• 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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6-14: Tough love

All the children felt a deep sense of melancholy at Mayhem’s disappearance. For a minute none of them could do anything.

Tree Leaf hit a wall. “No!” he said angrily. “This… this isn’t how this is going to end! We went through too much to save him.”

“That’s right!” said Pound. “We’re getting him back whether he likes it or not. “

“To Fluttershy’s house!” said Pumpkin. “I’m sure he’s there.”

“Let’s go!” said Flurry. She saw the twins looking at her expectantly. “What?”

“Come on, Flurry. Teleport us there.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?” asked Pound. “You’re not out of magic, are you?”

She shook her head. “That’s not it. I just don’t know where I’m teleporting to.”

“To Fluttershy’s! Aren’t you listening?”

“Pound,” she said patiently, “I know where you want to go, but I don’t know where it is. I need to be able to picture it in my mind, so I can’t teleport somewhere I’ve never been.”

Pound’s face fell as he understood the problem. “Fine, then! We’ll hoof it. Me and Pumpkin know how to get there.”

“Sounds like a plan!” said Peppermint.

The six children ran down the stairs and out of the house, heading in the direction of Fluttershy’s house. Before they had gotten too far they heard an angry voice calling out to them.

“Pound Cake! Pumpkin Cake!”

The twins stopped, seeing their parents with Twilight. The others stopped right behind them.

Cup slowly stomped over to them. “And just where have all of you been?

“It was way too quiet for way too long, and then when I go to check on you all of you are gone! No note… no explanation. Me and your father have been worried sick! We were just about to get Twilight to set up a search party to find you.”

They had been so focused on their adventure that they hadn’t even considered how long they had been gone. Of course their absence had been noticed.

Pound was trotting in place, too full of anxiety to sit still. “We don’t have time to explain! We have a huge emergency on our hooves and we need to get to Fluttershy’s right now before it’s too late!”

“What kind of emergency?” asked Twilight.

Pumpkin bit her lip. As much as she would have liked to keep the adults out of it she knew it would be impossible now. They couldn’t keep it a secret forever. “Look, you’ll get the whole story later but we need to go NOW!”

Twilight considered the children. Each of them looked unnaturally keyed up. She couldn’t even begin to imagine what had gone on when they left their house, but she didn’t figure she was going to get any answers out of them in that state. “Fine, then. I’ll help you get to Fluttershy’s faster, but then I’m expecting an explanation for your disappearance.”

“Okay, okay!” said Pound. “Can we go now?”

Twilight’s horn lit up, taking the children, as well as her and the Cakes.

***

Discord was sipping some tea with Fluttershy when he felt it: a wave of emotions so strong that he dropped his cup and it shattered.

“Discord!” said Fluttershy with concern. “What’s wrong?”

Discord looked down at his stomach. Mayhem had just returned to him, despair and anguish radiating off of him. “Something is wrong with Mayhem. He’s really unhappy about something.”

He went to release the little draconequus from him, but Mayhem fought him, trying to stay inside him. He was persistent, though, and eventually Mayhem formed in front of them, looking ready to burst into tears.

“What are you doing?” Mayhem asked sadly. “Leave me alone! I want to go home!”

Fluttershy hadn’t seen Mayhem like this since the twin’s birthday party when Flurry had insulted him. “What happened, Mayhem?”

She went to give him a hug, but he slapped her hooves away, going into the corner and rocking back and forth.

Before she could pursue the issue she heard loud knocking on the door from several hooves.

Though it was rude Pound didn’t want to wait for her to answer, knowing each moment that passed could be too late. He tried the handle, and when it opened he called out, “Fluttershy!”

Mayhem tensed, and tried to run upstairs. Discord easily brought him back.

“What happened between all of you?” Fluttershy asked. “Did you get into a fight? It sure looks like they’re eager to make up. “

Mayhem couldn’t get away, so he turned to Pound and said angrily, “I TOLD you to just forget about me!”

Pound stomped his hoof. “And we told YOU that we’re not going to.”

Fluttershy grabbed Mayhem out of the air, and pulled the struggling draconequus over to the chair, hugging him around the chest. “I think it’s time to clear the air.”

“There’s nothing to talk about!” Mayhem cried out. “Just let me go home!”

“Well, we’re here,” said Cup. “Now I expect to hear a good reason for why you disappeared for the past few hours.”

“Hmm…” Fluttershy could see that things had gotten pretty complicated.

Mayhem began laughing a twisted laugh. “Nothing much. I only tried to kill all of them!” That made all of them tense. “So that’s that, right? Right, Princess Twilight? Now hurry up and banish me back home.”

“Stop it, Mayhem!” said Flurry. “This isn’t the way to resolve things.”

“If you won’t stop then I’ll force the issue.”

Twilight looked between Mayhem and the other children. Her first impression was that Mayhem was lying. She had seen the bond he shared with the others during Pound and Pumpkin’s birthday party.

Either way, something bad had happened between them. She just had to get the full story.

Fluttershy didn’t want to believe it either. “Mayhem, you shouldn’t say such things. That’s not who you really are.”

“Why don’t you ask them if I’m lying?” Mayhem asked smugly.

All eyes went to the children. “Well?” asked Twilight, expecting them to vehemently deny it. When all of them avoided looking at her and didn’t answer her question she felt a sense of dread.

“So it IS true?” Cup asked angrily.

Fluttershy looked upset. “Oh, Mayhem,” she said with a sniff. “Why?”

“Because I could, that’s why!”

Twilight sucked on her cheek. “Is that really the truth?”

“I was bored, so I decided to play a game of death with my dear friends.”

The children could see his angle now. He was going to paint himself in the worst light so he could be forced to stay inside Discord.

She put a hoof to her mouth, pondering. “Mayhem, you have the same kinds of powers as Discord. If that was actually what went down then why are they all still alive and well?”

“Exactly!” said Pound. “He just put us in a real-life superhero adventure where we had to beat up old villains and he gave us all superpowers. It was just a game, that’s all!”

Twilight looked between Pound and Mayhem, getting the feeling she was missing something. She felt like Mayhem was exaggerating his role in things, while Pound was being too dismissive.

She certainly wasn’t going to get an unbiased account from any of the children. “Discord, help me out here, please.”

“I got you,” he replied, sharing their memories with the adults.

Tears came down Fluttershy’s eyes as she saw just how far Mayhem was willing to go to alleviate his boredom.

Cup and Carrot were pretty furious at the danger Mayhem put their children through.

Twilight processed what she had seen.

Discord just crossed his arms and gave Mayhem a dirty look.

“Well, you’ve seen everything now,” said Mayhem. “You’ve seen the truth that I ruthlessly tried to destroy all my friends, now send me home already. I don’t regret anything, so punish me!”

“He does regret it!” said Masky strongly.

“He’s just saying he doesn’t,” said Tree Leaf.

“You saw it!” said Flurry.

Twilight tapped her hoof on the floor a few times, unsure of where to start.

“Please, Mayhem!” said Pumpkin, her eyes getting moist. “Tell the truth already.”

“You don’t really want to leave us,” said Pound. “We know that.”

“Mayhem… please be like Flurry,” Peppermint begged. “Running away isn’t going to make anybody happy.”

Mayhem got a pained look on his face, looking away. After a few moments his expression hardened. He looked up at Twilight. “Twilight, what do you think? You’re the ruler here. Don’t you think I should be punished? I’m clearly evil, so do your job as ruler.”

Twilight felt the stares of all the children on her. She took in a breath before saying, “What you did was certainly terrible. I don’t think anyone here would disagree with that.”

She looked towards the twins for a few moments before turning back to Mayhem. “Some months ago a certain pair of children went through a terrible experience, and they learned one of the most valuable lessons there is to learn.

“If you were irredeemable I would have to insist you be locked away, but those horrible feelings of guilt and shame swirling around you are proof that you’re not evil. You can try to hide it by pretending, but I saw through your memories that it’s only an act.”

“Why not give him what he wants?” asked Carrot. “It’s not like it’s being forced on him. He’s making his own choices, just like he did when he decided to put all of them through this.”

“He’s trying to take responsibility for his actions,” said Cup. “At the very least I can respect that about him.

“Though I suppose this is just going to be swept under the rug as usual. Everything worked out in the end, so we’ll just ignore it and smile, right?”

“You know it’s not like that, Mom,” said Pumpkin quietly.

“Oh? Then what IS it like, then? Tell me! I’m all ears.”

“You think that just because you forgave him that WE do too?” asked Carrot.

“He regretted losing control,” said Pound.

“Well, good for him.”

“Even if he was still just putting on an act at the very end and never intended for his ‘game’ to end with a death it wouldn’t change the fact that he put all of you through terrible experiences.”

Pound’s lip quivered. “You… you’re both hypocrites!”

“How do you figure?” asked Cup. “How have we contradicted ourselves?”

“Me and Pumpkin were very bad kids once. We stole Discord’s magic and it nearly wound up killing all of you. All of you let us off with a simple tickle torture.

“Twilight once acted like she was going to beat me up because I used to do the same to anyone that picked on Pumpkin. She pointed out that I shouldn’t be exempt from my own rules, so I should be beat up too for the times I hit Pumpkin.

“If YOU want to see Mayhem banished then stop giving us special treatment and ask Twilight to have us banished too!”

“If I recall,” said Carrot, “it was Mayhem who took you over and tried to kill us in the first place. That wasn’t your decision, now was it?”

“That doesn’t matter!” said Pumpkin, stomping a hoof. “If we hadn’t been greedy brats and stolen that magic in the first place that never would have happened. It’s still our fault.”

The twins and their parents were staring daggers at each other, neither willing to back down.

Flurry looked around awkwardly before standing up straight. “I… I, um…” She took a deep breath. “I am a princess just like Twilight and my mother, and I decided to forgive Mayhem.”

Cup glanced over at Flurry. “WELL THEN! I guess that settles that, then. We may not have the authority to decide on Mayhem’s punishment, being regular ponies, but we can certainly decide who our children hang out with.”

“And we don’t want you around him anymore,” finished Carrot.

The twins got mutinous looks on their faces.

The other children just watched the display going on.

“Cup. Carrot,” started Twilight, but Cup cut her off before she could say anymore.

“Butt out, Twilight!” the mare said fiercely. “You want us to treat you like anyone else, then fine. This isn’t your business, as you yourself said that you want us to have final authority over our own children.”

“Exactly!” said Carrot.

“Smarten up,” said Discord, speaking for the first time since the truth of Mayhem’s actions came out.

“Excuse me?” said Cup.

“Even if you ban them from seeing him openly I think you should know they’ll just do it in secret. It’s plastered all over their faces that they’re not planning on listening to you on this matter.”

Cup and Carrot both got sour looks on their faces.

“Why this time?” asked Pumpkin. “When Mayhem first came out you let us play with him, even though he had nearly caused so much pain. He didn’t even apologize for everything he did until a few weeks later when we were dealing with Masky and Drill Bit.

“So what’s different this time around?”

Carrot sucked on his cheek. “Back then we had Twilight and her Rainbow Power, and he was too weak to be a threat anymore.”

“It’s been quite a long time since then,” said Cup. “By this point Mayhem should know the value of love and friendship, and he still ignored it in favor of having a good time.”

“Mayhem believed in us!” said Pound. “He always expected us to stop him.”

“You’re children! It shouldn’t be up to you to save the world. That’s exactly why Flurry was suffering so much when you first met her.”

“We weren’t trying to save the world. We were trying to save a friend!”

“Even if it was hard on all of us we’d go through all of it again,” said Pumpkin. “Our bond of friendship allowed all of us to survive.

“You understand what friendship means to all of us, don’t you? Our bond was so strong we didn’t even need memories to remain connected to each other.”

“If… if you take that bond away there will always be a hole in our hearts,” said Pound, tears forming in the bottom of his eyes.

Cup groaned. “We’re… we’re not the bad guys here!” she said as tears streamed down her eyes. “I know that he’s your friend, and that you still care for him.” Her lip quivered. “B-b-but we’re still your parents. Can’t you understand how scared we are? This is the second time that you almost died because of him.”

Carrot started to cry as well. “That’s a bond that can never be broken as well. Without you in our lives it would hardly be worth living.”

As their parents anger turned to sadness the twins feelings shifted accordingly.

“We… we don’t want to see you suffering either,” said Pumpkin, “but we all risked our lives to save Mayhem from himself. We don’t want all of that to go to waste.”

“That’s what being a good friend means to us,” said Pound. “I know we’re too young for stuff like this, but we all managed to succeed despite that.

“Me and Pumpkin… we’ve solved a whole bunch of friendship problems together, and this was the biggest one of all. Don’t you believe in us?”

“Of course we believe in you!” said Carrot. “We’re proud of what you’ve managed to accomplish, but it doesn’t stop us from worrying about you.”

“Do you see it, Mayhem?” said Fluttershy gently. “Even if your friends are willing to overlook your actions their parents are still hesitant about you.”

She let out a sigh. “This was the last thing I wanted for you when this day started.”

“I know, Mommy,” he replied, sniffing. “I… I don’t know what came over me. I… I just felt so cooped up I stopped caring about who I hurt.”

“I hope you take this lesson to heart for the future. You have good friends. You’re very lucky they still want to be friends with you after everything you did to them. I hope you understand the gravity of their forgiveness.”

She ran a hoof through his hair. “It looks like we’re going to have to start from scratch in building you up into the good draconequus you were before.”

“It’s a waste of time.”

“Why do you say that, Mayhem?”

“If I go bad a hundred times more I’m sure they’ll come to my rescue every time, but I don’t want to put them through that ever again. I’ve seen the connections ponies have with each other. Besides their friends they also have families, and I’ve seen how much pain I can cause other ponies just by a domino effect.

“I won’t let it happen again. That’s why I’m giving up. I’m going to stay inside Discord forever, and never come out again. That way I know they’ll be safe from me.”

“Is that right?” Fluttershy’s whole attitude shifted. Gone was the friendly tone, trying to be helpful. All the warmth faded out of her voice, and her eyes narrowed, becoming almost unrecognizable. “Fine, then. It’s obvious you don’t actually care about your friends, so I agree that you should be locked away forever.”

Twilight blinked. She certainly didn’t expect to ever hear that from Fluttershy.

Cup and Carrot just stared. As angry and upset as they were they expected her to stay by his side.

“Fluttershy!” Pound started. Fluttershy turned her gaze to him, and he froze at the ferocious glare she gave him.

“You be quiet!” Fluttershy said coldly.

Pound couldn’t even muster an affirmative response. He was petrified with fear. When she turned her gaze back to Mayhem the effect faded, and he began to pant and tremble. He had thought Twilight was scary that time when Pumpkin had attacked her, but this was on a whole different level.

He had heard references to Fluttershy’s Stare a few times in his life, but he thought it was mainly a joke. Now he knew it was real.

Even though Fluttershy had only directly looked at Pound, not a one of the other children could open their mouths either. They could feel the overwhelming power radiating off of her.

Masky could hardly believe this was the same pony that had been so understanding of his own mistakes and talked him into bettering himself.

Fluttershy looked down at Mayhem derisively. “Any last words?”

Mayhem gulped. He couldn’t force himself to avert his eyes from hers, even though he desperately wanted to. “I… I-I-I do care about them. That’s why-” He let out a squeak as she glared at him again, his body clenching.

“No! You DON’T! What you’re actually saying is that your friends aren’t worth your time. They’re not worth IMPROVING yourself for. If you ACTUALLY cared about them, and what your friendship stands for, you’d accept responsibility for your actions by working to make it up to them.

“You sucked them into an alternate dimension. You threatened to kill their loved ones. You took away their memories of each other. And at the end you threatened to kill them. All in the name of relieving your boredom.

“And despite all that they STILL fought for you. They forgave you, and immediately ran over here to reassure you that they still wanted to know you despite your great mistakes.

“What’s YOUR response to their efforts? Your choice is to just give up entirely on improving and resigning yourself to evil.” She turned her head away from him. “In the end you’re nothing more than a coward. I was disappointed before, but now I’m just plain disgusted by you.”

That one stung. His face clenched up as tears came down his eyes.

Even though the children felt bad they were too scared of Fluttershy to offer Mayhem comforting.

Even Discord felt that one went too far. He had never seen Fluttershy like this before.

She turned back to him, a stoic expression on her face. “If you were still willing to try again, to work hard to get back to where you were before in your progress, then I would have gladly offered my hoof just like I did the day I met you. But if you’re not going to put in the slightest bit of effort because you believe that abandoning your friends is a better alternative then there’s nothing I can do for you.

“So fine. You’ll get exactly what you want. Discord!”

He flinched, walking over towards her. “Y-yes?”

Wordlessly she grabbed his arm, lifting his claw and moving it into a snapping position. “You get one chance, Mayhem. One opportunity. After this there is no going back.

“If you choose to go home now then that’s it. You’re done. You’ll lose your own identity, forever stuck inside the prison of another with no free will of your own. Your friends, the feeling of hugs, me as your mother… all of it will be gone, and you’ll spend the rest of your life watching life from the inside-out.

“It’s not what I want for you, but if that’s the kind of choice you’re going to make there’s nothing I could have done to help you anyway. If the feelings you have towards your friends are so weak that you’d rather see them suffer without you then it’s clear it’s too dangerous for you to be free.”

Mayhem sniffed, crying. “C-c-can’t you see I’m s-scared? I’m scared that something like this will happen again.”

“GOOD!” she yelled, making Mayhem wince again. “GOOD! You SHOULD be scared.” She poked him hard in the chest. “I want you to keep that feeling deep within your heart. I want you to remember how terrible this feels, so that if the urge to do this sort of thing pops up again that you’ll stop yourself. That’s the whole point of life experiences. Even if we make horrible mistakes we can LEARN from them to make ourselves better than we were before.

“Now! What’s it gonna be? Are you going or staying?”

Mayhem’s lower lip quivered, and he let out little moans. He was scared of himself and the damage he could cause if he ever lost himself again.

Her stare now wasn’t as intense, but he still wanted to escape her piercing eyes. When he turned his head to the side he noticed all his friends standing there, and as he saw the sad looks on their faces his eyes welled up with tears.

Despite the wrong he had done to them not a single one of them held it against him. They had every reason to despise him and never want to see him again, to be glad to see him gone forever, and yet they were still standing by his side. They didn’t want to let him go. They were silently begging him to stay.

The power of friendship was something he was still learning, but it was quite obvious its power was far beyond his own. Even without memories all his friends hearts had remained connected, quickly allowing them to grow to the point they defeated him in combat, something he thought for sure was impossible.

He thought of the hug Flurry gave him as she forgave him, recognizing him as a lost friend that needed her.

Boy, did he feel like another hug now. He didn’t want to leave his friends behind either, and if he left now he’d have to leave everything behind but his consciousness, and that was too high a price to pay. Fluttershy had been the first one to save him with a hug, and Flurry the second. The idea of never getting to experience that love again was unbearable.

“I… I wanna stay!” He held himself, beginning to sob as his eyes clenched shut. “I wanna stay! Please! I… I… I promise I’ll work hard so this sort of thing never happens again.”

"Now that's what I want to hear," said Fluttershy, setting him on the floor and giving him a gentle push towards the others.

A few seconds later they were all hugging him as he ran towards their open hooves.

The day they had met Fluttershy had told him that he could destroy everything if he wanted, but it would be a lonely existence without someone to share those memories with. He understood now what she meant by that. He wanted to keep these ponies by his side for as long as he could, and never hurt them again.

Author's Note:

With a little bit of pushing Fluttershy convinces the young draconequus to fight rather than run away.

We're not done yet. Still a little more to go.

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