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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“You’ve been into my paints again!” Dinky’s voice came out as half whine and half groan as she stood in the doorway looking at her little sister. At that moment, Dinky felt a lot of things, a bit of anger, a bit of frustration, and a bit of guilt for being angry as well as frustrated. She dumped her schoolbag full of homework on the floor, heaved a sigh of annoyance, and then bit her lip, determined not to be angry. There was plenty of times that she had got into Sparkler’s stuff and Sparkler never got too angry.

“Like paint.” Harper looked up at Dinky, a paint brush hanging out of the corner of her mouth. “Paint pretty. Harpy like pretty.” Harper, not knowing what else to do, stared at Dinky with wide, unblinking eyes, hoping that Dinky would be nice, the only thing a little sister could do in this situation.

“Okay, Harper, new rule—”

“No touch paint,” Harper said, slumping down, having heard this rule many, many times now. The corners of her mouth sagged and she almost dropped the paintbrush hanging from the corner of her lips.

“No, Harper… new rule… if you want to paint, come and find me. We’ll paint together and I’ll help you so you won’t make a mess out of my watercolour paints. You never clean your brushes or do anything and they all end up smeared together.” Dinky strode forward, giving Harper a gentle smile. “Also, stop painting on the floor. The paint soaks through the paper you are using and gets into the rug or stains the hardwood floor. That gets me in trouble because I’m supposed to be responsible.”

Gazing into Harper’s eyes, Dinky wondered if she caused Sparkler to become frustrated and angry on a regular basis. Sparkler was always so happy and cheerful, she had been a great big sister, she had always been so patient, loving, and kind. Sighing, Dinky felt ashamed. She had hollered at Harper a few times now, lost her temper more than once, and now, looking at Harper, she could see that Harper seemed to be afraid of her. Little sisters were supposed to feel safe and be able to trust their big sisters.

“My homework can wait a bit, I think,” Dinky said to Harper as she levitated out her easel from the corner and unfolded it. Without knowing why, Dinky wanted to see Sparkler, give her a hug, and tell her ‘thank you.’ Dinky levitated up her paints, pulled out a roll of paper towels, and began to daub out the smeared together paints as best as she could. “Come on, Harper, let’s paint a picture together. Your brush strokes could use some work and I can show you some techniques that will help you.”

The paintbrush held in Harper’s mouth clattered to the floor, splattering paint everywhere. Dinky ignored it, she would have to clean it up later. A moment later, Harper was hugging her, her little forelegs wrapped tight around Dinky’s neck. She felt her eyes go moist; the urge to talk to Sparkler and say a few things intensified a great deal.

She had taught Harper so much already, little things that would help Harper out in life. Bathroom habits, little tricks to keep her tail out of the toilet. Dinky helped Harper to brush her teeth. Harper was able to shampoo herself now and rinse it out most of the time. Her moistened eyes grew hot and Dinky wrapped a foreleg around Harper, giving her sibling a fierce hug.

In that moment, Dinky understood her place in the larger scheme of things, she understood how lucky she was to have Sparkler, but not just Sparkler. Piña too, Sentinel, and she was privileged to be a big sister herself now. Harper was good practice, Sukari as well, but the zebra filly was a lot more independent. In time, the newborns would be older and Dinky would be needed to help them.

Looking down into Harper’s hopeful, happy eyes, Dinky gave Harper a warm smile. “You and I are going to do some painting and this will be special Harpy and Dinky time. Would you like that?”

Harper nodded, almost bouncing in place, her head bobbing up and down. “Yes yes yes, Harpy like.”

“Let’s see what we can make…”

 

 

Hearing the sound of Twilight Sparkle’s spoon clinking against her coffee mug, Bucky’s ears perked. He glanced at Twilight, who seemed out of sorts, and felt a little worried. A lot was riding upon Twilight’s mental alertness and Bucky was fearful what a distracted alicorn might do. She had been stirring her coffee for several minutes now.

“You gonna be up for tonight?” Bucky asked in a low voice, trying to see if he could get Twilight’s attention the easy way or the hard way. Much to his surprise, Twilight blinked a few times and then looked at him.

“I’m sorry, I’m just… I dunno… the meeting earlier. Those zebras have some pretty unrealistic expectations of you. I think everypony does. Even me. I was thinking about it.” Twilight pulled her spoon out of her coffee, her eyes never leaving Bucky, and set it down upon the table. “Flash should be bringing Glass Slipper by soon. Hopefully, she’s been napping most of the day. We’re going to need her tonight. Discord will be here at sundown and I think he said that Fluttershy was coming with him, along with Tranquility and Lunacy. Rarity… I don’t know when she’ll be over.”

“Sunset Shimmer and Trixie both have been preparing. Star Swirl’s rod of portal control is waiting in the upper lab.” Bucky reached up and rubbed his chin with his talons. “Do you think having Discord around will smooth out the imperfections and make the portal control rod safer to use?”

“Yes, call it a gut feeling. Discord is necessary now for so many things. He has been a huge asset into my studies into harmonics. Funny how life is… we need a source of chaos in order to make a truly harmonious system. All those years with Discord sealed away in stone, we were actually doing serious harm to the world.” Twilight lifted up her coffee cup, sniffed, and took a sip of the steaming, creamy brown liquid.

“You really do believe that, don’t you?” Bucky asked.

After pulling her mug away from her lips, Twilight nodded. “A lot of things went wrong Bucky… the balance was destroyed. Discord was sealed away in stone, Princess Luna was banished to the moon, and the Elements of Harmony secreted themselves away, abandoning their former bearers. And while the world appeared to be getting better… civilisation grew, nations formed, technological progression happened, we suffered from cosmic decay. Magic grew unstable. The heavens broke down. Love and friendship both suffered. The world became a place filled with spite and hatred. Somehow, poor Princess Celestia suffered through those thousand turns of the seasons all alone, trying to hold everything together and the world rotted away around her, slowly dying, a world filled with false hope and entropy.”

“That’s pretty heavy, Twilight.” Bucky’s eyes narrowed and he now understood why Twilight seemed so distracted. She had been thinking, that much was obvious.

The clatter of hooves on the floor caused both Twilight and Bucky to turn and look at the two fillies entering the kitchen. Harper came trotting in and Dinky followed along behind her. Dinky was holding a sheet of paper and Harper was grinning ear to ear.

“Mama Mama, Harpy painted you a picture.” Harper came to a dead stop just a few feet away from Bucky’s chair and looked up at Bucky with wide, adoring eyes. Her whole body shook as Dinky laid the paper down upon the table.

Peering down, Bucky had himself a look. He had no idea what it was, but it was purple, it was brown, it had some blue, it had four legs, which was good, but it also appeared to have a fifth leg growing out of what might have been its head. Bucky had no idea what it was and he wasn’t sure what to do. These moments always made him feel fearful and anxious. Harper had no doubt poured everything she had into making this and he had no idea what it was. He didn’t want to hurt Harper’s feelings and he didn’t know what to say.

“This is very nice,” Bucky said, all too aware that Twilight was smirking at him. “Um, Harpy… what did you paint for me?”

“A rippobottomus,” Harper replied.

Twilight snorted and almost choked; she covered her mouth with her foreleg and tried to compose herself, her eyes wide with barely contained laughter.

“A rippobottomus.” Bucky blinked, still staring at the paper, and his ears splayed out sideways, causing some of his mane to spill down over his face. He heard Dinky giggling and Bucky smiled, but had no clue what a rippobottomus was. “Harpy, can you tell me what a rippobottomus is?” Bucky’s ears perked when Twilight squealed and then wheezed, trying to hold in her laughter.

“The animal book has a big fat animal that lives in a lake.” Harper’s face contorted as she tried to turn her thoughts into words. “Hides in water. Mama told me it’s fat and it farts bunches.”

Bucky almost swallowed his tongue, his eyes bulging, and he fought to keep his composure. Harper was making it difficult, she looked as serious as a stone. Dinky was sniggering and Twilight was whimpering while biting down on her own hoof, her sides heaving.

“The animal rips bottom and is a rippobottomus,” Harper explained.

Bucky saw Twilight’s eyes squeeze shut and a single tear rolled down her cheek, her whole body shaking. He wasn’t doing so good himself, he felt a powerful tickle in his throat and it took all of his willpower to remain serious. Bucky was certain that he was going to die at any moment, the powerful feeling of constriction in his barrel was growing stronger.

“What’s funny?” Harper asked.

“Nothing, you did a very good job,” Bucky replied, realising now that Harper had drawn him a hippopotamus, or had tried to do so, he wasn’t certain, but he suspected that she might have been confused and had drawn a rhinoceros. He wasn’t sure what was hanging off the animal’s head. “I am very, very proud of you. I’m going to hang this on the refrigerator and I am going to label this as a rippobottomus so everypony will see it and be amazed.”

A pen popped into existence next to Bucky’s head and with great care, he dated the painting, signed Harper’s name, and added the word ‘rippobottomus’ to the bottom of the paper. He was having a lot of trouble breathing now, each breath was laboured and his lungs burned, craving release. A bit of a giggle escaped and Bucky pressed his lips tight together.

With her hooves clattering, Dinky split, running out of the kitchen, giggling as she departed. Bucky watched her go, straight lipped, and Twilight Sparkle sounded as though she was dying or about to give birth. Bucky, still sitting in his chair, placed the picture on the front of the fridge and secured it in place with magnets.

“Harpy gonna go find Mama now. She come see rippobottomus.” Smiling from ear to ear, Harper pronked out of the kitchen, bouncing away, leaving behind two stupefied adults.

Unable to hold it in any longer, Bucky exploded with laughter and fell out of his chair.

 

 

After opening the door, Sentinel saw Rarity. She gave him a cool look, he supposed that she was still miffed with him, and she had every right to be. He bowed his head, stepped inside, and said, “Ma’am, do come in.”

Le fauteur de troubles,” Rarity said, punctuating her words with a sniff.

Sentinel heard laughter coming from the kitchen, but he didn’t know what the laughter was about. He also had no clue what Rarity had just said to him. His ears drooped and he looked up at the mare looking down at him.

“Rarity, be nice,” Coco said as she entered, pushing her way in past Rarity and bumping Rarity aside with her hips. She placed a hoof under Sentinel’s chin, tilted his head to one side, and gave the colt a loud smacker of a kiss on the cheek. “She just called you a maker of trouble.”

Sentinel was about to say something when Rarity grabbed him and pulled him into a fierce hug. She squeezed him, murmuring something he couldn’t make out, and then she pulled away, her eyes blinking.

“Oh dear, my mascara is going to run.” Rarity stepped backwards, still blinking, and turned away from Sentinel. “Diamond Tiara sends her regards. She and Sweetie are with my mother and father. She is doing a little better. I hope you know how lucky you are to have her.”

“I am,” Sentinel replied, not knowing what else to say. “She means a lot to me. She slapped me, you know, just before we left.”

“Well,” Rarity took a deep breath, turned her head, and looked Sentinel in the eye, “at least she has a little common sense… my lessons on how to deal with ruffians are paying off.”

“Speaking of scoundrels, where is Bucky?” Coco asked.

“In the kitchen with Twilight, I think. They’re in there laughing about something.” Sentinel looked up at Rarity, feeling guilty and ashamed. “I’m sorry, I really am.”

“Not yet you’re not, but you will be.” Rarity’s eyes, glazed over with tears that had not yet fallen, became steely. “I have plans for you… terrible plans… Coco and I are going to need packages delivered in Canterlot and you and Boadicea are going to be doing a lot of flying.”

After bowing his head, Sentinel nodded.

“Ask your parents permission to see if you can go see Diamond Tiara. She needs you. She is feeling a little better, but she is troubled. If you can get permission, you should go and comfort her,” Rarity said to Sentinel, her eyelashes fluttering as she tried to keep tears from falling.

Sentinel found himself grabbed again by Rarity, her foreleg was tight around his neck, and he could feel her trembling. He let himself be held and he could feel Rarity’s body shaking as she struggled to breathe. For reasons he could not give voice to or explain, this hurt him. Inside, he felt just awful. It was clear that Rarity loved him, but was still infuriated with him. He had put her in a terrible position.

Le faeteur de troubles,” Rarity whispered, saying the words once more as she squeezed Sentinel as tight as she could, her mascara running down her cheeks.

For Sentinel, this was the worst punishment he could think of.

 

 

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