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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24. 24

“To be honest, you are the last ponies I expected to see here,” said Filthy Rich, his eyes bleary and bloodshot. Filthy Rich looked like he had aged several years in the span of a few days, his lips were cracked and dry, and there were crusts in the corners of his eyes.

“Dinky wanted to make things right, I thought this was a bad idea,” Bucky said, looking down at Dinky, his face concerned, and then he brought his gaze back up to Filthy Rich, who now looked old. “Silver Spoon is apparently not taking visitors,” Bucky added.

“To be perfectly honest, nopony has been by to visit other than Cheerilee. Not one of Diamond Tiara’s classmates have been by to see her or comfort her. Silver Spoon’s parents stopped by to see me earlier today. They’re moving. Tea Spoon said, well, never mind what she said, what she said was wrong, I will not repeat her horrid words. But they are all moving as soon as Silver Spoon gets better,” Filthy Rich explained.

Dinky quietly began to sniffle, wrapping one foreleg around Bucky’s own foreleg, rubbing her face just below his knee. Piña, good little Piña, the earth pony that carried Dinky’s burdens, pressed her muzzle into Dinky’s neck, just behind Dinky’s ear and gave a gentle snort of affection.

“Does Dinky have your permission to visit Mister Rich?” Bucky asked, his voice low and soft, and very very full of worry.

“I want things to get better,” Filthy Rich said, looking down at Dinky. “Dinky, I said terrible things about you… I- I was wrong. You are a very good pony and you are very brave to come here,” he said, his eyes going misty, the crusts in the corners softening from moisture.

“Don’t cry Mister Rich, I can’t look when adults cry,” begged Dinky, looking upward once and then hiding her face again. With a gasp, Dinky pulled away from Bucky and Piña and went to Filthy Rich, throwing her forelegs around one of his forelegs and hugging tightly. “You need a hug,” she sobbed.

Filthy Rich froze.

He did not move, could not move, his face frozen in shock, his body as still as a statue.

Bucky felt incredibly awkward, but he also felt a fierce pride for a foal not his own. He made a mental note to pull Dinky aside privately and praise her, letting her know that she was a good foal and that she had her head screwed on right.

Filthy Rich seemed to thaw a bit, lifting up one foreleg not being hugged to gently rub Dinky on her side, his eyes rapidly flooding. “I don’t know how Diamond Tiara will feel about you being here, “ Filthy Rich said. “Come on, her room is down the hall.”

Filthy Rich was forced to walk with Dinky clinging to his leg, which he didn’t seem to mind. Bucky sensed the confusion coming from the earth pony, Diamond Tiara probably wasn’t very affectionate he guessed.

“I’m sad and I don’t know what to do,” Piña said, looking up at Bucky, who looked back down at her. “Everything is confusing. I really wanted to hate Diamond Tiara. Nothing makes sense,” the foal sniffled, lisping slightly from the nervousness that was making her lips quiver.

Bucky quietly resolved to spend more time with Piña, helping shape her moral compass, sensing a noble spirit. He said nothing, instead, he lowered his head and nuzzled her, causing himself a strange sensation as he did so. It was not the first time he had done this, but something about this particular time was different. Something felt different.

Filthy Rich carefully pushed open the door. “Diamond Tiara, you have visitors,” he said, stepping through the doorway, pulling Dinky along.

Bucky saw for the first time up close the extent of the damage. He could not recognise the foal in the bed. Her eyes were barely able to open, her face was lumpy and deformed. Her mouth could not close due to the swelling and deformation of her lips. Her ears looked like potatoes because they were so swollen.

And then, she began to squeal with alarm when she saw Dinky.

“Diamond Tiara, calm down, it is okay, she came here to apologise, to talk to you,” Filthy Rich said in a calming voice.

Diamond Tiara continued to squeal in panic, causing a nurse to come over and check on them all. The nurse stood watching, waiting, assessing the situation. She finally gave a nod, and then walked away, Diamond Tiara still squealing in panic.

Dinky slowly pulled away from Filthy Rich, approaching the bedside, Diamond Tiara falling silent, her barrel heaving with fear, the blanket covering her rising and falling rapidly.

Dinky stood, tears streaming, splashing on the floor in large flooding drops, looking pitiful in ways that only foals can look pitiful.

Bucky gently lifted the pink and yellow carnations out of his saddle bag and moved them to a vase sitting on the window sill. It remained empty. Nopony had brought flowers. Diamond Tiara’s eyes momentarily left Dinky and watched the flowers as they floated past. Bucky then filled the vase with water from a pitcher left sitting on the counter, carefully moving the flowers aside as he poured in the water.

“I’m so sorry,” Dinky said, her voice cracking with emotion, the last word coming out in a squeaky squeal.

The room remained silent, nopony spoke, nopony moved. Diamond Tiara lay silent.

The resiliency of herds and foals are funny things. Both can take a lot of injury and then recover, given the right circumstances. Diamond Tiara had recently had plenty of time to think about life, not having anything else to do, and she had noticed that nopony had come to see her other than Cheerilee, and she had not expected Cheerilee to come and comfort her. And she certainly hadn’t expected Dinky and Piña to arrive.

She lay there, still, quiet, even now trying to figure out why Dinky and Piña had come, feeling a peculiar sensation amidst all of her pain in her body.

She did not understand that these were ponies that cared about her well-being, that these were herd mates that were concerned about her and were desperately trying to reestablish a broken connection. She could not comprehend any of these things, her mind lacked the knowledge of what was taking place.

All she felt was a profound sense of relief that somepony cared enough about her to stop and offer comfort. Something inside broke, a perilously fragile barrier that could no longer hold. She began to sob, making great sucking snorting sounds through badly swollen nostrils that allowed her little air.

Dinky moved slowly to the bed, Piña now right behind her, both of them also crying, leaving a trail of droplets behind them as they moved together, until Dinky reached the bedside of Diamond Tiara. Dinky Doo carefully stood up on her hindhooves, balancing on the bed, and rested her forelegs on the bed for support. Knowing that Diamond Tiara was far too tender to touch, she shyly extended one hoof outwards towards Diamond Tiara, who turned away from her and buried her face into the pillow, still bawling. The hoof remained extended but moved no further.

Bucky felt himself growing a bit teary eyed, and wished Derpy and Berry were here to see this. The pegasus would be proud, and so would Berry.

Filthy Rich could no longer bear to watch and fled the room, making terrible whimpering sounds as he did so, Bucky watched him leave, wondering if it was grief or trust that moved him from his filly’s bedside.

Bucky hoped it was trust.

Two foals now stood at Diamond Tiara’s bedside, Piña Colada following Dinky Doo’s example, rising up and standing, allowing Dinky to lean on her slightly.

With agonising slowness, Diamond Tiara raised her hoof, the only thing not covered in stings, and extended it towards Dinky, never lifting her face from her pillow, still hiding, still sobbing, her hitching body making the entire bed shake.

Dinky moved her hoof, carefully touching the hoof extended to her, and Piña followed Dinky’s example, also gently touching the extended hoof, taking part in a moment that was clearly creating some kind of bond.

Bucky patiently waited, not daring to say anything, giving the foals the time they needed for this situation to correct itself and the forming bond to establish itself.

The herd had its own way of making repairs. It was a powerful force of nature that always managed to re-assert itself in some way. Even now, it worked to fix the broken bonds between the foals, it worked to fix the broken bonds that Bucky had, it was a relentless force that allowed equines to become one of the dominant life forms on a planet also inhabited by dragons. It guided family structures that created foals fit for survival, pushing the equine race ever forward.

Bucky watched the act of forgiveness he was witnessing, thankful to be witnessing it.

Forgiveness was a powerful act, and it made Bucky think about his parents.

 

 

Berry Punch had returned to Ponyville, leaving a perfumed wake behind her, her head high, her mane streaming out behind her, her tail billowing in the breeze as she cantered forward. She had had the most wonderful idea and she felt like a million bits. She turned an eye skyward, looking for a grey mare, wanting to tell somepony about her brilliant idea.

Not only was she going to fix up the farmhouse, she was going to see if she could get help fixing up the old distillery and turn it into a school. Sure, it was a mess now, but it could be fixed. And, if things continued to go well, a certain pair of special someponies could potentially live in the house, one could maybe teach a bit of magic, and help Berry brew her lovely elixirs of happiness, and life would be perfect. Derpy could quit her job as a mailmare, and chase her own destiny, bubble baths. Preferably bubble baths with two other ponies as often as the situation allowed. Berry had carefully ventured into the old farmhouse, nearly falling through the floor in one spot, cursing in a crazy language no foal should hear.  The tub was still in remarkably good condition, it needed a scrubbing more than anything, and it was large enough to fit four ponies. The wood burning water heater in the bathroom probably needed to be replaced with something a bit more modern.

Berry was quite shocked to see Thunderlane suddenly landing before her, his face stern. “Berry Punch, Bucky has taken Dinky Doo and Piña Colada to the hospital,” he said.

Berry did not give Thunderlane time to explain anything else in further detail as she took off at a full gallop for the hospital. Thunderlane spread his wings, taking off after her, hoping to find his flockmate Derpy Doo Hooves along the way. Flitter and Cloudchaser fell into formation with him, one on each wing. Berry was fast for an earth pony, athletic and in near perfect physical condition from all the wagon pulling she did. He flew, chasing after Berry Punch.

Berry raced onwards, her heart in her throat, terror welling up inside her.

 

 

A lone unicorn stood vigil in the doorway, solemnly standing watch over three foals, witnessing a new bond being formed, a bond formed in mutual grief and sorrow, forged through the understanding of pain, and the desire to no longer be alone.

Behind him, he heard a clatter of many hooves striking tile, but doing so quietly, or at least trying to do so.

He turned, seeing a sizable herd of his fellow equines approaching. Filthy Rich led the way, still looking profoundly sad, Thunderlane walking at his side looking serious and stern. Behind them, four mares walked. Derpy and Berry Punch, and two pegasus mares that Bucky did not know, but knew that he was about to meet. Derpy and Berry Punch both broke away from the group and hurried forward. Derpy still had her mailbag.

They joined Bucky, one standing on each side, still silent, looking through the door, their breathing heavy. Bucky looked at each of them, nodding slightly as he did so, and then turned his attention back to the foals. He heard faint sobbing coming from each side of him, and then two muzzles pressed into his neck, one on each side, he could feel two wet faces pressing against his pelt.

Behind him, he heard a voice.

“Thunderlane, you’re a chowderhead for telling her that her foal was taken to the hospital, you never tell a mother something like that, not in that context you big dummy.”

 

 

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