• Published 22nd Mar 2018
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Pound and Pumpkin Tales 2 - Never2muchpinkie



The continuing adventures of the now seven years old Pound and Pumpkin

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3-6: Brother to brother

Drill Bit was just staring aimlessly at his front door, feeling paralyzed. What was wrong with him lately?

“Drill Bit?” called out a familiar voice.

The colt turned to see his brother trotting toward him. “Noble…”

“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry.”

“Sorry?” he responded, confused.

“Mom told me you were going to be gone a few hours. I thought I could slip out for a little lunch. Hope you weren’t waiting long.”

“Oh. No. I just got here a few minutes ago.”

“That’s a relief.” He went up to the door and unlocked it, going inside. He waited to hear the sound of the door closing, but when he didn’t he turned around to see his brother still in the same spot, his gaze unfocused. “Hey, Bro. You alright?”

“Huh? Oh.” He walked inside, shutting the door behind him.

“You got home pretty quick. I thought you were going to be gone longer. You leave early because you finally lost one?”

That snapped Drill out of his stupor. “No! I won! She wasn’t worth my time. It was boring.”

Noble gave him a searching look. “If you won then why do you look so out of it?”

Drill Bit glared at him. “None of your business, loser! Your bones are healed up, so why don’t you just get back to your Royal Guard position already?”

Noble knew something was bothering his brother, but he wasn’t sure what. Him losing his race was the only thing he could think of that would get his brother so worked up.

He smiled down at Drill. “I guess I just exaggerated my injuries so I could spend more time with my family.” He grabbed Drill in a hug. “After all, I’ve been living in Canterlot for the past few years in pursuit of my dream, and I rarely get the time for an extended stay with all of you.”

Drill wanted to get mad and shove him away, but he couldn’t. He had enjoyed having his brother back for the past few months. He had expected Noble to leave over a month ago, and didn’t complain when he didn’t. “Well, that’s good for you, but I’m feeling a little tired, so I’m gonna go to my room.”

“Of course.” Noble let him go.

Drill went to the kitchen first to grab some water and refresh himself before heading towards his room.

“Hey, Drill Bit?” Noble said as Drill walked past him.

“Yeah? What is it?”

“If you need to talk you know I’m here for you, right?”

Drill paused, looking like he wanted to say something, then let out a huff and his expression grew cold. “Whatever.” He continued walking around the corner, his door opening and closing.

Noble watched the area he had just been standing at, knowing his brother probably needed a good talk. He couldn’t help but think of how it was for him growing up. He had had to be tough, and opening up wasn’t easy.

Drill Bit sat on his bed, looking aimlessly at it. “Flurry Heart,” he muttered out loud. Just saying the name made him see red for a moment. “Stuck up snobbish jerk! Thinks she’s so hot just because she’s royalty.”

She had nothing on him. Nothing! He couldn’t believe he had ever let her words get to him. She had no talent, so her words weren’t even worth thinking about. She had failed and he had won, and that was all that mattered. It was all that ever mattered.

So then why… why couldn’t he get her out of his head? Why did he keep hearing her words? He grabbed one of his pillows, squeezing it as he bit the corner. He had never felt this irritated after winning before. She didn’t even care that she had lost. She was so casual, acting like it didn’t even matter. Even though she had lost she didn’t act defeated. She was completely indifferent to it, and that irritated him even more.

Where was his sense of satisfaction? Winners were the ones who won, so why couldn’t he feel that way? Why did it feel like Flurry had won? It didn’t make any sense.

‘It has to be because Pound helped me,’ he thought. ‘Stupid idiot should have kept his mouth shut. It wasn’t his place to interfere.

‘I didn’t need his help. I should have been on top of my game from the beginning.’

“Something wrong? Don’t tell me you’re intimidated already?” He growled as her voice echoed in his mind. “Oh, these old things. They’re nothing special. Sorta like you.” He squeezed tighter on his pillow. “Oh, I see. You’re intimidated by my inner strength.” He let out a large snort through his nose. “The thing is, your weak confidence can’t begin to match up to mine. So I can already say for certain that it’s impossible for you to beat me.”

He threw his pillow across the room. “SHUT UP!” he yelled. “Shut up, shut up, shut up!” He was breathing heavy. “You lost! I won! I want my victory! I want back what you stole from me!”

He jumped off his bed, grabbing whatever was nearby and throwing it as hard as he could. Why couldn’t he get her stupid words out of his head?

Again her words echoed in his mind. “Maybe you’re scared they wouldn’t care for you anymore if you decided to do something else with your life? How sad would it be if your parents love wasn’t waiting on that other path?”

A hard tremor went through him much like before. He screamed, punching his dresser. “Get out of my head! Get out! Get out! Get out!” He yelled again.

“Drill Bit!” Noble called out as he opened the door. “What in the world is going on in here?”

His brother looked on the edge of a nervous breakdown, panting heavily as he looked toward the door, not knowing how to react.

He closed the door behind him, picking up his unresisting brother and sitting on the edge of his bed. “We need to talk, Bro.”

Drill didn’t respond.

“Look, I know that our parents put a lot on your shoulders, but every so often you’re going to lose one. There’s no need to freak out like this.”

“I didn’t lose…”

“Drill Bit-”

“But I feel like I did.”

“Why?”

“Flurry Heart…”

“Flurry Heart? Is that the name of the pony you raced?”

“She wasn’t anything special as a racer, but…” As he thought of her words again he felt like raging, but he couldn’t muster up the energy. He put his head on Noble’s chest. How long had it been since he had been on someone’s lap? It felt nice.

He let out a long breath. “Ugh. It feels like everything I’ve ever known has turned upside-down. A strong pony stands on their own and doesn’t rely on others more than they have to. I’ve always been skilled and strong, but I can’t make myself leave your lap.”

Noble felt a pain in his heart as flashes of his past came back to him. He moved Drill Bit so he was sideways on his lap, and then put his hooves around him in a hug. “No one is strong all the time. Even the princesses have had moments of weakness.”

“Mom and Dad would be ashamed if they saw how pathetic I’m being right now.”

“Look, Mom and Dad are both working right now, so it doesn’t matter what they think. It’s just the two of us, so you feel however you want to feel. I’m here for you, Drill.”

He was too weak to resist, so he just enjoyed the feeling. “This Flurry pony… she talked to me like she knew me… like she could see deep inside my heart. I didn’t like it.”

“And what did she say?”

So he explained the gist of her comments. “She was so confident in herself. Nothing I did fazed her. Even when I beat her she wasn’t bothered at all. I’ve never faced an opponent like that. And I… she…” He blushed. “I was afraid of her. She seemed like she was in control the whole time.

“And what she said… it really got to me.” He squirmed in embarrassment. “When I tried to take off at the start I forgot to flap and landed right on my face, and I was a total wreck during most of our race. I’ve never been that bad at anything.”

“But it seems you rallied at the end.”

He let out a sigh. “No, I didn’t.”

“So then how did you win?”

“Well… you remember when you first showed up here, and I told you about that colt from my class? You told me how you got injured and said that you owed your life to a weak pony.”

Noble nodded. “Yes, I remember.”

“Well, I took your advice. I kept on training him. I discovered where his weakness lied, and with some adjustments he started improving. He’s been flying for a few months now.

“I… I’m starting to see what you were talking about back then. Throughout our training I’ve belittled him and insulted him. It was more serious at the start, but not so much now. You’d think he would have been happy to see me get knocked off my pedestal and suffer a crushing, humiliating defeat.”

Some tears hovered in his eyes. “And yet he didn’t. The weakling came to my aid. Instead of standing up for his princess friend he chose to encourage me instead. He shouted out that I wasn’t the type to back down from any challenge and he knew I could win.

“His words… they got me fired up, and I pushed to my utmost, coming in a hair ahead of her. It just annoys me that I had to rely on his help to win a race I should have won on my own.”

Noble rubbed his back a bit. “I think it goes deeper than that. What you experienced is just like what I did. Hawkeye taught me what it meant to be part of a team, standing up for me despite the way I treated him. He stood up for you because you needed it. Had this Flurry pony been behind he would have likely shouted encouragement to her instead.”

Drill let out a huff. “And that’s the problem! I was acting like a total loser! I shouldn’t have needed his help in the first place.”

“And yet you did. No one is strong all the time. And when you have to face that reality it’s always nice to have someone by your side to help lift you up.”

“No! Not me! There’s too much riding on me! I can’t afford to be weak! EVER!”

“Look, Drill, I grew up in the same house as you and with the same parents. I get exactly what you’re talking about. I always pushed myself to my limits and beyond. For the longest time I thought that made me happy, but looking back it wasn't as glamorous as I thought it was.

“It was hard and uncomfortable, but I put all my self-worth into my accomplishments, feeling like I could never slow down or stop or something bad would happen. This was the first time in my life that I’ve been forced to stop. With my recovery it’s allowed me to just spend time with my family without any expectations. It’s really helped to let the message sink in that there’s more to life than being the best.

“From what you told me that filly overcame her weakness to find true strength. Until you can temper that pride of yours and truly own your own failings you’ll never overcome her.” Drill grimaced. “Or me, for that matter. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my future as I’ve healed. I had to decide whether I wanted to continue being part of the Royal Guard or if there was something else I wanted. For the longest time I made that my goal for our parents sake. Of course I enjoyed the prestige that came as I rose through the ranks, but I was a different stallion back then.

“The conclusion I came to is that I want to go back. My team is waiting for my return, and it would be a waste of what I learned if I quit. In the past I wanted to become the captain of the guard because it would make me look good and to show off. Now, I want that position to help others and for the good of our country. It’s something I’m choosing to do on my own terms, not just because it’s what’s expected of me.”

“Well, that’s all good for YOU!” Drill Bit replied. “You don’t have to stay here if you don’t want to. You could do something else even if Mom and Dad hated you for it. I can’t.”

Noble could see what was troubling him now. “Well, Drill, what is it you want? If you desire to focus on something else then what are you going after? You know the way our parents are. If you tell them how you’re feeling and they ask what else you want to do you can’t very well say ‘I don’t know.’ That would only anger them.”

“I know that much.” He nuzzled his brothers chest, thinking back to the time before his brother left for the Royal Guard. They had been so close. He looked up to his brother as the coolest pony around.

He had shown natural skill in flight at only three, but it wasn’t until he was five that his parents started putting him in races. As he began winning and his brother was getting ready to leave he considered it a bit of a betrayal. He didn’t hate his brother for it, but he was jealous. He wanted the same amount of recognition and attention his brother got, and so he declared Noble his rival, determined to usurp him one day. He couldn't admire an opponent. His only goal was to knock them out of their position and take it for himself.

Before that competitions were mainly for fun. His parents encouraged him to win, and he knew every win would bring him closer to toppling his brother.

Everything had made sense then. His parents liked to see him win, and he liked to win. What made them happy also made him happy. He grabbed friends who had the same interest when he was enrolled in school.

Where had everything gone so wrong? He was doing something his parents didn’t approve of in taking the time to train Pound, and Flurry called him on it like she knew exactly what he was thinking. She dug deep into his heart and frightened him with her composure. He hadn’t been able to find any weakness in her to exploit, and everything she said got under his skin. Now he was freaking out, unable to enjoy his victory, having had to rely on someone else to help him get it. And he was letting himself be cuddled.

Maybe Flurry was right. Maybe he really was weak. The thought of confronting his parents was too scary to consider. It felt like she was towering above him, crushing him with her power.

“Drill, what’s on your mind? You’ve been pretty quiet.”

“I… I know what I want, but… I don’t know if I can tell them about it.”

“Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. For now, why don’t you tell me about it?”

“At first training Pound was something I did for amusement, or to make myself feel superior. As he’s grown, though, I’ve found myself dedicating more and more time to him.

“I like training him to find his potential, but you should have seen the expression on Mom’s face when Pound mentioned it. He played it off as him just challenging me all the time, but it was obvious Mom thought he was trash.”

“From what you’re saying it doesn’t sound like you’re too far off from where I am. You’re helping him grow, and you’ve even inspired loyalty in him considering he went out of his way to root for you when you needed it. It sounds to me like you’re beginning to understand true teamwork.”

“But what does it matter? Our parents don’t approve of me wasting time helping out some loser when I should be challenging the best in the world.”

“Then it falls on you to talk them down. It’s like Flurry said: unless you find the courage to be honest about your feelings then nothing will change.”

Tears brimmed around his eyes again. “B-b-but what if she’s right?” He sniffed. “What if I tell them and they ruin my life? What if they hate me for not being what they want? What if they pull me out of school to force me to train more and to keep me away from Pound?

“I’m scared! I don’t want to be a loser. No one could love a loser!”

He clenched, trying to hold back his feelings. He had learned pretty quickly that the less he cried the happier his parents were with him. Tears were a sign of weakness. As he trained his crashes fazed him less and less, because he knew sympathy wasn’t waiting down that route.

He had grown tough, dismissing his tears until they just stopped showing up entirely. The overwhelming feelings bubbling up inside were pushing him over the edge. Though he screamed at himself to stop before he showed a shameful display of weakness he couldn’t stop himself from sobbing.

Noble felt a sympathetic tear come down his eye as Drill broke down. How long had it been since he had cried like this himself? He squeezed tightly to his brother, glad that their parents were out right now.

He quietly endured the pain, knowing he needed to be strong for his brother now.

When it started to grow quiet Noble said, “I love you, Drill Bit. No matter what happens I’ll protect you, you got that?”

Drill was still too busy dealing with his feelings to respond, though Noble’s words were comforting.

“My team back in Canterlot is important to me, but they can always find another leader if it came down to it. You’re more important to me than any of them, and it’s obvious you need me more right now. I’d quit in a heartbeat for your sake.”

Drill wiped his eyes. “You can’t do that!”

“Sure can. I want to blaze my own path now, and I want you to do the same. I want you to take your fate into your own hooves, just like Flurry Heart, and accept yourself for who you are. If our parents can’t accept you just because your interests are different than theirs then that’s their loss.

“If it comes down to that then I don’t mind becoming your guardian. We’ll get our own house where you’ll be free to be the you that you want to be.”

Drill looked at him wide-eyed. “You can’t be serious.”

Noble met his gaze. “Do I look like I’m joking? I grew up with the same parents you did, and it wasn’t until I had a world-changing experience where I was shown how foolish my worldview was that I started to change. I don’t want you to spend your life feeling the same way I did. So, yes, I’m dead serious.”

Drill opened and closed his mouth a few times, unable to vocalize his feelings. He used to worship his brother for being so cool before dismissing him as just another rival. Now he was starting to remember why he looked up to him so much. He was willing to be hated by their parents and quit one of most important jobs in the world, simply for his sake.

He still wasn’t looking forward to confronting his parents, but just knowing that his brother was on his side and that there was a backup plan made things seem not as scary. In his heart he really hoped their talk went well. He loved his parents, and didn’t want to be separated from them.

For the moment he didn’t want to think about it. He set his head on Drill’s chest, nuzzling it a bit as Noble kept a comforting hold on him. Without a doubt, his brother was the most awesome pony around.

Author's Note:

This chapter was kinda difficult. Been having a few bad days, and the only reason this came out today is because I wanted to retain my weekly chapter posting schedule, so I forced myself to write out the second half of this over the course of the past few hours.

I keep bringing it up in the story, but considering the reactions of some of my readers I tried to show that Drill was perfectly content with his life up until his interactions with Pound started to show him he wanted something different. If Drill seems anxious about his parents it's because they used to want the same things, but now their desires are starting to diverge, which means going against his parents.

Flurry understood part of Drill's fears, but his brother would definitely understand him on a deeper level, considering they had grown up in the same household and had identical upbringings, so I figure he had a better chance of getting through to him than Flurry.

So what comes next? Nothing easy, that's for sure.

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