When the others showed up the whole gang gathered around Twilight as she teleported them to the beach.
Once they were all comfortable they began to do their own thing: Rarity rested in the shade as Spike put suntan lotion on her, Applejack and Rainbow Dash gathered a few other ponies to play some volleyball, Twilight took out a book to read, and Fluttershy and Pinkie took the excited children toward the water to swim, while Cup Cake and Carrot Cake set up the cooler so they’d have plenty of drinks to enjoy.
Pound and Pumpkin were both wearing inflatable swimmies. They didn’t care for them, feeling they weren’t babies anymore, but none of the adults thought they were good enough swimmers that they would allow them not to wear them.
The water was pretty chilly, giving them a nice bit of relief on that hot day. They each splashed at each other, having a blast as they swam around and played.
When they grew bored of swimming they got out and dried off on a towel, gently dozing in the sun. Their mini nap was interrupted a few minutes later by Applejack and Rainbow Dash’s return.
The two of them were laughing and slapping each other’s hooves, having beaten the other team by a fair amount by working together.
Pound got up, grabbing his shovel and pail and going a short distance away to make a sand castle. Pumpkin at first made to rise and join him, but she was still far too comfortable, and Rainbow and Applejack were quieting down already.
Pound scooped his bucket into the wet sand, only getting close enough to the water that the bottom of his hooves got wet. Moving away from the water he turned the bucket over, and began constructing a castle. Using his shovel to cut off pieces and hitting it to flatten some areas he thought he was doing a great job.
With a couple more bucketfulls of sand his castle was getting bigger and bigger. He used his hoof to make circular windows and kept shaving pieces off with his shovel. He laughed at how awesome his castle was. When he thought it was as good as it was gonna get he picked up a stick and jammed it into the top, declaring it a masterpiece. He’d like to see his dumb sister make something that awesome.
He heard a loud yell from behind him, quickly getting louder as it approached. Pound turned and saw a colt running toward him, his hooves flailing like mad and a look of panic on his face. He seemed to have some sort of weird hair decoration flapping around with his running.
The colt crashed into him, knocking both of them to the ground, and something red flew into the air, landing in the dirt a few feet away from them.
“Ow!” Pound complained. “What are you doing, stupid?”
The colt put a hoof to his ear. “Oh, good," he said, obvious relief in his voice. "It’s gone.” He jerked as he looked down at the ground, hiding behind Pound. “Make it go away.”
“What?” Pound replied angrily, checking to make sure his precious castle was unharmed before glancing toward where the boy was looking. He spotted a crab, and he realized that THAT was what had been fluttering in the wind before. He began laughing. “How in Equestria did a crab get your ear? Was it a dare or something?”
“N-no! I was just relaxing by the water. I must have gotten too close to it when I laid down.”
Pound shook his head, waving at the crab. “Shoo, shoo.” The crab made a few ominous gestures with its claws, but sidled away regardless.
“There. Problem solved,” Pound said with a giggle. “The big bad meanie is gone… ya loser.” Pound winked at him.
“Loser, huh?” the colt responded with a cocky grin. “What’s your name, brat?”
“Pound Cake. How about you?”
“Name’s Tree Leaf.”
Pound rolled his eyes. “How original. You’re two shades of green, and you’re named after something green.
“Oh, and I prefer major brat, thanks.” He gave the colt a shove.
Tree Leaf glared at him, and Pound returned the gesture. They stared hard at each other, daring the other to blink, but their little competition got ruined a few seconds later when they both cracked up laughing.
Tree Leaf spun around to the side of him, putting his hoof around Pound’s neck and giving him a noogie. “Come on, then, major brat. Show me what you got.”
Pound kicked at Tree Leaf’s back legs, knocking him off balance as he fell to the ground. Pound sat on him victoriously. “The winner!” he called out, pumping his hooves.
“Not likely!” Tree Leaf called out, grabbing Pound’s back legs and pulling them up hard, causing him to fall backward. Tree Leaf turned over, getting up and sitting on Pound’s back. “Who won now?”
Pound grabbed Tree Leaf’s back legs with his front, turning over and taking the colt with him. “Not you!”
The two continued to roughhouse, having a blast as they began to get sweaty. They were both panting but neither wanted to be the one to give up first.
The two of them had their hooves locked around each other’s, staring at each other as they each strained to overcome the other. They were in an awkward position, their legs folding around like pretzels, but they both ignored the discomfort.
“H-hey,” said Pound, panting a little. “W-why don’t you j-ju-just give up? It’s… okay…”
“I agree,” Tree Leaf said, panting as well. “So just… let me… win… and we can… end this.”
The two of them pulled on their opponents captured hooves until they felt like they would break, but both boys pride wouldn’t let them surrender. Despite the agony they both wore confident smiles, each looking for the slightest sign of weakness in the other.
“Hey! What are you doing?” came an angry voice from nearby.
Pound and Tree Leaf both turned to look, seeing Pumpkin coming toward them. “Go away, Pumpkin!” he said nastily. “We’re having a contest of strength over here.”
“You shouldn’t be fighting!” she said scoldingly. “You’re lucky no one else is looking over here or you’d get in big trouble.”
Pound sighed. The moment was broken. Even if he ignored her he wouldn’t get any satisfaction out of winning if he had to listen to Pumpkin’s nagging. Rolling his eyes he disentangled himself from Tree Leaf.
He walked past her, making sure to bump his body hard against her side. “Thanks for ruining my fun, you pest. Were you just jealous I was hanging out with someone else for a change?”
Pumpkin sputtered a few times, incensed. “Excuse me? I’m just looking out for YOU! We’re finally going back to school tomorrow and you want to start a fight near Princess Twilight?”
“Blah, blah, blah. You’re talking too much. Come on, Tree Leaf. Let’s go do something else.”
“Must be hard to learn to fly without a teacher,” Pumpkin said coldly, “but if you don’t care about ever flying then fine. Do whatever you want.”
Pound halted in his step, one hoof still in midair, a sour look on his face. He took a few deep breaths before arranging his face in a smile that looked more like a grimace. “Okay, okay. “ He turned around. “I guess you’re right.” He let out a little groan, then spat out, “I’m sorry, alright?”
“Apology accepted,” Pumpkin said coolly, not having forgiven him yet.
“We weren’t ever fighting, you know? We were wrestling. Two totally different things.”
“You’re right, but if Twilight saw you after you just spent the whole week learning to control your temper she might decide you’re not mature enough to go to school yet.”
“That would stink.” Pointing with his hoof he said, “This is Tree Leaf. Tree Leaf, this is my sister Pumpkin Cake.”
“Nice to meet you,” Pumpkin said kindly, extending her hoof.
“Charmed,” he replied in a bored tone, not even looking at her as he quickly tapped her hoof. Grabbing Pound around the neck he pulled the colt forward, ignoring Pumpkin completely.
Pumpkin felt a little aggravated, but she was sure his mood would blow over. He was probably just mad like Pound for interrupting their wrestling match.
Pound went back to where the rest of their friends were and grabbed a beach ball before running back over to them. “Who’s up for a little game?”
“Sure!” said Tree Leaf. He loved competition.
“What do you have in mind?” asked Pumpkin.
Pound replied, “We take turns hitting it to each other, and see who drops the ball first. Whoever drops it five times is out, and then the remaining two do the same until there’s only one left. Got it?”
They both nodded, getting into a triangle position. Pound threw the ball up into the air, before jumping up and smacking it towards Pumpkin. She gave it a whack toward Tree Leaf, who quickly slammed it back toward her. Not expecting the swift return she fumbled the hit and it fell to the ground.
“You got one point, Pumpkin,” Pound said in a cheery voice.
“It’ll be your turn next,” she said confidently.
They passed the ball around a couple of times, Tree Leaf giving a high hit over to Pound, over to Pumpkin, who shot it toward Tree Leaf. Knowing better now this time she was prepared when he shot it back to her. It went way over her, and she made a running dive to save it, missing it by inches as she skidded against the sand.
It felt like every couple of rounds of tossing a sudden quick shot by Tree Leaf got her, to the point where not only was she the first eliminated, the other two didn’t even have any points yet.
Pumpkin sat down in the sand, watching them with a thoughtful frown on her face. She had thought that everything was fine now. All playing together, making a new friend; it seemed the exact sort of thing Auntie Pinkie would be proud of them for. However, she had her misgivings about Tree Leaf. Looking back, she saw that all her points had been a result of Tree Leaf. It looked like Pound had gotten high, lazy shots that were easy to hit and return, while she had gotten a bunch of tricky shots. Now the two boys were back to playing alone again, and she could see that Tree Leaf’s attitude had shifted. He looked on top of the world, confident and messing around, trash talking with Pound, where before he had been silent.
Inside she wondered if she was overreacting, but she couldn’t help but feel a little annoyed. She lost track of the time as they continued to hit the ball back and forth, and she was starting to get bored. After what felt like an eternity they were tied at four and four. Pound hit the ball hard, and it went sailing over Tree Leaf’s head. Tree Leaf went running for it, and in a split second of vindictiveness Pumpkin put a hoof to her horn to hide the glow as she give the beach ball a quick boost, and Tree Leaf missed it.
Pound cheered, hopping up and down. “I won! Oh, yeah! The winner!”
Tree Leaf laughed. “All right, all right. You beat me fair and square. You want a medal?”
“You can just bow down to me. That would be enough.”
Tree Leaf gave a playful scoff. “I think not.”
Once again she was being ignored, and Pumpkin didn’t like it. Pound’s words rang in her ears, about how he accused her of disliking Tree Leaf just because Pound was paying attention to someone else than her, and she began to feel guilty. Maybe he was right, and she was just looking at Tree Leaf the wrong way. She resolved to make more of an effort to be understanding. After all, Pound was having a good time, and he always tried so hard for her so she’d be happy. Did she have to ruin his happiness by throwing around accusations and causing bad feelings all over?
Her resolve didn’t last. No matter what activity they participated in Pound always made sure she was a part of it, but Tree Leaf kept trying to find ways to exclude her or ignore her. It quickly became apparent to her that Tree Leaf wasn’t willing to forgive her for interrupting their little wrestling match. If there was any other reason it escaped her.
After playing for a while Pound suggested they all go for a walk while they thought of some new games to play. Pumpkin was silently fuming, but went along with it. Tree Leaf walked ahead of both of them, and Pound’s natural desire to be the leader made him keep pace with Tree Leaf, once again leaving Pumpkin behind them.
Pumpkin growled, starting to become really frustrated.
Tree Leaf seemed to be directing them as they kept walking along the sand. They reached a less populated area of the beach, where the only ponies they could see were walking like them, not sunbathing on towels.
Tree Leaf pointed to an elevated structure a couple hundred feet away. It was something like an arch made of stone. If they climbed up they would have a nice view of the whole beach. “Hey, Pound! I bet I can beat you in a race. I have to make up for you beating me before. Pumpkin can be our judge.”
“Sounds awesome!” Pound declared.
“We’ll run to that thing over there, loop around it, and then come back here.”
“Got it,” Pound said with a nod.
Pumpkin let out a heavy sigh. She was being excluded. AGAIN! Keeping her anger in check she agreed to be their judge.
Tree Leaf and Pound were on either side of her, their bodies bent and ready to start running. At Pumpkin’s signal they both took off. Pound was making great strides, but Tree Leaf immediately tripped and fell flat on his face.
Unable to hold it back Pumpkin let out a loud snort, thinking it served him right.
“Hey, wait!” Tree Leaf said. “No fair!”
But Pound wasn’t stopping. “Not my fault you tripped!” Pound called back.
Tree Leaf didn’t even bother to try and catch Pound. When Pound got close to the arch Tree Leaf turned to Pumpkin, seeing the satisfied look on her face. It was what he had been waiting for. “Look, you little brat,” he said nastily, making Pumpkin’s grin vanish at once. “I guess you just can’t take a hint. We don’t want you around, you killjoy. We were having a great time before you came along and ruined it. So why don't you just run along and stop bothering us?"
Pumpkin stomped her hoof, jerking her head toward him. “You’re still not over that? I’ve been giving you two space to play your stupid boy games.”
Tree Leaf shook his head. “You just don’t get it, do you? GET LOST!” He kicked a hooffull of sand at her, and she let out a cry of pain as a healthy portion of it landed right in her eyes.
She fell to the ground, hooves over her eyes as she scrabbled at them, trying to get the sand out.
Tree Leaf smirked. “That’s much better.” He began to merrily gallop towards the approaching Pound. “Hey, buddy!” he said cheerfully. “Good job on the race. You wanna try climbing this thing?”
Pound glanced around Tree Leaf. “What’s wrong with Pumpkin?”
Tree Leaf moved his head in front of Pounds. “Nothing serious. Probably got something in her eye. Such a silly pony.”
Pound pushed Tree Leaf out of his way. “I’m gonna go check on her.”
“Oh, why bother? She’s out of our hair now. It’s better this way.”
Pound turned sharply toward Tree Leaf. “Why would you say that? She’s my sister.”
“Don’t tell me she wasn’t annoying you too, being such a hanger-on?”
Pound had an uncomfortable feeling in his stomach. “Of course she annoys me sometimes. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about her.” With that he began walking toward Pumpkin, who was still frantically scrubbing at her eyes.
Tree Leaf rolled his eyes. “Maybe I was wrong about you, Pound. I thought you were cooler than this. I took care of the problem. I thought you’d be happier.”
Pound froze so hard mid-step that he fell flat on his face. Getting up in a heartbeat he rounded on Tree Leaf, his eyes narrowed. “Excuse me? YOU did this?”
Tree Leaf let out a derisive huff. “So what if I did?”
Pound felt the sting of betrayal. He thought he had a friend in Tree Leaf, but if the colt was going to bring harm to his sister then the colt was no friend of his. He slammed his hooves together. “Then I’ll beat the stuffing out of you!" he said in a deep voice.
Tree Leaf looked condescendingly at Pound. “Oh, so you want to go at it for real this time? I’m game. At least your useless lump of a sister won’t be able to interfere again.”
Pound felt a strange ringing in his ears as his anger ratcheted up. He didn’t care about Twilight’s stupid lessons anymore. He wanted vengeance! As he began charging toward the colt a solitary sound broke through the haze of his emotions: Pumpkin let out a loud wail, sobbing because she couldn’t see and couldn’t get the sand out. It was stinging like crazy and she could do nothing for it.
Pound paused in his dash. He shut his eyes tight, his body shaking with the desire to hurt the colt in front of him, to make him lose that cocky smile and make him pay for hurting his sister. But… his sister was behind him, howling in agony, and even his tremendous rage couldn’t surpass his desire to do something to stop Pumpkin’s cries.
With a great effort he forced himself to turn around. The first step was the hardest. He was so used to simply acting that he was having trouble not acting now when his mind was calling out for it. The second step was easier, and the third even more so.
When he reached Pumpkin he grabbed her and pulled her to her hooves. “Come on, Pumpkin,” he said roughly. “Take my hoof and everything will be okay.”
Pumpkin complied, and together they began walking.
“Where you going, you stinking coward?” Tree Leaf asked mockingly. “I’ve never seen such a pathetic pair of siblings in my life. Are you just naturally that way, or did you inherit it from your ugly mom?”
Pound paused, once again feeling a flush of wrath so intense it drowned out all thought. How dare that colt make fun of his mother? As he tried to spin around and pull away Pumpkin grabbed his hoof tighter, giving him a little tug to keep them moving.
It took every ounce of his limited skills not to turn around and just go give the colt what for, but the feel of Pumpkin’s hoof squeezing his cooled his head again enough for him to keep walking. Tree Leaf said a few more things but Pound was focusing only on Pumpkin and getting her to their parents, ignoring whatever other words the colt had to say.