• 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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36. Two Feathers of a Bird

“Ya ready, Rumble?!”

“You bet I am!”

“Gonna get your cutie mark!”

“You have no idea how stoked I am!”

“You sure about that?” Button muttered bemusedly as he watched Scootaloo and Rumble psyche each other up, prancing in circles, only stopping for an enthusiastic hoof-bump.

“Wow…” Apple Bloom narrowed her eyes. “I knew Scoots was excited, but what is his deal?”

“You got me.” Button shrugged. “Sure she didn’t slip some saltlick into his sandwich this morning?”

Before either could answer, the pair of perkelated pegasi raced towards the CMC clubhouse.

“Well, you fillies have fun—” Button started before his spin to head home was stopped by the ivory hoof that ruled his universe.

“Hey, you should come, too!” Sweetie squeaked. “It’ll help you think about what you want to do once we get around to helping you find your special talent!”

“I mean…” Button laughed. “I mmm—that’s great, but I… just remembered my mom needs help wi...th… spring cleaning! Yes. Getting a head start on that.”

“It’s buckin’ summer. What spring cleanin’?” Apple Bloom joined Sweetie in giving the nervous colt a deadpan stare. “Also, I think I know what his cutie mark might be.”

“Cuddling?” Sweetie offered, grabbing Button’s hoof as they trotted. “Hugging? Snuggling?” She got ever closer, pulling the poor colt tight as his face tinted red. “Maybe even… smooching?”

Button died. He had no continues left.

Apple Bloom could only chuckle as they headed through town.

By the time they arrived, Scootaloo had gone through the trouble of setting up everything: the podium was out, the thinking spot’s eponymous bulb was hung, wired, and ready for illumination, and of course, a brand new chart was tacked to the wall.

“What took you two so long?” Scootaloo whined. “And where’s Apple Bloom?”

“Applejack needed her real quick.” Sweetie smirked at Scootaloo, who paced impatiently alongside Rumble.

“Bruh.” Button finally deadpanned, catching Rumble’s attention. “Last I checked, you weren’t looking forward to the girls jamming you up about this cutie mark business.”

“Well, yeah.” Rumble grinned sheepishly. “Now that I’m in advanced flight courses, I’m the only blank flank again, and… well, they razz me about it. That,” He turned to Scootaloo before continuing, “and her excitement is stupidly infectious or somethin’.”


Rumble stuck his tongue out before punctuating a turn with a humph. “You’re just jealous I’m gonna get my cutie mark before you!”

“Wha—hoo boy,” Button borderline balked. “Yeah, you’re on somethin’ if you think I’m getting green with envy over here.”

“Pretty sure they don’t make cutie marks for squabblin’ like a married couple,” Apple Bloom commented as she closed the clubhouse door behind her. “Besides, Granny needs some help with pressin’ cider tonight, so we gotta get a move on.”

“What?” Scootaloo dropped her gavel. “Can we help and get some like last year?”

“The more the merrier!” Apple Bloom chuckled.

“Ooh!” Sweetie Belle chirped. “Maybe you two could come!”

“Well….” Apple Bloom suddenly squirmed, ears splayed. “Not sure about the grey goose.”

“I meant the cider, stupid.” Scootaloo glowered. “I learned my lesson grabbing a random glass from mm—” she shuddered. “—Rainbow’s fridge.”

“You what?” Button’s eyes buggered.

“You tell anypony, you die.” Scootaloo drew a hoof across her throat.

“Hey, I thought we were gonna get my cutie mark!~” Rumble went pale as the pitch of his whine made Sweetie Belle jealous.

His pale face than reddened as Button tried and failed to conceal his snickering, which turned into barely contained fits of giggling.

“R-right,” Scootaloo startled. “Cutie mark, cutie mark, cutie mark, yes… we wer—are… definitely talking about that… right now. Right, girls?”

The Crusaders nodded as they huddled.

Finally breaking the huddle, Scootaloo ushered Rumble towards an empty checklist, the others beside them.

“Right, so the first thing we gotta do, is figure out what you like.”

“And you say I don’t pay attention?”

Scootaloo glared at him. “I know, sure, but the Cutie Mark Crusaders don’t.”

Rumble rolled his eyes. “Fine. Uh… I guess I like… uh… flying, food, and fillies.”

“Okay…” Scootaloo started as she jotted his answers down, squinting at the third one for an instant before shaking her head.

Sweetie cleared her throat as Scootaloo stepped aside. “What is your dream, the thing you’d like to do the most?”

“Hmm. I did want to be a Wonderbolt when I grew up, but that kind of… yeah.”

“Still works.” Sweetie Belle added it to the list. “Anything else?”

“Well, I’ve been helping Cee—Cloudchaser make dinner lately, and it’s actually kinda fun.”

Gee, I wonder why that could be? Rumble’s ear flicked in Button’s general direction as his tail whipped side to side, eliciting a snicker.

“So, cooking?” With Rumble’s nod, Sweetie jotted it down. “That makes two: Acrobat, Chef, and?”

“Beats me.” Rumble shrugged. “Really just those two. Been kinda busy lately.” Even with a playful leer, Scootaloo squirmed a little.

“Hey!” Scootaloo whined. “You want your cutie mark or not?”

“Well, that works for now, I reckon.” Apple Bloom stepped between them. “Plenty of things we can try between cookin’ and stunts.”

“Yep!” Scootaloo perked up as the Crusaders plus Rumble came together in a circle, a begrudging Button yanked in as well. “Who’s ready?”

“Yeah!” they all shouted as they bumped hooves together.

“So… what are we gonna do first?” Rumble, a spring in his step, kept up with the gang as they descended the hills of Sweet Apple Acres.

“Gonna see how much a stallion ya are, first.” Apple Bloom sported a smug expression as she led the herd.

“What in Tartarus is that supposed to mean?” Button shared a confused glance with a suddenly less perky Rumble, who watched as the orchards gave way to a pig pen.

“Granny says back when they founded Ponyville, the colts and stallions were the ones wranglin’ the critters and animals.”

“What does this have to do with cooking or stunts?”

“You always talk about that need for speed,” Scootaloo sported a devilish grin. “We’re gonna put it to the test!”

As they approached the gate, they saw it: Amongst the pot-bellied pink pigs was one mean-looking hog, tusks rough, and matty coat to boot.

“We call him Mean Hog.”

“How creative.”

“Usually I gotta get him to his pen, else he’ll eat all the feed before the other piggies can get any!”

“Oh no!” Rumble’s feigned concern was tangible.

“Yeah, well I left my wranglin’ rope in the barn, so I figure the next best thing would be this little speedster here.”

“You’re… making me do your chores, aren’t you?”

“Want your cutie mark or not?”

Rumble sighed as they opened the gate and entered. They watched as the tusked hog shoved other pigs aside and gorged messily.

“Wow, he’s actually kind of a dick,” Rumble muttered.

Takes one to know one.

“Hrm?” Rumble whipped around, eyebrow raised as Button suddenly showed interest in whistling and looking away.

Just before Scootaloo could so much as speak, the squealing pig barreled by within a hoof’s reach, and Rumble quickly broke into a gallop.

“C’mere you little—” Rumble blinked as his little hooves kept him just out of reach. His eyes lit up, then furrowed into a glare as he launched into the air, grazing the hog as he sped for a fencepost.

Flipping on a dime, his wings folded, he launched off the post, the pig in his grip before it could turn to run. Rumble turned again, slamming into the ground, the hog still squirming in his hooves as the dust settled.

“Flashy, but I’ll allow it.” Apple Bloom chuckled as she helped Rumble to his hooves; the hog tied, she led it into the pen.

“Damn, Rumble, that was pretty sick.” Button hoof-bumped the tuckered turkey as he trotted back into the yard.

“Clipped a couple pinons, though,” Rumble muttered.

“Your… what?” Sweetie cocked her head.

“He’s been using fancy words like that ever since he started big boy flight school,” Button droned.

“You’re just jealous I went from junior to semi-pro in less time it takes you to drop a shit.” Rumble dared a cocky grin as his hen tended to his flight feathers.

Before Button could retort, Sweetie nuzzled him, giving him a hard look when their eyes met.

“Oh, uh… Scoots?” Rumble glanced beside him, waiting for Scootaloo to raise her head. “We have our first qualifying race this weekend. It’s not anything… like, important or whatever, but, y’know…” His gaze lowered a little as his cheeks flustered. “It’d be kindacoolifyoucamewithme… um… I guess. I-if you want.”

“Hmmm,” Scootaloo purred as she edged her snout so close to his ears she could feel their heat. “May-be.”

“Sorry that took so l—” Apple Bloom stopped as she glanced to Scootaloo, who quickly shrank back and pawed the ground. “We, uh… ready to go?”

“I dunno, they might need a minute or two to boost their egos.”

“Nah.” Rumble’s ears stood with his fur as he approached Button with a menacing gait. “Gimme ten seconds to put this pinhead in the dirt, and we’ll get going.”

Colts,” Sweetie Belle groaned, as she dragged Button alongside her. “Let’s. Go! We told Zecora we’d be there already!”

“Zecora?” Rumble asked as he caught up to Scootaloo.

“Well, she did say she could use some help today, and we told her you’d be perfect for the job!”

Button suddenly stopped as the Everfree Forest came into view. “Isn’t she like, a witch or something?”

“Yeah.” Rumble nodded. “You trying to kill us?”

“Seriously?” Apple Bloom stomped. “I thought ponies stopped believin’ that crud ages ago!”

Both colts shrugged, but nonetheless followed the Crusaders to the edge of the forest.

Scootaloo was about to step under the endless canopy of spooky trees when a gray hoof stopped her.

“Not on my watch,” Rumble said about as assertively as he could manage, gazing into the forest as if it were the cave of a ferocious beast.

“Uh, weren’t you two just goin’ on about how spooky it is?” Apple Bloom’s eyebrow nearly reached the treetops.

Not wanting to feel left out, Button cleared his throat and timidly edged in front of Sweetie Belle, who rolled her eyes.

“You don’t even know where her cottage is!” Scootaloo stomped.

“My brother told me there’s timberwolves and manticores ‘round here,” Rumble said, ears splayed. “If we’re goin’ in, we go first.”

“Ugh, whatever,” Scootaloo groaned, pushing Rumble forward. “Go, then!”

Rumble, carried by hooves and nerves of aluminum, trotted ahead, into the forest; Button followed beside him.

For a moment, the group was quiet as distant birds cawed, and the colts glanced at the treetops, broken by sunlight, branches, and occasional shadows sweeping by.

Apple Bloom cleared her throat.

“You, uh… know where you’re goin’?”

“Nope,” Button replied curtly, keeping up with Rumble who hopped, hurled, and halved branches in his warpath.

“Be careful!” Sweetie complained. “Some birds nest down there!”

“Gotcha, Fluttershy.” Rumble tutted, his tail swish intensifying with his bravado.

“So, where’s this witch’s hut at?” Button quipped. “I’m craving some gingerbread.”

“Maybe some gumdrops and chocolate,” Rumble added with a snicker.

“For the gazillionth time, she ain’t a witch!” Apple Bloom strained. “Also you definitely ain’t gettin’ a navigatin’ cutie mark. Zecora’s place is over there.”

“What’s that?” Button pointed towards a distant mound, just out of sight enough to be mysterious.

“Probably what we’re lookin’ for,” Rumble scoffed. “Race ya.”

“Clipped,” Button stipulated.

“Pssh.” Rumble strutted haughty as Button rolled his eyes. “You act like that’s a handicap.”

Button glanced back at Scootaloo, who was undoubtably plotting murder.

“Race or not, you better get runnin’ before she does.”

“Yep!” With that, Rumble and Button took off, kicking up bark, leaves, and dirt behind them. The distant holler of the Crusaders was no concern as they jostled one another into trees and the ground, leapfrogged the other, anything to edge their position.

By the time they reached what was to their dismay, an anthill, they plopped onto the forest floor.

“I totally won, and you know it.” Rumble panted, sweat dripping to the forest floor.

“As if,” Button huffed, out of breath. “I… I win.”

“You’re both losers.” Scootaloo propped herself on a tree as she rounded into view, wiping sweat from her brow. “Also, Button, you lost your hat.”

“Wait, what?” Button startled as he ran his hoof through his mane. “Uh-oh.”

“Probably fell.” Rumble shrugged. “We’ll find it on the way back.”

“Finally!” Scootaloo groaned. “C’mon! The other two are waiting at Zecora’s hut!”

“Jeez, Button.” Rumble chuckled as they carefully retraced their route. “Lost your hat, and your filly-friend.”

“We’re n—” Button grumbled with a pout, his hoof rubbing his frazzled mane. “It’s fine.”

“You say that…” Rumble’s remark was cut short as he wrinkled his nose. “Whoa, Scoots, are you crop dusting up there, or—hey Button, I think I fou—”

Rumble’s fur stood as an unmistakable scream tore him from his search.


Just as he said her name, she sped past a clearing, two gnashing, four-legged beasts giving chase.

Both colts broke into a mad sprint, following Scootaloo’s trail as the wooden wolves kept close behind her.

Rumble went airborne as he looked and listened for any sign of Scootaloo. But, as the canyon of trees blurred past, not a speck of orange was in sight.

“Over here!” Scootaloo shouted, galloping for dear life as the beasts closed in. Just as they were set to clamp down on her tail, she was scooped up and airborne.

Rumble held her by the barrel as he flew, the timberwolves keeping pace on the ground below. Just as she was about to turn and clamber onto him, she was sent sailing through the forest.

Scootaloo screamed as the world rushed by, her stomach heaving. Moments later, she plopped upon somepony else, their gallop causing her to bounce erratically as she clung on.

It was only as her vision settled that she saw the sunset mane.

“He’s an idiot, you know that?” Button huffed as they barreled back to safety.

Sharp yelps and whimpers caused Scootaloo to glance back. Her face went pale as Rumble managed to duck and weave their pounces, going airborne as they surged towards him.

One by one, he would suddenly pitch left or right, each unlucky pounce in pursuit would send them crashing into a tree. They tumbled back into scattered twigs and foliage on the ground, shaking their heads wildly.

“That’s not gonna work!” Scootaloo shrieked.

A loud roar and a horrendous odor tore through the forest. Button pushed as fast as his little hooves could carry them.

Looking back again, she saw a towering timberwolf, eyes aglow; Rumble was nowhere to be seen as it let out a ferocious roar, sights set square on her.

Just as it leapt mid-stride, it was enveloped in a dust devil and spun like a top; a brilliant flash of lightning had it burst into flaming pieces, which fell to the ground and smoldered.

“How about that?”

Scootaloo craned her neck up as Rumble flew above, mane frazzled, fur matted, laying upon a cloud; he gave a cocky grin that was totally infectious.

Scootaloo giggled. “What’d she say? ‘Flashy, but I’ll allow it.’”

“How merciful.” Rumble rolled his eyes as he descended into the clearing ahead where Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle waited.

“Could’a avoided all that hassle if you two dimwits just listened to begin with,” Apple Bloom muttered. “Havin’ fun, goose?”

“That’s one word for it.” Rumble cleared his throat, Scootaloo dismounting Button and joining him.

“No Timberwolf taming cutie mark?”

Rumble rolled his eyes. “Nothin’ for whipping up a storm, either.” He shrugged. “Oh well.”

“Bro, you do that every day; we already know that isn’t it.” Button thumped his friend on the head as they followed the Crusaders towards a large tree adorned with a door; colored gourds hung from vines wound along the branches.

Apple Bloom knocked thrice, Scootaloo snorting as Rumble’s fur stood on end.

“Not so cocky now, are ya?” Apple Bloom waggled her eyebrows as she led them to the door.

“Shut up,” Button muttered.

“Zecora! It’s me, Apple Bloom!”

"Ah! Scootaloo, Apple Bloom, and Sweetie Belle. And I see you've brought colt friends as well!"

Scootaloo’s face burned hotter than the cauldron within the tree. “Wh—gross, no!”

Zecora smiled as she shook her head. "Quite the look is on your face. Between 'colt' and 'friends' there is a space!"

Scootaloo spun around as she realized the zebra was far from wrong. Rumble and Button both stood several paces back, plenty of space to high-tail it at a moment’s notice.

“Amazing.” Scootaloo deadpanned as she grabbed Rumble’s hoof. “You go from defender to dodo at the drop of a bit. Come. On!”

Both colts yelped as the door clicked shut, Button trotting further inside before Sweetie could magically drag him. Between the rattle of masks upon the wall, and the bubbling soup in the steaming pot, both looked about with wide eyes.

After a moment, Scootaloo cleared her throat. “We’re trying to help this one get his cutie mark, and since he likes cooking, we couldn’t think of any… zebra better!”

“Helping a friend along is always fine. I’m sure we’ll conjure his cutie mark in no time!”

“Perfect!” Scootaloo forced a smile as she strained to push the colt towards the other end of the cauldron opposite Zecora.

“My boy, there is no need for such fear. You are safe from harm, with ponies most dear.”

Still uncertain the soup steaming before him didn’t call for gray plumage, his fear shifted to skepticism.

“What... exactly are we making?”

“Ooh! Ooh!” Apple Bloom squealed. “Looks like—”

“Ah, ah, ah,” Zecora chuckled. “Let him learn this in his own way, or he surely will be here all day."

“Was just tryin’ to help,” Apple Bloom pouted, as she watched petrified poultry ponder the perils of the porridge.

“Now, young stallion, for your first brew, you assemble your ingredients, much like a stew.”

Rumble suddenly found a scroll at his hooves. He unrolled it to reveal barely legible Ponish, with which alien terms and tonics were listed, seemingly in sequence.

“The jars and pots here should have what you need; now I must gather one more thing for you to succeed,” Zecora said as she opened the door. “Do not begin until I return, for I do not wish for my hut to burn.”

Rumble watched her go, his attention turning back to the cauldron and the steaming, soupy brew within.

His head whipped around as Apple Bloom swiped the scroll from him, and began to read it.

“Hey!” Rumble whined. “Remember? She said I gotta do it!”

“Not like you wanna.”

“‘Kay, but if I have to make some witch’s brew, then I’m gonna do it myself. Whose cutie mark is this supposed to be?”

“He does have a point,” Scootaloo offered. “But, I guess Apple Bloom can at least help. She’s made all sorts of potions with Zecora!”

“So I got to do her chores, get chased by timberwolves, and now I’m sitting in front of a simmering pot in some freaky zebra hut; you three wanna tell me what this has to do with my special talents?” Rumble saved an extra special glare for Scootaloo, who winced for only a moment.

“Ooh, what’s that?” Button craned his neck to see a fluorescent vile of a sludgy, purple substance, approaching the cauldron and twisting off the top with a satisfying pop.

“Button Mash, ya loon! Don’t go messin’ with her stuff!” Apple Bloom stomped a hoof. “Girls, stop him!”

“What does it smell like?” Scootaloo asked.

Button took a generous whiff and recoiled, almost dropping the bottle. “Whoa! Makes your morning breath smell like friggin’ roses.”

“That good, huh?” Scootaloo stepped back as Button casually tossed the tonic, clumsily catching it. “No way, that’s nasty!” Scootaloo giggled as she bounced over to the cauldron. “I wonder what it does?”

“How about we wait like she told us to?” Rumble grumbled.

“How ‘bout this?” Button had saddled an even more peculiarly pigmented pickle jar.

“Do eet!” Scootaloo egged him on as the bubbly ooze was poured in, the soup now resembling a slushy, albeit glowing green.

Button reached for a large ladle and, with a menacing face, stirred the pot; a vicious swirl formed, almost hypnotic. He dipped in a large bottle and pulled out a frothing something-or-other, and chugged it.

“Are you a bona fide fool?” Apple Bloom shrieked as Button wiped his snout.

“Aw, stop it.” Button waved a hoof as he burped. “Ain’t doin’—”

No sooner did his eyes go wide that wings poofed into existence.

“Holy. Shit!” Button’s wings flapped erratically. “I have fuckin’ wings!”

“And I’m still a blank flank,” Rumble growled.

With a look of determination, Button shot up, only to smack his head into the ceiling. “Okay no, hold on. I’ve seen you do this shit like a billion times. Isn’t it just—”

This time, he maintained a hover, only to fling himself back into a shelf. Apple Bloom raced over and caught the falling vials.

“Right, so what I do is—” Up he went, then up, down, down, left, right, left, right—

“Scootaloo!” Apple Bloom shrieked as Scootaloo finished off what remained of Button’s vial. She whirred around to chase Button Mash, who now flapped and ricocheted across the room into shelves; a cascade of vials, masks, and trinkets were barely caught as she trailed him.

“Ugh,” Sweetie groaned as her horn began to glow, and Button as well. “Sorry, Rumble.”

Just as she finished her sentence, a magenta aura enveloped her, lifting her into the air erratically.

She looked to an irritated Rumble, who watched the chaos with a level of excitement that would make Maud Pie look eccentric.

“Sorry!” Scootaloo shrieked as her horn sparked and shot magical beams every which-way, before a particularly large one blasted a gaping hole into the side of the hut.

“Uh…” Rumble massaged his forehead. “You gonna fix that?”

Diving out of the way of a Button missile, Rumble looked back to see smoke and flames as the now hole-y hut began to burn. Getting to his hooves a little too casually, he stomped out of the hut, looked towards the sky, and took to it.

“Second time today, huh?” Rumble muttered as soon as another cloud rumbled under his hooves, this time producing a downpour which doused the smoldering opening below. Job done well enough, he sighed, fluttered back to the ground, and trotted back inside.

“Alright, so how about we go—” Rumble was cut off as he dodged a purple blast of magic, one of the bouncing beams splashing into the cauldron, causing it to boil and tremble.

Led by Apple Bloom, the five scampered out of the hut, through the woods, and somehow back to town in a blink and a blur. While they didn’t hear a terrific ‘boom’, they had no interest in wandering back.

Scootaloo finally caught her breath, only to see Rumble had already trotted off towards town.

“Rumble, wait!” Scootaloo called after him as she broke into a gallop. “We haven’t tried Sugarcube Corner yet!”

“That’s okay,” Rumble said without stopping. “We’re not gonna.”

“But you—”

Scootaloo froze as Rumble turned, his ire murderous with body language to match.

“I said no!” Rumble barked, his voice somewhat coarse. “I’m going home!”

Undeterred, Scootaloo tried putting a smile on as she trotted in front of him. “Aww, but, we gotta—”

“No!” Rumble growled before trying to take off. Scootaloo leapt onto his back.

“Please, Rumble! I know the last two didn’t go so—!”

“Get! Off!” Rumble’s voice was strained as he reared, sending Scootaloo for a tumble in the grass.

Lying there, face marked with disbelief and confusion, Scootaloo glanced over to see Rumble, not showing the slightest concern as he stomped the grass.

“How many times do I have to tell you ‘no’ before you get it?!” Rumble screamed. “I don’t want my cutie mark, I don’t need my cutie mark! I’m done! Got it?”

Scootaloo felt herself tremble, staring into those wide, angry eyes. Ears splayed, fur raised, and fury certain, Rumble was more terrifying now than any Timberwolf could ever be.

“Okay, okay, we’ll stop, we’re done.” Scootaloo whimpered as she lay there.

Blowing off some steam, Rumble stepped back, bucking a tree with force that made Apple Bloom startle.

Finally, he took off into the sky, not looking back.

Author's Note:

There it is. A year in the making. :facehoof:

Here's to hoping I can unstick that procrastination button, and get us to the finish before too long. I live for feedback, so don't hesitate to use those comment thingamajigs below.

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