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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Leaning back in his chair, Bucky yawned. Dinky was sound asleep and Piña had crawled into the hospital bed to be with Dinky. Not long after, Piña had dozed off. Hospitals were boring places and there wasn’t much to do but sleep. The pie had been finished off. Looking down at Dinky, Bucky could see tears drying upon her cheeks. Piña had been complaining about hearing voices, which worried Bucky a great deal. He wondered where Bon Bon and Lyra were and what they were doing.

Twice already, a doctor had stopped in and suggested that Dinky and Piña both needed their rest. Perhaps a doctor had shooed off Bon Bon and Lyra, telling them that the foals needed rest. Thinking about this, Bucky scowled.

The door to the room opened and Bucky lifted his head, expecting yet another doctor. He saw somepony else that he wasn’t expecting, and there was a soft smile upon her flawless, perfect white muzzle.

Hopping down out of the chair, Bucky slipped out of the room to speak with her.

 

 

“I left her in the care of Shining Armor. She desperately needed to rest and recover. I did not expect to see her like this,” Princess Celestia said to Bucky as they stood together in the hall just outside of Dinky’s room. “She is still working on Sentinel, she is not done yet, but she says that the work is going well. She also said that our doctors did a lot of damage that she is going to have to try to repair.

Scowling, a low growl of worry and concern came out of Bucky’s throat.

“Buckminster…”

“Yes?” Bucky looked up.

“About our little act earlier… I am still not entirely comfortable with doing this, but I do believe you are correct. Fear and survival are her only motivators. I had hoped for a kinder, gentler reformation, and I still do, but I will admit that your plan seems to be going well. You were right by the way.” Celestia drew in a deep breath and let it out in a relaxing exhale.

“Right about what? I’m sorry, I’m not thinking clearly.” Bucky shook his head, his ears flopping around, and then blinked a few times, trying to push away the need to sleep.

“Poor dear.” Celestia sighed, reached out her wing, and stroked Bucky’s neck. “You were right about broadcasting. I had Tourmaline help me with completely withholding my emotions and leaving myself in a blank, unreadable state. It took me a while, but Tourmaline was very, very helpful. It got to the point where Tourmaline was unable to read my emotions or know what I was thinking.”

“I broadcast my hatred,” Bucky said in a soft whisper. “It’s easy and I have a lot of it. It drowns out everything else I feel and it is the only thing that Chrysalis can read from me. If she can’t read others to know what they are thinking and feeling, it unnerves her, as we have seen. Since all she can get from me is seething hatred, she’s plenty scared that her own survival is now uncertain.”

“Which has made her cooperative.” Celestia’s muzzle wrinkled as something almost resembling a frown crept over her lips. “Carrot and stick… I am not even sure if she likes carrots, Bucky. The only thing she responds to is the stick. It worries me. How do I reach her if I cannot be kind to her at all? How can I be generous without garnering her derision?”

“I don’t know.” Bucky shrugged. “I just kill things or beat them into submission. I have Chrysalis broken down for you and I’ll keep her terrified, but how you reach her… I can’t help you.” Bucky’s claws tapped upon the smooth tile floor of the hallway, making a discordant staccato rhythm.

“Buckminster, at some point, we have to move beyond fear. I find Chrysalis detestable and I cannot stand having her near my ponies, but this is cruel and unkind. It makes me feel ashamed of myself to behave this way. Her poor treatment, does it not bother you?”

“Nope,” Bucky replied without hesitation. “I’m okay with it. If I had my way, I’d’ve had Sparkler turn her to stone and only revive her when we need her. At this point, she is a resource, nothing more. Her life is measured only by how useful she is to me.”

“Buckminster… that is a horrible thing to say and an even worse thing to think. Sparkler is a good pony. She would not enjoy doing that.” Celestia gave Bucky a disappointed glance, shook her head, and then sighed, knowing that there was no way of changing Bucky’s mind.

“Sparkler might surprise you.” Bucky blinked, let out a startling laugh, and then an unpleasant grin spread over his face. “Sparkler has learned a bit of pragmatism. You know, that is something that a lot of ponies lack. Pragmatic ideals. We’re too tied up in groupthink. We think like a herd. Pragmatism does not come naturally to us.”

“Buckminster, I do not care much for your brand of pragmatism. When tempered with kindness and generousity, pragmatism can be a useful approach to deal with things, but your pragmatism is cold, unfeeling, and… and… and—”

“Effective?” Bucky asked.

“Cruel,” Celestia replied. “You were such a kind little foal. Even with all of your troubles, even with your cold upbringing, even with your broken heart. It disturbs me to see how you can be sometimes.”

“I can still be kind,” Bucky said in his own defense, bothered by Celestia’s words. His eyes narrowed. “I can still be kind… I do kind things. I perform acts of kindness. Velvet and I schedule them regularly.”

“Only to those you feel are deserving… everything else only gets your wrath, Nephew. Your kindness has only a small focus. Everything else gets disintegrated, or transmogrified, or melted into a puddle of goo, or violently exploded, or smashed into paste, and even worse are those few you leave alive, like Vertigo. Buckminster, all he does is stare vacantly at the wall with a blank expression, and if he is not staring at the wall, he is screaming at the top of his lungs in terror, until such a time that he is medicated and subdued. The doctors say he will not recover.”

“Screw him,” Bucky grumbled.

“Buckminster, at some point, peace will be restored. We have to be able to live in peace. As much as I detest Chrysalis, she is a living, breathing, thinking, feeling creature. She deserves to live in peace as well, if she will choose to live in peace with us. I would rather see her choose to do the right thing… what I do not want is to see her locked up in a asylum, spending her days screaming in terror or slipping into a catatonic state at the memory of you.”

Dropping his head, Bucky scowled, but did not reply.

“Buckminster, I do not know how many years you have left… but not many, I suspect. Your time grows ever shorter. You have so much potential. I do not want you remembered for your terror, but for the good that I know that you can do. Please, please, please, for my sake, try to do things that will leave you remembered in a positive light.”

Opening his mouth, Bucky started to reply, but was cut off.

“Before you say anything, Nephew, it is not just for my sake, but think of your foals as well. They have to live in the world that you leave behind. Do not make them pay for your many mistakes… I cannot bear to watch.”

Bucky’s ears drooped at the sound of Celestia’s pleading voice. He could feel her sadness, her grief, her sorrow. She was broadcasting it at him. It was as if she was already mourning his loss and he wasn’t even dead yet. He sighed, his words dying in his throat, and did not know what to say now.

“It is never too late, Bucky. Not for Chrysalis, not for you, there is still time to start anew and make changes. I so very want ponies to remember you as the pony I know you can be, and not the pony that you’ve become. I know some of it is my fault… like Griffonholm. I know you have been saddled with a few things that have sullied your reputation, and for that, I am sorry. Somehow, it hurts me even more to know that you understand and that you accept these things as being necessary. I wish the world could know the sacrifices you have made. Buckminster, there is still time though… please—”

“Okay, okay, I get it.” Crushed into defeat, Bucky hung his head. “I’ll try to do things that will make you proud of me.”

“Thank you, Nephew…”

 

 

Nervous and out of sorts, Lyra Heartstrings was having a hard time dealing with the situation. She missed Harper, having left her at home, and was certain that the little frizzball was missing her. She paced, unable to sit down or calm down, and did her best to wear a track into the carpet.

“Look, Bon Bon, punishing your foals didn’t cause this to happen, life caused this to happen. Life is all screwy and things just happen. We can’t predict them, the best we can do is prepare for them and then just go along with whatever happens.”

For a moment, Lyra stopped and looked at Applejack and Silver Shill beside her, the pair of them stuffed into a chair together, sharing a chair in the way of lovers or close friends. The corner of her eye twitched and Lyra returned to pacing.

“This still feels like it is my fault,” Bon Bon said, shaking her head. “I know it isn’t, but I can’t shake the feeling. I feel so guilty. I feel like I caused this somehow. We all agreed to let them perform community service so that they would learn responsibility.”

“I’d say they learned a few things about responsibility.”

Lyra flinched at Applejack’s words and her gait went jerky for a moment.

“I am still surprised by Diamond Tiara’s level of responsibility. She wanted to come here and care for Sentinel. That’s a lot of work and I feel that it should be admired.” Silver Shill’s words were soft spoken and gentle.

“This wasn’t even meant as punishment… I mean, this allowed them to get out of the house and do something they enjoyed… it wasn’t meant to feel like onerous punishment. It was supposed to make them feel good. Give them a chance to get out and have a little fun. Everything went wrong.” Bon Bon’s brows furrowed and the distraught earth pony shook her head. “Now my son is disfigured. Dinky… poor Dinky, all I can think of is Bucky when he cracked his horn. And Piña, they don’t even know what is wrong with her.”

Lyra almost jumped out of her skin when the door opened. Whirling about, she saw a familiar black cloaked figure. Right away she darted over to him, glad to see Bucky, a wordless whimper escaping her lips as she went to his side. Rearing up, she threw her forelegs around his neck and slammed into him, knocking him to the floor. She didn’t care, but redoubled her grip, squeezing.

“Somepony is happy to see me,” Bucky grumbled as Lyra kissed his cheek.

Now laying on the floor, Lyra made the most of it, hugging, squeezing, and kissing Bucky, more out of a sense of nervousness than affection. Using her nose, Lyra brushed Bucky’s mane out of his face after his hood fell away, and then kissed him just over his left eye.

“Good to see you again, Bucky,” Applejack said.

“I was wondering where all of you went off to.” Bucky rolled over a bit and leaned up against Lyra, who supported him. “Where are Diamond Tiara and Boadicea?”

“With Lugus. The big lug is having a daddy-daughter talk with Boadicea and Diamond Tiara got dragged into it,” Applejack replied.

“They were both very upset. We could not seem to comfort them.” Silver Shill’s ears stood up as he lifted his head. “I’ll admit, I don’t know very much about looking after the emotional needs of little fillies.”

“But you try, and that’s important.” Applejack gave Silver Shill a soft nudge. “Some stallions are too scared to even try. That’s why so many little fillies grow up with daddy issues.”

“Seems like everypony is dealing with this in their own way.” As Bucky spoke, Lyra, who still had her forelegs around his neck, rubbed her cheek against his ear. “It has to be hard on Diamond Tiara though, the realisation that her life is going to be filled with a lot of moments just like this one, where Sentinel or Boadicea gets hurt and she has to be the caretaker. I would imagine that being an earth pony makes it even worse.”

“It does,” Bon Bon, Applejack, and Silver Shill all said together in unison.

The three earth ponies exchanged a three way glance with one another, and then all three turned to look at Bucky and Lyra. For a moment, Bucky felt a peculiar sensation, and he was all too aware of being a unicorn. He felt a wellspring of emotion bubbling up from inside of him.

“We earth ponies have strong connections to those we love,” Applejack said as she became quite serious, “now, I ain’t saying that unicorns and pegasi can’t have strong connections, they do, but we earth ponies experience things differently. We feel things differently. And I’m sure that unicorns and pegasi have their own ways of feelin’ stuff as well.”

“If you hurt one earth pony, you hurt all of us.” Silver Shill’s pale blue eyes flashed with emotions. “This extends to our mates as well, and those we’re closest to. We feel everything, just like how we can feel the ground and what it feels.”

Blinking, her eyes misting over, Bon Bon nodded.

“I’d imagine it’s real hard on Bon Bon and Berry when you come home all busted up, Bucky.” Applejack reached up and pushed her hat back, revealing more of her face. “Love is different for earth ponies. It means sharing all of our burdens together. It means sharing in the pain of those we love and everything they feel. That’s a trying thing to do, but we manage.”

“It’s how Bonnie and Berry keep our herd leveled out,” Lyra said as she clung to Bucky. “Bonnie and I have talked about this. We’re like plants for them to tend and nurture. They just know when we need looking after.”

“I like moments like these.” Silver Shill leaned against Applejack. “These moments of understanding between the tribes.” Turning his head, he pressed his muzzle against Applejack’s cheek and held it there.

“Bucky needs looking after… he needs some sleep. I wonder if we can find a quiet spot for him to take a nap… Lyra, are you up for nap duty?” Bon Bon eyed the two unicorns sprawled on the floor together.

Ears perking, Lyra blinked a few times as she processed the question posed by Bon Bon. Thinking about a nap caused Lyra to yawn. After yawning, she turned and looked at Bucky. “Wanna sleep with me?”

“You know, that sounds like a marvellous idea,” Bucky replied.

 

 

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