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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“That went much better than the first time,” Twilight said as she heaved a sigh of relief. She took another deep breath and let the cold air fill her lungs. She was still angry even if she wasn’t showing it. She took another gulp of cold crisp air and closed her eyes for a moment.

“And nopony was called a ‘mud pony’ this time,” Berry Punch added in a voice dripping with acidic sarcasm. The earth pony let out a bitter laugh and rolled her eyes.

“Well, the salesfilly did flirt with Twilight Sparkle just a little bit.” Bucky’s smiling muzzle protruded from beneath his hood and his one Taint filled eye glowed with a faint luminescence.

Reaching out with her wing, Twilight gave Bucky a light swat on the back of his head. “She wasn’t flirting… she was just probably trying to get a sale by buttering me up.”

Across the street, a group of pegasi were trying to string up some holiday lights over a storefront. The lights were tangled and the body language of the pegasi was almost profane. It was amusing to watch them as they engaged in an epic struggle.

Bucky chortled.

“Next stop, Conestoga’s Supply Store,” Berry Punch announced.

 

 

Conestoga’s Supply Store was a narrow store that had been built between two apartment buildings. It was almost claustrophobic. There were long narrow shelves that ran down the middle of the store. The store itself was maybe eleven feet wide. It was one of the quirky landmarks of Canterlot.

The store specialised in odds and ends, knickknacks, and outerwear. Many of the various knitting clubs in Canterlot and Ponyville sold their goods here. Inside were hundreds upon hundreds of knitted as well as crocheted hats and scarves. There were toques, berets, stocking caps, and even silly looking hats like those that jesters wore.

Bucky stood looking around as the two mares in his company took off to look at small ceramic statues of little teddy bears doing pony things. The mare at the register near the front of the store had a grey mane that was pulled back into a bun. She was wearing reading glasses and watching him. Bucky offered a close-lipped smile to the old unicorn. Some ponies were terrified of his teeth and he had to be careful when he smiled.

He continued to look around at the displays near the register and then he saw a small shrine, something that seemed all too common. There was an oval shaped portrait in an ornate silver frame. Several candles burned around it. There were cards pinned to the wall.

Stepping closer, Bucky squinted to have a good look and when he did, he felt his blood run cold. He recognised that face. He swallowed, hard, feeling a lump slide down his throat. It was the filly from the toy store. The one that had sold him the Daring Do novels.

“She was my youngest,” the old mare said.

“I’m very sorry.” Bucky cringed and wished his words had come out as something other than a croak. He swallowed again. “Ma’am, might I ask what happened?”

The old mare blinked and Bucky could see the pain on her face.

“Her name was Cashmere Conestoga. She was my youngest. She was close friends with an earth pony filly named Rosewater,” the old mare said.

Bucky did not like where this story was going. He braced himself for what he knew was coming. Under his hood, his ears pinned back against his skull.

“When Canterlot fell into rioting, a group of unicorns wrapped a chain around Rosewater’s neck and hung her from a lamp post. Cashmere tried to stop them. She was beaten down, subdued, and both of them were hung together.” The old mare drew in one shuddering breath, blinked away a few tears, and then looked at Bucky. “I’m very proud of my daughter for what she did.”

“I would be too…” Bucky realised just how useless his words sounded and wished he hadn’t said them. He wracked his brain for something more meaningful to say.

“Cashmere was a good filly. She loved toys. I worked so very hard to raise her well. I kept her away from trouble makers and those with hateful minds. Or I tried to… anyway, I also lost one of my sons to mindless hatred,” the old mare said.

“I’m sorry… is there a picture of him?” Bucky asked. He could see tears running down the cheeks of the old mare now.

“No… I can’t bear to look at him or even think about him after what happened.”

Feeling fearful, Bucky had to know. “What happened?”

“He hung his sister and her best friend from a lamp post along with his friends.”

There was a powerful wave of nausea that struck Bucky. His hind legs gave way and he sat down upon the wooden floor with a muffled thump. He closed his eyes, squeezing them shut as hard as he could, trying to keep everything in, and he bit down upon his lip hard enough to draw blood. He heard a muffled pained cry from behind him and knew it was Berry Punch.

“I’m very sorry,” Twilight Sparkle said.

“I am too,” the old mare replied. “I failed to keep one of my foals from mindless hatred.”

“Bucky? Are you okay?”

Bucky felt a warm body brush up against him as he listened to the question. He felt his hood being pulled away from his face and then a cold snoot was pressed into the good side of his face.

“Bucky, say something.”

“I’m okay,” Bucky said. As the words left his lips, Bucky realised how obvious it was that he was lying. His voice sounded like he was being strangled. He struggled to take a deep breath.

“I know who you are… you’re Berry Punch. I’ve always wanted to meet you.”

Berry turned away from Bucky to look at the old mare. “Thank you ma’am.”

“My name is Merino and I am very pleased to have met you. I’m flattered and touched that your husband would feel something for little old me. What you did was very brave… I used it as a lesson to teach my daughter to always stand up for what you believe in and to always do the right thing… and in the end, she did the right thing. I like to tell myself that the lesson made a difference.”

“I’m sure it did,” Berry Punch said as she tried to comfort both Bucky and the old mare.

An uncomfortable silence filled the store. Bucky, Berry, and Twilight were the only patrons inside at the moment and the old mare had turned to stare the portrait of her lost daughter.

“Ma’am, we’d like to secure every hat and scarf you have in the store,” Twilight Sparkle said, breaking the silence.

The old mare turned to look at Twilight, her cheeks were still damp and her eyes were red. “All of them?”

“All of them,” Twilight replied. Feeling the need to explain, Twilight took a deep breath. “We’re out securing gifts for the orphanages. We’re trying to make sure there is a nice holiday for needy foals. So we’re out buying toys and such… and practical gifts like hats and scarves.”

“Oh my… that is so sweet of you... the hats and scarves are being sold on commission… quite a lot of the knitters are retirees and were hoping to get a little extra coin for the holidays. This is going to help them out as well… I haven’t seen much business since everything that happened.”

“Wait, can you get more hats and scarves? We’ll pay extra for the rush… there are thousands with need,” Twilight asked.

The old mare brightened up a bit. “I could ask. I know quite a few that are worried about how they will get through the winter.”

Twilight Sparkle stood up straight. “There is still almost two months. Try to get as many as you can. We’ll pay double their value. Cost is not an issue.”

“That is very generous of you…”

Bucky, who was recovering, lifted his head and cleared his throat. “I have a better idea… how many of those old mares can bake cookies and treats? Because we need treats and those are on our list of things to get.”

“Oh almost all of them,” Merino answered.

Feeling a little better, Bucky managed a weak smile. “I will have my agent, Violet Velvet get in touch with you. I think we can take care of several issues at once here.”

The old mare nodded. “That would be lovely, if it is possible.”

“I feel good about this. Let’s make this happen,” Twilight Sparkle said, glad to have a little cheer after a moment of such intense sorrow.

 

 

There was no denying it, Bucky was feeling a little gloomy now. He had heard stories about Canterlot, but hearing it from the mouth of one who had lived through it and whose family had been touched by the tragedy was sobering.

Sipping his coffee, Bucky sat on a low cushioned chair, glad to be off of his hooves. It had been a long morning and now it was stretching into a long afternoon.

The cafe was almost deserted. The only other customer was a minotaur with thick eyeglasses  that was hunting and pecking away upon a portable typewriter in a corner booth. There was a roaring fire in the fireplace.

Bucky sat down his coffee cup, reached over, grabbed Berry Punch, and pulled her in for a heated kiss. He didn’t care who was watching or if it might have bothered somepony. Berry resisted at first, squirming, but her struggles melted away and Bucky felt her forelegs wrap around his neck. He heard Twilight Sparkle clearing her throat but he didn’t care.

He let go and tried to catch his breath as he set Berry Punch upright in her chair with a gentle nudge. Bucky smiled at Berry and then flashed a toothy grin at Twilight Sparkle.

“What was that all about?” Berry asked as she fanned herself with her hoof.

Shrugging, Bucky did not reply. He picked up his coffee cup in his talons and drank some, not caring that it was hot. He smiled a smug smile and basked in the warm heat of the fireplace.

“I think somepony just wanted to swap slobber with an earth pony in public,” Twilight Sparkle said as she looked over towards the kitchen and hoped that her food would arrive soon.

Bucky shrugged. “Well, that and I wanted to make myself feel better. I’m selfish that way.”

Reaching over, Berry Punch prodded Bucky with her hoof. “I am determined to have a nice day even with everything that has happened so far.”

“I am a better pony for having not one, but two earth ponies as wives,” Bucky said.

Still watching, still waiting, and feeling hungry, Twilight Sparkle looked at Berry Punch and then at Bucky. “I think I’m a better pony for having married two pegasi. Thanks for that Bucky, by the way, and the treacherous role you had in it.”

Bucky gave Twilight a nod. “Glad I could help.”

“What’s left on the list?” Berry Punch asked.

“Well, I know that we still need more toys. We need stuffed animals,” Twilight replied.

Berry Punch raised an eyebrow. “For a lot of foals, a stuffed animal is their first friend.”

“Stuffed animals are fine, but siblings are better.” As she spoke, Twilight Sparkle thought of her brother. “I wish I had more siblings. Shining Armor and I got teased because my parents had the both of us.”

“I know I’ve done my part to make sure my foals have plenty of siblings,” Bucky said as he slumped down in his chair with his coffee. He looked over at Twilight. “Hey, you know Twilight—”

“Don’t you dare say anything lewd or perverse about my parents,” Twilight said, offering Bucky a warning backed by a stern glare.

“—the world would have been a better place I think if you had more siblings. Look how you and Shining Armor turned out. You became an alicorn princess and Shining Armor is… well, whatever he is now. The Emperor of the Crystal Empire.

Twilight felt a brief pang of regret for her warning, but Bucky was Bucky. She narrowed her eyes for a moment, trying to figure out if Bucky had changed his words mid-sentence. She decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. “Why thank you Bucky, that was sweet of you.”

The waitress came to the table bearing a tray held aloft in her levitation. She set it down with well practiced carefulness; nothing clanked or rattled when it was placed upon the table. She smiled, then departed, all the while chewing upon her gum with reckless abandon.

Soup, salad, and sandwiches. Lunch was going to be simple and wholesome.  

 

 

 

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