• Published 1st May 2012
  • 2,366 Views, 143 Comments

Setting the Rules - fic Write Off

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A Dish Best Served Cold, or Not at All


Octavia rolled over and groaned. Pulling the blankets over her head, she tried to catch a few more seconds of sleep. However, the steady drumming of the new dishwasher refused to allow such a convenience.

No, she couldn’t just wait fifteen more minutes to practice her music, could she? Everyday... it’s the same.

Finally giving up, Octavia threw the blanket off herself and swung out of bed. She stood there for a second, yawning and rubbing her eyes. Catching sight of herself in the mirror, she considered taking the extra five minutes to comb her messy, black mane, but her rumbling stomach protested.

And I need to talk to Vinyl anyways.

As she slowly descended the stairs, she pondered what she might say to her friend. Using the dishwasher this early in the morning was one thing. It was normally ran fairly quietly. However, when Vinyl used her magic to bend the noise into dubtrot, nopony slept for much longer.

From the landing, she trotted down the hall, passing the small living room and entering the kitchen. Her friend stood on the other side of the center counter. “Vinyl, I’ve ask...” She blinked in surprise as she saw the other mare and stepped back. “... Are you wearing my wok on your head?”

Spinning around, Vinyl flashed her a grin. “Oh, that’s what it’s called? Well, it’s really cool. It creates this awesome reverb effect that I want to learn to bend.” She pushed it back. “Why? Do you need it?”

Octavia dragged her hoof down her face. “ I was going to make sauteed apples in it for breakfast. And do you really need to use the dishwasher to make your music this early in the morning?”

The wok lazily floated through the air as Vinyl shrugged. “My turntable is at the club and I don’t have any of my other equipment back from the studio.” She trotted to the fridge and opened it. “Mind frying up some apples for me too?”

“Eww... not now. Your horn left some magic residue from wearing it. I doubt that will be good for the apples.” Octavia stuck out her tongue and shoved the wok away in disgust.

Vinyl immediately levitated it back onto her head. “Well, in that case... let me try to create that sound effect one more time.

Rolling her eyes, Octavia went to a cupboard across the kitchen and got a box of oats, along with a bowl. As long as I’m already awake. She sat down at the counter and watched Vinyl from the other side with mild curiosity.

She screwed up her face in concentration. The soft swishing of water in the dishwasher turned into a deep thrum. It changed pitches several times as Vinyl worked to find the right one. Suddenly, the beat dropped, causing the room to vibrate.

Octavia jumped in surprise and grabbed her bowl to prevent it from falling off the counter. However, something behind her wasn’t so lucky. It fell to the floor, shattering with a sharp crack.

Ugh! I should have seen that coming, but it’ll never cease to startle me. And just like I said several days ago, something finally broke. She turned to see what had fallen and stopped. Her mouth fell open and she just stared in open shock.

“Woops, dropped the bass a little too hard. Heh.” Vinyl walked around to join Octavia. Her eyes scanned the room, looking for whatever had broken. When she found it she grimaced. “Oh... tough luck. That was your grandma’s heirloom vase wasn’t it?”

Vinyl’s words seemed to jerk Octavia out of her shock. “Y-yes! It was and... and you just destroyed it!” She spun around furiously, and shouted at Vinyl. “And you know what else? We’ve lived together for half a year now, yet you insist on living like there are no rules!” Turning away, she waved her forehoof around angrily. “You’re rude and inconsiderate! I thought we agreed to some rules when we first moved together... yet—”

Cutting her off, Vinyl said, “Whoa, chill out it’s in large three pieces and—”

“No, you know what? Forget it! I’m not in the mood to talk right now.” Stomping out of the room, Octavia headed back upstairs. Taking a right at the landing, she went into the bathroom and began filling up the tub.

Maybe a bath will help calm me. She sighed in pleasure as she sunk into the water, her frown slowly turning into a smile. Anyways, maybe a rational conversation later with Vinyl will clear things up.

Twenty minutes into her soak, the door opened. Vinyl walked in, and then quickly backed up. She lifted a hoof to cover her eyes. “Err... sorry. Didn’t know you were still in here. I’ll ask my question later.”

“Vinyl!” Octavia screamed. “Don’t you know how to knock?” She scrambled back in the water. “There are certain privacy protocols regarding the bathroom and I’d appreciate it if you followed them!”

The door closed, and the frown returned to Octavia’s face. As she listened to the fading hoofsteps of Vinyl, she began to think. That’s it! This is not the first time she’s walked in on me. Maybe I need to do something more than just talk to her.

An additional ten minutes later, she decided that she was no longer in the mood for a soak, she got out and wrapped a towel around her head. Fuming, she trotted to her bedroom, where she finished drying off. She grabbed a comb and ran it through her mane as she watched herself in the mirror.

As the tangles slowly came undone and she fell into the rhythm of everyday mane care, her let her gaze drift around the room via the mirror. She took pride in how neat her bedroom was kept. A bed in the corner, dresser on the opposite end, and a desk on the wall in between.

Sheets of music, both half-written and completed lay stacked neatly on the desk. The blanket on her bed was in a heap, but she could fix that later. Her dresser held her grooming products plus her bowtie, and that was all she needed.

Then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw Vinyl’s favorite record balanced on the edge of her mirror. In a single instant, an idea formed.

Perhaps a more visual example is in order. If only she could feel a bit of what I felt when she broke the vase. A grin slowly spread across her face and with a casual flick, she brushed the disk off. It landed on the floor, but nothing happened.

Frowning, Octavia’s stared at it. I guess that these would need to be sturdier than a vase. What now?

But, before she could come up with anything, the door slowly opened. “Tavia? Have you seen my Living Tombstone record? I think I left it in your room that day I showed it to you, but had to leave really quickly when I realized I was late for work.” Vinyl poked her head around the door, and looked around in concern. “I kinda need it later today.”

Octavia took a step forward and smiled. “Um... I may have. I think it...” Both their ears perked up as something splintered. Looking down, she gasped. “Oh... I’m so sorry! I didn’t see it there.”

Tears welled up in Vinyl’s eyes as she just stared. “N-no! That was special edition, two sides, three bonus songs!” Trotting over, she fell to her knees and floated the pieces in front of her, her face one of total shock. “This is... bad.”

Patting her friend’s back in solace, Octavia said, “Ouch... this is exactly how I felt when my grandma’s vase broke. It was probably as special to me as that record is to you.”

With no warning, Vinyl’s mood changed. “Nope! It’s okay. I know a pony who’ll fix it up good as new. No worries!” With that, she trotted out of the room, humming happily as the pieces of the shattered record floated after her.

Octavia stood there with her mouth half open, glaring at the retreating figure. Not so much as a twinge of lasting sadness? This is ridiculous! If that didn’t work... what will?

Sighing, she grabbed her bow and tied it on with practiced ease and trotted back downstairs. This time, she turned into the living room. On the other side, past the coffee table, the cream coloured couch, and in between a pair of bookshelves was a door. Beyond the door was her practice room. Well, technically not hers, but she was the only one that really used it for anything but storage.

Humming part of a solo, she trotted across the room. But she stopped in the doorway, her eye twitching. Inside, old dubstep equipment littered the floor. It essentially blocked her way to her cello.

She was about to shout for Vinyl when an idea hit her. Oh, if she wants to play dirty... I’ll just have to block the way to her storage room! Maybe she’ll finally get the hint and follow the rules.

Smiling deviously, Octavia made her way to the kitchen. Directly to the right of the entrance was another doorway. It led to a flight of stairs, which in turn, lead to the basement and Vinyl’s record storage.

I’ll just... “look” for something and “accidentally” leave everything out.

The basement was dark, what light there was was filtered through a dusty window well at the far end. Boxes of unpacked possessions lay stacked to either side of her. Spiderwebs and a thick layer of dust covered everything.

Octavia blew the dust away and brushed off cobwebs before ripping open the boxes. She pulled the contents out and lay them carefully around the room. She made sure to put them in the most inconvenient of locations.

Old Hearth Warming ornaments, picture frames, and assorted musical items soon littered the floor. Perfect! She’ll be furious and then I can “remind” her of the mess in my practice area.

As Octavia finished the thought, the clack of hooves on wood echoed around the basement.

And speak of the mare!

Vinyl trotted into view and then stood there for a second. Her gaze passed over the mess and came to rest on Octavia. “Wow, whatever you were looking for must of been buried deep. I hope you found it.” She trotted the rest of the way down the stairs and casually shoved aside the mess on her way to storage. “I’ll clean it for you later.”

Octavia closed her eyes and took deep, calming breaths. “No... I didn’t find what I was looking for.” Trying her best to keep her composure, she slowly walked up the stairs and into the kitchen. The second the door closed, she stomped her hoof and growled. “What does it take to get to that mare?”

Suddenly the door opened and some records floated out, followed by Vinyl’s voice. “You seem a tad frustrated by something. Perhaps you should do what I do and just play some music.” She trotted past Octavia and headed towards the door leading outside. “Anyways, I gotta run. Work, you know. Be back tonight sometime.”

Though, she’s probably right. I just need to calm down. Taking a deep breath, Octavia closed her eyes and slowly exhaled. Opening her eyes, she trotted towards her practice room. A rational conversation in a few hours will surely fix this mess.

She grinned, humming one of her favorite tunes as she walked across the living room. And then stopped. Immediately, the smile disappeared, replaced by a frown. Her eyes narrowed and she sniffed angrily. “Or not.”

The mess of old electronic music devices still littered the floor. Her cello was still in its case under several items. Looking at it now, everything looked like it was in more disrepair than it had been half an hour ago when she had first gone to play some music.

Octavia’s shoulders tensed and she clenched her teeth. “That... is... it! I’m paying her a little visit and we’re going to sort this out now!

Slamming the door, she forgot any composure she had and stomped through the house. Eventually, she found herself outside, halfway to the recording studio where Vinyl worked. In her anger, she hadn’t even noticed she was in downtown Manehattan.

Whoa! What are you doing? You’ve always been a calm, rational mare. Part of her mind protested the fit of fury.

Sitting down, she held her head in her hooves and gently rubbed. She could feel the headache forming. But Vinyl needs to learn her lesson and a level-headed, direct approach didn’t work when I tried it two days ago. The subtle hints failed miserably, and I’m out of ideas. A more aggressive stance seems like the only option now.

Again, a thought drifted from the corner of her mind. But it’ll get easier. Vinyl told you her story and about how excited she was to finally move away from home. Perhaps once the novelty of living alone wears off, she’ll calm down.

Sighing, she got up and began walking towards the recording studio and Vinyl Scratch. In the distance, there was the rumble of thunder, as if the weather were mirroring Octavia’s mood. “But if I don’t talk now, who knows how much longer I’ll have to wait for her to become mellow.”

Glancing up, her mood fell even more. Gray clouds, heavy with rain, hovered above the city. “And I’d better hurry if I don’t want to get caught in this storm.” Picking up her pace, she trotted down the street, taking a right several blocks later. The record shop came into view and she galloped inside, shutting the door a little harder than she meant.

The black pegasus at the counter jumped in fright as the bang echoed through the small storefront. A second later, he calmed down and turned around. “Octavia! Surprised to see you here.” He trotted around the counter, grinning. “What can I do for Vinyl’s friend?”

Furrowing her eyebrows, Octavia said, “I need to talk to Vinyl, if you could get her. That’d be much appreciated, Record.”

Record grimaced. “Ooo... no can do. She’s in the studio. It’s been nearly three months and she finally gets her chance to join other musicians in the world of recorded music.”

Octavia growled and poked Record in the chest. “Well, when she’s done, tell her she’s going to get an earful about responsibility later!”

“Irresponsibility? That doesn’t sound like Vinyl. She’s one of the most responsible mare’s I know.” Record raised an eyebrow in confusion.

Rolling her eyes, Octavia snorted. “Oh please, she’s been impersonal, leaving messes in my areas of the house. She wakes up early and plays her music loudly while I sleep. It’s as if she disregards every rule we agreed on when we first moved in together!”

Suddenly, Records eyes seemed to light up. “Hey! Maybe I can offer an explanation.” He went behind the counter and pulled a picture out from underneath. In it, Vinyl and him were posing half way through a record spin at a turntable. “You see, I’ve known her for years. Since foalhood in fact. And she’s never acted like what you described.”

Octavia raised an eyebrow skeptically, but was silenced by Record before she could voice an argument.

“Except when she gets really antsy.”

“So you’re just brushing it up to nerves? I find that hard to believe.” Octavia spun around and walked out of the door, leaving a sputtering Record behind.

The nerve! If he won’t let me talk to Vinyl... I’ll... I’ll... Her mind hit a brick wall, no ideas coming to the front. Maybe I’ll just have to deal with it. Maybe I’ll just go to bed an extra fifteen minutes earlier and... wait a second. That’s it! Her ears perked up and she slowly began to grin.

As she continued to walk, finalizing her plan, the clouds overhead broke, raining heavily. Lightning flashed brightly and thunder ripped apart the sound barrier, echoing in anypony’s ears that was outside.

However, Octavia ignored it all. Instead, she broke into laughter. “Ahaha! This’ll get to her! She won’t to be able to ignore my complaints any longer. Not after this!”

Octavia’s eyes shot open and she rolled out of bed quietly. Lighting a match, she touched it to a candle and under its glow, she looked around. 2:24, and all is quiet. Not a light on. She should be asleep.

Carefully sidestepping piles of her own stuff, she tiptoed to the cello in the corner. It had taken her two hours to clear the junk from the practice room. But the fruits of her labour were about to pay off.

Slowly setting up, she tried her best to make as little noise as possible. Hehe, don’t want to ruin this “revenge” too soon.

Finally, with everything in its place, she gently lay the bow across the strings. Taking a deep breath, she smiled. Pulling the bow, the deep tenor of the cello drifted into her ears. Sighing in pleasure, she continued the tune.

Up one note, down two, repeat. Slow draw, quick pace. It didn’t matter, she lost herself in the moment and just played. In fact, her attention was so focused on the music that she missed the noise of the door opening, only noticing she was not alone when Vinyl spoke.

“Tavi?” Vinyl stood in the doorway, looking sort of downtrodden. “Umm... that’s... well...” She stumbled over her words. “T-that’s some nice music you’re playing. It’d go well with—”

Throwing her hooves in the air Octavia glared at Vinyl. “Dear Celestia! Does nothing upset you? I’ve tried everything! Rational discussion, subtle hints! Nothing works...” She trailed off panting heavily at her outburst.

Vinyl took a step back, looking sadly at her friend as tears welled up. She lifted her glasses and wiped them away. “I-I’m sorry. Record told me and I—”

“No! This obviously isn’t going to work. I’ll start packing tomorrow and be out of your mane by Tuesday.” Octavia gently set down her cello and then stomped over to the bed. Getting into it, she pulled the sheets over her head and fumed.

Vinyl stood silently in the doorway for a few seconds before speaking again. “It... it’ll be a shame to see you go. These were the best three months of my life, if it makes you feel any better.”

The frown left Octavia’s face and her gaze softened, but she still just stared at the wall in front of her. Well, at least we’re getting somewhere other than just me trying to annoy her. But that doesn’t change anything!

“Oh, and... I got your grandmother’s vase fixed. A parting gift from me to you. I hope it at least makes you less angry at me.” Closing the door softly, Vinyl left the room.

Octavia listened to the sound of retreating hoofsteps for a second before turning over. On the nightstand next to her bed, the heirloom vase stood, good as new. When she picked it up, she couldn’t even see where it had been cracked ages ago.

Perhaps I was a little too harsh on her. Memories of the past three months flooded her mind. Listening to records with her. Looking up after a performance to see her clapping exuberantly. Sitting in the studio, watching Vinyl spin some records skillfully. Laughing at a tidbit of gossip over dinner.

Okay, since she wanted to talk, I guess I’ll give her another chance. Setting down the vase, Octavia got out of bed and trotted to the door. Opening it, she peeked out. Vinyl was nowhere to be seen, so she slowly walked down the hall to the stairs. As she went down the stairs, she peered into the living room. She could see Vinyl sitting motionless on the couch, just staring at a picture.


Looking up, Vinyl’s face immediately lit up. “Tavi!”

“I’m... sorry.”

Raising an eyebrow in confusion, Vinyl replied, “About what? It’s been me that’s been acting like a jerk lately.”

Octavia sighed and looked away in shame, her face falling. “Breaking your record on purpose, moving everything in the way of your practice room, playing the cello at two in the morning. All of it. It was selfish of me and I should have just talked to you again. I was just so caught up in trying to ‘teach you a lesson’ that—”

Vinyl stopped her by putting a hoof to her lips. “Hey, just let it lie. I’m a pretty easy going mare. I got the record fixed and I don’t mind a mess. As for playing this early in the morning? I was just getting home anyways.” She paused for a few seconds to collect her thoughts before continuing. “Look, when I moved in with you, I didn’t expect everything to work out perfectly. I promised myself that I’d take everything in stride.”

“It was the fact that I used to be so anal about everything being perfect that drove me and my family apart.” She looked directly into Octavia’s eyes. “And I don’t want to alienate myself from any more ponies.”

“But what about the way you’ve been acting lately?” Octavia blinked at Vinyl in confusion. “Even you have to admit it got a bit out of hoof.

Vinyl shrugged. “I’ve had a record deal in progress for nearly three months now. It made me very nervous that’d it fall apart. They don’t normally take this long. And, when I’m nervous... well, this is what happens. I kinda forget everything except the deal.”

Octavia glanced around nervously. “So, I should have listened to Record when he told me that?”

“Hey, it’s all okay now and I just finished with the recording. I promise to be a better roommate in the future.” Vinyl suddenly hugged Octavia. “Are we cool now?”

The sad smile that had been on her face widened and Octavia chuckled, returning the hug awkwardly. “Yeah, we’re ‘cool’.”

Vinyl pulled back, beaming. “That’s awesome! And if it helps anymore, we can redefine the rules if you want.”

“Sure, I guess we can do that, starting with waiting until everypony is awake before playing music.”

Grimacing, Vinyl said, “Doh, sure. I guess I’m the offender there, but I’ll do my best to respect that. And speaking of bed... I think there are still four or five hours of sleep to be had.”

Looking at the clock, Octavia’s eyes widened. “Less than! You’re right, we should really head to our rooms.” She broke off the hug and trotted back up to her rooms. “Night, I’ll see you in the morning.”

Vinyl followed after but took a left at the landing instead of a right. Just as she was about to enter her room, she spun around. “Oh, and I suppose this means you aren’t going to move out, right?”

“Heh, no. We worked out the problem, so there’s no need to anymore.” Octavia grinned and shook her head.

“I suppose that’s true. Though, we’ll have to pound out those rules in the morning.” Vinyl backed into her room and closed the door.

Octavia followed suit, gently closing the door behind her. She felt her eyes drooping as she climbed into bed and pulled the sheets over her head. Yawning, she smiled. Already, she could feel herself drifting off to sleep.

I’m glad that I finally got to discuss this with Vinyl. To think, where would I be if we hadn’t?