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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“Winter wrap up winter wrap up… hmm mmm mmm hmm,” Sentinel paused and then looked around with an embarrassed glance. That song was entirely too catchy. Everypony had been singing it. He moved along with a bounce in his step. It was a fine Saturday, no school, and even though it was far too sunny, it was shaping up to be a perfect day.

Hearing a loud caw, Sentinel turned his attention to the phoenix tree. He saw Freezerburn and for a moment, Sentinel’s blood ran cold. Staring, unmoving, Sentinel’s mind drifted back to that horrible night when everything had gone wrong. The fire, the smoke, the screaming and shouting… and Sentinel had learned first hoof why Discord was so afraid of corrupted phoenixes. Regular phoenixes could be plenty dangerous, but Freezerburn… he had done things. Terrible things.

“And how are you today, Freezerburn?” Sentinel asked.

Freezerburn cawed again, and to Sentinel’s ears, it sounded as though Freezerburn was saying ‘watchful’ in phoenix-speak. There were hatchlings in the phoenix tree, three of them, and Freezerburn had been in a real snit since the night that everything had gone wrong.

Closing his eyes, Sentinel cringed at the memory of some of the attackers rapidly aging, becoming old in seconds, and then just dying, falling over and collapsing into dust. Ripple’s fierce cries as she fought by Lugus’ side. The attackers had smashed their way into the house.

Sentinel’s eyes flew open when he heard the rustle of feathers, the flapping of wings, and the tickle-prickle of freezing cold claws on his back. Freezerburn was sitting on him. Sentinel turned his head around to look at Freezerburn, shivering, afraid now of what Freezerburn could do.

A little whimper of fear escaped Sentinel’s lips when a feathered head rubbed up against his cheek. He breathed in, trying to calm himself. Freezerburn was trying to comfort him, not peck out his eyes, make him age, and drink his soul, or whatever it was that corrupted phoenixes did when they didn’t like somepony.

“Nice birdy,” Sentinel said to Freezerburn. “How are Philomena and your chicks?”

 

 

Bucky stared at Thistle with the most pleading, begging eyes he could muster, shaking his head, and trying to look as pathetic as possible. He let out a whimper, a whine, and then shook his head, knowing that it was futile, but doing it any way.

“Bucky, don’t be like this… you have to go outside and spend time in the sun… you have to get better… I’m sorry,” Thistle said as she looked Bucky in the eye. “Come on, you can do it… you’re going to do it, and you’re not going to fight me today.”

“We’ll see about that,” Bucky said, his voice weak and raspy.

Rolling her eyes, sighing, Thistle prepared herself for the coming conflict. “You are going outside. Without your cloak. I know that this is going to hurt you, but this is for your own good. If I have to fight you about this, I’ll get help.” Thistle’s lip curled away from her needle-like teeth. “Or I’ll fight dirty.”

“Thistle, what do you know of fighting dirty?” Bucky asked.

Inhaling to fill out her barrel and make her slender body more curvaceous, Thistle batted her eyelashes at Bucky and gave him a sweet smile. “Don’t you want to be able to play outside in the sun with your foals?”

“Oh… you dirty kelpie!” Bucky sneered at Thistle and glanced at the front door. “I’m not going outside… I’m just not in the mood.”

“YOU’RE GOING OUTSIDE!” Thistle snapped.

“GO OUTSIDE OR ELSE!” Derpy’s voice drifted out from the back bedroom.

“No!” Bucky began backing away from the door.

“Bucky, the heliophobia isn’t going to get better until you do more to fight this… this… disease. You’re getting better, but you’ve got to keep doing this. I know it hurts you, but you are getting better.” Thistle, impatient, began to tap her hoof on the floor. “Look, when this is over, I will give you all of the attention, love, and cuddles that you can stand, okay?”

“Too late, bargaining time is over,” Lyra said as she grabbed Bucky in her telekinesis and headed for the door. She ignored his whimperings and the other heartbreaking sounds that he was making. Opening the door, Lyra made ready to drag Bucky outside.

 

 

Bucky hadn’t even cleared the porch yet when he started to smoke. On his right front leg, blisters boiled and bubbled up from his skin. He hissed in pain, wishing he could be indoors. At least he wasn’t bursting into flames anymore. Once out into actual, direct sunlight, Bucky squeezed his eyes shut and tried not to think about combusting into a pile of ashes.

Spring was just a few days away. He would be surrendering the spring to Dinky soon, but winter was already over and melting away. Apple blossoms had come early. Everything was green already. The hard winter had been good for the land and now, everything was vibrant with new life.

Lyra dumped him unceremoniously into the grass, bent down her head, kissed him, and then trotted away, leaving him alone with Thistle, who sat down beside him. Bucky opened one of his eyes just a crack, the Eye of Odin, hoping to see. Why oh why did his artificial eye have to feel pain as well? He squeezed it shut and then cursed the sun.

Carrying a parasol in her mouth, Bittersweet trotted over to where Bucky was laying in the grass and sat down. She hit the switch on the parasol with her hoof, causing it to spring open, and then held the long handle in the crook of her foreleg, providing shade for Bucky. The donkey didn’t seem to mind the smoke that was rising from Bucky’s body.

With a sizzling crackle, Bucky’s back sprouted more blisters, causing Bucky to let out a pained whimper. He tried laying very still, resigning himself to this torture for at least the next hour. He clenched his talons and gritted his teeth. When this was over, at least he’d have a nice warm bed to go to sleep in, and he could snooze the day away.

Waddling over, Berry Punch sat down beside Thistle and Bittersweet, easing her large, rounded backside down to the ground with a grunt. She looked down at Bucky for a moment, sighed, and then looked at Thistle.

“This is awful,” Berry said.

“Berry much so,” Thistle replied, causing Berry to snort. She reached out her hoof and touched Berry’s bulging stomach. “Hey there, little ones.”

“The little ones aren’t so little,” Berry said and then heaved a sigh. “Doctor says that both of them are just about full sized… unusual for twins… I guess my big, wide, birthing hips are going to get a workout.” Berry punch laid down on her side, groaned, and then rolled over onto her back, exposing her belly and everything else to the sun. “Ooooh… that feels good.”

“No it don’t.” Bucky cracked open one eye once more to see if he could see Berry.

“Twilight’s university might start teaching classes in the late spring or early summer.” Berry waved a hoof around as she tried to start idle conversation. “I don’t know if Twilight had plans to name it, but everypony calls it Grove University. The first official teachers have already been signed on.”

“Who?” Bucky asked, glad for the distraction while he slow roasted in the sun.

“Coco and Rarity.” Berry reached down and began to rub her belly.

“Teaching fashion?” Thistle asked.

“No, surprisingly,” Berry replied as she tilted her head around to look at Thistle. “Basic sewing. Part of Twilight’s heuristic approach to basic life skills. She wants Coco and Rarity to inspire ponies into learning a useful skill.”

“Sewing is practical.” Reaching out, Thistle rubbed Berry’s tummy.

“And you don’t need a cutie mark to do it,” Berry added. “I mean, I knit and crochet and I don’t have a cutie mark for it. Some ponies just put too much stock into their cutie marks, focus on that, and nothing else.”

Frowning, Bittersweet reached out with her hoof and patted at some smouldering hair on Bucky that had ignited. Her long ears drooped, framing her face, and she shook her head as she kept a wary, watchful eye on Bucky, hoping that no more flames happened. Her nostrils crinkled from the strong stench of burning hair. She scooted a little closer to Bucky, trying to shade as much of him as possible with her parasol.

“Why must there be so much thrice damned hammering?” Bucky asked, his ears twitching with every thud of said hammers.

Thistle looked around, her ears perking, and then shook her head. “Bucky, there is some construction going on, they’re working on the brewery, but I can hardly hear any hammering.”

“Well, it’s driving me mad… is this what it is like for poor Sentinel?” Bucky let out an irritated snarl and then covered his face with his forelegs. “It’s bad enough I must be forcibly dragged outside into the sun each day… but all of this noise… I just want some quiet!”

“I should teach a brewing course at Twilight’s university. Barley too. That might be fun,” Berry said, ignoring Bucky’s outburst. “Ponyville and an education based economy. Pfah! We need a brewery based economy. But then again, since Ponyville is becoming a university town, there is going to be a much higher need for beer… hmm.”

“I wanna brew some beer,” Bucky whined.

“That would mean leaving the house,” Thistle said.

“I’m never leaving the house, ever again… never ever. Which is why I am having a brewery constructed here. But that was a mistake… BECAUSE NOW THERE IS ALL THAT THRICE DAMNED HAMMERING!”

The kelpie frowned at Bucky, but since he had his eyes shut, he did not see her. She sighed. Bucky’s behaviour as of late was almost foal-like, and there were times when he was just unbearable. A week ago, he had sent off letters of resignation to every office that he held and had announced his retirement from everything.

“Everything I need is here, at home. I’ll be a headmaster, because I don’t mind that, and I’ll brew beer, because I need that, but I am never, ever, under any circumstances ever leaving this farm ever again.”

“Bucky, shut up and stop talking crazy,” Berry said to her husband.

There was a flutter of wings causing both Berry Punch and Thistle to turn their heads, but not Bittersweet, because she couldn’t hear it. The earth pony and the kelpie saw Freezerburn perched on a nearby pony statue. The statue’s facial expression was one of pain and horror. It was remarkably accurate, with detail unlike any other statue. There were several of them on the farm now, located in different places. There were also several shattered statues, and nopony had bothered to pick up the pieces.

The corrupted phoenix let out a loud squawk, danced around, and then deposited fresh bird droppings on the statue. He let out a warbling cry, an announcement that this was his territory, then took wing, flapping a few times, then gliding over to where Berry Punch lay in the grass.

“Hiya Freezerburn.” Berry turned her head and gave the bird an affectionate smile.

Strutting, Freezerburn walked over to Berry’s belly, squawked, and then rubbed his face against her stomach, making affectionate cooing noises. Berry, feeling Freezerburn’s cool touch, shivered a bit but did not pull away.

Without warning, Freezerburn spread his wings and flew away, off to hunt food for his chicks. He let out a piercing screech that could be heard all over the immediate area. The sound caused Bucky to groan.

“Oh no, here comes the foal patrol!” Thistle said, fearful for Bucky’s oversensitive ears.

 

 

“You survived,” Derpy said as Bucky was laid down in the bed beside her by Lyra.

“I was attacked… by your progeny no less.” Bucky peeped open an eye. The room was dim. He sighed with relief and opened both eyes. “Dinky led her little sisters in a full on assault upon my hearing.”

“I think it’s adorable how they all follow Dinky and Piña around in a little parade.” Derpy smiled and rubbed her front hooves together. She watched as Lyra’s blurry outline departed the room and was a little sad to see Lyra go. “The way that Harper brings up the rear so Sukari feels a little safer.” Derpy closed her eyes and let warm feelings of motherhood wash over her.

“As promised, one kelpie,” Thistle said as she lept up into the bed. “You may have your way with me. Do with me as you will.”

“Hmm, so many options.” Bucky tapped on his chin with a talon. “Kelpie, go fetch me a fishy—”

“What?” Thistle blinked, looking disappointed.

“Kelpie… fishy… now… please?” Bucky gave Thistle a pleading look.

“But… I was hoping for… I mean, I was looking forward to… um…”

“Fishy.”

“Fine.” Thistle rolled her eyes. “I shall go fetch you a fish.”

Giggling, Derpy watched as Thistle rolled back out of the bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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