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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Almost everything was in order. Bucky had pulled off a few last minute miracles and had endeared himself as a father. Larch and Babs were attending the Grand Galloping Gala with Piña, wearing the formal clothing they had worn for Apple Bloom’s Coronation Gala. Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich had brought Twist to the Gala as a surprise for Dinky.

Bucky, feeling an unusual amount of self esteem, was almost certain that he was now a shoo-in for father of the year. Okay, so the year was mostly new and they were only a few months in, but Bucky had delivered. His foals were happy. He was going to attend his son’s coronation.

Now, all he had to do was find Princess Luna, wherever it was that she had gone off to, to ask about Sentinel’s formal knighting. He was a knight in word, but he still had not been formally knighted and Bucky was wondering when such a thing was going to take place, because it had not been scheduled for the Grand Galloping Gala and his coronation.

All things considered, Bucky was excited. He was finally going to attend a coronation. He had missed his own, Beauregard had decided to be born during Apple Bloom’s coronation, but this was the one.

He hurried, feeling pressured to be there on time. There wasn’t much time left, the hour drew ever nearer. Bucky was a little worried being around such a large group of high society ponies, but he would manage. There was a plan… Pinkie Pie had promised to keep him well supplied with Banana Blaster Smoothies. The Banana Blaster Smoothies would make everything better.

Hovering, his hooves not touching the floor, Bucky drifted like a spectre down the hall, heading towards Luna’s unmistakable magic, which stood out like a beacon for him. Her moon magic now made him feel a little drunk, for reasons that Bucky did not understand.

There had been changes since drinking the distilled essence of chaos.

Rounding the corner, Bucky pushed through the massive double doors that opened up onto the upper parapets with his umbrakinesis, and as he opened them, he heard the sounds of weeping…

 

 

The sounds of Luna’s wailing sliced through his heart like frozen steel. Bucky could hear what sounded like body wracking sobs. She was above him, higher up, above the parapets, on a balcony, and Bucky drifted upwards, borne on shadow, rising up to be with her.

As Bucky drifted closer to the rail, he realised that Luna had not seen him, had not noticed him, and he drew closer. The doors to Luna’s aerie were opened and he could see inside of her private chambers. Her room looked trashed. The bed was shredded, the ornate wooden bedframe was a mess of splinters. The mirrors had been smashed. Candelabras had been knocked over and lay scattered about. The only thing that appeared to be unbroken was a large telescope of ancient design.

Heart heavy, Bucky approached the weeping goddess who had her head and forelegs resting upon the decorative stone railing of her balcony. He extended his talons, as if to touch her, and he felt his eyes misting over.

“Luna?”

“LEAVE ME!” Luna shrieked, her voice a piercing, agonised cry.

Jerking his talons away, Bucky hung there, suspended, not sure what to do, but he did not leave as commanded. After a moment, he drifted closer, over the railing, and settled near Luna’s side. Again, he tried to reach out to her, the sobbing, heartbroken goddess.

“Luna?” He reached out his talons and placed them on her back, right between her wings. He felt her tensing, her muscles bunching, and realised that if she vented her fury upon him, he was going to take quite a thrashing, because he had no plans to stop her.

“Once more, I was not invited!” Luna’s wracking sobs began to subside a little. Turning, she pulled Bucky out of shadow, making him solid, and she wrapped her forelegs around him, crushing him to her barrel. “I’m not wanted!”

Feeling a heaviness in his heart, Bucky allowed himself to be almost crushed, not knowing what else to do. Ever since her return, Luna had not been invited to one single Grand Galloping Gala. The Princess of the Night, it seemed, was unwelcomed at the Greatest Night Ever.

Luna’s sobs picked up again, painful sounding full body sobs, and her wails almost left him deaf. She squeezed a little too hard and Bucky felt several ribs snap within his barrel. He ignored the blinding pain, it was nothing he couldn’t handle, but he was a little worried as the weeping alicorn’s constriction continued to get stronger.

Each breath was like inhaling fire into his lungs, but that was minor compared to the pain that Bucky could feel radiating from Luna. The changeling essence grafted into him screamed with the agony of her emotions. He could feel it sinking into him now, an eon of bitterness. For a moment, he thought it might break him, and he was fearful that he wasn’t strong enough to endure this shared sense of emotion.

Reaching deep down inside, Bucky recalled every lesson he had had with Fluttershy, the many long hours of meditation, of self focus, of finding calm, of finding his true inner strength, not the darkness within himself that he relied far too much upon. He thought of his cushion, his island, his private place in an ocean of tranquility and calm, the place where he could not be reached. Fluttershy had worked so hard to show him, to teach him, she had nurtured him and tended to him as if he was a tender shoot of new growth.

Another rib popped and the constriction reached a point where it was unbearable. Bucky gritted his teeth, grunted, and then, much to his relief, the crushing weight around his ribs eased. He sucked in much needed wind and almost passed out as his lungs filled and pushed against his broken ribs. Stars filled his vision and he desperately tried to focus. Luna needed him and he needed to push past his own discomfort.

Not knowing what to do, Bucky demanded that his brain think of something, even something stupid—like perhaps raising an army, invading the Grand Galloping Gala, and causing mayhem. A little grey pegasus circled his head along with the stars that he saw, and she was giving him the stink eye. Bucky nixed that idea; wrecking his son’s coronation would get him pulped by Derpy. Other little pegasi joined the grey one circling his head. One had flaming wings, the other wore ornate war shoes. Both of them urged him to do the right thing, to be the example that they and his other foals needed him to be.

A little flying griffoness popped into existence, began circling his head, and suggested that if Luna couldn’t come to the gala, bring the gala to Luna. Inspired, Bucky had an idea. A brilliant idea. An idea that Bucky was at least ninety nine percent certain was not a stupid idea. There was no way that the grey pegasus would pulp him for doing the right thing.

Bucky waited for Luna to compose herself a bit, enduring her painful embrace. With each breath, he could feel the broken ends of his ribs scraping together. He tried to keep his breathing as shallow as possible.

“Luna,” Bucky groaned, it took effort to get the words out. “Luna, do you trust me?”

All Bucky got as a reply was sniffles. He waited, patient, and with careful effort, he got his forelegs around Luna’s neck. There were more explosions of colour in his vision. He would need his ribs looked after, but that would have to come later.

“I do…” Luna said, replying after several long, agonising minutes of clinging to Bucky.

“I can make this better, but you need to let me go. Let me help you. I promise, I’ll do the right thing,” Bucky said in a voice that was raspy and bubbled with pain.

Realising what she had done, realising that she had hurt Bucky during her emotional state, understanding that she had lost control, Luna let go, relaxing her grip, she eased Bucky back, and looked down into his eyes. She hadn’t meant to hurt him. She could see that his eyes were glassy. She started to say something, but a talon tip was pressed up against her lips. Some strange magic compelled her to remain silent.

“Let me help you,” Bucky offered as he pulled his talons away from Luna’s muzzle.

“Do not get my sister involved. I do not wish to ruin the gala. The peace here in Canterlot is so fragile.” Luna’s eyes closed and she eased Bucky down to the ground, feeling terrible for what she had done. Her emotions had gotten away from her. “I am certain that my sister had her reasons. This wasn’t done out of malice.”

Wheezing, it was all Bucky could do to remember Fluttershy’s lessons. He felt a strange calm. No cackling. No maniacal laughter. He had ponies that needed him. Luna needed him. Celestia needed him, because her sister needed looking after. Sentinel and Boadicea needed him not to ruin their coronation with deviant behaviour.

A little pink alicorn joined the flock circling his head and she gave him a cheerful smile of encouragement. He blinked, trying to clear his vision, and tried to think of everything he needed to do.

“Luna, wait for me, right here. And trust me. I’ll be back, I promise. I’m not deserting you, but I do need to go and fetch something. Will you be okay without me?” Bucky reached up with his talons once more, and angling his supernaturally sharp claws away from Luna’s face, he wiped her tears away.

“I’ll manage,” Luna replied. She sniffled and swallowed her sobs.

“I’ll be back, I promise. I’ll be swift… wait for me…”

And with that, Bucky was gone, vanishing in an explosion of ice and shadowstuff.

 

 

Having quieted a bit, Luna waited on her most faithful servant, her most devoted, dedicated Minion. She wiped her eyes, feeling guilty, knowing that she needed to put her aerie in order. It would be shameful to require the maids to clean that up. It would be shameful to even let the maids see it, mortifying even.

Her fury gone, her grief having come out as tears, Luna just felt empty now. She had no idea what Bucky was up to, no clue what he planned to do, but she trusted in him to do the right thing. He would not wreck the gala, of that, she was certain.

Looking up at the stars, Luna waited and thought of Erebus. He was with Tourmaline, and the pair of them had Sunset Shimmer, Trixie, and Bartleby foalsitting them. Luna shivered in the cool air of the spring night. She coughed, clearing her throat, and tried to ignore the lonely ache in her barrel.

Sensing shadow, Luna peered off into the night sky, off in the direction of Ponyville, which glittered far down below. The detestable electric lights were far too bright and caused no end of light pollution, making it difficult to see her stars and enjoy her night. She hated them, loathed them in a way that few ponies would ever understand. But little ponies needed to see… and many of them were afraid of the dark.

Luna rose to her hooves and waited. Something was coming in fast. Not shadow winking, but flying at incredible speeds. She could feel the shadow in the distance and she knew who it was. It had taken him a while, but he had kept his promise, just as she knew that he would. He was returning.

A dark shape stood out in sharp contrast against the stars and the purple night sky, a trick of the light from below reflecting upon the clouds up above. Luna could see it drawing closer, closer, and her heart lept up into her throat when she heard a familiar lilt.

“Ach, crivens, ye damned spook, ye done dragged me through the shadows and I saw all sorts o’ boggles and boggarts and spine shivery little soul suckers, damn yer eyes! I saw things we mere mortals ain’t meant to see!”

Feeling very much like a filly, Luna sucked in a deep breath and worried if she was presentable. Everything held inside came out in a huff. Of course she wasn’t presentable. No doubt, her eyes were red, her muzzle was covered in snot, and there was no way that she was pretty. Luna began to panic and thought about pulling a vanishing act.

But Bucky had promised to return, and Luna did not want to betray his trust. She stood, waiting, her heart sinking, feeling hideous. She looked behind her and saw the mess that was her aerie. She had made a mess of everything, not just her aerie. She felt more shame.

“Aye, laddie, she needs me, I can tell from here, hurry up, laddie.”

Swirling darkness drew closer to Luna’s balcony and she could see Barley suspended in tendrils of shadowstuff. Bucky was only the suggestion of an amorphous mass. As he drew closer, he became more pony-like in shape.

“Luna, I’m so sorry I took so long, I had to find a foal sitter for Berry Pinch and do you have any idea how hard it is to find a foal sitter for a feral mustang foal on short notice?” Bucky dropped Barley down upon the balcony, gently setting the old stallion down upon his hooves. “Thankfully, Discord and Fluttershy were all too happy to look after her.”

As Bucky began to take on physical mass once more, having himself a short breather, Barley tottered off to Luna, his brows furrowed, his forehead wrinkled, his arthritic knees popping with each step. Barley said nothing and didn’t give Luna a chance to get away or say anything. He grabbed her in his telekinesis and with a sharp, hard yank, he pulled her to him. Letting out a wordless grunt, Barley kissed Luna, a fiery passionate kiss that caused Luna’s wings to snap out from her sides with a deafening supersonic crack.

“I’m not done, sorry… we have the dancers, but we need music… excuse me, I’ll be right back!” Bucky vanished once more, leaving the two lovers covered in snowflakes.

 

 

Flying on wings made of shadowstuff, Bucky flew with three passengers upon his back, the trio of them suspended in shadow. All three were precious to him, they were creatures that he loved, cherished, treasured. One was his friend, one was his lover, and one was the vessel of his hopes and dreams.

Gliding through the darkness, Bucky could see that Barley and Luna were right where he had left them, still kissing, and from the looks of things, Luna was holding Barley up so his knees could have a rest.

He touched down, landing without a sound, and steadied himself. He felt his passengers squirming on his back. Odin lept down first, landing on all four legs, and on his back was a battered looking case that held an even more battered fiddle inside. Belisama plopped down beside Odin, her autoharp in a heavy canvas case. Around her neck, Bandua was suspended in a shawl.

There was a peep of protest as Bucky snatched away Bandua and took off with her, a manic grin upon his muzzle, and his teeth glowing oddly in the moonlight. Without even thinking about it, giving it no thought at all, Bucky snapped his talons and a small wooden cask of wine appeared, conjured up from the castle’s wine cellars. There was another snap and several wine goblets appeared.

Odin, being a gentlebirdy, fetched two cushions from the wreckage of Luna’s room, one for himself and one for Belisama. He tossed them down on the balcony, went to the wine cask, filled himself a glass, and returned to his cushion, walking on three legs. He sat down, took a sip of wine, set his glass down, and then opened up his fiddle case. He pulled out a fiddle that had seen better days… better centuries. He then pulled out a battered bow and gave it a critical stare through one squinted eye.

As Belisama got herself situated, Bucky showered Bandua with as much affection as he could muster, ignoring his ribs and his laboured breathing. She peeped, filling the night with a joyous sound, and Bucky, using his umbrakinesis, poured himself a glass of wine.

Barley, pulling away from Luna, righted several candelabras with his telekinesis, arranged them around the balcony, and lit the candles. The immediate area was filled with a warm orange-yellow glow and the fragrant scent of burning wax and wine filled the chilly night air.

There was a soft screech as Odin drew his bow over his fiddle strings, the old wizened griffon let out a squawk of irritation, his crest rising, and he flexed his talons while holding his bow in his beak. Sitting on his cushion, he wiggled his toes on his hind paws and his tail twitched. He set down his fiddle, raised his wineglass, and had himself a good, long drink. He then set down his glass, blinked, picked up his fiddle, and with his bow held carefully in his talons, he drew it over the strings once more.

A beautiful sound filled the night, it was mournful, sorrowful, but also beautiful. Belisama began plucking her autoharp, warming up her talons for a performance for the ages. The griffoness was nervous—she was playing with a deity for a deity. There was a lot of pressure to perform well.

“Aye, lass, might I have this dance?” Barley asked in a breathy lilt. “I cannae bear how beautiful ye are in the moonlight… I’ll be good for now, but I’m shaggin’ yer backside later till we’re knackered, I am.”

Unable to help herself, Luna tittered like a school filly as her misery melted away. She held Barley in her telekinesis, holding him close to her, they were neck to neck, and Luna, knowing that she had hurt a pony that she loved earlier, made certain she was gentle.

As Belisama and Odin began to play, Bucky felt the pain in his barrel easing just a little bit. He felt his spirits lift. He cradled Bandua in his forelegs, wondering when she too would get a personality and be more than a peeping lump. He was eager to talk to her, to get to know her. She was showing signs of growth, of development now. She peeped eagerly when she saw him now, let out little mewling cries that Belisama said were sounds of happiness, and the little cub loved to snuggle, like she was doing now. Bucky realised he had to be content with what he had.

It didn’t take long before Odin and Belisama were lost in their music, the two little griffons swayed back and forth as both their music and their magic flowed from them, filling the night, driving away despair and pain. Barley and Luna both were lost in each other's eyes. As for Bucky, he was content to sip wine and hold Bandua, though he did feel guilty for missing yet another coronation. It seemed as though fate conspired against him.

 

 

The party on the balcony was interrupted by a large white alicorn touching down, a grey pegasus beside her. Both were well dressed, wearing formal gowns. The grey pegasus looked a little peeved, but said nothing.

Princess Celestia folded in her wings as the music ended. She looked around, meeting each eye in turn, until at last, she looked at her sister. The two alicorns, one white, the other blue, stood staring at one another.

Seeing pain on Luna’s face, Bucky braced himself and prepared to intervene if necessary. He didn’t want this night to end with a fight between the two sisters. He could see Luna’s brows furrowing and her nostrils were flaring.

“Once again, I was not invited,” Luna said in a cool voice.

When Barley was about to say something, Luna shushed him by placing a wing in front of his mouth and then she stepped forwards. “Dearest Buckminster here was considerate enough to throw me a gala. I dare say mine was better.”

There was a sad sigh from Princess Celestia and the tall white alicorn slumped, looking disappointed and sad. “This wasn’t how this night was supposed to turn out.” The alicorn mare shook her head and looked over at Bucky, then at Luna. “I am sorry, Luna, I am. Truly and sincerely.”

Odin set down his fiddle, picked up his glass, and gulped down the remainder of his wine. He glanced at Bucky, then Belisama, then returned his gaze to the two sisters. He let out a worried peep.

“You are not invited here… begone!” Luna commanded. The blue alicorn looked over at Derpy and her expression softened. “You are welcome to stay, however.”

Celestia took a step forwards. “Luna—”

“Begone! Away from my aerie!” Luna shouted.

“Sister, please, give me a chance!” Celestia’s ears folded back and the larger alicorn took on a submissive posture.

“Very well, have your say, but if I do not like your words, be aware that I will fling you from this balcony. See if I don’t!” Luna’s ears perked forwards and her wings flared out from her sides.

Celestia’s sides heaved as she drew in a deep breath. She remained submissive looking, her eyes downcast, and she let out a soft groan. “Dearest Sister,” Celestia began in a soft voice, “I detest the Grand Galloping Gala. I loathe it. I cannot stand it in the slightest. I dislike almost everything about it. I cannot stand most of the ponies who attend it. The only time I have ever truly enjoyed the gala was when Twilight Sparkle and her friends came along and wrecked the entire evening.”

Luna’s mouth fell open and she gave her sister a wide eyed stare.

“It was never my intention to hurt you… but it was my intention to tweak your snoot. I could not just come right out and tell you to come and wreck the gala… I could not tell you to crash the gala and bring an army of Myrmidons to come and cause mayhem… but it was my hope… my dream… I wanted so very much for you to be miffed enough that you would come swarming in and lay waste to the wretched, hateful event. This year, I had hopes that you and Buckminster would arrive… I had fantasies about it… the anarchy and the chaos that you two could do together… I wanted to hear the screams… I wanted to see the high society ponies panic just a little bit. I wanted to see them stressed out and worried and afraid.”

Barley, a gentlepony, reached over and closed Luna’s mouth, causing the blue alicorn’s teeth to click together. He cleared his throat, coughed, and then, with a heavy grunt, he poured himself a glass of wine from the cask.

“I had dreams of Bucky turning the ballroom floor into an ice skating rink. I invited Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich with the hopes of absolute mayhem this year. This was going to be the year… I was counting on it. I was so certain that Buckminster would talk you into it. I… this… this is not what I expected at all.”

“I did not come to wreck the gala because I want their trust so badly,” Luna said in a shrill, pained voice. Her ears pinned back against her skull. “I have made so many mistakes. I would rather suffer in silence than betray their trust… or yours.”

“I am so sorry, Luna.”

“I am too, Sister.”

“Might I join your party?” Celestia asked.

“Can you behave?” Luna replied. “So far, this has been a very quiet shindig.”

“I like the ponies at this party better,” was Celestia’s honest reply.

“Dance with me?” Luna asked, taking a step forwards. She set Barley down upon a large triangular cushion, gave him an apologetic smile, and then gave her sister an eager glance.

“I would be delighted.” Celestia stepped forwards and bowed her head. “Next year, you will get an invitation… I did not know… I’m so sorry—”

“We shall discuss this later.” Luna extended one wing and wiped her eyes. She looked at Odin and Belisama. “If we could have a little music, please…”

Lifting his bow and his fiddle, Odin made ready to give the sisters a song to remember.

 

 

 

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