The night life in Canterlot wasn’t any different from the usual atmosphere that gave the city its reputation. Being the capital of Equestria and the seat of power for the princesses there were less places to go and let loose than most other big cities, brought on by the idea that the royal sisters would look down on such a thing.
That wasn’t to say that there was nothing to do, however. There were plenty of theatres and concert halls to visit, and the number of fancy, extravagant restaurants never gave a pony too little choice if they couldn’t decide on what to eat. But to Vinyl...to Vinyl it all paled in comparison to what night life should really be like. She’d have much preferred to be walking towards the outer streets, the places she knew would be lit up and shaking with the noises coming from within the buildings no matter what hour it was. That was the sort of night life she craved.
She wasn’t a day pony, one could tell that from simply hanging around her for a few days. Most of the time she slept through the mornings and early afternoons, saving all her energy for whatever concert or club she was playing in that evening. She was used to seeing ponies moving with wild abandon, cramped together on a dance floor and trying to sing to the music.
She supposed that was why she was feeling a little out of sorts as she walked down the street beside Bon-Bon and Lyra, being careful not to bump into any of the mares or stallions that came from the opposite direction, looking past her as if she wasn’t even there. “I swear, Bonnie, I have no idea why you like this city so much,” she finally commented after having to drop into single file to avoid a collision.
The confectionary maker simply gave her a smile in return that seemed to suggest the answer was obvious. “Oh come now, Vinyl, dear, surely you see the wonder in all this. This city is where any pony can make a name for themselves. It’s the top of high society, it’s beautiful...so romantic.” She began to explain, a tone of wonderment in her voice and a glazed look in her eyes that caused Vinyl to look past the cream pony to the mint green one. Lyra just shrugged.
Seeing that she’d never win the argument in a million years, Vinyl changed the subject, her stomach making itself known to her with a gentle rumble. “So where are we eating? There’s like a hundred different restaurants around here and I feel like I could eat at each one.” She waited, the question hanging in the air, but Bon-Bon was still in her own little world, no doubt hob-knobbing with the social elite inside her own head.
Eventually Lyra spoke up, a look of worry on her face caused by her marefriend’s behaviour, “Er...we have reservations at the Garnished Primrose, right, Bon?” Bon-Bon didn’t respond immediately, earning a snicker from Vinyl and a bump of the hips from Lyra, finally snapping the day-dreaming mare out of her thoughts.
“Oh, yes, that’s right, reservations,” Bon-Bon confirmed, a flustered blush across her muzzle. “I called ahead too; it’s not just a table for two anymore so there should be nothing to worry about when we get there.” She finished, now focusing on the evening they were sharing rather than the fantasy in her mind.
“Well I hope it’s not one of those fancy stuck-up restaurants where you need to order like fifty meals to feel full, I’m starving!” Vinyl exclaimed, causing Bon-Bon to flinch at the sudden outburst. A few passing ponies turned towards them, expressing their disapproval but Vinyl and Lyra failed to notice, the two chuckling to themselves as they walked.
“I’m amazed your stomach isn’t as large as your ego with the amount you eat, Scratch, you’re like a bottomless pit,” Lyra gibed, ignoring the less than amused face of the cream mare glaring back at the pair.
“Hey, I have a very fast metabolism, gotta keep my energy up for when I’m pumping out the music. You’d be amazed how many calories you can burn off in my line of work,” the DJ defended, her eyes shifting to the left and right.
“With the amount you can pack away in a sitting you’d have to have the metabolism of a parasprite. You must have some secret...”
“Nope, no secret here. Just hafta be hard working and not lazy... ha, ha...” Vinyl then deflected, growing worried as Bon-Bon’s glare became a look of pensive thought, as if reminded of something that was just out of reach of being at the forefront of her mind.
“This coming from the pony that used to spend her younger days eating and napping... I guess some ponies are just lucky, the rest of us have to keep a lid on our inhibitions,” Lyra finished, Vinyl’s eyes still darting around until they grew wide as Bon-Bon’s face lit up with realisation, a large innocent and naive smile adorning her snout.
“Oh, that’s right, I forgot about that article in Mares Weekly you did,” the well read gossip began, much to Vinyl’s horror. “Your diet and fitness regime got me into this dress; I lost a whole five pounds thanks to it. I was so surprised when I found it though, it came completely out of the blue. I never thought you were into giving health tips and interviews.”
The world seemed to stop. Bon-Bon was still smiling, unaware that she’d just provided the ammunition needed to end Vinyl’s stalemate with her, until now, evenly matched nemesis. With a slow turn of her head, Vinyl gazed upon Lyra’s blank, expressionless face.
There was no smile, no grin, not even a raised eyebrow. “Diet?” she simply asked, and Vinyl knew that the game was over. “You never mentioned this to me, Scratch, your longest and closest friend. Tell me, have you been promoting spa visits and hooficures too?” Lyra’s composure was failing, twitches of smiles creeping around the corners of her mouth, her eyes watering. “Or have you been attending the latest fashion shows? What secrets... haha... have you been... pfft... keeping from me?”
Vinyl’s hoof found her face as Lyra finally lost it, falling back on her flank and clopping her forelegs on the ground in riotous laughter. Ponies in the street tried to ignore the scene, but many had to walk around the incapacitated pony, making it impossible for them to do so. “Alright, alright, that’s enough, Lyra!” Bon-Bon shouted, stamping her hoof down and nipping one of the mint mare’s ears.
That brought the laughter to an abrupt end, with what Vinyl thought was a most satisfying yelp. Lyra got back up, flicking her sore ear and wincing as she did so. The tears of laughter were now of pain and she looked back apologetically at Bon-Bon. “If you are quite finished with your shenanigans we are going to be late for dinner. I’ve been looking forwards to this all day and I am not missing it, now let’s get going.”
The three continued down the street after that, though Vinyl and Lyra slunk behind, whispering back and forth between each other, hoping they were out of ear shot of Bon-Bon. “You deserved that... though she can be scary sometimes...”
“Shut it, Scratch, if she hears you say that then we’re both dead.”
“Hey, she’s your marefriend, it’s not my fault she’s the one in charge.”
“At least I have a marefriend.”
“Dude... low blow...”
“Will you two foals stop bickering, we’re here.” The sound of Bon-Bon’s voice made the pair cringe and they looked ahead to find her stood before a large set of revolving glass doors, a stern look upon her face. They looked above her and an elegant yet bold sign drew their attention, the words ‘The Garnished Primrose’ adorning it in stylised calligraphy.
On either side of the doors were huge plate-glass windows, displaying the various ponies within dining and chatting and enjoying their evening. Most of the tables were positioned so that they faced out towards the window and Vinyl looked behind herself. The building was perfectly situated so that it faced directly down a street with no obstructions in its view, providing an excellent backdrop of Canterlot Castle.
“I guess this place gets a lot of business,” Vinyl muttered to herself as she and Lyra joined Bon-Bon, the latter of which made her way inside, pushing her way through the doors and heading off towards the reservation desk and maître d' behind it.
“This place looks a little expensive,” Lyra suddenly mentioned, a worried look in her eyes as she glanced back and forth at the various ponies enjoying their evening.
“Don’t worry about it,” Vinyl casually replied, leading Lyra towards the doors, much to the mint unicorn’s chagrin.
“What do you mean ‘don’t worry about it’?” the lyrist groaned, a note of panic in her voice. “Bon-Bon really wants to eat here and I don’t think I can afford it. We’ll get kicked out or have to wash the dishes and then she’ll hate me and then she’ll leave me and then-”
“Lyra, chill out,” Vinyl interrupted, grasping her by the shoulder and giving her a brisk shake. “You’ve got issues, girl...” Once Lyra seemed like she was going to be alright, Vinyl let her go and continued into the restaurant, a flustered Lyra following behind her. “We’re friends; I’ll get this for you.”
“Scratch, I couldn’t ask you to do that for me,” Lyra objected with a shake of her head, as if the physical act of declining made it absolute. “I invited you out, not the other way around.”
“Consider it a trade,” Vinyl continued, shoving Lyra to one side before they reached Bon-Bon, who was talking at length to the maître d'. “You let me pay for dinner for you two tonight... and you never mention my magazine article about my diet, deal?”
It was a ridiculous deal, but between such friends as they were it was very real. Lyra met Vinyl’s gaze, studying the subtle grin she held and the determined look she had in her eyes. She could tell that the piece of information she had uncovered was perfect blackmail material... but Bon-Bon’s happiness came first. “Alright, Scratch, you’ve got yourself a deal... but as long as you come over for dinner in Ponyville after the convention, at least let us cook you something to return the favour.”
“... Sweet Apple Acre pie?”
“Yep, with Bon-Bon’s very own secret recipe Ice-Cream... even the Cakes can’t compete with that stuff.”
“... you know that’s one of the exact reasons I was on a diet in the first place... but I can’t resist. Looks like we have an agreement,” Vinyl finished, stepping back from Lyra with a glazed look in her eyes, thoughts of pies, cakes and sweets swimming through her mind and causing her to lick her lips.
“Geez, Scratch, no need to drool all over the place,” Lyra laughed before nudging the other unicorn back further, leading the way over to Bon-Bon. “And thanks... you’re a good friend.” Vinyl shrugged it off with a wave of her hoof, knowing full well she owed Lyra enough bits from their youth to cover several fancy meals.
When they finally reached Bon-Bon's side, however, she was almost in tears. “Bon, what’s wrong?” Lyra asked, moving to nuzzle the side of her neck, glancing back between her and the expressionless pony before them.
“He says we don’t have a reservation... but I made arrangements last week when you got the tickets for the convention, and I asked the hotel to make sure there was room for three today.” Bon-Bon turned back towards the maître d'. “Please, there must be some kind of a mistake; if you could just check again then I’m sure-”
“Madam, I have checked three times already,” the stallion interrupted, his eyes only occasionally glancing down long enough to look over the three ponies. “I assure you, there is no reservation under the name of a ‘Miss Bon-Bon’, or a ‘Miss Lyra Heartstrings’, before you ask me to check that name once more too. I’m afraid we have no tables available for walk ins so I must ask you to vacate the premises.”
“Of all the nerve!” The exclamation startled the maître d', who took a step back at the sudden outcry. He looked down, more aware of his surroundings and came face to face with a very irate unicorn. “How dare you speak to her in such a way.” Lyra continued, anger boiling in her eyes. “Do you always speak to your customers in such a rude manner or is this just an exception you’ve taken to us? I want to speak to your superior, get me the manager!”
The outburst had caught the attention of several of the tables, the ponies seated at them whispering amongst themselves. One of them got up and began to move towards them but both Lyra and Bon-Bon failed to pay much attention. “Lyra, please, don’t make a scene, let’s just go... I’m sure we can get some sandwiches at a store or something...”
Lyra ignored her, staring intently at the shocked stallion in front of her, but a gentle tugging on her dress eventually drew her attention. “But this is meant to be your special night...”
“I know, but we can have that another time, come on, let’s go.” With that, and a final glower at the maître d', both Bon-Bon and Lyra turned to leave, making their way back towards the doors. “Maybe we can come back in a few months time? We don’t have time to book another reservation whilst we’re still here.”
“It’s not right, Bon,” Lyra mumbled, slowly walking by Bon-Bon’s side as they made their way back onto the street outside. “You were looking forwards to this, I promised to take you out for dinner whilst we were here and I couldn’t even accomplish that.” The unicorn lowered her head, a slight sob escaping her.
Bon-Bon sniffled and gave her a chaste kiss on her cheek, trying to cheer her up. “Oh, come now, it’s not your fault, Lyra, right, Vinyl?” she asked, turning to her side and then around her, trying to get the DJ to help her. But she wasn’t anywhere to be found. “Vinyl?”
“Will you two get your flanks back in here already?!” Both Lyra and Bon-Bon jumped at the sound of Vinyl’s voice, turning back to look at the restaurant and the waving hoof of the white unicorn. “Come on!” she shouted once more before retreating back inside. Bon-Bon and Lyra both looked at each other, confusion evident in both their eyes before doing as instructed, smoothing down their dresses as they did so.
Once back inside the maître d' immediately approached them, a flustered look about him, a stark contrast to his previous snooty demeanour. “A thousand apologies, madam, I had no idea. Please, right this way, I’ll show you to your table,” he quickly said to them, before about-facing and heading off deeper into the building. Lyra and Bon-Bon looked at each other once more, now thoroughly perplexed but again they did as they were told. The ponies at the tables they passed tried not to make it obvious they were looking at them, but several eyes peering over upside down menus and forks missing the food on the plates were sure signs to the contrary.
Eventually they were brought to a booth, within sat Vinyl, a glass of champagne caught in her magical grip as she slowly sipped on it. Across from her sat the pony that had stood before they left, and now that Lyra and Bon-Bon had time to look properly their jaws dropped.
“Took you two long enough, I thought I’d have to impose on Sapphire’s table and dine with her this evening.” Vinyl smirked, giving Sapphire Shores a quick glance and a wink before looking back at the couple.
“You’d be more than welcome, darling, it’s been some time since we actually sat down together and enjoyed one another’s company.” The pop diva grinned back, and then moved to stand. “You two must be Vinyl’s friends, please, sit I won’t be burdening you for much longer.”
“You...you’re...S-S-Sapphire S-Shores...,” the obviously star struck Bon-Bon replied, earning a melodic laugh from the fashionable earth pony. Lyra, on the other hand, who was much more accustomed to seeing and occasionally meeting celebrities through her line of work quietly took a seat beside Vinyl. “Can I have your autograph?” Bon-Bon suddenly asked, causing both Vinyl and Lyra to groan and bang their heads on the table in unison.
Sapphire, however, was more than happy to oblige, a true lover of her fans, and with a flourish a signature was scrawled on a nearby napkin, kissed, and handed over to Bon-Bon, who accepted it with a giddy smile before taking her seat opposite of Lyra. “Any friends of Vinyl are friends of mine, dearies, just have Vinyl send word if you’d like tickets to one of my shows, a couple of back stage passes shouldn’t be an issue. Ta ta for now.” And with that, the pop princess sauntered away.
The three now sat alone in their booth, Bon-Bon still hugging the napkin to her chest, Vinyl still sitting smugly with her champagne... and Lyra, sat with a suspicious look towards Vinyl. “What did you do? You’ve just saved the evening... and I don’t think my brain can handle that.”
“I might not act like it, Lyra, but I AM a celebrity. Sapphire saw us at the entrance being turned down and after you left, far too quickly might I add, we kicked up a fuss. You should have seen it, the look on the waiter’s face. The manager came out and shouted at him and everything. We got a private booth, free champagne for the whole evening and complimentary flower baskets... here they are now.”
Lyra looked to her right and saw what Vinyl was referring to. Three waiters were approaching, each with a small wicker basket full of assorted flowers. They placed one before each of the ponies at the table before heading back off, disappearing to serve which ever tables needed tending to next. Vinyl happily mumbled, already chewing on the bluebell that was in her basket. “I love free food.”
“And then I had to make sure she didn’t get a hold of my turntables... I tell, you, that Twilight Sparkle is a clumsy drunk,” Vinyl laughed, loudly. It was beginning to get late, however, so it barely disturbed any of the other patrons. The dinner was technically over, main courses had and desserts devoured. Now the three sat at their table, slowly finishing their last bottle of champagne before they were asked to leave.
“Yeah, I wish I could have stayed and seen it through to the end, but Bon-Bon was so tired, and after all those changelings attacked I didn’t want her to have to go back to our room by herself,” Lyra replied with a faint smile. She had swapped sides after they’d finished eating, and now sat opposite Vinyl, Bon-Bon leaning against Lyra’s shoulder, eyes closed and lightly dozing with a rose tint adorning her snout.
Vinyl looked at the two, a fond look creeping onto her face. “You two make such a cute couple you know?” she commented, earning a raised eyebrow from Lyra.
“Did you just use the word ‘cute’ in a sentence?”
“I’ve had three... four... no, maybe... many glasses of champagne, what I say from this point onwards can’t be taken as a testimony for the Night Court.” Vinyl replied, decided that she no longer found the liquid left in her glass to be very palatable.
“I see... well, continue your point.” Lyra smiled with a roll of her eyes.
“Nothing, you’re just... lucky I guess.” Vinyl finished, looking down at the table in front of her and pushing a salt shaker back and forth between her hooves.
Lyra rested her head on top of Bon-Bon’s, sighing as she made herself comfortable. “Ah, I see what’s happening; you’re getting all melancholy on me. You’ve got the case of the late night blues. Alright, I’ll bite, what’s wrong? You didn’t take those comments I made about not having a special somepony in your life to heart, did you? Because you know I was only joking.”
Vinyl was quiet for a moment, then shook her head, her eyes trying to portray her wealth of confidence but unable to do so. She wished she still had her glasses. “No, it’s not that... or maybe it is... I don’t know. I just feel like I don’t know where I should be at the moment. Maybe it’s just the champagne talking.”
“No, I think this has been bugging you for a while, you’ve just not had the chance to talk over it with someone,” Lyra egged on, wanting to find the route of the problem.
“Well I guess it might have something to do with the fact I have such little time now for everything I want to do. Like seeing you and Bonnie. It’s been ages since I’ve been back home and there’s so many friends I miss.”
“But you don’t want to give up your life as it stands now; you’re just stuck with trying to balance things is all. But don’t worry, if you get to the point where you don’t want it anymore, Bon here would swap with you in a heartbeat,” Lyra laughed quietly, trying not to wake the sleeping mare before they were ready to leave.
“Does that mean I get you too?” Vinyl jested, giving Lyra her patented bedroom eyes. “We could make such good music together, you and I.”
“Wow, it didn’t take you long to switch back into Vinyl-Mode, did it?”
“What can I say, I can’t let an opportunity like that pass me by. And during college... well... ”
“Alright! I think it’s time we get going,” Lyra quickly interrupted, her face feeling hotter than a few moments ago, and Vinyl struggling not to fall out of her seat laughing. Bon-Bon was gently shaken awake, the exhausted mare taking a moment to find her bearings.
“Did Sapphire come back?” she asked, yawing quietly and rubbing at an eye with her hoof.
“No, she said she had to go, remember? But she did promise to post us those tickets; we’ll get them when we get home to Ponyville,” Lyra replied, slowly standing herself up and helping Bon-Bon out of the booth. Once her marefriend was comfortably supported against her side, the two began to walk away, heading out towards the door. Vinyl shortly followed, but not before leaving a large enough pile of bits on the table with the bill to cover the meal and at least one of the complimentary bottles of champagne.
Once outside the three huddled together to avoid the cold, Bon-Bon between the two more aware mares so they could guide her. Luna’s moon was high above them, clearly visible and unobstructed by any of the towers and buildings that made up the city.
There were few ponies left on the street at this hour, only the occasional group such as themselves, making their way back to wherever it was they were staying the night. A few guard ponies, adorned in silver armour to signify their membership to the night watch patrolled the streets, ensuring the safety of any mares more vulnerable than usual after their night out walking home.
“It’s so pretty, Lyra...,” Bon-Bon mumbled, causing Lyra and Vinyl to look at each other. “The moon I mean... remember when you said you’d pluck it from the sky for me... that was so sweet.”
“Yes, Bon... shh, we’re almost there,” Lyra quickly hushed her, refusing to look at Vinyl who was in near hysterics.
“You’d pluck the moon from the sky? You steal that out of a romance novel, or are you just made of cheese?”
“Vinyl, if you don’t forget everything you’ve just heard I’m going to go to the press with the pictures I have of you after you got that gum stuck in your coat... you know, the gum you got everywhere... that we had to shave off?”
“Oh would you look at that, there’s the hotel.”
The three slowly made their way up the few steps that brought them to the foyer doors; a helpful pony, with a cutie mark of a set of double doors, opened them as they approached. Once inside Vinyl let Lyra take over most of the duties of steering Bon-Bon, the warmth of the building making it much more comfortable to walk alone.
As they approached the elevators the tail of a pony could be seen slipping inside and they began to close. “Hold the door please!” Lyra shouted. She hurried Bon-Bon along as best she could, in case they missed it but the pony inside had stepped forwards, obstructing the doors and preventing them from closing before they got there.
Vinyl immediately recognised her as the mare she’d held the door for only that afternoon and she smiled as they passed her. “Thanks for returning the favour,” she commented, moving to stand by Bon-Bon as Lyra pushed the number for their floor and Vinyl’s.
“One good deed deserves another, right?” the grey mare replied giving a neutral smile in return. She looked towards Lyra, who was indicating which floor she wanted but she shook her head, the loose bowtie around her neck shaking as she did so. “No need, you’ve already selected my floor.” She answered before she turned back to face the now closed doors, waiting for the elevator to take them up.
Silence reigned, disturbed by the detestable elevator music. A thought of rigging the sound system with something more... up-beat struck Vinyl’s thoughts but before she could indulge in her fantasy of vandalism Bon-Bon interrupted her. “She’s pretty, Vinyl... go talk to her.”
Lyra’s hoof immediately shot up to cover Bon-Bon’s mouth; Vinyl’s doing the same as they both looked towards the fourth mare in the elevator. She had turned her head a little at the comment, but now faced the front of the elevator once more, politely pretending she hadn’t heard a thing.
A few moments passed and Lyra and Vinyl let out a breath they didn’t know they were holding. Once their hooves had been lowered however, Bon-Bon spoke again. “Vinyl, ask her for her name.” And the hooves were brought straight back up. The grey mare looked for a little longer this time, studying the three with her purple hued eyes. Vinyl and Lyra just grinned back at her, meeting her gaze and keeping the half asleep Bon-Bon between them and hushed.
The awkward silence was broken by the chime of the doors opening and Lyra quickly took advantage of the opening, dragging Bon-Bon gently out into the hallway. “Well, it was a lovely evening, Vinyl, we should do it again sometime, definitely. Maybe we can meet up for breakfast tomorrow downstairs? We’ll come get you,” Lyra babbled, trying to break the tension.
“Y-yeah, sure. Good night, Lyra, good night, Bon-Bon,” Vinyl replied, giving a wave of her hoof as the doors began to close.
Lyra waved back in return, but used the hoof she was using to cover Bon-Bon’s mouth. “Kiss her, Vinyl!” the cream mare yelled just as the doors closed, making both Vinyl and the unfortunate mare sharing the elevator jump and blush bright red.
“For the love of Celestia, Bon-Bon, shut up!” Came Lyra’s muffled response from behind the closed doors and the elevator once again began its ascent.
“S-Sorry about that, she gets a little... weird after she drinks... apparently...” Vinyl tried to explain, trying to remember the last time she had seen Bon-Bon drink anything stronger than cider and realising that she couldn’t think of a single instance.
“Quite alright, everyone’s entitled to enjoy themselves from time to time,” the mare replied, still looking towards the door. Silence prevailed once more but after a moment or two the mare sighed and turned to face Vinyl, hoof extended. “My name is Octavia.”
Vinyl stared dumbly at the hoof, not sure exactly what was going on. By the time her brain caught up with her she realised she had left Octavia standing for at least a few seconds whilst she was staring at her outstretched hoof. “Oh!” she exclaimed, raising her own hoof and clacking it against Octavia’s. “Vinyl, Vinyl Scratch,” she replied, shaking her leg up and down.
“Charmed,” Octavia replied, the worried expression on her face turning to a smile. The elevator once more came to a stop and both ponies exited. They both turned right and walked side by side as Vinyl approached her room. “If... if it’s not too much trouble, perhaps I could join you for breakfast tomorrow? It would be nice to have some company and you and your friends seem like nice enough sorts... providing you’re not all as strange as you seem in the middle of the night.”
Vinyl paused for thought for a moment, literally, once again startling Octavia with her odd behaviour. The grey mare stopped a few feet ahead, waiting for Vinyl and contemplating on going on ahead without here. “Oh, how silly of me, I thought it might have been strange to ask such a thing, especially after just making your acquaintance. Forget I said anything.”
Vinyl watched as she turned to continue walking and she found herself answering. “Breakfast? Okay, no problem. Sorry if I’m a little spacey...it’s been an interesting night.” She trotted quickly to reach Octavia’s side again but soon found herself coming towards her door. “You didn’t have to walk me to my room, you know?” Vinyl grinned, a twinkle in her eye as she came to a stop and glanced at the mare beside her.
“I didn’t.” Came the reply and Vinyl watched as Octavia turned around and let herself into room nineteen, right opposite the DJ's. “I’ll see you in the morning, Vinyl, I’ll let you call on me, since I think you’ll be needing your sleep.” And with that she bid Vinyl good night and closed the door.
Vinyl remained in the hallway, blinking her tired eyes and staring at Octavia’s door. “...what the hay just happened?”