• Published 12th Mar 2013
  • 1,651 Views, 120 Comments

Secluded Once More - AgentSnail



With Dash and Jason re-drafted into the military, Scootaloo is left alone, without that spark that made her life turn around. Now she's back where she started, and the chances that her situation's going to get better don't look good,

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Two Days Later

Two Days Later

"Scootaloo, pay attention!" Cherilee reprimanded from the front of the room, tapping a hoof impatiently on the chalkboard. Scoots groaned and looked up, forcing herself to look interested. Ugh, math. She honestly didn't know why Jason liked the stupid subject. Sure, it wasn't hard, but it was soooo boring. She sighed, sinking lower into her desk.

Why did they have to leave? It wasn't fair. Now she was stuck here, not even able to come along. And all she had to talk to them was this crummy pad of paper. She debated pulling it out of her saddlebag to send them a message, but considering the message from last night about the mission, she figured they'd still be sleeping. She cringed. If they were even alive. Sweetie giggled from next to Scoots; she had managed to balance a textbook on Snails' head without him noticing. Scoots couldn't help but let out a chuckle. She pulled out the pad of paper, resigned to at least sending them a message asking how they were.

How did the attack go? Did you save the ponies? Are you okay? Scoots stuck the pencil in her mouth for a moment, trying to think of something else to write.

"Scootaloo, why aren't you paying attention again?" Cherilee asked.

"Uh, I was, uh..." She replied, unsure of how much she should say.

"You were doodling on this pad of paper?" She walked over and picked the pad off Scoots' desk before the filly could react, bringing it back to the front of the room.

"No, Miss Cherilee, you don't understand." The teacher looked down at the pad, flipping a couple pages over, finding them all blank except for the words Scoots had written.

"You're right, I don't. Care to explain?" She waved the pad of paper, waiting for an explanation.

"Um..." Scoots replied. Cherilee looked back at the paper and jumped as new words appeared.

"Holy horseapples, what?!?! How? Scootaloo, explain this right now!"

She squirmed in her seat for a moment before relenting with a sigh. "Fine. My parents left to go fight in the war, and they gave me that so that I wouldn't be alone." That seemed to throw Cherilee for a loop. She looked at the pad again, then back at Scoots.

"I see, magic. You can have this back after class Scootaloo, I'm sorry they had to leave." Cherilee set the pad on the corner of her desk before returning to her teaching.

"Yeah, me too." Scoots muttered, annoyed at her teacher. She heard some characteristic giggling after some hushed conversation, where she distinctly picked up the words 'blank flank'. Diamond Tiara...

Scoots looked over at the clock, sighing a little when she realized that there were only a couple minutes left of school before she got to go out to recess. And have no fun later today, she realized. Applebloom and Sweetie Belle were both grounded after their 'Cutie Mark Crusaders Bomb Builders' experiment yesterday. Scoots had just found an old, unexploded flash-bang in the house, and brought it over to her friends. They had gone into the park to test it, and had thrown it a little ways away to no effect.

Then a crow came along and picked up the container, rising in elevation and coasting over the Ponyville town square. At that point the crow seemed to recognize that the canister wasn't prey, and dropped its payload. And so they watched, wide eyed, as the flash-bang descended behind a building and the square lit up in brilliant light. A huge boom sounded slightly afterwards, leaving their ears ringing slightly. It had taken all of thirty seconds for a disheveled Rarity and Applejack to make their way out of the square and over to the fillies, who were still just as wide eyed as before.

She sighed again as she came back to reality, and rested her head on a hoof. She couldn't stand school, and usually the things she was going to do after she left made waiting even harder, and the fact that Cherilee had taken the pad of paper didn't help. She hadn't even told her what it said.

The bell rang, and she got up, turning to pack away all of the things on her desk before she left. She had already forgotten some things once, and even though she came back t get them, they had been stolen more than a few times. Scoots turned away from her bag, moving towards Cherilee's desk to grab the pad of paper. She froze. It wasn't there.

"Miss Cherilee, where's my pad of paper?"

"Why, it's right--" Her brow furrowed, and she dug around on the desk for a few moments.

"You let it get STOLEN?!?!"

"Scootaloo, I'm sure it's around here somewhere. Besides, why would anypony want to steal that anyway?"

"I-- I don't know. But it's gone so somepony must've taken it." She felt her eyes start to tear up. "And it's the most valuable thing I own."

"I'll ask around Scootaloo," Cherilee mussed up the filly's mane with a hoof. "Nothing's going to happen to it." The filly saw Cherilee bite her lip nervously. So then it wasn't fine.

"What am I supposed to do then? What if they're dead and I just don't know it?" Cherillee hung her head, letting out a sigh.

"All I can do is call them in tomorrow. There's nothing I can do to get it back until then." Scoots' eyes fogged over, and she opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. She tried again, before turning and running out the door, past her friends.

"Scoots, where are you going?" Sweetie yelled after the filly. Scoots didn't respond, there was nothing they could do anyway, considering they were still grounded. And now she had to find the paper and get it back by herself. It wasn't fair. She choked back a sob, running into town. She stopped to wipe her tears, she needed to be strong through this, not act like some kinda foal.

She broke back into a gallop, realizing after the fact that she didn't actually know where she was going. At least she knew who she had to find, nopony else would have taken the papers. But if she was going to get this back, she needed a plan. Jason and Dash'd done that in Canterlot and things had worked out, so she may as well emulate success. She pushed through the door of Sugarcube corner, wiping another tear out of her eye.

Scoots jumped into one of the booths, pulling out a piece of paper and writing her name along the top out of habit. She started drawing a few arrows and lines, assuming that Silver Spoon would be stuck to Tiara like glue, just as she normally was. But whatever she did, even if there was favorable terrain or cover, she didn't know much about fighting, and taking on the both of them would be a longshot, if not impossible. Even if only a little of Tiara's bragging about taking martial arts was true, that would only make things harder.

So what then? Things were only looking bleak. A glint of pink out of the corner of the filly's eye alerted her to Pinkie Pie's presence, and Scoots redirected her attention.

"Can I getcha something?" The party mare asked, bouncing slightly.

"No, I'm just trying to figure something out." She said, trying to give Pinkie a hint. She didn't want a repeat of the whole flat mane disaster.

"Ooh, is it a brain teaser, I love those! Lemme see!" She grabbed the paper off the table excitedly and stared at it, her expression going from happy to serious in an instant. She turned it sideways in her hooves, then upside down, trying to make sense the arrows and letters.

"Confused yet Pinkie?" Scoots asked, trying to figure out an alternate reason that didn't involve telling the mare that it was for the purpose of beating up Diamond Tiara.

"What is it, a treasure map?"

"Yeaaaaah. Let's go with that."

"Oh, can I come? Can I? I like treasure."

"I would love to bring you along Pinkie, but I'm trying to get my cutie mark in following cryptic maps, and if you were to help I may not get it." She warily watched Pinkie's mane. Don't go flat, don't go flat...

"Okay! Tell me how it goes!" She bounced away, and Scoots let out a sigh of relief. She picked up the paper, still unsure how she could even go about getting her only connection with her parents back. No friends left, nopony that could help her. Funny how she was just as lonely as before all this, but she only felt worse.

She got up and left, pushing through the door slowly. Scoots turned down the street, at more of a loss for a destination than she had been before. She looked back up, narrowing her eyes as she caught sight of Daimond Tiara and Silver Spoon a ways down the street. So suddenly, she had something to do.

The pair moved down the street, laughing about some sort of inside joke. Scoots moved behind a building, then across the street to a position behind a cart. The owner gave her a snort before he started to move it down the street, giving her a lucky break as it moved closer to Diamond. She could hear snippets of their conversation, quickly turning into a fairly easily discernible stream of words.

"Good job taking that thing, Tiara, that stupid blank flank didn't even notice."

"Like she even would, she's hardly the perceptive type."

"Why didn't you take something worth more than a pad of paper though?"

"Because, this is that little jerk's only connection to her moron of a father. That makes it priceless."

"Ha, wow, she's going to be so sad when she finds out, it'll be great."

"Those little fuckers." Scootaloo muttered under her breath, deciding to use one of Jason's words. They were a lot more satisfying, at least in her opinion. The cart stopped and the two fillies continued their trek, Diamond pointing towards a group of trees in the park.

Scoots waited until they had disappeared into the trees before she moved from behind her cover and took off, fluttering into the air and quickly gaining altitude. She navigated over to the copse of trees, landing carefully on one of the outer oak tree branches and making her way towards the trunk. She could see Tiara and Spoon below, giggling as Diamond took the pad of paper out of her saddlebag and tossed it onto the ground in front of her hooves, knocking up a small cloud of dust.

"The nice thing about this, Silver, is that we can kill two birds with one stone. Think about how worried we can make that terrible excuse for a pony. Or whatever he is." She started scribbling away, just as Scoots slipped on her branch. She caught herself with a couple wing beats, but the damage had been done.

"Did you hear that?" Silver Spoon asked, looking around. But Scoots was already gone, tears streaming down her face. She flew for a while, not really keeping tabs on the time. She landed in another small group of trees, curling up at the base of a particularly large one and letting herself finally break down.

She wept, still unable to get the loneliness out of her system. She couldn't help but feel resigned, there was nothing she could do without help, and she didn't have any, whatsoever. Even worse was the damage Diamond could do to make Jason worried about her. It wasn't fair, why did she deserve to have this happen, especially with all she'd already been through.

"Scootaloo, is that you?" She froze, wiping her tears away hastily as she looked around. "Up here." She looked upwards, into the branches of the tree she was slumped against, and watched as a foal from her class fluttered down. Rumble, if she remembered correctly. So great, another thing to add to the list of terrible things that had happened today, some boy saw her being weak.

"Why are you here?" She asked, none too kindly.

"I dunno, I heard crying and I came over."

"Just leave me alone."

"But what's wrong?"

"You wouldn't understand!" She yelled, her eyes tearing up again. She turned away, prepared to make a break for it, until Rumble grabbed her tail in his mouth. "Let me go!"

"Noht untir you terr me wharts wrong!" She gave another flap of her wings, dragging him forward slightly but not loosening his grip, as far as she could tell. Scoots slowed her attempts, landing back on the ground carefully.

"They're gone."

"Who?"

"My parents, they left for the war, and now I'm all alone and I'm just so--" She stomped on the ground, shaking free a couple angry tears. She felt a pair of hooves wrap around her neck, and barely got past her immediate response to push him away.

"I understand." She shoved him off, knocking him over onto the ground.

"No you don't, nopony does. You don't know what I've gone through, and you never will." That seemed to make him stop for a few seconds, as he tried to formulate a response.

"I know enough."

"How is that possible?!?! You have a family!!"

"Sure, in Canterlot. The only pony I've got here is my brother, Thunderlane."

"So then what's the problem?!?!"

"He left for the war too, I'm the only one here." He looked to the side and sighed, and there was a lengthy silence.

"I-I'm sorry." Scoots choked out, a few more tears sliding down her face. "I'm selfish, I keep feeling like this is all about me, and-- I'm just sorry." She drooped her head, watching a few more tears slide off her muzzle before those same hooves wrapped around her back.

"It's okay, Scootaloo." She caught herself, still trying to hide her tears, although she wasn't sure why at this point. Scoots pressed her muzzle into his shoulder, wetting her shoulders as she allowed the last of her emotions to break free. They stayed there under the trees for quite a while, as Scoots' tears slowly halted.

"Why?" She asked after she was sure she had control over her voice again. It still wavered a little, much to her annoyance.

"Why what?" He asked, meeting her eyes shyly.

"Why do you care?" Scoots tried again, wiping a hoof across her eyes.

"I dunno, I just-- you were always the one to go it alone, the toughest out of all of us. I don't think anypony really noticed, and I know we haven't really had any contact with one another, but that doesn't mean I want to see you like this."

"Y-you really think I'm tough?"

"Well, yeah. Y-you were on your own for almost as long as I've been alive, and you never asked for help or complained, you just took it in stride, and I kinda look up to you for it." Scoots gasped. He looked up to her?

"Rumble?" He looked over, briefly meeting her gaze.

"Yeah?"

"I need your help." She hated the words as soon as they left her mouth. The four words that oozed weakness, that meant she wasn't able to do something on her own. But Jason had constantly been toting up the idea of teamwork, and he hadn't been troubled in recruiting hundreds of ponies for help. So is that what this was? A strategic addition? It sounded a whole lot better than 'help'.

"Y-you need my help?" He paused, drooping his head. "I dunno, I can't really do much of anything. I don't have my cutie mark either." Scoots giggled and stood up, offering him a hoof.

"Jason says those don't really mean much anyway. You have the talent, not the cutie mark." The colt stared off into space, as it contemplating her words.

"Really?"

"Well, he doesn't have a cutie mark and he's commanding a bunch of ponies pretty well, so I'd say so."

"Wow, I just never thought..."

"Takes a lot of pressure off, right?" She giggled again, glad that she was finally feeling better. "So do you want to help me out?" There was that word again...

"What do you want me to do, exactly?" He asked, looking at her cynically.

"You know how Cherilee took away that pad of paper?"

"Yeah...?"

"Well Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon stole it, and I really need it back. I just don't want to be as lonely as I was before, and at the same time be in the dark about their health."

"So we're stealing it back?"

"Well here's the thing, we may need to fight them, and I can't do that alone, so could you just back me up?"

"But I don't know how to fight!" He complained, scraping his hoof along the ground nervously.

"I'll teach you! Dash showed me some stuff, it's more defensive, but it'll do." She set her stance. "Come at me."

"You sure?"

"Yeah, I won't punch you too hard."

"That's not what I really meant..." He paused, setting his footing as well.

"Anytime today, Rumble."

"Oh yeah, sorry." He had a few false starts before he ran towards Scoots and threw a halfhearted punch towards her shoulder. She awkwardly dipped out of the way, hitting him in the side and watching as he landed sideways.

"You okay?" She asked. The volume of the 'thump' when he'd hit the ground was a little unnerving.

"Yeah, that was awesome!" He got back up and dusted himself off, running back over. "So what do you do, exactly?"

"Well, here's what Dash said, basically. She uses knives, but that's more for killing than just beating somepony up, so that isn't a big deal. We also won't need to do anything if it turns out they're bluffing." She sighed. "What she said, though, was that she basically watches the shoulder and torso, because they'll put weight behind a punch or thrust. So it's basically dodging until they end up undefended like you were. Then you just jab or punch."

"Your parents are so cool." Rumble said, his eyes gaining that same far off look again.

"I know, right? Now I'll throw one at you, remember what I said, watch the shoulder." She lunged without warning, punching his shoulder as he managed to at least move his face out of the way. "I'm going to keep doing this until you get it." Scoots, said, giving him a second before lunging again. They continued their lighthearted sparring for a while, as Rumble dodged more and more of the attacks, occasionally retorting with a light jab that she knew was unenthusiastic.

"Rumble, when you're fighting them, don't hold back. You can't dodge forever. You should've seen Jason after he got stabbed, it looked horrible, and I was there a day after it happened."

"That's only a day, what could've possibly changed?"

"He heals fast. Oh, and he heals other ponies, like he healed Applebloom, and Dash, and--"

"Okay, I get it. We might want to get this stuff back before they move, if they haven't already." She giggled. "What's so funny?" He asked.

"I just thought today was going to be so terrible, but I'm going to get that stuff back, and I have a new friend." She went silent, as if contemplating something in her head. "I'd have to run this past Sweetie Belle and Applebloom, but if you want to join the Cutie Mark Crusaders, I'd be happy to have you around."

"Weren't you the ponies that caused that explosion in the town square?"

"Ha! Yeah. It was supposed to go off in the park but stuff went wrong."

"If you do stuff like that, it sounds like a lot of fun." Scoots smiled, and clopped her hooves together.

"Great! The clubhouse is just inside Sweet Apple Acres, you can see it from the road, kind of."

"Cool, tomorrow?"

"Yeah, tomorrow's the weekend, so Sweetie and Applebloom shouldn't be grounded anymore."

"So is there a plan in place for taking care of Diamond Tiara?"

"I'll explain it on the way, come on!" She turned and took off, turning her head to make sure Rumble had followed. She wobbled a little as she turned back forward, quickly flying towards the place Diamond Tiara had been.

___________________________________________________________

Scoots moved a little further along her branch, positioning herself directly above Tiara. She looked up and checked that Rumble had taken his respective place above Silver Spoon, noticing his apparent nervousness. She plucked a leaf off the tree branch, making sure Rumble could see the foliage. She had made the signal that when she dropped the leaf, they'd spring. Where it went from there, she had no idea.

"Who does he think he is, acting like I'm not the one with the power?" Diamond asked.

"He's probably just bluffing. Either way he knows we have possession of this thing, and that means he doesn't know how Scoots is doing."

Scoots let go of the leaf, and they both sprang. Rumble had mentioned that they could get in trouble, and she had to say he had a point there. So let them strike first, she said. 'It's only self defense if they start the fight'.

She landed heavily on the ground, scooping up the pad of paper, carefully tossing it behind her and taking a defensive stance.

"Oh, look who it is. Scootaloser. What are you going to do, there's only one of you." Rumble landed behind them, making enough of a noise for the pair to jump and quickly turn around. Diamond only smirked wider. "Two losers, you're still no match for either of us."

"Yeah, we know how to fight!" Silver Spoon yelled, clearly a bit less confident.

"You get Rumble, Spoon, I'll get this stupid blank flank." Scoots shifted her stance, lowering herself a little further as the other filly approached. Diamond stopped just in front of her, staring into Scoots' eyes. She let out a giggle, before stepping forward and throwing a punch, which Scoots easily faded away from.

She dodged several more, only serving to annoy Diamond Tiara further as her hooves only connected with thin air. Rumble seemed to be doing about the same, before he planted his hind legs and ran his elbow into Silver's face, knocking her a few feet back through the air. Scoots returned her attention to Diamond just in time to dodge another swing, before Scoots felt her hoof slip, and suddenly she was on the ground.

She had stepped on the pad of paper and lost her footing, and managed to get up most of the way before a hoof finally connected with her muzzle. She recoiled in pain, holding a hoof to her nose as another hoof hit her across the cheek. Scoots watched a few drops of blood liberate themselves from her muzzle and fly a few feet before landing on the pad of paper.

Scoots hastily dodged a third punch before deciding she'd had enough and throwing a jab straight into Diamond's muzzle. The bully recoiled, and Scoots struck again, hitting her across the cheek and under the chin immediately after. Diamond threw a punch from the side, hitting Scootaloo's foreleg as she blocked the punch, before she turned on a fore hoof and bucked into the other filly, sending her flying.

"J-just take the thing." Diamond said, putting a hoof to her split lip. "You win, okay?"

"Oh sure." Scoots walked over to the pad of paper, flipping to the back page and picking up a pencil off the ground. "Just sign that this was your fault and that we were acting in self defense." She tossed over the pencil and held out the paper, which the filly signed resentfully. "This better not happen again, got it?" She nodded, a tear leaking out of her eye. Scoots almost felt a pang of guilt before the pain in her muzzle flared up again.

"Scoots, you okay?" Rumble asked, a bruise showing up on one of his cheeks already.

"Yeah, we can go to my house to get ice and stuff if you want." She took off, wingbeats behind her notifying her that he had taken off.

"Sure, thanks for having faith in me Scoots." He said once he had caught up.

"What? I'm just glad you helped me out, nopony else would've. Thanks Rumble."

"It's no trouble, just helping a friend."

"Yeah...friend. Thanks."

"For what?"

"Being there for me, you're not half bad, you know that?"

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Author's Note:

So, here it is, finally. I've been working steadily on it for about a week and a half, which resulted in me only having about 1400 words the night before. So here it is, in all of its EXPANDED glory. Although I guess it still isn't all that long. Writing is hard.

I guess I'm not sure when I'm going to follow up on this, I'll have to see.

Feel free to make or suggest cover art, I'm not sure what to put.

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