Playing With My Heart

by ObabScribbler

7. “Make me understand.”

7. “Make me understand.”

Vinyl slumped in her chair. It was most definitely her chair now. Pulled up beside the bed and littered with tiny white hairs when she got up, nopony could mistake it for anything but the seat of somepony on an endless vigil.

Head back, she stared at the ceiling fan. It was oppressively hot in the little room. The fan only moved around warm air. The motors from Octavia’s monitors, plus the breaths of two ponies, heated the place alongside the ambient warmth from the sunny day outside. Light streamed through the window, though Vinyl only had a view of the parking lot. She watched as a pegasus coasted into a space and unhitched his cart, folding in the enchanted fins that allowed something with wheels to become airborne. In another parking space a burly earth pony stallion allowed himself to be hitched up by a much smaller mare, craning his neck to allow her better access.

Vinyl had never pulled a cart. It was a strange thing to think. She was full of strange thoughts and realisations these days, especially about things she had never done. She had never learned how to teleport with her magic. She had never eaten lima beans. She had never played badminton. She had never climbed a mountain and shouted her name to hear it echo. Each tiny realisation eroded another piece of her good humour, leaving her cranky and monosyllabic, and then unwilling to speak at all.

The nurses were worried. She could tell. They whispered to each other and peered into the room without coming in. They seemed almost scared to approach, though she hadn’t snapped at anyone in days. She hadn’t, however, eaten any of the food they left for her. She had no appetite. Not even Nurse Merry Heart’s couscous with peppers was enough to tempt her. Doctor Thorntree was away at some sort of conference until tomorrow. Vinyl was glad. She didn’t want the kindly stallion to see her brought so low.

Reluctantly, Indigo had arranged a press conference. The thought terrified her. She hadn’t left the hospital in over a month. Just the thought of going outside was daunting after so long indoors. She would have to cross Manehattan to get to the building he had booked. All those streets, all those buildings and then, at the end …

At the end. What a revealing way of putting it. Would it be the end? Indigo seemed to think so. She had heard him muttering about letting her go if this went south. He didn’t think she would recover from this decision. Surely not everypony in Equestria was as close-minded as him? Surely not that many would even care whether she was straight, gay, or whatever? It wasn’t as big a deal as Indigo was making it out to be.

“This isn’t the Dark Ages, Indy. Ponies aren’t shunned or called unnatural for this kind of thing anymore. Equestria is a modern land with modern values. You’re totally overreacting.”

“Equestria is one thing. Regular ponies can do what they want without anyone batting an eye. Media sponsors on the other hoof? They’re a lot more conservative than the average consumer and they don’t like it when the ponies they’re chosen to represent their brands do stuff that doesn’t match their mission statement.”

“Mission statement? This isn’t a war, Indy! It’s selling crap!”

“Don’t you ever let me hear you say it like that again.”

“Okay. Whatever. Sorry. But Indy, why can’t I drop all this sponsorship stuff altogether? Why do I have to let it dictate my life on and off stage? Why can’t it just be me and my music?”

“Get real, Vinyl. That’s not how this industry works and you know it. Sponsors and the work you do for them help pay for your tours. Their money buys your equipment. They pay the wages of the ponies who make your music even possible. Where would your shows be without lighting technicians or soundstage engineers? Everypony needs to take home wages at the end of the day.”

“Doesn’t the record company pay for all that out of the revenue I generate from the music itself? Album sales, radio airplay, that sort of thing?”

“How can you have been in this game so long and still be so naïve? That’s only a fraction of it. Everything’s connected. If you don’t get sponsors, you don’t have enough bits to promote yourself. If you aren’t promoted, nopony knows you have a new single or album out. If nopony knows, nopony buys it. If nopony buys it, the record company eventually decides you’re not worth it anymore, doesn’t renew your contract and your career ends with a whimper. So if those conservative sponsors don’t feel like you represent their image anymore, or just don’t like the negative press you’ve generated lately with your behaviour, they may drop you and the whole spiral begins.”

“It’s … surely it’s not as bad as all that.”

“Get a clue, Vinyl. The rules are different for celebrities.”

Stinking rules. She hadn’t liked them as a filly and she didn’t like them now. At least school rules and those at the orphanage made a modicum more sense than this. It was all so old-fashioned – something she had never thought she would say about the world of electronic music.

The music isn’t the problem, she thought bitterly. It’s the friggin’ ponies who are a pain in the flank.

A ruckus outside the room barely caught her attention. It was probably one of the other patients, or perhaps their distraught family. That happened when their loved ones had irreversible brain-damage. During her stay Vinyl had witnessed at least three families collapsing around the Neurology Department, weeping and wailing that one of them was no longer the same behind the eyes. The first had terrified her with its implications. Watching her greatest fear play out in reality, even if she wasn’t in a starring role, was a cruel reminder of might be in store for herself and Octavia in the future. By the third time, however, she was numb to the broken ponies’ cries. If she tried to feel their anguish as well as her own she really would go mad.

She got up to close the door on the commotion. She didn’t need someone else’s crap invading her own. However, as her hoof shoved it she found her elbow bending under the force of a pony shoving back from the other side. The other pony had a lot of strength behind their push, sending Vinyl staggering backwards as the door opened determinedly.

“Viiiiiinyl, honey!” drawled a familiar voice that Vinyl nonetheless had trouble placing. For a moment the disconnect between it and the surroundings fogged up her brain. Then the pony’s identity clicked into place.


“The one and only, honey!” Sapphire Shores gave the biggest, brightest smile, all super white teeth and expertly applied lipstick. Whether singing to thousands, signing autographs or, apparently, visiting hospitals, she always looked like she had just stepped out from under the make-up ponies’ brushes. Her grin faltered a little. “Girl, you look like ten miles of bad, bad road.” She trilled the words as thought they were lyrics from one of her songs. She did that a lot. Vinyl didn’t mind so much but she knew it irked other ponies something fierce.

“You never do pull your punches, do you?”

“I just call ‘em as I see ‘em, honey, and frankly? You look more tired than that dress Tutti Frutti wore to the Musicality Awards.” Sapphire lifted her chin. “Scarlet chiffon – can you believe it? With her colouring? And puffed sleeves with yellow citrines sewed all over! She looked like a busted tomato. I, of course, was totally rockiiiiing it in a jewelled number whipped up special by this fabulous little designer in Ponyville. I won Most Melodious Mare, natch, aaaaand Best Dressed On the Red Carpet. Boy, was Tutti Frutti liviiiiid! No matter what she does, that girl cannot outdo me.”

“The Musicality Awards happened? When?”

“Last Thursday. You won Best Dubstep for that remix you did, ‘Stepping On My Dreams vs. Open Your Heart’? Didn’t anypony tell you? Cyclonic Clyde accepted it on your behalf?” Everything Sapphire said came out like a question, as if she genuinely couldn’t believe Vinyl had no knowledge of what she was talking about.

Cyclonic Clyde was another of Indigo’s clients, a young DJ from Hoofington who had been making waves recently. “No. Last Thursday? What day is today?”

Sapphire looked at Vinyl askance. “I take it back. You’re more like twenty miles of bad road. I thought it was weird you missed the awards ceremony but then Tic-Tac-Toe, my stylist – a gorgeous pony who could revamp an ironing board and make it catwalk-worthy – she showed me that nasty-ass article by that nasty-ass Quillpoint in Mane Music Monthly. Well, when I heard where you’ve been all this time I just had to come see you.”

“Uh, that’s really nice of you but … why?”

“Don’t tell me it’s thirty miles and I’m the hitchhiker you left behind at the side of the road!” Sapphire exclaimed. “We’re friends, honey.” She broke into full song. “Thaaaat’s what friends dooooo!”

Friends? Vinyl blinked as she processed this. She had guested on two of Sapphire’s singles and Sapphire once put in a surprise performance at one of Vinyl’s shows. The audience had gone wild seeing two of Equestria’s musical powerhouses on the same stage, each performing her best, trying to outshine the other with no preparation or forewarning. Sapphire was a formidable mare in the flesh but in concert she was like lightning on four hooves. She danced like she sang – with all her heart. As Vinyl recalled, when she reared up on two legs to hit a particular high note and Vinyl had combatted it with a wave of electronic sound they had nearly blown out the speakers.

After the performance they had gone out for breakfast, since they were so wired. It was late enough to count as ‘early’ anyway, and Sapphire knew a place that served breakfasts 24/7. They had talked for several hours, still high on the thrill of the concert and, eventually, on the sugar from more doughnuts than either of their agents or wardrobe mistresses would have liked. Afterwards they had gone their separate ways and Vinyl had thought no more about it. Sapphire, however, had interpreted it as the stamp of friendship – and when Sapphire Shored decided something, it stayed decided it if knew what was good for it.

“Oh,” Vinyl said awkwardly. “Well … I’m fine.”

“Oh, no, no, no. You are many things, sugar-lips, but right now? Fine ain’t one of ‘em.” Sapphire shook her head, emphasising the assertion with a stomp of a hoof. “I’m fine. I am so fine. You? You’re maybe the f.”

“No, really, I’m doing okay.”

Sapphire’s eyes flicked to the bed. The nurses had washed Octavia that morning. Her mane had dried in the warmth of the room and shone from Vinyl’s careful brushing. By comparison, Vinyl’s own mane hung drearily on one side of her neck. The jagged cut was growing out and it hadn’t seen mousse or gel in several …she wanted to say days but it might actually have been weeks. When had she last taken the time to even shampoo it? She couldn’t remember.

Sapphire’s mouth twisted into an imperious line, blue lipstick almost disappearing into her pursed lips. “Vinyl Scratch, I do declare, I have never before seen you look as beaten down as you do at this very moment. If you insist on insulting me by trying to tell me you’re okay, then sugar-lips, I may have to bury one of my very expensive velveteen-lined slippers in that bony white ass of yours. And if you make Sapphire Shores sacrifice her shoes, heads will rollllll!”

Vinyl stared at her, mouth slightly open – and not just because that last note had almost burst her eardrums. “Okay, so I won’t tell you.”

“Honey, you know what you need?”

The power of time travel? “You’re going to tell me, aren’t you?”

“You need some pampering! Ain’t nopony nowhere whose mood couldn’t perk up with some pampering. I know this fabulous little salon on Star Street, not too far from here, where they do these to-die-for seaweed body wraps –”

“Thanks, but no.” Vinyl was quiet but firm. “You read that article, right? I don’t leave this hospital.”

“Not even for a spa visit?”

Vinyl grimaced. Even when she wasn’t so dejected she wouldn’t have wanted some fancy-schmancy spa visit. Instead of divulging this, however, she just said, “Not even.”

“By Celestia’s fabulous footwear!” Sapphire exclaimed. “This is worse than I thought.” She flicked her eyes at the bed again. Something shifted in her gaze. When she next spoke her volume had dropped a couple of levels from bust-your-ears to merely loud. “I take it this here is the outstanding Octavia?”

“Yeah.” Vinyl’s mouth went dry. “That’s her.”

Sapphire nodded assessingly. “Grey and black, understated but it works somehow. Eye colour?”

“Uh, purple.”

“Of course! Amethysts would look wonderful with that colouring. I have a necklace that would look magnificent on her – shaped like a shooting star, y’know, to match moi since I am a star. Wow, her genes sure did her proud.”

“I wish you could see her with her eyes open,” Vinyl said softly.

Sapphire said nothing for a long moment. Then, out of nowhere, she spun around and plonked her decorated derriere on the floor. “Tell me about her.”


“Octavia. Tell me about her.”


“Because she’s important to you, sugar-lips,” Sapphire replied, as if this answered any computation of questions Vinyl could ever think to ask. “You did all this for her. When I spoke to you last, you were all work-work-work. I ain’t never met nopony as driven as you. Well, not since the last time I looked in the mirror. Yet here you are.” She spread her hooves at the room. “You, the biggest workaholic this side of anywhere, spending more than a month out of the game? I want to know why. She must be some dang fine mare to make the inexhaustible DJ-Pon3 give up her turntables for this long to talk to her when she can’t even talk back. So make me understand.” After a moment she added, “Honey, you’re staring, and while I truly adore being the centre of attention, leaving your mouth wide open like that ain’t attractive in nopony.”

Vinyl clicked her jaw shut. She scrubbed uncertainly at her mane. Her first impulse was to resist. Maybe Sapphire thought they were friends, but that was news to her. DJ-Pon3 didn’t have friends. Vinyl Scratch definitely didn’t have friends. And yet …

And yet.

A wave of intense loneliness swept through her. Not the loneliness of being alone, but the kind that came from feeling alone. She choked back the emotion as it clogged her throat – not with tears, but with a sudden, pervasive desire to scream just to see if anypony would care. The helplessness that had been building inside as her world seemed to fall apart around her swelled like a beach ball being inflated inside her gullet. It was too much. She was going to explode from the sheer size of the feeling if she didn’t do something to get it out of her. And how was a pony supposed to combat loneliness?

With somepony else of course.

Her butt hit the floor hard enough to make her wince. She opened her mouth but nothing would come out. She almost laughed. The big-mouthed, can’t-shut-her-up-if-you-try Vinyl Scratch, unable to talk? The pony whose first kiss with her beloved came from Octavia trying to shut her up as they argued about whether dubstep had the same staying power as classical? She closed her eyes, remembering that abrupt feel of lips against hers and the adrenaline that had flooded her when her brain caught up with her body. Nopony who knew either of them would have guessed Octavia had made that first, momentous move. The first overture, even.

“What … the …”

“I-I’m sorry, I was just … I didn’t mean to … I’m sorry!”

“Wait, Tavi, come back! Don’t run off. Look at me for a second. Seriously, look at me.”

“I can’t. I’m too embarrassed.”

“Say what? You just planted one on me and now you’re embarrassed? You didn’t seem so embarrassed a minute ago.”

“I wasn’t thinking very … clearly.”

“Lucky for me.”

“Excuse me?”

“Tavi, did you not notice the part where I kissed you back?”

“Well, I … I just thought you were being …”



“Seriously? Tavi, if some stranger had kissed me like that on the subway, I wouldn’t have kissed back, I would have kicked some ass!”

“Vinyl …”

“Octavia, all joking aside, why did you kiss me?”

“I … because I …”

“Because you what? You were bored? You were trying to make me shut up? You wanted to see what I had for lunch? What?”

“Because I love you!”

“Say … what?”

“I … I think I love you …”

“You think you love me?”

“This is all coming out wrong. I never meant to kiss you. We were just arguing and I kept thinking how you wave your hooves a lot when you get mad and your face contorts into so many peculiar expressions so close together that it’s hard to tell one from another and then … then I was looking at your mouth … and then I was kissing it. You. I was kissing you.”

“Because you think you love me.”

“Don’t say it like that. It sounds so awful! Oh, Vinyl, I’m so sorry. I’ve ruined our friendship. You didn’t ask for this and I shouldn’t have –”

“No, Tavi, you should. You really should.”

“Excuse me?”

“In fact, I reckon you should have sooner.”

“Vinyl …”

“Vinyl? Honey? Are you still with me?”

Vinyl’s eyes snapped open. “She hates cheese whip,” she blurted.

Sapphire raised one perfectly plucked eyebrow. “Excuse me?”

“Cheese whip.”

“You mean that nasty-ass orange cheese that comes in cans?”

“Uh-huh. I love it but Octavia can’t stand the stuff. I used to keep a can of it on the windowsill by the radiator in my room at Canterlot Music Academy, so it’d be nice and gooey by the time I’d finished my assignments every evening. I’d squirt it on some crackers, or straight into my mouth if I’d run out – which I did a lot because I was so busy practising my music I’d forget to go buy any. I always felt like I was falling behind at that place so I’d study real hard. Like, obsessively hard. You may not know it today, but I was a real study nerd back then. She thought the cheese whip thing was disgusting and made gagging noises whenever I did it. Yet on my birthday, she gave me eight cans with blue ribbons tied around the top of each one and enough crackers to last three months of my nightly ritual.”

Sapphire nodded, everything about her body language radiating attentiveness. If she minded about the non-linear approach she didn’t say, nor insist Vinyl go back to the beginning, the way she had with Doctor Thorntree. “Go on.”

Vinyl looked at the ceiling, recalling the thousand and one things that had etched themselves into her memory during those years together, whether as friends or as lovers. Once upon a time she had thought they would be together forever, each one the single constant in other’s life along with music. They had wrapped themselves around that core of mutual interest and each other, sharing hopes, dreams, fears, their pasts, present and future – or so they had thought.

Somewhere along the way that had gotten messed up. Ever since it happened, all Vinyl could think about whenever she thought of Octavia was how it had ended – how she had made the wrong decisions and done the wrong things, sometimes knowingly and sometimes not. The rest of their relationship had become subsumed by the events that finished it. That sense of her own failure had tainted everything else, shoving itself in the way whenever she tried to push past it to the better times before. So she had stopped trying to reach for the better times, instead ignoring the good and bad memories alike. Now, after so long of forcing herself not to, Vinyl summoned up their history. Instead of keeping it inside and allowing it to hurt her with the thought that it would never be that way ever again, and that this was her fault, she let the memories out. Her willing audience allowed her to purge herself in haphazard retelling after haphazard retelling of what had made her fall in love and stay in love with Octavia Philharmonica, even if she hadn’t been willing to admit the latter until it was too late.

Sapphire listened, apparently enrapt. Once or twice her gaze travelled to the door and her head shook imperceptibly at ponies who risked interrupting. The nurses on duty and her own handlers all found themselves dismissed and unable to argue with the sheer force of will she exuded without ever saying a word.

A pony is not a vacuum. Through Vinyl’s words, Octavia began to take shape in the room, as if her personality and spirit were coalescing out of the ether like one of Sapphire’s light shows. Sapphire employed several unicorns to project magic images of wild and wonderful things on stage with her while she performed. They could create anything, whether it was a chorus line of dancing dragons or wild spacescapes of undulating stars that drew in her audience so that they blinked like they were waking from a dream when it was over. That same sensation swirled around the little hospital room, until she felt like if she looked away from Vinyl, she would see the hazy shape of a pony hovering above them. Octavia was alive in the bed but she truly lived again through Vinyl’s words.

When Vinyl finally ran out of energy, if not stories, she slumped back on her haunches. She had been talking non-stop for so long she felt disoriented and stared around her. Her gaze grew dull at the pale walls and occupied bed.

Sapphire whistled. Even that was loud enough to make a pony’s ears weld themselves against her head. “Now that was amaaaaazing.”


“Sugar-lips, if you weren’t so clearly cuckoo about her, I might just have to fall in love with her myself after that.”

“You … what?”

“Oh now, honey, don’t you go looking at me like that. You’re wondering whether I swing that way, right?”

“You … what?” Vinyl was still coming down from going so far into her own head. The question bounced off her, then ricocheted back into her ear when she realised what Sapphire had said. “What?”

“Would I be right in thinking that press conference your nasty-ass agent called is a coming out party?”

Vinyl winced. “I wouldn’t exactly call it a party.” She let out a breath. “But it’s something … it’s something I’ve got to do. I know a lot of ponies would disagree, or say I’m throwing away my career for nothing, especially if Tavi … if she doesn’t ever wake up, or wakes up … different.” Why was that still so hard to say? She should be used to it by now but it still felt like a knife to the heart every time she had to speak the words out loud. “I know some ponies would wonder why it even matters, or why I’m making such a big deal of it. Indigo, for one. He’d rather I deny everything and say Tavi’s just a close friend. He even suggested I say she’s like a sister to me and that’s why I’m making all this effort for her, and that Quillpoint was lying in her article because I threw her tape recorder out the window.”

Sapphire grimaced. “I knew he was a nasty-ass. His eyes are too dang close together. Who the heck looks at their sister the way you do about your Tavi?” She paused. “Actually, don’t answer that. I don’t even wanna know.”

Vinyl, however, didn’t hear the last part of her sentence. Her brain had snagged on the words ‘your Tavi’ like cloth on a rusty nail. Octavia hadn’t been hers in a long time. She had thought she had let go, but had to admit now that she never had. She had forced herself not to think about her but couldn’t force herself to forget.

“Wait a second, you threw Quillpoint’s tape recorder out the window?” Sapphire let out a belly laugh that almost shook the ceiling. “Girl, I wish I had been here to see that! That reporter is a pain in everypony’s butt.” Her voice dropped a few decibels. “It’s a crying shame her poor excuse for journalism is what prompted you to come out. The way you talk about Octavia, it’s … I’m trying to think of a word.” She stamped her forehooves rhythmically against the floor as she searched her mind. “Pure?”


“I know, I know, cliché, cliché. What I’m trying to say is, you talk about how much you guys fought and argued, but there wasn’t never no hate there. Not even when you broke up. That was a terrible business, but I never got no hate vibes about it.”

“No, I never hated her for breaking up with me,” Vinyl admitted. “I think part of me thought she was right to do it. I was a crappy girlfriend by the end and I hadn’t taken any of the opportunities to fix myself. She actually told me several times that our relationship was suffering but I never took any notice. I was so wrapped up in myself I didn’t see the problems that was causing.”

“We hardly even see each other anymore, and when we do it’s when you crawl into bed and try not to wake me or when you’re galloping off in the morning. I can’t remember the last time we shared a meal or went out together. Whenever I get back from the theatre the place is empty and you never get home at a time reasonable enough for us to make actual use of it. That’s not healthy for a couple, Vinyl. We need to each of us set aside some time to spend together. And I mean a whole day, not just an hour when you can fit me in.”

“Sure, Tavi. Sounds great. Hey, have you seen that letter that came for me? It has the address on it of the place I’m going to this morning and I –”

“Vinyl, you’re not listening to me!”

“Sure I am. Us time. Set it aside. I’ll get right on it. Oh, here’s the letter. Listen, I’ve got to go, I’m late already. See you tonight.”

“I bet you weren’t as bad as you think you were,” said Sapphire. “Remember, girl, you’re looking at this through break-up glasses.”

Vinyl shook her head. “No, I was really, really crappy.”

“Tavi? What are you doing here?”

“I came to walk you home from the studio.”

“You did? Why?”

“I thought it would be nice to take a stroll together through the park. It’s a lovely evening and it’ll be light for another hour yet.”

“You … I can’t believe you came here.”

“Why? I looked up the number in the phone book and when I called they gave me the address. Vinyl, what’s wrong?

“Nothing, I just … let’s hurry and go for that walk.”

“Vinyl, stop pushing!”

“Vinyl! Vinyl Scratch!”

“Oh no.”

“Wow, you’re still here? You were here late last night too, weren’t you – and the night before. Don’t you have a home to go to?”

“Oh … hey, Mr. Clef. Um, Tavi, this is Mr. T. Clef III. He owns the record company who produce my music.”

“Charmed, my dear. I like to look in on my artists now and then to see how they’re turning out – can’t have any dead weight on the team, right? Ha ha ha!”

“Ha ha … ha.”

“So, Vinyl, aren’t you going to introduce us?”

“Oh, right. Yeah. Um, Mr. Clef, this is Octavia Philharmonica, my … friend.”

“Charmed, I’m sure. Do you play an instrument, my dear? I can see by your cutie mark that you have some connection to music.”

“Yes, sir, I play the cello.”

“Marvellous, marvellous, marvellous. Mayhap you can audition for me sometime – I’m always looking for new talent to replace the old. One has to ride the wave of whatever is popular as long as one can and then create a new wave to ride – ha ha ha!”

“Ha ha ha.”

“Yeah. Heh.”

“Well, dash it all, I really must be going or my wife will shout at me. She hates it when I’m late home. Toodle-pip!”

“Uh, yeah. Toodle-pip.”

“We’d better go home too, Vinyl.”

“Tavi, come back! Tavi! Tavi! Tavi, I had to. Indigo said I shouldn’t mention about–”

“I said let’s go home.”

“But what about walking in the park?”

“I don’t feel like it anymore.”

“Eventually something had to give and that thing was … us,” said Vinyl. “The signs were all there. I just didn’t see them. Or maybe I didn’t want to see them. I thought everything would turn out the way I wanted without me having to change the way I was acting. I was selfish but thought I was justified because my career was taking off and that seemed like the most important thing in the world. Tavi had always been there for me so I assumed she would keep being there. Stupid, huh? But at the time, I couldn’t see past the end of my own nose.”

A knock at the door startled her. “Sapphire?” said a tremulous voice.

“What it is, Wave Whisperer?”

The skinny green mare standing there hesitated at her abruptness. “Miss, you have an appointment and I really can’t put them off any longer.”

“I do? Can’t you tell them I’m busy?”

“It’s your mother. She says if you’re not at the table in ten minutes she’s going to feed your dinner to the dog.”

Sapphire rolled her eyes but got to her feet. “I can shout down anypony in Equestria except for that one. Sorry, sugar-lips.”

“No, no, it’s okay,” said Vinyl, waving her hooves. “You’ve been great, Sapphire, a real … friend.” Warmth blossomed in her chest and she found herself actually wishing the other mare could stay longer.

Sapphire went to the door, causing the green unicorn to duck gratefully out of sight. However, Sapphire paused before leaving. “Vinyl?”


“If you love her, you love her. Ain’t nopony should tell you that’s wrong. Too much crap in the world as it is to stamp out even a little bit of love.”

The sense that the end of her career was hurtling towards her returned, tightening Vinyl’s throat like a noose. “Thanks.”

“But if things go belly-up for DJ-Pon3, my record label’s way cooler, and the director?” She winked. “He’d be happier than a snail that blew up the salt factory if he could snatch you away from Prima Pony Records.”

“Thank, Sapphire. That means a lot, but I think …” Vinyl looked at Octavia. “I think I should probably think about something other than my career for a while.”

“If that’s what you think is best, sugar-lips. Hey, do you write songs in a special place?”

“Huh?” The non-sequiter flummoxed Vinyl.

“Like, do you have to be in the studio to write?”

“Uh, no, I can write anywhere. Why?”

“Oh, just ‘cause I was wondering whether you’d write some stuff for me. Your remixes are fiiiine, but truly? I prefer your original stuff. You wrote that ballad for Charisma Canoodle last year, didn’t you?”

“Uh, yeah.” Charisma had picked up the sheet music after Vinyl mistakenly left it in the lobby outside Mr. Clef’s office and had turned it into one of the year’s biggest selling singles. Nopony knew that DJ-Pon3, dubstep extraordinaire, had penned the haunting, ethereal song. Except, apparently, for Sapphire Shores.

“Great!” Sapphire enthused. “Be seeing you, sugar-lips!”

She left in a cloud of hairspray, perfume and dawning realisation of what she was actually getting at. A small smile quirked Vinyl’s lips. “Thanks, Sapphire.” She went over to the bed and sat in the chair, stroking a lock of hair off Octavia’s face. “Hey, Tavi, it looks like all those lessons you gave me on how to write music are more useful than even I thought …”