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Octavia felt more than a little ridiculous wearing the university designed saddle. She’d so far resisted the urge to refer to herself as a walking billboard, but only out of respect for Vinyl. The unicorn was very insistent that she wear it for some reason.
It wasn’t the style that was the problem, for it was quite a cute thing that rode nicely on her flank, but rather the big ‘WMU’ on the side. Octavia tried not to be as fussy about fashion as her mother had been, but honestly, who wants to wear words on their clothes? The whole point of wearing things was to make a visually engaging statement, and having letters just seemed redundant.
Regardless of her true feelings, the cellist maintained a pleasantly unconcerned demeanour as she accompanied Vinyl into the empty classroom.
“What exactly will I be doing?”
“Um,” the DJ scratched the back of her head, “Standing still, I guess. Think you’re up to it?”
The first pony other than them to arrive was the teacher, a mare with a pale green coat and grey, distinguished hair. She gave the pair a friendly smile and had a decidedly easygoing air about her. “Hello Vinyl. And you must be the mare we’ve heard so much about?”
“It would appear so.” Octavia glanced at Vinyl, wondering what exactly ‘so much’ entailed.
The teacher also possessed a remarkable ability to sense her thoughts. “That was a joke, dear. Vinyl hasn’t told us anything about you. I see that you will certainly meet our needs, however. It’s been a while since we’ve practiced on models who actually live up to their title.”
The cellist smiled and tipped her head gracefully. “You flatter me. I’m just happy to be of assistance.”
“You remind me of my niece. So polite, that one. Oh, but I’ll have to insist that you take that saddle off. We’re studying the body, not the clothes.”
Inwardly sighing in relief, Octavia slipped the saddle off and deposited it on a table. Vinyl’s mouth opened as if to interject, but before she could say anything, the rest of the class arrived en masse. The DJ slipped away to a desk far away from the grey mare, and began to unpack her equipment.
It felt somewhat awkward standing at the front of the class beside the teacher. For a brief, surreal moment, she thought it was high school once again, and she was being called upon to give a speech for which she had not prepared. Shaking her head to gain freedom from those thoughts, she smirked slightly. Unprepared for a speech? Now that was surreal.
“Alright, class, as I told you last week, we’re going to practice drawing correctly-proportioned ponies.” The teacher raised a hoof towards the cellist. “Assisting us today is the beautiful… I’m sorry, I don’t think I caught your name?”
“The fault is mine; I didn’t introduce myself. My name is Octavia.”
A few murmurs passed through the class, and most of the stallions sat up straighter, suddenly very keen on paying attention. Vinyl rolled her eyes as Shady followed suit. “Careful, your eyes are gonna fall out if you stare any harder,” she whispered, earning the satisfaction of seeing him become aware of his behaviour.
“Hey, I have no control over my eyes, dude. They go where they want, and right now they want some of that flank, know what I’m saying?” he hissed back, grinning madly.
Oh, you have no idea. And neither do I.
“You’re such a perv.”
“You’re such a prude.”
Vinyl snorted at that, and soon both of them were muffling their laughter. It was a good few minutes before they realised that the class had begun sketching, and they quickly got to work. Octavia looked slightly uncomfortable standing alone now that the teacher had sat down at her desk, yet she managed to remain completely motionless.
A more interesting subject Vinyl had never experienced. Three glowing pencils drew at the same time on her sheet, each at different pressures and angles, carving a monochrome cellist out of reality. Caught in an explosion of light that seemed to permeate and enhance her like sunlight shining upon clouds, her little Octavia seemed more real than the classroom around her.
The mare herself noticed that the ponies were slowly turning, one by one, to look back at the DJ, who was feverishly scratching at the paper with several white-hazed pencils. Octavia had never seen Vinyl so completely absorbed in something before. It was truly a new perspective.
Eventually, even the teacher ambled on over to her desk and peeked at the work. As much as she hated to interrupt, it was unavoidable. “Um, Vinyl, sorry dear, the sketch is supposed to be realistic.”
The white unicorn frowned and the pencils paused mid-stroke. She picked up the page and held it aloft, comparing the subject with her work. “What are you talking about? It looks exactly like her.”
Octavia desperately wanted to charge over and snatch the paper for herself, but she resisted the urge and focused on staying still.
“It’s a little bit, er, impressionistic.”
“What? How?” Vinyl asked defensively.
“Um…” the teacher leaned down so she couldn’t be overheard. “Well, to my eyes, Octavia doesn’t seem to be glowing with ethereal light. I think you might be having the artistic version of a… Freudian slip.”
The cellist saw Vinyl’s eyes widen in response to the mare’s whispers, and a dark blush flooded her white cheeks in a most fascinating way.
What in Equestria is she embarrassed about? Did she make a mistake?
The DJ closed her notepad and began packing up, accompanied by a chorus of disappointed groans as the rest of the class was denied a chance to go over her work. The teacher didn’t ask why, nor did she try to stop her. Instead, she returned to the front of the class and drew attention away from Vinyl by discussing how to position cutie marks correctly.
Octavia tried to catch the unicorn’s eye, but she seemed to look everywhere but her. In moments, she swept out the door, blue hair bobbing.
Trapped under the gaze of a dozen students, there was nothing she could do until the class ended.
“Take note of how her cutie mark is in the centre of each flank, and be careful when drawing the treble clef. Those of you who haven’t studied music might find it-“
“Oh!” exclaimed the dark brown stallion who had sat beside Vinyl. All attention turned to him and he quickly stammered an explanation. “Uh, I just realised what I was doing wrong.” A few sniggers was all the social punishment he received for interrupting the teacher, and he quickly returned to staring at the cellist’s cutie mark.
It was slightly more humiliating than she had expected. Perhaps that was why Vinyl had tried to make her wear the saddle; it covered that area rather well.
So many questions! She hoped her DJ friend was up for a very long phone call tonight. Granted, she would be tired. Vinyl had her Musical Theory class straight after Drawing. Well, tomorrow they would definitely get to chat. Friday was Psych day, and they would be putting their new tactic into action.
After that, Vinyl would have to face the music.
Psych patrolled the front of the class, wild red mane and tail bobbing with energy.
“Wow!” he exclaimed.
A few moments passed as he continued to pace.
“Wow!” he said again. “I mean, can you believe it? We’re already in week five! I don’t know about you lot, but I feel like we’ve really bonded over the last few classes. Especially our favourite pair!”
Instantly, all eyes snapped to both mares, who sat on opposite sides of the class as usual. They didn’t even open their mouths, showing no reaction.
Psych raised an eyebrow and gave it another shot. “So how was the movie?” Again, no visible sign that they even heard him. Finding no entertainment in silence, the tutor cut his losses. “Alright, let’s just move on. Now, the next assignment,” he launched into a list of what was expected, and the ponies quickly began writing, all thoughts of the two mares forgotten.
From across the classroom, Vinyl desperately wanted to wink or smirk at Octavia in celebration of their apparent success, but she knew it could cost them dearly if somepony noticed.
For though the majority of the class was focused on writing, one particular unicorn (who happened to have a lyre on her flank) didn’t take her eyes off the DJ for a moment. Her left eye was darkened by bruising, giving her quite a terrifying scowl. Interestingly, Bonbon sat at a different table today, and winced every time her left forehoof touched something.
With no long-winded arguments to extend the class, it lasted barely another twenty minutes before Psych reluctantly let everypony go.
“Sorry everypony! I guess I started planning these things around their arguments and now they’re clearly conspiring together to disrupt my class.” He looked between the two quickly. “No? Alright fine, same time next week everypony.” Surprisingly, he actually seemed a bit confused by their tactic.
As they dispersed, Vinyl took her usual path up the hill back towards the main court. Octavia suppressed the urge to catch up and begin interrogating the DJ. She had waited all day for this; she could wait a few minutes longer.
Unfortunately, that insufferable green unicorn was going the same way, glaring at Vinyl from behind. With her in the way, there was no way Octavia would be able to speak to Vinyl in private. Lyra seemed intent on not letting the DJ out of her sight.
With no other options, the cellist resigned herself to trying a late-night conversation. It irked her that things kept obstructing her righteous questioning, but she kept calm and changed course, heading back to her flat.
So help her, if Vinyl didn’t answer the phone…
It was only midnight, but Octavia couldn’t wait any longer. She had never realised just how boring being alone was. It was so quiet! More than once she wished she could hear Vinyl snorting back a laugh, or speaking loudly and giggling between words like she did when she was feeling playful. She’d sometimes wave her hooves around excitedly when ideas occurred to her, or when the cellist confessed she hadn’t listened to certain artists.
“You’re joking, right?” she’d say, the raising of her eyebrows indicating that her eyes were wide behind the glasses.
“Not in the slightest. I told you I don’t listen to much of that… dubstep,” Octavia would reply, further inciting shocked reactions from Vinyl.
“But it’s the greatest kind of music ever-“
“Hey? Hello? Yo, Octavia, are you there or what?”
Snapping out of her daze, she quickly remembered what she was doing.
“Oh, hello Vinyl. Sorry, I was distracted.”
“All good. What’s up?”
For a moment, her mind blanked. What was so important again? There was a muffled crunching from the other end, meaning Vinyl was having a midnight snack. She always ate like a pig and still managed to stay at the perfect weight. Maybe she should ask her how she does it?
“How are you not fat?”
Octavia reddened and mentally kicked herself. “I’m sorry, ignore that. I keep getting distracted tonight!”
After a moment, during which Vinyl was probably weighing whether to investigate further, the crunching resumed. “No worries, I guess.”
“Um, what I did want to talk about was the Drawing class.”
The crunching slowed slightly. “Yeah?” The DJ’s voice sounded cautious.
“I was wondering why you ran out halfway through the lesson.”
“I was… done.”
“Done. Finished the sketch and the dude let me go.”
“Oh.” That’s it? She just finished early? But that didn’t explain her avoidance of the cellist. Although, did she really avoid her? Or am I just so needy that I require attention at all times?
“Yup.” The earth pony was slightly startled until she realised that the DJ could not, in fact, read minds, and was instead trying to continue the conversation.
“I suppose with that out of the way, what are you doing tomorrow?”
“Uh, I got a whole heap of stuff lined up this weekend. I don’t think we’ll have time to chill until Monday.”
Octavia couldn’t help but feel slightly hurt, but she did her best to squash the feeling. “That’s okay. However, we both have two lectures on Monday. There’s no way we’ll have time to… to talk and do what we normally do," she trailed off.
“Hey, this is totally off-topic, but did you know that lectures aren’t compulsory? They actually record them so students can listen to them later.”
“I… I do know that, yes, but considering I live on campus, I don’t really have an excuse to miss them.”
Vinyl chuckled lightly. “I’m glad to hear that. So, by the time your second lecture ends it’ll be, like, midday right?”
The cellist wasn’t sure how any of this was relevant. “Yes, that’s correct.”
“And your first lecture starts at eight thirty?”
“What do you do during the break between lectures?”
“I’m not sure where you’re going with this, but usually I’ll get something to eat and study in the library.” Now she was really confused.
“Uh-huh… alright, that works out awesomely! I promise you Octavia, we’ll find time to chill on Monday.” Vinyl giggled a bit, but seemed to try and control herself.
“You’re being very strange tonight. Have… have you been drinking?” the cellist asked warily.
“What? No! But that does give me an idea… Sorry babe, I gotta go. Later!” With a click, Octavia was alone again.
No doubt Vinyl was off to a bar to get extremely drunk for no discernable reason. That was one activity that they would never share. Hiding behind her age might work now, but that would change in a few weeks’ time. Then… well, she’d cross that bridge when she came to it. It would be tough-
Wait, did Vinyl just call me babe?
Octavia almost squealed.
My first nickname!
No references... probably.
Also, check out the sexy new cover art!