The streets had grown darker still. Celestia’s sun had long since vanished beneath the horizon and Luna’s stars were free to sparkle within the night sky without being hidden behind the sun’s light. It had also grown a little chilly, or so Octavia thought as she watched her breath wisp away in front of her as she cantered out of the building.
She remembered the weather report calling for clear skies that evening and the lack of clouds was doing little to keep the heat in. Autumn was quickly descending on Equestria with the last days of summer coming to an end and she found herself wondering when she should begin looking for her scarf again.
She soon dismissed such rambling thoughts as she caught sight of Vinyl waiting nearby, the DJ leaning against a lamp post and tapping a hoof on the ground. “C’mon, Octy, get your flank moving, we’re wasting valuable club time here.” The sound of Vinyl’s voice carried far, and Octavia found herself wincing at the thought of someone she knew hearing it.
“There’s no need to shout,” she calmly replied, tail flicking with indignation as she trotted over to join her. Vinyl simply smiled and turned to walk away and left Octavia in silence as the cellist fell into step beside her. The silence remained as Vinyl continued to lead them both further away from Octavia’s most frequented drinking establishment, but thankfully she didn’t seem to be leading them towards any unsavoury areas.
“I’ve never really been to a club before,” Octavia began, hoping that Vinyl wasn’t going to be taking her someplace she’d regret, “are they... safe?”
A snorted laugh came as a reply to which Octavia narrowed her eyes at. Once Vinyl noticed, however, she corrected herself and answered properly. “They’re safe, bouncers at the doors and inside the bar stop anypony from causing too much trouble. And besides, you’re with me; nopony would dare start something if I’m around. Don’t you worry about a thing, Octy, I have everything in hoof.”
“That’s exactly what worries me,” Octavia muttered under her breath and they continued on, momentarily content to let the conversation die. Though the silence wasn’t awkward, Octavia still felt the need to talk, however, and she soon found her thoughts drifting back to their conversation in the lounge. After a moment or two she couldn’t help but ask the question burning in her mind.
“So... you and Lyra?”
Vinyl had expected the question. She’d never tried to hide her past from anypony. She’d been quite open about her life and her upbringing, almost every interview she had done had asked those sorts of question and she’d been encouraged by Opel to answer them. But most of her life that had been shared with Bon-Bon and Lyra was only known between them and their friends; she’d been reluctant to spill anything to the public at large lest unwanted attention was thrust upon the couple. However, with each moment spent with Octavia, Vinyl was growing more and more comfortable with her and so didn’t mind divulging her personal life.
“We didn’t take it seriously but we gave it a shot at dating when we first arrived at college. We shared a room, so it seemed like a good idea at the time,” Vinyl eventually explained after taking a moment or two to consider her response.
The sounds of the city around them were quietening down as many ponies returned to their homes to sleep. Only those that were planning on enjoying the evening or starting their nightshifts were walking the streets. Vinyl watched as a pair of guards were relieved and replaced with the night guard before she was brought back to attention by Octavia.
“Well I don’t mean to pry... but it does seem like you both ended it pretty well with each other,” Octavia spoke, She was still feeling reluctant about following Vinyl to whatever club the mare wanted to take them to, but she had to admit to herself that there was a thrill to doing something new and different that she hadn’t felt for quite some time.
“Oh yeah, we realised quite early on that there was something missing. Sure, we went on a few dates, romantic dinners and the like, even fooled around a little... but I think we both just realised that although we loved each other, it wasn’t really the type of love you feel for that special somepony, it was really more like sisterly love. I’d do anything for her, and she’d do anything for me, but as you can see from Lyra now, there are other ponies out there that we’re meant for.”
“Well I’m glad you both were mature enough to see it that way. If you hadn’t then I wouldn’t have made such... interesting friends.”
“You think we’re friends?” The question hung in the air after Vinyl asked it, the DJ looking at Octavia with a raised eyebrow. “We’ve only just met.”
“Well yes... but I... ” Octavia wasn’t sure on how to reply to the question. She wondered if she had been too presumptuous in thinking that she could call Vinyl a friend. After Lyra and Bon-Bon had left she thought that she’d made that relationship with them, backed up by the invitation to visit them at their home. But had she over stepped the mark with assuming Vinyl was the same?
“It’s just, I thought-” she began once more, hoping she could save whatever was left of the friendship she’d thought she made with Vinyl. However, she was interrupted by a foreleg that was suddenly wrapped around her shoulder’s, pulling her close against the white unicorn.
“I was teasing you, dummy,” Vinyl laughed, hobbling along with three legs and using Octavia as support. “If I’d known you were going to have a mini freak out session on me then I wouldn’t have done it. Of course we’re friends, I’ll need a place to stay tonight after all and you mentioned you had a guest room. Can’t very well ditch you before I get a good night’s sleep, can I?”
“Well for that tasteless joke you can have the couch,” Octavia huffed, giving Vinyl a shove with her hips that caused the unicorn to relinquish her grip lest she topple over.
“Aww, c’mon, Octy.” Vinyl watched as the grey mare trotted ahead, a slight feeling of guilt creeping into her. “I do that kind of stuff all the time... don’t make me sleep on the couch, it won’t be comfy.” The unicorn quickly caught up, turning around to face Octavia and walking backwards as she smiled. “I’ll teach you how to dance?”
“I can dance just fine, thank you,” Octavia snapped, which only fuelled Vinyl’s amusement.
“That’s not what I saw last night; you didn’t know which way to move your body.”
“What you and I call dancing are two completely different things, Vinyl. And do watch where you’re going,” she sighed, her irritation fizzling out as she brought a hoof up to nudge Vinyl out of the way of a lamppost that she would have otherwise backed into. “And I’ll have you know that my couch is perfectly comfortable.”
“Why, have you slept on it before?”
“I have once or twice when I’ve dozed off, yes.”
There was silence for a moment, the two continuing on in the direction that Vinyl had set them; sounds of music could barely be heard from in the distance. “Then I don’t want to sleep on it, you might have drooled all over it.” It took a moment for Vinyl’s statement to sink in but when it did, and Octavia’s face began to feel that all too increasingly familiar burn of embarrassment, the DJ was already galloping ahead, laughing all the way.
“Vinyl!” Octavia chased after her, the sounds of her hooves clopping loudly against the stone walkways and echoing between the buildings. The number of other ponies on the street had diminished further still, most ponies out and about now sticking to the night’s hot spots. It wasn’t until she unknowingly began to approach one of these hotspots did the cellist begin to catch up to Vinyl, the unicorn slowing down.
She wasn’t quite sure what she was going to do when she caught the DJ, more to likely give her a verbal lashing than physically hurt her. But she was stopped from doing either as she noted the groups of ponies meandering the streets, some of them looking at her as she ran. By the time she reached Vinyl - who was once again waiting and smiling at her with the smug grin that was beginning to be as much as an annoyance to her as it was Lyra - there were ponies everywhere.
“Now, now, Octy, control your temper, we’re in the public eye now.” Octavia looked around her, the streets suddenly brighter and livelier than the ones she’d been running down only moments before. Bright neon lights adorned almost every building; some flashing whilst other’s simply burned their images into the mare’s retinas by their shear ostentatiousness.
Music was being pumped in almost every one of the buildings, which clashed and mixed badly with each other once it got out on to the streets. Octavia couldn’t understand a word of what was being sung, or catch on to any form of musical rhythm other than the deep repeated thump of what she’d learned was bass. The buildings that weren’t a source of dancing and raving were open and inviting bars, bright lights illuminating the rooms behind the glass windows and showing off the happily drinking patrons within.
“Welcome to my world,” Vinyl suddenly called out, nudging the awestruck Octavia in the shoulder with her snout and urging her forwards. “Now this is what I call a night out. The sounds, the sights... the smells, yeah, can’t have a night out without somepony throwing up nearby.” Octavia’s nose wrinkled as the scent Vinyl was commenting on suddenly hit her and she hurriedly moved on, followed by a smirking DJ.
Octavia had done her fair share of concerts and functions but she’d never been to someplace as audacious as she was now. She knew it existed, of course, she wasn’t stupid, but she never had much reason to indulge in such activities and atmospheres. It was a whole new experience for her and she’d have been eager to leave, if it weren’t for Vinyl.
“So, I was thinking,” the unicorn began as she trotted beside her companion, “we should hit up a club, listen to some music and maybe dance a little. Then we could find a nice bar to wind down and chat some more, have some more sophisticated sit-down drinks, because I know you like those best. And then we can head on home after getting something greasy and completely unhealthy to eat on the way.” She punctuated her last words with a lick of her lips and then turned to Octavia with a smile. “Sound good?”
“I don’t know, Vinyl, this all seems a little... well, intimidating to me. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing... or where I am for that matter.” Octavia looked back and forth between the buildings once more, a sense of anxiety having taken route deep within her stomach. She found that she was a little less anxious than she thought she’d be, which she attributed to the alcohol already flowing through her system, but she still had her reservations.
“Octavia, I promise I’ll look after you,” Vinyl then said, pausing in the street to make sure Octavia’s attention was solely focused on her. “You’ll have fun; I’ll make sure of it. You just need to loosen up a little.”
Octavia considered it for a few moments, once more taking in her surroundings. She had to admit, the ponies around her definitely did look like they were enjoying themselves. None of them were wearing over the top fashions or worrying about what those around them were thinking. A lot of them seemed inebriated but that only made them appear as if they were having all the more fun for it.
“Alright,” she finally said with a sigh, looking back towards Vinyl with her lips curved into half a smile, “but only because you seem to really want to do this and because you’re not here in Canterlot very often.”
“That’s the spirit, Octy,” the DJ grinned, nudging her towards her left towards a nearby building. Octavia resisted at first, but Vinyl insisted and she soon found herself being herded towards a building with two doors spaced a few feet apart from each other. Each one had a line of ponies awaiting entry and two large stallions stood at the entrances between both doors, allowing patrons in and out.
As the two mares approached they seemed to be headed towards the one on the right and Octavia had enough time to look up at the bright neon sign that read ‘The Bassment’ before being herded into the doorway, noticing that they had jumped the queue. A few of the ponies in the line behind them grumbled and complained and Octavia was about to question it before Vinyl gave her another nudge to continue with just three words, “my world, remember?”
Octavia continued through the hallway she’d entered, Vinyl following behind and when she came across a staircase she paused. She peered down below her, the darkness lit only by the flashing lights against a wall at the bottom that stood opposite another doorway. A few ponies exited and climbed the stairs in the opposite direction, following the running lights.
She’d passed closed doors on the way, making her aware of the fact that there were other rooms above ground that she may have entered. But the music seemed to be coming from down the stairs, in the basement, and it was then that she made the connection.
“Down you go, Octy,” she heard Vinyl say behind her and without further pause she continued, hesitant steps descending into the gloom, the music getting louder as she did so. She passed the ponies coming up in the opposite direction and after turning the corner at the bottom held her eyes on the room before her.
It was large, larger than she thought for a basement, though despite its size it still didn’t seem large enough to provide adequate space for everypony inside. The dance floor in the middle of the room and several smaller ones at the sides were packed with ponies, all sandwiched into the space and seemingly jumping up and down to the beats blaring out of the speakers. Many of the ponies had taken to dancing in small groups away from the dance floors, preferring to be able to move with a bit more space rather than rubbing shoulders and flanks against any number of strangers.
A brush against her side made the cellist turn to face Vinyl, who jerked her head to follow her and began trotting away, weaving her way between any ponies that got in her way as if she knew exactly where they were going to move next. Octavia had no such luck as she followed, muttering apologies and then shouting them when the ponies she bumped into didn’t hear her.
Before long she’d joined Vinyl at her destination; the night club’s bar. “A little drink to get us started,” Vinyl shouted at her before a unicorn bartender levitated over two extremely short glasses filled with a clear liquid and then whisked away the bits Vinyl had already placed on the counter. “Drink it like this,” Vinyl then explained as Octavia gave them a questioning glass.
The unicorn brought one of the glasses up to her lips and in one swift motion upturned it and her head, swallowing the contents in a single mouthful, the glass slamming back down on the counter. The second glass then lifted into the air, surrounded by the same blue glow except this time lining up with Octavia’s lips. The grey mare looked down at the glass, her eyes crossing as she did so which made Vinyl chuckle. She then lifted her head and as she did so, Vinyl upturned the glass.
The clear liquid flowed into Octavia’s mouth and she swallowed. She then coughed, her throat burning as a distinct taste of aniseed lingered at the back of her mouth. Vinyl gave her a moment to recover, a friendly pat on her shoulder slowly easing Octavia out of her coughing fit before another glass suddenly appeared in front of the earth pony once more, the bartended walking away with a few more bits. “Together this time,” Vinyl said, placing both glasses to their mouths.
Octavia wanted to refuse but she found herself unable to, wanting for a reason unknown to her to prove that she could handle a night with Vinyl’s lifestyle. A few minutes and a shot later, the two mares were heading off towards the dance floor, the burning at the back of Octavia’s throat having reduced to a much more pleasant warm sensation.
Much to Octavia’s initial displeasure, Vinyl was leading them towards one of the speakers against the wall, the music getting louder and louder until it felt like it was coming from inside her head. But after a moment or two she slowly grew accustomed to it and noted that there were fewer ponies around the speakers for them to bump into.
As Vinyl then approached her, getting close enough so that their cheeks were almost touching, she explained what they were doing. “Alright,” she began, her voice shouting down the grey coated, flicking ear, “I’m not going to show you up or leave you behind, so just follow my lead and I’ll show you how to dance to this sort of music.” The unicorn then stepped a foot away, standing opposite Octavia, and began to dance.
Her hooves never went far, side stepping to the left and right in beat to the music. Her head bobbed along with them, sending her short mane bouncing up and down. It seemed surprisingly simple, and so different to the crazy rhythms that other ponies seemed to be following. Octavia did her best to emulate it, only losing her pacing a few times before she got the hang of it. She found herself grinning up at Vinyl once she grew comfortable enough to not stare at her hooves.
Vinyl smiled back and very gradually began to add new steps to the dance, slowly building up Octavia’s routine until they were both dancing with enough competency to make it seem as if they’d been doing it for years. Once Octavia was happy with dancing by herself, Vinyl changed hers to something she preferred; similar, yet faster. Octavia considered copying it but felt right dancing to her own rhythm, choosing instead to let Vinyl dance however way she wanted to alone.
Every now and again the song would change and Vinyl would teach Octavia a new dance, each one different enough to be worth showing the steps until eventually Octavia had enough of an idea to dance by herself. She swayed and stepped and bobbed at the right places and for the right amount of time to fit in reasonably well with the other ponies, so much so that she found she was dancing with the ponies that stumbled into their little corner of the club.
She was nervous at first, but with Vinyl mingling with everypony that came over she soon adapted. Smiling and nodding at the unheard statements that were shouted at her above the music. Once or twice one of the ponies they were dancing with returned, carrying drinks for the two mares and Octavia found herself growing steadily more under the influence.
When Vinyl seemed to grow tired and moved to sit on her flanks with her back to the wall, the cellist joined her, panting as she sat beside her. “So, what do you think, enjoying yourself?” Vinyl leaned in and asked, leaving her head tilted towards her for the response.
Although the prim and proper earth pony hated to admit it to herself, she was having fun. It occurred to her that she could have been enjoying this night life for years if she’d just plucked up the courage and gone out to experience it. But she also realised that with her current friends she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to, she couldn’t imagine herself doing this alone.
She leaned her head towards Vinyl’s bumping them together gently before shouting back, “this is one of the best nights I’ve ever had.” Vinyl grinned at that, giving her head another bump with hers before Octavia continued. “But there’s one thing that could make it better.”
“Yeah... I think I need another drink.”
A few hours later, two giggling and swaying mares exited the doorway to ‘The Bassment.’ They trotted down the pavement for a minute, before they both decided they needed to sit down. “My hooves are killing me,” Octavia muttered, her ears still ringing.
“You’ll get used to it,” Vinyl responded, her head tilting back to stare at the stars, “standing still playing your little instrument isn’t as tiring as doing this every night.”
“My instrument isn’t little,” the cellist defended, giving Vinyl a gentle push with her forelegs. “Have you seen a cello? They’re bucking huge!” Vinyl blinked back at her in response, not saying a word. “What?”
“Nothing, I just never thought I’d hear you say something like that,” the DJ replied, a little giggle escaping her, “alcohol makes you lose your censor meter.”
“Oh,” Octavia then gasped, putting her hooves to her mouth and mumbling from behind them, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to, it just slipped out.”
“Hey, don’t worry about me. I think it’s funny when you say something like that; it’s so unexpected,” she laughed, turning her head back up towards the sky and going quiet for a moment. The two sat there together for a while, watching the ponies meander back and forth from club to bar, and then back to a club once more. “C’mon,” Vinyl suddenly said, bringing herself to stand, “let’s find a bar to sit in, at least then we won’t freeze our flanks off.”
“And we can get another drink,” Octavia added, making Vinyl laugh once more, “preferably one that doesn’t burn going down...”
“Whatever you want, Octy,” Vinyl responded, waiting for Octavia to get to her hooves and then leading her further down the street, looking for a bar that caught her eye. They passed a number of potential candidates, each one looking inviting and busy enough to warrant attention but they were finding it difficult to choose the right one for them.
Eventually, however, Vinyl came to a stop, a huge grin on her face and her glasses lifting up so she could see better. “How about here?” she asked, turning towards Octavia and tilting her head towards the building she was looking at.
The cellist looked towards the direction she was being pointed in and then up towards the sign that flashed repeatedly in a loud, pink colour; ‘Fillyfools’. “I don’t think so, Vinyl,” she replied, then turned to walk back the way they came.
“Aww, c’mon!” Vinyl called after her, a quick canter placing her back by Octavia’s side. “It looks cool. And who knows, we might find some company,” the DJ continued in a sing song voice.
“I already have company.”
“No, the other kind of company,” Vinyl tried again, giving her a nudge and trying to get her to turn around.
“I know perfectly well what kind of company you’re referring to,” Octavia continued, resisting the nudges and giving Vinyl a surprisingly strong nudge in return. “We’re out together for drinks, not to flirt with strangers. Let’s just get some more drinks and then get home before the sun starts to come up... I don’t even know what time it is.”
“We could do both, you know...” Vinyl sulked, but reluctantly fell in line, following Octavia away from the bar and instead towards another bar a few buildings down. It had many ponies mingling inside but didn’t look busy enough that they couldn’t get a table.
“Oh, quit whining, Vinyl,” Octavia admonished, trotting up to the door of the bar and opening the door, “if it makes you feel better you’re at least not going home alone.”
“Yeah, I get to go to yours and sleep on the couch... fun.”
Octavia wasn’t sure why she thought what she then replied with, she figured it was the alcohol talking but it came out anyway. “Well you could have shared with me, but I might drool all over you,” she said, a sarcastic tone in her voice.
Vinyl didn’t seem to take it seriously, however, instead choosing to continue to sulk, heading off in search of a table for them to sit at whilst Octavia ordered them some drinks. Before long she returned, a tray in her mouth carrying two high ball glasses filled with what Vinyl suspected to be some form of an alcoholic iced tea. “Last drink before I take you home,” the cellist eventually spoke, the tray having been extracted by Vinyl’s magic to make it easier for Octavia to sit down.
“Alright, I suppose we have had quite a bit,” the DJ replied, her head swimming somewhat and the room seemingly moving around her. “It’s been a while since I’ve done this... thanks.”
Octavia stopped sipping from her straw to reply, a good inch of her drink already missing from her glass. “Don’t be silly, I should be thanking you. Do you have any idea how much fun I’ve had tonight? None of my ensemble friends would even dream of doing this with me... it’s a shame you’re not around all the time, we could do this again.”
“Everypony wants to party with DJ Pon3,” Scratch replied, a slight smirk on her face as she took a sip from her glass. “But I don’t have as much fun with it as I used to. I always have to club with new ponies, or ponies I barely know. I’ll definitely be making sure that you and I get to do this again sometime, even if I have to get you tickets to some of my gigs. I’m sure Opel wouldn’t mind me giving you some freebies... even if she did I wouldn’t care.”
“I’d like that, and maybe I could return the favour and get you to come to my concerts?” Octavia asked, her hooves stroking up and down her glass, eyes locked on the DJ’s glasses.
“Normally I’d decline, but I think I actually want to hear you play, as long as it’s not too boring,” she answered, her horn flickering as it lifted the straw out of her drink and placed it on the table, preferring to drink from the glass. She thought better of it, however, when her magic let the glass go when it lifted an inch off the table, falling back down with a thud and a splash as some of the contents spilled out on to the table. “Oops... guess I’ll have to stick with the straw...”
“Aww, too much drink for you to handle?” Octavia laughed, watching as Vinyl carefully placed the straw back into the glass. They then sat in silence, looking around the room for a while and taking in the scenery. The bar was playing music, the jukebox in the corner currently playing a soothing and mellow record that seemed to reflect the mood of the building. No pony was dancing as it wasn’t that kind of establishment, but there were many ponies talking and drinking with one another.
Eventually Octavia grew bored of her surroundings and instead turned back towards Vinyl, sipping on her drink again and watching the Unicorn. “Take off your glasses,” she suddenly asked, drawing Vinyl’s attention.
“Take off your glasses, please. It’s odd not being able to see your eyes; I can’t tell what you’re thinking.”
“I’m not thinking anything,” Vinyl replied, making no motion to move the glasses from where they sat on her face.
“You must be thinking something, everypony thinks something. I’m thinking something... like right now I think I’m rambling... I do that sometimes, or so I’m told. Just take the bloody things off,” the cellist persisted, a smile playing at her lips.
“You take your bowtie off then,” Vinyl countered, taking a large draught from her glass though the straw. “I think you’re the only pony in that club who was wearing something like that, and I did say you had to let loose.”
Octavia considered it for a moment, a hoof reaching up to rub at the one item of clothing she wore. “Alright,” she eventually agreed, her other hoof joining the first to fumble and pull at the knot but her diminished dexterity made it a challenge for her.
After a moment or two of watching with increasing amusement Vinyl’s horn lit up, a similar coloured aura flickering around the tie. Octavia put her hooves down as she felt it, letting Vinyl work but it seemed as if Vinyl was having difficulty grasping at it too. A minute passed, a look of frustration taking its form on the unicorns face before she gave up, rising to her legs and crossing the table. “Here, stay still,” she said before leaning her head forwards.
Octavia was startled at first, not expecting the sudden invasion of personal space. But she kept her head up and her chest out so that Vinyl could get at her tie more easily. The faint scent of the hotel’s ‘fancy’ inexpensive shampoo and the night’s activities wafted up into Octavia’s nostrils, Vinyl’s mane being so close. For the first time in an extremely long time, she felt the urge to lower her head and nuzzle into it, to feel its warmth and the softness of Vinyl’s coat.
She was distracted, however, when she felt her collar become loose and Vinyl’s mumbled words of triumph and the DJ pulled away, returning to her seat to face Octavia once more. “Nothing a good set of teeth couldn’t handle,” she grinned, her hooves reaching up to lift her glasses on top of her horn and then resumed drinking.
“Yes, thanks... ” the cellist replied, absentmindedly playing with the strips of cloth that now hung around her neck with a hoof. She reflected on what she had been thinking, once more chalking it up to alcoholic influence but she also toyed with the notion that it was just a natural reaction when somepony got that close to somepony else.
She looked at Vinyl, taking in every aspect of her from her electric blue mane to her vibrant red eyes, which were currently focused on her draining glass. She thought it cute the way she drank from her straw, her mouth wrapped around it, and then she admonished herself for using the word cute. Attractive, she then thought, before shaking her head and then giving up. Better to mull over these thoughts when sober, she finally decided.
“So, guess what I’m thinking?” The question snapped Octavia out of her thoughts, making her jump somewhat and causing her to bang her legs against the table. “Other than you must be falling asleep,” the DJ laughed.
A fierce blush took over Octavia’s face as she shook her head once more, scowling a little in reply. “I am NOT falling asleep; I was just thinking is all...” she replied, taking her drink and quickly draining it, a loud slurping noise escaping the glass as she sucked up the last few drops.
“Sure, whatever, Octy,” Vinyl grinned, lifting herself up back onto her hooves and leaning herself against the table. “But yeah, I was thinking we should go. And I’m hungry. I know a good place for us to get something to eat... it’s a long walk from here to your place... I think.”
“That actually sounds... like a good idea,” Octavia agreed, deciding that it would be best for them to finish the night before she grew tempted enough to give that ‘other’ bar a look inside. The two left their glasses at the table and began to move towards the door, once more making their way out on to the street. It was still cold, their visible breaths proved that, but the alcohol in their systems kept it away and they moved quite comfortably, albeit unsteadily, in the search of food.
“It’s just round the corner, it should still be open,” Vinyl explained, her gait somewhat staggered but far less so than Octavia’s, who was slowly veering off in one direction. Vinyl caught sight of her, however, and went after her, giggling some more at the cellist’s antics. “You can’t go off on your own now, Octy, how else am I going to get into your apartment? C’mere, lean against me, we’ll keep each other up.” Octavia did as she was told and she was able to walk in a straight line once more, and she found herself thinking that it wasn’t such a bad position to be in.
Eventually they came across a small open window sandwiched between two shops. A pony was stood before it, a pegasus stallion and he accepted a paper bag in his mouth that was passed to him from the window before spreading his wings and taking flight. When Octavia and Vinyl reached the window they were greeted by a tall earth pony mare, an apron tied around her waist and a hair net keeping her mane in place. “What can I get ya?”
“A hay burger and a portion of hay fries, please,” Vinyl answered, licking her lips at the thought as Octavia groggily peered at the menu. “Can you slice the burger in half though? We’ll share.”
“Are you sure, Vinyl? I don’t mind getting my own... though I’m not sure if I’ll like it anyway, I’ve never had a hay burger before.”
“Yes, I’m sure,” Scratch laughed, sitting herself down in front of the window and urging Octavia to do the same. “If you might not like it, which I’m sure you will anyway, then you can just try some of mine. And besides, I think it’s way past your bedtime, you probably wouldn’t finish it anyway. When was the last time you were out this late drinking?”
“I’m not sleepy,” Octavia affirmed once more, giving her head another shake to open her eyes and taking more weight off Vinyl’s side.
“Hey, it’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Vinyl replied, letting out a yawn which was soon caught by Octavia, “I’m tired too, and I’m used to this sort of thing.” Octavia just grumbled a reply and Vinyl chose to leave it at that.
Before long the mare in the window returned, a plastic tray containing their order being placed on the window’s counter. “Five bits,” she said with a yawn of her own, and looking towards the clock above the inside of the window, “you girls are lucky, I close at three; you caught me just before I shut off the grill.”
“Well thanks for taking our order then,” Vinyl replied, taking out six bits and passing them over.
“You’re welcome,” the mare replied, pleasantly surprised by the tip.
“C’mon, Octy, we best get walking,” the DJ then said before very carefully taking the tray of food in her magical grip and moving away with Octavia.
The two walked side by side, once more, leaning against each other for support. Vinyl held the tray aloft in front of them and took it in turns to bring each half of the burger towards their mouths. “You don’t have to do that, Vinyl,” Octavia eventually piped up after swallowing a mouthful of her half.
“Yes I do, otherwise you’ll get it all over your face,” Vinyl replied, taking the last part of her half into her mouth and beginning to chew. “You’re shtill an earf poneh,” she mumbled through her food, making Octavia frown a little.
“You’re drunk, but that doesn’t mean you can talk with your mouthful.”
The unicorn swallowed before letting out a light giggle. “Sorry, I don’t eat around fancy ponies much.”
“It’s not just fancy ponies, it’s just good manners. I expect them when we have breakfast in the morning,” Octavia then added, her eyes sizing up the tray in front of her. “Can I have a fry?”
“Well since you’re apparently offering breakfast in the morning, sure,” the DJ smiled, levitating a crispy fry into Octavia’s awaiting mouth.
The two continued on in their journey home, passing a few guards every now and again. They were quite pleased with the fact that they could walk the streets in the state they were in without being hassled by any unsavoury characters they might have come across, though Octavia thought that might have been different if they’d stayed in the bar Vinyl had originally taken them to.
Eventually Octavia turned them down a street that lead to several high rise towers, obviously meant for residential purpose rather than business due to the number of decorative plants and furnishings that adorned the balconies of most of the windows.
Passing two of the towers, Octavia turned them towards the entrance doors of the third and before long they stood in the warm foyer awaiting the elevator. Octavia took a quick glance at her apartment’s post box and noted that she had some letters but she was too tired to bother to get her key out of her bag to retrieve them. Deciding on getting them in the morning they both entered the elevator and road it up to the sixth floor.
“At least it’s not all the way at the top,” Vinyl commented, thankful that she wasn’t staying in the hotel and having to ride it any higher.
“I prefer to be closer to the ground, I’d be lower but all the floors below are completely occupied,” Octavia replied, stepping out of the elevator and taking an immediate left towards her door. She dropped her bag off her shoulders, rummaged around inside it before remembering her key was in the front pocket and after some fiddling with the lock, let them inside.
“So...” Vinyl spoke up, following Octavia inside and giving the room quick observational glances, “I’m still on the couch?” The entrance way was as Vinyl expected; completely spotless. There wasn’t a single item that seemed out of place, no clutter, just a few potted plants and two doors that led to the rest of the apartment.
“No, you get a bed,” Octavia replied, placing her bag neatly on top of a table before pointing down the hallway. “Door down there leads to the music room,” she explained before leading Vinyl into the door half way down the hall. “This is the living room,” she then pointed towards both the doors on the right side of that room, “my room and your room for the evening,” and then finally pointed to the two doors on the left side of the room, “bathroom and kitchen.”
“Quick tour,” Vinyl replied with a smile.
“I’m tired, I’ll show you around in the morning,” the cellist answered back before stumbling her way towards her bedroom door.
“Don’t I get a glass of milk and a kiss good night?” Vinyl called after her in a teasing tone. She didn’t get a response to that, aside from a ‘good night, Vinyl’ as Octavia opened her door and closed it behind her, leaving Vinyl in the living room. “Spoil sport,” she whispered with a grin before making her way towards the other door.
Once inside she had a quick snoop around, but it was a guest room in the truest sense. No personal items adorned the tables or walls, nor any pictures or mementos. There was just a bed, a comfortable looking one at that, two wardrobes, a dresser and a night stand.
Through the wall, Vinyl could hear Octavia getting into bed; the creak of a mattress as she got onto it and the inevitable shifting about as she tried to get comfortable. The DJ did the same, though her bed made considerably less noise, lack of use keeping the springs firm and resistant against her weight. It didn’t take her long to get comfortable; resting on her side with her head against one of the softest pillows she’d ever placed it against. The sheets were wonderfully cosy and warm and before long she dozed off, a gentle snore growing into the room.
On the other side of the wall, Octavia was still awake; her mind unable to quieten down once it was left alone. She was physically exhausted, her legs and muscles aching from the dancing and the long walks she’d indulged in that evening. But her thoughts kept drifting back towards the bar, the smell of Vinyl’s mane, her eyes, her smile. She clenched her eyes shut as she let out a sigh of frustration before rolling over, taking one of the pillows from under her head and holding it against her belly.
She had no idea why she was dwelling on those thoughts. Sure, Vinyl had been nice to her since they’d met, and more friendly and honest than most of the ponies she mingled with. But she didn’t know why that would make her have such thoughts. She had sobered up somewhat during their walk home but she still reasoned that it was the alcohol in her that had caused her mind to construct such intricate fantasies, a product of one too many shots that warped her mind. She figured she’d feel differently in the morning. She couldn’t help but imagine what Vinyl looked like with bed mane, however. She gripped the pillow harder.
The sound of Vinyl's snores from next door played in her mind and although her thoughts were firing in all directions she soon came to focus on the rhythm, her consciousness becoming enraptured with the unfamiliar sound. After a few minutes her body gave up and her eyes remained closed as she fell into slumber.
Outside on the street, a pegasus checked his camera once more, making sure that the pictures he was taking were good quality shots. He grinned to himself as he carefully placed it into his bag for safe keeping along with his notes from the previous day and took flight towards his office. “Snapshot, if this doesn’t make first page then you’re in the wrong job.”