Pumpkin fumed as she left her room, calling Pound all sorts of unpleasant names in her head. How could he have said such a thing to Pinkie Pie, accusing her of not loving her family? Accusing her of abandoning them?
He knew perfectly well why she had left the rock farm. She hadn’t abandoned them, just said “See ya!” and never looked back. She wanted to spread joy and happiness to as many ponies as possible. At first she had considered being a traveling party planner, but she had liked Ponyville enough to stay there. Her family had been fine with the idea, so long as she was somewhere safe.
She climbed the stairs to Pinkie’s room, knocking on the door a few times, but got no response. “Auntie Pinkie, it’s me!” Pumpkin called out. She tried the door, but it was locked. She put her ear to the door and listened. She thought she might have heard crying, but it was soft enough she couldn’t tell for sure.
She gave it another go, but after a few minutes it became clear Pinkie wanted to be left alone. She sighed, her heart heavy as she went to the ground floor, sitting at the bottom of the stairs. Things were such a mess lately.
Dinner was a tense affair. Pound had come down to the table, but Pinkie hadn’t. Pumpkin told them not to expect Pinkie to come down, but that was it. She hadn’t felt like telling her parents what Pound had said. Not to protect him, of course, but just because she didn’t want to believe he had actually said what he did. She found herself in the same position as Pound. He knew he had hurt Pinkie, and she felt that he deserved to feel bad for it, exactly what he said about her for what she said.
The silence between the two children was deafening, and their parent’s attempts to get them to talk were wasted. Neither one of them wanted to say anything at all.
Cup and Carrot noticed the expressions on their children were reversed from the day before. Now Pumpkin looked furious and Pound upset, so it seemed their feud had hit a new development. Like Pinkie, they were eager to just see it end already.
After dinner Pound went back upstairs, and Pumpkin helped with the dishes, giving them a prime opportunity to see what had happened. Cup could talk with Pumpkin, while Carrot went up to talk to Pound.
Her mother gave conversation another go. “What happened, Pumpkin? Something is clearly bothering you.”
Pumpkin let out a little groan. “Pound is a big jerk!” she replied.
Cup let out a sigh. “Still won’t let thing go, huh?”
Pumpkin had to restrain herself from slamming the plate she was washing onto the ground. “I don’t care anymore!” She set the plate down and knocked over a chair, needing to do something destructive.
“Hey!” Cup called out.
Pumpkin paced around, furious. “Bad enough he’s taking everything out on me, but now he’s being mean to Auntie Pinkie too because she tried standing up for me.”
“Oh, dear,” she replied. When her son got in one of his moods he was nearly impossible to reason with. She’d experienced his temper enough to know that. “What did-”
“I don’t wanna talk about what he said!” Pumpkin replied, stomping a hoof. “All you need to know is he’s a big jerk and he should be kicked out of the house!”
“That might be taking things a little too far.”
“Or not far enough. He should be locked up in jail forever!” Pumpkin’s face was turning red.
Despite herself Cup snickered a bit. Pumpkin was definitely the more fair-tempered of the two, but it seemed she could give Pound a run for his money when provoked enough.
“I’m never going to forgive him for that! Never!” She punched a cabinet. “Auntie Pinkie has done so much for both of us, and he goes and treats her like THAT? I suppose next he’s going to start yelling at Fluttershy too.” Her horn sparked, and she once more felt a desire for destruction. The chair she had knocked over earlier got enveloped in her aura and she sent it flying into a wall.
“Pumpkin!” Cup said sternly, walking over to her panting daughter and picking her up, holding her close. “Settle down, please.” Her voice was soothing now. “This isn’t helping things.”
Pumpkin didn’t try to get out of her mother’s grip. “Nothing’s going to help things! Pound is a stubborn, heartless, insensitive idiot! And every time he gets like this all of us have to suffer while he just says whatever is on his stupid, stupid mind! He makes me sick!”
Before Cup could respond Pumpkin continued in a shout, “HE ACCUSED AUNTIE PINKIE OF ABANDONING HER FAMILY TO LIVE WITH US! He KNOWS how much Auntie Pinkie values love and family. How could he say that to her, after everything she’s done for us?” Pumpkin’s tense body loosened up a bit as tears came down her eyes. “It’s not right,” she said, diminished.
Cup held her closer, disappointed at Pound’s utter lack of tact. She didn’t agree with the harshness of Pumpkin’s words, but she could certainly see where Pumpkin was coming from. When he didn’t have an outlet for his feelings Pound could be cruel. It was no wonder Pumpkin was so angry, but going by Pound’s face during dinner he seemed to realize he had been out of line. She hoped Carrot would have luck getting through to him.
Upstairs, Pinkie was just sitting up. She felt disappointed in herself for getting so emotional over things. If it had only been her own feelings at stake it wouldn’t be so bad, but she had made a promise to Pumpkin she would do whatever she could to help the twins make up. She had gotten sidetracked by Pound’s hurtful remarks and things became about her. She ran a hoof through her mane, wondering what was going on with the two of them.
She wanted to give talking with Pound another shot. If Pumpkin wasn’t around he would be less likely to explode, and he had already been apologetic before she had left.
Her hoof traveled to her face, blocking out the light. Depending on how angry Pumpkin was she might not want to be forgiving even if Pound was ready to. She really couldn’t stand to see a fight between them going on this long.
Standing up she headed for her door.
Carrot knocked on Pound’s door, opening it after a few seconds. “Hey there, slugger,” he said gently. “Can we talk?”
Pound was staring down blankly down at his bed, holding back tears, and gave no indication he had heard.
Carrot walked in, closing the door halfway before sitting on the edge of the bed. “Come on, Pound. Talk to me. Something happened between you and Pumpkin.”
Pound buried his head in his hooves, tears dripping down them onto the blanket. “Don’t bother talking to me,” he muttered. “I’ll just hurt you next. I’m a horrible kid.”
“Nonsense,” Carrot replied, pulling the resisting Pound onto his lap and hugging him close. “What’s horrible about you?”
“EVERYTHING!” he yelled, gently sobbing. “I said the worst possible thing to Auntie Pinkie and she’s been up in her room since. She probably hates me, and I deserve it!”
Carrot rubbed Pound’s back. “You said something that you regret, but you forget something important.”
“Like what?” he asked despondently.
“Do you remember your entry in the friendship journal Twilight had? What was the lesson you learned that you wanted to share?” Pound slowly looked up, tears still streaming down his cheeks. “Everyone makes errors, sometimes really big ones, but so long as you feel bad about it you’re NOT a bad pony. You’re a good pony that just made a mistake.”
Pound’s body clenched hard, and he shook his head. “NO!” he protested. “It doesn’t matter how bad I feel. Anyone who makes Auntie Pinkie cry and hurt like that is a horrible, terrible pony, and nobody should ever love them!” He buried his head in his dad’s chest, sobbing louder.
The door opened wider, and Carrot turned to look. He was relieved to see Pinkie standing there, a fire in her eyes.
Pound was barely conscious of being lifted up, but the voice certainly got his attention. “I disagree, Pound.”
His head jerked up, seeing Auntie Pinkie there, and he turned his head away in shame.
Pinkie hugged him strongly. “I was hurt by your words, I’ll admit, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’ll always love you from the bottom of my heart. That’s a Pinkie Promise for life.”
Pound’s face clenched up again, trying to pull out of her comforting hold, not wanting her love and forgiveness when he felt so bad inside, but she wouldn’t let him go.
“I love you, Pound,” she said again. “I love you, and nothing you do could ever change that. You understand, young colt?”
Pound looked into her eyes, his mouth trembling before he cried out, “I’m sooooorrryy!” His emotions overflowed as he began full-on sobbing, finally hugging her back.
A slight smile came to Pinkie’s face. If she got nothing else out of this night at least she knew that she was on good terms with Pound again.
After about ten minutes, when Pound had settled down, Pinkie sat down on the bed, wiping his tears away. “I think we need to talk, Pound.”
Pound nodded. “I… I know. I really didn’t mean what I said. I know you’ve been taking care of me and Pumpkin since we were born, and you’ve always been a great aunt to both of us.”
Pinkie gave his head a pat. “Glad to hear it, but that’s not what I’m talking about.”
Pound sighed. “I guess I know that too. While you and Pumpkin were out yesterday Mom and Dad talked to me about this, like, friendship bridge thing?”
Pinkie’s eyes went to Carrot for a moment, curious. They went back to Pound. “And what is that?”
“Well, Mom said that when there’s a problem the bridge breaks, and both ponies have to work together to fix it. They said for now all they wanted was for me to stop running out the room whenever Pumpkin was in it. Mom praised me for it, so I was happy with it too.”
Pound pushed away a strand of hair. “But then you came in and were like ‘just get over it already and forgive her.’ It made me upset, so that’s why I… I said what I did.”
Tears began forming in the colt’s eyes again, making Pinkie give him another hug. “Oh, Pound. That’s not what I was trying to get across at all. I just wanted to talk, like we’re doing now. I missed the days when we could all be happy together as a family.”
Pound slowly hugged her back, closing his eyes.
“Pound,” Carrot said seriously, “I think it’s time we got to the real issue here. This is about more than Pinkie or even Pumpkin. This is really about school and bullies.”
Pound tensed, his eyes opening a smidge. “My classmates are jerks!” he said nastily. “Just because they have a little bit of talent they think they can say whatever they want and get away with it. I’m just an easy target since I’m the worst of the group.”
“Well, at least you understand that. Have you tried talking to your teachers about your classmates?”
“I can never PROVE anything! Hmph! They’re sneaky. They always say things under their breath, or when the teacher is too far away to hear.” He pulled out of Pinkie’s grip and got down on the floor. “I HATE school!” he said, stomping his hoof. “I thought it was supposed to be fun, but now I can’t wait to just get home every day.”
Pinkie looked concerned. “It’s that bad?”
Pound had to restrain himself from insulting her. He didn’t want to do that again. “If it wasn’t this bad do you think it would bother me this much? School SUCKS! I hate it! I’m not going back! Never!” His stubborn anger was returning in full measure.
“Pound,” Carrot started, but he was cut off.
“I’m… not… going!” he said darkly, taking a stomp toward his dad with each word. “And if you try to force me…” Pound seemed to struggle for a moment with what exactly he would do, his raw anger coming off as mere bravado now. “… I… I’ll… I’ll run away again!” he finished, panting a little.
“Pound!” Pinkie cried out, her eyes going wide. "Don't say that!"
“I mean it!” he said, now sounding pitiful, crying again. “I’ll run away, and I’ll never come back. I’ll live under a bridge and get my meals out of garbage cans. I don’t care! But I’m not going back to that terrible place with those terrible kids, and you can’t make me! I’d rather get my wings chopped off and just be an earth pony than go back to school!”
He hugged himself as he gasped for breath, a wreck once more as he heard his classmates, their nasty, mocking words echoing in his mind.
Carrot and Pinkie were both struggling with the right thing to say. For the moment there really was nothing they COULD say that wouldn’t feel hollow.
Carrot stood, walking over and picking up his son, quietly crying as he held Pound close. Pinkie stood on his other side, hugging him as well. All three of them ached inside, holding onto one another for support.