Rough and Tumble

by Cosmonaut

First published

Young romance unfolds in this shipping story between Scootaloo and Rumble

It's Rumbles' first day of school after moving from Cloudsdale to Ponyville. Everything should be going fine. However... at the local bullies' instigation he finds himself embroiled in a race with Ponyvilles pluckiest flightless Pegasus...

Edited by 59caddyyel

School Daze

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“Wake up, Rumble! You are not gonna be late for your first day of school.”

Thunderlane stood over the bed and gently shoved Rumble. “C’mon! If I have to get up this early so do you!”

The still sleeping Pegasus stirred under the blue and gold Wonderbolt patterned covers. With some more pushing, he finally turned over and yawned, stretching his limbs. Rumble rubbed his cheek and blinked his light purple eyes.

“Five more minutes,” he croaked, reaching for his water bottle by the side of his bed.

Thunderlane sighed. “No. Also you wouldn’t have such a dry mouth if you didn’t sleep with it open at night. I keep telling you not to do that.”

Rumble noisily gulped the last of his water. “Yeah, I know. Sorry. I just can’t help it.” He clopped his hooves together and looked down. “Should I sleep with the pillow on my face?”

“No, don’t. It’s not a big deal. Now c’mon, you have to take a shower and get cleaned up for your first day,” he motioned over his shoulder. “I got a raincloud in the shower for you. Even mixed it with some fog to warm it up.”

His little brother didn’t budge. Thunderlane sighed again, leaning closer to Rumble. “Listen, I talked to your teacher. Cheerilee seems like a really nice pony and she’s excited to see you in class today. It’s gonna be fine.”

“Okay,” said the younger Pegasus. He got up and trotted to the bathroom. The sound of rainwater filled the room and Thunderlane returned to the kitchen to finish his breakfast. It was just some toast and tea –light stuff at the start of the day. The rainwater abruptly stopped running. Rumble walked into the kitchen rubbing the towel over his dark mane. He still looked upset.

“Is something bugging you, little dude?” asked Thunderlane.

“Yeah… I’m scared. What if I mess something up on my first day?” replied Rumble, his ears flattening back.

“Don’t overthink it. Listen, everypony gets scared their first day. Heck, today is MY first day and I’m a little nervous.”

Rumble arched his thin eyebrows.

“Wait… today is your first day? What for?”

“Well,” Thunderlane began, scratching his mohawk. “I landed the weather patrol job. Today is my first day starting. It’s going to be a long day and I hear my boss is kind of a hard-a…s nails! Hard as nails!”

“Oh, so you’re going to be alone too?” asked Rumble.

“Not exactly. Flitter and Cloudchaser got the job too,” he chuckled, leaning back in his chair. “I want to be there early to make a good impression so we’re leaving in five.”

Rumble yawned and walked across the room to open a window. A cool gust of air blew in and knocked his damp hair back. He grabbed a comb and started brushing it.

“I packed your saddlebags for you. Well, Flitter helped,” blustered Thunderlane, sipping his tea with a wince. “She wants to fly you to school for your first day.”

Rumble tossed the comb into his saddlebags. “How come you aren’t flying me there?”

“Like I said. I want to be early my first day,” he said nonchalantly, swallowing the last of his tea. “Something wrong with Flitter?”

“No it’s just…"

Thunderlane leaned forwards in his chair.

“…nevermind. I’m ready to go to school.”

“All right!” the older Pegasus pumped a hoof in the air. “That’s my tough little bro! I’ll go next door and get Flitter. You’re gonna have a great day. Don’t sweat it!”

With two strong wingflaps he was out the front door. Rumble sat on his haunches and considered what his brother told him. Perhaps today wouldn’t be so bad. He’d meet new ponies his age. His new teacher sounded nice. Maybe things were going to be just fine.


“Great, just what this school needed –another useless blank flank!”

The pink filly giggled to her friend wearing glasses next to her. “Isn’t that JUST the funniest thing to see Silver Spoon? To think after two whole months of having our class down to three that this kid would show up with his grey blank butt. What a tragic day!

“You said it DT,” agreed Silver Spoon with a nod. “Maybe if you sit in the back of the class nopony will have to see you.”

The two fillies laughed and walked over to their seats. Rumble frowned and sat on the floor. Not even two minutes into his first day and he was feeling awful. It probably would be better if he just left. Tried again tomorrow in another school. That would be okay. He forced himself to ignore the mean comments and sat in an empty chair near the back of the class.

“Okay students, settle down!” a magenta filly with happy green eyes walked into the school house. “Take out a pencil and paper and write down five places you want to visit when you grow up!”

On cue all the children lowered their voices and started scribbling down names of big cities and amusement parks. Cheerilee sat at her desk and pulled out Mondays’ schedule as the few straggling students came into the classroom. Scootaloo wasn’t present in her seat —Snips was tardy again as well. Apple Bloom cantered into the schoolhouse and placed a fresh Red Delicious on her desk, and walked up to the front of the room to give a second to Cheerilee.

“This looks very tasty!” thanked Cheerilee. “I can’t wait to eat it with my lunch.”

“Aw shucks, we got plenty tah spare. Ah oughta bring one every day!” said Apple Bloom, absolutely beaming.

Cheerilee laughed and asked Apple Bloom to take her seat. Mondays were usually the toughest for her. Most of her students were mopey coming back to school after a weekend. However, there was a fresh face amongst the class.

“Attention children. Drop your pencils please! We will return to our practice exercise in a moment. Today we have a new student! Rumble, will you come to the front of the classroom please?”

All eyes in the room darted to the new student in the back. Rumbles’ face paled. The pencil clattered out of his mouth onto his desk.

“Come on up!” waved Cheerilee.

With a gulp, Rumble hopped out of his desk and slowly walked up to the front desk to meet his teacher.

“Nice to meet you! I heard all about you from your brother. Since you’re new to Ponyville. I’m sure the rest of the class would love to get to know you better. Tell us about yourself, how old you are, the things you like to do! Anything you can think of.”

Cheerilee watched the young colt nervously nod and turn to face the inquisitive eyes of his new fellow students.

“Hi…” he gave a tiny wave. “My name is Rumble and-“

“HI RUMBLE!” roared the class at the top of their lungs.

“…Hi. So… me and my brother moved from-”

“Miss Cheerilee!” interrupted Diamond Tiara with her hoof in the air. “I can’t hear Rumble that well. Could you ask him to talk louder?”

Scattered snickering broke out in the class. Rumble felt a bead of sweat roll down his forehead.

“Please speak clearly so the fillies in the back of the class can hear you, okay, Rumble?” suggested Cheerilee sweetly.

“Okay,” he cleared his throat. “Me and my brother moved from Cloudsdale to Ponyville last week. I’m nine and a half. I like playing uh, sports, and reading books and, uh I like to… exercise with my brother and one day I’m going to grow up to be just as awesome as he is!”

“Thank you Rumble,” Cheerilee clapped her hooves together, the rest of her students following her lead. She watched the nervous little colts shoulder fall in relief. “Class, could the rest of you introduce yourself to Rumble while I take attendance?”

“I’m Apple Bloom!” said the yellow filly with the pink bow in her hair.

“Hi! My name is Sunny Days!”

“Uh, I’m Snails! Welcome to Ponyville!”

“I am Diamond Tiara,” the pink filly twisted a lock of hair in her hoof.

“I’m Silver Spoon. I’m DTs best friend,” she added quickly.

“Ruby! Ruby Punch!”

“I’m Twitht!” said a pale filly with glasses.

“Name’s Peachie Pie!” the filly batted her lashes at Rumble.

“Hello! I’m Sweetie Belle!” said an ivory unicorn with bottle-green eyes.

“Featherweight here,” said a gawky Pegasus with a wave.

“I’m Rolly!”


“Shady Daze over here!” saluted a light blue colt wearing a visor.

“So then,” Cheerilee ticked off her last box. “Snips is out today and so is Scoota-“

“HERE! SORRY!” a shout came from the door.

An orange filly Pegasus zoomed inside the room on a blue scooter. Her helmet flew off her head onto a hook by the coat rack as she did a midair somersault landing directly in her seat. The rest of the class broke into scattered applause at her little stunt.

“Scootaloo! Please attempt to be on time. We have a new student here today!” said Cheerilee, motioning to the colt in front of her desk. “Say hello to Rumble!”

“Sup,” was the casual reply. Scootaloo seemed more interested in fixing her short purple hair. A hard stare from her teacher prompted her to continue. “Heya Rumble. I’m Scootaloo –most fastest and awesomest filly on four wheels around here!”

“Nice to meet you,” replied Rumble quietly.

“Okay class! Get out your notebooks! It’s period two and that means it’s time for mathematics!” she exclaimed, facing the chalkboard. Rumble returned to his seat, finding himself sitting in front of the orange filly who catapulted into the room. It was really cool. Maybe tomorrow he’d try flying into class. Rumble picked up the pencil and started working.


The next few hours were a blur of pencil, paper, math, reading and other activities. It was fun in a way. Language Arts consisted of taking turns reading aloud from Daring Do and the Kingdom of the Kelpies. It was one of his favorite books; his enjoyment of it was diminished by another round of chastising over his soft voice from Diamond Tiara.

Soon enough it was noon and Cheerilee announced lunch time. As was custom for her class all the students moved their desks around to sit with their friends. Taking out the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, he realized that he was eating alone in the middle of the room. He sighed, carefully pulling the crust off his meal.

“Hey! Rumble! Want to sit with us?”

The blue colt with the green visor in his hair was waving him over. Rumble smiled and grabbed his lunchpack, flying over excitedly instead of walking.

“Whoa! Hey!” squeaked Featherweight, grabbing his potato chips. “Listen there’s a no flying in class rule Rumble. Don’t do it or you’ll get in trouble!”

“Sorry!” Rumble folded his wings and landed in an empty seat next to their desks. He glanced over his shoulder to see if anyone noticed. The other students were all busy eating. Silver Spoon was whispering into Diamond Tiaras’ ear. Both of them were looking right at him. Confrontation was never his strong suit and he was hungry, so he turned around and ignored them, preferring to eat with the two kids who invited them over.

The next twenty minutes went along great. Featherweight was quiet. Quieter than he was but talking to him invoked a rapid barrage of a response, as if he were in a rush to get what he had to say out of his mouth and into Rumble’s ear. Shady was easier to talk to –he seemed to have a lot to say about nearly everything but wasn’t overbearing. He had a million jokes to tell as well and told two really good ones while they were eating lunch. Rumble found himself laughing along with the both of them. He felt like he was finally starting to relax.

The bell rang for recess and the schoolkids rushed outside. Some grabbed footballs, most of the fillies made for the hoops and jump ropes were all snapped up. Featherweight was quick on his hooves; he snatched up a red rubber ball from the crate before anypony was halfway there. Together the three of them bounced the ball back and forth in a lazy game of catch while chatting about stuff. Rumble was having a pretty good time. With some extra strength Shady pushed the ball twice as high in the air. In a movement belying his size, Rumble shot up in the air to snatch it.

“Well, would you look at that! Isn’t that the most depressing thing you’ve ever seen Silver Spoon?” said Diamond Tiara, walking into the center of the yard.

“I can’t help but to agree. To think, a brand new student on his first day here already upstaging our very own resident blank flank Pegasus. It’s such a tragedy!”

Silver Spoon cast a sullen look to Scootaloo; the orange filly had stopped riding around and was coasting over. Rumble remained flapping in midair, paralyzed by what was going on.

“I feel bad for her, honestly.” Diamond Tiara continued without missing a beat. “For the new kid in town to be flying around while Scootaloo remains grounded to her scooter –it’s just awful! If he had a cutie mark it would be twice that embarrassing!”

“HEY!” Interrupted Scootaloo. “I don’t care how good a flyer he is because I’m the fastest filly around even if I can’t fly.” She hopped off her scooter and marched over to Tiara. “You can’t say that like its fact if we’ve never even raced or anything!”

Diamond Tiara stood her ground. “So prove it! How about a race between you and him? The winner gets the title of best flier in school and the loser is just that: the most useless blank flank in the school.”

“Oh yeah!?” cried Scootaloo, gritting her teeth.

“Yes!” sneered Tiara.

“Fine! We’re having a race right now. My scooter vs. his wings. When I win you have to get off my back!”

Scootaloo and the rest of the fillies stormed away. The rubber ball clutched in Rumbles, hooves slipped out and bounced to the ground. He felt sweaty all of a sudden. The ground seemed really far away. Was he gaining altitude?

“Get down here, Rumble!” cried Shady from somewhere down below. That snapped him out of his panicked stupor. The world was a momentary blur as he rocketed to meet Shady on the grass.

“What am I going to do? I didn’t ask for that! I don’t want to race to make somepony feel bad! Shady what do I do?” panted Rumble, his eyes shrinking into purple pinpricks. There was a commotion from over by the school house. Lines were being drawn in the dirt. A pair of blue jump ropes were being erected as a crude starting line. Orange jump ropes were being strung around to signify the track. “What do I do?!”

Shady was less than sympathetic. “Something wrong? Come on, you can totally beat her! Don’t worry about it.”

“No it’s not that!”

“We’ll be rooting for you! Me and Featherweight! You’ll wipe the floor with her!”

Rumble stamped his hoof into the dirt. “I don’t-“

“ALL RACERS ON YOUR MARKS!” cried a voice from across the playground. Shady ran over with Rumble at his heel. The majority of the class stood along the sidelines -Featherweight was there, a camera around his neck. Tiara stood next to the starting line with a smug grin plastered on her face. Scootaloo was on her scooter, strapping her helmet on. Silver Spoon pushed Rumble up to the line next to her.

“Uh, hold on, can we just tal-“

“ON YER MARKS!” began Apple Bloom.

“GET SET!” cried Silver Spoon, shooting Apple Bloom a mean look for starting the count before her.

“So uh, may the best Pegasus win?” offered Rumble to Scootaloo.

Scootaloos’ wings unfurled, standing erect and ready on her back. Rumble did the same.

“Don’t worry. I totally will,” said Scootaloo harshly, her face a determined grimace.


A huge cloud of dust was kicked up at Scootaloos’ wild departure. Rumble coughed and rocketed forwards after her. The race was on.


Wind rushed through his ears as Rumble rounded the first turn. Wincing through the dust, he wished that he’d brought his pair of flight goggles to school. He couldn’t tell how far ahead the filly on the scooter was but the buzzing of her wingbeats made it certain that she was close. There was a sharp turn up ahead and watched in slight awe as Scootaloo effortlessly pulled the scooter up, turned it sideways, bounced off a tree and hit the trail at top speed. Rumble urged his wings to beat faster. This was a race after all. Why should he slow down?
She can’t fly.

A little voice piped up in the back of his head as he rounded the corner himself, the realization of the bet finally hitting him. This wasn’t a simple race about proving who’s fastest. It was mostly about Scootaloo. No wonder she’d agreed to it! She was practically bullied into it by that Diamond Tiara. He gritted his teeth, knowing that made this race unfair for the both of them. Pumping his wings faster he decided that he would lose this one.

Just by a hair.

The two pegasi rounded another sharper turn. Scootaloo had nothing to bounce off this time and lost some momentum. Rumble banked hard and caught a lucky breeze. He was right on her tail this time. The distance between them closing fast. Scootaloo glared over her shoulder and put more effort into her wing flaps. They were a furious orange blur on her backside. A wide right turn was ahead and Rumble caught some more speed as Scootaloo lost hers. Both ponies were neck and neck at the home stretch.


The front left wheel of the scooter caught a rock at just the wrong angle. Scootaloo went flying forwards as her scooter went sailing into the air above. They barreled through the finish line. Right before a flash of light blinded his eyes he saw Scootaloo make it before him thanks to the extra momentum of her scooter. He breathed a sigh of relief. Both his wings ached as he flopped onto his back. Next time he would do warm-ups.


Rumble flicked an ear at Silver Spoons shrill voice. He turned his head towards the crowd of ponies by Featherweight. Something was up. Sure it was a photo finish but Scootaloo had clearly passed him by. Feeling a sinking twist in his gut he sat up and watched Diamond Tiara walk over. With that grin on her face he could only assume the worst.

“Despite obvious photo recognition of Scootaloo crossing the finish line at first, the original claim was that scooter power would beat wing power.” Diamond Tiara sneered at Scootaloo, who was inspecting a cracked wheel. “With our participant crossing the finish line without said method of transport, it has been unanimously decided the winner of this race goes to… RUMBLE!”

The crowd of students immediately swarmed him; picking him up and carrying him around while wooping and cheering his name. Everypony was so happy that he won. Even with it being on a technicality. Although it felt wrong he felt a broad smile grow on his face as he was brought around. As the crowd of fillies paraded him back inside he spotted Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle assisting Scootaloo. The orange Pegasus filly looked disappointed, turning the wheel over in her hoof. She swiveled her head suddenly and spotted him watching.

All the warm feelings of praise vanished instantly at the electric look of hatred in her violet eyes.


“Jeez, its hot out here,” muttered Thunderlane, catching a warm updraft as he coasted towards home. It had been a long and grueling first day of work filled with all sorts of mistakes thanks to his ego. The worst was a challenge from his new boss to see how quickly he could clear the skies from a portion of the town. Finding courage in his flying prowess he’d done it in just twenty-six seconds. While he was busy receiving praise from the other pegasi Rainbow Dash had went and cleared the rest of the skies in only eight seconds. He grimaced at the mocking laughter he had to endure. At least the rest of the day would be pretty relaxing.

“Hey Rumble! I’m back!” he called out into the house. Flitter trotted out of the kitchen munching an apple. “Flitter! What’s up? Listen, thanks for picking up my little bro from school. I totally owe you one.”

Flitter sighed deeply. “No problem really. Anything for Rumbly,” she threw the apple core she was holding into the trash. “Somethings wrong with him, though. He said he had a good day at school but he’s all mopey. Usually I can talk to him but the sweet little thing doesn’t want to open up. You should go see him…”

Thunderlane mulled over her suggestion. “Yeah… I’ll do that. Thanks again for helping Flitter it’s a real-“

He was cut off by a big hug from Flitter. The mare was one to toss a hug around her friends for silly reasons. It felt weird here; like he didn’t deserve it. Maybe she offered one to Rumble but he declined. Very gently he draped one hoof around her neck in a cautious return hug.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, okay, Thunder?” said Flitter softly, breaking the hug and cantering to the door. “My sister’ll come over and we can hang out. Sound fun?”

“Yeah sure, see you tomorrow I guess…”

The pale purple Pegasus pushed the door open. Thunderlanes half-hearted wave went unseen. She really seemed upset. Soft light poured from underneath the doorway. It was now or never. Thunderlane pushed the bedroom door open.

“What’s up, little guy?” Thunderlane spotted Rumble lying on his bed with the pillow over his face. “How was your first day of school?”


“Meet any new kids?”


“Did you get any homework for the weekend?”


“Did you do any exercise when you came home?”


These short responses were getting old. Rumble obviously had something on his mind. Reaching over he grabbed the pillow off Rumbles’ head and tossed it aside. His eyes weren’t puffy so he wasn’t crying, but his face said it all.

“Did something happen at school today, bro? Somepony pickin’ fights because you’re new?”

Rumble sat up. “No it’s not like that. I… dunno… it’s complicated…”

Thunderlane put a hoof on his shoulder. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

So he did. Rumble told Thunderlane everything that happened. Meeting his teacher, introductions, what class activities they had today, the two colts he met at lunchtime. Then the part about recess came. Rumble tried to carefully explain as best as he could remember how exactly he ended up in a race, very certain to let his brother know that the whole thing had been engineered by the pink filly teasing him over his bare flanks. The race itself was just a passing remark. Rumble told Thunderlane that he won the race on a technicality even though they were both tied almost throughout. His brother clopped his hooves together and laughed.

“Way to go! So now the whole school knows you’re a fast little guy. What were you worrying about?”

“It’s how I won. I mean, mostly that I had to race at. The other filly couldn’t fly…” he trailed off.

“Her wing was broken?” asked Thunderlane with a raised eyebrow.

“No. I think she just didn’t know how.”

“Well too bad for her I guess. Everypony your age should be able to fly around by now. Don’t worry about it.” The frown on Rumbles face didn’t waver. “Are you worrying about it?”

“I think she hates me…”

Thunderlane scoffed at him. “How can you tell that? I doubt she hates you over a dumb race.”

“I can tell.”

“No you can’t.”

“She was kicking my chair the rest of the day,” said Rumble sullenly. “I think she’s really mad at me.”

“Nah, she’s mad at herself for losing. Probably that pink filly too. I’m sure she’ll get over it eventually.”

The slender grey Pegasus groaned. Thunderlane collapsed on top of him. Rumble gasped and started laughing. Thunderlane ruffled his grey hair. “Don’t even get me started on my day. What a drag. You know what? We’ll switch. Next Monday you go take care of weather patrol and I’ll go sit in school and learn about social studies? Sound fair to you?”

“N-No. Ahaha! Cut it out that tickles!” Rumble struggled to get free as his brother started wrestling him down. They kicked and rolled until both of them fell laughing in a heap onto the floor. Rumble giggled and smiled at his brother. He felt worlds better. Maybe things wouldn’t turn out so bad after all.


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The rest of the school week was an enjoyable blur for Rumble. In just a few short days of school he had gone from being a nobody fresh out of Cloudsdale to one of the most popular kids in the class. Everypony wanted his opinions on things, his help with their work, and to sit with them at lunch. If he wasn’t made team captain during recess he was always picked first, especially upon demonstrating his athletic prowess. Even his early tormenters Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon had eased up on him throughout the week. It irked him. Ever since Monday he’d been on edge with them around. Even when they would join in on the praise showered upon him in and out of class it never seemed sincere. Still they laid off his back and he didn’t press for answers. The schoolhouse buzzed with energy. Rumble leaned back in his chair and smiled.

It was finally Friday. After today they’d all be free.

“Attention students!” Cheerilee’s hoof hovered over her shiny silver desk bell. “There will be a spelling quiz this Wednesday so bring your sharpened pencils and study over the weekend!”

The children grumbled their okays and nodded. Cheerilee smirked. It was better an announced quiz than the pop ones. “OH! Before you’re all dismissed I’m organizing a very fun event! Where’s my Flier Filly?”

Peachy Pie jumped up from her seat and trotted over to Cheerilee’s desk. There was a small stack of papers on the desk and after reading them over Peachy squeaked in elation. The rest of the class was held in rapt attention as the filly trotted from desk to desk handing out fliers. Groans of disappointment and hushed gasps rose from different seats. Rumble craned his neck over at Pipsqueak to catch a sight of the flier but it had already been stuffed into his saddlebags.

“Hey, Rumble”

“Wha-?” his view was blocked by Peachy, a flier clenched in her pearly white smile.

“Sooo check it out!” she began, placing the flier on his desk. “Miss Cheerilee is doing a school dance! Everypony’s going to go! That’s neat, huh?”

Rumble glanced over the text. “We’re going to dress up and,” he gulped, “dance?”

“Well yeeeaaah. Don’tcha know that’s what you do at a dance? It’s also the last one before summertime.” she chirped, resting her forelegs on his desk. “Soooo…whatcha thinking?”

I don’t know how to dance! What if I make a fool of myself?! Will everypony think I’m a scaredy coward if I don’t go? What if-

Rumble snapped out of his worried daydream. Peachy was still leaning over his desk, quite close to him now. Was she closer than before?

“Sooooo?” she asked again, her breath brushing against his nose. It smelled sweet. Like fruit.

“It sounds way cool!” he offered. “I’m totally going to be there!” Rumble rubbed his hooves together, not sure what else to say about it.

Peachy Pie opened her mouth to suggest something else.


“To your seats everypony! It’s time for dismissal!” rang out Cheerilee.

“Shoot!” the filly looked over at her teacher with annoyance written all over her face. She hopped off Rumbles’ desk, but not before shooting him a smoky glance and promising to talk to him later. He responded with a light wave. According to the sheet, he was going to have to not only learn to dance, but also find some “formal attire”to attend this dance. Finding a date was crucial, but Rumble decided he could pester some fillies later. He didn’t want to make a fool of himself after finding somepony to go with him.

“Oh boy, another mushy-gushy dance,” came a raspy mutter from behind. Scootaloo crinkled up the sheet in her hooves into a ball, bouncing it up and down in the air. “What a waste of time…”

“It’s only a waste of time when nopony asks you to go,” said Diamond Tiara with a chuckle. “Oh gosh! I completely lost count! Silver Spoon, what’s the record at this point?”

“Fourth time in a row, DT,” sneered her bespectacled co-hort.

Tiara pretended to look shocked. “Four times in a row!” she repeated. “Isn’t that just the worst?”

“I would be crushed if nopony wanted to ask me out! Wouldn’t you, Silver Spoon?”

“Devastated,” she said with a snide grin.

Both fillies snickered, done with their teasing. Scootaloo squirmed in her seat looking even sourer than before. She shot Rumble a look when she caught him staring and he faced forwards fast as he could.

Scootaloos’ kick to the seat of his chair was a swift reminder to not be so nosy.

“Okay, class, we’re all packed and ready!” Cheerilee struggled with the zipper to Snails’ saddlebag, finally getting it fastened. “Have a great weekend and everypony please do not forget to study!”

Just like that, school was out. There was a mad rush for the door as each student clamored to get outside for the warm freedom of the weekend. Parents waiting outside collected their children. Diamond Tiara trotted over to her stately dressed father, nose high in the air. Rumble looked over to for any ice blue hair or pink bows in the crowd. Amongst the adult ponies he didn’t see anypony he knew. Rumble sighed, spreading his wings. Looks like it was flying home again for the day.


Like a rocket on wheels Scootaloo burst out of the doorway. Turning just in time he avoided the wagon holding Sweetiebelle and Applebloom from landing on his head. Hitting the dirt they swerved a hard right out of sight. The dust kicked up from her stunt blew into the air. Most of it drifted into Silver Spoons’ hair and prompted a fit of whining from her. Rumble chuckled to himself. This happened pretty often to Tiara and Silver.

Rumble adjusted his saddlebags. Before he could take off he was interrupted again. Not from an out of control filly but from a slap of a hoof behind him.

“Whoa, are you going home already dude?” said Shady, adjusting his visor to shade his eyes from the sun. “There’s still the whole day to go! Do you want to hang out with me and Featherwieght?”

The thinner colt was standing behind Shady. Featherweights’ full saddlebags were packed and he was shifting his weight from hoof to hoof. He grunted and turned to Shady. “I have to study for my test and do my homework.”

“C’mon Feather! We have until Monday for school. Listen we can just dump our bags somewhere and play. I’ve got a Frisbee in my bag. Let’s go hang out!” Featherweight danced nervously on his hooves, eyeing his saddlebags. “It’s Rumbles’ first weekend here in Ponyville. Let’s show him all the cool places in town.


Shady threw his foreleg up for a high hoof, causing the already off-balance colt to land on his rump. They laughed together, and, with Shady leading the way, headed towards one of the local lakes in town. Rumble broke into a trot and outpaced his friend, spurring an impromptu race. The three young colts bolted towards the lake laughing all the way –none of them caring about their saddlebags weighing them down. This was going to be a blast!


“This is the worst job I’ve ever taken.”

Thunderlane kicked at some frail strands of cirrus near the edge of Ponyville. Of all the things Cloudsdale had to pump out these days it had to be cirrus. They were awful clouds. Wispy, thin white wisps of vapor. Uncomfortable to lay on (if they weren’t frail to the point of collapsing under a Pegasus’ weight), providing little shade, and impossible to obliterate in a single buck; most of the time bucking one would send it collapsing into smaller strands. Fighting with a particularly difficult one, he swore under his breath as it fell apart. If only the sky was full of nimbus.

“I heard that!”

Quick as a flash his vision was filled with sky blue and an intense pair of ruby red eyes boring into him. Rainbow Dash’s lip curled in contempt. “I want my skies clean. Your filthy mouth is not helping.”

Thunderlane narrowed his eyes. “What’s the big deal? Everypony swears sometimes. It’s not like there’s a rule or anything.”

“When you’re doing this job you’re playing by my rules. If you’re not cool with how I run things well, gee, I bet there’s plenty of dishes to wash or something at the bakery.” Rainbow inspected her hoof. “D’ya want to wash dishes or stay on weather patrol?”

A few other ponies working nearby had stopped cloudkicking to watch the confrontation unfold. Flitter and Cloudchaser hovered twenty feet away by a tuft of cumulus. Thunderlane knew that the spectators wouldn’t be chastised. It only took a few days of work to figure out that Rainbow Dash was the kind of pony who craved attention. Especially so when it was making her look good and somepony else look like an idiot.

“I’ll keep my mouth shut,” he said through gritted teeth.

“Good,” smiled Rainbow Dash triumphantly. With a shrill blow into the whistle around her neck she got the rest of her sky’s attention. “Take five everypony! We’re almost done for the day!”

Rainbow Dash zipped out of sight. Thunderlane felt his cheeks burning through his dark coat as the twins cautiously flapped over to him.

“I think she likes you,” smirked Cloudchaser, settling near him on the delicate cirrus still wavering nearby. Flitter hovered over her shoulder. “You okay?” she asked, her voice a little more sincere.

“I’m FINE it’s just. UGH!” He punched the air. “Why’s she been doggin’ just me!?”

“Because you’re new,” said Cloudchaser

“Kind of loud,” added Flitter.

“Bit of a show off.”

“Complain a lot.”

“Your dark coat stands out from everypony else.”

Flitter nodded sagely. “Plus, you’re like the only stallion here.”

Thunderlane blinked in surprise at the last comment. True enough, he was the only stallion in the sky at the moment. Taking the job, he had figured that he’d see another stallion on a different day or shift but as of four days of grueling work it seemed like he was in fact the only one. The town did have a fairly large gender gap.

“Well I wish she found somepony else to pick on,” he glanced over their shoulders to see Blossomforth stretching on a cloud. Hopefully she didn’t see, but he had the sneaking suspicion she’d hear about this later. Ponies loved gossip.

The shrill sound of Rainbow Dashs’ whistle blasted through the air. “ALRIGHT LET’S GO! I need some overcast over Sweet Apple Acres. It’s gonna be hot tomorrow. C’mon chop chop. Thunderlane! Let’s get a move on!”

“Uuurgh. Fine…” the twins giggled softly, trying to not let him hear. Thunderlane flapped away morosely. The day just couldn’t end any sooner


“Alright see ya guys later! Bye Shady! Bye Featherweight!” waved Rumble from his porch.

“Bye Rumble!” the two colts on the ground shouted. They gave him a quick wave back and galloped off to their own homes. The setting sun disappeared behind Canterlots’ mountains, illuminating the snow white caps at its peak. It was a beautiful sight, and Rumble gaped at it. Living in Cloudsdale, his whole life only allowed him one view of the setting sun and moon. This was quite a sight.

Returning to his senses he swiveled around and knocked on the door. No answer. He frowned and knocked again. Nothing. Rumble reached back to pound at it-


Hearing his name he stopped mid-punch. Cloudchaser was leaning out of a window next door, slumping against the frame and sipping a drink in her hoof. “Whatcha doing?”

“Uh…” he worked his jaw, realizing he was going to punch a solid door hard as possible. “Knocking?”

Cloudchaser laughed into her straw. “Listen kiddo, if you need to use the little colts room…”

“Oh!” he blushed, “No…I’m just really hungry. All I had was crackers after school and…”

“FLITTERRRR!” shouted Cloudchaser over her shoulder. “D’WE GOT ANY SNAAACKS?”

“……YEAH!” came the shout back. With a sublime smile on her face Cloudchaser turned to Rumble. She blew a few frost colored strands out of her hair. “Your bro’s working late cuz of his boss again. Come in and chill with us until he come back ‘kay?”

“Kay!” he pranced over to the front door of her house and opened it. Flitter and Cloudchasers‘ home was like his: a spacious opening doorway leading to a nice big living room with an attached kitchen at the end of a small hallway. Their stairways even matched in the same place. As Rumble trotted in and settled into the sofa he could only note one difference.

The twins were a lot messier.

“Aww Rumbly-Bumbly you got locked out agaaaain?” Flitter wore a heavy pout, settling down a tray of sliced vegetables with sprinkled cheese on the coffee table. Rumble groaned loudly. Cloudchaser tutted and tapped her sister on the head. “Flit cut it out. Little guy isn’t so little anymore. Treat him like the handsome young stallion he is.”

“But he’s soooo cuuuute!” said Flitter, scootching over to Rumble and crushing him in a hug. “He’s still so wittle and tiny and the cutest little colt everrrr!”

“I am NOT cute!” cried Rumble, struggling to wriggle from her grip.

“Yes you are. Ohhh come on cutie I never get hugs from you anymore!” protested Flitter.

“Hugs…nh, are…for…foals!”

Flitter buried her face in Rumbles gray hair. “You don’t smell like a little foal though.”

“Aw knock it off, Flit, he’s blushing.”

Rumble knew it wasn’t true but as soon as he heard the comment his ears flattened against his head, the pink blush already heating his grey cheeks. Cloudchaser laughed and flapped her wings at his reaction. Flitter started peppering his forehead with tiny little kisses. That was the last straw.

“UUuurgRAH!” Rumble growled, digging his haunches into the rug and pulling Flitters arm off of him with all the effort he could muster at the moment. Flitter gasped, not expecting this. Cloudchaser watched intently from her seat on the sofa. The straw fell away from her mouth and she dumbly tried grabbing at it with her tongue. Rumble harrumphed and brushed himself off.

“See what I mean Flitter?” Cloudchaser slid off the couch to the rug. Picking up Rumbles foreleg she gave it a squeeze, then told him to flex, cooing a little when she saw and felt the muscle bulging slightly beneath his light gray coat. “Oh you are getting strong. Not a weak little baby colt are we, right Flitter?”

“Hmph.” Flitter folded her wings and pouted.


“Come iiiiiiin!” sang Cloudchaser, still giggling at her sister.

Thunderlane opened the door, glided over and collapsed on the vacant sofa. “It’s official,” he spoke into the pillowcase. “This is the worst job in the history of jobs.”

“It’s that bad, Thunder?” asked Rumble, poking his brother in the side.

“Yes. Remember when I said we should switch for a day?” He looked up to make sure Rumble was nodding. “Well I thought about that at work today. I get to sit in class. Draw. Play with friends. Snack time. Recess. Then you could spend nine hours doing weather patrol…”

Flitter and Cloudchaser cast each other a concerned glance. Rumble was unfazed. “And?”

“…and then I realized that would probably chalk up to child abuse. Not me though. My boss. She’s a total monster.” Thunderlane considered that notion. “Maybe she’ll go easy on you though. Everypony says you’re cute.”

Rumble’s groan was cut off by a surprise tackle from Flitter. His older brothers’ remark was all she needed to smother the young colt in a another round of tight hugs and ‘I told you sos.’ Cloudchaser crawled back on to the couch directly above the chuckling elder brother. “Looks like she really has it out for you. “

“My back is killing me,” Thunderlane shifted his rigid wings. “I’ve never had to work these babies for so long before.”

“Wan’ me to smooth you out, big guy?” offered Cloudchaser, resting her hooves on his back. The effect was instant, Thunderlane sighed into the sofa cushion and Cloudchaser began kneading. “Y’know I bet if you did more stretches ‘n stuff you wouldn’t be so sore.”


“I do yoga excersises like, every single day,” she continued, feeling the knots in his back and rubbing her hooves into them. “They totally help in the long run.”


“Like, Flitter never does them. When I do them she just sits there and makes fun of me.” Cloudchaser kneaded a little harder.


“It’s good for you too. It’s why I’m so flexible,” she softened up a little. “Flexibility is a good trait for a Pegasus pony. I have good traits.”


Cloudchaser frowned. “Celestia are you tense. At least tomorrow you’re off right?”


“Thunder?” Cloudchaser cocked an eyebrow and stopped rubbing.

“Hmm?” he glanced over his shoulder at her.

“You’re off for the weekend?”

“Mostly,” he muttered. “Rainbow wants me to move some fog in for the early morning before the midday heat shows up. It’s going to get hot tomorrow.”

“When you’re done you gonna ask Blossom out?”

Silence filled the room. Flitter stopped tussling with Rumble to pay attention. The play over, Rumble sat up as well, interested to hear the answer too. Now on the spot, a slight tinge of pink reached Thunderlanes own cheeks.

“Uh…maybe? I guess I could. We talk all the time at work. Like when Dash isn’t breathing down my neck.”

“Oooh!” Both of the twins shot each other a grin and broke into giggling. Cloudchaser leaned on his shoulder. “You should totally ask her out! It’ll be perfect!”

Flitter took to the air and hovered around excitedly. “She really likes you! I can tell because she’s always sneaking a peak at you when you’re not looking. Like, give it a shot!”

“Fine,” Thunderlane sat up and puffed out his chest. “Yeah. Know what? I will. Tomorrow I’ll ask her out!”

The twins applauded and threw up a high hoof. Rumble, finally freed of Flitters’ oppressing cuddles, pulled the plate of snacks and chowed down. Tomorrow was going to be a hot day. Before he left Shady and Featherweight they told him that they were going to invite some other school kids to swim at the lake around noon. Rumble figured that if he got up early, he could could spend some free time exploring the town. It wasn’t that big. There were lots of interesting looking buildings in sight from his vantage point at the front porch. Rumble swallowed the diced celery he was chewing with a smile.

It was delicious.

A Ride to Remember

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The alarm clock next to Rumble’s bed went off, but he was already awake and in the kitchen. Though he never really considered himself an early bird, more often than not he was up bright and wide awake in the morning. On the other hoof, Thunderlane was prone to sleeping in past noon on certain days and never got up before he did (unless he was forced to). This didn’t bother him. They still got to spend some time together after school and on weekends. As the toaster pastries warmed up Rumble stretched his wings and did as many push-ups as possible. Working out together used to be a normal thing they did until Thunderlane decided sleeping in was more fun.The smell of toasted blueberries wafted to his nose and his stomach grumbled in response. They finally popped. Finishing at twelve push-ups, he flitted up and put the two pastries on a plate. Pouring himself some orange juice, he sat at the table for breakfast.


The sun had barely begun to rise over Ponyville when Rumble set out towards town. Landing on the ground, he discovered to his delight a moderate layer of fog greeting his hooves; having never seen much fog back home before, he kicked it around in his hooves, playing with the mushy, supple cloud for a few moments. This special ground cloud wasn’t something he planned on wasting his day on, so he toyed with it for two minutes longer before discarding his fog-cloud-tower. It slumped back into the fog as Rumble trotted towards town.

It had been a week, maybe a week and a half, since he, his brother, Flitter and Cloudchaser had moved from Cloudsdale down to Ponyville. It was a cheaper place to live, more relaxing, and meant Thunderlane could finally get out of his parents’ house. Rumble was cool with the idea of moving –not that he didn’t have friends in school, but the idea of going somewhere entirely new in his life was exciting. Visiting his parents was only a short flight away and with Thunderlane being an adult it was okay that he could take after him.

Rumble did remember quite clearly his mom grabbing Flitter and Cloudchaser by their wings to deliver a hushed command to keep a close eye on him.

There was plenty of fog covering the ground all over the place. Thunderlane must have been at it all morning. The birds chirped a happy tune in the trees above. Rumble kicked at the wisps of fluff around his hooves and started whistling too. It wasn’t something he was very good at it –but it was fun to do. Before he knew it he’d broken into a giddy trot and found himself traveling past a long wooden fence corralling an orchard full of apple trees. Red delicious apples swayed in the gentle breeze. With the sunlight beginning to filter through the branches, they shone like rubies.

His stomach growled. Having a light breakfast was probably a poor choice. The tantalizing fruit was beckoning him for a bite. Rumble stopped walking down the path and leaned on the fence. Certainly nopony would miss just one apple. They weren’t too many bits and he could always pay for it later. Maybe he could fly home and grab his allowance and find the owner. With a cautious glance over his shoulder, he unfurled his wings.

“Well howdy there, Rumble!”

He froze mid-lap, one hoof still outstretched. Turning his head around, he saw Apple Bloom trotting over to him from the edge of the trail. The saddlebags slung on her back were packed with hammer, nails and other tools that jangled together as she neared him. “So how come y’all are up so dang early?”

“I uh… “ Rumble hopped off the fence post. His ears flattened and wings dropped. He felt like a theif caught in the act. “Just wanted to walk around town. Didn’t see any of it when me and Thunderlane moved here because of school and homework. It looked pretty big from my porch.”

“Ponyville is plenty big!” said Apple Bloom proudly. “Why Ah can’t tell you jus’ how many things there are to do ‘round here! Ah mean Ah could,” she giggled,” but y’all are better off exploring town for yourself! What didja see so far?”

“I saw. Well. I didn’t visit anything yet,” Rumble sheepishly admitted. “I kind of fell asleep on the ride down but I remember this really big building in the middle of town,” he put a hoof to his chin, trying to remember. There was another building that looked like a merry-go-round and this one that looked like a gingerbread house. That one was way cool.”

“That’s Sugarcube Corner!” grinned Apple Bloom. “It’s got the best baker in town inside, next to mah big sis o’course.”

Rumble’s stomach growled again. “Do they have breakfast?”

“You bet your behind they do! Applejack –that’s mah sisters’ name by the way– she’s friends with the bakers and supplies them with her apples for all their apple flavored treats,” Apple Bloom puffed out her chest. “See, Sweet Apple Acres has the best, highest quality apples around town.”

“We got all out apples shipped from Hoofington Fields,” Rumble remarked.

“Phooey!” Apple Bloom scrunched up her nose and stuck out her tongue. “Their apples are so bland ‘n boring they make my tastebuds cry.” A bright idea struck her. “Hey since y’all are right here why don’t ah let you have a real quality Apple Family apple!”

Apple Bloom dropped her heavy–looking saddlebags and hopped the fence. Quick as a flash she had bucked the tree. A small torrent of apples fell from the branches. Like a mantis grabbing a fly, Apple Bloom snatched one from the air with her teeth. Rumble licked his lips in anticipation. With a sweep of her tail, the yellow filly had two more flung into the air. Honing on a particularly shiny one, Rumble flapped up and grabbed it with his hoof.

“Ah can guarantee that you’ll love it!” said Apple Bloom, taking a confident bite from the one in her mouth. “Shee, everypony who triesh our applesh lovesh ‘em.”

Rumble discovered that one bite of the crimson fruit was indeed the most delicious he’d ever tasted. He thanked the giggling filly who handed him another when he finished gobbling it down. Taking a leisurely bite, he asked Apple Bloom what the work equipment in the saddlebags was for.

“Oh that junk? Me, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo are sellin’ lemonade together an’ we’re gonna build ourselves a proper stand,” she wiped her mouth and burped loudly. “Ah got the tools, Sweetie’s got the lemons ‘n stuff , and Scoot has the wooden boards.”

“Scootaloo?” he stopped eating his apple mid-bite. “Can I ask you about Scootaloo?”

“About what?”

“Y’know…” his ears flattened against his head. “The whole race thing…”

“Oh, all that nonsense?” Apple Bloom rolled her eyes. “That’s nothin’ to get yourself all worked up over.”

“I think she’d mad at me…”

Apple Bloom considered that for a moment.

“Aw shoot, Rumble. Scoot’s been sore since the race for sure. Not entirely at you. That pair of prissy fillies in school’s what’s to blame,” said Apple Bloom matter-of-factly. Burping again, she walked over to her saddlebags. “Ah’d love to stay an’ chat, Rumble, but Ah got to go. This thing ain’t gonna build itself.” Glancing over to him she saw his face still wearing a frown. “Also, Ah think maybe if ya stopped by you can get a discount. Just for today. Sound good?”

“Yeah sure,” he smiled at her. “Lemonade sounds cool.”

“See ya later then, okay?”

“’Kay,” replied Rumble.

“One more thing!” called out Apple Bloom. “Since y’all are a blank flank like me, Sweetie ‘n Scoot you are considered eligible to join the Cutie Mark Crusaders! It’s been all fillies since Featherweight got his cutie mark so, y’know, jus’ something to think about. Bye!”

In two shakes of a tail, Apple Bloom was out of sight. Considering they hadn’t spoken much in school, he was surprised how affable the young filly was – even getting an offer to join their club! That was so generous of her. There was still a whole town to explore and judging from the position of the sun it was only around eight. Rumble finished his delicious apple, wiped his hooves, and continued forth into town.


More of the townsfolk were starting to stir by the time he arrived into town, and the streets were getting busy. Ponies were opening their shops and starting their daily routine. Pegasi flew around overhead, some of them carrying things for delivery, others part of the weather patrol adjusting clouds. The layer of fog laid out by Thunderlane for the morning was already dissipating in the growing heat of the sun and Pegasi were pushing puffy chunks of cumulus around the sky to provide some shade. Rumble gave up trying to spot his brother amongst all the other ponies. Walking around with his nose in the air ended up with him bumping into some very annoyed stallions.

Turning the corner past the Quill and Sofa store, Rumble noted a lot of these houses were combination shops and apartments. Walking over a small bridge, he spotted the merry-go-round building he half-remembered. Thoughts of an indoor fair were deflated when the store windows only offered a gallery of frilly dresses inside. Carousel Boutique was suddenly the least fun-sounding place to be.

The largest building was Ponyvilles' town hall, which, upon closer inspection, was falling apart at the roof. It wasn’t terribly interesting. There was a large tree growing in town smattered with round porthole windows and around five telescopes that he could spot. Instead of running over to see what it was, he asked a homely yellow mare carrying a basket of flowers, who told him it was the library. Rumble made a note to visit it later. There were still some Daring Do books he hadn’t read yet.

Baking cinnamon and blueberry wasted past his nose. Rumble inhaled deeply. It smelled amazing. As if the scent alone were pulling him to this bakery, his wings spread and he felt himself gliding towards its source. He found himself staring up at the brown door to Sugarcube Corner. Rumble put his hoof on the door.

“Well well well –if isn’t the most popular blank flank in school.”

The unmistakably grating voice of Diamond Tiara drifted through his ear. Turning he found the piercing ice-blue eyes of the mean–spirited filly boring into him, along with her consistently present friend, Silver Spoon. Rumble was having a pretty good morning, and with the oddly pleasant treatment he’d been getting from them all week he was caught off guard.

“Uh…hey?” he cautiously offered.

Silver Spoon walked over to him. “Hey yourself, blank-flank. I just bet you’re loooving all the attention you’ve been getting from everypony else –basking in the popularity that a talentless pony like you doesn’t deserve.”

“Just so you know, Rumble, easy comes as easy goes,” sneered Diamond Tiara, circling around him. “Winning that race was a fluke, that lucky enough worked for you, works for us as well. Just so you know, we can take that away from you super easy.”

“All we need to do is say the word,” said Silver Spoon.

“Do some things.”

Say some things.”

“Things that don’t even need to be true!” added Diamond Tiara briskly.

“Then you’ll be a nothing nopony blank flank just like our resident loser squad.”

“Maybe they’ll even let you join their exclusive club, seeing how well you fit the bill,” Diamond Tiara arched her eyebrows.” You’ve even got kind of a filly face. So you’ll fit right in.”

Rumble’s cheeks burned hot in anger. He stamped his hoof in the dirt. “Both of you are just a couple of bullies! What’s your problem!?”

“We’re just making sure blank flanks,” –she motioned to his bare haunches– “like you know their place. Until they get their marks they’re just a bunch of good for nothing ponies taking up space.”

“That is NOT true!” Rumble said through gritted teeth.

“Oh yeah?” smirked Diamond Tiara, meeting his gaze. “Then what are you good for, huh? What’s your special talent?” the lack of response from Rumble allowed her some more taunting. “What’s Apple Bloom good for? Sweetie Belle? Scootaloo? Nothing. So they’re worthless ponies until they’re good for something and have a mark to prove it.”

Though he was rather meek, Rumble had never felt the urge to lash out at anypony so strongly before hearing those stinging words. Instead he ground his teeth at her face and did nothing.

“If you’re lucky,” she continued. “You’d just find a diff-“

“Diamond Tiaraaa! Young lady, we’re heading to the boutique now!” called a stallion from somewhere close by. “You and Silver get trotting or I’m skipping it.”

“Coming, daddyyyyy!” she answered back. “Let’s go Spoon. I think we’ve had enough of our time wasted by this blank flank.” Diamond Tiara turned around and flicked her tail at Rumble’s nose, shooting him a mocking grin as she pranced over to her father. Silver snickered and followed at her side. Rumble waited until they were out of sight to buck the air in frustration. What complete jerks. How could they think those things? Everypony was a blank flank once.

Rumble unclenched his jaw and took a deep breath. It helped a little, but the burning comments stuck. Hopefully having a buttered muffin or bagel would cheer him up; something light. He pushed the door to the bakery open.


“Thanks for visiting Sugarcube Corner! Have a super duper day!” rang a cheery voice behind the counter. Sitting behind the counter was the pinkest mare Rumble had ever seen. Her bubblegum coat was similar to the bully he’d just spoken to, but her hair was a different story. It was a mess of loops and curls that bobbed with every slight shake and nod of her head. The customer she was waving off headed towards the door with a white cardboard box dangling from a candycane–colored string in her mouth. Rumble held the door open for her, and then marched up to the counter.

“Um…hello. What do you have for breakf-“

The pink filly gasped loudly, jumping into the air. Rumble backed away in surprise wondering if he said something wrong. The mare landed on the counter and bounced over to him.

“OhmyGOSH WHO ARE YOU!? You’re new in town aren’tcha because I know everypony in town there is to know and I don’t know you yet so that means somepony’s due for a party! You like parties right? Haha what am I saying EVERYPONY loves a party like, DUUUH. The only time I met a party pooper was this donkey his name was Cranky Doodle and he was a big ol’ grumpypants but even then I still managed to make him my friend!”

“Uh,” Rumble blinked, trying to process all that, “huh?”

“Name’s Pinkie Pie!” introduced Pinkie Pie, giving him a shake of the hoof. “What’s your name?! OOH! OH! Can I guess? Let’s make it a guessing game!”

“Uh…” he shrugged. “Kay.”

“Sssssssssspeedy?” guessed Pinkie Pie.



Rumble shook his head.



“Krastos the Kooky Krazy Kraftmaster?!”

Rumble stifled a laugh. “Noo…”

Pinkie tapped her chin. “Hmmm… well I give up!” she threw her forelegs up in defeat. “I never ever ever win guessing games.” Pinkie Pie sighed and walked back behind the counter. “So what’s your name?” She asked, leaning over with interest.


“REALLY!? That name is super AWESOME!” Pinkie shouted, clopping her hooves together. “I love it! I TOTALLY bet your super special talent is going to be something rumbly! Like a drummer for a super famous rock band!”

At that suggestion Rumble couldn’t help but laugh. “That would be way cool.”

“You bet!” said Pinkie enthusiastically. “So what can I getcha!?”

“Oh…um, I didn’t bring any bits with me and I already ate an apple,” said Rumble sheepishly. “So I’m just looking around.”

“Oh nonononononoNO!” Pinkie’s face was absolutely aghast. “You can’t just leave Sugarcube Corner without trying any of our sweets!” Like a rocket she was over at the chocolate cupcake counter. “They’re still super fresh! Here!” Pinkie shoved a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting into his hoof. “Try this! It’s super good!”

It was. Pinkie Pie was not fibbing. The chocolate cupcake was warm, deliciously moist on the outside and filled with flavorful custard on the inside. It practically melted in his mouth as he ate it bite by bite. This was not a treat to wolf down. Finishing the cupcake, Rumble licked the few crumbs on his hoof, then blushed at Pinkies ear-to-ear grin.

“Soooo?” she tilted her head expectantly. “Was that NOT the best thing ever or what?”

“Mm…yeah,” Rumble smiled, feeling good all over. “It was.”

“YES!” Pinkie Pie jumped up in the air, then stopped, just hanging there. “Also what are your two favorite flavors of anything? This is important!”

“Uh…chocolate and…strawberry.”

“Ooh! Good combo!” Pinkie zipped over to the counter, flipping open a yellow pad and dotting things down. Rumble trotted over and leaned against the counter.

“How come you wanted to know that?” he asked, not sure what she was up to.

Pinkie looked at him as if he asked what color she was. “Duh! For your party!”

That was wholly unexpected. Rumble felt his jaw go slack.

“A party?” he quickly found his voice. “A party for me!?”

“You betcha! I try to throw parties for all the new ponies in town and you are no exception!” Pinkie Pie flashed him another huge grin. “Now flap on over here and tell me more about your favorite things to eat and games to play!”


“So Pinkie Pie is really throwing you a party? That’s awesome!”

Shady threw up his hoof and met Rumble’s with a heavy clop. Not wanting to leave Featherweight, who was trotting silently to his right, feeling left out, Rumble raised his hoof high-hoofed him too. The force of it nearly threw Featherweight off kilter.

“Yeah that’s really nice of her. When Pinkie Pie threw me a party it was so much fun,” recalled Shady, thinking back to it fondly. “Believe me it’s going to be great!”

“What was your party like?” asked Rumble.

“Oh shoot was it fun! A Pinkie party always has lots of loud music, streamers, confetti, tasty food and they’re just great!”

“Sometimes they get to feel same-y because she does so many,” chimed in Featherweight.

“Doesn’t make them bad!” quipped Shady, seeing Rumble’s concerned look. “They don’t get old either, but he is right. They don’t feel very unique. One welcoming party is like them all,” Shady toyed with his visor. “Since it’s your first Pinkie party ever we know you are going to love it.”

A smile creeped across Rumble’s face. “Well alright. All of you guys are invited ,‘kay?”

Another quick round of high hoofs broke out and the two colts who had had parties hosted by Pinkie recounted some of their favorite moments. Pretty much all of them were held inside the bakery. With every detail shared, Rumble felt his smile grow bigger and bigger. Featherweight nudged him in the side as they turned a corner past the train station.

“So who else are you inviting?” he asked.

“Everypony I know! My big brother and,” –the twins flashed in his thoughts– “his two friends and everypony else in class!” Rumble’s nose scrunched up momentarily. “I don’t think I want Diamond Tiara or Silver Spoon to come.”


His two friends stopped dead in their tracks. They were completely taken aback.

“So what?” asked Rumble, actually more surprised than irritated at their reaction

“Dude you don’t just NOT invite them. They’re the most popular fillies in school!” Shady’s voice was dead serious. “They get invited to everything.”

Featherweight nodded in agreement. Rumble was less than pleased.

“Why do you think I have to invite them? I- “he swiveled his head around to make sure no snooping fillies were around. “I don’t like them very much. They’re mean. How come everypony likes them?”

“They throw really good parties,” quipped Featherweight.

Rumble snorted. “I thought Pinkie Pie had the best parties.”

Shady pawed at the ground. “They are...but, those ones are pretty good too.”

“They hire clowns!” said Featherweight.

“Bands to play music!” added Shady.

“Bouncy castles!”

“Ball pits!”

“Bumper cars!”

“Bags of candy for everypony!” Featherweight flapped his wings excitedly. “They hand out the best goody bags!”

Rumble huffed and continued down the trail. “That sounds like overkill. Is her dad rich or something?”

Shady broke into a trot to catch up with him. “Yeah he’s Filthy Rich.”

“Figures,” he muttered in response.

“No his name is Filthy Rich,” stressed Shady. “He runs Rich's Barnyard Bargains and has a lot of bits to spare.”

“Oh.” Rumble briefly considered the idea of his mother naming him Filthy. The mental image forced a giggle out of his mouth. “His name is Filthy…hehe.”

“Her dad gets all mad when ponies call him Filthy,” Shady snickered, kicking a small rock down the trail. “Miss Cheerilee does it on purpose I think because she always calls him Filthy.”

“Haha.” He hadn’t seen that happen yet but Rumble was looking forwards to it. The afternoon sun shining above was beating down on their backs. Smacking his lips of the chocolate icing that still lingered there, Rumble was regretting his choice in an early lunch at the bakery. The sweet treats felt heavy in his stomach. Washing it down with a free strawberry milkshake left his mouth sticky. For the moment, all he wanted was something cool and clean to drink. Flying up to take a look for a water fountain seemed like a good idea. Rumble craned his head upwards for a good cloud to sit on.

“Oh cool a lemonade stand!” cried Shady.

“Huh?” he snapped back to attention and looked over to where his friend was pointing. Set up down on the opposite side of the tracks leading out west was a crude looking wooden stand. The trio of fillies running it was unmistakable. Apple Bloom spotted them at once.

“HOWDY FELLAS!” she called over. “Care for a drink? Ah guarantee it’s the best lemonade Ponyville can offer!

Featherweight zipped over to the stand immediately, with Shady taking a slow trot over himself. Rumble cringed, his wings opening with the intense desire to just go airborne. Scootaloo was there –she was looking right at him too.

“C’mon dude! There’s plenty left. We’re all thirsty. So get over here!” Shady was waving him over. Rumble gulped and started a nervous trot towards the stand. Apple Bloom held a steady glass as Sweetie poured the yellow pitcher of lemonade. It caught the sunlight and illuminated her already yellow face into a brilliant bright gold. Apple Blooms’ shining visage broke into a white smile as he neared.

“Heya Rumble! Sure took your sweet time struttin’ over here. Why Ah hope you’re thirsty ‘cause we got plenty o’ lemonade left!” she pushed a glass over to him.

“Heya Apple Bloom,” he said, grabbing the glass. Rumble turned to Sweetie who was pouring another. “Hi Sweetie.”

“Hi!” she responded, absorbed with steadying the heavy pitcher. Rumble turned his attention to Scootaloo.

“H-Hey Scootaloo,” he murmured.

Scootaloo noisily crushed a lemon between her hooves. Specks of lemon juice smattered his (and her) face. “Hi,” she said snappily, glaring at him.

“That’d be two bits!” cut in Apple Bloom before Rumble could say anything further.

“I left my money home today, sorry,” he began. Scootaloo leaned over and pulled the cup towards her, the ice in the glass clinking noisily.

“No bits no sale,” she said flatly.

Featherweight dropped two gold bits into the half filled glass jar. “I’ll pay, no problem Rumble.”

The money issue solved thanks to his friends’ generosity, Rumble reached over and gently took the cup of lemonade from Scootaloo. Though she had been gripping it tightly, the orange filly relinquished it immediately. Counting her collected coin was now of greater concern. The glass jar jingled with the sound of shifting bits as Scootaloo turned it upside down onto the table. Water condensing on the glass collected in Rumbles’ hoofgrip. Not wanting it to get any warmer he took a swig.

“Mmm…this lemonade is good!” he complimented, taking another small sip.

“Yeah it’s great! Lemonade is my favorite drink,” agreed Featherweight, downing a second glass. “This is a bit sugary but okay.”

“That’d be another two bits. Ahm afraid we don’t offer free refills ‘round these parts,” said Apple Bloom matter-of-factly, pointing to a barely legible scrawling underneath the wooden printing. Featherweight shrugged and plopped down another two coins on the table. Scootaloo swiped them up immediately.

“…nineteen…twenty…twenty-one…twenty-TWO!” cried Scootaloo triumphantly. “We did it girls! I’ve got enough here for a new wheel! I’m back on track alllright!”

Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom threw their hooves up in celebration. The three fillies embraced in a brief hug followed by a victory drink of their lemonade. Apple Bloom cast the three colts standing around the sign a smile. It faded though, her eyes widening as if she just remembered something. Whispering into Sweetie’s ear she nudged her friend in the side and the white filly nodded. Apple Bloom set her hooves down and cleared her throat.

“Hey y’all, ‘fore me ‘an my friends set up on this side of the trail we gon’ and started on that side,” she pointed past them to squattish set of bushes across from them. “There was a dead ‘possum lying behind the big fat bush there. Ah figure you want to see it?”

“Whoa really?!” Shady and Featherweight shared an excited glance. “Let’s go poke it with a stick!”

Sweetie Belle sprinted over to the bush with the two colts on her tail. Not wanting to miss out, Rumble began a gallop before feeling a sharp tug on his tail pulling him backwards. He plopped on his butt from the reversal of momentum. Turning around he saw Apple Bloom spitting out his tail.

“What the-“

“Hush you,” she ordered, leaning over to his ear. “You jus’ stay right here for a sec’, okay?”

“Um…” Rumble considered that demand for a moment. “kay?”

With a satisfied smile, Apple Bloom winked and joined the other three ponies over at the fat hedge. Rumble sat there dumbly. Wasn’t she going to talk to him?


The insistent sound of hooves knocking on wood rose from behind. Rumble took to the air and righted himself, landing in front of the stand. He momentarily forgot about Scootaloo still sitting behind the stand. The orange filly sighed, ran her hoof through her purple hair and started scratching the back of her neck.

“Listen, Rumble, right?” she asked wearily, accepting his slight nod as an answer. “Last Monday when we had our race, that I lost, and cracked my wheel, well, I think we got off on the wrong hoof.”


Scootaloo stopped scratching her neck, preferring to look at an interesting cloud instead of Rumbles face. “So when I lost I got really mad about it. Then you got all popular –everyone liked you and I just…stayed mad, at you.”


“Which is…wrong,” Scootaloo swallowed hard, as if what she were trying to say was affecting her speech. “Plus it’s also not entirely your fault…and, well, what I’m telling you is…” she trailed off, now looking over his shoulder. Rumble glanced back and spotted Apple Bloom scrunching at them and motioning with her hoof, then stopped when she caught Rumble looking. He swiveled back and found Scootaloo’s light purple eyes directly meeting his.

“I’m sorry for kind of being a jerk to you this whole week,” she said with a light sigh. “Like really, I’m not like that. It’s just those two fillies get to a pony after a while. So are we cool?” she put up her hoof.

Rumble bumped it happily. “Yeah we cool. Also don’t think that I’m friends with them or anything. They’re a couple of bullies.”

Scootaloo’s eyes widened. “You think so too?”

“I know so,” he replied. “They’re only pretending to like me; because I’m still a blank-flank they don’t actually think I’m cool.

“Even though they aren’t mean to you?”

“They told me so themselves.”

“Really?" Scootaloo leaned over the counter. “Tell me what they told you.”


Time flies in good company. For the next hour or so, Rumble, Scootaloo , and the rest of the young ponies sat around the lemonade stand. Since their goal was finally met, Apple Bloom declared the rest of the lemonade to be on the house. Featherweight drank half the pitcher himself. Talking about school was the main topic, delving into other parts of town. Rumble re-told his encounter with Pinkie Pie to the three Crusaders –who had a good laugh over her antics. They were excited to hear about his upcoming party and Rumble assured the fillies that they were all invited. Halfway between a story told from Pinkie Pie on the origins of her cutie mark Featherweight burped loudly and got the rest of the group laughing.

“What time is it?” asked Featherweight, trying to change the subject.

“I’m not wearing my watch today,” Shady looked at his hoof dejectedly. Apple Bloom put a hoof to her brow and looked up at the sun.

“Ah reckon it’s around five,” she said, her voice confident.

“Oh gosh! I need to go home. I can’t be late for dinner!” Featherweight said, looking worried. “My family has dinner early. It’s probably finished cooking already! See you guys later!”

In a blur the cream colored colt had zipped off down the trail. Shady just shrugged and said that if it was getting close to dinnertime he might as well leave too. Giving Rumble a pat on the side, he said he’d see him tomorrow. Sweetie asked the lone gray Pegasus if he was going, too.

“Nope. I don’t eat dinner until seven,” said Rumble. “What about you?”

“Rarity probably wants me home. I bet you saw her dresses at the Boutique right? She lives in the upstairs and that’s where I stay when Mom and Dad go vacationing. See you later!” she said, her voice cracking on the last word. Sweetie pranced over to Carousel Boutique leaving just Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and himself.

“C’mon Scoot, let’s get this packed up.” Apple Bloom grabbed the sugar canister and spare lemons sitting on the table. With one sweep of her foreleg, all the bits on the table went into the glass jar. It was boring to watch. Rumble sipped the last of his drink. Being a fifth wheel was not something he was used to.

“Can I help?” he offered.

“Sure!” said Apple Bloom. “Think ya can push the stand into the bushes? It’s mighty heavy ‘cause of the wood we used to make it.”

“I can do it!” he exclaimed, moving around to the right of the stand. Scootaloo lifted the jar off the now bare top as Rumble planted his hooves.


One push was all the confirmation he needed for the stands’ weight. It was heavy. Rumble readjusted his posture, planting his hind legs firmly in the dirt, and shoved with all his might.

The heavier-than-it-looked stand finally gave, sliding noisily against the dirt. Panting and gasping, the last edge of it finally slid into the grass. Rumble turned around and leaned against the side, wiping the sweat off his brow.

“Wow! That was amazing dude!” Scootaloo darted over to him. “I didn’t think you could do it!”

“I didn’t,” he gasped. “I didn’t…think I could do it, either. It weighs a ton!”

“Pushing that dumb thing onto the road took us almost ten minutes! We broke our backs over it and you did it in less than half. You are awesome!” complimented Scootaloo.

“Thanks,” he offered her a weak smile. “How come…you just…didn’t build it on the road?”

A shrug was her response. Rumble laughed, and she broke into a sheepish grin herself. “We don’t always have the best ideas.”

Rumble rested for a few moments longer as Apple Bloom finished collecting her things. Scootaloo saw her off with a wave, and she departed with what Rumble assumed were considerably lighter saddlebags. Scootaloo strapped on her helmet.

“You really like that thing, huh?” whispered Rumble.

“I use my scooter for everything. Plus, I’m the best at riding one! Nopony rides a scooter like I do,” she bragged, stuffing her purple hair into the helmet.

“Well, I’ve never been on one, but you do some pretty cool tri-“


Rumble flinched, not expecting her to shout. The incredulous look on her face froze him to the spot.

“You mean you’ve never ever ridden a scooter? Why? How?!” she trotted over to him. “Lots of ponies like scooters.”

“Well I’m from Cloudsdale and they don’t have anything to, uh, scoot on up there since we all just flew around,” he cast his eyes away, hoping she wasn’t hurt by his comment. “If we wanted to go fast we’d just race…”

“Then you got to ride it right now!”

Scootaloo zipped behind and shoved Rumble to his hooves. The blue scooter in question was leaning up against a tree. Not wasting any time she righted her scooter and positioned herself onto it.

“This is how you stand,” she wiggled her right hoof. “If you’re a lefty, the other hoof points closer. Both fore hooves stay on the handlebar especially for newbie’s like you.” Scootaloo hopped off and Rumble awkwardly replaced her stance on the scooter. “No no put most of your weight on that hoof. No leaning back, you don’t want to fall. Space your hooves farther apart on the handles! Don’t move them! Perfect! Now go!”

Rumble cocked an eyebrow. “Go? What do you mean go?”

“Flap your wings, dummy! You’ve seen my sweet moves on this baby. Just do what I did,” she said, her own wings fluttering in excitement.

Rumble took a deep breath and shut his eyes to concentrate. The wings on his back started flapping. He clenched his jaw, trying to flap them harder, remembering the buzzing of Scootaloo’s wingbeats.

“Going somewhere?”

“Huh?” he squeezed one eye open. The grip he had on the handlebars was tighter than he realized. Rumble was hovering three feet up!

“Ahaha! Look at you! Can’t even scoot around on a scooter! Flying lessons can mess you up in other ways,” she teased as Rumble descended. “Look, it is getting late but there’s no way I’m going home without you getting a ride on a classic scooter. There’s nothing else like it! Hold still.”

Scootaloo removed her helmet and slipped it over Rumble’s head. It wasn’t tight. Actually it fit quite well. The straps dangled past his chin.

“So are we going for a practice ride?” he asked.

“Nope! I’m taking you for a real ride!” Scootaloo jumped up, grabbing him tightly around his chest. Rumble flinched. Her grip was pretty firm. The sound of her buzzing wings filled his ears as she gave a strong push with her hoof to move the scooter forward.

They were off.

“WHOA!” The dirt trail along the train tracks was wide. From his porch he knew it stretched down for a mile or so before winding through a small section of Whitetail Woods. The scooter was quickly picking up speed. The wind was rushing through his hair, tail whipping behind him. It was like flying almost. The biggest difference was the growling sound coming from the scooter itself. Vibrations from the wheels traveled through the wood up his legs. His teeth were chattering. Scootaloo pumped her wings even faster, lifting her hind legs off the board and letting them hang in the breeze. A laugh caught in his throat. This was great!

“LEAN!” barked Scootaloo into his ear. There was a turn coming up ahead. Wind was stinging his eyes a bit. “LEAN TO YOUR RIGHT!” she repeated urgently.

They hit the turn, feeling his heart thumping hard in his chest. Scootaloo leaned before he did, the shift in her weight signaling Rumble to lean as well. The right half of the scooter lifted off the ground and a chill went up his spine. It skidded, and Rumble grit his teeth –the wheels touched dirt.

“NOT SO HARD! RIGHT?!” Scootaloo shouted. The trail switched from an open wide trail to something much smaller, with tighter turns. Not letting up on the speed they powered through it together, blasting through tight turns left and right; it was like riding down the back of a snake. Whitetail Woods showed up to his left, the large, old oaks blocking the setting sun’s rays and only letting in a few bright rays to dapple the stretch of dusty trail.

In ten seconds they had cleared the trail, turning a right down another long, slightly hilly stretch. There was a large building to his left. A large red plus sign adorned its façade. Scootaloo wasn’t kidding. This was unlike flying in the best possible ways. It felt chaotic. It felt dangerous. Nopony wore helmets in the air. Adrenaline rushed through his system. Scootaloo was pumping her wings at top speed and not letting up. He turned to look at her. The buzzing of her wings and helmet muffled the world around him but she was laughing and wooping along, the wind blowing through her mane, eyes determinately set on the path ahead. Scootaloo noticed him looking and tapped the side of the helmet where his ears were squashed against the padding.








As directed Rumble pulled up on the scooter for this jump –he felt Scootaloo’s hind legs securely wrapping around his waist. Rumbles breath caught. The world began to spin as she pulled him backwards. He saw the sky, tinged with yellow, a flash of purple from Scootaloo’s long tail and finally the incoming ground. They touched down on the trail in a storm of dust. Knots in his stomach unwound. That was pretty intense.

It was the home stretch now; this part of the road turned to a mix of gravel. The next turn up ahead would lead them both back into town. Even though it was almost over he hoped Scootaloo would forego dinner a little longer. This was so much fun.


The split wheel of the scooter snapped in half. The additional weight of another rider coupled with the last hard landing finally took its toll on the wheel. The front edge of the scooter ground into dirt flinging both young riders forwards. Hitting the gravel hard, the handlebar snapped in two. The flat blue board sailed up high into the sky. Scootaloo launched forwards. Rumble frantically worked his wings to no avail, landing on some rocks. The helmet protected him and rolled off his head. Tumbling for a few feet Scootaloo eventually rested on her belly, all four limbs splayed out, panting heavily. Rumble pulled his face from the stones.

He felt like a startled deer. The urge to run tickled at the back of his mind but he couldn’t. All he could do sit and look at Scootaloo.

“My scooter it’s,” –she inspected the smashed handlebars and split wheel–“it’s totaled! Ruined! Completely destroyed! NonononononoNO! NO!” Scootaloo shrieked, panting heavily. Her eyes frantically darted back and forth at the wreckage, finally landing squarely on Rumble.


“Doctor, I know you’re on break, but we would really like some help here.”

The chubby pink nurse zeroed in on the doctor sitting on a plush chair in an otherwise empty break room. Nose deep in an article concerning unicorn horn infection, the yellow stallion did not budge.

“Peachy, you know I’m off the clock for another twenty,” he said, without breaking from his line. “Is somepony dying right this second?”

“Of course not,” she bristled at the snappy remark. “However, there are two injured young Pegasi who walked into the hospital that I think you should talk to.”

Sighing, he lowered his magazine. “Nothing I have to work on?”

“Holly and I tended to the dears but they need a talking to. From somepony firm,” the chubby mare rubbed her shoulder. “I’m not one for giving others stern speeches. You know that.”

Easy as it was to sit there and read the article it was pointless now. His interest was piqued. The magazine was something could always pick up later. Getting to his hooves, he trotted out the break room with Nurse Peach at his side.

“Anything else I should know before I talk to them?”

“The two were riding along on the trail together outside the hospital. Hit a bump by the gravel and got into an accident. Scrapes, bruises, some bleeding,” said Peach quietly. “That’s what they said.”

“Sounds typical. Is this that orange filly again?” he gave Peach a look. “The one that fell on her wing last year?”

“Scootaloo, yes,” nodded Peach. “This time she had another rider. Gave him the helmet to wear so his noggin is fine.”

“Him?” the doctor snorted in amusement. “Usually she’s tugging those other two fillies.”

“I know.”

“So then…” they rounded the corner down to the hospital entrance.

“Well, Holly suggested something happened. For one, they aren’t speaking to each other.”

“Mhm,” he spotted Scootaloo’s purple tail at the end of the bench.

“Two…well, that’s why you’re here.”

Nurse Holly was already standing over them. Peach joined her side and the doctor stood between them. The two youngsters looked like they’ve been through quite a tumble. Band-aids were scattered across their legs, back, and their sides once they shifted in their seats to look at him. Everything seemed superficial enough. Recognizing the two most obvious injuries on each Pegasus took a momentarily glance. Rumble held a blue ice-pack wrapped in paper towel over his left eye. The filly nursed a bruising right hoof. Rumble looked upset and an angry grimace was stuck on Scootaloo’s face. Neither were looking at each other. What may have happened registered immediately.

“Have their parents or guardians been contacted?” he asked Holly.

“We dispatched an orderly to fly to their homes,” answered Peach for her. “They should be here soon.

“Good,” he took a step closer and cleared his throat. Rumble gulped and glanced at Scootaloo, who narrowed her eyes and glared at him. Though they were on opposite sides of the bench their tails were fairly close. Scootaloo flicked hers away and Rumble flinched. “I think you two need some more thorough explaining of how you fell.”


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The sun had slipped under the horizon by the time Thunderlane had left work to pick Rumble up at the hospital. By virtue finally being freed from work, he was thoroughly uninterested in hearing about whatever the doctors were blathering on about. If anything he was rushing to get out of there. He signed his name, thanked the staff, took one glance at the other patient and flew out towards home with his little brother at his side.

The fly home was not in any way quiet.

“I can’t believe that filly decked you!” the tone of Thunderlane’s voice was bordering on laughter. “Did you at least put up a fight? Why’d she hit you? You say somethin’ she didn’t want to hear? Come on bro, tell me what went down.”

Rumble clenched his teeth, “I didn’t say anything mean to Scootaloo, it’s just, well, there was an accident.”

“I figured that. So what happened?”

“Me an’ Scoot were hanging out by the lemonade stand. It was nice out but getting late. All our other friends had left,” Rumble sighed. “So I was looking at the blue scooter she’s always riding and I told her I that I never rode one before.”

Thunderlane nodded. “Yeah, there’s no scooters back home. So then what?”

“She was like ‘Oh! They’re really fun! Ride one right now!’ so I did,” he looked away for a moment. “Then I told her I didn’t know how so she said she’d give me a lesson.”

“Right, right,” Thunderlane swiveled his head to look at Rumble. They were nearly home.

“So I got on the scooter. I didn’t know how to beat my wings to make it move forwards the right way. Then Scootaloo jumped on my back and moved the scooter with her wings. We raced around for a bit,” Rumble allowed himself a smile, recalling the rocky road they went down, “then crashed. It was pretty bad.”

“Then she punched you in the eye right after because you crashed,” Thunderlane guessed.

Rumble coughed and shot his brother an annoyed look.

“The scooter kind of broke…in a lot of pieces. They went flying all around. The board went up and-”

“Sick!” interrupted Thunderlane, landing on their porch. “So that’s why she punched you! What a little hot-head!”

“Yeah…she was really really mad over it,” Rumble landed and folded his wings. “It was in lots of pieces.”

“Wait a sec,” the older stallion cocked an eyebrow. “Is this the same filly that you beat in the race on your first day of school?”


“Ha-HA!” Thunderlane face-hoofed. “No wonder!”

“No, it’s okay,” Rumble interjected. “She said she was cool with what happened. It’s not a big deal anymore. I think she definitely hates me now though,” his ears drooped, “or something like that. I didn’t mean to crash her scooter. Now what do I do? I don’t know what to do. I don’t want her to hate me. We were almost friends.”

“Rumble, listen,” the younger Pegasus found a dark hoof resting on his shoulder. “Sometimes, a mare is gonna say one thing, then do another. They’re really hard to figure out. I’ve known Flit and Cloud for practically all my life,” his voice took a harder edge. “Even so, I still don’t understand them. I thought I did. I had some questions to ask. Then the time came to ask and I found answers that I didn’t want,” they were both steadily walking to the twins’ front door, “so I had to suck it up. It stinks. I felt pretty crummy for a while. I got over it. Nothing changed. Maybe, this filly will change. If she really got over the first one then I’m sure you’re in the clear.”

“If she doesn’t?” asked Rumble.

“Then she’ll hate you forever.”

A depressed sort of sigh sounded from his throat and he shifted on his hooves. Thunderlane knocked on the twins’ the front door.

“Uh, did you leave something over at their house?”

“Nah, there’s this cute filly that I’ve been talking to at work,” Thunderlane cracked a grin, “I asked her a question and got an answer I like. Tonight’s our first time hangin’ out. Like a date.”

“So you’re asking Flitter for girl advice?”

“No!” snorted Thunderlane, “I don’t need girl advice. What I need is a favor from two friends.”

“What? Wait!” the realization of what was going on finally clicked. “No! You can’t! I’m old enough to stay home alone! I don’t want a foalsitter!”

“Got your saddlebag already packed and sitting in their living room.”

“Thunder, you can’t do this to me!” panic rushed into his voice. “I’m a mess! I-I need to go home and wash up!”

“They have the same bathroom we do, I think,” remarked Thunderlane, rolling his eyes. “You know when you were a little foal and got filthy they’d take turns washing you.”

“Thunderrrrr!” Rumble whined, nervously dancing on his hooves.

The door opened. The gentle sound of the metallic chain hitting the frame filled their ears and warm yellow light poured out the doorway. Cloudchaser leaned against the door frame, the pink bubblegum she was blowing startling Rumble when it deflated with a loud pop. A small, white shirt, unbuttoned, clung loosely to her slight shoulders. Compared to the flashy garb Cloudchaser usually wore the meek ensemble that was her bedclothes were quite loose. Even her hair was down, the frosty strands of her bangs loosely covering her light purple eyes.

Cloudchaser regarded Rumble with a smirk and winked one of her heavily lined eyes, then turned her attention to his brother. “What’s up, mister hot date? Got ants in your wings?”

“Heh, well,” he unfurled his wings. “First date and all.”

“You’ll do fiiiiine. Worrying about it will only make things more awkward,” she spat her gum off the side of the cloud. “Just sweet talk her real nice. Blossomforth seems fun. Just act like a gentlecolt and be sure to see her off with something she’ll remember.” A waggle of her eyebrows followed that last comment.

“Hmph!” Rumble elbowed his brother in the side. “Hey, that sounds like super-good advice, huh?”

The ribbing stung. Thunderlane glanced darkly at Rumble for a brief second, and then looked back at Cloudchaser. “I’ll keep a mental note. Anyway, thanks again for keeping an eye on little guy for me. Sorry it’s short notice.”

“Pfft,” she reached over and tugged Rumble to her side. “What’cha been doin’ to him anyway? Rumble, you look like you flew through a tree.”

“I…fell,” said Rumble meekly.

“Rumble was riding around with his new fillyfriend,” said Thunderlane, speaking quickly as possible. “They got into a fight. Girl knocked him around good.”

“What!?” shrieked Rumble, “That’s not! She’s not my-!”

“Really!?” Cloudchaser draped a wing over his back and pulled him close. Rumbles cheek squished against her leg. “Aw you poor little guy.”

“No! That’s not-!”

“Girls your age can be pretty feisty. I know I was,” continued Cloudchaser.

Thunderlane cleared his throat. “Well I’d love to stay here to tell the whole story but I don’t actually know much of it. Besides, Rumble said he’d love to tell you the whole thing.”

With an extra strong wing-flap the dark stallion departed towards the other side of town. The two Pegasi stood in the doorway until he was out of sight. Cloudchaser pulled the door shut and Rumble tore himself away from her grip.

“Easy on the wing there, dude! I’m fragile on that side,” she pouted, raising the left wing up high.

“Sorry,” he apologized, sitting on the floor. Rumble looked around the room. “Where’s Flitter?”

“Oh, she’s upstairs,” yawned Cloudchaser, slinking over to the comfy-looking sofa. A soft pillow sighed against her head as she snuggled into it.

“Doin’ what?”

“Flitty things,” Cloudchaser inspected her hoof, resting one hind leg on the arm of the sofa; the other dangled off the side, swaying gently. “I didn’t tell her you were sleeping over tonight.”

Rumble felt the hairs standing up on his coat. “Flitter doesn’t know I’m here?”

“Nope,” replied Cloudchaser, stifling a giggle.

“Uh… so when were you going to tell her?”

“Wasn’t gonna.”

The color drained from Rumbles face. Cloudchaser looked up at him and laughed.

“Hey Flit!” she called out. “We have a visitor stayin’ the night. Don’tcha want t’say hello?”

“Is it Thunderlane agaaaain?” the response from upstairs sounded muffled.

“Nope! It’s Rumble!”

Flitter charged downstairs as fast as her hooves could take her. The bow in her hair was off centered but her eyes were fixated on her target rooted to the spot on the floor –Rumble resigned himself to his fate.

“Ohhhh my gosssh!” she tackled him at full speed and brought him into a crushing hug. “You little cutie! What are you doing here?!” Flitter held him out to get a look at him and gasped. “You’re all beat up! Who did this to you? I’ll go and kick their rumps in. Nopony hurts my Rumbly-Bumbly and gets away with it!”

The little gray colt groaned loudly as the deluge of questions poured into his ears. Tonight was going to be a long night.


“Pssst! Sweetie Belle! Wake up!”

The sleeping filly didn’t budge.

“PSSSST! Sweetie!”

“One more minute, mommy,” the young unicorn turned in her bed.

Scootaloo sighed, grabbing a small doll sitting on the windowsill. Thankfully it was a cool night and the window was left wide open. Aiming carefully, she threw the toy at Sweetie’s head. The impact was absorbed by her fluffy head of hair. No response. Scootaloo grabbed something heavier.

“OUCH!” a hairbrush bounced off Sweetie’s forehead. The now wide awake, the filly looked around for the culprit.

“Over here!” hissed Scootaloo, from outside the window.

Sweetie rubbed her head. “Did you have to throw something? That hurt.”

“I wasn’t going to ring the bell!”

“You didn’t have to hurt me,” she pouted, picking up the hairbush. “Why didn’t you just come in here and wake me up?”

“I can’t. You know that!”

“Huh?” Sweetie squinted in the darkness. The bedside lamp was shut off. Sweetie Belle jumped out of bed and walked over to the window –it wasn’t like she was going back to sleep anytime soon. A quick peek outside got her the answer.

Scootaloo was just outside of reach. All four of her legs were wrapped tightly around a dead tree branch that was dangling near the window. The cool breeze on her face made Sweetie shiver. One of the first things she noticed about was the awful condition Scootaloo was in.

“How many times did you fall out of that tree?” she asked tentatively. Scootaloo moaned in response.

“Like fifteen times,” said Scootaloo. The astonished expression on Sweetie’s face was completely worth the fib. “Nah. I didn’t fall out. Had an accident earlier.”

“Oh gosh!”

“Yeah it…hurt. Only a little. I’m okay now.”

“You don’t look okay.”

Scootaloo shrugged. “So?”

“So did you go to the doctors?”

“Me and Rumble went to the hospital,” she replied, immediately regretting it. Sweetie looked aghast.

“Oh no! Is he okay?”

“Yup. He’s just super,” another breeze kicked up; the tree branch swayed hard in the wind. “Listen, I’m electing an emergency Cutie Mark Crusader Clubhouse Conference!”

Sweetie raised an eyebrow. “Aren’t the CMCCCs always emergencies?”

“This one’s a DOUBLE emergency. We need to hold one right now.”

“Really? Right now right now?” the idea of sneaking out of the house sent a shiver down Sweetie’s spine. What would Rarity think if she checked on her during the night? The idea of Rarity fainting, waking up, fainting more dramatically, and calling an official town search made Sweetie nervous. “Is it okay if I leave a note to tell her where I’m going?”

Scootaloo nodded, motioning with her hoof to get Sweetie moving. A spare pack stuffed with overnight clothes was always stuffed underneath her bed thanks to Apple Bloom’s insistence for emergency meetings. One quick tug on the buckle brought it out. Sweetie pulled out a pencil from inside and started writing.

“I don’t know how to turn the store’s alarm off. Instead of going downstairs I’ll just climb out the window too.”

“Really?” that puzzled Scootaloo. Usually when it came to dangerous ideas Sweetie wasn’t the one making suggestions.

Sweetie Belle placed the note on the bed.

“There!” she looked quite pleased with how it came out.

“Does this mean you’re ready now?” Scootaloo sounded annoyed. Sweetie gingerly put on her pack and trotted over.

“If you jump, and catch me, and flap your wings, think we can get to the ground without getting hurt?”

The suggestion seemed to excite Scootaloo. Both her wings flared open.

“Where’d you come up with a cool idea like that?” she asked. Sweetie only shrugged.

“Just popped into my head. It’s not like we need to do it.”

Scootaloo shook her head excitedly. “No no we should totally do it that way… but just in case I can’t lift the both of us I think you should toss one of the pillows on the ground.”

It sounded like a safe thing to do. Sweetie rushed over to her bed, grabbed one of the fluffy pillows and tossed it outside.

“Alright! Let’s go!” cried Scootaloo. Sweetie Belle climbed up to the windowsill. With great effort, Scootaloo wrapped her hind legs on the thicker part of the branch to sit erect on it. On a steady count of three they both jumped. It was a near success –Scootaloo caught Sweetie around the waist. Both her wings beat furiously as they hovered for a brief moment. Then, under the strain of lifting herself and her friend, Scootaloo’s wings gave out and they both dropped like a stone. There was a loud thud where they landed; right next to the soft fluffy pillow.

“Ouch,” said Scootaloo, rubbing her flank. Next to her Sweetie seemed to be in great agony. Both her hooves were clutching at her haunches.

“I think I landed on my tail,” she hissed through gritted teeth. “My butt hurts.”

“You can rub your butt all the way to Sweet Apple Acres,” said Scootaloo, getting up and stretching her legs. “Let’s go!”

“Just a minute,” she pleaded, still rubbing where she had landed. Eventually the soreness began to ebb and Sweetie shakily got to her hooves. “Alright let’s go to Apple Bloom!”

They walked down the winding pathway to the barn in good spirits. It was a full moon out and both could see pretty well. Along the way Sweetie would stop to pull things out of Scootaloo’s tail –pieces of twig or leaves in her hair– there was even some tree bark stuck in the back of her short-cropped mane.

As they drew near the question on Sweetie Belle’s mind that had been floating around the back of her head kept resurfacing. It nagged her. Being tight-lipped this whole time was driving her nuts. It felt like every time she opened her mouth Scootaloo spoke first with something else to say.

Sweetie sat down.

“We’re almost there. What are you doing?”

“How come you didn’t just go home?” asked Sweetie.

“Didn’t want to,” said Scootaloo flatly. “Can we please go now?”

“No,” Sweetie folded her hooves.


Sweetie shook her head. “Nope. Tell me why we’re really holding an emergency CMCCC sleepover.”

“I already told you why!”

“Did not.”

“Did so!”

“Did not!”

“Did SO!”

“Then what was it?”

“I…” Scootaloo looked away from Sweetie. “I, well, look at me! I’m a total disaster right now.”

“And?” still, Sweetie was not satisfied. It wasn’t like the trio hadn’t gone home in worse condition. Seeing that her friend was not going to budge, she walked over, sat next to her, and hung my head.

“My scooter…is completely trashed,” Scootaloo finally admitted. “It’s in like a bunch of pieces and bent in others. I don’t even think I found all the pieces.”

The harsh demeanor Sweetie was carrying vanished. “Oh no! We just got the wheel money for it before!”

“When my parents find out they’ll never get me another scooter again!” Scootaloo’s forlorn expression was putting a damper on Sweetie’s mood too.

“Think it’s fixable?”

“It’s in pieces. I don’t think there’s a pony in the whole world that could fix it.”

“You didn’t ask anypony yet?”


“So there’s still hope!”

Scootaloo traced a small circle in the dirt. “Yeah… I guess… but I definitely don’t want to tell them tonight. Or that I ended up in Pony General over it.”

“I don’t think my mom and dad would let me out of the house for a month if that happened to me,” said Sweetie.


“Do you want a hug?”


Sweetie Belle leaned over and gently hugged Scootaloo. Usually this was the sort of namby-pamby thing that she would shy away from, but this time the warm embrace even got the knot in her stomach to loosen a little.

“Thanks,” she smiled, feeling worlds better.

“Don’t mention it,” Sweetie returned the smile, and got to her hooves. “Now let’s go get Apple Bloom!”

From what she could remember, Apple Bloom’s room was on the side of the house on the second floor. There was no tree growing close to her window. Getting her attention was either going to involve sneaking inside or throwing rocks at the window. Last time they had tried the latter it had ended up smashing the glass.

Scootaloo eventually got to her hooves. She did feel better… but had not actually told Sweetie the whole story. The twisty feeling in her gut remained.

Tomorrow would be better.


“Get behind your ears!”

“I know.”

“Scrub the dirt away from those cuts.”


“Make sure you wash your hair so there’s nothing in it.”

“Flitter!” cried Rumble, raising his voice so she could definitely hear him through the door. “I got it! I’m okay in here. Every day when I wake up I take my own showers.”

“Okay okay! You don’t have to get all grouchy at me,” Flitter pretended to sound hurt. Leaning her head against the door she listened for his response. All she heard was the sound of sloshing water. “Use the shampoo and not the conditioner! It makes your hair all-“


“Alright! Ugh! I’ll be downstairs with CC. Yell if you need anything, ‘kay?”

There was a groan from behind the door. Flitter giggled and trotted downstairs.

“Finally!” said Rumble, laying back down in the bathwater up to his neck. Since he moved down to Ponyville he hadn’t had a single bath. They were relaxing. Showers were fast and occasionally ice-cold. Rumble gently splashed the water, watching the ripples travel across his belly down to his tail. Without having instructions ordered to him through the door he could finally unwind a little. Rumble looked around the rest of the bathroom.

It was a lot more spacious than at his house. There was a towel rack with brightly colored washcloths hanging and drying. The one he was using had a swirl of yellow and splotched blue patterns. Based on the wild-looking colors, it probably belonged to Cloudchaser. On the counter by the sink sat a plethora of jarred lotions, and bottles of scented shampoos and conditioner, hairsprays and an entire rack of make-up supplies to boot. Rumble could tell the bathroom was shared –there was an almost segmented line dividing the sink. Flitters side was spotless. Cloudchaser’s was scattered with plenty of her beauty supplies.

A sweet myriad of aromas hung in the air of the bathroom. The naturally strong scent of citrus over-powered most of the others, but a hint of lavender still graced his sense of smell. Rumble sat up, the sloshing water threatening to spill over the side. He needed to finish his bath. Three bottles of shampoo had been sitting in the tub when he’d entered. The bright orange one had caught his eye; when he squeezed it onto his hoof he inhaled deeply, smelling a sweet mixture of citrus and peach. Not wasting any time, he began furiously scrubbing it into his hair, mane, and tail.

Some time passed and he was all clean. A few splintered bits of twig fell out of his hair while drying off with his towel; the hair dryer sitting by the sink went unused. Rumble gave his wings a shake. They were still a bit wet. Most of his feathers were crooked from the accident. It wasn’t like that was a big deal either –in a few days they would all settle back into place. Rumble opened the bathroom door and went downstairs.

“Have a fun bath, kiddo?” Cloudchaser was still sitting on the couch, dressed in the same loose unbuttoned shirt, with her nose in a glossy fashion magazine. There were three cups of cranberry juice sitting on the coffee table next to her. One was half-empty. Another had a bendy stray. Judging by the condensation on the glasses they had been there not too long.

“It was alright,” he said casually, settling into the beanbag chair and sinking into it. “There were some weird black stuff staining the sink.”

“That’s my eyeliner. I wash it out like, every night before bed,” she replied, lowering her magazine with a slow batting of her eyes.

“Okay,” nodded Rumble. The clock on the wall ticked softly. Usually things weren’t this quiet when he was over. Cloudchaser kept glancing over at him. Eventually Flitter arrived, descending the staircase energetically. The usual bow in her hair was missing. Rumble raised his eyebrows –he couldn’t remember ever seeing her without it.

Instead of sitting down on the couch, she walked over to Rumble. Bending over, she buried her nose in his hair and sniffed.

“Ah-HAH! I told you he’d like my shampoo!” she exclaimed, looking at Cloudchaser triumphantly. Her sister briefly looked up and went back to her magazine.

“So what?”

“What do you mean’ so what’?” Flitter scoffed. “I know if he picked your shampoo you’d be making funna the stuff I use.”

“Well, it is kinda strong.”

“It is NOT! It smells delicious!” she gave Rumble a quick noogie. “He smells delicious.”

“Whatever,” Cloudchaser faked a yawn.

Flitter stuck out her tongue.

“Just saying, the unscented shampoo doesn’t clash with what I put on my coat,” she continued.

“If you knew how to pick out the right ones, CC, they wouldn’t mix wrong.”

That seemed to strike a nerve. “Alright, y’know, I don’t feel like arguing over this with you tonight, okay, Flitter? C’mon, little guy is here,” she dropped her magazine and the twins both zeroed in on him. Rumble froze mid-reach for a glass of cranberry juice. What did they want? Was he supposed to say something?

“So, how about you tell us what happened with your eye?” suggested Cloudchaser, before he could say anything.

The bruise was the only thing that his bath couldn’t wash away. Rumble automatically put his hoof over it. “Do I have to?”

“Nah,” said Cloudchaser dismissively. “It’s probably a long story. Like, I hate long stories. You don’t got to tell it if you don’t wanna…”

“I wanna know!” Flitter received a disapproving glance from her sister. “What? Just look at him!”

“Chill out, will you?”

“Why’re you always telling ME to chill?”

The twins locked eyes for an intense moment. Not wanting to delve back into an argument, Flitter backed away from her sister. She approached Rumble with a concerned look etched across her face.

“Hey!” Rumble flinched, twisting away from Flitter. Her hooves were at his wings. Rumble gave them a gentle flap. “What are you doing back there?”

Flitter kept probing his wing feathers. “Look how crooked these are! Were you gonna sleep like this!?” A slight pain shot through his shoulders. “Tell me your brother doesn’t let you go to bed like this all the time. That’s way irresponsible of him.”

“Sometimes,” Rumble jumped off the beanbag. “It’s not a big deal.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, squirt,” Cloudchaser folded away the magazine. “A kid your age shouldn’t be going to bed with your wings outta shape. Crooked quills are no joke. Get up here on the couch. Right now.”

Cloudchaser tucked her wings in and sat up. Gently patting the cushion, she motioned for him to come sit next to her. Rumble timidly trotted over to the seat. There was just enough room for three on the couch. Flitter had taken to the air and was silently hovering over them. Cloudchaser combed through his wings.

“Mmm… yeah, these need fixing. Flying home on them didn’t help. I could fix this for you, no sweat,” she ran her hoof through his right wing, her touch like a gentle breeze. Rumble felt himself sigh, his feathers quivering.

“How? Are you talking about… I forget what it’s called.”

“Preening,” answered Flitter. This got a jolt from Rumble –he hadn’t noticed her hovering above him.

“Flit, d’you remember when we used to go to the spa on Wednesdays to get our wings done?”

“Oh. My. Gosh! Of course I do!” Flitter smiled broadly. “Wasn’t Harriet the absolute best when it came to preening? That griffon knew how to use her beak.”

The enthusiasm in her voice caught her sister. “Totally! I think Gwendlyn was great too. Those talons of hers was so sharp but like, sooo gentle,” Cloudchaser flicked her ear and sighed. “I could have her scratch my ears for hours. Pretty good with her beak, too.”

“Aww I miss Gwendy,” said Flitter fondly. “We totally need to go back. The spa here is so lame! No griffons at all!”

“Like, guh!” Cloudchaser nodded in agreement. “It’s just Earth ponies and mudbaths. My wings deserve deluxe treatment. It’s not like we can get Harriet or Gwendy to come here just for us.”

“Imagine if we could?”

“Ohhh I would never leave the spa, ever!”

“Me too! Let somepony else kick dumb clouds. I’d just sit there and let them pamper me all day long.”

The twins sighed, momentarily lost in fond memories and fantasies. Rumble was momentarily free of their attention. He coughed and the girls snapped out of their daze.

“Anyway, yeah, we’re gonna preen your wings so they’re all good to go,” said Cloudchaser clumsily.

“How? Neither of you have beaks.”

Cloudchaser playfully gnashed her teeth at him. “C’mon Rumble. Beaks are king but like, look, we’ve all got teeth. It’s just being careful with them. Totally natural. I bet your mom took care of them for you when you were little. ‘Course once your wings are big enough you learn to do them yourself.”

“It won’t hurt?” his voice didn’t waver from uncertainty. Rumble was sure whatever minor pain wouldn’t actually be a bother. He’d never done this before. Or remembered it anyway.

“Not if I do it,” Flitter shoved her sister off the couch. “I was always better at preening that CC was. “

“Slowest at it too,” said Cloudchaser sharply.

“Pfft! Preening isn’t a race, sis, it’s an art.”

An argument between those two could last for hours. It was making him feel tired. Rumble was worn out from his long day and he stretched his legs out in the meantime. As the twins argued over the intricacies of preening, Flitter began directing him around the couch; at one end, over to the other, until finally he found himself draped over the sofa’s arm. Flitter tapped his wings until he stood them up; the touch was a bit rougher than he expected. His tail flagged against her belly.

“I’m just putting them up,” she gently rubbed the small of his back. “Don’t get all antsy.”

Rumble promised not to move and Flitter returned to inspecting his wings. Instead he stared straight at the wall. A picture of Flitter, Cloudchaser and Thunderlane stared back at him. It was an old photo. According to Thunderlane, this was two months before he was born. Cloudchaser even still had braces. They had taken it in Las Pegasus outside the Skyfall Casino. They were smiling together, bunched up in a tight hug, the glare of the sun threatening to wash out the entire picture.

“Oh!” he inhaled sharply. Teeth were at his wings. Flitter had begun working them. Rumble gripped the arm of the sofa tightly. Hopefully it wouldn’t feel too weird. Maybe if he focused on the picture he’d-


Whatever alien sensation he was expecting…wasn’t there. Instead, he felt tiny little pricks of his quills being set back in place along his wings. Flitter was methodically working his primary feathers, her warm breath caressing his right wing, catching his shoulder as she worked. The top part of her jaw kept grazing the stiffer bone of his wing. Rumble felt his whole body relax. It was sublime; like he was back in the bathtub again. A longer crooked feather was re-aligned and Rumble sighed happily, shivering slightly. This felt really good. No wonder the two sisters were going on about the spa in Cloudsdale.

Cloudchaser slunk off the sofa. Treading softly, she positioned herself directly in front of him –dominating his view with her smiling face.

“Feelin’ good, kiddo?” she asked him gently.


“Thinking you were kinda silly now for not askin’ about this sooner, aren’tcha?”

Every muscle on his back felt completely relaxed. “Yeaaaah,”

“So, me an’ Flit still want t’know about your friend,” her words were smooth as silk. Rumble stared foggily as she kept talking. “Mostly with what happened today. The whole story. So, can you tell us?” She leaned over him, real close, warm breath caressing his face. “Can you tell me?”

Under Flitter’s gentle caressing and her sister’s gentle prodding Rumble couldn’t help spilling the details of his day. Starting with the morning, he led the twins through his whole, his encounters in town, meeting Pinkie Pie, dealing with Diamond Tiara, his friends, until he began describing the lemonade stand. Cloudchaser interrupted Rumble’s careful retelling of his day.

“So what is Scootaloo like?”

Rumble sighed deeply. “Well, she’s my height. I think she’s old as me too. I didn’t ask though. Her coat is orange, like orange sherbert –her mane and tail are purple, and she has purple eyes just like mine. Most of the time she gets around on her scooter,” his half-smile faltered, “and she can’t fly yet.”

“Is she cool?” asked Cloudchaser.

“Way cool,” grinned Rumble. “Scootaloo knows a ton of sweet tricks. If I ever got my own scooter I’d so ride around with her!”

Flitter’s wings shot up on her back. Cloudchaser looked over at her with excitement in her eye, the corners of her mouth curled into a grin. Something Rumble had just said really caught her attention.

“Sounds like your fillyfriend is a real cutie,” commented Cloudchaser.

“She’s not my fillyfriend!” Rumble snapped out of his trancelike state for a moment.

“Sor-ry!” Cloudchaser theatrically backed away. “I didn’t know Scootaloo was ugly.”

“Hey she isn’t ugly! Scoot-” he stopped himself, biting his lower lip. That was all Cloudchaser needed to hear.

“So you do think she’s cute,” a huge grin stretched across her face. “Awwwwww.”

“I-I didn’t.“

“Somepony’s gotta crush…”

“Cloudchaser, stoppit,” he tried burying his face into the arm of the sofa, unable to hide the crimson blush painting his grey face.

A soft giggle escaped Cloudchaser’s lips as she reached a hoof over to stroke his cheek. “C’mon, big guy. It’s okay for a colt your age to have a lil’ sweetheart,” she said tenderly. Rumble only whimpered into the fabric, blushing harder. Flitter moved to his left wing. The giddiness in her gut was distracting her careful work; she so wanted to jump into this conversation! Unfortunately she needed to keep her mouth busy. One more wing to go.

“Lucky you,” continued Cloudchaser, “finding somepony in this town so quick. Your big bro would be super proud. I know I am,” she paused for a moment. Rumble looked up at her, and her breath caught when she saw the dark bruise circling his eye. “Even if she is a little rough around the edges right now.”

The look on Rumble’s face softened. He had been through a trying day. Exhausted as he was, he still fought to stay awake –even with his eyelids drooping. The warm sensations spreading through his back and shoulders were certainly helping. Sensing he’d be drifting off to sleep soon enough, Cloudchaser began pumping him for more info.

“Sooo, what happened with your eye?” she tipped his chin up with her hoof.

“Noffin,” he yawned hugely, smacking his lips.

“C’mon dude, you can tell me!” her tail flicked back and forth behind her. “It’ll be our secret.”

“Secret,” mumbled Rumble, looking determined. “Gotta keep a secret.”

“Mhm, with me?”

“Uh-uh,” he shook his head.

“Pretty please?” offered Cloudchaser. “Did your cute little friend wallop you or not?”


“Rumble if you don’t tell me I’mma wallop you!”

That got a quiet laugh out of the sleepy colt. “Y’know inna way, y’remind me of Scoots, sorta.”

Flitter bit down on his feather a little harder than she was supposed to. Luckily for her it wasn’t comparable to tugging on a quill. A few seconds later and Rumble had drifted off to sleep, snoring softly on the armrest, erect wings automatically folding to his sides when Flitter let go.

“Way to be so good at preening!” hissed Cloudchaser, disappointed that Rumble drifted off before she could get any more out of him.

“Kitchen,” replied her sister, practically sprinting to the other room. Cloudchaser took her time getting over there. When she arrived the water in the sink was running. Flitter was washing her mouth out with cool water; she spit as soon as her sister sauntered in.

“Oh my gosh, can you believe all that?” she said in between another mouthful of water. “That is waaay too cuuute! I might honestly die.”

Cloudchaser simply shook her head. “Still don’t know about his eye. Even if she likes him, punching him in the face is one heck of a rocky way to start things off.”

“You probably coulda gotten him to tell us if you asked better questions,” Flitter rolled her eyes. “Talk about beating around the bush ‘til the last minute, CC.”

“Like, guh, he’ll probably wake up in thirty anyway.”

“Rumble was wiped out. No way he’s waking up.”

“I bet he is.”

“Whateverrrr,” snapped Flitter.

“Ooh, what’s got your feathers in a bunch?”

“I’m not mad at anything.”

“Yes, you totally are. I saw the look on your face before. Rumble called me cute,” teased Cloudchaser.

“Did NOT,” Flitter scowled at her sister. “All he said was you just reminded me of her.”

“Uh-huh, cuz she’s cute. I always knew he liked me more,” the mirthful grin on her face was driving Flitter mad. “Oh my gosh, you are actually jealous, aren’t you? Hee-hee, look who’s so jealous.”

“NO! I’m not. I’m like, totally okay with him liking you more than me,” Flitter sunk to the floor. “Even though I try to talk to him more and play with him more and be super nice to him and h-hang out,” her eyes were getting glassy, “an’ help him with his h-homework a-n, and, and I-“

Flitter swallowed hard, her lower lip trembling. Cloudchaser dropped her teasing smile and sat down next to her sister. A quiet tear rolled down Flitter’s cheek, and she sniffed when her sister draped a wing around her back.

“Come on. Don’t get all emotional on me,” Cloudchaser cooed, trying to calm Flitter down. “Shhh. Hey. You know he likes you. I was just playing.”

“I-It’s true though,” she sniffled. “He likes, you, b-better. It’s not fair, CC, I’m the one who, who’s,” she sniffed again. “I just annoy him d-don’t I?”

“Noooooo,” began Cloudchaser. “Okay maybe a little.” Flitter broke into another bout of sobs. “I keep telling you to stop treating him like a little foal. Rumble isn’t five anymore. Eventually he’s going to be a grown-up stallion taller than me an’ you both; maybe even Thunderlane. Right now, the last thing he wants is to be babieed. You’re still doin’ that to him him, Flit. I’ve told you. It’s not about who spends the most time with him –it’s about how you treat him during that time.”

The sobbing from her sister began to die down as she digested all that. When the last subdued hiccup escaped her lips, Cloudchaser stopped stroking her mane and looked at her. “Do you get me?”

“Y-Yeah, I think so,” her voice still trembled. “Oh CC, I don’t want him to grow up. I want him to stay my cute little Rumbly-Bumbly,” before her sister could speak she continued, “but, y-yeah, you’re right. I need to stop treating him like this.”

“Gonna quit all the gushy baby talk?”

“I’ll stop, all of the gushy baby talk,”


“And I’ll start treating him,” Flitter gulped, “like he’s a young stallion; not a foal.”

“A young stallion with a fillyfriend,” stressed Cloudchaser. “Right?”

“Right. I promise.”

Cloudchaser was satisfied with her reply. “Cool. I’m sure he’ll stop finding you annoying immediately.”

The two Pegasi sat with their backs against the cool refrigerator for what felt like a long while. Neither spoke. The only sounds were their gently breathing and the hum of the appliance behind them. Cloudchaser lightly grabbed her sisters’ hoof.

“You know if you need tips or stuff I’ll help you,” she whispered. “I love you, even if you are the most annoying sister on the planet sometimes.”

Flitter felt the warmth of the comment settle over her. “Me too, sis, for you, and Thunder, and Rumble. Sorry I’m such a crybaby.”

Flitter found herself in a tight hug. “You make sucha sap out of me,” said Cloudchaser, nose-deep in her sister’s mane. After another second she pulled away. “Now, what the hay was that all about when you got all excited while preening Rumble?”

“Remember when he brought up about meeting that Pinkie Pie?”

Of all the thing to bring up, that tidbit felt out of place. That was something Rumble spared maybe two sentences tops. Cloudchaser nodded her head.

“Well, he said that she was throwing him a party. All the schoolfillies (and us too) are going to be there. Rumble said he would like a scooter of his own,” Flitter grinned mischievously. “See where I’m going with this?”

Cloudchaser looked vexed. “Would we have enough bits for this?”

“Psh, probably! Are you going to help me pool together the perfect party present for him or not?”

Flitter raised her hoof and Cloudchaser eagerly bumped it. “You bet!”


On the other side of town, another sleepover had been well under way. The trio of fillies were safely holed up inside their clubhouse. Sweetie Belle had most of the blankets laid out on the floor for them to sleep. The pillows were bunched up together in the middle. Chip bags and other snack wrappers littered the corners of the room. Apple Bloom sat by the window, yawning loudly.

“It’s not much of a meetin’ if we really don’t got anythin’ to discuss,” she said dejectedly. “Ah was sleepin’ jus’ fine before you two came a knockin’.”

“I know, there’s the thing about it,” replied Sweetie Belle. “It was an emergency.”

“’Parantly. Sweetie, you still got sticks in your hair,” Apple Bloom parted the pink stripe of her fluffy mane and pulled out a twig. “What happened today, anyways?”

“It’s a looong story,” cut in Scootaloo, resting on one of the pillows. Crumbs of honey-nut crisps stained the corners of her mouth. “Don’t really feel like telling it again.”

“Fine,” Apple Bloom yawned in response. “Don’t ‘spose you’d want to talk about anything else?”

Scootaloo inspected her hoof, “Sure, not a big deal.”

“How about the school dance?” suggested Sweetie Belle.

“Ewww! You want to talk about that?” Scootaloo spat her tongue out. “That’s waaay too girly!”

Sweetie Belle played with her mane. “Rarity says it’s utterly imperative to be as girly as possible, all the time, and that our femininity should be cherished.”

Apple Bloom laughed. “Oh come on Scoot! The next one is gonna be the very last one for the whole year! Ah’m definitely going to be at this one; besides, everypony should be there! This one’s shapin’ up to be the best!”

“Right!” nodded Sweetie Belle. “I even found a pony to go with.”

The stunned look on her friends’ faces brought a crimson blush to her white cheeks. “What? Aren’t we supposed to go with a colt?”

“That’s great news!” said Apple Bloom with a clop of her hooves. “Who asked ya?”

“Featherweight did.”

Another moment of silence filled the room.

“Really?!” Scootaloo’s jaw dropped. “That skinny little colt asked you for the dance!?”

“Uh-huh,” nodded Sweetie. “He’s nice, and he was very polite when he asked me to go.”

“This happened today?” asked Apple Bloom

“I ran into him on the way to my sister’s store. He was with his dad.”

“That’s good on ya, Sweetie! Why, Ah haven’t even started thinkin’ about who’s gonna ask me. Or maybe I should be the pony doin’ the askin’ around…”

Apple Bloom sat down. “Why, there’s more fillies than colts around town for the moment, far as I reckon, and I don’t wanna get stuck with somepony like Snips.”

They all laughed. “I think he’s got a crush on you, Apple Bloom,” said Scootaloo. “Whenever you talk to him he gets red as a tomato!”

“Too bad for Snips then,” giggled Apple Bloom. “Everypony knows my favorite fruits are apples!”

“Those aren’t fruits.”

Apple Bloom looked at Sweetie Belle as if she sprouted another head.

“Don’t be pullin’ mah tail. Ah know what an apple is.”

“No, tomatoes.”

“Where’d you hear that from?”

“The tomato lady.”

“Ah think she needs to take a tomato break,” Apple Bloom rolled her eyes around. “Anyway, there’s no way I’d ever go with Snips, so I guess that leaves him with you, Scoot.”

“Augh! Gross!” Scootaloo made a retching noise and her friends laughed again. “Even if I were going to that dance, I’d only want to be with somepony tough like me.”

“Somepony tough, like Rumble?” suggested Apple Bloom.

Scootaloo harrumphed. “No! No way!”

“Ya gotta admit that he’s pretty tough.”

“I don’t need to admit anything!”

Scootaloo turned over and sighed loudly.

“Aw c’mon. Whatcha got against him?”

Scootaloo said nothing.

“Ah think he’s kinda sweet.”

This prompted the orange filly to roll over and scowl at Apple Bloom.

“Then you go with him,” she said, flicking her tail. “I don’t want to talk about boys, or this namby-pamby dance anymore! Good night!” Scootaloo pulled as much blanket she could with her hoof and rolled over.

“Maybe Ah will! Goodnight…” muttered Apple Bloom. “Cranky pants.”

They sat quietly until they could hear Scootaloo snoring softly under the covers, and the Apple Bloom nudged the ivory filly. Sweetie explained that to her that Scootaloo was probably really tired. It wasn’t much of a satisfactory answer, and Apple Bloom motioned for her to come outside on the porch. The night had gotten colder; their breath was visible when they spoke. The two fillies leaned against the railing, leaning close to keep warm.

“So what’s bit her in the rump?” asked Apple Bloom.

“It’s a bit of a long story.”

“Ah’m awake now. So tell me anyways.”

So Sweetie did. Doing the best she possible could she recounted what happened between Scootaloo and Rumble after they left. It was a short story, due to Sweetie’s foggy memory concerning the order of events. The scooter ride was the shortest –all she said was that they were riding together before crashing. Mentioning that the scooter was busted drew a gasp from Apple Bloom.

“We just gone and collected enough bits to replace that cracked wheel!”

Sweetie Belle sighed. “I knowww. Isn’t that just the worst?”

“Where is it anyway?”

“What? The wheel?”

“The scooter, ya nincompoop!” she ruffled Sweetie’s mane.

“Oh! I think it’s somewhere under the bush by the hospital road. Unless Scoot moved it somewhere. I didn’t ask.”

“No wonder she’s sore,” Apple Bloom rubbed her shoulder. A minute passed before either of them spoke. “Did Featherweight really ask you for the dance?”

“Mhm, and I wasn’t even expecting anypony to ask me either.”

“Hope Snips doesn’t ask me. Ah would hate to see the look on his face. It’s just that Ah’m not too keen on him is all,” her ears drooped.

“Were you serious when you said about asking Rumble?”

Apple bloom shrugged. “Naaah… Ah think. Maybe? It’s an idea. What pony wouldn’t want to go with him? He’s nice, cool, strong, got a pretty good head on his shoulders. Not saying anything for sure now, but it’s a solid maybe.”

The wind picked up again and the two fillies shivered.

“Let’s call it a night, okay?”

“Sure thing,” Sweetie felt her teeth chattering. The door to the clubhouse barely creaked, and it was much darker inside than out thanks to the thick curtains. It was dead silent, too. The girls yawned and found themselves a blanket and pillow each.

“Hey Apple Bloom?” whispered Sweetie.


“Do you think that Scootaloo… likes Rumble?”


“Couldn’t really say. Though there’s plenty o’ reasons for her not to. Why?”

“I was just wondering.”

“Don’t think too hard over it,” Apple Bloom’s voice was stern, but quiet. “Though, she did sound awfully snappy when Ah brought him up.”

“So you think she does?”

“Ah think we’ve still got one heck of a bad track record when it comes to these things. We’ll jus’ wait and see how things turn out. Ah’m beat.”

“Me too,” Sweetie Belle yawned. “See you tomorrow morning.”

“G’night, Sweetie.”

The two fillies drifted off to sleep almost immediately, the once dead silent room now holding the sounds of their gentle breathing. So caught up in their chatter, they didn’t even realize upon entering that Scootaloo had ceased her snoring. The orange filly was wide awake, staring into the wall of the clubhouse and twisting the edge of her blanket into a knot. She caught a glance at the dark bruise on her hoof and felt her stomach knot itself up worse than the blanket.

It was another fitful few minutes of Scootaloo trapped with nothing but her thoughts before she drifted off into a fitful sleep.