• 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 Six

Chapter 6

“Wow,” Vinyl breathed as she stepped gingerly into Octavia’s fifth floor apartment.

“Wow what?” Octavia asked distractedly as she hung up her cloak in the hall closet.

Vinyl looked at Octavia with every ounce of disbelief she could muster. “Wow what? Wow what? Angel face, have you seen your own apartment?”

Vinyl couldn’t remember the last time she had been in a place so clean; so elegant. Octavia’s place was modern with large windows looking out over the Canterlot skyline. It wasn’t amazingly colorful, but it was still bright, with white walls and a glistening light wood floor. Vinyl walked in amazement down the three stairs into the main living space. She was almost afraid to touch the L-shaped gray sofa that framed the glass topped coffee table, for fear of ruining its impeccable cleanness. She tentatively ran her hoof as gently as she could across the satin, purple throw pillows on the couch. After years of living on the streets seeing a place this clean was almost unnatural.

“Vinyl, I’m not living in royal luxury. This is nowhere near as nice as the residences in the Inner Circle.”

Vinyl snorted. “Well, then, remind me to break into one of those houses some time.”

Octavia scowled. “I’m going to regret allowing you into my home, aren’t I?”

Vinyl winked. “Babe, I can guarantee it… But for now I’ll get out of your mane because I have to wash my own. I haven’t had a real shower or bath in… well, let’s just say a really long time.”

“Of course. The bathroom is the first door on the left down the hall.”

Vinyl tipped her hat and followed Octavia’s instructions to a simple white door. She opened it expectantly. “Oh, look!” she called back to Octavia. “Just as I expected! Marble floors!”

She heard Octavia make a noise of annoyance. “Just take your shower.”

Chuckling, Vinyl picked off her dirty scarf and hat. Not wanting to dirty up the pristine floor she hung them carefully on the doorknob. She would probably just throw them out later. She walked across the furry white rug to the shower, stopping to glance at herself in the large mirror that covered the whole wall above the long, white counter and sink. She grimaced at what she saw. In all honesty she hadn’t gotten a good look at herself in a long time. Her hair was so filthy and oily that nopony would ever guess that naturally, however hard she tried to hide it, it was kinky and wavy. She was pretty sure she was white under all the filth, but at the moment she was coated in a greenish-brown tint. But perhaps most cringe worthy was her eyes. It was as if the entire eye was red. The iris, naturally red; the whites, stained bloodshot by habits that she wasn’t sure that Octavia was going to stand for.

She looked away from her reflection and turned the knobs on the shower. “Good news, Octavia!” she called as the shower hissed, squeaked, and began to spit steaming water from its head. “Your bathroom’s real fancy and everything, but your shower still works normal. No fancy buttons or nothin' weird like that!”

“Shut up and bathe, Vinyl!”

Snickering, Vinyl eased under the hot needles of a real shower for the first time in a long time. She watched as even before using any soap dirty water began to swirl down the drain. Okay, Vinyl, that’s pretty gross. Next time you’re homeless, worry a little more about hygiene. She closed her eyes and let the water cascade down her body, working out the kinks and knots that she hadn’t even realized she had. It felt good to be able to stand mindlessly under the jets of water, to not have to worry about where she was going to sleep. About where her next meal was coming from.

Vinyl flickered her horn a little to get a spark of magic to snatch up Octavia’s shampoo. “Unscented. My girl’s simple and predictable,” she muttered to herself as she squeezed a dollop directly onto her head and rubbed it in.

Once she was clean, which took way longer than it should have, she turned off the water and pulled a fresh, fluffy white towel off the towel rack. She rubbed off the residual water, than wrapped it around her hair the way her sister would have once done. She glanced at the hook on the door. Octavia’s purple robe was hanging there. That would probably drive her nuts if Vinyl came out in her robe. Vinyl pulled it off the hook and slipped into it. After picking her dirty garments off the doorknob she rejoined her company.

“Honk, honk! Dirty clothes comin’ through!” she called out obnoxiously.

Octavia poked her head out of what Vinyl assumed must be the kitchen. “I can wash those for you if you want!”

“Nah, they’d fall apart in the wash. I’ll just chuck ‘em. You can wash my coat… I wanna keep that.”

“Well, alright, there’s a garbage bin in the laundry room at the end of the ha- ARE YOU WEARING MY ROBE?”

Vinyl grinned toothily. “Problem?”

“Yes… no…. just go get rid of those dirty scraps of fabric!”

Smiling mischievously, Vinyl practically skipped down the hall to chuck her old clothes into Octavia’s trashcan. When she returned she entered the modern granite and steel adorned kitchen to see Octavia floating around, pulling things out of the refrigerator and pantry.

“Have a seat,” she said. “I figured that you’d probably be hungry, so I thought I’d see what I have to offer.”

“Thanks,” Vinyl said as she sat down at the kitchen island.

“Unfortunately, that’s not much,” Octavia admitted. “I’ve got some cereal, a little milk that’s probably expired, and some old fruits and vegetables. I desperately need to go grocery shopping tomorrow.”

Vinyl shrugged. “Don’t worry about it. I ate not that long ago.”

“You should be eating every day, preferably three times,” Octavia said sternly.

Vinyl rolled her eyes. “Yeah, well, we’ll start tomorrow. Do you have a pair of scissors I can borrow?”

“Yes, but… what kind?”

“Sharp kind… but probably not kitchen scissors, that might be weird.”

Octavia reached into a drawer and pulled out a pair of scissors. She handed them to Vinyl with a confused expression on her face, but Vinyl didn’t feel like offering an explanation. She took the scissors and returned to the bathroom where she unwrapped her hair. She picked up the hair brush off the countertop and quickly pulled out as many of the stubborn tangles as she could manage. When it was as detangled as she was going to get it she magicked the scissors into the air and began to hack away at her overgrown mane.

“Oh my goodness,” Octavia said from the doorway. “Vinyl, you don’t have to… I can take you to get it cut!”

Vinyl glanced over at Octavia. “Let a professional anywhere near my hair and I’ll eat you for dinner. I’ve been cuttin' my own hair since I was about eight. Don’t worry… It’s not supposed to be even.”

Octavia looked a little distressed. “Well… if you’re sure… But you better clean up this mess when you’re done.”

“Yeah, yeah… by the way, speakin’ of hair… do you have a flat iron?”

“No… My hair is naturally quite flat. But yours didn’t seem to be curly. Why do you need one?”

“You saw it weighed down by oil and dirt… Just wait until it dries, you’ll see.”

Octavia rolled her eyes. “Well, if you think you need one, I’ll buy it for you when we go to the store tomorrow.”

Vinyl put down the scissors and looked at Octavia through slightly narrowed eyes. “Why are you bein' so nice to me?”

Octavia cocked her head. “Because you need help, I like to help ponies, and, honestly, for some inexplicable reason, I like you.”

“But I can’t help you back.”

“That doesn’t matter to me. I don’t expect you to be able to do much until you can get your feet planted on the ground. I’m here to help you do that. And if you feel so inclined to repay me in some way once you get there, I’ll accept your generosity, but I don’t expect it.”

Vinyl shook her head. “You’re fuckin’ weird,” she said in disbelief.

“Well, that’s a crude way to put it,” Octavia sniffed as she turned around and walked away.

“No! Wait! I just mean that… Well, in my world there’s no such thing as selflessness. Kindness always had an angle.”

“Well, then, Vinyl… You live in a very dark and unforgiving world. I promise… It’s not all like that.”

Vinyl smiled and looked down. “Yeah, we’ll see.” But privately she couldn’t help thinking that this new friend of hers, though perhaps the nicest soul she’d met in a while, was unbelievably naïve. Vinyl feared, and she didn’t know why she was so afraid for this girl she barely new, that it was going to get her hurt. I won’t let that happen. She takes care of me, I’m gonna take care of her from the sidelines.

Octavia sat awake in the living room, listening to Vinyl snore from the guest room down the hall. Try as she might, she couldn’t sleep. The events of the night had just been so sudden, and yet, so life changing, that she couldn’t help but relive them over and over again. It was strange knowing that a pony she had only just met today was sleeping in her home. Vinyl… she was so young and such a mystery. Part of Octavia felt like she should be doing more to find out who Vinyl was and maybe communicate with someone that may be worried about her, but Vinyl’s reluctance to talk about her past gave her reason to doubt. Maybe there was something truly horrid in Vinyl’s past. Perhaps trying to get in contact with any of those ponies would be a death sentence. All the same… She wanted to know more.

All of these thoughts raced through her head. When she had finished the cycle, she started over again. It was tiring and by three in the morning she truly had a headache. Unable to take her racing thoughts anymore Octavia finally resorted to the only thing she had ever known to be able to calm an overactive mind. She trotted quietly into her music room and unpacked her cello.

She hadn’t intended to wake her house guest, but of course when she thought about it she realized how inevitable that was. All that was on her mind as she strummed the first note on her beautiful instrument was somehow seeking peace. Then once the music started flowing out of her own hoofs and heart all other thoughts ceased. She wasn’t even entirely aware of what she was playing, but it was calming. The notes carried her away into some distant land where she forgot about the events of the night until…

“Do you always play at three in the morning? ‘Cause if ya do, I’m sorry, dollface, but this ain't gonna work out.”

Octavia jumped, startled out of her sanctuary. And there she was, Miss Vinyl herself, her messy bed head piled atop her scalp, intruding on her peace yet again. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“No, I was totally gonna sleep through you sawing away on that instrument of yours… Don’t get me wrong, though… it was beautiful.”

“Was it? I wouldn’t know, I was just making it up as I went along. I don’t even remember what I played.”

“Well, isn’t that a shame… Do you do that a lot?”

“Do what?”

“Compose beautiful music on the spot that could earn you thousands and never think to actually, oh, I don’t know, remember it?”

Octavia blushed a little, thinking back on all times that she had played randomly to calm her mind, never to remember what it was that soothed her so. “Oh, I doubt it could earn me thousands.”

“Not as it is… but just imagine that piece with a full orchestra behind it… it would be awesome as fuck… but I guess you can’t imagine that, can you, since you CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT YOU PLAYED!”

Octavia was a little taken aback by Vinyl’s aggravation. “Really, Vinyl, there’s no need to shout. It’s just a silly little musical doodle.”

Vinyl snorted. “A musical doodle? Sugar, for it to be a doodle you’d actually have to write something down.Have you ever actually composed a piece… you know… for real?”

Octavia shrugged. “Only the one that I composed for the final project at the Canterlot Conservatory. I’m hardly accomplished or talented enough to compose for real.”

Vinyl snorted. “Bullshit, bitch, bullshit. Based on what I just heard and what I heard earlier at the concert you are way better than any of the loser that think they have the musical skill to compose shit now.”

Octavia rolled her eyes. “Please, Vinyl, stop flattering me. Even if that were true it doesn’t matter. I don’t recall what I played, remember?”

Vinyl winked. “You’re forgetting something, sweet cheeks.”

“What’s that?”

“I do remember what you played.” Much to Octavia’s astonishment Vinyl walked right up to her shiny, black, baby grand piano. She plopped herself down the bench and flipped up the fall board. Octavia was shocked.

“Do you play?”

Vinyl gave her a rather insulted look. “Sweetheart, anypony who calls themselves a musician can play the fuckin' piano.”

Octavia raised her eyebrows. “Well, then, carry on,” she said in a slightly haughty tone.

Vinyl smirked, then turned back to the piano. When she began to play Octavia was stunned. It was truly beautiful, if she did say so herself. She’d had no idea what she was even playing when she began to play her cello. Had she been doing this for long? How many pieces had been lost in the years she spent refusing to write down her feelings on the score? She felt a little self-centered, standing there, listening to her own piece and praising it, but Celestia banish it… Vinyl was right. It was beautiful.

When Vinyl finished Octavia let out the breath she had been holding. “Told you,” was all her new friend said.

Octavia sighed. “Point conceded. I ought to write down my music.”

“Yes you should.”

There was a moment of silence before Octavia spoke again. “So… you can play by ear?”

“Yes. I taught myself mostly, so yeah…”

“Can you read music?”

Octavia didn’t miss the way Vinyl balked. It was almost as if she was both afraid to learn and ashamed that she didn’t know how. Octavia could understand that. A lot of musicians looked down on their fellows that only played by ear. Octavia herself didn’t think one way produced better music than that other, but there was definite advantage to being able to record the music on paper. The pony memory wasn’t always reliable. Her own memory tonight was proof of that. “Well?” she pressed, knowing the answer. “Do you?”

“No,” Vinyl admitted grudgingly. “I never really had formal music lessons.”

“Well I’ll teach you.”

“Wh-what?” Vinyl replied, shocked. “No, you don’t have to do that…”

“I insist!” Octavia declared. “You said yourself that it’s a waste to compose great music if you can’t remember it.”

“I store things in my head.”

“Your head isn’t as reliable as a pen and paper, Vinyl. Please let me teach you. It’ll only help improve you as a musician.”

“Are you sayin' I need improving?”

“Everypony has room to get better, no matter how good they are, Vinyl.”

Vinyl didn’t reply. Octavia could see her weighing her situation in her brain. Finally she sighed. “Fine.”

“Yay!” Octavia said happily.

“But only because I can tell you won’t take no for an answer. And I’ve had a little experience dealing with ponies like that.”

“Good call,” Octavia said.

Vinyl smiled. “Now, can we go to bed? I’m use to operating on just a few hours, but you definitely seem like a full eight hour sleep night kind of girl to me.”

Octavia smiled and nodded. As both of them went to bed in their separate rooms Octavia found that she was much more at peace now. The last thought before she went to sleep was that she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she had made the right decision in allowing Vinyl to live with her.