• 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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19-18: A listening ear

Fluttershy hummed to herself as she poured food into the various bowls for her animals. Nearby Mayhem was cheerily doing the same. She heard a knock on the door and went to answer it.

To her surprise she saw Masky on her doorstep. He looked up at her with an awkward smile. “H-hello…”

With a bit of an icy tone she said, “Good morning. Shouldn’t you be in school?”

“I couldn’t bring myself to face Pumpkin.”

“Is that right?” she said flatly. “And what brings you all the way over here?”

“I wanted to talk to you.” He glanced toward Mayhem, who looked ready to fry him at a moment’s notice if he upset Fluttershy again.

“Is that a fact? I’m not the one you should be talking to. Pumpkin’s the one you hurt the most.”

“Do… do you hate me for what I did?” he asked, pain coloring his voice.

Her glare cracked. Looking into his eyes she saw something familiar. It took her a few seconds to place it, but she recognized it as being the same as Pound and Pumpkin had looked when they had ran away from home after being suspended. The two of them had been overwhelmed and all the ponies they would usually trust to be there emotionally were angry at them. When she had run into them they had such heavy looks to them that looked so out of place on a child, and she was seeing that same expression on Masky.

She understood that he came to her for the same reason the twins opened up to her: they each believed in her loving and kind nature. She could see he was in need of help and needed an outlet for his feelings. “Why don’t you come in?”

Masky hesitated, before gesturing her to come closer. Fluttershy lowered her head to him, and he whispered in her ear, “Um, I would, but your, um, son, looks like he wants to do something horrible to me if I get too close.”

She turned her head to Mayhem, seeing a furious expression on his face and his claw raised as if to cast a spell. “Mayhem!” she said in a scolding tone, making him flinch and look up at her. “Put that claw down, young man! Even though you didn’t act on it you shouldn’t so readily be prepared to attack others, even if you believe it’s for my sake. That’s one of the things that will prevent you from having the complete freedom to be out all the time that you desire. Understand me?”

Mayhem looked like he was about to defend himself, but then he lowered his arm and said, “Yes, Mommy,” he replied. “I’m sorry.”

“That’s better. Now come over here.” He walked until he was next to her, but Fluttershy pushed him a little until he was in front of her and the two boys were face to face. “Pound performed wonderfully yesterday. I want you to learn from his example. Attacking others when you’re mad when you could talk to them isn’t something I approve of. Until you can master your temper and your childish impulses you’ll always need to be restrained.”

Mayhem looked up at her, then at Masky. “You hurt Mommy. I don’t like you for that. If you hurt her again you’ll regret it. I’ll-”

“Mayheeem,” she said warningly.

He growled, gritting his teeth. “Please don’t upset her again, or I’ll be very sad.”

“Better.” She gave him a few pats on the head. “Now why don’t you finish feeding the animals while I go and talk with Masky?”

“I don’t want to leave you alone with him,” he protested.

“I appreciate your concern, but I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. I can handle things myself. Don’t you believe in me?” She gave him one of her sweetest smiles.

Mayhem smiled back at her. “Yes, I do. But I’m here if you need me.”

The little draconequus appeased, she took Masky upstairs to her room.

She sat on her bed, tapping her knees. Masky climbed up on them. “So what is it you want to talk about?”

“Do you really want to talk to me after what I did?”

It was a question that again reminded her of the twins. “I forgave Discord for mind-controlling me to turn against my friends and turning Ponyville into the ‘chaos capital of the world,’ and I forgave Mayhem for stealing the twin’s bodies and trying to use them to kill me and my friends. And if I can forgive them I can certainly forgive you. Compared to what they’ve done your crime is considerably less serious, wouldn’t you agree?”

Masky couldn’t argue with that logic. He nodded.

“However, that being said, this forgiveness isn’t free. If you want me to forgive you then you can’t just go right back to what you were doing before. I want you to be honest with me about what you're thinking and feeling. No more lies or deceptions. I can’t promise I’ll agree with what you say, but I do promise I will listen without judgment.”

It took a minute, but he started to talk. And then when he started, he found he couldn’t stop. He told her about loneliness and loss, about parents that didn’t have time to spend with him, how he felt powerless, and how he had adopted his persona simply to make the best of a bad situation.

He screamed and raged and cried, venting every one of the terrible thoughts that had gone through his mind until he grew too overwhelmed by it all to continue speaking coherent sentences and just broke down completely, burying his head into her chest as he sobbed uncontrollably.

Fluttershy felt horrible, crying along with him as she heard his story. She didn’t know what she had been expecting to hear, but it certainly wasn’t something so tragic. “Oh, you poor thing,” she said consolingly, rubbing his back.

Once more he got to experience her love, and it felt just as glorious as the first time. To have a caring adult focused completely on him and his feelings was so foreign to him, but it felt so right.

Mayhem peeked his head into the room before walking in, a somber look on his face. He sat on the bed next to Fluttershy, restlessly kicking a leg. “I didn’t know that things were that bad for you,” he said quietly.

Masky sniffed, looking over at Mayhem as he wiped his face.

“After how you got everyone upset I thought you were just a jerk, but you just needed a little Flutterlove like I did.”

Masky chuckled weakly. “Flutterlove?”

“Well, it’s what I do,” said Fluttershy with amusement.

“Now that I know about what you’ve been going through I understand why you did what you did,” said Mayhem. “So I think it’ll be okay for us to complete our deal that we made.”

“What deal?” asked Fluttershy.

“He asked me if he could have some of my power so he could fix his problems. I wasn’t sure if I should do it until you told me it was alright.”

Masky grimaced.

Fluttershy’s eyes widened. “W-w-what?” She shook her head. “I never said that!”

Mayhem looked at her questioningly. “Yes, you did.”

Fluttershy scanned her memories. Had she been distracted when she agreed to that? “Tell me what I said.”

Mayhem nodded. “I came up to you and asked if you would be proud of me if I shared my power with someone else, and you said you would be because we all share our gifts with each other.”

Fluttershy gasped. “Ooooohhhh.” She bit her hoof before taking a deep breath. “I said that, yes, but I had no idea that’s what you were proposing. I meant that using your gift to help others is good, not to literally give your power to someone else. After what happened with Pound and Pumpkin I don’t think it would be wise for anyone else to have the kind of power you and Discord have. Even you still need some practice controlling your feelings as we saw when Masky showed up today.”

Mayhem shrugged. “Okay, then. It doesn’t really make a difference.”

“Oh, yes, it does. I don’t want you to simply let him direct your actions either.”

Lifting up Masky she stood up and set him on the bed. “I understand what you were trying to accomplish, but forcing others to change won’t bring you happiness once you realize that it’s fake.”

Masky sighed. “Well, what else am I supposed to do?”

She sat down. “Let me ask you a question. You’re feeling neglected, and put on this big act so everyone thinks you’re cool. What do your parents say about your feelings?”

He shrugged. “Nothing. It doesn’t matter what I say.”

“I disagree. Why don’t you think it matters?”

“All it will change if I told them how I feel is that we’ll all be miserable instead of just me.”

“How do you figure?”

“It won’t matter if they feel bad. They still have to work. I’m sure they’d rather have a cushy life than to be homeless.”

Fluttershy shook her head. “You’re looking at things the wrong way. We’re all creatures of habit. Those habits only change when someone brings up a reason to change them. If you’ve presented the image that you enjoy the alone time because it makes you feel grown-up and responsible then what reason do your parents have to change their lifestyle?

“Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe your parents are tired of traveling around themselves, but keep going on for your sake?”

“Huh?” His eyebrow went up.

“I certainly can’t speak for your parents, as I’ve never met them, but let me propose a scenario for you. What if they’re also putting on an act? From what you’ve said they love their jobs and are good at what they do. But what if they’re tired of traveling around so much? Just like you can’t maintain a good friendship with ponies your age your parents can’t either. Have you thought that maybe the reason they continue traveling around is because of you?”

“Me?” he asked, pointing to himself.

“What is it that you frequently mentioned during our outing to the park? Your photo album. You’ve experienced enough adventures for several lifetimes worth of ponies. Pound and Pumpkin have never even left Ponyville, and their only claim to fame is being in good with a princess, and only then through Pinkie Pie.

“Perhaps they travel to make you happy and to keep showing you the best Equestria has to offer. Maybe they consider their frequent travels as an act of love for you, throwing away their own chances to make lifelong friends.”

“Mmmm…” He hadn’t thought about the fact that his parents couldn’t keep their friends either.

“Either way it goes it’s clear you’re at your limit. You speak of fear about their jobs, but there’s more than one job in the world. Maybe they could start their own company in Ponyville, or maybe they could ask their boss for less frequent transfers. If you want things to change that is going to require you to actually speak up and be honest about your feelings just like you did with me. Otherwise things will just stay exactly the same.”

She rubbed his chin. “It’s up to you now. There are all sorts of possibilities that can solve your problem naturally. You never needed reality warping powers. The power can come from you alone by opening your heart to your parents.”

He stared at her for a while before looking away. “What if… what if I’m honest with my parents, and nothing changes?”

“If nothing changes you’ll be no worse off than you are now, but I doubt that absolutely nothing will change. I can’t promise any particular outcome, but if your parents truly love you then they’ll account for your feelings accordingly. Even if you don’t get what you want at least you’ll know you give it your all.

“I can see it, just like when the twins were having trouble. You’re not a bad pony. You were just lacking in proper guidance. I’ve seen what the twins are capable of when they need to be strong, and so I know I can believe in you too. You CAN do this. You just have to believe in yourself, and in your parents. After all, if you weren’t honest with me how could I have offered you this advice? And if you can drop your guard and be honest once, then I’m sure you can do it twice.” She beamed at him.

Masky let out a slow breath. “I guess so. I’m just a little scared.”

“And that’s fine. It’s not a crime to be scared. I’m scared of lots of things, but sometimes you just have to push forward and face those fears.

“I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you hang out here with me today? I’ll provide you with the encouragement you need to do what needs to be done.”

He gave a teary nod. “Sounds good.” He lifted his hooves for a hug, and Fluttershy picked him up and went over to her rocking chair, moving back and forth as she snuggled with him.

“It feels nice, doesn’t it?”

“Yes,” he answered sincerely.

“Just think that you might have this all the time if you’re open with your parents. I know that you’ve been feeling hopeless lately, but there’s no need to feel hopeless until you've exhausted every possibility. You just have to believe that things can change for the better. As long as you maintain your 'what does it matter' attitude you'll never get what you want.”

“Mmm-hmmm.” He let out a yawn. “I wish every pony could be as nice as you. Then we wouldn’t have any problems in the world.”

“Aww, thank you, but I hardly think a world full of ponies like me would be ideal. I’ll step up when I need to protect my friends, but I’m not very brave. When it comes to just me I’m not very good at speaking up or being tough.”

He yawned again. “Well, that’s fine," he said sleepily. "One of you is enough for me.”

“Tired, huh? I’m guessing you didn’t have a very pleasant night.”

“No,” he mumbled. "I cried a lot and barely got a wink."

“I understand. Why don’t you take a nap with me? Me and Mayhem just got done feeding the animals, and we don’t have any plans today, so you can spend the day with us.”

Masky let out a sleepy groan, nuzzling Fluttershy’s fur. "Okay."

Mayhem let out a tiny whimper. He wanted to cuddle too, but he also didn’t want to disturb Masky.

Fluttershy heard him. “Come on, Mayhem. This lap seats two.”

He let out a happy squeal as Fluttershy moved one of her front legs so he could come on up as well.

When he was situated he levitated a blanket over for them.

Masky felt so comfortable he didn’t want to move. It had been too long since he had shared a loving embrace like this. He had shut himself away because it had become too painful to care, but not caring had become even more painful than that. He didn’t want to leave Fluttershy behind. And if he could make things up to Pumpkin and Pound he didn’t want to leave them either. There was so much he could learn from this town. He wanted to stay.

As she said he was responsible for what came next. All he could do was tell his parents his true thoughts, and hope that they would be receptive.

That would come later, though. For now he just wanted to rest in Fluttershy’s loving hooves.

Fluttershy hummed to herself when Masky started snoring. For the moment he was at peace, and it warmed her heart.

“Sleep well, my little angel,” she whispered, kissing him on his forehead.

Author's Note:

And so the healing process has begun. Next chapter he attempts to make amends with Pumpkin.

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