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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Staring at the placid water of the lake, Bucky listened to the sound of Sentinel’s sobbing, not certain at all of what he was feeling or how he should respond to something like this. Even though he had been at the fatherhood game for about a year now, this was something somewhat new for him. Sentinel was hurt, really hurt, and Bucky had no idea how to make him feel better. Because of his own family situation, Bucky had nothing to draw upon, no positive experiences to try and mimic, nothing. Bucky let Sentinel cling to his leg and sob while he just sat there.

For his own part in all of this, Bucky didn’t know how to feel about everything that had taken place. He had been certain that Sentinel would come back if given a chance to do the right thing. Bucky had been proven wrong; Sentinel had kept going, even when the going got tougher. There was a strange feeling of pride mixed with anger, but Bucky kept his anger to himself. For now, anger would only further hurt Sentinel, and Bucky reasoned that Sentinel had been hurt enough.

“I feel bad for Sombra,” Sentinel managed to say between sobs, clinging even tighter to Bucky’s leg as he spoke.

Surprised, those were not the words that Bucky expected Sentinel to say. He waited, knowing that Sentinel would say more if given a chance. Bucky wrapped his cloak over Sentinel, blocking out the sun, and trying to give Sentinel a dark spot to hide. It seemed to help, or maybe Bucky was just being optimistic.

“Princess Platinum was there with him… he had revived her body… he stayed with her… he never wanted her to die… it was awful… I can’t stop thinking about it.”

Bucky closed his eyes, feeling lightheaded, almost unable to bear thinking about what Sentinel had just said. After his little breakdown, he had been taking some strong medication. Now, the side effects of the drugs and the weight of Sentinel’s words felt as though he was being crushed.

“He killed her… he killed Moonbow… he… just ripped her in half. I watched her guts spill out all over the floor.” Sentinel sniffled, his whole body shuddering. “He did it so I would go berserk and go charging in… if I would have left my friends… he would have possessed me… why must I be so angry? I keep thinking about my other father… Bloodweather… he ran off to avenge my mother… I used to think that I wasn’t worth living for, but now I think I understand why he did it. I love Moonbow so much… I didn’t know it until I saw her ripped in half… and the others… Diamond Tiara and even Boadicea, but we’re still sorting out how we feel about one another… but if something was to hurt her… I don’t know what I would do.”

Bucky nodded, feeling chills. “Loving another pony is hard to do… it makes you strong, but it also leaves you vulnerable. It is something I struggle with every day… all I could think about was losing you… Sentinel, you made me lose my marbles… I don’t know if Luna told you what happened, but I may have gone a little crazy.”

“Daddy, I think I went a little crazy too.”

Bucky felt a hard lump form in his throat. Daddy. Not father, nothing starchy, stiff, and formal, but Daddy. It was a rare thing for Sentinel to drop his guard so completely and allow himself to be a foal. He wrapped his foreleg around Sentinel and pulled him closer.

“I think that you and I understand each other a little better now,” Bucky said, his voice a low whisper. He saw ripples in the lake water and wondered if Thistle was lurking. She and Bell Heather were both in the lake, causing no end of frustration for poor Sukari. Bucky made a mental note that he needed to do something to fix this problem. “Sentinel, son, you and I both need to make a promise to be a bit more considerate with the ones that we love. I’m in trouble too for taking off and going on a little adventure to see Chrysalis. Derpy is still giving me the stinkeye, Berry Punch keeps telling me off, Lyra and Bon Bon scolded me, Thistle is angry with me, and the only wife I have who is on my side is Belisama… who is still angry with me, but understands why I did what I did. Sentinel… the females in our lives… they’ll keep us honest, if we’ll let them.”

“I shagged Moonbow.”

Bucky sucked in a deep breath and then held it, not knowing what to say or how to respond. He had to force himself to start breathing again and he stared at the lake water, watching the sun sparkle upon the surface, making the lake look as though it was full of diamonds.

“It just sort of happened. She was there and it just sort of happened and everything was over so fast and afterwards, I felt so protective of her and I wanted to keep her safe and do right by her… it was all so overwhelming… and to tell the truth, I’m not ready to grow up and be an adult just yet. I think I made a mistake…” Sentinel sighed. “Loving her was not a mistake… I don’t know what I mean. Nothing makes sense right now.”

“I think I understand,” Bucky said to Sentinel.

“Are you angry?” Sentinel asked.

“No.” Bucky said his reply without hesitation.

“Are you sure?” Sentinel sounded doubtful.

“Sentinel, I didn’t get laid until I was completely grown up and was married. I missed out on a lot in life. I didn’t get a chance to enjoy my youth. I wasn’t a happy pony. I just sort of muddled through my teenage years and hoped that they would end. I was determined to be alone… I made a terrible mistake.” Bucky shook his head, his eyes still focused on the lake. He was certain that he had seen something lurking just beneath the surface of the water. “You know, I think Berry Punch will be both happy and relieved to hear about this. She worries about you. You should hear her talk. She loves you, you know. She is your mother in every way that matters—”

“And I hurt her by leaving… I’m sorry.” Sentinel let go of his father’s leg, slipped out from beneath his father’s cloak, and walked to the edge of the rock that he and his father had been sitting on. He stared down into the water. “I really am sorry… but I had to do what I had to do.”

“You know Sentinel, I might just be the only pony that really understands you when you say that.” Bucky took a deep breath and heaved a sigh. “Sometimes, sometimes I get so scared when Twilight or Sunset have to go into a dangerous situation. I’d rather it be me. It kills me when Sunset has to do something that might get her hurt. I go out of my mind with worry. So I can’t fault you for what you did.”

“But you’re still going to punish me,” Sentinel said.

“Of course I am,” Bucky replied, “if you’re going to be like me, then you are going to experience exactly what it means to be me. Consequences too. The good and the bad. Sentinel, son, there are consequences to everything, good or bad. That is the defining nature of our character… how we deal with consequences. I’ve done things… questionable things. I’ve done bad things and good things. I understand and accept that there are going to be consequences. But then I do whatever needs to be done anyway.”

“Like your deal with Chrysalis?” Sentinel turned away from the water and looked at his father. “Father, if I may speak openly, everything about that feels wrong.”

Bucky sighed when he heard Sentinel call him ‘father.’ Those moments where Sentinel opened up were so rare and treasured. His talons tapped upon the rock where he was sitting. “Of course it has elements of wrongness, but that doesn’t mean that some good can’t come out of it. Queen Chrysalis is getting a chance to show that she can be trusted. We are getting a powerful ally to help us in the war.” Bucky cleared his throat. “As for me, I’m getting the means to strike my foes a crippling, perhaps even a mortal blow.” Bucky thought of Cadance and Shining Armor, they were getting something as well. He sighed again, it was worth getting the stinkeye knowing that Cadance and Shining Armor would be able to have foals someday.

“I didn’t do this for good reasons.” Sentinel closed his eyes and shook his head. “I did this to get revenge… I wanted to pick a fight with Sombra because of what he did… how he hurt you… how he hurt us… the rats… everything. What I did was stupid.”

“Perhaps.” Bucky watched as Sentinel opened his eyes. “We all have our reasons. I’ll freely admit that sometimes, revenge is my primary means of motivation.” Having said what needed to be said, Bucky found that he felt a little better. “Sentinel, son, if something was to hurt one of your mothers, or you, one of your siblings… do you think for one minute that I would hunt them down because it was the right thing to do? Do you really believe that I am that virtuous?”

“No.” Sentinel felt queasy even saying the word. “No, you are not.”

“It’s the reason why I can’t go hunting down the ponies that hurt Lyra. I’d do all of the wrong things for all of the wrong reasons and nothing good would come out of it. It is a failing point of mine, a weakness.” Bucky stood up, stretched his legs, and walked over to where Sentinel was sitting. He sat down beside his colt and stared down into the water.

“And I’d probably join you.” Sentinel wiped his eyes with his foreleg and then snorted, blowing a stream of snot into the water. “I want to be a better pony and I guess that means being honest. I’d probably hurt them for the sake of hurting them, not for the sake of making things right.”

“Sentinel, you and I are more alike than either of us would care to admit.” Bucky reached out his talons and poked the water with his claw, causing a circle of ripples to spread out from where his claw touched the water. “I doubt that we can change our natures… the best that we can hope for is to channel them for better purposes and try to keep our inner darkness in check. It doesn’t make us bad ponies, it just means we have to work harder to be good ponies.”

“But there are times when we have to do bad things for good reasons?” Sentinel asked.

“Yes, son, there are times when the only option left is to do something bad… and that is where strength of character comes in. You do what needs to be done, you kill whomever needs to be killed, you do whatever it is that you have to do, and then you face the consequences. Afterwards, you pick up the pieces and you try to heal. Those that love you, those that really love you, will stick by your side and will try to understand why you did what you did… you have to understand Sentinel, there are going to be moments where those who love you are going to hate your actions, but that doesn’t mean that they hate you. They… they just can’t understand why you did what you did or how you could do something so awful. But if they love you and trust you, they’ll understand that you did what you had to do. It might take them some time before they accept it, but with love, time, and patience, things will smooth out.”

“So strength of character comes with facing the consequences for your actions? Being punished?” Sentinel looked up at his father, more tears now streaming down his cheeks.

“Son, bad things happen. Thunderlane… he is what you call a good pony… when the collapse happened, Thunderlane… when he was part of Ponyville’s militia, he had to kill a few ponies. He didn’t want to do it. But he understood that it had to be done. Thunderlane now lives under the shadow that he had to kill his fellow ponies… and there is nothing he can do about it but accept it. It is a consequence, a dreadful one for him. Twilight Sparkle incinerated Griffonholm. Every day I know she suffers from the guilt of what happened. As for myself, of all the things I’ve done, the one thing that truly bothers me was killing the griffon cubs in the nursery. I wish I hadn’t done it, but I know that it had to be done. Belisama gets me through those rough moments when I begin to doubt myself.”

“So if these things hurt us, why the punishment?” Sentinel shook his head, not understanding.

“Son, we face the consequences so we can feel like we have paid for what we’ve done. It eases our consciences. It is so we can feel like we have given something back for what we have taken. I promise you, you’ll feel better about all of this once you've faced the consequences.” Bucky reached out and gave Sentinel’s ear a gentle tug with his talons.

“Really?” Sentinel asked.

“Honest,” Bucky replied. “If Derpy was to stop giving me the stinkeye, or if Berry didn’t hold me accountable, or if Bon Bon didn’t chew me out, I’d feel worse about a lot of things. I know I have it coming, and it is a relief to finally get it. I trust in those I love to set me straight.”

Sentinel nodded, sort of understanding. “I’ll do whatever it takes to make this right. I’m sorry for what I’ve done… I hope that I can earn your trust again.” Sentinel wiped away more tears and stared down into the water, looking at the reflections of himself and of his father.

“Son, your first task, once you’ve recovered, is going to Sweetie Belle’s parents and apologising to them… Cookie and Hondo were absolutely beside themselves… Rarity was here to welcome Sweetie Belle home because Cookie had a nervous breakdown. Poor Cookie has a hard enough time knowing that Rarity goes into dangerous situations, but Sweetie Belle is still her sweet little foal… so you are going to apologise and you are going to stand there, and you are going to take whatever Cookie and Hondo have to dish out.”

“Father, I understand…”

 

 

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