Perfect Pitch

by Wolfie 03

Pinch Me

The day after finding out she had nodes, Octavia had noticed how Vinyl was avoiding singing or songs with lyrics when they were together. The earth pony appreciated the thought, but she didn't want to stop listening to a certain kind of music because she had nodes; she wasn't going to let them rule her whole life.

Vinyl had found more information about nodes and the cost of the surgery through online and different pamphlets, it wasn't going to be cheap and she had no idea what Octavia's home environment was like in order to help. The earth pony was acting rather evasive about her family and Vinyl didn't want to press, she was doing the same thing after all about her own history. The light gray mare hadn't quite decided on what to do about her nodes and it was making the DJ anxious; somehow Octavia had found a way into the unicorn's heart and that scared Vinyl, especially since Octavia was in pain and she couldn't do much to help.

In an attempt to lessen the pain, they used the L33t journal much more and it often just sat in the middle of their room to save them time from passing it back and forth. Octavia thought it was a little silly to go that far but Vinyl insisted, so the gray mare followed along thinking that it was rather sweet of her to worry so much.

Vinyl, on the other hoof, kept a close watch on the leader of the Equestrian Girls during the next three practices before their 'gig'; Claire Belle never let up on anypony and Octavia wouldn't speak up about her new health concern.

Claire had been forcing everyone to run through what they learned after every practice, which at least made them not so nervous about it; they knew they still weren't very good and that nothing was too much worse than Claire chewing them out.

The upside to all the work they were putting into it was that they had the singing part, it was just the movements that were tripping them up.

During practice, the days after discovering Octavia's nodes and the two hour long 'discussion' about why Octavia didn't want to say anything about it, Vinyl figured out a subtle way to make sure Octavia had plenty of water. She would use her magic to levitate water for herself and no one would notice the extra bottle that Octavia would get; the only drawback was that Vinyl had to drink or least look like she was drinking a lot more water more often than she really needed or wanted.

The next day though, Vinyl noticed how no one paid extra attention to when the white unicorn was casting magic, having seen her use it so often before which meant she didn't have to drink as much in order to help Octavia at the same time; though she kept a close eye out just in case.

Claire rode hard on everyone but especially went after Octavia, whom she expected to set the example. After each practice, Octavia would rush the brash unicorn out to their room where she would hug, comfort and calm the mare who had started to not speak at all during practices unless it was to sing or to warm up; Vinyl didn't want to upset the gray mare more than she already was and knew that if she spoke to anyone in their practice sessions she would explode.

It was during one of these hugging sessions the day before their gig when Pinkie Pie knocked on their door. Vinyl grumbled slightly as she broke from the hug while Octavia just smiled at how much the unicorn didn't want to stop.

The light gray mare had long since given into the 'no speaking when in their dorm room' rule which was for the sake of saving her voice for later; though Octavia joked that it was just to keep her quiet (which would send Vinyl into a tizzy of blushing and furiously denying such a thing).

Vinyl stomped her way over to the door and jerk it open with a sharp “what?!”. The answer she got in return was a loud bang and confetti with streamers flying in to the room.

“Hi Vinyl! How are you doing? Oh hey! I didn't know you two shared a room, hi Octavia! This saves me time from having to track you down! Wow, your room looks interesting!” Pinkie Pie hopped past Vinyl who had been shocked out of her annoyed state and had instinctively stepped back at the noise and sight.

Octavia covered her mouth to hide her giggles at seeing the white mare in a shocked stupor.

“Hi Pinkie Pie. What brings you here?” Octavia asked once she had control of the giggles, though she tilted her head in question when Vinyl shot her an annoyed glace because she was speaking.

“Ooohh, you guys are getting better at the whole 'telepathy' thingy, though why are you annoyed that she's talking Vinyl? Do you not like her? Do you not like the sound of her voice? I thought you two were really good friends? *GASP* Does this mean you're fri-enemies? Those aren't fun at all! Hmmm, though you know, Tavi, your voice does sound weird, and not the good kind of weird, like the taste of fizzy sarsaparilla... Are you ok?” Pinkie Pie leaned towards the light gray mare as the two roommates were surprised at just how perceptive yet still jump to conclusions the party mare was.

Octavia shook free of her surprise first and smiled rudely; the truth would come out eventually, might as well tell the pink mare and make her promise not to tell anyone until Octavia was ready to do so.

“Vinyl's just worried about me using my voice too much, and I'm pretty sure she likes how my voice sounds normally...” Octavia looked to the unicorn who nodded a few times to the statement, causing Octavia to smile a little more naturally.

“And we are friends. It's just that I have vocal nodules, which means that it hurts to sing, shout or even talk sometimes. The only way to get better is to not do so much of all those things, but I don't want to stop singing... Promise you won't tell anypony about it? I'll let the others know when the time is right.” Octavia trailed off as she noticed the pink mare's sadness.

“I understand, and I'll Pinkie Promise to not tell anypony! Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye! And singing is really fun, but getting hurt because of it isn't! This means a change of plans...” Pinkie Pie sat down suddenly a she tapped a hoof to her chin. The two roommates shared a confused look at the odd promise, but it sounded serious, even if the motions weren't.

While Octavia had been explaining everything, Vinyl had gotten a cup of tea and honey ready to soothe her throat. Octavia shook her head with a smile at Vinyl's paranoia and obsessive worrying, but took the offered cup all the same; after all it wouldn't hurt to drink it.

“What plans Pinkie?” Vinyl turned to the party mare, a little concerned at what she may have been planning in the first place.

“Well, I've been hanging out with all the different ponies on our team like you suggested and I've hung out with everyone but you two and Claire. Claire is really hard to find, almost like she doesn't want to hang out with anypony... So now, it's your turn! And since you guys are roommates, we should all hang out together!” Pinkie Pie grinned at the dumbfounded expression on the others' faces, though Vinyl's hoof soon found its second favorite spot, which was against her forehead.

Vinyl felt bad for literally having released the party kraken on the rest of the Equestrian Girls; she hadn't known that that was what the party mare would do from just a couple of words said in an attempt to cheer her up after a bad practice.

“Oh, uhm, I don't think Claire would want to hang out too much right now Pinkie Pie. Though I don't see an issue with the three of us doing so, what did you have in mind?” Octavia tried not to laugh at the image of Claire and the extreme partier hanging out.

Pinkie tapped her chin for a moment longer before her whole face lit up with a large smile.

“Come on! I know just what we'll do!” She put a hoof around both their shoulders and led the way out of the dorms.

Constantly getting hugs from others lately made Vinyl not stiffen or get as nervous while being touched, so she could use the extra focus to wonder how the party mare was able to drag the two along and not have to stand completely on two hooves, doing some kind of leaning forward thing but without putting much weight on the two friends; though she wasn't getting far in the endeavor. By the time that the DJ just accepted that she would never really figure out how Pinkie Pie did anything, the trio found themselves in the center of a presentation of the Film, Fashion and Art Majors.

The different Majors were putting on various performances, showing some of their first works of the year; this was a way for them to learn how to work with deadlines and putting their work on display. The Music Majors were planning something similar at the end of the month, using various methods and magic so that the music didn't clash too badly as they all played roughly at the same time while the Clowning and Science Majors also gave presentations and performances.

Vinyl actually had that whole evening planned out around what band Octavia would be playing in at the different times; she wanted to see the gray mare in a proper performance setting. But for the current collaboration, Pinkie led the way to where the Film Majors were showing off what had been made.

“See, the Film Ponies made some really cool movies and since it's not a big ol' company or anything, they're having the tickets for cheap! One ticket is only two bits! And you'd have plenty left over for popcorn and slushies and candies and they don't serve cupcakes but it's still pretty good. And this way you won't have to worry about your voice because only a meany rude pants would talk during a movie!” Pinkie Pie grinned at the two who had also begun to smile at the idea of watching a movie.

“You know Pinks, that's not a bad idea. What do you say Tavi?” Vinyl looked at the gray who seemed rather interested in what was to be shown.

“It sounds like an excellent idea. Let's get our tickets.” Octavia started to lead the way but was soon overtaken by the bouncing pink mare who ordered tickets for all three of them to see a film that had been the final project of Russling Chuckles, about a pony who found a green tribal mask with special abilities who gets into trouble with the local gangs.

It was the kind of film that had the trio laughing throughout most of it, though Pinkie Pie did ask why Vinyl was wearing her glasses in the dark theater at the start to which Vinyl had stated that she was fine and didn't want to talk about it.

Octavia had softly reassured the pink mare while Vinyl felt bad for snapping at her, but she didn't want to argue about that topic in public. The trio enjoyed their movie and watched some comedic shorts made by the younger students that came on afterwards before looking at the rest of the collaboration.

They watched the Fashion Show for a little while, to see some of the newest trends and browsed some of the catalogs the Fashion Majors had set up. Vinyl was mildly surprised to find Octavia checking the formal suites; when questioned, Octavia admitted that she didn't have any formal attire that she liked and was looking for something to wear as 'formal' without hindering her playing ability.

As Octavia turned the page to simpler ware, such as neckties, scarves and bow-ties, Vinyl slowly grinned as an idea came to her on how to help her friend with her fashion problem. After quickly memorizing who was selling the clothes in the magazine they were currently looking at, she pulled the light gray and the pink mares away under the pretense of wanting to look at the art displays next.

As the trio walked over to the room that led to all the displays of the various arts, they came across Lyra walking with a pale gray-olive earth pony with a deep orange mane. As the two were exiting the room, they noticed the three who were about to enter. They all stopped, a little surprise at seeing each other there; though Pinkie Pie was the first to speak, hopping around the exiting pair.

“Well hi Lyra! Are you here to enjoy all this cool stuff too? Did you see the movie? How about the fashion show? Huh? Didja didja didja?” Pinkie Pie stopped hopping to stand right in front of the duo as she leaned towards them, Lyra looking a little amused at the usual antics while the other backed away slightly in surprise at the rapid speech.

Vinyl face-hoofed at Pinkie Pie's methods while Octavia giggled politely.

“Sorry, she means well and I swear she didn't have too much sugar yet.” Vinyl stated as she pulled the pink earth pony back with her magic, while the pink mare just giggled at the feeling of weightlessness. Lyra gave a light laugh as she waved away the partial apology.

“That's ok. Allow me to introduce my new marefriend, Carrot Top. Carrot, these are my fellow A Cappella singers: Pinkie Pie, Vinyl, and Octavia.” Lyra introduced while pointing a hoof to each pony respectively.

As they exchanged greetings, Lyra and Octavia managed to make eye-contact with more understanding passing between the two as Octavia subtly raised a brow and Lyra nodded once with only a fraction of movement.

While both ponies tried to be subtle about the exchange, it was not lost on either Vinyl or Carrot Top, though Pinkie Pie was off in her own little world making plans for a 'congratulations for your new relationship!' party. Lyra noted the slightly growing looks of superstition on the two ponies (noting with an amused glance that Pinkie Pie was still in planning party mode) and decided that it would take some private explaining to ease any of the doubt Carrot Top was starting to have.

“Well, it was nice seeing you girls. Come on Carrot Top, let's see what movie Pinkie Pie was talking about.” Lyra smiled at her marefriend as she ushered the pale gray-olive pony away from the trio.

“I'll tell you guys when the party is, ok?! BYE!! Enjoy your date!” Pinkie Pie waved to the two retreating figures while Lyra waved back with Carrot Top asking about the look the mint-green mare had shared with the gray one.

As Pinkie Pie led the way inside the exhibition with happy hops, Vinyl tried to focus on Lyra's response; the white unicorn didn't like how the two seemed to bond and understand each other so well and wanted to know what was going on.

“Well, Octavia understands what my parents are like and why I'm on the 'outs' with them.” Lyra explained sheepishly. Carrot Top was a little annoyed with the vague response and tried to get a more in-depth answer.

“... I see. And you are not getting along with your family because...?” Carrot Top peered at the mint-green unicorn as they walked farther down the hallway, making it so Vinyl could only barely make out what the answer was.

“Because I like mares and didn't want them to tell me how to live my whole life.” Lyra said simply with a small shrug, causing Carrot Top to nuzzle her in comfort and affection at the revelation.

Before Vinyl could speculate on how Octavia was able to relate to the mint-green mare, she heard the gray mare in question calling.

“Vinyl, what are you doing staring off into space? Aren't you coming, I thought you wanted to look at all the displays.” Octavia stepped up next to the white unicorn, speaking softly with the knowledge that Vinyl would still hear every word due to her hearing.

“Oh, er, nothing. I was just thinking of some, ah, DJ stuff. Yeah. Anyways, let's head inside. What are we waiting for?” Vinyl tried to deflect the curious mare as she trotted past her into the art exhibit. Octavia just shook her head at the white mare's attempt at dismissing what she was doing and followed along with a smile.

Inside, they found Windy Day standing in front of an interesting painting, depicting a tornado that held a mis-mash of things inside of it, with a long serpent-like shadow in the background who seemed to be laughing as the tornado spun in place in the middle of a dessert of a town, with houses broken down and not much greenery left on any plants nearby. The trio noticed how ponies would stop by, become distrubed at the painting, and as Windy Day quietly said something they would leave.

Pinkie Pie led the way over to the peagasus and they stopped in front of the painting and its creator.

“Hey Windy Day! Oooh, is this the painting you were making the day we hung out?” Pinkie Pie asked as she tilted her head this way and that as she looked at the art. “Is that chocolate rain in the background?!”

“This is to represent the day that the spirit of disharmony breaks free of his stone prison and reigns once more.”

Vinyl and Octavia stared in confusion at the sky-blue mare, one with no understanding of what was being said and the other with complete understanding but unwilling to make a comment about such a thing.

“Oooh, ok. That makes sense.” Pinkie Pie stopped tilting her head and just looked at the painting for a while longer as the others tried to think of anything to say.

“Well, it was nice seeing you here Windy Day. We didn't know that you were an Art Major, good luck with your painting. We'll see you later, alright?” Octavia said as she put a hoof to the pink mare's shoulder to get her attention to continue on their tour of the arts.

“Oh, I'm not an Art Major, I'm in the Art Club. I try to warn ponies of their impending doom through works of art...”

Vinyl's eyes grew wide at this statement and decided that it was high time to move on.

“Hoookay. That sounds wonderful, good luck with that. Come on Tavi, Pinkie, let's go look at that thing over there. Bye Windy Day!” Vinyl pushed at the others to get them to move on since they had stopped to try and figure out what was said.

The three friends continued to look at all the art that was masterfully presented, amazed that ponies could create such things. Since they spent the afternoon sightseeing, they grabbed lunch at the Baking Club's stand, which for some odd reason Pinkie Pie had been banned from helping at. As Octavia and Vinyl watched the hyper mare eat her way through a dozen of cupcakes and muffins, they began to suspect why the baker couldn't help her club.

If it weren't for the fact that the two roommates didn't have Pinkie Pie's endless energy, they would have stayed out until late that night; but they had to retire a little after suppertime with the still hyper mare waving them off.

Vinyl was especially happy at how their day had turned out, it seemed to have both lifted Octavia's spirit and help her feel a little better. The young DJ realized that trying to do everything for the gray mare may have been just as hurtful as helpful, and the first thing she did when they got back to their room was to take back the 'no talking' rule.

“Are you sure Vinyl?” Octavia asked, curious as to where the sudden change of mind came from. Vinyl scrapped a hoof along the ground as she sat near her desk while the other was near her own.

“Yeah, I mean, I realized how stupid the rule was and while I don't want you to hurt yourself more, I shouldn't try and tell you how to live.” Vinyl flipped her ears back as she realized that if the thing Lyra and Octavia had bonded over was controlling parents, then she must have seemed pretty bad in the light gray mare's eyes.

Octavia noticed Vinyl's self-realization and how much more depressed she became because of it. She sat next to the white unicorn and gave her a hug, casting her mind about for what may have caused Vinyl to be so unsure of herself only to come up with the things she had been worrying about since finding out the latest 'issue'.

“I am grateful that you care about my health, truly. And while that 'rule' was a touch silly, your heart was in the right place. I'll make sure to take care of my voice as much as possible, don't you worry.” Octavia rested her head on top of Vinyl's which had dropped lower during her reflection.

At the light gray mare's words, Vinyl knew her overbearing actions were forgiven and relaxed a little, grateful for the hug and kind words. The two friends stayed in their room the rest of the evening, catching up on their homework that had been put aside when Pinkie had came in that morning.

However, they were so tired that they went to bed early; the next day they had half-practice along with their gig in the afternoon.

Claire Belle ran through their performance the next morning a few more times before finishing practice early so not to exhaust everyone and to relax before their first live performance. In an attempt to not stress herself and others out, Claire refrained from her usual criticism; for which Vinyl was grateful since Octavia had held back a little to save her voice for their gig that day.

In order to not worry about performing in front of a large audience, Vinyl prepared for all the things they were going to do in her classes, thinking of how all this extra attention was extremely helpful to getting good grades. She settled into her work and only stopped when Octavia told her it was time to go.

Since Vinyl hadn't actually paid attention to what Claire said about their gig (first having been distracted with how she had complained at their first meeting and then in an attempt to stay out of trouble) the unicorn just followed Octavia out of their dorm room to the edge of campus that was actually rather close by.

They were to perform for a local fraternity that was hosting a mixer, for which they had to constantly remind the original party mare that she could NOT help them with it, they had to perform. The fraternity's residence was near the music dorms on the edge of campus, with a house that was three stories deep inside the earth to have more room for their members. As with the rest of campus, there were a lot of trees around and close by the fraternity.

As the Equestrian Girls arrived, they set up on a a small multi-tiered stage outside the back doors of the building, facing the majority of the crowd who was enjoying a cookout along with other party supplies. They had three rows, with Cloud Kicker, Windy Day, Vinyl and Pinkie Pie in back, Blossomforth, Arpeggio and Lyra in the middle, and Beautiful Composition, Octavia and Claire Belle in front.

Vinyl tried very hard to keep from being annoyed and face-hoofing at performing so soon since they first started working together.

Vinyl did have one thing to say about the quality of the performance, they got most of the singing down. A little out of tune, but together for the most part; it was their movements that were out of time. It also didn't didn't help that the party was outside and had no acoustics. While they sang, Windy day couldn't stop moving, Beautiful Composition was going too early and Lyra had gotten stiff again from performing in front of snobbish ponies.

Claire and Octavia never really saw any of this since they were in front but could tell by the faces around them that it was bad. Vinyl tried to remain neutral and focused internally, though as a dark blue peagasus demand that they stop, Vinyl focused on Octavia, knowing that her nodes were acting up already judging by how she was gasping and wincing when she thought no one was looking.

After a quiet and pretty quick discussion with the pony hosting the party, Claire turned sharply around to call to the Equestrian Girls.

“Come on, let's head out.” Claire led the way from the field that the party was at and once they were almost to their practice room, turned to face everypony once more.

“I want everyone to remember how you feel right now so you'll never want to feel this way again!” Vinyl rolled her eyes, she couldn't believe Claire wanted to start a blame-fest.

('Cause this is an awesome way to get us to work harder and better. Even I know not to focus on the negatives and I've only been at this for a month and a half!) Vinyl came to her surroundings once more as Claire turned to Octavia and started to chew her out as well; something the white unicorn wasn't going to stand for at all.

“Octavia, what is wrong with you? Your voice is not Aguilerian at all!”

“Oy, you leave her alone, she is working just as hard as the rest of us and you expect way too much after less than two weeks of practice! You're just -” Vinyl was planning on letting Claire have it when Octavia put a hoof on her shoulder and sighed before cutting the DJ off.

“Vinyl, stop. Claire, I'm sorry I'm not up to my usual standards.” Octavia noticed Vinyl's annoyed look and continued on. “I have nodes. I found out a few days ago.”

All the musical majoring ponies gasped while the rest looked confused and concerned, not sure what it meant. Claire's anger dropped away as she put a comforting hoof on Octavia's shoulder as Vinyl watched her from the other side.

“What's nodes?” Blossomforth asked as the others all gathered around to face Octavia, who looked up at the question.

“Vocal nodules. The rubbing of vocal chords at high frequencies without proper lubrication.” Claire responded for the gray mare, sadness laced through her voice.

Everyone's ears flattened as they thought about what that meant for a singer. Vinyl couldn't stand to see the sadness in everyone else's eyes nor the return of sadness to Octavia's and looked to the ground instead. Pinkie Pie was also sad at all these reactions and tried to think of the best way to cheer everypony up; she was getting frustrated when nothing came to mind.

“Don't worry; I will just have to hold back, because of my nodes. I love to sing and singing for the Equestrian Girls; I'm not going to stop until we're the champions.” Octavia gave a small smile to those around her, glad to have so many concerned for her.

Upon seeing the gray mare's smile and knowing that she was going to go through that pain so that the Equestrian Girls could try for the gold once more, everyone's spirits picked up slightly. Pinkie finally found the best way to cheer everyone up and shouted “group hug!” as she pulled them all together.

At the sudden hug session that caught everyone by surprise, they all laughed and did as commanded, which lifted their spirits even more. After the hug ended, Claire reminded them of practice the next day and asked Octavia to speak with her when she had a moment. The gray mare nodded before glancing over to the white unicorn who had a light blush on her face at being part of such a large group hug.

Octavia laughed at the sight of the embarrassed unicorn while Vinyl grumbled at how sappy everything was getting; everyone else was just glad to see Octavia in better spirits and if Vinyl helped her be that way then it was fine with them.

Everyone took the rest of the day off to unwind from the performance and the news about one of their best singers losing the ability to do so and went their separate ways. Claire and Octavia walked away to discuss what this would mean for the team while Vinyl debated staying put and waiting or heading back to their room.

In the end she decided to just wait back in their room, she wanted to make some proper and much cooler music unlike what they were being force to sing.