Wear Flowers in Your Mane

by jkbrony

Chapter 1 -- Living the Dream

"Alright, Scoot, go long!"

Scootaloo turned on the spot and dashed several meters away from the cyan, rainbow-maned pegasus who was seconds away from kicking a ball in her direction.

A golden sun hung high in the near-cloudless sky of a quiet spring afternoon. The weather was absolutely perfect, courtesy of the aforementioned rainbow-maned pegasus who had made sure that her day of bonding with her surrogate younger sister would not be deterred by inclement weather. The grassy field they played in was a common spot for picnics, particularly in spring when the flowers bloomed all around and trees offered just the right amount of shade.

Once Scootaloo seemed far enough, Rainbow Dash punted the ball and it soared high through the air, its trajectory forming a perfect arch.

"I got it!" Scootaloo called out, aligning herself to the ball's path.

However, she quickly realized that she had gone out too far, and the ball was going to hit the ground if she didn't move back about six feet in under three seconds. She immediately dashed in the opposite direction, her tiny wings fluttering rapidly in the hopes that they would grant her some additional speed.

The ball fell rapidly to the earth. Only a mere foot away from its zone of impact, Scootaloo leapt off her hooves and soared towards it with her forelegs outstretched and her wings still flapping as fast as they were able. In its very last second in midair, the ball landed squarely in between her forehooves and she hit the ground, her wings no longer offering her propulsion.

"G-Got it!" Scootaloo cried in what little breath she had remaining.

"Awesome catch, Scoot!" Rainbow exclaimed, zipping over to her.

Picking herself back up onto her hooves, Scootaloo smiled with satisfaction, now knowing that her effort had not been wasted.

"Alright, I'll be going out far, so make me actually have to put some effort into catching it," said Rainbow after allowing Scootaloo several seconds to catch her breath.

"You got it, Rainbow Dash!"

Rainbow smirked and zipped back to the other end of the field. Scootaloo breathed deeply. Placing the ball upon the grass, she took several steps back and prepared herself to perform a charging punt. On the far end of the field, Rainbow planted all four hooves on the ground, ready to charge after the ball once it was in the air.

Once ready, Scootaloo charged toward the ball, her mind focused upon nothing but making it fly as high and as far as she possibly could. However, in a moment of somewhat comedic misfortune, she lost her footing and punted the ball vertically into the air while simultaneously falling square upon her back. The ball soared straight up several feet and then quickly reversed its direction, plummeting straight downwards directly where Scootaloo now lay.

She instinctively shielded her face with her forelegs, awaiting the impact. Several seconds passed, yet she did not feel the ball strike her body. She cautiously removed her forelegs to see Rainbow Dash hovering just above her, the ball spinning upon the tip of her hoof.

"Uhh, not exactly what I was expecting," she chuckled. "But at least you actually made me put some effort into catching it."

Scootaloo chuckled with embarrassment, pulling herself into a more relaxed position as she lay in the grass.

"I guess the heat must've got to me," she said dismissively, wiping the sweat from her forehead. "It sure is a hot day for spring."

"No kidding," Rainbow said, taking a seat next to her biggest admirer. "Maybe I busted too many clouds this morning. I should have left us some shade."

"Don't worry about it," Scootaloo said forgivingly. "There isn't much you can do about the heat, right?"

"Anyway, I think we could both use a break," said Rainbow. "Hows about we head on over to my place for some cold lemonade? Besides, the mailpony will be coming soon, and I want to be there when he does. I'm expecting a letter that should be arriving today."

"A letter?" Scootaloo asked, finally picking herself back up. "From whom?"

"Oh, no one in particular. Just the WONDERBOLTS!"

"Really?!" Scootaloo exclaimed, doing a tiny hop as though suddenly filled with boundless excitement.

"Yep!" Rainbow replied proudly. "As you know, I was accepted into the Wonderbolts Reserves. They sent me a letter last week saying that they were going to want to see me to run some basic exercises. Just some easy, boring stuff, really. Nothing too exciting...except for ONE thing. I get to wear a Wonderbolt uniform while I do them!"

Rainbow yelped enthusiastically and looped around in midair just above Scootaloo's head.

"For the first time EVER, I'm actually going to be wearing a Wonderbolt uniform! That practically makes me an official Wonderbolt! Ever since I was a filly I've been awaiting the day when I would get to wear one of those uniforms, and it's finally coming! I'm finally going to be living the dream!!"

"That's totally awesome, Rainbow Dash!" Scootaloo boasted. "And I'm honored that I was able to help you reach that goal."

Rainbow Dash sat back down and rubbed the top of Scootaloo's head with her hoof.

"Couldn't have done it without you, Scoot!"

True enough, Scootaloo had been among the several ponies who had helped Rainbow Dash "study" for her Wonderbolts Reserves exam.

"So when do you go in?" she asked.

"Well, that's what this next letter is going to tell me," answered Rainbow. "It might be a week, it might be a few days from now, or it might be tomorrow. But either way, the day I wear a Wonderbolt uniform is finally in sight! I am SO pumped for this!"

"Well, what are we waiting for, then?!" asked Scootaloo with excitement. "Besides, lemonade does sound really good right about now."

Rainbow grinned and jumped back onto her hooves. "Hop on!"

Scootaloo grabbed the ball and climbed up on Rainbow's back. In a flash of multi-colored light, Rainbow Dash took off like a jet, setting a course for her home.


Within ten minutes, the two pegasi were sitting opposite each other at Rainbow's kitchen table in her cloud-based home, sipping cold lemonade through a straw. Rainbow turned her head towards the window every few seconds, looking in the direction of the mailbox which was now sitting along the front walkway of her home rather than its usual spot in the grass down below. Her eyes carefully scanned the area around it for the slightest trace of movement, as though she were fearful that the mailpony would not deliver her letter if she did not see him when he arrived.

"How long have you wanted to be a Wonderbolt, Rainbow Dash?" Scootaloo asked after taking a sip of her lemonade.

"Since the day I first heard about them," Rainbow answered after taking another look out the window. "I must've been six or seven. At the time, I didn't know anything about them other than that they were said to be the best and fastest flyers in Equestria, and I knew from that moment that it was a career that was right up my alley."

"Well, you still didn't really seem to know much about them until just before you took the test," Scootaloo pointed out. "I kinda thought you would have already known everything there was to know about their history."

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes apathetically.

"History, schmistory. Those Wonderbolt history books are too thick and too full of useless information. Their basic origin was all I really needed to know to get into the Reserves. Who cares about what kind of flight patterns they performed for General Whatshisface some hundred years ago, or which badges he awarded them? Or any other little tidbits of information that don't have any relevance to the Wonderbolts today?"

"You're right," Scootaloo said with a nod. "Research is boring."

Rainbow chuckled. "You will go far, Scoot."

Scootaloo grinned with content and took another sip of lemonade.

"You know, the first time I tried to get into the Wonderbolts was the day I first performed a Sonic Rainboom," Rainbow said after taking another quick glace out the window. "I was told that I was too young to join at the time, but if I could perform the Rainboom again, they would consider me when I was old enough. They wanted to make sure that my doing it the first time wasn't just a fluke. I thought it would be easy enough, particularly since I had just pulled it off without even trying. But I couldn't have been more wrong. I tried for weeks, flying as hard and as fast as I could, but it never happened. I wasn't able to perform the Rainboom again."

Rainbow ended her last sentence with a sigh.

"The only other time I had ever been as disappointed as I was then was when Cloudsdale was passed up for the Equestria Games. It felt like my one and only chance to join the Wonderbolts had just slipped through my hooves. I didn't understand how I had managed to do it the first time without even trying, but was unable to do it again when I was trying my hardest. And it certainly didn't help that...," Rainbow went silent, narrowing her eyes while looking down at her glass.

"That what?"

"I don't really want to talk about that part," Rainbow sighed. "Let's just say that there was somepony who didn't really believe that I would ever become a Wonderbolt. We eventually parted ways and I told him that the next time he would see me, I would be wearing a Wonderbolt uniform."

"Oh..." said Scootaloo, feeling a bit uncomfortable at that information.

"Anyway, I was never able to do the Sonic Rainboom again until the Best Young Flyer Competion," Rainbow continued. "So I ended up missing my chance of getting in at an early age. But you know what? That doesn't even matter to me anymore. It may have taken me some time, but I've just about made it. And soon enough, I'll finally be able to prove him wrong."

Scootaloo swirled the ice around in her glass, a frown suddenly forming on her face.

"Must be nice to have a career in mind from such a young age. I still don't have any idea of what I'm going to do with my own life, especially if...well, you know..."

"I'm sure you'll figure it out soon enough," Rainbow said comfortingly. "Twilight tells me that you've become pretty good at fixing things up."

Scootaloo shrugged.

"Only if I have a manual or something helping me out. It's not that impressive. At our last Twilight Time, Apple Bloom was able to create a perfect plant potion without instructions, and Sweetie Belle can now levitate multiple objects at once. I'm not really improving as quickly as they are."

"I'm sure you're better than you think you are," said Rainbow. "It's not like mechanical work is that easy."

"Well, I don't really think it's going to get me my cutie mark anymore," Scootaloo replied, continuing to swirl the ice around in her glass. "And I don't really have anything else I can fall back on like Sweetie Belle does."

"What do you mean?" asked Rainbow with a cock of her head.

"I think Sweetie Belle could be a great writer someday," explained Scootaloo. "She wrote and directed an entire play, and she's the one who came up with most of the lyrics for our song way back when we were working on our talent show performance. I was the one who was supposed to be writing the lyrics, but I couldn't really come up with anything. If she ever decided to put a lot of effort into it, it could easily get her a cutie mark."

"So Sweetie Belle might get her cutie mark a little earlier than you. No biggie. I know you three have been trying to get them at the same time for the same thing, but that just isn't how it usually works," said Rainbow Dash.

"The point is that she has something else to fall back on, even if she doesn't get her cutie mark in something magic-related," Scootaloo replied. "And that's another thing. Sweetie Belle and I really used to have something in common. She couldn't do magic, and I couldn't fly. But that's over now. She can do magic, and she's getting really good at it. I hate to admit it, but....I envy her."

Rainbow frowned. Her excitement over the incoming letter suddenly diminished.

"Come on, Scoot. You're the coolest filly I know. Sooner or later, you're going to find something that you totally rock at."

Scootaloo smiled, responding to the compliment. "I hope so."

From the corner of her eye, Rainbow Dash noticed movement just outside the window. She turned her head to see that a pegasus had just landed upon the base of her home. Excitement rushed through her veins once again, increasing her heart rate exponentially.

"Ohmigosh, ohmigosh, ohmigosh, he's here!" she cried enthusiastically, jumping up from her seat. Scootaloo quickly gulped down the remainder of her lemonade and followed after Rainbow as she rushed out of the kitchen.

Realizing that she was most likely prepared to tackle the mailpony in order to find her letter, Rainbow paused at the front door to calm herself down. She took several deep breaths, letting her anticipation settle. Scootaloo appeared by her side, offering her a comforting smile.

There was a sudden knock on the door, at which Rainbow squinted her eyes with confusion. The only time mailponies ever knocked on the door was when they were delivering a package, and she hadn't been expecting one.

Unless...he was delivering her Wonderbolt uniform...

Could it be? The first letter had not mentioned that she would be getting a uniform delivered. She had assumed that she would be given the uniform once she had showed up for the exercises, and she did not even expect that she would be able to keep it. But she was unsure of what else it could possibly be. Perhaps this was it. Perhaps this was finally the day...

Rainbow Dash swung the door open with as much excitement and vigor as she had when she rushed over to it, her efforts to calm herself down ultimately amounting to naught. However, that excitement subsided almost immediately when she was starting face-to-face with the stallion who stood on her doorstep.

It was instantly obvious that he was no mailpony. He was not wearing any appropriate mailpony apparel, nor was he carrying a bag of letters or any packages. Instead, he wore a charcoal-colored dress suit with a matching tie. His mane was delicately slicked back and so refined with wax that it gleamed brightly in the sun. He was not particularly old, though the weariness of an aged life was present in his face. He wore a solemn expression, indicating to Rainbow that he was not about to deliver anything that even resembled good news. She avoided looking at his cutie mark.

"I...," Rainbow started, unsure of what she wanted to say.

"Rainbow Dash?" he asked in a low, yet stern voice.

"Y-yes?" Rainbow responded, suddenly wishing that she was not.

The stallion looked down at Scootaloo, prompting her to take an uncomfortable step back. His eyes then returned to meet Rainbow's, which glistened with troubling anticipation.

"My name is Mr. Grimmtock, and it is my deepest regret to inform you that your father, Rainbow Blaze, has passed away," he said with a slight bow of his head.

Scootaloo gasped. The words passed through Rainbow Dash as though she were an Everfree Forest cloud. Numbness began to overtake her body as they slowly sank deeply into her mind.

"What...?" she replied in a half-whisper.

"I'm sorry. I hate to be the one to tell you this. As you are his only next-of-kin, I'm also to tell you that should you wish to arrange a funeral, we'll need to see you at Fallen Skies Funeral Home in Cloudsdale. Of course, you can—"

"Wait...stop! Just stop!" Rainbow cried with frustration. "How...when did this happen?!"

"Forgive me, I got a bit ahead of myself," said Grimmtock, bowing his head again. "He passed last night. Unfortunately, the illness that he contracted in the weeks before his death has claimed his life."

Rainbow went silent as his words continued to settle into her mind.

"What...what illness?" she asked, her voice barely trailing above a whisper once again.

Grimmtock blinked with surprise.

"I assumed you knew about it. He apparently came down with a terrible cough about two weeks ago and spent a few days in the hospital. The doctors prescribed him with some pills that helped with his cough and he was eventually discharged. However, a few days ago, he returned to the hospital after he found his cough getting worse. He was placed into urgent care and at that point, it was discovered that he had an infection around his heart and lungs. The doctors performed surgery but they found that the infection had spread too far, and...he passed shortly after that."

Rainbow stared at him in dead silence, completely unaware that any of this had occurred. Scootaloo looked up at her sorrowfully. Grimmtock waited several seconds before speaking again.

"As I said, we'll need to see you in Cloudsdale to plan the funeral arrangements. You can come on your own time, of course, but we would prefer it to be within the next few days. Naturally, the sooner the arrangements are made, the sooner the funeral will take place. I assume that you know the place in question?"

Rainbow nodded slowly, her eyes locked into a stare that was so devoid of emotion that she appeared to be staring directly into an empty, desolate abyss without a single trace of light or hope anywhere to be found.

"Well, then, that's all I have," he continued. "Again, I am terribly sorry for your loss, and for being the one who had to pass this information to you. We expect to see you in Cloudsdale soon."

Grimmtock bowed a third time and turned away, taking several steps before finally opening his wings and zipping into the air. Rainbow Dash slowly shut the door, reeling from everything she had just heard.

"I...I don't even know what to say...," Scootaloo squeaked, tears falling swiftly from her eyes. She stood up on her hind legs and threw her tiny forehooves around Rainbow's neck. "I'm so, so sorry, Rainbow Dash!"

Rainbow said nothing, her hooves fixed to the spot as though they were tied down. She had forgotten all about the Wonderbolts, all about the letter, all about the uniform. She couldn't remember waking up that morning, busting the clouds, or playing with the young pegasus filly who now clung to her neck. Everything that had happened before she opened the door had erased itself from her memory.

Her father was dead. The thought circulated throughout her mind over and over again. It was not as though she was having difficulty accepting it, rather than she was unsure of how she felt about it. He had been her last living parent, as she had lost her mother shortly after she was born. It was he from whom she had inherited her multi-colored mane and tail, and it was also he from whom she had received her name. Their relationship had been rocky on occasion, but that was not to imply she did not care about him—that she would not have come rushing back to Cloudsdale had she known about his illness. An entire spectrum of feelings and emotions flooded throughout her body, but a strong sense of failure prevailed above all of them.

Because now her father would never see her wear a Wonderbolt uniform.

She had forever lost her chance to prove him wrong.

Scootaloo continued to weep, not particularly for the death of a pony she never knew, but purely out of sorrow for Rainbow Dash, especially since she had opened the door expecting something entirely different. Not a single tear permeated from Rainbow's eyes. Her body remained numb, her emotions remained scrambled. She felt as though she had fallen backwards into a very bad dream. A dream that had suddenly become her life. A dream she would never be able to wake up from. In the blink of an eye, everything had changed forever. And she was not even the slightest bit ready for it.

"Scootaloo," Rainbow said in a whisper. "Please don't tell anypony about this."

Scootaloo released her grasp on Rainbow's neck and wiped her eyes.

"W-why not?"

"Just...just don't," Rainbow sighed, her voice remaining low. "For now, this stays between me and you. Please, promise me that you won't tell anypony about it."

"Okay, I won't tell anypony," Scootaloo sighed. She looked up into Rainbow's sullen eyes. "Are you...going to be okay?"

Rainbow stared at her silently for several seconds. "I...I don't know..."

Scootaloo softly nuzzled her side. "I'll stay with you for as long as you need."

A sudden burst of warmth spread throughout Rainbow's body, diminishing the numbness.

"Thanks, Scoot," she said with her lip curling upwards to form a half-hearted smile.

"Do you want to talk?"

Rainbow shook her head. "I...really just want to lay down."

Rainbow opened her wings and rose to the top level of her home. She entered her bedroom and plopped down on the bed without a second thought. She did not want to think. She did not want to reflect. All she wanted to do was close her eyes and pretend for the briefest of moments that this was not her new reality. That her father was still alive and well. That her chance to prove him wrong had not yet expired.

She suddenly felt her foreleg lift up as a tiny filly curled up underneath it, her head nestling against Rainbow's side. An even stronger burst of warmth spread from her heart, and she tightly wrapped her foreleg around Scootaloo. Rainbow allowed her mind to go blank, and within an hour, she drifted asleep alongside her. Reality would come crashing down upon her once again when she regained consciousness, but for now, she had managed to find an escape, if only for a little while.

Meanwhile, just outside, the mailpony finally arrived to drop off a single letter in the mailbox.