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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Quickening her step, Celestia hurried after the two figures, bounding over the dirty snow that was packed down on the lane. Beneath her hooves, snow and crusted ice crunched. Above her, the sun shone down, causing everything to sparkle as though it was diamond encrusted.

“Hold on… I am coming with you!” Celestia, unused to anything other than a slow sedate walk over flat surfaces, almost stumbled. Beneath the snow the lane was full of holes and ruts.

One of the figures, covered in a bright green cloak, the colour of spring, paused and turned to look. The other figure, wrapped in a black cloak, could be heard sighing.

“The roads are dreadful here… no paving whatsoever… no cobbles… it is a wonder that nopony slips and snaps a fetlock or a leg!” Celestia cried in alarm as she almost did the very thing she complained and worried about.

“Do be careful.” Thistle’s warning was thick with concern. “We short and sturdy ponies have an advantage here I think.”

“I believe you are correct,” Celestia said, sticking out her wings for balance as she wobbled. “I should not be running but I had to catch up with you.”

“We were just going to pay our respects to a body of water.” Bucky’s voice was almost a flat monotone and it was difficult for those present to tell if he was being serious or silly.

“I wanted to apologise again—”

“We have apologised to each other a number of times… I still feel that I owe you an apology. I was being a jerk.” As Bucky stepped, his talons flexed and got traction in the snow.

“Time after time, you keep coming through for me. I have come to depend on you and Twilight… I have trust issues Buckminster… I treat you poorly because I trust you… how awful is that,” Celestia said as she drew up to Bucky and Thistle’s side.

“Annie Celery!” Cadance cried as she began to bounce around in her foal carrier.

“Yes, this is your auntie Celery,” Bucky said, angling his neck so he could kiss Cadance. He planted a soft kiss on her cheek and the foal giggled as she squirmed.

“I just realised I was also hurting her.” Celestia, now walking in step with Bucky and Thistle, looked down at what little pink was visible, the parts of Cadance peeking out from her swaddling.

“What?” Thistle asked.

“Bucky was right. I ask too much of him on top of everything else. Cadance needs him,” Celestia replied. “So do the rest of his foals. I feel terrible.”

“Celery. Celeria?”

“Celeria… very good,” Bucky said. “Auntie Celery.” He stepped over a large chunk of frozen mud and snow, sidestepped a rut, and glanced up at Celestia for a moment. “This is where things went wrong for me… but also where things went right.”

“This is where you proved yourself.” Celestia, feeling the chill, began to radiate, flooding the air around her with a gentle warmth. “This is where a pony who had only recently discovered that he had a knack for brewing beer inherited part of a destiny—”

“That I didn’t want—”

“That he did not want,” Celestia said. “One of my best and brightest students, with a lot of magic, a creative streak, and a history of being clever. You might have had a long and happy life as a brewer and maybe a school teacher… perhaps teaching little ponies magic and brewing. But something had to intrude upon your life and you had to pick up a thread of destiny intended for another. I am sorry Buckminster… some of us seek out greatness… others have it thrust upon them.”

“You met me here,” Thistle said as she walked alongside Bucky.

Bucky turned to look at Thistle, who walked beside him. “My life would not be complete without you. Berry Punch says you’re my youthful enthusiasm and playfulness that I never fully developed.”

Blushing, Thistle felt the heat of her cheeks burning in sharp contrast to the cold.

“Mama Fissle,” Cadance said, looking at Thistle.

“I have spoken to each of Twilight’s friends. All of them remember having their destinies altered, their cutie marks changed. The turmoil, the confusion, the unhappiness. The feeling of emptiness.” Celestia frowned, the corners of her mouth curling downwards, which caused her muzzle to wrinkle. “The feeling that something was horribly wrong, but unable to do anything about it. You inherited a share of Sombra’s power, the destiny promised to his descendants, and you would have inherited a cutie mark of red crystal as well. I believe that you would have ended up like Twilight’s friends… bitter, full of turmoil, confusion, unhappiness, all of the right negative emotions that would have further pushed you into darkness… a darkness that I myself was pushing you towards, even though I did not know it.”

“But he kept his hops plant.” Thistle minded her hooves and scrabbled over a slippery patch of frozen solid slush.

“Yes, Bucky, you kept your hops plant. With everything that has happened, that has become a symbol of my hope. You have kept a little part of yourself true to what you are. I hope it never changes,” Celestia said as she used her magic to keep Thistle aloft and prevent the kelpie from slipping. “A little piece of green hope… a little promise of green to see you through the long winter.”

Bucky sighed. “That seems kinda poetic when you put it that way.” Pushing himself ahead, Bucky focused on placing one hoof in front of the other, one set of talons in front of his hooves. He gave some thought to Celestia’s words.

“Bucky, this is where you got hurt, it is my sincere hope that by bringing you here, you would have some healing… I came here Buckminster… I came here in secret when I was having my sulking fit in the sun. I came here and I saw what lies beneath the mountain. I traveled down those long steps, into a place where there is no light and even hope feels as though it is extinguished, and I reached the very bottom where the darkness is a living thing. The stain of your blood is still on the floor. And down there, knowing what you faced, and knowing what you will continue to face, I wept, mourning my lost little foal that made mutant carnivorous potatoes.”

Reaching out with her magic, Celestia kept Bucky from stumbling. Her ears perked as she heard him whimper. “I keep making mistakes with you… and Twilight. I am trying Bucky. I am not doing a very good job, but I am trying. I hope you will be patient with me as I rediscover myself and try to make amends for the wrongs I have done…”

 

  

 

The lake was almost invisible, it was a sheet of ice covered in snow. Looking at it, Thistle thought about how lonesome she was here, at least at first, and then she thought of happier times; sharing a meal of fish with Sentinel and Bucky. Bringing fish to Bucky and getting a kiss. Many long talks with Derpy and with Berry Punch.

Standing on the edge of the frozen shore, Thistle realised that she could be under the ice right now. She thought of her first winter under the ice without her mother. Tears stung her eyes, the cold making them hurt all the more. That had been a long painful winter and she thought the solitude would never end. Several months spent down the dark depths all by herself, no sun, nopony to hold her, nopony to talk to, just the bleak expanse of time and the consuming darkness.

She leaned on Bucky and thought about the reassuring weight and warmth of Bell Heather pressed against her. In a moment of adult maturity and understanding, Thistle came to the conclusion that Bell Heather’s creation wasn’t just a need to make more kelpies, Thistle had been running from her loneliness as well. The touch of another. The wrong touch. There had been no love there, she saw that now, and burning shame filled Thistle’s barrel, making her feel hot and angry with herself.

“Thistle, love, you okay?” Bucky asked.

The kelpie shook her head. “No… no I’m not okay. I just realised how foalish and immature I was. How stupid I was… and I feel so ashamed.” Thistle felt warmth upon her ear, hot breath, and then a moment later, there was a kiss just below her ear. She realised it was Celestia.

“I was just having those feelings myself,” Celestia said, whispering into Thistle’s ear and causing it to flicker. She looked into Thistle’s eyes as Thistle looked up at her.

“How do I make this up to myself?” Thistle asked. She could feel Celestia still breathing on her ear, the alicorn’s lingering closeness was somehow comforting.

“I do not know… I was just thinking the same thing.” Celestia turned her eyes out on the lake. Around the shore were little cabins and smoke rose from chimneys. “I took some helpful advice from a pony that loves me a great deal and I got myself laid. Once you are done healing up, you might do the same. In the meantime, I do not know what to tell you to do.”

Unable to stop herself, Thistle giggled. It bubbled up from her insides, like spring water rushing up from the ground, it broke the surface and came out in a gushing burst. The giggles became a laugh and Thistle could hear Celestia laughing as well.

But she did not hear Bucky laughing. She watched him step away from her, she watched as he made his way down the shore to the ice itself. Still laughing, her good cheer, her good mood still welling up from inside of her, she watched as Bucky dropped his head down and began kicking snow off of the ice.

“I wonder what he is doing,” Celestia said. “Buckminster, it is far too cold for a swim.”

Bucky did not reply.

Thistle’s ears perked forward and she cocked her head as she watched Bucky. She saw his talons raise, clench into a fist, and punch down. There was a terrific crack as the ice broke and Cadance let out a startled cry of alarm.

“Celery!”

“Bucky, dear, auntie Celery is concerned… what are you doing?” Celestia asked.

There was no reply.

A whiff of ozone. The crackle of raw magic. A brilliant blue-green light shone from Bucky’s horn. Thistle had to squint to protect her eyes and turn away from the blinding light.

Celestia did the same. “And this is why there are so many unicorns with vision problems… all that light and no way to shield your eyes. I mean, it is right there, growing out of your forehead, burning your eyeballs right out of your skull. Nopony ever thinks to wear protective goggles.”

“I never thought of that,” Thistle said as she turned her head away. The light was dazzling now, like a second sun. Thistle could feel the world around her vibrating, or at least she thought she could feel it. The air was filled with a thrumming hum. The sound deepened and Thistle wasn’t sure if she was hearing it or feeling the vibrations in her teeth.

“Deep magic… Buckminster… what are you doing?” Celestia peered ahead, squinting through narrowed eyes, trying to look at what Bucky was doing. She heard Cadance cry out, a squeal, and then the air was filled with pink light as well as blue-green.

“Tiggles!”

Celestia wasn’t sure if Cadance was trying to say ‘tickles’ or ‘tingles’ and she wasn’t sure it mattered, perhaps Cadance was feeling both.

The light grew ever brighter. Bright purple-blue faerie fire began to dance along the surface of the snow, it flickered and danced along the ground and burned through the bare naked trees. Celestia closed her eyes. Bucky was creating luminous plasma with a coronal discharge. Deep magic. With her eyes closed, Celestia could hear Cadance giggling.

“There… that does it I think.”

Celestia opened her eyes. Bucky was climbing up the frozen shore, grinning a mad grin.

“I made you a little something. Cadance helped. A little reminder of this place,” Bucky said as he drew closer to Thistle.

Thistle saw something held out in front of Bucky. She blinked, trying to see it as he drew closer. It was… ice. He held it up in front of her and Thistle peered at it. After a moment, she realised, it was her. A little kelpie in merpony form holding a tiny kelpie foal in her forelegs, and her long tail wrapped around in a spiral. Thistle felt her breath catching in her throat, it was the worst possible thing that could happen, because right now she needed to breathe.

Leaning her head forward, she touched it with her nose. “It’s warm!”

“You wouldn’t want to hang this around your neck if it was cold, would you?” Bucky asked in a low voice as he took another step closer to Thistle.

“Warm ice?” Thistle drew in a deep shuddering breath, the cold stinging her nostrils.

“I would break all of the rules for you… warp time and space if I had to. There are no words to express how I feel about you, but warm ice is a good start of showing you how I feel. We’ll need to have Rising Star make a nice chain for this when we get home.” Bucky leaned forward and planted a kiss on Thistle’s snoot.

“How is it not melting? How is it warm?” Thistle needed to know how this worked.

“The ice is filled with a touch of my essence. With Cadance’s help, I was able to give it the warmth of my love,” Bucky replied. “It will never melt. Think of it as glass made from water. I cheated a little bit in its creation.”

“I want to have your foals,” Thistle said in a low whisper, her eyes locked on the kelpie mother figurine. “This is my old lake water… now I guess I will have a little piece of my old home with me wherever I go.”

Bucky stuffed the figurine down into Bell Heather’s carrier, tucking it into a blanket fold.

“Bucky, that was incredibly sweet,” Celestia said.

“I’m starving. Let’s head home. There is still a lot to do today.” Bucky’s stomach gurgled to emphasize his words.

“At some point today I am going to grab you and give you some special cuddle time,” Thistle said, pressing her lips to Bucky’s ear. “I just want to hold you close and feel you against me… this was so nice of you.”

 

 

 

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