• 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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7. Dither

As Scootaloo closed the front door, the coldness of the night, and the worries of the evening returned to her as swiftly as it had left her. If there was any relief to be found, it was the sight of the small speck of light glowing over the stove in the kitchen.

Scootaloo knew there was food waiting for her, and tonight it appeared to be homemade macaroni and cheese, still lukewarm under its plastic lid. Not bothering to turn on the overhead light, she proceeded to fill a bowl to the brim, and promptly shovel it in her face. Between the food, and the wonderful silence, save for a distant grandfather clock, it was just what she needed right about now.

“So, you came back tonight, after all?”

Scootaloo looked up to see Mrs. Harbour standing in the doorway. Scootaloo nodded wordlessly, still chewing her macaroni, and Mrs. Harbour smiled, then trotted over to the sink to clean up the leftovers. She needed only a passing glance at her foster daughter to know that, while she was, at the moment, satisfied, something had, at some point today, sent the filly into a tailspin. Ten years of living under the same roof lends itself to such intuition.

“Did you have fun?” she asked. “How was the show?”

Mrs. Harbour prided herself on her ability to read body language--and Scootaloo’s was about as transparent as they came. The little filly looked away, tapped lightly on the table, and took a shallow breath. Instantly, Mrs. Harbour’s gaze hardened.

“Scootaloo,” she said firmly, but not unkindly, “what happened?”

Scootaloo sighed; Mrs. Harbour had done it again. She supposed it wasn’t hard to read her--but it still surprised her how good she was at it.

“Well, it’s a long story…” Scootaloo shuffled nervously, the weariness of the night catching up with her, as her mind wandered back through the day's highs, lows, and deep, dark depths. She didn’t bother saying anything, as she could see her foster-mother pouring herself a cup of tea. Clearly, she had time for whatever Scootaloo was going to say.

Mrs. Harbour walked back to the table, pulled out the chair across from her, and slowly lower herself into it. Mrs. Harbour’s expression didn’t lighten at all. If anything, the concern became more apparent.

Scootaloo put down her fork. She needed no invitation to speak.

She slowly began detailing the day's events, from the train station, to arriving in Cloudsdale; the sheer joy of the first few hours, and all the wonderful time she had with Rainbow Dash. Then, her face fell; she told Mrs. Harbour about the Colosseum, about Dash leaving to get them food--and never coming back. It was here that she paused--then continued, slowly, her voice low and thick. She recounted--and thus in a way re-lived--the series of unfortunate events which led to her sitting by a dumpster, weeping to herself. Scootaloo was quite the hardened little filly, but she was a filly nonetheless--being alone in a big city, lost and hungry, was… hard, to say the least.

“...so I just sat at the corner, and hoped that maybe she would come looking for me, I guess.” Scootaloo ended that sentence by wiping her nose with a hoof, followed by a sharp sniffle. “It was really cold, and… a-and nopony asked if something was wrong, or if I was okay... I was scared, Mom.”

Another skill that Mrs. Harbour had acquired over the decades of caring for children was an excellent poker face. She was able to project a sense of attentive calm. Inside however, she was thinking of the many ways she’d like to give that foundering pegasus a piece of her mind. If there was one thing she truly hated, it’s when somepony hurt her little foals.

She wanted to explode--so, instead she asked a question: “How did you get home, then?”

Scootaloo’s face brightened up, for just a moment. “That’s where it gets interesting,” she smiled faintly, “I’ve told you about Rumble before, right?”

Rumble… Mrs. Harbour had to think on that one. Eventually though, she did recall Scootaloo mentioning him at some point. Good enough. “I believe you’ve mentioned him before, yes.”

“Well,” Scootaloo glanced around the clearly-empty kitchen, then leaned forward conspiratorially. “He’s how I got home,” she whispered. “He flew me down here.”

Scootaloo was the only school-age foal Harbour was caring for at the moment, so her knowledge of a able-bodied pegasi was somewhat slim. And yet, she raised an eyebrow: if he colt was around her age--and thus likely her size, too--well, that was quite the feat.

“All by himself, hm?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Scootaloo said with a nod.

Mrs. Harbour leaned forward a little. “He sounds like a sweet young stallion,” she said.

“Y-Yeah, he… He is,” Scootaloo replied, blushing.

“Does he go to your school?” she asked.

“Mmhm. He moved her a few years ago. With his brother.”

“Oh--so you’ve met him before, then?”

“Well…” she shrugged. “...a little.”

“Only ‘a little?’” she asked. “Why have you mentioned his name before, then?” She already knew the answer, of course; she was curious to see if Scootaloo would say it herself.

“Well, I, uh… I… kinda like him,” she admitted, squirming in her seat.“He’s… really cute, and… really cool. I think.”

“And now you’ve realized that for certain, I suppose?” she asked with a smile.

Scootaloo’s sudden, demure little blush reminded her of her own days as a filly--her schoolyard crushes, her high school sweethearts, and her late husband. What she knew as “love” was always a little different each time, but the the butterflies, the evasive expressions--those were a constant.

“I’d say he made a pretty good first impression.” Mrs. Harbour continued, with a little smile. “You thanked him for doing that for you, right?”

“Oh yeah! I did.” Scootaloo nodded, her cheeks practically glowing now as she remembered how she had.

Mrs. Harbour smiled faintly, then breathed a longing sigh as she watched her little Scootaloo swoon.

Mrs. Harbour remained quiet while Scootaloo finished eating, followed her as she walked to the bathroom to brush her teeth.

“I’m… sorry that today went the way it did,” she said, finally. . “But I can’t say I’m surprised, sadly.” She sighed. “But, it sounds like it ended on a high note, at least.”

Scootaloo spat in the sink, then looked up at her. “Yeah,” she said, her smiling fading the slightest bit.

“I’m sorry you were mistreated by that… that brat. I guess she isn’t ready to be a big sister.” She smiled a little. “You deserve better, and hopefully you find somepony who is.”

“I know.” Scootaloo shifted, “I really, really wanted to go back to the way it used to be. But, she let me down and…” She went quiet for a moment. “I really don’t think I’ll ever be able to trust her anymore,” she finished.

“You tried, dear. You really did.” Harbour leaned down and pulled her into a soft embrace. “Don’t waste your time with ponies who treat you that way--life is too short for that. You’re a wonderful filly, and you deserve to be with only wonderful ponies. I think you know that.”

“I do.” Scootaloo answered, choking up slightly,

“I think for now we ought to get some shut-eye.”

Scootaloo nodded, then rinsed her mouth out and plodded off to bed. She snuggled deep under the covers, then pulled them up to her chin. She was a Big Pony now, and hadn’t ever really asked to be tucked in, even as a filly--but tonight, she didn't have to. Mrs. Harbour leaned in and did it anyways, then kissed her gently on the forehead. Scootaloo let out a yawn, and watched Mrs. Harbour trot out her door.

“Goodnight, Scootaloo.” Madame Harbour smiled, “I love you.”

“I love you too, mom.” She waited until Mrs. Harbour closed the door behind her, then heaved a heavy sigh.

She was tired--more tired than she could ever remember--but her brain would not let her sleep just yet.

While she certainly did dwell on the hunger, the humiliation, and the hurt of what was supposed to have been the best night ever, much more of her mind seemed focused on a certain colt, whose unexpected act of kindness certainly made him, for the first time, really stick out in her mind: somepony who seemed to truly care about her.

On the other hoof, however, she wasn’t sure how to handle the Rainbow Dash situation. Obviously, she was furious. She had blown her last chance, and in the most pathetic way possible. Like Rainbow’s last two mistakes, Scootaloo wondered how it could have gone so bad, and why she still bothered to have any faith in her--the self-centered jerk.

The filly smiled as she imagined the storm that would erupt the minute word of this reached her friends, then their sisters, and then…

She giggled darkly. Tomorrow was going to be fun.

Rumble laid in his bed, unable to lull himself to sleep. Usually, he could hear the TV, accompanied by his brothers snoring, through his bedroom door. Normally, this odd ambiance would be more than enough to help him fall asleep. But not tonight--tonight, he was still flustered from what transpired but an hour ago.

If he were to be honest, he had always liked Scootaloo, but nothing much beyond that. She was just some cute filly who hung out with her ‘meh’ friends, and knew some ponies in high places. Now however, he felt something else about her. Something he had never quite felt before. It was beyond his explanation, and certainly well away from his understanding. She had just nuzzled him, she held onto him, pressed herself against him. Only as they parted ways did he screw it all up..

It was weird. Before tonight, talking with any filly like that--well, it would’ve barely been worth a second thought. . Now however, Scootaloo wasn’t just a second thought--she was practically every thought, outside of breathing. Her mane, her cutie mark, and her raspy yet flowering voice still burned in his mind. Try as he might, he couldn’t dismiss her.

And yet, mixed with his thoughts of Scootaloo, was genuine concern. While he wouldn’t consider Scootaloo a friend--just a schoolmate--seeing her tonight, alone, afraid, and abandoned was infuriating. Rumble couldn’t even begin to wrap his mind around how Rainbow Dash, somepony his brother raved about, the mare who the Elements themselves chose as the embodiment of loyalty to friends and country--could just discard her number one fan--her little sister--her friend. Surely had Thunderlane done such a thing to him, the consequences would be far-reaching and fearsome. Three strikes you’re out, and their father would put that stallion in a box and bury it--if Rumble himself didn’t get to him first. You never left family hanging. You never abandoned you kith and kin. Never ever.

Rumble wondered why Scootaloo’s friends let her hang around Rainbow at all. What exactly was the Princess of Friendship good for, if her own fellow element was treating a filly this way and seemingly never faced the consequences for it?

It was funny, really. Steaming over a filly he hardly knew, and events he had no part in.

Why did he care?

Why did it have to be her?

Why was she so cute?

Why did he look forward to seeing her tomorrow?

Why was he still awake?

Rumble knew he could take care of the last one. Settling into his bed, he turned off his bedside lamp, and prepared himself for the long night ahead.

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