‘Oh Celestia, how did this happen?’ you think to yourself.
You take some deep breaths to try and calm yourself down as you look around the room to get a better idea of the situation. ‘Okay, there’s a desk with a white phone on it, a cabinet over there, a closet, a nightstand next to the bed with a lamp.’ You look up to the dull, off-white ceiling then down to the deep blue carpet. ‘Some ugly generic leaf wallpaper all over the place as well. Okay, so this is probably a hotel room.’
Your head is spinning. You feel like you are going to be sick if you are upright for any longer. For a moment, you think it wouldn’t be wise to lay back down next to the cello player who’s friendship you may have just ruined, but if you didn’t do it while you could still guide yourself carefully, you may just fall right over.
Lying your head back down on the pillow, you notice Octavia’s hoof still lying across your stomach. Looking over, you see her peaceful sleeping expression; a lone strand of her mane out of place, lying across her face. Taking a hoof, you carefully brush it back into line, eliciting a small sigh from her lips. Turning your body towards her, you let your hoof rest on her shoulder.
Your body, throughout its pain and dizziness, urges you strongly to go back to sleep. You feel yourself sinking down into the sheets atop the soft mattress. And Octavia’s fur brushing against you felt so warm...
“Mmm...” you hear suddenly. “Mm... mmuh?”
It was Octavia. She was waking up.
The re-instilled panic pushes back the need to sleep. However, you quickly close your eyes and pretend to be asleep anyway. Unable to see, you hear the beginning of a yawn before a strong exhaling through her nose along with a faint blow of air against your chest.
For a moment, there is silence.
And then a gasp.
More time passes before you feel a shifting weight on the bed as Octavia sits up, carefully putting your hoof down on the sheets as she does so. After a couple seconds, you risk peeking an eye open just a bit to see what she’s doing. She’s hunched over with her face in her hooves. She sighs before dropping her hooves and looking to the ceiling. She begins turning back to you, so you quickly close your eye again.
‘Please, just go,’ you silently plead. ‘Go and let’s just never speak of this. We can still be friends and forget this ever happened.’ You don’t know what you’d do if you lost Octavia’s friendship because of this.
There’s another moment where you can’t hear or feel anything happening. The weight in the mattress says that Octavia is still there. You don’t know what she’s waiting for.
‘Just go...’ you plead to her again.
Before it becomes too much, you feel another shift in weight on the bed. You fight yourself to sigh with relief that Octavia is finally getting up and maybe you could put this mess behind you. Go back to the way things were, except maybe with a little less wine next time.
However, it’s not as you expect. The weight of her body seems to be laying back down next to you. Her warmth returns as she puts a hoof around your back. You feel her muzzle rub softly against your chest. She snuggles up against you again, holding you closer than she had before.
“I’m sorry...” you hear her whisper.
You couldn’t believe it. Why? Why would she do this? Maybe she wanted you to get up and leave? But then, why couldn’t she have...
You slowly open your eyes as you feel the calm breathing of the cello player against you. This was like something right out of your wildest dreams. Was this just a dream? The throbbing in your head returns, putting a dent in that theory. Did she...? Could she...?
Tilting your head somewhat, you try to look down at the mare... only to have her eyes look up and stare directly at you.
You both push each other away, leaving the bed from opposite sides. Well, she leaves while you just sort of fall off, hitting your already aching head on the ground. The pain becomes that of which you can hear a ringing in your ears before you are finally able to stand up again, albeit needing to lean yourself against the mattress.
“What is going on!?” you hear Octavia shout, much to your displeasure. “What happened!?”
“I don’t know!” you yell back, instantly regretting making more loud noises. You bring a hoof back to your head, trying to control the throbbing that felt like something was about to burst through your temple.
Clenching one eye shut along with your teeth, you see Octavia’s angry expression soften a little bit. However, her eyes open wide and her mouth opens slightly, her face now portraying something of panic.
“We... we didn’t...” Her breathing became more intense, through her own clenched teeth.
“Didn’t? Didn’t what?” you ask.
As the gears turn in your muddled mind, you come the same realization as her as to what the two of you might have done the previous night. Dread clenching your chest, you open your mouth and try to force some words out, but all you can do is shake your head.
Her eyes go quickly back and forth between you and the bed. Suddenly, she steps forward and yanks the blanket onto the floor. You watch as she leans herself on the edge of the mattress, pouring over the details of the sheets. Several seconds go by where you could hear your heart beating in your ears, as if it were trying to crawl up and escape. After she’s done with that, she pulls the blanket back onto the bed and begins searching over that as well.
After some more time looking over the bedspread, she finally looks up, seeming a little more calm.
“Well, I don’t see any... questionable stains,” she says between deep breaths, trying to recover from her earlier hyperventilation. The news also causes you to breathe a big sigh of relief. At least you hadn’t done anything truly regrettable.
A thought enters your mind. You question vocalizing it, but decide that she’d eventually come to the same idea you were having.
“What about somewhere else?” you ask.
She looks up at you. “...where?”
You stop and think. Where would one do such things? Technically, you could do that anywhere and some may find enjoyment through such acts in a non-conventional setting although you doubt either of you would be the type for that. Still, you might not have been in your right mind last night.
Looking around the room, the carpet was, thankfully, the same color all the way around. If you had done anything, it wasn’t in this room. But what about...?
“I’ll check the bathroom,” you say, trying to maneuver your hooves to the desired location. In this moment, you remember a story you heard about a centipede that forgot how to walk after it was asked how it could move all of its legs. Now that you think about it, maybe it was after a round of drinks and the centipede could move fine the next day after some coffee and a couple painkillers.
Oh, you would do anything for some of those right now.
You enter the bathroom and turn on the light. The walls, tile floor, sink, ceiling, and tub are all white. The only color is the deep blue shower curtain and the fake wood grain around the mirror above the sink.
Looking into the tub, you run a hoof along the bottom of it. Completely dry. Even feeling under the faucet reveals no sign of moisture. You scan around the room some more and find nothing else suspect. A little more relief settles the grasp of stress in your chest as you walk out to deliver the good news.
As you leave the bathroom, you see Octavia sitting by the bed, rubbing her temples with her hooves. Her cello case is also propped up against the wall by the bed. She must have found it while you were inspecting the tub. Celestia knows what she would have done without it.
You approach carefully and speak a little softer than normal. “So... I didn’t find anything in the bathroom.”
“No?” she asks, not looking up or stopping her rubbing.
“Nope. Didn’t see anything and the tub is bone dry.”
“Okay,” she says. Still rubbing, she takes a deep breath. “I’m sorry for yelling at you earlier.”
You shrug. “Not a problem. It was understandable given-”
“That wasn’t an apology; I was making a statement.”
Oh. Well then.
You roll your eyes, seeing she was still a bit bitter from the less than pleasant circumstances the two of you had woken up to. She takes a deep breath before releasing it in a long sigh.
“So if we did anything, it wasn’t here,” she says.
You raise an eyebrow. “Where else then if not the hotel room? In the lobby? On the front desk while we asked for the key?”
This actually gets a chuckle out of her. You decide to keep going.
“Take the key, ‘Oh and could you send somepony for our bags? We got our hooves a bit tied here.’”
“D-Don’t. Please,” she says between giggles. “Don’t make me laugh. My head feels like it’s about to crack open.”
“Okay, sorry,” you say with a little bit of a giggle yourself. At least she seems to be lightening up a little.
“So,” she says, getting your attention. “Do you remember anything about last night?”
You try to recall, putting a hoof to your chin. You remember the party you last worked at, meeting Octavia, getting wine, clinking the glasses, and then... nothing.
“Nothing past the party,” you reply.
“Hmm,” is all she replies with. “How soon do you have to get home before work?”
Again you think back, trying to remember your schedule. Through your mind’s eye, you look over a chart with what shifts and when. You had worked quite a few of them, but had been looking forward to the latest garden party, because...
“It’s my weekend off,” you say. It wasn’t often when it happened, but it was now, which you were thankful.
“Alright, can you get back to Canterlot?” she asks.
You stretch your wings out to their span. First time getting a good look at them today, you realize that they were badly in need of preening later.
“Just point me in the relative direction and I can get back easy enough.”
She nods at this.
“Where are we, anyway?” you ask.
“Whinnyapolis,” she says. “Where my ensemble is performing next. We were coming here shortly after the last Canterlot gathering.”
“Oh, maybe one of them knows what happened last night!” you exclaim, regretting it as you see Octavia cringe from your sudden outburst.
“We usually get a couple double rooms for accommodation. I have no idea why I would get a single and why events would lead to us...” she trails off. “Yeah.”
“Maybe they didn’t have enough rooms?” you ask, trying to blow off the mention of what happened with you two.
She shakes her head. “We would’ve made sure to reserve them or find another place.” Getting up from the bed, she lays her case on the floor before opening it. She pulls out a folded piece of paper.
“This is the schedule we had agreed on. Maybe there’s something here about the room situation,” she says while unfolding. When it’s completely unfolded, she looks over it. You sit yourself on the mattress next to where she was once sitting, headache you had almost forgotten about coming back.
Suddenly, you hear Octavia sharply intake a breath.
“Something wrong?” you ask.
“We’re early,” she says.
“Early...?” you mumble to yourself. “What do you mean?”
“It means, we were originally planning to leave right after the party for this town, but a last minute change would have us wait until morning the day after tomorrow, the day we were scheduled to play.”
“Why would you wait?”
“I don’t even... Wait, it was something with Beauty Brass. A, um... a thing. A part for her horn.” Octavia lets out another sigh while hoof now rests against her forehead. “There was an error in delivery and... no wait, not an error, but it was... it was going to be sent to her house. Before the concert. That was it.” Her other hoof comes up as she rests her head on them. “So... I’m away from my ensemble until we play.”
Despite her choppy explanation, you get the idea. You try to think of anything, grasping towards any comforting thought you could give her in your pounding head right now.
“It... could be worse,” you offer.
She looks up at you for a moment, eyes portraying that of a teacher scowling at a child who just tried to cause trouble. After a moment though, her gaze softens. Her eyes drift to the wall in front of her as she picks her head up off her hooves that fall onto the haunches she’s sitting on.
“I suppose you’re right,” she admits. “Sorry about the rude awakening, by the way. Really.”
“It’s okay,” you say with a chuckle. “Biggest bother is my head, which was a problem before you-” You cut yourself off before you go into further detail.
“Before I what? Shouted?” she asks with a little giggle of her own, a light smile now on her lips.
You give a little nervous nod, hoping her mind doesn’t fully grasp what you had said. Unfortunately, you see the smile fade.
“The first thing I did was shout,” she says plainly. “Were you... awake at all before that?”
“I-I...” ‘Am not awake enough for this,’ you think to yourself.
“How long were you awake?” she asks with a little edge to her question this time. She turns herself more towards you.
Your eyes travel from her to the wall to avoid her gaze. Out of the the corner of your vision, you can almost see the beginning of a scowl.
“How long.” It was no longer a question.
“Not that long,” you say quickly. It technically wasn’t a lie.
You look back to her. She looks you up and down, as if trying to spot something.
“Did you see anything?” she asks.
“I, um... like what?” you sheepishly reply.
She still looks like she’s boring through you with her eyes.
“Well...” you try to explain, getting more and more uncomfortable under her gaze. “It’s not like I... or you-, I mean... um...”
Her eyelids begin a slow squint, adding to her piercing look.
“Uh- I... It’s like...” you try to find something to say without admitting to knowing how Octavia laid back down next to you in bed, or at least try to play it off as no big deal. “Um... Well, you know, I, uh, kind of did the same thing-”
You just stop talking and close your eyes.
You don’t hear anything from her. All you could hear was the sound of your own breathing. Straining your ears, you try to see if you can pick up some sort of activity from the mare in front of you. She seems to remain motionless. After a while, you finally hear a stiff sigh making you fear the worst.
“Look at me.”
You really don’t want to. Still, you give a little swallow as you prepare to face her.
Eyes opening slowly, you start at her hooves. Traveling upwards, it doesn’t look like she’s about to run or strike you. She’s just sitting there. Reaching her face, you notice that the harsh gaze was gone, replaced by a face you had a hard time reading.
She was contemplating something, you could see that.
“Do you like me?” Octavia suddenly asks. The question makes your heart almost feel like it’s stopped.
“What brought that on?” you ask, hoping to buy some time to think of a good response.
“Don’t dodge the question,” she says, shooting down your plan. “Do you like me?”
“W-What do you mean?” you ask, trying again to deflect the question in some way.
“You know what I mean,” she replies sternly. “The kind of like where we end up in the same bed together. Do you like me?”
“Well...” you try to think quickly. “You see, um... the conversations we have are always delightful and-”
“Stop.” She takes a step forward, standing right in front of you, staring directly into your eyes. “We are not some foals on a playground skittishly talking around a schoolyard crush. We are adults and we can force down those feelings and state our minds.”
You try to look away, but her hoof reaches up to your chin and pulls you back into her gaze.
“Do. You. Like me?” she repeats, emphasising each word.
‘Break for the door!’ your mind screams at you. However, her gaze keeps you firmly in place. You take a few seconds to breathe, trying to calm yourself; using your pounding head and groggy mind to try and take away from what you were about to say.
You feel Octavia’s hoof move away from your chin. You wonder what she’s going to do at this point, because honestly, after everything this morning, all bets were off. She sits back neatly on her haunches, as her neutral expression gives way for a small smirk on her muzzle.
“I like you, too.”
All you could do was stare, wondering if you heard her correctly. It should have been obvious despite all that’s happened, but still, it felt like it was a long shot.
It was a great feeling of relief, having it 100% confirmed.
“Glad we could just get that out there?” she asks.
“Yeah,” you say with a smile. “Although, I’m surprised you were able to just put it forward like that.”
“This wretched headache helped.”
You couldn’t help but feel your smile grow in some sort of satisfaction hearing she used the same method as you did. She walks over to the desk with the telephone. Noticing a card, she picks it up.
“I’m going to call the front desk,” she says.
“You know their number?” you ask.
“It’s on this card, along with the room number.” She picks up the receiver and dials.
“Who would need the room number printed next to the phone?” you ask.
“Drunks like us, I suppose.”
“We’re not-...” you start, but she puts up a hoof signalling somepony had picked up.
You take the opportunity to sit on the edge of the bed. It gives a tiny creak as you put your weight on it. Rubbing your eye with a hoof, you try to listen in on Octavia’s call.
“Hello. Good morning. We’re calling from, uh...” She checks the card. “Room 213, wondering at what time we were expected to vacate... oh... oh, really? Would that be...? Paid for? But what if we...? Oh. ...okay. Thank you.”
You look perplexingly at Octavia as she hangs the phone up.
“So what time do we need to leave?”
She’s silent for a moment. It begins to worry you a little that maybe you had already overstayed in the room.
“... ten o’ clock.”
“Oh,” you say with a little relief. “Well, that’s a few hours awa-”
It’s your turn to have a pause of silence.
“The room’s been paid for another night,” she explains. “And they don’t offer refunds if we leave early.”
You look down at the floor while Octavia shuffles her hooves a bit. So many different kinds of awkward had filled the gaps in conversation this morning you might be able to call yourself a connoisseur by the time this ordeal was over.
But... this was wrong. Moments ago you had received some of the happiest news of your life and that was because you were forced to get past your inhibitions and simply say what you meant. Giving a quick glance at Octavia, you can see her open her mouth a couple times as if trying to say something. You decide to save her the trouble.
“Well, I don’t have to be at work today, so I could stay for a while” you say. Her eyebrows rise up, displaying her surprise.
“I’m not doing anything until the rest of my ensemble gets here,” she says.
The two of you look up to each other, locking eyes, smiles beginning to grow back on your lips.
“So, what should we do now?” you ask.
“For now, I think we should get some water and sleep off the rest of last night. I’m still a little dizzy and I see you’re having problems staying upright,” she says, noticing you swaying on your haunches.
“Who gets the bed?” you ask jokingly, giving the mattress an idle pat with a hoof.
“I do,” she replies, walking past. Before you voice an objection, she turns and plants a kiss on your cheek, the new soft and warm sensation you only knew from your personal fantasies sending a tingle down your spine and wings.
“But you are welcome to join me.”