• 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 24

“You sure about this?” Big Time carefully watched the pony sitting in front of his desk.

“Yes, Sir.” Vinyl’s response was quiet, but her voice remained firm.

For a couple of heartbeats neither pony spoke or even moved. Vinyl remained upright and didn’t flinch at the hard look her boss was giving her.

She had spent the time after Octavia had gone to bed to do some serious thinking. Thanks to that she had very little sleep last night, but copious amounts of coffee had woken her up enough to deal with the decisions she had made. She could sleep once all had been taken care of.

Her first step was to meet her boss after she had dropped Octavia off at work. He had not been to keen on what she had proposed, but Vinyl had made up her mind. If he refused her suggestion she would have a few more options up her sleeve.

“It’s your call.” Big Time nodded after a good two minutes of silent contemplation. “I’ll get the contract ready for you.”

“Thank you, Sir.” Vinyl remained motionless while her boss wrote up a new contract for her. There wasn’t anything more to be said and Vinyl didn’t feel too much like talking now. There would be more than enough talking with the next pony on her list anyway.

Ten minutes later Vinyl left the club and set out to her next target, hoping things would turn out the way she planned.




_____________________________________________________________________




Vinyl had been given the address by Big Time and it only took her half an hour to reach it. Overall the building was in the better area of Manehatten and she was well aware of the looks she received from the few ponies out and about.

She found the apartment quickly and held up the contract over the peephole in the door. Three sharp knocks on the door later she held her breath and strained to hear any kind of activity from behind the door. A couple of knocks later a voice gruffly barked from within.

“Don’t get your damn mane in a twist, I’m coming!”

Vinyl kept the peephole blocked and drew her right forehoof back. She took a deep breath and readied herself for when the door opened.

A couple of locks were opened and then finally the door swung open. Vinyl immediately thrust her hoof forward and hit the occupant with full force on the chin.

Neon Lights stumbled backwards into his home, Vinyl closely following him and shutting the door behind her.

“What the bucking buck?!” Neon Lights took a few steps back from his assailant and shook his head to clear away the stars.

Vinyl stayed where she was and shook her now hurting hoof. She deemed it best to have an easy escape if Neon decided to fight back. With her magic she took off her sunglasses and rested them on top of her head. She hoped an angry glare with crimson eyes would halt any possible retaliation by the stallion.

“What the…Vinyl?!” Neon had opened an eye and hardly believed that it was her who had assaulted him. “Why the hay did you do that? Have you lost…uh….what happened to you?”

It took a moment for him to properly register the state the other unicorn was in. His aggressive stance changed into a more cautious one instead.

“Got into a fight.” Vinyl explained shortly and stepped away from the door. It seemed as if Neon would not be putting up a fight.

“Did she do that to you?” Neon rubbed his cheek and there was a small amount of sympathy in his voice.

“Huh?” It took a moment for Vinyl to realize that he was referring to Lyra. “No, it wasn’t her.”

“Just wanted to make sure. That mare is a total psycho!”

“I had not planned to hit you again, but talk like that about my friends and I’ll reconsider it!” Vinyl warned and watched him slowly turn towards the small alcove where the little kitchen was located.

“And why the buck did you hit me in the first place?” Neon trotted over to his refrigerator and took out a cool can of soda that he then pressed against his aching chin.

“You had it coming for a long time and I had to get it out of my system.” Vinyl followed him, but kept some distance between them.

“Great, now you had your fun and can leave.” Neon nodded towards the door.

“I’m here for something else.” Vinyl waved the contract a bit that she still held in her magical grasp. “You owe me something.”

“What?” Neon jumped to his own conclusions quickly. “If it’s because of your bits then you are out of luck. I got fired on the weekend, because I got too friendly with my managers niece.”

So I have the advantage….

“You owe me a bit more than just bits.” Vinyl pointed a hoof a Neon who just flinched the tiniest amount possible. “You also used my music to make a name for yourself.”

“Maybe.” Neon halted any possible objection by Vinyl before she could voice it. “But you already have it back. What more do you want from me?”

“I have an offer for you.” Vinyl waved the contract once more.

“If it involves the bedroom I’m all ears.” Neon grinned and regretted it instantly because of his hurting chin.

“I didn’t plan on hitting you some more, but if you keep it up I most certainly will.” Vinyl replied with plenty of venom in her voice. Wisely Neon kept his mouth shut and waited for the DJ to say something else.

Vinyl took a deep breath. What she had to offer wasn’t something she had easily dismissed, but in the light of current circumstances she saw no other way.

“I want you to play my music at Big Time’s club.”

For a moment Neon just stared at her, then he laughed.

“This is some kind of joke right?” Neon opened the can of soda he had been holding and took a sip.

“No joke.” Vinyl levitated the contract over to him. “I want you to play my music in the club. I had Big Time make this contract for us. All you have to do is sign.”

“Why me?” Neon asked after casually glancing through the contract in front of him.

“You already know how to play my music.” Vinyl replied icily. “That saves me time to teach a new DJ how to play my stuff. And I hate to admit it, but you are not without some talent.”

Vinyl knew she had said something wrong as Neon’s puzzled frown turned into a slimy grin. Very slowly he put down his can of soda and read the contract more thoroughly.

“What about the pay?” he asked after finishing reading the contract.

“Fifty – Fifty. I get billing on the posters and you cannot claim any of my stuff as your own.” Vinyl summarized what was written down.

“Seventy – Thirty.” Neon replied immediately.

“No way.” Vinyl shook her head. “We both know that my music is better than yours. All you have to do is play it.”

“Ah, maybe….but…” Neon took a long sip of his drink and enjoyed the view of Vinyl now looking not too happy. “You seem to have a time issue.”

“What makes you think that?” Vinyl bluffed, but it was obvious that Neon saw through it as his smile grew wider.

“You said yourself you could teach a new DJ how to play your stuff, but instead you chose to come here to me. If you had the time you wouldn’t even come talk to me, so you need me now.”

Vinyl was briefly considering wiping that disgusting smile from his face with her hoof. She knew that it wouldn’t solve her problem and that she was in no shape whatsoever for a fullblown fight.

“Fifty five – Fourty five.” She growled through clenched teeth.

“Sixty – Fourty.” Neon put the contract down and just kept smiling at her. “My last offer, Scratch. ‘Cause we are such good friends.”

Vinyl was in a bind. Her plans had hinged on him even accepting her offer. He had done so, but now there was the issue of payment. Bits always seemed to cause some kind of problem.

It’s only bits….

“Deal.” Vinyl growled and levitated the contract over to add the changes with a pen she had brought along. With more force than necessary she signed the contract and levitated it back to Neon Lights.

He read the contract once more and then signed it. Vinyl took both the contract and the pen away from him and stowed them into her saddlebag.

“I’ll drop these off at the club.” Vinyl explained and donned her sunglasses. “It’s being renovated right now, but will open up next Monday again. You have the prime time shift at nine o’clock.”

Vinyl’s instructions were short and she just wanted to get out of this place as fast as possible. Away from his slimy smile and the fact that she had given him the exclusive rights to play her music.

“Vinyl, wait.” Neon wasn’t smiling anymore, now he was watching her with curiosity.

“What?” Vinyl stopped on her way to the door.

“Why?”

“Like you said, I don’t have the time to look for somepony else.” Vinyl answered his short question.

“No, that’s not what I meant.” Neon shook his head and moved closer to her. “All the time I have know you, all you ever wanted to do was to be on stage and make ponies dance. I saw it myself a few times back in university and I heard that you rocked your club. Why the change? Why give all that up?”

Vinyl just stared at him not knowing if she should even give him an answer. Eventually she sighed and opened the door. As she walked through she turned back to him to answer his question.

“Some things are more important to me.” She didn’t bother to hear his reply and closed the door.

It was done.

The toughest part had been taken care of, now all she had to do was to give the contract back to Big Time and then take care of the rest she had planned.




_______________________________________________________________________




Three hours later Vinyl had done what she had needed to do.

She had left her apartment once more to buy some groceries and there she had bumped into a rather elated Lyra. The mint green mare didn’t waste any time and more or less dragged her friend into their usual meeting spot in the café.

Vinyl didn’t object, the day thus far had been stressful and she welcomed at least one friendly face. As they sat down for something to drink, Lyra could hardly sit still in her seat.

“What happened to you? Having some kind of sugar rush?” Vinyl asked and took a sip from her hazelnut milkshake.

“I got the part!” Lyra grinned from ear to ear.

“You…huh….oh you mean the lyrist part in Tavi’s orchestra?” Vinyl also had to grin, this was at least some good news.

“Yep! I’ll start tomorrow!” Lyra finally settled down a bit and took a large gulp of her strawberry milkshake.

“That’s awesome!” Vinyl offered her hoof to bump, which Lyra of course immediately did. They sipped their drinks in silence for a moment.

“So….getting any special patient treatment from Octavia?” Lyra winked at Vinyl and grinned.

“Nope.” Vinyl shook her head. “I’m just happy she doesn’t break out in tears every time she looks at me. Although she nearly did do so yesterday.”

“Yeah, you do look horrible.” Lyra grinned, but leaned forward with interest. “Something bad happen?”

Vinyl briefly told Lyra about the piece of music they would be playing for Celestia and the part Octavia would have to play in all of it.

“That is a bit of a problem.” Lyra stroked her chin in thought. “Don’t know what to suggest. Either you have the ability to write music or you don’t I guess.”

“I figure she just needs the right way of going about it.” Vinyl explained after another sip of her drink. “I was up and about all morning in preparation for helping her with that.”

“What do you have in mind?” Lyra asked, genuinely curious at what her friend had planned.

“I got a lot of books by all kinds of musicians. I’ll try and find something in them that might help her.”

“Books? How many are we talking about?” Lyra raised an eyebrow in question.

“I think there were a hundred and eighty-something. I sort of lost count after a while.” Vinyl shrugged.

“That’s a lot of books.” Lyra’s questioning look didn’t faze. “When do you plan to read them all? That concert for the Princess is only a bit more than three months away and with both of you going to work that’ll be tough.”

“I…uh…don’t really have to work right now.” Vinyl explained and looked into her milkshake while trying to avoid the now thoroughly perplexed look from Lyra.

“You…come again? You don’t have to work?” Lyra quickly came up with her own answer. “You got fired? But your boss seemed ok with you going to work again.”

“No, I did not get fired.” Vinyl found Lyra’s look rather uncomfortable. “I sort of took actions to free up some time.”

“Actions? What kind of actions?” Lyra eyed the other unicorn with a bad feeling rising in her stomach. The fact that Vinyl didn’t want to look her in the eye made the feeling even worse.

“I sort of…uhm…asked another DJ to play my music.” Vinyl felt it was best to not mention Neon Lights. “I get payed for my music, but don’t actually play myself. Like…like that I have more time to help Octavia.”

Neither pony spoke for a good half minute. Vinyl was very well aware that Lyra was just gaping at her with an open mouth. It had become very uncomfortable for Vinyl and she was slowly turning sour. She jumped a little as Lyra finally reacted by slamming her hoof on the table making their drinks wobble.

“Have you lost your bucking mind?!” Lyra thrust a hoof towards Vinyl. “What the….what the bucking hay, Vinyl?!”

“No, I haven’t lost my bucking mind, thank you very much!” Vinyl’s mood shifted to a more confrontational one. “I know what I am doing.”

“I seriously doubt that! Why would you do something like that?”

“Octavia needs my help and all I’m doing is making some free time to do just that.” Vinyl defended herself with a bit more bite in her voice.

“Vinyl, you are now doing something that I warned you about.” Lyra chuckled without humor. “I warned you that you would get hurt the way things were going. Hay, even your dad said the same damn thing. And now you are doing it, you are hurting yourself!” Lyra tapped her hoof on the table. “Yes, Octavia may need help, but she is a grown up mare that can take care of herself. You cannot just throw away your own career and ambitions because of her!”

“You are one to talk.” Vinyl thrust her own hoof now towards the unicorn opposite her. “You did the same thing!”

“I…what?” Lyra frowned at the accusation.

“You gave up your spot in the Royal Canterlot Orchestra for Bon Bon!” Vinyl ground her teeth as Lyra rolled her eyes.

“Yeah, I did that.” Lyra nodded her head in agreement. “After long thought and…”

“I thought about it a lot as well!” Vinyl interrupted, but Lyra ignored it and continued.

“And I talked to Bon Bon about it. It was one of the toughest decisions I had to make, but we both wanted to be together and were willing to do whatever it took to make that happen!”

“So? Where’s the difference?” Vinyl interrupted once more.

Lyra briefly paused and stared at Vinyl through squinted eyes. Vinyl could almost feel the other unicorn’s temper rising.

“The difference…” Lyra continued with a much calmer tone than Vinyl had expected. “The difference is that Bon Bon and I were a couple when we faced that challenge. I really hate to say this Vinyl, but you and Octavia are not a couple. As long as she doesn’t know how you feel, that won’t change. You love her, I know and I can see that, but the way it is it simply isn’t worth throwing away everything you work for.”

“She is worth it!” Vinyl snapped back. A small part in the back of her mind agreed with Lyra, but was drowned out by the much larger part that didn’t want to know anything about that.

“You know what?” Lyra began to rummage through her saddlebag with a free hoof. “I have had it with you two. It’s about time you came clean with her and see what happens, because it sure is better than going down the path you are on now.”

“What are you doing?” Vinyl tried grabbing some part of Lyra to keep her seated.

“I am going to tell her, as it is pretty obvious you can’t.” Lyra continued to search for something in her bag, while Vinyl’s stomach suddenly dropped into a pit.

“You can’t do that!” Vinyl finally caught Lyra’s foreleg with a hoof.

“Don’t tell me what I can or can’t do.” Lyra’s response was very quiet. “It’s the best solution.”

“No, no…it isn’t.” Vinyl held on to Lyra, her own temper now flaring up once more. “Why do you care anyway?”

“Buck you, Vinyl!” Lyra gave her a very angry look and shook Vinyl’s hold on her away. “I care, because we are friends and I can’t watch a friend throw everything in her life away for some pursuit that is pretty much doomed from the start, sorry.”

Vinyl swallowed hard at the words from Lyra’s mouth. They had stung in more ways than one and she refused to listen to them. Slightly deflated she once again tried to grab Lyra’s foreleg, but she avoided her easily.

“It’s….it’s my life Lyra.” Vinyl almost took on a pleading tone. “Good or bad decisions, I am the one to live with the consequences. Octavia doesn’t need to know and if you are my friend, then you won’t tell her anything.”

For a very long time Lyra just stared at the white unicorn, her face a mixture of anger and disbelief. Very slowly Lyra averted her eyes and finished rummaging through her bag by taking out a couple of bits for her drink and putting them on the table. Without looking at Vinyl she stood up and put on her saddlebags.

“Are you my friend, Lyra?” Vinyl asked quietly causing the other mare to pause for a moment in her movements.

“Screw you, Scratch.”

Lyra left after saying those words quietly. Vinyl had no other option, but to watch her leave. The feeling in her stomach now was almost painful as she didn’t know what Lyra would do. She let her head rest on the table’s surface and suddenly felt like crying. Vinyl felt very alone and wished she had a friend at her side, the tragic thing about it being that she had possibly just lost one.




______________________________________________________________________




Octavia’s day was over and as always Vinyl was already waiting for her outside of the building. Unlike her usual cheerful self, this time the unicorn seemed rather sullen.

“Hello, Vinyl.” Octavia greeted her friend and immediately set the course for home.

“Hey, Tavi.” Vinyl’s response sounded tired. Octavia mused that she was still feeling the effects of the incident at the club. She decided to try and cheer her friend up with some very good news she had received today. “Guess what, I know who our new lyrist is going to be.”

“Yeah, it’s Lyra.” Vinyl answered a lot less enthusiastic about the news than Octavia had reckoned with. She also noticed that Vinyl seemed to try not to put too much pressure on her right front hoof.

“Oh, you already know?”

“I met with her this afternoon again and she told me.” Vinyl’s answer sounded a bit bitter to Octavia.

“Again?” Octavia had picked up on that word immediately. “Oh, do you often meet up?”

“Every once in a while.” Vinyl shrugged and seemed not willing to share any more information. Octavia quickly came up with an answer as to why that was.

“Uhm…does Bon Bon know?” Octavia suddenly had the image in her head of Lyra kissing Vinyl.

“What?” Vinyl gave her friend a puzzled look before realizing what Octavia was implying. “Oh, no. It’s nothing like that. We just got together once in a while to chat. I’m not interested in Lyra. Or Bon Bon for that matter.”

Octavia noted that Vinyl had not explicitly stated she wasn’t interested in mares. It was something that for some reason kept sticking in her mind like tar.

“Perhaps we should visit them? Have a little celebration?” Octavia suggested and very well was aware of Vinyl flinching at the suggestion.

“No, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Vinyl turned her head away from the cellist.

“Why not?”

“Lyra is…most likely preparing for tomorrow. We don’t want to mess up her first day.” Vinyl explained quickly.

“Yes, I guess you are right.” Octavia nodded once, but kept an eye on Vinyl. Something was off with the DJ, apart from the bruises and limping of course. “Are you ok?”

“Yeah, sure.” Vinyl quickly answered and tried a smile. One look at Octavia told her that the cellist wasn’t buying her answer. “No….”

“What’s wrong?” Octavia stopped and Vinyl had no choice but to stop as well. “I noticed you are limping.”

“I just missed a step earlier.” Vinyl would not share the truth that she had hurt her hoof while punching Neon Lights.

“Should we go to a doctor?” Octavia tried her best to remember where the next available doctor was from their position in the city.

“No, it’s ok.” Vinyl shook her head. “I’m just really tired. It was tough day for me.”

“Are you sure?” Octavia studied her friend closely.

“Don’t worry about me, Tavi.” Vinyl grinned halfheartedly. “Besides, I have something for you back home.”

Vinyl set the pace towards their home once more and Octavia kept an eye on her friend for any signs of discomfort. The rest of the trip went in silence, both ponies lost in their own thoughts.




____________________________________________________________________




“Tadaaa!” Vinyl announced her surprise as their entered their home.

An enormous pile of books was stacked on the kitchen table. Octavia’s surprise at the unexpected sight turned into an angry frown.

“I thought I told you not to do anything too taxing!” Octavia turned to her friend with worry clearly visible on her face. “You aren’t well and should rest!”

“It wasn’t taxing.” Vinyl hobbled over to the couch after closing the front door. “Just a couple of books, that’s all.”

“Vinyl….” Octavia stopped herself from chastising the other mare. She knew Vinyl well enough to know that it wouldn’t stop her and the damage had already been done. With a sigh she cast a glance over the assembled books. “Why so many? And what are they about?”

“I figured it might help you if we learned more about other composers. Perhaps learning how they created music can help you with yours.” Vinyl explained and dumped her saddlebags beside the couch. With a grunt she flopped down and let out a sigh of relief.

“That’s….” Octavia just stared at the pile of literature momentarily speechless. “That’s a good idea, but you shouldn’t have bought all of them at once.”

“No problem.” Vinyl took off her sunglasses and put them on her saddlebags.

“Thank you, Vinyl.” Octavia smiled at her friend. “But you still shouldn’t have done all that on your own.”

“Anything for you, Tavi.” Vinyl grinned, a genuine sign this time.

Octavia trotted into the music room to put down her cello. One quick trip to her bedroom to remove her bowtie and one to the bathroom to freshen up later, she returned to the living room area. Vinyl was off the couch again and messing about in the kitchen. Octavia quietly stomped a hoof on the floor.

Why won’t she just take it easy?

Knowing that she couldn’t remove Vinyl from the kitchen even if she tried, she decided to help her with dinner preparations. Together they quickly made some noodles with fresh tomato sauce and grated cheese. There was barely any space left on the table to eat, but somehow they managed to finish their meal while being wedged in between books.

“Shall we begin?” Vinyl asked after they had cleared their empty plates away and nodded to the books.




_______________________________________________________________________



Octavia was thoroughly engrossed in the book about Marezart she was currently reading. For the last couple of hours they had each read or skimmed through plenty of books, hoping for some kind of technique to unlock Octavia’s creative side.

They had divided the books into two smaller piles on the floor. With legs tucked under their bodies the two ponies had also taken up position on the floor, Vinyl facing the opposite direction to Octavia to keep the books from mixing up. Not much was said as both began reading, the silence only interrupted by the sound of pages turning.

Slowly even that sound didn’t reach Octavia’s ears anymore as she became more and more absorbed in her book. She had of course learned about the composers during her time in university, but these books went into much more detail describing their lives and characters.

Octavia hadn’t even noticed that Vinyl wasn’t turning any pages anymore. The stressful day had tired the unicorn out and sometime in the middle of her third book she had fallen asleep. It wasn’t too cold, but Vinyl always liked to be wrapped up in a nice comfy blanket or cover to keep cozy. Unconsciously she slowly inched towards the only source of heat available to her.

Octavia’s head whipped around as she suddenly felt Vinyl moving not only towards her, but also on to her. The sleeping unicorn had flopped over Octavia’s lower back with her chest resting on the cellists right flank. Vinyl’s head came to a rest in the middle of Octavia’s back facing the earthpony.

Octavia was about to question what her friend was doing, when she noticed that the unicorn was fast asleep. For a moment Octavia didn’t breathe or move. Her body had tensed up at the sudden touch, but very slowly relaxed.

She wasn’t very accustomed to physical touch with other ponies. A few hugs between close friends or family was the greatest of physical contact she had in the past. As a foal she would sometimes snuggle up between her parents when a nasty nightmare caused her distress, but that was a long time ago.

Of course there was that little incident not too long ago where she had woken up holding Vinyl in a vice grip, but that was an accident. It might have been the best sleep she had ever had in a very long time, but it was still just a harmless accident that wouldn’t repeat itself…..right?

Octavia watched the unicorn sleep soundly for a moment or two. Even with the large black eye and various smaller bruises, she looked so peaceful that Octavia didn’t dare disturb her. Vinyl had been through a lot, almost all of it somehow because of the cellist. Surely there was no harm in just letting her lay there for a moment or two longer. It was rather comforting to the cellist and made her feel more protected in a way.

The cellist turned her attention back to her book. After a few minutes it became rather difficult to concentrate on the words before her. She could feel the slow and steady breathing of Vinyl on the back of her neck. With every breath Vinyl’s chest pressed against her flank.

It’s getting warm in here.

Octavia felt her eyelids getting heavier by the second. With a few shakes of her head she dispelled some of the sleep slowly getting a grip on her. She cast a glance over to the clock hanging on the wall. It was eleven o’clock already, an hour over her regular bedtime.

She yawned wide enough for her jaw to click and her eyes to water. There wasn’t any point in continuing reading anymore, so she closed the book not bothering to bookmark the page she was on. Through bleary eyes she cast a glance to the sleeping DJ on her back and wondered what she should do.

The thought occurred to simply stay here on the floor. It was peaceful and nice in a way, but she would regret having slept on the hard floor the next morning. With a sigh she carefully shook the unicorn using her hoof.

It took a good amount of effort to even get some kind of reaction out of the mare, but eventually she stirred awake.

“Sorry, Vinyl.” Octavia felt the need to apologize for having to wake her up. “It’s time to go to bed.”

Still more asleep than awake the DJ had no real hold on the words being mumbled by her.

“Yours or mine?” Vinyl smiled happily and was about to fall back to sleep.

“I…uh…” Octavia didn’t quite know if Vinyl had meant that as a joke or not. She decided it was the first and not the latter, while shaking Vinyl with a hoof.

Very slowly Vinyl gave in to the annoying hoof shaking her and tried to get up. Only with Octavia’s help did she manage somehow to get on to her hooves. The DJ let herself be led into her bedroom and into bed by the earthpony. Without much ceremony she fell into bed and was back to sleep in milliseconds. Octavia took the time to cover up the other pony with the bedcover and tucked her in.

“Goodnight, Vinyl.” Octavia whispered and silently made her way to her own room.

As she clambered into bed and between the sheets she felt cold, suddenly missing the touch and warmth of another pony at her side. Sleep eventually won over and she drifted off into the land of dreams.