“Alright Crusaders!” Scootaloo yelled to her friends, “Today we’re going to try something different.”
“Different how?” Sweetie Belle sounded unsure.
“Different because we’re not gonna just run headfirst into whatever we come up with. Today, we’re gonna actually listen to an expert!”
The other two stared in shock. To actually listen to somepony? They had never done that, or at least not well enough for it to be worth their while.
“Well who’re we gunna list’n to?” Apple Bloom asked.
“Today, we’re going to try to become…” Scootaloo paused for effect, “CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS, ANIMAL FEEDERS!”
The three fillies were at Fluttershy’s house. For the first time in her life, Scootaloo had been able to invite her friends over, instead of it being the other way around, and while Fluttershy’s house wasn’t ‘technically’ her home, it still felt like it.
“Yes Apple Bloom?”
“It’s the middle of winter.” Apple Bloom said in a flat voice, “What animals are we gunna feed?”
“That’s a good question, Bloom! And I…. don’t… have an answer…”
Apple Bloom facehoofed, Sweetie Belle shivered. They were standing knee deep in snow. Sweetie Belle had a designer scarf from her sister, and some boots. Apple Bloom had a knit cap made by her sister, and some boots as well. Scootaloo had her CMC cape.
“Maybe Fluttershy has some animals inside?” Sweetie asked, obviously wanting to get out of the cold.
“No, none other than Angel.”
The three foals looked down. They had apparently come all this way for nothing.
“Ah guess we’ll just have’ta find somethin’ else.” Apple Bloom shrugged.
Sweetie Belle threw another glance at the cottage, “Maybe we could warm up inside first?”
Fluttershy was inside, baking so as to keep the house warmer. She sat in the living room, curled up next to Angel, reading a book while the cookies baked in the kitchen, giving warm, delicious smells. She looked up as the shivering fillies made their way through the door, first Sweetie Belle, then Apple Bloom, and finally Scootaloo.
She gasped upon seeing the poor orange filly with so little to keep her warm.
“Oh Scootaloo! A-are you alright? I mean… aren’t you cold in just…”
Scootaloo looked embarrassed, “N-no I’m f-fine.” Her teeth chattered a little bit with the cold.
Fluttershy looked like she was about to say something else when she was interrupted by a squeaky voice proclaiming, “I SMELL COOKIES!”
All the ponies in the room, save Sweetie Belle from whom the noise had originated, jumped in surprise.
“Oh, sorry. Too loud?”
The others nodded.
It took Fluttershy a moment to regain her composure before being able to speak again.
“Yes, there’s cookies baking right now…” As she said this a timer from the other room dinged. The fillies all brightened.
“Does that mean?”
“Um, that was the timer for-“ Fluttershy stopped when she realized that nopony else was in the room anymore. The fillies had all dashed into the kitchen and stared eagerly at the oven. Fluttershy followed in a much slower manner.
“Can we have some?!?! Please please please!” the girls all cried in unison.
“Okay,” Fluttershy said as the hot tray was pulled from the oven and replaced with a much cooler one covered in balls of uncooked dough, “But just-” She was cut off for the second time when she saw at least ten of the cookies had already found their way into the filly’s mouths or onto the table to be eaten next.
Fluttershy sighed “-Two each…” she finished before placing the now half-empty tray onto the counter.
“Sorry Fluttershy,” The obviously not sorry fillies said in unison once again.
The group ate cookies and talked for a while. Subjects came and went. They talked of winter, favorite types of cookies, cutie marks, and how much they were looking forward to spring among other things. When the subject turned to spring, somepony mentioned the talent show.
“We’ve gotta do better next year.” Apple Bloom said.
“Yeah,” squeaked Sweetie Belle, “we need to… to… what’s the word?”
“Yeah that. We need to redeem ourselves.”
“I thought you girls did okay.” chimed Fluttershy, now nibbling on a cookie of her own.
“Puh-leeze.” Scootaloo scoffed, “The stage fell apart! I mean sure we got medals, but everything collapsed!” She stomped her hoof on the table for emphasis.
“What we need ta’ do is think up a better act. It’s obvious that rock opera isn’t what the public wants ta’ see.” Apple Bloom thought out loud.
“We could… do comedy?” Sweetie Belle suggested.
“Nah… Maybe I could show you guys how to ride a scooter!”
“Nuh-uh! Remember last time?”
The two non-pegasus ponies shivered at the memories of bruises and scraped knees.
“Yeah… I don’t think scootering is right for us.” Sweetie Belle said.
“Well…” Fluttershy began, “Why don’t you do one of your dance routines Scootaloo?”
“Yeah right. Scootaloo can’t dance.” Apple Bloom giggled at the though.
“Oh… yes she can. I saw her… she was good.” Fluttershy mumbled.
“Yeah, I can... kinda…”
Apple Bloom stared her friend down, “Prove it.”
Scootaloo met her friend's gaze and smirked.
For the second time, Scootaloo performed in Fluttershy's little cottage, this time with a larger audience. She enjoyed it. A lot.
The door to the library swung open, letting in snow and cold air along with a blue pony.
“Rainbow! What brings you to the library?” Twilight asked, sounding a little confused. Rainbow Dash was not the type that she’d take for a reader.
“I… I was wondering if you could help me with something…” the blue pegasus began.
“Well I’d be happy to, what is it?”
“You remember that time that you thought AJ and I were fighting and you started acting like a psychiatrist? Well I was wondering if you could… try that again.”
Rainbow Dash looked like she hadn’t slept in a while.
“Sure Rainbow,” Twilight said, magicing her hair up into a bun and floating some glasses and a clipboard out of nowhere, “Just take a seat on the couch.”
Dash did as she was told. “Okay, now what?”
“Now you talk to me. So, what seems to be bothering you?” Twilight was excited, she had read tons of books on psychology but hadn’t gotten a chance to test her skills.
“I haven’t been sleeping well…”
“Care to elaborate?”
“Care to what?”
Dash gave her a blank look.
“Go into greater detail.”
“Oh, uhh… well it started about a week ago.” Dash started recounting the events of that fateful day, starting from when she woke up.
“So once I got off of weather duty I went to practice my tricks, you know, like always, and I ran through my routine, like always, and the Squirt was there watching… just like always.”
“Oh, I see.”
“So anyway, at the end of my routine I decided to try to do the Sonic Rainboom over the forest. I thought that maybe I could use it to knock the leaves off of all the trees. Wouldn’t that be cool? So I flew towards the woods, and I guess Scootaloo followed… right as I was about to pull it off she yelled something to me… it distracted me… I bucked up the trick and when I landed I… well I kinda exploded…”
“Like boom?” Spike asked, he had been sorting books and listening to the story.
“No no no… I… I yelled at her, screamed my head off… I told her I didn’t want her around if she was just going to mess me up… I haven’t seen her since…”
Twilight’s eyes softened.
“There’s your problem.”
“You feel guilty. You’re afraid you hurt her.”
“But I’ve yelled at her before.”
“And it looks like your words stung more this time.” Twilight felt relieved that the problem hadn’t been something too serious. “Go find her. Apologize.”
Dash didn't want to admit it, but her friend was making sense. She sighed, “You’re right… I need to… what’s a big word for saying sorry?”
“Yeah, I need to do that.”
Dash thanked her psychiatrist and left the library feeling slightly better. She knew what she needed to do now.
“Now where is that little squirt?”
Rainbow Dash took off. She wasn’t sure what exactly she was looking for. She didn’t know where Scootaloo lived, or what she did in the day really. All she really knew about the filly was that she liked to watch Dash do her tricks.
Dash scanned the town below her, looking for any sign of the telltale purple on orange that would signal the filly’s presence.
Dash went home disappointed. She had tried everything. She had done tricks, asked around, done more tricks, checked every corner of Ponyville and she still didn’t find the filly.
“…Maybe I scared her away…” she mumbled, guilt beginning to well up inside her worse than before, "Maybe she thinks I hate her..."
Dash’s night was sleepless once again.
Once more, thanks go out to my editor, Chocolateunicorn, for seeing the things I wouldn't have seen in a million years.