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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The house was quiet. Perhaps too quiet. The house was perhaps far too quiet, and this, Barley reasoned, might be the reason why he felt unsettled. It had been a long, trying day, but like all trying days, it had come to an end. The long, troubling, difficult day had subsided into a quiet, maybe even boring, night.

A low fire burned in the grate, burning more for light and mood than for heat. The spring night was balmy and the front window was open to allow a little breeze in. (But also to let some of the stink out.) Beside Barley, a hot toddy steamed, filling the air with the thick, nose tickling scent of cloves and cinnamon.

Bucky was gone, having departed to rescue Ripple, whose ship was now engineless and without a means of motion. The little ones were all tucked into bed and slept the sound sleep of the innocent, with no sign of the dire tummy troubles which had plagued the house earlier. The somewhat larger little ones were also all in bed, save Sentinel, who was busy with a project and finishing it up at the dining room table. This project wasn’t for school, but was for Griffonwood and its future, a future that shone ever brighter with his budding friendship that he had with Gossamer.

Barley felt blessed. The house was full of life, he had more treasured nieces and nephews than he knew what to do with. During his long and interesting life, he had figured out what was important, what was valuable, and now, in his old age, he had his treasures. He was like a crass, foul mouthed dragon and his hoard. Touch not his treasures, lest you be burned.

His eyelids grew heavy as he sipped his toddy, and without knowing it, after he had set his drink down, Barley dozed off.

 

 

With a snort, he awoke and he felt something on his ear. As he came to wakefulness he felt it again, wind on his ear. He opened his eyes, grumbling, tickled awake, and he felt something blowing on his ear once more. Turning his head, he saw blue in the corner of his vision.

There was a soft, demure giggle as somepony blew on Barley’s ear yet again. Barley lifted his hot toddy, which was no longer quite as hot, an indicator that he had slept in his chair beside the fire for longer than he had thought. He took a drink as Luna kissed him on the cheek and after he had wet his whistle, he kissed Luna back.

She smacked her lips, licked them, and gave Barley a return kiss. As she pulled away she said, “Mmm, whiskey and honey.”

“Aye, I’m made of sweetness and fire and don’t you forget it.” Barley focused his squinty gaze upon Luna. “What brings ye here, young lass? Where is wee Erebus?”

“He is at home, with my sister and Tourmaline,” Luna replied as one ear twitched. She drew in a deep breath, her sides expanding, and took a step back from Barley. “I came here to be with you. I wanted to talk.”

“Aye, you wish to talk, eh?” Barley asked and then finished off the remains of his not so hot toddy. “And what shall we talk about, my pretty lass with the fine blue arse?”

Cheeks darkening, Luna began to titter. She sat down upon a sofa covered in stuffed toys, wooden blocks, and a My Little Pretty Princess Celestia doll with a ratty, clumped together and tangled mane. This is what passed for ‘ideal romantic conditions’ in this house now, and possibly forever.

Luna squirmed and pulled Celestia’s pointy horn from her backside. As she did so, Luna reflected upon the fact that Celestia was a pain in the plot, no matter which form she happened to be in. She set the doll down upon the table where Barley’s toddy had been sitting and swept the blocks over to the other side of the sofa with her magic.

“Well then, go on, talk, and I’ll listen,” Barley said to Luna as she cleared a few stuffed animals out of the way and arranged them into a neat, orderly pile.

“Marriage,” said Luna, getting right to the issue with one word.

“Aye, it has been discussed.” Barley settled into his chair and couldn’t help but notice how happy Luna looked. She was downright perky. Her eyes twinkled and her pelt was shiny. No doubt, she had probably brushed herself just before coming here to see him. As tired as he was, he figured he had better work up some enthusiasm, Luna deserved that from him.

“Ripple returns home triumphant, just as I knew she would, and no doubt, she will return and swear fealty to me. I thought that perhaps, when we have Ripple’s knighting ceremony, you and I could be hitched together in matrimonial bonds.”

Barley raised an eyebrow. “Now, Luna, I ain’t saying no, but I do wonder… why me? Why do this? Out of everypony that you could fall in love with, why me?”

“Why not you?” Luna returned, her own eyebrow rising.

“Lass, I get that you love me, but I’m old.” Barley let out a sigh and wondered if perhaps he should stay silent on this issue rather than risk hurting Luna. He loved her, he loved her more than words could say, which was why he had doubts about this being the right thing to do. “Sometimes, I dinnae understand why we do this. My time is short—”

“And every day grows a little shorter. Which is why we need to act now.” Luna’s bright eyes twinkled with confidence and happiness, paired in equal measure, she was a mare that could not be told ‘no.’ Her confidence made her beautiful, her happiness made her irresistible.

Barley felt his resolve weakening. He had long ago said yes, he had agreed, but the idea had always left him feeling a little unsettled. Now, that feeling was fleeing from him. He would give Luna what she craved. Whatever he had left was hers. His twilight years would be hers to treasure.

“Whene’er yer ready,” Barley said as he felt the warmth imparted by his hot toddy flowing through his veins. Or maybe it wasn’t the whiskey. Something about the look on Luna’s face warmed him, left a fire down deep in his bones. “Aye, pretty lass, it is time I took you upstairs to me bed so that I might randle-dandle you gently and sweetly.”

Luna’s eyes widened. “How could any mare resist such a romantic invitation?”

“Ach, many ‘ave, many ‘ave.” Barley rose from out of his chair, gave himself a shake, and twitched his tail. “Aye, when I get done with ye, me muzzle’ll look like a glazed donut.”

“Again, such sweet promises to mine ears.” Luna waggled her eyebrows, rose from the sofa, and stood beside Barley. “Do you wish to know the majesty of the night?”

“Aye, I hunger for yon secret places and dark mysteries and I plan to part those curtains and greet the darkness beyond.” Barley gave Luna a sly grin. “After you, ye old bat.” He waited, but when Luna did not budge, he did. He snorted, chuckled, and flicked Luna with his tail as he started moving.

“You rotten little colt… how dare you speak to your elder in such a fashion…” Luna began tittering as Barley took off, his knees popping and creaking. “I have half a mind to turn you young so that I might educate you on how to properly address your Mistress.”

“Aye, and while that might be fun, old me with just the right amount of whiskey dick can go all night. Choose wisely.” And with that, Barley rounded the corner and headed for the stairs.

 

 

Unable to sleep, unsettled, Sentinel lay in the dark staring up at the ceiling. He was having trouble being alone. After Sombra and the Hag, Sentinel found that he was having trouble sleeping. He thought of his father and how he hated to sleep alone. When his father went to sleep, he would grab a bedtime companion—one of Sentinel’s mothers or one of the little ones, and then he would head off to bed.

Boadicea was gone, off proving herself, and Sentinel found that he missed her something awful. A part of him wished that she was here, now, beside him, just so that he might go to sleep. He rolled over onto his side and tried to get comfortable. His bed, a soft, miraculous thing of the modern age, no longer felt comfortable. It felt cold… empty.

As Sentinel lay there, he thought about Sombra and the darkness in which Sombra’s fell shadow had taken refuge. He thought about Platinum, and the light she had brought, both physical and metaphorical. She had been a source of love and comfort for Sombra, right up to the end. Frustrated, Sentinel rolled over again and felt a strange pain in his face as he thought about the battle with the Hag. It wasn’t just pain, it was reliving the pain that he had felt, a memory that played out over and over again on a loop.

Trauma. It was something that Bucky was intimate with and knew on a first name basis, and Sentinel was just getting properly introduced to. Trauma, the visitor that never went away, the guest that would overstay its welcome, the jealous mistress that would be the unspoken nighttime companion that butted into every other relationship.

Trauma was a cruel, unrelenting mistress and she made her presence known by digging her claws into Sentinel’s face. She was a foul succubus that tried to suffocate him in his sleep. When Sentinel was alone, she came out of the dark and was his unwanted companion.

After tossing and turning for hours, Sentinel was sore, cranky, and wide awake. He lay in the darkness, sweating, his ears twitching as he was certain that he could hear sounds in the darkness, the gritty laughter of Sombra, the cackle of the Hag. There would be no rest this night.

His mane clung to his neck and his face and pelt were damp. His bedsheets had grown moist and his skin felt clammy. As Sentinel lay in a tangle of sheets and blankets, he made a decision. Enough was enough. He slipped out of his bed, landed upon the floor in near silence, made his way to his window, slipped into shadow, and streamed like smoke out into the dark, sacred night.

 

 

In the moonlight, Sweet Apple Acres was an inviting place. Fruit bats circled and screeched beneath the stars. Sentinel joined them for a time, flying loops and moving with the swarm, he flew until the stiffness left his body.

What he wanted was here. His nose found her scent with ease. She was his favourite prey and he was getting comfortable enough to admit that she was prey. He liked hunting her. He liked stalking her. There was no shame in his actions—she was, after all, a willing participant, consensual prey, and she wanted to be hunted.

In total silence, Sentinel landed on the roof and stood sniffing. He braced himself so he wouldn’t fall and filled his nose with all of the scents to be had on the breeze. The scent of mare musk filled the night; somepony had gone to bed happy and well loved. He caught a whiff of Apple Bloom and Babs, but they weren’t what he was after. He spread his wings and took to the air once more, suspended in a silent hover.

He found himself before a window and his prey was inside. He could smell her. Her scent was sweet, inviting, and something about it made his mouth water. He thought about burying his nose into her neck, into the creases were her legs connected to her body, he thought about running his muzzle along the tender, velveteen flesh of her stomach and feeling the pulse and throb of the vital organs just beneath the skin. He thought about how she would shiver, how she would shake, she would tell him no with her words but hold his head to her stomach with her hooves.

Peering through the window, he could see her. She was now staying with the Apples for a time, here to learn the value of hard work and honest living. She looked so sweet with her head on the pillow. She was a helpless creature of the day, oblivious to the dangers lurking in the night, the dangerous beast of shadow drooling just outside of her window.

Not that windows mattered to Sentinel anyway. He dove into shadow and slipped inside. He floated through the darkness, formless, shapeless, and when he was beside Diamond Tiara’s bed, he materialised, becoming solid.

He stood there for a moment, blinking, fearful, but also determined. He couldn’t stand being alone any longer. He needed sleep and the night made it difficult enough. He slipped into shadow again and drifted beneath Diamond Tiara’s heavy quilt. The fresh sheets smelled like soap and springtime. Beside the one he loved, he materialised again, beneath her quilt, and he cuddled up beside her.

So slick and stealthy were his movements that she remained oblivious to his actions. She was still sound asleep, her barrel rising and falling, and with a low moan, she cuddled closer to Sentinel in her slumbering state. He pressed his nose into her mane, inhaled, wrapped his foreleg over her barrel, pulled her as close as he could, and then, in seconds, Sentinel drifted off to sleep, no longer troubled.

 

 

 

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