Two years before the one thousandth Summer Sun Celebration...
Crystal Synergy looked around her as she drank the pint of lager she had ordered. Everything looked exactly the way she had imagined it would. Tartarus, even the proprietor’s name was the same, as well as the names of his three grandchildren. Barley’s Diner was real.
Barley’s Diner & Delicatessen, a hypothetical establishment she had thought up as a world building exercise, that had no basis at all with show canon other than the fact that it was possible within the context of the setting, was real.
It had been eight years since her arrival on Gaia (and what an interesting revelation just the name of the world was), and she was having difficulty trying to keep what she remembered of My Little Pony’s canon and fanon from blurring together. The two years it had taken her to learn how to write legibly, whether with her mouth, the unfamiliar way her hooves worked, or with her magic, had not helped matters. As the indecipherable scribbles of crayon and intermittent ink smudges in her early journals could attest to.
Journals that were now probably worse than worthless, given that the attempt to keep canon and fanon separated in her memories might just have been six years worth of wasted effort.
Buck it. Forget the one drink limit for once. Crystal needed something stronger, because she certainly did not want to be sober at the moment. Paying Barley for the meal and the drink and tossing a bit into the tip jar, she left the diner and headed home.
Time to see what was in that liquor cabinet. The unicorn foal-proof lock shouldn’t be too hard to figure out. Her foster parents didn’t need to use a key after all…
*O o O o O*
“Tell ya what. For two bits you can have the lot,” Applejack stated.
“Why, thank you, I think I’ll take that offer,” Rarity replied as she purchased the last six apples and put them in her saddle bags.
“Not like I would want to keep the stand open with just two apples left.”
“Even so, I-”
“Rarity!” a blonde maned grey pegasus with yellow eyes flew over. “Come quick! Pinkie found Crystal wandering around aimlessly and babbling all sorts of nonsense, so she sent me to find you. We think she might have been drinking. Her breath smells like whiskey…”
“Oh dear…” Rarity ran off after… Muffin? Crystal called her Muffin anyway, even though most other ponies tended to call her either Derpy or Ditzy instead. Rarity was sure that her name was actually something else instead, but it had been so long since she heard anyone use it that she wasn’t sure what it really was. Babbles perhaps? She’d have to ask.
Right now her sister needed her!
“I’m comin’ too!” Applejack called out as she flipped the stall’s sign over and galloped after them. “Some mares get down right ornery when they’ve had a few. I’ll come along in case you need a hoof reining her in.”
They found Crystal in short order, sitting near Sugarcube Corner alternating between crying and laughing hysterically as she leaned against Pinkie Pie. The pink mare sat there next to her with a foreleg around her shoulders comfortingly, her own expression a mix of panic and concern.
“She won’t stop,” Pinkie told them as they approached. “She keeps babbling about King Sombra, Nightmare Moon, the Crytal Empire, and some really randy mare named Molestia. And a bunch of other stuff too, but most of it was really hard to understand. And she keeps laughing and crying at the same time, but not in the good way! She’s really really sad and I don’t know what to do-hoo-hoo!”
Crystal stiffened, and seemed to sober up in an instant (only seemed, mind you - she was still three sheets into the wind).
“Don’ be sad, Pingy,” Crystal slurred. “Yer the happy one. You make ponies ha *hic* happy, and makin’ ponies happy makes you hoppy. Happy. Wha’ever. Iz wrong to make you sad. Who made you sad, Pingy? Ima beat ‘em up…”
“Crystal, dear, please stop. You’re upsetting Pinkie Pie.”
“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii, Sis!” Crystal called out cheerfully, then scowled. “Waitaminit… I upset Pingy? She’s my bes’ frien… I can’ upset my bes’ frien’! Ima beat me up!” And with that declaration, she hoofed herself in the face.
“Wuz tha’ it?” Crystal growled, bleeding from her lips and one of her nostrils. “I di’n feel a thin’ ya wuss! Ima gonna have to hit me harder!”
“Hold on there, Sally,” Applejack stated as she restrained Crystal’s forelegs. “You’re upsettin’ your sister and friends, beating yourself up like that!”
“Please don’t hit yourself, Crystal,” Pinkie requested desperately.
“Allrigh’” Crystal nodded agreeably and relaxed. “Yer a gud pony, Pingy. Don’ be sad…”
A sad guitar tune seemed to start playing without any discernible source.
“Is that a Heartsong starting?” Rarity asked, looking around for whoever might be playing the instruments.
“Not just a Heartsong,” Applejack stated, abruptly letting Crystal go and taking several cautious steps back. “A drunk Heartsong! Watch yourselves, everypony - no telling’ what’ll happen!”
And then Crystal Synergy started singing a song from her memory to Pinkie Pie…
“When your rife with devastation,
There’s a simple explanation;
You’re a toymaker’s creation,
Trapped inside a crystal ball!
“And whichever way he tilts it,
Know that we must be resilient!
We won’t let them break our spirit,
As we sing our silly song!
“When I was a little filly,
A galloping blaze overtook my city.
They shipped me off to the orphanage.
Said ditch those roots if you wanna fit in!
“So I dug one thousand holes,
And cut a rug with orphan foals.
Now memories are blurred,
Their faces are obscured,
But I still know the words to this song!
“When you’ve bungled all your bangles,
And your loved ones have been mangled,
Listen to the jingle jangle,
Of my gypsy tambourine!
“‘Cause these chords are hypnotizing,
And the whole world’s harmonizing.
So please children stop your crying,
And just sing along with me!”
And with her very first Heartsong finished, Crystal Synergy kissed Pinkie Pie full on the lips then fell over sideways and started snoring.
“Well, that just happened,” Applejack observed dryly as Pinkie blushed.
“That’s so sad,” Pinkie cried, her frizzy mane drooping as tears welled in her eyes.
“We never knew,” Rarity said. “Crystal never talks about her past.”
“Wait,” Applejack looked between the two white unicorns. “I thought she was your sister?”
“Foster sister, actually,” Rarity corrected. “We kept waiting for someone to eventually show up looking for her, but I guess that day will never come. We're the only family she has left now.”
“Well, come on,” Applejack began as she shifted Crystal off of the ground and onto her back. “I’ll help you get her home and into a bed. Wouldn’t be the first time I hauled a drunk pony to their house…”