“Speak to us, Lyra! What’s the matter, babe? What’s wrong?” pleaded Vinyl Scratch, her sunglasses still crooked from the haste of their flight. Lyra had begged them to hide her from Trixie and Twilight and Rarity, and the best Vinyl and Octavia could do was rush home and lock the door behind them. They’d plunked Lyra down on Vinyl’s bed again, and both of them were in the room fussing over her.
“I just can’t stand it!” sobbed Lyra. “I try and try to get what I need but it just keeps getting worse and worse and I’m hurting ponies and getting in trouble…”
“What’s getting worse?”
“Sex!” blurted Lyra, and DJ Pon-3’s jaw dropped.
“Shit, honey! You weren’t that bad! I recognize that little bag you’ve got. How about you whip that thing out, the thing that you had, and I’ll cheer you up with a little…”
Vinyl Scratch froze, and Octavia looked on warily. Lyra stammered, “Um… I mean…”
“No means no, sweetie,” Vinyl informed her. Octavia nodded, and Vinyl continued, “The part that’s confusing me is, why would you say that? Forgive me but I didn’t think I was all that bad the last time, much less ‘worse and worse’, and you certainly did not hurt me. So what’s going on?”
“It’s not you! It’s Rarity, I hurt Rarity and now she hates me but she lies about it and I can’t trust her and why would she lie about a thing like that?”
“Slow down,” urged Octavia. “Breathe. Scratchie, are you sure we should be in the middle of this?”
“She’s upset!” declared Scratch. “We had fun together. Have a heart! Just because you turned up your nose at her…”
This got her a glare from the elegant earth pony. “At whose instigation… Vinyl?”
Scratch’s ears went back. “Oh, yeah, right. That. Maybe I was hasty, okay?”
“We’ve talked about this, Scratchie. Maybe you should work on being more consistent. You’re giving this poor mare mental whiplash trying to keep up with your whims.”
“Ow,” said Vinyl Scratch. “Maybe you’re right, maybe it’s not quite fair…”
Lyra had been looking back and forth between the two. Finally, she asked in a soft, wavering voice, “Can somepony explain what is going on?” and both ponies blinked in unison.
“Oh, sorry, I never did fill you in on how it was!” said Vinyl.
“We’re really close,” continued Octavia.
“And we did a routine that morning where I pretended to be really crude…”
“Because she was trying to shoo you away gracefully. I shouldn’t have gone along with it, Scratchie, that wasn’t a kind thing to do. You can’t go on playing with ponies like that, it hurts their feelings.”
Vinyl sulked. “I’m good at it. It’s just fun! She was okay when she left. Maybe now you’re having second thoughts?” She caught Octavia’s glance. “Sorry, Tavi.”
Lyra’s lip quivered. “No, I’m sorry—for getting in between you two. I knew you were lovers the moment I looked at you together and I should have apologized and left right away. I should go now…”
Both Vinyl’s and Octavia’s jaws dropped, again in perfect synchrony, and they both said “Wait!” and then looked at each other in consternation.
“You see!” cried Lyra. “It’s like you’re the same pony! It’s beautiful and I’m so sorry and thanks for the hugs…”
She reared and made as if to run off, but before she got a step, Vinyl and Octavia were hugging her again, Octavia petting her mane while Vinyl said “Hey hey hey hey take it easy okay? Slow down, slow waaaay down little cutie.”
Lyra obeyed, sitting back, eyes wide and panicky.
“Breathe,” repeated Octavia. “The flow of your feelings follows your breath. If you were performing before an audience you’d likely know that—if you meant to be really good, that is. I’ve rarely seen a pony so flighty: calm yourself.”
Vinyl snickered cheerfully. “You’ve done more than that with flighty ponies—the same night I met Lyra here, in fact. Isn’t that true?”
“Don’t tease,” chided Octavia.
“Tease? I was more cheering. And being sick with envy!”
Octavia nodded solemnly. “It was a good evening, yes. That will hold me for a while.” She gave a wistful sigh.
“Please explain more?” said Lyra. “I can’t follow half of what you’re talking about. I guess you don’t want me to leave after all?” She shuddered. “I’m scared to, anyway. Thank you for letting me hide here.”
“Make you a deal!” said Vinyl Scratch. “I’ll explain about us if you’ll explain what the hell is the matter. It looks like you need a friend. Well—you helped me carry my decks. Hell, you let me go back for them instead of fucking right away.”
Octavia gasped. “No! Really?”
“She did,” nodded Vinyl. “Sweetest thing ever. And she was a trip in the sack too, for not being a guy I mean.”
“I’d gathered that,” said Octavia. She glanced at Lyra. “If you were kind to Scratchie’s decks, it’s much like if you were kind to my cello, and we shall be friends.” She blinked, her eyes wandering to Lyra’s flank. “May I ask the provenance of your cutie mark? Are you of our number, dear?”
Lyra blinked. “Oh! My lyre. It’s a sort of harp. Um… yes, I play. Or I used to, before things went wrong with Bon Bon… and then it’s been so busy trying to keep up with Rarity and Twilight and T… trixie…”
Octavia regarded her seriously. “My cello is in the other room. Scratchie’s decks are on their shelf, under their cloth. Lyra, do you know where your instrument is? It is possible that your distress comes from not your sexual relationships, but the relationship between you and your instrument. Are you still friends, this lyre and you?”
Vinyl’s expression was exasperated. “Tavi! Don’t assume she’s like you just because she plays an acoustic thing. You freak out even if somepony tries to grab your bow, much less play your cello.”
Octavia’s haughty glare silenced her. “Behave! Or I’ll go and turn the corner of the cloth up so the deck is cold.”
Vinyl’s eyes widened at the threat, and she humphed and sulked.
“I won’t, I promise,” whispered Octavia hastily, and continued. “Lyra dear, perhaps you have not fully respected your needs and the needs of your instrument. Is it possible you’ve become caught up in the joys of new lovers and betrayed your deeper self?”
Lyra’s look was woebegone. “But it feels like this is my deeper self. And… is it okay if I don’t really believe you? You ponies just vibe like lovers. I don’t understand why you can’t just admit it.”
“We’re not, okay?” snapped Vinyl. “I don’t understand why you can think that after you felt what I can do on a dick. Octavia is the same way—well, maybe not performance wise though I’ve tried to teach her, but she’s just as hot for a good stallion. In fact she’s less into getting head than I am. We do love each other very much. Heck, Lyra, we love each other more than the stallions—but for fucking? Bring on the stallions, okay? Is it that hard to understand that a mare can have a best friend for life, outside of fucking?”
Octavia leaned and kissed her on the cheek, saying “Aw, Scratchie.”
Vinyl kissed Octavia back, and continued, “Now maybe you don’t rate quite that high because nopony does, including those yummy stallions, but you still need a friend and the thing about us is we’re solid like rocks because we have each other. We get enough sex…”
“Speak for yourself,” complained Octavia, demurely.
“Uh, I get enough sex,” corrected Vinyl, “but we depend on each other for advice and stuff like that. Lyra, what the hell is going on? You seemed fine when you were with me, but since then you took up with some of the celeb ponies in town and it went badly for you? Do you need help getting back with them? We can coach you. Between me and Tavi we’re a pretty awesome team of wing-mares, hear what I’m saying?”
Lyra shook her head. “Not them… I wouldn’t dare. Not them at all. Maybe I do need help, though, to win her. The one I need…” She teared up.
“She’s got it bad,” said Octavia.
“Yeah,” said Vinyl. “Look at her lip quiver. Okay, Lyra, cough it up. Who’s the lucky pony? Look in your eye says you’re over the moon for somepony…”
Lyra laughed, awkwardly, but there was a sob in there somewhere. “Exactly…”
“What?” blinked Vinyl. Octavia’s eyes widened.
“That’s it exactly,” said Lyra. “It’s the Moon I love. Princess Luna. I must go find Princess Luna…”
Scratch laughed raucously, but she trailed off, for Lyra wasn’t laughing, and Octavia seemed awed.
“Have you lost your tiny mind?” said Vinyl. “You’re a unicorn. She’s an alicorn! You know, immortal, Princess, moves the moon around, that kind of thing?”
Lyra pouted. “I know it must seem strange…”
“It seems crazy, you mean!”
“Let her speak!” insisted Octavia. Her eyes were shining, her lips parted.
Vinyl regarded her dearest friend skeptically. “I think sometimes you’re a little too romantic, Tavi. All right. Lyra, what gives you the idea you should go find Princess Luna and poke things in her princess-pussy?”
Octavia clouted her with a hoof, and Vinyl squeaked and shut up as Lyra began to haltingly explain.
“It’s… I… I think the Princess might have been taking an interest in mortal ponies, because there’s something between her and Trixie…”
“Actually you’re right there,” said Vinyl. “I work in the Palace fairly often and I know the staff. They’re buzzing like crazy over Princess Luna being confined to her room. Towns-ponies aren’t supposed to know that part. The idea seems to be, she’d done something kinky with some towns-pony and Princess Celestia came down on her like a falling dragon. If you say Trixie, I couldn’t argue, though I don’t know what Princess Luna would see in her.”
“There’s more,” said Lyra. “At the Nightmare Night ceremonies our eyes met across the field, and it was like a bolt of lightning struck me. I felt her loneliness, her terrible loneliness…”
Octavia squealed, and Vinyl glanced wearily at her again. “Tavi! You total sap. I bet you’re oozing on my bed, settle down.”
Octavia stuck her tongue out at Vinyl. “Your bed’s used to it. Tell me more, Lyra!”
Lyra gulped. “There’s not that much more. It’s just… there’s something I’ve always wanted. It’s kind of personal. It’s a unicorn thing.”
“Yo!” said Scratch. “Unicorn here. Lay it on me.”
“I probably could,” said Lyra. “I, uh, never did though… you know horncome?”
“Sure!” said Scratch. “Not my usual thing. Thank goodness, ‘cos earth pony’s friend tastes awful, hear what I’m saying? So you think Princesses horncome real good?”
“No,” said Lyra, shaking her head. “I mean, when I come that way, it’s overwhelming. I took out a wall once. Pretty much any unicorn, even one like Twilight Sparkle, I can overpower them and, you know, fertilize them. If I get excited I can’t help it, I just blast.”
Vinyl’s eyes were wide. “Maybe I should count myself lucky that you didn’t get that excited. Or should I be pissed off? I thought I was doing you really well…”
“I’d only met you that night,” said Lyra, apologetically. “I was a little intimidated.”
Octavia’s eyes were wide and gleaming. “I believe I see where this is going. Lyra, do you hope that if you become the lover of Princess Luna, she will be powerful enough that you can be truly her mare, and you’ll do that unicorn thing they do, but you’ll be taking it rather than giving it? I understand that part. Ah… the taking it, I mean.” She licked her lips.
“It’s not about hope,” said Lyra.
“Trixie said Princess Luna’s horn-come cuts through rock. We’re not sure whether it would simply burn up a mortal pony to take that. Twilight thinks taking it through the horn would catalyse it and you’d survive. I… I’ve got to try. I must feel Luna’s magic flooding me…”
Octavia groaned, eyes like saucers, dumbstruck. Vinyl poked her with a hoof. “Hey, Tavi! Breathe! Hah. Damn, Lyra. That’s hardcore! Uh, you first, okay, babe? That’s crazy. Are you serious? And your eyes met across the field or some shit like that? You think she might just feel the same way?”
“Sometimes I wake up with my heart pounding and feel like she was just nearby, like I could feel her presence, smell her perfume, just about taste her… yet she isn’t there…”
Vinyl Scratch heaved a big sigh. “Stop, just stop. You’re gonna kill Tavi. She hasn’t heard anything this romantic since forever. What do you think you’re gonna do about it?”
“I don’t know,” admitted Lyra. “I’ve got to go find her. That’s why I have to hang onto this magic bit—I need to have every trick in the book, I’ve got to try everything to win her.”
“Including your lyre?” said Octavia. “Won’t you need your instrument?”
Lyra winced. “It’s where I was staying. I don’t dare set hoof outside now…”
“Where?” demanded Octavia.
“The boarding house. Second floor, the third room…” said Lyra, and blinked—the elegant earth pony was already trotting determinedly for the door. In a moment, she was gone.
“Don’t even argue with her,” suggested Vinyl. “Not in a mood like that. Hey, you know she’ll carry it carefully. You should have told her the lyre’s name. She talks to her cello, you know.”
“It doesn’t have a name,” said Lyra, and yawned.
“For Celestia’s sake don’t tell her that, she’ll be horrified and then she’ll give it one,” said Vinyl. “Gear likes sweet talk and stuff like that but names, that’s getting carried away. Speaking of carried away, do you need to crash? You look sleepy. And you’re safe here.”
Lyra nodded. “Lot of excitement… wearing me out, so scared…”
“You’re safe here,” repeated Vinyl. “Little nap, maybe? While we wait for Tavi to get back?”
Lyra nodded once, twice, and then sagged to the soft futon, redolent of the scent of DJ Pon-3 and her pleasures, and the spring-green unicorn gave in to dreams.
Octavia pulled the little cart through the Ponyville streets, patiently, until she’d got back to her apartment. She rapped on the door with a hoof. “Scratchie! Could you help me with this, please?”
The door opened and Vinyl popped her head out. “Shush! Baby is sleeping!”
“If you could just unload me, and I’ll bring this back. Davenport was so happy that it found a use, Scratchie. I would almost buy it out of sheer gratitude, except, well…”
Vinyl stared at the cart. It had Lyra’s things neatly loaded onto it, but besides that, it proved a distinctive object all on its own, with its eye-searing green color and… that wheel. “Tavi, where did you get that?”
Octavia rolled her eyes. “At Quills, Sofas and Little Green Carts With One Wheel That Is Orange And Also Slightly Larger Than The Other Three.”
“Oh, you are shittin’ me,” marvelled Vinyl. “Honestly?”
Octavia shrugged elegantly. “He kept saying, specific! It’s all about being very… specific!”
“That pony needs his head examined.”
“He was having a lot of trouble with the sign, I know that.”
Vinyl considered this for a moment, as her horn glowed and lifted items off the cart. “His sign’s in pictures, Tavi! How could he be having trouble with it?”
“He was trying to reach it by standing on a pile of the carts,” said Octavia. “Not the steadiest of platforms. Careful with the harp! Careful!”
“I’ve got it!” said Vinyl. “Well, why doesn’t he try standing on a pile of sofas?”
Octavia brightened. “I’ll suggest it! I’d better hurry. Carts were flying everywhere. Is that everything?”
“Yeah, you’re empty!”
“I shall return immediately!” said Octavia, and galloped off, harness jingling and the empty cart rattling in her wake.
Before long, she returned, cartless, with feathers dotted all over her body and sticking in her mane.
“What happened to you?” snickered Vinyl.
“Don’t ask. Davenport appreciates your suggestion very much, but thinks he might just stick to the basics and retain the original sign, which goes with them…”
Vinyl laughed. “Figures! Here, let me get that for you…” Her horn glowed again, as she lifted feathers off Octavia’s body and brushed at them with a hoof.
“Thank you, Scratchie. How is our guest?”
Vinyl raised a hoof to her lips, and slipped back inside, Octavia right on her tail.
They peered into Scratch’s room, and Octavia whispered, “Ooooh. Isn’t she lovely?”
Lyra slept as if she was flying, or leaping in a great bound—her back arched, her legs outstretched, mane and tail strewn across the futon haphazardly.
“Watch!” whispered Scratch, and as Octavia watched, the dainty hooves twitched, the head wriggled against the bedspread as if Lyra was looking around frantically, and the hooves twitched again in the tempo of a brisk gallop; pert rump tensing with each dreamed hoofbeat, ears lifting and rotating in full perk.
“Oh, my,” breathed Octavia. “Darling, just darling. What do you suppose she is dreaming about?”
Vinyl inclined her head, and Octavia’s gaze followed her lead and then veered away, as Vinyl snickered and Octavia blushed. Lyra’s pussy had winked hard, twice, at them—or at whoever haunted her dreams.
“Guess,” said Vinyl Scratch.
The sound of the S cut through the room, for Vinyl’s wry little voice had lifted in amusement—and Lyra’s ears swiveled to catch it. The next thing the two ponyfriends knew, Lyra had twisted her head to stare in alarm at them, wide awake.
“Oops,” said Scratch. “Sorry…”
“She’s gone!” whimpered Lyra.
“She’s not there anymore! She’s gone, I can’t find her, I can’t feel her in my dreams!” cried Lyra, and then burst into tears.
“Aw, honey!” said Vinyl, rushing up to hug her. “Are you sure?”
“I don’t know what went wrong,” sniffled Lyra. “What did I do? It was never hard to feel her before, but now…”
“Look, look!” called Octavia. “We’ve brought your little harp.”
“Lyre,” corrected Vinyl.
“No, we really did,” said Octavia. She rushed from the room and returned, holding the lyre carefully in her teeth, gazing earnestly at Lyra as if believing that the power of music would heal her and bring everything she desired. She laid the instrument down reverently before Lyra, and stepped back, eyes wide, drawing a breath in anticipation.
Lyra regarded the instrument tragically.
“Go on,” urged Octavia. “Go on!”
Lyra’s horn glowed and lifted the lyre, and Octavia trotted in place with excitement, her eyes huge and wide, clearly expecting to observe deep magic.
A note sounded, with a weedy little twang. Then another, that didn’t really connect with the first. Then, a bit of a scale, irregular and desultory.
Then, the lyre sailed through the air, and Octavia gasped and flung herself in front of it, sparing it a hard impact with the floor by interposing her cushiony flank. The lyre bounced off her and landed safely on the futon again.
Lyra had burst into tears, and Vinyl Scratch was comforting her. Octavia gave them an exasperated look, and turned to the instrument. “There, there…”
It seemed unharmed, so she looked up, musing to herself, “The poor things. It didn’t sound quite concert quality, nor did she. Perhaps they cannot comfort each other right now? Still, there was no call for that flinging.” Octavia glanced out of the room, towards where her cello rested.
“Hmm,” she mused. “I’ll warrant Lyra’s music does turn out to be an important tool for wooing, but perhaps we have the little green cart, before the horse…”
Octavia fell silent, and her mind fell to planning, for there would surely have to be a plan.
Scootaloo scowled as she zipped along. The more she thought about it, the more unfair it seemed. It was bad enough having one lame father—but to have two of them, each lamer than the other? Or perhaps it was Flight Lightning who was the lame one, and Dad would be nice if it wasn’t for Mom being such a pain. Scootaloo accelerated.
She burst into their house, and yelled, “Hey! What’s the matter with you, Mom?”
Flight Lightning was lying on the couch, and jerked up in startlement at the sudden exploding filly scenario, and then winced. “Ow! Dammit, kid!”
“Oh, I’m sorry, your wings are sore again?”
“Eighteen double shifts in a row will do that to y…”
“Well, maybe that’s not my problem,” retorted Scootaloo, “since you won’t let me help with them or anything! So why should I care?”
Flight’s eyes widened, then narrowed. “Mind explaining why you’re in such a mood, Scoot?”
“Yeah! Why won’t you let me see my Dad?” spat Scootaloo.
Flight Lightning took a breath. “You saw him a week ago, before school. You know he gets snotty about coming down to ground level…”
“No!” interrupted Scootaloo. “I mean my other Dad! The one you won’t let me see!”
Flight’s eyes widened. “B… what’s got you thinking about him, kid? That’s a whole other world. You’ve never been interested in him before!”
“Well, maybe it’s because you won’t talk about him or even hint that he exists,” argued Scootaloo, “so what did you think was gonna happen? You’ve been hiding him and it’s completely not fair! Who is he? Where is he?”
Flight got up off the couch. “Did you ever think that maybe there’s a reason for that, kid? Did it occur to you that maybe I was trying to be responsible? You really think this is all about me, kid? Really?”
“Right,” scoffed Scootaloo, “stopping me from ever knowing my other Dad, that’s real responsible…”
Flight Lightning stamped a forehoof. “Try this: protecting your access to your real Dad! Knowing how things stood, and making sure we didn’t lose both of them…”
“Choosing between them?” demanded Scootaloo.
“If you want to call it that, yes!”
Scootaloo gulped. She could still see the guy’s face, that twinkle in his eye, mischeviously peering up from under the fringe of russet mane. “Well, maybe you chose wrong!”
“Kid, I was married. I won’t say happily. What did you think I was gonna do?”
Flight Lightning sounded awfully tense, and Scootaloo hesitated. She looked at the floor, torn between a grief she couldn’t name—and an anger that was very familiar and kept boiling up underneath.
“You could have done the thing that would make me happy. I guess that part didn’t matter that much to you, huh?”
Flight paled. “Now, you listen, kid…”
“You could have gone with the pony that looks happy. The one who maybe would look happy to see me…”
Scootaloo had started to cry, but it didn’t show in her voice, and it wasn’t the kind of self-pitying cry that drove Flight up the wall. Instead, she stared right past Flight and kept talking, and the tears quietly gathered and dropped, without acknowledgement.
Flight Lightning gulped, trembling. “Your Dad is happy to see you, Scoot…”
“You could have gone with a pony who would look at me without making a face,” continued Scootaloo. “Who doesn’t just look away and make an excuse and leave as soon as he can.”
“And I’ve spoken with him about that and I’ll speak with him again because he obviously isn’t being as cool about it as I thought he was being…”
Scootaloo’s teeth were gritted. More tears silently dropped. “You could have gone with a pony who is just as much a part of me, I guess. And that’s the problem. Isn’t it?”
“You don’t really love me, any more than Dad does. You don’t even want to look at me. Because I’m too much like him. That other pony.”
Flight Lightning looked sick. Her legs were shaking, and she’d gone pale, and she stared at those lowered eyes, watching the tears, and the kid kept staring right past her, and that voice, cool as ice, clear as the glint on a scalpel that tenderly cut your throat and drained the life out of you…
“You didn’t even pick Dad because he cares about you, or because he’d be nice to you. And he isn’t, ever. And that doesn’t matter to you, does it?” said Scootaloo. “It doesn’t matter that he’s a big jerk, it doesn’t matter that he hates the sight of me.”
Flight gulped. “Don’t…”
Scootaloo’s eyes slowly lifted, and the tears did not mask or diminish the rage.
“It’s because he can FLY!”
Flight Lightning choked on a wave of bile that surged up in her throat. She rasped, “Stop it!”
Scootaloo was shaking, as well. “That’s all you care about—and you ruined my life just so you could feel good about your big stupid wings, and pretend you’re still a real pegasus!”
Flight Lightning’s wings were twitching like she was fighting the desire to flee into the air, and she gulped back more sourness, fighting for self-control. “Time out. Time out, kid!”
“You don’t deserve to give me a time out! It’s not like you really love me anyway!”
“Just back off!” yelled Flight. “I can’t take this…” She began to back away, towards the open door of her bedroom.
“If you don’t like hearing it maybe you should have been a good Mom in the first place!”
Flight’s eyes were wild. “Lay off! Let me…”
Scootaloo screamed, and flung herself at her mother, biting and kicking with forehooves—and her target was those huge, powerful wings that mocked her, those wings her mother loved more than her own foal, the symbol of everything that was wrong with her life.
Flight Lightning twisted and gave a violent flap, smashing a shelf of teacups off the wall—and flinging the enraged filly right across the room, where she slammed into the far wall and fell behind the couch. Her mother’s mighty wings, strengthened by so many double shifts on Weather Patrol, threw Scootaloo so hard the wall was dented.
Neither pony hesitated for a moment.
Flight Lightning scrambled, whirling around, bolting into her room and bucking the door shut with a bang—and, just an instant afterward, Scootaloo slammed into that door, screaming in wordless rage, pounding it with her forehooves. Her eye was blacked, and she paid no attention to it at all—hadn’t lost a second as she leapt over the couch and charged, too late.
Flight’s heart pounded as she listened to the crazed banging against the door. Then, there was a pause, a horrible scream, and she heard the front door bang open as the kid ran off.
She did not give chase, not right away. She leapt onto her bed and pounded it with her forehooves, burying her face in the pillow, at first giving a scream just as horrible, and then giving way to a mantra that she repeated over and over through gritted teeth.
“Calm down, calm down, calm down, calm down…”
Eventually, she got up. She left her bedroom, looking around. She stepped outside. “Kid?”
“There ya go,” soothed Applejack. “Ya comfortable?”
Rainbow Dash glowered at nothing, lying on her side with an awkward arrangement of cushions and pillows propping her up.
“Aw, sugarcube, I’m tryin’…”
“I know,” sighed Rainbow Dash. “I’m sorry. That’s probably the best you can do right now…”
“Ain’t there no adjustin’ I could make? Let me try an’ make it right for you, my love.”
“No, really! There is just no position I can be in, ever, anymore. Everything hurts. My tits hurt. My TITS hurt! That shouldn’t even be possible!”
“Kinda leak, too,” added Applejack. “Which is okay! Not a problem! I’ll jes’ wipe it up, Celestia knows we’ve had all sorts ‘a fluids on these sheets. Forget I mentioned it…”
Dash craned to look. “Huh! You’re right.” She smirked at her marefriend. “Looks like I get to be one of the Apple family cows, huh?”
“Ah reckon,” smirked Applejack cheerfully. “Prettiest one ever.”
Dash’s smirk deepened, and she licked her lips. “Maybe you should… test me.”
Applejack’s eyes widened. “Whut?”
“You know. For quality control, safety, that kind of thing. C’mon, nopony’s watching.”
Applejack glanced around frantically, but they were alone in her bedroom, though the door was open. “I guess not… y’all the kinkiest thing, Dashie, never saw th’ like.”
“How can it not be awesome?” suggested Dash. “Rainbow Dash milk. You’ll rainboom just tasting it. Come on, lick it up, don’t be shy!”
Applejack eyed the door again. “Keep it down, will ya? Granny might hear you!”
“Granny’s probably done it. She’s been pregnant, right? She probably let her stallion drink up some of that sweet Granny goodness.”
“Now that’s a disturbin’ thought,” grumbled Applejack. “Lemme get th’ door, okay?”
Dash wriggled, and prodded her crotch with a hoof, and more dribbles of milk leaked out of her nipples. “Uh-oh! You’d better be quick, no time for the door! Bring that sweet tongue of yours over here. Lick my nipples. They make their own sauce, now!”
Applejack laughed. “That’s enough sauce outta you! Troublemaker!”
“No, not enough! I bet this is why they’re sore. huh? Come help me out. You’ve done it before!” Dash began whispering her words sensuously. “Just like when you make my nipples stand up—you know how. Twiddle it with your tongue, then wrap those lips around, those warm loving lips… and SUCK on me. Mmmmmm… drain me dry!”
Applejack’s mouth hung open, and she stared in fascination at her lover’s tits. Still, she objected, “Dry? That ain’t right. You need that milk for th’ foal.”
“I’ll make more,” promised Rainbow. “Okay, so halfway? I’m sore. They’re too full! Please, I’m begging you. I’ll clop you while you do it. You love sucking on my nipples! Let me FEED you, baby.”
Applejack scratched her head. “One condition. I ain’t no baby, th’ real baby is right there! Uhhh… dairy inspector?”
Rainbow grinned. “Dairy inspector. C’mere.”
“In a minute, I wanna get th’ door…”
“As if there’s anypony in this house you can’t hear coming a mile away! Quit stalling.”
“True enough…” admitted Applejack. She inched closer. Dash wriggled again, and more milk dripped out of her swollen breasts, and she put on a sensuous, eyes-half-lidded look. Applejack began to smile, and her own eyes grew equally sultry. She stretched out a teasing pink tongue, tenderly encircling Dash’s left nipple, smiling harder as her love gasped and shivered…
“Applejack?” came a forlorn voice.
Two sets of mare eyes flew wide, and Dash tensed so hard that twin jets of milk squirted out of her nipples, one catching Applejack in the face, the other arcing into the air and landing on the floor.
“Apple Bloom!” gasped Applejack.
She whirled, blushing scarlet and trying to cover up Dash’s dripping breasts—but as soon as she saw Apple Bloom’s face, all other thoughts left her head. The filly was peering around the edge of the doorway, with an expression of such extreme guilt that Applejack’s brain froze up for a moment, unable to comprehend what could have caused it.
“Er… Apple Bloom, is something wrong?” came Dash’s scratchy little voice, from behind her.
Apple Bloom’s lip quivered, and she looked even more stricken.
“Apple Bloom!” cried Applejack. “You tell us what happened!”
“Scootaloo had sex with Sweetie Belle and made her pregnant!” wailed Apple Bloom. “And now she’s stealin’ things an’ bein’ bad and she don’t want me to tell or nothin’ but I jes’ can’t stand it! I’m sorry!” She burst into tears.
Applejack and Rainbow Dash shared one horrified look, and then they were both up, rushing to console the hysterical filly. Applejack was right there with an immediate hug, and Rainbow Dash lumbered over as best she could to join.
“There, there, sport,” soothed Applejack. “Now, you say that again! What the hay are you talkin’ about? Scootaloo did WHUT?”
Apple Bloom sniffled. “She had sex with Sweetie Belle. To make her pregnant. So we could have a foal too…”
“But a bunch ‘a fillies shouldn’t be able to…” Applejack gasped. “Stealin’. Apple Bloom, did y’all steal our lil’ toy? If you know what I’m talkin’ about, you best come clean right this minute…”
“No!” sobbed Apple Bloom. “I wouldn’t let them! I made Scootaloo put it back, but she got another one that Fluttershy wasn’t using…”
Dash’s eyes widened. “Hoo boy…”
“And I didn’t like that but they put it back but then Scootaloo stole another thing for showing who your parents are, but it wouldn’t work on Sweetie’s foal because it hasn’t been born yet…”
“Look,” said Dash, “that doesn’t count, okay? There is no foal if it’s just that. There’s a lot of stuff that goes into making magical ponies pregnant, it’s more complicated.”
Apple Bloom wiped her nose and went on. “But Sweetie Belle squirted magic from her horn and she said for me to bite Scootaloo’s wing like she saw Applejack do, and I did, and Scootaloo freaked out and was all bucking and shaking and stuff, and that’s when Sweetie’s horn squirted out magic and it set fire to Scootaloo’s poster of Rainb… of you…”
Dash had gone pale. “Hoo boy!”
Applejack was thinking hard. “Apple Bloom, did you have any colts in there? You tell me this instant, missy! Was it jes’ you three and that bit thing of Fluttershy’s? Was it?”
“Yeah! It was just us three and the bit thing!” wailed Apple Bloom. “And I made Scootaloo put it back!”
Applejack took a deep breath—then hesitated. “Did y’all hook up with any colts AFTER that?”
“No! We didn’t do anything bad after that! Not until Scootaloo started stealin’!”
Applejack let out the breath, and sagged in relief. “Apple Bloom. Listen to me, child. Ain’t nopony pregnant.”
Dash snorted, and Applejack amended herself. “Ain’t nopony pregnant that ain’t meant to be pregnant. You hear me? Your little friend, she ain’t pregnant. Them toys don’t work that way—not without good ol’ fashioned help from a frisky colt!”
“And you’re not going to let that happen, are you?” demanded Rainbow Dash. She looked angry—she’d looked angry ever since she’d heard the words ‘bite Scootaloo’s wing’, and it wasn’t showing any signs of lifting.
“No, ma’am!” pleaded Apple Bloom.
Applejack and Rainbow Dash looked at each other, helplessly.
“The hell we s’posed to do, Dashie?”
Rainbow Dash glared at Apple Bloom, who cowered away from her. Dash heaved a great sigh. “C’mere. Come HERE! Right.” She hugged Apple Bloom, and shook her. “I don’t care what Sweetie Belle says. You never, NEVER do that to a pegasus filly! Do you understand? Do you?”
“Yes ma’am!” whimpered Apple Bloom.
“Ah think she gets th’ idea,” cautioned Applejack. “You leave that to us, okay? Apple Bloom, you go an’ talk to your Granny. Tell her you already got your whuppin’, but you got to be honest. You will feel better when there ain’t nothin’ hangin’. All right? Now git!”
Apple Bloom rushed from the room, woebegone but with a righteous purpose. Applejack and Rainbow Dash looked at each other again.
“Ah reckon I’d best go tell Rarity about this, an’ she can tell Sweetie’s parents—that would be best, I’m thinkin’. Uh… you know Scootaloo’s folks? I ain’t sure I ever met ‘em, now that I think of it.”
Rainbow Dash shook her head. “Me either. I bet she’s some kind of orphan—you know how us ponies rally around and take care of our strays and orphans and that stuff. I didn’t expect to start being a Mom this soon. I think I better go and find a certain pegasus filly and teach her a few things.” Her face was grim.
Applejack glanced at her, quickly. “You be careful, now. Don’t you be too rough on yourself—OR on that poor dumb kid.”
“Poor, my ass,” said Rainbow Dash. “You heard Apple Bloom. She’s the ringleader, and that is not what I expect from my biggest fan. I’m going to have a word with her about my expectations. She’d better listen. I don’t give a shit if she’s an orphan and a sad little pony. She needs to have more self-respect. I will not tolerate… certain stuff.” She fluffed her wings, uncomfortably, and then tucked them to her sides again.
Applejack sighed. “All righty then. Meet you back here in a lil’ while.”
They walked out together, descending the stairs to the sound of Granny Smith, in her room, exclaiming “Land sakes, child, ain’t that a mess o’ fussing over what you say you din’t actually do? An’ wipe yer nose!”
Outside, Applejack took off for town and the Carousel Boutique, while Dash looked around quizzically, and then began to jog heavily towards the Crusader clubhouse.
Scootaloo held the chalk in her teeth, and scrawled hastily on the chalkboard.
“RUNING AWAY TO OTHER DAD. WILL TRY FILYDELPA. HOPE ITS NOT CANTERLOT, BYE”
She considered this, blinked, and added, “PS WILL COME BACK, OR WE CAN ALL GO LIVE WITH HIM”. This satisfied her, and she turned to her scooter. She’d loaded the entire Cutie Mark Crusader emergency backup cookie inventory onto it, because it was important Crusader business. She’d made a map of Fillydelphia, and drew a big X and labeled it ‘Dad’, and she was going to go there. If the earth pony wasn’t there, she’d draw another X and keep going.
The tiny wheels were a blur as Scootaloo rattled down the clubhouse ramp—and nearly ran into Rainbow Dash, who blocked her path and shouted “Hey!”
“Rainbow Dash!” squeaked Scootaloo. “This isn’t a good time! You can send me mail, I might be in Fillydelphia unless it turns out I need to keep going past…”
“Oh no!” yelled Dash. “Oh no no no! Now what? You’re going on the lam? Sorry to interfere with your getaway! What is this, Scootaloo?”
Scootaloo’s eyes were very wide. “But…”
“I thought we had an understanding! Weren’t you listening? In case you’re wondering, it’s kind of important for me to be able to teach little ponies what to do! I’m having one, maybe really soon, okay? The stuff you’re doing does not fill me with confidence!”
Scootaloo was gritting her teeth, and also tearing up, her expression warring between distress and anger. “But…”
“For your information, you did not make Sweetie Belle pregnant! Oh yeah. Apple Bloom finked on you. I might add, she probably saved you all from much worse trouble, from what she told us, so you are not allowed to take it out on her! I’m not sure whether maybe I like her better, now! She’s not stealing stuff from ponies!”
Scootaloo’s legs were shaking, and she was blinking away tears. “But, but!”
“But you letting her play with your wings, that shocks me, kid. Didn’t you understand anything I said?”
Scootaloo was beyond words, just shaking and staring nose-to-nose with the raging Dash.
Dash sighed heavily, and glared at the hapless filly. “WHAT, exactly, did you think you were doing?”
Scootaloo was frozen for a moment, but something was boiling in her eyes. Dash didn’t flinch, but another pony might have, as the tiny pegasus’s glare built and built like a fire catching and building into a blaze—and finally, Scootaloo drew a deep breath, and she screamed her answer right in Dash’s face, shaking with fury.
“I WAS TRYING TO BE LIKE YOU!”
Dash’s jaw dropped.
Scootaloo continued, stalking forward, getting in Dash’s face and forcing her to back up step by step. “I was being awesome! And taking care of my friends, no matter what it took! And I was being daring, and I put back everything I borrowed. Everything! And I didn’t ask Apple Bloom to do that. But I guess she just couldn’t help herself, huh? Because I was so amazingly awesome that she just couldn’t say no. Awesome—like YOU.”
Rainbow Dash’s face was a cerulean ball of confusion. Anger, distress, guilt, alarm…
Scootaloo kept stalking forward, and the vastly pregnant mare kept backing up.
“And I did all of it on purpose, too,” hissed Scootaloo, “and I liked it! I didn’t let down my friends no matter what they needed. And I learned what it means to be all sexed up and horny. And I turned into a stallion, and I was awesome! Of all the ponies in this lame town, you’re the one who’s gonna understand me and respect all the stuff I did.”
Rainbow Dash had never seen Scootaloo in this mood. The tiny pegasus’s wings were bolt erect, and Dash whiffed the scent of maturity and shook her head, aghast at what she was facing. She backed up another step, and found herself cornered against the ramp leading up to the clubhouse.
Scootaloo stamped a forehoof, and snorted, shaking her mane. “Do you hear me, Rainbow Dash? I… Laid. It. Down!”
She stared in Dash’s horrified eyes, demanding acceptance, validation.
Rainbow Dash tried to think of what Applejack would say—what Rarity would say—Fluttershy, Cheerilee, anypony. She failed. She glared right back, and she said what Rainbow Dash would say.
“Yeah, great. Good luck with that.”
Dash’s wings whipped open, and she jumped awkwardly up and took to the air, rising slowly at first but gaining speed, her direction nothing more specific than up and away. Her jaw was set, her expression still a mingling of guilt, hurt and rage, and she was done with that conversation.
Below her, Scootaloo howled, “COME BACK! YOU CAN’T SAY THAT!”
“I’d like to see you stop me!” yelled Dash, and flapped harder.
“I’M GONNA GET YOU, RAINBOW DASH!”
Dash just laughed bitterly, and flew higher into the sky.
Scootaloo’s face was as purple as her mane. She pawed at the ground with a forehoof, glared upward at the receding blue dot in the sky… and took off, straight up.
There was no chance of screaming at Dash again. For a moment she regretted that she hadn’t shrieked one last curse, but then she put the thought out of her mind. Her tiny wings buzzed frantically, and Scootaloo kicked the air, thrashing, fighting her way up and up, higher and higher as the trees began to drop away.
She’d never seen that before. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was getting Rainbow Dash, and maybe biting her or kicking her in that stupid fat pregnant belly to teach her a lesson. Scootaloo’s vision was tinged with red as she redoubled her efforts, aiming for that maddening dot, her failed hero who had betrayed her last hope.
Rainbow Dash heaved a few deep breaths as she flew blithely upward. “Sheesh!” she said. “Come on, Dash. You’ve got to do better than that. You’re gonna have to do better than that.”
She hovered for a bit. “Nice view. Been a while. Whoof… yeah, this was fucking stupid. Damn it. Okay, enough pony hissy fits. Time to grow up.” She sighed. “Time to fly back down and talk to the kid…”
Rainbow Dash looked down.
The scooter was still there, but Scootaloo wasn’t with it. Scootaloo was no more than a few hundred feet below her. The kid was fighting like hell, and looked really winded, and apoplectic with rage.
“Holy crap!” squeaked Dash.
Scootaloo met her eyes, and heaved in a huge breath. “RAINBOW D…”
The tiny wings cramped up, and stopped.
Scootaloo’s eyes flew wide open, and she never finished the word. Instead, she just screamed “EEEEEEEEEEEE!” as she dropped out of the sky, hundreds of feet below Dash.
“Holy crap kid hang on I’m coming!” cried Dash, and dove, beating her wings, feeling her huge weight drag her down just as fast as her power dive did.
Scootaloo was kicking her hooves, her wings still cramped to hell. Dash dove frantically, catching up closer and closer, and all the while her panic rose. There was no time…
The ground was rocketing up towards them. She saw Applejack in the distance, trotting unknowingly towards town. She saw a magenta blur on the horizon. But most of all, she saw Scootaloo, plummeting towards the ground, a hundred feet away.
Seventy feet away.
Thirty feet away, as Dash struggled to catch up.
Applejack still trotted in the distance. Dash tried to reach. Twenty feet away… fifteen…
She was gonna DIE!
Every instinct Rainbow Dash had started screaming at her, telling her she wouldn’t be able to pull out while also carrying a nearly-grown school-pony.
Dash’s face became a mask of horror. She felt how heavy she was. Spy… she wasn’t gonna be able to pull out even with just herself and Spy! Still more than ten feet away… her instincts told her she had five, four, three, TWO…
Dash’s wings snapped out, desperately catching air, and she screamed in anguish as her biggest fan dropped away beneath her. “NOOO! SCOOTALOOO!! OH PLEASE NOOOO!”
She couldn’t look away from the tiny figure as the ground below rocketed closer, though she desperately wanted to. Scootaloo’s mouth was open in horror, and then she just curled into a little ball. Dash felt drops of water strike her as she fought to save herself and Spy.
Raindrops didn’t fall as fast as a body. Scootaloo’s tears would hit the ground after her. Rainbow Dash’s tears would never stop falling…
A magenta streak blasted across Dash’s field of vision, and the little orange dot wasn’t there anymore.
Dash blinked, and all at once she had no chance to think about anything. The ground was racing up too fast, and she squealed and flapped frantically, distracted for maybe a moment too long, screwing her eyes shut and giving it all she had…
Dash opened her eyes, and she was hovering no more than two feet off the ground. There was no sign of Scootaloo, or the magenta blur. She allowed herself to touch down.
A pegasus pony flew up—a very familiar looking pegasus pony, magenta with minty-white mane and tail—Flight Lightning. She carried a trembling orange ball in her forelegs, and she landed near Dash, and wouldn’t let go of her prize—she just clung, shaking like a leaf. Dash stared and stared.
Flight Lightning drew an unsteady breath, and spoke, but not to Dash.
“Never said you had to fly THAT high, kid…”
Scootaloo’s eyes flew open in shock. She looked around, saw Dash’s stricken face, and twisted around to see who held her—saw Flight Lightning’s face and the tears pouring down—and Scootaloo wailed and grabbed her in a desperate, tight hug, and Flight wrapped her up in an equally frantic embrace and also enfolded the sobbing filly in a cocoon of powerful magenta wings.
Rainbow Dash staggered closer. “Oh my Celestia… thank you, thank you so much, oh my gosh…”
Flight Lightning was still shaking almost too hard to talk, her eyes screwed shut and the tears flooding out—but when she heard Dash’s voice, it got her attention. She opened an eye, and she saw Dash’s expression.
“Don’t look at me like that, Dash. I understand…”
“If you hadn’t been there… when did you get so fucking FAST…”
“I had to,” said Flight Lightning, and gave way to the shakes again, rocking Scootaloo in her embrace. When she could speak, she added, “Like what you had to do, Dash. I understand.”
Dash’s face twisted. “I…”
“You had to pull up,” said Flight Lightning, very softly. “There was no choice for you. You had to save your baby. And you did, too. You saved your baby.”
Her head lifted, and she looked straight at Rainbow, triumph in her eyes.
“And I saved mine.”
Dash’s jaw dropped. “You…”
“Yeah,” said Flight.
“You’re… You’ve been Scootaloo’s Mom all this…”
“Yeah,” said Flight.
Rainbow Dash fell silent, and just stared at the tough, aggressive, bitter pegasus who’d been such a pain in her butt—who’d physically fought with her, who’d expressed savage contempt for the idea of breeding with earth ponies—and who’d had a big secret, the whole time.
The wings parted, and an eye peeked out, and Rainbow Dash stared also at the tiny, scrappy pegasus filly with the wings that barely worked but the spirit that wouldn’t quit. Scootaloo’s face was totally vulnerable, and she looked at Dash in a strangely apologetic way, as if to say she was sorry for needing too big of a hero.
Then, the magenta wing enfolded her again, and Scootaloo was lost to sight.
“Listen to me, Dash,” said Flight Lightning. Inside the cocoon of wings, Scootaloo stirred, snuggling closer and listening too.
Rainbow nodded, and Flight Lightning spoke in simple, measured words.
“Don’t blame yourself. Even if I wasn’t there. I know you’ll be thinking about that, but I’m serious. It’s not just about you being awesome, not anymore. Don’t take dumb risks, don’t play the hero…”
Rainbow gulped, tearing up, looking into Flight Lightning’s eyes.
“I want you to stay safe, Dash, because it turns out we’re kind of alike. And you know, there might be times when it’s hard. I don’t even mean pegasus attitudes. You’re kind of like me. It might not be exactly an easy kid you get. You have no idea, Dash, you don’t know what it’s like. I hope you have good support at home…”
Rainbow Dash nodded. A rueful smile twisted the corner of Flight Lightning’s mouth.
“Yeah, I know. Awesome. But listen to me—whether you have that or not, you never give up. No matter how tough it gets, don’t you ever fucking give up, Dash. While there is life still in you, you stand by your baby. That’s all that matters. You did the right thing up there, Dash. Remember that. It might be really hard for you, but keep fighting for your kid no matter what.”
Flight drew Scootaloo a little closer.
“You’ll be glad you did.”
Dash sniffled, wiping her nose, and Flight’s eyes narrowed.
“Now, that’s enough. We’re good, we got stuff to talk about. We don’t need you right now. Go home.”
“Uh… is Scootaloo gonna be…”
“Go home, Rainbow Dash,” repeated Flight Lightning.
Dash bit her lip, kicked at the ground, fluffed her wings and winced… and then, she trotted off without further argument. Flight watched her go. Scootaloo poked her head out of her mother’s enfolding wings, and watched too.
“She’s still awesome,” she said.
Flight nodded slowly. “You’re not wrong, kiddo.”
“So…” said Scootaloo. “So, can I see my other dad?”
Flight Lightning snorted, in affectionate laughter. “Scoot, I just knew you were going to say that…”
Scootaloo still trembled, her eyes showed the ravages of tears, and yet she looked her Mom in the eye and said, “What were you gonna answer?”
She got a hoof tousling her mane, scratching her ears.
“We’ll figure something out. Fuck it. Yes. I’ll make it happen somehow.”
Hearing that, Scootaloo’s face broke into a joyous smile—which then flickered and cut out.
“Uh-oh. Mom, will he be angry like my pegasus Dad?”
“No,” said Flight. “No, he won’t. Maybe startled? I know he won’t be angry. He was so different. Hell, kid, I miss him real bad. I just didn’t dare risk it, but I’ve missed him all this time. I think that’s what hurt the most.”
“Is he gonna be angry with you, then? For showing up with a kid and stuff?” asked Scootaloo.
“I’m sure he’s not angry at me either, and that’s… nice. He’s… a real character. I think you get your mane and tail from him. Not the color, but the way it falls. Ya know? Yeah. He’ll appreciate you. You’re a lot like him. You’re a high stepper too. Maybe that’s why I can’t help but love you so much.”
Scootaloo snuggled happily against her mother, who sighed contentedly before adding one final thought.
“And Appleloosa is nice this time of year…”