Vinyl angrily and somewhat drunkenly staggered back to her apartment building. The whole way home, she was cursing Record Book and that mare outside the club. I'm so bucked if she fines me or anything. Oh Celestia, what if Book sues me for punchin' him? I need to get away from all this bull. She thought to herself as her hooves clopped on the rough pavement. Pushing the depressing thoughts from her head, she began to hum the Deadhaur5 she had begun playing for those idiots back at the party. The thought of the songs only brought up the thought of her payment, which she never received. She figured she could lie her way out of paying the rent for a little longer.
It helped to have the kind-hearted Derpy as a landlord. Unfortunately, her coltfriend, Doctor Whooves, was not so easy to foal. They were all friends, but Vinyl's rent was long overdue and she felt bad lying to them both every week. Sure enough, when she got to her apartment, she found the Doctor standing casually outside her door. She had completely forgotten that she had gone out of her way to make sure that Derpy knew she had a gig that night. Swearing under her breath, the white unicorn trotted up to her friend.
"What's up, Doc?" She asked nonchalantly. The Doctor just looked her with a hopeful twinkle in his eye and a great big smile on his face.
"There you are! How'd it go? They loved ya, right?" It was clear he was just being friendly, hoping to eventually get around to the topic of her rent. Vinyl was past exhausted and teetering on the edge of sober.
"Not good, colt, not good at all. Things got a little out of hoof and they didn't pay me. Plus, I think I need somepony new to help me schedule my gigs," she confessed. The Doctor's face fell as he realized the conversation wouldn't be nearly as friendly as he had hoped.
"Scratch, you can't keep this up. You know the fillies and I love you, but we can't keep letting you live here for free. Between my on and off work, Dinky's school payments, and the cost of repairing the things Derpy breaks, we just don't have the bits to let the rent go unpaid," the brown colt explained. "Things are bad, Scratch. . . Sure, life is great living with the fillies, but we just can't keep afloat like this. . . I'm afraid that I might have to go back to working my old job, and then I won't be around to see Dinky grow up." His words hit Vinyl like a runaway cart. Not only were her mistakes making her look the foal, but she was hurting her friend's by freeloading.
"Doc, I promise I'll have the payment as soon as possible. I'm never gonna be late on rent again, I swear. Please, I just need a rest and I'll go sort all this out tomorrow," Vinyl begged. The Doctor looked her over slowly. He noticed that there were visible bags under her glasses, which told him that she probably hadn't slept in days. He nodded solemnly, stepping away from her door. As she unlocked it and opened it, he noticed a single pizza box on the table. It didn't take a genius to figure out that that single pizza had been Vinyl's food for the whole week.
A sadness touched his heart at the thought that his friend was going without proper meals to pay her rent. The faint smell of cigarettes and possibly other substances normally would have made question her right then, but he knew she'd had a tough time. When he began to turn away, she stopped and looked back at him. "Hay, Doc, know a mare with a grey coat, black mane, lavender eyes? Bit of a bitch?"
The Doctor pondered it for a second, thinking of everypony he knew. Taking a chance, he asked, "A tad uptight? Seems like she likes everything just so?" Vinyl nodded quickly, confirming his guess. "Octavia. Lives over by the club you just came from, actually. 'Bout two blocks down the street," he told her.
"Thanks, dude. I have to go have a little chat with her tomorrow. Catch ya later," Vinyl said as she closed the door. Inside her apartment, things were in their usual state of disrepair. A single torn and beaten leather couch sat against one wall across the room from a small television and disproportionally large speakers. In front of the couch sat the only table in the whole apartment, on which an old pizza box rested. When Vinyl opened the box, she found her last half a slice waiting for her. She craved more, but she knew that was the only food she owned. Savoring every bite, she dragged herself to her box-spring mattress.
The bed was incredibly uncomfortable, which led to many sleepless nights, but Vinyl was too tired to care. When she lay on the bed, the busted springs did anything but support her weight, causing her to sink in. Oh, how she wanted to grab her guitar and wail out a new song about how terrible ponies are. Unfortunately, she had sold her guitar months ago to pay rent and keep herself from starving. It had been a nice guitar, so the sale had given her enough bits to enjoy two pizzas that week. After finishing her pizza, Vinyl buried her face in an uncomfortable pillow. She had a long day tomorrow, so she might as well sleep now. In moments, her exhaustion caught up to her and she was in a deep slumber.
Late morning sun broke through Vinyl's curtains, hitting her straight in the face. She slowly pulled her head from the bed, which was forming a fissure with which to swallow her. She could feel her mane sticking straight out on one side, but managed to fix it into her normal DJ chic style with a few tosses. Her stomach grumbled for breakfast, of which she had none. Instead, she took a drink or two from her flask, hoping the warm alcohol would improve her hunger as well as her attitude. Grabbing her music player and backpack, she exited the apartment.
She headed out the front of the building in the direction of the club. Just go up, tell Book you're sorry, and get whatever pay you can. Simple as that. Yeah, right. Since when has dealing with Book ever been simple? The white unicorn thought to herself as she trotted toward her fate. Of all the times she had argued over payment with Book, she had never come away with as much as she had hoped for. When she arrived at the club, she took another drink from the flask in an attempt to reinforce her confidence. As soon as she walked through the door, she spotted a grim-looking Record Book sweeping the floor.
Without even looking at her, he said, "Y'know, you really need to work on your aim."
Confusedly, Vinyl spoke up, asking, "What do you mean?"
Book looked up from his work. His nose was wrapped in gauze and both his eyes were heavily bruised. Vinyl caught her breath at the sight. Book just chuckled darkly and went back to sweeping. "Broke my buckin' muzzle, you did. But I know you. You were aimin' to give me a black eye."
Suddenly defensive of her fighting prowess, Vinyl stood taller and told him, "Give me a break, I could sock you any time I want. I just had a little than my fair share, if you know what I mean." Record Book just laughed his deep laugh and nodded.
"I sure as hay know what ya mean, Scratch. Now, you didn't just come back to apologize," he said, bringing her back to reality.
"Well, I know I bucked up last night, but I need to get paid. Bad. Thing's ain't too great right now, Bookie. Any chance I can get even fifty percent of what they were offering?" Book just chuckled again and shook his head. Vinyl's hopes were dashed.
"Got lucky this time, Scratch. Turns out the filly whose birthday it was loved the show. The end the most," he said, grinning at her now. Two and two weren't adding up in Vinyl's head. Record Book continued. "Course, she'll tell her friend's they didn't pay ya, but that's the way fillies are nowadays. Anyway, they paid double and told me to tell you their daughter will always hire you before anypony else." Vinyl's head was reeling. Double! I got paid double for a bust?! BUCK YEAH! On the outside, Vinyl was jumping for joy, her shouts of glee echoing through the large room.
"I suppose I can forgive ya for bustin' my nose up considering you getting paid double means I get paid double commission, too." He tossed her a check, which she grabbed with greed. After a quick hug, Vinyl ran to the door, stopping just before leaving.
"Hay Book, know anypony named Octavia?"
"Octavia? Sure do. Great musician, not exactly my tastes, but she works magic with a cello. 'Specially considerin' she's an earth pony. Why do you ask?" Record Book answered.
Vinyl shrugged and said, "Noise complaint. Making a personal apology. Any idea where she lives?"
"You? Apology?" Book rolled over the floor, his booming laughter bouncing off all the surfaces of the empty room. After about another minute of laughing, he wiped the tears from his eyes. "That's rich, Scratch. Yeah, she lives one street over. Take a right out of here, head to the first intersection, then turn right. Third house on the right side of the street. Take care," he told her as she walked out the door. As she walked away, she was sure she heard him say something about apologizing again.
He keeps it up, I'll have to re-break his buckin' nose. Vinyl thought to herself, instantly regretting it. She still felt guilt for punching Book in the nose, even if he was a bit of a tool. Oh well. He got paid, I got paid, everypony's happy. She thought as she rounded the corner. Soon enough, Vinyl was standing on the steps up to Octavia's condo. It looked immaculate; every brick looked as though it had been hoof-cleaned. Without so much as a knock, Vinyl barged into the house. She had to admit, she never was one for manners. Everypony got all stuffy when they minded their manners, and she hated that.
The first thing Vinyl noticed once inside that the inside of the condo was very lavish. Decorative moldings on the walls, framed pictures, and polished floors. The second thing she noticed was a faint music playing. It sounded rough and kind of jumpy, something she would listen to. As she slowly crept through the home, she found Octavia sitting peacefully in a white chair in front of the stereo. Her eyes were closed as she absorbed the music. The third thing Vinyl noticed was that the music playing was familiar. Too familiar, to be exact. . .
"You're a DJ PON-3 fan?" Vinyl inquired, cocking an eyebrow. She could have sworn Octavia's head left a small dent on the low ceiling when she jumped in shock. The grey mare quickly switched off the stereo and blushed, staring daggers at Vinyl.
"For your information, I find her style to be quite enchanting compared to the drivel you play," Octavia replied. It was intended to be an insult, but Vinyl was too busy basking in her own victory. This pony had no idea who DJ PON-3 really was, which she found hilarious. Unfortunately, nopony knew who PON-3 really was. Aside from PON-3 herself, who just happened to be standing in Octavia's condominium. Nodding, Vinyl laughed slightly.
"Yes, I have to say, she's pretty darn talented. I quite like her stuff myself," Vinyl said while attempting not to laugh.
Octavia just glared at her a little while longer before saying anything. "What in Equestria are you doing here anyway? I don't remember sending for a Charlatan-O-Gram." The comment made Vinyl laugh audibly.
"I decided to take the high road for once. I came here to apologize for disturbing your sleep last night," Vinyl explained, causing Octavia to raise her eyebrows in surprise.-
"Oh really? Well then, let's hear it."
Vinyl groaned. "Miss. . . Octavia, I am sorry for waking you last night. Perhaps I WAS playing my music a bit too loud, and, for that, I apologize," Vinyl said while attempting to hide her contempt. Octavia just smiled and nodded slowly.
"Come now, that was not so difficult was it? Now, I believe you owe me one hour of your time as well," Octavia said. Vinyl quickly shook her head.
"Nuh-uh, you said you just wanted me to apologize. I ain't stickin' around this place any longer than I have to."
Octavia gestured to the front door in the other room. "You barge into my home, nearly scared me out of my coat, and will not even give me an hour of your time? Surely even you have some form of manners, Miss. . . I'm sorry, I don't remember your name," she said, raising an eyebrow again. She actually did remember Vinyl's name, but chose just to push the unicorn's buttons.
"Vinyl Scratch, DJ extraordinaire, at your service, madam," Vinyl said, her voice dripping with venom. Octavia smile as Vinyl gave in.
"Well then, Miss Vinyl Scratch, please take a seat. I have a bit of a presentation for you to enjoy." As Vinyl sat down in a nearby chair, Octavia grabbed her cello from it's case. Vinyl sat in silence as the earth pony began gliding the bow gracefully across the strings of the large instrument. On the outside, Vinyl played it off as though the music was horrid. On the inside, she wanted to sit on the edge of her seat. The sound of Octavia's playing was majestic and peaceful. Behind her purple shades, Vinyl closed her eyes as to absorb the feel of the music better. Before she knew it, the music ceased. Upon opening her eyes, she found Octavia standing there with the cello expectantly.
For a moment, Vinyl was aware of just of beautiful Octavia looked. A gently afternoon light shone through the window in the back of the room, reflecting a glorious glow across the mare's body. She had a few drips of sweat rolling down her forehead and her large lavender eyes looked as enchanting as ever. Wow, she's like. . . Stop in, Vinyl! She's a snob, remember? The thought shook Vinyl back to reality. "That was. . . Alright, I guess. That all?" Vinyl lied. In truth, she didn't want to leave the seat. She just wanted to listen to more of Octavia's beautiful music.
Octavia simply nodded as she told her, "I lost track of time a bit, I'm afraid. Turns out we have been here for more around two hours than one. I apologize for holding you up." As hard as Vinyl tried, she just couldn't pull herself to resent Octavia's refined ways any more.
"Nah, it's cool, I guess. What was the point of that exactly?" Vinyl asked, truly curious.
"Well, if I am to be forced to listen to your music, you should have to listen to my own music. It seemed like a fair trade to me," Octavia explained. It actually did make sense to Vinyl. She rose from her seat slowly. She had a check to cash and rent to pay, so she'd have to make her exit.
"As much fun as this has been, Tavi, I gotta jet. Music to make, ponies to see, all that. It's been real," she called as she bolted out the door. As much as she wanted to stay in that room with Octavia, she knew it wasn't healthy for her to. Dumb mare and her dumb cello. Dumb condo, dumb mane, dumb gorgeous eyes. . . Those eyes. . . Vinyl didn't even notice as she stumbled off the curb and right into the street. This wasn't exactly a busy part of town, so there wasn't often much to watch out for. Unfortunately for Vinyl, a cart had rolled onto the mane street. It also happened to be uphill from Vinyl, causing it to build considerable speed before making contact. Thankfully, the cart was filled with vegetable and not bricks, but the impact was great, still.
Vinyl was in intense pain that began to dull as the world around her began to darken. The corners of her vision started to blacken, telling her she didn't have much time before blacking out. The last thing she heard and saw before everything went black was a shimmering black mane, an aromatic grey coat, and panicked shouts calling out, "Somepony call a doctor, she's hurt! Don't just stand there, this mare is hurt!" The last thing she felt was the same pony gently soothing her, brushing her mane with a hoof and holding her head off the hard pavement.