• Published 28th Feb 2016
  • 3,246 Views, 385 Comments

Someone Still Loves You - brokenimage321

After realizing her dream of earning her cutie mark—in the company of her best friends, no less—Scootaloo’s life should have been on an upward course. Instead, she sees herself on yet another crusade.

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11. Discovery

Rumble was still surprised Cheerilee had let him off so easy. Even more so that she was still letting him help with the school play. Stage tech, mind you--stationed atop the bleachers with Button Mash--but still… no detention, no note home, no nothing.

That wasn’t his main concern, though. It seemed everypony from class, and even some foals he didn't recognize, had all been volunteered to help put this ramshackle show together. All except one little filly.

This was the fifth time he had taken to the air to survey the gathering below. Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and their sisters were certainly hard at work, the former building some set pieces, and the later rehearsing a small singing part, but Scootaloo was nowhere to be seen.

To say it bugged him a little would be an understatement.

“Hey, Fumble!” Button Mash hollered from below. “I need your help wiring these speakers real quick!”

Of course you do, Rumble groaned internally as he descended back to the ground, then trotted over to a mess of wires, caps, and cables.

“You worried about Scuttlebucket?” Button said, digging through a crate.

Rumble simply rolled his eyes. “How’d you guess?”

“Well,” Button ventured as he hauled a long, orange extension cord from the box, “You’ve been lookin’ around since we got here. I haven’t seen her, either.”

Rumble nodded--then, suddenly, frowned.

“Do you think she’s mad at me, Button?”

Button’s eyes widened. “Wha-why in Equestria would she be mad?” he asked. “You stood up to Rainbow Dash for her… She kissed you, I saw it!”

Rumble blushed scarlet. “Y-you saw it too?”

“How could I miss it?” Button said, waving a hoof, “You were putting on a show. The entire class was lookin’ your way.”

Rumble suddenly looked away. “I... did kind of make a scene, didn’t I?” he said quietly.

“I’ll say. You were pretty badass, Rumble.” Button turned back to a speaker nearby. “You got some serious balls getting in Rainbow Douche’s face like that. I about shit myself laughing.”

Rumble couldn’t help cracking a smile. “Thanks… I guess.”

“Yeah, yeah, don’t mention it. I’ll deny everything,” Button mumbled, “Now quit being a chatterbox, and lend me a hoof already. We mess this play up, and Princess Twilight will have us burned at the stake or something.”

Rumble cast one more cursory glance around the stage and the stands, then sighed as he turned to help Button with the wires.

Rumble watched as Button connected each end, and routed everything into place. It was surprisingly clean and orderly—the last thing he would expect from his cocky friend. But then again, with all the time he spent with that video game console of his, this wasn’t his first experience with tangled cables...

“You think she’ll show up?” Apple Bloom asked, following Sweetie Belle behind the curtain.

“Beats me,” Sweetie said with a frown. “She’s got a lot going on today… I’d be surprised if she did.”

“Well, she kinda has to,” Apple Bloom said, “She’s playin’ Ponyvile’s first weather captain, Storm—Stormy—”

“Storm Cell,” Sweetie corrected.

“Yeah, her,” Applebloom said. “And your sister already made her costume an’ all...”

“Still ain’t here, huh?” Applejack asked, as she rounded into view.

Apple Bloom nodded. “Sweetie says she’s got a lot goin’ on, so…”

“Can’t blame her, honestly,” Applejack sighed, “Poor filly’s been through a real mess past couple days.”

No thanks to that selfish li’l brat, she thought to herself with a silent snarl. “Anyway,” Applejack said quickly, “I think we’re about done with the set. How’s Rares doin’ with the costumes?”

“Just finished up, actually.” Rarity said triumphantly as she came around the curtain, holding an elaborate, foal-sized gown. Her triumphant smile faded as she saw the little group. “Still no sign of Scootaloo, huh?”

Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom shook their heads, and Applejack shot her a knowing look. Rarity looked her in the eye, nodded slightly, then cleared her throat.

“Sweetie, could you come with me for a moment?” Rarity didn’t wait for her to respond, instead, trotting across the stage and down the steps. Sweetie Belle hesitated, then ran after her to catch up.

Rarity glanced back towards the stage as they trotted away from the gathering crowd.

“I think you should go check on Scootaloo,” Rarity said quietly, taking another look behind her, “Make sure she’s doing alright, that sort of thing.. Between today’s unfortunate revelations and… well, her current situation at home, she could use some company.”

“You sure everything’s ready?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“Don’t worry about any of that now, dear, you’ve done plenty.” Rarity smiled. “I think a certain filly needs more support than this tacky little production does.”

Sweetie smiled, “I’ll be a back in a bit, then.”

“No rush, dear,” Rarity called after her, “Rehearsals are in two hours, you have time.”

Sweetie Belle had visited Scootaloo at home, of course, but it had been longer than she liked to admit; after her third wrong turn, she finally rounded onto her street, and passed a large cart stacked high with moving boxes and bags.

She paused, then turned to stare at the cart: a sign on the side read Wide Load & Sons Moving Co. Sweetie frowned, then scanned the labels on the boxes inside to see if any of it was Scootaloo’s. None of it was. She turned back to the house, a growing unease in the pit of her stomach, then saw Mrs. Harbour talking with a stallion with a clipboard and a hardhat. Standing next to the tall, broad stallion, Mrs. Harbour looked very old and very small. Mrs. Harbour noticed Sweetie Belle, and gave her a weak smile. Sweetie Belle swallowed uneasily, then trotted towards her.

“Scootaloo’s still inside, dear,” Mrs. Harbour said, her voice tired and wheezy. “I’m sure she’d love to see you.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Harbour,” Sweetie said, smiling a little as she walked past her. She trotted through the open front door and up the stairs. She weaved her way around the stacks of cardboard boxes lining the hall. She hesitated for a moment just outside Scootaloo’s door, then raised her hoof and gently knocked.

She heard something thump on the floor, the rustling of a bag, and finally, a couple hoofsteps. The doorknob turned and the door opened a crack, before swinging wide.

Scootaloo reached out and pulled Sweetie Belle into a hug. Neither of them spoke as Scootaloo laid her chin on Sweetie’s shoulder.

Sweetie looked over Scootaloo’s shoulder, deeper into the room. Most of the room had already been boxed up, save for her bed, dresser, and some assorted toys and books piled in the center of the room.

Scootaloo finally pulled back, wiped a stray tear from her eye, “Miss Cheerilee sent you to get me, huh? I’m almost done here, I think.”

“No, don’t rush or… or anything,” Sweetie Belle said, “We’ve got two hours until rehearsals. I just wanted to make sure you were doing okay.”

“Mom and I had a bit of a fight earlier,” Scootaloo chuckled, “We were both really sap-tastic, but it’s okay now. I mean…” she looked away. “...it isn’t okay... but, you know,” she added with a shrug.

“Have you found out where you’re going yet?” Sweetie asked, as she stepped forward and loaded an armful of junk into a waiting box.

“I got a week to find a place to stay,” Scootaloo answered, fetching some tape. “Can’t stay here though. They’re selling this place pretty quick.”

“Oh…” Sweetie pawed the ground nervously, before brightening up slightly. “Maybe you could stay with my sister while you figure something out…” She looked away, suddenly nervous. “I mean, if you want...”

“If she’s cool with that, so am I,” Scootaloo replied. “They say I need to have this stuff outta here by tomorrow afternoon. No later.”

“I’m sure we can get some help tomorrow morning.” Sweetie said. “Tonight’s gonna be pretty crazy.”

“Tell me about it.” Scootaloo groaned as she taped shut the final box. “Part of me just wants to call it a day… except for...” Scootaloo suddenly furrowed her brow. “Hey, have you seen Rumble lately?”

“Yeah, actually,” Sweetie said with a grin. “He’s doing stage tech with Button Mash.”

Scootaloo cocked her head. “Stage tech?”

“I dunno,” Sweetie said, shrugging. “That’s what Twilight calls it. Basically moving the lights around, and making sure sound works, that sorta thing.”

“Wow, Twilight is taking this seriously.” Scootaloo smirked. “Guess I’d better make sure I’m rehearsed, huh?”

“Wouldn’t want to be banished to the Everfree, would ya?” Sweetie winked.

“Not this week,” Scootaloo grinned.

“Scootaloo?” a voice called from downstairs. Scootaloo swallowed, then walked out the door, Sweetie Belle close behind. The two of them made their way down to the living room, where Mrs. Harbour sat by the doorway. At the sight of her, Scootaloo stopped dead in the center of the floor, and Sweetie Belle stepped up behind her. For a long moment, no one said a word.

Finally, Mrs. Harbour finally spoke. “Well,” she said, her voice trembling, “It’s time for me to go, dear.”

Scootaloo remained frozen a moment longer—then lunged towards her and pulled her into a tight hug. Scootaloo sobbed, and Sweetie saw fresh tears on both their faces. She felt a slight lump forming in her throat, and looked away.

“Sweetie Belle?”

Sweetie turned back, and saw Mrs. Harbour watching her, tears in her eyes, holding out one arm in invitation. Scootaloo glanced over at her as well, eyes trembling, and nodded. Sweetie nervously trotted over and wrapped her arms around the two of them, and was soon folded into the embrace. Mrs. Harbour smelled of lilacs and old age--that same sort of grandma-smell that bore witness to the many, many foals she had known and loved and said goodbye to over her lifetime.

No words were exchanged; none were needed. They simply held each other--and soon, Sweetie Belle felt tears of her own running down her cheek.

“Mrs. Harbour?”

Three of them looked up. In the door stood another stallion--a pegasus, with a dark-blue pelt. He wore a white coat with some arcane logo over the breast pocket. He smiled--but it was the sort of saccharine smile of someone who is paid to be happy and kind.

Mrs. Harbour’s eyes went wide. “He’s come to pick me up,” she whispered, almost to herself.

And, without another word, she wiped some tears from her face, pulled away from Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle, and trotted out the door. Scootaloo grabbed pathetically at her as she walked away, but she had already left her reach.

The two fillies ran out the door just in time to see Mrs. Harbour climb into a white-painted carriage, painted the logo of Whispering Oaks Retirement Community, Canterlot.

She sat, then turned to look one more time at the old house. She smiled sadly at Scootaloo, who stood rooted to the spot.

The stallion who had fetched her hitched himself to the carriage, alongside a second, equally-fake pegasus. At some unseen signal, the two of them started off at a brisk trot.

Scootaloo suddenly found the urge to move her feet, and galloped up alongside the coach.

Mrs. Harbour heard her little hooves--the last time she ever would--and leaned out the window. “I’ll be sure to write you, Scootaloo,” she said. She wiped away a tear. “Take care of yourself... for me?”

Scootaloo wanted to answer--wanted to say yes, to call her back, to do anything—but the stallions were moving faster and faster, and she galloped with all her strength to keep pace.

And then, they lifted off.

For the briefest of moments, Scootaloo forgot she couldn’t fly. She leapt into the air--and, a mere second later, fell back to earth. She landed, hard, and tumbled head-over-hooves once or twice, then skidded to a halt in the dry road dust.

When she could bring herself to look up, the cart was already high over Ponyville, quickly vanishing to a speck. Scootaloo didn’t bother getting up. She put her head back down, and whimpered softly.

Soon, she sensed another pony standing over her. Silently, Sweetie Belle picked her up, and hugged her tight. Scootaloo returned the embrace, then began to sob.

Rainbow Dash didn’t like waking up with a nasty migraine. Nor did she especially like throwing up… again…

And yet, here she was, finally able to slog out of her bathroom, drenched in sweat, the weight of her heavy heart making every step a marathon.

She stopped midway between her bedroom and her kitchen. Part of her just wanted to sleep it out, but another part of her noticed how warm it was inside.The clock in the living room read six.

Rainbow groaned, her squinted eyes glued to her front door and to the darkening sky which lay beyond it. I think I’ll get some fresh air, she thought.

She tottered her way to the door, then pulled it open. With it came the cool, calm air of the Fall evening, bathing her face in a refreshing breeze. For the briefest of moments, her headache was gone, and the world seemed to be at peace. She spread her wings and took to the sky, the cool air pushing back her lingering nausea as she flew above the clouds.

She couldn’t remember the last time a simple night in the sky felt this good.

Rainbow didn’t feel like doing anything other than flying. She simply did wide loops around Ponyville, skirting the outer perimeter of the surrounding woods. As she passed the center of town, she smiled; she could hear ponies chatting and laughing together. It was… nice.

As she made her umpteeth loop, she noticed a dim, flowing light coming from the center of town, and saw several ponies heading in that direction. Curious, she began to cruise in that direction. As she did, that commotion grew louder. She crested the roof of a house, and the stage rolled suddenly into view.

Several ponies were gathered around both standing around the stage and seated in a row of bleachers a hundred feet or so back. In the front row, she saw a line of plush cushions, and, seated on them, the shadowy forms of Princess Cadance and Shining Armor. A spotlight shone expectantly on the center of the red, patchy curtain, waiting for the show to begin. She stared curiously at the arrangement, then flew away; she returned soon with a small cloud, then settled down onto it to watch the play, out of sight of the poines below.

Just as she found a comfortable perch, Miss Cheerilee stepped out from behind the curtain, to a smattering of applause.

“Thank you all for coming tonight,” Cheerilee began. “Before we begin, I would like to thank everypony who helped put this together on such short notice.” She cleared her throat, and Rainbow thought she caught nervous giggles from behind the curtain.. “I present to you, Welcome to Ponyville, starring the foals of our very own schoolhouse!”

More applause as she ducked back behind the curtain. The big spotlight snapped off, and, after a moment of darkness, a smaller light snapped on, pointed at the left side of the stage.

As Rainbow watched, Sweetie Belle stepped into the light, then cleared her throat.

"Tonight, fillies and gentlecolts," Sweetie Belle began, "Me and my friends will show you some of the wonderful things about our quaint little town..."

She exited the stage as the curtain rose, revealing a crude set depicting the Apple Family Orchards, with Apple Bloom dressed as Granny Smith. Diamond Tiara stood off to one side, and, after a suitable interval, began to woodenly recite the story of the founding of Ponyville.

Rainbow Dash watched for a few minutes, but quickly felt her eyelids drooping. She’d heard all the stories before, and her cloud was so soft… And this was so much better than being at home, thick with the scent of vomit and stale sweat…

Rainbow watched the next few scenes with half-lidded eyes. The next scene detailed the foundation of the town, with Silver Spoon as Mayor Mare’s great grandmother… Rainbow smirked sleepily as she watched. Heh… Rainbow chuckled to herself, She totally isn’t into it.

As the play continued, the scenes showed Celestia’s first visit, The Everfree Forest, the Rich family and their role in development--starring none other than Diamond Tiara--even a crude mockup of the Golden Oaks Library, where Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom told the story of Twilight’s arrival, and the defeat of Nightmare Moon. Rainbow looked up briefly, looking for herself on the stage--but the only one of her friends to appear was Twilight, played by Dinky Hooves.

Rainbow watched as Pipsqueak hurried onstage with a pair of cardboard wings, which he strapped clumsily to Dinky’s back. She had to admit: these foals had put a lot of work into this thing.

But that didn’t make it any more interesting. Rainbow yawned again, and almost started to doze--just before the spotlight clicked on, and swung haphazardly towards Apple Bloom, standing to stage left.

“Ponyville’s home to a lot of interestin’ ponies, and the past is one heck of a story…” he smiled, cheeks reddening slightly. “But, what about the future? Well, Why don’t we show ya?”

Rainbow’s eyes opened again as the curtain rose to light applause, now revealing the Ponyville Schoolhouse. The sight of that little red abode sent a slight shiver down Rainbow’s spine. Her last visit there had been anything but pleasant.

She looked down--and saw, just below her, the two foals handling the lights and sound. One of them was Rumble, who, just that morning, had been only her co-workers little brother--now, Public Enemy Number One in her book. Well, to be fair, he hadn’t been wrong…

The other colt wore a propeller cap, which made Rainbow smile crookedly; she idly twirled a hoof in the air as if she wanted to spin it.

“At Cheerilee’s schoolhouse, we learn all sorts of things,” Sweetie explained as she stood before the school, “Reading, writing, arithmetic…”

Apple Bloom entered the stage, with several other foals entering both side

“...about cutie marks, compassion, an’ kindness…”

“...and most important of all…”

Rainbow Dash sat bolt upright. That voice—

And, as she watched, she walked onto the stage.

She was a little Rainbow Dash, just as she had been ten years ago--back before… back before all the heartache. Back before her soul had been torn into a thousand little shreds. She still had a spring in her step, a smile on her face—

And then, the lingering sleep fell from Rainbow’s eyes. It wasn’t her on the stage: it was Scootaloo. Scootaloo, who, save for her coloring, looked just like her--the same mane-style, the same lean, athletic build--even her eye color was the same.

Why hadn’t she seen it before?

As she watched, Scootaloo stopped in center stage, turned to face the audience, and began to recite her lines. But it wasn’t her voice she heard--it was Fluttershy’s.

“Your foal isn’t in Cloudsdale,” she had said. “She’s here. You had a daughter, a little pegasus filly. And her foster mother named her…”

“She named her Scootaloo.”

Rainbow felt a tear run down her cheek. She knew it. She had always known it, even if she hadn’t always believed it.

As she watched her daughter prance across the stage, joining some dance or other, her mind rolled back through the years. And, suddenly--

She was back in the hospital again, many smiling faces around her. Some familiar, some not. The light was intense, and she felt a wave of exhaustion and relief.

And then, she realized she was holding something. She looked down and saw a warm, squirming bundle, swaddled in a pink blanket. And, out of the folds of cloth, two violet eyes stared up at her, set in a sunset-orange face.

And then, the scene shifted: she was sitting by a high chair, her mane tied back in a ponytail, a jar of pureéd carrots in her hooves. Her daughter burbled happily as Rainbow dug a fresh spoonful out.

“Here comes the Wonderbolt!” she said brightly. “Nnneeaoowww—”

The scene shifted again--now the two of them stood on the lawn in front of the little apartment Rainbow had rented with her savings, watching her daughter spread her wings. She flapped hard, and, just barely, lifted off the ground--and the sight filled Rainbow’s heart with greater joy than she thought possible.

Another shift. This time, Fluttershy was there, holding Rainbow’s daughter on her lap, as the two of them watched Rainbow do loop-de-loops for the Wonderbolts recruiter.

Shift: her first day at school, setting out with a bright smile and saddlebags full of pencils and notebooks. Shift: a birthday party, with cake and presents. Shift: the two of them standing in the town square, ready to meet Princess Celestia’s delegate, a young unicorn named Twilight Sparkle.


And then, the light darkened. She heard Twilight’s voice--

“I would hate to see the damage you would do as a mother…”

And then, Fluttershy’s—

“None of this would have happened if only you’d been a little more—”

And then Scootaloo’s pathetic, hopeless whine—

“Why weren’t you there for me…?”

Rainbow’s eyes snapped open. Her stomach twisted into a knot, and she felt ill again, her stomach threatening to expel its contents with every breath she took. Slowly, shakily, she stepped off the cloud and glided down to the ground. She landed, then took a moment to try and wipe the tears from her eyes.

The play was over, and had been for several minutes. A few ponies still milled about, but most had left. Princess Cadance stood speaking quietly to Miss Cheerilee, and, behind the closed curtain, Rainbow could see shadows moving onstage.

And, almost before she knew what she was doing, she took a step towards the stage.

She was going to make things right. She was going to make everything right.

She was going to hold her foal again, and tell her that she loved her and she was sorry, and that she was going to be there for her no matter what.

Everything was going to be alright. She was going to make sure of it.

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