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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The Lord of Winter sat upon his throne. Bucky drew in a deep breath, held it for a moment, and felt a physical pang of regret for eating all of these rich holiday foods. It was like trying to pass blocks of cement with shards of glass jutting out. After enduring what Bucky was certain his own insides squirting out, there was a disappointing -plop!- in the water beneath him.

This had almost been a non issue when he had been a good herbivorous pony who ate plenty of salads, oats, and fibre rich grain. Gritting his teeth, Bucky reflected upon these things as he engaged in a mighty struggle to evacuate his own bowels.

The door opened. Bucky expected to see one of his wives. This sort of thing happened in a marriage and one got used to it. Bathroom habits, like sexuality, were something that had to be explored and acclimatised to. Somehow, the bathroom had become a quiet place to hang out, a refuge. Bucky still appreciated being alone.

“Mama mama.”

Bucky looked down at Harper as Harper was looking up at him. This was not making things any easier. This felt wrong. This was awkward. This made an already uncomfortable situation much worse.

“Hello? A little help in here? Somepony come get Harper?” Bucky asked in a low voice.

In the bedroom, he heard laughter and giggles.

“What do?” Harper asked.

And now she is going to ask me questions about it, Bucky thought to himself.

“Mamamama stinky.”

“Hello Harper,” Bucky said, resigning himself to his fate. He took a deep breath which came back out as a groan.

“Hold Harper?”

Bucky shook his head. “No Harper, right now I can’t pick you up and hug you.”

“What?” Harper asked. Her lips trembled and her nostrils quivered.

Seeing his foal’s hurt expression, Bucky felt a wash of self loathing come over him. Harper was too young to understand things like neurosis, or hangups, or even awkward social situations. There was only one thing to do.

“Help! Really! I’m not fooling around!”

Much to Bucky’s dismay, no help came. But Bucky did hear more laughing and giggling from the bedroom. A stabbing cramp shot through his bowels to mock him, reminding him that there was business to attend to.

“No fall in,” Harper said, trying to be helpful, while still looking hurt.

“No Harper, I won’t fall in,” Bucky replied.

“Now hug Harper?”

A loud gurgle came from Bucky’s stomach, then a growl, and then a squelching noise. It caused Harper’s eyes to go wide and under any other circumstance, Bucky might have laughed. But this was unbearable.

“Yuck.”

“Harper, go find one of your mothers,” Bucky said, offering a helpful suggestion.

“Found one. Stinky.” Harper sat on the tile floor and continued to stare up at Bucky.

“Well, go find another one.” Bucky pondered scooping Harper up in his magic and scooting her out the door. In his entire life, he could not recall feeling as naked and exposed as he felt right now… and ponies were a species given to nudity.

“Harper yucky. Need bath.”

Something sharp felt as though it was tearing at his backside. Bucky winced, shook his head, and was all too aware that Harper had not once taken her eyes off of him. Bucky took a deep breath and held it.

This was one of those moments of fatherhood that Bucky had not been warned about.

 

 

With a splash, Harper dropped into the tub. Not Thistle’s tub, but a smaller tub that had been added to the new bathroom with the express purpose of foal bathing. Bucky sat down beside the tub and watched Harper splash around.

Beside the tub, there was a plastic basket. In the plastic basket were a few toys. Bucky dug out a rubber ducky and dropped it into the tub with Harper, who squealed with delight when she saw it.

As he watched Harper play, he considered that perhaps, just maybe, eating the cheese log with almonds and cashews was a bad idea. Or the entire brick of Bon Bon’s marshmallow fudge. Semillon’s salmon loaf. Or crab cakes fried in hot oil.

Arming himself with a scrubbing brush, Bucky went to work, ignoring Harper’s protests. Sentinel, Dinky, and Piña meant well, but they didn’t get Harper clean. Running warm water over her in the shower was not the same as a thorough scrubbing. Wiping the sticky off of Harper’s face was not the same as scrubbing the sticky away.

Bucky sighed when he thought about how much like Derpy he had become. He had once been guilty of just doing the bare minimum of what needed to be done. Rinsing a foal off under warm water had once been adequate.

Harper’s dark purple eyes closed and she went limp as the brush moved up and down along her spine. Her copious amounts of bright orange fluff were now waterlogged and plastered to her head and body.

Bucky knew that there was more fluff than foal, but he dared not say anything around a certain overprotective earth pony he loved named Bon Bon. That was asking for trouble. Bucky was a brave pony, there were a lot of foolhardy things he had no problem doing. He dealt with dangerous situations so other ponies could stay safe. But Bucky did not cross Bon Bon. Bon Bon took no guff.

“You’re a lot of work Harper. Keeping up with you is more work than I realised. I don’t know how I am going to keep with a half a dozen or more,” Bucky said as he scrubbed.

Harper yawned, her orange tongue visible for a moment as her mouth opened wide.

“I think you’ll be going to bed early,” Bucky said. Still scrubbing, he waited for Harper’s protests. He rolled her over and began to scrub her chest and stomach.

“Harper sleepy.”

“Been a long day for you… being cuddled, playing with Brass Note and Singsong, playing with Peekaboo… and I think Rarity is quite taken with you. Do you like Rarity?” Using his magic, Bucky supported Harper’s head.

“Rayray,” Harper replied.

“What colour is Rayray?” Bucky asked. He watched Harper’s ears twitch but her eyes did not open. It was obvious that the foal was thinking. He marveled at how much Harper had changed.

“Rayray white?”

“Yes Harper, Rayray is white,” Bucky replied. He angled the brush and began to scrub along her ribs, just behind her front shoulders. “Say another mama colour?”

Harper’s eyes opened. They were dark purple, the colour of angry stormclouds. They glittered as Harper focused. “Grey?”

“Derpy is grey… very good.” Bucky smiled. “What colour is Harper?”

Harper lifted her head and looked at her own body. She held up a foreleg and looked at it. “Burple plue.”

Bucky blinked in shock. It was close enough to count, or so Bucky felt. Lyra and Berry both sat down with Harper and showed her flash cards. Bucky had always felt they were pushing Harper too hard and she was much too young. Bucky began to suspect that he was wrong.

His thoughts were distracted by another yawn from Harper.

“Are you going to let me brush your teeth?” Bucky asked.

“Toof?” Harper replied. She yawned once more.

Bucky realised that Harper was too tired to fight back.

 

 

Bucky emerged from the bathroom holding a now dried Harper on his back. There were more giggles, more titters, and a few quiet whispers. Derpy was on the bed and Berry Punch was with her. Lyra was sitting with Cadance in the chair in the corner. Belisama was curled up a little hammock that had been hung just for her.

He plopped Harper on the bed and then climbed onto the bed himself.

“Hello handsome… did everything come out okay?” Berry asked in a teasing voice.

Wrapping a foreleg around Harper, Bucky pulled her close. “Berry, I’ve left you for somepony younger.” He kissed Harper on the cheek. “She likes warm baths, mangos, and staring at ponies while they are stuck on the toilet.”

Berry’s lower lip protruded in a pout. “I can’t compete with that, whatsoever shall I do?” She lifted a front hoof up to her brow and flopped over, acting as though she had fainted.

Derpy, laughing, clutched her stomach. “Hurts to laugh, stop it!”

“Go sleep!” Harper demanded.

“I got this,” Lyra said. She bounced out of her chair, lifted Cadance, cross the room, grabbed Harper, and then departed for the nursery.

“If I can’t have you, nopony else will!” Berry Punch rolled over. With surprising speed, with alarming agility, she hurled herself at Bucky, bowling him over and then pinning him down. Straddling his barrel, she took his face between her front hooves. “The twins will not stop kicking. I think there is some kind of rodeo in there.”

“Having a rough time?” Bucky asked.

“Not really, no, but it feels strange having all of my internal organs kicked. I keep wondering if they are fighting in there or something. I have stupid thoughts about what if they hurt one another and it weirds me out.”

Bucky stared up at the earth pony sitting on top of him. Her tail twitched, causing the curly hairs of her tail to  trail over his stomach and his thighs. It tickled.

“I think Thistle is making a new friend,” Berry said, giving Bucky’s face a gentle squeeze between her hooves.

“Oh?” The feeling of Berry’s hooves on his face, squeezing and rubbing, was making Bucky feel relaxed. And maybe sleepy.

“Shining Star… Sparkler, Loch Skimmer, Ripple, Bittersweet, all of them have been getting chummy with one another. And Shining Star is doing everything she can to be Thistle’s friend. It makes me happy… Thistle has been darn near housebound. She needs friends,” Berry Punch replied.

“That is a good thing.” Bucky found himself in agreement.

Berry’s hooves traveled away from Bucky’s face, circling around his jaw and then down along his neck. “I realised… you’ve been a very good little colt… but you haven’t been looked after this holiday. You have been looking after everypony else, but your own needs have been neglected.”

“We can’t have that,” Derpy said.

Lifting one hoof away from Bucky, Berry Punch reached down and booped Bucky on the snoot. “So how about we get you into the bath… and we get Derpy into the bath, because she could use a good hot soaking, and then we see what happens next…”

“A hot soak sounds nice,” Belisama said from her hammock. She lifted her head and looked around. She yawned, her beak opening wide.

Leaning forward, Berry continued kneading Bucky’s neck, her hooves pressing in, rubbing in little circles. She could feel Bucky holding her up and keeping her from falling, the warm tingle of magic was all around her. She felt a blood vessel throbbing against the curve of her stomach. She applied pressure and pushed in deep along the sides of Bucky’s neck.

“Let’s get in the tub.” Derpy rolled over and began to wiggle towards the edge of the bed.

 

 

Belisama floated on her back, her legs sprawled out in different directions in the water. For her the tub was large enough to swim in. The water was hot, steam rose from the surface, and every surface in the bathroom glistened with condensation. Belisama heaved a sigh.

Berry Punch lay against the sloped edge of the tub, her withers resting in shallow water, and her lower half settled into much deeper water. Beside her, Bucky reclined in the water, also on his back. In a much deeper section, Derpy was sitting up, her body almost floating, and only her head was above the surface of the water.

“This bathtub has to be the best thing we’ve ever bought,” Derpy said in a low whisper. She could feel cool air on her soaked mane and her exposed pelt. “And it even came with a waterfall.”

“That’s a recirculator,” Berry said, her eyes not opening. “The water goes in the hole, gets sucked up, gets heated, and then comes back down over a heated ceramic plate.”

“Whatever… the sound of running water is always nice. Makes me think of rain.” Derpy dunked her head down into the water and then resurfaced.

“Thistle gave birth in here.” There was splash as Bucky scooted his body down into deeper water.

“I plan to give birth in here,” Berry said in a matter-of-fact voice.

“You’re not a kelpie.” Bucky lifted his head from the water and looked at Berry.

“Violet said that water births are good for mares. Easier on the body. Easier on the foals. She plans to talk to you about it,” Berry Punch said to Bucky.

“Oh.” There was a splash as Bucky allowed his head to fall into the water. He could feel his tail flowing out around his hind legs.

“I think giving birth in here might be nice.” Derpy spread her wings in the water and relaxed when she felt the heat penetrating her aching wing joints. “Violet brought up some good points.”

“Dinky is messed up by what happened. I’m worried,” Bucky said.

“Don’t be,” Berry said as she slid into deeper water. “Dinky is sensitive. Dinky allows herself to feel stuff on a level that a lot of ponies just don’t. In time, she will sort everything out and have a good understanding of this. She’ll be okay. But in the meantime, she is going to be upset. She might cry a bit. This is just her way of internalising everything.”

“It scared me… I won’t lie.” Belisama kicked her hind legs and propelled herself closer to Bucky. “But I’m okay with it now. I have all of you and at the end of it all, I have a cub. So I am okay with just letting everything happen.”

“I’m still scared,” Berry Punch said.

“I’m not. I’ve given birth before. The last time I gave birth, I had a few friends. I was looked after. Now, I have a husband. I have family. And it is much easier knowing that my husband and my family is going to be here to look after me and my foals.”

“This has to be much scarier if you are a single mother,” Berry said. She rubbed her stomach, now underwater, with her front hooves. “Pregnancy is easier if you have somepony to share it with.”

“Or somebirdy.” Derpy’s ear twitched, sending water droplets flying.

“The little foals are asleep,” Lyra said as she came through the door. Her hooves clicked upon the tile floor. “The house is quieting down. Bon Bon is entertaining. Barley is reading to the middle foals in the library. And I am exhausted.” Lifting her right front leg up high, Lyra stepped over the edge of the tub and then eased her way in.

Hissing, Lyra winced as she hit the hot water, and then let out a low moan when the hot water hit her belly. “Hot enough to make my teats sting… ooh.” She eased herself in until everything was submerged but her head.

“These are the moments I treasure more than anything else—”

Berry Punch was cut off by Bon Bon entering the bathroom and saying “There’s been a bit of an accident… little Piña has drank too much egg nog. She just threw up all over the floor and all over herself. Sparkler is getting the floor cleaned, she’s being really helpful for some reason… but Piña is going to need help getting herself cleaned up. She still feels queasy.”

Sighing, Bucky lifted himself up out of the water, getting up on his hooves. “I got this.”

“No,” Berry Punch said, rolling over in the water and struggling to get up. “Damn, I’m fat!”

“Berry, just stay there… I got this. Magic will make this easier.” Bucky shook his head, whipping his wet mane around, trying to get it out of his eyes.

“But this was supposed to be our chance to look after you.” Berry blinked and looked up at Bucky.

“I could do it,” Lyra offered.

“No, you’ve been doing stuff. And you just put the foals to bed.” Bucky waded to the edge of the tub and then stepped out. “This will be easiest for me. I’ll be back in just a little while and we can pick up where we left off.”

 

 

 

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