• Published 30th Jun 2015
  • 1,531 Views, 29 Comments

Results May Vary - CoffeeMinion

Derpy and Berry Punch are coerced into starting a single-moms group.

  • ...

Well-Intentioned Meddling

Derpy did her best to keep both eyes focused as she soared high over Ponyville. Colorful ponies milled to and fro among a quilt-like pattern of green grass, grey roads, and tiny-looking buildings.

Derpy frowned. The Silver Stirrup was over on the same side of town as Sweet Apple Acres. She hadn't been anywhere near the farm in longer than she cared to remember, and not just because it was covered by somepony else's mail route.

A gust of hot summer wind tickled her wings before pushing her into a roll. Bright sunlight washed over her face as she went upside-down, and a brief sense of disorientation caused her to misjudge which way was up. She came out of the roll just a few feet above city hall, and she had to beat her wings furiously to keep a downdraft from slamming her into it.

Ponies often asked her why she flew so high when she was just flying across town. Of course, they were often the same ponies who used to get mad at her when she’d fly too low and crash into things.

She spotted the bar a few minutes later. It was a long, low building finished in dark wood, perched in a patch of bare earth behind a pleasant row of shops. Ponies could walk right by and not even notice it, which likely influenced the decision to let somepony build it there.

Derpy caught sight of a light-purple unicorn standing near the door as she began her descent. She also noticed several carts parked in a small lot next to the bar, and frowned at the realization that one of them was from FPS. Maybe it would be good that Sparkler had turned up to help get things going, but Derpy was still just annoyed about being dragged away from her home.

“Hi Derpy,” Sparkler said as the pegasus touched-down. “Thanks for coming.”

Derpy paused to preen a feather that felt out of place. “Did I really have a choice?”

“Of course. The group is supposed to be a good thing. You haven't done anything wrong...”

Derpy scowled. “Then why did you have a Foal Protective Services cart pull up outside my house? Don't you know most ponies already think I can't take care of myself, much less Dinky? What do you think the neighbors are going to be talking about for the next… like, forever?”

Sparkler facehooved. “Look, I'm sorry. I'll… find a way to make this right. It's just been impossible to get Berry Punch to agree to meet like this.” Her face took on a toothy, nasty grin. “That is, until we got her over a barrel this morning.”

“What do you mean?”

“It took a little detective work,” Sparkler said, looking proud of herself. “But we finally figured out that Cheerilee goes out on her own for a while on Sunday mornings. And of course, everypony knows that Berry Punch goes out and overdoes it on Saturday nights.” She reared up for a moment and clopped her forehooves together. “And just like that, you've got a little filly who's home alone with somepony who can't take care of her. It's an open-and-shut case for FPS.”

Derpy cocked her head. “I thought you worked for the adoption home, not FPS.”

“I do. It's just that Ponyville could use more coordination between its social services. My correspondence classes talked a lot about the system they have in Canterlot...”

“This isn't Canterlot,” Derpy interrupted. “And if Berry is in that much trouble with FPS, why don't they just take Pinchy away from her and be done with it?”

Sparkler's face fell. “Derpy, I started working at the adoption home because I wanted to see foals united with families, not taken away from them. I still think Berry can take care of Pinchy; I just think she needs some support to realize that for herself.”

Derpy frowned. “Well, doesn't Cheerilee support her?”

“Cheerilee enables her,” the unicorn said in hushed tones. “Berry's never been independent. As soon as big-sis Cheerilee was old enough to get her own place, Berry tagged along.” She paused and shook her head. “Their family has quite the file in FPS' archives.”

Derpy glanced over at the bar's rough wooden door. “I'm not qualified to fix those kinds of issues.”

“I don't need you to fix anything. I'm trying to see if I can bring in a substance-abuse counselor from Canterlot to help with that. I just need the two of you to give this group an honest try.” Sparkler paused. “Believe it or not, Berry and Pinchy are going through some of the same things that you and Dinky are. You should have lots to talk about.”

Derpy pointed a hoof toward the FPS cart. “Really? Because it doesn't look that way from where I'm standing!”

“I know you're skeptical, but please, give this a chance.”

Derpy's eyes lost focus as she came to the real problem gnawing at her.

“Sparkler… I don't go to bars anymore.”

The unicorn gave her a quizzical look. “Well, so what?”

“You don't understand. There was a time… a long time ago… when I did.”

Sparkler nodded, but she showed no signs of comprehension. “...And?”

Derpy sighed. “I had to stop drinking, Sparkler. And… that was really hard for me, at the time.”

Sparkler's eyes lit up as she finally realized what Derpy was saying.

“I swore I'd never set hoof in a bar again,” Derpy added. “I swore a lot of things, when I finally got myself straightened-out.”

“This didn't come up in the background check before you adopted Dinky,” Sparkler said, almost to herself.

“That's because… this whole thing… didn't last very long. And… I didn't do anything when I was drunk. And it was a really long time ago.” She blushed. “And nopony caught me doing it.”

Sparkler's mouth worked soundlessly for a few moments as she assembled her thoughts.

“Well… why did you start drinking?”

Derpy turned a glance somewhere in the direction of Sweet Apple Acres. “Let's just say, I had my reasons.”