• Published 12th Apr 2013
  • 6,746 Views, 557 Comments

Millie - totallynotabrony

In the underworld of Equestria, one mysterious pony is fearfully whispered about. Only Vinyl and Octavia know why he left a trail of destruction through the criminal ranks. Now he's back, and, well...not a he anymore.

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Chapter 2

“Rave Beatz electronic club” turned out to be a surprisingly descriptive name. The outside of the building was exactly what you would expect from such an establishment. The date on the DJ PON3 poster outside matched the date I’d seen on the newspaper. It was still afternoon, however, and I had a couple of hours to spend before the show began. Not that I was going to get in. It wasn’t a free show.

“But I know her?” I tried, lamely. The large stallion outside the front door did not seem impressed.

I tried going around the back where a musician might enter covertly, but more club bouncers were there. It looked like I was in for a long wait.

I walked the block around the club aimlessly for a while. A jewelry shop on the corner had a gem-encrusted mirror on display in the window. I was able to get a good look at my face.

The first thing that jumped out at me was how young I looked. Not that I had much experience with judging pony ages, but I guessed that I might have been mistaken for a teenager. I figured it could have something to do with inhabiting a brand new body with no wrinkles or blemishes to be found. Perhaps that’s also why a mare stopped me in the street earlier to compliment me on the quality of my hooficure – new hooves that had never been scuffed.

My eyes were a mild amber color that was nowhere near the shade they were when I was a man. I shuddered a little at that. I may have adjusted to pony pronouns, but using “she” for myself was a frightening thought.

I found a good place to park my posterior beside the Rave Beatz building. I leaned against the wall, reluctantly committed to waiting. Night was falling, and I felt a thump of bass tremble the brick and mortar as the show started. Not having the instinctive ear control of a native pony, I had to tilt my whole head closer to the wall to hear better.

The sound was muffled and fuzzy, but I could still make out distinct melodies. Or whatever Vinyl called them. Electronic was not really my preferred genre, but the excited cheers of ponies filling the club seemed to indicate that they enjoyed it.

After a few minutes I leaned my head back and looked up at the stars that were beginning to appear in the night sky. The temperature had dropped a little further and I shivered slightly.

I thought about my plan. Step one was talking to Vinyl to get her help. Step two was going to Canterlot. Step three was getting somepony to send me home. Simple. At least I hoped it would be.

A faint tune carried through the wall. I noted something familiar about it and listened a little harder. A smile came to my lips, the first one I’d worn all day. I recognized the song, and in fact it was one of my favorites. Contentedly, I hummed along. The electronic remix was without lyrics, but I provided them. In the town where I was born, there lived a man who sailed to sea... The sound blended almost seamlessly into the next song, a tribute to Vinyl’s mixing.

I was quite glad to get up from the cold sidewalk when the show was finally over. I didn’t know how long it would take Vinyl to exit the building, but I stood by the back door impatiently.

Maybe half an hour of anxious waiting later, the doors opened and Vinyl came out with a pushcart full of electronic equipment. She was a white unicorn with an excessively styled mane the color of blue electrical sparks. Her cutie mark was rather plain by comparison, a black music note. Even at night, she wore large purple sunglasses. I remembered that they had been enchanted with a night vision spell to help Vinyl see her DJ equipment in dark clubs.

There were several security ponies around giving me unkind looks as I tried to approach. I called out, “Hey Vinyl! I really liked that cover of Yellow Submarine!”

She glanced at me, traces of confusion showing on her face. She stopped walking, though. “Where did you hear the original?”

“It was a couple of months ago. You, me, and Octavia listened to it before I had to go home.”

Vinyl had taken a step away from the security ponies. Her voice sounded skeptical. “Are you sure? Because sister, you don’t look like anypony I’ve ever seen before.”

“I didn’t look like this last time. It’s kind of an unwelcome surprise, but I got stuck in Equestria again.”

Vinyl tilted her head. “Are you—?”

My face flushed. “Uh, yeah. I used to be a guy.”

The nearest bouncer took a step backwards in surprise, which was a good thing because Vinyl leaped forward and wrapped me in an enthusiastic hug. “Oh my gosh, Miller! What’s up, dude? What are you doing here?”

I was actually surprised at the turnaround in her attitude. To be fair, after we met for the first time and I convinced her that I was only temporarily stuck in the shape of a pony, she’d been very accepting. Of course, it might have helped that she was a junkie back then.

Vinyl pulled back to get a look at me. I was glad. Somehow, this stupid body was an inch or two shorter than she was and her hug felt like I was being smothered.

Vinyl asked, “Seriously, what happened to you? I mean, I knew you were kind of a strange guy, but…”

“I didn’t get a choice in the matter,” I said brusquely. “I’m also not here by my own free will either. I need your help to get home. Er, again.”

Vinyl looked around as if remembering where she was. Gesturing at me, she spoke to the security detail. “Millie’s just a crazy old friend of mine. She likes to surprise me like this.”

“Don’t call me—” I tried to protest, but Vinyl was already pulling me back towards her cart of music gear.

“You fellas can take the rest of the night off,” said Vinyl. “I can handle my stuff, and Millie can kick anypony’s tail who needs it.”

I thought her confidence might have been misplaced, but decided to keep my mouth shut this time. The two of us headed away from the building, pushing the cart.

“Wow, this is crazy,” murmured Vinyl, using a lower voice now that we were alone. “You’re a mare.”

“Want to point out anything else horrifyingly obvious?” I grumbled. “I didn’t ask for this. On top of that, I have to learn how to be a unicorn. I have no idea how magic works. This sucks.”

“Hey now, I’m also a unicorn mare.”

“But you’ve never been a pegasus stallion or a human man,” I pointed out.

Vinyl nodded. “Touché. So now that you’re back, what are you going to do now?”

“Get home as fast as possible. I’ve already been here for most of a day. My wife will be worried sick. The last time I came to Equestria, I was declared a missing person and presumed dead.”

“Wow.” Vinyl seemed humbled. “I’m sorry. I guess last time you didn’t know what was going on back at your home planet, so you could at least pretend everything was okay.”

I didn’t know if Equestria was in some other dimension from Earth, or even if that explanation was remotely close to correct. Vinyl was convinced that I was some sort of space alien, and for all I knew that might be the truth.

“Maybe I would feel better about it if I knew how this happened a second time,” I said.

She glanced at me. “What do you remember?”

“That’s the problem – nothing! I can’t think of a single detail about what transported me between the two places.”

“Huh.” Vinyl considered that. “Well, you at least know who to talk to in Canterlot, right?”

“I suppose. I guess if I show up and tell them who I am, that should work.” Maybe they have a warranty on faulty cross-universe transportation?

We walked in silence for a little while. I looked around. “Where are we going?”

“I have to drop this stuff off at the train station to be put in the baggage car,” answered Vinyl. “I’m leaving for Canterlot on the ten a.m. train. After that, I was going back to my hotel room.”

“Not to impose, but can I stay with you?” I really was not keen on sleeping outside, especially with the temperature. Just then, my stomach growled.

Vinyl noticed, and gave me a big grin. “Let’s just get this stuff put away and we’ll eat. I always get hungry after shows.”

After stopping by the station, we headed to a 24-hour diner. The food was not top quality, but after going hungry all day I was not picky. The chef with his unkempt mane and greasy apron was not exactly a model of class, but he looked surprised to see a pink mare wolfing veggie burgers and hay fries.

The food was tasty, for vegetarian fare. I talked with Vinyl between bites. Three months ago, I thought I would never be in Equestria again. While I was glad to see my friend once more, the nag of going home stayed fresh in my mind. Despite my own problems, I inquired about her wellbeing.

Vinyl shifted uncomfortably in her seat. We both knew what I was really asking. “I got a few local gigs, and things progressed to stuff like this show in Manehattan. Everything’s been pretty good. Octavia checked up on me from time to time.”

When I first met Vinyl, she was up to her ears in debt to a drug ring. It wasn’t easy, but she’d gotten out. I trusted her, but I would hate to see her get pulled back in.

“How’s Octavia?” I asked. She was the mare who owned the apartment building where Vinyl lived and where I had stayed briefly. Octavia was also a fellow musician, although her tastes clashed horribly with Vinyl’s.

“Oh,” said Vinyl, her voice flat. “I haven’t seen Octavia in a month. She sold the building.”

“Really? What’s she doing now?”

“I heard she used the money to buy a jazz club here in Manehattan.” Vinyl shrugged. Her sudden shift in attitude confused me, but I didn’t ask.

She paid the bill and I thanked her for dinner. We walked through the chilly air towards her hotel. I discovered that there was only one bed in the room.

“It’s fine,” I said. “Carpeted floors aren’t so bad once you get used to them.”

“The nerve, kicking a mare out of the bed she paid for!”

I sputtered, “No, I meant that for me!”

Vinyl grinned, pleased with her well-played joke. “Seriously, it’s not a big deal. I know you’re loyal to your wife and I’m not into mares.”

“I’m not a mare.”

Vinyl shrugged. “Hormones beg to differ. Sleep tight, Millie.”

She took off her sunglasses for the first time that night and placed them on the bedside table. Vinyl’s eyes were a striking shade of red that seemed a little out of place, even with the way most ponies were vibrantly colored. She pulled back the bedsheets and looked at me pointedly. I rolled my eyes and climbed in.

While I think I can be excused due to the situation, sharing a bed with a sapient creature I wasn’t married to raised all kinds of interesting issues. Luckily, I was tired from the late hour plus walking around all day, and dropped off to sleep almost immediately.

Vinyl was still snoring when I woke up in the morning. A little sunlight drifted in through the curtains. The clock beside the bed said it was almost eight. Two hours until the train left. I couldn’t stand to wait, but couldn’t think of a way to pass the time, either.

Feeling me move, Vinyl opened her eyes. She moaned a little and rolled over. “Still kinda early.”

“Can’t go back to sleep,” I replied. “Too much on my mind.”

Vinyl made a noncommittal noise.

“I had an idea,” I said. “You mentioned Octavia had moved to Manehattan.”

Vinyl turned over again to look at me. “Yeah.”

“Not that I want to delay going home, but if the train doesn’t leave until ten, I’d like to at least say hello to her.” Something made me add, “If that’s all right with you.”

Vinyl paused a moment and then began to drag herself out of bed. “Okay.”

She put on her sunglasses and got ready for the day. The two of us went downstairs and Vinyl settled the bill. I made sure to thank her again for helping me out.

“It’s all right, dude.” She smiled “I kind of owe you.”

There were several ways Vinyl might have meant that but I put it out of my mind, more concerned with her attitude this morning. Despite her cheerful conversation, she seemed a little displeased. I couldn’t figure out why.

The morning air was less frigid with the help of the sun. We walked a couple of blocks to a two-story building nestled among taller, more modern structures. The exterior seemed like it could have been classy once, but it had faded and there was a little peeling paint and wear. Really, it didn’t look that bad if you squinted, and it looked better than the apartment building Octavia used to own. A sign over the door announced the name of the club as The Metronome.

“Here it is,” said Vinyl. She stopped.

I put a hoof on the door to go inside, turning back to her. “Aren’t you coming?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Stepping inside, my eyes had to adjust to the dim lights. The place was deserted, which was probably what I should have expected from a jazz club in the early morning. A slick-looking stallion wearing a trim vest and matching tie approached us from around the bar. His mane was groomed and he wore a thin mustache. I thought he looked familiar.

Pausing in front of us, he nodded. “Ms. Scratch.” His tone was polite, nothing more or less.

“Hello Iridium,” said Vinyl. “Is Octavia around? There’s somepony here who wants to meet her.”

Oh, right. Iridium used to work at a different jazz club in Canterlot. Maybe Octavia had hired him. He nodded, again merely polite. “I’ll get her.”

As Iridium departed, I couldn’t contain my curiosity any more. Speaking quietly to Vinyl, I asked, “Is there something going on between you and Octavia?”

She didn’t immediately answer. If it weren’t for her sunglasses, I might have been more effective at reading her expression. Vinyl finally replied, “Octavia doesn’t live in Canterlot anymore. She just packed up and left. You left her in charge of me, remember?”

During my last visit to Equestria, Vinyl had run afoul of the wrong kind of ponies. I can’t really sugarcoat it; she was hospitalized after a bad trip. Octavia, as her landlord, had every right to kick her out. Instead, she’d taken it upon herself to see Vinyl get better. Or so I thought.

Iridium returned with a female earth pony. She was two shades of grey, with lavender eyes and a treble clef cutie mark of the same color. Like Vinyl, she had a few inches of height on me. She looked at the two of us with cautious curiosity.

“Hi Octavia,” I said, stepping forward. “This is kind of weird, but here I am in Equestria again. It’s me, Miller.”

Octavia blinked in surprise, but to her credit took my statement at face value. After a moment anyway. Seconds passed as emotions played across her face before she regained some control. “Iridium, could you give us a moment please?”

The stallion stepped away without a word, although I thought I saw a question in his expression. Octavia cut her eyes between me and Vinyl. “That’s it? Here you are? I take it there’s more to this story?”

“Er, not really,” I said. “It’s pretty much the same bad deal as last time.”

She looked down from my eyes at the rest of my body. “What about the part where you turned into a mare?”

Except for that,” I said. I smiled weakly. “I was hoping it was so obvious that I could just let it go without a comment. Please, I’d rather not talk about it.”

Octavia shifted slightly, looking as uncomfortable as I was with the subject. “Well, it’s good to see you again, although I take it you didn’t intend to come here a second time?”

I nodded. “You’re right. I’m going to fix that, though. The train to Canterlot leaves at ten.”

“That leaves us a bit of time. Would you care for some tea, Miller?”

“Millie,” said Vinyl. It was the first time she had spoken since Octavia had appeared. I saw the two of them lock eyes.

“Are you really going to keep calling me that?” I broke in. “I thought we agreed that I’m supposed to be a guy.”

“Well, whatever you’re called, I should probably get you to the train station,” replied Vinyl. The purple lenses on her face concealed where she was looking, but I got the distinct feeling that she was gazing unkindly at Octavia.

“Nice to see you again, Octavia,” I called as Vinyl ushered me out the door.

“You too,” said Octavia.

Outside, Vinyl turned towards the train station. I glanced at her. “What was that all about?”

“We’re going to be late,” she said tersely.

I wanted to say something. I felt like I should. Vinyl’s reminder of getting to Canterlot pulled my mind in a different direction, however, and I kept my mouth shut. We went the rest of the way to the train station in silence.

The station was packed with ponies, many more than had been there the previous night. At the ticket window, we found out that all remaining seats aboard the train had been sold.

“What are we going to do?” My voice sounded uncomfortably high and panicked.

“Take my ticket, dude. This is important to you.” Vinyl held the ticket out to me with magic.

“Are you sure?” She nodded. I took the ticket in my mouth and dropped it into the bundle of personal effects I wore around my neck. “I mean, how are you going to—”

“I’ll just buy another one later.” Vinyl grinned. “Jeeze Millie, does your wife always have this much trouble with you?”

I thought I saw a passing stallion glance curiously in our direction at the mention of a mare having a wife. I shrugged it off. “Thank you so much.”

Vinyl pulled me into a hug which I returned. It was good to know somepony from a completely different world had my back, but somewhat bittersweet because the second time around I would try to make sure I didn’t come back again.

Vinyl got her stuff out of the baggage car and waved goodbye as I boarded the train. With a whistle blast, the engine pulled the string of cars out of the station and began to pick up speed on the way to Canterlot. The trip would take a few hours, and I settled back to relax. At some point, I must have fallen asleep.

I awoke on my back, staring at the sky. Sitting up, I discovered that I was once again on the bench in Manehattan. Shots of confusion and panic went through me as I scrambled to stand up. Catching sight of a small scrap of paper nestled in my bundle of clothes, I pulled it out and checked the writing on it. The message was as short as it was mysterious.

Don’t leave town.