3w, 3hChanges! 8 comments · 109 views
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59w, 2dUpdate and a question for all readers. 8 comments · 59 views
60w, 2dUpdate on Changes - Very short break, a week max hopefully. 3 comments · 49 views
62w, 14hLong over due update. 7 comments · 48 views
69w, 18hLast random Blog for while, due to Olympics 56 comments · 52 views
69w, 3dApparently I helped inspire music, and it's come just at the right time. 7 comments · 49 views
71w, 2dChanges and Pony Writing Month 52 comments · 56 views
75w, 15hStatus update on Changes 9 comments · 38 views
79w, 2dSlight delay on this week's update and a request 3 comments · 33 views
(Thank you all for the comments regarding the editing of the last chapter, hopefully this one's an improvement but please do keep berating me for any mistakes; it's the only way I can get better.)
It wasn’t unusual the morning after a gig for Vinyl to sleep right on through it. She would often wake up in the early afternoon, have a shower and then typically go foraging for food wherever she may find it. But occasionally she’d find that she wasn’t able to get comfortable; her sleep would be restless and she’d drift in and out of dreams. With a grunt of annoyance, the DJ brought her hooves to her eyes and rubbed at them, deciding she was having one of those mornings.
Although she was still tired, she just couldn’t get back into a restful state and so gave up; letting out a wide yawn and slowly rolling off the couch she was sprawled out on. The light streaming in from the large windows stung her eyes, and she cursed her lack of foresight at not closing them before she had fallen asleep the night before. With one eye closed, she glanced at the remaining ponies in the room and figuring they’d appreciate it themselves when they woke up she pulled the curtains to, a small parting being left to provide enough illumination.
She glanced towards the clock on one of the cabinets. It read nine thirty, enough time to have breakfast, but she didn’t want to have to wake the others if they needed more sleep. Lyra and Bon-Bon were still nestled on their couch together, not having moved much during the night except to huddle closer together. The cream mare snoozed softly and was nestled in-between the mint unicorn’s hooves, whose mane had stuck at odd angles thanks to the product she’d placed in it for the gig.
Vinyl smiled to herself at the scene, thinking they’d have probably been more comfortable in a bed but as long as they were with each other they’d probably find comfort on a cold, stone floor. She admitted to herself of being slightly envious of Lyra; Bon-Bon really was amazing at times, despite how frightening she could be at others.
The sound of a shifting pony quickly drew Vinyl’s attention away from her two oldest friends and towards her newest friend. The sleeping form of Octavia still remained on the other end of the couch she herself had been sleeping on, though the cellist now had one of the couch’s cushions gripped against her stomach as she lay on her side. Her mane, though still remarkably well kept, showed signs of a night’s sleep, the occasional lock of black hair having broken free from the rest of it.
Not a single noise escaped her as she snoozed on, the steady rising and falling of her ribs showing she was still in a deep sleep. It seemed to Vinyl that one would suspect Octavia of being a member of high society no matter what situation you caught her in. However, there was one thing that proved to be a stark contrast to that image, which Vinyl found incredibly amusing. She was drooling; quite profusely.
She had seen many ponies sleeping before, be it after a rave party in her youth or when she had to share rooms in hotels when impromptu bookings were made for her services at venues. But she’d never seen any of Canterlot’s elite sleeping. It only made it all the clearer to her that underneath the class and sophistication some ponies were born into that they were really just that; ponies.
After a moment or two of unintentional staring, Vinyl finally tore her attention away from the sleeping mare, choosing instead to make her way to the bathroom and tend to her morning routine. Whilst she was occupied, Octavia stirred once more, the sound of running water and the loss of weight on one side of the couch telling her that something was amiss. It took a few moments, but eventually she cracked an eye open, immediately worrying when she realised she wasn’t in her room.
Her head shot up, despite the protests from her muscles and it wasn’t until her eyes settled on Lyra and Bon-Bon after frantically scanning the room did she relax. It was then that she took stock of her own well being. The couch hadn’t been uncomfortable with the way she had settled on it, but it did little to alleviate the aches and pains she now felt from her activities the night before. All four of her legs throbbed as she stood; her right foreleg even more so when she lifted it to her mouth to rub away the dampness she felt on her muzzle.
When her mind caught up to her and told her what the dampness she felt could be, she immediately whirled around, eyes shrinking somewhat at the modest puddle of saliva that adorned the couch. “Oh, dear...” she said to herself, looking around the room for any tissues she could use to clean it up before somepony noticed.
Before long, Vinyl returned, the tips of her mane dripping. She stood silently once she returned to the living room, leaning against the wall with an eyebrow raised as Octavia repeatedly rubbed at the couch with her foreleg. The grey mare was obviously fretting and Vinyl knew why, but the scene was too amusing for her to speak up over it.
Eventually Octavia seemed satisfied with her cleaning and studied her hooves, realising she now had to wash them to get rid of the evidence. Her ears flicked, listening for the sound of the water that woke her and noticing that it was no longer running looked up and met eyes with Vinyl.
The two stood in silence, Octavia frozen to the spot, and Vinyl with a smirk on her face. After a reasonable amount of time for the cellist to feel uncomfortable, the white unicorn spoke. “Bathroom’s down the hall, same place it is in all our rooms. Don’t worry, I won’t tell... it’ll be our little secret.”
Though thankful that she wasn’t going to be ridiculed for it, she still didn’t like the fact that it was Vinyl of the three mares she’d befriended that discovered her little embarrassment. She simply nodded her head as she moved to pass Vinyl in the hallway, but commented before she entered the bathroom, “At least I don’t snore.”
Vinyl only laughed as a response, having been told repeatedly that she snores by Lyra throughout their entire time together at college. That said, she still would have preferred that she didn’t. Choosing to ignore Octavia for now, she decided on something much more fun to do. With half of the group awake she didn’t feel as guilty about waking the others up for breakfast, and so she sat her flank down in front of Lyra and Bon-Bon, a devilish smile on her face.
The two were still sleeping peacefully, unaware of whatever torment Vinyl was likely to inflict upon them. Inching her head closer towards Lyra’s lowered ear, the DJ licked her lips and in her softest voice spoke. “Lyyyyraaaa.” Lyra nuzzled her snout against Bon-Bon’s neck, who did nothing in response. “Lyraaaa,” the DJ tried again.
The mint unicorn stirred a little, holding Bon-Bon a little tighter towards her, her lips mumbling something. Untold amusement built up inside Vinyl, her tail twitching on the floor and hooves trembling as she tried to contain her laughter. “Lyraaa,” she called again, her voice not much more than a whisper.
“Bon-Bon...” Lyra eventually responded, eyes still closed and obviously not fully awoken. Vinyl grinned at the opportunity, words formulating in her mind and wondering what exactly she could get away with.
“I looove you, Lyraaa,” she whispered, waited, and then whispered it again when Lyra didn’t respond.
“Hmm... I love... you too...” the lyrist mumbled, placing a kiss upon Bon-Bon’s neck and then sinking back into her sleep.
“Do that thing I love, Lyra,” Vinyl spoke, wondering what secrets she might learn from her mischief. She’d learnt a vast number of things about Lyra and her quirks over the years, but not so much of Bon-Bon, and she’d figured now was a good a time as any to take advantage of the situation.
Nothing happened for a moment or two and the DJ mused that there was nothing to be learnt from such a request. But just as Vinyl was about to ask something else Lyra lifted her head, just enough so that she could take Bon-Bon’s ear inside her mouth and gently nibble on the end of it. The white unicorn had to stuff her hooves against her snout to stop herself from ruining the moment, her eyes watering at the effort that was going into not roaring out with laughter. She sputtered a few times, but was eventually able to pull herself together to try one more thing.
“I’m leaving you for Vinyl,” the DJ then said, realising she was pushing her luck but she’d had her fun for the morning and she wanted to go down for breakfast.
As the words left her, and Lyra heard them there was a moment’s delay, before Lyra’s eyes snapped open, mouth opening and ear vacating it. “Huh? Wait... what?!” she exclaimed, startling Bon-Bon out of her own slumber and leaving Vinyl in hysterics on the floor. When Lyra put two and two together she glared down at the DJ before smacking her in the face with a cushion, untangling herself from the confused Bon-Bon and finally getting to her hooves. “Very funny, Scratch.”
“You should have seen your face,” Vinyl chuckled, rolling over onto her front and slowly standing upright. “But don’t worry, Lyra,” she then said, surreptitiously levitating the cushion to cover the damp spot left by Octavia and then taking Lyra’s place on the couch, placing a leg over Bon-Bon’s shoulders as she did so. “Bonnie’s not going to leave you for me; she’s agreed to just see me on weekends.”
“What? But I-” Bon-Bon began, still groggy from the awakening she’d had.
“Yeah, you wish, Scratch,” was all Lyra came back with before she took stock of the room. Vinyl eventually let go of Bon-Bon who quickly descended from the couch to escape any more attempts of humour from the DJ. Her mane still had its curls from the night before, but they’d lost their spring, hanging limply in different directions.
“Where’s Octavia?” she asked after moving towards the mirror and noticing that she was missing.
“She’s in the bathroom cleaning up... and probably brushing her hair,” Vinyl offered, enjoying the warmth on the couch and choosing to stay where she sat. “She must brush it every day to keep it that straight.”
“Most ponies brush their mane’s, Scratch,” Lyra deadpanned, moving to stand besides Bon-Bon, her horn lighting up and picking up a brush with which she attempted to provide some sort of neatness to her own mane. “Just because you’re allergic to a brush doesn’t mean everypony else is.”
“My mane suits me just fine,” the DJ retorted, running her hoof through it for added emphasis as Lyra’s reflection watched her. “No one’s ever complained about it before and it’s so easy to manage, I just wake up and give it a bit of a shake. And I’m ready to seize the day!”
“Well I bet you’d look just lovely with a straight mane, Vinyl,” Bon-Bon replied, taking the brush from Lyra once she was done and beginning work on her own. She’d have to visit the salon when she got back to Ponyville but for the moment she would be satisfied with getting most of the curls combed in with the rest of her mane. “Maybe you could come with me to get my hair done; we’ll make a day out of it.”
“I’ll pass, Bonnie, but thanks for the offer; nopony’s touching this mane but me,” the DJ finished with a friendly tone of finality. Lyra just rolled her eyes but left it at that whilst Bon-Bon finished brushing her mane. It was at that point Octavia rejoined them, and as Vinyl had suspected, her mane was once again in pristine order.
“Good morning, everypony,” she called as she entered the room, her eyes looking towards the cushion that now covered the mess she had made and then towards Vinyl, who only looked back at her with a knowing smile.
“Morning, Octavia,” Bon-Bon happily replied, placing the brush back down on the table and turning to greet her. “So, did you have fun last night?” she then asked, receiving a thoughtful expression from the cellist in return.
“Well, I spend hours stood upright on my rear legs but I’ve never felt as sore as I do today... but yes, it was rather enjoyable. It was definitely an experience,” the cellist replied with a smile.
“Oh don’t worry about that, Octy, you’ll soon get used to it. The next time it won’t feel so bad.”
“There won’t be a next time for quite a while, Vinyl,” Octavia replied, not noticing the slightly disappointed look that flashed across Vinyl’s features. “Perhaps in the future, but I need time to recover from such an event... maybe a long soak in a bath will relieve me of some of these pains.”
“I know some good bath salts for aches,” Bon-Bon chipped in, further dampening the chances of bringing the conversation back towards the night before and Vinyl’s favourite topic. “I used to use them all the time when I first started dating Lyra; it was a nightmare trying to keep up with her. I’m just glad she started to slow down as time went on.”
“Well you can’t practice the lyre much when you’re out all night listening to club music... your attempts at getting me to stay over at your place with promises of your cooking helped too.” Lyra grinned, giving Bon-Bon a playful nudge before Vinyl finally hopped off from the couch.
“That was when she stole you from me; we were such a good team!” Vinyl mock lamented, and then looked down towards her stomach as it growled. “But talking of cooking, I’m starved, let’s go get some breakfast.” Her horn glowed and her glasses, once more to the continued annoyance of Lyra, floated back into place over her eyes, her satchel floating to her side along with them.
“That doesn’t sound like a bad idea,” Octavia agreed, fastening her bag around her side and moving towards the door along with Vinyl, whilst Lyra and Bon-Bon picked up their own gear and followed along behind them.
Most of the ponies in the hotel were beginning to pack away their things. The convention wasn’t a very long affair, only lasting three days before ending and those that had ran out of wares to sell or bits to spend were deciding on leaving early. As such, there was much more room to meander the halls as a group. The four mares still had several hours after breakfast before they had to make their own preparations for leaving so they decided on spending it together, shopping amongst what was left.
“So, has anypony seen Princess Luna yet?” Vinyl enquired as she looked over a table full of dusty, old records. Most of the albums on display were nothing special, typical of most ponies’ collections, but she had discovered that it was always worth a look; one would never know when a gem was hidden away amongst the drab.
“She never passed my booth whilst I was selling,” Lyra replied, not paying a great deal of attention as she perused an assortment of instrument cases with Bon-Bon, wondering if any of them would suit her lyre. She’d been looking for accessories for her instrument of choice, but found that there weren’t a great deal of merchandise for her to spend her bits on.
Octavia was nearby, handing over a few bits to an elderly mare that proceeded to hand over a notebook of sorts, the front of which had an image of a treble cleft. It was clear that it was just a simple notebook, one for penning in musical compositions, but since it had her cutie mark on its surface the cellist deemed it worthy of purchase. It wasn’t until Vinyl yelled her name and brought her attention back to the group did Octavia speak. “Oh, my apologies, could you repeat the question?”
“I said has anypony seen the Princess?” Vinyl asked once more, a blank look on her face. It was difficult for Octavia to read the DJ. The glasses on her head made it next to impossible to tell what the mare was thinking unless she had some form of a smile on her face. Without that Vinyl Scratch was a mystery to anypony.
“She was at the concert the other day,” the grey mare replied, trotting over to stand with the three, “in the royal box along with Princess Celestia. Celestia has always enjoyed listening to us perform and from the... loud exclamations of approval, so did Princess Luna.”
“Such a shame, I was hoping Luna was going to be a cool princess,” Vinyl mused, moving on from the record stand and trying to find another table to interest her.
“Well I wouldn’t say she’s a lost cause to you yet, Vinyl. From her conversations with Celestia pretty much everypony in the room heard she liked the sound of jazz... Jazz is ‘cool’, isn’t it?” Octavia enquired, earning a glance from Vinyl.
“Well... I suppose it is, depends on who’s playing it. I guess the princesses aren’t as stuffy as they could be. They certainly enjoyed themselves at the wedding party; they were both dancing at least.”
“I still can’t believe you were there and I wasn’t...,” Octavia sulked, unaware of the grin that now adorned Vinyl’s face.
“Lyra and Bon-Bon were there too...”
“And Lyra was one of Princess Cadance’s bridesmaids.”
“What?!” Octavia exclaimed louder, a few ponies looking towards her to see what was happening.
“Yeah... I still don’t know how you managed that, Lyra.” Vinyl then turned towards the green unicorn, who was trying to silently slip away with Bon-Bon before being brought into it.
“Oh... I... er... she took pity on me after she got me out of that pit under Canterlot... and let me stay a bridesmaid,” she answered, shrugging her shoulders and hoping her answer would placate Octavia. It didn’t. “I didn’t even get to catch the bouquet?” she offered, wondering if that would do it instead. It didn’t.
“You wanted to catch the bouquet, huh?” Bon-Bon asked with a smile, prodding Lyra in the ribs with a foreleg, succeeding in distracting Octavia’s attention for a moment; if only to watch the colour of Lyra’s face go from green to a bright pink.
“You wanting to share something with us there, Lyra?” Vinyl asked, a grin breaking out on her face, never missing the opportunity to make Lyra feel uncomfortable.
Lyra’s eyes shifted back and forth, looking at all three of them. She babbled for a moment or two before shouting, “Oh, look, music book stands, I need one of those!” and quickly taking off towards the other end of the hall.
“Lyra, come back!” Bon-Bon called, that same smile still on her face as she gave chase, leaving a perplexed Octavia with Vinyl.
“They do this sometimes,” Vinyl explained, moving closer towards the cellist and rearing up on her hind legs to place an arm around her. “And don’t worry about the wedding, you should be glad you weren’t there, you’d have ended up stuck to the floor in green goo. It was disgusting.”
“I was still in Canterlot at the time,” Octavia replied, extraditing herself from Vinyl’s grip. “The changelings attacked my apartment building too... I smashed my favourite cello over the one that tried to take me and tied it up with the strings.” And with that she walked away, meandering between the stalls in the general direction of Lyra and Bon-Bon, leaving Vinyl to stare at her in awe.
“Wow... remind me never to get on Octy’s bad side...”
The day progressed quite quickly for the four mares. They had spent the remainder of the morning joining in with the rest of the convention’s activities before heading into the streets of Canterlot for lunch. Deciding that they’d had enough of the hotel afterwards, they stayed outside, browsing the many stores that were on offer. Vinyl spent an exorbitant amount of time in an electronics store and had to be dragged out by her tail, whilst the same could be said for Bon-Bon in Hoity Toity’s fashion emporium.
It was only after the shadows of the buildings grew long and the temperature began to cool did they think about returning. Bon-Bon and Lyra’s train for Ponyville departed at six pm and they had plenty of things to pack before they could leave. Despite Lyra’s refusal, Vinyl insisted that she hire them a carriage to the train station, the number of bags Bon-Bon now had far too many for any two ponies to carry alone.
The four stood at the bottom of the hotel entrance’s staircase as two stallions packed the bags into the rear of the carriage, whilst a teary eyed Bon-Bon clung to Vinyl’s neck as if she’d never see the DJ ever again. “Promise me you’ll come and visit us more often,” she cried whilst Lyra looked on into the distance, seemingly not wanting to be involved.
“Bonnie, it’s not like you’re moving to a different country, we live in the same town,” Vinyl tried to tell her, her arms attempting to pry the cream mare away from her. “You’re not going to let go until I promise, are you?”
Vinyl sighed. “Fine, I promise. I’ll come visit you as soon as I’m done with my next gig. I’m due a vacation anyway. Is that alright?”
“That’s wonderful, just be sure to let me know ahead of time so I can go shopping, I’ll get you everything for your favourite meals.” Bon-Bon beamed, finally letting Vinyl go and stepping back. “And you’ll be coming too, Octavia?”
The question startled the cellist, who wasn’t expecting to be addressed in the same farewell to Vinyl. She quickly nodded her head, not wanting to be subject to the iron grip Bon-Bon seemed to possess. “Most definitely, I’m not sure when but I do intend to visit you and your town, it sounds very peaceful. And if you or Lyra would like to come back to Canterlot for any reason then please let me know, I’ll make sure you get the best of accommodations and reservations for anywhere you want to visit. If you’d like tickets to one of the Orchestra’s concerts too just send me a letter.”
“We’re all packed up, ma’am,” the voice of one of the stallions announced, drawing the mares’ attention for a moment before they resumed their farewells.
“It was good seeing you again, Scratch,” Lyra muttered, standing just to the side of the DJ with an uncomfortable stance.
Vinyl stood in much the same way, once again thankful of her glasses. “Yeah... we need to meet up again soon. It felt just like old times...” An awkward silence followed, before they quickly gave each other a hug and separated. Octavia swore that if she’d blinked she would have missed it.
“They don’t do goodbyes to each other too well,” Bon-Bon explained as she gave Octavia a hug too before stepping back and moving towards the carriage, one of the stallions holding the door open for her to enter.
“It was a pleasure meeting you, Octavia,” Lyra then spoke up, moving from Vinyl to give Octavia a hug in much the same way Bon-Bon did. “I’d love to get together with you and play some music; it’d be fun to see who’s the better musician.” She smirked after letting go and giving the cellist a wink.
“I’m sure it can be arranged,” Octavia smiled back in return. “I may bring my cello with me when I visit and we can have a competition. And who knows, if you beat me I may even put in a good word to the Orchestra’s casting agents.”
“Don’t tease me,” Lyra laughed before joining Bon-Bon in the carriage. The stallions then hooked themselves up to the front, and with Bon-Bon and Lyra waving from the windows, drew them away from the hotel, leaving Vinyl and Octavia waving back to them until they turned a corner.
The two stood there for a moment in silence, still looking at where the couple had disappeared, until a quiet sniffle drew Octavia’s attention to Vinyl. The DJ showed no signs of the noise, however, she simply stood there with a stoic expression and then turned her head to meet Octavia’s gaze. “Are you alright?” the cellist asked.
“Who, me? Of course I am.” Vinyl replied, forcing a grin onto her face and then turning around to face the hotel. “But we’ve got our own stuff to pack and we’ve only got an hour to check out. C’mon, let’s get going.” And with that she walked away, leaving Octavia to catch up.
The earth pony didn’t reach Vinyl until the latter had reached the elevator, the button already pressed and the doors open for occupants. “I take it you wanted them to stay?” Octavia hazarded a guess, stepping into the elevator with Vinyl and waiting in silence for a response.
One didn’t come immediately, but after a few awkward moments had passed Vinyl responded. “I just don’t get to see them very often, that’s all. But don’t worry, like I said, I’m fine. So, where are you off to after here?” Vinyl asked.
Octavia knew she was changing the subject, but having not known the DJ for very long she didn’t feel right in prying into whatever feelings Vinyl was experiencing at the moment. “No where really, just home. I live in the centre of Canterlot, it’s not too far. It’s an apartment building with some lovely views over the mountain side. You can see Ponyville from my music room actually.”
“Your music room?”
“Yes, it’s where I keep all of my instruments. Mostly strings, Violins, the Double Bass, I think I have a lyre somewhere too. The window provides such a lovely scene to give musical inspiration.”
“Sounds like your apartment is pretty big.”
“Not more so than most.” Octavia pondered, counting with her hoof as she began to list the rooms she had. “It’s got a kitchen, a master bedroom and a guest room, a bathroom, a living space and of course my music room... oh, and a cloak room. Nothing fancy really.”
“...Octy, that’s the fanciest apartment in Canterlot I’ve heard of in a long time. It’s Equestria’s capital for Celestia’s sake, that place must cost you a fortune.”
“I never really thought about it... I don’t like talking about my success but I suppose I’ve been quite triumphant in the music business.”
“It certainly sounds like it,” the DJ replied, stepping out of the elevator when it reached their floor and waiting for Octavia to join her. “I don’t really have much to pack, just a small bag with a few necessities, do you need any help?” She offered, looking towards the cellist as they made their way to their rooms.
“Oh no, I travelled light. I only have the case for my contact lenses and a travel bag; I made arrangements for my cello to be taken back to my apartment.” Octavia replied, fishing her room key out of her satchel and stopping in front of her door.
Vinyl did the same but she didn’t open hers immediately. Instead she turned around, her key floating in the air beside her with her magic, and gave the grey mare a smile. “Say... you don’t have to be somewhere tomorrow, do you?”
“No place that I can recall, why?” Octavia replied, quirking an eyebrow in the process.
“Well, I’m supposed to be meeting up with Opel tomorrow night for dinner to discuss where I’m going next. She’s booked an event for me in Las Pegasus, but... that means my morning tomorrow is completely free and I think I’d like to go out for a drink tonight. Would you care to join me?”
“Go out for a drink... together?” Octavia replied as an unsure expression and fidgeting hooves took over her body.
“Sure, why not? We can get to know each other a little more and I promise not to take you to any clubs. We can be just two friends going to a bar after work to wind down. This whole convention was technically part of my work and your concert was work for you.” Vinyl pushed, trying to goad the cellist into agreeing.
“I don’t know... I probably shouldn’t.” Octavia resisted, Bon-Bon’s words coming flying back into her mind.
“C’mon, it’s not like I’m asking you out on a date , Octy, I just want a drink and drinking’s always better when you’re with somepony else,” the DJ attempted once more, giving Octavia a soft nudge with her knee.
“Oh, alright, fine, just a drink,” Octavia finally relented, taking Vinyl’s words of ‘not asking her out on a date’ at face value. “But just a couple, I don’t drink much and I find that it discourages me from drinking even more if I end up regretting it the next day.”
“Everypony says that, Octy,” Vinyl smirked, opening up her door to collect her things. She didn’t even enter the room, her horn simply lighting up and levitating everything she wanted to take with her out into the hallway and into her bag. “We’ll just take it slow... and if we’re up all night, who’s going to complain?”
“My head the following morning,” Octavia dryly replied as she opened with a click, revealing a neatly packed bag by the doorway.
“Wow... you’re organised,” Vinyl commented as Octavia picked it up and closed the door.
“It’s always packed in case I need to leave in an emergency.”
“But what if you need... stuff?”
“Then I take the ‘stuff’ out when I need it and put it back when I’m done.”
“Right... whatever,” Vinyl shrugged, turning to walk down the hallway and back towards the elevator. “Now c’mon, Octy, we’re hitting the town and painting it red, Vinyl Scratch style!”
Octavia watched her walk away and lowered her head towards the floor. “I’m going to regret this, aren’t I?” she muttered to herself before slinging her bag around her neck and begrudgingly following along.