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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Numb, her body feeling weak and heavy, Berry Punch looked down at the courier delivered letter that lay upon the table in front of her. Something miraculous had taken place, but she couldn’t focus on that right now. The entire Canterhorn mountain was now a spire of beautiful blue crystal, and while Berry Punch had glanced out the window at it, she had gone back to the table, sat down, and continued to drink her coffee as she stared at the sheet of paper.

Hearing hooves, she looked up and saw Barley coming into the kitchen. His expression, sad, and full of concern, said everything that needed to be said. The old unicorn sat down at the table, easing himself into a chair, and his tired old eyes focused upon Berry.

“Lass, we need to figure out what to do,” Barley said in a low voice. “Yer twin, my niece, is gone. I’m so, so sorry, lass.” Barley let out a sigh. “Does Piña know?”

Berry Punch shook her head. “I haven’t told her yet.” Berry Punch reached up and wiped her eyes.

“Lass, it occurs to me that stills have something against this family. First yer mum, my sister, then her no good husband, yer father, and now Berryshine—”

“She’s a feckin’ numpty!” Berry shouted, banging her hoof down on the table. “This is why I went to college… this is why I learned numbers, science, and arithmetic… I kept telling her that you can’t just guess the numbers on a cobbled together still… she was… stupid… she didn’t listen to me… neither did mom or dad… feckin’ eejits.”

“We need to see about catching a train so we can go to Moonshiner’s Haint. I ain’t been there for a while. It might be nice to see the Smokey Mountains again.” Barley sighed, his expression one of weariness, and he looked at his beloved niece. “We need to go and look after wee Pinchy and settle Berryshine’s estate.”

Berry choked, her sobs almost overcoming her, and her barrel hitched. “I told that stupid coont that she was going to blow herself up—”

“Berry, it is our way. We make moonshine. We make whiskey. We make beer. We do what we love and love what we do… and not all of us are like you and I.” Barley gave his niece a sorrowful smile and watched as she began to cry, leaning on the table, her sobs causing her spoon to rattle and her coffee to slosh in her cup.

Bucky approached the table, his hooves silent upon the floor. He was bleary eyed, having woken up during the earthquake, and he looked worried. He eyed Berry and Barley, not yet knowing what was going on. He sat down at the table, poured himself a cup of coffee, added cream, then sugar, and then looked at the letter on the table when Barley nodded at it.

After a moment of reading, Bucky set down the piece of paper, looking grim. He looked at Berry, reached out, and touched her. She looked at him and he saw such pain in her eyes that he almost couldn’t bear it.

“Bucky, what do I do?” Berry asked, sniffling and wiping her nose with her foreleg.

“The only thing we can do. Go and get your niece, bring her home, and we’ll add her to the collection.” Bucky took a sip of coffee, grimaced, shook his head, and added more sugar.

“We have so many already… Bucky, I’m worried… scared even… she’s gonna be messed up from this… what if I can’t give her the love and attention she needs to recover? My sister was a horrible pony… little Pinchy was already pretty messed up as far as foals go—”

“Berry, speak no ill of the recently dead,” Barley said in a low whisper.

“No, Barley, my sister was irresponsible, she was mean, she was a terrible drunkard, she treated wee Pinchy just awful, and she took out everything on that foal of hers. She blamed all of her problems on Pinchy, rather than herself… we’re already dealing with Sukari and I’m scared out of my mind that Sukari doesn’t get the attention she needs right now with Sentinel pulling his little stunt and the newborns taking up so much of our time.” Berry Punch sat back in her chair, scowled, and folded her forelegs over her barrel. “Last time I saw Pinchy she was telling me about all of her ‘uncles’ and how some of them beat Mommy.” The plum coloured earth pony bared her teeth, her nostrils flaring, and she shook her head. “This is really just one more irresponsible act by Berryshine!”

“Aye, lass,” Barley replied, bowing his head, “I suppose it is.”

“What a way to wake up,” Bucky grumbled after taking another sip of coffee. “The Canterhorn is now all weird and made of crystal… and this happens… Berry… damn… I’m sorry.”

“Barley is right though. He and I need to go and look after things. I feel bad for leaving Brandywine and little Barley here at home, but I’m not in the mood to look after two newborns on a cross country trip.” Berry Punch wiped her eyes again, scrubbing at them, her rapid movements conveying how she was both angry and grief stricken. “Is bringing Pinchy home the right thing?”

“Of course it is,” Bucky replied without hesitation.

“Berry, ye might as well be askin’ a bloody alcoholic if drinking is a good idea.” Barley looked at Bucky, his eyebrow raised, and when Bucky glared at him, he glared right back. “Lad, it has come to the attention to those that love you unconditionally that you might have a problem.”

Scowling, Bucky took a drink of coffee and said nothing.

“I feel terrible for not knowing, but how old is wee Pinchy?” Barley asked.

“Two, as of this spring,” Berry replied as she stared down into the depths of her own coffee cup, tears streaming down her cheeks. “Bucky is right. If we don’t take her, she’ll end up with foal services, and lets face it, the rest of the family… well, they shouldn’t even be considered.”

“Aye, lass, what an ugly thing to say, too bad it’s true.” Barley coughed a bit, cleared his throat, and his ears drooped. “I’m getting too old for this shite.” Barley rubbed his face, groaning, and when he was done, he looked miserable, a frown making his muzzle wrinkle even more so than usual. “How’s Derpy?”

“She’s still spooked. She won’t leave the newborns or the egg. The earthquake made her freak out.” Bucky frowned and set his coffee cup down. “I don’t think I’m going to get my egg back from her. She’s grown very fond of it.”

“Crivens, wee Pinchy… she’s gonna need a lot of adjustment when she comes home.” Barley blinked, his scowl intensifying, and he rested his forelegs upon the table. “Things tend to be a bit weird ‘round this house.”

 

 

Piña watched as Berry and Barley made their preparations to go. She didn’t know what to say, or how to act, she was sad about the news, but not that sad, and part of her felt bad because she wasn’t crying. She sat down on the floor and watched as her uncle adjusted his trilby hat. Uncle Barley might have been old, but he was stylish. He also caused Piña a great deal of confusion because of his age. Barley was, as Piña understood it, her real mother’s brother. Berry Punch was twenty two, about to turn twenty three. Berry’s mother, Pinot Noir, had been in her forties, or so Piña thought, she wasn’t certain. Uncle Barley was in his sixties, which meant that he was twenty or so years older than his sister. Shaking her head, Piña felt uncomfortable with the troubling arithmetic.

“Piña, you gonna be okay?” Barley asked.

“I’ll be fine,” Piña responded.

“You don’t seem too busted up ‘bout this, which has me worried,” Barley said.

“I didn’t know my big sister Berryshine all that well. As for what I remember about her…” The corners of Piña’s mouth contorted downwards and her ears drooped, an expression both sad and guilty.

“Lass, what do ye remember?” Barley asked, getting a strange look from Berry.

“I remember that Berryshine drank,” Piña replied.

Eyes narrowing, eyebrows crinkling, his forehead gaining even more wrinkles, Barley sat down on the floor and looked down at his pink niece. “Honey, a lot of ponies drink. I drink. Berry Punch drinks. That’s kinda what we do in this family.”

“When Berry drinks, she’s fun and nice. She laughs a lot and she gets really huggy with me and I don’t mind, and she kisses me lot.” Piña’s expression darkened. “Berryshine though, she got mean when she drank. She said mean things. She kicked me. She hurt me. She used to press lit cigarettes into me and laugh about it.”

“Oh, feck everything,” Berry Punch muttered, squeezing her eyes shut as she swore, not even thinking about swearing in front of Piña, something she was trying to not do. For a moment, Berry Punch felt a great deal of gratitude for her sense of responsibility. She had done right by Piña, raising her, looking after her, and she felt a whole heap of sobs threatening to work their way loose from deep inside of her.

Berry Punch had always considered her family to be ‘good ponies’ but as she grew older, as she matured, and now that she had foals of her own, more and more, she was realising, there was no way that she’d ever let her foals anywhere near most of her family. More and more, she was starting to realise that she had pulled Piña away from them for a reason and that she had gone to university as an escape. Piña had been better cared for in the company of strangers—Amethyst Star, Derpy, Sparkler, all of whom were more attentive and showed Piña more affection than just about anypony in the family.

Making a sorrowful bleating sound, Berry Punch lurched forwards and snatched up Piña with her foreleg. She squeezed her sister, trying to hold back her tears as she did so. Piña was precious to her, and she loved her sister so very much, so much so that the line between sister and daughter were blurred forever.

“Piña, I’ll tell you what,” Barley said to his niece, his wrinkled face now sagging.

“Yeah?” Piña wiggled in Berry’s embrace, trying to look at her uncle.

“Wee Pinchy is probably going to be a right mess when we bring her home. I has me a real fear of what we’re gonna find.” Barley’s eyes almost closed, he sighed, and he shook his head, looking troubled at his words. “But if you help wee Pinchy and you help her get sorted out, I’ll talk to Berry Punch and Bon Bon about granting you a wee bit o’ mercy.”

“I’d still help, even if my backside was about to be paddled,” Piña said in reply.

With a gasp, Berry Punch lost it completely, now sobbing again, squeezing Piña, almost crushing the little pink filly in her embrace. She made more bleating sounds, there were many things that caused Berry Punch to sound like a sheep, and Berry Punch’s grief ran down her cheeks.

“Crivens… it has to suck to lose yer twin, even if you dinnae like them.” Barley slumped, his neck crooked, and his trilby hat tilted off to one side. “Sorry Piña, it looks like she is gonna use you as a snotrag.”

 

 

“Are you jealous that Piña isn’t being punished?” Bucky asked Dinky as Dinky ate her peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich. Dinky seemed out of sorts and Bucky felt a little worried.

“No,” Dinky replied between bites.

“It wasn’t planned, taking Piña along. Berry Punch just couldn’t let go. Piña is still in a whole heap of trouble, both of you are.” Bucky looked around his daughter’s room. School assignments were scattered over the desk and the table. The lower bunk had books scattered about. It appeared as though Dinky and Piña had been making the most of their confinement to their room.

“The Canterhorn—”

“It was neat,” Dinky said around a mouthful of sandwich, looking up at her father. “Can I please come out of my room?” Dinky looked up at Bucky, her face pleading, her ears pinning back. “Piña’s not here and I can’t stand being alone… I start hearing stuff… I start hearing… him.

Blinking, Bucky didn’t know to respond. He wondered how Sentinel was dealing with being all alone in his room. He made a snap decision, not caring that he might be lectured for it. “You can come out of your room, Dinky. Go and be with your mother. She’s still spooked from the earthquake. I’m going to talk to Sentinel.”

“Thank you, Daddy…”

 

 

 

 

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