• Published 28th Feb 2016
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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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16. Deference

Rumble didn’t like waking up with the sun in his eyes. Nor did he especially enjoy waking up in an unfamiliar place. Yet, here he was—the sun in his eyes, lying on a sofa he didn’t recognize, and with a thick bandage wrapped around his head. He felt fine, though—fine, except for a dull ache under his chin.

As the sleep fell away and his eyes adjusted to the soft light of the sunrise beyond the windows, he glanced curiously around him. After a moment, it finally clicked where he was: this was Fluttershy’s house. He hadn’t ever really been inside, but, with all the little bowls of pet food scattered about, and the narrow catwalks for squirrels and rabbits by the ceiling, whose house could it be?

As he looked around, his eye caught a splash of color on the rug. He sat up: it was Scootaloo, dead asleep and drooling on the rug, sleeping in a threadbare sleeping bag made for a foal two sizes smaller than she.

Rumble pushed the blanket off him, then wiped the sleepies from his eyes and let out a gaping yawn. He peeled the now-warm icepack off his face and set it down, then slowly slid off the couch and swayed unsteadily on his hooves. His head felt a little funny, though it wasn’t too bad… what had happened last night?

Rumble slowly tottered over towards Scootaloo, then reached out and timidly poked her in the cheek—once, twice…

At his touch, she stirred. “What?” she groaned, her words slightly slurred. “It’s not… time yet,” she added with a yawn. She rolled over again and buried her face in her drool-stained pillow. Rumble hesitated, then poked her again.

Scootaloo turned her head and started into Rumble’s eyes for a moment. Her gaze was hollow and tired—and, judging by how he felt, he probably didn’t look much better.

“Hey.” Rumble said. As he closed his mouth again, he sucked in a little gasp; the movement of his jaw had made his stitches catch painfully in the bandages.

...his stitches...

His mind reeled back to the night before. There, frozen in time, he saw Soarin, face full of nameless fury, stepping towards him—then, white-hot agony—soaring through the air—pressure, as Scootaloo tied something around his head—the ground coming towards them fast, too fast—the two of them tumbling across Fluttershy’s lawn—Fluttershy poking him in the chin—

Rumble stood there, eyes wide, and trembled.

And then, something warm wrapped himself around him. It was Scootaloo, giving him a hug. She was holding him very tight—so tight, Rumble started to blush.

“You okay?” she said, laying her head on his shoulder.

Rumble tried to answer, but this tongue felt like cotton. Scootaloo looked curiously up at him—but, just at that moment, Rumble was saved by Fluttershy, who walked in from the kitchen, wearing her bathrobe and stifling a yawn.

“Good morning, you two,” Fluttershy said sleepily. She smiled at the two of them—but there was something strange behind her smile, something Rumble wasn’t sure he knew the name for. “How are you feeling, Rumble?” she asked.

“Fine, I guess.” Rumble glanced back at Scootaloo, then his face screwed up in confusion. “How did we get here?”

Scootaloo took a deep breath. “You flew us here,” she answered. “Most of the way, anyways. The… the landing was a little tricky.” Her gaze flicked over his shoulder, at Fluttershy, busy in the kitchen. “Then Fluttershy put you on some heavy meds,” she continued, “and you were…” Scootaloo giggled, “...a little loopy.”

Rumble furrowed his brow, “What do you mean?”

Scootaloo hesitated. “Well—” she began.

Rumble heard a clink behind him, and the two of them turned and looked. Fluttershy had set two teacups on the coffee table, each with its own teabag, and was pouring steaming water into them.

“Drink up, you two,” Fluttershy said. “It’ll do you good.”

They obliged. Rumble took his teacup and chugged it, then let out a long sigh. Scootaloo watched him with a faint smile on her lips, then gently sipped at hers.

After she finished, the two of them sat in silence, side-by-side, on the floor, listening to Fluttershy hum to herself as she made them breakfast. Rumble smiled a little; he could feel the tea in his belly, still pleasantly warm, the heat radiating outward through his entire body. Kinda like how Scootaloo was making him feel right now.

He felt, more than saw, when Scootaloo turned to look at him. She watched him for a minute, then slowly lifted up a hoof and began to unwrap the bandage around his head. Rumble tried to pull away, but Scootaloo shot him a look, and, with a gulp, he sat still.

Scootaloo carefully unwrapped the bandage, keeping it rolled at neatly as she could. As she pulled off the last layer, both she and Rumble sucked in a breath—he, feeling the cold on his cut, and she, seeing what Fluttershy had done to it for the first time.

Under his jaw, on the right side, Fluttershy had shaved a small patch of fur, and, in the center of that naked patch, ran the stitches. The thick black thread made a line of Xs that bound the skin together in a long, ugly crescent, with dried blood still crusted around the edges

Rumble must have seen something in her face, for he grinned. “Let me see it!” he cried eagerly, and then went to the mirror.

Rumble craned his neck and pushed up a tuft of his fur to give him a look. He stared at the ugly, puckered stitches for a long, silent moment.

“Took her forever to get the stitching right,” Scootaloo said nervously as she sat beside him. “It looks way better now than it did last night, though…” she shivered. “Blegh.

Rumble grinned as he turned to Scootaloo, “You can say it looks gross all you want,” he said brightly. “I like it. Looks like some wicked battle scar or something.”

Scootaloo suppressed a grin of her own, then rolled her eyes, “Whatever, Rumble,” she said, “you know it wasn’t much of a battle. A stallion vs. a rag doll.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Rumble said. “Looks pretty cool.”

Scootaloo turned to him, eyes wide. “W-what?” she sputtered, “No, it does not! Nobody’s gonna think that. What do you think—someone’s gonna come up to you and say ‘Rumble, that’s so cool?’”

“Rumble, that’s so cool!” Button squealed.

Rumble simply basked in the attention, his head tilted slightly back so his adoring fans could admire his stitches. Scootaloo watched from a distance, embarrassed.

“You survived a Wonderbolt trying to kill you,” Pipsqueak added, equally enamored. “That’s… amazing!”

“Tell me something I don’t know,” Rumble said, with a cocky grin. “The dumb foal just couldn’t handle the truth.”

Scootaloo gagged.

The bell rang, and Scootaloo watched as the colts turned and walked inside the schoolhouse. Over the sudden tumult of voices, she managed to catch Button Mash say, in reverent tones, “I would never have the balls to talk to somepony like that… like that…”

“So,” Apple Bloom said suddenly, “that’s the half-wit mule you’re gonna hitch yourself to someday, huh?”

“He’s not a half-wit,” Scootaloo mumbled. She shot a glance at Apple Bloom, who stared impassively back at her, then turned back to watch the back half of her… mule… vanishing through the door.

Sweetie Belle, on Apple Bloom’s other side, flashed a weak smile. “Did Soarin’ actually, like… attack him?” she asked uncertainly.

Scootaloo’s face fell. “Yeah,” she said. “Soarin’ straight-up slammed his hoof right into his face.” She took a deep breath, then let it out. “It was scary,” she murmured.

“Thick skull of his finally did some good.” Apple Bloom muttered, just loud enough to draw icy glares from both Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle.

Scootaloo turned and trotted angrily into the schoolhouse. Sweetie Belle watched her go for a moment, then turned to Apple Bloom and drew a menacing hoof across her neck, glaring daggers at her. Apple Bloom just rolled her eyes, then shouldered her way past Sweetie and headed into the schoolhouse.

Rumble idly scratched at his stitches. For all his boasting, they sure were irritating; they were painful, almost like a zit he couldn’t pop.

Button watched him out of the corner of his eye.“You know you’re not supposed to do that, right?” Button said, “Stitches could come out.”

Rumble glared at him, “What do you know?” he snapped.

“Remember that time I split my head open trying to skateboard off the roof?” Button smirked, then lifted his cap, revealing a long, pale scar running through his hairline. “I had stitches too.”

Rumble shivered, then sighed. “I know,” he said. “Just… this thing is bugging me.”

Button grinned even wider. “You mean,” he said, “you haven’t asked your widdle filly-friend to kiss it and make it feel aww bettuh?”

Rumble fought to suppress a grin of his, “Shut up, Button.”

Button cleared his throat.

“So, assuming you don't get yourself killed between now and Friday, you are planning to come to my birthday party, right?”

“Of course I am,” Rumble said with a smile. “It’ll be a nice break from…” he shrugged “...everything.”

“Cool,” Button answered. “ ‘Cause I invited your little filly, too.” Rumble looked up sharply, and Button grinned. “She had fun last time she came over, and she’s cool.”

“She'd love that,” Rumble answered, a little too quickly. He lowered his head and blushed. “O-of course. I don't care… just… it’s awful nice of you, thinkin’ of her like that…”

“I know,” Button said with a smirk.

Suddenly, Something made both of them look up. Rumble stared, then sat up a little straighter. Miss Cheerilee was watching them. She had a strange expression on her face, one that he couldn’t quite read. Either way, it made him uncomfortable.

After a long moment of silently watching him, Miss Cheerilee turned and made a small note in the planner that lay open on her desk. She set down the pencil, then then closed the book with a sharp snap.

Rainbow Dash didn’t like waking up with the sun in her eyes. Nor was she especially fond of it happening at—what time was it? She rolled over and glanced at her alarm clock—nine-thirty in the morning? Dammit, she groaned to herself.

She had been dozing dreamily in her bed. Her night had been filled with dreams—pleasant dreams, of little Scootsie and her Mama Rainbow. They had been having a little picnic together, for her fourth birthday.

Somewhere in the distance, Rainbow had heard the insistent ringing of her doorbell, but she ignored it, opting to blow bubbles with her daughter a little longer. And as Scootaloo giggled and popped them, Rainbow heard the door open, heard the hoofsteps come up the stairs, and heard somepony say her name.

The vision had shifted and wavered, but Rainbow had just grimaced and rolled over. Just a little longer—she and Scootaloo were about to practice her flying—

And then whoever-it-was grabbed her by the shoulder and shook. Dream-Scootaloo shrieked, then shattered and blew away as reality re-formed in Rainbow’s bedroom, the sunlight streaming through the slats in the blinds and directly into Rainbow’s eyes.

Maybe it was because of the sun—or, more likely, because she had just been woken up—but everything was still a blur. Rainbow looked around blearily: the blue blob draped over the lamp in the corner, that was her uniform, and those white ones was the pile of pizza boxes she’d been meaning to throw out for weeks, and, just in front of her, the pink blur—Rainbow smiled a little—that must be Princess Cadance, still here, just like she promised—

And then, Rainbow blinked, and the world came into focus—and the pink blur congealed, not into a pink coat, but a pink mane, long, and wavy, framing a yellow face. A face that stared back at her with a cold, hard look.

Rainbow groaned. She knew that look. She’d seen it once before—on her fifteenth birthday.

“We need to talk,” Fluttershy said, her voice firm but quiet.

Rainbow rolled over and pressed her pillow over her ears. “Can it wait?” she grumbled.

“No.” There was no patience in that voice of hers.

Rainbow looked up at her, stared for just a moment at her harsh, unyielding expression, then threw off the covers. She climbed from the bed, shook herself, then silently followed Fluttershy as she turned and strode from the room.

When the two of them walked back into her living room, Rainbow stopped and stared. She wasn’t sure what she had been expecting out of her living room the morning after her tantrum, but it sure wasn’t this. Cadance had said she would clean up “a little,” but even Rainbow could barely tell there had been any damage at all. Sure, the trash can was full of broken plates, and the dining table was conspicuously missing a chair, and she saw the cord to her old, shattered television snaking out from under a closet door, but otherwise, the room looked pristine. She’d even taken the time to re-straighten the picture frames.

And then, Rainbow’s face fell. Seated on her couch, on the ottoman, and on the floor, were her friends. Applejack, sitting on the floor, looked away as Rainbow glanced her direction. Rarity stared at her with a look full of anger and disdain. Fluttershy, cold, hard, and distant, took her seat next to Twilight, who bit her lip and looked at the floor. And Pinkie Pie, sitting on a corner of the couch, was bouncing her hoof impatiently.

Rainbow swallowed, hard, then slowly walked to the only open seat—the armchair, off to one side. As she sat down, something caught her eye—a pink envelope, sitting on the end-table, with her name written in an unfamiliar, loopy script on the front. Rainbow swiped it off the table, then shoved it down inside the armchair before anyone could ask. It wouldn’t do to read royal correspondence at a time like this.

For a long time, none of them spoke. Rainbow tried to avoid looking at them, half-knowing, half-fearing, what she would see there.

Finally, Rarity took a deep breath.

“Well,” she said, “I think it is clear to everypony here, as it has been to me for quite some time, that you are incapable, unfit, and unworthy to be anything even remotely resembling a mother.”

“Now, Rarity,” Twilight cut in, her voice pained. “There’s no need—”

Rarity whirled on her. “Don’t you dare ‘no need’ me,” she snapped. “Did you hear what Fluttershy said?” She leaned forward. “Rainbow kicked him so hard he needed stitches.” She leaned back and crossed her arms. “We’ll see your ‘no need’ when Rumble’s jaw gets infected and falls off.”

Rainbow pricked up her ears. She opened her mouth to speak—

“That is not what I said,” Fluttershy cut in. “Stitches, yes—but Rumble’s in no immediate danger. I’ve stitched up worse before, with better results—”

“No immediate danger?!” Rarity practically shrieked. “You know how she is, it’s only going to be so long before she—”

Applejack piped up: “Slow down there, sugarcube, don’t go saying somethin’—”

Then Twilight: “—maybe we should all take a moment and write down—”

And Flutterhshy: “—girls, can we be please a little more—”

Rainbow whipped her head back and forth as she tried to follow the conversation as it ping-ponged back and forth between the ponies. Everyone was ignoring her now—instead, they were all shouting at each other, screaming louder, and louder, and louder

—all except for Pinkie Pie, who watched the proceedings with a growing scowl.

Without warning, Pinkie sprung from her seat, leapt up on the coffee table, and grabbed the small candy dish that stood in the center. She lifted it over her head, then spiked it into the table, sending shrapnel exploding in all directions. Applejack dove for cover, and Fluttershy shrieked.

“Awright, ladies!” Pinkie roared into the sudden silence. “If we can’t do this like adults, then we’re gonna do this like children! Gimme that,” she barked at Twilight, as she extended a demanding hoof.

Twilight looked around in confusion, then pulled out a half-flattened Daring Do plushie that she’d been leaning on. She tossed it to Pinkie, who caught it with a triumphant look, then held it over her head.

“This is the Magic Conch!” she bellowed. “If you have the Conch, you can talk! If not, shaddap!”

She glared around the circle, and saw five faces staring back at her, their expressions variously frightened, annoyed, terrified, and amused. Pinkie grinned a little to herself, hopped down from the table, tossed the doll to Rarity, then sat and smugly crossed her legs.

Rarity caught the doll, set it down beside her, and sighed. “I think I’ve already said my piece,” she said. “I think this incident is clear evidence: regardless of what we said in the hospital, Rainbow isn’t fit to take care of—”

Twilight grimaced. “You know, Rarity,” she said, “I really don’t think—”

“Ah ah ah ah AH!” Pinkie said, leaping to her hooves and pointing an accusing hoof at Twilight. “Magic Conch! Magic Conch!”

Twilight rolled her eyes and held out a hoof. Rarity passed her the doll, and Twilight put it in her lap.

“We still don’t know exactly what happened,” she said. “All we really have is Fluttershy’s theories.”

Rarity opened her mouth, but Pinkie shot her a dirty look, and she sighed dramatically and closed her mouth again. Without a word, Applejack reached up and took the doll from Twilight’s lap.

“I agree,” she said, “though, you have to admit—it ain’t too far a stretch. Rainbow kinda has a reputation for havin’ a bit of a hair-trigger, and I think we all know how much of a pain in the ass Rumble can be—”

Ahem.” Fluttershy.

Applejack rolled her eyes. “Fine. A pain in the plot—”


Applejack sneered. “Fine. We all know how difficult he can be—”

“Just give me the damn doll already,” Fluttershy snapped.

Applejack’s eyes went wide, and she handed it over silently. Fluttershy nodded a curt thanks, then turned to the group.

“You’re right,” she said, “we don’t know what happened. All we really know is that Rumble and Scootaloo came by my house, asking for help to get a little spiffed up for a visit with Rainbow, and, next thing I know, one of them is bleeding all over my front porch. And there’s only one adult living here I know who would be dumb enough to pull a stunt like that. So,” she said, her eyes glittering, “what I want is for Rainbow to tell us exactly what she did last night.”

Fluttershy cocked an arm back and threw the doll. All of them watched as it soared through the air, then landed in Rainbow’s waiting hooves. Rainbow looked numbly down at it, then back up at her friends, each of them watching her, waiting for her answer. She had to swallow several times before she could speak.

“I… wasn’t the one who kicked him,” Rainbow said.

“Oh?” Rarity asked, eyebrow raised. “If it wasn’t you, then who did?

Rainbow swallowed again. “It was Soarin’ who—

“Soarin’?” Applejack practically screeched. “What was he doin’ here? And what in Celestia’s blue sky did you expect bringin’ two short-fused stallions in the same stable?”

“Rumble is a foal,” Fluttershy interjected carefully.

“Girls,” Pinkie cut in, “Magic Con—”

“I know what Rumble is,” Applejack said, louder, “he’s a no-good foul-mouthed loose cannon just beggin’ for an excuse to go off.” She leaned back against the couch and crossed her arms. “Can’t believe I’m the only one seein’ he’s the problem,” she grumbled. “Scootaloo ain’t never been a troublemaker, not like this. Not like this,” she repeated, shaking her head.

“Are we seriously letting a colt get under our skin, dear?” Rarity asked. “We’re here to save Scootaloo, not burn a little boy at the stake.”

“I'm telling you, Rares, he's trouble,” Applejack insisted. “This whole ‘love’ business is trouble. They’re thinkin’ it’s somethin’ special, like they’re soulmates or somethin’, and y’all are takin’ ‘em serious. They ain't gotta clue, they ain't in love—heck none of them foals would know what love was even if bit 'em on the muzzle and left a mark. All this talk is makin’ em crazy, both of ‘em, but he’s more of a problem than she is—”

Twilight lit her horn and pulled the doll from Rainbow’s grasp. “I think we’re getting a little off track here,” she said, a little louder than strictly necessary. “Let’s try and focus, please.”

Applejack rolled her eyes but shut her mouth. Twilight nodded, then turned back to Rainbow.

“Let’s start at the beginning,” she said. “Who, exactly, was there last night? And why?”

Rainbow took a deep breath. “It was me,” she said. “Me and Scootaloo, and Rumble, and Soarin’. We had dinner, then watched a movie.”

Twilight nodded. “Okay. So, what exactly happened?”

“It was during the movie,” Rainbow said. “Rumble and Soarin’ had been picking at each other all night. And it…” she swallowed. “It got out of hoof.”

Twilight watched Rainbow’s face carefully for a moment, then gave a slight nod. “Okay,” she said, her voice betraying just a hint of relief. “Then what happened? How’d Rumble and Scootaloo get down to Fluttershy’s?”

Rainbow shrugged. “They left. I tried to stop ‘em, but they wouldn’t—”

“Pardon my Prench,” Rarity interjected, “but I’m going to call bullshit. If you care about these kids as much as you say,” she sneered, “Then why’d you let it happen?”

Rainbow shook her head. “It all happened so fast—”

“And why’d you let them leave?” Rarity snapped. “If he wasn’t in a state to fly, why’d you let them out of your sight?”

Rainbow’s eyes flashed. “For Celestia’s sake,” she spat, “are we gonna do this song and dance all day? Or are you gonna shut up for five seconds and let me finish?”

Rarity made an indignant little snort, then looked around the circle and noticed everyone glaring back at her. She leaned back into the couch and huffed. When Pinkie tried to reach carefully across her to grab the doll still sitting in Twilight’s lap, Rarity slapped her hoof away without looking.

Rainbow took several deep breaths and ran a hoof through her mane before she spoke again. “Like I said,” she began, “It was over, in, like, two seconds. And I never even expected him to do something so stupid. And still, I did what I could. When he started threatening to do worse to Scoots, I—” she gulped. “I kicked him. And threw him out. And I tried to help the kids, but they…”

Rainbow trailed off. They were quiet for just a moment, until Twilight cleared her throat.

“Well,” she said, “Soarin’ does have something of a reputation for having a short temper. At least behind closed doors.” She hesitated, then glanced around . “What?” she asked indignantly. “I’m a Princess. I have to keep up on these things.”

“Yes,” Rarity whispered to Applejack, “and so do the gossip rags.” Applejack smirked.

“I do not read gossip magazines—” began Twilight.

“Girls,” Fluttershy said, in a voice that made them all look up. Her voice was strange and quiet, but there was no condemnation in it, no hatred. It was the sort of voice that you heard when you discovered a hatching egg, or a cardboard box on your porch, or a wasps’ nest under your eaves.

Be quiet. Something big is about to happen.

One by one, they followed Fluttershy’s gaze. And, one by one, they saw: Twilight sat up a little straighter. Rarity clapped her hooves over her mouth. Pinkie’s eyes went wide. And Applejack’s mouth fell open, just the slightest bit.

Rainbow Dash was crying.

Twilight stood and walked gingerly over to the armchair. “It’s okay, Rainbow,” she said, slipping an arm around her shoulders, “It’s gonna be okay—”

“What do you say?” Rainbow erupted. “What do you say to her? I tried so hard to do good—to have the perfect evening—to do something that would make her give a damn about me. A-and, in two seconds, it all fell apart.” She took a deep, trembling breath—then reached over, wrapped her arms around Twilight, pulled her in, and buried her head in her shoulder. “Y-you’re never going to change,” Rainbow sobbed. “That’s what she said—after everything I’ve done, after everything I’ve tried—I’m never going to change. And—and—” Rainbow squeezed Twilight even harder and wept into her shoulder. Twilight, slightly mystified, looked up at the others for help, but they just stared back at her, eyes wide.

For a long, uncomfortable moment, there was no sound other than Rainbow crying. Then, suddenly, Fluttershy sniffled, and wiped at her own eyes. She stood, walked over to Rainbow, and put her arms around both her and Twilight, and pulled them tight.

Pinkie made a sad little noise, then stood and joined them; she was followed closely by Applejack, and, finally Rarity. No one spoke; no one needed to. Just the six of them, standing there, hugging each other, lending help to a friend in need—

It reminded Twilight, a little bit, of when she had become a princess. Not quite the same, of course—for one thing, there was no surge of magic this time, let alone no sudden, unexplained growth of wings—but, six friends, their hearts knit together to help one of their own—

Well. It was close enough for her.

“So, ladies,” Twilight said, “I think we all know what needs to happen next.”

She felt her friends shift against her as they all turned to look at her.

“I think,” she said, her mouth suddenly dry, “that we can all see that, whatever her faults, Rainbow is trying to do right by her daughter. And,” she added, “I’m willing to bet good bits that we wouldn’t do much better, if we were in her situation.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Twilight thought she saw a slow smile spread across Rainbow’s face.

“She already has it hard enough,” she continued, “and she still has a long way to go. So, what do you say,” she said, turning to glance at each of them—as well as she could, anyways—“let’s not make it any harder on her, okay? Let’s help her and Scootaloo out as much as we can. Or, if we can’t bring ourselves to do that, let’s at least stay out of her way.”

Immediately, Fluttershy nodded. She didn’t speak, just made a sort of squeak.

Applejack glanced at her and sighed. “I don’t cotton with that Rumble kid—”

“That wasn’t the question,” Twilight interjected, with the slightest hint of acid in her voice.

Applejack shot her a dirty look. “But,” she continued, “ I guess that don’t matter none, if all we’re talkin’ ‘bout is gettin’ a little filly back to her mama.”

“Does the little filly get a say in all this?” Rarity asked, her tone cold.

“That wasn’t the question either,” Twilight cut in again. “Scootaloo still gets a choice. All I’m saying is that we need to be there for a friend who needs us.”

Rarity shot a glance at Twilight, then sighed.

“Fine,” she said. “I’ll do it. But, if I hear so much as a peep out of Scootaloo about you—”

“You won’t,” Rainbow said, her voice muffled under all the bodies.

“Good,” Rarity said—then smiled.

Pinkie glanced around eagerly, then squealed. “Drama over!” she shrieked. "Magic Conch Party! My place, fifteen minutes!” She wormed her way out of the huddle, then turned and bounded out the door.

Twilight followed her with her eyes, then sighed. “I’ll go after her,” she said, then, likewise, extracted herself and jogged out the door, spreading her wings. Applejack followed, as did Rarity, who stopped on the threshold. She turned and glared at Rainbow, before pointing to her eyes, then at Rainbow. Rainbow smirked a little as she snuck out.

When the door slammed behind her, both Fluttershy and Rainbow jumped a little. Fluttershy sighed, then quickly turned away.

“I… I’m sorry,” she said, her voice trembling. “I… I didn’t know… The kids didn’t say anything, and I thought…” She swallowed. “To think you’d do that to Rumble—a-and after all he means to her—it just made me so—”

“Don’t worry about it,” Rainbow said, slugging her gently in the shoulder. “Things worked out. Though,” she said, grinning wickedly, “you do owe me one.”

Fluttershy grinned. “I guess that makes us even, then,” she said.

Rainbow smiled back. “True,” she said. “But hey,” she said, “at least it wasn’t as bad as that time with Iron Will…”

Fluttershy snorted, then laughed—and soon, Rainbow found herself laughing along.

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