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 freezing water felt like swords slashing through Sentinel’s skin, and he felt it the most in his wings. It was liquid agony all around him. The water around him was filled with bubbles. Sentinel went to scream and his lungs filled with water. Bright red and blue spots danced in his vision. A crushing weight settled upon his barrel and he felt himself being dragged down.

A powerful swimmer, Sentinel was rendered powerless to save himself.

The cold burned into his eyeballs, flooded his nostrils, and the cold water in his lungs froze him from the inside. He felt an excruciating pain go lancing through his groin and his guts burned with freezing fire.

And then, the worst of the pain subsided. He felt a sense of dullness, a sleepy feeling. As he drifted downwards, he knew he was in danger, but he could not seem to care.

Something grabbed him, he could feel something tugging him, but he couldn’t tell if he was being tugged up or down. There were more bubbles. There was an explosion of sound in his ears, a roaring whoosh, and then the pain returned. White hot pokers sank into his flesh, stabbing him from every angle, every side, they sunk through his skin and deep into the very core of his being.

There was a violent explosion of pain in his spine and he coughed out water. The air going into his lungs hurt more than the water did, he sucked in wind, but could not get enough of it. Coughing, sputtering, unable to get enough air, Sentinel vomited up more water and thought he would suffocate when he could not get air through his nostrils.

“Breathe, damn you!”

Sentinel felt another jarring pain in his back, something slamming into him right between his wings. More lake water trickled from his mouth and his nostrils. He flopped on the ice. Blinded, unable to see, flailed around as his brain begged for oxygen.

“I can’t find Sparky! She’s gone! She’s gone!”

Warmth. Precious warmth. Sentinel felt it and the tug of gravity melted away. He barfed out more water and electric agony jolted through his body. Unable to see, Sentinel felt himself being carried away.

 

 

Wrapped in a blanket by the fire, Sentinel’s teeth chattered together with so much force he could feel them chipping. Everything hurt. He lay on his side, whimpering, still struggling to breathe. There was another body beside him, but he could not tell who.

“Sp-p-p-pa-ar-k-ky…”

“Can’t you dry them off?”

“Stars no, that would kill them! The sudden water evaporation would drop their temperature. I had to kill the enchantment on the back door to get them in. I’m glad I remembered to do it. Berry, go get Rising Star. Do it now!”

“M-m-m-my Sp-p-spa-arky!”

“Derpy, hush, try to keep breathing, the twins need air.”

Sentinel heard an anguished wail but could not see what was going on. He felt the body beside him press up against him. It was shivering and wet. He felt legs wrapping around him, squeezing him, and he realised it was his mother. Working a leg free from the blanket, he clung to her. He felt hooves rubbing him.

He spent several agonising minutes shivering, clinging to Derpy, his whole body screaming with pain and his mind coming to the realisation that Sparkler was gone from him forever. He had failed.

Another warm body pressed up against him. The stench of rotten eggs filled his nostrils.

“Mom, come on, we all need you.”

“Rising Star—”

“I already know. Berry told me. Mom wasn’t able to pull Sparkler out.”

Sentinel felt two legs wrap around him and his mother. He felt them squeeze tight.

The sounds of sobbing filled Sentinel’s ears, but the sounds of his own teeth chattering almost drowned it out. Rising Star’s body was like a furnace and it brought warmth and life.

“She’s gone…”

Sentinel felt Rising Star’s body begin to shake. A new pain filled his body as he realised he had one less sister now.

“The love of my life is gone…”

Sentinel felt another warm body press up against him, but he did not know who.

“Sparkler? How? You’re hardly even wet! Sparky! How?”

Sentinel felt his heart leap up into his throat. The voice was in another room. It sounded far away.

“When I started to fall in, I turned myself to stone. I had to walk across the bottom of the lake and punch my way out at the shoreline.”

Sentinel let out a wail, feeling a confusing mix of grief and relief.

“Mom? MOM!”

Something slammed into Sentinel and the body pile with terrific force.

“Sparky!”

“Sentinel, you stupid stupid noble little pegasus! Why did you dive in after me?”

Bawling, Sentinel flailed around, wanting to touch his sister, now back from the dead.

“Mom, you’re all wet… and shivering.”

 

 

“Drink, son… drink…”

Doing as he was told, Sentinel sucked some hot cocoa through a straw. He still had trouble seeing. Everything was blurry. The fire crackled behind him and he could feel the heat on his back. Beside him, Derpy was also wrapped in a blanket, huddled over, and miserable.

“I thought I lost you Sparkler… I was so scared! I saw you go under… I was watching out the window as I laid in bed.”

“Derpy, drink.”

Sentinel could hear the fear in his father’s voice. He shivered, but not from the lingering chill in his bones. He didn’t like hearing fear in his father’s voice.

“It was kinda scary… all of a sudden the ice just gave way and I got dunked. I’m thankful that I had a lot of practice turning myself to stone when I’m in danger. I did it without thinking.”

“Sparkler, how did you breathe?”

“Daddy, don’t be a doofus. Since when do statues need air? I realised that quite some time ago… I didn’t need to breathe when I was stone.”

Shuddering, Sentinel sucked more cocoa through his straw and felt soothing warmth spread through his belly.

“Sparkler… I love you so much… don’t ever leave me.”

“You ain’t getting rid of me that easy, Rising. I’m here for the long haul.”

There was a long pause.

“You know, I just realised. If I hadn’t become a type three… I’d probably be dead right now. That’s a scary thought. I feel kinda faint.”

“Shut up… Sparkler, don’t talk like that. Your mother can’t take it right now.”

“Sorry Berry.”

“My balls hurt,” Sentinel gasped in a faint whisper.

A warm body brushed up against Sentinel and then he felt himself embraced. It was Berry. He pushed himself against her and closed his eyes.

“My little colt is brave and I hate him but I love him too… Sentinel, you scared me!”

Sentinel could hear the pain in his mother’s voice. He couldn’t imagine what Derpy must be feeling. Still shivering, trembling, in pain, Sentinel began sobbing.

“No mother ever wants to see not one, but two of her foals go under the ice!”

“Derpy, calm down… drink some cocoa.”

“I’m gonna have nightmares about that!”

Sentinel felt a much smaller body hugging up against him. He opened his eyes, turned his head, and saw a flash of flaming orange.

“Breakfast Sissy!”

Sisters were precious things. You had a finite number of them if you were lucky to have any at all. Sentinel resolved to be a better brother. This current brush with loss and the feeling of pain left an impression on Sentinel.

“Harper, I love you.”

“Harpy knows. All ponies love Harpy.”

 

 

His vision was still fuzzy, but Sentinel could see the red in Derpy’s eyes well enough. The grey mare that was his mother looked grief stricken. She was hunched over the table, still wrapped in a blanket, and eating hot soup as Bucky spooned it into her.

Sentinel was getting fed soup by Sparkler. There was no way he could use a spoon right now. A potato was slipped into his mouth and he chewed it a few times before swallowing. Then came a thick slice of carrot, almost soft, but still firm. Sentinel swallowed it whole. The warm soup felt good going down.

“Poor little Sukari… to her credit, she didn’t mess herself, but she shot out of the big bowl chair and right under the crib when you screamed.”

Sentinel heard his father laugh when he was done talking. He turned to look at his father as the spoon was slipped once more between his lips. Bits of cabbage, a thin slice of carrot, and broth. His teeth gnashed down upon the food a few times and then he swallowed.

“Mother… I couldn’t move when I hit the water… I couldn’t control my body… how… how did you… how did you pull me out?” Sentinel asked. He saw Derpy’s eyes close.

“I don’t know,” Derpy replied in a soft pain filled whisper. “When I pulled you up, I smacked you on the back and then I went right back in again… one of my babies was still under the ice and I had to go get her… I thought I lost my Sparkler.”

“Aw… mom… I love you so much right now,” Sparkler said, holding the spoon midair.

“I love all of my foals so much… each of you. You are my life.

“There are mothers… and then there are pegasus mothers,” Bucky said. Reaching out his talons, he touched beneath Derpy’s chin, turned her head, and then gave her more soup.

“Thistle is getting Sukari sorted out. I don’t know who is going to sort poor Thistle out. She can’t stop crying,” Berry said as she walked into the kitchen. She trotted to Sparkler and Sentinel, kissed Sparkler, then Sentinel, and then sat down.

With no warning, Sentinel dropped his head into his soup bowl and began to suck it down. In moments, the bowl was empty. Belching, Sentinel felt a little better and a little warmer on the inside.

“Want more soup?” Bucky asked.

“No… I want coffee.” Sentinel blinked and his vision was a little clearer.

A second later, there was the sound of liquid trickling from the direction of the large coffee urn. The scent of coffee flooded the kitchen. It was aromatic, rich, it was everything that Sentinel craved.

When the mug was sat down in front of him, Sentinel dropped his head, placed his snoot an inch above his cup, and inhaled. More warmth flooded through his body, causing a sensation of pins and needles all over.

“It was Berry who really got me drinking coffee. She gave me a huge mug of it one day. When we had started dating. I had always been more of a tea drinker up to that point. Something about the thought that she had prepared it for me… with cream and sugar… that she had thought of me… it made it special I think,” Bucky said. He looked down at the table. “Piña climbed into the chair with me and then Dinky did and I don’t know… I felt happy I guess… Derpy took a photo of it… Dinky asked me if I could teach her how to stick stuff to the ceiling… and Derpy… you gave me that look. That look I still get from you sometimes if I do something stupid.”

“You remember!” Derpy cried. “I think I’m gonna cry...”

“How could I forget? It was the beginning of my family… I started to find myself. I figured out that I didn’t want to be alone after all.” Bucky’s eyes rose and he looked at Sparkler. “Sparkler, thank you so much for shoving your mom out the door.”

“Yeah, now that I think about it, you owe me,” Sparkler replied.

“I made you a type three.”

“Daddy is quick on the draw… I just walked out of the frozen lake because of that.” Sparkler began to giggle. “Okay, we’re even.”

“I guess I’d better go out there and make sure the lake is safe to skate on. I don’t want any more accidents.” Bucky’s eyes lingered on Sparkler just a little longer, then he looked at Derpy. Leaning over, he kissed her.

When Bucky pulled away, Derpy said, “I feel warmer. More of that, please.”

 

 

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