Perfect Pitch

by Wolfie 03

I get knocked down

At the beginning of another day and another Equestrian Girls practice, Claire Belle psyching herself for the day ahead of her, making sure she didn't have an issue this time around. Some of the others who arrived early started to chat while waiting for everyone else to arrive.

Since Octavia left early to help Claire, Vinyl figured she may as well go too and amused herself by listening to Pinkie Pie talking with Lyra. Vinyl was starting to wonder if the pink mare ever slept and watched her wave her fore-hooves around.

“You mean you can't see them?” Pinkie Pie asked of the mint-green unicorn.

“I'm a little confused. Who are we looking for again?” Lyra tilted her head and looked about the room.

“The readers! The humans sitting at their desks watching every move we make.” Pinkie Pie pointed to the fourth wall and waved.

Now it was both Vinyl and Lyra who were confused at the pink mare's antics. Vinyl turned to look at the other unicorn to express her concern for the party mare's sanity when Lyra suddenly looked all about herself and asked lots of questions about these 'humans'.

“Where are they? How can you see them? What do they look like?” Lyra sat next to Pinkie Pie and tried to look in the same direction she was.

“Oh, well, they're all over the place. And I've always been able to see them, especially after I got my Cutie Mark and my Pinkie Sense got stronger and I'm not sure if anypony else have been able to see them too. But most humans that watch us are friendly.” Pinkie Pie smiled at the unicorn, about to continue when Vinyl cut her off.

“Yeah, right. Next she'll be telling you about the seaponies.”

“There's seaponies?!” Lyra asked excitedly, turning to the white unicorn. Vinyl's response was to face-hoof, which Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth caught sight of as they joined the trio with everypony else who started to arrive.

“What's happening?” Cloud Kicker asked as she snickered at the expression on the DJ's face.

“Pinkie Pie is filling Lyra's head with weird non-sense. And she's believing every bit of it.” Vinyl explained as she waved a hoof to the pair who had gone back to discussing 'humans'.

Cloud Kicker laughed loudly while Blossomforth covered her mouth with a hoof to cover her own laughter.

“I don't know. We get a lot of weirdness back home.” Cloud Kicker looked at the pair as well as Pinkie Pie grew interested in a town that already had weirdness.

“Oooh, really? Where do you live?” Pinkie asked while leaning towards the persian-blue peagasus with a grin.

“Uhm, well, Blossom and I are from Ponyville. It's just south of Canterlot and while it's a close knit town, it's actually rather large. We get anything from interesting ponies, interesting monsters, and weird weather.” Cloud Kicker shrugged as Blossomforth nodded.

“There's lots of interesting stores too, like a bakery in the shape of a gingerbread house, or a library inside a tree and so on.” Blossomforth added a little quieter than her friend.

At the description of some of the 'weirder' parts of Ponyville, Pinkie Pie's eyes lit up and she hopped in place, excited at such a town. Even Lyra seemed interested in living in a quiet but still kind of large town.

“You know, I don't think I've ever been to Ponyville before! And I've been to a lot of places, like Manehatten, and Vanhoover, and...” as Pinkie Pie rambled on about all the places she's been (and Vinyl was rather shocked how many) a lot of the others just laughed at the hyper mare's antics and the fact that she had been to a lot of their home towns.

Octavia looked over and was thrilled to see the reserved pony make more friends and joke around with them. It was always nice to see Vinyl open up and laugh and joke with others.

Soon it was time for practice and Claire called everyone to attention. They would be focusing on the singing portion that morning and it was as grueling a session as the day before.

Vinyl was rather surprised at how much work and effort went into learning and singing A Cappella. They practiced the different background sounds and keeping a steady beat, singing in harmony with each other, and they even started to learn some of the songs they would be doing.

Vinyl was once again concerned about the kind of results that Claire was expecting, but kept her opinion to herself. Just like with the dancing, each pony had different styles and Claire and Octavia had their work cut out for them to get them to work together as a unit.

Pinkie Pie had such a wide range of noises she knew that it was hard to get her to use only certain ones.

Cloud Kicker, Blossomforth, Beautiful Composition and Arpeggio knew very little A Cappella and had to start at the beginning, which was causing Claire to get very anxious. Octavia taught them instead to lower everypony's stress levels.

Lyra was once again extremely stiff and the more she tried to make the proper sounds, the more a very pronounced Canterlot noble's accent came out. Octavia handled teaching the mint-green unicorn, giving specific tips and advice to counter a noble's upbringing.

Vinyl, being the curious pony that she was (especially when it came to a certain light gray mare), had half an ear on their conversation while she practiced. She unhappily noticed how after a few more specific tips and a look of understanding between the two mares, Lyra was able to sing in a more relaxed manner.

Once Vinyl realized that she was becoming jealous of the mint-green unicorn and the understanding the two had shared, she gave herself a mental shake and focused on what Claire was teaching her.

Since Vinyl had good hearing and coping abilities, she was able to quickly catch onto the new ways to sing, even though she too had to start at the beginning with the basics.

The one Claire had the most trouble with was Windy Day, who still wasn't speaking loud enough to be heard. After trying to hear her for a while, Claire gave up and just nodded along, still not hearing a thing and unsure if the peagasus was getting it right or not.

As soon as Claire Belle suggested they run through the whole thing, Vinyl knew it would end horribly. She only just managed to not face-hoof by imagining Octavia's reaction if she put up a fuss.

The singing went just as badly as Vinyl knew it would, most couldn't remember anything after the first eight bars, with the exception of the two upper classmates, Pinkie Pie and Vinyl.

Pinkie Pie grew a thoughtful expression as the rest of the group tried to keep up and find the right words while Claire was trying really hard to not lose her cool.

Octavia was proud of Vinyl's memory while the unicorn awaited for the inevitable halt and explosion. Claire made them go through the whole set though and took a few calming breaths before addressing the group once they had finished.

“Alright, remember, we have gig in a little over a week, so let's, ah, put our best effort into this, ok?” Claire said with a small frown on and small eye twitch.

Everyone gave a small sigh of relief; it had been a tough two hours of practice. Vinyl noticed that Pinkie Pie had a small frown on and walked over to check on her.

“What's wrong Pinks?” Vinyl gave the pink mare a nudge with her shoulder.

“Hmm? Oh, it's nothing much. I'm just wondering why nopony else was able to sing along. I usually can get just about anypony to sing with me and I mean anypony, even if they really really don't want to, I mean like REALLY don't -” Vinyl was slowly getting used to the hyper mare and knew to cut her off early.

“Maybe...” She tried to think of how to phrase what she was going to say next without sounding like she didn't believe the party mare's abilities, even if she really didn't.

“Maybe they need to get to know you more or for your abilities to rub off on them more?” Vinyl was pleased with herself, it sounded reasonable at least.

Pinkie grew thoughtful once more and began to nod along.

“You're right my fine furred DJ! And I know just the way to fix this! I'll just have to be really super close friends with everypony!” Pinkie Pie's eyes lit up as she grinned, her whole demeanor becoming lighter while Vinyl's hoof found a comfy spot on her face. She could already tell this was a disaster in the making and felt bad for the first target of the hyper mare's, who seemed to be Lyra.

As the slightly shocked mint-green mare walked out with the excited pink mare hanging off a mint-green shoulder, Cloud Kicker walked over to the white unicorn laughing.

“What did you say? She looked like Hearth's Warming Day had been canceled and then after a few words from you, she's right as rain.” Cloud Kicker slung a leg around Vinyl's shoulders.

The white unicorn stiffened at the touch before seeing the friendly grin on the persian-blue peagasus' face. Vinyl shook her head and waved towards the retreating ponies.

“I've unleashed the party kraken.” Cloud Kicker laughed as she gave the DJ a playful shove before heading out as well.

Vinyl just shook her head at the peagasus' antics as she waited for her roommate outside the doorway once more.

It didn't take as long to wait as the previous day and once more Octavia was pleasantly surprised to find she had a white shadow following her.

“You know, you don't have to wait for me.” Octavia stated with a smile at the unicorn who was looking at everything except the light-gray mare next to her.

At the earth pony's words Vinyl froze in place and glanced at the gray pony before looking towards the ground with her ears flat on her skull.

“Oh. Uh, alright. I guess I'm bothering you huh? Sorry.” Vinyl's voice trailed off during her response as she started to back away.

Octavia stopped as well and looked at the other mare in concern; she could somehow hear all the self-doubt and anxiety in the unicorn's words and knew it was part of something deeper.

“Vinyl, wait. I didn't mean it like how you're thinking. I just don't want to hold you up from doing something else. I don't mind at all if you want to wait for me.” Octavia stepped next to the white mare and gave her a hug while nuzzling the side of Vinyl's face with her own.

Vinyl froze one more, unsure how to take the nuzzling. She had never had anypony do that before; most couldn't stand being near her let along nuzzle.

(Well, actually, since becoming friends with Octavia, the list of ponies who are 'friends' or at least can stand being near me for long has grown...Guess I shouldn't be so anxious. At least now I know what a nuzzle feels like... Should I give one back...? Let's give it a try.) Vinyl hesitantly returned the nuzzle and hug which made Octavia almost squeal in delight.

Soon it turned into a hugging session, with the gray mare comforting the white one after her moment of insecurity, neither one caring that they had stopped in the middle of the sidewalk.

“Vinyl, before thinking that I am annoyed, upset, or angry with you, please check to be sure. I would hate to have our friendship ruined by a simple misunderstanding.” Octavia whispered to Vinyl as they continued to hug. Vinyl nodded, so glad that she hadn't annoyed the one good friend she had that she couldn't speak; Pinkie Pie didn't quite count in this regard, she seemed like the kind of mare you would have to really force to NOT be friends with.

They stayed like that, giving each other mental and physical support, for a few minutes before hearing a shout that came from a pony who seemed to be mildly surprised at a pink mare's antics at being 'closer friends'. They both broke apart with blushes at the long hugging-nuzzling session while they scrapped their hooves along the ground.

After some light chuckles at the sight of each other's slightly embarrassed face, they continued down the road to their room and the classes they had that day.

Having morning practice sessions didn't mess up Vinyl's daily routine and gave her a chance to see Octavia in one of her many elements. The white unicorn had already gotten a hold of all the dates for the various performances Octavia would be doing with her many clubs and groups and the DJ made sure to have plenty of time to go and see her perform.

For the rest of the week, the Equestrian Girls switched between learning the songs to learning the movements every other day to be ready for their first gig. Claire pushed them just as hard as the first two sessions in order to be ready for their first performance.

The morning practices gave Vinyl plenty of opportunities to listen to her roommate sing, which was causing her to slowly grow concerned about it. Vinyl heard how Octavia's singing was slowly losing it's quality, sounding huskier and losing its pitch over the course of the next five days.

Vinyl also noticed how the gray mare was drinking more and more water and hot tea with honey in it. It got to the point that in order to save Octavia some time boiling the tea water, Vinyl had learned a spell that could heat a surface or object within moments. While Octavia knew it taxing to use spells constantly, Vinyl insisted that it was practice and helped to build up endurance.

The earth pony instead tried to make tea without the unicorn's help or notice, not wanting to draw attention to how much she was starting to drink in a day. Vinyl did notice however, and after the fifth day of drinking lots of tea and water to sooth her throat, Vinyl insisted that the light-gray mare go to the doctor.

Octavia was nervous about going alone (something about never having gone to the doctor's office before) and had requested that Vinyl go with her. The white unicorn didn't have very fond memories of doctors either, the ones at the orphanage had seen too many foals come and go and were rather unsympathetic, but Vinyl was willing to go for moral support.

As they walked to the campus doctor/nurse's office, Vinyl couldn't help but get curious about Octavia's lack of doctor visits.

“So, have you never been sick before? It that why you haven't ever gone to the doctor's?” Vinyl peered at the gray mare next to her from the corner of her eyes, just managing to catch the small flinch that flashed across Octavia's face.

“No, I've been sick before.” The earth pony stated while staring ahead.

Vinyl waited for a moment before she realized that Octavia wasn't going to continue; she tried not to get anxious about the lack of response and chalked it up to nerves of going to a doctor's office.

Soon they found the offices, which doubled as the medical major's classroom. E.U.C.C. did have a policy that if you weren't willing to help others learn from whatever ails you, you could request for a private meeting with a doctor instead. It was part of a survey of choices that everyone took when they first came to the school.

The buildings were white and rather long, having to be ready to serve hundreds of students should they get sick. They were well staffed, with the teachers being very good doctors and some extra regular doctors on hoof just in case, plus any student they knew would be good enough to help. In order to be more accessible for the entire campus, the medical buildings were exactly in the middle of the school, making the trip there almost the exactly the same amount of time no matter where one started from.

Vinyl was slightly interested to note that Octavia had opted out of the public doctors and was ushered into a private room. Since she wanted privacy, the white unicorn had to stay in the large white waiting room, which was there for those who were providing moral support.

It was a large room, with light-cream walls and white furniture, which consisted of mostly chairs with cream colored cushions on them and some end-tables covered in magazines and newspapers.

Vinyl was too nervous to read and just sat while trying to think of anything but the gray mare and failing. After a tense ten minutes, the doctor and Octavia came out from the private room, talking quietly. Vinyl felt sharp relief at the sight of the musician, until she noticed that Octavia seemed sad about whatever it was that was going on.

“Please let us know what you decide to do, and hopefully it all turns out alright.” The dark blue stallion stated as he pat Octavia's shoulder with a hoof. The pair had stopped in front of the waiting unicorn and it was at this point that Vinyl was starting to panic about what had happened and looked between the doctor and her roommate rapidly.

“Thank you Doctor. I will.” Octavia quietly said while looking at the floor. The doctor nodded and turned back to his offices as Octavia looked at the white unicorn's neck, unable to look her in the face just yet.

“Tavi, what's wrong? Please, tell me. I'll help any way I can.” Vinyl put a hoof to the gray mare's shoulder as she tried to look her in the face, something Octavia avoided doing.

“I'll tell you back in our room. Please, can we go? I don't like the smell of these offices.” Octavia murmured as she turned to go. Vinyl nodded in agreement, she never did like the sterile smell either.

The trek back to their rooms was a quiet and subdued affair. Vinyl wasn't sure what the right response was for this and kept quiet instead until they got into their room, which is when she whirled to face the earth pony and demanded answers.

“Alright, we're in our room and I'm not getting sidetracked or anything! What's wrong, please tell me before the suspense gets to me!” Vinyl stood rather close to the light-gray mare, unwilling to let her escape from her explanation.

Octavia sighed, she was rather surprised that Vinyl had stayed that quiet during their walk home and had expected this out-burst much earlier. Even with her bad news, she was happy to see that Vinyl followed her request to wait until they got back to the privacy of their room before starting the inquisition.

“Ok, ok. Here it is.” Octavia used quieter tones, making Vinyl even more worried about what happened.

“You were right about my voice, there was something wrong with it.... I have nodes.” Octavia announced with as much seriousness as though she was announcing the death of a famous singer.

Vinyl was rather confused, she hadn't heard of nodes before but Octavia was acting really serious about it. But then again, she wasn't a doctor nor a professional singer, and this was something that affected the voice.

“What's, what's nodes? What does it do to your voice?” Vinyl asked nervously, sitting down suddenly in front of the gray pony who stared back sadly, who also sat down in the middle of the room.

“Oh Vinyl. It stands for vocal nodules. It's the rubbing of vocal chords without proper lubrication.” Octavia said as she finally looked Vinyl in the face since coming back from the doctor's.

The DJ was in shock; nodes sounded painful, especially for a singer.

(Wait, a singer! Octavia is a singer! She sings the best! What's this going to do to her voice?! And Claire! Claire won't stop pressuring us!)

“That sounds really painful! You've got to stop singing! At least until this goes away or or something!” Vinyl placed a hoof to Octavia's shoulder, concerned for her health and well-being.

“You know why I can't stop. I love to sing, just like how I love all forms of music. I'll just try to hold back a little so I don't get hurt as much.” Octavia shook her head and leaned forward until her head rested against the white chest. She didn't want Vinyl to see how much this was hurting her nor the sight of tears in her eyes; having nodes was something Octavia had not expected to happen to her.

Vinyl was getting better at trying to comfort others, or at least trying to; she pulled Octavia closer with both hooves and rested her head on top of Octavia's.

“You know Claire's not going to stop right? She's pushing everyone hard, she's not going to let up on you. If you won't stop, will you tell her about it?” Vinyl softened her voice as she felt small trickles of wetness on her front.

Octavia shrugged, unsure of what to do. She tried to not cry, it wasn't the proper thing to do, but she couldn't help it. Everything seemed to be falling down around her ears, and she had wanted so much to help Claire Belle get to the finals once again.

“What about your instruments? Can you still play music without hurting yourself?” (Is all music taken away from you?)

“The doctor said that it only effects a pony when they use their voice; to talk, shout... sing. Playing instruments is fine and if a pony is rather musical, it's suggested to do that instead so that they don't hurt themselves more.” Vinyl could barely make out what was being said, Octavia never taking her head off of its resting place.

Vinyl sighed happily, if nothing else she would be able to play instruments and still be able to bring more music to the world. She still frowned though, even if Octavia was able to play instruments, knowing that an aspect of music was barred from her would still hurt.

“Is there a way to fix this?” Vinyl asked as she used her magic to start her laptop and began a search for more information about nodes. The Internet hasn't let her down yet, one just had to be sure of the sources.

“My case is in the advanced stages, normally by backing off, not doing as much singing or other things would lessen the effects and the swelling would go down. But I've been singing and performing for a long time now and all the strain of doing so is catching up with me. If it gets worse, I may have to get surgery, which will hamper or completely wreck my singing.” Octavia had both hooves around Vinyl in a strong hug, very grateful for the support and comfort the unicorn was offering.

Vinyl flinched, the thought of all the things that go with surgery running through her mind, as well as the cost of doing so. Her mind also went to how nervous Octavia was just going to the doctor's office, going in for surgery on her vocal chords would be terrifying. The white unicorn cast her mind around, trying to think of a way to help soothe the light-gray earth pony's nerves and saw her favorite mug sitting on her desk. It was seeing a lot of use with all the tea Octavia had been drinking lately and gave Vinyl an idea.

“Alright, well, let's take the rest of the day off and relax, ok? Come on, let's get you to bed, I'm sure it's been an exhausting day for you.” As the DJ led the other musician to her bed, she used her magic to start the process of making tea as well as getting the bed ready for an occupant.

Octavia let herself be led to bed and tucked in, enjoying the smell of tea and honey being made which was already helping clear her mind. Within moments the gray mare was in bed with her mug nearby steaming and ready for her. Vinyl worried for a moment about playing music to help or not but decided in the end to put on some of her more instrument-based mixes, still musical but no lyrics least the earth pony want to to sing along.

The two friends remained in their room the rest of the day, listening to the not so soft music and taking it easy. Vinyl stayed near Octavia and made sure to help with anything she needed. The unicorn wasn't sure if she was doing a proper job of comforting her friend, but the earth mare seemed rather pleased and that was what mattered the most.

(If Claire doesn't watch how she acts towards Tavi, then she's asking for trouble which I'll be more than happy to give her. Maybe there's something we haven't heard or know about with these 'nodes'... Let's see what the trusty internet says...) Vinyl spent most of her afternoon looking at various medical sites, trying to find more about what ailed her friend as Octavia took a nap to sleep off the blues and be ready for dealing with nodes.