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by D. G. D. Davidson
“Oh no she didn’t!” Scootaloo yelled.
The front wheel of the float—the float she and her friends had spent months building—crashed to the ground. The forks groaned and then snapped. The float fell forward with a crunch, tumbled out the barn door, rolled down the slope, and smashed to pieces at the bottom of the hill.
Scootaloo felt her eyes moisten, but she swallowed the urge to cry and glared daggers at Babs Seed, who stood beside the wheel she’d kicked with her mouth hanging open.
Babs snapped her mouth shut, recovered her composure, blew her forelock out of her face, and sneered. “Looks like somepony’s pumpkin just got squashed.”
Toothy grins on their faces, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon looked at each other and giggled.
Apple Bloom yelled, “When I tell Applejack—”
“You gonna tell Applejack what?” said Babs, getting in her face.
“Uh,” Apple Bloom said, “well, y’know, uh—”
“What’re you, a snitch?”
“C’mon Babs,” said Diamond Tiara. “You should hang with us—you know, the cool ponies. Not these babies.”
Their noses in the air, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon walked out, Babs by their side. Babs shot one last triumphant look over her shoulder before she disappeared down the hill.
The Crusaders stood silent for a moment, stunned.
“What just happened?” Apple Bloom asked.
Glaring at the ground, Scootaloo chewed her lip before answering, “I think Babs just went to the dark side.”
“We have to tell Applejack,” said Sweetie Belle.
“No!” cried Apple Bloom. “We’re not snitches.”
Scootaloo crossed her forelimbs and sat down. “And we’re not babies.”
“Then what do we do?” Sweetie asked.
Scootaloo chewed her lip for another minute before she stood and walked out. Her friends followed close behind.
When she reached the remains of the float, Scootaloo placed a hoof under a fold of orange canvas and lifted it, examining the damage. The float was ruined. They would have to rebuild it from scratch.
“We get even,” Scootaloo said.
Scootaloo was what the ponies called a knocker.
Her parents had died in a weather accident when she was small. Had she lived in a large city like Fillydelphia or Baltimare, she would have gone to an orphanage, but since she lived in a small, close-knit village, she instead became the ward of the entire town: she could knock on anypony’s door and expect food and lodging for at least a day. She never went hungry, and she never spent a night without a roof over her head, but she had no home, no stability, and no parents to rear her up. At the moment, she lived with Sweetie Belle, whose dam and sire were talking seriously about taking her in permanently.
According to the rules of hospitality, however, Rainbow Dash owed her the most, since her parents had died making weather and Rainbow was the weather manager. But Scootaloo had never had the guts to ask Rainbow for any special favors.
“Hey, Rainbow Dash.” Scootaloo peered up at the cloud on which Rainbow Dash was napping. She flapped her wings as hard as she could, and she rose about thirty hands from the ground before she sank back down. She couldn’t quite fly yet. Maybe someday.
She cleared her throat and spoke again. “Hey! Rainbow Dash!”
Rainbow started, sat up, and turned over, flopping onto her belly and dangling one hoof over the edge of the cloud. “Oh, hey, squirt. What’s up?”
Scootaloo bit her lip and kicked at the ground. “I wanna ask you a favor—”
“You need a place to stay?” Rainbow yawned and stretched. “I got plenty o’ room in the ol’ cloud palace.”
Scootaloo’s cheeks turned warm. The thought of rooming at Rainbow’s place almost made her forget her real objective. “Actually, I wanted to ask, well—”
Rainbow laughed. “Still lookin’ for your special talent? The trick is to do as many things as possible in the shortest—”
“No! I mean, not exactly. You know karate, right? Apple Bloom said you know karate.”
Rainbow scratched her head. “Karate? Yeah, I could see that. We could start there if you like.”
“I don’t mean as my special talent—well, it’d be great if it was, but I mean, can you teach me?”
Rainbow spread her wings, dove off the cloud, and lowered herself to the ground. “Hmm, I never really had a student, and I’m a bit out of practice, but”—she turned her head and popped her neck—“I can still kick hindquarters when I gotta. Okay, squirt. Meet me at the Ponyville dojo in an hour.”
“Ya already got some pretty good moves, squirt.”
Clad in a gi, Scootaloo took out her frustrations by rapidly kicking a makiwara while Rainbow Dash, sunglasses perched on her muzzle, watched with her forelimbs crossed.
“Loosen up your shoulders,” Rainbow said. “Knees supple, fetlocks straight. When you kick with a foreleg, the toe of your hoof should form a straight line with your cannon . . . yeah, that’s it. Your hoof has four striking surfaces—the toe, the quarter, the heel, and the bulb. Now, first . . .”
Scootaloo felt her lips part in a grin as she continued kicking. Sweat trickled down her face from under her forelock. She could get into this. Rearing, she slammed the makiwara as hard as she could with both forelegs, splintering the board near its base. Scootaloo spun and, with a roundhouse kick, broke the board in half and sent the shattered pieces clattering against the wall.
Rainbow Dash slid her sunglasses down her nose and peered over them. “Maybe we should try the kicking ball.”
Three hours later, as the sun was setting, Scootaloo staggered out of the dojo, her knees wobbling. Rainbow Dash followed after.
“Yeah, I’ve never taught anypony this before,” Rainbow said, “and it’s kinda been a while. You’re strong enough, and your coordination’s pretty good, but maybe we should slow it down, start with some stretching—”
Scootaloo fought to catch her breath. “No, you’ve been real helpful, Rainbow Dash. I learned a lot.”
Rainbow tousled Scootaloo’s mane. “You okay for tonight?”
Scootaloo thought about saying no, but then remembered that all her things were still in Sweetie Belle’s room. She remembered, too, that she had an off-chance of being adopted. “Yeah, I’m okay for tonight. I’m staying with Magnum and Garden Wishes.”
“Okay, squirt. Catch ya later.” After tousling Scootaloo’s mane one last time, Rainbow spread her wings, jumped, and leapt into the purple sky.
Scootaloo dragged herself to the lake on Ponyville’s north end, slumped against a cottage door, and did the one thing she was good at—knocking.
Garden Wishes, clad in a frumpy sweater and Capri pants, opened the door and gave her a wide smile. “Good evening, Scootaloo. My, you’re getting in late.”
“Sorry, Mrs. Wishes.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it, dear. We’re just sitting down to dinner. Come on in.”
As Scootaloo walked into the warm interior, a strong smell met her nose, like something burnt.
Magnum and Sweetie Belle sat at the dining room table. Sweetie waved. “It was my turn to cook tonight!” she squeaked.
Scootaloo managed a weak smile.
After struggling through a meal of black ash, Scootaloo did her homework and then followed Sweetie upstairs where they climbed together into the bed. Garden Wishes came in, pulled the quilt up under their chins, pecked both their foreheads, and wished them good night. Sweetie blew the fireflies out of the bedside lamp, and the room faded into darkness. The night had grown cool, but the blankets were warm. Harvest Day was only a few days away; then it would be time for the Running of the Leaves, and after that the ponies would work together to bring in winter.
Scootaloo listened to the soothing, rhythmic creak of the windmill behind the house and to Sweetie Belle’s steady breathing.
“Scootaloo?” Sweetie whispered.
“Obviously, since I answered you.”
The windmill continued its steady turning, its arms casting a dim shadow through the window and across the bedspread.
“Is there something you wanted, Sweetie Belle?”
“Huh? Oh, right. Do you think you’ll be able to stay?”
“I dunno. It’s really up to your parents.”
“Where’ll you go if they say no?”
Scootaloo turned her back on Sweetie and stared at the windmill silhouetted in the moonlight. “Somewhere else, I guess. I always got somewhere to go.”
She heard Sweetie tucking herself deeper under the covers. “I’d like you to stay,” Sweetie whispered, and then she yawned. Soon, she was snoring faintly.
Scootaloo continued to gaze out the window. She liked the warm bed, the pretty decorations on the walls, the chest full of toys. She liked being with Sweetie Belle, and she liked it that Garden Wishes tucked them in at night.
If she was to have any chance of keeping a home like this, the best thing to do would be to keep her head down, keep her muzzle clean, and play straight, at least for a week or two.
But then she remembered Babs breaking the parade float and smugly trotting off with Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, and she thought about Apple Bloom having to share a room with that jerk. She grit her teeth and clenched the sheets in her fetlocks.
If Babs wanted to be a bully, Scootaloo would learn to bully right back.
“Okay, squirt,” Rainbow Dash said, pacing back and forth. She had her ball cap and whistle on today to show she meant business. “The basic foreleg attacks are the toe straight kick, the spear-hoof kick, the vertical-hoof kick, the rising kick, the roundhouse foreleg kick, the close kick, double hoof kick, u-kick, hook kick—”
Rainbow paused. “Yeah, squirt?”
Scootaloo shifted back and forth between her hooves. “What would you do, I mean hypothetically . . .”
She swallowed, stared at the ground for a moment, and then blurted, “What would you do if you were gettin’ bullied?”
Rainbow laughed. “Nopony had the guts to bully me in school.”
Scootaloo’s ears drooped. “Oh.”
Rainbow flopped down beside her and threw a forelimb over her shoulders. “About when I was your age, though, there was a couple o’ colts, real punks, who used to pick on Fluttershy.”
“I think she told us about that—”
“Yeah, we were in flight school together. Anyway, when I saw these guys messin’ with ‘er, I showed ‘em who was boss—I challenged ‘em to a flyin’ race an’ whooped ‘em.”
Scootaloo’s ears drooped again. “Oh.” She flapped her tiny wings. “But I can’t really fly. Not very well—”
Rainbow stood, reared onto her hind legs, and kicked the air with her front hooves. “Sometimes, though, somethin’ like that won’t work. Sometimes, ya just gotta clobber ‘em. The trick is knowin’ when.”
Scootaloo looked up. “It’s okay to fight sometimes?”
Rainbow dropped to all fours. “Yeah. Sure. Sometimes. When the time’s right.”
“How do you know when the time’s right?”
“You just do. That’s part o’ karate, knowin’ when the time is right.”
Scootaloo smiled faintly. “So what was that about, um, hook kicks?”
A contented smile on her face as usual, Cheerilee sashayed across the front of the classroom. “All right, everypony, we have a guest joining us in class for the next couple of weeks—from Manehatten—and I want you all to make her feel welcome! Come right up here and introduce yourself.”
Babs Seed walked to the front of the room, her tail curved across her blank hip. She faced the class, blew her forelock out of her eyes, and said, “How ya doin’?”
The students released a subdued sound of wonder when they heard her thick Bronclyn accent.
“Tell them your name, dear,” Cheerilee said.
“Babs. Babs Seed.” Without further ado, she walked toward the desks.
“Oh my,” Cheerilee said. “Looks like we don’t have any spare seats at the moment. Let me get you—”
Babs marched straight to Apple Bloom’s desk and leaned on it.
“Move it, crybaby,” Babs said.
Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara tittered. Scootaloo rose halfway out of her chair.
Cheerilee clamped a fetlock around one of Babs’s ears. “That’s not how we talk in my classroom, young lady. We’ll get you a desk, and then perhaps you’d like to sit right up here in the front next to me.”
Scootaloo lowered herself back into her seat. Sweetie Belle giggled nervously. Apple Bloom looked to be on the verge of tears, but so did Babs when Truffle Shuffle, who was teacher’s aide for the year, huffed and puffed as he dragged a desk into the classroom and set it next to Cheerilee’s.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders spent a week trying and failing to avoid Babs. With each day, Scootaloo’s annoyance grew, and she spent every evening blowing off steam in the dojo with Rainbow Dash.
Wherever the Crusaders went, Babs threw food at them, tripped them, and broke their things, all while Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon looked on and laughed.
Then the day came when they walked to their tree house and found Babs leaning on the railing.
“Hey,” Babs yelled, “what’re ya doin’ at my clubhouse?”
Scootaloo’s face burned. She flapped into the air and shouted, “Your clubhouse? This is our clubhouse!”
Babs blew her forelock out of her face. “Well, it was yours, and now it’s mine.”
“And mine,” Silver Spoon said, walking around the porch from the tree house’s back.
“And mine,” said Diamond Tiara, walking in from the other side.
“That’s not fair, Babs,” said Apple Bloom. “We never did anything to you.”
“And let’s keep it that way,” said Babs. “Now scram, crybabies.” She kicked the staircase, breaking it so it folded up like a drawbridge.
The bullies laughed as they walked into the tree house. Sweetie Belle burst into tears.
Scootaloo decided that was the last straw.
The Crusaders gathered together in Sweetie’s room. Sweetie sobbed on the bed.
“That Babs has really gone too far this time,” muttered Apple Bloom as she paced.
“Kicked out of our own clubhouse,” grumbled Scootaloo.
“And out of my own bed!” Apple Bloom cried.
Scootaloo recoiled. “Seriously?”
“We have to tell Applejack,” said Sweetie.
“No,” said Scootaloo, leaning on the windowsill and staring at the windmill. “We need to fight back.”
“How?” Sweetie asked.
“By fighting,” Scootaloo answered. “Sometimes, ya just gotta clobber ‘em. The trick is knowing when. Well, I say it’s when. It’s past when.”
“But, Scootaloo,” said Apple Bloom, “Applejack says—”
“Forget what Applejack says. She hasn’t helped us with Babs, has she?”
“That’s cuz we haven’t told her,” said Sweetie.
Scootaloo lowered her front hooves back to the floor. “We haven’t even tried fighting. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are pushovers, and the three of us could take Babs.”
Sweetie and Apple Bloom gave each other uneasy looks.
“Well, I could take Babs. And if I have to, I’ll take her myself. I’ll take all three of ‘em. Are you with me or not?”
Apple Bloom kicked at the rug. “We’re with you, Scootaloo. I guess.”
When the Cutie Mark Crusaders next approached their tree house, they could hear the sound of tinkling glass and cracking wood coming from inside. Babs Seed, Diamond Tiara, and Silver Spoon were trashing the place.
Scootaloo glanced at Sweetie Belle. Tears were running from her eyes again.
“We worked so hard to fix it up,” Apple Bloom whispered. “That was my big sister’s clubhouse ‘fore it was ours, and now they’re—”
“Are you still with me?” Scootaloo asked.
Sweetie was shrill. “I’m so mad right now!” A small burst of green sparks fell from her horn.
“We’re with you,” said Apple Bloom.
Scootaloo tilted her head and popped her neck. “Hey, Babs!” she shouted.
The sound of breaking stopped. The door slammed open and Babs Seed walked onto the balcony, blowing her forelock out of her eyes.
“Come down here and fight me like a mare,” Scootaloo said.
Babs laughed. “Why don’cha come up here, crybaby? Whatsamatta? Can’t fly?”
Scootaloo clenched her teeth.
Babs called over her shoulder. “Hey, Diamond, Silver, ya know dis pegasus can’t fly?”
Diamond Tiara stuck her head out of the door and snickered. “Oh, she’s never been able to fly, Babs. Look at her puny wings.”
“Can’t fly,” Babs said, “and too afraid to fight. I guess that makes you a . . . a chicken, don’ it?”
Scootaloo’s face burned. She opened her wings and flapped hard. “Nopony, and I mean nopony, calls me a chicken!”
She rose off the ground—first ten hands, then twenty, then thirty. She thought she was about to fall, but that only made her angrier, so she put on an extra burst and rose still higher. In a moment, she was level with the balcony.
Babs’s smug expression collapsed. She took a step back.
Gingerly, Scootaloo stretched out her forelegs, leaned forward, and flew. Soon, the balcony railing was within her grasp. She curved her fetlocks over it, pulled her hind hooves onto it, closed her tired wings, and took a few deep breaths, basking in her triumph.
Babs’s smug smile returned. “Sorry, but visitors ain’t welcome. Watch da first step—it’s a doozie.” She reared and raised her front legs.
Scootaloo jumped and wrapped her forelegs around Bab’s shoulders, slamming her own face against Babs’s breast in the process. Babs staggered, but Scootaloo’s light frame hadn’t been enough to arrest her momentum. Babs fell forward, and Scootaloo’s croup crashed into the railing. With a creak and then an earsplitting crack, the balustrade gave way and the two ponies plummeted toward the grass.
Without thinking, Scootaloo snapped her left wing down tight and opened her right wide. They spun, and with a sound like a bag of rocks hitting concrete, Babs’s back struck the ground. Scootaloo landed hard on Babs’s belly.
Babs released a quick, low gasp, indicating she’d lost her wind. Scootaloo rolled off of her, spun, and delivered a sweeping kick to the side of her head.
Babs found her feet. Her knees shook, and tears ran down her face, mixed with a trickle of blood.
“Who’s the crybaby now?” Scootaloo asked.
Sweetie Belle dove at Scootaloo’s feet. “Scootaloo, stop! Stop, please!”
“I’m not gonna stop till I’m finished!”
When Babs flared her nostrils, snorted, ducked her head, and charged, Scootaloo tried to meet her with a roundhouse kick, but was too slow. She choked and almost swallowed her tongue when Babs’s forehead caught her in the neck and slammed her backwards into a tree.
Although Babs was only a little larger than Scootaloo, as an earth pony, she weighed almost twice as much. Wrapping her forelegs around Scootaloo’s barrel, she threw her full weight onto Scootaloo’s back and pushed her muzzle into the dirt.
“Say uncle!” Babs shouted. “Say uncle!” Babs yanked Scootaloo’s mane, pulling her head up.
Scootaloo spat out a chunk of sod. “Cover you,” she rasped.
Sweetie and Apple Bloom gaped.
Babs ground Scootaloo’s nose into the dirt again. “Not what I wanna hear, crybaby. One more time. Let’s hear ya whinny for your dam!”
“My dam is dead, you haridelle!”
Finding a purchase with her hind hooves, Scootaloo arched her back and knocked Babs off. Then she turned on her and kicked her rapidly and repeatedly in the stomach.
Babs managed to escape Scootaloo just long enough to gasp one word—“Help!”
Up on the balcony, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, plainly terrified, glanced at each other and then ran to the tree house’s ruined stairs, but the stairs cracked under their weight and dropped them roughly to the ground.
Scootaloo glanced at Sweetie and Apple Bloom, who stood frozen with looks of horror on their faces. “You take those two!"
The brief distraction was enough to give the advantage back to Babs. She got behind Scootaloo, wrapped one leg around her neck, and with the other grabbed one of Scootaloo’s own hooves and slapped it against Scootaloo’s face.
“Why ya hittin’ yourself?” said Babs. “Why ya hittin’ yourself?”
Scootaloo twisted her hips, threw a rear leg back and up, and kicked Babs in the side of the head. Once she was free, Scootaloo fell on all fours and bucked, striking Babs in the chest with both rear hooves. Babs hit the tree so hard that apples and leaves tumbled out of it in a torrent.
Scootaloo took a moment to check if her friends needed help. Apple Bloom, though she looked reluctant, had pinned Diamond Tiara to the ground and now smeared mud in her hair while Diamond Tiara shrieked. Sweetie Belle and Silver Spoon simply stood opposite each other, toed the ground, and occasionally glanced awkwardly into each other’s eyes.
“C’mon, Sweetie Belle!” yelled Scootaloo.
Sweetie poked at the ground for a moment more, but then finally squeezed her eyes shut and reached out with a hoof, knocking Silver Spoon’s glasses from her face.
Silver Spoon burst into tears and galloped away, sobbing.
Babs grabbed Scootaloo from behind. “Maybe you’d like to be a chicken permanently,” she hissed. Scootaloo felt a fetlock clamp over her right wing.
“No!” Scootaloo gasped. “No!”
A searing pain tore across her side. She arched her back, and her mouth fell open in a silent groan. Tears again threatened to run from her eyes, but she held them at bay. She kicked backwards, catching Babs in the udders and doubling her over.
Scootaloo’s right wing hung limp. When she tried to fold it in, it responded with a fresh burst of pain, but didn’t move.
She jumped on Babs and pressed her front hooves into her jugular groove, choking her. Babs tried to kick Scootaloo off, but Scootaloo held tight. Babs’s face turned blue.
Apple Bloom was at her shoulder then, pawing and streaking mud into her coat. “Let her go, Scootaloo! Let her go!”
Scootaloo didn’t let go. She pressed harder. Babs’s face went from blue to purple.
“Please!” Apple Bloom cried. “Don’t kill my cousin!”
With a violet flash, Babs disappeared, and Scootaloo fell hard against the ground. Then, in another violet flash, everything disappeared.
It came back in an instant. Woozy, Scootaloo took a moment to realize she was hanging upside down, suspended by a levitation spell wrapped around her tail, and looking into the stern face of Twilight Sparkle. Near Twilight’s hooves stood Silver Spoon, breathing hard, shaking, and still crying.
“You’ve got some explaining to do,” Twilight said.
Not long after, Doctor Stable at Ponyville Hospital was setting her wing.
“Bed rest,” he said to Twilight, who stood in the doorway. “She’ll be fine in a few days. But as for that earth filly”—he frowned and shook his head—“she’ll be in here for a week.”
Scootaloo had the room to herself. They had placed Babs somewhere else. Twilight had marched Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle home to their families, so Scootaloo was alone. She lay in the bed and counted cracks in the ceiling.
After a few hours, Rainbow Dash walked in and sat next to her. Scootaloo looked at her, but Rainbow kept her eyes on the floor. A few minutes passed.
“Scootaloo,” Rainbow said quietly, “did you ask me to teach you to fight just so you could beat up another filly?”
“You don’t understand. She was—”
Scootaloo bit her lip. “Yes.”
Rainbow, still watching the floor, shook her head in two sharp jerks. “That’s not cool, Scoots.”
Rainbow leaned forward and nearly pressed her nose against Scootaloo’s. “Did you understand what I taught you? Didn’t you understand how easy it is to hurt somepony?”
“Then why did you do it?”
“She was a bully!”
“So are you, Scootaloo!” The words hung in the air for a minute.
Rainbow pulled her face back. “Do you know why I defended Fluttershy when those guys were pickin’ on her? I’d never even met her. I only knew her name.”
“Rainbow Dash, you have to under—”
“Ask me why.”
“Because there’s some stuff in this world I really, really hate.” Rainbow shifted and tapped a rear hoof on the floor. “I hate losing, I hate whining, and I hate bullies. You wanna pick on somepony, pick on somepony bigger’n you.”
“Babs is bigger than me.”
“Did she hit you?”
Scootaloo paused. “No. Well, almost.” She slumped. “I hit her first.”
“And did you have to choke her half to death?”
Scootaloo sank lower. “No.”
“Couldn’t you talk to Applejack? Couldn’t you talk to Magnum or Garden Wishes?”
“What about me? You wanted me to be your ‘sensei,’ didn’t you? Why didn’t you tell me?”
Scootaloo tried to answer, but her voice cracked, so she swallowed and tried again.
“I didn’t want you to think I was weak.”
The anger melted from Rainbow Dash’s face. She sat back on her haunches and sighed. “Yeah. I know how that goes. But my friends have taught me that sometimes you gotta talk about your problems. Ya can’t just start swingin’ your hooves.”
“You said I’d know when.”
“This wasn’t when, kid. When is when you’re surrounded by shapeshifting monsters tryin’ to take over Canterlot. That kinda thing. Maybe I shoulda been more clear about that.”
“Does this mean you won’t teach me anymore?”
“I dunno, squirt. We’ll talk about it again when you’re better.” Rainbow Dash stood and reached out a hoof to tousle Scootaloo’s mane, but paused and dropped the hoof back to the floor. With an embarrassed half-smile, she left.
Scootaloo dozed. When she woke again, the sun was down and the first stars were shining through the window. She could hear arguing in the hall. Though it hurt, she eased herself out of the bed, limped toward the door, and laid one ear against it. She could make out Magnum and Garden Wishes’ voices.
“She was under our roof at the time, so she’s our responsibility,” Magnum was saying. “But let’s have her bag packed for as soon as she’s healed up.”
“Honey,” Garden Wishes said, “we can’t just abandon a poor girl who—”
“Who’s abandoning? She’ll always have a place to stay. It just shouldn’t be our place.”
“But Sweetie was set on it.”
“That’s what I’m worried about.”
“Do you think she’s a good influence on our daughter? Before today, Sweetie wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
“They’re kids. They get in scrapes sometimes.”
“This wasn’t just a scrape and you know it. Did you see what she did to that Manehatten girl? She looked bad—really bad. Applejack’s fit to be tied. Look, if Scoots were ours, I’d say we could work through this. I’d be there for her no matter what. But she’s not ours. We’ve got to think about our own daughter.”
There was a pause. When Garden Wishes spoke again, her voice was so soft that Scootaloo could barely hear. “But who’s going to think about Scootaloo? Can’t she have a place to call home?”
“Sure,” Magnum said. “She can have anyplace. As long as it’s someplace else.”
Scootaloo closed her eyes and felt her shoulders tremble. She swallowed. Though she tried to hold the tears back, they ran down her cheeks and pattered softly on the floor.
As quietly as she could, she slipped back into the bed. She pulled the sheet over her face and, for several hours before she fell asleep, thought about opportunities lost.