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 grey mailmare was always a welcome sight. This is what Filthy Rich liked to see. The mailmare was dutiful, hard working, and as long as Filthy Rich could remember, had never failed in her job. Rain, sleet, ice, snow, hail, the mail ran. It was delivered in a timely fashion. This is why he payed taxes. Here was a service provided by the crown that was worth paying for.

And the mailmare was a fine example of what a pegasus could be as well, unlike that layabout weather captain that was his bane. This mailmare was a fine example that hard work was rewarded. The entire town knew her story… Single teenaged filly mother, left high and dry by the father of her foal. Rather than sit back and collect the dole from the crown or give up custody of her foal, the mare had taken on a job and adopted a much older foal whose mother had died, showing a gritty sense of determination that Filthy Rich truly appreciated. The grey mailmare was an example that the system worked and that everything that Filthy Rich believed in was true and good. He smiled at her broadly as she fluttered up the lane, standing near his mailbox, glancing at his pocket watch. She was early today, and her bag seemed extra heavy, hanging from her body and pulling down harshly upon her as she flew.

Yep, hard work. An overstuffed mailbag and she was still somehow early. This was a fine example of those brutes putting their strength to good use and being productive members of society.

Filthy Rich only believed in what he could see, and he liked what he saw of the mailmare Derpy Hooves. Derpy projected an image that society needed to see. She was always a welcome sight and was almost certainly a way to brighten up his day. Filthy Rich thought about his hard working great great grandfather, Dirt Poor, and how hard Dirt Poor had worked, almost right to the end of his life. Dirt Poor would certainly approve of this mailmare as well, and Dirt Poor had had a poor opinion of almost anypony. Dirt Poor only respected one thing, and one thing only. Hard work.

It was difficult at times, but Filthy Rich worked very hard to live by Dirt Poor’s example.

 

 

Ugh, thought Derpy Hooves to herself, he was out waiting for her again. There he was, at his mailbox, looking at his pocket watch, checking it to see if she was delivering at a reasonable time. She struggled with her excessively heavy bag and tried to remain airborne as she traveled down the lane, carefully placing mail into mailboxes.

He was watching her, with his big fake smile, checking his watch, and was probably going to be extra smug today because of what had happened with Diamond Tiara yesterday. Derpy hated delivering mail along this route, she always felt a little soiled after her encounters with Filthy Rich and his smug and insincere compliments, congratulating her on being a single mother and making things “work.”

It was infuriating to no end.

Out of every earth pony that Derpy knew, Filthy Rich was probably the worst numbskull there was. He spoke of hard work but did nothing himself, living the high life in the nicest neighborhood in Ponyville, and he had plenty of free time as evidenced by his daily wait by the mailbox to greet her. It was always hard work this, and hard work that, but Filthy Rich didn’t actually work. He made other ponies do his work for him while he reaped all of the rewards. Filthy Rich was also painfully stupid and dull, dreadfully out of touch with the real world and practical considerations, asking silly questions like “where do you vacation?” and “how do you afford a nanny on your salary?” questions that infuriated Derpy to no end.

And then there was his filly, Diamond Tiara… Derpy really didn’t want to think about that spoiled rotten little brat and all of the misery she and Silver Spoon caused poor Dinky and everypony else. She forced it from her mind.

With a smile forcibly plastered over her face, she continued up the lane, placing mail in the mailboxes, reminding herself why she did this with every flap of her fatigued and tired wings, this was all for Dinky and Sparkler…

 

 

This was certainly awkward, Bucky Bitters thought to himself.

It had been a trying day. He had spent his second day off taking a train to Canterlot, which was troubling enough, and then he had waited for much of the day sitting in a waiting room, hoping to see Celestia. He was that desperate. It was the privilege of every student that had graduated from her school to seek audience with her and speak with her privately.

He and Celestia hadn’t always gotten along. She was always talking about his potential and his gifts, and how disappointed she was that he squandered those gifts, and Bucky, for his part, had spent his entire time in school trying to escape notice, when he wasn’t getting in trouble for causing mischief.

Thankfully, he had grown out of his mischievous stage, something many unicorns went through as they tried to adjust to being unicorns.

And now, he was sitting in a chair, the chair he had sat in entirely too many times during his time as a student, with Celestia staring at him the way that she had always stared at him, with her piercing headmistress eyes. She was always overly harsh and critical, always finding his weaknesses, always finding some new way to dig in and tear him a new one. Like she was doing right now, silently judging him with her wide almost unblinking eyes, her ethereal mane drifting aimlessly around her head, her face blank and expressionless as she was no doubt mentally preparing to verbally squash him into jelly.

This had been a terrible idea, coming here to try and find answers to his problems. Bucky couldn’t figure out what he had been thinking. But Celestia did seem to know him better than he knew himself, and right now, things were hurt and confused inside, and she was the only pony Bucky could think of to turn to. Celestia was practically his mother. She was practically the mother of every unicorn that attended her school.

And she was looking especially motherly today. Bucky waited for the stern lecture he knew was coming.

 

 

Celestia had made it a point to allow her students to see her after their graduation. Just because a student had graduated didn’t mean that Celestia was finished working on them. It simply meant that the nature of the relationship had changed, and now, if they needed help, they had to come to her, a sign that they wanted to get better, to make improvements, a sign that all of Celestia and her carefully selected instructors hard work had paid off and they had fixed something that had been broken by society, or at least had undone some of the damage.  

What very few ponies understood was that Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns wasn’t just to teach unicorns magic, it was a place of therapy and reconstruction, as potentially the most gifted members of society were also the most damaged, the most hurt, and the most in need of help. Failure to reach them and help them meant that magically gifted unicorns may very well fall into darkness, unable to be reached. High magic unicorns were also high strung. Celestia’s halls were filled with all kinds of flawed unicorns. Unicorns that spoke of themselves in the third pony, unicorns that were prone to mental breakdowns, the ever present neurosis, anxiety and stress found everywhere and in every student.

Celestia eyed her beloved student, a pony that she loved dearly and she had such high hopes for. Buckminster Bitters wasn’t a model student, he wasn’t the most gifted student, he had been a terrible troublemaker during his time of mischief, but all of that could be forgiven. Bucky had something that many unicorns seemed to lose during their lives.

A deeply ingrained passion and a genuine sense of kindness, something Celestia was seeing in fewer and fewer unicorns these days. Unicorns, with their self-imposed neurosis and therapy, slowly chiseling away at what made them ponies, each generation becoming a little more cold and distant, these things worried Celestia a great deal. There were plenty of good unicorns in the world, but the unicorns attending her school where the highest calibre magicians that unicorndom had to offer, the most magically gifted, and many of them were also the most deeply flawed individuals that Celestia knew.

Bucky had come from two of Celestia’s former students, both of whom had terrible personal flaws, and the damage they had done to Bucky had been profound. Celestia had undone as much of the damage as she could, but so much more hurt had remained, hurt that Celestia had trouble reaching, the sort of hurt that when you went to dig for it, it hurt the pony that you were trying to help. It was like ripping away a scab to allow the infection to seep out.

And she had certainly hurt poor Bucky, probably too many times to count, trying to pull him free from everything that held him back. She felt awful about it at times, but she loved him, as she loved every single one of her students, and she had a grim sense of resolve that she would help them out somehow, no matter how much it might hurt her.

She had already seen one gifted individual with deep character flaws fall into darkness, and she would never allow that to happen ever again, if there was something she could do to help them, she would.

Celestia would never allow the mistakes of her sister to happen again.

Truth be told, Celestia was very surprised to see Bucky, sitting in the chair that he had sat in so many times before, where Celestia had tried to repair all of the cruelty done to him by his parents. She took this as good sign though, at some point, Bucky had learned to trust her, and Celestia felt blessed to know that somehow, even if it didn’t feel like it sometimes, she had actually reached the poor troubled unicorn and touched him.

He told a strange tale, a very confusing tale, of being chased by a pegasus mare and learning a very confusing lesson in perspectives and biases. It was a troubling tale. It was a quiet subtle reminder that the tribes were not as together as they thought they might be, with vast fundamental differences between the pegasi, the earth ponies, and the unicorns. Celestia was delighted to hear that he had learned something, and that he had returned the chase as a gesture of goodwill, Celestia felt troubled as Bucky explained his unease and suddenly feeling lonesome sitting in his apartment in Ponyville.

Bucky had finally felt a connection to his fellow ponies.

Celestia internally heaved a massive sigh of relief. Externally, she was as calm and emotionless as ever. Celestia had so many doubts on if this day would ever come.

Celestia took a deep breath and prepared to try and help her student recover and strengthen his connection to his fellow ponies, quietly thankful that she had reclaimed another soul from the darkness.

 

 

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