• Published 9th Feb 2012
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HeartBeats and HeartStrings - DJ-PonRainbowFireJack



The story of the love and lives of Vinyl Scratch and Octavia

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Chapter Five

Chapter 5

Vinyl noticed how ponies stared at her as she followed Octavia through Manehattan. She wasn’t really the self-conscious type and usually she didn’t give a damn what others thought about her but, hell, this was making her incredibly uncomfortable. She hoisted her drum and the old overcoat up into a more comfortable position on her back, trying to distract herself from the ponies around her. Every look was judging and confused. Ponies looked on Octavia with pity, as if they thought Vinyl was forcing her company on her new friend. Or maybe they thought that Octavia was young and silly to think that Vinyl was worth her time.

Octavia, for her part, either didn’t notice the judgmental glares or chose to ignore them. She strode through the crowded streets with Vinyl close on her tail with such confidence that it took Vinyl a good ten minutes to realize that she had no clue where she was being led.

“Uh… Octavia… not meaning to be rude or nothin’ but… where the fuck are we going?”

Octavia glanced over her shoulder reprovingly. “Well, I can’t rightly take the carriage back to Canterlot, can I?”

“I don’t see why not.”

“And leave the rest of the quartet to find their own way home tomorrow? No, we are taking the train. I’m sure you are more familiar with trains anyhow.”

“And how exactly do you figure that one?”

“Well, I can tell you aren’t from Hoofklyn. Don’t be offended, of course, but your rough and tumble street accent is a tad over the top. You sound more like your from New Herdsey or somewhere. So I assumed that you’ve probably been traveling around by train.”

Vinyl rolled her eyes. She could already tell that it was going to be struggle with this one. “Well, aren’t you little miss Smarty Pants? You’re partly right. I got here on a train. But I’m not from New Herdsey.”

“Hmmm… Harmony Lakes? Around Wisclopson, perhaps?”

Vinyl made a noise like a buzzer. “Wrong again. Strike two.”

Octavia frowned a little. “Hmm… let me think… May I phone a friend?”

Vinyl let out a bark of laughter. “We’re playin’ baseball, honey, not a game show.”

“Fine… Can I have a hint?”

“Well, I could give you one, but it would probably just make it harder.”

“Give it to me anyways.”

Vinyl smirked. “Alright the, you’re the boss… My accent isn’t gonna help you much.”

“Drat,” Octavia muttered. “I take it you adopted a parent’s accent?”

“My mother’s… unfortunately,” Vinyl said bitterly.

“Was she from any of the places I guess.”

“Herdsey Shore.”

“Ahh… Father?”

“Wisclopson… but he moved to where I’m from when he was a teen.”

“And you won’t tell me?”

“Not ‘til ya guess,” she said with a wink as they approached the ticket window.

Octavia rolled her eyes and turned to the man behind the window. “I should have a private compartment on the midnight train bound for Canterlot reserved.”

“A private compartment when you originally thought you’d be travellin’ alone? Tad excessive, don’t ya think?”

Octavia scowled. “I need room for my cello,” she snapped, gesturing at her instrument. “I can’t allow anyone else to handle her. Besides, you should be grateful… I wouldn’t have room for you otherwise.”

Vinyl stuck her tongue between her teeth, her eyes sparkling mischievously. She stooped her knees to genuflect as if Octavia were Princess Celestia herself. “Forgive me, fair maiden, for my thoughtlessness. I bow at thy feet and kiss thy hooves to show my gratitude.”

Octavia flushed. “Let us not be over the top now,” she muttered.

Vinyl grinned as she got back to her feet. “But it’s one of my charms.”

The ticket holder watched this with amusement. “Now how in the world did ya get saddled up with a respectable young lady like this, Miss Vinyl?” he said as he pushed Octavia’s ticket through the window.

Vinyl smirked and leaned up against the ticket window. “My irresistible charm I guess. You know me, Velvet”

“So you’re leaving Manehattan for Canterlot, eh? How long has this been in the makin’?”

“A few hours. We met earlier this evening.”

Velvet the ticket pony raised his eyebrows. “Don’t ya think that’s a bit fast, even for you?”

Vinyl glanced over at Octavia. When she responded she had lowered her voice a little, trying to keep Octavia from hearing her response. “It’s not like that, Vel. She’s just bein’ a good Samaritan. Keepin’ me off the streets, ya know?”

Velvet snorted. “So ya goin’ all the way to Canterlot with her?”

“I’m impulsive. Besides, Manehattan hasn’t been kind to me. Maybe I’ll fair better in Canterlot.”

“Whatever ya say, Vinyl… But ya know the ponies in Canterlot are even snootier than Manehattanites.”

“I’ll manage. Thanks.”

“You know the railroad staff?” Octavia asked as they walked onto the platform.

Vinyl shrugged. “Some of ‘em. I used to hang around the station a lot whenever the city pissed me off. You know, consider hoppin’ the next train outta town, as if I had the money. Velvet always talked to me… He’s cool like that.”

“He seemed to know you very well. What was that bit about ‘a bit fast, even for you?’”

Vinyl stopped and bit her lip. This was test time. She’d come this far without flat out telling her new friend the truth about herself. Even though she’d thought she’d made it painfully obviously earlier, you never could tell what ponies like her would and wouldn’t pick up. There was also no telling what ponies like her would and wouldn’t accept. On one hoof, the population in Equestria that was like her was actually rather staggering. To have a prejudice against something so common was counterintuitive. On the other hoof, that prejudice existed anyway, particularly among the higher class. Her own mother was proof of that fact. There was no telling which camp Octavia would align with, but she couldn’t very well move in with a pony without her knowing the truth.

“Yeah, about that… There’s somethin’ I haven’t told you yet…”

“And that would be?” Octavia said as they boarded their train.

Vinyl looked around. “Let’s wait until we’re in our compartment.”

Octavia shot Vinyl a curious look, but said nothing. As Vinyl followed Octavia silently her heart began to accelerate rapidly. She didn’t know why. She didn’t even know this pony really. If it turned out that she harbored some illogical hatred for ponies like Vinyl, Vinyl would just part ways with her when the train stopped. It would be good to be out of Manehattan regardless. She had almost exhausted her resources there, not to mention that she probably had a few angry ponies on her tail for unsettled debts. It would be good to be away from the constant fear of Red Hooves, the watchful eye of Golden Tooth, and the unrelented rejection whenever she’d tried to bring her music up on the real stage. All that Octavia really was to her was a free ride away from the city that never sleeps and, if all went well, a place to stay until she got her bearings. But she didn’t need that part. She’d moved around before without help. She could manage this time. So why was she so terrified of Octavia’s reaction?

“Well? What is it that you need to tell me?” Octavia asked as she closed their compartment door and stored her bagged in the luggage bin. Vinyl watched as she leaned her cello delicately against the seat and turned back to face her expectantly. “Well?”

“Look, I probably should have mentioned this before I agreed to let you put me up for a while but… I’m a lesbian.”

Octavia looked at her for a long moment. “Figures,” she said with a shrugged as she perched herself on the wide, cushioned seat.

Vinyl furrowed her brows. “Meaning?”

Octavia laughed. “Vinyl, you were coming on pretty strong earlier… calling me sweet cheeks… making the joke about me taking you back to my place… It’s hardly a shocker.”

“So you’re okay with it?”

Octavia smiled. “Of course. Honestly, Vinyl, the lesbian or bisexual population in Equestria is so high that any given female pony probably has a 50% chance of liking mares, if not more.”

“Does it bother you that you’ll be sleeping in the same house as one, though?”

This caused Octavia to laugh a little. “Vinyl, I know that just because you like girls doesn’t mean you’re going to try to force anything on to me. This is just a friend helping a friend. You’re a lesbian, not a serial rapist.”

Vinyl let out a sigh of relief and collapse on the seat next to Octavia. “I’m glad you see it that way… You’d be surprised how much hatred there is for ponies like me, even in a place like Equestria where it’s expected.”

“Oh, trust me, I’m not surprised,” Octavia muttered. “I’ve encountered it myself.”

Vinyl raised her eyebrows. “Really? But you’re not…”

“No, I’m not… but there was a rumor for a while… and my little sister is… That never really sat well with my parents, but they learned to tolerate it. My older sister though… Let’s just say that my family is a little at odds.”

Vinyl snorted. “Been there, done that, and all I got was this crappy hat and a bad attitude. But enough about that… You told me if I came to the concert you would tell me your last name.”

Octavia looked at Vinyl reprovingly. She hadn’t really expected Vinyl to care enough to bring it up again, but it was clear from the expectant look on Vinyl’s face that she really was fishing for an answer. Octavia wasn’t really sure how much information she wanted to dole out, but it would be silly to hold back her surname. She’d already spilled the beans on some of her family trauma that she usually avoided talking about. She didn’t know why she had done that. Something about Vinyl made her feel comfortable, but at the same time very cautious.

She glanced at Vinyl with a twinkle in her eye. “But you didn’t come to my concert, Vinyl. You sold the tickets for fifty bits each.”

Vinyl sat up straight in protest. “I came! I just didn’t want to go inside and stink up the place. I sat there in the cold and listened to the whole damn thing.”

“It would have been nicer in the auditorium.”

“I’m sure it would have been… Come on, Octavia, it’s a last name. I’m going to find out anyway when I snoop in your stuff.”

Octavia’s mouth dropped. “You’d snoop through my stuff?”

“I have to know who I’m living with.”

“That’s not fair. You don’t have any stuff for me to snoop through.”

“You’ll just have to trust me.”

“Forgive me for saying so, but you are far less trust worthy than myself. I literally know nothing of where you come from or who you are really. And no way to find out unless I trick it out of you.”

“Not true. You know that my mother was from Herdsey, my father was from Wisclopson, I’m not from either of those places, I have an older sister, and that my family hates me. What more do you need to know?”

“I’d like to know a lot more.”

“All I want to know is your last name. You brought it up, talking about your family.”

Octavia scowled. “It’s Pie. My surname is Pie.”

Vinyl cocked her head a little as something seemed to register in her mind. Octavia looked at her curiously. “Pie… with a lesbian little sister.”

“Yes,” Octavia said slowly. “What of it?”

Vinyl shook her head. “Nothing. Nothing.”

But Octavia could tell that it wasn’t nothing. Something about her last name had triggered a memory for Vinyl. Clearly it was a memory she wasn’t comfortable talking about. It must have something to do with her childhood. Or perhaps a time in her years of being homeless that she didn’t want to think about. Either way, it seemed to have something to do with Octavia’s own little sister, who was in Ponyville.

As much as she wanted to know what Vinyl’s connection with Ponyville and Pinkie was, she didn’t pry. She wanted Vinyl to comfortable with her and Celestia knew that a pony who had been living on the streets for so long, a pony with such a shady and clearly distressing past would not trust easily. Octavia would have to ease into a more friendly relationship with Vinyl. She just hoped she could do it before her new friend got nervous and disappeared.

Vinyl sat watching the scenes whiz by out the window. Octavia wondered what she was thinking, but she was afraid to ask. She tough as Vinyl's exterior was, Octavia got the impression that on the inside she was like a frightened fawn. One wrong move and she would bolt. Not that Octavia would ever say that to Vinyl's face. She had a feeling that the young girl would take incredible offense to being compared to a baby deer. Even so, though Octavia was careful, she watched Vinyl closely, the she cleared her throat. Vinyl looked away from the window and at her with a wary expression on her face.

"So, Vinyl... umm... how long have you been in Manehattan?"

Vinyl was silent for a moment, then seem to decide that it was a safe question. "Three years... give or take."

"Oh my," Octavia said in surprise. "That' quite a long time. We you on your own the whole time?"

"You mean homeless?"

"Yes, I suppose..."

Vinyl shrugged. "Yeah, but it wasn't so bad. I had enough... A few ponies I knew who could help me get by."

"Still... that's a long time to be out on your own. You were thirteen when you left home?"

"Yes," Vinyl said grudgingly.

"Wow... So young. And you left because of something to do with your family?"

Vinyl looked at Octavia for a long moment, her face expressionless. Then she turned back to the window. Octavia sighed. "Okay, I understand. Off limits question... umm... What are you thinking you want to do in the way of music?"

Vinyl turned back to Octavia, looking much more willing to answer the question. "You're probably gonna think this is totally stupid, but I've always kinda wanted to be a disc jockey."

Octavia was surprised. "A disc jockey? In a nightclub?"

"And other shit too... not just nightclubs."

"But... you have so much talent! Why would you want to waste it DJ-ing?"

Vinyl scowled. "Yeah, I knew you'd say that. I don't think it's wasting my talent. I wouldn't just be your average shitty DJ that remixes that same shitty songs that everypony's already heard, I just... I mean, I would do that too, but... I don't know... The fact that you can take somethin' that already exists and turn it into somethin' totally new is... incredible... It's like givin' older music a new beginning... a new life..."

Octavia got the distinct impression that Vinyl wasn't just talking about the music. "But wouldn't you want to make your own music?"

"I would," Vinyl said firmly. "That's the other thing... A synthesizer... It's so much more than an electronic way to copy instruments that already exist. You can use technology to be its own instrument. It's an totally original sound that nothing else can make."

Octavia smiled as Vinyl continued to talk, watching as she gestured her hooves enthusiastically. When she talked about music there was a spark in her eyes that hadn't been there before. It brought life back to the parts of her face that had looked dead before. It opened up a whole new side of her that Octavia wasn't even entirely certain Vinyl knew existed in herself. She no longer looked like a dirty street bum. While she spoke Octavia hardly noticed that the whites of her eyes were stained red. It didn't matter that she didn't have a complete education and that her speech wasn't so refined because when she was talking about music, for at least a while, her face was alive. It was a thing to witness.

Suddenly the train came to a stop at Canterlot Central Station. Vinyl frowned and looked up. "Are we there already?"

Octavia laughed a little. "You have been talking for a while now, Vinyl."

"Oh, really? Oops, sorry, babe... Didn't mean to be an attention whore..."

"Don't worry about it," Octavia said, standing up and hoisting her cello and her suitcase onto her back. "The train ride wasn't really so long... It was only an hour... besides, I enjoyed listening to you talk. It was a brand new take on music that I've never heard before... Not that I fully understand all of your perspective..."

"What do ya mean?" Vinyl asked as they deboarded their train and stepped down onto the platform.

Octavia frowned a little. "I understood what you were saying about making completed worked new again and giving them new life. However, I don't see how that can be something that somepony who calls themselves a musician would want to do with their time."

Vinyl frowned. "How it it different from a string quartet covering a Coltzart piece?"

"Coltzart was a renowned composer and musical genius. Performing his masterpieces is not the same as using soulless machines to remix soulless music."

Vinyl scowled. "It's only different to you because you have snooty music schooling tellin' ya it's different," she snapped.

"No, it's different because it's actually different!" Octavia retorted as they got into a taxi carriage to take them to her apartment.

"You're just being closed-minded."

"I'm being a cultured musician, something you could take a cue from!"

"Or you could stop bein' a pompous asshole and recognize that I'm just different!"

"Listen, ladies!" the pony pulling their carriage yelled. "I'm gonna gonna stand here all day and wait for you to finish your argument! Either you need a ride somewhere or you don't!"

Octavia started. "Oh, I'm extremely sorry," she said earnestly before giving her address.

Octavia and Vinyl bickered the whole way back. Octavia just couldn't understand Vinyl's take on music and Vinyl couldn't seem to understand her side either. She just kept stubbornly insisting that Octavia was being closed-minded and snooty, but that wasn't the case! Octavia was right, and she had a diploma from the Conservatory and a slot as the cellist in the Equestrian National String Quartet to prove it. But she couldn't make Vinyl see that. Vinyl may be a naturally talented musician, but she was not the skilled and educated musician that Octavia was. It just really pained Octavia that Vinyl would waste her talent like that... The way she'd talked about her music... That was certainly a passion that she wanted utilized to its fullest extent.

They arrived at her apartment on the fifth floor of her building after having bickered all the way up the stairs. Octavia sighed. "Can we just agree to disagree? We're here."

Vinyl thought for a moment, then sighed. "Fine," she condeded. "For now."

Nodding in relief, Octavia put her key into the lock, turned it, and opened the door to her apartment.