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Alcohol. Alcohol and darkness. To Seth they were the most logical options he had at his disposal to deal with his situation. The pony had barely moved all day after he had collapsed in the early hours of the morning. He laid haphazardly, stretched out over his bed, occasionally bringing a glass of scotch to his lips. Each mouthful sent a fresh burn down into his stomach, a not so pleasant reminder that he could indeed still feel. The shutters over his windows were jammed shut, blocking any potential light from the setting sun from entering. His room was cold. He liked it that way.
The fact that Octavia, the mare of his dreams, was never going to want to see him again forced him to consume another gulp of liquor. His head was starting to spin. He had left her in the middle of street, alone. He was not fit to even look at her ever again. He did not deserve such a privilege.
Groaning, the pony sunk his head into his pillow, a dull ache inside his chest preventing him from getting any rest.
I failed… he thought. I failed to live up to my promise. I couldn’t help her… I couldn’t make her happy… Seth coughed, his eyes growing warm.
He had been like this for hours now.
A rumbling in his stomach caused the unicorn to stir. Even in his current state of mind, starvation was not appealing. Seth literally rolled out of bed, only just keeping on his hooves. He stumbled slightly as he made his way over to the kitchen. The clock stared down at him, informing the pony that he had been catatonic for almost a day and a half now, a fact which somehow worsened his mood.
Chewing on a single piece of bread, Seth stared into his table, the glass reflecting little in the poor light. Despite the bad visibility, he could tell he was a mess. His hair was dishevelled and his eyes were bloodshot. Seth’s jaw was growing heavy and the very act of chewing was becoming tiresome.
“Pathetic,” he spat at his reflection.
Staring forlornly back, his reflection merely echoed its agreement. The pony slumped in his chair and levitated the bottle of scotch over. This was going to be a long night.
Octavia was in turmoil. She was pacing in her living room, having long since given up on any attempt to play music. While helping at first, the fact that she was unable to draw inspiration for anything other than melancholy pieces soon forced her to stop. She was at least, making some attempt to control her emotions.
She stared around at her apartment. Her home was meant to be a place of comfort and solace, yet now when she needed it most, it was failing spectacularly. Everywhere the pony looked, she was reminded somewhat of Seth. The perfect order she had worked so hard to piece together no longer existed within her world. The once-neat brushstrokes and faultless notes that comprised her life, the ones she had spent so long to create, were now broken, floating without meaning, too far out of reach to be brought back down and tethered again.
He had come, lit up her life, and now she had pushed him away, just like she always did.
She had done the right thing though. She was sure of it. She would be simply horrible if she burdened somepony else with her mistakes. Yet her conviction did not explain the horrible ache that racked her body every time she replayed the previous night’s events. The way Seth had looked at her, the way he had spoke, his voice so flat, so empty. She missed the sound of his voice when they were together normally; it was charming, friendly and caring. It made her smile.
Her stomach danced slightly as she thought about the sound of his laugh, and a ghost of a smile fought its way onto her lips. She blushed.
Octavia sniffed. The thought of Seth caused a hollow feeling to invade her subconscious. A single tear tracked its way down her face, the journey unknown to its creator.
Oh Seth, she thought for the hundredth time that day. Believe me my darling; it is far easier this way. I promise. Despite her constant assurances, Octavia could not shake a feeling of emptiness. She missed him. She missed him terribly.
Octavia slowed in her pacing. She was going to be late if she did not leave soon. The musician knew she had another practice again this evening. She knew she should go, but she didn’t want to. She had hurt enough ponies already.
The consideration of her friends made her pause. A thought began to make itself heard in amongst her subconscious.
Your friends, they can help. That is what friends are for, after all. Remember what you learnt after your ‘solo performance’.
Suppressing a shudder at her little episode, Octavia knew she had a point. Lost to a depression, the musician had inexplicably screamed at her friends over something so small she had long since forgotten what it was and then had stormed off, prompting her to start a solo career, convinced that her friends would never want to see her again. However, despite everything she had put them through, they had come back to her with forgiveness in their hearts. It was a lesson she would not be forgetting soon.
Your friends can help. Don’t abandon everypony again.
Another tear joined the first. Octavia took a deep breathe and steadied herself.
“Never again,” she promised to herself. “Never again.”
Octavia grabbed her cello and hurried out the door.
Running late, Octavia raced inside the CCMA. She moved far more quickly than the gigantic instrument to her back might suggest possible. Octavia hated being late.
Bursting onto the stage, her friends looked up at her, surprised by the abrupt nature of their normally calm and collected friend’s entrance.
“Wow, Octavia. You look terrible.”
Realising she hadn’t thought to check her appearance before leaving, and that she must look awful, Octavia mentally kicked herself before answering in a shaky attempt at sarcasm. “Why thank you Troy. I really appreciate the concern.”
Melody moved over to her, worry painted all over her face. “Are you ok, Octavia? Is something wrong?”
“I…” Now that Octavia was here, the strength of her conviction was suddenly nowhere to be found. She looked away, unable to meet any of her friend’s gazes. “I… I don’t know what to do about Seth!” she exclaimed suddenly, much more loudly than she had meant to.
A collective groan caused her to look up sharply.
“What?” she asked.
“C’mon Octy, you know exactly what to do about Seth. You’re just mindlessly preventing yourself from doing it,” Troy said. Her friends nodded their agreements.
“What on Equestria do you mean?”
“Well, you’ve been fighting with yourself for months now, Octavia,” Golden String said gently, trying to not upset her. “We have watched you the whole time. But when Seth came along, you stopped fighting. You were actually smiling again.”
Octavia was thoroughly taken aback. She knew that Golden String was right. Seth made her feel elated, joyous and happy. She never blushed, yet around him, or even just thinking of him, she felt like her face would never stop being red. Yet, regardless of the accuracy behind her friend’s words, she was cautious. After all, her friends had been hiding this from her. More importantly, they already knew about her feelings for Seth.
“No buts Octy. Look, I don’t know what happened, even though it was probably something big from looking at you, but I don’t want to know. It’s not our business, after all.” Troy paused, looking over his friend with a concerned look in his eyes. “But anyway, Seth can help you. He makes you happy. You just need to see that for yourself.”
Seeing her once-impregnable internal rationalisations being washed away by her friends left Octavia in a state of shock. The fact that Troy, of all ponies, was spear-heading this movement only made things worse.
“But… I cannot hope to be anything for Seth!” she exclaimed. “I don’t want to lose him as a friend… I can’t lose him as a friend, not like I almost did with all of you.” Octavia’s voice began to crack and she gazed at the floor, not wanting to see her friend’s faces.
A sudden embrace caused her to jump, the contact breaking down the emotional walls she had spent the last twenty-four hours constructing. She looked up into the purple coat of Melody, and returned the hug with feeling.
“It’s ok, Octavia. You won’t lose us,” Melody cooed gently, rubbing her hoof along Octavia’s back, the affection comforting the pony.
“And you won’t lose Seth,” Troy added. “You just have to wanna take a dive and hope for the best.”
Octavia sniffed, fighting back tears. “I just don’t want to have to run anymore…”
“You won’t have to Octavia. You’ll see.” Golden String smiled at her.
Octavia hiccupped quietly, her purple eyes misting over. She was silent for a time, struggling to find the right words to express the torn emotions inside of her.
“I don’t know,” she admitted after a while. “I just don’t know. It may be too late, and besides, maybe this is all for the best.”
Her friends threw some worried glances at each other over Octavia’s defeatist words. They knew what would likely come next, and it did not bode well for anypony- least of all Octavia.
“That way, I can’t push him away from me again. That way I won’t leave him. I won’t hurt him…” She stopped, unable to continue as the first tears finally broke free from her eyes.
Melody reached over to hug her again, but Octavia backed away.
“I’m sorry,” she said, her mind made up. “But I have to go. I... I need to think over some things.”
“Octavia…” Melody was on the verge of crying herself.
“I’m sorry,” Octavia repeated. She smiled at her friends, her face still wet with tears. “You have been so good to me. I am so lucky to have you as my friends.”
“We’re always here for you Octavia,” Golden String affirmed, a sad look in her eyes.
“I know, it really means so much to me. Thank you.” With a final, small smile, Octavia turned and left the hall. She hadn’t even opened her cello case.
Octavia walked quietly, trying to stay out of the war that was being waged inside of her between desire and responsibility. What she wanted and what was right.
Alone, she left the CCMA, all the while fighting a losing battle against herself.
Seth had a restless night. The fact that he managed to get any sleep at all was a welcome surprise. He woke feeling groggy and unsteady. His vision was still slightly blurred and his head hurt. He stayed in bed for a long time, not quite finding the strength to get up. The longer he stayed still though, the more agitated he became.
C’mon Seth, pull yourself together! She’s just a mare after all. Get up and get over yourself.
“Just a mare…” he whispered to nopony in particular.
Eventually, Seth had enough of his own self-pity. He got up and had a shower, feeling slightly better afterwards as the water washed away the cloying feeling plaguing his limbs. His recovery was further spurred along by a healthy breakfast and some sunshine. Even Seth had to admit it was a nice day.
Sitting on his balcony, Seth immersed himself with all manner of mental projects as far away from Octavia as possible. To this end, work proved to be a welcome distraction. He was starting to get a whole manner of offers in regards to advisement roles, and he mulled them over individually, picking each one to pieces in his head. He didn’t gather any enjoyment from this. In fact he still hated the concept of working around those ponies, but at that moment, it really was the lesser of two evils.
It was not long before he had exhausted this option, and without fail, his mind instantly began to wander like a misbehaving colt. Seth smirked at his own analogy. It fit too well.
There really was no escape. Screaming quietly with frustration, Seth leapt to his hooves. Not pausing to throw anything on, the unicorn hurriedly left his apartment, the first time in two days. He practically flew down the hallway, desperate to get to the mail centre in the building’s foyer. Seth hoped that there he would find some more distractions, anything to get her out of his head. He hadn’t had any correspondence with Luna’s office for a while now… surely they were due to ask for something…
The second the elevator doors opened, the pony burst out, cantering toward the mail room. He paid no attention whatsoever to the looks he was getting from the other ponies.
C’mon, c’mon… he thought, lifting his mail box key clumsily with magic. He really did drink too much last night. Finally, after a brief moment of resistance, the lock yielded and the door swung open. Leaving the key in the door, Seth levitated the only letter in the box over to him. He glanced at the address and froze.
Slowly, he opened the letter. The pony’s lungs refused to work. His magic shook despite the laughable effort that holding up a letter entailed. With a feeble attempt at a deep breath, he began to read.
We need to talk. Could you please meet me at the Golden Glow, tonight at 8pm?
I am sorry. I am truly, so very sorry... For everything.
Thank you in advance,
The letter fell from Seth’s grasp, twirling in the air as it made its slow, fluttering descent.
So this is how you say goodbye.
A/N: A short chapter this time! The part about Octavia's falling out with her friends is a reference to my other fic, Octavia's Performance. All of the relevant information is included here though, so it is not a necessary read for this. Next chapter should be exciting! I can't wait! :D
A big thank you to Dacaz5 for putting up with me and keeping me going, another big thank you to HeWhoErasesMost for the cover image and a huge thank you to Sessalisk for editing! Also, thank you everypony for reading this! It really means a lot! :) Don't forget to leave a comment or a star rating!