• Published 26th Dec 2014
  • 10,913 Views, 1,960 Comments

Three Gems and a Scooter - RaylanKrios

For Rarity, what starts as a simple quest to help her sister turns into an unexpected journey of what family really means.

  • ...

Where Do I Belong?

Despite their differences neither Rainbow nor Rarity were so angry with each other to put their feud ahead of Scootaloo’s welfare. The idea that she needed to be found hung in the air, not so much because it was controversial but because neither pony knew what to say next.

“Do you think she went to the clubhouse?” Rarity asked. Rainbow had seen her last, so maybe she would have some insight as to where the little filly might have went, even if just the direction she was last heading.

Rainbow snorted a derisive snort. “Yeah, because when I’m upset I go to the first place I know all my friends will look for me.”

“Then where is she?”

Rainbow prepared to fire off another sarcastic response, but she couldn’t come up with one. Instead she carefully considered the question. Squirt was hurting and it was, at least in some respects, her fault; that meant she owed it to the little firecracker to help. As she reflected on the question at hoof, it occurred to her how little she actually knew about Scootaloo, the revelation making her shiver with a healthy dose of guilt. And because she really didn’t know that much about the little filly who needed her right now, she didn’t even know where to begin to look for her. Everypony always said how much Scootaloo was like her, if they were right, maybe whatever similarity everypony saw applied here as well.

Rainbow forced herself to take a hard look inward, the process almost foreign. She spent much of her mental energy pushing down negative emotions, walling them off so they could do no harm, but now she needed the insight that only those troublesome feelings could provide. Not just to know how Scootaloo felt, but to find what exactly those feelings might drive her toward. Betting that Scootaloo carried a similar burden, she reached inward to touch the pulsating blob of fear and sadness, mixed with guilt, regret and shame that she kept hidden from the world.

She winced as the rotting, sticky blackness came into contact with her conscious mind. The feeling was horrible; there was simply no other word to describe it. Every doubt she ever had, and every insult she ever shrugged off hammered her ego, beating it into a small shell of it’s usual outsized self. She wanted to run, every instinct she had screamed at her. You’re not good enough, you don’t matter and you’re definitely not worthy of your friends. “She’ll go somewhere that matches how she feels,” Rainbow whispered. “It will be dark and scary, because she doesn’t feel like she deserves the sun’s rays. And it will be isolated. She doesn’t want to be found.”

Rarity reached out and placed a comforting hoof on her friend's shoulder. “The Everfree Forest?” she said, that being the only place she could think of that matched Rainbow’s distressing characterization.

“Maybe, the caves near Ponyville Lake are another option. That’s where I’d go,”Rainbow said with a sad shrug of her shoulders.

“We should split up. The lake is closer. I’ll go there; you get Fluttershy and search the forest,” Rarity said, doing her best to keep her voice level. She already had one troubled pegasus to worry about, she didn’t need another.

Rainbow didn’t argue, instead carefully shutting the door on the feelings she had just invited in. A few deep breaths and a cocky smile later, she felt a little more like the Rainbow Dash she presented to the world. “On it!” she said with a wink, before speeding away, a familiar multi colored wake trailing behind her. Rarity locked the door to the Boutique and quickly hurried in the opposite direction.

As Rarity trotted at a brisk pace toward the lake, she found herself hoping that Rainbow’s instincts were wrong and that Scootaloo was in the Everfree Forest. Despite thinking about it the whole way, she really had no clue what she would say to Scootaloo if she found her. Yes, she had a penchant for being overdramatic at times, and her life wasn’t all caviar and moonbeams; but the rejection Scootaloo was dealing with was something so alien, so unbelievably inconceivable, that for the first time in her life, Rarity wasn’t sure she knew what to say.

A few meters away from the lake that abutted ponyville existed a series of small caves once used by Timberwolves, though now largely abandoned. There were maybe twenty of them, ranging from the size of a small hovel to a few that could comfortably fit an Ursa Minor. Rarity listened carefully but no sound could be heard emanating from anywhere. Remembering Rainbow’s words, Rarity poked her head in the smallest cave she could see, but it was empty.

The next cave contained a multitude of cobwebs and Rarity furiously pawed at her mane trying to get them off her before confirming that it too was empty.

It took a few more small caves before Rarity found who she was looking for. She poked her head in and a trembling orange ball looked up at her. Almost immediately, the little filly turned to run away, but her choice of alcove left her nowhere to go. Instead she used her tail as a shield, interspersed between her and Rarity, and pressed herself as close as she could to the cold cave wall.

Rarity breathed a sigh of relief. Scootaloo’s eyes were bloodshot, that was to be expected, and her nose was runny. Her coat was caked with a thick layer of dust and she was clearly frightened and miserable, but she wasn’t physically hurt as far as Rarity could tell. The most troubling aspect was the listlessness that pervaded what few movements she made. There wasn’t even a trace of joy in her eyes, not even the defiant spark that Rarity was used to seeing. This was clearly a Scootaloo for whom the world held nothing but empty platitudes and broken promises.

Rarity gingerly took a few steps forward, her movements deliberate and gentle.

She didn’t say anything at first, instead opting to sit down a few feet from where Scootaloo had taken up residence. One thing Rainbow had been right about was that the cave Scootaloo choose could hardly be more depressing. Despite the bright sun shining in the sky, very little light managed to find it’s way inside. The air was damp, and thanks to the layer of dust on the ground as well as the lack of air circulation, stuffy didn’t begin to describe the ambiance. Rarity ignored all of that and tried to focus on the pegasus sitting in front of her, who was staring at her with a pitiful expression. “I know you’re disappointed in Rainbow right now, but give her time,” she said, hoping to begin what was most likely going to be a very hard healing process.

Scootaloo shook her head slowly, her previous expression morphing into something that looked more like guilt. “It’s not her fault. If I were the coolest pegasus ever I wouldn’t want some flightless loser dragging me down,” Scootaloo replied in between sniffles.

“That’s not it at all, dear,” Rarity whispered as her heart broke at Scootaloo’s characterization of herself.

Scootaloo slumped down against the cave wall, the effort of sitting up apparently too much for her right now.
“No, it’s fine. I know there’s something wrong with me.”

“Scootaloo, there is nothing wrong with you, aside perhaps from you being covered in dirt, but that can be remedied with a shower,” Rarity said in a futile effort to make Scootaloo smile. But Scootaloo’s expression remained morose. Rarity stopped herself from another attempt as she realized that Scootaloo didn’t need to be humored right now, but wallowing in a dank cave wasn’t going to do either of them any good either.

“I might as well stay here, in this stupid cave down in the stupid dirt,” Scootaloo said, looking away from her temporary guardian.

“Goodness no, you don’t belong here.”

“I don’t belong anywhere…”

In response to Scootaloo’s declaration Rarity flared her horn, bathing the cave in a diffuse light. With the glow emanating from her horn the cave looked less like a pit of despair and more like just another rock formation. “Come, let’s go home,” she said softly. For now it seemed the best thing she could offer Scootaloo was a shower and a bowl of ice cream.

Scootaloo stood up, her legs wobbling, the emotional ordeal of the day having left her weak. Quickly she was encapsulated in a magic bubble and set gently on Rarity’s back. She started to protest but was quickly cut off.

“Oh hush. It’s not a short walk, and you’re clearly quite exhausted,” Rarity said, ending any further discussion about how Scootaloo would get back to the Boutique.

Scootaloo didn’t have the energy to fight back even if she wanted to. In a small way Rarity kind of wished she would, it would be a sign that the bold, brash Scootaloo she knew was somewhere within the dejected little pony silently clinging to her, forelegs wrapped around her neck.

The pair arrived back at the shop and Rarity kneeled so Scootaloo could climb down off her back. “I do believe you might feel better after a shower,” she suggested. In response Scootaloo only trudged upstairs without saying a word.

Rarity heard the sound of water running for a few minutes and then she heard nothing coming from upstairs. As she pondered over what else she could possible say her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of her front door slamming.

“I can’t find her, Rarity! Fluttershy and I looked everywhere!” Rainbow Dash practically screamed, the panic in her voice readily apparent.

Rarity held up a hoof in an effort to placate her friend. “You were right, Rainbow. She was in the caves near the lake. She’s in her room now.”

“Is she okay?” Rainbow asked quieter, but no less panicked than she had been a minute ago.

Well that’s a complicated question isn’t it? “She’s physically fine. But she’s hurting emotionally, Rainbow Dash. And you, like it or not, may be the only pony capable of helping her.”

Rainbow trembled, staring down at the ground. “I can’t adopt her, Rarity… I just can’t. It wouldn’t work.”

For the first time since this whole thing started Rarity didn’t argue. She watched Rainbow confront her own fears to help Scootaloo, and the pain in her previous statement led Rarity to believe that her refusal was not borne of selfish desires. “I understand, dear. But maybe you could let her know that just because you can’t adopt her, doesn’t mean you don’t care about her,” Rarity offered.

“Like she even cares about what I think right now,” Rainbow said, her voice laced with an ironically familiar self loathing.

“Most ponies wouldn’t, she does. She doesn’t blame you Rainbow Dash, she blames herself for not being good enough for you.”

Rarity’s words hit Rainbow like a tree she didn’t see coming and she was promptly knocked off her hooves, sitting down from the shock. “Oh.”

“A few kind words from you would do wonders for her spirit,” Rarity suggested softly.

“Yeah sure I can do that… I think,” Rainbow said, still firmly rooted to her spot at the foot of the stairs.

“She’s in the upstairs bedroom.”

“Right,” Rainbow said, glancing upstairs before slowly rising to her feet. With Rarity wordlessly encouraging her she went upstairs only to see the door to the bedroom slightly ajar. She took a deep breath to steel her nerves and stepped inside.

She found Scootaloo staring at the pictures on the wall. That most of them depicted her was not lost on the larger pegasus. A brief look of surprise flashed across her face as Scootaloo turned to see who had entered her room, but then she turned away, more interested in the two dimensional crayon Rainbow Dash than the real thing.

“I guess I haven’t really been a good sister, huh?” Rainbow scratched at her forelegs and bit her lip as she struggled to think of something else to say. “Listen Scoots… why didn’t you tell me any of this? I mean I could have helped, I could have done… something.”

For the first time since Rainbow had walked in, Scootaloo dared to look directly at her. “If I had told you earlier you would have adopted me?” she asked, her tone tinged with painful heartache.

Rainbow sighed, Scootaloo apparently wasn’t going to make this easy on her. “No… but that doesn’t mean I don’t love you,” she added quickly.

“Yeah,” Scootaloo replied, but it was clearly nothing more than a rote response.

“You’re too young to understand this right now, but I’d make a terrible parent.”

Scootaloo shook her head and sniffled. She knew about terrible parents, there was no way Rainbow could ever fit that description. It would be like someone calling Pinkie boring. “No you wouldn’t. You’re the most awesome pony in the history of ponies.” Rainbow was clearly lying to her to spare her feelings, the problem was on her end, where it always was. “I’d be an okay kid. I promise to try really hard and do my chores and go to bed on time-” Scootaloo said, trying to guess at whatever her previous parents clearly found so intolerable about her.

Before Scootaloo could finish her list of promises, Rainbow hurried to close the gap between them, and wrapped Scootaloo a fierce hug, squeezing her tightly. It was an uncommon display of emotion for Rainbow Dash, but one she couldn’t help. She lowered her snout and gently placed it under Scootaloo’s, lifting both noses slowly, keeping the orange filly firmly in her grip. “Listen kid, we’re going to find you a family and when we do you tell them that you’re part of a package deal. You tell them that you come with a big sister and that she loves you and that she’s going to be spending a lot more time with you from now on so they should clear some space on your calendar.”

For Scootaloo it was more than she expected but significantly less than she hoped for. Rainbow’s words were like antiseptic on a gaping wound, painful for a few moments, but ultimately soothing. The hurt was still there but at least it didn’t feel quite so raw. It was also hard to ignore the fact that Rainbow was holding her, the way a mom might. She snuggled further into the embrace. For a brief moment she felt safe. Felt loved. “Hey, Rainbow Dash?” she asked, looking up again with impossibly wide eyes.

“Yeah, Squirt?”

“What’s wrong with me?” she squeaked, too embarrassed to keep the previously established eye contact. “I know you don’t want to adopt me and that’s fine… I guess. But maybe if I can fix whatever ponies don’t like about me, I’ll find somepony who will.”

Rainbow could only squeeze Scootaloo again. “There’s nothing wrong with you,” she whispered. “You’re an awesome little pony, and I’m sorry that I don’t tell you that enough.”

“Yeah, that’s what Rarity said,” Scootaloo muttered to the floor as she broke away.

“Well she’s right. I may not agree with Rares about a lot, but we agree on that.”

“Yeah right,” Scootaloo scoffed. “I can’t even fly.”

“Flying is-” Rainbow paused, there was no sense in pretending that flying wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. “Flying is great kid, but it’s not going to make you awesome. Remember what I told you? Maybe you’ll fly and maybe you won’t, you’re all kinds of awesome anyway.”

“Not awesome enough to be adopted,” Scootaloo muttered.

Rainbow narrowed her brow and glared as gently as possible at her sister. “Hey! Any parents would be lucky to have you, you hear me. Lucky!”

“So why can’t it be you?” Scootaloo asked, daring to look Rainbow in the eyes again, painful as it was.

Rainbow sat down and spoke quietly, hoping that Scootaloo could hear the sincerity in her voice. “It’s like I told you, I don’t know how to take care of a pony Scoots. I have a pet tortoise I forget to feed and he only eats once a day. I’m a lousy cook and I can’t really help you with your homework, or at least I won’t be able to when you get older.” Rainbow sighed, those things were all true but also kind of irrelevant. She needed to get at the heart of the matter. “You deserve better squirt, you really do.”

Her statement delivered she stared intently at Scootaloo, looking for any sign that the filly understood what she was saying, a furrowed brow, or maybe a nod, but the filly’s face remained frustratingly blank. Scootaloo looked toward her, then over at the wall of Rainbow Dash pictures then finally back at her again, her expression a perfect mask.

“We’re still sisters right?” she mumbled.

Rainbow could only offer Scootaloo another hug. “Package deal.”

Rarity paced back and forth over a now very well worn patch of carpet in her living room. There was no yelling coming from upstairs, but there were also no other indicators about how Rainbow's efforts were going either. Finally she heard a set of soft hoofsteps. Rainbow entered her living room looking shaken. “I’m, umm, sorry what I said about your dresses,” she said. They don’t suck. I still have the one you designed for the gala. If I ever went to fancy parties I’d wear it. If you want I could try and find that pony I scared off earlier, maybe tell her that I was just angry at you.”

Rarity couldn’t help but laugh. In retrospect, and only in retrospect, the whole thing was kind of funny. “That’s sweet of you to offer, but I think my reputation can survive one unfounded rumor.”

Rainbow nodded, a gesture of contrition. The events of the day apparently behind them both ponies turned their focus to the filly upstairs. “So, now what?”

“Truthfully, I have no idea.”

Author's Note:

Okay everyone who thought I was writing Rainbow Dash as some sort of heartless monster, put your pitchforks down. Hopefully this chapter will help convince you that I don't hate Rainbow.

HUGE thanks to HTMXTaylorLee for helping my un-stick this chapter and making it better. As well as DemonBrightSpirit for for his usual superb assistance.

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!