• Published 28th Feb 2016
  • 3,248 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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33. Decline

Rainbow Dash wasn’t a fan of monotony, nor was she all that fond of—

“Hustle it up, Dash!” Spitfire hollered. “Three more of these bastards, then we’re outta here!”

She waved a casual hoof towards a trio of bright red plastic bins, all full of very heavy, very thick paperwork.

Did they use ink or lead? Rainbow groaned on the inside as the outside was matted by sweat. She wasn’t one to wimp out of some heavy lifting every now and then—the Bolts’ weight regimine made sure of that—but at least strength training didn’t tack on the boredom.

“I mean, I could grab some drinks and greasy appetizers by myself, but…” Spitfire smirked as Rainbow strained to lift the final crate to the top of the stack. “Nicely, done.”

“Yeah…” Rainbow replied. “No sweat.”

Spitfire arched an eyebrow as she closed the storage unit and lead Rainbow down the hallway. “Unless there’s a rogue rain cloud in here, I’d say you’re full of shit.”

“You wouldn’t be wrong, I’ve been holding it in since the first load.”

“Holy… “ Spitfire shook her head. “Why don’t you drop them colts off at the pool before we head out.”

“Don’t have to tell me twice.” Rainbow rolled her eyes as she slipped into the Mare’s room to traumatize a toilet.

Relieved in more than one way, Rainbow followed Spitfire into the teeming streets of Cloudsdale’s Cirrus Corner: an eclectic mix of uptown clubs, dive bars, and ten-figure flats that had a sweeping view of South Equestria. The entire city was bathed in the wonderful amber of the setting sun.

“Two more days, bitch.” Rainbow flinched as Spitfire nudged her a little harder than usual. “Told ya you’d make it.”

“Since when did I say I wouldn’t?” Rainbow puffed out her chest. “You call it suspension, I call it a little extra exercise.”

“Of course you’d say that…” Spitfire chuckled. “But uh… when it’s in the bag, what are you gonna do?”


“I’m pretty sure the Bolts will consider your reinstatement. I wouldn’t be the only one putting in a good word for ya.”

“That would be amazing,” Rainbow’s smile quickly faded. “But, just like my friends said… filly's first.”

“If you put half the effort you did back there into being a mom, she’s going to grow up to be a fuckin’ alicorn.” Spitfire razzed as they trotted into a quiet pub, the dim lighting relaxing.

“I hope so,” Rainbow sighed. “If this trip of hers doesn’t go well, I could be in for a rough couple months.”

“Have you…” Spitfire watched as their glasses were filled with sky piss on the rocks. “Ever thought about maybe coming back?”

“With her?” Rainbow was practically bug-eyed. “I’d love to, but… she wouldn’t do well here. She already gets shit back home for being grounded. Her life would be Tartarus.”

“Oh yeah, I always forget she—can’t. They ever figure out why?”

Rainbow shrugged. “I dunno, honestly. She’s always had tiny wings, so they just kinda told her to deal with it.”


“Yeah, but she’s a rough and tumble kind of kid. She mobs around on that scooter of hers like a bat out of Hay.”

“Stubborn, speedy, and a smart-ass.” Spitfire smirked. “If that’s not a little you, I don’t know what is.”

Their orders taken, the two were left to fidget and tap their hooves on the table. Finally, Rainbow cleared her throat.

“If I were to, you know, rejoin the Bolts…” Rainbow traced a hoof across the table.

“We miss ya,” Spitfire said simply. “We all make mistakes, and with that cuckoo in his cage, we can start scouting for a new recruit.”

“You haven’t yet?”

“No, ma’m.” Spitfire shook her head. “We took your suspension as an opportunity to catch a much needed break, both for PR and our sanity. I hate to say it, but you fucking up was the best thing that happened to my sleep schedule.”

“‘Least it was good for something, I guess,” Rainbow muttered as her drink was set before her.

For what seemed like forever, Scootaloo simply lie there, half-lidded eyes adjusting to the bloom of sunlight blaring through the window.

The unkempt colt before her slowly focused into view, her mind was virtually blank. The smell of pizza breath wafted into her nostrils as drool oozed from Rumble’s slacked jaw.

Nopony closed the blinds, huh? Scootaloo’s ear flicked as she sat up.

Her eyes scanned the room, from Rumble, to a snoring Sweetie Belle, then the wide-open door on the opposite wall. She blinked once or twice, wondering dumbly why the open door caught her attention. An empty bed, with covers tossed haphazardly, was all Scootaloo could see inside.

Left Rumble here, huh? Scootaloo glanced back towards their bed as she trotted towards the bathroom, resurfacing emotions starting to bring her down.

Relief came as the warm shower pelted her feathers and fur, steam rising from the floor; her inner voice drowned out by droplets pelting porcelain.

Adjusted to the light, she raised her head up, watching stray pelts slowly streak down the tile. She shook her head; last night had been awful.

“Is it bad I don’t wanna see mom again?” Scootaloo mumbled as she reached for the microscopic shampoo bottle. “I mean, It’s not that I don’t want to see her, just not like…”

Her ears perked as she swore she’d heard something—maybe something fell? She looked around the small shelves in the showers, the hilariously tiny conditioner, hoof brush, and soap were undisturbed.

She muffled a squawk as she heard the twist of a knob and the rush of the bathroom sink. For a minute, she kept her gaze to the floor, the water getting slightly cooler. Finally, she heard the brushing of teeth.

WIthout saying a word, she pulled the shower curtain askew just in time for Rumble to spit take all over the mirror, coughing as some toothpaste no doubt assailed his windpipe.

“What are you doing in here?” Scootaloo barked.

“Why didn’t you lock the door, stupid?” Rumble’s tone was as acidic as his face was red.

“Are you deaf?” Scootaloo hissed. “Obviously somepony is taking a shower!”

“Figured you’d already left,” Rumble shrugged as he continued brushing his teeth.

“Wait, so you assumed it was Button when you came bursting in here?”

“Uh huh.”

Scootaloo’s eyes narrowed for a second before she closed the curtain and she began sudsing her coat with soap.

“Still grumpy, huh?”

“No.” Scootaloo began. “Can you just hurry and get out?”

“Sorry, yeesh.”

Scootaloo kept her gaze low, watching the suds wash towards the drain. “Yes, I’m still grumpy. A lot happened last night, and I’m… not happy about it.”

She winced as Rumble gargled mouthwash.

“Mmrgfrmf,” Rumble said poetically before he spat in the sink. “Something wrong with your mom?”

Scootaloo nodded.

“You… want me to come?”

There was a sudden pang in her gut as the water grew colder still. Ignoring the loud yes that echoed through her mind like a ringing bucket, she closed her eyes and let out a sigh.

Silence lingered as she felt shampo washing over her eyelids and down her snout.

“I guess Button kinda just left me here, so if you want me to tag along with you fillies—”

Scootaloo shuddered.

“—just say so,” Rumble finished.

Fillies? Oh, yeah, her Scootaloo finally turned off the water, stopping halfway from throwing open the curtain, remembering who was on the other side.

The door closed just as her mouth opened. Peeking from behind the curtain again, she saw she was alone. Scootaloo shuddered, hard; she hadn’t even stepped out into the chilly air yet.

Cleaned off, and mostly dry, she wandered back into the room; Rumble was now missing, leaving only her and a snoring Sweetie Belle.

“Where did he—” She flinched as Sweetie went from sawing a log, to butchering an entire forest.

Ears splayed she trotted over the Sweetie, her hooves as heavy as her boop was blunt. Sweetie’s horn sparked as she sputtered awake.

“You’re worse than Rainbow Dash,” Scootaloo deadpanned as she looked into her tired eyes.

Sweetie Belle looked away for a moment, forcing down a smile.

Scootaloo did the same, scuffing at the carpet. Her tongue tied as Sweetie hopped down from her bed.

“Where’s the colts?” Sweetie asked as she slowly meandered towards the washroom. She stopped after a second, turning to see Scootaloo still sitting at her bedside, gaze to the floor.

As she raised a hoof, somepony knocked thrice on the door. Opening it with her magic revealed Rumble, saddled with two platters of something.

“Awww,” Rumble groaned. “I have to go back and get juice, anyway. What do you want?”

“Bwah?” Sweetie blinked, the smell of breakfast alerting her senses. “Oh, uh… maybe some raisin oatmeal if they have any. Thank you, Rumble.”

“No problem,” Rumble said simply as he placed the two platters onto his bed, one revealed to host half a bagel, some hashbrowns, and pancakes. Without another word, he cantered back out the door.

As it clicked shut, Scootaloo slowly wandered to the open platter. She drew in the wafting smells as she took a curious nibble of her hashbrown.

“That was nice of him,” Sweetie said mostly to herself as she finally entered the bathroom.

As Scootaloo wandered back to her breakfast, she glanced towards the door again. Sighing, she hopped on the bed and brought her food towards her side.

Rumble returned with juice and some oatmeal plus toast. He instinctively took his food and prepared to sit on the floor.

“Come on,” Scootaloo said, a smile finally on her face. “Don’t be such a wuss, I don’t bite… usually.”

“Yeah, Celestia knows you sure bark, though,” Rumble remarked as he sat down beside her, the two of them laser-focused on their breakfast.

Feeling warmth in her stomach, and the last of the tired weight shed, she looked out the hotel window. The scene just like the day before; she even recognized some carriages and their occupants.

She sighed. It seemed nature was calling, and she’d much rather answer than spend another moment lost in her thoughts, so she hastily trotted to the bathroom.

Rumble dared a glance at Sweetie Belle.

“You’re coming, right?” Sweetie asked, not looking away from her morning feast.


“You should.” Sweetie cut in. “I hope today is better than yesterday, but between boredom and frustration, she’s… not happy.”

“Well, then, I’m glad I already told her I’d go if she wanted.”

Sweetie’s ears wilted as a fire died. “Oh. W—well, that’s good.”

“Yep,” Rumble said, raising an eyebrow, “sure is.”

Scootaloo wrinkled her snout at the smell of toast and gravy, or at least, that’s what she told herself it was as she lead the trio upstairs and down the hallway towards Mrs. Harbor’s apartment.

“This is a pretty big place, huh?” Rumble asked as he glanced at the various portraits and open doors.

“Yeah,” Sweetie answered, “seems like old ponies from all over Equestria come here.”

“Must mean it’s pretty good, then.” Rumble was looking towards Scootaloo, but only Sweetie nodded in response as he watched his marefriend’s tail hang limp, her heavy hooves plodding along the amber carpet.

“Was she like this yesterday?” Rumble whispered.

Sweetie simply sighed as they slowed, Scootaloo scowling at the door. Trotting to sit beside her, Rumble glanced between the unmoving door, and Scootaloo’s face.

“You gonna knock, or…?” Rumble flinched at the glare he received.

“Bwu—y-yeah!” Scootaloo sputtered. The three of them listened and waited after Shave and A Haircut and were met with silence.

“Maybe she’s still asleep?” Sweetie tilted her head. “What did Tender Care say—“

Rumble snorted.

“What?” Scootaloo scowled as a smirk threatened to form. “That’s his name… I think.”

“Poor bastard,” Rumble muttered.

“Oh, I’m quite alright with it.”

Scootaloo’s face grew frigid as Rumble turned, facing the intimidating stallion with an indifferent smirk.

“Sounds more like a nickname,” Rumble quipped.

“Rumble!” Scootaloo hissed.

“Rumble, eh?” Tender smiled himself. “Guess we both got the short end of the name stick.” His smile faltered a little as he looked towards the fillies.

Scootaloo was the first to notice. “What’s wrong?”

“Well,” Tender sighed. “I’m afraid Mrs. Harbour won’t be up and about much. Seems she overdid it yesterday. Bone doctor wants her rested until physical therapy this afternoon.”

Scootaloo let out a whimper.

“Might see a couple nurses in and out today, let them do their thing.” He shook his head, eyes widening as he saw Scootaloo stiffen. “She’ll be alright, but make sure she doesn’t push herself, okay?”

Sweetie watched Scootaloo for a moment, and then swallowed. “We will, sir.”

“Excellent.” he forced a smile. “She was very much looking forward to seeing you again, Scootaloo. If you need anything, just holler.”

With that, he turned the key and opened the door, closing it behind them.

Sweetie watched as Rumble’s curious eyes scanned the surroundings, stalling at a couple pictures of a certain orange pegasus.

“You were pretty cute as a foal.”

Scootaloo scowled as she shook her head, wordlessly trotting down the hall.

Sweetie did the same as Rumble glanced her way.

“What? Just trying to lighten the mood.”

Sweetie sighed. “You of all ponies should know better.”

“Excuse me?” Rumble arched an eyebrow.

You heard me. She mouthed as they wandered down the hall, the door at the end now open.

“…doctor says I need to take it easy, no strenuous exercise,” they heard Mrs. Harbour say as they trotted inside. “And that includes an afternoon stroll.

Scootaloo’s ears wilted. “Hey! You could’ve told me no.”

“With the guilt trip you were putting on?” Harbour chuckled as she glanced over to Rumble, who sat beside Scoots.

“Well as I live and breath~” She smirked. “Still hitched to this feisty wagon, I see?”

Rumble simply tilted his head.

“Oblivious as ever, too,” Sweetie muttered.

“If I got a guilt trip, you surely got the works,” Harbour sniggered.

“That’s one way to put it.” Rumble smiled as he dodged a hoof swing. “I actually went with my friend to Manehattan Comic-Con, yesterday.”

“Oh, with all the ponies in superhero costumes and fantasy getups?” Harbour clopped her hooves together. “Well that sounds wonderful; why didn’t you girls go?”

“Because I came here to see you,” Scootaloo squaked.

“Dearest, you wouldn’t offend me in the slightest if you chose to spend the rest of the weekend downtown; how often do you get to an event like that?”

“We could go late—” Rumble trailed as Scootaloo looked at him with murderous ire.

Mrs. Harbour laughed as her adoptive daughter mouthed a dirty word or two, punctuated by a menacing step towards her bemused coltfriend.

“In any case, why don’t you three make yourself at home while I get these old bones rarin’ to go?”

“Would you like some coffee or tea?” Sweetie asked.

“Coffee would be lovely, dear.” Harbour smiled. “There’s cream and sugar in the pantry.”

“Sure thing!” Scootaloo beamed as she dashed down the hall and into the kitchenette.

Scootaloo was already cranking the coffee grinder by the time Sweetie rounded into the kitchen, stalling for a second at the strong smell.

“You got this, Scoots?” Sweetie asked, letting out a little eep as two irritated magenta eyes glared at her for the briefest moment.

“You of all ponies… ” Rumble tsked as he trotted into the living room.

Sweetie watched Scootaloo for a moment, trotting over to help find a filter.

“I got this.” Sweetie’s eyes went from the depths of a drawer, to a piercing stare. “I was just—” Sweetie began, only to sigh and exit the kitchen, seeing Rumble flipping through a photo album.

As she sat with him, she saw some photos she recognized—mostly of Scootaloo, and occasionally herself, but also Madame Harbour, her husband, and the old house. For a moment, she could smell the dust and faint fragrance.

“You remember most of this?” Rumble asked curiously, carefully turning the page over.

“Mmhm.” Sweetie nodded, pointing to a polaroid of Scoots in a Nightmare Night costume that was much too big. “Yikes, that had to be from before my sister moved out of Mom and Dads.”

“Huh?” They heard Scootaloo from behind the counter.

“We’re looking at some old pictures,” Sweetie giggled. “You remember when you went as an egg?”

Suddenly a shadow loomed over the album. “N—No!” She hastily covered the offending snapshot with a trembling hoof. A gray one gently pushed it away.

“Oh stop,” Rumble giggled. “It’s actually kinda cute.”

“Aww, mama’s little hatchling,” Harbour cooed, sending Scootaloo’s nerves into the stratosphere.

“Aaaagh!” Scootaloo cringed as she attempted to sneak back to the kitchen.

“Already got my coffee, dear, thank you.” Harbour smiled as she took a seat beside Sweetie Belle. “Besides, wasn’t it you who wanted to look through these, anyway?”

“Well yeah…” Scootaloo sulked over to sit beside Rumble, who draped a wing over her.

“We’re all friends here.” Sweetie smiled. “Nothing to be embarrassed about.”

“Yeah,” Rumble added. “You don’t know embarrassing until you see my mom’s homemade Wind Rider costume I got to wear for my first Nightmare Night in Las Pegasus.” He shuddered. “I can still feel that itch sometimes.”

“Besides—” Harbour waved a hoof. “Sandy already had that rooster getup from his stage days, and my good friend Cherries Jubilee was a customer for a local theatre troupe. So, we made a little flock.”

Scootaloo swallowed as she gazed at a faded picture from her first day at Cheerilee’s schoolhouse.

“I wonder why that one looks so dated,” Sweetie said. “That’s the newest picture I’ve seen so far.”

“Hm.” Mrs. Harbour adjusted her specs. “Probably used a disposable camera for that one. Money got a little tight after Sandy lost his job at the Acres.”

“Bw—huh?” Scootaloo’s head shot up.

“Oops,” Harbour muttered under her breath. “I suppose you’re old enough, but he was a salespony for the Apples as seasonal work. He did good, got them rapport in Manehattan.”

Scootaloo shifted under Rumble’s wing as Harbour paused for a sip of coffee. “And my hometown of Vanhoover; but he lost them a good deal of bits after getting hoodwinked by a con artist in Trottingham.”

“Eugh.” Sweetie shuddered. “I can see why they’d be unhappy about that.”

“Didn’t help he and Bright Mac had a few before they had it out.” She shook her head. “Both were the kinda drunks suited for karaoke night or a hole in the wall. Bright was a bit of a young buck, long and short of it was that you got used to oatmeal for a month.”

“Huh.” Scootaloo nodded. She watched Harbour’s concerned gaze for a moment. She knew as well as anyone the wheels in Scootaloo’s brain were spinning.

The next page yielded more recent moments: Sweetie Belle was in most of these. Their first school pictures, Harbour and Sandy helping clean and stage the Carousel Boutique for its grand opening; and a couple pre-CMC shenanigans.

“I forgot how close our families were.” Sweetie glanced towards Scootaloo, who was fixated on a dinner photo of Rarity’s parents, Harbour, Sandy, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle.

“Yes, Betty and I often met each other at the spa before they moved to the other end of Ponyville.” Harbour grinned. “I remember helping Magnum find Quills and Sofas after they first moved into town. He and Sandy were on a bowling team for a couple years if I recall.”

“No wonder you two grew up best friends.” Rumble snorted. “You’re basically family.”

Family Scootaloo mouthed, then smiled.

“Wouldn’t have it any other way, would we?” Harbour put a hoof around Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo prancing from Rumble’s cover into a gentle embrace.

Rumble glanced towards a shelf in the corner, adorned with knick-knacks and framed pictures.

“So, uh… If you don’t mind me asking…”

“Not at all.” Harbour smiled and nodded.

“What happened to… your husband?”

“Sandbar?” Scootaloo asked incredulously, an old hoof rested on her shoulder.

“Have you ever heard of Laminitis?”

Rumble shook his head.

“It’s when your hooves grow tender, and swell until you can’t stand up.” Harbour nodded as Scootaloo shuddered. “At first, we thought it was just from a fall he’d taken a month before he began to founder, but the doctors told him to take it easy for awhile.”

“He got sick and began to lose weight, wasn’t eating; eventually it got bad enough to where I couldn’t take care of him, anymore. He had about a month at Ponyville Hospital before he passed.”

“I’m sorry,”

“Don’t be.” Harbour smiled. “He was a hard workin’ stallion, but he never was one to take care of himself; he ate enough for the whole town when he was in rare form. That’s why I always told this little filly to keep herself busy. Nothing wrong with a little indulgence every once in awhile, but…”

“Wait… ” Scootaloo blinked at a sudden realization. “Is that why you took me to the hospital that time I fractured my forehoof?”

“That’s why I was a worry wart, yes.” Harbour nodded. “Once you learn about the signs, you become just a touch paranoid.”

“Wasn’t that after you tried an… Ender..”

“Endo No-hoof kickout,” Scootaloo corrected, “…and yes. I stuck it the second time, though!”

Rumble tilted his head as Mrs. Harbour stifled a giggle. “The hay is that?”

“Scooter trick,” Scootaloo answered. “Haven’t I shown you before?”

Rumble shook his head.

“What?” Sweetie’s eyes widened. “How have you not?”

“Dunno,” Scootaloo shrugged. “Been a little busy, I guess.”

“Even Apple Bloom has seen you pull crazy stunts!”


Sweetie Belle rolled her eyes.

“Alright fillies— and colt, I think it’s time we head down to the feedlot for some oats.”

“Already?” Scootaloo’s voice cracked as she whipped around to see the hour hand facing north.

“Sounds good to me,” Rumble yawned as he followed Mrs. Harbour out the door. “Come on, Scoots.”

While Harbour and Sweetie Belle trotted down the hallway, Scootaloo lingered a little, seemingly fixated on the still-open photo album.

“Come on.” Rumble nodded towards the door. Scootaloo flinching as he put a hoof over her withers, nudging her.

Scootaloo scowled at him.

“What’s wrong?”

Rumble shrank back as Scootaloo’s scowl deepened.

“Are you seriously this dense?” Scootaloo breathed.

Rumble blinked once or twice before flashing a weak smile. “I guess so.”

“Alright then, featherbrain, let me spell it out for you.” Scootaloo stepped a little too close, pressing Rumble’s snout with hers as they backed into the room.

Praise Celestia you wash.

“This place is gross,” Scootaloo began as she closed the door behind them. She waved a hoof across the living room, landing on a particularly dirty section of wallpaper. “She does the same stupid stuff every day.”

“Sounds like my grandparents.” Rumble shrugged, nudging Scootaloo backwards.

“You just watched your grandparents wither away and die in a dusty flat?”

“Whoa. Scoots…” Rumble glanced towards the door. “What are you-”

“Don’t give me that.” She stomped in a circle. “Sweetie Belle said the same thing!”

“Alright, well I’d love to stand here and listen to you whine, but I’m starving. Let’s go before they come looking.”

“You’re gonna do it too, huh?”

“Sure am.” Scootaloo flinched as Rumble cut in with a commanding tone. “We’re going.”

She scowled as she was lead out the door and down the hall. Rumble let off as they reached the stairs, but kept beside her until they reached the cafeteria.

Assembled at the same table as yesterday was Harbour, Rosedust, and three other grandmares. Three empty chairs sat ready at one end.

“There you are.” Harbour smiled as Scootaloo took a spare seat. “I was about to have Miss. Belle check on you two.” She glanced to her left, arching an eyebrow.

“Colt’s room,” Scootaloo answered.

“…no need to play hard to get, sugar bun,” Rosedust cooed at a young stallion, whose beet-red face contrasted his apricot coat.

“Discord rise, Rosebud!” A mare howled as her spectacles shimmered. “Not even his first day and you’re already on the prowl. Also, I’d prefer if you left my sugar buns out of your promiscuity.”

“Oh, can it, you.” Rosebud scowled, ears perked as her prey scuttled out of sight. “I would’ve had him hooked if you hadn’t hollered.”

Scootaloo squirmed in her seat, blinking as Sweetie scooted closer.

The spectacled mare shook her head. “Hardly conduct appropriate for grown mares,” she continued, waving a hoof Scootaloo’s way. “Keep it up and the fillies will mistake this place for the looney bin.”

“Might as well just have them bring on geldings from here on out.” Harbour muttered as she took a sip of her water.

Rosedust stuck out her tongue as she humphed back to reading her book. “Foals.”

“Sun above, mares.” Harbour shook her head. “The flirty filly is Rosedust, and Cocoa Butter—” she pointed to the spectacled mare, “This is Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle.”

“Pleasure to meet you.” Sweetie smiled as she shook the mare’s hand.

“Did I miss introductions?” An alabaster mare pulled out an empty chair beside Harbour, her Bass Clef cutie mark catching Sweetie’s eye.

“Just in time, Ivory.” Harbour chuckled.

“Ivory Flower.” she extended a hoof. “Pleasure to finally meet you girls.”

Rumble tilted his head. “Finally?”

“Well, when you’ve heard so many good things about this here filly,” Ivory cooed, rustling Scootaloo’s mane.

“Well, well, who under Celestia’s sun is this suave stallion-to-be?”

“Yearling’s off-limits, Rosie.” The peanut-colored mare tsked. “Especially since my bits are on him being company to one of these lovelies.” She turned to Scootaloo, who barely suppressed a squawk.

“Oh, come now, Cocoa.” Rose scowled.

“You know what they say.” Ivory smirked. “Birds of a feather and all that.”

Scootaloo rolled her eyes at the sight at Rumble’s stupid smirk. As nice as this banter was, it did little to fill the sinkhole in her stomach.

“Uh...” Sweetie raised a shaky hoof with a nervous smile. “I hope you don’t mind me asking Mrs… Ivory, but is your cutie mark a Bass Clef?”

“Sure is, sugar.” Ivory puffed out her chest. “Two decades in the Manehattan Chamber Orchestra is what it got me.”

Sweetie’s eyes embiggened. “The Manehattan Chamber Orchestra? My sister attended one of their concerts; they’re the best in Equestria!”

“Well, they’d better be.” Ivory grinned. “My great nephew’s the director.”

“No way!” Sweetie covered her mouth with a hoof as her cheeks turned amber. “I… I mean…”

“What’s all the ruckus?”

Everypony turned to see a crimson-coated stallion with a white mane. On his head, a cap bearing the last-century insignia of the Cloudsdale Aeronautical Defense Force.

It was now Rumble’s turn to dawn wide eyes and a dropped jaw. Scootaloo busied herself with a bowl of boiled oats.

“Pretty sure you’re still on the hook for a shoddy game of bridge, Barry.” Madame Harbour smirked as the stallion took his seat beside an awestruck Rumble.

“Pretty sure it was only half my fault there, Wharf.” He turned to Rumble. “These your grandfoals?”

“Just this filly.” Scootaloo couldn’t help a small smile as her mane was rustled again.

“Who’s this, then?” He smiled, looking at Rumble who almost choked on air.

“Rumble—Sir.” Rumble scrambled to punctuate with a salute.

“Sir, eh?” He chucked as he shook Rumble’s hoof. “No need, colt. Call me Red. Red Baron if you wanna be formal. Let me guess… ” his eyes narrowed for a brief moment. Junior Flight Academy?”

Rumble nodded.

“Your turn.” Red Baron smirked.

Rumble’s eyes widened once more as he put a hoof to his chin.

“That’s their prewar insignia, so….” Rumble squirmed a little. “Yakyakistan?”

“We have a winner.”

Rumble’s grin stretched his face.

“Alright, stud.” Red smirked. “What division?”

Rumble froze. “Uh….” he squinted as he dared to lean a little closer, scrutinizing the cap. “I… don’t know.”

“52nd.” Red smiled. “These four stars and the phoenix, colt.” He took off the cap, and placed it on Rumble’s head.

Scootaloo winced, only to relax as instead of hastily tossing it and ‘fixing’ his mane, he shook like a giddy foal. She could’ve swore she saw the slightest squee almost escape his lips.

She sighed as she returned to her gruel. Soggy oats sludged sloppily as she lazily toyed with her food.


“Huh?” Scootaloo’s gaze shifted from her brackish bowl to Mrs. Harbour who, while not concerned, looked curious.

“You’ve been awfully quiet.” Her words drew the attention of everypony else.

“Oh—whoops. Guess I kinda just spaced out or something.” Scootaloo chuckled nervously as she felt heat in her face.

“‘S’alright.” Harbour nodded. “You want something else?”

Scootaloo followed the incredulous hoof to what was now miserable mush.

She nodded meekly as Harbour smiled.

Ivory snorted. “Good thing you snapped out of it, sweetie—”

“Huh?” Sweetie asked.

“Not you, sweet roll.” Rumble smirked.

“Apologies, little filly,” Ivory giggled. “Thought that was a nickname. Anyway, they’re about to close up the kitchen, so better get a word in—Oh, looks like Harbour’s six steps ahead of us.”

“Surprised?” Red waved a dismissive hoof. “She’s too sharp to be hanging around these old donkeys.”

“Who are you calling lame, slowpoke?“ Rosebud tsked. “Celestia could hang the sun and it would still run circles around you.”

“Bah.” Red stuck out his tongue. “At least I got my wits about me, sugar mama.”

“Well, I never!” Rosebud objected, then went on about something or other.

“Oi, Scoots.” Scootaloo flinched from Rumble’s boop. “We’re gonna go to Sgt. Red Baron’s apartment after lunch. You wanna come?”

Scootaloo nodded.

“Are you sure you don’t mind?” Sweetie asked. “I’m sure Mrs. Harbour wouldn’t care if you took a nap in her room or something.”

It wasn't even a blink, and the two were caught up once again in the adorable antics of the old ponies.

Scootaloo sighed.

Sweetie Belle’s eyes narrowed as she scrutinized the sheet music with an intensity that made Scootaloo take notice.

“I figure we start with something light.” Ivory looked over Sweetie’s mane at the music. “You familiar with Beautiful Dreamer?”

“Hmm.” Sweetie Belle put a hoof to her chin. “Certainly isn’t something Countess has ever shown me.” Her face brightened. “But I can use all the practice I can get!”

“There’s the spirit.” she smiled. “Let me go find my songbook, and we can get going.”

Sweetie squeed with excitement as she pranced in place.

Scootaloo simply lay on her side; this couch was much comfier than the one in Mrs. Harbour’s room, at least. With its elegant lines and finer material, it reminded her of something in Rarity’s ever-evolving sofa collection than furnishing for an old ponies’ home.

“You still tired, Scoots?” Sweetie tilted her head.

“I guess,” Scootaloo muttered. “Rumble ran off to go fawn over pegasus stuff, and you’ve got… something going on.”

Sweetie’s smile faltered only slightly. “Why don’t you join us?”

Scootaloo couldn’t help snort. “You serious right now? Do you not remember the talent show?”

Sweetie nodded. “Aw, come on, it’ll be fun! Give you something to do.”

“Nah, you two have at it. I’ll stick with being the audience.”

“You sure, sw—Scootaloo?” Ivory chirped as she emerged from the hallway.

“Yeah, I’m good.” Scootaloo waved a hoof as she forced a smile and slid back into the cushion with an oomph.

“Fine as well.” Ivory smiled as she took a seat at her piano. She played a few notes and a sweep, winking at Sweetie Belle as she cleared her throat.

Scootaloo watched her horn glow, the sheet music bathed in a faint, mint aura as she smiled.

As Ivory played the chorus, Scootaloo perked up just a bit. Something about the melody—or maybe just the piano itself—reminded her of late nights and crackling fires.

She shuddered.

“Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me,
Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee.
Sounds of the rude world, heard in the day,
Lull'd by the moonlight have all passed away.”

Scootaloo couldn’t help a soft smile. With every strike of the keys, and the faintest bob of Sweetie Belle’s head, she felt an invisible weight upon her being slowly washed away.

“Beautiful dreamer, beam on my heart,
Even as the morn on the streamlet and sea;
Then will all clouds of sorrow depart.”

Halfway through the bridge, she could’ve sworn her eyes met Sweetie’s—the faintest glimmer, and the brightest smile. And as Ivory played the final notes, Sweetie let out a sigh of relief.

Scootaloo clopped her hooves together for a moment as Ivory and Sweetie Belle bowed for the party of one.

“Well, well, little missy, I will say you’ve impressed me quite a bit,” Ivory said. “Very rare is it that somepony so young has quite the spark you do.”

“I’m still early in my coaching.” Sweetie blushed, her eyes cast to the floor.

“No need for such humility, filly.” Ivory smirked. “Just dedication. My best years were when I made a living doing what I loved; even now that it’s more a hobby… there’s nothing like being in the world of music—especially for those ponies who harbor a genuine passion.”

“You’re still a pianist?”

“Dear, I’m almost offended at the idea that I wouldn’t be!” Ivory smiled, putting a hoof over Sweetie Belle’s withers. “Just because you reach seniority doesn’t mean you’ve finished following your dreams.”

Sweetie sat awestruck as some songbooks and newspaper clippings danced around her in a violet aura.

“Charity concerts and the occasional performance for some upscale dine or birthday may not equal sold-out shows at Madison Mare Garden, but that’s not what it’s about. Music can be a means to money, sure—”

Scootaloo watched as Sweetie’s marvelous gaze swept from picture to picture, the smile on her face widening with every glisten in her eyes.

“—You’re the protege of this generation’s pop sensation! You don’t need me telling you that; but what matters is, when you love something—really feel it in your heart, whatever it may be— even the smallest smile from a faint face in the crowd is enough to warm your heart for days on end. Do you not love what you do?”

“Yes, ma’am!” Sweetie squealed with adorable ferocity.

“Well then, with your passion and practice, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing eachother again real soon.” Ivory winked.

“Ooh!” Sweetie trembled once more. “Maybe my sister can have you play at her first Manehattan Hearthwarming’s Eve Party!”


“Oh—” Sweetie blushed. “Y-Yeah, my big sister, Rarity…”

“Rarity?” Ivory’s eyes widened. “Rarity For You, Rarity?”

“Uh-huh.” Sweetie nodded.

“Well, how about that?” Ivory smiled. “I was just chatting with an old friend about finding a seamstress for her daughter’s wedding. I don’t suppose your sister would be up to the task?”

“Are you kidding?” Sweetie beamed. “She’s kill me if I didn’t ask her!”

“Splendid!” Ivory glowed. “Looks like I have some shopping to do this evening.”

Scootaloo couldn’t quite remember how they got there, but she didn’t care too much. Now they were in a slightly colder apartment, distinguished only by its vinyl wood paneling and the cluster of shelves hosting photos and memorabilia behind glass.

While Rumble fawned over the veteran stallion and all the shiny trinkets and trophies, Scootaloo’s chin grew sore from the firm couch arm it rest on. Sweetie Belle seemed immune to the occasional kick to scoot over.

...that’s the value of hard work and perseverance.” She could make out the baritone of Red’s voice. “You know the meaning of perseverance, colt?”

I… don’t think so,” Rumble replied, meekly, politely.

Must be nice. Scootaloo closed her eyes once more.

It means that even when the going gets tough, and the odds are stacked against you, you keep going. Be it flight class, or a disciplined Yak horde in the Crystal Mountains that have got you three to one: you take it on, and even if you lose, you didn’t give up.”

Scootaloo flapped her lips weakly as she gave up her slump.

You having fun, Sweetie Belle?”

Sweetie Belle yawned as she herself sat up.

I’ll take that as a ‘no’.”

Yeesh, Scootaloo.” Sweetie scowled. “You could at least try to enjoy yourself. Her physical therapy will be done in half an hour.”

Too long.”



Rumble was suddenly three inches from her face, which burned instantly, even as her thoughts turned to ice.”


C’mere!” Rumble said as he grabbed her limp hoof and lead her to the opposite end of the room.

She swallowed back an insult as her eyes met Red’s.

“Guess he wants you to sit in for the story, too.” Red chuckled, glancing towards a Sweetie Belle who was either fast asleep, or faking it like a pro.

“Scootaloo, is it?” Red extended his hoof to Scootaloo.

“Mmhm.” Scootaloo nodded meekly, returning the hoofshake with the force of a baby rabbit.

“Between Harbour and this colt, I’ve heard your life story and then some.” Red smirked. “Must be pretty darn special to ‘em. This little spitfire, especially.”

Rumble’s wings flared as he rushed to cover his face with feathers and Red roared with laughter, which sputtered with a wheezy cough.’

“Agh,” Red hacked. “That’s what you get for twenty years on the roll.”

Scootaloo winced at her sudden yawn. “The… whauuuuua?”

“Cigars, filly,” Red answered curtly as another bout of hacking threatened to erupt, only to go out with a wheeze. “A bunch of nasty muck and stuff rolled into tobacco. Don’t try it, don’t buy it; don’t even look at it. I already told this colt about what happened to one of my buddies; he was aspiring bolt, wound up sick and sorry instead.”

Scootaloo noticed something as she glanced Rumble’s way. Behind the colt, who felt the need to scratch behind his ears, was a small cardboard box with what appeared to be an athletic trophy sticking out.

“You can take that out if you’d like.” Scootaloo flinched, whipping around to see Red’s kind eyes and soft smile. “I’ve been meaning to finish unpacking, anyway.”

Scootaloo hadn’t even began to trot forward before a bluish-gray blur zipped towards the box. By the time she blinked, Rumble was already blowing the dust off a glistening gold-goggled pegasus.

“Believe that one’s from the 940 Junior Aviator’s Race, or as they call it these days, the Young Fliers Competition.” Red trotted up to the half-height trophy and looked at it wistfully. “Yes, that was back when this old pony kept up with the best of ‘em. Had to be about your age or so when I took this one home.”

“Whoa…” Rumble sat awestruck once more.

“Had to bust your flank in those days, though.” Red smirked. “If you wanted to train, your old stallion took you up and around the Low Clouds, the ones spewing those rainbows earthbound. Clipped my right wing in that race, if I remember right.”


“Not nearly as painful as placing third the next year and crashing my streak.” Red shook his head. “Got cocky and careless. Without money from the competitions, I was back at home with mom and dad—they were less than thrilled. Old man said I was going to the Wonderbolts Academy and joining the Equestrian Air Corps.”

Scootaloo looked over to Rumble again, his head craned upward, eyes wide and full of wonder. She felt the slightest pang in her stomach, like she had no reason to feel so listless and irritable. Yet, as Red went on about his first tour of the Crystal Mountains, that bitter taste in her mouth returned with a vengeance.

“If you think the Yaks of today have a temper, you’ve never met the Poleward Yaks. They were some of the most hardened bovines this side of Griffonstone.”

“My dad says they were carnivores!” Scootaloo winced at how enthusiastic her mule—Rumble was about the grizzly tone of this tale.

“You can bet your bits they were, colt,” Red continued. “Took ten of us in the first five days up there. Magic means nothing against steel resolve and raw power.”

“So…” Scootaloo heard herself ask before she could stop, “How did you win?”

“By the skin of our teeth—”

Scootaloo and Rumble sucked in a breath.

“Figuratively.” Red chuckled. “For me at least.”

“So, did it turn into melee? Hoof to…” Rumble stalled. “They call those hooves too, right?”

“Sure do, kid.” Red answered as he trotted towards the kitchenette to pour himself a drink. “Let’s just say one of theirs to your face will ruin your day and then some. Drink?”

“I’m fine,” Rumble answered quickly.”Scoots?”

Scootaloo shook her head.

“Yup… was a hell of a week. But, you gotta to what you gotta do.”

“Weren’t you scared?”

“As frightened as Celestia’s sun shines.”

“Then why did you do it?”

“SImple. There were ponies back home that wished me well, that had enough heart to believe in me. I wasn’t gonna let some ill-tempered yaks bring us down. Not without a fight. It’s one thing to take on the world—or the enemy—alone. It’s quite another when those you love got your back, because even when the going gets tough; well, you oughta know the rest.”

Rumble glanced down at the small glass of milk he hadn’t asked for, and chugged it without hesitation.

“Knew it.” Red snorted. “You two—ah, right, three have been here for nearly an hour. Figured you were a little parched. I always bring a little tea in for my students, especially during the summer. Colts think they’re hot stuff until they’re a nearly moltin’.”

“An hour?” Scootaloo’s ears perked.

“Students?” Rumble’s eyes lit up. “You’re a teacher, now?”

“Been for thirty years, colt.” Red smirked. “University of Cirrus. I teach world history majors during the week, and A.P. Cloud Physics on weekends. Maybe if you keep up your Weather Cadet classes, you’ll get into one of my infamous Atmospheric Science courses.”

“Wow! My mom went to Cirrus! My brother almost went…. until… he didn’t.”

“Is that so?” Red smiled. “Well looks like you’ve got some showing up to do. Speaking of which, I think a certain Wharf should be coming home from boot camp soon.

“Feels like boot camp, sometimes, at least with how banged up my hooves are on a good day. Anyway, I need to finish unpacking and prepare some lessons. It was a pleasure meeting you, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing eachother again. You especially.”

“Sir, yes, sir!” Rumble blinked as his salute resulted in a light thunk to his noggin.

Rumble grinned dumbly as Scootaloo trotted to the couch, poking Sweetie Belle with a hoof.

Wandering down the hall, Scootaloo’s hooves plodded heavily against the floor. On top of being tired, she was mind-numbingly bored.

Sweetie Belle was slow to keep up at first, but did well enough as they entered Mrs. Harbour’s room. She frowned as Scootaloo flopped limply onto the sofa and let out an irritated groan.

“You’ve been acting strange today, Scoots,” Sweetie Belle said, trotting to her friend’s side. “What’s wrong?”

“What do you think? While Ivory and Red are still out and about, doing something, it just seems like Mrs. Harbour does… y’know... nothing.”

“I’m sure she’ll find something to do once her hooves get better,” Sweetie assured her.

“What if they don’t?” Scootaloo asked as she turned to lay on her side. “I’m telling you Sweetie Belle, she wasn’t like this when she moved away.”

“Oh, come on/” Sweetie Belle dared a light chuckle. “She’s just getting old, Scoots. It happens.”

“Good to know you find it funny,” Scootaloo growled.

“I-” Sweetie stopped herself, instead turning around and trotting to close the door to the apartment.

“Not so fast, Sweetie Belle.” Harbour smirked as she rounded into view. “Hopefully you haven’t been idling around here too long.”

Scootaloo sat up, ears perked. Perhaps her eyes were playing tricks on her, but Mrs. Harbour seemed to be… limping a little. She watched as Mrs. Harbour set down her purse, turning to enter the hallway.

“Are you…” Scootaloo trailed as her stomach twisted into a knot; Harbour began to stagger, stumble, and in an instant, slumped down the side of the wall with a groan.

“Mom!” Scootaloo cried as she galloped to Harbour side, shaking as she struggled to help her back up.

Rumble made it three steps forward before he was stopped by her murderous ire.

“Back the fuck up!” Scootaloo barked, straining as she made the final push to right the old mare onto her bed.

“Scootaloo... I’m just trying to help-”

Her glare shut him up, and he sat perfectly still as she charged out of the bedroom towards him. As she lunged forwards, his wings flared and hoofs stretched out, restraining her just beneath her barrel. His teeth gritted as he restrained the thrashing, borderline frothing filly.

“Let me go! Let. Me. Go!” Scootaloo screamed between growls and gravely grunts. “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!”

Rumble grunted as he barely dodged her elbow. Nearly falling back, he directed it into a tumble, keeping her firmly in his clutches as she flailed with fury.

“Scootaloo, please stop...” Sweetie Belle barely whispered, looking between the commotion and Harbour’s room before trotting towards the later.

Mrs. Harbour lie in her bed, on her back. She looked miserable on top of any pain, but mixed with that anguish was the color of embarrassment; maybe humiliation.

“Are you alright?”

Mrs. Harbour didn’t say anything for a moment, finally letting out a long sigh.

“I suppose I’d be lying if I said I was, dear.”

“I can get you an ice pack—or maybe some anti-inflammatory potio—“

“Sweetie Belle, honey.” Harbour was hoarse, yet firm. “If you want to help me, really want to relieve... Celestia forgive me... a burden...” She nodded towards the hallway, where glancing back yielded the briefest view of Scootaloo biting air.

Sweetie’s heart raced as she heard the springs of the mattress groan.

“Madam, I really think you should lay down-”

Mrs. Harbour ignored her as she struggled out of bed and hobbled down the hallway.

Rumble’s cheeks throbbed along with his jaw; his hooves were sore, and a couple of his feathers had bite marks, but he didn’t let up.

“Scoots, come on,” Rumble panted. “You need to chill, you’re freaking me the fuck out.”

“Oh, it must be so hard!” Scootaloo traded between crying and clenched teeth. “You got to pal around all day and live it up!”

“What are you-” Rumble blinked as Scootaloo’s struggle began to subside. “There. Just breathe, alright? She’s okay, OK?”

“No, she's not!” She gave one final, powerful thrash; Rumble lost his grip, scrambling to pull her back. “She’s dying, Rumble! I told you, I told Sweetie Belle, I told you! But you two won’t listen to me. You just tell me to be okay with it, well fuck-”


Scootaloo fell to the carpet with a dull thud as Rumble was startled. Mrs. Harbour stood at the end of the hall. Her voice was hardly commanding, but still held that motherly firmness. Rumble dared not move, much less breathe.

“I don’t know what in Equestria has gotten into you, but it needs to stop right here, right now; or I am going to have to ask you to leave.”

Sweetie Belle dared to cross the room. She kept her eyes on Scootaloo, who simply stood still, ears splayed and hooves trembling.

“You don’t know, huh?” Scootaloo’s fur began to stand. “Must be nice.”

“Scoots-” Rumble began, only to swallow it back as Harbour took a frail step forward.

“Must be nice to just leave me to some selfish, spoiled brat while you get to rot away in this dump.”

Mrs. Harbour’s jaw set.

“What... are you talking about? I thought you and your mother-”

“Don’t call her my mother.” Scootaloo hissed. “She is not my mother! You just needed an excuse to leave me and Poppy to fend for ourselves!”

Mrs. Harbour made to speak, only to be cut off.

“I don’t want you to leave me like Sandy did. I don’t want you to go away... like he did... I love you so much-”

As Scootaloo fell into a heap, Rumble swept her up again, this time without resistance.

“We’ve been over this, Scootaloo,” Harbour strained, rubbing her forehead. “This was for the best. She promised to take care of you-”

“She’s a liar!” Scootaloo cried. “What happens if she gives up and leaves me alone again, huh? What am I...” She choked back a lump in her throat. “W-what am I gonna do?”

“Teach her.”

Scootaloo’s ears perked. And for the briefest moment, Rumble tightened his grip. Only to loosen as Harbour spoke.

“Teach her to be careful, to be mindful of you. If she’s irresponsible, then show her responsibility. If she’s unreasonable, show her understanding and compromise.”

“You don’t know her!”

“Oh? But I know you. I know that when you came to me as a foal, I was far from the maternal maiden you’ve come to know. Hardly. I married too young and grew up too fast. Were it not for you to show me what it meant to be family... I’d be long gone.”

Mrs. Harbour smiled as she took a step forward. She nodded to Rumble, who finally relaxed as he let go. Scootaloo’s tail brushed his face as she stood still.

“What if...” Scootaloo sniffed. “What if she doesn’t listen to me? What if she kicks me out or says she doesn’t want me?”

“If she’s naive enough to discard you, well, Tartarus awaits; but in any event, you need only look around you. These two here—“ She waved a hoof between Rumble and Sweetie Belle. “I am far from the only pony who loves you.No matter which way the tide turns, you’ll swim to shore. You managed to teach this old pony how to love, how to listen. If your mother has half the mind to do right by you, then I know you can reach her.”

Scootaloo shuddered as she let out a little whimper. “I’m scared.”

Mrs. Harbour closed her eyes. Rumble and Sweetie exchanged glances, and for a moment, the room was silent.

“So am I.” Harbour’s voice finally began to waver. “There are many things that keep me up at night. I know these days are numbered, and unlike some ponies, it’s a fact I seem to have trouble accepting. I didn’t want you to see me like this; I wanted your memories of me to be that of a mare who was composed and confident, but stress and seniory seemed hellbent to defeat that desire.”

She finally trotted to Scootaloo and brought her to her side.

“There are many things that scare me too, Scootaloo. But there is one thing, one little glimmer of hope—a flame that keeps the darkness at bay. I know... I know that you are going to be alright. You’ve had every reason in the world to simply give up and go limp. But… that isn’t who you are.”

“Where one saw weak wings, you saw a scooter and a need for speed. Heck, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in Ponyville who would call you an orphan.” Harbour’s face stretched into a wide smile. “Because you never let your lot in life define you, and who you wanted to become. You’ve always been your own pony, and between your friends, and that heart of gold, you’re going to march to the beat of your own drum right until the end.”

“I don’t wanna lose you, ma—”

A hoof met Scootaloo’s muzzle. “Your mother is waiting for you, Scootaloo. I did my part, and I will always love you, but I am your mother no more. You won’t lose me, because the largest part of my heart and soul is right here before me. She’s going to return to Ponyville, and is going to mend someone’s heart anew, just as you did for me.”

Scootaloo was silent save for her muffled cries, absorbed by the coat of a mare who had worn her tears for longer than either could remember.

After awhile, Harbour sighed, wearing a look of anguish as she gently pulled from the embrace.

“I’m sorry, but I really need to get some rest. My hooves are tired, and as you saw, even the slightest overdoing it can make them go. Why don’t you three see the city some more, and you can come back for supper?”

“But-” Scootaloo choked, then jumped as she was startled at the slight nip of her feather. Rumble nodded towards the door.

“Go on, Scootaloo.” Harbour smiled. “No sense in your wallowing in this damp little apartment more than you ought to.” With that, she yawned, and with Scootaloo’s very diligent assistance, made it to her bed without a hitch.

Returning to the room, she nearly galloped into Sweetie’s hooves, resting her chin on Sweetie’s shoulder. Some tears were shed but she mostly revelled in the warmth, and possibly the sight of Rumble sprawled out on the sofa like he owned it.

“Rumble?” Scootaloo said after awhile.

“What?” Rumble answered sleepily.

“I love you.” She giggled stupidly as she felt Sweetie Belle flinch.

“Wh… what?” Rumble snorted. “I mean, I uh…”

“Sorry, I just felt like saying it.” Scootaloo smiled.

“What about me?” Sweetie pouted.

“Well, I mean I love you, too, but there’s a difference between a sister and… a… I’m not calling you a stallion.”

“But you just did.”

There was a long pause as Scootaloo furrowed her brow.

“Shut up.”

“Shut up, eh?” Rumble’s eyes grew sinister as he slunked from the couch, and over to the fillies, promptly turning the sisterly embrace into a group hug of immeasurable sappiness.

Scootaloo cherished every second of it.

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