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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It had not been an easy morning. Bucky sighed, feeling exhausted, and he sat in his kitchen trying to put the pieces together from everything Sparkler had told him. It was difficult to focus on what needed to be thought about, Bucky’s thoughts kept betraying him and drifting towards unwanted ideas.

The midnight marauder was a mirror traveler, no doubt about that, and Bucky tried to focus on this because it was important. Everything that Sparkler had told him fit their modus operandi. The most telling sign was staying in a cave; Bucky now knew from his interrogation of the two mirror travelers that Luna’s magic had limits, and dreams were hidden deep beneath the ground, a fact that Luna was most upset about Bucky knowing.

But instead of trying to figure out relevant bits, important clues, Bucky kept thinking about his friend. His stupid, stupid friend. His stupid friend and the stupid thing Filthy Rich had done. Drumming his talons upon the table, Bucky scowled and festered in his own anger. And Bucky was angry. There was an inconsolable foal upstairs that had to be sedated after hearing the news. His own daughter, Sparkler, had been quite a mess. Everypony in his family had been torn apart by this.

And so Bucky seethed, he sat alone, stewing in his own anger, trying to deal with this in his own way and not doing a very good job of it. His thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of hooves thudding on his front porch, and he immediately slid out of his seat to answer the front door.

 

 

Flash Sentry nervously looked at Bucky, his ears pinned back, his expression almost fearful. “I really am sorry, sir,” Flash Sentry apologised as he watched Bucky’s scowl intensify. “We needed her awake though. There’s paperwork that is very important and she is needed to give a statement."

Taking a deep breath, Flash Sentry tried to contain his own emotion as he saw Sparkler coming down the stairs. Her mane was messy, her eyes were puffy and bloodshot. Her pelt was matted and pressed flat along one side of her face. With each step she took, Flash Sentry saw Bucky’s glower power increase exponentially, and the warlock had long ago crossed the threshold into the scowls of the eternally damned.

“Any word on what happened?” Sparkler asked as she took the last step and then stood in the entryway, looking first at Flash Sentry and then at her father. She took a step towards Bucky and gently kissed him on his cheek, trying to comfort herself just as much as she was trying to comfort him.

“It appears to have been an accident,” Flash Sentry stated in a soft voice.

“An accident? This was a bloody accident? HOW IN TARTARUS WAS THIS AN ACCIDENT?” Bucky demanded as the temperature in the entryway plunged and ice began to creep over the floor and the walls.

“The scene was carefully gone over and even Princess Twilight Sparkle became involved. She used some of her most powerful divination magic to help us sort out what happened. She can pull up ghostly images off of items and sometimes they show flashes, pictures of things that happened in the past few hours or even days,” Flash Sentry began, his voice sounding weary as well as exhausted, and it was only barely noon. “From what we’ve been able to put together, Mister Rich consumed a great deal of alcohol. At some point, he ate a bowl of granola and milk. And then he took some pills, laudanum. Mister Rich suffered from stomach ulcers and debilitating migraines. He had the laudanum to deal with pain. The doctor already told us that Mister Rich only took the pills rarely, which seems true, the bottle we found was mostly full. We found the remains of several partially digested pills in the vomit. Not enough to kill him, not even with the alcohol in his system. When we were moving him out of the house, a large clump of liquid swollen granola was expelled from his throat.”

“So he got drunk and choked to death on his own vomit?” Sparkler grumbled in a half awake voice, having trouble believing what she had just heard.

“It appears to be that way, yes. Twilight Sparkle’s spell shows him thrashing around in his bed. She does not know for how long, but he was clutching his head and gritting his teeth,” Flash Sentry reported, looking over at Bucky in concern.

“So… suffering a severe migraine, he gets up, still soused, in a lot of pain, takes a few pills, washes it down with a bottle of beer… and then sits at his desk rubbing his head and waiting for the pills to work?” Bucky questioned, his eye blinking in disbelief.

Nodding Flash Sentry’s ears swiveled forward. “That’s exactly what happened. Twilight Sparkle was able to get images from the desk. A lot of images. Mister Rich spent a lot of time at that desk and a large part of himself had rubbed off on it. She said it was very easy to pull images from the desk, easier than the bed, which gave her a headache.”

“So he pukes, gets big wad of granola caught in his throat, and then strangles to death with no help to be found,” Bucky summarised in a grief stricken voice. “He was always working. Of course his desk would have more of him than his bed did…”

“I’m afraid so, sir,” Flash Sentry murmured.

“Accidents happen,” Sparkler said sadly. “Somehow, that just makes this worse.” She cleared her throat. “I know I’m needed. Let me take a quick shower and I’ll head off into town with you.”

“Thank you Sparkler,” Flash Sentry stated. “I do have some good news. The magistrate, after all of about five minutes of consideration, signed the writ granting protective custody of those two foals, Singsong and Brass Note, to Galaxy Guide and Shining Star. He also stated his opinion that your actions were just about the wisest thing he felt could have been done and that you should be commended. I think they want to pin a medal on you or give you an award Sparkler, I think to try and make you feel better about all of this.”

“You know, oddly enough, something about that makes me feel just a tiny bit better,” Sparkler remarked as she stood there wiping her eyes with her foreleg. “I feel so unappreciated sometimes.”

“I don’t know how I feel any longer. Now I just feel angry and kinda empty inside,” Bucky said, offering a few words about how he felt.

“I thought it was intentional. I called him stupid. I said other things too after I found him. I can’t even remember. It seemed intentional at the time and I was very upset,” Sparkler said in a raspy voice. “I had better get moving. I’ve become one of the sorts of ponies that causes the world to stop if I dawdle,” she added as she turned and mounted the stairs, taking them several at a time, her hooves thumping upon the wooden steps.

“How is Ivory Scroll taking this?” Bucky asked in a low voice.

“She… she had to be taken to the hospital with chest pains and is currently isolated. I do not know how she is doing. She took this badly,” Flash Sentry responded, shaking his head with worry. “And Gala Appleby was quite grief stricken. She cried, but I think she’ll be okay… with time. I was the one that told Gala. Granny Smith is currently staying with her to keep an eye on the young mare.”

“Family is going to be important to get through this,” Bucky said in low dry voice.

“Diamond Tiara is going to need a family,” Flash Sentry stated in a solemn somber voice, his ears splaying out sideways.

“I’m aware of this,” Bucky replied, looking at Flash. “She should stay here until we can sort out what needs to be done.”

“I agree and so does the magister. Of course, you have the authority to override his choices had he disapproved… but he approves in this instance. We spoke briefly. He is one of your biggest supporters you know. Mister Rich’s last will and testament will need to be examined. I doubt that anypony will try to claim Diamond Tiara, and with her, whatever money Mister Rich had along with his house,” Flash Sentry said, talking about details, because details kept a pony from thinking about other more painful things in this situation.

“Would you like some coffee while you are waiting on Sparky?” Bucky questioned.

“Yes please, that sounds wonderful… nothing helps a rough day like coffee,” Flash Sentry answered, a soft sad smile spreading over his muzzle as he spoke.

 

 

Pressing her lips against the soft pink hairs of Diamond Tiara’s scalp, Derpy once more gave the foal a much needed kiss. The filly was limp beside her, heavily sedated, the news had not been taken well and almost immediately Diamond Tiara had become violently ill. She lay in the bed with the grief stricken foal under one wing, and pressed in all around her were the rest of her foals. Dinky, Piña, even Sentinel’s composure had been shattered.

As Dinky began to sniffle once more, Derpy moved her head around and kissed her. It was the only thing Derpy knew to try and keep the pain away. Try as she might, she couldn’t protect her foals from this, and she knew that this would leave scars, the most awful sort of scars, the ones on the inside. And her foals already had so many scars.

The door opened and a charcoal grey filly silently entered. Ripple leapt up on the bed, squeezing in, making room for herself, and completely squashing Dinky, Piña, and Sentinel between herself and Derpy. She heard a faint groan of protest and completely ignored it.

“Flash Sentry stopped by and delivered some news,” Ripple whispered in a soft voice. “When the time is right, there are some things you should hear mother. But for now, I think looking after these little ones is more important.”

Realising that she had one more foal in the bed that needed comforting, Derpy leaned over and kissed Ripple on the cheek, her lips brushing over a damp pelt. Hearing a whimper, she softly nuzzled Sentinel until he quieted, and then she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, wondering how long it would be before this dark cloud left from overhead so that the sun could shine again once more.

 

 

Standing in the doorway, Bucky looked down at three tear stained faces. One earth pony, one unicorn, and one little orange pegasus. A short distance away, Rainbow Dash stood silently by, a pained expression upon her face.

“Please, don’t turn them away. This is killing them,” Rainbow Dash begged, her tone motherly and full of concern. “I know Diamond Tiara is probably having a tough time right now, but they really want to see her. The entire town is reeling from this. Nopony knows what to do or how to feel.”

Rubbing his face with his right fetlock and sighing, Bucky nodded. “Come in. Diamond Tiara is upstairs in Dinky and Piña’s room. Derpy is with them. Go spend some time with her. Just try to be quiet. She’s been sedated, so mostly all she does is moan and drool a little.”

“We’ll be good,” Scootaloo promised.

“And quiet,” Sweetie Belle said in a shrill pained squeak.

“I wouldn’t know what to say anyway,” Apple Bloom said as she sniffled.

The three fillies trotted off, heading up the stairs, pushing past Bucky who still stood in the doorway. Clearing his throat, Bucky coughed a few times and then he looked at Rainbow Dash.

“There’s hot coffee and all kinds of comfort food,” Bucky said, making a gesture.

“That sounds really good,” Rainbow Dash replied as she moved for the door.  

“How is Glass Slipper?” Bucky asked. “I can’t help but notice that she is not here.”

“She’s at home with Twilight and Spike. I think they’re having themselves a good cry together. Twilight hasn’t been quite right since Griffonholm… none of us have I suppose. But this really messed Twilight up. And poor little Slippy… I mean, she just lost her parents and this just ripped the scab off. Now I have three little squirts to look after and I don’t know how to deal with all of this. Being a parent is awful. Everything hurts and I’m scared all the time now. I can’t even fly right. When I do something dangerous I freak out and start scolding myself. And when I heard the news… when I heard the news I didn’t even stop to think about how I felt… all I could think about was how much this was going to hurt my little ones… and I got this strange pain… I don’t like it… I don’t like it at all, not one bit,” Rainbow Dash babbled, her eyes blinking rapidly as her wings fluttered.

Closing the door, Bucky quietly walked the now motherly pegasus into the kitchen.

 

 

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