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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“Emperor of the Crystal Empire, Shining Armor, has made the announcement that the war is over. There is still some fighting with a few remnants, but the threat to old world Ponyland has ended. The fleet has begun the long journey home,” Berry Punch read from the paper.

“Oh, thank goodness,” Thistle said as she rocked Bell Heather. She kissed her foal on the top of the head and then looked over at Berry Punch. “So when do you think Bucky will be home?”

“I dunno.” Berry shrugged. “Maybe a week?” The earth pony put down her paper, smiled, and then reached out to stroke Bell Heather. “How is mama’s little filly? Feeling better?”

“You know, it’s funny,” Thistle said in a low voice, looking Berry in the eye.

“What’s funny?” Berry looked up from Bell Heather.

“When you or Derpy or anypony would hold Bell, and call yourselves her mama, I would get the most horrible spikes of jealousy. It was awful. I would get so angry and I wanted to shout at you,” Thistle admitted in a soft voice, looking away from Berry for a moment and staring down at the floor.

“But something changed?” Berry’s ears perked forwards.

“Yes.” Thistle nodded. “I think I grew up a bit. Now, when you say it, I feel relieved. I know that if I’m not here for whatever reason, Bell always has a mama to go to.”

“Lyra had the same problem for a while… I think every mother in a herd might. That awful feeling of seeing your foal with another mare. I wonder what I’ll be like, because I’m a possessive sort… I don’t like sharing.” Berry Punch extended her leg a little more and touched Thistle.

“You share Bucky.” Thistle’s voice was almost a whisper.

“That’s different.” Berry’s eyes narrowed as she began to study the kelpie.

“How so?” Thistle asked.

“I’m sharing Bucky with you… and you’re mine. Derpy is mine. And so is Lyra and Bon Bon. Belisama… she’s mine too.” Berry Punch cleared her throat. “I don’t get jealous when my playthings play with each other. I like being able to sit back and imagine the opportunities. Everypony likes to make their dolls kiss each other and imagine all of the various goings on in a relationship.”

Thistle felt her cheeks grow hot and she began to feel warm down in her nethers.

“I like having my kelpie doll play smoochie smoochie with my raggedy unicorn doll. I like keeping my dollhouse in order. I like knowing that all my dolls are happy and living a good life.” Berry Punch smiled and looked Thistle in the eye. “But I am the only pony allowed to play with my dolls. If some other pony was to ever come in and start playing around in my dollhouse… I would trample them. And if I couldn’t trample them, I would have my lunar pegasus doll trample them, and then he and I would bury what was left of them in the garden.”

Thistle sucked in a deep breath; she was unable to tell if Berry Punch was joking.

 

 

Pouring coffee, Cheerilee almost spilled some in her hurry. Mondays were always the worst days to go to work. Problems piled up over the weekend, somehow compounding into an impossible morass. Nervous, anxious, Cheerilee sat down in her chair and wondered what sort of crisis would befall the school today. The flu was still going around, and no doubt, many students, not feeling well, would be pushed to go to school by their parents, would arrive, begin to feel worse, and then the bad times would start. She hoped there was enough sawdust in reserve to deal with vomit puddles.

“Mac, is Babs feeling any better?” Cheerilee asked.

“Eenope.”

Some things never changed. For this, Cheerilee was glad. Big Mac was a constant in her life. She felt herself relaxing a bit from just the sound of his voice. She hunched over her coffee and eyed breakfast, which she wasn’t certain she felt like eating. Apple pancakes, made with applesauce and lots of cinnamon.

There was a thump at the top of the stairs and Cheerilee’s ears perked up at the faint sounds of sobbing. She lifted her head, alert to the sound of crying, her teacher’s instincts kicking in and telling her that something was wrong.

“Apple Bloom?” Big Mac looked at his little sister, watching as she lept down the last few steps, and then ran across the room. He watched as she latched on to his leg, and then, Apple Bloom began sobbing in earnest.

“Apple Bloom, what’s wrong?” Cheerilee asked, slipping from her chair and approaching. A dreadful feeling of fear slithered up Cheerilee’s spine, a cold, terrible feeling.

“Gra-Gra-Granny,” Apple Bloom stammered, shuddering from her sobs, and almost unable to speak.

Cheerilee’s eyes met with Big Mac’s for a moment, just a moment. She could see the fear and pain in his eyes. The flaring of his nostrils. The way his ears drooped. Feeling a terrible pain in her heart, Cheerilee tore her gaze away and then bounded up the stairs, the pregnant mare somehow taking three or four stairs at a time.

She barreled down the hallway towards Granny Smith’s half open door. Just an hour ago when Cheerilee had woken up, Granny Smith had been fine; she had told Cheerilee to go away and let her have more sleep. She had been recovering from the flu, of which she had suffered a mild case. It wasn’t even enough to keep the old mare in bed, she had spent all of Sunday baking just to pass the time.

Passing through the door, Cheerilee’s nose crinkled. She smelled the stench of urine and feces. She could feel her heart thudding against her ribs. She slowed as she approached the bed, thinking of how Granny was just baking yesterday. How spry she had been.

We’re gonna need a lot of pies and apple brown betties,” Granny Smith had said yesterday. Cheerilee thought of those words now. She had dismissed them as Granny Smith being eccentric, the old mare did what she wanted, when she wanted, and never explained her reasons. Had she known what was coming? Cheerilee wondered.

Granny Smith appeared to be sleeping, her eyes closed. Her mane was down from  its usual bun and spread out over her pillow. Cheerilee’s ears perked and as hard as she tried to hear something, there was nothing to hear but the ticking of a clock that set on a table beside Granny Smith’s bed.

“You were okay when I checked on you… you sent me away… why?” Cheerilee asked in a strangled voice, her barrel hitching as she tried to breathe. “I would have stayed with you… I would have sat here with you… why?”

Cheerilee heard hooves shuffling behind her and the muffled sounds of sobbing. She turned and saw Big Mac in the doorway. Apple Bloom was still clutching his leg, clinging to it, and she realised that Big Mac had climbed the steps with Apple Bloom latched on to him.

“I’ll get her cleaned up,” Cheerilee said in a soft whisper.

“I’ll help,” Big Mac said to his wife, Cheerilee.

“Mac, she’s… this is going to be…” Cheerilee’s words died in her throat.

“She used to give me baths and scrub me all over.” Big Mac’s voice was soft, almost inaudible. “She’d be powerful upset about the condition she’s in now. I’ll help get her cleaned up and we’ll make the bed, and after we get done giving her a bath, we’ll lay her back out in the bed and then we’ll figure out what to do next.”

“She shooed me away when I came in here earlier to check on her.” Cheerilee turned her head to look at the body in the bed.

“I came in to get a kiss and say good morning,” Apple Bloom said as she wept. She sniffled and pressed her face up against Big Mac’s leg. “I wanna help.”

“Apple Bloom, I don’t know, this is going to be—”

“I WANNA HELP!” Apple Bloom sobbed.

Biting her lip, Cheerilee looked up at Big Mac, not knowing what to say or what to do. She felt an ache in her heart, and more than anything, she wanted to spare Apple Bloom the task of having to clean up her dead grandmother to restore her dignity.

“I was made to watch as my parents were cleaned up and laid to rest. It taught me about life,” Big Mac said to Cheerilee, seeing her distress in the dim light. “How we say goodbye is just as important as how we say hello.”

Cheerilee felt a tear slip free from the corner of her eye. She nodded and then moved to be closer to Big Mac. She pressed up against him, mindful of Apple Bloom. “Somepony needs to go tell Babs.”

“I’ll do it,” Big Mac said. “Apple Bloom, you stay here and look after Cheerilee.”

“Okay.” Apple Bloom let go of Big Mac’s leg, sniffled, wiped her nose on her foreleg, and then latched on to Cheerilee’s leg.

“After we get Granny laid out, one of us is going to have to get word to the school. I won’t be going to work today. We’ll also need to get word to the mortician… I guess I can go to the school and get in touch with Violet Velvet. She has all those runners. She’ll help,” Cheerilee said.

“I better go have a talk with Babs.” Big Mac plodded off, his hooves heavy upon the wooden floor. “Bloom, look after your aunt.”

 

 

“We came as soon as we heard.” Sweetie Belle pulled Apple Bloom into a tight hug.

“We all got excused from school and we were told to go and look after the last princess in Equestria,” Rumble said as he climbed up on the sofa and sat down beside Apple Bloom. He leaned over and gave Apple Bloom a soft kiss on the cheek.

“Anything we can do to help?” Scootaloo asked as she pulled herself up on the sofa and plopped down beside Sweetie Belle. She reached out her hoof and helped to pull Spike up beside her and then yanked Spike closer for a hug, a rare show of affection from Scootaloo.

“We need to write letters… to let everypony know.” Apple Bloom shuddered and squeezed her eyes shut. “We gave her a bath and brushed her pelt and we combed her mane and her tail and then we put her to bed and now she looks like she is sleeping.”

“We can help with the letters,” Spike said, still holding Scootaloo. He squeezed his adopted sibling a little tighter as he felt a lump growing in his throat.

“If you get hungry, there is lots of pie… Cheerilee said that Granny knew that we would need them.” Apple Bloom pulled Sweetie Belle closer, and then squeezed her eyes shut even tighter, trying to stop more tears from leaking out.

Rumble, not knowing what to do at a moment like this, grabbed Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle, even though his forelegs weren’t quite long enough. He pulled them both closer, closed his eyes, and rested his cheek against the back of Apple Bloom’s head. He could feel Sweetie Belle’s hooves clutching at him as she too, struggled with forelegs that were too short. Reaching around, he hooked his fetlock over Sweetie Belle’s fetlock, got a good grip, and held on.

“I guess I’m stuck hugging you, you dork,” Scootaloo whispered to Spike as she hugged with as much force as she could muster. “I miss our parents… I really wish they were here right now.”

Eyes closed, Spike kissed Scootaloo on the cheek, hoping that nopony was looking. “I want my mother, but you’ll do in a pinch.” Spike felt something damp and he came to the slow conclusion that Scootaloo was crying. He knew better than to say anything, but he felt better knowing that he brought her some comfort.

“Diamond Tiara and some of the others will be by later… we’ll get those letters done together,” Rumble said, whispering in Apple Bloom’s ear. “We’ll handle this the same way we take care of everything else, together.”

 

 

 

 

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