• Published 19th Feb 2014
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Scootaloo's Growth: from Baby to Champion - Never2muchpinkie



Scootaloo's life starting from an attack as a baby, her adoption, and growing up through her struggles with her wings, culminating in a final race against her lifetime idol to show her worth.

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Chapter 7: The big race: Scootaloo vs Rainbow Dash

It was a bright sunny day. The perfect weather for an epic race. Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash gathered all their friends and family to the park to watch, Rainbow Dash having set up a course for the two of them in advance. The race was to be one big lap.

Twilight made sure to get some time off for that day, using the excuse that it was to check up on Scootaloo’s healing progress. After all, as a princess, it would be rude to ignore the hero that had helped protect the town from being attacked.

Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash approached the starting line, Scootaloo on her scooter and Rainbow Dash walking.

Rainbow Dash felt a thrill in her heart to finally be having a proper race with her pupil. She had done her duty of repaying her debt so, at the end of this, she was ready to resubmit her application for the Wonderbolts Academy. She knew she would be able to raise her head high and be proud of herself now.

She stretched out her wings and body, preparing herself for the upcoming race. She was ready!

When she glanced over at Scootaloo she saw her sister just standing there unmoving, a hoof on the ground to keep herself upright. “You ready for this, Scootaloo?”

“I’m fine!” she replied in an annoyed voice. “You just worry about yourself.”

“Hmmm…” Rainbow Dash stared at Scootaloo. There was a negative air around her student.Rainbow guessed it was simple nerves. This was Scootaloo’s first real race, after all. Once they got going she was sure her sis would perk up.

Twilight stood off to the side, feeling a strange sense of anticipation too. She didn’t have a lot of interest in racing, but this was more than just a race. It was also to show Scootaloo’s progress and how far she had grown. She had first come to this town an unsocial loner, and then learned what friendship was all about so thoroughly she eventually became an alicorn princess. She was eager to see how the years had changed Scootaloo.

The starting point was on a big circular platform, allowing each of the watchers to keep track of every part of the race. They were to take off from there, go around the circle of the path, and wind up back where they began.

“Alright, then!” Twilight said. “On your marks… get set… ” Both Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo opened their wings, gently flapping them. “GO!”

The two of them took off, Rainbow flying and Scootaloo scootering. Scootaloo hopped off the platform onto the track, zooming along. Rainbow Dash flew alongside her, still looking at her. Scootaloo still had that look on her face. It wasn’t plain old focus. It was just… dead. She didn’t look excited or happy at all. “Are you sure you’re alright, Scootaloo?”

“I told you, I’m fine!” She went faster, trying to get away, but Rainbow Dash easily kept pace with her.

“You don’t look fine. You don’t even look like you’re enjoying yourself.”

“I’m not here to “enjoy myself,” she said sarcastically. “I’m here to win!”

That settled it. It was exactly what she thought. “So that’s how it is, huh? You’re so focused on the thought of victory you’ve completely lost sight of yourself as a racer.

“Anypony can win. Nothing to it. Everypony has something they’re good at, so winning isn’t difficult. But a true disciple of Rainbow Dash knows that it’s not about winning. It’s about winning with style, capturing the audience and giving them something to watch. You’re just going along, stiff as a board, focusing only on the end goal of winning and forgetting that there is a race in-between.” With a big sigh she continued, “I can’t get into a race like that. I was so eager to compete against you. What an utter disappointment you turned out to be.

“If the win is the only thing that matters to you, then fine. It’s yours. You win. This isn’t worth my time or energy. I quit!” And with that she raced ahead to the tree in front of her and laid back in it, her hooves behind her head.

***

I came to a stop near the tree, and tears began coming down my eyes as I saw I had done it again. I had completely let Rainbow Dash down, so much so that I made her quit, something she never did.

I had the chance of a lifetime and I had blown it. She was right. She was totally right. I did lose sight of myself and was too focused on victory.

I propped my scooter against a tree, then flew up to the branch she was sitting on. Her eyes were closed. I waited. I knew she was going to give me some time to think about the lesson she had just taught me before she acknowledged me, so anything I said now wasn’t going to make her talk to me.

***

“What happened?” asked Star Gazer. “Why’d they stop?”

“Rainbow Dash stopped first,” said Applejack. “But she’s not a quitter. I don’t get it.”

“Maybe they got into an argument,” suggested Fluttershy.

“Oh, come now, darling,” said Rarity. “Do you really think a little bit of trash talking is enough to get under Rainbow Dash’s skin that much?”

“There’s something behind this,” said Twilight. “Scootaloo seemed awfully tense. Maybe Rainbow stopped the race for that.”

“Well, you ain’t an alicorn fer nothin’, huh, Twilight?” said Applejack.

***

It had been about five minutes. Rainbow Dash finally opened her eyes, meeting mine. She glared at me, not saying anything. She didn’t have to. I got the message.

“I’m so sorry, Rainbow Dash. You were right. You were right about everything. I… I was…” I sighed in defeat. “I was scared. I was too scared to race you and lose. And it was more than just about my grandmare’s last wish. I wanted it for me personally, to feel like I had actually made a lot of progress and become an adult. I practiced for many hours on tricks, but… when I got here and we were going to start, because you’re the best of the best around here, I thought that I couldn’t enjoy myself. I thought if I wasted any time with stunts or messed around even a little than I wouldn’t stand a chance. You’d just overtake me and I’d never be able to close the gap. So that’s why I was so intensely focused on the end goal. I didn’t think I had any choice if I wanted even the slightest chance of winning.”

I felt some more tears come down my eyes. “I’m such an idiot! I wasn’t thinking about you or the audience at all. I wasn’t thinking about how the fact that you even challenged me at all had to mean I was growing up. I was being stupid, and I know it.

“I’m really sorry, Rainbow Dash. Will you give me another chance? Please? I won’t do it again.”

She turned over and stood up, still staring at me, then with a grin she pushed me out of the tree. With a quick motion I landed on her back before I hit the ground, and she picked up my scooter as we headed back towards the starting line. “One chance, kid. One! I’m not putting my all into a boring race or a race I just can’t get into because I’m going against a sourpuss. You mess this up again, and I’m not giving you a third chance. Understand?”

“Yes! You know me. I’m good at learning from my mistakes.”

“No doubt about that.”

When we landed back on the starting platform Twilight came up to us and asked, “What happened?”

“Nerves,” said Rainbow Dash simply. “Just as I thought. I had to shock her out of it, so I told her I wasn’t going to race her while she was acting like that.”

“So I was correct.”

“I want to have a proper race with her. Racing is supposed to be fun. If it’s not fun than it’s a chore, and only weirdo’s like Spike like doing chores.”

“Hey!” cried out Spike as laughter broke out.

I finally spoke up when it quieted down. “Yeah, that’s right. Like she told me, I was only focused on winning, and I forgot there was a race in-between. Yeah, that would be the story of a lifetime for my kids. I’d tell them about my first big race: “Rainbow Dash was zooming and zipping around, doing all sorts of tricks.”” Doing a kiddy voice I said, “And what did you do?” Making the most boring voice and face I could I said flatly, “I rode in a straight line.”

Everyone burst out laughing now.

“Alright, Scootaloo,” said Twilight when everything settled down. “Are you ready to start again?”

“No,” I responded honestly. “After all those negative emotions I need a little bit of time to get myself back in the right state of mind for an epic race. Otherwise, this race will be no fun at all.”

“Smart move, kid,” Rainbow Dash said, tapping my head with her hoof.

I went over to mom, and without a word I hugged her. As she held me back she said, “I love you, Scootaloo.”

“I love you, too,” I said back, feeling her love filling me up. “I’m sorry for being dumb.”

“Well, there’s always another lesson to be learned. Our princess can attest to that.”

“Yeah.”

When I let go I sat on the ground, calling Rose Blossom over to sit on my lap. I held her too, shaking off those feelings that had been holding me back.

“Race time?” she asked.

“Almost, sis. Right now I need some hugs.”

“Yay! Love you, Scootieloo.”

I had to laugh. I was sure she’d get it right someday. Right now I thought it was too cute to correct her. “I love you too.”

After a few minutes I told her to go back to our mom. I spent the next ten minutes going back to basics. I focused entirely on my breathing, taking measured in’s and out’s. After that I stood up, going through my wing stretches.

With a final deep breath I stared determinedly at Rainbow Dash. Physically… mentally… I was ready! “Let’s do this!”

Rainbow Dash returned my gaze the same way. “Oh, yeah! Now that’s the look! Now I’m starting to feel excited again.”

As we both went back to the starting line I said, “Hey! Where’s our cheering section?”

Sweetie Belle called out, “Go Scootaloo! Show that Rainbow Dash!”

Applejack looked hesitant for a moment, but then she said, “Go on, Rainbow Dash! Show that upstart who’s boss. I’m the only one that can beat ya!”

I had ponies cheering for me, and ponies cheering against me. That was fine. Rainbow Dash needed some encouragement too.

I could really feel it. The thrill that only comes from the thought of the biggest event of your life. I was racing against Rainbow Dash, the best flier in Equestria. This was everything I had fought for since I met her. My grandmare’s dream, my own dream. A lot was on the line for me. I had almost squandered it with my stupid thoughts, but not now. Win or lose, I was going to give it my all and hold nothing back. I would give everyone a show to remember. It was time to see what I was really made of, and if I was really as good as I thought I was.

I was so eager to get going I was shaking in anticipation.

“Anxious to start, huh, Scootaloo?” said Rainbow Dash. “Now I feel that this will be worth my time. You’ll make a good opponent.”

“Only good, huh?” I responded with a grin. “Let’s see if I can’t change your mind about that before the end.”

“Sounds good to me, kid. I’m not holding back, so you better not either.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.”

Twilight raised her hoof as our crowd kept shouting out encouragement for us. “On your mark… get set…” Just like before, we both opened our wings and began flapping them in preparation. “GO!” she yelled as she lowered her hoof.

And so it began. The race of my dreams. I hopped off the platform onto the ground, Rainbow Dash keeping pace with me. I smiled at her. She smiled back at me. “How is it?” she asked.

I didn’t have to ask what. We had only started, but I loved the feeling of adrenaline rushing through my body. “It feels amazing.”

“I’ll catch you later, kid,” she said with a wink, speeding ahead and heading up into the air.

I wasn’t going to fall back immediately. This was what I had been training for. With a smirk I jumped my scooter near a small tree branch. As I grabbed the branch and started going up from the momentum I launched my scooter diagonally up, spinning for a few rotations before I launched myself. With my speed I easily caught up to it. Landing on it again I flapped my wings hard. “Hi, Rainbow Dash!” I said as I passed her in the air, heading back down.

“Heh. You cheeky little showoff!” she said with a laugh. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way! Bring it on!”

I landed my scooter, dodging between trees. I came upon a hill up ahead and jumped it, spinning rapidly before landing straight in the path. Up in the air I could see Rainbow Dash making rapid infinity symbols, making a small tornado form. With a backflip she raced toward it, letting it boost her forward.

I pushed ahead, heading towards a cluster of trees. I jumped, grabbing onto a branch and letting the momentum thrust me forward. I did it again and again on each tree and soon enough I caught up to her. At the last tree I waited a little longer so I could propel myself into the air. “Rainbow Dash!” I called out, putting my hoof out.

She turned to me with a smile, lowering herself a little and smacking my hoof when I was on her level. When I landed she came down near the ground too. “You’re doing good so far, kid. Can you keep up the pace?”

“Why don’t you ask yourself that, Rainbow Dash?”

With a smirk she said, “Well, if we’re supposed to be entertaining the audience why don’t we team up for a little while? There will be plenty of time to beat your flank later.”

“What do you mean, team up?”

“This!”

I let out a little squeak as she suddenly flew above me and grabbed me, lifting me high up into the air and throwing me. I let instinct guide me as I started doing twists and spins. Rainbow matched my downward spiral with loops of her own, creating a big tornado to propel me back upwards. Rising up she began condensing cloud patches and I had to let out a laugh at the ridiculousness of me actually riding in the sky. Rainbow kept making paths ahead of me, forcing me to go in all different directions. Sometimes she went slower so I’d have to ride in circles until she finished.

She actually made a small obstacle course for me, making a set of small tilted clouds I had to rapidly jump diagonally back and forth on. Since they were tinier they only held my weight for a second before collapsing.

After a while of this test I did a front flip over her and put out my hooves. She grabbed on to me and I kicked my hooves up at the same instant, causing my scooter to fly up into the air. The two of us spun rapidly until we neared the ground, then Rainbow threw me forward. I flapped my wings, grabbing the handlebars of my scooter and doing a flip so I could land on it.

I couldn’t suppress a giddy laugh, happy tears coming down my eyes. This was the most fun I have ever had in my life. I was actually racing against Rainbow Dash! It was a dream come true. She saw me as a worthy opponent. It was a huge honor to me. And getting to do team up to do tricks was just icing on the cake.

Rainbow sped up until she was next to me, grinning from ear to ear. “Now this is what I was talking about. This is a race worth my time. I’m having a blast playing around with you.”

Playing around?” I snorted. “Still not taking me seriously, huh? I guess it’s time to step it up.”

“Bring… it… on! Everything you’ve got, kid! Give it your all and hold nothing back. I expect to have a lot more fun before this is over so don’t let me down!”

The two of us both zoomed ahead, just trying to show off our speed. Back and forth we went, none of us having a clear lead. I knew she could go faster. So could I. I just didn’t want to burn myself out in the middle of the race. I came upon a low branch and tilted my scooter, sliding underneath it before pulling back up. When I came upon another one I jumped, doing a front flip before landing on my scooter upside down. I began using my back hooves to steer as I jumped from tree branch to tree branch without touching the ground. It was extremely difficult, but after passing through the last tree in line I hopped off, landing on top of the handle bars and using just the power of my wings to stop gravity from knocking me either forward or backwards off of it.

The race fell into a pattern. Every time one of us would get a lead we’d start taking the time to show off for our audience.

A lot of my tricks always took flying into account. I was really good at launching my scooter and flying after it to get myself in a position to do my stunts.

In terms of style and position in the race I thought we were about equal, so it would come down to who crossed the finish line first. I had done a good job of pacing myself, making sure to keep enough stamina for the final push. I’m sure she had too. She wasn’t stupid. I knew I had to be very careful with that energy I had been saving up. If I used it too soon she would use hers too and win, because she surely had more in reserve than I did.

The race was about to come to an end. There was one more turn before we had to head back to the starting point. I had mostly stayed on the ground, and she had mostly stayed higher up in the air, sometimes doing tricks with clouds.

To get one last trick off I launched my scooter like usual… just as she flew down to get to the finish line. It was headed right for her! “Rainbow Dash! Look out!”

“Huh?” She turned behind her, and I saw her eyes widen as she dodged out of the way.

I let out a sigh of relief as I passed by her, getting back on my scooter, and weakly doing a small rotation. That had been too close.

I made the turn, heading towards the platform where the race would end.

I was in the lead now. That accident had cost Rainbow Dash a few seconds. I felt my heart began racing, and it wasn’t just the end of the race or the possibility of winning. I heard the sound of distorting air, a sound I knew all too well. The sound of the start of a sonic rainboom. She was determined to get that lead back and win the race.

I had to fight not to panic. If she did that she’d win, both the race and in terms of stylish moves. It would be a total defeat. No more holding back! That wasn’t out of desperation, but because of no longer needing to watch my stamina. If I could get to the finish line before she pulled it off I could still at least win the race even if she beat me in style.

***

Rainbow Dash smirked confidently. “Sorry, kid,” she said. “I want to win! I’m not letting you steal this from me.” The air curved around her as she sped up more and more, rapidly closing the gap. “It was fun, but no more playing around. I’m making this race mine!”

She felt the sensation that came right before the explosion, then she looked at Scootaloo and a frown came to her face. With a frustrated growl she said, “Darn it! I can’t. I can’t rainboom here.”

***

I pushed myself to my utmost. When I got close to the platform, I tilted my scooter forward, launching myself from it, hoping that the increased speed would do it. Closer and closer the gap between me and the end of the race came, that same feeling of time distortion coming about. I kept waiting to hear the explosion as it approached. I flapped my wings as hard as I could. So close. So close!

I crossed the finish line! As I came to a stop I half-expected to see Rainbow Dash already there, but she came in a second after me.

A bunch of cheers went through the crowd. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle were hopping up and down in excitement.

For a moment I felt the thrill of victory, but it immediately went sour. I went up to Rainbow Dash and I angrily gave her a smack. The cheering immediately stopped. “What was that?” I snapped. “I told you not to hold back!”

“I didn’t hold back!” she said furiously.

“Don’t lie to me! I heard the sound of a sonic rainboom starting. You deliberately didn’t do it. I don’t want a fake victory!”

“I DIDN’T HOLD BACK!” she yelled, getting in my face and raising her hoof. I wished she would hit me. I was certainly ready to go at it.

“Alright!” snapped Twilight. “Break it UP!” The last word seemed unnaturally loud, accompanied by a magical bang. “This isn’t going to go anywhere if you just yell at each other.” Her horn glowed again as she pulled the two of us apart. “Rainbow Dash, what do you mean by you didn’t hold back?”

“I can’t believe I even have to explain why. It should be obvious to anyone who has a brain.”

“Answer the question, Rainbow Dash,” she said in an unusually commanding tone.

“Yes, your highness,” she responded condescendingly, giving a fake bow that was clearly meant to be disrespectful.

“You think I held back because I felt bad or something? Don’t kid yourself. I like to win! A sonic rainboom is a technique a pegasus can only use when going at extreme speeds. When it’s reached it sets off a sonic boom. It I had kept going the boom would have gone off right next to Scootaloo, sending her flying into something and getting her hurt. I don’t ever want to have a win that comes at the cost of hurting others. No victory is worth that. That’s all!” She let out a heavy huff, pointedly turning away from all of us and crossing her hooves.

So that was it. I could see I was in the wrong here. I had made some assumptions about her that I shouldn’t have. I went up and sat next to her. “I’m sorry, Rainbow Dash. I messed up again. Even if you held back to avoid me getting hurt I still don’t deserve the win. You wouldn’t have needed to try a sonic rainboom if I hadn’t launched my scooter by you. That cost you a few seconds, so I basically cheated. Let’s just call it a draw and redo it another day.”

She turned to me with a light sigh, the anger gone and replaced with a slightly dejected look. “No… it’s your victory, Scootaloo. I was just sulking before. Luck is a part of skill, and I just had some bad luck today. It was my own fault for not paying attention to what was behind me.

“To be perfectly honest, I fully expected to win. One of the reasons I did this was a test of your abilities. My grand plan was to give you an example of what a real race was like, beat you, and push you into trying easier opponents before building back up to challenging me, this time with even more skill and confidence so that I could go all out. I never expected to lose, especially not so early in your growth.”

She let out a little laugh. “So much for that. I hate to lose. I should be more bummed out, but somehow I just can’t feel that way. I guess I’m just too happy for you.” She pulled me onto her lap, giving me a strong hug. “You better not think you’re hot stuff now, kid. If you think you’re going to have it so easy the next time you’re sorely mistaken.”

“I know that!” I said, holding her back. “The same goes for you!”

I stood back up, now feeling it. “I won! I did it! I WON!” I hopped around in joy, just enjoying my victory as joyful tears came down my eyes. I got into a group hug with Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom, each of us cheering. Rose Blossom joined in, and I threw her on my back to join in on our merriment before running over to Mom and Dad and hugging them too.

“I think this calls for a victory party!” said Pinkie Pie. “Let’s go to Sugarcube Corner.”

I was about to say yes when I suddenly felt my happiness leave me. My throat felt tight, and I knew there was something I had to do. “Not… n-not now. I… I have to go tell somepony of my victory.”

I noticed some of them look around, probably wondering who else there was to tell, as everyone important was already there.

Apple Bloom was one of the ones who didn’t. She came over and hugged me, saying, “Go on, Scootaloo. Tell yer grandmare all about it.” Of course she would get it. Her parents were both dead so she was probably used to going to tell them about important things.

“Rainbow Dash, would you come with me?”

“Of course, Scootaloo,” she said.

“Mom?”

“Yes?” Mom responded.

“Would you take my scooter home? I don’t think it’s respectful to be riding around in a cemetery.”

“Alright. Will you be okay?”

“Yeah, but I think we should save the party until tomorrow.”

“Okie-dokie-lokie!” Pinkie Pie said. “I’ll have everything set up.”

The two of us flew away towards the cemetery. Tears were coming down my eyes as I struggled to keep my composure so I could fly. Rainbow Dash told me to just sit on her back and let her do the flying. I didn’t have the strength to argue. This was the first time I had gone to visit. I had been focusing myself so exclusively on myself and what I was working toward that I didn’t want to go to her grave before this. I didn’t want to get distracted. I wanted to accomplish her final wish for me, and not just cry over her all the time. But today… now… I knew it was finally time. I couldn’t put it off any longer.

When we arrived at the cemetery I got off her back and began walking. With a little help from someone who worked there I found her grave.

As I stared at the name Peach Cobbler I felt my breaths shortening, my legs weakening. I collapsed on the ground, and just let my emotions run free. I cried my eyes out, once more feeling the loss of my biggest supporter. I wouldn’t have anything if it hadn’t been for her. If she hadn’t found me… if she hadn’t took me in… if she hadn’t raised me so lovingly… then I wouldn’t have become the pony I was now. That couldn’t be denied.

Somewhere along my crying fit Rainbow Dash sat down next to me, putting a wing around me. I turned to her, burying my face in her chest and hugging her around the neck.

When I was finally able to settle myself down I gently pulled myself away from Rainbow Dash. I got back on my hooves, feeling loads better. I had grieved properly, and now I was ready for the real reason I had come. I nuzzled her gravestone before closing my eyes and picturing her in my mind. That kind, loving grandmarely look. “Hello, Grandmare,” I said, a smile on my face. “It’s me, Scootaloo. I’m sorry I haven’t come to visit more often, but I’ve been working really hard on my life and finding ways to make you proud. I had my big race against Rainbow Dash today, and I won! At first I almost ruined it by being stupid, but Rainbow Dash helped snap me out of it. Now I have a fantastic and fun memory.

“I may have accomplished your final wish for me, but I’m nowhere near done. I can pause to enjoy my victories and accomplishments, but I can’t sit still too long. There are still way too many goals ahead that I have to achieve.

“I got my cutie mark. It’s a scooter. No surprise there huh? I might as well be named Scooter-loo.” I laughed at my own joke.

“I also have the family I thought I’d never have. The parents of the baby I saved took me in. So now I have a mom and dad and a little sister.

“I got to fight off a dragon and help protect the whole town.

“So much has happened to me since you died. I’ve grown so much and learned a lot, and I owe all it to you and the ponies around me who have helped me every step of the way.

“Thank you for everything, Grandmare. I will love you forever!”

Feeling perkier as we left I asked Rainbow Dash if we could just fly for a while.

The two of us left the ground, flying into the air. I felt the cool breeze and the warmth of the sun as we just flew casually. No racing or trying to get ahead. Just enjoying the day together.

The two of us were flying side by side as equals, just as I’d always dreamed. Side by side in the sun, just as she had wanted for me. I had finally come out of her shadow and shined in my own way. We both smiled at each other for a few seconds before I lost air, wobbling as I stained to keep airborne, forcing myself back up to her level. “Sorry,” I said, panting. “That race really wiped me out.”

Rainbow looked at me for a moment more, still struggling, before she did a backwards loop, flying up to set me on her back for the second one. “You just had an exhausting race against Rainbow Dash, and you beat her at that. You don’t have to act tough, kid, because you are tough. You took on a dragon by yourself and laughed when you were told your injuries from that might be permanent. You don’t get much tougher than that.

“Get some rest, Scootaloo. You’ve earned it.” She looked at me with pride.

I let out a small sigh as I folded my weary wings. I had won that race, but by accident. Even if Rainbow Dash blamed herself for it I still feel like she would have won if it hadn’t been for that. At least it would have been a lot closer.

One day I’d beat her for real! No tricks. No accidents. I’d defeat her with my skill alone and beat her out for the best athlete in Equestria, and then we’d compete over that title for the rest of our lives, each of us doing our best to outdo the other. It promised to be a real fun and exciting life with my rival and sister. A big smile pulled at my lips as I thought about it, having intense contests like the one we had had today. I couldn’t wait for it. I’d prove the worth that Rainbow Dash saw in me.

However, that was still a few years in the future, when I had more practice and got a lot better. Right now though all I could hear were her words.

Get some rest, Scootaloo.

I laid my head on her neck, feeling so tired and starting to doze off, the sun feeling so warm.

Rest.

Yes... that sounded good.