Chapter Seven: Returns, Reconciliations

Apple Bloom opened the front door to her house and called out, “Ah’m home!”

Applejack trotted in from their parlor. “How was the party?” she asked.

“It was fun!” Apple Bloom replied.

“Ah’m glad. Well, it’s your bedtime, missy. Go get brushed and Ah’ll come tuck you in in a few minutes.”

Apple Bloom nodded. “Okay!”

She galloped up to the second-floor bathroom, got a drink, brushed her teeth, then went to her room.

As Apple Bloom settled into her comfortable four-poster bed, Applejack entered the room. She smiled softly as she approached Apple Bloom. “G’night, sis,” she said, kissing Apple Bloom’s forehead.

As Applejack pulled back, Apple Bloom said, “Hey, sis?”

“Yeah?” Applejack replied.

“Can Ah tell ya somethin’?”

Applejack smiled. “Of course.”

Apple Bloom squirmed uncomfortably. “Sis… ya know how Rainbow told ya’ll and her other friends that she was a fillyfooler?”

Applejack frowned. “Yeah?”

Apple Bloom shuffled her hooves and looked down at them. “Well, since she did Ah’ve been thinkin’…”

Applejack said nothing. Apple Bloom continued, “Ah think some colts are cute, but Ah also think Ah think some Mares and fillies are, too. Ah think that Scootaloo and Sweetie and Cheerilee and Fluttershy are really pretty. Ah… Ah think Ah like them. Ah think Ah like girls.”

Applejack was as silent and still as a stone. Apple Bloom said anxiously to her, “Sis? Are… Are ya alright?”

Applejack blinked. “Apple Bloom…”

She suddenly glared with great fury. “Did… did Twilight or Rainbow do somethin’ to ya?! If they did, Ah’m gonna-”

Apple Bloom’s eyes widened with panic. “N-no! No, they haven’t done anythin’ to me!”

Apple Bloom began trembling and tearing up. “Are ya angry at me, Applejack?”

Applejack looked down at Apple Bloom with great shock. She looked confused and terrified. “Ah…”

Apple Bloom began weeping. “What’s wrong, sis?”

“Ah… Ah don’t know,” Applejack said. As she watched her sister cry, she began to feel remorse amongst her many other conflicting emotions.

Applejack went to the door and turned off the lights. “Good night, sis,” she said, then she exited and closed the door behind her.

Apple Bloom rolled over and sobbed into her pillow. Applejack hated her now. She’d never felt so scared and alone.

* * *

Scootaloo was up at the crack of dawn. She cheered with excitement; today was her first date with Rainbow.

After she had spent a satisfactory amount of time celebrating this, she took a few deep breaths to calm herself down. She began chanting to herself, “Remember, you’re just going out as friends. Remember, you’re just going out as friends. It’s not a date. It’s not a date…” She did this to put herself in the correct mindset; if she was going to be completely casual, she couldn’t behave as though this were a date.

Still, it was difficult not to think of it. She had a date. With Rainbow Dash. Scootaloo was grinning enormously as she packed up her schoolbooks and put on her helmet. How desperately she wished it wasn’t a school day; every moment before she could be with Rainbow would no doubt be agonizingly long. Nonetheless, she was determined not to show her impatience; she could not let anyone know how much this meant to her.

She rode to school, where she found Sweetie Belle already sitting. Scootaloo took the desk next to her and said, “What’s up?”

“Not much,” Sweetie replied. “What’s up with you?”

Scootaloo smiled. “I’m gonna get ice cream with Rainbow Dash today!”

Sweetie Belle smiled back. “Really? That’s great!”

Scootaloo nodded. “Mm-hmm!”

Sweetie’s eyes narrowed mischievously. “So, you excited for your first date?”

Scootaloo flinched. “W-what?”

Sweetie moved her face closer to Scootaloo’s. “Your date. With Rainbow Dash. Are you excited for it?”

Scootaloo blushed. “It’s… it’s not a date! I’m just getting some ice cream with her, that’s all!”

“Mm-hmm. So why are you blushing?”

Scootaloo lifted her hoof over her nose. “B-because it’s embarrassing! Listen, Sweetie: I don’t want to go out with Rainbow!”

Sweetie’s smile widened. “Oh, really? Then why are you getting ice cream with her now? You were reeeealy happy when I told you and Apple Bloom that she was a fillyfooler.”

Scootaloo glared at Sweetie. “It’s because I thought none of my friends were like me! It was really hard growing up in Cloudsdale, and Rainbow knows what it’s like! She understands me!”

Sweetie Belle sighed. “She understands you. How romantic.”

“Shut up,” Scootaloo said, and Sweetie giggled.

A few minutes later, the other kids started filing in. Scootaloo and Sweetie waited a long time for Apple Bloom, but she didn’t show up. A minute before the bell rang, Sweetie said to Scootaloo, “Where do you think Apple Bloom is?”

Scootaloo shrugged. But at that moment, Apple Bloom entered, her ears drooping and her eyes bloodshot. She was the last to enter.

Ms. Cheerilee looked up at her. “Oh! Hello, Apple Bloom!”

“Hey, Ms. Cheerilee,” Apple Bloom replied drearily.

Ms. Cheerilee’s brows furrowed in concern. “Are you okay, Apple Bloom?”

“Yeah,” Apple Bloom said. No one was fooled.

As Apple Bloom took the seat next to Scootaloo’s, Scootaloo asked, “What’s wrong, Apple Bloom?”

“Ah’ll tell you later,” Apple Bloom replied gloomily.

Though Scootaloo was very concerned for her friend, she was grateful for the distraction from her date with Rainbow.

When school was over, the Crusaders immediately went to their clubhouse. When they arrived, Sweetie said, “What’s up, Apple Bloom?”

Apple Bloom dejectedly dug at the ground. “Ah like colts,” she said, “but Ah think Ah like fillies, too.”

Scootaloo smiled. “Really? That’s great!”

“Did you tell Applejack?” Sweetie asked.

Apple Bloom nodded. Sweetie said, “What did she do?”

Apple Bloom began tearing up. “She hasn’t really talked to me since Ah told her. When Ah did, she was… upset.” Tears fell, and Apple Bloom began trembling as she closed her eyes. “Ah… Ah think she might not wanna be my sister anymore.”

The other Crusaders stared at her, stunned. Sweetie Belle asked, “Did Applejack say she didn’t?”

Apple Bloom sniffed and shook her head. “No. But she hasn’t talked to me since last night. She only does that when she’s really upset.”

The Crusaders were silent. None knew what to say. Eventually Scootaloo walked up to Apple Bloom, put her foreleg around her shoulders, and said, “No matter what happens, we’ll be here for you, Apple Bloom.”

Apple Bloom smiled weakly, but she soon began crying again. “Ah… Ah don’t…”

She wiped her nose. “What am Ah gonna do? What if Applejack doesn’t want me anymore? Where will Ah go?”

Scootaloo smirked. “I’ve been able to live all by myself without any problems. Maybe you could come crash with me in my tent.”

Apple Bloom smiled gratefully. “Thanks, Scoot.”

Sweetie shook her head. “I don’t think Applejack is gonna disown you, Bloom. All sisters have their rough times.”

Apple Bloom sniffed. “Ah guess…”

Sweetie went to her and hugged her as well, so that they were sharing a group embrace. Apple Bloom smiled as tears continued falling from her eyes. “Thank ya’ll,” she said. “You’re all the best friends ever.”

* * *

Rainbow’s alarm went off, and she sleepily hit it to make it snooze. She groaned; she would have liked to have woken up on a cloud in the sunlight, but she had to nap near her clock so she could get up in time. Rainbow stretched and held the clock over her face. Three-thirty. What was it she had to get up for again?

She bolted upright. “Oh, right!” She dashed through her door and began flying to the Crusaders’ clubhouse. Rainbow couldn’t believe she almost forgot that she was getting ice cream with Scootaloo.

As Rainbow glided through the sky, a thought suddenly occurred to her. She was going to a prearranged outing with Scootaloo where they’d eat and hang out together. And Scootaloo was gay, too. Is… is this supposed to be a date? Rainbow Dash wondered.

Rainbow’s brow furrowed with concern. She might not have thought so before, but now she couldn’t be so sure. It definitely wasn’t a coincidence that Scootaloo asked Rainbow to get ice cream only after she’d come out. Rainbow was now also aware that at least a few girls were infatuated with her. Could Scootaloo be one of them?

Now that Rainbow considered it a bit, she concluded that Scootaloo almost definitely did have a crush on her. After all, Scootaloo worshiped her like she was a goddess or something. She was every bit as hungry for Rainbow’s attention as Pinkie was. “Yeah,” Rainbow said. “Scootaloo has it bad for me.”

With that conclusion in mind, only one question remained to Rainbow: was this supposed to be a date? Of course, Rainbow knew it was, but did Scootaloo herself know it was, too?

Rainbow worriedly thought about this. If Scootaloo really was intending for this to be a date, how could Rainbow let her down easy? After all, Scootaloo probably had no idea how inappropriate it would be for the two of them to be dating. She was just a filly; she would just think that being girlfriends would just mean eating ice cream together and kissing and nothing more than that. After all, that’s what being a couple meant for kids. How could Rainbow get Scootaloo to understand that adult relationships were more serious and that she wasn’t ready for one?

Rainbow grew more panicky by the second. Could she even explain to Scootaloo the ultimate reason they couldn’t be together? Rainbow knew that if Scootaloo was devastated and wanted to know why they couldn’t, it would be her parents’ job to tell her. But there was an obvious problem with that: Scootaloo didn’t have any parents. Whose job was it then to explain it to Scootaloo?

As panic began to overtake Rainbow, she remembered something Scootaloo said the day before: “It’ll be just like having a big sister!” With that, Rainbow sighed and chuckled relievedly. She realized her worries were unfounded; it wouldn’t come to that. Scootaloo didn’t even know she had a crush on her. After all, why would Scootaloo want to date her big sister?

Rainbow laughed softly to herself. She knew what it was like to be blissfully unaware of your own feelings. Still, Rainbow thought it was a pity that such a cute filly-

A thrill of horrific shock coursed through Rainbow’s body. She abruptly stopped and hovered in the air. Except for her wings, she was absolutely still. Waves of even more potent panic pulsed through her like spreading poison. “What… the buck… was THAT?!” she shouted in terrified revulsion.

Rainbow’s eyes were as wide as dinner plates as she brought her hooves to her head and shook it violently. “Nonononononononono…” she muttered. “No. No. No. Not Scootaloo. Not Scootaloo.” She wrapped her hooves around herself. She could absolutely not desire Scootaloo. She trembled. Was there something wrong with her? Was she a pervert?

Rainbow felt nauseous. What if she really was a pervert? What should she do then? Never allow herself to be around kids again? Would her friends wonder why? If she told them, would they all hate her? This wasn’t like being gay; this was absolutely wrong. Rainbow smirked bitterly. Wouldn’t it be just awesome if Applejack knew about this? she thought sarcastically to herself.

After taking a few deep breaths, Rainbow shook her head again. Did she find Scootaloo attractive? A little, maybe, but not as attractive as adult Mares such as her other friends. Maybe Rainbow wasn’t a pervert; after all, she used to lust after other fillies when she was a filly. She just had to make sure she didn’t allow herself to fall back into that. She was beginning to agree more and more with Twilight that her swinging then was a very bad idea, though…

Rainbow was still rather badly shaken, but her panic had subsided. She continued flying until she reached the Crusader clubhouse, where she found Scootaloo awaiting her. Scootaloo grinned as she saw Rainbow approach, and Rainbow made a painful smile back. As she landed before Scootaloo, Scootaloo frowned in concern. “Are you alright, Rainbow Dash?”

Rainbow gazed at Scootaloo for a moment. A little attraction, maybe, but no overwhelming lust. Rainbow decided that for the moment she could trust herself around Scootaloo. She nodded and said, “Yeah. Just… a lot on my mind, that’s all.”

Scootaloo nodded, then smiled. “Can we go then?”

Rainbow exhaled deeply, then grinned. “Sure, squirt.” She mussed up Scootaloo’s mane. “Come on.”

Though worry remained in the back of Rainbow’s mind, she was largely able to relax and enjoy her time with Scootaloo. She’d managed to calm herself a bit, and they were out in public, so Rainbow was able to stop panicking. Rainbow bought herself and Scootaloo some ice cream cones at Snowdrop’s stand at the park, then they went to a bench to sit and eat.

As they consumed their treats, their faces grew messy and sticky. Scootaloo looked at the chocolaty, sugary cream smeared over Rainbow’s lips and felt a powerful urge to offer to clean it off…

But she restrained herself, forcing herself to be patient. She couldn’t frighten Rainbow. She had to keep it casual.

So instead, she talked to Rainbow about Cloudsdale. Rainbow had many fond memories of it, most of them having to do with her dad; Rainbow Blaze had taught his daughter how to fly, how to fight, and to punch ponies’ lights out when they said smack about her. Scootaloo tactfully brought up Ms. Snowpeak’s story of how Rainbow and another filly had left for Ponyville together, and asked if the other filly was Fluttershy. To Scootaloo’s relief, Rainbow didn’t catch on to her jealousy; she just casually confirmed that it was indeed Fluttershy who moved with her to Ponyville after they’d been bullied by other kids for a while.

As the painful subject of ostracism and shunning was brought up, Scootaloo’s ears flattened melancholically. “Hey, Rainbow?” she said.

Rainbow turned to her. “Yeah?”

“Can you keep a secret?” Scootaloo asked.

Rainbow blinked. Could this be what she thought it was? She was a little worried again. Nonetheless, she recited, “Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.”

Scootaloo nodded. “Alright. Well, Apple Bloom told Sweetie and me that she likes fillies today.”

Rainbow blinked again. She definitely wasn’t expecting that. “She does?”

“Mm-hmm.”

“…Did she tell Applejack?”

“Yeah,” Scootaloo replied.

Rainbow smirked smugly to herself. My siblings would never do anything like that, my flank, she thought to herself. But after silently gloating over it for a moment, the harsh reality of it began to sink in. She said concernedly, “What did Applejack do?”

“Apple Bloom said she hasn’t really talked to her since last night.”

Rainbow nodded. Well, Applejack could’ve taken it worse. Scootaloo asked, “What should I do?”

Rainbow was completely unprepared to answer this question. What should Scootaloo do?

After a moment, Rainbow shook her head. “I don’t know what you should do. I guess being her friend and being there for her is all you can do. But…”

Rainbow looked to the side with fierce determination. “I’m gonna have another talk with Applejack,” she said.

Scootaloo smiled. “Thanks, Rainbow,” she said.

Rainbow smiled back and mussed up Scootaloo’s mane. “You don’t need to thank me. Somepony needs to do it.”

Scootaloo hugged Rainbow, and Rainbow hugged her back. All in all, Rainbow was glad she did this with her.

Rainbow walked Scootaloo back to her tent, but when they got there they found Sweetie Belle waiting for them. “Rainbow! Scootaloo!” she shouted.

Scootaloo smiled surprisedly. “Hey, Sweetie. What’s up?”

“Pinkie’s back!” Sweetie excitedly shouted back. The Pegasi both gaped in surprise. “Pinkie’s back?” Rainbow said astonishedly. “But she’s only been gone for a day!”

“Didn’t she say she’d be gone for a month?” Scootaloo asked.

Sweetie nodded. “Yeah, but she’s come back early! She invited us all to Sugar Cube Corner for a welcome-back party, and Rarity sent me to get you guys!”

Rainbow smiled. “Alright. Let’s go.”

When they arrived at Sugar Cube Corner, Pinkie immediately gave all three of them big hugs. “I missed you guys soooo much!” she cried.

“We just saw you yesterday,” Rainbow said.

Pinkie nodded. “And I didn’t see you at all since then! Now I can! Yay!”

Pinkie sang and bounced around the room. Rainbow turned to the Cakes. “So… is she done?”

Mr. Cake nodded, smiling in surprise and amazement. “Apparently, our cakes sold like crazy in Canterlot. Pinkie made twelve thousand bits over there. It makes me think maybe we should send her there more often; we’ll be able to retire early!”

Rainbow laughed, then went to talk to her friends.

They were having a great time, and it really was a great surprise that Pinkie came back so early. But twenty minutes after her and Scootaloo’s arrival, the door’s bell rang again. Everyone turned to see Apple Bloom gleefully gallop in. After she’d embraced her friends with a “Hey, guys!” Scootaloo asked, “What’s going on, Apple Bloom?”

Scootaloo’s question was answered by the entrance of another pony: Applejack, who entered with an embarrassed, remorseful smile.

Everyone fell silent. After a few moments, Applejack said, “Hey, ya’ll.”

Rainbow Dash frowned at her. “Applejack.”

Applejack swallowed uncomfortably. She didn’t say anything.

Rainbow said with dripping contempt, “What do you want?”

Applejack looked down at the floor. “Ah… Ah came to apologize,” she said.

Rainbow and her friends stared at Applejack in shock. “What?” Rainbow said.

Applejack looked away and rubbed her foreleg. “Ah came to apologize to ya’ll.”

She looked up at her former friends. “Ah’m sorry,” she said. “Ah’m sorry for everythin’ Ah said, and for for not wantin’ to be your friend anymore.”

Applejack looked as though she were fighting against tears. “You have every right to be angry at me, and Ah’ll understand if ya’ll don’t wanna be my friends anymore.”

Rainbow gaped astonishedly at Applejack. “You… you’re serious?”

Applejack nodded. “Apple Bloom there thinks she likes fillies,” she said.

Apple Bloom nodded with a “Mm-hmm!”

“And…” Applejack continued, “and Ah knew Apple Bloom didn’t just decide to like fillies. Ah guess Ah just can’t understand it.”

She shrugged. “Ah might not like it if my sister is with another filly, but Ah’m not gonna stop lovin’ her or bein’ her sister. And Ah realized that Ah shouldn’t’a stopped bein’ your friend.”

Applejack sniffed, and looked as though she were fighting with every ounce of her might to not cry. “Ah get it if ya’ll don’t forgive me.”

Rainbow grinned, rushed forward, and laughingly embraced Applejack. “You’re right!” Rainbow said. “You were an idiot! What you did was awful! But you get it now!”

Rainbow squeezed harder. “I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t forgive you!”

“What do ya mean?” Applejack asked confusedly.

Rainbow chuckled. “It’s a long story. I’ll tell you later.”

Twilight joined their embrace. “Of course you can be our friend, Applejack,” she said, not at all holding back her tears.

The others soon joined them, until they were all weeping and laughing in one huge group hug.

As they all pulled back and were wiping their eyes, Pinkie bounced and cried, “Yay! This is the best welcome-back party EVER! I’m back home, and Applejack is our friend again!”

Rainbow Dash grinned. “You’re right, Pinkie. You, Twi, Flutters, Scoots, Apple Bloom, and I are all out and we have all of our friends! This really is the best party ever!”

Applejack’s eyes widened in surprise. “Wh-what? Pinkie and Scootaloo and-”

“Uh-huh!” Pinkie cheerfully replied. “We’re all fillyfoolers!”

Applejack made a small, puzzled smile and shook her head. “Ah never would’ve guessed…”

“Six!” Spike shouted. Everyone except for the Cakes and Applejack burst into laughter, to which the silent ones wondered aloud, “What’s so funny?”

They all enjoyed each other’s company for a while. However, it suddenly halted when Mrs. Cake cried in pain.

“What’s wrong?” Twilight asked worriedly.

“I think the baby’s coming!” Mrs. Cake cried.

What followed was chaos. Pinkie and the Crusaders were buzzing with excitement, the Cakes were panicking, Rarity was attempting to soothe them, Twilight was hurriedly jotting down a letter for the hospital, and Spike, Fluttershy, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash were left to stare in shock at each other.

When things had calmed down a little, Twilight ran to get a wheelchair for Mrs. Cake while Rarity escorted the (protestingly disappointed) children to their homes, promising that they’d get to see the baby the next day. Once Mrs. Cake had been settled into her vehicle and they were all traveling to the hospital, Pinkie shouted, “This is the. best. party. EVER!! A welcome-home party, a friends-again party, and a birthday party ALL IN ONE BIG PARTY!!”

Pinkie fired her party cannon, to which a sweating Mrs. Cake said, “Pinkie, do you think you could quiet down a little?”

“Okay!” Pinkie replied.

“Seriously,” Rainbow said to Twilight, “We’re gonna have to tell the baby the story of its birthday someday.”

Twilight smiled and nodded in agreement.

Rainbow smiled contentedly. This was the best day she’d had in a long time.

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