• 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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8. Date

Today was a school day, and that meant sitting in class─the back of the class, in the case of Scootaloo. It meant listening to Miss Cheerilee drone on about something or rather, get some assembly-line worksheet, cross her ‘t’s, dot her ‘i’s, turn it in, and then impatiently wait for recess; rinse and repeat.

Her usual disinterested routine had a slight hiccup, though: what normally would have been the same old panorama of foals, flanks fixed to their chairs, was now slightly more interesting… or at least, one part of it--over in the opposite corner front row, end column. There he was, weaving between attentive, and absent-minded; work time spent mostly chatting it up with some nearby colts. Sometimes, he would glance over his shoulder at her, sometimes even flash that beautiful little smile of his--but he never held his gaze long enough for her to reciprocate.

For Scootaloo, it was enough, though. Him noticing her was more than enough.

Suddenly, the bell for recess rang, and Scootaloo grinned. She had a plan.

She grabbed her paper-bag lunch, then marched right past Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle, head held high. The two of them stared after her, as she made her way, not towards the shade of their own special tree, but--

“Towards the colts?” Apple Bloom gasped.

Sweetie Belle squinted. “I wonder what she’s up to?”

“Should we follow her?” Apple Bloom asked.

“No,” Sweetie Belle shrugged. “Let’s just see what happens.”

Scootaloo kept her head high--even as she wanted to turn and run. One hoof in front of the other, alternating strides between the fore and the hind; it was simple enough, quite literally a born skill, yet for whatever reason, Scootaloo felt the need to repeat those instructions in her head. She wasn’t nervous, no, not at all.

The motley crew which assembled itself around that picnic table─most of whom she knew by sight, rather than by name─were the problem. She couldn’t judge how they’d react, what they would do. Well, that wasn’t quite true: she knew one of them, but only because her best friend had a thing for him─the propeller-capped one, if she remembered right.

That wasn’t the target of her increasingly fake-confident advance though: it was the one whose back was facing her, third from the left, his slicked-back mane as beautif--awesome as ever. She could not only see his gray coat, but she could feel it, too. Flashes of memory from clinging ever-so-tightly to that same coat, on that same stallion-in-training.

Colt. He was a colt.

He had a beautiful smile.

Oh goddess, he sees me.

The two of them stared at each other, both seeming slightly curious as to why the other was there. Scootaloo stood a few yards away, looking straight at him. Rumble felt many things: the usual symptoms which arose upon her entering his line of sight, seemingly worsened thanks to the night before. He could’ve sworn his brother said things got easier. Nothing was. His heart was aflutter, his eyes were screaming to look away, and the snickers and “Ooh”s of his posse were doing everything to ratchet his nerves to new heights.

“H-Hey... “ He choked out a weak smile and an even wimpier wave. “What’s up?”

Now I have to say something… Scootaloo froze, smirks and curious eyes in the edge of her vision--none of which helped any.

“Nothin’...” she said, finally. Scootaloo brushed a hoof along the grass, her gaze darting every which way but ahead. “I was just, uh… Well, I just wanted to--you know--thank you for, uh… for last night, and--”

“Bwuah?!” A chorus of bewilderment caused them both the flinch.

“What did you two do?” Button Mash asked, ribbing Rumble, “Got yourself some cooties, eh!”

“N-No…” Rumble objected meekly, not daring take his eyes off that beautiful filly.

She’s so cute when she gets all flustered, he thought.

He’s so cute when he gets all flustered, she thought.

“Little Rumble had a filly up in the clouds?” Featherweight grinned stupidly.

“No!” Rumble swatted a hoof at him.

“What is she talking about, then?” asked a colt Scootaloo did not recognize.

Now, Rumble looked away with a speed that made Scootaloo sick to her stomach.

“I don’t know,” he said.

“Fillies are weird, dude,” another unidentified colt quipped. A chorus of laughter sounded as the colts turned back to their lunch.

Had Rumble not turned away, had he been facing her, he would’ve seen her eyes fog, the slight tremor of her lip, suppressing a whimper, the speed with which she galloped back to the safety of her friends.

Stupid, stupid, STUPID. Colts are stupid.

It was a phrase that she and her friends had come up with some time ago. An indirect promise to never get entangled in the mushy business of stupid, bumbling colts.

Colts are stupid.

Everything was a blur: running back to the tree, being pulled in for a hug by her friends, them asking what had happened, followed by determinations to kick his flank at the nearest opportunity--all of it ran together in a blur of sight, sound, and feeling. But still, she heard nothing except that phrase:

Stupid. He’s stupid.

Colts are stupid.

… So am I, she thought. I’m stupid.

Stupid for believing that she could find somepony who wouldn’t hang her out the dry the minute she felt friendship--or maybe even love. If Rainbow Dash had taught her anything, she was stupid. Stupid enough to think that ponies were kind, caring, or worth her time.

She shivered. Everything hurt.

The sandwich in her lunch tasted like ash.

His fur had pricked her skin like pine needles.

His words of the night before rang hollow and meaningless in her ears.

And then, one of her friends stood. She looked up.

Apple Bloom was on her hooves now. She was staring face to face with a cowering Rumble..

“You have some nerve comin’ over here after what ya just did!” Apple Bloom hissed. Rumble winced. “Why, I oughta--”

“Yeah! Get lost, jerk!” Sweetie Belle spat, pawing the ground eagerly. Any excuse to give this colt what was coming to him.

He didn’t seem to look at them, though. His eyes seem fixed on a different filly.

Scootaloo didn’t say a thing. Instead, she stood, gently pushed Sweetie Belle away, and stepped beside Apple Bloom.

“Get ‘em, Scoots!” Apple Bloom grinned devilishly. “Show ‘em who's boss!”

While her two friends frothed for a fight, and the distant colts looked on in bewilderment, Scootaloo’s eyes cleared, and she saw his face. His soft, apologetic face.

“Scootaloo... “ He began, just as weak as before.

“What?” Apple Bloom interjected.

Rumble didn’t flinch. “I... I was… wondering... if…”

Memories from the night before flashed back before him, a hurt filly who needed a friend, a smile whose radiance was unrivaled, and a beautiful foal who meant more to him than anypony ever had before.

“I was wondering if… if maybe you wanted to hang out sometime…” He swallowed. Just the two of us, he added mentally.

She could’ve swore she saw the faintest of smiles form on his face.

She loved that smile.

Those tater tots tasted good.

His fur had felt like silk.

His words were real, and he meant what he said.

“I’d love to,” Scootaloo said with a nervous smile as her friends gasped beside her.

Rumble’s eyes lit up. “Really?”

“T-Totally…” Scootaloo said, pawing the ground, “I... kind of owe you, anyway.”

Apple Bloom tilted her head. “Fer what?”

Rumble and Scootaloo stole a glance at each other--both remembering their flight home--but said nothing..

“Cool.” Rumble said after a pause. “So… I’ll just see you…”

“Tonight,” Scootaloo said firmly.

“Huh?” Rumble replied, somewhat confused.

“Tonight,” she repeated, “at seven. That works for you, right?”

Rumble hesitated, then nodded lightly. “Okay,” he said.

“Okay,” Scootaloo repeated, her smile getting a little wider.

“What’s… goin’ on, here?” Apple Bloom craned into the Scootaloo’s view. Scootaloo turned to give her a questioning look--and, as soon as she looked away, Rumble’s nerves failed him. He turned, and galloped away, back to his circle of friends. Sweetie watched him go, brow furrowed.

Sweetie Belle and Applebloom looked at each other--and Scootaloo watched the realization dawn across both of their faces. She grimaced and braced herself.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” The two crusaders gushed. “Scootsie’s got a colt-friend!~”

“I do not!”

Yet.


The next four hours were downright painful for the two foals--who, on top of being tormented by the tortoise pace of time, were scrambling to figure out what to do tonight. They had agreed to hang out after school, but beyond that, they both desperately scrambled to figure out what to actually do.

I guess i’m the one who asked her out… Rumble thought as he stared blankly at his untouched math assignment. Maybe Button Mash will let me bring her with me tonight? What if she doesn’t like video games, though?

He stole a backward glance as Miss Cheerilee was writing something on the board, and saw her facing towards the window, seemingly lost in her own thoughts. Rumble felt that same strange warmth that swept through his being every time he so much as looked at her. Maybe she’s never played one before? he thought nervously.

As Rumble turned to face forwards again, Scootaloo faced forward as well, her eyes drawn to the back of his navy-blue mane. He did such a nice thing for me… she thought. I need to find a way to really pay him back… Oh! Maybe we could go to Sugarcube CornerNah, everypony does that! Ooh! Maybe I could show him our clubhouse! Yeah! That could be fun… right? Or would that

A light tap on the shoulder caught her by surprise.

“Thinkin’ ‘bout somepony?” Apple Bloom said teasingly.,

“Whatever, Apple Bloom.” Scootaloo sighed. She was quiet for a long moment. “Do you… think it’d be alright, if I—I mean, if we showed him our clubhouse?”

Apple Bloom’s eyes glittered. “I knew it!” she whispered with a smirk.

“Why would you do that?” Sweetie Belle piped up, “My sister always says that when you want to woo a stallion, ya gotta think big, like, dinner and a movie, or something.”

Scootaloo pouted. “I was trying to be original. And this isn’t a date,” she added quickly. “And I’m not trying to woo him. We’re just friends!”

“Well, there’s a reason everypony does those things—” Apple Bloom smiled, “They work.

“I guess.” Scootaloo returned her view to the outside. “I just feel like I need to do something just as special as what he did for me… and some lame movie just wouldn’t work.”

Sweetie Belle frowned. “What… did he do, anyway?”

“Yeah,” Apple Bloom butted in. “Ya haven’t said a thing about it, other than you ‘owe him somethin'.’”

Scootaloo opened her mouth—then closed it again. “It’s--It’s not important,” she said.

Sweetie suddenly brightened. “Did he kiss you?” she blurted eagerly.

“No!” Scootaloo said, aghast.

“Did he take ya out to a fancy restaurant in Cloudsdale?” Apple Bloom ventured.

“No,” she replied.

“Oh!” Sweetie Belle clopped her hooves together. “Did he rescue you, as you were falling from Cloudsdale towards certain doom?”

“...No?” she said, cocking her head. “None of those things. Look—I just need some cool ideas. F-for a thing.”

“We’ve been tryin’ that, Scoots.” Apple Bloom frowned, “Doesn’t seem like any of them are workin’ for ya.”

“It’s not that!” Scootaloo insisted, “It’s just…” she fell quiet and looked out the window.

It’s just that I want it to be awesome.


2:59, and Scootaloo still had no idea what she wanted to do. She had waffled between going bungee-jumping, white-water rafting, and teaching him how to use a scooter— though none of it sounded practical, nor worthy of the debt she owed. As she stood by the school’s flagpole waiting for Rumble, she tried to wring a fresh idea out of her noggin, but once again, she came up dry.

Then, Rumble stepped out of the schoolhouse, Featherweight and Button Mash, right behind him, deep in conversation. And, right in the middle of frantic thoughts of where to find a parachute, her brain suddenly went phhhhhhbt. As the trio came closer, she heard what they were talking about

“... I dunno, dude,” Button Mash said, wincing, “my mom not like us having a filly up in my room… And would she even wanna hang out with us, anyways?”

Rumbled blinked, “I can just ask real quick,” he said. He then trot to Scootaloo with a slight smile on his face, his tail swishing freely, and his tongue-tied demeanor from earlier seemingly past.

“Oh--hey Rumble.” Scootaloo’s eyes evasive once again.

“Hey… Scootaloo.” Rumble laughed nervously as his smile faded slightly, “I was wondering if…”

Without warning, Button Mash shouldered his way past him. “Rumble’s stayin’ at my house tonight,” he said with a smirk. “Afraid of bein’ alone in that big ol’ house or something.”

Rumble snarled and slugged his arm, but Button ignored him. “We were just gonna play video games and watch movies until my mom makes us turn it off,” he said. He smirked wider, then turned to glance at Rumble. “And lover boy here wants to know if you wanna come.”

Rumble’s mouth dropped open--as did Sweetie Belle’s and Apple Bloom’s. Scootaloo swallowed, then turned to Rumble with a question in her eyes.

Rumble nodded, feeling his cheeks begin to burn. “Y-yeah,” he said. “I mean--Unless you have something planned already, or…?”

Scootaloo glanced between Rumble and Button. “Are you sure?” she asked. “I mean, if you had plans already, w-we can just hang out some other time.”

“We don’t mind,” cut in Button Mash again. Rumble looked away and muttered a curse.

Scootaloo glanced between them again--then nodded.

“Sounds fun,” she said. “Just let me get my scooter, and we can go.”

“Awesome!” Rumble smiled brightly, then turned and trotted to the waiting Featherweight. Button Mash rolled his eyes and followed. Scootaloo watched him excitedly discussing plans with Featherweight--then turn and flash her a smile.

Scootaloo sighed. She loved that smile. While she had really hoped to spend some time alone with him, it was convenient, at least, that he already had something planned. As she unlocked her scooter from the bike rack, she could see Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle in the corner of her eye, watching her with dumbfounded looks on their faces.

She didn’t board the scooter, nor did she strap on her helmet. Instead, she walked it back to where the three colts stood waiting. It felt somewhat awkward, having to drag the scooter along with her, especially when Rumble and that other pegasus colt could fly-- but she sure wasn’t going to leave it here.

“You wanna take that home real quick?” Rumble pointed to the scooter, “I mean, his house isn’t too far from here. We’re not in a huge rush or anything.”

“You nervous, Casanova?” Button Mash said, elbowing him. Rumble growled and swung, but Button ducked. “Seriously, though,” he said to Scootaloo, “I gotta go get some candy and stuff, so you got time." He hesitated. “You’re not allergic to peanuts, are you?” he asked.

That question was pleasantly familiar. “No,” Scootaloo said with a blush. “I don’t have any allergies, I think.”

“That’s good.” Rumble smiled, “One time we had Featherweight’s cousin over for a scary-movie marathon, and he was allergic to… what was it?”

“Milk,” Rumble piped up.

“Yeah, milk--and well, Featherbrain here slipped and spilled a bunch on him.” Button Mash shook his head. “Poor foal swelled up and got funny bumps all over him. Looked just like a pickle.”

“It was an accident,” Featherbrain moaned.

“Didn’t mean it wasn’t funny,” Button snickered.

Featherweight blushed, and Rumble cracked a smile, though Scootaloo simply nodded.

Button Mash glanced over at Scootaloo and Rumble. “Come on, Featherweight,” he said, “let’s let these two lovebirds some alone time.” The two colts sniggered as they trotted towards town.

Scootaloo’s gaze followed them for a bit, unsure of what to make of them so far. They certainly didn’t seem malicious.

“Don’t worry,” Rumble sighed. “they’ll tease you--and me--but they aren’t mean or anything.” Rumble began a slow trot, and Scootaloo fell into step beside him.

“You guys hang out a lot, it sounds like,” Scootaloo said.

“We do.” Rumble glanced after his friends. “They let me hang out with them at recess when I first moved here. Along with First Base, they’re pretty much my guys, y’know? Kinda like you and. uh... Apple-whatever, and Cinnabon.”

Scootaloo’s eyes narrowed. “Um… Rumble, it’s Apple Bloom, and Sweetie Belle.” She scoffed. “How do you not know their names? Seriously? We’ve been in the same class for, like, forever.

Rumble’s looked away, “I’m sorry,” he said. “I-it’s not like we hang out or anything, though--you girls just kinda do your own thing. I only know yours because…”

He swallowed. Because I wanted to know your name.

“No worries.” Scootaloo said, grinning, as the two turned onto her street. “To be honest, I didn’t know your friends’ names either. Well, I know Button Mash,” she admitted, “but that’s only because Sweetie likes him.”

Rumble looked over at her with an eyebrow raised. “Sweetie Belle? The little white unicorn?”

Scootaloo nodded.

“And she likes Button Mash?”

Scootaloo paused, but nodded again.

Rumble chuckled to himself as he looked forward again. “Two can play that game, Button,” he muttered. He thought for a moment, then turned back to Scootaloo. “Wait--you don’t know Featherweight?

Scootaloo bit her lip. She did. Both he and Rumble were there for some of their practice. She hoped to Celestia that it was before Diamond Tiara had spun her into her “fly-or-die” mentality. She would hate for them to have seen her like that....

And then something clicked.

“Now that you mention it, I do remember him,” she said. “He’s the editor of the Foal Free Press, isn’t he?.

“Yup.” Rumble nodded. “He likes taking pictures of…” he shrugged. “...lots of things. He says he wants to be a photographer when he grows up.”

“That makes sense, I guess,” she said.

By now, they had made it to her house. Scootaloo re-locked her scooter to the mailbox, then stuffed her helmet into her saddlebags. She turned--then saw Rumble staring at the old house.

He nodded appreciatively. “You live in a pretty big house.” Rumble said, looking over at her. “You must have a huge bedroom.”

“I wish,” Scootaloo chuckled. “My foster mom runs a daycare, so that’s what most of it’s for. It’s just me and two colts that live here full-time.” Scootaloo looked away, suddenly shy. “They, uh… they don’t go to our school. They’re, uh… they’re really sweet, but they’re a bit…” she swallowed. “...touched.”

Rumble nodded faintly.. “Oh,” he said, unsure of what else to say. Suddenly, his brow furrowed, and he looked over at her again. “Wait, you’re a foster filly?” he asked, incredulous.

“Sure am,” Scootaloo said with a nod as they began trotting again. “Mrs. Harbour says the social worker just kinda dropped me off after I was born. Never met my parents.”

Suddenly, Rumble’s mind flashed back to that night in Cloudsdale, to the sight of her sitting, weeping, all alone on the street corner. The memory sparked something inside him--some sort of smoldering rage, mixed with a deep, nameless sadness. He had no idea what that kind of betrayal felt like--abandoned by your own parents, abandoned by the only pony you looked up to in the word, abandoned by everybody.

His rage simmered inside of him until he realized, very suddenly, that Scootaloo was speaking to him. He swallowed it down, then turned to look at her. “Sorry?” he said.

Scootaloo rolled her eyes. “I said,” she repeated, “what kind of candy does Button Mash usually get? Mrs. Harbour can’t eat sugar, so we don’t get much.”

“Oh he gets everything.” Rumble said quickly. “Skittles, Luna Bars, Flutter Butters... You want it, he’s probably got it.”

“Even…” she swallowed nervously. “...Starswirls?”

“He’d better.” Rumble grinned wider. “I love those things.”

“No way, me too!” Scootaloo squealed--then cleared her throat and looked away. Play it cool, Scoots, she told herself.

Button’s house was nothing special--one-and-a-half stories tall, half-timber construction, identical to nearly every house on the street.

Rumble tapped on the door, and, not five seconds later, a tan-coated mane answered the door, then smiled broadly.“Rumble!” Button’s mom cried, “So nice to see you again! …and who’s this?” She turned to smile at Scootaloo, who could only return a stupid grin.

“M-My name’s Scootaloo,” she stammered, taking the mares’ offered hoof and shaking it weakly.

“Well, you two make an adorable couple!” the mare cooed, causing both Rumble and Scootaloo to blush a brilliant shade of red. Button’s mom laughed, then nodded over her shoulder, deeper into the house.

“Button’s and Feather are already in his room,” she said, stepping aside to let the two in. “They brought home quite the haul.” As they walked past her, she turned after them. “Oh!” she said, suddenly, “Little miss--you’re not by chance allergic to peanuts, are you?”

“No, ma’am.” Scootaloo said with a meek little smile.

“Good.” Button’s mom clopped her hooves together. “Well, you two have fun. Don’t let the boys tease you too much.”

“I’ll see what I can do.” Scootaloo laughed nervously, as she followed Rumble down the hall.

Rumble led Scootaloo back to Button Mash’s room--a smallish bedroom just off the kitchen, dominated by a bed, a dresser, and an old, boxy TV balanced on top of a milk crate. In the center of the room sat Button Mash and Featherweight, bags of candy spilled everywhere. Beside them sat two unclaimed controllers.

“Hey,” Button Mash said without looking away from the frantic battle happening on the television screen. He stuck his tongue between his teeth, and Featherweight groaned suddenly.

As Scootaloo made her way towards the center, carefully following Rumble to his accustomed spot to Button’s left. She sat down next to him, then focused on the TV, trying to make sense of the flashing lights and explosive music. It looked like the two ponies onscreen trying to beat the snot out of each other--and the purple one was winning. And, slowly, as she watched, she started to lean forward, her eyes going wide.

Suddenly, Rumble tapped her on the shoulder, and she sat up with a yelp. He simply giggled and held out a pristine Starswirl for her.

“Thanks.” Scootaloo smiled, taking it.

Button Mash, eyes still glued to the screen, cleared his throat. “I believe it’s me you should be thanking, not your little stud muffin.”

“Sorry.” Scootaloo rolled her eyes, “Thanks, Button Mash.

Rumble sighed.. “Hey let’s lay off the smartass thing for a little bit, alright?”

Button paused the game, then turned to look at him, eyes wide and bottom lip trembling. “Aw, I’m sowwy Wumble.” Button Mash mock-whined, “I didn’t mean to hurt your widdle fiwwy’s feewings!”

“Whatever, dude.” Rumble snarled, grabbing a controller. “We gonna play Diamond Force or not?”

“Yeah, yeah.” Button Mash said with a grin. “Just let me break Featherweight’s heart again, and we’ll switch. Wouldn’t want your little lady getting bored, after all.”

“Hey, I can still win!” interjected Featherweight.

“Not unless I drop dead of boredom,” Button shot back. “You’re down two-nothing, with like, three hits left.”

As the colts continued to squabble, Rumble handed her the last controller. “You ever play Diamond Force before?” he asked. She shook her head, then held his controller up so she could see it. “It’s pretty simple,” he said to her. “Green button is a regular hit, red button is magic hit, and tilting the stick different directions makes ‘em do different things. Try not to fly off the screen.” He turned back to the TV as Button Mash landed a devastating finisher, making Featherweight groan again. The triumphant Button then grabbed the familiar cartridge from its place on top of the TV--a thin yellow brick, with Diamond Force: Ultimate Fighter II printed on the front.

Featherweight crossed his arms. “I like Castle Brawlers better,” he muttered.

“Yeah, well, you suck at that one too,” Button said, as he switched out the cartridges.

Scootaloo stared, wide-eyed, at the screen, as the clunky old system wheezed to life again--then stared again as Button Mash whizzed through the menus by muscle memory, dropping them all on a field of colored squares, filled with ponies and monsters of all description.

Rumble glanced over at her, then smiled reassuringly. “You’ll get the hang of it after a few rounds,” he said. “Just watch what we do, and try to do the same, okay?”

Rumble’s ears perked as he could hear his two friends snickering behind his back. He sighed and rolled his eyes--but still had that same soft smile Scootaloo absolutely adored. Even a little bit of a blush, too.

“Alright,” she said, a little smile creeping across her face too. “I’ll try.”

Five humiliating matches later, Scootaloo growled and threw the controller to the ground. “I suck at this,” she said, pouting. She grabbed an angry hoof-full of chocolates and shoved them into her mouth.

Rumble smirked at her. “You’re getting better,” he said. “You even killed Button Mash in that last match.”

“Summon Crystal,” Button called. “Doesn’t count.”

Featherweight scoffed. “You got me with one twice,” he said.

“Only because you threw my controller and almost busted my Daring Do figure.”

“Yeah--afterwards.”

“Pre-emptive strike.”

Featherweight opened his mouth to respond, but a knock to the doorway made all four of them look up. Button’s Mom poked her head in the room, carrying a steaming plate of pizza pockets in her hooves. “Who’s hungry for some pi-i-izza pockets?” she sang sang as she set the platter on Button’s floor. “Be careful not to drip these on the carpet again, alright? There’s a paper plate for each of you.”

“Thanks mom!” Button snatched one and immediately tossed it in his mouth--and everyone in the room heard it sizzle. He yelped and spat it out, then tried to catch it in his hooves, but it flew up in the air as he frantically tried to juggle it. The other three foals laughed, as he finally caught it on a plate, then frantically pawed at his already-reddening tongue.

Mom rolled her eyes. “What have I told you about eating things right off the stove, Button?” she sighed, as she turned and walked from the room. “I’ll go get an icepack…” she muttered.

As Rumble and Scootaloo continued to laugh, and Button Mash shot them all death glares, Featherweight abruptly stood and stepped to the TV. “Let’s play Super CartKart,” he said brightly. “I think you’ll like this one better, Scootaloo.”

Button turned to glare at him now. “‘Art’art ith for babieth,” he spat, earning a fresh wave of giggles from Scootaloo.

“Yeah, well, guest’s choice,” returned Featherweight. “And the guest chooses CartKart.” He glanced over at Scootaloo and winked. “Right?”

Scootaloo glanced at Rumble uncertainly. He smiled grinned back at her. “It’s easy,” he said. You’ll pick it up in no time.”

Scootaloo turned to Button Mash with a smile and a shrug. “Sure,” she said, “Why not?”

Super CartKart proved easier for Scootaloo--with a little coaching, she was managing to keep up with them. Plus, it didn’t hurt that she’d managed to nail Button Mash with about four of those blue rockets, and hearing him try to swear with a burned tongue always made her laugh.

They had managed to work themselves up to the Ice and Lava tracks when Scootaloo suddenly began to squirm.

“Um…” she said, “...can I, um…”

All three of them looked up. She blushed a little, then leaned forward and whispered into Rumble’s ear. Rumble’s eyebrows shot up.

“Oh,” he said. “Um… bathroom’s the last door on the left, there.”

She nodded, then stood up and trotted out. Rumble watched her go, glanced at the other two, then tapped the “pause” button on his controller.

“Sorry guys,” he said, “I gotta go, too.” He stood up and walked into the hall, a chorus of groans following him.

Rumble waited just down the hall from the bathroom door, then looked up as it clicked open. Scootaloo exited the bathroom and walked down the hall--and didn’t notice Rumble until she almost ran into him. She jumped, then smiled at him.

“Hey.” Scootaloo said.

“You, uh… you having fun?” Rumble asked nervously.

“Mmhm.” Scootaloo nodded. “I think I’m actually getting the hang of that, uh...”

CartKart,” he prompted. She nodded in return.

“Told ya you would,” he said with a grin. “But uh, when you’re ready to go home…” he swallowed. “Just let me know, and we’ll head out.”

Scootaloo felt a warm little blush spread across her face for reasons she didn’t understand. . “I will,” she said with a warm smile, and, her tail gently swishing she trotted back into the room

Rumble watched her go, sighed to himself, then stepped into the bathroom himself.

By the time Rumble returned to Button’s room, Featherweight and Button Mash were bickering, Scootaloo watching with curiosity and amusement. Something about who would win in a fight: Pipsqueak, or Featherweight… or Diamond Tiara.

“Diamond would so kick your flank, dude.” Button said, smirking.

“Wha--First Pipsqueak, and now Diamond Tiara?” Featherweight whined.

“She is pretty stocky, dude.” Scootaloo noted.

Featherweight turned and glared at her. “Who asked you, you--you--you penguin?

Rumble stepped up behind Scootaloo, the look in his eye making the color drain from Featherweight’s face. “What did you just call her?”

Featherweight stammered. “I-- I-- Jus--”

“Ooh!” Button sang with a devious smile, “You just dissed his girl, Featherbrain! You’re dead!” He leapt to his hooves, then grabbed two pillows from off his bed, and tossed one to Rumble, the other to Featherweight. Rumble snatched his from the air with his teeth, then stepped toward Featherweight, who backed up a step.

Button stepped between them, his face a mask of utter solemnity..

“Alright boys,” he said gravely, “I want a good, clean fight. No cheap shots, no wussing out. Usual rules apply.” He winced a little. “And try not to break Mom’s vase this time. She almost killed me...” He hopped up onto his bed, and looked between the two combatants with an evil grin.

“Fight!” he roared.

Rumble charged forward, pillow hauled back and ready to swing. Featherweight danced out of the way--but Button leapt from the bed and tackled him. Button smirked and clambered to his hooves, just as Rumble charged at him again.

With his command, Rumble ran at an fleet-footed Featherweight who managed to avoid his pursuant swings. Rumble had a clear shot as Featherweight found himself cornered, but before he could make a critical strike, he was blindsided by a briefly airborne Button who rolled over him, scrambling to his hooves just as Rumble charged him.

Featherweight stood and smiled, and reared back to swing--but Scootaloo swung at him first, with a pillow she’d rescued from the couches in the living room. The pillow connected, hard, and sent the off-balance Featherweight tumbling to the floor. He leapt up again, eyes glittering, and advanced towards her, as Scootaloo, giggling aloud, jumped up on the bed again. Featherweight grinned and spread his wings--but Rumble combat-rolled backwards into him, just as Button Mash, already halfway through his leap, howled with dismay and slammed, face-first, into the floor, making the games on his shelf jump.

Featherweight formed a wicked smile as he crept behind Rumble and was ready to clobber the colt, had it not been for an orange filly who nailed him from the side, and sent him tumbling. Undeterred, he came towards Scootaloo, who hopped onto the bed, doing a taunting dance as her opponent prepared to get on the bed as well. He was cut short but Rumble falling back onto him in a errant summersault, as Button face planted the floor, horribly missing his target with a ill-timed leap.

Scootaloo giggled and dashed out of the room--followed immediately by Featherweight, who smacked her three or four times with his pillow as they ran toward the living room. Button’s mom sighed and rolled her eyes as the other two emerged from the room and dashed after them as well, Button even vaulting over the arm of the couch on his way to the battle.

No one was entirely certain whose pillow it was that split first--but, as the four of them laughed and screamed, the air filled with whiffs and thuds, there was a mighty rrrrip--and, suddenly, the living room was full of downy feathers, falling like snow. Button stared up at them in mingled awe and horror--and Featherweight, seeing an opening, tackled him to the floor and let him have it. Rumble watched, smirking--until Scootaloo’s pillow smacked him across the face. He gaped at her, just long enough for him to smack him again, then he grinned and started swinging himself, Scootaloo squealing in joy and fear, until she tripped over Featherweight, bringing both of them to the floor.

Rumble giggled, then dropped down into the feathers himself, then rolled onto his back. The four of them lay there, chests heaving, as the feathers continued to fall on and around them. Finally, Rumble looked over at Button and grinned.

“Movie night?” he said.

Rumble nodded. “Movie night.”

Button took a small videocassette, and inserted it into the slot on the side of his TV. Soon enough, after an anti-piracy slide from the Canterlot Bureau of Investigation, a slightly dated movie began as the foursome gathered around the TV, the same spots as before. A bowl of popcorn placed before them by a quiet mare who was out just as quickly as she had entered.

It was an action flick starring a gritty ember-maned stallion who patrolled the rough ghettos of Manehattan, fending off the crooked and cracked with comical ease. Between the poorly timed sound effects, and the clearly fake “fights”, it should’ve been an instant pass, or at least the victim of mockery from these taxed foals who watched. Instead, it was infatuating. Something about the MC’s ‘bad dude’ persona and his politically incorrect one-liners was more than enough to vindicate the flick.

Scootaloo was sucked in as they were. Her eyes growing ever heavier as the movie dragged on.

About an hour in, and suddenly, the movie’s setting was in space, and the same rough and tumble bad dude was now karate-chopping and judo-flipping paper-mache changelings and dragons to the tune of some bottom-barrel disco funk. Finally, our hero was standing amidst a pile of defeated dragons, enclosed in a wall of fire. The same disco funk trunk serving as the backdrop to his monologue about virtue, patriotism, and how naughty illicit street drugs were.

Rumble looked down to see that all that was left of the popcorn was a few unpopped kernels, with the wrapper of a luna bar or two tossed in for good measure. He sighed--then noticed a weight on his shoulder. Featherweight giggled, and Rumble turned to see what it was--Scootaloo’s head, resting peacefully on his shoulder, her mouth open and slightly drooling She looked completely at peace, and totally comfortable with the idea of spending the entire night like this.

Rumble swallowed--if he was perfectly honest, he was, too. But as much as he wanted this to last, the sun was setting beyond the emerald hills, and the moon was already on the rise. It was probably about time to take her home.

Button Mash looked over at the two of them, smirked wickedly, and opened his mouth--but, as he did, his gaze softened, a bit, and he turned back to the TV just in time to watch a pony take a karate chop to the face. For a while, no one spoke.

“I think she really likes you, dude,” Button said quietly.

Rumble looked up. “You think so?” he asked, a hopeful note in his voice.

“Totally.” Featherweight said with a nod.

“Fillies are weird,” Button added, “But she spent all afternoon with you, playing games she sucked at—”

“Mostly,” Featherweight interjected.

Button nodded. “Mostly,” he repeated. “But she stuck around. Probably be because you’re here. Doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.” He watched the TV for another moment, then scoffed. “Besides,” he said, “she’s sleeping on your shoulder, when there’s a perfectly good couch right there--and we all know how bony you are, so she must like something about you.”

Hey,” Rumble said with a faint whine. Featherweight snickered.

Rumble turned back to the television, but just for a moment--all too soon, his eyes were drawn back to her. He smiled as he watched her simply breathe, watched the faint little smile on her peaceful face, watched her gorgeous mane shift a little, as her chest rose and fell, watched her cutie mark, in beautiful contrast to her coat, as she kicked a little in her sleep. He wanted to watch her like this all night--but he knew, too, that it was time to go home.

He shrugged his shoulders a few times, and Scootaloo slowly stirred half-awake. With guidance from him, and a little help from featherweight, Scootaloo climbed up onto Rumble’s back, straddling him with her hind legs, and wrapped her forehooves around his neck. He stood and walked for the front door, followed closely by his two friends.

“You’re coming back, right?” Button asked. “My dad wants to make us a killer scramble for breakfast.”

“Yeah.” Rumble smiled. “Just gotta take her home first. It’ll be quick.”

“You know…” Button blushed slightly, a rare sight. “You, uh… you can bring her by again, if you want. She’s cool. F-for a filly,” he added quickly.

“Tell me something I don’t know, man.” Rumble, said with a playful wink. “Maybe I can have her bring her little unicorn friend, too.”

Button’s mouth dropped open, and he blushed harder. Rumble snickered.

Button’s mom met them by the front door. “Going home?” she asked.

She is.” Rumble said, looking back at the sleeping Scootaloo. “I’ll be back, though.”

“Alright. Well, she is more than welcome back anytime.” Button’s mom smiled as she opened the door for the him. “It sounds like she got along with the boys pretty well.”

“Yeah, she did. I think she had fun,” Rumble said brightly.

“Wonderful.” she replied with a smile. “See you in a bit, Rumble.”

With that, Rumble stepped outside, and began the slow trot down the main drag towards Scootaloo’s house. The light of the moon and his memory of this afternoon made it easy to find her house--almost dark, save for a little light shining in one of the windows.


Scootaloo stirred awake. She looked up at her darkened ceiling, listened to the distant singing of frogs, and squeezed her eyes shut. She groaned softly and rolled back over again.

She wasn’t entirely sure how she had made it to her bed. Last she remembered, she was dozing off to some campy action flick from before she was born. Last she remembered, she was having an amazing time in the company of fun-loving, feisty, and flamboyant colts.

And best of all, she was in the company of her colt. Rumble. Surely he had something to do with her mysterious journey home-- It was obviously late--too late to ask Mrs. Harbour what had happened.

She wanted so much to thank Rumble and the other colts-- for a great time. Between the video games, the snacks, the pillow fight, the laughter and the lighthearted jabs and jest, it was the most fun she had had in a long time. Not only that though, but she learned something about colts--something she would’ve said was impossible in her safe circle of filly friends:

Colts were just like them. They were rough and rowdy, sure, but at the end of the day, the friendship that defined her bond with the crusaders was the same one that string those three colts together.

Colts were cool.

Rumble was cool.

Naw, scratch that. Rumble was awesome.

She had once called someone else awesome--a blue pegasus, who she once thought she admired--though she had given up that title. It was only right that Rumble now claim the title. Still, she felt a little guilty; the score now say Rumble two, Scootaloo zero. Not only had he whisked her away from the pain and disappointment of her trip to Cloudsdale, but he followed it up by bringing her along to a an afternoon with his best pals, which turned out to be a truly wonderful time.

She grinned to herself. She was definitely showing him the clubhouse tomorrow.

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