• Published 14th Jul 2015
  • 1,219 Views, 49 Comments

7DSJ: Shake It Off - Shinzakura

Seven Days in Sunny June, Book I sidestory. In the wake of the Vibe incident in Canterlot, Vinyl Scratch and Cloud Kicker start a new life in Detroit. Is the Motor City ready?

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February 11: Scarborough RT

- Moonstarr

Taking a sip from her peppermint white chocolate mocha, Clover enjoyed the late morning of a workday. There wasn’t much paperwork to do, and other than a phone conference that was on the schedule, her calendar was clear for the day. Part of her wanted to play hooky, but that wasn’t exactly the most responsible thing to do.

“Ah, but sometimes the most responsible things to do just aren’t fun,” she voiced to no one in particular.

Things changed a split-second later as the door to her office was thrown open and a woman who looked beautiful and got everything she ever wanted in life thundered over the threshold. “We need to talk!” the woman barked, as if issuing a command to be ignored at Clover’s peril.

Behind the woman, Clover’s harried secretary bustled in, the look on her face nearly distraught. “I’m sorry, Headmistress, but I told her you were on an important call and she insisted on seeing you anyway!”

“There’s nothing more important than my requirements,” the woman hissed, the words guttural and odd, given that they were issued from an otherwise normally-mellifluous voice.

Clover looked up from her desk, her countenance heavily indicating that this was a normal, or at least expected, occurrence. “Oh, good morning, Chairwoman Pink. It’s a surprise to see you here. I thought you were filming in Chicago this week?”

“Goddamn director said I’m too old to play older sister roles,” the woman muttered under her breath. She then looked at Clover with deep gray eyes, framed by long pink hair. “I won’t mince words, Headmistress – I came to see what you plan to do about those ruffians that you brought into my school!”

Clover leaned back slightly in her chair to give her more of an appearance of Don’t you tell me what to do in my office, though she suspected the woman before her was too stupid to get that. “Well, I’m presuming you’re referring to Ms. Vinyl Scratch and Ms. Cloud Kicker, am I correct?” she asked. “As I understand it, they’ve settled in quite nicely. Both seem to have found their niches in class, and our music teacher finds Ms. Scratch’s musical talents to be, as I recall, ‘the most gifted I’ve ever seen.’”

Pastel ignored the comments, just as she usually did with practically anything Clover said. “Yes, that’s exactly who I mean!” she snarled. “Those two – they’re the scourge of the school! My dearest daughter and her friends have been nearly beaten within an inch of their lives by those two ruffians and their flunkies!”

“My, my, my – that is quite the accusation, Chairwoman,” Clover snarked, leaning forward on her desk. “For starters, they must be criminal masterminds, given that neither girl has even been at the school a month yet. Furthermore, hasn’t your daughter been out for the past couple of weeks, thus making it difficult for her to be threatened by those two?”

“Well, I suppose I misspoke there. Either way, Windsong and Stagecraft wer—”

“We have documented evidence – a video, taken by another student – that Ms. Windsong attempted to start a fight with Ms. Scratch, one that the latter, quite admirably, defused in a creative manner. I can provide you with a copy, if you wish.”

“Who’d they bribe to do it? Or did they sleep with a boy to provide faked evidence?” And then a malicious sneer came onto Pastel’s face as she added, “Or a girl? I’ve heard rumors about those two.”

“Whatever their personal business is, is exactly that: their business, Chairwoman, and so long as it doesn’t impact or discredit the school, it deserves to remain that way.” Clover had to restrain herself from launching out of the chair and smacking the smug look off Pastel’s face. “And while I cannot speak for Ms. Kicker’s personal qualities, I’ve received a positive report regarding Ms. Scratch’s.”

The chairwoman giggled, hiding the motion by covering up her mouth with the back of her hand. It was a stupid motion just for effect, and if there was one thing Clover hated, it was pointless posturing. “Oh, come now, Headmistress – as if anyone’s going to believe the word of Deep Bass, ‘The Morning Voice of WZDF 101.5!’ The man is hardly any better than his daughter, and it clearly shows!”

Clover silently counted to ten to calm down before speaking lest she defenestrate the offender before her. “No, if anything, Chairwoman, I was referring to her former principal.” The woman reached over and pressed a button on her deskphone. “Chairwoman Pink, I have on line Ms. Celestia, Principal of Canterlot High School in California. Principal Celestia, I have in the room with me Chairwoman Pastel Pink, head of the school’s board of directors.”

“Hello, Chairwoman,” the voice on the other side of the phone said, “I was just reporting to Headmistress Clover about how much Ms. Scratch is missed here at Canterlot High. Though I will admit that her grades could have been better, I have never met a more talented musician. Our music teacher, Mrs. Torch Song, is an accomplished maestro and a former member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and she quite literally could not stop raving about Ms. Scratch’s musical talents.”

“Yes, Principal Celestia,” Pastel sniffed haughtily, “I’m quite aware of her, and I quote, ‘sick beats.’”

“Actually, I was referring to her classical guitar playing, which won her the Western Conference Musical Championships; or her piano playing, which was sterling enough that the local television station commissioned her for a musical piece for their morning news broadcast; or her singing, to which Mrs. Torch Song says is the finest young contralto voice she’s ever heard. I will admit that I know little to nothing about musical talent; it’s not my forte. But from a complete laywoman’s standpoint, if there was anything more that I could have done for her to prevent her move to Detroit, I assure you I would have. Such a prodigy of any standing is quite the feather in the cap of any school, and I will admit to be slightly jealous of my loss being your gain. But such is life, I suppose.”

“So you’re saying that there’s more to the jewel than all the rough I see around her? Forgive me for saying, madam, but you are merely the principal of a public high school. Your job mostly involves babysitting, not educating future minds.”

There was a pause on the other end, followed by, “I take umbrage at that, madam Chairwoman. And I’ve looked at your record – would you like to place your bachelor’s degree in business against my doctorate in education? Just because I prefer to not use my doctoral title does not mean that I’m a mere ‘babysitter’, as I see it. However, I am willing to disregard your statements regarding my occupation – but what I am not willing to overlook is your clear disdain for Vinyl Scratch. Problems or not, she is a talented young woman and you ignore her at your peril.”

“What, you think I should fear her?” Pastel asked, a touch of incredulity in her voice.

“No, actually, I don’t believe you are smart enough to,” Celestia told her. “But what I do believe is that if you nurture her talent, she will become the finest alumnus your school has ever had. But if you disregard her…all you do is prove every condemnation of the private school system that ever was.”

Hrmph. Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll leave you two to discuss whatever you wish about those two. But mark my words: Either Vinyl Scratch is put in her place, or the board will have to wonder if the headmistress is capable of performing her duties further.” With no further words, she stormed out of Clover’s office, slamming the door as she departed.

“Sorry about that – now you see what I put up with,” Clover apologized.

“No need to apologize; I know that type of parent, and I see it far too often – and with the recent events, it only became three-fold,” Celestia replied.

“So, now that you’ve mailed me the rest of your files on Vinyl Scratch, would you be able to get a hold of County High and have them send the files for Cloud Kicker?”

“I’ll do what I can. But please, take care of Vinyl. She’s a girl who’s been through a lot and while I feel she’s in a better place, the way your chairwoman carried herself indicated that Vinyl’s not out of the woods yet.”

“I’ll do what I can for her, Celestia, you have my word.”

“And then he kissed me and asked me to be his girl,” Satin sighed. “It was…heavenly. Absolutely perfect.”

“You lucky girl!” Nova cried in congratulatory tones. “Looks like you and Starfruit are all set up to double-date with Vi and Kicky sometime!”

Seated where she was, Countryside just sighed. “Does he have a cute friend that’s single, by any chance?” she asked.

The girls had just completed another day of planning for the Valentine’s Day event, and were now relaxing in their usual location at the True Brew. Once again, Cloud had full run of the shop, as Praline had taken Bon-Bon to her weekly counseling session. Business was jumping in the café, but the teen had more than a handle on things, still allowing her time to talk to her friends.

Currently behind the counter brewing up a double mocha for a customer at one of the tables, Cloud asked, “So, what’re your plans for the dance? Going together, or…?”

Satin blushed. “Of course he and I are going as a couple; a girl wants to be seen with her beau, you know.” A thought then crossed her mind and she added, “I’ve met a few of his friends that attend other schools – they might be interested in going out with you girls, if you’re interested.”

Countryside’s eyes brightened. “Really?”

“Do you know how much you just sounded like BB right now?” Nova laughed. “But seriously, Satin, it sounds like things are finally looking up for you!”

The ice-blue-haired girl grinned. “For us. I want us all to be happy, not just me. I’d like us all to have boyfriends we can rely on and love to our heart’s content. Uh, no offense, Kicky.”

Cloud smiled. “None taken. But here’s the big question: Who are you going to find to ask BB out?” Satin’s eyes suddenly widened in horror as the realization dawned on her, and while Countryside tried to give her friend a comforting pat on the shoulder, there was no true sense as such for the budding fashionista any longer.

Meanwhile, as the other girls were enjoying themselves at the True Brew, Vinyl was at her father’s radio station, looking over his portable rig. It was a lot bigger than she expected, and while she relished the idea of playing with a new toy, she had to admit he was right: his setup was a lot more complex than she’d seen before. Her friends in the DJ scene back in California, especially the veterans, had their own setups, and many of them could be extremely intricate. This one, however, blew them all away, by magnitudes. It was so complex, in fact, that part of her imagined that if she could add a motor and glass somewhere, maybe she could build a transforming car that turned into a DJ rig, but she laughed inwardly; this was real life, not some cartoon.

She stood there, admiring its sleek, technological beauty, until her eyes fell on something close to the bottom middle of the setup. And then she looked at her father with a gaze of utter betrayal: “Digital controller surfaces? I can’t believe this!” she cried. “This goes against everything you ever taught me!”

Bass laughed. “Vi, if you look at the rig, the DCSes are designed to enhance the sound, not replace them. Everything comes out of the main drives. You can do direct output, or move to the DCSes to speed juggle. And I know you use some digital equipment, so don’t play the purist game with me, young lady.”

“Sorry,” she said in a genuine tone. She then looked at the turntables themselves and was astonished. “Wow – Pioneer PLX-1000s?” She whistled in appreciation. “I mean, I had a pair of Stanton T-92s, but these…these are golden!” The sound in Vinyl’s voice was borderlining on worship.

“Hey, had to replace my Technics SL-1200s, now that they’re literally museum pieces,” Deep said, nostalgia clear in his own voice. “But times change, and you can’t just stay with the same tables, Vi.”

“Yeah, I know, Dad – before all this happened, I was looking into upgrading to Audio Technicas.” She placed a gentle hand on the deck’s surface, moving it gently to and fro. The smile on her face was wide. “This feels smooth as silk!” she said with obvious approval. “The play on this is just amazing.”

“Well, care to put it through its paces?” Deep asked, flicking on the power. “I’ve got a copy of Smooooove Movin’ by Unlimited Gold that I use for T&C.”

But Vinyl had her own ideas when it came to testing and calibration. “That’s okay, I brought my own.” She reached into the boxy case next to her, and pulled out two discs: It’s a Groovy Day by 70s group Afterschool Special, while on the other turntable she put down 260 Calories Per Bottle, the latest album from Ba55 C4nnon.

“70s sunshine pop and a current D&B group. Eclectic mix,” Deep said with approval.

Vinyl grinned. “You and I have different disciplines, Dad. When you’re not on the radio, you’re playing tunes meant to get people to dance with one another, as a DJ would. But I’m a full-out turntablist, using the decks both as remixer and instrument. It’s my job to read the crowd and burn them out on others’ beats and my own.”

“Yes, but with this party of yours, you’re going to have to use your style and mine,” Deep instructed. “So let me show you how to use the DCS units to add shifting and chopping to the analog feeds.” He stepped forward to the decks while Vinyl stepped back, watching a master at work. And she had to admit, while she was good and getting stronger every day, she still didn’t have her father’s skill. Back in Canterlot she’d been a proverbial big fish in a small pond when it came to that town’s deejaying scene, but here? She was small potatoes compared to him, the legend of Detroit.

As she watched and learned, she couldn’t help but feel incredibly proud of her father.

Meanwhile, miles away at the Twelve Oaks Mall, Starfruit was looking for the perfect shirt to wear to the dance. It was his only chance, in his opinion, to really prove himself worthy of the girl he wanted to call his own, and he was already riding disaster. One false step could cost him everything and make him the laughing stock of metro Detroit.

But that meant risking shopping here. Normally, he wouldn’t worry about it. But truth be told….

“Hey, Starfruit, that you?” he heard someone call to him. He winced, turning around to see who was calling for him – it had to be him; Starfruit was not a common name in the US – and saw someone from his school approaching, someone not in his social circle. “Hey, man, how’s it going?”

“Oh, h-hey, Royal Flush,” Starfruit asked, “wh-what brings you here?” Of all the people who had to run into him, it was Royal, a member of the “Top Brigade”, the school’s crème de la crème, and most definitely a person he wouldn’t associate with on a regular basis. That wasn’t to say that Royal was a bully or mean, but rather a natural fact of life: Royal was a rich kid, with his family heavy into real estate holdings, whereas Starfruit was attending D’Aguanno purely on an academic scholarship due to his perfect grades. In short, having the two of them together in the same location outside of scholastic activities was like the snake befriending the mouse that was supposed to be lunch – not exactly impossible, but well out of the realm of probability.

Royal smiled widely. “It’s been brought to our attention by school counselors that members of the Top Brigade aren’t doing enough to make other students feel welcome at the D. So a bunch of us got together and decided to help some of the students from lower-income backgrounds feel more at home at the school. I happened to get your name from the draw and, while I hadn’t expected to find you here, it’s lucky for both of us.”

“Oh, so you know about that,” Starfruit sighed. He wasn’t happy about admitting it, and outside of the school headmistress, he didn’t think anyone knew about his background. Sure, he didn’t exactly try to hide it or anything, but there was a reason that his grandmother drove him to and from school, and why he was glad that the D wore uniforms instead of everyday wear like public school. Sure, it wasn’t a perfect life, living with his mother, grandmother and two kid sisters in a small house in Romulus, but he was okay with it.

“Know about what? That you’re attending the school on an academic scholarship? Pfft – no shame in that, bro; if anything, that’s absolutely amazing!” Seeing the look in the other boy’s eyes, Royal nodded in understanding. “Look, yeah, I know what you’re thinking: ‘How come the Top’s looking at me? What’d I do to deserve this?’ Well, let me tell you: you didn’t do anything. If anything, it was a few in the Top that fucked up.” Royal shook his head and commented, “Personally, between you and me? Metalwork got exactly what that asshole deserved. Fucker thought because he’s old money that he could get away with a hidden camera in the girls’ bathroom. And maybe if this were any other school he could have. But Headmistress Clover just railed into him hard – he’s lucky he didn’t get expelled, though if you ask me, a week suspension is going to be justifiably humiliating.”

“I see,” Starfruit commented, then went back to looking at the racks.

“Hrm…getting clothes?” Royal asked.

No sense hiding it, Starfruit admitted to himself. “Yeah,” he told Royal, hoping the other boy wouldn’t notice the big sign that said CLEARANCE SALE. “Picking out an outfit for the Valentine’s Dance.”

Royal looked at the sign sure enough, and said, “Hey, are you sure you want to impress your girl in clothes that were trendy three years ago?” Starfruit sighed, expecting the insults to fly at any moment, but Royal smiled. “Hey, so you’re from the quote, unquote, ‘wrong side of the tracks’. No shame in that.”

“You’re kidding me,” Starfruit commented, now really wary – if a Top wasn’t going to make fun of him, then obviously it was his station in life that would be a target.

“No, seriously,” Royal said, proving him wrong. “Look, you probably won’t believe me, but…do you know why my family’s rich? Dad won the lottery when I was six, and then made a huge amount of really good investments. We used to live in this small town upstate called Little Lake, which…well, while it wasn’t Eight Mile, it was kinda like Romulus in the boonies. My Mom jokes that I had a pet bear as a kid because we weren’t well-off enough for dogs.” He gave a wistful sigh and added, “Don’t think of me as the kid from the family who owns the Joker’s Wild Casino down on Riverfront, because I guarantee you, I don’t think of myself that way. I was old enough to remember what it was like to shop in the clearance aisles, too. Hell, my sister, who attends Harvard, for crying out loud, prefers to shop at the local Barnyard Bargains instead of the high-end stores because she still remembers when we had to scrimp and save for everything.”

Starfruit looked into Royal’s eyes and knew it was true. “So then why…?”

Royal interrupted the other boy before he could speak. “Because not everyone in the Brigade is under Tequila Sunrise’s sway. Honestly, there’s a group of us that don’t even like the idea of an ‘elite club’. Most kids at the school don’t see it, but there’s a battle going on at the school. On one side you have the ‘new money’ folks like me or Codebase, whose parents sold their Silicon Valley company for millions; on the other side, there’s the ‘old money’, like Metalwork or Tequila herself. For the longest time, me, Code and my friends thought the Old Money had the advantage. But then the Earthquake happened.”


“Yeah – that new girl, Vinyl Scratch. She put Windsong in her place, and hard. Personally, that bitch has deserved her comeuppance since Seventh Grade, and for a new girl to just come in and not only tell her off but outsing her? Trust me, bro – there’s a war about to brew at the D and people are picking sides: the Six versus the Tequila’s Tops.”

“The Six? Tequila’s Tops? You’re losing me.” That much was certainly true: Starfruit really didn’t have any friends at D’Aguanno (most of them attended a high school in Romulus), so he focused almost entirely on his studies; in fact, up until he worked up the courage to ask Satin out, he hadn’t paid a single bit of attention to anything in the school other than his grades, just to keep his scholarship going. For example, he barely knew what the school colors were (brilliant-blue and sunlit-gold), the school mascot (the Sculptors) or that the school was named after the Italian benefactor who built the school in the mid-1800s. He certainly couldn’t tell you the unofficial roster of the thirty-odd students in the school who made up the Top Brigade, the name of the varsity football quarterback, or the number of guys who claimed to be Tequila Sunrise’s secret boyfriend. In many ways, asking Satin out was an awakening to a whole new world.

“The Six, formerly the Four – or to use Tequila’s insulting terms, the Shitty Six and the Fucked-up Four – are Vinyl Scratch and her friends, including your girl Satin. As for Tequila’s Tops, that’s the group that hangs with her the most: Windsong, Stagecraft, Connector, Golden Age, Wisteria, Polished Marble and Lightning Fast – but really it’s just Tequila and her bosom buddies, and the rest pretty much dance to that trio’s tune.”

Something then clicked in his mind the moment Royal mentioned Satin and her friends. “Okay, which one’s phone number do you want?”

Now it was Royal’s turn to blush. “You have to understand, Starfruit – I’m genuinely here to help regardless of what you say…though since you’re offering nicely, I’d like to get in touch with Cloud Kicker.”

“Cloud Kicker?” Starfruit asked.

“Yeah. God that girl is hot,” Royal admitted. “Plus, she’s got a good heart. I was there when Bossa Nova painted the wall with Rusher a couple of weeks back and there Cloud was, helping Bon-Bon up. She didn’t have to, since it was her first day at school, but she clearly felt she had to. That’s a goodhearted girl, and it made me just want to ask her out all the more.”

“Well, if I remember Satin correctly, Cloud and Vinyl live together. They don’t look alike, so I’m guessing they’re cousins. Kid across the street from me lives with his uncle and aunt, because her parents are stationed overseas somewhere in the Army. So maybe that’s the case.”

“Well, hey, if you can introduce me to her, I’d be forever in your debt. In fact, let’s make good on that now: let’s go see what looks good on you over at The Finest Cut.”

Starfruit’s eyes widened. “You’re kidding, right? No way in hell can I afford that!” Unlike the other stores in the mall, The Finest Cut was a tailor shop that specialized in custom men’s apparel. As a result, it was a place where many wealthy men got their clothing precision-fit and to have attire from the store was considered in and of itself a status symbol. The very idea of the store’s existence made Starfruit feel excessively small just walking past it on the way to where he was now, and he was, in secret, saving up for the day he’d be able to get a suit made by them for his graduation from D’Aguanno.

The look in Royal’s eyes, however, was kind. “It’s on me – seriously, I’ve got the tab. You’ve got to look your best for Satin, right? So let’s get you set up, because if you look good, then I look good and when you introduce me to Cloud Kicker, I’m all set. Trust me, it’ll be perfect.”

“Well, if you’re really sure,” Starfruit said, looking at the clearance rack, then letting go of the shirt he was sizing up – it really made him look sallow, now that he thought about it.

“Very sure. Besides, you’re going places in the world dude, just by your brains. Best that you look good doing it – and The Finest Cut’s suits are the best in all of Detroit. Trust me.”


“No, man, thank you.”

Stagecraft was bored, bored, bored. Bad enough that she tried to bring her boyfriend Connector today to try to find something matching for the Valentine’s Dance, but he didn’t seem to care about that. And now, as she was looking over dress designs at The Finest Cut, she just wanted to strangle him, because he didn’t seem to give a damn. Why the hell do I stay with him?

A second later, she remembered: Oh, that’s right, because he’s great in the sack. Well, if this is going to be a long-term thing, I really need to straighten him out. Holding up a his-and-hers set, she asked, “Nector, what do you think?”

Connector looked up from his tablet, he yawned. “Crafty, I am not wearing a coral pink shirt. I’ll look like an idiot.”

The smile became nigh vicious. “If you ever want me in bed again you will.”

Connector sighed. “Fine, just…don’t make me look like a pimp, okay? Because that will only make you look bad, too.”

Stagecraft was just about to say something when she saw both Royal and Starfruit walking in, both talking like old friends. “That can’t be good,” she whispered. “Looks like certain members of the Brigade are getting their own ideas again. Nector, honey, do you still have those wireless button cameras you were messing with?”

“Yeah, I have them on me, why?” In response, she gave him a sunny smile, but he knew that smile all too well; it was a sign that Stagecraft was in another of her sociopathic moods, and that meant that someone wasn’t going to walk away unscathed. Thankfully, he knew the victim at least this time around wouldn’t be him.

“Give them to me, hon. All of them,” she insisted as he grabbed his backpack. “Whatever Flush is up to with that piece of ghetto trash Starfruit, I’m going to make sure that it stops. Flush should know better than to associate with common rabble, and Starfruit can go be a bootlicker when he gets to college – not now.”

“Fine.” He reached into his knapsack, pulling out a plastic bag. “They’re designed to look like regular buttons unless activated from remote. They’re water resistant to fifty meters, shock resistant to two Gs, and will broadcast a signal for a radius of half a kilometer. I have the software on my laptop set to pick up their signal.” He looked at her with annoyance. “You know, I was going to use those for sousveillance, not to spy on people.”

“Don’t worry, sweetie – I’m going to spy on people, not you. And besides,” she said, as she got on tiptoes to whisper in his ear, “you know that letting me do whatever I want gets me hot, right?”

He reached into his backpack again, this time pulling out his laptop. “Fine, I’ll set up the software. Oh, and my parents aren’t going to be home tonight.”

“Good. Do you want me to wear the negligee or the ribbons? Think about that while I go talk to one of the tailors for a favor,” she told him. Connector already knew that favor was probably going to cost her a couple hundred in bribe money to the tailor, but again, as long as he wasn’t the victim, he really didn’t care.

Thirty minutes later and a timely $200 bribe to some woman who was probably an illegal, Stagecraft’s phone chirped. She looked over the text, and smiled – she had exactly what she needed.

“Good news?” Connector asked as they pulled into the driveway of his home. His parents were in Europe right now for something; he didn’t really care in particular.

“Yeah. It seems that fucking moron Flush bought Starfruit a whole wardrobe – why the fuck would that idiot do that? Worse, why would he waste much money on Starfruit? That fucker’s poor as shit, enough so that he doesn’t deserve to go to the D – it’s not like the school’s a charity case.” She grunted. “Eh, they’re probably fags fucking each other.”

Both got out of the car, and before Connector could say anything, Stagecraft was dialing on her phone. A quick call to Tequila, and Stagecraft went over everything she knew.

“I knew that asshat was too good to be true,” she heard Tequila say over the phone. “Okay, it’s time to let Royal know who the fuck is in charge here, and to put Starfruit back in his place.”

“Any suggestions?”

“Yeah, have Windy talk to that boyfriend of hers; Metalwork knows how to deal with Flush. And as for Starfruit? Those cameras will come in handy, I’m sure.”

“Fuck yeah,” Stagecraft agreed as both girls talked for a few minutes as Connector and Stagecraft entered the latter’s mansion. Finally, the phone call ended, and she looked at him. “So?”


She growled at him angrily. “You have one minute to take me up there and get all our clothes off before you get nothing tonight, understood?” As he picked her up, she thought, I feel like I have to do everything around here.

Cloud’s finger slithered down Vinyl’s back. “Oh, hon….”

Vinyl moved away. “Not tonight, okay? I’m reading.” Sure enough, Vinyl had a manual in her hand, with an additional stack of them on the bed.

“Wait – you’re turning me down?”

“Kicky, it’s not like there were days when we didn’t do anything the first time we were dating, right?” Without even looking up from the manuals, she added, “Hell, we’re lucky we usually get our periods the same week, or else there’d be two weeks nothing would be going on.”

Cloud, strangely enough, felt hurt. She wasn’t sure why, but Vinyl turning down sex made her feel unattractive somehow. “Vinyl, am I…?”

Vinyl looked up from her manual. “Hey, just because I don’t feel like it doesn’t mean I don’t have the greatest gal, okay?” She turned back to the documents and murmured, “Just means I have my focus elsewhere at the moment.”

Cloud decided to take action by lying on top of the manuals and batting her eyes at Vinyl. “But I feel unloved. Vinyl, please love me?”

The azure-haired girl rolled her eyes, set down the manual she was reading, then brought her lips to Cloud’s. The things I do for love, she mused.

The next day at school, Starfruit approached Cloud Kicker while she was looking in her locker. “Hey, Cloud, you got a sec?”

She peeked out of her locker for a second, flashing him a smile. “Sorry, I don’t play that game anymore, though you are cute,” she deadpanned. When he looked at her weirdly, she laughed. “Sorry, old joke; you wouldn’t get it. Anyway, what’s up?”

“Uh, there’s a guy that—”

Cloud’s eyes narrowed. “I thought you were dating Satin.”

“I am! This isn’t me, I promise! Anyway, there’s a guy that wants to meet you a—”

“Sorry, pass.” She went back to looking in her locker.

“Look, I’m not trying to hit on you, Cloud—”

“Kicky or Kicks, if you please. ‘Cloud’ reminds me of my mother,” Cloud replied, “and all my friends call me either Kicky or Kicks.”

Starfruit blinked; this was not at all how expected this to go. “Okay, Kicks, then. Seriously, though, I’ve been asked to, uh, ‘intermediary’ between you and another guy—”

“Okay,” the girl commented. “Answer’s still a no, though.”

“Why not? I have to tell him something.”

She held up her hand, with a thin band on it. “This is why.”

“What is it?”

She poked her head out of the locker. “It’s a promise ring. Think of it as an engagement ring for lesbians.”

“Wait, you’re a lesbian?” he asked, and Cloud nodded. “Ah, well, that explains that, sorry.”

“Actually, I’m bi, but I promised myself to Vinyl.”

“You’re dating Vinyl? I thought she was your cousin or something!”

“Nope; we’re promised to each other, just living at her dad’s place.” Cloud flashed him another sweet smile. “However, I do actually appreciate what you’re doing, though; it shows you care about people.” A thought crossed her face. “Just out of curiosity, who were you going to try to pair me up with?”

“Royal Flush. He asked about you the other day a—”

“Did you just say Royal Flush?” When Starfruit nodded, she grinned. “Did you know that Nova has been pining over him for ages?”

“Nova? Really? Did not know that,” Starfruit commented.

“You know, I think we could really come up with an idea here,” Cloud thought. “Tell ya what: meet me after school at the True Brew, and we’ll talk. I know the girls and I usually hang out there, but Nova won’t be there today. She has singing practice with Vi – she agreed to help Nova with her singing.”

“But I thought Vinyl was a guitarist.”

“Oh, Vi’s a girl of many talents,” Cloud commented, a lazy, contented smile on her face. “Trust me…she knows how to use her tongue.”

“Reallyreallyreallyreallyreally?” Bon-Bon asked. “I can’t believe you didn’t know what that meant, Fruity!”

“BB, do you even know what that means?” Countryside asked, trying not to laugh as Bon-Bon gave yet another nickname to someone related to their circle.

The look of confusion on Bon-Bon’s face could only be described as “cute”. “Uh, not really,” she said, blushing.

“Well, I cannot believe it took me the majority of the day to get what she meant,” Starfruit said, looking completely humiliated.

“Trust me, sweetie, you have to keep up when you’re talking to either Kicky or Vi,” Satin said, leaning against her boyfriend in support. “As for what that meant, I think we can explore later, right?” He blushed and she laughed.

“Wow, you just started dating just a couple of weeks ago and you’re already at that point?” Countryside snarked. “Never thought you’d be that fast.” Now it was Satin’s turn to blush even as Starfruit chuckled slightly.

“Look, I think we’re getting afield here,” Cloud said, stepping away from the counter as business had slowed down. “The point was that we were going to work it so that Royal and Nova get together, right?”

Starfruit nodded. “I told him about you and he took it in good stride; like me, he thought you and Vinyl were cousins or something.”

“Kissing cousins, maybe,” Cloud teased with a wink. “But seriously, what else?”

“I was just getting to that. Then I told him about this mystery girl that really liked him and wanted to get to know him at the Valentine’s dance. That caught his attention, so I’m betting he’s ready to roll.”

“Well then, hopefully it’ll work on the other end,” Countryside said, as she hit enter on the laptop in front of her. “Okay, email sent. I just hope that Vi gets a chance to read it while Nova is tied up, or else this isn’t going to work.”

“Wow, you’ve got some pipes on you,” Vinyl said in appreciation.

“Thanks,” Nova replied. At the moment, the pair was in the private studio that was built in the basement of Vinyl’s house. Her father occasionally did shows from there on the days he was sick, and he also used it to record some of the comedy skits that played on his radio show. Vinyl, for the moment, was using it as a training location for her friend, since the other option was at the music room at D’Aguanno, which could be sabotaged by Tequila and her fellow idiots.

“Have you ever considered that you’re singing the wrong style of music?” Vinyl asked. “Yeah, I know you’re into Sapphire Shores and Midnight Moondust, but…your voice reminds me a lot of Flora.”


“Brazilian singer, sings mostly jazz, but has been on a whole bunch of other works. Hold on, my Dad has one of her more recent albums here. C’mon over here and I’ll play one for you.” At the engineering console, Vinyl brought up some MP3 files while Nova came out of the sound booth and sat down next to Vinyl. “Here,” Vinyl said, passing her friend a pair of headphones. “This is “Light as a Feather”, from Terminal Island 1976, an album she recorded with Cannonball and Sweet Duke.”

Nova slipped on the headphones and listened, quickly soaking in the ambiance of the music. For the next several minutes, Vinyl watched her friend as she seemed to learn from the music. Finally, as the song stopped, the other girl nodded. “She kinda sounds like me…or rather, who I’d like to sound like. But I’m not a huge fan of jazz, Vi.”

Vinyl grinned. “I know. Which is why I said she plays in a lot of other genres. Let me queue up another song by hers: “Angels”, from her 1977 album Nothing is As it Ever Was. Nova slipped on the headphones again, and Vinyl hit the play button.

“Wow, is this 70s pop?” Nova asked while still listening to the music. As the song ended, Vinyl went to go hit the pause button before the next track sounded, but the verdant-haired girl shook her head, as if concentrating on the song. “Restart it, please.” Vinyl nodded, recuing the song, and then let it fly.

And then something amazing happened.

Perfectly timed, even though this was only the second time she’d heard it, Nova sang along to the song in perfect accompaniment. Nevermind that the song’s “lyrics” were actually just scat singing, the singer was able to keep up easily and in perfect timing with Flora’s own voice. Vinyl noted that the two singers were so alike it was almost as though Flora’s voice had been dubbed in twice, and only Nova’s occasionally unsure warble prevented them from being identical.

When the song was over, Vinyl’s mouth was agape. “That was fucking AWESOME!” she cried. “Damn, I could barely tell which one was you and which one was Flora. Seriously, Nova, that was amazing!”

“Y-you really think so?” the singer asked.

The answer to that was a resounding clap that was neither hers nor Vinyl’s. “Brava!” Deep said as he came downstairs. “Vinyl, I thought you might be doing some remixing, but I hadn’t expected to find Flora herself here! And now, I see that wasn’t the case.”

Nova looked very flustered all of a sudden. She knew that Vinyl’s father was Deep Bass, but the verdant-haired singer really hadn’t expected to meet him. “I…uh…hello, Mr. Bass!” she stammered, trying to figure out how not to both squee and hide under the floor at the same time.

Deep laughed. “Don’t worry, miss, I get that all the time. Besides, we all put our pants on the same way, right?” He then winked and added, “Well, except for me. I’m a celebrity, so they just magically appear on me in my case.” When Nova giggled, he said, “And now you’ve got it. But my daughter’s a very astute observer of talent, young lady, and you have it. Have you ever considered going into a career in music?”

“I…that is…well….” Nova sputtered, unsure of what to say next.

“All in due time, Nova,” Vinyl said with a grin. “Now, let’s practice a little more and see what we can do, okay?”

Finally, the day of the dance came. The school was festooned in shades of red, pink and white, and as a treat, the students were allowed to forego their uniforms for a change in favor of something that fit the school’s alternate dress code. As a result, most of the pupil dressed in a “dressy casual” style, both to catch the eyes of their respective intended while at the same time trying not to look like they tried too hard to impress anyone.

For Cloud, that simply meant a hoodie and her favorite pair of charcoal-colored jeans. Vinyl, always the showoff, however, wore her limited-edition Ba55 C4nnon “Musicus” jersey, complete with the band’s latest song playing from the built-in speaker. She also wore a pair of pristine white jeans and neon-purple sneakers to compliment the look.

“So, are you nervous about tonight?” Cloud asked her lover. Vinyl wasn’t usually the kind who got cold feet when it came to performing, but this evening was going to be a night unlike no other and the potential happiness of two couples rode on what she had planned.

“A little,” she admitted. “Satin and Starfruit have a good thing going, and I have a chance to get Royal and Nova together. This is going to be special for them and I can’t screw it up for either, y’know?”

“Hey, you won’t screw it up,” Cloud replied. “I know you too well, girl. You won’t screw it up, okay?”

“You sure?”

Cloud thought for a moment. “Well, if things go wrong, then you’ll need cheering up, right? And there’s nothing like cheering-up sex to make you smile.”

“Oh, really?” Vinyl said, both interested and skeptical at the same time.

The smile on Cloud’s face became serene. “Trust me, Padawan, I still know yet more tricks. Plus, it’s Valentine’s Day – I’ll use the really fun ones.”

“Hihihihihi!” Bon-Bon rushed up to them, carrying what had to be the largest batch of heart-shaped cookies known to mankind. She was wearing a blindingly pink blouse with a red skirt and a white shawl over it and, combined with her hair colors, gave the appearance of the world’s largest cupcake. “Want some cookies? Just made them!”

“How did you jus….” Vinyl then noticed the cart behind her, bearing eight Easy-Bake ovens all connected to a UPC unit that was in turn connected to what was likely the world’s longest retractable extension cord. “No, don’t answer that. I don’t want to know.”

“So what’ve you two got planned for the day? I thought I’d make these and spend the day baking stuff for the dance.”

“You mean you’re not going?” Cloud asked, shocked. “I thought you loved dancing!”

“I do!” Bon-Bon squealed, but then blushed and said, “The guy you guys fixed me up with? Pecan Roll? He really likes baking and, well….”

Vinyl gave her a thumbs-up. “Say no more, BB. Just…make sure you get out there so you can see the special performance that we’ve got planned for tonight, okay?”

“What is it?” she asked.

Vinyl winked. “It’s something that’s going to be really good,” she replied enigmatically.

“You nervous?” Vinyl asked Nova as both stood on the stage. The “stage” actually was a set of platforms, most of it taken up by Vinyl’s gear. But in an extension in the front, was a single microphone, as well as a stand for Vinyl’s acoustic guitar and a microphone for said guitar. And standing next to her, in a spectacular number, was Cloud, wearing a special little black dress that had been designed for her by Rarity as a farewell gift. It had been a way of the fashionista showing no hard feelings towards the teen. As for Vinyl herself, she was wearing an indigo button-up shirt and black slacks, easy enough to perform in but still looking stylish enough.

“Hey, I’m the one who looks good in anything,” Cloud replied.

“And out of it,” Vinyl said, blowing a kiss.

“Well, I see you two are calm about all this, but I’m not!” Nova replied. At the moment, she was wearing a beautiful strapless red satin gown, with an accompanying small cape. That had also been designed by Rarity, courtesy of the fashionista measuring the verdant-haired girl from one very awkward Skype call. With some assistance from Praline in the makeup department, the young woman looked like the perfect princess, a veritable figure of love for the evening. “About the only thing I’m sure of is this dress your friend made for me!”

“You’ll do fine, Nova,” Vinyl assured her. “And if you really want to win Royal’s heart, you gotta do this.” She patted her friend on the shoulder. “After tonight, you’re only going to have one problem.”

“What’s that?”

“Finding out what his favorite color is, and if you can get lingerie in that color,” was the azure-haired girl’s response, and Nova blushed furiously. Vinyl amended that with, “Okay, ladies, take your places, the dance is starting!”

As the crowds began to come in, Vinyl watched as the Baking Club made sure the refreshments were ready to go. Several students from the Drama Club manned the lighting fixtures, set on a predesigned setup that both Vinyl and Stagelight had agreed on. The Music Club had the speakers perfectly set, the school’s boxy, slightly industrial speakers being complemented by sleek performance monstrosities that Vinyl had brought from the house.

Stepping behind the rig, she started up the beats. Playing a relatively slow song to get the crowd warmed up, she switched in the R&B grooves of “You’ve Got My Heart Goin’ Beatin’” by Sapphire Shores with the samba funk sounds of Brazilian artist País Tropical. It was a lot of music that the kids on the dance floor had never heard before…and frankly, Vinyl wasn’t too exposed to it either. Surprisingly, even with her expansive tastes in music, it was her father’s music collection, already set in digital form on a drive set in the console, which allowed her to play the analog beats of Sapphire Shores, scratching it up with a second album, and then processing it all through the DCS unit that had País Tropical’s tunes on it. It was nothing like what Vinyl had done before, and in a short instance, she’d outperformed anything that she’d done back in Canterlot.

Maybe I should get a job at a dance club this summer, just to see what the local scene is like, Vinyl thought to herself. She quickly pushed it away as she then saw exactly what she wanted to see: Satin was dancing with Starfruit, who was dressed far sharper than he normally did. Over by the snacks, BB was dancing in place to the music and giving occasional glances, if not outright hints – or whatever passed as hints in BB’s mind – to Pecan Roll. Countryside was chatting with one of the guys from the Astronomy Club – Shooting Star, if Vinyl remembered the name correctly – and they were hitting it off. Not well enough to hit the dance floor, but the night was still young….

Vinyl then switched over to a new song mix, pairing up the disco beats of Red Hot Riot with the electronica sounds of Japanese artist Wataridori. Back when she’d lived with her mother, Vinyl had met Red Hot and found that she was everything as advertised, a girl with a set of pipes and a very glittery way of looking at the world. It had been Red Hot that had pointed out that one of her singles, “All My Lovin’ for You,” sounded like one half of a song when played right next to Wataridori’s own “Sun-Dappled Sakurajima”.

Finally, after the fourth song, as Vinyl was getting ready to fade in both Beat and Soul’s new single alongside a country-pop song from the 80s that paired well, she saw Royal walk in. He was wearing a white dinner jacket, along with a white tuxedo shirt and a magenta bowtie, accompanied by dark slacks and clearly expensive shoes. He carried a single rose with him, and just behind him…

Vinyl’s eyes narrowed. There she is. Tequila Sunrise and her crew walked in, and based on the looks on their faces, they were doing so reluctantly. Either to put in a show just to display how nothing at the school could happen without them, or in order to plan to trash the place, it didn’t matter. Tequila’s presence meant trouble, proven a split second later as Vinyl and Tequila locked eyes on one other. The musician could practically feel the waves of hatred coming from the girl.

Wow, ended up as her Public Enemy Number One, Vinyl thought, a slight smirk coming to her face that automatically pissed off the other girl, who stormed over to the refreshments table. Now I’m really hoping this screws things up for them.

Speaking to Cloud, who was dancing in place next to her, Vinyl said, “Finish out this song, and then cue both microphones, okay? It’s showtime.”

“Be careful, sweetie,” Cloud replied, kissing Vinyl briefly. “This is make or break for Nova.”

“Yeah, I know.” She turned to Nova, who had been sitting to the side, tapping out something on her phone. “You ready?”

“Ready as I’m never going to be,” she said with a grin, setting down her phone.

“Then let’s get going!” Vinyl replied, taking her girlfriend by the hand.

Cloud, at the decks, finished out the song, then did as instructed, switching to her microphone as she called out, “Is everyone having a good time?” There were cheers. “No, seriously, is everyone having a good time?” The cheers got louder and Cloud got into it. “Okay, for all you lovers out there, we’ve got a special treat for you! Vinyl Scratch and Nova are going to perform for all those who want to dance with their honeys. So give it up for them!” The applause grew as Vinyl took to the stage.

Vinyl sat down on the stool, grabbing her guitar and slipping the strap around her shoulder, getting comfortable with it. She then looked at the crowd around her, soaking in their interest, and then finally at Nova, who gave her a nervous glance. Vinyl hoped her visual reply was all that needed to be said: Girl, you got this.

Nodding, Nova turned to the microphone in front of her and said, “I’d love to sing a little song for all of those in the audience.” She looked right at Royal and gave him what she hoped was her best seductive smile. Royal, surprisingly, blushed a little and that gave her all the strength she needed.

Sensing her friend’s change in mood, Vinyl took that as a cue to start, and she did, her fingers expertly sliding across her guitar. She felt the play of the nylon strings, heard the sweet sound against the cedar and mahogany of the box as she played along, hoping for the vocals to commence soon.

She didn’t have to wait long as a beautiful voice lifted notes into the air:

“Beat, beat, beat, beat
Is the sound my heart makes – beat, beat
Sounds just like a sam-ba drum-mer
That’s makin’ my heart go astir
Just for you

“Beat, beat, beat, beat
Is the sound my heart makes – beat, beat
Sounds just like a sam-ba drum-mer
That’s makin’ my heart go astir”

With a confidence she didn’t know she had, Nova glided off the stage right over to the unsuspecting Royal, and putting her arms around herself, sang to the whole group, but in truth, serenaded just one single soul:

“Will you be true
When I offer myself to you?
Or is all just a dream
Hoping that you won’t split my heart at the seams?

“Beat, beat, beat, beat
Is the sound my heart makes – beat, beat
Sounds just like a sam-ba drum-mer
That’s makin’ my heart go astir
Just for you….”

As Vinyl went into the instrumental bridge of the song, Nova couldn’t help but wrap her arms around Royal. Instinctively, their lips met, brushed together, then fully connected, sending both into paradise. Due to her singing, the kiss had to end nearly as soon as it began, but as she parted, she knew she had his heart, and he had hers. She then stepped back and, giddy as could be, started with the third stanza of the song.

Standing by the entrance, Windsong, Stagecraft and Tequila Sunrise, along with their dates, watched in utter shock as Vinyl Scratch and Nova completely entranced the crowd before them, sure as any siren’s song. Finally, she kissed Royal briefly before returning to the stage, continuing her song.

“Buh….” Windsong blurted. “But…but how…how? She can’t sing for shit! And I know that song! That’s ‘Tim Tim Tim’ by Esquema Novo! Where the hell did she learn how to sing bossa nova?”

“Hell, where the fuck did she learn how to sing, period?” Stagecraft murmured. “She can outsing you now, Windy!” She suddenly realized that was the exact wrong thing to say and she winced as Windsong smacked her in the back of the head.

“Okay you two, knock it off!” Tequila seethed. As the two performers on stage wrapped up their song, the crowd began to cheer and clap wildly, calling for encores. Nova and Vinyl spoke briefly, then they bid the crowd to take their partners and dance as the musical duo then went into a slow, sultry rendition of Midnight Moondust’s “Moonlight Wish”. Somehow, they’d managed to turn a fast-paced song into a soft, lilting love song that brought crowds together in a way Tequila had never seen before.

The teen could practically hear her hold over the student body snapping in two. Without a word more, she stormed out, her date looking at her strangely then following, with the rest of her circle of friends following close behind her.

From their respective locations, the Six could see Tequila’s antics, but it didn’t matter. This night was for shining and love, and thanks to Nova and Vinyl, they managed to make a magical night all the more special.

Watching from a darkened corner of the gym, Clover smiled softly. It looks like Vinyl and company found a way to put Tequila in her place, she thought with not a small bit of pride towards her future stepdaughter. But the smile fell from her face as she knew that Tequila, as well as her mother, would retaliate against the school and its students, and soon. She would have to look for a way to stop the inevitable attack, because she was certain it would be ugly.

But for now, she would savor this moment.

Storming out of the gym, Tequila seethed – she’d never been so humiliated! Vinyl Scratch had just pushed Tequila’s buttons harder than anyone had ever done before, effectively declaring war. It was now between the Shitty Six and Tequila’s Tops, and the whisky-haired teen knew exactly how that was going to end.

You want to prove you can fly, Scratch? Tequila thought as she pulled her phone out of her purse. You’re about to learn the hard way what it’s like when you become Icarus.

Author's Note:

Flora (Purim) is a real singer. Her name just fit my conventional rules for names in the 7DSJverse/Berylverse, so I didn't have to change a thing. The song she's singing is "Angels", from her album Nothing is As it Ever Was. Nice 70s west coast jazzpop, if you ask me.

The song during the dance is based on Jorge Ben Jor's "Tim Tim Dom". The lyrics aren't a translation; you can go here for that.

Sorry this sat for a year. I had originally planned to release a different song in lieu of "Tim Tim Dom", and had asked someone with a knowledge of Portuguese to translate it. He never got back to me and unfortunately, I'd forgotten about it. During the rebuild, I was reminded and here we are. I promise the next chapter won't take as long. I want to finish this and Protection before 7DSJ ends.