The Chase

Bucky Bitters struggles to escape the airborne affections of Derpy Hooves after a chance encounter caused them to bump noses together. His real mistake was trying to comfort the mare after the snoot-bump. Little does the poor stallion realise that their meeting was only the prologue to a journey that will change not only his life, but the lives around him forever.

This story is a sequel to The Catch

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17. 17

There was a knock upon the door. It was nearly noon, and the knock was a sturdy and commanding knock. Berry Punch stood near the door, nervous. Bucky glanced at out the window, and saw the one pony he didn’t want to see right now.

His magic ready, he pulled open the door and stared at Filthy Rich.

The two of them stared at one another for a while, Filthy Rich looking absolutely awful. He clearly had not slept. Bucky had a few odd bits of popcorn in his mane. There was a difficult silence that had built between them.

“Look, I wanted to say a few things, please, let me speak before you magic me away or slam the door,” asked Filthy Rich.

“I can be reasonable,” Bucky replied, his horn glowing, saying everything that really needed to be said. Bucky didn’t need to make threats. He merely needed to apply several thousand tons of force to a small singular area or fuse a couple of hydrogen atoms in the general vicinity of something he didn’t like.

“I am really sorry about yesterday, I said things, I said bad things, things I am not proud of right now, things that are keeping me from sleeping along with all of my other worries. I want to know, is Dinky okay? I don’t really know about magic, but I do know that surges can hurt…” Filthy Rich trailed off, not knowing what else to say.

“Dinky is fine,” replied Bucky.

“You don’t need to quit your job, but I understand if you do,” mumbled Filthy Rich, his exhaustion garbling his words.

“I have agreed to become Dinky’s tutor, to teach her control, to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, because it seems that there are some ponies around that like to antagonise other ponies, causing them to have severe magical-emotional outbursts,” Bucky replied.

Filthy Rich trembled for a moment, shook his head to clear it, and then looked at Bucky. “How are you going to pay your bills?” he asked, real concern on his face.

“I am being paid by the Crown to be a tutor so this foal doesn’t have to be forcibly taken from her mother,” Bucky replied, taking some private satisfaction in watching Filthy Rich flinch.

Filthy Rich licked his dry lips nervously, his ears drooping downwards, his back slumping, and his head dropped a bit. He no longer looked so proud. “Whatever the crown is paying you, I will pay for half of it. I will speak to Princess Celestia the first chance I get and try to make arrangements. Amends need to be made on my end. This should have never have happened. I, I don’t know what else to say, I’m sorry,” he said, his voice cracking several times from nervousness.

Bucky nodded, and slowly extended a hoof, looking Filthy Rich directly in the eye.

Filthy Rich looked down at Bucky’s hoof, staring at it for a moment, considering the gesture being made, and relief flooded over his contorted and stressed out features. He slowly raised his own hoof and knocked it against Bucky’s.

“And if there is anything you need for her studies, anything at all, don’t take the long trip into Canterlot, it is time consuming and expensive. Come and talk to me, I will have my agents procure anything you need at no expense to yourself. Please, keep her safe and at home with her mother. I’ve seen what losing a mother has done to Diamond Tiara, nopony deserves that,” Filthy Rich said, no longer able to meet Bucky’s gaze, his voice full of shame.  

“I will take that into consideration,” Bucky said, nodding slightly.

“I must be going,” Filthy Rich said, unable to raise his eyes from the ground, turning tail, and then leaving in a slow exhausted shuffle.

“I was not expecting that,” Berry said in a tone thick with disbelief.

“Neither was I,” replied Bucky, shutting the door.

 

 

“Sparkler, I heard what happened with Dinky, is there anything I can do to help?”

Sparkler heaved what she felt was an obligatory groan and hung her head, doing her best not to look at Rising Star. She was feeling particularly emotionally vulnerable, and she might be tempted to allow him to comfort her.

“Sparkler, really, I just want to talk to you, I want to help. Look, I know all about your fear about being a single mom… your mother told me a few things and a gang of pegasi hung around to give me meaningful looks and I, uh, well, I’d like to keep living with all of my limbs still connected to my body, and, uh…”

“Ooh I cannot believe she would do that!” Sparkler interrupted.

“Look your mother really loves you and…”

“Ugh, I could die from embarrassment right now,” she said, cutting Rising Star off again.

“Sparkler Doo Hooves, will you please let me talk to you!” Rising Star snapped.

Sparkler froze, silent, now looking up at Rising Star, who was wearing dark glasses. His black mane stood out in all directions, completely mussed up from the wind. She sat down, meekly, completely cowed, her entirely carefully constructed facade completely dismantled. Rising Star was looking at her, his blue eyes barely visible over the top edges of his dark glasses, his face composed and serious.

“Look, I made one mistake already, and I learned from it, and I’ve learned that you are the most amazing filly ever and that you are somepony worth knowing, and I am not going to screw that up. I want to get to know what is behind your horn and in between your ears. I am worried about your younger sister. My parents are worried sick about your younger sister, and all three of us are willing to help. We’re not particularly magical, but we’ve learned something living here in Ponyville and that is to be good neighbors. I am also worried about you and I know I am a bit of a creep for sneaking up on you and kissing you, and I would tell you I am sorry but I wouldn’t mean it, and gosh… Sparkler, are you alright? I know everybody is worried about Dinky, but how are you holding together? Somepony has to worry about you, you do all of the worrying for everypony else, looking after your sister, helping your mother, looking after Piña, and helping Berry pull wagons…” Rising Star said, a long string of words pouring out of his mouth, his nerves causing his ears to flicker wildly.

Sparkler continued to sit in stunned silence, her eyes blinking rapidly, her ears perked straight up.

“You’re like the only pony around my age that thinks at my level. Apple Cobbler was a vacuous airhead. You are way out of my league, but I am stupid enough to keep trying anyway,” Rising Star added, his glasses slipping further down his nose.

“Don’t stop trying,” gasped Sparkler, just barely able to get the words out. She could hear Rising Star’s gulp after she spoke. She felt uncomfortably hot and her frogs felt sweaty.

“I came to the conclusion that you and I don’t speak the same language,” confessed Rising Star. “I had to really think about our differences. I’m a colt, you’re a filly, I am a unicorn raised by unicorns, and you are a unicorn that acts just like a pegasus because you were raised by one. And we have communication issues. I aim to remedy that,” he added, his voice suffering from adolescent pitch changes and cracks.

Sparkler nodded.

Rising Star took one hesitant step closer to Sparkler, his movements slow and jerky, his lower lip quivering. He took another step and froze, looking terrified. He hiked his glasses up his nose with his magic, pressed his lips together, and then took another step.

Closing his eyes behind his glasses, he leaned forward and snoot-bumped Sparkler, he then raised one trembling foreleg, rubbed his fetlock against her cheek, and, without saying a word, he took off running.

Sparkler sat there in stunned silence.

“Don’t just sit there you eggheaded dweeb!” Rainbow Dash called down from her cloud. “Go after him! Are you stupid?”

Sparkler took a moment to process the events taking place, and then took off running once again after Rising Star, this time not angry, but something else…

Something pleasant.

Sparkler was chasing something worth having.

As she took off running, for a brief moment, Sparkler felt comfortable in her own skin, an odd sensation that she couldn’t make sense of.

What she did not know was that Rising Star’s words about wanting to get to know what was behind her horn and between her ears had resonated deep within her psyche, cutting past all of the body image issues that she had, a burden that so many teenage fillies had to bear, but was particularly bad for Sparkler because she had a hard time accepting her tribal identity. Her mind had taken hold of the notion that somepony was willing to look past what she felt was a flaw and it filled her with hope.

There was also the double whammy that Rising Star had just spoken pegasi to her, and it had inflamed her inner being that knew perfectly well what it was, even if the outside body didn’t agree with it, and her conscious mind sometimes doubted it.

She was a pegasus with earth pony sensibilities, trapped in the body of a unicorn, and her name was Sparkler Doo Hooves.

 

 

Berry Punch watched her sister Piña Colada use rubber mucilage to stick bits of macaroni to paper, sprawled out on the floor, bits of macaroni everywhere. Piña was having a quiet reflective moment, being a good earth pony, keeping her legs and body busy so her mind could do some serious thinking.

Berry Punch could read all of the signs.

In her many long musings, sometimes a bit pickled, Berry Punch had come to a conclusion about earth ponies. Not only did they have a connection to the earth, which she knew she had, quite a few had much higher senses of situational awareness, because reading other ponies really wasn’t all that different than reading seasons and the signs of nature. The pegasi had lost this ability for deep subconscious understanding at some point, after they had wings and flew away, sundering their connection to the earth, and they had created a highly physical language to replace it. Nonverbal communication was just a part of nature, something that Berry was deeply in touch with, a vital part of her pony essence, something she valued to no end. She was perfectly happy being an earth pony and she treasured her connection to the earth. Sensing the subtle communications within the herd was just as easy as always knowing which was north for her, something Berry treasured, knowing that no matter how confused or befuddled she might become while on a philosophical bender assisted by Liquid Learning, she could never become lost, being a living, walking compass.

She could feel the subtle vibrations that moved through a herd just as easily as she could feel the subtle vibrations of the earth communicating with her through her hooves.

Berry’s thoughts were interrupted by Dinky Doo letting out an exclamation of surprise. After smiling for a moment, she resumed her knitting, allowing her body to put forth effort so her brain could concentrate. One of Berry’s wisest decisions was making friends with Fluttershy and learning how to knit from the shy buttery yellow pegasus.

She thought once again of her words yesterday, the Founder’s Prayer. A unicorn to light my way, a pegasus to watch over me, and an earth pony to shoulder my heavy burdens.

She nearly dropped her knitting needles as she pondered these words, thinking about Bucky in the kitchen, lighting the way for Dinky Doo, her own efforts at trying to shoulder all of this and help Derpy carry this burden, and Derpy herself, watching over all of them, messed up eyes or no.

The words took on strange new meanings as she pondered them. She began to knit fiercely, getting her forelegs working, her tongue poking out from the corner of her mouth and curling upward, her brows furrowing and her ears falling forward and covering her eyes like a visor.

Perhaps ponies were incomplete when separated into tribes. One third of a solid whole. It was an intriguing thought for Berry. Earth ponies were the solid muscle and earthy wisdom of the whole pony, the natural go between for the staunch unicorns and the flighty pegasi. Unicorns could perhaps be compared to the mind of the whole pony, while pegasi were the sensory organs.

Which made earth ponies what exactly? thought Berry to herself. The central nervous system?

Her needles clicked and tinked purposefully, a long mass of knitted yellow yarn now extending from her needles. She understood that her analogy needed work, but the nebulous concept was forming in her mind, taking root, and finding substance.

As Berry savagely subdued her enemy yarn, she pondered the forming bond between Bucky, Derpy, and herself.

 

 

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