Chord groaned as he rolled out of bed. He wasn't well-rested by any means, but his body had a habit of waking up in the middle of the night. Back home it was common for others to steal your belongings whilst you slept, so many were accustomed to sleeping with one eye open. Chord had mastered this skill, but sadly, the skill of returning to slumber perplexed his body. He awoke much earlier than the other two.
Chord trotted downstairs to the kitchen with a yawn and a dry, grainy feeling in his mouth. He approached the island and grabbed the kettle, running it under the kitchen sink until it was full; he assumed Octavia and Vinyl probably would've wanted some. He sat on a stool with his on the island, staring thoughtlessly at the kettle, hearing the gas stove beneath it whirr as the flames began to heat the water. It was long silences that often calmed Chord; long moments of mindlessness, free of worry. In the months before he left, gunfire often roused the mind, shook him. There was no time for the mind to wander off, no matter how hard he tried there was always incessant noise, the chaos of conflict. The silence was most certainly a godsend.
It was then that Chord's daze was interrupted by a gust of steam escaping the nozzle of the kettle with a sharp squeal, almost stopping his heart as it roused him out of his thoughtlessness. He shook his head frantically and looped around the island, tending to the kettle as he turned off the stove and began searching for a few glasses. Octavia neglected to tell him where the cups were stored, but Chord easily found them nonetheless, grabbing three out of an old oak cupboard and placing them out on the other side of the island. He grabbed his mug and an orange pekoe tea bag from a cupboard right next to the one where he had found the mugs, plopping the bag into his mug and filling it about halfway. He then took his mug and held it under the sink, filling it to around three-quarters full; this was his usual strategy when making tea. He had grown so cautious and jittery over the past couple months in his homeland that it became second nature to him to not waste any time waiting for anything or anypony.
With a series of awkward clanks and crashes, a mare emerged from the stairwell into the living room. She was a young mare, around the same age as Octavia, perhaps younger. Her appearance was opposite of Octavia's— loud and untamed. Granted, she was a little more unkempt than usual due to the fact that she had just awakened. Her crazed blue mane with light-blue highlights was spiky and wild— the stylized bed-head look — and her red eyes were still a little drowsy after a long night. She didn't seem to take notice of Chord's presence as she wandered over to the coffee kettle right next to the fridge, adjacent to the island, and her movements were like some kind of undead creature you'd see in a horror movie as she roamed the kitchen, slow and sluggish. She rubbed her eyes methodically with her right hoof as she searched the mug cupboard for her cup.
"Hey..." Chord said softly; he didn't want to rouse her from her routine so suddenly. However, there wasn't an answer, and she continued to search the cupboard for a mug. "Hello...? Um?" Again, no answer. "Vinyl?"
"Oh, shit! Wah?!" Vinyl's eyes widened as she glanced over to Chord, who simply stood at the sink with a cup of tea in his hoof watching her. "Oh, damn... I must've spaced out there. Sorry 'bout that, Tavi-." It was obvious Vinyl was still spacing out, as she mistook Chord's identity for somepony else. "Hey, you're the new guy!" The tiredness in her expression disappeared as she finally recognized him. "Ah, damn what's your name? Don't tell me! It's... Arpeggio Chord, right?"
"Yeah, you got it," Chord nodded as he took a sip from his mug, feeling the warm beverage slide down his throat. "And you're Vinyl Scratch?"
"You bet, Ace! Although, most of my friends call me 'DJ-Pon3'!" Vinyl stuck her tongue out wildly as she took a dramatic pose for added effect.
"Oh, dear... is she insisting you call her by that ludicrous name?" Octavia interrupted Vinyl's introduction as she stepped into the living room as well. "You can just call her by her real name, Arpeggio."
"Why do you always have to do that, Tavi?" Vinyl moped.
"Because no sane pony would ever call another by some silly stage name." Octavia shot her a snotty glance as she raised her chin defiantly. "Moreover, I-..." Octavia went silent as she looked down at the two cups sitting on the island, and she turned each over to check the bottom. "Neither of these cups are mine."
"Tavi, we only have one kind of mug— the dozen crappy white ones we got at that second-hoof store..." Vinyl sighed and shook her head as she watched Octavia frantically search the cupboard for her mug. "Uggh... Chord?"
"Yeah?" Chord said as he took another sip from his mug.
"Check the bottom of your mug for a little scratch." Vinyl scowled as Chord did as he was told. Sure enough, there it was. "Is it there?"
"Yeah," Chord nodded as Octavia sat back down at the table with a frown on her face. "Hey, Octavia, I can give you-."
"No! I-... it would be impolite of me to take the glass from you. I shall simply drink from his mug instead!" Octavia announced proudly, as if she had just given up smoking. She took the cup and poured herself some earl grey tea, then sat back down with a forced smile. Octavia took a sip from her cup, trying to ignore the alien mug to the best of her abilities. "Delicious..."
"You better switch with her quick before she pulls a muscle in her face..." Vinyl laughed as Chord quietly attempted to switch. However, Octavia shooed him away, determined to not be uncouth around her guest. "Ugghh... fine. Let her be the polite mare she always is."
"There is nothing wrong with some manners, Vinyl!" Octavia took her contained stress and flung it onto Vinyl, trying her best to keep a smile and a warm tone in her voice; this only came off as an unnerving for Chord as he drank from his mug. "I'm sorry, Arpeggio."
"It's, um... it's fine, Octavia..." Chord chuckled as he took a very long, awkward drink from his mug until his beverage was completely gone.
"So, awkwardness aside... wassup, Chord?" Vinyl changed the subject quickly before steam began to shoot out of Octavia's ears. "I hear you're an ace at the guitar! How's that?"
"Oh, um... it's alright," Chord cleared his throat as he placed his mug in the sink. "And you're a...?
"And up-and-coming techno artist, Ace!" Vinyl shouted as she poured herself some coffee; this was odd, as she hadn't even used the kettle. The coffee had just been sitting in the pot— cold. "I'm gonna be the best in the biz!"
"Uh... cool," Chord cracked a half-smile as he watched Vinyl down the whole mug of cold, day-old coffee in less than a few seconds. "Have you got any concerts that are coming up?"
"Nope! Right now I'm a free agent, baby!" Vinyl grinned as she tossed her mug into a very high-tech looking chrome dishwasher with a color-scheme strikingly similar to her mane. "What about you? Have you gone out and shared some music with Ponyville?"
"Nah, I arrived yesterday— didn't really have too much time to do much of anything," Chord replied as he leaned against the island in front of the stove.
"Ah, damn... sorry, I keep forgetting-. Yeah, sorry..." Vinyl shook her head, realizing Chord's reason for travelling to Ponyville. "I guess you need some groceries, right?"
"Yeah, but... I don't have any money right now or clothes," Chord said as he scratched the back of his head awkwardly. "I couldn't really take any-... yeah."
There was an uncomfortable silence for a while as Vinyl and Octavia both looked at each other, sympathetic for the young stallion down on his luck. He was far from home, without any other clothes to wear, and without a job. He was a fish out of water, and Vinyl and Octavia knew the feeling well. Though the circumstances of Chord's predicament were different, both mares had arrived in Ponyville with nothing but a dream. Although, they weren't even sure if Chord had a dream. He merely had a goal, and that was simply to survive. Dreams came later for him.
"Hey... you know, me and Tavi don't have too much, but me and her can split it for ya!" I'll take you shopping for groceries, and Octavia can take you shopping for clothes at the Boutique! Does that sound good, Ace?"
"Oh, guys, you don't have to-... I can just get a job, you know..." Chord didn't want them to pay for his expenses, as he had already eaten their food and slept in their bed. "I'm not a special snowflake, you really don't-."
"Nonsense, Arpeggio. You need a kick-start if you're going to live here, and Vinyl Scratch and I will not take no for an answer!" Octavia beamed as she placed her dirty mug in the sink. "Now, we should get going! What time is it, Vinyl?"
"Um..." Vinyl bobbed her head around a corner to look at the old grandfather clock on the others side of the room. "Nine o' clock. The market should be opening right about now. If me and Chord here hurry, we can make it there before it gets too crowded."
"Excellent, Vinyl! I'll get ready!" Octavia shouted down to them as she raced upstairs. "You take Chord, then I'll meet you at the Carousel Boutique in two hours! Rarity still owes me a favour, so perhaps she'll be willing to sew a few things out of her comfort zone for Chord."
"Sounds good, Tavi," Vinyl replied back to her as she grabbed her round, purple-tinted glasses off of the kitchen counter next to the empty fruit basket. She turned to Chord and grabbed him by the hoof. "C'mon, hotshot! Let's get going!"
"Um, wait!" Chord let go of her hoof and raced upstairs, grabbed his guitar, and went back down in a flash.
"Your guitar...?" Vinyl raised an eyebrow at Chord as he strapped his instrument to his back tightly, not willing to let it out of his immediate vicinity for even a moment. "Ah, whatever. Let's go!"
Ponyville Market was flooded with new, smiling faces, and a few sad and familiar ones from the train car as well; though, most had actually taken a carriage further south to find work elsewhere. There were still a hoofful of ponies from Blazeback Island browsing the marketplace with their new landlords. Chord walked along the row of various stands filled with fruits and vegetables, beverages sold by the crate, and other various edibles. Chord was a little dizzy from all the banter being tossed around the marketplace between shopkeepers, and he found himself quite lost amongst the buzzing crowd. If it was this noisy in the earlier hours, how loud was it during the afternoon?
Chord felt somepony brush up against his guitar, and he recoiled immediately in response. "Hey, what's wr-?"
"It's just me, dude," Vinyl laughed as she tugged at his scarf, pulling him over to a bucket of apples laying on the ground. "C'mon, over here! Here're some good eats!"
Beside the tub of apples was a yellow colored filly, about ten or perhaps a little older. She wore a large pink bow in her red mane, and her golden eyes were filled with energy and vigour. She may have been small but her presence took up much more room than one would expect. "Howdy, mister! You one of those newcomers? What's your name, sir?"
"It's Arpeggio Chord," Chord said as he adjusted his glasses. "What's your name?"
"It's Apple Bloom, pleased to meet ya!" The bright-eyed filly's smile grew wider as she noticed the mare beside him. "Well, if it isn't Vinyl Scratch! What brings you here?"
"Hey, Apple Bloom! I was just takin' a stroll through the market with my new roommate here!" Vinyl said as she nudged Chord with her hoof. "I thought I'd stop by and get some apples for this fine young stallion here!"
"Well, you're in luck, Mr. Chord! I'll give ya one apple to try for free, and if ya like 'em, I'll take two bits off your first purchase!" Apple Bloom grinned as she handed Chord a smooth and shiny red apple.
"Thanks," Chord said as he bit into the succulent and sweet fruit, savouring the first bite. "Wow, that's the best apple I've ever had!"
"You betcha, Mr. Chord! My family's apples are to die for!" Apple Bloom said with unparalleled enthusiasm as she reached into her bucket. "So, how many will it be, Mr. Chord?"
"We'll take a dozen, Apple Bloom," Vinyl requested as she handed the filly six bits. "So, how's the farm? Did you get a new roommate too?"
"Why yes, we did! Two in fact!" Apple Bloom said as she handed Chord his burlap sack full of apples. "The mare's a hard-workin' one I tell ya', and the big stallion is givin' my brother a run for his money!"
"Really? Never thought I'd hear something like that..." Vinyl shook her head in disbelief; the thought of a stallion outperforming Big Mac was ludicrous.
"Yeah, well, don't be spreadin' that around... my brother gets awful competitive," Apple Bloom giggled.
"What are their names?" Chord asked, his voice taking on a more serious tone. "The two from Blazeback I mean..."
"Well the stallion's name is Iron Back, and the mare's name is Glowing Hearth," Apple Bloom recalled. "You know 'em?"
"I think so..." Chord nodded as he thought for a moment. "Yeah... I'm pretty sure I went to elementary school with those two."
"Maybe I could get you guys together for a reunion?" Vinyl suggested to Chord.
"Nah, I should get a little more settled in here. They probably want the same thing," Chord turned down her offer and looked back at Apple Bloom. "Thanks, Apple Bloom."
"Your welcome, Mr. Chord! Hope you-..." Apple Bloom trailed off as she bobbed her head to the side, noticing the hardwood instrument strapped to Chord's back. "Say, is that a guitar you got yourself there?"
"Yep," Chord nodded as he brought the guitar closer to Apple Bloom so she could inspect it.
"Wow... it's a real beauty, Mr. Chord. My sister would be real jealous of somethin' like this," Apple Bloom grinned as she brushed the strings with her hoof. "Where'd you get it?"
"My father gave it to me," Chord smiled as he strapped the guitar back on his side.
"Oh? Where is he now?" Apple Bloom wondered.
Chord was silent for a moment as he tried to dispel the memories that took a hold of his mind like a patch of brambles, scraping at his skull. And his eyes went blank as his scarf seemed to grip his neck tighter from the tension. Apple Bloom's ears drooped as she translated Chord's shocked expression, and she looked over to Vinyl, who was at a loss on what to do.
"Hey, Mr. Chord? You okay...?" Apple Bloom inquired, tapping his leg with the tip of her hoof.
Chord' s expression returned to normal as he felt her hoof touch him, and he frantically shook his head to scare away the dark thoughts. "Yeah, I'm alright... thanks for the apples, Apple Bloom."
"Your welcome..." Apple Bloom nodded as she watched Chord turn away slowly. "Hey, Arpeggio..."
"Yeah, what is it?" Chord said with a half-smile as he turned back around.
"Um..." Apple Bloom handed him another sack of apples. "Here... no charge."
"Oh, I can't-."
"No, take it, Mr. Chord," Apple Bloom insisted as she glanced over at his guitar. "You can come by my place and show AJ that guitar of yours if you like, maybe play along with her sometime?"
"That sounds good. Thanks, Apple Bloom." Chord's half-smile stretched wider; though, he still found himself ashamed that he couldn't give the young filly a straight answer to her question. "Hopefully, I'll see you again..."
"Yeah, see you!" Apple Bloom felt a little better once Chord gave her a genuine smile.
As they both melted into the marketplace crowd, Vinyl adjusted her glasses, pondering over what had just happened. She could practically feel Chord shaking at the mere mentioning of his father, and it, in turn, sent shivers down her spine as well. What could've happened to Chord's father? She had no idea, and she thought it'd be best for her to be in the dark about the matter until Chord was ready to talk. Granted, she still wanted to make sure if her new roommate was a little better with a doubled load of apples and the promise of music.
"Yo, Arpeggio... you okay?" Vinyl asked the silent stallion as he trudged forward ahead of her.
"Yeah, I'm good, Vinyl..." Chord turned his head to Vinyl, giving her a bright smile. "Let's get the rest of my groceries, okay?"
"Um, okay..." Vinyl muttered to herself as she caught up to Chord.