• Published 10th Apr 2020
  • 2,699 Views, 298 Comments

Hearts Beat - mushroompone



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

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Folklore

A newspaper hit my door with a heavy thwack.

It's funny, really; I had actually been looking forward to getting the paper that day. I needed distraction, and my library just wasn't providing it. Anything about music made me think of her. Anything about math, science, or technology made me think of her. And have you ever noticed how many novels have romantic plots? And subplots? And sub-subplots?

I just wanted to read a story about something other than… all of those things. Is that so much to ask?

The early morning air felt lovely against my face as I opened the door.

I looked down at the welcome mat.

It was not a newspaper.

I let out a little shriek and slammed the door. Then, after a moment's pause, I whipped the door back open, snapped up the delivery, and slammed it shut again.

Princess Twilight Sparkle: Homewrecker?

A photo of Vinyl Scratch waiting outside my door, obviously dressed for a special occasion.

A photo of the two of us walking home from the speakeasy.

A photo of Vinyl out with Octavia on some other occasion, leaning against one another and smiling, clearly a couple.

And a long, rambling article, filled with wild speculation and outright lies. Just folklore, I thought. Made-up fairy tales for the entertainment of all in Ponyville.

My magic faltered, and the tabloid fell to the crystal floor. The bees were humming in my stomach again.

Oh, gosh. What would Vinyl think? What would Octavia think? What would my friends think?

I felt like I was going to throw up.

I'm not sure how long I stood there, leering down at the tabloid from a great enough distance that I could hardly make out the poorly-typeset letters, edges smudged and bleeding from the rushed print. My legs and neck felt three times as long as they truly were. It was as if my head were waving slowly back and forth from the top of a flagpole.

Dizziness got the better of me and I sat down hard on the crystal floor.

Rainbow Dash was the first to arrive, of course. She was the fastest. She also didn’t give two shits about knocking before entering.

“Twilight!” She shouted, though it sounded very far away. “Are you okay? I’m gonna catch the punk who wrote this and wring his twerpy neck, don’t worry.”

She threw her rolled-up tabloid down on the floor beside my copy.

I stared down at the pair of them. Everyone in Ponyville must have seen it by now.

“Twilight? Hey, Twilight!” Rainbow nudged me. “Snap out of it!”

I shook my head. “I’m sorry, I-- I’m sorry.”

“Are you okay?” Rainbow asked. She was crouched on the floor in front of me, looking up into my stony face. “Everypony else is on their way. We’re gonna stop this crap, okay?”

I nodded.

“Okay.”

A thunderous sound rang out through the castle as Applejack kicked the doors open. “Twilight!” She cried. “I’m comin’!”

She skidded into view and sat beside Rainbow Dash.

“Those liars got another thing comin’, Twi,” Applejack said, shaking her hoof. “Nopony says that about my friends!"

But--

More and more, pouring into the castle. All five of my closest friends surrounding me, shouting in anger at the world, at the reporter, at the publisher.

"That Fresh Scoop is always spewing nonsense," Rarity said, her hoof stroking me gently between my wings. "It's about time somepony took her down."

"I'm so sorry, Twilight," Fluttershy said. She pressed her forehead against my cheek. "I can't believe somepony would say something so horrible."

Pinkie didn't say much, other than loudly announce she had brought brownies. She then dropped to the floor beside me and wrapped her forelegs around my barrel, squeezing tightly.

"We'll get 'em," Applejack said. "We'll get 'em."

"But…" The word just slipped out.

The girls froze.

"But?" Rarity asked.

My stomach hurt. My throat ached. My eyes burned. "But it's…"

I didn't finish. As guilty as I felt, I couldn't bear to admit the truth. Maybe not that I was a homewrecker, but that, if I could… I would. Gladly.

The first tears rolled silently down my cheeks. Everypony moved in to embrace me at once, and I was caught in a tangle of squeezing limbs and nuzzling snouts. I cried quietly. I felt guilty for crying.

Fluttershy was the first to stand. She helped me stand, too, and lead me slowly to the living room.

Rainbow and Applejack spoke in rough, hurried whispers. It seemed that Applejack wanted to find the pony responsible and report them. Rainbow wasn't sure that could be done, but Applejack departed anyway.

"Brownie?" Pinkie offered, holding a pan under my snout. "They're not exactly fresh, but chocolate is chocolate!"

I shook my head. "I have to…" I sniffled. "I have to go. I have to apologize, or--"

"Darling, please!" Rarity interrupted. "Anypony with half a brain knows better than to read that rag. You have nothing to worry about."

"I do, though!" I stood up. "I have to go. I really do."

I moved as if through molasses. Thoughts of preparation were swirling through my head too quickly to understand, yet too slowly to miss entirely.

Should I wash my face? I've been crying, after all.

The documentary. I have it here, somewhere. I know it. I still have time to find it before I go.

I haven't eaten breakfast. I should eat breakfast.

But what if she sees it before I get there?

The girls followed me around, trying to help as best they could.

"I'm fine!" I kept insisting. "I'm fine, I just have to go. I'm fine."

If they argued, I hardly heard it. Just continued wandering about the castle, picking things up, splashing water on my face.

"Twilight, you should really think about this," Rainbow Dash said as I neared the door.

"I did," I said. "I'm going."

And I walked out the door.

Vinyl lived minutes from my own castle. Well, I suppose Octavia lived minutes from my castle. Vinyl just stayed there with Octavia.

Thinking about Octavia made my head rush. A complete overload of emotions; some guilt, some jealousy, some anger. Some other strange one that made me want to protect Vinyl from her, as if Octavia were some evil force in the world that was using Vinyl for her own nefarious ends.

Which certainly wasn't true.

Maybe.

Hopefully.

Hopefully not?

I couldn't help but stare at the tabloids which littered the steps of every home in Ponyville. It occurred to me that there was no way this many ponies actually had a subscription--Celestia knows I didn't--and that this edition was likely being used as a publicity stunt. A rushed and scandalous story which would surely make their little office a a sizable amount of money.

Honestly, I don't know if that made it better or worse.

I think it was just another slap in the face.

Octavia's house was a few yards ahead of me on my left, set far back from the rest of the hum-drum.

Wait a minute.

Set far back!

I broke into a gallop. Sure enough, as I neared the front walk, I caught a glimpse of the tabloid laying on the cobblestone.

Without slowing down, I snatched up the tabloid and crumpled it into a ball. I hurled it with all my might straight into the heart of the topiary. It lodged at the center of the music note's bulb.

I stood still for a second, proud, relieved.

I could get away with it!

Get away with what?

The door opened. I had not planned for this.

"Princess?" It was a voice I didn't recognize.

The door swung all the way open. There stood a grey earth pony mare with a long, dark mane. She had good posture, which isn't something I typically notice about another pony.

I did my best to look professional. "Y-you must be Octavia."

"Yes," she nodded.

My eyes flicked to the balled-up magazine in her topiary, then quickly back to her face. She didn't notice.

"You're here to see Vinyl?" Octavia asked. Although, it kind of split the difference between a question and a statement. I noted that she had a Bittish accent which was… unexpected, to say the least. "She mentioned you were bringing her a documentary." So calm. Almost bored.

I blinked. "Uh… yes! I have it, uh… I have it right--" I began digging frantically in the saddle bag which I hardly remembered packing. "Ah-ha!" I held up the sleeve with the record in it.

"Lovely," Octavia said. She didn't seem to mean it. "Why don't you come in?"

Before I could even think about it, I found myself entering the building. I'm not even sure I said yes.

The inside was… actually, it was precisely what you'd anticipate from the outside. Divided right down the center, one half all about comfort and technology, the other very stately and restrained. Adjacent. Not integrated.

Vinyl was standing smack in the center, quite literally on the line which divided the dwelling in two. Two hooves on the properly-finished walnut, two hooves on the hastily-stained blue.

"Hey, Twi!" She was trying to sound casual, but it fell short.

"The Princess has brought you your documentary," Octavia explained, even though nopony asked. She turned back to me. "You know, I was excited to hear that Vinyl had met with you. We musicians need all the connections we can get." She laughed tastefully.

I was only looking at Vinyl. Vinyl was only looking at the floor. "Oh?"

"Mm-hm." Octavia was gathering things from her side of the house, stuffing them into a bag. "You know, neither of us have very lucrative careers just yet. We get by, but we're always looking for our big break!"

"I see." I shuffled my hooves a bit.

Octavia sighed. "It's nothing to be so somber about. We can pay the bills." She slipped her filled saddlebag onto her back and drifted across the room to Vinyl. "Goodbye, darling."

Octavia kissed Vinyl on the cheek. Vinyl kissed Octavia's cheek in return.

With that, Octavia was gone, and it was just me and Vinyl once again.

No… not once again. For the first time ever.

My heart went right up into my throat.

"So…" Vinyl rubbed one foreleg with the other. "You brought that documentary?"

I produced it wordlessly and passed it to Vinyl.

"Cool."

I looked at Vinyl. Right into her eyes. She looked back, unafraid.

"You told her… that I was a connection?" I asked. Vague, but I knew what that meant. I was a celebrity friend for the sake of having a celebrity friends still a difficult concept to get used to.

"That's--" Vinyl sighed. "Octavia came up with all that herself. I just didn't correct her, exactly. I dunno. She can be kinda possessive sometimes."

"Is that what I am to you, though?" I murmured. "Because I'm-- I can be okay with it if I have to."

"No, Twilight," Vinyl took a step forward. "You're-- well, you're cool. Let's be honest: you wouldn't be much of a celebrity connection if that's what I was in it for, anyway, would you?" She peered at me over her shades. A tentative smirk teased at her cheeks.

I scoffed and smiled a bit myself.

"Did you wanna stay? We can listen to--"

"Somepony took pictures of us," I blurted. "A reporter. They're calling me a ho-- a homewrecker. I just wanted to warn you."

"Oh."

I waited for more, but there didn't seem to be any. "I'm sorry. I should've warned you, things can get kinda crazy around me sometimes. I'm still not really used to it myself."

"It's okay, Twi," Vinyl assured me in a soft voice. "I mean, I know better than to believe that."

"I know."

"So does Tavi."

"That's good."

"It's definitely not gonna stop me from hanging out with you," Vinyl said. She laughed a bit. "You're easily the coolest pony I've met in a club. Like, ever."

I rolled my eyes. "I know that's not true."

"It is!" Vinyl insisted. She was smiling broadly now. She had a crooked tooth, I noticed. "Cool in the real way, Twi. Not like me with the shades and the spiky hair. Really, actually cool."

I smiled. "I have a hard time believing that."

"And that's what makes you so cool!" She sounded like a foal, I thought. But also not. Also much older and wiser than I think I could wrap my head around just yet.

I sighed. "Well, I may have been not-so-cool earlier and thrown the tabloid into your big, er… eighth note." I laughed wryly. "Now that I'm saying it that sounds really dumb. I'll get rid of it for you."

Vinyl waved dismissively. "Ah, don't worry about it. I'll get it later."

We stood a moment longer, both staring at the floor, but stealing glances at one another.

Both of us had all four hooves on the blue side.