Flurry was steaming. “You just whacked my friend hard enough to make her cry. And for WHAT? To get a reaction out of me? To see me lose my carefree attitude? For your so-called ‘victory?’ “
The sparks coming out of Flurry’s horn grew larger, her horn beginning to glow with a bright light.
Pound’s heart was thumping. He didn’t like where this was going. He couldn’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu from the time Pumpkin accidentally sent a bookcase crashing onto him when she was mad.
“H-hey, Flurry!” Pound said, trying to sound upbeat. “It was wrong what he did, but revenge isn’t the answer. Twilight taught me YAAH!”
With a small flash from Flurry’s horn Pound was knocked on his back. “Shut up, Pound!” she said fiercely.
Pumpkin helped Pound up, both of them looking panicked. “What do we do?” she whispered.
Pound looked toward the adults. Twilight and Cadance were deep in conversation, Twilight laughing at something. “Use your magic,” he whispered back. “Give her a tug.”
Twilight wiped her eye of a tear. “Oh, boy! I can’t believe Shiny did that! It’s so-huh?” She broke off as she felt something pulling at her hoof. She looked down, and saw a blue aura around it.
Glaring at Drill Bit Flurry said, “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t blast you into next week.”
Drill chuckled, still smiling despite his terror. “I guess I was right. I found your weakness. It hurts, doesn’t it?”
Flurry’s eyes grew fiery as she growled, wind whipping around her as her aura grew larger.
Twilight finally recognized the aura as belonging to Pumpkin, and as she looked up her eyes bugged out of her head. Flurry looked about to blow.
With a flash she teleported over to the kids. “What is going on here?” she said.
“Who asked you to butt in?” Flurry said nastily.
Cadance came over too, quickly followed by Noble. “Calm down, Flurry! What are you getting so worked up over?”
“Oh, nothing! That JERK just attacked Crystal and made her cry.” Unconsciously things around her begin lifting up around her, some of them changing into different things entirely. “I won’t forgive him!”
For Twilight it reminded her too much of her entrance exam to Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns. It looked like Flurry was so lost in her emotions she couldn’t even contain her magic.
“I’ve had ENOUGH!” she yelled at Drill Bit, who was still smirking. “Wipe that stupid smile off your face before I wipe it off for you!” She tilted her head forward, ready to shoot a spell at him.
Noble’s heart was racing, unsure what she was going to do to his brother.
Before Twilight or Cadance could intervene Crystal put herself between the two of them.
“Flurry!” said Crystal calmly, putting a hoof on her horn. “That’s enough.”
Flurry wanted to lash out, but Crystal’s relaxed expression made her feel calmer too. The intense glow from her horn slowly faded. “But he hit you for no reason!” she said angrily, stomping a hoof.
She shook her head. “No, you’re wrong there. He did have a reason, and you fell right into his trap. His actions may have been bad, but he was right that if you can’t hold onto your temper that someone can take advantage of that.”
Flurry averted her eyes. “Well, what was I supposed to do? This is the first time I’ve been in a position where I needed to actually protect someone. And after everything you’ve done for me, going so far out of your way, what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t stand up for you?”
“Look at me, Flurry.” When she complied Crystal continued, “I appreciate it, truly, but it seems obvious to me that he wants to provoke you. He’s challenging your ideals. I know you’re more than this, so don’t let him get to you.” She gave Flurry a big hug. “Show him the power we developed together. Show him the strength of your heart.”
Flurry took in a deep breath, slowly letting it out. She hugged Crystal back, feeling at ease again.
She released Crystal, standing in front of Drill Bit.
“Well!” Twilight said firmly. “Now that things have calmed down I guess I have to ask you, Drill Bit, why you felt the need to attack Crystal?”
Before he could answer Flurry said, “Aunt Twilight, please stay out of this.”
“Excuse me? You almost had a royal temper tantrum. I don’t think you’re in the right state of mind to be making requests here.”
“I let Drill get to me. I admit that, but this is still my battle. I want to finish it by myself.”
Cadance sat down. “If you’re determined to continue this then fine, but we’re staying right here for the rest of it. I can’t have you exploding on anyone with alicorn level magic.”
Twilight waited a few seconds, wondering whether to speak up. In the end, Cadance was Flurry’s mother, and she ultimately had the final say in her daughter’s behavior. So long as the two of them were there they could at least stop things before they began getting out of hand again.
Sitting down herself she said, “Very well. If Cadance has given her permission then I won’t stop this, but I agree that both of us will be monitoring this little contest of yours from now on.”
Sitting down, Flurry put a hoof over her heart. “Do or say whatever you want, Drill Bit. I won’t let you rattle me again, not so long as I have my friend’s heart with me."
The colt stared curiously at her. “Do you really believe that?”
“Yes!” she said without hesitation.
“It seems to me that nothing has changed with you. You’re just as weak now as when you started.”
Flurry now considered him as she lowered her hoof. “How do you figure?”
“You told me earlier that your wings used to really bother you. You weren’t able to overcome those feelings by yourself. You were forced to rely on someone else to help you do so.”
“What’s your point?”
“The ‘point’ is that you still have a massive weakness. Sure, through your friend’s help you got over your embarrassment about your wings. You knew you needed to be stronger because you didn’t want that to be a weakness an enemy could exploit.
“However, as you just showed, you’ve only traded one weakness for another. You traded sadness for anger, both of which can equally be used against you. All it took was one little slap to set you into a rage. You were on the brink of exploding.”
Flurry pulled Crystal closer to her to keep her cool. “So you’re saying that’s why you attacked her? To try and prove a point?"
Drill nodded. “What if I was a decoy, used to get all your attention on me so someone could attack you from behind? Your feelings would stop you from focusing on anything else but revenge, and a real enemy wouldn’t stop at something so slight as just a slap.
“So, had you had the strength to overcome your feelings on your own, you wouldn’t have either problem. You wouldn’t need a worthless friend dragging you down and holding you back from exerting your true strength.”
“Worthless?” Flurry clutched harder to Crystal, not wanting to rise to his bait.
“The truly strong are those who rise above everyone without relying on others, and develop their skills on their own merits.” He pointed at her. “People like you are held back by friendship. In fact, everyone is. You always expect friends to be your safety net when you fall, when sometimes you just have to land on your belly and dust yourself off."
He sat down, shrugging and shaking his head. “So long as you rely on friends you’ll always be a pathetic weakling, because one day your friends won’t be there to bail you out of a jam, and then you’re done for because you never learned to be independent.
“If you’re smart you’ll throw away that dead weight of a weakness you’re holding onto while you still can. She’s only going to hold you back.”
Twilight let out a huff of outrage. As the Princess of Friendship such words were deeply offensive to her, and she wanted to speak up right then and there to tell him how wrong he was. Even disregarding her title and princesshood she still would find it insulting to everything she stood for, as her friends had always been the ones to support her. She wouldn’t be the pony she was today without them.
Even so, she forced herself to keep her mouth shut. After all, Drill was obviously trying to get a rise out of Flurry. Or, at the very least, to put his worldview against hers.
If Flurry couldn’t defend her point of view she might very well be swayed toward his line of thought. And, while that was the last thing she wanted considering how much Flurry had grown, she knew that she had to let the two of them have it out without her interference. She couldn’t always be there for Flurry, and if her niece couldn’t hold true to her beliefs under pressure then it only meant that Drill was right that she had a glaring weakness to exploit.
She crossed her hooves, letting out another huff. She was finding it extremely difficult to retain her impartiality when the thing she wanted most was for Drill Bit to lose. She had to remind herself that this was the way he was raised to think.
Cadance shook her head. She had heard about Drill Bit from Flurry, but that he would take things this far…
She didn’t feel angry like Twilight, though. She was more disappointed.
Noble let out a small groan. After their conversation yesterday he really thought his brother was on the verge of a breakthrough. He truly believed his brother had started to internalize the lesson that he himself learned following his accident, but it seemed Drill was still holding true to the beliefs their parents instilled in him.
He could see the princesses weren’t pleased, and though he wanted to speak up himself he also held his tongue, hoping that Flurry could help him understand.
Pound wasn’t surprised by Drill’s words. Even though Flurry was the one who could best understand his situation he was the one who had spent the most time with him out of everyone there. He knew he couldn’t do anything else now that he had brought them together. All he could do was wait for Flurry’s response.
Like Drill had done earlier when she was telling him her story Flurry was sitting down with her eyes closed, taking in his words. Knowing what she did, about friendship, about her mother and her aunt, and about the closeness she shared with Crystal, she found she just couldn’t understand his beliefs at all.
“My friends… my friends…” She started shaking as she looked at the ground, her mind filling with memories. Pound, Pumpkin and all their friends pulled her out of a river of despair, helping her resolve the pain in her heart. They treated her like a pony instead of putting her on a pedestal, and gave her a magic notebook so they could always be there for her, no matter how far apart they were. Each of them had accepted her for who she was, and it brought joy and happiness to her life again.
The twins had helped her again, allowing her to dissolve the barriers that were preventing her and Crystal from becoming true friends, and ever since that day Crystal and her had been as close as could be.
Crystal had been by her side since that day, helping her overcome her shame over her body and teaching her to accept herself exactly as she was.
Maybe it was true that if she had been a bit stronger that she wouldn’t have had to suffer so much. She could have told her parents her true feelings earlier, and it would have saved her so much pain. Or maybe it wouldn’t have bothered her at all. But the truth was that, no matter how much she theorized about what she could have been like if she had been different, it didn’t change the face that she hadn’t been strong enough.
She had already tried going it alone, and found it a thoroughly miserable experience. Before befriending all of them she had suffered in solitude, avoiding her feelings by putting everything into studying. It had been so dark inside her heart until they had shown her the light. Even now she could feel them circling around her, encouraging her and smiling at her.
With tears streaming down her eyes she glared at Drill. “My friends ARE my strength! They’ve always done so much for me, helping to improve my life. I would NEVER consider them a weakness, and certainly never think them worthless. They mean EVERYTHING to me, and I would never throw them away. Not for anything in the whole world.
“And maybe you’re right that a friend can always be kidnapped or hurt in order to get to me, but no matter what it takes I’d do what I had to in order to get them back and save them.”
Drill stared blankly at her. “I see…”
Like the first time Flurry spoke to him about her feelings he could feel an immense power radiating off of her. It wasn’t magic. It was something different.
“You feel like your friends are your strength,” said Drill, “but what if one of them dies? What if you get into a terrible fight and break apart? You’re giving away a delicate piece of yourself that’s always at risk of being shattered. Wouldn’t it be better… not to take that risk?”
Flurry met his gaze for a short while before looking away. In a subdued voice she said, “You’re right. I’ve given a lot of my heart to Crystal, and while I sincerely wish we’ll always be friends I know there’s a chance that it won’t remain that way.”
“So,” said Crystal meaningfully, “are you saying you wish we had never become friends?”
Flurry shook her head. “Not at all.” Putting a hoof on her heart she said, “I told you that I wanted to fill the hole in my heart with you, and I did. You’re a true friend that I can’t replace with anyone else.
“Even so, I have to acknowledge the possibility that our friendship won’t last. But… even if…” She took a deep breath. “Even if something happens that destroys our friendship I might regret that I lost you, but that’s all. The memories we shared… the laughs… the smiles… even the arguments and the tears…” Even as she said that a few tears came down her eyes as she looked warmly toward her friend. “I’ll cherish them all forever.”
Crystal smiled back at her, putting a hoof over her own heart.
Turning back to Drill, Flurry said, “Maybe I wouldn’t feel the pain of loss if I had never went out of my way to develop my friendship with Crystal, but then I’d also never get to experience a whole new world of experiences either.
“Even if someone told me that in the future the two of us would get into a fight we never recovered from I wouldn’t care. I wouldn’t believe them. I’d hold onto my friendship with all my strength until that time came, if it ever did.
“I’d never have come as far as I did without her. Even now, I can feel her inside of me, giving me strength. So, no matter what happens, I will NEVER give up on our friendship, and I will NEVER regret having her in my life.”
Twilight was beaming. It seemed she had nothing to worry about, after all. Flurry did understand the value of friendship well.
Cadance was relieved as well. She was proud that Flurry understood the importance of friendship.
“If you want to spend your whole life alone, thinking it makes you powerful, then be my guest. I can’t stop you… but you’re going to be very lonely, and you’ll never be as strong as you can be. There are some things you just can’t overcome yourself. That’s where your friends come in. Even as alicorns my mother and my aunt both rely on and put their trust in earth ponies and pegasi, even if they have no magic.”
Flurry looked around her at her family and friends. "With the exception of your brother everyone here is close to me and help give me the courage to go on. They make me want to fight harder than I’ve ever fought. Without even saying a word in my defense I know they’re all on my side, and because of that I know I’ll never lose to someone like you.
“What about you? What do you have to fight for? What gives you strength? Another trophy as a monument to your ego?
“Like I told you yesterday I know there is fear in your heart towards your parents. Maybe things might be a little different if you actually had a few friends holding you up.
“So let’s hear your response. Let’s see you try to prove me wrong.”
Noble stared at his brother, wondering what he would say now. Surely he had to understand things a little better now.
Drill stood there, his face a mask. When he finally spoke he said just two words: “You’re wrong.”
Flurry waited, but he didn’t elaborate. When it became clear he wasn’t planning on saying anything more her eyes narrowed. “Hmph! After everything I said THAT’S all you have to say in return? I guess you HAVE to know you’re completely beat if you can’t even say anything more than just that I’m wrong.
“Honestly, I feel like bailing, just like you did yesterday. Either back up your statement with words or just admit you’re wrong with some grace for crying out loud!”
Drill sat down, looking at the ground. “My parents always pushed me hard to succeed. They saw my potential early on and trained me to be the best. They taught me to rely on myself, and not to whine when I had accidents. And I’ve DONE that! I’ve worked my butt off, winning competition after competition. When I’ve banged myself up I’d just suck it up or bandage myself up and get back to work. It was hard at times, but I pushed through it all.
“B-but… t-this… this goes against everything I was raised to believe.” He put his hooves to his head. “If you’re telling me this, and it’s right… if it’s right…”
Pound gasped as tears began coming down Drill’s eyes.
Drill’s voice grew croaky. “I thought they pushed me so hard because they cared for me and just wanted me to succeed. I thought they wanted me to be strong and independent, b-but if what you’re saying truly is correct, then… then…” His body clenched as he shrunk, his eyes closing as he let out a shuddering breath. “…then maybe my parents never loved me after all, and they wanted me to fail this whole time.” He held himself as he began quietly sobbing. “T-that’s why you HAVE to be wrong! You HAVE to be!”
All of them were at a loss for words. Seeing such a proud colt reduced to tears threw them off.
Noble recovered first, going over and giving his brother a hug.
Pound opened his mouth, wanting to say something comforting, but nothing came out. He didn’t know what he could say.
A tear came down Flurry’s eye as she looked at the ground, any animosity she had toward him vanishing as she remembered the reason they were going through all this in the first place. She had been brought here to help him. She knew his fears well, having lived with them for months. But his situation wasn’t exactly like hers, and she didn’t think her solution was going to work for him.
When she had brought up Drill training Pound his mother’s eyes had grown cold. It wasn’t that his parents were ignorant to his feelings, like her and Masky, but that they seemed to actively dislike them.
That being the case she didn’t know what to do. She could be his friend, but she didn’t know that it would be enough to help Drill get them to change their minds.
Twilight let out a heavy breath. She understood now what Drill was trying to accomplish. When Drill first met Flurry he won the race but was defeated by her inner strength, which she got from her close friends aid. It ran completely at odds with his upbringing, which said the greatest strength comes from one’s own self only.
All that he had done today in order to get under Flurry’s skin, she believed it wasn’t to triumph over her, but to try to understand. In truth, she felt like he understood since yesterday that Flurry was right about the greatest strength lying with the hearts of friends, and that there was a greater strength that can be obtained when fighting for others rather than yourself. But, as he had just said himself, if that was true then how should he feel about his parents who raised him to believe the opposite? That was why he couldn’t accept her philosophy.
In any case, she felt that Flurry had made her dent. She had gotten into his heart, and now that he was vulnerable she felt it was time for her to take over. Drill Bit definitely was in need of a friendship lesson.