• Published 15th Nov 2013
  • 5,145 Views, 321 Comments

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 25

93 days until the concert.

Octavia awoke to the smell of pancakes. Of all possible ways to wake up this was by far her favourite. Almost on autopilot she slid out of bed and stumbled towards the kitchen following the heavenly scent.

“Mmblf.” Octavias mumbled greeting escaped her lips prior to yawning widely.

“Hey, Tavi.” Vinyl smiled at the state the cellist was in. Half asleep with a content smile on her lips, mane wildly sticking out in all directions. With practiced movements Vinyl flipped a pancake in the pan. With her magic she levitated a finished one on to a plate and hovered it past the cellist to the table.

Obediently the earthpony followed the floating deliciousness to the table, accidentally bumping into a chair and nearly knocking it over. Still smiling she plopped herself on a chair and took a deep breath of the wonderful aroma wafting up from her food. Without any kind of manners she dove right in, earning a chuckle from Vinyl.

“Seems like somepony is hungry.” Vinyl slid another fresh pancake on to Octavia’s plate and sat down opposite her to eat her own breakfast.

They ate their food in relative silence. Octavia was anything but refined in the early morning hours and table manners were just a suggestion to her. Vinyl grinned as the cellist burped loud enough to wake up the neighbours. She slid another pancake on the now empty plate and earned a grunt in response.

“What happened last night?” Vinyl asked after a few moments when the speed in which her food was being devoured by the earthpony had slowed down a bit.

“Hmm? What do you mean?” Octavia licked her lips clean of some of the pancake debris clinging to them.

“I don’t really remember how I got into bed last night.” Vinyl carefully coated her pancake with syrup. “Last thing I remember was reading a book on the floor.”

“You fell asleep on top of me.” Octavia smiled. The smile turned into a grin as Vinyl’s color turned a shade of pink.

“I did what?” The DJ put the fork she was levitating down.

“You sort of pulled yourself on my back and were fast asleep.” Octavia’s grin grew wider as Vinyl’s blush intensified.

“I…I didn’t drool did I?”

“No, nothing of the kind.” Octavia concentrated on the pancake in front of her again. It was sort of adorable how Vinyl was blushing.

Adorable? Where did that word come from?

“Sorry about that.” Vinyl said sheepishly.

“Don’t worry about it. It was rather nice.” Now it was Octavia’s turn to blush.

Why did I say that?

“At least it gives me something nice to tell Lyra later on.” Octavia chose to ignore her burning cheeks.

Vinyl nearly dropped her fork she had just picked up again. “Lyra? Uhm…why Lyra?”

“It’s her first day at work today!” Octavia felt elated to finally have one pony at work she got along with.

“Uh….oh yeah.” Vinyl put the fork back down again. Suddenly she wasn’t hungry anymore.

“I better get ready.” Octavia briefly looked around for a napkin, but didn’t find one on the table. With a shrug she wiped her mouth with a foreleg, she would have a quick bath now first anyway.

“Yeah, you do that.” Vinyl watched her friend retreat into the bathroom. She had a suspicion that the day might have a few unpleasant surprises in store for her, depending on what Lyra would do.




_____________________________________________________________________________




“Settle down, settle down.” Ictus barked as he appeared on stage.

Octavia had hoped to chat with Lyra a bit before they would start playing, but she hadn’t seen the lyrist anywhere all morning. She began doubting if she had heard Maestro Ictus properly yesterday.

“We have some new arrangements.” Ictus grinned. It made all musicians instantly uncomfortable. He almost never smiled and a few ponies cast a fearful eye to the next pony beside them.

“I believe most of you are familiar with our new lyrist, Miss Lyra Heartstrings.” Ictus pointed at the newest member of their ensemble already sitting at her position. Octavia hadn’t even noticed her come on stage.

“Now I know that you are worried about her deviant behaviour back in Canterlot.” Ictus kept pointing at the mint green unicorn. Octavia frowned at Ictus’ introduction of their new lyrist. “Unfortunately we are in need of a lyrist on short notice and believe it or not, she is actually the most qualified.”

Heads turned to eye the unicorn with curiosity. A couple of ponies began murmuring to the ones beside them. Ictus would normally have stomped out any kind of behaviour like that immediately, strangely enough he allowed it this time.

“Despite her doings in the past, it seems as if it has not affected her ability to play.” Ictus held up a hoof in an apologetic way. “I know, I know….some of you are uneasy about having somepony like her here, but I have made some arrangements to keep you out of harm’s way, so to speak.”

Octavia felt the heat rise in her cheeks. Unlike this morning, now it was because of anger. Talking about somepony’s private affairs like that was entirely uncalled for.

“You will not have to share your space with her as I have arranged for Miss Heartstrings to have a room for herself.” Ictus grin grew a little wider. “Her room is at the end of the hallway. You might remember it as a closet for the janitorial supplies. I don’t think it will be much of an adjustment for Miss Heartstrings, as I believe she has some experience with closets, especially coming out of one.”

A few ponies had the decency to look embarrassed at the lame joke. Others smiled awkwardly, while the larger majority were chuckling along with Ictus. Octavia did not laugh, in fact she was about to stand up and give Ictus a good piece of her mind.

Then she saw Lyra’s expression. She looked bored and entirely apathetic to what was going on around her. Octavia let out the breath she had held in her cheeks with a hiss. If Lyra wasn’t fazed by the harassment, then the cellist wouldn’t be either. Perhaps Lyra was right and there was no point into dropping to that level. Better to rise above the words being spoken, they were after all just that, only words.

She would have to talk to Lyra after the day was over. Perhaps she could have Ictus move the lyrist into Octavia’s room. There was more than enough space for two after all.




___________________________________________________________________




Over the rest of the day Octavia’s mood soured more and more. Ictus kept criticizing Lyra’s performance again and again. It was entirely unjustified as the lyrist played each note perfectly. It was nothing more than deliberate harassment on Ictus part. He even missed a fairly obvious blunder by one of the violinists and kept his attention solely on Lyra.

The mint green mare didn’t even bother to bat an eyelash at the constant criticisms and just played her part. How she remained so calm was something of a mystery to the cellist. Perhaps the anger management classes Lyra had taken had really done the trick.

Octavia felt relieved when Ictus signaled the end of the day’s session. He stormed off stage and Octavia wasted no time to pack up her cello in its case. She urgently wanted to talk to Lyra, but as she looked over to the mare, she found her already gone. The earthpony frowned at the sudden disappearance of her friend, but then just shrugged. She could always just go to where she lived and talk to her there.

Now that she wasn’t in a rush, she took her time with the last bit of packing. Carefully making sure that the bow was secured inside the case and the cello itself tightly strapped in. She dropped by her room to pick up her bright pink lunchbox that Vinyl had given her and hung it on the neck of the cello case. By the time she had finished up with everything all the other musicians had already left.

She exited the backstage area and stepped into the foyer, making a beeline for the large exit.

“Psst!”

Octavia stopped in her tracks and looked around.

“Octavia! Over here!” Lyra whispered from the door to the mares restroom and beckoned her over with a hoof.

“Hey, L…”

“Ssssshh, get inside!” Lyra held the door open for the cellist.

Quickly she ducked into the restroom and turned to the other mare. Lyra silently observed the deserted foyer for a moment to make sure that nopony else was around. She closed the door and locked it with a click.

“What’s going on? Why the secrecy?” Octavia raised an eyebrow as Lyra stepped away from the door and trotted over to the washbasin.

“It’s better that way.” Lyra answered and splashed her face with some water.

“What way?” Octavia walked up to her friend. Lyra seemed a lot less calm now than she had done during the day.

“You heard what that flankhead said.” Lyra dabbed some water droplets from her face with a paper towel. “What do you think he would do if he saw us together?”

“What business is it of his?” Octavia felt she would have some say in things, because of the way Ictus constantly elevated her position above all the other musicians. “I should talk to him.”

“Nononono, no!” Lyra put a hoof on the mare’s shoulder. “You saw how they react. If you side with me they will turn on you.”

“Just for sticking up for you?” In truth Octavia wasn’t entirely sure they wouldn’t turn on her.

“Yeah, trust me. They will give you a hard time if they know that we are friends. That’s why I wanted to talk to you anyway.” Lyra now looked uncomfortable and glanced at her reflection in the mirror. “It’s best if we don’t talk to each other or meet up somewhere anymore.”

“Surely you can’t be serious!” Octavia felt anger boiling up inside her. Not because of Lyra, but rather that other ponies seemed to have a say in who and who not she was allowed to spend her time with.

“Don’t call me….” Lyra wanted to make that old joke out of reflex, but didn’t feel too much like making jokes. “I am serious. If they find out that you associate with somepony like me, then they’ll give you the same treatment.”

“That isn’t fair!” Octavia stomped a hoof on the floor. The sound bounced off the tiled walls and gave her move a bit more weight. “So what if they start saying stupid things to me? I’d rather stand by my friend.”

“Octavia…” Lyra was touched that the cellist would stand at her side, but she knew that the Canterlot pony did not always think things through. “You know what happened to me back in Canterlot. You would have the same problems just for knowing me.”

“But we are here in Manehatten.” Octavia tilt her head to the side not quite following what the unicorn wanted to say.

“Yeah, but we will be playing in Canterlot in a few months.” Lyra threw the paper towel she was holding in her magical grasp into the waste bin. “You can bet that Ictus will tell them about you knowing me and you can kiss your hopes of ever being part of the Royal Canterlot Orchestra goodbye.”

“That’s not right.” Octavia replied quietly. She full well knew the trouble her friend had received and that the pressure had forced her to abandon her musical career in Canterlot.

“Many things aren’t. Trust me, it is the best solution.” Lyra sighed at the now visibly upset cellist. “We can still keep in touch. By letters or through Bon Bon.”

“I guess you are right.” Octavia sighed and tried a smile. “If anything happens I can always send Vinyl over.”

Lyra froze for a moment. It was fairly obvious that the gears in her mind were turning rapidly. For some reason she couldn’t quite look Octavia in the eye anymore. Lyra removed her hoof from her friends shoulder and cleared her throat.

“About Vinyl…” Lyra began and watched Octavia from the corner of her eye. The cellist had a curious expression and was patiently waiting for what Lyra had to say.

There was no elegant way of shedding light on Vinyl’s predicament. The argument that Lyra had with the DJ only a day before was still fresh on her mind. She had not slept well that night and the fact that Bon Bon took side with Vinyl also gnawed at her.

“What about Vinyl?” Octavia’s curiosity had been replaced by concern for the wellbeing of her friend.

“It just that she….” Lyra swallowed hard. Yesterday she had been set on telling Octavia everything, but now she wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do. In light of how Ictus had been acting towards Lyra, the last thing she wanted for Octavia was to be stuck in a similar position. “She said she had a surprise for you. Something about your problem with creating music?”

“Oh, yes.” Octavia’s face lit up with a smile. “She got all these books for me and we went through a few of them hoping to learn how the great composers actually composed. Very interesting stuff so far.”

“That’s a cool thing she did.” Lyra fiddled around with the tap in an effort to not look her friend in the face.

“It is a very sweet thing she did.” Octavia sighed. “I only hope we can find something in those books. Otherwise the concert will most certainly be one to remember.”

“Nah, I bet everything will go smoothly.” Lyra nodded at her reflection in the mirror. “In a couple of months we will be laughing about all of this.”

“Just….” Octavia began, but fell silent and cast her eyes downwards in thought.

“Just what?” Lyra prompted as it became apparent that Octavia would not continue without.

“Just why do you take the things he said and not do anything?” Octavia had a fire burning in her eyes. “If it was me I would have given him a piece of my mind and stormed off.”

“Eh…I don’t really let it get to me.” Lyra shrugged and smirked. “Besides, I am doing this mainly for Bon Bon. A bit of discomfort is worth it if you love somepony. You might do some silly things in an effort to help them.”

Lyra feverishly hoped that Octavia would get the hint. The cellist was now smiling, but it was clear that she didn’t get it.

“It is nice to have somepony like that.” Octavia nodded and Lyra was very tempted to just blurt out that Vinyl was doing the same for her. She held her tongue and rather nodded to the door.

“You better get going before Vinyl calls the guards and places a missing ponies report.” Lyra unlocked the door with her magic.

Octavia moved towards the door, but stopped and turned back to look at the lyrist with a stern expression on her face.

“If things are too much for you and you feel the need to give him a piece of your mind, just know that I will stand beside you.”

“Thanks Octavia.” Lyra’s response was heartfelt. Having a friend willing to side with her despite possible ramifications to her own career was touching. However Lyra would be damned before she would allow Octavia to do so. There was no need for her to throw away her own career for the sake of others. There was enough of that going around at the moment anyway.




___________________________________________________________________




The door fell shut behind Octavia and she paused for a moment to readjust the heavy case on her back. She jumped a bit as a voice boomed through the empty foyer.

“Octavia!” Ictus was moderately surprised to still see the cellist here. “Is everything ok?”

“Yes.” Octavia immediately felt her temper rising at the sight of the conductor. “I just had to use the restroom.”

“I can perfectly understand that.” Ictus was either ignoring Octavia’s frosty tone of voice or oblivious to it. “Quite frankly I feel rather ill myself. What with having one of them now in our little ensemble.”

“Beg pardon?” Octavia briefly wondered if hitting him over the head with her cello would have any repercussions. Wisely she decided to just look appalled at the stallion.

“It is an unfortunate evil we must put up with for the time being.” Ictus continued and misread Octavia’s apparent disgust as being directed at Lyra and not at him. “Hard to believe that she was the only lyrist available with something resembling a degree of skill. I mean she has graduated in Canterlot top of her class. Too bad her deviant nature caused her to fall so far.”

Octavia silently was fuming and had to bite her tongue as not to say anything. Once again Ictus misread her expression and held up a hoof in an assuaging manner.

“But don’t worry, I’ll make sure she stays as far away from you as possible.” Ictus turned around and started moving back towards his office. “We wouldn’t want her filth to affect your ability and I know you will be needing a clear mind for the concert and shouldn’t have to worry about her.”

Octavia growled as soon as Ictus was out of earshot. Her mood was now effectively ruined and she mumbled a few very choice words in his direction. Her hoofsteps echoed loudly through the room and she stomped towards the exit. She felt the need for air and to be as far away from that despicable individual as possible for the rest of the day.




___________________________________________________________________




Vinyl was pacing back and forth at the bottom of the steps.

Octavia was fifteen minutes late and in light of recent events the unicorn had plenty to worry about.

Had Big Time or Squeak found her? Should she call the guards and file a missing pony report? Had Lyra told her everything and now she didn’t want to have anything to do with Vinyl ever again? Or had she simply been delayed because of more practice?

Vinyl toyed with the idea of going inside to see if there maybe had been an accident and Octavia would need her help. On the other hoof her intrusion might cause even more problems. She was more than a bit out of place here with her appearance, now even more so that to the very visible bruises she had.

Every thought in her mind ground to a halt as the doors opened up with a bit more force than needed. As she watched a very angry Octavia descend the stairs her ears fell with every step the earthpony took.

So Lyra has told her….

“H-Hey Tavi.” Vinyl tried her best to grin, but the other mare didn’t even once look at her.

“Home. Now.” Octavia’s snarled order made Vinyl flinch back in alarm.

Oh, buck me….

Silently Vinyl followed the angry earthpony a step behind. It was fairly obvious that Octavia was furious about something. The way she held her head low with folded back ears, every step had a bit more force when stomping on the ground and the frowning look told Vinyl that not all was well.

Do something! Say something!

“I…uh…how was your day?” In retrospect Vinyl thought she could have opened the discussion with maybe a bit more elegance.

“Don’t even ask.” Octavia chuckled humorlessly.

For crying out loud, Scratch! Say something else!

“Wh…D-did Lyra say anything?” There still was a tiny sliver of hope in Vinyl’s mind that Octavia was angry about something entirely unrelated to Lyra or Vinyl.

“Oh, she told me a few things.” Octavia stomped so hard on the ground that Vinyl was afraid she would possibly sprain a hoof. “The things that some ponies have done really reeeaaaally makes me angry beyond words right now.”

She knows! Quickly! Apologize or do something! Anything!

“I…I’m uh…” Vinyl had severe problems to form any kind of coherent sentence. It took most of her willpower to not break down and cry while begging Octavia for forgiveness. She had a feeling that wouldn’t go down too well in the middle of the street.

“We’ll talk at home.” Octavia silenced the stammered sentence of the DJ before it could even properly form.

It was possibly the longest walk home that Vinyl had ever had in her entire life.




___________________________________________________________________





Once they had arrived inside their apartment, Octavia immediately disappeared first into the music room to put her cello away and then into the bathroom. Vinyl was left standing in the living room. A feeling of foreboding slowly was spreading into every fiber of her very being.

It was clear that Octavia wasn’t in the best of moods, in fact Vinyl had never seen her this angry before and it made her feel worse. Vinyl had tried to think of some way to diffuse the situation, but came up blank. Lyra had obviously told Octavia about everything and all the DJ could do was to face it head on.

She did not remove her sunglasses as a precaution to hide away her now already moist eyes. Crying was most certainly within the realm of soon to be possibilities, but Vinyl would not use it to sway Octavia in any way.

It is as it is….

She sucked in a huge breath of air and held it as Octavia came stomping into the living room. Her mane was slightly frazzled and in the area where her bowtie used to be her coat also looked ruffled. She had most likely torn off the bowtie and it now had joined its brethren on the bathroom floor.

“The bloody nerve of some ponies!” Octavia began venting while paced around the dining table. “Today I have been given a very interesting insight into things thanks to Lyra.”

Vinyl plopped on her rump and tried to make herself as small as possible.

“I knew that things would be difficult, but now…NOW I am angry.” Octavia knocked a pile of books over that were piled close to the circular course around the table she was moving in. “It most certainly makes me see some ponies in an entirely different light, I can tell you that!”

Vinyl let out the breath she had been holding out as a whimper. There had been the hope that Octavia might have just put on a show outside of the building earlier and once back home she would smother Vinyl with kisses and profess her love for her. While smothering was certainly an option looming in Vinyl’s near future, it was not the kind she was interested in.

“I...I’m sorry.” Vinyl managed to croak out.

“What?” Octavia stopped her pacing and looked over to her friend. “Why are you sorry?”

“It’s obvious that I did something wrong and I just…” Vinyl was about to confess everything right then and there, but Octavia cut her off with a sigh.

“Sorry, Vinyl.” The cellist moved towards her now cowering friend. “I am not angry with you and you didn’t do anything wrong.”

“I…didn’t?” Now Vinyl was very confused at the mixed signals she had received from the other mare.

“It is Ictus and the rest of them that I am angry with.” Octavia ran a hoof through her mane. “The way they acted towards Lyra was despicable.”

“I…Lyra…huh? What?”

Octavia told Vinyl of the events during work and the talk she had with Lyra afterwards in the restroom. With every word she said the unicorns feeling of relief grew larger and larger. Lyra had not said anything, which meant things were still the way they had been before. Vinyl let out a small chuckle of relief when Octavia had finished her report.

“What’s funny?” Octavia’s tone of voice was still slightly agitated.

“Sorry.” Vinyl felt a lot happier than was called for in light of recent events. “It’s just hard to believe that they acted that way. Like something out of a bad movie or sloppily written work of fiction.”

“I agree.” Octavia took a deep breath. “I thought Canterlot was bad from what Lyra had told me, but seeing it firsthoof was really eye-opening. I remember Lyra writing how Manehatten was more accepting, but I find that hard to believe after today.”

“Nah, you get that all over the place.” Vinyl shrugged. “Las Pegasus is also a rather relaxed city, but I got a number of mean looks every once in a while.”

You just hinted that you had the same problems as Lyra!

“But…but I think it might have something to do with you all being part of the classical music side of things.” Vinyl had very quickly added the last sentence and hoped Octavia had not made the connection that Vinyl was interested in mares.

“You are right I guess.” Octavia scrunched up her nose. “They call it classical for a reason after all. But that doesn’t justify behaving like that.”

“No it doesn’t.” Vinyl nodded in agreement. “If I had been there I would have used some very specific words and Bon Bon most likely would want to wash my mouth out with soap afterwards for at least a week.”

“I was thiiiiis close to saying something.” Octavia held her front hooves together leaving only two millimeters of space between them. “I saw that Lyra didn’t react so I figured I would react to something that low either.”

“May have been for the better.” Vinyl said after a moment of thought.

“Lyra said so too.” Octavia sighed and let her ears droop a bit. “It isn’t fair that I have to keep away from one of my friends now though.”

“Life isn’t always fair.” Vinyl had a rather good understanding about that for sure. “But it isn’t forever, just until the concert is over.”

“Yeah….you’re right.” Octavia cast a glance at the books lying on the floor. She didn’t really have the nerve right now for studying, but she felt better after venting some of her anger. A nice bath would clear away the last bit of uncomfortable feelings she had. Then suddenly out of nowhere her mind dredged up something Vinyl had said. Her ears perked up and she turned to look at her friend with a raised eyebrow. “You just said you had trouble in Las Pegasus? With what?”

“Oh…I…err…” Vinyl began sweating.

Here’s another chance, Scratch! Tell her!

“Well, it was because of…” Vinyl tried to blend out the nagging voice in the back of her head. “My eyes!”

Oh, for crying out loud….

“Got plenty of looks because of my eyes. So I know what it is like being different.” Vinyl gave her friend a painfully fake smile.

“Oh…” Octavia’s ears slowly lowered a bit. “Sorry to hear that.”

“Sunglasses helped with that.” Vinyl tapped the mentioned object on her face with a hoof.

Vinyl wasn’t too sure on how to read the cellist’s expression. She seemed to accept Vinyl’s explanation, but there was something else there. Maybe some kind of disappointment? Octavia excused herself and trotted towards the bathroom to take a bath with plenty of bubbles, while Vinyl was left sitting in the living room trying to properly understand the look she had been given.

After a good five minutes Vinyl gave up, maybe she was just seeing things.