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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Beside him, Derpy was dozing, almost in a state of sleep but not quite, her eyes were closed and her barrel rose and fell with a rhythmic regular pattern. Bucky could hear Berry Punch in the new bathroom, the one constructed for Thistle, it had an oversized tub and was connected directly to the bedroom. Berry and Thistle were talking to one another in low voices, saying something that Bucky couldn’t quite make out. Buried under a pile of pillows, Belisama was napping.

It was hibernation weather, or such was the claim of many of the old timers. With boredom came drowsiness, a need to sleep, to while away the winter hours in a comatose state of warm bliss.

Cadance and Harper were also in the bed with him. Cadance was content to snooze next to Derpy but Harper was not in the mood for a nap. She was in one of her inquisitive moods.

“What wing?” Harper asked, pointing at Derpy.

Opening one eye, Bucky looked at Harper. The foal often mixed up her who, what, when, where, and why questions, one of her many quirks along with her absolute refusal to acknowledge masculine pronouns.

“What wing?” Harper asked again. The foal’s eyes crossed and she looked upwards at her own horn. “What horn?”

Taking a deep breath, Bucky opened his other eye and then chuckled from seeing Harper’s face. “Why does mama have wings and why do you have a horn?”

“Yes,” Harper replied, uncrossing her eyes to look at Bucky. “What wing?”

“Mama is a pegasus. A pegasus has wings. You are a unicorn. Unicorns have horns.”

“What?”

“Why? Because that is just how it is, that’s why.” Bucky thought the look of concentration upon Harper’s face was comical. Harper was chewing on her lip while trying to process this information.

“What wings, what horn?” Harper asked as she wobbled over to Cadance and bumped her, waking Cadance up.

Cadance, disturbed from her nap, opened her eyes and looked around. She snorted, shook her head and then looked at Bucky. It was clear that Cadance was unhappy about being woke up from her nap.

“Cadance is an alicorn. She has both wings and a horn.” Bucky racked his mind, hoping to think of some better explanation, but none seemed forthcoming.

“No horn. Want wings,” Harper said as she turned her head and looked down at her side.

“Well, you really don’t get a choice in the matter.” As Bucky spoke, he heard Derpy begin to giggle in her half awake half asleep state.

“No horn… wings.” Harper sat down and scowled at Bucky. “No zap.”

Reaching up with his talons, Bucky rubbed the side of his neck, his talon-tips rubbing over the place where powerful jaws had once clamped down on his neck and fangs had sank in. “Harper, the zapping problem will get better… I know you feel bad about it, but almost every little unicorn goes through a few spurts of magical growth. You have a horn. You’re kinda stuck with it. That’s just how it is.”

Harper let out a wail and pounded her front legs into the mattress. “NO!” She fell over on her back and then kicked all four legs around in the air, working herself up to a tantrum.

Cadance, who only wanted to go back to sleep, began to cry.

Bucky saw a flash of amber as one of Derpy’s eyes opened just a tiny bit. Her tail twitched, swishing from side to side a bit, and her sides shook with laughter. Bucky, who had endured a long and trying morning, wasn’t so sure what was so funny. He watched as one of Derpy’s wings extended and Derpy pulled Cadance close, trying to shush her.

All of this was a lesson that little foals were unreasonable little creatures. Harper, for all of her developing intelligence, for all of her personality, for all of her expression, still had trouble showing and telling the world how she felt. Being less than a year old, she had fallen back upon the only way she could express her feelings that life was unfair.

Belisama’s head popped out of the pillow pile, her crest held high. She blinked a few times, shook her head to clear away her sleepiness, and then let out an irritated peep.

“Somepony needs a nap I think,” Bucky said. He raised his eyebrow. Derpy was still laughing. Was this normal? Was this funny? He had spent plenty of time with Harper, he had seen a few squalls, but nothing quite like this.

Harper’s response to Bucky’s words was a piercing wail of frustration, followed by a shriek, and then Harper shouted, “No… no nap!”

“Yep, naptime,” Berry Punch said from within the bathroom.

There was a crackle, a hiss, and a pop. Bucky felt every hair on his body stand on end. She had done it again. Derpy was still laughing and for a moment Bucky was jealous of her natural lightning resistance. The electric surge still caused Derpy’s mane to fluff out however.

Reaching out his right hoof, Bucky scooped up Harper and pulled her closer, the foal kicking and fussing every inch of the way. He was shocked once more and he felt his jaw clench tight for a moment. He knew Harper wasn’t doing this on purpose, these little surges kept happening, brought about by any sort of emotional state, from anger to laughter.

“Harper bad…”

The stop was as sudden as the start. The sobbing ceased. The shrieking ended. Harper was sniffling and had her eyes squeezed shut. Bucky’s feelings shifted from mild irritation to pity. As he watched, Harper pulled her legs to her body and curled into a little ball of misery.

Cadance on the other hoof, was still just warming up. Even though she was covered by Derpy’s wing, Cadance was inconsolable. She writhed, kicked, and flapped her little wings as she bawled, upset about being disturbed during her nap.

“I will never understand why having foals is so popular… sure, making them is a lot of fun, but raising them… this is awful,” Bucky said in a dull flat voice as his ears drooped down, falling to hang beside his face. He drew in a deep breath, held it for a moment, and wished he understood why Derpy was still laughing.

 

 

The house was now quiet, more or less, which made Bucky happy. The past several hours had been trying. One foal would be almost asleep when the other would decide it was time to pick up from where they had left off in their tantrum. After a while, both had just passed out from exhaustion, which was normal, or so Derpy had told him.

Now alone in the farmhouse library, Bucky tried to collect his thoughts. Vanhoover was still on his mind, his trip there had been troubling. Bucky began to wonder if he had rendered the proper punishment to Mignon Croix. He thought of his own trying morning, grinned, and then felt that justice had been delivered upon Mignon. Mignon had done some bad things while trying to do the right thing.

Shuddering at a painful memory, Bucky lifted a highball glass full of rum and ice cubes to his lips. He drank, gulping it down, shuddered again, and then set the glass down beside him. He knew what Mignon had seen. Bucky had seen it as well, in both Mignon’s memory and with his own eyes. When Bucky had gone into the orphanage there had been a foal with most of the soft bits chewed off by rats. No lips, no eyelids, no ears, no genitals. Closing his eyes, Bucky tried to make the horrible mental images go away. Shaking, feeling sick, Bucky was glad that he was alone during this moment, not wanting anypony to see him.

What Mignon had seen had been so bad that the poor stallion had developed a mental block. Bucky was not so lucky. The images, both what Mignon had seen and what Bucky had seen still roamed his mind.

Try as he might, Bucky found that he could not hold back. It had been a difficult morning. Derpy’s problems were fresh in his mind. He lifted his glass once more as the tears began to sting his eyes and his breath caught in his throat.

Lost in his own thoughts, sobbing, Bucky did not hear the library door open.

“Bucky?”

Hearing his name being said, Bucky at once tried to regain his composure. Reaching up with his foreleg, he rubbed at his eyes, trying to scrub away tears that would not stop.

“Bucky, I came to speak you… about your duties…”

“Luna… I need time… I need time for myself and to spend with my family. I’m sorry, but I cannot help you right now—”

“Hush Buckminster, be silent and calm yourself,” Luna replied as she crossed the room and then took a seat on a small sofa facing Bucky. “Look, I know what happened. I was just talking with Berry Punch. She told me everything. I wanted to speak with you and put your mind at ease.”

Sniffling, Bucky wiped his nose on his foreleg.

“Vanhoover is troubling you as well?” Luna asked.

Bucky nodded.

“After reading the report, I found myself most disturbed. The Lunar Court is performing a full investigation as we speak. Dreams, memories, all of which are being sorted through. All of those who worked within the city government that were aware of the problem but stood back and profited are going to be tried for criminal negligence, embezzlement… and anything else I might be able to think of. My sister asked that I make an example out of them.”

“Thank you for telling me Luna, that makes me feel better.” Bucky poured another glass of rum and then he lifted the glass to his lips, closed his eyes, and guzzled it down all in one go.

“When you have yourself together, I need for you to tell me about everything that happened with Cadance. I shall be speaking with Sentinel later when he comes home,” Luna said. Her eyes narrowed with concern as she studied Bucky. “Everything that has happened recently has been hard on you. I’ve been worried. You lied to me Buckminster.”

“I’m sorry—”

“You told me that you were okay and that you were holding yourself together. I can see that your statement was false.” Luna’s expression softened. “Bucky, you worry me. I spoke with Sunset Shimmer. She told me what happened.”

“I’m not sorry for what I’ve done. I regret nothing, I’d do it again,” Bucky said. His lower lip was trembling and he wished it would stop.

“Bucky, I am not angry and I am not about to scold you for what you did. But I am concerned. It has become clear that you are under a lot of stress.” Luna’s eyes glittered in the firelight as she stared at Bucky.

“The rats were eating those foals Luna…”

“Bucky, I know,” Luna replied. “Bucky, you hauled the city’s general manager and the comptroller for the city to the top of city hall, extracted a confession out of them under duress by hanging them by their fetlocks and allowing them to see the street below them, and then in full view of the city council, you dropped both of them.”

“Sunset caught them. I knew she would—”

“Buckminster, what happened to the gentle soul I once knew, the kind soul that refused to bring harm to his fellow ponies?” Luna asked.

“No harm came to them,” Bucky replied.

“Bucky, ponies can die from fear… we both know that. Sunset caught them after they had fallen almost twenty stories. The comptroller is still a gibbering wreck—”

“HE SHOULD BE SCARED!”

Luna blinked and noticed that the fire had gone out. It was cold enough to see her breath. Frost was now covering the room. Her horn flared as she lit the fire once more. She could hear Bucky’s raspy heavy breathing. She waited a few moments for him to calm.

“Even if Derpy was not laid up in bed, I think it is time that you had a break. Twilight agrees with me. Your duties with the Black Cloaks are now suspended. From this moment onwards, until such a time that I believe you are fit, you are under an enforced period of rest and relaxation.” Luna took a deep breath and then let it out as a long, slow exhale.

“Luna, they knew. They knew and they didn’t care. Those two knew everything that was going on, about the deaths, and they didn’t care. They kept funneling money away from where it was supposed to and foals died from what those two did. And not just foals… but the elderly in the nursing homes throughout the city as well. And they kept covering stuff up and destroying records… and rather than acknowledge that those foals died they just destroyed the records that those foals even existed,” Bucky said in a scratchy voice that was filled with rage.

“Bucky, that may be the case, but it worries me that you’ve gone from being the stalwart protector to the pony that drops other ponies from off of the roof… we have better ways of dealing with criminals. I have been worried, you have not been quite right since you killed that unicorn that night...”

 

 

 

 

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