• Published 15th Nov 2013
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Stages - Bunnybooze79



It was supposed to be Octavia’s first big moment in her beginning career. To her dismay a unicorn named Vinyl Scratch stole her spotlight and left an impression on the cellist she would so soon not forget.

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Chapter 15

The juice shift.

An appropriate name for the time from three o’clock until nine o’clock, as the bar wouldn’t serve anything alcoholic to the club’s guests during that time. The main patrons during those times were teenage and young adult ponies.

Vinyl didn’t mind having a younger audience. Far from it in fact, as the younger ponies had boundless energy it seemed and Vinyl made them expend a lot of it with her show.

It was her second week working in the club named Big Time, so named after its owner. Vinyl had only briefly seen the owner from afar and had not yet been introduced to him. Not that it really mattered to her, all she really cared about was the music and the ponies dancing on the dance floor.

She even had her first fans. Most noticeable were two pegasi that had been there for every single of her shows. The pegasi were a stallion and a mare, both almost identical save for the manestyle, a steely blue coat with a dark brown almost black mane and tail. The stallion’s mane was cut short and nothing out of the ordinary. The mare’s mane however was a lot longer and framed her face like a lion’s mane. Both of them had a grin that could only be described as mischievous. The DJ guessed correctly that they were twins and still just teenagers.

Vinyl liked the twins ever since they had walked into the club during her first performance. She even had figured out that they liked tracks with a lot of drums and bass, so Vinyl obliged them and played them a track with just those qualities. Loud cheers were her reward from the two and it made her grin wide.

Of course the two pegasi were not the only ponies in attendance. Vinyl guessed the club was able to provide enough space for around one hundred ponies. She easily filled up half the club and this was only her second week. Knowing and seeing that what she did was just that what ponies wanted filled her heart with joy.

The small light next to the clock on the deck began to flash and Vinyl sighed. Somehow time always went by in a flash when she was playing her music. There still was enough time for one last track and Vinyl activated the microphone on the deck.

“Come on ponies! They can’t hear you in Canterlot!” Vinyl punctuated her last sentence with a bass and drum heavy track that possibly could be heard a few blocks away. Even so she still heard the response from the ponies cheering her on.

This was the life. Sure the pay was frankly abysmal and the time slot wasn’t all that favorable, but she didn’t care. Bobbing her head along with the beat and mixing a drum solo in on the fly, which caused two certain pegasi to cheer even louder, she slowly let the song fade out.

“Alright fillies and colts! DJ Pon3 signing off for now. I hope you had just as much fun as I had!” Vinyl gleefully soaked up the stomping applause from the crowd as she closed her set.

It took her only a few minutes to pack up her things. It would have taken less time, but she always got sidetracked and gave a few ponies from the crowd a hoofbump or two when they offered it. The next DJ had already taken up position behind the deck when she finally left the small stage.

On other days Vinyl would have hurried to pick Octavia up from the theatre. But the cellist had to work longer today and for the next week. The musical she was working on was now approaching the very first time to be shown to a few critics and they all worked a bit harder on their performances. So today Vinyl took her time to leave the club.




_______________________________________________________________




Her thoughts were already circling around her next show and what for tracks to bring along. She didn’t notice the pony hiding in the shadows of the nearby alleyway that she was walking past. A surge of magic identified the hidden pony as a unicorn.

Vinyl let out a small yelp of surprise and pain as the magic took hold on her tail and gave it a small tug. She spun around to face her potential attacker with a snarl. Her expression darkened as she identified the pony stepping out from the shadows.

“You!” Vinyl angrily stomped towards a smugly grinning Neon Lights, who backpedaled further into the alley.

“Hey, Vinyl. Long time no see.” His backpedaling was halted by a large dumpster he nearly bumped into.

“Give me a good reason not to wipe the floor with your face.” Vinyl growled and levitated her sunglasses on top of her head to give Neon a clearly angry glare.

“Now, now. Why so hostile?” Neon wasn’t impressed by Vinyl’s deathglare and still just kept grinning.

“You little piece of….you stole my bits while I was sleeping!” Vinyl pointed a hoof towards the stallion in accusation. Neon just waved it off casually with a hoof of his own.

“Oh that. Come on….that wasn’t such a big deal.” Before Vinyl could reply either verbally or physically he continued. “Besides, now you are here, feeding on my leftover scraps in my former place of employment. Now I am playing in one of the higher profile clubs further in the center.”

Somehow Neon must have heard that she was now playing in the club and had decided to gloat. Vinyl most certainly wasn’t going to let him get away with it.

“Great, Neon. You and I both know that you are only there because of me.” Vinyl closed the distance and was just a legs length away.

“Because of the few bits I snuck away from you? Oh please, Scratch.” He chuckled a bit and Vinyl felt the need to introduce his face to her hoof more and more appealing.

“You didn’t just steal bits from me. You also stole my music!” Vinyl watched carefully as Neon’s smile froze for a moment.

“I have no idea what you are talking about.” He lied after a seconds worth of hesitation.

“Bullcrap! I know you stole it, because I saw you playing a set with my tracks!” Spurned on by Neon’s suddenly pained smile she didn’t think before she said the next thing. “At least I got my music back so that it can’t be defiled by Mister Fourth Place anymore.”

“What?” Neon’s smile was now gone as he pieced together what Vinyl had just said. “You sent that crazy mare after me?”

Vinyl flinched back slightly as Neon became angrier by the second. It dawned on her that it might not have been her best decision that evening to enrage him, but he did have it coming and if it came to a fight, she was more than willing to teach him a lesson.

“Buck you, Scratch!” Neon moved closer and jabbed a hoof against her chest. “I had a really hot date set up that evening! One that you effectively ruined!”

“At least I saved your date the disappointment of a night with you.” Vinyl brushed his hoof away or at least tried to do so with ease. Instead it took quite a bit of strength to push it away.

No doubt Neon had been working out and was rested. Vinyl had not worked out in a long time and had just finished a set. Her magical abilities would not be up to par with his at the moment.

“I spent two days with an icepack between my legs and not being able to walk properly. I do not find that very funny.” Neon was now right up in Vinyl’s face and thoroughly pissed off. If it would come to a fight her best chance would be to make the first move and take him by surprise. Luckily there wouldn’t be need for that as a third voice suddenly spoke up.

“And what is going on here?”

Both Vinyl and Neon recognized the voice immediately. Vinyl couldn’t help but grin again as she saw some of the color drain from the stallion’s face. They both turned their heads towards the newcomer standing at the entrance of the alley.

Lyra stood still for a moment, an eyebrow raised at the sight of the two unicorns arguing. Very slowly she trotted towards them, not taking her eyes off the stallion for even a second. Neon very slowly backed away from Vinyl and brought some distance between them. Once Lyra was beside Vinyl she slung a foreleg around the DJ’s shoulders.

“And what is the problem here?” she asked, a rather evil grin slowly spreading on her face.

“You stay out of this. This is just between me and her.” Neon quickly answered and pointed a hoof at Vinyl.

“Can’t do that.” Lyra kept on grinning like a mad mare, the effect being that Neon felt really really uncomfortable. “See…if you have a problem with her, then you have a problem with me. Simple as that.”

Lyra gave Vinyl a quick squeeze and drew her in closer so that they were side by side pressed against each other. Vinyl decided to also put on her best evil grin and glare at Neon.

“Do we still have a problem?” Lyra asked quietly.

“No problem here.” Neon answered quickly and backed away a bit more.

“That’s good. Don’t want to catch you causing problems for my friend here, ‘cause that might not be healthy.” Lyra didn’t even make any sort of attempt to veil her threat.

She turned together with Vinyl towards the entrance to the alleyway and walked away, a foreleg still around Vinyl’s shoulders. They were nearly out of earshot when Neon made a mistake and let his thoughts slip.

“Bucking fillyfoolers.” It had just been mumbled, but Lyra’s good hearing picked up on it immediately.

“What….did you say?” Lyra let go of Vinyl and turned back towards the stallion.

Neon let out a panicked yelp and decided that his best course of action was to run away. Lyra made a move forwards and caused Neon to scamper away with his tail between his legs. Lyra felt Vinyl’s hoof on her back as if to prevent her from running after the stallion.

“He isn’t worth it Lyra.” The DJ said.

“Relax Vinyl. I’m not going to chase after him.” Lyra explained and smiled at her friend. “Bon Bon would have my head on a silver platter if she found out that I had been in a fight.”

“What are you doing here?” Vinyl was genuinely curious at the lyrist’s sudden appearance.

“I finished work and decided to drop by your club. See how things are going for you.” Lyra explained.

“Thanks.” Vinyl gave her friend a grateful smile and put her trademark sunglasses back on. “Can I invite my knight in shining armor for a drink?”

“Heh, won’t say no to that.” Lyra chuckled. “Although the mental image of you in a frilly dress as the damsel in distress will stay with me for a while.”

“It will stay a mental image. Besides, I could have totally kicked his flank.”

“Sure thing, Vinyl.” Lyra ignored the tongue that Vinyl stuck out at her. “Let’s grab some sugary goodness.”




______________________________________________________________




SSSSSSSSSSLLLLLLLLUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRRRRRPPPPPPPPPPP!!!

Vinyl glanced up from her chocolate and cherry milkshake with whipped cream and eyed the mint green unicorn sitting opposite her. The unicorns had decided to sit in a café and have a milkshake each. Vinyl was impressed at the speed with which Lyra had devoured her third milkshake.

“You have some kind of sugar-withdrawal?” Vinyl asked and took a more controlled sip of her milkshake.

“Guess you could say that.” Lyra confirmed and licked her straw clean.

“Seems kinda strange. Bon Bon makes sweets right? I would have guessed that you would be eating nothing but sugary stuff.”

“The only sweet thing I get to nibble on is Bon Bon herself.” Lyra dropped the straw back into the glass and briefly scanned the menu in front of her. “Bon Bon is a bit self-conscious about her weight, so she tries not to have anything sugary or yummy around. Apart from me of course.”

Lyra grinned her wide smile and closed the menu. Three milkshakes were enough for now and she would be in trouble if Bon Bon ever found out she had been pigging out without her.

“She seems fine to me.” Vinyl said in regards to Bon Bon’s figure and took another sip.

“You eyein’ my mare?” Lyra said with mock outrage and Vinyl choked on her milkshake in response.

A few quick pats from Lyra on Vinyl’s back cleared up the misguided sip of milkshake. The DJ coughed a few more times, but it seemed she would not need the assistance of the other unicorn anymore, so Lyra returned back to her seat.

“Relax Vinyl. I was just pulling your hoof.” Lyra leaned back in her seat and ran a hoof through her mane. “So….how are things going?”

“Great!” Vinyl cleared her throat one more time before continuing. “Doing my stuff at the club is awesome.”

“Glad to hear it. Kind of sucks that you only have your show during my working hours. I’d like to see it one day.” Lyra complained.

“I hope to get a better timeslot in the future. For now I have the juice shift.” Vinyl dared to take another sip of her shake.

“Just tell me in time when you have a show that Bon Bon and I can attend.” Lyra suddenly gave Vinyl a lopsided grin. “And how goes the pursuit of the cellist?”

Vinyl froze in mid-sip. Perhaps it was the cool liquid of the milkshake that had suddenly made her thoughts sluggish to respond to the question. Lyra giggled at the expression Vinyl wore, stuck in mid-sip and eyes wide open.

“You haven’t done anything right?” Lyra waited for Vinyl to nod in affirmation. “Come on Vinyl. It isn’t that hard. Just do that what I did with Bon Bon at the time. Walk up to her with confidence and simply ask her out for something to eat. Just you two in a nice romantic setting. Worked for me, so it will work for you. Or are you chicken, Scratch? Hehe….chicken scratch.”

While Lyra was laughing at her own joke, Vinyl swallowed the mouthful of milkshake and organized her thoughts.

“That isn’t it.” She said, the tone of her voice stopping the lyrist from giggling any further. “There is no pursuit of the cellist.”

“So you have reached a decision?” Lyra asked although it was obvious.

“Yeah. I….I won’t stand in the way of her goals.” Vinyl said and looked down at the last bit of her milkshake.

For a long time neither mare said anything or even moved. Vinyl just stared at her drink while Lyra stared at her. After a few moments Lyra sighed.

“That sucks. For both of you if I may say so.” The mint green mare flicked a hoof at the straw sitting in her empty glass, causing it to spin around.

“I don’t see any other way.” Vinyl said quietly.

“So you would rather be miserable and see her happy, than to be happy together?”

“There is no other way.” It was no more than a whisper that escaped Vinyl’s lips.

“Wow….you really love her don’t you?” Lyra didn’t wait for a response. “You know that what you are doing isn’t healthy for you in the long run right?”

“I’ll deal with it when the time comes.” Vinyl responded slightly depressed. Lyra sensed that the white unicorn was about to turn miserable, so she decided to intervene.

“If it comes you know that you can come talk to me or Bon Bon anytime, right?” The sincerity in Lyra’s voice made Vinyl look up.

“Yeah, I know. Thanks.” Vinyl smiled at the other unicorn and banished the depressing thoughts to a dark corner in her mind.

“Well….I think I could go with another milkshake.” Lyra flipped open the menu and decided to try a vanilla milkshake with caramel syrup, topped off with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.




______________________________________________________________




Roughly ten minutes later the unicorns had parted ways in front of the small café. Lyra had felt the sudden need to lie down after consuming one too many milkshakes or to quote her: “I think that last one was slightly off.”

Vinyl had only consumed one milkshake during their stay and felt that her need for sugar was not fully satisfied. With nearly an hour to spare until she would pick Octavia up, she decided to get another dose of sugar. And in her opinion the best place to obtain that was the sweet shop where Bon Bon worked.

Navigating Manehatten at this hour wasn’t an easy task. Vinyl had to squeeze through a crowd of tourists at more than one point. Noisy commentary about the city and constant clicking of cameras assaulted her ears during that time. By the time the sweet shop came into view, she most certainly had enough of tourists for that day.

Vinyl entered the shop called Sweetz. She guessed the z was to make it sound more modern, which made no sense to her as the interior was decorated in a style that hadn’t been in for at least a decade or two. The unicorn immediately spotted Bon Bon amongst the other staff as she easily stood out from the rest, despite all of them wearing black and pink uniforms.

Every single member of the staff was well rounded, to put it mildly. It was apparent that they helped themselves to a sweet or two, or possibly twenty, every once in a while. Bon Bon was pretty much the only pony with a normal figure. She even seemed a bit too thin amongst her colleagues. Perhaps that’s why Bon Bon was so self conscious about her weight and didn’t want to end up like the others.

Vinyl would have normally spent a lot of time going from each type of sweet to the next, carefully choosing the best looking ones. This time she didn’t need to do that as she knew that Bon Bon would have the best sweets and made a beeline for the mare.

Bon Bon’s face lit up with a wide smile as she saw Vinyl. Her bright blue eyes watching the unicorn approach the counter where Bon Bon would be serving customers.

“Hey, Vinyl! How’s it going?” Bon Bon asked with a very gravelly voice.

“Uh…what’s wrong with your voice?” Vinyl asked concerned.

“Allergies.” Bon Bon shrugged. “I ate something with nuts in earlier and this is what happens.”

“Sounds really weird.” Vinyl briefly thought of inviting Bon Bon over to record a few voice samples. She could make some really cool tracks for Nightmare Night with that voice.

“I know. It changes when I eat different things I am allergic to.” Bon Bon explained.

“That sucks.” Vinyl had no allergies herself, but sympathized with the other mare nevertheless.

“You get used to it.” Bon Bon shrugged again. “Did Lyra find you?”

“Yeah. She met me after my gig.” Vinyl decided not to mention the little encounter with Neon or Lyra’s milkshake-binge.

“Did you do anything fun?”

“Just talked a bit.” Vinyl shrugged.

“About what?” Bon Bon asked curiously. Bon Bon was most certainly a very nosy pony, but Vinyl didn’t really mind.

“About you actually. Lyra told me how you two met.” Vinyl answered and didn’t want to talk about Octavia right now. At least not here with so many potential ears nearby, although most of the staff was far enough away from the two mares to not hear them.

“Really….what did she tell you?” Bon Bon’s eyes were almost sparkling.

“That she just walked up to you with confidence and asked you out on a date, to which you said yes.” Vinyl flinched in surprise as Bon Bon burst out laughing.

“Haha! I bet that’s how she would like to remember it.” Bon Bon subdued her laughter to not draw any further attention.

“So…that wasn’t true?” Vinyl herself was at times nosy and this was just the kind of situation that piqued her interest.

“Well, she did ask me out on a date that evening.” Bon Bon smiled at the distant memory. “The confidence part was blown a bit out of proportion.”

“Really? How so?” Vinyl leaned in a bit towards the earthpony.

“Did she tell you that we met during that contest the university holds for its musical graduates?” Vinyl nodded. “Well, I was part of the catering service giving out servings from our buffet table. At some point Lyra came by and asked for a slice of cake. A few minutes later she came back and started to hover around near the buffet. Everytime I asked her if she would like something else she asked for some cake again.”

Bon Bon giggled. Due to her now gravelly voice it sounded really weird and would possibly have sent foals running in fight.

“She must have eaten an entire cake by herself. If she did actually eat it. Huh….I never asked her that come to think of it.” Bon Bon shook her head to get back on track with her story. “Anyway, I knew she wanted something and so I finally asked her why she was hovering around. I’ll never forget how she then finally gave up her charade to tell me what she really wanted. The way she awkwardly shuffled her hooves, not quite able to look me in the eye and the almost whispered question she asked if I would like to have a coffee sometime with her. Oh and she stuttered a lot. It was really cute in a way.”

Vinyl grinned along with the sweet maker. It was difficult to picture the rather vocal and brash Lyra in the way Bon Bon had described her and told the earthpony so.

“Lyra can be a hooffull sometimes, but she also has her adorable and cute moments.” Bon Bon let out a sigh. “Not that you would ever see them in this city.”

“Why’s that?”

“This city…. It’s loud and rather rude. And there is always something going on somewhere.” Bon Bon rolled her eyes. “The stress sometimes can really get to you. Especially if you work in a busy place like this.”

“Speaking of which, I actually wanted to buy some sweets. Sorry for some more stress today.” Vinyl apologized.

“Don’t be silly. You aren’t stress, believe me. It’s always good to see friends.” Bon Bon straighted her posture behind the counter and waved a hoof towards the selection of sweets around them. “What can I get you?”

Vinyl glanced around for a brief moment. Everything looked yummy enough, but Vinyl had been given a taste of what really good sweets tasted like thanks to Bon Bon’s homemade ones. Nothing would come close in her opinion.

“Which ones did you make?” Vinyl asked and tore her gaze away from a gummy bear the size of her head.

“None of them. I just work the counter and clean up.” Bon Bon explained with a shrug.

“Awww…” Vinyl’s lament made Bon Bon smile. It felt good to know that her own sweets were appreciated by ponies. Of course that still left her with a disappointed unicorn on her hooves. “The red licorice is rather good.”

“I guess it will have to do.” Vinyl was still slightly unhappy she wouldn’t get the good stuff. She watched Bon Bon fill a small paper bag with a few bite sized pieces of the licorice. “Why don’t you sell your own sweets?”

“The owners don’t allow it.” Bon Bon scrunched up her face and kept her voice down. “You need a license to be able to do that here in Manehatten. You can only get the license if you have studied culinary arts and have worked in this kind of environment for a few years.”

“That sucks.” Vinyl had been warned during her own time in culinary art classes that the path of ponies working with food was a strenuous one full of obstacles. Vinyl didn’t care at the time as she took the classes solely for her own benefit.

“There are places where that doesn’t apply.” Bon Bon continued. “That’ll be three bits for the licorice.”

“Well, why don’t you set up your shop there?” Vinyl levitated the bits out of her saddlebag an put them on the counter.

“We have plans.” Bon Bon smiled again. “There is a nice little town between the Everfree Forest and Canterlot. I found out that they do not have such strict requirements for setting up one’s own shop. And it’s very peaceful there with not much happening. It would do wonders to keep Lyra’s temper from flaring up and perhaps we could have a nice life there without stress and with lots of peace and quiet.”

“What’s keeping you?” Vinyl took the bag of licorice in her magical grasp and stowed it away in her bags.

“We’re working on it.” Bon Bon sighed. “I may not need to fulfill a lot of requirements, but I still need a permit, that costs a lot of bits. And of course a house, the equipment and all of the ingredients to start up my business will cost even more. So we work here and save up towards our little dream. In a few years we might have enough.”

“Dreams are important.” Vinyl agreed her thoughts once again trailing off towards Octavia.

She wanted to stay and chat a bit longer with Bon Bon, but a sudden mob of tourists swarmed inside the shop. Vinyl hastily stepped out of the way before getting wedged in between the mob and the counter. Bon Bon gave her a shrug and a smile before turning to the first customer hankering for something sugary. Vinyl waved a quick goodbye, not entirely sure if Bon Bon had seen it.

With nothing else to do she decided to walk at a leisurely pace towards Octavia’s place of work. Vinyl briefly fought with the bag of licorice, trying to pull it out of her saddlebag. For a moment she wasn’t paying attention were she was walking and promptly collided with another pony.

“Oh sorry about that.” Vinyl said and turned to the pony she had hit. Then she flinched back in surprise as she registered the state the pony was in.

“She’s coming! She’s coming I tell you!!” The stallion exclaimed with a panicky voice. His mane was the very definition of unkempt, sticking out all over the place. His ears twitched constantly and his eyes never rested for long on one thing. His formerly light green coat was covered in dust and dirt. Around his neck hung a cardboard sign that said: Beware the moon!

“Uh…you ok?” Vinyl asked, not entirely sure she really wanted to know.

“She’s coming! Soon the nightmare will befall us aaaaaaaalll!” he sidestepped Vinyl and continued on his way. It wasn’t clear if he had even realized that he had collided with another pony, as he kept ranting and raving about the moon and the end of ponykind while walking away.

“Yeah, good luck with that!” Vinyl called after him and resumed her walk. At least the collision had freed the licorice from her saddlebag and she plopped a piece in her mouth. Bon Bon was right, it was good.




____________________________________________________________________




Vinyl had finished the licorice when Octavia left the building. Both of them smiled as they met up and started walking towards home.

“How was your day?” both of them asked at the same time. They laughed for a moment until Octavia prompted Vinyl to start with her day.

“Nothing special. Played a few tracks, made ponies dance and met Lyra for a milkshake. Then I went by Bon Bon’s and bought some licorice.” Vinyl reported, but left out the bit about Neon Lights.

“Red or black?” Octavia asked and shifted the case on her back around a bit.

“Red. You want some?” Vinyl had eaten it all, but wouldn’t mind buying some more if her friend desired so.

“No thanks.” Octavia shook her head. “I don’t really like the red licorice.”

“Sooo….how was your day?” Vinyl asked and made a mental note to pick up some black licorice for Octavia tomorrow.

“Pretty exciting actually.” Octavia grinned. “Today we played the entire musical together with the actors on stage. It is actually rather good. Some of the songs will no doubt be stuck in my head for some time. We played them often enough, that’s for sure.”

“How often?”

“We played the musical from start to finish twice. And then a few of the more difficult songs separately. All in preparation for the first preview show next week.” Octavia explained as they crossed a street.

“Can I come and watch?” Vinyl asked.

“I’m afraid not.” Octavia gave her friend an apologetic look. “That show is just for a few critics, financial backers and journalists.”

“I could be a critic.” Vinyl suggested and stuck her nose up in the air. “Why is there so little bass? Why isn’t that cellist on stage playing a solo? Unacceptable!”

Octavia laughed at Vinyl’s horridly fake Canterlot accent. “I’m afraid you will have to wait for one of the regular shows.”

“That’s too bad.” Vinyl grinned back at the cellist. “Guess I’ll have to wait until I can use my signs that say Go, Tavi! Go!”

“You really want to see the show?” Octavia asked trying to ignore mental images of Vinyl hopping about a theatre with a sign in her hooves.

“Of course. I want to see every performance you will ever be in.” Vinyl said in all seriousness.

“Then I shall always keep my eyes open for you.” Octavia replied with a wide smile. Together they continued their journey home.