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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“Mama Bird, I was wondering if I could come in and borrow Bucky, there is a lesson I am trying to teach Dinky,” Lyra asked.

“Sure,” Derpy said, her head resting on Bucky’s withers, her ears perked for trouble. Not that there was any trouble. Bucky had fainted in the bathtub after Berry’s troubling remark, and was still somewhat addled.

Dinky followed Lyra in, and Lyra gestured to Dinky to get up on the bed. Dinky did so, slowly and carefully, and then walked over to Bucky’s side, prodding him with a hoof gently, followed by a nuzzle that touched her mother and Bucky at the same time.

“Dinky is going to have a close look at your horn,” Lyra explained. “This is a rare chance for her, because it is cracked.”

Dinky gently stepped up to where Bucky’s head lay on a pillow, and peered down at his horn, looking thoroughly disgusted.

“If you look at the crack, you can see the inside of the horn. It is full of marrow, a channel of nerves, and a few glands near the base. You can see the marrow, or what is sometimes called the ‘quick’ through the crack in the casing. The casing is made of hair actually, well, sort of. Just like horns on certain other animals. It is flexible and can be made to wiggle if touched,” Lyra explained. “The horn isn’t the only thing that makes a unicorn a unicorn.”

“What else is there?” Dinky asked. “I don’t see anything else.”

“Well, inside, there are glands, like under the horn. Unicorns also have several glands called the thaumaturgical glands and a special series of connected systems called the thaumaturgical system. It is a series of glands and special nerves, as well as a connecting series of vessels that carry a liquid called mana though the body. Sort of like blood vessels that allow blood to travel though the body. Right now, with a cracked horn, Bucky has no mana, or very little, and everything his body is doing right now is going towards repairing his horn. A long time ago, most unicorns died from this condition, not being able to eat enough food. Food gets converted into mana through a special process, refilling the various glands, bladders, and vessels that make up the thaumaturgical system,” Lyra explained in slow carefully pronounced words as Dinky stared at Bucky’s horn and occasionally poked Bucky on his shoulder.

“So unicorns are different than other ponies,” Dinky said, her brow furrowed in deep concentration and her ears twitching.

“All of the tribes have physiological differences,” Lyra replied.

“Big word,” Dinky said, frowning.

“I’m sorry, I-”

“I know what it means, you just keep tossing it around,” Dinky interrupted, causing Bucky to give a weak chuckle. “I get read to a lot and I ask what words mean. But I do appreciate keeping it simple.”

“Of course,” Lyra replied, smirking slightly.

Derpy reached out with her wing and stroked Dinky, looking at her and feeling thankful for such a good foal. Dinky folded her legs and gently settled against Bucky’s side.

“Pegasi have special salivary glands in their mouths that allow them to preen their wings, coating them with a waxy oily substance that protects them from water, and keeps the feathers healthy and shiny. Pegasi also have modified adrenaline glands, these glands emit a chemical that is faintly magical in nature that allows the skin and soft tissues to harden, allowing pegasi to survive high speed flight and high g-force maneuvers. Inside of their ears, pegasi have special inner ear organs that help them keep balance and direction while in flight,” Lyra said, sitting down beside the bed on the floor.

“What about earth ponies?” Dinky quipped.

“Earth ponies are amazing and mysterious creatures, and there is a lot about them we still don’t know,” Lyra said.

“We don’t?” Dinky asked.

“Nope,” replied Lyra. “In their frogs, earth ponies have special glands, and nopony knows what they do exactly. It is a mystery. They’ve been studied now for hundreds of years and they remain mysterious. Earth pony females had odd reproductive cycles that affect other females from other tribes. Earth pony females come into estrus four times a year and release two eggs when they do so. Now, both eggs are not always fertilised, but there are double the chances for a pregnancy. Being in close proximity to an earth pony female can cause females from other tribes to synch up their cycles, also causing other females from other tribes to experience estrus four times a year. Having an earth pony female around is good for any female that is having trouble becoming pregnant,” Lyra explained, grinning sheepishly.

“What about stallions?” Dinky asked, looking curious.

“Earth pony stallions have a special gift. With, uh, prolonged contact during certain activities, earth pony males can make a female come into estrus at any time, during any season, just by repeatedly trying to make foals over and over,” Lyra said, grinning sheepishly and blushing. “This is why there are so many earth ponies. They’re gifted at making foals.”

“Will Berry Punch help mommy make a foal?” Dinky asked, looking very serious and thoughtful.

“I would say it is very likely,” Lyra replied.

“So Piña has funny glands in her frogs. She’s ticklish in her frogs,” Dinky announced, her attention drifting someplace else. “That thing that makes pegasi have hard skin, is that why mommy doesn’t get hurt much when she crashes?” she asked, her attention drifting off to other places.

“It helps. When pegasi sense a crash coming, those modified glands flood the body with the chemical it secretes to help pegasi brace for impact.

“Neat,” Dinky replied.

 

 

Bon Bon settled on the bed, laying close to Bucky, and touched him gently with her hoof. It had been difficult for Berry to lure Derpy out of the room, but Bon Bon wanted to work alone. Bucky seemed fairly lucid, was propped up on pillows, had a drink with a straw, and a fresh canister hooked to his feeding tube.

“I want to talk with you, and I need you to be open with me,” Bon Bon said. “And you can call me Bonnie if you want,” she added.

Bucky nodded.

“Now, I don’t know why Princess Celestia seems to think I can help you, but she seemed very confident about it. I helped Lyra, I’m not sure how I helped Lyra, but Lyra was a very broken pony when I met her,” Bon Bon said as she settled in and got comfortable, within touching distance of Bucky.

“What happened to Lyra?” Bucky asked.

Bon Bon sighed. She knew she had Lyra’s permission to talk about anything, but it didn’t make it any easier. It made Bon Bon sad to think about Lyra’s broken days.

“Lyra suffered a mental break. Nopony knows exactly what caused Lyra to suffer the mental break, but she arrived in Ponyville by train one day, and she was a very broken unicorn. She kept hearing sounds. Bells. Noises. She ranted and muttered to herself. And ponies avoided her and kept their distance. Seeing that she was alone and suffering, I went to help her,” Bon Bon said.

“Why would you do that?” Bucky asked. “When nopony else did?”

“We earth ponies have strong herd instincts. She was alone. Outside of the herd. She was vulnerable. And I couldn’t believe nopony had gone to help her. I took Lyra to the hospital, got her checked in, and Princess Celestia showed up not long after. She thanked me for finding her student, and was quite worried. She tried to help Lyra, and couldn’t do very much to fix what was wrong. But Lyra was broken and needed somepony to care for her, and Celestia asked me if I would be willing to help a fellow pony. I said that I would. Celestia asked me to write her letters about Lyra’s progress and about our friendship if we started to develop one,” Bon Bon said, smiling faintly, her eyes misting over. “I didn’t know that Lyra was going to become my best friend and the love of my life back then, she was so hurt. So broken. Celestia explained to me that Lyra had some issues, even back when she was a student.”

“Celestia wants me to write letters as well about my emerging relationship with Derpy and Berry,” Bucky replied. “How odd. Celestia must like letters.”

“Princess Celestia probably just wants to know that the ponies she loves are okay,” Bon Bon returned.

“Of course,” Bucky answered, “do continue.”

“Lyra was pretty messed up when I found her,” Bon Bon said, looking troubled. “She’d scream if you touched her. She’d cut herself sometimes. Nothing too bad, just bad enough to snap her out of these fugue like states. I didn’t give up though, I kept being nice to her and trying to touch her and let her know that a pony cared for her.”

“I understand that actually, a little too well,” Bucky replied.

“Celestia said you suffered a mental break. A bad one. And that you need ponies to love you and look after you, just like Lyra did if you want to get better. Do you want to get better?” Bon Bon asked. “I asked Lyra this a long time ago, back when she could barely talk. She broke down and cried and started begging ‘yes’ over and over.”

“Yes, I am miserable the way I am,” Bucky admitted, finding it oddly easy to open up to Bon Bon.

“Good, I want you to get better,” Bon Bon said, gently touching him with a hoof.

“How do I change for the better and still hold back all this magic I have? How does Lyra do it? I don’t understand. Lyra seems almost normal now.”

“Lyra practices regular magic use, keeps to her hobbies, and keeps me as the central focus in her life, pushing everything else to the side. She trusts me and talks to me. She tells me everything. Everything, even the really troubling things that scare me sometimes. And I never stop being her friend. I never judge her. I make sure that Lyra knows that she can tell me anything at all. It is a troubling relationship though. Lyra doesn’t function well on her own and needs me around a lot of the time. Lyra says she cannot really connect to the herd around her unless I am there with her,” Bon Bon said.

“Wait, you are not with her now,” Bucky said, somewhat worried.

“Only for a short time. She’ll be alright. She knows her limits and will come running to me if there is a problem or if she feels panicked.” Bon Bon replied.

“What did you mean exactly by Lyra cannot connect to the herd without you?” Bucky asked, taking a sip of ice water after he spoke.

“It is strange… but Lyra depends on me like a blind pony depends on a trusted friend. Lyra cannot connect to other ponies very well, and she cannot connect to the herd around her, but she can connect to me. So she depends on me to have that connection for her. It is tricky to explain,” Bon Bon said, her muzzle scrunching.

“Actually, I think I understand,” Bucky sighed. “I’m blind too.”

“Oh,” Bon Bon answered.

“It’s funny, but without Berry Punch, I cannot seem to connect to anything. And now that you mention your situation with Lyra, I find this all very puzzling but familiar,” Bucky commented, sounding more than a little confused.

“Do you love Derpy?” Bon Bon asked, her brow creasing.

“Yes,” Bucky sighed. “I have so much trouble telling her that though. Or even getting myself to admit it… wait, why am I telling you this? I barely know you!”

Bon Bon shrugged and soothed Bucky’s nerves with a gentle touch from her hoof, rubbing his ribs softly.

“Same thing happens with Berry Punch, I just start blurting out stuff,” Bucky said, setting his head down upon his pillows and looking puzzled.

Bon Bon gently laid a hoof on Bucky’s shoulder. “Maybe Berry Punch is your seeing eye pony, just like I am for Lyra,” she suggested.

Bucky raised his head weakly and looked at Bon Bon, a thousand questions on his face, after a moment, he allowed his head to sink down to the pillows.

“Do you love them both?” Bon Bon asked, her hoof still on Bucky’s shoulder.

“So much so that I cannot express it,” Bucky confessed. “But for very different reasons between the two of them.”

“That seems reasonable,” Bon Bon replied. “Tell me about it,” she asked.

“I feel safe around Derpy. I don’t feel safe around Berry though. Berry scares me. She’s wild and unpredictable. But I think I like her because of that. When Derpy is around I don’t feel so cut off and threatened. I can relax my guard a little bit because I know she’s there watching over me. I find myself talking to Berry, saying things. Things I normally wouldn’t say. Berry says the most horrible things though, she actually made me faint earlier,” Bucky explained, looking pensive.

“But you feel connected to Berry and understand Derpy better when Berry is around?” Bon Bon asked.

“Yeah. Funny, when I met her, Berry offered to be a translator between Derpy and I. And she is.” Bucky admitted.

“So the two of them are the dual contrasts you need?” Bon Bon asked.

“What do you mean?” Bucky replied.

“Chocolates taste a whole lot better sometimes with a big juicy sweet tart cherry inside of it. Contrasts. By themselves, they are nice, but together, something magical happens. You need something different that, by themselves, neither one could truly provide, but together, all of you form a satisfying whole,” Bon Bon said.

“That seems reasonable,” Bucky stated. “So Berry allows me to connect to other ponies and Derpy allows me to feel safe around other ponies?”

“Perhaps,” Bon Bon said, now smiling. “You've been hurt. Injured. Those parts of you that allow you to connect to other ponies might be broken. Or damaged. Just like it is for Lyra. But Lyra gets to reconnect to the herd through me. Takes a lot of work and effort on her part though. It requires constant communication with me, and the ability to be open.”

“Berry says everything I wish I could say, but I am too afraid to do so,” Bucky confessed. “Just once, I wish I could be her and just let go just like she does. She’s fearless. And Derpy, she just grabs ponies and squeezes the horseapples out of them. She crushes them. She is so open with her affection, in ways I wish I could be. She’s so warm and the way that so many look to her for comfort. She’s needed… I want to be needed.”

“So what is stopping you?” Bon Bon asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Me,” Bucky replied. “And everything that has made me what I am.”

“Not for much longer, those mares are going to rip you apart. You are getting involved with a Shetland Isles pony and a pegasus.Both of which are dangerous cantankerous critters when faced alone. But together? Lyra and I might as well go ahead and throw you a wake right now in fine Shetland tradition,” Bon Bon said, laughing loudly, a painfully familiar lilt coming to her voice as she spoke.

 

Author's Note:

The first hint was "Bonnie."

So... Does anypony remember a few chapters back when Berry got tickled and bleated like a sheep?

 

 

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