• Published 15th Nov 2013
  • 5,143 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 4

I really don’t like the cold.

Vinyl’s thoughts in the last few hours seemed to drift back to that simple statement about Canterlot’s weather. There were plenty other topics that she needed to think about, yet somehow the current temperature always popped up to the front of her mind.

She shifted her sitting position around a bit. The grate underneath her would no doubt leave a checkerboard type marking on her flanks, but the warm air wafting up from underneath was worth a few stares later on.

Not that she didn’t receive enough stares before. Especially the staff inside the small café she was sitting in front of gave her plenty of mean looks. They could not do anything about her as she didn’t harass any ponies walking by or doing anything disruptive. Leeching hot air wasn’t a crime so they had to tolerate her being there. She would move to another location soon, but for now she was happy that her hooves slowly had some feeling return to them.

Where had it gone wrong?

That was another of Vinyl’s reoccurring thoughts, but one she actually had an answer for.

She should have left this city. She should have taken her winnings and gone to another place, preferably one a lot warmer than here. And she should have ignored anything to do with cellos.

But she couldn’t. She just had to try and make amends with a pony she didn’t even know for something she had done that she didn’t even remember.

Damn Conscience.

A fat load of luck that entire thing had brought her all those months ago. She had never heard from the cellist ever again or even seen her. Perhaps she had left this city once her cello was fixed. Only Vinyl was seemingly dumb enough to stay behind. All of her lofty plans had backfired so far.

She was going to revolutionize Canterlot’s music scene. Away from the stuffy boring classical stuff and into the modern genres. She had envisioned herself now having her own club and Sapphire Shores would be begging her to be able to perform there. Ponies from all walks in life would flock to her club and dance the night away. She would have hired Neon Lights to clean the restrooms, preferably only with his mane. Even Princess Celestia would come by every now and again and party along with her subjects.

The reality was a lot less glamorous.

Nopony wanted to hire her. There were plenty of clubs around that focused on solo performances, but again they only allowed the classical side to perform. The only ponies that liked the modern stuff were the students. That didn’t help Vinyl however as she wasn’t allowed to perform on university grounds after graduation. All the parties she had DJ’ed for as a student had been without payment and more for the sake of practicing her craft.

One of the first things she had tried to do was to set up her own club, catering to the younger crowd. The cost for the permits to open a business in Canterlot were astronomical. Even with all the prize money she would have barely managed to attain them all and that didn’t even include a building to house the club.

Vinyl had tried getting a smaller job to help her get some Money, in fields that weren’t her specialty. Washing Dishes, mopping floors, rearranging items on shelves, anything. All those job had been taken by a new batch of students and thus they all had turned her down.

She should have taken the few bits she had left by then and go someplace else. Stubborn as she was she decided to stay, thinking that along the road something would pop up. Perhaps it wasn’t stubbornness, but rather stupidity. Maybe even naivety for thinking that things might turn around.

In desperation Vinyl had even tried to apply for a job as an exotic dancer in a risqué club downtown. They laughed at her and had thrown her out. She couldn’t blame them. By that time she had spent three weeks on the streets and her appearance was less than appealing.

She had been thrown out of her home, after failing to pay the rent. The last bits she had were reserved for food and a flimsy blanket she bought for one bit to keep warm at night, or at least warmer than without.

Her last bit had been used five days ago to buy some hay, the last straw of which had been eaten by her yesterday. Her stomach had given up asking for food a while ago, she would have to sneak around the bakeries later at night to see if they were throwing out some more stale bread.

The wisest thing to do would be to contact somepony she knew and get them to help her out and away from here. But without money she had no possibility to even send a letter away. She was stuck here and didn’t know what to do.

Damn cold.

“Miss Scratch?”

Vinyl’s thoughts were abruptly halted by voice next to her. It had been a long time since anypony had even bothered talking to her let alone address her by name. Of course it would just have to be her.

Octavia Philharmonica was smiling politely at her. She was wearing pink boots, a set of pink earmuffs and had a pink scarf tied around her neck just below her pink bowtie. She obviously really liked pink. Another time at another place Vinyl would have called her outfit cute, possibly even adorable. At the moment all she could think about was how nice it would be to not have freezing ears and hooves.

A large black cello case was resting on her back. Of course she would have it with her, the one thing that had started this entire mess.

“Octavia.” Vinyl’s reply was reserved. She wasn’t sure of the intentions of the other mare. Had she seen her and decided to rub her success in her face?

“You remember me.” Octavia’s face lit up.

Are you kidding me?

“How are you?” the cellist enquired politely.

“Totally awesome.” Vinyl would not give her the satisfaction of knowing how things really were. “You have to excuse my looks, parties all the time kinda take their toll.”

“Mhm I bet.” Her smile did not falter. “I have actually tried looking for you.”

“Why?” Vinyl was surprised by that statement.

“Well I… do you mind if we get off the street to talk for a bit? Maybe have something to drink here in this café? Oh, I’m sorry are you waiting for somepony?” she asked and seemed nervous.

“Nah, I’m just enjoying the view.”

“Ah yes, the busy street this time of year is….lovely?” Octavia glanced over the street for a few seconds trying in vain to see some kind of aesthetic appeal. “I have a few minutes to spare, would you care to join me for a hot drink?”

Vinyl was in no position to turn down an offer for something warm in her stomach, so she agreed and followed the cellist inside. The dirty looks form the staff of the café intensified, but diminished somewhat after it was apparent that Vinyl was here with somepony who obviously was not a vagrant. They sat down in a booth with a window.

Vinyl plopped down on the seat and could have groaned in delight of being surrounded by warmth. That no doubt would have caused some questions, so she just smiled instead. Octavia meanwhile set down her large cello case to the side and slid off the first pair of boots from her front hooves. She kept on her scarf and hung the earmuffs around her neck.

“I don’t really like the cold.” She said and nosed open the menu in front of her.

Something we have in common.

A waitress soon arrived to take their order, she did not even glance at Vinyl one time.

“How about some hot chocolate?” Octavia asked to which Vinyl only nodded casually. She was afraid that her tongue would drop out and salivate all over the table at the prospect of having hot chocolate.

Better would be hot chocolate with…

“Two hot chocolates please, with marshmallows, whipped cream and chocolate shavings.” Octavia gave up the order seemingly reading Vinyl’s mind.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The waitress took the order and left the two mares alone. Octavia stared out the window in what seemed to be deep concentration. She was still trying to see the appeal of a busy street in winter.

“So you were looking for me?” Vinyl decided to break the beginning silence, the last thing she wanted was quiet. After being starved of any kind of interaction between ponies she would not let a chance like this slip away, even if it was with a pony whose intentions were still a mystery.

“Ah yes, do you remember the note you left me in Stallivari’s?” Octavia asked with a small smile.

Are you bucking kidding me?

“Yes, I do.” Vinyl’s spoken answer was a lot tamer than what her thoughts had been.

“Well I…” Octavia fiddled with her front hooves nervously. It was apparent that she wasn’t too comfortable with talking to others, something that Vinyl found strange. “I wanted to say thank you.”

“Uh…you’re welcome?”

“No, I… I didn’t think you would do something like that. I may have had the wrong impression about you. Not a lot of ponies would do that.” Octavia gave another nervous smile. She tried making eye contact with the other mare, something that wasn’t easy given the fact that Vinyl still was wearing her sunglasses. The last possession she actually still had.

“Water under the bridge and all that. It was my fault and I fixed it.” Vinyl waved the topic away with a hoof.

“Thank you again. I really mean it.” Octavia seemed sincere, much to Vinyl’s surprise. Her previous encounters with high class ponies had left a somewhat negative opinion in her mind.

The ordered drinks arrived before either of them could say another word. Once again the waitress made a show about not looking at the white unicorn and trotted back to another table.

Vinyl had to pour every ounce of willpower into not diving face first in to the hot drink. She took one careful sip and could have moaned with pleasure at the warm and sweet liquid caressing her taste buds. It was the single most glorious thing she had ever tasted and every fiber in her body demanded more.

A small slurping noise from the mare opposite her broke her near orgasmic experience. Octavia smiled sheepishly at her.

“It’s hot.”

Vinyl was unsure how to react. The small blush forming on the grey mare’s cheeks was unexpected to say the least. A sincere noble refined mare slurping a hot drink wasn’t something she had expected either. The refined part would also have to be reviewed considering that she had a bit of whipped cream on the tip of her nose.

“You got something on your nose.” Vinyl quietly said and stifled a giggle as Octavia’s blush intensified while she wiped the whipped cream away with a napkin.

“Thanks.” Octavia cleared her throat and tried to steer the conversation away from her nose. “So how is the music clubbing scene?”

Vinyl raised an eyebrow at the strange phrasing while taking another sip of her drink. It seemed as if Octavia wasn’t too well informed about Vinyl’s style of music, which was a good thing. It meant she could spin any tale she wanted.

“Busy, busy. Always going from one club to the next. A lot of out of town work lately, so I don’t really have a lot of time to myself.” Lies, all lies but Vinyl would be damned before admitting where she actually was. Even to a seemingly friendly pony like the one in front of her. “How’s your career coming along?”

“I am on the way to an audition right now actually.” Octavia smiled again. “It’s not much, just a part in the orchestra accompanying this year’s Hearth’s Warming Eve pageant.”

That struck Vinyl as very odd. She had heard Octavia play during the contest all those months ago. Even though it wasn’t her taste in music, she could easily see the skill and love that Octavia had for her art. By all right she should be playing in a large orchestra every week and not have to audition for something as banal as a pageant.

“Is that some kind of charity thing? I mean a pony with your skill should be in the Royal Orchestra by now.” Vinyl watched as the other mare’s ears folded back and began again nervously fiddling with her hooves.

“No, I don’t play in the orchestra. I…I actually am still trying to get an audition with them.” Octavia suddenly seemed sad.

“Audition? Hay, I heard you play. I bet you can outplay any other cellist ever. Why don’t you just go up to them and say you want a part?”

“It doesn’t work like that I’m afraid.” Octavia did not explain any further and Vinyl sensed that it wasn’t a topic she should follow anymore.

“I bet that after you wow them with the pageant performance, they’ll come knocking on your door.” It seemed strange that Vinyl would have to give Octavia a pep-talk. She shifted the conversation towards common ground, namely the time in university.


They had finished their hot chocolates and were talking about the questionable quality of the food offered in the university’s canteen when a stallion approached their table.

“I have to ask you kindly to leave.” He informed them and like the waitress before did not give Vinyl a single glance.

“What? Why?” Octavia seemed confused. Perhaps the table was reserved she thought.

“Your….companion is driving away our customers.” He informed her.

“Excuse me?” Octavia’s expression shifted from confusion to Canterlot typical outrage. “We are paying customers, you have no right to expel us from here!”

“Seeing that I am the owner of this café, I indeed have the right to kindly ask you to leave.” The last bit was a very thinly veiled threat of calling the guards if they did not comply. “Other potential customers are driven away by…her. So please, pay and leave without a fuss.”

Octavia was about to start arguing with the owner, when Vinyl cut her off.

“It’s ok. He is right, I do look like a mess right now. Let’s get out of here.” She watched as Octavia continued to glare at the totally unimpressed stallion. With a huff she turned away and took out a few bits from a compartment in her cello case and slammed them on the table.

At least the question of how Vinyl would ask her to pay for her drink had been answered. She watched as the cellist angrily put on her boots and shouldered the heavy case on her back. Vinyl followed her out the door.

“The nerve of that pony.” Octavia’s cheeks were flushed again, but this time not from embarrassment. “This café has most certainly lost a customer today.”

She huffed once more and glared at the staff inside, who ignored her look.

“Forget about it. It’s not worth working yourself up over it.” Vinyl gave the cellist a friendly smile and watched as she let go of her anger. “Thanks for the drink.”

“You’re welcome.” Octavia smiled again and carefully positioned her earmuffs back on her ears. “I have to get going anyway, otherwise I’ll be late for my audition.”

“I bet they’ll give you the part as soon as you walk in the door.” Vinyl encouraged the mare and resisted giving her a pat on the back. She still wasn’t sure about what to think of Octavia. She seemed nice, but so had Neon Lights at the time. And she fully remembered how that had turned out.

“Well, it was nice meeting you.” Octavia smiled again and it seemed genuine. “Take care, Vinyl Scratch.”

“You too.” Vinyl waved her a goodbye and watched her leave. Soon the cellist was out of her view, obscured by ponies walking by on the sidewalk.

The cold started to nip at her again as the effects of the warm café and hot drink were wearing off. Time she started looking for another grate with hot air blowing up to keep herself from freezing solid. Vinyl slowly trotted in the opposite direction that the cellist had taken.

Vinyl groaned a few minutes later as she saw one of the first snowflakes slowly drift down from the sky.

I really don’t like this weather.