Junior Speedster

by VanillaWaffle


“I’m… having second thoughts about this.”

Fluttershy turned her head to the left to face the filly, mouth open to provide reassurance, but paused when she noticed the golden pegasus was no longer at her side. Rainbow Dash had stopped walking beside her about ten paces back, fidgeting with her blue scarf nervously with one hoof. Her eyes stared beyond the grown mare in the direction of the Ponyville marketplace, and her body subtly quaked in a way that did not seem quite indicative of the cold.  Fluttershy wanly smiled as she walked towards the uncomfortable filly.

“Rainbow Dash, if you’re worried about being found out, I’m sure nopony is going to notice. Rarity made sure of that.”

“B-but what if she wasn’t thorough enough? What if somepony still sees my real colors near my roots? What if the makeup comes off my cutie mark? What if-”

“You’ll be fine,” Fluttershy interrupted. “If you really feel uncomfortable while we’re there, we can go back to the castle...” Her look quickly developed a sly glint. “But, I wouldn’t think a marketplace in a small town would be enough to scare off such a brave and daring pony as Rainbow Dash.”

“Wouldn’t… scared… WHAT?!” Fluttershy’s sly grin remained firm as the small golden pegasus leapt forwards, rosy eyes glaring daggers at her friend. “I am not afraid of the marketplace! It’s just food! Sold by ponies I know… lots of them…” Many of which I want to look up to me, she mentally added. Her gaze went vacant again, and Fluttershy’s grin faltered. The filly shook her head violently, clearing the doubt from her mind and reasserted a brave face. “Of course I’m not scared! In fact, let’s get to it already!” The filly quickly readjusted her beanie and puffed out her chest in an unintentionally cute hero stance. Her wings buzzed uselessly as Rainbow Dash briskly cantered past the older yellow mare. “C’mon, Fluttershy! Keep up!”

Fluttershy watched her go for a moment before allowing herself to giggle. She promptly took off and caught up to the filly, landing beside her and matching her speed. Due to her much longer stride, it wasn’t difficult. “The market is over there, Nimbus Rush,” she gently reminded, pointing to the side with nod of the head. Rainbow immediately pivoted in the correct direction.

“I knew that! Just testing ya!”


Rainbow Dash was never a shy pony, even during her true foalhood. Her sense of pride and bravado was always at a maximum, and she relished in every opportunity to prove her coolness. She was too awesome to be shy.

She was feeling none of that now. Despite the fact that nopony in Ponyville had yet to give the little golden filly a second glance, she felt as if their eyes were a crushing weight, bearing down on her in all directions. Every time she made eye contact with a pony she knew, the weight seemed to double and caused her to quickly evade sight behind Fluttershy’s legs.

It occurred to her after the fourth time executing such a tactic that for the first time she could truly empathize with her best friend. Shyness was not in her nature, but the circumstances made the filly feel increasingly small with each passing glance. Rainbow Dash did not like feeling small. The thought of fleeing to the castle didn’t exactly make her feel big again, but it did seem tempting nonetheless.

Fluttershy graciously thanked the merchant and collected her new carrots into her saddlebags. She barely caught herself just before tripping over the filly for the second time. She glanced at the antsy pegasus who was huddled against her, looking around with minor panic. “Are… you going to be alright, Ra-, um, Nimbus?”

“Yeahdoingfineneverbetter,” Rainbow Dash responded. “Love errands. Love being around everypony. Big adventure! Tons of fun! Yes ma’am!” She forced a wide, toothy smile onto her cheeks, which did nothing to alleviate the concern from her friend.

“Oh. It’s just I haven’t seen you so on edge since the Best Young Flyer competition. You really don’t have to worry so much.”

“I know, I know,” Rainbow Dash whined. “But I just… I… ugh!” she exclaimed. “Can we hurry this up? I would really feel more awesome somewhere else.”

Fluttershy looked at her worryingly. Rainbow returned the glance while rubbing her left leg with her right hoof. “Okay,” she finally said. “I just need to run one more errand, and then we can take you back to the castle.” She turned and started walking again. Rainbow eagerly followed.

“Okay, cool, let’s just make it fast. Like, ‘me’ fast. That would be great. Peachy, even. Totally cool. Radical you could-”

“Howdy, ‘Shy! What brings ya here today?”

Rainbow froze mid step a few paces behind Fluttershy. She slowly raised her head to look up at the orange farm pony before her, standing beside her apple cart with her green serving apron on. Rainbow gulped, braced herself, and finally moved to Fluttershy’s side.

“Hello, Applejack. It’s good to see you’re still selling for the season.”

“Eeyup! Still got enough from the last harvest to last a few more weeks, ah reckon.” She then noticed the nervous looking golden filly at Fluttershy’s side. “Now who’s this lil’ one with ya today?” The earth pony directed her attention quickly away from Fluttershy and focused it all on Rainbow Dash. She lowered herself down to the filly’s level and smiled warmly. Oddly enough, getting that look from one of her best friends made her feel supremely uncomfortable. “What’s yer name, cutie?”

With that last word, all the discomfort fled from Rainbow Dash in an instant and was replaced with pure annoyance. Her wide-eyed grimace was replaced with a stone cold glare.

Fluttershy looked around to check if the coast was clear of any close passersby. “We already told her something happened,” she whispered into Rainbow’s ear. “You should tell her.”

With her annoyed glare from being called “cutie” still affixed, she looked Applejack in the eye and grumbled out “Rainbow Dash.”

Applejack blinked, her child-friendly smile fading. After a momentary staring contest with the golden pegasus, she looked up to Fluttershy in confusion. Fluttershy nodded.

“This the curse y’all told me about?”


“That also why she’s yellow?”

“It’s dye. We’re calling her ‘Nimbus Rush’ for now.”

“Huh.” There was a moment of silence as Applejack turned back to the grumpy filly before her. Then a wicked grin appeared as she dropped down again to Rainbow’s level and stretched out a hoof to rustle the beanie covering the filly’s azure mane. “Now ain’t you just the cutest lil’ thing?”

“Hey!” Rainbow Dash recoiled, shaking her friend’s hoof away. “Stop that!” Applejack playfully insisted, and the filly attempted to dodge. “I’m not cute! Just small!”

“Ha ha, yup, I’ll say. Ah reckon y’all could fit nicely inside mah sister’s old hoovie PJs.” The mare laughed heartily, reaching once more for the filly’s mane.

“NO! Quit it, AJ!” Rainbow Dash complained as she backed up. Applejack persisted with a laugh. “This isn’t funny!” Fluttershy watched the teasing unfold, unsure if she should intervene. She opted to watch, humored by the interaction.

“Ah’d say it’s the funniest darn thing Ah’ve seen all week.” The mare lunged at the filly, the latter failing to evade quickly enough, and wrapped her hooves tightly around her. Rainbow squirmed in the hold. “This dye washable? Ah think Ah’ve still got them hoovies layin’ around and now Ah can’t get the image of y’all in yer normal colors wearin’ ‘em outta mah head.”

Rainbow’s eyes widened and she momentarily stopped squirming. A mental image of her small body encased in a one-piece set of pajamas flashed through her mind. She would not let that happen. Her squirming renewed with twice the vigor as she thrashed around fruitlessly in Applejack’s grip.

“Nuh, uh! No way! Let me go!” Applejack only giggled, grasping the filly tighter. “Fluttershy! Make her stop!”

The yellow mare giggled to herself as she moved to separate the two. At her behest, Applejack released the small pegasus who quickly sought shelter behind her friend’s legs, peeking out enough to stick her tongue out at the apple farmer. Applejack chuckled again.

“Ah, shucks, Sugercube, Ah was just playin’. Consider this payback for the time y’all and Pinkie Pie filled mah apple cellar with pears.”

Despite her annoyance, Rainbow Dash had to suppress a chuckle at the memory. “Yeah, well, that’s not going to happen. I’m way too cool for hoovie pajamas!”

Applejack smirked and raised an eyebrow. “Eh, you coulda fooled me, ya lil’ filly.”

“Hey!” Rainbow asserted indignantly. “I may be little temporarily, but I’m still Rainbow Da-”

“Hey, Sis, do you have-”

“-sh’s biggest fan!” She finished in a panic.

Fluttershy, Applejack, and the newly arrived Apple Bloom all stared at her. An awkward moment of silence passed in which Fluttershy looked shocked, Applejack looked startled, and Apple Bloom looked confused. That confusion quickly turned to a smirk.

“Oh, you must be new here.” She looked over the anxious filly’s shoulder. “Hey, Scoots!” she shouted beyond Rainbow Dash. “Sounds like y’all got competition!”

Rainbow’s pupils dilated. Uh oh.

“With what?” a familiar voice called back from behind her, sounding somewhat far away.

“Bein’ Rainbow Dash’s number one fan!”

“WHAT!?” There was a sudden gust of wind, and in a moment the orange pegasus filly herself was standing before a smirking Apple bloom like a startled cat. “Where is the pretender!?”

Despite herself, Rainbow Dash couldn’t help but smile proudly as she saw her honorary little sister prepare to defend her title as her biggest fan. She remembered the day the kid started the Rainbow Dash Fan Club, when she watched the filly zoom around on her scooter delivering fliers to everypony on the street. Even before that fateful camping trip, Rainbow Dash had always found the hero worship that Scootaloo had for her flattered her more than anything else, and not just because it inflated her ego. She had always liked the kid, and saught the squirt’s approval before all others. The decision to take the kid under her wing as a surrogate sister required no thought, for it seemed so right. The fact that the hero worship hadn’t diminished any only made her fondness for her “little sister” stronger. She giggled involuntarily.

Scootaloo’s ears pivoted in the sound of the foalish giggle, and the larger filly’s whipped around to face her. Rainbow’s ears flattened at the fierce look her not-as-little-in-comparison-anymore surrogate sister was giving her.

“You!” She pointed an accusing hoof at the golden pegasus filly. “Are you the one who dares challenge my throne as Rainbow Dash’s number-one fan!” She planted her hoof down and puffed out her chest, flexing her petite wings in a heroic stance. “Me, the president of the Rainbow Dash Fan Club and the kinda-sorta-sister of the mare herself?”

Sweetie Belle caught up to them, approaching Apple Bloom with a questioning glance towards the two fillies. “The new filly said she was Rainbow Dash’s biggest fan,” Apple Bloom answered. Sweetie’s face formed an “O” shape and she nodded with understanding.

“Which is dumb because everypony knows that I’M Rainbow Dash’s biggest fan!”

Rainbow’s ears perked up again as the filly continued her showboating. That’s my Scoots, she thought with a smile. Always the fanfilly.

An idea occurred to the filly. Scootaloo clearly hadn’t noticed her idol was the one she was challenging. Rainbow looked up at her, for the first time realizing just how much larger the orange pegasus was filly was compared to her. She was definitely a few years younger. Rainbow’s prepubescent voice was different enough to avoid suspicion. It looked like she was in the clear from the potential embarrassment she was afraid of after all. She could have some fun with this.

“OHMYGOSH!” Rainbow cheered loudly. She put up the most convincing expression of awe that she could muster, one that she had seen on the squirt’s face more times than she could ever count. “Did you just say you were Rainbow Dash’s sister?!”

“Huh?” Scootaloo muttered, taking a confused step back. “Uh, yeah. I just said that.”

“Oh my gosh, this is so cool!” She added a bounce for emphasis. “I never thought I’d get to meet Rainbow Dash’s sister before!”

“W-well, we aren’t TECHNICALLY sisters, we just…”

“I take it back,” Rainbow Dash said with a toothy smile. “I could never say I’m Rainbow Dash’s biggest fan when somepony as awesome as you clearly is!”

Scootaloo stammered, her lips moving but no words forming. She blushed brightly through her orange fur. She turned to her two friends, who were standing next to a smirking Applejack. They giggled at her..

Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash took the chance to look at Fluttershy, who was looking at her proudly. The yellow mare nodded at the filly, telling her she was on the right track. Scootaloo turned around again and looked at the disguised former-mare with a blush.

“Uh... thanks. You seem pretty cool too, Kid.” She smiled awkwardly.

Suppressing her annoyance at being called ‘kid’, she purposely buzzed her wings in an excited motion with a smile. It felt good to make her number one fan blush with praise.

“So… you’re a Rainbow Dash fan?”

“Oh, uh, yup!” It was technically true.

“Oh. Cool. You should, uh, join our club. We meet on Saturdays.” She resumed her confident stance, pointing at herself. “Just remember that I’m the president of that club because I’M the number one fan!”

Rainbow couldn’t help but giggle again.

“Yup, sure thing!”

The filly  was about to return to her friends, but the other two fillies quickly approached looking curiously at Rainbow Dash.

“Ah don’t think we’ve seen ya around before,” Apple Bloom said with a smile. “Ah’m Apple Bloom. What’s yer name?”

“Huh? Oh, uh… Nimbus! Nimbus Rush. Yup, that’s me!” If any of the three fillies noticed the nervous manner that Rainbow Dash gave her pseudonym, they didn’t show it.

“Where are you from?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“I’m… uh, I’m from…” She stammered a bit. They hadn’t planned this far ahead. Should she say she was from cloudsdale? That would probably be safest, and it was true. She just hadn’t lived there in a really long time. She opened her mouth to respond, but Fluttershy joined in first.

“Girls, Nimbus Rush is a... cousin of mine... from Cloudsdale.”

Huh. Same page with the Cloudsdale part, she thought to herself. Wait, cousin?

“Uh… yeah. Cousin. Totally!” Rainbow looked at Fluttershy with a cocked eyebrow. Fluttershy simply shrugged.

“Oh, cool! I didn’t know you had any cousins, Fluttershy!” Sweetie said jubilantly.

“Oh, yes, well…” Fluttershy grasped for the words. Eventually she settled with, “She’s my second cousin. It’s a distant relationship.”

“Oh,” Sweetie and Apple Bloom said simultaneously. Rainbow noticed Scootaloo off to the side, silently blushing still.

“Apple Bloom,” Applejack called, directing the attention away from the uncomfortable filly. “What was it y’all needed?”

“Oh yeah! We were wonderin’ if you have any spare wood from the last time we fixed the barn.”

Applejack scratched her head. “Ah think we might have some layin’ around in the barn loft. Whatcha need that for?”

Scootaloo jumped up at that, excitedly answering. “We’re gonna make some sleds!”

“Sleds, huh? Y’all know we already got some y’all could use.”

“Oh, we know,” Sweetie Belle answered. “But we’re trying to help a client of ours that we think would make a great woodworker.”

“And what better way to help somepony find their talent in woodworking than to help them make something awesome?” Scootaloo buzzed her wings in excitement.

“We figure if we help out Fine Grain with makin’ these sleds today, we got something fun ta do tomorrow!”

“Well, you two do anyway. I’ve already got plans!” Scootaloo announced proudly. Rainbow Dash felt her ears fall flat. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle rolled their eyes and smirked at the pegasus.

“Yeah, yeah, Scoots. Y’all been going on about that all week.”

“Hey, Nimbus. You said you are a big Rainbow Dash fan?”

“Y-yeah! Totally! Big fan!”

“Well I get to spend the day with her tomorrow! Just me and her!”

Normally Rainbow Dash would get an ego boost from hearing Scootaloo boast about that, but now it was only painful to hear. “O-oh, wow. T-that’s, uh, awesome!”

“Aw, yeah! See, pipsqueak?” Scootaloo strutting over to Dash and wrapping a forehoof around her smaller shoulders. “You play your cards right, and maybe Equestria’s coolest pegasus will want to hang with you too!”

Rainbow’s heart fell next. For what had to have been the first time, Scootaloo’s cheerful demeanor actually made her sad. She looked to Fluttershy, who was looking back sadly. Fluttershy pointed her hoof at herself, then to Scootaloo, then to back to Rainbow Dash and shook her head subtly with a questioning look. It wasn’t hard to figure out what the pantomiming meant. Fluttershy was offering to break the news for Rainbow Dash. They hadn’t discussed what Rainbow Dash wanted to tell Scootaloo though. She didn’t want to lie to her favorite filly any more than she had, and she also didn’t want her to know the embarrassing truth. Nevertheless, she trusted her friend and nodded sadly.

Fluttershy turned to the orange filly. “Oh, Scootaloo, I’m so sorry to tell you this, but something came up.”

“Huh?” the filly asked. “What do you mean?”

“Well, um…” Fluttershy hesitated, figuring out her thoughts. She continued. “Rainbow Dash suddenly, um, found herself… unavailable for a while.”

That’s one way to put it.

“WHAT!” Scootaloo stood rigidly, her pupils shrinking. “What happened? Is she okay?”

Applejack and Rainbow Dash made eye contact briefly. Applejack raised an eyebrow, as if subtly disapproving of something. The filly turned her eyes sadly back to Fluttershy and Scootaloo.

“Well, yes. She’s perfectly fine. It’s just that, well, something came up.”

“But what?” Scootaloo’s body was almost slumping in disappointment. “Did the map call her somewhere?”

“It’s… personal. I can’t really say much. But she feels REALLY bad about having to cancel on you.” She put a hoof on Fluttershy’s shoulder. “She also said she would make it up to you as soon as she can.”

I never actually said that, but she’s totally right. It was getting hard to look at the dejected pegasus. As soon as I can, I’ll make it up to you, Squirt.

“O-oh,” Scootaloo muttered, trying and failing to look nonplussed. “Y-yeah, I get it. It’s cool, i guess… When did she say she would be back?”

“Um, well, we don’t really know.” Fluttershy shrinked down a bit.

“Oh. Well, uh, okay. That’s fine, I guess.” Scootaloo looked down at her hooves, scraping at the snowy dirt.

“I’m sorry,” Rainbow Dash found herself saying aloud. She quickly realized what she did and covered her mouth. Fluttershy looked worried but none of the fillies seemed to notice.

“I-it’s fine. Not your fault or anything,” Scootaloo said, still trying to sound like she wasn’t bothered. “It’s only been a month or so since the last time we hung out, or since my last flying lesson. It’s not that bad! Rainbow Dash is pretty busy, after all. Can’t blame her.”

Rainbow’s heart was getting crushed. She felt a tear form in her eye, and she blinked it away hoping nopony noticed.

You should tell her.

Rainbow looked around before she realized she was telling herself that. She shook her head. She couldn’t do that.

Why not? She’d be fine with it.

But Rainbow wouldn’t be fine. It was humiliating, and the less ponies that knew about it, the better. But the more she thought of that, the more it just seemed selfish. Instead, she simply watched dismally as the orange pegasus filly walked slowly back to her friends.

“Should we, uh...” she said. “Should we go get that wood?”

Her friends looked at her with sympathy and nodded. As a group, they trotted away. Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom turned their heads as they walked off and waved.

“Bye, Applejack. Bye, Fluttershy,” Sweetie Belle called.

“It was great ta meet ya, Nimbus.”

“Y-yeah,” Rainbow Dash mumbled with a half-hearted wave. “You too.” She watched as they departed, looking particularly at Scootaloo as she moped off. She sighed. When they were out of earshot, she muttered, “Scoots is gonna hate me.”

“Oh, you know she won’t, Dashie.” Fluttershy wrapped a comforting wing around Rainbow Dash. It seemed like she was doing that a lot lately, but Rainbow couldn’t find it in her to feel embarrassed by it. She snuggled into the wing hug.

She sniffled. Rainbow’s eyes shot open at the sound of her own sniffling, and she frantically wiped her eyes. She found it easiest to blame her new age.

“Y’all shouldn’ta lied to her.”

Rainbow looked up at her friend. Applejack wore a look of critical sympathy. Rainbow sniffled again.

“B-but… I…” She looked down at her hooves, and quietly whispered “I know.”

“Then why did ya?” Her tone was softer, but just as criticising. “It ain’t right to be lying to somepony you consider family.”

Rainbow knew the real answer. Pride. The risk of a bruised ego. But for some reason, that was enough for her to hold onto the fear of discovery. After all, Scootaloo was clearly older. Being looked down on like a little filly was an uncomfortable feeling. She could kind of deal with it when nopony knew who she was, but it was hard enough having her friends think of her as just a foal. It was selfish, and Rainbow knew it. For her little sister and biggest fan to think of her like that…

Then she remembered Scootaloo blushing and bristling with praise earlier as Rainbow Dash played fanfilly for her. It was fun to see her like that.

Growing up, I never thought I’d be the best at anything, because nopony ever told me.”


Applejack and Fluttershy shuffled back in surprise, the pegasus losing her grip as the filly jumped up suddenly.

“I’ll hang out with Scootaloo, as I promised! But this time, Scoots is gonna have somepony looking up to HER!”

“So you’re going to tell her?” Fluttershy inquired hopefully.

“Well, no. But I don’t think I need to.”

Applejack raised an eyebrow. “And why in Equestria not? That there filly wants to be with Rainbow Dash, not Nimble Hush.”

“Nimbus Rush.”

“Whatever. Point still stands.”

“Because,” Rainbow started. “She once told me that she wished she had somepony to cheer her on,” Rainbow stood up straight and put a hoof to her chest. “I want to be to her what the squirt’s been to me all these years. Maybe I can give her a confidence boost.”

“Still don’t answer why ya can’t just tell ‘er about the situation.”

“Because she’s always been looking up to me and giving me a confidence boost when I need it. I have the chance to do so to her, but it wouldn’t be the same if it was ME! She already has a sister, but she doesn’t have a fan!”

Applejack’s eyebrow raised even further, and she cocked her head in bewilderment. “Ah don’t think you understand what she really ne-”

“I think it’s a great idea,” Fluttershy interrupted, covering up Applejack’s mouth with an outstretched hoof. “Why don’t we get some lunch back at the castle and then you can catch up to Scootaloo.”

As if a switch had been flipped, Rainbow’s anxiety reignited. She looked around, realizing all the ponies that were in the marketplace. She had almost forgot how exposed she previously felt. She looked back to Fluttershy and nodded her head. “Uh, yeah. Castle. That sounds good. Meet you there!” She buzzed her wings and jumped into the air, only to plop down on her belly in the snowy dirt. She quickly got up as Fluttershy moved to help her, blushing furiously and brushing off the snowflakes that stuck to her belly.

“Right. Force of habit. I’m, uh… I’m just going to head there.” She briskly trotted off, hoping nopony else saw.


Fluttershy moved to follow, but Applejack stopped her with a hoof on the shoulder.

“You shouldn’t have been lying for her.”

“I know, but she so afraid of being discovered. I felt I should help.”

“Shy, you know as well as Ah do that Rainbow ought not to lie to the filly. Dishonesty is how ya lose those you care about.”

“I know, Applejack. But she’s too worried something bad will happen if Scootaloo finds out to do anything otherwise.”

“Scootaloo loves Rainbow Dash. Practically worships the mare. Trust me when Ah say she wouldn’t care a lick.” Her eyes narrowed. “And as a long-time sister I can say that Scootaloo needs Rainbow Dash to be herself more than she needs her pretendin’ to be somepony else.”

“I know. But she won’t believe that. She is under a lot of self-imposed stress from everything that’s happened. It’s either let Rainbow Dash be disguised as Nimbus Rush or let her stay cooped up all day in Twilight’s castle, too afraid to be discovered. That’s not healthy for anypony, especially somepony like her.”

Applejack grumbled lowly. “Fine, but I don’t like all this lyin’.” She softened her features and looked Fluttershy in the eye. “Just keep an eye on her until this all gets fixed.”

Fluttershy nodded warmly. “Of course. I won’t let her get into any trouble.”

“And encourage her to tell Scootaloo.”

“I’ll try. Goodbye, Applejack!”

“Bye, Fluttershy.”

Applejack watched as Fluttershy took off into the air to catch up with the recently-regressed filly. With a final glance at the anxious golden foal, she sighed and turned her attention to a newly-arrived customer.

“Howdy! How can Ah help you today?”