• Published 1st Feb 2018
  • 1,897 Views, 90 Comments

Heteropaternal Superfecundation - Thornquill



When Sugarcube Corner burns down, Sunburst & Hoops are the last ponies that ought to be affected. But if the past can't be buried again, even Ponyville's model family may be shattered forever.

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Chapter 10 - To Reach Out

Cupcake crumpled a page between her hooves. She felt it tear a little as she crushed it, then she brushed it across the kitchen counter and into a trash bin. This is ridiculous. Everyone knows now, right? Ruining one more relationship shouldn’t be a hard thing to do by now. Even so, she just couldn’t seem to put what had happened into words she could bear to send to her parents. Something about writing felt nauseatingly ominous to her. After all, a letter was what had started the final breakdown of everything she had ever tried to hold together.

She could make the argument that the loss of Sugarcube Corner had really been the deciding factor. That, at least, had been an accident, and therefore she couldn’t have done anything to prevent it. In her mind, though, everything was tied to the letter. That one foolish decision, placed atop all the her other failings, was the straw that broke the pony’s back.

And just what did I think would happen? Her only consolation was that she had hardly been thinking clearly after the Corner burned down. Beneath the shortsightedness of it, though, she was beginning to realized there had been a kind of desperate trust that had compelled her to reach out to Sunburst.

In spite of herself, she had started to question if he wasn’t a more decent sort than she had given him credit for, at least in some ways. Starlight and Pinkie Pie had mentioned him several times in their stories regarding the Crystal Empire. In light of that, she had really believed he would help her—if not out of the goodness of his heart, then at least out of the abundance of wealth she had suspected his recent success had brought him. With a guilty pang, she now began to understand that she had thought she could use him to get everything back to normal, and then he would quietly and obediently disappear again.

She pushed the uncomfortable thoughts aside. Whatever ideas had led her to reach out to him, they had backfired horribly. And now, apparently, they were making it harder than it ought to have been to write to her parents, a task that was more than hard enough as it was.

It had been two days since Carrot left for Manehattan, and she had not left the suite in the entire time since. With him gone, it was up to her entirely to take care of the twins, more than a full time job in and of itself. Add to that going through the paperwork that was still being mailed to them, both about the old Sugarcube Corner and the prospects for a new one, and she didn’t have time for more than three or four hours of sleep each night. The bitter benefit was that she had no time to dwell on what might happen next. The work of the moment totally and utterly consumed her.

As much as she wanted to cling to that exhausting comfort, though, she knew she was already past her limit. She was starting to feel like she had a constant, low-grade fever. Her limbs trembled slightly whenever she stood still. A full-body ache that sapped what little strength she had left was a constant companion, and it was all she could do to change and feed the twins without lying down on the floor and succumbing to a stupor.

I can’t go on like this for long. She needed help. And now, with Carrot gone, the only ponies she could think to turn to were family. She knew her mother would be there in a heartbeat to help her take care of the foals, and her father would pitch in to keep the business side of things moving. In their letters since the accident, they had both offered several times to do exactly that. But they lived in Trottingham now, having retired there not long after her and Carrot’s wedding. At their age, just returning to Ponyville from across the Celestial Sea was an ordeal. The guilt of making them do that, coupled with the misery of knowing she would need to explain why Carrot wasn’t there anymore, was just too much for her to set the process in motion.

Tomorrow, she thought, feeling another wave of nausea at the notion. I’ll write to them tomorrow. I’ll know what to say then.

A loud knock sounded at the huge door at the end of the hall. Cupcake felt her heartbeat spike in both excitement and fear. Carrot? It seemed unlikely; it would have taken a few days just to get to Manehattan, let alone return. But maybe he didn’t go all the way. Maybe he decided what he wants to do already and turned around. There was no certainty or comfort in that, though. And a few seconds later, as she walked to the door, she realized it wasn’t Carrot regardless. Carrot wouldn’t have knocked. Would he? He had barely seemed to regard her or the twins as family when he had come home before. But there was only one way to know.

Sure enough, it wasn’t Carrot standing outside waiting for her. Instead, Applejack gave her a warm, if slightly forced, smile in greeting. Cupcake was able to muster the energy to return it, but it flickered as she saw the pony standing behind her. “Applejack. And… Starlight. What brings you here?”

“Howdy, Cupcake.”

“Hi,” Starlight said. “AJ thought we ought to check in on you, and on the twins too. We haven’t seen you since... since everything that happened.” She hesitated, as if she couldn’t quite decide what expression she wanted to wear. “Are... are you holding up okay?”

Cupcake tried to answer, but the sound that came out was something like a manic chuckle crossed with a hiccup. She grimaced and her ears fell flat.

“Land’s sake, sugarcube, you look worse than I did last apple bucking,” Applejack said, her smile turning sympathetic. “Listen, we know things are pretty down in the gutter right now. So we wanted to let you know, anything we can do to help, whether pitching in to take care of the little ones or just getting things cleaned up a little, we’re your ponies.”

“That’s… really very sweet of you, dearies,” Cupcake said, “but I don’t think it would be right of me to accept. I got myself into this mess, after all.”

“Now, don’t you give me that kind of stinkin’ thinkin’,” Applejack argued. “What’s there about any of this that says you need to shoulder it all alone?”

“Applejack… look, I know you’re trying to be nice. But there’s no need to pretend about anything.” Cupcake took a deep breath, squared her shoulders, and looked Applejack in the eye. “It’s out in the open. You know the truth about me now, and soon, other ponies will too. I know how I’m going to be treated after word gets out, and… well, I made my bed. If it’s time to lie in it, so be it.”

Applejack’s frown deepened. “Now what in the hay kind of talk is that? You think we’re just going to up and toss you aside?” she took a few steps forward and put a hoof on Cupcake’s shoulder. Her eyes were stern as she held Cupcake’s gaze in her own. “Nuh-uh. Not a chance, Sugarcube. You’re my friend. I stood by you before, and I’ll do it now.”

“Applejack…” Cupcake felt her face knot up as tears sprang to her eyes. She tried to turn away as her cheeks turned hot, but Applejack gave her shoulder a firm tug, pulling her into a loose hug.

“Hey, sugarcube…” Applejack said. “It’s okay.”

“You don’t…” Cupcake’s word broke off as the tears pulled in a choked gasp. “You can’t just look past this. Not after what I’ve done.” She didn’t know why she was protesting their help and kindness, only that it felt somehow obscene to even be offered it. She had imagined a thousand different conversations that would take place once her secret got out. She knew what they would say to her, down to every single word. Each one would let her know in no uncertain terms what rules she had broken, spoken or unspoken, and just how far she had fallen in their esteem before turning away for good. Carrot had already come about as close to her worst imaginings as he could have. To have Applejack just ignore it and pretend nothing had changed almost seemed insulting.

“Land’s sakes, sugarcube. We ain’t your judges here. We know what kind of pony you are, and so do most of the ponies in town. Some of them might hold this against you out of blind judgment. But the ones who matter will know it ain’t that simple. We know you’re sincere in regretting what happened. Whatever comes of it, I think you’ve done the right thing now.”

“I only did the right thing because I couldn’t keep control,” she said bitterly, taking a step away. “You were right, Applejack. And so was Carrot. I convinced myself I was giving him the life he wanted and protecting the family, but… I was protecting myself, too. And I made him live out a lie. I was too… too weak to do the right thing.”

“You were too scared,” Applejack countered. “I could tell that as soon as you and I started talking. Deep down, I could tell you wanted to make this right. What happened sure helped push things over the edge, but if you really only cared about yourself, you’d have clung to the lies no matter how bad it got.”

“Exactly,” Starlight said, taking a step closer. “You’ve done some things you aren’t proud of. But... if you honestly want to start working to make things better now, there’s no reason for you to have to do it all alone.”

While Applejack’s words were heartfelt, there was something in Starlight’s tone that brooked no argument. It was enough to allow Cupcake to pull a bit of her composure back together.

“I don’t deserve friends like you,” she said with a shaky laugh. “Goodness, I can’t imagine what you must think of me. I keep falling to pieces.”

“Other ponies wouldn’t be able to carry on half as good as you,” Applejack replied. “Now come on. Why don’t you show us what needs doing around here?”

“I guess I could use the help,” Cupcake said. Then she turned to Starlight and shied away a little with a worried frown. “But… why are you here, Starlight? After everything involving Sunburst… I mean, I thought you’d be on his side.”

Starlight took a deep breath and looked Cupcake in the eye. Her expression was carefully neutral. “Well. I’m not going to pretend that I’m happy with some of the things I’ve heard. But he’s been honest with me about his role in all this, too. It seems like there’s blame to share. Anyway, we’re adults. Picking sides and spitting venom is something gossip-starved, pre-teen fillies do.” She shrugged. “I don’t see how trying to pile misery onto you would make anything better. I don’t... I don’t want to see anyone suffering more than they already are.” She sighed. “Let’s just get everything back from the brink of tragedy. There will be plenty of time to work out who owes apologies to who later. Sound fair?”

Starlight’s implication was unmistakable. “We’re not done,” she seemed to say. She wasn’t out for any kind of revenge, but in her eyes, Cupcake could see that there was still some kind of reckoning owed for the way Sunburst had been treated. Unlike Applejack’s unconditional kindness, it was something Cupcake could understand. She met Starlight’s eyes and nodded. “Okay.”

* * *

There was something about the freezing, almost gritty air of Manehattan that Carrot knew he would never really forget. The smoke of a thousand apartment stoves, pipes clenched in hundreds carriage-pullers’ teeth, and the coal furnaces that warmed banks, department stores, and theaters with air like dragon’s breath all permeated the air. On cold mornings like the one he arrived on, it was thick enough to leave a dark, dusty residue in Carrot’s mouth. It was something most newcomers to the enormous city found off-putting at best, revolting at worst. To Carrot, however, it was memory.

It was that larger atmosphere that, somewhere, held the smaller scent he knew most of all—a small blaze churning inside a tiny, blackened, pot-bellied stove, its smoke mixed with the acrid bite of bitter coffee boiling on top of it. But Carrot would have to wait a little longer before returning to that familiarity. From where he stood now, the earth and rock towers of Manehattan rose all around him like stony beehives, windows already ablaze with light as the evening began to darken into night. Behind him, the smooth stone columns and arches of Grand Central Station loomed over him. Its enormous golden windows were darkened by the ashy breath of the dozens of iron engines within.

Buried deeper below, the thin, wheezing exhalations of the subways added to the fumes through pipes and vents to the surface. Carrot had always imagined he could feel them rumbling past beneath the black stone roads, even through the eternal earthquake of thousands of hooves trotting past every moment. He could have ridden one of them to the harbor, but he had been sitting in trains for the past several days. He longed to stretch his legs, and he wanted to see the city again before he returned home. He thought that, perhaps, a bit of a wander through the masonwork forest of his home might bring him some small measure of comfort.

As time went on, however, he began to suspect it had been a mistake. He moved through the streets surrounded by the city throng, invisible and transient, unnoticed and unnoticeable. It was a strange power of cities like Manehattan, saturated to bursting with ponies of all sizes and colors as they were. In such places, even the staunchest personalities found themselves melting away and becoming one with something larger and unknowable. It was another quality newcomers took some time to get used to. Most ponies were able to ground themselves in family and friends, creating little islands of comprehensible smallness in the ocean of identities. Carrot, however, had made the mistake of coming here alone.

We always meant to visit here one day, he found himself thinking, a wave of melancholy rising to cover any nostalgia he might have enjoyed. Cupcake had visited Canterlot once or twice, but she had never had much opportunity or inclination to venture farther from her hometown than that. Carrot had no desire to ever return to Manehattan permanently, but he had always intended to bring her to visit with him, to share this strange part of his past as if it might help her understand him just a little bit better somehow. We probably won’t get that chance now.

Soon, he found himself heading to the harbor with a rigid gait. Every landmark he passed only seemed to worsen his mood. Did I really have that many plans for when we came here? He found himself remembering daydreams he’d had about taking photos from the top of the Celestial State Tower, riding the ferry to see the Statue of Friendship together, or even going to a show on Bridleway, if they could afford it when the time came. The more he thought about it, the more he realized he couldn’t think of a single part of the city he hadn’t thought of sharing with her. As such, her absence now hurt him almost as much as her presence had in Ponyville.

Not just her absence, he reminded himself with a bitter scowl. He had come here to try and put some distance between himself and that pain, but even that solace was thwarted. He made his way down to the harbor as quickly as he could, the city’s lifeblood of ponies flowing steadily around him, oblivious to his mounting misery.

Where the city had failed him, however, the sea finally lent some tranquility to the thoughts, memories, and broken dreams that hounded him. As Carrot turned onto a final, wide road that ran in a gentle slope beside Manehattan’s enormous river, he could see the ocean’s endless expanse open up across the far horizon before him. The black, sharp lines of masts cut apart the orange sky, and he could just make out some of the ships they belonged to resting gently in the water below. There was even the bloated, elephantine hulk of an airship drifting gently in the evening breeze high over the water.

Carrot was surprised how much the sight calmed him and finally brought him a little of the serenity he had been trying to capture for days. I guess I should have known, though. It had always been easy to get lost watching the heartbeat of the sea, even for him. The air was filled with the soft, serene sighs of the water, the gentle pulse of the waves pushing eternally against the bold city that perched on its edge. In the deepening evening, the ocean had turned almost black, its soft and velvety swells tinged almost imperceptibly with glowing, sapphire blue.

He knew he wasn’t alone in feeling its hypnotic power. For all of Manehattan’s hectic influence, there weren’t many ponies who could feel frenzied forever if they came in sight of the river or the sea. Local sailors often told stories that it was one of Princess Luna’s earliest masterpieces. They said she had set the rhythm of the sea to bewitch sailors’ hearts, encouraging explorers and entrepreneurs to set sail into the unknown. Even after a thousand years, when nearly all of Equestria had forgotten Luna and come to know only one princess, sailors still tipped a share of ale overboard every night in tribute to the ancient lady of the tides, as they knew her.

For the first time in nearly twenty years, Carrot felt at home. He felt anchored, somehow, with the city hard as bedrock behind him, and the sea as open and limitless as the sky before him. It was why his father and brothers never left, and it was one of the few things they had all seemed to understand together.

Until it wasn’t enough for me anymore.

He pushed the idea away with a firm sigh. It was bad enough that the city held no comfort for him. He wasn’t about to let his mood ruin the sea as well.

He turned and started making his way north, following the coast as the city scrolled by alongside him like a flat, empty painting. As he walked, he kept glancing south, following the boats and docks up and down the water as he searched for a familiar shape he already knew wasn’t there. If it had been there, either in its customary berth or somewhere out where the water met the sky, he would have seen it instantly. He doubted there was a pony in Manehattan who wouldn’t have recognized that ship, were it anywhere in sight. But the dark corner of the bay where it would rest was empty, and there was no sign of its dark hull on the horizon. Carrot knew then that he would have the house to himself, at least for a little while.

Just as well, he thought. I need to figure out what I’m going to… how I’m going to tell him what happened.

It was a question he hadn’t even begun to formulate an answer to, even over days of intolerably monotonous trains. How was he supposed to tell a pony like him what Cupcake had done? What he had been too naïve to suspect? But there didn’t seem to be any way around it. Carrot didn’t think he’d be able to lie and say he’d just come for a spontaneous visit, even if he wanted to try. After all, he hadn’t visited in the eight years since he had married Cupcake. How was he supposed to explain why he was breaking that trend now?

The question made him feel sick, and he shut the thoughts deep down inside again. Not today. Tomorrow. It’ll be easier to think tomorrow. He didn’t let himself remember that he been thinking that since Cupcake had told him the truth, and it had yet to become any easier. Still, the excuse let him avoid facing what he needed to do for a little longer, and that was enough.

Soon, the buildings started to shrink, the skyscrapers giving way to smaller buildings shaped like just the bricks that comprised them. As he passed one of these by, he froze as his eye was caught by a striking sign hung over one of the doors. The writing was in polished, shining gold script laid over a mottled, black backing.

Prudent Juris, Attorney at Law — Estate Management, Family Law, & Legal Counsel.

Carrot thought he could feel his heart clench as he looked at the office. The door was simple enough, painted in thick, glossy green with a gold doorknob. Carrot remembered that door. He had tried hard to forget it in the years after he and his brothers had spent several afternoons inside, waiting while their father tried to sort everything out. Once it was over, Carrot had always harbored something almost like a grudge for the office. He had even made an unconscious habit of avoiding this segment of the coastal avenue altogether, taking a longer loop into the city. That habit ought to have carried him around the office just as surely as before. But it hadn’t.

His eyes lingered on the words “Family Law” written in letters entirely too ornate and bright. He had the notion that nothing so serious should be printed in anything other than letters plain as tombstones. After that, however, he realized that the lawyer was probably the most qualified pony to understand his situation, since his family was already associated with the firm.

There was no one better qualified to sever his ties to Ponyville.

Carrot recoiled. No. That’s not an option. I’m not considering that.

…Am I?

Of course, he had already considered it. There was no way he’d been able to avoid thinking about it. It was the option that loomed over him like a thunderhead, a path that several ponies he had known personally had taken for one reason or another. Back then, it had seemed like a sad but necessary prospect, an option taken by ponies who had made mistakes or whose relationships simply hadn’t flourished the way they ought to have. He had wished all of them the best, but all the while been secretly grateful that it was something he would never think about. That was for other ponies. He would never need it.

And now, suddenly, as bewildered and directionless as if he had been blown ashore by a storm, he stood wondering if that time had now come for him.

What else do ponies do when something like this happens?

It almost seemed comforting, he realized. He knew it was what ponies did in circumstances like his. There was a plan, a process, and then a clean slate. The rigmarole was suddenly and terrifyingly attractive to him, and he found he had taken a step towards the office without even noticing. Just the promise of being able to do something definite was intoxicating.

“No,” he said. He shook his head as if coming out of a stupor. “I’m not… I’m not ready for that. I don’t want…”

But he couldn’t finish the sentence. He had no real idea of what he wanted. He only knew that he wanted to get away from this street before any ponies passing by might wonder why a grown stallion like him was crying.

* * *

Sunburst read Starlight’s letter again. He hadn’t expected to hear from her so soon after he returned to the Empire, so when he saw the envelope, he had known only incredibly good or bad news could have warranted an immediate update. He hadn’t held out much hope for good news, and he was not surprised to learn things had deteriorated even more after he left. Starlight had learned from Applejack that Carrot had left Ponyville, but he’d only given an indeterminate answer to Cupcake when she had asked if they would stay together. That wasn’t a good sign, but neither was it a realization of their worst fears. There was still hope their family could make it through, then, however slight it seemed to Sunburst.

What really brought him up short was the news about Hoops. Not only had he left Applejack in the dust after learning that Sunburst’s letter had been genuine, but he hadn’t reappeared or sent word to anyone since. From what Starlight said, Applejack knew he had not gone back to Cloudsdale, but beyond that, no one knew how to find him or what his intentions were. And worse still, as far as Starlight could tell, Applejack’s relationship with him was effectively over. She believed he had run away from the problem completely, and that he intended to hide until it was clear Cupcake wasn’t hunting him down for money or some other parental responsibility.

Sunburst dropped the letter and sat back hard against the wall behind his desk. Well done, Sunburst. You not only managed to ruin any chance of being a part of Pumpkin’s life, but you ruined two relationships instead of one. Is there some kind of personal record for screwing things up? ‘Cause you broke it. Good job.

He really couldn’t imagine things having turned out much worse. It now seemed like a minor miracle that Starlight had stayed by his side in any capacity. Nevertheless, he supposed it really did amount to an anomaly in the long string of screw-ups that was his life. Almost everything he had ever done had resulted in ruin. Even just getting his cutie mark had thrown Starlight into such a despondent loneliness that she almost obliterated Equestria’s timeline. Looking back on it, even the horrible things happening now had stemmed from that one event. It had been what led to him Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, which he had ultimately failed out of. That had led him to Las Pegasus in despair, and the rest was history.

Where will it end?

“There’s still hope,” he told himself. His voice sounded thin and desperate. “Carrot could still come back. He could forgive Cupcake. And Hoops will surely go back to Applejack. He’s probably just in shock. They can work things out just like me and Starlight did. Something will turn out okay. Something. Right?”

He hated how he couldn’t even bring himself to believe any of it. In his heart, he truly feared that Carrot wouldn’t be able to get past the magnitude of the betrayal. And from the sound of it, the disintegration of Applejack’s relationship was a foregone conclusion. Sunburst was surprised to realize how deeply it hurt him, how strongly the guilt welled up inside at the thought.

Of course, it wasn’t just another random mare who got hurt by Hoops, he thought. It had to be one of Starlight’s friends. Of all ponies to get caught up in the wreckage, it had to be one of them—the saviors of the Crystal Empire and Equestria, not once but several times over. Applejack was a personal friend of not one, but two occupants of the Four Thrones. In a way, Sunburst owed everything he now had to her, even if indirectly. If not for those ponies, Applejack by no means least among them, he would be nothing more than a reclusive scholar with hardly a bit to his name. He certainly would not be Court Wizard of the Crystal Empire.

And this is the recompense she gets?

He sighed, crossed his forelegs on his desk, and buried his head in them. Well, there’s no point in dwelling on it. It’s done, and there’s nothing more you can do. Not about Carrot, not about Hoops, not about—

Screed McCourt, 81417 East Bridlebit Way, Manehattan, New Yoke. Formerly listed residents/dependents: Hoops McCourt.

The scrap of information flitted through his mind and was nearly gone just as suddenly. Like a leaf drifting past his nose on the breeze, it startled him enough to make him twitch, sitting upright with a jolt as his morose internal debate ground to a halt. That’s right, he remembered. I went through some old addresses before I found his current one in Cloudsdale. He had nearly missed the Manehattan one due to the unfamiliar name. Before that, Hoops had been listed as living in Fillydelphia with what Sunburst had assumed were his parents. He’d never given the changes a second thought. Now, however, he once again knew where to find his accidental partner in fatherhood.

He ran his hoof over his beard a few times, lost in thought. He wasn’t sure how the knowledge did him any good. Still, there was a strange reassurance just in knowing. If he relayed the information to Applejack, she could go and find him Maybe they could straighten things out before they got any worse.

Although, he thought with a grimace, from the way Starlight described it, Applejack’s not even interested in going after him. And a confrontation like that might not go well.

He sighed and sat back again. There’s still nothing I can…

He pursed his lips as an idea came into his head. Applejack didn’t want to go after Hoops. That was understandable. Sunburst could easily tell how Hoops’ decision probably looked. Still, he also understood just how distressing it was to suddenly learn one was a father. He could easily imagine Hoops was acting foolishly out of panic. Maybe, like Carrot, he was just trying to get some distance so he could come to the right decision calmly and in his own time. True, Hoops shouldn’t have done it without at least giving Applejack some idea of what he was doing, but no one could be expected to behave perfectly under the circumstances.

Sunburst owed all of Starlight’s friends. He owed Applejack.

Don’t do it, Sunburst, said the wavering voice in his head.

“No,” he agreed. “Acting on my own was what got us all into this. Doing anything else is just going to make things worse.”

In spite of his apparent agreement with himself, however, he wasn’t quite convinced. Although… it’s not like it’s actually possible to make it any worse. Everything had already fallen apart. What could possibly come of his meeting with Hoops that wasn’t already doomed to happen if no one did anything?

Bad. Idea.

He snorted, pulled a book at random from one of the many cluttered shelves lining his office, and pretended to read. Then he slammed the book shut. “So what, am I supposed to just sit here and do nothing?”

Doing nothing had to be the wisest course of action. However, while he might be able to subdue his sense of guilt and obligation towards Applejack and Cupcake, the curiosity he could feel kindling was another matter. He knew nothing about Hoops other than a few addresses and school records. Yet, his daughter was sibling to the son of this pony. He couldn’t help but wonder just what sort of pony this Hoops was. If Applejack had taken a liking to him, that had to count for something.

Tartarus, Sunburst realized, he might even be as bad off as I am: wanting to do something but with no idea how.

That was enough to get him to stand up and start pacing. If we’re both in the same boat, that ought to make it all the more appropriate that we meet. Sunburst realized he might have been missing out on a valuable ally this entire time. If he and Hoops shared the same problems and the same goals, didn’t that mean they at least had a right to look out for each other?

And two heads are always better than one, Sunburst thought with a final, decisive nod. Maybe together we can find a way to at least fix some of this!

The last desperate protests of his more timid self were shut away. Sunburst quickly sorted and stored the few materials he had tried to busy himself with. He couldn’t stay in the Empire while this was still unresolved, not now that he not only had a plan, but something to learn that might help everyone. He might have been able to ignore a relationship he had no real business meddling in, but he couldn’t possibly ignore a kindred spirit. It was time to request another short leave of absence from Shining Armor.

And, Sunburst thought with a fresh surge of hope, Hoops has to want to see Pound as much as I want to see Pumpkin. Maybe we can even find a way to make that happen, too.