“So don't be afraid to let them show.
Your true colors, true colors, are beautiful
Like a rainbow.”
--Cyndi Lauper, “True Colors”
Outside a small, cozy cottage located right in the center of Ponyville stood four ponies, three young mares and a filly. The cottage was the very picture of friendliness, with well-tended rose bushes along the exterior and a bright, cheery welcome mat set out before the front door. But to the filly, the house might as well have been the gloomiest, creepiest dungeon in all of Equestria.
“I don’t know about this,” began Scootaloo, frowning darkly.
Rainbow Dash gave the filly a rough pat on the head. “Well, it’s a good thing nopony asked you, then, isn’t it?”
“But they’re just so weird!”
“Hey, now! That ain’t polite.” Applejack shot a disapproving glare in Scootaloo’s general direction, the kind of look only an older sister could bestow. “Besides, they’re a perfectly nice couple.”
“Actually, kid’s got a point,” Dash muttered, squinting at the cottage door and rubbing her chin thoughtfully with a forehoof. “The way that unicorn is always sittin’ on park benches? Total freaky town, AJ. I mean, how does she even bend her legs like that?”
Applejack harrumphed. “Rainbow Dash! You ain’t helpin’ here!”
It was at this point in the conversation that Pinkie Pie took a step forward and placed a hoof on the pegasus filly’s shoulder. Leaning down so that her mouth was right next to Scootaloo’s ear, she whispered, “Don’t listen to those two silly billies. Lyra and Bon Bon are both super awesome ponies, and you’re gonna like them lots.”
Scootaloo swallowed nervously. “Do you … do you Pinkie promise? That they’ll really like--uh, I mean, that I’ll like them.”
“Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.” Pinkie gave the young pegasus’ shoulder a quick squeeze before finally letting go. “And don’t worry, Loo-Loo. They’re gonna love you just as much as we do!”
Scootaloo smiled a bit despite herself. “Still hate that name. Just so you know.”
Pinkie just grinned back at her and, reaching out with a hoof, rapped sharply on the cottage door. Almost instanty, muffled, excited-sounding voices could be heard from inside the house, and a loud crash quickly followed. The three adults outside all traded puzzled looks among one another, while Scootaloo stood ramrod still. A few moments passed, and then the door flew open.
A turquoise unicorn and a cream-colored earth pony appeared in the doorway. A broad grin nearly split the unicorn’s face in two, while the earth pony’s smile was much smaller and seemed a bit uncertain.
“Howdy, Mrs. and Mrs. Heartstrings,” Applejack began in a friendly tone, touching a hoof to the brim of her hat in greeting.
The unicorn snorted, her eyes twinkling. “Mrs. Heartstrings? Oh goddess, no, Mrs. Heartstrings is my mother. Just call me Lyra, please.” She tilted her head and indicated the earth pony beside her. “And this amazing, beautiful lady right here is Bon Bon.”
The earth pony rolled her eyes, but a blush stole its way across her cheeks nonetheless. “Do yourselves a favor, and don’t listen to a word she says. I sure don’t.” Tentatively she looked down at Scootaloo and added, in a soft voice, “And you must be little Scootaloo.”
Scootaloo just stared. Only after Applejack gave her a none-too-subtle nudge did she remember herself and manage to stammer out, “Oh, uh, yeah. Scootaloo. That’s me.”
“Well, it’s good to meet ya, Scootaloo!” Still beaming, Lyra gave the filly a wink. “I gotta admit, I didn’t think the agency would be sending us a pegasus. But never fear, I have everything all planned out!”
Immediately Bon Bon frowned. “What do you mean, you have everything--”
“Hang gliders! That’s how we’re gonna teach you how to fly and stuff. Or maybe kite string. Or bungee cords. I haven’t quite decided yet.”
Scootaloo couldn’t stop the delighted grin from overtaking her face. It was right about then--as Bon Bon began protesting Lyra’s plans and Rainbow Dash stepped in with an offer to help with flying lessons, as Pinkie began babbling animatedly about her Pinkie flyer and Applejack tried in vain to shush the over-enthusiastic pink mare--that Scootaloo decided that maybe all of this would turn out okay. Maybe, just maybe, all of this could even end up being pretty cool.
At the very least, it shouldn’t be boring.
She was not going to cry.
No way, no how, not gonna happen. She was Pinkamena Diane Pie, conqueror of Nightmare Moon, defeater of Discord, inventor of the party cannon, and composer of more songs than any other pony in Ponyville--and she absolutely was not going to cry.
She made this decision as she walked away from Lyra and Bon Bon’s home at a surprisingly lethargic pace, with Rainbow Dash and Applejack flanking her on either side. Given that Dash and Applejack were two of the toughest, roughest ponies she knew, she redoubled her efforts to not give in to the tears that stung in her eyes or that choking feeling that tickled in her throat.
A tiny sniffle escaped the pink earth pony, nonetheless. Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes so hard that Pinkie was a bit worried the pegasus might actually sprain a facial muscle.
“She’s just living with Lyra and Bon Bon,” said Dash, with a dismissive snort. “She’s gonna be right down the street from Sugar Cube Corner. It’s not like she’s been banished to the moon or something.”
“I know that.” And she did know. She really, truly did. “But it won’t be the same.”
Applejack chuckled. “Nothin’ stays the same, sugar cube. Spring turns to summer, summer turns to fall. It’s just how the world works.”
“I just … I wish … if only I could have … “
Pinkie felt Applejack and Rainbow both lean against her, one on each side, their strength supporting her. A rush of gratitude overtook her, and Pinkie Pie allowed herself to close her eyes and just bask in the warmth and love of her two friends.
“Ya did the right thing, Pinkie.” Applejack’s voice was sympathetic and kind. “Besides, ain’t no way you coulda supported a filly on what you make from the bakery.”
Dash enthusiastically chimed in, too. “Yeah, totally! And Lyra and Bon Bon are both pretty cool ponies, so we know Scoots is in good hooves.”
“Oh, I’m not worried about that. Lyra and Bon Bon are the bestest. It’s just …”
Applejack leaned over and gave her a nuzzle. In a quiet voice, the farm pony said, “Ain’t no point in dwellin’ on what mighta been. Me and you, we both know that pretty well by now, I reckon. Gotta focus on what ya still do have and not on what ya lost.”
Pinkie nodded sadly. Applejack was right. Applejack was pretty much always right, really, which was kind of comforting and kind of annoying, both at once. But just because Applejack was right, it didn’t mean what she was suggesting was necessarily easy.
Pinkie’s thoughts were interrupted by a groan that originated from Rainbow Dash.
“Ugh, you two are seriously bumming me out here,” Dash groused, throwing in another eye roll for good measure. But even as she complained, a small smile played on her lips. “Enough of this! Let’s go to Sugar Cube Corner and see if the Cakes have made anything with those little rainbow sprinkles on ‘em.”
“Rainbow sprinkles?” Applejack raised an eyebrow.
“Heck, yeah!” Dash sighed dreamily. “Love those rainbow sprinkles ...”
As the three ponies began heading for the bakery, Pinkie felt herself cheering up a bit. She loved rainbow sprinkles almost as much as Dash did, after all, and she was spending the afternoon with two of the most awesome friends a pony ever had. Plus, they’d finally found a home for Scootaloo, a home right here in Ponyville, a home with nice ponies who’d look after her and love her and feed her. Pinkie Pie would have to be a very silly filly indeed to feel down in the dumps considering all the reasons she had to be happy.
Because, really, everything was turning out pretty okay.
A few weeks later, Scootaloo found herself standing outside the door to Sugar Cube Corner, awkwardly shuffling her hooves. The bakery shop had been closed for an entire twenty minutes, and yet she’d remained firmly rooted to the spot. The simple task of raising a hoof and knocking seemed utterly beyond her capabilities.
A soft huff came from her left. “Will ya just go on and knock already?” Applebloom urged, sounding annoyed and giving the pegasus a hard shove with her shoulder.
Scootaloo didn’t budge. “What if she doesn’t wanna see me?”
“She’s Pinkie Pie!” Over to the right, Sweetie Belle laughed. “She always wants to see everypony!”
That was undeniably true. But for some reason, Scootaloo didn’t seem to find it very reassuring. A small sigh escaped her.
“Oh, fer Celestia’s sake!” Applebloom took a step forward and, before Scootaloo could do anything to stop her, knocked loudly on the bakery door. “There. Now, was that so hard?”
Scootaloo glared at her earth pony friend, harder than she’d ever glared before in her entire life. Applebloom just grinned.
Meanwhile, from inside the shop rang out a familiar, perky voice: “Coming! Be there in three shakes of a dragon’s tail!”
Applebloom and Sweetie Belle exchanged highly satisfied looks with one another, while Scootaloo kept right on glaring. Then, Sweetie Belle leaned over and wrapped her legs around the irate pegasus, giving a gentle squeeze. “It’s gonna be fine, Scootaloo,” the unicorn murmured encouragingly, before letting go.
And with that, the two wingless members of the Cutie Mark Crusaders dashed off, just in time for the door to Sugar Cube Corner to swing wide open.
Pinkie Pie looked around for a moment before she seemed to finally catch sight of the pegasus filly standing a few feet away. The older pony’s eyes went wide in surprise, and Scootaloo felt her heart begin to sink. Maybe this hadn’t been such a good idea, after all.
“I can still come over, right?” Scootaloo blurted out, her tone apprehensive. “Even though I’m staying with Bon Bon and Lyra now?”
Pinkie smiled one of her huge, trademark smiles, but the smile looked a bit wobbly at the edges. “You’d better still come over, missy! Or else Gummy will be very, very upset with you!” She glanced away as she added, almost as an afterthought, “He misses you a lot, you know.”
Staring down at her hooves, Scootaloo whispered, “I miss Gummy, too.”
There was a long, uncomfortable silence--and then Scootaloo felt a foreleg grab around her neck and begin dragging her inside the bakery. She didn’t bother to resist as, well she knew, resistance was futile. Once upstairs, Pinkie Pie deposited her onto a chair in the apartment.
Pinkie suddenly cocked her head at the young filly. “Say, do you wanna help me plan my next party?”
“A party?” Scootaloo perked up a bit. In all the time she’d been spending with Pinkie over the last several months, for some reason she’d never been asked to help plan a party. “Is it gonna be a ‘just because’ party, or is it gonna be a party that’s for somepony?”
Please say it’s for Rainbow Dash, she added silently. Her heart soared with hope. Please say Rainbow Dash, please say Rainbow Dash, please say Rainbow Dash ...
“It’s for Applejack! Next week is her birthday.” Pinkie’s eyes grew very thoughtful, almost serious. “I’m gonna need a lot of help, because this has gotta be the biggest and bestest party I’ve ever thrown, Loo-Loo. Biggest and bestest, both.”
Pinkie laughed, a great big laugh from the belly, and the laugh echoed happily throughout the entire room. “Well, duh. Because I promised!”
Author’s Notes: Yet again, I must give due credit to the Beloved Spouse. While I knew that I wanted somepony other than Pinkie to be the one to adopt Scootaloo, I couldn’t decide who. It was my spouse who suggested Lyra and Bon Bon.
As always, thank you for reading.