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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23. 23

The road out of town was long and dusty. Little puffs of dust rose up off the earth as Berry Punch walked out towards the ancestral farmhouse. The farmhouse was run down, dilapidated, and in desperate need of attention. There was a vineyard that had overgrown a long, long time ago, a now wild strawberry patch, and various berry thickets, both raspberry and blackberry.

There was also the old distillery, a massive brick structure that was in dire need of repair. The brick walls were still as sturdy as ever, but the windows were gone and the roof had long since crumbled.

As she walked, she thought of dinner the night before, laying in bed with her friend long into the night, spooning and discussing the future, and the rather steamy shower she had shared with Bucky.

The memory of the shower made her breath quicken.

Dinner had been an event. Bucky was a slow and careful eater, well mannered, even by unicorn standards. He stopped to wipe his mouth after almost every bite, dirty or not, ate tiny bites with silverware, and never spoke with his mouth full.

Eating dinner at a table with Derpy and family had nearly destroyed him. It had not been anything like the birthday party, where they had eaten a few sandwiches, cake, and icecream in a very casual setting.

Sparkler, true to form, had displayed her best table manners, being in a public space, and Bucky had nearly expired from mortification. Sparkler’s roaring belch had managed to rouse the chef from the kitchen, who had come out to personally thank her for her compliments. The chef was, of course, a pegasus, which had caused Bucky some alarm. Bucky had been expecting a unicorn for some odd reason.

Derpy and family were boisterous eaters, there was great deal of slurping, chop licking, mutual face licking to clean each other’s faces, and poor Bucky was at a total loss to understand just what was going on.

Ahead, the farmhouse began to rise up into view.

Bucky had dealt well enough with the heat from the spicy food, but began to become quite distressed when his nose had begun to dribble near the end of the meal. He had hidden himself behind his napkin, carefully wiping his nose.

Dinky had innocently asked if magic could be used to pull boogers out of her booger bunker, which made Sparkler nearly choke on her food with laughter. Bucky had been completely unable to reply, merely displaying the proper technique with a napkin.

Berry Punch giggled to herself when she thought about her wandering hooves and Bucky’s clever response. She took a secret satisfaction in knowing that Bucky could be provoked into response, that the repressed and stuffy unicorn still had an impressive mischievous streak.

There was a warm and somewhat damp feminine physiological response when thinking about the mischievous streak and the air took on a smell that Bucky would easily confuse for perfume, had he been here to smell the now heavily scented air.

The only sounds were a heaving contented sigh and hoofbeats tapping upon the dirt road. Berry walked in silence, her tail waving from side to side, moving air over her overly warm and somewhat damp nethers, cooling off her body as she walked, fanning what one very confused unicorn would mistake for perfume.

Berry Punch stood at the entrance to the homestead, looking at the old farmhouse, and then her gaze fell upon the massive brick distillery. She stared at it for several minutes, blinking as she did so, taking note of the size and solidity of the structure. She had moved everything into Ponyville, getting thoroughly modern equipment and a matching workspace. But this structure, this structure was still useful, and Berry had the most wonderful idea.

This would be an ideal space for Dinky and other foals to learn magic.

 

 

The mailbag was especially heavy today, full of mail and several smaller packages. The larger packages required a different delivery service. With every flap of her wings, with every tug of the strap, Derpy quietly reminded herself of why she did what she did. Her foals. She had taken this job, and many other odd jobs when the situation presented itself, all in an attempt to keep her family together, fed, and happy. And no effort was too great. Family was the only thing that mattered. The flock helped, offering assistance, food, even bits sometimes, but Derpy was fiercely proud and resisted help. She had made her way on her own for the most part. All that mattered was Dinky and Sparker’s happiness, and she placed her own needs second.

And Dinky in particular certainly seemed happy with Bucky.

There was a hot warm flash in Derpy’s navel, the warmth spreading and blossoming through her hips as she flew. The day seemed entirely too warm suddenly, and the air became perfumed.

Sparkler was also quite taken with Bucky, and had given her approval. Not that Derpy needed Sparkler’s approval, but it was nice. Sparkler and Bucky were total opposites as far as unicorns go, and Derpy had witnessed that during last night’s dinner.

Dinner had been a bit confusing for the grey mailmare. Her children had been on their best manners, and, well, Derpy couldn’t understand Bucky’s manners. By pegasus standards, Bucky’s manners were appalling. Not once did he stop to help lick her face clean. She had been a little tearful about it later to Berry, when they were both lying in the bed, and Berry had consoled her, reminding her that Bucky simply did not know any better. Unicorns had magic and napkins, and no longer needed a friendly helpful lick to keep their muzzles immaculately clean. Unicorns and their magic removed a lot of the social interactions that kept a herd together, the common societal bonds of equine interaction.

Derpy steeled her resolve to teach Bucky better table manners. His were downright embarrassing and shameful, and had left behind some hurt feelings. Berry was right of course, it wasn’t Bucky’s fault, but it was never too late to learn better manners. A few meals at home perhaps, with Bucky firmly planted between her and Sparkler, and maybe a few quick swats to straighten him out should set everything straight.

Derpy had a very real fear that Dinky would pick up on Bucky’s manners, and that caused no end of stress and worry. This was a situation that needed correcting and soon, before it became a problem. Derpy did not want Dinky’s connections to the flock severed. Dinky was already ground bound, and that was trying enough. Bad manners would have Dinky shunned.

The mailmare had worked herself into a frightful state of worry as she traveled up the lane, gently placing mail into boxes, and occasionally leaving small packages on porches, stoops, and stairs.

The grey mare had strong feeling of affection for the now tutor of her foal, but he was going to be a work in progress for a very long time.

 

 

The classroom was filled with constant whispering and giggling, causing Cheerilee to turn around constantly and give a reproachful glare. Bucky sat in the corner, sitting in a chair, reading a book, occasionally looking up to watch Dinky.

And Dinky was miserable.

The class would not stop talking about what had happened, teasing about the situation with Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon to no end, and celebrating what Dinky had done. It was causing Dinky no end of emotional distress. Dinky had held it in though, even though she was on the verge of tears, and had been for almost an hour.

“I heard that Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are still lumpier than my mother’s oatmeal,” a young earth pony colt whispered to a young pegasus filly.

Dinky felt something boil up inside of her, and finally, the tears begin to spill. “STOP IT!” Dinky shrieked. “STOP MAKING FUN OF THEM! IT’S WRONG! JUST LIKE MAKING FUN OF MY MOMMY IS WRONG! STOP STOP STOP!” Dinky cried, sparks now spurting from her horn alarmingly.

Bucky looked up with some concern. “Come here Dinky,” Bucky beckoned, his tone commanding but gentle.

Dinky fled crying from her seat and ran to Bucky, leaping up into his forelegs and hugging him around his neck. He squeezed her back, trying to soothe her, the worrying sparks increasing in size and intensity.

Cheerilee looked very concerned. “Class, I want this talk to stop. Everypony can stay after school and think about Dinky’s example, feeling compassion for those who have wronged you,” Cheerilee said, her eyes narrowed with discontent.

“I wanna go!” Dinky wailed, her voice a high pitched screech.  

“Alright Dinks, we’ll be going, just try to calm down. You must calm down,” Bucky said, still hugging the little foal and stroking her back.

“I’m coming too!” cried Piña, looking at her classmates on either side of her. “You’re both mean. Shame on you!”

“Can Piña be excused with us Miss Cheerilee?” Bucky asked. “I think Piña will help Dinky calm down once we are out of here,” he added.

Cheerilee nodded, saying nothing. She continued to glare at her class.

Bucky gently set Dinky down, still sobbing, patting her one last time, and then began to herd the two small foals out the door, whispering soothing words to Dinky the whole time, his head low, his mouth inches from Dinky’s ear.

“All of you should be ashamed,” Cheerilee said. “You put her through this after she had endured such a traumatic event.”

Dinky dragged her hooves as she walked, leaning on Piña for comfort, tears flooding down her cheeks as she exited the door.

Bucky turned and gave one final icy glare to the classroom, raising his eyebrow and pointing his ears forward. Many foals flinched, and Cheerilee took note of the withering gaze and the devastating effect it had upon the foals.

She saw a pony who had all the makings of being a fine teacher.

 

 

“Dinky Doo Hooves, are you going to be alright?” Bucky asked, as they walked down the road together, not really knowing where they were going, just walking.

The foal did not respond, still walking with her face buried in Piña’s shoulder.

“Dinky Doofus, please say something…” Piña begged.

Dinky stopped suddenly, pulling her face away and lifting her head. “I want to go see them,” she sniffed, her barrel still hitching.

“Oh no, that’s a bad idea,” Bucky said, his eyes going wide with concern.

“I need to see them, I need to say I am sorry,” Dinky said. “If I don’t, I’m gonna burst and make a mess.”

“This is a bad idea Dinks,” Bucky said, shaking his head.

“I’ll be good. I’ll behave. But I need to make this right,” Dinky begged.

Bucky rubbed his face with a fetlock and puffed out his cheeks, taking a deep breath. He muttered quietly to himself. This was a terrible idea.

“It is better if I do this with you, if you don’t take me, I’ll ask mommy, and I know she’ll take me,” Dinky said.

Bucky groaned. He stood there, his mind coming up with all kinds of nightmarish scenarios, including a hospital full of bees. This was terrible idea, and he was a terrible pony for even considering it.

“Please?” Piña begged, speaking up in support of Dinky.

“Alright. One very short visit. But if I say we need to leave, we leave. No arguing. My word is final,” Bucky explained, his worry and his panic increasing even as he spoke. Even though he felt this was a terrible idea, he felt a fierce sense of pride knowing Dinky. Derpy had raised a good foal.

Dinky said nothing in reply, but merely sniffled. Piña threw a leg over Dinky’s withers and hugged. The two were clearly as close as sisters.

Bucky took off at a trot, the foals moving quickly to keep up.

“The hospital is back that way!’ Piña cried.

“But the flower stands are over this way,” Bucky argued good naturedly.

“Ooh, you're so sweet,” Piña said, “this is why my sister keeps talking about you.”

Bucky felt a hot blush sear his cheeks at the foal’s words. “We’ll grab a bite to eat, get some flowers, and then we will stop in and see Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon if we are allowed to visit them,” Bucky explained.

 

 

Author's Note:

I almost had too much fun writing about the differences in table manners.

I thought it was a good observation about the evolution of magic and the effect it would have on societal bonding, no longer having a need to engage in mutual grooming, which is a big part of pair bonding and social nurturing. Unicorns don't need another pony to scrub their backs, or clean their face, or really help them do much of anything. They have magic, and the need to rely on others has been greatly reduced. Eventually, you just sort of tear away from the herd because you don't actually need the herd. You can do everything for yourself.

A sad state of affairs really, for a sociable animal like a pony.

 
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