Pound and Pumpkin Tales 1

by Never2muchpinkie


19-19: A true friend.

Masky woke up feeling well-rested. He felt a weight around him, and opened his eyes. Mayhem was snoring in front of him, holding onto him.

He gently pulled himself from his grip, and sat up. He saw he was still in Fluttershy’s room, sitting on her bed. He didn’t see Fluttershy, though. He headed downstairs and looked around. He saw the way she accommodated so many animals into her life. He found it fitting for the Element of Kindness that she would be an animal caretaker.

He finally found her outside, humming as she watered her flowers. “Hi, Fluttershy,” he said brightly.

She turned to him, setting down her watering can. “Hello there, Masky. How are you feeling?”

“Definitely better,” he replied. “I needed the rest.

“How long have I been asleep?”

“Oh, about five hours. I tried to wait for you, but after about an hour I put both of you in bed.”

“That’s okay.” He trotted over to her and gave her a big hug. “Thank you, Fluttershy! For listening to me and holding me. It was just what I needed.”

She put a leg around him and kissed him on the forehead. “You’re welcome. I was happy to help.”

“School will be letting out soon…”

“Yes. And?”

“And… and I want to talk with Pumpkin and apologize for hurting her.”

“I think that would be best. You can’t just avoid school for the next month. And if you can’t stay in Ponyville it doesn’t do to end on a bad note. You don’t want to leave with regrets.”

“Right.”

Releasing him she said, “Wait here for a minute. I’ll take you over to Sugarcube Corner, but I have to let Mayhem know so he won’t worry if he wakes up.”

“Okay.”

While she was gone he looked around at all the animals. He walked up to a bunny and rubbed its head. It jumped up his leg, arriving on his head. He chuckled.

He thought that maybe a pet was what he needed if he couldn’t work things out with his parents. The twins had their own pets.

Using his magic he picked up the watering can Fluttershy had set down and continued where she left off.

A minute later Fluttershy came out, Mayhem on her back. He had his arms wrapped around her neck, his eyes closed.

“Well, we have a guest with us,” Fluttershy said. “He’s still sleepy, but he didn’t want to be left alone.” She snickered as she noticed the bunny on his head. “It seems you’ve got a guest too.”

“Yeah, but I don’t think they should come with us.”

“Agreed. Come on, Thumper.”

Masky put one of his legs out so the bunny had a ramp to walk down.

Thumper bounded over to Fluttershy and nuzzled her before going on his way.

As they headed toward Sugarcube Corner Masky said, “So you really like animals, huh?”

“Oh, yes,” she replied. “Caring for them brings me great joy. I can understand their language, so communicating with them is easy. And they can see that I care for them as well, so they congregate around me.”

“I was thinking of asking you if I could adopt a pet.”

Fluttershy looked ecstatic. “Oh, that would be wonderful! A pet might be just what you need to brighten your mood.”

“I’d have to ask my parents first.”

“Of course. Have you given any thought to what kind of pet you’d like?”

He shook his head. “No. The idea just came to me, after all.”

“Well, there’s no need to rush. I love it when my pets find a loving home.”

“What do you mean? You provide them with a loving home, right?”

“Yes, of course, but I have so many animals that I can’t give them the attention I want to. That’s why I was so happy when Pound took home Champ. He was a golden retriever that really needed more personalized attention that I just couldn’t provide.”

“Oh. That makes sense.”

They walked in silence for a few minutes. Masky took in the sights, thinking how nice Ponyville really was.

“Hey, Fluttershy?” he started as something came to him.

“Yes, Masky?” she replied.

“So, um, what’s the deal with Mayhem? Pound and Pumpkin told me about what happened, but isn’t it odd that Discord’s magic is alive?” He lifted up a nearby rock with his magic. “I mean, magic is just will and energy.” He dropped the rock. "It would be like if my hoof had a mind of its own."

“Well, this is Discord we’re talking about, so I didn’t find it too strange. I’ve never asked Discord how he came to be, whether he was created by someone else, or if a draconequus can reproduce like we ponies do, but I wouldn’t call Mayhem his child. For one, Mayhem’s existence is reliant on magic. If he uses up the magic that makes him up then he disappears until he’s fed more magic to maintain his shape. Discord, on the other hoof, was able to remain even after his magic was drained. So even with reality changing powers I don’t believe he has the power to create life.”

“So Mayhem is really just magic with a personality?”

“It seems that way. When we first met Discord he had a very childlike attitude, and seeing the way Mayhem acted even after Discord changed his ways it’s easy to see where Discord’s disregard of others feelings came from. He only thought of himself and what amused him, much like a kid your age would with that kind of power.

“As far as I know there’s only one draconequus, but if there are more out there somewhere they may all have an eternal child inside them to help spread chaos with.”

“Eternal child?”

“Even if you don’t count the time he was sealed away in stone he says he was centuries old. And yet Mayhem is still a child. I don’t know if he could theoretically grow up by learning and maturing like Discord, but he’s at least shown he’s capable of changing his actions, so it’s not like he’s prevented from changing himself. I’m just not sure if there’s a limit. This isn’t the sort of thing that happens everyday.”

“I guess not.”

 When Sugarcube Corner came into sight they saw they had perfect timing, as Pinkie, Pound, and Pumpkin were coming from the opposite side.

“Hello, there!” Fluttershy called out, making them turn to look.

“Hey, Fluttershy!” Pound called out.

“What’s u-” Pumpkin started, then stopped suddenly as she noticed Masky next to her. Her eyes narrowed to slits. “Oh, no! We are not doing this right now!”

“Come on, Pumpkin,” Pound whispered. “It had to happen sometime.” He certainly wasn’t a fan of Masky, but he knew that time with Fluttershy had done wonders for him before in improving his attitude. And he still felt partially responsible for the way things had spiraled out of control the previous day. “Just give it a chance.”

“Why should I give him a chance?” she snapped back. “So he can lie some more?”

“Look, I don’t expect you to be friends but if you don’t settle things here you might flip out at school and get kicked out for good. I don’t want to see that.”

Pinkie rubbed Pumpkin’s head. “I agree with your brother. You don’t have to be friends with him but it would be beneficial if you didn’t part as enemies.”

“Hmph!” Pumpkin snorted. “So both of you are against me, huh?”

“You know that’s not true, Pumpkin. This isn’t about taking sides. It’s about trying to make everything work out the best.”

“And what’s best is if there’s no more fighting,” added Pound.

Pumpkin rolled her eyes. “Whatever.” She started walking toward a nearby tree, lifting up Masky in her aura. “Let’s go, then.”

She went around the tree and out of sight, taking Masky with her. “Just stay out of our business, okay?” she said sarcastically. “After all, you trust me, don’t you?”

Pinkie, Fluttershy, and Pound closed the distance between them. “Are you sure this is alright?” asked Pound.

“I don’t know,” Pinkie responded. “I’m not sure how Pumpkin is going to act, but her feelings aren’t nearly as raw today so hopefully she’ll be able to control herself.”

“How come you were with Masky?” asked Pound.

She started explaining the situation to them as Pumpkin roughly set Masky on the ground next to her.

Masky rubbed his flank to sooth it.

Pumpkin sat with her back against the tree, not looking at him. “So go on,” she said indifferently. “What story are you going to feed me today? Don’t tell me. It was actually your evil twin that had been fooling me. Or you were being mind-controlled. Come on. Make it entertaining, as least.”

Masky sighed. “I don’t want to make up any more stories. I’m tired of them.”

Pumpkin let out a scoffing noise.

“I did deceive you and took advantage of your feelings. I admit it. I was wrong.”

“Oh, really? And why do you care today? Because you didn’t want me to beat you to a pulp again another day? I don’t think you’re actually sorry for what you did. You’re just upset because you got caught in a lie and had to pay the consequences.”

He shook his head. “No. It’s not like that.”

“Then what is it like?”

“Well, do you think it would have been better if I just straight up told you I didn’t love you back?”

Pumpkin’s frown grew deeper, but she didn’t answer.

“I was trying to spare your feelings. Like I told your brother I knew I was going to be leaving again sooner or later, so if I just played along until then you wouldn’t have anything to blame yourself for. It would be my parents fault, or their job’s fault, but certainly not your fault.”

A tear came down Pumpkin’s eye. “That’s right. You’re always traveling. So our relationship was doomed from the start, even if you did love me back. Now that you brought that up that just makes me dislike you even more! You KNEW we couldn’t be together no matter what, and you still wasted my time pretending we could be.

“I think you should go,” Pumpkin said dismissively. “You’ve hurt me enough.”

There was a silence between them for about ten seconds before she saw movement out of the corner of her eye, and then she was seeing stars as he smacked her hard in the back of her head.

Pumpkin jerked forward, letting out a cry of pain as she rubbed her head.

“Just shut up!” Masky said angrily. “I’m sick of your whining.”

She turned toward him, her cheeks turning red with anger. She had never wanted to hurt someone as badly as she wanted to right then. The one and only thing that stopped her from using her levitation to throw him halfway across the area was her promise to Pound about not misusing her magic.

“What do you know about pain?” the colt continued. “You don’t know just how bad my life really is!”

 “AND WHOSE FAULT IS THAT?” she roared, shoving him. “YOU’RE the one who’s been lying to me from the start.”

“WHAT CHOICE DID I HAVE?” he yelled back.

“What choice? Telling the truth. THAT’S what you could have done!”

“Oh, wah, wah, your pain. Give me a break.”

Pound tapped his hoof restlessly. He didn’t think they would make up without some yelling, but it still took all he had not to run in and break things up.

Pinkie rubbed his head. “I know what you’re feeling, Pound, but for now we just have to let them vent. If it seems like things are spiraling out of control me and Fluttershy will step in.”

“So… is this it?” Pumpkin asked emotionlessly. “Have you finally taken the mask off? Is this the real you now? I guess you’ve just been a jerk  all along.”

“There’s no point in pretending anymore. I’m far too angry for that.”

“Angry? You? Mr. I don’t care because I’m so cool? What do you have to be angry about? You didn’t care about me in the first place. But I cared about you. I really loved you.” Her anger began to be overtaken by sadness. “And then you broke my heart.”

Masky’s eyes narrowed, and then he slapped her again, this time in the face. “SHUT UP!”

She put a hoof to her face, ready to take him down. Not only had he hurt her emotionally and mentally, now he was attacking her physically.

He grabbed her hoof as she raised it to strike him back. “I have no pity for you!” he said nastily. “While you were off crying and being upset you were surrounded by ponies that could help take your pain away. You have an aunt, an overprotective brother, a mom and dad who have time for you, and you’re personal friends with the princess of Ponyville. You had plenty of ponies you could run to that could hold you while you cried, so don’t try and whine to me about how terrible what I did was.”

Pushing her hooves down he got right in her face, his expression a little scary. She could see rage and disgust in his eyes, and for once she didn’t think he was pretending. “You… you just had to tell me about the draconequus, didn’t you? Had to introduce me to him. After I had accepted that there was nothing I could do about my situation, after feeling like I was just to be carried along by fate without any way out, you gave me a glimpse of a hope that I could use that power to change my circumstances. Made me feel like I could have parents who are there for me when I come home, or friends who I wouldn’t have to say goodbye to and really get to know.” Tears formed in his eyes, though his wrathful expression didn’t diminish. “And I… DESPISE you for that far more than you could ever hate me for playing you.”

Pumpkin wasn’t sure how to respond. She was feeling afraid of him. The sheer venom in his voice and his glare made her afraid to move.

He released her, trembling. He lifted a hoof, and then swung.

Pumpkin went to duck, but his hoof went over her, and he hit the tree with a ferocious growl before sinking to the ground, his expression growing curiously blank.

In a defeated voice he said, “Yesterday, when I realized that my life had a chance of improving, I couldn’t hold back from crying my eyes out. But unlike special, magical you, I didn’t have anyone to hold ME when I cried. I was all alone, just like I’ve always been.

“And today I had to go to Fluttershy to get advice and comfort, jobs that my parents should have been doing. How do you think that feels, knowing that someone else did a better job of parenting me than the ponies that created me?

 “You weren’t the first friend I’ve had. There have been others.” Tears dripped down his eyes. “And every time we had to separate I felt like I lost a part of myself. I would miss them for a time, but then we’d be in a new place, and we’d always start out with something really fun that allowed me to take my mind off them. Eventually I got to the point that I couldn’t take it anymore, and I just stopped allowing myself to care.”

He laughed, an odd laugh that sounded familiar to her ears. “Well… how does it feel knowing such a pathetic loser? How does it feel to meet the real me? Does it turn your stomach?” He grinned, but the smile didn’t touch his eyes. “Do I disgust you?” He laughed again.

Pumpkin went through her memories. Something about his face and the way he was laughing… she was sure she’d experienced it before. But not from him. It was… it was…

“It’s easy now, right?” “Come on. Punish me. I dare you.” “Thank you! I knew I was right! Ha ha ha ha!”

“Pound,” she murmured. When Pound had forgotten how to trust and love he reacted much like that. That twisted laugh, masking the pain he felt inside. The arrogant smile, acting like he didn’t care.

And then there were his words about how Fluttershy had done what his parents didn’t. That was familiar too, because Pound had called their parents out for that after they had run away.

‘You’re our parents. You’re supposed to love us the most. And Pinkie has always been there before for us even when we messed up, but not this time. Why was SHE more understanding and loving to us than our own family? How come? Huh? Why?’

She hadn’t been sure whether he was being truthful, but now she thought that he was being genuine. Understanding him helped diminish the pain of what he had done to her. Masky was lost and unsure of what to do, just like Pound had been.

She wasn’t quite ready to forgive him for his deception, but she could empathize with his situation.

She reached out and pulled him up, sympathetic tears coming down her face. “What do I think of seeing the real you? I like him a lot.” She hugged him close. “I like him better than who you were pretending to be. I don’t want a fake friend.”

He started to hug her back, but then pulled away from her. “Stop it,” he said, his voice quivering. There was a pained expression on his face. “I can’t do it.”

“Why not?”

“You know why! I don’t love you, Pumpkin, but I do like you. But what’s the point of getting attached? A short time from now all I’ll have of you is memories.” He let out a sob, hugging himself. “It’s all I’m ever left with. I'm tired of saying goodbye!”

Pumpkin was stymied. Wasn’t there anything she could do? He had mentioned wanting Discord’s power to fix the circumstances in his life, but was it her place to change things in that manner? As Pound had said messing with the natural order of the world and breaking the rules usually led to trouble. If only… if only there was a way for them to stay in contact after he left.

“Oh!” Pumpkin said, her eyes brightening. “I’ve got it.” She took off her saddlebag, and rummaged around in it until she took out a notebook with a picture of a pumpkin cake on the front and back cover. “Here!”

“What’s got you so happy?” he asked.

She put the book on his lap.

He looked at it questioningly. “And how is this supposed to help me?”

“Just open it, doofus.”

He did, and read two pages. The words were nothing that interesting in themselves, but he noticed that the writing style changed drastically every few paragraphs, and there was a back and forth conversation going on.

Setting the book down he asked, “And what is this supposed to do for me, you having a conversation with your imaginary friend? I thought I was bad, but I haven’t started writing to myself yet.”

Pumpkin just stared at him for a few moments, then she realized that if someone didn’t know what the book was then writing to herself was exactly what it would look like.

She giggled. “Well, despite all your experience it seems there are at least some things you’ve never heard of. This is an enchanted notebook.”

“Enchanted how?” he asked, curious.

“I have a friend named Peppermint Swirl. Twilight's student Starlight Glimmer set these up for us. These notebooks come in a set, and she has the other one.” Before she could go on he put a hoof to his face and started crying again, and she knew he had figured out what she was getting at.

She pulled him close to her, letting him cry. “You get it, right? You’ve dragged your photo album across the world, so you know how to take good care of the things that are precious to you. So long as nothing happens to your notebook we’ll never really be apart. We can talk every day, even if you’re halfway across the world.”

Gratitude shined on his face as he gave her a big hug. “This is amazing! Thank you, Pumpkin! You’re the best friend ever.”

He felt warm against her, and she gently kicked her back hooves contentedly. She felt connected to him in a way she didn’t before, like they had formed a genuine connection between them now. Before he had been distant, giving off an air of needing no one. Even though he was affectionate during his act she never felt as close to him as she did now.

Here he was, openly expressing his feelings, sitting in her embrace and allowing himself to be comforted by her. She enjoyed seeing his real self shining through and actually feeling needed by him. She felt like she was falling in love with him all over again, but in a different way. It wasn’t a romantic feeling like the first time, but more of a sensation of intimacy and closeness she had only ever shared with her family and Peppermint in the past.

More than ever Masky knew he wanted to stay in Ponyville. Even with a magic notebook he wanted to stay near his friend. He was going to talk to his parents and say whatever he had to in order to get them to stay. He couldn’t be silent anymore.

The two of them snuggled against one another, all feeling right with the world.