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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Sentinel heard a creak of wood when Piña and Dinky jumped up to sit with him in the kitchen bay window. Piña sat down upon his left and Dinky sat down upon his right. He felt them press up against him. Something on the stove clattered and Sentinel heard Semillon’s angry heavy breathing.

“Missing somepony?” Piña asked.

Sighing, Sentinel figured it was time to just get it over with. “Go ahead, tease me. Have your fun.” He heard Piña draw in a deep breath and his ears perked. Outside, the snow had let up a bit. It was now falling downwards instead of sideways. Sentinel watched the flakes and waited for his sisters to say something so they could have a good laugh.

“I wasn’t going to tease you. You look sad. Really sad. Today was supposed to be a happy day. We decorated the tree. But you don’t look like you are having a good time,” Piña said in a low voice.

Dinky leaned on her brother. “Sentinel, we miss her too.”

Feeling relieved, Sentinel relaxed his guard. He wiggled his wings free and then wrapped them around his sisters, glad to have both of them close. “I’m worried about father.”

“We all are.” Piña leaned forward, her snoot almost touching the glass as she tried to look outside. “You know Sentinel, I never hear you call him daddy or even dad… just father.”

“I… well, I… um… father seems appropriate and respectful. Calling him daddy seems foalish. I dunno.” Sentinel had no clue what to say. Everything he wanted to say somehow sounded wrong inside of his head, something that could hurt Dinky and Piña’s feelings.

“It is okay to be foalish sometimes. I call him father when I want him to take me seriously. I call him daddy when I need for him to know that I am a foal and I really need him.” Dinky could feel a chill coming off of the window and she was glad to be so near Sentinel. He was warm and she always felt safe when under a pegasus wing.

“We’re growing up, but we still need him as our daddy sometimes,” Piña said.

Sentinel turned his head and looked at Piña. “I still remember you when we first met. You were a scared little foal with a squeaky voice. You had trouble expressing yourself. You acted very foalish for your age.”

“I know.” Piña sighed, feeling embarrassed, and for a moment she locked eyes with Sentinel. Feeling even more embarrassed, she looked away and saw her reflection in the window, a little foal held under the protective wing of her brother. “Father made me the way I am… he talked with me and he spent time with me and he gave me books to read and he kept encouraging me and telling me that it was okay for me to be smart. I wasn’t just some dumb earth pony. Berry Punch tried to tell me this too, but it was different coming from her. I dunno why. But coming from Bucky… a unicorn, it was different. He believed in me. He gave me big books to read and then he shushed Berry and Derpy when they started to tell him that the books might have been too much for me to handle. It was hard reading those books. I had to work for it. Somewhere, somehow, I found my confidence. I found out that I was intelligent. He brought out the best in me.”

“Me too,” Dinky said, giving voice to her feelings. “He did a whole lot more than just teach me magic. He loved me. I mean, I knew that he really loved me and he wasn’t just some stallion that my mother was marrying. I’d heard stories at school about step parents.”

“Things are going to change,” Sentinel said to his siblings. “Father’s attention will be on the littlest ones… with his other duties, he may not always have the time to spend with us that we might want. I’m worried.”

“That he might neglect us?” Piña asked.

“No… never that… father is burned out. There are so many demands for his time, for his attention. I don’t want to be a burden upon him. I’m scared that he is too stressed out. He’s overworked and he looks after all of us, not just us foals, but all of us, the whole family… but who looks after him?” Sentinel’s nostrils flared as there was a sizzling hiss behind him and the kitchen filled with fragrant steam. “I’m worried that he will give us the attention that we demand from him and just burn himself out.”

Piña hung her head, feeling sad without understanding why. “Oh… oooh… I think I see what you mean, Sentinel.”

“There is going to be a little kelpie foal, a hippogriff… foal… cub… whatever, it’ll be our little sister whatever it is… and come spring there is going to be two sets of twins. Bittersweet is going to start teaching at the school soon. Rising Star, Sparkler, Loch Skimmer, Ripple, they all have a lot of demands upon their time. School, work, all the stuff they do… they’re not going to be able to help much,” Dinky said, thinking out loud.

“We have two options… we can be foals about this, we could be awful little stinkers and cry and be jealous about how much our parents love the new foals.” Piña fell silent as she observed Sentinel’s look of horror. Reaching out a front hoof, she nudged her brother. “Or… or we be grown up about this whole thing and be awesome big brothers and sisters and do whatever we can to help out.”

“I know how to change a diaper.” Beaming, Dinky allowed a little pride to show, feeling that this was an acceptable moment to do so. “Magic helps. There is a lot of scrubbing involved if there is poop though. It gets crusted into the hair. Yuck.”

“I might be able to use my wings and my thumbs to change a diaper. I’ve never tried. I don’t know what to do or how to do it,” Sentinel said to his sisters.

“If Diamond Tiara is here, we can get her to help. It’ll be good practice. You two are going to have a lot of foals together.” Piña smiled as she felt her brother tense up.

There it was. The teasing that Sentinel had been waiting for. He felt his mouth go dry and no words seemed to come. His mind went blank. This just wasn’t fair… there was no way to tease Piña back, at least not yet. Tease her back? Sentinel wondered if he would stoop that low. He was her brother… he hoped that he would be better than that.

“She told us all about how you try to sniff her backside without being caught,” Piña said.

Sentinel realised that he would, in fact, stoop that low. First chance he got, Piña was getting what she deserved. Sentinel took a deep breath and wished the fires in his cheeks and his ears would go out.

“Sentinel, when you look at a filly, what do you notice?” Dinky asked.

Something about Dinky’s voice told Sentinel that she was being serious. He turned to look at her. She was staring out the window with an almost vacant expression. Not aware that it was happening, one of Sentinel’s eyebrows raised.

“Never mind… just never mind. I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea to talk about fillies with my brother… just… ew.” Dinky shook her head hard enough to cause her ears to flop around and she tried to pull away from Sentinel, but found that she could not.

“I’m not sure that I really notice anything,” Sentinel said, trying to answer with as much honesty as possible. “I like Diamond Tiara because of the talks that we have. We both like comic books. Maybe when I’m older I’ll start noticing things that stand out.”

“That’s really sweet of you.” Piña tried to keep the teasing tone out of her voice now that she realised that Dinky and Sentinel were having a serious moment.

“I’m starting to notice that certain fillies are pretty… or just nice to look at, but I don’t know what is nice about them or what I like to look at… and I have no idea why but I thought that maybe if I knew what you liked to look at, that maybe, it would help me figure it out,” Dinky said to Sentinel in a high pitched nervous voice.

“I’m your brother… you can come and talk to me about anything… and I do mean anything. Both of you. I’m kinda scared that we’ll grow apart as we start growing up… you’ll be off doing filly stuff and I’ll be off doing colt stuff and I keep having this bad dream that were at the breakfast table together and we’re strangers and we don’t know each other’s names.” Sentinel gave each of his sisters a squeeze.

“That’s a weird dream.” Piña felt Sentinel’s wing tighten around her and she leaned into his embrace. “Do you think Cadance, Harper, and Peekaboo will be as close as we are?”

“I hope so… I was talking with Twilight Sparkle… your siblings are your first friends in life… how you treat them says a lot about you as a pony.” Dinky’s brow furrowed and she began to reflect upon her own relationship with her younger siblings. “I don’t spend enough time with Harper or Peekaboo because I don’t know what to do with them and it is kinda boring sometimes. Cadance is even worse… she just sort of lays there… she doesn’t say much and she cries a lot.”

“Cadance likes being talked to. It doesn’t need to be important stuff. She just likes to hear somepony’s voice,” Sentinel said. “Peekaboo wants to play… she’s getting more aggressive and she wants to wrestle. Harper just wants somepony to read books to her.”

“That’s it?” Dinky asked.

“That’s it. So long as Harper is not in one of her fussy sulky moods, she will sit and behave while you read to her.” Sentinel hoped that his words would reassure Dinky.

“So I can read her a Daring Do novel?” Dinky looked hopeful.

“Um, no… that’s a bit too much for her. She likes Lorenzo Llama and the Zap Apple Mystery. I think she likes it because it uses the word ‘zap’ so much.” Sentinel saw the look of disappointment as it settled over Dinky’s face.

“Ugh, those books are so boring… those books are for little foals—”

“Dinky, Harper is a little foal. And it makes her happy. Watching her smile and bouncing around is worth a bit of boredom,” Sentinel said.

Sulking, Dinky slumped down and sighed. “I suppose so. Our parents are going to need our help, so I’d better get used to it.”

“Dinky, if you help out, it’ll mean that you get to use all the magic you want. Nopony will complain if you are using your magic to change diapers, clean stuff, and make life easier for all of us. Plus, you can learn to multitask… like Bucky or Lyra does.” Piña glanced over at her sister, trying to look past Sentinel’s snoot.

“I don’t see how father does it,” Dinky replied. She shook her head. “He can hold a book, be reading it, flipping the pages, changing a diaper, wiping another foal’s face, and while he is doing all of this, he can be fixing a meal.”

Sentinel could hear the frustration in Dinky’s voice. “Practice Dinky… if you want that sort of power, you have to work for it. It doesn’t just come to you and it isn’t something you just grow into. Looking after our siblings will be good practice.”

“Think you could use umbrakinesis to change a diaper?” Piña asked.

The question stumped Sentinel. He took a moment to think about it and if such a thing were possible. “I don’t know. It would need to be dark. I can’t make the magic happen unless it is dark. Luna can make it work in a well lit room provided there are shadows she can draw from, but I can’t do that yet. I wonder if Luna would be impressed if I could manage to change a diaper.”

“So are we actually going to do this? I mean, are we going to commit ourselves to this… I’m worried that we’re going to try and help and then over time lose interest and then walk away, leaving Sentinel to do all of the work,” Piña said in a low voice. “I know how I am… I’d rather be reading a book or studying if given a chance and I’m real bad about slipping off to do just that.”

“So we hold one another accountable,” Sentinel said to Piña.

“We remind each other how important it is.” Dinky saw her reflection in the window, along with Sentinel and Piña’s reflection as well. “Daddy does so much for us… and so does our mothers. Maybe it is time we grow up a bit and take responsibility.”

“You three can start by setting the tables. Big dinner tonight. There are a lot of ponies to feed. Princess Luna is still here, so we’ll be using the nice plates. Hurry up, make yourselves useful,” Semillon said to the three foals sitting in the bay window together.

Sentinel unfurled his wings to let go of Dinky and Piña. “Yes ma’am…”

 

 

 

 

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