-Wait, sunlight? Dang. That usually means waking up.
Vinyl Scratch opened her eyes. She was in the large bedroom of Octavia’s flat, with the curtains thrown open and sunlight streaming onto the bed. Judging by the brightness, it was fairly late morning.
The DJ pony rolled over. She was alone; the covers on the other side of the bed were thrown back. Vinyl was beginning to wonder where the cellist had gone when the reason for her own awakening became apparent. Drifting in through the open bedroom door, a record was playing. Beethoofen’s... something or other. The unicorn wasn’t sure which number or piece it was.
Suddenly, a new sound distinguished itself from the music. Vinyl heard a low, sweet humming, attuned perfectly to the melodies. From the sound of it, her favorite mare was in the kitchen, making breakfast and enjoying the measures that were still coming from the living room. It was beautiful, peaceful.
The white mare laid back, contemplating the ceiling for a moment before closing her eyes and allowing herself to enjoy the sonorous tones. She sighed contentedly. Waking up like this, where she knew everything was right with her world... hearing the melodious tones of the mare she loved in the next room, and knowing that she would get up, and trot in there, and see her smile... The unicorn couldn’t imagine a better feeling, in all of Equestria. Life, at that precise moment, was just so... perfect. Even the room, which Vinyl begrudgingly admitted was nicer (or at least cleaner), than her own, contributed to her feeling of wholeness.
She lay there, with her eyes closed, doing nothing but enjoying the music, until the sonata came to an end. Slowly opening her eyes, she rose to a sitting position on the bed, cocking her head to the side for more. Tavi was ri- I mean, this type of music could be worse. As long as she’s not here to see me enjoying it...
A white shape on the floor by the bed caught her attention. Vinyl got to her hooves, then curiously lifted the piece of paper off the floor with her magic. It was the small sign from the previous evening, still with its affectionate message emblazoned on the front. The sight of it and the memory of the fact that Tavi had actually brought made the white mare’s heart soar, then sent her into a fit of giggles, and she collapsed on the bed, the sign facedown next to her.
“Awake! And feeling good, I see?”
Vinyl looked up to see Octavia smiling at her in the doorway, seemingly ringed with sunlight. Her mane was slightly disarrayed, suggesting that she too had recently gotten up, but the DJ couldn’t have cared less. She was extremely happy to see her, and began to rise to her hooves, until she caught sight of the sign again and collapsed, laughing once more. The sight of it had prompted another memory from last night: Tavi with the sign, on top of the table she was at, having a grand time pretending to be a ‘hip’ fan by waving it and yelling, ‘LOVE YOU, P0N-3!”
At the moment, though, Octavia was still standing in the doorway, starting to grin. “What is it?”
Weakly, the DJ raised the sign face up with her magic and waved it back and forth in the same motion the cellist had used. The grey mare immediately understood the reference, and began to laugh herself.
“Do you... heh heh... do you remember what you did?”
“Only too well, Vinyl.” Octavia blushed and laughed again before pointing a hoof at the white pony. “That story doesn’t go anywhere beyond us, right?”
The unicorn got to her hooves again and shook her head, grinning still. “Right, right. Of course, my dear Tavi!”
“Mmmm... Why don’t I trust you about that?”
Vinyl stuck her nose in the air. “I simply can’t imagine! I’m offended at your mistrust, my dear!”
Octavia playfully cuffed her on the nose with a hoof. “Right. I’ll believe this one just as much as I believed the one the other day about ‘I never curse’.”
The DJ giggled again. “Oh, come on! That was a good one!”
“No, it was clearly... Oh, nevermind. Would you like breakfast, or are you too busy crafting deceptions?”
“If by ‘crafting deceptions’, you mean ‘being smarter than you like usual’, then yes. And if by ‘breakfast’ you mean ‘the fresh muffins I can smell from here,’ then also yes!”
“Come on, you.” Octavia smiled, shaking her head. She turned and walked back through the doorway, beginning to hum along with the record that had just begun another piece.
Vinyl watched her go, her mind drawing back to her feelings of a moment ago. The harmony they had together...
Hey, speaking of harmonies- Oh! The white unicorn started. The festival is tonight! The sudden realization shocked her. All the preparation and anticipation... she hadn’t really expected it to come; more like hover, always just a little ways away. But here it was, looming.
She gave a tight smile. But we’re ready. Oh, yeah. We got this. She couldn’t wait to see the look on Lyrica’s face when they were announced first place... She’d go up on stage, as smug as possible, and look straight at the blue pianist. She’d take the award, and then she and Tavi would go confront the two, just to rub it in their prissy, stuck up-
“Vinyl! Are you coming?”
The DJ started again. Whoops! Plot evil later. Eat muffins now. She laughed and began to trot towards the kitchen as the remnants of her fantasy fell away.
“So what’s up for today?”
It was just after breakfast. The two were sitting closely together on Octavia’s couch, planning.
“Well, I don’t have rehearsal, and I think you have off from work?”
“Yeah, the club doesn’t usually run during big music festivals. Who would come?”
“Right. So, then, we have the day to ourselves.”
Vinyl’s eyes sparked. “Oh! Let’s-”
Octavia gave her a wry look. “Think carefully, now...”
The blue-maned mare stopped, then grinned broadly. Octavia kept looking at her. The unicorn opened her mouth, then closed it.
“Let’s.... listen to whatever Tavi suggests?”
Octavia laughed and kissed her. “Excellent choice. We’ll get to what you had.... planned later tonight, I imagine.”
“So what do we do for the rest of the day?”
“Well, later on this afternoon, we have to go by where the festival is being held and drop off our entry for judging. We also need to go back to your place and look for something decent for you to wear tonight.”
“Yes, I know. It’s terrible.” Tavi rolled her eyes.
“If I’m going to be tortured later, then what fun thing to make up for it are we doing now?”
The cellist beamed. “I thought we’d have a delightful morning of my holding you down and forcing you to listen to classical music!”
Vinyl’s eyes widened in mock fear. “Noooooooo!!!”
Octavia laughed and shook her head. “Uh, uh. I went to your gig last night and listened to all those strange noises that you called music. Now it’s my turn. This is what you get for coming to my place, after all.”
The DJ considered this, then winked. “That’s a fair trade.” She sighed and laid back, putting her forehooves behind her head and closing her eyes.
“Alright, I’m ready. Bring it on.”
The grey mare grinned. “Oh, I shall.”
“But next time it’s my turn!”
“We’ll have to be at your place next time, then.”
“Fine.” The unicorn relaxed and prepared for the worst. And later tonight...
“Well...Here we are...”
“Yes, Vinyl, this is it. Having second thoughts?”
The two had just arrived at the festival, and were looking up the steps at the doors. It was a cold night, but the snow had stopped falling, and Luna’s moon shone brightly, illuminating the snow on the street with a shimmering gleam.
“No, no. ...Have you ever entered one of these?”
“I can’t say that I have. My group has always been enough for me. Haven’t you, though?”
“No... Always been too... y’know, lazy.”
“Is that all?”
“Maybe a little afraid to, by myself.”
Octavia smiled at the mare next to her. “Perfectly reasonable. Shall we go inside? It’s cold out here.”
Octavia was wearing an off-white dress, elegantly, yet simply, cut, with a light grey trim. It seemed to compliment her manner and taste. Vinyl, meanwhile had had to be convinced to even wear a dress. After the cellist had braved her fillyfriend’s closet long enough to discover that there was nothing remotely wearable, she had dragged the DJ to several different stores until they had found the perfect dress: A midnight black, perfectly colored to contrast with both Tavi’s dress and Vinyl’s own coat, and trimmed with neon-dark blue, to accent her mane. She had even been convinced/forced to leave her shades at home, though Octavia was secretly sure she had them secreted away in a pocket somewhere.
They entered the double doors, held open for them by a pair of smiling doorcolts, and abruptly stopped. Fancy Pants rented a new place each year for the festival, but this year, he had really outdone himself. Though the two mares had been there earlier that day during their shopping to drop off their record for judging, they had been received at the door and had not gotten to look inside, at what they took in, breathless, now.
The doors opened onto a long hall, with great stone pillars on either side. Down the middle of it was a lush red carpet trimmed with gold, and at regular intervals down the sides were small tables for ponies to sit at. At the end of the hallway was another set of large doors, thrown open to offer a view of the dance floor, which was pumping with a large crowd. On either side of the door were majestic spiral staircases leading to what Octavia assumed was a balcony area.
Standing in front of a large ice sculpture in the middle of the hall, dapper and personable with his moustache and his suit, was the host himself. Fancy Pants stood with his own marefriend, Fleur de Lis, shaking hooves with ponies from all social classes and backgrounds. He passed no judgements; the new and unheard-of musicians got just as much attention from him as did the rich and famous ponies.
Octavia reacted first, overcoming her own awe to smile at her companion’s expression. “Impressed, Vinyl?”
The white unicorn struggled to close her gaping mouth. “This... this- ...this?”
The cellist laughed. “‘This’ what?”
“We’re going to win... in this?”
“Vinyl! We haven’t won yet. Come, let’s speak to our host.”
“Oh... oh, right.” Social situations were not usually the DJ’s thing, but Octavia had a sneaking suspicion things might go better with Fancy. He had that effect on ponies.
They trotted down the center carpet, smiling at other ponies and at their magnificent surroundings. When they reached the ice sculpture, they stopped and waited to talk to the host, who seemed to have no limit to his smiles and interest in other ponies. When they reached him, Octavia introduced herself and Vinyl.
“...Good evening! I am-”
Fancy Pants broke in immediately. “No need for that, Ms. Octavia! Of course I know who you are; you always perform quite beautifully at my garden parties. But who, might I ask, is your lovely companion?”
Octavia glanced at Vinyl, smiling. The white unicorn had gone a pale pink under her coat at the attention.
“This is Miss Vinyl Scratch, a very close friend of mine, and the pony with whom I prepared an entry. Vinyl?”
The DJ gulped, then stepped forward, still unsure of what to do. “How... How do you do?”
This was enough for Fancy, who smiled broadly and shook her hoof. “Excellent, thank you!” Considering them a moment, he added with a wink, “You know, I think I recall your entry. Quite admirable, if I’m not mistaken. You two ought to stay around; and enjoy yourselves!”
Vinyl’s eyes lit up, and even Octavia looked pleased. “We intend to, yes. Thank you!”
Their host smiled and waved them off, seeing another group of ponies arriving to talk to him. As they walked away, the white unicorn leaned in close to the grey mare, talking excitedly.
“Did you hear that? He remembers our song! And he told us to stick around! That proves it!”
Octavia allowed herself a grin of elation. “Well, it doesn’t prove anything, but yes, yes, he did!”
“Yes, it does! Let’s party!”
“Why don’t we go up on the balcony first, and survey the ballroom?”
“Alright, I’m with you. I can see how good we’ll look from above when we win later tonight.”
The two ponies climbed the stairs, gaining an impressive view of the entrance hall as they did so. When they reached the top, they passed through a doorway onto a balcony that ran all the way around the ballroom, offering an excellent view of the dance floor and the-
“Hey, there’s a bar!”
At several points along the upper level, sliding glass doors led to outside balconies, where the snow had ceased to fall and instead sat glimmering in the light of Luna’s starry sky. All the doors stood closed, but the mares could see a few couples enjoying the privacy and quietude of the night. The music was still quite loud up where they were, above the ballroom, but it was lessened, and outside, with the door shut, it would be barely noticeable. At a few places around the upper story, tables were placed. There were a few ponies at them, cooling down from the dance, but, overall, the top floor was fairly deserted.
“Come on, Tavi! Let’s look over!”
Vinyl trotted to the edge and glanced down. Octavia followed her, a bit wary of the height, but still eager to see Manehattan’s upper crust mixing with its lower. Everywhere she looked, ponies were dancing to the beats coming from large speakers at the end of the room. Nopony was DJ’ing; as part of Fancy’s attempt to appreciate everypony, all of the acceptable songs that didn’t win either first, second, or third were being played for the dance. If a musician heard their song, they knew they hadn’t won. Ponies that heard their entries were discouraged at first, but always felt better once they witnessed others grooving to their creation.
“Look at ‘em! I wish I had this crowd at my gigs!”
“Quite, Vinyl! All of them, so happy, so energetic, so- uh oh.”
“Far left corner.”
On the bottom floor, withdrawn as far as possible from the rest of the crowd, were two familiar blue and white unicorns, looking haughtily down on the ponies around them. They did not dance, and it was a reasonable assumption that they were only present for the awards.
“Oh! Oh! I bet we can drop something on them from over there!”
Octavia seriously considered this for a moment. “Well.... If we...” She shook her head. “No, no, we can’t.”
“Hah! You were close, there! Good, good, let the mischief flow through you....” She waved her forehooves in small circles.
The cellist smiled and pulled Vinyl away from the edge and back towards the stairs. “No, come on. I think it’s time for a drink.”
The DJ glanced once more longingly at their rivals, then turned and followed happily after Tavi.
“What can I get you two?”
The bartender, a light brown earth pony with a blond mane tied up in short pigtails, and, fittingly, a wine glass cutie mark, smiled at Octavia and Vinyl as they trotted up to the bar. It was loud, but the bar was located in a niche in the side of the ballroom, so she didn’t have to shout.
Vinyl took the lead. “I think I’ll have some tequila tonight.” Sneaking a look at the grey earth pony next to her, she added, “Tavi wants some-”
The grey mare broke in. “Uh uh, Vinyl.” She winked. “I don’t think I can trust you ordering for me.” Addressing the bartender, she said, “I’ll have a glass of Chardonnay.”
The unicorn interjected. “Wait!” The bartender paused, looking amused.Vinyl turned.
“Tavi!” The DJ gave her companion the best puppy dog eyes she could muster, pushing out her lip for effect. Octavia laughed, and adopted a pacifying tone.
“Alright, alright. What should I have?”
The white unicorn’s face lit up. “Yay! Oh, let’s see. How about... Tavi would like to try vodka, because she never has! Deprived pony.”
The bartender looked at the grey mare for confirmation, winking. “Are we sure this time?”
The cellist laughed and gave her assent, and the bartender set about getting their drinks. She returned a moment later carrying a tray with both glasses on it, and set it on the bar in front of them. Octavia reached for bits, but the bartender waved her away.
“Don’t worry about it! Fancy Pants has everypony covered for the night.”
Vinyl’s eyes opened as wide as they would go, and her mouth dropped open. She began to hyperventilate slightly.
“Did... did you just say...”
The brown earth pony laughed and nodded. “Yeah, you heard me right. But listen to your fillyfriend; you should come back later and try some of our wine! My uncle makes it, we’re a family-owned business. My name’s Angevin.”
Vinyl was still salivating over the prospect of free alcohol, but Octavia grew more serious at the brown mare’s comment. “I’m sorry; did you say...?”
Angevin leaned forward. “Oh, I’m sorry! Are you two not together? It just seemed like it. I see a lot of ponies come and go, and I know when to judge a couple. Was I wrong?”
Tavi considered her options, glanced at the bartender pony’s smiling face, and decided. “Actually, yes, we are. I’m Octavia, and this is Vinyl. I was just... surprised, that you picked it up so quickly.”
Angevin laughed. “Oh, that’s just my experience with ponies coming through, like I said. Also, well... you two just rebound off each other so well, it seemed like a logical assumption. Anyway, so, you really should try our vintage, especially if you like wine.”
The cellist smiled and nodded. “I think I will. Vinyl, on the other hand...”
At the mention of her name, the DJ put her drink down and grinned. “Hey, if it’s free, I’ll give it a shot!”
“That’s the spirit!” Angevin smiled and left to fetch the wine.
“I’ve just made two important discoveries.”
“One is that we really did misjudge other ponies. I think we’ll be... okay. As a couple.”
Vinyl grinned and leaned over to kiss her on the corner of her mouth; a combination of a response to Octavia’s comment and the alcohol starting to kick in. “Excellent! What’s the other?”
“I think we’re going to be quite drunk by the end of this night....”
The white unicorn raised her glass with her magic in a toast.
“Sounds like a party!”
“Hey, dudettes! Watch it!”
“Oh! So sorry!”
The two mares had just finished their drinks and had made their way onto the dance floor, immediately colliding with a dark blue pegasus with shades remarkably similar to Vinyl’s own. A pair of black headphones hung around his neck. The pegasus shook his blue and black mane to settle it back into place, then grinned at them.
“S’all good! Great music, huh?”
Octavia smiled and kept her mouth shut. Vinyl, on the other hand, nodded vehemently. “Aww, yeah! This is awesome! Almost as good as- OH MY CELESTIA.”
Both Tavi and the unknown pegasus glanced where the white unicorn’s scarlet eyes were focused. They saw, at the far end of the room, talking with a fairly distinguished-looking pony, a very light grey earth pony with a blue mane, with red tips. To the cellist, this meant little, but both Vinyl and the pegasus gasped in unison.
“What? Who is that?”
The pegasus answered. “You don’t know? That’s Tomb himself!”
Vinyl blinked rapidly. “Am I dreaming?”
“No, it’s really him! Woah!”
Octavia looked at both of them. “So... What? Hello?”
The white DJ ignored her, still staring. “I don’t think I could go over there...”
The pegasus shook his head. “I wouldn’t; not while he’s busy. But personally, I intend to see if I can get an autograph later. Catch you two later!”
He disappeared into the crowd before giving them his name, and Octavia turned her attention back on her companion. “Hello? Vinyl!”
The unicorn shook her head and grinned at her. “Sorry. It’s just, he’s really famous and all.”
The cellist smiled. “Fancy Pants knows a lot of famous ponies, and they all come to his parties.”
“That he does, Octavia! Which leads me to wonder why you two are here.”
The two mares turned, coming face-to-face with Lyrica and Vibrant. They were dressed to match, in dark red. Lyrica’s mane was down, coiling around her neck, and Vibrant’s was restored to its regular spiky, bright-red and yellow state.
Vinyl immediately went defensive. “Riiight, because you and peacock-colt over here are just swimming in admirers.”
Vibrant took a step forward and growled menacingly. “You....”
Octavia stared him down. “I think what my companion is insinuating is that you looked quite amusing after you broke into her apartment, tore it up, and suffered a spill on your precious mane. I think there are some police ponies over there, I’m sure they would be quite interested to hear about that...”
Lyrica snarled. “You have no proof anything happened. Why should they believe you?”
The white mare jumped back in. “Because you’re a low-down, filthy, unwanted little floozy who can’t tell that her ‘coltfriend’ is a sneak?”
The pianist gasped. “What? Never!”
Octavia added in with her trademark sarcasm. “Oh, don’t worry, Vinyl. I’m sure she’s not innocent, herself, anyway.”
Lyrica glowered at her. Vibrant’s eyes flashed murder. Vinyl stared defiantly at him.
“‘Two at once’, isn’t that right, Vibrant?”
The stallion stepped forward again. The white mare stepped to meet him, and they scowled at each other, faces nearly touching. Next to them, Octavia and Lyrica were doing nearly the same.
“Well! Is everypony enjoying themselves?”
The staredowns broke off, and everypony gaped at the sudden arrival of Fancy Pants on the dance floor. He smiled benignly at them. Behind him, Fleur looked on in mild amusement.
Octavia became coherent first. “Yes, thank you. We were just-” She glanced witheringly at Lyrica- “discussing some things with Miss de Crescendo and her, ahem, coltfriend.”
Fancy Pants continued to smile. “Oh, well, then, I’m quite sorry to interrupt! Pray, continue your conversation.”
The four ponies looked uncertainly at each other.
Lyrica finally gave the cellist one last death stare. “Well, Octavia, we’ll be seeing you and Vinyl later tonight, at the awards. Don’t forget to hang around, to see us win!” She tittered. “Come on, Vibrant.” They made their way through the crowd, disappearing within seconds.
Fancy Pants turned to Vinyl and Tavi. “Dear me, I don’t like to judge, but those two seem... well, rather uptight. Wouldn’t you agree?”
The mare with the electric-blue mane burst out laughing, and even Octavia had trouble holding in her snickers.
“Oh, I don’t think you know the half of it...”
This was a fun chapter for me... :D The festival is finally upon our intrepid heroines, and the night has only just begun!
Hey, fillies and gentlecolts! I want to explain one thing here. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, but the reason I really like The Living Tombstone is that, aside from liking him as an artist, he was the first brony musician that I ever heard. That’s why I decided to do him homage, both with his OC in this chapter, and his other little references in earlier chapters. I feel that I owe something for introducing me to the fandom, as ‘twere. :)
As usual, I hope you’ve enjoyed the chapter! Leave a comment, let me know what you like, didn’t like, all that. I love the support I’ve been getting! I owe you guys. ^_^ Next update should be out in a week or so!***