• Published 28th Feb 2016
  • 3,250 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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22. Discourse

Rumble had several reasons to be a happy little colt: Mom and Dad were in town; they’d never been, and Rumble, their self-designated tour guide, had been more than willing to show them around. Even better, they were even staying for dinner, and that was awesome. And the cherry on top came in the form of a knock on the front door, and Rumble hollered out as he ran to answer it.

Rumble’s grin was massive when he saw his favorite filly on the other side. “Scootaloo?”

“Y-Yeah…” Scootaloo smiled nervously, seeing Thunderlane’s disapproving stare from within the house. She flinched as he trotted towards the door, Rumble seemingly oblivious until he spoke.

“What are you doing here?” Thunderlane said, causing Scootaloo to wince, a nasty snarl crossing Rumble’s face.

“W—I…” Scootaloo’s tongue tied as she glanced away from the menacing stallion staring down at her.

“Rainbow’s still at the hospital, huh?” Thunderlane said dryly, not even bothering to mask his displeasure.

“Yeah…” Scootaloo replied, “She—”

“Well, that’s too bad,” Thunderlane cut in. “Tell her I—”

“Ooh, aren’t you just adorable~” An unfamiliar face popped into view. “Come in, dear, you must be freezing out there! ...Keeping the poor filly out in the cold like that...”

Thunderlane opened his mouth to object, but it was too late: Nebula was already introducing herself and her husband. He looked over to see Rumble with a shit-eating grin, sticking his tongue out.

“So, you’re the filly m’boy’s on about, huh?” Drumfire said, shaking Scootaloo’s hoof. “Name’s Drumfire, future father-in-law.”

“M-my name is…” Scootaloo’s brain misfired as what he said finally registered, her shaky hoof was accompanied by a blushing complexion she tried desperately to cover.

“Not even past ‘hello’ and you already embarrass the girl,” Nebula smirked.

“Oh, Neb, she can handle it,” Drumfire retorted. “Can’t ya?”

Scootaloo smiled at the playful jab, glancing over at Rumble who had gone from tense to relieved.

“Yeah,” Scootaloo smiled, “I think so.”

“You’d better,” Drumfire teased. “It’s one of the key things for surviving this family.” He cleared his throat, “So, little lady, what do you do when you aren’t hitched to this troublemaker?”

Scootaloo brushed her hoof through her mane, her cheeks reddening like a spring peach. “W-well, I…” she trailed off as Rumble suddenly hopped from his seat and followed Cloudchaser into the kitchen.

“Uh… I like to play with my friends, and ride my… scooter around…”

“Oh?” Nebula smiled, “What do you and you friends do?”

“You and Rummy have the same pals, don’t ya?” Drumfire added.

“Sort of,” Scootaloo glanced around, “my best friends—Applebloom and Sweetie Belle, we’re Cutie Mark Crusaders.”

“Sounds like a glam-rock band,” Drumfire smirked. “I’m gonna guess you’re the lead singer.”

“Wha-” Scootaloo grinned, “No-no-no, not after… Actually, we go around helping fillies and colts realize their special talent.”

“Well I’ll be, that sounds like some serious work.”

“Any chance you can get our little Rumble sorted out?” Drumfire smirked. “I know they say that some take a little longer than others, but this is ridiculous.”

“Maybe...” Scootaloo glanced towards the kitchen where she could occasionally see Rumble’s tail poke out from behind the island counter.

Looking back she saw Nebula glaring at a doe-faced Drumfire.

Anyway,” Nebula said, a smile returning to her face, “so aside from your virtuous crusading quests, what do you do for fun?”

“I like to do stunts and stuff. I just got a new scooter and it—”

Scootaloo jumped as a smoke detector began to wail, Rumble furiously fanning the beeping menace as a hint of smoke began to waft into view… and smell.

“The hell are you kids doing in there?” Drumfire hollered.

“She’s trying to burn the house down,” Thunderlane quipped from within the kitchen.

Cloudchaser gasped, “You little—”

After the chirping died, Drumfire cleared his throat, “Hey Scootaloo,”

“Yeah?” Scootaloo glanced over as Rumble returned to his seat, doing his best to suppress laughter.

“If you plan on stickin’ around, a word of advice: The way to a stallion’s heart is through his stomach, so if you learn to cook, you’re set for life.” Drumfire rolled his eyes before gazing toward the kitchen. “Honestly, it’d be nice to have at least one daughter-in-law who doesn’t try to burn the place down just to a make some damn soup-”

“Oh, just can it, would you?” Nebula cut in. “Wanna tell her about the week we went without a kitchen because of your big game appetizers?”

Drumfire simply scowled at her before clearing his throat.

“I forgot to ask our son if he had fun at Flight Academy this weekend.”

“A little bit,” Rumble rumbled, “kinda boring when you’re just waiting between drills.”

“How do you not have anypony to talk to?” Drumfire asked, thought for a moment, suddenly looking at Scootaloo. “You play hooky or something?”

Scootaloo blinked “What?”

“She doesn’t go to Flight Academy,” Rumble said quickly. “U-Uh, Mom, how did you like the—”

“Doesn’t go?” Drumfire asked, an eyebrow raised. “Why not? I know it can be kinda scary all the way up there, but—”

“Dad…”

“You just need to take a deep breath, step off the cloud and open you—”

Dad,” Rumble said firmly.

“Well, like I said, everyone figures it out at some point. Can’t call yourself a pegasus if you can’t-”

Rumble stood, slamming his hooves on the table, “Stop!”

Drumfire made to speak again but saw the fire in Rumble’s eyes, his little body trembling with rage.

“Rumble!” Thunderlane barked, “What’s your prob—”

“You alright, son?”

No,” Rumble growled.

Nebula looked concerned. “What’s wrong?”

The fire in Rumble’s eyes died as he settled back into his seat, unable to look at Scootaloo, who kept her gaze glued to the floor.

“She…” Rumble started, only for the rest of his words to get caught in his throat, “can’t.”

“Can’t what?” Nebula asked carefully.

“Fly,” Rumble finished, breathing out a sigh of frustration. “She’s a cripple.”

There was only oppressive silence as Rumble’s parents looked on, their expressions a mix of confusion and horror.

Suddenly, Scootaloo’s frown turned to a smile. She glanced over at a mortified and ashamed Rumble, who yelped as she scooted beside him and pulled him close.

“He’s right,” Scootaloo said. “I’ve never been able to fly, a-and so…I have this guy do the flying for me,” She smiled as she watched Nebula and Drumfire, whose confusion and horror softened to weak smiles and gentle understanding.

“Does he really?” Nebula said.

Scootaloo nodded simply. “He brought me home from Cloudsdale. He actually did a lot of nice thing for me that night.”

“No cutie mark?” Drumfire said, an inflection of uncertainty.

Scootaloo’s grin went toothy as she laughed nervously, “No, Sir,” She looked at Rumble, “especially if he calls me a cripple again.”

“Well, you just might be outta luck, son,” Drumfire smirked

“But on the plus side,” Nebula added, “you’ve got a lovely little filly to look after.”

Scootaloo buzzed briefly as she blushed.

Cloudchaser placed a covered platter at the center of the table.

“Dinner’s going to be a bit... delayed.” She turned to Rumble, lowering her voice a little. “Why don’t you show Scootaloo around? Give her a little tour.”

Rumble happily obliged and Scootaloo followed him towards the stairs.

“Rumble?” Thunderlane’s voice came from behind.

“Yeah?” Rumble asked, his ears flattening a little.

“What are you doing?” he asked suspiciously.

“I was just… gonna show her my room and stuff.”

Thunderlane shook his head.

“Aw, why can’t-”

“Go ahead, Rummy,” Nebula hollered from the table. “Let them go play upstairs for a little.”

Thunderlane scowled as Rumble practically pranced upstairs, a nervous Scootaloo in tow.

“Keep the door open!” Rumble heard as he passed through it.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” he muttered under his breath. He turned to see Scootaloo, who was trying her best to suppress a grin.

Rumble’s room was far more modest than Button’s, almost reminding her of her own, save for the shreds of paper stuck below thumbtacks outlining where posters used to be—Wonderbolts most likely.

“Sorry, Scootaloo,” Rumble shook his head. “I swear my brother isn’t usually this much of a jerk.” Then his face brightened, “Anyway, uh… this is… the place.”

Scootaloo’s eyes were immediately drawn to a display of trophies, five gold medals, and several certificates of achievement. “Whoa, Rumble, what is all of this?”

“Oh, those? Most of ‘em are competition medals. Foal Flyer’s League and Young Flyers… the yearling brackets, of course, but… Scootaloo?”

Not one second later, her attention had turned to his desk, or more specifically, a certain something he had written with really nice quill-work, and a really adorable doodle of a colt and a filly that looked a little too familiar. His cheeks turned scarlet as he rushed over and shoved several notes into a drawer, nearly smashing his hoof in the process.

Scootaloo simply giggled. “I already knew you’re a softie,” she said with a smirk. “But seriously? Louise?”

“Sh—shut up, those…” Rumble stammered. “...are private.”

“Okay, okay,” Scootaloo laughed. “Is it cool if I check out your bookshelf or should you make sure for any more love letters?”

Rumble scowled as Scootaloo snickered, wandering over to his bookshelf, adorned with Daring Do books, some comics, and, what piqued her interest most of all, a set of flight goggles. Without asking, she strapped them on and turned around to Rumble.

“These are so cool!” Scootaloo chirped, “Put them on, lemme see.” She took them off and handed them to Rumble.

Scootaloo watched as he put them on, carefully lowering the visors above his mane and then letting go as they fell over his eyes.

“They look way cooler on you,” Scootaloo smiled.

“Well duh,” Rumble mumbled as he looked anywhere but at her, “They are mine.” He trotted over to his freestanding mirror, Scootaloo coming up beside him.

Wanna know what else I look cool with?

Rumble’s eyes widened at his own thoughts. He shook them away and cleared his throat.

“My parents seem to like you… a lot, actually.” Rumble glanced towards his bedroom door, “I was a little worried they wouldn’t because… um… ”

Scootaloo nodded, “I was a little scared, too, actually.” she smiled, “But, they seem nice.”

“Yeah…” Rumble removed the goggles and went to put them back on the shelf. “I just wish my brother would come around.” He frowned, then said, “Every one of my friends and family like you…. except him.”

“I’m sure that’ll change eventually,” Scootaloo smirked. “I mean, I am pretty awesome after all.”

“Yeah, you’re pretty somethin...” Rumble smiled as he nuzzled Scootaloo on the cheek, making her blush furiously, her eyes darting between the door and his own.

“R-Rumble,” Scootaloo murmured, trying her best to keep a straight face. “Are you sure—”

“That you’re adorable?” Rumble grinned, “Yeah, yeah, I’m pretty sure, pretty filly.”

Scootaloo giggled as he draped a wing over her and pulled her close. For a moment, neither said anything as they stared out his bedroom window, just gazing up at the soft blue sky and the faint stars within it.

Rumble flinched as he heard hoofsteps, gently nudging Scootaloo as he returned to his desk, looking for something in the stack of homework and instead finding an old sticky note about writing an apology letter to Rainbow Dash.

Rumble frowned as he read it over. “Hey, how’s Rainbow Dash? My brother said she got hypothermia hiking out in the mountains or something.”

“Yeah. Actually, I was wondering,” Scootaloo began nervously, “If you could help me with that.”

Rumble nodded. “Sure, what’s up?”

“She’s going to be pretty out of it for awhile, and I’m supposed to help take care of her—”

She flinched as Rumble’s eyes narrowed.

“...and, getting to school, picking up her meds… ” Scootaloo continued.

Rumble swallowed once or twice, as much as he didn’t want to ask, something inside compelled him.

“Why are they making you look after her? Like… where would she stay? It’s not like…”

“Well, Fluttershy will take her home, and come check on us every now and then, but she says all I got to do is make her soup and make sure she takes her medicine and stuff.”

“What do you need me for, then?” Rumble gave Scootaloo a curious glance.

“Well, she’s going to be super busy until later this week, so she was sort of hoping you could maybe help me with some stuff. It’ll only be a couple days.”

“Her friends are cool with this?”

Scootaloo’s frown flattened, “They’re not.”

“Huh... yeah, I can help ya out.”

“Are you sure?” Scootaloo said, her wings drooping slightly. “I—if you don’t, we can totally figure something out.”

“Look,” Rumble said, “if I didn’t want to, I would’ve said no. Hell, I’ll do you one better. How about I crash with ya while Rainbow gets better?”

“Wh—no, you don’t have to...”

“Pssh, don’t even. That’s what friends do, they help eachother out.”

“Cool—I mean, thanks. I was really worried I’d be doing all of this by myself.”

“Naw, actually sounds kinda nice. My bro’s gonna be bell to bell this week, so I’d just be home alone, anyway.”

A knock on the door startled them, opening to reveal Cloudchaser.

“Dinner’s ready, kiddos,” she said with a grin.

“We still have a kitchen?” Rumble asked as he trot past.

“Watch it, young stallion,” Cloudchaser said, “Wouldn’t want me to embarrass you in front of your filly-friend, now would you?”

Rumble simply rolled his eyes and lead Scootaloo back downstairs.

Scootaloo took her seat next to Rumble, and saw before her a steaming bowl of soup and some Broccoli Almondine on a small plate.

“Sorry for the wait,” Cloudchaser said nervously as she set the last pair of silverware in front of Drumfire, “Had a little… trouble with the curry.

“You don’t say?” Drumfire said, Nebula shushing him.

“I’ll admit it, I’m not quite domesticated,” she replied with a knowing grin. “But I didn’t see you back there, so quit complaining.”

“Couldn’t complain even if I wanted to,” Drumfire said, turning to Scootaloo. “I get to have a nice dinner with you, my boys, and little miss Scootaloo here.”

“Alright, gang, let’s eat,” Cloudchaser said as she sat beside Thunderlane.

A couple minutes passed with only the sound of silverware among the silence.

Rumble cleared his throat. “Hey, Thunderlane.”

Thunderlane’s expression soured. He never liked it when Rumble used his name. Why it couldn’t just be “bro” or something short and simple, he never could understand.

“Hey what?”

“You won’t be home next week, right?”

Suddenly Rumble saw the adults looking at him with mild suspicion. It only then dawned on him why.

“W—I mean,”

“Depends,” Thunderlane said after swallowing a bite, “why do you need me to be gone for a week?”

“It’s not like that, I just… was wondering if it would be alright if I could stay with Scootaloo wh-”

“No.”

“I wasn’t—”

Thunderlane shook his head.

“Oh, for the love of Celestia,” Nebula groaned, “at least let him finish a sentence.”

Rumble sighed, “She’s taking care of Rainbow Dash and needs somepony to run errands and stuff.”

“Still no, Rumble,” Thunderlane shook his head. “Remember what happened to you last time you went up there with her?”

“That was Soarin’.”

“Doesn’t matter, kid,” Thunderlane said. “Every time you’re with her, you get into some kind of trouble, and I’m not having that.”

Drumfire and Nebula shared a confused glance as Rumble glared at his older brother.

“It’s just a couple days, and Fluttershy is gonna check on us—”

“Dammit, Rumble, I said no.”

“Now hold on a minute, son,” Drumfire said, placing a hoof on Thunderlane’s shoulder. “Let’s not slam the door on him like that, what exactly happened… last time?”

How did they not know...

Rumble swallowed, he trembled under the heat of his brother’s vicious glare.

“Go ahead, Rumble,” Thunderlane said with barely hidden mockery. “Tell mom and dad what happened. Show mom and dad what happened.”

As much as Rumble wanted to launch across the table and slam a hoof into that smug face of his, he had a filly to impress and parents to make proud, so instead he bit his tongue.

“Rainbow Dash invited Soarin’ over and we got into a fight—” Rumble swallowed, “—he hit me.”

Nebula gasped, “Wh—what? Why? Were you hurt?”

“Yes,” Thunderlane said, gritting his teeth. “He was. Left a mark. Wanna see?”

Rumble could feel himself shaking, he wanted so much to just talk about something else, but instead there he was, parting the fur along his chin, revealing a healed but still visible scar.

Nebela stood and began trotting towards him, her eyes wide with horror.

“What in Equestria—”

“Mom,” Rumble said as he pushed away Nebula’s hooves from his face, “I’m fine, I’ll be okay. Soarin’ isn’t there anymore.”

Scootaloo kept her mouth shut. Daring to glance across the table, she saw a look from Thunderlane that couldn’t be anything other than outright disgust.

Thunderlane stood, “No, it won’t, you’re not old enough to understand. Trust me, Rumble, I know relationships, and you don’t want to get involved with a broken filly like her.”

She isn’t Sunflower!” Rumble retorted.

Thick silence filled the room as all eyes fell upon Thunderlane. He growled, opening his mouth to respond, but then he faltered.

A chair scraped across the floor as Scootaloo stood up, her eyes avoiding all others, save for Rumble’s.

“You know what? I don’t need this.”

Scootaloo turned and trotted out, leaving a feeling of tension in the air behind her.

“Scootaloo, wait!” Rumble cried as he got up from his seat and half-flew towards the door, tripping over a table leg as he went.

Cloudchaser watched as Rumble slammed the door behind him.

“You can be a real asshole sometimes, you know that?” Thunderlane looked over to see his father, who was visibly disappointed. “Really had to beat her down huh?”

“You don’t understand—”

“You must feel like a real stallion, tearing down a little filly like that.”

Cloudchaser glared at Thunderlane as the door slammed shut behind Rumble. “You just couldn’t let him have a nice night tonight, could you? Celestia forbid you think about his happiness before your own. They’re foals, do you honestly think she—” Cloudchaser shook her head as she herself stood and trotted towards the door. “I hope you’re happy.”


You’re doing the right thing.

Try as she might, Scootaloo couldn’t believe what she had just done. Part of her felt it was all she could do. If her being there was going to make things worse for Rumble, then she didn’t need to cause him any more problems. Still, her stomach was twisted and and her head felt fuzzy.

Coward

Tears were already flowing as she shoved out the door and towards Carousel Boutique, but as Thunderlane’s words were branded on her conscience, she found could hardly see.

You callin’ me a bad friend?” Apple Bloom’s retort cut through the fog in her head.

Scootaloo shook her head. I’m such a hypocrite…

She stopped then turned around just in time to see Rumble flutter down in front of her, his mane a little frazzled, his breathing heavy.

“What are you doing?” Scootaloo muttered, “Just leave… please.”

“No,” Rumble barked. “He’s wrong, Scootaloo, he doesn’t know you—”

“But he’s right,” Scootaloo said as she began to shake. Then, before she could push him away, she was brought against Rumble’s trembling body, his hooves wrapping her into a tight hug.

Look what I’ve done to you? Look at what I’ve done to Rainbow Dash… Apple Bloom… What is wrong with

Scootaloo opened her eyes to see Cloudchaser, her eyes blazing like a celestial sunrise, and then Rumble whipped his head around, his eyes shooting daggers at a Thunderlane who wasn’t there.

Cloudchaser smiled as she trotted up to them, extending a hoof to Scootaloo.

“Why did he have to say that… ” Rumble shook his head “Why—”

“Because he's scared, Rummy,” Cloudchaser said with a frown. “He doesn't want you to go through heartache and hurt he did.”

“So insulting my best friend in front of mom and dad won’t hurt me? Calling her broken? That’s okay?”

Cloudchaser sighed, shaking her head.

“Then why should I care about how he feels? He never listens to me and he’s always badmouthing her. It isn’t fair.”

“What he said was not okay, and he owes Scootaloo an apology, and then some, honestly. But running away isn’t going to solve anything, it’s only going to make things worse.”

Rumble looked over at Scootaloo, who was staring at her hooves, her sorrowful face drenched from heavy tears. Suddenly, she raised her head, her scared eyes going from one pony to another.

“Come on, let’s head home and figure this out,” Cloudchaser said as Scootaloo climbed on her back, and took towards home. Rumble watched for a moment, sighing and taking flight behind her.

Rumble closed the door behind them as they wandered back through the living room and into the dining room. Mom, Dad, and… Thunderlane were seated and silent, though from his dad’s tired eyes and Thunderlane’s look of shame, there had been a chat—an unpleasant one.

Rumble looked over at them as he trotted past, stopping for just a second as his parents stood and followed him into his bedroom.

Just as he opened his mouth to speak, Nebula sighed.

“We… had no idea,” her voice shaking a little. “We’re so sorry, sweetheart… Is she okay?”

“No,” Rumble said. “No, she’s not, and I’m not either.”

“That’s understandable,” Drumfire said, his voice carrying far more weight than usual, “I had a bit of a one on one with little Thunderlane, and if he can’t be friendly with her, he’ll keep his mouth shut. I didn’t raise either of you to talk about anypony like that, ‘specially a damn filly.”

“Rumble,” Nebula began, sitting beside him, “there’s no reason to be ashamed for having her as a friend. She seems sweet and sincere, she appreciates you for you, I can tell, and that’s what you want in a friend.”

“Doesn’t matter if they can’t talk, see, hear or fly, son. All you need in a friend is somepony who’s good to you and makes you happy, somepony you can depend on.”

“We’re proud of you, Rummy,” Nebula said, gently nuzzling her youngest foal, whose expression began to soften a little. “I think it’s wonderful that you want to help her and Rainbow Dash…” her smile faded a little. “Though with what happened to you, I will admit, your father and I are a little nervous.”

“I’ll be fine,” Rumble said, looking away.

Drumfire glanced through the door and sighed. “We trust you.”

A knock on the open door made them all glance in its direction, Thunderlane was on the other side, his expression uncertain.

Before Rumble could so much as blink, Nebula placed a hoof on his shoulder.

Without prompt, Thunderlane took a couple more steps into the bedroom, his gaze downcast, and his usual gait slow and dragging.

“I believe we have something you’d like to say, don’t you?” Nebula said. Rumble shuddered at her tone of voice—that was one that was only meant for them, and only when they were in trouble.

Not a face in the room betrayed any emotion as Thunderlane shifted a hoof nervously across the carpet. Past Thunderlane’s lowered head, Rumble caught a glance of Cloudchaser, who smiled at him softly. Scootaloo nowhere to be seen, and before he could ask why, Thunderlane began to speak, albeit quietly.

“What I said was wrong,” he began, still not able to look Rumble straight in the eye. “The way I acted was unacceptable, and I won’t blame you if you want nothing to do with me.” Finally, he swallowed, and look at Rumble directly, “Yeah, I worry about you… suffering like I did, but, I shouldn’t.

Thunderlane straightened up a little. “In a lot of ways, Rumble, you’ve done a lot more growing up than I have since we came here. I need to be encouraging you to keep it up, not getting in your way.”

Rumble perked his ears.

“Which means,” Thunderlane sighed, “If Rainbow Dash is okay with it, I have no problem with you helping her out. However—”

Drumfire cleared his throat. Thunderlane was silent.

If Rumble noticed this, his wide grin certainly didn’t show it. “Really? You’ll let me?”

Thunderlane shut his eyes and slowly nodded, as if it caused him physical pain.

“Alrig—” Rumble began to exclaim, a firm hoof on his back cutting him off, “I mean, I uh… thanks.”

Thunderlane quickly turned around and trot out the door.

“I don’t think we’re quite done yet.” Nebula called from behind, stopping Thunderlane in his tracks.

Rumble’s face hurt as he used every iota of strength to keep his stupid grin in line. He trotted forward until his mother’s hoof held him back, he could just see Scootaloo standing beside Cloudchaser.

“I owe you more than an apology,” Thunderlane said, his eyes not quite meeting Scootaloo’s “I was so caught up in my own fears and frustration that I made you out to be a horrible pony and… that wasn’t right, and I’m sorry I said those things to you. Y-You never deserved that.”

“It’s oka—”

“Just promise me one thing,” Thunderlane swallowed, lowering his voice. “Don’t let him bite off more than he can chew. He tries to act tough sometimes and, you know better than I do, he gets in trouble. You care enough to watch after him, and he needs that—heck, I need that. I appreciate it. You and his other little friends, he needs that.”

Scootaloo simply nodded, nervously glancing at her hooves.

“Wasn’t so hard, was it?” Drumfire said with a raised eyebrow. He and Nebula trotted past Thunderlane and stepped into the hall. Drumfire turned to look between Cloudchaser and Scootaloo.

“You fillies keep these ornery colts in check,” he said, “Me and this pretty mare are going to enjoy our empty nest.” His eyes then fell upon Scootaloo, a little smile crossing his lips. “However, if Rumble’s going to take you places, one of ‘em might as well be ours.” He glanced towards Rumble, “You hear that, colt? I expect you to bring your filly-friend over for supper. If Thundy here could do it, no reason for you not to.”

Rumble blushed fiercely as the adults headed into the living room, their words running into each other and lost to Rumble’s ears. His eyes were fixed on Scootaloo, who went from watching them, to looking at him. Slowly, she began to smile, a sight that filled Rumble with a warmth he couldn’t describe.

“Rumble!” Drumfire hollered from the front door. “Get on over here and give your mom a hug, dammit!”

Rumble chortled as he trotted into the living room, Scootaloo close by his side. He yelped as Nebula squeezed him way too tight, though he didn’t dare push her away. As she let go, his father's hoof came down and ruffled his mane beyond repair. He didn’t bother trying to straighten it as he felt his mother kiss him on the forehead.

“You be a nice colt, you understand me?” Nebula said. “I don’t want to hear anything about you being a little turkey.”

“I won’t,” Rumble grinned.

“Better not,” Drumfire said. “I told your little friend here she can kick your ass if you split a single hair.”

“Pfft,” Rumble smirked, “as if.”

“Says the colt who got smacked around by her little friend.”

“Hey! That was different!”

“Well, hopefully we won’t have to find out,” Drumfire said as they opened the door and stepped outside. He turned to Thunderlane as Nebula and Cloudchaser said their goodbyes.

You,” he said. “you do right by your little brother.”

Thunderlane nodded, summoning the courage to meet his father’s eyes.

“I don't think he wants to come home, so you’re all he’s got in the role model department. Don’t blow it.”

Thunderlane nodded.

With another wave goodbye, Nebula and Drumfire took off, leaving Thunderlane, Cloudchaser, and the foals to watch them until they disappeared into the darkness of night.

“I think it’s a little late,” Cloudchaser yawned. “Probably should be taking somepony home before it gets too dark.”

Rumble nodded and Scootaloo trotted up beside him. For a moment, he looked at her, and Scootaloo stared blankly back at him, until she realized, and swallowed.

“Thanks for having me over.”

“No problem, kiddo,” Cloudchaser smiled. “I’m sure we’ll see you around.” She turned to Rumble, then said, “It’s past your bedtime, so make it quick.”

“Got it,” Rumble nodded as he and Scootaloo made their way towards Carousel Boutique.

As they reached the end of his street, Rumble glanced over at Scootaloo, her tired eyes reflecting the emotional rollercoaster they had just ridden. He stopped, holding his hoof in front of her.

“Hey, uh…” he said, bending slightly and gesturing towards his backside. “I kinda owe ya, anyway.”

Scootaloo smiled and clambered onto his back, wrapping her hooves around him, and resting her heavy head on his shoulders. She felt them move up and down with his gait as her body grew heavier with each passing second, her heart pounding against his body. Slowly, her eyes began to fall, the day finally coming to an end.

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