• Member Since 31st Aug, 2018
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Ghost Mike


Hardcore animation enthusiast chilling away in this dimension and unbothered by his non-corporeal form. Also likes pastel cartoon ponies. They do that to people. And ghosts.

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In the wake of a distressing experience, Spike has been helping out around Ponyville. He doesn't have to, but he feels he needs to. And while not every day has gone great, most have. Already he's feeling better about… what happened.

The last pony on the schedule, Berry Punch, isn't someone he knows much beyond being the town's premier fruit drinks vendor. He certainly isn't quite prepared for her… particular brand of eccentricity.

A different tack may be needed to make this productive.


This story was written as a gift for Winter_Solstice as a part of Jinglemas 2022. Happy Hearth's Warming!


Hit the FIMFiction Featured Box on Dec 27th/28th 2022!
Featured on Equestria Daily, December 11th 2023, and previously on January 16th 2023 for 25 More Fanfics to Read for Dragon Day.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 11 )

I can just see Spike and Big Mac working on a prolonged homebrew campaign.

The Chimera of Taxbridge.:moustache:

“Uh, sure,” Spike said, taking the broom, doing his best to not let his expression droop. Already, on instinct, his focus honed in on a dusty corner, though he couldn’t quite convince himself he was as okay with this as he outwardly projected. This was by no means the first time he’d been dismissed to regular household chores, but given one key reason for doing this was that he didn’t want to feel like a burden to anypony, he couldn’t pretend it didn’t sting a bit.

Starting to feel like Spike At Your Service huh

Spike opened his mouth to answer, raising a finger… then paused. “I… I dunno.” He scratched his head, thinking. He’d spotted an opening for a solution both to her problem and to his, he hadn’t stopped to consider where the knowledge came from. “I guess I picked it up when Twilight was going on about the benefits of getting new library books at the bookstore here rather than ordering from Canterlot.”

He's a smart kid

With a bright grin at his success, Spike plonked himself down on the second floor cushion. “You bet! As Zapp of the Power Ponies says, ‘Thunderpegasi are go!’” Reaching out, he pulled the abacus closer, now where they could both use it. “Let’s get to work!”

Or should I say It's morphin time if anybody knows the reference 😅

“Rarity, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie are the tribal leaders, while Twilight, Fluttershy and Applejack are their helpers.” Stowing the tankards away, Spike went back to the counter, where Berry had just gulped down the last water. “I’m the narrator.”

Oh hey that is the episode of Hearts warming eve I remember that one that was a pretty good Christmas episode

“But… Getting treats is what started all this.” Off Berry’s raised eyebrow, Spike rubbed his head awkwardly, wondering if he should even admit more. This time, his brain won out over his gut. “Twilight and my friends gave me gifts for my birthday, and I felt really good about it. I know I shouldn’t have, but I kept pushing a bit further for more, and that… triggered some kind of hoarding instinct.” Blushing harder than the Pinot, Spike curled up. Saying what had happened out loud brought it back to the surface in a way he’d suppressed for several weeks.

Oh yeah back in season 2 the dragon growth thing at least that's what smolder called it he still felt bad after that event I mean I don't blame the kid to feel that way

“Course, Spike.” Twilight sat down by the hearth, beckoning him in with a light jerk of her head. “Of course I’ll try.”

And you did the same thing in season 5 a book

Aww this was a pretty nice story so everything is happening during season 2 and today is heartwarming Eve but Spike wanted to help other ponies after the event when he grew big and he helped out Berry Punch and she was pretty surprised how smart he is with these receipts and taxes and even helping out with the recipes that she's making he also admitted to her that he wanted to do something more for other ponies but it was nice of her to give him some lessons and even encouragement and I like that that's really nice and it helped his confidence a lot and when he returned to Twilight's Library he felt a lot better and it looks like they're going to rehearse the play when they get to Canterlot I got to say this is a pretty nice story and Spike is a cool guy keep up the good work and Merry Christmas

This was fantastic!

It was a very slow burn, in that I wasn't sure at first what was happening. I could tell there was some sort of tension with Spike, but it wasn't clear at first, so I kept reading...

Then, I soon reached the 'Aha!' moment...

One of the fun things about being a writer, especially a writer of fanfiction, is we get to assign personalities to background characters who have little to no screen time. Sometimes, even the makers of the show have taken note and adapted fans' interpretations to such characters, but Berry Punch has been one of those ponies who has been sadly overlooked. I have seen her portrayed as everything from a sloppy drunk to a secret ninja, (if you can believe that one!) yet this is the first time I've seen her pictured as a competent business owner, who is also compassionate. Yet not without a few faults of her own, as any good heroine would be.

Spike's turmoil, while based upon a cartoon, fantasy event, was still very much a real problem, with real-world implications. It made me sad that he was still feeling guilt over what he'd done, but it is my hope that he'd found a solution by this time. Added to that ennui is the uncertainty of his actual age: if he's still considered a child, then just how responsible was he for his actions, and just how guilty should the ponies (especially Twilight, who knows him better than any other) allow him to feel?

Thank you, thank you, for this gift! Obviously, this is going into my Favorites folder, as well as getting posted to all the Groups in which I Admin.

Merry Christmas!

[Edit] Oh! Almost forgot this! I rate this 5/5 moostaches! You earned them: :moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache:

11461445
Wow, thank you very much for the kind words! I honestly wasn't sure how you might take to this, given your request and highlighting the rather different It Spills Over as one of your favourite fics here. So hearing that you adored it, well, it just warms my heart.

Course, I'm sure getting a 6,000 word-plus jumbo Jinglemas fic didn't hurt. :raritywink:

It was a very slow burn, in that I wasn't sure at first what was happening. I could tell there was some sort of tension with Spike, but it wasn't clear at first, so I kept reading...

Oh? It actually wasn't intended to be a mystery that this was a follow-up to Secret of My Excess. I phrased it to imply that without stating it outright, granted, but figured, between neither knowing the other much before the story, that it would come across long before it was directly referred to. Given Spike trying to brush past the reasoning to himself necessitated being cryptic about it, it would be anti-climatic for much of the story were I to state it in the long description, so I left it as written. Huh. Not sure how to feel about it not sinking in, especially if it turned the lighter incident of the first half into a waiting game that sucked any of the fun frothiness (or exuberance, given Berry Punch) out of it.

Sometimes, even the makers of the show have taken note and adapted fans' interpretations to such characters, but Berry Punch has been one of those ponies who has been sadly overlooked.

Well, Slice of Life was a very jammed episode, wasn't it? You might be interested to know that, in among all the interview-disclosed known cuts (of which the weirdest has to be a scene over a page long of Golden Harvest/Carrot Top planning revenge on Rarity for the green mane comment in Boast Busters that made her switch to an orange mane – yes, really), from reading the episode script, I can Berry Punch had one line. At the wedding at the end, right before the ceremony starts, Berry Punch (named her more common official name of Berryshine) rolls in a cask, saying "Told you I'd take care of you, Matilda! Plenty of punch for the reception!" The crowd cheers a la It's a Wonderful Life, Matilda says thanks, the crowd settled down, and we get the Mayor confirming eery pony is there and Derpy accidentally locking the Mane 6 out. Saddening to hear, I'm sure, but it was a tight script, a lot of trimming had to be made to get it in.

In typing this, I got curious as to Berry Punch's actual voice in the show, so I looked up that her first speaking appearance was in "It Isn't the Mane thing About You", and… whoa, did not expect that deep a voice. Granted, the script only said "Eager Pony", so similar to how Bon Bon's voice changed every time she spoke in earlier seasons, it was a case of just picking a background pony model for the incidental voice used in recording. Ditto for the circumstances for her line in "The Ending of the End - Part 2", though that voice is fine, I guess, if a little bland and nondescript.

I have seen her portrayed as everything from a sloppy drunk to a secret ninja, (if you can believe that one!)

Given this fandom, I absolutely can. :duck:

yet this is the first time I've seen her pictured as a competent business owner, who is also compassionate. Yet not without a few faults of her own, as any good heroine would be.

As you may have seen in my Author's Notes blog, deciding on the characterisation approach for Berry Punch was a massive headache, even after I correctly deduced I couldn't write her usual "town drunk" depiction. I was certainly leaning more trying for the wise knowing bartender type who is almost omnipresent, a la GapJaxie's The Perfect Drink, but I couldn't think of a story to spin out of that which didn't place all of the character development/arc/growth/insight on Spike's end, and I didn't want that, because it would force me into clichés on Spike's role I was keen on avoiding (Spike is my 2nd favourite FiM character after Applejack, I'm very protective of him and keen to do proper balanced depictions of him). So I decided to lean in that direction, but make her not all-knowing (hence being only okay at accounts) and, as you say, compassionate.

When I go for background ponies or those with minimal in-show characterisation, I do also at least look up what official lore exists, and for Berry Punch, she had a trading card description that said, "Some ponies say she's a little overprotective of her loved ones, but hanging out with Berry Punch is always a good time! She sells a wide variety of drinks made from berries and other fruit, and thanks to her love for her own recipes, Berry frequently slurps down all the profits. She's very close to Minuette and likes to engage in a little friendly competition, like helping with the Running of the Leaves and winning the Sisterhooves Social!" So chunks of that which I liked and felt I could work with formed a basis here. Namely her competitive nature, being the town's premier fruit drinks mixer/vendor, standing to save more of her profits, and a compassionate nature that can come out at the right moments. And her over-exuberance, of course. :raritywink:

It made me sad that he was still feeling guilt over what he'd done, but it is my hope that he'd found a solution by this time.

Once I decided to use that event in Secret of My Excess as a basis, I was keen on not repeating fics that had covered the fallout from it, and better. Setting it some time after let me imply that Spike had honestly gotten the pick-me-up he needed from his friends. He's 100% honest when he says his friends got him to feel better about it (basically, the reader can plug in their headcanon for the heart-to-heart they would have had, or pick a fanfiction they feel depicted it well). The intention is that him wanting to help everypony out is less because guilt, and more down to wanting to get the last lingering recollections out before the holidays, and be sure nopony holds any ill will. Another implication is that this incident instills an "Am I a pony or a dragon?" doubt that doesn't fully manifest until Dragon Quest, at which point it is solved, and this taking place in between the two, well, make for a different middle ground. But I decided to leave that purely to subtle implications that don't affect the reading experience if missed.

Added to that ennui is the uncertainty of his actual age: if he's still considered a child, then just how responsible was he for his actions, and just how guilty should the ponies (especially Twilight, who knows him better than any other) allow him to feel?

Aye, that is the lingering question, isn't it? He's such a unique case, not just for being a dragon raised by ponies, but growing up as assistant to a powerful unicorn who wasn't the most social pony. Ignoring contradictory examples in the show, him being a kid's who quite mature in some ways and able to/allowed to do many things some kids wouldn't is the best starting point. That said, as noted above, I am implying that Spike had to convince Twilight he was okay with what happened before she'd let him do this. The last scene in the story was a late addition, but one I felt necessary for wrapping up threads and providing a more stable relationship for the pair going forward, showing that Twilight's starting to realise she needs to be more direct, open and nurturing in how she raises Spike.

Thank you, thank you, for this gift! Obviously, this is going into my Favorites folder, as well as getting posted to all the Groups in which I Admin.

Oh, you're far too kind! I was really worried about how this story would turn out, much less how you might take it, so that's really flattering. I'm blushing so hard here my spectral body's going transparent! :twilightblush:

That was a good story.

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