Octavia winced as the door slammed in the wake of the retreating unicorn. She glanced over to the hospital bed as she suppressed a deep yawn. Sure enough, the unicorn resting in it was stirring slightly. She raised her hooves to rub at her eyelids before she looked around the room with a confused look on her face.
"Well... she's awake now," Octavia said loudly.
"Hi there, I'm Octavia. Sorry about that," she said in a soothing voice. She dropped from the chair to her hooves and walked over to the bed. Resonance's face seemed to be full of panic as she looked around rapidly, clearly not recognizing any of her surroundings. At the sound of Octavia's voice, though, she calmed down and slowly turned her face to look towards the earth pony. Octavia stopped her hoof halfway through the motion of reaching out to soothe the frantic pony. Instead, she put it to rest on the edge of the bed.
Resonance looked at her leg suspended above her and took a moment to stare at the cast. She then turned her head to look around curiously, taking in the room a little bit more slowly this time. A look of confusion spread across her face as she clearly attempted to figure out where she was. After looking all around the room and over at Octavia several times, her hooves reached up and touched at her neck with an air of curiosity as she poked at the soft padding wrapped around it. She tried to tilt her head down to look at it, but was limited in the action by the brace. After a moment she turned to look at Octavia again with a curious look on her face.
"Don't mess with that okay? Your neck isn't seriously hurt but the brace is there to keep you from hurting it worse," Octavia explained in a calm voice. "Just relax, everything is fine now. You're resting in the hospital." She reached out with her hoof to gently tug Resonance's hooves away from the brace then ran a hoof through the distraught pony's mane comfortingly.
"A-are you the one from the stairwell? I didn't get a good look at the mare, but you sound like her," Resonance asked hesitantly. Her eyes kept straying away from gazing directly into Octavia's eyes. "You're gentle like her too..."
"Yes that was me. I'm glad that you're okay," Octavia affirmed with a nod. "You scared me for a bit there."
"You didn't cry anymore, did you? I'm sorry to have troubled you, but you shouldn't have cried over someone as worthless as me..." Resonance said in a dejected tone. She attempted to roll away and curl her head inwards, but was largely unsuccessful due to the limitations of the hanging cast and brace. Instead, she satisfied herself with merely turning her head away from Octavia.
"What? Don't you dare say such things about yourself!" she nearly yelled at the poor unicorn before she calmed down. "You are not worthless. Don't you dare listen to a single word that monster of a unicorn says to you. She hired you because you're talented, remember that. She is not worth HALF of what you are," Octavia said fiercely as she glared at Resonance. She had both her hooves on the edge of the bed as she leaned forward her face glaring right into Resonance's and not allowing her to look away.
Resonance recoiled visibly and shut her eyes to block the fierce gaze. She took a few deep breaths and opened her eyes slowly. She hesitated then gave a weak nod of assent with a slight sniffle before she reached out to grasp Octavia's right forehoof. She tugged it gently and held it close to her chest with both of her hooves, then closed her eyes again for a moment, oblivious to the sudden change of expression on Octavia's face.
"You're right, I'm sorry. Just no more tears okay?" Resonance asked softly as she opened her eyes again to see Octavia slowly withdrawing her face. "They don't suit you.." she added quietly through a blush of increasing intensity. Resonance giggled at her own daring, and turned her face away as she could barely contain herself.
It took every ounce of Octavia's willpower to keep herself from yanking her hoof free and taking several large steps backwards. As it stood she was lucky Resonance's eyes were closed when she came to the stark realization of what was going on, it gave her a moment to compose herself. She restored her face to a passive look and closed her eyes as she gathered herself in an attempt to figure out how to escape. First step, she needed a way to get her hoof back.
"Okay, no more crying, I promise. Now I should go find a nurse and tell them that you're awake, okay?" Octavia had to try extremely hard to keep her tone friendly. She didn't want to sound like she was rejecting Resonance's attentions even as her entire mind was full of warning signals. Octavia yawned loudly again, as she attempted fight back the veil of sleep that was threatening to draw over her vision.
Resonance nodded and released the hoof after stroking it with hers one more time. Octavia tried her best to withdraw the appendage calmly and turned to walk out of the room. She tried to keep her steps even and calm as she was aware of the fact that the other mare's eyes were focused on her the entire way. As soon as she had her back turned, her face turned to one of panic as she swore inwardly at the turn of events. Sure she had acted rather tenderly, but she wasn't expecting that kind of a reaction.
She cleared her face of emotion once again, as she turned to shut the door gently. Sure enough, Resonance's head had turned so she could follow Octavia the entire way. As she stepped down the hallway miserably she went back to berating herself for her own behavior. Now that she thought back to the entire interaction between the two of them, both in the stairwell and in the hospital room, she couldn't really blame Resonance's reaction. She had been so focused on her hatred of Vinyl for doing such a horrible thing, that she hadn't thought to consider the implications of her own actions.
She swore some more in a muted whisper as she stalked down the hallway and pondered what the buck she was supposed to do now. Originally the plan was to hang around and intercept Vinyl before she could make another half-assed apology. That clearly wasn't an option anymore, though. Resonance would take Octavia's refusal to leave the unicorn's side the wrong way far too easily.
"Why can't anything be simple?" she sighed as she walked up to the nurse's desk and fought back another yawn.
Octavia's eyes slipped back into focus as she became aware that the doctor was still droning on and on to Resonance. She really didn't want to be here, but after bringing the doctor back she hadn't found a reason to excuse herself politely yet. She stifled a deep yawn with her front hoof as she tried to focus in on what the pony was saying but failed.
"Miss! I said you should go get some rest."
It took her a moment to come to her senses enough to look over and see that the last statement was directed at her. She tried to clear the exhaustion away with a shake of the head and turned her attention towards the doctor.
"I'm serious, my staff tell me you were here all night and you look like you're about to fall asleep on your hooves. Go home, she'll be fine. We don't want to have to admit you too, okay?"
Octavia gave a bleary nod and felt an immediate wave of gratitude towards the doctor for giving her a way out. She let out a relieved sigh and felt her body release a large amount of tension. She took a long slow breath and turned towards Resonance as she nervously made to wave goodbye with a hoof. She received smile in response and the unicorn waved a hoof towards the doorway pointedly.
"Good ni- morning I guess," she said through yet another deep yawn and started to trudge out of the hospital slowly. Despite what the doctor had said she couldn't afford to go home yet. As much as she wanted to sleep, so much that she didn't even mind the mattress waiting for her at home, she really couldn't. She had to make sure that Vinyl wasn't going to show up while she was asleep and wreak havoc with Resonance's emotions.
So for that reason, Octavia found herself trudging down the streets of Canterlot towards the studio. It didn't even occur to her that Vinyl might not be there until she was standing in front of the clean white building and staring down the record shaped door-handles. The fact that it had slipped her mind wasn't surprising given the fact that she couldn't even remember the walk to the studio. Her hooves had just carried her down the streets and she suddenly felt bad hoping she hadn't rudely caused anyone to have to sidestep out of the way. A flash of panic filled her mind as she realized that she was standing in front of the studio and didn't have her double bass. She shook her head to clear away the stupid thought and pushed the door open as she berated herself for her own silliness.
She walked through the entryway and actually stopped to consider asking the receptionist but passed the idea off quickly. The loud ding of the elevator doors startled Octavia to her sense as she struggled to even remember getting into the lift in the first place. She rubbed her eyes with her hooves a few time as she stood out in the doorway preparing to venture inside with another yawn. She gave the sides of her head a couple light smacks with her hooves for extra measure then pulled the door open.
A cursory glance around the entryway was all that was required for Octavia to find her mark. Vinyl was sprawled out across one of couches in the waiting area, laying on her side and snoring quietly. Her sunglasses were on top of a pile of magazines on the nearby table, and her head was resting on her foreleg as she lay there. Octavia debated on how mean she should be in waking the pony for a few moments before she walked forward and prodded Vinyl's forehead with a hoof.
"Viiinyl," she called out a little bit louder and nudged at Vinyl's head a few more times making it loll back and forth.
"Wake up, Scratch!" she yelled into the unicorn's ear loudly and stamped her legs on the floor. The response was immediate, Vinyl straightened out like somepony had sent a current of electricity through her body and fell to the floor in a jumble of limbs. After a few grumbled curses and quiet groans she finally straightened herself out and stood up slowly.
"What'd you do that for, Tavi?" she grumbled with the hint of a foalish whine mixed in. Vinyl rubbed her eyes with a forehoof slowly before she turned to Octavia looking a little sour.
"Well, you didn't respond to my nicer attempts. I'm not here to exchange pleasantries anyway, so you got the direct approach. I need to sleep, I'm dead on my hooves," she said through a stifled yawn before she shook her head and continued. "The problem is I can't risk you going to the hospital and upsetting Resonance with another half-assed apology gone wrong."
"W-what?" Vinyl asked with her eyes flying wide open. Her mouth hung open slightly as she stammered a few more times before finding her voice. "Are you still on about that? I meant everything that I said. Why can't you believe me just once?"
"It doesn't matter if you did, Scratch!" Octavia yelled back and let out an exhausted sigh.
"What? Don't you realize how hard it was for me to apologize like that?"
"It doesn't matter, Scratch... Just shut up and listen. I don't give two bits if you meant it or not, the problem was your apology wasn't a bucking apology. I still don't believe that you meant it, but that's not the issue here. If you had let me finish explaining before you stormed out like a little filly then you might already understand." Octavia sat down on her haunches in front of the couch and waited for Vinyl to acknowledge her before she continued. Finally after her mouth opened and shut a few times Vinyl sat back down on the couch and gave Octavia a curious look.
"Listen, if you really ARE sorry then you can't say what you did. If you aren't sorry then you need a better fake apology anyway because yours was shit. You can't just walk in and apologize for the fact that she got hurt and not be sorry for yelling at her. We've had this conversation already Scratch. How is it possible for somepony like you to be so stupid? Did you really think that she was going to like hearing what you said to her? Did you stop to think about how that kind of statement would make her feel?"
"I told yo-"
"I said shut up and listen! I'm not done talking yet," Octavia said fiercely as she cut across the quiet protest. "I don't care what you believe about Canterlot and this whole thing supposedly helping her. That is not how life works, Scratch! You can't just apologize for the consequences of your actions and not apologize for doing them in the first place. That is the most foalish thing I've heard in my entire life. Stop and think hard for a moment Scratch, you hinted that shit happened to you in Canterlot, was it a pony that did it to you?"
"Y-yeah... but I still don't want to talk about it," Vinyl said meekly as she shut her eyes and looked away from the fierce gaze being directed at her. She shivered visibly after a moment and shook her head wildly as Octavia fought back a body wrecking yawn and struggled to keep her eyes open. Octavia had to shake her own head to gather herself before she could continue.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever, now imagine the worst thing that anypony ever did to you. I don't care if it's that pony or not. Now imagine if you ran into them in the street tomorrow. You'd be upset yes? Now imagine that they stopped you and apologized for the fact that they made you feel bad. That's it. No apology for their actions, just that they made you react so poorly. Are you getting where I'm going with this Scratch?" Octavia persisted even though she had to fight through a yawn to say the last part. The edges of her vision were starting to melt away and she kept hearing her own words echoing back inside her head. She had to speak more slowly and deliberately to make sure she said what she meant to.
"Are you okay, Tavi?" Vinyl asked. The sudden halt in her fierce tone as it gave way to a powerful yawn caught Vinyl off-guard.
"I'm f-fine... Do you get what I'm saying here, Scratch? You didn't answer me, how bucking mad would you be if they did that to you? What would you do?"
"I-I'd... probabaly kick the crap out of him again."
"Exactly! Do you get what the problem is now, Scratch? If you're going to apologize, you need to bucking apologize. You can't half-ass this; I'm not going to let you do that to her. I may not have been able to stop what happened by yelling at you sooner, but I'll be damned if I'm not going to stop you from making this worse," Octavia said fiercely as a wave of adrenaline surged through her and gave her the energy to persist. She leaned her face in close to Vinyl's as she glared to make her point.
"I guess you're right..."
"Of course I'm right! Now here's what we're going to do: you're not going to the hospital to visit her unless I'm with you. You can pretend to apologize if you wish, but only if you make a good show of it and apologize for yelling at her. Now promise me that you won't go off and do anything stupid on your own."
"Y-yeah I promise..." Vinyl said shakily as she turned her gaze away from Octavia's, directing her red eyes away as they started to shimmer slightly. Vinyl shut her eyes and covered them with her hooves as she shook her head softly a few times.
"G-good... Now if you'll excuse me I need some bucking sleep," Octavia said through an even louder yawn that seemed to suck all the energy out her muscles. Without the sudden surge of adrenaline she was left feeling even more exhausted than before. She slowly stumbled to her hooves and shakily turned towards the doorway.
A strange sense of curiosity filled her mind as she noticed the edges of her vision going black. She wasn't really worried by the sensation, but instead it forced her to look even more curiously at what was left in the center. She stumbled towards the doorway as she heard Vinyl's muffled voice behind her but couldn't make out any of the words. They didn't matter anyway, she was too focused on the sound of her hooves echoing on the floor in front of her and walking towards the door. She walked right up to it and pushed it open with a hoof as a light buzzing sound filled her ears.
She only made it a few steps into the hallway before her legs buckled under her and she was surprised to not feel any pain as she fell to the floor. Instead it felt oddly soft, strangely comfortable in fact. She yawned one more time in a desperate attempt to pull herself back up to her hooves, but her eyes fluttered shut and refused to open again shortly afterwards.
Octavia let out quiet groan as the first thing she became aware of was the screaming pain in her muscles. The next thing she noticed as she opened her eyes was the strange swirl of colors in front of her. She couldn't make out what she was staring at, but it was fascinating. All other thoughts left her mind as she focused on the object in front of her and tried to figure out what it was. As she focused her gaze intently upon it she could see the object slowly start to sharpen as her eyes slipped back into focus. The entire process seemed to take ages, and her eyes eventually focused on a large white shape in the center of the swirl of colors.
She couldn't tell if it was a pony, but she was intrigued. She was oddly aware of how surreal this entire experience was, it was like knowing that she was dreaming and it jarred her slightly. She couldn't help herself though, it was fascinating, especially since it seemed to be taking ages for her eyes to normalize. After what seemed like a solid ten minutes her eyes finally focused enough to figure out what it was that she was staring at. Her eyes flicked across the nonsensical pattern of colors once again just to be sure and tilted her head slightly to the side causing another eruption of soreness from her muscles.
She groaned and reached a hoof up to rub her neck. More pain was all that greeted her, and she cursed herself for the dumb idea. The question was why had she been staring at a wall seemingly plastered with concert posters. They were layered over each other in a manner such that the title of the band or show wasn't always visible. In the center of the wall though was one giant poster with a white unicorn on it. Her purple sunglasses and two-toned, neon blue hair made it immediately apparent who it was, but Octavia's eyes kept wandering across the entire creation slowly. She couldn't quite figure out what the purpose of having such a gigantic collage on a bedroom wall was.
Octavia's mind stopped and spun in place as her thoughts honed in on that word. Bedroom... She was suddenly shocked to her senses as she looked around fervently to confirm it. She was tucked into a bed she couldn't remember having seen before. A moment of horror filled her, but she was alone and the pillows next to her seemed undisturbed. She turned her head around to look around the room again curiously, this time taking in the finer details. There were a few random mechanical parts piled on top of the dresser. A few records both in and out of their protective sleeves were scattered around the room randomly, as well. She was clearly in Vinyl's room, but she couldn't figure out why.
As Octavia thought about it, she slowly became aware of the fact that she had collapsed in the hallway after trying to storm out of the studio. That didn't explain why there was no sign of Vinyl though. The answer to that question came shortly afterwards when she heard a soft snore from below her. She leaned over towards the edge of the bed ignoring the sore muscles protesting all over her body she looked down at the floor next to her.
The carpet looked soft and plush, and resting on top of it was the curled up form of the white unicorn she'd just finished yelling at. Vinyl once again was resting her head on her forelegs and was curled up in the closest approximation of a ball that her pony body would allow. Every few soft slow breaths, a quiet snore passed from the unicorn's lips, and her mouth lolled open as she slept.
Octavia stared at the pony in disbelief. Had she really been so exhausted that Vinyl was able to carry her off somewhere and tuck her into bed without being woken up? Then to top it off, Vinyl had fallen asleep next to the bed instead of going to sleep on the couch, like she already knew Vinyl was capable of. It didn't make any sense to Octavia, the thought that Vinyl was trying to score bonus points with her flashed through her mind. She tossed the idea around and that was all that made sense. Vinyl was clearly just trying to make her feel grateful for a minor act of kindness.
Even as she became more convinced of Vinyl's intentions, she couldn't stop the small smile that crept into the corners of her mouth. As she watched Vinyl roll over and reposition herself on the ground she couldn't help but notice the light shakes of the tail, her rear legs twitching slightly every now and then, and a hoof that reached up to scratch the side of her muzzle tiredly. The way the unicorn slept, and left her mouth lolling open as she snored quietly, reminded Octavia strongly of a young foal.
She was shocked that such a horrible pony could do something so intrinsically cute, and hung her mouth open in disbelief. Her body took this opportunity to force another loud yawn from her throat, and she groaned softly as she was forcibly reminded that she was still exhausted. After another short struggle, she gave in and decided to deal with all the questions later as she put her head back to rest on the soft pillows and allowed her body to carry her back off to sleep.