• Published 10th Apr 2020
  • 2,698 Views, 298 Comments

Hearts Beat - mushroompone



A chance encounter at a rave leads to Twilight making an unlikely friend

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Dance

"What do you think, Spike? Mane up?"

A cloud of magenta magic twisted about my mane, pulling it up into a high and bouncy fillytail. I flipped my head from side to side and watching the length of hair sway back and forth.

"Looks good," Spike mumbled from behind his comic.

"Or is down better?" I asked. I allowed the magic to dissipate, and my mane cascaded back down my shoulders. Not cascaded. Just plain fell.

“Uh-huh…” Spike licked one claw and turned his comic to the next page.

I cocked my head, considering my reflection. “Well, she saw me with my mane down, right? What if she doesn’t recognize me with my mane up?”

“Good point…”

My hooves were dancing up and down all on their own. I leaned in close to the mirror and examined my face for blemishes. Finding none, my attention zeroed in on my complexion, which was as flat and even as ever. Should I add some blush? Did I even have blush?

"Oh, I should have asked Rarity over…" I swept my bangs to one side, then the other.

Spike lowered his comic and peered over it. "What's wrong with how you usually look?"

I groaned. "I feel like I just look so… frumpy."

"Frumpy?" Spike repeated in a monotone.

I nodded. "Frumpy, Spike! I look like I should be wearing a school uniform! Do I always look like this?!"

Spike's eyes scanned me quickly. "Well, yeah! Just less… sweaty."

"I'm sweaty?!" I pressed my nose against the glass and squinted at my forehead, looking for evidence of moisture. My breath fogged up the mirror almost instantly.

Spike sighed and shielded himself behind his comic book once more.

I stepped back from the mirror and cleared it with a burst of magic.

"I just wish I knew where we were meeting. If we were going to a coffee shop, I'd probably go like this. If it's another club, I'd much rather--"

"Twilight!" Spike threw his comic down on the floor. "You never dress up for stuff! You've only ever dressed up for two events: the Grand Galloping Gala, and your birthday in Canterlot." Spike held up two claws and waved them wildly. "Stop being weird! We both know you're going to go just like that, so just be quiet and let me read!"

I bit my lip and looked sheepishly down at the floor. He may have been young, but Spike knew me longer than any of my friends from Ponyville. Sometimes he was the only one who could see through my panic.

"Now, take a deep breath," Spike instructed.

I filled my chest with air.

"And let it out."

The air rushed back out of my lungs sharp enough to disrupt the Spikes comic on the floor.

"Better?" Spike asked.

I nodded. "Better."

Spike smiled a strained smile. "Great." He bent down, picked up his comic, and resumed reading.

Yeah. All good. No pressure. This wasn't a job interview, after all! No need to get fancy, or dress up, or--

I rushed back to the mirror. "Although, I really think if I just put my mane--"

Spike hurled the comic at my face. It stuck for a moment, then slid to the floor with a pronounced plop.

"Right."

Spike crossed his arms over his chest. "When is she coming to pick you up, anyway?"

I glanced at the clock on the wall. "S-soon."

As if on cue, I heard a knock at the door.

I gasped audibly and shot across the room on shaking wings. When I whipped the door open, Vinyl's hoof was still poised in the air, as if I had interrupted her.

I froze.

She froze.

"Hi!" I said.

"Uh…" Vinyl shook her head slightly. "Hi, there!"

She looked very different. Her mane was slicked back away from her face with a frankly horrifying amount of hair gel. She was wearing a bowtie, and her usual shades were missing entirely.

I guess I must have stared too long, because Vinyl reached up to touch her mane, a deep pink blooming in her cheeks. "Oh, this! It's not-- it'll make sense, I promise."

"I'm sorry, I didn't realize--"

"This is for you," Vinyl said. She produced a dark, wide-brimmed hat and a matching clip-on bowtie, holding them out to me.

I blinked. "Oh! They're very-- erm, they're so--"

Vinyl shook her head. "It's not a gift! It's, like, a costume."

"A… costume?" I turned the hat over in my grasp. It was very old-fashioned, with a plume of fake flowers and feathers attached to thick ribbon around its band, all black.

"Ah, that makes it sound super weird!" Vinyl smacked her forehead with one hoof. "I swear this isn't, like, a weird s--"

Vinyl stopped herself there by stuffing her own hoof in her mouth.

I stared at her for a moment. Her piercing red eyes were wide with panic. Honestly, had I not known better, I could have convinced myself I was still looking into a mirror.

"Well, bye, Twilight!" Spike called.

"Bye!" I shouted back, still frozen to the spot.

The door slammed shut behind me.

The sudden sound snapped the both of us out of our panic paralysis. Vinyl stepped to the side and looked down at the ground. "Sorry. I guess I'm nervous. I don't usually get to hang out with royalty."

I laughed. A snort snuck out. "I'm barely royalty. Just pretend these things aren't here!" I said, fluttering my wings. I suddenly felt very silly and snapped them back in against my sides. "Um… should I put these on now?"

"Ah, forget about it. It was-- it was a joke, anyway, so don't--" Vinyl made a grab for the hat and pearls, but I moved them just out of her reach.

I drew in a short breath, blew it out. "No. I'm being adventurous today."

A cloud of magenta magic whirled about my head, drawing my mane into a messy up-do. I stuffed the hat down on top of it and gave it a cocky tilt. The bowtie fastened around my neck with a neat click.

Vinyl grinned. "Awesome. I really think you'll like this, Princess."

"It's Twilight," I said. "Unless I should be going by a different name tonight?"

Vinyl smiled to herself. "T-Twilight's fine. Good, even!"

"So, where are we headed?" I asked. I began to trot down the long, low steps.

Vinyl hurried on my tail. "Uh, well, why don't you just let me lead the way. Don't wanna spoil the surprise, after all." She winked as she took a slight lead.

I swallowed hard. "Sure!"

But I wasn't.

This went against my every instinct! Following a strange mare to a strange place in a strange outfit. But this sort of anxiety was almost… good. I liked the fluttering, burning feeling in my chest. In my mind, I tried to travel back to those early days when a new friend was a rare, magnificent achievement. Had it felt like this?

"So, get this: I did some reading about surrealism," Vinyl said, not missing a beat, "and, I gotta say. Shit's freaky. See, when I think of breaking the rules, I think of fun! But that stuff is just--"

"Creepy?" I suggested.

"So creepy!" Vinyl glanced at me, eyes wide with wonder. "I saw a picture of a teacup made of fur. I can literally still feel it on my tongue."

I laughed. "It's… definitely not for everypony."

"Well, you know. I'm haunted for eternity, now. No big deal," Vinyl muttered. "Stupid fur cup."

I kept laughing. Do I normally laugh this much? It's like I can't stop myself from laughing, even if I wanted to.

Just focus on something else. Look at the early-morning sun. Enjoy the smell of the fresh air. Try to guess which location Vinyl Scratch is going to end up murdering you in. After all, why would a mare with a steady partner want to go out with somepony else?

I shook my head clear of the danger impulse. "Er how long have you lived in Ponyville?"

"Me?" Vinyl pointed to herself. "Oh. I grew up in Chicoltgo. Which is why I talk like this, 'cause I'm goin' t' see Da May-ers." Vinyl blew a raspberry at the end of her comedically-accented sentence.

"Oh, you barely have an accent," I said, waving it off with one hoof. "You should hear some of my friends from Canterlot! Whew, do they talk like upper-crust snobs sometimes."

Vinyl chuckled. "You have a bit of an accent yourself, there, Princess. I mean-- Twilight." So softly she said my name, as if it were forbidden.

I matched her volume. "Do I, really?"

Vinyl squinted. "Barely there. I'm sure it's invisible to anypony who doesn't have my ears." She wiggled her ears, as if to prove their superiority.

We turned a corner and Vinyl came to a sudden stop.

"You've never been here before, right?" Vinyl asked, nodding towards the building. "'Cause, I gotta admit, that would kinda take the teeth outta my thing, here."

I looked the building up and down. It didn't seem extraordinary or familiar in the least. Just a plain, typical Ponyville storefront. "Uh… no, I don't think so."

Vinyl pumped a hoof in the air. "Alright, perfect. I'm glad I get to show you this."

I followed Vinyl to the front door. As I did, I thought I could feel a beat pumping, though it was so unlike the one from the club that I didn't think it could be music at all.

Vinyl pushed the double doors open and trotted into the building. I was right behind.

The room was filled with music, though in a manner that was entirely different from the club. At the club, the music had been a force pushing down on me, pressing against me, claustrophobically close. Here, it was like energy. A trampoline rippling under my hooves.

Towards the back of the room was a small stage. On it, four players: a cellist, a horn player, a clarinet player, and a pianist. The music wasn't quite jazz, wasn't quite swing… it was something rather modern, actually. No, wait: very modern.

"Are they playing Countess Coloratura music?" I asked.

Vinyl chuckled. "That's right, dollface. These guys is like a damn jukebox." An affected voice, like a hard-boiled detective, or a fast-talking reporter..

I put a hoof up to my mouth. "Are we in a speakeasy?” I could hardly contain my excitement. I had heard these places existed, but I never imagined one could be right here in Ponyville!

“We won’t be for long, you keep flappin’ ya gums like that,” Vinyl said, nudging me in the ribs. “Now siddown, let’s get you some Joe.”

Vinyl hooked her foreleg around my neck and led me towards a bar.

I leapt up on a stool with glee. A large, unshaven stallion lumbered over to me-- not so much surly as just gruff, no-nonsense.

“Miss?” He said.

“I’ll take a… ooh!” I kicked my hanging hooves in excitement. “Get me a hot blond in sand, please. “

The stallion nodded then looked to Vinyl.

“Old fashioned,” she said.

We watched as the stallion moved away.

“What the hell is a hot blond in sand?” Vinyl hissed to me.

I grinned. “Coffee with cream and sugar! Diner lingo.”

Vinyl chuckled. “I just knew you’d get a kick out of this. Didn’t think you’d have all the crazy sayings memorized, though.”

I shrugged. “What can I say? I am a wealth of obscure knowledge.”

“You can say that again,” Vinyl agreed.

“Coffee. Old fashioned.” The stallion slid the drinks down the bars to us.

I rushed to catch mine, and the liquid sloshed out of the mug and over my hooves.

“Ooh! Rookie mistake, missy,” Vinyl said, her made-up voice back.

I snorted in laughter.

The stallion rolled his eyes and ambled to the other end of the bar.

Vinyl took a sip of her drink, staring across the bar at herself in the mirror.

“Little early for alcohol, don’t you think?” I asked.

“Twilight, I am essentially nocturnal,” Vinyl said, all too serious. “Your brunch is my midnight snack. Your morning coffee, my nightcap.”

“Is that because you work at night?”

“I wish!” Vinyl laughed, sipped her drink. “This is just how I am.”

The quartet onstage finished their piece, and a moderate applause rippled through the room. Vinyl set her drink down and joined in, so I followed suit.

The place may have been plain from the outside, but inside it was a gorgeous recreation of an authentic speakeasy. Or, no… now that I was getting a good look, it had some modifications. Better lighting, for one. Better sound system, for another. Actually, the whole place seemed to be an effortless blend of the modern and the vintage, right down to the jazz covers of pop songs being played on stage.

“How did you find out about this place?” I asked, craning my neck to observe the details of the room. “It doesn’t really seem like your scene, since you’re so anti-jazz.”

Vinyl nodded. “Excellent observation, Miss Sparkle. My marefriend, Octavia, played here once. Loved it. The whole vibe here is totally different than most jazz clubs. In that it is actually cool, instead of just pretending to be cool.”

I don’t know why, but the mention of Vinyl’s marefriend sent a cold shock through me.

“And… why take me here?” I asked.

“Oh, well, duh.” Vinyl motioned about the room. “I’m admitting defeat.”

“To who?” I laughed. “To me?”

Vinyl sighed. “This is one of the weirdest, rules-breaking-est, cutting-edge-est places I’ve ever been. And all they do is copy old stuff and play jazz. So you win.”

“I win?” I repeated, resting a coffee-stained hoof on my chest.

Vinyl rolled her eyes. “Oh, don’t act so surprised. I’ll totally let you brag about it on two conditions.”

I took a sip of my coffee. “And those are?”

“One,” Vinyl said, tapping her hoof on the polished wood surface of the bar for emphasis, “I’ve been looking for this documentary for a long time and you, master librarian, are going to find it for me.”

I nodded. “Done!”

“Two,” she said, tapping a second time, “You dance to a Songbird Serenade cover so I can tell all my friends I danced with a Princess.”

My heart leapt. I hid it expertly. “It’s only fair.”

Vinyl pounded her hoof one last time, twice as hard. “You are one stand-up dame, Miss Sparkle. I’ll try not to show you up on the dance floor.”