• 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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3-3: Need to be great

At school the next day Pound was in high spirits, ready for another day of training. But when they all went outside for practice he noticed that Drill Bit looked bummed out.

“Morning, Drill Bit!” Pound said brightly to catch his attention. “You feeling all right?”

Drill let out a dismissive noise, turning away from him as he started his warm-up exercises.

Pound followed suit, deciding not to push him for the time being. Once they got going and the adrenaline started pumping he was sure Drill’s mood would improve.

He did his wing rotations and his wing-ups, feeling in great condition. When he finished his warm up he decided to start practicing on his own for a little bit, figuring Drill would come along when he was ready.

He took to the air, making his own little obstacle course for himself. He went around trees, bushes, and the playground equipment, incorporating some loops into the mix before he descended back onto the ground.

“That was pretty good,” came the voice of Drill Bit behind him, still sounding down.

Pound turned and smiled. “Thank you.”

“I guess I never really thought about it much, since we always trained together, but you really have come a long way from where you started. Watching you flying solo like that makes me feel like you’re almost ready to be on your own.”

Pound chuckled. “No way. I need you.”

Drill blinked. “Why?”

“To be the tall wall I need to fly over. You keep me on my hooves, and that keeps me inspired to keep going.”

“I see…”

“Come on.” He gestured upwards. “Let’s take to the skies. I don’t know what’s got you upset, but I’m sure the exercise will make you feel better.”

Drill let out a heavy breath. “My parents enrolled me in another race yesterday. I won first place again.”

Pound looked at him oddly. “You don’t sound very happy about it.”

“I guess that’s because I’m not.”

“I thought winning was what you lived for. What, was there no good competition?”

“Not really, but that’s not the real problem. I’m… confused.”

“About what?”

As Drill started to answer Ms. Nimble called out to them. “Come on, boys,” she said, slapping her hooves together. “This is class time. You’ll have plenty of time to talk at break.”

The vulnerable look on Drill’s face vanished, and he looked grumpy again. “Well, let’s go, loser!” He took to the air.

Pound looked after him, a curious look on his face. He wanted to know the answer to his question. Now he was going to have to wait, which meant that Drill would have to suffer longer.

He did his best to keep up with Drill Bit as they went through their daily routine, but it was obvious Drill wasn’t going to wait for him today. It seemed like he was trying to outrun his feelings.

Although he ached inside he knew there was nothing else to be done for now. Because everyone had different skill levels and they were only in kindergarten there wasn’t any structured lessons. You were just expected to keep on the move. It didn’t mean you weren’t allowed to rest, but there weren’t a whole lot of opportunities to just sit and talk.

It was obvious that it was what Drill Bit needed, though. As much as it stunk that he had to wait maybe this was the golden opportunity he had been waiting for, the chance for Drill Bit to lower his defenses and speak honestly about his feelings again.

Drill Bit spent most of class just pushing himself relentlessly until he was gasping for breath and had to sit down to catch his breath.

Pound just continued feeling worse and worse, wanting to help relieve his distress.

When lunch time arrived Pound grabbed a tray and stuffed some food into his mouth without really tasting it or even processing what he was eating in the first place.

Pumpkin noticed he looked down in the dumps, but he just told her he didn’t want to talk about it when she asked. She did notice his eyes keep moving over to a certain part of the cafeteria, and she could see Drill Bit looking glum as he slowly ate his lunch.

It didn’t take much thought to put the pieces together. Either the two of them had had a fight, or Drill Bit was having a problem and Pound felt sympathetic to him. All she could do was be supportive and adhere to his wishes.

When Pound finished his lunch he went to a relatively secluded part of the playground area and waited for Drill Bit to come out. Luckily he didn’t have to wait too long.

Drill Bit looked around, seeing Pound sitting off by himself, seemingly waiting for him. It annoyed him.

He flew over towards Pound, saying, “Don’t give me that look,” he said angrily. “I don’t want your pity.”

“I’m not pitying you,” he responded. “I just care about your feelings, that’s all.

“You said you were confused before. What are you confused about?”

Drill Bit gave him a glare. “Why should I tell you? You think you understand what I’m going through?”

“Maybe not, but I can listen.”

He gave Pound a shove. “It’s none of your business, now back off!” He stomped away about twenty feet and sat down, crossing his hooves.

Pound groaned. Having to hold in his feelings for most of the day Drill had had time to bury them behind a tough façade, much like Masky.

He walked over and sat down next to Drill, but gave him some space so he was out of shoving range, and he just waited, knowing he’d have to let Drill come to him on his own time.

He was reminded of how Pumpkin became friends with Peppermint. She had had to be patient to allow Peppermint to drop her guard.

He didn’t know how long he waited, but eventually Drill spoke again.

“This is your fault, you know that?”

Pound glanced over at him. “What did I do?”

“You’ve always been a weak pony, and my parents told me to stay away from the weak ponies with no motivation. Look where it’s gotten me. I’ve gotten so weak lately.”

“Helping other ponies isn’t being weak. That’s what we have teachers for: to teach us the stuff we haven’t learned to do ourselves.”

“That’s not what I meant. I’m training you because it’s easy. It lets me take a break from trying or putting in real effort.”

“Everyone needs a break from time to time.”

“I’m not allowed to take breaks,” Drill said darkly. “The only way I can move is forward.

“I never used to have a problem with my life. I thrived on competition and winning. It was so much fun. The only thing that has changed in my life is you, so it has to be your fault I’m not happy anymore.”

Pound took in a breath and let it out. “When you took me to the nurse you said that you were getting tired of competing. Maybe you’re just seeing that there’s something you’d rather do with your life.”

“That isn’t an option for me!” he replied sharply. “My parents want me to be the best. Even though I’m just a kid right now they’re thinking of my future, and if I ever want to make it big when I grow up it all starts now!”

He scrunched up a bit, burying his head in his knees. “I can’t be a loser. My brother is already in an extremely important position as the second-in-command in the Royal Guard. I have to be at least that good someday. My parents certainly expect me to take over when my brother retires.”

“But is that what you want?”

“It was… but now I’m not so sure. My brother used to just be another opponent to beat. I knew the only real thing he had on me was age and experience, and I would crush him too one day.

“But then he changed. He told me that story about how some worthless loser saved his life when he got too full of himself and buried himself in a rockslide.

“For the longest time I didn’t get it. I started training you at first because you stuck up for your sister, and because I thought it would help me understand my brother, but nothing changed… at least at first.”

Looking up towards the sky he continued, “I thought my brother was an idiot for changing because of one weakling. Now… now I feel like I’m starting to understand it. With my other four friends what brought us together was fighting against each other and the spirit of competition that pushed us to be our best.

“But our relationship is completely different. I hated you when I first met you. I kept trying to push you to see what you were made of, but all you did was cower and cry. It annoyed me so much.

“Then I started training you, and you still annoyed me because of your lack of progress. My brother pushed me to keep at it, but even when you started making progress I still didn’t think it was a big deal. It was nice to see you stop being such a huge loser, but that was about it. I certainly didn’t consider us friends. We just had a common goal in mind.”

Pound moved a little closer. “Like I said earlier, you had a good point about everyone else. They just expected me to be patient. You were the one who pushed me to become who I am now. I couldn’t have done this without you.

“You’re a little rough on me, and it can be a little uncomfortable sometimes, but I’m only this good now because of the way you are. I had to stop feeling sorry for myself and just work hard, accepting there weren’t any shortcuts to becoming great. That’s why I said I want you to keep training me. Without you to keep me on my hooves I might start slacking off, and I won’t become as great as I could be. You’re a great teacher.”

Drill glanced over at him. He looked like he wanted to say something, but then he turned his head away.

“What’s wrong?”

He let out a huff. “I’m… actually… enjoying training you.”

Pound blinked. “Really?”

“I guess there’s something more to it than just me growing weaker. When I think of where you started out compared to how you looked when you were practicing alone I felt… well… I don’t know how I felt. I guess… I just… felt good seeing your progress, knowing I helped to bring it about.”

Pound could see him blushing slightly. “It’s okay to feel proud of yourself for other things than just beating other ponies, you know?”

Drill let out another huff. “So what? It doesn’t change anything. I’m still just slacking off.”

“OR you’re starting to see that there’s other things you want to do with your talents than just destroy everyone in your way. Twilight, as the Princess of Friendship, works to teach other ponies how to make friends or repair friendships. In the same way you’ve been teaching me because you’re the most qualified to do so.”

Drill growled, standing up. “Just forget it!” he said angrily. “This sappy talk is OVER. I need to be great. I don’t have any other choice, so there’s no point in talking about this. I can’t believe I’ve been wasting my time with this nonsense.

“Just leave me alone! You’re on your own from now on you stupid weakling!”

He opened his wings, taking off towards the other side of the playground where his circle of friends were hanging out.

Pound watched him go, feeling an ache in his heart. It wasn’t his words that got to him. Drill regularly insulted him, if usually in a joking way. No, what got to him was seeing the disconnect between what he wanted and what he thought he had to do that was causing him such distress.

He was starting to get it. Drill’s pressure stemmed from family expectations. Or, at least, what he thought his parents expected of him. Drill’s brother being a personal protector of Princess Celestia herself had to weigh on Drill’s mind. He probably didn’t think he could ever compete with his big brother, or that his parents could care about him as much as his important brother. Not unless he did something just as amazing.

He didn’t know Drill enough to say for sure, but having grown up around dominating others in competition he probably equated victory with love. He wondered if Drill only got affection from his parents when he won a contest. He thought that would be pretty sad if that was true.

Just like the last time he talked to Drill he had a familiar feeling, like he had heard this before. He thought it was just about Masky, but there was definitely someone else he was thinking of.

Pressure, high expectations, the thought of taking over a family position…

The answer came to him then. He knew just where he had heard this from. When he came to that conclusion he thought of his talk with Twilight where she told them about how the Cutie Map only chooses certain ponies because they’re the ones best suited for the job. Even though he sympathized with Drill’s situation he really couldn’t understand what he was going through, because he hadn’t gone through it himself.

Sure, there was a time he felt like his parents loved Pumpkin more than him because he hadn’t flown yet while she could use magic, but just like with Drill neither of their real issues really had to with their siblings. He hadn’t been bothered by Pumpkin’s magic until he started getting bullied for not flying. He had been fortunate enough to be reassured by his mother that she loved him regardless of his accomplishments, or lack thereof.

The only thing he knew for sure was that he wouldn’t be as helpful to Drill Bit as she would.

As soon as he returned home he grabbed his magic journal and started writing.

“Dear Flurry Heart…”

Author's Note:

More Flurry Heart next chapter, and we'll see what Crystal's lessons did for Flurry's self-esteem.

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