• 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 26

87 days until the concert.

Vinyl trotted through the park on course to Big Times club.

It was the day after Neon Lights first evening performing in the club again, this time while playing Vinyl's music. She had decided to drop by and see how he had done his job. At the same time she could drop off three new tracks for him to use.

The last few days had been uncomfortable for Vinyl. Octavia would come home and rant about the way that conductor pony had behaved during their practice. During a long bubble bath she would calm down and after dinner she would be back to her usual self.

Then both of them would spend the rest of the evening in silence reading the books Vinyl had organized. It bored her to no end, but her desire to help Octavia kept her reading about decomposing composers. If only there had been any worthwhile information within, then the efforts would have paid off. As it was until now there wasn’t anything written in them that helped them with their problem.

The most uncomfortable thing was not knowing if Lyra would indeed still talk about Vinyl’s feelings towards the cellist or not. Vinyl suspected that it wouldn’t surface, but not knowing was stressful. The obvious dislike of the ensemble towards Lyra and what she stood for did not boost Vinyl’s wish to let Octavia know how she felt. It was better if it was kept under the rug until after the looming concert.

Vinyl only briefly glanced over to the joggers making their rounds in the park. She could do with the exercise, but she wasn’t back at full health yet and chose to save that thought for a later date.

As she arrived at the club she held an eye open for any signs of the fight that had broken out. If there had been any damages done she could not spot any. Once inside everything seemed to be in order, most likely the cleanup crews had worked overtime to restore the club to its former state. The bartender nodded to Vinyl and told her to go into the boss’ office before he continued to restock the bar for the day.

The DJ made her way there, a bit surprised that Big Time was already in his office. She had only intended to talk to some of the staff, but perhaps it was better if she gave him the tracks meant for Neon.


“Scratch…” Big Time looked up from the newspaper he was reading and gave Vinyl a long hard look. “Sit down.”

Vinyl obeyed and sat in front of the large desk. The gruffness in Big Times voice didn’t surprise her, as she had learned some time ago that he wasn’t much of a morning pony. What did surprise her was the distinct sound of door being locked shut behind her. Vinyl saw out of the corner of her eye that Squeak had taken up position in front of the door. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up as she suddenly had a very bad feeling.

“I think there is something we need to discuss.” Big Time very slowly began folding the newspaper up while not taking his eyes off Vinyl.

“Is it about Neon?” Vinyl hoped that Neon had somehow messed things up. Any other thing that needed discussing wasn’t going to be good for Vinyl.

“Neon did a good job.” Big Time slid the newspaper to the side and leaned forward. “Thanks to that we are having a polite discussion and not a not-so-nice-discussion.”

Vinyl swallowed hard and tried to smile, she failed miserably.

“You lied to me.” Big Time stated and tapped his front hooves together.

“I did what?” Vinyl had the bad feeling in her gut intensify. “Uh…what about?”

“About Octavia Philharmonica.”

“Who?” Vinyl’s attempt at a bluff was pathetic.

“No more lies, Scratch.” Big Time’s voice took on an even harder edge. “I know you two live together, I know where she works, I know where her home in Canterlot is and I know where her parents live.”

Vinyl shrunk back in her chair with every word that he said. She tried to say something, anything to smooth things over, but nothing came to mind on how to do that.

“The only reason I am now talking to you here and not sending Squeak over to have a chat with Miss Philharmonica is the simple fact that you are good for my business.” Big Time leaned back in his chair and watched Vinyl sweat. “Despite the chaos that your friend caused, I am willing to let it go for once.”

Vinyl felt a small spark of hope igniting inside her.

“On some conditions that is.” Big Time added after a couple of seconds.

The spark inside her was snuffed out instantly by the sea of dread rising up.

“What for conditions?” Vinyl asked with a whisper.

“How many tracks have you prepared for Neon?” Big Time asked instead of answering her question.

“I have three with me.”

“Your contract with him lasts for a year. How many were you intending to give him over that time?”

“Three…per month.”

“It will be five per month.” Big Time corrected her in a tone that left no room for any objection. “That’s sixty tracks over all. Minus the three you have with you, that means you owe him and me fifty-seven more tracks.”

Vinyl merely nodded. If that was all of the conditions then she was more than happy to fulfill them.

“Fifty-seven tracks by the end of this month.” He tapped a hoof on the table.

“That’s…” Vinyl was about to protest out of reflex, but was cut off instantly.

“That’s non-negotiable.” He leaned forward again, his eyes boring themselves in hers. “Furthermore your name will be slowly phased out of the posters. In a few weeks, maybe months the ponies will have forgotten about you and think that Neon is the one doing all the work.”

Vinyl just stared at the stallion speechless.

“Bring the tracks to me and I will pay you in full for the amount stated in the contract. After that I don’t want to see you here again.” Big Time smiled and Vinyl shrunk back even further. “I fact I don’t want to hear that you have started working in any other clubs in this town.”

Vinyl blinked a few times. She was not only going to be out of a job here, but in the entire town. A brief moment of defiance flickered up inside her. Big Time must have sensed it and his smile vanished.

“If I hear that you have started working in some other club, and I will hear it, then Squeak here will have a chat with your friend.” He leaned forward as far as possible. “Understood?”

Vinyl nodded slowly.

“I asked if you understood!” The barked response made Vinyl jump in shock.

“I…I understand, Sir.” Vinyl hastily answered with a quavering voice.

“Good.” Big Time nodded to Squeak standing by the door. With a sharp click the door unlocked and Big Time nodded towards it. “Now get out. I only want to see you here again with the tracks you owe.”

Vinyl somehow managed to get up. A rather impressive feat as her legs had seemingly turned into jelly. She stumbled on her way out the door, Squeak continuously giving her a very ticked off look. Once she stepped through, the door slammed shut behind her narrowly missing her.

She awkwardly shuffled towards the stairs leading down, trying to take deep breaths to calm down. It was of no use and she felt the stress coupled with the revelation that her own aspirations had been crushed beginning to overwhelm her.

With a jittery hoof she tried to shoo away the moisture building in her eyes. As her bottom lip began to quiver she tried to stop it by gritting her teeth and grimacing. Too much had gone wrong for her too many times and the damn holding it all in was breaking. The panic rising within gave her strength and she bolted down the stairs. As she raced for the exit somepony called after her asking if everything was alright. She paid the concerned voice no heed and crashed outside. Half blind from tears she ran as fast as she could towards the park, away from that damned club and her now lost hope of becoming a huge star.


Vinyl watched a little sparrow picking at some crumbs left over from somepony’s lunch on the bench beside her own.

She envied that little bird with a frightening intensity.

All it had to worry about was finding something to eat for the day. In Manehatten that was very easy for a little bird to do. To find a mate it would have to sing a little song and that was it.

It didn’t have to worry about bits or jobs. No goals to think of achieving with the exception of waking up early every once in a while to catch the early worm. It had the freedom to go anywhere at any time. Or poop freely wherever it chose to do so, evident by its current action.

Vinyl didn’t particularly envy the sparrow for the last part, but the rest sounded good to her. Why life always had to be so complicated bothered her. Perhaps ponies chose to make it so complicated and once set in motion the rest had to follow along if they liked it or not.

She had plenty of time to ponder those questions for the last hour sitting on the bench. The hour before that she had spent sobbing on the very same bench. It was sad that nopony bothered to stop and ask if she was alright. She had received plenty of looks from passing ponies, but not one stopped to talk. Vinyl would have liked to talk with somepony, maybe get some things off her chest. The only pony she had shared anything with had been Lyra, but for obvious reasons she could not turn to her.

The sparrow chirped once and took off. Vinyl tracked the little bird for a moment and sighed. Not all was bad. She had come to that conclusion after a lot of thinking.

Yes, she was out of a job again and would have to work hard the next couple of days with her deck to meet Big Time’s demands.

Yes, she could never play anyplace in this city for some time to come and her dream of seeing her name advertised in bright big letters on Times Square was now a thing of the past.

On the bright side it gave her plenty of time to help Octavia.

A part of her wasn’t too sure if that really was the bright side, but Vinyl squashed that thought quickly. At the moment it was pretty much the only thing helping her keep it together.

With a grunt she got off the bench and decided to circle the park once more before picking Octavia up. Perhaps she would see the little sparrow once more and tell it how lucky it was.


As usual Octavia was the last to leave the building.

Also as usual the day had been annoying to say the least. Ictus continuously sunk lower and lower in her opinion of him. Lyra didn’t react to the stream of insults and Octavia learned to turn a deaf ear to all of it. If not then she would explode sooner or later and that wouldn’t help her or Lyra in the long run.

The final usual occurrence was waiting for her at the bottom of the steps. Her greeting towards Vinyl was returned without the trademark smile of the white unicorn. Octavia didn’t think much of it and led the way back to their home.

After only a few minutes Octavia knew instinctively that something was not right with her friend. As the cellist gave her a quick report of the day, she only earned a grunt or two from her companion in return. Normally Vinyl would comment every once in a while or ask something, today she was rather silent.

“Is everything ok?” Octavia slowed down a bit to study her friends face.

“Yeah.” Vinyl’s reply was halfhearted at best. Octavia raised an eyebrow at the response.

“Are you sure?” Octavia stopped and looked at her friend.

“Yeah, I’m sure.” Vinyl didn’t stop and kept walking.

With no choice left Octavia followed her and decided to ask what was going on once they were at home. Perhaps Vinyl wasn’t feeling like saying anything outside in the public.

At home Vinyl immediately took out some of the leftovers from the day before and stuck them in the oven to heat up. Octavia deposited her cello in the music room and freshened up a bit in the bathroom. Once she came back into the living room she found it void of any unicorns. The dinner was prepared for her on the table. The absence of a second plate for Vinyl solidified her suspicion that not all was well. She ignored the food and trotted back into the music room. Sure enough she found Vinyl sitting behind her deck staring off into space.

“Vinyl?” Octavia’s question made Vinyl jump.

“Hey.” Vinyl began to fiddle around with some of the dials and purposefully didn’t look at the cellist. “I put your dinner on the table.”

“I saw.” Octavia stood in front of the deck trying to catch Vinyl’s eye. “I didn’t see your plate there.”

“Not hungry.” Vinyl flipped a couple of switches.

Octavia stood there for a few seconds waiting for the unicorn to say something more. It became obvious that the DJ wouldn’t oblige her wish.

“Is everything alright?” Octavia cursed mentally that Vinyl still was wearing her sunglasses. Without them it would have been a lot easier to see what was going on.

“Yeah….” Vinyl nodded once and continued pushing buttons.

“Vinyl…” Octavia put her hoof on Vinyl’s to stop her for a moment. Despite Vinyl seemingly still looking at the dials on her deck Octavia knew that she had the unicorn’s full attention. “Please tell me if something is wrong.”

“It’s nothing.” Vinyl shrugged once. “Just had a hard day at the club that’s all.”

“Because of me?” Octavia knew that there had to be some kind of repercussions for her actions.

“Yeah, kinda.” Vinyl turned her head to look at a stack of tapes beside the deck.

“Should I talk to them maybe?” Octavia would gladly to so if it would help her friend.

“No!” Vinyl’s head whipped back to face the cellist. “I…uh…took care of it all. Don’t worry about that anymore. I just have to work a little more for a while, that’s all. Back on the juice shift and all that..hehe.”

Octavia wasn’t convinced that Vinyl was telling her everything. She would have pushed it further, but sensed that Vinyl wasn’t going to give her any clear answer. Reluctantly she withdrew her hoof and decided that Vinyl knew best on how to take care of that situation.

“If you need any help of any kind you let me know, ok?” Octavia smiled and hoped that Vinyl would return it. The unicorn’s expression didn’t change.

“Yeah, ok.” Vinyl shrugged once more and began fiddling with the dials on the deck again. “I’m fine. Just need to work a bit now. You go and eat your food before it gets cold.”

Vinyl shooed the earthpony out of the room with a motion from her hoof. Octavia didn’t protest and trotted into the living room. She was really hungry and promptly dove into the leftovers from yesterday. It felt odd eating all alone for once.


The odd feeling remained.

Octavia had tried to block out Vinyl and concentrate on her own work after dinner. Yet she couldn’t shake the feeling that her friend wasn’t too happy right now. Sitting all alone on their little couch and reading books in dead silence was becoming rather unnerving to her.

The cellist had skimmed through three books thus far. Each one was interesting, but held no information that was relevant to her musical inabilities. With a sigh she closed the book about J.S. Buck and piled in on the stack of finished books. She reached for the next unread book but stopped halfway.

I can’t take much more of this….

It surprised her a little bit that she was so uncomfortable all alone. Before she had met Vinyl she relished the quiet evenings all to herself. She would read something, maybe watch a movie or two and practice on her cello.

Now however it seemed as if something essential to her was missing. Ever since living together with Vinyl they had not been separated for more than a couple of hours or while being at work. It was simply normal for Octavia to hear and see Vinyl around her. She didn’t even have to say or do anything, the mere presence of the unicorn was enough.

It puzzled Octavia why she found it so normal, so comforting, to have the DJ around her. While living alone she hadn’t wasted a minute’s thought about the company of another pony in her life. Now it kept leaping to the forefront of her mind in a most distracting manner.

With a sigh Octavia got up from the couch and trotted over to the refrigerator. She took out two juice boxes and carefully balanced them on her back. With a nudge of her flank she closed the refrigerator and made her way into the music room.

Vinyl looked up from her deck as soon as the cellist entered. At some point she had removed her sunglasses and donned a pair of headphones. Vinyl removed one side of them to free up an ear.

“I thought you might want something to drink.” Octavia said and put one of the juice boxes on the side of the deck.

“Thanks.” Vinyl smiled a genuine smile. “I was getting a little thristy.”

“Are you hungry? I could always make something for you.” Octavia offered and sat down beside her cello.

“Nah, I’m good. Thanks.” Vinyl took a sip from the box while Octavia did the same with her own.

After a few minutes of silence between them Octavia decided to stay in the room with her friend. She could always use some practice with her cello. With a totally unrefined burp she stood up and delicately began the careful balance act with her instrument. It was a kind of dance for her with a partner she knew very well. Vinyl apparently was back at mixing her music, but one ear remained headphone-free.

Octavia began playing a soothing calm melody. She knew what Vinyl liked in the way of classical music and she thought it might reduce some of the stress the unicorn was feeling. With expert precision she played one track after another. Just as she was about to begin the next piece Vinyl spoke up.

“Do you know any pieces about sparrows?” She asked with a hopeful look in her eyes.

“Sparrows?” Octavia thought for a moment. “Nothing exclusively about sparrows, no. Can another bird suffice?”

“That would be nice.” Vinyl smiled and returned to her work.

Octavia briefly wondered what was so special about sparrows, but shrugged it away and began playing the song. Seeing Vinyl smile somehow made the world complete again and gave her a fuzzy warm feeling in her chest.

It was a strange somewhat alien feeling. Octavia ignored it and blamed the juice for giving her a slight case of heartburn.