• 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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19. Descent (Part l)

“Ya ready, Dashie?”

Scootaloo looked up at Rainbow, the faintest snarl on her lips. She wore a thick, poofy parka—Sweetie Belle’s, maybe?—a set of golden-orange snow goggles, and, oddly enough, a moth-eaten, hoof-knitted scarf. Rainbow had tried to buy her a new one, but she was weirdly attached to that old, nasty thing...

Scootaloo looked back down at her board, and clipped her back-left hoof into the bindings on her snowboard, just like Bunny Slope had shown them. As Rainbow watched her, she felt herself smile a little. Damn, she thought to herself, my kid is awesome.

Scootaloo looked back up at Rainbow and scowled. “You coming?” she snapped.

Rainbow stared at her for a split-second longer before she gasped a little then shook her head. “S-sure,” she said, “lemme just—”

Rainbow opened her wing and dropped her snowboard onto the snow. The bottom was so scuffed it was almost gray, but she kicked at it, flipping it over. On the other side, a cutesy, anime-style pony surrounded by Japonies lettering smiled up at her—and, branded right across her face, were the words GALLOPING GORGE SKI RESORT RENTAL BOARD—RETURN FOR DEPOSIT. Rainbow looked into the eyes of the anime filly as she, too, clipped her back-left hoof into the bindings.

(She winced a little as the metal teeth on the bindings bit into the keratin. It didn’t actually hurt; it was more the principle of the thing. She hated people touching her hooves. Even herself.)

Rainbow looked up, only to see Scootaloo’s scowl had deepened. She scoffed, and blew a tuft of mane out of her eyes. “Finally,” she groaned.

Scootaloo turned away to look down the slope. She took a deep breath, then wobbled up onto her hind legs, holding her arms out for balance. She planted her free hoof in the glittering snow—

“Wait a sec, squirt,” Rainbow said suddenly. “I gotta—”

Scootaloo shot her a savage look over her shoulder.

“What’s the matter, Rainbow?” she spat. “Chicken?”

And, with that, Scootaloo shoved off down the hill. Rainbow watched her slide away. As she started down the slope, Scootaloo clipped her free hoof into the bindings, wove around a small crowd of schoolfillies, and disappeared down the hill.

“I’m not a chicken,” Rainbow muttered to no one in particular, as she looked down at her hooves. “It’s just… my binding is loose. Gotta have that looked at before someone twists an ankle or something. Yeah.”

She looked down the slope after Scootaloo—now a speck of orange in a sea of white, already in line for the ski lift again—and sighed. “It’s her turn this week,” she reminded herself. “Her turn. Just—just put up with it for a while, and next week you can go bowling or something.”

Truth be told, she had no idea why Scootaloo had been so insistent on going snowboarding. But, when she’d picked her up from Rarity’s that morning, it was the only thing she would talk about. But, despite her own feelings on the subject, Rainbow had promised Cadance—promised herself—that she was going to do her best to be a good mama. So, snowboarding it was, then—despite the cost of the ski passes, the equipment rentals, and these damn—

Rainbow groaned aloud, then reached up and fumbled with the strap on her goggles. As soon as she saw them, she knew she had to have them—they had this awesome mirror finish that looked like a rainbow in the right light—but they were turning out to be more trouble than they were worth. The stupid strap kept on pinching her ear, and they fogged a little too easily, and they had this weird reddish tint that made everything look weirdly pink.

But, she reminded herself again, it was all for Scootaloo. Even if all this cleaned out her not-insubstantial bank account, it would be worth it. Because it was all for her.

Rainbow looked down the slope again—down to where she knew Scootaloo was, so far away she could barely see her—and something began to nag at her, at the back of her brain, something painful and sad. Rainbow pushed it back, swallowed her nerves, then clipped one hoof into the board and stood on her hind legs.

Scootaloo plopped onto the lift seat as it swept up behind her. She sighed, then looked back over her shoulder as the ski lift carried her up and up. She could see Rainbow, about two-thirds of the way back through the line, looking just a little bit green around the gills. Scoots turned and followed the line of lift chairs with her eyes as they rose up the mountain, then sighed. This lift took them up to the top of the beginner’s course—a short, shallow, green-circle hill called Sunshine Slopes. Part of her wanted to transfer to the next lift; try one of the harder runs, maybe even that tantalizing black diamond that Bunny Slope had warned them about— but she knew full well what would happen if she did. If she even so much as mentioned it, precious little Dashie would have a hissy fit and burst a blood vessel. She could hear it now: “Scootsie, you’re not ready for that one yet…”

Scootaloo lolled her head back on the headrest and groaned. She’d been excited to go on this ski trip—anything that got her out of Ponyville was a winner from the start—she couldn’t help but be just the slightest bit irritated. She’d have much rather been in the company of Applebloom and Sweetie Belle, perhaps their sisters as well … maybe even Rumble, while she was at it… in short, she sighed to herself, anyone but Dashie.

It had started before they’d even hit the slopes. While in the ski shop, before they’d even picked up their boards, Rainbow had spotted a goofy-looking pair of snow goggles that she decided she couldn’t live without. Scootaloo had tolerated her antics—that is, until Rainbow had spotted the scarf. It was a garish blue-and-yellow, with the Wonderbolts logo on one end, and designed for a filly easily a third of her size. But still, Rainbow had almost insisted on buying it for her—she’d even called Scootaloo’s scarf a—

Scootaloo shook her head. No. Today was going to be a good day. She was going to enjoy herself up on the mountain, and that was that. Dashie or no, she was going to have fun.

Scootaloo hopped off the chair as it crested the hill, landed in the ice-slick snow at the top of the run, and coasted a few feet away on her board. She swept her gaze over Sunshine Slopes again, plotting a new route. That one looked good, if she—

She gasped and whipped her gaze to the left—but no, it wasn’t her. Just a pink mare wearing a sky-blue jacket. Rainbow hadn’t made it up to the top of the slope yet, thank Celestia.

Scootaloo sighed heavily, then pushed off again. Her board dipped down and glided along the snow. As she started to pick up speed, Scootaloo took a deep breath of the frigid winter air. She always loved the wind in her fur. She had no need for a helmet up here in the snow; she just let her mane whip around as she cut her way down the slope.

At first, the run was normal enough; some swerving around trees and posts, her path making a smooth waveform in the snow as she mobbed down the slope, her speed slowly building. She hit a small jump, sending her a cool six feet of air, did a showy little turn in midair, and made a somewhat wobbly landing. She managed to stay up, though, and slid faster and faster down the mountainside.

The little shit… Rainbow mouthed as she trudged along the base of Sunshine Slopes. She had always wanted to go skiing, but that wasn’t why she was here; she was really here to spend time with Scootaloo—but Celestia knows where she had gone. Every group of fillies and colts she saw raised her hopes a little higher—only to be dashed when not a single one even looked her way.. The last time she’d really seen Scoots was up at the top of that hill; as soon as Bunny Slope let them off the leash, Scootaloo had snowboarded away and never looked back. Rainbow sighed heavily. At least, she thought to herself, it wasn’t entirely her fault this time.

Rainbow climbed back on the ski lift for another run, then leaned heavily on the arm of the ski lift. She had always wanted to go skiing, but her heart just wasn’t in it today. It was a little fun, she had to admit, especially when she really got going. Something about the feeling of the board against the fluffy snow, the faint hiss of the winter air...

Rainbow glanced up at the terminus of the ski lift. It stood at the top of Sunshine Slopes, but, a few feet away, stood another ski lift, this one marked with a single black diamond. “The Challenger,” it said in giant letters. Bunny Slope had said it started with something like a twenty-foot drop off a cliff, followed by a fifty-degree downslope through thick trees. Rainbow considered herself pretty ballsy, sure—but that just sounded suicidal.

Rainbow gazed idly for a few seconds at the other ski lift—then sat up straight. If that course was so dangerous, then what in Celestia’s name was Scootaloo doing at the end of the line?

Scootaloo was so fixated on the lift that she didn’t even notice Rainbow approach.

Rainbow licked her lips nervously.

“Hey, uh…” she began hesitantly. “Looks pretty scary, huh?”

Scootaloo jumped, sighed heavily, then turned to face her. “You would think it’s scary,” she snapped. “You big chick—”

Rainbow’s eyes flashed. “That’s it,” she said, “You’re not going.”

Scootaloo’s eyes widened, then narrowed. A chill breeze swept across the snow, cutting through their fur.

“Says who?” Scootaloo hissed.

“Says me,” Rainbow growled back. “No way under Celestia’s sun am I gonna let you drop off that cliff and break your—your everything.”

Scootaloo’s gaze hardened. ”You’re not the boss of me, Dashie,” she spat. “If you wanna hang out here and be a big scaredy-pony, fine—but you’re not gonna ruin my fun.” Scootaloo turned and jogged back to her place in line, already three or four ponies ahead.

“Fun?” Rainbow repeated. Her eyes widened, and she dashed forward, grabbed Scootaloo, and yanked her out of line. “Fun?!” she shrieked. “What the hay is fun about doing something that could get you killed?”

Scootaloo snarled. “Never thought I’d hear that from you,” she growled. “Then again, I guess you have been a bit of a coward lately—”

“Excuse me?” hissed Rainbow.

For a half-second, Scootaloo shrank away, fear in her eyes. But then, something hot and powerful welled up inside of her, and she stood tall again, and shot a withering glare back into Rainbow’s scowl.

“You heard me,” Scootaloo said, her voice low and dangerous. She turned back to the line. “Go and wait in the lodge until I’m done. Maybe ask the kitchen for some graham crackers and a bottle while you’re at it.”

Rainbow stared after, eyes wide and mouth slightly open, for two or three seconds. Then, she gritted her teeth and charged forward, cutting off Scootaloo just as she was about to board the lift.

“No,” she snarled.

Scootaloo glared up at her. “Get out of my way—” she began.

“Shut up,” Rainbow spat. Scootaloo’s eyes widened, and she took a half step backwards.

“Go back to the lodge,” Rainbow continued, her voice barely above a whisper. “Turn in your board. We’re going home.”

Scootaloo looked up at her as her mouth dropped open. The look on Rainbow’s face brooked no argument. And yet—Scootaloo felt her temper rising again—this was the face that had done her so much hurt, so much suffering—what right did she have…?

Scootaloo bent down and grabbed her board. She balanced it precariously over her back, then made a break for the lift, ducking under Rainbow as she did. Rainbow’s eyes widened, but she spun after her, reached out, and grabbed Scootaloo’s scarf with her teeth.

And, very suddenly, time seemed to stop.

Rainbow’s teeth sunk into the scarf. She strained, pulling back, but Scootaloo continued forward. Instead, the scarf began to slip from around Scootaloo’s neck. Scootaloo herself, feeling the cloth slip away, began to turn, her face a mix of horror, fear, and anger.

But Rainbow didn’t notice. Or, if she did, she didn’t care. All she knew is that the scarf wasn’t getting her what she wanted—and what she wanted was for Scootaloo to heel. She let go of the scarf, then lunged, tackling Scootaloo to the snow. Scootaloo’s board slipped from her back and landed in the snow. The scarf hung in the air for a split-second, then fluttered gently through the air, and landed beside it.

Scootaloo cried out as Rainbow’s weight pressed her deeper into the snow. “Leggo!” she cried. “Gerroff—!”

But Rainbow, eyes aflame, did not hear. Or, if she did, she didn’t listen.

The wind swept across the snow, blowing stray flakes with it. It blew up and over Rainbow, too enraged to feel it; it blew over Scootaloo, who, shielded by the body of her mother, barely registered it; it blew across the fallen snowboard, which rocked uncomfortably where it lay…

And it blew across the scarf.

For just a moment, it seemed the wind would leave it be—it would blow across and through it, and leave it where it lay.

But then, the wind caught it. The scarf billowed up like a sail, and began to lift away. It drifted across the snow, then gently lifted up into the air, and blew away into the bright blue sky.

“No!” Scootaloo shrieked. She squirmed, frantically trying to wriggle free, but Rainbow was too heavy for her. She snarled, then opened her mouth wide, and bit down, hard, on Rainbow’s leg.

And, suddenly, time snapped back into motion.

Rainbow yelped. She jerked back, then stood. Scootaloo scrambled to her hooves and looked frantically after the scarf, but it was already drifting far away, over the trees, an off-color speck against the blue sky. She let out a little gasping cry, then turned back to Rainbow.

“You—you—” she stammered. “You bitch!”

Rainbow paled.

My mom knitted that for me!” Scootaloo shrieked. “And now it’s—it’s—it’s gone! And it’s all your fault!”

Rainbow Dash stared at Scootaloo—and something in her brain flipped. Rainbow had insisted on wearing her chrome-finished, pinkish-red goggles nearly all morning—almost long enough for the color to simply fade into the background. However, as she looked at Scootaloo—who, through her goggles, looked orange-red against the pink snow and purple sky—Rainbow realized, very suddenly, that something was wrong. Horribly wrong. And had been for far too long. Rainbow reached up and fumbled with her rose-colored goggles—and, as she did, she looked up at Scootaloo.

There she stood—her Scootsie. Small, delicate, afraid, incomplete. She needed a mom, a real Mom, even if she didn’t know it. If she could just let go of her anger a little, let bygones be bygones, and learn to forgive, she could have everything she’d ever wanted—and Rainbow was going to make her, if it was the last thing she did.

And then, Rainbow found the strap. She slid the goggles off. And, in the sudden, blinding white of the snow, Scootaloo changed.

Scootaloo stood there, four years older and six inches taller, her chest heaving, her eyes glistening with hot, angry tears. She wore a borrowed parka two sizes two large for her. She slept in a borrowed bed, in a borrowed room, in a borrowed life, and the only thing that had ever really been hers had just blown away in the icy wind. This wasn’t the anger of a petulant child, a spoiled brat crying for a sucker—it was pure rage, hard and sharp, dredged from the bottom of her soul and forged through a lifetime of hardship and want into a white-hot spear, aimed at the heart of the one pony in the world who had truly done her wrong. The one pony in the world who genuinely deserved whatever she had coming.

Rainbow stared, her eyes wide. The rose-colored goggles slipped from her grasp and dropped, unheeded, into the snow beside her.

“You don’t know me!” Scootaloo exploded. “You think I’m a wimp! You think I’m a punk! You think you know everything, and I’m dumb and stupid and an idiot! Y-you—” She took a deep, shaking breath as she trembled with rage. “You think you own me. Well, guess what?” she snarled. “You don’t.”

Rainbow opened her mouth. “I—”

“Shut up!” Scootaloo howled. “You’ve never listened to me! Never! Not once! And I’m sick of it!”

Rainbow clamped her mouth shut. By now, steam was shooting out of Scootaloo’s nostrils in hot little bursts.

“You—you think you can tell me what to do. Even though you gave me up. Even though you abandoned me—twice. That doesn’t make you my mom. That makes you a coward. A chicken. You haven’t fought for a thing your whole life. You’re just a spoiled bully who doesn’t care about anypony but themselves. Well—” She took a deep breath. “Screw you, Rainbow.”

Scootaloo turned and started stomping down the hill. Rainbow stood there, watching her, frozen, for a split-second. Then, her eyes widened.

“Wait—!” she cried out.

Scootaloo whipped her head around and pinned Rainbow to the ground with an icy glare. “You wanna know why I wanted to go snowboarding?” she snarled. “Because snowboarding is something you do by yourself.” Her eyes flashed. “You just won’t leave me alone. You don’t get that I don’t wanna see you, don’t wanna be with you—don’t even wanna be near you. So, if what it takes to get you to shut up about it is going on a trip where I never have to talk to you—?” her eyes narrowed.. “Then so be it.”

She turned and headed back down the hill. Rainbow stood there on top of the hill, listening to the wind howl. She swallowed several times without speaking.

Scootaloo shoved past a colt, not caring about his indignant squawk, nor the ponies who turned to stare after her. She didn’t care about anything. All she wanted to do was be anywhere she was not. Somewhere in the back of her brain, she knew what she had said was wrong—if she still lived with Mrs. Harbour, she would be grounded for a month, easy—but, at the same time, she knew it was true.

Scootaloo stomped into the lodge, then threw herself into one of the armchairs around the big fireplace in the corner. After a moment, she turned to look at the window, where, outside, she could see little snowflakes falling—little snowflakes who only wanted to find someplace they could rest, but were blown about incessantly by the winds they couldn’t control, winds that didn’t give a damn about what they wanted.

Scootaloo scowled and squirmed deeper into her seat.


I’ll never love you.

Rainbow wasn’t a fan of being berated. Nor was she keen on wandering aimlessly along a mountain looking for windblown scarf. Yet, here she was: shivering in the cold darkness of the woods.

She felt… hollow. Like something had been torn out of her insides. She felt like she should feel something—surprise, anger, shame, any or all of the above. Instead, she just felt broken, like all the different parts of her didn’t line up like they used to. Every step she took, something ground up against something else with a squeak or a shiver or a groan, like a machine badly in need of a tune-up.

It hadn’t been the first time someone had yelled at her. Not by a long shot. Not even the first time by someone so young. But, for the first time, something inside her had cracked—this time, the shell she’d put up to protect herself so long ago had finally started to give way.

She was right, Rainbow thought to herself. Princess’s New Clothes: it’s the kid who can see through the lies. Rainbow had been terrible; she just hadn’t let herself realize it yet. She was too fixated on who she wanted Scootaloo to be. But now, seeing her as she really was

Rainbow hung her head as she crunched through the snow. There was so little of herself left, now that her dreams had shattered and blown away. All her foolish, stupid, insane dreams. This was real life, not a storybook; there was no “Happily Ever After,” not without an asterisk. True, Scootaloo had been… difficult, but she had every right to. At least as long as she had a pony twice her age with half her sense, blind to everything she truly was, trying to force herself on her.

Rainbow had hoped, somewhere deep inside herself, that everything she was doing would somehow make things better. To be fair, she had done a lot… fixed up Scootaloo’s room real nice, installed guard railings and a rope ladder on her front porch… but to hope that a literal coat of paint would cover up all the heartache was, well…

Rainbow sighed. She was rapidly running out of synonyms for “stupid.”

Rainbow shivered and trotted on through the snow. She felt like, somewhere deep down, she should actually be grateful; she didn’t like being left in the dark about something, and, if it took her own daughter cussing her out on the side of a mountain to force her to figure something out, so be it. But that still didn’t make things any easier... at least, not with all the other trouble she was in at the moment…

Rainbow sighed again. It had probably been Cheerilee who had squealed to the Authorities. Rainbow didn’t hate her, though; telling the cops when her students were in danger was part of her job—even if it was all based on the accusations of a screaming colt. But it didn’t make things any easier for her, that’s for sure.

Thankfully, Thunderlane was competent enough to take over the Weather Patrol by himself on short notice, and Rainbow knew a good lawyer who owed her a favor. But all the good intentions in the world wouldn’t have saved her—not if it hadn’t been for her willingness to testify in Soarin’s case. But, even though her lawyer had managed to talk the judge down from felony child abandonment, she was still staring down the barrel of a hefty community service sentence. It wasn’t official, though; her sentencing was on Tuesday.

Rainbow groaned. When her lawyer found out what happened today, he was going to kill her...

Rainbow walked on for a few more steps, then sighed again. Whatever happened, it was all going to come back and bite her in the ass in a bad way. She had worked so hard to keep anyone from finding out the sort of trouble she was in… and, come Tuesday, word would spread like wildfire...

No. Rainbow gritted her teeth.

No, she was going to fix things. She wasn’t going to let even this break her.

It was going to take her a long time. And it might not ever happen. But she was going to prove herself to Scootaloo. Even if she couldn’t bring her home—not this month, not this year, not ever—she was going to do her damndest to bring back that little light to her eyes. The one that sparkled whenever she saw her hero.

And it started with this scarf. The little piece of cloth that had meant so little and so much all at the same time.

Rainbow looked around her. That scarf couldn’t have blown this far, could it? She had been walking through the woods for what felt like hours by this point. The snow and the gloom was starting to get to her—she could feel the cold seeping into her bones—in fact, she almost wished she was back at the lodge, by the fire…

No, she thought. Not until I find that scarf.

She trudged on through the snow, trying not to look up at the trees that were starting to close around her...

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