• Published 10th May 2014
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Pound and Pumpkin Tales 1 - Never2muchpinkie



Set a few years into the future, six year old Pound and Pumpkin have a lot of growing up to do. They fight and make up, make mistakes and learn lessons, and love and protect each other as much as they get on each other's nerves.

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13-4: Making amends

Pound was continuously nuzzling Fluttershy, both loving the feeling of her warm hold and to let her know that he was happy with her and loved her.

Fluttershy just kept holding him, her eyes closed, content that the Pound she knew and loved had returned. She just didn’t want to let him go. After his suggestion that she and Rainbow Dash were going to orchestrate his death and pretend it was an accident, it was such a beautiful thing to have the real Pound back with her, and she didn’t want to release him anytime soon.

“I love you, Fluttershy,” he said contentedly.

“And I love you, Pound Cake,” she replied in the same tone. “You’re one of the biggest joys of my life.”

“I’m really, really, really sorry,” he said in a shaky voice as he started to cry again. “I-”

“Shhh,” she said gently. “No sadness right now. I forgive you, Pound. I already told you I knew that wasn’t the real Pound Cake with me before. It was probably a Changeling or something.”

Despite himself Pound giggled at that. He closed his eyes as he snuggled with her.

About ten minutes later Fluttershy interrupted his serenity. “Pound, honey?”

“Mmm?”

“You know, I’m not the only one that needs an apology.”

Pound immediately became consumed with guilt, his stomach feeling like someone was squeezing it with all their might. “O-oh… right.”

Fluttershy set him down, and the colt walked over to Rainbow Dash, who had gone back to her reading while they had been cuddling. Hugging her leg he said, “I’m sorry, Rainbow Dash, for being a big brat and calling you names.”

She shook her hoof at him, not looking at him. “You made up with Fluttershy. That’s enough for me. Now go on and make things right with your family.”

Pound slowly let go of her, letting out a little moan, unsure if she was actually being truthful.

“Rainbow Dash,” said Fluttershy meaningfully.

“Right, right,” Rainbow said, getting the message before she even looked. Setting the book down she picked him up and gave him a slight hug. “I forgive you, Pound. Is that enough now? I’m almost at the best part of the book.”

He nodded.

“Rainbow Dash, why don’t you come with us?” said Fluttershy.

Rainbow looked at her book longingly. “Do I have to?”

“I would appreciate it very much if you did. I don’t know the specifics of what you said to Pound, so it would help to move the conversation with his family along if need be.”

Rainbow sighed, putting a bookmark in it and closing it. “Okay, then. Let’s go.” She hopped off the couch and helped Pound onto Fluttershy’s back. Once Pound was secure and holding on tight the two took off.

Cup Cake heard a knocking on the door. She had been pacing around for the past hour, unable to commit to anything. She had kept flitting between activities, quickly abandoning them. She had temporarily shut down the shop because she just couldn’t focus on baking and transactions with her worry over her son.

Walking over to the door she opened it, seeing Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash. She saw Fluttershy looked serene, and her worries dissolved away. She craned her head a little to the side, but didn’t see Pound on her back, so she looked down, and saw the young colt standing there looking at the ground, gentle as a kitten.

“Hello, Cup Cake,” Fluttershy said genially. “Can you gather everyone in the living room?”

“Oh! Of course,” she said, straining to pull her eyes off her son and comply.

A few minutes later everyone came out from their rooms for the meeting. Each of them had been lost in their own world.

Once everyone had sat down they all got a good look at Pound. He was still just looking at the ground, a miserable look on his face.

“Pound,” his mother said gently, “would you please tell us now what this has all been about?”

The question made his insides burn with guilt and shame, and tears began to drip down onto the floor. He was quiet, once more feeling like he didn’t know the words to say to explain everything, feeling like having a year of uninterrupted talking time wouldn’t be enough to get it all out.

Fluttershy saw he was having trouble. “Pound,” she called out, “would you like me to start things off?”

He looked at her uncertainly for a few seconds, then nodded, going back to staring at the floor.

Fluttershy looked up at the crowd. “This all happened because of his incident with Tree Leaf a few days ago.”

“Tree Leaf?” Pumpkin said nastily. “What does he have to do with this? I thought Pound already agreed it was better that he didn’t use violence to solve his problems.”

“Correct,” Fluttershy replied, nodding. “And that aspect of things doesn’t have anything to do with it.”

“So then what is it?” asked Pinkie. “After he talked with Twilight he was fine the rest of the day.”

“Because the realization didn’t sink in right away. Pinkie, I’m sorry to say this, but I believe that, unintentionally of course, you played the greatest part in this.”

“WHAT?” she protested. “What did I do?”

“Well, let me start at the beginning. Pound has been acting like this because Tree Leaf disturbed his world view. To a kid life is simple, and as they learn about the world they start discovering the basic truths of it: mom and dad are the rule makers, it feels good to be hugged and kissed, etc. Prevalent among those is their take on good and evil, and right and wrong. Good ponies are nice, and rude ponies are jerks. And evil ponies are ones that threaten not just your good mood, but ponies lives and Equestria as well. Though we may get into fights or arguments with those we love those things are only temporary, and so we expect forgiveness at the end of the road when we realize our error and apologize.

“However, Tree Leaf caused an uncomfortable shift in his security. Pound had been having a great time with him. He had finally made a friend, someone besides his sister to hang out with, and someone who didn’t care if he could fly or not. In other words, he was a good pony, and Pound was likely already envisioning all the benefits of that. He was probably thinking that Pinkie was going to be so proud of him for making a friend, as he holds you up as one of his strongest role models.”

Pound shifted uncomfortably.

“But then Tree Leaf showed his true colors. He threw sand at Pumpkin’s eyes to try and get her to leave. Now things became that he was a bad pony who was only masquerading as a good pony. Living with a pony like Pinkie, who is almost infinitely optimistic and has the ability to befriend anyone if she puts her mind to it, only made the first cut deeper because he probably grew up overly optimistic. Pinkie, being friends with basically everyone she knows, even if they’re not super close, probably gave Pound the notion that friendships are easy, and he had no clue that sometimes friends aren’t always what you think they are, so he gave his whole heart away without a care.”

“Okay!” said Pumpkin. “So Pound was upset because he got a fake friend. That doesn’t explain why he’s been a total jerk to everyone the past couple of days!” Pumpkin rubbed the side of her head, feeling the bump from where she had hit her head when Pound had shoved her. “Some hero you turned out to be! You betrayed me too, stupid! And how do you think I feel about that?”

Pound sniffed as he sank to the ground and began crying in his hooves.

“Please calm down, Pumpkin,” said Fluttershy in a soothing voice, getting off the couch and picking Pound up. He tried to fight her off but she was insistent, pulling him close to her as she sat down on the floor, leaning against the couch. “There, there, Pound. It’s okay.”

“Hmph!” Pumpkin crossed her hooves, giving a look so reminiscent of Pounds it was scary. “Why should I care about how he feels? He doesn’t care about how I feel.”

Pound squeezed her tighter, starting to shake as he cried harder against her.

“That’s not true, Pumpkin,” Fluttershy said insistently. “Please just listen.”

She hopped off the couch, pointing angrily at him. “Why should I listen? We all tried to help him before, but he just kept breaking everything in sight and yelling at us and saying nasty things. But NOW he expects us to want to listen to him? He’s such a coward he’s just gonna sit there and hide behind Fluttershy because he’s too weak to tell us himself.”

“Pumpkin, please,” said Pinkie, trying to put a comforting hoof on her shoulder, but Pumpkin threw it off.

“NO!” she yelled. “He got to yell and make a big jerk of himself, but now that I want to complain and let MY feelings out it’s suddenly wrong? Everyone should just care more about Pound because now he’s sorry? Maybe I’ll think about forgiving him when I can slam HIS head into a glass cabinet or give HIM a nice big bruise.”

Rainbow let out a huge huff before flying off the couch and landing in front of her. “That’s enough!” she said sharply over the sound of Pound’s increasingly loud cries. “You don’t understand anything. This isn’t about whose feelings is more important. This is about understanding one another. If you had just sat down and listened like you were told this could have been over already.” Pumpkin gave her a dirty look, and Rainbow cut her off as she went to speak. “No! I don’t want to hear it. I’m sick of your whining. I already dealt with your brother when he tried to smart off at me. Don’t think I won’t throw you up onto the chandelier and wait until you’re ready to be more cooperative.”

Pumpkin gulped, thrown off by Rainbow's threat. Unable to find an effective counter she suddenly turned to her parents, pointing at Rainbow. “Hey! Are you gonna let her talk to me like that?”

Cup Cake and Carrot Cake looked at each other awkwardly, unsure of what to do to defuse things.

Rainbow grabbed Pumpkin’s head, pulling it back toward her. “Don’t be a hypocrite. You just insulted your brother for hiding behind Fluttershy, and now you’re trying to hide behind your parents because you know I’m not soft enough to just let you behave any way you want. If you actually understood what was going on like I did you wouldn’t be saying a word. And the reason you don’t know is because you wouldn’t just listen.

“Now sit down, be quiet, and just listen, and maybe you’ll learn something, brat.”

The two of them glared at each other, but Rainbow was the first to look away. She felt something pulling at her back leg, and when she looked she saw Pound there.

“That’s enough, Rainbow Dash!” Pound said, sounding a little miffed. “Stop picking on Pumpkin. She has every right to be mad at me for what I did.”

“Huh?” said Pumpkin, tilting her head a little to look at Pound curiously.

Rainbow looked at him for a few seconds more before casually releasing Pumpkin and shrugging. “Fine. You want the floor, kid, then it’s all yours.” Hopping up she flapped a few times to get back to her spot.

Pumpkin looked at her brother uncertainly. Was her brother really back to normal? It couldn’t hurt to just listen to what he had to say… would it? Without a word she pulled herself back onto the couch and rested her back against it, her hooves pressed against each other and sitting quietly.

Pound sighed, looking at the floor once again but seeming a little more secure. “Fluttershy was right,” he said in a calm voice. “I grew up hearing about friendship and how it was the most important thing in our world. Auntie Pinkie has tons of friends, and Twilight is a princess focused on bringing friendship to others. Of course I had friends, but they were just friends of friends, like Fluttershy or Applejack. I never made my own friends, by myself. Now that I’m going to school I thought it would be a good time for that to happen. Of course we got kicked out of school on our first day, so I didn’t really get a chance to get to know anyone. And because of all the trouble I’ve been getting in I haven’t been allowed to go back to try.

“When I met Tree Leaf he seemed to be a colt like me. He liked to mess around and be sarcastic and play games. We began to wrestle and show off and I was having so much fun.” He sighed again as a tear came down his eye. “Pumpkin thought we were actually fighting and broke us up, and I got a little annoyed at her until she told me she was just trying to keep me out of trouble.

“The three of us began playing games together, and I didn’t think anything was wrong. I was having fun and he was having fun, and I thought Pumpkin was having fun too. I thought I finally had a real friend just like Auntie Pinkie and Fluttershy had with each other.” He looked up at them, his vision blurry as tears formed in his eyes. “But then he broke my heart by throwing my kindness back in my face and attacking Pumpkin. He tried to get me to fight with him and then insulted my mom and Pumpkin when I decided to leave and tell an adult.

“I thought that because of growing up with Auntie Pinkie that when you meet a friend then you’re friends for life. You’d have little fights here and there, but you’d still be friends at the end of the day. But he betrayed me and hurt my sister. And I thought that maybe he had just gotten bored of Pumpkin or something later on, but Pumpkin told me that night that he had been doing things to exclude her from our fun from the start so he could try to only play with me.”

His face scrunched up, and he yelled out, “THE WHOLE TIME HE HAD BEEN A JERK! AND I DIDN'T EVEN NOTICE! I trusted him and thought he was great, but I didn’t even notice he was hurting Pumpkin the whole time!” He began panting, taking in shaky breaths.

Pound began pacing back and forth, huffing and puffing. “I didn’t notice at all that Pumpkin was getting frustrated. I didn’t notice anything. And it hurt. It hurt so badly when I realized how dumb I was. If I couldn’t even recognize when someone was just pretending to be nice then how could I know I could trust other ponies my own age? I began to get more and more scared, and I didn’t like to be so scared, and so I began getting angry. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know who I could talk to. I… I just… I didn’t…” His voice faded out as he suddenly sank to the floor.

“Pound,” Pumpkin said quietly, a few tears now dripping down her own face.

Cup Cake and Carrot Cake were holding onto each other, starting to understand his pain now.

Pinkie felt a dull burning inside her heart. She was so used to making friends that it was second nature for her to expect the best of them. She had never once warned Pound about the possibilities of fake friends or being hurt by one.

Fluttershy got up and walked over to him, pulling him over to her again. This time he didn’t fight back and just held her as he quietly cried. “This was his first experience with real betrayal. As he said he’s not so oblivious that he expects friendships to be absolutely perfect, but when you’re friends with a pony you expect certain things of them.

“Pound realized that he couldn’t really tell a trustworthy pony from an untrustworthy pony apart, and that was terrifying for him because it shook his world view of ponies to the core. A pony that seemed very nice on the surface and just like him turned out to be betraying him from the beginning.

“With that shift of thought came an even more terrifying question: who can I trust? If someone could put on an act of loving and caring for him then suddenly reveal it was only an act then anyone could potentially be a pretender.

“Do you recall Pound’s most popular phrase since his trip to the beach?”

Carrot Cake said, “That he ‘knows.’”

Fluttershy nodded. “He ‘knew’ that you were all just faking your love of him, waiting for the right chance to betray him, for the time when it would hurt the most.”

“How could he think that?” Pumpkin asked in a hurt voice. “After all we’ve been through together?”

“Quite right, Pumpkin,” Fluttershy said, nodding again. “All of you do have quite a history together, and although Pound was reeling with thoughts of doubt he still couldn’t deny the love you shared. Unless, of course, you ‘proved’ he was right.”

Cup Cake gasped, putting a hoof to her mouth as she understood. “Thus the bad, uncontrollable behavior.”

Pumpkin looked between Fluttershy and her mother, trying to follow along this train of thought. “What do you mean?”

Fluttershy turned to Pumpkin and replied, “He trusted all of you too much to just throw you away. The only way he could give up that trust was to put you in a position where you showed you didn’t really like him. What was the easiest way to accomplish that? By misbehaving. Of course since that incident where you two ran away your household has shifted in their discipline methods, attempting to stay completely calm and just be understanding, and listening without judging. While it may lead to more verbal abuse it certainly solves things faster than throwing you in your room and removing privileges did.

“But,” Fluttershy gave them a sad smile, “your parents, and you, are still ponies, and so you only have so much patience and time to dedicate. Which means, given enough time-”

“He’d wear us down and get us to lose our temper,” Carrot said heavily. “’It’s easy now, right?’ That was another of Pound’s frequent lines. He seemed to be acting deliberately to get negative attention and trying to be positive only led to him acting even worse so he’d finally get the reaction he wanted.”

Pinkie sighed and rested her head on her hoof. “And as time went on we’d come to expect his behavior and so we’d have less patience for it, as we couldn’t just let him destroy everything and hurt Pumpkin or the customers."

Cup Cake spoke up. “That weird laugh of his… every time we gave in to his actions and yelled or punished him he would get this twisted laugh. When he got what he wanted he would feel a sense of satisfaction that he was ‘right,’ but at the same time it had to have hurt even more to think that his family didn’t really care for him.”

Fluttershy turned Pound around so he was facing them, gently rocking her body as she put her hooves around his stomach. “When he came to my house he did the same thing, doing his best to get under my skin. He tried to go after my animals since he knew it was my weak spot, but I didn’t give in. I hugged him close to me and told him I would always love him. He didn’t like that, obviously, as I wasn’t being ‘truthful.’ When he brought up that he didn’t trust me anymore, or any of you, it made me think. He wasn’t specifically targeting me, but everyone in his life. The last time I saw him before the beach was after he had run away, and it was with my help that he made amends with you. When I thought about what could have happened that would make him start doubting other ponies the answer became obvious, and so I took him to Rainbow Dash.”

“Why her?” asked Pumpkin.

“Well, Pumpkin, you weren’t born at the time, but she had had a nasty experience much like Pound did where someone she thought of as a friend turned against her.”

“Gilda!” Pinkie said, understanding.

“Right,” she said, nodding. “I knew the only pony that could truly help Pound was someone who really understood his pain.”

Rainbow Dash grinned. “Yeah. He tried to cop his attitude with me too, but I sure found a way to get him to stop. Didn’t I, Pound?”

Pound let out a nervous laugh. “Yep.”

Cup Cake started to ask what she had done, but then she decided she didn’t want to know.

“His interest only kicked in when he heard about how Gilda had been hurting my friends behind my back. From there it was all smooth sailing.”

Pound pulled out of Fluttershy’s hold, standing up again. “She told me that I should be more careful with who I trust, and believe in those who keep proving to me they earned it.” He stomach began hurting again as he saw the purple-black blotches on Pumpkin’s cheek. Looking around the room it was like he could see the things that used to be there: picture frames, vases… anything he could break to get a reaction from them.

He heard Pumpkin’s hateful words about how he had betrayed her as badly as Tree Leaf had done to him, and he wondered how they felt about him now, after all the horrible things he had done. Maybe he had succeeded in what he had been trying to do. He felt cold seeping into his being. His breaths grew shorter as his fear overtook him again and he began wailing. “I’M SOR-REE-HEE-HEE!” He fell to the ground, holding his hooves on his face. “I’m so sorry! Please don’t hate me-eee-eee!”

As one Pumpkin, Pinkie, Cup, and Carrot hopped off the couch and were on him in an instant, all squeezing him into a group hug, crying just like him.

“Pound, you dummyhead!” Pumpkin said thickly. “I-I-I still love you.”

“Y-yeah!” Pinkie agreed. “I Pinkie Promised I’d always love you, and I could never break that.”

“You’re our son,” said Cup Cake, placing a kiss on his forehead. “And that’s never gonna change. We’re always going to be there for you.”

“Because that’s the most important thing for a parent,” said Carrot

Fluttershy stood up and joined them. “All we want is for you to be happy, Pound. We all knew that wasn’t the real you.”

“Yes, we forgive you, Pound” said Cup Cake, nuzzling his cheek with her own.

Pound looked at all of them in turn, his sobs growing quieter. “T-t-thank you,” he said with a tiny smile.

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