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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Approaching in a cautious and calm manner, Sweetie Belle offered a soft smile to the worried looking stallion. “Hey, you okay mister? You look a little sad…” Sensing something was wrong, Sweetie Belle made eye contact, knowing how important it was. The training seminar had said so.

“I’m scared,” the stallion replied, looking down at Sweetie Belle.

“Scared?” Sweetie Belle did her best to look reassuring. “My name is Sweetie Belle… I volunteer here at the hospital. Do you need to talk to somepony? Would you like a cup of coffee or tea?”

“No thank you,” the stallion replied. He gave Sweetie Belle a nervous smile. “My name is Crispy Cucumber.”

“Well, Mister Cucumber—”

“Just call me Crispy.”

Sweetie Belle’s smile widened. “What’s scaring you? Maybe I can help?”

“I’m about to be a father.” Crispy looked at the double doors a few yards away. “The foal has come early… almost two months early.” The stallion slumped in his chair. “Even before this happened, I was scared. I don’t know how to be a good father.”

“That does sound scary.” Sweetie Belle pulled her front hooves together, adopting a pose of poise from her older sister. “I don’t think anypony knows how to be a good father when they first start out. It’s kinda something that you have to learn how to do as you go.”

Looking up, Sweetie Belle could see the Crispy Cucumber thinking about her words. She could see his thoughtfulness in his eyes. She could see his ears twitching, as if trying to decide between perking up or drooping down.

“She’s going to be so small and fragile if she makes it… if she makes it… she’ll be so small… so helpless… I don’t know how to deal with it.” Crispy reached up his right foreleg and then wiped his eyes with his foreleg. He drew in a shuddering breath.

“Sounds like you need practice dealing with small, fragile things.” Sweetie Belle took a deep breath and prepared to do her job.

“Practice? What do you mean by practice? How do I practice?” Crispy asked.

“Well, I am kinda little, and I’m kinda fragile, so you can start by giving me a hug. I’m pretty standard, as far as daughters and fillies go, even though my daddy thinks I’m the most special filly in the world… I think it’s a dad thing,” Sweetie Belle replied, her voice cracking into a high pitched squeak near the end when she thought about her father. Sweetie Belle straightened out her posture and prepared herself.

“I dunno about this… this seems…” The stallion looked around the waiting room and then stared at the mare behind the desk. The mare behind the desk was reading what appeared to be a trashy romance novel.

“It’ll be okay.” They’re going to call me Squeakie Belle again, Sweetie Belle thought to herself after she spoke. She watched as an elderly mare was wheeled by on a gurney, a possible victim of the recent flu.

The stallion dropped out of his chair, took a step forwards, and then sat down upon the cool tile of the hospital floor. He looked at Sweetie Belle, then at the mare, becoming more and more nervous.

“You look scared.” Sweetie Belle looked up at the stallion and her green eyes blinked.

“I don’t want ponies to get the wrong idea,” Crispy replied.

“I don’t understand,” Sweetie Belle said.

“Hugging you… I don’t want other ponies to think I might be doing something bad… I’ve heard talk… about things… it scares me—”

“How can you be a daddy if you can’t take care of your filly?” Sweetie Belle’s smile vanished and she became quite serious. “When trouble comes, I run to my daddy… I don’t care what other ponies think and I don’t think he does either. He takes us out to lunch and we do stuff and he takes me and Diamond Tiara out on dates and we do fun stuff all the time.”

Swallowing, pushing aside her fear, Sweetie Belle stepped forwards, made a gesture with her hoof, and then waited, feeling just a little nervous about this whole thing, but refusing to show it. “Come on, don’t be shy. This’ll be good practice.”

With a hesitant jerkiness, Crispy Cucumber placed one foreleg around Sweetie Belle’s neck, halted, took a deep breath, and then swept her closer, drawing her in for a tight hug. He closed his eyes and the moment took him. Sweetie Belle was soft, warm, and something about the moment eased his troubled mind. He felt a tear slide down his cheek, there was a rush of embarrassment, but then, like everything else, it melted away.

After several long seconds, he let go, sniffled, and then looked down to see Sweetie Belle looking up at him. Her green eyes were glittering and there was a tiny smile upon her lips. He saw her ears perk forwards and then, he heard her say, “Do you feel better? That was nice. That was a good daddy hug, it made me feel safe.”

Overcome, Crispy Cucumber began weeping; he pulled Sweetie Belle back in for another hug as his fear and his worry poured down his cheeks.

 

 

“I hate boring Sundays,” Piña said as she threw herself down on the floor in a huff. “Babs is down and Neon Blitz tells me that Larch can’t even get out of bed. I hate the front end flu.”

“Front end flu?” Sentinel asked.

“Everything comes out the front end. Better than the back end flu, which was awful,” Piña replied. She let out a wordless whine, took a deep breath, and then blew out a loud raspberry.

Erebus, sitting beside Sentinel, blew a raspberry back. Sentinel lifted his head and then smiled. Erebus had been missing his mother, and the raspberry was the first real interaction that Erebus had made with anypony for a while. Piña blew another raspberry, allowing her orange tongue to flop around as her lips flapped. Sentinel joined in, filling his lungs with air before forcing the air out from between his lips, which were pressed tight around his protruding tongue.

There was the sound of hooves on the wood floor, and Broom came running into the living room, looking panicked and scared. The three foals sitting on the floor, Piña, Sentinel, and Erebus, all looked at her and blew a raspberry.

“I heard the sound and thought some foal had the squirts… made my heart stop.” Broom lifted one front hoof and pressed it against her chest and then let out a little laugh. “Good to see that Erebus is feeling a little better.” She took a few steps forwards. “Erebus, want some soup broth? Think you can eat, you little rascal?”

“He’s stopped throwing up and he’s been moving around,” Sentinel reported. “Still misses his mama though. How’s uncle Barley?”

“Oh, he thinks he’s dying. He’s also sodding drunk… keeps insisting that the flu can be drowned,” Broom replied. She looked down at the three foals and gave them an affectionate smile. “Come on Erebus, want some soup?”

“Soup?” Erebus repeated.

“Soup.” Broom nodded.

“Hmm.” Erebus looked up at the unicorn.

“Now come on Erebus, I know you are a big colt.” Broom’s voice was one of infinite patience and kindness. “I’ll see what I can do about getting you a little milk if you eat some soup.”

Erebus looked up at Sentinel, a curious expression on his face, and then eyed Broom. “Soup… mama?”

“I’m sorry little one, I can’t bring her back… but she’ll be home soon, I hope,” Broom replied.

 

 

A half a world away, Erebus’ mother was speaking with her sister, both alicorns quite worried about recent troubling developments. Luna was agitated and animated. Celestia was calm, cool, and collected.

“We do not know what he might have done with Bucky’s mind. Bucky might be compromised. He seems okay, but I am worried—”

“Luna, he seems more than ‘okay,’ he seems ridiculously happy. He does not seem himself. He just survived yet another soul crushing ordeal and he is acting… well, most peculiar. Luna, I am scared.” Princess Celestia closed her eyes and shook her head. “How paranoid I have become of him. Bucky is happy and well and I fear for ulterior motives.”

“There is Belisama to think about as well,” Luna said.

“That… I do not know how to explain that.” Celestia opened her eyes and looked at her sister. “Hippogriffs can get cutie marks… but griffons do not. In the long history of the world that I am aware of, I have never heard of such a thing. This scares me.”

“Perhaps it is nothing to be afraid of. Perhaps harmony has a plan for the griffons as well. Now that they are committed to peace and have become our allies, perhaps they are fulfilling a purpose that was intended all along.” Luna considered her own words, weighing them in her mind, pondering the possibility.

“We know that the Fates have become involved. I think I will send a message to them and see what they have to say about this issue. Perhaps our sisters will be able to explain this mystery.” Princess Celestia heaved a weary sigh. “Luna, I need sleep. I have laboured until  the end of my endurance. You are in charge, I am off to slip between the sheets with Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash.”

“Beware of mustaches, dear sister…”

 

 

“Cease groping me, ruffian,” Belisama said as she tried to wiggle out of Bucky’s embrace. She let out a frustrated peep and then began to giggle when she heard Cadance laughing.

“Come on, I just want another look at your butt.” Bucky pressed his muzzle into Belisama’s neck and blew into griffoness’ feathers, knowing full well how it flustered her.

Tittering, Belisama gave up and went limp in Bucky’s embrace. She lay still beside him in the bed and watched as he pulled his head away. She gazed into his eyes, the grey eye being Bucky’s and the purple-blue eye belonging to Odin. Belisama’s tail thumped against the bed in a staccato rhythm.

“So you just woke up and this was there?” Bucky asked as he looked down at Belisama’s shapely hips. There was a hops plant, very much like his own, and beneath it, there was a curved sword crossed with a revolver.

Giggling, Cadance lept and then landed between her parents. She wiggled around, happy, her bright eyes twinkling, and a broad smile was on her face. She gave Belisama a slobbery kiss and then closed her eyes, basking in the affection of her parents.

“You have a very nice cutie mark,” Bucky said in a low voice, now gazing into Belisama’s eyes.

“I don’t think of it as a cutie mark,” Belisama replied as she pulled Cadance closer. “That is your hops plant. I think of it as a companion mark. I like it. It makes me feel good knowing that I have purpose.”

Bucky pulled Belisama closer, squishing Cadance between them. “I know what your purpose is… you’ve grown up so much… and all that potential I saw in you is coming out. As a queen, as a knight, you will help lead the griffons into a new and glorious future. Equestria will need them more than ever. We have more war ahead of us.”

“I don’t want to talk about fighting,” Belisama said as she stroked Cadance, rubbing Cadance’s ribs with her folded knuckles, keeping her sharp claws away from Cadance’s tender skin. “Bucky, it was so hard to send you away. It broke my heart.”

Looking into Belisama’s eyes, Bucky saw tears. Leaning down his head, he kissed them away as they began to trickle out of the corners of her eyes, smooshing Cadance just a little.

Pressed between two warm bodies, Cadance yawned, overcome by a feeling of drowsiness. She snuggled closer to Belisama, burying her muzzle into Belisama’s feathers, and then Cadance closed her eyes. “Go sleepy.”

Horn flashing, Bucky pulled the blanket up over the three of them. He then flicked off the light, leaving them in the dark, the only the light coming from his horn, which emanated a faint blue-green glow. “Good night, both of you. Sleep well.”

 

 

 

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