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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“You look different.” Princess Luna raised an eyebrow, extended her wing, and touched Bucky’s face. “Hmmm, I do not know… your previous face had a certain charm.”

“Luna—”

“I was teasing. I have no idea what happened but I demand to be informed. Once you are settled of course.” Luna smiled and her teal eyes glittered in the bright lights of The Scorned Mare’s deck lights. “You will find the house rather quiet I fear. While you were gone, a bit of sickness went through the house. Some sort of troublesome stomach flu. Has hit your school as well. The adults suffered mild symptoms, but the foals suffered the full brunt. Poor little dears… Belisama and Magpie were the only ones in your house unaffected. Several griffons have taken up the call to help.” Luna looked westward. “Ponyville is also getting this stomach flu. It goes around every year.”

“Oh no…”

“If you go into your home to be with your family, you will catch it.” Luna allowed her warning to sink in for a moment before continuing. “Try not to worry. Your foals, while sick, are strong and doing well. They have excellent caretakers. And the griffons not in your house are in your school, taking care of the students that live in the dormitory towers. Those earth ponies that you hired to work your land… I believe the stallion’s name is Pinto and the mare’s name is Dandelion Fluff, your griffons are caring for them as well. So you have nothing to worry about. Everything important to you is accounted for.”

“Citrus Summers is an adorable little filly.” Bucky blinked a few times and watched as home seemed to be drifting closer.

“Also, your phoenix is very rude,” Luna said in cold monotone.

“I know,” Bucky replied.

“All I wanted to do was check on him and Philomena and make certain they were okay after the rats. As I approached the tree, I heard the most infernal squawking and then when I stood near the hole where their nest is, Freezerburn came out and he… he…”

“What did he do, Luna?” Bucky asked.

“He hissed at me and then he shat on me!” Luna’s eyes widened and her calm demeanour became far less calm. “He is a vile little miscreant! Just like you!”

“Serves you right. Never mess with a father looking after his young. He got me too.” Bucky grinned. “I figure he’ll come out when the eggs hatch in the spring. I doubt he’ll be any friendlier though. Let’s face it, the bird takes after me.” Bucky could feel his ship descending and he heard hooves on the deck. “You should warn Twilight and Sunset Shimmer about the flu.”

 

 

The house was dark and quiet as Bucky walked through the dim halls. He made his way to the back bedroom, pushed open the door, and stood in the doorway to take in the situation. There was a pile of ponies in the bed, the bathroom light was on, and Bucky could hear the sounds of vomiting coming from the bathroom.

“Bucky?” a soft, miserable, feminine voice asked from beneath a blanket.

“It’s me Bonnie… just stay put.”

Moving through the room, Bucky went to the bathroom door and peeked in. He saw Magpie holding Harper up over the toilet. As he stood there, Harper puked, and Bucky saw yellow bile dribble out of Harper’s mouth.

“Welcome home,” Magpie said in a low whisper as she patted Harper on the back. “Belisama is in the nursery. The only foal not sick is Cadance, who seems to be fine.”

Turning from the bathroom door, Bucky doubled back through the room. He heard his name being called from the pile on the bed, but he ignored it for the moment. He stepped through the nursery door to have a look.

Sitting in the bowl shaped chair, Belisama was holding Sukari and wiping the foal with a damp cloth. Sukari’s eyes were closed and Bucky could see that she was shivering a little.

“I think she’s passed the worst of it. She’s not as hot as she was and when she drinks water, she can hold it down now for a little while,” Belisama said. The griffoness blinked when she looked up at Bucky. “There is something different about you.”

“Later,” Bucky said as he crossed the room to the crib. He stuck his head down inside and looked at Bell Heather. “How is Bell?”

“She’s much better. She’s stopped squirting out of both ends and she is sleeping peacefully. Her fever broke a few hours ago,” Belisama replied.

“How are Sentinel, Dinky, and Piña?” Bucky asked.

“Sentinel was hardly affected. Out of everypony in the house, he was the last one to fall ill and all he suffered is foul smelling burps. He’s fine.” Belisama wiped Sukari’s face once more. “Dinky and Piña had it pretty bad. Watery stools. Lots of vomiting. High fevers. But they are doing better, last I heard anything.”

“Oh bother.” Bucky went to the rocking chair and then sat down. “I suppose I’ll be getting it soon.” Bucky cringed when he heard the sound of more vomiting coming from the bathroom. “Sentinel isn’t bothered by it and alicorns seem immune.”

“Sentinel endured a difficult task,” Belisama said. “I am very proud of him.”

“He did?” Bucky asked.

“He held his sister Dinky up on the toilet when the sickness first hit. Afterwards, he helped to clean her up,” Belisama replied. “I heard both of them crying when I went to check on them.”

“I bet that was awkward. I’m so proud of the little guy.” Bucky reached up and scratched himself with his talons, being very careful and mindful of his new claws.

“Bucky… you… your talons… what is going on?” Belisama demanded.

“A lot happened while I was away,” Bucky replied.

 

 

Blinking, Derpy took Bucky’s face between her front hooves, squishing his cheeks with a gentle touch. Her bad eye closed and her good eye focused. She stared for several long minutes before she finally asked, “Am I having a fever dream?”

Bucky, laying on his side, shook his head.

“I missed your grey eyes… they matched my pelt… I always saw them and thought of them as a sign that you were meant to be mine,” Derpy said in a low trembling voice. She shivered, not knowing if it was from her sickness or emotion. “When Berry wakes up she is going to cry.” Derpy wiggled closer to Bucky. “Just… let me look at you for a while.”

 

 

The kitchen was populated by griffons. Bucky stood in the doorway, looking at them while they looked at him. Sunlight streamed through the window. Yawning, Bucky groaned and then asked, “Whatcha fixin’?”

“Dinky wanted sweet potato pie so we are fixing her a sweet potato pie,” a griffoness replied. She was sitting on top of the kitchen table looking at a cookbook.

Bucky sighed. This is why he tried to keep the griffons out of his house as servants. They had trouble saying ‘no’ when it came to requests. If left to her own devices, Dinky Doo Hooves would eat nothing but sweet potatoes.

“Our king has a funny eye.”

Every griffon stopped what they were doing and stared for as long as they dared. Then, one by one, they averted their gaze and looked away, or went back to their tasks. The last griffon staring, the griffoness on the kitchen table, let out a startled peep and then went back to reading her book.

“Start making a lot of vegetable broth. There are compressed vegetable bouillon cubes in the pantry. Make it strong. Make some soda bread. The sick are going to need some salt and some nutrients. Everypony is dehydrated. Fix green tea and add lots of lemon and honey.”

The kitchen filled with the sounds of fluttering wings as the griffons moved to follow Bucky’s orders. Bucky, watching the griffons, walked through the kitchen and sat down at the table.

“Is there something you wanted?” a griffon asked in a meek voice.

“No, I just wanted to sit here with you,” Bucky replied.

“Why?” The griffon had a curious expression.

“Because I appreciate what you are doing.” Bucky reached up and rubbed his ear with his talons. His horn was itching and the scales around his talons were itchy as well.

The griffon, confused, fluffed out and then hurried off into the pantry.

“Oh nuts… fix some fish broth for Thistle… make it thick. I almost forgot.” Bucky peered down at the cookbook. “You still making that sweet potato pie?”

The griffoness nodded. “It was asked of me.”

“Look, Dinky is a foal, she is going to ask for silly things. She’s sick, and I don’t think she could eat a sweet potato pie right now. Sometimes, you have to tell her no,” Bucky said, explaining how things were in a gentle voice.

“But she is your foal… and her word is absolute,” the griffoness said in a meek voice.

Feeling a strange gurgle in his stomach, Bucky shook his head. “No. No, that is no longer true. I know you mean well, but you can’t always give them what they want.” Bucky belched and it smelled like rotten eggs. A wave of heat washed over his body and he began to feel queasy. “Excuse me,” Bucky said, and then vanished, leaving behind a cloud of snowflakes.

 

 

Setting down a tray loaded with bowls of broth and cups of tea upon a small table, Luna looked at the sick ponies all laying in a pile. One grey pegasus, pregnant, miserable, and covering her head with a pillow. One plum coloured earth pony, also pregnant, also miserable. One cream coloured earth pony with a wet towel draped over her head. One green unicorn curled into a fetal position and whimpering. One kelpie, who clung to the grey pegasus, and muttered that she was dying over and over in a low pained whisper.

The bedroom reeked like burning sewage and rotten eggs.

“Princess Luna, the foals need nursing,” Magpie said, standing in the nursery door.

The night princess heaved a sigh. She heard Bucky grunting in the bathroom and the sound of liquid splattering against liquid. “I will feed the foals in just a short while,” Luna said in a voice that sounded as if almost all of her patience had expired. “Try and get broth down Harper and Sukari. If that fails, I will see if I can give them some milk.”

One of the ponies in the bed announced Princess Luna’s presence with the blaring note of a trumpet. Much to Luna’s relief, it was gas and nothing else.

“It’s like lava,” Bucky whimpered from inside the bathroom. “I’m going to attempt… to augment my pucker… and see if I can save myself… from the burning.”

Rolling her eyes, Luna shook her head. She had tried that a millenia ago and knew from experience that it wouldn’t work. “Who wants some broth? All of you need liquids.” Luna cleared her throat. “Come on… none of you are running fevers… I took your temperatures. The worst is over and you need to get liquids in you.”

“The thermometer was cold,” Lyra said, squeezing her hind legs together and pulling her tail up against her belly.

“I can’t move… my stomach hurts so much.” Bon Bon lifted one front hoof in a feeble gesture and then dropped it back down upon the mattress.

Berry Punch clutched her stomach, and then, with her voice a low whine, she said, “I wish I was constipated again. The twins keep kicking my guts… get them out Luna, get them out!”

“Magpie, summon some griffons. While these mares are better, I doubt they have the strength to feed themselves. Make certain that Thistle gets the fish broth. See that they drink the broth and eat a little of the soda bread. I will go and look after Cadance and Bell Heather. Poor Erebus, he is such a little piglet, I am positive that at this point he probably thinks he is going to starve.”

“Right away, Princess Luna.”

 

 

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