Chapter Four: Precocious Crusaders

Rainbow plodded slowly back to the field beneath her home. It was dusk, and the last lights of day were dying behind the distant mountains.

Rainbow’s head was drooped low as she treaded through the park. It would take her longer to get home by going this way, but she always liked seeing the small hills and reddening trees here. She thought it might perhaps lift her spirits.

Rainbow thought she could hear the faint sound of distant shouting, but she couldn’t make out any words. She stopped and her ear twitched a little at it, but then she shrugged and kept walking, ignoring it.

She then heard a second voice shout behind her, “Oh, Rainbow!”

Rainbow looked behind herself to find Rarity cheerfully trotting up to her. A small smile formed on Rainbow’s lips. “Hey, Rare. What’s up?” she said, not entirely melancholically.

“Oh, I was just walking home when I saw you,” Rarity replied.

Rarity stopped before Rainbow. “Your house isn’t this way,” she observed.

Rainbow shrugged. “I thought I’d walk through the park.”

Rarity smiled. “Well, if you’re going home now, my shop’s on the way. Would you like for me to walk with you for a bit?”

Rainbow nodded gratefully. “Yeah. That’d be nice.”

Rainbow appreciated the company, though Rarity accompanied her silently. She’d just lost Applejack and Pinkie… wow. Those two were probably her best best friends. And now she didn’t have them anymore.

The realization made Rainbow feel a little ill. First Gilda, and now Applejack and Pinkie. The friends she had most in common with were of course the friends she’d lost.

Rainbow sighed. Well, at least she and Twilight had their shared love of Daring Do. Maybe she’d go to Twilight for another book recommendation, then they could start discussing that too. And there was always Fluttershy. It was always nice enough just to sit and read a comic with her, or walk with her, or lie with her under the stars…

Rainbow felt herself smiling and lightly blushing at those memories. Then a pang of guilt shot through her, breaking it. No, you had your chance, Rainbow thought. You had Fluttershy. Then you just ditched her the second you weren’t lonely anymore. You used her. You don’t deserve her.

Rainbow raised a brow at this last thought. “Deserve her”? Where did that come from?

Rainbow’s brow furrowed in deep thought. Twilight’s talk with her was making her rethink everything.

Now that Rainbow thought about it, she wasn’t just attracted to Fluttershy. She liked Fluttershy. A lot. Rainbow felt stupid for not realizing it, but she had had an enormous crush on Fluttershy ever since they first met. Even though Rainbow made out and slept with lots of other girls, she loved and spent more time doing it with Fluttershy than anyone else.

Of course, Fluttershy was so gorgeous that she used to be a supermodel, but that wasn’t the only reason; Rainbow had lost her virginity to her. Rainbow asked Fluttershy first, even though she risked rejection and forever having to tell the story of how she, Rainbow Dash, had struck out the first time she asked a girl into bed. She could have asked Gilda first; after all, there was never any chance of Gilda saying no. But even though Rainbow had more in common with Gilda, Rainbow found that she just couldn’t measure up to how awesome it was to be with Fluttershy. There was just something about the cute way she blushed, her adorable little voice, and those sweet, stunning blue eyes…

“WHOOOOOOOOOOO-HOOOOOOOOOOOO!!”

Rainbow was pulled suddenly out of her introspection by a loud, elated whoop. It was from the same voice that carried the distant cries from before, but it was much closer now. Now that Rainbow could hear it more clearly, she recognized whose voice it was: Pinkie Pie.

Rainbow and Rarity stopped and astonishedly looked toward the source of the shouting. They could see Pinkie bouncing, flipping, and cartwheeling over the hills, crying, “YEAH!! WHOO-HOO!! ALRIGHT!!” at the top of her lungs.

After Rarity and Rainbow stared open-mouthed at this for a few moments, Rainbow shook her head and shouted, “Hey! Pinkie!”

Pinkie froze halfway through a flip, turned to Rainbow Dash, and squealed excitedly. In an instant she bolted to a standstill before Rainbow Dash.

Rainbow blinked at the enormously smiling face inches away from hers. She stammered, “Uh… what… what are ya doing, Pinkie?”

Pinkie started bouncing and squealing happily. “You’re a fillyfooler! It’s so great! This is the best surprise ever!”

Confetti spontaneously appeared over their heads as Pinkie continued to laugh and cartwheel in circles around them. Rainbow and Rarity silently stared at Pinkie for a few more moments. Rainbow confusedly said, “You… you’re not angry?”

Pinkie suddenly stopped and tilted her head. “Angry? Why would I be angry?”

Pinkie grinned and started bouncing again. She sang, “You’re a fillyfooleeeeeeer!”

Rainbow anxiously shushed at her. “Not so loud, Pinkie! It’s a secret, remember?!”

Pinkie gasped and dropped to the ground, blushing and covering her mouth. “I’m so sorry, Dashie!” she said.

Rainbow sighed. “It’s alright, Pinkie. Just… be more careful, okay?”

Rarity cleared her throat. “So, do you like Mares too, Pinkie?”

Pinkie leapt back to her feet and nodded vigorously. “Mm-Hmm! I like Stallions, too! Stud Stallions, magnificent Mares, I like ’em all!”

“Four,” Rarity said.

Pinkie stopped moving and she and Rainbow turned perplexedly to Rarity. “Huh?” they said together.

“I’m going to have to tell Spike that four of his friends are fillyfoolers,” Rarity elaborated.

Pinkie made another long, dramatic gasp. She crouched down in anticipation. “Our other friends, too? Which ones?! Which ones?!”

Rarity chuckled lightly. “Twilight and Fluttershy are, too.”

Rainbow Dash frowned. “Applejack’s definitely not,” she muttered coldly.

Pinkie stood back up. “Huh?”

Rarity sighed sadly. “Applejack… didn’t take it well,” she said gently.

Pinkie gasped distressedly. “Why not?” she whispered.

Rarity placed her hoof on Pinkie’s shoulder and looked into her eyes. “Applejack’s… an old-fashioned pony. With old-fashioned values. She just… doesn’t quite understand it.”

Pinkie was utterly distressed and confused. “But why not? Does she think there’s something wrong with it? What is it?”

Rarity looked to the side, formulating an answer. “Well, firstly, her family is very strictly traditional. For the Apple family, it’s expected for a foal to grow up on the farm, marry another Earth pony of the opposite gender, have children, raise them on the farm, and repeat the cycle. It makes some sense; they have to get more help since most ponies don’t want to work on farms, and only Earth ponies are suitable for bucking apples from the trees.”

Pinkie’s eyes widened in shock. “So they don’t even let their children marry Pegasi or Unicorns?”

Rarity groaned lightly. “Well… no, that’s not it. They… um… let their children marry Pegasi and Unicorns, but they strongly pressure their children not to. When one of them marries a non-Earth pony, an Earth pony who doesn’t want to farm, or another pony of the same gender, the rest of the Apple family will shun them until they die or they leave.”

Pinkie gasped. “But that’s… that’s…”

“Bucking backwards?” Rainbow suggested.

“Eh… I wouldn’t put it that strongly,” Rarity said. “I’d say more misguided.”

Pinkie stomped her hoof. “But that’s wrong! Ponies shouldn’t abandon their family members like that!”

Rarity sighed. “I agree.”

Pinkie turned towards Sweet Apple Acres. “I’m gonna go talk some sense into that cowgirl!” she declared fiercely.

Rarity shook her head. “I’m afraid you can’t,” she said sadly. Pinkie turned back to her. “Why not? Maybe if we just told her-”

“No. It doesn’t work that way. Applejack’s too stubborn to change her mind. At least not without something rather… drastic.”

“Like what?” Pinkie asked.

“Well,” Rarity replied, “probably the simplest way would be if she’s repressing an attraction to Mares herself, and something forced her to confront it. She’d almost certainly repress it deeper and grow worse, or come to some kind of acceptance of it and get better.”

Pinkie smiled and bounced. “Do you think that would work?”

“No, because I don’t think Applejack is attracted to Mares.”

“How can you tell?”

“By observing her. Applejack is uncomfortable and cold towards Stallions, but completely comfortable around other Mares. At least as long as she doesn’t think she’s being sexualized by them. Anything having anything to do with sexuality makes Applejack uncomfortable, but she’s perfectly comfortable around Mares; therefore she doesn’t associate Mares with sexuality, and therefore we can reasonably deduce that she’s not attracted to them.”

Rainbow rubbed her head. “So, uh… what else could make her get it?”

Rarity sighed wearily. “Well, since I’m on your side and Pinkie turned out to be a fillyfooler too, Applejack’s more or less lost all of her friends. Maybe that alone will do it. If it doesn’t… well, then there’s a chance that she’ll never understand it, and she’ll never be our friend again. There are a few things more traumatic than losing all of your friends, but not many.”

The three of them sat silently together. There was an air of depression hanging over all of them. After a while Rainbow smiled and said, “Well, at least we still have you,” looking at Pinkie.

Pinkie tilted her head. “What do you mean?”

“I thought you hated me too,” Rainbow said. “When you left, I thought you’d run away from me.”

Pinkie gasped again. “You did? Oh, I’m so sorry, Dashie! I didn’t mean to!”

Rarity smiled. “All’s well that ends well, right?”

Rainbow scoffed. “Yeah. All’s not well, though. We still don’t have Applejack back.”

“We still might get her back,” Rarity replied comfortingly.

Rarity and Rainbow bid Pinkie farewell, then Pinkie walked back to Sugarcube Corner, her head low and ears drooping. “Today I got a great surprise, and now I’ve got a terrible surprise too,” she muttered miserably.

Rainbow and Rarity walked the remaining distance to the Carousel Boutique together in silence. Once Rarity bid Rainbow farewell, Rainbow flew back to her house, immediately went to bed, and took a much-needed rest.

* * *

Though Rarity still had some lingering melancholy from yesterday, she was able to rather cheerfully return to her usual daily schedule. She made herself some breakfast, opened her shop, sold some dresses, and when it was six o’ clock she closed it back up and worked on sewing another dress for an hour. It was Friday, which meant that Sweetie Belle was coming over for dinner. Rarity sighed at this; the last few meals she’d had with others had ended rather disastrously, and she wished she could have even one day of eating alone in silence and tranquility.

However, there was one consolation: though Sweetie didn’t know about homosexuality yet, their parents were completely accepting of gay ponies and Rarity had no reason to believe Sweetie Belle wouldn’t be. It was extremely unlikely that this social meal would end in tears like the last two did.

Rarity groaned. Of course, things were much more uncertain about the aftermath of this meal. Rarity hoped that her conversation with Sweetie Belle wouldn’t lead to even more heartache than everypony was already having, especially since she was going to give Sweetie permission to tell the other Cutie Mark Crusaders. She needed to do it, of course; Sweetie’s gay friends would need all the support they could get. But the real wild card was Apple Bloom…

After Rarity had finished her dress, she mounted it on one of her mannequins. Once she had made finishing touches to it, she prepared dinner. It was nothing more than a simple salad, but Rarity had several dressings that could make it taste like a delicacy. When she had chosen one, she set the table and began drawing up another design as she awaited her sister.

Thirteen minutes later, her bell rang and she heard Sweetie’s high voice call, “Hi, Rarity! You won’t believe what me and the other crusaders did today!”

Rarity smiled and turned to her sister, looking from behind her red reading-glasses. “Hello, Sweetie. Well, why don’t you tell me all about it during dinner? Just let me finish up here.”

Rarity’s white, curly-maned sister grinned. “Okay!” she squealed, and she trotted over to the table.

After Rarity added a few more lines, she folded up her glasses and sat at the table with Sweetie.

Rarity listened attentively as her sister recounted her day of wagon-riding, butterfly catching, and synchronized swimming to her. As Rarity expected, each of these endeavors had ended disastrously, and she chuckled at Sweetie’s descriptions of each of her spectacular failures.

“… and then we had to get a ladder to get Scootaloo down from the tree! After we got her down, I came here!”

“Sounds like an exciting day, Sweetie.” Rarity took a sip of her water. Rarity sat in silence for a while, prompting Sweetie to say, “Hey, is something wrong?”

Rarity shook her head. “No, I’m alright.” She took another sip, sighed, and said, “Sweetie, I have some important things to tell you.”

Sweetie frowned anxiously. “Is it bad?”

“Ah, some of it is. But not… enormously bad.”

Sweetie Belle nodded apprehensively. “Okay…” she said uncertainly.

Rarity took one more sip. “First of all, do you know what ‘gay’ means?”

Sweetie shook her head.

Rarity sighed. “Alright. Well, ‘gay’ is just another way of saying ‘homosexual.’ What that means is to be attracted to other ponies of the same gender. For instance, a gay Mare would have another Mare for her Special Somepony, and by the same token a gay Stallion would have another Stallion for his Special Somepony.”

Sweetie Belle looked a little confused. “You mean… like, dating and kissing and stuff?”

“Yes. And such a couple is called a ‘gay couple’ or a ‘homosexual couple’.”

“So… are Lyra and Bonbon a gay couple?”

Rarity smiled. “Why, yes, they are. You’re very observant, Sweetie.”

Sweetie began looking anxious again. “But… that’s weird. Why would Mares have other Mares for Special Someponies?”

“Because they like other Mares. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just how they are. Most ponies aren’t that way, but some are. I can almost guarantee that you’re friends with at least one gay pony.”

Sweetie’s eyes widened. “Really? Who?”

“Really, it could be any of your friends. Some ponies don’t know who they’re attracted to until they get a bit older, so some of your friends might be gay but not realize it yet. There’s even a chance that you might be.”

Sweetie gasped. “What? But I’m not! I like colts!”

Rarity smiled and said gently, “I’m not saying you are, but you might be. There’s also a chance that you like colts and fillies, which would make you bisexual. That just means that you like both.”

“I don’t think I like fillies.”

“That’s perfectly alright, too. It’s really little more than a matter of taste.”

“Alright.”

“I have another thing to tell you. But first you have to promise not to tell anypony unless I give you permission.”

Sweetie nodded. “I promise.”

Rarity sighed. “Alright. So, secondly, most of my best friends friends are gay. Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash are gay, and Twilight and Pinkie Pie are bisexual. Twilight, Rainbow, and Pinkie all told me just today, but I’ve known Fluttershy is for a while.”

Sweetie’s mouth fell open. “They are?!” she asked, stunned.

Rarity nodded. “Yes.”

“But… why can’t I tell anyone?”

Rarity took a deep breath before answering, “Because there are a lot of ponies that don’t think it’s okay.”

“Why not?”

“Because they’re different from most ponies, and that scares them. Remember how everypony used to be afraid of Zecora? It’s the same thing. It can actually be dangerous for gay ponies to let other ponies know. They often get bullied for it, and sometimes even get hurt for it.”

Sweetie looked horrified. “Ponies will hurt gay ponies?”

“Sometimes. Thankfully it’s somewhat rare, since Celestia is very strict in her forbiddance of it; to do so is called a ‘hate crime,’ and you can go to prison for it.”

Rarity looked out of the window, smiling. “Ponyville’s actually a popular home for gay ponies because it’s considered very safe. Canterlot is virtually free of hate violence since Celestia personally oversees it, and Ponyville enjoys those benefits as well since it’s so close. Canterlot is essentially the go-to destination for gay ponies who want to live in a city, and Ponyville for those who can’t afford it or who want to live in a small town.”

Sweetie Belle shuffled her hooves. “Do some hate crimes happen here anyway?”

“Almost never. But there are still some intolerant ponies here.”

“Like who?”

Rarity grimaced. “Like Applejack.”

Sweetie gasped. “Applejack? She… she-”

“Oh, don’t worry; Applejack doesn’t hurt anypony. She’s a good pony. But… ah, how to put this… she’s been raised to believe that Stallions should only be with Mares, and vice versa. She believes that being gay is wrong.”

“But… but doesn’t she know your friends are gay now? What’s she gonna do?”

“Well, she’s broken up with us. It’s unfortunate, and I’m really quite sad about it. But I must respect her and her beliefs, and hope she eventually understands.”

“Applejack… Applejack isn’t your friend anymore? But…”

Sweetie Belle started tearing up. “Does that mean I… I can’t be friends with Apple Bloom anymore?”

Rarity shook her head. “I doubt it. Applejack might not want to associate with us now, and she might not even want Apple Bloom to associate with any of us, but one good thing about the Apples is they don’t believe in interfering in others’ business. Even if Applejack doesn’t want Apple Bloom to be your friend anymore, I don’t think she’ll stop her.”

Sweetie Belle sighed relievedly and wiped her eyes.

Rarity continued, “You’re allowed to tell Scootaloo and Apple Bloom that my friends are fillyfoolers. But if you do, you must promise to make them promise to not tell anypony else.”

Sweetie Belle cocked an eyebrow. “What’s a fillyfooler? Does that mean a gay Mare?”

“Yes.”

“Ah.” Sweetie Belle narrowed her eyes. “Why am I allowed to tell the other Crusaders?”

“It’s not my place to tell you. All you need to know is I think it would do them good to know.”

Sweetie Belle stared quizzically at Rarity before she said, “Alright…”

Rarity stood up. “It’s time for you to go home. Say hi to mother and father for me.”

Sweetie Belle gave Rarity a small smile. “Alright.”

Sweetie Belle left the Boutique, waving at Rarity. “Good night, sis!”

“Good night,” Rarity called back as the door closed.

Rarity sighed relievedly and stretched luxuriously across her couch. She prayed that she hadn’t just made a huge mistake. She also hoped that Scootaloo wouldn’t feel so alone now…

* * *

The clamor of ponies going about their business in Ponyville was the first sound that Scootaloo heard every morning. As the day began and the familiar sound of the bustling streets filled Scootaloo’s ears, she blearily fluttered her eyes open. She yawned and stretched, causing her quilt to fall from her sleeping-bag. After she had sat up and brushed her short, hot pink mane out of her eyes, she unzipped her tent’s flap and looked outside. The alley and the exterior of her tent were slightly damp from last night’s rain. It was a bit cloudy out today, but not too chilly. She could probably leave her scarf behind today.

Scootaloo went back into her tent, dug up her toothbrush and toothpaste, and brushed her teeth. After she had rinsed her mouth and brush and disposed of the waste water in the alley’s gutter, she looked towards the distant clocktower for the time. It was six eleven. Scootaloo smiled. She’d have plenty of time to get breakfast before school today.

Scootaloo put on her helmet, exited her tent, mounted her scooter, and rapidly beat her small wings to propel her as she rode to Sugarcube Corner. Upon arriving there, she opened the door and rang the shop’s bell. She was immediately greeted by Pinkie Pie, who rushed to the door and said, “Hi, Scootaloo! Do you want some muffins?”

“Yeah,” Scootaloo said.

Pinkie grinned. “What kind?”

“Blueberry, please,” Scootaloo replied. Pinkie winked at her. “Coming right up!”

As Pinkie bounced back into the shop, Mrs. Cake peeked her head in from the kitchen. “Hello, Scootaloo!” she said cheerfully.

“Hi, Mrs. Cake!” Scootaloo called back. “When’s the baby coming?”

Mrs. Cake smiled and walked into the room. She was a middle aged, pleasantly plump blue mare with swirling pink hair. She had three cupcakes for her cutie mark and was wearing a white apron over her prominent belly. As she gently stroked it she answered, “Very soon now. We actually had my baby shower only a few days ago. Pinkie planned it, of course; I don’t think I’ve ever been to a better one!”

Scootaloo grinned. She was very excited to meet the cakes’ new baby. She was even more excited to watch it as it grew up; with an older sister like Pinkie, how could it grow to be anything but awesome?

Pinkie soon game back with a small tray bearing three golden, steaming, wonderful-smelling blueberry cupcakes. Once she set it down on the ground before Scootaloo, the orange Pegasus filly immediately wolfed them down. As usual, they were excellent; nothing could beat the Cakes’ baking.

As Scootaloo was finishing her last muffin, she saw Pinkie merrily mixing more batter, grinning and humming to herself. She seemed like she was in an especially good mood. After Scootaloo swallowed the bite she was currently chewing, she asked, “What’s up, Pinkie?”

“Nothing,” Pinkie replied, almost singing. Scootaloo wasn’t fooled. Pinkie was the very image of every fairy tale’s depiction of a maiden so in love she was drunk on it.

Scootaloo smirked. “Are you thinking about somepony, Pinkie?”

“Mm-Hmm,” Pinkie said, almost absentmindedly.

Scootaloo giggled, then called, “Well, I’d better get ready for school. See ya all later!”

“Bye!” The Cakes and Pinkie called back.

As Scootaloo rode back to her tent, she wondered who it was that held Pinkie’s affections. Did they go on a date on Hearts and Hooves day? Would she start seeing Pinkie with a new Special Somepony soon?

Thinking about it reminded Scootaloo of what- or rather, who- she’d thought about all Hearts and Hooves day. As she watched all the couples go about their romantic outings, she had blissfully imagined herself and the object of her own affections in their place. She and her idol, the Mare of her dreams: Rainbow Dash.

In Scootaloo’s eyes, Rainbow Dash was perfect. In many ways, she embodied what Scootaloo wished she was; she was confident, she was strong, she was fast, and she was beautiful. Scootaloo had admired and adored Rainbow ever since she’d met her when she had first moved to Ponyville.

One of Scootaloo’s greatest ambitions was to be able to fly. Her other great dream was to be loved by Rainbow; for Rainbow to be her lover, and hold and touch and comfort her, and also be her mentor, and push and train and support her until she could finally defy gravity. If that were to happen, Scootaloo would be in pure bliss; she’d touch the sky and share a romance with the greatest flyer and most amazing pony of all time. She’d be in heaven in the embrace of an angel.

Of course, Scootaloo knew it could never be more than a dream. It could only be hers; if it ever touched Rainbow’s ears, Scootaloo was sure she’d lose all she had with Rainbow; Scootaloo knew all too well what other Pegasi thought of her.

Between Scootaloo’s small, flightless wings and her homosexuality, she’d been at the very bottom of the heap in Cloudsdale. The other kids were ruthless to her, and she was the first choice for everypony’s cruel pranks and the butt of everypony’s cruel jokes. Nopony wanted to adopt her (of course), so one day Scootaloo decided she’d run away, inspired the story Ms. Snowpeak told her to comfort her of two fillyfooler Pegasi who’d moved to Ponyville together.

Scootaloo first decided that she would run to Ponyville; firstly because she knew it had a reputation of being more welcoming to ponies like her than other towns, and secondly because she hoped she’d be able to meet those two fillyfoolers Ms. Snowpeak told her about (Ms. Snowpeak refused to tell Scootaloo their names). Once she’d decided that, she listed the things she’d need to survive: a shelter, warm bedding, toiletries, and transportation. Once she’d determined these, she began scourging around for fallen money around cloudsdale. Scootaloo was patient and vigilant, and through the slow collection of bits (which she kept in a shoebox she hid under her low bunk) she was slowly able to collect the necessary funds to purchase what she needed.

It took a while, but not as long as Scootaloo would have thought; she had planned rather frugally, and she found herself surprised at how much money ponies accidentally dropped. Within a relatively short time Scootaloo was able to purchase a small tent, a sleeping bag, a large, plush pillow, a warm quilt, and a backpack. When she had all of her supplies and had stolen her toothbrush and some toothpaste, she wrote a note telling Ms. Snowpeak that she was running away and not to worry. On that night she left the note on her bed, packed her supplies, and snuck out of the orphanage.

After Scootaloo was out she ran to the edge of Cloudsdale, where she broke a small chunk of cloud off of the city’s floor and carefully balanced on it as it floated down to the wide, sparse woods below. When she reached the ground, she ran deeper into the woods. She ran for a very long time, ensuring that nopony would find her. When she was satisfied that she was sufficiently hidden, she set up camp and went to sleep.

It was quite exciting for Scootaloo to be a runaway. As she traveled the long road to Ponyville she camped every night and ate meals of fruit that she took from the trees and filled her backpack with.

In just a few days, she arrived at Ponyville. What they said was right; Ponyville was a million times nicer than Cloudsdale, since it was way less competitive and aggressive than the hierarchical Pegasus city.

Scootaloo settled in and made herself at home in the alleys. She immediately registered herself at the school and made herself known around the town. The residents were at first a bit concerned, since she was a runaway child vagrant. Nonetheless, eventually they grew used to it, since the town was safe and Scootaloo was happy and didn’t cause trouble.

Scootaloo was warmly welcomed by Ms. Cheerilee and quickly became friends with the other students (except for Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, of course). She had no trouble living comfortably; her tent and sleeping bag were always very warm and cosy, and Apple Bloom told her that she was welcome to pick apples from the orchard whenever she felt like it. She was also always able to get free muffins from Pinkie Pie and the Cakes, and the Apples were always happy to have her eat with them, so Scootaloo never went hungry.

As for entertainment, Scootaloo had no trouble being able to join the other fillies and colts in whatever activities they might have been occupied with. Hardly anypony cared that she couldn’t fly, and for those who did the “cool” points she lost for it were balanced out by the ones she gained by being a runaway. As for entertaining herself, Scootaloo continued to forage for loose coins on the streets and saved these up to buy herself everything else she wanted; comics, toys, games, and since Rainbow had introduced her to Daring Do, books. She also always set aside a portion of the bits she collected towards purchasing herself a house someday. All in all, Scootaloo’s life was pretty awesome.

However, Scootaloo never found the fillyfoolers Ms. Snowpeak talked about. Scootaloo had hoped that if she could find them, they might become her mentor figures and be someone she could talk to. Alas, the only outed gay ponies Scootaloo could find were a few gay couples of Earth ponies and Unicorns- but never any Pegasi. Because of this Scootaloo still felt a little lonely, as she didn’t have anyone she could totally confide in.

Nonetheless, though Scootaloo was still somewhat alone and having Rainbow Dash could only be a dream, it was still her dream. She would always love Rainbow and do anything for her, even if her feelings were never returned.

When Scootaloo returned to her tent, she gathered up her schoolbooks, packed them into her bag, and rode to school. She was early when she got there, so she greeted Cheerilee, unpacked her belongings, parked her scooter, and read Daring Do and the Philosopher’s Stone as she waited for the rest of her classmates. When she heard Apple Bloom enter and say, “Hey, Scootaloo!” she marked her spot, closed her book, and turned smilingly to her. “Hey,” Scootaloo replied.

Apple Bloom trotted over to the desk beside Scootaloo’s and said, “Ah thought of somethin’ we could do for Cutie Mark Crusadin’ today! Since we love Darin’ Do so much, Ah thought we could maybe try treasure huntin’!”

Scootaloo grinned. “Hey, maybe that really is my special talent! I’m really good at finding money on the streets; maybe I’ll also be good at finding treasure!”

Sweetie Belle then entered and said, “Hey, guys!”

“Hey, Sweetie!” the other Crusaders shouted back. Sweetie sat on the other side of Apple Bloom and said, “I have something to tell you guys.”

“What is it?” Apple Bloom asked.

“Uh, I think we should wait until our meeting,” Sweetie Belle replied. “It’s actually a secret, and I’m not allowed to tell anypony else.”

Apple Bloom and Scootaloo groaned, but Scootaloo said, “Alright.”

The Crusaders all fidgeted and restlessly checked the clock throughout the entire class. During recess their classmates noted how antsy they were, and the day seemed to drag more and more slowly the closer school came to being out.

At last, however, the end bell rang and the Crusaders galloped straight out of the schoolhouse toward their clubhouse. Once they were there, they exhaustedly panted for about a minute before Apple Bloom said, “So, Sweetie Belle… huff… huff… What did you want to tell us?”

Sweetie Belle panted for a moment more before she said, “Okay. Sit down, girls.”

Once they all had, Sweetie said, “First, you all have to Pinkie Promise that you won’t tell anypony.”

Apple Bloom and Scootaloo recited, “Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.”

Once this was completed, Sweetie said, “Alright. Here it goes: Twilight, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash are all fillyfoolers.”

Apple Bloom confusedly tilted her head and said, “Huh?” but she jumped when Scootaloo suddenly shouted with bulging eyes, “WHAT?!”

Sweetie Belle jumped, too, and both of them stared at Scootaloo. Scootaloo walked up to Sweetie Belle. “They are?!” she said. “They’re really fillyfoolers?!”

“Uh… yeah,” Sweetie Belle replied, still stunned.

“Um… what’s a fillyfooler?” Apple Bloom asked. Scootaloo immediately turned around and said, “It’s a girl who likes other girls!”

Apple Bloom was still confused. “Other girls? Wait… you mean, like, like like?”

“Yeah,” Scootaloo replied, sitting back down.

Apple Bloom was absolutely dumbfounded. “So… Twilight, Pinkie, Rainbow, and Fluttershy all like other Mares?” she said.

Sweetie nodded. “Yep.”

“How do you know?” Apple Bloom asked.

“Rarity told me,” Sweetie Belle replied. “She told me that they told her.”

“Why… why can’t we tell?” Apple Bloom said.

“Rarity said it might be dangerous for them. She said she wanted us to know because she thought it’d be good for us for some reason…” Sweetie Belle trailed off as she and Apple Bloom turned to Scootaloo, who was obliviously smiling in absolute glee.

“Uh… Scootaloo?” Apple Bloom said.

“Huh?” Scootaloo said, breaking out of her trance.

Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom continued to stare at Scootaloo for a moment before Sweetie Belle said, “Hey Scootaloo, are you a fillyfooler?”

Scootaloo flinched and blushed intensely. “I… I…”

Sweetie Belle smiled. “Hey, I don’t care if you are. I’ll still be your friend. If you are, your secret’s safe with me.”

Apple Bloom blinked rapidly. “Wait. You… you like girls too, Scootaloo?”

Scootaloo shrank to the floor, looking away. There was no escaping it now. “Don’t tell anypony,” she begged.

Sweetie shook her head. “I won’t.” She nudged Apple Bloom. “You won’t either, right, Apple Bloom?”

“Ah… Ah guess,” Apple Bloom muttered. Her face was still contorted with thought.

“How did you guess?” Scootaloo said to Sweetie Belle.

Sweetie grinned. “Rarity told me that it would be good for you two to know, and that she was sure I had gay friends. And you looked really happy about her friends being gay, too.”

Scootaloo blushed harder.

Sweetie Belle turned to Apple Bloom, who was still thinking hard. “Are you alright?” she asked.

“Yeah…” Apple Bloom muttered. “It’s just so… so…”

Sweetie Belle grinned. “I know it’s a little weird. But we’ll get used to it.”

Sweetie leapt back up excitedly. “In the meantime, what should we do?”

The other Crusaders perked up, the previous topic forgotten. “How about we go treasure huntin’?” Apple Bloom asked.

The others enthusiastically agreed.

When the day was ending and the Crusaders all went home (as usual without any new cutie marks), Scootaloo went back to her tent with tremendous excitement. When she arrived, she anxiously skimmed through her comics until night fell, when it was safe.

When it had grown sufficiently dark and quiet, Scootaloo silently went outside and walked a few feet behind her tent. After counting thirty-six bricks from the edge of one of the buildings, she found a cluster of loose bricks in the wall. She pulled the bricks away, revealing two hidden cardboard boxes. The smaller one contained her savings of fallen bits. The other one held her pornography stash.

After accidentally finding a discarded erotica novel in the garbage some time ago, Scootaloo began to develop a taste for smut and other things that sexually excited her. She first sought out more books like it, then when she found an erotic illustration in one she began searching for pictures, as well.

Through the same dedicated searching she used to get her money, she combed through garbage cans and dumpsters, slowly developing a collection of porn magazines and books. She also hid these the same way and the same place she hid her money.

However, most of what Scootaloo found did not satisfy her, as most of what she found depicted heterosexual couples. She had absolutely no interest in the Stallions (even when they were attractive, which for the average Stallion model was most definitely not the case), but she was able to find a handful of publications which were dedicated solely to Mare-on-Mare action. When she learned their titles, she discreetly took a free magazine catalogue, rented a PO box at the post office, and ordered subscriptions to several of them. She ordered for them to come in large, unmarked envelopes, so she could take them back to her tent without anybody suspecting what they were. Scootaloo occupied herself for many nights with these, usually imagining herself and Rainbow in place of the models she saw.

Now, however, she wasn’t selecting a magazine. She pulled her stash into her tent, then pulled the trashy magazines and novels out until she reached the bottom, where she found her most favored item: a poster of Rainbow Dash she’d ordered from a catalogue in a sports magazine.

Though this picture was Scootaloo’s favorite, it was easily the tamest; Rainbow was only giving the camera a flirtatious smirk in a mildly suggestive pose. Nonetheless, it was of Rainbow Dash, and that’s what made it special.

Scootaloo blushed as she gently ran her hoof over the image of Rainbow’s face. “Rainbow…” she whispered.

Scootaloo couldn’t believe it. Rainbow was a fillyfooler, too. She wondered if she was dreaming, but didn’t slap herself for fear of ending it.

Scootaloo felt as though she could finally fly. Where she had only an unreachable fantasy before, she now had a real chance.

She cringed. Rainbow liked girls, true, but that gave Scootaloo no reason to believe that Rainbow would like her. After all, she was Rainbow Dash, the most awesome Pegasus to ever grace the skies. She could probably have any girl she wanted. Why would the best flier in the world want Scootaloo, one of the world’s only flightless Pegasi?

Scootaloo suddenly realized one more thing: Rainbow was significantly older than her. That might be a problem; not only was there a chance that Rainbow wouldn’t be attracted to her because of it, but Scootaloo was also well aware of the strict laws, both legally and socially, against adult ponies having sexual relationships with fillies and colts. This problem had occurred to her before; when she looked up what would happen if she and Rainbow were to be girlfriends and somepony were to find out, she learned that Rainbow would get thrown in prison for a long time. She wanted to know why, so she researched more and found out that it was because ponies thought that it was damaging and dangerous to the children involved. They thought that the children in such relationships were being exploited.

Scootaloo pounded the ground beside the poster. “No,” she whispered. She wouldn’t be getting exploited or damaged; she would initiate it, and she knew that Rainbow would never hurt her.

Scootaloo sat up, a fierce determination in her eyes. She was going to try with every ounce of her ability to win Rainbow’s love. She would learn everything she could about Rainbow, then play her cards very carefully. If Rainbow simply didn’t like her, it would hurt, but that would be okay. But Scootaloo would absolutely not let those stupid laws come between them. If Rainbow did like her, and did want to be with her, Scootaloo wouldn’t let anything stop them. She’d convince Rainbow to become her girlfriend, then they’d carefully keep it a secret from the rest of the world. At least at first; when Scootaloo was in her late teens, they could openly date and pretend that they just started. Rainbow would teach her how to fly, and Scootaloo would be the most amazing, loyal, adoring lover Rainbow ever had in return.

Scootaloo longingly stared down at the poster. She would begin her quest to win Rainbow’s heart tomorrow.

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