Applejack?”
“Of course. Sweetie Belle and Applebloom would never let them miss it. Why? You don’t have any sisters, do you?”
Scootaloo waited for an answer, but none came. She dropped the book and looked around, but the clubhouse was empty. “Weirdo.”
Scootaloo slowly made her way into town just before noon. The cheering for the social could be heard clear across the orchard, and her mood had worsened with every passing minute.
She thought about going to the library, but the idea of seeing Spike made her stomach knot uncomfortably. Sugarcube Corner seemed like a good choice, but as soon as she turned the corner, she saw Mister Cake out front playing with Pumpkin and Pound.
She stomped by, purposefully looking away from the happy family.
After a few more minutes she ended up trotting through the park. It was beautiful this time of year. The grass was even and soft underhoof. Trees lined the paths, providing shade. Flowers grew in colorful bunches every few feet. Scootaloo took a deep breath and smiled, finally starting to relax.
She turned to see Pinkie Pie bouncing along the path, accompanied by two greyish ponies. “Hey, Pinkie Pie. Who are your friends?”
“These are my sisters. They don’t visit very often, but they visited today, which makes me so happy, and they didn’t know the Sisterhooves Social was today, which is funny because they visited and they’re my sisters, but we wouldn’t have entered anyway because it’s usually an older sister and a younger sister like Applejack and—”
“Pinkie,” one of her sisters interrupted her, “the filly you were talking to left.”
“I know that silly! She left after I said these are my sisters. Did you just now notice?”
“But you... Nevermind.”
Scootaloo stomped angrily down the street away from the park. It seemed like everywhere she turned there was somepony with their family. Wasn’t there anypony else in Ponyville without a sister?
As if in answer, somepony slammed into her at full speed.
“Ow,” Scootaloo moaned in a heap half a dozen feet from where she started.
“Sorry about that,” a familiar voice said. A hoof wrapped around her and pulled her up.
Scootaloo stood and stretched her wings. Everything seemed to be fine, so she turned to the pony that had crashed into her. “Hi Rainbow Dash. It’s fine.”
“Great,” Dash replied. “Lucky too, you’re just the pony I was looking for.”
“I am?” Scootaloo asked with a double take. Rainbow Dash had been looking for her? A smile slowly spread across her face.
“Yeah. You’re by yourself today, right?”
And the smile was gone. “Yeah. Stupid Sisterhooves Social.”
“I hear ya. I’ve been working on this awesome new trick, but Rarity and Applejack are both gone all day. Pinkie’s with her sisters, Twilight’s working on some report for the Princess, and Fluttershy is taking care of sick hamsters.”
“I’m sorry?” Scootaloo said, not sure what the problem was.
“Well, you can’t perfect a new trick without a cheering section,” Dash said as though it should be obvious.
“Of course not.”
“So what do you say?”
“Uh, what do I say to what?” Scootaloo asked.
Dash rolled her eyes. “Dense much? Do you want to hang out while I practice my new trick? Maybe I could show you a couple tricks I learned when I was your age.”
Scootaloo’s eyes lit up as she stood a bit straighter. “You want me to hang out with you? You want to show me some tricks?”
Dash shrugged. “Unless you have someplace else to be.”
“Are you kidding? I’d love to!” Scootaloo practically bounced in excitement, smiling from ear to ear.
“Great, come on,” Dash said, flapping her wings and smoothly taking to the sky.
And the smile was gone. Again.
It took Dash a few seconds to notice Scootaloo hadn’t followed. She doubled back and hovered over her. “Are you coming?”
“I remembered something else I had to do,” Scootaloo mumbled before turning and starting away. Dash watched for a few seconds and opened her mouth, but Scootaloo broke into a run before she could say anything.
“Huh, I wonder what that was about.” With a shrug, Rainbow Dash took off, resigned to practice her trick alone.
Scootaloo finally came to a stop just outside of Ponyville. She’d been fighting back tears the entire way, but they finally came. It was just like her nightmares, watching Dash fly away and not being able to follow. She just couldn’t bring herself to admit to her idol that she couldn’t fly. What would Dash think of her?
She rested her head on her forlegs as the tears rolled down her face. She hated crying. Bullies at the orphanage would always make fun of her for crying, but sometimes she just couldn’t stop herself. The best she could do is hide where nopony would see her.
She jumped in surprise when somepony lightly touched a hoof to her back. She tried to subtly wipe her tears before looking back.
Dash smiled at her awkwardly. “Uh, hey pipsqueak. You want to talk about it?”
Scootaloo struggled to find something to say before finally shaking her head.
“Okay,” Dash said, taking a few steps back. She looked back to town, hesitated, and then sat down.
Scootaloo buried her head in her hooves, too embarrassed to even leave.
The two of them sat awkwardly in silence for almost an hour before Scootaloo mumbled something Dash couldn’t quite make out.
“Uh, could you say that again?”
She looked up at her idol. “I... I can’t fly.” She winced, waiting for the inevitable gales of laughter.
“Oh,” Dash said, frown deepening. “Didn’t your parents ever teach you?” Scootaloo’s teared up again and she looked away. “Oh, right. Well, come on. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
“I’ll admit, you’re a little behind, but with the fastest filly flier in all of Equestria as your teacher, you’ll catch up in no time.”
“With the... you mean...” Scootaloo pushed herself up and looked at Rainbow Dash, barely daring to believe what she’d heard.
Dash pulled Scootaloo into a one legged hug. “What were you expecting? Element of Loyalty, remember? I’d never leave a friend in need.”
Scootaloo returned the hug, leaning her head against Dash. “Thanks, Rainbow Dash.”