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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“Did you have a nice trip? Do you feel better? I’ve been worried about you,” Derpy said in a soft voice as she approached Bucky, her gait slow and somewhat pained. “You scared me. You just took off and left.”

“I’m sorry.” Bucky shuffled his hooves. “Are you angry?”

“No.” Derpy blinked and her long eyelashes clung to one another as she did so. “I was a little angry at first, but then I remembered that I trusted you. You would not have taken off without a good reason. Berry is a little peeved with you though. She was scared.”

“There was something I had to do. There is much I still need to do. I’m going to be busy for a while.” Bucky’s ears drooped down to the sides of his face as he looked his wife in the face.

“Good… when you get bored, bad things happen. I’m glad you found something to do. Just… don’t over do it… there are four little foals that were just born and a whole family that loves you. Try to find some balance, or I will be angry.” Derpy’s wings fluttered at her sides.

“Seems fair.” Bucky nodded and his ears rose up to the splayed out position, sticking out sideways. “Would you still love me if I did something terrible?”

“Probably… depends on who you do something terrible to,” Derpy replied. She closed her bad eye and focused her good eye on her husband. “Just how terrible?”

Bucky started to reply, his mouth opening and moving, but no words came out. He coughed and cleared his throat. “For once in my life, I am too ashamed to even tell you what I’m planning. I’m sorry. If you want me to tell you, I will. This is right up there with me summoning the demon back on the Shetland isles.”

The grey mare’s expression darkened. “Bucky, that was pretty terrible… I dunno about this. Is this necessary?”

Closing his eyes, Bucky gave thought to his answer. He couldn’t lie to Derpy. He felt a painful tightness in his chest. He spent a moment doing a little soul searching, and then his whole body slumped. “Yes. Yes it is. Thousands to save millions.”

“Come to bed with me. Come lay down and get some rest. Come be with your foals.” Derpy opened her bad eye and shook her head. “We don’t need to talk about this now. Just come and be with me.”

 

 

Lost in his own thoughts, Bucky looked down at the little version of himself, little Barley Bitters. The colt was sleeping, having just fed, and his little tummy was rounded. He lay in a pile with his brothers and sisters. Bucky’s eyes lingered for a moment longer upon his colt and then he looked at Ditzy. She lay sprawled out over her twin, her eyes closed, her little wings twitching. Dizzy was almost swallowed between his sister Ditzy and his other sister, Brandywine. Brandywine was the only one awake, but not for much longer. Her eyes kept closing and staying closed for longer and longer.

He had to give them a future, but to do that, he had to take away somepony elses.

“Barley keeps bringing me treats and saying he’s sorry,” Berry Punch said in a low voice, unable to bear the silence any longer. She saw Brandywine’s ear flicker at the sound of her voice. “I don’t think I could have squeezed her out without him. I was so angry that I had to prove him wrong.”

Feeling the need to acknowledge Berry’s words, Bucky nodded but said nothing.

“You know, maybe I’m crazy, but I enjoyed giving birth, as bad as it was. I feel a sense of accomplishment. And not just because I birthed a seventeen pound foal. I did something amazing. I feel good about my life. I have a successful business, I make more than enough bits to provide for all of my family and for us to live comfortably if we had to on just my income alone. And now I’ve birthed foals. It all feels good, ya know?” Berry Punch rolled over and draped her foreleg over Bucky’s neck. She puckered up and smooched Bucky on the cheek.

“I’d like to start working again at some point, but I don’t want to be a mailpony.” Derpy shook her head as she engaged Berry Punch in soft conversation. Perhaps Bucky could be distracted out of his funk.

“We have an opening at the brewery. Got any skills?” Berry asked, grinning a sleepy grin at Derpy.

“I have bubbles on my butt… beer has bubbles… surely I can do something,” Derpy replied.

Berry, looking Berry serious, nodded. “Yes, I’ve witnessed your impressive bubble making abilities. I wonder if we can harness that to add bubbles to our beer… I have lingering concerns about the taste though.”

Covering her mouth, Derpy tittered and tried not to make too much noise. Brandywine made a fussy snort as her eyelids fluttered. She looked down at her foals and tried to swallow her laughter. “I think we should put these little fuzzballs into their crib if we are going to keep talking.”

Saying nothing, Bucky rose, lifted each foal in the soft glow of his blue green magic, slipped off the bed, and then making not a sound, he slipped off into the nursery.

He did not return.

 

 

“Princess Celestia looked peeved with Daddy and she didn’t stay to talk with us,” Piña said to her siblings. “Something is up. I don’t like it.” She looked away from Dinky and over at Harper. “Don’t go too far, Harper… you stay close or you won’t get a cookie!”

“Flutterbug!” Harper cried as she chased after a blue winged butterfly.

“Father seems off… he’s in one of his moods.” Sentinel, sitting in the grass, watched as Harper ran in circles after the blue winged butterfly. His watchful eyes shifted and he looked at Sukari, who was pacing back and forth at the edge of the lake. Sukari looked a little agitated, but she wasn’t freaking out, not yet. The zebra clearly wanted her mother though.

Thistle and Bell Heather were in the lake.

“Cadance is angry with Daddy… why is everybody angry with poor Daddy?” Dinky, sitting on her haunches, raised both front hooves and waved them around. “It’s not fair. He’s having a hard time right now and ponies are just being mean to him. Makes me angry.” Dinky took a deep breath. “I haven’t been feeling right myself. I feel off. I’m dealing with it, but everything just makes me angry lately. Have I been snippy?”

Sentinel shrugged with his wings. “You’re managing.” He glanced over at Cadance. She was sitting off by herself, scowling, looking very put out. She was staring at the farmhouse and she had the most sour expression upon her face that Sentinel had ever seen. Something was up, something awful, and somehow, Cadance was aware of what it was.

“Sukari, come over here and stop being a silly pony,” Piña said as she patted the grass beside her. She watched as Sukari stopped pacing, looked back at her, and then trotted over. When Sukari sat down, Piña hugged her and rubbed her with her hooves.

“I haven’t been right since the farm was attacked,” Dinky said. She looked at her brother. “This was supposed to be a safe place. They were in our house… everything was on fire… they kept shouting that we were going to die.” The unicorn filly’s face contorted into a scowl. “I keep thinking that I should feel bad for what I did, but I don’t. I don’t feel bad at all… and it is really bothering me. I’m supposed to feel bad.”

“We did what needed to be done,” Sentinel said, his voice coming out as a flat monotone. “I just feel numb about it.”

“You killed a pony,” Piña said in a low voice. “I dunno how you can feel numb about it.”

“I… just… do,” Sentinel stammered. “I didn’t mean to. It… just… happened. I meant to kick him… I didn’t mean to hit him so hard. It was an accident.” Sentinel felt a nose prodding him, turned his head, and saw Cadance. She looked worried. Reaching out, Sentinel pulled her closer and gave her a hug. “Father was away. I had to keep all of you safe. Our home was burning and the smell of blood was in the air and there was so much panic and I slipped up and I made a mistake.” He gave Cadance a squeeze. “Had that pony been given a chance, he would have killed us.”

“I know,” Dinky replied. “That’s why I summoned the giant hornets.”

Cadance made a soft squeak as she was squeezed. She looked up at Sentinel, her eyes wide and expressive. She reached up her hoof, touched his nose, and said in a sweet voice, “Be good.”

“You keep saying that!” Sentinel said. “I was being good… I did what I had to do. Do you know how disappointed Father would be if I let something happen to you? I was far more afraid of disappointing him than I was of being killed on that night we were attacked! I think about letting him down and it keeps me awake at night… I have so much pressure on me… I spend every waking moment of my life being good!”

Cadance closed her eyes and buried her face against Sentinel’s neck.

The colt’s stony, stoic exterior cracked, his barrel hitched, and he squeezed his eyes shut. The first tear ran down his cheek, sliding along his water resistant pelt, and spilled down upon Cadance’s ear, which twitched from the contact. He squeezed Cadance a little tighter, the alicorn was tough, sturdy, she could take it, she enjoyed it, expected it even and would pout if she wasn’t given what she wanted.

“You and Daddy,” Cadance said to Sentinel as she wrapped her forelegs around her brother’s neck and held on tight. “Not fair.”

 

 

“He’s asleep… which is kinda bad, because that’s going to make it difficult for him to get to sleep tonight… but also kinda good, because he looked tired and he didn’t get much sleep last night,” Magpie said as she emerged from the nursery.

“Thank you, Magpie,” Derpy said.

“Bandua… she’s too much like Bucky. I can’t get her to sleep at night. All she does is peep.” Magpie let out a soft, frustrated squawk. “She’s starting to crawl and pull herself around more.” The griffoness’ feathers all fluffed out. “She’s also a little nipper, so look out.”

“She got Piña a while back. Piña got her nose too close and Bandua clamped down on the edge of Piña’s nostril.” Berry Punch let out a giggle. “It was pretty funny.”

“Hush Berry,” Derpy said, giving Berry a nudge. “You’re not supposed to laugh.”

Sighing, Magpie shook her head. “Nopony listens.” She looked at the two mares in the bed. “Can I do anything for either of you?”

“I think we’re good, thanks for asking,” Berry Punch replied, still sniggering about Piña’s misfortune.

“I’m going to take a nap,” Magpie said as she departed the room.

 

 

“It’s too nice a day to be sad… what’re you lot up to?” Barley asked as he flexed his aching knees. With the spring thaw, walking was now a whole lot easier. He looked down at the herd of foals in the grass and raised his eyebrow.

“We just had a talk, that’s all,” Piña replied. She looked up at her uncle.

The wily old stallion took note of red, teary eyes, stained cheeks, and little snotty noses. “Aye, a talk.” He nodded. “Had yerselves a wee chat about something, did ye?” Barley suspected he knew what it was, but he decided to beat around the bush. “I suppose yer upset about what I said to Berry. It’s complicated, but I hope I can make you understand.”

Piña’s ears perked. Barley’s accent was slipping in and out. Something was up. She tilted her head. “Oh, I dunno about the others, but I understand why you did it. Berry was being a big crybaby.”

“Aye, aye she was,” Barley agreed, nodding his head.

“But that’s not what we were talking about.” Piña glanced at her siblings and then back up at Barley. “We’ve got it sorted out, I think. If we need help, we know where to go.”

Hearing Piña’s sass, Barley snorted. The little cuss headed lass was growing up to be like Berry, and it made Barley feel good to know that the fine Shetland spirit was alive and well in Piña. He did feel a moment of pity for poor Larch though, and made a mental note to have a chat with the lad at some point.

“Hmm, well, I guess I’ll shove off and leave you lot to continue sorting things out amongst yourselves. If ye do need me, come find me,” Barley said as he moseyed off.

“We will,” Piña replied as she watched her uncle leave.

 

 

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