• 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 5

“Thank you for your performance. We’ll be in touch.”

Octavia had heard that phrase so many times in the last few months that she had lost count. It was nothing more than the polite way of telling her she wasn’t needed and could go home.

The first few times she had stayed and patiently waited for somepony to come back to her and inform her she had been chosen. A dozen times later she realized what it really meant. She didn’t bother hanging around the small conservatorium any longer, unlike some of the other hopeful musicians still waiting to perform.

She was greeted with a surprising sight once she left the building. A thin layer of snow had covered Canterlot and it glistened in the light of the street lights. She didn’t care much for the temperature, but snow was something she always had liked to watch, preferably from the comfort of her cozy home.

The entire ordeal of the audition had taken up most of her day and it was almost evening already. Unwilling to walk back home she waved down a passing taxi carriage. With practiced moves she hefted the heavy case inside and took a seat.

“Where to?” the stallion replied, his voice muffled by a scarf he wore covering his muzzle. Octavia told him the address. “Do you mind if we take a detour through downtown? They have blocked off a couple of roads leading to your place and I don’t really like to stand still for too long in this weather. It’ll probably be even faster than waiting to get through.”

Octavia saw no reason to object. She could understand the stallions desire to keep moving as not to freeze. It wasn’t a job that she envied him for, but then again at least he had a job.

Every single audition she had taken part in had been a failure. She knew it in her heart that it could not be because of her talent. She had heard some of the other cellists play and they were nowhere near her level. Then what was it? She did not demand more money than others, she didn’t demand ridiculous special treatment. She always was polite and friendly, even after they told her she wouldn’t be needed. What was she doing wrong?

Octavia watched the white city pass by while mulling it over again and again.


They were in a part of the city that could be called unsavory. Downtown Canterlot was still reasonably safe for a pony to be in, but it still gave her an uneasy feeling. The stallion pulling the carriage seemingly felt the same as he slightly sped up his pace. Then in the corner of her eye Octavia spotted a familiar figure.

It was Vinyl Scratch, the mare she had shared a hot chocolate with earlier that day and had a pleasant conversation with, in her mind at least. It struck her as odd to see her in this part of the city. Even stranger was the mare’s body language. Her head was bent down low, ears folded back and Octavia thought she could see her sway around with unsteady steps. Perhaps she was drunk like the time in the contest. Still, something about her didn’t seem right to Octavia.

“Stop the carriage please.” She told the driver, who complied and gave her a questioning look.

“Why? This isn’t the best of neighborhoods, Miss. It’s best if we keep moving.”

“I just saw somepony I know. I have to ask if everything is alright.”

“I’d feel better if you didn’t leave the carriage. Perhaps you were mistaken?” The stallion asked hoping to soon get moving again.

“Can you stay here for a few minutes?” she asked, but saw the look on his face. “I have a very valuable cello here. I’ll leave it in your care as assurance that I will return.”

That seemed to do the trick and the stallion nodded.

“If you don’t mind, I’ll move along the road a bit to keep warm. If there is trouble just yell and I’ll come running.” He informed and waited for Octavia to step out of the carriage. She seemed like a nice pony and he would hate to see anything happen to her.

“I’ll be fine, thank you.” She didn’t wait for a reply and turned to where she had seen Vinyl Scratch.

The sidewalk was empty and nopony was to be seen along the entire road. Perhaps the unicorn lived around here and was just heading home? Octavia felt the need to make sure and crossed the road. A fresh set of hoofprints could be seen. Luckily the snow had stopped falling for the moment, otherwise the tracks may have been covered quickly.

Octavia followed them for a few meters. The only sounds echoing down the road were her own hoofsteps and the noises from the carriage moving along the road further down. She paused as the set of tracks led into a dark alleyway.

Something still felt strange and she decided to investigate further. Drawing a deep breath she moved along the alleyway, carefully trying to keep her steps as quiet as possible. She heard a muffled groan from further down and stopped in mid-movement. When she was sure that nothing would leap out at her she continued along.

The tracks were barely visible, but of what she could see of them was enough to tell her that they led to a large cardboard box leaning against a wall. Very carefully she walked up to the box and peeked around the edge.

Inside was a blanket and underneath a pony shaped object. The inhabitant stirred and groaned once more. It was a feminine voice and Octavia had a suspicion just who was lying underneath.

“Excuse me?”

Octavia’s softly spoken enquiry had unexpected results. Vinyl Scratch bolted upright in surprise, in the process her horn pierced the top of the cardboard box. Octavia herself jumped back at the sudden movement.

Vinyl tugged her horn out from the cardboard and moaned.

“Oh great, now it’s going to snow inside.” She turned to the cause of her sudden scare. “O…Octavia? What are you doing here?”

The cellist collected herself from her own shock and stepped closer.

“I saw you walking on the sidewalk and wanted to see if everything is ok.” She glanced inside the cardboard box and saw a few empty wrappers. “What are you doing here?”

“I…uhm…” Vinyl wasn’t prepared for any nosy ponies, so she came up on the spot with a hopefully decent excuse. “I forgot my keys and bits in my place. Locked myself out of my own home, would you believe it? Hehe.”

“Isn’t there a manager you can ask?” Octavia asked and seemed more confused than suspicious. Vinyl hoped she would buy her story and leave.

“He isn’t there today, just my luck.” Vinyl rubbed the back of her head with a hoof. “So I’ll just sleep here this evening and get back inside tomorrow morning when he is back.”

“What? No!” Octavia stepped a bit closer to the unicorn and put a hoof on her shoulder. “You can’t stay here! It’s cold and all you have is a thin blanket and some beaten up cardboard box as a shelter.”

“Ain’t so bad. At least it has a skylight now.” Vinyl cast a glance over to her current home.

“This isn’t a joking matter!” Octavia most certainly did not see any humor in this. The tone of her voice was very serious, but softened when she continued. “Listen, I have a guest room back at my place. Why don’t you come with me?”

“Why would you do that?” Vinyl’s suspicions were back. She had heard of ponies being lured into homes under false promises and had bad things happens to them. Not that Octavia seemed the type to do such a thing, but better safe than sorry.

“Because I cannot in good conscience leave somepony I know to freeze to death in their sleep!” Octavia softly nudged Vinyl with her hoof on the shoulder, as if to shake some sense into the unicorn. “Please?”

“Ok.” Vinyl didn’t really have much of a choice in the matter. She had a feeling that Octavia was the type to not give up until she had convinced the unicorn to come along. By giving in to her offer she saved them both some time.

Besides, the idea of being able to sleep in a warm bed was too good to simply let pass by. Vinyl had not been feeling to well since that afternoon and a good night’s sleep would most certainly help her feel better.

Octavia gave her a relieved smile and turned towards the road beyond the alleyway. She paused to make sure that Vinyl followed her before going on.

Luck was on their side as the carriage was just about to pass them. The stallion skidded to a halt and seemed relieved that his passenger was ok. The presence of the other mare surprised him, but he didn’t comment on it. He was just happy to get to his destination and away from this part of town.

Vinyl purposefully sat pressed against the side of the carriage to give Octavia her space. She most certainly did not want to invade her personal space. No doubt her smell would be doing that for her anyway. To her surprise Octavia scooted a bit closer and untied her scarf, which she then hoofed over to Vinyl.

“You’re cold. Take it.”

Vinyl didn’t have to be asked twice and quickly wrapped the fabric around her neck. She almost leaned further towards Octavia in hopes to leech some of her body heat. As she had no idea how the mare might react and not willing to risk being kicked back out she stayed where she was.


The ride to Octavia’s home was spent in silence.

Vinyl had conflicting emotions all the way there. On one side she couldn’t feel that Octavia might after all be playing some kind of cruel joke on her. Maybe lure her to her home and show off her luxury only to kick Vinyl back on to the streets with a cruel laugh. On the other side Vinyl was disgusted that she thought so little of a mare who seemed to just be concerned for her wellbeing.

Had she become so distrustful of others that she couldn’t even see if they were genuinely nice to her? She shoved the thoughts aside as the carriage pulled to a stop.

Vinyl corrected her assessment of Octavia’s wealth upwards on her scale. This wasn’t some medium nice little house. This was one of the most expensive apartment blocks in all of Canterlot.

It wasn’t a mansion like the ones in the noblest of noble quarters, but it came rather close. Vinyl guessed that it made sense for a pony who lived alone to rather have an apartment than a huge house. A thought just occurred to her that she didn’t even know if Octavia was alone. For all she knew up until this point, she might be married or have a coltfriend.

That was most certainly going to be answered sooner than later. Vinyl followed Octavia, after she had paid the driver, towards the five story building.

The doors opened by themselves as they approached them. Octavia greeted what Vinyl assumed to be the night porter sitting behind the desk. The lanky stallion just stared at the unicorn with a frown. Vinyl decided not to say or do anything and just kept walking behind Octavia.

Thankfully they would not have to use the stairs as the building had an elevator. With a soft “Ding” the doors slid open and Vinyl followed Octavia inside. She cringed at the fact that there were mirrors on the walls.

Vinyl hadn’t seen her reflection for quite some time and it came as a shock to her to see what she looked like. Her mane was a complete mess, more than usual at least. Her formerly white coat was nearly beige with dirt. The biggest shock was to see just how much weight she must have lost. Her bones were clearly visible underneath her coat. She closed her eyes to not see her reflection any longer. Deep down she suddenly knew that she had to desperately try and turn her life around otherwise it wouldn’t last much longer.

Another soft “Ding” signaled the arrival on their floor. Vinyl cast a quick glance to the number of the floor they were on. Floor five, the top of the building. No doubt it must cost a small fortune to live so high up here.

Octavia trotted up to a door to the right, room 501, and unlocked it with a key she took from her cello case. She opened it and walked inside, flipping a light switch and holding the door open for Vinyl to enter.

“Excuse the mess.” Octavia apologized and closed the door after Vinyl had come in.

Vinyl had misjudged the cellist once again. She had thought her home would be full of antiques and family portraits hanging on every wall. A clichéd home straight out of a fairytale book.

Instead it was surprisingly modern. A black L-shaped couch dominated the living room just beyond the small entrance area. A white coffee table in front of it. The carpet in the room was a deep blue and the walls painted white. Where Vinyl would have assumed to see a fireplace there was a large projector screen. On the opposite wall she saw the projector standing on a small sideboard.

The only thing coming close to a family portrait or antiques were several smaller stone statues, most of them ponies heads, that were dotted around the room. Large windows took up one of the walls. One door on each side of the projector screen and another door led to another hallway on the side where the actual projector was.

Octavia hadn’t been kidding about the mess. A small stack of plates was piling up on the coffee table, next to them a large number of empty juice boxes were slowly taking over every last bit of space on the table. A large pile of magazines sat on one end of the couch. It wasn’t dirty, just rather untidy and something Vinyl had not seen coming from a mare who by definition should freak out at the slightest bit of mess. Or so she had thought up until now.

Acutely aware of just how dirty she was, Vinyl tried to make as little contact with the floor as possible and followed Octavia further into her home by tip-hoofing along.

“I’ll give you a proper tour later. Perhaps you would like to have a bath or a shower to warm up first?” Octavia asked and led Vinyl past the massive couch towards the hallway beyond. It was a polite way of telling her to get cleaned up, Vinyl thought and had to agree. The idea of hot water really appealed to her right then and there.

As they walked along the hallway Vinyl cast a look at the open doors they passed. To her right was the kitchen, again looking rather modern and state of the art. The kitchen sink had another fair share of various dishes piling up inside.

To Vinyl’s left was the bathroom. All white tiles with a few black highlights. The huge bathtub seemed to call out to her as they passed the room. Next to the bathroom was a laundry room. What caught Vinyl’s eye was the mountain of white collars and pink bowties piling up to the side of one of the hampers.

Octavia stopped in front of the last door on the right and put down the cello she still had been carrying.

“This is my room.” Octavia informed the other mare. “And this is the guest room.”

Octavia opened the door opposite hers and let Vinyl have a quick look inside. Her first impulse was to dive into the large two-pony bed and bury herself under the covers. It looked more than just inviting, but the sirens call of the bathtub overrode her first impulse.

“I have some lasagna left over from yesterday. It’s enough for two if you feel hungry.” Octavia offered and led Vinyl back towards the bathroom.

“Sounds great.” Vinyl gave the other mare a thankful smile.

“Great. I’ll warm it up while you warm up in here. You’ll find towels in the cupboard to your right when you enter.” Octavia left her standing there and trotted towards into the kitchen.


Vinyl didn’t waste any time. She closed the door behind her just in case and found the towels where they were supposed to be. She used her magic to levitate it out, so as to not touch anything with her dirty hooves.

A debate raged inside her head if she should take a bath or just have a shower. She would have loved to just lay in a hot bath, but in her current state it would most likely turn into a mudbath. So she opted for a shower instead. The use of her magic had left her a bit lightheaded and she shook it to clear her mind. That just made it worse.

A shower will make me feel better.

A delighted groan left her mouth as the first streams of hot water hit her face. She hoped Octavia had not heard it. This was even better than the hot chocolate and Vinyl closed her eyes to just blissfully enjoy the filth wash away from her face.

She bent her head down to let the water wash over her neck and back. The sight of the brown water rushing down the drain nearly made her retch. Strangely enough she still felt cold and turned up the dial for more hot water.

A couple of bottles of shampoo and soap stood on the edge of the bathtub. Vinyl didn’t bother reading them and just grabbed the first one with her magic. A wave of dizziness washed over her.

“No more magic for now.” she said quietly to herself.

Feverishly she began scrubbing the dirt and grime from her body. She didn’t stop until the water running off her down the drain was clear. The feeling of being clean was the best feeling she had had in a long time.

Vinyl shut off the water once she felt that all dirt had been purged from her being. She began shivering, but assumed that it was just because of the hot water missing. Then the dizziness came back even though she had not used any magic.

Something is wrong.

Her vision narrowed suddenly as the dizziness intensified, the edges of her vision slowly turning black. Her breathing became heavy as she managed to climb halfway out of the bathtub.

Something is really wrong. Help.

“Help.” Vinyl had wanted to shout her need for aid, but just managed to croak it out at normal level.

The world suddenly tilted sideways, the last thing she saw was the white tiles rushing up to meet her. Thankfully she had lost consciousness before hitting the floor.


Octavia perked her ears up.

For a moment she had thought that her guest had said something. She had taken the time that Vinyl was in the shower to get rid of the pile of dishes in the sink and put them into the dishwasher underneath. She had then portioned the rest of the lasagna into two even helpings and waited for the unicorn to finish in the bathroom, before heating them up in the oven.

A wet thud reached her ears and Octavia was suddenly worried. She left the kitchen and politely knocked on the bathroom door.

“Miss Scratch, are you ok?” she asked and strained to hear anything going on inside.

“Miss Scratch?” Octavia knocked with more force and waited for any sign that her guest was ok. “Vinyl?”

A feeling in her stomach told her that something was wrong. The fact that only silence emanated from the bathroom solidified her fears. Without waiting for another moment, Octavia tried opening the door. It was locked to her dismay.

She spun around and gave the door one powerful kick with her hind leg. Years of lugging a large heavy cello had given her more strength than ponies might have assumed she had in her small frame. The flimsy lock gave way instantly and the door slammed open into the wall.

Octavia felt her heart beating in her throat when she saw the unmoving form of the unicorn lying in a puddle of water.