• Published 16th Jun 2012
  • 12,994 Views, 679 Comments

Pony POV Series Season One: Reharmonization - Alex Warlorn

Discord is beaten, but it's the scars you can't see that take the longest to heal. Let us begin.

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Reharmonization Rainbow Dash II: "True Healing"

Reharmonized/Healing/Recovery Ponies POVs Rainbow Dash II "True Healing"
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic

Oh it's -you- guys again! Oh whatever. For three and a half weeks I've flown with lead weights chained all around me that only I can see. Geeze. Since when do I wax philosophy? This is me! Rainbow Dash! I'm brazen, fast and relentless, and proud of it! Since when do I waste time thinking about this deep inner meaning junk?

Maybe that'll stop too once I stop feeling like Rarity chained me to 'Tom!' No you idiot, not the literal stupid rock I mean I've been feeling freakin' heavy since before we beat Discord!!

Look! I put on a SHOW for my friends! After I stabbed them in the back to save a home that I could finally accept as my home again, Discord decided it was a great idea to post a giant version of my mug on a giant floating screen for all of Cloudsdale to see! Followed by telling every Pegasus in that loud obnoxious voice of his that that I had saved Cloudsdale by dooming the rest of Equestria! I used to have dreams of having my face up for everypony to see and being the center of attention, now they're all nightmares.

The donkey let the hisses and boos from the ponies I had just saved go on just long enough for it hurt worse than betraying my friends before turning them as bonkers as everyone in Ponyville!

So I flew back to my friends, saw they were now as insane as everyone in Cloudsdale and ran again! Then my friends show up near my front door except they're all themselves again. And I give the stage show of my life, giving my friends the merry chase of their lives! Playing the mad pony right up until Twilight removed Discord's taint from me! Except her spell didn't do what I wanted it to from the start. It didn't remove the memories of me betraying my friends and Discord turning Cloudsdale into a mad house.

So we saved the world. And I didn't tell any of my friends what I did. And every pegasus in Cloudsdale either doesn't remember, or passes it off as an illusion by Discord or an delusion they had when they were crazy. After all, I saved the Wonderbolts, I won Year's Best Young Flyer! I helped -save the world!- There's no way what they remembered about me betraying Equestria to protect Cloudsdale could be real!

Nobody notices me acting or feeling guilty, not with all the ponies who are a little LESS messed up helping the ponies who are a lot MORE messed up trying to figure themselves out after Discord did whatever he happened to feel like doing to them!

I'd die for my friends if I had to, I'm more than willing to live for them too, I guess that's why the Element of Loyalty still accepted me.

But then Scootaloo had to come and cramp my whole new 'feeling-horrible-but-don't-tell-anyone' style and tell me how she was beating herself up for something she couldn't have helped anyway! So I told her she needed to start by forgiving herself, then I realized what I just said and felt like I'd just given myself a good kick in the flanks.

I let her sleep alongside me like a foal does with her mama. It was the least I could do when we were both the same kind of dumbbell. She's still there when I wake up (I was happy I couldn't remember my dreams). I open my mouth to tell her she's going to be late for school, but remembered that school was canceled. And that made me remember: when the Cutie Mark Crusaders were together at one of our places, after the close call with Fluttershy babysitting them, we decided to experiment with Rarity, Fluttershy, and me being there together to keep them out of trouble (though I did grumble on why I had to keep an eye on a filly who wasn't even related to me). And I remember Fluttershy and Rarity chatting away as girlie girls always will (I gotta agree with Spike on that one, I can't stand the stuff!). And then they mention how Scootaloo didn't even start attending Applebloom's school until after they formed the CMC.

I really don't like doing the whole 'thinking' thing, action is WAY more my style and my strong point. But I wonder where Scootaloo WENT to school before Applebloom. Cheerilee's school is the only one for fillies their age in Ponyville, otherwise spoiled brats like Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon would have never attended. This was making my brain hurt and I pushed it aside.

Figuring she'd raid the fridge anyway when she woke up I decided to make breakfast for her, not that I dared much more than milk and Wonder-Flakes. My teacher from my old mandatory cooking class had said it was supposed to be impossible to set cloud appliances on fire, but I had somehow managed. And when the last time I tried to cook ended with Twilight delusional from fever, I kinda figured out that me making anything more complex than a daisy sandwich was the forbidden zone.

When Scootaloo woke up, she didn't tell me what her dreams were, but she didn't look like she had any nightmares.

"Good morning Rainbow Dash!"

"Good morning squirt."

"Thanks for letting me sleep here last night."

"No prob. But seriously kiddo, remember what I said last night." I felt myself twist a bit inside as I remembered.

Scootaloo just nodded, a slightly down look on her face suddenly. Okay, so maybe it takes more than one late at night pep talk for a filly to work her way through this gunk, got it. Maybe 'Shy or Twilight could do a better job, but they're not here and if the half-pint wants'em to know, she can tell'em on her own.

We ate in silence. When the topic wasn't about me or the Wonderbolts, I really began to trip up on what to say. Finally, I knelt down so I was eye level with Scootaloo. "Kid, Scoots, listen. Applebloom, Sweetie, they're hurting right now. Same with everypony in Ponyville. They might have their families, but that doesn't mean they don't need their friends too! I think you might be the only pony in Ponyville Discord didn't drive crazy or twist about...I guess that makes it a little-ugh." I cut myself off before I accidentally defeated my own argument and said something about being the only sane one made Scoots' situation worse! It definitely didn't do Twilight any favors when Discord drove everypony else crazy except her. "That makes you one of the best ponies to help! Their families are hurting too! Be there for'em! Those fillies are gonna need a shoulder to cry on and somepony to listen."

Coming from me of course Scoots held onto every word, even if I didn't know how much she got. Scoots nodded like a puppy and pressed herself against me. That made me stiffen, I had no clue what I was supposed to be feeling.

"You got it Rainbow Dash! I will! I will! I promise!" She made a beeline for the door to begin her divine mission! Then she meekly trotted back in and looked at me blushing bright red under her coat.

"Uh, can you give me a ride down?"

I actually sighed instead of groaned. A pegasus filly who can't fly yet. I could understand how frustrating that had to be for her. But I wanted to focus on my own dreams, and she'd still follow me over a cliff if I needed her to. I wonder if, when I'm old and gray and living in my giant mansion surrounded by my memorabilia as the greatest Wonderbolt in history; if Scoots will be the next Element of Loyalty.

Scoots didn't even try to hide how happy she was that I was giving her a Rainbow Dash exclusive ride.

I could tell she was wanted the ride to last longer than just the trip down to the ground. At least I stopped her from 'forgetting' her skateboard so we didn't have to do a round trip.

I managed to squeeze out one last drop before she scooted along.

"And squirt."

"Yes Rainbow Dash?"

"Tell them. Tell them what happened. Tell them how you feel. I promise, if they're really your friends, they'll forgive you." Whether the squirt had done anything wrong wasn't the point. The point was that she thought she did something wrong. And she needed to hear her friends say she was forgiven. Yeah yeah, first hand experience, should practice what I preach, blah blah!

Scoots looked at me with fear and uncertainty flickering across her eyes before her hero worship of me sealed the deal.

"I promise, Rainbow Dash! I promise!" She saluted and was off like a shot.

That was roughly three weeks ago, and the CMC are still together and as thick as thieves so I guess things went good for her. I told myself I'd do the same. Then I told myself I'd only confess with all of us together. Then I told myself I needed to figure exactly what I was going to say. Then I told myself I had a bunch of things I needed to do first. Then I told myself I was too tired to do it. Then I told myself everyone had bigger problems then mine and I could wait on telling them while I helped with theirs. Then I figured I'd simply wait until everyone wasn't busy.

And before I could come up with another excuse, Applejack, using that thrice cursed long-lived cloud walking spell of Twilight's and some borrowed transport paid me a visit like she was apparently doing with most Ponyville that day. She told me she knew. That she had known since her visit to Princess Celestia. I was terrified knowing that the Princess knew and figured my just desserts were just around the corner. AJ assured me that Celestia hadn't even batted an eyelash and not one word about 'punishment.' AJ said the important thing was that AJ forgave me. And that AJ -knew- everypony else was going to as well.

Okay...so I needed only four ponies together at the same time to spill my guts out. I honestly wonder if I tried to tell anyone at Cloudsdale if they'd believe me or even -let me- confess. Equestria needed heroes right now to look up after Discord tore the place apart. And Cloudsdale couldn't afford to have one of its two natives who had help save the world be cut down to life size. Maybe that was still my ego talking, I don't care.

The Squirt must have realized -something- was up with me, don't ask me how (maybe she's got Scoots Sense or somethin' maybe I just said somethin' in my sleep that night she stayed with me, I dunno!). Cause she went and founded a fan-club in my honor! Me! I always wanted one! I figured I'd have five by the time I was as old as I was now (and I'd already be a Wonderbolt). She even got Snips and Snails, the fan-colts of that ugly nag Trixie to realize who the -real- pony they should be worshipping was. Of course I did some sublime nudging in how Scoots managed things once I caught wind her brilliant idea.

Yeah, my ghouls were still with me, but it felt good to have one of my fantasies, er, check-marks, finally fulfilled. Yes! And it gave me something else on my mind at last. I felt like I was me again! I could just bury that ugly chapter in the ground and build a house on top of it and move into the house! Oy! Sometimes I think I hang out too much with Pinkie.

Then things got even better. Ponies were repeatedly suddenly in need of their lives being saved, and who happened to be nearby to help other than Rainbow Dash! The damage from Discord may have been magically undone, but the ruin from the parasprites and Ursa Minor last year had cost Ponyville last year's, this year's, and all of next year's maintenance budget. And shoddy repair jobs were finally coming back to bite ponies in the rear. It was great!

I was there to help everyone! They called me a hero! On my own! Ponyville loved me as much as Cloudsdale! More so! Oh, sure, right, the accidents themselves were bad, but what did it matter? I was there to save the day! End of story! I was everyone's favorite hero and made sure everyone knew it!

And I didn't have to think about the black gray feeling in the pit of my stomach at all.

Then, when another chance for hero time came around, I took a itty-bitty-little amount of time signing autographs, and getting my picture taken, before going off to rescue the poor pony in the falling balloon. I had everything timed perfectly I swear! I'm the pony who can clear the sky in 10 seconds flat, remember? No way anything could go wrong!

Then this newcomer shows up and steals my rescue, and doesn't even stop to get any praise or nothin'!

Huh? You heard all this already? Oh. Sorry. The point was I was finally the hero I wanted to be, and then this pony came along like a thief and STOLE it! Okay, so maybe I'd have been able to get most of those rescues if I hadn't been 'talk first, rescue second' but a hero's gotta hold up her motif right?

Then the incident with the dam, and she saved -me-! Ugh!

Then I went bonkers like you read and tried to make ANYTHING into a hero jig, and ponies were beginning to think I was just being an attention hog. Er, not that they could be right or anything.

And like the poets say, I was right back where I began. Miserable. Then Scoots showed, Scoots, my one true fan!...To invite me to Mare-Do-Well's parade in honor of Ponyville's newest hero. Yes, I was bummed out. Then it hit me.

And besides thinking this was my chance to ruin her 'dark and mysterious' motif it was: 'HA! I knew she was in it for the praise!' So what if I organized all my events and this one was done FOR her and not by her?

And yeah, you know what happened next. Ambush, chase scene, surprise of surprises, ALL my friends were Mare-Do-Well.

I still don't know if Pinkie Pie let me catch her or not, I mean with that 'ESP' that's as crazy and unpredictable as her.

"Real heroes don't brag ." AJ winked at me.

Lesson learned. Don't act like Trixie and think you're queen of the world. Letter to Celestia.

I still don't know if Mayor Mare was in on this whole thing or not (kinda weird she was able to arrange a parade for a pony who never stayed in one place for long nopony knew anything about, and that Mare-Do-Well already had that 'M' on her cape even before the Mayor came up with her name on the spot).

Then we all headed back to the parade. The plan was for Mare-Do-Well to gracefully bow out of Ponyville, having served her purpose. What? Do you think Pinkie Pie was going to WASTE a party?

But we had all forgotten one thing. The lady with the potted plant that nearly fell on Pinkie Pie. That had seen me with three unmasked Mare-Do-Wells. And heard the majority of our conversation.

Twilight figured she'd think we were just cosplaying as her or couldn't hear a word we said from her upstairs window. Twilight isn't always right. And gossip is the one thing that can travel faster than me (maybe).

Ponies were confused and shocked that their hero was in fact three ponies. Thankfully, ponies were more interested in thanking their hero face to face than moaning about her being more than one person. Including one filly who said SHE wanted to be a super hero when she grew up.

This is Ponyville people, they freak out easy-peasy, and will get caught up in just about anything, but they're all whimsical and understanding at heart. Considering they didn't lynch Twilight for making the parasprite problem worse I think is proof of that.

We all had smiles, we all had laughs, and I got to share a place on the parade float with the Mare-Do-Wells.

I muttered about maybe my time in the spotlight being over. So much for getting into the history books.

Pinkie Pie laughed, "Silly filly, you're already in the history books see?" Pinkie Pie took a book from buckin' nowhere on world records and sport stunts...and there I was under the 'so-called' 'impossible' Sonic Rainboom. The first pony to do it in public not once, but twice. Okay. Maybe I was being a tiny bit egocentric on the whole 'not being remembered' thing.

Once all the confetti had been thrown, however, I cornered AJ. The one pony who knew my secret. I made sure this happened in private: meaning my place, behind locked doors and closed windows.

"Why AJ? Why couldn't you just let me take in the praise? The ponies wanted to cheer me on! Couldn't you just let them -have- their hero? I was finally able to bury all the crud I was carrying!"

"Things you bury tend to take root sugarcube. We didn't do this to show ya up. And givin' ya an example of how a hero was supposed to be wasn't why we stuck to this here plan."

"Oh? Then what pray-tell?"

AJ took in a deep breath, and said sadly "Sorry RD." Then her face got stern and hard so fast it made me jump. "We didn't mind ya being a hero, we didn't mind ya acting like, well, -you- when ponies thanked ya for savin' the day. What we DID mind was you beginning to treat it LIKE A SHOW rather than savin' lives! Half the reason we invented Mare-Do-Well was to save yer butt! If Pinkie hadn't stepped in, how many of those construction workers do you think would have gotten out in one piece? Or not at all? If Twilight hadn't repaired the damn when she had, what do you think ponies would have thought of you when Ponyville was flooded-?! Ponies would have HATED YER GUTS! And that's if you survived gettin' caught in that flood at all! But they were too busy praisin' Mare-Do-Well to notice you were screwing up due to yer stupid ego, and badly!

The other half was to get it through your thick head that being a hero...look, ya were beginnin' to treat the praise like it was more important than what you were being praised for!"

"I wouldn't have started grand standing more if Mare-Do-Well hadn't shown up!"

"Rainbow, yer a tried and true friend who makes each day of mah life just a little bit brighter, and it would be a dark day for all of us if you weren't here. But that's horse apples. You were timing things down to the last possible moment -to get more autographs in- fer SAVIN' LIVES! That is NOT a hero, Rainbow! Not at all!

"You crossed a line there, RD. Truth is, most of us thought this here plan was over the top even after we put it together. But when you did -that-, when the balloon fell we knew we had to step in before the law of averages and your ego got somepony killed! We did this to SAVE YOU, not take you down a peg!"

"You could have talked to me!"

AJ's face didn't soften. "We did. Ya didn't listen."

"Oh. Right."

"RD, Ah'd sooner buck mah own teeth out then hurt yer feelin's. But ya don't -get- excuses for leavin' ponies in mortal danger longer just so you can blab whose there to save'em!" AJ was suddenly nose to nose with me, and I felt so small AJ could have stepped on me with one hoof.

Then AJ looked at me, almost pleading, "So please, understand, we...we did this help you. And stop hiding It. Please. "

At the parade, all of them together. Isn't that what I wanted? Well, didn't want to spoil the celebration right? Right.

I silently took AJ back to ground level. I was surprised to find my fanclub president waiting below my house when I got back.


"Hi Rainbow Dash!"

"I didn't expect things to go crazy when I asked you to join Mare-Do-Well at the parade."

Huh? "What? Join?"

"That's the whole reason I wanted you there! I thought you and Mare Do Well could be Equestria's Finest. Like SuperStallion and BatMare. Heheh Guess you already were . .." The pipsqueak said sounding embarrassed.

The runt of a pegasus. She never left me. She was always thinking of me. She never left me. That whole time, she was still on my side. She never left me.

I managed to smile. "Yeah, maybe we are." Should've remembered that lesson about 'not thinking the worst of your friends…'

Being a 'hero' wasn't what mattered. Helping ponies who had their faith in me is what mattered. What matters is my friends. And if they needed rescuing, you knew I was gonna be there!

So when Pinkie Pie threw away sleeping like it was a hobby, and put herself on a perpetual caffeine high just to keep partying with anyone who happened to walk in through the door (and a few who didn't), I joined in the conspiracy to get her to get some sleep, whether she wanted it or not.

After we cut off the immediate problem at its source and Pinkie Pie finally burned herself out, Fluttershy chooses to take care of her for the bit.

I tell Twilight I REALLY need to speak to her, but Twilight tells me she's needed in Hoofington two weeks ago and doesn't give me time to tell her short of just shouting out my confession, and you have no idea how close I was to doing just that!

So I fall back on waiting to tell all my friends at once. Twilight said she had no idea how long she'd be gone. Could be days, could be weeks.

She was back the next day.

But Pinkie Pie was still catching up on going three weeks with effectively no sleep. I visited her at least twice a day to keep tabs on her. Fluttershy was there, going over a bunch of photo albums whenever I visited Pinkie Pie.

She also asked me a really weird question. "Rainbow Dash, do you believe you can be tough, self-assured, and independent without being mean to others?"

I tried to keep my time looking at her confused to a minimum before I said, "Like duh. Of course you can Fluttershy! Being mean means you're NOT sure of yourself, means you don't think you're as tough as you want others to think you are, and you need others to feel big. I'd say being mean means you're -less- those things!" I said proudly, thinking of that first-cut loser Trixie and those punks back at flight school.

Fluttershy's body language changed, her stance was defensive, rigid, reminded me a bit of the Gala incident almost. She looked angry and hurt at me for about one moment, just long enough for the image to get burned into my brain. Then her body was the picture of a delicate flower on a warm spring day swaying in a gentle breeze: in other words, Fluttershy.

"Thank you Rainbow Dash. That's something very important I think some people needed to hear."

I was so weirded out by that, I made an excuse to leave and tried my best not to think about it.

Finally, on almost the forth day after we had gotten Pinkie Pie to sleep, Fluttershy was rapping like mad on my door as best you can with clouds and shouted the moment I opened it, "PINKIE PIE'S AWAKE!"

Of course I was at Sugarcube Corner before Fluttershy could give me the details. Mr. Cake however proved to be a surprisingly effective barrier against me seeing his foster child for a pony named after a pastry while his wife helped Pinkie get her bearings after nearly four days of Pinkie not using her muscles. He promised Pinkie would come down to see us all when the others arrived.

So now I'm standing here waiting in Sugarcube Corner. I had finally had enough. I was going to steal Pinkie Pie's moment and draw all the attention to me and get my stupid confession over with before it finished eating me from the inside.

Fluttershy caught up first, and looked for a moment with that odd body language that she was going to say that it was rude to ditch her. But her mood and expression brightened in an instant and she said, "Hello Rainbow. Did you see Pinkie yet?"

"Mr. Cake says he doesn't want Pinkie to meet us one by one. He think it would be better for her to meet us all together at once."

"But how does that make sense?" Fluttershy asked in her innocent voice. "Having a lot of us together might trigger another party. And I'm the first person she saw when she woke up, and it likely takes a lot less energy for her to interact with us one at a time then all at once."

"I'm standing seven feet from you you know." Mr. Cake said in a surprising polite voice. "And of course you're allowed to go up Fluttershy. And if you must know I believe honey just wants to spend as much time as possible with Pinkie first and doesn't want to keep getting interrupted by you coming in to see her one by one. No offense, but what honey wants I'm not about to stand in the way of."

"Fluttershy it's okay. I kinda prefer it this way too. I've got a few things I've been meaning to say to Pinkie and everyone too."

"Alright, I understand Rainbow." Fluttershy smiled and nodded. "Isn't it much better to have friends who care and think about you then standing isolated by your lonesome. Isn't that right Rainbow?"

"Uh. Right." I was kinda thrown off by Fluttershy's strange course change in the conversation.

"So Rainbow, what changed your mind about being a lone pony?" Fluttershy asked looking at me with those big innocent eyes of hers.

I never knew Fluttershy to ask these sorts of questions out of the blue, but I couldn't bring myself not to answer under those eyes. "Well I did have friends before. Remember Gilda? And I DID have you Fluttershy! I guess I just couldn't stand seeing those jocks pick on someone who didn't even want to fight back."

"And you showed how much you cared about me by noticing how I fell off, or deciding the person you were racing for was more important than the race itself and came looking for me when you noticed I fell, then asking me what happened when you saw me when you found out I fell."

I startled taken completely off guard. Mr. Cake just stood as a silent witness to all this. Fluttershy's tone held a faux sultriness to it as she looked at me trotting a little bit closer to me almost playfully. I felt like she had hoofed me in the gut and sweat began to mat my mane.

"F-fluttershy that was a long time ago! I know I was a bone-headed filly! How do you think I ended up best friends with Gilda-?! I -know- I didn't deserve your friendship back then! But you have no idea how happy I was that you accepted me as one! I was glad when we both ended up in Ponyville even if I didn't show it!"

Fluttershy then took a couple steps back and sat on her haunches and looked at me bright eyed and happily. "It's okay Rainbow. I never blamed you anyway. If anything I never THANKED YOU! Even before I knew that bang that scared the animals was your Sonic Rainboom. That entire accident was the whole reason I realized my cutie mark! And I was just happy that you got yours too! And even if I did blame you, something awful DID almost happen, but it didn't, and we both realized our cutie marks for it, and you learned from it and are sorry for that. That's all I can really ask from you this long after the fact."

I felt like I had been holding my breath as Fluttershy broke off her proximity.

"But Dashie," She said. "You didn't answer the question. It's okay if you don't want to. I understand. There are things I don't want to talk about either. But what was it that made you want to be friends with others?"

Feeling just glad that Fluttershy wasn't -I don't know what - anymore, I spilled the beans faster than Pinkie Pie can eat a cake. "I think it was Ponyville. All the ponies are just so -open-. And it was just nice seeing you here too, you just fit so well here! I think part of me wanted to fit that well too! Just like I want to fit in with the Wonderbolts!"

"Oh? Rainbow Dash wants to fit in? I thought you wanted to -always- be unique, always stand out from the crowd, I thought you'd -hate- fitting in." Fluttershy asked her voice taking on a sly tone and her body took on that slightly liquid stance again.

I began to sweat again. "Okay, bad choice of words maybe! I blocked out how I could have killed you...I just remembered standing up for you. And it felt GOOD standing up for someone else even though I didn't want to admit it. And I DO want to fit in with the Wonderbolts, because they're everything I want from myself! And I meant it, Ponyville is just -accepting-. Even for a Pegasus who doesn't fly and another whose lazy but claims to be the best."

Fluttershy smiled warmly as her pose became dainty but dignified. "So it felt good to stand up for others? It felt good to think about someone other than yourself? Even if you're a little afraid of saying so?"

Tension was pulled taught in the air even if I wasn't sure where it was coming from. Fluttershy just kept looking at me with the trait of her Element.

I breathed out. "Yes."

Fluttershy nuzzled me. "Thank you Rainbow. I think I'll go help Pinkie Pie now. That was a very good lesson." She trotted a few steps past me then said turning her head and looking me in the eyes. "And I'm very sorry if anything I said scared or hurt you. Sometimes to pull out a thorn it's going to hurt a little, but it's better than letting it fester, and you're better for it after. The -actual- cruel thing for somebody to do would be to let the infection worsen rather than force it to the surface." For less than an moment I'd swear she was grinding her teeth before there was a triumphant smile on her kind-hearted face. "I hope you don't think I'm bad for that."

"Oh no no no, it's okay." I said quickly.

Fluttershy just smiled fluttered up the stairs past Mr. Cake.

"What was that about? I don't think I've ever seen that girl act that way before!"

"I wish I knew." I said honestly. I whispered, "Thanks Fluttershy."

I waited a couple minutes, turning down an offer for refreshments. I was surprised when Twilight, Applejack, and Rarity all showed up at exactly the same time.

"Hey guys." I said simply. Echoing more or less what I said when I was pretending to be Discord's deluded pawn.

"Where's Pinkie Pie?" AJ asked first.

"I'll go fetch her ladies." Mr. Cake said trotting upstairs.

"Fluttershy's already with her," I said. "So Fluttershy told you too?"

AJ answered. "Actually Spike did. We were checking on Twilight's patient when he came running in."

"So how does he or she look?"

"She hasn't gotten any worse." Twilight said with the most even emotionless face I had ever seen her speak with.

"HOWDY HOO! THE PIE WITH THE PINK HAS RETURNED! And now with all her cherries!"

All of us turned at once to see Pinkie Pie with Fluttershy helping her down the stairs, the Cakes of course behind them.

"Hey guys!" Pinkie Pie grinned. "Great to see you all here! You know what this calls for? A PARTY!"

We all took in a breath.

"KIDDING!" She laughed a split second before we and the Cakes could all dog pile her. "I think I've kinda worn out on the parties right now. Ponyville's ponies need hugs more than confetti right now." She said in a perfectly pleasant voice.

Cue seven pony jaws dropping all at the same time making us look like a bunch of 'hit the donkey win a prize' targets at the carnival.

Pinkie Pie: the pony who needed a reason -not- to party more than a reason -to- party, calmly and meekly admitting she might have overdone the parties-?!

Rarity did one of her stupid fake faints. Fluttershy just smiled at Pinkie. I was at Pinkie Pie's side in an instant with a foreleg to her forehead. "Pinkie! Are you feeling okay? Are you sick? Do you have a fever? Did a parasprite infest your brain-?!"

Pinkie firmly but gently removed my foreleg from her forehead. "Yes I am silly. I never felt better. And no, and no." She said just smiling at me looking at me with those big blue eyes.

"Uh, Pinkie." Twilight butted in. "Are you -sure- you're fine? I mean, you don't -want- to throw a party?"

Pinkie Pie trotted up to her and said keeping her eyes on the purple book-worm. "Twilight, how boring would it be if you had a book that went on forever and you could never finish? Forever?"

I could almost see the gears in Twilight's brain begin to jam. "I, uh, that is-"

"It's the same thing with parties. If a party went on forever, we could never get to the group hug at the end. And having a party for every last little thing no matter how little is like a party that goes on forever right? No wait, I'm still getting used to my brain working this way. Oh right. Okay. Ahem. Twilight. Parties are supposed to be something special, right?"

I had expected Pinkie to speak in slow motion with that last part like you do when trying to talk to someone who doesn't know you language.

"Yes, I am fairly certain though my experience was extremely limited until I met you." Twilight said in typical brain-pony mood.

"Okay. So if I keep having parties for -everything- then how are they special? They become part of a routine, they stop being something surprising and become expected! When I was first taken in by my second family." Pinkie Pie looked at the Cakes lovingly. "I made a total piggy-pie out of myself from all the sweets and treats they had since I barely ever got anything like that ever on the rock farm. I ended up a little porky-pie until they finally put their hooves down. You think I eat a lot of sweets now, you should have seen me then! I finally understand it's the same thing! Having a party ALL the time for EVERYTHING makes the party stop being SPECIAL, and a party that isn't special loses what makes parties so much fun: a break from routine!" Pinkie hugged Rarity, AJ and Twilight all at once. "It's wonderful! There are so many things I couldn't see before that I'm still trying to figure some of them out! It's like there's a whole world around me I couldn't see before!"

"Pinkie Pie." Twilight wondered in astonishment. "Your autism."

Pinkie looked at Twilight confused. "What do my taxes how to do with any of this?"

Twilight backtracked, "Er, never mind."

"Okay. Sure. Whatever." Pinkie Pie smiled and nodded. "But guys it's SO GREAT! It's like I've let out of a cage I didn't know I was in!" She then turned to me and Fluttershy. I saw her eyes actually mist up, she wasn't sad. "It's like I'm a me that's all of me."

Fluttershy looked rather surprised at her more than any of us. Don't ask me why. Personally, I'm completely and totally lost!

"Dearie." Said Mrs. Cake reminding everyone she and her husband weren't part of the furniture. She put a hoof on Pinkie Pie's shoulder. "I know that you've been resting a long time, but I think you need to get your strength back before doing anything exciting. Maybe you should come back up stairs and lay down for a bit."

"I think maybe going outside after being cooped up in her room for three days plus outta do her good." Said Mr. Cake to his wife.

"And I think they'll be plenty of time for that later."

"And I think there's no time like the present."

"Pinkie shouldn't risk herself outside yet."

"It's not like she's going to go mountain climbing right dearie?"

Pinkie Pie startled as those who were deciding her fate were actually asking her opinion on the matter. "I, uh. Really want to go out and see everything. It'll be like I'm seeing it all for the first time again! And I really want to spend more time with my friends. I promise I won't throw another party until I've gotten the kinks worked out."

Mrs. Cake said, "Dear it's not just that. You're acting a little strange and we're worried about you."

"A little strange? Normally I act really strange so I guess me acting a little more 'normal' would be strange since those are all matters of perspective."

Now Mr. Cake looked worried too. To be honest I crossed worried a while back and now I'm a little scared. "Pinkie are you sure you're fine?"

Pinkie Pie nuzzled him. And then said in the most calm, polite, and kind voice she could while smiling. "I feel like I've been sick for a long time, and I'm finally well. I promise, I'm still Pinkie. I'm just all of me now. I promise," She looked at each of us in turn. "Pinkie Pie still loves to prank, still loves to have fun, still loves to see others happy, still loves to party, and still loves her candy! And I still know how Equestria was made: you see it all started with this little girl named Lauren Faust in the eighties-"

"Pinkie Pie, do you have any idea how this happened?" Twilight asked. Though I felt some relief in the Pinkie Pie I know still being there.

"Oh that's easy. While I was sleeping: Pinkie and Pinkamena had a long overdue talk. But Pinkie didn't want to talk to Pinkamena because it was Pinkamena's job to be always sad so Pinkie could always be happy. Their arguing caused another Pinkie to be born whose job it was to be always angry because Pinkie didn't want to feel angry at Discord or Pinkamena. This new angry Pinkie however wanted to eat up the rest of me, so Pinkie and Pinkamena HAD to finally kiss and make up to take her back. So I'm finally all of me."

We all just stared. We had to be breaking the world record at this point.

I didn't believe what I just heard. "Pinkie Pie have you gone crazy,-ier?"

"Actually," Said AJ of all ponies. "Ah think she just might now be saner than most of us here." AJ looked right into Pinkie Pie's eyes, Pinkie Pie didn't flinch, shrink, or shudder, okay, that's rather normal for my best friend. But Pinkie wasn't treating it like a random staring contest, she just kept looking back. AJ then looked at all of us. "Gals what she's sayin' is the truth. All of it."

"And how would you know." I asked right at her.

"Ah know." AJ said with finality.

"Since when are -you- a walking lie detector?"

"Ah ain't detecting no lies! Ah said what she's sayin' is truth! And Ah know truth well enough to recognize it up close and personal."

After saving the world, a tiny bit of a mystique had built up around us in Ponyville and what our Elements were had become easier for anypony to find out. The way the Cakes didn't protest suggested either they knew AJ's Element, or the bit had overwhelmed their strangeness tolerance. Being the Element of Honesty; none of us were really sure how to counter what AJ said.

Twilight just looked at the floor for a bit, I could almost hear the gears turning in that big brain of hers.

Twilight took in a deep breath and said, "Pinkie Pie, as soon as you're feeling up to it, I want you tell me every detail of what you remember about your experience. It might be able to help someone."

Pinkie Pie hopped up and down. "Okie dokie loki!"

Okay, after that we were all convinced this was still Pinkie Pie.

"I think we've all forgotten something very important." Fluttershy said suddenly. She hugged Pinkie Pie. "Meaning this. Pinkie I'm so happy that you're well."

The Harmony Squad and the Cakes didn't have to even look at each other as they quickly followed Fluttershy's example. She was right. That was something important we had all forgotten.

We all held that hug for over a minute, none of us wanting to say anything to ruin the moment. I didn't really get what was going on, but apparently Pinkie was back and better than ever.

"Don't ya'all have something you need to say too Sugercube?" AJ said breaking me out of my hug-zen state.


"Isn't there something you've been meaning to say for a good long while now but ya haven't had the chance to?"

I began to sweat. My own mission had been completely forgotten. "Er, this is Pinkie Pie's moment so really-"

"Oh you got something important to say Dashie? I don't mind! Tell me! We're all friends here."

"Really Pinkie I don't think-"

"Ah think that's been the problem for a while." AJ said.

"Actually I've been thinking a lot more than normal, trust me it hasn't been pleasant."

Pinkie Pie chirped. "Well let's go for that good old fashioned Rainbow Dash action! Tell us!"

"You have something on your mind dear? There's no shame in sharing." Rarity added her two bits.

"Now that's it's been brought up it would be rather awkward to go along like it never happened." The purple nerd injected.

"It's alright Rainbow Dash just let it out." Fluttershy said in a low, comforting tone.

"Okay but, it's a little private." I looked at the Cakes who look uncomfortable.

"Mr. and Mrs. Cake I really hate to say this but...can you please, just for a little bit?" Twilight Sparkle, bless her soul, practically -pleaded- with Pinkie Pie's foster parents to give us a little alone time.

With no small amount of reluctance or hesitations, the Cakes left for the next room. I'll admit it was kinda stupid for me to do my big time confession right there in the Sugercube corner common room, but I knew I was going to loose my nerve again if I accepted anymore delays.

My friends gather around me: Pinkie Pie on my right, Applejack on my left, Fluttershy right across from me.

"Let it out Sugercube, Ah promise, they aren't gonna hate you." AJ said reassuringly, putting a hoof next to mine.

I let my head down, then I force it up to look at them, it feels so heavy. "Guys...in the hedge maze, Discord showed me Cloudsdale crumbling. He said I could either go save it and abandon you, or let Cloudsdale fall apart and stay with you."

Rarity spoke up. "We know dear. And it's clear you were under Discord's geass the same as all of us, otherwise you'd have remembered the Pegasi can -fly- and had little to fear."

My eyes narrowed. "And the Pegasi who had a wing broken in the hospital, or foals who were too young to use their wings yet?"

Rarity was silenced instantly.

"Well," Twilight said offer a hoof. "It was all a lie anyway. And Discord warped your thinking the same with all of us. So it's nothing to be ashamed of Dash."

"That's not the whole truth though." I confessed.

"What?" Twilight asked.

"I GOT TO CLOUDSDALE!" I shouted not caring who heard me outside or not anymore. "Discord congratulated me on getting there! Then he told everyone right there that I stabbed Equestria in the back to save them! They nearly all hated me! Then Discord made them all as insane as everyone in Ponyville while I stood there -begging- him to stop! Me! Rainbow Dash! Begging! And I -saw- and -heard- you guys when I left the maze! I -knew- what would happen! I figured we'd win anyway! Like we always do! After Discord left Cloudsdale saying it was all for -me- I tried to find you guys...and I saw you were all already as nuts as everyone else, so I just flew away again! I. Ran. AWAY!~ When I spotted you guys were yourselves again I PLAYED A PART! Guys I FAKED being delusional! I got the idea from Rarity's big rock!...I...didn't...I didn't want you all to hate me! You guys are the best friends I've ever had! I didn't want to lose that! I...I'm sorry! I'm so so sorry! I'm just so sorry!" My entire body was shaking. It was like pulling out a jagged dagger.

"You're saying," Rarity spoke frighteningly calm. "That you delayed the world being saved, Discord being sealed, DRAGGED ME AND PINKIE PIE ACROSS THE SKY, forced us to hold you down like a mad pony, because you were faking it?! I NEVER!"

I nearly cowered, instead I just waited for Rarity's hateful blow.

None came. Instead she just looked me in the face nose to nose. "How...how COULD YOU? Didn't you -trust us-? Didn't you -believe in us-? Didn't you know that we ALL WENT THROUGH THE SAME THING? Discord hurt us ALL RAINBOW! Have you looked around Ponyville lately? Do you think you're the only who was hurting?"

"Rarity." AJ said coming to my defense. Not sure how I feel about that. "I'm the Element of Honesty and Ah FORGAVE HER already for effectively lyin' through her teeth!"

"You knew?" Rarity asked stunned.

"Ah knew about it since Ah visited Celestia! And Ah've already forgiven her! So how about doing the generous thing Element of Generosity and forgivin' her too?"

"That's not a dog's whistle to get me to do what you want," Rarity said sharply. She then looked at me. She back hooved me, it hurt, but not nearly as much as it should have, she was holding back. "That wasn't for what you did while brainwashed by Discord. That was for delaying so long in telling us. Though I want you to remember: You could have gotten myself and Pinkie KILLED with your deception! Now will you stop this nonsense about feeling guilty over something that wasn't your fault?"

"That's just it! I lost my connection to my Element until Twilight's spell made me relive all the times I HAVE been true to you guys! Betrayal isn't betrayal unless it's your own choice right? That means no matter WHAT Discord did to me it must have been my choice!"

Twilight just stood back trying to process everything she was seeing. Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie had stepped back. AJ stood by my side. Rarity was not letting up.

"Will you stop being so ARROGANT that you think you're only one Discord's taint didn't effect?"

"That's just it! I think about it: yeah yeah I know not easy for me go ahead and joke! I go over it again and again, and I'd have to either betray you guys, Equestria, and the Princess, or betray my family, my home, and my people!" I'd give up my dreams of being a Wonderbolt of somepony anypony could give me an answer!

Twilight spoke using reason at me like it was sword. "If there's nothing you could have done differently then why are you beating yourself up over it?"

"Because we're the good guys! We're supposed to always win! No matter what! WIthout having to make -any- sacrifices! That's what we DO! To the moon!" I cursed.

AJ whispered. "No Rainbow...that's what them heroes in the storybooks do. Ponies like us? We make the choices so nopony else has to."

"But I'm LOYALTY guys! Or I'm supposed to be!" Give me a way out.


I took a few steps away from her stunned. AJ wasn't done. "I told you before Discord would have made you regret it no matter what choice you made!"

"But what about NEXT time? Or the time after that? Or the time after that?! I couldn't have done differently then any pony? Then why did the Element chose -me- or was I just available after the rest of you?!" My heart was pounding, my head hurt, my mouth was dry, my wings were rigid, the world was blurry. "I wish I had never won Year's Best Young Flyer! At least then Cloudsdale would have stayed just somewhere I happened to be from! With you and Gilda it was -easy- after I saw she was a worse jackass with feathers then I used to be! What's the point of being loyal to others if yer gonna have ta end up betraying one for the other?! You're the brains Twilight! Tell me!"

"There ARE no easy answers Rainbow! That's called life! I've had my nose rubbed in it a hundred times that no matter how hard I plan, something I didn't think of can go wrong! Every choice is different!"

"But was I supposed to do-?! What am I supposed to do? What am I going to do! If no matter what happens I betray someone how can I say I'm loyal to ANYONE!" My throat tightened till I couldn't breath! Everything was contradictions. I was trapped. I WANT OUT!

"Rainbow you're thinking in circles!" Twilight shouted.

"Rainbow...your colors," Fluttershy whispered in horror. I didn't care what she meant. I didn't care what any of them meant. I wanted an answer! Any answer! Just tell me something I can hold onto dammit!

And the confusion clear. I understand.

"What good are you, and WHAT GOOD AM I-?! If anypony couldn't have done better in Discord's trap then why should I be loyalty at all-!?" I snarled. I felt like my insides were on fire, followed by a feeling of dry-ice! The world's colors began to darken. The images I saw twisted about. A brainiac who was loyal to her studies until she betrayed them for her friends. An earth pony who betrayed her pride when her body betrayed her. A pink party animal who now betrayed who she had been for who she was. A white marshmallow who'd betray her business sense for her Element. And a yellow flower willing to betray who she was if it meant helping me along. THERE WAS NO LOYALTY WITHOUT BETRAYAL!

"Forget it. I don't need advice on loyalty from a pegasus who doesn't give a damn about Cloudsdale! A unicorn who'd see Canterlot burn before admit it was her roots, and another who pretends her parents don't exist! A pink idiot who abandoned her real family and a orange idiot who embodies honesty except when it's not convenient for her! None of you know a bucking thing about loyalty!!"

The world turned to shades of gray, then tinted red. I let out a sound that wasn't quite like that of a pony. It felt good!

I saw out of the corner of my eye my wings turn black and twist about becoming larger, like black smoke. I barely noticed in a reflective surface that my eyes had lost their centers becoming blank white as my teeth twisted into something sharp.

"Is she like you?" Fluttershy said to herself. Then her eyes narrowed. "No. This isn't from the old man. I can smell it! It's coming from her!"

I had no clue what she was blabbing about and no one tried asking her what she meant, everyone's attention was on me! Well. That's what I always wanted right?! I snarled again and dive bombed at Twilight, I'd make her shut up along with her useless answers! What did she know about me? What did anyone know about me?! Since when did ANYONE understand me?!

Stupid unicorn cheated and teleported out of my way. AJ rammed from the side and sent me spinning in the air knocking candy junk and a table over. "Sugarcube stop! You're BURYING YOURSELF!"

"Since when are YOU a know-it-all?!" I howled and flew tightly around her and rammed into her from behind knocking her to her knees.

"Is this what I felt different when I used the memory spell on her?" Twilight asked herself. Like I cared. Like I cared what ANYONE THOUGHT OF ME! I was me! Myself! A solitary ego! And I was more badass then any of these lamers put together! I'd make them see what loyalty was!

"Rainbow JUST STOP!" Rarity shouted as cloth drapes from around the room tried to tie me down. Not this time. I spin around pulling them from Rarity's control.

"JUST LET IT GO DASHIE!" Fluttershy shouted. Weren't any of them going to take this fight seriously?! "Fine we'll do it your way." She didn't sound like she was talking to me. She leapt at me head-first, but folded her wings at the last moment turning her head butt into a tackled me around my rear legs with her front hooves. "But on my terms!"

I tried to kick her away, but her grip was like a vice! Pst, if I could drag an Earth Pony and Unicorn along for a ride then what was another pegasus. Wait. Where was-

"SURPRISE!" Pinkie Pie in the blink an eye was right behind me. And she hugged me. Huh?

Fluttershy snarled at me, "If you choose not to keep wandering the maze OR go save your little homestead and just sat there: the old man would have said you quit the game anyway and ended the game right then and there and told you you had betrayed -both-, genius!" Huh? Was that really Fluttershy who said that? Confusion shook me.

And I noticed there was no force behind Pinkie Pie's hug...it was, gentle, warm, comforting. A cool spring rain that dosed the flames and a warm summer wind that blew away the cold.

I fluttered down. The colors of the world began to right themselves, thought a mist of gray remained. I looked at myself in Sugarcube Corner's polished floor. I saw a gray tinted rainbow colored filly of a pegasus mare who just wanted to know what she was supposed to do, who just wanted to understand what she was meant to do. No monster. No creature of darkness. No twisted thing that knew only how to betray. Had it even been real?

"Now you just listen to Auntie Pinkie Pie." Pinkie said in a strangely motherly tone I thought only Fluttershy could manage. "I'm going to tell you a bedtime story. And I want you to listen really good understand?"

I nodded numbly.

"Once upon a time, there was a donkey in a barn with two piles of hay. The donkey was the same distance from the two piles, and the two piles were exactly the same size, the tasted just as good, and they were just as nice. The donkey was hungry and wanted to eat them. Except he couldn't decide on which one to start with because they were exactly the same. So the donkey tried to figure out which one to eat first, but couldn't figure out which one it was supposed to eat first, unable to choose between them, so it starved."

I swore I saw AJ blush out of the corner of my eye.

"Then donkey never realized that by not making the decision of which piles of hay to eat first, it was failing to make the choice to eat at all. So it was making the choice to starve. So it ended up not having either. By not making a choice...you're still making a choice NOT to make it. And it cost the donkey by not making a choice. The donkey was too stubborn and proud to realize that. And what a silly donkey it was wasn't it?"

"Yeah." For the first time in my life, I no longer felt ashamed to cry. "WHAT A STUPID STUBBORN JACKASS!" I turned and hugged Pinkie Pie with tears in my eyes, and I LAUGHED! Pinkie Pie began laughing too. Followed by Fluttershy. Rarity and Twilight just politely chuckled while AJ sniggered.

I felt the spring rain again, then time washing away the grim, and the warm summer wind, this time tickling me on the inside. And the world was in its bright colors once again! Brighter somehow. So I have a really low selection of metaphors so sue me! Does that look like a poetry book on my butt to you?

Twilight being the brain queen had to have her say of course. "Rainbow. As long as you're loyal to more than one thing they WILL conflict, and they WILL be times when it'll be for ponies you love equally. But that doesn't make them less important!"

"And Dashie," Said Fluttershy kindly as always. "Ponies who weren't loyal would NEVER feel bad about having to betray one pony to save another. The fact you do and don't want the same thing to happen again proves you are loyalty."

"Is that really Pinkie Pie?" Rarity whispered to AJ thinking no one could hear her.

"Are you really Rarity?" AJ said simply not a hint of bad emotions in her voice.

"What is that supposed to be?"

"Just sayin', you think Pinkie's the only one whose changed? Miss 'givin' free sewing lessons to spoiled fillies who don't have a mom.'"

"How did you-"

"Does it actually matter? The point is Sugarcube, we've all been changing. We just saw it happen to Pinkie all at once."

Twilight would later tell me that she had noticed the same thing. And now that I think about it I did too. All of us did. But none of us talked about it much other than Rarity. I guess it all felt -natural-. I guess Twilight was a little scared about it reminded her of us acting different when Discord screwed with us. But I think she felt this wasn't a bad change.

We spent a hour or two just talking about this and that, just talking! We told jokes. We chatted about little nothings. We gossiped about ponies who were recovering along with us. We felt happy about those who were proving stronger than Discord's scars, and lousy for those who were still struggling. Rarity even chatted about how she and Sweetie were distant descendants of the legendary mythical Hippocampsi. I personally didn't believe her.

The Cakes didn't say a word about my episode, no way they didn't overhear it. I don't know if they blocked it out or were trying to just be polite. I actually asked for some paper and pencil. I don't write all that often. But I realized this was a letter that needed to be written. My friends were shocked when they learned who I was writing to, but I told them this was something I had to do. I remembered the tale of the loyal Samurai pony. Who stayed true to his master even though his master was bad because his master had no one else who could be there for him.

'Gilda. If you're ever willing to accept my other friends instead of ditching them, I know that we can still be friends too. We had plenty of good times and I want to think they meant something to you too like they do me. Waiting for you too. Rainbow Dash.' So I'm not a master of the written word, again, not my cutie mark. I figured it was best to keep it short anyway.

Rarity said, "You should have included 'and accept every other pony in Ponyville.'"

"Baby steps Rarity. baby steps," Fluttershy cooed, showing a weird hint of vanity when she glanced in a mirror.

So yeah. I finally forgave myself. Big whoop. I should have done this way back when I helped Scootaloo. I'm not the world's most clever pegasus. Yeah yeah I finally get the irony don't rub it in! Scootaloo saying how she was a run away and always did. I wonder what her parents are...hold on.

"Hey. Rarity. Applejack. You ever met Scootaloo's parents?"

"Not really. She just comes over to our place. She never talks 'bout'em." AJ said causally.

"Now you mention it. I've never met them either." Rarity said. "She gave me a note once about them agreeing to let Scootaloo sleeping over on occasion. But I can't say I've met them face to face."

I hugged each of my friends in turn, lost count, and hug Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie twice on accident and zoomed out. Classes were still on again off again with the teachers needing as much professional help as the kids, but I managed to track down Miss Cheerilee.

"Well, no, I've never met Scootaloo's parents. They were dreadfully sick on parent-teacher night so we had to do correspondence and they're usually out of town."

"What about when Scootaloo enrolled?"

"She just provided a letter from her father about her beginning attendance. Why, is something wrong?"

"No nothing! I just curious about my number one fan! Thanks a million! Gotta fly!"

I had a good idea of where I'd find her, and she was in the CMC clubhouse alright even though there was no meeting in attendance.

"Hey squirt!" I grinned and waved a hoof as I got inside the front door.

"DASH!" She fluttered her tiny wings and hugged me.

"Hey kiddo! You want to help me with a prank at my place? I need someone to do the grunt work and you seem eager to please!"

"ABSOLUTELY RAINBOW DASH!" She said practically jumping out of her skin in excitement.

She had just enough self control not to fall off as I took her to my place.

"So what do you need me to do?!" She asked eager to prove herself in any way she could.

"Oh, just help me write some fake letters to some of my friends. Think you can handle something like that?"

I saw her twitch for a moment before saying, "Sure! I bet I can give it a try!"

I led her to a table and took out some letters from friends, having their own way of not falling through clouds. I gave her some blank paper and a pencil.

"Okay, let's see how good you are first. Think you can copy Fluttershy's mouth writing?"

"You bet!" Scootaloo didn't even hesitate as she carefully examined Fluttershy's mouth writing and then copied it down to the little quiver she wrote on her 'Ys'.

Next I offered her one of AJ's written receipts. "Okay now show me Applejack."

She was able to copy it even easier than Fluttershy's.

"Okay. Now try this. It's Twilight Sparkles horn magic writing. Let's see you handle that!"

Scootaloo looked daunted, but she didn't give up, and with all the precision and care of a safe cracker began to slowly copy Twilight's elegant penmanship.

Okay, now even I was impressed. I almost forgot the most important one.

I said quickly, "Okay think fast! Show me your dad's mouth writing!"

Scootaloo responded automatically as she wrote down in a completely different style then she normally used.

"That's great! You must have lots of practice at this!"

"Yeah lots! When Applebloom began asking why I wasn't in school and-" She caught herself. Too late. Got her.

"How long have you been without a family pipsqueak?" I ask in a rather serious tone.

Scootaloo looked cornered. She tried to leave, not escape, but still make tracks, I blocked off her exit.

The filly lowered her head. "Since before I meet Sweetie. They said they were going for something. For me to wait right where I was. They said for me not to feel bad about accepting anything nice people gave me but to be careful about going with them. I kept waiting. Then I ran away from that spot."

"Who else knows?"


"Let me guess. Sleep at the clubhouse right?"

"Beats sleeping under Luna's stars."

"You know there are adults who wouldn't be very happy about a little filly living on her own."

"I know! But I don't want to be put in the care of some ponies I don't even know or be taken back to Cloudsdale! I want to be with you! With Applebloom and Sweetie!"

I just looked at her. Then I went to a room I use to store my junk and began to toss it out onto the hallway.

"Dash?" The half-pint asked.

I didn't answer her. I just kept throwing my collection of junk out until there was enough space to trot and began to remold the floor clouds into something that resembled a mattress.

The squirt looked even more unsure. Maybe a little scared.

Finally slightly satisfied with my work I said, "A secret shared is a secret kept Scoots. If anyone asks, your parents are letting you live with me as my apprentice. Got it?"


"That's just what you're going to tell them. Got it?"

"G-Got it!" She shifted her legs together.

"Now come on, let's get your junk moved from the clubhouse to here, I'm sure your friends will enjoy the extra room."


Then I changed tactics. "So how did things go when you told your friends?"

"They..." Scoots breathed out.

"You DID tell them right?" I glared at her.

"I TOLD THEM RIGHT AFTER I LEFT YOU! First Applebloom then Sweetie! Miss Rarity Belle wasn't happy about the interruption."

Rarity's surname was Belle? Okay. Made sense. Moving on.

"You're a lot braver than me kiddo. A whole lot braver."

"Braver than you? That's impossible!"

"You'd be surprised Kiddo. So tell me what happened."

"They said there was nothing to be angry about! They figured that at least the way I did it I might have run into some help! They said they weren't mad or anything!"

I laughed and messed up her mane. "See kiddo? Nothing to worry about. The longer you keep things bottled up, the worse they get." Ugh. Gag me. At least none of the others were here to hear me say that!

"Right Rainbow Dash! You're the smartest pony ever!"

I didn't try to contradict her this time. She needed something to believe in too.

I hug her. She hugs back.

Ya know. Right about now it hits me what I've done. I've taken on responsibility for a filly I only considered a convenience or an annoyance before. I'm pretty sure I just trapped myself.

But you know what? If this is being trapped, then by being trapped is how I'm finally free.