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?”

With a snort, Bucky awoke. He blinked a few times, his half awake brain focused on the fact that he could feel his right eyelids moving over his right eye. When one was waking up, one focused on odd things on occasion.

He had fallen asleep in the rocking chair. Bucky yawned and looked around. Sentinel was sleeping on a cushion placed next to the crib. Bucky had covered him with a blanket and then at some point, Bucky himself had drifted off. It would be dawn soon. Bucky could feel it.

“Mama, help, gotta go…”

As Bucky slipped from the rocking chair and got to his hooves, his spine crackled. Wincing, Bucky swallowed his pained cry and focused on what needed to be done.

“Go pee pot!”

Still not quite awake, Bucky had a half awake musing, a part of his mind wondering just how parents understood their offspring’s nonsensical utterances. For anypony else hearing Harper, it might be confusing garble, but Bucky understood what she wanted.

“Go pee pot now… want food.”

“Yes, Harper… you want to go to the bathroom and then you want to be fed, hold on,” Bucky said as he lifted Harper from the crib. He peered into the crib. Cadance was sound asleep. Cadance seemed peaceful enough and Harper’s insistent pleading had not disturbed her. Harper was biting her hoof and wiggling.

Backing away from the crib, Bucky reminded himself not to step on Sentinel. Sentinel had come out of the dream realm with quite a story to tell, a story that disturbed Bucky a great deal. It was something that Bucky felt that Luna needed to know about and he had sent her a message.

She had not yet replied.

 

 

The kitchen light was on. Bucky moved with caution, Harper was underhoof. Bucky made his way down the hallway, moving from the bathroom to the kitchen, mindful not to step on the foal that just had to be right up underneath him.

Harper was little, she had no concept of personal space, and it seemed that she had to be as close as possible. Bucky resigned himself to being careful, knowing full well there would come a day when things would change and Harper would become distant, wanting her own space. For now, Bucky was content to have her close.

The little foal was now half a year old. Bucky wondered where the time had gone.

“Good morning,” Semillon said as Bucky entered the kitchen.

“Good morning,” Bucky replied as he scooped Harper up in his magic. He dropped her into her chair, leaned in close, kissed her once upon the cheek, lifted his head, and then he sniffed. The scent of fresh biscuits filled his nostrils.

“Food?” Harper asked, sounding hopeful that there would be food. Her stomach gurgled.

“Yes Harper, I promised you food. Anything special that you want? Now remember, if you say something silly, I’ll just fix something random and it might not be something you like.” Bucky looked Harper in the eye, noting her intelligence. Berry and Derpy both said that offering her choices was important, so Bucky resigned himself to doing so, even though Harper sometimes came up with some odd answers. She had once requested rocks for breakfast.

“Cookies?” Harper asked.

Semillon began to chuckle as she placed a cup of coffee upon the table for Bucky.

“You know what Harper, cookies it is. Oatmeal cookies can’t be much different than a bowl of oatmeal. Semillon, do we still have some oatmeal cookies?”

The cook nodded. “We do. The kind you like actually, with the sour little cranberries.”

“Fantastic. I get to watch Harper pucker up and make her funny little faces as she eats them,” Bucky said as he climbed up into a chair and sat beside Harper. Bucky felt that this was responsible parenting. It was all about picking your battles. Harper would gobble the cookies down without complaint, eat her breakfast, and Bucky could have a quiet moment to drink his coffee. It was win-win for all those involved. Cookies weren’t all that different than a bowl of oatmeal, once you factored in the sugar added, milk, butter, it was all almost cookie ingredients anyway.

“The biscuits are in the oven. I’ll be back when it is time to pull them out,” Semillon said as she gave Harper a few oatmeal craisin cookies and then set down a glass with a straw in it near Bucky. “Be mindful of Harper… she’s figured out that she can squirt stuff out of her mouth. She got Bon Bon the other day, she is a spectacular shot.”

“Oh bother… I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Right in the eye too. Poor Bon Bon. Then she got Lyra. Lyra was too busy laughing to defend herself.” Semillon gave Harper a wary glance. “She’s a right funny little foal.” The unicorn mare trotted out of the kitchen, chuckling as she went.

Alone in the kitchen with Harper, Bucky turned to look at his foal. “Would you squirt me?”

Harper, her mouth full of cookie, nodded. “Yes.”

“You would?” Bucky asked, a smile coming his muzzle.

“No?” Harper replied, looking a little confused. “Yes?”

“Not all that long ago, you were a fuzzy little lump that cried a lot,” Bucky said as he lifted up his coffee cup. He lifted up another bite of cookie for Harper and she took it. “You were a fuzzy little lump and I wasn’t always sure what to do with you. You slept a lot, you cried a lot, and you were just sort of there. Now look at you.” Bucky contemplated his foal. “Just look at you now. You’re talking. Sort of. You’re showing signs of being reasonably intelligent. Or perhaps that is just my hopeful perspective. You’ve become interesting. You are showing signs of having a personality.”

“Lump,” Harper said around a mouthful of cookie, spraying crumbs everywhere.

“I can sort of have a conversation with you… some sort of milestone has been passed and you’ve gone from being a lump to being a pony.” Bucky ignored the cookie crumbs now dotting his pelt. He took a sip of coffee and watched as Harper continued to eat. His ears perked when he heard hooves.

A moment later, Sentinel came into the kitchen.

“I’ve been relieved of my duty. The Empress awoke and wanted to be fed,” Sentinel said as he crossed through the threshold and into the kitchen. “Father, might I try a cup of coffee?”

Bucky did not reply. He looked down at Sentinel, looked over at the coffee pot, and then back at Sentinel. Saying nothing, Bucky slipped from his chair, walked over to the archway where Sentinel stood, looked down the hall, and listened.

“Father, what are you doing?” Sentinel asked.

“Seeing if there are any responsible ponies about that may inflict grievous bodily harm upon me for what I am about to do,” Bucky replied.

“You could always tell me no…”

Returning to the table, Bucky sat down. Using his magic, he poured Sentinel a cup of coffee and set it down upon the table just as Sentinel was climbing up into a chair. Bucky raised his eyebrow and looked Sentinel in the eye.

“Cream and sugar?” Bucky asked.

“I dunno… I’ve never had coffee before. Can I try it plain?” Sentinel replied.

“I drink it black sometimes… but I like mine with cream and sugar.” Bucky watched as Sentinel leaned over the mug of black coffee and sniffed. Feeling nervous, Bucky looked over at the entrance to the kitchen, expecting to see one of his wives giving him a look of severe disapproval.

“Milk?” Harper asked.

Aware that this could be an ambush, Bucky lifted the glass with the straw in it up and held it out for Harper to get a drink. Her cheeks sunk in as she applied suction and for a moment, she was so adorable that Bucky found it difficult to keep his guard up. He heard Harper swallow and then she pulled her head away. Still watching her, Bucky saw Harper’s head drop down and Harper picked up a broken off bit of cookie from off of the tray. He turned back towards Sentinel just in time to watch the colt shudder.

“You okay?” Bucky asked.

“Stronger than I thought it would be,” Sentinel replied. Dropping his head, he slurped some coffee from out of his cup and then smacked his lips. “I like it.”

His eyes lingering on Sentinel, Bucky thought of everything that Sentinel had said. The imp and the ominous warning. The fact that Cadance was having nightmares of her own death. He drank some of his own coffee and watched as Sentinel kept slurping and shuddering.

Outside, the wind howled, causing the house to creak.

“You have a big day ahead of you Sentinel,” Bucky said in a low voice. “You will be acting in my stead. I know you’ll make me proud. Try not to worry, you’ll have Lugus and Yew Wood with you.”

“That’s right… you won’t be going today… I completely forgot about that.” Sentinel’s brows furrowed as he sat up straight and looked at his father. “Today is the big day. Ponyville’s orphanarium gets the big holiday delivery… and you have to stay here.” Sentinel heaved a disappointed sigh, knowing full well just what this meant to his father.

“Twilight will be with you and she will be giving a speech. I saw the rough draft, I have no idea why she wanted me to read it, she’s better at this stuff than I will ever be… but it will be all about the importance of sharing and friendship and a message about the history of the holiday. The guard will be there and you will be in charge.”

There was a loud gulp from Sentinel. “Certainly Lugus is far more suited—”

“Sentinel, don’t worry. You can’t screw this up and everything will be fine. The guards will be delivering the toys, the treats, the supplies, and all you need to do is stand there and just be yourself. The guards know what to do. But you are acting in my stead as my squire. This puts you in charge.” Taking a deep breath, Bucky tried to reassure his colt. “You’ll be fine. This is very important Sentinel… important to me and I know you’ll be fine.”

“Yes…” Sentinel said, nodding his head. “You’ve been under fire in the papers recently because of your decision to use the guard as a parcel delivery service. I don’t understand how ponies can be so angry about it.”

“Sentinel, the guard wants to do this. These are all volunteers. They wanted to get decked out in their best armor and formal officers uniforms and show the public that they are more than mindless grunts that stand around doing nothing all day. I’ll tell Lugus that you might need some help.”

“Lugus,” Harper said. “Peekaboo?”

Turning to look at Harper, Bucky smiled. “Peekaboo is upstairs with her parents. She’s a big foal now. No more nursery. One day, you’ll be a big foal too.”

“No.” Harper shook her head and banged her front hooves upon the tray.

“With the weather being the way it is, I suspect that the guard are probably the only ponies that could move this much stuff around reliably. You think everything will get to where it is going?” Sentinel asked.

“Everything will be fine,” Bucky replied. “I have faith in the guard. I know they have been looking forward to this… and I also know that there is no force in Equestria that could stop them from doing their duty.”

“I still don’t understand why there are ponies upset about you using the guards to deliver holiday gifts to orphans,” Sentinel said. The colt drank down more coffee and then look over at Harper.

“Sentinel, the world is full of arseholes,” Bucky said.

“It certainly is,” Semillon said as she pranced into the kitchen. “Stupid, stupid arseholes that fail to understand that the guard is suffering a public image crisis. Morons, cretins, and imbeciles that fail to understand that when the guard shows up with presents, packages, and holiday goodies, a lot of these foals are going to remember this act of kindness for the rest of their lives… and many of them might grow up and join the guard, just so they too, can do nice things. So this isn’t just about changing the guard now, but changing the future of the guard as well… and your father was very clever to come up with this idea.”

Unaware that his cook was so understanding of his plans, Bucky’s jaw dropped open.

“I will be there today helping out, along with Violet Velvet. I’m proud to do my part. Going to be a lovely day. Been looking forward to this for a while,” Semillon said as she pulled the biscuits out of the oven.

Recovering from his state of stunned shock, Bucky recovered his senses. “Well, there you go… see Sentinel, everything is going to be fine. Not only will you have Lugus to help you, but Violet as well. I wasn’t sure if she would be back from Canterlot in time. Trains have been off schedule lately because of the ice and the weather…”

 

 

 

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