• Published 25th Sep 2012
  • 5,646 Views, 123 Comments

Sororal Instincts. - Reptilicus

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The dust of a long sleepless night.

The early morning silence at Sugarcube Corner had long since been broken by the awakening of the Cake family. Carrot Cake had begun preparing the shop for opening, though they weren't expecting much business due to the snow. The "Open" sign was sitting against the window, barely visible over the deep snow on the other side. Carrot Cake had situated himself on the floor feeding a bottle of formula to his newborn son Pound Cake. The other half of the twins, Pumpkin, was riding Gummy across the shop as if he were some sort of mighty steed. Gummy didn't seem to mind, but then again his blank face made reading any emotion rather difficult on the small alligator.

Pinkie had spent the morning awkwardly explaining to Mrs.Cake that Rainbow Dash would be staying with her in the upstairs apartment along with Scootaloo who was starting to sniffle and sneeze. Mrs.Cake had at first been rather reluctant to have two ponies she barely knew staying in the shop. Particularly Rainbow Dash, whom Carrot Cake had on more than one occasion deemed a "hoodlum" in conversation. Pinkie usually convinced him otherwise mentioning the times Dash had saved her or her friend's lives with an act of bravery. At the moment Pinkie and Mrs.Cake were looking through a very dusty cardboard box of young foal's winter clothing that she had brought up from the cellar. Most of these belonged to Pinkie Pie when she had been much younger. Browsing through its contents had been filling Mrs.Cake with a sort of sad nostalgia.

"Oh I can't believe you used to be this small. You were so tiny and you used to sleep curled up on my tummy. You would make little neighs whenever we burped you." tears had formed in Mrs.Cake's eyes as she dragged out the tiny sweaters and raincoats, socks and hats from inside the box. Each one bringing new memories of the days when her adopted daughter had been small.

"Awww!" Pinkie cooed as Mrs.Cake tearfully embraced her while pulling out all the child clothes.

Every article of clothing freed from the box almost immediately found its way into Pinkie's hooves and moments later draped onto Scootaloo in some way. Despite the knowledge this whole escapade was designed to keep her from getting sick, Scootaloo's face resembled that of a pony who had been forced to eat a lime: sour. Her original protests of not wanting to take any of Pinkie's old clothes had fallen upon deaf ears and now she found herself trapped in a frustrating game of dress-up. At the moment Scootaloo looked like some sort of deranged clown with all the mismatched garments on her body, which included 4 socks. One on each hoof and none of them matching. She growled under her breath, wishing Rainbow Dash would return and free her from this torture.

Celestia must have been listening to her prayer because not a moment later the door burst open and Rainbow Dash came trotting in, a large bulging saddlebag strapped to her side and a heaving paper bag clenched in her teeth. Scootaloos sour mood disappeared instantly and quickly ran forward to see her friend.

"Hey there, Squirt. I see someone found some clothes for ya." Rainbow snorted, trying to suppress a giggle at the expense of the clownishly dressed filly. "Hey Mister and Missus Cake. Hope you guys don't mind me staying here for a bit."

"Oh of course not Rainbow. You're Pinkie's friend! You're always welcome! Right, dear?" Mrs.Cake shot a narrowed glance at Mr.Cake who hadn't bothered to look up. He rolled his eyes and muttered, "Yeah, you can stay Dash."

Pinkie pranced up to Dash and seized her in a rib-shattering hug.

"What'd ya get for Looloo?" she asked, trying to shove her snout into Dash's saddlebag.

"Looloo?"

"Yep that's my new nickname for Scootaloo."

"You ok with that name, Scoots?"

"No."

"Yeah I figured as much."

Rainbow picked Scootaloo up and placed her on the table, once again surprised at how light the filly was. She eagerly watched Dash, her tail wagging, which caused the floppy back end of her green and white polka-dot hoodie to wobble comically about. Dash pulled a large jug out of her saddlebag and placed it on the table, moving over to the the kitchen and grabbing three wooden bowls. One of which she placed in front of Scootaloo and one for herself and finally one for Pinkie. She then grabbed two mugs out of the sink and placed them next to the bowls. Pinkie was excitedly sniffing the jug with a curious expression.

"Okay so this stuff, according to Applejack is called 'apple noodle soup'" Rainbow began. "I'm not quite sure how a soup could be made of apples and not be considered a dessert but apparently its actual food. Also she claimed its got all the vitamins and nutrients and other gobbeldygook a young pony should eat. It also has shell pasta in it and carrots and a bunch of spices for clearing up the sinuses. Weird foreign spices I think Zecora gave her. It smelled pretty funky to me but Applejack's never made anything that tasted bad before so, let's give it a shot."

"What about the baked bads?" Pinkie asked.

"What are baked bads?" Scootaloo said quietly while glancing at Pinkie. Anything with the word 'bad' in the title was usually awful unless it was a television show about chemicals and bald dads.

"Ugh. Scoot a while ago Applejack and Pinkie managed to turn worms into like....cookies or muffins or something. Like actual living worms in the food." Rainbow shook her head.

"There aren't worms in this soup, right?" Scootaloo asked, backing away from the jug, glaring at it as though might try to launch an attack.

"I sure hope not!" Pinkie quipped, licking her lips hungrily and bouncing in her seat.

Dash tore the cork off the top of the jug then clenched her teeth around the handle, tilting and pouring a large amount of the steaming contents into Scootaloo's bowl. It gave off a pungent smell of apples and peppers.

"Aren't you gonna have any?" Scootaloo asked as Rainbow sat back in her chair, watching intently.

"This stuff's mostly for you, kid. Plus I want to know if it tastes any good before I ....partake." The reality was of course, Dash was sure it would taste bad and wanted her friends to test it first.

Scootaloo put her forelegs on the edge of the large bowl, lifting her body so she could see into the shifting soupy contents within. The smell was heavenly. A pungent delicious aroma that filled her nostrils and made her salivate. She slowly began to tilt the bowl so that the soup flowed towards her muzzle. But all at once she stopped and set the bowl back in place. She sat back down and looked up at Rainbow with a guilty expression.

"How much was this?" asked Scootaloo.

"I dunno. A couple of bits. Granny Smith gave me a huge discount since I'm a friend of the family." Dash answered back.

"Oh." Scootaloo sank into a sulk. "I don't really....want you guys to spend money on me."

"Oh c'mon, squirt. It's the least I could do after nearly freezing you."

"I'll try to pay you back for the soup eventually."

"What? Scoot, you're like...you have to be around the same age as Applebloom and she's like seven or eight. You shouldn't be worrying about paying for your meals. You're a little kid. That's something we big ponies have to worry about."

"I am a big pony." Scootaloo growled looking away from the bowl.

"Go on Looloo! Eat some!" Pinkie chirped, nudging the bowl closer to the overdressed orange filly.

"No." Scootaloo muttered, turning her body away from the bowl entirely and sulking. A loud gurgle sound escaped from her hungry tummy. "It's not fair that you guys have to pay for me."

Rainbow sighed and leaned her head in her hoof. "So you mean to tell me, that after saving your life and bringing you inside a dang bakery, that you wanna just sit there and starve? Starving inside a bakery? Do you get like...all the irony happening here, kid?"

There was no answer. Rainbow bent forward and blew a stream of air gentley on the steaming soup. Tendrils of steam wafted around Scootaloo, filling her nostrils with the pleasant aroma of the food. A bead of drool escaped the filly's mouth but she refused to turn around and accept this charity. She had her pride to maintain.

"Ugh. Pinkie I'm going to go upstairs and sort out the bedding issues for me and this kid. I can't sleep on that couch again, my right wing feels like someone stomped on it all night."

Rainbow huffily walked upstairs to Pinkie Pie's room. She glanced around at the mess. Toys, party pieces, and other assorted bits of junk were everywhere. Somewhere under it all was Pinkie's own bed. Against the far wall was a doghouse with the word "GUMI" scrawled on it with crayon. Tank, the tortoise was sitting near it happily chewing on a candy bar. With a quick trot Dash sidestepped the room and began grabbing some large plush pillows from the hallway closet. Rainbow preferred sleeping on clouds to sleeping on a mattress. These pillows would have to make a cheap substitute. But there weren't nearly enough.

Downstairs, the Cakes came to the realization that the infant twins had never seen snow before and this would be a perfect opportunity to let them experience it. Mrs.Cake bundled them up while Mr.Cake grabbed his old crank camera. Pinkie gave them all a hug as the four ponies went out the front door and into the bright new snow day, leaving Pinkie and Scootaloo alone downstairs.

A minute or so later Rainbow came trotting back down with Tank slowly plodding after her.

"Hey Pinkie I'm gonna need more pillows and.......what?" Rainbow was staring at her pink friend who at the moment was rolling back and forth on her hooves excitedly biting her lower lip with a look of excited glee.

"Look, come look. You have to see this. It's so cute." she whispered while grabbing Dash's leg and pulling her into the dining room.

The first thing Dash noticed as she entered the room was that Scootaloo was gone.

"Um...Pinkie where's Scoots?"

Pinkie smiled so large it threatened to tear her head in half and waved a hoof at the bowl. Rainbow Dash walked forward and immediately smiled at what she saw. At some point in her absence Scootaloo had managed to eat the entire full meal of soup, and currently was curled up inside the bowl snoring quietly to herself with a small content grin. It was heart-melting to say the least and Rainbow made a mental note to place that image somewhere in the top ten cutest things she'd ever seen.

"Well I guess she decided to eat after all." Rainbow quietly said as she picked the sleeping filly out of the bowl and gently placed the sleeping bundle on her back. "Too bad she's covered in soup now. I'm gonna go wash her off. Pinkie I need way more pillows for upstairs. I can't sleep on a mattress for weeks. It'll kill me."

The two friends began their descent upstairs. Tank found himself eating the soup left from Pinkie's bowl. He enjoyed the flavor. A tortoise of refined tastes, his old war buddies had always called him.

"I wonder what changed her mind." Dash thought out loud.

"She started eating it the moment you and the Cakes had left the room. She slurped really really loudly so I think she musta liked it a bunch. I think she just felt embarrassed to eat your food in front of you. I ate some too. It's pretty good soup, I'm gonna have to borrow the recipe."

"Yeah but we're just trying to help her. She shouldn't feel embarrassed about that."

"I think its the same with how you don't like being told what to do and how Applejack doesn't like having ponies help her on the farm even when she's really stressed."

"How is any of that the same, Pinkie?"

"Well....... all three of you think it makes you look less tough. Which is silly, I already know you're the toughest ponies in Ponyville." Pinkie chirped with a quick nuzzle on Dash's ear.

"Huh, I never thought about it that way."

Dash smiled at her friend. Pinkie was a strange Pony who seemed to lack common sense, but every now and then some brilliance would eek its way out of her mouth. She was like a magic eight ball full of parties and sometimes ineffable wisdom. But mostly parties.

********************************************************************

Scootaloo's feverish dreams were once again invaded by water, rainbows, and a familiar voice talking from what seemed far away. Upon realization she was in water again the young filly immediately woke up and panicked.

"GAH!" she screeched, flailing her legs and stubby wings, fighting against the vast dark ocean that threatened to consume her.

"Geez calm the heck down, Scoot! You're getting everything wet." Rainbow rebuked as she roughly scrubbed the squirming filly in the tub with a soapy rag.

"What happened?!" Scootaloo was still shouting at this point as she glanced wildly about.

"Uh, nothing you little nutcase. You fell asleep in your soup. So now I'm trying to get it off of you. Now hold still you have tons of crud behind your ear. Soup and dirt and Celestia knows what else. Your feathers are a mess, too. When was the last time you preened all your downy fluff? Its all stickin out everywhere."

It had taken a few moments but a click went off in Scootaloo's brain as to what exactly was happening. She was sitting in a bathtub. A very pink bathtub with a large tortoise sitting on the sink nearby. That must be Tank. And next to the tub was Dash who was trying to scrub Scootaloo's head with a rough washrag. Scootaloo immediately frowned and tried to move away. Having Dash get her food was bad enough, now her idol was washing her, making the foal feel even more helpless.

"I can clean myself off" she protested, although she couldn't rid of herself of the thought that she was slightly happy that someone had taken an interest in caring for her.

"I dunno, squirt. This ring in the tub says otherwise. I found a whole twig in your mane a bit ago. There was a caterpillar on it. When was the last time you washed up?" Rainbow was trying her best not to smile but every small wince Scootaloo made the wash rag scrubbed her head was just far too amusing. "How do you even wash up when you live in a treehouse anyway? Do you just paddle around in a pond and call it a day?"

"Well ya kinda." the tiny filly grunted as the soapy rag went into one of her ears, emerging with bits of dirt and tree sap caked on it.

"Yuck. Scoot do you know how many horrible germs and things are probably in ponds?" Rainbow grinned starting to wash the front of Scootaloo's face. Apparently the filly had reached her limit on this sudsy torture and smacked the large hoof what was rubbing her face, sending the washrag flying into the air where it landed on Tank who blinked and slowly retreated into his shell.

"QUIT IT!" Scoot shouted, shaking herself off. Small bits of water splashed all over the bathroom.

"Fine. Have it your way." Rainbow turned and began to walk out of the room. "I thought you wanted to hang out but...."

A small quiet muttering behind her was all the answer she needed. She turned her head to look behind herself and grinned.

"Thats the spirit, kiddo!" and with that Rainbow grabbed the showerhead and rinsed the filly off. "Alrighty lemme take a look at ya."

She reached into the tub and pulled the very slick drippy Scootaloo out, holding her up in mid-air for inspection. Dash quickly eyed Scoot up and down before setting her down on the floor. She grabbed Pinkie's hairdryer and quickly flicked it on. Within a minute the young orange horse was entirely dry. The effects of the hairdryer were evident as the scraggly orange hairs were sticking out in every possible direction, giving Scootaloo a distinctly 'fuzzy' appearance.

"There. Nice and clean." Rainbow announced looking down proudly at her handiwork. Hoofiwork? Scootaloo gazed over at Tank who still had the moist rag on his shell, then turned to Dash who was looking down at her with a slight smirk.

"Thanks." Scootaloo said while shuffling uncomfortably. "and.....sorry."

"It's ok Scoot." replied Rainbow in the gentlest voice she could muster. "I'm just trying to keep you healthy and safe."

"I don't need...." Scootaloo began. She looked away at the floor.

Rainbow leaned down and gently rubbed the frizzy orange mane before her with a hoof, smiling the nicest smile she could. For the first time in the last two days she had a good feeling about the next words she chose.

"It's alright. I know it feels weird to have someone care about what you do after you've been going solo for so long. Heck, I used to be the exact same way when I first moved here."

"Really?"

"Yep. After I got kicked out of flight school I came here to Ponyville. If it hadn't been for my old pal Fluttershy I probably never would have stopped being such a hermit. Just training all day and never talkin to anyone. She pretty much forced me to get out of the house and socialize. Now I have quite a few friends, some really good ones too. Better than Gilda ever was anyway. And you know what? It makes me really happy."

Scootaloo's eyes were bugging out. This was the most personal information she'd ever been told by any pony. And it was coming from her hero. And the best part was, her hero honestly cared about her. It wasn't just guilt that was making her give Scootaloo special treatment. Warm emotions flowed through the surprised filly and she found herself hugging Rainbow Dash's leg before she could stop herself. She sneezed rather loudly, causing Dash to grin.

"Yeah, yeah." Dash chuckled. "Let's get you dressed in something warm before Applejack and Applebloom get here."

Scootaloo looked up, her mouth agape. Dash seemed confused then realized she'd never told Scootaloo about today's plans.

"They're coming over in a bit, squirt. We can chill with them. Listen to AJ drawl about apples for a few hours while I pretend I'm not bored."

Both ponies giggled slightly at the statement. Tank did not. He had lost the ability to giggle during the great tortoise war. Nah that's bull. The reality was he didn't understand why it was funny. He is a tortoise.


********************************************

Rarity and Applejack stood on the freshly shoveled path to the front door of Sugarcube Corner. Rarity as always, looking her best with a striking violet coat with dark navy blue buttons. A matching violet toque on her head with a white band on the brim. Her younger sister, Sweetie Belle was wearing a similar but much smaller outfit with sky blue highlights. She was currently struggling with her own toque which was a bit too large for her head and was covering her eyes. Applejack was in the same grey hooded sweater she had worn earlier that day, seeing no reason to dress up for a casual visit. Applebloom had been bundled up by Granny Smith, whom as grandmothers tended to do, had overdressed the child to keep her warm. Appleblooms entire head body was covered in a large green parka, with a thick wool yellow scarf over all that. From far away she looked like some sort of deranged cloth slug that was slowly sliding its way down the road in the company of the three horses.

Mrs.Cake opened the door to the bakery as the four approached. Sweetie Belle's toque had successfully managed to block her vision as she scuttled into the doorway. Veering off from the other three, the small white unicorn slammed her head into the one of the support beams, and proceed to topple over rubbing her head.

"Nice hat, Sweetie!" Scootaloo called out from somewhere above. Sweetie pulled her toque off and tilted her head upwards. Scootaloo was sitting smugly on the backside of Rainbow Dash, who in turn was laying smugly across a truss below the ceiling.

"Oh Sweetie, you aren't hurt are you?" Rarity cooed in her elegant voice, a look of concern etched on her beautiful and heavily powdered features. Her long purple curls flopped around before springing back into position as she helped her little sibling stand upright. A small spark of blue magic shot out from the end of Rarity's horn, levitating Sweetie's hat into the air where it folded itself quickly into a square and crammed itself into a pocket on her coat.

"Hey Rarity!" Pinkie shouted, appearing seemingly out of nowhere and pulling the white unicorn into a rough embrace.

"My goodness! Hello Pinkie. Dear! Dear, you're wrinkling my coat. Oh goodness, Pinkie you look pale. Are you getting sick?"

"Oh Rarity, it's so pretty!" exclaimed Pinkie as she circled Rarity. "Did you make it?"

"But of course! I've made one for Fluttershy and Twilight as well. I've been making one for you too but I've been stuck deciding what color to make the trim. It's a very deep pink, you know. Almost red, really."

"I assume you didn't make any of those coats for me or AJ?" snickered Rainbow from above. Rarity raised her eyebrows, unamused.

"I know very well that neither of you would be caught dead in something as florid as this cozy number. However, it is Hearths-Warming Eve soon and I do have a small surprise for you!" she retorted. With another spark of magic a knitted beanie flew out of a small purse strapped to Rarity's coat. It zipped through the air landing on Rainbow's head. It was a dark blue beanie with two holes on the top for a pony's ears to jut out of. It had two stripes of color along the base, sky blue and white. And in the center forehead area was a small yellow and red lightning bolt, very similar to Rainbow's own cutie mark.

"Ohmygosh! Ohmygosh! Ohmygosh!" squeaked Rainbow. With a small leap she tumbled through the air from the truss, sending Scootaloo flying. With the sort of poise only a trained athlete could pull off, Rainbow landed perfectly on her back hooves in front of Rarity, extending one arm to hug her fashionista friend, and using the other to snatch the falling Scootaloo out of the air who giggled madly at the sudden excitement. "This is so perfect Rarity. I wish I could see it with the scarf you made me last year. I kinda lost it yesterday."

"Well ah 'spose its a good thing we found it on the way over here then ain't it?" said Applejack who had been busy trying to unwrap her nearly immobile sister from the massive parka that consumed her. Applejack tugged at something inside her sweater and with a quick flick her head tossed Rainbow's old colorful scarf back to her. "I think whoever was cleanin' the roads saw it and figured it belonged to someone. Just tossed it on the side of the road."

Rainbow set Scootaloo down and gleefully wrapped her beloved scarf around her neck. She then quickly darted to the nearest reflective polished table to admire it on the shiny wood finish.

"Howdy Scootaloo!" cried Applebloom, finally free of her parka. She tackled the small orange pegasus, and was immediately followed by Sweetie Belle. Pinkie leaned down to the trio of little fillies.

"Hey why don't you three go play with the twins? I'm sure they'd love to have three big sisters to have fun with!" Pinkie smiled as the three scampered off. Her smile melted away a bit as she noticed the look of concern on Rarity's face.

"Darling, Applejack has informed me that Rainbow is staying here with you for the winter. And for some reason you're keeping Scootaloo here as well? Her parents were fine with this? It strikes me as rather odd. Neither of you have ever babysat any of the three previously."

"Rarity," began Pinkie. "I'm not really sure myself. Rainbow saved Scootaloo from freezing but Scoot got really really sick. So she rushed here and I went and got a doctor to come over and we were both really scared cause Scootaloo wasn't moving. Then we got her to wake up and the Doctor told us we need to take care of Scootaloo. So I told Rainbow to find out who Scootaloo's parents were and then she tried but she wouldn't tell me what the answer to the question was. And so we've been keeping Scootaloo here and then Rainbow went to Applejack's house and got soup and then she came back and we ate the soup. It was really good soup, Applejack you need to teach me how to make it. Then after that Rainbow told me Applejack was coming over to visit so I started preparing a dinner and then you both showed up here with your little sisters and then Sweetie Belle bumped her head and then you gave Rainbow a hat and mphmdmdmmphh-"

"Alright dearie, that's quite enough." sighed Rarity who had put a hoof over Pinkie's mouth to stem the flood of dialogue that was spewing forth.

"Rainbow we really need to talk about this." Applejack called to Rainbow who was still admiring her scarf and hat.

Rainbow floated back, an innocent smile on her face. "Talk about what, AJ?"

"We need to talk about this whole situation you've gotten yerself and Pinkie into."

"You know you girls don't have to stand near the front door chatting all day." called Mrs.Cake who was coming out of the cellar with a large bag of flour on her back. "Feel free to use the den if you want. Nobody else is going to."

Rainbow sighed and looked at her three friends. Pinkie and Rarity both stared right into her eyes, a look of worry on both of their faces. Applejack's was more of a look of frustrated annoyance. As much as Rainbow had been wanting not to discuss this, she needed to tell her friends SOMETHING to try to clean up the situation.

"Alright. Fine. Let's go talk about this in the den."