Although the white sheets had been removed days ago, Scootaloo was still certain that she could smell Copperbolt's distinct fragrance from the large mattress. This was the main reason she had been spending most of the time since the funeral in her, now former, bedroom, tightly hugging the sheetless pillow. She kept digging her nose into the sheets to, at the same time dry her eyes whenever they began to tear up, to keep to keep the memory of the brown mare completely intact, especially now that she had seen firsthoof how nopony else seemed to do that.
She remembered how the funeral had been painfully empty. Although the ceremony was held on a holiday, and the sun had been shining as brightly as always, only a few ponies had shown up to show their respect. A few of Copperbolt's former Wonderbolt comrades, a few former fans, Dr. Heartfeld and herself were the only ones with enough guts to even make an appearance. Not even Scootaloo's father had dared show his face, making the orange filly curse his name whenever she thought about him even more than she had done before. How such an amazing pony as Copperbolt could have touched so few hearts, and how the one she had loved her entire life would not even come and say his farewells was beyond Scootaloo's ability to comprehend.
The filly's sorrowful line of thought was distracted by a few knocks on the door, followed by a sweet mare's voice saying: "Can I come in?"
Scootaloo turned her head and wiped her eyes clean so as to be able to clearly see who this mysterious stranger was. She saw a middle-aged, dark blue pony with a well-trimmed mint green mane and a potted tulip cutie mark standing in the doorway, shooting her a warm smile that did not seem to even attempt to hide the fact that she was putting pity on the orange filly, as if she somehow understood exactly how she felt. Standing behind this mare was a more familiar face, Dr. Heartfeld, which explained how the blue mare had gotten into the house.
"Sure," Scootaloo apathetically replied with a shrug. "It's not like I care." She did not want company right now, especially not from somepony who would definitely pity her as if she was the most unfortunate thing in the world. She showed this unsocial attitude off by lying back down on the pillow, facing the opposite direction of the two ponies. Yet they still decided to enter and stand beside the bed.
"Scootaloo," Heartfeld started in a soft, yet serious voice. "I'd like you to meet Mrs. Flowerbed. She's here to help."
Scootaloo did not reply, so the blue mare took this as her cue to speak: "How are you feeling, dear?" she asked with an annoying sense of familiarity, as if they had known each other forever.
"Fine," the orange filly said without turning her head. "Just fine."
"I see," the mare continued. She looked around the room a few times, maintaining the same smirk of pity on her face. "It's a nice place you two had here. Was this your mother's room?"
"Yep," Scootaloo replied.
"And I'm guessing that was her bed, right?"
This time Scootaloo turned around and gave the smiling mare a disapproving stare. "Well, duh? Where else would she sleep?"
"You're right, of course," the mare said with an embarrassed grin on her face, quickly nodding as she spoke. "I guess that was a silly question, right?"
The orange filly raised an eyebrow and looked to the doctor on the blue mare's side. She pointed a hoof at the mare and started talking about her as if she was not there, though she was too irritated to care about being polite. "Who the hay is this?"
The doctor gave a short smile that quickly turned serious again. He turned his head to the mare as though he was looking for her approval with something, and sure enough: She nodded back at him, her own smile having faded away. Returning his attention to Scootaloo, he sighed before he began speaking: "Scootaloo," he said and gave himself a small break, his pupils pointing to the sky while he was moving his mustache from side to side in thought. "Mrs. Flowerbed is a therapist. She works at 'Celestia's Home for Lost Children' in Canterlot. It's… an orphanage. She's here to help you and… well, how shall I put this… it's going to be your new home."
The orange filly's mouth gaped open as she retracted her body in frightened surprise. "What?" she simply replied, looking fearfully at the slowly nodding mare and then back at Heartfeld.
"It's really for your own good, dear," the mare gently said with the same annoyingly familiar tone. "Besides, it's not as bad as it sounds. It's a really nice place, and everypony there wants you to have a good time. You'll probably make a lot of friends there."
"But I don't wanna go to an orphanage," Scootaloo said with a high-pitched voice of terror. She stood up in the bed and took a few steps backwards, shaking her head slowly from side to side as if the doctor and the mare had suddenly become arch-enemies of hers. "I just wanna stay here."
"Now, be reasonable, Scootaloo," Dr. Heartfeld began, but he was cut off by the mint-haired pony, who was shaking her head to tell him that she would do this by herself.
"Darling," she said with the voice of pity that Scootaloo truly dreaded. "There's really nothing to be afraid of. I promise you will like it there."
"But… why can't I just stay here?" The orange filly responded. Her eyes showed the sort of fear one would find in a cornered animal, shifting between these weirdly compassionate hunters before her. Noticing how they gave each other a few long glances, as if they were telepathically communicating in sentences she was not supposed to hear, Scootaloo found a desperate glimmer of hope in the old stallion's presence. With a long jump across the bed, she leaned her forehooves against his chest and looked him deep in the eyes. "… Or maybe I can stay with you?"
Heartfeld bit his lips as if he was expecting something like this to happen, and dreaded the thought. "I'm sorry, Scootaloo," he said as he turned his pupils to the side in order to avoid the filly's gaze. "You can't stay with me."
Scootaloo's eyes teared up a bit and her ears fell slightly to the side when she heard this. The old stallion's words had struck her like an arrow in the back, one that hit her nerves too at that. "… What?" she said with a lowered volume and a whimpering tone.
"I'm really sorry… I just can't let you stay with me," the old stallion continued with a serious, yet clearly pained voice.
"Wh-wh… wh-…" It took the filly all of her strength to search her vocabulary and find the right words. She stepped back from the doctor and dropped her flank to the soft mattress, still trying to get eye contact with him, fruitlessly. "… Why?"
"Scootaloo…" He took a deep breath and shut his eyes tight for a second before he forced himself to meet the orange filly's gaze, facing the problem head on. "… I'm a doctor. I've been a doctor for many years and I've had a lot of patients. Some of them have… well… passed away… and left behind their children. If I took care of all of them because of something like this, then I would be driving an orphanage myself… you understand that, don't you?"
Scootaloo was shaking her head slowly, still maintaining eye contact although her eyes had become soaked enough for a blur to make this a challenge in itself. "No… I don't understand… What are you saying?"
"I'm saying… Copperbolt was a wonderful pony and you are a sweet girl, Scootaloo… But she was just a patient of mine. As a doctor, I can't get too emotionally involved with my patients or the people near them. It would ruin my career as well." His eyes were shaking to the point where he had to break their contact with Scootaloo's once more. "I'm really sorry…"
"Your… career?" Scootaloo said in a whimpering voice. She could feel her hooves shaking. The tears she was shedding steadily went from those of fear and sorrow into tears of anger, feeling completely betrayed by the doctor's words. "Mom was… just a… just a patient?"
"Darling…" the mare stepped in, having noticed the filly's mood changing. "He didn't mean it like-…"
"SHUT UP!" Scootaloo roared with enough force to make the blue mare instinctively step back. The filly was panting, struggling to catch her breath because of her mixed feelings of rage and betrayal. She barred her chattering teeth at the doctor, who was looking at her with calm, apologetic eyes. "What do you mean 'she was just a patient'!?" She found herself scolding the old stallion. "Didn't you feel anything for her!? You've treated her several times a week for years, didn't you!? Wasn't that enough to make you sad that she…!?"
"Scootaloo-..." the doctor started, but he was quickly interrupted by the angry filly's sorrowful screaming.
"Didn't you cry at the funeral!?" she continued shouting in a tone that was even louder than before.
"Of course I did," the old stallion defended in a low voice. "But-…"
Once again he was interrupted. "But what!?" The orange filly was burning with rage, while struggling to breathe properly because of the constant sniffing she had to do to keep the tears back as much as possible. "You didn't care for us at all, did you!? Mom was just a job, wasn't she!? Another way to make money!"
The doctor was shaking his head with a shocked expression while the blue mare was biting the tip of her hoof, following the scene with watery eye corners. "No!" Heartfeld defended loudly, though he tried to keep calm and lowered his voice immediately. "You got it all wrong… Scootaloo, I did care about you two… Copperbolt was one of the strongest, funniest and smartest ponies I've ever met. But as a doctor I can't just go and prefer one patient over another, you can see that, right?"
"No!" Scootaloo shouted stubbornly in response, casting away reason with a single swipe of the head. "I can't see that! You're just leaving me alone!"
"Please, dear," the blue mare finally intervened, putting a hoof on the angry filly's back to calm her down, though Scootaloo shoved her back in an instant.
"Don't touch me!" she said to the mare before returning her attention to Heartfeld. "You're just like dad, you know that!? As soon as things get a little rough, you just turn your back and run away!"
"Scootaloo…" the doctor said as gently as possible, trying his best to calm her down. He reached out a hoof to calm her with a hug, but Scootaloo did something that surprised everyone in the room: She bit him. As soon as Heartfeld's hoof had reached her shoulder, she spun around with a viper's speed and let her fangs dig into the area just above the elderly stallion's hoof. With a short scream and an accidental curse word not meant for a filly as young as Scootaloo, he retracted his leg and instinctively began inspecting the teeth marks.
Scootaloo was quick-witted and used the resulting confusion to jump down from the bed and make her escape. She grabbed a key next to the picture of her dad on the drawer with her mouth, and from there on made a quick turn, facing the door. The blue mare and Dr. Heartfeld had snapped back from the surprise at this moment and started pursuing the filly. Scootaloo was already too far ahead of them though.
Before she slammed the bedroom door, she made sure to stare the old stallion in the eyes as he approached her. With clear words and a hoarse voice, she shut her eyes tight and shouted at the top of her lungs: "I hate you, Heartfeld!"
This apparently startled the doctor just enough for him to make a quick stop and make his lips shiver on a hurt face. The orange filly finally slammed the bedroom door, stuck the key in the keyhole and turned it, locking the two ponies inside the bedroom. She could hear them kick at the door and shout simultaneously, calling her name and begging her to open the door. She was even certain she could hear Heartfeld's voice yell apologies at her, but she was too mad at this point to care.
Sniffing a few times, she put on a determined, yet tearful expression, and rushed down the stairs. Having been the one taking care of the house for years, she knew exactly where everything was, and she instantly opened a specific desk drawer in the study, that actually used to be her father's. In there, she found a lot of documents, including the deed to the house, old bills and all other sort of things. She quickly found what she was looking for in the mess of paper: Documents regarding where Scootaloo went to school, a list of her classmates' numbers and a lot of other things that could help the authorities track the young filly down so they could put her in that dreadful orphanage.
It suddenly hit Scootaloo what she was doing: She was running away. Her entire life had been spent in this particular house, but if she wanted to avoid going to the orphanage, she would have to leave everything behind. However, she would have to leave everything behind by going to the orphanage as well, so she might as well just run along with her pride and get everything over with.
She took a deep breath and snatched the documents she needed, and then ran to the door without looking back. With a few quick movements, she opened the door wide and jumped up on the scooter she had parked just outside. She got ready to drive on, though stopped herself for a moment so she could get a final glance at her home. Staring at it with sad eyes, a full, but short filly-life flashed before her eyes, mainly with pictures of a certain brown mare's loving smile. As she felt her eyes becoming watery, she bit her lip to stop it from shaking, and started the small motor that her underdeveloped wings could be used as. With a last goodbye said under her breath, she narrowed her eyes and focused on the road ahead, which seemed to lead nowhere, yet was the road she would have to follow. Hopefully, she would end up somewhere better.