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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Flapping her wings carefully, Derpy gently set Bucky down on the ground. Beside her, Loch Skimmer was landing with Dinky and Piña riding on her back. With Bucky safely on the ground, Derpy landed beside him and folded her wings.

“If anything goes wrong, Loch and I will be at my old house packing stuff up. Dinky, Piña, enjoy the time with your father. It is important for little fillies to have quality time with their father,” Derpy said in a low voice. She reached back with her head and with a quick tug, pulled loose an annoying feather that was coming loose from her wing.

“I feel kinda bad for leaving everypony else out,” Piña murmured guiltily.

“Bucky is only one pony, and we all want time with him. You need time too. Now behave with your best manners. I mean it. And not pegasus manners either. All three of you,” Derpy said, narrowing her eyes at Bucky. “No pranks.”

Bucky, glancing around at the crowd staring at him, nodded slowly. “Best manners. Perform pranks. Gotcha.”

The grey pegasus leaned in close. “Please, this means so much to Piña, don’t go-”

“I was kidding,” Bucky interrupted. “I know how much this means to Piña. I give you my word as your husband and one of your best friends that I will behave and make them behave.”

Smooching Bucky on the cheek, Derpy flapped her wings in a burst of happiness. When she pulled away, she was beaming, her white teeth visible for all to see. “Come on Loch, we have a lot to do.”

“Come on my little ladies, Diamond Tiara should be waiting for us inside,” Bucky said as he made his way to the door. He turned his head around for one last longing glance at Derpy as she walked away, Loch Skimmer at her side.

 

 

“Greetings Pri-”

“No, just Bucky please. The reservations were under the name Bucky and Diamond Tiara should already be here waiting for us,” Bucky said, cutting the hostess off.

“Of course sir,” the hostess said, looking at Bucky nervously. “We’ve secured a private room for you so you can enjoy your time here.”

“And so other patrons can enjoy their time here as well no doubt,” Bucky muttered.

Looking mortified, the hostess froze, unsure of what to say as she stared wide eyed at Bucky. Her ears went back against her skull and a single rivulet of sweat trickled down from her mane, down her forehead, and pooled on her nasal bridge. “I didn’t mean to imply that sir.”

“You didn’t mean to imply it, but you did imply it. I didn’t ask for a private room. But I suppose it is for the best,” Bucky grumbled. “Come on girls, Diamond Tiara awaits.” Feeling annoyed and rather irritable, Bucky thought about placing a minor aversion spell upon himself so nopony would look at him.

The hostess led them through the establishment, and Bucky could see scrunched muzzles and pinned back ears. There were a few kind looks, and that made the walk through the large central tea room bearable. He could hear muttering with his sensitive ears. Disgusted muttering. And angry muttering. He had no doubt that some of the bureaucrats he had laid off frequented this establishment. He felt a painful twinge of panic, his old companion stabbing through his chest to say hello.

Suddenly, more than anything, he wanted out of the tea room and to be someplace comfortable.

The hostess ushered them into a small private room with comfortable plush chairs around a small circular table. Diamond Tiara waved, and then a look of concern spread over her face, her eyes narrowing and her mouth pursing into a tight worried pucker.

“Hiya Diamond,” Piña greeted as she climbed up into the chair next to Diamond Tiara.

“Heya,” Dinky said as she climbed up into the chair on the other side.

“Thank you,” Bucky said, dismissing the hostess. He was glad to see her go. He watched the fillies talking for a moment and then went to sit down in a large overstuffed high backed chair. He settled in, sitting on his haunches, and he rested his stump upon the table.

“Sorry the about the fuss,” Piña said, looking at her father apologetically.

“Not your fault,” Bucky replied. “The table is strangely empty for a tea party.”

“Service should be arriving soon. I used to come here all the time with Silv…” Diamond Tiara said, her words fading into a pained exhale. She looked around, her eyes narrowing and pleading look overcame her features for a moment. She took a deep breath before she continued. “This is a full service, or high tea. There will be several types of tea served, different types of scones, both sweet and savoury, I recommend the cheddar and chive scones, they are delicious, the lemon curd is nice, there will be egg salad and cucumber and watercress sandwiches, and there is usually a cheese sampler platter and crackers of different types.”

“You know a lot about this stuff,” Dinky remarked.

Swallowing nervously, Diamond Tiara nodded. “I have to know about this stuff because of my daddy… he would bring me along to help him charm clients and I spent hundreds of hours taking etiquette lessons as a foal,” she admitted.

Piña leaned near the table, lifted her head up high, rested one hoof and fetlock upon the table, and then folded her other hoof over the first, looking very prim and proper. She managed to look dignified for all of five seconds before she began to giggle.

Unable to help himself, Bucky thought about how useful Diamond Tiara would be in Sentinel’s future. Sentinel was a little rough around the edges for all of his stuffiness, and Diamond Tiara’s fine social polish would be an asset to his endeavours as a knight. He silently cursed himself for thinking like a Canterlot unicorn, and then reconsidered and wondered if he was just being a concerned parent.

“The walls are fuzzy,” Dinky observed.

“They’re covered in crushed velvet,” Diamond Tiara replied.

“This place is fancy,” Piña said. “This is so neat. I’ve been dreaming of this day.”

“The chairs are slickery,” Dinky said, looking down at what she is sitting on.

“They’re made of silk,” Bucky commented as he prodded the seat he was sitting on with his front hoof. “So is the tablecloth I think. Even by unicorn standards, this is swanky.”

“Even the ceiling has fuzzy stuff. And the light cover is stained glass. So pretty,” Piña said in awe, looking up. “What is the wood paneling called?”

“Wainscotting and crown molding,” Bucky replied.

“Actually, this is boiserie, far more ornate than wainscotting,” Diamond Tiara gently corrected, her ears splaying out the sides submissively.

“Diamond, relax,” Bucky said with a gesture of his remaining front hoof. He watched her take a deep breath and close her eyes for a moment. She was clearly nervous and high strung. “You don’t need to worry about making a good impression for me.”

“Thank you, sir,” Diamond Tiara said in a low voice. “I want you to like me.”

“I do,” Bucky responded.

“She wants you to like her so Sentinel will like her,” Piña teased.

Turning a bright shade of pink, Diamond Tiara gnawed on her lip nervously but said nothing. She rubbed her front hooves together fretfully, and then reached up and smoothed her mane back behind her twitching ears. A loud gurgle came from her stomach and she looked even more embarrassed.

Piña giggled.

“Piña, you shouldn’t tease,” Dinky grunted.

“I wasn’t teasing in a bad way,” Piña protested.

“Well, look at her, she’s miserable,” Dinky retorted.

“I’m fine,” Diamond Tiara squeaked.

“She’s just madly in love,” Piña teased.

“Piña!” Bucky said firmly.

Fanning herself with her hoof, Diamond Tiara slumped down in her chair, her impeccable manners now forgotten. She took a few deep breaths and her eyes darted from Piña to Dinky. Finally, she composed herself and placed her hoof back down upon the table, poking a folded napkin nervously.

“Sorry Diamond,” Piña whispered, realising just how flustered her friend was.

The door opened and a unicorn with a silver serving cart pushed her way inside. She began setting the table, laying out platters and tiered serving trays laden with food. She set out several teapots, each covered with a tea cosy, a pitcher of cream, and many other things from her serving cart.

“Fresh hot rhubarb pies just came out of the oven. They’ll take a while to cool, but I will bring you a few in a little while. And if I may be so forward Mister Bitters, begging your pardon,” the serving mare said in a low humble voice.

“Yes?’ Bucky answered.

“You did a brave thing. You did a good thing. You’ve made the lives of a lot of ponies better, including us unicorns, showing that not all of us are bad. I have a colt that wants to grow up and be a knight like you. He’s dying to meet you milord,” the mare said in a hushed low voice.

“I am going to be opening a school for ponies soon. Make sure you enroll him. We’ll get to know one another soon enough, I am certain,” Bucky said, smiling carefully and trying to not reveal his teeth.

“Thank you milord… but I am rather poor… I can’t-”

“You WILL enroll him, cost is not an issue,” Bucky interrupted.

“Thank you, thank you so much, I wish I could do more than say thank you,” the server gushed as she set the final items out upon the table. “Ponies say a lot of things about you… sir… I’ve never believed any of the bad things ponies say. I’ll make sure to tell everypony how kind you are,” she promised.

“Thank you,” Bucky replied in a warm sincere voice.

The serving mare quietly backed out of the room, bowing her head one last time as she slipped out of the door and then shut it behind her, leaving the group of ponies alone once again.

“Sentinel is going to have a tough act to follow,” Diamond Tiara murmured in a thoughtful voice.

“He’s going to need help,” Bucky said to Diamond Tiara, openly dropping a hint. He looked at the three fillies. “Dig in. Manners aren’t so important back here in private. Just try not to get anything on the walls or the ceiling. I’ll make sure to voice to your mother that you were on your best behaviour if you will do the same for me,” Bucky said, making his foals an offer they couldn’t refuse.

“The teapots are hot, can somepony please pour me some green tea?” Piña requested.

Bucky studied the teapots for a moment, and saw a pot marked with a black leaf, a green leaf, and the third pot had a red leaf. He lifted the green tea and poured Piña some, and when finished, poured some for himself. He watched as she added lemon juice and honey to her tea and then followed her example.

Lifting the pot with the red leaf in her magic, Dinky poured a measure of cream into her cup, and then carefully filled it the rest of the way with rooibos tea. She looked at Bucky, and beamed when he nodded. Adding the cream first was important. She knew that if she poured cream into hot tea, it would scald and taste terrible, something she had learned from her father. Adding cream to the cup first and then adding the tea slowly allowed the cream to heat gradually. She added a few spoonfuls of sugar to her tea and then eyed the food, licking her lips.

Diamond Tiara went for the black tea, lifting it carefully, pouring it into a cup, she added a whole slice of lemon and then a single spoonful of sugar. She looked around the table, surveying what had been brought out. “Pasties!” she cried, seeing a favourite treat. “Kinda makes sense too, with the shortages. Flour is common enough, and it is easy to get full on little pies.”

“I wonder what is in the pasties?” Dinky asked.

“Usually fruit or sometimes vegetables and cream cheese,” Diamond Tiara replied.

“That sounds good,” Dinky said, snatching a few steaming pasties in her magic and placing them on her plate. She continued to hunt for other foodstuffs that she loved, and after looking around for a bit, added a few sandwich slivers to her plate, all of them egg salad.

“Wanna sleep over?” Piña asked.

“Dinky is eating egg salad sandwiches,” Diamond Tiara replied, casting a worried look at the unicorn beside her.

“So, we eat egg salad sammiches and we destroy her. Together,” Piña giggled.

Dinky, her mouth full of egg salad sandwich, scowled at Piña and gave her the stinkeye.

Bucky chortled as he loaded his plate down with little assorted cheese triangles and crackers. “If you want to stay over, you may,” Bucky offered. Mister Rich wanted his daughter to spend as much time around other good ponies as equinely possible, and Bucky was all to happy to oblige.

“Okay,” Diamond Tiara said as she carefully took a few pasties and placed them on her plate.

“So mama Derpy gave me this book, the same one that Dinky got, telling me that I am a grown up filly now, something I already knew. Since I am so grown up, can I have an allowance?” Piña asked and then crammed a whole cheddar scone into her maw.

“Hey, I wanf an awowfance,” Dinky said around a mouthful of sandwich.

“If you want an allowance, you have to work for it,” Bucky replied, raising his eyebrow over his surviving eye at his fillies.

“Aw, that’s asking a bit much,” Piña grumbled.

“Loch Skimmer has two jobs already,” Bucky said before he took a sip of tea.

“Yeah, well, we study and practice magic all the time. And we’ll be starting school soon,” Dinky argued after she swallowed.

Sensing an opportunity, Bucky leaned forward and pressed his advantage. “Every hour you spend studying each night after school will get you a bit, for a maximum of three bits for three hours a night,” he offered.

“That’s fifteen bits a week if they study. That’s kinda low,” Diamond Tiara stated, leaning forward to engage Bucky. “A single trip to Sugarcube Corner with one cupcake and one milkshake is six bits. That’s only two trips to Sugarcube Corner with three bits left over. There is not much of a chance for them to be generous to their friends with that little cashflow.”

Scowling, Bucky sat up straight and glared at Diamond Tiara, his eye narrowing. He began to tap his surviving front hoof upon the table thoughtfully. “If you study three hours a night five nights a week, there will be a five bit bonus added for a total of twenty bits a week. If you want more bits, you’ll have to do chores. Both of you. And this doesn’t mean letting Dinky do all of the work with her magic while you do nothing but watch Piña,” Bucky said, making a return offer.

“That’s not a bad deal, but he didn’t make clear how much the other jobs pay,” Diamond Tiara warned. “Be careful, he’s an accountant and he’s crafty. Daddy says to never trust an accountant unless you pay their salary, and that’s only if they have an ironclad contract.”

“Daddy, you wouldn’t cheat us, would you?” Piña inquired sweetly.

“No!” Bucky said nervously.

“Will these chores be paid by an hourly rate or by flat rate per chore?” Diamond Tiara questioned.

“Are you some kind of lawyer?” Bucky asked.

“Actually, I am a certified notary public. I process a lot of my daddy’s papers for him. I’ve thought about studying law or becoming a paralegal. But there are currently not many laws in existence,” Diamond Tiara replied.

“Flat rate per chore, with exceptions for really hard work, agreed upon by a case by case basis,” Bucky offered, his burning stare focused on Diamond Tiara. He took a sip of tea and felt immensely proud of a foal that was not his own.

“That’s  mostly a fair deal,” Diamond Tiara said to her cohorts.

“We can agree to that,” Dinky said, giving her father a shrewd look.

“I think we can work together,” Piña agreed, casting a glance at her sister, then Diamond Tiara, and finally, her father. She stuffed a another whole scone into her mouth and chewed slowly as she stared at her daddy.

“You fillies are ruthless,” Bucky stated. “I’m proud of you for it too.”

“Even me?” Diamond Tiara asked.

“Even you,” Bucky replied. He watched as Diamond Tiara’s hard edge softened and the filly began to fumble for words while turning a brighter shade of pink. “You’ve come a long way. Never discount the progress you’ve made.”

“Thank… you…” Diamond Tiara stammered.

“I hope we get rhubarb pie soon,” Dinky said, changing the subject. She prodded Diamond Tiara with her hoof and then patted her on the shoulder.

“So Piña, is this everything you hoped it would be?” Bucky inquired before he gobbled a cracker with cheese on it.

“Yup,” Piña answered in a chirpy voice. She turned her hungry eye upon a plate of cookies and grabbed several. “I wish Ripple was here.”

“Ripple had to go with Lugus. The spiders in the Everfree have overpopulated a bit and are now trying to hunt new sources of food, like ponies,” Bucky said to Piña.

“I know why she couldn’t be here, I just wish she could be. She’s still young enough to have fun and she’s girly in her own way,” Piña responded. She crammed a cookie into her mouth and chewed noisily.

“I hope Ripple stays safe,” Diamond Tiara said in a worried voice.

“She and Sentinel already killed one spider. She’ll be fine. She’s with Lugus and Lugus is huge. I saw Lugus lift up a whole wagon into the air,” Dinky said as she held her teacup between her hooves.

“Ripple deserves an allowance,” Piña stated.

“She sure does,” Bucky agreed.

“Hey… hey hey hey, if we bring you dead monsters from the Everfree, will you pay us?” Dinky asked, excited from her good idea, locking her gaze upon her father.

“No,” Bucky replied. “But I might save you from Derpy wing slapping you to death and praise you for doing a good deed.”

Scowling, Dinky had nothing else to say to her father about the issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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