True to her own mental promise, Pinkie got up bright and early the next day and headed down to the orphanage as fast as her legs could carry her. Her end goal was clear in mind. She would be walking back out of that orphanage as Scootaloo's adopted mother, or at least her foster guardian.
Zooming right up the front steps of the modest, one floor brick building, the party pony could barely contain her excitement. She'd taken care of the Cake Twins several times when their parents were busy or not around, and they adored her. Compared to them, raising Scootaloo would be a piece of cake. A tasty one, too.
As she approached the front desk, Pinkie Pie locked eyes with the one pony she knew could help her. Caring Heart, a light brown coated earth pony mare of medium build. Her red mane and tail were styled into a set of curls not unlike the ones you saw on Rarity's mane. She had eyes a sweet blue in color, like the sky on a cloudless day. And fitting for her warm and welcoming nature, her cutie mark depicted a giant pink heart.
Caring was a little bit surprised to see Pinkie, but she did her best to maintain her composure as she greeted her guest. "Well hello there, Pinkie Pie. What brings you here on today of all days? Are we celebrating a birthday party for one of the little ones? One of these days I really need to write down all those dates somewhere."
Pinkie shook her head. "No siree, there's no parties that brought me here," She cleared her throat and then quickly blurted out. "IwanttoadoptScootaloo.Canyouhelpme,please?!"
"Pinkie, slow down," Caring advised the maniac party pony. "You were speaking so fast I couldn't make out what you just said."
"Oopsie, sorry about that. I'm just so excited!" The pink party pony eagerly grinned. Then, more slowly, she announced. "I want to adopt Scootaloo. Can you help me, please?"
The mare with a mane of red smiled. "Absolutely, Miss. Pie. If you'll kindly step into my office, we can conduct the interview now."
"Interview?" Pinkie commented, adopting the most perplexed look on her face.
Caring Heart nodded. "I very well can't just sign off on anypony who walks in and says they want to adopt one of the orphans here, even you. I need to make sure they're equipped to take care of the lucky colt or filly's needs. Little ponies are a big responsibility, and a major undertaking."
"But I'm ready, I know I am!" Pinkie protested loudly. "Can't we just skip the interview and bring out the papers? I promise to give Scootaloo a good home."
"I'm sure you would, Pinkie, but it's my job as head caretaker to double check and make sure," Caring informed quite seriously. "Right this way, please."
Reluctantly, Pinkie followed the mare down a relatively short hallway, albeit one with several windows. One of which offered a glance to the small playground out back. Pinkie's roving eyes briefly noticed Scootaloo sitting by herself on the swing set, gazing up at the clouds. The pegasus seemed to be taking the news of her heritage (and birth parents) quite well, but it still stung at Pinkie's heart to see her little sister all alone and with nopony to talk to.
"I promise, Scootaloo. Soon you'll have the loving home you deserve, and all the care and affection you could ever want." Pinkie thought to herself, reaffirming her mental vow.
Soon, Caring Heart led Pinkie around a corner, and then through the first door on the right. On the other side was a surprisingly spacious office. A desk of fine oak was a good distance from the door, and the floors were covered with soft (but worn) red carpet. The walls were painted a gentle white in color, and several small windows allowed sunlight to seep in (with controllable blinds in case the light got too bright).
Caring sat down at her desk and put on a pair of thick, black reading glasses. Clearing her throat, she motioned for her guest to sit down in a wooden chair next to the desk. Pinkie obeyed, anticipation coursing through her veins at a mile a minute.
The light brown coated mare smiled briefly, before adopting a more neutral tone as she bent down and opened a drawer on her desk. A few seconds later, some documents thudded onto her desk, attracting Pinkie's attention. "Your cooperation in all of this will be greatly appreciated, Miss. Pie," She spoke in a neutral tone. "I trust you will answer honestly to any questions I present?"
Pinkie nodded quite eagerly. "Fire away, Caring Heart! I'm ready and waiting!"
"Okay then, we can begin," Caring smiled, and then cleared her throat again. "First item of business, are you prepared to take full legal responsibility for the filly that will be placed into your custody? As her parent and appointed legal guardian, you'll be responsible for ensuring she stays out of trouble and that any and all medical needs of hers will be swiftly met."
"I can do that, no sweat!" Pinkie eagerly declared. "After all, responsibility is my middle name!"
Caring nodded. "Okay. Next, are you willing to accommodate a filly into your life, knowing full well that her needs and desires will often come before yours?"
Pinkie nodded in reply. "Of course! If I wasn't, would I be going through with this interview?"
"I just have to make sure you're aware. I can't give custody to a pony who isn't prepared for all the ins and outs of being a parent," Caring explained to Pinkie. "I'm sure you're more than aware of the responsibilities, but it's my job to do this regardless, so the record shows you were thoroughly examined."
Question after question after question about Scootaloo was presented to Pinkie Pie by Caring, such as: "Will you ensure her dietary needs are met?", "Will you ensure she receives a quality education and grows up to be a functioning, responsible member of society?", "Are you willing to take disciplinary actions such as scolding and grounding if she misbehaves?", and even "Will you ensure all her medical records are kept up to date, and all medical professionals have a way to contact you in case of an emergency?".
Pinkie answered truthfully to each and every question, demonstrating (at least on the surface) an awareness of the responsibilities that would come with raising Scootaloo.
"Okay, Pinkie, we're almost done here," Caring Heart said at least, prompting a sigh of relief from the pink party pony. "I just need to ask you a few more questions. I need you to think carefully about these next ones, they're extremely crucial."
But Pinkie only responded with. "Lay 'em on me, Caring Heart! I'm ready!"
Caring reluctantly nodded. "Very well then," Adjusting her reading glasses for a brief moment, the mare then asked. "How much income do you make on a monthly basis?"
Pinkie's mouth nearly dropped open in shock! "Why is that important?!" She asked Caring with concern.
"I need to ensure the pony adopting has the financial means by which they can care for a child," Caring answered bluntly. "So, Miss. Pie, what is your answer?"
The pink party pony put a hoof to her chin, pondering for what felt like several minutes. Then she told Caring Heart. "Maybe one thousand bits, but probably less than that, maybe in the range of three to five hundred bits. The Cakes give me a basic weekly allowance whenever I help them in the bakery or watch the twins, and I don't tend to charge much for my parties. In fact, sometimes I even throw them without asking for payment."
That response caused Caring to frown, as she jotted the information down on a small notepad with a quill. "Okay..." She briefly paused, before shifting through some papers. "I know you have a roof over your head, but how exactly would you describe your living arrangements at the current moment?" She inquired.
A sigh escaped Pinkie's lips as she confessed. "It's a loft above Sugarcube Corner. The Cakes never used it, so they let me borrow it and rent it out. They're pretty generous though, they don't ever charge more than fifty bits a month."
"And it is also my understanding that you happen to be friends with Princess Twilight," Caring Heart commented, appearing to raise an eyebrow to Pinkie. "And that means you sometimes travel away from Ponyville. How often would you say you're away from Ponyville on important missions?"
"I don't really keep track of that sort of thing, Twilight does," Pinkie told Caring truthfully. "Although... if I had to guess... I'd say my friends and I tend to be away from Ponyville almost every other week. Why, just recently we all traveled to Manehattan for fashion week. That was a blast!"
"I'm sure it was," Caring commented again, jotting down all the information she had received. After looking it over for a bit, she rose from her desk and reluctantly she said to Pinkie Pie. "I'm sorry, I'm afraid I must deny your adoption request for Scootaloo."
Pinkie's mane and tail nearly deflated right then and there! Those were the words she hadn't hoped to hear it all. "Why not?" She asked Caring Heart. "Was it something I said?"
A sigh of regret left the earth pony mare's lips as she looked at Pinkie. "No no no, you answered all my questions truthfully just like I requested. But between your lack of a steady income, your living situation, and most of all the fact that you're away from Ponyville often, I cannot in good faith allow myself to approve the adoption."
"Well, could I at least be Scootaloo's legal guardian then, or something?" Pinkie offered in a weak tone of voice. "She could still live here, I'd just be responsible for things like her medical bills and her education."
Caring shook her head once again. "I'm afraid I can't do that either, Pinkie. If you were out of town and something were to happen to Scootaloo, how would anypony be able to get in touch with you?" Sighing, the head caretaker put a hoof around the neck of her guest. "I'm sorry. I know you wanted to give Scootaloo a proper home after what happened with her birth parents."
"No, it's okay. I guess it was silly of me not to consider all those things you mentioned," Pinkie unhappily remarked, looking down at the ground. "I should probably be going now. But tell Scootaloo her big sister says hi." And with that, the pink party pony turned and trotted out of Caring Heart's office, and then the orphanage itself.
It wasn't long before Mr. and Mrs. Cake heard the sad news. And naturally, they did their best to try and cheer up the pink bundle of joy that they couldn't envision living their lives without. So after hanging an "Out to Lunch" sign over the front counter, they made their way upstairs to the loft Pinkie called home. They found her laying in bed, tears flowing from her sweet, innocent blue eyes.
"I just wanted to do something nice for my new little sister," Pinkie remarked between loud sobs and sniffles. "I thought I could give her a proper home and a loving family. I should've known it was never gonna work out, a pony like me could never adopt."
Mrs. Cake was the first to approach the crying young mare. She gently bent down and stroked a hoof across Pinkie's neck, hoping to calm her down. "There there, Pinkie, it's going to be okay. It's the thought that counts, after all."
Pinkie just sniffled again. "Not in this case. Scootaloo's still in the orphanage. And I made a promise to get her out."
"Does she even know about this promise?" Mr. Cake asked, as he sat down beside Pinkie on the bed. "Do you even know if she wants to be adopted?"
"Well... no I don't... but..." Pinkie began, only to trail off into more sobs.
"Well, how about this then, Pinkie?" Mr. Cake offered up to his young charge. "Cup Cake and I could adopt Scootaloo for you."
Pinkie stopped crying, slowly lifting her head and looking up at the Cakes. "Really?! You'd really do that for me?!"
Mrs. Cake was not so sure. "Honey bun, are you sure that's a good idea? We already have the twins and Pinkie Pie. Are we really set to handle another pony? Especially one with such emotional baggage?"
Mr. Cake chuckled. "Funny, I seem to recall thinking the same thing when Pinkie Pie came into our lives all those years ago. But you assured me we could handle it, and you were right," The stallion then smiled. "And look at how well Pound and Pumpkin Cake get along with Pinkie Pie. She's just like their big sister. I'm sure they won't be too jealous, in fact I bet they'll love having another playmate to mess about with."
"Well, we'll at least need to run this by Scootaloo first, of course," Mrs. Cake insisted. "It's only fair that she get a say in all of this. And if she says no, that's the end of it."
Mr. Cake nodded, looking across to his wife. "I understand, Sugar Plum. We'll have to break the news to her somehow."
Pinkie just smiled, leaping up from her bed with renewed energy and vigor. "Leave that to me!" She boldly declared!