A weary sigh escaped the young colt as he left the schoolyard, the shouts and peals of other foals becoming softer and softer as he went. The path was worn down by countless generations making this same trek to and from school, not quite a dirt path or one overgrown with grass and bearing the tiny hoofprints from the trip to school. Around him was a steady ebb and flow of mares and stallions picking up their children, walking to and from the school as he put distance between himself and the red brick building.
Red Pippin's young body felt heavier than it had been in all of his young life. His hooves were dragging, his head hung low, and if it were any longer, his tail would be trailing in the dirt behind him. Even his ears were hanging limply from his skull, as he kept his eyes trained on the path in front of him.
"Piii~IIIIIIII~pah!!!" an excited, youthful voice broke the silence around Red somewhere behind him. A soft groan of exasperation and fatigue passed him, and he paused, awaiting his friend as the other foal caught up to him. "Pip-iiin, why didn't you wait for me?! We were gonna walk home together, remember?"
"Sorry," Red mumbled under his breath, glancing at Passion Fruit as she took up her signature hopping gait to his right. The two walked for some time in silence, leaving the bulk of Ponyville's populace behind them, when Passion poked his side with a forehoof. He twisted away from her in surprise and stopped in the middle of the path, shooting her a glare. "Quiddit!"
"Not until you stop frowning!" she said, trotting to stand in front of him. She planted her hindquarters in the dirt and began poking him again, despite his mumbled protests. Finally, with a pouty huff, she planted her hooves on either side of his face, and forced his mouth into a smile. "Smiiiile, seeee? That wasn't so hard, was it?"
He continued staring at her, frustration and weariness plain on all of his features, and eventually she released him with a disappointed sigh. Her ears fell in the mess of her pink and red mane, bottom lip quivering as she pulled a nearly comical pout.
"C'mon, Pip, what's wrong?" she asked, and tilted her head at him. Red grumbled under his breath and turned away from her, not quite sure how to put his feelings into words. Passion slid forward on her belly until she was lying under his field of vision, rolling onto her back to stare up at him expectantly. "You can tell me! C'moooon, I'm your friend, remember? We can tell each other anything! Riiiight?"
"And we can trust each other, no matter what! Riiiight?"
"Then you can tell me what's eating you! Riiiight?"
"Ugh," Red finally relented, tossing his head back in frustration. "I'm mad because of the way the other foals was playin'-"
"...ugh, fine, were playing durin' recess!"
"Were those silly heads teasing you, Pip?" Passion asked, her tone surprisingly sober and serious. Red gaped at her for a moment and snorted, shaking his head emphatically.
"No, not my recess! Your recess!" he explained hotly. Passion sat up and stared at him in confusion, head tilted to one side. "I was watchin' through the window while you were at recess. Teacher had a window open, to let some fresh air in, so I could hear 'em too...callin' you half-born, freak, an reta-"
"Shhh-shshshtshhh!!" Passion Fruit cut Red off, planting a hoof over his muzzle firmly and cutting him off mid-word. She glanced around suspiciously before glowering up at him, in an expression that reminded him a little too much like his mother when he got into trouble. "We're not supposed to say that word, remember?"
"But, they were callin' you that!"
"Just because they were saying mean things, doesn't mean you need to repeat mean things," Passion said, sticking her muzzle up into the air imperiously. "And besides...they were just playing, right? They didn't mean it."
"...Pash, they were bullyin' you," Red said firmly. Passion's posture loosened some, and Red felt a stab of guilt to the side. "M'sorry, but that's what it was."
"W-well, I mean...maybe not," Passion said, scratching one foreleg nervously. "Aunt Jackie says that some foals are real rough when they play."
"Not that rough," Red said, pointing at her right flank. Passion looked at the spot over her ribcage which was beginning to bloom into a nasty bruise, roughly the size and shape of a young foal's hoofprint. Passion huffed and gingerly rubbed at the spot just below her right wing, or where a right wing should have been.
"Well...even if it was bullying, which it could have not been," Passion said, "we can't let it ruin our day. There's still the whole afternoon to play and stuff! And we're gonna be meeting Lead, Mythic and the others f--"
"I don't wanna play with them anymore," Red said. He glared at the path under his hooves as silence stretched between them. "They don't stand up for you anymore. Don't like playin' with them anymore."
"W-well...okay, we don't have to play with them today," Passion said uncertainly. She sighed before she bumped him playfully with her shoulder, and leapt away from him as he glanced up, still glowering. "C'mon, I'll race ya!"
With a sigh, Red Pippin let her gain the lead, before he took off after her. Leaving the bad feelings behind him, and hoping that he and Passion could find something fun to do to keep his mind off how badly his best friend had been treated.
A glance into the dynamic of Red/Pip and Passion before things got bleh.
Leading Light is Twilight Sparkle's son, and Mythic Sky is Rainbow Dash's. The 'others' Passion brings up are the rest of the Element's kids. (Names are subject to change of course.)
Art and designs (c) to me