• 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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21. Deliberation

Rainbow Dash didn’t like waking up in near-total darkness, nor did she like the fact that even lifting a hoof felt like moving a mountain, yet there she was, looking around the dim haze that began as darkness, but slowly became a hospital room.

It was so cold… so hot… so lonely.

She felt many things as she stared up at the ceiling: relief, regret, remorse. The last she remembered, she was alone in the dead of a long winter’s night, in the thick of a mountain forest, Even as the bitter frost cut deep into her, she was sweating bullets and burning, first went her hat, jacket, mittens; to no avail… it was so hot, but so brutally chilly—

Rainbow knew that she was safe now. Despite all the horrors, they had rescued her. She was back in Ponyville now.

But what about…

Something warm and heavy shifted against Rainbow’s hooves. She had noticed that thing before, but she had thought it was just her tired old bones before. Despite how much it hurt and how stiff her movement was, she looked down, and over the covers, she caught a glimpse of ruffled, orange feathers and fur curled up at the end of her bed. Draped over its shoulders like a protective blanket was a worn, threadbare scarf.

Rainbow reached out a weak, trembling hoof. She hesitated, then just barely touched the tip of one single feather. Scootaloo stirred a little and groaned.

Scootaloo simply grumbled and shifted for a little, her eyes closed and face buried in the sheets. Finally, her cheek gently brushed the cold steel of the railing of the hospital bed, and she jolted awake with a little yelp.

Scootaloo turned her heavy head and looked at Rainbow Dash, her sleepy eyes bloodshot, a darkened ring of fur beneath them.

For a moment, she simply stared back at Rainbow, blinking groggily at her before gingerly getting to her hooves. She shakily stepped towards Rainbow Dash, her legs quivering more and more with each half-step.

“Rainbow Dash?” Scootaloo croaked, “Y--you’re alive.” Her voice began to crack as her chest heaved with every other breath. “You looked so… ”

Compounding Scootaloo’s trauma was seeing Rainbow’s seemingly dead eyes, her expression displaying no emotion.

“Dead… ” Scootaloo breathed.

Rainbow jerked back as Scootaloo threw herself forward, her wings buzzing frantically, and wrapped her hooves around Rainbow Dash.

“I’m so sorry,” Scootaloo sobbed. “I was so mean, I said all of those stupid things and you almost…” Scootaloo shuddered “Because of me... “

Scootaloo remembered their fight, memories of her berating Rainbow spliced with the emptiness and impact of what followed... she cried even harder as her mind's eye fell back to that dark, frigid scene, a limp and lifeless Rainbow Dash half-buried in snow.Each time she saw that shape, it shook her to the very core and made her want to throw up. Just seeing the snow gently fall out of the hospital window brought about a sense of dread and loneliness she couldn’t escape.

I’m so sorry.

Scootaloo jumped, gasping as Rainbow’s tremoring hoof clumsily stroked her mane, the other holding the weeping filly tenderly against Rainbow’s chest.

Scootaloo swallowed hard, squeezing her eyes as her throat throbbed in pain. As Scootaloo held her hooves tightly around Rainbow Dash, her warm, blue fur brushing softly against her cheek, Scootaloo was once against struck with flashes of painful imagery. A cold shock ran down her spine as the realization of what might have been lost.

Rainbow turned away from her as Scootaloo’s eyes opened, her hooves gently slid down onto the bed. Scootaloo held Rainbow Dash for a moment longer, listening to the gentle rise and fall of her chest before letting go. She gently stepped away, then wandered back to the foot of the bed where she laid down on her side, eyes fixed on the dozing Rainbow.

I’m a terrible friend. She thought

After a moment, Scootaloo’s look of sorrow transformed into one of resolve. She was going to do right by Rainbow—to make up for what she had done. She didn’t quite know how, but that determination stuck with her as her own eyes grew heavy once more.

In a strange, some could say twisted, way, Scootaloo was comforted by the relative silence of the Ponyville hospital. Lying there, she could hear Dash’s breathing, the whirr of the central air, the occasional burst of distant, reverberating chatter and medical machinery, horseshoes clopping against the laminate flooring past their door, and other rhythmic, soothing sounds of safety and security. She liked this quiet and warmth.

She raised her head, and saw Rainbow Dash still fast asleep.

As Scootaloo watched Rainbow sleep, she heard a set of hoofsteps approach the door. Several, actually. Scootaloo lifted her heavy head just in time to see Rarity, Applejack, and their sisters round into view, followed by Twilight and Fluttershy. Scootaloo straightened up as the adults trotted towards her--but, just as Scootaloo braced herself for the inevitable hugs, the three of them swept right past her, towards the still-sleeping Rainbow. Scootaloo, despite herself, pouted--just a little, though.

Nurse Redheart, still standing in the doorway, cleared her throat. “She’s recovering very well,” she said to Rainbow’s friends, as she walked to the foot of the bed and glanced at the chart there. “They were able to get her to a warm place and comb out the ice and snow out of her coat at the resort, and get her here before it got too much worse. Now it’s just a matter of time, and rest.”

“Thank goodness,” Twilight said, relieved. “Do they know what happened?”

“From what we were told, she was found unconscious in the woods off the resort. She’d removed her clothes, fallen asleep in the snow... Typical symptoms of severe hypothermia, but still very serious stuff. She’s lucky for sure, but she’s going to be on bedrest for a while.”

Twilight glanced between a sleeping Rainbow and a preoccupied Nurse Redheart, “So, what do we do?” she asked. “I mean, how long will she need… ”

“About a month, I’d say.” Redheart said. “Nothing that requires full-time assistance, just lots of rest, some warm, healthy meals, and help getting up and around.”

Scootaloo, half-listening, simply nodded and lay her head down.

She flinched as a hoof draped over her shoulder, turning to see Sweetie Belle smiling gently at her, her soft compassionate gaze filling Scootaloo with a warmth that seemed to melt the icy chill away.

“Scootaloo looks pretty beat,” Sweetie Belle said, looking up at Rarity. “Are you sure about—”

“Dear, we discussed this,” Rarity cut in. “Rainbow is going to be here a little longer. I think it would be best if Scootaloo got some fresh air, some time away from everything.”

“She’s fine to go, no injuries for her,” Nurse Redheart interrupted. “Just a little tuckered out is all.”

Scootaloo’s ears perked up. She stood, arched her back and let out a yawn.

“A few weeks?” Twilight said. “I suppose we should figure out some kind of accommodations, then,” she sighed. “I wish I could, but I’ve got a busy trip to Canterlot this weekend, with a speaking engagement and a meeting with Celestia… ”

“I wouldn’t even know where to put her up, ‘cept the drafty old barn,” Then Applejack frowned, her eyes wandering until they landed on Fluttershy. “If we gotta, then we could, but I think Flutters’ would be a much better place—if you don’t mind, of course,” she said, turning to Fluttershy.

Fluttershy answered immediately. “Well, my cottage is a little crowded too. Between Discord visiting so often and a bunch of sick animals that I’ll be taking in this week, I wouldn’t have any room.”

All eyes turned to Rarity, who squeaked in surprise. “W-well, if it must be said,” she stammered ”my boutique is essentially a storefront. I can put her in our guest room, but that’s hardly comfortable, not to mention that Sweetie will be staying for the next three weeks while Mother and Father cruise the South Luna seas.”

“So,” Twilight glanced about worriedly, “Nopony can make it work?”

“I’ll do it.”

Now all eyes, some curious, others critical, turned to Scootaloo. She suddenly felt very small, her courage of just a moment ago, the courage that made her speak up, already melting away. She swallowed, then cleared her throat.“I... used to help my foster mom with sick foals, and…”

“Honey, that’s very sweet of you,” Redheart cut in. “But while Rainbow’s condition isn’t critical, this is a serious matter.”

“I know that,” Scootaloo insisted. “Please, I’m responsible for… this. Let me help. I—I could have Fluttershy stop by and check on us... and Rumble could—”

Applejack scowled. “The whole reason Rainbow is here is because you two always fight and fester. The last thing we need is for you to kick up a ruckus when she’s bedsick.”

“But I wouldn’t--” Scootaloo fell silent as Sweetie lay a hoof on her shoulder. A lone tear rolled down her face. “I didn’t mean for her to get sick… or hurt…” she whimpered.

“Scootaloo,” Rarity began carefully, “what you need is rest and respite from… from everything.” She shook her head. “It’s not that you can’t, as much as you shouldn’t—”

“Right now, Rainbow don’t need no more trouble,” Applejack said firmly, “and you and that mouthy little colt a’ yours ain’t gonna be nothin’ but.” She shook her head. “The fact we’re even discussin’ this is nothin’ but wastin’ time. Y’all got school, now get.”

Scootaloo looked between Rarity and Applejack, the former with a faint, long-suffering smile, while the later simply glared at her. As Scootaloo looked at them, she felt herself wilt, a familiar hitching deep in her chest threatening to overwhelm her.

Applejack snarled. “I said get.”

Scootaloo watched Sweetie lead Apple Bloom out the door before she herself followed the girls into the hall, glaring the eldest Apple as the door closed behind them.

Redheart collected a dirty food tray, checked some things, and trotted out into the hall.

Slowly, the sound of Redheart’s footsteps faded into the light mess of noise beyond the door, leaving the light tick of a clock and the hum of the air conditioning to rule the silence.

Rarity was the first to speak.

“You should know better,” she said, scowling at Applejack.

Applejack simply rolled her eyes. “Ain’t gonna let some little foal talk like that,” she said. “Don’t matter who she is.”

“We’ve been over this,” Rarity hissed. “You shouldn’t talk down to her, and you certainly don’t try to talk above her. That simply serves to make things difficult.”

“Look, Rares,” Applejack said with a sigh, “I know you like avoidin’ conflict, but if that little filly is going to ever grow into proper mare someday, then ya gotta put your hoof down, lay down the law. Ya can’t just let her sass back like that. Just look where that’s got her,” she said sourly.

“Oh, so now this is somehow my fault?” Rarity growled. “Just who the hell do you think you are—?”

“Girls! Please,” Twilight cut in. “Save the mudslinging for after we get Rainbow and Scootaloo situated. We will… entertain the proposals put forward, and reconvene later this afternoon. Give us some time to, well, think. Right now, let’s give them some time to recover.”

“Ain’t no point in entertai--”

Twilight’s eyes flashed. “We will reconvene later this afternoon.” she hissed. “It’s about time we get moving, too. Let Rainbow get some rest.”

Applejack sighed, taking one last concerned glance towards Rainbow.

“See ya then, I suppose.” she said simply before heading into the hall.

Scootaloo began to perk up a little as the sterile hospital air gave way to the crisp outdoors, the sound of birds, and the blinding brilliance of the sun against the glistening snow. That first crunch as Sweetie Belle stepped into the snow made her shudder as the sights and sounds of the cold mountain woods rushed back with a hiss and a flash.

“So… what happened last night?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“We got in a fight, and she stormed off into the woods or something. It got dark, and the ponies at the lodge got all nervous… turns out she was frozen in the middle of the woods, and…” Scootaloo shuddered. “It was kinda scary, actually.”

“Yikes,” Sweetie Belle said, frowning. “Well, aside from everything...” she began carefully, “...did you have any fun?”

“Oh yeah,” Scootaloo grinned a little. “Snowboarding is super fun. The three of us are totally going to have to go sometime.” She sighed. “Nice to be home, though. Ugh.”

As they approached the schoolhouse, some familiar faces came into focus: Diamond Tiara, Snips and Snails, Button Mash…

Scootaloo’s face soured a little as Rumble was nowhere to be seen.

“The one time he’s absent,” Scootaloo muttered under her breath, looking one last time from the top of the hill to confirm her colt-who-was-also-a-friend was indeed a no-show.


Scootaloo screamed and kicked behind her with full force. She whipped her head around to see Button Mash lying on the ground and laughing hysterically. Scootaloo glared daggers at him as Sweetie Belle tried to cover her own smirk..

“Alright, alright, you got me. Real funny,” Scootaloo growled.

“Well,” Button Mash said between snorts, “I figured since your play date was in Cloudsdale today, I could mess with ya and get away with it.” His eyes glittered. “Also, you do kinda deserve it for skipping out on on my birthday.”

“Oh….yeah,” Scootaloo squirmed a little. “Sorry about that.”

“No big,” Button smirked. “I loved what you got me—Awakening of the Griffinstone, you know how rare that cart is? Epic game, too.”

“Yeah,” Scootaloo said with a playful nudge. “ ‘S why I got it. Glad you liked it. But…” Scootaloo blinked “Wait, you said Rumble was in Cloudsdale? What’s he doing up there?”

Button’s smirk fell.

“What... what he always does every other week?” Button said incredulously “You know, the flight academy stuff?”

Scootaloo, still staring at him, shook her head.

“H—how do you of all ponies not know that? He never shuts up about it. It’s either gloating about how well her placed, or bitching about how much he hates it.” Button rolled his eyes(?)

Scootaloo frowned. “Not with me, I guess,” she said with a shrug.

“Well, that makes sense, seein’ how you’re… y’know,” Button gestured vaguely, “...you. You know, the whole… flapping thing with the wings… the thing you--”

“I get it!” Scootaloo snarled.

“Yeesh, I was just saying,” Button frowned. “Already got a stick up your ass, huh?”

“Hey!” Sweetie growled, “Give her a break, she’s… had a rough weekend.”

Scootaloo rolled her eyes. “More like worst weekend.”

Button frowned. “That bad, huh?”

“Yeah,” Scootaloo frowned. “Rainbow Dash got hurt real bad...” She looked away.“...and it’s all my fault.”

“Whoa,” Button sucked in a breath, “she okay?”

“Better than she was,” Sctooaloo sighed. “I offered to help her when she gets out—she’s gonna need it, but instead I got lectured by—” she shuddered “—Applejack.”

“Applebloom’s sister?” Button asked.

“Yeah,” Scootaloo growled. “I swear, she hates me as much as she does Rumble now.”

Button frowned. “From what I’ve heard, she can be kind of a bitch.”

“Kind of?” Scootaloo scoffed. “I play nice because she’s my friend’s sister, but, argh, she’s just so preachy and rude. And she so annoying with her stupid, ‘this is the way we do things’ … ugh.”

Button’s eyes went wide “Uh… Scootaloo… ”

“Like, she couldn’t just say, ‘No Scootaloo, we’re the big ponies. You’re too young for that kind of responsibility.’ She had to go on and on about how much of a brat I am and how terrible Rumble is, Like, for the love of Celestia, just shut up already—”

“A’hem.” Applebloom pursed her lip as she waited, an eyebrow raised questioningly.

Scootaloo turned around to see Appleboom.

“What was that you were sayin’ ‘bout my sister, Scoots?”

Scootaloo knew that look Applebloom was giving her. It was the last thing Rumble saw before being tackled and smacked around. It was that cocky, overconfident attitude she always got when she started to argue. Scootaloo had never liked it, and she certainly didn’t like it now. Part of her thought it best to just drop it and move on, but another part of her really didn’t get why she had to stick her nose in everything, just like… No.

Scootaloo felt her blood boil. She hadn’t slept right since blacking out on a train, she hadn’t had a word of good news since last week, and frankly, the last thing she needed was another Applejack, nagging and belittling her for every single thing.

She took a small step towards Applebloom, her anger easily overshadowing any fear.

“You heard me,” Scootaloo snarled with a look that made Sweetie’s blood run cold.

“Girls,” Sweetie began carefully but firmly, “l-let’s just drop it alright? It’s been a rough weekend, let’s just—”

“And let her bad mouth my sister like that?” Apple Bloom cried. She shook her head firmly. “Nuh-uh.” She took another step towards Scootaloo, her face twisted into an angry scowl.

Button swallowed, knowing fully well what Applebloom was capable of. If this was anything like last time, Scootaloo was either going to give up--or go down.

“I don’t get how you can still be good friends with that mule, Rumble, either,” Apple Bloom hissed. “After what he said about me—about my Ma… ”

“Well,” Scootaloo growled, her breath coming in short, hot bursts, “When the two ponies who are supposed to be my best friends in the world don't give a damn about all the crap I've been going through, what else am I supposed to do?”

Applebloom looked hurt for only a second, before her eyes burned with indignant fury. “You callin’ me a bad friend?” she spat.

“Naw,” Scootaloo chuckled darkly, “I’m calling you a little bitch.”

Applebloom’s mouth fell open and eyes bulged. Suddenly, her look of surprise twisted into a look of pure fury.

“Why you little…” Apple Bloom breathed, taking a firm step forward. Then a small white hoof was held before her, halting her momentum.

“Applebloom, Scoots isn’t in a good place right now. I think we need to all cool our heads a bit.”

Applebloom looked back at her friend and blinked as she saw small tears threatening to crawl down Sweetie Belle’s cheek.

“But she--” Applebloom began--but the fire had gone out of her, and she fell silent. She sighed. “I reckon you’re probably right,” she said finally. She and Sweetie Belle turned and filed into the schoolhouse, Button moving past Scootaloo without saying a word.

“Button?” Scootaloo called after him, raising a hoof in the air.

He looked back at her uncertainly, then glanced after Sweetie Belle again before looking back to her. He stood there for several seconds before finally swallowing, then turning and trotting guiltily inside the schoolhouse. Scootaloo sat down on the hard dirt road, ponies walking around her, past her, as if she wasn’t there.

Fluttershy let out a sigh as she brushed aside the curtain divider between Rainbow’s bed and the hospital room. Everypony else was already there, Twilight had asked them to return about half an hour ago, but she figured they’d understand. Between the fifth “Oh, before you go” from Discord, and just “one last little thing” to tend to before she headed off, it was always a bit difficult for her to be exactly on time.

She glanced around at the assembled ponies. Applejack still looked sour, Rarity stoic, Twilight uncomfortable, and Pinkie nowhere to be found.

Nopony said anything as Fluttershy looked at a sleeping Rainbow Dash, her mane in tatters and her fur matted. She couldn’t imagine how terrifying those moments alone in the bitter, brutal cold must have been like… and--she shuddered--what it must have been for Scootaloo to find her like that.


A name she heard rarely, mostly in chatter from Rarity or Applejack, was now at the forefront of her mind again. Not that it hadn’t been before, but that had been so long ago… or at least it certainly had had felt that way. She had always watched from a distance, watched her grow to the young filly she was, go about her life in the shadow of her mother she never knew, worshipping the ground she walked on all the same.

Now she knew. Now they all knew. The timing couldn’t have been worse, not with everything Rainbow had done to wreck Scootaloo’s image of her. It certainly didn’t help that Scootaloo had brought a partner to join her in the battle between forgiveness and forsaken. A belligerent who she claimed to love. Be it hormones, be it naiveté, he was proving to be as much an asset as an antagonist.

In other words, it was a mess. One only Fluttershy might be able to clean up.

“So,” Twilight began, “Now that we’ve had some time to collect our thoughts… and hopefully our wits,” she emphasized, glaring at Applejack, “we need to get Rainbow situated. Best case scenario, she can be discharged tomorrow night, and whoever among us that can take her in does so. I spoke with Nurse Redheart, and she said she would be on strict bedrest for a week or so, though she’d still need help for a while afterward.” She sighed. “One of the drawbacks to being a princess is that I don’t have the time to help. Even if I moved around some of my more flexible appointments, there’s still several days she’d be all by herself.”

“My door is always open,” Applejack said, careful to avoid looking at Rarity, “But like I said, it wouldn’t be comfortable, and, like you, I’ve got a million things to do. I ain’t leavin’ her to Granny or Bloom. I couldn’t.”

“I can make it work,” Fluttershy said simply, “You girls have a lot to do, but I have time. I can’t fit her in the cottage, though… I’d have to get her back home first.”

“Are you sure?” Twilight asked. “You have your animals, too… Worst case, we can--”

“I’m very sure.” Fluttershy nodded. “I... feel like I haven’t really been there for her much as a friend… things have been tough for her, and—” she swallowed as she glanced at a disheveled Rainbow. “...and I think I should be the one to do it.”

Scootaloo and I.

“Thank you, Fluttershy,” Twilight smiled, “I think she’ll be very happy knowing she can go home and have some care for awhile.”

“Sounds good to me,” Applejack said, “A heck of a lot better than what that brat was on about--”

Applejack stopped as Rarity shot her a hard look. “As Twilight said,” Rarity began, “If you’re up to it, then it sounds like this is the best option for her. Perhaps you can even solicit a little ‘help’ every now and then.”

Fluttershy grinned to herself. “Great minds think alike.”

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