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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Moving with an extra bounce in her step, Thistle trotted over to where a group of ponies had gathered around a strange flying contraption that she couldn’t remember the name of. Bucky was laughing while talking to both Applejack and Twilight. Twilight was giggling, and Applejack had a wide grin that could be seen a mile away. A country mile, even.

“—and so Princess Celestia comes out of the castle and goodness, she is angry!” Twilight’s wings fluttered at her sides while she spoke and her ears twitched with eager energy. “I still don’t know how Bucky made it rain lemon curd—”

“Lemon curd!” Harper shouted.

“Yeah, lemon curd.” Scootaloo leaned her head down and sniffed her foreleg. She gave herself a lick, then nodded. “Lemon curd.”

“Hey, Scoots, you had the bright idea to fly through it, hoping that the guard wouldn’t follow you.” Bucky lowered his head down and his eyes narrowed as his grin widened. “You did good… real good.”

Thistle was intercepted by Sukari, who hurried over and then clung to Thistle’s leg, slowing the kelpie down. The little striped filly seemed upset, something was bothering her, and Thistle wondered what had happened.

“I’m heading home… I need a hot bath, ‘cause I’m covered in lemon curd.” Twilight glanced at Bucky, a bold impish grin on her face, and she added, “We need to do that again sometime, Bucky. It was great fun, taunting the old mare up on the hill.”

“It was indeed.” Bucky nodded, his grin vanished, and he looked very solemn and serious. “Where did Piña go? She was just here?”

“She went off, lookin’ for Larch,” Applejack replied.

A smile once again graced Bucky’s muzzle. “Goodbye, Twilight. See you later, Scootaloo.”

Thistle waved and watched them go as Sukari clung to her foreleg. She noticed that Applejack was watching as Twilight departed as well. Harper was bouncing around in the grass, no doubt hopped up on sugar, and static electricity crackled through her curly mane. Spanner and Lugnut were giving the flying contraption a once over, checking over everything, making certain that nothing had broke.

There was a loud screech, followed by a squawk, and when Thistle whirled around, almost dislodging Sukari as she did so, she saw Boadicea flying as fast as her wings could flap and Lugus streaking along after her. The little griffoness was laughing, and Lugus looked extra sparkly… he was covered in glitter.

Far behind them, Peekaboo half flew, half ran, her wings buzzing and her little legs pumping as she struggled to keep up. Seeing her erstwhile playmate, Harper took off with a shout. A moment later, Yew Wood appeared, also covered in glitter.

“Get her, Lugus!” Yew commanded.

Boadicea zigzagged, trying to evade Lugus, and she let out a defiant crow. Thistle giggled, unable to help herself, and she felt Bucky brush up against her side. She glanced over at him for a moment, and then returned to watching the spectacle. She could only guess what had happened, but she knew it involved glitter.

“Say, Thistle…”

“What?” Thistle sensed trouble, Bucky was whispering.

“What would you get if you sat down in a pile of glitter?”

Thistle considered Bucky’s words, wondering what he was getting at. Her tail swished from side to side and she could hear Applejack laughing. She looked over at Bucky and said, “I dunno, Bucky, tell me.”

“A glittoris—”

“Bucky!” Thistle bared her teeth at her husband. “Little ears!”

“She didn’t hear me,” Bucky said in a defensive voice.

“Glittoris.” Sukari tilted her head and looked up at Bucky while Applejack snickered.

“Bucky, you fiend!” Thistle bit her lip, mindful of her needle sharp teeth, and tried not to laugh. “Bad! Bad pony! For shame!”

“I don’t have to take this.” Bucky let out a haughty sniff, a mischievous smile was still plastered upon his muzzle, and ignoring Thistle, he pried Sukari off of Thistle’s leg. “Come here, Sukari. Let me brushy brushy you and tell you all about how I covered Canterlot in lemon curd.”

“And go look after Cadance while you are at it,” Thistle said as Bucky walked away, leading Sukari along. “She’s sulky right now because she didn’t get to go anywhere.” The kelpie found herself wishing that Bucky was still at her side, touching her. For a moment, her mind wandered, and she thought about the long, lonesome days in the loch. The painful days. Her smile faltered for a moment, one ear twitched, but then she recovered. Her smile returned as she thought of her family, of Bell Heather, of Sukari, and of those she loved.

“It’s far too excitin’ on this here farm… I dunno how y’all get anything done…”

 

 

“We need to get another game going,” Piña said to Larch, who was sitting in the grass beside her. She looked over at her companion and found that he was staring at her, his eyes wide, his ears erect, and he had a dopey grin on his face. Colts.

He sat there, not saying anything, and Piña pondered this strange new power that she seemed to have over her friend. There was quite a ruckus in the background, but she tuned that out with little effort. Larch had this strange, stupid-happy look on his face, and it left Piña mystified. She found that she liked seeing him happy.

“I think I failed my saving throw versus romance—”

“Larch, you’re a nerd.” Piña began giggling and no matter what she did, she couldn’t hold it back. It bubbled forth like springwater and it made her feel good. “What has gotten into you, Larch?”

“I keep staring at your mouth… it’s amazing. I keep watching you talk and the way your lips move… I like it.”

Piña felt her pinkness intensify. A warm blush spread over her face, down her neck, and through her barrel. She turned away from Larch, no longer able to look at him, and now her giggles were nervous ones.

“I like hearing you talk,” Larch admitted. “Babs too.” The colt blinked a few times. “We really should get together for a big gaming session. Maybe we can get Lyra to play with us. I like Lyra. She’s nice.”

“Yeah, she is.” Piña nodded and tried to ignore the fact that her heart was pounding in her chest. There was also a lot of screaming and squawking going on. She didn’t know what it was, but she wished that it would stop—it was threatening to ruin what she thought was a perfect moment. Somepony or somebirdy was shouting about glitter bombs.

Feeling equal parts bravery and terror, Piña leaned over, puckered up, and kissed Larch on the cheek, catching him right on the corner of his mouth. She felt him stiffen and as she pulled away, she saw his face growing dark.

“Thank you for making me feel pretty,” Piña said.

 

 

Cadance sat on the window bench in her most regal pose, looking as though she was holding court. The kitchen was a busy place, but she stayed out of the way and out from underhoof. She sat, radiating love, and Crisis, who sat on the floor, was basking in it. The little pink filly marvelled at the strange power she held over her sibling.

As Cadance radiated love, Crisis’ pelt undulated and rippled, changing colours, a whole riotous rainbow spectrum of colours. It was like invisible raindrops landing in the water, a dot of colour would appear upon Crisis’ pelt, and then that colour would go rippling out, colliding with other rippling colours, and those colours would meld together. Blues and yellows would become green. Reds and blues would become purples. Yellows and reds would become vibrant shades of dazzling orange.

And Cadance could turn the dizzying display on and off by radiating love.

The grown ups were over at the kitchen table, trying to get something done, and Cadance hoped that she wasn’t being a distraction. She could hear them talking, they spoke of love, they kept saying the word ‘wedding’ and Cadance loved the word wedding. She liked having her stuffies get married. Love was a natural state of affairs for Cadance.

There was a clunk of a teacup and the metallic clatter of a spoon. Cadance’s ears perked and her head turned. A foal she might be, but she was still a regal, majestic creature, and the sun shining through the kitchen window caused her to cast a long, noble shadow over the floor.

“I’m not worried about getting married… I don’t really care about that… but I am worried about reaching Larch. I don’t know how to get through to him. I don’t know how to make him understand that I care and that I want him to be happy.”

Cadance’s ears swiveled. She could feel frustrated love. Somepony had a lot of love to give, but they didn’t feel loved back. It was a special pain all of its own and as Cadance thought about it, her mind trying to process the complexities of such complicated thoughts, she thought about Crisis. Crisis just wanted to be loved. She needed it to survive, to be healthy and happy. It shouldn’t matter that Crisis was a bug.

“Give him time.” There was a pause and there was more clinking as a spoon stirred within a teacup. “He’ll come around. He’s a colt and he’s at that age when colts are standoffishy.”

The front door opened and Cadance’s head turned. She waited, her ears quivering, hoping to hear the sound of her father’s voice. Her ears twitched at the sound of hooves—and the scratching of claws.

“I need food ‘fore I wither up and die!”

Cadance bounced off of the wooden bench and landed beside Crisis. Together, both foals took off, scrambling over the smooth kitchen floor, both trying to head for the front door, both of them wanting to see their father.

“Making it rain lemon curd all over Canterlot is exhausting work… it takes a lot out of a pony!”

 

 

Sitting in his chair, Barley O’Blivion was all too aware of all the fuss going on, and it was all for him. He felt a little guilty—Berry was one busy mother—but he supposed it couldn’t be helped. Even a small ceremony took work and effort—but work and effort took a mother away from her wee bairns.

“Aye, wee Pinchy, I’m a shite,” Barley said with a somewhat drunken slur to the foal he cradled in his forelegs. “E’en worse, I’m an auld shite, I am, ye wee nipper. Ye ain’t bit me pegs in a while, but you left some marks, so I’ll not soon forget.”

The little pink unicorn, who was rocked by her uncle, let out a thunderous belch that made the glass figurines on the mantle rattle. The elder unicorn smiled, nodding his head, and his iron grey forelock spilled down onto his face.

“Ach, crivens, yer frogsong is a wee too much liken yer ol’ mither.” Barley waxed maudlin, his old long face becoming sad. “I wish I knew what ta tell ye, wee Pinchy, but yer mither, she was a right shite as well, with a right sodden, rotten crotch. Aye, this family, I tells ya, we’re a collection of right shites… real gits… lunatics, alcoholics, madponies, ravers, and rabble rousers.” The old stallion drew in a deep breath. “Yer old mither, she done wronged ye, ye wee nipper of other ponies’ pegs. A part of me still loves her, but I cannae forgive her for what she’s done ta ye. We’re supposed to be better than that, but it seems we ain’t. Moonshiner’s Haint… it haints me and makes me old bones feel rotten.”

A single tear that reeked of whiskey rolled down Barley’s cheek.

He bounced the foal he held in his forelegs, cradled against his barrel, and he kicked out his old, creaky hind legs. He lifted the snifter sitting beside his chair to his lips, tilted his head back, and emptied it in one gulp. He sucked in a deep breath, wheezing, and gritted his teeth as the pale amber liquid burned him, searing his throat.

“Ach, crivens, it tastes of auld fishy crotches, bitumen, iodine, and tannin. It shouldae stayed in the barrel for a while longer.” He shuddered, squeezed his eyes shut, belched, and then opened his eyes so he could look down at his niece, who let out a cooing sound. His eyes watered, whether from his tears or the auld fishy crotches flavoured whiskey, it was impossible to tell. “I shouldae done more… I should have been there for you… and for wee Piña too… I went away and left Berry and I shouldae stayed… I shouldae done what I preached, ye see. I complain about how this family was, but I… I ain’t no better. I went off and left.”

“But you came back.”

Barley looked up and saw Berry standing in the archway. He belched, shuddered from the taste, and another whiskey scented tear rolled down his cheek. His other cheek this time. He blinked his red, bloodshot eyes, and focused on his other beloved niece.

“You got a little loud,” Berry said in a Berry patient voice. “We could hear you in the kitchen.” The plum coloured mare took a few steps into the living room, her curly mane bouncing. “You came back, right when I needed you. When we all needed you. Barley, let’s face it, our family isn’t what you would call sane. We all deal with life in our own way. Now, the best of us have settled down.”

“Aye, we has.” Barley nodded.

“And we have a chance to do better.”

“Aye, we do.” Barley nodded again.

“If you keep drinking and talking to Berry Pinch, she’s gonna end up talking funny.” Berry Punch’s eyebrows furrowed. “Nopony will ever understand a word she has to say.”

“Would it be so bad?” Barley grinned, revealing somewhat worn down teeth. A long life lived with hard grains showed in his smile.

“Nae, ‘twouldn’t be so bad, ye auld bowfer.” Berry blinked and crossed the room. She stood near Barley’s chair, looking fondly upon her old uncle.

“I dinnae stink!” Barley squinted one eye at his niece.

“Ye auld fart, ye gots a reek that could be set ablaze with a match!”

Both Berry and Barley laughed. Berry’s barrel hitched as she chuckled and Barley leaned back in his chair, relaxing a bit. Berry Pinch, shaken by the old pony’s laughter, let out another thunderous, resonating, gurgling belch that once more made the glass figurines on top of the mantle rattle.

Right away, she began to cry.

“Aye, I think she’s empty,” Barley said to Berry. “‘Twas the only thing making her feel full, the gas.”

Nodding, Berry sat back on her haunches, reached out, and pulled Berry Pinch from Barley’s embrace. She held the foal for a moment, buried her nose into the unicorn’s filly’s mane, and inhaled her scent. Berry then almost sneezed, because Berry Pinch smelled like Barley, who reeked of whiskey.

“I’m glad I came back…”

 

 

 

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