Three Gems and a Scooter

by RaylanKrios

Families Don't Fight

Scootaloo’s dance recital wasn’t for a few months, and in the interim life proceeded as normal.  To Rarity’s delight there weren’t any threats to Equestria requiring the Elements of Harmony to again band together, nor did Twilight’s map call her away to mediate any friendship disputes. In the absence of existential threats, Rarity focused on her business and trying to make Scootaloo accept that she finally found a home.

The business side was going fine, Sassy Saddles was proving to be an adept store manager for the Canterlot location of The Carousel Boutique and her shop in Ponyville continued to have its robust stream of customers. A few investors had approached her about opening up a Manehattan branch, and possibly expanding to Prance, but even if she didn’t have a new family to care for Rarity wasn’t ready to expand her business yet. Still, it was nice to think about as a possible future endeavor.

But no matter how busy she got, Thursday afternoon spa treatments with Fluttershy were a sacred covenant, only to be broken under the most dire of circumstances.  

Fluttershy dropped another ladle of water onto the hot rocks, the resulting steam momentarily obscuring her vision and the pair eased into the lounge chairs sauna, letting the heat wash over them. “How’s Scootaloo doing?” Fluttershy asked, wrapping a towel around her mane.

“She’s doing...well, I think.” Rarity sighed. “She’s still closed off and I know that’s just how she is and I don’t expect her to pour her heart out, but it’d be nice if I didn’t have to dig quite so much.”

Fluttershy nodded, being familiar with both the Scootaloo’s attitude and what it was like to wall oneself off. “She’ll come around. I mean do you remember how shy I was when you first met me? And now I can sing on stage and everything, only if no one is watching of course.”

“I suppose you are right, dear,” Rarity said with a smile. “Anyways, that’s enough of that, this is supposed to be a relaxing afternoon, what do you say to a couple of mud masks, my treat.”

Rarity returned home from the spa, much more serene than when she left; until she walked through the door and all the stress that had been massaged away came flooding back. From the foyer she could see that there existed a pile of dough caked bowls in the sink. When she walked into the kitchen, that was only one part of the mess. The floor was caked in a thin layer of flour and what could only generously be described as a cake sat half frosted on the counter.  It wasn’t the first time she had come home to a messy kitchen. Sometimes it was crusader business, others just Scootaloo wanting a snack. At first Rarity tried to be understanding (Just do better next time okay?), then she had tried being diplomatic (Remember how we talked about trying a little harder to put your dishes away), but this time she was in no mood to be either.

“Scootaloo!” Rarity bellowed at the top of her lungs. In a few moments Scootaloo came bounding down the stairs, an annoyed expression on her face.

“Scootaloo, would you like to explain to me, why my kitchen is a mess?” Rarity asked as Scootaloo rounded into view.  

“We were trying to get baking cutie marks,” Scootaloo said as though that was a perfectly valid explanation.

“I see, and did you not think of maybe cleaning up your mess,” Rarity replied, her anger starting to boil over.

Scootaloo shrugged. “I’ll do it later. You promised not to make me do chores all time,” she said, a slight edge creeping into her voice.

“This isn’t about doing your chores, this is your kitchen too and I expect you to take some small measure of pride in how it looks.”

At the remark Scootaloo arched her back ever so slightly and dug her front hooves into the floor. “If it’s my kitchen, then I’m fine with a few dirty dishes in the sink. Everything doesn’t have to be spotlessly clean, all the time!” Scootaloo fired back.

“Scootaloo if you don’t clean your mess up right now, so help me,” Rarity said through gritted teeth. When she was younger her mother used a similar threat, looking back Rarity had always thought it was because the unknown was more terrifying than any possible punishment but now she knew that it was because she simply didn’t know how to finish that sentence. But Scootaloo neither moved toward the counter, nor did she say anything and Rarity’s anger clouded her judgement enough to where she couldn’t distinguish the expression on Scootaloo’s face. She groaned in frustration, releasing a most un-ladylike grunt. “Oh just go, I don’t want to see you right now.”

Rarity was too angry to notice Scootaloo’s eyes growing wider before she turned around and sprinted up the stairs, but she did hear the very telltale slam of Scootaloo’s bedroom door.

It wasn’t as though Scootaloo’s being upset didn’t concern her, but the mess in her kitchen presented a more dire issue. She sighed and magically pulled her mop from the corner while she began to scour the more stubborn remnant of dried dough off of her mixing bowls. She seethed as she swept the crumbs off from the countertops and she was practically boiling by the time she wrung the mop free of the last bits of floury residue from the floor.

Scootaloo was grounded that much was certain, the only question was if she would ever be allowed to see the light of day before she graduated high school. And she was definitely not allowed to ride her scooter for the next year, that seemed fair. Rarity wasn’t so cruel as to tell her she couldn’t interact with her friends, but for the foreseeable future that would be restricted to school and letter writing. Finally Scootaloo was going to spend her entire weekend scouring every last nook and cranny in the Boutique, using only a toothbrush.  

The evening grew later, and Scootaloo still didn’t emerge from her room. Rarity had calmed down by this point. For one, she had decided against taking Scootaloo’s scooter away, that seemed disproportionate. And the orange filly would be allowed to see the light of the sun again, after a week and no she wasn’t about to make her clean the house with a toothbrush. But Rarity did feel as though she was owed some form of apology, so she busied herself sketching designs until Scootaloo saw fit to offer one. Eventually, Rarity grew tired of waiting for Scootaloo to see the error of her ways and took the initiative herself.

She made a concerted effort to push down any residual anger she was feeling. Scootaloo needed to be held accountable but it did nopony any good if she instigated another screaming match.

Rarity reached the door and softly knocked three times. “Scootaloo?”

“Go away, I don’t want to see you right now,” Scootaloo called from behind the locked door, echoing Rarity’s sentiments from earlier.

“That may be true, but I wish to see you.” An afternoon with Twilight had calibrated all the locks on Rarity’s house to respond to her particular magical energy resonance, it was more practice for Twilight, but Rarity did like the thought that only she could open any door in her house. A quick horn flare was all it took before she heard the telltale “thunk” of the bolt sliding back into the door and she promptly entered.

Scootaloo had assumed the posture familiar to parents everywhere, lying on her stomach with her face buried into her pillow. Upon hearing the creak of the door, she looked over her shoulder, her eyes bloodshot.

“Just say it,”she croaked out throatly before Rarity had a chance to speak.

“Say what?”

“That this isn’t working out and you want me to be happy and that you think it’d be best for both of us if you wrote to Autumn and told him to start looking for somepony else to adopt me.”

And with that Rarity’s idea to punish Scootaloo was stopped dead in its tracks. “That’s what you think I came in here to say?”

“I don’t know.” As Scootaloo said that the last bit of the self control she had crumbled, leaving a quivering filly in place of the defiant Scootaloo that had been there before. “I’m sorry,” Scootaloo choked through the tears. Before Rarity could say anything Scootaloo continued, her words difficult to discern through her muffled sobs. “I’m sorry okay, please don’t, I’m sorry.”

Faced with the heart wrenching scene Rarity couldn’t do anything other than open her forelegs to invite Scootaloo in for a hug. Scootaloo hesitated for only a second before stumbled forward and buried herself into Rarity’s coat. Rarity was taken aback by the desperation that Scootaloo clung to her with and she didn’t say anything for a full minute, instead option to gingerly stroke Scootaloo’s soft purple mane.  “It's okay, I’m sorry too,” she said, continuing her efforts to calm Scootaloo down.

Scootaloo instantly froze, the words I’m sorry having been offered as a precursor to bad news far too often. I’m sorry that you’re not happy, I’m sorry that this isn’t going to work, I’m sorry but I can’t adopt you. She let out a pitiful yelp that caused Rarity to squeeze her in a gesture of reassurance.

“I owe you an apology. The way I reacted was, well it was completely uncalled for.”

Scootaloo fidgeted from within the embrace, her tail shaking and her ears pinned back against her head, unsure what to say to avoid  instigating anything further. Rarity continued, “But I’m also sorry that the first thing that comes to mind when I raise my voice is that you think I'm considering giving you up.”

“Well you are, aren't you?” Her voice was still ragged but the briefest hint of fire flashed in her eyes. 

“No, I'm not. And I wouldn't dream of it either.”

“Do you really mean that?”

Those five words set off an epiphany. For the past four months Rarity had been telling herself that her strategy of being patient was working. Slow going as it may be eventually Scootaloo would realize that she had found a family and then all of her self esteem problems would disappear.  But now it was apparent her prognostication was flawed.  Scootaloo’s fear of abandonment ran far deeper than just needing some superficial sense of  security, which meant that Scootaloo would need actual, professional help.  But now wasn’t the time to dwell on that, she still had an emotionally distraught filly to comfort. “Of course I do.” Rarity let those words hang in the air, not daring to add any qualifiers, because there weren’t any.  

Scootaloo’s eyes grew wider but she didn’t offer any other reactions.

“I also need to remind you that, as your official guardian, it's also my unfortunate responsibility to discipline you from time to time.”

Scootaloo instinctively tensed her muscles and gritted her teeth, but in an admirable act of self control she restricted her outburst to a demure,“What do you mean?”

“This isn't the first time that our kitchen has been the victim of your... baking attempts.”

“But we were sure that this time we would get our cutie marks,” Scootaloo responded, somewhat indignantly.

Rarity ignored the excuse and pressed onward.  “And though I've tried to be as, shall we say, lax, about it as possible, I do expect you clean up after yourself. You're old enough to take responsibility for your actions.”

“I'll help you clean it, right now, even!” Scootaloo pushed herself away from Rarity and leaped off the bed, only to be caught in a blue glow that pulled her back.

“I cleaned it already, Scootaloo. So, I'm grounding you, for a week,” Rarity said, careful to keep her voice even keeled.

“That’s not fair.”  Scootaloo pouted.

“I think it’s plenty fair. It shouldn't take the threat of punishment to make you want to clean up after yourself.”

Scootaloo stared intently at the ground and Rarity just looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

“But I said I was sorry,” Scootaloo said as a final measure of protest, still looking at the ground.

“And I forgive you.”  Rarity sighed. “We need to be able to fight without this happening,” she said, deciding to broach the obvious topic.

"What are you talking about?”

"We have to be able to live with each other, including an occasional squabble, without you thinking that I'm going to send you away."

Scootaloo’s head jerked up sharply. “What are you talking about? Families don’t fight.”

Rarity laughed, the sound breaking the quiet tension that had been building. “How long have you known me and Sweetie? Applebloom and Applejack? You can’t really believe that families don’t fight.”

Scootaloo was forced to consider that statement.  She had spent so long holding onto this idealized picture of what a family would be like that she had conveniently forgotten to consider what she knew about the actual families in her life and not just Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom. Rainbow Dash only talked about her Dad, and never very much and she had seen Dinky argue with her mother at Sugar Cube Corner. There was no reason that she and Rarity should be any different.

“You really weren’t going to send me to Baltimare?” she replied, still pondering the implications of Rarity’s previous statement.

“No.” Rarity paused and smiled softly. “When I was downstairs, cleaning your mess, I swore I was going to ground you and take away your scooter and make you scrub the entire house til it was spotless. But never once did I even think of you not living here anymore.”

“Oh,” Scootaloo said quietly. “You’re not going to take away my scooter are you?”

“No.” Feeling emboldened Rarity dared to press her luck. “I know that trusting ponies is hard for you, but you owe me the benefit of the doubt.” Rarity was careful not to phrase her statement as a request, I’d like it if you would or a demand.  It was simply a statement of fact; Rarity had demonstrated her goodwill enough that it was high time Scootaloo met her halfway, and that included not worrying that the slightest transgression was going to end their relationship.

“I don’t know if I can,” Scootaloo whispered, the flood of memories where she was continually cast aside screaming at her. The next thing she knew she was bathed in a familiar blue light as the accompanying warming sensation washed over her.  Rarity stood up and proceeded to tuck Scootaloo into bed, while Scootaloo lay still, unable to stop the happy whinny that escaped her throat.

“Can you try?” Rarity asked softly, releasing Scootaloo from the swaddling spell after she had secured the blankets around her shoulders.

Scootaloo nodded. “I can do that.”