Perfect Pitch

by Wolfie 03

First published

Vinyl Scratch is going to college, learning new ways to enjoy music and the company of others. Can she get over her past to get along with her new roommate and fellow A Cappella singers?

Vinyl Scratch wants to put the past behind her as she starts her new life at Equestria United Community College. But can she overcome that past to get along with her new classically inclined roommate Octavia and learn new ways to enjoy and express music with the Equestrian Girls, the local A Cappella group of EUCC?

Yes, I know, it sounds an awful lot like some other american movie *cough cough* Pitch Perfect *cough cough*, but I couldn't help it! I watched the movie, all I thought of was that Beca was their DJ, and we had our own. So while I did get a lot of inspiration from the movie, this will have a few of it's own twists and turns.

Two side-notes to make: One, thanks to Gwg for the editing and some suggestions for this story! Two, this story takes place in the same universe as the rest of my stories, but happens 4 years before Twilight first comes to Ponyville. ENJOY!
EDIT: Yes, I've added the 'sex' tag.
SPOILER: Nothing explicit, but they get real cuddly and friendly towards the end.

There is a collection of pictures of the rest of the A Cappella team, which can be found here. Just the OC team members though, the others have rather nice pictures made by Dhx and Hasbro.

Also, I can't help but ship. I'm a romantic at heart, and I like TaviScratch. As always, please comment or message me if you give it a thumbs down, I like to learn about what went wrong.

Also also, it's been a very long time since I've done much musical stuff (I was in band for 5 years until 4 years ago) so please forgive me/excuse me if I get something wrong, and feel free to point it out by comment or message. Thanks!

The start of something new

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College; where ponies young and old can go to learn new ways of life. There are many places one can learn, from the prestigious Canterlot University of Magical Achievements, to small town community colleges.

But the one that had the most to offer while still being a community college was Equestria United Community College. It was nestled in the hills south of Canterlot and Ponyville. It started out as a small college but had long since grown to the size of a town.

It offered all the usual majors (Art, Science, Math, Equestrian, Magic, etc), some of the more specific majors (Journalism, Agriculture, and Clowning to name a few), as well as job preparation classes for those going into the job market (new or looking for a change and everything in between).

Having such diverse courses brought more students which caused the dorms to grow, and food and supply stores flocked to the needy students which all contributed to the growth of the college into a self-sustaining town-like place. It also helped when the more specialized majors had long term projects and activities (like the Agriculture majors grew a lot of fresh fruits and veggies that they sold on campus).

And while the college grew, it kept its small building size so that nothing would be in danger of the natural elements. The campus became a wide spread of buildings one story high that were arranged by major.

It is in this town-like campus that our story begins with a new arrival.

She was a young mare from lower Manehattan who had gotten into the college on a scholarship for her musical talents. As she looked at the music dorms before her, the world only saw a confident white unicorn with short spiky two-toned blue mane and tail with a large set of glasses that hid her eyes from view. She had a black backwards double quaver as her cutie mark, though most were distracted from the majority of her features by the sight of her glasses and blue and black headphones around her neck.

While the unicorn didn't mind her cerise eyes, she had been told that in conjunction with her white coat or whenever she became angry, her eyes would seem demon red.

What the world couldn't see was that even as the unicorn oozed confidence, she was slightly nervous about this extremely large place and how others would react to her skills. She had gotten a new look to go with her change of life and she wasn't use to the shorter style of her mane and tail yet.

She was also nervous about who she would be rooming with. She had shared rooms and places with others before and it always ended badly for her. The college did have the students fill out personality tests and use both science and magic to pair up the best roommates, it didn't mean that it was foolproof.

(Come on Vinyl! At least step away from the train, it can't be that bad...) Vinyl Scratch gathered all her belongings with her magic, causing all of it to have a light blue hue as she and other new arrivals stepped off the train.

The college was so large it had its own private train that traveled all around the campus and to the nearby towns. This made traveling easier for the students and for those coming in and out of the school boundaries.

Vinyl made her way to the dorms for those majoring in any kind of music. The dorms were painted different colors as the multiple buildings were lined up side by side, looking almost like military barricades aside from personal touches that softened its look. Each dorm held two hundred students who would share a room. The rooms were lined up on either side of the buildings, with odd numbered rooms on one side and even numbers on the other.

Vinyl checked the information packet given to her and saw that she was in Green 113; which was the one farthest from the main classrooms, of course.

Vinyl made her way through the crowd, never once showing nervousness as she watched her possible classmates run around like confused chickens, trying to gather all their stuff and find their way around.

As the white unicorn walked through a forum that was before her dorm she noticed how the various clubs already were trying to recruit new members. Vinyl started to make mental notes of what was available for those interested in just music. Her scholarship required that she join at least two clubs, one with a direct correlation to her major and one to expand her knowledge base.

As she walked on, she passed an all stallion singing group who were showing off their A Cappella skills. She snorted at their antics while rolling her eyes, though no one saw it due to her glasses. While the stallions were trying to intimidate/impress others, Vinyl carefully made her way around them to be able to reach the door to her dorm.

Once inside, she began the trek through the dorm hallway, where she had to dodge both moving ponies and parents as they settled the students into the rooms they would be using for the next few years.

(107... 109... 111... 113, here we go.)

As Vinyl opened the door with her magic, her stuff floating behind her, she paused at the sight before her.

A light gray with a dark gray mane and tail earth pony with a pink treble clef cutie mark was making final adjustments to her desk before turning to the door when she heard it open. The two ponies took in each other's appearances, while Vinyl also looked at how her new roommate had decorated her side of the room.

Every room had a bed, a set of drawers and a desk with three drawers along the side, along with some shelving on the walls where hopefully text books would rest.

The earth pony had sombre toned sheets on the bed, various different instruments hanging on the wall (violin, trumpet, saxophone, and a double bass that rested half on the wall and half on the floor) and her desk was already covered in musical scores faded with time but still well cared for.

The gray pony wanted to put her best hoof forward and decided to ignore the other's more radical look.

“Greetings, my name is Octavia. Are you my roommate?”

Vinyl managed to close her mouth as she blinked at the greeting.

“Not that it's going to matter, but I'm Vinyl. And there has to be some kind of mistake, there's no way we are roommates. These staff ponies must be crazy to think that this whole thing would work. So don't get use to me being here, 'cause I'm going to get a room change.” Octavia frowned a little at Vinyl's tone of voice and outright dismissal.

“Well, I doubt that they allow for switching roommates on the first day back but you are welcome to try. Perhaps I could get a roommate who would be civil and pleasant to be around.” Octavia humphed as she stood suddenly. Vinyl was a little surprised at the sudden movement and stepped aside as the gray mare walked out of the room.

“I have duties I must attend to. Good day Vinyl. Good luck with changing rooms.”

Vinyl felt a little bad, she had been a little rude, but she could feel that they wouldn't get along at all....

(… or we'd get along great... Shut up brain, don't you remember what happened with the last classical music pony? Yeah, Nightmare Moon's rebellion was a sprinkle of rain compared to the hurricane of a disaster that was. Just find that Dorm Manager and switch rooms...) With that the white unicorn turned around and went in search of higher powers.

After getting turned around a couple of times, Vinyl finally found the Dorm Manager. She was an earth pony with navy blue mane and tail and a light-pink coat whose lantern around her neck proclaimed that her name was Tutti Fruitti, along with the cutie mark of a blue bass clef.

“Hi, I need to change rooms.” Vinyl demanded in a short manner as she stepped in front of the earth pony.

The Dorm Manager got a lot of those kinds of complaint and put on her professional smile.

“And why is that?” She asked gently, sure of what the answer was going to be.

“'Cause there ain't no way a DJ and a classical pony could never get along, let alone share a room!” Tutti Fruitti sighed, just as she had thought.

“We have ponies come to us every year saying if not the same thing then something similar to it. Trust me when I say that this system works wonders.”

“And trust me when I say that I've shared places with classical ponies before and it back fired on me badly.” Vinyl gave the pony before her a bland look as Tutti sighed once more before pulling a clip board over to them.

“Your name?”

“Vinyl Scratch.”

Tutti exclaimed in realization.

“Ah yes, here we go. That was taken into consideration when you two were paired up. Octavia has never had a roommate before so this will help the both of you. And besides, we have a 'no-switching' policy, there's nothing we can do. Why not get to know her first before making any rash decisions?” Vinyl frowned thoughtfully as she absorbed the news.

“Fine. But I still don't think it will work.”

Tutti Fruitti smiled smugly as the DJ walked back to her room. She made a note on her clipboard to check in on the pair after a month's time to see how it was going.

After placing her meager belongings away Vinyl decided to get a better look at the clubs and look for a part time job while she was at it. So she walked back outside to the forum as she began to look about her new 'home'.

The crowd outside hadn't lessened, though instead of rushing to get settled everyone was looking at the various clubs. The all stallion group were still performing and half a block farther down were two upper-class mares that glared at the stallions and argued amongst themselves.

Vinyl would have kept on going until she noticed that one of the mares was her roommate. She figured she should at least get to to know the gray mare's hobbies a little if they were stuck together for a while.

As the white unicorn walked up to the pair they both stopped talking and put on professional smiles. Though once Octavia saw who it was her demeanor took on a frostier tone. The other pony shot Octavia a confused look before facing Vinyl once more.

“Hi, welcome to E.U.C.C., home to the Equestrian Girls! Would you be interested in auditioning?” The DJ noticed how the cream-coated, long blue-maned earth pony was a little tense and gave a small smile in return, taking quick note of the green quarter note with fermata over it on her flank.

“A Cappella?”

“Yes! We're one of the top groups here in E.U.C.C.. There's the High Notes, they aren't rather motivated...” The slightly older mare waved a hoof towards a group who sat leisurely under some trees nearby.

“Then there's the Hidden Potentials, they do a lot of alternative music....” Another hoof wave pointed out a group of ponies who were huddled in a closely together as they looked at the other students.

“There's also the … Treble Makers...” At this both mares glared at the stallions who had just finished their performance.

“And us, the Equestrian Girls. It's very much a 'thing' right now to do whole songs using only your voice. I'm Claire Bell and this is -” Octavia cut Claire off with a wave of her hoof.

“We've met.” Claire raised a brow at the unusual behavior of the gray pony, but decided to wait till later to comment on it.

Vinyl dipped her head towards the coal-black maned pony in acknowledgment.

“That we have. And while I don't mind telling you that I'm Vinyl, I will say this. Ain't no way in Tarturus that I'm joining A Cappella! I'm a DJ, I need tech to make proper music. Hay, even classical stuff is better than this!” Vinyl explained with laughter in her voice.

Octavia, having heard Vinyl be rude like this before, wasn't too shocked. Claire, however, looked like she was just told that there was no such thing as music.

“A ca-scuse me? It takes just as much if not more effort to sing A Cappella than DJing!” She huffed as she glared at the unicorn, who had raised a hoof to wave reassuringly to the uppity mare.

“Relax! I'm sure it's the thing for you but it's not for me. I'll see you later Octy.” Vinyl smirked as she left to look at more of the clubs.

“OCTY?!” Octavia shouted in shock as the white unicorn left, while Claire turned to the distraught mare next to her for an explanation of what the hay had happened before.

Vinyl chuckled as she looked around. While nothing stood out at first, she was able to get a job at a local record store, which promised to be interesting at the very least. She was told to come by the first thing in the morning the next day so that they could figure out scheduling. It was going to be odd to work at a store called '33 & 1/3', especially since they sold tapes, CDs and even DVDs as well as vinyl records.

As the white unicorn continued to walk around, looking for anything that wasn't completely lame to join (she was holding out the small hope of a DJ related club), she noticed a younger pink mare bouncing along the sidewalk. Vinyl watched as the mare's darker pink mane kept it's fluffy, bouncy state even as the mare began to zip (how the hay is she zipping?) around, greeting anypony who made eye contact. Which means that Vinyl couldn't help but make eye contact with the odd pony who zoomed up and leaned towards her.

“HI! I'm Pinkie Pie! What's your name?” Pinkie grinned at the mare before her as Vinyl blinked a few times (again, not that anypony was able to see it due to her glasses).

“Hello... Pinkie Pie? I'm Vinyl Scratch.” Vinyl gave a small smirk as the pink mare closed her eyes and bounced in excitement. While it was with great difficulty, Vinyl was just able to make out a trio of balloons on the hyper mare's flank, two yellow surrounding a blue one.

“Oh good! I was starting to think I was speaking in Cowhili, nopony else was answering! What are you here to learn Vinyl?” Pinkie bounced around the unicorn as Vinyl began to walk to the side of the street, she didn't want to cause a traffic blockage while speaking with the hyper mare.

“Cowhili? Um, I'm not sure they even offer classes for that...” Vinyl smirked once more as she tried to keep the bouncing mare in sight. “I'm learning more techniques for being a DJ. What about you Pinkie?”

“Oh I'm learning just about everything! Though I guess I'm majoring in Clowning. Have you chosen any clubs to join? They all look so FUN! I'd want to join them all but I don't know if I'd have enough time do that and learn everything I can. Have you spoken to those two mares over that way?” A pink hoof pointed back towards where Vinyl had just walked from.

“They are doing A CAPPELLA! How FUN is that!? Singing! WITHOUT any instruments! That's so cool! OOOHH look! Baking Club! I'll see you later Vinyl, ok?! BYE!” And in a poof of pink dust cloud, Pinkie Pie ran over to the baking club.

Vinyl was in shock at the rapid speech and departure. She sat on the side of street, wondering if she had just found a pony weirder than herself. As she was about to get up and continue on her way, a pink blur stopped suddenly in front of her.

“Oh, so we are so totally friends right? I'm having a party and everypony is invited, but all my friends are especially invited to come! It's going to be this Saturday, so that's two days away for the readers reading this, and it's going to be a great starting party for the season of parties! I'll see you there, ok? Bye!” Pinkie Pie gave a small jump before flying off once more.

Vinyl thought she was in shock before, but now she found a new meaning in the word. She doubted that she would ever get use to the pink mare, and considering how they were now 'friends', she had a feeling she would need to keep energy drinks nearby at all times just to keep up.

(Well, she seems like a nice mare... but so did others... I guess I'll just have to see how it goes.) Vinyl shrugged and began to continue on her way.

After another hour of search she found the DJ's of Tomorrow, a group of DJs who shared techniques and kept an eye on the competition. Now she just had to figure out what group should be her second. Luckily, she had a month before any administrative staff came knocking about what clubs she was in.

After grabbing a quick lunch of hay-fries and rose sub, Vinyl headed back to her shared room. Octavia still wasn't back and Vinyl figured she should set up her basic equipment to help get more settled in.

The DJs were expected to bring their own equipment, but it would be a pain to drag it back and forth from the dorms to classes. Fortunately, the classroom had lockers for the students to keep their stuff in and were able to keep it secure with personal locks. That just left her with her basic mini-set of turntables to use along with her laptop outside of class. She had headphones that would help keep the sound private when not in class as well, so she wouldn't disturb anypony else.

The headphones were actually specially enchanted so that she wouldn't go deaf or lose her specialized hearing when performing, as well as keeping the sound down so others couldn't hear it. They were black with light blue highlights, the same as all her other equipment. It was her trade mark colors, aside from her new purple glasses, and she planned to use it to the full extent.

Vinyl placed the earphones onto her head as she began to make some new mixes, the first day of college already inspiring her. Now she just had to wait for Octavia to get back and try to make amends for earlier in the day.

Two is better than one

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Vinyl woke to soft singing. She had fallen asleep waiting for Octavia to come back with her headphones on, which had slipped off a little during her sleep allowing her to hear the faint singing coming from across the room.

"There's song that's inside of my soul
It's the one that I've tried, to write over and over again
I'm awake in the infinite cold
But you sing to me over and over and over again

So I lay my head back down
And I lift my hooves and pray
To be only yours and pray
To be only yours, I know now
You're my only hope...

Vinyl shifted quietly, removing her headphones completely and sitting up to view the mare across the room.

Sing to me the song of the stars
of your galaxy dancing and laughing and laughing again
When it feels like my dreams are so far
Sing to me of your plans you have for me over again.

So I lay my head back down
And I lift my hooves and pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours, I know now
You're my only hope...

Octavia sang as she sorted through her music and wrote a letter. Soon though she stopped working and laid her head on the desk, staring at nothing as she continued to sing. It was as though she was in need of hope and prayed the way musicians could best, by song.

I give you my destiny
I'm giving you all of me
I want your symphony
Singing in all that I am
At the top of my lungs I'm giving it back

So I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands and pray
To be only yours
I pray to be only yours
I pray to be only yours
I know now you're my only hope...

Vinyl watched mesmerized by the passion in the grey mare's voice. As the last note faded away, Vinyl sat up more on her bed and felt the need to break the silence.

“That was nice. I can see why you're in A Capella.”

Octavia gave a start of surprise at the sound of a voice behind her. She turned around and looked at the unicorn with a mostly neutral expression.

“I apologize. I had assumed you were still asleep.” Vinyl waved off waved off the apology.

“Well, you know what they say. When you assume things, you make an ass out of you and me. No offense.” Both ponies paused as a low voice replied, “none taken.”

As Vinyl nodded sagely and Octavia rolled her eyes, the unicorn continued as if nothing had happened.

“And I was one earlier today. I saw the instruments and thought you were a true-blue classical music pony. But I guess there's more to you than it appears... Sorry. Could we, uhm, start over?” Octavia eyed her wearily as she nodded slowly.

“Great. Ah, hi! I'm Vinyl and I'm studying to be the best DJ ever, though I am already the best.” Vinyl held a hoof to her chest as she bragged.

This earned another eye roll and head shake from the mare across the room.

“I'm Octavia. And while I am majoring classical, I'm also taking many of other genre of musics as well. This is the first time I will be sharing a place with anyone not family. Ever.” The cellist gave a pointed glare to which the DJ rubbed the back of her head.

“Yeeeaahh.... Well, to tell the truth, every roommate that I had before ended badly. And most were NOT my fault. The last pony I shared a place with was classically inclined and that was a disaster. I wanted to nip the problem in the bud this time around.” Vinyl looked away. She had said more than she wanted and went silent.

Octavia was a little surprised at the revelation and raised a brow.

“Well, not all of us classically inclined musicians are bad and I'll prove it myself.” Octavia boasted as she raised her head in a proud manner but with a grin to soften the look.

Vinyl smiled hesitantly back. The two of them remained that way, just smiling at each other when Octavia felt the need to break the silence once more.

“So, have you joined any clubs yet? There's a pretty good DJ club here, 'DJ's of tomorrow' I think it was called. Have you seen them?”

“Yeah, I joined them today. I have to join one more to satisfy my scholarship though. Haven't seen any that would be interesting yet... Are you in anything aside from the Equestrian Girls?” Vinyl sat back with a smirk, still finding the thought of A Capella amusing.

Octavia noticed and shook her head but was pleased to note that the unicorn didn't start on A Capella again.

“Well, I'm in the E.U.C.C. Orchestra, a Jazz band called The Swing Ponies, the Equestrian Girls, and a string quartet.” Octavia mused with a hoof to her chin.

Vinyl was in shock. Sure she liked music, but that was taking it a bit far.

“Do you have a life outside of music? I mean, don't get me wrong, but a mare's gotta have fun at college too you know?” Vinyl stated in disbelief. Octavia raised a brow.

“I do indeed have fun. But my fun comes from doing what I love, not from some party I won't remember the next day.”

“Riiiighhht. Well how about we test that? Do you know this pony named Pinkie Pie?” Grey brows rose in recognition.

“Yes actually. She stopped by the A Capella booth and asked about we do. Claire had to explain what A Capella was. Once she understood she was rather ecstatic about it.” Octavia gave a soft laugh at Claire's weariness of the pink mare.

“Ah. That would explain the over-simplified explanation given to me.” Vinyl gave a chuckle as well.

“Well, anyways, Pinkie Pie is having a party this Saturday. Come and prove me wrong.” Octavia remained silent as she looked at the other mare.

“I may be busy that day...” She trailed off when white brows rose up in disbelief.

“Exactly my point! Been here less than a week and already you have no time to make friends or loosen up.” Vinyl pointed with a hoof at the earth pony, who was looking sheepish.

“Actually, it's my second year here...”

“Huh?” The white hoof dropped down as Vinyl's mouth also dropped open. Octavia sighed, she had expected a response like that.

“I've had tutors most of my life. Due to my advanced work, I graduated a year early. But since I was still young when I joined E.U.C.C., I stayed with family nearby and commuted. Since it would be easier to get a dorm and I was old enough I decided to stay on campus this year.” Vinyl rubbed her forehead with a hoof as she took in the news.

“Hang on. So not only are you the same age as me but a year my senior but you've been on campus for a year and not partied!? This just got weirder. How could we be roommates? How?” Octavia frowned a little at the dismissive tone Vinyl once again had in her voice.

“I don't know, I thought we were doing satisfactory until just now.”

Vinyl paused at the statement, realizing she was being overly rude again.

“.... Sorry. Guess I'm worried about how well we'd get along if all you do is related to music.” Vinyl rubbed the top of her head, messing up her mane more than before.

“Surely your previous roommates weren't all that bad?” Octavia sighed while the white mare shifted on her bed.

“If you are the same age as me then you can't have had that many horrible roommates.” Octavia continued while Vinyl gave a soft sigh. She knew that she would have to explain a little as to why she kept reacting like she was. It helped that Octavia had already confessed about her nerdiness, making it feel more like they were sharing stories than Vinyl just flat out stating why she didn't seem to get along with many others.

“I was raised in an orphanage. I don't want to go into why, but I will say this. My roommates changed every three months if not sooner. This went on for years. The longest one was five months I think and that was the last time I tried to make it work out.”

Octavia really wanted to know more about it but felt that such a discussion would have to wait for when they were better friends. If they managed to get that far. Vinyl was on her bed, laying on her back with fore-hooves behind her head as Octavia pondered.

“I see.”

Vinyl turned to face the grey mare with a raised brow.

“Well, maybe not completely but thank you for telling me that. I won't hold it against you and I shall not ask for further details unless you want to talk about it.” Vinyl gave a grunt while turning to face the ceiling once more.

The room fell silent as the mares thought to themselves. Well one pondered what had been discussed and the other tried not to re-live the memories.

“I'll go to the party.” Octavia said softly.

If Vinyl didn't have extremely sharp hearing, she wouldn't have heard it. Anypony else would have assumed that it was unimportant mumbling. Though the DJ thought that she must have misheard it anyways.

“What was that?”

“I said, I'll go to the party this Saturday. But if there is any hard-core drinking then I'm leaving. Drinking dulls the senses and makes it hard to play instruments.” Octavia said at normal volume, looking over towards the DJ who had a hesitant smile on.

“Yeah, sure. Drinking isn't quite my thing either. But I don't know how Pinkie hosts parties. Guess we'll find out when we get there... hey, if you don't mind me asking, why were you singing that song? Sounded like you meant it and needed all the help you can get.”

Octavia sighed, she hoped that the unicorn had forgotten about that.

“It's about the Equestrian Girls. We made finals last year and due to some issues, we dropped to being the laughing stock of this school's A Capella groups. We had a good group of ponies who all either quit or graduated and now we have to start over... it's a little saddening to say the least.” Octavia sighed as she got up from her desk and sat on her bed facing the other mare who in turn had sat up to focus on what was being said.

“Huh. Issues hmm? Alright. If you say so.” Vinyl glanced at the clock that was in the middle of the room over the door. It came with the room and it gave the students little excuse to miss classes.

Vinyl figured she had the time to chat with her roommate, even with her interview in the morning and sat up farther on the bed. The two mares chatted well into the night, talking of the various aspects of college and classes. To Vinyl's surprise, she didn't mind Octavia as much as she had thought and both ponies hoped that perhaps they could be friends after all.

They ended up chatting well in the night and it was with a little bit of annoyance that Vinyl got up early the next morning for her interview. As she made made her way to the store, she noticed traffic was a lot more sparse away from the dorms at the early hour of 7am. As she found her quarry she couldn't help but pause at the sight.

The building was only one story like it's neighbors but had red brick front with a record with '33 1/3' on it that hung above the door. A good portion of the front was window displaying the evolution of music media from vinyl record discs on the left to DVDs and USB drives on the right.

As the white unicorn walked inside, she noticed music being played in the background and a room where the owner was checking on sound feature. All the shelves were slightly shorter than a typical pony's head when on all fours and it was as Vinyl stood on two legs to look for the pony in charge that she noticed the sound room and how rather big the store was. The stallion stepped out of the booth as Vinyl walked up to it.

“Hi, I'm Neon Lights. Are you Vinyl Scratch?” Vinyl looked at the stallion before her and mused that he was rather good looking, even if he was a bit young (though he was still older than her).

He had blue coat so dark it was almost black and short black mane and tail. He wore glasses much like Vinyl's except that they were black and wore a black collar and tie. While it was a little unusual, Vinyl had to admit that he pulled it off. He had a cutie mark of three yellow stars, which made Vinyl slightly curious as to what his talent was.

She shook the offered hoof and nodded.

“Yeah, I'm Vinyl. Nice to meet you. Is the music local or you putting stuff on yourself?”

As Neon began to give Vinyl the tour of the store, he replied nonchalantly.

“We double as the local radio. Gotta have something to do to fill in the long hours. No freshman in the booth though.” Vinyl was excited, this place was sounding better and better.

“Do you get stuff from others to play or is it all just what's hot on the market?”

“We get stuff from the DJs from time to time, but I don't think a lot of the musical ponies know that we are here or about the radio station. Too busy with their own music, you know?”

“Yeah, real shame.”

“That it is. So for the most part, it's just you, me and two others who work here. Let's go and figure out your schedule...” Vinyl nodded as they walked into a back office and filled out paperwork.

She was really pleased to find a place to work that wasn't annoyed with her glasses. The rest of the morning went to learning her way about the store and putting CDs back on the shelves.

The rest of the day and majority of the next one was spent getting to know the school and her roommate. They fond they knew and liked some of the same artists and styles. Though this was an easy feat since Octavia liked just about everything and Vinyl knew about everything.

Vinyl had two more rude outbursts that resulted from clashing of opinions. In an effort to work on the problem, they came up with a way for Octavia to let Vinyl know when it was going too far. Octavia felt odd calling Vinyl 'Scratchie' but it worked to an extent.

She was glad to see that the unicorn wanted to try and make the whole thing work out. And while most of their talks centered on either the school or music, it was at least friendly-ish.

Soon enough it was time for the party, though it was with slight embarrassment that they realized that neither one knew where they party would be held at. They got as far as to standing outside of their dorm looking around, hoping for a sign pointing the way, when with a soft thud an invitation was thrown into the ground before the two ponies.

Vinyl lifted it up with her magic and opened the envelop, which emitted a small pop and shower of confetti to the amazement of the mares looking at it. They both raise a brow at each other before reading the invite before them.

[To Vinyl Scratch and Octavia Melody
You are both cordially invited to the 'Welcome to College' party
located three blocks due south of where you are facing
in the big open space with lots of ponies parting
No need to worry about bringing gifts or food,
all is taken care of.
You merely have to come to have lots of fun!]

Vinyl blinked a few times before cracking up. Even Octavia couldn't hold back a smile at the very personalize invitation. Vinyl kept chuckling as she levitated the paper away back to their dorm and turned 'south'.

Octavia was a little doubtful that they would find the place with such vague instructions, but Vinyl merely waved a dismissive hoof and continued on her way. As they were almost there, they heard the sound of loud music (it seemed to be a generic type, neither offensive nor 'too sappy') and ponies laughing. Once they were in the last forum of campus before nature took over once more, they saw a party unlike ever seen at college before.

There was a large table in the center that had all the food on it and a few bowls of punch placed symmetrically. Most of the food were of the baked kinds, cakes, cupcakes, pies, and cookies, as well as some fountains of chocolate. The punch was all the same however, and served in large bowls. This got a brow raise from Vinyl, she was uncertain if it was on purpose and already spiked or just asking to be.

It was the things around the table that were the most notable however. Games were placed all around, and ponies stood by and laughed while some actually played the child-aged games. There was pin the tail on the pony (leaning up against a nearby tree), snakes and ladders, sorry, battle clouds, piñatas, and twister (though twister seemed to be the favorite so far).

Octavia wasn't completely sure, but she didn't think that this was how most parties were suppose to be. Vinyl, on the other hoof, knew that this wasn't the usual party scene and thought it was hilarious.

As the two friends came further into the party, the one hosting it all showed up suddenly in front of them.

“Hey guys! I'm glad you made it! What do you think, great huh? The first of many! What games do you like? I tried to get all the usual ones, but I'm not sure if everyone likes the choices. I may have to get more kinds. Oh oh! And the food! There's lots of cake and all kinds of cupcakes and five different kinds of pies and my own special blend of punch!” Pinkie Pie hopped in front of the two ponies, waving a hoof to the various attractions.

“It looks really good Pinkie. Uh, what's in the punch? We're trying to keep away from alcohol tonight.” Vinyl said as she followed the pink mare to the concession table.

“Alcohol? There's no alcohol in it. Why would you ruin a perfectly good punch with stuff that burns and hurts and tastes weird?” Pinkie Pie looked at the white unicorn in confusion.

Vinyl gave the party mare a blank stare, unsure if she was aware of what really happened at parties or not.

“Uh, well, that's what a lot of ponies in college like to do. Drink and stuff. That and spike any unattended punch when they can.” Vinyl waved a hoof to the large bowls of punch, to show how defenseless they were.

“Silly. That's what others do at their parties, this is a Pinkie Pie party! No need for alcohol when you've got sugar! Besides those punches are completely safe, unless you get hit, and even if they weren't safe I'd know.” Pinkie smiled once more before pausing and twitching a little.

“DON'T TOUCH THE PUNCH!” She suddenly shouted at a pony who was going for a refill of the drink.

“Somepony went and messed up the sugar to fruit ratio! I'll be back in a moment! Meanwhile, everypony enjoy the food!” Within moments the pink mare flew towards the dorms before coming back with a new bowl of punch in mere seconds.

Vinyl and Octavia blinked at this rapid speed before laughing at how serious the party pony took the offense of spiking the drinks. All doubts about how bad the party would go were thrown out by Pinkie's watch of the drinks and food (while somehow still making sure that everyone was having fun).

The rest of the evening went quickly, Vinyl and Octavia enjoying games that they hadn't played since they were much younger and enjoying each other's company. While most of the partiers found it odd to be playing foal's games once more, the pair enjoyed this 'simpler' party the most.

And while whoever spiked the punch tried twice more to add alcohol to the drink, Pinkie Pie seemed to sense whenever this occurred and fixed it. After the last attempt she started to set up traps for the unsuspecting pony, while still telling everypony about it (defeating the purpose, but causing a laugh nonetheless).

It was after a dark blue pony flew into the air (having fallen prey to Pinkie's trap under a trap under a trap while trying to spike the drinks) that Vinyl and Octavia decided to call it a night. While there was still one more day before any classes started, they didn't want to get off on the wrong hoof by messing up their sleep schedules.

As they got ready for the night and settling down in their respective beds, Vinyl turned towards Octavia with a small smile.

“Thanks for going to the party. And see, it was totally fine!” Vinyl stated as she laid down and pulled the covers over herself.

“Yes, well, I doubt that that was how most parties go. Though it was fun. See? Not all of us classical ponies are horrible.” Octavia replied as she too laid down and pulled the covers over herself.

Vinyl merely chuckled, having already forgotten that Octavia was a classical mare at heart. She didn't seem like it after speaking about all her musical tastes and watching her concentrate during a game of battle clouds.

Vinyl used her magic to turn off the light as she shifted over in her bed.

“Good night Tavi...”

Octavia paused at this new nickname, though at least it sounded better than 'Octy'.

“Good night, Vinyl.”

Dare you to move

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The first two weeks of college flew by with all the freshmen slowly getting used to the workload and pacing. While the classwork wasn't that hard for Vinyl, learning to share a room with somepony else who wanted the friendship to work was harder. It did help that both sides were willing to learn and compromise, with Vinyl realizing that she was actually starting to enjoy the gray mare's company.

While Vinyl was taking music classes as well as business/marketing classes, she still made her own mixes to try and stay in practice. It was part of her skills that she kept honed; perfect pitch, perfect hearing, and the natural ability to mix and DJ.

While Octavia was away at her various clubs until late in the evenings, Vinyl had plenty of time to herself to mix and sing some of the songs herself.

It was during one such evening that Vinyl was putting together a more powerful mix with her singing. She was hopeful about being roommates with Octavia and even though it had only been two weeks, Vinyl maintained the hope against her more realistic nature and the strength of that showed in her mixes and singing.

She set up a mini-microphone on the desk which hooked up to her laptop to record her singing. She had her headphones on to be able to hear the current track and time everything just right. Once it was all set, she began to sing.

There's a fire starting in my heart
Reaching a fever pitch, it's bringing me out the dark
Finally I can see you crystal clear
Go 'head and sell me out and I'll lay your shit bare
See how I leave with every piece of you
Don't underestimate the things that I will do

There's a fire starting in my heart
Reaching a fever pitch
And it's bringing me out of the dark

The scars of your love remind me of us
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all
The scars of your love, they leave me breathless
I can't help feeling
We could have had it all
Rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside of your hoof
And you played it, to the beat …..

Unknown to the singing unicorn, Octavia had finished rehearsals earlier than usual and was frozen in the doorway, listening intently and completely.

Throw your soul through every open door
Count your blessings to find what you look for
Turn my sorrow into treasured gold
You'll pay me back in kind and reap just what you sow
We could have had it all
We could have had it all
It all, it all, it all

We could have had it all
Rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside of your hoof
And you played it to the beat....

Once the last few notes faded away, Octavia finally remembered how to breathe.

“That was beautiful! I thought you said you couldn't sing!”

Vinyl gave a jump of surprise.

“Oh buck!” She began to scramble to hide what she had been doing, closing her laptop, shoving the microphone into a drawer, and taking her headphones off.

“How, uh, how long were you there?”

“I heard most of it. That was amazing, why are you trying to hide it?” Octavia closed the door behind her as she put her saxophone away and turned to the unicorn.

“Why are you back so soon? I thought that your practices ran later than this.” Vinyl shifted where she sat while her hooves twiddling with her headphones, unable to be still.

“It finished early. You know, you don't have to hide it from me, all the dorm rooms are sound proof since there are so many different students living here, so no one else heard you singing. Please, if you really want I won't tell anyone about it.” Octavia pleaded while holding her hooves imploringly in front of her.

Vinyl sighed and put her headphones down. She ran a hoof through her short mane while she thought of the best way to explain. After a minute of thinking, with Octavia about to give up, Vinyl sighed once more and decided the best way was her way, bluntly.

“Everyone thought it was weird how I can copy any sound and pitch. Add my perfect hearing and the other orphans thought I was a freak. Soon I became the target of blame whenever a pony was lying about what was actually said, claiming I had said it while sounding like them. And, if I sang, sounding almost like the recording, they thought I was trying to trick or fool them somehow. If they knew it was really me singing, they claimed some really dumb shit about how I got my ability in return for some evil deed or something.” Vinyl rubbed her forehead.

“I grew up with so many idiots that it became habit to hide all that I can do.” Vinyl turned away, resting her head on her hooves on the desk, unwilling to see a similar reaction from the earth pony.

Suddenly, a pair of hooves wrapped around her white barrel and a head rested in the middle of her shoulders.

“They were fools and not worth your time to think about or the memory to recall them. I think you sing beautifully. You should join a singing group!”

Vinyl had stiffened at the touch, unused to the contact but sat up more at the end of the little speech and hugged the forelegs with her own for a moment. She then gave the gray forelegs two taps which Octavia understood to mean that hugging time was over. Octavia went to her desk and faced the unicorn who also turned from the desk to face the gray mare.

“Besides, you're here to learn about being a better DJ right? Aren't DJs supposed to boast, brag and flaunt their many skills and talents?” Octavia raised a brow in question at the white mare, which caused Vinyl to laugh at the statement, realizing that it was quite true.

“Yeah, I guess so.” Vinyl rubbed the back of her head as she continued to chuckle.

“You know, the best way to show your singing skills would be joining a singing group...” Vinyl raised a brow as she smirked.

“... like Equestrian Girls. We need all the help we can get.” Vinyl gave a snort, she had a feeling Octavia would ask that.

“Please? Could you think about it at the very least?”

Vinyl shook her head slightly and sighed.

“I'll think about it, but I can't promise anything.”

Octavia smiled and clapped her hooves twice before clearing her throat and grinned. Vinyl couldn't help but lightly laugh at Octavia's attempt at trying to remain dignified while the gray mare blushed at her child-like moment of joy before growing serious once more.

“Vinyl, why did everyone dislike you so much?”

Vinyl looked away, all traces of laughter gone.

“I'd rather not say.”

Octavia looked downcast for a moment before reminding herself of the progress made so far in being friends.

“Alright; just remember that I'm here if you need me, ok?”

Vinyl nodded and hesitated.

“Uh, I'm, you know, ah, here if you want any help too, uhm, I guess.” Vinyl couldn't look up from the floor as she posed the offer, unsure of how Octavia would react to it.

Octavia wasn't sure what to make of the hesitant offer until she remembered what little Vinyl had told her of her past life. No one liked her and no one wanted to be near her. Octavia smiled as she realized just how much progress they had made from their first encounter.

“Thank you. If I need anything, I'll be sure to come to you first.”

Vinyl blushed as she wiped at her nose embarrassed and unused to such a response.

Octavia could sense that the unicorn was embarrassed and decided to change the topic to something less sensitive, such as the emblem on Vinyl's laptop.

The earth mare had noticed a bold 'DJ P0n-3' written in black on the white laptop and couldn't quite understand what it meant. Vinyl then spent the next half hour explaining L33T SP34|< and how all the cool DJs had some l33t in their titles. Then it took another half hour to teach the classy mare to write and speak it.

Octavia thought it was a joke at first, having never seen anything like it before, until Vinyl showed her different websites where it was being used or translated. Octavia couldn't get enough of it, she thought was hilarious. Vinyl, amused to see the classy mare enjoy slang, joked that they should pass notes to each other in L33T.



“Sure, let's write to each other in L33T.”

“Uh, oh. But I was joking, we don't have to, you know. I mean... I like talking to you...” Vinyl's hoof was once again against the back of her head, Octavia was starting to wonder if she had a pair of magnets in her hoof and head or something.

“Oh! Well, I like our talks as well. Perhaps we can just write about something that happened in the day or some such. We could keep a journal to pass back and forth. We would still talk like this though. The journal could just be a side-project.” Octavia tapped her hooves together nervously, she was pleased to hear that Vinyl liked their talks but she wanted to try having a 'pen-pal' of sorts as well.

Vinyl sighed as she felt herself give in. Who knew she was such a softy?

“Alright, but it has to stay in our room; it's not as L33t if everypony knows about it.” Vinyl scrubbed at her face before reaching for a spare notebook they could use.

Octavia bounced in place momentarily, unaware that Vinyl never took her eyes off the gray mare across the room. Vinyl smirked lightly, pleased that something she was doing brought somepony else joy instead of annoyance. She had a feeling that she would do just about anything to keep it that way, it was a nice change from her last roommate.

Soon their days took on a new routine, one that both mares enjoyed greatly. While Octavia was out with her different practices, Vinyl would either work at the record store or make new mixes. Then when they were both at home they would sing, play music or just talk together. They used the journal to speak l33t, filling it with non-important talk of classes, teachers and ponies they knew. It turns out that Octavia had lived in upper Manehatten and they knew of similar landmarks around the city.

And while they had fun, Vinyl knew Octavia was still worried for Equestrian Girls. The earth pony sang every night when she thought the unicorn was asleep, though at the sound of Octavia's beautiful singing Vinyl would wake up and listen to the whole thing.

Vinyl felt bad for her, but wasn't sure if she could really join A Capella. It felt silly joining such a group, but she really did like singing with Octavia. It wouldn't have been so bad if Vinyl had found another club to join but she still thought they were all lame. This meant that she wasn't busy with work or clubs and still had to join one more club before the month was up.

Her indecision about joining lasted until the day of auditions.

Octavia was already at the auditorium with Claire Belle, reviewing the applicants. They were sitting in a medium-large auditorium that had been built into the ground to produce the proper size without going over the one story tall requirement of all the buildings on campus. They sat in two red cushioned chairs near the front while the three other A Cappella groups sat around the auditorium. Everypony was facing the plain wooden stage where the applicants showed off their singing abilities.

Vinyl had come in at the last moment, trying to psych herself up when she heard the colt before her singing 'Since you've been gone'. She face-hoofed, realizing that they must have been given something specific to sing and the time to prepare.

(Let's just get out of here. You know they won't like it... But Tavi will know and she'll be disappointed in me. She may not know that I'm here, but she knows that she had asked me to join, though she was nice enough to not pester me about it... Ah, buck it. What's the worst that can happen? These 'nerds' laugh? Can't believe I'm doing this...)

Vinyl stepped onto the stage to stand directly in front of Octavia and Claire and scuffed a hoof along the ground.

“Sorry, I, ah, didn't know that was the song we had to do.” Vinyl made sure to only look at Octavia who looked like Hearths Warming Day came early.

Claire was shocked while the rest looked a little bored by this time.

“No no, it's ok. Sing whatever you want.” Octavia waved a hoof to reassure the white mare while Claire looked at the gray mare in surprise at how friendly they were. Octavia did say that their relationship with each other improved but she hadn't quite believed her at the time.

Though what happened next did surprise everyone but Octavia. Vinyl had begun to sing, choosing not just any old song or even the one that the colt had been singing. She sang Mandy Mare's 'Only Hope' as though she meant every word, in a perfect intimidation of how Octavia had been singing the last few weeks.

Octavia was flattered and extremely happy that Vinyl had come and auditioned with that particular song, just like how she sang it in their dorm room.

Claire, on the other hoof, recognized the style as Octavia's, having heard her sing in general and that song in particular before. The cream-coated earth pony had a dilemma on her hooves, Vinyl was very good and they needed every pony they could get, but she also knew that Vinyl was rude and independent. Claire wasn't sure how well Vinyl would work in a group but decided to make the effort, she wanted to make it the Finals this year for sure.

Vinyl felt like an idiot. She tried not to look at anyone else but Octavia when she was done though couldn't help but notice everypony's expression of shock. It didn't help that Octavia wouldn't say how the unicorn did and said that she would see her later in their room.

After pacing in their shared room, Vinyl was pleased to see Octavia come inside and smile at the unicorn. Though what happened next did confuse the DJ even more than the silent treatment she had been getting after her audition. Octavia asked for permission to blindfold and lead the white unicorn 'someplace'.

If it had been anyone else trying to lead Vinyl someplace blindfolded she would have thought they were trying to prank her and she would have tried to fight them off. But this was Octavia, and if she couldn't trust the gray earth pony by now, she would never trust anyone. With great reluctance Vinyl allowed Octavia to put the blue and yellow cloth over her face, though they did spend a few minutes arguing about taking off the glasses to be properly blindfolded.

It was after Vinyl threatened to break the whole thing off that Octavia realized there must have been something from her past making her act like that and gave up the argument. They compromised by tying the whole thing around her head while she had the glasses on, and soon were on their way.

After walking for a while, Vinyl came to a stop and felt ponies on either side of her while Octavia walked away.

Vinyl held back a whimper at the loss of the one pony she trusted in the vicinity though she still frowned her annoyance. Vinyl heard giggling that sounded familiar and could hear Claire Belle nearby, greeting everypony in a vague way. Vinyl assumed that this was the initiation into the Equestrian Girls and tried to not fidget.

"You have all impressed us with your talents. We shall now announce and greet our new members...

“The sopranos: Cloud Kicker, Windy Day and Silver Note...” With this pronouncement, Claire unveiled three different ponies, all peagasi.

Cloud Kicker was a mare with yellow and light-amber mane and a light persian blue coat, who's Cutie Mark was that of a sun with a cloud in front.

Windy Day was a mare with a sky-blue coat and purple mane with a saxophone with a few quarter notes coming out of it.

Silver Note was a silver and gray maned mare with a light brown coat with three eighth notes slurred as a Cutie Mark.

Claire had each pony hold out their right hoof to hold the handkerchief that was originally blindfolding them and continued down the line of ponies.

“The mezzos: Pinkie Pie and Vinyl...”

At this point, Claire revealed the extremely excited pink mare and slightly shocked white mare, who was taking the chance to look at her fellow club members.

“And the altos: Lyra, Blossomforth, Arpeggio, and Beautiful Composition.”

With a last flourish , Claire removed the clothes from the last four members.

Lyra was a pale green-coated unicorn with white with teal highlight mane and tail with a lyre for a Cutie Mark.

Blossomforth was a pale cream peagasus with light green and pink-ish red mane who had a Cutie Mark of two flowers, one pink and one blue.

Arpeggio was an earth pony with a pink mane and green coat, with triplet notes made from dark green leaves for a Cutie Mark.

Beautiful Composition was a purple-navy coated unicorn, who had a dark red with lighter red highlights and a couple of sheets of music scores for a Cutie Mark.

Vinyl was mildly surprised that Pinkie Pie was there, but somehow had expected it. Pinkie Pie, for her part, bounced excitedly and waved to everyone in line who met her eye. Vinyl couldn't help but laugh as she waved back while looking around her.

The room the eleven ponies were in was wide and long, with excellent acoustics. It had a piano and some full length mirrors placed around the room as well as enough space for everyone to have a seat in the center.

Claire and Octavia stood in front of a table facing the new members. The table was covered in a frilly tablecloth with lots of lit candles ranging in size but most rather melted as well as a large chalice filled with a deep red liquid.

“Alright fillies, hold out your handkerchiefs and repeat the oath of an Equestrian Girl.” Vinyl raised a brow at the fact that they had an oath to fulfill but followed along with everypony else and lifted her right hoof higher.

“I, sing your name.” Claire instructed.

(Seriously?? Seriously, sing our names? Alright, come on Vinyl, it can't be that bad.)

An odd collection of singing broke out, not in tune with one another and with no organization to what or how they were to sing their names sounded pretty bad, which pained the white unicorn's ears for a moment as she sang her name in a moderate volume. Claire grimaced so quickly that Vinyl wasn't sure if she did or not, and continued on with the oath.

(Never mind. That was pretty bad.) Vinyl just barely managed to keep back a grimace of her own at the sound.

“Promise to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of an Equestrian Girl...” Vinyl followed along with a roll of her eyes as she tried to not be exasperated with the oath.

(Come on; go to your happy place Vinyl. A nice, big club, pounding music, cheers... Back in your dorm room, yeah, that works. Away from stupid oaths, singing without any judging eyes, along with a gray mare with the voice of an angel... Wait, what?! Why's Tavi in my happy place... Best not go into that.) As Vinyl had been thinking, her ears and voice went onto autopilot to copy along and when she came back from her musings it was to confusion as to the last part of the oath.

“And I solemnly promise to never have sexual relations with a Treble Maker or may my vocal chords be ripped out by Timberwolves?” Vinyl was pleased to note that this is what everypony else was saying so she got the words right, but wasn't sure if that part was serious or not.

Claire nodded in satisfaction before waving Octavia forward, who now held the chalice and presented it to the first in line, who happened to be Cloud Kicker.

“And now, drink the blood of your sisters that came before you.”

Cloud Kicker sniffed the drink before shrugging and taking a gulp. Octavia moved on to each pony, having them take a taste of the drink (Pinkie Pie had made a sour face after drinking and could be heard to mutter that Sarsaparilla was better). When the gray mare stopped in front of Vinyl, she raised an eyebrow in question as she took a half step back. Octavia smiled reassuringly and whispered to the white mare.

“It's not really blood, just wine. You don't have to drink a lot of it, just a sip would suffice.” Vinyl's face went back into a neutral expression and took the cup with her magic, taking a small sip.

With a pleased smile Octavia continued down the line until everyone had taken a drink.

“Welcome to the Equestrian Girls!” Claire exclaimed with a tense smile as the new recruits cheered, with Pinkie Pie and Vinyl being on the very end ranges of cheering, Vinyl barely doing so and Pinkie Pie simply ecstatic.

Vinyl was actually more amused at the pink mare's happiness than anything else (Pinkie Pie having jumped up higher than anypony else and waved all four hooves independently from each other) and almost didn't hear Claire mutter to Octavia.

“What have we done?” Octavia had a more natural smile on as she glanced at the high strung pony next to her.

“I think it will be just fine, don't fret.” Vinyl glanced over and for a moment it seemed like Octavia's smile grew a little warmer but before she could even think about it a loud shout came from a certain party mare.

“This calls for a PAAARRTAAAYY! Everyone else is having one just a block down the road and they only just started a few minutes ago and are really lacking in the proper punch, treats and games departments, something that I, Pinkie Pie, MUST correct!” Pinkie stood on her hind-legs, one hoof pointing upwards with the other on her chest.

A few of the others stared at the exclamation while Cloud Kicker put a hoof around the pink mare's shoulders and gave her a small shake-hug.

“I like the way you think. Let's go show them how to really partay!” Together they lead the way out of the building to the party where the other A Capella groups were celebrating with their new members.

Vinyl hung back and joined Octavia at the end of the group heading out. The white unicorn saw how uneasy the earth pony was about the kind of party that was happening and gave her a nudge.

“Come on, Pinkie Pie's going to 'fix' the party, it won't be that bad.” Vinyl smiled, pleased that there would be somepony around to host really interesting parties that didn't serve a lot of alcohol in this college.

Octavia smiled as well and gave a small blush as she looked at the ground briefly before looking at the mare next to her.

“Thank you for joining. It means a lot to me.” Octavia gave the unicorn a nudge back as they continued on their way.

Vinyl bashfully waved away the thanks and remained silent the rest of the trek to the party, though she kept a blush on her face since she wasn't use to such thanks or praise.

Once they arrived the group split up slightly to mingle, with the original partiers warmly greeting the new arrivals and Pinkie Pie running off to bring 'proper' party supplies. Vinyl and Octavia hung back however, noticing the drunken behavior of their peers and unwilling to drink anything until Pinkie Pie returned with non-spiked punch that would be protected against such actions.

Once Pinkie Pie made it back the others didn't seem to mind the simpler games and everyone partied well into the night, though two mares retired from the party early.

The crowd had been getting rowdier and several pairs of ponies had started to make out in the middle of the party. While Pinkie Pie either didn't care or notice, Octavia and Vinyl didn't care for such behavior and they headed back to their room.

Since they both had a long day, they fell asleep quickly, though Octavia stayed awake long enough after Vinyl fell asleep to write in their journal about just how much it meant to her that Vinyl had joined Equestrian Girls. She had a feeling that the unicorn was still unsure about whether she was needed or wanted there. Octavia intended to change that, the mare she was slowly getting to know was worth a lot more than what she thought of herself.

My Stupid Mouth

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The next morning everypony arrived bright and early for the first meeting of the Equestrian Girls. Since some of them had classes right afterwards most had brought saddlebags full of their things; Vinyl didn't trust leaving her laptop or equipment alone and carried it with her at all times.

Everypony stacked their bags near the door as they went to seat in the middle of the room. They were arranged with the sopranos in front, mezzos in the middle and altos in the back row. As everyone took a seat facing the front of the room they noticed they were short a pony.

“As some of you are noticing, Silver Note is not here. She was Treble Boned last night and is no longer an Equestrian Girl.” Claire said primly, with Octavia looking solemn at her side.

“Ho-oh-whoa! You mean that oath was serious?” Vinyl asked indignation as she waved a hoof to get Claire's attention.

“Completely.” Claire said flatly.

“That might be a problem. I can't help but exclude sexiness that attracts all.” Cloud Kicker stated as she leaned back a little. A few eyebrows were raised at this statement as Cloud Kicker raised both fore-hooves in a shrug.

“'A sexiness that attracts all'?” Vinyl couldn't help but ask as she crossed her hooves in disbelief while looking towards the persian-blue peagasus.

“Can't help but flaunt what I've got. You want?” Cloud Kicker looked back at the white unicorn who snorted dismissively.

“No, not interested.” An image of a certain gray mare shot through Vinyl's mind along with a thought of (unless it's a certain somepony. Whoa there! Where did that come from? Focus!)

Vinyl shook her head to clear it and focused on the two captains once more.

“That's not good enough reason for being with a Treble Maker. The Treble Makers don't respect us and if you let them have their way with you they won't ever.” Claire said with finality in her voice.

“Oh buck no! Next you'll be telling us what to eat and controlling every aspect of our lives! I didn't sign up to be told how to spend my college days! I'm -” Vinyl was getting into her rant when she looked up into purple eyes that held a mixture of emotions as they looked back at the white unicorn; concern, sadness, annoyance and disappointment.

Octavia had been about to interrupt Vinyl when she had suddenly silenced herself. While the gray earth pony wasn't sure what the white unicorn was doing now, but she had a bad feeling that this meant a very short singing career for the young DJ.

Vinyl stopped suddenly as she slammed her mouth shut, chewing her tongue as she was tempted to still rant. But as she continued to look at the purple eyes, she saw how sadness was slowly taking the lead in the warring emotions and knew that it was because of her anger at Claire for how controlling she was being.

Vinyl gave a groan as she felt her will crumbling to those striking eyes, rubbing her mane in a random fashion as she closed her eyes. It didn't help much, she could FEEL the eyes watching, feel the disappointment. She gave a louder groan as she leaned back briefly before setting her hooves onto the ground and opening her eyes once more.

“Alright already! I'm sorry. It's all, whatever.” Vinyl softly stated as she leaned forward a little, peering up to Octavia, worried about what she would see in her eyes this time.

Octavia had a soft half-smile while her eyes were warmly watching the mare before her apologize for her rude behavior without any intervention on Octavia's part; though she actually did influence the white mare unknowingly.

The rest of the ponies watched the DJ get riled up and almost as quickly back down. While some were unaware as to what caused the white unicorn to suddenly stop, most saw how she was focused on the gray earth pony and how the two seemed to be telepathically communicating.

Cloud Kicker especially thought this was funny and decided to poke a little fun at the DJ.

“Wow, Vee, you're so totally not a whipped pony.” Cloud Kicker smirked as she looked at the white unicorn from the corners of her eyes.

Vinyl could feel that she was on thin ice already and decided to not say anything. She merely glowered at the ground, though the effect was diminished by her glasses that prevented anypony seeing her dark gaze.

Cloud Kicker, Blossomforth and Arpeggio giggled at the sulking mare while Windy Day made a comment.

“Maybe Discord got free and is trying to sabotage our first meeting...”

Or at least the peagasus moved her mouth. The others tried to listen, but merely looked confused at the extremely quiet muttering.

Claire shook her head and refocused on the main issue at hoof.

“If you don't like how I run the Equestrian Girls, you can just leave.” Claire pointed a hoof to the door as Vinyl just sunk down on her haunches further to show that she wasn't going anywhere as she crossed her hooves in front of her chest.

“This is war, Vinyl! And it is my job to get my soldiers ready for battle with three kick-flank songs and awesome choreography. That means that we have to have practice every day for at least two hours and you have to add your own cardio.” Claire sternly looked at all the assembled ponies as Vinyl kept her mouth firmly shut.

“This does not mean that we will try to control your whole life, you do have your freedoms.” Octavia tried to cut in to resolve any remaining doubts about how controlling Claire Belle was going to be.

“Unless it conflicts with the needs, traditions or oath of the Equestrian Girls. And we will gt to Finals and win this year using this strategy.” Claire flipped the white-board behind her over, showing an extremely detailed plan with lots of topics covered, such as relationships (no Trebles!), songs that could be done (only songs made by mares) and so on.

“Oooo! Can I write on the board too?” Pinkie Pie bounced in place while waving her hoof in the air.

Claire deadpanned the pink mare.

“No. Here is the list of all the songs we have ever done.” Claire handed out copies of the list to everypony in the room, who then looked over the songs.

“There is nothing from recent times on this list.” Vinyl couldn't help but point out as she flipped through the pages. She tried to make sure her tone of voice remained neutral and didn't even look up at the two ponies standing in the front.

Claire flashed an annoyed glance at the unicorn before looking out in general once more.

“We don't stray from tradition. These songs are what will get us to the finals once more and that is our goal.” Claire said.

“What happened last year at finals?” Windy Day asked as she looked at the tense cream earth pony who was determinedly looking at everything but the DJ.

This made everyone pause and look at the sky-blue peagasus.

“Sorry, what?” Octavia could tell that Claire was getting annoyed at how she couldn't hear the extremely quiet peagasus and tried to cover for her by asking before Claire could say anything.

“What happened last year?” Everypony exchanged confused looks before looking back at her.

“Did Discord appear and turn everypony into cupcakes?”

Vinyl was the only one who could hear the quiet murmuring and figured it was best to not mention what was being said and focused on the rather good question instead.

“I think she's asking about what happened last year.” Vinyl raised a brow as she looked at the two leaders once more who both tensed up at the simple question.

“Well, there's no way to show you and we don't have time to go into that right now, so let's just get on with practice.” Claire turned away to the board when Vinyl held up a hoof.

“Are the finals recorded? I have my laptop, we can search online, see if we can find a vid of it.” Vinyl pulled her laptop over with her magic from where they had put all their belongings when they first came into the room.

Claire was annoyed at the white unicorn and would have tried to stop them from watching except that she could tell they were all interested in it, and she wouldn't be able to stop them forever.

The ponies all gathered around as Vinyl found the recording and set it to full screen so that everyone could see, though she noticed that both Octavia and Claire stayed away. After the first few moments of the clip where they saw Claire Belle sharing her lunch, dinner and everything else with the third row of the auditorium in the middle of their set, Vinyl turned to look at the two earth ponies still staying away from the rest.

Claire seemed to focus internally and seemed to be trying to restrain herself. Octavia laid a comforting hoof on her shoulder and whispered to the tense mare.

After the video finished, Vinyl closed the laptop, even though she began to get requests for other videos. Claire had control over herself once more and stepped up and stomped her hooves to get everypony's attention.

“Enough! What happened in the past is irrelevant! We must look to the future! We have to practice now!” Claire began the practice sternly, throwing off a lot of the others but they at least understood why she was so tense and desperate now.

The first practice went as one could expect from eight new members, badly. The ponies were well off musically, just not as a whole group, so they focused on the movements for now.

They started with some laps around the room to warm up their bodies, with no flying involved. Then they practiced standing and walking upright, standing on their hind-legs made a better impression on judges and some of the movements they were going to learn required strong back muscles.

Not many of them (aside from the two upper classmates) were used to standing on their hind-legs and became very tired after that. They moved onto their dancing styles, with a wide range of results.

Pinkie Pie had way too much movement, often bouncing in place if nothing else and lots of hoof movements. She caught on to the movements they were learning quickly, but then started to improvise more on top of them.

Cloud Kicker showed exactly why everypony's door swung her way with her dance moves, running her hooves over her sides and flank as extra movement to the song. She also couldn't walk or move to anyplace without swaying her hips in a sensual manner.

Blossomforth's movement showed how reserved and neutral she was, her motions having less passion and emphasis than the others. She picked up the motions after a while, but didn't flaunt anything at all unlike her friend Cloud Kicker.

Lyra's motions were extremely too stiff. Claire could tell that the mint-green unicorn had never done these kinds of dancing before, though she had potential. There was a rigid edge to her moments as though she had always been told how to do something the 'proper' way and had a hard time shifting from the rigid style she was used to.

Windy Day on the other hoof was entirely too loose, her moments much like the sea, wobbly and flowy. Almost like she had no joints at all, though Octavia did check that she was ok; it was just a little odd to see a pony with that much flexibility.

Arpeggio and Beautiful Composition were both of the punk mindset and dance moves, being at times jerky and then others slightly loose, with lots of hoof pumping and head banging.

Vinyl was another matter entirely. Claire knew there was no way that she would be able to work with the independent-minded unicorn and had Octavia teach her, which didn't help the white unicorn at all.

She was having enough trouble dancing, something she had never really done before since there hadn't been much reason to dance, and in her confused and subdued mindset when it came to the gray mare, it became all that much harder to remember the moves and perform properly.

Vinyl was extremely surprised when Claire tried to have everyone do it all together with the expected results, utter failure. No one was in time and only Octavia was singing the song just to make things easier. At the end Claire stopped them, to which most gave a big sigh of relief.

“Alright, that's enough. Uh, great work for the first one.” Claire's grimace was soon covered by another tense smile.

“... Did we just learn the set from last year?” Vinyl was hoping this wasn't the case, it would mean that they had reached a dead-end for the group before they even got off the ground.

“We'll meet again tomorrow morning. I got us a 'gig' in a week and a half at a local sobriety. A week and a half.” Claire completely ignored the white unicorn and passed out the details of the gig as well as the music and movements they just learned.

Everyone else was excited and didn't notice how tense Claire was or how Vinyl rubbed her fore-head with a hoof as she walked up to take her paper.

“Alright, hooves in.” Claire stood next to Octavia who both had their hooves outstretched to the others. Everypony else looked at her in confusion, wondering what she needed their hooves for. Pinkie Pie was trying to think of what kind of game they would need right hooves for.

“Hooves in A Ca-bitches!” Claire snapped at the others who were even more shocked at the reaction.

Vinyl could hear that the cream colored mare was on her last nerve for the day and didn't hesitate any longer, sticking her hoof out towards the two upper classmates. The others rapidly followed along and soon they made a circle with each having a hoof in the center.

“Sing 'Ah'.” Claire began to instruct when she was cut off by Pinkie Pie singing.


“No, on three. Sing 'Ah' on three. Altogether now, 1... 2...” Claire tried to explain and counted the marks for them to sing at the right time.

“Ahhhh!!” Sang about half the group, not in tune with one another. A half second later the rest of the group joined in as they all tried to copy Claire and Octavia's motion of lifting their hoof upwards from the circle with mixed results.

Vinyl watched, half-amused at these attempts, as Claire rubbed her ears at the out of tune singing and grimace-smiled.

“Right, we'll work on that first thing next time.” Claire dismissed the others as she faced the board once more, trying to think of a way to make them better faster.

Vinyl was more than happy to leave the room and filed out behind the others. She noticed that Octavia stayed behind, most likely to encourage the tense earth pony and Vinyl decided that she would wait for the gray mare on the side of the door.

It wasn't much longer before Octavia came out and looked around once she was out of the practice room. She was pleasantly surprised to see that Vinyl was waiting for her, standing against the wall with her fore-hooves crossed in front of her. Once Vinyl saw that Octavia noticed her, she dropped down to all fours once more and walked along-side the earth mare as they headed back to their room to prepare for their classes for the day.

They trotted along in silence, neither one looking at the other as they were both lost in their own thoughts. Once they got to their room however, Octavia felt the need to show how happy she was at Vinyl's control over her behavior.

“Vinyl?” Octavia watched the unicorn, making sure she had her attention before continuing.

“Hmmnn?” Vinyl tilted her head towards the other mare. She had gotten use to how no one could see where she was looking and finally gotten the hang of tilting her head to show that she was paying attention.

“Thank you for staying. You were going to get up and leave after seeing how serious the oath was, but you stayed. Thank you.” Octavia placed a hoof to Vinyl's shoulder.

Vinyl in turn blushed, knowing exactly why she didn't leave. It wasn't to help out a promising group of A Cappella singers, it wasn't to make lots of new friends, it wasn't to learn and do new things, it was to please the gray mare and Vinyl knew it. She couldn't bring herself to say as much however, especially since it hadn't been more than a month since they became roommates, she was still waiting for everything to turn sour and fall apart.

“Yeah, well, whatever. I said I'd give it a shot, I can't promise anything though.” Vinyl tried to be nonchalant about it all and shrugged.

“I know, and I'm grateful all the same. I'll see you after classes, ok?” Octavia gave the white unicorn a half-hug before turning around and exiting their room to head for her first class of the day.

“Yeah, ok. I'll see you later, Tavi.” Vinyl quietly said as she watched the gray mare leave. Octavia managed to hear it and promised herself to get Vinyl to explain why she is being given nicknames when she got back. Not that she minded, but she never had one before and wanted to know why was Vinyl making them up and using them.

Once the gray mare left the room, Vinyl took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes.

(Maybe if we stay roommates and friends for over three months then I'll tell her about some of my past... Are we friends? I think we are. What if when I go to check if we are she gets insulted and then doesn't want to be my friend? Arggg, am I really doing this to myself? We'll just have to have a talk when we both get back tonight. Can't believe we have to get up extremely early for A Cappella practices. If they keep using the same old stuff as before, they're never going anywhere. Sigh, maybe something can change. Just stick with it for now Vinyl and at least work on it to please Octavia if not yourself.)

Vinyl got up as she put her glasses back on and left for her classes, trying to not think of why pleasing the gray mare meant so much to her and if the earth pony felt the same for her.

That night, both mares came back from working (either at a job or on music) and sat on their respective beds facing each other. They could tell that they both wanted to talk; now it was only a matter of who went first.

“Octavia, I -”

“Vinyl, why -”

They stopped at the same time, finding it a little odd and funny that they both wanted to speak and had tried to start at the same time. They spent a moment looking at each other, trying to let the other go first when they both tried again.

“Why do -”

“Are we -”

At this second false start, Vinyl rubbed her temple and waved for the earth pony to go first. Octavia looked back with a raised brow before asking her question.

“Vinyl, why do you sometimes call me 'Tavi' or 'Octy'?” The light-gray mare looked at the white one in curiosity, hoping that they were friends and that's why she was getting nicknames.

Vinyl for her part shifted on the bed before deciding to go whole-hog about it.

“Well, at first I wanted to annoy, well, tease you I guess.” Gray brows came down in a pensive frown at this straight forward answer.

“But then, I liked hanging out with you and I, uh, never really had any friends and never had the chance to give someone a nickname, so I wanted to do that with you, I guess.” Vinyl's hoof found it's favorite spot on her head as she looked at the ground, she had hinted at what she wanted to ask in the first place and was nervous about how Octavia would respond.

Octavia's face cleared up and even went into a large grin. They were friends then!

“While I don't like that it was at first to tease me, but I am pleased to call you my friend and do not mind any nicknames you come up with; though I do prefer 'Tavi' than 'Octy'.” The earth pony grinned as she hopped in place slightly, her joy spilling out in her moments, unaware that she was under scrutiny as soon as she said that she was pleased to be friends with the unicorn.

Vinyl grinned back, happy to know that she was friends with somepony and that they didn't mind having nicknames.

“Cool. Did you want to do anything in particular tonight?” Vinyl leaned back, all her stress suddenly gone in a few short moments.

Octavia smiled in return and put a hoof to her chin in thought.

“Did you want to just sing whatever we want for the night?” Octavia looked over at the white mare, knowing that she didn't seem too pleased with the selection of songs they did that morning during practice.

“Sure!” Vinyl sat up properly so that they could sing together better and they spent the rest of the evening shifting through different songs as they felt like it, picking up from a word or phrase and moving into another different song.

While both mares enjoyed their night much like they did every other night, Vinyl was distracted by a difference in Octavia's voice. It wasn't noticeable to anypony who wasn't paying extreme attention, but with Vinyl's perfect hearing and constant singing with the gray mare, she knew something was off just by a little bit but she couldn't put her hoof on it.

By the end of the night when the two settled down for bed, the white unicorn figured it must have been nothing since Octavia never said anything about it.

The last thought the young DJ had was that she would do just about anything to make sure her friend was happy, no matter what the cost.

I get knocked down

View Online

At the beginning of another day and another Equestrian Girls practice, Claire Belle psyching herself for the day ahead of her, making sure she didn't have an issue this time around. Some of the others who arrived early started to chat while waiting for everyone else to arrive.

Since Octavia left early to help Claire, Vinyl figured she may as well go too and amused herself by listening to Pinkie Pie talking with Lyra. Vinyl was starting to wonder if the pink mare ever slept and watched her wave her fore-hooves around.

“You mean you can't see them?” Pinkie Pie asked of the mint-green unicorn.

“I'm a little confused. Who are we looking for again?” Lyra tilted her head and looked about the room.

“The readers! The humans sitting at their desks watching every move we make.” Pinkie Pie pointed to the fourth wall and waved.

Now it was both Vinyl and Lyra who were confused at the pink mare's antics. Vinyl turned to look at the other unicorn to express her concern for the party mare's sanity when Lyra suddenly looked all about herself and asked lots of questions about these 'humans'.

“Where are they? How can you see them? What do they look like?” Lyra sat next to Pinkie Pie and tried to look in the same direction she was.

“Oh, well, they're all over the place. And I've always been able to see them, especially after I got my Cutie Mark and my Pinkie Sense got stronger and I'm not sure if anypony else have been able to see them too. But most humans that watch us are friendly.” Pinkie Pie smiled at the unicorn, about to continue when Vinyl cut her off.

“Yeah, right. Next she'll be telling you about the seaponies.”

“There's seaponies?!” Lyra asked excitedly, turning to the white unicorn. Vinyl's response was to face-hoof, which Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth caught sight of as they joined the trio with everypony else who started to arrive.

“What's happening?” Cloud Kicker asked as she snickered at the expression on the DJ's face.

“Pinkie Pie is filling Lyra's head with weird non-sense. And she's believing every bit of it.” Vinyl explained as she waved a hoof to the pair who had gone back to discussing 'humans'.

Cloud Kicker laughed loudly while Blossomforth covered her mouth with a hoof to cover her own laughter.

“I don't know. We get a lot of weirdness back home.” Cloud Kicker looked at the pair as well as Pinkie Pie grew interested in a town that already had weirdness.

“Oooh, really? Where do you live?” Pinkie asked while leaning towards the persian-blue peagasus with a grin.

“Uhm, well, Blossom and I are from Ponyville. It's just south of Canterlot and while it's a close knit town, it's actually rather large. We get anything from interesting ponies, interesting monsters, and weird weather.” Cloud Kicker shrugged as Blossomforth nodded.

“There's lots of interesting stores too, like a bakery in the shape of a gingerbread house, or a library inside a tree and so on.” Blossomforth added a little quieter than her friend.

At the description of some of the 'weirder' parts of Ponyville, Pinkie Pie's eyes lit up and she hopped in place, excited at such a town. Even Lyra seemed interested in living in a quiet but still kind of large town.

“You know, I don't think I've ever been to Ponyville before! And I've been to a lot of places, like Manehatten, and Vanhoover, and...” as Pinkie Pie rambled on about all the places she's been (and Vinyl was rather shocked how many) a lot of the others just laughed at the hyper mare's antics and the fact that she had been to a lot of their home towns.

Octavia looked over and was thrilled to see the reserved pony make more friends and joke around with them. It was always nice to see Vinyl open up and laugh and joke with others.

Soon it was time for practice and Claire called everyone to attention. They would be focusing on the singing portion that morning and it was as grueling a session as the day before.

Vinyl was rather surprised at how much work and effort went into learning and singing A Cappella. They practiced the different background sounds and keeping a steady beat, singing in harmony with each other, and they even started to learn some of the songs they would be doing.

Vinyl was once again concerned about the kind of results that Claire was expecting, but kept her opinion to herself. Just like with the dancing, each pony had different styles and Claire and Octavia had their work cut out for them to get them to work together as a unit.

Pinkie Pie had such a wide range of noises she knew that it was hard to get her to use only certain ones.

Cloud Kicker, Blossomforth, Beautiful Composition and Arpeggio knew very little A Cappella and had to start at the beginning, which was causing Claire to get very anxious. Octavia taught them instead to lower everypony's stress levels.

Lyra was once again extremely stiff and the more she tried to make the proper sounds, the more a very pronounced Canterlot noble's accent came out. Octavia handled teaching the mint-green unicorn, giving specific tips and advice to counter a noble's upbringing.

Vinyl, being the curious pony that she was (especially when it came to a certain light gray mare), had half an ear on their conversation while she practiced. She unhappily noticed how after a few more specific tips and a look of understanding between the two mares, Lyra was able to sing in a more relaxed manner.

Once Vinyl realized that she was becoming jealous of the mint-green unicorn and the understanding the two had shared, she gave herself a mental shake and focused on what Claire was teaching her.

Since Vinyl had good hearing and coping abilities, she was able to quickly catch onto the new ways to sing, even though she too had to start at the beginning with the basics.

The one Claire had the most trouble with was Windy Day, who still wasn't speaking loud enough to be heard. After trying to hear her for a while, Claire gave up and just nodded along, still not hearing a thing and unsure if the peagasus was getting it right or not.

As soon as Claire Belle suggested they run through the whole thing, Vinyl knew it would end horribly. She only just managed to not face-hoof by imagining Octavia's reaction if she put up a fuss.

The singing went just as badly as Vinyl knew it would, most couldn't remember anything after the first eight bars, with the exception of the two upper classmates, Pinkie Pie and Vinyl.

Pinkie Pie grew a thoughtful expression as the rest of the group tried to keep up and find the right words while Claire was trying really hard to not lose her cool.

Octavia was proud of Vinyl's memory while the unicorn awaited for the inevitable halt and explosion. Claire made them go through the whole set though and took a few calming breaths before addressing the group once they had finished.

“Alright, remember, we have gig in a little over a week, so let's, ah, put our best effort into this, ok?” Claire said with a small frown on and small eye twitch.

Everyone gave a small sigh of relief; it had been a tough two hours of practice. Vinyl noticed that Pinkie Pie had a small frown on and walked over to check on her.

“What's wrong Pinks?” Vinyl gave the pink mare a nudge with her shoulder.

“Hmm? Oh, it's nothing much. I'm just wondering why nopony else was able to sing along. I usually can get just about anypony to sing with me and I mean anypony, even if they really really don't want to, I mean like REALLY don't -” Vinyl was slowly getting used to the hyper mare and knew to cut her off early.

“Maybe...” She tried to think of how to phrase what she was going to say next without sounding like she didn't believe the party mare's abilities, even if she really didn't.

“Maybe they need to get to know you more or for your abilities to rub off on them more?” Vinyl was pleased with herself, it sounded reasonable at least.

Pinkie grew thoughtful once more and began to nod along.

“You're right my fine furred DJ! And I know just the way to fix this! I'll just have to be really super close friends with everypony!” Pinkie Pie's eyes lit up as she grinned, her whole demeanor becoming lighter while Vinyl's hoof found a comfy spot on her face. She could already tell this was a disaster in the making and felt bad for the first target of the hyper mare's, who seemed to be Lyra.

As the slightly shocked mint-green mare walked out with the excited pink mare hanging off a mint-green shoulder, Cloud Kicker walked over to the white unicorn laughing.

“What did you say? She looked like Hearth's Warming Day had been canceled and then after a few words from you, she's right as rain.” Cloud Kicker slung a leg around Vinyl's shoulders.

The white unicorn stiffened at the touch before seeing the friendly grin on the persian-blue peagasus' face. Vinyl shook her head and waved towards the retreating ponies.

“I've unleashed the party kraken.” Cloud Kicker laughed as she gave the DJ a playful shove before heading out as well.

Vinyl just shook her head at the peagasus' antics as she waited for her roommate outside the doorway once more.

It didn't take as long to wait as the previous day and once more Octavia was pleasantly surprised to find she had a white shadow following her.

“You know, you don't have to wait for me.” Octavia stated with a smile at the unicorn who was looking at everything except the light-gray mare next to her.

At the earth pony's words Vinyl froze in place and glanced at the gray pony before looking towards the ground with her ears flat on her skull.

“Oh. Uh, alright. I guess I'm bothering you huh? Sorry.” Vinyl's voice trailed off during her response as she started to back away.

Octavia stopped as well and looked at the other mare in concern; she could somehow hear all the self-doubt and anxiety in the unicorn's words and knew it was part of something deeper.

“Vinyl, wait. I didn't mean it like how you're thinking. I just don't want to hold you up from doing something else. I don't mind at all if you want to wait for me.” Octavia stepped next to the white mare and gave her a hug while nuzzling the side of Vinyl's face with her own.

Vinyl froze one more, unsure how to take the nuzzling. She had never had anypony do that before; most couldn't stand being near her let along nuzzle.

(Well, actually, since becoming friends with Octavia, the list of ponies who are 'friends' or at least can stand being near me for long has grown...Guess I shouldn't be so anxious. At least now I know what a nuzzle feels like... Should I give one back...? Let's give it a try.) Vinyl hesitantly returned the nuzzle and hug which made Octavia almost squeal in delight.

Soon it turned into a hugging session, with the gray mare comforting the white one after her moment of insecurity, neither one caring that they had stopped in the middle of the sidewalk.

“Vinyl, before thinking that I am annoyed, upset, or angry with you, please check to be sure. I would hate to have our friendship ruined by a simple misunderstanding.” Octavia whispered to Vinyl as they continued to hug. Vinyl nodded, so glad that she hadn't annoyed the one good friend she had that she couldn't speak; Pinkie Pie didn't quite count in this regard, she seemed like the kind of mare you would have to really force to NOT be friends with.

They stayed like that, giving each other mental and physical support, for a few minutes before hearing a shout that came from a pony who seemed to be mildly surprised at a pink mare's antics at being 'closer friends'. They both broke apart with blushes at the long hugging-nuzzling session while they scrapped their hooves along the ground.

After some light chuckles at the sight of each other's slightly embarrassed face, they continued down the road to their room and the classes they had that day.

Having morning practice sessions didn't mess up Vinyl's daily routine and gave her a chance to see Octavia in one of her many elements. The white unicorn had already gotten a hold of all the dates for the various performances Octavia would be doing with her many clubs and groups and the DJ made sure to have plenty of time to go and see her perform.

For the rest of the week, the Equestrian Girls switched between learning the songs to learning the movements every other day to be ready for their first gig. Claire pushed them just as hard as the first two sessions in order to be ready for their first performance.

The morning practices gave Vinyl plenty of opportunities to listen to her roommate sing, which was causing her to slowly grow concerned about it. Vinyl heard how Octavia's singing was slowly losing it's quality, sounding huskier and losing its pitch over the course of the next five days.

Vinyl also noticed how the gray mare was drinking more and more water and hot tea with honey in it. It got to the point that in order to save Octavia some time boiling the tea water, Vinyl had learned a spell that could heat a surface or object within moments. While Octavia knew it taxing to use spells constantly, Vinyl insisted that it was practice and helped to build up endurance.

The earth pony instead tried to make tea without the unicorn's help or notice, not wanting to draw attention to how much she was starting to drink in a day. Vinyl did notice however, and after the fifth day of drinking lots of tea and water to sooth her throat, Vinyl insisted that the light-gray mare go to the doctor.

Octavia was nervous about going alone (something about never having gone to the doctor's office before) and had requested that Vinyl go with her. The white unicorn didn't have very fond memories of doctors either, the ones at the orphanage had seen too many foals come and go and were rather unsympathetic, but Vinyl was willing to go for moral support.

As they walked to the campus doctor/nurse's office, Vinyl couldn't help but get curious about Octavia's lack of doctor visits.

“So, have you never been sick before? It that why you haven't ever gone to the doctor's?” Vinyl peered at the gray mare next to her from the corner of her eyes, just managing to catch the small flinch that flashed across Octavia's face.

“No, I've been sick before.” The earth pony stated while staring ahead.

Vinyl waited for a moment before she realized that Octavia wasn't going to continue; she tried not to get anxious about the lack of response and chalked it up to nerves of going to a doctor's office.

Soon they found the offices, which doubled as the medical major's classroom. E.U.C.C. did have a policy that if you weren't willing to help others learn from whatever ails you, you could request for a private meeting with a doctor instead. It was part of a survey of choices that everyone took when they first came to the school.

The buildings were white and rather long, having to be ready to serve hundreds of students should they get sick. They were well staffed, with the teachers being very good doctors and some extra regular doctors on hoof just in case, plus any student they knew would be good enough to help. In order to be more accessible for the entire campus, the medical buildings were exactly in the middle of the school, making the trip there almost the exactly the same amount of time no matter where one started from.

Vinyl was slightly interested to note that Octavia had opted out of the public doctors and was ushered into a private room. Since she wanted privacy, the white unicorn had to stay in the large white waiting room, which was there for those who were providing moral support.

It was a large room, with light-cream walls and white furniture, which consisted of mostly chairs with cream colored cushions on them and some end-tables covered in magazines and newspapers.

Vinyl was too nervous to read and just sat while trying to think of anything but the gray mare and failing. After a tense ten minutes, the doctor and Octavia came out from the private room, talking quietly. Vinyl felt sharp relief at the sight of the musician, until she noticed that Octavia seemed sad about whatever it was that was going on.

“Please let us know what you decide to do, and hopefully it all turns out alright.” The dark blue stallion stated as he pat Octavia's shoulder with a hoof. The pair had stopped in front of the waiting unicorn and it was at this point that Vinyl was starting to panic about what had happened and looked between the doctor and her roommate rapidly.

“Thank you Doctor. I will.” Octavia quietly said while looking at the floor. The doctor nodded and turned back to his offices as Octavia looked at the white unicorn's neck, unable to look her in the face just yet.

“Tavi, what's wrong? Please, tell me. I'll help any way I can.” Vinyl put a hoof to the gray mare's shoulder as she tried to look her in the face, something Octavia avoided doing.

“I'll tell you back in our room. Please, can we go? I don't like the smell of these offices.” Octavia murmured as she turned to go. Vinyl nodded in agreement, she never did like the sterile smell either.

The trek back to their rooms was a quiet and subdued affair. Vinyl wasn't sure what the right response was for this and kept quiet instead until they got into their room, which is when she whirled to face the earth pony and demanded answers.

“Alright, we're in our room and I'm not getting sidetracked or anything! What's wrong, please tell me before the suspense gets to me!” Vinyl stood rather close to the light-gray mare, unwilling to let her escape from her explanation.

Octavia sighed, she was rather surprised that Vinyl had stayed that quiet during their walk home and had expected this out-burst much earlier. Even with her bad news, she was happy to see that Vinyl followed her request to wait until they got back to the privacy of their room before starting the inquisition.

“Ok, ok. Here it is.” Octavia used quieter tones, making Vinyl even more worried about what happened.

“You were right about my voice, there was something wrong with it.... I have nodes.” Octavia announced with as much seriousness as though she was announcing the death of a famous singer.

Vinyl was rather confused, she hadn't heard of nodes before but Octavia was acting really serious about it. But then again, she wasn't a doctor nor a professional singer, and this was something that affected the voice.

“What's, what's nodes? What does it do to your voice?” Vinyl asked nervously, sitting down suddenly in front of the gray pony who stared back sadly, who also sat down in the middle of the room.

“Oh Vinyl. It stands for vocal nodules. It's the rubbing of vocal chords without proper lubrication.” Octavia said as she finally looked Vinyl in the face since coming back from the doctor's.

The DJ was in shock; nodes sounded painful, especially for a singer.

(Wait, a singer! Octavia is a singer! She sings the best! What's this going to do to her voice?! And Claire! Claire won't stop pressuring us!)

“That sounds really painful! You've got to stop singing! At least until this goes away or or something!” Vinyl placed a hoof to Octavia's shoulder, concerned for her health and well-being.

“You know why I can't stop. I love to sing, just like how I love all forms of music. I'll just try to hold back a little so I don't get hurt as much.” Octavia shook her head and leaned forward until her head rested against the white chest. She didn't want Vinyl to see how much this was hurting her nor the sight of tears in her eyes; having nodes was something Octavia had not expected to happen to her.

Vinyl was getting better at trying to comfort others, or at least trying to; she pulled Octavia closer with both hooves and rested her head on top of Octavia's.

“You know Claire's not going to stop right? She's pushing everyone hard, she's not going to let up on you. If you won't stop, will you tell her about it?” Vinyl softened her voice as she felt small trickles of wetness on her front.

Octavia shrugged, unsure of what to do. She tried to not cry, it wasn't the proper thing to do, but she couldn't help it. Everything seemed to be falling down around her ears, and she had wanted so much to help Claire Belle get to the finals once again.

“What about your instruments? Can you still play music without hurting yourself?” (Is all music taken away from you?)

“The doctor said that it only effects a pony when they use their voice; to talk, shout... sing. Playing instruments is fine and if a pony is rather musical, it's suggested to do that instead so that they don't hurt themselves more.” Vinyl could barely make out what was being said, Octavia never taking her head off of its resting place.

Vinyl sighed happily, if nothing else she would be able to play instruments and still be able to bring more music to the world. She still frowned though, even if Octavia was able to play instruments, knowing that an aspect of music was barred from her would still hurt.

“Is there a way to fix this?” Vinyl asked as she used her magic to start her laptop and began a search for more information about nodes. The Internet hasn't let her down yet, one just had to be sure of the sources.

“My case is in the advanced stages, normally by backing off, not doing as much singing or other things would lessen the effects and the swelling would go down. But I've been singing and performing for a long time now and all the strain of doing so is catching up with me. If it gets worse, I may have to get surgery, which will hamper or completely wreck my singing.” Octavia had both hooves around Vinyl in a strong hug, very grateful for the support and comfort the unicorn was offering.

Vinyl flinched, the thought of all the things that go with surgery running through her mind, as well as the cost of doing so. Her mind also went to how nervous Octavia was just going to the doctor's office, going in for surgery on her vocal chords would be terrifying. The white unicorn cast her mind around, trying to think of a way to help soothe the light-gray earth pony's nerves and saw her favorite mug sitting on her desk. It was seeing a lot of use with all the tea Octavia had been drinking lately and gave Vinyl an idea.

“Alright, well, let's take the rest of the day off and relax, ok? Come on, let's get you to bed, I'm sure it's been an exhausting day for you.” As the DJ led the other musician to her bed, she used her magic to start the process of making tea as well as getting the bed ready for an occupant.

Octavia let herself be led to bed and tucked in, enjoying the smell of tea and honey being made which was already helping clear her mind. Within moments the gray mare was in bed with her mug nearby steaming and ready for her. Vinyl worried for a moment about playing music to help or not but decided in the end to put on some of her more instrument-based mixes, still musical but no lyrics least the earth pony want to to sing along.

The two friends remained in their room the rest of the day, listening to the not so soft music and taking it easy. Vinyl stayed near Octavia and made sure to help with anything she needed. The unicorn wasn't sure if she was doing a proper job of comforting her friend, but the earth mare seemed rather pleased and that was what mattered the most.

(If Claire doesn't watch how she acts towards Tavi, then she's asking for trouble which I'll be more than happy to give her. Maybe there's something we haven't heard or know about with these 'nodes'... Let's see what the trusty internet says...) Vinyl spent most of her afternoon looking at various medical sites, trying to find more about what ailed her friend as Octavia took a nap to sleep off the blues and be ready for dealing with nodes.

Pinch Me

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The day after finding out she had nodes, Octavia had noticed how Vinyl was avoiding singing or songs with lyrics when they were together. The earth pony appreciated the thought, but she didn't want to stop listening to a certain kind of music because she had nodes; she wasn't going to let them rule her whole life.

Vinyl had found more information about nodes and the cost of the surgery through online and different pamphlets, it wasn't going to be cheap and she had no idea what Octavia's home environment was like in order to help. The earth pony was acting rather evasive about her family and Vinyl didn't want to press, she was doing the same thing after all about her own history. The light gray mare hadn't quite decided on what to do about her nodes and it was making the DJ anxious; somehow Octavia had found a way into the unicorn's heart and that scared Vinyl, especially since Octavia was in pain and she couldn't do much to help.

In an attempt to lessen the pain, they used the L33t journal much more and it often just sat in the middle of their room to save them time from passing it back and forth. Octavia thought it was a little silly to go that far but Vinyl insisted, so the gray mare followed along thinking that it was rather sweet of her to worry so much.

Vinyl, on the other hoof, kept a close watch on the leader of the Equestrian Girls during the next three practices before their 'gig'; Claire Belle never let up on anypony and Octavia wouldn't speak up about her new health concern.

Claire had been forcing everyone to run through what they learned after every practice, which at least made them not so nervous about it; they knew they still weren't very good and that nothing was too much worse than Claire chewing them out.

The upside to all the work they were putting into it was that they had the singing part, it was just the movements that were tripping them up.

During practice, the days after discovering Octavia's nodes and the two hour long 'discussion' about why Octavia didn't want to say anything about it, Vinyl figured out a subtle way to make sure Octavia had plenty of water. She would use her magic to levitate water for herself and no one would notice the extra bottle that Octavia would get; the only drawback was that Vinyl had to drink or least look like she was drinking a lot more water more often than she really needed or wanted.

The next day though, Vinyl noticed how no one paid extra attention to when the white unicorn was casting magic, having seen her use it so often before which meant she didn't have to drink as much in order to help Octavia at the same time; though she kept a close eye out just in case.

Claire rode hard on everyone but especially went after Octavia, whom she expected to set the example. After each practice, Octavia would rush the brash unicorn out to their room where she would hug, comfort and calm the mare who had started to not speak at all during practices unless it was to sing or to warm up; Vinyl didn't want to upset the gray mare more than she already was and knew that if she spoke to anyone in their practice sessions she would explode.

It was during one of these hugging sessions the day before their gig when Pinkie Pie knocked on their door. Vinyl grumbled slightly as she broke from the hug while Octavia just smiled at how much the unicorn didn't want to stop.

The light gray mare had long since given into the 'no speaking when in their dorm room' rule which was for the sake of saving her voice for later; though Octavia joked that it was just to keep her quiet (which would send Vinyl into a tizzy of blushing and furiously denying such a thing).

Vinyl stomped her way over to the door and jerk it open with a sharp “what?!”. The answer she got in return was a loud bang and confetti with streamers flying in to the room.

“Hi Vinyl! How are you doing? Oh hey! I didn't know you two shared a room, hi Octavia! This saves me time from having to track you down! Wow, your room looks interesting!” Pinkie Pie hopped past Vinyl who had been shocked out of her annoyed state and had instinctively stepped back at the noise and sight.

Octavia covered her mouth to hide her giggles at seeing the white mare in a shocked stupor.

“Hi Pinkie Pie. What brings you here?” Octavia asked once she had control of the giggles, though she tilted her head in question when Vinyl shot her an annoyed glace because she was speaking.

“Ooohh, you guys are getting better at the whole 'telepathy' thingy, though why are you annoyed that she's talking Vinyl? Do you not like her? Do you not like the sound of her voice? I thought you two were really good friends? *GASP* Does this mean you're fri-enemies? Those aren't fun at all! Hmmm, though you know, Tavi, your voice does sound weird, and not the good kind of weird, like the taste of fizzy sarsaparilla... Are you ok?” Pinkie Pie leaned towards the light gray mare as the two roommates were surprised at just how perceptive yet still jump to conclusions the party mare was.

Octavia shook free of her surprise first and smiled rudely; the truth would come out eventually, might as well tell the pink mare and make her promise not to tell anyone until Octavia was ready to do so.

“Vinyl's just worried about me using my voice too much, and I'm pretty sure she likes how my voice sounds normally...” Octavia looked to the unicorn who nodded a few times to the statement, causing Octavia to smile a little more naturally.

“And we are friends. It's just that I have vocal nodules, which means that it hurts to sing, shout or even talk sometimes. The only way to get better is to not do so much of all those things, but I don't want to stop singing... Promise you won't tell anypony about it? I'll let the others know when the time is right.” Octavia trailed off as she noticed the pink mare's sadness.

“I understand, and I'll Pinkie Promise to not tell anypony! Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye! And singing is really fun, but getting hurt because of it isn't! This means a change of plans...” Pinkie Pie sat down suddenly a she tapped a hoof to her chin. The two roommates shared a confused look at the odd promise, but it sounded serious, even if the motions weren't.

While Octavia had been explaining everything, Vinyl had gotten a cup of tea and honey ready to soothe her throat. Octavia shook her head with a smile at Vinyl's paranoia and obsessive worrying, but took the offered cup all the same; after all it wouldn't hurt to drink it.

“What plans Pinkie?” Vinyl turned to the party mare, a little concerned at what she may have been planning in the first place.

“Well, I've been hanging out with all the different ponies on our team like you suggested and I've hung out with everyone but you two and Claire. Claire is really hard to find, almost like she doesn't want to hang out with anypony... So now, it's your turn! And since you guys are roommates, we should all hang out together!” Pinkie Pie grinned at the dumbfounded expression on the others' faces, though Vinyl's hoof soon found its second favorite spot, which was against her forehead.

Vinyl felt bad for literally having released the party kraken on the rest of the Equestrian Girls; she hadn't known that that was what the party mare would do from just a couple of words said in an attempt to cheer her up after a bad practice.

“Oh, uhm, I don't think Claire would want to hang out too much right now Pinkie Pie. Though I don't see an issue with the three of us doing so, what did you have in mind?” Octavia tried not to laugh at the image of Claire and the extreme partier hanging out.

Pinkie tapped her chin for a moment longer before her whole face lit up with a large smile.

“Come on! I know just what we'll do!” She put a hoof around both their shoulders and led the way out of the dorms.

Constantly getting hugs from others lately made Vinyl not stiffen or get as nervous while being touched, so she could use the extra focus to wonder how the party mare was able to drag the two along and not have to stand completely on two hooves, doing some kind of leaning forward thing but without putting much weight on the two friends; though she wasn't getting far in the endeavor. By the time that the DJ just accepted that she would never really figure out how Pinkie Pie did anything, the trio found themselves in the center of a presentation of the Film, Fashion and Art Majors.

The different Majors were putting on various performances, showing some of their first works of the year; this was a way for them to learn how to work with deadlines and putting their work on display. The Music Majors were planning something similar at the end of the month, using various methods and magic so that the music didn't clash too badly as they all played roughly at the same time while the Clowning and Science Majors also gave presentations and performances.

Vinyl actually had that whole evening planned out around what band Octavia would be playing in at the different times; she wanted to see the gray mare in a proper performance setting. But for the current collaboration, Pinkie led the way to where the Film Majors were showing off what had been made.

“See, the Film Ponies made some really cool movies and since it's not a big ol' company or anything, they're having the tickets for cheap! One ticket is only two bits! And you'd have plenty left over for popcorn and slushies and candies and they don't serve cupcakes but it's still pretty good. And this way you won't have to worry about your voice because only a meany rude pants would talk during a movie!” Pinkie Pie grinned at the two who had also begun to smile at the idea of watching a movie.

“You know Pinks, that's not a bad idea. What do you say Tavi?” Vinyl looked at the gray who seemed rather interested in what was to be shown.

“It sounds like an excellent idea. Let's get our tickets.” Octavia started to lead the way but was soon overtaken by the bouncing pink mare who ordered tickets for all three of them to see a film that had been the final project of Russling Chuckles, about a pony who found a green tribal mask with special abilities who gets into trouble with the local gangs.

It was the kind of film that had the trio laughing throughout most of it, though Pinkie Pie did ask why Vinyl was wearing her glasses in the dark theater at the start to which Vinyl had stated that she was fine and didn't want to talk about it.

Octavia had softly reassured the pink mare while Vinyl felt bad for snapping at her, but she didn't want to argue about that topic in public. The trio enjoyed their movie and watched some comedic shorts made by the younger students that came on afterwards before looking at the rest of the collaboration.

They watched the Fashion Show for a little while, to see some of the newest trends and browsed some of the catalogs the Fashion Majors had set up. Vinyl was mildly surprised to find Octavia checking the formal suites; when questioned, Octavia admitted that she didn't have any formal attire that she liked and was looking for something to wear as 'formal' without hindering her playing ability.

As Octavia turned the page to simpler ware, such as neckties, scarves and bow-ties, Vinyl slowly grinned as an idea came to her on how to help her friend with her fashion problem. After quickly memorizing who was selling the clothes in the magazine they were currently looking at, she pulled the light gray and the pink mares away under the pretense of wanting to look at the art displays next.

As the trio walked over to the room that led to all the displays of the various arts, they came across Lyra walking with a pale gray-olive earth pony with a deep orange mane. As the two were exiting the room, they noticed the three who were about to enter. They all stopped, a little surprise at seeing each other there; though Pinkie Pie was the first to speak, hopping around the exiting pair.

“Well hi Lyra! Are you here to enjoy all this cool stuff too? Did you see the movie? How about the fashion show? Huh? Didja didja didja?” Pinkie Pie stopped hopping to stand right in front of the duo as she leaned towards them, Lyra looking a little amused at the usual antics while the other backed away slightly in surprise at the rapid speech.

Vinyl face-hoofed at Pinkie Pie's methods while Octavia giggled politely.

“Sorry, she means well and I swear she didn't have too much sugar yet.” Vinyl stated as she pulled the pink earth pony back with her magic, while the pink mare just giggled at the feeling of weightlessness. Lyra gave a light laugh as she waved away the partial apology.

“That's ok. Allow me to introduce my new marefriend, Carrot Top. Carrot, these are my fellow A Cappella singers: Pinkie Pie, Vinyl, and Octavia.” Lyra introduced while pointing a hoof to each pony respectively.

As they exchanged greetings, Lyra and Octavia managed to make eye-contact with more understanding passing between the two as Octavia subtly raised a brow and Lyra nodded once with only a fraction of movement.

While both ponies tried to be subtle about the exchange, it was not lost on either Vinyl or Carrot Top, though Pinkie Pie was off in her own little world making plans for a 'congratulations for your new relationship!' party. Lyra noted the slightly growing looks of superstition on the two ponies (noting with an amused glance that Pinkie Pie was still in planning party mode) and decided that it would take some private explaining to ease any of the doubt Carrot Top was starting to have.

“Well, it was nice seeing you girls. Come on Carrot Top, let's see what movie Pinkie Pie was talking about.” Lyra smiled at her marefriend as she ushered the pale gray-olive pony away from the trio.

“I'll tell you guys when the party is, ok?! BYE!! Enjoy your date!” Pinkie Pie waved to the two retreating figures while Lyra waved back with Carrot Top asking about the look the mint-green mare had shared with the gray one.

As Pinkie Pie led the way inside the exhibition with happy hops, Vinyl tried to focus on Lyra's response; the white unicorn didn't like how the two seemed to bond and understand each other so well and wanted to know what was going on.

“Well, Octavia understands what my parents are like and why I'm on the 'outs' with them.” Lyra explained sheepishly. Carrot Top was a little annoyed with the vague response and tried to get a more in-depth answer.

“... I see. And you are not getting along with your family because...?” Carrot Top peered at the mint-green unicorn as they walked farther down the hallway, making it so Vinyl could only barely make out what the answer was.

“Because I like mares and didn't want them to tell me how to live my whole life.” Lyra said simply with a small shrug, causing Carrot Top to nuzzle her in comfort and affection at the revelation.

Before Vinyl could speculate on how Octavia was able to relate to the mint-green mare, she heard the gray mare in question calling.

“Vinyl, what are you doing staring off into space? Aren't you coming, I thought you wanted to look at all the displays.” Octavia stepped up next to the white unicorn, speaking softly with the knowledge that Vinyl would still hear every word due to her hearing.

“Oh, er, nothing. I was just thinking of some, ah, DJ stuff. Yeah. Anyways, let's head inside. What are we waiting for?” Vinyl tried to deflect the curious mare as she trotted past her into the art exhibit. Octavia just shook her head at the white mare's attempt at dismissing what she was doing and followed along with a smile.

Inside, they found Windy Day standing in front of an interesting painting, depicting a tornado that held a mis-mash of things inside of it, with a long serpent-like shadow in the background who seemed to be laughing as the tornado spun in place in the middle of a dessert of a town, with houses broken down and not much greenery left on any plants nearby. The trio noticed how ponies would stop by, become distrubed at the painting, and as Windy Day quietly said something they would leave.

Pinkie Pie led the way over to the peagasus and they stopped in front of the painting and its creator.

“Hey Windy Day! Oooh, is this the painting you were making the day we hung out?” Pinkie Pie asked as she tilted her head this way and that as she looked at the art. “Is that chocolate rain in the background?!”

“This is to represent the day that the spirit of disharmony breaks free of his stone prison and reigns once more.”

Vinyl and Octavia stared in confusion at the sky-blue mare, one with no understanding of what was being said and the other with complete understanding but unwilling to make a comment about such a thing.

“Oooh, ok. That makes sense.” Pinkie Pie stopped tilting her head and just looked at the painting for a while longer as the others tried to think of anything to say.

“Well, it was nice seeing you here Windy Day. We didn't know that you were an Art Major, good luck with your painting. We'll see you later, alright?” Octavia said as she put a hoof to the pink mare's shoulder to get her attention to continue on their tour of the arts.

“Oh, I'm not an Art Major, I'm in the Art Club. I try to warn ponies of their impending doom through works of art...”

Vinyl's eyes grew wide at this statement and decided that it was high time to move on.

“Hoookay. That sounds wonderful, good luck with that. Come on Tavi, Pinkie, let's go look at that thing over there. Bye Windy Day!” Vinyl pushed at the others to get them to move on since they had stopped to try and figure out what was said.

The three friends continued to look at all the art that was masterfully presented, amazed that ponies could create such things. Since they spent the afternoon sightseeing, they grabbed lunch at the Baking Club's stand, which for some odd reason Pinkie Pie had been banned from helping at. As Octavia and Vinyl watched the hyper mare eat her way through a dozen of cupcakes and muffins, they began to suspect why the baker couldn't help her club.

If it weren't for the fact that the two roommates didn't have Pinkie Pie's endless energy, they would have stayed out until late that night; but they had to retire a little after suppertime with the still hyper mare waving them off.

Vinyl was especially happy at how their day had turned out, it seemed to have both lifted Octavia's spirit and help her feel a little better. The young DJ realized that trying to do everything for the gray mare may have been just as hurtful as helpful, and the first thing she did when they got back to their room was to take back the 'no talking' rule.

“Are you sure Vinyl?” Octavia asked, curious as to where the sudden change of mind came from. Vinyl scrapped a hoof along the ground as she sat near her desk while the other was near her own.

“Yeah, I mean, I realized how stupid the rule was and while I don't want you to hurt yourself more, I shouldn't try and tell you how to live.” Vinyl flipped her ears back as she realized that if the thing Lyra and Octavia had bonded over was controlling parents, then she must have seemed pretty bad in the light gray mare's eyes.

Octavia noticed Vinyl's self-realization and how much more depressed she became because of it. She sat next to the white unicorn and gave her a hug, casting her mind about for what may have caused Vinyl to be so unsure of herself only to come up with the things she had been worrying about since finding out the latest 'issue'.

“I am grateful that you care about my health, truly. And while that 'rule' was a touch silly, your heart was in the right place. I'll make sure to take care of my voice as much as possible, don't you worry.” Octavia rested her head on top of Vinyl's which had dropped lower during her reflection.

At the light gray mare's words, Vinyl knew her overbearing actions were forgiven and relaxed a little, grateful for the hug and kind words. The two friends stayed in their room the rest of the evening, catching up on their homework that had been put aside when Pinkie had came in that morning.

However, they were so tired that they went to bed early; the next day they had half-practice along with their gig in the afternoon.

Claire Belle ran through their performance the next morning a few more times before finishing practice early so not to exhaust everyone and to relax before their first live performance. In an attempt to not stress herself and others out, Claire refrained from her usual criticism; for which Vinyl was grateful since Octavia had held back a little to save her voice for their gig that day.

In order to not worry about performing in front of a large audience, Vinyl prepared for all the things they were going to do in her classes, thinking of how all this extra attention was extremely helpful to getting good grades. She settled into her work and only stopped when Octavia told her it was time to go.

Since Vinyl hadn't actually paid attention to what Claire said about their gig (first having been distracted with how she had complained at their first meeting and then in an attempt to stay out of trouble) the unicorn just followed Octavia out of their dorm room to the edge of campus that was actually rather close by.

They were to perform for a local fraternity that was hosting a mixer, for which they had to constantly remind the original party mare that she could NOT help them with it, they had to perform. The fraternity's residence was near the music dorms on the edge of campus, with a house that was three stories deep inside the earth to have more room for their members. As with the rest of campus, there were a lot of trees around and close by the fraternity.

As the Equestrian Girls arrived, they set up on a a small multi-tiered stage outside the back doors of the building, facing the majority of the crowd who was enjoying a cookout along with other party supplies. They had three rows, with Cloud Kicker, Windy Day, Vinyl and Pinkie Pie in back, Blossomforth, Arpeggio and Lyra in the middle, and Beautiful Composition, Octavia and Claire Belle in front.

Vinyl tried very hard to keep from being annoyed and face-hoofing at performing so soon since they first started working together.

Vinyl did have one thing to say about the quality of the performance, they got most of the singing down. A little out of tune, but together for the most part; it was their movements that were out of time. It also didn't didn't help that the party was outside and had no acoustics. While they sang, Windy day couldn't stop moving, Beautiful Composition was going too early and Lyra had gotten stiff again from performing in front of snobbish ponies.

Claire and Octavia never really saw any of this since they were in front but could tell by the faces around them that it was bad. Vinyl tried to remain neutral and focused internally, though as a dark blue peagasus demand that they stop, Vinyl focused on Octavia, knowing that her nodes were acting up already judging by how she was gasping and wincing when she thought no one was looking.

After a quiet and pretty quick discussion with the pony hosting the party, Claire turned sharply around to call to the Equestrian Girls.

“Come on, let's head out.” Claire led the way from the field that the party was at and once they were almost to their practice room, turned to face everypony once more.

“I want everyone to remember how you feel right now so you'll never want to feel this way again!” Vinyl rolled her eyes, she couldn't believe Claire wanted to start a blame-fest.

('Cause this is an awesome way to get us to work harder and better. Even I know not to focus on the negatives and I've only been at this for a month and a half!) Vinyl came to her surroundings once more as Claire turned to Octavia and started to chew her out as well; something the white unicorn wasn't going to stand for at all.

“Octavia, what is wrong with you? Your voice is not Aguilerian at all!”

“Oy, you leave her alone, she is working just as hard as the rest of us and you expect way too much after less than two weeks of practice! You're just -” Vinyl was planning on letting Claire have it when Octavia put a hoof on her shoulder and sighed before cutting the DJ off.

“Vinyl, stop. Claire, I'm sorry I'm not up to my usual standards.” Octavia noticed Vinyl's annoyed look and continued on. “I have nodes. I found out a few days ago.”

All the musical majoring ponies gasped while the rest looked confused and concerned, not sure what it meant. Claire's anger dropped away as she put a comforting hoof on Octavia's shoulder as Vinyl watched her from the other side.

“What's nodes?” Blossomforth asked as the others all gathered around to face Octavia, who looked up at the question.

“Vocal nodules. The rubbing of vocal chords at high frequencies without proper lubrication.” Claire responded for the gray mare, sadness laced through her voice.

Everyone's ears flattened as they thought about what that meant for a singer. Vinyl couldn't stand to see the sadness in everyone else's eyes nor the return of sadness to Octavia's and looked to the ground instead. Pinkie Pie was also sad at all these reactions and tried to think of the best way to cheer everypony up; she was getting frustrated when nothing came to mind.

“Don't worry; I will just have to hold back, because of my nodes. I love to sing and singing for the Equestrian Girls; I'm not going to stop until we're the champions.” Octavia gave a small smile to those around her, glad to have so many concerned for her.

Upon seeing the gray mare's smile and knowing that she was going to go through that pain so that the Equestrian Girls could try for the gold once more, everyone's spirits picked up slightly. Pinkie finally found the best way to cheer everyone up and shouted “group hug!” as she pulled them all together.

At the sudden hug session that caught everyone by surprise, they all laughed and did as commanded, which lifted their spirits even more. After the hug ended, Claire reminded them of practice the next day and asked Octavia to speak with her when she had a moment. The gray mare nodded before glancing over to the white unicorn who had a light blush on her face at being part of such a large group hug.

Octavia laughed at the sight of the embarrassed unicorn while Vinyl grumbled at how sappy everything was getting; everyone else was just glad to see Octavia in better spirits and if Vinyl helped her be that way then it was fine with them.

Everyone took the rest of the day off to unwind from the performance and the news about one of their best singers losing the ability to do so and went their separate ways. Claire and Octavia walked away to discuss what this would mean for the team while Vinyl debated staying put and waiting or heading back to their room.

In the end she decided to just wait back in their room, she wanted to make some proper and much cooler music unlike what they were being force to sing.

All The Right Moves

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Vinyl felt hopeful about how things would go from that point on. Since Octavia had told everypony else about her nodes and after the pretty bad performance at their first 'gig' (and Vinyl felt it would be their only gig), the DJ thought that things would change in the Equestrian Girls.

She was quickly proven wrong in the next day's practice. Claire seemed to cling even tighter to what they had been doing though she did ease up a tiny bit, something that Vinyl was willing to debate on how very little she was actually letting up.

The white unicorn promised herself that if Claire didn't let up on Octavia she was going to take matters into her own hooves and soon; the DJ did not want to see her one best friend she ever have be in constant pain because she wouldn't stop singing.

The situation didn't actually require Vinyl to do anything, since a few days after revealing her medical condition Octavia stood up for herself against the demanding pony.

“Octavia, you have to hit that last note! Regionals are a little over a month away, and this has to be perfect!” Claire reminded the group as they took another break.

“I can't. You know why, because of my nodes.” Octavia responded as a few of the others stated 'nodes' or 'her nodes' at the same time.

Vinyl was pleased to see others standing up to the controlling mare and smirked, glad that Octavia wasn't going to let Claire ruin her voice any more than needed.

“Well, then, someone needs to solo.” Claire said with a shrug and frown, she didn't want to remove one of the best singers but she didn't want to really hurt the light-gray mare.

The fact that Claire was giving in surprised most of the others and no one thought to suggest themselves or others for the solo; except for a double bass player who saw the chance and took it.

“I think Vinyl should solo.” Octavia suggested as she nodded towards the unicorn in question.

Vinyl was a little surprised, she was only barely paying attention and was, at the time of her nomination, checking that Octavia wasn't too bad off yet and needed a moment to remember the topic at hoof.

“I wouldn't mind soloing, I guess. If I could choose a different song and the arrangement for it though.” Vinyl nodded to herself, possible songs already starting to run through her mind when they were abruptly cut off at Claire's response.

“No, you'd do the set as is and that's final.” Claire said with a glare and tense smile.

Vinyl was a little shocked and felt her temper start up once more.

“Claire, these songs are old and tired. We have to go with the flow, go with the times and change things up. DJ's and all good singers know this and are constantly keeping up and changing with the evolution of music. If we want to win, we should do the same!” Vinyl stomped a hoof as she tried to present her case to the stubborn pony.

“We stick to tradition! If you don't like it, you don't have to solo. Would anyone else want to solo?” Claire broke from the odd staring contest with Vinyl (it was hard to do when one contestant was wearing sunglasses) and looked at the others in the room.

Pinkie Pie started to jump up and down while waving a hoof wildly in the air.

“Oh, oh, me, me! I'd like to solo! Can I, can I?” Pinkie Pie's innocent joy and excitement of singing lessened the growing tension and caused Vinyl to smile as she mused how it seemed to be the pink mare's talent to make others happier.

“You don't mind, do you Vee?” Pinkie's smile dropped a little as she looked at the DJ, who shook her head no and smiled back at the party mare.

“It's ok Pinkie. I'm sure you'll do fine.”

“Good. Then Pinkie Pie will solo... And please, stick to the set as it's written.” Claire asked as she rubbed a hoof on her temple, having gotten rid of one problem only to deal with another instead. At least the pink mare would do as told and not deviate too much from the plan.

After that, they spent the rest of practice working on the solo that had been changed, with lots of stops to remind the hyper pony to stick to the plan. By the time the day's practice was over, none of the others knew if they should be amused or annoyed at the constant stops; all save for two who were thinking of different problems.

Octavia could tell that Vinyl was upset at Claire's refusal to update their set and waited until they were back in their own room before confronting her about it.

“Vinyl, are you going to be ok?” Octavia sat next to the white mare who had taken a seat in front of her desk.

Vinyl's brow was furrowed as she tried to understand why someone would cling to old ways that it was going to cost them in the long run.

“Why? Why is Claire so dead set on using the same old things over and over again?” Vinyl turned to look at the mare next to her, wanting to see if it was just something she didn't get because of her up-bringing in an orphanage.

“Claire Belle wants to get back to finals and she knows that the songs used before helped them get there. She's going with what she knows has worked in the past.” Octavia sighed, thinking of how tensed and stressed out the cream earth pony has been lately because of it all.

Vinyl shook her head, unable to see how Claire couldn't see how no one else used the same songs twice.

“Octavia, you know things have to change, especially music. You know we won't get far if we use the same thing over and over again.”

Octavia couldn't think of a counter argument, her own experience in music saying much the same; so instead of continuing the discussion, Octavia merely gave the DJ a quick hug before gathering her things for classes that day.

“I'll see you this afternoon, alright?” Octavia asked as she turned towards the the door but glanced at the unicorn to see if she was annoyed by her lack of response for why Claire clung to old ways. Vinyl merely sighed and waved a hoof in a small slightly dismissive circle.

“Yeah, yeah. We're good Tavi, I'll see you later.” Vinyl levitated her headphones to lose herself in newer music before classes started; wanting to remind herself that there was better and up to date music in the world even if someponies wouldn't admit it.

For the next two weeks, Claire ran them through the whole performance as well as some techniques to harmonize and even some improvisation, to the slight confusion of the rest of the team aside from Octavia, who knew what was going to happen soon and worked just as hard as everypony else to get ready.

It was the day of the Music major's performances when Claire told everyone to meet at the old pool on the edge of campus at 10pm that night after all of their clubs and performances were over, for the A Cappella Riff Off.

Most were nervous and yet excited, something Pinkie claimed was 'nervoucited' (whatever that meant), while Vinyl just looked to her roommate for a better explanation. As the others realized that the gray mare was going to explain in a clearer manner than the cream one, they gathered around to listen instead of leaving the practice room right away as they would usually do.

“The Riff Off is something the different A Cappella groups do together in an effort to show off. We'd sing songs based on a 'category' and if you know a song that starts with or has a word from whatever song is currently being sung, you can 'cut them off' as it were. You try to sing the best/most and try to prevent the other groups from doing so. And you have to start on the last word sung or else you don't qualify.”

Everyone's expressions cleared as they understood their objective and while Claire nodded in approval of the explanation. They went their separate ways after that as some got ready for classes or tried to not worry too much about their performances that night; which was the majority of them actually since most of the singers were in some kind of Music Major.

To make it less stressful for those involved, if a pony was to perform that night as part of their classwork, they had no classes that day. Vinyl, sensing that she'd need as much energy as possible, relaxed and took naps during the day time.

Since she didn't want to mess up Octavia who would be performing something different every half hour during most of the three hour presentation, Vinyl tried not to bother her as the gray mare seemed to be meditating on her bed, or had possibly fallen asleep sitting up; the white mare wasn't sure which and didn't want to disturb her to find out.

Vinyl had her whole evening timed to the last minute to be able to watch as much as possible of Octavia's performances with the various instruments that she plays. Unfortunately, the DJ line up was done in order of seniority and popularity, meaning that the more senior and well known DJs went last while the rookies went first; which also meant that Vinyl would miss the first performance of Octavia's as a jazz player with the saxophone, which was something she had been looking forward to. Vinyl had always wondered how an earth pony could play the saxophone but felt it would be weird to ask for a private show to find out.

The music portion of the presentation would take place indoors, in a room that was specially magicked so that the music being played would stay in that particular room and not disturb the rest of the musicians. It had one long hallway with ten rooms that held a different kind of music: the orchestra, DJs, country, pop, jazz, opera, soft rock and hard rock; each was set up so that one end was the softer tones and the other was the harder tones. The doors were to be kept shut for as much as possible though the hallway had special magic on it to prevent most of the sound from escaping their issued rooms. The Clowning Majors was set up in one room while the Science Majors were in the last one, this ensured that neither Major would have to face the elements of nature unless they wanted to; some did in fact need open air, so by the time everything was ready to start it had spilled out from the one building to the nearby vicinity along with the obligatory food and drink stands.

Vinyl couldn't be sure but she thought she saw a certain light-gray mare during her set, though when she searched the crowd afterwards she couldn't find any sign of Octavia and continued with her plan, watching her roommate perform set after set that night. The light-gray mare went through different genres of music and instruments as though it was second nature to her; and after hearing her play, Vinyl knew it to be what Octavia was meant to do in life.

The earth pony played with as much passion as when she sang, bringing life and emotion to both her the music and ponies listening. Octavia soon noticed her white shadow and began to play as though they were only ones in the room, which helped her calm her nerves at playing so much in front of so many. As Vinyl followed Octavia while she went from room to room to perform, the unicorn noticed some of the other Equestrian Girls in the performances nearby doing their own projects.

Pinkie Pie was a rather good clown, doing lots of tricks and feats that the white unicorn didn't want to understand and doubt that she ever would. While she couldn't stay to watch more of the act, she had seen enough to know that it was literally what the party pony was meant to do, bring happiness to others.

Lyra played the lyre in the string quartet with Octavia and Vinyl thought she saw Carrot Top in the crowd watching as well, though it was hard to tell with how many were there to see the quartet perform and it was rude to search and find out.

Arpeggio and Claire were singers, the former of more opera-like songs and the latter of more recent pop-like songs, debunking Vinyl's theory that the cream-colored earth pony didn't know any songs from the past few years at all. The orchestra actually played as back up to a lot of singers, so the white unicorn got to hear the two sing complete sets with the light-gray earth pony providing part of the background music.

Beautiful Composition played in the orchestra as a piano player with Octavia as a double bass. The purple-navy unicorn had actually composed one of the pieces the orchestra played that night and Vinyl had to admit it was a pretty good piece; even though she didn't like classical music all that much.

Near the end of the night's performances, with only half an hour left, Octavia finally finished all of her songs and tried to catch up with the white unicorn before she could disappear into the milling crowds.

“Well hello there Vinyl. Fancy seeing you here.” The gray pony smirked at the sight of the flustered unicorn.

“Oh, ah, well hi. Fancy indeed, ah, uh, this, this isn't the hard-core rockers...” Vinyl tried to seem confused as to how she got there but gave up the act when she saw the earth pony trying to hide her giggles behind a hoof.

“Well, I just wanted to see you were any good at all those instruments you have.” Vinyl explained with a blush as she rubbed the back of her head. Octavia giggled once more as she led the way outside of the room that they could speak without interrupting the last performance.

“So, was I any good?” The gray mare smiled warmly at the white one who was determinedly looking elsewhere as she tried to rid herself of her blush.

“Yeah, you were pretty good; you know, for a classical pony.” Octavia playfully groaned and gave Vinyl a light shove.

“And here I thought we were over this; though I suppose your music isn't as grating on the ears compared to most DJs.” Vinyl raised a brow at this comment, unsure if it was serious or not when Octavia decided to reassure her with a nudge to her shoulder and small smile.

“It was a joke. I did manage to hear you set; I just had to rush back to my own performances, otherwise I'd have spoken to you at the end of it. Your mix was very good, you must have hidden it pretty well since I thought I had heard most, if not all, of your mixes already.”

Vinyl gave a small smile, happy that Octavia liked what the DJ had worked hard to keep hidden in order to surprise the gray mare.

The two friends spent the last half hour before they were to all meet for the Riff Off by getting some refreshments at the stands that seem to be just about everywhere during these kinds of big projects. They discussed the various types of performances that had happened that night, though Vinyl did most of the explaining since Octavia hadn't been able to leave her spot for most of the night.

Before long it was time to go to the old pool and take part in a particular tradition of the college's A Cappella groups.

Vinyl hadn't had much time to explore the campus and had to follow Octavia, who had started to gather a following of some of the other Equestrian Girls who also didn't know where to go. They walked northwards, away from the dorms and sobriety houses, and even a little beyond most of the music classrooms. The pool was really large, going down at least ten feet, and had long since been emptied of its original contents. It was hidden away among the trees, no longer in use after the school had made a deeper one that was indoors in a more central location.

As the different A Cappella groups gathered in the empty pool, Vinyl noticed how some other ponies sat around the edge, excited for the show that was to come. The four main groups stood in the different corners with a dark-gray maned and black coated unicorn stood in the center with a cellphone out.

Vinyl couldn't help but be interested in how the unicorn had a spot light as a cutie mark and that his phone seemed to be a very advanced type, able to project a wheel of choices onto the wall behind him. Almost like he was meant only to spotlight and highlight others and things, never meant to be the one front and center of the stage. She wondered how he was roped into all of this and what his major would be, but shrugged and settled in the back of the group, wanting to see how this played out before she tried anything.

Everypony was chatting together and psyching themselves up when a siren-like sound went off (made by the Hidden Potentials) everyone became silent and looked to the center unicorn. The ponies along the edge stopped playing with the spotlights and focused them back into the pool, some lighting up the different groups while most stayed in the center for the singers who would try to win the Riff Off.

“Welcome to the RIFF OFF! I'm Lime Light, and I'll be your judge for this evening! Are we ready?!” Lime Light looked to the ponies around him who all shouted affirmative.

A/N: At this point, we get into A Cappella singing. There will be a triple line after all the singing if you do not like to read songs typed out, though if you do continue to read there are links to actual A Cappella singing these very songs (and very much how I hear the ponies singing it).

“Alright! Our first category is -!” Lime Light shown his phone onto the wall, the wheel spinning until it came to a stop.

“Songs about magic!”

Claire yelped in surprise and excitement, running forward to the center of the pool only to have the Treblemakers suddenly jump forward and start to sing.

I got the magic in meeee

Every time I touch that track
It turns into golddd

Everypony knows
I've got the magic in me

When I hit the flow the girls come
Snappin' at meee

Now everypony wants some presto

I got the magic in me
These tricks that I'll attempt
Will blow your mind
Pick a verse, any verse
I'll hypnotize you with every line

I'll need a volunteer
How about you, with the eyes?
Come on down to the front
And -

The teal colored earth pony who was leading the song was cut off by one of the Hidden Potentials, a red unicorn stepping up as she made a cut off sign with her hooves as she smoothly transitioned into her own song.

And now you're gooooooone

Gone gone gone, so long!

I put a spell on youuuuu
And it was stronggggg

So strong, so strong, so strong!

Your wretched little lives
Have all been cursed
'Cause of all the witches working
I'm the worst

I put a spell on youuuuu
And now you're miiiiiiine

Watch out! Watch out! Watch out! Watch out!

If you -

The red unicorn was cut off by Claire who stepped forward making her own cut off sign and leading the Equestrian Girls into the song.

“- If you believe in magic, don't bother to choose
If it's jug band music or rhythm and blues

Just go and listen, it'll start with a smile
It won't wipe off your face, no matter how hard you try

Your feet start tapping and you can't seem to find
How you got there, so just bloow your miind

If you believe in magic, come along with me
We'll dance until mornin' 'til there's just you and me

And maybe, if the music is right
I'll meet you tomorrow, sort of late at night

And we'll go dancing, baby, then you'll see
How the magic's in the music and the music's in me, yeah

Do you believe in magic? Yeah,
Believe in the magic of a young girl's soul
Believe in the magic of rock and roll
Believe in the magic that -

Suddenly Claire trailed off uncertainly as one of the High Notes, a brown peagasus, stumbled forward with a hoof outstretched and tried to sing.

at, aatt... What kind of magic spell to use
Slime and snails or puppy dog tails
Thunder or lightning, then baby said...

The peagasus trailed off as everyone stared at her in shock and no one from her own group joined in. Lime Light trotted up next to her and pointed with a hoof.

“The side effects of eating unknown herbs everypony. You are, -” here everyone who knew what was going on clapped their hooves twice and making the cut off sign as well as joining in saying the line,“- cut off!”

The brown peagasus trotted back to her group as everyone laughed a little (herself included) while being shooed away by Lime Light who pulled out his phone once more. The High Notes settled down onto the ground, fine with having been disqualified from the Riff Off, they still got to see an amusing show between the other groups.

“The next category is … Songs about breakups.” Lime Light turned from the wall to face the remaining teams who all jabbered excitedly and started to all come forward when Lyra burst through singing.

At first, I was afraid, I was petrified
Kept thinking, I could never live without you by my side
But then I spent so many nights just thinking, how you did me wrong
And I grew strong and I learned how to get alongggg

And so you're back, from outer space
I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face

I should have changed that stupid lock
I should have made you leave your key
If I'd known for just one second you'd be back to bother me

Oh now go, go, walk out the door, just turn around now
'Cause you're not welcome anymore
Weren't you the one, who tried to hurt me with goodbye?
Did you think I'd crumble? Did you -”

She was cut off by a dark-golden coated peagasus from the Treblemakers who jumped forward and held his fore-hooves to his chest in a pained way as he began to sing.

“- You didn't know all the ways I loved you, no

So you took a chance,
and made other plans

But I bet you didn't think that they would come crashing down, nooo

You don't have to say what you did
I already know, I found out from him

Now there's just no chance
For you and -

Just as they were getting into the song, Cloud Kicker cut them off with the signal which turned into a sassy movement of 'no' as she sang.

“- And he don't knowwww

I dug my key into the side
Of his pretty little souped-up 4 wheel drive

Carved my name into his leather seeeeaatts

I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights
Slashed a hole in all 4 tires
And maybe next time he'll think before he cheats

Right now, she's probably up singing some
White-trash version of Shania karaoke
Right now, she's probably saying, "I'm drunk"
And he's a thinking that he's gonna get lucky

Right now, he's probably dabbing on 3 dollars
Worth of that bathroom Poloooo
Oh and he don't knooooww
That I -”

Another Treblemaker stepped forward, his dark blue coat blending into the night around them as he cut the Equestrian Girls off once more as he began to sing.

“- I still love you
Though we touched and went our separate ways

Troubled times
Caught between confusion and pain, pain, pain

Distant eyes
Promises we made were in vain, in vaaain, in vaaain

If you must go, I wish you loooove
You'll never walk aloooone, take care my looove
Miss you, love

Someday love will find youu
Break those chains that bind youuu

One night will remind youuuu
How we touched and went our separate ways

If he ever hurts youu
True love won't desert youu
Youu -”

Vinyl cut the stallion off, thrilled that this style of face off existed and joining in with a passion as she began to sing, bringing her hooves to her chest as she belted out the song with a passion.

“- You're settled down
That you, found a girl and you're married nooow
I heard that your dreams came true
Guess she gave you things, I didn't give to youuu...

At this point, the other Equestrian Girls joined in, having figured which song it was and providing most of the background while accenting the lyrics as needed.

Old friend, why are you so shyyyy?
Ain't like you to hold back or hide from the light

I hate to turn up out of the blue, uninvited
But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it
I had hoped you'd see my face and that you'd be reminded
That for me, it isn't over

Never mind, I'll find someone like youuuu
I wish nothing but the best for youuuuu, tooooo
Don't forget me, I beeegg, I remembeeer you saaid
Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts insteaaad
Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts insteaadd...

By this point, most of the other groups stepped back, watching in awe at the white mare who sound as though she had personally gone through the very same heartache and sung about it for the world to know.

You know how the time flies
Only yesterday was the time of our lives
We were born and raised by a summer haze
Bound by the surprise of our glory daays.

I hate to turn up out of the blue, uninvited
But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it
I had hoped you'd see my face and that you'd be reminded
That for me, it isn't oovveer

Never mind, I'll find someone like youuuu
I wish nothing but the best for youuu, tooooo
Don't forget me, I beegg, I remember you saaid
Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts insteaad,
Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts insteaad

Nothing compares, no worries or cares
Regrets and mistakes, they're memories made
Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?

Never mind, I'll find someone like youuu
I wish nothing but the best for youuuu, toooo
Don't forget me, I beegg, I remember you saaid
Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts insteeaaaad

Never mind, I'll find someone like youuuuuu
I wish nothing but the best for youuuuu, tooooo
Don't forget me, I beegg, I remember you saaid
Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead…


The Equestrian Girls finished their song and looked on as everyone else cheered and stomped their hooves, aside from the Treblemakers who seemed a little peeved that they had done so well. The girls were excited and waved to everypony around, thrilled that they were able to sing together perfectly and beat out the other A Cappella groups; perhaps they stood a chance at the upcoming competition after all. Lime Light stepped forward, appearing solemn while Vinyl turned to face him, the others coping the motion soon afterwards, all hoping for news of their win.

“Sorry fillies, but the word you need to match was 'you' and you sang 'you're'. You are-” everyone followed along, the Treblemakers being the loudest “-cut off! Trebles win!” Lime Light waved to the all stallion group who began to cheer, shout and parade out of the pool to celebrate their 'win'.

“WHAT?!” Vinyl shouted in disbelief, she was starting to wonder if she had been knocked out or dreamed up their last song; she couldn't understand how they didn't win, they had followed the rules.

“I've never heard that rule before! Grrr, come on girls, let's go.” Claire ushered the others away from the ponies who were laughing and getting into the party mode while the Equestrian Girls were saddened by the quick turnaround of their 'victory'.

Everyone slowly trotted out of the pool, along the way Vinyl had a bad feeling of what was going to be said and as Claire opened her mouth once more, she gritted her teeth in expectancy.

“I want everyone to make a list of what you did wrong.”

“Oh come on! You can't be serious! 'A list of what we did wrong'?! What we did back there was cool and amazing and we should do more stuff like that!” Vinyl stood in front of the cream earth pony, unwilling to let her brush it off or to not listen to what the unicorn was saying, Vinyl just knew that she had to try and convince Claire to not play the blame game.

Claire huffed at the confrontation pony and threw back her mane before continuing.

“Obviously something had to have gone wrong because Lime Light has been judging these things for years now; he knows what he's doing, so the fault is ours.”

“Wha- ah – grrr. I say that he just didn't want us to win after what happened last year! We were doing great, listening to each other, singing songs that everypony can get into!” Vinyl stomped her hoof to empathize her point. Claire glared at the unicorn and stomped her own hoof.

“That's not true, we must have mixed up the rules and we have to work even harder to prove that we have what it takes!”

“Well I think-”

“The Draconequus feeds on our disharmony.” Windy Day spoke to everyone in general but watched the two arguing ponies, causing Vinyl to cut off suddenly as she heard yet another odd statement from the peagasus and took a moment to look around herself.

They had come to a stop before completely exiting the pool and their argument had a large audience of ponies who weren't even trying to hide their amusement. White ears flipped back as everyone on the team realized that they had become the laughing stock once more and they all stood still for a moment before Claire tried to gain control of the situation once again.

“Ok everypony. Hooves in, 'ah' on my count-”

“Wait, on three or after three?” Cloud Kicker asked while most simply put their hooves into the circle, not wanting to make more of a scene than they already did.

“On three,” Lyra started to say as Arpeggio as tried to help clarify at the same time.

“After three.” The two started their own argument while the others looked on, and Pinkie Pie's eyes weren't the only ones spinning in confusion by this point.

Claire felt the beginning of another headache as Cloud Kicker threw up her hooves and quietly ask to nopony specificity, “why can't we get this right?”

A statement that Claire Belle agreed with a hundred percent, but decided it was already too much trouble and just turned away in frustration.

The others stayed in the circle for a moment longer before following their leader up and out of the pool, silently heading back to the rest of the campus to try and forget the night ever happened.

Before they all went their separate ways for the night, Vinyl pulled Windy Day to side in order to speak with the soft spoken mare.

“Why are you so hung up on this 'being of chaos'? Are you a discordian?” Vinyl questioned as she checked that nopony else was listening in, she wasn't sure what she would say if asked what was going on.

“I believe he will one day return, just as it was prophesied in this book, my personal copy of 'Predictions and Prophecies'. Would you like to borrow it?”

Windy Day pulled from her long mane a book with a light blue cover, which she then offered to the unicorn who was a little shocked that the mare kept such a book on her being at all times.

“Oh, uhm, sure. Thanks. I'll look over it tomorrow and give it back in the day after, I guess.” Vinyl grabbed the book in her light blue magic as she hesitantly turned away from the peagasus.

“Have a nice night then, Windy Day...”

“Good night! May Nightmare Moon not visit you in your dreams this night!” Windy Day waved slightly as Vinyl looked back with a raised brow, unsure if she wanted to comment on that or not.

The DJ opted for silence and merely dipped her head in acknowledgment before continuing on her way back to her room.

As soon as Vinyl entered her dorm room, she was tackled to the ground in a tight hug from a light-gray earth pony who had started to fear the worse when the white unicorn didn't come back right away.

“Vinyl! Where were you? What happened? You didn't try to track down Claire and continue arguing did you? Hey, what's the book?” Octavia noticed the light blue book that had landed onto the ground as she pulled back a little to get a better look at the mare, the book having been released from Vinyl's magical hold as her focus was distracted by the sudden hug.

“Huh? Wha- oh. The book. Yeah, I got it from Windy Day, that's why I was a little late to come back.” Vinyl scratched the back of her head as one of her own hooves slightly returned the hug which Octavia didn't seem willing to end any time soon; even going so far as to continue it as she looked at the book in curiosity.

“Oh? What kind of book? Nopony ever seems able to hear her, I wonder what kind of things she likes. Though you may know, you seem to be able to hear her just fine, and Pinkie Pie seemed to have some extra sense about these kinds of things...” Octavia trailed off as she stared upwards in an unfocused manner, to which Vinyl raised a brow in wonder at the normal sounding conversation happening in a tight hug.

“Yeah, it's because of my hearing; since their so sensitive, I can usually hear what she's saying; which is actually pretty weird stuff... Are we going to continue to sit right in front of the doorway? Not that I mind the hug, but ah, there are more comfortable spots to sit and hug...” Vinyl looked at the mare who blushed, realizing that they were indeed right in front of the door and that she hadn't let go of her roommate during the entire time of their talk.

“Oh, uh, sorry about that. I was worried that you had stormed off and done something you would regret later.” Octavia let go and took a few steps back as Vinyl got up from being knocked to the ground and levitated the book into the air once more.

As Vinyl settled down onto her bed, Octavia got a proper look at the title of the loaned book and was even more curious about what kind of things very soft spoken peagasus may like.

“Predictions and Prophecies? Does Windy Day like fortune telling?”

“Hmm? Oh, no, ah, it's more like she believes them to be true and has apparently been trying to, ah, warn others of the 'impending doom'...” Vinyl raised a brow at the odd sounding reasoning while she glanced over at the earth pony who settled onto her own bed.

Octavia raised a brow as well before both started to lightly laugh at the self-appointed mission of the sky-blue peagasus.

“Well, at least she wants to help others. Any particular one she has been talking about?” Octavia said with a small smile as Vinyl set the book onto her desk before settling down for bed; it was well after midnight by this point, and between their project performances and the Riff Off, both mares were exhausted.

Vinyl debated internally for a moment as she watched her roommate settle into bed as well before deciding to go ahead and paraphrase what Windy Day has been saying since the first meeting of the Equestrian Girls.

“Well, she's been going on about this 'being of chaos' who's a 'draconequus'?”

Octavia rubbed her chin in thought and shook her head in ignorance of who it might have been referring to.

“Sorry, I don't know of any 'draconequus' nor 'being of chaos', which you would think is something they would cover in history class... Are you going to be alright Vinyl? I know that you were upset at how Claire handled our loss at the Riff Off...” Octavia looked over at the white mare as she rested her head on top of her hooves.

Vinyl stiffened a little, remembering the argument all over again before sighing in defeat. She knew that she wouldn't be able to convince Octavia to join her in arguing with Claire and that the gray mare would just be saddened even more at the constant fighting.

“I'll be alright. Yes, it's annoying but I'll play nice with others, especially Claire. Promise.” Vinyl rolled her eyes as she lay on her back with both hooves behind her head, making it so she missed the extremely pleased smile Octavia had on because Vinyl was going to try and get along with Claire.

“Thanks Vinyl... Goodnight.” Octavia softly called as she settled further into her bed, feeling the Sand Pony already calling her to the land of dreams.

The unicorn smiled as she glanced over at the mare who was already falling asleep, glad that she knew the other well enough to put her mind at ease and make her happy with a single promise. Now she just had to try and keep her promise.

“Yeah, yeah. Goodnight Tavi.” Vinyl turned away in order to face the wall before removing her glasses in order to settle down to sleep; it had long since became habit to do this in order for nopony to see her cerise eyes and curse her for them.

Vinyl knew she would need all the rest she could get in order to try and 'get along' with the stubborn cream mare in the morning; a task that she didn't look forward to but it was important to Octavia and that's all that mattered to the unicorn. Though she didn't want to start thinking of why it was so important to keep the earth pony happy and healthy at all times.

Little Wonders

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A/N: This chapter has the regionals in it. Lots of singing on the Equestrian Girls' part, and in A Cappella, so for when the group says/sings something without the soloist, it will show up blue as compared to the rest of the singing, while it would show up purple if everyone on stage sings/says it. The soloing pony will remain in black. It is pretty important part (their singing), but if you want to skim over the lyrics it wouldn't be that bad... kind of...

Competition wasn't a new thing to Vinyl Scratch. The only new aspect was that she came to learn from her DJ classes was the proper attitude when somepony lost; she had faced many a poor loser at the orphanage and it was a nice change of pace. So the knowledge that the first actual competition for the Equestrian Girls was coming up wasn't as unnerving as Claire was making it seem like.

They had three weeks before the competition started, the date of which was November 22nd, just before Harvest's Feast holiday weekend. They never did much for the holiday at the orphanage and Vinyl wasn't looking forward to it; though there was Regionals to think of first which gave the white mare something else to think of first.

Their morning sessions were going better, especially given how hard they were all working. The only thing that concerned the white unicorn was that Pinkie Pie would giggle madly to herself at the end of the set and her solo; which she was performing just as Claire wanted, making Vinyl all the more suspicious. But since it was only a gut feeling and no one either noticed or minded, the unicorn didn't bring it up.

In an effort to help everypony relax, Pinkie Pie had taken to hosting parties every few days; giving everypony a chance to go and have some fun if they couldn't make it to one party. Each party was different, some were for certain ponies' birthdays combined together, some for special occasions, some for really random or silly reasons like 'nothing-is-happening -so-let's-party' parties.

Vinyl and Octavia managed get extra time to go to a party celebrating Blossomforth and another pony's birthday; but since they hadn't known ahead of time, the two roommates weren't able to get the pale-gray peagasus a gift, nor did they know what she would have wanted anyways. As they arrived, they saw a huge stock of presents already there; though after checking with a few ponies there, it seemed like Pinkie Pie had gotten all of them herself for the party.

Vinyl was getting more and more confused as to how the pink mare was able to do all of this and felt bad for anyone who became Pinkie Pie's special somepony; the white unicorn certainly wasn't going to give herself a headache trying to think about it. Within moments the two roommates found one of the ponies of honor that they were looking for and gave their greetings.

“Hey Blossomforth, enjoying the party so far?” Vinyl asked as she and Octavia sat next to the pale-gray peagasus who had a cup of punch in her hoof as she looked at the growing crowd of ponies.

Pinkie Pie had invited both ponies of honor's friends who brought guests as well and passing ponies saw festivities and decided to join in for no reason other than to party; this led to the party growing exponentially but Pinkie Pie was on top of it all and made sure everyone had fun.

“Yes, it was very nice of Pinkie Pie to throw this party for us and she somehow found all of our friends and invited them as well.” Blossomforth waved a hoof to the crowd as she looked at the two ponies next to her. Octavia nodded slowly as she too looked around.

“I see a lot of ponies from the Weather Major, are they friends of yours?” The gray mare asked curiously, trying to think of who had the connection to the Major and therefor to the peagasi with typically weather-related cutie marks.

“Yes, both Cloud Kicker and I are majoring in Weather. We want to be professional weather patrol ponies, getting this degree will help us get far in the field. Unless there's somepony with lots of natural talent for it, then we may end up just working underneath that pony.” Blossomforth said in her soft way.

Both Vinyl and Octavia tilted their heads in confusion at this statement of what they hoped for after college.

“Wait, why are you guys in A Cappella then? How'd you even know about it?” Vinyl asked bluntly, confused as to why anypony would purposely join (Music Majors didn't count, they already had a lot to do with music and it was more understandable if they joined).

“Actually, Cloud Kicker only joined because I was too nervous to do so on my own. I had seen A Cappella done before and practiced singing on my own; Cloud Kicker knew how much I was into singing and when I told her about how nervous I was about auditioning she came with me as moral support.” Blossomforth looked at the ground momentarily as her two friends nodded along.

“Imagine my surprise when Claire Belle came by and offered both of us a position on the team. If Cloud Kicker hadn't joined too I probably wouldn't have joined at all; even if it does cut into her 'other' activities.” Blossomforth looked towards her best friend who was in the midst of making out with orange-coated mare, even though it was the pale-gray pony's birthday party.

Both Octavia and Vinyl raised a brow at the display and wondered how long the two had been together, not that they knew a whole lot of their peers upon thinking about it.

“You don't mind that she's pushing public display limits at your birthday party?” Vinyl asked as she glanced back at Blossomforth who gave a small sigh and shook her head no.

“She had already gave me her gift and we usually celebrate or do things during the daytime, since she's usually busy with somepony else at night.”

“I see, how long as she been with her marefriend?” Octavia asked as she turned away from the display, Cloud Kicker didn't seem to be about to return to the world around them anytime soon.

“Hhmm? Oh, they met not even ten minutes ago.” Blossomforth answered as she continued to watch her friend's activity with a small frown.

Vinyl and Octavia shared a confused look before the white unicorn posed the question that now rested on their minds.

“Wait wait wait. They just met? At your party? Just now? And they're doing stuff like that?!? Rushing things isn't she?” Vinyl waved her hoof slightly, she may not be good with social relations but even she knew that that was pushing it.

“Yes, yes, yes and yes. This is a normal thing for Cloud Kicker, and it's not rushed, it's a one night stand. Sometimes if she likes something or someone she may 'go for seconds' but she doesn't make any lasting relationships with anypony... Anypony at all.” Blossomforth stated softly as she finally looked away from the pair who had started to edge away from the party.

Octavia was watching the pale-gray mare closely and as the peagasus finished explaining about Cloud Kicker's usual relationships the earth pony patted her shoulder with a sympathetic smile.

“I understand Blossomforth,” Octavia rubbed pale-gray shoulders as both the unicorn and peagasus looked at her, the former with confusion and the latter with slight shock tinged with fear of discovery.

Vinyl watched confusedly as Octavia and Blossomforth seem to speak telepathically with slight nods, tilting of heads and shrugs as well as with their eyes. The white mare couldn't figure out what was going on and what it all meant, aside from the fact that there was somepony else who was able to understand and speak with the light-gray earth pony aside from Lyra; a fact that was a thorn in Vinyl's side, one that she intended to resolve speedily.

“What's going on? I feel out of the loop and left behind. What do you understand Tavi?” Vinyl stood in front of the two ponies to be able to watch both at roughly the same time, trying to catch any sort of understanding from either one.

More silent communication happened between the earth pony and peagasus as Octavia asked if she could explain to the unicorn, to which Blossomforth 'said' that she didn't want anypony to know about how she really felt for the persian-blue peagasus. Octavia gave a small sigh and nod of acknowledgment of the request before facing Vinyl completely.

“I'm sorry Vinyl; it's something personal for Blossomforth who currently doesn't want anypony to know about it. You know I would try and answer any questions you may have, but it isn't about me this time and I have to respect Blossomforth's privacy.” Octavia tried to convince Vinyl that it wasn't about her and make sure there wasn't some odd misunderstanding once again.

Vinyl was a little saddened that she didn't understand and that Octavia wouldn't explain it, but understood the need for privacy; she was doing much the same about her own past as was Octavia now that she thought about it. This line of thought distracted the white mare and she felt her curiosity about what was going on die down a little as a stronger curiosity of what the gray mare may be hiding grew.

“Alright. Well, it was nice seeing you Blossomforth, but it's getting late and I'd rather not see anypony else doing that kind of thing so I'm heading back. Again, happy birthday, and I'll see you guys later.” Vinyl nodded to one of two ponies of honor before turning and leaving the area.

She had a feeling that if she left without saying goodbye to the hostess of the party she would be receiving a midnight visit so she found the pink pony and bid her a goodnight as well; somehow convincing Pinkie that she was indeed fine and just a little tired, insuring that there wouldn't be any 'cheer-up-the-sadie-wadie-dj' party later that night.

Octavia spent a moment longer to give one last sympathetic glance to the peagasus before bidding goodnight as well. She soon caught up to the white unicorn who glanced at the earth pony with a small smile before continuing on her way.

Once again after they returned to their room, the unicorn turned to the earth pony who, even though she was the same age, knew more about what was going on than the DJ.

“You really can't tell me what that was all about?” Vinyl raised a questioning brow as the gray earth pony shook her head no.

The white unicorn sighed as she sat on her bed facing her socially-wise friend. Octavia could tell that Vinyl was going to continue asking questions so she settled onto her own bed as well, wanting to get comfortable in case it took a while.

“Alright, well, how can you tell what's going on? You seem to be picking up these invisible 'hints' and know exactly what's not being said but meant.” Vinyl crossed her hooves, half-annoyed at how easy Octavia made it seem and half-hopeful that she'll be able to do the same after learning the secret.

Octavia pondered how to answer such a deep question as she tapped a hoof on her bed. She could tell it was important to the unicorn and wanted to answer properly.

“Well, I grew up in an environment that if you weren't paying attention closely you may miss important details or signs and end up in social trouble. Being in collage with so many others in various clubs helped re-enforce and enhance that knowledge and skill. You grew up learning how to spot signs of trouble while I learned how to see all the signs, that's all.” Octavia nodded to herself, pleased to have found a good way to explain it.

Vinyl, on the other hoof, now wore a pensive frown and tapped her bed in thought before nodded her understanding. Octavia gave Vinyl a warm smile which was hesitantly returned.

The two friends spent the rest of the day on their own work, with the light gray mare focused on a large project and the white mare multi-tasking by doing history homework and searching the internet for signs of society and the unspoken language of the body. Soon her new research took up most of her attention and by the time proper night fell, the white unicorn had done very little for her history work.

Octavia was settling down to sleep when she heard her roommate groan as she scuffed up her mane even more than usual; by this time the light-gray mare could tell that whatever her roommate had looked up online had distracted the white mare to the point of forgetting her homework. Octavia giggled softly as she turned to look at her roommate who had suddenly stiffened and half-turned to look back towards the earth pony at the sound of her laugh.

“Something the matter Vinyl dear?” Octavia teased as the white unicorn put most of her supplies away before heading into bed herself.

Vinyl was paying close attention as she slowly settled into bed, choosing her words carefully while trying to apply what she just learned about body language and subtle messages.

“Not really, just lost track of time. Everything good on your end?” Vinyl laid down watching as Octavia raised a brow at the slow response, it wasn't like her to answer in such a slow fashion.

“I'm fine. Are you ok? You didn't eat anything weird did you?” Octavia sat up straighter on her bed, concerned about her friend and her slower reaction.

Vinyl just tilted her head as she looked back, trying to see if she could spot any 'signs'.

“Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. Couldn't be better; well, I could, but that's something else.” Vinyl gave a shrug as she realized she went a little too far in responding (how did that mare get her to speak so easily about that stuff?) and tried to make it seem like no big deal.

Octavia stiffened in worry and sat forward, trying to show how much she meant her next words.

“You know you can tell me anything right? What could make things better? Is there something I could do to help?” Octavia wore a pensive frown; Vinyl already did so much for the gray mare, she wanted to show her thanks anyway that she could.

Vinyl gave a small smirk, happy to hear that Octavia wanted to make things better and by offering actually making it so.

“No Tavi, I'm good, promise. Thanks though, I'll keep it in mind.” Vinyl kept a close watch as Octavia relaxed once more before settling down for the night.

“Ok, good night.”

“Night Tavi...”

The rest of the two weeks ended quickly (still rather filled with parties to help everypony relax), making Vinyl feel that if she didn't keep a close eye on things, it would be the end of the school year before she knew it. The morning sessions continued being stressful and soon everypony noticed how giggly and giddy Pinkie Pie was at the end of the set. Since no one knew the reason and Pinkie Pie wasn't saying anything, they couldn't press the matter; especially since Pinkie Pie wasn't actually doing anything wrong at the time, aside from being really happy.

It was during that time that Octavia had discovered where Vinyl worked; the white unicorn picked up extra shifts to take her mind off the old fashion music and donated samples of her work to the radio station. After explaining that it was both a record store AND a radio station, Vinyl soon found their shared room blasting with the station unless there was something musical that they had to work on.

It also didn't help things when Octavia would secretly request Vinyl's work and the music would come on as both of them were in their room; though the earth pony seemed to relish the unicorn's blush of surprise and delight at having been requested.

It was a good kind of distraction, allowing time to flow quickly to the day of the competition.

The Regionals were held in a nearby town so that a few of local colleges could send their teams to find out which two would represent their area. The two other colleges near E.U.C.C. were Desert Blossom Community College and University of Horseshoe Bay, and they all were to meet in Dodge Junction, a small western-like town that was central to all three colleges. It was a small town, but each of the schools only had three teams that were trying to reach the finals in Canterlot so it would work for their needs.

The day of the competition, which would take place in the afternoon, the Equestrian Girls made sure to get up early and met for inspection at their practice room. Claire Belle didn't want to ruin anything or strain any vocal chords so they weren't going to practice the set with singing, they only went through the motions once and made sure they knew where the competition would take place.

Since Claire wanted to show a united front, all of the girls were to wear their handkerchiefs around their neck with white blouse shirts to present unity among them.

Vinyl tensed during the preparations, she just knew Claire didn't like her glasses but there was no way in Tartarus that she was taking them off. Just as Claire was going to say something, Octavia stepped up to her and whispered into her ear. The gray mare tried to speak low enough that the white unicorn wouldn't hear everything, but didn't want the cream earth pony to not hear her so Octavia just prayed that Vinyl didn't mind and would remain silent.

Luckily, after hearing most of what was being said (mostly about how she was sensitive about her eyes and needed them to see and didn't have any other kinds) Vinyl took the telepathic message and just sat in place, head tilted away to make it seem like she wasn't paying attention to the two leaders talking.

After glancing between the light gray and white mares, Claire just turned away and checked everyone else before getting them all to line up to get breakfast on the way to the competition. It was going to take them three hours to travel by train to the competition location, so they had to get breakfast first and once they arrived they had some time to themselves before it started so that they could eat if they wanted to or not.

Unfortunately, this also meant that they would spend three hours on the same train as the Treblemakers and the Hidden Potentials. After a stand-off at the platform, each group merely claimed a train car for themselves in order to avoid the others.

Each of the Equestrian Girls dealt with the boredom in their own way, while all stayed in their compartment, unwilling to deal with the other teams right away. Each car had twelve benches in it, with the backs to each other and the seats themselves were one big beige cushion, making it very comfortable ride which was needed for long trips. The backs to the seats came up to a pony's neck in height, making it so that everyone could see the others and impossible for any private conversations.

Lyra stared out of the window, deep in thought as Beautiful Composition sat across from her and was lost in her own musical world as she transposed more music, most likely in an attempt to capture the tension in the air.

Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth sat next to one another, talking about weather subjects in order to prepare for an upcoming test they would be having just before the holiday break started.

Windy Day stared off into space thinking to herself as Arpeggio sat nearby, reading a book of western-town life and life in the desert.

Claire sat on her own, the farthest from everypony else as she took calming breaths and reassuring herself about the day's competition.

Pinkie Pie couldn't stay still and spent most of her time hopping around the car before checking out the rest of the train.

Vinyl and Octavia sat next to one another, Octavia was deep in thought while Vinyl used her new knowledge of body language and watched the others, trying to figure out what they were thinking and/or doing.

The unicorn hadn't quite got the hang of it but was getting better with time, she now had a hunch of what had happened with Blossomforth as she watched the two best friends interact but wasn't completely sure since she still wasn't used to displays of affection. She tried to watch Octavia, but soon found that it wasn't any different than usual and couldn't figure out anything new; though it may have been that there were others present, a lot of their exchanges happened when nopony else was around.

It took a while, but soon enough they arrived at Dodge Junction. Pinkie Pie was the first one off the train, something about she couldn't hold it much longer, followed shortly by the various teams as they all exited different doors looking at the land around them.

Dodge Junction looked much like an old western, with buildings made out of wooden planks and dirt roads. A good portion of the populous wore large hats or bonnets, and a lot of them seemed to have southern accents. There were enough buildings to call it a town, but only just barely. Surrounding the town was a large desert, barren of anything green with mountains visible all directions.

Pinkie Pie had found the outhouse in time and since Claire wanted to travel in a group they all waited nearby for the party mare to finish. Once they were set to go, they played 'follow the leader', something that made Vinyl rolled her eyes at how bossy Claire was being.

They found a bakery that specialized in cherries to grab something light to eat, a concept that Pinkie Pie went nuts over. Not even ten minutes later Cloud Kicker and Vinyl had to drag the pink baker away from where she was chatting with the cooks as she attempted to make some new cherry treat.

While Vinyl would admit that it looked good, mashed up cherries in a tortilla that was deep fried, she could tell how much it was annoying Claire since Pinkie Pie wouldn't stop talking the entire time she was doing that; the pink mare was so loud that nopony else could hear anything but her excessive chatter, especially as she considered what to call her new concoction.

Octavia noticed that all of this was stressing out their leader and suggested that they split up and meet at the competition location ten minutes before the start of the event. By this point Claire couldn't stand any more talking and quickly agreed, the only thing that was faster was how quickly everyone split up to look at the town around them.

Vinyl didn't enjoy the sand and grit that was everywhere since she wasn't used to it being from the big city, so instead she just went to the meeting place early and relaxed. The front room of the theater that was holding the contest was quite empty since nothing would take place until two hours later, meaning that the white unicorn had the place all to herself. It was a large room, with lots of chairs and cushions around for ponies who were waiting for anything with large double doors that led to the even larger room that had a stage on one end.

Octavia joined Vinyl shortly and sat only a few inches away from her, to which neither showed surprise or any acknowledgment that the other was there; as though it was the most natural thing to be sitting that closely even in the desert heat. Both mares remained silent as they stared ahead, deep in thought.

This silence didn't last long as the light gray mare turned to the white one with uncertainty written across her face.

“Vinyl?” Octavia softly called to the unicorn who turned to face her quickly at the tone of voice and how on edge the classical pony was. Vinyl may not be an expert at body language, but she knew something was up.

“Yeah? Everything alright?” A single white brow rose as Vinyl took in the uncertainty and nervousness of the mare next to her, concern growing steadily at what may have been wrong with the earth pony as Octavia fidgeted in place.

“Vinyl, I just wanted to know – I mean, would you, ah, do you -”

“Hey guys! What'cha doing inside?! It's a wonderful day out and it's really sunny and everypony is wearing these funny hats! Oooh, are you too warm? Is that why your faces are red?” Pinkie Pie jumped in circles around the two roommates as she peered at their blushing faces, she had found all the others in town and had finally found the last two friends. Octavia was staring at the ground before her as though she had to write a report about it while Vinyl made sure to keep the hyper pony in sight at all times just in case; Vinyl wasn't sure what Octavia had been about to ask but had a feeling it was important and blushed out of instinct since she had been staring rather hard at the gray mare as she was posing her question.

“Yes Pinkie Pie, it's nice out but I'm not used to sand and grit and stuff, I'm from the city. Grass is one thing, but to see a place like this so bare of any greenery sets me on edge, so I'm just waiting here instead.” Vinyl stated as she watched the party pony land in front of them and pull out a board game from nowhere.

“Ooh, ok. How about we play 'Sorry' instead then? That way you aren't outside and you'd still have something to do.” Pinkie Pie grinned at the idea, she didn't want anypony to not have fun in a new place and everypony else was having fun except for these two; well, that's what it seemed like anyways and Claire suggested that the pink mare find the two roommates to make sure they were having fun as well when the hyper mare had tracked down the cream-colored earth pony.

So the three friends spent the rest of the time playing board games, and as each of their teammates came to wait they were 'forced' to join in once the current game ended. By the time that everyone was gathered as per ordered, everypony was playing along and having a blast. Claire gave a quick smile before gathering everyone for final preparations once the last game ended.

The wait for their turn was stress filled, aside from slightly amusing moments such as when an A Cappella group performed their songs through puppets. The Equestrian Girls were the second to last to perform, with the Treblemakers being right behind them, adding one more thing to Claire's list of stressful items.

In an attempt to gain everyone's focus, Claire tried to do their signature circle.

“Hooves in. Remember, 'ahhh' on three. One, two, -” Claire led the way as half the group went along with it while the other half looked a little confused.

“Wait, is it -?” Cloud Kicker tried to ask while most of the others followed along.

“Aaahhh...” Their singing trailed off as only half the ponies sang along, Claire glared at Cloud Kicker since she seemed to be still confused about it all.

“Ahhh...” Lyra tried to follow along at the end, realizing that she had been lost in her confusion to have missed the signal but trailed off instead when she was the only one doing so.

Claire rubbed her forehead in frustration before shaking her head and leading the way onto the stage, it was their turn to perform.

They stood in position and Claire gave the signal to start their set. The girls all stood on their hind-legs with their fore-hooves on their hips, and given the signal, began to shift from leaning on one leg to the other.

Whoooaaaoooaaa yeah

As one the mares all lift their fore-hooves into the air as a greeting before bring it down to shimmy back and forth with both as they leaned forward a little as they continued to sing. Octavia stood front and center with a microphone and led the first solo.

Ah aahh aaahh
Da da da
I gotta new life,
You would hardly recognize me,
I'm so glad.”

While Octavia continued to sing part of the solo of the first song they were to preform, the others went back to all fours as they flicked their tails making a 'snap' sound as they provided background. At each 'I' the mares who weren't soloing put a hoof to their chest as though stating the obvious.

How could a person like me care for you,
Iiiiiiihh IIIIhhh
Why do I bother when you're not the one for me,

As the group stood near one another, Octavia handed the microphone to Claire who raises her other hoof to her chest as though the gray mare was talking about her. She then began to walk forward as the others spaced themselves out once more to have room for their next set of movements.

Is enough enough?,
I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes,
and I am happy now living without you,
I've left you all alone.”

During Claire's solo the mares all made various motions as though making signs and then pointing them out, dropping to all fours only as they needed to shuffle to new standing positions while looking for and at these 'signs'.

“I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes
I saw the sign

I saw the sign
I saw the siiiIign

I saw the sign
I saw the sign
I saw the siiiIIiign

I saw the sign.”

Vinyl could tell that this must have been the part when Claire had lost it the previous time, her movements showing a subtle layer of tension; the white unicorn was glad that she took the time to research subtle body language making it easier to tell how the rest of the team was doing.

“Close your eyes,
Give me your hoof, darlin'.”

As they began to sing their middle song, Vinyl noticed how not only was the audience getting bored by it; the girls' were losing their passion as well. Octavia tried as hard as she could to bring emotion and passion to the song, but it was a slow song to begin with; there was only so much a pony could do to make it more entertaining without changing to a new song. The mares reached out towards the audience as though asking for their hoof before moving onto the next motion.

“Do you feel my heart beating?”

The mares made their hooves act as though it beat as well and began to underscore Octavia's solo with 'ooh's.

“Do you understand,

Do you feel the same,
Am I only dreamin', dreamin'
Or is this burning burning an eternal eternal flame, ”

Vinyl focused solely on Octavia as she tried to block out how the others were becoming more and more bored as they all sang, their motions without enthusiasm. The white unicorn made sure that nothing showed on her face; of her annoyance of the songs, or how the crowd was reacting, or even how there were still slip ups during their performance. The background singers all made motions that correlated with some of the lyrics as they sang along.

“Say my name,
Sun shines through the rain,
A whole life so lonely,
Then you come and ease the pain,
I don't want to lose this feeling,
Is this burning an eternal flaaammme...”

Everyone gathered to form a half circle that faced the back, as they began the next part of their set they stood on their hind-legs once more while raising their hooves into the air.

Turn it around,
Turn it around,
Turn it turn it,

As the mares remained facing the back, they flex their fetlocks quickly before following the line to face forward once more as they continued to sing.

Turn it around
Turn it around
Turn it turn it,

Turn it around
Turn it around
Turn it turn it,”

Vinyl noticed how Pinkie Pie seemed to bounced in place rapidly once she was given the microphone, and as they got to the point when she was to start her solo, she let loose.

“AAAHHHH YEEEAAHHH!” The pink mare jumped to the front as she pumped her hoof in the air, grabbing everypony's attention while the team felt the music come alive once more.

Turn the beat around
Turn the beat around
Love to hear percussion
Love to hear percussion~
Turn it upside down
Turn it upside down
love to hear percussion
love to hear puurrrcussion.”

Pinkie Pie stuck to the set, but added to it; she added tone, emotion and lots of movement, her own flair of Pinkie Pie to their stale songs.

The hyper mare jumped back and forth, did cartwheels, back-stepped as she did the set but in her own way. Everyone else was genuinely smiling and enjoying themselves once more, except for Claire who tried to hide her annoyance at the change in performance. Motions that seemed robotic became naturally flowing once more as the mares got into the new beat and style of the song; hair flips, stomps and shimmies were filled with energy once more as they sang along with the pink mare.

Turn the beat around
Turn the beat around, you gotta turn it around
love to hear percussion
Turn it upside down
Turn the beat around, you gotta turn it around.”

The girls made snapping movements, flicking their fetlocks as they walked around the pink mare in the center who was doing extra movements of all kinds, even a jig with her hands at one point.

Love to hear it
Love to hear it
Can I hear it?
Love to hear it
I Love to hear ~ Percusssiiiooon! ”

As the Equestrian Girls encircled the pink mare (as was originally planned) Vinyl watched with amusement as Pinkie Pie seemed to bounce in place as they all waved towards her, heading towards their big finale.

Turn it around
Turn it around
Turn it turn it,

Turn it around
Turn it around
Turn it turn it,

Turn it around
Turn it around
Turn it turn it,

Turn it around!

After all the hooves waved towards the pink mare at the end, Pinkie Pit jumped once more before shooting into the air and landing down on her back hooves in a slide to the front, the one major difference she had performed during the whole set.

The white mare's attention boarded as they ended their set, noticing how the audience seemed to have enjoyed the hyper mare's antics, clapping and stomping their hooves while a lot of them laughed as they cheered. The Equestrian Girls walked off the stage while giving waves to everyone, relieved that it was over and willing to wait for the final announcement.

Since the town was so small there wasn't anything they could do so they had to watch the last performance of the evening before the final judgment would come in. Vinyl was interested to notice the crowd loved how the Treblemakers did as well as how much more lively the group was as they sang, teetering on the edge of inappropriate and keeping all eyes on their set. She couldn't help feel annoyed at the better performance, knowing that the Equestrian Girls could do better if only they could change things up!

In an attempt to not focus on negatives, she watched Octavia instead, noticing how she was edgier than normal; though considering they were trying to find out if they made the cut would be stressful if one actually cared which was something the white unicorn was trying not to do, she was in this for Octavia, not to actually go far in the field of A Cappella.

Soon it was time, the judge opened his little envelop and announced the three placing teams. Third place was the A Ca-Puppets, second (and going to semi-finals) was the Equestrian Girls and the Treblemakers came out on top.

All of the mares cheered as they turned to leave, wanting to get home and celebrate but before they got far a voice called out for the light gray mare, causing most of the girls to pause.

“Lady Octavia! My lady, I had no idea that YOU would be here.” A dark-brown maned pony came up to the earth pony.

Octavia sighed as she turned to face the stallion who called out to her as Vinyl whipped around wondering who the hay was speaking and why they were calling her Tavi 'lady' (not that she wasn't a mare, but it sounded almost like a title).

“Hello Sir Pony Moore. Yes, I'm sure it came to a great shock to you since I've only been in the Equestrian Girls for a year and a half now...” Octavia barely contained her eye roll as she looked at the stallion who had two friends with him, though they were more of lackeys than friends to the stallion she knew.

Vinyl was growing more confused by the moment as the others looked on, also unsure as to what was happening. The only ones unsurprised were Claire Belle and Lyra who both seemed to know the pale-blue earth pony who wore his short mane styled back while his tail remained slightly spiky. The two others near him was not so confusing or unfamiliar, one being Lime Light and the other being a dark coated stallion that was often seen at some of Pinkie Pie's parties.

“My dear, I just don't understand why you would partake in such uncouth displays. Surely a Lady of your standing would be best suited in a more classical environment.” Sir Pony Moore sniffed as he looked about the group who was standing near the entrance to the competition room, causing a few passing ponies to pause and watch the scene unfolding before them.

“Look, Tavi may be a classical pony but that doesn't mean she can't rock! What's it got to do with you anyways Sir Snooty Pants?” Vinyl wasn't sure, but it felt like she was channeling Pinkie Pie's insult level as she slowly grew more annoyed with the situation at hoof while the actual pink pony was nearby also frowning at the mean things the snobbish pony was saying.

Sir Pony Moore's jaw dropped upon hearing 'Tavi' as Lime Light whispered into his ear about who was addressing the noble. Vinyl noted with annoyance that Lime Light claimed that she was 'an annoying unicorn that was extremely friendly with Octavia and seemed to think that being a DJ meant that she could get away with most things'; she was starting to wonder what the hay was Lime Light doing with the snooty noble because it seemed like black-coated unicorn was a touch too informative and willing to share with his 'friend'.

“So, you think that just because you two share a room that you can be as familiar as you want with a noble of Manehatten? Peasant, you are not worthy enough to even be in my presence let alone Lady Octavia's; begone with you! Please, allow us to speak in a much more private setting my Lady.” Sir Moore waved a dismissive hoof at the others while he looked towards Octavia to find the gray mare staring back in anger at how he was treating her teammates.

“My Lady? Dear?” Sir Pony Moore started to question the mare when she cut him off with a stomp.

“Sir Pony Moore, you will stop at once! These are my friends and I will not allow you to talk to them this way. I will not leave with you, though you should leave post haste.” Octavia knew that if she didn't stop him from continuing Vinyl was going to take matters into her own hooves soon; and since it was a stallion they were dealing with and not a fragile mare, she wouldn't be surprised if it came to blows.

“My dear, you and I both know that these ponies aren't worth your attention. Please, let us continue our talk-”

“Al-the-buck-right, this stops right here. Who the buck are you and what are you to Octavia to call her 'dear'?! She has never once mentioned you, so therefore YOU are the non-important pony!” Vinyl stepped forward as she lowered her head slightly in a threatening manner, trying to intimidate him.

This move only made his two 'buddies' step forward as well as they stood by like bodyguards while the other Equestrian Girls looked worried about how far this would go, they remembered all too well how far Vinyl was willing to fight and this time it was about Octavia, making it less likely that the gray earth pony could stop it before the fighting got too far.

“Hah! Who am I?! You really have no idea? How undereducated are you? I am Sir Pony Moore, a noble of Manehatten and fiancé to Lady Octavia Philharmonic, who is also a noble!” Sir Pony Moore glared at the unicorn before him, he couldn't believe that not only did she not know about him but that she had the gall to try and intimidate him!

Vinyl felt shocked to her core, Octavia had a fiancé? Why would she have one? Why did she not tell her?

“Pony Moore! I do not care for titles nor what my parents may have arranged, you and I are not engaged nor shall we ever be! Now, leave us alone and stop causing a scene!” Oct demanded of the noblecolt as their audience grew even larger at the sound of arguing.

“You shall realize soon enough that we are engaged and that it was meant to be as well as be glad of your station!” Sir Pony Moore took a few steps closer to Octavia as he tried to convince her that they were the perfect match.

“Come along my dear; let us talk about this in a civilized manner!” Pony Moore grabbed Octavia's hoof and began to jerk on it in order to force her to follow along.

The gray earth pony tried in vain to remove her limb from the stallion's grasp, but he was stronger and managed to keep a firm hold on it. Before they could take more than a step away, with Octavia digging her heels into the ground, Vinyl cut in sharply.

“That. Is. It! No more Ms. Nice Pony! You are going to leave her alone!” With this statement made, Vinyl charged at the trio of stallions, not caring to use magic since in her anger she wouldn't be able to focus too well anyways nor did she want to hurt her friend.

The sudden charge made Sir Pony Moore loosen his grip in surprise allowing Octavia to be pushed lightly away from the pale-blue stallion as Vinyl stood between the two.

At this point all Tartarus broke loose as Vinyl went straight for the stallions as Octavia tried to stop her. The white unicorn had distracted Lime Light by not using any magic to attack that he set up the wrong kind of defense at the very beginning, allowing Vinyl to take him out with a shift hoof to the muzzle. The other stallion had grabbed a hold of the white mare as Pony Moore shouted for her to be locked up, sending Octavia into a panic. They began to try and pin her down in order to teach the DJ a lesson when Octavia snapped out of her shock and into action.

“Pinkie Pie! Cloud Kicker! Somepony, anypony! HELP!” She yelled as she looked to her friends who all stared in shock at the rapidly escalating fight. As the gray mare called out, the others snapped to attention (Pinkie Pie giving a rather rigid salute) before wading in along with Octavia.

Cloud Kicker, Blossomforth, Windy Day and Pinkie Pie all went to break up the fight as the others tried to get the audience to leave as well as block some other stallions' attempt at joining in the fight. Windy Day and Blossomforth both went for the dark stallion's legs, trying to knock him over as Cloud Kicker and Pinkie Pie went to pull Vinyl out of the fight even though she was still trying to throw punches without discretion. Octavia tried to help hold the unicorn back but whenever she got near Vinyl would suddenly change directions and avoid hitting the light-gray mare while making it harder to keep a hold of her to stop the fighting.

It was as Claire Belle stood between the two fighting parties, glaring in a disapproving manner at the stallions that Octavia took matters into her own hooves and hugged Vinyl from behind, whispering the entire time that the white mare had to stop before she got into trouble. Vinyl knew right away who held her in a hug and the whispering only confirmed it farther; listening to it made her fighting spirit drain away slowly before just leaving her empty of all resistance.

Once they felt the fight leave the unicorn, Pinkie Pie and Cloud Kicker let her go as they made sure she was well away from the fighting; though Octavia held on all the more tighter until Vinyl half-hugged her back by grabbing the hooves around her waist and giving them a squeeze. Once the gray mare felt the return of the hug, she slowly let go, but stayed nearby just in case.

“Please, let's just go. No more fighting, please Vinyl?” The light gray mare pleaded with the white one who nodded reluctantly, unwilling to let the subject drop but she didn't want to upset her roommate more than she already did.

Together the Equestrian Girls turned and headed back onto the train. Once they reached the compartment they had arrived in they sat in silence as they waited for everypony else to be done so that they could all return back to their dorms.

While the mood had been festive when they first left the stage, it was now very dispirited as the tension built. Everypony knew that if Claire started to talk about what happened, the white DJ would surely explode once more and the train was neither sound-proof nor particularly large enough for her to escape; luckily even Claire could feel it in the air and decided to wait until after Octavia spoke with Vinyl in private before saying anything.

As soon as the train reached the large community college, everyone dispersed quickly after being told of the meeting that night (tactfully three hours later, enough time for Octavia to speak with Vinyl).

Vinyl paid no heed to those around her as she trudged back to her room, Octavia hovering nearby worriedly. No one attempted speech along the way and even after arriving into their room remained silent for a few minutes longer. Both had stopped in the middle of their room and just sat on the floor, the white mare facing the only window which was opposite the door while the gray mare looked at her roommate.

“Do you want to talk about it?” The earth pony edged slightly closer to the unicorn who stared at the floor in thought.


Gray ears flipped back in nervousness, silence from the usually very vocal pony was worrying. Vinyl noticed this and decided to stop trying to figure it out on her own and go for the direct approach.

“Who was that, Octavia...? For that matter, who are you?” Vinyl looked at the mare next to her, using her new found skills at body language to see any signs of trouble.

The gray mare sighed, while she did plan on telling her roommate the truth about her background, she hadn't thought it would be so soon. She had wanted to ask a different kind of question before revealing her history but knew that this wouldn't go away nor be solved unless addressed.

“He is as he had said, a noble from Manehatten and my parents' choice for me to marry. I have not now nor ever agreed to it however, and upon discovering that they had gone ahead with the plans for marriage without telling me I left their household on less than pleasant terms. I still care for them, they are my parents after all, but they want to stick to older traditions of nobles while I want to learn of the world before making any kind of decision on anything.” Octavia couldn't face the white mare as she felt her stiffen at the revelation.

Vinyl was indeed shocked though she couldn't decide what surprised her the most, that it was Octavia's fiancé that she was attempting to beat up or that the gray mare was a noble. To make sure they were both on the same page, the DJ felt the need to question the whole point of the discussion that Octavia didn't say outright.

“You're a noble from Manehatten?”

Octavia slumped forward even more as Vinyl went for the direct approach a second time.

“Yes... I didn't tell you, or anypony really, because I wanted you to know me for me, not who my family is or was. I was going to tell you, but much later after we knew each other for a much longer time.” Octavia sighed as she could feel Vinyl's eyes on her, though with the glasses on she couldn't tell what the verdict was.

Vinyl, on the other hoof, was thinking deeply as she looked at the mare next to her; understanding why the light gray spoke and sometimes acted the way she did, how she knew more aspects of being social and was into somber colors and tastes. It actually amazed the white unicorn that the noble was able to learn about more recent aspect of music, style and taste considering that her parents seemed to prefer 'traditional' styles.

As the DJ pony thought about how the others acted around the gray mare, her thoughts stumbled onto a certain mint-green unicorn with whom Octavia seemed to share a special understanding.

“Does anypony else know that you are a noble? Lyra is one as well, isn't she...? Did I ever get to know the real you?” Vinyl continued to watch the mare beside her as Octavia sank down lower at the questions.

“I can't comment on Lyra either way, since it is not my business to discuss. And the only ones who know I am a noble are ones that are either from the same city and similar class or classical music ponies: they tend to stay on top of who's who in the noble and celebrity world.

"Though Clarie Belle also knows, but that is because she was here for my first year as a student here at E.U.C.C.. Also, while I may have hidden where and what family I come from, it does not mean that I lied about who I am; I'm still the same mare would wants to be friends with her first roommate.” Octavia tried to read the unicorn but couldn't tell what she thought, most of the emotions hidden behind glasses.

Vinyl noticed how Octavia seemed to be getting edgier and edgier about the whole thing and crouched down next to her. The earth pony stiffened, unsure what the unicorn planned next though once Vinyl started to give Octavia a hug and nuzzle, the light gray mare leaned into her roommate and relaxed.

“I thought so. I had started to wonder if I knew the real you or not, but if you say so then I'll believe you. And don't worry about Lyra, it was just a side curiosity.” Vinyl reassured her roommate who relaxed further at the words though she made mental observations all the while.

(So Lyra is a noble... If she's on the 'outs' with her folks like Tavi, which explains how they seem to understand one another... I better keep an eye out for this 'Pony Moore', Tavi doesn't seem to want much to do with him at all so I'll make sure that she gets what she wants. Guess I know what the big secret was then... Though how she could stand to be friends with a nopony and orphan like me I won't ever know...)

The two roommates spent the remainder of the time hugging before Octavia had to remind Vinyl of the meeting that night. Though the white mare rolled her eyes in annoyance at what was most likely going to happen, she went along all the same; she did promise Octavia after all that she would try and get along with Claire.

The meeting was short but slightly bitter, while everyone was happy to have made it to the next round Claire chastised Pinkie for having changed the way the set was presented. Vinyl tried to defend the party mare who seemed rather upset at being told that she was annoying but once Claire put her hoof down she knew that she couldn't go any farther with the argument without upsetting Octavia at the same time.

Just as Vinyl was stepping down from the confrontation, Octavia stepped up and tried to defend Vinyl's style of music and how well she could make arrangements. Claire backed down a little in surprise at the defending of the white unicorn and stared as some of the others also agreed; this didn't last long however as when Vinyl went to show some of the things she's done on her laptop Claire put her hoof down once more.

“I have the pitch pipe and I say we do the set as planned. No more distractions; and no diversions.” Claire gave everyone a short glare, making sure everyone nodded along before nodding once herself.

“Good, we'll have our meetings postponed for the holidays. But we are to meet again Thursday morning, 7am sharp! Have a nice holiday everypony.” Claire turned to leave as the others remained in surprise at the five days off from practice they were given so that they could visit family on Harvest's Feast and the weekend following.

Vinyl went to bed that night with her mind full of thoughts about what she had learned that day, trying to not get worked up at Claire's out-right dismissal of her musics. The unicorn could feel it already, it was going to be a long weekend.

When there was me and you

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Every orphan that went to the Hudson Orphanage hated holidays. The only thing special about the holidays was that they saw more of their drunken caretaker than usual as she reminded them all that they had no family and no one would ever care for them. Now that Regionals were over, Vinyl could only stew about what Harvest's Feast could possibly mean for an orphan without anyone who cares about her.

While the holiday did start out as an earth pony farmer tradition, being the day when all the harvesting was finished, the other tribes later adopted it as a day to sit with family and friends for a nice large meal before winter came. This made it very odd and disheartening for orphans to celebrate, especially ones that had a hard time making/keeping friends.

Claire Belle, during her little 'pep talk' after Regionals, had given everyone the holiday off since most would want to visit family. To Vinyl, this meant that most of her friends would be gone during the holidays; the unicorn assumed that Octavia would also be gone; there was most likely some high noble event for family and friends that she would be attending that weekend.

The holiday weekend lasted until Wednesday and it was only the start, Saturday, meaning that Vinyl had five days on her own or so she thought until the DJ noticed that the earth pony made no move to pack or leave.

“So, ah, Tavi, when are you leaving for Manehatten?” Vinyl tried to appear nonchalant as she continued her research of body language which helped her confirm what Octavia had previously stated about her family; they didn't get along at this time because of the light gray mare's personal choices.

“Sigh, I told you Vinyl, my family and I don't see things the same way and the only way to convince them is to go at it alone. Besides I can only just imagine what it would be like for you on this particular holiday, there's no way I'll 'leave you hanging'.” Vinyl noticed that the last part was said with a blush, though she couldn't be sure if it was because of what was said or the meaning it may have behind it.

That was the problem with learning body language but lacking emotional experience, she didn't know what to make of the blush, shifting in spot and avoiding direct eye contact.

“Vinyl, there's something I want to, to ask you...” Vinyl turned to face her roommate to show that she had her complete attention even though she already did and most likely always will.

“Uhm, would you want -” Octavia was about to rush out her question when there came a knock at their door. The gray mare felt her face fall as she lost another chance to pose her question.

Vinyl saw this and was extremely curious to what she wanted to ask and decided that she'd be short with whoever was at the door in order to get back to more important topics and questions.

The white unicorn opened the door, about to make a snappy retort, when she noticed who was there; the sight of Windy Day with a small smile caused most of her thoughts to leave as she tried to imagine what the pegasus could possible want.

"I figured out the best way to keep you in balance so that you do not fall prey to the spirit of chaos.” White ears flipped back as the unicorn heard more non-sense about spirits of chaos.

“Hello Windy Day.” Vinyl greeted as Windy Day let herself in and greeted Octavia with a nod of her head. She then sat facing the two roommates who both looked at the pegasus in confusion as to why she was there.

“This is a charm that when shared with your other half will help you stay in harmony.” Windy Day lifted a circular charm that had a black swirl with a white dot in its center and a white swirl with black dot in its center.

“That's nice but I don't have an 'other half'.” Vinyl said while glancing towards Octavia who had suddenly found the floor to be interesting scene of embarrassment. Windy Day raised a brow at the unicorn's statement and spoke loud enough that Octavia was able to barely hear it.

“I believe that Octavia is your better half and that is why I am giving half to her as well.” With a firm tug Windy Day pulled the charm apart along the swirl's seam and attached another chain to the charm, which she then gave the black swirl to Octavia and Vinyl the white one.

Octavia was surprised that she could hear Windy Day, though barely; so surprised that she didn't even think about what was said until after she took the offered charm. As Windy Day's words sunk in, Octavia found that she couldn't look or get up from her bed and Vinyl tried to avoid the social bomb hidden in the friendly words as she looked only at the sky-blue mare in front of them.

“The white clashes with my fur.” Vinyl grumbled to Windy Day as a way to dispute what was being said without causing social trouble with her friend.

Once again the sky-blue pegasus spoke just loud enough to be heard by the earth pony.

“You should wear what the other represents. You are yin and Octavia, you are yang. To be in balance with each other, you must wear the representation of the other.” With a small smile to the two of them, Windy Day left the two to ponder what it all meant.

After spending a few minutes in embarrassment, Vinyl remembered that Octavia was asking her something before the visit.

“So, ah, what were you asking before?” Vinyl turned to face the gray mare and saw how flustered she became at the question.

“Oh, oh, uhm, nothing. Don't, don't worry about it.” Octavia blushed even harder and began to fiddle with the half charm, causing Vinyl to blush as well though she wasn't sure why.

The unicorn cast her mind about for any reason or topic that would make the whole thing less awkward and remembered the fight the day before.

“Tavi, why was Lime Light and that other stallion with Sir Snooty Moody?” Vinyl settled onto her bed as she looked over at her roommate who perked up at the question.

Octavia leapt at this topic change, even if it was about something almost as bad.

“Lime Light and Niteshade have been Pony Moore's 'informants' for a long time now. They help 'keep him in the know' when it comes to, well, me. I applied to this college as a way to break free of my parents up-bringing as well as him and he didn't take it so well. I know that's what they are doing and I wouldn't be surprised if Pony Moore had more going on in the background as well as keeping taps on me.” Octavia sat up and sighed as she thought of how much she seemed to be watched and controlled even after leaving her family's household. She allowed her gaze to wonder before settling to face the far wall in absent thought.

Vinyl also faced the wall and thought out-loud.

“So they are his lackeys... I knew we won that Riff Off, maybe Sir Snooty doesn't want the Equestrian Girls to make it and is trying to sabotage us. You let me know if he bothers you ever again, alright? I'll take care of him.” Vinyl said as she peeked over to the gray mare who sat up even more as she looked worriedly to the unicorn.

“I will but please, don't get into trouble! If it becomes too much E.U.C.C. may have to expel you!” Vinyl could practically feel the worry the light gray mare had for the DJ, all the practice with looking for and at body language was paying off.

After reassuring the young noble that she would try and stay out of trouble, the two fell into what was habit; listening to the radio while working on homework and 'chatting' through their journal.

The two roommates spent the holiday hanging out. While it was true that the majority of the school had gone to visit their hometowns, there were still some places open with ponies shopping (admittedly after the day of Harvest's Feast which was a national holiday and almost nothing was open that day). The two friends went window shopping and watched movies for the most part of the holiday weekend as a means to relax.

Octavia didn't try and ask her question during that whole time and Vinyl almost forgot about the whole thing, except for the fact that the two roommates did wear the charms they had been given. They found less obvious ways to avoid to wear them however, so that nopony would come to the wrong conclusion; Vinyl wore hers on her left hoof along with a few other bracelets and charms to draw attention away from it while Octavia simply wore hers on her neck but due to the charm's coloring most didn't notice that the gray mare wore anything.

All that relaxing was put to the test the first day of practice; they all gathered in the center of the room and waited for Claire's presentation. The cream-colored mare flipped the white board over and it had topics almost solely concerning sticking to the prepared set. Claire then went over doing their set exactly as planned, no changing it or anything else; most of the explanation was spent with a glare at Pinkie Pie who sheepishly smiled back.

Vinyl grinded a hoof into the ground through the whole speech and waged war with herself between fighting with Claire or keeping a promise. At the end of the 'pep talk', the white unicorn had come to a decision.

Just as everyone stood with a soft sigh to begin practice, Vinyl stood faster than the others and stomped out the door. Octavia was surprised at the mostly silent exit and spoke with Claire defending the unicorn. The light gray mare wasn't sure if it was a good or bad thing when she knew how far Vinyl could take some things before storming off but the shock was at how silently it had come, the earth pony expected a lot more yelling; at least the unicorn had removed herself from the situation before it got worse, she was learning slowly.

Vinyl quickly stomped her way back to her dorm, anger coming from her in waves. As soon as the door closed behind her she threw off her glasses and landed face first into her pillow which she then proceeded to scream into. While the DJ knew that the rooms were sound-proof, she didn't want to chance anything with all the shouting.

Slowly her anger flew outward and was replaced with fear and trepidation; the white unicorn didn't care about what Claire said or thought but Octavia was another matter all on her own. In an attempt to not explode during the practice, Vinyl had looked only at the ground while she argued with herself; which she now regretted since she didn't see how Octavia had looked when she stormed out.

(I bet that walking out like that counts as not getting along with Claire and Tavi must be mad at me by now... She must realize how messed up I am, how I can't ever seem to get along with others... She'll probably want to end our friendship since I can't keep promises or stay out of trouble... I knew no 'friendship' would last past three months.. Though we did make it to four, but I guess that's the limit... Why can't I get along with others, why must I always screw up? I hate me... I hate Claire and the stupid Equestrian Girls... I hate life and life hates me... Sigh, I'm pathetic.)

By this point the pillow served a second purpose; something to cry into. Vinyl could tell that she didn't really hate the Equestrian Girls or even Claire, but it felt nice to blame somepony else for once, even if it didn't last long.

After what felt like eternity, Octavia came back from practice. Vinyl hadn't been paying attention to the time and when the light-gray mare had opened the door the DJ panicked and shoved her head under her pillow without looking to see who had come in (though she had a shrewd idea since only Octavia and herself had keys to the room and Vinyl knew she locked the door).

“Vinyl?” Octavia could almost see the unicorn's nervousness as she flinched at the call.

“Oh Vinyl...” Octavia softly walked over to the white mare and sat on the edge of the bed while reaching out a hoof to pat the unicorn's back.

At the tensing of the white pony, the gray mare sighed once more before rubbing the DJ's back.

“Shhhh, it's ok Vinyl. I'm not mad or upset or anything.” Octavia quietly reassured the unicorn as she felt the mare slowly untensed at her words and actions.

“That was a mature thing you did and I'm happy you didn't get into another fight. I spoke to Claire on your behalf and she doesn't mind that you left early.” At this statement Vinyl couldn't hold back her snort of disbelief at what Claire really thought.

“Ok so maybe not at first but I convinced her... It's about the non-changes isn't it?” Octavia sighed at the continued silence form the mare she was trying to console, though she could feel the tension thicken at her accurate guess.

“I'm sure that she has a valid reason to want to stick with what she knows best. She may have a lot of pressure on her since last year's leader graduated; we don't know and won't know unless she tells us which she doesn't want to.” Octavia never stopped rubbing Vinyl's back as she looked at nothing in particular while thinking of the cream-colored mare.

Vinyl noticed the far away tones of the earth pony and thought about what was just said.

(I guess I don't know what drives Claire. And I may never know, but if what Tavi said is true and I haven't been kicked off the team yet then I have even more to be grateful for... At least she seems to want to still be friends...)

“Thank you Octavia.” Vinyl's voice came out gravely form all the screaming, yelling and crying she did and at the sound of it Octavia flinched in worry.

“It's no problem at all.” Octavia softly replied as she leaned over and gave Vinyl's back a hug to which made the white mare stiffen as she feared discovery of her eyes.

“Sigh, don't worry Vinyl, I'm not looking and only giving you a hug. Your glasses, as I saw when I first came in, are near my desk on the floor. Do you want me to get them?” Octavia asked as she rested her head on the DJ's back, while Vinyl was in slight shock at how well Octavia seemed to understand her now.

“Nah, I'll get them.” The unicorn replied softly as she focused on her glasses, levitating them to go under the pillow and onto her face with perfect precision.

Once the glasses were on, Octavia could feel the difference in the mare under her hooves; the unicorn was much more nervous without her glasses to cover her eyes. As one the two roommates sat up together on the bed and remained side by side; Octavia rested her head onto a white shoulder as Vinyl allowed her hind legs to be loose over the edge.

“Will you be ok?” Vinyl shrugged slightly as she answered almost without thinking first.

“So long as you stay my friend, I will be.” As soon as the words left her mouth Vinyl wanted them back to bury them, never to be spoken.

The white unicorn remained still as her ears flipped back in worry, though she did see a blush make its way across the gray muzzle. Octavia couldn't speak as she felt how nervous the unicorn was once again showing just how sincere those words were, so the earth pony just gave her roommate a hug in the meantime.

After a minute of hug time, Octavia finally thought of what to say.

“I don't plan on not being friends with you, ever.” Vinyl found the rest of her worries melt away and was in a good mood when Octavia called her attention once more.



“... Oh, uh, never mind. It's not important.” Octavia shook her head, making Vinyl curious as this was the third time she started to ask something only to stop or be stopped but gave a mental shrug; if it was important she was sure that Octavia would tell her about it.

This soon became a common occurrence over the next few months; Octavia starting to ask a question to either lose confidence in herself or someone else would interrupt them.

The months passed by in a blur and for the first time in her life Vinyl actually exchanged gifts with others on Hearth's Warming Day. Octavia loved her pink bowtie, which allowed her to be 'formal' yet not overly dressed while Vinyl loved her scarf which was light blue in color much like her hair with music notes all over it (though her favorite part would be the treble clef on the one end). There was even a small gift exchange between the Equestrian Girls; though it was more generic gifts since they still didn't know each other all that well.

Vinyl was even able to give out gifts in return, though for the most part it was compilations of music that she remixed and made discs with each pony's favorite style on them.

While Vinyl was having the best time of her life (aside from Equestrian Girls work), Octavia's eternally unfinished question started to bother her.

Vinyl tried to approach the gray mare about this elusive question one afternoon with disastrous results.

The two were at their desks, working on their final projects whose deadline seemed a lot closer from the other side for Heart's Warming Day, when Octavia broke the silence with a cough and soft call.

“Vinyl?” After months of hearing this tone and nervousness the white unicorn knew she had to stop everything else to give full attention to the blushing mare; this was after she found the hard way that if she didn't make it clear she was listening Octavia would wait for her full attention and even then she never finished the question.

“Would you.. I mean, do you, ah...” After trailing off and rubbing her hooves together, Octavia still couldn't find the courage to ask her question.

Vinyl's patience, even when dealing with her roommate, had snapped and she rubbed a temple as she closed her eyes in frustration.

“Out with it filly! What have you been trying to ask me for so long?!” Vinyl opened her eyes in time to see the flash of hurt and sadness in the gray mare's eyes before she looked away with ears flat on her head.

“Tavi, I didn't mean – I mean, I just want to know what's bothering you. Please, I'm sorry.” Vinyl reached out with her hoof as Octavia continued to avoid her look and lay down on her bed.

Vinyl could only watch in sadness as the light gray mare wrapped herself up in blankets so that no part of her was visible. Vinyl slowly walked over feeling like the worse pony to ever live and put a hoof on the top center of the pile.

“Please, I'm sorry Tavi. I'm just really curious as to what you want to ask. Please come out.” A soft reply come from the pile of pony and fabric for which Vinyl leaned in closer to make sure she heard properly.

“Please don't mind me. I'm just going to stay here and ah, think. Continue your work Vinyl.” The statement was soft enough to almost rival Windy Day and didn't reassure the unicorn one bit but she couldn't do anything about it unless she used force; and she would never stoop to Sir Pony Moore's level to find out what was going on.

The rest of the day was spent in uncomfortable silence and Vinyl made sure to never speak of it again to Octavia, who also acted like it never happened. This was a sharp lessen to the unicorn; whatever the question is, a wrong word or movement could ruin a pony's chance to ask it.

All this left Vinyl feeling like she was trotting on egg shells and much more nervous at the semi-finals that were hosted in Ponyville. It was a few days before the start of Spring Break, February 21st. Once again the competition would start in the evening time with the different groups brought to there by train. The Equestrian Girls arrived a few hours early much like with the first competition and took a tour of the town led by Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth, since it is their hometown.

They gave a decent tour considering they only had two and a half hours to do it; they visited the library, Town Hall, the two pegasi's homes, and the new bakery from which they had to pry the pink baker away from once more (though they only managed it after Pinkie went through an interview for a position there of all things).

Vinyl kept a close eye on the noble pony who, at the last competition, tried to pose her question as well as an eye out for trouble. She didn't want anything to happen this time around and stayed vigilant for any pale-blue stallions that would want to try and be an annoyance.

When it was time for them to perform, Claire didn't even bother to try her 'hooves in' routine and they all marched on to the stage;every single one of them nervous wrecks for one reason or another.

Within moments of singing, half of the audiences' attention wavered while the judges simply looked bored. The team tried to look as natural as possible with the moves they've learned from day two of practice with plastic smiles.

Vinyl couldn't take it a moment longer and changed their set. As Claire started to sing her solo, the white unicorn started to sing 'Bulletproof'; she had no accompaniment and no emphasis but sang clearly in between the solo. She knew Claire was mad, and Arpeggio and Beautiful Composition faltered because of the improvisation but Vinyl felt it was necessary as she looked at the crowd and judges who noticed and were appreciative of the change.

Once Claire was done and passed off the microphone she glared at the DJ who only smugly looked back as she thought of what to use to liven up Octavia's solo.

The white unicorn didn't want anything to make the light gray mare worried or upset about the team not making it so she was willing to annoy their leader to do so. If she didn't, Vinyl knew they weren't going to make it to the finals. While it may seem like unconventional reasoning considering what the unicorn was doing, it all made perfect sense to the DJ who figured out the next song to do.

As the light gray earth pony started to sing 'eternal flame' Vinyl did the same as before and sang in between the solo with 'Try'. Octavia half expected something like this after the first song and it almost turned into a duet between the two ponies. Claire was fuming and was almost staring daggers at the unicorn by this point.

Then it was Pinkie Pie's turn and Vinyl could see in her eyes that the fire of improvisation had almost died in the pink mare until the unicorn broke free once more. Vinyl felt a moment of curiosity about what Claire told the pink pony at that first practice after Harvest's Feast holiday but gave a mental shrug and continued to change the performance.

As the rest of the team continued the set as usual, Pinkie Pie followed then led as she realized the song Vinyl was using was 'Dog Days are over' and the two mares sang it together while the others were thrown for another loop when Pinkie Pie invited Vinyl to move about freely on stage with the soloist; something the white mare did only slightly, she didn't want to throw everyone else off by changing movements as well as songs.

By the end of the performance Claire was livid and not even ten paces away from the stage, she turned to the white unicorn with a glare.

“What were you thinking!?! We may as well withdraw from the competition after that stunt you pulled!” Claire snarled to Vinyl who looked back in shock before tossing everything out the mental window; promise or no promise, Claire would be the ruin of the team and Vinyl wasn't going to stand for it any more.

“Withdraw?! I just saved our flanks! The audience dozed off during our set; I was helping us possibly stay in this competition!” Vinyl glared right back as the rest of the team watched as though it was a tennis match and Octavia looked on in horror.

“It's not your place to make changes to the set!”

“Well, we need to make changes! Those songs are old and tired! We'll never get far if we stayed 'same old same old'!”

“It's not the DJ Pon-3 show, did you ever think about the others on the team and how they would take your little improv?” At this Claire waved a hoof to the others, causing most to flinch at the sudden attention.

Vinyl looked to the team as well, noticing how they all seemed a little shameful but unwilling to voice their opinion.

“Fillies? Was it that bad?” Vinyl posed her question in a lighter tone than she had been using when arguing with Claire.

The cream earth pony motioned for both Arpeggio and Beautiful Composition to speak up and after a shared glance of guilt they decided to be truthful.

“Well, it did surprise us a little...” Arpeggio started to say as Beautiful Composition nodded along when Claire turned back triumphantly only to be cut off from saying anything by Pinkie Pie.

“But then it was a good kind of surprise, like a surprise party!” Pinkie was smiling and trying to lighten the atmosphere when she saw the glare directed towards her causing her to crouch lower while stepping back.

“They're right Claire, we have to-” Octavia started to try and defend the white unicorn and pink mare when Vinyl saw the last straw moment for Claire and interrupted the gray mare. She didn't want anypony to be mad at Octavia, especially in her defense.

“You know what Tavi? It's alright; you don't have to pretend that this is a team or that we have any say in any matter. After all, it's the Claire Belle show right?” Vinyl pointed a hoof at the 'leader' who turned her furious gaze back to the DJ.

“And you know what? That show went out of date years ago and I'd rather not be on a crash course for failure. I'm out of here.” Vinyl turned tail and stormed out of the building. Octavia and Pinkie Pie looked between Claire and the retreating pony for a moment before running after the white mare.

“Vinyl, please wait!” Vinyl felt a tug in her chest at the fact that Octavia still followed her.

“Yeah! Slow down so we can cheer you up!” Vinyl shook her head lightly at the unusual command but slowed down all the same.

They paused in the streets right outside of Town Hall, where the competition was taking place. The white mare turned to face the other two ponies who both wore small frowns.

“Vinyl, please, I know-” Octavia reached out a hoof as she began only to be cut off and stop suddenly by a male's voice.

“My lady, are still concerning yourself with this lower class... DJ...?” All three mares stiffened at the voice of a pony who was most certainly unwelcomed at this time.

“Leave us alone Pony Moore; I don't want to waste my time with you tonight, or ever really.” Octavia flatly said as they noticed that Sir Pony Moore had his usual two lackeys with him once more before they all turned to leave the area.

“Oh but my dear, surely you would want to know when the wedding would take place?” Three sets of surprised eyes looked at the pale-blue noble, unsure if they heard properly.

“What wedding?” Octavia asked wearily, keeping a hoof on Vinyl's shoulder to both comfort and hold her back; this could go very badly very quickly after all and she didn't want the white mare in more trouble than she already was.

“Why, ours of course. Come my dear, let us talk privately.” Pony Moore went to grab Octavia once more who had stepped back in surprise at whose 'wedding' was soon but found himself blocked by an enraged white unicorn.

“Look bub, Octavia has said time and again, she's not marrying you and never will so BACK OFF!” The temper that the two mares had worked towards soothing returned full force as Pony Moore glared back at the white unicorn.

“Why I never! It is tradition that nobles marry other nobles; my family house has gone back hundreds of hundreds of years, there is nopony more suited to be married than the two of us. Lady Octavia, please, I must insist that we go and speak about the details of our upcoming betrothal.” Pony Moore stepped forward as he laid a hoof on Octavia's shoulder to try and steer her away from the two mares.

At his touch the light-gray earth pony shied away and glared.

“No Pony Moore. I will not go with you and I will not marry you. Come on fillies, let's leave these three.” Octavia was about to turn when she saw how angry Pony Moore was getting and became even more nervous.

“You WILL stay and speak with me about it, it has been decided and you cannot change that! Come with me at once!” Pony Moore stomped a hoof on the ground as his two 'friends' edged away and took more solid stances.

Vinyl frowned at these words and Octavia noticed the change at once in the white mare, from following along to leave to stiffening her back and getting more worked up.

“Look, you are only making it more obvious why you have to resort to tricks and cheats to get mares; you're a first class jerk and not worth the air you are currently farting. We don't want to have anything to do with such a -” At this point in the rant Octavia put a hoof to Vinyl's shoulder and whispered into her ear.

“Please, don't. He has a horrible temper and can turn violent, I don't want you to get hurt. Please, can we just go?” Vinyl looked at the mare pleading with her and felt the frown wipe off her face as she nuzzled under Octavia's chin to reassure the mare.

“Alright, let's go.” Vinyl gave in and with a soft smirk turned to go.

What happened next came as a shock to the three mares as with a resounding 'SMACK' Pony Moore back hoofed Vinyl across the face, knocking her glasses off at the same time. The white unicorn had her eyes shut tight against the pain of the hit while the two lackeys stepped forward.

“Learn respect for your betters! How dare talk back to me in such a way as well as continue to be a bother to Lady Octavia and defile her in public!” At the last line Vinyl whipped her head around to face the noble and glared with all her might, making her eyes seem even more demon red than they actually were.

All three stallions gasped and backed up a step as Octavia and Pinkie Pie walked forward to check on the unicorn only to gasp lightly themselves at the sight of anger in their friend's eyes, though Vinyl didn't know it was because of that and not about the coloring of her eyes.

As Vinyl's mind started to spiral downwards rapidly (Tavi saw them, everything is ruined... She saw, it's all ruined...) Pony Moore muttered a phrase loud enough that everypony nearby could barely make out what was said.

“It's a demon!”

(“Demon foal! It's your fault! Your fault that they always leave! You should never have been born!”)

Vinyl's mind snapped back into place as a rage that neither friend had ever seen before filled her eyes. Without pausing a moment Vinyl threw herself at the earth pony noble and began to give him a sound thrashing.

Before the two other stallions could get involved, Pinkie Pie pulled out a rubber chicken and joined the fray with a frown on her face at the noble's treatment of others. Octavia, being a less physical pony, tried to get to Vinyl before the fight escalated too far.

While both mares were able to hold their own in the fighting, they couldn't find an edge over the stallions and their constant shuffling made it hard for Octavia to reach the white unicorn to stop the whole thing.

Since they hadn't made it very far from the Town Hall, they soon had a large audience circling around them as they crushed the DJ's glasses in the commotion. Vinyl noticed the damage and it enraged her all the more, making her both more and less of a threat to her target; her moves became wilder but had more force behind them when they did connect.

The competition ended soon after the Equestrian Girls' set, which meant that most of the audience and A Cappella groups exited the Hall to find an even larger audience blocking the town square. The Equestrian Girls had found the source of trouble and within moments could guess what caused it. While some (led by Claire) felt that they shouldn't get involved this time, Cloud Kicker, Blossomforth and Windy Day all ran forward to help break up the fighting.

With the extra ponies on their side, they were able to separate both of the fighting sides and to barely hold the white unicorn back (though it helped that even in her red rage she knew not to attack her friends). As the two sides glared at each other, everypony in the crowd got to see the eyes of the DJ and all drew back slightly in surprise.

Everyone except for Vinyl's friends, but this fact went unnoticed as the white unicorn only saw the shocked and scared faces of the crowd around her.

Slow realization came to Vinyl of what she just did and she couldn't face anyone due to the shame of it all. Because she gone still and silent the others had loosened their grips subconsciously and with a quick jerk Vinyl pulled free and ran out of the circle of onlookers.

The white unicorn wasn't sure what to do at this point so she just ran in the direction of the train station and tried to ignore the sounds of the others calling to her; especially Octavia's voice which was filled with pain and sadness.

The DJ managed to stay hidden during the train ride back and was the first one off when it arrived back at E.U.C.C.. She raced around others to get back to her dorm before the earth pony, though she was only alone for only a few minutes before Octavia busted the door open in her haste to find the unicorn.

The gray mare resolutely marched up to the unicorn's half to the room only to be repelled by a semi-transparent barrier that prevented travel and sound to the area it encased. She tried to gain Vinyl's attention by banging on the barrier and shouting, but the pony in question was hidden beneath her blankets and pillow.

Vinyl had put the barrier up so that she wouldn't have to hear about how the classical pony thought they should change rooms and never speak to one another ever again. To make sure she wouldn't see anything to that effect by way of hoof signs or actual signs spelling it all out, as soon as the barrier went up she had taken refuge under the covers.

That was the first night since leaving the orphanage that Vinyl cried herself to sleep, heartbroken that she would never have any long lasting friendships. The barrier, made in haste and desperation, worked both ways and not one side heard the other for the rest of the long, lonely night.

Miss Independent

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A/N: This chapter has some L33t in it, a translation is underneath if you can't read it (believe me, after typing it all up and writing it out, I was able to 'read' it, the same for my editor. He even corrected a few things while typing in L33t )

A pale yellow unicorn stood on her hind legs as she leaned forward.

“Useless little freak of nature! Go ahead, cry! Little piece of trash!” A leg swung down, narrowly missing its target.

“Please, I'm sorry! Please don't-”

“Little shit, don't even speak to me, you should never have been born! Red-eyed little demon spawn!”

With a jerk Vinyl found herself shivering in bed as she looked around the room in fear. As she found that there was nopony else aside from her and her roommate nearby, the white unicorn ran a hoof through her mane as she tried to slow her breathing.

(It was just a dream; she's not here... Why would I dream of her after such a long time? And why do I feel so sad? Wait! Where are my glasses!?)

Vinyl spent a moment searching her nearby desk and the floor around her bed when memories of the previous night came rushing back. She had alienated all her friends and an entire town that didn't even know her and now never will; and she completely ignored and blocked out her roommate who might very well be watching at this time, laughing at how she forgot her glasses got broken the night before.

The white mare froze in place and glanced at the clock hanging on the wall above the doorway; it was still early and Octavia was wrapped up in a cocoon of blankets once more; she hadn't noticed the DJ's sudden rush of movement.

After spending a minute remembering how to remove the barrier that she hadn't had to use in years, Vinyl quietly snuck out of the room only to find a scroll was waiting for attention held onto their door by magic, allowing only one of the two roommates to remove it. Since it would be worse to stand in the hallway without glasses than in a room with a classical noble who probably wanted nothing to with her anymore, Vinyl stepped back inside as she read the scroll quickly.

By the time she was done she wasn't sure what was worse, having to go out in public without her glasses or facing administrative staff without those glasses. The DJ decided to try and find replacements before going to the meeting that was to take place a few hours later, at 10am, concerning the fight that happened the night before.

(Who knew that not many ponies wore glasses? And the one store I find have nothing that would cover my entire eyes... I'll just have to go without for a few days as I put in the order at that one store in Manehatten. Might as well go to the meeting like this and then hide out in my room. I'll just have to avoid Tav-... Octavia, for a while.)

The meeting went better than the depressed unicorn thought it would. The two staff ponies were a little surprised at her cerise eyes and various bruises and scrapes that only confirmed what they were told but they gave her a moment to defend herself and present what happened the night before all the same, which she took; she explained how Sir Pony Moore was harassing Octavia, and had previously been forceful with the gray mare and how Pony Moore flipped his lid and attacked first. The staff stated how other ponies' reports said similar things (aside from the main report, which had made the entire thing sound vastly different) and let Vinyl off with a warming; if she ever got into another fight they would have to suspend or even expel her.

The white unicorn thanked them and went to the school post office to place her request for new glasses along with the bits needed to pay for it all. It was odd for the unicorn to see the world without a slight purple tint to it and while she made sure that most couldn't see her eye color, some did and often did a double-take to check on the colorization.

Once she got back she found that Octavia was awake and waiting for her.

“Vinyl, we need to -” Vinyl brushed past the gray mare who had reached a hoof towards her and put her light blue headphones on, blasting her heaviest wubstep and laid down facing the wall, away from the light gray mare.

She felt a hoof land onto her shoulder and twitched away in fear, her nightmare from the previous night still rather fresh in her mind. The hoof was taken back quickly and though she could have sworn that she heard a quiet sob, the unicorn didn't turn from her position. Vinyl spent the rest of the day in that spot on her bed and while it did sound like Octavia was trying to talk with her, the DJ just turned the volume up farther to block it out.

Vinyl waited until late that night before moving; shaking awake limbs that had gone numb long ago and taking a quick look about the room. She found another bundle of blanket and pony in the other bed and their journal was placed firmly in the center of the DJ's desk.

(Probably had to resort to writing about how much she dislikes me now and wanted to get me to see and acknowledge it. Well, not going to happen.) With a soft snort Vinyl shoved the book away from her and got to work on homework that piled up because of all the extra practices Claire did.

(One less thing to worry about I guess. Now, how do I avoid Ta-Octavia during the day time...?)

The next two days were hard on both roommates but Vinyl didn't want to head outside without glasses so she buried herself in music as well as switching between her sound proof headphones and putting up the barrier to avoid the light-gray mare's attempts to talk.

One would think that perhaps the unicorn should try and change rooms but she didn't actually want to leave and didn't know if Octavia wanted to or not; she knew the school's policy and didn't think they would be willing to make an exception (though being a Manehatten Noble may help change the rules, but a poor orphan stood no chance).

It was during these two days of self-reflection (more like self-loathing, but who was keeping track?) that Vinyl noticed that she lost her charm in the fight or flight afterwards; yet another regret to add to the growing mental list.

Once her new glasses came in a few days later, it was much easier to avoid others; she simply stayed out of the dorms all day long, working at '33 & 1/3' and returning after the gray mare had gone to bed. Each night the L33t journal would be back on top of Vinyl's desk and each time she would push it, unread, to the side.

Vinyl wasn't sure how much longer she could stand the tension and regret; ignoring the gray mare was slowly killing the unicorn's feelings for anything else and it showed in everything she did. Her homework started getting sloppy, her side of the room slowly became a giant mess and her music lost most of its soul; she couldn't even bring herself to sing anything. It was as though she was out of balance and spiraling out of control, and the white unicorn couldn't think of any way to fix it.

The DJ would still try and give samples of her work to the radio station and soon Neon Lights couldn't stand it anymore. A week after the semi-finals the pale-blue unicorn cornered the younger mare as she was on autopilot putting discs away.

“Alright, spill. What happened that has you so down in the dumps?” Vinyl remained silent while she shrugged and tried to keep putting discs away only to have Neon lightly tap her hooves to get her to stop.

“Come on Scratchie, before your music had deep passion and emotion, now it's robotic and lifeless. Something is up and you look like a wreck.” Vinyl sighed as she hung her head in defeat and exhaustion before giving a basic explanation to her boss (without showing her eyes to demonstrate).

By the time she finished Neon was sitting next to her with a hoof on his chin.

“You want an honest answer?” Vinyl looked at her boss with a brow raised since he wouldn't have seen an eye roll, sarcasm coming across clearly even while silent. Neon shrugged before continuing.

“You overreacted a little and didn't give anyone a chance to say anything. I mean, you are beating yourself up over what they might be saying or thinking, it can't get any worse since you are assuming the worse already.” Neon Lights rushed on to say when he saw the indignation on the younger unicorn's face at the statement of her overreacting.

The rest of the sentence gave her pause however as it sunk in; she wasn't ready to hear from the others but she would think about those words for the next few days. She nodded to the older DJ and returned to work, while Neon continued to watch for a while longer before being satisfied that she was doing marginally better than before.

The real eye opener came when Tutti Fruitti came a day later to check on the two ponies who seemed like they wouldn't get along in the beginning of the year. The light pink earth pony was rather surprised to find both roommates tense and silent while the atmosphere felt heavy and depressed.

Tutti Fruitti pulled Vinyl to the side and asked what happened; the dark-blue maned pony was beginning to wonder if this was a pair that were an exception to the dorm selection process and needed to be split up for their own good.

“Well, we don't want either of your studies to suffer, so considering the circumstances would you want to switch?” The light-pink mare looked at the unicorn in concern as Vinyl blinked back in disbelief, after all this time and considering how much of a fuss she made at the start, the DJ didn't want to change rooms. She had grown rather fond of the gray mare and didn't realize how strongly she felt until given the option to leave.

“No, I, ah, promise to have this all sorted out soon. I don't want to change rooms... well, Octavia might, and I guess that's up to her, but I don't want to.” Vinyl softly replied to which Tutti looked hesitant but nodded all the same.

“All right, but if nothing is changed by the time the new semester starts, in seven days, we are going to have a counseling time between the three of us, got it?” Vinyl nodded sharply before heading back to her room, causing Octavia to look up quickly in fear (thought Vinyl couldn't tell from what).

Tutti Fruitti asked for a moment of Octavia's time and by the time the light-gray mare returned the DJ had her headphones on while on her bed; leaving the classical pony no choice but to lay down on her bed once more.

Vinyl spent the rest of the day trying to think of how to break the tension and silence. By the time she was willing to just get up and hug Octavia it was late at night and the gray mare was another bundle of pony and fabric.

Vinyl heaved a sigh as she got up from her bed and walked over to her desk where the journal sat once more; it was the perfect way to find out what Octavia is thinking if she's taking the time to put it back in the center every day.

The white mare flipped it open and found four new entries since she last looked; she turned to the first and began to read.

{ |>34r \/1|\|yL, t|-|15 15 |-|4r|> t0 \/\/r1t3 \/\/1t|-|0|_|t t|-|1|\||<1|\|G 0F t|-|4t |>4y 50 L0|\|G 4G0 \/\/|-|3n y0|_| t4|_|G|-|t |\/|3 L33t. t|-|3 L3|\|Gt|-|5 y0|_| 4r3 \/\/1LL1|\|G t0G0 t0 4\/01|> |\/|3 4r3 1|\/|Pr3551\/3 4n|> |\/|4|<35 1t 4LL t|-|3 |\/|0r3 P41nF|_|L. 1 |<n0\/\/ y0|_|r 3y35 4r3 4 53n51t1\/3 P01nt 4n|> \/\/|-|4t t|-|4t 1|>10t P0ny 541|> |\/||_|5t |-|4\/3 |-||_|rt 4 L0t b|_|t 1 |>0n't t|-|1n|< t|-|4t \/\/4y 4b0|_|t y0|_| 4t 4LL! Plz, |>0n't 5|-||_|t |\/|3 0|_|t 4n|> L3t |\/|3 |-|3LP y0|_|! }

(“Dear Vinyl, this is hard to write without thinking of that day so long ago when you taught me L33t. The lengths you are willing to go to avoid me are impressive and makes it all the more painful. I know your eyes are a sensitive point and what that idiot pony said must have hurt a lot but I don't think that way about you at all! Please, don't shut me out and let me help you!”)

Vinyl began to rub a hoof on her temple, reading about how Octavia felt at being ignored was harder than she imagined; especially since for the past few months the unicorn's goal was to make sure NOTHING was upsetting the gray mare.

{ y0|_|'r3 5t1LL 4\/01|>1nG |\/|3 4n|> 1t |-||_|rt5 50 |\/||_|<|-|; 1t'5 L1|<3 t|-|3r3'5 4 |-|0L3 1n |\/|y |-|34rt. 1 G|_|355 \/\/1n|>y |>4y \/\/45 r1Gt|-|, \/\/3 |>0 b4L4n<3 34<|-| 0t|-|3r 4n|> 1 n33|> |\/|y y1n. PLz t4L|< \/\/1t|-| |\/|3. }

(“You're still avoiding me and it hurts so much; it's like there's a hole in my heart. I guess Windy Day was right, we do balance each other and I need my yin. Please, talk with me.”)

After reading the second entry, Vinyl took off her glasses to give her eyes a good rub, not that she was teary, of course; though she was surprised that Octavia had started to feel the same way with a hole in her chest since the unicorn started to ignore her.

{ 1'|\/| n0t 5|_|r3 |-|0\/\/ |\/||_|<|-| |\/|0r3 0F t|-|15 1 <4n t4|<3 b|_|t 1 n33|> y0|_| 1n |\/|y L1F3, 1'|\/| n0t G1\/1nG |_|P. 1 \/\/1LL \/\/41t F0r y0|_| t0 5P34|< \/\/1t|-| |\/|3. }

(“I'm not sure how much more of this I can take but I need you in my life, I'm not giving up. I will wait for you to speak with me.”)

Vinyl grew even more remorseful as she thought about how hard she had pushed away and dreaded reading the last entry.

{ 1t F33L5 L1|<3 |\/|y L1F3 15 3|\/|Pty 4n|> 1'|\/| n0t 5|_|r3 1'|\/| \/\/1LL1nG t0 G0 b4<|< t0 j|_|5t b31nG Fr13n|>5 \/\/1t|-| y0|_|. }

(“It feels like my life is empty and I'm not sure I'm willing to go back to just being friends with you.”)

It was at this point that Vinyl closed her eyes, fearing the next few sentences but knew she couldn't stop reading; she had to know exactly what the gray mare thought of her.

{ 1'\/3 b33n try1nG t0 45|< y0|_| 4n 1|\/|P0rt4nt Q|_|35t10n t|-|353 L45t F3\/\/ |\/|0nt|-|5 4n|> 1 |<n0\/\/ 1t |\/||_|5t |-|4\/3 b33n Fr|_|5tr4t1nG F0r y0|_| \/\/|-|1L3 1 G4t|-|3r3|> |\/|y <0|_|r4G3 t0 45|<. b|_|t 1n |\/|y |>3F3n53, 1 \/\/45n't 5|_|r3 |-|0\/\/ y0|_| \/\/3r3 G01nG t0 r34<t 4n|> 1 \/\/45 4Fr41|> 0F L051nG y0|_|. |\|0\/\/ t|-|4t 1'\/3 Pr4<t1<4LLy L05t y0|_|, t|-|053 F34r5 533|\/| P3tty 4n|> 51LLy; 4n|> 1F 1 |>0n't 53y 1t (0r 1n t|-|15 <453, \/\/r1t3 1t), 1 \/\/1LL r3Gr3t 1t |\/|y \/\/|-|0L3 L1F3. }

(“I've been trying to ask you an important question these last few months and I know it must have been frustrating for you while I gathered my courage to ask. But in my defense, I wasn't sure how you were going to react and I was afraid of losing you. Now that I've practically lost you, those fears seem petty and silly; and if I don't say it (or in this case, write it), I will regret it my whole life.”)

{ 1 <3 U. 1 <3 U x 4L0t 4n|> 1 |>0n't \/\/4nt t0 b3 \/\/1t|-|0|_|t y0|_|. PL3453 t4L|< \/\/1t|-| |\/|3, \/\/3 |>0n't |-|4\/3 t0 |>4t3 1F y0|_| |>0n't \/\/4nt t0, 1 j|_|5t <4n't 5t4n|> b31nG \/\/1t|-|0|_|t y0|_|; 3\/3n t|-|0|_|G|-| 1 r34LLy r34LLy \/\/4nt t0 b3 |\/|4r3Fr13n|>5. 1 \/\/1LL \/\/41t |_|nt1L t|-|3 3n|> 0F t|-|3 5<|-|00L y34r; 1 |>0n't t|-|1n|< 1 <4n b3 n34r 4n|> 50 F4r Fr0|\/| y0|_| L0nG3r t|-|3n t|-|4t 1F \/\/3 |-|3\/3 n0t|-|1nG t0 |>0 \/\/1t|-| 0n3 4n0t|-|3r. Plz, |<n0\/\/ t|-|4t 1 <4r3 4n|> 4|\/| |-|3r3 F0r y0|_|.

<3 T4\/1. }

(“I love you. I love you very much and I don't want to be without you. Please talk with me, we don't have to date if you don't want to, I just can't stand being without you; even though I really really want to be marefriends. I will wait until the end of the school year; I don't think I can be near and so far from you longer than that if we have nothing to do with one another. Please, know that I care and am here for you.

“Love, Octavia.”)

After Vinyl read the last entry, she felt as though everything made sense and she was at peace (for the moment at least).

(Tavi loves me, no wonder I couldn't read the signs, I've never had anyone feel that way about me nor I for them. 'Cause I do feel the same, can't believe I didn't realize it before now. I don't want to lose her.)

With this thought in mind and love in her heart, the white unicorn didn't want to wait until morning to clear up the whole problem so she just went over to her roommate and gave the pile a hug.

“I'm so sorry Tavi. I don't want to be without you either.” Vinyl whispered as she gave the mare under her a squeeze and light nuzzle, leaning over from the floor to reach the pile. The white mare stiffened when she felt a sudden sharp movement from the gray mare as Octavia threw off her covers only to find the mare returning the hug.

Vinyl relaxed as she felt the mare return the nuzzles and tight hug, leaning forward even more as Octavia remained on the bed with Vinyl sitting on the floor.

“I was so afraid you wouldn't come back.” Vinyl gave the light-gray mare another squeeze at the whispered confession; her heart jerked at the rough sound of the earth pony's voice and wondered if wrapping herself into the blankets was a way to hide the tears.

“I'm sorry, I really am...”

“Vinyl, I will never leave you. You can always talk to me, whenever and about whatever. Just please, talk before shoving everything and everyone away.” Octavia nuzzled Vinyl's shoulder as she tried to hold back tears at finally talking with the white mare once more.

“I will, I'll tell you why... And about my eyes... But first, did you mean what you wrote?” Vinyl's ears flipped back in nervousness, she wasn't used to this kind of talk. The DJ could feel the heat of Octavia's blush as the classical pony nodded.

“I meant every word. I know I should have told you a long time ago but it was so hard to just get you to trust me as a friend. I'd understand if you don't feel the same or just want to stay friends, but I owed it to the both of us to at least tell you.”

Octavia had pulled back far enough to look at the mare as she cupped both sides of the DJ's face in her hooves while she spoke; once she finished explaining herself she planted a chaste kiss on Vinyl's surprised lips before pulling back to watch the unicorn's reaction.

Vinyl's felt as though she was shown a miraculous light only for it to disappear just as quick; in an attempt to find that sunlight once more Vinyl cupped the other mare's face and returned the kiss, though in no way as short as the one Octavia gave her.

While both never kissed anyone before, it felt natural and right as they pulled closer to each other without breaking contact. Each mare had her eyes closed as they felt as though they would explode from the love they had for the other and the feeling of the kiss.

As Octavia pulled Vinyl onto the bed the white mare felt as though she finally understood why so many wrote and made things about love; it was as though the gray mare's love and touch was the only light in the darkness that had been the DJ's life.

The two ponies couldn't stop their hooves as they combed through the other's mane. When the two did pull away, Vinyl couldn't bring herself to be too far from the light gray mare and rested her head on top of Octavia's who in return nuzzled in to the white mare's chest.

As Vinyl tried to find her voice, breath, thoughts or anything really, Octavia couldn't help but lay light kisses under Vinyl's chin, along her neck and even on her chest as though to make up for the lost time and as an outlet for all the care she felt for the DJ. While this didn't help Vinyl's attempt at collecting herself (each touch leaving a fizzy spot as the gray mare's lip left it) she knew she owed Octavia an explanation.

She pulled the gray earth pony closer while she laid a kiss on the top of Octavia's head, drawing strength from newly shared feelings to help with the painful trip to the past that she was about to make.


“I'm gonna tell you about why my eyes make me nervous but I don't think I can keep going if you say anything while I tell you, so pleased don't interrupt, ok?” Vinyl waited for the nod of agreement before taking a large breath and closing her eyes so that she wouldn't see Octavia's reaction until it was all over.

“My mother left me at the orphanage because of my eyes.” Vinyl paused slightly as she felt the mare in her fore-legs stiffen but remained silent.

“I was young enough to still be naive and optimistic about how things might go in an orphanage without my abusive 'mother' around. She, well, she was an extremely pale-yellow unicorn with blue eyes who would date all sorts of stallions who would typically leave after meeting me and seeing my eyes; which would make her all the more angry and she'd take it out on me while calling me names. Like trash, useless... demon spawn...” Another stiffening from the gray mare as Vinyl felt the hug tighten momentarily. After another large breath the young DJ continued.

“So she takes me away one night and I thought she had gone off the edge and was about to finish me off for good, so I ran away. I ran into a club, being small enough that the bouncer didn't notice, and discovered music. I was so stunned that I stood in the middle at the club and just listened; that's how I earned my cutie mark, I knew I would somehow learn to bring more music into the world to help others forget their pain like it did for me that night.

“Well, my 'mom' found me and dragged me out. I tried to put up a fight but she was stronger both physically and magically; I didn't stand a chance. After a quick but thorough beating, she took me to the nearest orphanage; the Hudson Orphanage under the watch of Hannigan, the meanest mare in the world aside from my dear old 'mom'. Well, while she didn't want extra foals showing up, there wasn't much she could do after reading the note my 'mom' prepared, explaining how she was giving me up and that I wasn't to use my real name anymore since I was 'dead to her now' as she put it.” Another tightening but Vinyl wouldn't give in to the comfort just yet, there was a little more to tell.

“So I spent the next thirteen years in the orphanage where it was almost common knowledge that I was given away and why. 'Demon' was a favorite term used to call me especially since I got to pick my new name for record purposes; the other foals said that it must be my true name since it fit so well... You know, it's been so long that I no longer remember my 'real' name anymore, not like I'd ever want see that abusive pathetic excuse for a mare anyways.”

Vinyl fell silent for the oncoming wave of either questions or comfort then realized that Octavia was waiting for her cue to speak once more.

“I think I'm good Tavi... It does feel a little better talking about it to somepony else about it all.” Pressure of another set of lips touching hers caused Vinyl to snap her eyes open to find that Octavia was reassuring her in a different but equally good way.

The unicorn allowed the touch and emotions behind it to wash away the hurt from the past and relaxed into the kiss. Though the feeling of her glasses being lifted up caused her to tense and pull away.

“Tavi, what -?”

“Shhhhh..... It's ok, promise.” Octavia gave the unicorn a small smile as she continued to remove the glasses and didn't pause for a moment even as she saw that the white mare's eyes were firmly shut.

The earth pony proceeded to lay a kiss on each eye lid before resting her forehead against Vinyl's.

“Your eyes are beautiful just like the rest of you and I would be the luckiest mare in all of Equestria if you would consent to be my marefriend.” Vinyl's eyes shot open at this and Octavia gazed at the cerise orbs that showed all the emotions she could only guess at before; confusion, hope, happiness and a touch of doubt.

Octavia took great pleasure in watching the doubt slowly disappeared from Vinyl's eyes as the unicorn realized that Octavia meant what she said and actually liked her eyes. The DJ smiled back slowly as she felt like the luckiest mare that the earth pony was speaking about and gave the mare before her a soft kiss; though Vinyl kept her eyes open to judge gray mare's reaction and Octavia kept her eyes open to continue to look at the usually hidden cerise sight.

“Yes, I would love to be your marefriend if you'd be mine.” Octavia lightly laughed with a shake of her head at the DJ's attempt at lightening the mood, which set Vinyl to smiling as well.

The two ponies cuddled together in the normally singular bed, making the cuddle all-that much closer not that either mare minded. And while it may seem like one of their normal 'hugging sessions', the emotions behind it made it much different and better for both of them.

Octavia couldn't stop looking into Vinyl's eyes, finally able to see each thought as they bubbled to the surface only to be replaced with another. While she wanted nothing more than to keep staring, she realized that she had to explain some things as well.

Vinyl felt a moment of panic as she saw Octavia's eyes become nervous though before she could start to rethink everything she's done wrong (and she was already coming up with a hefty list) Octavia smiled softly.

“I definitely like seeing your eyes, it makes reading your mind much easier.” Octavia's smile grew wider as Vinyl became bashful at how much her eyes gave away.

“I, well, I have something to tell you as well. The other day, while you were out, I had my nodes removed. I won't be able to sing above a certain pitch ever again unless I got the magic surgery to fix it later, which costs double than the surgery to get them removed. I won't be able to look into that option until at least another six months so that we could know that nothing went wrong and everything healed properly.” Octavia practically whispered to her new marefriend who in turned gave her another hug and nuzzled the side of her face.

“What about the Equestrian Girls? Wouldn't such a surgery mess with your singing abilities for a while?” Vinyl gave a small peck to the gray mare's neck as she asked, worry lining her entire being.

“Oh Vinyl.” Octavia gave a small peck back onto the top of the DJ's head before continuing. “We didn't make it. We came in third, but that doesn't make the cut. It's why I choose this time to get the surgery and why if we didn't speak after the end of the school year, I would have left the school to join the world as an inspiring musician trying to make a living off my music.” Vinyl grew a little concerned at the mention of what would have happened had they not reconciled before she remembered that she did patch things up and Octavia wouldn't be leaving any time soon.

Octavia wore another smile at the ability of watching the DJ's eyes which broadcast her every thought; she may have to make it a rule that the white mare couldn't wear her glasses while in the room if she insisted on wearing them still.

“Tavi, you let me know if you need anything, anything at all, I'd get it for you.” Vinyl gave one last snuggle before she settled down in the bed with both fore-hooves wrapped around the other mare.

“Yes, I will. But you have to promise to talk to me before you assume anything! I mean it this time Vinyl; I don't want to lose you.” Octavia also got in one last nuzzle before settling down as well.

“I promise. No, I Pinkie Promise, cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.” Both mares shared a smile at the silly yet rather severe promise that their pink coated friend invented before they started to drift off to the land of dreams.

“... Tavi?”

“Yes Vinyl?” Octavia wore a warm smile at hearing the unicorn's voice after such a long time of silence.

“... I lost my yin charm... I think it must have fallen off during the fight or when I, uh, ran away...” Vinyl couldn't stand to look Octavia in the eye as she confessed to having lost a sign of how they were meant to be together. Octavia gave a small sigh with a smirk at how nervous the mare was about it, luckily she had found the charm and kept it safe as a reminder of the white unicorn.

“I found the charm Vinyl; I put it in my desk drawer. I was worried that you had thrown it away on purpose, but I'm starting to think that's not the case.” Vinyl relaxed once more as relief washed through her.

“No, I wouldn't have thrown it away. If nothing else, I'd keep it as a reminder. Can... Can I have it back? What drawer is it in?” Vinyl tilted her head to look at the desk in thought.

“Yes, I don't mind giving it back at all; it's supposed to keep us in balance after all. Top drawer on the right, but you don't have to get up for it right now, can't it wait until morning?” Octavia clutched a little more at the mare beside her, unwilling to end their snuggling time.

Vinyl chuckled lightly as she gave the gray mare a swift kiss and hug at the unwillingness to separate.

“Perks of being a unicorn Tav'. Give me a second to focus and we can get back to lying together in peace.” Octavia smiled rudely as she realized that she did forget about her marefriend being a unicorn, one would think it was easy to remember with the number of barriers Vinyl had put up in an attempt at avoiding others.

The earth pony watched as the unicorn opened the right drawer, pulled out the charm and even put it back on her hoof all with magic. Once it was back in place, and after a quick reveal of the yang charm that never left Octavia's neck, the two mares settled back down for the night.

“Love you Tavi...”

“As I love you Vinyl...”

Gone Gone Gone

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Vinyl woke suddenly to a tight hug and the sound of light crying; terrified, the unicorn raised her head slightly and searched the other side of the room, worried that the previous night's confession had been a dream and Octavia was crying because they hadn't made up yet.

At the sight of an empty bed across the room, Vinyl started to get up with a frown growing on her face but stopped when she felt a pair of hooves around her center pulling her close. As the DJ looked down she found the gray mare in her hooves with her head buried into Vinyl's chest.

As Vinyl slowly settled down into the bed once more, she began to rub Octavia's back to comfort the mare.

“Octavia? Tavi? What's wrong; why, why are crying?” Vinyl gave the mare's head a nuzzle which Octavia returned with one of her own.

“I thought it was all a dream, and when I realized it wasn't one I couldn't help but get a... A little teary about it. It's a dream come true.” Octavia softly told her marefriend who relaxed completely with a smirk at the reason.

“Yeah, it's a dream come true; and it will never end, not by me. Promise.” Vinyl tightened her hug while continuing to rub the mare under her.

The two mares stayed in the bed for a while longer when the door burst open with a bang.

“Heeellloooo Octavia! Ooooh and Vinyl! In bed! Woo, you go filly!” Pinkie bounced into the room and watched with a smile as Vinyl flared and fell out of the bed trying to reach her glasses.

Octavia tried to not be annoyed at the sudden intrusion and watched with Pinkie Pie as Vinyl found and put her glasses back on; though the sight of the dreaded glasses brought a frown on the light-gray mare's face. She could tell that it was too soon to try and convince Vinyl that nopony really cared about her eye color, even though she really wanted to see the cerise orbs.

“Gosh you silly DJ, why do you need the glasses inside?” Pinkie leaned towards the white mare who looked back with a slight frown.

“Because no one likes my eyes; not even me.”

“I love them, just like I love you.” Octavia called from the bed to whom Vinyl sent a light smirk before facing the pink mare once more.

“I like them too! They're pretty!” Pinkie leaned closer as she fluttered her eyelashes to the white mare.

This move caused Vinyl some confusion as to what exactly the hyper mare was trying to say.

“Uhm... Yeeaahhh... I'm with Octavia now; and while I guess I'm glad you like how my eyes look, I'm not going to just start not wearing the glasses.” Vinyl leaned away from the hyper mare as Octavia tried to stifle her giggles at the response and Pinkie Pie's extreme eye roll at the first part of the statement.

“Well DUH! Everypony from here to the moon could see that you two were going to be together! It was only a matter of time, silly filly.” Pinkie giggled at the stunned look on Vinyl's face at the news that these feelings that she's only just came to terms with were rather obvious to everyone else.

Octavia got up from the bed and gave the white mare a half hug and a light kiss, bringing her out of her stupor. Once she saw that the DJ was among them once more, the light-gray mare turned to the baker in curiosity.

“Was there something you wanted Pinkie Pie?”

“Nopey dopey! I was just checking on you to see how things were going, and boy am I glad that you two made up! Now the world is in harmony once more!” The pink mare gave a large smile at the newly dating ponies as Vinyl thought about the first part of the sentence.

“You were checking on us? Why at this time? One of your weird 'sense' thingies?” Vinyl tilted her head as she leaned into the mare next to her, regretful that a checkup was needed in the first place.

Pinkie tilted her head in the opposite direction as her smile fell slightly when she noticed that Vinyl hadn't noticed previous checkups; meanwhile Octavia sighed and could tell that it was something she was going to have to explain.

“Vinyl, Pinkie Pie has come by every morning to see if anything has changed or if nothing else, to try and cheer me up...” At this Vinyl's almost good mood rapidly went downhill; something both of the other ponies picked up on and rushed to reassure the white mare.

“Vinyl, please, it's all in the past. Don't get all worked up about it.” Octavia wrapped both hooves around the white mare as Vinyl gave them a sad smirk.

“Yeah, it's ok Vee! At least it's all better now!” Pinkie Pie also gave the white mare a hug while Vinyl felt the need to return both as best she could.

After the shared hug, the three friends pulled apart and sat in the middle of the room; the two roommates looked at the pink baker as Pinkie just sat with a grin.

“Uhm, Pinkie, was there anything else you wanted? Uh, what have you been up to lately anyways?” Vinyl asked as she realized that she spent a week without knowing what was happening to the other mares on the team.

“Actually, what's everyone been up to?” Vinyl glanced at Octavia as she posed this new question.

“Well, I was staying in the room in case I ever got the chance to speak with you again, so I don't know what the others are doing. Do you Pinkie?” Octavia looked at the pink mare who started to nod rapidly and take a large breath before answering.

At the sight of the hyper mare getting ready for a large answer, both roommates could tell they would have to focus on what was about to be said and braced themselves.

“Of course I know what the others are doing! Windy Day has been hanging out with these ponies who sit around the fire and do beat-boxing, I guess that's where she learned how to do all those cool moves and sounds, Arpeggio has been singing a lot of jazz and the blues which I don't see how somepony can sing a color unless they are blue but maybe it's a different kind of blue? Beautiful Composition has been sitting in between trees and buildings and things trying to write new music but seems to be having a hard time, I wonder why, I mean she was doing so well before, Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth have gotten into a fight and aren't speaking to each other, something about what she does at night and how Cloud Kicker will never like her? But they were friends, so I guess they mean the other kind of liking, like how you two like like each other, Lyra has been going on more dates with her marefriend Carrot Top and they seem really happy though Carrot Top seems to be suspicious of something, Claire has been throwing herself into everything else she has to do and doesn't want to hang out at all, you two have been fighting for the last week but now you've made up and are sure to go on some really nice dates if the author ever gets the nerve to write about it and I've been checking on everyone every day to make sure everypony is having lots and lots of fun but they aren't so I was going to have a 'cheer-up-it's-the-holidays' party!”

At the last word Pinkie waved her hooves in the air in excitement of making such a party that would hopefully lift all her friends' spirits.

The two mares were rather glad they had braced for the sudden rush of words; it helped them understand most of what had been said, though there were some parts here and there that they didn't quite get. Once it all processed, the two mares felt a little bad that they had ignored their other friends and were actually looking forward to a cheering up party.

“The party sounds like a good idea Pinkie Pie; it might be just what we need. I'm sure you have a lot of planning to do, please let us know when it is to happen.” Octavia smiled at the baker who nodded rapidly, paused then grew even more excited.

“Ooooh! What if you guys helped me!? That would be so cool and then we could hang out and talk with everyone else and-” Vinyl could tell that it was time to cut the pink mare off before she went on another rant about parties.

“That sounds nice Pinkie, but I was kind of hoping to spend the day with Octavia, now that we're talking and dating and all.” Vinyl gave the party mare a bashful smile as she wrapped a hoof around the light-gray mare next to her who nodded slightly in agreement of how to spend their day.

“Ooooh~ You don't want to party, you want to paarrttaay. I get it!” After rolling her light blue eyes, Pinkie gave the pair a large wink before hopping up and bouncing towards the door.

As the two dating mares grew embarrassed and tried to correct whatever the pink mare may have thought they were going to do, Pinkie merely laughed and waved farewell.

“Bye you guys! Enjoy your nice, large, soundproof room! Let me know if you need to borrow any of my board games, it doesn't seem like you have a lot of games to choose from. Remember, I have pin the tail on the pony, snakes and ladders, sorry!, go fish, battle clouds and loads more!”

As the two roommates stared on in shock, no longer sure of what the pink mare thought they were going to do, they watched as Pinkie opened the door and paused mid-bounce as she found somepony at the door.

“Oh hello! I never seen you before! I'm Pinkie Pie and I'm trying to learn about everypony who goes to this school, are you new?”

“Oh, no, I'm not new; I live in a smaller dorm and I'm usually pretty busy with work or school. I'm Derpy and I work for the school postal service; I have a scroll for both you and an Octavia, is she in right now? Here's yours in any case.” A bluish-gray pegasus hoofed over a scroll to the baker who looked excited at getting a letter.

“Ooooh! I can't wait to read it! Thanks and Octavia is in; see, there she is!” Pinkie turned around slightly and pointed out the gray mare to the pegasus along with a wave for good measure. Octavia thought it was a little odd but sweet and waved back to the pink mare who, after getting a return wave, hopped away with a loud “bye!” to all three ponies.

“Octavia?” Derpy asked as she hovered in the doorway.

“Yes, I'm Octavia.”

“This is for you, express delivery. Have a nice day!” With a tip of the brown postal hat that she wore, the pegasus left the two roommates alone after closing the door behind her.

“Wonder who's it from; does it say on top?” Vinyl peered at the scroll in curiosity; she never got letters from anypony and seeing Octavia get one was just as exciting as getting one herself.

“It's from Claire! Why would she send something express? It must be something really important, give me a moment, ok?” Octavia asked of the white mare who rested her head onto a light-gray shoulder and read the scroll rapidly.

Vinyl couldn't remain silent as she saw a frown grow on her marefriend's face and tried to read some of the letter as well.

“It's about the competition.” Octavia stated once she finished reading the scroll as she looked at the mare next to her.

“What about it, Equestrian Girls didn't make it right?” Vinyl tried to keep in mind that she quit the night of the semi-finals, she didn't have a right to lay any claim of the group.

“Well, yes, but it seems that the team that got second place 'cheated' as it were.” Vinyl's brow rose as she pondered this statement while she sat up, though she didn't leave her place beside the earth pony.

“Huh? How do you cheat in a singing competition? Did they bribe the judges? What does this have to with the Equestrian Girls?” Octavia rolled her eyes at the interruptions though she couldn't help but smile all the same; even if Vinyl did 'quit' she was still interested in what happened. Maybe she could convince the white unicorn to try and rejoin, eventually.

“Allow me a moment and I'll explain.” Vinyl's ears flipped back momentarily as she lightly stiffened.


“It's alright, just give me a moment to explain, ok?” Octavia kissed Vinyl's check, cheering the unicorn up who then was more than willing to hold her questions until the end.

“As you know, the teams are from the different colleges in the country. Well, to be on these teams you have to be in college or at least be college age to compete. It seems that the Footnotes, the ones who got second place?, had a few colts and fillies that are not of age to be competing; they have been disqualified from the competition once the truth was found. Thus, the Equestrian Girls are 'back in' as some may put it.

“The reason I am frowning is the cause of HOW the Footnotes found these talented fillies and colts for their group; it seems that Pony Moore helped to fund talent agents in locating these ponies and brought them to the Footnotes, making it so the Equestrian Girls wouldn't have a chance to continue. I suppose he may have thought that if I wasn't in the team anymore I wouldn't converse with 'ponies of lower class'... He would have been proven wrong of course, but it's still annoying to think he went that far just to stop us from performing.” Octavia put the scroll down as she leaned into Vinyl for support while Vinyl now wore the frown.

“Pony Mooorreee....” The unicorn growled her annoyance at the pony who just wouldn't leave her mare alone.

Octavia heard this threatening note and could feel the unicorn stiffen out of anger; the gray mare stiffened as well at the thought of another fight and what it may mean for the unicorn.

“Vinyl, don't fight him again, please. They would almost certainly expel you if you got into another fight.” Octavia laced a fore-hoof around Vinyl's shoulders as she buried her face into a white shoulder, while Vinyl in turn rested her head on top of gray mane.

“I won't, I already had that talk with the administrative staff; I don't want to go through that again. But we have to do something, this pony just won't get that you don't want to be with him.”

“... You know, everyone who helped that night had to visit the staff to account for what happened. Did it help any? Are you in some kind of trouble right now?”

“I had a feeling that you guys did; they gave me a warning but let me off the hook this time around. I just can't get into another fight.... But that doesn't answer my question, what are you going to do about Potty Mouth?” Octavia raised a brow at the re-naming of Pony Moore, though she agreed with each new name Vinyl came up for the annoying noble.

“How do you feel about traveling to Manehatten?” Vinyl pulled away to look at the mare beside her who looked up into sunglasses with a slight frown; while the DJ was worried about what the frown was for, as Octavia moved to take the offending object off of the white mare's face Vinyl smirked and removed them on her own instead.

At the sight of Vinyl's uncovered eyes the gray mare smiled once more as she went on to explain; it was much easier to judge the young DJ's reaction without her glasses on.

“I'll go and speak with my parents; try and convince them one last time that I don't want to marry Pony Moore. If that doesn't work, I'll put in a restraining order while I'm in town; that should stop him for a while at least.” Vinyl thought for a moment before nodding slowly.

“Sounds like a solid plan, but what does that have to do with me traveling to Manehatten?” Vinyl noticed how Octavia grew a little hesitant, setting her on edge as well at what the light-gray mare may have been talking about.

Octavia noticed how her one moment of uncertainty was causing the unicorn to also become very uncertain and gave a mental sigh before nuzzling a white side as she explained her idea fully.

“I was wondering if perhaps you would like to meet my parents since I was already going; I know that having you along would help my courage as well. I would have to leave right away, Claire wants to start practice as soon as the semester starts so that we can get back to work once everyone is back from break; I would only have four days to get to Manehatten and back before the new semester starts on March 10th...”

“Oh. Uh, yeah, sure. Though are you sure about me coming with? I'm just some poor orphan, I don't know anything about meeting with nobles.” Vinyl fidgeted in place as she looked to the floor, worried that she would embarrass herself and Octavia somehow while meeting her parents.

“Tell me, do you have any trouble talking or meeting with me?”

“Well no, but that's differ-”

“It is not different! Tell me, have I once made a comment or made it seem like I judge you because of where you lived for most of your life?”

“No, but your parents might not-”

“I do not care what my parents think at times; if you haven't noticed, my parents think I have made a horrible mistake in choosing a college to go to as well as thinking that I should marry Pony Moore. Has this stopped me or changed my mind on these issues?”

Vinyl was starting to see where this was going, but decided to continue answering anyways.


“Then it shouldn't matter to you either. I want you to meet them so that they can meet the mare I have fallen in love with and so I can stand even firmer when I tell them about all this. Manehatten is about... A day to get there and another to get back, so I'd only have a day or so to speak with my parents. Can you get ready to leave shortly?” Octavia got up from her seat next to the unicorn as she headed for her bed to pack some essentials; she glanced over to see that Vinyl was starting to pack up as well and was much faster than the gray mare.

“Sure thing. Is there anything you want me to do once that's all done?” Vinyl put her filled duffel bag onto her bed, being poor and having little material items meant that it was fast and easy for her to be ready for a trip.

Octavia looked up from her own bag and noticed how quickly Vinyl had finished.

“Hmm, yes actually; if you could go and book our tickets for the train ride as I send a letter to my parents so they can expect us; that would be much appreciated.”

Vinyl gave a short nod before heading towards the door only to be stopped by a soft call.

“Vinyl, don't you need bits for it? It's going to cost quite a lot, I'll pay. Here, take this.” With the short command Octavia handed over a small brown bit bag that was loaded down with a large sum of funds for their trip.

Vinyl raised a brow at how heavy the bag was as she looked at her marefriend who made shooing motions to the unicorn, prompting no back talk about using the light-gray mare's bits.

Once both mares were finished with their preparations, Octavia having sent her letter by express pegasus and Vinyl getting the tickets for the train, they met at the train station with one duffel bag each and small smiles.

Within moments the train that would take them to Manehatten was ready to go and the two ponies settled down into a private compartment that had two bunks to be used for the long trip (though it was unlikely that both would be needed for the new couple). Once they put away their duffel bags and the two mares settled into a peaceful cuddle session on one of the beds.

As the train began the long trip north, Vinyl couldn't help but let her mind wander over what might happen when she meets Octavia's parents.

(I know that Tavi likes me for me, but these ponies are important to her as well and I don't know if I can impress them like I did Tavi. How did I get this beautiful and wonderful mare to fall for me? Gotta remember to ask that...

But what if I can't impress them? Would they want us to break up? They probably would. Tavi said she didn't care though, does that mean she'd be willing to be even further 'on the outs' with her parents? That's got to be hard on a pony who actually cares for her family... What if they cut her out completely for not doing as they say? Would they cut her finances? Does Tavi have a way to pay for stuff? I don't think I've seen her do anything outside of school and clubs...

Wait, how did she pay for her surgery? How would she get the other magical surgery? What would singing do to her after she just got surgery!? Oh horsefeathers, she didn't say anything about that at all! I gotta ask now while we're alone, I have to know how much is riding on me presenting a good image to her folks!)

“Tavi?” Vinyl looked at the mare in her hooves who had almost been lulled to sleep once more due to the early hour, the rhythmic sound of the train and the warmth and love of the pony next to her.

“Hhhhmm?” Octavia cracked open an eye to look at her marefriend, giving a mild frown at the sight of the glasses that have been on since they were out in public.

“Tavi, would you be able to sing for the Equestrian Girls without hurting yourself?” At this question, loaded with concern as it was, made the light-gray mare smile lovingly at the unicorn as she shook her head no.

“No, the surgery made it so it DOESN'T hurt. My singing range is different, but that's not going to stop me; we've got a chance at finals, nothing is going to stop me now.”

“Oh, ok, good... How did you pay for the surgery?” Octavia raised a brow at this, starting to have an inkling of where this was going and not sure if she was pleased or not that Vinyl would think about it.

“... My parents paid for it.”

“I see. What about college?”

“Sigh, my parents.”

“Right... what about, if you wanted to get that surgery that would help get your voice back to normal?” Octavia had both eyes open at this time, concern about the topic at hoof showing in her eyes.

“Vinyl, what does that have to do with anything?”

“Octavia, please.”

“Sigh, it's too early to even be thinking about it. I think my parents have assumed that they would pay for it, but what does have to do with anything Vinyl...? Sigh, you're thinking about 'what if's aren't you?” Octavia paused only slightly as Vinyl nodded her head slowly, secretly glad that she was wearing her sunglasses since it made it harder for Octavia to see into her mind.

“Oh Vinyl, it if comes down to my parents disinheriting me, I'll just get a job and I'm sure there are some scholarships that I can apply for to finish my college degree. I can still sing, so I don't need to worry about that extra surgery just yet. Please don't worry about it.” Octavia brushed her hoof along Vinyl's brow, moving her mane out of her face and leaving the way clear for a quick peck on the check for the unicorn's concern.

“But, I don't want to be the reason why you aren't a family anymore; families are important and I'd rather not be a home-wrecker...” Vinyl leaned into the hoof that rested on her face for comfort and to stress her point.

Octavia shook her head once more at how much the unicorn was willing to blame herself for; it meant that she had to take extra care that misunderstandings or problems didn't become larger than they really were.

“Families are supposed to help one another and be happy when someone of the family is; if they aren't happy that I'm happy with the choices I've made, then they aren't a very good family. If nothing else, this has been a long time coming; my parents have never really listened to what I've had to say, even after I've proven myself. If I had to choose between parents who don't listen and don't care about how I feel or think and a special somepony who not only cares but who goes to extreme measures to make me happy, I'm going with the special somepony.” With this declaration made, the light-gray mare pulled the white one close to her once more and sealed the deal with a tender kiss on the lips; one the unicorn was more than willing to reciprocate.

As the two ponies settled down for a long train ride, the white unicorn made herself a promise.

(I won't leave Tavi hanging, ever. If her parents won't take proper care of her, I most certainly will, just like I would have anyways. Don't worry Tav', there is no way in Tartarus that I'm ever leaving you or letting you down again. Now, ways to try and impress her parents.)

The trip to the big city was filled with cuddles, snuggles and light music (Vinyl couldn't leave her laptop behind). Nopony came and bothered them, and they had their meals on the train in the dining car that was well stocked for long trips like the one they were on.

Vinyl made sure to keep the conversation light and friendly as she made mental plans for any kind of reaction that the gray mare's parents may have. She knew what it was like to not have much in the way of bits, having to not eat as much or finding the best prices for things; Octavia probably wasn't prepared, so Vinyl made sure to over-prepare on her behalf.

It was early the next day when the couple arrived at Manehatten; the sun barely up far enough to cut through the light fog that shrouded the city. The sound of ponies beginning their day could be mutely heard as the two mares grabbed their duffel bags and looked for a taxi carriage.

Vinyl looked at the tall hodge-podge of buildings with a slight frown; she hadn't expected to be in the bustling city so soon after leaving it. It was the same as when she left it; ponies rushing around even in the early morning, streets filling with taxis trying to be faster than the others for customers, vendors crying out about their wares varying from foodstuff to electronics.

Once they finally got a taxi carriage, the light brown earth pony was slightly surprised to hear that the two mares wanted to go to the higher end of Manehatten but began to trot off none the less. Vinyl watched in curiosity as the buildings changed from either work places and businesses to high-end apartment complexes that held only a few ponies at a time, the majority of the space owned by upper class ponies.

The various ponies that walked in this part of the neighborhood were very much upper class, wearing the latest fashions and a slight tilt of their nose in the air to show how much better they were than everypony else. Vinyl was feeling out of place when the carriage stopped in front of the largest of buildings that was owned by a single family, the Philharmonics; at this point Vinyl was almost tempted to just give up the entire venture before she embarrassed herself and Octavia.

Before she could give in to this new temptation, Octavia stepped off the taxi and paid the fare, leaving Vinyl no choice but to follow along. They met no resistance at the door, the doorpony recognizing Octavia and allowing them entry as he pointed out that her family was expecting her at the breakfast table.

After taking the elevator to the twelfth floor of the fifteen storied building, they came into a large room with an equally large table that could hold space for twenty easily. Placed near the walls were solid high-grade wood furniture much like the table and chairs were made of, on the walls were paintings from various periods. Vinyl felt as though she would never see as much money as half of what was on this floor alone.

At the head of the table sat two ponies, a light-gray with blue mane earth pony and a pale-cream with dark-gray mane unicorn both of whom looked up at the two mares' entrance.

“Mother, Father, it is nice to see you again.” Octavia walked over and gave each a peck on the check as she called to them.

“Octavia, what is so important that you had to come immediately to speak with us?” Octavia's mother, the light-gray earth pony, signaled to a waiting servant to set more places for the two mares.

“Indeed, we have a charity we have to make an appearance for this morning.” Octavia's father, the unicorn, mentioned as he began to eat.

“I apologize; I can see that you are both going to be busy, so I shall be quick. But please, forgive me, I haven't introduced you to my companion. Vinyl, this is my mother and father, Sonata and Vito Philharmonic; Mother, Father, this is my marefriend, Vinyl Scratch.” Octavia paused only for a moment as Vinyl raised a brow at the abrupt introduction while her parents lightly choked on the food they had taken a bite of while their daughter spoke.

“I'm here to demand that you stop this absurd marriage business with Pony Moore, and that you and Pony Moore are to stop harassing me about my choices of college and love-life.” After the simple declaration, Octavia remained next to Vinyl facing her parents as neither one felt as though they would be invited to sit and eat with the nobles.

“What is this non-sense!? Who is this 'Vinyl Scratch'?” Sonata stood from her seat as she glared at the white unicorn who started to shrink back only to be encouraged by the mare of her heart to stand firm.

“I am Vinyl Scratch, and I love your daughter very much. But Pony Moore has been harassing and bothering her non-stop, and we would like it if you could request for him to stop or we will have to take measures of our own.” Vinyl stood straight as she re-described what they hoped to accomplish, noticing how both older ponies seemed to give her the once over and sneered.

“Our daughter is a Manehatten Noble, she is to marry one of her own kind; not some no named unicorn who can't even dress properly to be in the company of nobles.” Vito set his utensils down as he glared at the white unicorn.

Since this was pretty much how Vinyl had expected Octavia's parents to react, she wasn't as nervous as before; though all her thought out arguments seemed to have flown from her mind and she could only stand there trying to appear nonchalant about the whole thing.

Octavia, on the other hoof, was more than prepared for this reaction no matter what she had told Vinyl.

“While maybe she might not be known right now, Vinyl is going to be greatest DJ Equestria has ever seen; and she might not be used to being in the company of nobles such as yourself; but she has all the grace and manners anypony would ever need or want. If you do not accept these facts, then I suppose it shall be even longer before we can agree on anything.” Octavia looked at her parents sternly as she pressed herself against Vinyl who had started another spiral of depression at how different the two mares were from each other.

“Preposterous! This, this... mare... has clouded your mind. Come, we are taking you out of that school and you shall go to a college befitting a mare of your status.” Sonata stepped away from the table and stood in front of the light-gray mare who was now glaring back.

“No, mother. I will not leave E.U.C.C. nor shall I ever leave Vinyl; and there is nothing you can do about it.” Octavia stood firm as both her parents were in shock at the behavior.

“DJ... DJ... Is this the DJ the same DJ that assaulted Sir Pony Moore? Why would you risk disgrace by staying with such a violent mare?” Sonata glared at Vinyl who only frowned back, she wouldn't leave Octavia's side of her own free will, no matter who disapproved.

“I have had enough of Pony Moore! If either one of you won't stop him, then I shall! Come on Vinyl, we tried.” Octavia turned around and headed back to the door when her father's voice called out.

“Stop right this instant; if you do not accept your place in noble society, you shall be barred from it! If you do not renounce this uncouth mare right this moment, we shall no longer indulge your willfulness and you shall be cut off from this family.” Vito left the table to stand by his wife to face their daughter, who could only shake her head in amazement at how far they were willing to take the whole issue.

“I have not nor will I ever renounce Vinyl. If it comes down to it, a mare that is happy that I am happy is better than a family who do not seem to care for what I want or think at all. I suppose this shall be the last time we see each other for a while; take care, mother, father.” Octavia bowed her head slightly before turning to leave once and for all.

The last image Octavia would ever have is that of both her parents standing where she left them in shock and disgust.


View Online

“Tavi, are you sure about this? Have you given any thought about what you'll do from this point on? What about all your stuff?” Vinyl nuzzled the gray mare's neck as they stood in the elevator heading back down to the ground, trying to make sure that Octavia would be ok after the disastrous family meeting they just had.

“Of course I'm sure! I've actually given it some thought on the train ride here after you posed similar questions; I'll have to drop a few clubs and get myself a job but I'm sure I'll find something. I'll get a scholarship to cover cost of tuition in case they try to make me come back by not paying or even trying to remove me from the system. I suppose it's a good thing I'm of legal age; they can't do that without my consent now. As for my stuff, most of it was given to me to steer me in the right direction; anything that I truly care for is back in our dorm room and even they wouldn't be so tacky as to try and take back any of my instruments.” Octavia nodded to herself as she made more plans for when they got back.

The two mares remained silent as they exited the tall apartments and traveled to the nearest courthouse to put in that restraining order. Once it was done, Octavia paused at the sign that listed some of the other things a pony could do in a courthouse; her eyes rested on being able to change her name and wondered if she should do so if she was truly 'disinherited'.

“What do you think Vinyl, should I change my last name?” Vinyl had been staring at the ceiling, not really enjoying being in a courthouse when Octavia posed her question.

The unicorn gave it some thought and realized that it would never really matter to her what the light-gray earth pony was called, so long as they were together.

(Wow, I've gotten really sappy in the last few days... Seriously though, name changing... Hmmm, well, it made me feel better to get a chance to change my own name; maybe it would help her too.)

“Well, you could. I would maybe wait until you know for sure if your folks cut you off, but it's up to you. It would probably help you feel like a whole new mare though.” Vinyl watched as Octavia put a hoof to her chin in thought before nodding.

“I think I shall. What should I change it to? Any suggestions?” It was Vinyl's turn to be thoughtful as she tried to think of what would fit the musical mare beside her when it came to her in a sudden understanding.

“Melody. You should be Octavia Melody, since you're the melody of my heart.” Vinyl grew bashful at what caused her to think of such a name, though Octavia thought it was rather sweet and gave the white unicorn a peck on the lips in gratitude.

“That sounds like a good name, thank you. Give me a moment to fill out more paperwork and then we can decide what to do with the rest of our day.” Vinyl smiled in return and settled down on the floor to wait just a little longer for the earth pony to finish all the papers she had to fill-out for both a change of name and a restraining order against Sir Pony Moore, making it so he couldn't come within fifteen feet of the light-gray mare nor interfere with her business.

As the two mares stepped outside once more, they paused to think of how to spend the rest of the day; it would be tiresome to get back onto the train right away for another long ride home. Vinyl searched the skyline for inspiration when she noticed a familiar mane of teal with white highlights; upon closer inspection the white unicorn found that it was indeed Lyra who seemed as downhearted as Octavia was after meeting her parents.

“Hey Tavi, is that Lyra?” Following where Vinyl pointed with a hoof, Octavia saw the mint-green unicorn and nodded.

“Indeed, I wonder what brings her to Manehatten. Let's go and ask.” Octavia led the way to the other unicorn while Vinyl became nervous once more; Pinkie Pie was one thing, but Vinyl wasn't sure if the others were as accepting of her and her eyes.

Vinyl tried to remember what Lyra had been doing the night of the semi-finals, a hard feat to do when most of the night was a blur of rage, embarrassment and fright. Thinking back, the white unicorn vaguely remembered the mint-green mare keeping anypony else from joining the fight, though she couldn't recall how Lyra had reacted when everyone saw her eyes.

“Lyra, how are you today? What brings you to the city?” Octavia greeted the mint-green mare who looked around in surprise before finding the new couple.

“Oh, hello there you two, enjoying the sights? It's nice to see you two out and about, everypony was getting worried about you guys.” Lyra smiled at the two mares who became sheepish at how much trouble they had caused with their fighting. Vinyl raised a brow slightly at how relaxed the other mare was after the disastrous night that was the semi-finals.

“You're not mad? You don't think my... eyes... look odd?” Vinyl lightly pawed at the ground as she watched the other unicorn frown lightly and tilted her head.

“Why would I be mad? I was worried that you two would never make up; you are meant for each other; why would I care about your eyes? They looked pretty neat; though you are wearing your glasses again, don't you like them?” Vinyl could only look back in a pensive frown at how easy going the mint-green unicorn was.

“Vinyl is worried about how others will think of her because of her eyes; I believe that she is shocked by how you and others don't seem to care as much as she had thought at first. We have indeed 'made-up' as it were...” Octavia rubbed the side of Vinyl's face with her own, causing the white unicorn to blush at the public display of affection. At the sight of Lyra's curious look Vinyl glanced down before looking back firmly.

“Yeah, we're dating now.” Lyra smiled at the pair before looking at Octavia then giving the neighborhood around them a swift glance. The mint-green mare looked back the light-gray mare with slight concern in her eyes and a pensive frown.

“I suppose you went to visit family about it, Octavia?” Octavia glanced away for a moment before facing the other unicorn once more with a quick nod.

Lyra gave a soft sigh before asking what was beginning to feel like a rhetorical question.

“They didn't take it well, did they?” Both mares shook their heads no as Vinyl noticed how Octavia seemed more upset than she had let on about the subject. Lyra walked forward a few paces and gave both mares a hug at once as she tried to consul them.

“You tried at least, maybe they'll start to think about what they've done and come around eventually. I haven't given up on mine yet at least, I'm sure things would get better.” Lyra stepped back and left a comforting hoof on the gray mare's shoulder and tried to smile confidently at them; the smile faded a little at the look in Octavia's eye and her mournful smile back.

“They said they would cut me off from the family, Lyra; I don't think they're going to come around anytime soon.” Lyra's whole demeanor changed at this sentence, from optimistic to resigned.

“No, they most likely won't. Manehatten Nobles can be one of the most stubborn ponies ever; mine still haven't changed their minds either. I came out this way to try and convince them; Carrot Top has been suspicious of why I don't tell her about my family. I was hoping that if I convinced my folks, I could bring her here and have them meet each other; no such luck I'm afraid.” Lyra frowned at the ground as both Octavia and Vinyl became the ones to comfort an upset mare.

“Well, they haven't cut you off yet right? You still got a chance.” Vinyl tried to be supportive though she avoided Octavia's eye.

“They have, but I didn't want to give up on them just yet.” Vinyl flinched as she had landed on a bombshell unintentionally; she decided to remain silent until she knew more of what was happening.

Octavia could tell that Vinyl felt bad for having said that and was going to remain silent until she could figure out what would be a better thing to say. The light-gray mare gave the white unicorn a quick nuzzle to show that she appreciated the effort before she gave the mint-green mare a hug.

“You are braver than I; I no longer wish to be a 'Philharmonic' if they insist on never changing their old-fashion ways. Should you decide that being a noble isn't worth all the heartache, changing last names is rather refreshing; and don't forget your friends, ourselves included, will always be there for you.” Octavia whispered to the light-green mare as she continued the hug; Vinyl felt as though she should take part and joined in the hug as well.

“Thanks.” Lyra held the hug a moment longer before shaking free of the somber thoughts and regaining her optimistic and free-spirited mood.

“Sorry for ruining your date you guys. Don't worry about me, Heartstrings are tough ol' ponies. Now, what are you guys planning for your date? Do you know the area?” Lyra stepped out of the hug and smiled at the pair.

“We're both from this area; we'll find our way around. We'll see you later Lyra.” Octavia dipped her head, followed shortly by Vinyl who gave her own farewell before the new couple headed further into the city to try and salvage the rest of their day.

Lyra gave a slight shake of her head before heading on her own way as well; at least Octavia had a pony who knew of her family and didn't care, Lyra was still trying to find out if Carrot Top would care or not. With this latest issue behind the two mares, it seemed as though the new couple was going to last for a long time indeed.

Vinyl was rather nervous as they walked away from the mint-green unicorn about the rest of their stay; she had hoped deep down that there would have been some way for Octavia and her parents to make up but to hear that Manehatten nobles were known for their stubbornness was disheartening.

Octavia tried to keep up a brave front (she knew her parents and expected their reaction) but Vinyl knew how hard it was on anypony who had and actually cared for parents that suddenly losing them was hard; the white mare just wasn't sure how to help.

Since the couple had arrived rather early, neither one had breakfast making it their next stop. Manehatten, being the diverse city that it was, had a wide range of places to eat. The two settled for a decent breakfast at a cafe which wasn't too crowded since it was still early in the day; the face off with Octavia's parents didn't actually take too long.

The couple sat at a table facing the window, allowing them to pony watch as they ate. After coming up empty hoofed for ideas of what to do next the two mares decided that it was a nice morning for a walk; both knew the area and it was nice to share memories with one another. Sure, neither had pleasant memories of the area, between an abusive mother and over-bearing parents, but sharing it with their other half made it easier and less painful.

Vinyl could sense when it was getting to be a bit much to relive memories and suggested watching a movie or two after a half hour of walking around. Octavia hadn't known there where theaters in the area and they found a cheap one that had a double showing; 'Invasion of the Spaceponies' followed by 'The Day Equestria Stood Still'. Action films were just what the doctor ordered, taking both mares' minds off their morning and putting them into a better mood.

Watching movies in a dark theater with the mare of their heart was a challenge; while the last time they had watched movies together there was tension, it was doubly so this time. Action films didn't have all that much quiet time, but the two mares still had to constantly remind themselves to watch the film and not the mare next to them.

By the time the double feature ended, it was a little past 1pm and both felt the beginning pangs of hunger once more. The two mares got a rather nice lunch before heading for the train once more; they had very little else to do in the city and wanted to go back to their dorm room after the events of the day.

As the pair settled down in another private compartment, Vinyl suddenly remembered a question she had meant to ask the gray mare. Vinyl stood back and watched as Octavia settled onto one of the beds, unsure if constant cuddling would be bothersome.

After a moment during which Vinyl made no move to join the light-gray mare, Octavia looked at the unicorn with concern before noticing how nervous she was. At the sight of a soft smile and a pat on the space next to the gray mare, Vinyl relaxed a little and settled down right next to her marefriend.

As Octavia nuzzled the underside of Vinyl's chin, the white mare tried to remain clear headed enough to pose her question.

“Tavi? Now, not that I'm doubting why you like me, but I was wondering... When did you start to like me so much?” Octavia pulled away enough to look the unicorn in the face with a half-smile.

“I'll tell you but you have to take off your glasses and promise to not wear them in our room.” White ears flipped back as a blush spread across Vinyl's muzzle at the sight of emotion filled lavender eyes.

With a small sigh and slumping of shoulders, the unicorn levitated the purple sunglasses off and onto the other bed as she agreed to the new rule. Octavia smiled in triumph before settling back down against the other mare; Octavia didn't even have to think about when her feelings began, she had thought about it a while when she was trying to confess to the young DJ.

“I started to love you when you came to the auditions. I could tell you were nervous and didn't enjoy the idea of A Cappella, but you came anyways. If that wasn't enough, the next day I knew for sure that I was falling in love; remember how you cut yourself off when Claire wouldn't listen the first day? I saw how you were going to try and it felt like it was for me, not the group.” Vinyl's blush grew further as she nuzzled back.

“When did you know...? Oh come on, like you didn't know I would ask in return.” Oct smirked at the unicorn who had buried her face in Octavia's neck at the question. The white mare shifted so that the gray one would be able to hear without leaving her rather comfortable place.

“When you first sang in our room. You were so passionate about singing and everything, and you kept hoping against hope that it would turn out alright. And you were right, joining A Cappella and stopping myself that first day was entirely for you; you felt so strongly for the team that I wanted to help them get far... Though I guess I can't do that anymore...” Vinyl rested her head on Octavia's back as the full implications of having quit dawned on her.

It was the gray mare's turn to wear a blush as she too thought about what would happen next for the team.

“... You could... Try and come back. I know, Claire may put up a fuss; but we need everyone we can and I don't think anyone is willing to stick to the same thing anymore. Please, consider it at least...” Octavia rested her head on Vinyl's fore-hooves that were laid out in front of both of them; the white mare moved her head from the light-gray mare's back to her neck and head.

“Alright, Tav'; I'll think about it but I'm not sure what good it would do...”

After such a deep and blush inducing conversation, the two mares stuck to light conversations and cuddles. Neither one was sure they would ever get enough of cuddling and snuggles as well as light kisses and caresses that were now available to them.

Once the two roommates got back to the campus, the light-gray mare was a blur of activity as she went in search of her college account and possible scholarships as well as possible job locations. Vinyl, on the other hoof, went in to work at '33 & 1/3' where Neon Lights was waiting for her.

“Hey Neon, what's up?” Vinyl went to work as the dark-coated unicorn hovered nearby.

“Have you been advertising the radio station?”

“Huh? No, why?” Vinyl paused in her reach for discs to put away and looked at her boss.

“'Cause we got a heck lot more popular recently; more ponies have been making requests and submitting stuff, though your work remains one of the most requested.” Vinyl tilted her head in thought before shrugging and continuing her work.

“Interesting. At least we got more listeners, that's the main thing.” Neon raised a brow at the nonchalant attitude and crossed his fore-hooves as he leaned on a shelf.

“Alright, what's eating you this time? Have you not made up with that friend of yours yet? 'Cause the longer you wait the worse it will be.” Vinyl jerked up in surprise and stared at the other unicorn.

“What? No! No, I've made up with her... Actually, we're dating now.” At this the white unicorn's face broke into a goofy grin.


“... But she wants me to try and rejoin the A Cappella group to help with finals that they now have the chance to go to.”

“Huh, so that's what you've been doing this past year... Well, why not try and rejoin? It has to do with what happened at the start of the holidays doesn't it?” At Vinyl's embarrassed nod Neon continued.

“Then you may have a chance still. If not, at least you can say you tried.” Neon gave a shrug before going to all fours once more and working on the radio station while the white unicorn pondered the statement as she went back to work as well.

Vinyl would continue to stew on the advice of trying or not all the way up to the first practice of the new semester. Octavia had left and it felt odd not doing the same, so Vinyl spent twenty minutes lying in bed before sitting up with a groan.

(I'll go try and that way Tavi can't say anything about it. Worse that can happen is that I make a bigger fool of myself and get laughed at.... Though I'd understand, especially if they don't like my eyes and the constant fights I get into... Best go now before I really start to think about it and convince myself that I shouldn't bother.)

During this time the white mare had been heading towards where the Equestrian Girls held their practice and soon noticed a loud commotion.

(What's that sound? Fighting? It's coming from... The practice room... Wait. Was that Tavi?!? That's it, no time to waste, something's wrong!)

Vinyl went from a steady trot to dead run at the sound of Octavia yelling. The unicorn burst through the door only to come to a complete stop at the sight before her.

Octavia and Claire were literally standing head to head in confrontation with Windy Day trying to stop them by pulling on Claire with her fore-hooves and pushing at Octavia with her hind-legs; in another corner of the room Blossomforth and Cloud Kicker were having their own face off while Arpeggio and Beautiful Composition added their own two bits into both fights; and poor Lyra and Pinkie Pie were in the middle, unsure of how to get everyone to stop fighting and rather flustered.

Everyone paused when they heard the bang of the door opening and Vinyl's shout of surprise, turning to look at the DJ who had taken a few steps inside as she called out to the rest of the team.

“What the buck is going on?!” As everyone froze at this shout, the white unicorn took a few more steps inside to bring her closer to her marefriend.

At the sound and sight of the white unicorn, Octavia took a few steps back from her fight with Claire while the cream earth pony straightened up only to glare at the DJ.

“This is an Equestrian Girls practice, members only.” Vinyl flinched slightly but continued to walk forward, noticing that the middle of the room had a large puddle of puke.

“I know and that's why I'm here... I didn't think of anyone else when I did what I did at the semi-finals, and I shouldn't have left... I let everyone down and I'm sorry. Claire, if it's alright with you, I would like to come back.” Vinyl stopped a few feet away as Claire merely glared back while the rest of the team looked between the two mares in surprise and hope; something that slowly faded away to shock and annoyance at the continued silence from their leader.

“... I see. Again, I am sorry.” Vinyl apologized once more before turning around and leaving slowly; the white mare tried to not show how much she was upset, having only just realized how much she had hoped to rejoin the team. As Vinyl made her slow way to the door as the very image of a sad pony, she didn't notice the growing anger on Octavia's face nor the sad pleading looks the others gave to Claire.

The white unicorn was almost to the door when she heard the sudden call.

“W-Wait!” Claire took a half-step towards the retreating mare who immediately stopped heading towards the door.

“Thanks; that would have been really embarrassing...” Vinyl's ears flipped back upright as she turned around and stood close to Octavia as she looked at the cream mare who stared back sadly.

“I know I've been hard on you, Vinyl; I know I've been hard on all of you. But my father always said, 'if at first you don't succeed, get the hell out.'” With a depressed air Claire sat on the ground as she tried to hold back tears.

The others weren't sure what to make of this new development and look at one another in shock.

“Huh, I guess that would explain some things. I didn't know... Actually, I don't know a lot about... most of you.” Vinyl realized as she looked to the others who also realized that for a team that were going all the way to finals, they knew very little about each other.

“Well, I have something you may not know.” Cloud Kicker raised a hoof causing the others to look inquiringly at her.

“I have a lot of sex.”

“Yes, we know Cloud.” Blossomforth huffed as she rolled her eyes in aggravation at the persian-blue pegasus.

“Wait, hang on. That's actually a pretty good idea.” Vinyl held up a hoof before they could start fighting again and beckoned for everyone to have a seat away from the massive amount of puke.

“That was a bad example, but a good idea. Why don't we go around and say a little bit about ourselves?” Vinyl raised a questioning brow at Claire who nodded agreement as she joined the growing circle.

“I'll... I'll go first.” Lyra hesitantly held up a hoof as everyone focused on the mint-green mare.

“I like mares, so I've been disinherited from my family who are... a bunch of nobles. I was going to tell my marefriend Carrot Top about this but since I had been hiding this fact, she no longer trusts me and has broken up with me...” Lyra frowned sadly at the ground as the others were rather surprised at this confession aside from Octavia, Beautiful Composition and Vinyl who had guessed while the first two knew before hoof.

The rest of the circle shifted in spot as they looked to one another to see if anyone would go next or if they were going in order of seating. Windy Day raised a hoof from her place next to Lyra as she braced herself for the confession.

“My family is part of an old Cult that enjoyed and worshiped the Spirit of Chaos. I try to rectify that by doing all that I can to prevent his return.” The others shared mystified looks aside from Vinyl who suddenly grew concerned about Discordians and a possible comeback of the Chaos Spirit. Octavia noticed this as the white mare had leaned protectively next to her and made a mental note to ask Vinyl about what the sky-blue pegasus had said.

The next pony to go was Pinkie Pie who was excited to go; until she realized that unless it was a secret that she had Pinkie Promised not to tell, it was more than likely she already told somepony something and that it would therefore not count in the confession standards.

“Oh oh, my turn, my turn! There's aaaa... Hhmmm.... What about....? No no, already told that one..... How about? No, there was that one pony who knows.... OH! I got it! My full name is Pinkamena Diane Pie! How's that? Does that count?” As the others stared in confusion at how the pink mare could be so honest with everyone around her that saying her whole name could be considered a confession, the white unicorn could only smile in amusement.

“Sure Pinkie, that works. Do you want us to call you that instead?” At this question Pinkie rapidly shook her head no.

“Oh no no no no no. I only hear my full name when I'm in trouble, it would be too confusing wousing to be called that huge long name if I'm not in trouble and I sure hope to not be in trouble because then you don't get to have fun when you're grounded... You can still call me Pinkie Pie! Or Pinkie, or PP or Pinks, or Pinkie-winky or...” The hyper mare trailed off at the sight of Vinyl waving to get her attention.

“Yes, I think we get it Pinkie. Thanks for sharing; anypony else?” Vinyl looked at the next mare in line before looking at everyone else; inviting them to go in any order they wanted.

Blossomforth drew in in a deep breath before looking at the ground as she stated her confession clearly.

“I have a crush on Cloud Kicker. That's why we have been fighting recently, I got tired of watching her take somepony else to bed and never giving me a second look.” Blossomforth couldn't look at Cloud Kicker who was seated on her other side while the pale-gray mare had Pinkie on her other.

Cloud Kicker looked at the others before flipping her ears forward as she looked to Vinyl.

“Can I go again?” As Vinyl gave a shrug of indifference the others nodded allowance.

“While I may have a lot of sex... I don't have too many platonic friends. It's why I've never gone after you, Blossomforth; I didn't want to lose my one actual normal friend. I'm sorry that we fought... Can we try again?” Cloud Kicker looked to the pale-gray pegasus who seemed both sad and hopeful as she looked at the ground, though she nodded all the same.

Once Blossomforht agreed to trying to be friends and maybe even more, Cloud Kicker looked much happier and relieved while the resolution of one argument brought smiles to the others in the circle.

“I'll go next I suppose.” Arpeggio brought attention to her as she gave a small wave.

“This is my first and only year of college; until further notice at least. My grandmother has always been fragile and lately she's taken a turn for the worse. At the end of this school year, I'll be moving back to Vanhoover to watch over her until she gets better; I don't have any other relatives, so it's up to me to take care of her like she did for me when I was little.” Arpeggio had a faraway look in her eyes as she stared at the wall in thought; the others expressed their concern and well wishes for the older mare.

As Arpeggio nodded her head in appreciation of the well-wishes of the others, Beautiful Composition cleared her throat.

“I suppose I could go next. My family had been nobles many generations ago but due to an event that is never spoken of, we were disgraced and lost our title. It's something that everyone in my family has to deal with should we try and do anything with the higher class, and something I have to deal with constantly since I aim to be a well-known composer.” Beautiful Composition looked at the others, daring them with her eyes to ask about what her family did before that caused their downfall.

By this time, everyone in the circle looked at the ground, trying to absorb all the new information about their team mates. Vinyl noticed that it was her turn to speak and took a moment to gather her courage.

“I suppose it's my turn.... I grew up in an orphanage and nopony liked me because of my eyes. This would be my first time to ever have friends.” At this confession, everyone looked at the white mare in surprise and concern; most of her actions and problems making a lot more sense to them in light of this new information.

“It's rather nice.” Vinyl gave a tense smile as she tried not to look at anyone pony; Octavia leaned into her for moral support. “So that's me, somepony else go next please.”

Octavia looked at the young DJ and took a deep breath before sitting up straighter.

“Over the holiday break, I had my nodes removed.” The others gasped in shock at this news as Claire grabbed the gray mare's hoof while giving a sympathetic look at such a huge event.

“I thought the season was over, otherwise I would have waited until it was all over. If it weren't for Vinyl and I getting together, I don't think I would be taking the news half as well.” Octavia used her free hoof to grab Vinyl's as they shared a smile.

“Oh, and I guess that's something too; Tavi and I are dating now.” Vinyl said proudly as she grinned at everyone who gave their congratulations to the new couple.

Octavia smiled as well before allowing it to drop slightly as she felt the need to add to her speech; Vinyl noticed and leaned into the gray mare as she guessed at what she may be adding to her confession.

“There is one more thing. Due to family matters, namely being disinherited, I have changed my last name; I am now Octavia Melody, a common musician.” Most didn't understand what she was talking about, but those who knew anything about nobles knew who her family was and what the light-gray mare meant and were glad that she had some kind of resolution.

“Vinyl.” At Claire's soft call, the young DJ snapped her head to face the cream earth pony.

“What do we do?” Vinyl was surprised; Claire was not only asking for her advice but looking to her for direction.

“... We'll re-mix this business. But, ah, not here.” Vinyl waved to the puddle of puke when the others looked confused as to why they had to go somewhere else to change up their practice.

Once she had everyone's nod of agreement, Vinyl led the way out of the building and down to the empty pool where they had the Riff Off. She knew that they needed someplace with good acoustics that wouldn't have too many others around so they could practice in peace. Hopefully they would be able to get the room cleaned soon, but until then they would have to practice outside.

After they were all gathered in the empty pool, Vinyl faced the others and looked at Claire to see how she wanted to take this.

“Claire, would you pick a song please?” Claire nodded excitedly and thought only for a moment before responding.

“Bruno Mars, just the way you are.” Vinyl raised a brow at the selection but reminded herself that the mare did know some pop songs, even if she had venomously ignored it as a choice for their selection.

“Ok, sure. Tav', can you lead?” Vinyl tried to think rapidly of what would work the best with the selected song and tried to go with the strong singers as leaders. Luckily the group had a good foundation for listening to each other and doing some improvising; something they proved during the Riff Off, making Vinyl's task a lot easier.

Octavia squared her shoulders as she nodded firmly; she wasn't going to let her marefriend or any of the others down! Vinyl nodded back as she started to count in her mind and bobbing her head before waving her hoof to the tempo of the song.

The white mare started the sound with simple sounds to show the range and tempo, going at a steady pace as the rest of the team concentrated.

Do, doo do, do, dooo do, do doo do..

Slowly the others caught on and once a decent background was set up, Vinyl pointed to Octavia to start.

her eyees, her eyees
make the stars look they're not shining.
her haair, her haair,
falls so perfectly without her tryin'.
she's so beautifuul,
and I tell her everyyy daaayy...

Octavia was already enjoying the song and planned on performing it at a later time for the white unicorn; it just fit so well. The gray earth pony felt a tingle of thrill run up her spine as she heard Vinyl start to sing in between the light-gray mare's lyrics much like at the semi-finals.

(Uh uh- I was thinking 'bout her, thinkin' 'bout me,)
I know, I know
(Thinkin' 'bout us, what we gon' be)
when I compliment her she won't believe me
(Open my eyes, it was only just a dreaaamm)
it's so, it's so, sad to think that she don't see what I see
But every time she asks me do I look ok,
(It was only just a dreaaammm)
I sayyy...

At this point Vinyl grinned and gave a subtle hoof point to Claire who grinned back, excited at this new style of singing. While Octavia continued to sing the original song, Claire put passion back into her voice as she followed the white mare before leading the way as she got the feel of this new style of A Cappella.

When I see your faaaccceee
(So I traveled back, down that road)
(Will she come back, no one knows)
Not a thing that I would changge
(I realized, it was only just a dreaaammm)
because you're amazing,
just the way you aaare
(it was only just a dreaaammm)

By this time the team couldn't stop moving and grooving to the beat, stomping their hooves in time and bopping in place.

When I see your faaaccee
(So I traveled back, down that road)
(Will she come back, no one knows)
Not a thing I would changge
(I realized, it was only just a dreaaammm)
Because you're amazing,
just the way you are
(it was only just a dreaaammm)

Vinyl gave a sign for the girls to wrap it up and they ended with one last line, in harmony with the last word.

When I see your face


The girls all wore smiles at how well they sang after all the trouble and there was a moment of silence before Claire's grin grew even more as she glanced at the others.

“Hooves in!” As one they all stuck their fore-hooves into a circle, Claire led the count.

“1... 2... 3..”

“Aaaaahhh!” As one the mares sang the note in harmony, though a deeper than usual song rang out as well; they shared happy smiles though at the sound of Octavia's new vocal range they paused in thought.

“That was some pretty low sounds Octavia.” Lyra pointed out as the others all looked to the light-gray mare with raised brows.

“So?” Vinyl raised a challenging brow to the mint-green unicorn who waved a reassuring hoof back, unwilling to try to pick a fight with the defensive marefriend.

“So, she can hit the lower notes and make the arrangement better!” Lyra said as the others started to get excited once more.

Octavia smiled back as Windy Day raised a hoof to grab their attention.

“I know something that may help.” Windy Day smiled to the others who all reared back slightly at the sound of her voice ringing clear.

“Wooah, no need to shout!” Cloud Kicker waved a hoof to the sky-blue pegasus who smiled sheepishly back, causing everyone to laugh.

Vinyl put a hoof around Octavia's shoulder as the two mares followed the normally very quiet pegasus out of the pool as ideas flowed freely and everyone grew excited of what could be done for the finals with this new type of A Cappella. Pinkie Pie was the most excited as she hopped around the group saying ideas the entire time while the group went back to their practice room.

The young DJ couldn't stop smiling; it was as though nothing could go wrong. She had the mare of her dreams, she was back in with the Equestrian Girls, and her DJ work was getting noticed. She was finally putting the past behind her.

Upside Down

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What Windy Day wanted to share turned out to be techniques to calm oneself and allow the flow of positive energy and ideas; this turned out to be rather useful when it came to their practices, giving everypony a chance to relax and clear their minds before starting their work for the day.

They practiced by improvising and listening to various newer songs and finding ones that went well together. They taught each other new dance moves and each practice session was extremely pleasant to go to.

It was as though all the hardships the white unicorn had gone through were making up for themselves with such good ones. The one dark point on a bright new life was the new couple's first 'date'; though Vinyl was not willing to call that a date, more like their usual hanging out than an actual date.

In order to counter that, a few days after the start of the new semester Vinyl was planning a 'proper' date. It helped that the two mares had learned a lot about each other over the course of the year and so the white unicorn knew what kinds of things Octavia liked; her favorite foods, places to go, music and much more. It was just a matter of compiling all that knowledge and making the 'perfect date'.

The white mare made reservations for a cozy little restaurant that had an older age but average pony feel to it that served Octavia's favorite dishes; after the dinner Vinyl planned on going to a local theater where some of the Acting Majors were putting on a presentation of a classic tale commonly known as 'Rent'.

It was a musical but with an interesting story line and Octavia was sure to love it. The white unicorn also made extra plans just in case, like a late night stroll and a cafe that stayed open all night long; she was going to make sure nothing went wrong.

While going to a well scored musical was a sure-fire thing that the gray mare would enjoy, under normal circumstances it ran the risk of Octavia already playing for it as part of her club work. After their trip to Manehatten though, Octavia dropped the 'Swing Ponies' and her work in the stringed quartet; allowing for more time in the evenings for a part-time job and more time with her new marefriend.

It was actually due to Vinyl's help that Octavia was able to get a job at '33&1/3'. Due to its sudden popularity, Neon Lights was able to hire more ponies to work the store and have somepony at the station at all times. Vinyl heard about the openings right away and Octavia was the first to apply; with all her knowledge of all types of music and enthusiasm to work, Neon was glad to hire her as well as meet the mare that had captured a certain DJ's heart.

On the day of the big date, the two mares were in a small argument about a certain pair of glasses.

“Please Vinyl? You know I prefer to see your eyes; and everypony doesn't care as much as you think they do. If anyone does have an issue with them, I'll set them straight by any means necessary...” Vinyl blinked in surprise at the threatening tone that was rarely heard from the gray earth pony.

Vinyl watched with slight amusement but worry as Octavia muttered and glared at the ground; when the light-gray mare snapped back into the real world she gave a reassuring smile to the white mare who hesitantly smiled back.

“So, will you please leave the glass here?” Vinyl shook her head at the insistent mare.

“You sound as though if given the chance, you'd make it so I'd never see them again.” At the slightly suspicious smile and 'innocent' face on the light-gray mare, Vinyl deadpanned her marefriend.

“Really Tavi? Really, you'd go that far? Fine Tav', I'll leave them at home. But don't blame me if this ruins the date.” Vinyl raised a challenging brow as Octavia smiled in triumph.

After that it took the two mares very little time to be ready and they set out for the restaurant.

Their night started well, the sky clear and the air crisp. They made their reservations in time and the meal was perfect, along with the fact that no one seemed all that unnerved by Vinyl's cerise eyes; if they were, they were glared into shame by the light-gray mare.

Murphy's Law kicked in as the couple was leaving the cozy restaurant, for just as the two started to turn down the street there came a shout from behind them.

“Octavia! Lady Octavia Philharmonic!” Both mares stiffened at the sound of Sir Pony Moore calling for the gray mare's attention.

Two sets of ears flipped back as they silently debated answering or to keep going; this choice was soon taken from them as Lime Light and Niteshade cut them off on the other end of the street while Pony Moore trotted up to them from other side. As they turned to face the pale-blue earth pony, Vinyl made sure that she was in front of Octavia as she glared at the noble who flinched at the sight of her eyes, which seemed to turn a vivid red in anger.

“My Lady; surely the rumors I heard that you are dating a waste of space mare are false, of course.” Octavia rolled her eyes, assuming that this was a last ditch effort of making her see 'reason' by her parents.

“Of course they are.” Vinyl looked back for a moment in panic; when she saw Octavia wink at her the white mare faced the stallion once more, reassured that the gray mare was going in a different direction than how that statement sounded.

Pony Moore looked reassured at this statement from Octavia until she continued on, causing his smug look to fall rapidly into anger.

“I am dating the most wonderful and considerate of mares which means that Vinyl is not a waste of space, so of course those rumors are false.” Octavia shot Pony Moore a smug look from beside the white mare who smirked in triumph at the sight of the annoyed stallion before them.

“So... It is true, you are disgraced... Why Octavia, why? I could have given you everything; this, this orphan can never afford to give you the life-style you had before!” Pony Moore saw Vinyl flinch and smirked at her discomfort.

“Yes, after I heard who you had chosen I did some research on who she is; I know all about her now. Nopony has ever liked her; she must have put an evil spell on you to bring you together.” At this statement Octavia pushed Vinyl aside slightly as she glared daggers at the 'noble'.

“I have never heard such disgraceful garbage in my life! I don't care if the life-style is different than the one I've had so far; it will be one that I've worked for and will care for a thousand times over! And she has never, and I mean never, cast a harmful spell on me nor ever used physical force; something I cannot say the same for you!”

During the gray mare's retort, Pony Moore had been getting more and more aggravated; by the time Octavia had finished he was livid at how she was disagreeing with him and charged forward with a roar, his two lackeys following suit a moment after.

At the sudden movement Vinyl pushed forward once more as she activated her semi-transparent sound proof barrier; she smirked grimly at the frustrated faces of the stallions and noticed that Lime Light was powering up his magic at the order of Pony Moore.

Vinyl tsked as she focused half of her attention to creating bubbles full of magic which she then made vibrate rapidly. Once these bubbles were vibrating at such a rate that the entire thing could barely hold its circular shape, she sent them to rest next to the stallions and made them explode in a wave of high pitch sound; causing the offending stallions to flinch and try to cover their ears.

Octavia frowned slightly in confusion; she didn't understand what was happening since they were in the soundproof barrier and couldn't hear the high pitch sounds, though she was able to see some of the flashes of light caused by the sudden release.

Octavia leaned into the white unicorn as she watched apprehensively at the sight of the three stallions trying to cover their ears.

“Vinyl, what- what's happening?The shield is vibrating; it's never done that before...” One ear flicked back as Vinyl kept her eyes on her opponents; after another barrage, the white unicorn stopped her assault and raised a brow to the black unicorn, challenging him to try and use magic.

Lime Light saw the challenging brow and shook his head rapidly; he wasn't going to try again. The black stallion tried to back away only to be snapped at by Pony Moore. As the two argued, Vinyl turned her head to the mare beside her and gave her a quick nuzzle.

“I thought about how to deal with this pinhead ever since you said he rigged the competition; I knew he wasn't going to leave you alone but I couldn't get into another fight. Then I realized I had the best kind of defense; the same kind of shield I use to keep my headphones so focused and what I used to keep you out. The exploding spheres are balls of magic that I can make vibrate and explode into a blast of sound; making it hard to anyone to focus enough to attack back.

“Looks like they're getting their act together, let's see if I can make the shield not so sound proof and give them a chance to give up...” With a squeeze of her eyelids in concentration, Vinyl was able to remove the sound proofing aspect of her shield just in time for Pony Moore to try and rant some more.

“ may have bought yourself time but I will teach you a lesson you'll never forget! Do you hear me Scratch!? You'll be sorry you were ever born! When I get in-”

“You'll do nothing. If you haven't noticed, I had my shield up the entire time you were having fun with my sonic booms. I think I can out live anything you dish out. Oh and so long as Tavi is with me, I'll never regret being born again. Guard, you heard him correct?” Four ponies' attention shifted to the white pegasus that was flying nearby with a scroll in his hoof; during Pony Moore's rant the guard had flew by after being called due to the magical disturbances to be in time to find the pale-blue noble making threats against both mares in the protective bubble.

“That I did, Miss. Sir, are you Sir Pony Moore, noble of Manehatten?” Pony Moore glared at the guard as he gruffly replied.

“I am and who are you to speak with me in such a way?” The guard dropped down with four others who came as backup.

“I am Lieutenant Albus Rescue and I am putting you under arrest for violating the restraining order placed against you on behalf of Octavia Melody and Vinyl Scratch.” Two of the guards came forward and began to restrain the now thrashing noble.

“Preposterous! I have never heard of such a thing!” The Lieutenant rolled his eyes and pointed to the scroll where at the very bottom was Pony Moore's signature that showed that he had been informed and acknowledged the restraining order.

“This is a magical scroll that has connections to all other important legal documents to allow easy access to things like restraining orders or warrants. Boys, take him away; he is a pathetic excuse for upper class ponies everywhere. We'll have to take you two in as well.” The guard pointed towards Lime Light and Niteshade who gave small nods and followed along without resistance.

Only after Pony Moore was out of hearing range did Vinyl take her shield down, where the two mares found themselves face to face with the white pegasus.

“Misses, I'm sorry that we weren't able to come sooner; are you two alright?” The couple checked each other rapidly before relaxing in relief.

“We're fine; thank you for the help. Was there anything else we can help you with?” Octavia asked as she leaned into the white mare beside her, finding her steady heartbeat to be rather soothing.

The guardspony smiled rudely as he looked to the unicorn.

“Yes; you wouldn't happen to know about a loud disturbance of high frequency sounds do you? Seems some musical unicorn was making sonic blasts that disturbed the neighborhood...” The guard raised a questioning brow at the two mares who went still at the original cause for guards.

Octavia decided to go with whatever Vinyl wanted and gave her verbal cues as to where she stood.

“Why no, I didn't hear a thing. Did you Vinyl dear?” Octavia turned her wide innocent seeming eyes to the mare beside her who looked back in surprise before sighing in resignation; part of being with the light-gray mare meant she had to grow up and own up to her mistakes.

After giving Octavia a nudge on her shoulder with her head, Vinyl turned to the guard who watched with amusement.

“While we didn't hear anything due to my protective barrier, I did use magic to disrupt the unicorn, Lime Light, from attempting to find a way around or through the barrier to do us potential harm.” Vinyl stepped forward to receive her punishment from the guard wearily; while she didn't want to have to leave the light-gray mare, she did cause a disturbance in the area.

The guard smiled back warmly at the brave front the unicorn presented and waved a warning hoof.

“Considering the circumstances and how you didn't cause any damages, as well as this being the first time you've come to my notice, I'll merely give you a warning that I may just happen to forget once I leave. You mares enjoy your night and stay safe, alright?” Barely waiting for their nods of agreement the white pegasus took to the skies to file the report of what had happened.

As the crowds around them began to disperse, Vinyl turned to face the gray mare when she was suddenly the target of a tight hug.

“That was a really brave thing you did. I wasn't going to expect you to turn yourself in; you did nothing to warrant getting into trouble for, it was all self-defense. As much as I applaud you for your honesty, I don't want you to be arrested on my behalf.” Vinyl smirked and returned the embrace as she whispered her reply; she still wasn't used to public displays of affection.

“I don't want to have to lie to be with you; I probably would have gotten off anyways if I was arrested since it was in self-defense. And so long as you are with me and want me, I'll do anything that would help you.” The two held the hug for a little longer before stepping apart, though they remained next to one another.

“I know the date kind of went downhill, but would you like to watch a play to lighten the mood?” Octavia smiled warmly as she nuzzled her marefriend.

“That sounds like a good idea. What play did you have in mind?” Vinyl couldn't help but nuzzle back as she gently lead the gray earth pony along.

“There's a presentation of 'Rent' playing at the Four Horseshoes.” At the name of the play the gray mare perked up in excitement and smiled warmly.

“Yes, please!”

With that the two enjoyed the remainder of their evening and forgot about the violent noble entirely. Vinyl had gotten balcony seats in the theater that had been dug into the ground in order to have multiple stories without being taller than one story on the surface, which made watching and listening to the play easy.

The plot was an emotional one with twists and turns along the way that kept the audience on the edge the entire time; following a set of friends as they tried to deal with difficult and complex issues as well as somehow making a living in the rundown neighborhood.

By the time it was over, both mares had shed a few tears and stood along with the crowd in the thunderous applause.

After receiving many 'thank you' kisses for having gotten tickets to the play, Vinyl led the way out as Octavia gushed over both the play and the musical score.

“... And that end music was just so touching, the perfect balance between high and low instruments. Oh, thank you so much Vinyl, this has been a wonderful date.” Vinyl gave a gray cheek a quick peck as they walked to the general direction of their dorms.

“It was nothing at all. Would you like to do anything else or just head back?” Octavia leaned into the unicorn for extra warmth as a soft wind blew by.

“As much as I would like to do more, let's head back for some hot chocolate and cuddle together for warmth.” Vinyl smirked at the suggestion which did indeed sound pleasing and led a more direct route back to their room; it was only just turning into spring time and the nights still retained some chill to them.

As the two mares entered their room Vinyl started her spell to heat some water for two cups of hot chocolate and together the couple lied down in Octavia's bed with all the blankets wrapped around them.

The two mares shared Octavia's single bed, meaning they had to lay extremely close and Vinyl draped half of herself over the mare next to her; while neither minded the closeness, Vinyl was concerned about her weight hurting the gray mare and tried to think of a solution that would allow them to remain close but without potential for uncomfortableness or pain.

Octavia watched cerise orbs flicker around the room, resting on beds, desks and even the walls before stopping on lavender eyes filled with curiosity. Vinyl gave her marefriend a sheepish grin along with a nuzzle to the top of her head before explaining herself.

“As much as I like sleeping next to you, as well as being a pony-blanket, I don't want to hurt you by resting my weight on you.” Octavia gave a soft sigh along with an eye roll before kissing Vinyl's neck, causing her to stretch her head forward in pleasure; something the light-gray mare took note of for future use.

“Of course you worry about small things, Celestia forbid you relax.” Octavia teased the mare who panicked only for a fraction of a second before noticing the teasing glint in the gray mare's gaze.

“I'm pleased to see you are easing up about being teased.” Another kiss found its target as Vinyl smiled back; after enjoying the sight of the white unicorn pleased with neck kisses, the light-gray mare continued speaking.

“Aside from the fact that I rather like my white fuzzy blanket that snores dubstep-”

“Hey! Do not!”

“-if it's such a big concern for you, why don't you move the beds together? They are the same height and size, it would be like it's a double bed; though we may have to move some of the other furniture as well.” Octavia's gaze swept the room before resting on the white mare once more who stared back in mild surprise at how easy Octavia made it sound and seem.

After another moment during which she contemplated on how she could have gotten such a wonderful marefriend, Vinyl came back to reality in time to see Octavia's worried face and reassured her with a passionate kiss.

“I wasn't sure you would want to do that; I'll get to it right away!”

“Huh? Vinyl wait-” Octavia tried to prevent the mare from leaving the bed when Vinyl lit her horn with magic and began to levitate the various objects around the room.

Octavia face-hoofed at how she had forgotten that Vinyl could do magic once more (and after the incident earlier!) and watched as the two desks were pushed together on the other side of the room, Vinyl's bed levitated to be next to the one they were in and then both beds to be moved closer to the window now that the desks had been moved out of the way; all of which was done as the two remained in bed and not lifting a hoof to do anything.

Octavia turned to Vinyl bemused as the white mare centered them both before she settled down next to the light-gray mare instead of almost completely draped like she had been.

“Really Vinyl? And didn't you use- Vinyl are you ok?!” Octavia cut herself off from her teasing when she noticed the white unicorn's heavy breathing and exhaustion; Vinyl cracked any eyelid open at the sound of the light-gray mare's voice and gave a soft response.

“Yeah... Just, a little tired.... Even with all the- the practice, I used a lot... Of magic, tonight. I think I'll just-...” Vinyl's voice trailed off as she felt her eyelids close against her will; Octavia smiled as her DJ fell asleep in the middle of her explanation.

Even with the extra space afforded by the double beds, Octavia snuggled as close as possible and rested her head on the white mare's chest.

“Good night Vinyl; I love you so much, even with all your quirks.” As the gray mare fell asleep, the white one couldn't help but smirk in her sleep at the complement.


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The next morning found the white unicorn wearing a light-gray pony-blanket and began to wonder why she even bothered to move the furniture if one of them was still going to act as a blanket; not that Vinyl minded having Octavia draped across her chest with her head resting in the crook of her neck.

The white mare glanced at the clock and found that they were running late for practice; a fact that made Vinyl wish she could be like the wilder DJs and not care about appointments or getting up early. Octavia, on the other hoof, would most likely not appreciate being late and so this meant that Vinyl would have to ruin the cute scene she had woken up to.

“Tavi? Come on, Tav'; we have Equestrian Girls practice... Up and at 'em sleepy head.” As Octavia tried to remain asleep, she nuzzled closer to the white mare paralyzing her with pleasure at the feeling; almost all thoughts of getting up vanished from the DJ's mind.

“Did you say something Vinyl dear?” Octavia smugly asked while she kept her eyes closed, not having actually heard what had been said.

“Ahhh... Uh, something about... singing?” Vinyl tried to focus but her hooves showed where her mind was by wrapping themselves around a light-gray barrel.

Octavia smiled as the two pulled closer; though when the DJ's words slowly sunk in she found herself waking up much faster.

“Wait, what?” Octavia raised her head to try and look at the unicorn who was barely able to focus her gaze in return.

“Uhhhh, it's morning time... Good morning..” They shared a smile as Vinyl's eyes and mind slowly focused once more.

“Morning my love.” Octavia pecked a white muzzle as Vinyl nuzzled the gray mare in return..

“So uh, morning time.. singing practice.” Vinyl continued her train of thought slowly, though at the two simple words the couple woke up fully and quickly looked at the clock which showed that they were going to be late if they didn't get up right that moment.

The mares leapt apart and rushed through their morning routine, barely being only a few minutes late to practice.

After a few light heckling of the two lovebirds the ten mares dug right into work; they had a little over a month before the Finals, which would take place on April the 18th.

As the girls started to practice what they had decided for their performance, Pinkie Pie bounced over in one jump to land squarely in front of Vinyl who raised both brows at the sudden closeness.

“Why are you still wearing your glasses?!” Pinkie leaned forward as her eyes bulged out, causing the white mare to lean back slightly as she thought.

“Oh, Tavi and I were running late and it's habit. Besides, there's still ponies who don't like my eyes; I'd rather not wreck our chances with my eye color.” By the time Vinyl was able to think of a response, the others were paying attention as well; upon hearing the white unicorn dismiss herself they grew irate on her behalf with Octavia leading the way.

Before anyone else could make a comment Lyra stepped up and laid a hoof onto Vinyl's shoulder as she smiled to her.

“We like you for you and we've seen your eyes; they are a part of you and if they don't like it they can go on their merry way. I've seen others with very similar colors, it's not like you're the only one.” As Lyra spoke, Pinkie had backed up slightly to nod sagely with the mint-green unicorn's statement.

Vinyl looked around the room to find the others smiling reassuringly and nodding along when Claire stepped forward.

“The glasses are good for DJ Pon-3, but this is the time for Vinyl Scratch, A Cappella singer.” As Vinyl stared back slightly surprised at the cream earth pony, Claire smiled sheepishly back.

Octavia joined Vinyl's other side and removed the glasses carefully, freeing her eyes to look unhindered at the room. While the white mare half-expected flinches (the topic and emotions surrounding it caused her eyes to tinge slightly red) but found only growing smiles, bringing forth a timid one of her own.

After putting the glasses away carefully while thinking about DJ stage personas, the mares got down to business; though they were all amused by just how often the white unicorn's gaze stayed on a certain light-gray earth pony (something Vinyl wasn't aware of until she noticed Octavia's blush and the smirks the others wore). Vinyl had to remind herself constantly afterwards that others can now see what she was looking at; and while she didn't mind it, she had often taken to watch Octavia work passionately which meant that she had to actually focus on other things aside from her marefriend.

Since it was Saturday, the couple was able to return to their room after practice only to find that it was a mess since somepony had moved the furniture in the night. The two mares glanced at one another before getting to work straightening everything (with some extra cleaning on Vinyl's half).

They did some minor adjustments to the furniture but found that they liked being close to one another as they did anything in their room and only cleaned what had tipped over in the move, as well as general cleaning of wrappers and trash.

As the two mares settled down at their desks, Octavia felt the need to understand what exactly happened the night before and called to her marefriend.

“Vinyl, do you have a moment?”

“Of course Tav'; what's up?” Octavia noted with interest how cerise eyes focused completely on her before she had even called to the unicorn.

“Can we talk about last night? The magic you did; where did you learn to do that and why did you exhaust yourself? We could have moved everything around during the day... I was scared that it was much worse than exhausting yourself by using too much magic until you were barely able to explain.” White ears flipped back at the sight of the worried mare who stared at the ground with flattened ears; as Vinyl moved to give her mare a hug, Octavia looked up and saw the regret in the cerise eyes before submitting to the grip.

“I didn't mean to scare you Tavi; sorry.” As the two pulled apart they shared a smile and quick kiss to seal the apology.

“It's alright Vinyl. Can you explain though? I want to know in case you do something like it again.” Vinyl smirked at how the mare assumed she would do it again; which, upon reflection, Vinyl realized it was quite possible since she would do anything to help her marefriend.

The two mares settled next to one another in front of their desks as Vinyl stared at the wall in thought before starting her explanation.

“Alright, alright; I'll tell you... Guess I should start with how I can do magic like the barrier and sonic booms...

“Learning anything in the orphanage was hard to do; Hannigan made sure we knew basic stuff so she wouldn't get into trouble, but that was it. She's an earth pony, so aside from how she couldn't actually teach unicorns or pegasi, it would make it hard for her to control us if we could fight back or fly away. The older orphans taught what they could so the pegasi and unicorns wouldn't be completely unprepared for the world; but I never got any of that due to my eyes.

“I had to learn by doing and going with willpower; the first time I did the barrier was when I was younger and the others would beat me up to prove themselves stronger. In a fit of panic and some magic I made a bubble shield around me that prevented them from reaching me and soundproof so I couldn’t hear all the mean things they said.

“I experimented with it and found it works really well with headphones as well as irate roommates. The sonic booms came when I had made the barrier with me on the outside; I ended up filling it with magic by accident. In an attempt to move it I made it shake instead and it popped after a while, causing a loud bang and flash of light. While it wasn't all that powerful, in the orphanage it was noticeable and I got in trouble for it.” Vinyl's gaze was unfocused as she recalled the trouble her first few tricks had got her into.

Octavia pulled the white mare close for another hug; finding that any and all magic that the unicorn knew was self-taught and the reason why it was so was disheartening. The earth pony was starting to consider taking action against the place from the sounds of what little Vinyl was willing to talk about.

“It's ok Tavi; it's all behind me and can't hurt anymore. You still want to hear more about magic in general?” At the rapid nod Vinyl smirked before continuing with the less painful explanation.

“Unicorns can typically do magic that either relates or helps with their talent unless they either specialize in magic as a talent or work really hard to learn more. The magic store of a unicorn is like a muscle; the more you use it the stronger it can get, overuse it and it can exhaust you. I use it for little details, trying to do big things will tire you rapidly and vice versa; this is because you learn to use it in a certain way and overstretch when you do another way.

“Aside from the barriers and sonic booms, I use my magic in small ways or not at all; growing up in the orphanage where you don't use magic means we often did things the earth pony way.” Vinyl looked at her marefriend who's eyes gazed into nothing as she processed all this new information; the unicorn had described it well enough that Octavia was able to understand and see why Vinyl had become so tired the night before.

“I see...” Vinyl's smile faded as she saw the stern look in Octavia's eyes.


“You plan to go to any lengths for me aren't you?” Vinyl raised a brow but knew she couldn't dispute the fact.


“Even if you had to do a lot or really big magic?” Vinyl still couldn't quite understand where the gray mare was going with this so she stuck to simple answers.

“Probably?” A frown flashed across Octavia's face before settling into one of determination.

“Octavia?” Vinyl called worriedly to which the light-gray mare smiled reassuringly before standing up.

“If you insist on using magic no matter the reason or possible consequences then we shall get you in shape should you ever need it!” Vinyl could only stare in shock as Octavia thought of plans out-loud as she paced their room.

“We'll need to get you books that can teach you about magic and yours in specific... We'll need to make sure you exercise and use your magic often... Yes, this can work; I'll make it work. I'm off to the library!” As Octavia exited their room with a fire in her eyes, Vinyl realized the earth pony was serious and chased after her.

“Tavi, wait! You're seriously going to try and make my magic stronger so that if I ever overuse it again I wouldn't be so exhausted!? Oh, sure, that makes some sense but come on! I mean...” As the white mare kept up a steady stream of counter points (all of which were studiously ignored by the light-gray mare) Octavia went to the campus library and made Vinyl hold all the books they would need with her magic.

The library was rather large, having eight floors of books underground with each floor filled with various topics and subjects. The floor had light brown carpet to muffle noises and hoof-stools to help ponies reach the higher shelves. The only thing about the library was that it was in the center of the campus in order to be accessible for all, meaning that it was a decent trot to and from the building back to the music dorms.

After being 'forced' to carry ten different books on the subject Vinyl gave in and accepted that it was a good idea to learn more about magic as well as get stronger with hers; even if it was all based on her going overboard in an attempt to help the earth pony so therefore she should be prepared just in case.

As the couple settled down to learn more about magic back in their room, Octavia pointed out one last fact she had thought of when thinking of the DJ's habit of going overboard.

“Oh, and one last thing Vinyl; as much as I liked our date last night, it doesn't have to be perfect to be enjoyable.” Vinyl blushed as she stacked the books away onto her desk, thinking of how the date was almost ruined midway by a certain annoying noble. Octavia gave the mare a comforting nuzzle as she continued.

“I noticed how much you put into the date but even if we just 'hung out' I'd still enjoy it.” Vinyl gave a dramatic sigh followed by a teasing smirk.

“If you say so; though I do like a new type of activity available to us as a couple when we're alone...” Vinyl's smirk grew as she leaned towards the other mare who smiled back as a heated glint came into her eyes at the idea of what else they could be doing with a day off. The two leaned closer, and Vinyl could practically feel the other's lips on hers; excitement coursed through the unicorn as she thought of how she would reassure the light-gray mare with kisses.

Just as Vinyl was about to enjoy the next ten minutes with one of her new favorite activities, she was stopped by Magic 101, a book to learning the basics of magic. Vinyl glanced between the book and teasing lavender eyes.

“Ah, but we mustn't forget a new thing that could be done with quiet time.” Octavia barely held back her laughter as Vinyl pouted at the lost one activity for a less exciting one.

Using teasing, firm tones and even a few kisses to a sensitive neck (along with a promise of more kisses later), Octavia was able to convince Vinyl to start learning more about magic; in an effort to show that she wouldn't just be sitting around on their day off, Octavia did school work as well, sitting rather close to the white mare at their desks.

The month leading up to the finals were filled with different kinds of work; between work at the station, A Cappella practice, learning more about magic and it's corresponding practice, and actual school work, there was only so much time for dates that were now being done without as much planning as the first one but were enjoyable none the less.

Knowing that Octavia wasn't expecting anything fancy and rather enjoyed the simple things made dates much less stressful for the unicorn; both mares made sure they had time for one another as well as normal date-like things, like eating out and watching movies together.

The A Cappella Finals were going to be held at Canterlot, which was a five hour trip from E.U.C.C.. The Equestrian Girls were going to be leaving early in the morning for the performance that evening and depending on the results, may or may not stay the night in the posh city.

After sitting in one compartment for five hours, the team relished the chance to walk around the mountain city; taking in its multistory buildings, large bridges and artistic touches in both buildings and displays strewn about the area. While they didn't take one particular path or another, they received comments from the nobles (or ex-nobles) in their midst, giving the walk a tour-like feel.

They settled for a not so simple lunch at a cafe that only served the best with the fanciest names a pony could think of and rather small serving sizes (Pinkie insisted on the claim that she would have to eat forty-two of them for it to equal one whole piece). After their 'meal' the team decided that it would be better to head to the competition location.

Even the location of where they would be performing at was a grandiose affair with pillars along the front and a domed roof. The theater was three stories high with a small lobby that was practically meant only for ponies to drop off any coats before heading into the auditorium, which had a private box for any judges and side balconies; one of which was royalty only.

After getting checked in, the team went into the back where they found a much larger place for the actors and performers to wait; complete with multiple dressing rooms big enough for ten at a time; which was useful for the Equestrian Girls as they wanted to go for a different 'look' than the last time they performed.

Not only were they going to wear their scarves where they wanted, they also wore a few personal pieces to help feel more comfortable.

Claire still wore her scarf around her neck with her mane in a bun, much like when they first performed. Windy Day wore a dark-red tank-top with her scarf on her left hoof while Lyra wore the scarf along with others of similar colors on her neck. Aside from Claire and Lyra, the others wore their scarves on one of their fore-hooves in a much less restricted fashion.

Arpeggio and Cloud Kicker wore the white blouses, but open and tied together at the bottom as though it is an over coat.

Beautiful Composition and Blossomforth wore short-sleeved dark-blue over coats that were allowed to hang open, while Octavia and Vinyl wore their pendants predominantly; Octavia was rather pleased when Vinyl had left her glasses back in their room for the day and hoped it was another step in making her a confident DJ.

Pinkie Pie was the hardest to convince on how to dress, having pulled some kind of clown-like costume from somewhere that she had to be talked out of; she then went for the scarf around her hoof instead, claiming she would make up for it in dance.

The Equestrian Girls lined up behind the other teams as the performance was just about to start; the girls were last in line just behind the Treblemakers who were the favorite to win; who were also more than willing to boast about this fact. Vinyl noticed how this did not help the other's spirits and was about to try to cheer them up when she saw that two of their members where literally hopping in place.

Pinkie Pie was understandable for this since she seemed to only move in a hyper way and singing and bringing fun to others most likely was making her extremely excited; the unusaul part was to see Lyra also hopping with a mad grin on her face as she looked around the backstage.

“Lyra, why are you hopping like that?” At Vinyl's question the other mares also looked to the mint-green unicorn who paused in her frantic search of the area.

“Well, Pinkie said that 'humans' like watching big events and celebrations; so I'm trying to spot them. Are they around Pinkie? I can't see them!” Lyra resumed her hopping as she questioned the pink mare who nodded sagely before waving to the readers.

“Yep! They LOVE watching big parties and fun stuff! They're really excited for this chapter and they hope we win!” At this the whole team (aside from the now almost frantic mint-green mare) deadpanned the baker, unsure if this was worthy of a response or just plain ol' medical help.

While the two mares' actions did distract the team from their nerves, it didn't banish it completely and Vinyl tried a different tactic to rally the others.

“Alright you guys, we've made lots of progress and we're a new kind of Equestrian Girls; let's show them that.” Vinyl's grin was shared by the rest of the team as they psyched themselves up when Pinkie bounced forward and offered her own encouragement.

“Oh oh, I wanna say something dramatic too! I think this is the funnest group of singers and that we're going to show how fun A Cappella singing can really be!” Pinkie wore a huge smile as the others chuckled along and agreed; they were going to show the audience a performance that would wow them.

“We're on; let's show them how to rock!” Vinyl led the way onto the stage as the audience reeled in surprise at the new look of the Equestrian Girls; the team could practically feel the anticipation from the crowd as they listened for Vinyl's signal with the pitch pipe.

The white mare knew how much this meant to the team and focused completely on the set they were about to do; no zoning out or deep thoughts about a certain light-gray flank allowed. Not like the set they had prepared was going to be boring anyways.

“One... Two... Three.” At once the group started to sing slowly, providing background as Claire sang alone.

Seems like everypone's got a price,
I wonder how they sleep at night...

The team were standing on their hind-legs as they lifted one then both fore-hooves as they 'counted' as Claire sang, moving along with the words in their motions before joining in with the very last word before Octavia took over; still going slowly but with passion as they all moved as one, looking in one direction then the other along with the song.

Everypony look to the left, everypony look to the right...

They trailed off into a moment of silence, seeming to be slow and mediocre when Windy Day spoke alone in a firm voice; exploding their performance into lights and upbeat tempos.

“It ain't never about the money!”

As the stage lights flashed in brilliant colors to go with the sudden faster tempo and pacing, the girls all sang together with Lyra slowly but surely leading the way; finally being able to be free of her noble upbringing to sing what was practically a rap song.

It's not about the money money money,
We don't need your money money money...

The girls moved with sass, swaying their hips and waving a fore-hoof as though they meant every word and removed their own price tags. Moving in sync and singing with great passion, they shifted gears into a medium pace as Vinyl slowly gained the audience's attention by singing 'Hey hey hey hey' as the girls were trailing off with 'price tags'.

Won't you, come see about me?...

From the past experience with singing, Vinyl knew that the song may well have turned into a duet with Octavia; so instead they planned for this and as the girls (Octavia included) provided backup and synchronized extras, Vinyl made it seem as though she was talking about and to Octavia, who 'ignored' her for the most part. The white mare held a hoof out to the gray mare only to have her turn abruptly and walk to the other side of the stage; Vinyl following after and trying to get Octavia to look her in the face in an over dramatic fashion.

The girls slowly crescendo into the high point of the solo as Octavia smiled back to the white unicorn who raised a triumphant hoof into the air once their eyes met.

I said la, shhla la la laaa
la la la laaa
la la laa la laa la ...

The two danced towards the center as the others burst into individual dance as well before gathered towards the center of the stage. In a sudden shift of songs, one that brought many of the 'tight/strict' looking team members to loosen their look by either loosening scarves or manes, the girls stood close together as they pointed to the sky with their right fore-hooves.

I will love love you tonight!

With Octavia's new lower range of sound providing the bass, they sang making it seem both as a fast-paced and a slow one; they shifted the direction of their hooves with each pitch change Octavia did as they sang together, stressing it all the more and bringing the lower sounds to the forefront.

As they sang, the tight grouping slowly spaced themselves apart, making the next sudden change of songs more dramatic as they at first did the same movements but then shifted into three sections; right, center and left. The center moved with sass once more as the right and left sides moved in time with the beat-boxing.

Forget what they say,
All my cares they play.
I want you tonight...

Lyra stepped forward once more to lead the song with Pinkie Pie leaping into position behind her to add emphasis with her usual flair. The group condensed once more as the mint-green mare led the way, shifting from the far left of the stage to the right as they sang.

Take advantage of the night,
(what's up?)
'cause tomorrow I'm off to do battle...

The girls moved completely in sync once more as they mimicked pointing out special someponies and enticing them nearer before they followed Lyra who started going back to the left side with the rest of the team close behind her, bringing the group into position for another shift in song. Upon reaching the center, the team split up leaving three ponies blocking Pinkie Pie from view as the others formed a loose circle around them. As the hyper mare started her solo, the three others (Arpeggio, Beautiful Composition and Blossomforth) ducked down slightly while Pinkie stood on her hind-legs; the pink mare emphasized her every movement as she sang.

Excuse me! But I might drink a little more than
I should tonight!...

As Pinkie sang her solo, the others acted as they were getting drinks before calling over two others to 'drink' with as well as ponder the mysteries of drinks. The pink mare hopped from one side to the other only to cartwheel back as she accented certain parts of her solo with spins, over dramatic acting of taking drinks and spewing them out as well as hoof-pumping when describing how great it was going to be.

Once Pinkie finished, the girls gathered into the center of the stage once more as they all sang 'na' together repeatedly, speeding up their song for another crescendo of lights and sound. They all bounced slightly in place in time with one another before reaching the crescendo when they practically did push-ups in a circle motion before standing upright while bending their backs side to side as well as forwards and backwards together as Vinyl led the song once more.

Hooves uh-uh-uh-up
I put my hooves uh-uh-uh-up!

Don't you, forget about me!

As Vinyl held her last note with 'me', the others sang another snippet of a song that went well with the first and as they all landed on the last note aligning with Vinyl's; they made a hockey-stick shape with their bodies, going from laying on the ground to the mares on the far right pointing up to the sky as they stood to complete the shape. After holding their harmony for several beats, the mares exploded apart lining up along the rim of the stage and hop-danced in place.

I will love love you tonight...

As they came to the last line of their performance, they gathered one last time, acting out their 'hooves in' routine as part of their song. As they sang the very last word, they all faced the crowd excitedly.

'Cause you know, we might not get tomorrow,
let's do it tonight!

As the Equestrian Girls bowed to thunderous applause and standing ovation, they shared gleeful smiles; they weren't use to this kind of attention and appreciation, but they were sure going to enjoy and earn more. Vinyl in particular felt such joy at what they were able to do together that she turned to Octavia who was next to her and kissed her passionately in front of the whole crowd; earning even more applause for the couple.

“See? Singing A Cappella wasn't so bad; was it?” Octavia teased the white mare who now sported a blush at how her passions had taken her once they had parted though she smiled warmly back all the same.

“Yeah, I guess so.” Vinyl replied with an over dramatic eye roll in a teasing manner as the two mares led the others off the stage; by this point the whole team was laughing in excitement of their performance and amusement at the couple.

The Equestrian Girls sat in seats especially saved for the competitors in the auditorium as the judges made their final decisions before sending a pony to announce the winners.

A golden maned light-gray unicorn stallion with a microphone cutie mark stepped up onto the stage with the final decision. Once everypony was quiet, he opened the envelope in a dramatic fashion and began his announcement.

“Before we get to the top three teams, let's give everyone a hoof for making it this far!” After the polite applause for all the teams he continued to read the final decisions.

“In third place, The Flying Fancies!” A team of both stallion and mare pegasi went up to the stage to collect their trophy and stepped off with a bow to applause. The Equestrian Girls found themselves sitting on the edge of their seats in anticipation.

“In second place.... The Treblemakers!” The stallion only group seemed surprised at receiving second place but graciously went up to get their trophy and accepted the applause given. By this point the other E.U.C.C. team was biting their nails in nervousness; hoping against hope that they were the winners.

“And in first place, winners of the Equestrian National A Cappella Competition.... The EQUESTRIAN GIRLS!” The stallion pointed to the team as they jumped up from their seats with shouts of joy amidst cheers and thunderous applause.

While most of the girls wore large grins and could barely contain their joy and excitement, Claire had broken down in tears at having accomplished her goal since her accident last year. The others noticed and gave her a hug and gentle shake before passing the large trophy to her bringing out a watery smile from the cream earth pony. The team bowed to the audience who were giving them another standing ovation before heading offstage; plans for celebration being called for and already being planned by Pinkie Pie herself.

With some extra kind of 'Party Sense' Pinkie led the team to Canterlot's nightlife; clubs, DJs and more. While some of the team was more liberal with drinking, others took part of the more sugary and non-alcoholic kind as they all enjoyed the current DJ's set; at least, some of them were.

“Come on Vee! You're a waaay better DJ than this guy!” Cloud Kicker stated loudly as the mares sat together at 'Club Pony'; the latest Canterlot Club with the latest tunes, or so its promotional ads stated.

Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth kept sitting closer and closer with each drink they had, and the pale-gray pegasus agreed with the statement as she nodded while she rested her head onto the persian-blue pegasus' shoulder.

“Yeah! Show us your DJ-self, DJ.” Claire slurred from her seat as Arpeggio looked up from her drink to rapidly nod in agreement before holding her head in pain. The last of the drinking mares sat at the end of the table; though no one could tell that Windy Day had been drinking anything since she remained silent and showed no side-effects of the alcohol whatsoever.

The non-drinking ponies gave each other nervous looks; their friends' drunken cries were attracting attention and even the DJ glared over at the claims.

“Shhhh shhh; look, I don't even have my glasses which would be part of my, er, 'DJ-self'. Come on; don't cause a scene you guys.” Vinyl waved to the others as she tried to get them to tone down their chanting for DJ Pon-3 to take the stage.

Pinkie Pie had been watching the argument with a confused tilt of her head; at the explanation of why Vinyl couldn't step up even if she wanted to the pink earth pony grinned and reached out a fore-hoof.

“Here you go Vee! Now you can take a turn at the turn tables!” Vinyl looked at the pink mare in shock as she saw her glasses held out towards her.

“What-bu-how?” Pinkie waved her other hoof in dismissive manner, cutting off the white unicorn's question.

“Pinkie Pie Super-Secret Numbuh 137!” Before Vinyl could react to this odd statement or even start to wonder at it when she knew she left the shades back in her dorm room, she felt a presence walk up to their group in an annoyed manner.

The DJ in question had enough of the backtalk and trotted over to the mares who in turn looked up in surprise; Vinyl could only face-hoof as she realized his pride had been stung and he wanted to prove that he was a better DJ than a couple of A Capella singing mares.

“What's this about a better DJ?” The rest of the crowd watched in anticipation, hoping for a face-off or at least an amusing show between two DJs.

“You can do it DJ Pon-3.” Octavia whispered to her marefriend before giving a good luck kiss on her cheek; causing the white mare to sit up and levitate the glasses onto her face before turning to the first DJ as confidence and a need to show off grew in her at the gray mare's touch.

“My friends think I am a better DJ than you are.” The stallion snorted through his nose and stood straighter as he gave the unicorn a small glare.

“And you are?” Vinyl crossed her hooves as she leaned back slightly before replying.

“DJ Pon-3; the one who's going to re-invent the style.”

“Oh really? Why don't you come up and prove it?” The stallion sneered at the white mare who smirked in response.

“Alright; don't say I didn't warn you.”

By the end of two hours of blasting beats, wubs, scratching, and new kinds of sound (influenced by a certain light-gray mare), the crowd chanted DJ Pon-3's name in unison at the end of the match. The first DJ bowed his head in recognition of her skill and wanted to know where she would be playing to request a rematch when he gained more experience.

“Haven't picked a permanent place yet; roaming with the winds of music and change. You'll see me around and I'll be waiting for ya DJ 3CH0.” Vinyl led the way with a smirk as the Equestrian Girls left the club to another round of applause; though it was just for the DJ this time.

While the team couldn't be prouder, they realized that they were rather drunk by this time and needed a place to stay for the night; the last train back to E.U.C.C. had left well over an hour ago. Luckily Lyra still had friends among the nobles of Canterlot even if she was on the outs with her family and was able to find somepony willing to let the team stay for the night.

The manor was spacious enough that each could have their own room (though Octavia and Vinyl as well as Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth opted to share); they came late enough that they had to be careful to not wake the rest of the household who were just settling down for the night. The team also had to promise to leave in the morning time since Lyra's friend Moondancer didn't want to have to explain their presence to her family.

Vinyl and Octavia settled into the large canopy bed as the night's adventures caught up with them and the white mare let out a pleased sigh.

“We did it Tav'; we won the competition.” Vinyl lied on her back as she watched the light-gray mare settle on her side next to her.

“Yes, we did; with a bit of help from the great DJ Pon-3.” Vinyl smirked as she thought about how the crowd liked her music at the club as well as the feel of Octavia pulling close with a smile of her own. Octavia had noticed the almost classical tones in the DJ's music and had a hunch at what influenced the sounds.

“Yeah, that was pretty cool how well my music was liked in the club; guess I don't need to worry about whether or not ponies would like it when I finish college.” Octavia couldn't help but shake her head at yet another doubtful side of her mare and thought of a way to get her priorities back on track.

“Vinyl, you know you are going to be successful; I just don't know how you can doubt it for a moment. And there is one thing that can make this evening even better.” Octavia gave the white mare a heated smirk as Vinyl looked into lavender eyes curiously.

“Yeah, and what would that be?” Octavia answered with a passionate kiss which Vinyl returned with closed eyes that opened rapidly as she felt a hoof travel farther down her chest to her lower half.

Octavia paused in her advance when she felt the white mare stiffen and looked into surprised reddish-cerise eyes.

“Do you not want to?” Octavia asked quietly as Vinyl gulped nervously as she remained in place under the light-gray mare.

“I-I wasn't sure if you would want to... And I've never done anything like, like that before....” Vinyl couldn't look away as Octavia became a little bashful though pleased all the same.

“Well, neither have I; I certainly want to do this with you, but if you don't want to-” Octavia's offer to stop was cut off with a love-filled kiss from the mare beneath her, answering everything at once and leading into a passion filled night for the couple as they learned more about each other than ever before.

The next morning found the Equestrian Girls on a train ride home where more congratulations and acknowledgment awaited them. They may have started out the year as the laughing stock of Equestria United Community College, but they now returned as its champions.

Our House

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“That night we partied at the clubs, and Tavi and I had our own little party later. We-” The white unicorn was interrupted by the gray earth pony before she could explain how close the couple became that fateful night.

“Vinnyyllllll....” Vinyl looked away from her audience of three fillies to find Octavia standing over her with a raised eyebrow at what the unicorn was about to explain to young foals.

“Oh er, heh heh. We had lots of fun and went back to the college the next day where we were hailed as the greatest A Cappella group of the school.” Vinyl glossed over and finished her story after giving Octavia a bashful look.

The young DJ was sitting in a dark-purple loveseat with the Cutie Mark Crusaders sitting across from her on the floor of the two musicians' house; the fillies had hoped to try and be DJs (or classical ponies after Octavia got home) but had been sidetracked when Octavia teased the white unicorn with offering the girls lessons on how to sing; bringing into question how a DJ would know about or even sing A Cappella.

Octavia was standing behind the chair where the white mare sat as they were all gathered in the living room of their two storied house in Ponyville. Before Vinyl was able to comment on how cute the gray mare's face was as she shook her head in exasperation, they were distracted by a higher ranged voice from the floor.

“Wait, that's it? Were you two together for the rest of the time? What about when Ms. Octavia graduated? How did you come to live in Ponyville?” Sweetie Belle asked as she sat up from where she was on the ground between her two best friends.

“We stayed together ever since that first year of college; we have had a few fights but we got over them.” Vinyl looked towards the fillies who continued to sit on the floor as they thought about the story they were told.

“I always wondered how you managed to graduate a year early...” Octavia raised a brow at the young yet already famous DJ who sheepishly grinned back when she heard the comment.

“Well, you know... I couldn't stand the thought of being without you for a year; so I worked twice as hard and pulled ahead faster than the others.” Vinyl smiled up to her mare who gave a soft 'awww' at the emotion behind the sentence and shared a quick kiss; though they kept it less intimate considering the ages of the fillies in front of them.

As two of the three fillies 'aww'ed at the sight of love-struck ponies, the last one couldn't help but cross her hooves as she fake-gagged at the sight.

“Ewww; I'd thought Hannigan beat the sappy out of her orphans.” At this simple sentence, the atmosphere went from a happy to serious one; Octavia looking concernedly at her marefriend who shrugged back at how true it was while the two fillies looked to their other friend in concern for what she may not have told them about her past.

“That may be kid, but meeting Octavia here taught me to feel and trust again. I hope that you meet someone like that as well, for your sake.” Vinyl gazed at the small pegasus in all seriousness as the two felt a connection due to their mutual up-bringing and pain.

Scootaloo couldn't hold the caring gaze for long and looked out the nearby window instead as the room remained silent.

To break the awkward silence that had grown since the re-opening of old wounds, Apple Bloom perked up as she realized something about the story hadn't told them.

“Ms. Vinyl, ya didn't tell us how y'all got tah Ponyville. Did ya move right away or check out other places or...?” Apple Bloom trailed off at the return of the smirk on the DJ's face as the white mare faced the other two fillies.

“Well, if you really want to know...” Vinyl started to get back into the mood when she was cut off by an annoyed voice as the orange pegasus jumped up from her spot on the ground.

“Come on you guys! We've already heard one really sappy story; do we really need to hear about them moving out of college? Can't we go crusading or something?” Scootaloo looked at her friends who were torn between hearing more of the story and trying to do more things to get their cutie marks.

Scootaloo watched as her two friends looked between the white unicorn and the orange pegasus rapidly before Sweetie Belle came to the decision that they may not get another chance to hear the story and tried to make a deal.

“Please Scootaloo? Just one more story? What if we do whatever you want afterwards, would that be ok?” Sweetie Belle held her hooves pleadingly to the pegasus who sighed dramatically and sat back down with a 'thump'.

“Fiiinnnee; but we are doing whatever I want to afterwards, right?” Scootaloo crossed her hooves as the two other fillies smiled back in triumph.

“Right!” Vinyl and Octavia watched curiously as the whole discussion went on and when it was decided to continue the story both mares gave small shrugs. As Octavia showed no signs of taking over the story telling (aside from making sure it was kept to a 'G' rating), Vinyl settled into her tale once more.

“Vinyl, are you sure you can carry all that?” Octavia watched in concern as the white unicorn levitated five large suitcases into the couple's new home.

As they found themselves faced with graduating and moving out into the world, the couple searched for a new place to live; Pinkie Pie suggested the quaint little two floored house in Ponyville. The place was perfect for their needs, with two bedrooms upstairs and a living room, kitchen and full bathroom on the first floor. The outside wasn't much without enough room for a garden since they were in the middle of town, it wasn't really needed since they were musicians and could only do a little gardening; something easily solved by a couple of window boxes for anything 'special' they wanted to grow.

They were moving everything from the dorms at once since all the furniture belong to the school; meaning that the first thing after entering a contract to 'rent to own' the house was to furnish the place, something they could afford by getting second hand furniture that was still in good shape.

After spending three years rooming to sharing a bed for two and a half years, the couple knew they would share a room once more; Vinyl planned to turn the extra bedroom into her personal studio while Octavia would use the living room if she wanted to practice.

Currently, to save on trips up and down the stairs, Vinyl grabbed as many bags as she could at once with her magic producing a wobbly effort as she focused almost completely on moving the luggage upstairs.

While the white unicorn did practice magic, she still couldn't lift big or heavier objects for long periods of time or all at once. It was when Vinyl tried to climb the stairs that everything came tumbling down; trying to split her attention between levitation and climbing made everything fall down instead.

As the luggage fell on the white mare the gray one called out in alarm.

“Vinyl! Are you ok?” Octavia set down the two suitcases she held to uncover the DJ who grinned sheepishly at the worried mare.

“Yeah, I'm good. Guess it was a bit too much, huh?” Vinyl stood up as Octavia sighed in relief before smiling rudely at the unicorn.

“Yeah, just a bit. Come on you goof; a few extra trips won't hurt.”

Within a few minutes they had all their luggage in the corresponding room and settled down for an afternoon of unpacking. While they got little things here and there, the majority of their stuff to put away was in their room.

As supper time rolled around, the couple sat in their new loveseat in the living room, taking it all in as they relaxed. Just as they were unwinding and beginning to think of what to eat, a knock came at their front door.

The two shared a confused look; they had just moved and didn't really know anyone around town yet. As more knocks followed the first, Vinyl got up with a sigh to answer the door; when plain old knocking turned into an upbeat rhythm, the unicorn felt a moment of dread at who it might be.

As a precaution, Vinyl opened the door with her magic a few paces away, which was fortunate since as soon as it opened a loud bang and explosion occurred leading up to a hyper pink mare jumping into the door frame with a large smile.

“Hey Vinyl! I saw you guys were just moving in and I realized you probably didn't know anyone and if you don't know anyone then you guys must be missing all your A Ca-buddies so I thought I could give you guys a tour and you can see some of our old friends and meet some new ones!” After not having seen the pink mare for a year, the rapid fire of words was hard to understand at first.

Pinkie Pie had graduated from Clowning in two years and left for Ponyville to start her baker apprenticeship with the Cakes.

At the sound of an excited voice, Octavia came out to investigate; at the sight of the pink mare amidst streamers and confetti she paused in the doorway to the living room.

“Pinkie Pie?”

“Hey Octavia! Come on slowpokes! I just got off my shift at Sugarcube Corner and we have lots to see!” As the couple didn't move due to shock at the baker's appearance, Pinkie took matters into her own hooves; zipping up to pull both mares by a fore-hoof each and leading them outside.

The pink baker led the two on a high speed tour of the town; trying to hit all the highlights and interesting places in the time left before it became too late to do anything.

“Over here is the Carousal Boutique, the dressmaker has set up shop a year ago after going to college. She has lots of neat designs! Then here's Sugarcube Corner, you can always find me there because I live right above the shop above Mr. and Mrs. Cake who live above the shop! It has very yummy things in it, but we can taste all that later there's more stuff to see! That's the library, the old librarian moved out a while ago and now no one works there except different volunteers every so often. That's the market place, there's lots of shops for lots of really cool things! OOOooohh! Look, there's Cloudy and Blossom! Remember, they moved back here after they graduated?!”

The two musicians could barely wave to the other couple who had graduated the year before; Weathering was the easiest major of them all, especially if a pony had an aptitude for it. The two pegasi only had time to stare back in surprise before the trio became a blur on their way through town.

“Here's the Spa, I hear Aloe and Lotus are really good at their job! And over here is Town Hall, looks pretty cool huh? Hey look, it's Derpy! Hi Derpy! She graduated our freshman year and lives on the edge of Ponyville! And here is the town clock-tower which is weird since it's on the outside of town and not in the middle like some might expect. Over there is Bon-Bon's, a candy only store with lots of goodies to choose from! Annnnnddd all the way out here is Sweet Apple Acres, the yummiest apples ever! AND they have very yummy apple cider! I'm going to make sure to get some every year it's so good!”

It was an amazing feat that the two musicians were able to see the town at all as they were pulled around by their hooves; even harder was to listen to their tour guide as she rapidly explained every 'interesting' aspect of town. The citizens of Ponyville were slowly getting used to the hyper mare and didn't give all that attention nor reaction at the passing blur.

By the time the tour was over, the musicians were wind-blown and dizzy from the fast speeds of the hyperactive mare. Pinkie Pie showed no sign of being tired and hopped from one hoof to the other in excitement.

“ANNDDD, didja hear didja hear? Lyra is thinking about moving here once SHE graduates too! It's a shame that the others didn't want to live here, but still, it's going to be lots and lots of fun! I'll see you guys later at your welcome party I'm hosting at Sugarcube Corner tomorrow! BYE!!” Pinkie waved once before zipping off, leaving the two shocked mares behind as they tried to process the tour.

“I guess life will never be too quiet with Pinkie Pie around...” Octavia softly stated as the two went back inside and sat on their loveseat once more.

“Yeah, but I think it's part of the town's magic as well; seems to attract weirdness and all that...” Vinyl stared wide-eyed at the wall before the feel of her marefriend leaning into her brought her attention back from philosophic musings.

“Well, so long as we're together I'm sure we can handle anything...” Octavia stated as she nuzzled Vinyl's side.

“You bet.”

After Vinyl explained how the couple came to Ponyville and their reception the trio couldn't help but smile at Pinkie's actions. After a moment, Scootaloo realized she was supposed to not like sappy stories and stood up as she looked to the others.

“Yeah, great, more sappy stories; come on you guys! The day's almost over and the most we've done is listen to a few sappy stories and learn a little about music. Let's get out of here and do some real crusading!” The girls knew that Scootaloo was trying to maintain a 'tough' image and gave in to her demands; they had promised to do whatever thing she wanted next after all.

“Ok, let's go ahead and do some more crusading.” Sweetie Belle stood up along with Apple Bloom and followed the young pegasus towards the door after waving goodbye to the older mares.

“Thanks fer tellin' us how y'all learned tah sing A Cappella and how ya moved here; we'll be back fer singin' lessons later! Bye!” Apple Bloom called out to the older mares on her friends' behalf as they left the two storied house quickly.

The two mares could only shake their heads at the rapid exit before the light-gray mare turned to the white one in concern.

“Was the orphanage really all that bad? Is it still open?” Vinyl continued to sit in the loveseat as she kept her hooves crossed as she thought about a place she had long ago been willing to pretend never existed.

“Yeah, it was pretty bad and I don't know if it is still open.... It may just be time to find out though.” As Vinyl's face cleared with this plan of action forming in her mind Octavia decided on a different way to relieve the pain of the past; the gray earth pony snuggled close to the white unicorn on the loveseat and rested her head onto Vinyl's back.

“I agree and I can think of a few extra things to do concerning that... 'Orphanage'. However, let's just sit here for a moment so I can help remind you about all that good stuff you were saying earlier.” Octavia smirked at the bashful look on the unicorn's face at how sappy she had been; though Vinyl didn't mind the current plan at all and settled more firmly into the couch with the mare of her heart.