Had some thing to deal with and new projects that demanded my time. If it makes you feel better, I've been slacking with various other fiction based duties as well, so it isn't just you ponies.
My awful time-keeping aside... Onwards!
“Daddy, can I-”
“Quiet Octavia. Work your legs, not your mouth.”
“We all need to do our duties, child. Hard work breeds achievement.”
The grey mare could hear her name being shouted, sung really, a strained note that wasn't entirely unpleasant.
The voice became more urgent and more annoyed.
“Wake up or I'll shave off your cutie mark.”
Octavia's eyes snapped open. Her head lay on a table in the corner of a dishevelled looking room, streamers and glitter and cake and popped balloons littered the floor. She seemed strangely disconnected to her own head, concentrating, she managed to find some measure of control over herself, that also meant she could feel the shooting pain in her skull. “Ow” she moaned, rubbing her head with a hoof.
“Come on, let's find a bed for you to rest in.” Vinyl Scratch appeared in her periphery, offering a helping hoof.
“Were you always that blurry?”
Vinyl laughed, “You're a hoot, you know that. Once you loosen up anyway.” She grabbed Octavia and helped her onto her hooves. Octavia stood shakily, but Vinyl held her in place. “Now march, we can't intrude on your sisters hospitality for too long.”
As they exited Sugar Cube Corner, Octavia suddenly remembered something, “Apples! We'll sleep... Apples!”
Vinyl was used to such behaviour, experienced in the way of partying as she was, “Of course. The Apples will help us sleep.” She found it best not to argue too much when they were like this.
“Follow me!” Octavia pulled herself from Vinyl's grasp and began an ungainly trot down the street. Despite the state she was in, she was surprisingly fast on her hooves.
Vinyl shook off the buzz she was feeling and kept as close to Octavia as she could. She didn't want to get in her way, but she didn't want her to get into any trouble, not that Vinyl was too worried, Octavia was a sensible pony. “Where are you going?” She shouted, no doubt waking up a few ponies.
Octavia continued trotting along the empty Ponyville streets shouting “Apples.”
It was enough that Vinyl seriously began to wonder whether she should grab Octavia and sort things out herself. It wasn't often that Vinyl had to play the role of babysitter, “Freakin' lightweight,” she grumbled. As Vinyl was wondering what to do, she didn't notice the fact that they were suddenly surrounded by apple trees. Octavia knew of course, despite her inebriation, she knew where she needed to go.
Sweet Apple Acres farm was just up the road. Octavia began banging on the door as soon as she reached it, Vinyl appeared behind her and tried to get her to stop, “What the hell are you doing?” She whispered violently.
Octavia turned to face her and attempted to look as dignified as one could whilst under the influence, “I'm finding us a place to stay.” She said this like it would be plainly obvious to the DJ pony.
“Why here? We passed plenty of places on the way.”
Octavia rolled her eyes, managing it slightly out of sync, “Applejack said so.”
“A friend.” Octavia gave up trying to explain to the unicorn and resumed her banging on the door.
When the door opened, it took a while for her hooves to stop, catching Applejack on the nose.
“What was that fer?”
“Sorry about that,” Octavia had to stop herself from giggling, “I need a place to-” and she fell asleep before she could finish the sentence.
Vinyl stepped in, looking apologetic. “I tried to make her stop, but she insisted.”
Applejack sighed and knelt down next to Octavia, “Help me get her up, we'll stick her in one o' the guest rooms. I guess she partook in one too many glasses o' punch?”
“You'd guess correctly. Although for her, one too many isn't that many at all.” Vinyl channelled her magic into helping lift Octavia, Applejack took the strain on the other end and they managed to find a small cot on the bottom floor to put her in. It was as simple as simple got, but a bed was a bed.
Applejack and Vinyl retreated into the sitting room, the former collapsing onto the couch whilst the latter hovered uncomfortably nearby. “Y'all can sit down, you know.”
“Thanks for your hospitality, I know it's not exactly fair for us to turn up so late.” Vinyl took a seat on a small chair.
“Don't worry, I said she could stay over an' that's knowin' how some o' Pinkie's parties end up.” Applejack turned over and lay down on the couch, her eyes closed.
“I'll just go find a room shall I?” Vinyl offered, getting up and walking slowly over to the corridor where Octavia's temporary room was.
Applejack flailed a hoof and mumbled something unintelligible before she started snoring.
“I'll take that as a yes.”
When Octavia opened her eyes, she immediately regretted it.
Her usually sharp, lavender eyes were bloodshot and refused to look at anything with the clarity they usually did. Even her ears refused to co-operate, amplifying every noise to terrifyingly painful levels.
Octavia cringed at her voice, “What the hell happened last night?”
Vinyl trotted over and jumped on her bed, causing the grey earth pony to hide under the covers, “You had fun,” she said simply, “Maybe it took a few glasses of punch for it to happen, but I saw you dancing and laughing, even your sister was impressed.”
“Why does my head feel like its being pecked by angry birds?” Her voice was muffled, but Vinyl caught the gist.
The unicorn took the chance to antagonise her friend further, poking the lump in the covers a few times and laughing, “You've never had a hangover before? I knew you were a lightweight, but teetotal?” Vinyl thought for a moment, “I can't even imagine that, I thought all musicians were on the sauce.”
“Not all of us. I thought the punch was non-alcoholic!” Octavia moaned, curling up even more.
“Come on Tavi, Applejack has a 'down home' hangover cure ready to go, you just gotta wake up.”
“I don't want to.”
Vinyl grinned, “I wasn't asking.” Using her magic, she lifted the covers from the bed and flung them into the corner, much to the chagrin of the earth pony now staring daggers at the unicorn.
Octavia began to shiver, it was cold without her covers.
“Let's get some food down you, it'll warm you up from the inside.”
“I'm afraid that if I eat anything I'll just throw it back up. My stomach feels rather... fragile, at the moment.”
Vinyl nodded knowingly, “I can understand that, but it's better to eat in the long run, take it from the expert.” Abandoning all pretence, Vinyl rolled Octavia onto her back using her magic and walked slowly out of the room carrying her. “You could stand to lose a few pounds you know,” she added.
Octavia was too annoyed and too lethargic to reply or care at the moment, so she just limply accepted her fate.
Vinyl deposited her on a chair in Applejack's kitchen, in front of her was a steaming pile of food and a strong cup of tea.
“Now eat up, that there's a guaranteed cure.” Applejack appeared in the door frame, leaning casually against it.
“How does that even make sense?” Octavia asked, poking at the food in disgust.
“The Apple family knows one thing, Apples. Can't buck apples if you're drunk... or tired.”
Vinyl sat in the seat next to Octavia, “I'd listen to her, we have a similar way of thinking. One of the first things you learn before taking on a profession is how to best rid yourself of hangovers to make sure you don't fail at said profession.”
Octavia took a precursory sip of tea, recoiling at the strong flavour, “I don't think I got that memo. Why don't you feel like this anyway Vinyl? And don't give me any of this magic crap.”
The unicorn was tempted to tap her horn mysteriously as she often does, but knew that she herself wasn't liable to accept crap when she had a hangover, “I honestly didn't have much to drink, shocking I know. Even still, my liver can handle it, whilst yours is still adapting.”
“Didn't have much to drink? But you... erm,” Octavia rubbed her head, struggling to recall whatever it was that Vinyl did, “Why can't I remember? You were doing something ridiculous, either way.”
“Something ridiculous you say?” Vinyl chuckled, “It honestly doesn't take much for me to do something ridiculous, that's just how I am. In fact, a DJ friend of mine dared me to play some terribly embarrassing music at a gig I was doing, just to see how people would react. Needless to say, I remixed that shit so well it sounded great anyway.”
Octavia lay her head on the table, “Not that I didn't enjoy your story Vinyl, but your mane is so bright that it's making my headache worse.”
“Oh, sorry.” Vinyl's horn glowed a bright blue for a second, her sunglasses lifting from her head and lying on the table. Octavia looked up feeling quite shocked, the sight was almost enough to cure her hangover right then and there. Vinyl's eyes were an angry shade of red and barely any of the pupil remained, leaving the iris to almost dominate her eye, if it wasn't for the whites, she'd look quite demonic. “I wouldn't really know would I?” She finished, sounding quite serious.
Vinyl got up and left the room, leaving her sunglasses and a dumbfounded Octavia behind.
“What's her problem?” Applejack said, walking over.
Octavia groaned at her insensitivity, “She's visually impaired and I go around insulting her appearance. Stupid Octavia, now she'll hate you.”
Surprisingly, Applejack chuckled, “Ah know a fair bit about friendship, not as much as apples, but ah'm learnin'. You may have hurt her feelin's, but ponies don't hate other ponies for bein' insensitive, once she realises that your temper's just a li'l short 'cause of the hangover, she'll forgive ya.”
“I hope you're right, Applejack.”
“'Course ah am! It takes a stubborn mule of a pony not to learn something about friendship in this town. Now sugar cube, ah think you should take these here sunglasses to your friend and make your peace.”
Octavia smiled, for a farm pony, Applejack was pretty wise when she wanted to be. “Maybe I should let her cool off for a while first... and maybe I should eat this food before it cools off.”
“The clear headed approach, ah like it!” Applejack winked and went to leave the kitchen, but turned just at the door, “Ah'll go see if ah can knock some sense into that unicorn friend o' yours.”
“Thank you, Applejack. Although, I'd suggest not actually knocking sense into her, that might make her mad.” Octavia smiled and started eating her breakfast, it wasn't really that bad once she'd taken a few bites.
Octavia would find Vinyl Scratch in the barn, staring balefully at a gramophone. It was playing an upbeat tune, but the low quality of the equipment made it sound tinny and distant, Vinyl didn't seem to mind either way.
“Vinyl?” Octavia coughed politely to get her attention.
The music suddenly stopped, making a scratchy sound before cutting away, Octavia realised she must have been controlling the device with her magic. “Yeah?” Vinyl didn't bother to turn around.
Octavia took the chance to move a few steps closer, “I'm sorry about earlier, I just-”
“You just forgot, right?” Vinyl interrupted, “Yeah, it's easy to do that when it isn't you.”
The earth pony chanced another few steps, but her shame kept her silent.
“I can almost forget sometimes myself, then someone does something to throw it back in my face and I remember that yes, my eyes are fucked up beyond repair. It's just tough to face that again and again with the realisation that you'll never truly 'see' your friends or your loved ones.” Vinyl brought a hoof to her face, but Octavia couldn't see what she was doing, “I count my blessings every day that I was born a unicorn, that I can cope as well as I do because I have magic on my side. I'd hate to see what my life would be like if I were any different.” Vinyl let out a sound that was half-sob half-chuckle.
“None of that matters, Vinyl.” Octavia finally managed to say, it caught the unicorn off guard, enough for her to turn and face the earth pony. Octavia couldn't help but notice her eyes, it was clear that she had been crying, but her puffy bloodshot eyes only compounded the shock of seeing them. Taking a deep breath, Octavia ignored them, “You make beautiful music that thousands of ponies enjoy, you're a delightful pony to be around and...” Octavia stopped, searching her own feelings for the words she wanted to say, “You've pushed the boundaries of what I thought I could experience. I can truly call you my friend.”
Vinyl gave a quick laugh, wiping away a few final tears, “Thanks, Tavi. I think you're just the pony I need, someone level headed enough to help me through the rough patches. I thank you for that.”
Octavia smiled and rushed over, “You left these behind, I thought you might want them.” She pulled out Vinyl's sunglasses and offered them to her.
With a glow of blue tinted magic, the sunglasses rose and placed themselves on Vinyl's head, making her look like the pony she usually was. Vinyl even gave a little smile to show the earth pony that everything was right in the world again.
“Jus' hug already!”
The two ponies looked around to see Applejack watching them from the barn entrance, she was chuckling encouragingly.
With a laugh, Vinyl and Octavia embraced.
“Now, I'm not sure about you Vinyl, but I could go for a quiet day today.” Octavia said, letting go.
“We could always go and see Pinkie Pie, isn't that what you wanted to do?” Vinyl replied.
Applejack laughed, “Quiet an' Pinkie Pie don' mix.”
“I'm sure my presence will keep her passive. If there's one thing I've learned about my sister, it's that she'll go to great lengths in order to forget her childhood, I honestly don't blame her.” Octavia stood and started to walk towards the barn door, “Seeing me is like a big slap in the face, her reaction at the start of my welcome party is proof of that.”
“So we aren't going to see Pinkie Pie?” Vinyl asked, sounding confused.
“Oh, we are, I'm not going to waste this opportunity because of some childhood awkwardness.”
After saying goodbye to Applejack, and receiving a parting gift of apple based food stuffs, Octavia and Vinyl Scratch walked back into town, looking for the shop they had left the previous night.
Vinyl was leading the way, she at least had an idea of where to go. Rounding a corner, they came face to face with a mass of ponies blocking the entrance. A banner hung over the entrance of Sugar Cube Corner which read, 'Free taste test! Vote for your favourite muffin flavour!'
When Vinyl inquired as to why everyone was stuck outside, the general consensus seemed to be that a grey pegasus pony had took it upon herself to be the official muffin expert and demanded solitude to inspect the product. Vinyl, not one to be stalled by mere lines, told Octavia to follow her around to the back door, which was thankfully free of ponies. The door was open, letting out the most delicious smell of baked goods.
A pink head appeared in the doorway looking frazzled and sweaty, a pink body followed it as it collapsed onto the floor.
Vinyl trotted over, looking confused, “You okay, Pinkie?”
“I've been up since the break of dawn in a hot kitchen baking muffins, it's not as fun as it sounds.” It was the way of Pinkie, and as such said a lot about her in general, that these rare moments of clarity made it sound like there was something terribly wrong.
“I'm glad to see that you put an equal amount of passion into your job than you do your parties. Hard work was never a trait I associated with Pinkamena.” Octavia stepped forwards and gave her sister an encouraging smile.
Pinkie sprang up, all fatigue apparently forgotten, “Hiya Octy!”
“Still using that old nickname are we?” Octavia gave an embarrassed laugh.
“Still using my boring old real name?” Pinkie countered.
Octavia took this chance to voice something that had been bugging her since the party, "What's this I've been hearing about you calling yourself Pinkie Pie?"
"Just something I made up," The baker scratched her head, "Didn't want to tell Mr. and Mrs. Cake my real name, so I just said the first thing that came into my head. There was a pie on the counter."
The grey mare laughed, "Pie suits you." She gave an honest smile.
“I kinda like Pinkamena,” Vinyl said, suddenly interrupting the two, “It has a steampunk feel to it. Note to self, explore steampunk musically, enlist the help of Octavia.”
Octavia looked at her friend with a raised eyebrow, Pinkie stood next to her in the exact same pose, when Octavia turned back to the pink earth pony, she noticed what she was doing. “Stop copying me! That always annoyed me when we were young.”
Pinkie giggled and snorted, “It's just a bit of fun, Octy.”
Octavia sighed, “Yes, you're right, harmless fun. I guess I'm still a little nervous about being thrown into this reconciliation.” She gave Vinyl a sideways glance. “It truly is good to see you again though, Pinkie. We may not have gotten a chance to bond so well as kids, but your upbeat attitude and cheery disposition were nice to have in that dreary place.”
“If I made you smile, then that makes me smile!” As if to prove her point, Pinkie put on the biggest smile she could. “I should really get back to work though, those muffins won't bake themselves... or can they?” Pinkie left the other two with that final thought before disappearing into the kitchen.
“Not that I doubt my sister's ability as a baker, but should we get as far away from this place as possible?”
“Most certainly my good pony.” Vinyl raised an eyebrow, “I've had an idea anyway, make haste Octavia!” Vinyl began a quick trot away from Sugar Cube Corner, Octavia hot on her hooves.
“So what is this idea?” Octavia shouted, trying to keep up with Vinyl's pace.
“I feel kinda bad about the whole deception thing when I dragged you to Ponyville, so I thought I'd actually do something musical to make up for it. This is going to help with that.”
Octavia made an appreciative noise, 'So this is what Vinyl sounds like when she's working,' she thought. If it was going to help the music, then Octavia was ready to do whatever she needed to do.
What she didn't know however, was that Vinyl's idea took them to Carousel Boutique, a fashion shop not too far from the bakery. Rarity, the unicorn custodian, seemed positively delighted to help Vinyl achieve her vision, making complements and suggestions where needed. Vinyl had a flair for design it seemed.
Octavia was being used as a model, she didn't entirely appreciate being measured and scrutinised.
“What fantastic posture!” Rarity would exclaim, “You would be the perfect model for my winter collection. So dignified, so elegant.”
Whenever Octavia would ask what she was being measured for however, Vinyl and Rarity would look at one another and share a smile. This annoyed her more than anything else because it could mean a multitude of things, perhaps it was another one of Vinyl's delightful jokes, or maybe she was being serious and it would look great. Octavia wouldn't call it a lack of trust in the unicorn, but more an over-abundance of knowledge about her habits.
As Octavia waited for something to happen, she took the opportunity to inspect the store. Rarity definitely kept it clean, nothing was out of order and every piece of equipment or piece of clothing was pristine. The unicorn herself seemingly embodied this fact, keeping her mane elegantly curled and her coat gleaming. If Octavia used a little imagination, she could see a striking resemblance between Vinyl and Rarity, yes they were both white unicorns, but they held themselves with the same kind of pride. It was then that Octavia thought that whatever Rarity wanted to do, it would probably end up looking good, you don't gain that kind of confidence if you aren't skilled.
“Thank you for your patience, dear. Come back in an hour or so and I'll have the design ready for fitting.”
Octavia was glad for the opportunity to move without being whined at, “Why weren't you getting measured?” The grey mare asked, looking at Vinyl, “Surely if this is for the music then it shouldn't just be me.”
“I already have my outfit, I assumed because you're so inexperienced at the whole 'having a social life' thing, you wouldn't have the necessary tools. Besides, I've seen Rarity's work, it's always a winner.”
Octavia made for the exit, figuring her work was done for now, neither Rarity nor Vinyl made any attempt to stop her, so she kept on walking. As she exited the shop, Vinyl pulled up along side her, “So what should we do now?”
“I wouldn't mind getting something to eat.”
“Sounds good to me.”
Huzzah! We're back in action, notes for this chapter.
Applejack isn't any easier to write
Pinkie Pie is equally difficult to write, I just don't trust myself to capture her personality properly, so she didn't get much screen time. At least her and Octavia have reached a place where they could be friends again.
Rarity wasn't that bad to be honest, I kinda liked writing her.