• 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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5-2: Sacrifice

“WHAT?” Lemon Zinger yelled. “You gave away my dog?”

Fluttershy shrank away, nodding.

“What were you thinking? What gave you the right? I entrusted you to him to take care of, and then you just threw him off to someone else?”

Fluttershy felt her outrage wasn’t completely unjustified. “I wasn’t trying to hurt you. I just thought it would be best for him.”

“BEST?” she snapped. “How could that be what’s best for him? You’re the magical animal caretaker. I think you of all ponies would be the best one to care for him.”

With difficulty, she met the mare’s angry eyes, tears forming in her eyes. “I wish I could have, but I was overburdened.” The mare’s glare softened slightly, but she didn’t reply. “Your dog’s leg healed up fine, but because you never returned he grew depressed. He needed proper exercise to get back to full health. Even though the leg healed up he still had a pronounced limp. I really wanted to do right by him, but I’m just one pony. I just didn’t have the time available to devote to him with everything else going on in my life.

“That’s why I let him be adopted, so he could go to a family that could give him the attention he deserved.”

Lemon kept glaring at her for a while, before her expression suddenly shifted, becoming sad. “So that’s it, then? I didn’t return, so you assumed I dumped him because of his bad leg?”

“Y-yes,” she replied.

Now Lemon looked on the verge of tears. “I love my dog. I love my Butch! I always have since I first got him. If I really didn’t care about him I could have just left him and run off when he hurt his leg.”

Fluttershy finally felt the tears come down her eyes. “I’m sorry. I know now that you were unable to return because of a medical issue, but you have to understand. I only wanted the best for your dog, and I knew I couldn’t provide that for him.

“Quite a few ponies passed him by once they saw his limp, and every time it broke my heart to see him grow so sad from another rejection. Then about a month or so ago the children of one of my friends came by looking to adopt some pets. One of them, Pound, chose him despite the limp, wanting to help him grow into his full potential.”

“And?” the mare said quietly.

“And he’s done exactly that. I saw Champ at their birthday party, and he's doing great.” The mare’s eyebrow went up. “Well, that’s what Pound named him.”

Lemon kept her mouth shut, but she felt a new burst of anger at Fluttershy allowing the name change.

“Anyway, from what I saw he’s back to one hundred percent. From regular exercise his leg is now fully healed. When he had Champ run to me I couldn’t see any strain or pain or any sign of a limp.”

Lemon let out a breath. That was a relief. “That’s good. And it’s even better that you know the pony who took him personally. It means you know where he lives.”

Fluttershy felt weak. Lemon was the dog’s proper owner. She had only given the dog away because she presumed that Lemon wasn’t coming back for him, and her reason for not returning was a medical emergency where she was physically unable to come visit or tell anyone else to check up on him, so it wasn’t like there was a valid reason to keep the dog away from her.

On the other hoof, though, she could only imagine how Pound was going to react. The poor colt would be devastated. The two of them had developed such a strong bond together, and she didn’t want to see it ripped apart.

***

Pound laughed as he put Champ's leash away. "Don't worry, Champ. That pesky squirrel can't avoid you forever.

“I think it’s time for your dinner.”

Champ immediately perked up at the mention of dinner. He grew excited, hopping back and forth and barking.

“Easy, boy. It’s coming.”

Champ followed him downstairs, and Pinkie helped him open a can of dog food. Champ eagerly devoured every bite when it was put in a bowl, then licked the bowl clean.

They went upstairs, where Champ jumped on the bed, laying down. Pound climbed up too, putting his head on Champ’s stomach.“You’re nice and warm.”

Pound nuzzled Champ’s fur, content and relaxed. He gently dozed, his mind going blank.

Something suddenly got Champ’s attention. He began sniffing the air. He hopped off the bed, running towards the door and scratching at it.

Pound moved to a sitting position, a curious look on his face. "What's gotten into you, boy?" he asked as the dog howled. Something sure had him riled up, and he wanted out.

Pound wanted to see what it was, but he didn't want Champ to do anything bad, so he reattached his leash so he could stop him if he got too out of control.

He opened the door, and Champ went racing towards the stairs, Pound flying right behind him. What had gotten into his dog?

Champ paused for a moment at the top of the stairs, letting out a happy bark. As Pound stopped to see what Champ was looking at the dog began running down, and Pound lost his grip on the leash.

"There you are!" said a mare as Champ ran to her and began hugging him, his dog jumping and licking her face all over.

Pound was definitely confused now. Who was this stranger, and why was Champ acting so familiar with her? He saw Fluttershy next to her, and she looked put out.

He suddenly put the pieces together. There was only one pony that he could think of that Champ would be so loving and excited for, and his eyes narrowed as his cheeks went red.

He flew down the stairs, and without a word gave the mare a light shove to get her off Champ before grabbing the end of the leash and pulling him away from her.

"Hey!" the mare cried out. "What do you think you're doing?"

“Get away from my dog, you monster!” Pound said angrily.

“How dare you!” the mare replied, just as angrily.

“Pound-” started Fluttershy, but Pound didn’t want to hear it.

“Shut up! How could you bring this beast to my house?”

“The name is Lemon Zinger, brat.” She glared down at the colt, annoyed that he was ruining her beautiful reunion with her dog.

“I don’t care what it is. Who do you think you are, coming here like you have any right? Your poor dog was suffering without you, but you didn’t care. I guess now that it’s convenient, now that all the work has been done for you, that your lazy flank wants to take him back.

I was the one who adopted him when no one else would. I was the one who walked him every day, making sure he got proper exercise. I was the one that showered him with love and affection and let him sleep in my bed every night. And I was the one who helped fix his broken heart when YOU ripped it out of him.” He pointed at her.

“Pound!” Fluttershy said strongly, to get his attention. “This isn’t what you think it is.”

Pound had never felt more betrayed. “You’re defending her? After what she did?”

“Pound, I know you’re upset, and I don’t blame you for that, but Lemon didn’t abandon her dog. She got into a terrible accident and wasn’t able to come check up on him.”

Pound rolled his eyes. “Could you stop being so gullible? What a pathetic cover story. How convenient that she was only hurt just long enough that her dog got all better. Give me a break.”

As frustrating as the colt’s attitude was, Lemon could at least understand where he was coming from. “Well, if my word doesn’t satisfy you we can go right down to Ponyville hospital so you can see my record for yourself.”

“I don’t care one bit if you were actually in the hospital or not. You’re not worthy of being his owner if you were so careless you got hurt right after he did. Champ is my dog now, so get out of my house.”

And with that any sympathy she felt for Pound was gone. She got right in his face. “Listen here, you little brat! That’s my dog, and his name is Butch!”

Champ let out a whine. Both of his owners were fighting, and he wasn’t sure what to do about it.

“Whatever!” Pound responded dismissively. “You probably just faked your injury anyway.”

Lemon’s eye twitched. She had never met such an aggravating child. “I LOVE my dog! You understand me? I was devastated when he got hurt, and it hurt even more knowing how long I had been away from him when I woke up.”

Pound just shrugged. “And while you were off being hurt I was doing your job. Champ loves me, and even if he did get to go with you he’ll always remember the time you left him all alone like the terrible excuse for a pet owner you are.”

“Pound!” Pinkie cried out.

Lemon’s eyes grew fiery, her dislike of Pound increasing with every word out of his mouth.

Fluttershy felt a little afraid. She honestly thought Lemon was about to strike him, but then suddenly her face grew slack.

“Fine, then,” said Lemon, getting a strained smile on her face. “If you really have that much faith in Butch’s love then why don’t we put it to the test?

“We’re just going to fight endlessly at this rate, so why don’t we make things simple? We’ll let him decide. The one he chooses is the one that gets to keep him, and that’ll be the end of it. How about that?”

Pound just stared at her blankly for a short while, before he gave a hearty nod. “Fine. I’m game.”

The two of them glared at one another.

Fluttershy felt uncomfortable. “Come on, guys. I really don’t think this is the way to settle this.”

“We both agreed to it,” said Lemon, without averting her gaze from Pound. “So why don’t you butt out?”

“Yeah,” said Pound right after. “Stay out of our business.”

Fluttershy bit her lip. Both of them were getting so hotheaded that they were beyond reason.

The two finally broke eye contact, going to opposite sides of the room.

"Come here, Butch!" said Lemon sweetly. "Come to mama."

"Come here, Champ!" Pound called out confidently. "You know how much I love you. I already promised I'd never abandon you, like a certain someone over there."

Champ heard his two owners calling out to him, and his heart was hurting. How could he possibly choose between Lemon and Pound?

Lemon had taken him in when he was just a puppy. She had been a most loving owner that always cared for his needs. After his accident, when she didn’t return, he had been heartbroken. Fluttershy had been the only one he trusted, especially when so many others turned him down because of his bad leg.

Then Pound had come into his life. By that point he had basically given up on being adopted. When Pound heard his story it touched the colt’s heart, because they had a similar issue. Those simple words he had said, “I want you to be my pet,” were a breath of fresh air in his misery.

Since the day that Pound had taken him home the colt had been just as devoted to him as Lemon had been. Pound’s love had given him a zest for life again, and he had overcome his bad leg because of it.

Lemon hadn’t truly left him behind. She had been hurt and wasn’t able to collect him. His history with her was strong, but…

But Pound, even if they had only been partners for a few months, made him feel special and loved too. And as Pound’s pet he had been able to help the colt through some bad days. Now that Pound had finally started flying he was a much happier colt, but he knew that Pound still needed him.

He loved them both! He was loyal to them both. The thought of hurting either of them was too horrible a prospect to think about.

He let out another whine and sank to the floor, putting his paws over his eyes.

Pound heard Champ whining, saw the distress on his face, and though it made his stomach hurt he knew what he had to do.

He didn’t care about the rules anymore. He walked over to Champ, getting on his knees and hugging the dog around the neck as tears came down his eyes. “It’s okay,” he said gently. “You should go with Lemon Zinger.”

Lemon stared at him wordlessly, an odd feeling in her chest.

“When I first met you and heard about how everyone turned you away because they didn’t want to deal with your injury it reminded me of how I felt when I couldn’t fly. It always hurt when that happened, and I felt like I was a broken pony who would never fly. Just like I’m sure you felt like you would never walk properly again. But we overcame that together, didn’t we? I’ve learned to fly, and your leg is all better.

“I promised that we would excel together. That’s why I named you Champ: because I knew one day you’d be a champion.”

Champ licked his face, giving a little whimper.

“You were special to me. You were my very first pet, and I thought we would spend our lives together, growing up. But… Lemon Zinger is your owner, and I’m sure she loves you even more than I do. It’s wrong to make you choose between us, and I don’t want to see you hurting anymore after you’ve come so far.”

Releasing Champ he gave the dog a push. “Go on, now. It’s been so long and you’ve missed her so much.” He let out a shuddering breath.

Champ just sat there, looking up at him.

Pound was trying to hold back his feelings, but it was difficult. “JUST GO!” he snapped. “I’ll be fine, so don’t make this any harder than it has to be! Just get out of here!” His eyes clenched shut as he barely avoided sobbing.

Fluttershy and Pinkie were crying themselves, feeling terrible for Pound. There was nothing they could do here.

Champ whined, but eventually stood up and slowly walked toward Lemon with his head drooped.

Pound walked over to the stairs, but didn’t go up them. Instead, he sat on the bottom step hugging himself.

When Champ reached Lemon he gave her a halfhearted nuzzle.

Lemon stirred at his touch, shaking her head to focus. She looked down at Butch, seeing the pain in his eyes.

She then looked over at Pound, and felt her previous anger at him gone. She understood him far more than she thought. She couldn't just let things end like this.

With an exhale of breath she walked over towards the stairs where Pound was.

Author's Note:

Pound puts his feelings aside to spare Champ, but what does Lemon have to say about this now that she's seen his courage?

And who ultimately gets to keep him?

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