Drill Bit was starting to settle down, still wrapped in his brothers hug.
Twilight noticed he wasn’t fighting the affection. “I see your brother cares for you quite a bit. It must feel nice to have someone to hold you as you cry.”
Drill Bit growled, pushing his brother away. “So what if it does? I wouldn’t need him if I wasn’t so pathetic.”
“Bro, you’re not-” Noble started.
“Oh, shut it!” He glared at Flurry. “You happy now? Did it feel nice to see me reduced to a crying mess?”
Twilight let out a sigh. Earlier she had been eager to see the colt get his comeuppance because of his words going against everything she stood for. Now, though, she could see the pain he kept hidden inside.
She had hoped to get to him while he was still vulnerable, but he was already throwing up his walls again. It couldn’t be helped. She still had to help him.
Twilight walked over, sitting down in front of him. “Drill Bit, I think we need to talk.”
“Hey!” said Flurry. “What about me? I can still handle this.”
Twilight looked over toward her. “Flurry, I think it’s about time we stop looking at this like a competition. This isn’t about winning or losing or who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s about helping out a pony in need.
“The only true victory we’ll get out of today is by soothing Drill’s feelings. Since you spoke so passionately about relying on your friends for strength I ask now that you rely on me, and not stubbornly attempt to do everything yourself.”
Flurry couldn’t argue with that statement. “Okay, Aunt Twilight. I trust you.”
“Thank you.” She turned back to Drill. Were he not such a prideful type she would have sat on the ground and put him on her lap as she talked, but she didn’t think he would agree to such a thing. He had already exposed his weakness once. He wouldn’t want to appear weak a second time.
“I’d like to share my thoughts with you, Drill Bit.”
He made a show of snubbing her. “What makes you think I care what you have to say, jerk?”
Noble let out a huff. “Drill Bit! That’s now how you address a princess!”
“Noble!” Twilight said firmly, getting his attention. “His words are borne of his pain, and a pony in pain needs understanding and to be heard, not to be shunned and disciplined. He can say what he wishes. It doesn’t bother me.”
Noble looked like he wanted to argue the point, so she continued on, “As I’ve tried to emphasize many a time I consider myself just another pony who has more responsibilities than most. I want to help not because of my title but because I want to see him do better, and I know he can be. A few negative words in exchange for freeing him of his burden is a small price to pay.
“As you work for Princess Celestia I have no authority over you, but I ask that you put your trust in me and keep quiet while I work.”
He bowed his head. “Very well, Princess.”
Now that all the distractions were out of the way she could finally focus on Drill Bit.
Drill Bit got a twisted smile on his face again, much like before. “I can say what I wish, huh?” He chuckled. “I know some worse words than jerk. I’m sure I’ll start bothering you before long.”
Twilight shrugged. “I’m sure you do, but what purpose would it serve to be foul-mouthed? Ultimately, it would accomplish nothing other than to prove how much you need my help.”
He growled loudly. “I don’t need your stupid help! What makes you think you can do anything for me? HUH?”
“I can tell you that I believe your parents DO care for you.”
He recoiled a bit, his body clenching. “So then you’re admitting Flurry is wrong?” he asked.
She shook her head. “Not at all.”
“Then there’s NOTHING to talk about. If you’re right then my parents hate me.”
“Not everything is about winning, Drill Bit. Things aren’t always clear cut. Ponies can be partially right and partially wrong. It doesn’t have to be just one way or the other.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I don’t think your parents hate you. Based on what you’ve said I believe it’s quite the opposite. I believe your parents care about you very much. It’s just that their affection is very narrowly focused, and that is where your pain lies.”
She could practically see the question marks on top of his head.
“There is absolutely nothing wrong with the lessons your parents taught you. It’s not the lessons themselves that are wrong, it’s that there’s a lack of balance that is sorely needed.”
He scratched his head. “I have no idea what you’re trying to say. Could you please explain it better?”
“Let me put it this way. I’m the Princess of Friendship. I love my friends and hanging out with them. But despite my title and the affection I have for them it doesn’t mean that I want friendship all the time. There are days when I like solitude and curling up with a good book and days when I feel like going out and hanging with them. That what I’m talking about with balance.
“Think of it like a scale. When one puts too much weight on one side of the scale it tips. If I spend too much time with my friends I can get burned out and feel annoyed by them. On the other hoof, if I spend too much time alone I can feel lonely and sad.”
“Now let’s talk about your situation. To a certain extent your parents were correct. One does need to be self-sufficient to progress, but total self-reliance is impossible. Everyone can use help now and again.
“And while being able to pick yourself up and keep walking after a failure is an admirable trait, it should also be acceptable to cry sometimes. Everyone has a limit. When one seals away a part of themselves it stops you from being a whole pony and causes all of you to suffer in return.
“It is also true that if one wishes to excel in a certain category that it is beneficial to train with others who are around or above your skill level, but that doesn’t mean you should treat others who are below that level as trash unworthy of your attention. Pound told me you used to be quite the bully.”
Drill rolled his eyes. “Do you really want to bring that up right now?”
“I’m not saying that to make you feel bad, but I do have to point it out to show how that imbalance has led to you hurting others. Everyone deserves respect, even if you wind up losing at something.
“And speaking of behavior…” She looked up towards Drill’s brother. “I’d like to speak to you, Noble. In talking with Pound he told me you used to be the same way as Drill Bit.”
“I’m not proud of it. I just-”
Twilight put up a hoof. “I’m not here to judge you on the way you used to be in the past. If you found a fresh start that’s good enough for me. I’m not here to discipline, anyway. As I said earlier this isn’t about right and wrong. It’s about helping a pony in need.
“I don’t know your parents personally. I only briefly met your mother yesterday, and while it does seem to mesh with what I’ve been told, a first impression is hardly enough to judge a whole pony’s life on.
“So I ask you, Noble, what you think of my words. Based on your life growing up would you agree with me?”
Noble got a thoughtful look on his face. After a few moments he nodded. “Yes… I would. There’s no denying that I didn’t exactly have an easy childhood, but just like my brother I had an early talent for flying that they saw my potential for. They pushed me to excel, and I can’t say that it didn’t produce results.
“As you know I am the second in command of the entire Royal Guard, and Princess Celestia told me following my accident the main reason she wouldn’t allow me the top spot was because of my poor team attitude.”
He looked up thoughtfully again. “I suppose you could argue that they did it to mooch off my success or something, but I haven’t seen evidence of that. To me, they’ve always been proud to show me off and see me stand in the spotlight that they felt I deserved.”
Returning his gaze to Twilight he said, “I believe they meant well, but if I could do it over I wouldn’t want to live my life the same way.”
Drill Bit piped up. “I’ve been pretty successful myself. They told me they expected me to take over my brother’s spot once I grew up. It seemed like a great honor to serve as a protector to a princess. They like to tell me that my future is now.”
“Hmm… I remember getting that same line as I grew up.”
Twilight gently shook her head. “Another good life lesson ruined by the unbalanced nature of its implementation. It’s smart to think of your future, and to have a goal steady in your mind to work towards. However, it doesn’t do to focus so hard on the future you forget that there’s still a present to live through.
“At the end of the day, Drill, you’re still a child. Striving towards your future goal of being in the Royal Guard is fine, but there’s more to life than that.” Drill Bit was staring at her, and she could see a thought pulling at him. “Go on. If there’s something you wish to say then by all means.”
“What you’re saying doesn’t make any sense!”
“Oh? And why is that?”
“You told me you think my parents really do care for me, but you also said they’ve been teaching me all wrong. You can’t have it both ways. And in case you weren’t paying attention to what my brother was saying their methods worked just fine.”
Twilight met his gaze. “That may be so, but can you say that you’re truly happy? Just a few minutes ago you broke down out of your fear that your parents don’t really love you. That says to me that you aren’t.”
Drill Bit looked at the ground.
“In your mind success and love are clearly linked. When you’re successful you get praise and love. What happens when you lose? How do your parents treat you then?”
“They… they’re disappointed. They tell me I should do better. But I haven’t lost a competition for a while, so they’ve been pretty happy with me.”
“And yet from what Pound has told me you’re sick of it all. Lately you’ve lost interest in competition, which says to me that you’re searching for a new path in life.”
Drill Bit let out a sigh, his head drooping. “But how can I? My parents expect me to take after my brother. The whole reason my parents are mad at me is because I tried bringing it up.”
“I was there for that,” said Noble. “Since our parents are big on our success I told him they would get upset if he didn’t tell them about his plans. As it was, he kept silent about his new goal, making it appear as if he was just planning on wandering around aimlessly until he finally found something worthwhile.”
Drill glared over toward his brother. “And I told you that it came to the same thing if I did tell them.”
“And just what is it you’re after?” asked Twilight. “What is your new objective?”
Drill met her eyes, but he didn’t speak.
“Well, don’t keep her waiting,” said Noble.
“Oh, be quiet!” He turned his head toward Noble again. “It’s none of her business what I want to do.”
Noble got an exasperated look on his face. “Would you please stop being so rude-”
“That’s correct,” said Twilight, making both of them look over at her. “So long as you’re not harming others it isn’t my business to poke into your life or force answers out of you. However, Drill Bit… please remember that I’m only trying to help you.”
“Well,” Drill Bit started, “maybe I don’t believe you can help me.”
“And that’s okay. Help can be defined in a number of ways, though. Maybe I can’t change your parents or make them accept your new goal, but perhaps I can help you think of things a new way, which is what I was trying to do for you earlier.”
Though he tried to hide it his expression grew sad. “You really think… that my parents love me… or are they only interested in my accomplishments?”
“I don’t think your parents are trying to hurt you. They want to help you, but are just going about it the wrong way.
“Yes?” they responded.
“Tell him about your friend Masky’s parents.”
“Okay!” said Pound.
“Masky… he’s that unicorn kid Pumpkin’s always hanging around with, right?” asked Drill Bit.
Pumpkin nodded. “He was sorta like you. His parents and him traveled the world for business, but eventually Masky got sick of it because he kept losing friends and his parents didn’t pay enough attention to him. He was too scared to tell his parents, though.”
“And so,” said Pound, “he put on a ‘mask,’ and acted cool just to make the most of the time he had wherever they traveled, becoming quite popular.”
“Because of that act his parents thought he was fine, when really he was miserable.”
“And it wasn’t until he finally told his parents how he was really feeling that they realized how sad he was.”
“And so they stopped traveling and moved into Ponyville so he wouldn’t have to lose any more friends.”
Pound smiled. “So his parents weren’t trying to hurt him. They just didn’t know what he was really feeling.”
“Now,” said Twilight, “I expect that isn’t going to be enough for you, considering you already tried talking to your own parents.” Drill Bit nodded. “So let me continue with my story, because I believe it illustrates my point better.
“Think of a pony like a painter. You can only paint the colors you have. Could you imagine someone trying to do a painting of me without any purple? What would that even look like? Even if they had my hair and my tail down pat I wouldn’t recognize myself if they were forced to color me green and yellow. Wouldn’t you agree?”
Drill Bit looked around, his face furrowed in thought. “Yeeeessss… but what does that have to do with anything?”
“What I’m trying to get at is that even if there’s a genuine passion for what they’re doing the end result just won’t come out right without the right knowledge. And sometimes another issue comes from trying to paint another pony with the same brush as they used before. In this case, your parents tried to ‘color’ you the same way they did your brother.”
“What do you mean?”
“Your parents raised your brother a certain way. As he pointed out their methods got results, and your brother has gotten a high ranking position in one of the most important jobs in the world.
“And then you came along, born with the same natural talent for flying as him. Is it any wonder they colored you the same way, expecting you would be just as successful? Again, just like with him, you have gotten results and shown that their faith in your skills was not misguided, but for all your success neither of you are very happy with the way your lives have been going.
“I do not believe your parents acted with malice or ill intent towards either of you, but I also believe that they’ve put too much pressure on you.”
“So… then… what are you trying to say? Do you think they’re good or bad?”
Twilight let out a gentle sigh. “Let’s stop talking about them for a moment. I’d like to share a little story that I told to Crystal over there, because I feel it will help you understand what I’m getting at.”
“Pound made a friend at the beach named Tree Leaf, but things went sour when Tree Leaf grew jealous of Pumpkin and threw sand in her eyes to try to get Pound all to himself. Naturally, Pound was pretty steamed.
“A day or so later I talked Pound into trying to patch things up with the colt. With a lot of bad things happening recently he told me he didn’t want anymore, but I overrode him, using Pumpkin to get him to agree.”
Drill Bit gave her a look. “That doesn’t seem very polite.”
“Well, I’m glad you’ve already spotted the issue, because it doesn’t get better from there.
“Tree Leaf and Pound are very similar ponies. They wouldn’t cooperate at all, and spent the entire talk fighting.
“In the end, they did manage to work things out, but the reason it went so poorly was because of me not taking their feelings into consideration. I thought I knew what was best for them, so I put them together to work things out without once stopping to think that it might not be the best method.
“I haven’t spent a lot of time with children. The only children I’ve spent a significant amount of time with are three fillies that are sisters of my friends. When I first met them they were nine. I assumed that nine year olds weren’t all that different from six year olds, but I was wrong. I tried painting them with the same brush as I did my friend’s sisters, with the end result being a giant mess that left everyone unhappy.
“I think you’re starting to get the picture, right?”
Drill Bit nodded. “You’re trying to relate my parents to your situation and Masky’s.”
Twilight nodded too. “In the end, it was never my intention to hurt the two of them, but it doesn’t change the fact that I did. And that pain came about because of my ignorance. But, now that I understand where I went wrong, I’ve been able to use the correct brush to paint situations with.”
Pound gave a hearty nod. “That’s right. Twilight’s been a lot better at understanding us. You remember when she came to our school for a week? That was the reason.”
“Oh.” Drill remembered that. She had talked about just wanting to watch their classes for a little while. He had thought she had to have better things to do, and couldn’t understand why she’d want to observe kids at kindergarten.
Drill stared so hard at her it was like he was trying to see through her. “So… you think… that my parents really do love me? And they’re only raising me like that because they don’t know there might be a better color to paint me with?”
Giving him an encouraging smile she nodded again. “They painted you with the colors they knew, doing what they thought was best for you. I believe they earnestly want to see you succeed and be someone great, but they’re going overboard. ”
Drill looked relieved. “So… what should I do?”
“I think you should sit down with them and just be honest. Maybe they won’t like what you have to say, but if you truly have another passion you want to go for then you need to let them know.”
‘What I want… is to just keep helping Pound with his flying practice. He was a joke when the year started, but because of my help he’s gotten pretty good. I don’t think he’s the worst in the class anymore.”
That got surprise out of everyone after he had so stubbornly kept it hidden before.
Pound took it more in stride because the colt had told him most of this before.
Twilight noticed that Drill Bit looked a lot calmer now. She had to guess he was being more open because he no longer felt his parents hated him, so he wasn’t being nearly as defensive.
Flurry smiled. “I think that’s a fine goal! The reason I was able to grow as much as I did was because I had a friend to show me the way.”
Drill sighed. “But you were there yesterday. You saw how my mom reacted when you mentioned it. That’s why I didn’t want to tell them.”
Noble put a hoof on his shoulder. “When you talked to our parents yesterday they said that if you found something you were just as skilled at as racing they would support you as hard as they did for that. If you can show your dedication and resolve I’m sure they’ll at least admire that, even if they don’t agree.”
Pumpkin put a hoof to her chin. “I don’t think there’s any reason Drill Bit can’t train Pound and be a part of the Royal Guard later on.”
“I guess the question that should be asked,” said Cadance, “is if he even wants to be part of the Royal Guard in the first place.”
“True enough,” said Twilight. “Is that what you actually want, or do you only want it because it’s what’s expected of you?”
Drill Bit looked uncertain. He had never thought about it before. He had mainly wanted it to show his brother up, but while that was the main job they had suggested for his future they had also entertained the idea of him being a Wonderbolt.
He looked over at his brother, thinking about what a comfort he had been recently. He had seen pictures of him in his Royal Guard uniform, and he had always thought he looked cool. That is, when he wasn’t dismissing him as just a rival.
He lifted and stomped his right hooves before saluting. “Being a Royal Guard sounds awesome! And if my brother stays there long enough maybe we could even work together. That would be so cool!”
Noble ruffled his mane. “Well, don’t think that means I’ll take it easy on you, bro.”
Flurry saw the way his eyes shined at the idea. He had become a lot less abrasive. It reminded her of herself and what had happened with Mayhem. Even though she was sensitive about being called a freak she had called Mayhem one.
Later on, when she went to make up, the little draconequus forgave her easily after seeing the pain she held inside. When she asked why he forgave her so quickly he had talked about a similar situation with Masky, where after taking his "bad things" away he had been able to see the good pony that lied underneath.
Drill Bit had done some mean things in the past, and even today he had hit her best friend to try to prove that friendship was a weakness, but she was starting to see the good pony he could be.
“Don’t forget,” said Cadance, “that just being talented in flying, in itself, won’t get you very far.
“Once you’re promoted past the bottom ranks one of the jobs of a Royal Guard is to help train the new recruits. That ties in nicely with your current goal. Thus, I see no reason they should object to it.”
“Oh!” Drill Bit blinked. “Yeah, you’re right.”
“As Twilight said it’s all about finding a balance. You can help Pound and still go to competitions. It falls on you to get your parents to understand that.”
Drill let out a sigh. “What if… I’m scared to?”
Flurry walked up to him. “That’s what your friends are for. Even when Crystal isn’t right next to me, I can still feel her heart with mine. She makes me want to fight, so it gives me courage.”
Twilight nodded. “I feel that the greatest strength of all comes from fighting for others. If helping out Pound is truly what lies in your heart, then I believe that you’ll find a way to convince your parents if you just keep that idea in your thoughts.”
Drill Bit thought of the time he confronted Pound at the park during his suspension. He had thought Pound was so pathetic until that point, but as soon as his sister was threatened he turned into a different pony entirely.
Just like Flurry, Pound’s aura had glowed ferociously as soon as he felt his loved one was in danger. When it was just between them Pound had looked pathetic, but as soon as he mentioned wanting to take out his anger on Pumpkin then Pound grew strong.
It was the first time he had ever felt intimidated by Pound. The ferocity in the colts eyes left him unable to match up. Pound had even offered to take a beating if it meant he’d leave Pumpkin alone.
Even Pumpkin had shown inner strength for the sake of her family, striking herself to make it convincing that he had attacked her.
Fighting for the sake of others was a bit of a foreign concept to him, but he had seen Pound’s transformation with his own eyes, and heard about Flurry’s.
Crystal stood next to Flurry. “All of us want to see you succeed, so we’ll add our hearts to yours. Right, Flurry?”
Flurry gave a hearty nod. “You bet!”
“Same here!” said Pumpkin.
“Training with you is awesome,” said Pound, “but I also just want to see you be happy.”
Pound, Pumpkin, Flurry, and Crystal all stood before him, putting their hooves on top of one another and staring at him expectantly.
“Teamwork, huh?” said Drill Bit, his eye growing misty. He could feel their support as he added his own hoof to the top. “I guess… just this once… I’ll let you help me.”
“Group hug!” Flurry called out.
“Group hug!” the other three repeated.
Drill Bit started to protest, but he was too late before he was covered in legs. From there his complaints died in his throat as he felt a sense of comfort he hadn’t experienced in a long time.
He closed his eyes, enjoying the love surrounding him.
Twilight beamed as they all hugged him, feeling like the spirit of friendship was being passed along to another.