• Published 16th Aug 2012
  • 7,138 Views, 530 Comments

In an Instant - Ruirik



It only takes an instant to throw your world into chaos.

  • ...
6
 530
 7,138

Aftershocks

Were it possible, Octavia would have personally burned her prized cello if it meant she could have held Vinyl properly now. As it stood however, the pale unicorn couldn’t so much as lift her head from her injuries as well as the heavy cervical collar that secured her in place. The fur of Vinyl’s cheeks was matted from countless tears and her ruby eyes were puffy and swollen. Her scent was lost in an unpleasant potpourri of disinfectant, blood, and bandages with a tang of the salty residue that accumulated in the fur of her cheeks. Octavia was forced to settle for gingerly leaning over her marefriend to provide tender kisses and nuzzles, each offering small comfort to the lachrymose unicorn.

A gentle rapping on the door broke them out of their reverie, and as Octavia extracted herself from the awkward embrace, the door opened to an older unicorn stallion, his maroon fur and mane speckled with grey. Hovering before him aloft in his magical grasp was a manila file folder and a set of x-rays. His tired brown eyes took in the scene before him as he stepped into the room. He offered no empty platitudes, no insincere smiles as he took up a position at the foot of the bed.

“Ms. Octavia I presume?” He looked to the grey mare; seeing her affirmative nod, he continued. “I’m Dr. Wight, I’m handling Vinyl’s case until we can get her admitted.”

The aging unicorn casually walked past the bed to a light box affixed to the wall. His magic simultaneously attached three x-rays to the acrylic panel so Octavia could see them. Levitating a pen from the pocket of his white jacket, he shifted his position so he was facing the mares.

“Ms. Scratch, you definitely won’t feel like it for a while, but you are one of the luckiest mares alive.” He began, pointing to the first x-ray that showed Vinyl’s neck. “You have a couple of herniated discs in your neck and your spinal cord is definitely strained, but it seems to be fully intact.”

“Is that why she can’t move?” Octavia interjected, earning a mildly annoyed look from the doctor.

“Yes. The trauma from the impact has swollen her spinal chord. This swelling is what has caused the paralysis. However, since you still have some feeling in all four limbs, then with some aggressive treatment and time the swelling will go down, and with a little luck, you’ll be able to move around again.”

“S-so I’ll be up and walking again in a couple weeks?” Vinyl asked hopefully. Octavia started to smile, a smile that died as she noticed the Doctor’s stark expression.

“Vinyl…” he paused to mull over his words. Octavia scarcely noticed her own hoof begin reassuringly stroking Vinyl’s hair. “There is a good chance that in two or three months you will regain a good portion of your motor control. Beyond that, with physical therapy and the surgery we’ll need to do to repair those discs, then I would expect you will gain back sixty to seventy-five percent of your mobility. I’m sorry, but chances are that you will require the use of leg braces or a walker. We won’t know for certain for about a year.

“Why a year, what does that have to do with it?” Octavia snapped, her temper flared by her fear. Vinyl had slipped back to despondence, a fresh wave of tears welling in her eyes. Wight took the mild outburst in stride, decades of experience providing him with very thick skin.

“I’m sorry, but whatever functions do not recover in twelve months simply will not recover. There’s nothing anyone can do about it. Fortunately for you Vinyl, you’re a unicorn. Your magic should be just fine, though we’re going to ask that you refrain from using it for a few days until your concussion is fully healed.”

“So…so what do I do now?” Vinyl’s voice quavered as she asked.

“Until the swelling goes down, all we can do is wait and keep you comfortable. After that we’ll get you into an operating room and take care of those herniated discs, then if everything goes well you will be given a physical therapist who will get you moving again.” A flash of sympathy crossed Wight’s face. Octavia glanced at Vinyl, the crippled mare having gone silent. Her ruby eyes glistened with unshed tears, her anguished soul laid bare for all to see even as her face remained a mask of neutrality.

A delicate knock focused both Octavia and Wight’s attention to the door where Dr. Grace appeared with an apologetic smile.

“I’m very sorry to interrupt, but there’s an issue in room 14 that needs your attention Dr. Wight.”

“I see. If you’ll excuse me ladies, Dr. Grace should be able to handle any follow-up questions you might have.” He passed the files to the ochre mare as he slipped past her and out into the ER.

“Would you like me to bring your friends back for a short visit? They’ve been quite worried.” Grace offered. Octavia looked to Vinyl for her opinion, her heart sank at the despair that permeated Vinyl’s gaze.

“That would be fine, thank you.” Octavia decided, hoping that perhaps Lyra or Bon Bon could help her cheer Vinyl up slightly. Either way she could ask them to do a few favors for her; she had no plans to leave the hospital anytime soon.

Grace nodded as she disappeared out of the room returning a few minutes later with Lyra and Bon Bon in tow. Reluctantly, Octavia left the room allowing Bon Bon to have some time alone with Vinyl. Grace disappeared into a separate room to tend to other patients, leaving Lyra and Octavia to talk in the relative privacy of the hall. Lyra had brought both Vinyl and Octavia’s saddlebags with her from the restaurant, for which Octavia couldn’t thank her enough. Away from Vinyl, Octavia allowed herself a moment of weakness. With a heavy sigh she leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes. Lyra wrapped a foreleg around her shoulders and lightly hugged her.

“If there’s anything you need, Bonnie and I will be here for you every step of the way, Tavi.” Lyra said quietly. Octavia smiled slightly at the offer.

“Don’t suppose you have a time travel spell stowed away in that horn of yours?” Octavia asked with a smirk. Lyra giggled and offered a shrug.

“Sorry, fresh out of those.” Lyra grinned, Octavia chuckled lightly before her smile faded.

“I’m going to have to resign from the symphony tour…and cancel the quartets and students I had scheduled this month…and…and…V-Vinyl’s shows will be cancelled too. Oh gods Lyra…how are we going to pay for this? I-I don’t know what to do!” she lamented, putting her face in her hooves. Lyra’s heart broke for her friend. A musician’s livelihood depended on their ability to play. Vinyl’s career was effectively dead, possibly forever, which left the young couple with no real income other then what Octavia could earn. However, Octavia would never willingly leave Vinyl’s side, not while the unicorn was very literally helpless to do a thing for herself. Lyra held Octavia close, hooves gently rubbing the grey mares back.

“It’s gonna be alright Tavi. I’ll go talk with Maestro Allegro as soon as I can. He’s always been good to his musicians, I’m sure he’ll be able to think of something. “ Lyra’s voice quavered lightly. She could only hope she wasn’t filling Octavia’s head with false hope. The last thing the cellist needed was another rug pulled from underneath her hooves.

Octavia managed a nod, unable to find her voice, even when an empathetic nurse silently offered her a box of tissues. Lyra thanked the mare in Octavia’s stead as her friend wept quietly. The green unicorn held Octavia close until Bon Bon emerged from the room, her own eyes teary as she stepped into the hall. Lyra nodded to her lover and loosened her grip on Octavia, Bon Bon taking her place as Lyra quietly slipped into Vinyl’s room for a visit. She bit back a nervous sigh as the door clicked shut behind her. After taking a moment for her eyes to adjust to the room’s dim light, she approached the bed. Her heart skipped a beat and her chest tightened uncomfortably as she took in the sight of her crippled friend. Lyra hated hospitals, the chemically sterile smell, the hollow mechanical sounds often mixed with a cruel aria of equine suffering, the cold hard floors that made every hoof-fall sound like the approach of the reaper himself. Lyra shivered and berated herself for reading too many horror novels.

“Tavi?” Vinyl called out, an edge of fear in the back of her voice. Lyra quickly sat herself close enough for Vinyl to see her.

“No such luck Scratch. She’s just outside though, want me to bring her back in?”

“Lyra…I’m sorry…” Vinyl’s said tiredly “I ruined everything…again….”

Lyra smiled slightly as she shook her head. It never ceased to amaze her how a pony that exuded as much confidence as Vinyl could be so self-deprecating.

“Vinyl, listen to me: this wasn’t your fault. It was just bad luck, and you’re gonna pull through in the end, just like you always do.” Lyra’s pale green magic grasped a tissue that she used to dab the tears away from Vinyl’s eyes. “You’re gonna survive this. Tavi, Bonnie, and I will be there for you every step of the way and the next thing you know you’ll be walking down that aisle in a silken gown to get married to the love of your life, and this will just be a bad memory.” Vinyl managed a slight smile.

“As long as my magic works, then you’ll never get me in a dress.”

Lyra couldn’t help but laugh softly.

“I’ll take that bet, Scratch.”

Lyra noticed the distant look in Vinyl’s eyes, the look of a pony struggling to star awake on the precipice of utter exhaustion. With the most care she could manage, she hugged Vinyl before quietly slipping out of the room.

Octavia, having calmed somewhat gave Bon Bon her spare apartment key as well as a small list of items that she hoped neither Lyra nor Bon Bon would mind bringing to the hospital tomorrow morning. Neither did. Octavia insisted that the other mares not spend their whole evening sitting in a waiting room until Vinyl was admitted, and after they left, she returned to Vinyl’s side in time to give the exhausted mare a goodnight kiss.

Octavia made herself comfortable on one of the chairs provided in the room, eventually falling into a light sleep until a gentle nudging roused her. Several nurses as well as Dr. Grace wheeled Vinyl’s bed out of the cramped room with Octavia in tow. A short walk and elevator ride later; Vinyl was resting comfortably in a private room. Grace had kindly taken the time to see that a small second mattress had been set up as well so Octavia could sleep. For once, she was grateful that she didn’t dream.

The next day passed slowly for the grey mare. With the exception of the occasional whimper, Vinyl had remained asleep since the previous night. Octavia had worried over it initially, but the doctors had assured her that rest was the best possible thing for Vinyl’s body. Every hour, a nurse would come in to the room to record the sleeping mare’s vitals and check the thick gauze wrap around her forehead. Lyra and Bon Bon, true to their promise, had returned in the morning with Octavia’s cello, some books, toiletries, and a small selection of Vinyl’s music for the unicorn to peruse when she woke up. The two stayed with her for several hours before they left again, leaving Octavia to her lonely vigil.

Vinyl didn’t remember much. She remembered having lunch with Lyra, Bon Bon, and her beloved Tavi, she remembered excusing herself from the table for a reason that had seemed important at the time, and after that she remembered only snippets. She remembered feeling cold and wet in the rainy street, she remembered being terrified, and she remembered ponies talking to her. Every memory stood isolated, like scenes from a movie with gaping black holes between them. She remembered a bright room filled with strange ponies that poked and prodded at her and asked her questions, but she couldn’t remember what she said. The last things she remembered had been her talk with Octavia, her offer to call off their wedding, and Octavia’s vows. Then was the fuzzy memory of a doctor, Bon Bon, Lyra, and then sleep.

Her rest had been blissfully dreamless, her mind and body too tired to conjure any ethereal torment or escapism. She had been dimly aware of voices around her, though she couldn’t make out what they said. Then the pain started. It had been distant at first, light the mildest itch that she couldn’t quite scratch. From the darkness it methodically spread until her body felt like it was in flames. The mattress she was laying on felt like it was made of glass shards, the blanket covering her body sent pain shooting through her, and every touch, poke, and prod felt like utter torture. When Vinyl’s eyes finally snapped open to the blinding light of the waking world, she was surrounded by blurry ponies of all colors, all their eyes focused on her.

“Vinyl? Vinyl can you hear me?” an unfamiliar voice called to her. From further back, she heard a familiar feminine voice.

“What’s wrong with her? Will she be okay?”

“T-tavi?” Vinyl called, her voice raw from disuse “Tavi, where are you!” She tried to look around, but the collar around her neck kept her immobile. A familiar grey shape forced it’s way into her line of sight, getting close enough that even Vinyl’s poor vision was able to see the blur for the pony it was; her Octavia.

“I’m here Vinyl, I’m right here. It’s gonna be okay.” Octavia forced a smile as she petted the unicorn’s mane. Vinyl’s eyes squeezed shut again as she bit back another cry of pain. Octavia bit her lip and glanced across the bed to the doctor who was filling a syringe in his magical grasp.

“Vinyl, I’m Dr. Poultice, I’m going to give you some medicine to take the edge off your pain alright?” He explained calmly as he injected the fluid into her IV. His eyes drifted to the clock on the wall where he counted down silently. In less then a minute Vinyl’s face slackened at the slight reprieve.

“Where…” she coughed dryly “Where am I?” Her ruby eyes drifted sluggishly across the room.

“You’re in Manehatten General Hospital, room 216 to be specific.” The doctor answered. “You had us a little worried Vinyl, you’ve been sleeping for three days now.”

“Who stole my glasses?” Vinyl slurred as the morphine coursed through her system. Octavia couldn’t resist a giggle as she slipped a new pair of non-tinted glasses onto Vinyl’s nose, bringing the DJ’s world back into focus. Her ruby eyes blinked blearily as she got a good look at her room. The walls were painted beige with a floral wallpaper trim along the ceiling. The unicorn noticed her lover’s cello case propped against the wall, the polished black lacquer standing out rather starkly against the light walls.

To her right was Octavia, looking markedly more disheveled than Vinyl was used to seeing. Her unkempt mane and tired eyes led the DJ to guess she hadn’t left the room since Vinyl had been taken there. To her left was a middle-aged unicorn; his fur was a midnight blue while his mane was a royal purple, though striped with gray hairs. He wore the standard white physicians coat and had a stethoscope hanging around his neck.

“Your normal pair got destroyed Vinyl, I had Lyra get your spare set from home.” Octavia explained, her heart practically doing backflips to see Vinyl awake and talking again.

“Why does my body feel like it’s on fire?” Vinyl asked. Dr. Poultice closed his eyes and reached out with his magic, the ethereal light gently enveloping Vinyl for a moment before it faded.

“Believe it or not, this is good news. The swelling in your spine is starting to go down. Unfortunately that’s also why you’re in so much pain.” He paused to take a breath “What your experiencing is called neuropathic pain. You see, Vinyl, your body took quite the shock in the accident, think of it like a power surge. When your spinal cord was swollen, the signals from your brain couldn’t reach your limbs, and likewise the signals from your limbs couldn’t reach your brain. Now that the block is clearing your nerves are overcompensating.”

“How long will it last?” Octavia asked worriedly. Dr. Poultice rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably.

“There’s no way to tell I’m afraid. Some ponies recover in a day or two, in others it takes weeks, and some never fully recover.”

Vinyl bit back a whimper. She had always considered herself a tough pony, but she knew she wasn’t that tough. “So can’t you just give me more of those drugs?”

“Vinyl, that was morphine. Too much could kill you or do permanent damage to your body.” He stated flatly.

“What other options are there?” Octavia asked. She fidgeted uncomfortably, every fiber of her body wanted to reach out and touch Vinyl. The knowledge that her touch would only bring pain made her heart ache. Dr. Poultice remained silent for a time, his mouth opening and closing several times as various ideas were considered and rejected. With a slight sigh he looked Octavia in the eye, his own expression conveying unease at the solution he was about to propose.

“There is one other option I can think of, but I strongly recommend against it.”

“Let me…” Vinyl bit back a wave of pain “Let…me…hear it…” The stallion shuffled uncomfortably. He shifted his gaze back to Octavia who reluctantly nodded.

“ We…uhm…” he cleared his throat in a last ditch effort to procrastinate “We could put you into a chemically induced coma. You wouldn’t feel any pain, but there’s no guarantee we would be able to wake you up again.”

“Have you done this before?” Octavia asked quickly.

“I have not, personally. However, the procedure has been done at this facility in the past, mostly on Pegasi that suffer fall accidents. Most have come through just fine, but there are some who didn’t.”

“What happened to them?” Vinyl asked, her voice less confident now.

“Several remained comatose and were pulled from life support after it was determined they had suffered brain death, others experienced other forms of brain damage ranging from mild to severe. It is my professional opinion that you do not pursue this course of treatment until you’ve given your body time to recover.” He stated flatly, Octavia’s hooves covered the horrified expression on her muzzle.

“I’ll give you two time to talk things over. Excuse me.” He quietly shuffled out of the room. The silence seemed deafening to both mares as each waited for the other to speak first. The gentle ticking of the clock bore witness as the seconds passed to minutes until Octavia cracked first.

“Vinyl?” her voice was soft and brittle, betraying her fear of what the unicorn might say. “You can’t seriously be considering that, right?”

“…Yeah…yeah I am.” She answered quietly.

“Vinyl, you can’t! It’s too dangerous!” Octavia pleaded.

“Tavi…I…” the DJ whimpered at a particularly intense wave of pain. “Nnng…I…I don’t know if I can take this. “

“You can Vinyl, I know you can!” Octavia argued, her hoof automatically brushing Vinyl’s cheek only to recoil when the light contact elicited a hiss of pain. Vinyl felt the familiar burn of tears starting to sting at her eyes again.

“I’m not that strong Octavia!” She cried “It’s bad enough that I can’t move! I…I don’t think I can take this too…” She squeezed her eyes shut.

“How do you think I feel, Vinyl?” her voice cracked as she shouted, her lavender eyes overcome with tears. “The mare I love more than life itself is in pain, and I can’t even touch her without making it worse! I would give anything to bear the pain for you.” She wiped her eyes on her foreleg “I’m scared Vinyl, I’m so scared that if they put you under you’ll never wake up…and…and then I’ll be alone again…”

Octavia sobbed into her hooves. Vinyl silently begged Celestia, Luna, Discord, as well as any (and every) spirit or demon to give her the ability to move. She would have sacrificed her horn itself to lift her foreleg to embrace her love. Slowly Octavia composed herself, deep calming breaths slowly overcame the sobs until she was able to look Vinyl in the eye again, her lavender orbs puffy and shimmering.

“You’re my whole world, Vinyl...” She smiled sadly “I’m begging you, please don’t leave me alone.”

Vinyl blinked the tears from her eyes, again cursing her fate as a prisoner in her own body. With a trembling sigh she made her decision.

“I-I’ll try Tavi…for you.” She yielded softly. Octavia smiled a little. “Just do me one favor...”

“Anything, love.”

“Kiss me.”

Octavia’s eyebrows shot up in surprise.

“Vinyl, I can’t! I…I don’t want to hurt you more.” Octavia recoiled slightly.

“Octavia,” Vinyl caught Octavia’s gaze, a grim determination in her ruby eyes “I don’t care how bad my body hurts. Life without touching you isn’t worth living.”

“Vinyl…” Octavia whimpered, her heart torn over what to do.

“Tavi, any pain is worth it if it means I get to be closer to you…Please?”

Octavia sighed and nodded, unable to deny the unicorns desire. Slowly she leaned down, her movements as slow and timid as their very first kiss so many years ago. As her lips ghosted Vinyl’s she felt the familiar warmth of the unicorn’s breath wash over her muzzle. She felt the subtle shiver in vinyl’s lips as they hovered millimeters apart. Octavia barely noticed the longing whimper that escaped her throat before her lips met with Vinyl’s.

For Vinyl, they had a twofold effect. Emotionally it was full of the love and support that she had needed. Physically though, the kiss was searing agony. She squeezed her eyes shut as fresh tears formed. Her nerves screamed at her to get away from the pain, and thought she did her best to resist; she could only delay the cry that escaped her. Octavia reacted immediately, her mouth separating from Vinyl’s as she all but leapt away.

“Oh Gods, Vinyl! Are you all right? I’m so sorry!”

“T-Tavi…” Vinyl forced a smile over her pained features “It’s okay…really.”

“How is it okay, Vinyl? I hurt you!” She cried, “I knew it would hurt you and like an idiot I still did it!” she berated herself.

“Tavi, it’s alright, really.” Vinyl assured “It was totally worth it.”

Octavia sighed, running a hoof through her hair tiredly.

“Of all the crazy mares, I just had to fall in love with you.”

Vinyl chuckled softly before her smile faded. “Hey, Tavi?”

“Yea?”

“I’m sorry.”

The earth pony blinked in confusion “What for?”

“For all this. For making you cry. I’m sorry.”

Again Octavia had to stop herself from reaching out to touch Vinyl.

“It’s alright Vinyl. We’ll get through this, together.” Octavia gave the unicorn her best smile. Silence again settled over the two mares. The grey earth pony’s lavender eyes watched every subtle twitch that Vinyl’s face made, mentally archiving every minute detail looking for something wrong. She snapped from her reverie when Vinyl’s voice reached her ears.

“Tavi?” she whimpered.

“Yes Vinyl?”

“Could you take off my glasses? They’re hurting too much.”

Octavia frowned worriedly as she complied. Vinyl sighed in slight relief as the light frames left her nose.

“I’m sorry I’m such a pain in your flank.” Vinyl said dejectedly.

“It’s no trouble, Vinyl.” Octavia smiled gently. Silence once again filled the room for a minute before Vinyl spoke again.

“Hey Tavi?”

“Hmm?”

“Do…Do you think you could you play for me, please?”

Octavia recoiled slightly. The times Vinyl had asked her to play were few and far between. The request made her curious and concerned, but she pushed those thoughts aside for now. If her love wanted to hear her play, then Celestia herself couldn’t stop her.

“Of course, Vinyl.” She smiled as she retrieved her cello from its case.

Vinyl did her best to smile as Octavia checked her tuning and began to play a gentle waltz. She would never be a fan of classical as a genre, but she did appreciate the skill and love that the earth pony put into her playing. Vinyl focused on the music and let her mind drift away. Away from the pain, away from her fear, to a place where it was just her and Octavia, waltzing.

Octavia found her own mind wandering as she played. She observed the world through half-lidded eyes, only peripherally aware of the goings on around her. Nurses, doctors, and even some of the more mobile patients formed a small crowd just inside the door to listen. The nursing staff tended to observe for only a couple of minutes each before they would wander off to attend to their responsibilities, sometimes returning for a moment here or there. The patients and visitors that stopped would stay for a bit longer before heading off. Octavia paid them little mind as she seamlessly transitioned from song to song, each movement and note demonstrating her unparalleled mastery of her instrument. The only pony she paid any attention to was Vinyl.

The last vestiges of daylight were fading beneath the horizon when Octavia finally put her cello away. She hated to admit it, but playing had helped her relax much more then she thought it would. She found herself wondering if that had been why Vinyl asked her to play in the first place. Returning her attention to the pale unicorn, Octavia took note of the marked discomfort still etched across Vinyl’s features, however it seemed muted as the unicorn slept. Octavia again had to force herself not to reach out and touch Vinyl, even to brush a few strands of electric blue hair from her eyes. Octavia loosed a defeated sigh, taking her seat at Vinyl’s bedside. She didn’t remain stagnant for long before her stomach growled loudly. She flushed slightly from the noise and took a moment to consider how long it had been since she had gotten anything to eat or drink. A day? Two perhaps? Her stomach growled again, earning an annoyed grumble from the earth pony.

“You can keep quiet,” she mumbled “Vinyl needs us more than the deli.”

Her stomach growled again in seeming defiance as Dr. Poultice trotted through the door, a clipboard magically suspended in front of his face with a pen marking down notes as he walked. His ears perked almost immediately as he heard the sound. Lowing his clipboard he cast an amused look at Octavia, who sheepishly waved to him.

“There’s a cafeteria downstairs that’s open twenty-four hours.” He informed her as he made his way to Vinyl’s bedside.

“I’m alright, really.” She said. Poultice looked at her dubiously.

“When’s the last time you ate?”

“Um…not too long ago?” she answered quietly.

“Was it today?” he questioned. She shook her head side to side in embarrassment. “Yesterday?” his golden eyes narrowed slightly.

“Um…yes? Maybe…probably…I think…” she rubbed her hooves together, suddenly feeling like a filly who forgot her homework. Poultice sighed even as he updated his notes on Vinyl’s condition.

“Octavia, you need to eat and rest.”

“I’m fine!” She growled, keeping her voice quiet enough not to wake Vinyl. “Vinyl needs me here.”

“Vinyl needs you to be healthy.” He stated pointedly. “I’ve seen good-hearted mares and stallions like you before Octavia. They all sit there thinking that if they leave even for a second, then the ponies they love will die. But it doesn’t work like that.”

Octavia averted her eyes from the stallion. Even though his tone was gentle and his words were kindly it didn’t take out the sting of his honesty.

“What will happen if you keep on this path,” he continued “is that in a day or two either myself or one of the nurses will come in here, find you passed out on the floor, then we have to admit you as well. And as I’m sure you can tell,” he waved a hoof to the room around him “These rooms are not built for two. Not to mention how Vinyl would feel if something happened to you.”

Octavia blinked away the tears that burned away at her vision.

“But…but who will stay with her while I’m not here? What happens if something goes wrong?” she asked worriedly. Poultice offered her a sympathetic smile.

“I promise you, I’ll make sure she isn’t left alone while you get something to eat.” He smiled kindly. Octavia cast one last look to Vinyl’s sleeping form before she reluctantly vacated her seat and retrieved her saddlebags from the corner she had left them. She forced herself not to look back as she left, lest she change her mind.

With a brisk trot she made her way downstairs to the cafeteria. To her mild surprise there were nearly twenty other ponies there, some eating, others sipping quietly at tea or coffee. Octavia took a moment to read the simple menu that was written on a sandwich board in front of the order counter. Several minutes and a few bits later she was sat at a corner table, eagerly devouring a large salad with several bags of oats stuffed into her saddlebags for snacks later. After cleaning her plate and finishing her tea, Octavia quickly trotted back up to Vinyl’s room. True to his word, Dr. Poultice was still there. He smiled and nodded to her as he prepared a syringe.

“I’m giving her another dose of morphine.” He explained in response to the questioning look she gave him “With a bit of luck it will grant her a good nights sleep and, Celestia willing, her nerve pain will start to sort itself out tomorrow.”

Octavia nodded, retaking her position at Vinyl’s side.

“You should get some rest too.” He stated as he slowly injected the morphine into the IV. “This will be a marathon, not a sprint. Not just for Vinyl, but you as well.”

Octavia didn’t reply as she mulled the analogy over. The doctor tossed the empty syringe into a sealed biohazard bin and marked down a note on Vinyl’s chart, specifying the time he gave her the dose, before he left the room and closed the door behind him.

Octavia sat in silence for a while, simply staring out into space. With a sigh and a shake of her head to snap herself back to reality. She glanced to the clock on the wall, reading the time at nearly half past eight. Slipping quietly out of the chair, she turned off the main lights and retrieved one of the books Lyra and Bon Bon had brought her. She hopped onto the small bed provided to her and read until she drifted off to sleep and dream.

She was running. Away or toward, she couldn’t tell. Rain poured down over her as she ran into the void.

“…Vi…” a voice echoed around her.

The faster she tried to run, the slower she felt.

“Tav…” it called again.

She tried to call back to it, but no sound came from her lips.

“Tavi!” Vinyl’s voice rang out through the rain.

Far in front of her, the pale unicorn appeared, blood pouring down her face from the large gash in her forehead. Her ruby eyes overwhelmed with tears. She reached out with a hoof.

“Tavi, help me!” she pleaded as she faded into the darkness. “I don’t wanna die, Tavi! Help me! Why won’t you help me!” she begged as the darkness consumed her.

“Vinyl!” She shouted as she leapt out of bed, her eyes wide and her heart racing. She gasped for air like she had just sprinted from Canterlot to Las Pegasus and back again. Looking over she could see Vinyl, unmoved and alive, the gentle beeps of the monitors connected to her body providing proof. Octavia slowly got to her feet, her legs trembling unsteadily under her weight. Carefully she made her way back to Vinyl’s bedside. The clock on the wall read nearly two forty-five in the morning. She focused on Vinyl’s face as she forced herself to calm down. Vinyl’s face was tense even as she slept; each breath she drew was taken through clenched teeth.

Octavia flinched, images flashing in her mind of Vinyl no longer drawing that breath, her face relaxed in the pale pony’s cold embrace. The cellist pressed her hooves to her temples and desperately shook the images free, tears forming in the corners of her eyes. She wanted to crawl into the bed and hold Vinyl close, tell the unicorn all that she all she meant to her, and never let her go. But she couldn’t, and no pony could tell her how long it would be until she could. Octavia caught herself reaching out to Vinyl again, and with a growl of frustration she pulled her hoof back. Silence began to fill the room again until Octavia began to sing gently.

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey.
You never know dear how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away.”