Sororal Instincts.

by Reptilicus

Little memories, marching on.

The atmosphere inside of Sugar Cube Corner had mutated over the course of the last several hours. What had initially begun as a sort of glum clockwork guard duty for their sickly captive had devolved into the original intent of the visit: a slumber party. A special egg timer had been set up by Pinkie to go off every fifteen minutes so she and Dash knew to wrap the slumbering filly near the fireplace in a new warm sheet. For the most part she had remained asleep during the process. They would roll her gently as the blanket unwrapped to the floor. Pinkie had thought herself very clever when she mentioned how it was akin to making a giant burrito with someone inside. She made plans to create an actual food dish in honor of this joke called the "Burritoloo" that would use freshly sliced carrots and beets within the tortilla. On the odd times Scootaloo woke from the process she'd slur and mumble for them to go away or ask where her scooter was. Usually falling back to floor and quickly falling asleep again. Despite their worry, Dash and Pinkie both agreed it was sort of cute in a way.

As the time passed the two grew bored of doing nothing but watching the slumbering filly and eventually found themselves doing exactly what they had planned on doing in the first place. Watching old movies on Pinkie's dusty projector while munching on Pinkie's signature cinnamon kettle corn. The smell of the sweet popcorn filled the air with the raucous tinny piano music that came from the films the two were watching. Mostly black and white comedies that Pinkie adored. While Dash didn't exactly find slapstick to be her favorite form of comedy, the thrilling stunts and infectious giggles of her friend eventually had the both of them in tears. But that had been some time ago. At the moment Pinkie was lying in an awkward position on the couch, almost entirely upside down. Her legs were propped up against the headrest with her torso balled up next to her flank. Her head twisted around so her lower jaw could rest on the seatcushions. A bowl of kettle corn was clenched in a deathgrip to her side. A small bubble of snot wobbled unnaturally out the left nostril of the sleeping pony. Dash glanced over at her friend, somewhat grossed out by the snot while also morbidly impressed that her flexible friend could even sleep in such an ungainly position.

Dash yawned loudly and propped herself up. With the tip of her muzzle she flicked the switch on the projector turning it off, ceasing the small clicking hum that made. She grabbed the reel out of the film gate and carefully placed it inside the wooden crate Pinkie kept her movies in. Dash smiled looking at the other films inside the box. Pinkie wasn't exactly an organized pony. Far from it exactly. Everything for her was chaos and joy. But the box of films was immaculate. All the reels were organized alphabetically and by genre. Unsurprisingly a good majority of the box was comedy, followed by romance, horror, and finally documentaries. Each cleaned and kept in pristine condition. It was obvious these meant a great deal to the pink mare and Dash was very careful to gingerly place the reel of "The Three Cuckoos" where it was meant to sit inside the box.

With another yawn Dash curled herself up on the far end of the couch and felt sleep overtake her. It hadn't been an entirely bad day. She had gotten a vacation out of nowhere during the busiest part of the year. And even though she had nearly frozen a friend in the snow, she had gotten to spend the evening with Pinkie Pie having fun. A quiet ding entered Dash's eardrum as her eyes slowly closed. What was that ding? It seemed so important but a moment ago. Oh well, the sandman can worry about it. And if he causes any trouble he'd have the Element of Loyalty to deal with.

Rainbow Dash's eyes snapped open and she uttered a swear word not too quietly to herself. The eggtimer! That's what the ding was. She can't sleep, they had the eggtimer to mind. Dash quickly struggled and got up. The smell of kettle corn had subsided and this was quite worrying. How long had Dash been asleep? With another quiet curse the cyan horse rolled off the couch and galloped to the kitchen. A quick glance at the clock confirmed her worst fear. It was 7 a.m. She had been asleep for nearly two hours. Dash turned on her heel and ran to the dryer and washing machine. She pulled a warm sheet out of the dryer and galloped to the fireplace with the sheet clamped in her teeth. A look of horror passed over her features at what she saw.

Scootaloo was gone. Her previous blanket lay sprawled out on the ground with some small hoofprints imprinted on the velvety fabric. A few more swear words passed out of Dash's mouth as the blanket she was biting flopped to the ground. Where could the tiny filly be? Had she tried to leave the bakery? A quiet creak in the next room answered that question for her. Dash strode to the doorway from the kitchen and peered inside. The door to SugarCube Corner was being shoved open by the small orange filly who was having great difficulty. Partly because it was a rather large heavy door and simultaneously because a good five or six feet of snow had built up on the other side over the course of the night. With a large crunch the door slammed open and the snow began to pile in. Scootaloo flapped her tiny wings against the wind blowing in and started tentatively taking a step out into the elements. That is until two large hooves gripped her sides and dragged her back inside.

"What the hay do you think you're doing, Scoot!? You're going to get yourself killed if you go out into that." Dash shouted trying not to shriek in anger at the tiny horse wriggling in her arms. With a kick of her backleg Dash slammed the door shut and dumped Scootaloo on the blanket in front of the fireplace.

"Seriously what are you thinking? It's freezing out there!" trying to keep her panicked voice calm Dash sat in front of the quivering filly on the blanket. "Why are you trying to leave?"

"I don't...." Scootaloo began. She was quiet for a moment unable to look anywhere but the ground in front of her. "I don't want to cause anymore trouble. And the snowstorm isn't as loud now. So I figured I'd just go. You don't have to keep me here. I'll be ok."

Dash furrowed her brow and draped the warm blanket on the floor over her small friend. Scootaloo glanced upward at Dash then quickly looked away feeling ashamed. She didn't enjoy the attention much. Particularly from her hero.

"Scootaloo, it's fine. I'm being honest here, it's fine. You didn't cause any real trouble you just scared me and Pinkie really badly. And Tank too, I guess."

"Who is Tank?" asked Scootaloo, wanting desperately to change the subject.

"Tank is my pet. He's a tortoise." Dash grinned at the confused look on Scootaloo's face. "Yeah I know its weird. The most awesome and fastest flyer in Equestria having one of the slowest animals on the planet for a pet. But I like the little guy. He's very smart for a tortoise. He's upstairs somewhere. Doin' turtley stuff."

Scootaloo smiled sheepishly and looked back at the ground. A minute or so of silence passed while the fireplace embers crackled quietly. A yellowish glow faintly echoing around the room.

"So, look here, Squirt. I need to ask you something kind of important." Dash asked, breaking the tension.

Scootaloo frowned. She knew the question that was going to be asked before Dash even said it. Her brain was already going through the list of pre-made excuses and responses she had made to such a question in the past. It was a rather elegant list. Every lie expertly crafted over a couple of years of honing her talent to fib. Each excuse so believable it had gotten her out of so many close calls to even the most scrutinizing of equines. Family nights, conferences, holidays, and other social events all had been avoided with this list. But as she looked up at her hero Scootaloo realized she didn't really have the moxie to lie to Dash. Not to her, the one person who inspired her enough to keep going.

"We need to contact your parents, kid. You've been here for a few hours recovering and I'm sure they are probably worried sick about you right now. They're probably freakin' out wondering why you didn't come home. Especially in the weather like this. I can't even imagine how awful they must feel right now. What's their address? Do they have a telegraph number we can signal with?"

Scootaloo sat quietly. Staring as intently at the ground as she could, hoping against hope that whatever magic allowed pegasi to fly with such small wings would somehow make the floor open up and admit her through. Saving her from this awkward exchange that threatened to reveal her biggest secret. Something she hadn't told anypony for a long long time.

"Maybe you could just give me directions to their house? Like tell me what your house looks like and where to fly so I can find them! Do they live in an apartment complex? A farm? Near the forest? Near that treehouse?"

Silence filled the air again. Dash was growing antsy and impatient. Here she was trying to help this girl and all she was getting back was awkward silence. This was like dealing with Fluttershy only now someones health was seriously in danger. Dash stomped angrily and flared her wings trying to look as intimidating as a cyan horse with rainbow hair could.

"Hey! Talk! Say something so I can help you! I NEED to know where your parents are Scootaloo! Or whoever takes care of you. They're probably crying their eyes out right now wondering if you're ever coming back! You NEED to tell me where they are RIGHT NOW."

A quiet mumble escaped the muzzle of the tiny filly. She was trembling slightly with a look of contempt on her face. Dash was confused. What was making this kid so upset and quiet?

"What?" Dash asked.

"I said I don't know!" shouted Scootaloo, raising her voice a bit louder than she'd wanted. She glanced up at Dash whose angry facial expression was melting away to confusion. Scootaloo's frown got even frownier as she realized her answer was not going to be good enough.

"What do you mean you don't know? How can you not know where your parents are?" Dash asked sternly, refolding her wings against her body. The child's reaction to this conversation was frightening Dash slightly.

Scootaloo looked away staring angrily at the nearest wall. The floor hadn't swallowed her and freed her from this conversation as she had hoped. Perhaps the wall would be more polite. She glowered silently at it. The wall did not care and stood as it always had. The wall was just like her family. Uncaring and unhelpful. Hot tears were beginning to form in her lavender eyes as she stared angrily at the wall. Blinking rapidly seemed to be having the opposite effect she desired of making the tears go away. Why eyelids? Why couldn't you work doing the ONE thing you were designed to do? What was the point of having them if they couldn't stop all this liquid from falling out? Had Dash noticed?

"You don't have any you?" whispered Dash as she slowly lowered herself to the ground, folding her forelegs under her torso so she could look the scowling youngster in the face. Scootaloo's jaw quivered, eyes averted, as she mouthed the word "no" but no sound was uttered. Small sobs were trying their best to escape from the orange filly's mouth and she was fighting a losing battle to hold them in. This was the one conversation she didn't want to have. And she really didn't want to have it with Rainbow.

This was a situation Dash had never been faced with. This girl she had dragged out of the snow. This girl she had known for some time now, who idolized her, worshipped her. Who visited her every day when she trained in the skies above the town. This little girl who followed Dash around wanting little else but some acknowledgement. She was all alone. This kid had been alone this entire time and not told a soul. And was now trying to look brave as large tears flowed freely down her orange cheeks. Dash's heart was breaking seeing this in front of her. She wracked her brain trying to find a way to save this situation from getting worse. What should I do? What do I do now? What would Fluttershy do? With that thought Dash arrived at the single conclusion she could make.

At this moment in time she was the only person on this planet who could help this orphaned filly in her time of grief. It was entirely up to her to make this moment suck a little less for a friend and a fan. And with that thought Dash tenderly and awkwardly reached forward and wrapped her forelegs around the trembling orange scruffy mass in front of her and held her close. Scoot elicited a small squeak as the sobs broke free of their ribcage prison and she found herself crying openly for the first time in a long time. Physical exhaustion and emotional pain burst free in a cry of despair. She buried her tiny head into the fold between Dash's arm and chest and wept. Dash felt terrible for the second time that day. This was her fault. First she had nearly gotten this kid frozen to death and now she had made the ordinarily tough little filly weep like an infant. The two of them were so similar, able to mask their emotions behind a bravado that they were more than happy to back up with actions. But now it was just one of them trying to look brave while the younger one wailed into the cyan fluff on her chest. Twice in a day, Dash felt she had managed to ruin this pony. She wasn't going to ever forgive herself if she didn't try to fix this situation.

As gently as she could manage Dash pried the crying Scootaloo from her, now rather soaked, arm and looked down at her. Scootaloo looked up, wiping the tears away her face with her hoof.

"Sorry." she said, looking away. "I didn't mean to cry all over you."

"It's ok, Scoot. Hey I got an idea! You remember how earlier I promised you we were going to hang out? And after the cold went away I would help you fix your treehouse?"

Scoot nodded vigorously, a small smile appearing on her tear-stained face.

"Well I'm still keeping that promise, Scoot. You can't leave this place since you have nowhere to go and we can't risk you getting sick or passing out in the cold again. I couldn't live with myself if I got you hurt again. So instead howsabout I stay here with you for awhile until the snow melts? We can hang out every day for the next few weeks while my vacation hours run out! It'll be fun. Me and Pinkie can keep an eye on you and make sure you stay healthy and you get the honor of hanging out with the coolest pegasus in Ponyville!"

That got the reaction Dash had wanted. Scootaloo's pupils dilated to the size of saucers and a large crooked grin crossed her face, erasing any signs that moments ago she'd been deep in the bowels of Crytown. Crytown was a place Dash didn't enjoy visiting. It was right next to Sadville and south of Weepsburg.

Dash affectionately rubbed the unkempt magenta mane that topped the small filly's head in front of her. With a yawn she took a look at the clock again. An hour had passed since she had first heard the ding of the eggtimer. Schedules were a thing for eggheads like Twilight and Rarity, but one thing Dash made sure she accomplished every day was at least 10 hours of sleep. These could be divided over the course of the day but presently Dash's quota for sleep was going unfulfilled. She yawned again and looked down at Scootaloo.

"Hey can you feel the tips of your ears and hooves and stuff?" Dash asked. A nod answered her. "Good then I'm going to sleep on the couch. You should stay and sleep near this fire for warmth."

A loud grumble suddenly escaped the midsection of the tiny filly nearly threatening to knock her over. Her cheeks reddened and she flashed as large and innocent of a smile as she could over the sound of her rumbling stomach. Rainbow frowned a bit. Sleep would have to wait.

"....or I guess I could go and get some brunch for us since apparently somebody is hungry."

"I could make us something!" Pinkie Pie yelled not one inch from Rainbow's ear.

"GAH! Pinkie, how'd you sneak up on me like that?"

"I dunno I heard a grumbly sound and figured someone had the grumbles. And I was RIGHT!" she said, beaming proudly. She bent down to get a good look at Scootaloo who was trying to lean away from the hyper pink horse. Pinkie was sort of scary in her own bizarre abstract way.

"How do you feel Scooty? Feeling any better from last night? Want me to make us some breakfast? I can whip us up some cinnamon rolls or blueberry pancakes if you want! Ooh! Or chocolate chip ones! Oh! Oh! Or choclate chip ones with blueberries that are filled with more chocolate! Those are the best."

A not-too-gentle nudge on the back from Rainbow's hoof silenced the chattering pony next to her. Pinkie leaned back from Scootaloo and looked at Rainbow with a perplexed expression. Rainbow sighed a little and threw an arm around her best friend's neck.

"Pinkie its great that you want to make us breakfast n' all but you remember what the Doctor said. We need to give Scoot something healthy and fatty. And everything in here is just....well....fatty." The three of them looked around realizing it was indeed true. It was a grand mystery in Ponyville as to how exactly Pinkie and the Cake family managed to stay so thin when their diets seemed to mainly consist of large amounts of cinnamon, brown sugar, butter, and icing. By all accounts the three of them should have been fat as cows.

"No offense." Rainbow finished grinning awkwardly hoping she hadn't hurt Pinkie's feelings. Pinkie was rather sensitive, in her own bizarre abstract way.

"Nope! It's okie-dokie. I don't think we have much healthy stuff here unless you want some nasty bran muffins or wheat bread. You want some bran muffins or wheat bread, Scootalooloo?" Pinkie leaned back down. Scootaloo wrinkled her snout and shook her head defiantly under the blanket draped on her head. Anything made of bran HAD to taste horrible.

"Alright well that settles that, I guess. Hmm. Where can I get something that is healthy but wont taste like batbarf?" Rainbow sat in thought, her chin resting on one hoof with her other hoof akimbo, pressing onto her hip as she sat on her haunches. Pinkie adopted a similar stance. And feeling out of place, a moment later Scootaloo followed suite.

Mr.Cake entered the kitchen, saw the three ponies sitting identically in their odd sitting positions, looked around the room confused and then went back to the bedroom. Dash, Pinkie, and Scoot didn't even notice him enter.

"I know! Hey Pinkie aren't apples healthy? Like fruits and stuff?" Dash suddenly shouted.

"Yeah they say an apple a day keeps Nightmare Moon at bay. I'm not sure what that means. I think people thought Luna is allergic to apples. But I saw her bobbing for apples on Nightmare Night. Maybe I should ask her about that."

"No need, Pinkie. I'm going down to Sweet Apple Acres. You know how Applejack and her family are. They've probably been up for hours already, singing to the trees and other weird stuff."

Rainbow bent down and gave Scootaloo a small pat on the head.

"We'll talk more later, alright Squirt? Try to feel better ok? Tank is upstairs and I'm sure he's bored. You can play with him if you want."

Rainbow trotted towards the door. She looked around wondering where her favorite scarf had gone. The one that had been made for her by Rarity. She shrugged. Maybe it fell off during her panicked flight yesterday. She'd just have to brave the cold without it. Rainbow pushed the door open but was stopped by a pink hoof. Pinkie was standing next to Dash with a look of worry on her face, biting her bottom lip.

"Dashie." she whispered. "Did you find out where Scootaloo lives?"

Dash gulped audibly. She turned towards Pinkie with a blank expression. Scootaloo had wanted so badly for that information to remain secret. Should she tell Pinkie? Best play it safe and be vague.

"Pinks, I need to ask a favor from you."

Pinkie nodded with a soft smile.

"Would you mind terribly if me and Scootaloo stay here? For at least a little while? I kinda promised her. A Pinkie promise even!"

It was a lie, of course. Rainbow would never dare do such a thing. A Pinkie promise was a binding seal. Like making a contract for your soul to Discord, the prince of lies himself. You didn't break a Pinkie promise. Not unless you wanted bad luck and misfortune to infest your pathetic soul for all eternity. You bring great shame to your family, by doing so. SHAMEFUL DISPLAY.

"So you and Scoot are gonna stay here? Where?" asked Pinkie, her smile growing wider since she had guessed the answer.

"Your part of the house, maybe? Up in the loft? I promise you I won't make a mess and I'll clean up after Scootaloo if she makes a mess. I'd take her to my place know....the cold n' stuff." Dash replied, rubbing the back of her head awkwardly.

"Oh of COURSE you can stay here for a while, Dashie! Why didn't you just say that in the first place? Oh oh we can be just like sisters! We can share secrets and argue about boys and throw pies at each other!"

"I promise I'll try not to make it a chore, Pinkie. I'll even help out the Cakes if they want. Wait, since when is know what it doesn't matter. Thanks, Pinkie. Until I say otherwise, Scootaloo is under my care."

"Is there a reason for that, Dash?" Pinkie asked, her face going from extremely overjoyed to a mixture of joy and worry.

"I can't talk about it right now, Pinks. There's a problem with the whole thing and I'm going to get to the bottom of it. Don't you worry about it, pal. I'm gonna fix it. Somehow."

And with that Rainbow took off into the sky leaving a trail of rainbow colors in her wake. Normally her rainbow trails disappeared into the air like a polychromatic mist. But due to the cold some bits of it froze in midair and fell to the ground like colorful pebbles. One large piece in particular hit the top of a small grey mailmare with a blonde mane who was trudging through the snow. Letters and postcards flew everywhere and sank into the snow as the crosseyed pegasus tried to figure out what the colorful object was that had struck her noggin. Pinkie stifled a giggle and closed the door.

She breathed in deeply the smells of the bakery then turned her attention to Scootaloo who had managed to wrap herself tightly in one of the two blankets near the fireplace and was currently lying down in front of what was left of the fire.

"Did you hear me talk about my burritoloo idea earlier?" Pinkie asked. Scootaloo shook her head. Pinkie trotted over to the small filly and snuggled next to her. The bakery was soon filled with the chattering of the pink pony as she regaled how Scootaloo's earlier sickly condition had inspired her to design a new festive treat. Scootaloo smiled outwardly, but inside her brain she was rolling her eyes.