Few of the restaurants Octavia was familiar with would be open so late. Fortunately, Vinyl had situated her nascent club in the heart of Canterlot’s nightlife. There were a hooffull of diners and small establishments that catered to the appetites of late-night revelers and Vinyl knew them all. The cellist and DJ found themselves comfortably ensconced at a candle-lit table on the outdoor patio of one such locale within moments.
The twinkling of stars provided effervescent background to their silent contemplations. Octavia focused on the admittedly simple fare on offer with a fervor usually reserved for religious zealots, nearly enraptured in holy ecstasy by the prospect of actual, real food.
Concealed behind her unrevealing purple shades, Vinyl regarded her companion. She was a mystery and she intrigued her. Her elegant and slightly formal (and Vinyl had to admit, very cute) bow tie and cultured accent, coupled with her refined demeanor and status as a classical musician marked her as, if not one of Canterlot’s elite, then at least a close companion to such lofty circles of society.
On the other hoof, none of the upper-crust snobs Vinyl had known would have ever dared to brave the interior of someplace as uncouth as a nightclub. She could only conclude that the cellist had been in straits as dire as she claimed. But that left the question of what exactly this mare could have done amongst her peers to leave herself in disgrace.
Vinyl thought carefully and formulated the most tactful way she could imagine to investigate the matter. “So,” she asked the unsuspecting Octavia, “who’d you sleep with?”
Octavia’s eyes snapped up to regard the mare seated across from her. Too shocked to come up with a witty reply, she stammered out, “Wha- what are you talking about?”
“Well, I figured that in order for you to be so unpopular with the rich ponies you had to have gotten caught in the wrong bed or something,” Vinyl explained in nonplussed fashion.
“You figured wrong,” Octavia replied tersely. “I played at the Grand Galloping Gala last month and this pink nightmare of a pony talked the ensemble into playing, ugh, the ‘pony pokey’. I don’t really know what happened after that, but there was a stampede in the ballroom and some klutzy pegasus knocked over a statue and Celestia alone knows what else went wrong. We got blamed for it and since I was involved no one has been willing to hire me to play for them.”
Vinyl’s mouth turned up in a huge grin before she said, “Wow, you were involved in that clusterbuck? Ponies were talking about it for weeks.”
“It’s not funny! My career and reputation are ruined. I’ve come perilously close to poverty and homelessness,” Octavia snapped back. “And where’s that waiter? I’m hungry . . .” she added petulantly.
“Heh; yeah it’s not funny about all that. But it is kinda funny that you played the pony pokey at the Grand Galloping Gala, you gotta admit. All those worldly and sophisticated connoisseurs of the finer things in life, and there you are playing a foal’s song on your cello.”
“Well, when you put it that way I suppose it is a little funny,” Octavia replied, a little of Vinyl’s easy humor wearing off on her in the form of a demure smirk.
“That’s the spirit! You’ve got a job; you don’t have to worry about losing your apartment anymore. Lighten up, Treble Clef. And I hope you know what you want, ‘cause here comes our waiter.”
Under other circumstances, Octavia might have been embarrassed at the speed at which she had devoured her tulip sandwich, rose petal salad and double order of hay fries. She had contemplated ordering more but respect for Vinyl’s charity had stopped her from doing so. She had already dined far too lavishly on her generosity to indulge herself further.
Instead she settled for patting daintily at her mouth with a napkin before laying it down on a plate devoid of even crumbs.
“That was truly delicious, Ms. Scratch. I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am. For everything.”
“Please, it’s ‘Vinyl’, not ‘Ms. Scratch.’ And don’t worry about it. That’s what friends are for, right?”
Octavia stared back at the mare she had just met. Her upbringing and socially-correct demeanor demanded that she remain aloof from such a new acquaintance, especially one so far removed from her usual circles. That impulse was in stark conflict with the reality of a pony who had offered her both friendship and generosity without hesitation.
Octavia smiled back, genuine warmth filling her voice as she replied, “Yes. Of course, Vinyl.”
They trotted side-by-side in comfortable silence down the largely empty streets. The night air had grown chill and the darkness was enough to make Octavia glad for the company Vinyl provided. The play of soft moonlight amongst the electric colors of the pearly mare’s mane was enough to tease hypnotizingly at Octavia’s peripheral vision. She, for her part, found herself dwelling on the pony beside her.
Once I get paid I will have to recompense Vinyl for her kindness. I will need to take her out to dinner. Or several dinners, maybe.
A sudden return to lucidity as she stumbled slightly over an uneven paving stone caused her to realize that her eyes had been dwelling on her for far longer than was acceptable in polite company.
Vinyl isn’t really polite company, though, is she? I bet she wouldn’t mind . . .
Hurriedly Octavia silenced her inner voice with a strong imperative to keep such suggestions to itself. Still, she had to admit that the prospect of spending more time with her new . . . friend was a surprisingly pleasant one. The mare was nothing like the criminal degenerate she had half-feared to find at someplace as foreign to her as a nightclub. Really, the eccentric filly’s playful teasing and unconcerned forthrightness were refreshing compared to the stuffy formality she usually dealt with.
Their pace soon brought them back to the darkened exterior of Club P0n-3. They parted ways with a few quiet words, Octavia to her newly-safe apartment and Vinyl to the interior of the club where she claimed to still have work to do wiring the audio equipment for the forthcoming grand opening. Octavia’s offer to assist her was quickly declined, Vinyl apparently certain it would only take a few moments.
The brief walk back to her apartment passed quickly, illuminated by streetlamps that cast small oases of light that guided her way. The slight echoes of her hoofsteps cast by the surrounding buildings kept her company, almost forming a rhythm as her thoughts dwelled on matters that threatened to make her blush with fillyish embarrassment.
The lateness of the hour surprised Octavia as she climbed into bed and she resolved to fall asleep quickly so that she would be on time for her first day as Vinyl’s manager. As her head sunk comfortably into the embrace of her pillow the colors white and blue began coalescing into specific forms within her mind, bringing a slight smile to her face that persisted even as her slumber deepened.