• Published 28th Nov 2012
  • 9,154 Views, 766 Comments

The Mute Octave - HenryAnthonyCourtler

What happens when a mute man makes friends with the most interesting of musicians?

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S1 Episode 0-1: The Pilot

The Mute Octave

Episode 0-1: The Pilot

The sun shone brightly, hanging just above the horizon as the day began with a crisp, clear, blue sky as far as the eye could see. People went about their business at the Milford Amtrak station, one in particular being a woman who walked hand in hand with a small boy, a messy mop of dark curls on his head, green eyes looking about excitedly. “Mama, mama! When’s the train getting here?!” he asked excitedly as they walked towards a bench near the platform.

As they sat down, the woman lifted him into her lap, a soft smile on her face. Brushing back a strand of her straight brown hair, she laughed. “It will be here soon, Henry. You’ve just been so eager this morning for your first chance at riding the train, huh?” she teased, tickling his
chin and causing him to burst into a loud giggling fit.

“M-mama! That t-tickles!” Henry called out near breathlessly as he tried to get away from her playful grasp. A train’s horn could be heard blaring in the distance. “Mama, it’s coming, the train’s coming!” Henry ran all the way to the edge of the platform, stopping right next to the tracks.

“Hey ‘Tavi! Watch this! Woohoo!” Octavia rolled her eyes as her roommate took a dive onto the crowd of ponies below, all of them howling uproariously as the... band... on the stage screamed their newest rock song, ‘Loco Locomotive’ at the top of their lungs. Whoever this Black Saddle was, they had no sense of decency. Octavia took a sip of the drink Vinyl had hoofed her before diving into the crowd, and nearly gagged. “This... is not wine. Ugh!” She set the glass down with a thunk, and turned her glare towards the distasteful excuse for equines that were the reason she was here. Ugh, and to think I used to like trains. Vinyl appeared again, hollering and whooping like an idiot. Octavia sighed.

“Henry! Get away from there, it’s not safe! The yellow line means do not cross, alright?”

“Okay, mama. Sorry...”

Henry’s mother smiled. “That’s quite alright, Henry. Just so long as you follow the rules, alright?”

“Okay, mama! No problem! Oh, the train’s here, the train’s here!” The train slowed to a stop before Henry and his mother, a loud hiss permeating the air for a moment before the doors pulled open.

Vinyl Scratch opened her own drink, pouring some into a glass for Octavia. “C’mon, ‘Tavi! It’s good stuff, Berry Punch made it special. You know how great her wine is!”

“... Well, her wine is very sophisticated...”

The train ride was very peaceful for Henry as he gazed at the different landscapes that blurred slightly past them. “I can’t wait to see grandma!” he said excitedly, legs swinging over his seat playfully.

“Me neither.” His mother said happily, running a hand through his curly hair. “Maybe you should take a nap so you’ll be ready to go all over the place once we get there,” she suggested coyly, watching him try to hide his yawn. Henry had to wake up particularly early to catch the train with her and she knew he still could use more rest.

“Sure....mama....” he answered between yawns as he sat on her lap, burying his face in her chest as she hugged him and gently rocked him.

Vinyl shook Octavia, who was laying belly-up on the ground in their private booth. “Octy... Hey, Octy...snrk, hehehehehe...”

“Wha-whahahahat d-do you want, hee hee, ha, um, Viny-hic-Viny- Vinny! Viiinnnieeee~ What is it?”

“Dude, Octy, hahaha, I got hooves! Pff-hahahaha!” Vinyl and Octavia fell into a pile of giggles and cheap alcohol, Octavia tickling Vinyl’s sides with as much force as she could muster. Which was not that much, considering her state of inebriation.

“That’s not all you’ve got, miss pointy-hat!” Octavia giggled again, rolling on the ground as she stared with crazed eyes at her friend.

“P-pointy hat? Haha, what?”

“Pointy hat! Yooou’re a witch! Witchy witchy twitchy stitcthy!” Octavia busied herself with poking at Vinyl’s horn, causing Vinyl to gasp at each contact, her horn sensitive to the touch and making her head throb with clarity at each surge of magic the contact entailed. “Witches in stitches!”

“St-stop it, Octy! Th-gasp-that’s... oohh, th-that feels soooo weird...”

Henry woke to a loud bang, his mother crouching in the train’s drawing room’s doorway, her hand to her chest. “Mama? What’s wrong, mama? Is it a bad guy?”

His mother put a finger to his lips. “Shh, be quiet, Henry. Yes; a bad guy’s on the train, and he’s trying to hurt people. Don’t worry, as long as you’re quiet, everything will be alright, okay?”

Henry nodded, risking the consequences to say one more thing. “P-promise?” His mother kissed his forehead and pushed him gently into the drawing room.

"Yes,” she said. “I promise. Just be quiet, Henry. Don't speak until I say you can. Just be quiet." She said it softly, but seriously, a stern expression on her face. He nodded quietly and crawled beneath the seat, poking his head out a bit so he could watch.

Octavia, in her drunken stupor, just continued to play with her friend’s horn, despite Vinyl’s protests. “Oh, come on, witchy-scratchy Vinyl Stitch! I’m- heehee- just punishing you for being so, hahaha, s-so horny all the time, pffff-hehehehe!”

Vinyl couldn’t take it anymore, the constant poking and prodding of her horn was making the magic build up unstably, as it had no spell directing it. Finally getting control of her legs enough to bat away ‘Tavi’s hooves and roll to her own, Vinyl staggered towards the restroom, needing a breather. Octavia stumbled to her own hooves, tottering after her white-coated friend like she was under Piper Pie’s musical spell.

The masked man marched down the aisle, gun pulled, yelling and rapping on the drawing room doors. He noticed Henry’s mother as she stepped completely out of the small room, the train swaying as it took a corner. The man chuckled darkly. "Alright, bitch, gimmie all your money, an’ maybe I’ll let you live so you can service me," he said gruffly, his chuckle only getting creepier.

She just scowled as she whipped out a gun and a badge, presenting it to him. "The only people I ‘service’ are the people I protect! Put the gun down, I'm with the Millford Poli—"

“Oh, Viiiinyyylll~” Octavia tackled Vinyl just as she got to the public restroom. Octavia, unable to find the coordination to poke with her hoof, instead just bit down on Vinyl’s horn, sending a shockwave of energy down and back up the part-time DJ’s spine.

Bang. It was like the distant rumble of thunder, distorted as if heard from underwater.

The magical overload dissipated Vinyl Scratch’s inebriation so fast that she couldn’t stop herself when she had a crystal-clear picture show up in her mind: Bathroom. Now.

Bang. It was like a giant piston-powered hammer slamming home at the construction site down the street from the daycare center, loud enough to make you flinch, even though you know it’s going to happen.

“No! Don’t teleport!” Too late. Vinyl Scratch teleported, the built-up energy flinging her and Octavia through dimensions of space neither pony could ever hope to understand before Vinyl wound up unconscious in the bathroom in hers and Octavia’s apartment. Octavia was not with her when she landed.

BANG! It was the sound of a bell, a sound so chilling Henry was frozen in space and time as he watched his mother’s gun, which had yet to discharge, fall to the ground slowly, painfully slow, the gasp that escaped his mother’s lips bringing time and reality slamming back onto the fast-track.

Hours later, Octavia stirred, groaning as she put a hoof to her head, "Ohh, I knew I shouldn't have let Vinyl talk me into drinking that... whatever it was."

Three loud gunshots rang clearly before his mother fell over onto her side, her green eyes wide in shock. She shifted her gaze from the gun, so close and yet too far, to her horrified son as tears leaked down her face.

Still groaning, she got up onto all fours and tried to stretch, her forehooves slipping forward and causing her to fall on her face, "Oww..." Octavia whimpered. She was built for wine, not whiskey! She filled her glass with sophistication, not alcohol.

Coughing wetly, she reached a shaking hand not for her gun, but her son. "Hhhh-Henry..." She stuttered painfully, blood pouring out of her nose and mouth before she went still, her hand slapping against the floor. Her badge slid towards him as the masked man kicked it and walked by, only stopping to grab the purse on the drawing room’s seat.

She reached one of her hooves to her head and scratched at her ear. "Mmm..." The sensation was a lot more satisfying than normal, the slender points dividing her hooves were much more dexterous than her normal hooves.

Octavia paused a moment, before bringing her hoof in front of her face. It... It...

It wasn't a hoof. Octavia screamed.

Henry wanted to scream, but he couldn’t. His mama had told him not to. She’d wake up soon, and tell him he could stop playing the silent game. Then... Then he could scream, and laugh, and show Grandma his collection of bottlecaps, and— Henry woke to a scream.

His mind was instantly awake as he scrambled towards the bathroom, where the scream was coming from. He got to the door and was about to throw it open when he remembered his bat, next to his bed. He winced and slowly inched the door open.

He was surprised to see a woman lying on the floor, shaking and trembling as if in panic. Henry looked at the young woman, shaking nervously as his shaggy brown hair danced about his forehead, tan skin weakly glowing in the moonlight. His green eyes merely gazed at her as he studied her form.

She seemed roughly around his height, long, straight, dark-brown hair running down her neck ending at the small of her back in sharp tips. Long, thick bangs framed her forehead perfectly as her purple eyes dilated in near hysteria. She leaned her back against the wall and caused him to blush as the gears clicked in his head. Save for the purple bowtie tied around her neck, her supple body was unclothed.

Octavia took several deep breaths to calm herself, eventually managing to control her panicking, "Sweet Celestia..." she muttered to herself, "Where exactly am I and just how will I get myself out of this one?"

Something caught her attention from the top of her peripheral vision. She looked at Henry curiously, noticing that he shared many physical traits such as the odd "hooves" she had acquired as well as the distinct lack of fur.

Her mind raced, trying to give her an idea of what the creature before her might be, but it decided that that was too much work, and that it would shut down. "Pardon me for uh..." She tried to think of something that she could say to prevent things from getting out of hoof, "For barging in like this in the middle of the night." Octavia finally said, noticing that indeed Luna's moon was in the night sky, though it seemed to be lowering. Be polite; ever a good first impression, even in unfamiliar surroundings.

Henry stood there quietly, hand idly resting against the door, eyes staring in her direction as he thought it over. Walking out of the room, Octavia tried to follow him, but only ended up falling in a heap to the floor.

"W-wait!" she weakly called after him before he came back into the room with a black slate-shaped item, and a blanket.

He took a seat on the floor, crossing his legs for comfort. He then held the blanket out for Octavia to take hold of, and she found herself shivering as she noticed how cold it was. She wrapped herself in the warm, fuzzy blanket, and looked at him in confusion as he fumbled for something on the slate that caused the side facing him to light up with a bright, but smooth white light that offered illumination in the dark room, revealing a bathroom proportioned for something of his size, and definitely not a pony.

She waited several moments for him to say something as he furiously tapped away at the screen before nearly blinding her with it as he held what appeared to be a glass-like window.

"Who the hell are you?!" the message read.

Octavia felt baffled. This creature wrote in the language of Equestria, but yet it was obvious he had never stepped foot there.

Adjusting her bowtie that felt a smidgen too tight with some minor difficulty from her new "hooves" she answered, "My name is Octavia, and... well, I don't know what I am now, but I assure you I was a pony yesterday!" she said in shock.

Henry looked at her in total disbelief, typing his next response before showing her the screen once again, "Pfft, and I'm the Queen of England."

Octavia harrumphed, "I am most certainly not lying." She said hotly, turning her nose up sharply.

Henry grinned softly. Well, she’s either crazy, drunk, or drugged. In any case, it’d be easier to deal with her if she’s happy. Writing once more, the text showed, "Relax, I was being sarcastic. What other way would a young woman end up in my house?"

She simply glared at him, "If you would like to use your witty sarcasm with me, why don't you just jest with me as such?"

He looked away with a sad, empty expression on his face, green eyes glinting with an unreadable feeling. Slowly, he typed back to her, "I can't..." Mom...

The musician's attitude softened immediately, "I am sorry for being so rude." she began sincerely, "I'm feeling quite stressed being in a body completely unlike my own...alone and separated from my friends..." her head lowered sadly, hair covering her face.

"I," Octavia started, her voice quavering. "I'm so sorry!" She wrapped her forelegs around the creature, and cried softly into his shoulder.

Henry looked at her teary face, slowly reaching out with his hand until he gently gripped her shoulder, tears streaming down his own face. She’s scared... If nothing else, that tells me she’s telling the truth, or at least part of it. She looked up at him, surprised to see him crying.

Octavia sniffled and sat on her haunches, her... 'Hooves' splayed on the cold tile. The blanket wrapped around her started to slip, and the man grabbed at it before it could, wrapping it tighter around her body.

"Oh!" Octavia gasped as the blanket was pulled a bit too tight, and Henry loosened it a bit, smiling apologetically.

Octavia noticed, with a hint of jealousy, that the colt wasn’t sharing in her cold-induced misery, due to some strange clothing he was wearing. He had something that wrapped around his torso and went down his forelegs, and a shorter article of clothing covering his hindquarter and hindlegs.

Another cold breeze swept over her, causing her entire body to shiver involuntarily.

The colt held up the slate once more. "Do you need some clothes?"

She looked at him curiously, an eyebrow raised. “U-uh, sure? I-It is p-pretty cold!” she said with a slight chatter of her teeth. The blanket was nice and all, but didn’t cover everything.

He nodded and stood up, towering above her on his hindlegs. Octavia shifted uncomfortably on her haunches. He raised an eyebrow at her, and she blushed, lowering her head ashamedly, "I don't know how to walk like that..."

Henry felt a bit conflicted. He knew it was the right thing to do to help her onto her feet, but... He was already feeling awkward, and didn't want to make it worse for either of them. Weighing his options quickly, he decided to risk it; he could at least get her in bed, and- no, NO, not like that, just to get her warm! It was the right thing to do... Wasn’t it?

Mind made up, Henry helped Octavia up, and supported her weight as she stumbled down the hallway to the bedroom, "I'm sorry if I'm being a burden to you," she said, and he shook his head quickly. She blushed demurely, "Oh, but not only did I apparently stumble into your abode, but I also have made you uncomfortable. In fact, it is not right for a lady to make her host uncomfortable; it is most unbecoming of a mare such as I!"

As he helped Octavia get beneath the covers, he glanced at the clock. Five Thirty? It was early. He nodded to himself as Octavia relished the feeling of the soft comforter encasing her body.

Henry started moving away, and Octavia called after him, "Where are you going?"

Looking back at her, he mimicked scrubbing his body, to indicate he was going to take a shower.

Octavia nodded and allowed him to continue back to the bathroom. She looked around the bedroom he’d set her in, and chuckled as she saw some familiar, if different, things. Little toys of blue and gold things were lined up like Pegasi before a race on his dresser, while there was a poster of a kitten hanging from a tree branch, with the caption “hang in there!” beneath it. In a scrawling, looping cursive she’d only ever seen Unicorns produce with any style beneath the caption was, “Who will catch me if I fall?”

The room was barren of pictures, for the most part. A few posters, sure, but nothing that shed light on the colt or his family. Octavia tried unsuccessfully to suppress a yawn, “I wonder what his name is,” she muttered to herself, before falling asleep in the comfort of his bed.

Henry calmly undressed and stepped into the shower, setting the water to a decently warm temperature, enjoying the feeling of it against his body and skin. As he soaped up a sponge and began to clean himself, he thought idly of how he was gonna help the lost girl that stumbled into his home. She didn’t even seem to know what she was for goodness sake! Either she’s been taking some serious hallucinogens, or she’s telling the truth. And I didn’t see a single needle mark on her arm when I helped her down the hallway; nor was she pale and sickly looking like the posters and commercials.

Sighing his frustration out through his nostrils, he stood under the shower and cleansed the suds off him. He bent over and grabbed the shampoo and conditioner, applying it to his shaggy brown hair. Scrubbing his head with his fingers, he calmed down, eyes closing as he softly massaged his scalp.

Octavia awoke a few hours later to an amazing smell wafting through the house. She blushed as her stomach grumbled, and she slid off the bed and onto the floor, not trusting her legs to hold her upright as her benefactor’s did. Instead, she crawled down the hallway, taking great big whiffs as she went, her mouth watering at the aroma.

When she got to the kitchen, she found the young stallion standing before an oven, a plate being filled with eggs and strips that looked like hay bacon, but a rich brown-red instead of golden-yellow. “What are you making, sir? It smells ever so good.” She took another deep breath and ‘mmmed’ in satisfaction. “One might even say that it smells divine.”

Henry had prepared for the question, and pointed towards the open-slate picture-paper thing he’d had the night before. “It’s bacon and eggs,” it read.

“Oh, I don’t think I’ve ever partook of bacon before. If it tastes as it smells, though, I shall undoubtedly come to like it.” Henry smiled and put a couple pieces of bacon onto the plate and put it on the dining room table. Then, without waiting to be asked, he bent down and helped Octavia to her hindlegs, despite the obvious discomfort he had with her being naked. Am I ugly, perhaps? Octavia blushed and thanked him for his help.

“Pardon me for not doing so earlier, but what is your name?” The stallion grabbed his device and erased the words on it before typing more in their place.

“My name is Henry. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Octavia.” He held out his hand in greeting which she shook with practiced professional ease.

Octavia smiled, fluttering her eyelashes coquettishly. “My my, what a gentlecolt! But please don’t call me ‘Miss,’ it makes me feel like an old nag and I’ll have none of that, I assure you.” Octavia looked at the utensils sitting next to her plate and lost her smile. Poking at the fork for a second, she instead leaned down and nibbled at a strip of bacon. “Mmmm!”

Henry made a small noise in the back of his throat, and tapped Octavia on the shoulder to get her to look at his tablet. “Are you enjoying your meal?” he asked, noticing with how much gusto she was eating into it; literally.

Octavia had to say that yes, while it was hard to eat the eggs and bacon with only her mouth is was definitely delicious. “Oh, it’s amazing, Henry. Though I must say that I’m a bit embarrassed; I do not think I have the capability to practice correct table manners at this moment in time. I’m...” Octavia grimaced, her blush making the darker expression nonetheless cute. “I am unable to pick up my utensils.”

Henry got up abruptly, startling Octavia, and came over to sit by her. He picked up the fork, stabbed at a bit of egg, and held it up for Octavia to eat. Octavia blushed, but ate as prompted. She moaned in delight; these eggs were better than the ones Vinyl sometimes made!

“Mmm, you must be a chef if you can make eggs of all things taste this good!” Henry blushed and shook his head, “No? You just cook as a hobby then, I assume.” Henry went to shake his head again, but stopped and instead shrugged.

Putting down Octavia’s fork, Henry reached over and grabbed his tablet again. “I have to cook for myself a lot of the time, people don’t have the patience to deal with a guy who has to type out everything he wants to say.”

“Well, then let me be the one who tells you that you are simply the finest gentlecolt I have met in quite a long time.” She sniffed haughtily, “Much better than those stuffy, frou-frou hooligans who consider themselves the ‘elite’ up in Canterlot. I might be a mare of poise and good manners— when I am capable of exhibiting them— but that does not mean that I enjoy watching a bunch of fat-walleted ponies prance around and fatten themselves further on the fruits of the blue collar ponies of Equestria have worked so hard to accrue, and then get next to nothing for it. It is simply unethical.”

Henry let out a small trilling sound at the back of his throat, his eyes sparkling with mirth as he shook from silent laughter. Letting out a small sigh, he picked up Octavia’s fork again and helped her to eat once more, before the time came to leave.

“I’m sorry, Octavia, but I must leave you alone at this time. I’ll set you up with a pitcher of ice water and some snacks. Would you be more comfortable back in bed, or here in the living room?”

“I’ll probably be laying down for the time being if you must leave, so I might rather enjoy the warmth and comfort of your bed.” Octavia blushed. “If that’s fine by you, of course.”

Henry smiled, and helped her up.

Henry looked out past the windshield of the Hyundai Elantra GT his father had insisted on gifting him for his birthday, the matte black hood mutely bouncing back light. He drummed a beat on the steering wheel as he drove up the long hill that lead to “Milford Community College.” If any words could describe it, contemporary and boat-like would suffice. The building was very wide and consisted of six stories. From the front, the building looked like a ship with large smokestacks, a deck, and a lower level. The young man sighed as he pulled up to a parking space in the back of the campus, quickly grabbing his bag and power walking up the rest of the rather large hill before entering through the side door and heading to his Music Hall class.

As he entered, he avoided making eye contact with any of his classmates and took a seat, hoping that they’d all just ignore him again today. He wondered what Octavia was up to. It’d only been a half an hour since he’d left, but who knew what could happen in such a short amount of time? What if she was injured? What if someone had broken in? What if— “Hey, Mutey Beauty!” called a mocking voice from his side as he took a seat.

Oh Gods... he thought, Not him again! Henry had a hard time keeping the irritation from showing up on his face.

“Aww, what’sa matter, Mute? I thought you loved hangin’ out with me. What was that? Aww, Little Mutey’s got a song he wants to sing! Doesn’t that sound great, lefty?”

Oh, great... He’s talking to his fists again. Henry whimpered to himself. Why can’t he just leave me alone?

“Yeah, lefty wants to hear you sing, Mutey, or you’re gonna be in a world a hurt. Righty doesn’t like it when Lefty gets sad!”

“Keene Tanker, please come up to my desk.” Henry visibly relaxed as his teacher, Ms. Reynolds, walked into the room. Keene walked over to the teacher’s desk, a small waver in his step. Ms. Reynolds looked Keene up and down, before leaning in slightly and sniffing. “You’re drunk. You know the rules, Keene. This is my time as well as your time, and I do not deal with drunks. Please, get out of my class.”

Ms. Reynolds walked up to the chalkboard as Keene stumbled out the door, giving the class the finger as he did so. Ms. Reynolds shook her head and sighed as she began the next lesson in music.

“Now, then. Good morning everyone. I'm very glad to see all of you in class today. This week’s lesson deals with Clefs, Treble Clefs, and Bass. To get a good musical chord, you need to understand the basic language of music. The octave, pitch, and tone...”

As his teacher droned into another tedious lesson on the differences between a B Minor played in Counter bevel C, or whatever they were called, Henry’s thoughts once again slipped away from him, running all the way back home.

Octavia snuggled deeper into the comforter, the blanket quickly living up to its name as she relaxed into its deep embrace. She let her eyes drift lazily around the bedroom- Henry’s bedroom- as her face lit up with a small smile. He’s got one of those electronic pianos, like Vinyl. I wonder if they enjoy similar music? Yes, I bet Henry and Vinyl would- Octavia sat bolt upright in the bed, panic drowning the smile that had taken residence there only moments before. “Vinyl! Oh, oh dear, how is she taking this? Oh, I really hope she’s alright. She... No, of course she’s alright, Octavia, haha! Just listen to yourself! This is Vinyl Scratch we’re talking about, the mare who played at Princess Cadance’s Royal Wedding, and... And cried when her pet hamster died, and I had had to hold her for hours before she finally slept, and... and oh dear Luna...” Octavia couldn’t help it as her eyes began to water. “Vinyl’s all alone. She... I was practically the only pony she ever hung out with! I was practically her only friend! I just... I just... No! I didn’t abandon her, I... I just need to get back to her, that’s all! No big d-deal!” Octavia choked out another sob, trying to stop herself from freaking out. “N-no big deal at all...”

Octavia looked at the clock as the minute changed silently, the letters glowing a soft red that was oh-so close to her friend’s eyes. I’ll find a way back, Vinyl... I promise.

“Can anyone answer my question?” His music history teacher asked as he paced the front of the class. “How about you Mr. Westñaire?” He asked. The teacher wouldn’t normally call on him, but he was, at this point, the only student not paying attention.

Henry paid him no mind as he distractedly wrote sheet music in his notebook, trying not to get too worried over how Octavia was doing in regards to coping with her situa—

A frustrated sigh caught his attention as he looked at his teacher’s rather annoyed scowl. "I know that you cannot speak, Mister Westñaire, but I had assumed that you could still hear," his teacher remarked snidely, much to the amusement of the class as Henry sunk lower in his chair in an attempt to hide the embarrassment clear on his face.

As soon as the class let out, he waited for everyone to leave before trying to make a beeline for the door when a cough stopped him.

“Mr. Westñaire, I sincerely hope you’ll be paying more attention from now on if you don’t want your grade in this class to slip.” he warned.

Henry gave him a curt nod and hurried out through a side corridor towards the back exit, hoping not to run into anyone as he made his way to his car before driving home.

As Henry walked into his home, he set his bag down on the table by the door and walked into the living room, hanging his hoodie up on the coat rack. Walking into the kitchen, he grabbed himself a glass of water, and then noticed how eerily quiet it was. Once he polished off his his glass, he set it down on the counter and quietly walked upstairs into his room to find Octavia sprawled out on his bed shaking, a barely audible sniffling escaping her.

He took off his shoes and approached her, softly pulling her into a hug as he laid down next to her; looking at her worriedly.

Octavia sniffed as she buried her head into the cusp of his shoulder, keening slightly as she instinctively tried to whinny with vocal chords not meant to do so. “I-I’m sorry, Henry, I-I am extremely sorry, I do not know what has c-come over m-me,” Octavia said shakily, her voice raspy like a leaf brushing against stone.

Henry rubbed her back soothingly, and pulled out his smartphone, typing out a message on it. “It’s alright, Octavia. I’d probably be just as bad if not worse if I was thrown into an unfamiliar environment.” He gave her a light squeeze, humming softly as he rocked her back and forth. He quickly typed in another line of text on his smartphone. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Octavia nodded,rubbing at her eyes with the back of her fetlock. “Y-yes, o-of course. Well, a little while after you’d left, I was looking around your room, and your keyboard reminded me of a dear friend of mine, my roommate, Vinyl Scratch. She’s a DJ, always working with some new electronic tune or another. She looks so strong up on stage, but when she’s not wearing her shades, she’s... naked. And I don’t mean that she’s not wearing clothes; only aristoponies wear clothes with any regularity. No, I mean that her tough, party-hard exterior just melts away, leaving a young mare who can’t stand to see the bad parts in life.” Octavia sniffed, giggling as a memory scampered through her mind.

“I’d gotten her a hamster for her birthday one year, and she loved that little fuzzball. She had one of those pet balls she’d put him in, and she’d go out for walks with him, levitating him whenever he started getting tired. She never let him miss a meal, he was always in good health. Which is why, when he died, it was that much worse for Vinyl. It took her hours of crying and apologizing to me before she finally found sleep. I stayed with her every night for a week.”

Octavia rubbed at her eyes again.”Then, she pulled out the shades, and DJ Pon-3 was… ‘in the house,’ as she said, and Vinyl was once again locked behind a wall of uncaring happiness and alcohol. She never drank without her shades, only ever drank with them, whether she was wearing them or not, they had to be close at hoof before she’d drink.”

Henry cradled her in his arms as he continued to rock her back and forth, gently humming a tune; her panic becoming tired mumblings, his gentle motions soon carrying her into a deep sleep. Laying her out on the bed, he pulled the covers over her, parting her bangs to place a soft kiss on her forehead before grabbing himself a pillow and blanket. Slowly tiptoeing out of the room, he went to the living room and made himself comfortable on the couch, wrapping the blanket around him. Soon after, he was embraced by a dreamless sleep.