"A family is a little world created by love."
"Happy Hearth's Warming Eve, Squirt"
The streets of Ponyville were empty- everypony had gone off to celebrate the holiday. The air was chilled, with an indigo sky so dark even the most dim stars stood out like giant fireflies. The sides of the street were lined with a thin layer of snow. It was an unusually snow-less Hearth's Warming Eve - briskly cold, but not cold enough for snow to remain in its crystallized state.
Scootaloo slowly trotted down the empty road, head hung low and tail tucked between her legs- both out of depression and as a means to keep herself warm in the chilly night air. The gentle gust, persistent in its presence, made the filly's purple mane flicker.
She lifted her head, her set of violet eyes looked left, then right. Nothing but darkened shops and illuminated homes, candles perched in the windowsills, flickering behind the glass as she walked on. She thought about her final destination - her home - picturing her mother drunk off cider, laying on the couch with a pair of misty eyes, staring into nothingness.
Every year Scootaloo would make the same wish, that her mother would take a break from drinking on Hearth's Warming Eve, that she'd pay attention to her daughter for once with a sober mind. That's all she wanted. No amount of itchy, wool sweaters or plastic Wonderbolt figurines were enough to lift her spirits.
She had to deal with the sad truth that her mother wouldn't stop her grief-causing binge drinking. Ever since her father passed away, it was the same thing every day. She'd come home from school, the smell of alcohol wafting into her nostrils- a stench she couldn't stand. Breathing through her mouth, she would make her way into the living room to see her drunken mother laying on the couch, nearly passed out. A mug of cider in one hoof as her other lay limp over the edge of the couch, touching the white carpet- colored so to make the two pegasi feel like they lived in the clouds when in reality they resisted on the outskirts of Ponyville.
"Mom?" Scootaloo would ask, gently letting her saddlebag slide off her back, landing with a solid "thunk" on the floor. Her mother would turn, red eyes meeting her daughter's moist ones. Her blue mane like a bird's nest, no rhyme or reason to it. It just existed.
"Hey...hey Scoots..." she mumbled, still drunk. Scootaloo knew she probably wouldn't even remember this conversation. She often wondered if her mother even remembered anything at this point. She was always so out of it, so deep in a dark void of black emptiness, it was hard to tell when she was attentive.
"Did you make dinner?" Scootaloo asked, to which her mother would respond by fluttering her eyes back and putting a hoof above them, rubbing some of the drunkenness out of them.
"No...no...sorry." she mumbled. Scootaloo sighed and turned to leave when her mother called back. "Why...why don't you...your father. He could cook."
The filly's eyes shut, teeth clenched as she felt the stabbing pain in her heart, through the void her father took with him when he passed on. Her mother was so keen on forgetting everything about his death, and the cider always managed to help her do this. When drunk, she would have no coherent memory of her husband's untimely death. She lived in a fantasy where he still lived.It was a fantasy she forced herself into living every hour of every day in her miserable life.
Scootaloo could have corrected her, like she always did. She could have turned around and told her that she couldn't have her father make dinner for her, because he wasn't home. And he would never come home. But it was futile, as she knew all too well. Her mother would just scoff at it, sometimes even going to far as to scold her daughter in a long-winded, slurred speech about how she "never should say things like that about her father, it's bad luck." But more often than not she'd simply shake her head and tell a simple lie.
Scootaloo let out a sigh, "I'll go ask him."
With that, she walked over to the joint kitchen and dining area. It was remarkably clean, considering the lack of care her mother put into it. Not that she put care into much of anything, especially herself. To her left were cupboards and counter-tops, glistening and empty. She then turned to her left to see a wood table, just as devoid as the counters.
All that empty table did was make her feel more hopeless and alone. With Hearth's Warming Eve coming up, all she heard in school was the plethora of meals her classmates were having for their holiday dinner. Diamond Tiara bragged about her father planning to serve a fancy dinner consisting of wheat steak and deviled eggs. Apple Bloom talked about the long line-up of apple treats her family was serving, from apple pie to apple turnovers and even fresh apple juice from some apples harvested before the snow came in. Sweetie Belle said her parents were working with Rarity to make a high quality meal too, in addition to a dessert called creme brulee. Scootaloo didn't know what it was, but from what Sweetie Belle said, it sounded delicious.
The depressed pegasus quickly made herself a simple bowl of cereal- like the typical morning on a school-day. After putting the milk away, Scootaloo brought the bowl over to the empty table, tossed in a spoon, and sat down on the cold, hard chair. Her eyes gazed down at the cereal, little grains floating on the milk. She scooped some milk onto the spoon and pulled it out. She then tilted it sideways, letting the cold liquid run back into the bowl. She did this for a few minutes, cheek leaning against her free hoof- elbow pressed down onto the hard table-top. She turned to look out a nearby window, the sun had already begun to set. She imagined her friends sitting down, ready to chow down on their great meals with their loving families, all there to celebrate the holiday together- supportive and loving.
Then she looked back down at her sad bowl of cereal, her face barely visible in the milk. She lifted the spoon up, gazing at her reflection- tired eyes were half-closed with dark circles beneath them. But her exhausted looking eyes weren't caused by a simple lack of sleep. It was caused by the direction her life was taking.
The sound of a screeching cat shattered Scootaloo's dream. She shook her head, realizing she was still in the middle of the street. Her skin felt chilled, even with her fur's warmth. A silver trash-can tipped over, spilling garbage into the street. Moments later, a black alley cat tumbled out, landing in the pile of soiled diapers and half-eaten bananas that had once filled the can.
Lights within the nearest house flickered on before the door opened- revealing an irritated-looking stallion. The angry pony stepped out into the night, looking down to see his tipped-over trash-can and the cat, which lay sprawled out in the debris.
"Hey!" The stallion screamed, stomping his hoof on the ground to get the cat's attention. The feline's ears perked up, its green eyes flashed at the angry stallion before it scampered towards the other side of the street.
"And you stay away!" he screamed, kicking the ground right behind the cat. The feline made its way across the street, the stallion spat. "Rummaging through my garbage on Hearth's Warming Eve... mangy hairball."
He retreated back into his warm house, slamming the door. Once the door was shut, and the light from inside the house blocked. The cat tentatively lifted its paw and gave it a few, quick licks, the glistening red of blood was visible under the streetlight. The cat put its wounded paw down and looked around, its green eyes like fireflies in the obscured night. It then scampered away, disappearing from sight as the night consumed it.
Scootaloo pitied the poor creature, imagining it's thin frame stalking up and down the streets, looking for something to eat. Would it have killed the pony to give it a sliver of food?
Sighing, Scootaloo decided not to think anymore about the cat, lest she further lose herself to misery, and was about to trek on when somepony called out to her.
"Scootaloo, is that you?"
Scootaloo stopped. She would recognize that voice anywhere. Slowly, she turned around to see, flying up above her, a very happy Rainbow Dash. .
"Oh, hi Rainbow Dash." Scootaloo said, forcing a smile that didn't want to appear. "What's up?"
"Nothing really. I'm just doing one of my night-time flights." the cyan pegasus said in her typical 'show-off' way.
"I didn't know you flew at night." Scootaloo muttered.
"Yeah, it's sort of my own little thing. Everypony else is asleep, so the skies are clear. I can go as fast as I want. Plus I enjoy the cool air running through my fur. Most ponies would think it's too cold, they're wimps. But not me, I can handle anything." Rainbow Dash said with a cocky snicker, her breath turning to steam with each laugh- further making Scootaloo realize how chilly it was. The mare landed on the ground right beside the little, orange filly. "So, anyway, what are you doing outside at this hour? Shouldn't you be home or something?"
Scootaloo looked down, digging her hoof into the ground. She was unsure of what to say.
"I was...sort of on my way home...now..."
Rainbow Dash's cocky expression fell, replaced by concern. "Scoots, what's up? You seem down about something."
There was that name.
To her, it was a sign of closeness. A name only her closest friend would call her. Unsurprisingly, the little flightless pegasus loved when Rainbow Dash would call her "Scoots" since it made her feel more like an equal.
But not now, not when she felt so vulnerable that the slightest breeze could send her flying off into the night. The cyan pegasus landed onto the ground near her admirer.
"There's something's bothering you, isn't there?" Rainbow Dash said, genuine concern lingering in her voice. Scootaloo didn't give a verbal answer- she simply nodded.
"Do you want to talk about it?" the mare asked, gently placing her hoof onto the filly's back.
Scootaloo wanted to talk to her. She felt an overwhelming desire to break out the waterworks right in the middle of the street. But the fear of doing so in front of Rainbow Dash- a pony she put onto such a pedestal it would make Princess Celestia blush- made her repress her turmoil. She simply shook her head and squeaked out a reply.
"No...no I'll be fine."
Rainbow Dash raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure?"
Scootaloo nodded. "Yeah. It's like what you always say, only the weak let their problems slow them down."
Once the words passed her lips, Scootaloo swore she saw Rainbow Dash grimace. Truth was those were the words of the cyan mare herself, uttered while grounded in the hospital with a shattered wing.
Beside her fallen idol, sitting in a cold chair, Scootaloo listened as the doctor told Rainbow Dash how she might never fly like her old self again. He presented them with a flimsy x-ray of her shattered wing, pointing at the fractures with a capped pen, as if he was trying to emphasize the horrid truth rather than simply tell it. Scootaloo gritted her teeth, feeling like the doctor was passively mocking Rainbow Dash's condition. But she kept put, holding back the rage she felt for her crippled friend.
Scootaloo remembered seeing the look of devastation on her idol's face, lasting even after the doctor left. Not that this was surprising. A speed demon like Rainbow Dash being told that she might never fly at high speeds again was like telling a shark they might never be able to swim, or telling Twilight that she might never again be able to read.
Scootaloo tried to move off of the topic, discussing school and asking Rainbow Dash if she met and cute stallions she thought about asking out on a date. This made the older mare smile, filling Scootaloo with hope that she might be able to bring her back to her old, cocky self.
Soon enough, the two pegasi were talking about recent endeavors in their lives. They laughed about failed cutie mark crusader escapades, they chuckled about recent competitions between Applejack and Rainbow Dash, many of which were embarrassing. They even had a competition to see who could get a stallion to kiss them first. Rainbow Dash discussed how she and her country pony friend went from stallion to stallion, trying to get a kiss out of them. After a few hours, Applejack finally managed to snag Caramel, who had been enjoying a frothy vanilla shake at Sugarcube Corner. He barely had a minute to enjoy his drink before the desperate, country mare stormed the place, took him by the back of his mane, and dragging him off. One quick, forced peck on the lips later, Applejack claimed victory over her pegasus rival.
Once the story was finished, Scootaloo watched as Rainbow Dash's smile fell ever so slightly- like she was disappointed about something. Was it the fact that she lost the competition that upset her, or was it something more? Scootaloo couldn't tell exactly what made her upset, but it was clear that something was wrong, and chances were that it was something more than simply losing a contest.
Noticing how Rainbow Dash's attitude seemed to be heading into a nose-dive, back to a state of depression, she decided to boost the mare's ego a little.
"I'm sure those stallions were just intimidated by how awesome you are. Some stallions can't handle being with a mare that owns them at coolness ."
This caused Rainbow Dash's weakened smile to regain some life. "Maybe. I like to imagine that's the reason, though I'm not sure. But I really appreciate the compliment, kiddo. Thanks"
Scootaloo blushed a little. "Well, I'm just happy that I got you to smile after...everything."
When saying 'everything', Scootaloo gestured to Rainbow Dash's immobilized wings. The mare looked at her bandaged appendages, her smile seemed to fall for the slightest second before it returned. She let out a soft chuckle, her eyes still on her wings. "It'll be fine, I guess."
She then looked down at the filly. "After all, only the weak let their problems slow them down."
Scootaloo grinned, a feeling of great enthusiasm washing over her. "And you are strong."
Rainbow Dash nodded, "He-he. Yep, that I am squirt. Tougher than a box of nails."
The cyan pegasus ruffled Scootaloo's mane a bit, causing her to squeal in delight. The two spent a couple more minutes together before Scootaloo had to head home. They bade each other goodnight before Scootaloo walked off. Before the filly reached the door, Rainbow Dash opened her mouth.
Scootaloo turned around expectantly. Hoping that maybe Rainbow Dash would ask her to stick around for a while longer. "Yeah?"
Rainbow Dash was about to answer, but stopped. Her eyes looked up at Scootaloo, then down at her hooves, neatly placed across her tummy as she lay in her bed. The cyan mare shook her head.
"Nevermind I...I just wanted to thank you again, is all."
Scootaloo felt a pain of disappointment hit her stomach- her hope had been for naught. Regardless, she gave her idol an awe-inspired smile- one she gave Rainbow Dash quite often- and nodded. "Of course. You're so awesome Rainbow Dash. There should be a line of ponies waiting to visit you right now."
The mare chuckled. "Yeah, he-he. I wish."
Scootaloo gave Rainbow Dash a quick wave before walking off into the hallway. As she left, she could feel her eyes start to well up in tears. Not because Rainbow Dash didn't ask her to stay- she knew how delusional her dreams of that were. She was upset because she didn't want to leave. She didn't want to leave such an amazing pegasus to the fate of the I.V. tubes and stinky hospital sheets, while she went home to her drunken mother. It felt like a no-win situation, but she wasn't going to impose herself onto Rainbow Dash. Perhaps she wanted to be left alone after hearing such tragic news about her wing.
Either way, Scootaloo felt like she was leaving a piece of her being as she trotted through the double doors of the hospital and into the cool night.
This Hearth's Warming Eve night was different than that night at the hospital. The now fully healed Rainbow Dash seemed determined to keep Scootaloo around. She placed her hoof under Scootaloo's chin, lifting her head so they were looking into each other's eyes.
"I know something's bothering you. And you aren't weak if you admit it."
Scootaloo sniffled, some tears starting to drip from her eyes. "But...but you said..."
"Forget what I said." Rainbow Dash said, taking her hoof out from under Scootaloo's chin to wipe a stray tear that was running down her face.
"I'm fine...I promise." Scootaloo lied, she wanted to let loose an explosion of raw emotion, but was too afraid to seem vulnerable in front of a pony she admired.
"I know that look," Rainbow Dash said, smiling a little. "It's the look of a pony holding back. Come on, I'll take you back to my place. We can talk in private, how does that sound?"
"I...I don't..." Before Scootaloo could protest further, she felt a pair of hooves wrap around her waist and lift her off the ground. She dangled in the air as Rainbow Dash flew them both to her cloud mansion. Scootaloo remained silent the entire flight, not uttering so much as a sound until they reached the entrance to the magnificent home. Gently, the cyan pegasus placed her passenger onto the soft surface of her cloud doormat, standing beside the filly. Rainbow Dash turned to the filly and flashed a reassuring smile. All Scootaloo could do in return was give a quick glance and a tiny, fake smile not even the most gullible pony would believe.
Rainbow Dash opened the door. "Let's go inside."
Scootaloo shook her head. "Rainbow Dash, I really shouldn't..."
"I insist. I'll even make you some hot chocolate." Rainbow Dash said, a small inflection in her voice and a persuasive smile and wiggle of the eye-brows. Scootaloo opened her mouth to decline, but stopped. The coolness of the night, coupled with her love for the chocolatey concoction so often served on Hearth's Warming Eve made it impossible for her to resist. Her mind now on the drink and mountain of whipped cream she imagined on top, led her inside.
Rainbow Dash closed the door and led Scootaloo into the kitchen. She pulled out one of the three chairs at her table, patting the seat enticingly. Slowly, as if treading on eggshells, Scootaloo made her way over to the chair and hopped up. Rainbow Dash flew off to the kitchen to whip up some hot chocolate, the entire time Scootaloo looked around her cloud mansion.
The inside was magnificent. Brilliantly colored posters of the Wonderbolts and Daring Do hung all over the walls, the clouds that made up the house were the purest of whites, like freshly fallen snow on a winter's day. The air was comforting and warm, the clouds providing proper insulation from the crisp outside. But even as she took the entire house in, one thought kept popping up in her head. She knew something was missing, something important that no amount of Wonderbolts memorabilia or beautiful, cloud-made furniture could replace.
It was a holiday, and Rainbow Dash was all alone. Scootaloo knew that nearly every mare in Ponyville spent the holidays with at least one family member, close friend, or significant other. But here, in this magnificent mansion, Rainbow Dash was solitary. Not one pony besides the little filly was there to spend the night with her.
"Hey, I got these chocolate shaving thingys from Pinkie Pie the other day." Rainbow Dash held up a clear tube filled with tiny chocolate shavings. "Apparently they're really good with hot chocolate. Do you want me to sprinkle some on for you?"
"Huh?" Scootaloo asked, snapping herself back to reality. "Oh, sure. That sounds delicious."
Rainbow Dash grinned and turned her attention back to the drinks. Scootaloo watched her pop open the cap and sprinkled the shavings onto the drinks, both placed into two mugs. One had the emblem of the rock band "Led Pegasus", while the other had an image of three Wonderbolts on it. The chocolate bits floated onto the top of the mound of whipped cream present in each mug. Capping the bottle of chocolate bits and putting it off to the side, Rainbow Dash made her way over to the where Scootaloo was sitting. She placed the vibrant Wonderbolts mug in front of Scootaloo, and took the more bland rock band mug for herself.
She barely had a chance to sit down when Scootaloo finally mustered up the courage to ask that question that had been simmering in her mind.
"Why isn't your family here?"
Rainbow Dash froze, her flank mere inches above the seat. She looked at Scootaloo, a look of perplexion in her eyes. She let out a weak sigh.
"Just drink your hot chocolate kid." she answered, pushing the Wonderbolts mug closer to the filly. Scootaloo slowly lifted the drink up to her lips and took a sip, feeling the hot beverage make its way down her throat before finally settling in her stomach, soothing her core. She leaned back in her chair and let out a sigh, looking up at the ceiling. The light fixtures hanging above mesmerizing, giving Scootaloo a feeling of being hypnotized.
"So, how is your flying coming along?" Rainbow Dash asked
"Hm? What was that?" Scootaloo said, her voice light as air. She was miles away, her heart not willing to engage in the conversation. Rainbow Dash chuckled.
"Your flying, have you worked on it since I last saw you?"
Scootaloo pondered for a moment before giving a small shrug. "Not really. Crusading and schoolwork has been taking up most of my time. Miss Cheerilee's been burying us with homework the past few days."
"Ah, I see." Rainbow Dash said, taking a sip of her drink. Her eyes rolled back in thought. Scootaloo looked down at the table, the special cloud-safe wood glistening under the light. Finally Rainbow Dash found something to say.
"Yeah, when I was your age I was already trying to duplicate my sonic rainboom. Unfortunately I wasn't able to pull it off again until the Young Flyers Competition last year."
"I remember." Scootaloo said, finally looking down and across the table at the older pegasus. "The Wonderbolts flew you back into town. Everypony was going crazy. So many cameras flashing, ponies trying to get your autograph. It was chaos." Scootaloo snickered, taking another sip of her drink and turning her head to the right.
Over in the corner, she saw a picture of what appeared to be Rainbow Dash as a filly. She slowly got to her hooves and walked over, stopping directly in front of the picture. Sure enough, it was a photo of Rainbow Dash. But it was clearly taken when she was very young. Younger than Scootaloo in fact, she fit the bill of a typical elementary-school filly. The little pegasus filly smiled, noting how little Rainbow Dash's smile had changed since her foal-hood days.
"When was this taken?" she asked.
"That was right before my first day of flight school," Rainbow Dash answered. "He-he, amazing day, that was. Spitballs, burping contests, talking about the Wonderbolts." Rainbow Dash let out a dreamy sigh, her eyes distant and full of nostalgia. "Yeah, it really was a simpler time."
"Where are your parents?" Scootaloo asked. "Are they taking the picture?"
Rainbow Dash opened her mouth as if to respond, but stopped. She let out a sigh. "They weren't in Cloudsdale. They were still on their summer vacation in Las Pegasus. My friend Comet Storm took this with her parents' camera."
Scootaloo looked up at Rainbow Dash. Her typically crystalline eyes carried the slightest bit of haziness in them. She was about to ask something when she saw a tear roll down her cheek, followed by a small, sad sniffle.
"Rainbow Dash, are you okay?" Scootaloo asked. Rainbow Dash snapped out of her apparent daze and looked down at the inquisitive filly, wiping away the dampness in her eyes and on her cheeks.
"Yeah, I'm fine." she said, her tone devoid of the typical cockiness that defined who she was. "Come on, let's go finish that cocoa."
Slowly, she made her way back to the table. But Scootaloo stayed put, an overwhelming anger started to bubble from deep within her- like soda in a shaken bottle, ready to burst.
"I wish my mother would go on vacation." Rainbow Dash stopped and turned towards the disgruntled filly. She stared down, though her body faced the image of Rainbow Dash. "I wish she would go and stay on vacation, and never come back."
"Scoots, come on you can't possibly..." Rainbow Dash started, only to be interrupted by the angry filly stomping her hoof. Scootaloo couldn't hold back anymore. She was like an underground volcano, laying dormant for many years, suddenly erupting into a plume of rage and heartbreak.
"Why can't she take care of herself for a change! Why does it always have to be me that does everything for her!?! She always wants somepony else to care for her? What about me? What about her daughter!?! Where do I fit into her life of self-pity!?!"
Scootaloo collapsed onto the floor, sobbing like she hadn't in years. Her tears spilled out all around her, her body shaking like a leaf caught in the autumn gust. Rainbow Dash slowly made her way over to her crestfallen pal and sat down beside her, placing a hoof on her back.
"Scootaloo, it's okay. It'll be fine."
"No, <sniff> no it won't." Scootaloo sat up, looking into Rainbow Dash's eyes. Her own violet ones filled to the brim with salted tears. "It hasn't stopped for years. I don't have anypony to care about me, I have to do everything myself. I know my mother is still heartbroken about my dad's death, but her constant grief makes me feel like I lost both parents all those years ago."
Wiping her nose with the back of her hoof, Scootaloo looked up into Rainbow Dash's eyes, "Am I selfish for wanting my mother to put aside her grief for a second so she can look my in the eye and wish my a happy Hearth's Warming Eve? Just once?"
Rainbow Dash shook her head, "Of course it doesn't. You're one of the kindest fillies I know. And I wouldn't give you the time of day if you were selfish." She extended a cyan hoof and wiped a fresh tear from the young filly's face. "There's nothing wrong with wanting affection from your mother."
"But...she's so heartbroken about the whole thing." Scootaloo whimpered. "I'm always afraid that being mad at her is...I don't know...wrong. After everything she's been through.
"Scootaloo, the feelings you have are completely normal." Rainbow Dash said reassuringly, though it didn't improve the filly's emotional state. "Besides, your mother should put her grief aside for your sake. Trust me, I understand how it feels to be a filly, feeling isolated from everypony else. It's a feeling nopony should go through, especially a filly as awesome as you."
Scootaloo managed to give Rainbow Dash a small smile, which fell soon after as the reason for her current state of agony consumed her. The older pegasus' face suddenly became filled with a peaked curiosity. She swallowed and squeaked out a question.
"What...what did happen to you father anyway?"
Scootaloo closed her eyes, images of the funeral, her mother sobbing as they pushed the winged coffin holding her father's body into the sky. She imagined the shining, black box floating off towards the horizon, shrinking to a speck before disappearing altogether.
She opened her mouth to respond, but couldn't find the words. Truth was even to this day she had trouble talking about it. Maybe it was her mother's own attempt to bury herself in denial that caused her to repress her own sorrows for her father. Or maybe she just didn't want to relive that day- the day that made her life turn for the worse.
Scootaloo's mind drifted down memory lane, only brought back when she heard Rainbow Dash interject. "You don't have to tell me if it makes you uncomfortable." Scootaloo opened her eyes, her tensed body position relaxed as she let out a sigh. She looked up at Rainbow Dash, watching as the mare continued speaking.
"I understand how you feel." Rainbow Dash said, looking up at the image of her. Scootaloo followed her eyes. The little cyan version of her idol, all alone on the one of the most important days of her life. In fact, Scootaloo noticed that besides the images of Rainbow Dash with her Ponyville friends, she seemed to be alone in all of her pictures. Scootaloo opened her mouth to speak, but was stopped when she saw a small drop of water land on the ground under Rainbow Dash's face. She turned to see the mare still looking at the picture, her eyes like glass, cheeks streaked with two parallel lines of tears.
After clearing her throat, the saddened mare finally spoke up. "I still feel uncomfortable whenever I bring up how my parents kicked me out of the house after I failed flight school."
Scootaloo's eyes bulged in shock, her mind trying to comprehend what she was just told. "Your...your parents kicked you out?"
Rainbow Dash gave a small sniffle and nodded.
Scootaloo was baffled. She tried to think of possible explanations, but there were none.
"Why would they do that? Just because you failed flight school? That can't be the only reason."
Rainbow Dash chuckled. "To this day I'm not entirely sure, nor am I sure that I want to know. I think it was the tipping point. Years of disappointment at me being a 'screw up' loner with no friends, who always got into trouble at school might have been the root." she chuckled.
"But let's just say when it comes to the relationship I have with my parents." the mare turned to her little fan and smirked, "I don't like to talk about it either."
Scootaloo smiled and leaned into Rainbow Dash, nuzzling her cheek against the older pegasus' leg. Rainbow Dash responded by wrapping her hoof around the filly and bringing her in for a hug. For the next ten minutes both ponies did utter a word. They didn't need to delve into the depths of their past torments, they knew enough to understand each other. For the first time, Scootaloo thought of Rainbow Dash as more than simply a role model. She felt as if they were both part of the same family- like they were family, counting on each other when they needed the most comfort.
Looking up at a clock, Rainbow Dash chuckled. "I think it's time for little fillies to get to bed."
"Yeah I guess. Not that my Mom cares. She wouldn't even notice if I never came home." Scootaloo said with a sigh. She was started to get back to her hooves, prepared to head back out into the cold night to join her inebriated mother. But before she was able to, she was stopped by a cyan hoof. Scootaloo looked up at Rainbow Dash, who looked down at her with a friendly smile.
"Scoots, I was actually sorta wondering...would you like to spend the night here?"
Scootaloo stared at her idol in disbelief, unable to believe her own ears. But the smile Rainbow Dash was giving her was so heartfelt, she knew her offer was true. A huge grin spread across the little filly's face, "Really?"
Rainbow Dash nodded, "Yeah. It's been years since I've had anypony over on Hearth's Warming Eve and..."
Before Rainbow Dash could finish her sentence, she was silenced when the filly gave her an anaconda-like hug. The mare's warmth radiated through Scootaloo's small body, relaxing her core like it had never been. "Thanks Rainbow Dash, you're the coolest."
"Hey come on now, don't get all sappy on me." Rainbow Dash said with a small laugh, wiping the remaining tears from her eyes.
Scootaloo broke the hug and looked up at her idol, still grinning. Their eyes met, both sets showing appreciation for the other. Rainbow Dash lifted Scootaloo up and flew her into her bedroom, leaving their mugs of still warm hot-chocolate on the table. Scootaloo felt herself get gently placed onto the soft bed before Rainbow Dash crawled up beside her, wrapping her body around the filly like a protective pillow.
Scootaloo felt more, soothing heat travel through her body as she snuggled up close to the her hero. It was a feeling she had not felt since her father passed away- back when her mother wasn't lost in her fantasies of intoxication. Now comfortable, her tiredness overwhelming her, Scootaloo looked up at the Rainbow maned pegasus and smiled.
"Thanks for taking me in for the night Rainbow Dash." she said.
Rainbow Dash responded by ruffling her mane and further wrapping her tail around her body. "No problem, thanks for acting like my stress-ball for the night."
Scootaloo let out a small laugh before yawning. Her eyes closed as she slowly let sleep take her, "Good night, Rainbow Dash. Happy Hearth's Warming Eve."
Scootaloo felt Rainbow Dash give her a gentle nuzzle with her cheek.
"Happy Hearth's Warming Eve, Squirt."