• 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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19-2: Improving and infatuation

After the lesson about the Wonderbolts the class followed their teacher outside for flying practice. Pound kept taking deep breaths along the way. He kept repeating what Scootaloo had told him. His fate was in his hooves. If he was truly an ugly duckling it was up to him to become a swan. He had to believe in himself and stop relying so much on others encouragement to make him feel good.

Once they got to their usual grassy space Pound followed along with the class as they did their warm-up exercises, stretching his wings out and rotating them in their sockets. ‘I’m an ugly duckling, I’m an ugly duckling…’

He took a deep breath, stretched his wings out, bent his knees, and then jumped in the air as he flapped. He strained himself, but only stayed airborne for about a second before landing.

He heard the usual snickering from Drill Bit, the best flier in the class, as he did loop-de-loops twenty feet above them. Even though the rest of them were mainly just hovering and going forward rather than upward he still heard some snickers from his other classmates.

He felt that usual stab in his self-esteem, but he forced himself to focus and repeat again, “I’m an ugly duckling” under his breath. He took a bit of a running start this time, which only made things worse as his momentum carried him forward when he tried to take off, making him skid painfully across the ground.

Nimble settled the class down as they started laughing at his error, helping Pound up. “Are you alright, Pound?”

“I’m fine!” he said roughly as he pulled away from her. He didn’t need to be babied.

“Very well. Let’s work on some exercises that will strengthen your wing muscles.”

“I don’t need help!” He turned around and got on the ground, slowly doing a wing-up.

“I’m here to help you, Pound,” she said gently. “That’s my job.”

“Well, do what you want,” he said disinterestedly. “I’m busy.”

Nimble walked around to the front of him, leaning down and observing him. She could tell he was feeling left behind by the others, so she really wanted to see him improve.

Pound had done about ten wing-ups, but even that was taxing on him. It felt very awkward. He wished his teacher would go away. The last thing he needed was to get a teacher’s pet insult next.

He let out a cry of surprise as he was picked up and placed in a sitting position. “Pound,” said Ms. Nimble, “In watching you I see you have a grasp of the basics, but your issue is one of lacking uniformity.”

“Huh?” he replied.

“Watch me.” She lay down in front of him, pushing her wings underneath her. She pushed herself up and down a few times. “A proper wing-up requires simultaneous lifting on both sides, keeping weight distribution even.

“However, the way you lift is off.” This time as she lifted herself up she pushed up on one wing harder than the other, leaving her a little lopsided, which got repeated on the opposite side before she fully lifted herself.

“Lifting both sides at the same time is essential for a proper wing-up, especially if you want to get the most out of the exercise. If one wing is stronger than the other it will offset your balance and make it difficult for you to maintain air.”

Pound wanted to get annoyed and insult himself for screwing up, but he kept himself grounded. He had to pay attention and use whatever he could to improve. “Can you help me?” he asked.

“Of course,” she replied.

At first she sat in front of him, and he just tried to copy her movements, but more often than not he’d use his lopsided way of pushing up, so she eventually called over another of the students to do the modeling while she sat behind him. She put her hooves on his back so he’d keep straight.

Pound was glad she hadn’t called over one of his bullies. He watched the filly, Starry Sky, pushing herself up, and he tried to match her movements. Every time he began to tilt and try to push one side higher than the other Ms. Nimble would put pressure on the higher side until he was straight again.

When Starry got tired she was replaced with a colt named Orchid Blossom. Pound went through the same process, improving bit by bit of keeping himself straight.

Even after she was replaced Starry stayed there watching Pound’s progress. She would laugh at his screw-ups like everyone else, but she didn’t have anything against him. She was certainly no future Wonderbolt herself, and secretly hoped Pound would just get his act together and fly already. She was scarcely past hovering herself, and she knew ponies like Drill Bit wouldn’t listen to anyone less talented than themselves. Maybe it wasn’t right to think, but she was glad there was at least one pony worse than her so she wouldn’t be picked on.

After fifteen minutes Ms. Nimble took her hooves away, giving Pound the chance to practice doing it himself. Starry took the place of Orchid, letting him rest now.

Pound kept a close eye on Starry, doing his best to match her movements. With his teacher keeping him from his lopsided approach to wing-ups he had a better feeling for the way he should be doing it, so it was easier to catch himself when he began to sink into his old way.

“Much better, Pound,” said Ms. Nimble approvingly. “Much, much, better.”

Pound smiled at the encouragement.

Orchid and Starry swapped as needed, and by the end of the period he more or less had the proper method down. His wings were kinda sore since he only took some short breaks, but the effort was worth it.

“It looks like you’ve really improved,” Orchid said as they headed back inside.

“Yeah, you’re getting there,” Starry said. “Soon enough you’ll get off the ground.”

“I sure hope so,” said Pound, glad at least some of his classmates weren’t complete jerks.

“Way to go, Baby Cake,” Drill said as he walked by, mussing up Pound’s hair. “You’ve finally gotten good at something. Took long enough.”

Him and his cronies laughed as they walked past.

Pound took a deep breath, repeating his new mantra. He was an ugly duckling. They were ahead of him right now, but because he wouldn’t stop trying to improve he’d eventually blow them out of the water.

“Aw, don’t listen to those jerks,” Orchid said, scowling after them. “They think they’re such hot stuff just because they’re a little more talented than us.”

Pound sighed. Believing in himself was hard.

***

Pumpkin was humming softly to herself. Their teacher had asked them to split into pairs for their next assignment. She had immediately thrown her hoof into the air. “I get Masky!”

Sparkler had giggled. “Well, I’m glad you’ve taken an interest in our new student. I’d hate for him to feel left out.”

And that was that. He didn’t object to their partnership either, so she got her wish.

Their assignment was about teamwork, as well as testing their levitation skills. They were given a variety of objects, and tasked with building as large an object as they could before the period ended. It didn’t allow much room for talking, but the teamwork aspect was easy. When one pony was placing an object up top the other was keeping an eye on the base to ensure it was steady.

All of them were stealing glances at each other’s towers as they worked on their own. From time to time there would be a crash, a cascade of objects falling down if the partner couldn’t steady it in time.

Pumpkin nearly screwed things up for the both of them. As the contest went on the high intensity adrenaline of competition faded, and she found herself staring at Masky again. Without his shades he had such beautiful purple eyes. His tongue was sticking out of his mouth as he concentrated on getting the next piece up. As he set it down the tower wobbled a little, but didn’t tumble.

Pumpkin absent-mindedly grabbed the next piece at random, barely taking her eyes off him. She felt an urge to rub her hooves through his hair.

“Hey, Pumpkin! Focus!”

The piece she was lifting hit right into the side of the middle of the tower. Masky’s horn glowed brightly, surrounding the structure and steadying it.

“Woooow,” she said dreamily. “That was so impressive. Just like everything else about you.” She let out a contented “Mmmm.” Her cheeks were bright with passion.

Masky looked at her oddly. Even though he was experienced in many things kids his age hadn’t done he was having trouble piecing together the way Pumpkin was looking at him. Was she actually in love with him? He could practically see the hearts floating above her head.

It was odd for sure, but not really unpleasant. “Come on, now. I want to win this thing. If you can’t focus I might just go find another partner.”

That snapped her out of her reverie. She shook her head, saying quickly, “No no no! I’m good. I’m on it!” She didn’t want to get him upset with her when they were doing so well.

She put her full focus on building up their tower, but in the back of her mind she was still wondering about what had gotten into her.

Around them came several crashes over the next few minutes, major progress lost. Masky knocked over a small portion of the top of their tower, but she managed to keep it from tumbling completely.

When the bell rang for the end of the period they compared towers, and her and Masky were the clear winners.

“Way to go, you two,” said Sparkler. “Very good teamwork on your part.”

Masky pumped his hooves. “Oh, yeah!” He put his hooves out to Pumpkin, and she slapped them.

“That was pretty cool,” Pumpkin admitted.

At lunchtime she grabbed a hayburger and an apple before dragging Masky over to a corner table for some relative privacy.

Masky noticed Pumpkin just staring longingly at him again, and felt it was time to address the issue. “So, Pumpkin…” He leaned forward a bit.

Pumpkin froze, her face getting red-hot again. Was he about to kiss her?

“Well, I don’t mean to be blunt, but you’re, like, totally in love with me.”

Pumpkin giggled, her voice higher-pitched as she shook her head and covered her blushing face. “No way!” she declared. “I… I just… oh, no…” She had vaguely grasped what was going on, but she had only ever experienced familial love before. Romantic love was completely foreign to her. It explained why she was acting and feeling so funny. “Oh, you don’t hate me for it, do you?” She couldn’t stop herself from giggling.

Before he could respond she heard a familiar voice calling her name. She glanced over and saw Pound carrying a lunch tray. “What are you doing all the way over here?”

Pumpkin glared at him. “Go away!” she said coldly. “I’m busy here.”

Pound was hurt. He hadn’t done anything to deserve that kind of reaction. “What’s your problem? We always eat lunch together.”

Her eyes narrowed further. “Well, not today! Alright? I’m spending some time with our new student, so stop being a jealous twit and go find someone else to eat lunch with.” She waved her hoof dismisssively. “Goodbye!”

A tear came down his eye, but he spun around and stomped off. “Fine, then. Jerk!” He practically threw his tray on the table as he took a seat by Starry Sky, silently fuming.

Pumpkin rolled her eyes. “Always such a drama queen,” she said under her breath, before turning back to Masky. “You were saying?”

Masky had followed Pound’s progress. “So who was that? Last month’s model?”

“Huh?” she replied, an eyebrow going up.

“That your last boyfriend or something?”

“Blech!” she responded with disgust. “That’s my brother! Gross.”

“Ah,” he replied with a shrug. “That was pretty harsh, you know.”

Some part of her knew that, but she pushed it aside. “Oh, forget about him.” She put her hoof on his. “Let’s talk about you.”

“Well, it is one of my favorite topics.” He winked at her. “Although I do think you should go mend your brother’s ego once he cools off.”

Pumpkin stole a glance at Pound, who she could see was making sure his potatoes were extra mashed, if his slamming motions were anything to go by. “Point taken.” She didn’t want to talk about Pound when she had Masky to herself, but she found herself talking anyway. “He’s a total dork. He’s the only kid in his class who can’t fly yet, and so he’s always getting picked on by some jerks.”

Masky leaned back, putting his hooves behind his head and leaning against the wall behind him. “That so? Sure sounds like a loser. And what about the ones that pick on him?”

“Never get in trouble because they’re smart enough not to do it with the teacher nearby.”

“So what are you doing about it?”

“What am I supposed to do about it?”

“Hmm.” He leaned forward again, putting his head on his hoof. “Then what good is all this love and tolerance garbage that our princesses spout?” He had that expression again, the one he had worn earlier when he talked about how his parents wouldn’t put him in danger since they cared about him. “I think you should take care of them.”

“Take care of them how?”

“You know,” he said in a bored voice, “teach them a lesson.”

“Are you telling me to beat them up?”

“No, but bullies need to be taught a lesson, or they’ll think they can get away with it. Try to talk them down, and if that doesn’t work then hold them accountable for their evil deeds.”

“And… do what? I was already almost expelled for fighting once.”

“Who said you have to fight them?” He looked around, but there wasn’t anyone else close to them. He leaned toward her, gesturing her forward with his hoof.

Pumpkin leaned forward, putting her ear out toward him, curious.

“Look,” he whispered, “bad behavior can’t be tolerated. If he won’t come around willingly then help give him the punishment he deserves by making it seem like he did something to you.”

Pumpkin backed up a bit, her head tilted. She glanced around again, but they were still alone. “You mean lie?” she whispered. “That doesn’t seem right.”

“But watching your brother getting mercilessly attacked every day while your teacher also does zilch to fix the problem is?”

Pumpkin blinked, unable to find a counter to that.

He put a hoof on her head, pulling her closer again. “There’s nothing to feel bad about. Like I said you’re not really doing anything wrong. All you’d be doing is making sure he gets the punishment he’s been avoiding by being sneaky. What’s wrong with that?

“I can tell you’re captivated with me, but if you can’t even stick up for your family I don’t know if I’d be able to believe you can care about others. I’d find it really heroic to watch you going out of your way to help your brother.”

She thought of what he was asking. She didn’t object to protecting her brother, but setting someone up wasn’t her style. “I don’t know.” She rubbed a hoof in a circle on the table.

“I’ll tell you what. Why don’t I give you some encouragement?”

Her eyebrow went up. “What do you mean by-”

She went stock-still as he pushed her head so they were face to face, and then planted a kiss on her lips. He took a hold of her hoof with one of his own, while the other he ran through her mane.

He pulled away from her. “There’s more where that came from if you show me you’re worthy of it.”

Pumpkin was immobile. The kiss had been so sudden she hadn’t been prepared for it. As her mind caught up to her body she had to restrain herself from shrieking with delight in front of the whole cafeteria. “Eee-hee-heeeee!” She swayed back and forth, moving up and down rapidly. “I can’t believe you just did that!” She giggled repeatedly, her heart soaring to the heavens. Her first kiss! And with someone so cool and cute!

“Well, hey,” he responded nonchalantly, putting on his shades again, “it’s what I do.”

“I’ll do it,” she said, once more feeling her heartbeat going up. She sighed, her infatuation growing stronger all the while.

Author's Note:

This seems like it has the potential to go very, very wrong. Does Masky actually care about her, or is he just playing another role?

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