The sweet embrace of unconsciousness gave way to the incessant beeping of his alarm, which Spike vowed to destroy everyday. He rolled over onto his side and felt around the top of it, looking for the off button. Just when he was growing frustrated with the annoying device, he found it. The beeping stopped and he shrugged out of the blanket, stretching much like a cat would after a nice nap. Though his sleep had been dreamless, it had been restful. He stumbled out of bed and shuffled his way out of his door.
He heard some sort of noise from the kitchen and suddenly his body was on high alert. He pressed against the wall in the short hallway that led to the kitchen and living room and sidled carefully toward the sound. Dishes clattered and he heard his coffee maker beep, signaling it had finished brewing the Celestia-blessed liquid.
Whoever had broken into his home was making coffee. He didn't know whether to feel outraged or confused, so he settled on seeing for himself just who this mystery pony was. He felt beads of sweat form on his forehead as he came to the corner where the hall met kitchen. Now or never, he thought.
Octavia poured two mugs of coffee. There weren't many dishes to choose from, and most were of abnormal size, even by a stallion's standards. She had decided to use a smaller, red mug with a big heart on it and the words 'World's Best Sister' written in extremely curly writing, it being the only mug her size. The other she poured the caffeinated nectar into was big and purple, though it had no other significant qualities to it.
She added a bit of sugar to her's, leaving the other alone, and took a small sip. Pure bliss overcame her, it was perfect. She was just glad it was a good blend, it wasn't extravagant by any means, but it also wasn't some sludge some ponies bought just because it was a bit cheaper. She found herself, eyes closed, enjoying the energy-giving drink as much as she could. One of the few things in life she could afford to enjoy anymore. She let her eyes flutter opened, and she found herself looking straight at a dragon. She couldn't help herself and released a noise of distress that sounded alarmingly like a 'meep' and almost dropped her mug.
Spike had remembered, as soon as he saw her, what had transpired the night before. He felt silly for thinking someone would break into his apartment. Who would break into the home of a dragon, no matter how harmless he seemed? He couldn't help himself but to admire her for a moment. She had fixed her mane, and her eyes were no longer red from crying, in this light she looked stunning. He was about to walk into the kitchen when she spotted him and nearly jumped out of her fur.
“Sorry,” he apologized hastily, “didn't mean to startle you.” Spike rubbed the spines on the back of his neck, he saw the mug she was drinking from. It was Twilight's, his surrogate sister, but he didn't really mind someone else using it just this once. He approached the other mug that sit on the counter by the coffee machine, he picked it up and sipped it. The bitter taste was just what he needed, and he couldn't help but lose himself in the warmth that grew in his stomach.
Octavia watched him cautiously for only a moment's time before returning to her own mug. She wracked her mind, trying to think of where she could go from here. The silence wasn't exactly awkward, but it wasn't comfortable either. It was just that, silence. The two were too busy engulfed by their thoughts and drinks to talk. It wasn't long, however, that their mugs had run dry, and as Spike went to pour another, he spoke.
“The newspaper is probably here by now.” He hinted, now that she was out of a job she would need to get another, lest she be another homeless mare like the many others that had begun to clutter the streets as of late, the economy being what it was now. Octavia knew what he was trying to say, that she should look into the classifieds. She knew he was putting up with her now, but if she wanted to stay, she'd need to put some bits up for room and board. She huffed silently, and Spike offered an apologetic smile to her.
The paper held no real good options, but that didn't stop her from rereading it thrice over as she rest on he couch. Spike noticed her worry, and sighed. He held sway with a few of the local businesses, and even had a few favors owed to him, it was just one request away and he could probably get her a job at Sugar Cube Corner, or even The Carousel Boutique.
It was nearing 8 o'clock, and Spike had errands to run today before he went to work. He didn't really want to leave a strange mare alone in his home with all his possessions, but he really didn't have anything worth stealing in the first place, so he decided it would be fine to leave her to her own devices while he went about his business.
“Listen, I have some things I have to do.” He spoke hesitantly, as if afraid he would scare her off. “I don't have an extra key to give you, so you can choose. You can stay here, or you can come with me.” Octavia looked at him strangely, did he trust her in his home, alone? She simply sighed and stood from the couch. Spike took that she would be coming with him. Though she rarely spoke, Spike didn't seem to have much trouble with figuring out what she was trying to say.
The Sugar Cube Corner was just as bright and colorful as it had been those very few years ago he first came to Ponyville. The only thing that really had changed was that Pinkie was slowly starting to take more and more responsibility from the Cakes. That wasn't to say she matured much. She was still Ponyville's resident party enthusiast, she just had a little less time to party was all. The bell on the door rang as he pushed the it opened. Octavia stood there, staring at him as he just held it opened. What was he doing?
“Uh. Ladies first?” He was unsure why she didn't immediately understand the gesture, but after he spoke, something in her brain kicked in and she suddenly felt very embarrassed for not realizing sooner he was just being a gentlecolt, or in this case, gentledragon. She hurried through the door, as to not waste more of his time.
Spike followed her in, a bit puzzled, but the sight of the pink mare at the counter flushed all thoughts of bewilderment from his mind. Pinkie Pie still looked very much the same, her poofy cotton-candy mane bounced as her head twisted to look in his direction.
“Spiky!” She bounded over the counter, startling her current customer at the register, and landed right on him. Spike grunted as he was forced to hold the party-pony in his arms, lest she hit the tiled floor. “Oh, its been aaaages!” she squealed, “Oh, and you brought a marefriend! You sly dog.” She elbowed him in the chest lightly.
Spike sputtered, setting down the pink mare and attempting to explain the situation. He wasn't very successful. Octavia felt the heat rise to her face, she felt very out of place with the two friends, not to mention the mistake of her dating the dragon.
“Oh, don't you worry, Spike. Pinkie understands.” She winked at him, misunderstanding his staggeringly bad attempts to get her off the track she had placed herself on. Octavia was finding herself rather tired of this whole episode as it ran on for a few moments longer.
“I'm not his marefriend.” She spoke in a dignified yet blunt way. Pinkie gasped in shock.
“Don't tell me you're breaking up?!” She howled, pressing her hooves to her face in horror.
“We were never together, Pinkie.” Spike finally composed himself, dragging a clawed hand down his face. “I'm just giving her a helping claw, since she's been down on her luck lately. That's what I'm here about, actually.”
Pinkie Pie calmed herself back down to her usual bubbly self and trotted back behind the register, having remembered that she actually had a customer.
“Oh, you need help? Thank you for shopping at Sugar Cube Corner!” She split her conversation between her friend and her customer. When he left, grumbling about poor service, she returned her attention to Spike and Octavia. “What do you need, Spiky? You can ask Pinkie anything!”
“I was hoping you had an opening.” He said, fiddling with his claws. He wasn't used to asking for such a favor. “Octavia here really needs a job.” He hoped and prayed to Celestia that she would accept, and little did he know Octavia was doing much the same.
“Oh,” Pinkie's mane deflated with an audible noise of a balloon losing all its air. “I'm sorry, Spiky, but we don't have any room for any more employees.” Her hair suddenly shot back to its old shape. “What about Pony Joe's Tavern? I'm sure you can convince Pony Joe to hire her on!” Spike didn't think that was the best of plans, but everypony was hurting for bits lately, he knew that she was probably right. Though Octavia didn't strike him as the 'waitress' type.
Spike and Octavia had gone to every business that Spike knew the owners of, which was actually quite a few. Though each had the same reply to his request. An apologetic decline. And to make matters worse, it was nearing 3 P.M, and Spike would need to be at the tavern when it opened.
“One last option.” He spoke slowly, and Octavia's downcast eyes looked up at him. “The tavern.” She was aghast, drinking in that rundown bar was one thing, but working there? How far could the musician possibly fall?
“I know its not ideal.” Spike sighed, sensing her distress about this situation. “But, its the last option I have left to me.” The bar wasn't actually that far away, thankfully, they had arrived in mere minutes. The duo walked up to the door, Spike unlocked it, as Pony Joe trusted him to open and close the place sometimes, and he held the door opened again. Octavia had caught onto this as a usual thing for him and trotted inside.
The mood was very different in the tavern without his music flowing through it, it wasn't the same light, yet still sad, feel. It was, instead, just depressing. It was dimly lit and Pony Joe was pulling chairs from the tops of the tables and placing them at their side. Spike wordlessly began to do the same.
While the pair did their usual routine, Octavia spotted something on the small, elevated section of floor that served as the stage. Besides just a piano was a few other instruments. The one that caught her attention was a cello.
Spike set the last chair on the floor and slid it under the table it belonged too and started to mentally prepare himself for his job, soon the patrons would filter in and they would all have some kind of trouble for him to relieve them of with his music and Joe's drinks.
His thought process was broken, however, when a sad melody reached his ears.