The slightly rhythmic beeps of a heart monitor were the first thing to pierce Vinyl's consciousness. It was a little strange, but the sound of her steady heartbeat actually calmed her. At first, she had no recollection of what had happened, and, to be honest, she was on such heavy pain meds that she didn't really care to think about it. For a few minutes, Vinyl just sat with her eyes closed, listening to the heart monitor. Ever so slowly, she became more aware of herself. An IV had been placed in her front leg, which worried her slightly.
When she tried to see what the machine was filling her with, she noticed that she couldn't see. She attempted to touch her face, but her limbs were not cooperating. They sat like rocks by her sides, and even her horn wasn't functioning right. The only sound she heard at the time was her own heart rate on the monitor making a steady climb. Apparently, when your heart rate goes up in a hospital, all hell breaks loose. Within moments, she heard a few voices.
"Miss Scratch, please calm down."
"It's good to see you're awake, but we're going to need you to take it easy."
"Please don't make any sudden movements."
As she listened to the nervous voices, she began to question her situation. She forced her heart rate to drop and she began piecing her memory back together. She had been at Octavia's, she walked into the street, and the next thing she knew, she was in a ton of pain, with somepony cradling her head. Slowly, Vinyl parted her lips and asked in a hoarse voice, "What happened? What's going on?"
A distinctly male voice replied, "Miss Scratch, you had an accident. It appears you wandered into the street and, unfortunately, were right in the path of a runaway cart."
Vinyl took in the fact that she had been hit by a cart, which made the whole situation easier to understand. "How did I get here?" She asked.
"Well," the same voice replied, "somepony contacted an emergency team, who brought you and your friend here."
"My friend?" Vinyl asked, confused by who could have found her so quickly.
"Yes, Miss Octavia Philharmonica. When our team arrived, she was beside you in the street, holding you. We don't normally allow those other than family members to travel with injured parties to the hospital without consent from the injured party, but she refused to leave you," the doctor told her. The first thing she took out of that was the Octavia's last name was Philharmonica. Next, she absorbed the fact that Octavia had been the mare she had seen just before blacking out. That would explain why the voice calling out for help sounded so familiar. But it didn't answer the question of why.
"Miss Scratch, since you are now awake, we've decided to remove the bandaged from your head. Please don't attempt to use your horn or make any sudden movements, we don't want any unnecessary complications," the colt said. Slowly, she felt the light pressure of her head lessening and her vision going from black to grey to white. The white was caused by the blinding fluorescent lights that occupy all hospital rooms, and it slowly ebbed away. When she could see clearly, she saw the doctor tossing the wrappings in the garbage and a nurse standing at the hoof of her bed. She also noticed that her left back leg was wrapped in a thick cast. Oh buck. Great, now I've gone and hurt myself. Vinyl thought to herself when she saw the cast.
Off to her right, on the same foreleg as the IV, she felt a light squeeze. When she turned her head, Vinyl saw the slightly tear-streaked face of Octavia. The grey mare was smiling sweetly at her and gripping her arm lightly. Vinyl opened her parched mouth to ask her, "What's wrong?"
Octavia wiped the stray tears from her eyes before answering. "I was afraid. I have only just met you, Vinyl Scratch, but I think you could make a very good friend. I was scared you wouldn't wake up, or that something would go wrong, so I haven't left your side," Octavia told her.
The last bit of information perked a dormant thought in Vinyl's head, so she inquired to her new friend, "How long have I been here, anyway?"
"Three and a half days," Octavia told her. The air was ripped from Vinyl's lungs when she heard that. Three days asleep in a hospital! Oh Celestia, what have I done? When she looked at Octavia, she cocked her head slightly to the side.
"Octavia, did you really stay here the whole time?" Vinyl asked. She found it hard to believe that a pony such as Octavia would be willing to stay by her bedside for three and a half days, just to make sure she woke up. The nurse cleared her throat, grabbing Vinyl's attention.
"Actually, Miss Philharmonica has indeed been here for the whole time you were asleep. In fact, if I'm correct, she didn't sleep a wink the whole time, either," the nurse told her. When Vinyl turned to Octavia, she finally noticed the great bags under her eyes, which were bloodshot far beyond normal. Octavia just nodded to confirm what the nurse had said, which blew Vinyl away. She stayed her for three whole days without any sleep for me? Why would she do that? We only just met. She locked her eyes on Octavia's own lavender ones as the nurse trotted from the room, leaving the two of them alone.
"Octavia, I can't thank y-" Vinyl started, but was cut off by a hoof in her face.
"Vinyl, what kind of pony would I be if I let an injured pony lie crippled on the ground? Besides, you are my friend, are you not?" Octavia's eyes looked bordering on hopeful at the open question. Vinyl just smiled lightly before answering.
"Tavi, I couldn't ask for a better one. But. . . Why? Why give up sleep and a bed and everything to stay with somepony you just met a few days ago? Plus, we didn't exactly get along so great, either," Vinyl admitted. Octavia just looked down at her hooves and smiled. The sun radiating through the window in Vinyl's room caught Octavia at just the right angle so that every feature of her mane, face, and body were accented by a holy glow. In that light, the sight of Octavia may have caused a stupider pony to call that some sort of angel sat before them, but Vinyl was too lost for words. She had been through a lot, and Octavia had made the conscious choice to go through it with her.
Vinyl sat there, absorbing Octavia's natural beauty in the silence. It wasn't an awkward silence, just a sign that no words could define why Octavia had done what she had.
Eventually, Octavia whispered something without even looking up. "You have beautiful eyes," she said, which caused Vinyl to reach up to her face and feel for her glasses. Sure enough they weren't there, but the compliment still hit her. A redness grew on Vinyl's face as she buried her face in a pillow. "I don't know why you choose to cover them," Octavia continued. In truth, Vinyl herself didn't know why she always wore her shades, but she had gotten past needing a reason. They had become part of who she was, and she felt naked without them.
Octavia must have sensed this, because Vinyl found a warm object being placed in her lap. When she lifted the pillow from her face, she found her glasses sitting in her lap. She looked sideways at Octavia who just said, "I've been holding onto them for you. I knew you'd want them when you woke up, so I made sure to bring them with me." Vinyl was touched by the friendly gesture as she looked back to the sunglasses. The right lens was cracked, but other than that, they were perfectly fine. Vinyl slid them onto her face before turning back to Octavia. She knew that her eyes had always given too much away, which was a problem with her new companion. She certainly didn't want Octavia catching her staring.
"Thanks, Tavi. For everything," Vinyl said in as friendly a tone as possible. Octavia just smiled again and shook her head.
"You know, the doctors told me that once you woke up, you would have to be discharged as soon as possible. Something about insurance, I believe." Vinyl's stomach flip-flopped at the words. As an independent DJ, she had no regulated health insurance or anything, meaning she was on her own to pay the medical bills. Barely a minute after Octavia told her the news, Vinyl had removed the IV and all monitor sensors from her body. She pulled herself out of bed and onto her four hooves, despite the amount of pain her broken leg gave her. Octavia rose to protest the movement, but she quickly settled herself when she realized that the situation was worse than she had thought.
Vinyl stumbled though the doorway to her room and to the desk outside. Octavia followed her cautiously, ready to help her friend at any point. "I'd like to sign myself out," Vinyl said to a nurse. The nurse didn't even need a second glance to recognize her and passed her the papers to sigh out. Vinyl quickly scribbled her signature and her initials a few times and headed for the door. On the way there, Octavia held a hoot out in her path.
"Vinyl, you shouldn't do this. You're hurt, and the pain will only get worse when the meds wear off. You really should go back to bed," she begged. Vinyl just pushed her aside and kept walking. Once out the door, Octavia took another stab at it. "Vinyl, please. I do not want you to hurt yourself any worse. Just please go back inside and lie down," the grey mare said. Vinyl had to admit, what she did then was deeply regrettable. She whipped around and stared angrily at Octavia before answering her pleas.
"Tavi, I can't go back in there. I'm not some fancy-schmancy concert cellist, I'm a DJ. I'm self-employed, and it's a tough world out there. I can't just sit on my flank and wait for the next gig like you, I have to go out there and find it. I've had one paying gig in two months, and I have to watch every expense," she ranted, poking at Octavia's chest with a hoof. "As much as I wish I could stay in the hospital, I have to go cash that one payment and pray that it's enough to cover the bills and my rent. I can't live the easy life like you, my job just won't let me. If I had the bits for it, I'd eat more than one pizza a week. It's tough living on the bare minimum, but nopony wants a wash-up DJ." With each sentence, Vinyl poked aggressively at Octavia's chest, causing her to take a step back each time. Vinyl shoved past her and began to hobble off, signaling the end of the discussion.
Octavia was shocked that Vinyl had blown up like that, but more shocked by what she heard. From Vinyl's rant, she had learned that Vinyl ate less than a small foal every day and survived on overdue rent payments. The truth hurt her as much as it hurt Vinyl, whose eyes were tearing up behind her glasses as she walked away from her friend. She felt terrible for saying those things to Octavia, but in her world, she didn't have time to feel sorry for her actions. After hobbling for about a block and a half, she founded herself in front of the bank. After a quick discussion, Vinyl walked out with more bits than she had seen at one time in months. Maybe even years.
As much as she wanted to go spent it on luxuries, she knew this were no different than before. She was still without any bits or any work, but now she had a broken leg. She hung her head and somehow managed to pull herself home. When she got to the door to her apartment, she found Doc Whooves standing at the door again. On his face, he wore a sad look, and in his mouth, he carried a letter. When he say her, he tossed it to her and she caught it using her magic. "It's for you," he said.
She opened her door and the letter simultaneously. The Doctor followed her inside and closed the door quietly. He clearly had heard about her accident and felt bad for her, but she knew he was there for business. She nearly collapsed she read the letter. Well, actually, it was a bill. A huge one from the hospital. When she did the math out, she found that between paying her overdue rent, not to mention the month coming up, and the hospital bill, she had just enough bits to eat a pizza for two weeks. Which meant she was officially broke. She broke down on the rough leather couch and the Doctor sat himself on the end of the table.
She knew she could try to hold him off a little longer with her sob-story about getting hit by a cart, but it didn't feel right. She could see in his eye that he felt terrible asking her for the rent in such a tasking time, but he wouldn't be there unless he absolutely needed to be. Slowly, she slid a bunch of bits from her backpack and placed them on the table next to the Doctor. When he cocked an eyebrow at her, she told him, "Rent. Past two months. I can't pay this months, so I'll start packing my things." She pulled herself from the couch and grabbed as much as she could fit in her backpack.
Whooves placed a hoof on her shoulder, signaling her to look at him. "Vinyl, you don't need to pack. You paid the rent, so I can wait for this month's," he said, attempting to calm her. Vinyl shook her head and went back to packing.
"There's a lot more ponies who need apartments out there, Doc. Ponies with a steady income who can actually keep up on rent. I know you want to be a pal and help me out here, but that's the problem. We're friends. I see you suffering when I can't pay the rent, which means Derpy and Dinky are suffering too. I only have two choices here: stay here and learn to hate myself for making your lives hard, or move out and feel better knowing I helped a friend in need. For once, I'm gonna stop caring about my own well-being and call it," Vinyl explained. She felt her eyes tearing up again when she thought about the fact that she could be making sweet, innocent Dinky's life harder by bumming around.
Doctor Whooves himself was tearing up slightly at the taste of reality. He slid his hoof off of Vinyl's shoulder and nodded. As much as he wanted to make Vinyl's life easier, he had to admit that Dinky and Derpy were more important. He watched in silence as Vinyl zipped up her backpack and threw it over her shoulder. She looked up at him and he noticed for the first time that her favorite glasses were cracked. "Just got ahead and sell the rest of my stuff. I'll drop by every now and again to see if anything sold," she said in a depressed voice. Quickly, she levitated a large envelope off the table and over to him. "Have Derpy run that over to the hospital tomorrow, will you? It's got my medical bills and the payment in there, so try not to lose it."
Taking the envelope in his mouth, the Doctor nodded. Vinyl dropped her house keys on the table and walked over to the door. Just before exiting out the open door, she turned back. "Take care, Doc. And don't you ever leave the fillies. They need you," she said and closed the door behind her. It hurt him to see his friend injured and depressed and alone, but he had no say in it any longer. She was gone for good. Well, the least I can do is make sure her mail gets to the hospital. I'll just give it to Derpy and. . . On second thought, I'll run it over there myself tomorrow.
Outside, Vinyl dragged herself around town for a while. She went and bought herself a large pizza and stuffed it among everything else in her backpack. After wandering the town for a while, she found herself outside Record Book's club. When she peered inside, she didn't see anything set up, which meant that nopony would be doing anything tonight. She quickly popped the lock using her magic and darted inside. Once inside, she noted that it was only about five degrees warmer in here than it was outside, which was probably just above freezing.
Regardless, it was better than blowing all her bits on a motel, so she walked to one corner of the stage. There, she dropped her heavy bag on the wood with an echoing thud. She quickly followed her bag, curling into a ball next to the curtain. Using the curtain as a blanket, she covered herself, shivering. So this is what it's come to. Sleeping in the cold with a broken leg, no bits, and little food. Why did I have to go and release DJ PON-3's music anonymously? I could be living the lap of luxury right now. Eating whatever I want, partying every day, taking time off to spend with Octavia. . . Tavi. . . Oh Luna, I said terrible things to her today. She probably hates me now. I don't think I can face those eyes filled with hate. Those beautiful eyes. . . And with that, Vinyl drifted off to sleep imagining Octavia the way she had looked in the hospital room earlier that day.