The air hung thick between Scootaloo and her father as they stood in the silence of the living room. In his eyes she saw the pain of a memory long repressed. He took a slow breath and held it before looking aside to release it.
“Follow me.” His words were slow and hollow. He lead her through the hallway and to her room, where he motioned toward her bed. She complied, looking up at him with head cocked, curious what he would say.
“Wait here.” he said, then left for his room across the hall. He returned with a small black binder, set it beside her, and sat by the bedside. There was an air of mourning to his face as he looked at the binder.
“A long time ago, way before you were born, I used to live in Manehattan. My parents were wealthy businessponies.” He opened the binder to the first page, where three ponies gazed up at Scootaloo. An orange stallion in the photo wore a long, flowing robe of red silk. His mane was slicked back, complementing the trim, level expression he wore. A mare stood beside him, her purple hair done up in curls and braids that made Scootaloo think of Rarity. Her head leaned back and aside, jet-black eyes half-lidded and brow raised haughtily.
“Yes, those are my parents. And that’s me.” He pointed a hoof at a little orange colt sitting between them and chuckled. The colt wore an ecstatic smile that seemed to leap out of the photograph. Scootaloo did a double take to her father. It was hard to think of him as anything but grown up, almost surreal.
“I had it all: a wonderful education, a warm bed, and anything I wanted. Heh... Well, almost anything.” His gaze dropped to the floor. “My parents sent me to a school built specifically for gifted foals. I was good at math, and I learned quickly. They had big plans for me.” He chuckled, an almost happy smile appearing on his face. “They wanted me to take over their business when I grew up.
“We went to numerous dinners and parties—as a part of their plan. They taught me how to behave in public, like a proper colt.” He rolled his eyes as he said the final words. “They tried to drill their beliefs and prejudices into me, but I just didn’t get it. They wanted me to follow in their hoofsteps without question, and... I guess I did for the most part. But honestly...” He took a breath through clenched teeth, grimacing. ”I hated it.”
Scootaloo shifted herself to wiggle her hind legs under the sheets. “Why?”
Tyco cocked his head in a shrug. “Well, as much as I wanted to make them happy, something happened that stopped that. Heh... It’s kinda funny, actually. One of the parties we attended was an after-show dinner for the Wonderbolts.”
“Wow, really? The Wonderbolts?” Scootaloo dropped her jaw in a smile, completely forgetting why she sat there.
Tyco belted out a laugh. “Yes, the Wonderbolts. I told you my parents were wealthy businessponies. Anyways, we only went for the dinner, but we did get there early enough to see them perform. I remember the very first time I ever saw them.” His voice became shallow, almost a whisper, and he looked out the window with a wonder-filled smile, as if reliving that very moment.
“They were spectacular. I... I had never seen so many colors—so bright, so fast. You remember all those bedtime stories I used to tell you about when I was a Wonderbolt, right?”
Scootaloo nodded. How could she not? They were the best stories he ever told.
Tyco laughed. “Well those were nothing like this. There were dozens of Wonderbolts up there in the sky, all twisting and diving and looping around each other so... perfectly, one amazing stunt after another. It was like magic. But there was one stunt I’ll never forget.”
He flipped the page, revealing numerous news clippings. Wonderbolts Stun Cloudsdale, Spectators Left Speechless, and The Living Fireworks: Wonderbolts were some of the many newsprint headers that met Scootaloo’s eyes. In the center of the page, surrounded by the articles, was another photo. A yellow stallion, clad in skintight blue, posed beneath a spotlight as if ready to lunge at the photographer. Crystal-blue eyes sat beneath a furrowed brow and above a sly grin that said ‘Don’t mess with me.’ It was signed with a black marker in messy cursive, To my little Rebel. -Blaze.
Scootaloo looked up from the yellowing photo. Her father stared pensively at it, and his eyes briefly misted over. He looked away, blinked back tears before clearing his throat, and then sighed, his eyes closing as another smile grew.
“Blaze, Captain of the Wonderbolts, appeared toward the end of the show. White Lightning and Flash were with him on either side. They looked like an arrow, flying higher and higher into the sky.” He raised a hoof in imitation of what he spoke, his eyes following rather than fixing on Scootaloo’s as was normal during his stories.
“They were like a speck, so high up, and below the other Wonderbolts were circling, real slow. What amazed me about that was that none of them looked up.” He looked Scootaloo in the eyes, disbelief in his. “They all looked straight ahead—they knew to the second what they were doing.” He tapped his hoof the page to emphasize his words.
“Then there was a screeching noise way up high. I looked up and saw the three flying down so fast that the air around them was on fire. It was so amazing, I almost didn’t see the ones flying circles getting faster.” Tyco ran a hoof through his mane, looking down at the bed and shaking his head. “Faster and faster they flew in that circle, still not looking—I couldn’t believe it.
“They flew so fast that a tornado formed, and I remember holding my breath and looking up at Blaze and the others who were screaming down at it like a meteor ready to crash straight through it.” He chuckled—almost giggled—then looked to Scootaloo with a grin. “And then they did.
“They flew straight through the tornado, all three of them spiralling out the bottom and looping out to the top. They connected their trails of fire at the tip and then spun with the tornado. The fire spread to fill in the gaps between their trails with the most brilliant red I’ve ever seen. And below the Wonderbolts that made the tornado shot outward from their circle in a shower of green that sparkled like stars, and one of them looped their trail through the middle and down in a long curve.
“What they had made floated alone in the sky, the whole thing still spinning like a top. I didn’t have any idea what it was until Blaze himself reappeared and blasted through the middle of it. It exploded like a thousand fireworks, but it was then that I saw what it was...” He stared off into space as a smile formed on his lips, his head shaking numbly. “It was a rose... Heh... It was a rose in full bloom.”
A tear rolled down his cheek. He wiped it away before chuckling again.
Scootaloo raised an eyebrow, shying away. “A rose? What’s so special about a rose?”
Silence lay between them for a moment when Tyco inhaled to reply, but paused to gather his words. “It’s not specifically that it was a rose, Scoot, it was that they could create something so simple—so pure—from something so complex. That they could go beyond performing a show to creating art.”
Scootaloo blinked, her brow still raised.
With a shake of his head, Tyco chuckled. “You’ll understand someday, Scoot. Now, that show... My parents didn’t think anything of it. To them that’s all it was. I don’t think they realized that they were the ones who messed up their own plan.
“It was in a very fancy ballroom right after the show. I remember hiding behind my parents when they were talking to Blaze, and peeking out at him. He was in his uniform, and had this smile about him. It was electric. I was still amazed at the show they had put on, and when he looked down at me with that smile it felt like the world stopped.”
Tyco tapped the photograph twice with a hoof, staring into Blaze’s eyes like a puzzle he was trying to finish. “He saw something in me that day... Heh. ‘To my little Rebel...’ He was definitely something else.” He flipped the page. Wonderbolts darted up and down and around more news clippings in strict formation, their photographs barely containing the streaks of fire and static and smoke in their wake.
“From that point on, I collected anything and everything Wonderbolt. I started playing outside more, flying around all day imagining I was one of them. It was a lot of fun, but it worried my parents. I think it annoyed them that I wasn’t living up to their expectations.
“I didn’t want to become what they wanted me to be, and my father got angry. He...” Tyco looked Scootaloo in the eyes, then turned away, drooping his ears.
“What’d he do?” Scootaloo asked. She leaned forward to put a hoof on his shoulder.
Tyco glanced at it, then smiled at her. “Nothing, that part isn’t important.”
Slowly, he sighed. “Anyways, after a few years I moved to Fillydelphia to follow my dream. I trained day and night to become what I needed to be in order to achieve it. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I poured all my time, effort, and talent into flying. And it took four years—four years of trying—but it paid off.”
Tyco smiled, staring off into space again, dusting off a long-forgotten memory from the upper shelves of his mind. “I became a Wonderbolt.
“I’ll never forget how it felt the first time I wore that suit. To wear something so... prestigious. It felt like I had become a new stallion, which, I guess, I technically did.” He looked to Scootaloo. There was a light in his eyes, both of fargone pride and juvenile embarrassment. “At that moment, I decided I didn’t want the name my parents gave me. So made up a better one that would fit a Wonderbolt. I took the name Flyinn,” he shrugged, “and it stuck.”
He again flipped through the photo album. Like a collage, photographs and news clippings adorned page after page, each highlighting him in some manner. He stopped at the middle of the album where a front page of the Fillydelphian Times overtook the entirety of its open faces. The bolded header reading “The New Face of the Wonderbolts,” a young Tyco stood atop a row of four five-point stars, staring heroically off camera. Muscle, lean and toned, lay beneath skintight uniform, rippling it like the waves of an ocean. Half-spread wings fanned about him like a cloak, his tail and mane swept in an unseen wind.
“Wooow...” Scootaloo ogled. Never before had she seen a picture of her father in uniform. He really did look as spectacular as all his bedtime stories made him out to be.
“It was that year I perfected my lightning calling, and I became the talk of Equestria’s elite. Oh, what was it they used to call me...?” He tapped a hoof to his forehead, an embarrased smile working its way across his lips. “Oh yeah, heh... Flyinn the Magnificent. Flyinn the Great.” He let out a soft chuckle. “Flyinn the Lightning Caller was my personal favorite. Anyways, we traveled Equestria, performing show after show, and left every audience stunned. Those three years passed in a blur of sweat, fame, and glory. And I loved every single moment of it.
“But then something I never would have expected happened.” His voice changed, as if still puzzled. “After our final show of the season, Cloudsdale’s mayor threw us a party for a job well done. It was a huge party, and everypony in Cloudsdale came. I remember sitting at a table in the corner of the ballroom. I was never very social, so I passed the time pony-watching. It was fun to just sit back and watch the others have a wonderful time.” He looked Scootaloo in the eyes, and she could feel the ghost of his memory reach out and touch her. “And that’s when I saw her.
“She was the most beautiful mare I’ve ever laid eyes on. Her name was Starshine, and she certainly lived up to that name. Her mane was the darkest blue you’ll ever see, and her smile could have stopped the world from spinning. I... I couldn’t look away. I just sat there... hypnotized. It didn’t take long for her to notice me, but when she did, it felt like an arrow shot through my heart.”
Tyco sighed, letting time pass in silence as he relived his memory. After a moment, he turned a few pages to a small photograph, where an indigo-coated mare smiled up at Scootaloo. Starshine was indeed beautiful. Her navy-blue mane shimmered like the nighttime sky and fell about her in long flowing curls. Violet eyes, flashing and vibrant, peered through the glossy film, her smile truly one beyond the most graceful Scootaloo had ever seen.
“You have her eyes.”
Scootaloo looked at her father in time to feel his hoof trace her cheek, and see him smile. He looked back to the photograph, then out the window at the nighttime sky.
“Eventually, I worked up the courage to go talk to her. Her voice was as beautiful as she was. We started dating. I put her first before everything else. She was the one, Scoot. She really was. But the others...” He looked somberly at the floor. “They didn’t agree with it.
“They felt Starshine was getting in the way of my training and clouding my vision. We had an argument, and... they gave me a choice: I had to choose between the love of my life, or the job of my dreams.” A small chuckle escaped him, along with the faintest of smiles. “I didn’t even hesitate.” He sighed. “And I never looked back. I was so... furious, I vowed to never fly again, which is, well, why you never see me do it.” He added a shrug.
“Starshine and I moved to Fillydelphia, where we settled down in Delamare Valley. And when I thought life couldn’t get any better,” he looked at Scootaloo, love in his eyes, “you arrived.
“That was the most joyful moment of my life. I remember Star holding you close as she laid in that hospital bed. Heh... You opened your eyes for the first time, and I saw your mother in them.” He stroked gently Scootaloo’s mane, “I still do.
“We went home and laid you in your crib and watched you sleep. It was like watching an angel. I slept soundly that night, more than I ever have. But it was short-lived.” A terrible gloom consumed him, as if a dark cloud had suddenly grown above his head. “I heard you crying in the other room, and I woke up to see Star was gone. She left without warning me...” A smile grew steadily. “But she didn’t leave me alone. She left behind the most precious thing I had.” He ran his hoof across Scootaloo’s cheek, wiping away a tear. “And I’ve cherished it ever since.
“You grew up headstrong, just like me. Everypony in Fillydelphia saw us differently ever since that day. We were the center of gossip because of that.” His face grew stern. “I could put up with it, but I wasn’t gonna to let you grow up in the middle of it. I saw how you were being treated in school. The other fillies and colts were just like their parents. It angered me that our neighbors could turn on us like that.” He sighed.
“But that’s why we moved here, to get away from it all.” He patted Scootaloo on the head, smiling. “You’ve grown quite a bit these last two years. I’m proud of you, and I always will be.”
Scootaloo looked up at her father with newfound respect. Never before had he told her any of this, and she could sense it hurt to relive such a depressing tale. Doing what any truly loving daughter would do, she put her hooves around his neck in a hug.
“I wish mom was here,” she whispered quietly into his shoulder, “so you can be happy again.”
“What?” Tyco released her. Nothing but joy filled his eyes. “But I am happy. I’ve got you. I’ve got the best daughter in the world right here in my hooves. Nothing...” He lifted her chin with his hoof. “Nothing can take that away from me.”
Scootaloo’s vision blurred, and she buried herself within the refuge of his embrace. The warmth of hoof and wing about her calmed her nerves, and she felt him lay her back. He pulled the covers up to her chin and kissed her on the forehead.
“Goodnight, Scoot,” he whispered.
“Goodnight, dad,” she replied, snuggling into her sheets. Tyco quietly walked out of the room, closing the door behind him. Scootaloo rolled over and looked out the open window at the starry sky. The hum of cicaidas and the chirping of crickets drifted in, and the stars seemed brighter than usual. With a smile and a contented sigh, she closed her eyes to the peaceful symphony of the night.