• 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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31. Destination

Scootaloo groaned as somepony nudged her—then nudged her again, harder. Shakily sitting up, she cocked back her hoof, ready to ferociously boop his snoot, only to find Sweetie’s kind eyes staring back at her.

“I can see Manehattan Station from here, sleepyhead,” Sweetie said with a smile.

Scootaloo’s eyes widened as a surge of excitement ignited all of her senses. “Really?”

Sweetie nodded. “We just went over the bridge.” She pointed to the window, which showed a pristine view of Equestria’s largest metropolis.

“Were you about to drill her?” Button asked, causing Scootaloo to flinch.

“W-wha—no,” Scootaloo stammered, quickly collecting herself. “I mean, yes. I was going to hit him,” she said, pointing to Rumble.

“Why would you hit me for waking you up?” Rumble stretched his wings as he sat up.

“Kinda sounds like an abusive relationship,” Button said with a smirk. “Rummy, buddy, if you need an out, there’s probably plenty of other fillies trottin’ around this town—or colts, I won’t judge.”

Rumble opened his mouth to respond, but was cut off by the wail of the train’s whistle and the squeal of its brakes. Button shrunk back as Sweetie stared him down with nothing short of contempt.

Scootaloo hopped from the booth and made a beeline for the door, not stopping until she stood on Manehattan soil.

Ploughing through the bustling business ponies and down the steps of Manehattan Station, she walked into the sunshine and caught her first glimpse of the big city. Towering buildings scraped the sky; horse-drawn carriages whizzed by as the cool breeze of the concrete jungle brushed across her face. The commotion alone almost overwhelmed her.

She turned around just in time to see the others filing down the steps. Rumble came last, his teeth gritting as he balanced two bags on his back, the others strapped to his side.

“Didn’t know I was your carrying colt,” Rumble grumbled as he dropped her luggage beside her.

“Wow!” Sweetie gasped, staring up at the buildings with wide eyes.

“I know.” Button tilted her chin back down, stopping Sweetie from falling over from dizziness. “Friendship Castle’s got nothing on Manehattan.”

“Nuh-uh,” Rumble retorted. “Pretty sure the Princess’s flank stamp is still taller.”

Button snorted. “It’s called an ornament, dummy, and no, those two buildings over there top that, easy.”

“I’d love to stand around and compare building sizes,” Scootaloo said, placing a hoof on Rumble’s shoulder. “But we’ve got places to go and ponies to see!”

Button stood at the edge of the street. “You’re damn right we do,” he called over his shoulder. “Let’s go!”

“Uh… Are you sure it’s safe?” Sweetie’s eyes darted as the carriages did.

“And… now!” Scootaloo darted into the road, Rumble and Sweetie following close behind.

Just as Sweetie screamed, Scootaloo felt herself plucked off the ground; her hooves dragged across the roof of a carriage. She finally saw Rumble’s horrified face as she was set down.

“Okay,” Scootaloo panted, “Maybe… maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.”

“We could’ve been squished!” Sweetie was trembling, and on the verge of tears.

“Yeah, next time we need to—” Rumble began, but Button’s outburst cut him off. Rumble shot him a look as the two fillies held each other, Button still laughing hysterically.

“You wanna tell me what’s so funny about us almost getting killed?” Rumble snapped.

“Oh, stop, you drama queen,” Button said as he wiped tears from his eyes. “There are no signals, you just go.”

“How the hay do you know that?” Sweetie barked.

“W-Well,” Button snorted as he steadied himself. “I’ve been here before with my dad on a couple business trips. I thought I’d told you that.”

“Well, maybe next time, you can think a little harder.” Sweetie stepped close, her eyes narrowing as she stared Button down. The poor colt looked away, brushing his mane with his hoof.

“So, where’s our first destination?” Rumble looked pointedly away, directing his attention at Scootaloo.

Scootaloo fetched a card from her saddlebag. “Says here we need to go to… the Manefair Hotel. Looks like it’s on Second and East Forty-fifth Avenue… wherever that is.”

“Lemme see,” Button said as he snatched the card from Scootaloo’s hooves. Nodding as his eyes scanned the words. “Yeah, I got this. Follow me!”

“Should we really be following him around?” Sweetie asked Scootaloo, concerned. “Rarity said we can always just get a taxi—”

“What, and spend half your bits because you don’t know how to get around?” Button tsked, gesturing with a hoof. “Come on!”

Scootaloo followed reluctantly, Rumble at her side, and Sweetie a couple steps behind.

Wandering the thick of the concrete jungle gave them plenty of time to take in the sights and sounds of the big city. With all the flashy marquees and advertisements, to the hustle and bustle of Celestia-knows how many ponies, both grounded and the occasional pegasi, they didn’t know where to look.

Rumble glanced up from time to time, watching the pegasi above zipping about. Scootaloo noticed his upward gaze as they waited at a street crossing.

“You wanna fly, don’t you?”

Rumble nodded. “I mean, if I knew where we were going, sure. Not that it’d be fair to you girls and Mutton, though.”

“Maybe we should find someplace to eat once we get to the hotel,” Sweetie suggested as they crossed the street.

Button’s stomach rumbled. “Not a bad idea.” Button didn’t look but the least embarrassed as he looked around. “I remember this one place me and my dad went to—well, the best damned spaghetti joint this side of Canterlot.”

“I could go for some pasta, actually.” Scootaloo licked her lips.

“Yeah, that sounds yummy,” Sweetie said, nodding.

“Well then, a little less talking, and a little more trotting.” Button smirked as he trotted ahead. “We’re almost there!”

“You’re right, Fluttershy. This was a good idea,” Dash said with a heavenly sigh, sinking down into the tub with a moan of content.

“You’ve been stressed lately, and I figured you needed a way to unwind.” Fluttershy smiled, glancing at the other girls who nodded in agreement.

“Plus,” Twilight added, “it’s always nice to be able to catch up, especially with how busy we all have been lately.”

As she went on to Rarity about some royal assignment involving Yaks and eminent domain, Rainbow glanced at an unfamiliar face who trotted into the room. She was a tan mare who seemed to be around Rarity’s age—possibly a little older.

“Who’s that?” Rainbow whispered into Fluttershy’s ear.

“I believe that’s Button’s mother. You know, Scootaloo’s friend?” Fluttershy volunteered.

Rainbow sank into the warm water. “She’s got a lot of friends,” she muttered.

Fluttershy simply smiled. “I’m sure you’ll get to know them soon enough.”

“Ah, good afternoon, darling,” Rarity greeted with a wave. “Unusual for you to be this early. Colts out for the weekend?”

“For the first time in forever, yes,” she giggled. “Husband is on business, and Button is headed to a comic convention in Manehattan.”

“Is that so?” Rarity’s ears perked. “I believe the girls headed out this morning as well.”

“Yeah,” the mare replied, “something about Scootaloo seeing a relative?”

Rainbow Dash suddenly looked at her hooves underwater, her curiosity souring to anxiousness.

Yeah, if she knows that much, she probably hates my guts. Rainbow closed her eyes. ‘Hey there, I’m Scootaloo’s mom; y’know, the one who abandoned her…’

Her gaze lurched up as she felt a familiar hoof on her shoulder. Fluttershy’s smile was infectious.

“Speaking of relatives, I don’t believe we’ve met before.” Rainbow looked up, and saw the mare sitting across from her, a smile on her face, and one hoof extended in greeting. “I’m—” A hiss of steam from a nearby pipe drowned out her voice as she spoke. “—Love Tap. And you’re Scootaloo’s…” Her smile wavered a little. “...sister?”

Rainbow blinked once or twice, “W—I mean, I guess it’s kind of… like—”

“She’s Scootaloo’s biological mother,” Fluttershy explained.

Rainbow Dash watched as the mare fidgeted slightly. “Right, sorry. My son only mentioned that she was staying with you. Then again, he doesn’t really listen to what he hears.”

“Honestly, Scoots probably doesn’t think of me as mom material, so…” Rainbow chuckled nervously, running a hoof through her mane.

“Foals at this age can be difficult, their emotions all over the place—I’m sure if you give it time, she’ll come around. She seems like a sweet filly, always very polite and well-behaved.”

“Does… Has she ever said anything about me?” Rainbow leaned forward.

“I don’t believe so, no…” The mare put her hoof to her chin; Rainbow sank back. “The only mention of you by any of the foals—that I’ve caught at least—was that little outburst Rumble had at school.”

Rainbow blushed, the heat in her cheeks rivaling that of the bath.

“Oh yeah… that,” Rainbow almost mumbled.

“But he tends to… think too much, anyways,” Lovetap added. “And everypony makes mistakes; I’m certainly not a perfect parent by any stretch of the imagination. Button can be a hoof full, what with his potty mouth, and his father’s stubbornness...”

“Sounds oddly familiar.” Rarity smirked.

Love Tap giggled. “But at the end of the day,” she said, “what matters is that you love them, and that they love you—and, even when you’re at your wits end…” She sighed happily. “...that never changes.”

“Yeah, I can’t say I was the best kid, either.” Rainbow scratched the back of her head.

“Really, were any of us?” Twilight chortled. “I know Shining wasn’t the only one butting heads with mom and dad…”

Rainbow looked around, finally meeting each mare’s eyes.

“It isn’t going to be a trot in the park dear,” Rarity continued, “But, look on the bright side. We all know Scootaloo.”

”We’re all friends, and of course—” Fluttershy smiled. “—we’re always here to help if you ever get into a bind.”

“Honestly, Rainbow.” Twilight laughed. “Why do you think we come here every weekend?”

Rainbow simply shrugged as her grin threatened to break her face.

“Beats me.” She smiled. “But, uh… I got a feeling I’m gonna find out.”

“Hey, Button, we there yet?” Scootaloo whined.

Sweetie Belle moaned in faint agreement from where she lay across Scootaloo’s back. She had been carrying Sweetie Belle for over ten minutes now, and was beginning to think that Sweetie was living up to her name.

Button’s ears wilted a little as they stopped at another intersection. He didn’t turn around, but she could still see him pawing the pavement nervously.

“I—I think I’m starting to remember.”

“That’s the fifth time you’ve said that,” Rumble growled, finally stomping up beside Button. “Either you’re brain dead, or we’re lost; which one is it?”

“Hey!” Button snapped. “I don’t see you taking the lead, featherbrain!”

“Yeah,” Rumble scoffed. “Because I was stupid enough to believe you knew your head from your ass for once.”

“Come on guys, can we not?” Scootaloo groaned as she shifted her weight. “I’m hungry and my hooves hurt. I just wanna get to the hotel!”

“We saw the hotel,” Rumble seethed, his wings flaring. “It was like right around the corner from the train station! If we would’ve just trotted over there instead of following this dumb clod—”

Scootaloo stifled a squeal as she saw Button’s murderous ire. With a narrowing stare, Button growled, “What did you just call me?”

If Rumble was at all intimidated, his equally menacing glare made up for it.

“You heard me,” he spat.

Scootaloo swallowed. “Guys, please—”

“What in Tartarus is going on here?” The accent was thick, the voice sounding rather entertained.

Scootaloo spun around. “Babs?”

“You’d better believe it, Orange,” Babs replied with a devious grin. “Heard these two running their snouts and decided to see what’s up.”

Button and Rumble both stared blankly as she trotted towards them.

“Literally, who?” Button asked as she approached.

“What? You’ve never met?” Scootaloo asked as she trotted up beside Babs. “She’s the fourth Cutie Mark Crusader!”

“Name’s Babs Seed, knucklehead,” Babs replied as she poked Button’s snout with a hoof. “I’m also on my way to grab some grub.” Babs eyed the luggage Rumble had strapped to his back. “What’s with the baggage? Manefair’s way the buck over there.”

“Yeah, we know that,” Rumble replied. “Somepony decided we were going to get lost before we settled in.”

Button opened his mouth to speak. Sweetie reached over and shut it with a hoof.

“Could you show us the way back?” Scootaloo pleaded. “I’m….”

“Sore, sour, and starvin’, got it.” Babs smiled. “Let’s get this shit back to the hotel, and we’ll get something.”

Scootaloo glanced back as Rumble and Button hesitantly followed them.

“Shouldn’t have to tell you that you’re in the largest city in Equestria,” Babs explained. “I’ve lived here my whole life, and still get lost sometimes.” She glanced back again. “No Bloom?”

Scootaloo’s smile faltered

“W-well… no.”

“It’s alright, knowing cous’, she’s probably putting her to work.” Babs snorted. “I love her, but Celesia-damn-it, they need to get out every once and awhile.”

“Didn’t they visit once?”

“Pssh, yeah, but that…” Babs glanced back to the colts as her voice trailed off. “That doesn’t count.” She smirked. “What are you bozos doing? Pick up the pace!”

Button groaned. Rumble rolled his eyes.

“Oh, for the love of—” Babs turned around and trotted over to Rumble, snatching one of the bags from his saddle. “Gimmie that. You a mule or something?”

Scootaloo giggled. Funny you should say that…

“Here we are, fillies.” Babs announced. “Manefair Hotel!”

Scootaloo glanced between her card and the sign above the revolving doors, her eyes lighting up.

“Thank you so much, Babs,” Scootaloo chirped. “You’re a lifesaver!”

“Yeah, yeah, don’t mention it.” Babs waved her towards the door. “Get in there and get your shit settled. I’ll get us a table at that place I mentioned.”

Scootaloo finally found the spring in her step and practically bolted through the door, finally jostling Sweetie Belle awake.

“Hey, we made it,” Sweetie yawned as Scootaloo struggled up the stairs.

“Hey, you’re finally awake~” Scootaloo cooed as she promptly dropped Sweetie Belle on her flank.

“Hey!” Sweetie whined. “What was—” She glanced around. “Where’s the colts?”

“Oh, we’re coming,” Rumble mumbled from a couple flights behind. “Might be a little quicker if either of you fillies wanna take some of this off my hooves.”

Scootaloo trotted up a few more stairs, then, giggling as she heard Rumble give an indignant squawk from below. She and Sweetie trotted back downstairs, then grabbed their saddlebags from him.

After one more flight up, and three numbers down the hall, Scootaloo unlocked the door to their room. She dropped her saddlebags at the entrance, and vaulted onto the nearest bed she could find.

“Aaah,” Scootaloo sighed. Her frogs throbbed against the cool air. “It’s so nice to finally lay down.”

“You weren’t kidding, Scoots,” Sweetie said as he closed the door behind them. “Three beds. Each in their own rooms though, so that’s cool.”

“Well, I mean, we were supposed to only be a party of three.” Rumble smirked. “I’m not against keeping it that way,”he added, glancing back over his shoulder at Button.

“Rumble, be nice.” Scootaloo said, scowling.

“Just getting even for having to march around Manehattan.” Rumble turned to jab Button in the side, only to see a downcast colt wordlessly moping towards the only empty room.

Button mumbled something under his breath.

“What was that?” Rumble pressed. Button kept his eyes low, his ears wilting.

“I said I’m sorry.” Button’s voice was hoarse and unsteady, catching Rumble off guard.

Scootaloo sighed as she rolled onto her stomach.

“Button, it’s okay…” she said. “I mean, that really sucked, but… it’s cool. Things happen.”

“Like she said, shit happens.” Rumbled slugged Button in the shoulder. “We’ve probably got a little time, so let’s all chill for a few minutes, and then get some… lunch… I think.” He shrugged. “Maybe dinner, I dunno. Food.”

Button meekly nodded, carefully closing the bedroom door behind him.

Rumble watched the door close before trotting towards the bed.

“Nuh uh,” Scootaloo tittered.

“What?” Rumble stomped a hoof. “I carried all your shit up here, and you’re gonna make me sleep on the floor?”

“Go cuddle up with your coltfriend, jerk,” Scootaloo humphed.

“I was kidding!”

“I am too, stupid.” Scootaloo giggled as she patted the comforter.

Rumble obliged, and landed just inches from Scootaloo’s side. After a stretch and some roosting, he finally laid down, his back to her.

Were it not for the pit in her stomach, Scootaloo would’ve closed her eyes. She stared towards the window, which overlooked some apartments with the Crystal Mountains behind them in the distance.

Her mind was a scrambled egg. Part of her wanted to head straight over to where Mrs. Harbour lived—she was so close! But her roaring stomach reminded her that no matter what, they had to take up Babs Seed on her offer first.

A knock on the door jolted Scootaloo from her nap she only now realized she’d taken. Her body insisted on staying right where it was, but her stomach wasn’t going to let her.

“Coming!” Scootaloo yawned as she rolled and hopped down from the bed, opening the door revealed a bemused Babs Seed.

“Good thing the wait time was an hour, I was starting to think you forgot,” she said.

“Naw,” Scootaloo said as she gestured inside. “Just had to crash for a bit.”

“No kidding,” Babs grinned as she spotted a passed-out Rumble.

Scootaloo made her rounds, first waking Rumble by simply poking his snout, then Sweetie Belle who required an extra boop or three. As she listened to the other two chat with Babs by the door, she pressed her lips into a thin line.

Button wouldn’t budge.

“Still fighting it, huh?” Rumble asked as he trotted into the room.

“He just grunts, growls, and turns away from me,” Scootaloo said, rolling her eyes.

“Button, you wanna starve to death?” Rumble asked. “I know you’re a heavy sleeper, but this is kinda ridiculous.”

“No.” Button Mash finally growled from beneath the covers.

“What do you mean, no?” Rumble tugged on the blankets. “You can’t go without dinner, buddy. Come on.”

“Mmm,” Button growled once more, pulling his pillow over his his ears.

Rumble sighed and rolled his eyes. “Fine, go ahead and starve—see if I care.”

“What’s wrong?” Sweetie poked her head into the room.

“Your fillyfriend doesn’t wanna get up.” Rumble rolled his eyes. “He’s pouting.”

“I am not!” Button cried, his voice already thick.

“What are you doing?” Sweetie asked, irritation creeping into her voice as she sat at his bedside, futilely poking his back.

Scootaloo groaned and trotted up to Sweetie Belle, placing a hoof on her shoulder. “We gotta go, or we’re going to lose our spot.”

Sweetie took one last glance towards Button.“Please?”

The pillow shook left and right.

Scootaloo sighed, trotting out into the hallway, Rumble not too far behind.

“Hope you feel better, Button,” Sweetie whispered, turning to follow the rest out of the door.

If there was one thing Scootaloo had learned about Manehattan, it was to not judge a book by its cover.

As they passed through the rustic wooden door set into the drab masonry exterior, they found themselves in a cavernous space that was less a casual-dining restaurant, and more a work of art. Replicas and remnants of mid-century machinery loomed above the walls dressed in sports and music memorabilia.

Between the high-hung lanterns, and the radiance of a large fireplace that sat before the waiting area, this might as well have been the creation of some manic hoarder with a hankering for fried food and rock music.

“Whoa…” Scootaloo breathed as she glanced at the decor on the way to their booth.

“Not too shabby, huh?” Babs said as they took their seats.

“It looks good, it smells good—”

“Yeah,” Rumble cut in. “They got tons of classic ‘Bolts gear up there. Pretty rad.”

“I can’t say their taste in music is my cup of tea,” Sweetie said, swaying slightly anyway. “But, its got a unique...”

Scootaloo eased into her seat, turning to Babs who seemed to be discussing something far more interesting with Rumble.

“...the best thing here though, hooves down, is the Madison Mare Monster.”

Rumble’s eyes lit up immediately. “Madison Mare Monster, huh?”

Scootaloo opened her own menu, eyes widening a little.

“I dunno, Scoots.” He eyed her quizzically. “You wanna just split one?”

“Pfft.” Babs waved a dismissive hoof. “What are you, her husband?”

Rumble sputtered. “N-no!” His eyes widened. “I mean, well… why does everypony keep calling us that? Gross.”

“Gross?” Babs arched an eyebrow.

“Wha—Okay look: we aren’t married, alright? I just don’t want her to—”

“I get you pegasi stallions are all about those lean cut mares,” Babs said, chuckling, “but let the filly live a little.”

Rumble’s face turned red enough to make ketchup pale in comparison.

“He does kinda have a point,” Sweetie pointed to the description below the delectable monstrosity. “That’s enough calories alone for the fi—er—four of us.”

“That wasn’t…” Rumble mumbled, his face hidden by the erect menu, and his voice drowned out by the ever-distant, ever-present background music. “Luna raise the sun.”

“Don’t worry, Wondercolt.” Babs jabbed Rumble playfully. “She isn’t gonna gain fifty pounds off one sandwich.” She turned to Scootaloo. “Seriously though, you two a thing? He sure acts like it.”

Scootaloo nodded sheepishly. “I mean, I guess we’ve been good friends for awhile—”

Babs was unamused. “Friends, huh?.”

“I do…” Scootaloo squirmed. “I mean, I do—he—like—”

The clip-clop of hooves caught their attention as a lanky stallion approached their table.

“Hello, everypony,” their waiter asked. “Can I get anything started for ya?”

“Yeah,” Rumble started, gesturing at Scootaloo. “We would like to split a Madison—”

“Nuh uh.” Scootaloo crossed her forehooves.

Rumble blinked once or twice. “Are you… serious?”

Scootaloo nodded. “We both would each like a Madison Mare Monster.” She paused, glancing at the menu again. “Hold the tomatoes on mine, please.”

The waiter shared the same disbelieving expression as everypony else.

“You sure? that’s… a lot of food for one filly.”

“Yup.” Scootaloo nodded. “One hundred percent.” She arched an eyebrow as she heard Babs snickering.

Scootaloo sat back as Rumble facehoofed. “Whatever, Scoots.” he said simply. “Don’t come crying to me when you can’t move… or breathe… because you ate half your weight in hay, greens, and…” he snorted. “Everything else.”

“Laugh at me all you want.” Scootaloo smirked. “I got this.”

“Famous last words.”

Rainbow Dash didn’t like the smell of sickness, nor did she—


“Bless you,” Fluttershy giggled. “I figured it would be a little dusty around here, but—yikes.”

“Yeah, well, that’s what happens when you’re on your… flank for a week,” Rainbow said as she sprayed another dirty surface with some good smell Fluttershy had brought up. “Besides, I don’t think she was too happy about her room… I mean, how was I supposed to know she wouldn’t like the Wonderbolts?”

“Save that for when she gets home. Remember what Love Tap said—”

“I know, I know. The most important memories you make are those you share together.” Rainbow rolled her eyes. “What exactly does that have to do with cleaning her room?”

“Because, if you do it without her, she’ll feel left out—or think that you don’t care about what she thinks or wants.”

“That last thing I need right now is for her to get grumpy, again,” Rainbow muttered. She inspected her recliner, which seemed to have the thickest coating of dust out of anything else.

“You were very brave tonight,” Cadance’s words echoed among her many thoughts. “You opened yourself up. Let yourself be vulnerable. Once, you wouldn’t have done that.

Suddenly, it was night, her home ransacked, furniture reduced to fragments. Rumble had left bloodied, Scootaloo declaring her a lost cause…

Before she had the wind knocked out of her, for the briefest of moments, she saw those terrified, pleading eyesher child begging for mercy from the monster her own mother had brought into her home.

She shuddered. There was no way they had forgotten about about… that…

“What’s wrong?” Fluttershy tilted her head to look at Rainbow’s now sullen features, her pink mane falling over her muzzle.

“N—Nothing.” Rainbow shook her head as she swiped the cushion with her hoof. “Just thinking.”

“All you can do is try your best from here on out,” Fluttershy said. “It’s going to be tough, but if anypony can tackle a tough challenge, well, I can’t think of anypony else better.”

“What if my best isn’t good enough, Shy?” Rainbow’s voice wavered. “After everything I’ve put the kid though, she has no reason to—”

“If she wanted nothing to do with you, she would not have been here this week. She certainly wouldn’t have brought Rumble along. She wanted to help you—”

“Because she was probably guilted into…”

Rainbow looked up as Fluttershy placed a hoof on her shoulder, her stare hard yet still retaining that kindness she was known for.

She sighed. “There is nothing you can do about the past, Rainbow.” She shook her head. “Everypony makes mistakes—and yes, sometimes those mistakes are unforgivable. But… she seems willing to… She loves you. Even after everything, there’s still that part of her who believes in you.”

She felt Rainbow’s chest hitch.

“I know for certain if you put your best hoof forward, and show her that she means as much to you as you’ve said, you two will be able to share something truly wonderful.”

“Waste not, want not, that’s what my pops always tells me.” Babs smirked as she crossed her forehooves, staring at a bloated Scootaloo as she gazed blankly at half of her Madison Mare Monster.

“I… can’t… do it,” Scootaloo groaned.

Rumble snorted. “Looks like splitting it wasn’t a bad idea.” He patted Scootaloo on the head. “Is Sweetie Belle gonna have to carry you back to the hotel?”

“Why me?” Sweetie whined, sinking a little in her seat.

“Because my withers are sore, and my back hurts from carrying all of a certain somepony’s crap.” He shot a glare towards Scootaloo, who glowered back.

“Hey there, everypony.” The waiter, Hot Quiche, appeared again, looking a little more tired, but no less peppy. “Any room for desert?”

His grin widened as he was met with a chorus of groans.

“Okay then,” he said brightly. “I’ll just be right back with your checks, and then—”

“Hang on a sec,” Rumble said suddenly, sitting up.

He snatched a paper napkin from the dispenser, then scribbled on it with crayon, and passed it to the waiter. He took it, read it quickly with a raised eyebrow, then walked away.

“What was that?” she asked Rumble.

“Nothing,” Rumble said quickly, turning away. “You girls go ahead; I’ll be right behind you.”

Scootaloo grunted as she scooted off the booth, followed by Sweetie and Babs. Clumsily, they wound through the stuffy restaurant, and out into the rush of cool outdoor air and sound of Manehattan traffic.

“Managed to wolf a good chunk of it down, Orange. I’m impressed,” Babs said as she slugged Scootaloo on the shoulder.

“Yeah…” Scootaloo huffed, before letting out a hearty burp. “Sure did.”

She glanced back to see that Rumble was not trailing behind.

“I hope Button’s feeling better,” Sweetie said as they took the final crossing to the hotel.

“Probably just needed some shut-eye.” Scootaloo smiled. “I’m sure he’s fine.”

She felt relief as they approached the hotel’s awning.

“Babs,” Scootaloo said, managing a smile. “Thanks for… everything. Finding our hotel, the food, I owe you—”

“Nothin’.” Babs finished with a smirk. “It’s just cool seeing you guys—what are the odds, right?”

“I know…” Scootaloo chuckled. “Crazy.”

“Well, I gotta bounce.” Babs rubbed the back of her head with a hoof. “Folks will start painting the town red if I don’t get home by ten.”

“Yeah…” Sweetie started. “Maybe we’ll run into you again?”

“You never know, huh? Maybe us fillies can get in a little mare-time.” Babs winked before trotting down the street. “Later!”

Scootaloo and Sweetie watched as she trotted away, waving back as she turned out of sight.

Sweetie glanced around for a second. “Where’s Rumble?”

“I dunno.” Scootaloo shrugged. “Let’s head up though, I’m pretty cold… and tired.”

“Sure thing,” Sweetie yawned.

The room was just as they left it, Button’s door still closed. Immediately making a running jump for her bed, Scoots bounced as the old springy mattress recoiled against her weight.

Scootaloo stared up at the ceiling as she heard Sweetie gently knock on Button’s door, and then poke her head in.

“You okay?” Sweetie asked.

Button’s reply was unintelligible.

“Still tired, I guess,” Sweetie sighed as she hopped on the bed beside Scootaloo.

Just as Scootaloo made herself comfortable, there was a knock at their door.

Awesome timing, Rumble. Scootaloo growled as she slunk off the bed and trotted to open the door.

“Sorry.” Rumble shivered. “Didn’t have the key card.”

“Yeah, yeah—” Scootaloo stopped as she saw two food cartons on Rumble’s back.

“You brought some leftovers back?”

“Ye~ sort of.” Rumble shrugged as he stopped at Button’s door. “He still asleep?”

“I think so,” Scootaloo said, watching him for a moment before following.

Rumble carefully crept towards the mini-fridge under the nightstand, opening it just enough to slide in the stacked containers.

“Is that for him?”

Rumble scowled at Scootaloo, then turned and led her out of his room.

“Uh huh,” Rumble muttered, his cheeks reddening a little.

“Aww, Rummy~” Scootaloo cooed. “You’re such a good friend.”

“N—I just didn’t… Ugh.” Rumble grunted, his eyes widening as he noticed Sweetie already sound asleep.

“You gonna—” he stopped as Scootaloo hopped on the bed, settling down beside Sweetie.

“Nope. Well, alright,” Rumble mumbled. “Got my own place to crash for once. Night, Scoots.”

“Night, Rummy.” Scootaloo let out a yawn as she stretched her forehooves, snuggling into her pillow as what remained of the cold gave way to room temperature.

For a moment, she simply stared at the warm bulb of the bedside lamp; its orange-ish glow was comforting to her, the floral wallpaper reminding her of somepony special.

Somepony she couldn’t wait to see again.

She turned out the light, letting the last ounce of energy leave her as she settled under the covers. Sweetie’s soft snoring fading in and out with the distant ambiance of the city that never sleeps.

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