• Published 13th Mar 2012
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Double-edged Sword - fic Write Off



/fic/ Write Off Mar 10 Entries

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A Case of You

Berry Punch needed to drink.

The plum-colored mare sat at the bar, a drink beside her and her head resting on the counter. The barmare stood cleaning a glass, looking at her with pity. For a while it had seemed that Berry had kicked the habit, but today she had returned, and returned with an unsatisfiable thirst. She had almost exhausted the bar’s supply of whiskey, downing them all silently with a vacant stare. The bar was empty now, and the barmare had already dimmed some of the lights, but she hadn’t the heart to kick Berry out. She was a drunkard, yes, but she also knew that Berry had a reason to be. They all did.

“You’re awfully quiet today, Berry,” she said softly, putting down the last dirty glass.

Berry Punch didn’t reply, her head still resting on the wooden counter surrounded by her mane. Her vacant gaze had a hint of sadness, but most of her emotion had seemingly been wiped clean by the alcohol. The barmare sighed.

“Y’know, everypony’s pretty worried about you,” she continued, not caring whether Berry was listening or not. “You can tell me what’s wrong, you know.”

Berry Punch shifted to move her hooves around her head, hiding her face. The barmare wiped her hands clean with a grubby cloth in resignation, and clopped around the counter. She silently sat on the stool next to her, propping her head up with her hooves.

“I’m worried about you,” she added.

The bar was dark now, and the two were illuminated by the last shining lamp. Outside the windows was pitch-black night, with tiny pinpricks of white indicating the start of the sky. It was peacefully silent save for the occasional, faint hooting of the librarian’s owl. The barmare looked back to Berry, resting her eyes on her mulberry mane. It was then that she noticed the tiny movements she was making; her back rising up and down erratically. She frowned in sadness as she realized what was happening, and as expected, a whimper, followed by a sniffle, came from within Berry Punch’s crossed hooves. The barmare softly put her hoof on the jerking back, patting Berry’s soft fur. Then, Berry spoke.

“Y-You know that song, Shots? Th-The song by Trill Note?” she sobbed.

“Which one, dear?”

Berry lifted her head from the counter, wiping her tears away with the back of her hoof. She sat up in her chair, eyes fixed ahead of her, and sang:

Just before our love got lost, you said:

"I am as constant as a northern star."

And I said, "Constantly in the darkness,

Where's that?

If you want me I'll be at the bar..."

The tempo was held precariously, and she strained to make the notes, but there was a beauty in it; her voice sounded delicate, precious, almost broken.

Oh I could drink a case of you darling,

and I would still be on my hooves,

…still be on my hooves.

She finished with tears in her eyes, her voice faltering on the last word. She sniffed and looked down to her hooves, watching a tear roll down from her face and land on one.

“That was really beautiful, Berry,” Shots said softly.

Berry merely sniffed again, clopping a hoof on the counter. Shots moved closer with her stool, placing a hoof around her back once more and putting her other on top of Berry’s hoof. Berry was shivering, but Shots knew that it wasn’t because she was physically cold. This cold came from inside.

“Did you lose your love, too?” Shots whispered quietly.

Berry Punch’s eyes opened wide as something happened within her. After a few moments of stunned silence, she nodded jerkily, unwillingly. Then, the mare burst into unconstrained tears. Shots moved closer and wrapped her other hoof around Berry’s back, pulling her into a hug.

“There, there...” she comforted, guiding Berry’s head onto her shoulder and patting Berry’s back. “Let it out, dear...” she whispered.

Berry’s back rose and sunk with great heaves as she cried and whimpered into Shots’ mane, a cold sadness welling up from deep inside her.

And she started to tell her about the love she had lost.


I was sitting at a table in Sugar Cube corner, as I did every Friday afternoon. The daffodil sandwich in front of me lay untouched. Coming to Sugar Cube corner was a habit to me now, even though I had no-one to go with. But a few weeks ago, that all changed. I had an entirely different reason to be sitting here today.

“Hey Berry! You haven’t touched your sandwich!”

I turned around to see the craziest, pinkest mare in the neighbourhood trotting up to me.

“Is there anything wrong with it? I mean, I don’t think there should be... Or maybe you’re sick! Then we need to get you to the clinic!”

Before I could get a single word in, she was already checking the pulse in my hoof.

“Pinkie...” I began, “there’s nothing wrong with the sandwich....”

Pinkie looked up at me and cocked an eyebrow. “But you’ve been here for hours! And you haven’t touched it!

“I’m—”

“Wait! I know, I know! You’re waiting for somepony, right?”

I shifted uncomfortably, and I think she noticed.

“Y-Yes...”

“But they’re late, right?” she beamed.

“I... Yes. How did you—”

“You’re waiting for Fluttershy and Rarity, right?”

I blinked, and I think I was blushing, too. She’d guessed correctly, but I could never let anyone know. I knew Pinkie Pie was one of their best friends, and she was bound to let it slip the next time they met. I checked the tables around for anyone else.

“Pinkie, listen...” I whispered urgently. “Y-You can’t tell them!”

“Huh?”

Pinkie’s eyes narrowed before a sly grin crossed her pink muzzle.

“Oh...” she smiled dangerously.

“You’re going to tell them, aren’t you?” I mumbled quietly to the floor.

“No, silly, of course I won’t!” Pinkie laughed, pulling up a chair from another table.

Pinkie was sitting very close to me now; uncomfortably close. She leaned in to my ear and whispered:

“So, which one? Or is it both!”

I think I almost jumped out of my seat.

“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about!” I stuttered.

Pinkie put a hoof around my shoulder.

“Don’t worry, Berry! I won’t tell anyone!” she insisted, patting my back.

I looked at her disbelievingly.

“You want me to Pinkie Promise? I’ll Pinkie Promise!” she warned, moving to get out of her seat.

“No, okay, fine!” I yielded. “It’s...”

Pinkie Pie leaned in right next to my neck expectantly.

“...Fluttershy.”

Pinkie grinned and squeaked in excitement.

“Oh, boy,” she giggled. “That’s a doozy.”


What I hadn’t realized about telling Pinkie was that even if she didn’t tell anyone, she’d still find a way to embarrass me so that I’d feel like dying. She’d told me that today, Fluttershy and Rarity were spending the post-spa lunch at Rarity’s boutique, so that Rarity could get an opinion on a new dress design.

Now, I found myself taking a walk around Ponyville with Pinkie Pie, who was plotting ways of getting Fluttershy and I together and simultaneously giving me tips on her personality.

“Fluttershy’s kinda... No, actually she’s really, really, shy.”

“I know, Pinkie...”

“Oh, right, duh, I forgot you’ve been stalking her,” she giggled, giving me a friendly pat on the back. “So, why Fluttershy? Have you even met her?”

“Once.”

The first, and only, time I had met Fluttershy had been in Shots’ bar. I was going through another slump; times when I felt desperately sad and lonely. I was distracting myself with strong drink, as I did every few days, and I was sobbing with my head resting on the counter. Shots was trying her best to lift my spirits, but I couldn’t hear her.

I heard and felt Fluttershy long before I finally saw her. A different hoof was rubbing my back, and a soft, tender voice stalled my tears.

“Please don’t cry, Berry.”

It froze me and thawed me at the same time. I choked on a whimper and brought my head up from the table to see her cyan eyes, quietly pleading me to let her in. I stared at her in stunned silence as she wiped the tears from the cheeks with a hoof.

Then she hugged me.

“Whatever’s wrong, it’s all going to be okay.”

I shivered. She was warm, and smelled strangely like freshly baked bread. The feeling brought something else up in my mind and before I knew, I was crying again into Fluttershy’s warm shoulder. I could feel her hoof lightly patting my back. I felt... loved.

“Just don’t cry, okay? Whatever it is...”

She moved away again, letting me wipe my nose with the back of my hoof and sniff back the rest of my tears. I could see the rest of her friends sitting at a table not far away, staring with admiration and encouragement. They all looked like very nice friends.

Fluttershy invited me over to the table, and they all beckoned me over too, but I made some stupid excuse. I knew they didn’t believe me, but I would have just ruined their night out.

“Wow,” Pinkie whistled. “That was the first and only time?”

I nodded.

“Um, why were you crying that night?” she asked quietly.

“I cry a lot. I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Okay.”


“I’m not going in.”

Now I was staring at Fluttershy’s cottage. It was beginning to get dark, but there was warm light pouring through the windows, illuminating the ground around the cottage. It was a really nice place, the thatched roof and wooden beams made it homely and... inviting...

“Wanna bet?” Pinkie smirked.

Pinkie was trotting up to the building now, humming a song. A part of me just wanted to gallop off, forget any of this every happened and never talk to Pinkie again, but another part of me was hanging on to the hope that Pinkie would help me meet Fluttershy just one more time...

“Hey! Fluttershy!” Pinkie shouted up at the second floor window. “Fluttershy!”

I choked as I realized Pinkie’s plan. This was not going to be very subtle.

“Pinkie—”

“Fluttershy! Come out! I have somepony who wants to meet you here!”

My eyes widened.

“No, Pinkie, please!”

It was too late, a silhouette had appeared at the second floor window and pulled the curtains to the side. I was frozen to the spot. I wanted to gallop away, I really did. But... I couldn’t. Fluttershy’s face appeared at the window.

“Hello, Pinkie... and hi, Berry! Um, you wanted to see me?”

Pinkie was staring at me now, trying to work out my facial expression. I was just staring. If only she knew how much I had been aching to see her again...

“Would you two like to come in?” Fluttershy asked, now looking concerned.

Pinkie Pie trotted over to me and gave me a nudge. “Well, I’d love to Fluttershy, but I’ve got some dough I need to prepare for tomorrow. But I’m sure Berry’d love to come in!” She turned to me and whispered: “I’ve got you this far, you go on solo from here! Good luck!” She giggled and thumped me on the shoulder.

On one hand, Pinkie had introduced me to Fluttershy proper, and for that I was immensely grateful. On the other hand, I wasn’t sure if I should have wanted to be introduced to Fluttershy in the first place; especially this way.

“Um, okay!” Fluttershy smiled. “I’ll come down and open the door.”

Her pink mane twirled and left, and I gulped. Pinkie had trotted off, leaving me alone in front of the cottage. I already knew that by the end of the night, I would have done something that made Fluttershy never want to lay eyes on me again, and I though about galloping away, again. I ground a hoof in the dirt, already imagining her sweet face snarling at me. I was starting to feel sick.

“Come in!” Fluttershy smiled.

I stared silently for a few moments. Wouldn’t it be better to just leave now, instead of ruining everything? I was starting to feel very, physically sick.

“A-Are you okay, Berry?” Fluttershy trotted up to me, tender concern on her face.

I gulped. My mouth was so dry.

“Here,” Fluttershy said quietly, putting a hoof around my back.

Fluttershy guided me slowly through the front door, bringing me into the softly-lit living room. There were a number of candles dotted around, but most of the proper lighting was off— Fluttershy was probably getting ready to go to sleep. She showed me the sofa and I sat down, still feeling nauseous.

“I’m sorry,” I croaked. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me today...”

Fluttershy gave me a soft smile and nodded. “I think I do... I’m going to go make some tea, okay?”

I nodded, feeling dumbstruck. She knew? I sat there, frozen in place with tension. She soon returned with two steaming, ceramic mugs on a wooden tray. The tea smelled gingery, and it made the back of my nose tingle.

“I hope this helps...” Fluttershy said gently, passing me a mug. “It would be better if I had some alcohol but... I’m sorry, I don’t really have any here...”

My mind was spinning. Alcohol? What did drink have to do with any of this?

Fluttershy looked at my face, and my confusion was obviously pretty readable. She moved closer to me on the sofa and put a hoof around my back, squeezing me. My heart fluttered intensely.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t say, did I? Well... I see you at the bar every night at around this time, I guess you haven’t drunk at all today?”

I shook my head, but I still didn’t understand what this had to do with anything.

“I guess Pinkie didn’t tell you... You’ve... You’ve become dependant on the alcohol, Berry. You’ve been drinking so much that your body needs it every day at this time...”

I blinked. I realized that I had completely forgotten about my habit. It made complete sense, and now that I was aware of it... suddenly I really, really felt like a drink.

“You’re sure you don’t have... any?” I pleaded.

Fluttershy shook her head sheepishly.

I was beginning to develop a thumping headache, and I had a nauseous, carriagesickness-like feeling tugging at my stomach.

“Don’t worry, Berry, Pinkie brought you to the right place... I know it’s not easy asking for help, you’ve done a great job,” Fluttershy smiled, pulling me into a hug.

The fluttering of my heart was dampened a little this time. Wait, what? Going for help? What’s going on? I was beginning to get the feeling that Fluttershy had taken this all completely the wrong way, and my sick confusion wasn’t helping. My thoughts were jumbled, and I was starting to feel a very dizzy.

“I... didn’t come for help,” I croaked.

Fluttershy pulled away and looked me in the eye.

“It’s okay, Berry. It’s okay.”

I shook my head.

Maybe it was the withdrawal-sickness, maybe it was the weird tea, maybe it was just because of a weird rush of adrenaline or maybe Celestia had decided to mess with my mind, but now I really didn’t care anymore. I just said it.

“Fluttershy... I think— No... I love you.”

I stared at her, or at least I tried to; but the world was moving. I then noticed how fast my heart was beating and the rushing sound I could hear in my ears. My headache was pounding and I felt like I was drowning. I tried to say something but I choked, and I could feel the senses building up to a horrible crescendo; the humping in my head, the erratic beating of my heart, the stinging in my chest...


“There we go. Welcome back to the land of the living, Miss Punch!”

The first thing that hit me was how dry my throat felt. My mouth and throat all felt like sandpaper. I tried to swallow but I hadn’t any saliva. All I could see was bright red, but then I realized that I also had my eyes closed. I opened them.

Eight, bright circles hovered above me. They were so bright, I had to squint.

“W-Water...” I hissed.

“Yes, of course.” The voice sounded like a colt.

I lifted my head a little and the fluffy pillows behind me shifted too. I then felt the colt’s hoof sliding back out from underneath, and I looked up at him. He was a light blue unicorn buck with a darker-blue mane, and he smiled encouragingly.

“Here’s your water,” he whispered. “Can I let your friends in now?”

He lifted a cup by magic to my cracked lips, and I gulped the cool liquid down. It was impossibly satisfying. I then thought about his question, and after finishing the water I gasped:

“What friends?”

The buck shrugged.

“Well, I dunno, but you’ve got six of ‘em back in the waiting room. They’ve been here a good six hours, and they looked pretty scared. You think they could be relatives? Should we check your memory?”
Six? Six friends?

I just shook my head and croaked: “You can let them in...”

The buck trotted out, giving me a fleeting view of his heart-and-lightning-bolt cutie mark. Wait... Lightning bolt? Did my heart fail!? What the buck happened to me!?

Before long I heard hoofsteps in the room, and I propped my head up again to see something that I’d never imagined. The six ponies who had been with Fluttershy at the bar that night so long ago were here now, and most importantly, Fluttershy was with them too. Fluttershy was the first to hug me in bed and I noticed her sniffling. Had she been... crying? Over me?

“We were so worried...” she sobbed into my shoulder.

“I don’t... understand...”

The others were all looking at me like I had just died. Twilight spoke up:

“We knew you were sad, but we didn’t do anything about it. Nopony did...”

I blinked.

“A-Are you blaming yourselves for this?” I stuttered.

“We’re sorry, Berry.”

I pushed Fluttershy from me.

“I drink because I need to drink! I choose to! This is nopony’s fault but mine!”

They didn’t understand. They thought I drunk for fun or because I liked it once and got addicted. They didn’t know why I drunk; they didn’t know me.

“Then let us help you!” Fluttershy pleaded.

I shook my head.

In truth, I had never realized why I drunk. I had never vocalized it in a way that made sense. But now, hearing it this way, I knew why. This lead me to realize that this was my way, my destiny through life, the path I would follow. It was a path of self-destruction, and nopony was going to save me because I didn’t want them to. I was going to drink myself to death, and I wanted to.

Something else dawned on me which just made me care even less. Fluttershy would never love me back. And even if she did, it would be a cruel thing to do to her; in the end she wouldn’t save me, and she’d blame her self. Then, who knows, she might even go down my route. That would be properly tragic. She was something beautiful... unlike me.

“I feel weak,” I said, more to the ceiling than anypony in particular. “I’m going to sleep.”

I heard a single, high-pitched sob from Fluttershy. The heart-and-lightning-bolt colt ushered them out, whispering something which I didn’t care about.


Apparently, I had had a minor heart-attack. Lightning-bolt colt, who I now knew to be called Clear, had shocked me back to life. I could see why they all looked so worried. Clear told me that my heart had stopped for a few seconds; technically I had died. Clear had also said that this was end of my drinking days, my heart and liver wouldn’t take another shock.

The next day, Fluttershy quietly clopped into my room looking pitifully torn up. Her mane wasn’t its usual bouncy, soft pink and her fur was ruffled and mussed. Her eyes had the red irritation of crying and she was rubbing them often. It made me feel horrible.

“Berry...” she began quietly. “I-I’m not sure if you remember, but before you passed out, you said something to me...”

At this point I had gotten past self-pity. I was sad for Fluttershy instead. She obviously wasn’t interested in me for love, but she probably knew that she was the only one in the world who could stop me.

“Forget I said it.”

Fluttershy looked at me desperately. She was grinding her hoof against the floor, but I didn’t think she was doing it consciously.

“Please let me try and help you...” she whimpered.

Part of me was screaming; I so desperately wanted to nod and let her hug me again, to feel her soft, warm coat against me and to smell her scent. But the other side of me, that side which was always detached and watching, knew that it was wrong. She would be forced to pretend to love me, because that was who she was. She was Fluttershy, the deity of kindness. Her desire to help came before all else and to help me, that was what she had to do. And I knew she would gladly make the sacrifice of pretending to love me on her part. But then, that wasn’t love.

“You’ve got to let me try!” she squeaked.

“Fluttershy—”

“No! Listen to me! You’re...” She struggled to form her thought. “Drinking lets you escape facing your past, but it’s also destroying your present! You’ve got to stop!”

I blinked.

“It’s not too late! Your heart can’t take any more!” she pleaded.

Her words hit me like punches. I... hadn’t realized...

Feelings I hadn’t felt for a long time rushed back to me. I felt a sharp pain inside my chest and I could feel tears coming.

“Get out,” I croaked. “Out!”

I buried my head under the sheets and shivered.


“But Berry!” Shots squeaked in horror, “You’ve drunk again!”

Berry Punch looked up at the barmare from the table, her eyes glistening. It was her turn to do the comforting now, and she did it admirably.

“It’s okay,” she smiled behind tears. “I want to.”

“No! I’m calling somepony!” Shots cried.

Berry Punch let the drowsiness take her now, smiling at the wonderful, tingling and numb sensation which had spread across her entire body. The only sound she could hear was her heart, beating without rhythm as the bar became darker and darker. She saw Shots looking into her eyes; crying and speaking, but she couldn’t hear. She was leaving.


“I guess I get to meet my sister again.”


Title and lyrics inspired by James Blake’s rendition of ‘A Case of You’, by Joni Mitchell.

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