• 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 30

One day until the concert.

The train ride to Canterlot from Manehatten had begun with a fair amount of stress.

While Vinyl had made arrangements to get to Canterlot with as much comfort as possible by booking a first class compartment, they still had to actually get to the train first. Manehatten’s central station was packed full of ponies coming in and leaving the city.

Very much like their first arrival the sheer amount of ponies wasn’t something they were used to. Octavia especially had a hard time navigating the sea of ponies with her cello on her back. After being herded here and there, the cellist had enough and barged her way through the loudly complaining ponies by using her cello case as a makeshift pony-plow. Vinyl followed her closely and ignored some of the very colorful insults being hurled at them. Bon Bon most likely would have fallen into a catatonic shock from it all.

Only once they had settled into their reserved compartment did they relax. The four seat compartment had been booked in whole by Vinyl. She didn’t want any other pony sitting with them and they needed a seat for the large cello anyway.

Vinyl sat at the window and watched the ponies pushing and shoving their way on the platform. Octavia checked her cello for the third time in a couple of minutes and then finally settled down beside the unicorn.

Nearly five minutes after the train had left the station Vinyl heard the first snore from her right. Sure enough Octavia had fallen asleep, the snore being the first clue and the fact that she was now slightly drooling solidified the fact that the cellist was dreaming some hopefully pleasant dreams. Vinyl had not dreamt pleasantly in the last few days.

They had worked hard on Octavia’s music and had finally nailed it down. Vinyl had the reoccurring dream about rewinding movie reels that kept unwinding by themselves. She was happy that she wouldn’t have to be doing that anytime soon again.

The DJ watched the landscape pass by and felt the strange longing to stop the train and explore the vast fields and experience nature. The park in Manehatten had been nice, but she knew there was more to see. Maybe one day she would get the chance to visit a more rural place, away from the hectic city life. She could visit Lyra and Bon Bon in Ponyville or maybe track down Pinkie Pie and see where she had settled down.

Until then another city would be her next stop.




__________________________________________________________________


Canterlot was a stark contrast to Manehatten. Hard edges and rectangular buildings were replaced by elegantly designed curved architecture. The color-scheme of grey, blue and brown and been replaced by more refined tones that made the city on the side of the mountain seem like an old painting.

The change in the mares returning from Manehatten was immediate. Octavia automatically held her head up higher, her nose turned slightly up and even her manner of speaking had changed.

“Is it not marvellous?” Octavia’s voice had the distinct Canterlot accent that was so typical for the snobbish elite of the city.

Vinyl on the other hand let her head hang a bit lower. She was aware of the looks again. In Manehatten ponies would glance at her and then ignore her. There she was just one of many colorful characters and didn’t stick out like a sore hoof. Here in Canterlot ponies stared a lot longer at her. Clearly marking her as an outsider and slightly weary of her appearance.

“Yeah….groovy.” Vinyl ignored the looks and followed the energized trot her friend had taken up.

Octavia had never felt quite at home in Manehatten. Being back had made her realize just how much she missed the elegant city. She eagerly looked around at all the familiar buildings and streets on their way to their apartment.

They could have taken a carriage, but Octavia felt the need to be on the streets of her home town again. Her heavy case and saddlebags seemed to weigh nothing and Vinyl struggled to keep up. The DJ had only packed her bits and the ticket for the concert. There was no need for her to bring her deck along and it was safely stored away at home in Manehatten.

As they entered their building, Vinyl found something she had missed here in Canterlot. The luxury of not trudging up stairs was something she really could get used to. She leaned against the doorframe of the elevator and patiently waited for it to arrive. With a “ping” the door slid open and Vinyl couldn’t resist to give the frame a friendly pat as if greeting an old friend.

It was a strange feeling that befell both of them as they stood in the elevator with mirrors on all sides. For Octavia it was a feeling of coming home. A comforting feeling to be in a place where everything was the way it should be.

For Vinyl it was a reminder of how things had been. She studied her reflection in the mirror beside her. The first time she had looked at it she had not been in the best of shapes. Almost starving and with no other options she had followed Octavia’s invitation into her home. Now she was back to her usual outward appearance. She owed Octavia a lot and she was going to repay her in full. The day in question less than twenty four hours away.

Octavia unlocked the front door and rushed inside. She gave the room one quick look all over and then practically jumped to the numerous reels of film lining the wall behind the large couch. Vinyl thought she could hear the cellist purr with delight at being reunited with her beloved movies.

The strange feeling remained in the DJ as she sauntered over to the large couch. In a way it did feel like coming home. She had spent a long time here just recovering from her ordeals and she had made a number of good memories here.

Octavia finished her thorough inspection of her movies to see if they needed taken care of. As the entire place was spotless she assumed correctly that her parents, most likely her mother, had hired a cleaning crew to get the place ready. She spied a folded up letter on the coffee table and decided to have a look at it as soon as she cleared away her cello.

She was in for a surprise as she opened the door to the room with all the musical equipment. Save for her stand the room was empty. It obviously meant that her parents had finally finished adding a room for all the equipment her father collected in their house. Octavia wasn’t too sure what to do with such a large empty room, but in time she might find some kind of use for it.

With the cello safely deposited in the music room she trotted over to the couch to see what the letter read. Vinyl inspected the rest of the apartment. Everything was pretty much the way she remembered it, even the fridge had been recently stocked with food. As she was feeling a bit peckish she decided to raid the fridge for anything quick and tasty.

Octavia meanwhile read the letter left for her by her mother. Chisella confirmed her suspicions about the missing musical instruments and left a few addresses where she could get in touch with them should anything come up. With nothing else left to do she decided to have a nice long bath with plenty of bubbles and relax. On the way to the bathroom she stopped by the kitchen to see Vinyl with her head in the fridge.

“My mother says hello.”

“Oh, cool.” Vinyl briefly retracted her head from within the cold depths to smile at the other mare. “Do you want something to eat?”

“No, thank you.” Octavia nodded towards the bathroom. “I intend to take a very long bath. Do you need to go in first?”

“Nah, I’m good.” Vinyl stuck her head back in the fridge.

As Octavia entered the bathroom she had a long forgotten memory flash in her mind. She remembered bursting through the door and finding an unconscious unicorn lying on the floor. It had given her nightmares for a while, but until now she had completely forgotten about it. The memory spooked her and she felt the need to trot back to the kitchen.

“Are you ok, Vinyl?” Octavia asked the unicorn still stuck in the fridge.

Vinyl gave her a puzzled look as she turned to look at her, half a carrot sticking out the side of her mouth. “Uh…yeah? Why?”

“Nothing…just making sure.” Octavia smiled and left a very confused unicorn alone with her carrot.

As she let the water run into the bathtub and adding a generous dose of bubble-mix another memory surfaced. This time of Vinyl assaulting her with cake in the kitchen. Octavia chuckled at the chaos they had caused and the amount of time they had invested to clean it all back up again. Somehow it seemed as if they had been more carefree back then. Octavia had been so focused on her career that small things had to be put on hold. Pranking had taken a step back in their activities and Octavia laughed out loud at the memory of waking up with yoghurt cups on her hooves.

There would surely be time for all of that again once the pressure from the looming concert was over and done with. With that thought she eagerly dove into the large bathtub.




______________________________________________________________________



Three hours the bath had lasted.

As Octavia left the bathroom she truly felt at home after that long ritual. It was already dark outside so she switched on the light in the hallway. The absence of any other light puzzled her. She took a quick look into Vinyl’s bedroom to see if the mare had fallen asleep.

The bed was neatly made but void of any unicorn. Octavia checked the kitchen and the living room for her friend. She finally found Vinyl sitting in the dining room looking out of the large window. The unicorn noticed Octavia approach and turned her head.

“Oh, good you are out.” Vinyl trotted past her with a certain urgency. “Be right back.”

Octavia chuckled and sat on the spot Vinyl had vacated. The view was as spectacular as always, even though she had seen it countless times before. The city was so calm and peaceful, thousands of lights shining in the darkness that was falling over the land.

The last time she had seen the view from up here had been with Vinyl during Hearth’s Warming Eve. It had been the night she had extended her hoof in friendship, something that Vinyl gladly took. Octavia smiled at the memory and what it had led to. She had found a friend that evening. A friend that did so many things for her she realized.

Perhaps it was the fact that she was at home that her mind began to wander down unfamiliar avenues. She was aware of the fact that Vinyl had done a lot for her. The unicorn had made her life substantially easier and was always there for her. Octavia had taken the care she was given more or less for granted after a while. Her career was too often on the forefront of her mind. She hadn’t even thanked Vinyl properly for everything she had done and kept doing. She felt guilty about that, but it was something that she could always rectify. In fact she decided to do just that as soon as Vinyl returned from the bathroom.

Vinyl took her time in the bathroom. Octavia strained her ears to hear any kind of noise coming from within. Very faintly she picked up the unmistakable sound of a shower. A devilish grin spread on her lips as she toyed with the idea of turning on the hot water in the kitchen. Then she remembered that it only worked in the Manehatten apartment. It was too bad as a little prank would have been nice.

Octavia spent the time alone to watch the lights in the city flicker on and off here and there. Ponies going about their business at home or at work. She caught glimpse of a few pegasi rearranging clouds above the city. She knew why they were doing that, as it happened every year. It was a conscious effort to block out the moonlight and make the city as dark as possible for this one special night.

She heard Vinyl trot back towards her and mentally tried to find the right words with which to thank Vinyl.

“What’s up?” Vinyl’s spirits were high again after the refreshing shower.

“Vinyl?” Octavia turned to face her friend and gently smiled. “I have to tell you….” She caught glimpse of the clock hanging on the wall. “…that we are going to be late!”

Octavia rushed passed Vinyl and grabbed her saddlebags from where she had dropped them earlier.

“Uh…what? Late for what?” Vinyl watched Octavia hastily put on her bags.

“The dance!” Octavia had totally forgotten the time and she desperately wanted Vinyl to see what it was all about.

“The firefly thing?” Vinyl quickly copied Octavia’s actions and put on her own saddlebags. “Should we bring something to wear or so?”

“A blanket!” Octavia answered after a moment of thought.

“A…blanket? What kind of a dance is that supposed to be?”

Octavia just smiled. “You will see.”




___________________________________________________________________




“Why is it so dark here?” Vinyl asked as they entered Canterlot’s largest park.

“Taking the sunglasses off might help.” Octavia suggested and led the way further inside.

“I already put them up on my head.” Vinyl glanced up to the sky. “You can’t even see the moon and they want to have a dance here tonight?”

“You’ll see.” Octavia led the way off the regular path.

“Shouldn’t we be going with the others ponies?” Vinyl glanced over her shoulder at the numerous other ponies flocking around in the park in almost total darkness.

“I know a much better spot.” Octavia hoped she wasn’t promising too much. They were running late and the best spots might already have been taken.

Octavia grinned as she found her favorite spot empty. On top of a small hill a large oak had claimed the best view of the park for itself. Perhaps ponies thought there wasn’t any comfy place for them among the vast number of roots from the tree. Her parents had found the perfect spot a long time ago. Between two large roots there was a patch of ground void of any roots, a perfect location to see the spectacle soon to unfold.

Vinyl tripped over a root and charged up a small light spell in her horn.

“No lights!” Octavia quickly commanded. Vinyl obeyed and snuffed out the light on the tip of her horn instantly.

“What’s with all the secrecy?” Vinyl asked and tried her best to help Octavia lay out the blanket they had brought along. “Do you mind maybe giving me a little bit of information? I don’t like being kept in the dark….while in the dark.”

“It is a very old event created by Princess Celestia herself.” Octavia smoothed out the soft blanket with a hoof and decided it was time to give Vinyl a little bit of information. “It has something to do with her sister. Princess….something.”

Octavia had never been much of a history buff when it was not about anything music related. She was relatively sure to have learned about it in school, but for the moment it escaped her.

“There must be a plaque or something of the kind closer to the center that tells the story behind the dance.” Octavia sat down on the blanket and looked over the park below. “We can come here in daylight and find out tomorrow if you like.”

“Yeah, might be interesting.” Vinyl sat down beside the cellist.

There wasn’t all that much space between the large roots of the tree and keeping a certain level of distance was impossible. So they sat side by side, their flanks touching. It was nice and cozy in a way.

“Do you come here every year?” Vinyl asked and watched the shadowy figures wander about in the park below. A single light in the middle of the park barely managed to illuminate more than just a few meters around it.

“I haven’t been here in ages.” Octavia confessed, struggling to remember when exactly she had been here last. “I think the last time I was here was with my parents. I remember standing on my father’s back to get a better view.”

“So…you were here last year?” Vinyl joked, a bit of nervousness in her voice at being so close to Octavia in the dark.

“Hardly.” Octavia smiled unseen by the unicorn. “I think I may have been five or six at the time.”

Vinyl merely grunted in response. For a while neither mare said anything and just let the scene play out in front of them. A pony dressed up in an old-timey uniform could be seen standing beside the lone light in the park. From this distance it was impossible to tell if it was a mare or a stallion.

Although they couldn’t be seen, there must have been a lot of ponies in the park hidden in the shadows. The conversations blended together into a low rumbling sound that reached the musicians up on the small hill. A spike of laughter sometimes echoed above the noise. It had a rather relaxing effect on the two mares and unconsciously they leaned just a bit closer to each other.

Slowly the light dimmed even more until it shut off completely. Instantly all the voices became silent and the entire park seemed to be void of any life. Vinyl was totally confused by what was happening and looked over to Octavia. If she strained she could barely make out the cellist just beside her.

“It’s beginning, look!” Octavia whispered.

A lone tiny light suddenly blinked into existence. A second later it seemed to switch off again. Vinyl held her breath and watched closely at what was happening.

At a different location a light lit up and drifted about for a moment. A second one rose up from the ground and followed the first light. Soon more little lights rose up and gently floated around the park below. Vinyl suddenly realized what she was seeing.

“They’re fireflies!” Vinyl whispered with joy. “But why now? It isn’t the right time of year for them, is it?”

“That’s because of the Princess.” Octavia explained not taking her eyes of the growing number of lights below. “I think she had cast some kind of spell for them to do that every year.”

“That’s all that happens?” Vinyl asked with amazement.

“Remember the light in the middle of the park?” Octavia didn’t wait for a reply. “It is actually a crystal and the fireflies will circle around it and sort of charge it up. When it is full with energy a beam will shoot up and dispel the clouds above. The entire park is then bathed in moonlight and the fireflies go back to sleep.”

“That’s awesome.” Vinyl had a hard time keeping track of all the little lights slowly dancing through the pitch black park. A few quiet hushed Ooooh’s and Aaaaah’s could be heard from the crowd hidden in darkness.

Dozens of little lights slowly began to change their flight path. They began circling the light in the middle of the park. More and more rose up from the ground, the bushes and the trees joining the rest of their fellows circling through the air. Like hundreds of little stars drifting through the night sky in total silence.

Vinyl couldn’t take her eyes off this spectacle even for an instant. She jumped a little as Octavia quietly spoke up.

“I’m glad you threw up on my cello.” Octavia had decided to talk to Vinyl about a few things and to break the ice with a little half-joke.

“I can do it again if you insist.” Vinyl joked back in a whisper.

“That will not be necessary.” Octavia nudged Vinyl’s shoulder with her own. “But if it had not been for that action we might have never met.”

Octavia sensed that she now had Vinyl’s complete attention.

“I know that I have not been a very easy pony to be around in the last couple of months.” Vinyl took a breath to possibly object, but Octavia didn’t give her the chance. “Please let me say what I need to say.”

“I have taken what you did for me without ever thanking you for it. I know you have done a lot for me over the last few months and even here in Canterlot before we moved to Manehatten. You may have sacrificed some things in order to help me.”

It was good that they couldn’t see each other’s faces, as Vinyl’s expression clearly read as ‘You have no idea’.

“I just want to say ‘Thank you’ from the bottom of my heart. I promise I will find some way to make it up to you.”

“You don’t have to do that.” Vinyl replied after a couple of moments in silence. “I gladly did everything for you, because you are dear to me. You are….special….uh…shoo.”

A firefly had decided to interrupt the little discussion by landing on the tip of Vinyl’s nose. It flared up its light and bathed the unicorns face in a soft glow. Vinyl tried to blow it gently away after verbal requests had been ignored.

She had the distinct feeling that the little creature was offended by her efforts to remove it from its newly found resting place. It turned around and held its tiny head up high, if an insect had the ability to huff it most certain would have. With fluttering wings it took off and very slowly hovered in front of Vinyl’s face.

Vinyl had momentarily forgotten the discussion with Octavia, too fascinated by the insect in front of her. As a means of making peace with the insect she held out her hoof. The firefly circled around her outstretched hoof once and then decided that it was suitable as an alternative resting place for the time being.

The unicorn watched the little creature on her hoof with wide eyed wonder. It had left its light shining for the moment. She let out a foalish little giggle and wasn’t aware that Octavia’s look had not moved from her even for a second.

Dear to me….special….

Octavia watched the little light reflect in Vinyl’s crimson eyes. It was a moment of complete serenity and slowly the world around her faded into nothing as she repeated the words Vinyl had said in her head again and again.

The park faded away for the cellist. Slowly everything went away until it was just Vinyl and Octavia in a sea of nothing. Those ruby red eyes were suddenly now as fascinating as they had been the very first time she had ever seen them. One of a kind in a million, very much like the pony whom they belonged to.

“Why did I never see this dance before? Why didn’t I even know about it?” Vinyl asked with awe at being here so close to nature.

“Sometimes it is the things right in front of us that we cannot see.” Octavia remembered very well that Lyra had said something very similar to her not that long ago. Now she understood what she had been trying to say.

Octavia inched a tiny bit closer. Nothing was clouding her mind this time. No music, no cities, no ponies, no concerts, nothing. In fact her mind wasn’t the thing controlling her body at the moment.

“Vinyl?” The whispered request by Octavia snapped Vinyl out of her hypnotic inspection of the bug.

She turned her head to face Octavia, her eyes going wide at how close the cellist was to her. Octavia saw the surprise in her eyes and as the initial shock settled she saw something else. Nervousness certainly, but also a longing look that she had never noticed before.

The firefly maybe sensed that it wasn’t the focus of anypony’s attention anymore and took off to join its brethren in the swirling mass of lights below. The mares were back in almost total darkness, it didn’t matter to Octavia. She closed her eyes, there was no need to see anything anymore. She only needed to feel.

She inched closer and felt the quick breath from Vinyl on her nose. They were now only mere millimeters apart, Vinyl not daring to move and Octavia drawing nearer.

A first almost accidental contact, the faintest brushing of lips against another pair. An alien feeling for the cellist, but one that felt right.

A second contact, more direct with the slightest bit of force to really feel the other being at her side. Octavia had admittedly no experience in this kind of behavior, but instinct seemed to do its part and guided her further.

A third contact, coupled this time with her lips gently moving. It was almost electric and every single hair on her body was on edge. A feeling swelled up inside of her, one that had been missing in her life until now.

It exploded in a wave of joy coursing through her body as she felt Vinyl finally return the kiss.