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 house was quieting down and the wind was picking up. Outside, it was snowing, a light flurry that would dust everything with fresh snow. Inside, there was a plethora of ponies gathered around the fireplace in the living room to roast marshmallows and make s'mores together.

Luna, always the helpful one, pointed out that it was possible to make s’mores over any available source of fire, including flaming unicorns and large fuzzy-wuzzy alicorns that controlled the sun. The frivolity was a soothing balm that eased away tensions that lingered because of what happened earlier.

Celestia, who was quiet and subdued, sighed every now and then, but did not say much. She laughed at Luna’s joke, offered a few tips on how to get a marshmallow just right, and never stopped trying to get back into Cadance’s good graces once more.

It was this moment of family togetherness that Fluttershy popped into the middle of and in her calm, polite manner, asked for a moment of their time in private.

 

 

Pulling the farmhouse library door shut behind him, Bucky crossed the room and headed for his chair. Celestia was getting herself comfortable on a sofa, and Fluttershy hovered beside Celestia, ignoring gravity, as was her wont.

“Might I ask how the foal is doing?” Bucky asked.

Smiling, Fluttershy’s red and yellow eyes twinkled with happiness. “I knew you would want to know. I will bring her by to visit soon… she’s also your foal you know. She’s a little cranky though. She needs… she needs a lot of kindness. I refuse to believe there are bad foals.”

“I see…” Bucky settled into a pony loaf position and sat with his head held high.

“I came here to apologise,” Fluttershy said, getting to the point.

“I believe that an exchange of apologies are in order.” Celestia’s voice was soft, muted, and husky with emotion. A pained expression was visible for an instant, but then was gone as quick as it had appeared.

“I did what I did for a reason,” Fluttershy began in a timid sounding voice. The not-quite-a-pegasus was nervous and it showed. “It is very hard to explain, but Discord and I share a mind together. We’re two bodies but one set of thoughts. Sort of. We aren’t always aware of what the other is thinking, but sometimes we are.” Fluttershy began rubbing her two front appendages together in a self hug. “I saw a way for this to work… I knew that Discord also had ideas, but he was too afraid of you, Celestia, to say anything.”

Blinking, Celestia asked, “Afraid of me?”

“And he is right to feel that way!” Fluttershy squeaked. “You immediately thought we were untrustworthy! You jumped right to the worst possible conclusion about us!” Fluttershy’s fear vanished and the pregnant almost-a-mare-but-not-quite heaved from heavy breathing. “Discord is afraid to say or do anything that might upset you. He just wants to be good, to be accepted. He’s different now… you know, you trusted me once. You trusted me with an impossible task. You, Princess Celestia, you trusted me with an impossible task of reforming the Lord of Chaos himself. You told me to do whatever it took to try and convert him to our ways. You trusted in me and my kindness. You trusted in my kindness to save the world and make it a better place… but today, you no longer trusted in my kindness, my soft heart, or my desire to do good… all of that went away! Is it because I’m no longer a pony?”

Shuddering, Princess Celestia slumped in her chair, her head dropping.

“When I told you that I didn’t think I could reform Discord, you told me that with my kindness, anything was possible… you used to be the Element of Kindness… what happened? Where did your kindness go?” Fluttershy’s eyes narrowed and her expression was one of pain.

“I did something horrible and cruel,” Celestia replied.

“And you almost did it again today! You’ve been alone for so long, hurt, betrayed on all sides, abused, and you spent far too much time listening to that voice in your head—”

“What do you know of that?” Celestia demanded.

“Never mind what I know about that. It isn’t important right now.” Fluttershy hovered with her front legs folded over her barrel. “You used to be the Element of Magic too… you of all ponies should know that magic is a weird and wonderful thing. You should have known that there might have been other ways to save Bucky. But you sought no other council. The zebra bocors might have had a means to help Bucky. Discord and I clearly had the means to save Bucky. But you never asked any of us. You were content to just drag him away to a horrible place!”

“I know, and I am sorry,” Celestia said in a tiny voice.

“You are not alone any more. You have friends, allies, those who will help you, if you will let us.” Fluttershy descended, opening her forelegs, and she wrapped them around Celestia’s neck. “I know it is very difficult to trust after everything you’ve endured, but we do want to help you. I’m sorry that I did what I did today. I didn’t see another way of doing it. I was afraid that if I tried to explain what it was that I was about to do, you would just pull Bucky through the portal. So I acted with the hopes that I would be able to apologise later.” Fluttershy lifted Celestia out of the chair in a tight hug, the smaller almost-a-pegasus holding the much larger alicorn in a gentle embrace.

Bucky, who was sitting in his chair, watched all of this with impassive silence.

“I really am so sorry for betraying your trust,” Fluttershy said as she pulled Celestia closer and gave the alicorn a reassuring squeeze. Fluttershy’s mismatched wings fluttered on her back. “It was awful of me. So many ponies have betrayed you and it hurts you so much. I didn’t see another way of making this happen at the time, though.”

“I am sorry as well,” Celestia replied, her eyes closed. “I am sorry Bucky.”

“I’m at a loss for what to say.” Bucky dropped his head to the arm of his chair and fell back into silence.

“I am also sorry that I cannot stay very long. I have a foal to look after. I am certain that Discord is trying his best, but he’s a little helpless when it comes to looking after teeny, tiny terrors.” Fluttershy gave Celestia a soft peck upon the cheek. “I hope we can be friends.”

“But we are—”

Fluttershy was gone and Celestia found herself sitting in her chair. The alicorn blinked, looked around the farmhouse library, and then her gaze fell upon Bucky. “She left.” Celestia watched as Bucky nodded in reply.

The pair sat looking at one another in silence. A guilty feeling began to gnaw at Celestia’s insides as she pondered Fluttershy’s words. She had trusted Fluttershy with the fate of the world when she had asked Fluttershy to attempt to reform Discord. It had been a risky decision, fraught with danger, and something Luna did not agree with at all. Harsh words had been spoken. Celestia, the former bearer of the Element of Kindness, knew the power of a kind act. A heavy feeling manifested in her barrel as she contemplated her many faults.

“Are you beating yourself up over there?” Bucky asked.

Snapped from her thoughts, Celestia looked up and blinked a few times. “Perhaps.”

“I crave marshmallows. I hope you will not mind, but it is my intention to leave you. I will be in the front room if you need me. Try not to isolate yourself in here too long, okay?” Bucky looked over at the troubled looking alicorn and offered her a reassuring smile.

 

 

Berry Punch pulled a somewhat burnt marshmallow off of the end of the long fondue fork she was using to cook her marshmallows. It was hot, gooey, and a little crunchy, just like a good almost burnt marshmallow should be.

“So let me get this straight,” Bon Bon said in a confused voice. “We have another foal… sort of… but Fluttershy is going to raise it?”

“I guess… I don’t know a lot about the situation just yet, Bonnie,” Bucky replied around a mouthful of marshmallows. He stabbed a marshmallow onto his fondue fork and then stuck it near the fire.

“It sounds like there was a bit of a misunderstanding but things did not spiral out of control this time.” Lyra’s face was solemn in the firelight. “I like how this turned out, makes me feel hopeful.”

“Can something that is made of hate feel loved?” Dinky asked.

Bucky turned his fondue fork so the other side of his marshmallow would toast. “Discord learned to love. Look at what it has done to him. Sometimes, all it takes is one pony to love you.” Bucky looked away from his marshmallow and looked at Derpy on the couch. “Sometimes, just one pony, or griffon, or just something loving you can change the fate of the world around you.”

“Bucky, is of course, speaking from experience. Just think, we unassuming mares have loved away the alicorn of war.” Lyra, grinning, nudged Bucky with her hoof. “We can do with hugs and kisses what an army could not.”

“So I have another sister?” Piña asked, looking very, very confused.

“I dunno.” Bucky shrugged and pulled his marshmallow out of the fire. “Look, I’ll be the first to admit that this gets very confusing. Metaphysical metaphorical mumbo jumbo.” He began to blow on his marshmallow, cooling it off so he could feed it to Sukari, who stood waiting and licking her lips.

Pulling his own marshmallow out of the fire, Sentinel blew the flames out and eyed the charred black mass with a hungry expression. “If anypony can make that foal a good foal, it will be Fluttershy.”

“And Discord,” Piña said. “Having a good daddy is just as important as a good mommy. Or two mommies. Or two daddies. Or a daddy and bunch of mommies. Maybe even a mommy and a bunch of daddies, but that sounds weird.” Piña’s face became wizened with worry wrinkles. “The point I am trying to make is, she needs a family. And that includes us. We’ll need to be there for her when the time is right.”

“Pass the hot sauce,” Sentinel said to Lyra. He waited, patient, and then smiled when the bottle filled with greenish sauce was set in front of him, the cap already removed. He picked it up with his other wing, grabbing it between his thumb and central knuckle, and then shook several drops of the hot as Tartarus fire green goo upon his marshmallow. He licked his lips, braced himself, and jammed the burnt marshmallow slathered in green death sauce into his mouth. “Oh, that’s good,” he said as his eyes watered.

“Yeah it is,” Lyra said, lifting up the bottle to shake some of the near-lethal concoction upon her marshmallow.

“Both of you are weird.” Dinky shook her head as she watched her brother suffer.

“Just try it, Dinky—”

“Are you crazy? No way! The bottle has a skull and crossbones on it with a warning saying it should not come in contact with bare skin! Your tongue and your mouth is all flesh!” Dinky shook her head even harder. “Nope, nope, nope, nope!”

“Eh, that’s just sensationalism,” Lyra said around a mouthful of marshmallow. She smacked her lips and a tear rolled down her cheek. “So good…”

“I don’t know how Lyra did it, but she passed along her brain damage to her son.” Bon Bon’s mouth pressed into a small, tight, straight line. “Look at them, both of them crying, I mean, you can see that they are in pain… I don’t get it.”

With everypony focused on Sentinel and Lyra, nopony was paying attention to Harper, who came up and gave the bottle sitting on the floor a curious lick. Harper, upon taking a curious lick, discovered that the green substance was made of pain and fire. She responded in the same way that any foal would respond in this situation.

“WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” With a violent shake of her head, Harper took off running, her mouth open, trying to put out the flames in her mouth. “MOMMY!”

“If I laugh at this, does that make me a bad mother?” Lyra asked as she watched Harper running laps around the living room.

“Yes, yes it does, Lyra,” Bon Bon replied.

“Somepony needs to do something,” Derpy said, gesturing at the stricken foal.

“Like what? The burning has to wear off, nothing can be done, and she’s sparking.” Lyra watched as Harper stopped, dropped, and rolled around on the floor, kicking her legs in the air.

There was a flash and then Belisama set down the camera upon the table beside her chair. “I feel ashamed,” the griffoness said, confessing her guilt. “But no doubt, the picture will be amazing.”

“Come here, Harper, and have some milk,” Lyra said to her foal.

Harper, who got to her hooves, panted and looked at her mother. “NO! YOU EAT DEATH GOOP!” She then took off running as fast as her legs could carry her, fleeing the living room.

Thistle watched the foal go streaking off. “Wow, she’s fast…”

 

 

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