by Bunnybooze79

First published

It was supposed to be Octavia’s first big moment in her beginning career. To her dismay a unicorn named Vinyl Scratch stole her spotlight and left an impression on the cellist she would so soon not forget.

It was supposed to be Octavia’s first big moment in her beginning career. To her dismay a unicorn named Vinyl Scratch stole her spotlight and left an impression on the cellist she would so soon not forget.

This is my take on how two of my favorite ponies met and the stages they went through.

This story takes place about 2 years before Nightmare Moon returns, so you will not see any of the main characters here. If you are here for some Scootaloo & Rainbow Dash, I am sorry to disappoint you.

But please….stay a while and listen….err read.

Rated Teen for some slightly darker scenarios in later chapters and some crude attempted humor.

Chapter 1

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Thundering applause rang throughout the medium sized conservatory.

The recipient of the praise stood alone on the stage and bowed as thanks. A remarkable feat considering that the earth pony mare was currently standing on her hind legs while holding a large cello with one foreleg wrapped around its neck.

She allowed herself a small smile as she observed the ponies below stamping their hooves on the ground in appreciation of her performance. Maintaining a delicate balance with her instrument she moved off stage to the right. Once out of sight she gripped the bow in her mouth and let herself down on three hooves. With practiced movements she used her free foreleg to carefully position the heavy cello across her back. One push of her back later, she had managed to position herself under her instrument and trotted further backstage where her personal belongings and cello case were waiting for her.

It was a quick affair to put her beloved cello back into its case and the elegant bow beside it. Her task for the evening complete, she allowed herself to relax and let a long sigh escape her lips. Now it was time to join the ranks of spectators back in the main hall. As she passed the restrooms she stepped inside to freshen up.

After splashing her face with some water from the washbasin she blindly fumbled around for the nearby paper towels jutting out from the box mounted on the wall to her left. A few quick dabs at her face soaked the paper towels thoroughly, but enabled her to open her eyes and look at her reflection in the mirror.

The grey coated earth pony looked back at her with beautiful light purple eyes. Her naturally long eyelashes highlighted her eyes making them seem brighter than they actually were. The long black mane was silky smooth, just like her tail. On her flanks a cutie mark in the shape of a pink treble clef could be seen. A small pink bowtie and white collar around her neck were the only pieces of clothing she wore.

Everything about the mare screamed elegance and sophistication that was associated with Canterlot. Not surprisingly she was born there and had just graduated from Canterlot’s university majoring in classical music. That had been two weeks ago.

The graduation itself had been a rather standard affair and over quickly. She did not care about the inevitable party or saying goodbye to any of her classmates. Truth be told she hadn’t made many friends during her time in university. In fact she could count them off on one hoof. Not that she wasn’t friendly to other ponies, she just did not have the time nor necessity for friends at this time in her life.

Her goal was simple, to be the first chair cellist in the Royal Canterlot Orchestra. Once she had reached that goal, she would relax and expand her social circle. Until then it was all about perfecting her craft.

The mare smirked at the memory of her first days in university. How they had stared at her when she had said she would be playing the cello. Earthponies in the musical genre would usually be pianists or would play the drums. A large number were also found in the vocal arts, Sapphire Shores being a large role model in that field. The natural stamina of earthponies played its part in that field as well.

And then she had come along, Octavia Philharmonica, a Canterlot-born earthpony. She had played her cello in front of her peers for the first time and remembered how they simply gawked at her in shock. Her ability with the cello was unmatched, even unicorns failed to keep up with her. That an earthpony was able to play something so delicate with apparent ease had made small circles and had been only very rarely seen in the past.

Now she would make bigger circles, of that she was certain. This little event would only be the first step towards her goal.

It was customary for the university to arrange this little contest for each of the three graduating classes. Freshly graduated students of the classical, vocal and alternative musical styles were given the opportunity to show off their abilities in front of a large crowd, mainly consisting of other students and a few faculty members.

There was a prize to be won, but Octavia had no interest in the money. Coming from a wealthy background she had no need for it. The real prize would be the small boost in reputation and fame and the prospect of gaining the attention of the Royal Canterlot Orchestra.

With one last quick look into the mirror she straightened her bowtie and headed out the door. Her ears picked up a thumping bass originating from the stage she had just vacated. As she opened the door to the hall itself she felt the thumping bass trying to force her back out of the door.

She nearly complied with its wishes. Octavia scrunched up her nose at the sudden change in volume. Without glancing at the stage she homed in to where some snacks were served and perused the selection.

Once her ears had adjusted to the loud music she had to admit that the musician on stage knew what they were doing. Irritatingly she even had to stop her right hind leg from stamping along with the beat. While nibbling on a flower carved out of a carrot she turned to the stage to see who was performing.

A white unicorn stood behind a pair of turntables, her head bobbing along with the beat she thumped across the room. The blue mane and tail, both with a streak of lighter electric blue, had an erratic cut and gave her a wild appearance. Octavia let out a small amused snort at the tinted sunglasses the unicorn was wearing. She guessed it was supposed to make her look cool or edgy for wearing them indoors. The cellist was no expert in those matters, which she was willing to admit if asked, but to her the unicorn looked more like an exotic bug from a distance.

Judging by the dancing ponies in front of the stage the unicorn knew her business. She made them dance back and forth for nearly half an hour, even though her timeslot was supposed to be no more than ten minutes. Due to her audience demanding encore after encore she remained onstage and gave them what they wanted.

Octavia watched her leave the stage and out of curiosity tried to spot the mare’s cutie mark. A reversed eighth note adorned her flank if she saw correctly. The cellist contemplated for a moment why it was reversed. Did it have something to do with her style of music maybe? Perhaps it was a fake cutie mark or a magically altered one to make her stand out even more. From what she had seen so far she wouldn’t be surprised if that indeed was the case.

Stageponies carried the unicorn’s turntables backstage and returned moments later wheeling out a large piano. The pianist soon entered the stage and prepared to play his piece. After the performance before that had ponies jumping and stamping all about, his performance was pretty much doomed from the start. Octavia knew however that the pianist, a stallion named Frederick Horseshoepin, would not be overly affected by the unenthusiastic crowd. He had graduated together with Octavia and had been a loner and only interested in playing his music, much like herself.


Nearly two hours later the last of the performers had played their piece and joined the crowd in front of the stage.

It was time to determine who would be tonight’s winner. Now they would be able to vote for one of the musicians, while the judges sitting in the balcony area would cast their own votes.

Octavia was confident of winning, after all none of the others even came close to her perfection and skill with the instrument of their choice. She had seen or at least heard most of them and was thinking if anything had stood out in her mind. She frowned as the white unicorn’s performance came to her mind. It had stood out in a way, but she wasn’t going to give her a vote. Modern music styles were fleeting, unlike the classical music that would stay forever.

While waiting in line behind a fidgeting deep blue unicorn mare, whom she recognized as a flutist that had given a solid performance earlier, she glanced over the other lines to either of her sides. Ponies patiently waited to step inside a small booth with paper slips on which they could tick off a name and vote for a performer of their choosing.

The judges only had one third of the overall votes, the rest was made up by the performers and audience. Octavia was sure to have impressed the judges and by the reaction of the others during her performance, there was no doubt in her mind to emerge as the winner this evening.

A loud laugh from behind her and somewhere to her right shook her out of her quiet contemplation if the pianist from before would be a threat to her first place. Octavia glanced behind her and almost immediately spotted the origin of the laugh. It was the unicorn with the sunglasses.

The white unicorn with the wild mane was standing beside a grayish unicorn stallion, who also was wearing sunglasses. The stallion said something to her and again she laughed out loud, apparently not caring what anypony might think of her behavior. Octavia noted that she was slightly swaying and sometimes leaned against the stallion for support. It was obvious that she must have been drinking anything but the fruit punch.

Both of the unicorns seemed to notice her looking at them as they turned their heads to her. He said something to the mare and she laughed again uproariously. With a huff and a deliberate show of her distaste of their behavior by turning up her nose at them, Octavia turned away and stared straight ahead. It just made those two laugh even louder.

The cellist kept her cool, it was not worth her energy and time to try and teach those unrefined ponies anything about manners. It was painfully obvious that neither of them were from Canterlot and Octavia found solace in the fact that they would both hopefully leave her city soon never to be seen by her again.

It took nearly twenty minutes until it was her turn to vote for a performer of her choice. All the time waiting in line had not been the most pleasant of experiences, thanks to those two unicorns that kept laughing all the time. She had tried to blend them out and think about the performances she had enjoyed that evening.

After pulling the curtain of the small booth closed behind her, she took one of the voting slips from a box on the table. A small hole-punch stood beside the box, something she was glad for. Octavia cringed at the thought of having to share a pencil with countless other ponies she did not know. Unicorns could at least use their magic to write with a pen, pencil or quill. Pegasi and earthponies had to use their mouths.

While waiting in line she had decided to give her vote to the flutist she had been standing behind all the time. Her rendition of an upbeat classical piece had been enjoyable and remained in Octavia’s head, she would have to see if she could find a version of the piece written for cellos.

Sliding the slip of paper under the hole-punch and making sure that the correct name was aligned properly, she pushed down on the lever. Taking the paper in her mouth she trotted out the other side of the booth and slipped the paper into a collection box under the watchful eyes of one of the judges.

Now all there was to do was to wait.


Octavia stood to the side of the stage carefully watching the judges count the last few of the votes. She was slowly beginning to feel the anticipation and had to refrain from nervously shifting from hoof to hoof all the time. She jumped a little as one of the judges suddenly spoke up, magically magnifying her voice.

“The counting of the votes is now complete. In ten minutes we shall announce the winners.”

Two judges remained on stage, while the other three left to fetch the prizes. Octavia took a few deep breaths to remain calm. She was positively giddy with the prospect of taking her first step towards her ultimate goal tonight and nothing was going to ruin it for her. She fought back a smile on her face, a refined musician and future first chair cellist would not be caught grinning like a foal in a candy shop.

Slowly the space in front of the stage filled up with ponies. Once all seemed to be ready, a judge trotted to the front of the stage. Octavia recognized him as her former professor of classical music, an eggshell white unicorn stallion with a light blue mane.

Royal Canterlot Orchestra here I come!

The judge cleared his throat and addressed the waiting crowd.

“Fillies and Gentlecolts, we now will reveal the five best performers based on your votes.” He said using the same spell the other judge had used to boost his voice.

Octavia craned her neck around to spot her possible rival. She saw Frederick Horseshoepin standing a few ponies away seemingly just as excited as she was. The Royal Canterlot Orchestra was very picky when it came to acquiring new talents. Previous years had shown that they only chose one new musician to join their ranks and it had been rumored that their current pianist would possibly be retiring soon. Thus Octavia found the smile on the pianists face worrisome.

She saw the flutist she had voted for step on stage. Octavia had been so wrapped up in her thoughts that she had missed how her name had been called out for fifth place. The cellist clapped her front hooves together in appreciation of the mare’s performance. It was obvious that the flutist had not reckoned with her even being amongst the top five, evident by tears of joy in her eyes as she received her prize.

Octavia watched her step down from the stage to meet up with a few other mares. They hugged each other and congratulated the winner. The cellist turned her attention back to the stage as to not miss the next announcements.

“This year’s fourth place goes to….” The unicorn judge on stage opened an envelope and levitated a small card out of it. “Neon Lights!”

Octavia immediately recognized the stallion stepping up on stage. It was the same sunglasses wearing pony that had been laughing in line earlier. He wasn’t laughing now however, in fact he seemed to be rather angry. Wordlessly he grabbed the prize money and stomped back off stage.

Talk about a sore winner.

Octavia watched as he stomped out of her sight. She had not heard his performance earlier, but if he was amongst the top five he must have been good. His behavior would not go unnoticed of that Octavia was sure. The judge did not let herself get distracted as she announced the next winner.

“This year’s third place goes to….” Another envelope, another card. “Frederick Horseshoepin!”

That was a surprise to Octavia and most certainly to the stallion just announced. He stepped on stage and smiled as he received his award. He bowed to the judges and to the audience before stepping off stage. Once he was on the ground again his smile diminished and was replaced with a frown. Not breaking his stride he made a beeline for the table serving alcoholic beverages.

That left two winners to be announced. Octavia had thought the talented pianist would have been a close second to her. She shrugged and awaited the announcement of the second place.

“This year’s second place goes to….” Octavia scanned the crowd, playing her own little game of guessing the winner. Perhaps she had not given enough credit to that mare with the tuba, it had been a poor choice of music in her opinion, but perhaps the judges saw it differently. “Octavia Philharmonica!”

Octavia froze as ponies around her clapped their hooves together in her honor. With rigid movements she slowly walked over to the stairs leading up to the stage.

Second place?

She forced a plastic smile as she walked up to the judge smiling at her.

Second place!

Octavia was dimly aware of the judge congratulating her and presenting her with her award, a scroll and a bag of bits.

Who? Who is first? Who outperformed me?

With stiff legs she made her way back to the stairs with the scroll and the bag of bits in her mouth. Her mind was continuously revolving around the question on who had beaten her. Who had taken away her shot at the Royal Canterlot Orchestra.

She had just reached the spot she had been standing at before when the judge opened the final envelope. Octavia was more than just intrigued at who had come in first place.

“This year’s first place….” The judge paused for a moment to heighten the tension. “Vinyl Scratch!”

“AAAAWWW YEAAAHH!” a loud voice boomed from somewhere in the middle of the crowd.

Octavia watched in disbelief as the unicorn with the purple sunglasses made her way through the crowd and onto the stage.


The cellist just stared at the unicorn mare as she swayed towards the judge with a drunken gait. The smile on the judge’s face also seemed somewhat forced as the winner finally stopped in front of her. Her magic failed her as she tried to grab her winnings with it. In the end she resorted to grab it with her mouth and staggered back towards the stairs.

Octavia was aware that the judge on stage thanked them for their participation, but her attention was fully on the unicorn that nearly tripped over her own hooves as she carefully descended the stairs.

How could such an unrefined being have beaten me? She didn’t even play a classical instrument!

She watched as the inebriated mare stumbled through the applauding crowd of ponies out of Octavia’s sight. The cellist’s eyes kept staring in disbelief at the spot she had last seen her. Out of the corner of her eye she saw one of the judges coming down the stairs, it happened to be her former professor. She tore her look away from the spot and made a beeline towards her professor.

“Excuse me?” she politely asked when she was close enough for him to hear her.

“Octavia! Congratulations on your win.” He smiled at his former student as he turned towards her.

“Th…thank you? That’s what I actually wanted to talk to you about.” Before she could even begin to voice her thoughts he cut her off.

“I know what you are going to say.” He gave her a sympathetic look and held a hoof out to halt her beginning protest. “You have to understand that the majority of the votes come from the former and current students in attendance. If it had been up to only us judges, you can be sure to have won first place.”

“But how could she win? It was just a repetitive melody without any true refinement.” Octavia could not wrap her head around the idea that a style of music that was so simple in her eyes had outperformed her.

“Tastes are different, Octavia. It would appear that the younger crowd favors her type of musical performance.”

“Yes, but I was supposed to win! I was supposed to use this contest as a step towards the Royal Orchestra!” Octavia hated it with a passion when her plans were interfered with, especially when it involved something so important to her. “Don’t tell me she will be going to perform for them next!”

“I doubt that will be the case.” The professor chuckled at the thought. “Listen, Octavia, I know that you have your goal set in your mind and you wish to attain it as soon as possible. Sometimes things can interfere, do not let yourself be discouraged by a small setback. You will come out stronger in the end, of that I am sure.” He gave her an encouraging pat on her shoulder and excused himself to join the other judges coming down from the stage.

Octavia remained where she was, thinking about what he had said. She may not have won first place, but she was the best classical musician of the night. It was impossible that the Royal Canterlot Orchestra would pick that mare to join them. Most likely they would rather turn towards the pony that fit them the best. Octavia allowed herself to smile again. She didn’t have to worry about her goal, the unicorn with the purple sunglasses would prove no threat to her.

With her mind back on track and a better feeling about the entire contest, she made her way back towards where she had left her cello and personal belongings, with a minor detour to grab a snack on the way out.


Octavia heard voices coming from her destination as she trotted along the corridors backstage. It seemed to her as if she wasn’t the only pony wanting to leave early. The party scheduled for now wasn’t her taste and she wanted to get out before it became too crowded backstage.

As she rounded the corner she stopped dead in her tracks upon seeing who was here with her. Vinyl Scratch and Neon Lights were quietly laughing and looking at the instruments lined up along the wall. To Octavia’s horror they were currently investigating her very own cello.

“Hey! That’s personal property!” Octavia stomped forwards while glaring daggers at the ponies in front of her. Instead of backing off the unicorn mare simply grabbed her cello case with her magic and laid it down on the floor with a thud. Octavia winced at the sound. “Are you deaf? Get away from my stuff!”

“Relax, hotflanks. We are just having a look at the stuff you ponies use.” The stallion replied and grinned when he saw Octavia’s facial expression.

“What did you call me?” she turned to the stallion who just kept grinning not in the least bit intimidated.

“Just calling it as I see it.” He replied and lifted his shades up with a hoof to wink at Octavia. For a moment she was speechless.

Meanwhile his drunken compatriot began running a hoof over the cello’s strings, the sound making her giggle inanely. The sound was enough to make Octavia snap out of her silence.

“Hey! Get your uncivilized hooves off there!” Now she was positively furious. It was one thing to call her inappropriate names, a totally other thing to touch her prized cello without her approval.

Sensing that Octavia was now approaching dangerous levels of annoyance, Neon Lights nudged Vinyl in the side to draw her attention. Unfortunately the nudging did not only get that, but also caused Vinyl to suddenly feel rather unwell.

Octavia’s eyes widened as she saw the signs. First the unicorn’s face turned a subtle shade of green, next she puffed out her cheeks as the volatile concoction of various alcoholic substances in her stomach yearned for freedom.


Octavia’s pupils shrunk to pinpricks as she watched the drunken mare threw up her stomach’s contents over the cellist’s instrument. For a moment none of the ponies spoke of even moved, apart from Octavia’s left eye twitching while the color drained from her face.

“Carrots…..why are there always carrots?” Vinyl mumbled drunkenly as she glanced down to the mess she had made. Neon Lights started laughing.

“You….how…could…you…”Octavia didn’t know what to do and just stammered out the words slowly trickling through her mind. A part of her wanted to rip those two deplorable heinous ponies to shreds, another part of her just wanted to weep openly at the defilement of her beloved musical instrument.

“Oops. Seems like Vinyl here is a bit of a lightweight.” Neon Lights pulled the mare away from the mess she had made and slowly backed away from the earthpony in front of him. “Come on Vinyl, let’s get you something new to drink to take the taste away.”

“Huh?” Vinyl’s response was slow and she was obviously not capable of any intelligent coherent speech anymore.

“Let’s leave the snobby hotflanks to play on her cello. Heh, I bet it will sound really sick.” He laughed at his own joke as he more or less dragged Vinyl along with him.

Octavia found the use of her voice again as the first tear ran down her cheek.

“YOU VILE, DISGUSTING, WRETCHED PILES OF FILTH! I HOPE I NEVER SEE YOU AGAIN IN ALL MY LIFE!” she screeched after them as loud as she could and watched them stumble around the corner out of her sight.

She wiped away the tears that kept filling her eyes as she approached her cello lying on the ground in its case. The stench made her feel like throwing up as well, but she flipped the lid closed with one hoof. She had not dared look at the damage done out of fear of losing the last shreds of her sanity.

This had not been the night where she would rise to fame, in fact it had been the worst night of her life.

Chapter 2

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Vinyl Scratch’s very first thought when she woke up that morning was why Princess Celestia had decided to raise in sun right in front of her eyes.

The thought was expanded to why there was a herd of buffalo tap dancing on her head. On top of everything else the worst thing was the fact that somepony was shouting at her.

“Stop…..shouting….” It had taken considerable effort to utter those two words. Her tongue seemed to weigh a ton and the taste in her mouth wasn’t helping.

“I am whispering.” A stallion’s voice, somewhat familiar said again at deafening volumes. “Here, have some of this.”

Vinyl cracked an eye open to see what was being offered to her. To her relief she was still wearing her sunglasses, the tinted glasses providing a small degree of protection from Celestia’s sun. A smell suddenly found its way into her nostrils.

“Coffee…” she groaned and tried to sit up from her laying position. It was easier said than done as her balance was off thanks to the throbbing in her entire head. After some effort she managed to pull herself in an upright position and grabbed the offered mug of coffee between two shaky hooves.

The first sip of the bitter hot liquid succeeded in dispelling some of her discomfort. So much that she dared to open her eyes some more to take in her surroundings.

Vinyl sat on a couch that had seen better days a long time ago. She guessed its original color to have once been white, now it was beige verging on brown in parts. The stuffing showed through some rips in the fabric and if there were any springs left she didn’t notice them.

The rest of the room was empty. No pictures, no furniture, no carpet. The only other being in the room was a familiar face. Neon Lights sat on the couch next to Vinyl and watched her drown some more of the bitter coffee.

“Nice place…” Vinyl remarked after regaining some more of her senses.

“Meh, you should’ve seen it when I was living here.” Neon waved her remark off with a hoof.

“You don’t live here?” Vinyl’s brain was still struggling to form coherent sentences and seemed intent on smashing through her skull from the inside out. At least the caffeinated beverage seemed to slowly take more of an effect and the light in the room didn’t feel like it was burning her eyes away.

“Nah, I’m moving out soon, as you can most likely see yourself. Plus I had also told you last night, don’t you remember?”

Vinyl tried to think back to last night. She remembered performing and having a blast while doing so. Things started to get hazy around the time she had won the contest. Everything after that was missing or for the moment not available to her. She shook her head in response to Neon’s question and regretted the movement immediately.

“First time you went drinking?” Neon smirked at the mare sitting beside him. She very carefully nodded.

“Figured that after I had to drag your flank all the way here.” Neon laid a hoof on her back and started slowly tracing circles with it over her coat. Vinyl tensed up as the hoof circled further down towards her flanks.

“Whoa, hooves to yourself.” She warned and scooted a bit away from him out of reach.

“Come on, Vinyl. I thought we could have had our private little post-graduation celebration. I thought we would be having it last night, but I don’t really like my mares unconscious.” Neon Lights scooted a bit closer to her. “Now that you are awake…”

“Yeah, let me stop you right there.” Vinyl cleared her throat with a cough. “Two things, Neon. One, I have a gigantic headache. Two, I don’t swing that way.”

It took a few moments for Neon Lights to catch her meaning.

“You’re into mares?” he asked just to be sure. Vinyl nodded again in response. “Geez, you might have told me at some point in the last, I don’t know…entire time we were in university.”

“I thought we were just friends.” Vinyl had kept her personal life to herself in the time at university. What other ponies did not need to know she never told them.

“Well, it was going to be a friendly celebration.” He tried once more to persuade the white unicorn to party the way he had imagined.

“Sorry Neon, that ain’t happening.”

The stallion sighed and scooted away from Vinyl a bit to give her some more space. They sat in silence for a few minutes while Vinyl drowned the last bit of coffee.

“Oh well, at least I had a few good laughs last night thanks to you.” He said with a small chuckle. Vinyl turned to face him. Her memory was missing a few more pieces it seemed.

“What do you mean?”

“You don’t remember?” Neon grinned smugly. Maybe it was the hangover, but Vinyl somehow really did not like that grin of his this morning.

“I remember you placing fourth.” She said with a smug grin of her own.

“Oh, HA HA!” Neon had raised his voice considerably at his impression of laughing, the effect being that the buffalos in Vinyl’s head did one last tap dance routine.

“Apart from your drunken rambling, the best thing was what you did to that high class mare.” Neon said, but didn’t give her any more details. Vinyl did her best to try and remember, but came up blank.

“High class mare? Who?”

“Octavia Filibuster or something like that.” Neon shrugged.

“Octavia Philharmonica, the earthpony prodigy.” Vinyl corrected him, still desperately trying to remember anything. She had never met Octavia during university, but had most certainly heard about her. Then again who hadn’t?

“Pfff, prodigy my flanks. Just cause she can pluck a few strings with her hooves doesn’t make her anything special in my book.”

“What did I do?” Vinyl asked him with a certain amount of dread building inside her.

“You totally barfed all over her cello.” He answered with a wide grin.

“I did WHAT?!” Vinyl regretted her outburst, the damn buffalo were dancing again.

“It was hilarious. One moment you were just standing there messing around with her instrument, the next moment you drenched the entire thing. The look on her face was priceless, she even started shouting and crying.” Neon laughed a bit at the memory and laughed even more at the shock evident in Vinyl’s face.

“What the hay Neon? That isn’t funny!” Vinyl glared at the laughing stallion, the effect being lost due to her wearing sunglasses.

“Yes it is. She totally deserved it.”

“Deserved it? Why would she deserve something like that? What did she do?”

“Those snooty high class ponies deserve being knocked down every once in a while with their better-than-the-rest attitude and their oh-so-delightful city. Besides she can just buy a new one, bet she has tons of bits just lying around.” Neon shrugged his shoulders.

“That’s your reasoning? Didn’t hear you complaining about it when you were studying in their oh-so-delightful university.”

“Yeah, well I am not stupid. If I mouth off about them as a student I’ll get into trouble. Now that I am a student no more, I sure as hay can say what I really think and get out of here to start my career.”

“Do you know where she lives?” Vinyl asked, but already could have guessed the answer.

“No? Why do you want to know?”

“Because I can’t just leave it like that. I have to do something….apologize or something.” Vinyl put the cup she was still holding down beside the couch.

“Why?” Neon was genuinely confused.

“Because I don’t throw up on another pony’s livelihood and just disappear. I can’t do that.” Vinyl slowly craned her neck about trying to shake some of the stiffness away, no doubt brought on due to the uncomfy couch.

“You still drunk? I really doubt she would want to see you.” He laughed again. Vinyl’s opinion of Neon was getting lower by the minute. They hadn’t really spoken much during their time in university or even hung out that often. Only during the contest last evening had they actually spent more time together. As it turned out it was just meant to get her into bed.

Vinyl got up from the couch on still unsteady legs. She still did not feel too well, but in part that was also due to the revelation of her actions from the previous evening.

“Any idea what she might do with her instrument?” Vinyl asked and stretched her legs out.

“Stick it up her rump?” Neon chuckled a bit, but seeing that Vinyl was in no mood for laughing he continued. “I guess she’ll have it cleaned somewhere. Doubt she would want her preciously hooficured hooves to touch that thing and soil them. Seeing that she can’t use magic, being a mudpony and all, she’ll take it to one of the classy instrument shops around town to have them clean it up. Stallivari’s maybe, that’s on Alicorn Row.”

Vinyl decided not get into an argument about racial slurs with Neon Lights. It would possibly end with her hitting him and she wasn’t in the physical condition to go through with it. Instead she moved towards the door where she had spotted her saddlebags.

“You know something, Fourth Place? You are a real jerk.” Vinyl didn’t even bother to look at him. Totally unfazed by what she had said he laughed again.

“Good luck Vinyl! I’ll let you know when I am rich and famous!”

The white unicorn grabbed her saddlebags in her mouth and wordlessly left the apartment. Outside she took a moment to put them on properly before leaving the multistory building that Neon lived in. The fresh air outside helped her clear her head a bit more. After a few deep breaths she made her way back to her own small apartment a few blocks away.


When arriving at her own place she carefully opened the front door to the apartment complex to make sure the coast was clear. That last thing she needed right now was to bump into the manager, who would no doubt demand to know where the rent was she owed him for two months.

She could have paid him right then and there, but she had a feeling that she might need the money she had won in the contest later on. Vinyl tip-hoofed past the door to the manager’s office and silently made her way up to the second floor. Stealthily she unlocked her door and slipped inside with a sigh of relief.

“Home, sweet home.” She said as she trotted towards a small two-seater couch.

Her tiny little apartment was nothing even remotely special. It was barely big enough for the couch and her deck she used for mixing and creating her music. A tiny corner was reserved for a small compact cooking area, while the two doors on one side of the room led to her bedroom and bathroom respectively. The bedroom was barely big enough for her bed, the bathroom no more than a shower and a toilet.

Vinyl had never planned to stay here longer than needed and as such had not invested any substantial amounts of money in it. A new mattress was the most expensive thing she had bought while staying here. She kept her home tidy and clean, which wasn’t that difficult considering the size of the place.

After a long shower and a few slices of toast she felt a lot better than before. The headache was now just a nagging sensation in the back of her head and the stiffness in her limbs had been removed thanks to the hot shower. All that was left was a feeling of guilt for her actions towards a pony she didn’t even know.

It was time to do something about that. Sure she could have just left the town like Neon Lights was about to do, but Vinyl wouldn’t have been able to live with herself in peace for a long time. She never meant any harm towards anypony she had ever met, it just wasn’t her nature to be mean.

Vinyl put her saddlebags back on and cautiously stepped out of her home. She was in luck again as the manager was nowhere to be seen. Hurriedly she trotted away from the building towards Alicorn Road. The high class shopping area was on the other side of the city. Taking a carriage would have saved her a lot of time, but she decided to enjoy the warm summer weather and think about what to do on the way there.


Vinyl Scratch could not possibly stand out anymore as she entered the high class musical shop named Stallivari’s. A minotaur in a shop selling only bonnets would have blended in better. Not that Vinyl cared about it very much as she strode up to the counter in the otherwise deserted shop, carefully trotting around various ludicrously priced instruments of all kinds.

The stallion behind the counter gave her a skeptical look. Vinyl gave him her friendliest smile.

“Hi there!”

“May I help you?” he asked in that tone reserved for customers that one wanted to get rid of as soon as possible.

“I was just wondering if you may have seen a cellist named Octavia Philharmonica recently.” Vinyl hoped to possibly coax some information out of the stallion on how to get in touch with the other mare.

“Miss Philharmonica is an esteemed patron of our business. As it happens she was here this very morning.” He replied to her question. “She was slightly distressed.”

The stallion was unsure about the unicorn in front of him. Maybe she was a reporter for one of the many tabloid papers around town, which would mean he could maybe get some bits into his own pocket if he supplied her with some decent gossip.

“Let me guess. She wanted to have her cello fixed.” Vinyl already knew the answer. Her ears folded down at the thought of a distressed mare barging into the shop and begging under tears to have her prized possession cleaned of the filth covering it.

“Yeeees? How do you know?” he asked with hesitation. Perhaps this mare wasn’t a reporter after all.

Vinyl didn’t know how to answer that. A thought occurred to her on how she could possibly make some sort of amends with the cellist.

“Is it possible for me to pay for the repair?” she asked, to which the stallion raised an eyebrow in surprise.

“If you choose to do so.”

“Awesome. So…what’s the damage?” Vinyl hoped that her idea would not empty her bag of bits too much.

“One moment please.” The stallion left her standing in front of the counter as he went through a door behind him. Only a few moments later he returned with a large book that he put down on the counter. He began flipping to the pages until he found the entry he was looking for.

“Ah, here. The… damage is listed here as the following. Cello laced with acidic fluids. Frame in parts has absorbed some of the substance. Replacement of parts not permitted by owner on account of item being a family heirloom. Magical cleaning required to extract foreign residue. Approximated time needed: 80 hours. Total cost: 1000 bits.”

Vinyl stared at him thinking she had misunderstood what he had just said.

“The cello case was equally contaminated, but Miss Philharmonica had said that it wasn’t important and she had a spare at home.” The stallion continued to inform the silent unicorn.

“A thousand bits? For cleaning?” Vinyl couldn’t help but feel that it was massively overpriced.

“Well the nature of the contamination makes it difficult to clean easily. Seeing that she wanted it to be without replacing any of the wood in the frame the entire process is time consuming and requires delicate care. Something we can provide better than others.” There was a certain pride in his voice when he said the last sentence.

Vinyl thought about it for a moment, before sighing and opening her saddlebags.

You win some, you lose some.

It seemed fitting that her winnings should be used for something she had done in the same place she had won them. She could have used the money for getting started with her own career, but she felt she had to put it to use here first.

“Here are one thousand bits.” Vinyl levitated the bag of bits on to the counter. The stallion merely opened the bag and began counting. It wasn’t too surprising to Vinyl that he would do that and so she glanced around the shop while he counted.

“Excuse me?” he said and brought back Vinyl’s attention. “There are only seven hundred and fifty bits here.”

“Nah, I won a thousand bits. I even have the award here with me to prove it.” She was about to levitate said award out of her bag when he cut her off.

“Perhaps you should ask a certain Neon Lights about the whereabouts of your missing bits.” He slid a piece of paper over to Vinyl. It had been in the bag with the money. With growing anger she read what was written.

Thanks for the bits Vinyl. Consider it payment for my generous hospitality. Neon Lights.

“That mother…..” Vinyl swallowed the rest of her rather colorful description of Neon Lights. He had stolen her money, no doubt while she was sleeping on his couch. She really regretted not having punched him earlier that day, but that some something she could fix as well.

“I’ll be back.” She informed the stallion behind the counter and swooped her bits back into the bag. Without waiting for an answer she stormed out of the shop and ran towards Neon’s place.

Chapter 3

View Online

Vinyl was out of breath by the time she had galloped across the city to reach Neon Lights apartment block. The thought of him practically robbing her in her sleep gave her a second wind. With aching sides and hooves she climbed up the stairs to his floor. To her surprise the door was open a crack. Perhaps he had forgotten to lock it and that would make the next step of the plan easier for her. With one last burst of energy she kicked open the door and jumped inside, hoping to find her target and getting a good punch in before he had time to react.

The stallion inside gave her a surprised look, the same look that Vinyl gave him in return. It was not Neon Lights. Judging by the overall he was wearing and the can of paint he held in his front hooves, he was maybe the manager of this place or a painter. He rolled her eyes once he gave her a quick look once over and resumed his task of opening the can of paint.

“He isn’t here anymore. No, I don’t know where he went. He left a few hours ago. And yes, I really should put up a sign outside with that information. Would certainly save me having to explain myself every couple of minutes.”

Vinyl just stood in the doorway catching her breath, slowly digesting what he had just told her in a flat tone.

“When did he leave?” she huffed out between deep breaths.

“Didn’t you listen to what I said? He left a couple of hours ago, seemed to be in a rush as well. Ever since then I had all kinds of mares and some rather unsavory looking characters come in here looking for him.” He explained and finally popped off the lid of the can. “Lost count after the sixth pony coming here.”

Vinyl watched him empty the can of paint into a larger tub and pick up a large paint roller. So her prey had eluded her. All her running had been for nothing. She considered running to the train station, but it seemed fruitless to even try. Her revenge would have to wait for another time. There was still the issue of money to address.

After catching her breath she slowly trudged down the stairs again. On the way a rather angry looking mare passed her and a few moments later she heard the door slam open again and the stallion inside lamenting another surprise visitor. Neon Lights had obviously not made a lot of friends here in Canterlot.

Once outside Vinyl decided that her next stop would have to be the bank. She would have stopped by there sooner or later anyway and mercifully it was only a few blocks away.


Vinyl waited patiently in the queue of ponies waiting to speak to the employee behind the counter of Canterlot’s main bank. Waiting in line wasn’t her favorite pastime, coupled with the fact that she was thirsty and getting hungry did not do wonders for her mood.

After what seemed to her as an eternity it was finally her turn. She gave the unicorn mare behind the desk a friendly smile which was returned in that plastic fashion reserved for all customers.

“Hello, I would like to withdraw the money from my account and close it.”

“Of course. I will need your name, bank account number and some kind of identification.” The employee’s tone was friendly. Most likely she had said the same sentence dozens of times today alone, yet still managed to make it sound pleasant.

Vinyl gave her the information she had requested and waited again as the mare excused herself to fetch the details of the account.

It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, especially after students graduated. Most of them closed their accounts when they decided to move to another city. Vinyl had planned to do the same, but until now did not have the motivation to do so.

The unicorn came back after five minutes and inspected the folder she had brought with her. She gave Vinyl a form to sign stating within that she had received the money in her account and it was now closed. Vinyl resisted drawing a smiley face next to her signature for once. Official stuff like this usually did not accept any kind of attempt at humor.

The mare pressed a few buttons behind the counter and Vinyl heard gears turning inside the wooden frame. A moment later and the unicorn levitated the money from the account on to the top of the counter for Vinyl to collect. Vinyl just stared at the bits in front of her for a moment.

“Three bits?” she asked with disbelief. That had to be some kind of mistake.

“Yes. That is all that was in your account, minus of course our fee for closing the account.”

Vinyl would have loved to argue with the mare about the outrageous fees that the bank charged for basically anything. Then again of all ponies the mare behind the counter was the last one to have any say in that matter. She was just working here. Without another word Vinyl grabbed the three bits and headed out of the bank.

“Seven hundred and fifty three bits. Just great.” Without any other options left, Vinyl decided to head back home to think.


“Sorry Piggsy, this will hurt me more than it will hurt you.”

Vinyl smashed open her porcelain piggy bank on the floor. It was an ugly thing she had bought for one bit when she had arrived in Canterlot. She had put it to good use however, putting the tips she had earned in her student job inside.

Too bad she couldn’t get that job back, working in a small hut in Canterlot’s Park selling hayfries was easy and the location was nice. It was just one of many small jobs reserved for students around the city. Now she wasn’t one anymore and was expected to get a real steady job. That was something she had not even begun looking for and for the moment did not waste another thought on.

Carefully she rummaged through the shards with her magic, levitating one bit after the other out from the debris. In the end she had saved forty seven bits. That brought her overall balance to eight hundred bit, just two hundred short of paying the cello’s repair bill.

She flopped on to her couch and corrected herself. One thousand bits were needed to pay the bill and she would need a couple of hundred more to help her get by while looking for a job.

Vinyl looked around in her small home for anything of value that was hers. The mattress would not bring her vast amounts of money and the couch wasn’t even hers and part of the apartment. Her eyes drifted over to her deck.

“Oh crap.”

There wasn’t really any other option. If she would go through with her plan to make amends with Octavia Philharmonica and be able to afford food and shelter, she would have to sell her deck. That left only one problem, where to sell it?

She had learned the hard way that no store in Canterlot was interested in that type of musical equipment. It had taken a lot of time and effort to persuade somepony to order the spare parts she had needed to repair it after it had broken. The parts had to be imported all the way from Las Pegasus and had cost a small fortune.

Students might have been interested in buying it, but she knew firsthoof that students did not have vast amounts of money, at least not the students studying alternative music. All the rich ponies studied classical or the vocal arts. That left her with the option of finding a pawn shop somewhere that would buy and sell anything.

It only took a few moments for her to take out the recording of the latest track she had been working on and to stow away the two records on the turntables. She kept the headphones as well and began packing the equipment together as best she could. Luckily the deck had wheels as it was meant to be transported easily from one place to another. She wheeled it out her door into the hallway and locked the door. When she turned around she nearly jumped back into her room in shock.

Somehow the manager had come up the stairs without her hearing him. Now he gave her an angry look and blocked the way out.

“Where’s my money, Scratch?” he growled his request. “Not planning to leave without paying the two month’s rent you owe me, are you?”

Vinyl wasn’t in the mood for any lengthy discussions. It was getting late and she would have to find a pawn shop that hopefully didn’t close early. The encounter with the manager couldn’t have been avoided much longer anyway. At least she still had enough bits for the moment to pay him what she owed.

“I was just on my way down to meet you.” She lied and opened her door again to fetch her saddlebags. Making sure he couldn’t see just how much bits she had, she counted off the fifty bits she owed him and levitated it towards him.

“Much obliged.” He took the bits in his own magical grasp and counted them just to make sure she hadn’t forgotten any. “Can’t give you anymore slack, Scratch. Seeing as you aren’t a student anymore you need to pay on time from now on. Got it?”

“Yeah, don’t worry.” Vinyl wasn’t too sure about not worrying, but it was best he didn’t notice anything.

“Have fun with….whatever you do.” He said and trotted up the stairs to the next floor, no doubt trying to collect the rent from some other resident that had not yet paid.

That left Vinyl with just two problems left on her list. Well actually it was three as she somehow needed to get her deck downstairs. The only way to do so was levitation.

Every unicorn could perform a basic levitation spell strong enough to lift a book at least. Some unicorns had phenomenal levitation powers and could lift up huge boulders twice their size or large steel beams for construction. Very rarely a unicorn could even lift much more than that with apparent ease.

Heavy lifting was not one of Vinyl’s strong points. She could easily levitate dozens of small objects at the same time and manipulate them individually, but heavy objects tired her out very fast. Having no other options available she grabbed the deck in her magical grasp and very carefully levitated it down the first flight of stairs.

She had to pause for a couple of minutes, before even attempting the next flight of stairs. After an agonizing half hour she had finally cleared the dreaded stairs and wheeled the deck out on the street. Luck was with her for once as an empty carriage just rounded the corner of her street towards her. With a sharp whistle she signaled the stallion pulling the carriage to pick her up.

After another draining levitation spell she sat down in the carriage and let out a long breath of relief.

“Where d’ya wanna go?” the stallion asked, his accent clearly identifying him from out of town.

“Do you know any pawn shops that are open?” she asked hopefully.

“Sure do. 24/7” Without waiting for a reply he began his way towards their destination.


The ride was reasonably short, which meant that the drain on her money would not be too big. What puzzled Vinyl however was that the shop was closed.

“Hey, didn’t you say this shop was open 24/7?” she asked annoyed.

“Well it is, just not at this hour.” He replied calmly.

Vinyl groaned and just had to facehoof. Of course she just had to find the probably dumbest carriage driver in all of Equestria.

“Do you maybe know of a pawn shop that is open right now. I mean really open open.”

“Nah.” Vinyl contemplated if strangling the stallion could be counted as self-defense. “But I know the owner of this place. Hang on.”

The driver searched the ground for something to throw. He took a piece of gravel into his hoof and threw it up against the first floor window of the house. It took three more pieces of gravel until a seemingly angry stallion’s head appeared in the window.

“Oi! Wot do ya think you’re doing?” he yelled down.

“Got a customer here for ya!” the driver yelled back up.

“Ah, right. I’ll be down in a few minutes.” The upstairs stallion said and disappeared from view.

Vinyl unloaded her deck from the carriage and paid her fare. She watched as the carriage moved along the street and turned her attention to the pawn shop. It did not fill her with confidence.

In the parking space in front of the shop was a lone empty carriage painted in a sickly yellow. Curiously enough it was a model that only had three wheels. The storefront was painted in the exact same yellow. Dozens of signs advertised the very best things on sale for reasonably cheap prices. One size fits all coats made from camelhair, slightly defective briefcases and even an offer to have your house or rooms painted in an energy saving special paint were advertised.

What gave Vinyl serious doubts about the shop was the name of the place. Or to be precise the several foot high neon bright sign above the door with the initials of “Trotters Independent Traders”.

She was about to give up and head back home, when numerous locks on the front door clicked open one by one. After a considerable amount of time the front door opened and a short, slightly pudgy earthpony stallion appeared.

“’ello luv. How can I help ya?” he asked with a friendly smile, his accent indicating he came from somewhere around Trottingham.

“I have this deluxe deck for sale.” Vinyl did not go into any details yet.

“Lovely Jubbley, why don’t we get inside? It’s a bit nippy out here innit?” he held the door open for Vinyl.

“Lovely what?” She wasn’t very familiar with the phrases and slang used in Trottingham. The expression he had used was most certainly a new one in her book.

“Nevermind that. Come on inside.” He motioned her with a hoof to go inside. Vinyl shrugged and pushed her deck through the open door.

The inside of the pawn shop fared no better than the outside. If there was some kind of order in which the items were arranged around the place she couldn’t see it. An assortment of all kinds of items took up every single available space and Vinyl wondered who in Canterlot would possibly be interested in a deep sea diving suit when she spotted it resting against a wall.

“So you would like to sell your….thingie. Uhm…you didn’t per chance find it just lying on the back of a carriage I hope?”

“Huh? No, no. It’s mine and I want to sell it before I leave town.” It was best in Vinyl’s opinion to give him a good story instead of telling him the truth that she just needed money for something else.

“Ah right. So…wot’s this thing do?” he asked friendly and carefully inspected the deck.

Vinyl began listing off its features and possibilities. It soon became obvious that the stallion didn’t understand any of the things she was telling him.

“Why didn’t you try one of them music places?” he asked after she had lied about the deck’s ability to make coffee.

“Well none of them are refined enough to truly appreciate the quality of this piece of equipment.” Vinyl lied and hoped the stallion would fall for her flattery of his business. Seeing the glint in his eyes she knew that she had him on the hook.

“That sounds about right. Tell you what, I’ll give you one hundred bits for it.” He said and ran a hoof over the deck’s frame.

“One thousand.” Vinyl’s response caused him to retract his hoof from the frame and clutch it in front of his chest.

“Cor blimey! Why don’t you take my entire leg while you’re at it?” he said with obviously mock outrage. “Ok, two hundred.”

“Nine fifty.”

They continued their haggling for a few minutes. Vinyl remained calm throughout, even when the stallion decided to give her a sob story about his mother on her deathbed telling him never to pay too much for any kind of musical equipment. It didn’t take a genius to see through the blatant lie.

Vinyl left the pawn shop with a heavy heart for having to sell her deck, but at the same time she was now seven hundred bits richer. That gave her enough to pay for the cello’s repair and left her with plenty of bits to get her through a couple of months while looking for a job.

Inside the stallion ran a hoof over the deck again. In his mind he suddenly saw the opportunity of expanding his business into the musical genre. He turned towards an open door leading to the back of the building.

Inside a lanky very bored looking stallion was listening to something an older stallion with a huge white bushy beard was telling him.

“Rodney? Stop listening to your uncle’s naval stories and give me a hoof here.”

A moment later the lanky stallion came lurching into the front area casting a doubtful glance at the deck.

“Del? What’s that?” he asked and stepped up closer for a better look.

“This, dear brother, is our ticket to fame and glory. As soon as you figure out how to use it and make music that is.”

The lanky stallion rolled his eyes at another doomed from the start harebrained ideas his brother had come up with.

“Don’t ya see?” The short stallion ignored his brother’s theatrics. “This time next year, we’ll be millionaires.”


Vinyl trotted the way back to her home. The warm summer night was pleasant and the air had a refreshing breeze to it. She wasn’t too worried about other ponies, even though she was carrying a small fortune around with her. Canterlot had a very low crime rate, the biggest offence usually being a case of theft every now and again. Muggings or acts of violence were very rare, even in the more dubious areas of the city.

Undisturbed she arrived at her home and soon after crashed on her couch. The entire day had been stressful and energy consuming. The act of moving a few feet further towards her bed was already too much for her and she fell into a deep sleep.

A loud growl woke her up the next morning. Startled she flicked her ears about trying to locate the source of the noise. She soon became aware of the pit in her stomach after it growled again. Her last meal had been a few slices of toast yesterday.

With a loud yawn she got up from the couch and trudged over to the small kitchen area. It seemed as if her diet would once again consist of toast, as the rest of her supplies were non-existent. A large number of slices later she felt better and decided to shower first before she would head out to Stallivari’s.

The streets were packed with ponies and Vinyl shuffled along with them slowly making her way towards her destination. Some ponies gave her curious looks, but none dared talk to her and quickly looked away when she returned the look. Vinyl was used to it and it didn’t bother her anymore. At least the bright sunny weather justified her wearing sunglasses and she even spotted a few others wearing sunglasses of their own.

When she was only a few shops away from Stallivari’s she recognized a familiar shape. Octavia Philharmonica had just left the music shop, no doubt having enquired about her cello. She looked a lot less refined and noble since the last time Vinyl had seen her. The black mane was a mess, her tail the same. Even her bowtie was crooked and slightly undone.

Vinyl tried budging past the ponies in front of her, perhaps she could talk to the mare and apologize face to face. She watched as the cellist nervously paced about on the sidewalk, seemingly unsure of what to do next. A nearby taxi carriage stopped beside her asking her if she needed a lift somewhere. To Vinyl’s dismay she did indeed enter the carriage, taking away the chance of talking to her.

Vinyl watched as the carriage drove past her and tried calling out to the passenger inside. Octavia didn’t hear her and stared blankly ahead. What caused Vinyl to wince with guilt were the eyes of the mare. Even with her sunglasses on and at the distance between them, Vinyl could easily see that Octavia’s eyes had deep rings under them and were red from crying most likely.

Vinyl watched the carriage move away. Her ears folded down with the knowledge that she had caused another pony such misery. Determined to fix this mess she had created she trotted on to Stallivari’s.

The stallion behind the counter arched an eyebrow in surprise as the white unicorn entered the shop. It was the same stallion from the day before and it was obvious that he had not reckoned with seeing her again.

“I’m back.” Vinyl stated the obvious.

“Indeed.” He patiently waited for Vinyl to open her saddlebags and levitate the bag of bits over to him.

“There you go. One thousand bits for the thing we discussed yesterday.”

As was to be expected the stallion began counting the bits again. Vinyl didn’t say anything and again glanced at the overpriced instruments around the room. After taking his time with counting the bits he finally slid them into a box of his own and shoved the now empty bag towards Vinyl.

“I shall get your receipt, my lady. One moment please.” His attitude had changed after he counted the bits. Now Vinyl was a paying customer and therefore should be treated with the best of manners. Vinyl rolled her eyes at the fakeness of it all, thankfully her sunglasses didn’t let him see it.

“Is it possible that I could leave a note for Octavia?” Vinyl asked as a thought came into her mind.

“Of course! I shall make sure she receives it personally.” He slid Vinyl a small notepad and quill.

Vinyl hesitated at what to write. Should she go to lengths and explain what had happened or just a quick note indicating she had paid for the damages she had caused? In the end she decided to keep it simple in case one of the staff decided to read it.

Sorry about what happened.

Vinyl Scratch

She slid the notepad, quill and written note over to him. As to be expected he stole a quick glance at what she had written.

“When she picks up her cello, I shall pass on your note.” The stallion said and put the note into the folder marked with the cellist’s name. “May I be of any further assistance?”

“No today, thanks.” Vinyl decided it was best to keep up the friendly demeanor, even though the stallion creeped her out a bit with his fake smile.

She left the shop and breathed a sigh of relief. Her conscience was relieved considerably after doing what she thought was the right thing. Now all that was left for her to do was to find a place that would be looking for an aspiring young DJ and make it big in the music scene.

Watch out Equestria, here comes Vinyl Scratch!

Chapter 4

View Online

I really don’t like the cold.

Vinyl’s thoughts in the last few hours seemed to drift back to that simple statement about Canterlot’s weather. There were plenty other topics that she needed to think about, yet somehow the current temperature always popped up to the front of her mind.

She shifted her sitting position around a bit. The grate underneath her would no doubt leave a checkerboard type marking on her flanks, but the warm air wafting up from underneath was worth a few stares later on.

Not that she didn’t receive enough stares before. Especially the staff inside the small café she was sitting in front of gave her plenty of mean looks. They could not do anything about her as she didn’t harass any ponies walking by or doing anything disruptive. Leeching hot air wasn’t a crime so they had to tolerate her being there. She would move to another location soon, but for now she was happy that her hooves slowly had some feeling return to them.

Where had it gone wrong?

That was another of Vinyl’s reoccurring thoughts, but one she actually had an answer for.

She should have left this city. She should have taken her winnings and gone to another place, preferably one a lot warmer than here. And she should have ignored anything to do with cellos.

But she couldn’t. She just had to try and make amends with a pony she didn’t even know for something she had done that she didn’t even remember.

Damn Conscience.

A fat load of luck that entire thing had brought her all those months ago. She had never heard from the cellist ever again or even seen her. Perhaps she had left this city once her cello was fixed. Only Vinyl was seemingly dumb enough to stay behind. All of her lofty plans had backfired so far.

She was going to revolutionize Canterlot’s music scene. Away from the stuffy boring classical stuff and into the modern genres. She had envisioned herself now having her own club and Sapphire Shores would be begging her to be able to perform there. Ponies from all walks in life would flock to her club and dance the night away. She would have hired Neon Lights to clean the restrooms, preferably only with his mane. Even Princess Celestia would come by every now and again and party along with her subjects.

The reality was a lot less glamorous.

Nopony wanted to hire her. There were plenty of clubs around that focused on solo performances, but again they only allowed the classical side to perform. The only ponies that liked the modern stuff were the students. That didn’t help Vinyl however as she wasn’t allowed to perform on university grounds after graduation. All the parties she had DJ’ed for as a student had been without payment and more for the sake of practicing her craft.

One of the first things she had tried to do was to set up her own club, catering to the younger crowd. The cost for the permits to open a business in Canterlot were astronomical. Even with all the prize money she would have barely managed to attain them all and that didn’t even include a building to house the club.

Vinyl had tried getting a smaller job to help her get some Money, in fields that weren’t her specialty. Washing Dishes, mopping floors, rearranging items on shelves, anything. All those job had been taken by a new batch of students and thus they all had turned her down.

She should have taken the few bits she had left by then and go someplace else. Stubborn as she was she decided to stay, thinking that along the road something would pop up. Perhaps it wasn’t stubbornness, but rather stupidity. Maybe even naivety for thinking that things might turn around.

In desperation Vinyl had even tried to apply for a job as an exotic dancer in a risqué club downtown. They laughed at her and had thrown her out. She couldn’t blame them. By that time she had spent three weeks on the streets and her appearance was less than appealing.

She had been thrown out of her home, after failing to pay the rent. The last bits she had were reserved for food and a flimsy blanket she bought for one bit to keep warm at night, or at least warmer than without.

Her last bit had been used five days ago to buy some hay, the last straw of which had been eaten by her yesterday. Her stomach had given up asking for food a while ago, she would have to sneak around the bakeries later at night to see if they were throwing out some more stale bread.

The wisest thing to do would be to contact somepony she knew and get them to help her out and away from here. But without money she had no possibility to even send a letter away. She was stuck here and didn’t know what to do.

Damn cold.

“Miss Scratch?”

Vinyl’s thoughts were abruptly halted by voice next to her. It had been a long time since anypony had even bothered talking to her let alone address her by name. Of course it would just have to be her.

Octavia Philharmonica was smiling politely at her. She was wearing pink boots, a set of pink earmuffs and had a pink scarf tied around her neck just below her pink bowtie. She obviously really liked pink. Another time at another place Vinyl would have called her outfit cute, possibly even adorable. At the moment all she could think about was how nice it would be to not have freezing ears and hooves.

A large black cello case was resting on her back. Of course she would have it with her, the one thing that had started this entire mess.

“Octavia.” Vinyl’s reply was reserved. She wasn’t sure of the intentions of the other mare. Had she seen her and decided to rub her success in her face?

“You remember me.” Octavia’s face lit up.

Are you kidding me?

“How are you?” the cellist enquired politely.

“Totally awesome.” Vinyl would not give her the satisfaction of knowing how things really were. “You have to excuse my looks, parties all the time kinda take their toll.”

“Mhm I bet.” Her smile did not falter. “I have actually tried looking for you.”

“Why?” Vinyl was surprised by that statement.

“Well I… do you mind if we get off the street to talk for a bit? Maybe have something to drink here in this café? Oh, I’m sorry are you waiting for somepony?” she asked and seemed nervous.

“Nah, I’m just enjoying the view.”

“Ah yes, the busy street this time of year is….lovely?” Octavia glanced over the street for a few seconds trying in vain to see some kind of aesthetic appeal. “I have a few minutes to spare, would you care to join me for a hot drink?”

Vinyl was in no position to turn down an offer for something warm in her stomach, so she agreed and followed the cellist inside. The dirty looks form the staff of the café intensified, but diminished somewhat after it was apparent that Vinyl was here with somepony who obviously was not a vagrant. They sat down in a booth with a window.

Vinyl plopped down on the seat and could have groaned in delight of being surrounded by warmth. That no doubt would have caused some questions, so she just smiled instead. Octavia meanwhile set down her large cello case to the side and slid off the first pair of boots from her front hooves. She kept on her scarf and hung the earmuffs around her neck.

“I don’t really like the cold.” She said and nosed open the menu in front of her.

Something we have in common.

A waitress soon arrived to take their order, she did not even glance at Vinyl one time.

“How about some hot chocolate?” Octavia asked to which Vinyl only nodded casually. She was afraid that her tongue would drop out and salivate all over the table at the prospect of having hot chocolate.

Better would be hot chocolate with…

“Two hot chocolates please, with marshmallows, whipped cream and chocolate shavings.” Octavia gave up the order seemingly reading Vinyl’s mind.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The waitress took the order and left the two mares alone. Octavia stared out the window in what seemed to be deep concentration. She was still trying to see the appeal of a busy street in winter.

“So you were looking for me?” Vinyl decided to break the beginning silence, the last thing she wanted was quiet. After being starved of any kind of interaction between ponies she would not let a chance like this slip away, even if it was with a pony whose intentions were still a mystery.

“Ah yes, do you remember the note you left me in Stallivari’s?” Octavia asked with a small smile.

Are you bucking kidding me?

“Yes, I do.” Vinyl’s spoken answer was a lot tamer than what her thoughts had been.

“Well I…” Octavia fiddled with her front hooves nervously. It was apparent that she wasn’t too comfortable with talking to others, something that Vinyl found strange. “I wanted to say thank you.”

“Uh…you’re welcome?”

“No, I… I didn’t think you would do something like that. I may have had the wrong impression about you. Not a lot of ponies would do that.” Octavia gave another nervous smile. She tried making eye contact with the other mare, something that wasn’t easy given the fact that Vinyl still was wearing her sunglasses. The last possession she actually still had.

“Water under the bridge and all that. It was my fault and I fixed it.” Vinyl waved the topic away with a hoof.

“Thank you again. I really mean it.” Octavia seemed sincere, much to Vinyl’s surprise. Her previous encounters with high class ponies had left a somewhat negative opinion in her mind.

The ordered drinks arrived before either of them could say another word. Once again the waitress made a show about not looking at the white unicorn and trotted back to another table.

Vinyl had to pour every ounce of willpower into not diving face first in to the hot drink. She took one careful sip and could have moaned with pleasure at the warm and sweet liquid caressing her taste buds. It was the single most glorious thing she had ever tasted and every fiber in her body demanded more.

A small slurping noise from the mare opposite her broke her near orgasmic experience. Octavia smiled sheepishly at her.

“It’s hot.”

Vinyl was unsure how to react. The small blush forming on the grey mare’s cheeks was unexpected to say the least. A sincere noble refined mare slurping a hot drink wasn’t something she had expected either. The refined part would also have to be reviewed considering that she had a bit of whipped cream on the tip of her nose.

“You got something on your nose.” Vinyl quietly said and stifled a giggle as Octavia’s blush intensified while she wiped the whipped cream away with a napkin.

“Thanks.” Octavia cleared her throat and tried to steer the conversation away from her nose. “So how is the music clubbing scene?”

Vinyl raised an eyebrow at the strange phrasing while taking another sip of her drink. It seemed as if Octavia wasn’t too well informed about Vinyl’s style of music, which was a good thing. It meant she could spin any tale she wanted.

“Busy, busy. Always going from one club to the next. A lot of out of town work lately, so I don’t really have a lot of time to myself.” Lies, all lies but Vinyl would be damned before admitting where she actually was. Even to a seemingly friendly pony like the one in front of her. “How’s your career coming along?”

“I am on the way to an audition right now actually.” Octavia smiled again. “It’s not much, just a part in the orchestra accompanying this year’s Hearth’s Warming Eve pageant.”

That struck Vinyl as very odd. She had heard Octavia play during the contest all those months ago. Even though it wasn’t her taste in music, she could easily see the skill and love that Octavia had for her art. By all right she should be playing in a large orchestra every week and not have to audition for something as banal as a pageant.

“Is that some kind of charity thing? I mean a pony with your skill should be in the Royal Orchestra by now.” Vinyl watched as the other mare’s ears folded back and began again nervously fiddling with her hooves.

“No, I don’t play in the orchestra. I…I actually am still trying to get an audition with them.” Octavia suddenly seemed sad.

“Audition? Hay, I heard you play. I bet you can outplay any other cellist ever. Why don’t you just go up to them and say you want a part?”

“It doesn’t work like that I’m afraid.” Octavia did not explain any further and Vinyl sensed that it wasn’t a topic she should follow anymore.

“I bet that after you wow them with the pageant performance, they’ll come knocking on your door.” It seemed strange that Vinyl would have to give Octavia a pep-talk. She shifted the conversation towards common ground, namely the time in university.


They had finished their hot chocolates and were talking about the questionable quality of the food offered in the university’s canteen when a stallion approached their table.

“I have to ask you kindly to leave.” He informed them and like the waitress before did not give Vinyl a single glance.

“What? Why?” Octavia seemed confused. Perhaps the table was reserved she thought.

“Your….companion is driving away our customers.” He informed her.

“Excuse me?” Octavia’s expression shifted from confusion to Canterlot typical outrage. “We are paying customers, you have no right to expel us from here!”

“Seeing that I am the owner of this café, I indeed have the right to kindly ask you to leave.” The last bit was a very thinly veiled threat of calling the guards if they did not comply. “Other potential customers are driven away by…her. So please, pay and leave without a fuss.”

Octavia was about to start arguing with the owner, when Vinyl cut her off.

“It’s ok. He is right, I do look like a mess right now. Let’s get out of here.” She watched as Octavia continued to glare at the totally unimpressed stallion. With a huff she turned away and took out a few bits from a compartment in her cello case and slammed them on the table.

At least the question of how Vinyl would ask her to pay for her drink had been answered. She watched as the cellist angrily put on her boots and shouldered the heavy case on her back. Vinyl followed her out the door.

“The nerve of that pony.” Octavia’s cheeks were flushed again, but this time not from embarrassment. “This café has most certainly lost a customer today.”

She huffed once more and glared at the staff inside, who ignored her look.

“Forget about it. It’s not worth working yourself up over it.” Vinyl gave the cellist a friendly smile and watched as she let go of her anger. “Thanks for the drink.”

“You’re welcome.” Octavia smiled again and carefully positioned her earmuffs back on her ears. “I have to get going anyway, otherwise I’ll be late for my audition.”

“I bet they’ll give you the part as soon as you walk in the door.” Vinyl encouraged the mare and resisted giving her a pat on the back. She still wasn’t sure about what to think of Octavia. She seemed nice, but so had Neon Lights at the time. And she fully remembered how that had turned out.

“Well, it was nice meeting you.” Octavia smiled again and it seemed genuine. “Take care, Vinyl Scratch.”

“You too.” Vinyl waved her a goodbye and watched her leave. Soon the cellist was out of her view, obscured by ponies walking by on the sidewalk.

The cold started to nip at her again as the effects of the warm café and hot drink were wearing off. Time she started looking for another grate with hot air blowing up to keep herself from freezing solid. Vinyl slowly trotted in the opposite direction that the cellist had taken.

Vinyl groaned a few minutes later as she saw one of the first snowflakes slowly drift down from the sky.

I really don’t like this weather.

Chapter 5

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“Thank you for your performance. We’ll be in touch.”

Octavia had heard that phrase so many times in the last few months that she had lost count. It was nothing more than the polite way of telling her she wasn’t needed and could go home.

The first few times she had stayed and patiently waited for somepony to come back to her and inform her she had been chosen. A dozen times later she realized what it really meant. She didn’t bother hanging around the small conservatorium any longer, unlike some of the other hopeful musicians still waiting to perform.

She was greeted with a surprising sight once she left the building. A thin layer of snow had covered Canterlot and it glistened in the light of the street lights. She didn’t care much for the temperature, but snow was something she always had liked to watch, preferably from the comfort of her cozy home.

The entire ordeal of the audition had taken up most of her day and it was almost evening already. Unwilling to walk back home she waved down a passing taxi carriage. With practiced moves she hefted the heavy case inside and took a seat.

“Where to?” the stallion replied, his voice muffled by a scarf he wore covering his muzzle. Octavia told him the address. “Do you mind if we take a detour through downtown? They have blocked off a couple of roads leading to your place and I don’t really like to stand still for too long in this weather. It’ll probably be even faster than waiting to get through.”

Octavia saw no reason to object. She could understand the stallions desire to keep moving as not to freeze. It wasn’t a job that she envied him for, but then again at least he had a job.

Every single audition she had taken part in had been a failure. She knew it in her heart that it could not be because of her talent. She had heard some of the other cellists play and they were nowhere near her level. Then what was it? She did not demand more money than others, she didn’t demand ridiculous special treatment. She always was polite and friendly, even after they told her she wouldn’t be needed. What was she doing wrong?

Octavia watched the white city pass by while mulling it over again and again.


They were in a part of the city that could be called unsavory. Downtown Canterlot was still reasonably safe for a pony to be in, but it still gave her an uneasy feeling. The stallion pulling the carriage seemingly felt the same as he slightly sped up his pace. Then in the corner of her eye Octavia spotted a familiar figure.

It was Vinyl Scratch, the mare she had shared a hot chocolate with earlier that day and had a pleasant conversation with, in her mind at least. It struck her as odd to see her in this part of the city. Even stranger was the mare’s body language. Her head was bent down low, ears folded back and Octavia thought she could see her sway around with unsteady steps. Perhaps she was drunk like the time in the contest. Still, something about her didn’t seem right to Octavia.

“Stop the carriage please.” She told the driver, who complied and gave her a questioning look.

“Why? This isn’t the best of neighborhoods, Miss. It’s best if we keep moving.”

“I just saw somepony I know. I have to ask if everything is alright.”

“I’d feel better if you didn’t leave the carriage. Perhaps you were mistaken?” The stallion asked hoping to soon get moving again.

“Can you stay here for a few minutes?” she asked, but saw the look on his face. “I have a very valuable cello here. I’ll leave it in your care as assurance that I will return.”

That seemed to do the trick and the stallion nodded.

“If you don’t mind, I’ll move along the road a bit to keep warm. If there is trouble just yell and I’ll come running.” He informed and waited for Octavia to step out of the carriage. She seemed like a nice pony and he would hate to see anything happen to her.

“I’ll be fine, thank you.” She didn’t wait for a reply and turned to where she had seen Vinyl Scratch.

The sidewalk was empty and nopony was to be seen along the entire road. Perhaps the unicorn lived around here and was just heading home? Octavia felt the need to make sure and crossed the road. A fresh set of hoofprints could be seen. Luckily the snow had stopped falling for the moment, otherwise the tracks may have been covered quickly.

Octavia followed them for a few meters. The only sounds echoing down the road were her own hoofsteps and the noises from the carriage moving along the road further down. She paused as the set of tracks led into a dark alleyway.

Something still felt strange and she decided to investigate further. Drawing a deep breath she moved along the alleyway, carefully trying to keep her steps as quiet as possible. She heard a muffled groan from further down and stopped in mid-movement. When she was sure that nothing would leap out at her she continued along.

The tracks were barely visible, but of what she could see of them was enough to tell her that they led to a large cardboard box leaning against a wall. Very carefully she walked up to the box and peeked around the edge.

Inside was a blanket and underneath a pony shaped object. The inhabitant stirred and groaned once more. It was a feminine voice and Octavia had a suspicion just who was lying underneath.

“Excuse me?”

Octavia’s softly spoken enquiry had unexpected results. Vinyl Scratch bolted upright in surprise, in the process her horn pierced the top of the cardboard box. Octavia herself jumped back at the sudden movement.

Vinyl tugged her horn out from the cardboard and moaned.

“Oh great, now it’s going to snow inside.” She turned to the cause of her sudden scare. “O…Octavia? What are you doing here?”

The cellist collected herself from her own shock and stepped closer.

“I saw you walking on the sidewalk and wanted to see if everything is ok.” She glanced inside the cardboard box and saw a few empty wrappers. “What are you doing here?”

“I…uhm…” Vinyl wasn’t prepared for any nosy ponies, so she came up on the spot with a hopefully decent excuse. “I forgot my keys and bits in my place. Locked myself out of my own home, would you believe it? Hehe.”

“Isn’t there a manager you can ask?” Octavia asked and seemed more confused than suspicious. Vinyl hoped she would buy her story and leave.

“He isn’t there today, just my luck.” Vinyl rubbed the back of her head with a hoof. “So I’ll just sleep here this evening and get back inside tomorrow morning when he is back.”

“What? No!” Octavia stepped a bit closer to the unicorn and put a hoof on her shoulder. “You can’t stay here! It’s cold and all you have is a thin blanket and some beaten up cardboard box as a shelter.”

“Ain’t so bad. At least it has a skylight now.” Vinyl cast a glance over to her current home.

“This isn’t a joking matter!” Octavia most certainly did not see any humor in this. The tone of her voice was very serious, but softened when she continued. “Listen, I have a guest room back at my place. Why don’t you come with me?”

“Why would you do that?” Vinyl’s suspicions were back. She had heard of ponies being lured into homes under false promises and had bad things happens to them. Not that Octavia seemed the type to do such a thing, but better safe than sorry.

“Because I cannot in good conscience leave somepony I know to freeze to death in their sleep!” Octavia softly nudged Vinyl with her hoof on the shoulder, as if to shake some sense into the unicorn. “Please?”

“Ok.” Vinyl didn’t really have much of a choice in the matter. She had a feeling that Octavia was the type to not give up until she had convinced the unicorn to come along. By giving in to her offer she saved them both some time.

Besides, the idea of being able to sleep in a warm bed was too good to simply let pass by. Vinyl had not been feeling to well since that afternoon and a good night’s sleep would most certainly help her feel better.

Octavia gave her a relieved smile and turned towards the road beyond the alleyway. She paused to make sure that Vinyl followed her before going on.

Luck was on their side as the carriage was just about to pass them. The stallion skidded to a halt and seemed relieved that his passenger was ok. The presence of the other mare surprised him, but he didn’t comment on it. He was just happy to get to his destination and away from this part of town.

Vinyl purposefully sat pressed against the side of the carriage to give Octavia her space. She most certainly did not want to invade her personal space. No doubt her smell would be doing that for her anyway. To her surprise Octavia scooted a bit closer and untied her scarf, which she then hoofed over to Vinyl.

“You’re cold. Take it.”

Vinyl didn’t have to be asked twice and quickly wrapped the fabric around her neck. She almost leaned further towards Octavia in hopes to leech some of her body heat. As she had no idea how the mare might react and not willing to risk being kicked back out she stayed where she was.


The ride to Octavia’s home was spent in silence.

Vinyl had conflicting emotions all the way there. On one side she couldn’t feel that Octavia might after all be playing some kind of cruel joke on her. Maybe lure her to her home and show off her luxury only to kick Vinyl back on to the streets with a cruel laugh. On the other side Vinyl was disgusted that she thought so little of a mare who seemed to just be concerned for her wellbeing.

Had she become so distrustful of others that she couldn’t even see if they were genuinely nice to her? She shoved the thoughts aside as the carriage pulled to a stop.

Vinyl corrected her assessment of Octavia’s wealth upwards on her scale. This wasn’t some medium nice little house. This was one of the most expensive apartment blocks in all of Canterlot.

It wasn’t a mansion like the ones in the noblest of noble quarters, but it came rather close. Vinyl guessed that it made sense for a pony who lived alone to rather have an apartment than a huge house. A thought just occurred to her that she didn’t even know if Octavia was alone. For all she knew up until this point, she might be married or have a coltfriend.

That was most certainly going to be answered sooner than later. Vinyl followed Octavia, after she had paid the driver, towards the five story building.

The doors opened by themselves as they approached them. Octavia greeted what Vinyl assumed to be the night porter sitting behind the desk. The lanky stallion just stared at the unicorn with a frown. Vinyl decided not to say or do anything and just kept walking behind Octavia.

Thankfully they would not have to use the stairs as the building had an elevator. With a soft “Ding” the doors slid open and Vinyl followed Octavia inside. She cringed at the fact that there were mirrors on the walls.

Vinyl hadn’t seen her reflection for quite some time and it came as a shock to her to see what she looked like. Her mane was a complete mess, more than usual at least. Her formerly white coat was nearly beige with dirt. The biggest shock was to see just how much weight she must have lost. Her bones were clearly visible underneath her coat. She closed her eyes to not see her reflection any longer. Deep down she suddenly knew that she had to desperately try and turn her life around otherwise it wouldn’t last much longer.

Another soft “Ding” signaled the arrival on their floor. Vinyl cast a quick glance to the number of the floor they were on. Floor five, the top of the building. No doubt it must cost a small fortune to live so high up here.

Octavia trotted up to a door to the right, room 501, and unlocked it with a key she took from her cello case. She opened it and walked inside, flipping a light switch and holding the door open for Vinyl to enter.

“Excuse the mess.” Octavia apologized and closed the door after Vinyl had come in.

Vinyl had misjudged the cellist once again. She had thought her home would be full of antiques and family portraits hanging on every wall. A clichéd home straight out of a fairytale book.

Instead it was surprisingly modern. A black L-shaped couch dominated the living room just beyond the small entrance area. A white coffee table in front of it. The carpet in the room was a deep blue and the walls painted white. Where Vinyl would have assumed to see a fireplace there was a large projector screen. On the opposite wall she saw the projector standing on a small sideboard.

The only thing coming close to a family portrait or antiques were several smaller stone statues, most of them ponies heads, that were dotted around the room. Large windows took up one of the walls. One door on each side of the projector screen and another door led to another hallway on the side where the actual projector was.

Octavia hadn’t been kidding about the mess. A small stack of plates was piling up on the coffee table, next to them a large number of empty juice boxes were slowly taking over every last bit of space on the table. A large pile of magazines sat on one end of the couch. It wasn’t dirty, just rather untidy and something Vinyl had not seen coming from a mare who by definition should freak out at the slightest bit of mess. Or so she had thought up until now.

Acutely aware of just how dirty she was, Vinyl tried to make as little contact with the floor as possible and followed Octavia further into her home by tip-hoofing along.

“I’ll give you a proper tour later. Perhaps you would like to have a bath or a shower to warm up first?” Octavia asked and led Vinyl past the massive couch towards the hallway beyond. It was a polite way of telling her to get cleaned up, Vinyl thought and had to agree. The idea of hot water really appealed to her right then and there.

As they walked along the hallway Vinyl cast a look at the open doors they passed. To her right was the kitchen, again looking rather modern and state of the art. The kitchen sink had another fair share of various dishes piling up inside.

To Vinyl’s left was the bathroom. All white tiles with a few black highlights. The huge bathtub seemed to call out to her as they passed the room. Next to the bathroom was a laundry room. What caught Vinyl’s eye was the mountain of white collars and pink bowties piling up to the side of one of the hampers.

Octavia stopped in front of the last door on the right and put down the cello she still had been carrying.

“This is my room.” Octavia informed the other mare. “And this is the guest room.”

Octavia opened the door opposite hers and let Vinyl have a quick look inside. Her first impulse was to dive into the large two-pony bed and bury herself under the covers. It looked more than just inviting, but the sirens call of the bathtub overrode her first impulse.

“I have some lasagna left over from yesterday. It’s enough for two if you feel hungry.” Octavia offered and led Vinyl back towards the bathroom.

“Sounds great.” Vinyl gave the other mare a thankful smile.

“Great. I’ll warm it up while you warm up in here. You’ll find towels in the cupboard to your right when you enter.” Octavia left her standing there and trotted towards into the kitchen.


Vinyl didn’t waste any time. She closed the door behind her just in case and found the towels where they were supposed to be. She used her magic to levitate it out, so as to not touch anything with her dirty hooves.

A debate raged inside her head if she should take a bath or just have a shower. She would have loved to just lay in a hot bath, but in her current state it would most likely turn into a mudbath. So she opted for a shower instead. The use of her magic had left her a bit lightheaded and she shook it to clear her mind. That just made it worse.

A shower will make me feel better.

A delighted groan left her mouth as the first streams of hot water hit her face. She hoped Octavia had not heard it. This was even better than the hot chocolate and Vinyl closed her eyes to just blissfully enjoy the filth wash away from her face.

She bent her head down to let the water wash over her neck and back. The sight of the brown water rushing down the drain nearly made her retch. Strangely enough she still felt cold and turned up the dial for more hot water.

A couple of bottles of shampoo and soap stood on the edge of the bathtub. Vinyl didn’t bother reading them and just grabbed the first one with her magic. A wave of dizziness washed over her.

“No more magic for now.” she said quietly to herself.

Feverishly she began scrubbing the dirt and grime from her body. She didn’t stop until the water running off her down the drain was clear. The feeling of being clean was the best feeling she had had in a long time.

Vinyl shut off the water once she felt that all dirt had been purged from her being. She began shivering, but assumed that it was just because of the hot water missing. Then the dizziness came back even though she had not used any magic.

Something is wrong.

Her vision narrowed suddenly as the dizziness intensified, the edges of her vision slowly turning black. Her breathing became heavy as she managed to climb halfway out of the bathtub.

Something is really wrong. Help.

“Help.” Vinyl had wanted to shout her need for aid, but just managed to croak it out at normal level.

The world suddenly tilted sideways, the last thing she saw was the white tiles rushing up to meet her. Thankfully she had lost consciousness before hitting the floor.


Octavia perked her ears up.

For a moment she had thought that her guest had said something. She had taken the time that Vinyl was in the shower to get rid of the pile of dishes in the sink and put them into the dishwasher underneath. She had then portioned the rest of the lasagna into two even helpings and waited for the unicorn to finish in the bathroom, before heating them up in the oven.

A wet thud reached her ears and Octavia was suddenly worried. She left the kitchen and politely knocked on the bathroom door.

“Miss Scratch, are you ok?” she asked and strained to hear anything going on inside.

“Miss Scratch?” Octavia knocked with more force and waited for any sign that her guest was ok. “Vinyl?”

A feeling in her stomach told her that something was wrong. The fact that only silence emanated from the bathroom solidified her fears. Without waiting for another moment, Octavia tried opening the door. It was locked to her dismay.

She spun around and gave the door one powerful kick with her hind leg. Years of lugging a large heavy cello had given her more strength than ponies might have assumed she had in her small frame. The flimsy lock gave way instantly and the door slammed open into the wall.

Octavia felt her heart beating in her throat when she saw the unmoving form of the unicorn lying in a puddle of water.


Chapter 6

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Octavia didn’t waste a single second and rushed up to the prone pony.

She slipped on the wet tiles briefly, but managed to keep herself from falling flat on her face. Feverishly she shook the form of Vinyl Scratch with a hoof.

“Vinyl? Can you hear me? VINYL?!”

The unicorn didn’t respond to Octavia’s pleas. The cellist was fearing the worst by this point and pressed her head against the wet mare’s chest. She heard a faint heartbeat through the blood rushing in her own ears and felt the chest move as air rushed in.

Breathing. Heartbeat. Alive. Get help.

Octavia noticed that Vinyl was shivering all over. It wasn’t cold in here, far from it in fact. She always made sure that her home was nice and cozy warm when the weather got colder. The bathroom was even warmer thanks to Vinyl’s use of vast amounts of hot water and felt almost like a sauna. Was that it maybe? The sudden change in temperature had caused her to faint? Or maybe she had slipped on the wet tiles.


The thought snapped Octavia out of her musings. The reason why Vinyl had collapsed wasn’t important. The only thing that mattered was to find somepony to help her.

With surprising speed Octavia bolted out the bathroom and made her way to the front door. She didn’t bother going around the large couch and instead just jumped on top of it, using the springs inside as a springboard. The sudden impact caused the miniature mountain of magazines to collapse. Octavia didn’t care about the tiny paper avalanche cascading onto her floor, the only thing on her mind was reaching the device next to her front door. She was going too fast at this point and couldn’t stop in time without crashing. She turned as best she could as to not hit the sturdy front door head on. Her earthpony genes made her sturdier than her small frame would lead on, but the impact against the door with her side still hurt.

Octavia didn’t even bother to wince and jabbed a hoof at the big red button on the intercom next to her door.

Living in Canterlot’s higher end areas had its perks, even though it cost a small fortune. Intercoms running on magic were nice, having a twenty-four hour porter on hoof was better, a direct line from the porter to the nearest hospital was priceless.

A small crackling sound could be heard from the speaker and a second later the night porters voice could be heard.

“Yes? How can I be of assistance?”

“This is Octavia Philharmonica in room 501. There is a medical emergency here and I need a doctor as fast as possible!” Octavia spoke fast and hoped the porter had heard everything she had said.

“Understood!” The reply went unheard by the mare as she raced back to the bathroom.

She tore open the cupboard and grabbed as many dry towels she could. Carefully she soaked the puddle up around Vinyl’s shivering form and dried her off without disturbing her too much. She remembered not moving another hurt pony unless sure of the injuries or if immediate danger was present. The wet towels were discarded into the empty bathtub.

Once she had dried off the areas she could reach, Octavia piled dry towels onto the mare in hopes of keeping her warm. She very carefully slid another towel under Vinyl’s head. Her mind went blank at what to do next, when a knock on her front door resolved her of her problem.

“Help is coming.” She said to Vinyl and again tore at high speed to the front door, this time slowing down in advance as to not crash into it again.

Opening the door revealed two ponies dressed in bright orange and white outfits identifying them as part of Canterlot’s Emergency Medical Technicians. One was a light green unicorn mare with a black mane and tail, the other was an aquamarine pegasus stallion with dark green mane and tail. Their fast arrival was most likely due to the unicorn teleporting them here.

“You have a medical emergency, ma’am?” the unicorn asked.

“In the bathroom! This way!” Octavia led the way, closely followed by the EMT’s. On arrival they wasted no time to tend to the unconscious mare on the floor. The Pegasus carefully lifted the towels back off Vinyl, while the unicorn took off her saddlebags and began unpacking her first aid kit.

“Can you tell me what happened, ma’am?” the unicorn asked while very carefully casting a spell on Vinyl.

“I was in the kitchen when I heard a noise from in here. I tried to talk to her, but didn’t receive any answer. Then I kicked the door open and found her lying there.” Octavia reported what had happened with a shaky voice. The events were beginning to settle in and she visibly blanched as she watched the EMT’s working on Vinyl. “She….she may have been out in the cold all day. I am not sure.”

“She needs to get off these tiles. Do you have a bed where we can put her?” The unicorns voice was calm and in control. Neither one of them seemed to be worried or scared. The exact opposite of what Octavia was feeling right now. No doubt they had responded to enough emergencies in their time and this was just another day at work for them.

“Down the hallway to the left.” Octavia made way for the stallion as he followed her instructions and entered the guest room.

The mare followed him carefully with Vinyl in her magical grasp. The sight of the limp form hanging in mid-air sent chills down Octavia’s spine. She watched as she floated through the hallway and finally being set down on the large bed. The stallion had used the time to fetch his colleague’s saddlebags and rejoined her in the room.

“Please wait outside, ma’am. If we need you we will call for you.” With those words the stallion closed the door in Octavia’s face. Still under a certain amount of shock, Octavia fell onto her haunches and just stared at the closed door.


Fifteen minutes passed until the door finally opened again.

Octavia had gone through numerous scenarios in her mind of what was going on. They ranged from relatively harmless situations with Vinyl simply being drunk again, all the way up to horrific thoughts that she was in her death-throes.

The pegasus stallion left the room first and simply nodded to Octavia as he passed her. She used the moment to look past him into the room. Vinyl was lying in the bed and was seemingly fast asleep. The other EMT walked out the door and closed it behind her, once again obscuring Octavia’s view.

“How is she?” Octavia asked, her voice only a whisper.

The unicorn EMT led her into the living room area before answering her.

“She has a minor case of hypothermia. Keeping her warm will be enough to counter its effects. The major issue is her severe malnutrition. Especially for unicorns that can soon escalate into more serious problems. My guess is she used magic.”

The EMT noted Octavia’s confused expression and lack of a horn. For her benefit she expanded her report.

“Unicorns need a certain amount of energy that their bodies provide to summon their actual magical abilities. If their body doesn’t have enough energy reserves, using magic can have very adverse effects on them. She was lucky that she just fainted. I have scanned her as best to my abilities and could not find any damage done, apart from the malnutrition of course.”

The EMT turned even more serious as she continued her report.

“I am guessing she has not been eating properly for a few months. Now I am aware that some young mares find it necessary to hunger themselves down to ridiculous sizes, as to look more like a model in one of those fashion magazines.” She told Octavia this with the hope that the cellist wouldn’t follow a similar path. The grey earthpony didn’t look like she was on some inane quest to become super thin, but the EMT didn’t want to take chances.

“It’s bad, it’s unhealthy. For unicorns it can become life threatening very fast. For your friend’s sake try and get some fat back on her bones. Otherwise it will end badly.”

Octavia simply nodded and mentally digested the information. She was about to protest out of reflex that Vinyl wasn’t her friend, she didn’t even know anything about her, but held her tongue as not to cause any suspicions.

“I have left some medicine on the bedside table. It will help her regain some of her energy. It is not a substitute for a decent meal, remember that. It’s side-effect is that it will make her sleep for some time, so do not give her more than one dose per day. Make sure she takes one tomorrow morning again and then in the evening. After that she should take a dose before going to bed.”

Octavia went through the instruction once more in her mind, while the two EMTs filled out what seemed like a report. They asked for the patient’s name which Octavia provided.

“Is this her residence?” the mare asked.

“No, I don’t know her address.” Octavia blurted out without thinking. She quickly added some more information to explain. “We only just met today again after being out of touch for a few months. She never got around to tell me where she was now living.”

“Well….do you want us to arrange a transport into the hospital for her?”

“She isn’t in any critical condition is she?” Octavia answered the EMT’s question with her own.

“No, as long as she rests up and eats properly without using her magic for a while, she’ll be fine.” The EMT explained and shifted about seemingly uncomfortable. She never liked this part of what she was about to ask. “It’s just that we need an address for the medical bill.”

“Send it here. I can forward it to her later.” Octavia offered and the EMT noted it down. They then left without another word and left Octavia alone in her suddenly eerily quiet home.


Octavia walked back to the guest room, ignoring the mess she passed. It wasn’t important and she quite frankly did not have the energy anymore to do something about it. The events had taken more out of her than she had thought.

She opened the door to the guest room and peeked inside. Vinyl Scratch was fast asleep on one side of the large bed. Her white coat and blue mane a stark contrast to the dark grey bed sheets. She seemed peaceful, which Octavia envied her for. Peaceful was the last word she would have used to describe her feelings right now.

She was worried, she was angry and she was frightened.

Worried, because her guest was not in the best of health. Angry, because Vinyl had brought this on by her own choice if the EMT was correct. And she was frightened, because of what might happen if Vinyl continued doing what she had done before.

Vinyl seemed like a nice pony. The talk they had in the café was pleasant and she had paid for Octavia’s cello. She didn’t seem like a pony obsessed with fashion and appearances, at least judging by the state she had been in when they met. Then again Octavia hardly knew her.

With surprise Octavia noticed that Vinyl wasn’t wearing her sunglasses. She had definitely had them on while lying on the bathroom floor. She guessed that the EMTs had removed them. One quick glance about the room confirmed her thoughts, as she saw them resting on the bedside table.

Strange that she would wear them while showering, but maybe they were prescription glasses. Octavia shrugged and walked a bit closer to the bed to see her guest’s face for the first time. She had to admit that Vinyl would profit from some more meat on her bones. Her jawbones were very prominently visible. But even in her current state she was an attractive mare. She wondered what Vinyl’s eye color was. It was a shame she hid her features behind those ugly sunglasses.

Octavia yawned widely. The last of her adrenalin rush had trickled away and she felt too tired to muse about her guest any further. She left the room and flicked off the light switch. Then she remembered the lasagna she had prepared and trotted into the kitchen to put them in the refrigerator. Food could wait until morning, now she just wanted sleep.

As a precautionary measure she left both the guest room and her bedroom’s door open in case Vinyl needed some assistance. Octavia flopped into her bed and soon drifted off into a dreamless sleep.


A groan woke Octavia up with a start. Years of living by herself made her jump at the slightest foreign sound.

She rapidly blinked the sleep from her eyes and glanced over to the clock on her bedside table. It was 7:30 in the morning. It took a while for yesterday’s events to come flooding back into her mind. A pale blue light briefly flickered from beyond her open door. Octavia scrambled out of bed as fast as she could as she remembered what the EMT had told her.

“Vinyl! Don’t use magic!” she yelled and ran towards the guest room.

Vinyl was sitting in bed clutching her head in pain and groaning again.

“What’s wrong?” Octavia asked and trotted up to the bed.

“Glasses…” Vinyl mumbled and winced at the throbbing in her head. Octavia circled around the bed to Vinyl’s side and saw the sunglasses on the floor. She carefully picked them up and hoofed them to the unicorn.

Vinyl kept her eyes shut and fumbled around with the glasses for a moment, before finally slipping them back on her face.

“Th…thanks. What happened?”

“You fell unconscious in my bathroom due to a slight case of hypothermia and malnutrition.” Octavia recited the diagnosis.

“Did you study medicine or something?” Vinyl asked surprised at the rather detailed description of her predicament.

“I called the EMTs when I found you on the floor. Even had to kick the door in to get to you.” Octavia spoke softly as to not aggravate the unicorn’s apparent headache.

“What? Oh crap, sorry.” Vinyl scooted to the edge of the bed and attempted to get out. “I’m really really sorry for all the trouble. I’ll just get out of your mane.”

“What? No, you can’t leave. You’re not well!” Octavia protested at Vinyl’s attempt to leave. Despite her protests Vinyl got out of bed and stood on wobbly legs.

“Nah, I’m fine. I’ll take it slow and be back…in…” Vinyl’s front legs gave way as the room started spinning.

Octavia caught her with a front leg. She was alarmed at how little the unicorn weighed. It was considerably less than her cello, maybe even somewhere around what a filly would weigh. Octavia held her for a moment and spoke her next words very clearly.

“You. Are. Not. Well. It’s no trouble if you stay here for a while and recover.” Octavia shot a glance out the window and saw that during the night a lot of snow had fallen over the city. “I won’t let you go outside in your condition and that is final.”

Vinyl also glanced over to the window. The prospect of trying to find warmth out there wasn’t very appealing. The way she felt at the moment, she highly doubted to even survive one day.

“Yeah, ok. I’ll stay for a bit.” She finally said and tried to stand on her own legs again. They buckled the instant she put her laughable small weight on them. Octavia caught her again with ease and carefully helped her back into bed.

“I’ll get you something to drink for your medicine.” Octavia left Vinyl alone for the moment. Vinyl felt bad and not only due to her physical condition.

Now she was becoming a burden for the other mare, something she didn’t want to be. She was smart enough to realize that she needed help, badly. Octavia seemed to offer it freely, but Vinyl vowed to try and repay her somehow. For now all she could do was rest.

The cellist soon returned with a glass of water that she set down on the bedside table. She carefully picked up a small bag of medicine that the EMTs had left and opened it. The powder dissolved rapidly as she emptied it into the glass.

Since Vinyl had not enough strength left to even lift a glass, Octavia helped her with that as well. The unicorn scrunched up her nose at the bitter taste of the liquid and thanked the cellist turned nurse.

“You’re welcome. Now just rest for the moment.” Octavia gave her a friendly smile. “It will help you sleep the doctor said. Listen I have to go out and take care of some things soon. If you wake up and I am not there, please do not try and use magic. I won’t be gone for long.”

Vinyl simply nodded in understanding. Octavia nodded as well and trotted out the room, leaving Vinyl to her thoughts. She didn’t have a lot of time to contemplate her current predicament as the medicine took hold on her very fast. Soon she was fast asleep once more.

Octavia prepared herself some tea in the kitchen. She thought about what she would have to do. The first item on her list was to buy groceries. She was running low anyway and for the time being she would also have to cater for Vinyl. Silently she vowed to get Vinyl to eat some decent meals for the time she was here, force-feed her if necessary.

It occurred to her that Vinyl might not be the only one to require food. What if she had a pet that needed her? Octavia trotted back into the guest room to ask Vinyl where she lived and if there was anything she needed taken care of. Unfortunately the unicorn was already asleep.

The sensible option would be to wait until Vinyl woke up and could answer her. On the other hoof that might mean that something could happen to a potential pet of hers. What if she forgot to turn on the heating in her place?

Octavia guessed that one of the buildings next to the alleyway where she had found Vinyl was her home. So she would simply have to go there and ask if somepony could tell her what she needed to know. With a plan set, Octavia drank her tea and prepared to face the snow outside.


Dressed up in her pink scarf, earmuffs, boots and saddlebags she exited her apartment block. The snow had been cleared from the path, as was to be expected if one lived in the more luxurious areas of Canterlot.

The missing weight of her cello was noticeable. She barely left her home except for auditions or buying food. Usually she combined one with the other. She didn’t have any more auditions scheduled this year, but that wasn’t the main issue at hoof right now anyway.

It took a moment of waiting until a taxi carriage showed up. Octavia thanked her luck as it just so happened to be the same stallion from yesterday pulling it. That at least meant she would not have to search the entire downtown area in hopes of identifying a dark alleyway.

“Good Morning, Miss. Where can I take you?”

“Do you remember where you waited for me downtown? I need to go back there again.”

The stallion gave her a curious look, but didn’t say anything. Once she was onboard he set the carriage in motion. Octavia watched the snow covered city pass by once again. At this early hour not too many ponies were out and about. She saw a couple of foals play in the snow building a snowpony. As hard as she tried she couldn’t remember the last time she had done that.

After a lengthy journey they arrived at the location from the night before. She recognized the alleyway immediately, in the light of day it was far less scary. Snow piled high in it and she shuddered at the thought that Vinyl could have been buried under all of it.

“Should I wait for you again, Miss?” the driver asked.

“No, that will not be necessary. Thank you.” Octavia paid her fare and exited the carriage. The buildings next to the alleyway had nothing worth noticing. They weren’t run down or dirty, just very plain. She decided to investigate the multistory building to the right first.

A quick inspection of the names of the mailboxes left her none the wiser. Most names were scribbled unintelligibly and Octavia gave up trying to decipher the writing. Instead she ventured inside in hopes of finding somepony to talk to.

The interior of the building was just as plain as the outside. She had heard stories of hoodlums running amok in the downtown areas of cities, vandalizing hordes destroying property out of spite and boredom. Being here she didn’t see anything of that nature. If anything it was just boring.

The door leading to the manager’s office was open and Octavia made her way there. She politely knocked on the doorframe to gain the attention of the manager inside sitting at a desk. He glanced up from the newspaper he was reading and eyed her curiously.

“Can I help you?” he was genuinely puzzled by her being there. It was very obvious that she wasn’t from here.

“I was hoping you might be able to help me. You see I am looking for the home of somepony that I believe lives around these parts.” She smiled and trotted a bit further into his office.

“Who are you looking for?” he asked and leaned back in his chair.

“Her name is Vinyl Scratch and I…” Octavia’s request was cut off as the stallion began laughing.

“Well that’s a name I didn’t reckon to hear anytime soon again.”

“So you know her?” Octavia smiled at her good fortune. The very first pony she had talked to knew Vinyl. “Do you also know where she lives?”

“Yeah, I know her. Where she lives? No idea. I kicked her out a couple of months ago.” He explained and shrugged his shoulders.

Octavia was slightly taken aback by his casual attitude about evicting a pony from her home.

“Why would you evict her?” her smile had vanished.

“She couldn’t pay her rent. It’s a simple as that. I don’t have anything against her, far from it. She was one of the more pleasant tenants that I had living here. Never made a mess, didn’t have wild parties or loud music running. It’s just business.”

Octavia tried to wrap her head around the things she had just learned about her guest at home. The stallion took her silence as a cue to ask a question of his own.

“You here to pick up her stuff?”


“Yeah, you know. Personal belongings and whatnot. Or at least what’s left of them after I sold some of it to compensate for the rent she owed me.”

“You sold her personal belongings?” Octavia felt outrage building up inside her.

“Don’t get your tail in a twist. Just things like picture frames, headphones and stuff. All her pictures and documents I kept. If you hadn’t come along I most likely would have thrown them out in a couple of weeks.” He ignored the angry glare from the mare.

“So do you want them? Guess she won’t come back to pick them up. Might as well give them to you.”

“Very well. I shall take them to her.” Octavia swallowed some of her rage. It wouldn’t serve any purpose to chastise the stallion for basically just looking out of his business.

“That’ll be one hundred bits.” He replied and smiled a greasy smile.

“One hundred bits for her PERSONAL belongings? Are you mad?” the anger was back tenfold.

“Now I am not charging you for her stuff. I am charging you for the safekeeping of them.” His smile never wavered.

Octavia bit back a few choice words of her own. Antagonizing the stallion might mean she would not be able to acquire Vinyl’s things and possibly never have the chance to do so again. Vinyl was in no shape to collect them herself, so Octavia tried her best to relax and be calm.

“Fine.” She growled as calmly as possible. She counted off the money he demanded and hoofed it over to him. He thanked her and opened a door behind him to disappear and leaving the mare alone with her anger.

After a moment he returned with a medium sized box and dropped it on the table. Wordlessly Octavia heaved it onto her back all the while glaring at the stallion.

“Tell Vinyl I said Hi.” He laughed as she walked out the door. Octavia didn’t bother to respond verbally, but decided to close his office door in earthpony style. One swift kick slammed the door shut with enough force for a crack to appear in the wood. She heard him rage inside and Octavia hightailed out of the building.

The prospect of running away through the snow wasn’t to appealing to her. It seemed as if she wasn’t the only one to think so. The carriage she had taken was still standing there and the driver gave her a smirk.

“Thought you might need a quick ride away.”

Octavia thanked him as she climbed aboard. She caught glimpse of the furious manager storm out of the building looking for her. He didn’t see her and stomped back inside.

She breathed a sigh of relief as the driver pulled her back to her apartment. Shopping for groceries would have to wait. There were more important things to think about now.


Octavia trotted inside her home and carefully put the box down. She had stopped by the porter downstairs and asked him to arrange a delivery for the groceries she needed. Normally she preferred to do the shopping herself, but in light of the newest developments she rather wanted to stay at home.

After kicking off her boots and removing her saddlebags, scarf and earmuffs, she quickly trotted to the guest room to check on Vinyl. The unicorn was still sleeping soundly.

Octavia wasn’t much for snooping through other pony’s property. But she didn’t have much of a choice in this case. Vinyl had lied to her and she wasn’t too keen on harboring a possible criminal. It seemed unlikely, but she was rather safe than sorry.

She emptied the contents of the box onto the coffee table, after unceremoniously sweeping the empty juice boxes off with a hoof. Then she began sorting through the items in hopes of learning more about the mare called Vinyl Scratch.

A couple of records of artists she had never heard of, a few unmarked tapes, a number of pictures and a small stack of documents was all she found.

Octavia put the records and tapes to the side and studied the pictures. Most of them showed Vinyl and a stallion, judging by his white coat and light blue mane, Octavia assumed they were related. Most likely it was her father. She didn’t find any picture with a possible mother and guessed she was the one taking the pictures.

She sighed at the sight of Vinyl in better days. The unicorn was always smiling in every picture, she had a good figure and seemed full of energy. A far cry from the skin and bones she was now.

In every picture she was wearing her sunglasses save for one. It was a black and white picture of Vinyl as a young filly. She was smiling into the camera while holding a huge stick full of cotton candy in her hooves. Octavia couldn’t help but smile at the picture.

She paid close attention to the backgrounds in the pictures, but couldn’t place them anywhere she knew. It had been obvious from the start that Vinyl was from out of town and these pictures solidified her initial thoughts.

Octavia put the pictures aside and flipped through the documents. The very first thing she found was the award certificate for first place. Other things she found were Vinyl’s documents from her time in university. Octavia raised her eyebrows in surprise as she saw what Vinyl had been studying.

Alternative Music and Culinary Arts, both with very good grades.

Octavia had a hard time imagining Vinyl Scratch as a cook or chef. The mare just got more and more mysterious with each new fact she learned about her.

A few documents about opening a bank account in Canterlot, her contract for her apartment, a couple of receipts and a small notebook filled with few names and addresses was all that was left. It really wasn’t very much to Octavia’s dismay.

She flipped through the notebook to see if she knew any of the names. The dozen names didn’t ring any bells and the addresses were from all over Equestria. Octavia was none the wiser about finding out where Vinyl was from.

As a last resort she looked through the receipts she had found. One was for a sound system, one for a pair of head phones, a few more from a pizza delivery service and one that caught Octavia’s attention from Stallivari’s.

She nearly choked as she saw what they had charged for the repair of her cello. Had she paid for it she wouldn’t have batted an eyelash at the exorbitant sum. But Vinyl had paid for it and from what she had seen thus far, the unicorn had not been in a position to pay that amount. It dawned on Octavia that she must have used her prize money to pay for the repair.

It was a noble gesture, but Octavia would have refused to accept it if she had known where Vinyl would eventually end up.

In the guest room.

Octavia snorted with dry humor at her thought. It suddenly seemed like a long time ago that she had been drinking hot chocolate with Vinyl, yet it had been less than twenty-four hours ago. She sighed and silently thanked Celestia that she had left her audition early. If not she would have never seen Vinyl and for all she knew the mare might have frozen to death in a dark alleyway buried under the snow.

A wave of sadness washed over her as she glanced back to the pictures and saw the little filly Vinyl smile back at her. Octavia felt her eyes water at the thought that the mare might have passed away without anypony ever knowing about it until the snow melted.

Now she was in a position to do something about Vinyl’s problem. It seemed as if she would have a house guest a while longer than planned.

She only hoped that Vinyl would accept her offer.

Chapter 7

View Online

Octavia spent the rest of the morning in silence.

She didn’t want to wake Vinyl up to confront her and she wasn’t really sure how best to go about it either. So she let her sleep and used the time to tidy up a bit.

Otherwise the morning was uneventful. Her doorbell rang as her delivery for the groceries she had ordered finally arrived. Octavia paid the delivery stallion and unpacked the box he had brought her in the kitchen. The thought came up that the noise might have woken up Vinyl, so she decided to check on her guest. Indeed the unicorn was awake and once again was trying to get out of bed.

“What are you doing? I told you that you need to rest and stay in bed.” Octavia trotted up to the bed with a frown on her face.

“Bathroom…” Vinyl’s reply had a tone of urgency to it.

“Oh….uh…here, let me help you.” Octavia wrapped one of Vinyl’s forelegs around her neck. With ease she helped the unicorn out of bed and waited until Vinyl gave her the signal to start moving.

Side by side they moved out of the room and made their way to the bathroom. Octavia was more or less just dragging the weak mare along at this point, but neither of them said anything.

The bathroom was still a mess from the events before. A large pile of towels lined her bathtub, and small pieces of wood and metal from the lock littered the white tiles. Octavia carefully set her charge down against the bathtub and trotted out the room.

“I’ll be right outside if you need me.” She informed and pulled the door closed behind her. While waiting for Vinyl to finish her need, she began compiling a list of things she needed to do.

Food, housecleaning, locksmith. That was the order she would work with.

Vinyl finished up her business in the bathroom and moments later stumbled out the door. Octavia gave her a chastising look.

“I said I was right outside.” Together they shuffled back to Vinyl’s room. Octavia lifted the mare easily back into bed and covered her up. Vinyl remained silent out of embarrassment of needing so much help.

The cellist hovered around, unsure how to bring up what she had learned about Vinyl’s housing situation.

“Are you hungry?” she asked instead. The unicorn just nodded in response.

With something to do now, Octavia trotted into the kitchen and thought about what she could quickly whip up. She remembered the lasagna in the refrigerator. A couple of minutes later the food had been heated up in the oven and she trotted back to Vinyl with a small tray on her back.

The prospect of food gave the unicorn a boost in energy and she ravenously devoured it without Octavia’s assistance. Seeing how fast the portion had vanished, Octavia fetched her own portion and set it down in front of Vinyl. That one vanished at a slightly slower rate.

“Thanks.” Vinyl gave the earthpony a grateful smile.

“You’re welcome.” Octavia beamed at her patient and cleared away the plates. She returned a few moments later with a wide selection of juice boxes in all kinds of flavors. Vinyl greedily drank the first one and felt the effects of warm food and tasty drink lulling her back to sleep.

Octavia sighed as Vinyl drifted back into sleep. She trotted out of the room and made way to the bathroom. Maybe she would have an idea on how to address the subject at hoof while doing some cleaning and clearing up.


The housework was finished soon. In part due to the fact that Octavia cut plenty of corners as usual. Housework had never been her strong point. She cleaned up anything dirty, but things like dusting areas she didn’t even see were ignored. Unknown to her she had the most extensive collection of dust bunnies in all of Canterlot lurking under her couch.

Octavia rummaged through a few cupboards in hopes to find something she was looking for. They had to be around here somewhere, of that she was sure.


Hidden under a few tablecloths she found a few empty picture frames. Carefully she took them out of their hiding place and brought them over to the coffee table. Thanks to the well chosen place they had been in, they were in pristine condition and would not need to be cleaned.

Octavia spent her afternoon filling the picture frames with Vinyl’s pictures. A few pictures were left over and she didn’t have any more frames to put them in. At a later time she could always buy some new ones, but for now it would do. She smiled at the filly Vinyl once more and felt a desire to eat some cotton candy. It had been ages since she had eaten that. Somehow there never was any time left to do those things anymore.

Octavia shrugged the thoughts away and carefully piled the frames on to her back. With cautious steps she walked to the guest room and peeked inside. Vinyl was still fast asleep.

Silently she set up the frames on the bedside table. Maybe it gave Vinyl some comfort to see them, at the very least it would give Octavia an opening to address her concerns. She bit her bottom lip at the task that would be looming on the horizon very soon. Octavia wasn’t too sure she was going to do the right thing, but sometimes one had to take the risk of the unknown. That’s what her father had often told her. Stealthily she tip-hoofed out of the room and waited for Vinyl to wake up again.


Octavia scrunched up her nose while trying to decipher the mouth-written words scribbled in her cookbook. It was dark outside again and with nothing else to do she had decided to start dinner preparations. Right now she wished her mother’s writing wasn’t so….unique.

The unmistakable sound of a juice box emptying via a straw reached her ears. It seemed that Vinyl was awake again. She gave up her attempts at making heads or tails out of the hieroglyphs in front of her and trotted back to the guest room. Vinyl’s room, she corrected herself. If things went as she hoped at least. She took a deep breath before entering the room proper.

Vinyl seemed at bit more lively than before. A good meal and sleep had done wonders. Octavia flipped on the light switch and smiled at her guest.

“How are you feeling?” she asked and stood in front of the bed.

“Better, but thirsty.” Vinyl yawned for a moment and turned to the bedside table to grab another juice box. She froze as she saw the pictures standing there.

“How did you get those?” her question was no more than a whisper.

“I went by your place. The manager had kept them stored away.” Octavia spoke softly and watched the other mare’s reaction. Vinyl slid further under the cover and pulled it up to her head. Her expression was difficult to read, because of the sunglasses she had kept on. Octavia got the feeling that Vinyl was mortified and dreading the fact that she had been found out.

“Why didn’t you tell anypony about what happened to you?” the cellist asked after it was obvious that Vinyl would not share any information without being prompted.

“I..don’t…” Vinyl stammered her answer, but fell silent after only two words.

“Surely your friends and family would have helped you out if you had just told them.” Octavia remained rooted on her spot as to not seem intimidating.

“Don’t have any.” Was Vinyl’s reply after a long moment of silence.

Octavia let out a small sigh. She had her suspicions and Vinyl had just confirmed them. It would no doubt be a touchy subject and Octavia did not want to press on it. She would have to tread lightly as to not drive her patient away.

“Listen, my place is big enough for two. I would gladly share it with you for as long as needed.” Octavia didn’t want to tip-hoof around her plan and voiced it in a soft tone.

“Why would you do that?” Vinyl’s question was laced with uncertainty. She very carefully turned her head a tiny bit and eyed the door, weighing her chances of making it out. Octavia noticed the movement, but remained where she was.

“Because I cannot let somepony who has fallen on hard times risk their life in the streets. I can’t let that happen to somepony I know.” Octavia forced herself to remain calm. Sudden movements or raised voices might have caused Vinyl to try and run away. Worse things would happen if she tried to use magic to get away.

“But you don’t know me.” Vinyl turned her head back a bit to face Octavia.

“You are right, I don’t know you.” Octavia conceded and shrugged. “But I don’t think you are a bad pony. Just that bad times have befallen you. Please stay here, even if it is just during winter.”

“You’re going to force me?” Her answer had a fearful undertone.

“No, I cannot force you.” Octavia saw her relax ever so slightly. “But at the same time I cannot let you go out there during this season. The alternative isn’t something I would favor.”


“The alternative being that I involve the hospital.” Octavia had thought about possibilities what to do with her guest. All of them had left a bitter taste in her mouth.

“If I get you transferred to the hospital, they will start to ask questions. They would charge you a large amount of money and seeing that you are in no position to pay….” Octavia left the sentence hang in the air for a moment, before elaborating further. “They might force you to leave the city. Possibly even throw you in prison for being a vagrant.”

“The Princess would do that?” Vinyl asked doubtfully.

“The Princess? No. The politicians in charge of the city? Yes.” Not everything was perfect in the city of Canterlot. In a place where appearances mattered most the ponies in charge would in some cases go to extreme lengths to preserve the city’s perfect image.

“I couldn’t live with myself without knowing what has become of you. Please, Vinyl. Please…” Octavia gave the unicorn a pleading look.

Vinyl thought about her options. It didn’t take very long, as she simply did not have any. She pulled herself up a bit and finally nodded.

“I’ll stay during the winter.”

Octavia let out the breath she had been holding and visibly slumped down a bit. She gave Vinyl a tired smile and was relieved that her offer had been accepted.

“I am glad that’s over and done with.” Octavia straightened herself up again took a deep breath. “I’ll bet you are hungry. Let me make us something to eat.”

“Thanks.” Vinyl watched Octavia trot out of the room and leave her alone with her thoughts.

Perhaps Octavia really did only have her best interests at heart. Perhaps the grey mare was just a kind soul extending a hoof in help. Vinyl was unsure about it all, but for the moment she would have a roof over her head and food to eat. Once back on her hooves she could think about it more and see if there was a way to repay Octavia for her kindness.

Vinyl turned her head to look at the pictures on the bedside table. Memories of times passed. Happy memories captured to be remembered. Soon the memories turned away from happy times to more painful times. Vinyl buried herself in the sheets and turned away from the pictures. Bringing back those memories would not help right now and she much rather just lay there not thinking at all.


The next few days went by in similar fashion. Octavia would help Vinyl when needed and supplied her with food and drink. Figuring that Vinyl might be bored when not asleep, she also brought her stacks of magazines to read. They were of the musical variety, with the latest news about up and coming new stars and articles about established musicians.

Vinyl had mixed feelings about the magazines. She had hoped by this point to be featured in them herself, something that had most certainly not happened. She also found it strange that Octavia wasn’t mentioned in anything she read. Surely an earthpony prodigy would be worth at least a small mention? Perhaps Octavia had not given her the issues with her inside.

Both mares did not speak very much with each other. Octavia would ask how Vinyl was feeling and then inform her about the weather or if she needed to go someplace and would leave Vinyl alone for a moment.

Vinyl guessed that she was off to practice in an orchestra or, when her darker thoughts reared their head, that she was off with her high and mighty Canterlot friends to possibly brag about how charitable she was for taking in a homeless mare.

Vinyl angrily swatted those thoughts away. The cellist had never given her a reason to think that way and she felt bad for just assuming something without any reason.

Sooner or later they would have to talk to each other about the questions that were burning in their minds. Neither knew each other very well and it would soon become very uncomfortable if they didn’t try to talk to each other.


It was still dark outside when Vinyl woke up that day. A quick glance at the clock on the bedside table showed that it was nearly seven in the morning.

She had taken the last of the medicine last night and was feeling a lot better than she had the days before. The steady supply of food no doubt also had its share in the matter. Her bones popped as she stretched each limb. Sleep wasn’t on her mind anymore as she felt the twinge of hunger nip her stomach.

Since she felt a lot better, she decided to venture to the kitchen by herself. Octavia was most likely still sleeping and while being waited on constantly by the mare was nice, it left Vinyl feeling guilty. Surely the mare had better things to do than nurse her all the time.

Carefully testing her strength she slid out of bed and stood up. She grinned as her strength was indeed back and could support her weight. Very silently Vinyl shuffled out of her room and peeked inside Octavia’s.

The gray mare was curled up into ball half hidden under her covers and snoring softly. Vinyl grinned at the sound, she hadn’t thought her to be the snoring type. The thick carpet muffled her steps as she made her way to the kitchen.

Carefully closing the door without a sound, she then flicked on the light and took in her surroundings. She noticed that the pile of dishes in the sink had been cleared away. The only item left was the casserole dish that Octavia had used yesterday. Otherwise it was neat and clean. A lone cookbook was propped open on the counter.

Vinyl gave it quick look inside and scrunched up her face at the scribbles inside. If that was Octavia’s writing then she possibly had the worst writing Vinyl had ever seen. She shook her head and snooped around the kitchen hoping for something edible to appear.

One of the cupboards revealed a vast amount of noodles and pasta sauce ready to be cooked. It was a safe guess to bet that Octavia’s favorite dish was noodles. Vinyl corrected her guess after finding more and more supplies heavily favoring the istallian cuisine. She flipped through the cookbook again just to confirm her guess. Nearly every recipe was something istallian. Lasagna, noodles and even a recipe for pizza was contained in the book, identifiable only thanks to drawn pictures.

Vinyl wasn’t in the mood for something of that variety this early in the morning. So she decided to make some pancakes instead.

If there was one thing Vinyl loved as much as her music, it had to be cooking. It might have surprised many that she was actually rather adept at cooking.

It wasn’t even that different to the way she made music. Take a few ingredients, mix and match them together and add a few spices to fine tune them until something tasty was the result. Like her music, the results varied wildly sometimes. Vinyl’s range of cooking was between delicious and inedible. Today she wasn’t feeling like experimenting with cooking, so pancakes were the best bet. Just for added flavor she decided to mix a few bananas into the batter.

She was just about to grab the first eggs with her magic, as she remembered the warning about using it for some time. Luckily the entire kitchen and all utensils were catered towards earthponies, so she didn’t have to rely on her magic at all.


Vinyl had finished half a dozen pancakes when the door opened and a very sleepy looking Octavia appeared.

“Vinyl? What are you doing?” she yawned widely and rubbed her eyes with a hoof.

“Pancakes!” Vinyl said and turned to the new arrival. Then she burst out laughing.

“What?” Octavia asked groggily.

“Nice mane style.” Vinyl was no stranger to the phenomenon known as bedhair. Her mane was naturally wild and untamable so it wasn’t really that noticeable. Seeing the mess of a mane sticking out at all angles on top of the refined and noble Octavia was a sight she had not thought she would see. It gave her a wild look and suited her rather well.

“It always gets like this.” Octavia ran a hoof through her mane, but didn’t manage to tame in one bit. “You seem to be rather chipper this morning.”

It was true, Vinyl was feeling good. Very good in fact and had not felt this way in a long time. Perhaps it was the mundane everyday task of just making pancakes that raised her spirits so high. Doing something normal for once and not having to worry about warmth, food or bits.

“I feel great.” Vinyl flipped the pancake in the pan over. “Care for something to eat?”

“Gladly, but I don’t think we have any syrup.”

“You won’t need any. These are banana pancakes, they’re sweet enough.”

“Banana pancakes?” Octavia eyed the pancake Vinyl put down in front of her. Tentatively she took a small bite out of the rather thick pancake. Her face lit up with joy as the taste unfolded in her mouth. “These are delicious!”

Vinyl finished frying the pancake in the pan and slid it onto the stack of already finished pancakes on the table. She sat down opposite Octavia at the small table and watched the cellist gleefully eating her newfound treat. Octavia licked her lips and pulled another pancake on her plate.

“Where did you learn to make these?” she asked between mouthfuls.

“I always liked to cook. Even thought I would end up with a cooking related cutie mark. Then I found music and that became my true talent.” Vinyl ate another piece of her food and chuckled at the speed with which the other mare devoured her pancake. “I studied the culinary arts in university and learned a lot there. I can make one really awesome vegetable curry.”

Vinyl finished off her first pancake, while Octavia was already halfway down her third.

“I’d love to try that some day.” Octavia wasn’t a pony to turn down new and tasty food. Her own cooking revolved around the istallian cuisine as Vinyl had guessed. The results were mixed at best and nothing to really write home about.

“Well, I could make it this evening if you want me to. We just have to buy a few ingredients.” Vinyl went through the list in her mind of the things they would need.

“It will have to wait. The shops aren’t open today.” Octavia said and slid a fourth pancake on her plate.

“What? Why? Is it because of the snow?” Vinyl looked out the window at the snow covered rooftops.

“No….it’s Hearth’s Warming Eve.” Octavia replied and took a big bite out of the pancake. It took a lot of willpower to not stuff the entire thing at once in her mouth.

“Oh….huh…” Vinyl had lost track of the days in the last few weeks. Then she remembered something that Octavia had told her. “Hey, don’t you have that pageant thing to go to tonight?”

Octavia’s ears folded down and she stopped her attack on Vinyl’s cooking.

“No, I didn’t get the part.” She said quietly and seemed a bit sad.

“What? That’s insane! Why didn’t you get it?” Vinyl was truly shocked that they had turned Octavia down.

“I honestly don’t know.” Octavia’s answer was drenched with frustration. She felt it build up inside her. Up until today she had been too preoccupied with Vinyl to give it much thought. She fought the frustration down with another bite of the delicious food and let the emotion out with a sigh.

“Best not to dwell on that right now. Especially not on Hearth’s Warming Eve.”

The mares sat in silence for a moment, just concentrating of eating and enjoying the taste. It dawned on Vinyl that maybe Octavia would have other plans for the evening.

“I am feeling a lot better. So if you want to have the place for some guests or something to do with friends or family, I can go out somewhere else for a while.”

“No, no. You are staying here where it’s warm.” Octavia gave Vinyl a look that meant there would be no discussion about it. “Besides I wouldn’t have anypony come visit me anyways.”

“That’s….” Vinyl didn’t want to make the grey mare feel bad with the questions now suddenly burning in her mind. She had expected Octavia to have a typical Canterlot social life. High end parties, meaningless banter about the weather and looking pretty. Octavia caught the unspoken question or at least one of them.

“It’s not like I don’t have any friends. I have a few….well one.” Octavia prodded her plate with a hoof.

Vinyl decided to press on a bit more, Octavia had after all opened the door on the subject a bit and she decided to learn a bit more about her.

“A special friend?”

“Oh yes, she is a special one.” Octavia smiled at some memory that Vinyl wasn’t privy to.


Vinyl was now very interested in some of the backstory behind this “special” mare.

“Why doesn’t she come over?” Vinyl asked and decided to have just one last pancake.

“She doesn’t live here anymore. She moved to Manehatten a few years ago. We write letters every once in a while to keep in touch.”

“Where did you meet her?” Vinyl had so many thoughts running through her mind and was drawing some very interesting conclusions of her own.

“In university. You know that program where senior years take new students under their wing?” Octavia eyed the last pancake on the plate and gave in to temptation.

Vinyl indeed knew about the program, she herself had been part of it. It was a very interesting time to say the least. The whirlwind of manic energy that had taken her under her wing had come in the form of a pink earthpony, who coincidentally also was studying Culinary Arts.

“Well, she took me under her wing so to speak and helped me get through the first few months. She was in her last stretch there and graduated a year later.” Octavia suddenly seemed sad. “Something happened and she was more or less forced to move away.”

“What was it?” Vinyl watched Octavia squirm about a bit. She seemed uncomfortable to speak about it, which in turn only made it more interesting for Vinyl.

“I’d rather not say. I don’t like to talk about ponies behind their backs.”

“Yeah, I understand.” Vinyl had to drop the topic. She didn’t want to ruin the mood that had so far been fun.

“What about your parents?” Vinyl hoped the change of subject would not be a negative one. Seeing that Octavia’s smile came back, it was obviously not the case.

“They had their twenty-fifth anniversary shortly after I graduated. As a special treat they decided to go one a world tour, to visit exotic and strange places.”

“And they aren’t back yet?” Vinyl had never felt the need to visit other locations or countries. She had also miserably failed geography in school and had no idea just how big the world actually was.

“The tour will take a year.” Octavia explained and Vinyl nearly choked on her pancake.

“A year? Are they doing it by hoof?”

“They spend about a week in each location and major town. So that’s only fifty-two locations, which in the whole isn’t all that much.” Octavia ate the last of her pancake.

She had questions of her own, but didn’t want to pressure Vinyl in telling her anything. Perhaps by shedding some light on her own past, the unicorn might indulge her with information of her own.

“So what do you do on Hearth’s Warming Eve all by yourself?” Vinyl asked with her appetite now sated for the moment.

“Watch a couple of movies I guess.” An idea came into her mind. “You haven’t seen all of the place yet, have you? Would you like a tour?”

“Sure. Lead the way.”


Vinyl followed the earthpony into the living room and headed towards the door to the left of the projector screen. The room beyond was a dining room. The dominating piece of furniture was the large round table in the middle. It looked expensive and had a style that didn’t fit the rest of what Vinyl had seen thus far. It was pretty much something Vinyl would have expected the rest of the furniture to be like when she first came here. Old, maybe antique with ornate carvings on the legs and really, really expensive.

A thin layer of dust on the wooden surface told Vinyl that this room was rarely ever used. Which made sense for a single pony who didn’t have many guests. What made Vinyl gasp was the view from the large window that encompassed an entire wall from side to side and floor to ceiling.

She had never been this high up in Canterlot before and the building she was in loomed over the buildings all around. The sight of the snow covered city slowly waking up was beautiful and peaceful. Vinyl briefly wondered how the view would be from one of the towers in the castle. Did the Princess ever just take the time to look at her city? If not then that was something she was missing out on.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Octavia giggled as Vinyl stared out the window with her jaw hanging open. “You should see it at night.”

Vinyl followed Octavia out of the dining room, silently vowing to return later that night to see the sight as the cellist had suggested. They went into the door to the screen’s right next.

Where the room before had dust covering every surface, this room was spotless. Vinyl’s jaw had dropped at the view out the window, here in this room it nearly would have hit the floor if it were possible.

It was the music room. Every single available space had some kind of musical instrument standing or hanging on the walls. Vinyl saw a saxophone, two trombones, even a tuba hanging on the wall. A semicircle of bongo drums in various sizes stood on one side of the room. Expensive looking violins, flutes, oboes, tambourines and much more than she could take in at once. Every single instrument was void of any blemishes let alone dust. Vinyl felt as if she had just walked in on the display room of some high class musical instrument shop.

“Y…you play all of these?” Vinyl didn’t dare step any closer to the instruments out of fear she might accidentally knock them over.

“No, I just play the cello.” Octavia giggled at the mare beside her and pointed a hoof towards the mentioned instrument leaning against the wall just beside the door. “These are part of my father’s collection.”

“Part of?” Vinyl adjusted the wealth of the cellist upwards some more on her scale.

“This was my parent’s fist home in Canterlot.” Octavia explained and nodded towards the living room. “When I started my studies they moved out into a house a few blocks away and left me this place. The majority of my father’s collection is there, he just hasn’t had the time to move these over yet.”

Vinyl felt small in this room of priceless instruments. The casual nature of how Octavia had explained everything made her feel insignificant. She nodded over to the cello to take her mind off that feeling.

“How come I haven’t heard you play?”

“I didn’t want to disturb you. I don’t know if you like that kind of music.” Octavia said and cast a glance to the other mare.

“I can appreciate the classical genre. Don’t mind me if you want to play a bit.”

“Another time maybe. Come on! I have got to show you the best part of the entire place!”

Vinyl didn’t quite know how Octavia would trump the music room. Did she have a private racing track with a couple of Wonderbolts in a hidden room somewhere? Curiously she followed her back into the living room and towards the projector on the far wall.

Octavia pushed a button next to the projector and part of the wall next to it slid open, revealing dozens if not hundreds of movie reels. There was a glint in Octavia’s eyes as she turned to Vinyl.

“Well? What do you think?”

“That’s a lot of movies. You watched them all?” Vinyl stepped a bit closer and read some of the labels on the cases. A few of them she knew by name or by having seen them at some point. Most of them were unknown to her however.

“Yes. I always keep looking out for new ones to add to my collection.” Octavia was grinning widely and ran a hoof over some of the cases.

“So you really like movies?” Vinyl asked rhetorically.

“Can you tell?” Octavia smirked back at the unicorn. Her eyes lit up as she had an idea. “How about we spend the day watching movies? Just get a few snacks and start watching. In the evening I can order something to eat and we won’t have to move one inch from the couch!”

Vinyl felt that she couldn’t get out of it even if she wanted to. The thought of spending a day lounging about eating stuff and watching hopefully good films seemed too good to not take.

“I’ll prepare the snacks?” she asked and saw Octavia’s grin become even wider.

“Fantastic! I’ll just hop into the bath and later we can get started.”

Vinyl watched with amusement as the grey mare nearly hopped towards the bathroom with anticipation. She felt that this was going to be a strange day.


Preparing some snacks was an easy task for Vinyl.

A couple of crackers with cheese, some cut up bits of fruit and an assortment of other tasty tidbits were prepared in just a few minutes. Vinyl brought a plate full of them into the living room and set them on the table. On the way back to the kitchen she heard a surprising sound coming from the bathroom.

Octavia was singing.

And she was doing so terribly off-key. Vinyl listened with surprise at a few verses.

When Octavia hummed the tune it sounded perfectly fine and melodic, but as soon as she started to sing things turned ugly. Vinyl stifled a laugh at another revelation about the cellist she had not seen coming. At least this time it was something that they both had in common. Vinyl too was a terrible singer and was fully aware of that fact.

She snorted with amusement as she left Octavia singing without any witnesses and brought the last batch of snacks into the living room. Vinyl wondered if there would be any more surprises awaiting her in the near future.

She had no idea what was in store for her.

Chapter 8

View Online

Octavia trotted out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around her mane and tail.

She had taken her time soaking in the warm water, if asked she would reply that she was a glutton for relaxing in a hot bath full of bubbles. It had been a bit of a problem when she was younger and shared the home with her parents. More often than not they would knock on the door demanding she cut her time relaxing short.

Now that she was alone she took her time until her hooves started to prune up. But she wasn’t alone anymore she remembered. She would have to tell Vinyl, that if she needed to use the bathroom, to just knock.

Octavia peeked inside the living room and the kitchen to see where the other mare currently was. Vinyl was nowhere to be seen in either room. Before she could call her name, Vinyl came trotting out of her room and smiled at Octavia’s current state.

“Prepared all the snacks?” Octavia asked and made way for Vinyl to enter the bathroom.

“Yep. All taken care of. I’ll just have a quick shower and be right back out.”

Octavia went into her bedroom and gave the towels a thorough squeeze in order to soak up as much water as possible from her mane and tail. She unwrapped them and just dropped them on the floor for the time being. Using a brush she began to tame her now more cooperative hair into the style she always wore. By the time she was finished, Vinyl had also ended her shower.

She met the unicorn a few minutes later in the living room as she was just looking over her selection of movies.

“Is there anything you would like to see?” she asked Vinyl who noticed that she had forgotten to put some drinks on the table.

“I don’t know, just anything you would like to watch is fine.”

Octavia watched Vinyl reenter the room with a tray of juice boxes on her back.

“You know, if you would like something more alcoholic, I would have a bottle of whiskey somewhere.” Octavia offered and watched as Vinyl winced.

“Nah, I don’t really drink.” She saw the look on Octavia’s face and felt the need to elaborate. “Yeah, I know. You first met me when I was drunk off my flank.”

“I remember.” Octavia replied dryly.

“Would you believe me if I said that was my first time drinking?”

“I thought partying involved a lot of drinking? I mean, I wouldn’t know. I don’t attend many social gatherings of that kind.” Octavia shrugged away the fact that she was a bit of a social recluse.

“Nah. Well, yes. I mean plenty of ponies drink during parties, but I’m the DJ. Can’t drink on the job, besides I really don’t like the taste of the stuff. I rather watch ponies dance around to some good music, than to feel good with alcohol.” Vinyl arranged the juice boxes in a nice little pyramid shape.

“So why did you drink that evening?”

“That was the fault of Neon Lights. You know? The pony who placed fourth?”

Octavia remembered the stallion and the fact that he seemed to be a sore winner.

“Yes, I remember. Was he your coltfriend?”

Vinyl laughed a humorless laugh at that question. She saw the confused look in Octavia’s face and had to explain a bit.

“Hay no! That lying little….” Vinyl stopped herself from using some colorful commentary. “Long story short. He tried to get me drunk and into bed. He succeeded in the first part, but failed at the second. Then he robbed me of some of the prize money and left town before I could get my hooves on him.”

“Sounds like a despicable individual.”

“That’s putting it mildly.” Vinyl shrugged her shoulders and signaled that this topic had expired.

“Is there anything you would like to watch? I am a bit at a loss here as what to pick.” Octavia brought the discussion back to the movies.

“I really don’t mind. I’ll watch just about anything.” Vinyl watched Octavia pace around in front of her movie collection. “Perhaps something Hearth’s Warming Eve-y. Just nothing sad, please.”

Octavia’s face lit up as she had just the thing to fit Vinyl’s wish. She plucked a case between her front hooves and showed the title to Vinyl.

“Blackadder’s Hearth’s Warming Eve Carol? Is that something about snakes?” Vinyl had never heard of the film.

“Oooohoho... it has nothing to do with snakes, don’t worry. It’s funny and I bet you will like it.” Octavia opened the case carefully and took out the reel. With great care she set up the reel on the projector and with a flip of a switch the projector came to life.

Octavia jumped over the back of the couch with ease. Something about the movement told Vinyl that the cellist had done that move a thousand times before. She joined her on the couch and sat a few paces away from her. With excitement she watched the film about to start.


Vinyl was utterly confused.

It wasn’t due to the movies they had spent the day watching, far from it in fact.

The very first movie had been very entertaining. The sarcastic snide attitude of the titular characters had appealed greatly to Vinyl. Turning the known stories of Hearth’s Warming Eve around and injecting a fair deal of dry wit and hilarious verbal comedy was right up her alley.

The movies that followed were equally entertaining in their own way. A musical about ponies from the west side telling their story wasn’t anything new for Vinyl, but it was good to see that classic one more time. A couple of action films and a thriller rounded off the evening thus far.

Currently they were watching the last few scenes of an action movie with the preposterous story about carriages transforming into talking mechanical ponies. It was bad, but strangely entertaining.

They had ordered outrageously expensive food from a nearby restaurant that would deliver on this day. Everything on the menu was nearly dripping in fat and most likely unhealthy on a regular basis. Vinyl suspected that it was Octavia’s subtle way of trying to fatten her up. She didn’t mind and dove right in.

What confused Vinyl was the mare sitting a few paces beside her and eating the last of the deep fried hay-nuggets.

Octavia’s choice of movies was surprising.

The dark sarcastic comedy? Not all that surprising, as it could be enjoyed by all ponies on some level.

A musical? Not surprising at all. Vinyl even caught the other mare stop herself from singing along. She also noticed that one of the songs was the one Octavia had been singing in the bath earlier.

Action movies with explosions, laughable stories and bad acting? Very surprising.

The icing on the cake of confusion was how Octavia watched the movies. Vinyl had reckoned with her sitting silently and not making a sound or movement during the screening. Far from it in fact.

Octavia was perhaps the most animated watcher of movies that Vinyl ever had seen. The cellist laughed heartily at the jokes. She tried to sing along with the songs. She groaned at particular bad acting and joked about some of the over the top points in the story or laughed at the bad effects.

And she never sat still.

Which was especially noticeable during the action movies. Octavia would shift around in her seat and stare up at the screen with wide-eyed wonder like a foal seeing the movie for the first time. She had no doubt watched them countless times, but still regarded them with fascination. When the heinous villain of the film appeared she would boo and sometimes shake a hoof at the screen. Particularly during the action scenes Octavia would hoofpump after the action reached its climax.

At first Vinyl just stared at the grey mare, contemplating if the food had been laced with something. Then she realized that was just the way she was and Vinyl found that not only was it unexpected, but also endearing at the same time. After the first few moments, Vinyl simply joined in on the fun that the cellist was having.

Octavia Philharmonica had turned her view of the Canterlot’s elite on its head. Were they all like this in the privacy of their homes? Was the snobby attitude just a front that was to be expected when one lived here in this city?

Vinyl doubted that deep down. Perhaps she had lucked out for once and found the diamond in the rough. Or to be more fitting, the strawberry amongst rubies, fun, sweet and good for one’s health.

Octavia gave one last hoofpump as the movie’s credit began to roll. She turned to Vinyl with a wide grin.

“Well? What did you think of that one?”

“It was….interesting. I mean the story was bad, the effects were bad and the actors must have come from the school of cardboard. I liked it!” Vinyl grinned back at the mare.

“So bad, it’s good!” Octavia hopped over the back of the couch again and fast forwarded through the credits. Vinyl let out a yawn and stretched a bit in her seat.

“You really like movies don’t you?” Vinyl stated the obvious.

“Who doesn’t? I always liked them ever since I was a foal. Didn’t you watch movies when you were younger?” Octavia rewound the reel and turned to Vinyl.

“A few. I grew up in Las Pegasus and the entire town is more about live shows than movies.” Vinyl explained. Octavia took note of hearing where Vinyl was actually from.

“Do you want to watch another one?” Vinyl asked and glanced over her shoulder.

“Hmmm….it is getting rather late and I wanted to show you something.” Octavia carefully put the reel back into its case and then in the shelf next to its sequels.

“Show me something? What is it?” The unicorn was genuinely curious.

The grey mare just smiled and beckoned Vinyl to follow her into the dining room. Vinyl did as asked and glanced around the room trying to see something unusual.

“Watch!” Octavia said, pointed a hoof towards the window and flicked off the light.

Vinyl let out a gasp at the sight. Octavia had not been kidding about the view over Canterlot at night. Tiny dots of light spread over the city, as it was snowing again they flickered between the snowflakes. And it was quiet, the very essence of peacefulness and tranquility.

“It’s beautiful.” Vinyl felt the need to whisper as she looked over the town in awe.

Octavia sat down beside her and watched the city as well. Neither spoke and just let the sight sink in. Vinyl wished she could take off her sunglasses to get a better view, but she wasn’t willing to share the reason why she wore them.

“Did you enjoy this Hearth’s Warming Eve, Vinyl?” Octavia asked quietly and cast her eyes over the city.

“Best one I have ever had.” Vinyl answered truthfully. “Thanks, Octavia. For everything.”

Vinyl saw Octavia’s reflection smile.

“Sorry, you couldn’t spend it with your parents.” Vinyl added after a moment.

“Oh, that’s ok. I was able to spend it with a friend and that was important.”

“Friend?” Vinyl took her eyes off the city and looked at Octavia.

“That’s what Hearth’s Warming Eve is all about, Vinyl. Making friends.” Octavia turned to look at the unicorn beside her and smiled.

“Y…yeah. It is.” Vinyl agreed. To her surprise Octavia moved a bit closer and hugged her.

“Happy Hearth’s Warming Eve, Vinyl.”

Vinyl returned the hug and felt something she hadn’t felt in a long time. Her eyes watered as she realized what that feeling was. She felt at home.

“Happy Hearth’s Warming Eve, Octavia.”

My friend.

Chapter 9

View Online

Time passed.

Vinyl and Octavia had spent most of the winter just watching movies, eating well and talking about various things. Both them skirted around some more touchy subjects not willing to jeopardize their new found friendship.

Vinyl recovered from her previous ordeals at a fast rate. She felt great. Now she had a home, a friend and more importantly a new outlook on what lied ahead. Things could only get better from here on, of that she was certain.

Octavia had begun to play her cello again after Hearth’s Warming Eve. She spent a fair amount of time playing a wide range of classical pieces so as to not put on any rust. Vinyl doubted that she needed any practice. Every single note she played was perfect. The unicorn had listened intently to the cello’s song and struggled to comprehend why Octavia wasn’t playing in front of sold out crowds in a large orchestra.

It was almost painful to see her not receiving the recognition she so clearly deserved. She didn’t even need to read notes. Octavia had shrugged off that fact, saying she just memorized the pieces. Vinyl hoped she would soon get her break and soar to the top of her genre.

Both mares had fallen into something of a routine. Octavia would play her cello, while Vinyl would either sit on the couch listening or be in the kitchen preparing food. They alternated with the task of cooking. Octavia secretly hoped that Vinyl would take her share of the cooking as it was clear that the unicorn had a better hoof in that area.

Vinyl also found herself clearing up after the grey mare. What had started as a conscious effort, soon became something she did out of reflex and didn’t even realize it. Octavia had a penchant to leave things lying around. Be it magazines piling on the floor, finished juice boxes or bowties.


Vinyl was currently staring at the mound of used collars and bowties in the laundry room. As much as she tried, she couldn’t understand why Octavia needed this many of them. The cellist only wore it when she left her home and couldn’t possibly need all of them.

Deciding to wash them she grabbed one in her magical grasp and inspected it. Being able to use her magic again was wonderful in its own right. After careful inspection she found no clue if they needed some special treatment.

“Hey, Octavia!” Vinyl stuck her head out the door and called to the cellist who was lounging on the couch at the moment. “Do I need to do something special with your bowties and stuff? Or do I just wash them like anything else?”

Octavia got up from her couch and trotted towards the room Vinyl was in.

“No need for that Vinyl.” She said and stood in the doorway to the laundry room. “I just haven’t gotten around to do anything about them yet.”

Vinyl had a ball of them in her magical grasp and levitated them towards the washing machine.

“So…just the regular program?”

“No, no. I never wash them.” Octavia watched her bowties slowly turn in mid-air. It was slightly hypnotizing.

“You just wear them dirty and crumpled?” Vinyl stopped her way to the washing machine and glanced over to Octavia.

“No, I just wear a new one.” Octavia answered nonchalantly.

“Well what do you do with the old ones? Throw them away?” It seemed a terrible waste to Vinyl. Sure, Octavia had plenty of bits to spend, but even for her that seemed a bit excessive.

“I give them away to charity.” Octavia said and eyed the large pile in the room. It had been a while since she last gave them away.

“Charity?” Vinyl laughed at a mental image that popped into her head. “So like, there’s an orphanage somewhere where all the foals run around with little bowties and collars all the time looking cute and adorable?”

“Possibly. Do you think I look cute and adorable with one on?”

“Oh, absolutely. And of course refined and elegant at the same time.” Vinyl flashed a grin at the grey mare.

“Of course.” Octavia smirked at the flattery.

“So….that’s it? Charity? Wouldn’t it be easier just to give them some money?” Vinyl levitated the objects in her magical grasp back on to the pile.

“Well….it’s kind of hard for me to….you know…” Octavia shuffled her hooves around sheepishly.

“Uhh… kind of hard to see orphans running around without bowties?” Vinyl wasn’t following what Octavia was trying to tell her.

“Hooves, Vinyl.” Octavia demonstratively held one up in front of the unicorns face. “It isn’t really easy to put on a collar and bowtie with hooves.”

“So how do you put them on? I know that you wear them.”

“They have a magical enchantment when you take them out of the box. It wraps and ties itself, all you have to do is hold it to your neck.” Octavia explained and casually flicked a stray bowtie back on to the pile with her hoof.

The cellist folded her ears down. It wasn’t easy being an earthpony in a town that so heavily catered towards unicorns. Even small things like clothing accessories could prove to be a challenge or even near impossible for her. Out of defiance she had mastered the cello, an instrument not really suited for earthponies. She had overcome that challenge with sheer determination, but a small thing like a bowtie still proved impossible. Sometimes she wished she had been born a unicorn, it would have most certainly made her life a lot easier at times.

Her thoughts were interrupted as she felt the fabric of a bowtie wrap itself around her neck. She looked down at the item and saw that it was faintly glowing in a light blue aura. Octavia looked back to Vinyl and saw the same aura around her horn.

“Well now you have me.” Vinyl gave her a wide grin. “Guess the orphans will just have to be less adorable. Perhaps we can send them some matching boots or earmuffs.”

“So I take it you will be staying a while longer than just the winter?” Octavia smiled faintly. There was something in her eyes, a pleading kind of look with a small spark of hope.

Vinyl had truthfully not given it any thought. Winter was nearing its end in only a couple of days and her original plan had been to leave once the weather got warmer. Now she wasn’t quite as willing to leave. She had found a home and more importantly a friend, who as is seemed now wasn’t too happy to see her leave.

“Yeah, I’ll stick around a bit longer.” Vinyl’s grin intensified as the grey mare opposite her smiled in relief. “Who knows? You might even need me for something else.”


Winter Wrap Up Day arrived in Canterlot.

It was as always a rather underwhelming experience.

Vinyl had heard that earthpony cities would clean up winter without using magic. Here in Canterlot, a predominantly unicorn city, everything was cleaned up with magic.

Squads of specialized unicorns would walk through the streets casting their spells and sampling vanishing away all of the snow and ice. It was a strange sensation at first, one day it was cold and full of snow, the next day it was mild and everything started to blossom.

The mild weather was something that Vinyl wholeheartedly could enjoy. She sat in the dining room watching the city with the window open. She greedily inhaled the fresh air and it occurred to her that she hadn’t left the apartment ever since Octavia had brought her here.

She had a feeling this day would be a good one. Thus far she was having the time of her life.


On the other side of town, Octavia was not having the time of her life.

With spring arriving, the demand for musicians would skyrocket. Parties in celebration of spring would be hosted, garden parties would become popular again and the orchestras would be looking for new talent.

She saw her chance to start this year with a good start. Thus far she had only heard the same sentence that seemed to follow her everywhere she went.

“Thank you for your performance. We’ll be in touch.”

Octavia had heard it twice this morning already and was dreading the words about to be spoken by the director of the theatre she had auditioned for.

“Thank you for your….” Octavia drowned the next words out. Failed again, the third time in only three hours. That had to be some kind of sad record.

Her motivation for the day had been expired and it wasn’t even lunchtime. With heavy steps she trudged down the stairs of the first floor where the audition had been held. She was dimly aware of the looks from some of the ponies waiting patiently to perform.

On the ground floor she saw somepony she recognized from university. It was her former professor. Perhaps he could shed some light on her problems finding a part. With determination she trotted up to him.

“Excuse me? Professor?”

“Octavia! What a pleasant surprise.” The old stallion beamed at his former student. “I heard you perform. It was most exquisite.”

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.” Octavia readjusted the cello on her back, trying to find the right words. “I have auditioned for every available part in Canterlot since I graduated. Nopony was willing to hire me. What am I doing wrong, professor? Is it the way I play?”

“No, no. You play the cello like nopony else can. It hasn’t got anything to do with your ability.” He shook his head and turned around to face his student proper.

“Then what is it? I am beginning to doubt myself.” Octavia’s confession was laced with sadness. The professor sighed at the sight of the distraught mare.

“It hasn’t got anything to do with your abilities.” The professor sighed again. “You know how things work here in Canterlot. It isn’t about how good somepony is at what they do. It’s about how well known they are. Fame trumps ability, I am afraid.”

“Then what am I supposed to do? How can I achieve a reputation if I cannot even play in front of a crowd?” Octavia felt the frustration building up inside her. “I placed second in that contest all that time ago. Doesn’t that count for anything?”

“It would have had you placed first. They don’t look at the second place.” He saw that she did not take that answer very well. Her ears had folded down and she let her head hand with closed eyes.

“Listen, Octavia.” He placed a hoof on her shoulder, causing her to look at him. “Remember what I told you in class once? That you always try and go for the direct approach and never look for another way to tackle your problem?”

“I remember, but how is that supposed to help me here?”

“It is still your goal to play in the Royal Canterlot Orchestra, correct?” Octavia nodded. “Perhaps your way into the orchestra isn’t by auditioning for parts here in Canterlot.”

“What do you mean?” Octavia looked at him confused.

“Perhaps you should try and gain a reputation elsewhere.” He suggested and continued as a thought occurred to him. “A former colleague of mine works in an orchestra in another town, I could get in touch with him and ask if he may have a position for you free.”

“I can’t leave Canterlot.” Octavia sighed once more. “Isn’t there something else I could do?”

“Well the best way to get noticed is by writing your own music.” He shrugged his shoulders. “I heard the piece you played. The problem is that they have heard that piece played so many times it just isn’t as enthralling as it once was. If you would play them something by your own hoof, I bet they would take notice of you more.”

Octavia’s problem had not been solved, but at least she had been given a few options to consider.

“Thank you, professor. I’ll be in touch.” She said goodbye to her former mentor and began her way home.


Vinyl heard the front door open, signaling that Octavia had returned from her auditions. She was hoping that she would be seeing an excited mare jump up and down with joy for finally getting a part. She didn’t see the mare, but she heard her.

Cello music played after a few minutes of silence and Vinyl sighed as she knew the meaning behind it. Over time Vinyl had learned that Octavia would play music befitting her mood, something she did herself or had done when she still had her deck. Judging by the low-key slow notes drifting through the apartment Octavia was sad. Vinyl left her spot at the window and trotted over to the music room.

A quick look inside told Vinyl that she had been right. Octavia slowly played her cello with long strokes of her bow on the strings. She had her eyes closed and her lips pressed tightly together in silent frustration.

“How did it go?” Vinyl asked and trotted up to the cellist, keeping a pony’s length distance between them before she stopped. She didn’t really have to ask as it was obvious.

“Didn’t get the part.” Octavia replied and stopped her music, but didn’t open her eyes.

“All of them? What are they? Deaf!?” Vinyl frowned at the puzzling lack of seeing the talent of her friend by the directors.

“I met my former professor by chance today.” Octavia did not comment Vinyl’s question, but opened her eyes and looked at her. “He said it had something to do with me not having enough fame to be considered.”

“That’s just nuts. You’re the earthpony cellist. The…the prodigy they called you in university. Isn’t that famous enough?”

“Apparently not.” Octavia angrily swished her bow through the air. “Uuugh! It’s so damn frustrating! How can I gain fame if they won’t even let me play in front of a crowd?”

Octavia was beginning to go on a rant as the pent up frustration of half a year of rejections spilled over.

“You’d think that they might give me, the earthpony with a talent for unlikely instruments, just a small chance. Anything, a…a garden party for all I care. Maybe even a birthday party for a foal. Just anything to show them my love for my music. Instead they have this stupid prerequisite of needing a reputation and small bits of fame before even being considered for the smallest part. I might have had that as well if it hadn’t been for that damn contest, but no….I….”

Octavia trailed off and shot Vinyl a nervous glance. In her ranting she had let something slip that she didn’t want the other mare to know about. To her dismay Vinyl picked up on it immediately.

“Contest? You mean the one that I won?” Vinyl asked with surprise. Octavia didn’t answer, but just kept her eyes fixed on the strings of her cello.

“Wait, wait. You’re telling me that if you had won that contest you might have had enough fame to get your first few parts?” Vinyl was startled by her conclusion and hoped Octavia would say it wasn’t so. The cellist just continued to stare silently at her instrument in her hooves.

“But you placed second! That has to count for something.”

“They don’t look at second place.” Octavia’s reply was just a whisper and she shrunk back a bit, trying to hide her face behind the cello’s neck.

“But…oh, wow. Y-you mean it’s all my fault? I cost you your chance to start your career?” Vinyl dropped to her haunches in shock. A sudden feeling of guilt coursed through her system.

“If I knew a time spell to turn back time and change the outcome, I’d do it in a heartbeat. My win didn’t really bring me any luck, did it?” Vinyl said after a few moments of uncomfortable silence and she meant it from the bottom of her heart.

“I’m sorry, Vinyl. It was wrong of me to even mention it.” Octavia looked back to the unicorn in front of her and continued before she had the chance to reply. “It’s just a small part of the entire problem. Even had I won there are still bigger obstacles to overcome.”

“Like what?”

“They are also looking for some originality in my performances.” Octavia sighed. “They might take more notice of me if I played something of my own.”

“Ok. That doesn’t sound so bad.” Vinyl was still trying to wrap her head around the things she had thus far learned.

“You don’t understand. I can’t play anything original.” Octavia admitted quietly. Vinyl arched an eyebrow in confusion. “I cannot create music.”

“What do you mean? I hear you play all the time.”

“That’s just pieces that some other pony wrote. I can’t write my own music.” The cellist rested her head on the cello’s neck. “I can play half of the pieces written for a cello blindfolded. Give me some notes and I can play them perfectly after the first try. But try as I might, I cannot write my own. I just lack the talent for something like that.”

Vinyl’s day had turned out to be quite full of surprises thus far. The last thing she would have expected to trump her involvement in Octavia’s lack of a career was the admission she had just heard.

Strange that the grey mare would not have that talent. Vinyl would have bet all her possessions that the cellist was a creative musician. An idea popped into her head, perhaps she had just found a way to try and help her friend.

“Ok. So you can’t write music. What about changing a piece you know around a bit. You know…remix it.”

“Remix…it? What purpose would that serve?” Octavia looked at her friend with a frown of confusion on her brow.

“Well if they want originality then remixing something should count. Just play a few notes more here and there. Leave a couple away or change a few pieces of the song around. You know….spruce it up a bit.”

“You really think that is possible? I have never heard of somepony sprucing up classical pieces of music.” Octavia had her doubts, but she was also now curious what the unicorn was proposing.

“Heh, you never heard of me before either. See this?” Vinyl pointed a hoof to her flank. “This cutie mark doesn’t lie, Octavia. I bet you anything I can spice up whatever you can play.” Vinyl saw her chance at redemption and grinned at the cellist. “Care to give it a try?”

“Fine.” Octavia straightened herself up and was genuinely intrigued what her friend had in mind. “What do we do?”

“Play something I know first.”

“Well, what do you know?”

“I am not good with names, Octavia. Just…play something famous that I’m bound to know.”

Octavia thought for a moment and began to play a piece known all over Equestria. She only played a few notes of the slow and sad melody when Vinyl stopped her.

“Yeah, ok. I know that one. That’s the tune they play during funerals and such. Could we perhaps play something a little more…you know….upbeat?”

After a moment Octavia decided to play a piece written for cellos by the famous composer Marezart. Vinyl’s face lit up as she recognized the melody and let Octavia play it until the end.

“Yeah, that’s more like it. Ok…now just to find something to spice it up with. Uh…may I?” Vinyl pointed a hoof towards the instruments around the room.

“Sure, go ahead.” Octavia gave her permission and Vinyl beamed at the prospect of making some noise.

Vinyl looked around in the room full of musical instruments. After a moment of quiet contemplation she sat down behind the semicircle of bongo drums. She gave them an experimental tap with a hoof.

“You are not seriously thinking about accompanying Marezart with bongos are you?” Octavia scrunched up her face in doubt.

“Well, seeing that I don’t have a deck anymore, we are limited to the instruments I can play. The only ones here are the bongos or the tambourine. So which is it?” Vinyl gave a mischievous smile to the cellist, who just stared at what was about to happen.

“Bongos it is.” She said fueled by her own curiosity to see what Vinyl was going to do.

“Excellent! Shall we begin?”


Octavia didn’t know how Vinyl did it.

By all logic a classical piece of music should not sound good together with bongo drums. Yet somehow it worked. She even dared to think that it sounded rather good. She sent a silent apology to the long dead composer for the rather unique treatment of the piece. No doubt Marezart would be spinning in her grave by this point.

Octavia had to give Vinyl credit. It was obvious that the unicorn knew what she was doing. Every note of the drums was timed perfectly to Octavia’s tempo. Despite her initial reservations the cellist was having fun. A lot of fun thanks to the energetic mare banging her hooves on the drums and making a show out of it. The unpleasant memories of the morning were blown away and now just a thing from the past.

She grinned and started playing the piece once more, the fourth time thus far.


Vinyl was having a blast.

It had been so long that she had done anything to do with music. Now sitting behind the drums in front of her she finally felt alive once more. Seeing the face of Octavia shift from confusion to joy was an added bonus.

This was what she was meant to do. Bring joy to ponies with her music, to see them dance and have a good time. Her enthusiasm knew no bounds and she jumped from one set of drums to the next. Perhaps this was a way to help Octavia overcome her dilemma and Vinyl silently vowed to help her friend attain the goal she had set for herself, whatever the cost may be.

She had started to headbang along with the beat she was producing. During a particular energetic whip of her head something happened that brought the entire musical number to a screeching halt, literally.

Vinyl watched in horror as her shades flew off her head and towards the door. In a moment of panic she briefly locked eyes with Octavia. The cellist’s expression shifted from joy to astonishment and then to a painful grimace as she lost her grip on the cello and screeched the bow across the strings.

Vinyl quickly averted her eyes and grabbed the sunglasses with her magic. They sped back to her in a blur and settled back on their original position. She was hoping Octavia would just ignore what she had seen and continue playing. No such luck, as the cellist gaped at her with an open mouth.

Octavia put her cello back into its stand and dropped on all fours. She had only very briefly seen Vinyl’s eyes for the very first time and wanted to see them again. Perhaps she had just imagined what she had seen, but she just had to find out.

The cellist trotted over to the unicorn, who was now shifting around nervously behind the drums. Wordlessly Octavia used her front hooves to delicately lift the sunglasses off her friend’s face. Vinyl had them closed, but opened them after a few seconds.

A shade of purple.

Octavia was confused, that wasn’t what she had seen. She noticed that Vinyl’s eyes seemed unnatural, as if she had painted a false set of eyes over her own. The cellist noticed a very faint glow around the unicorn’s horn.

“Show me.” Octavia asked softly and gasped as Vinyl let her magic dissipate with a sigh.

The fake purple eyes faded away and revealed their natural color. Octavia could do nothing but stare at them.

They were red like rubies.

Octavia studied Vinyl’s face with wonder. She had heard the phrase “Eyes are the window to the soul.” and “To read somepony like an open book.”, but never before had actually seen it to believe it. She most certainly believed it now.

Octavia felt she was seeing the real Vinyl Scratch for the very first time. Her eyes were the most expressive ones she had ever seen. Every single emotion of the mare was open for the world to see in those ruby red eyes as they darted around nervously, avoiding looking at Octavia.

The cellist had seen ponies before with red eyes. At least in paintings, that is. The art museum in Canterlot had a few pieces that portrayed ponies with red eyes. Until now she had thought it had been an artistic choice, never had she even dreamt of seeing something like that with her own eyes.

“Freaky huh?” Vinyl asked with a shaky voice and shifted about uncomfortably.

“No….” Octavia was still lost in her thoughts and kept studying those big red eyes. They were strangely mesmerizing.

“Y…you’re not weirded out?” Vinyl briefly locked eyes with Octavia’s.

“Why should anypony be weirded out by them?” Octavia spoke in almost a whisper. “They are beautiful.”

“You think so?” Vinyl gave her a doubtful look.

“Why do you wear those sunglasses?” Octavia had a suspicion, but felt compelled to ask nevertheless.

“Kinda had a bad time growing up.” Vinyl tried a small smile. “At school they used to say bad things about them. Freak, demon and a few others things I don’t really want to say.”

Those eyes, so full of hurt and pain all of a sudden. Octavia felt disgust for the ponies who couldn’t see them for what they were. Unique and one of the greatest wonders in Equestria.

“They were wrong.” Octavia saw hope and relief in Vinyl’s eyes. The grey mare held up Vinyl’s sunglasses in a hoof for her to take. “Please don’t hide them away.”

Vinyl grabbed the shades with her magic, but hesitated to put them back on. She gave Octavia a warm smile and put them on top of her head instead, resting comfortably on her mane just above the horn.

Octavia had to put some effort into taking her eyes off the mare's eyes. She would have been perfectly content just to watch them for the rest of the day, but she could feel that Vinyl wasn’t too comfortable just yet without her sunglasses on.

“Shall we continue our little music session?” She asked and gave Vinyl a smile as she trotted over to her cello.

“Sounds good.” Vinyl let out a long breath she had been holding. With her secret now exposed it felt as if a weight had fallen off her shoulders she hadn’t even been aware of. The cellist had surprised her once again, this time by not shunning her away like to many ponies before had done, just because of the color of her eyes.

“Oh, fiddlesticks!” Octavia’s sudden outburst derailed Vinyl’s current thoughts.

“What’s wrong?”

“One of my strings is about to snap.” Octavia let out a grunt as she ran a hoof over the string in question. “I don’t have any spares left over. Guess I’ll have to go out and buy some new ones.”

“Mind if I tag along?” Vinyl asked hopefully. Thinking back to her youth brought back unpleasant memories and she didn’t want to be alone with them all of a sudden. “I’ve been cooped up here for ages and could do with some fresh air.”

“Excellent idea!” Octavia’s face lit up at Vinyl’s proposal. “Let’s go shopping!”

There was something about the glint in Octavia’s eyes at her happy exclamation that seemed ominous to Vinyl. She suddenly hoped her proposal wouldn’t backfire on her.


Shopping with Octavia was actually rather boring.

At least when it came to Octavia’s own purchases. She didn’t waste any time perusing the selection, but rather made a beeline for whatever she needed. Vinyl was very happy about that as she wasn’t much for pointless perusing herself.

She was however very unhappy when it came to things that were meant for Vinyl instead. Octavia changed her goal orientated style of shopping for the one Vinyl despised. Inspecting every single item on selection and contemplating if it clashed with Vinyl’s coat or mane.

Octavia’s original plan for coming in the clothing shop was to place another order for bowties. After Vinyl reminded her that they wouldn’t be needing that anymore, she had decided to buy something for Vinyl instead.

Vinyl found herself practically dragging Octavia away from the various items of clothing on offer. She knew she meant well, but Vinyl hated shopping for clothes with a passion. In the end she gave in to Octavia’s incessant endeavors to buy her something and was now a proud owner of brand new saddlebags. White ones with her cutie mark emblazoned on the side. Vinyl could appreciate a new pair of saddlebags, as her old one had been sold by her former landlord so long ago.

The owner of the shop had visibly blanched as his most frequent customer did not place her usual order. His plans for buying a new carriage were now in jeopardy and he resorted to raise the prices of his other wares by a few bits after the mares had left.

Vinyl and Octavia had just left the shop as Octavia called out a warning.

“Look out!”

Vinyl turned her head to whatever had alarmed her friend and was hit by a book on the nose. She dropped on her haunches and rubbed her nose with a hoof, while her assailant looked at her with embarrassment.

“Oh, I am so dreadfully sorry.” The lavender unicorn said and swished the book she had been reading and floating in front of her away to the side. “I was reading and not paying attention. Are you ok?”

“Yeah. No harm done.” Vinyl informed her and rubbed her nose one last time. “Might want to watch where you’re going.”

“I am so sorry. Normally my assistant keeps an eye out for where I go.” The unicorn turned her head to the creature on her back and gave it an angry look. “Seems like he wasn’t doing much assisting this time.”

“Hey, I am assisting you!” the purple dragon on her back replied.

“You are just eating the donuts we picked up from Donut Joe’s.” she rolled her eyes.

“That is assisting! I am reducing the weight in your saddlebags.” The dragon burped, causing a small green flame to erupt from his mouth.

“That isn’t doing anything! You are still riding on my back, only now full of donuts.” The unicorn shook her head and turned to the two mares silently watching the discussion. “Again, I terribly sorry for bumping into you.”

The musicians watched the lavender mare and the dragon her back trot away, all the time arguing about weight distribution. They just stared baffled at what had just happened.

“That was….strange.” Vinyl finally said.

“I wonder if she’s is a student of some kind.” Octavia wondered aloud.

“If that’s the case, then I took the wrong classes.” A few pegasi caught Vinyl’s eye. They were positioning a bunch of rather grey clouds above the city. “Looks like it’s supposed to rain later. Where to next?”


With a goal set Octavia led the way through the streets of Canterlot.


Vinyl enjoyed being outside. The fresh air and moving about outside was invigorating, maybe even more than she would have suspected. She still got a few looks from ponies going about their own business, but unlike a few months prior these looks were simply curious and not hostile. Had she been out and about without her sunglasses she would have attracted a lot more attention. She was nowhere ready to face other ponies without them, but had decided that within the confines of her home she would leave them off.

Buying new strings for Octavia’s cello took up a lot of time. The cellist would only be satisfied with a certain brand and the shop had to send a pony out to storage to retrieve them. By the time they had finally made their purchase it had begun to rain.

“Great. What do we do now? Wait it out?” Octavia cast a look up to the sky. The grey clouds were full of water and it seemed the rain would last for some time.

“It’s just water, Tavi.” Vinyl shrugged her shoulders and took a step out from the doorway of the shop.

“Tavi? Did you just call me Tavi?” Octavia raised an eyebrow at her friend.

“Yeah. The oc makes your name sound so hard. Thought I’d give you a nickname instead.” Vinyl looked over her shoulder and gave her a friendly smile that wavered a bit after she became unsure if the cellist would be ok with a nickname. “You don’t like it?”

Octavia smiled again, which Vinyl returned. “I like it. But that doesn’t make the weather any better.”

“It warm outside and we live only a couple of blocks away. Come on, it’ll be fun.”

“Fun? How can it be fun?”

Vinyl looked around for a moment to answer Octavia’s question. With a wide grin she jumped into a nearby puddle making a big splash.

“See? Fun!” to emphasize her point she jumped up and down a few more times with small hops.

“Are you nine years old? How can that be fun?” Octavia asked incredulously.

“Don’t tell me you never jumped around in puddles before?” Vinyl giggled as Octavia just shook her head. “Oh, you have been missing out. Come on! Try it.”

“I really don’t see the appeal.”

“Try it, try it.” Vinyl hopped again on the spot.

Octavia sighed and looked around for a suitable puddle. She found one nearby and put the tip of her hoof in the plate sized puddle.

“Yeah, that’s not going to work is it.” Vinyl stepped out of her puddle and bowed to Octavia. “Here, I shall be so kind and offer you mine to try out.”

“That’s very nice of you, but I really don’t see….aaaah!” Octavia let out a small shriek of surprise as Vinyl had walked around her and whipped her tail on Octavia’s flank. The cellist jumped into the air and landed with a splash in Vinyl’s puddle.

“Perfect landing!” Vinyl earned a glare from the earthpony. “Just one hop. Come on, I know you want to.”

Octavia gave in to Vinyl’s teasing and seeing as she was wet now anyway, she could at least give her friend the satisfaction of seeing one jump. It was only a small hop, her hooves barely leaving the water’s surface. The resulting splash had a nice sound to it and felt actually good in a way. So she hopped again, this time a bit higher.

Vinyl watched with a face splitting grin as the refined mare jumped up and down with a huge smile of her own plastered on her face. Thanks to the rain and Octavia’s movements the grey mares black hair was soaked and out of form. It gave her a wild appearance that matched the smile she was wearing.

Vinyl casually trotted up to the jumping pony, ignoring the fact that she was getting splashed with water.

“Race ya?” she asked with a smirk and saw a fire light up in the other mare’s lavender eyes.

“You are on!”


Two mares raced through the wet streets of Canterlot laughing like foals.

The few ponies that were still about looked on in surprise at the adult mares hopping from puddle to puddle. A few of them thought they might possibly be mad, but simply shrugged and went about their own business.

Octavia had the advantage over Vinyl in both speed and endurance. Earthypony heritage played a large part in it, but Vinyl was also out of shape. Her diet had been healthy and had increased her weight to almost what she had weighed before. The lack of exercise kept her lagging behind Octavia. Vinyl didn’t really mind as that gave her more chances to see the grey mare hop into puddles with gusto and grinning like a mad mare.

They sped around a corner and jumped into a large puddle wide enough for both of them. Octavia had waited for Vinyl to catch up and they both landed the same time. The splash of water was high enough to reach the front windows of the shop on the corner.

“Oi!” The owner of the shop, a rather plump stallion with a big greying mustache and wearing a brown shopkeepers coat, stopped the conversation he had been having with an equally plump mare wearing a nurse’s outfit and a saddle umbrella, to yell after the two friends.

“Watch what yer d-d-doing!” he stomped a hoof in anger that his pristine windows had been soiled with small drops of water.

The ponies responsible hadn’t even heard him and continued their race undisturbed. He grunted as he heard the nurse giggle at his outburst. While shaking his head he turned around to yell into the shop for his assistant.

“G-G-Granville! Fe-fe-fe-fetch yer cloth!”


Octavia pulled ahead again as they raced down the final stretch towards their home. She expertly jumped from one puddle to another, with Vinyl a good few seconds behind her. Her hooves pounded the wet pavement and she accelerated a bit more. She spied a huge puddle on the other side of the road and decided to get more of a lead to jump into that one.

This will be the best one yet!

Octavia jumped up high into the air and sailed a fair distance. Her jump had been angled perfectly and she would hit her target dead center. The smile on the mares face became wider as she descended into the puddle that was almost three ponies wide and at least two ponies long.

She hit the water with a much larger splash then she had reckoned with. What she also had not expected was the depth of the puddle. The water reached up halfway on her rump. Startled she looked around for a way to climb back out.

Vinyl came trotting up to the partially sunken mare and laughed at Octavia’s predicament.

“Well looky here. A seapony!”

“Very funny. Lend me a hoof would you?” Octavia extended a fore leg that Vinyl grabbed on to with one of her own. After a few grunts she managed to pull the now thoroughly soaked cellist from the depths of the inner-city puddle of doom.

“I think I am going to need a bath.” Octavia mused and glanced over herself.

“You just had one.” Vinyl smirked. Octavia didn’t respond and shook some of the water from her coat and mane. Most of it hit Vinyl who just ignored it.

“I mean a hot bath. Come on Vinyl, let’s go home.”

Both mares trotted the last few meters to their home in a more casual tempo. Each of them nodded a greeting to the porter who just stared at them with wide eyes.

Inside the elevator Octavia suddenly giggled.

“What?” Vinyl just had to giggle a bit herself as the sound was infectious.

“I had fun today, Vinyl. Thanks.” Octavia nudged the unicorn with her shoulder as they stood side by side. Despite the rough beginning of her day, Octavia had a lot of fun and even learned something more about her mysterious friend. And she had found a newfound love for puddles.

Vinyl nudged her back and beamed at the grey mare.

“With me around the fun never ends.”

Chapter 10

View Online

Weeks passed.

Octavia was on her way home after another futile attempt to get a part in a small band performing in a garden party. Her mood had not changed however and she took the rejection far better than before. In no small part due to Vinyl’s influence and her efforts to help Octavia finding a way to create her own music.

There had been no real progress in that area. Try as she might, Octavia simply lacked the spark of inspiration to come up with her own melodies. But she really enjoyed playing along with Vinyl and it always cheered her up.

The two mares got along very well. Sometimes Vinyl would have a crazy idea, like putting empty yoghurt beakers on Octavia’s hooves while she slept. The unicorn would then wait patiently for Octavia to wake up and try to walk. Octavia would soon join the unicorn rolling around on the floor with laughter at the sight and think of something to get back at her. She discovered that Vinyl had a very low tolerance for anything too spicy. So she had spiked her juice one time with tabasco sauce. The result had been hilarious to watch and Vinyl saw the humor herself some time later after she got the feeling back in her tongue.

Octavia nosed open her mailbox downstairs in the foyer, took out a bunch of mail and made her way up to her apartment. She unlocked the front door and casually kicked it closed with a backhoof after she had gone through.

“Hey, Octavia!” Vinyl greeted her from the couch where she was reading a magazine. “How’d it go this time?”

Octavia put the mail she had been carrying in her mouth on the coffee table and moved towards the music room to stow away her cello.

“No luck once again.” Her voice remained cheery however.

“That sucks….once again.” Vinyl continued her reading about the finer art of making crochet toilet seat covers. Not that she would ever crochet anything herself, let alone a toilet seat cover, but it was so absurd she just had to continue reading it.

Octavia trotted back into the living room and sat down on the short end of the couch. She briefly sorted through her mail. A couple of magazines, another letter from her parents, this time from Zebrica and….

What’s this?

“There is a letter here for you.” It was a bright pink letter and rather heavy.

“Huh?” Vinyl looked up from her article in confusion. “Nopony knows that I live here.”

“Seems like one pony does.” Octavia turned the letter around to see who sent it. “There isn’t an address, just a name. Do you know a Pinkie Pie?”

Vinyl let out a chuckle and closed the magazine she was reading. She plucked the letter from Octavia’s hoof with her magic and levitated it over.

“Yeah, I know Pinkie.” Vinyl took the letter in her own hooves and inspected it. “You remember you telling me about the senior year students taking the newbies under their wing? Well, Pinkie took me under her wing so to speak. Totally crazy mare….in a good way.”

“How does she know where you live?” Octavia asked as Vinyl levitated a letter opener from the sideboard behind her.

“She doesn’t, but still she knows. Trust me, it’s better if you don’t think about it too much.” Vinyl sliced the letter open and both mares jumped in surprise as the spring loaded confetti burst out accompanied by a “Tweet!” sound.

“What was that!? A bizarre assassination attempt?” Octavia pressed a foreleg to her now rapidly beating heart.

“Just Pinkie.” Vinyl said cryptically and grinned while brushing off some of the confetti from her face.

“Is she a friend of yours?” Octavia asked and calmed down a bit, when it was apparent that no more surprises would occur from the letter.

“Yeah. You could call her a friend. Haven’t seen her in ages though.” Vinyl levitated the card inside out of the envelope.

“Shame there isn’t an address, otherwise you could write back and keep in touch. It’s important to keep in touch with ponies that are close.” Octavia mused and remembered she would have to post a few letters of her own very soon.

“Yeah….” Vinyl seemed strangely sullen for a moment, but her smile returned when she opened the card. The clearly hoofmade card had been made with great care and love. The message spelt out in all colors imaginable.

“What is it?” Octavia asked and stretched her neck to sneak a better view of the bright and colorful card.

“Just a birthday card. Pinkie always sends me one.” Vinyl set the card down on the table and began picking up the pieces of confetti with her magic.

“It’s…’s your birthday?!” Octavia stood up with shock. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“It’s no big deal. I just got a year older and maybe a year wiser. Nothing special.”

“But…but you need a cake!” Octavia stomped a hoof on the floor and just stared at Vinyl hoping she would understand the gravity of the situation.

“Nah. It’s no big deal as I said. I don’t need a cake.” Vinyl casually shrugged and deposited the bits of confetti on the coffee table.

“You must have a cake on your birthday! It is the law!” Octavia put her front hooves on the table and scattered the pile of confetti inadvertently.

“The law?” Vinyl gave her a flat look. “I seriously doubt that there is a law that states you must have cake on a birthday.”

“Then I just made that law!” Octavia’s eyes went wide for a moment. “I am the law!”

Vinyl watched as the grey mare scrunched up her face and let her lower lip droop at bit to the right while saying the last sentence.

“You ok?”

“I am the lahww!” she said once more and Vinyl just stared at her at a loss for words. “Judge Dreck? Sly Stallione? I am the law? Didn’t we watch that one yet?”

Vinyl carefully shook her head at her friend’s odd behavior, not knowing the movie she was just quoting.

“Oh never mind, we’ll watch it some other time.” Octavia shook her head once and got back on track. “You still need a cake!”

“Relax, Tavi. I haven’t had cake for my birthday in the last ten years or so. It’s not something I am going to miss.” Vinyl waved her friend’s idea away with a hoof.

Octavia backpedaled into the closed door of the music room. She clutched a hoof to her chest in melodramatic fashion.

“What?! Ten years without cake!” Vinyl wasn’t sure if Octavia was just playing her part or was genuinely shocked. “That has to be rectified immediately!”

“No, really. I don’t need anything like that for my birthday. Hay, if Pinkie hadn’t sent a letter I most likely would have forgotten all about it anyway.”

“No, no, no. Not another word. You shall have cake and that is final, Vinyl.” Octavia giggled at her little rhyme. “You wait right here, I’ll be back shortly.”

Before Vinyl could voice any kind of protest the grey mare had already left the apartment.

“I don’t even like cake all that much.” Vinyl said to an empty room.


Vinyl used the time alone to write a letter. The words Octavia had said made her think about one pony in particular she had not been in touch with for some time. She planned of rectifying that mistake while she still had the nerve to do so.

She had just written the last sentence as the front door opened. Octavia’s poked her head through the gap and cast a curious glance at the new object in her living room.

“Vinyl? What’s that?”

“That arrived while you were out.” Vinyl nodded to the large box standing in the middle of the room.

“HA! Perfect timing!” Octavia grinned wide almost splitting her head in two. “Do you mind waiting in your room for a while? I’ll call you when I am finished.”

Vinyl gave an affirmation back and trotted to her room with the letter in tow. Once there she carefully slid the letter into an envelope. She would have to ask Octavia for the bits to send it away later. Vinyl grimaced as she licked the envelope closed and with nothing better to do flopped on her bed. She heard Octavia do something in the kitchen, but held her curiosity in check. It was going to be a surprise and Vinyl didn’t want to ruin it.

After a few minutes Octavia called to her again.

“Would you come into the living room please?”

Vinyl did as was asked and trotted into said room. Apart from the large box and a widely smiling grey earthpony nothing was out of the ordinary.

“Open it!” Octavia said and pointed a hoof at the box.

The unicorn had not lost any thought on the box thus far. It was clearly marked as being sent to Octavia and she didn’t feel the need to look inside. Now however her curiosity was awakened and she carefully pulled of the plastic straps binding the box off with her magic.

One tug of the lid later and the sides fell over revealing its contents. For once Vinyl was speechless as her eyes grew large at the sight now before her.

It was a brand new deck, but it was nothing like her old one. This one was state of the art with the very best that bits could by. It must have cost a small fortune.

“You like it?” Octavia asked with slight worry evident in her voice at her friend’s sudden lack of movement.

“I…I don’t know what to say. This is more than I ever could have imagined.” Vinyl very carefully approached the deck and ran a hoof over the pristine dials and knobs. The speakers alone would have cost ten times more than her entire old deck had. “Thank you, Tavi.”

Octavia beamed at the entranced unicorn.

“Sorry it took so long. I ordered it the very next day after we had started playing together.” Octavia explained while Vinyl inspected her new equipment. “Problem was that no store in Canterlot has these things and it took a while to get here.”

“Y…you shouldn’t have.” Vinyl stammered still not quite believing that this piece of high tech was now hers.

“Nonsense. You said yourself that you can remix anything if you had a good instrument to use. Well now you do and the timing couldn’t have been any better.” Octavia tapped Vinyl on the shoulder with a hoof. “Come on. There is more!”

Vinyl followed the earthpony towards the kitchen. Octavia made her close her eyes and promise not to open them. She complied and wondered what her friend had planned next. Octavia guided her inside the kitchen by wrapping a foreleg around her neck.

“You can open them now.” Octavia said and Vinyl could actually hear her smile.

Vinyl did as instructed and opened one eye carefully. She let out a small gasp of surprise at the sight before her.

“Surprise!” Octavia was beaming with joy at the unicorn’s facial expression. “I got you some cake.”

Some was an understatement. Every available surface had an entire cake on it. Each cake was of a different flavor and decorated differently. Vinyl’s eyes darted from a strawberry cake with pink frosting to a lemon cake with chocolate ornaments on top.

“That’s a lot of cake.” She said while still reeling from the sudden onslaught of any foal’s favorite dream.

Octavia pulled her along to the cake resting on one side of the table. It was the only one that had lit candles on top.

“And now you have to blow them out and make a wish.” She instructed and released the mare from her grip.

“What kind of wish?” Vinyl had not had a lot of luck when it came to wishes in the past.

“Any kind, Vinyl. That’s what wishes are for. Just wish for something that comes from the heart and it may come true.” Octavia nudged her towards the table.

Comes from the heart…

Vinyl shrugged as a wish made its way to the front of her mind. With a deep breath she blew out the candles and Octavia clapped her front hooves together in celebration. The wish had been a foalish one, clichéd at best. Vinyl wished to find happiness everlasting and felt slightly silly for doing so.

“Happy birthday, Vinyl!” Octavia hugged the unicorn for a moment and a glint appeared in the cellist’s eyes. “Now let’s have some cake!”

“You think we can eat all of it before it spoils?” Vinyl asked and was a bit at a loss on where to start eating.

“We can try. There isn’t much else we can do.” Octavia shrugged and trotted over towards a cupboard to retrieve some plates.

A sudden thought hit Vinyl. There was something one could do with cake apart from eating it. It was something she had often thought about during her classes in Culinary Arts, but never had the chance of actually doing it. Now, here….maybe that chance was back and Octavia surely wouldn’t mind, would she? It was Vinyl’s birthday after all and she could do with her cake anyway she pleased.

“Oh, I have an idea.” Vinyl slid over to the cake next to the one with candles in it. It was already pre-sliced which made it easier for Vinyl to put a slice of it on her hoof.

Octavia stopped her search for plates and turned to the unicorn to see what she had planned. The slice of cake hit her right in the face. She staggered backwards a bit and carefully opened a cake-covered eye, only to see a broadly grinning unicorn carefully grabbing another slice.

“Care for a cake fight?” Vinyl asked with a mischievous look on her face.

Octavia licked her lips and tasted some of the cherry-cream cake that covered part of her face. With a mischievous smirk of her own she turned to the nearest cake and readied her own weapon.

“You are on!”


Two mares sat in a cake plastered kitchen quietly eating a slice of the undamaged cakes. Both of them were equally covered in sugary goodness, but neither really seemed to care.

“This is good cake.” Vinyl said matter of factly.

“Yes, it is quite exquisite.” Octavia replied in the same tone of voice.

“Looks good on the wall as well.” Vinyl nodded towards the massive stain on the wall to her right.

“Best not to get too attached.” Octavia cast a look upwards. “It will have to removed, just like the one on the ceiling.”

The cellist looked over to the formerly white unicorn, now a unicorn with many different colors sticking to her coat. She giggled at the sight.

“Did you enjoy your birthday?” she asked and saw her friend grin wildly.

“Best birthday ever! I think I shall always have some cake from now on.” Vinyl giggled at the sight beside her. Octavia’s grey coat was equally streaked and stained by cake. The best part in Vinyl’s opinion was the large dollop of whipped cream on the cellist’s head.

“Seriously, this was one of the best days I ever had. And you…” Vinyl levitated a cherry that was halfway intact on to the mound of cream of Octavia’s head. “You are the cherry on top.”

Octavia giggled and gave the unicorn a big hug, seemingly undisturbed by the state their coats were in.

“Aren’t you sweet.” She kissed Vinyl’s cheek. “Literally sweet…..and sticky. I think I’ll have a quick shower and wash this mess off. Then you can have one while I get started on the debris.

The earthpony released the other mare from her hug and trotted towards the bathroom. Vinyl sat motionless and wasn’t too sure what was happening.

She pressed a hoof to her chest to feel her suddenly rapidly beating heart thump away under her ribs. The unicorn didn’t move for some time, trying to make heads or tails out of that sudden feeling. She heard Octavia hum a tune while showering. Vinyl blinked at a sudden realization.

You’re falling for her….

The voice in her head had a decisively amused tone to it.

Am not…

Yes, you are. You can still feel her lips on your cheek…

Vinyl shook her head to clear away her thoughts. It didn’t help as the voice spoke up again.

Her cute smile, those bright eyes, her sweet personality with traces of crazy. Oh, you are definitely falling for her.

No, no, no. I don’t think of her like that.

Yet you would just love to bury your muzzle in the soft fur behind her ears.

Aaaargh! Stop it!

The absurdity of having an argument with herself in her mind was lost on her at that moment.

I don’t even know if she likes mares!

One way to find out. You could just casually waltz into the bathroom and offer to scrub her back…

Stop it!

Vinyl groaned and planted her face into the rest of the cake in front of her. She stayed like that for a while, happy that the voices had died down. Octavia spoke up beside her after finishing her quick shower.

“You really seem to like cake.”

Vinyl groaned very quietly.


A month had passed after Vinyl’s birthday and things were becoming difficult for her.

The nagging voice had not spoken up again, but she was still forced to admit that maybe her feelings for Octavia weren’t just based on friendship. To her at least, she still had no idea what Octavia thought about it.

Vinyl had thought about it constantly on how to bring it up, but simply found no way of casually asking the cellist on her views about the subject. She most certainly didn’t have the courage to just ask her either.

There was no way of telling how Octavia might react. Would she be overjoyed and embrace Vinyl with passionate kisses or would she recoil in disgust and ask her to leave? One thing was clear to Vinyl and that was not to endanger the friendship she had with her.

What didn’t make that any easier for her was the fact that she began noticing smaller details about the grey mare that she previously hadn’t even registered.

The way Octavia would scrunch up her nose when eating olives. The little snort of contempt when the villain of the movie they were watching would say or do something evil. The way she flicked her ears rapidly when something tickled them.

She found herself more often than not simply staring at the mare while watching movies or just talking about random events. Octavia would sometimes ask why she had that funny look in her eyes and Vinyl just casually remarked that she was thinking about something. It was strange sort of hell she had suddenly found herself in.

The alleviate herself from those thoughts, Vinyl had decided to try and find a job. Now armed with a brand new deck, a good appearance and a more positive attitude she did indeed find a job.

Some of the hotels dotted around Canterlot employed her as the musician for their lounges. Vinyl had lasted an entire hour at the very first hotel before she was fired.

She had simply tried to do what she did best. Make ponies dance. That of course was the last thing on the mind of the hotel owners who just wanted her to play a few of their pre-selected tracks as background music. Vinyl was many things, but a glorified gramophone was not one of them.

So she went from hotel to hotel and not lasting more than a few hours at most before she couldn’t take the boredom any longer and promptly got fired. Currently she was wheeling her equipment back to the apartment after being fired once again.

She was surprised to hear the slow music being played on a cello when she entered through the door. Octavia didn’t have any auditions scheduled for some time, so something else must have soured her mood.

Vinyl checked the music room and found it to be void of any earthpony. That was strange, as Octavia always played in there as long as Vinyl could remember. She wheeled her deck into the corner of the living room and trotted towards the source of the music, Octavia’s bedroom.

She knocked on the closed door and heard the music stop. Vinyl heard Octavia say something very quietly and took it as an invitation to open the door.

Octavia was sitting on her bed with the cello resting against her shoulder. One look into the cellist’s face told Vinyl that something was bothering her in a major way.

“Tavi?” Vinyl was worried and trotted a few steps closer.

“How did it go at your job?” Octavia didn’t look up and just stared at the wall. Her voice was quiet.

“Got fired again, but this time I actually lasted a whole four hours. A new personal record.” Vinyl shifted on her hooves uncomfortably. “Tavi, what’s wrong?”

Octavia took a deep breath and let it out in a drawn out sigh. She shifted the cello from her shoulder on to the edge of the bed. Then she hopped down from the bed on to all fours and looked at Vinyl. There was something about the grey mare’s body language that did not sit well with the unicorn.

“Vinyl, we need to talk.” She said with a hint of uncertainty and sadness. Vinyl backpedaled a few steps.

“Oh no, no, no.” Vinyl gave a small humorless chuckle. “Every time somepony says that to another pony something bad follows.”

“This is important.” Octavia gave Vinyl a look that she interpreted as pleading. After letting out a sigh of her own, she sat on her haunches and waited for what Octavia wanted to say.

“You remember me telling you that I had met my professor that one time after an audition?” Vinyl nodded as she recalled that bit of information. “He said he would get in touch with a former colleague of his and see if there would be a part for me with her musicians. I sent a letter of my own there, after she contacted me. She sent me a letter back this morning, saying I had the part. She wants me to start next month, that’s eight days from now. All I have to do is send a letter telling her that I accept.”

“Tavi that’s great!” Vinyl smiled at her friend, but let it fade as the grey mare wasn’t smiling.

“It’s in Manehatten.” Octavia said quietly and turned her gaze away from the unicorn. “I sent my acceptance away this morning.”

Vinyl tried to speak, but found her voice not working anymore. Not even her mind seemed to work as it was just blank. A thought finally made its way out.

“You’re leaving?” Vinyl just stared blankly at her friend.

“I’m sorry Vinyl. I would have told you sooner about it all, but the way things have gone for me in the past I really didn’t think I would get the part.” Octavia turned to look back at Vinyl, her face a mask of conflicting emotions. “This may be my only chance to actually play and let ponies hear what I do. Perhaps that’s my way into the Royal Canterlot Orchestra.”

“You’re leaving…” Vinyl felt hollow inside. She had never thought that Octavia would ever leave Canterlot. One thing was certain and that was that Vinyl couldn't stay here even if Octavia insisted. It may have felt like home, but that was only because her friend was here, her one and only friend. The prospect of losing her suddenly made her eyes begin to water.

Octavia stepped a bit closer and was now almost within reach of the unicorn. Vinyl briefly toyed with the idea of confessing her feelings for the cellist, hoping that might change her mind and stay after all. Then she remembered that she had vowed to help Octavia achieve her dreams at whatever the cost. She would have to let her go.

“Listen I had….” Octavia began and stopped again to collect her thoughts. “I am not too happy about leaving Canterlot and facing a new city. It even scares me a bit to be honest. I…I would like to know if you would come with me?”

Vinyl blinked and for a moment thought she had not heard correctly. Octavia saw her silence as a cue to keep on talking.

“I heard that Manehatten has a few clubs and such that may be good opportunities for you to find your own career. I know that you are unhappy with those jobs you do at the hotels and you have just been fired again. I know it isn’t easy to just leave for a new city, but..”

Octavia’s desperate rambling was cut off by Vinyl, who put a hoof to the cellist’s mouth. Vinyl grinned at her friend.

“You had me signed on already at the first part.”

Octavia smiled relieved and rubbed her face with her hooves. Then her demeanor changed to one of joy.

“Thank you, Vinyl. I couldn’t do it without you.” Octavia wasted no time and turned her mind towards the things they would need to do. “I’ll get in touch with somepony in Manehatten to find us a place to stay. Then we’ll have to pack whatever we need. This has suddenly turned into something rather exciting hasn’t it?”

Vinyl felt so immensely relieved that she couldn’t even put it into words. She just kept smiling at the knowledge that even though they would be leaving Canterlot, they would still be together. Vinyl slung a foreleg around Octavia’s neck and gave her a quick squeeze.

“Watch out Manehatten! Here we come!”

Chapter 11

View Online

Two days until moving day.

Vinyl watched Octavia pace about in the living room. The cellist had become more and more agitated the closer the day came for them to leave Canterlot behind. It had become even worse once she had a moving company pick up the items too big to transport on the train, Vinyl’s deck and Octavia’s cello.

That was one day ago and already the grey mare was starting to miss her instrument more than Vinyl had expected. Seeing the effects of the separation made her feel bad for having put her friend through the same emotions when she had soiled the cello.

Vinyl decided to take her friends mind off her instrument and sat up on the couch to draw more attention to herself. Octavia just kept pacing and mumbling about something the unicorn couldn’t pick up.

“Is there anything else we need to take?” Vinyl asked and very briefly managed to stop her friend’s movements.

“No. I believe we have everything we need.” Octavia resumed her small laps around the room.

“What about your movies?” Vinyl pointed a hoof behind her to where the reels were hidden behind the wall.

“Best to leave them here. I don’t know if we’ll have the space for them in the new place.” Octavia shook her head. “We’ll just have to go to a movie theatre if we want to watch something.”

That might be interesting.

Vinyl wondered how the other patrons would react to Octavia’s unique style of watching films. She glanced about the living room for other things they might want to take.

“The statues? Are we taking any of them?” The relatively small statues would probably fit inside a saddlebag.

“They are my mother’s. I’d rather leave them here to be honest.” Octavia sat down and a look of uneasiness washed over her face.

“Tavi?” Vinyl moved away from her seated position and walked up to her friend with worry.

“Are….are we doing the right thing?” Octavia asked and her voice wavered a bit. Vinyl sensed that she was having doubts.

“Hey, you said this could be your big chance.” Vinyl placed a hoof on her friend’s chest to stop her from moving about again. “And I’ll help you take it.”

Vinyl had spent a few restless nights many weeks ago, lying awake trying desperately to come up with some way of repaying Octavia for everything she had done. Once she had regained her strength she had begun to clean up after the untidy cellist and tried to cook for her. Sort of like a maid and a cook combined.

Octavia’s reaction had been mixed. She loved Vinyl’s cooking very much, but didn’t feel well with having Vinyl thinking she would have to be her personal servant. So they had agreed on sharing their chores around the house and Vinyl was left looking for some way of repaying her.

Then Octavia’s problem of lacking the ability to create her own music had appeared. Vinyl had leaped to her aid, but it was pretty clear that the cellist really didn’t have the ability. It would take a lot more work to unlock that skill set. Vinyl was convinced that everypony had basic creativity and just needed the right inspiration to unlock it.

Right now Vinyl saw another chance at repaying her friend for her kindness and generosity. She made sure she had Octavia’s full attention before speaking again.

“I am going to help you to get into the Royal Galloping Symphony!”

“Royal Canterlot Orchestra.” Octavia corrected automatically.

“Yes, exactly.” Vinyl stared into Octavia’s worried purple eyes. “I will make sure you get the chance you deserve.”

“M…Manehatten isn’t really the nicest place some ponies said to me. Perhaps it might be dangerous and…and…” Octavia’s nerves were fluttering and the intense stare of Vinyl’s red eyes didn’t help much.

“Don’t listen to everything ponies tell you.” Vinyl’s softened her look and smiled at her friend. “And I am going to be there with you. I won’t let anything bad happen to you….ever.”

Octavia briefly tried a smile and locked eyes with Vinyl again. “Promise?”

“I promise. I’ll even Pinkie promise!” Vinyl went through the routine that Pinkie Pie had taught her a few years ago. Octavia giggled and managed a genuine smile again.

“What is a Pinkie promise?” she asked.

“Just the most important promise you can give to another pony.” Vinyl was dead serious. Octavia continued to smile and she felt some of the nervousness slowly leave her system.

“Thank you, Vinyl.” Octavia chuckled. “I’m just nervous about leaving Canterlot. Silly isn’t it?”

“I can understand. You’ve never left the city before have you?” Octavia shook her head at Vinyl’s question. “Don’t worry. It will be fun, you’ll see.”

“You’re right. It will be fun with you there.” Octavia beamed at the unicorn. “Besides, Manehatten can’t be so bad. I even have a friend already living there.”

Vinyl managed not to frown.

Ah yes….the “special” friend.


The train from Canterlot to Manehatten was crowded.

Every available seat had been taken and some ponies even resorted to spend the trip standing in the corridor. Vinyl and Octavia had luckily reserved the seats in advance. That had been a suggestion by Octavia’s friend.

Vinyl wasn’t sure about her. Octavia hadn’t really said anything about her friend, except that she was a unicorn as well and musically inclined towards the classical side. And that was it, no mention of her possibly being an ex-marefriend or something along those lines.

All Vinyl knew was that Octavia called her special and that she would pick them up from Manehatten’s main station. Octavia placed a lot of trust in the mare and had given her the task of finding a suitable apartment for the two Canterlot mares. Vinyl had not been in a position to object and was even happy that somepony took over her unloved task of finding a place to live.

It would take another couple of hours until they would reach Manehatten. Octavia had fallen asleep beside Vinyl and was resting her head on the white unicorn’s shoulder. The contact made Vinyl’s heart beat faster and she tried to make it as comfortable as possible for her friend.

Vinyl watched the landscape zoom past the window, while Octavia snored a little. Her thought’s revolved around her feelings for the grey mare and how she would voice them and especially when. Vinyl cleared the thoughts away with a small shake of her head. What was important above her own feelings was to make sure Octavia would be able to get closer to her dream.

After that…..maybe there would be a chance to tell her how she felt.


Manehatten’s station was a lot bigger than Canterlot’s station. Multiple tracks led into the large building and a constant stream of trains would enter and leave around the clock.

Canterlot was Equestria’s main city, but Manehatten was Equestria’s hub for all things related to trains. Passenger transport, cargo transport and even massive construction equipment would pass through Manehatten at some point.

With such a huge business came a lot of ponies. The station wasn’t just full, it was overpacked. Now it made sense to the mares why they could not bring their musical equipment with them. Trying to get through the sea of ponies without large heavy equipment on their backs was difficult enough.

Octavia felt slightly claustrophobic as she was herded towards the end of the platform by two other passengers beside her. She couldn’t really move and was just being dragged along between the ponies. Vinyl was less affected by being wedged in between unknown ponies and was actually smiling. That was mainly due to being stuck behind Octavia and having to rest her head on the cellist’s lower back as they climbed some stairs. Not an entirely unpleasant feeling she had to admit.

They left the platform after a few minutes of awkward shuffling. The crowd dispersed a bit and gave them enough room to move around by their own will. Both of them trotted away from the stream of ponies and held a lookout for somepony that would pick them up. They spotted the pony they were looking for at the same time.

A few meters further along a unicorn mare was constantly jumping up to get a better view over the ponies milling about in the station. She was seemingly undisturbed by some of the comments that the ponies near her said. Her face formed into a huge smile when she spotted the pair of Canterlotians stand to the side and looking at her. Excitedly she pushed her way through the oncoming stream of ponies before coming into full view of them.

She was a mint green unicorn, her mane and tail were a very light slightly greyish cyan color and had a streak of white in them. The mare’s golden eyes were beaming with joy as she came closer. On her flank was a cutie mark representing a lyre.

“Oc-ta-vi-aaaaa.” The mint green unicorn said in a sing song voice and hugged Octavia close, the instant she was close enough. Vinyl already didn’t like her.

“Haven’t seen you in ages, but you are still as gorgeous as ever.” The unicorn gave the cellist a quick glance all over. “How have you been, babe?”

Vinyl was now silently grinding her teeth at the overly friendly greeting the unicorn had given her friend. Her mind was going into overdrive at the implications surrounding the word “babe”.

“I am great! It’s so good to see you again!” Octavia beamed at the unicorn and hugged her once more. Then she stepped back a bit and stood beside Vinyl once more. “Vinyl Scratch, meet Lyra Heartstrings.”

“Hey, how are you? Excited to be here? Cool shades by the way.” There was no hug for Vinyl, instead a hoofshake was exchanged. That was a pity, as Vinyl felt the need to hug the other unicorn. Hug her really really tight, preferably around her neck.

“Yeah, I’m having a blast.” Vinyl said dryly. Octavia gave her a curious glance, but Lyra just ignored the tone.

“Come on, ponies. You have a new apartment to look forward to.” Lyra led the way out of the station.

It took them nearly fifteen minutes of pushing and shoving before they finally stood outside under the open sky. Most of the pushing and shoving had been done by Lyra, who also exchanged a few very colorful words with some of the local ponies. Other ponies not from Manehatten just silently made way. Octavia and Vinyl followed in the mint green mare’s wake.

The sidewalk outside of the station was just as crowded as the inside. Again they followed Lyra’s rather robust way of clearing a path through the sea of ponies, until they reached a taxi carriage station to the side of the train stations main building. Lyra quickly signaled for a carriage and inspected the seat before ushering her two guests inside.

This was the first difference between Canterlot and Manehatten that the two friends noticed. The carriage was filthy, the seat partially ripped, a few floorboards cracked and it smelled rather strange.

“Where’dyawannago?” the driver asked without pausing between words. Lyra seemed to understand him perfectly and gave him an address. He slowly trudged off and away from the station.

“Do you mind maybe getting us there today?” Lyra said to him sharply. He turned to face her to reply in the same tone of voice.

“Whadd’ya mean? You sayin’ I’m slow?”

“Slow? You’re making slugs look fast! Get your hooves moving, otherwise we’ll rather walk ourselves.” Lyra tapped a hoof on the side of the carriage. With some mumbled very choice words the driver did indeed increase his speed.

Vinyl and Octavia exchanged a glance with each other, both unsure of what to make of that little event. Both of them shrugged, while Lyra grinned at them. They turned to watch the city move by them.

One thing was clear very early. There were a lot more ponies living here than in Canterlot. The sidewalks were packed as ponies walked along side by side towards their destinations. And there were a lot more shops here than in Canterlot. Much smaller businesses seemed to exist side by side with larger stores. Some of the stores had immaculate storefronts that seemed inviting, others were what one could call run down and Octavia hoped she would never need to set hoof in one of those shops.

Much like the stores, the ponies walking by were just as diverse. Obvious tourists walked along with ponies whose character seemed dubious at best. It was so very different to Canterlot. Vinyl had less of a problem with the diversity of the shops and ponies. It reminded her of Las Pegasus that could be just as crowded at most certainly had its share of shops and ponies of questionable integrity.

Octavia on the other hoof seemed taken aback by the things she saw and instinctively leaned a bit closer to Vinyl. The unicorn saw that as a small victory, as the earthpony was sitting between both unicorns and had chosen to turn to Vinyl instead of Lyra.


The ride was spent in relative silence. Lyra would sometimes point out certain landmarks or argue with the driver when he tried to take a detour through the city. Finally they arrived at their destination.

The neighborhood seemed reasonably quiet and nice. At least in comparison to some of the areas they had passed on the way here, but it was still a far cry from what they had left behind in Canterlot. Lyra led the way into the five story building after having paid the driver and briefly argued with him again just for good measure.

“Are all carriages like that one?” Octavia asked as Lyra held the front door to the foyer open for them.

“Nah, that one was clean and reasonably friendly.” Lyra said with all seriousness. She waved a hoof around to encompass the small foyer. “Like it? The mailboxes are over there beside the door that says maintenance only.”

There was no porter, the red carpet on the floor had seen better days and the windows were in need of cleaning. Other than that it seemed decent, if maybe a bit lived in.

“Your place is on the fifth floor. No elevator I’m afraid.” Lyra led the way upstairs. Much like the rest they had seen, the stairs could do with some cleaning, but were still in reasonably good shape.

Octavia and Vinyl were breathing heavier once they arrived on the top floor. Lyra wasn’t breathing heavy and seemed totally unfazed by the tempo she had laid down.

“I live on the seventh floor and also don’t have an elevator.” Lyra explained as she saw the unspoken question on their faces. She trotted down the hallway until stopping in front of the room on the south side of the building.

“Only four apartments on this floor. So you won’t have too much noise from your neighbors I hope.” She grinned at the two friends as she unlocked the door. “And this….this is your new place.”

Vinyl begrudgingly had to admit that Lyra had chosen well. The apartment was nothing like the one in Canterlot, that was clear, but it had nice furnishings and was very clean and tidy. The two friends trotted inside to inspect it a bit more thoroughly.

The living room had about the same size as the one in Canterlot, only now it included an open kitchen and a medium sized dinner table suitable for four ponies. The large L-shaped couch was a distant memory and instead a small two-seater couch took its place along with two comfy looking chairs in the same design. In front of the seating furniture a light brown coffee table was placed. A few empty bookshelves lined the wall where in the previous place Octavia would have her movie collection. The wall where the projector screen would be was instead a large window showing the view over a large park.

The third of the room containing the kitchen was decent. It had been obviously used by the former residents, but was still in good shape. The same was the case with the dinner table and seats. A few scratches here and there, two or three stains, but overall very useable.

Lyra led them along a short hallway opposite the dinner table. A flick of a light switch revealed four doors. Lyra opened the closest one and turned on another light.

The two friends peeked inside the room. It was the bathroom and also about the same size as the previous one. The bathtub had lost its huge size to accommodate both a washing machine and a dryer in the room. Again, everything was used but in good shape.

The next room was the first bedroom. A nice view at the city could be seen out the window, with some of the buildings considerably higher than the one they were currently in. The room wasn’t much to make it stand out. A medium sized bed, a wardrobe, a cupboard and a nightstand was all that was to it.

Across from that bedroom was the other bedroom. Apart from the view it was identical to the previous one. Lyra opened the final door and grinned as the musicians made a beeline to the objects within the medium sized empty room.

Octavia carefully checked her beloved cello for any kind of damage sustained during transport. It took a fair few minutes before she was satisfied and relaxed visibly.

Vinyl was less pedantic while checking her deck. She made sure that all of her records and tapes were safely stowed away in their compartments and checked if any of the numerous dials had been moved. Out of reflex she had removed her sunglasses to get a better look.

“Whoa!” Vinyl looked up at Lyra’s sudden outburst and saw her staring at her. “Cool eyes!”

Vinyl blinked at the still smiling unicorn and wasn’t too sure how to react. At least the mint green mare had not freaked out at the sight.

“Uhm…thanks?” she lamely replied.

“You picked a wonderful apartment for us! Thank you so much for doing that for us.” Octavia spoke up and beamed at the musician turned apartment hunter.

“I know what you like.” Lyra grinned and Vinyl glared at her for that remark. “Just wait until it gets dark. The city at night is really cool to see.”

Lyra trotted back out of the empty storage room that would function as a music room, into the living room again. Octavia followed her and Vinyl, deciding that she didn’t want to leave those two alone, followed the cellist a moment later.

The mint green mare had sat down on one of the comfy chairs, while Octavia took seat on the couch. Vinyl sat down beside her and tried to send a signal to the other unicorn, who just obliviously kept smiling at the pair.

“How’s Bon Bon?” Octavia asked and Vinyl perked her ears up.

What’s a Bon Bon?

“Working.” Lyra casually replied and relaxed in the chair. “Will arrive here in a couple of minutes I guess.”

What followed was a bit of smalltalk that Vinyl only paid a bit of attention to. She rather spent her time thinking about a possible past relationship between the other two mares and what that might mean for her. She caught herself glaring at Lyra a few times, but the mint green unicorn only grinned at her in return.

Vinyl found herself disliking her more because of that reaction.

A knock on the door ceased the smalltalk about trivia about the city. Lyra jumped up from her seat and trotted to the door. A beige earthpony mare with a curly blue mane and tail that had a pink streak in them, entered and immediately trotted up to Octavia, giving her a big hug.

“So good to see you again!” The mare had an unusually deep voice, but was very friendly and her light blue eyes shined with happiness. Octavia returned the hug and beamed at the mare.

Another “special” friend?

Vinyl’s thoughts were interrupted as the mare turned to her. Very much to her surprise the earthpony hugged her with a lot of strength. At least she was friendly, that was certain.

“You must be Vinyl! I am Bon Bon.” The beige mare released her victim before anything could break and beamed at her.

“Hi!” Vinyl rubbed her ribs, but smiled at the other mare. “How did you know who I was?”

“Octavia wrote about you a few times and I don’t think there are any other ponies around with your eye color.” Bon Bon explained and moved towards Lyra, who was still standing beside the door.

She writes about me?

Vinyl gave the cellist a glance, who avoided looking at her for the moment. Before she could think about what that might mean something else caught her eye.

Bon Bon gave Lyra a quick kiss on the lips that the mint green mare returned with a loving smile.

So at least one of my suspicions was correct.

Vinyl’s mind painted a number of scenarios in her head. It seemed very likely that Octavia might have had a relationship with that Lyra mare that wasn’t just based on friendship. Did that mean Vinyl could possibly have a chance with her? Or would Lyra try and rekindle her relationship with her instead? And what had happened that Lyra had to leave Canterlot?

The questions circled around Vinyl’s head without answer. The other three mares were chatting away again and Vinyl tuned in just as Octavia was about to ask a question.

“I might need a few items and supplies, do you know where I can buy them around here?”

Bon Bon’s face lit up with a wide grin at the question, while Lyra rolled her eyes at what was about to come.

“I sure do! Let’s go shopping!”

Vinyl winced.

Chapter 12

View Online

Vinyl sighed quietly as the four mares trotted towards a large clothing store.

She really didn’t like this kind of shopping. Going from one store to the next just to have a look around. Octavia didn’t mind as much and was more interested in talking to her old friends. Vinyl, feeling like a fifth wheel, trudged along with them.

The stores in Manehatten were nothing like the ones in Canterlot. Here every single customer was greeted with a friendly smile and was asked if they needed any assistance. Almost all shops in Canterlot had a certain snobbiness to them, as if it should be a privilege for the patron to even set hoof in the pristine shop.

Vinyl saw a few stores she would have to visit again on her own time. A music store with a deck in the storefront similar to her old one seemed like a good place to visit. For now she just followed the others and tried to learn more about Octavia’s friends.

She didn’t learn all that much. Bon Bon loved to chat, but most of it was just about the things that Octavia and Vinyl just had to see. The only piece of personal information that the beige mare kept talking about were her concerns about her weight. Vinyl thought she was just being overly dramatic. Sure, she wasn’t as thin as Octavia, but she most certainly wasn’t fat or even plump. Just a regular weight befitting an earthpony. Vinyl actually liked the mare for her sunny disposition and sometimes snide remarks about the shops they should avoid.

The mint green unicorn on the other hoof…..

Vinyl was very much aware that Lyra didn’t like shopping all that much either. The mare rolled her eyes and smiled whenever Bon Bon would suggest another shop to go to. She was also rather quiet and only joined in on the conversation when it was about her.

What really bugged Vinyl was that Lyra would very often just watch her and smile. That damned little smirk on the green mare’s muzzle! It was slowly becoming more than just a little irritating and Vinyl glared back at her everytime she noticed. The effect was of course wasted as Vinyl had once again donned her sunglasses.

The quartet entered the clothing store and Vinyl decided to get away from them for a minute.


Vinyl curiously eyed the wide selection of socks in one of the back rows in the shop. These they most certainly did not have on open display in Canterlot that was certain. Not that Vinyl had ever looked for them. Her mind was wandering into rather interesting fields and she didn’t notice somepony approach her.

“Are you interested in a pair of black socks, maybe?” the voice said.

“I was thinking more about pink ones.” Vinyl voiced what her mind had presently painted as an image in her head. It had been a reflexive answer and she quickly shook her head as to not say anything more. She turned to address the salespony, only to find herself staring at the widely grinning face of Lyra.

“Yeah, of course you were thinking about pink ones.” Lyra’s grin almost spilt her head. “The same shade as a certain cutie mark I reckon. I bet they would look lovely with a grey coat.”

Vinyl tried to hide her blushing face away by sticking it in between a few socks on display. Of course it just had to have been Lyra that had caught her.

“You wouldn’t happen to have been thinking about a certain cellist?” Lyra teased.

“I have no idea what you are talking about.” Vinyl growled back. She wasn’t going to play the grinning mare’s game and that constant smirk on her face was really annoying.

“Oh don’t say that, Scratch.” Lyra trotted a few steps closer and was now right beside the other unicorn. “I saw how you look at her.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Vinyl pulled her head back out of the soft fabrics and turned on the mint green mare.

“Take off your shades and I’ll tell you.” Lyra just kept smirking and waited for Vinyl to do the next move.

“Fine.” At least red eyes were good for giving ponies an angry look. Vinyl glared at the mare, but Lyra didn’t even flinch. “So?”

“Yeah, that angry stare doesn’t work on me that well.” Lyra peeked over the top of the shelf they were standing behind and looked to where Octavia and Bon Bon were. The mare’s were still chatting happily away and trying on various scarves.

“I know that look you have in your eyes when you look at her.” Lyra said and turned back to Vinyl.

“What look? What do you mean?” Vinyl was still on the defensive and most certainly not willing to admit anything to the mare in front of her.

“That’s the same look I had in my eyes back when I first met Octavia.” Lyra admitted. Her smile widening as Vinyl’s furrowed her brows further. So her suspicions were correct.

Vinyl suddenly disliked the green mare even more and there was a new feeling mixed in. She was jealous.

“I just want to know what your intentions are.” Lyra said and despite her smile, her eyes had a hard glint to them. “I want to know if this is just a onetime thing you’re after or something else.”

“Why?” Vinyl’s eyes had the same hard glint to them as she narrowed them. “Is this going to be one of those ex-marefriend-still-keeps-tabs-on-her scenarios?”

Lyra chuckled at Vinyl’s snarled response.

“Oh, I’m not an ex-marefriend.” The eyes of the mint green mare twinkled with amusement as she saw the confusion in Vinyl’s face.

“But you just said…”

“I said I had the look in my eyes. Seriously, can you blame me? Just look at her.” Lyra studied Vinyl’s face for a few moments, before speaking again. “What did Octavia tell you about me?”

“Not much. You were part of that program for new students and you left Canterlot soon after graduating. She said you were special.” Vinyl explained and was now curious at what really had been going on between them. Lyra snorted with amusement at Vinyl’s last sentence.

“Special. Heh…yeah I guess you could call me that in Canterlot terms, if you didn’t want to offend me.” Lyra lowered her voice a bit to make sure that nopony could overhear them. “Perhaps I should tell you a bit about me. It’s pretty obvious that you don’t really like me all that much and I can see why.”

Lyra checked around for any possible ears that might have listened in. Once sure that she was out of earshot from anypony, she sat down on her haunches.

“When I met Octavia, she had just signed up for that student program to find somepony to help her around the campus.” Lyra smirked again at some memory she was reliving. “I saw an opportunity to get close to her like that and quite frankly….get some of that flank. I took her under my wing to eventually get her under me, if you know what I mean.”

“Nothing happened, so don’t jump to any conclusions.” Lyra waved the hard look she was receiving from Vinyl away with a hoof.

“I found out pretty soon that Octavia wasn’t interested….no, that’s the wrong word.” Lyra scrunched up her face trying to find the right words. She sighed and changed her approach. “You know that Octavia is very driven by her goals, right?”

Vinyl nodded. “Yeah. She want’s to get into the Royal Canterlot Orchestra.”

“Well, at the time that was her final goal. First she wanted to pour everything she had in her studies and excel in them. I realized that pretty soon and from previous experiences I would have just left her alone.” Lyra shook her head at the way things had been back in university.

“Why didn’t you?” Vinyl asked with growing curiosity.

“Because I felt sorry for her.” Lyra sighed.

“Sorry for her? But why? She has money, a great place to live, is a musical prodigy…” Vinyl was baffled.

“Yes, she has all that, but…..” Lyra folded her ears down. “She didn’t have any friends. I somehow doubt she ever had any to begin with. So I hung around and befriended her. I don’t think I have to tell you that she is actually really cool and just maybe a bit crazy with her movies.”

Despite Vinyl’s reservations towards Lyra she had to chuckle.

“She really likes her movies.” Vinyl added and smiled at the memories she had with Octavia watching terrible action movies.

“We became friends. Good friends.” Lyra continued. “So I try and look out for her a bit when I can.”

“From Manehatten? Why not from Canterlot?” Vinyl asked and saw the mood of the mare shift away towards angry.

“I had to leave.” The lyrist said with a snap. She grimaced and swallowed a few more words down. With a sigh she let the anger leave her and changed the topic.

“I really really wanted to meet you for a very long time.” Lyra said and had that hard glint in her eyes once again.

“W..why?” Vinyl suddenly felt uncomfortable.

“Octavia and I keep in touch by writing letters to each other.” Lyra explained. “After she first mentioned you, I was already halfway to the station to buy a ticket back to Canterlot.”

“What did she write?”

“She wrote that you threw up over her cello.” Vinyl shrunk back a bit. “I have the tear-stained letter still at home. You can thank Bon Bon for holding me back and not going to Canterlot to find you and teach you some manners.”

“What happened back then…” Vinyl began, but was cut off by Lyra with a wave of her hoof. The mint green Unicorn had that little smirk on her face again.

“Relax. I am not going to start a fight with you, besides I know that you fixed it. Octavia wrote me all about it. I was more than a little surprised to read that she took you in some time later. All she said was that you had fallen on some rough times.”

“Yeah, really rough times….” Vinyl snorted with dry humor and noted the other unicorn still watching her closely. “Guess you could say that if it hadn’t been for her, I wouldn’t be here anymore.”

“So is that it? You are doing all this to repay her for her kindness?”

“What? Doing all of what?” Vinyl asked uneasily.

“Befriending her. Helping her with her music. Wanting to take her for a roll in the hay.” Lyra answered flatly.

“No!” Vinyl rapidly shook her head. “It’s not because of that. I mean I am really thankful that she helped me, but that isn’t why I am helping her or being her friend.”

“And what about the roll in the hay?” Lyra watched the white unicorn cringe with discomfort. She decided to put Vinyl at ease. “Listen, anything said here between us will stay between us.”

Vinyl didn’t relax and just studied the mint green mare in front of her. She seemed to be truthful and Vinyl couldn’t see what she would want with that kind of information.

“Octavia is my friend and I don’t want her to be heartbroken.” Lyra said after it was apparent that Vinyl would not say anything. “Is this just a onetime thing?”

“Why would she be heartbroken?” Vinyl wasn’t sure what to make of that. Could it be that Octavia had feelings similar to those that Vinyl had? Did Lyra know something or was she just guessing?

“My question first, Scratch.” Lyra’s smirk vanished and her expression turned serious.

Vinyl debated if she could trust this mare or if it would come to bite her in the flank at some point. Still, she needed to vent her feelings to somepony and it was obvious that the mint green unicorn would not relent so easily.

“It’s not a onetime thing.” Vinyl finally said with almost a whisper. Saying it out loud for the first time made her realize just how deep her feelings for the cellist actually were. Something invisible weighing on her heart suddenly lifted after admitting her feelings openly to somepony for the first time.

Lyra’s demeanor changed back to a more friendly one. Gone was the serious frown and the hard glare in her eyes, she even smiled a little.

“That’s good to know. Have you told her?” Lyra asked and raised an eyebrow.

“No, I… wait, wait, wait.” Vinyl held a hoof up and collected her own thoughts first. “What about my question? Why would she be heartbroken?”

“’Cause you are good for her.” Lyra answered immediately.


“I have an entire drawer full of old letters from Octavia.” Lyra began to explain. “Most of them are about her studies during her time at university. After that she wrote about her not being able to find a good position and such. Then you arrived and she started writing about movies, cakes and the joys of jumping into puddles.”

Vinyl couldn’t help but grin along with Lyra at that piece of information.

“You have a positive effect on her and I think she wouldn’t take it very well if you would do something stupid.” Lyra eyed the other unicorn carefully. “Have you told her how you feel about her?”

“No.” Vinyl’s reply was no more than a whisper.

“Why not?”

“I don’t even know if she likes mares.” Vinyl pawed the floor for a moment and thought for a couple of seconds. “Do you know if she does?”

“No idea.” Lyra answered. “You could just ask her.”

“I can’t do that.” Vinyl sighed.

“Why not?” Lyra asked again and tilted her head a bit while waiting for the answer.

“Because that might complicate things.” Seeing Lyra’s raised eyebrow, Vinyl elaborated on her answer. “What if she is freaked out by me asking something like that? I came here with her to help her reach her goals and not for my sake of finding a marefriend.”

“Her goals being?”

“Getting into the Royal Canterlot Orchestra of course.” Vinyl shot Lyra an irritated look as the mint green unicorn snorted at the mentioning of the Orchestra.

“That’s it?”

“Y…yeah? All I really want for her is to be happy.”

“Hmmm….” Lyra put a hoof to her chin in thought. “You think that’s the only thing that would make her happy? She is happy now.”

“I…I know, but it is her dream. Her goal in life and I won’t stand in her way.” Vinyl explained and felt slightly uncomfortable under the gaze of Lyra’s golden eyes. “When….when she has reached her goal, perhaps then I can tell her how I feel.”

“Might be too late then.” Lyra said quietly.

“Huh? Why?” Vinyl was confused. Not only by Lyra’s remark, but also because of her now once again frowning expression.

“Well, the Orchestra is…..” Lyra trailed off and thought for a moment. After a long sigh she checked where the other two mares were. After seeing them still happily chatting away on the far side of the store she turned back to Vinyl. “Ah expletive it! Guess I’ll just have to tell you the entire thing.”

“Did you just say expletive?” Vinyl asked and gave the mint green unicorn an amused look.

“Bon Bon says I swear too much. So she came up with that idea.” Lyra explained and rolled her eyes.

“Does it work?”

“It sounds expletively dumb, but yeah…it usually does the trick.” Lyra shook her head clear before addressing the actual topic on her mind. “I studied classical music as you might have guessed.”

Lyra sat down on her haunches before continuing. Vinyl did the same and carefully listened to the other mare, still not quite sure about her.

“Well I graduated top of the class. Then came that little contest which I won.” Lyra explained it without any tone of pride. “Two weeks later I was invited to audition for the Royal Canterlot Orchestra. They accepted me and I was on the top of the classical music world. I even performed with them twice.”

“What happened?” Vinyl asked after Lyra had fallen silent for a few seconds. Something obviously wasn’t easy for the mint green mare to tell and Vinyl’s interest was piqued.

“Bon Bon.” Lyra answered and smiled a little. “I met her during that contest. She was part of the catering service during the event. Let’s just say the real prize I took away from that contest was her.”

“She made you leave Canterlot?” Vinyl verbally prodded the other unicorn.

“In a way….yes.” Lyra sighed again, trying to think of how to explain everything to Vinyl. “What do you know about the classical arts? I don’t mean the music, I mean the entire thing surrounding it.”

“Uh…like ponies and stuff?”

“Yes. Ponies, tradition, proper etiquette. That kind of stuff.” Lyra snorted angrily, but Vinyl realized the anger wasn’t directed at her.

“Nothing really. Not really my scene, so I never hung out with any of them or was invited to anything like that.” Vinyl explained.

“They are very strict with traditions and proper behavior. Anything deviating ever so slightly from their norm is shunned.” Lyra explained and swatted angrily at a pair of socks on display.

“Like you?” It wasn’t really a question.

“I never hide who I am and will show it. Guess you can figure out how that went.” Lyra didn’t give Vinyl a chance to reply. “When they found out about Bon Bon they demanded that I deny even knowing her and focus on the music. That the entire thing with her was just a remnant of my university days. They turn a blind eye towards anything that happens during that time. I told them with some choice words what I thought about that. A lot of expletives. That went about as well as you can imagine. Long story short, they threw me out of the Orchestra.”

Lyra sighed and toyed with a pair of red socks on display with a hoof.

“And then you moved here with Bon Bon?” Vinyl asked when it became apparent that Lyra needed a prompt to continue.

“Nah. At first I thought I would just find another job somewhere else in Canterlot. Turns out that news about me spread like a wildfire throughout the city. Nopony would even touch me with a ten foot pole. And those were just the friendly ones. I lost everything just because I would not bow to their antique perception of social norms. Hay, even my Mom turned her back on me.” Lyra’s ears folded down at the memory.

Vinyl was at a loss for words. She knew full well that the Canterlot populace was stuff and snobby, Octavia being the notable exception, but she had not reckoned with them being that rigid in their beliefs, especially considering the things that happened in university.

“The only one that didn’t turn her back on me was Octavia.” Lyra continued and briefly smiled. “I think she simply didn’t understand what the big deal was. Since nopony apart from her and Bon Bon would even talk to me, I was left with a choice. Leave it all behind or try and bullhead my way through. Bon Bon finally persuaded me to leave and come with her to her hometown, so we moved here.”

“And now you play in an orchestra here?” Vinyl asked and caused Lyra to snort with dry humor.

“Yeah right. Word about me traveled all over Equestria’s classical world. They all know about me and after a few unpleasant encounters I just gave up. Now I work in a small stand selling newspapers and magazines.”

Vinyl gawked at the mint green mare. For a moment she thought Lyra might be joking. One look at the serious expression of the lyrist told her that it was not the case.

“But what about your music? Don’t you want to play?” Vinyl finally asked.

“Oh I do play, just on a smaller scaled audience.” Lyra smiled a small smile. “I play for Bon Bon and sometimes just for myself. That’s all I need. Sure there are some ponies that need to play their talent for many to see, I couldn’t care less.”

“Unlike Octavia.” Vinyl had murmured her thoughts quietly enough for Lyra not to hear them.

“The bits were nice when I still was playing for the Orchestra in Canterlot.” LYra continued and had not heard Vinyl’s mumblings. “Could sure do with them now.”

“Why? Something big planned?” Vinyl asked out of reflex, her thoughts were going over what Lyra had said again and again.

“Well we… we’ll tell you both at a later time. It’s mainly Bon Bon’s idea and I don’t want to spoil her surprise.” Lyra said with a smirk.

Both unicorns sat in silence for a few moments. Vinyl was digesting the information she had received and all the while Lyra kept watching her. Five minutes passed until Vinyl looked the other mare in the eye again.

“Why did you tell me all of this?” she asked.

“Cause I want you to know what’s at stake. For both of you.” Lyra stood up and walked up to the white unicorn. She pressed a hoof against Vinyl’s chest before continuing. “I think you are a good pony, Vinyl. Octavia will never reach a decision by herself, she is just too fixated on her goals to notice anything else. It’s up to you I’m afraid.”

“Great. No pressure then.” Vinyl sighed and Lyra chuckled.

Both mare’s ears perked up as they heard Bon Bon call Lyra’s name across the store.

“Think about what I told you.” Lyra said again and walked away from the sock display with Vinyl following her closely.

“Yeah….I’ll do that.” The white unicorn said and was still feverishly mulling everything she had learned over in her head.

“If you need advice or help with something…..just ask.” Lyra said and gave Vinyl a genuine smile.

Not only did Vinyl have plenty to think about, but it seemed as if her initial thoughts about Lyra had been wrong. The mint green mare was ok in her book now. Amongst the socks on display she may have just found another friend.



Something that wasn’t on Vinyl’s top ten list of things to do. Yet it was fairly entertaining thanks to Lyra and Bon Bon. The mare’s showed them the best places to eat, shop or watch movies without having to put a huge drain on their finances.

“And this!” Bon Bon exclaimed and waved a hoof around encompassing everything that could be seen. “This is Time Square!”

Both Octavia and Vinyl looked at each other with puzzlement before turning their looks back to the place they were currently standing in. It was a square plaza about the size of two hoofball fields. In the center a large sundial dominated the otherwise empty square. On the buildings surrounding the plaza every single available space had a clock attached to it.

“What’s the time?” Lyra joked.

“Uh…that’s a lot of clocks.” Vinyl said mesmerized by the constant ticking of the countless clocks.

“Strangely, if you want to actually buy a clock, you’ll have to go elsewhere.” Bon Bon explained.

“I thought Time Square was full of bright lights and theatres?” Octavia asked and felt slightly overwhelmed by the plethora of time pieces.

“That’s Times Square. It has an extra s.” Bon Bon explained and pointed a hoof in the direction where the mentioned road was. “We’ll get there later. Let’s make our way to the Statue of Happiness first.”

All four mares were glad to leave to constant ticking clocks behind as they made their way to the next destination led by Bon Bon.


“Welcome to the Big Apple!” Lyra said and laughed at the expression on the faces of the two newcomers.

Vinyl and Octavia stared at the enormous stone statue of an apple in the center of a small park. Neither one knew what to say for the moment.

“Hehe. Yeah, that was my first reaction as well when I first saw it.” Lyra chuckled and led the way to a large bench in the shade of a tree. “Let’s get off our hooves for a moment.”

Lyra didn’t wait for a reply and flopped onto the bench, glad to have the weight off her hooves for a moment. The others did the same and let out a collective sigh. A rumbling noise broke the momentary silence. Vinyl gave the inquisitive looking mares a sheepish grin.

“I could do with something to bite.” She said and her comment was punctuated once more by a rumbling from her stomach.

“I have just the thing.” Bon Bon said and rummaged around in her saddlebags. After a moment she pulled a small paper bag out and offered it to Vinyl.

Using her magic Vinyl levitated the bag over and peeked inside. It was filled with an assortment of sweets. Toffees, gummy ponies, various drops and other sweets. A dentists nightmare and Vinyl’s secret weakness. Without even waiting a second she grabbed a hoofful of sweets in her magic and passed the bag on to Octavia.

The very first thing she ate, a lime green gummy pony, sent her taste buds into overdrive. She had eaten plenty of sweets in the past, but this one was without any contest. Eagerly she tried a piece of toffee and nearly moaned in delight.

“You like them?” Bon Bon asked with a smile as she watched Vinyl ravenously devour another piece of candy.

“These are awesome!” Vinyl said and happily chewed on a piece of taffy. “Where can you buy them?”

“I made them myself.” Bon Bon answered with pride and was amused at the awestruck expressions on Vinyl’s and Octavia’s faces.

“Don’t you sell them?” Octavia asked and slowly chewed her piece of candy with more revere than she had before.

“Oh, I work in a candy store, but only as a cashier.”

“You should totally sell these. You would make a fortune.” Vinyl said to which Octavia nodded in agreement.

“One day maybe.” Bon Bon answered and shared a smile with Lyra. The meaning of which eluded the other two mares.

“You’re not having any?” Octavia asked after a moment.

“Uhm, no. Not right now at least.” Bon Bon explained and slightly winced.

“Why not?” Vinyl decided to grab a few more pieces of the delicious candy.

“Oh, you’ll see.” Lyra answered instead with a snicker. Bon Bon lightly elbowed her in the side, causing the unicorn to chuckle some more.

Octavia was intrigued by that remark, but chose to ask a different question that was on her mind. She pointed a grey hoof towards the large statue.

“What is the meaning of that giant apple?”

“That’s been around for a long time now.” Bon Bon cleared her throat before continuing. “Back when Manehatten was just beginning to grow as a city, one of the very first items that was traded here were apples. Thanks to them Manehatten eventually became the largest hub for import and export in Equestria.”

Bon Bon grinned wide after her explanation.

“My old school teacher would be beaming right now. Happy that I at least remembered a bit of his lessons.”

The four mares finished off the last pieces of candy and left the monument behind as they trotted towards their next destination.

“What is next?” Octavia asked and sniffed the salty air indicating that they were nearing the shoreline.

“Only the most famous place in Manehatten.” Lyra stopped and pointed a hoof out to sea. “The Statue of Happiness.”

Between the trees they could barely make out a large imposing statue standing on a small island. Almost everypony in Equestria knew about the Statue of Happiness, but seeing it live made Octavia smile in anticipation.


As usual the ferry towards the statue was full of tourists.

The four mares stayed close together and watched as the large statue grew closer and closer. Amongst the chatter of the other tourists one of the four did not feel like talking one bit. She had in fact become very quiet and stood as far away from the water as possible.

Lyra chuckled and turned to the other mares. “And that’s why Bon Bon didn’t want anything to eat.”

The mentioned mare gave her marefriend an angry look, but didn’t dare say anything. Her normally beige color had a distinctive green tint to it in the area of her face. Neither Vinyl nor Octavia had any problems with the ride across the water, but sympathized with the seasick mare. Octavia gave her an encouraging slight pat on the back, which caused Bon Bon’s green facial color to turn a shade darker. She burped once and Octavia decided to not try and comfort her any further.

“Why does she look so grumpy?” Vinyl asked.

“Who? Bon Bon?” Lyra asked back.

“No, I mean the Statue of Happiness.” Vinyl nodded towards the statue. The facial expression of the mare in robes, holding aloft a large torch, was most certainly not one of happiness or joy.

“Perhaps she doesn’t like the water either.” Lyra chuckled. “There is a certain resemblance if you look closely. Especially the color is a perfect match.”

Bon Bon glared at her laughing marefriend and hoped the journey would be over soon.

After what seemed like an eternity to the sweet maker, the ferry arrived at the small island. The mares waited at the base of the statue until the beige earth pony had returned to her usual color. Together they began the long walk up numerous stairs towards the top of the statue. Once on top, the strenuous journey up was paid in full thanks to the spectacular view.

Together with the numerous other tourists Vinyl and Octavia joined in the chorus of ooooh’s and aaah’s. Seeing the large tall buildings dominate the skyline was unlike anything the two had seen before. Octavia fell silent at the sight and Vinyl also took the time to try and sort out her thoughts.

Ever since the talk she had with Lyra, she had been silent for the most part trying to wrap her head around everything. A pretty much futile task as her senses were continuously bombarded by the sights and sounds of the new city. Up here in relative silence she was able to think more clearly.

Any thoughts about the silent mare standing at her side were blown away as they heard a familiar voice laugh out loud. Both mares turned to see what was going on.

“Come on Lyra! Don’t you wanna see the view?” Bon Bon had both forelegs on the railing and leaned over the edge. Her mint green companion had a magical hold on the earthpony’s tail and watched her from the safety of the center of the platform. Where Bon Bon had previously taken on a shade of green very similar to Lyra, the unicorn now had a color in her face very close to the color of Bon Bon’s coat.

“What’s the matter? The view is awesome!” Bon Bon said and dangled a bit further over the railing. The action made the unicorn blanch even more and emit a strangled sound.

“I’m fine where I am.” Lyra said very quietly and was sweating heavily. The normally brash unicorn was obviously very uncomfortable about heights and Bon Bon’s little actions, born out of revenge for the remarks during the ferry ride, did not help her feel any better.

“Not much a fan of heights are you?” Vinyl asked and decided to leave her musings for a later time with peace and quiet.

“You can tell?” Lyra answered flatly.


The ride back to shore and Manehatten proper was silent. Lyra was still trying to recover from Bon Bon’s antics and the sweet maker was once again trying her best to keep the contents of her stomach inside.

Halfway towards their next destination both mares were back to their usual self. Lyra grinned at Vinyl as they trotted along past a few shops.

“You are going to like the next part.” Lyra said and nodded towards the end of the street.

Vinyl’s interest was piqued and she hoped it had something to do with sweets or something else to eat. All the walking and climbing stairs made her hungry. As it turned out it was neither, but something even better.

“And THIS is Times Square.” Bon Bon said to Octavia as they rounded the corner.

Octavia wished for a moment to have a pair of sunglasses of her own. The bright neon lights that seemed to be everywhere blinded her for a moment. Advertisements were plastered on every available surface with bright colors or as neon lights, constantly flickering in the sea of light. It wasn’t even fully dark yet and Octavia could only imagine what it would look like in the evening. Canterlot had no such splendor or one might also say overindulgence in lights. For the first time Octavia truly felt alien in this town.

Vinyl Scratch on the other hand felt right at home. The bright lights, countless advertisements for live shows, massive crowds of ponies and a faint thumping of a deep bass somewhere not too far away, made her feel like she was back in her hometown of Las Pegasus. With the memory of her hometown came a few unpleasant memories. Reflexively she winced and Lyra took notice.

“Come on. I know the perfect street for you Vinyl.” The mint green unicorn led the way across Times Square down a street with less bright advertisements and billboards. She had mistaken Vinyl’s expression for one of discomfort and at the same time was right about Octavia’s discomfort.

The bright neon lights lessened as they moved away from Times Square and at the same time the bass that Vinyl had heard grew louder. Her heart was beating in her chest as the beats coming from the numerous clubs in the street grew more intense. Vinyl had secretly hoped that there would be some kind of music scene that was more her style. Now confronted with an entire street full of clubs her own ambitions that had gone nowhere in Canterlot seemed to be attainable.

With a face splitting grin and nodding her head along with the beats she followed Lyra further along the street. Bon Bon and Octavia closely behind them chatting away once more.

They had almost reached the end of the street when Vinyl froze in mid-trot. Octavia stumbled into her and was now resting halfway on top of the white unicorns back. A not too uncomfortable experience in Vinyl’s book, but at the present time she didn’t even notice it.

“Vinyl? What’s wrong?” Octavia asked as she regained a more dignified position by sliding off Vinyl’s back on to her own hooves.

Vinyl didn’t even hear Octavia’s question. Her ears were perked up and straining to hear something amongst the noise of all the clubs. A track being played in the club they were near stopped and the noise level dropped a bit.


Vinyl picked up on something she had heard and set off in the direction she thought the sound was coming from. In doing so she trotted past Lyra who had not noticed the group behind her stop.

“Uh…Vinyl? Where are you going?” Lyra watched the other unicorn trot past her without even acknowledging her. She joined her two friends in following the white unicorn along the street.

Only at the end of the street did Vinyl stop. She stood in front of a club and was straining to hear the same thing from before.

“Vinyl?!” Octavia and the others had caught up to the other mare and were standing beside her. “What’s going on Vinyl?”

“I heard something.” Vinyl answered and for a moment thought she had just imagined it. Then without warning the music inside the club flared back up again. Vinyl’s facial expression was now one of shock and confusion.

“Are you ok?” Octavia asked and studied her friends face with worry.

“The music….” Vinyl simply said and didn’t know what was happening.

“Kinda catchy.” Lyra commented after listening for a moment. “No idea who made it though.”

“I do.” Vinyl answered. “It’s one of mine.”

Chapter 13

View Online

“Are you sure?” Octavia asked carefully.

“I know my own work, Tavi.” Vinyl replied and trotted towards the door on the side of the club.

“That’s the exit.” Lyra informed the unicorn, halting her in her movement. “The entrance is around the corner.”

Without giving a reply Vinyl started moving again. Her thoughts were racing as why one of her tracks was being played in Manehatten. There really was only one logical solution, but she wanted to be sure before acting.

Around the corner the entrance presented itself to the unicorn. As was to be expected a bouncer stood at attention and scanned the crowd. Or he would have done so if there had been a crowd to scan. Only two pairs of ponies were waiting in line to be let in. As it was still relatively early the really big crowds had not yet arrived.

A bulletin board behind a glass panel caught Vinyl’s attention. She trotted past the bouncer and the pairs to the other end of the wall to inspect it further. Sure enough it was what she had hoped it would be. Various DJ’s were advertised inside, each with a picture and dates when they would be playing. The one pony she had reckoned with was also displayed, albeit with a relatively small picture.

“Neon….” Vinyl growled his name. Her entourage had followed her silently and just watched her strange behavior.

“Who?” Lyra asked and received no reply.

“Neon? Are you sure it’s the same one?” Octavia asked and watched her friend with worry. Vinyl was seemingly furious and it was the first time that the cellist had ever seen her friend angry before. It didn’t suit the otherwise cheerful DJ one bit.

“No mistake about it.” Vinyl mumbled and turned back towards the entrance. The pairs waiting in line had been let inside in the meantime.

Vinyl forced her anger down for the moment as she approached the bouncer. Being angry would most certainly not help her get in the club. Octavia followed her reluctantly and hoped to stop Vinyl from doing something rash. Lyra and Bon Bon followed them a moment later, still not understanding what was going on.

The bouncer gave each mare a quick look and waved them inside. At another time Vinyl would have been overjoyed to be in a club with her style of music. Right then and there all she had running through her mind was how to get to her former friend and give him a piece of her mind and if possible a facefull of hoof.

Vinyl spotted her target immediately. Neon Lights was sitting behind his DJ deck on stage and nodding his head along with the beat. The whirling lights danced over the dance floor briefly illuminating dancing ponies. The club itself was bigger than it had seemed from the outside and while not really packed full of ponies at the moment still had attracted a large crowd.

Knowing that she would not be able to get her hooves on Neon while he was on stage, Vinyl trotted over to an empty booth out of his sight and sat down while not taking her eyes off the stallion. Octavia sat down beside her nervously shifting her eyes between Vinyl, Neon on stage and the numerous security ponies dotted around the club. Lyra and Bon Bon sat opposite them and were still just confused at what was going on.

Lyra jabbed a hoof at the round crystal embedded in the middle of the table they were sitting at. Instantly the music died down considerably and enabled the ponies to talk to each other at a normal level.

A soundproofing spell. Neat.

Vinyl guessed that that kind of equipment wasn’t standard and this was one of the more high profile clubs. She gritted her teeth when she realized that Neon was playing here with some kind of moderate success thanks to her music.

“Do you mind telling us just what is going on here?” Lyra asked and kept looking back and forth at the cellist and the DJ.

“Do you know that stallion?” Bon Bon asked.

“He stole my song.” Vinyl snarled her reply.

“How?” Lyra asked with a raised eyebrow. Her question was a good one and had been on Vinyl’s mind all this time. She had a theory about how he had acquired her music.

“About two months before graduation I had started making a tape to play during the contest post-graduation.” Vinyl explained in a calmer tone, but didn’t take her eyes off the DJ on stage. “At some point I couldn’t find it anymore. I just thought I had lost it and didn’t think about it any further. All the tracks were still saved on my deck, so I hadn’t really lost anything. He must have stolen my tape when I wasn’t looking.”

“So you know him? Another student? A friend of yours?” Bon Bon asked, trying to understand the situation.

Vinyl chose not to answer if he was a friend. The words on her mind were most certainly of the expletive kind and would possibly scar Bon Bon for life. Instead Octavia answered for her.

“He was another student. Placed fourth in our contest and I didn’t like him them already.” She explained. “My opinion lowered even further after I found out what he tried to do to Vinyl.”

“What did he do?” Lyra was all ears and her tone almost bordering on angry.

“Not only did he steal some of her prize money, but also got her drunk to then try and…you know.” Octavia didn’t want to have to say it, but seeing the reaction on Lyra and Bon Bon’s faces she knew she didn’t have to.

“Hang on.” Lyra raised a hoof. “Got Vinyl drunk. So drunk that she might throw up on your cello?”

“Yeah, that was because of him.” Vinyl answered.

“Hohoho.” Lyra’s laugh was cruel and without any mirth. The sound making Vinyl take her eyes off her target for the first time. “I reaaaaaally would like to talk to him.”

Vinyl’s expression when angry was worrysome, Lyra’s expression now spelled trouble. She was pissed and unlike Vinyl had far less self control. A beige hoof shoved her back into her seat when she tried to get up.

“Don’t even think of doing something stupid.” Bon Bon hissed at her. The warning tone in her voice caused the mint green mare to stay seated.

Vinyl turned to watch Neon Lights perform some more. A more professional side of her thoughts began to take over as the show went on. Reluctantly she had to admit that Neon Lights knew what he was doing.

The transitions between songs was very smooth and he had tried to emulate her style to a certain degree. It was still apparent which were hers and which were his tracks. The crowd knew it as well. With pride Vinyl noticed that the crowd danced more when one of her tracks was playing. During Neons tracks the crowd was less enthralled and didn’t move as much.

And that’s where Neon’s main flaw was. He played the music not for the crowd, but rather just for himself. That was fitting as Neon Lights was most certainly his own biggest fan. Vinyl wondered if he would learn from the crowd’s reaction, but it was a safe bet he didn’t pay them any attention.

The four mares sat in silence patiently watching the show continue. They must have just arrived as his performance was nearing its end, as after only five songs he let the music die down and proceeded to pack up his stuff. The crowd stomped their hooves in appreciation and Vinyl wondered what it would be like to have that directed at her at some point. Neon obviously didn’t care all that much as he paid the ponies no more attention.

Lyra stood up and avoided Bon Bon’s grasp on her.

“Where are you going?” the beige mare asked and began to stand up as well.

“I need to use the little filly’s room.” Lyra explained and gave her marefriend a disarming smile. “Wanna come with?”

“No, I’ll wait. I have no desire to wade through various puddles of unknown origin.” Bon Bon said and sat back down.

“I’ll be back in a bit.” Lyra said and trotted off into the depths of the club and out of her friend’s sight.

“What do we do now?” Octavia asked and nudged Vinyl in the side.

“We wait.” Vinyl said and turned her attention to the cellist. “I really want to have a talk with him and get my tape back.”

“I understand.” Octavia seemed nervous. “But let’s not try and cause too much trouble, ok?”

“I…I’ll try.” Vinyl knew that it wasn’t the best way to start their very first day in Manehatten with a fight, but she wouldn’t just let him get away with it either.


Ten minutes later Neon Light had not reappeared. Bon Bon was getting nervous about Lyra’s whereabouts and frowned at the mint green mare as she finally rejoined them in the booth.

“A lot going on.” Lyra answered Bon Bon’s question before she could even voice it. “So…..shall we go outside?”

“We haven’t seen Neon yet.” Vinyl answered back and kept scanning the crowd for any sign of the stallion.

“Might be wiser to wait for him outside.” Lyra commented. “A lot of security here and they don’t look all that friendly.”

Vinyl had to admit that the lyrist had a point. Picking a fight or confrontation with him here on essentially his own turf, wasn’t going to end well.

“Yeah. Ok, let’s wait for him outside.” Vinyl finally agreed and led the way towards the exit.

Octavia kept looking at her friend with worry. She didn’t like where this entire thing was going at the moment. Getting into a possible physical confrontation with others wasn’t on her list of things to do in a new town. Still, the stallion had harmed her friend in a few ways and if it indeed would come to anything hostile she would stand by Vinyl.

Once outside they took position across the street and kept their eyes trained on the exit. Vinyl went through various spells she knew that might hinder Neon if he tried to run. Nothing really suitable came to her mind. Perhaps she could trip him by grasping a leg with her magic.

As it turned out it wasn’t even needed. Lyra nudged Vinyl in the side and levitated something towards her.

“Here’s your tape.” Lyra said with a smirk.

“I…uh…huh?” Vinyl stared dumbly at the tape floating in front of her face. “How did you get that?”

“Lyraaaa….” Bon Bon stretched out her marefriend’s name in warning. The effect was obvious as Lyra folded her ears down and flinched slightly.

“I just accidentally bumped into him near the restrooms, had a nice chat and after giving him a friendly pat on the back he gave me the tape, that’s all.” Lyra explained quickly and grinned sheepishly.

“Lyra Heartstrings!” The angry glare that the beige mare gave her mate would have sent dragons running away in terror. Lyra flinched back even further and shifted uneasily on her hooves. “What did you do, Lyra?”

“Weeeell…I may not have accidentally bumped into him as much as ambushed him backstage where nopony saw us.” Lyra admitted earning an even angrier glare from Bon Bon. Vinyl was suddenly very happy that the glare wasn’t directed at her. “And the nice chat may have been me calling him a few expletive names.”

“And the rest?” Bon Bon demanded to know.

“I kinda took the tape from him while he was on the ground.” Lyra was now almost touching the ground with her head, but still kept her eyes on Bon Bon’s. Vinyl and Octavia just stood by and watched dumbfounded.

“And why was he on the ground if I may ask?” Bon Bon raised an eyebrow.

“I rather not have you ask.” Lyra said, but quickly continued before the other mare had a chance to respond. “The friendly pat on the back? It may not have been all that friendly. Aaaaand it may not have been his back, but rather a….lower area.”

Lyra was sweating now under the gaze of her mate. Bon Bon threw her head back in frustration and stomped a hoof on the ground.

“Lyra…we’ve talked about this.” Bon Bon groaned.

“Yeah I know, but this isn’t some kind of anger management problem.” Lyra explained hastily. “He did something bad to our friends. What else was I supposed to do? Just stand idly by?”

Bon Bon rolled her eyes and was about to counter that there would have been plenty of options available, but in the end she just sighed.

“I guess I can see your point.” Bon Bon finally said earning a sigh of relief from Lyra. “And he was a total flankhead for doing those things.”

“Flankhead?” Vinyl felt the need to chime in. “I thought you didn’t swear.”

“Oh no. Nothing wrong with swearing, just when it becomes slightly excessive I find it to be rather annoying.” Bon Bon explained.

“Bucking right.” Lyra said with a grin that soon wilted when Bon Bon gave her another smaller glare. “We…uh should maybe leave soon. He should slowly have regained his voice by now and not just squeak in a high pitched tone. Best not to be here when he tells security.”

Seeing that it was the most sensible idea all evening the four mares quickly trotted away, back towards the brightly light area of Times Square.

“Thanks, Lyra.” Vinyl said to the mint green unicorn at her side after they had walked a while in silence.

“Hey, what are friends for?” Lyra answered and smiled at the DJ who gladly returned it in full.


“Well? What do you think of them?” Octavia asked as she filled a cupboard with groceries that they had bought on the way back to their apartment.

The evening had ended with Lyra and Bon Bon in a restaurant. After which they said their goodbyes and promised to meet up together again the next day.

“Lyra and Bon Bon?” Vinyl asked and saw Octavia nod in affirmation. “They are really cool!”

“I am happy you like them.” Octavia smiled, but something was off. Vinyl glanced over to the cellist and saw how she had a small frown on her face. Before Vinyl could ask what was wrong , Octavia spoke up again.

“You are not…. How do I put this.” Octavia paused in her actions for a moment to find the correct phrasing. “You do not disapprove of them? You know…because they like each other.”

Vinyl didn’t answer straight away. Perhaps this was an opening to address her own liking of the cellist. Octavia mistook the silence as Vinyl not understanding what she meant.

“They like like each other. Really like each other.” She said again hoping the DJ would understand what she was hinting at.

“Yeah, I know what you mean Tavi.” Vinyl chuckled at the cellist’s efforts to make her get the meaning of what she was saying. “I am cool with it. I like it….err I mean I don’t have anything against that. Totally down with other mares…I mean I am totally fine with what they do….uh…yeah, its cool.”

Smooth Vinyl, real smooth.

“I am happy you think that way.” Octavia said and turned back to sorting things into the cupboard. “Not all ponies are as open minded. They had a rough time in Canterlot.”

“Well you know me, as open minded as they get. So open minded my brain might even fall out one day. Hehe.” Oh dear Celestia, Scratch. That was painful. “Uhm…yeah, Lyra mentioned her time in Canterlot.”

“She did?” Octavia gave the unicorn a surprised look. “Was that what you were talking about in that clothing store? All of a sudden both of you had vanished.”

“Yeah, we were looking at socks.”

“Socks?” Octavia’s eyebrow rose at the same speed as the corners of her mouth formed into a smirk.

“Uhm…nothing wrong about looking at socks, right?” Vinyl tried a smile of her own, which failed miserably as mental images popped into her head how Octavia would look like right now in aforementioned accessories.

“Absolutely not. Trying to look nice for your special somepony?” Octavia teased and Vinyl froze for an instant unsure on how to react.

“Special somepony? Me? Naaah….I mean maybe, but not yet.” Vinyl hastily replied and waved the topic away with a hoof. Octavia just gave her another smirk and continued her task of filling the cupboard.

That was another chance wasted Scratch.

Will you shut up!

Vinyl tapped a hoof against the side of her head to keep that irritating voice inside down. In order to silence the voice and to keep the conversation going she decided to ask something that had been on her mind ever since Lyra returned her tape.

“Does Lyra really have anger management issues?” she asked and began unloading a bag of groceries herself.

“She has a bit of a temper.” Octavia finally said after a moment. “She didn’t have a very nice time when she was younger. You best ask her for any details.”

Vinyl nodded unseen to the cellist. Perhaps one day she would ask the lyrist about that, sensing that Octavia would not share any information she had out of respect for her friend.

“I thought Canterlot was the place to grow up. Safe, educated and in general kind of a better place to be.” Vinyl noted that most of the food she took out of the bag was of the istallian variety.

“Lyra didn’t grow up in Canterlot.” Octavia cleared away the last tin of peeled tomatoes and unceremoniously dumped the empty paper bag in a corner. “She grew up in Detrot.”

“Ah, carriage-city.” Vinyl plucked the discarded bag in her magic and almost absentmindedly folded it neatly up into a small square. “So she came to Canterlot to study? Like I did?”

“There were other things going on.” Octavia explained and watched the paperbag fold itself up in Vinyl’s magical grasp. “Family things. Again you best ask her if you want to know.”

“I think I understand.” Vinyl said and levitated the contents of the bag in front of her on to the table. She decided to drop the subject. Family things had been a large factor for her own move to Canterlot and it had been a sore spot ever since.

Octavia yawned widely and stretched her neck out. It had been a long and rather eventful first day in Manehatten, it’s effects slowly showing itself as fatigue.

“Can you manage the rest?” Octavia asked and nodded towards the items in front of Vinyl.

“Yeah, don’t worry. I will have these cleared away in not time.”

“I’ll go to bed then if you don’t mind.”

“Of course. Sleep well, Tavi.”

“Goodnight, Vinyl.” Octavia sleepily walked towards the bathroom to prepare for bed. Vinyl watched her leave for a moment and then continued her task of clearing away the supplies.


It really only took Vinyl a few moments to clear everything away. With nothing else to do she decided to also go to bed. After quickly brushing her teeth and using the bathroom facilities, she found herself lying in her bed staring at the ceiling.

It was now that she finally had a moment of peace to try and think about herself and possible future developments with Octavia. Hours passed while she tossed and turned on the bed. In the end she had boiled it down to three possible courses of action.

She could just flat out tell Octavia how she felt about her. Seeing as she was none the wiser if the cellist was interested in mares that way it could possibly easily backfire. She might feel uncomfortable with Vinyl around and over time the friendship would maybe degenerate. Of all things Vinyl did not want to face the future without Octavia in some form at her side. Be it a marefriend or just a friend, so that option was not very favorable.

Seeing that Octavia was ok with Lyra and Bon Bon’s relationship it left Vinyl with a bit of hope that she might not object to being the unicorns marefriend. The downside was that it would effectively ruin any chances the cellist would have being a big shot player in the classical scene. While they might find happiness in a relationship, it would at the same time hang like a sword above their heads that it was the cause for not being able to do what she loved the most, her music. Vinyl doubted she herself would be able to let it go that she was the cause of Octavia not achieving her life time goal. So that course of action was no good either.

That left the final course. To not pursue a relationship of that kind with the grey earthpony and leave it as it is as just friends. While being the most beneficial course for Octavia it was the most painful one for Vinyl. Being around her would eventually turn into more of a torture than it already was, but Octavia would be happy and could reach her goals without fear of social downfall.

What about your own happiness?

Buck it!

Vinyl owed her more than her own happiness was worth. She had taken her in during her time of need. Had done everything to nurse her back to health and help her climb back out of the depths of despair. A tad melodramatic, but accurate nevertheless. She had vowed to help the cellist to achieve her dreams and that was what she was going to do.

Perhaps she will fail.

Vinyl shook her head clear of the darker side that had briefly voiced its opinion. It was a terrible wish for her to fail and Vinyl would do her best as to make sure it would not happen. If…and only after they had both done everything possible…if she should fail, they maybe Vinyl would have a chance. It still left a bad taste in her mouth even thinking like that.

The white unicorn blindly fumbled around with her hoof searching for something to drink on her nightstand. Then she remembered that she had not brought anything to drink for the night. With a small yawn she got out of bed and carefully opened her door to grab a glass of water from the kitchen.

Her efforts to make as little noise as possible were wasted as Octavia’s bedroom door stood open. A quick glance to the bed revealed that the cellist was not fast asleep. Slightly worried Vinyl trotted towards the living room, now more awake than she had been before.

She found the cellist sitting in front of the window in the living room staring out at the large dark park looming below and the still numerous lights shining in the city despite its late hour. Vinyl carefully navigated the dark room trying to see Octavia’s face and guess how her current state was. The earthpony did not move and simply stared out the window seemingly lost in thought.

“Tavi?” Vinyl quietly asked. Seeing that Octavia did not flinch or turn around in surprise, meant that she most likely knew the unicorn was not too far away.

“You can’t sleep?” Octavia asked just as Vinyl was about to call her name once more.

“Wanted to get some water to drink.” Now knowing that the cellist was aware of the other mare, Vinyl walked up to her and sat down beside her. Vinyl carefully studied Octavia’s face, now more visible thank to the light shining in from outside. She seemed sad. “What’s wrong?”

Vinyl’s question went unanswered vocally, but she could plainly see emotions dancing on the mare’s face. The unicorn scooted a bit closer to the cellist, their flanks almost touching.

“Talk to me, Tavi.” Vinyl almost whispered her request. “Perhaps I can help.”

Octavia finally moved a bit, turning her head and briefly locking eyes with Vinyl’s crimson ones. The light from outside reflecting in them and almost making them glow in the dark. The cellist let out a long sigh and peered back outside with worry etched in her face.

“I should not have come here.” She finally said, her voice no more than a whisper.

Vinyl just stared at her friend, not sure why she had come to this conclusion. She waited a few heartbeats for Octavia to continue. Without a nudge it seemed the cellist would remain quiet.

“Why do you think so?”

“This city….” Octavia tried to hide the emotion from her voice and failed miserably. It wavered and Vinyl thought to hear a hint of fear. The unicorn was now wide awake, very carefully monitoring the pony at her side.

“This city is so unlike Canterlot.” Octavia pointed a hoof towards the city looming behind the window. “It’s so big and loud…dirty….unfriendly….so different. I don’t belong here.”

Octavia turned her look back to Vinyl and the unicorn saw tears brimming in the cellist’s eyes.

“I’m scared, Vinyl.” Octavia’s voice nearly broke as she tried to contain her fear and not cry in front of her friend.

Vinyl just stared at the grey mare for a moment in shock. Octavia had always seemed so in control at all times. Now she reminded Vinyl of a foal during a thunderstorm, scared at something beyond her control.

“I know the feeling.” Vinyl said after a moment and looked out the window at the city below. “A strange place full of the unknown and being all alone.”

“When I moved from Las Pegasus to Canterlot I didn’t know what I was getting into. The change from one city to the next was difficult. All the ponies in Canterlot seemed so unfriendly and cold. The city itself was kinda lifeless.”

Vinyl paused for a moment to make sure the cellist was listening. While still looking sad and scared, Octavia was paying full attention.

“All I had with me was my love for music and the drive and ambition to make something of it. So I bullheaded my way through the first few months on that alone.” Vinyl swallowed a sudden lump in her throat as she recalled past memories. “Something happened back in Las Pegasus that sort of took away my possibility of going back there.”

Vinyl was glad that Octavia made no attempt to find out what that exactly was. Instead she leaned her body over so that their shoulders were touching and her head resting on the side of Vinyl’s neck just below her head. The unicorn’s heart skipped a beat at the sudden touch and she briefly had to fight the desire to sniff Octavia’s mane that smelled faintly of sandalwood.

“I was all alone all of a sudden and it scared me. With nowhere to go and nopony to turn to, I just kept going. It was tough.” Vinyl watched Octavia’s reflection in the window close her eyes. Taking a risk Vinyl tilted her head a bit until her cheek was lying on top of Octavia’s head. The cellist didn’t object and Vinyl continued talking.

“So I know what it feels like, Tavi.” Octavia sniffled briefly, during which Vinyl paused. “Now there is one difference. You are not alone here. You have your friends with you. Me, Lyra and Bon Bon. I won’t let anything bad happen to you or let anything keep you from your dreams. I promise.”

Neither mare said anything for a while. Vinyl just kept watching their reflection in the window and felt her heart hammer away in her chest. Octavia just kept pressed up against Vinyl and thankfully seemed to have calmed down. The occasional sniffle indicated that she was still awake.

“Thank you.” Octavia said and smiled a small grateful smile.

“Just you wait, Tavi. Together we will rock this city.” Vinyl said and gave the mare a slight motivational nudge. Octavia returned the gesture, but remained where she was. “Ain’t nothing that can stop us.”

“Thank you for being my friend Vinyl.” She said and her smile grew a little wider.

Yeah…..just friends….

Chapter 14

View Online

The next couple of days went by without any breakdowns, startling revelations or anything really worth mentioning.

Octavia’s nerves sometimes got the better of her, but Vinyl managed to calm her down easily by reaffirming that they were doing the right thing and that everything would work out in the end.

Apart from that they had spent their time organizing everything they needed in their apartment and had not brought with them from Canterlot, meeting Lyra and Bon Bon for a bit of sightseeing and something to eat while chatting and of course the two musicians used some of the time to hone their craft.

Octavia would play her cello with practiced ease and Vinyl would sit at her deck with her headphones on remixing and creating new music. The latter with some sound samples she had sneakily recorded while Octavia played her cello. The blend of classical and modern sounded really good in her opinion and felt she was on to something.

They had quietly dropped the task of trying to unlock Octavia’s ability to write her own music. Sensing that the cellist was on edge enough as it was, Vinyl decided to just let her play her routine and maybe at a later time continue to try and help her find her creative side.

On this Monday morning Vinyl was standing in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on a couple of sandwiches she was preparing. She heard the frantic pacing of hooves on the floor grow louder as the originator of those sounds trotted out of her bedroom.

Octavia had been pacing about nervously all morning. Today was her very first day of work and the anxiety had taken hold of her.

“Is my mane ok?” the cellist asked, for the fourth time that morning.

“Your mane is perfect, Tavi.” Vinyl’s response was automatic and she didn’t even need to look at her friend to know that it was indeed so.

“What about my tail?”

“Your tail is perfect, Tavi.” Vinyl cut the sandwiches into neat triangles and carefully wrapped them in some foil.

“I need to go to the bathroom.” Octavia trotted back towards the bathroom.

Vinyl chuckled at her friend’s behavior and levitated the finished sandwiches into a lunchbox she had bought specially for today. The unicorn closed the lunchbox, stowed it away in her saddlebag and waited for the nervous earthpony to return from her sixth trip to the bathroom that morning.

Barely a minute later she returned and paced a few laps around the kitchen table. Vinyl watched her for a moment and decided to intervene before the cellist wore a groove in the floor. Grabbing the bowtie she had laid out for the cellist with her magic, she stepped in front of the circling mare.

“Relax, Tavi.” Vinyl spoke calmly and began to fasten the bowtie around the cellist’s neck. “You got this. They will be happy to have a cellist of your talent on their team.”

Octavia patiently waited until Vinyl had tied the bowtie around her slender grey neck. She even had to smile a little at the face Vinyl had made while doing so. In deep concentration Vinyl had stuck the tip of her tongue out the side of her mouth, crimson eyes slightly squinted while tying a knot with her magic.

“There! Ready to show them how it’s done.” Vinyl beamed at her encouragingly. Octavia let out a deep breath and nodded once with newfound determination.

“You are right.” The cellist straightened her posture and was back to the noble and refined mare that Vinyl remembered from the contest so long ago. “I will show them what a true Canterlot University trained musician is capable of.”

“They won’t know what hit them!”

“I am the prodigy with the cello after all. Time they learned just what that means!” Octavia slowly erected the trained and professional façade that was mandatory for all Canterlot musicians to have.

“Go get ‘em!” Vinyl gave her an encouraging pat on the back.

“And so I shall!” Octavia turned towards the front door ready to head out.

“Uhm, Tavi?” Vinyl asked with a lopsided grin. “Aren’t you forgetting something?”

“And what would that be?” Octavia stopped on her way towards the door and looked at her friend.

“Dunno….your cello maybe?” Vinyl watched Octavia just stare at her blankly. Slowly the realization dawned on her that she had forgotten her cello in the music room.

“Yes. That might be helpful.” Octavia said flatly and went to retrieve her instrument.

Vinyl chuckled and put on her saddlebags. No doubt the cellist’s mind was slightly preoccupied with what was going to happen later on her very first day of work. Octavia returned with her cello in its case on her back.

“Thank you for reminding me.” Octavia smiled sheepishly. “Would have been rather embarrassing if I turned up without my instrument. Where are you going?”

“I’ll tag along and make sure you get there in one piece.” Vinyl replied and led the way towards the exit.

“You don’t have to do that. I am sure to find my way there without any problems.”

“Then I’ll just keep you company on the way there. Besides, I don’t really have anything else to do.” Vinyl held the door open for the earthpony. Sensing that Vinyl would not take no for an answer and since Octavia still had fluttering nerves they left their apartment and set off on towards their destination.


It was a good thing that Vinyl came along. Without the unicorn Octavia would have no doubt lost her way in the huge city. Even though the theatre the cellist was supposed to be at was only a few blocks away it took the pair a fair amount of time to navigate the now full streets.

Ponies of all kind were trying to get to their places of work. Intermixed were a few tourists and some ponies that, judging by their current state, had just left one of the many clubs dotted around town. With fifteen minutes to spare the two mares arrived at the medium sized theatre named Smiles & Sorrow.

Octavia was not sure what to make of that name, but guessed that it had something to do with the two masks that were painted on the front of the building. One mask was smiling, the other seemed unhappy. She hoped she would leave the building later with the former mask’s expression.

“Well….here we are. Safe and sound.” Vinyl said and pointed a hoof towards the front doors of the theatre.

“Thanks for coming with me. I would have been lost without you.” Octavia said gratefully and watched as Vinyl opened her saddlebags.

“I have something for you for your first day.” Vinyl beamed as she levitated the lunchbox out of her saddlebags and held it in front of Octavia.

The cellist was for the moment speechless as she stared at the bright pink lunchbox floating between the mares. It was a foal’s lunchbox, evident thanks to the image of a widely smiling young filly on the front. The phrase written above the happy image was also a dead giveaway.

“Filly’s first day?” Octavia asked and smirked. “I think that I may just be a bit too old for that.”

“Naaah.” Vinyl waved away her friend’s objection. “You can never be too old for your very first lunchbox. And it’s pink! I know you like that color.”

“Just what do you think the ponies inside might think when I walk in with it?” Octavia asked and shifted her gaze to the grinning unicorn.

“They would be envious, I’m sure of it.” Vinyl sensed that Octavia wasn’t entirely sold on that assumption. “They would think that your mom would want you to have the best day possible. Aaaaand she made you a few daffodil and daisy sandwiches.”

“Gee, thanks mom.” Octavia deadpanned, but the prospect of some tasty sandwiches made her take the lunchbox and put it on top of her cello case.

“Now go on and have a good time. Make some friends and try not to upset the other colts and fillies with your awesome skills. Mom will pick you up at five.”

“You are terrible, Vinyl.” Octavia tried to sound angry, but the amused look in her eyes and the smirk on her face told a different story.

The cellist trotted up to the front doors of the theatre and waved a goodbye to the still grinning unicorn outside. Taking a deep breath Octavia stepped inside ready to face her first day as a professional musician.


She found herself standing in a deserted foyer. Poster of various theatrical pieces lined the walls and a large bar to her right caught her eye immediately. A few doors led away to her left with signs indicating that restrooms would be found there and a passage to the backstage area. A set of large double doors leading deeper inside the theatre took up most of the wall in front of her, small ticket booths to the side of each door.

Octavia glanced around hoping to find anypony that might help her find her way around. She tried opening the large double doors and found them to be locked. Before she had the chance to do anything else a voice spoke up behind her.

“Octavia, I presume?”

Octavia spun around to the source of the question. A middle-aged unicorn mare smiled at her a few pony lengths away. Her coat was a light red color, the mane and tail a darker shade of brown with streaks of grey showing her age. A cutie mark of a conductor’s baton adorned her flanks. The mare’s light brown eyes were friendly and were studying the cellist carefully.

“Yes, I am and you are?” Octavia asked politely and closed the distance to the unicorn.

“I am Sinfonietta, the musical director of this fine establishment.” The unicorn extended a hoof in greeting which Octavia then shook. “I have been expecting you.”

“I am happy to be here.” Octavia decided to put on her best Canterlot behaviour to mask her nervousness.

“You are early, none of the others are here yet. Please follow me, I will give you the tour.” Sinfonietta turned and slowly trotted towards the way leading backstage. Octavia followed her closely.

“How do you like Manehatten thus far?” she asked and led the cellist past the restrooms further down the hallway.

“It’s different.” Octavia answered carefully as not to possibly offend her new employer.

“I bet.” Sinfonietta chuckled. “When I moved here from Canterlot, I was slightly overwhelmed by this city, so big and loud. And some of the residents took a while to get used to.”

“You didn’t just study in Canterlot?” Octavia knew that the unicorn had studied under her old professor and had assumed that she was just another student from out of town like Vinyl was.

“No, I was born in Canterlot. Got married to a stallion from Manehatten and moved with him here.” Sinfonietta explained and Octavia was slightly relaxing a bit more. The unicorn was friendly enough it seemed, which was refreshing considering that most of the other ponies she had encountered here were rather grumpy.

“Back here are the rooms for the musicians, actors and other staff.” Sinfonietta explained and led Octavia past a few doors, each marked with little signs indicating for which ponies they were. Questions were already burning in Octavia’s mind, but she decided to wait with them for after the tour.

“We have a large room further along for lunch and breaks.” The unicorn explained and pointed a hoof towards the door at the end of the hallway. “Come, I’ll show you where we work.”

The two mares left the hallway by using a door marked simply as “Stage”. A small flight of stairs led up to what Octavia assumed to be the stage, but the director led them past the stairs to another door. Using her magic she opened the door and held it open for the cellist.

“Mind the step.” She warned early enough for Octavia to not trip down a single large step just beyond the door. Sinfonietta led the way again and they finally arrived at a sight that made Octavia’s heart beat faster with anticipation.

A semicircle of seats, each with its own little stand for sheets of music were in front of the stage. Rows and rows of empty seats for the ponies that would attend the show seemed rather high to Octavia’s current position. Then she remembered that they had taken a large step down and were not level with the rest of the floor anymore. Another effect was that the stage now seemed a lot higher than it was to her.

“We call it The Pit.” Sinfonietta explained and navigated the semicircle of seats heading for a particular one. “And this is going to be your place.”

Octavia eyed the seat in the left side of the semicircle. She carefully slid off her cello case once she reached the seat. Momentarily forgetting about the bright pink lunchbox, the movement sent it sliding towards the ground. Before it could hit the floor a beige magic field grabbed hold of it and carefully levitated it next to Octavia’s seat.

“Interesting lunchbox.” Sinfonietta commented with amusement evident in her voice.

“My friend has a strange sense of humor.” Octavia rolled her eyes apologetically.

“It is a rather cute gesture. He must like you a lot.”

Octavia was just about to correct the director’s assumption about her friend, when Sinfonietta turned towards the stage and gestured towards it by waving a hoof in an arc encompassing all they could see.

“This is Smiles and Sorrow.” There was a certain pride in her voice. “Here musicals make or break.”

Octavia settled her cello case next to her seat and paid attention. Thus far her overall opinion was one of slight disappointment, but perhaps it would change once she knew more about the theatre.

“Our little place here is the very first test for any new musical. We help with the music and the script and maybe a new successful musical is born here. Smiles and Sorrow has helped quite a fair number of musicals to fame and glory. A lot of them have been performed on Bridleway. Others are not successful and never got any further than here.”

Sinfonietta turned around and faced the seats for the audience, Octavia copying her movement and staring up the rows of seats. Even from her vantage point she could tell that the small theatre did not have a lot of seats. During her time at the contest she had played for at least twice as many ponies. It was a bit of a letdown for her.

“I know what you are thinking.” Sinfonietta gave the cellist a small smile. “That this little theatre is just that. Little.”

“Oh no, no. I…” Octavia wanted to protest, but was cut off by the unicorn.

“You do. I know, because I had the very same thoughts when I first came here. All of us did.” The mare turned towards the cellist to watch her expression. “I know it isn’t as glamorous as any of the large orchestras and we are just the musical accompaniment for the actors on stage. That’s a tough pill to swallow when you strive for acknowledgement of your musical prowess. Took me a while to adjust.”

“Then why did you stay?” Octavia asked and was surprised at how well the director had seemingly read her mind.

“Because it is a lot of fun. It is exciting to see the ideas of ponies come to life on stage and help them fine tune it to something great.” Sinfonietta was practically beaming now, something that was not mirrored by Octavia. “We are currently in the process of fine tuning a little musical called Hinny of the Hills. It’s rather good and might even make it to the big stages one day.”

“Never heard of it.” Octavia commented and tried to picture her future here. Playing accompaniment was not what she had planned.

“You couldn’t have. It’s never been performed yet.” The smile on the director’s face never diminished even though it was apparent that the cellist was disappointed. “I know that you would rather be on stage than in front of it.”

“I was just lost in thought.” Octavia tried a brief smile, but wasn’t fooling anypony.

“I understand. I know how difficult it can be in Canterlot for classical musicians to get on stage with the large orchestras. Sometimes it helps if you can get some reputation to your name and believe it or not, even though we are out of sight and are not the stars, the critics do take notice of us.”

Sinfonietta gave Octavia a slight encouraging pat on her shoulder. The cellist faintly blushed at how easily the other mare had read her mind.

“Sometimes a few of my musicians are chosen to join the actors moving up in the world of musicals. Quite a fair amount of them playing in Bridleway’s theatres are former members of my little ensemble. From there…..who knows, maybe some are even playing in the big orchestras around the country.”

“You don’t know?” Octavia asked quietly.

“It’s difficult to keep track of all my musicians.” For the first time Sinfonietta’s smile slightly diminished. “I have seen so many come and go, that it would take up all of my time just to keep tabs on them.”

“There are so many classical music graduates in Manehatten?” Octavia was surprised by that. To her knowledge Canterlot alone specialized in the arts of music. Hearing that Manehatten also had that program in its university was news to her. Then again she had been rather unaware of anything going on in other cities apart from Canterlot.

“Oh, our little ensemble is rather mixed. I dare say that you would be our only musician currently working with us that has any kind of musical degree.” Sinfonietta chuckled as she saw the skeptic look on the cellist’s face. “That doesn’t mean that they are bad. Some ponies just never had the chance to study and just like the musicals we put on here, they either make or break. Come to think of it, the last classically trained musician on staff was our old cellist.”

“What happened to him or her?”

“She retired. Had been here for nearly ten years and it was more of a hobby for her than an actual profession.” Sinfonietta explained and perked her ears up as a sound echoed through the otherwise empty building. “Seems like a few more ponies have arrived. Come, I’ll introduce you to them.”


Vinyl had watched the cellist enter the theatre and was now facing a dilemma of her own. What to do in this big city all on her own.

She had briefly toyed with the idea of stopping by Bon Bon’s or Lyra’s places of work, but decided against it. No doubt they would be busy and getting them into trouble by chatting with them wasn’t a good idea in Vinyl’s book.

So she decided to investigate a few of the music shops she had seen near the club district. While she didn’t have any bits on her, it would at least make the time pass until she would pick Octavia up at five.

Getting to the shops meant she would either have to walk around the large central park or go through it. Lyra had told them the park could be unsafe during the late hours, but since it was morning Vinyl decided to go through it.

Vinyl had never had much contact with nature. Having grown up in Las Pegasus she did not have much contact with plants or wildlife. Her hometown was very similar to Manehatten, a lot of buildings, streets and occasionally a tree dotted here and there. Canterlot had also been similar, with the notable exception of the Royal Gardens and several smaller parks. During her student years she had more often than not spent a few afternoons napping under some of the trees when the weather allowed it.

The unicorn casually trotted through the park, despite the early hour it was already frequented by other ponies. Vinyl chuckled at some of the fitness gear they were wearing. Sweatbands, specialized holsters for drinks and some were also wearing sunglasses. So she blended in nicely despite not having come here for exercise.

Vinyl stopped and gave herself a quick look once over. She had most certainly regained her weight, maybe even a bit more, a teeny tiny bit more. The last time she had done anything fitness-related had been longer ago than she cared to think about. Although climbing up the stairs to the fifth floor surely counted, it couldn’t do any harm to maybe do a little extra. So Vinyl decided to enjoy her way through the park by jogging along.

Three minutes later Vinyl decided she would just enjoy the park by trotting along, slowly. She told herself it was best to take it slow and not overexert herself on her first jog. A few ponies gave her curious glances as they heard her heavy breathing while jogging past her. They shared her thoughts that she possibly had done enough exercise for the day.

By the time she had reached the first shop her breathing had become normal again and she wasn’t sweating anymore. Eagerly she entered the first shop and made a beeline towards the section offering records for sale.


About an hour later Vinyl had perused the selection of five different shops. She would have loved to buy some of the records she had found, but without any bits all she could do was look. It was slightly annoying to not be able to buy anything, so Vinyl decided to not go into any more music shops and rather head home.

A few minutes later she found herself back at the club where they had found Neon Lights playing one of her songs. The doors were closed as was to be expected at this time of the day, yet there was one pony currently rearranging the display of the DJ’s that played here.

Curiosity got the better of Vinyl and she decided to investigate what the pony was doing. He was a very light brown pegasus stallion with a dark green spiky mane and tail. Unlike Vinyl’s natural wild mane and tail, his were obviously made so by copious amount of gel or hairspray. A cutie mark of a glass with an olive on a pick inside adorned his flanks.

The stallion noticed Vinyl approach, but apart from a quick glance he continued to rearrange the pictures inside the display. Vinyl watched for a moment, carefully reading the names of the DJ’s. Then she noticed that one particular name was missing.

“Hey, what happened to Neon?” Vinyl asked and succeeded in making the stallion pause in his efforts.

“Why do ya wanna know? Are you a fan of his?” he asked back sounding rather tired.

“Not really what you would call a fan.” Vinyl answered and earned an amused snort from the other pony.

“He quit. Something about being sick and tired of being attacked by rabid fans all the time.” The stallion rolled his eyes, not buying that reason on bit. “But I guess you already know that.”

“I uh…don’t know what you mean.” Vinyl gave the pegasus an uneasy smile. Had they been seen coming into the club that night? Had Lyra been spotted assaulting Neon backstage? Had they seen Vinyl and Lyra together outside? Various thoughts ran through Vinyl’s mind at once and she was just about to make a hasty retreat when the stallion spoke up again.

“I’m guessing you are here for the job?” he asked and resumed his task with the pictures. Vinyl was momentarily dumbstruck and just stared ahead. Where her mind had been racing just moments before, now it had come to a grinding halt. Had she really just been offered a job or were her ears playing tricks on her? The stallion gave her a sideways glance as his question went unanswered. “Or are you here for something else?”

“I…uhn…naaah. I’m here for the job of course.” Vinyl gave him her best smile.

“You any good?”

“I am the best!” Vinyl held a hoof to her chest.

“Yeah, never heard that before.” The stallion stated flatly and stopped his current task to give Vinyl a more thorough look. After a couple of moments he nodded his head in approval. “You look the part at least. Tell you what, seeing that the boss ain’t here right now and I am in charge, I’ll give you a shot. Can you be here at three o’clock with enough material for ninety minutes?”

“You bet! No problem whatsoever!” Vinyl answered with eagerness.

“Then that will be your tryout. No pay for the first time playing, but you get a drink on the house. What’s your name?”

“Vinyl Scratch, sir.” Vinyl’s smile was now nearly splitting her head.

“Geez, drop the sir. I ain’t that old. See you at three, Vinyl Scratch.” With those words he returned to his original task and paid no more attention to the unicorn.

Vinyl couldn’t believe her luck as she trotted away from the club towards home. The smile was still plastered on her face and there was a distinct bounce to her step. At least she now knew how to spend the rest of her morning, she had some tracks to put together.


Octavia barely managed not to frown. The time thus far had been…..underwhelming.

The rest of the ensemble was a mix of all three races across almost all ages. Every one of them was nice and had welcomed her into the group. What was lacking however was the challenge.

Octavia guessed it made sense in a way. The music was only there to deliver a background for the actors on stage, none of which she had seen yet. And as background music the score was not very challenging for her at least. Some of the others did struggle with one or two parts and Sinfonietta did her best to help them along. There was still work to be done here, just not for Octavia. Still it was refreshing to play with others for once.

“Ok everypony.” Sinfonietta put down her conductors baton. “Let’s break for lunch. After that we will play together with the main cast.”

Octavia carefully rested her cello in the stand in front of her and placed the bow on her seat. She earned a few smiles as she grabbed her bright pink lunchbox by the handle with her mouth. The musicians began chatting immediately about the latest news from all over Equestria while moving towards the room for breaks. Octavia listened carefully to the chatting all around her, although there was nothing that really caught her attention.

The ponies settled down in the large room on a long table. A few ponies were on another table talking to each other. Octavia had not seen them before and assumed they were part of the actors. Sitting down beside her fellow musicians, Octavia opened her lunchbox and felt her stomach rumble in anticipation of eating some of Vinyl’s sandwiches. She briefly wondered what Vinyl was doing and if she was having fun or going crazy with boredom.


Vinyl was having a blast.

Ever since she had arrived back at the club with a few tracks in her saddlebags, she had been having a lot of fun. The first time she activated the deck for DJ’s and felt the hum of magical energy bring life to the numerous loudspeakers around the room a pleasant shiver had run down her back.

The deck was different to her one at home. After a couple of minutes she had adjusted it to her liking and awaited the signal to begin her show. The stallion from that morning had said to just start playing, which at first seemed strange to Vinyl as there were no guests in the club yet.

She simply shrugged and used the first couple of tracks to find her groove with the club’s deck. The pegasus hat taken up position behind the bar and a couple of bouncers casually leaned against it. With no guests around there was no need for them right now and they watched Vinyl play her music.

Gradually the guests showed up. At first only a couple of curious ponies being led here by the music heard from outside. Soon more and more turned up and Vinyl finally had a crowd to play and that was exactly what she did. It never was and never would get old to see ponies dance to her beat. As it was rather early in the day, the guests were made up of younger ponies. All the better for Vinyl as the younger ones had more energy in them and she made them expend it fast.

A small flashing light on the deck caught her attention. A quick glance at the clock beside the light told her that her ninety minutes were nearly up. Time had gone by in a flash for Vinyl and with some reluctance she played out her last song for the day. The stomps of approval from the crowd were her own very special brand of music to her ears. With one last wave she packed up her stuff and trotted backstage. Not surprising the bartender pegasus was waiting for her.

“Not bad.” He said once she was near enough. “You got a good three dozen ponies inside. For the first time not bad at all.”

“Thanks.” Vinyl grinned and heard a new DJ set up the equipment for the next show.

“You want the job permanently? The pay is bad, the hours not really suited for big crowds, but you get to play and can have drinks on the house. What do you say?”

“I’m in.” Vinyl did not need to even waste a single second on her answer.

“Alright. You can call me Shakes and welcome aboard.” He extended his hoof and Vinyl gave him a hoofbump in return. He retrieved a camera from a small table beside them and prompted Vinyl to smile. Thanks to the adrenalin still pumping in her veins the smile she gave him was slightly manic, but suited her rather well.

“Great. Your working times will be Monday, Wednesday, Friday at three o’clock for ninety minutes. Keep the ponies coming in and you will be put in a better timeslot eventually.” Shakes told her and put the camera back. “Do you have a stage name or just Vinyl Scratch?”

“Call me DJ Pon3.” Vinyl answered still grinning.

“If you say so. See you Wednesday.”

Vinyl left the club with her stuff secured in her saddlebags. This day had been awesome thus far and she couldn’t wait to tell Octavia about it and find out how her day was. With only half an hour to get to Octavia she set off to meet her friend.


The first sight that caught Octavia’s eye as she left the theatre was a slightly out of breath, but madly grinning white unicorn with purple sunglasses. Smiling herself, albeit less manic, she trotted towards her waiting friend.

“Hey there!” Vinyl greeted her and grabbed the lunchbox Octavia was holding with her mouth with her magic and levitated it towards her saddlebags to be cleared away. “Sooooo… was your first day?”

“Hello Vinyl.” Octavia led them a few paces away before answering. “It was…nice I guess.”

“Nice? Just nice?” Vinyl arched an eyebrow. “Did something happen? Was somepony mean to you? Want me to have a friendly chat with them?”

“No, no. The ponies are all very nice. Just the music is….a bit unchallenging.” Octavia said with a smile. Somehow the still grinning unicorn radiated exuberant joy today and it poured into the cellist. “Why are you grinning like that?”

“Just happy to see you.” Vinyl winked. The effect being rather pointless as she was still wearing her sunglasses.

“That’s sweet. Did you do anything nice today?” Octavia trotted beside her friend and noticed the bounce in the unicorns step.

“Oh, just went snooping though some records in a couple of stores, went for a bit of exercise in the park, played a show at a club, got a job, went for some hayfries and a strawberry smoothie. Just that kind of stuff.”

“Wait….what?” Octavia stopped and turned to her friend. “You got a job? When? Where?”

“Went by the club that we saw Neon Lights at. They were looking for a new DJ and I got it.” Vinyl replied nonchalantly.

“Wow! Vinyl that is fantastic!” Octavia’s smile grew wider.

“It was so totally awesome, Tavi!” Vinyl couldn’t keep her enthusiasm contained and even jumped a bit as she let it out. “I total rocked that club. Sure….only a few ponies there, but for my first gig it was groovetacular!”


“It’s groovy and spectacular in one word.”

“Pretty sure that isn’t a word.”

“Yeah! It was so good there wasn’t a word to describe it, so I made one up.” Vinyl was playfully nudged in the side as Octavia giggled.

“Well, I think we should celebrate our first days of work.” Octavia suggested. “Let’s get Lyra and Bon Bon and find a good place to eat.”

“Sounds like my kind of plan!” Vinyl agreed and together they set off towards their friends home, ready for a little bit of celebrating.

Chapter 15

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The juice shift.

An appropriate name for the time from three o’clock until nine o’clock, as the bar wouldn’t serve anything alcoholic to the club’s guests during that time. The main patrons during those times were teenage and young adult ponies.

Vinyl didn’t mind having a younger audience. Far from it in fact, as the younger ponies had boundless energy it seemed and Vinyl made them expend a lot of it with her show.

It was her second week working in the club named Big Time, so named after its owner. Vinyl had only briefly seen the owner from afar and had not yet been introduced to him. Not that it really mattered to her, all she really cared about was the music and the ponies dancing on the dance floor.

She even had her first fans. Most noticeable were two pegasi that had been there for every single of her shows. The pegasi were a stallion and a mare, both almost identical save for the manestyle, a steely blue coat with a dark brown almost black mane and tail. The stallion’s mane was cut short and nothing out of the ordinary. The mare’s mane however was a lot longer and framed her face like a lion’s mane. Both of them had a grin that could only be described as mischievous. The DJ guessed correctly that they were twins and still just teenagers.

Vinyl liked the twins ever since they had walked into the club during her first performance. She even had figured out that they liked tracks with a lot of drums and bass, so Vinyl obliged them and played them a track with just those qualities. Loud cheers were her reward from the two and it made her grin wide.

Of course the two pegasi were not the only ponies in attendance. Vinyl guessed the club was able to provide enough space for around one hundred ponies. She easily filled up half the club and this was only her second week. Knowing and seeing that what she did was just that what ponies wanted filled her heart with joy.

The small light next to the clock on the deck began to flash and Vinyl sighed. Somehow time always went by in a flash when she was playing her music. There still was enough time for one last track and Vinyl activated the microphone on the deck.

“Come on ponies! They can’t hear you in Canterlot!” Vinyl punctuated her last sentence with a bass and drum heavy track that possibly could be heard a few blocks away. Even so she still heard the response from the ponies cheering her on.

This was the life. Sure the pay was frankly abysmal and the time slot wasn’t all that favorable, but she didn’t care. Bobbing her head along with the beat and mixing a drum solo in on the fly, which caused two certain pegasi to cheer even louder, she slowly let the song fade out.

“Alright fillies and colts! DJ Pon3 signing off for now. I hope you had just as much fun as I had!” Vinyl gleefully soaked up the stomping applause from the crowd as she closed her set.

It took her only a few minutes to pack up her things. It would have taken less time, but she always got sidetracked and gave a few ponies from the crowd a hoofbump or two when they offered it. The next DJ had already taken up position behind the deck when she finally left the small stage.

On other days Vinyl would have hurried to pick Octavia up from the theatre. But the cellist had to work longer today and for the next week. The musical she was working on was now approaching the very first time to be shown to a few critics and they all worked a bit harder on their performances. So today Vinyl took her time to leave the club.


Her thoughts were already circling around her next show and what for tracks to bring along. She didn’t notice the pony hiding in the shadows of the nearby alleyway that she was walking past. A surge of magic identified the hidden pony as a unicorn.

Vinyl let out a small yelp of surprise and pain as the magic took hold on her tail and gave it a small tug. She spun around to face her potential attacker with a snarl. Her expression darkened as she identified the pony stepping out from the shadows.

“You!” Vinyl angrily stomped towards a smugly grinning Neon Lights, who backpedaled further into the alley.

“Hey, Vinyl. Long time no see.” His backpedaling was halted by a large dumpster he nearly bumped into.

“Give me a good reason not to wipe the floor with your face.” Vinyl growled and levitated her sunglasses on top of her head to give Neon a clearly angry glare.

“Now, now. Why so hostile?” Neon wasn’t impressed by Vinyl’s deathglare and still just kept grinning.

“You little piece of….you stole my bits while I was sleeping!” Vinyl pointed a hoof towards the stallion in accusation. Neon just waved it off casually with a hoof of his own.

“Oh that. Come on….that wasn’t such a big deal.” Before Vinyl could reply either verbally or physically he continued. “Besides, now you are here, feeding on my leftover scraps in my former place of employment. Now I am playing in one of the higher profile clubs further in the center.”

Somehow Neon must have heard that she was now playing in the club and had decided to gloat. Vinyl most certainly wasn’t going to let him get away with it.

“Great, Neon. You and I both know that you are only there because of me.” Vinyl closed the distance and was just a legs length away.

“Because of the few bits I snuck away from you? Oh please, Scratch.” He chuckled a bit and Vinyl felt the need to introduce his face to her hoof more and more appealing.

“You didn’t just steal bits from me. You also stole my music!” Vinyl watched carefully as Neon’s smile froze for a moment.

“I have no idea what you are talking about.” He lied after a seconds worth of hesitation.

“Bullcrap! I know you stole it, because I saw you playing a set with my tracks!” Spurned on by Neon’s suddenly pained smile she didn’t think before she said the next thing. “At least I got my music back so that it can’t be defiled by Mister Fourth Place anymore.”

“What?” Neon’s smile was now gone as he pieced together what Vinyl had just said. “You sent that crazy mare after me?”

Vinyl flinched back slightly as Neon became angrier by the second. It dawned on her that it might not have been her best decision that evening to enrage him, but he did have it coming and if it came to a fight, she was more than willing to teach him a lesson.

“Buck you, Scratch!” Neon moved closer and jabbed a hoof against her chest. “I had a really hot date set up that evening! One that you effectively ruined!”

“At least I saved your date the disappointment of a night with you.” Vinyl brushed his hoof away or at least tried to do so with ease. Instead it took quite a bit of strength to push it away.

No doubt Neon had been working out and was rested. Vinyl had not worked out in a long time and had just finished a set. Her magical abilities would not be up to par with his at the moment.

“I spent two days with an icepack between my legs and not being able to walk properly. I do not find that very funny.” Neon was now right up in Vinyl’s face and thoroughly pissed off. If it would come to a fight her best chance would be to make the first move and take him by surprise. Luckily there wouldn’t be need for that as a third voice suddenly spoke up.

“And what is going on here?”

Both Vinyl and Neon recognized the voice immediately. Vinyl couldn’t help but grin again as she saw some of the color drain from the stallion’s face. They both turned their heads towards the newcomer standing at the entrance of the alley.

Lyra stood still for a moment, an eyebrow raised at the sight of the two unicorns arguing. Very slowly she trotted towards them, not taking her eyes off the stallion for even a second. Neon very slowly backed away from Vinyl and brought some distance between them. Once Lyra was beside Vinyl she slung a foreleg around the DJ’s shoulders.

“And what is the problem here?” she asked, a rather evil grin slowly spreading on her face.

“You stay out of this. This is just between me and her.” Neon quickly answered and pointed a hoof at Vinyl.

“Can’t do that.” Lyra kept on grinning like a mad mare, the effect being that Neon felt really really uncomfortable. “See…if you have a problem with her, then you have a problem with me. Simple as that.”

Lyra gave Vinyl a quick squeeze and drew her in closer so that they were side by side pressed against each other. Vinyl decided to also put on her best evil grin and glare at Neon.

“Do we still have a problem?” Lyra asked quietly.

“No problem here.” Neon answered quickly and backed away a bit more.

“That’s good. Don’t want to catch you causing problems for my friend here, ‘cause that might not be healthy.” Lyra didn’t even make any sort of attempt to veil her threat.

She turned together with Vinyl towards the entrance to the alleyway and walked away, a foreleg still around Vinyl’s shoulders. They were nearly out of earshot when Neon made a mistake and let his thoughts slip.

“Bucking fillyfoolers.” It had just been mumbled, but Lyra’s good hearing picked up on it immediately.

“What….did you say?” Lyra let go of Vinyl and turned back towards the stallion.

Neon let out a panicked yelp and decided that his best course of action was to run away. Lyra made a move forwards and caused Neon to scamper away with his tail between his legs. Lyra felt Vinyl’s hoof on her back as if to prevent her from running after the stallion.

“He isn’t worth it Lyra.” The DJ said.

“Relax Vinyl. I’m not going to chase after him.” Lyra explained and smiled at her friend. “Bon Bon would have my head on a silver platter if she found out that I had been in a fight.”

“What are you doing here?” Vinyl was genuinely curious at the lyrist’s sudden appearance.

“I finished work and decided to drop by your club. See how things are going for you.” Lyra explained.

“Thanks.” Vinyl gave her friend a grateful smile and put her trademark sunglasses back on. “Can I invite my knight in shining armor for a drink?”

“Heh, won’t say no to that.” Lyra chuckled. “Although the mental image of you in a frilly dress as the damsel in distress will stay with me for a while.”

“It will stay a mental image. Besides, I could have totally kicked his flank.”

“Sure thing, Vinyl.” Lyra ignored the tongue that Vinyl stuck out at her. “Let’s grab some sugary goodness.”



Vinyl glanced up from her chocolate and cherry milkshake with whipped cream and eyed the mint green unicorn sitting opposite her. The unicorns had decided to sit in a café and have a milkshake each. Vinyl was impressed at the speed with which Lyra had devoured her third milkshake.

“You have some kind of sugar-withdrawal?” Vinyl asked and took a more controlled sip of her milkshake.

“Guess you could say that.” Lyra confirmed and licked her straw clean.

“Seems kinda strange. Bon Bon makes sweets right? I would have guessed that you would be eating nothing but sugary stuff.”

“The only sweet thing I get to nibble on is Bon Bon herself.” Lyra dropped the straw back into the glass and briefly scanned the menu in front of her. “Bon Bon is a bit self-conscious about her weight, so she tries not to have anything sugary or yummy around. Apart from me of course.”

Lyra grinned her wide smile and closed the menu. Three milkshakes were enough for now and she would be in trouble if Bon Bon ever found out she had been pigging out without her.

“She seems fine to me.” Vinyl said in regards to Bon Bon’s figure and took another sip.

“You eyein’ my mare?” Lyra said with mock outrage and Vinyl choked on her milkshake in response.

A few quick pats from Lyra on Vinyl’s back cleared up the misguided sip of milkshake. The DJ coughed a few more times, but it seemed she would not need the assistance of the other unicorn anymore, so Lyra returned back to her seat.

“Relax Vinyl. I was just pulling your hoof.” Lyra leaned back in her seat and ran a hoof through her mane. “So….how are things going?”

“Great!” Vinyl cleared her throat one more time before continuing. “Doing my stuff at the club is awesome.”

“Glad to hear it. Kind of sucks that you only have your show during my working hours. I’d like to see it one day.” Lyra complained.

“I hope to get a better timeslot in the future. For now I have the juice shift.” Vinyl dared to take another sip of her shake.

“Just tell me in time when you have a show that Bon Bon and I can attend.” Lyra suddenly gave Vinyl a lopsided grin. “And how goes the pursuit of the cellist?”

Vinyl froze in mid-sip. Perhaps it was the cool liquid of the milkshake that had suddenly made her thoughts sluggish to respond to the question. Lyra giggled at the expression Vinyl wore, stuck in mid-sip and eyes wide open.

“You haven’t done anything right?” Lyra waited for Vinyl to nod in affirmation. “Come on Vinyl. It isn’t that hard. Just do that what I did with Bon Bon at the time. Walk up to her with confidence and simply ask her out for something to eat. Just you two in a nice romantic setting. Worked for me, so it will work for you. Or are you chicken, Scratch? Hehe….chicken scratch.”

While Lyra was laughing at her own joke, Vinyl swallowed the mouthful of milkshake and organized her thoughts.

“That isn’t it.” She said, the tone of her voice stopping the lyrist from giggling any further. “There is no pursuit of the cellist.”

“So you have reached a decision?” Lyra asked although it was obvious.

“Yeah. I….I won’t stand in the way of her goals.” Vinyl said and looked down at the last bit of her milkshake.

For a long time neither mare said anything or even moved. Vinyl just stared at her drink while Lyra stared at her. After a few moments Lyra sighed.

“That sucks. For both of you if I may say so.” The mint green mare flicked a hoof at the straw sitting in her empty glass, causing it to spin around.

“I don’t see any other way.” Vinyl said quietly.

“So you would rather be miserable and see her happy, than to be happy together?”

“There is no other way.” It was no more than a whisper that escaped Vinyl’s lips.

“Wow….you really love her don’t you?” Lyra didn’t wait for a response. “You know that what you are doing isn’t healthy for you in the long run right?”

“I’ll deal with it when the time comes.” Vinyl responded slightly depressed. Lyra sensed that the white unicorn was about to turn miserable, so she decided to intervene.

“If it comes you know that you can come talk to me or Bon Bon anytime, right?” The sincerity in Lyra’s voice made Vinyl look up.

“Yeah, I know. Thanks.” Vinyl smiled at the other unicorn and banished the depressing thoughts to a dark corner in her mind.

“Well….I think I could go with another milkshake.” Lyra flipped open the menu and decided to try a vanilla milkshake with caramel syrup, topped off with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.


Roughly ten minutes later the unicorns had parted ways in front of the small café. Lyra had felt the sudden need to lie down after consuming one too many milkshakes or to quote her: “I think that last one was slightly off.”

Vinyl had only consumed one milkshake during their stay and felt that her need for sugar was not fully satisfied. With nearly an hour to spare until she would pick Octavia up, she decided to get another dose of sugar. And in her opinion the best place to obtain that was the sweet shop where Bon Bon worked.

Navigating Manehatten at this hour wasn’t an easy task. Vinyl had to squeeze through a crowd of tourists at more than one point. Noisy commentary about the city and constant clicking of cameras assaulted her ears during that time. By the time the sweet shop came into view, she most certainly had enough of tourists for that day.

Vinyl entered the shop called Sweetz. She guessed the z was to make it sound more modern, which made no sense to her as the interior was decorated in a style that hadn’t been in for at least a decade or two. The unicorn immediately spotted Bon Bon amongst the other staff as she easily stood out from the rest, despite all of them wearing black and pink uniforms.

Every single member of the staff was well rounded, to put it mildly. It was apparent that they helped themselves to a sweet or two, or possibly twenty, every once in a while. Bon Bon was pretty much the only pony with a normal figure. She even seemed a bit too thin amongst her colleagues. Perhaps that’s why Bon Bon was so self conscious about her weight and didn’t want to end up like the others.

Vinyl would have normally spent a lot of time going from each type of sweet to the next, carefully choosing the best looking ones. This time she didn’t need to do that as she knew that Bon Bon would have the best sweets and made a beeline for the mare.

Bon Bon’s face lit up with a wide smile as she saw Vinyl. Her bright blue eyes watching the unicorn approach the counter where Bon Bon would be serving customers.

“Hey, Vinyl! How’s it going?” Bon Bon asked with a very gravelly voice.

“Uh…what’s wrong with your voice?” Vinyl asked concerned.

“Allergies.” Bon Bon shrugged. “I ate something with nuts in earlier and this is what happens.”

“Sounds really weird.” Vinyl briefly thought of inviting Bon Bon over to record a few voice samples. She could make some really cool tracks for Nightmare Night with that voice.

“I know. It changes when I eat different things I am allergic to.” Bon Bon explained.

“That sucks.” Vinyl had no allergies herself, but sympathized with the other mare nevertheless.

“You get used to it.” Bon Bon shrugged again. “Did Lyra find you?”

“Yeah. She met me after my gig.” Vinyl decided not to mention the little encounter with Neon or Lyra’s milkshake-binge.

“Did you do anything fun?”

“Just talked a bit.” Vinyl shrugged.

“About what?” Bon Bon asked curiously. Bon Bon was most certainly a very nosy pony, but Vinyl didn’t really mind.

“About you actually. Lyra told me how you two met.” Vinyl answered and didn’t want to talk about Octavia right now. At least not here with so many potential ears nearby, although most of the staff was far enough away from the two mares to not hear them.

“Really….what did she tell you?” Bon Bon’s eyes were almost sparkling.

“That she just walked up to you with confidence and asked you out on a date, to which you said yes.” Vinyl flinched in surprise as Bon Bon burst out laughing.

“Haha! I bet that’s how she would like to remember it.” Bon Bon subdued her laughter to not draw any further attention.

“So…that wasn’t true?” Vinyl herself was at times nosy and this was just the kind of situation that piqued her interest.

“Well, she did ask me out on a date that evening.” Bon Bon smiled at the distant memory. “The confidence part was blown a bit out of proportion.”

“Really? How so?” Vinyl leaned in a bit towards the earthpony.

“Did she tell you that we met during that contest the university holds for its musical graduates?” Vinyl nodded. “Well, I was part of the catering service giving out servings from our buffet table. At some point Lyra came by and asked for a slice of cake. A few minutes later she came back and started to hover around near the buffet. Everytime I asked her if she would like something else she asked for some cake again.”

Bon Bon giggled. Due to her now gravelly voice it sounded really weird and would possibly have sent foals running in fight.

“She must have eaten an entire cake by herself. If she did actually eat it. Huh….I never asked her that come to think of it.” Bon Bon shook her head to get back on track with her story. “Anyway, I knew she wanted something and so I finally asked her why she was hovering around. I’ll never forget how she then finally gave up her charade to tell me what she really wanted. The way she awkwardly shuffled her hooves, not quite able to look me in the eye and the almost whispered question she asked if I would like to have a coffee sometime with her. Oh and she stuttered a lot. It was really cute in a way.”

Vinyl grinned along with the sweet maker. It was difficult to picture the rather vocal and brash Lyra in the way Bon Bon had described her and told the earthpony so.

“Lyra can be a hooffull sometimes, but she also has her adorable and cute moments.” Bon Bon let out a sigh. “Not that you would ever see them in this city.”

“Why’s that?”

“This city…. It’s loud and rather rude. And there is always something going on somewhere.” Bon Bon rolled her eyes. “The stress sometimes can really get to you. Especially if you work in a busy place like this.”

“Speaking of which, I actually wanted to buy some sweets. Sorry for some more stress today.” Vinyl apologized.

“Don’t be silly. You aren’t stress, believe me. It’s always good to see friends.” Bon Bon straighted her posture behind the counter and waved a hoof towards the selection of sweets around them. “What can I get you?”

Vinyl glanced around for a brief moment. Everything looked yummy enough, but Vinyl had been given a taste of what really good sweets tasted like thanks to Bon Bon’s homemade ones. Nothing would come close in her opinion.

“Which ones did you make?” Vinyl asked and tore her gaze away from a gummy bear the size of her head.

“None of them. I just work the counter and clean up.” Bon Bon explained with a shrug.

“Awww…” Vinyl’s lament made Bon Bon smile. It felt good to know that her own sweets were appreciated by ponies. Of course that still left her with a disappointed unicorn on her hooves. “The red licorice is rather good.”

“I guess it will have to do.” Vinyl was still slightly unhappy she wouldn’t get the good stuff. She watched Bon Bon fill a small paper bag with a few bite sized pieces of the licorice. “Why don’t you sell your own sweets?”

“The owners don’t allow it.” Bon Bon scrunched up her face and kept her voice down. “You need a license to be able to do that here in Manehatten. You can only get the license if you have studied culinary arts and have worked in this kind of environment for a few years.”

“That sucks.” Vinyl had been warned during her own time in culinary art classes that the path of ponies working with food was a strenuous one full of obstacles. Vinyl didn’t care at the time as she took the classes solely for her own benefit.

“There are places where that doesn’t apply.” Bon Bon continued. “That’ll be three bits for the licorice.”

“Well, why don’t you set up your shop there?” Vinyl levitated the bits out of her saddlebag an put them on the counter.

“We have plans.” Bon Bon smiled again. “There is a nice little town between the Everfree Forest and Canterlot. I found out that they do not have such strict requirements for setting up one’s own shop. And it’s very peaceful there with not much happening. It would do wonders to keep Lyra’s temper from flaring up and perhaps we could have a nice life there without stress and with lots of peace and quiet.”

“What’s keeping you?” Vinyl took the bag of licorice in her magical grasp and stowed it away in her bags.

“We’re working on it.” Bon Bon sighed. “I may not need to fulfill a lot of requirements, but I still need a permit, that costs a lot of bits. And of course a house, the equipment and all of the ingredients to start up my business will cost even more. So we work here and save up towards our little dream. In a few years we might have enough.”

“Dreams are important.” Vinyl agreed her thoughts once again trailing off towards Octavia.

She wanted to stay and chat a bit longer with Bon Bon, but a sudden mob of tourists swarmed inside the shop. Vinyl hastily stepped out of the way before getting wedged in between the mob and the counter. Bon Bon gave her a shrug and a smile before turning to the first customer hankering for something sugary. Vinyl waved a quick goodbye, not entirely sure if Bon Bon had seen it.

With nothing else to do she decided to walk at a leisurely pace towards Octavia’s place of work. Vinyl briefly fought with the bag of licorice, trying to pull it out of her saddlebag. For a moment she wasn’t paying attention were she was walking and promptly collided with another pony.

“Oh sorry about that.” Vinyl said and turned to the pony she had hit. Then she flinched back in surprise as she registered the state the pony was in.

“She’s coming! She’s coming I tell you!!” The stallion exclaimed with a panicky voice. His mane was the very definition of unkempt, sticking out all over the place. His ears twitched constantly and his eyes never rested for long on one thing. His formerly light green coat was covered in dust and dirt. Around his neck hung a cardboard sign that said: Beware the moon!

“Uh…you ok?” Vinyl asked, not entirely sure she really wanted to know.

“She’s coming! Soon the nightmare will befall us aaaaaaaalll!” he sidestepped Vinyl and continued on his way. It wasn’t clear if he had even realized that he had collided with another pony, as he kept ranting and raving about the moon and the end of ponykind while walking away.

“Yeah, good luck with that!” Vinyl called after him and resumed her walk. At least the collision had freed the licorice from her saddlebag and she plopped a piece in her mouth. Bon Bon was right, it was good.


Vinyl had finished the licorice when Octavia left the building. Both of them smiled as they met up and started walking towards home.

“How was your day?” both of them asked at the same time. They laughed for a moment until Octavia prompted Vinyl to start with her day.

“Nothing special. Played a few tracks, made ponies dance and met Lyra for a milkshake. Then I went by Bon Bon’s and bought some licorice.” Vinyl reported, but left out the bit about Neon Lights.

“Red or black?” Octavia asked and shifted the case on her back around a bit.

“Red. You want some?” Vinyl had eaten it all, but wouldn’t mind buying some more if her friend desired so.

“No thanks.” Octavia shook her head. “I don’t really like the red licorice.”

“Sooo….how was your day?” Vinyl asked and made a mental note to pick up some black licorice for Octavia tomorrow.

“Pretty exciting actually.” Octavia grinned. “Today we played the entire musical together with the actors on stage. It is actually rather good. Some of the songs will no doubt be stuck in my head for some time. We played them often enough, that’s for sure.”

“How often?”

“We played the musical from start to finish twice. And then a few of the more difficult songs separately. All in preparation for the first preview show next week.” Octavia explained as they crossed a street.

“Can I come and watch?” Vinyl asked.

“I’m afraid not.” Octavia gave her friend an apologetic look. “That show is just for a few critics, financial backers and journalists.”

“I could be a critic.” Vinyl suggested and stuck her nose up in the air. “Why is there so little bass? Why isn’t that cellist on stage playing a solo? Unacceptable!”

Octavia laughed at Vinyl’s horridly fake Canterlot accent. “I’m afraid you will have to wait for one of the regular shows.”

“That’s too bad.” Vinyl grinned back at the cellist. “Guess I’ll have to wait until I can use my signs that say Go, Tavi! Go!”

“You really want to see the show?” Octavia asked trying to ignore mental images of Vinyl hopping about a theatre with a sign in her hooves.

“Of course. I want to see every performance you will ever be in.” Vinyl said in all seriousness.

“Then I shall always keep my eyes open for you.” Octavia replied with a wide smile. Together they continued their journey home.

Chapter 16

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„…daaaaaaancing poooooonnnnnyyyyyyyyy!“

With the last verse sung the musical came to a close and the last notes echoed into nothingness. Octavia rested her bow and with perked up ears listened to the applause of the ponies in attendance. Of course it could have been a better feeling had there been more than just a dozen ponies, but this was the very first showing for critics. As such the numbers were few, but even more important than a full house of regular audience.

The actors returned to the stage and took a bow. A moment later Sinfonietta signaled the musicians to do the same. Judging by the look on the conductors face the play had gone very well. Octavia could not see the actors from her position and had no idea how they had fared up until this point.

Her opinion on the theatre had changed. At first the cellist had felt underwhelmed by it all. But now after a few weeks of work and seeing the play they all had worked on come to life, she had to change her mind. It had been a marvelous experience and she felt a certain pride and joy when the last note had played. She now also understood why Sinfonietta had stayed part of the theatre and not moved on to grander stages.

The applause died down soon and the audience began furiously scribbling in notepads writing reviews on what they had just seen. For a moment the actors on stage seemed a bit lost on what to do next when the director called them backstage. Sinfonietta put down her baton and breathed a relieved sigh.

“Well done everypony.” She smiled at each one of her musicians. “Now we take a well-deserved rest and await the reactions. Feel free to stay here or if you want to, you can also go home. You most certainly deserved an early end of work today.”

Octavia carefully packed up her cello in its case. She could go home early, but at the same time she really wanted to find out how the play had fared amongst the critics. Besides that she also always looked forward to walk back home with Vinyl, who at this time would most likely still be at home as this was a day off for her. She left her cello in front of the stage and trotted off towards the backstage area to have something to drink. Just beyond the door leading to the pit she nearly bumped into a thin unicorn stallion.

He eyed her very carefully. Octavia smiled politely and gave him also a quick look once over. She estimated his age around that of Sinfonietta’s, although he most certainly had less hair. In fact he was slightly balding at the front. The rest of his very pale yellow hair stuck out at all ends as if he had received a shock of some kind. His coat was an also pale purple no doubt it had lost some of its color due to stress. Octavia could not shake the feeling that he was under constant stress all the time. His dark green eyes studied her very intently and the cellist was slowly becoming uncomfortable. A quick glance revealed that his cutie mark was in the shape of a metronome.

“What do you think you are doing?” he asked in a rushed tone and sounded rather annoyed.

“Oh, I am sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.” Octavia assumed she had surprised him when she had opened the door.

“That….with the cello. What do you think you are doing?” he asked again.

Octavia was slightly taken aback by this stallions tone. She would understand if she had actually startled him, seeing that it wasn’t the case and he was apparently criticizing her cello, her attitude changed from apologetic to confrontational. Octavia knew full well that her part in the musical had been flawless and she would not take any critique lying down. Years of living in Canterlot had most certainly prepared her for this very moment at least.

“Excuse me?” Her reply was cool and laced with warning undertones. He turned her nose up on him and gave him an icy glare.

“Spare me that look.” He didn’t flinch or even care. “That what you did with the cello. Something like that has no place in a musical.”

Octavia felt the typical Canterlotian outrage boiling to the surface. Critic, important pony or otherwise she did not care and would give him an earful of the poshest verbal beatdown he would ever receive.

“Are you aware of who I am?” Octavia was going to play the Canterlot / earthpony prodigy card to its fullest. He didn’t even give her a chance.

“You do not belong here!” he stated and lightly tapped her chest with the tip of his hoof. Octavia briefly wondered about the possible fallout if she simply slapped him.

“I can very well assure you that I….” Octavia opted for the verbal assault instead of the physical one. He interrupted her again.

“You do not belong here!” he stated again and pointed a hoof towards the door leading to the pit. “You do not play the cello. You make it sing.”

Octavia was going to protest, when her brain signaled her that she actually had just received some kind of compliment.

“You have true talent with your instrument. It is a terrible waste to simply see it cast aside in front of the stage. You!” he tapped her chest again. “You belong on the stage! You belong in the Manehatten Symphony Orchestra. Be there on Monday at seven o’clock sharp and prepare for some hard work and the chance to show your true potential.”

With those words he left her standing dumfounded in the hallway. Octavia tried to wrap her head around what just happened. He chuckle from behind her stopped her thoughts even before they had begun to process the event.

“I see congratulations are in order.” Sinfonietta trotted up from behind her to finally stand opposite her.

“What just happened?” Octavia asked dumbly.

“You have climbed a rung on the ladder of fame it seems.” Sinfonietta smiled at the still confused cellist.

“Who was that?” The earthpony looked past the unicorn to see if the stallion was still around, but could not see him anywhere.

“Meet Maestro Ictus, director and conductor for the Manehatten Symphony Orchestra.” Sinfonietta chuckled. “The Maestro part is his own doing. His first name is actually Tick, but don’t let him know that you know that.”

“I…wha…huh?” Octavia’s brain had decided to be sluggish today.

“You are now part of the Symphony Orchestra.” Sinfonietta nudged her with a hoof. “Congratulations.”

“But I… He surely can’t just come here and take me away.” Octavia protested.

“He does. Has done so in the past and will no doubt do so in the future.” Sinfonietta could plainly see the confusion in the grey mare’s face and explained further. “When he is in need of a musician he will go out and look for a suitable replacement himself. A few years ago he recruited one of my violinists and she has done rather well for herself thanks to that.”

“But I have a part to play here.” Octavia protested.

“Listen, Octavia.” Sinfonietta leaned forward and drew the cellist’s attention. “You and I both know that you should belong on stage and not in front of it. He chose you because he sees that as well and he has the possibility to make that come true.”

“But my part here…”

“Oh, don’t you worry about that.” The director smiled at Octavia. “I will just ask our former cellist to come out of retirement one time. You are destined for greater stages, go and seize this opportunity.”

For a moment Octavia was still speechless. Not only had she been given the possibility to perform in a proper orchestra, but also had been given the okay by her current employer.

“Just remember to mention us in the first interview you give when you are famous.” Sinfonietta gave her a wink.

“I…I will. Thank you!” Octavia felt a large smile form on her lips.

“Just one thing.” Sinfonietta held up a hoof. “Ictus….he can be, how do I put this….difficult at times. He was one of Canterlot’s finest conductors, but his rather harsh ways rubbed the elite the wrong way. After verbally tearing Prince Blueblood apart for his lack of musical talent, he was shunned and came here. Do not be discouraged! Just play your cello the way you love to and he will leave you in peace.”

“I will. Thank you again.” Octavia hugged the other mare, much to her surprise. After a moment she returned it.

This day had turned out to be most favorable for Octavia thus far. The cellist beamed as she trotted towards the room where her remaining fellow musicians were taking a break. She decided to say goodbye to them, even though she had not really made any friends here. Still she felt obligated to do so. They wished her all the best and seemed sad to see her leave before any of them could get to know her any better.

With her cello on her back Octavia left the little theatre and set out towards home. There was a spring to each step and a big smile plastered on her face as she navigated the now crowded streets of Manehatten. She couldn’t wait to tell Vinyl about her bit of good news.


Easy does it….

Vinyl was sitting at the dining table and in deep concentration. The task before her required all her attention and was delicate in nature. While holding her breath she levitated an object in front of her and used her magic to detect an opening in the object.

“There you are.” Vinyl mumbled her discovery and let the breath out she had been holding. She smirked at the donut levitating in front of her.

Ever since Octavia has relaxed more in the city of Manehatten and had found some joy in her job something else had resurfaced that thus far had been lying dormant. The better the mare felt, the higher the chances were that she would prank Vinyl.

The first occurrence had been by accident. Vinyl had been taking a hot shower and Octavia just wanted to have some water in the kitchen. A very high pitched shriek later, one that Vinyl would deny ever having made, the mares found out that if the hot water in the kitchen were turned on, then the hot water in the shower would turn icy cold. Ever since that day Vinyl showered very cautiously or only when Octavia was out, as the cellist had tried to sabotage Vinyl’s shower a few more times with varying success.

Vinyl’s first plan of revenge had been a dud. As Octavia almost never showered and preferred baths, the sudden absence of hot water for a moment went unnoticed. So Vinyl came up with a new plan involving donuts.

The unicorn was rather adept at delicate use of her magic and it was being tested to the fullest as she very carefully held the donut in front of her and ever so slightly widened the opening she had found. With her face scrunched up in concentration Vinyl got a hold on the raspberry filling and very carefully extracted it from the donut.

It took a few minutes until every last bit of jam was removed. Vinyl did not want it to go to waste, so she balled up the jam and plopped it into her mouth. The sweet jam gave her a quick boost of energy, one that she would need for the next step.

“You can do this.” Vinyl said and grinned with anticipation as she took off the lid of the glass of mustard in front of her.

Getting the jam out was easier than filling the now empty space up with mustard, but the result would be worth it. Vinyl chuckled as she imagined Octavia biting into the prepared donut and scrunching up her nose in disgust.

The lock of the front door suddenly unlocked and made Vinyl jump in surprise. The shock made her magic flare up, the result being that the donut suddenly was propelled upwards. There was no time to see what happened to it as the front door swung open and a very animated Octavia burst through.

“Mminl! Mmbllf Mbmb Mmh!” Thanks to the mail that Octavia was carrying in her mouth her words were unintelligible to the unicorn.

“Uhh? What?”

Octavia spat out the mail and tried hitting the table in front of the couch. She succeeded in hitting the edge of it instead and the few letters fell to the floor.

“I have some great news, Vinyl!” Octavia exclaimed happily and bent her head down to pick the mail back up.

Vinyl used the moment to risk taking a look at the donut’s whereabouts while the cellist had her head out of view. One very quick look upwards revealed that the donut was firmly stuck against the ceiling. Before she had the chance to do anything else, Octavia rose up from behind the table with the mail once again in her mouth. Vinyl pretended to have watched her all the time and tried the most friendly disarming smile she could muster.

With a bit more care the cellist deposited the mail on the table and turned to her friend. The smile on the unicorns face set off alarm bells in Octavia’s mind as she put down her cello case.

“You are home early. Is that the great news or did you get good reviews?” Vinyl asked and was unsure what to do with the open glass of mustard on the table.

“I got a new job!” Octavia beamed at the unicorn and made a small hop of joy.

“You…huh?” Vinyl stared at the cellist not sure what to make of that information.

“Amongst the critics today was the musical director of Manehatten’s Symphony Orchestra! And he chose meeeeee!” Octavia made another little jump. “You are looking at the new cellist for them, starting on Monday.”

“Wow! Tavi that’s awesome!” Vinyl cheered at offered her hoof to bump. “Told you that you would make it big time sooner or later.”

Octavia jumped over to Vinyl to bump her hoof in celebration. Standing beside the unicorn she noticed what was lying on the dining table. She raised an eyebrow in question as she saw the open glass of mustard. Vinyl tried to maintain her innocent smile, which failed to fool the cellist.

“I heard smelling mustard is good for one’s health.” Vinyl lamely tried to find an excuse.

The cellist just calmly studied her friends face for a moment. Too bad those magnificent crimson eyes could not manage to hide any mischief brewing in the DJ’s mind at all. Octavia looked up, an action mainly done to order her thoughts on what the unicorn might be doing, and spotted the donut sticking to the ceiling. Octavia chuckled a bit and pointed a hoof towards the object.

“What is that doing there?” she asked.

“Oh, you know. Just trying to add a little flavor to our home.”

“Trying to recreate our cake kitchen back in Canterlot?” Octavia gave Vinyl a sly smile.

“Just trying something new.” Vinyl plucked the donut from the ceiling with her magic. “Can’t have cake all the time.”

“Mmmh. That is true.” Octavia snatched the donut floating in front of her and dunked it in the mustard. Without hesitation she then bit half of it off and gleefully chewed.

It was pretty obvious that she had read the DJ’s mind on what she had been planning. Vinyl just stared slack-jawed at her friend.

“I like mustard. Nice try, Vinyl.” Octavia gave her a wink and put the other half in her mouth and chewed slowly.

“Glad you like it.” Vinyl frowned. All the work had been for nothing thanks to Octavia’s sometimes bizarre tastes. She would have to think of some other way of pranking the cellist, but for now she had other questions on her mind. “So that director pony chose you after hearing you play?”

Octavia swallowed the rest of the donut and nodded. She then gave Vinyl a quick recap of her rather one sided talk with Maestro Ictus and then the discussion with Sinfonietta.

“Sounds like an interesting character.” Vinyl finally commented.

“Yes, I do wonder how that will turn out on Monday. But things are looking up and I can finally play on stage! Isn’t that fantastic?” Octavia happily clapped her front hooves together a few times.

“Sure is!” Vinyl was indeed happy for Octavia getting one step closer to fulfilling her ambitions. “Wanna grab Lyra and Bon Bon to celebrate?”

“Absolutely! But both of them will still be working now.” Octavia walked over to the couch and flopped onto it with relief. Vinyl followed her and sat a few pony’s lengths away.

With nothing better to do for the moment they decided to check the mail. Amongst the numerous fliers and junk mail two letters emerged. One for Octavia and one for Vinyl. The unicorn levitated Octavia’s letter over to her and began opening her own. The name of the sender did slightly dampen the DJ’s mood.

It was a letter from her father. Vinyl had taken Octavia’s suggestion to heart of keeping in touch with ponies that were close. The DJ had not been in touch with her father for quite some time and had only started writing to him while she was cooped up at Octavia’s home during the winter. They were not on the best of terms, but had gradually picked up their bond again. Vinyl skimmed through the letter and let out a gasp of surprise at what was written. Octavia looked up from her own letter and over to her friend.

“What’s wrong?” she asked with worry.

“My dad, he will be in Manehatten soon.” Vinyl explained and read the part in the letter again. “He wants to meet in a café.”

Octavia scrambled up from her relaxed position into a more upright one. The tone in Vinyl’s voice was puzzling.

“Don’t you want to meet him?” Octavia asked carefully. Vinyl took a deep breath and tore her eyes away from the letter to look at the cellist.

“Yeah, I guess I should meet him.” Vinyl smiled a little, but her heart wasn’t in it.

“Want me to come along?” Octavia offered. Vinyl just looked at her for a few moments.

“That would be good.” Vinyl said after a while and placed the letter down. Dwelling on it wouldn’t change anything and just make her nervous. She decided to look through the junk mail instead and try and find something interesting to take her mind off family matters. Octavia returned to reading her own letter.

Barely a minute passed when the cellist let out a gasp very similar to Vinyl’s previous one.

“Oh dear…” The grey mare held the letter in her hooves and slowly turned her head to Vinyl.

“What’s up?” Vinyl asked and looked up from the junk mail advertising horn extensions.

“My parents are back in Equestria.” Octavia explained and held the letter aloft. “They will be passing through Manehatten.”

“And want to meet?” Vinyl asked, but secretly knew the answer already in her gut.

“Indeed. They want to come by for dinner.” Octavia continued. “Talk about strange timing.”

“When are they coming?” Vinyl shredded the rest of the junk mail with her magic.

“On the twenty-third.” Octavia answered calmly and continued to read her letter.

Vinyl sighed in relief. At least they wouldn’t have to rush from one family meeting to the other, as her father would be visiting on the twenty-fourth. What made her frown was Octavia’s calm. The unicorn had expected her friend to be freaking out about now, but the grey mare just continued to read the rest of the letter. Perhaps Vinyl had not heard the date correctly.

“Uhm, Tavi?”

“Yes?” Octavia answered without looking up.

“When are your folks coming by?” Vinyl asked.

“The twenty-third.”

“Of this month?”

“Yes.” Octavia finally looked up from her letter. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, it’s the twenty-second today.” Vinyl explained. “So they will be here tomorrow.”

For a minute or two Octavia didn’t move, not even blink and just stared wide-eyed at the DJ. Vinyl wasn’t too sure if she was even breathing. Suddenly life came back into the cellist as she jumped off the couch.

“Oh dear Celestia! They will be here tomorrow!” Octavia feverishly snatched the torn up pieces of junk mail off the table and ran with them to the paper basket in the corner of the room. “Quick! We have to prepare!”

Vinyl was too stunned for the moment to reply. She watched Octavia frantically jump from one place to the next trying to tidy up, but causing more of a mess than there had been before. Vinyl hopped off the couch and managed to stop the panicked cellist by laying a hoof on her chest.

“Calm down Tavi!” Vinyl emphasized her request by pushing Octavia onto her haunches. “We can easily fix up this place in time for your parents.”

Octavia gave Vinyl a doubtful look.

“Come on, Tavi. It’s just your parents. How bad can it be?”

Chapter 17

View Online

Octavia had been pacing about all morning.

Vinyl had pretty much given up on the fruitless task of trying to calm her down. Instead she focused on tidying the place up a bit more thoroughly than usual. Any questions directed at the cellist about the reason why she was so agitated went without answer. The mare was also tightlipped about her parents.

Vinyl simply drew up her own conclusions and guessed that they were typical Canterlot ponies and Octavia’s nervousness was a result of what they would say to her living conditions. Most likely they would find it unfit for their daughter. They could also be very strict or snobby or or or….

The DJ saw no point in trying to guess what her friends parents were like and seeing that she would not receive any kind of answer from her either, she simply went about getting the place ready. As the dreaded time was drawing nearer she decided to prepare dinner.

What Octavia had mentioned was that her parents really liked pasta, so Vinyl had decided to use one of the recipes from Octavia’s cookbook. That however was another challenge altogether.

“Uhm, Tavi?” Vinyl asked as Octavia did her umpteenth lap through the kitchen area. “What does this say? Bunch of foals?”

Octavia trotted up beside the unicorn and squinted at the written words in the book for a moment.

“Pinch of salt.”

“Yeah, that makes a lot more sense.” Vinyl levitated the salt out of the cupboard and Octavia was about to resume her pacing. “Wait, wait, wait.”

Octavia did as Vinyl requested and froze in mid-trot with one hoof raised.

“There might be a few things here that I can’t decipher. Wanna give me a hoof?” Vinyl asked. In truth she could easily take care of everything herself, but the constant pacing of Octavia was slowly getting on her nerves.

Vinyl gave her the important task of watching the water boil. Any question directed at the cellist was simply answered with a grunt, so Vinyl decided not to question her any further for the moment. Out of the corner of her eye the unicorn watched as Octavia kept glancing at the large clock hanging on the wall.

“One minute and thirty seconds.” Vinyl said after a few minutes of silence.

“Hm? What?” Octavia looked at her friend in confusion.

“That’s the time of your fastest lap around our place.” Vinyl gave her friend a meaningful look. Octavia sighed in response.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Octavia turned down the heat on the stove. “I’m just on edge right now.”

“No, really?” Vinyl deadpanned. “Aren’t you looking forward to seeing your parents again?”

“Yes, of course I am.” Octavia stepped away from the stove to give Vinyl enough room. “I haven’t seen them in almost a year and I do really want to see them again. It’s just….”

Seeing that Octavia’s last sentence had trailed off into nothing, Vinyl felt she would have to prod her friend to continue explaining herself.

“It’s just?”

“Well, when they were my age they were already successful.” Octavia answered and scrunched up her nose. “Look at me. I haven’t really followed in their hoofsteps have I?”

“Don’t say that, Tavi.” Vinyl ignored her cooking for a moment to turn to her friend. “You have played in a musical already and you are now part of Manehatten’s Orchestra. That’s what I would call successful.”

The unicorn watched the cellist take a few deep breaths. After a few moments of quiet contemplation Octavia sighed once more and gave Vinyl a small smile.

“You are right.”

“Of course I am. I am always right.” Vinyl held a hoof to her chest in pride. Octavia just rolled her eyes and giggled.

“Anything I can help you with?” Octavia asked.

“Yeah, sure. You could lay the table.” Vinyl pointed a hoof towards the cupboard where they stored their plates.

Without another word Octavia set off to prepare the dinner table for their guests. Vinyl continued with the cooking meanwhile and hoped that the evening would turn out to be a pleasant experience for all ponies involved.


Vinyl had just finished preparing the dessert, outrageously expensive ice-cream with fresh fruit on top, and was about to try and give Octavia, who had begun to pace about again, another pep-talk. The ringing of the doorbell put a halt to that before it began. Octavia trotted up to the intercom next to the door and asked who it was. After a second she told them to come up and pressed the button to let them in.

Octavia took a few deep breaths and Vinyl used the last bit of time to straighten the bowtie the cellist was wearing. The DJ’s trademark sunglasses were absent for once, as Octavia had kindly asked her not to wear them this evening.

“Vinyl?” Octavia said and caught the other mare’s attention.


“My parents, they are a little….strange.” Octavia said in a hushed voice as if she were afraid somepony else might hear her.

“Strange? What do you mean with strange?” Vinyl stepped a pace back from the cellist.

“Well, they might not be what you might be expecting.”

“Uh, what?” Vinyl gave her friend a puzzled look that turned into an annoyed one. “You couldn’t have warned me in, oh I don’t know….the entire morning sometime? You are telling me this now? When they are on the way up?”

“Sorry.” Octavia answered meekly.

“Yeah, ok. No problem….glasses are going back on.” Vinyl said and levitated said object from the coffee table and on to her head. She was not going to expose her unique eyes to somepony described as strange.

“No, you don’t have….” Octavia objection was cut off as somepony knocked on the door. With one last deep breath the cellist moved to the door and opened it.

“Octavia!” a mare’s voice greeted the cellist. The mare herself was out of Vinyl’s view, who was standing to the side of the front door.

“Mamma!” the cellist greeted back as her mother floated through the door.

That’s at least how Vinyl would describe the rather unique movements of the earthpony mare with the sand colored coat and jet black mane and tail. It was as if she was dancing to music only she could hear. Every other step had a spring in it and she even sometimes appeared to tiphoof for a brief moment. Vinyl wondered if she really was a dancer of sorts as the movements were impressively graceful.

Octavia hugged her mother and then both mares exchanged kisses on both cheeks. A greeting that Vinyl had seen other ponies from Istallia do and the entire display solidified her suspicions that Octavia had istallian roots somewhere, most likely in form of the mare she was hugging with.

Vinyl cast a quick glance to Octavia’s mother’s cutie mark, a stain glass window depicting a hammer and chisel. That wasn’t what the DJ had expected. She looked up in time to see the older mare break the hug and turn towards the unicorn.

With a friendly smile the mare trotted towards Vinyl. The DJ returned the smile and noticed that Octavia had her mother’s eyes. Although maybe her mother’s were a shade lighter, but it was difficult to tell while wearing sunglasses.

“Hello, ma’am. I’m Vinyl Sc…” Vinyl greeted and was interrupted as she received an earthpony strength hug. More surprising were the kisses she then received on her cheeks. Octavia’s mother was at least friendly, that much was certain.

“Please don’t call me ma’am.” The mare said and broke the hug. “I’m Chisella Vetrata. Call me Chisella.”

“Uh, ok.” Vinyl answered back still slightly puzzled at the mare’s greeting. Chisella sauntered off deeper into the living room curiously looking around.

Vinyl took the time to cast a glance at the unicorn stallion that was currently hugging Octavia and kissing her cheeks. Apart from his big deep chest he looked like any other stallion. His coat was a shade darker than Octavia’s and his light brown almost orange mane and tail were cut short. Vinyl could not see his cutie mark as the saddlebags he had on obscured it from Vinyl’s sight. She could not shake the feeling of having seen him before somewhere. She figured she had most likely seen him at some point in Canterlot and shrugged the feeling away.

Vinyl was happy to see the genuine love on both Octavia’s and her parent’s faces. At least their relationship did not seem to be strained and that was one worry that Vinyl gladly dropped from her list.

She stopped her musings as the stallion turned to her and briefly mustered her with his dark green eyes. There wasn’t any hostility in his look, but rather just curiosity. He smiled as he approached the DJ.

Taking a leaf from Chisella’s book of greetings, Vinyl hugged the stallion and kissed his cheeks in turn. Then he began to chuckle.

“A hoofshake would have been enough.” He said with amusement and a deep voice.

“I…uh….” Great Vinyl, way to go to embarrass yourself. “I just didn’t want you to feel left out.”

Her lame excuse for the social faux pas was met with some laughter. At least from him, as Octavia silently closed the front door.

“I most certainly don’t feel left out now anymore.” He was still smiling and extended a hoof. “I’m Reed.”

“I’m Vinyl.” Vinyl shook the offered hoof and was happy her little blunder did not have any repercussions. Reed trotted past her towards the couch to take off his saddlebags.

Chisella halted her inspection of the living room suddenly. She spun around on her hindlegs and almost danced back to Vinyl.

“Please, your eyes, I must see them!” she asked with a beaming smile.

“I…well….uhm.” Vinyl was taken aback by the request.

“If she doesn’t want to take off her glasses, then that’s fine.” Octavia chimed in and stood beside Vinyl.

“Oh come now, Octavia.” Chisella gave her daughter an amused look. “You were the one writing about her eyes in the first place, practically gushing over them in your letters. I just want a quick look to confirm what you wrote.”

“Mamma! You are embarrassing her.” Octavia protested.

“No, Dear. I am embarrassing you right now.” Chisella grinned as Octavia was about to protest.

“It’s ok, it’s ok.” Vinyl interrupted before the cellist could say anything. She now was really curious as what Octavia had written about her eyes. Both her parents didn’t seem all that strange to Vinyl, so she saw no harm in taking off her glasses. She propped them up on top of her head and looked at Chisella, who let out a gasp at the sight.

Vinyl suddenly found herself in a vice grip of Chisella who held the DJ’s head in her front hooves. She turned the unicorns head towards the light a bit more to get a better view.

“They are simply stunning.” Chisella gushed as Vinyl tried to smile, something that wasn’t easy with two hooves in the face. “Well, you weren’t kidding about that what you wrote.”

“Mamma….” Octavia’s voice had a slight warning tone to it.

“What did she write?” Vinyl managed to ask.

“Oh, she went on and on about how magnificent your eyes are. Hypnotizing jewels, beautiful rubies and paragraph after paragraph of praising your eyes. I can see now that she wasn’t joking.” Chisella released the unicorn from her grasp. “You should show them proudly and not hide them.”

“Uhm…thanks.” Vinyl could only say and grinned sheepishly.

So Octavia really likes my eyes….interesting.

Even more interesting was the cellist herself at that moment. She was seemingly intent on trying to transform her head into a tomato. At least the color of her face had very tomato-esque properties at the moment. She also avoided looking at Vinyl and rather gave her mother an angry glare that Chisella simply giggled at.

“How about a tour of your place?” Reed asked and defused the situation the mares were in. Octavia happily agreed to do that, while Vinyl was left contemplating of what to make of the information given to her by Chisella.


The tour was over quickly as there wasn’t really all that much to show. Chisella remarked that the place could do with a few pieces of art and Vinyl realized that the statues in Octavia’s place in Canterlot had been in fact made by her mother. That at least explained part of her cutie mark.

“So you make statues?” Vinyl asked as the group trotted out of the room reserved for music.

“I do indeed.” Chisella nodded. “I also have a talent for stain glass windows, but alas the need for them is not very high in Canterlot.”

“Perhaps the Princess will need some one day.” Vinyl said and led them back to the dining area.

“I am busy enough with statues, but it would be nice to make something like that for the Princess. Who knows? Maybe one day.” Chisella sat down at the table.

Vinyl left them at the table and turned to the kitchen area to prepare the food for serving. She didn’t want to be in the way of the family seeing each other again after so long. With one ear she listened in to the conversation about the locations they had visited during their tour around the world.

She levitated the large pot of spaghetti out of the oven where it had been kept warm. Deciding not to push her magical limit she left the freshly made tomato sauce in the oven for the moment. Vinyl carefully set the pot down on the table and couldn’t help noticing that all three ponies already sitting there stared wide-eyed at the food with a very hungry look in their eyes.

After all food had been put on the table, Octavia gave each pony a portion. Unsure if Octavia’s family had any kind of ritual for their meals, Vinyl waited patiently for anything to happen. But the ponies just dove into their food in front of them and seemed to enjoy it.

They were sitting evenly distributed around the round table, with Chisella to Vinyl’s left and Reed to her right. Octavia sat across from her and was adding a bit of pesto to her food. Vinyl was about to bite into a forkful of food herself when she noticed something strange. For a moment Vinyl thought she had just imagined something, but after a few moments she realized the little spectacle in front of her was real.

Octavia and her mother were in perfect synchronization. Both of them took some of the spaghetti on their forks and brought it to their mouth at the same time. The way they sucked up the last bit of noodle, then licking their lips and finally dabbing at their lips with a napkin had perfect timing. They even chewed and swallowed at the same time. If there had been an event during the Equestrian Games called synchronized eating these two would have easily taken the gold. Vinyl watched them with fascination for a moment.

“I have to say your cooking has definitely improved.” Chisella said after a moment.

“Oh, I didn’t really do anything.” Octavia said and smiled at her friend. “Vinyl did all the cooking.”

“Really?” Reed seemed impressed. “You have quite the talent for it.”

“Thanks!” Vinyl couldn’t help fight the proud grin spreading on her face. “But Tavi helped me.”

“Tavi?” Chisella’s eyes lit up and turned to her daughter. “That’s a nice nickname.”

Octavia chose not to say anything and tried to ignore her mother’s amused look. Vinyl had not caught that little display as something just had occurred to her. The only pony here with a Canterlot accent was Octavia. She decided to ask about that once they were finished with their dinner.


The dessert had been a success, the same as dinner. Vinyl felt a fair amount of pride at her accomplishment and gladly received some praise from Octavia’s parents. Now the discussion had come to a bit of a break and Vinyl decided to ask the question burning on her mind.

“May I ask something?” Vinyl felt it was better to ask before just blurting out her question.

“Of course.” Chisella turned away from her daughter to face Vinyl.

“How come neither of you have a Canterlot accent?” she asked.

Chisella grinned from ear to ear.

“Didn’t Octavia ever tell you?” she asked and looked back to the cellist who simply shook her head. “Tsk, tsk. Well good thing that I am here then isn’t it?”

“She didn’t know or ask, otherwise I would have told her.” Octavia defended herself, which was duly ignored by her mother.

“I am from Diano Mareina in Istallia originally.” Chisella drew herself up in her chair. “It’sa theee finest veelage witha theee besta linguini in theee world.”

Reed laughed at his wife’s exaggerated istallian accent. Vinyl just lightly smiled and was waiting for the mare to continue.

“That was how I talked when we first met.” The older mare ignored her husband’s laughter. “We moved to Canterlot when I found out I would be expecting my leetle bambini here.”

She ruffled Octavia’s mane which made the cellist blush slightly.

“Once in Canterlot I decided to learn that what they there call proper equestrian. With self-teaching records if you believe it. It never really took hold on me, but Octavia was always present when I played those records. Of course growing up in that town also has shaped her, but we still have hope she will one day unlearn her accent.”

“I like it.” Octavia felt the need to chime in. “Besides, it is expected in the classical circles.”

Octavia’s eyes widened as she just realized she herself had opened up the one can of worms she wanted to keep shut. Until this point her career had never been mentioned once and she was perfectly happy to keep it that way. Vinyl sensed what was going through her friend's mind and rushed to her aid with another question.

“So you both are from Istallia?” Vinyl had directed the question to Octavia’s mother, but it was her father who answered.

“I’m from Fillydelphia actually.” He chuckled a bit. “I met my wife in Istallia.”

Vinyl turned to the stallion, but caught Octavia’s thankful smile in the corner of her eye.

“It was during a show where I met her.” Reed looked at his wife while recalling the memories with a smile. Chisella just smiled at him and made no attempt to help him with his retelling, not that he needed any. “A gust of wind blew my hat away and she was the one to catch it. After the show she found me to give it back to me. We talked and talked, until it was morning. Then we talked some more and have never stopped since then.”

He leaned over to Vinyl.

“She was the one that never stopped talking.” He whispered just loud enough for his wife to hear. Her response came in form of a piece of bread hurled at the stallion who snatched it out of the air with his mouth and happily ate it.

Good thing she caught that fedora, otherwise we wouldn’t be sitting here.

Vinyl’s thoughts ground to a halt. How did she know it had been a fedora? Her eyes darted towards his cutie mark that she was able to see now. A saxophone with two notes. Suddenly all the pieces came together and Vinyl let out a gasp of surprise while standing up suddenly and inadvertently knocking over her chair, which in turn made the other ponies look at her with surprise.

“Oh dear Celestia!” Vinyl tentatively pointed a hoof at the stallion. “You are Reed Hoofstrong! The stallion of sax!”

“The saxiest stallion in town!” Reed laughed, while Chisella and Octavia rolled their eyes. Had that been an event during the Equestrian Games they would also have taken the gold.

“You have been a huge inspiration to me.” Vinyl was now fully unleashing her inner fangirl. No wonder she couldn’t quite shake the feeling of having seen him before. She even had a record from him.

Reed Hoofstrong was a pioneer in music. Together with a few friends he had made huge waves with his new style of music called jazz. While the style wasn’t quite Vinyl’s taste, she had admired the stallion for creating a new style of music that also would become famous and successful. Something Vinyl had hoped to emulate herself.

And now he was here right in front of her. Vinyl hopped excitedly from hoof to hoof. “Tavi! Do you know who this is? This is THE Reed Hoofstrong!”

“Yes, I am aware of that. He is my father.” Octavia answered back in a dry tone.

Vinyl suddenly remembered where she was and what Octavia had just said. She ceased her jumping and apologized with a much calmer tone of voice.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable.”

“Nonsense! It’s always nice to meet fans!” he still was smiling at Vinyl. “I heard you are a very good musician yourself.”

“Well….uh…I try.” Vinyl would one day have to interrogate Octavia on what she had written about her. “Do you want to listen? I have all my stuff here in the music room.”

“Sure, why not?” His answer made her heart skip. She would be able to play her stuff for the pony who inspired her. How many ponies could say they had done something like that?

“Do you two mind?” Reed asked his wife and daughter.

“Of course not.” Chisella smiled at him. “That gives me some time with Octavia alone.”

Octavia suddenly felt a chill running down her back. To shake the feeling she began to clear the table, while the two unicorns disappeared into the music room. After a moment her mother started to help her.

“That’s not necessary, I can manage.” Octavia tried to stop Chisella from having to do anything.

“It’s no big deal.” The older mare ignored her daughter’s protest. “Besides, that gives us some time to have a little chat, just the two of us.”

Octavia felt that chill running down her back again.


Octavia dunked the plates into the soapy water in the kitchen sink. Her mother had been skating around the subject Octavia was trying to avoid on purpose, of that the cellist was sure. Just to keep herself occupied with something, Octavia had decided to give the dishes a quick wash. Chisella just idly leaned against the kitchen counter and watched her daughter with a small smile.

“Vinyl is really nice.” Chisella said after a few moments of silence.

“Uh, yes. Yes she is.” Octavia was slightly surprised at her mother’s statement. A few seconds passed in silence again.

“Have you ever tried to do something about your snoring?” Chisella asked innocently.

“I…what?” Octavia stopped washing one of the plates to look at her mother. How she had jumped from one topic to another had confused the cellist.

“I noticed you were sleeping in two beds, maybe do something about your snoring and you can sleep in one.” Chisella casually explained while Octavia dropped the plate she was holding in her hooves back into the kitchen sink. The resulting small splash caused a bit of water to splash on to the cellist.

“Mamma!” Octavia grabbed a towel and dabbed at the wet patches on her coat. All the while her cheeks felt like they were burning like Celestia’s sun. “It’s not like that! Vinyl is a friend! My best friend!”

“Could have fooled me. The way you went on and on about her in your letters. Rather interesting if you ask me.” Chisella smiled a sly smile.

“She and I are not involved in that way!” Octavia protested once more and glared at her mother who just chuckled.

“Sorry, sorry if I stepped on your hooves.” The older mare apologized, but was still grinning. “It’s just that we sometimes worry about you.”

“Well, this is nice.” Octavia said with a humorless chuckle of her own. “Here I am worrying all evening if you would corner me about my career and why I haven’t yet achieved stardom and then you start asking me about my love life instead.”

“You know how parents are. Always worried about their children.” Chisella briefly nuzzled Octavia’s cheek to calm her daughter down. “You never did have many friends and we were just happy when you started writing about Vinyl.”

“You don’t care about me not being famous?” Octavia asked incredulously.

“Oh, please.” Chisella waved it away with a hoof. “I have told you many times that there is more to life than being famous or having a high profile job. Some things are even more important than art or music.”

Octavia looked at her mother with disbelief. Both her parents had made big names of themselves thanks to their talent for art and music. Hearing her mother just casually dismiss it was always strange for the cellist. Living in Canterlot where names were everything had made her believe that was the most important thing in life.

“Children are more important for example.” Chisella tapped a hoof against Octavia’s chest. “That they are happy and have nothing missing in life.”

Octavia smiled at her mother and just then realized how much she had missed her parents during their absence. She dropped her towel and hugged her mother close.

“We hoped you would have maybe used the time we were away to have some fun.” Chisella explained while hugging her daughter back.

“I guess I did have some fun at least.” Octavia broke the hug and saw that her mother had that sly smile back on her face. “Nooo, mother. Not fun of that kind. Vinyl and I are just friends. Besides, I don’t even know if she likes mares like that.”

“Do you?” Her mother asked, her smile not changing for a millisecond. Octavia blinked a few times, unsure how to answer that.

“I honestly never thought about stuff like that.” Octavia answered truthfully to which her mother sighed. “I always wanted to reach my goal first and then do things like that….I mean think about things like that….I mean…”

“Yes, I know what you are trying to say, Dear.” Chisella held a hoof to Octavia’s mouth to stop her flow of words. “But you are only young once and should enjoy it.”

Octavia let the words sink in for a moment. In a way her mother was right, but the cellist was also very stubborn when it came to her goals in life and she wasn’t ready to abandon them just because somepony told her so.

“I have a position in Manehatten’s Symphony Orchestra.” Octavia finally said.

“That sounds wonderful.” Chisella knew her daughter well enough not to push her any further on the former topic and dropped it for the time being. “Tell me all about it. Oh, and how did your musical performance go?”


Vinyl was sweating bullets.

She had played Reed three of her best tracks, yet the stallion didn’t erupt in loud cheer as she had hoped. He just sat there with Vinyl’s headphones on and didn’t even bob his head along with the beat. The track came to an end, but before Vinyl could start up the next one, the stallion removed the headphones.

“That was….interesting.” he said after a few moments.

Vinyl had spent enough time in Canterlot to pick up on the hidden meanings of some words. If the high class ponies did not like something they would say it was interesting or quaint. Hearing somepony like Reed say that felt like a slap in her face. The DJ quickly fumbled around with some of the dials on her deck.

“Maybe there was too much bass in that last one. I might have to slow it all down a bit as well. Of course those headphones cannot really…” Vinyl began babbling and only stopped once Reed put a hoof on her shoulder. Somehow she didn’t want to look him in the eye lest he see that hers were moister than usual.

“It’s ok Vinyl.” He said quietly. “Just because your music didn’t strike a chord with me doesn’t mean you should rearrange it. Come with me for a moment.”

The stallion moved away from the deck and sat in front of the window. Vinyl reluctantly followed him and suddenly felt naked without her deck to hide behind. He waited a few seconds for Vinyl to sit down before he spoke up again.

“When I played my style of music the first time, do you know what happened?” he asked.

“Uh…you were given an award?” Vinyl answered with what she had read about Reed a few years ago.

“Ha! That’s the version that was spun by my agents together with Canterlot’s university.” He laughed a bit more and felt he would have to explain himself.

“When I played together with my friends for the very first time in front of an audience they did not give us an award afterwards. In fact the faculty decided to kick us out, because all we did was noise according to them at least.” Reed couldn’t help but grin as he remembered back to those days. “Seven months later they invited us back to inspire a new batch of students. You should have seen the looks on the faculty members faces when we came back on demand by Celestia herself. Best day I ever had.”

Vinyl greedily soaked up the new information.

“We never made them change their minds about our music, to them it was just noise and that’s ok. We found fans in ponies our age and in the younger generations.” He nudged Vinyl in the side. “It isn’t me that you need to impress, Vinyl. It’s your age group and younger. Do they like what you do?”

“Yeah….yeah, they love dancing to it.” Vinyl admitted with a bit of hesitation.

“See? Then you are doing everything right. Believe in yourself and you will succeed with what you love.” Reed smiled as Vinyl’s gloom slowly evaporated.

“Don’t feel down just because some old stallion doesn’t find your music quite to his taste.” He gave Vinyl a friendly pat on her back.

A few moments passed in silence with both of them just staring out of the window. The city never seemed to sleep and even now they could see plenty of ponies walking about down below.

“Why did you stop?” Vinyl suddenly asked. It occurred to her that she a lot about Reed’s beginnings, but knew nothing about his later years in life. That he was married and was the father of her best friend was very unexpected to say the least.

“Blood clots in my lung.” He answered immediately. “Not good for a pony who plays the saxophone. Besides I didn’t really feel the need to travel around anymore after I met Chisella. Things worked out nicely in the end.”

Vinyl most certainly had to agree. She knew that the best jazz clubs in Canterlot belonged to him, which also accounted for the massive wealth that Octavia had access to. Vinyl had planned to do the same things only with her type of music. His luck was the backing of Celestia herself who found jazz much to her liking.

“You really like Octavia don’t you?” he asked and broke Vinyl’s silent trail of thought.

“Yeah, Tavi is awesome.” Vinyl answered truthfully.

“Tell me, how is she doing here?” Before Vinyl could answer Reed elaborated bit further. “She never was comfortable with going to new places. It was a bit of a surprise to us that she would move here to Manehatten of all places.”

“Well….” Vinyl felt the need to continue to tell the truth. “She didn’t really like it here in the first few days, but we got through it and I think she actually likes it here now.”

“That’s good to hear.” He gave Vinyl a pat on her back. “Promise me to look out for my little girl.”

It sounded really strange to Vinyl that she was being asked to look out for the daughter of the one and only Reed Hoofstrong. She couldn’t fight the grin spreading on her face.

“Of course I will. She is my best friend after all.” Vinyl answered immediately.

“Well then, let’s join our girls back in the living room shall we?” he said and led the way back to the mentioned room.

Our girls? Interesting phrasing….


The rest of the evening went by really fast. Both Vinyl and Octavia talked about their jobs in Manehatten and Octavia’s parents told a few stories of places they had visited. But like all good things, a splendid evening would also have to come to an end.

The offer of staying here for the night was declined, as they had made reservations in the glorious Manefair hotel and would leave early in the morning on their way back to Canterlot. After a heartfelt goodbye Octavia and Vinyl were alone in their apartment once again.

“Wow, Tavi. Your parents are really awesome!” Vinyl grinned at her friend.

“I sort of noticed that you liked them after asking my dad for an autograph.” Octavia giggled. “I am happy that you like them.”

Vinyl held aloft the autographed album cover of the record by Reed Hoofstrong she owned and let out a squee of delight. Octavia just shook her head and trotted towards the kitchen.

“I could do with a hot chocolate right about now. Do you want one?” Octavia asked and opened the cupboard to retrieve the necessary ingredients.

“Yeah, that sounds pretty good.” Vinyl carefully put down the record on the coffee table and followed Octavia into the kitchen area.

“Do you want your hot chocolate with some Vinyls, marshmallow?”

For a moment neither mare said anything. Vinyl just stared with amusement at the frozen cellist for a moment or two.

“Did you just call me marshmallow?”

“I…err…yes? You are also sweet and soft…. err….there is a certain resemblance.”

Vinyl chose not to comment on Octavia’s flushed cheeks, but chuckled instead.

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

A few moments later they were sitting at the dining table quietly sipping their drinks. Octavia broke the silence after a particularly loud slurping sip of hers.

“Tomorrow we’ll be meeting your parents, right?” she asked.

“Yeah, tomorrow afternoon.” Vinyl hid her grimace behind her mug.

“Perhaps we should have met all together. Might have been fun with our parents meeting each other.” Octavia mused and slurped her drink again.

Fun isn’t the word I would choose.

Vinyl didn’t say anything and was secretly dreading tomorrow afternoon.

Chapter 18

View Online

Today it was Vinyl’s turn to be nervous.

Unlike Octavia previously, Vinyl did not pace about the apartment. Instead she poured her nervous energy into music, mixing and rearranging the same track over and over again. She scrunched up her face at the noise thumping out of her headphones right into her ears. It really was just noise, without any clear rhythm or style. Just a mix of everything her deck had to offer all at once.

As chaotic as it was, it perfectly matched the state of her mind. She dialed up the volume a bit more as a few scenes of memories past surfaced in her mind. As it was almost afternoon already the deafening screeches did little to actually do anything except giving her a headache. With a sigh she switched off the deck and resigned herself to actually accept the scenes her mind wanted her to see.

Of course the scene jumping to the forefront of her mind had to be the last time she had spoken to her father. It had been a heated argument, neither pony willing to back down. Eventually Vinyl had left her home in Las Pegasus and had thought she had severed any ties to her family. Meeting and staying with Octavia had made her rethink things. Funny how starving and almost freezing to death can make a pony change her mind. What had started with a simple letter saying that she was sorry, had eventually evolved into a regular correspondence.

But now actually meeting him again for the first time in a few years felt strange. Was he still angry with her? Was she still angry with him? There was no answer to be found in her mind and the only way was to bite the bullet and see what would happen.

Octavia had been hovering around and tried to get Vinyl to talk, but as it became apparent that the unicorn did not want to speak she had reluctantly left her alone. Every few minutes she would take a peek inside the room to check on Vinyl, who just kept working on her music.

As if on queue the earthpony once again looked into the room and seeing that Vinyl had the headphones off she trotted inside.

“It’s almost time.” She stated and pointed a hoof towards the clock hanging on the wall opposite Vinyl. The DJ did not need reminding, as she had spent a good portion of the day just glaring at the clock. Unimpressed by her efforts the device had mercilessly continued to show her that she was running out of time.

Vinyl took a deep breath to steel herself for the inevitable.

“Yeah. Let’s go.” Vinyl’s reply was short and Octavia sensed that not all was well with her friend.

“Are you sure you want me to come along?” she asked and watched the DJ carefully roll up the cord of her headphones before placing them on the deck.

“Of course.” Vinyl most certainly did not want to go alone. If things did turn sour she figured she needed some kind of emotional anchor to keep her grounded.

Octavia followed Vinyl out of the music room and towards the front door. On the way the DJ once again donned her sunglasses.

“I just ask, because you never really talked about your parents.” Octavia closed the door behind them. “Perhaps you wanted it to be a private meeting.”

It was true that Vinyl had not talked about her parents. An oversight on her part as it would have most certainly lifted some of her emotional baggage off her back. She also had not mentioned much about Octavia in the letters to her father. Merely stating that she had met Octavia back in Canterlot, moved in with her after losing her apartment and that they had moved to Manehatten together. Vinyl wanted to keep her chapters of her life separate, now however they would collide. Perhaps it was time to share some information with her friend.

“I left home back then in a bit of a foul mood, because of an argument.” Vinyl explained as they walked down the stairs.

She remembered it as if it had been yesterday. Her first break as a student had been spent back at home in Las Pegasus. A freshly graduated Pinkie Pie had joined her for a weekend to see a bit of Equestria before settling down somewhere. Too bad Vinyl had never found out where exactly. Pinkie had left and Vinyl had announced her decision to stay in Canterlot after graduating. They had argued about it for hours on end, until Vinyl had enough and left. The last memory of home was hearing the sound of her father smash something against the wall in anger through the front door.

“So you have a strained relationship with both of them?” Octavia asked rhetorically.

“No, I was really close to my father. I guess that made our argument even worse somehow.” Vinyl answered and added a bit more information after a moment. “I don’t have a mother.”

Octavia stopped briefly in her step at that piece of information. “I’m sorry, Vinyl.”

“Nah, it’s ok. It’s….complicated.” Vinyl would eventually have to tell Octavia more about her youth. She really had put it off for far too long anyway, but on a busy sidewalk was not the place she wanted to do that. “I’ll tell you later.”

The rest of the walk to the café went in silence. Octavia felt that the unicorn at her side was really nervous as it was. The signs were there if you knew where to look. Vinyl swished her tail every once in a while and kept her head a bit lower than usual, every once in a while popping her head back up to look in all directions. Octavia didn’t want to stress her out any further although her curiosity had been awakened.


It took them fifteen minutes to reach the café. Octavia nearly collided with Vinyl when the DJ suddenly stopped dead in her tracks.

She had spotted her father standing in front of the café. With his nearly white coat and light blue mane the family resemblance was fairly obvious. He was facing away from the two mares and held lookout for his daughter on the other side of the road.

Octavia nudged her friend encouragingly hoping to unfreeze the unicorn. Vinyl took a deep breath and let it escape slowly. It did not relieve her of the tension she was feeling. With stiff legs and hooves that seemed to weigh a ton each she moved towards the unicorn stallion waiting for her.

What seemed like seconds stretched into years as she closed the distance. Her father was still oblivious to her presence and kept his eyes trained on the other side of the road and coughed a few times. Vinyl was now almost right beside him and scraped the last bit of courage she still had in her together. A quick look over to Octavia, who smiled briefly, gave her the last bit of courage needed.

Here we go.

“Hi, dad.” She said with a voice about to crack under the pressure.

Wide eyed her father whipped his head around to look at her. A moment later he smiled and stepped up to Vinyl.

“It’s good to see you again, kid.” He hugged her and held her close. “I missed you.”

Every bit of tension in Vinyl’s body suddenly left her. The familiar touch of her father felt like coming home.

“I missed you too.” Vinyl replied with her voice giving out on the last word. She was on the verge of crying out of relief and happiness. She had indeed missed him, much more than she had even known herself. It was very difficult for her to finally let go of the hug as her body had turned into a pony-shaped blob of jelly.

Vinyl smiled at her father and was happy to be wearing her sunglasses so he could not see her almost crying. She did note that his light purple eyes were slightly misty as well. On closer inspection she noticed a few more things about her father that had changed. A few lines more in his face and a streak of white in his otherwise light blue mane.

“What’s this?” she asked and touched the streak with her hoof.

“That’s called aging with style.” He laughed and ruffled Vinyl’s mane with one of his hooves like he always used to do when she was about nine years old. Vinyl didn’t mind, in fact she felt even more back home. Then he averted his face to the side and coughed a few times.

“Are you ok?” Vinyl asked with concern.

“Yeah, it’s just the air here.” He explained with a smile. “I’m used to the dry air back home. This town is a little too close to the sea for me. Why don’t you introduce me to your friend?”

“Gladly.” Vinyl turned to Octavia who had been silently observing the affectionate display with a small on her lips. “This is Octavia. Tavi, meet my dad, Light Show.”

It was a fitting name for the stallion with three stage lights for a cutie mark. Each one shining in a different light. Red, green and blue.

“A pleasure to meet you.” Octavia said with her best Canterlot accent and offered her hoof for him to shake. He did so with a smile, but had Vinyl been paying closer attention she might have caught his smile not quiet reaching his eyes. She had been too busy to give her eyes a quick wipe to get rid of some of the moisture in them.

“Likewise.” Light Show answered and turned to Vinyl. “Why don’t we go inside and catch up?”


It was already getting dark in Manehatten.

The three ponies had left the café hours ago and had just finished a meal in a quiet little restaurant. Vinyl and her father had talked about Las Pegasus and Manehatten for the most part. Every time the talk would shift towards topics like her time in university or Canterlot, Vinyl would steer the talk into a different direction. There were things she did not want to talk about as they might have ruined the mood.

The DJ also noticed small things about her father regarding to Octavia. He was polite and friendly, yet still rather short when talking to her and slightly strained. She knew full well why it was and consciously made an effort to keep Octavia out of most of their talk. If the cellist was offended by it, she couldn’t tell and would have to explain to her later why that was.

For now the only thing on Vinyl’s mind had been building up for some time. Some things needed to be addressed and had to be done so quickly otherwise there would be an unfortunate accident. Vinyl had to use the bathroom.

She excused herself when she was sure that the current topic of discussion was about something that wouldn’t cause problems along the way. As Octavia and her father kept talking about musicals, Vinyl saw her chance to seek out relief from her building predicament.

She was directed by a member of the staff towards the restrooms in the back part of the restaurant. Once there she saw that her chances of immediate relief had diminished considerably. A long line of ponies waited more or less patiently to enter the place that Vinyl sought.

Without any other options she stepped into line and waited for the line to start moving. To try and pry her mind away from anything bathroom related and especially from anything that had to do with water she listened in to the two ponies in front of her talk.

“Come on, come on.” A dark red mare with a light purple mane and tail complained. “What’s taking so long in there?”

“It’s because of the party on the upper floors.” The yellow mare with black mane and tail explained that stood behind the red mare and in front of Vinyl.

“Party?” the red one asked.

“A birthday party for a cousin of mine.” The yellow one replied and sighed. “Should have thought about the catering a bit better in my opinion.”

“Why?” The red one looked at the other one with trepidation. “Is there something wrong with the food?”

“Oh no. The food is fresh and tasty.” The yellow one explained. “The problem is that the hired party planner decided to make it a cheese themed party.”

“Cheese themed?”

“Cheese fondue, cheese bits on toothpicks, wheels of cheese, cheese sandwiches, grilled cheese, cheese pieces with a lot of holes that have been filled with other cheese.” She paused to catch her breath. “And he even made the drinks cheese themed. Have you ever tried a cheese milkshake?”

“I’d rather not.” The red one shook her head.

“I mean it all tastes really good and he is good at keeping everypony entertained.”

“Then what is the problem?” the red one asked.

“My family is lactose intolerant.” The yellow one replied and shifted uncomfortably on her hooves while wincing.

“Well, crap.” The red one said back after a moment.

“Exactly! Hence the long line.”

Vinyl took a step back from the yellow mare just to be sure to not be in the danger zone if an accident should happen.


Vinyl’s odyssey into the depths of the restaurant’s restroom had taken nearly twenty minutes, but she had braved the horrors within and made way for another very anxious mare to enter the empty stall. Relived she made her way back towards the table where she had left Octavia and her father.

The first thing Vinyl noticed was that most of the other patron’s heads were turned towards her table. A quick glance over it only revealed her father who just sat back down. He seemed rather angry and quickly downed the rest of his orange juice in one gulp. Vinyl’s caught a movement in the corner of her eye by the exit. She saw part of a grey flank and a jet black tail vanish out of sight. Vinyl’s stomach suddenly felt like a pit had opened up inside. She ignored the looks of the other ponies around and nearly ran towards her table.

“What happened?” she asked her father. He just gave her a quick look once over and nodded towards the empty chair opposite him.

“Sit down, Vinyl.” His reply was cool.

“Where is Octavia?” Vinyl stood where she was.

“We had a little talk.” He said and coughed again.

“What did you say?” Vinyl had a very bad feeling that she wouldn’t like the answer.

“I told her a few truths.” He said and shrugged. “She did not take it very well.”

“About what?”

“About what she is.” He replied and held Vinyl’s gaze. “And that she should stay away from you.”

“What the…” Vinyl was momentarily dumbfounded. Then from the pit of her stomach anger reared its ugly head. “What the BUCK! Why did you do that?”

“Sit down and I’ll will tell you.” Vinyl’s father did not acknowledge his daughters angry outburst and just calmly pointed a hoof to the empty chair.

Vinyl’s mind was unable to form any kind of coherent sentences at the moment. She was too stunned that her father would do something like that. She quickly slammed enough bits on the table to pay for the meals and made a beeline for the exit. Her father said something to her, but she ignored it.

Outside neither hair nor hide of a grey cellist could be seen. Knowing that Octavia was not the best navigator she feared she might become lost. Only a couple of meters away in the direction that her friend had run off to was a large crossing. The earthpony could have taken any one of the three routes and Vinyl didn’t know which way to go first.

If Octavia had fled at top speed then Vinyl would not have a chance of catching up to her. She randomly began asking a few of the ponies walking by if anyone of them had seen a grey mare running by.

Vinyl paced about in frustration when it became apparent that none of the ponies around had seen Octavia. Thinking the best bet would be to head home she set off in that direction.

“Vinyl! Wait!” Her father came running up to her. Vinyl did not pause and continued on her way, but was forced to stop when he caught and held her tail with his magic.

“What?!” Vinyl turned towards him and pushed her sunglasses on top of her head. “Why did you do that?”

“I am only trying to protect you.” He answered and held the angry gaze his daughter was giving him.

“Protect me? From what?” Vinyl let herself be ushered a bit to the side so they wouldn’t be talking in the middle of the sidewalk. “I don’t need any kind of protection. I am doing just fine.”

“Fine? Just fine?” Light Show shook his head. “Vinyl, living on the streets is not fine.”

“What? How did…”

“Your acquaintance told me so. Seems like she assumed you had told me about that in your letters.” There was an amount of hurt in his voice. “Somehow you seem to have forgotten to mention that. I wonder if there is anything else you forgot to tell me.”

Vinyl’s angry glare wilted like butter on a hot stove. She now avoided looking at her father and let her head hang low. All she had mentioned to him in her letters was the fact that she had lost her home and moved in with Octavia. The little fact of almost freezing to death in the snow had been carefully omitted. She feverishly hoped that Octavia had not let that slip as well.

“Damn it, Vinyl! It was winter, you could have gotten seriously ill.”

Her thought had been answered and she chose not to reply.

“I owe her a lot for taking you in.” her father continued. “And that does not sit well with me.”

“You don’t owe her anything.” Vinyl was the one who owed her.

“Yes, I do. She most certainly didn’t do it without expecting something in return.”

“How dare you say that!” Vinyl’s head shot back up. “You don’t even know her.”

“I know how mare’s like her think. They never do anything without wanting something in return. It’s how their system in Canterlot works.”

“Stop it!” the DJ was angry again. “She is not my mother! She did it because she has a good heart and wanted to help.”

“Oh please, Vinyl.” Light Show shook his head again and ignored his daughters rising temper. “None of those ponies have a good heart. They do things only for personal gain. It is best you left her here and moved back home.”

“I can’t do that.” Vinyl growled.

“Why? What is she to you?” Light Show kept his temper in check for the time being.

“I lo… I like her a lot, dad.” Vinyl cursed at her little slip up. “She is my best friend and I am not leaving her.”

For a brief moment neither pony spoke. Vinyl began to wilt again under her father’s calm look. Then he sighed heavily and sat on his haunches.

“You have fallen in love with her.” He stated and watched his daughter writhe under his look for a moment. “And she doesn’t know.”

Vinyl cursed silently for being so easy to read, but chose to bluff her way through.

“Why do you think so?”

“If the feeling were mutual then she would have shown it some way I reckon.” He explained his reasoning. Vinyl remained silent not knowing how to respond.

“Why didn’t you tell her how you feel?” He asked.

“I didn’t have the courage.” Vinyl answered after a moment of thought. It was a half truth, but one that she hoped he would accept.

“Maybe because you wouldn’t like the answer?” It was a rhetorical question. He knew he had struck a nerve when Vinyl briefly locked eyes with him and he saw the doubt in them. Vinyl sat on her haunches and looked at the pavement, her eyes had already given him all he needed.

“Even if you told her do you really think she would give you the answer you seek?” He scooted a bit closer to her. “They only care about fame and fortune, Vinyl.”

“You’re wrong.” Her protest sounded weak in her own ears. Despite her initial resolve she felt her eyes betray her once more as they became slightly misty.

“I don’t like telling you these things. I just want you to have a happy life.” He spoke the last sentence softly.

“I am happy now.” Vinyl’s reply lacked the conviction she had wanted to put in it.

“Maybe.” He put his hoof on her shoulder, but Vinyl still just stared at the pavement. “But for how long?”

Seeing that no reply would come from his daughter he pressed on.

“What will happen in the future? Will you still be happy when she has become famous? Will you still cook and clean for her like some kind of servant?”

Vinyl wanted to protest. She wanted to tell him that it wasn’t what was really happening. That the relationship with Octavia was one of friendship and that she wasn’t a servant to the mare. That she did those things out of her own accord and not because she was forced to. He didn’t give her the chance to gather her thoughts.

“What happens when she finds a stallion and marries? Maybe has foals of her own. Will you then still be living with her and be happy? Knowing that you cannot ever have what you desire?”

Light Show watched a lone tear slide down Vinyl’s cheek. He knew that he had hit a sore spot and he hated having to upset his daughter so much.

“Come back with me.” He said softly. “Back home to Las Pegasus. There are many opportunities for you to find some place to work with your music. Find a nice stallion…” Light Show held up a hoof to stem Vinyl’s possible protest. “..or mare. Vinyl, I don’t care about that. I just want you to be safe and live a good life.”

The DJ didn’t move or say anything. He lightly shook her with his hoof on her shoulder.

“Vinyl, I love you and lost you once before. I don’t want that to happen again. Please come back home with me.”

For nearly a minute nothing happened. Then Vinyl drew a large breath and let it out with a sigh. When she lifted her head to look at him, he saw that she had reached a decision.

“I love you too, dad.” Vinyl held his gaze and spoke with clarity. “But I can’t go with you.”

“Vinyl…” he began but was almost immediately cut off.

“I’m sorry, dad. I am going to stay here with Octavia.”

He sensed that there was no point of trying to convince her otherwise. She could be just as stubborn as he was sometimes. With a sigh he removed his hoof from her shoulder.

“Then promise me that if anything should happen that you will contact me and allow me to help you.” He finally said.

“I promise.” Vinyl gave him a sad little smile which he returned.

“My train will leave soon and I still have to fetch the equipment I was meant to pick up here from the store.” Light show hugged his daughter close. “Keep safe, Vinyl.”

She returned the hug and said her goodbye to him. With hesitation he turned around and left her sitting on the sidewalk. Vinyl took a deep breath and held it for a few seconds. She felt like crying, wanting to shout and yell at how complicated life sometimes had to be. But she still had a missing cellist on her hooves and there would be time later for lamenting about the ups and downs in life.

With a final sigh she donned her sunglasses once more and set off to her home.


Vinyl’s plan was simple. See if Octavia had found her way home. If not, she would grab a picture of her and go straight to Manehatten’s guards and file a missing pony report. Then she would get Lyra and Bon Bon and try to find her in the streets of the city.

When she arrived in the apartment a huge weight lifted off her shoulders as she heard a cello being played. As she locked the door she noticed that it was being played badly. The notes were being missed and the bow seemed to wobble, causing the notes to have a strangely eerie sound to them.

Vinyl had enough experience to judge her friend’s mood based on what was being played and how it was played. The pit in her stomach was back as she realized that the sounds were possibly being made by shaky hooves. Until now she had never heard Octavia be so upset.

The unicorn closed the front door with a bit more force than necessary. As expected the music stopped immediately and as Vinyl walked towards the music room she heard hoofsteps step hesitantly closer.

A moment later the tear streaked face of Octavia popped around the corner. She hiccupped once and seemed unsure of what to expect.

“He isn’t here.” Vinyl stated calmly, correctly guessing her friends feelings.

Octavia bolted towards the unicorn and had begun crying again. Before Vinyl had the chance to react, the earthpony wrapped her forelegs around Vinyl’s neck and held on seemingly for dear life.

“Please… don’t… go.” She stammered between sobs.

Vinyl hugged her crying friend close and soothingly began stroking her jet black mane with a hoof. Using her magic she flicked her sunglasses towards the couch.

“I am not going anywhere, why would you think that?” she asked quietly. Vinyl’s feelings were torn between sadness for seeing Octavia so upset and anger that her father had caused it.

“He said…he said he would be taking you back to Las Pegasus.” Octavia buried her head in Vinyl’s neck. “I don’t want you to leave me.”

“It’s ok, it’s ok.” Vinyl swallowed a lump in her throat. “I’m not leaving you, don’t worry.”

“You know…I don’t think of you as…as my servant, don’t you?” Octavia’s voice wavered.

“Of course I do.” Vinyl kept stroking her mane. “I’m sorry about what he said.”

“Why?” Octavia swallowed hard. “Why did he say those things to me? What did I do to him?”

Vinyl sighed. She should have told Octavia everything a long time ago, but she had felt uncomfortable about it and now her delay had caused a huge mess that could have been avoided.

“It’s not you, Tavi. It’s where you are from.”

“I don't understand.”

The way things had gone thus far, Vinyl saw no point in keeping anything from Octavia anymore. She cleared her throat and began to shed some light on her past.

“He has a grudge towards Canterlot, because of my… my mother.” It felt strange to Vinyl to talk to somepony about her past as she had never done so before.

“Was she from Canterlot?” Octavia asked and sniffled.

“No, she was from Las Pegasus.” Vinyl drew a large breath. “My dad works as a stage technician for a lot of the shows and venues in Las Pegasus. Mainly he is in charge of the lighting as a few special effects. One day he was working together with a band that had a few backup dancers. One of them was my mother.”

Vinyl sat on her haunches and felt the cellist hug her a bit closer. She returned the hug and felt Octavia’s chest rest against hers.

“They talked and over time fell in love. They had big plans and wanted to get married, but the bits were a problem. So they saved every bit possible to afford a decent wedding.” Vinyl shifted her hooves and stroked along Octavia’s back with gentle moves.

“Then I happened. When they found out they were happy and my mother decided to postpone the wedding until I was born, a bit older and she was back in shape.”

Vinyl briefly stopped talking and collected her thoughts. Old memories always held old wounds that could still hurt.

“I was about one year old when they had gathered enough bits for the wedding. My dad rushed home to tell her the good news. That’s when he found her together with another stallion. Turned out that she had been seeing him for about two months already.”

“He was from Canterlot?” Octavia quietly asked.

“Yeah, but that wasn’t all.” Vinyl cleared her throat before continuing. “My father was devastated, but still loved her and said they still could get married. Then my mother told him that the other stallion had proposed to her as well. All my father could offer her was love. The other stallion could offer her a high class lifestyle, full of bits and famous ponies. She chose to go to Canterlot.”

“What about you?” Octavia had an uneasy feeling she wouldn’t like the answer.

“Well she…” Vinyl felt a lump rising in her throat. After all these years it was still a tough pill to swallow. “It wouldn’t have been proper for her to have a child out of wedlock and with another stallion. So she chose wealth and fame over her own child and left me behind.”

Octavia hugged her friend a bit closer as Vinyl’s voice became choked.

“My dad didn’t take it well.” Vinyl continued when she was in control over her voice again. “I was a teenager when he told me what had happened and even then he still loved her, I could see that. He blamed the rich so called sophisticated ponies in Canterlot for corrupting and taking away his love. When it comes to that city he can’t think straight.”

“You went to university there.” Octavia stated.

“Heh, you can’t imagine how I had to fight to be able to go.” Vinyl shook her head at the memory. “I told him that the best musical education could only be had in Canterlot and it took weeks for him to finally accept that it was my best chance for a good education in that field.”

“That’s when you had the fight and lost touch with him?”

“No. That only happened when I returned home during my first break.” Vinyl paused for a moment and felt the cellist’s chest press against her as Octavia took a breath. “I told him I would stay in Canterlot to change the city with my music. He flipped out and we had this huge fight. He said that the city had now also claimed his daughter….that was the last I had seen or heard from him, until I wrote him a letter.”

The two mares sat in silence for a few minutes. Vinyl still continuously stroking over Octavia’s back and mane. The cellist had calmed down meanwhile and only sniffled every once in a while.

“Did you ever look for your mother?” Octavia finally asked.

“I thought about it.” Vinyl admitted. “When I found out what had happened I was really angry. I had chosen to study in Canterlot not only because of the quality of the education. I also wanted to find her. I wanted to become rich and famous in her chosen city and then rub her nose in my success.”

“What happened?”

“I grew up.” Vinyl shrugged. “I realized that holding a grudge wasn’t healthy. And since she didn’t feel the need to be there for me when I was small, I decided she simply wasn’t worth thinking about anymore. It still hurts when I think about what my dad went through, but as far as I am concerned I never had a mother.”

“I’m sorry, Vinyl.” Octavia said quietly and squeezed her friend once.

Vinyl didn’t say anything and just kept stroking and finding comfort in the closeness to her friend. Her mind was blank, which seemed strange to her. Shouldn’t she feel relieved after telling her friend about her past? Shouldn’t she have felt something besides a hollow feeling at all?

How much time had passed was a mystery to Vinyl, when Octavia shifted about a bit into a more comfortable position. With her head now resting on Vinyl’s shoulder she sighed sleepily.

“Tell me about Las Pegasus.” She requested, shaking Vinyl back into reality.

“It’s an awesome city.” Despite the events of the day Vinyl grinned. “It was founded by pegasi a long time ago. Officially it is a separate city, but it still has a lot of ties to Cloudsdale. So you will have a lot of cloudhomes all over the place.”

“When I was a foal I always used to wonder why so many ponies took pictures of the houses. Now I know that the houses there are something unique. A blend between wood, stone and clouds. You can go up two fleets of regular wooden stairs and suddenly find yourself standing on clouds. You can buy these special boots that have a permanent cloudwalking spell in them for walking on clouds.”

“Everywhere you go you will always find some kind of show or act to watch. As a kid I would sometimes tag along with my dad to some of the shows he was working for. I saw all kinds of stuff. Magic acts, comedy acts, musical performances and even some exotic animals being used in some of the shows.”

“We had nearly everything there that you would ever want to see or even think of seeing. Well, all except for trees or parks. The entire city is smack in the middle of the desert. I remember dad taking me to Seaddle once during winter. I freaked out because of the snow, scared I might become lost amongst all the white. Never seen the stuff back home.”

“I think it is pretty special also because off all the different ponies. It is one of the few cities that has an equal amount of unicorns, earthponies and pegasi. Although the pegasi are still the ones in charge and have all the top positions, like mayor and judges and so on.”

“We get a huge amount of tourists there everyday. Mostly because of the shows, but a lot also go there to try and win some bits in the casinos and such. I think the entire thing is rigged as very few actually leave the town richer than they had entered it. But thanks to that Las Pegasus is one of the richer cities in Equestira. Downside is that most of the money is in the hooves of the casino owners, most of them of course pegasi. It’s said that they use the money to pay off the officials in Cloudsdale, so that they don’t keep breathing down their necks.”

“What happens in Las Pegasus stays in Las Pegasus. I bet you have heard that before and it’s true. We have our own guards and a few laws about gambling that don’t exist in other cities. I never much cared for gambling, always seemed like a waste of bits to me.”

Vinyl thought of other stand out features about her home town. She could go into detail about some of the clubs or restaurants, but decided against it. Then she remembered one special thing that always had impressed her as a child.

“The entire city is full of bright lights. Advertisements, decorations and street lights. Everything is always blinking or flashing all the time. There are some streets where you can’t tell if it is day or night time because of all the lights. And they are always on for twenty-four hours, seven days a week.”

Vinyl smiled at a distant memory.

“There is just one day where they are turned off. On the evening of Nightmare Night at eight o’clock in the evening the lights are switched off. There is a small range of hills on the outskirts of the city. From there you can see the entire town and when the lights go out you can see the stars clearly. It’s breathtaking seeing the huge endless sky with all those tiny dots in the sky. As a kid I always thought that the lights from the city had rushed up into the sky, because they were afraid of the costumed ponies walking about asking for candy.”

Vinyl chuckled.

“You have to watch where you step during that night on those hills. Plenty of couples go there to spend a romantic evening together.”

Vinyl suddenly had a thought hit her. The way the day had gone thus far, she might as well test the waters so to speak. It couldn’t get any worse.

“You know….” Vinyl suddenly had a lump in her throat again, albeit from a different reason this time. “I would really like to show you Las Pegasus one day. Perhaps during Nightmare Night so you can see the…. the view from those…erm…. hills….”

Vinyl feared any possible negative reaction from her friend and braced herself for anything that might happen. After a few seconds nothing had happened.

“Tavi?” Vinyl quietly asked.

A light snore was the only reply she got.

Oh great! The one time you work up enough courage to ask her something like that and she falls asleep.

Vinyl sighed. Of course she had fallen asleep. The way the day had gone she wouldn’t have expected anything else.

She stopped stroking Octavia’s mane and tried pulling the sleeping mare off her. The instant she lightly pushed her away, the cellist reflexively strengthened her grip around Vinyl’s neck.

You have to be kidding me…..

“Tavi?” Vinyl carefully shook her friend a bit, but only earned a slightly louder snore in return.

The DJ didn’t really want to wake her friend up by more extreme methods. It had been a taxing evening for both of them and Vinyl thought it best just to let her sleep. The only problem was the location. She could have tried to drag the cellist over to the couch, but if she would have to drag her around she might as well drag her to her bed. Vinyl mused for a moment and came up with a better plan than to drag her friend through their home.

It took her a few minutes to turn around in Octavia’s vice like grip. Anytime Vinyl would struggle too much Octavia would grab on tighter. She then had to wait for the grip to slacken again before continuing her repositioning.

Finally she had turned around, with the earthpony now resting against the unicorn’s back. Vinyl briefly prodded her friend’s foreleg with a hoof, as soon as she felt the grip tightening she pushed her hindlegs against the floor and stood up. Now she had the cellist sleeping on her back and had an easier time moving about.

Carefully she carried her cargo into Octavia’s bedroom. All she had to do now was to somehow get the cellist to relax her grip long enough to lay her in her bed. A louder snore indicated that it might not be quite as easy as Vinyl hoped. She pondered the situation for a moment or two and came up with the best plan at her disposal.

Trying to lay down with another pony on her back was definitely a new experience for the DJ. With some effort she clambered on to the bed and tried to lie down as gently as possible. Vinyl reasoned that if Octavia were lying on a nice comfy surface she would release the other trapped mare eventually. Gravity lent Vinyl some unwanted help and the two ponies flopped unceremoniously on their side. Octavia did not wake up, but instead increased her grip to uncomfortable levels, slightly choking her friend.

After a moment the cellist relaxed her grip a bit, but not enough for Vinyl to escape. The unicorn sighed heavily. The day had been taxing for her emotionally and physically now as well. All she wanted to do was sleep in her own bed and forget the day’s events.

Just a couple of minutes and she will let go.

The warmth from Octavia snuggled against her back and the cellist’s breathing on her neck slowly lulled the DJ to sleep.

Chapter 19

View Online

Slowly but surely sleep released its grip on Octavia.

Normally the cellist would get up as soon as she was somewhat awake. Now her fuzzy mind for some reason did not want to get up immediately. Her mind was not the only fuzzy thing she noticed. Her pillow was exceptionally fuzzy this morning as well. Perhaps that was why she was so reluctant to get up. With a sigh and the decision of just five more minutes she buried her face in her pillow.

Her pillow seemed warmer than usual. It also was a lot firmer, yet at the same time softer as she was accustomed to. Perhaps Vinyl had used a new brand of detergent. Octavia gripped it a bit tighter.

For a moment Octavia thought her pillow had moved. Most likely her sleepy mind was playing tricks on her. She hugged the pillow as tight as possible to whisk away those annoying mind games and get a few more minutes sleep.

The cellist knew that not all was as it seemed as her pillow began emitting strangled noises.

Startled she opened her eyes as her head shot upwards. Any notion of going back to sleep were effectively ruined by the sight of a slightly blue in the face pony being clutched by her. Vinyl ineffectively pawed at the forelegs strangling her.

“Vinyl?!” Octavia released her grip around the unicorn’s neck and watched as she rolled over the edge of the bed, away from the earthpony’s vice like grip. The DJ coughed between large gulping breaths and just remained on the floor for a moment.

When she had regained her normal white color and had stopped gasping for air she sat up.

“’Morning.” Vinyl croaked out and rubbed her neck with a hoof.

“What are you doing here?” Octavia’s tone was frosty.

Vinyl glanced over to the earthpony in bed. The cellist stared with wide eyes at the unicorn on the ground. Her right foreleg raised in front of her chest, a defensive posture.

“I…uh.. you sort of fell asleep on top of me while I was telling you about Las Pegasus.” Vinyl coughed a couple of times. “I tried waking you, but you just kept on sleeping and wouldn’t let go of me. So I figured I would just lay down and you would let go of me. I must have fallen asleep as well.”

Vinyl gave her friend a disarming sheepish smile. Octavia didn’t move or change her expression and Vinyl’s smile slowly faded.

“I didn’t mean to stay here.” Vinyl added as the situation became uncomfortable.

“I see…” The response of the cellist still was slightly frosty and Vinyl felt the situation most certainly not going in her favor. Hoping to defuse the current predicament she found herself in, she glanced about the room to find some kind of diversion.

“Oh, look at the time.” She said after seeing that it was already 6 AM. “You best get ready for your first day in the orchestra.”

Octavia didn’t move or say anything and just kept her eyes on the other mare.

“I… I’ll make you something to eat for lunch.” Vinyl got up on her hooves and walked out of the bedroom towards the kitchen. She could feel Octavia’s look follow her out of the room.

Crap, crap, crap, crap…..

Vinyl began gathering supplies for some sandwiches and tried to figure out what had just happened. As a teenager she had read a couple of cheesy romance novels and very similar situations had been described in them. The major difference being that the waking up pony was overjoyed to find the other one in bed with them, which would then lead to some kind of steamy romantic scene. Reality sort of worked differently as she had now found out.

She heard Octavia enter the bathroom and let some water run into the bathtub. Vinyl continued to prepare the food, all the while pondering if she should say something.

Only when she heard a cello case close with a sharp click did Vinyl snap out of her musings. She quickly put the finished sandwiches into a paper bag for Octavia and met the cellist in the living room.

“I have to get going. Don’t want to be late on my first day.” The cellist said in her normal tone, but avoided looking directly at Vinyl.

“Yeah, that wouldn’t be good. I’ll walk you there.” Vinyl replied and hoped that her friend wouldn’t object. Octavia said nothing and just stepped out the front door.

The relatively short trip towards Octavia’s new job location went in complete silence. It gnawed at the DJ that the other mare just kept looking straight ahead and did not make any attempt at small talk.

I bucked it up.

Vinyl felt the impulse to say something, anything. The silent treatment that Octavia was giving her was torture.

“Do you know when you will finish?” she asked when they were only a few steps away from the entrance.

“I am not sure. Maybe five, maybe six.” Octavia answered. “I have a key, so you don’t have to pick me up.”

“I’ll be here, no problem at all.” It stung Vinyl that Octavia had said she wouldn’t need to be picked up.

“See you this evening then.” Octavia said and entered the building.

Vinyl just stood outside as her mind went into overdrive at what was going on. No matter how much she began to even try to understand the events of the morning, one thing was clear to her. She needed some advice and there was only one pony she felt comfortable talking to right now.


It took Vinyl a good portion of the morning to walk to her destination. She had been walking rather slowly and it was now approaching lunchtime. It had been intentional as she hoped the pony she was looking for would be able to take a lunch break with her.

She spotted Lyra sitting behind the counter of a rather small newspaper stand. The mint green unicorn looked positively bored as she flicked through a magazine on the counter. Every once in a while she would glance over to a stallion standing by the stand reading a magazine of his own. As Vinyl approached the stand, Lyra’s expression shifted to joy as she saw her.

“Hey, Vinyl!” Lyra waved at the unicorn. “How’s it going?”

“Do you have a minute?” Vinyl said and glanced at the stallion. “I kinda need to talk to you about something.”

“Sure, what’s on your mind?”

“Could we maybe go somewhere more private?” Vinyl didn’t want to discuss anything in front of the unknown stallion.

“I have my lunch break in about an hour, if that is ok?” Lyra gave the DJ a curious glance.

“It’s kind of important.”

“What kind of important are we talking about?” Lyra would get in trouble if she closed the stall so close to lunchtime for the surrounding businesses.

“I woke up kind of breathless this morning.” Vinyl simply stated.

“Bad dreams?” Lyra asked with concern.

“I woke up next to Octavia in her bed.” Vinyl said flatly.

For a moment Lyra didn’t move or blink. Then she exploded in a flurry of activity. She snatched the magazine the stallion was reading away with her magic and while shunting him roughly away from the stall, closed its shutters and locked up. The stallion just got up on his hooves as Lyra hung her “out to lunch” sign up.

“Hey! I was reading that!” He complained and drew himself up, ready to start arguing. “That was a highly interesting article about financial investments in agricultural stock.”

“I’m sorry, sir!” Lyra spoke loud enough for every pony on the street would be able to hear her clearly. “Your reserved high gloss, laminated, easily washable copy of stallions in stockings won’t arrive until tomorrow!”

Every single pony that had heard Lyra turned to look at the stallion. He suddenly felt the need to evacuate the area as fast as his legs would carry him.

“Wasn’t that a little bit excessive?” Vinyl asked a now smugly grinning Lyra.

“That little…expletive pony always comes by once a week, reads all the articles he wants to and then leaves. Never buys anything, so as far as I am concerned I didn’t lose a customer.” Lyra explained.

Then she spun on her hindlegs and faced Vinyl. With more speed than the DJ had reckoned with the other mare grabbed her by the shoulders and gave Vinyl a look she could only describe as hungry.

“Tell me everything. Don’t spare any details!”

Vinyl briefly wondered if it had not been better to talk to Bon Bon instead.


About forty minutes later Vinyl had finished her report of yesterday’s events while Lyra ate her lunch in a little café. The same café that they had consumed milkshakes at a while back. Perhaps this would turn into one of those regular meeting spots for the two unicorns.

Lyra just stared at Vinyl for a moment. The white unicorn patiently waited for some kind of reaction.

“That’s it?” she asked after a moment of quiet contemplation.

“What do you mean? “ Vinyl frowned at the unicorn opposite her. “I just poured my heart out to you and all you can say is that’s it?”

“Let’s just say I was thinking something else when you said you woke up breathless next to Octavia this morning.” Lyra ignored the look Vinyl was giving her. “Asphyxiation was not what I was thinking about. Then again, perhaps she is into that kind of stuff. The collar and bowtie might just have something to do with that.”

“Could you please be serious for a moment?” Vinyl briefly gave Lyra an angry look without her sunglasses on to emphasize her request.

“Just give me a moment.” Lyra toyed with the remnants of her lunch. She rolled an olive around her plate with a hoof for a good five minutes. Vinyl watched the ponies in the café to make sure nopony was within earshot.

“First of I want to say I’m sorry you had such a crappy meeting with your dad. Second I want to say thank you for trusting me with the things you told me. But….I hate to be the one to say this, Vinyl.” Lyra sighed. “But your dad might have a point.”

“How so?” Vinyl had not thought about what her dad had said all morning. She had been too preoccupied with Octavia.

“He is sort of right about ponies from Canterlot being interested in fame and fortune.” Lyra plopped the olive in her mouth and chewed it.

“But not all of them are like that, right?” Vinyl folded her ears down. “I mean Tavi isn’t like that.”

“All of the ponies I have dealt with outside of university were like that. And Octavia….she sort of is too.” Lyra swallowed her food. “I mean she already has fortune and as you very well know she is currently trying to be famous. That’s the entire point you’re here in Manehatten actually.”

“But I…but Tavi…” Vinyl suddenly did not feel too well and it wasn’t the fault of anything she had eaten.

“I know Octavia wouldn’t consciously try to hurt you.” Lyra held up a hoof to stop Vinyl’s stammering. “But we both know she is kind of blind to things going on that don’t have anything to do with the Canterlot Orchestra.”

Vinyl let her head hang low, almost resting on the table. Lyra leaned forward to make sure that the other mare could hear her.

“As long as you don’t tell her how you feel about her things won’t go well.” Lyra felt uneasy seeing her friend so sad. “I told you that a while back already and your dad said the same thing. You will be miserable if you don’t do something. Just tell her how you feel.”

“I can’t do that.” Vinyl looked out the window. “You didn’t see the look she gave me this morning.”

“Eh, Bon Bon gives me plenty of looks in the morning that would qualify as scary. Especially if I try any funny business and she hasn’t had a cup of coffee yet.” Lyra tried cheering up the other unicorn. “Not a morning pony that one.”

Vinyl didn’t react and kept looking at the pony passing by outside. Lyra wished she could do something to cheer her up or come up with a cunning plan to bring them together without any negative consequences. An idea popped into her head.

“You know…” she began and waited until Vinyl showed some kind of reaction that she was listening. A flick of her ear was likely the only thing Lyra would get. “I might have an idea. You sort of have an opening to test if Octavia is interested in you.”

That caught Vinyl’s attention fully and she turned to face Lyra.

“How so?” she asked.

“When she goes to bed this evening, just casually ask her if she needs an extra comfy pillow again.” Lyra grinned.

“That’s ridiculous.”

“It’s charming and funny.” Lyra ignored Vinyl’s dismissal.

Lyra sighed again. It was frustrating to see those two ponies not together. She felt that those two would for together perfectly.

“You want me to talk to her?” Lyra offered.

“No, no, no.” Vinyl quickly shook her head. “I said it once I will say it again, I won’t try anything like that with her. I promised I would help her with her goals and that’s it.”

“Yet you asked her out to a romantic location in the middle of the desert.” Lyra raised an eyebrow.

“I was not thinking straight. Holding a sobbing mare and having a fight with my dad sort of messed up my perception of things.” Vinyl defended her actions. “Besides, after the look she gave me this morning it is pretty obvious she wouldn’t be too keen on me asking her things like that.”

“Oh, Vinyl….” Lyra leaned back and folded her forelegs across her chest. “I really hope you are doing the right thing.”

“So do I.”


About three hours earlier.

Octavia stepped through the large doors leading into Manehatten’s music hall. The large building was of modern design, unlike the old design back in Canterlot. Here sharp edges and black glass made up most of the building, back in Canterlot it would have been curves and stain glass windows.

She took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. The entire weekend and especially this morning had held plenty of surprises in store for her. She could do without any more and rather focus on music again. One thing she was good at was focusing on immediate tasks and ignoring anything else. So Octavia crammed all the ups and downs she had experienced in the last 48 hours into a dark corner of her mind. She would deal with it back home, for now all that mattered was her music.

The porter had already been informed about her arrival and immediately told here where she had to go. The layout of the building was fairly simple and she soon found herself standing in front of the door leading to the area reserved for the musicians.

Today was the day. Today she would show the musical world that she had not vanished into obscurity. Today she would take another important step towards the Royal Canterlot Orchestra. With vigor she opened the door and nearly hit the pony on the other side.

Maestro Ictus looked at her with shock. Then his features relaxed somewhat and he very briefly gave her a smile.

“Excellent.” He ushered Octavia through the door with a beckoning motion of his hoof. “You are early.”

“Good morning, Sir.” Octavia held out her hoof for him to shake.

“Yes, yes.” He gave her hoof one quick shake and turned around. “Follow me. I will show you around quickly.”

Octavia remembered the warning that Sinfionetta had given her about Maestro Ictus. It would possibly be a tough time ahead for the cellist if the stallion really was that difficult to work with. She ignored him being short with her and followed him down the spacious hallway.

“These are the rooms for our members. Three so called musicians to one room.” He very briefly paused. “I will show you your room later. First you can see our stage and place your cello where it belongs.”

The main difference that Octavia noticed about her surroundings was that everything seemed new and spotless. Unlike homely feeling of the theatre she had worked at before, this place seemed almost like some kind of hospital.

She followed the stallion along the brightly lit hallway for a moment. Then he turned into another corridor, the sign on the ceiling indicating that it led to the stage.

A few paces later and Octavia emerged out on stage from the right. It certainly was an impressive sight. The main hall must have been able to hold a few hundred ponies at the very least. She let her eyes wander across the places the musicians would be sitting at and felt a slight shiver of anticipation run along her back.

Ictus led the way to the center of the stage. With a hoof he pointed to a place in the front row of musicians.

“That will be your place.” He turned towards her. “You can put your cello there and then we can continue the tour.”

Octavia did as instructed and wished she could have a minute alone to take in the importance of the moment. This was it. This would be her seat in front of hundreds of ponies where she could show them her talent and love for music. The urge to hop excitedly up and down became almost unbearable.

“If your predecessor has damaged the chair in any way tell one of the maintenance ponies to bring you a new one.” Ictus said and cast an eye over some of the equipment lying about.

“Did he retire?” Octavia asked in hopes that a bit of small talk wouldn’t hurt.

“It was a she.” Ictus corrected her. “She had the audacity to become pregnant, without giving proper notice in advance.”

“The nerve.” Octavia commented dryly, not sure what the appropriate response would be.

“Indeed.” Ictus nodded in agreement. “When I found out I immediately fired her from our esteemed symphony. She wasn’t too happy, but she should have thought about it a bit better. Although seeing that she is my wife, I guess I am partly to blame.”

“Uh, congratulations?” Octavia briefly wondered what his family life was like and if his wife was some kind of saint or simply insane to stay with him.

“Yes, yes. Thank you.” He gave her an inquisitive look. “You are hopefully not thinking about becoming pregnant anytime soon are you?”

“” Octavia looked a bit confused and tried a friendly smile. “I most certainly will not have any plans like that in the foreseeable future.”

“Very good.” He briefly gave her a quick look once over. “It is difficult to come by musicians with your talent and I would hate to lose you to such a triviality.”

“Erm, yes quite.”

“Finally we can have some talent grace this hall.” Ictus pointed towards the ceiling. “See the shape of the ceiling? It was made that way to carry sounds all the way into the back row. No matter where you sit, you will have the best possible quality. That is if the musicians can actually play anything that the audience would want to hear.”

Octavia cast her eyes over the oddly shaped ceiling. She dared not to say to she had seen such architecture before. An instinctive feeling told her to keep as quiet as possible around Ictus, unless she wanted to have a hard time here.

“I’ll show you your room next. Follow me.” Without waiting for an answer he turned back the way they came. Octavia hurried after him and cast an almost greedy glance back at the place she would be playing at very soon.

He led her back the way they came for a minute and finally stopped in front of a simple door marked with the number three. It was open and he strode inside, Octavia mentally prepared herself to meet others of her ensemble. The room reminded her of a hotel room. A small refrigerator, a table with two seats, a small two seater couch, a vanity unit, a small wardrobe and a free corner with a stand for her cello. A door led to another room and Octavia guessed it was the bathroom.

“Didn’t you say there were three musicians to each room?” Octavia asked as the room was just big enough for one pony.

“Oh, I wouldn’t dare coop you up with them.” Ictus shook his head. “They might possibly infect you with their talentless so called playing of their instruments.”

“Thanks?” Octavia began to have doubts about her fellow musicians. Were they really that bad or was Ictus overly harsh with them. She decided not to make up her mind on that topic until she had heard them play.

“I’ll leave you alone now.” Ictus spun around and walked towards the door. “In half an hour we begin on stage.”

With those words he left her alone. Octavia briefly inspected the bathroom and saw that it even had a shower next to the toilet and washbasin. Everything was spotlessly clean and tidy, perhaps a tad too tidy for her.

There still was half an hour to kill somehow. Her cello had been left on stage and she didn’t want to think about any events from the day before or this morning. So she checked her appearance in the mirror. A few stray hairs were brushed back into position with a hoof and she gave her bowtie a little tug.

With one minute over she began to inspect the rest of the room, opening the wardrobe, refrigerator and drawers. Everything was empty apart from a few coat hangers in the wardrobe. The lone packet of instant pot noodles in the refrigerator had an expiration date that was now only four years in the past. Wisely she dared not touch it and closed the fridge after depositing her sandwiches inside.

Octavia trotted towards the stage after the time was nearly up. She had taken the time to compile a list of the things she would need for here in her mind. She barely held her enthusiasm in check as she nearly jumped towards the stage. Now it was time for music!

The feeling of anticipation grew stronger as she heard musical instruments being tuned. She turned around the corner and nearly bumped into a mare carrying a trombone. Octavia apologized and hurried past the mare, she desperately wanted to be on stage now.

Maestro Ictus was nowhere to be seen, but plenty of other musicians were on stage taking their positions and tuning their instruments. Octavia smiled at them as she walked over to her place with her cello waiting for her. Some ponies smiled back, others just gave her a curious look.

Octavia quickly unpacked her cello and shoved the case partly under her seat. A quick check if everything was in order later and she was ready to go.

Ictus appeared from the left of the stage. A conductor’s stand and a box in his magical grasp. With a thud he let the stand drop on stage, its effect being that all of the musicians instantly stopped what they were doing and looked at the conductor.

“Now then.” He cleared his throat. “Allow me to introduce our new member.” He pointed a hoof at Octavia, who felt all eyes looking at her. “That is Octavia Philharmonica. A classically trained cellist from Canterlot no less. Hopefully some of her talent will seep into you.”

Octavia smiled sheepishly. The praise she received from Ictus had caused a few ponies to talk quietly amongst themselves. Ictus levitated a conductor’s baton from the box next to his stand. With a few rapid taps against the rather worn stand he silenced the mumbled discussions going on.

“Let’s start with something easy from Beethooven. Page thirty, let’s get going.”


“STOP! STOP RIGHT NOW!” Ictus hammered his baton against the stand.

“STACCATO DAMN IT!” he yelled. “When I want staccato you should damn well PLAY IT!”

With a loud snap the baton broke in two. Ictus didn’t even bat an eye and simply threw the broken pieces over his shoulder to the floor and levitated a new baton out of the box. Accusingly he pointed it at the ensemble’s violinists.

“I am giving you very clear instructions up here, so PLEASE try and follow them.”

Octavia was still in a bit of shock at the outburst of Maestro Ictus. She scanned the other musicians quickly. The ones not being accused seemed bored, as if this was a regular occurrence. The group of violinists wore a frown, but otherwise did not react.

“I am terribly sorry, Octavia.” Ictus said and Octavia found herself in the middle of everyponies attention again. “I hope that those caveponies have not offended your ears with their efforts to play music, which sounds a lot like trying to create fire by rubbing two sticks together.”

Octavia wanted attention, but most certainly not this kind. She shrunk back in her seat a bit further. She also didn’t quite understand why Ictus had reacted the way he did. She didn’t even notice anything wrong with what the violinists had played.

Ictus banged his baton on the stand once more, causing Octavia to jump a bit.

“And you!” he pointed to a stallion with an oboe. “I want to hear full notes! You play your instrument like you are trying to please your coltfriend. So please stop SUCKING!”

“I am married.” The stallion replied. Ictus puffed his cheeks out and Octavia had the feeling he could explode any minute.

“DON’T TALK BACK TO ME!” he yelled and threw his baton towards the stallion with the oboe, who managed to dodge it just in the nick of time. “PLAY YOUR DAMNED INSTRUMENT OR I WILL STICK THAT OBOE WHERE CELESTIA’S SUN DOES NOT SHINE!”

Ictus glared at the stallion for a few moments longer. Then he retrieved another baton from the box and lightly tapped it against the stand.

“Ok.” He sighed. “From the top once more.”


Vinyl patiently waited outside of the big building for Octavia to finish her first day of work here. She had been waiting for nearly half an hour already, but she didn’t mind.

Her own work had managed to raise her spirits somewhat and she had decided to see how Octavia would behave around her. Perhaps everything would be as always and the little misunderstanding of that morning would be quietly forgotten.

She perked her ears up as she heard the doors open. A flood of very grumpy looking ponies left the building and Vinyl stepped to the side to let them pass. Once the small herd had left Octavia emerged from the building with the large cello case on her back. She seemed a bit confused as she trotted over to Vinyl.

“Hey, Tavi.” Vinyl greeted her friend, but noticed that the cellist did not look her in the eye. “How’d it go?”

“I’ll tell you at home.” Her reply was short and she didn’t stop on her way past the unicorn.

Vinyl winced as she followed the earthpony back home. It seemed as if not everything had gone well.

The trip was made in silence and once back home Octavia announced she would take a bath first. Vinyl said she would have dinner ready when she got out of the tub. During the preparations for dinner Vinyl was trying to wrap her head around her friend’s behavior.

Had she done something during her job that had soured her mood or was it still because of waking up while strangling Vinyl. The DJ didn’t know, but would hopefully find out during the evening.

As they sat down later for dinner Octavia began to tell Vinyl about her day at work. Vinyl just listened with her jaw open in astonishment.

“He broke fourteen batons, I counted, and once bit into his stand.” Octavia finished her report.

“Wow.” Vinyl snorted once. “He sounds.... interesting....”

“What’s really uncomfortable is the way he keeps praising me.” Octavia sighed. “You should see the looks the others gave me at the end of the day. I am sort of glad that I have a room for myself now.”

“Yeah, looks can hurt.” Vinyl commented, very well remembering the look she had received from Octavia this morning. Which still was more than she was giving her this evening. Octavia’s eyes were glued to her meal and didn’t look up once. “Still, it’s just a step towards Canterlot, right?”

“Yes, you’re right.” Octavia laid her head back and closed her eyes. “It’s just another stage for me to go through.”

Vinyl felt the burning desire to talk about the mornings events, but Octavia didn’t give her a chance.

“I best practice a bit and replace the strings. Don’t want to be in the focus of his anger.” Octavia said and trotted into the music room.

With nothing else to do Vinyl cleared up the table and washed the dishes. Music wafted through their home as Octavia played a few melodies on her cello.

This can’t go on like this. I have to try and say something.

Vinyl trotted into the music room when she didn’t hear any more music being played. She saw that Octavia was in the process of replacing the strings on her instrument. The DJ knew that her friend would fully concentrate on her task and not hear or see anything else during that time. It had served her well in the past for setting up pranks while Octavia was in her own world.

Vinyl thought it best not to try any kind of pranking right now and trotted over to her deck. She put her headphones on and began playing a track at random. Very little effort was put in trying to actually work on her music, she just was biding her time for a good time to talk to the other mare.

Her thoughts had wondered all over the place for a few minutes. She was so absorbed in them that she hadn’t even notice that her own music had stopped and that Octavia had restrung her instrument and was playing again.

The tension in the room had become uncomfortable for both mares. There was a huge elephant in the room that needed addressing and both knew it. Octavia abruptly stopped her playing and looked over to Vinyl, who very briefly locked eyes with her but then looked down at her deck again.

“Vinyl?” Octavia said loudly, thinking that the DJ had music blearing full blast.

She waited for the DJ to take off her headphones. It almost seemed that Vinyl was scared of what Octavia might say as she very slowly looked at the cellist.

“I’m sorry about this morning Vinyl.” Octavia said and gave her a small smile.

“No, no.” Vinyl held a hoof to her chest. “It was my fault. I should have stayed awake or try and wake you up somehow.”

“It’s ok, Vinyl. I’m not angry with you.” Octavia halted the unicorn’s ramblings. “I was just shocked. You see… I never have been in that kind of position. Waking up with another pony sort of surprised me a bit more than I had thought.”

“Yeah, seeing my bedhair in the morning would most likely surprise anypony.” Vinyl tried a small joke.

“I should have reacted differently.” Octavia admitted. “I hurt you by not saying anything.” Octavia blushed. “And erm…sorry about the strangling. I know that you didn’t have any bad intentions.”

“No harm done, right?” Vinyl gave Octavia a small grin.

“Friends again?” Octavia asked and trotted up to her friend behind the deck. She held out her hoof for a hoofbump.

“Always, Tavi.” Vinyl bumped the offered hoof.

Always only friends….

Chapter 20

View Online

A few weeks passed.

Octavia had decided to accept the eccentricities of Maestro Ictus. His praise had effectively alienated her from the rest of the musicians and she realized there would not be any friends to be found there. The best course was to stick with the music and wait for her chance to climb the ladder of fame a rung or two higher.

Vinyl was content with her job. She played her shows during the juice shift and was happy. Her relationship with Octavia had normalized again, neither mare ever mentioning the morning they had woken up next to each other. That didn’t stop her from thinking about it though. She was sure that it popped up in Octavia’s mind every once in a while, but never had the courage to actually say anything.

Life went on without any startling revelations or any kind of accidents, at least not for the last couple of weeks.


Bon Bon casually trotted towards Lyra’s little newspaper stand. It was her lunch break and she had decided that yesterdays double helping of vanilla ice with chocolate sprinkles had to go by walking it off.

She spotted Lyra leaning on the counter of the stand and reading an article. There were no customers to be seen and that meant they could have a moment of peace for themselves.

“Hi, there!” Bon Bon greeted the other mare and kissed her cheek.

“I wasn’t reading the latest playcolt without you!” Lyra immediately said and whipped the magazine in front of her away.

“Mh…you can’t lie to me, you know that right?” Bon Bon smirked.

“Sorry.” Lyra retrieved the magazine from the floor and carefully made sure that no damages were visible. “It arrived earlier and I couldn’t resist a sneak peek.”

“Anything interesting?” Bon Bon glanced over some of the other magazines on display.

“Meh, an article about fake cutie marks. Rather pointless if you ask me.”

“Any provocatively posing attractive mares?”

“Again meh. I much prefer seeing you pose provocatively.” Lyra grinned while Bon Bon rolled her eyes.

“You wouldn’t happen to have the latest Pony’s Digest would you?” Bon Bon asked after seeing that she already read the last edition on display.

“Uh, yeah.” Lyra turned to a large brown cardboard box beside her. “It must have also been in the delivery earlier. It’s only for sale tomorrow.”

“Oh, never mind then.”

“Nah, it’s ok.” Lyra began levitated bundled up magazines out of the box. “I’ll just put two bits in the register tomorrow and nopony will suspect anything.”

“Thanks, Sweety.” Bon Bon would have kissed her mate, but she was just out of reach. It would have to wait for later.

“So you just came by for the magazine or did you miss me?” Lyra briefly turned to the waiting mare and battered her eyelashes.

“Of course I missed you. Haven’t seen you for at least four hours.” Bon Bon replied with a lopsided grin. “But I also wanted to move about a bit. Lose some of those calories from yesterday.”

“Heh, I might have an idea how you can move about a bit to lose some calories and it would also fix your cravings for me.” Lyra grinned and levitated another bundle of magazines out from the box.

Normally Bon Bon was against talk of that kind in public, but seeing that there was nopony around at the moment she decided to play along.

“Really…what did you have in mind, Miss Heartstrings?” she cooed. Lyra suddenly froze while rummaging through the box.

“Buck me….”


“No, no…look at this.” Lyra levitated a magazine out of the box and held it up for Bon Bon to see. The sweet maker’s eyes went wide as she looked at the cover.

“Buck me indeed….”


Vinyl was lounging about on their couch reading an article about something called radiowaves. It was fairly interesting and she briefly wondered if there was any kind of practical use for it sometime in the future. Octavia was sitting at their dining table writing a letter to her parents, when they heard frantic knocking on their front door.

“Are we expecting anypony?” Vinyl asked after they had shared a surprised look.

“Not to my knowledge.” Octavia shrugged.

Vinyl got up from the couch and trotted over to the door and took a look through the peephole.

“It’s Lyra and Bon Bon.” Vinyl said and opened the door. The announced mare’s rushed through the door pulling Vinyl along towards the sitting area.

As the door fell closed Octavia noticed that they were both grinning like mad mares. She also noticed that Bon Bon had a large parcel on her back the size of a large picture frame maybe. Lyra’s saddlebags also seemed to be rather heavy judging by the way it lay on her back.

“What’s put you two in such a good mood?” Octavia asked and got up from the table. Vinyl stepped away from the two grinning mares and rubbed her neck with a hoof. Lyra had pulled her along with surprising strength.

“Oh, we have something for you that you’ll like.” Lyra said and took off her saddlebags while Bon Bon carefully put down the large parcel.

“Something to eat?” Vinyl asked hopefully. It was soon approaching dinner time and today was Octavia’s turn to cook. Overcooked noodles or really well done noodles as Octavia would call them were not on her top list of favorites.

“Much better!” Lyra opened her saddlebags and levitated a magazine out. She held it in front of the now stunned mares.

“Is that real?” Octavia asked with an eyebrow raised.

“It’s the real deal. Goes on sale tomorrow.” Lyra explained and chuckled at the slack jawed expression of her friends. “I thought you might be interested.”

Hovering in front of the two musicians was the newest edition of Rolling Pones magazine. The cover had two pictures that had been split diagonally with a large banner that read: “Manehatten’s new rising stars!”

The top picture showed an all too familiar white unicorn wearing purple sunglasses sitting behind a deck in a club playing music. A large face splitting grin showed that the pony loved what she was doing. One hoof held up high, the other carefully adjusting the dials on her deck.

The other picture was less manic, but was the prime example for the refined side of music. A grey earthpony standing on her hindlegs with a cello at her side in one hoof, a bow in the other hoof. Her facial expression was cool and told the viewer that she was in total control of the instrument. The tiniest of smiles possible was barely visible on her lips.

“What…how…huh?” Vinyl just gawked at the cover.

“Seems like you two are making the right kind of waves.” Bon Bon giggled as the two musicians briefly turned their attention to her with their mouths open and then back again to the magazine.

“There is an entire article for each one of you inside.” Lyra said and flinched back as the two mares burst into action.

Octavia had been a fraction of a second faster than Vinyl and snatched the floating magazine away with a hoof. A split second Vinyl had latched on to the magazine with her magic and tried pulling it from the earthpony’s grasp. Octavia almost growled as she held on with both front hooves.

“Wait, wait.” Lyra broke up the building fight. “I have plenty more.”

The mint green unicorn levitated a small stack of the magazines from her saddlebag and plopped it on the dinner table. One of them she then levitated over to Vinyl.

“I figured you might want to send a few ponies a copy of it.” Lyra was still grinning at the wide eyed expression of her friends. They reminded her of foals in a sweet shop during Hearth’s Warming Eve.

“And we made you something.” Bon Bon pointed a hoof at the parcel next to her.

Seeing that Octavia was still unwilling to part with her copy, Vinyl took it upon herself to carefully unwrap the parcel. The cellist watched her every move, impatiently shifting her sitting position about.

“Wow… I…wow…” Vinyl was speechless, something that Octavia was now also afflicted with.

Bon Bon and Lyra had carefully taken the cover and the articles and had them framed. With a lot of revere Vinyl very very carefully levitated it towards the wall with the most space. A painted picture of a waterfall hung there. Lyra unceremoniously removed the picture and deposited it behind the couch. Vinyl hung the framed articles on the now empty hook and took a step back to properly view it. Octavia had scooted over while still clutching her copy in her hooves.

“Eeeeeeek!” Octavia’s sudden joyous outburst shook Vinyl out of her trance. Before she could react the earthpony had slung her forelegs around her friend’s neck and began jumping excitedly on the stop. Vinyl had very little option other than to hop along with her.

“We’re famous!” Octavia didn’t know where to look first or what to read first. So many pictures, so many written words. “We did it, Vinyl!”

“Told you we would!” Vinyl was released from the cellist’s grip as she stepped a bit closer to the picture frame on the wall.

“This is…it is….totally Groovetacular!” Octavia exclaimed as she grinned at her own picture.

“Groovetacular?” Vinyl smirked. “That’s one of my words.”

“Hmm, you must be rubbing off on me.”

Only when I am alone and in the shower.

The thought had come out of nowhere and Vinyl was glad that Octavia was still too preoccupied with her picture to notice the unicorn’s face turn a deep shade of red.

Lyra however seemed to be able to read Vinyl’s mind and laughed once, but quickly hid it behind a cough. Vinyl in response ducked a bit lower and gave the other unicorn an angry look.

“Are you ok?” Octavia asked and looked over to the mint green mare.

“Yeah.” Lyra coughed once more for effect. “Just something in my throat.”

“Need help?” she asked again.

“Nah, Bon Bon is here.”

The sweet maker patted the other mare’s back, hard.

“Ow!” Lyra complained, but a look in Bon Bon’s face told her to drop whatever had been on her mind concerning Vinyl’s thoughts.

“You could have told us that you had an interview, Octavia.” The beige mare tried to keep the cellist’s attention so that she wouldn’t see Vinyl’s colorful display that was very slowly beginning to fade.

“Interview?” Octavia scrunched up her face trying to remember when she had given an interview. “I don’t remember doing that.”

“Well you must have, as those pictures were taken during the interview.” Bon Bon pointed at the pictures.

“Those were taken about two weeks ago.” Octavia said after thinking for a moment. “I thought it was somebody from the staff just making those pictures for the orchestra. I didn’t know that it was for a magazine.”

Vinyl thought back to anything that might have given her a clue when the pictures of her were made. Any flashlight wouldn’t have been noticed by her amongst the flashing lights during her performance. She most certainly didn’t remember answering any questions.

“Nopony asked me anything.” She said when she was sure about it.

“Your article was written by a pony named Trenderhoof.” Bon Bon informed her. “He seems to be some kind of big shot when it comes to new and exotic things. You should read what he wrote about you.”

Vinyl did just that and opened one of the magazines that Lyra had brought. Octavia did the same and sunk her nose into the magazine she was still holding.

She began reading the entire article, but it soon became apparent that Trenderhoof loved himself very much and continuously broke the narrative flow with his personal exploits. Once filtered of his trivial ramblings the article delivered very high praise for Vinyl skill as a DJ. Expertly timed transitions, energetic tracks of her own composition and a high degree of interactivity with the audience. Trenderhoof had given her his seal of approval and urged other ponies to see her performance and dance until their legs hurt.

Vinyl felt immense pride as she finished reading. It was a feeling of immense relief and joy that what she was doing was the stuff ponies wanted. She even had it in writing now. Her smug grin was well earned at that moment.

Quickly she turned a few pages to read what had been written about Octavia. It was an interview and the answers were not all that interesting. Where she was from, where she wants her career to lead, how she had been given the spot in the orchestra. They were all rather trivial questions and answers. At least to Vinyl who had known the answers already. The last summarized few sentences did however praise Octavia’s skill and the fact that against all odds she had mastered an instrument not really suited for earthponies.

The cellist grunted when she finished her article.

“If I had known that it was meant for a magazine I would have given more interesting answers.” She stated, but still smiled wide. “We should go out and celebrate.”

Vinyl was most certainly for doing so, but Lyra and Bon Bon shook their heads.

“We’ll have to postpone that I’m afraid.” Bon Bon said with drooping ears.

“Yeah, we have to be somewhere important this evening.” Lyra added. “But how about next week in style? Think you could get us in your club next Friday evening?”

“Sure thing.” Vinyl answered. “Something important going on we should be aware of?”

Both mares hesitated for a moment and looked at each other. Lyra shrugged and told Bon Bon it was her decision.

“I think we should wait a bit still until we have something in our hooves.” Bon Bon said after a moment. “We have something planned, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise.”

“Ok, then I’ll organize us a table next Friday.” Vinyl declared.

After numerous thanks by Octavia and Vinyl for bringing them the gifts the two mares left for their destination. Octavia proudly declared she would prepare a special dinner for this monumental occasion. Ever since Vinyl’s father had accused the cellist of using Vinyl as a kind of live in maid and cook, Octavia had taken it upon herself to contribute more in that field.

Vinyl didn’t object, but still tried to do most of the cooking. This evening the earthpony would not be persuaded to let her do it however. So she resigned herself to re-read the articles a few more times and look at the pictures. Octavia’s pictures she looked at a few times more often than her own. Every once in a while she would have to shoo Octavia away from the picture frame on the wall and remind her she had something cooking in the kitchen.

That evening’s meal would later be described by Vinyl as very well done and extra crispy. Not something she had expected from soup.


The weekend had gone by rather fast and Octavia had been escorted to work by Vinyl. A few hours later the DJ was back on stage at the club making ponies dance. Thanks to the article she had a lot more ponies than usual and she loved it.

She held an eye open for any ponies with cameras, just in case other magazines wanted to write something about her. Amongst the bright flashing lights it was impossible to see the flash light of any camera. But she put on her best show anyway.

As a new DJ took her place a while later, Vinyl went through the possible options for dinner in her mind. She was so absorbed in her thoughts that she didn’t notice a shadow being cast over her.

“The boss wants to see you.” A high pitched voice behind and above her said.

Vinyl jumped a bit and very slowly turned around to the source of the comical voice. His name was Squeak, possibly named so for his voice. Vinyl was sure if it was a nickname or his real name and quite frankly didn’t dare ask. Squeak was a mouse brown earthpony stallion…or possibly two in one, with a white mane so short he could have also been bald. Nearly twice the height of a regular pony and also twice as wide, maybe even more and the only word to describe him was massive. He didn’t have bulging muscles from training and working out, yet seemed to have more strength than anypony dared to find out.

He was the club owner’s right hoof pony. Vinyl assumed he also acted as a bodyguard and did other henchpony activities. Something she didn’t want to know about.

She only had very briefly talked to the owner and his sidekick once before. At the time he had said to not get in trouble and everypony would be happy. Vinyl very quickly agreed that it was best for all ponies involved. Now being summoned made Vinyl feel uneasy, she wasn’t aware of anything she had done wrong.

The massive stallion followed Vinyl as she made her way to the boss’ office. She felt the ground slightly shake with every step that her escort took, but maybe it was just her imagination. Politely she knocked once and entered the room.

Big Time sat behind his desk and didn’t even glance up from a few papers in front of him as Vinyl entered. The earth brown unicorn seemed engrossed with whatever he was reading. He also seemed slightly lost behind the large desk and huge chair. In stark contrast to Squeak he was a head shorter than Vinyl and rather thin. His mane had been styled to look like the mane style of the late great Elvis Trottley. The deep blue pinstripe suit he wore with a white vest and red tie reminded Vinyl of the gangsterponies in some of Octavia’s movies.

Vinyl began sweating when she was directed to sit in the only chair in front of the desk. Squeak took position in front of the door and cut off Vinyl’s chance of getting out.

“Hello, mister Big Time, sir.” Vinyl felt it was demanded of her to be as polite as possible.

Big Time grunted once and continued to read the papers in front of him. After a moment he took out an abacus and did a few calculations. He briefly looked up at Vinyl and returned to his calculations.

“Take the glasses off.” He requested. The tone of the surprisingly deep bass voice left no room for Vinyl to refuse his request.

Vinyl took them off and held them in her now trembling hooves. All she wanted to do was curl up on the floor and hope she wouldn’t be found at the bottom of the river wearing cement horseshoes.

After agonizing three minutes Big Time finally stopped his calculations and leaned back in his chair to look Vinyl in the eyes. She tried her best friendly smile, but panic was very clearly seen in her eyes.

“You are bad for business.” He stated and watched Vinyl’s eyes go wide.

“I uh..sorry?” Vinyl’s heart was hammering in her chest. Somewhere deep down a part of Vinyl rose up like a phoenix. She had seen the club packed full today, she couldn’t possibly be bad for business. “The club…the club was full during my set, Sir.”

“Yes, that is true.” Big Time agreed and pursed his lips. “And that’s the problem.”

“I uh… huh?”

“We don’t charge admission.” Big Time explained slowly. “We make our money by selling ponies drinks.”

“I made them dance, sir. You made more bits in the last hour and a half than you usually would.” Vinyl’s backbone had decided to turn into diamond all of a sudden, as she drew herself up to full height.

“Interested in how much bits I am making?” Big Time leaned forward. “It’s not good being too nosy.”

Vinyl’s backbone turned back into pudding and she tried to make herself as small as possible.

“But you are right.” Big Time gestured to the papers before him with a hoof. “I have sold a lot of drinks during your performance. A lot of juice to be more precise.”

He leaned back again and Vinyl relaxed by the teeniest tiniest amount.

“Juice doesn’t bring in money.” He continued. “We make the best profit with the sale of alcoholic drinks, which we are only allowed to sell in the evening.”

He shuffled the papers on his desk around until he found something buried beneath them. With his magic he levitated a magazine in the air and turned it around that Vinyl could see the cover. It was very familiar to her as she had spent most of the weekend staring at it with Octavia.

“More ponies are coming to your show during the juice shift than to the later shows.” He nodded to the magazine. “Now that you have made the cover, you will no doubt be attracting even more customers. Do you have a good idea how we can get more bits out of them?”

“Put me in a later show?” Vinyl asked with hesitation.

“That’s what I have been thinking as well.” Big Time stroked his chin for a moment. “But you are still reasonably new to this business. Do you think you can manage a two and a half to three hour show?”

“O..of course, sir!” Vinyl scarcely believed what was happening.

“Very well.” Big Time dropped the magazine back on the table and shuffled his papers. “Next Friday you have the nine o’clock shift. That’s our prime timeslot. Do not disappoint me.”

With a wave of his hoof he dismissed her.

“I won’t, sir.” Vinyl had trouble bringing her voice to work. Had she just been promoted to the main attraction? She got up and slightly tripped over her hooves as she walked towards the door. Squeak opened it for her and let her pass. As the door closed behind her, Vinyl’s lips curved into a grin that would have made Pinkie Pie jealous. She bolted towards the exit as fast as she dared and could not wait to tell Octavia the news.


„Alright, alright.“ Ictus tapped his hoof against his stand to silence the musicians talking. “Quiet down, I have some things to address.”

Octavia was glad that they would start playing music again after their lunch break that she had eaten alone in her room. Ictus’ favoritism towards her had pretty much isolated her from the other musicians. None of them dared to say anything to her out of fear that they would possibly incur his wrath. She endured her loneliness by visualizing her goal in front of her. This was her best chance at being noticed by the orchestra in Canterlot. Vinyl also kept assuring her that it was just an uncomfortable phase and that it didn’t matter if she made friends with the other musicians or not.

“I have some good news and some bad news.” Ictus levitated a magazine out of the box at his side. Octavia shrunk a bit as she recognized it.

“First of all congratulations are in order for Miss Philharmonica.” He held the magazine aloft for all to see. “I wager that it is because of her talent that we have been noticed, because it certainly wasn’t because of any of you lot.”

Octavia felt the looks of the other musician’s burn holes in her coat. She swallowed hard and was about to protest the praise being given to her. Ictus never gave her the chance.

“Now for some more good news.” Ictus dropped the magazine back into the box. “As you all know Princess Celestia attends a special performance three weeks before the summer sun celebration every year. What you might not know is that the orchestra playing is not the Royal Canterlot Orchestra.”

Ictus began pacing in front of the musicians. Unlike the usual bored or sometimes annoyed looks they usually wore, there shined a light of excitement in their eyes instead.

“Each year a different orchestra form around Equestria is chosen to perform.” Ictus gave them a scrutinizing look. “It is the chance for the playing orchestra to shine and bring fame and glory to its name. I also should mention that the Royal Canterlot Orchestra’s director is in attendance during the play and that he usually picks the most promising members into his own ensemble.”

Ictus very briefly nodded to Octavia. The cellist’s ears had been perked up during the entire speech, greedily absorbing this new very good piece of information. Same could be said for all the other musicians, as their looks of excitement and turned into one of hope for leaving this ensemble and its insufferable director.

“I have been told that the choice has been narrowed down to our little ensemble and the one from Baltimare.” Ictus snorted with contempt. “How in Equestria they had even thought to consider Baltimare is a mystery, but we should still not take this lightly. That means extra hours for perfecting our performance.”

Ictus stepped behind his stand and began shuffling through the sheets of music in front of him.

“Was that the bad news?” A stallion with a tuba asked after a few minutes of silence.

“What?” Ictus looked up from selecting a piece to practice. “Oh, I forgot.”

He stepped away from his stand and pointed a hoof to a vacant seat in the second row.

“We will be needing a new lyrist.” Octavia was all ears for that piece of news as she immediately thought of Lyra. “So if any of you know of a decent lyrist, please inform them to bring their instrument for auditions beginning on Wednesday.”

“What happed to our old lyrist?” A mare asked confused. “Did he quit?”

“He’s dead.” Ictus replied nonchalantly and returned to his post behind the stand. “Was hit by a runaway carriage yesterday.” Ictus paused for a moment. “Please look both ways when crossing the street. I would hate to have to look for more replacements.”

The entire ensemble sat stunned in their seats while Ictus casually flipped through the pages in front of him. After a moment the silence was broken as a mare began sobbing loudly. A few other ponies also had tears rolling down their cheeks and almost all of them had been affected by the sudden news. Octavia folded her ears down and wished she would have at least known the stallions name. She felt bad for not feeling worse, as paradox as that may have seemed.

Ictus looked up from the music sheets and frowned at the sobbing mare, who was being consoled by the ponies closest to her.

“Oh, come on! It’s not like you were having an affair with him now is it?”

“I…was…” she briefly stammered, before sobbing even louder.

“Ugh…fine.” Ictus sighed. “We’ll take a thirty minute break.”

Maestro Ictus ignored the disgusted looks his musicians were giving him and took his music sheets with him as he moved off stage, no doubt towards his room. Octavia got up from her seat and followed him, finally catching up to him in the hallway leading away from the stage.

“Excuse me?” She said and caught his attention.

“Octavia, what is it?” His normally gruff tone was a bit less harsh when talking to her.

“About the lyrist….” She began, but was immediately cut off by him.

“Yes, yes. A tragedy and all that.” He waved the fact that one of his musicians had died away with a hoof. “There will be the obligatory donation tin set up somewhere and I suppose I’ll have to give any who wish to attend the funeral the time off.”

Octavia felt uncomfortable the way he so casually dismissed the fact that another pony had passed away. As much as she would have loved to give him a piece of her mind, self preservation eventually won out and she decided to ignore his behavior for now.

“No, it’s actually about the replacement.” Perhaps this was a chance for Lyra to get back in the business.

“Ah, yes. I had anticipated that you might know a lyrist.” Ictus sighed. “Unfortunately there are rules for the orchestra wishing to play for the Princess. One of them states that the orchestra must be staffed by musicians from the town they originate from. So even if you know a willing lyrist from Canterlot, he or she would be barred from playing with us. They need to have residence in this city for at least a few months. Too little time to import a talented lyrist from outside the city I am afraid.”

“But I…”

“As much as I would like to bend the rules for you Octavia, my hooves are bound.” He shrugged. “Now if you will excuse me, I have to set up the time for auditions and find us some music to play that will prepare us for what is to come. I’ll see you back on stage in a few minutes.”

Octavia watched Ictus continue on his way. She decided that there wasn’t any point right now in trying to inform him that she did indeed know a lyrist from Manehatten. She would have to tell Lyra later and maybe put in a good word for her another day.


The day finally came to an end. None of the musicians had any focus left for music that day, the news that one of them had died had shaken them up too much. Despite Ictus ranting and raving most of the time, he finally relented and let them go home early.

Octavia was as always one of the last ponies to leave the building. Despite finishing half an hour early, Vinyl was already waiting for her outside.

“Hey, Tavi.” Vinyl looked around for a moment to make sure nopony was within earshot. “What happened? I just saw a lot of ponies come out looking really sad.”

“There was an accident on the weekend. Our lyrist was involved and he didn’t make it.” Octavia informed her friend.

“Oh crap. That’s really not good.” Vinyl let her head hang for the unknown departed musician.

“No, it isn’t.” Octavia and Vinyl held a brief moment of silence. “There may be a silver lining of sorts.”

“What do you mean?” It took Vinyl only a couple of seconds to understand what the cellist meant. “Lyra? Do you think she would be interested?”

“Only one way to find out.” Octavia set off towards her friend’s home.

“It’s this way, Tavi.” Vinyl told her and Octavia wisely chose to let the DJ lead the way.

Roughly half a hour later they stood in front of the apartment where Lyra and Bon Bon lived. Seeing that the doorbell was out of order, Vinyl knocked a few times. It took a good five minutes and some more knocking before the door opened. The sight of a slightly flushed Lyra with her mane in disarray told Vinyl that they had disturbed their friends during some special activity.

“Oh, hey…it’s you two.” Lyra beamed at her friends.

“Sorry, didn’t want to disturb you doing whatever it was you were doing.” Vinyl gave her a apologetic grin.

“Nah, we were just….relaxing a bit.” Lyra opened the door further and stepped aside. “Come in, come in.”

“Who is it?” Bon Bon asked loudly from somewhere in the apartment.

“Octavia and Vinyl!”

“I’ll be out in a minute.” Bon Bon quickly replied and dashed unseen into the bathroom to freshen up a bit and remove any mint green hairs from her beige coat.

Lyra had no such qualms and led her friends into the small apartment. Vinyl had only been here once before and at the time had been surprised by the rather bare apartment. A small double seat couch and a small card table with two chairs were the only furniture in the living room. What the living room lacked in furnishings the kitchen more than made up for it.

Every available surface and space on the floor had been used for Bon Bon’s craft. Greedily Vinyl eyed the counter for anything yummy to snack on, but found them void of anything edible. Lyra let her guests choose where they wanted to sit. Vinyl followed Octavia’s lead and sat on one of the chairs at the card table.

Lyra sat down on the couch and tried to brush her mane with a hoof into a more presentable form. She gave up her futile efforts when Bon Bon joined the trio and sat beside Lyra on the couch.

“So..” Bon Bon said with a bright smile. “What brings you two here?”


Octavia had finished her report of the events at her workplace and took a sip of the iced tea that Bon Bon had served them.

“Wow, that Ictus pony sound like a real jerk.” Lyra said after a moment. “I actually read about that accident in the newspaper this morning. The harness of the driver broke and the carriage slammed into a group of ponies crossing the road. A few got injured and two died, sort of creepy knowing that it was a pony you knew.”

“I didn’t really know him.” Octavia admitted. “I barely remember what he looked like.”

Bon Bon sighed. She had grown up here and sadly was accustomed to accidents happening all the time in this city. Thus far she had been lucky to not be involved in any of them or knowing any pony involved.

“I guess you are now going to ask me to audition, right?” Lyra asked.

Octavia simply nodded and waited for the unicorn to answer. Lyra put a hoof to her chin and thought for a moment.

“I don’t think that is a good idea.” Bon Bon stated while Lyra came up with a decision.

“Why not?” Lyra turned to her mate beside her.

“That conductor…director…whatever… does not sound like a pony you will get along well with.”

“Well, it’s not about me getting along with him and becoming best friends.” Lyra shrugged. “It pays well, doesn’t it?”

Octavia nodded again and told her what she earned in a month.

“Although there usually is extra pay for special performances. That is if we are chosen of course.” She added.

“That could shave off a few months, maybe even a year or more.” Lyra mused.

“It isn’t worth it, Lyra.” Bon Bon gave the unicorn an almost pleading look.

“Sure it is!” Lyra grinned. “We could have all the bits we need much faster than we had planned.”

“Bits?” Octavia shared a look of confusion with Vinyl, who also had no idea where the discussion had shifted to.

“I uh… forget what I said.” Lyra quickly waved a hoof, but paused and looked at the earthpony beside her. “Unless you want to tell them.”

“Yes, I guess we should tell them.” Bon Bon said after a moment of thought.

“Tell us what?” Vinyl’s nosy streak made itself heard.

“As you know I would like to set up my own shop making and selling sweets.” Bon Bon began and smiled. “Here in Manehatten it is almost impossible without huge amounts of bits for all the permits. And of course there is a lot of competition all over the city.”

Vinyl and Octavia nodded, as they had heard Bon Bon talk about it a few times before.

“This weekend we went to a small town near Canterlot called Ponyville.” Bon Bon continued. “It’s a quaint little town near the Everfree Forest, but don’t let that put you off. We talked to the mayor and she said that they rarely have anything happen in their town.”

Bon Bon turned a bit to Lyra who just smiled.

“Nice and quiet would do both wonders for us.” Despite being a mare born in a large city, Bon Bon very much preferred a nice life out in the open without huge buildings looming over her all the time. “The mayor showed us a nice place that is vacant at the moment. A huge plus is the fact that there isn’t any real competition in that town. There is a bakery that provides ponies with cakes and such, but no real sweet shop. Or so we were told as we couldn’t visit the bakery that day, because of a party going on in there at the time.”

“Bon Bon could make a ton of bits there.” Lyra commented with a grin.

“Bits are nice, but I’d rather be someplace that isn’t so hectic and aggravating at times.” Bon Bon briefly nuzzled Lyra’s cheek. “No more anger management classes for you.”

“What’s keeping you?” Vinyl asked.

“Well, we need to buy the house, the equipment, all of the ingredients and new furniture.” Bon Bon explained. “We went through the calculations yesterday and we would be able to afford everything in about a year, give or take a month or two, with our current income.”

“Why didn’t you ask me?” Octavia looked from one mare to the other. “I would have gladly helped you out.”

“Thank you, but no thanks.” Bon Bon lightly bowed her head to the cellist. “We want to earn it by ourselves.”

Octavia nodded back. It made sense to her and she could respect that decision.

“With the bits from the orchestra we could afford it a lot sooner.” Lyra sat up straight and looked at the mare beside her. “We could maybe even go there this year already!”

“It would be nice.” Bon Bon admitted. “But I don’t want you to do something you don’t like. I don’t think that that Ictus fellow will give you a very nice time.”

“Ah, come on. “ Lyra gave her the best smile of confidence she could muster. “It’s worth a little unpleasantness if it means we can realize our plans sooner.”

“Providing of course you get the part.”

“Please, Bon Bon.” Lyra tapped a hoof against her chest. “I’m the best lyrist they will ever see.”

No mare said anything as Bon Bon thought about everything for a moment. Finally she let out a sigh and nodded in agreement. Lyra made a hoofpump accompanied by a loud “Yeah!”.

“But!” Bon Bon interrupted her mate’s celebration. “You have to promise me, that if you have too much of a hard time, that you will quit.”

“Sure thing.” Lyra grinned and turned to the mares sitting at the table. “I think we still have a celebration planned, how about now?”

“Hold on.” Vinyl held up a hoof to stem any sudden celebratory plans before they began. She grinned wide, easily rivaling Lyra’s grin. “I have just the place planned.”

“You got us the table?” Lyra asked hopefully.

“Yeah, of course I do.” Vinyl had taken care of that as soon as she had gone to work. “Buuuut, I also have the honor of being your DJ for Friday evening. Prime time for 3 hours!”

“Vinyl, that’s fantastic!” Octvaia hugged her over the table.

“Wow! So you are the number one big shot DJ now? That’s awesome!” Lyra gave Vinyl a hoofbump.

“You betcha!” Vinyl grinned so much her cheeks were beginning to hurt. “Next Friday we will have the time of our life!”

Chapter 21

View Online

The four friends had decided to meet at Octavia and Vinyl’s place Friday evening.

As soon as Lyra entered the apartment she found herself being the target of Octavia’s interest.

“So?” she asked excitedly. “How did the audition go on Wednesday?”

“I don’t know.” Lyra answered and shrugged. “I played what he requested from me. Four pieces in total and then he said he would be in touch. Haven’t heard from him since then.”

“Want me to put in a good word for you?” Octavia had been hoping to have even more to celebrate this evening. With Lyra there she wouldn’t feel so lonely anymore.

“Nah, best let him reach a decision by himself.” Lyra gave Bon Bon a look that Octavia couldn’t identify. “Besides, there wasn’t much competition from what I saw and heard.”

“So, ponies.” Vinyl said as she joined her friends in the living room. “Ready to see the show of your lifetime?”

“I’ve seen Bon Bon sing and dance in the shower. You can’t beat that.”

Bon Bon lightly poked the mint green unicorn in the side, but grinned while doing so. All of them were in high spirits and had been looking forward to this evening for some time.

“I’ll try my best.” Vinyl donned her sunglasses. “But I doubt I will be able to find a shower on stage.”

Together they left the building, laughing and telling jokes all the way to the club. Unlike during the juice shift that Vinyl had worked before, the line in front of the club was huge. Eager ponies to see the latest rising star in Manehatten had flocked here from all over town and possibly even from out of town. Vinyl recognized a couple of ponies waiting in line, most notably the pegasi twins. She doubted they would manage to get in, as this time was only for adult ponies. The DJ put on her best smile as she trotted past the line towards the bouncer.

“Hey!” She exchanged a hoofbump with the stallion.

“Hello, Vinyl.” He looked past her at the three ponies behind her. “Party of three?”

“You bet! Is the table ready?”

“Of course.” He stepped aside and held the door open for the mares. “Back row, middle table with direct view of the stage and dance floor, just like you asked.”

Vinyl led the way into the club, while the thumping bass of the current DJ assaulted her ears. Her grin grew larger the higher the decibels got. She found the table ready for them with complimentary drinks waiting to be served. They sat down and Vinyl pawed the crystal in the middle of the table.

“So… like the view?” She asked as the soundproofing spell took effect and allowed them to have a normal conversation.

“Awesome!” Lyra felt the vibration in her seat caused by the jumping and dancing ponies on the dance floor below.

“Drinks go on my tab, so feel free to get whatever you want.” Vinyl eyed the selection of drinks already there. Vinyl had made clear that she didn’t drink anything alcoholic so whoever had prepared the drinks on the table had kept that in mind. “If you want something else, you’ll have to get it from the bar.”

“We’ll wait a bit I think.” Bon Bon settled down on her seat and opened a bottle of water.

“I’ll keep an eye out for you.” Vinyl grinned and felt the anticipation building inside her further. “You’ll have to excuse me, but I have to get my deck ready backstage.”

“You will hear us cheering.” Octavia gave Vinyl a hoofbump and watched the DJ saunter off through the crowd towards the backstage area.

Getting through wasn’t as easy had she had planned. Vinyl squeezed her way past groups of ponies and every once in a while stopped to hoofbump with a fan. The DJ obliged her gluttonous side for attention and greeted every fan that was near her.

This is totally awesome!

With only twenty minutes to spare she had finally arrived backstage. Luckily Vinyl had prepared everything the day before already. Together with the stage technician they had set up everything in advance, so all she had to do now was mentally prepare herself. Just as she sat down behind her deck for the evening backstage, the technician came trotting up to her.

“Hey, Vinyl.” The orange pegasus stallion wearing a black beanie greeted her. “I need to tell you something about your deck.”

“Hey, Tech.” Vinyl gave him a hoofbump. “What’s wrong with it?”

“We had a little bit of a problem with the light board.” He tapped a row of switches with a hoof.

Vinyl had worked together with him yesterday, explaining to him what she wanted done for the lighting during her performance. At the time she had felt sad that she had not been discussing it with her father instead. She wished that he would have been there for her very first prime time show, but she knew that putting him anywhere near the vicinity of Octavia would no doubt once again lead to arguments and tears. Once she would go on tour one day, she most certainly wanted to do a show with him.

The light board had been Vinyl’s idea. While she had learned a few spells for lighting from her father, it would have been to taxing for her to keep the spells going and at the same time working her magic on the music. So they had rigged up a board that enabled her to switch the lighting without using magic and rather magically charged crystals on the ceiling.

“We fried some of the wiring while installing it.” Tech tapped the microphone of the deck. “Everything works, except the mike. I tried finding a new one, but couldn’t find anything. Sorry.”

“No problem. I’ll just use my music to talk to them.” Vinyl shrugged.

“Cool.” He checked his watch. “You’ll be wheeled out during the last track in about
fifteen minutes, just like we discussed yesterday. Have fun, Vinyl.”

“You betcha!” Vinyl exchanged another hoofbump and took a deep breath.

With her eyes closed she let the breath slowly escape. She could still feel her heart hammering in her chest and her hooves were slightly shaking. While she had played plenty of shows before, this still was something special. Even more so with her closest friends being here.

Vinyl counted to ten and opened her eyes. Soon the curtains in front of her would open and she would be wheeled on stage. Here in the backstage area the soundproofing spell was even stronger and she barely heard the music. But she most certainly felt the bass and the mass of ponies jumping about. The vibrations felt in her hooves sent pleasant shivers up her spine.

Tech suddenly appeared in her field of vision and held up a hoof making small circles, the signal that she would go on stage in a few seconds. The minutes had passed in a blur and Vinyl took one last deep breath. She plugged in her headphones and put them over her ears. Music being played by the other DJ still on stage thumped into her brain. She dialed it down a tiny bit and rested her still shaking hooves on her deck.

Here we go!

As the curtain opened, Vinyl was briefly blinded by the lights although she was wearing her sunglasses. She heard the ponies cheer louder as she wheeled on stage. The other DJ, a navy blue pegasus mare with black mane and blue streaks, introduced her.

“Prepare to shake your flanks, fillies and colts! Here….IS….DJ…PON-3!”

Vinyl waited a split second for the right moment, with a mighty bass drop she transitioned from the former DJ’s track to her own. The crowd roared loud enough that she couldn’t even hear the music in her headphones. With a quick dial of the volume the music was back in her ears. It was electric, the energy of the dancing ponies seemed to pour into her and with a mad grin she began the show of her lifetime.


“Damn, she is good!” Lyra yelled over the thumping music at her friends about twenty minutes into Vinyl’s show.

For the proper experience they had deactivated the soundproofing spell. The first few minutes it had been both DJ’s on stage at the same time. After a small mock battle the pegasus DJ surrendered the stage to Vinyl and was wheeled with her deck off stage.

Octavia nodded in agreement and kept her eyes glued to Vinyl on stage. At first she had been overwhelmed by the response that the DJ received and the loud thumping music. Slowly she had felt an emotion surface that she didn’t want anypony to know about.

She was jealous.

Seeing the ponies in front of the stage cheer Vinyl on and showering her with praise stung the cellist in a way she had not even thought of before. It should be her on stage, basking in the admiration of music loving ponies. Instead she was watching the pony who had upstaged her once before, reach her goals before the cellist had.

Jealousy was replaced by disgust.

Not for Vinyl, but rather for herself. Vinyl was her best friend and to even think bad thoughts about the mare seemed wrong to the cellist. The DJ had gone out of her way to fix an accident she had made all that time ago and had proven herself to only have the best of intentions towards Octavia. Vinyl had earned both first place way back then and most certainly had earned her place here tonight. Octavia scrunched up her face at her negative thoughts and hid it behind her glass of orange juice.

Bon Bon tapped the crystal in the table and the sound instantly died down.

“You ok, Octavia?” Bon Bon could see that the cellist was making a funny face.

“Orange juice not quite your taste?” Lyra slid a laminated sheet of paper over to the cellist. “Perhaps something else? A cocktail maybe?”

Octavia put down her glass and studied the menu in front of her. The names told her nothing, but the pictures of some of the drink looked nice. Seeing that they were here to celebrate after all, she decided to indeed have a cocktail.

“How about this one?” Octavia tapped a hoof on the picture of a drink that had many vibrant colors. “It even has three of those little umbrellas in it.”

“Oooooh, no, no, no.” Lyra feverishly shook her head. “You don’t ever want one of those. Never trust a drink that has more than one umbrella in it. They will knock you out faster than an anvil to the head.”

Lyra inspected the menu for a moment.

“You want something not quite so strong I guess?” Octavia nodded her head. “Here…this one is rather sweet thanks to all the fruit.”

Octavia didn’t have the slightest clue about cocktails or anything alcoholic for that matter. She had only once consumed half a glass of champagne at her graduation ceremony. The taste had not been very much to her liking.

“I’ll try whatever you suggest.” She finally said and turned her attention back to the stage.


Vinyl bobbed her head along with the beat and planned out her next track. It had been something she had been working on for some time now and hoped the audience would like it. Maybe one member of her audience especially. She also had taken a considerable amount of time to prepare the lighting for the next piece.

It was a trick she had thankfully remembered from her father, a black light emitting crystal had been affixed to the light rigging on the ceiling. If all went well it should create an awesome effect.

Vinyl silenced everything except a thumping baseline that almost sounded like a heartbeat. With a flick of a switch the lights went out and the black light crystals flared up.

Aaaaaaawwww, yeeeaaaaah!

Almost everything had become dark, the only things visible were the smiles and eyes of the ponies below. Some lighter coats also gleamed in a fluorescent effect. The smiles and eyes seemed to float in the darkness and Vinyl decided that her desired effect had been met.

She glanced over to the table with her friends and laughed. Octavia had practically disappeared into the darkness, save for her eyes and bowtie. Judging by Bon Bon’s laughter she also found the cellist’s appearance amusing.

Let’s see if we can get a grin out of Octavia.

Vinyl slowly added more music to the thumping beat. Fitting to the lighting it was a slightly eerie sound as a cello started playing. The DJ kept her eyes on Octavia as she let the cello grow louder. Vinyl grinned as she saw Octavia’s eyes grow wider and a large grin form on her face. For that moment the loud cheering of the other ponies didn’t really matter.


Octavia almost immediately recognized the cello playing. It was her own cello, even with some distortion and the other noises going on, she would always know that sound. She grinned as it dawned on her that Vinyl had been not only paying close attention to her music, but also had sneaked some of it away for her own use.

She suddenly felt a bit of pride that Vinyl had chosen to use her music during her first prime time show. Octavia marveled at the sight of Vinyl on stage. Thanks to the black light she was glowing all over. The darker blue of her mane had turned almost black, but the light blue part shone even brighter thanks to that. It was almost otherworldly and most certainly fit the music perfectly.

With a drop of bass and a transition to a faster beat the lights flicked back on. Now she could easily see the wide grin on the DJ’s face. She waved to her on stage and Vinyl returned it immediately.

“That was really cool!” Lyra returned to the table after venturing out to the bar to get their drinks.

She levitated Octavia’s cocktail on the table. It was a rather large glass filled with fruit submerged in a reddish almost pink liquid. A purple paper umbrella covered most of the opening, leaving just enough room for a straw. It looked nice and most certainly better than the blood red drink Lyra had or the amber liquid with ice cubes that was Bon Bon’s choice of drink.

Bon Bon took a large gulp of the liquid and licked her lips. Lyra gave her a sour look.

“Go easy on the stuff.” She said while taking a small sip of her drink.

“We are celebrating!” Bon Bon grinned wide. “Might as well do it properly!”

“You snore when you had too much of that stuff.” Lyra huffed. “I didn’t plan on having to sleep on the couch tonight.”

“Aww.” Bon Bon gave the unicorn a pat on her head. “Don’t worry. I’ll just have one and maybe a cocktail or so later.”

Octavia took a sip of her drink. It was sweet enough to almost completely mask the alcohol inside, but it burned in her throat and mouth as she swallowed.

“Urrgh.” Octavia scrunched up her face as tears formed in her eyes. She fanned her face that suddenly felt as if it was burning with a hoof.

“That bad?” Lyra grinned and pulled the drink over to her when Octavia signaled her to try it. She took a sip and swished it around in her mouth for a moment. “They did make it a bit strong.”

“You could pour some more orange juice in.” Bon Bon suggested.

“No, it’s fine. I just didn’t expect it to be so strong.” Octavia coughed once. Lyra shoved the glass back to her after she had snuck a piece of fruit, a piece of melon to be precise, out from it and plopped it into her mouth.

“Phew.” She chewed the fruit for a moment. “Might want to leave the fruit alone. That’s got some real kick to it.”

Octavia took note of the advice and only took very small sips from her drink while they watched Vinyl continue with her show. After a few minutes a faster track was played by Vinyl and the ponies started dancing more than before.

“How about we hit the dance floor?” Lyra turned to the other two. “Show these ponies how it’s really done.”

“Sure thing!” Bon Bon had finished her drink in three gulps and was feeling adventurous.

“I think I’ll sit this one out.” Octavia didn’t want to tell them that she couldn’t dance one bit. It might not have been noticed by any of the ponies there, but she was exceptionally awkward and clumsy when it came to anything dance related.

“If you change your mind just join in on the fun, we’ll find you.” Lyra smiled and led the way down to the dance floor with Bon Bon following her closely.

Octavia watched the two mares barge their way through the crowd to get closer to the stage. For a moment she lost sight of them, but then spotted Lyra jumping high above the surrounding ponies with forelegs held up high. The cellist smiled at the rather unorthodox moves that the unicorn performed. Bon Bon was only identifiable thanks to her mane and the fact that she wasn’t fazed one bit by her mate’s antics.

Octavia suddenly was roughly shoved to the side as an orange pegasus mare fell against her.

“Hey!” Octavia protested and tried shoving the obviously drunk mare away, which was a lot easier said than done. The mare seemed to be not in control of her wings as they flopped all about her, eventually landing in Octavia’s face and obscuring her vision.

Another pony pulled the drunk mare away from Octavia, just as she had decided to use a bit more force to get rid of the unwelcome guest.

“Sorry, she is a lightweight.” The stallion with a reddish brown coat said while shrugging and nodded towards Octavia’s drink. “Sorry about that.”

The cellist turned back to her drink and saw that it had been knocked over by the pegasus mare. The little paper umbrella was nowhere to be seen.

“I’ll get you a new one.” The stallion said as he led the other mare away from Octavia’s table.

Moments later he returned with a drink that had three paper umbrellas in it. He apologized once more and left the cellist alone with her new drink. Octavia eyed it cautiously, very well remembering Lyra’s warning. She decided to take the tiniest of sips possible to test if it really had that much of a kick to it.

The color of the liquid changed gradually from a nice yellow to a shade of light green. Octavia watched with fascination as the drink continued to change colors before her very eyes. As it changed to a pink color she took a sip via the straw. She braced herself as the liquid hit her tongue.

The drink was surprisingly sweet with a fruity aftertaste. Octavia licked her lips and briefly wondered if Lyra was just joking before. It tasted good, really good. She took another longer sip just as the color turned light blue.


Vinyl had missed Octavia’s encounter, she was having too much fun with her possibly oldest fans that had managed to sneak in somehow.

Just to her right in front of a large bass loudspeaker she had spotted the pegasi twins. For the last track or two she had on occasion let some deep bass blow out of only that loudspeaker, much to the enjoyment of the twins.

Like a bass cannon!

Vinyl laughed as their mane’s got blown back by the pressure and their feathers got ruffled. The twins then whooped loud enough for Vinyl to hear. Having fans was awesome.

About ten minutes later she thought about giving the twins another dose of bass. As she glanced over to them she noticed security closing in on them from a bit further back. While it sucked that they would kick them out for being underage, it was a very clear rule of the club. Vinyl was in no position to object to them, but she could perhaps give them a little warning.

She gave them a short burst of bass and as predicted the twins looked over to Vinyl and cheered. The DJ quickly nodded her head towards the approaching security. While the mare just looked confused at Vinyl, her brother understood immediately what was meant. He brief stood on his hindlegs while using his sister for balance.

After spotting the ponies closing in on them he yelled something at his sister in warning. She looked around and also finally saw what was about to happen. Both of them turned to Vinyl and gave her a quick salute that she returned with a grin. Then they pushed their way towards the exit through the sea of dancing ponies.

So close to the stage they could hardly get through. The security had at lot less problems as other ponies made way for them. With no other option the twins risked flying over the sea of equines to escape their possible captors.

There was hardly any room for them to fly properly so they more or less hopped from one place to the next. As the club had a strict no fly policy their actions drew even more attention from the rest of the security. The twins dodged their pursuers for the time being. Vinyl wished she would have had some kind of peppy sax tune to play as musical backdrop for the chase. It would have fit perfectly.

But the DJ had one trick up her sleeve that might help her fans get away. She flipped the switch on the light-board and the regular lights once again switched off and the club was bathed in black light. Now she barely saw anything anymore of the twins, she hoped the security had the same problem.

After a moment she flicked on the regular lights again and saw that her help had done the trick. Confused the security looked about and spotted the twins near the exit. The stallion paused briefly and then tore the large poster advertising Vinyl for this evening from the wall. With it in his mouth he joined his sibling by the exit. With one last salute towards Vinyl they dashed through the door, closely followed by all of the clubs security, who had found their targets once more.

Vinyl laughed at the scene and hoped they got away. That they had removed the poster gave her an idea to discuss possible merchandise with Big Time after the show. Maybe someday a lot of ponies would be walking around with trademark DJ Pon-3 sunglasses.

She grinned and hoped Octavia had noticed the action going on moments before. As she looked to where their table was, she found it to be empty. Vinyl scanned the crowd dancing for any sign of her friends. She spotted Lyra jumping up and down a bit further back, a huge grin plastered on her face. Beside the jumping mare Vinyl spotted Bon Bon bouncing along with the beat, but on a more subdued level. Octavia was nowhere to be seen.

Did she leave?

Vinyl frowned and couldn’t imagine her friend just leave without telling anypony. Luckily Vinyl had a means of finding her friend. Using the black light once more she scanned the crowd for a glowing collar and bowtie. Sure enough she spotted Octavia a few seconds later, just as the cellist pounced on an orange Pegasus mare.


Security was nowhere to be seen, no doubt still outside giving chase to the twins. Vinyl’s jaw dropped as she saw Octavia start a fight with an unknown pony a few tables away from their table. Both Octavia and the other mare started what could possibly have been the sorriest excuse of a fight ever seen.

They tried slapping the other pony’s face, which wasn’t that easy as both of them had bent their heads back as far as possible with their eyes squeezed shut. A group of ponies at the table were laughing at the sight. Vinyl did not feel like laughing.

What the buck is she doing?

Vinyl cursed under her breath that the microphone didn’t work. She glanced over to where Lyra and Bon Bon were, but they didn’t look at Vinyl for the moment nor did they see what the cellist was doing.

She was just about to switch off the lights once more to try and break up the fight, when the pegasus lost her balance and stumbled past Octavia inadvertently hitting her hard with one of her wings. The cellist seemed stunned, but quickly shook her head clear and turned very slowly towards her attacker.

Vinyl couldn’t see the look in her friend’s face, but judging by her body language she was not too happy. With more speed than expected and with a lot more force the cellist lunged at the other mare. Octavia missed with her wildly swung hoof, but slammed into the mare with enough force to launch her surprisingly far into the sea of dancing ponies.

The group of seven or eight ponies at the table stopped laughing and stood up. Octavia turned towards them and while slightly swaying about shook her hoof at them. Vinyl couldn’t hear what she was saying, but the effect was obvious as the group advanced towards the cellist.

Vinyl was now truly concerned. She had been stunned by the spectacle on display, somehow not believing what she had been seeing. Now it was about to turn possibly ugly and Vinyl had to do something. She pushed a button on her deck to enable autoplay. It was something used if a DJ had to take a quick break without disrupting the flow of music.

Where is the security?

Vinyl looked around, but couldn’t see any of the staff at the moment. She was just about to leave the stage through the backstage area to see what was going on, when a stallion gave Octavia a shove. The DJ let out a growl. Nopony shoved Octavia around while she was around.

Octavia shoved back hard. Momentarily fazed the stallion stumbled backwards into his friends. Then he strode forward and shoved again, a lot harder than before. Octavia stumbled backwards and fell over out of Vinyl’s sight.

Vinyl saw red and wanted to rush to Octavia’s aid as fast as possible. Going through the backstage area would take too long, so that left her with the option of pushing her way through the crowd. Or maybe there was even a third option. She took a few steps back and then charged towards the edge of the stage. At the last second she jumped and sailed high into the air.

Mid-flight it occurred to Vinyl that crowd surfing was maybe not the best of ideas. Landing on dozens of outstretched hooves would be anything but soft. As predicted it was rather painful and knocked the wind out of her. Thankfully the crowd ferried her towards the bar, thinking she would want a drink.

Vinyl tried to keep her eyes on where Octavia had gone down, but the crowd found it highly amusing to keep spinning her around. One moment she was lying on her stomach facing the bar, the next she was on her back looking at the stage. Another time she might have found it fun, but all she could think of at the moment was the wellbeing of her friend. What was decisively not fun either were some of the hooves that remained just a little too long on her flanks. Thankfully none of them drifted towards any forbidden areas.

After what seemed like a small eternity she finally made it to the bar and was let down from the crowd’s hooves. She ignored the ponies around her and darted to the table area where she had last seen Octavia.

The security had also returned from their little outing and stormed towards the commotion going on.
Vinyl arrived just in time to see Octavia get back up and charge towards the group of ponies.


“Where’s Vinyl?” Bon Bon yelled at her marefriend over the music.

“I can’t see her anymore.” Lyra used Bon Bon for balance and stood on her hindlegs. “There is something going on near the tables.”

“Something?” Lyra’s report had not been very enlightening.

“Can’t really say what. Just a bunch of ponies bunched up.” Lyra shrugged. “Perhaps they are asking Vinyl for an autograph?”

“Let’s go check it out.” Bon Bon led the way through the still dancing ponies.


Vinyl watched in bewilderment as Octavia barreled into the group. As the group’s alcohol level was also rather high their coordination was lacking. The cellist slammed into a stallion, knocking not only themselves off their hooves, but also the rest of the group. A mass of bodies with flailing limbs was the result. Octavia’s head popped up suddenly and surveyed the surroundings, very much like a meerkat would. Something about Octavia’s look told Vinyl that there was more going on with her friend that met the eye.

Vinyl was about to trot over and quickly remove her friend from the mass of ponies on the floor, when security finally stepped in and took over that part. One of them roughly pushed Octavia on to her hooves as they began to untangle the ponies on the floor.

Octavia just stood there looking very confused. As soon as the stallion she had previously tackled was back on his hooves she spotted him. With a frown on her face Octavia once again charged him. Vinyl rushed towards her to try and prevent her from doing so. A security pony was faster and blocked Octavia’s way. She slammed into him, but the well trained and very sober stallion did not budge. He spun the cellist around and hit her over her head with a hoof.

“HEY!” Vinyl yelled at the security pony and out of reflex to protect her friend hit him over the head with her hoof. Vinyl in turn was hit by another security pony behind her.

The crowd around the tables had thus far only been watching with curiosity. Seeing that the star of the show was seemingly bent on conveying a message of anarchy by assaulting security, the mob of ponies decided to side with the DJ and bring a little anarchy of their own.

What started as a little scuffle now turned into a full out brawl. Vinyl rubbed her head with a hoof and watched as the drunk group of ponies that Octavia had attacked, the security and the other guests started fighting all around her. She quickly looked over to see if Octavia was hurt. The cellist seemed entirely oblivious of what was going on around her and just stared at the lights above her for a moment, her face scrunched up in deep concentration.

As Vinyl tried to reach her somepony was roughly shoved into her side. The DJ stumbled into the fighting ponies, some of which were inebriated enough to not care anymore who they were fighting. Vinyl yelped in pain as a set of hooves slammed into her side pushing her against another pony further away. That pony retaliated by a kick of her own that sent Vinyl flying a good few ponies length’s away.

“Ok….” Vinyl murmured as she got back on her hooves. “Time to bring the pain!”

Vinyl would have to fight her way to Octavia. She had a vague idea where her friend hopefully still was and would reach her no matter what.

The white unicorn musician was not a violent pony. The last fight she had been in was in a sandbox when she was five. It had ended in tears as her stuffed toy had been effectively ruined during the scuffle. But Vinyl was no little foal anymore, now she was a grown mare with a purpose. Unfortunately for her the crowd shared the opinion that Vinyl’s purpose for the time being should be that of the ball in a pinball machine.

Vinyl tried her best to get back to Octavia, but soon lost her bearings as she was shoved and kicked all around the dance floor. By now the entire club had joined in and fought anypony that was not their friend. If it would continue then it was only a matter of time before guards would show up as it was clear that the staff had very little chance of calming the crowd down.

One hefty shove by a large mare later and Vinyl found herself slamming into another pony. She braced herself for some kind of retaliation that she had become accustomed to in the meantime.

“Vinyl?” The pony in question opened her eyes and was relieved to have slammed into Bon Bon and not some hostile individual. “What is going on here?”

“I have no idea.” Vinyl took a moment to try and see where Octavia was. “All I know is that Tavi started it.”

“Whu…what?” Lyra appeared from behind Vinyl. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah, she started fighting with a few ponies back there.” Vinyl pointed in the direction she had last seen the cellist.

“Hard to imagine that Octavia of all ponies started this moshpit from hell.” Lyra tried to spot the troublemaker, but couldn’t find her amongst the brawling mob.

“We have to find her!” Vinyl took a deep breath and prepared to face what lied ahead. Lyra held her back for a moment to let Bon Bon take the lead.

Earthpony strength was very helpful for clearing a path through the fighting ponies. Any that came too close were given a flying lesson by the sweetmaker. Lyra occasionally paused and swung her hoof at some ponies that got too close for comfort from the sides or from behind. She managed to get quite a few punches in, maybe even a few more than necessary.

After a moment they were back where it had all began. A grey coated cellist was nowhere to be seen. Vinyl began to panic and tried looking all over the place at once. Lyra was about to check under the nearby tables when Bon Bon spoke up.

“I found her.”

“Where?” Vinyl and Lyra asked at the same time. Bon Bon just pointed towards the ceiling.

Octavia had somehow managed to reach the lights on the ceiling and clung to them using all legs but one. The free hoof pawed at the lights slowly.

“How did she end up there? And what is she doing?” Lyra asked, but didn’t really expect any answer.

“How do we get her down?” Vinyl tried remembering if she had seen a ladder anywhere in the club during her previous visits.

Any further thoughts were halted by an orange pegasus mare that took the decision off their hooves. She tackled the ceiling bound cellist and crashed to the ground. Luckily they had landed on a small group of ponies and not the hard floor instead.

The trio of friends wanted to rush to Octavia’s aid, but found themselves unable to move. Not because of a spell, but rather because the clubs very special enforcer had appeared on the scene. The sight of Squeak made all of the fighting ponies near his vicinity pause. Lyra and Bon Bon had paused in mid movement at the sight of sheer mass the pony had. Vinyl had paused because she feared that things might turn really bad now.

Squeak walked slowly to the tumbled mess of ponies lying on the ground. He did so deliberately and gave any pony that looked like trouble a very mean look. One pony seemed entirely oblivious however. Octavia jumped to her hooves and tried swatting the pegasus that had tackled her. A second later Squeak was behind her and clamped his teeth on Octavia’s collar. With seemingly no effort he lifted her up and turned slowly towards the exit.

From Vinyl’s perspective it looked like a mother cat carrying her kitten by the scruff of its neck. Octavia looked absolutely perplexed at what was happening to her. She held all four legs close to her body and stared wide-eyed at the ground. Then she started thrashing about, not unlike a member of the feline species being confronted by the horror that was known as a bath.

Her wild movements caused the collar and bowtie to give up its life and rip apart. The cellist landed on her hooves and stumbled backwards past Squeak, who just looked annoyed. Octavia landed behind the stallion and looked around slightly dazed. Vinyl wondered what was going through her friends mind.


Octavia had to admit that the evening had taken a very strange turn. First there were umbrellas, maybe one, maybe two or even three. She wasn’t sure as everything was pretty much blurry at the moment. Her vision, her memories, her thoughts and even her hooves seemed blurry or maybe fuzzy.

Then she had remembered the orange turkey that had taken one of her umbrellas earlier. She sure showed her a thing or two later. Somehow she had then turned into a bowling ball after one of the pins had shoved her. She was pretty sure she had then proceeded to knock them down. It must have been a strike, possibly a split, but most certainly bananas.

Thinking about bananas made her think about Princess Celestia for some reason. Which in turn made her wonder why there were so many suns in the sky tonight. Then she had jumped higher than she had even jumped, so high in fact that she managed to reach one of the suns. She had marveled at the sun and how it had changed color. To be honest it wasn’t that much of a big deal, as almost everything had begun changing color over the course of the evening.

Then that infernal turkey had returned and had used Octavia as a bowling ball again. She would most certainly have to pluck that bird before it ruined her score. She was sure she was leading at the moment, but wasn’t entirely sure that the others weren’t playing snooker instead.

From amidst the pins she had suddenly started floating. She was already so far up that she couldn’t make out any of the houses on the ground anymore. That wasn’t on her agenda for the day, she rather wanted something nice to eat. The craving for something nice to eat, preferably fruit or cardboard, overrode her impulse to just float about some more. After some fierce struggling she managed to descend back to the ground a lot fast than she had planned.

The world seemed to tilt to the side, something that Octavia was not prepared to take the blame for. As she flopped on her side she caught glimpse of a rather bulky brown tree in front of her, though in all fairness it could also have been a bright blue bush. Her face lit up as she spotted what seemed to be a slightly misshaped coconut under the tree’s single short white leaf.

Octavia liked coconuts. She had become something of an expert on opening them, then again in her current state of mind she was an expert in everything. Her desire for something sweet made her pop back up on her hooves in an instant. The white flesh of the nut and the sweet milk would do nicely until she found some artichokes with mustard and chocolate sprinkles. Octavia didn’t waste any time and gave the coconut a powerful and very well aimed kick with a backleg.


Squeak squeaked.

A sound that could be heard all throughout the club, despite the music still blearing away in the background.

A collective groan of all ponies that had watched the painful display rose up above the music. Squeak remained still, his eyes bulging out of the sockets and pupils shrunk down to pinpricks.

After what seemed like ages the massively huge stallion collapsed on the ground, clutching his nether regions with both front hooves.

A heartbeat later and the ponies started brawling again. Vinyl just stared slack-jawed at what had just happened. She couldn’t understand why Octavia now just stared at the fallen Squeak with a mix of confusion and disappointment. She was too stunned by the events and remained frozen as the pegasus from before drunkenly staggered towards the cellist from behind.

Luckily Lyra wasn’t quite as stunned and leapt to the grey pony’s aid. Lyra shoved the pegasus away into the brawling crowd on the dance floor and slung a foreleg around Octavia’s neck. Not wasting a second she pulled Octavia along with her as she bolted towards an empty table not too far away.

Bon Bon and Vinyl followed a second later. Lyra flipped the table over to form a barricade of sorts. The half-circle bench gave them some cover and the table would hopefully keep any ponies away. The unicorn pawed the crystal to enable the soundproofing spell.

Vinyl checked if the coast was reasonably clear and that nopony had followed them. As they seemed to be safe for the moment she spun around and faced Octavia. The first thing she noted was that the cellist’s eyes were dilated. The smallest amount of her light purple iris could be seen.

What the hay?


Octavia was sorely disappointed.

The coconut had not split open. Her kick had been so mighty that she had felled the entire tree. Perhaps she should have felt proud, but she still felt a craving for something to eat that diminished any other emotions.

A blob was suddenly beside her. Minty green it was and seemed vaguely familiar. It seemed as if the blob was in a hurry, perhaps it had found something nice to eat. Octavia let herself be guided to their destination.

Once there, the blob decided to flip a table over. Perhaps it was out of anger that the buffet table had been empty. Octavia hoped the protest would be noticed by the staff of the kitchen.

Then she noticed two other beings. A beige blob and a white blob. The white blob came closer and Octavia’s eye twitched.


“Her eye is twitching!” Vinyl was deeply concerned for her friend. “What the hay did you give her to drink?”

“It was just a fruit cocktail!” Lyra explained and was unsure what had befallen the cellist. “It was maybe a bit stronger than usual, but even if she is such a lightweight it shouldn’t cause this kind of reaction.”

“That’s all she had?” Vinyl was about to say something else, but Octavia suddenly scrunched up her face in disgust.

“A BUG!” Octavia suddenly yelled.


Octavia didn’t mind bugs. As long as they fit nicely under her hoof if the situation called for it, she was perfectly content sharing her plant with them. But now there was this gigantic bug right up close to her. She objected to its size and especially those large unblinking purple eyes that reflected some of the pretty colorful sunlight.

She yelled out her disgust and watched the bug turn around in panic a few times. There was some small amount of satisfaction to be found in the fact that the bug knew what would happen next.


Vinyl didn’t mind bugs. As long as they didn’t take up residence anywhere on her. Judging by Octavia’s yell and look of disgust, she assumed that she had some kind of terrifying hideous beast lodged in her mane. A quick look once over revealed nothing of the sort.

What happened next she never saw coming.

As Vinyl turned back to face Octavia, she very briefly caught glimpse of a grey hoof speeding towards her. Next there was a flash of bright light accompanied by a sharp pain. Vinyl fell against the table and shook her head. All she could see for the moment were stars.

She felt a hoof stomping her in the ribs and was sure to feel something crack.

What is going on?!

“The glasses! Take of the glasses!” Lyra yelled at Vinyl and forcibly tried pulling the cellist turned impromptu exterminator off the DJ. Only after Bon Bon joined in of her efforts did they manage to pull her away.

Vinyl flicked her sunglasses off with a hoof and flinched with pain as she touched her head.

“What the buck was that Octavia?” Lyra gave the cellist a very angry look. Octavia simply smiled proudly, but didn’t say anything.

“Oh dear. Hold on.” Bon Bon picked up a couple of clean napkins that had fallen to the floor when Lyra had tipped the table. She folded them into a square with quick hooves and pressed it against Vinyl’s left eyebrow.

“What are you doing?” Vinyl gritted her teeth at the suddenly more intense pain.

“You’re bleeding. Hold it here.” Bon Bon replied and made sure that the unicorn pressed on the napkin with enough pressure while she made a few more napkin squares.

Vinyl cast a glance over to Octavia. Had her friend really just hit her with enough force to cause a cut? Deep down she knew that Octavia wouldn’t have done that on purpose. Something was really wrong with her. With a grunt Vinyl got on her hooves and decided to keep a good safe distance away from the others.

“Octavia? Octavia!” Lyra tried to get the cellist’s attention. Very slowly she turned her head and just stared at the unicorn.

One look into the other mare’s eyes told her that she must have ingested something strange. Lyra had shied away from any exotic plants from faraway lands that some of the students had enjoyed chewing during her time in university. But she had seen the results of some of the more rare plants and they all had the same dilated look about them.

“Remember the drink, Octavia?” She asked very slowly.

The cellist watched her with fascination and moving her lips to mimic Lyra question.

“The umbrella? Remember the umbrella?”

Octavia face lit up at the memory of umbrellas. She rapidly nodded and grinned.

“Yes! Umbrellas are good.” Octavia nodded once more.

“How many umbrellas did you have?” Lyra asked as Bon Bon and Vinyl stepped a bit closer.

“Dunno! Maybe three….or six…..could have been a rainbow.” Octavia swayed slightly as if she was standing on the deck of a ship that was in rough sea.

“Lyra, Vinyl is hurt. You need to do something.” Bon Bon said while pointing a hoof at the wounded DJ.

“Just a moment.”

Lyra looked around and realized that the area they were hiding in was directly next to their former table. Luck would have it that the glass with three umbrellas was still there. She quickly levitated it over.

Three umbrellas, one of which had been chewed on, was a bad sign, but what sent off alarms in Lyra’s mind was the small amount of liquid at the bottom. She watched it slowly change color. Bravely she took a sip of the liquid as she had a suspicion of what it was. The taste was rather pleasant and a few seconds later she felt a small rush of energy flow through her. Her horn sparked once as she felt a shiver run down her spine.

“Who was the total moron that gave her an alicorn flip?” Lyra said angrily.

“What’s that?” Vinyl removed the napkin from her eyebrow and jerked back in shock when she saw that it was soaked with her blood. Quickly she placed a new napkin on the spot.

Lyra took note of the DJ’s state and led her towards a bit of space with more light in it. Bon Bon remained next to Octavia who watched the sweetmaker with fascination.


Octavia felt a sense of accomplishment. She had singlehoofedly vanquished the monstrous bug, but had yet to receive any kind of reward. The blurry minty thing had asked her about umbrellas.

That was something Octavia wouldn’t mind having as a reward. Not only did they taste good when milked, but she could also use them when flying again, as a sort of parachute or hat maybe.

Then the minty blob went away and left her alone with the beige blob. It also seemed strangely familiar, but her thoughts ground to a halt when she spotted something floating in the blob. If she concentrated she could see that there was candy floating in the blob. Three pieces to be precise, each wrapped nicely up.

Octavia decided to have one of them and reached out to grab one with a hoof.


“Turn your head into the light a bit.” Lyra instructed the other unicorn after she had removed the napkin from Vinyl’s wound.

“What’s an alicorn flip?” Vinyl asked as she did as she was told.

“It’s a drink made exclusively for unicorns.” Lyra concentrated and poured magic into her horn in preparation for a spell. “It’s made with a special liquid that’s infused with magic.”

Vinyl grimaced as Lyra cast a spell on her cut. It stung a fair bit and she had to fight down her natural unicorn instinct to counter any spell being cast on her.

Behind them Bon Bon jumped in shock as Octavia pawed at her cutie mark. Irritated she lightly pushed the prodding hoof away.

“It gives unicorns a slight buzz and peps them up for a while.” Lyra continued her explanation. “The effects are very different if drunk by non-unicorns.”

“I noticed.” Vinyl replied dryly. “Are there any side-effects? It isn’t dangerous is it?”

“Nah, she’ll be fine tomorrow.” Lyra shrugged and let her magic slowly drain away from Vinyl. “Most likely won’t remember a thing.”

Octavia was seemingly fascinated by Bon Bon candy cutie mark and also very determined to reach it. Bon Bon turned her flank away from the cellist. Much like a cat following a piece of string, Octavia jumped after the retreating candy.

Lyra inspected her work for a moment and then nodded once. “You won’t need the napkin.” She said as Vinyl was about to press it back on her cut.

“Where did you learn that?” Vinyl asked and just dropped the napkin on the floor.

“I took a few classes in first aid.” Lyra shrugged. “I wanted to be a nurse or a doctor, but things turned out a bit differently once I got my cutie mark.”

“Can you do something about my ribs?” Vinyl gingerly rubbed the hurting area. “Octavia hit me good and I think their broken.”

“Can you breathe alright?” Lyra cast a glance at Vinyl’s side.

“Yeah, hurts when I laugh.”

“Then don’t. I doubt they are broken, most likely just bruised. Don’t worry, you’ll live.” Lyra gave Vinyl a pat on her head. “But it’s still a good idea to have a doctor look at them.”


Octavia snorted with frustration. The candy was right there, but every time she got her hoof on it the delicious treats moved away. Perhaps it didn’t like being touched by hooves, candy was strange in that regard sometimes.

There of course always was an alternative to using hooves.


Bon Bon let out a surprised yelp which drew the attention of the two unicorns. Lyra and Vinyl just stared at the cellist’s newest strange behavior.

“What’s she doing?” Vinyl asked wanting some kind of confirmation of what her eyes were showing her.

“She’s trying to lick my cutie mark.” Bon Bon explained and had to use both hooves to keep the grey earthpony at bay. The tenacious Octavia tried dodging the hooves with varying degrees of success, eventually using her surprisingly long tongue to try and reach Bon Bon’s flank. The candymaker half shrieked and half giggled and the tickling sensation as the tongue very briefly brushed over her cutie mark.

“Hm….I had a dream like that once.” Lyra said and watched the show in concentration. She turned to Vinyl with an expectant look in her eyes.

“What?” Vinyl asked as the other unicorn seemingly wanted her to do something.

“Go on….get out your can of whipped cream and join them.” Lyra nodded towards the two earthponies currently engaged in a bizarre dance.

“What?” Vinyl had the feeling the mint green mare was serious.

“Ah, nuts.” Lyra sighed. “I hoped that this was all just a dream.”

“So do I.”

“Would one of you please take her awayAH!” Bon Bon jumped towards Lyra. “She bit me!”

Lyra laughed and earned an angry look from her marefriend. She stepped between her and the cellist in hot pursuit. Octavia paused for a moment in confusion. Then she stepped closer until their muzzles were almost touching. With squinting eyes she studied Lyra carefully. The closeness was slightly awkward for the lyrist and she tried backing away. Octavia followed immediately.


The candy had flown away.

Octavia felt slightly betrayed by her snack just leaving her and not staying to be devoured. Perhaps the candy was shy and didn’t like being out of its wrapper. She had followed the candy floating away and watched as it suddenly disappeared.

Now there was that mint green blob again. Perhaps there was candy to be found here too. This time Octavia would carefully inspect the blob first to see if there were any kind of instructions.


Lyra did not back away, but felt rather uncomfortable by the very close inspection she was receiving.

Octavia had moved on from inspecting her face to inspect the neck. Lyra hoped that the cellist would lose interest before reaching any interesting parts.

“How long will she stay like that?” Bon Bon asked now hiding behind Vinyl.

“I…uh…maybe an hour?” Lyra didn’t move, but really wanted to shrug. “I don’t know how much she drank.”

Vinyl watched the strange behavior with a small amount of jealousy. Bon Bon and Lyra had been thus far only assaulted by the cellist with harmless actions, Vinyl had been hit in the head and had her ribs stomped. It seemed rather unfair to her.

Her thoughts were interrupted when a barstool went flying over their current hiding spot.

“Maybe we should get out of here.” She dared to peek over the table to see what was going on.

Thanks to the soundproofing spell she couldn’t hear much of the commotion going on. Seeing it on the other hoof told her that things had taken a turn for the more destructive. A glance over to her deck revealed that it had been wheeled of stage by the staff at some point. She hadn’t even noticed them turning off the music.

Some of the lights had been knocked to the floor or smashed somehow. Barstools and tables had been smashed on the dance floor and all over the place ponies were partaking in a drunken brawl. She spotted Squeak still lying on the floor and some of the security ponies trying to break the fights apart.

“We should do that before the guards turn up. If they climb over…” Lyra was interrupted by a crash loud enough to be heard clearly through the spell. “Yeah, just that. Once they involve the bar in the fight, the guards will turn up quickly. Let’s get out of here!”

“How do we get Octavia out?” Bon Bon asked and briefly ventured out to their previous seating area to retrieve the group’s saddlebags.

Luckily that particular problem solved itself.


Octavia was convinced there was candy to be found on the mint blob. There just had to be.

It was a universal truth for her at the present time and moment that everything was made of candy if one looked long enough.

She grinned wide as she did indeed finally find candy.

On top of the blob there was this large pointy thing and around it was some strands of soft stuff. It took a moment for her to realize what it was. Cotton candy!

The large pointy thing must be the stick to hold it. Octavia liked cotton candy and licked her lips in anticipation.


“What the….” Lyra tried jerking her head away as she felt Octavia take a large chunk of her mane in her mouth. Octavia didn’t let go and started licking and chewing the lyrist’s mane.

“This is ridiculous!” Vinyl shook her head. This entire evening had begun so well, but had turned into stuff that would no doubt follow her as nightmares for the rest of her life.

Bon Bon agreed and fixed Lyra’s, Octavia’s and her own saddlebag onto her back. Vinyl’s saddlebag was somewhere backstage and there was no way to get there without some kind of fuss. Bon Bon packed away Vinyl’s sunglasses in her own bag for safekeeping.

“This might actually work!” Lyra grinned as a plan formed in her mind.

She used a brief moment when Octavia was just licking her mane and not biting down on it to duck away. Before the cellist could react Lyra spun around and waved her tail in front of the other mare’s face. As planned Octavia immediately chomped down on it and held tight.

“Perfect!” Lyra grinned with a soggy mane.

“What’s perfect about that?” Despite everything Vinyl had to chuckle. “It looks ridiculous.”

“But she will follow me now.” Lyra explained and tested her theory. She took a few steps and Octavia indeed followed her. “We’ll make a run for it. You two stay on her sides and make sure she doesn’t get distracted by anything.”

The plan was possibly the most sensible thing Vinyl had heard for some time. She sighed and stretched her legs a bit. The adrenalin rush that had coursed through her system had died down and she felt the effects of being a ponyshaped pinball from earlier.

“On three Bon Bon will shove the table away and we make a run for the exit.” Lyra waited for confirmation of her plan and then counted down.

On three Bon Bon flipped the table to the side, almost hitting a pair of stallions fighting nearby. Lyra met a bit of resistance as she started moving, but then the cellist floowed and Lyra could move a bit faster. She dodged the ponies around as best she could, on occasion having to make way with a well placed kick. Vinyl and Bon Bon stayed directly beside the cellist and tried their best to shield her from any potential attackers.


One mad dash later they burst through the exit and kept running. Lyra took course towards Vinyl’s home as it was closest. Obediently the cellist held on to Lyra’s tail as they ran past a few very surprised looking ponies on the street.

A block away Vinyl couldn’t run anymore. Everything had begun to hurt and she struggled with every breath. Bon Bon noticed the unicorn struggling to keep up.

“Lyra stop!” Bon Bon slowed down and signaled Vinyl to do the same.

Lyra decreased her speed and circled around with Octavia still happily munching away. They slowly trotted off the sidewalk into a reasonably clean and well lit alley. Vinyl sat on her haunches and greedily sucked in air despite the pain it caused to her ribs.

Bon Bon put a comforting hoof of the wheezing unicorn and cast an inquisitive glance over to the cellist.

“Your tail is going to be a mess.”

“Meh, I’ll give it a wash later and it will be as good as new.” Lyra shrugged. Luckily pony teeth were not suited for biting through hair without effort. All that Octavia had been doing was chewing around on it and licking it. “A bit of saliva isn’t that big of a deal.”

“You…can….shower….at….our….place…” Vinyl wheezed out between breaths.

“I could leave Octavia attached and perhaps she would snap out of it faster.” Lyra grinned and ignored the unamused look the others were giving her.

“Are there any effects left we should be aware of?” Bon Bon hoped that it wouldn’t get even weirder.

“I think she has passed the really crazy stage.” Lyra nodded to the oblivious grey mare. “Now she has the munchies. She should get sleepy soon and if she does we’ll have a hard time waking her up again. So maybe we should get moving again.”

Vinyl felt like her hooves weighed a ton, but in order to get Octavia home to safety she would power through it.

Things went differently when Octavia let go of Lyra’s tail and yawned widely.


The cotton candy was strange.

Not only was it really difficult to eat, but it also tasted like her hairbrush. And it also tried getting away from her, but this time she held on.

She followed the blob for a while. For some reason they had decided to leave the world of colorful suns, turkeys and bowling pins to run into a refrigerator. Which was ok in Octavia’s book as it meant there was a slight possibility of umbrella drinks and penguins.

She noticed that they had stopped and the beige candy blob was back. It was besides a white marshmallow-y blob.

Marshmallows….. she could really do with a marshmallow now as she was getting sleepy. And the best sleep she ever had was on a marshmallow, so much she remembered.

She spat out the piece of tough cotton candy and yawned. Perhaps one of the blobs was soft enough for a quick nap. With a bit of luck she could also float a bit. She decided to test the qualities of the blobs.


“Uhm….Octavia? What are you doing?” Lyra was slightly disturbed about the cellist’s new form of entertainment.

Octavia rubbed her head from all angles against Lyra’s neck, briefly nuzzling it on select spots. The feeling was actually rather pleasant and coincidentally also something that Lyra had on occasion dreamed about.

Here in the middle of an alley it was rather awkward. The look Bon Bon gave her told her that she shouldn’t even dare think that she was enjoying it. Octavia suddenly stopped her actions and gave Lyra a look of serious contemplation.

“You are not soft enough.” Octavia stepped up to Bon Bon with determination.

Startled the sweetmaker did not dare move as Octavia once again began her strange behavior of rubbing her head against the mare.

“Soft enough?” Vinyl was confused, which wasn’t new as she had been confused for most of the evening. “What is she doing now?”

“No idea…” Lyra watched Octavia nuzzle the very perplexed Bon Bon in the crook of her neck. She gave Bon Bon a look that told her she should most certainly enjoy it and if possible invite Lyra and Vinyl to join in. Bon Bon ignored the look.

“You are too soft.” Octavia said with a nod of her head and moved on to Vinyl.

“Did she just call me fat?” Bon Bon frowned.

“Nah, of course not.” Lyra waved her concern away with the wave of her hoof. “She just meant that your coat is a lot nicer than mine.”

Vinyl felt a very strange mix of pain and euphoria as Octavia began nuzzling her neck and rubbed her head against it. She made a point to not react to Lyra’s snickering at the blush that was forming on Vinyl’s cheeks.

Suddenly Octavia drew back with a huge grin on her face.

“You are my fuzzy firm marshmallow!” Octavia nodded vigorously and hopped a few times on the spot.

“Uh…congratulations?” Lyra cocked her head to the side. “I guess you won….something…”

“I am not a marshmaHURKGHL.” Vinyl found herself on the receiving end of Octavia’s hug around her neck. The cellist buried her head in Vinyl’s neck and sighed in content. It seemed strangely familiar to Vinyl.

“Uhm..Tavi? Mind letting me go?” Vinyl carefully prodded one grey leg wrapped around her neck. It instantly tightened around her neck. “RRrrghchch….”

After a few seconds the leg relaxed a bit and the DJ could breathe again. She now knew why the current situation seemed familiar.

“Oh no, not again.” Vinyl wanted to facehoof, but dared not move out of fear of being strangled again.

“Again?” Lyra looked over to Bon Bon for an answer. The sweetmaker just shrugged in response.

“When I told you about the time I woke up in her bed?” Vinyl hoped to jog Lyra’s memory without too much explanation. She could almost see the lightbulb light up in Lyra’s mind.

“Ah, right. Hmmm….” Lyra rubbed her chin with a hoof. “Maybe there is a puddle somewhere? A splash of water might wake her up again.”

Vinyl didn’t much like the idea of splashing dirty water in her friends face. The best thing would be to just get home as fast as possible.

“It isn’t that far.” Vinyl turned around slowly so that Octavia was once again resting against her back. “If we just take it slowly I can manage.”

“You sure?” Bon Bon wasn’t convinced. The DJ was running on empty now already and looked like it as well.

“Just help me get up and make sure that Tavi doesn’t fall off.”

With the help of her friends Vinyl got on shaky hooves. It wasn’t that bad as the cellist did not weigh very much and thankfully they would soon be back home. The only slight problem would be the stairs leading up to the fifth floor.


It had taken far longer than planned to finally reach the apartment.

Vinyl would have struggled with the stairs even without the added weight of an earthpony on her back. Lyra and Bon Bon did their best to try and help Vinyl, but in the end she was close to collapsing from exhaustion.

With very wobbly steps she trudged into Octavia’s bedroom and sighed as she stood before the bed.

“Now what do we do?” Vinyl wasn’t prepared to being woken up by strangulation again.

“Hmmm….I have an idea.” Bon Bon snatched a pillow away with a hoof and gave it to Lyra. “Lay down, Vinyl.”

Vinyl did as instructed and flopped with the cellist on her back onto the bed. The grip tightened once more and Vinyl gasped for breath once Octavia relaxed again.

“When she let’s go, you have to get up quickly and Lyra has to put the pillow in your place.” Bon Bon seemed to have a plan and Vinyl had no choice but to follow it.

The sweetmaker plucked a feather from the pillow and gently ran it over Octavia’s left ear. As was to be expected the cellist flicked her ear rapidly in response. Bon Bon tried it twice more, on the final stroke the cellist groaned and intensified her grip around Vinyl’s neck.

“Different plan….different plan….” Vinyl coughed out. “Why not wake her up?”

“Nah, I don’t think that is a good idea.” Lyra shook her head. “Unless you want a crazy pony loose in your home. She might eat the wallpaper or think that she can fly and jump out the window. Best to let her sleep.”

“I’ll try using the feather someplace else.” Bon Bon suggested and gave Lyra a not amused stare when the unicorn started snickering.

Carefully Bon Bon tickled the tender part of Octavia’s left hoof. It took a while for her to find the right spot, but suddenly the cellist rapidly shook her hoof like a cat would when it would get its paw wet. Vinyl saw her chance as she wasn’t in a vice grip any longer. Lyra was ready and shoved the pillow in Vinyl’s place, before Octavia could clamp both forelegs around her again. The three mares held their breath hoping that the cellist hadn’t noticed anything.

A loud snore was their answer and they let out a breath of relief.

“Thanks.” Vinyl clumsily got out of bed again with a helping hoof of Lyra.

“No problem.” Lyra grinned.

“If you want to, you can crash here tonight.” Vinyl said and just wanted to drop dead into her own bed.

“Do you mind if I have a shower first?” Lyra asked and thrust a hoof towards her tail. “It looks kinda ridiculous.”

Vinyl had to agree. Half of Lyra’s tail was in its usual bushy self, the other half that Octavia had tried eating was no more than a thin and thoroughly soaked string of hair about an inch or so thick.

“You know where the towels are and everything. Knock yourself out.” Vinyl said while staggering towards her bed.

She briefly groaned in pain as she lied down, but very quickly felt sleep coming to claim her. The last thing she heard was the water in the shower running and Bon Bon telling Lyra that she will not join her marefriend in the shower.

Then Vinyl fell into a dreamless sleep.

Chapter 22

View Online

Octavia slowly awoke from a surprisingly refreshing sleep.

One eye slowly opened up and cast a glance towards the alarm clock on the bedside table. It was nearly eight o’clock already. As it was the weekend she didn’t have to get up anytime soon, but the damage was already done. Once awake she wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep anytime soon.

She cast the pillow she had been clutching away and stretched her body and every limb out as far as possible. With a half groan half yawn she felt a joint or two pop.

While rubbing her eyes with a hoof she sat up. Her sense of smell woke up around that time as well and told her that somepony was cooking something nice in the kitchen. Vinyl usually got up before the cellist so she didn’t really waste another thought about it, yet something stirred in the back of her mind.


Her eyes went wide as she remembered that it had been Vinyl’s big night yesterday. Strange that she couldn’t remember any of it. Octavia ran a hoof through the unkempt mane of hers and tried to remember anything about last night. After a good two minutes of silent contemplation she came up with nothing.

The last thing she remembered was the drink with the umbrella in it. How she got back to her apartment was a mystery. Perhaps the drink had caused the memory loss, which wouldn’t surprise her as her tolerance of alcohol had been untested before last night.

Octavia grunted as her beloved movies came to her mind. She had seen plenty of movies were ponies would get drunk and would wake up the next morning with a terrible hangover. She had nothing of the sort and felt actually rather good, if maybe a bit hungry. It was possible that is was just exaggerated for humorous purposes in the movies and reality was much tamer.

She shrugged and got out of bed. Maybe Vinyl had made some banana pancakes again and Octavia could get some information from her friend about last night.

Once outside of her bedroom she heard voices. Familiar voices of ponies that must have stayed here for some reason.

As she entered the living room area she spotted Lyra sitting at the table. Bon Bon was standing beside her wearing Vinyl’s chef hat. A comical hat that Octavia had bought her soon after they had moved to Manehatten. Both mares stopped their conversation and watched the cellist’s approach with wide eyes.

“Good morning!” Octavia guessed that their looks were because of her unruly hair in the morning.

“Uh…good morning.” Bon Bon studied the other earthpony carefully.

“Nice mane.” Lyra also carefully watched the cellist for any signs that might need some kind of intervention. The hair did not qualify for such action, but was rather close.

“I know. It’s always a mess in the morning.” Octavia smiled at her friends and sat down at the table.

“Are you….feeling ok?” Lyra asked with hesitation.

“I feel great!” Octavia’s reply was accompanied by a rumble from her stomach. She blushed a bit and smiled sheepishly. “Maybe a bit hungry.”

“No headache or anything like that?” Bon Bon asked and took off the chef hat.

“No, nothing. Why do you ask? The drink wasn’t that strong last night, was it?” Octavia looked from one mare to the other.

“The first one wasn’t.” Lyra replied after a moment.

“The first one? How many did I have?”

“What do you remember about last night?” Lyra shifted about on the chair, taking on a more relaxed position after it was clear that the cellist was back to her usual self.

“I remember the drink with the umbrella in it.” Octavia put a hoof to her chin in thought. “And the music of course.”

“Anything else?” Bon Bon asked and shot a look over to the stove where she had something cooking.

“No….why?” Octavia was now suddenly worried. “Please don’t tell me that I went dancing.”

The cellist knew full well that some things were not her strong points. Singing and dancing most certainly were beyond her skillset.

“I…uh…well….” Lyra looked over to Bon Bon. The sweetmaker shrugged and quickly trotted over to the stove to shut it off.

Octavia was slowly getting worried. The looks on the other mare’s faces told her that something had happened way worse than just clumsy dancing.

“Tell me.” Octavia braced herself for the answer.

Please don’t tell me that I started singing.

“Well….” Lyra coughed and cleared her throat. “You see, there was a bit of a fight going on.”

“Oh dear….” Octavia’s ears folded down. So Vinyl’s big night had been marred by a fight. She felt bad for her friend.

“A fight that….well… you sort of…uhm…started.” Lyra tried a small smile to disarm the bomb of information she had shared.

“I….what?” For a moment Octavia thought she had misheard. Sure, she had a temper but most certainly wouldn’t start a fight.

“Somepony gave you a drink called an alicorn flip.” Lyra continued her report of last night. “It messes up the head with non-unicorns. You pretty much went on a rampage.”

“Flip…what? Rampage?” Octavia laughed. It was so bizarre it just had to be some kind of joke.

“You picked a fight with a group of ponies and soon the entire club went nuts.” Bon Bon explained further.

“But you weren’t yourself. It was that drink that set you off.” Lyra added.

“You are serious….” Octavia stared blankly at the table top for a moment. “What did Vinyl do?”

“Dove off stage to rush to your aid. Rather heroic if you ask me.” Bon Bon replied and Lyra nodded her head in agreement. “Once we had you under control we all left quickly before the guards could show up.”

“Where is she?” Octavia asked quietly. She suddenly feared that the DJ had chosen not to come back home. Perhaps she was angry with Octavia, something the cellist could understand as it was apparent that she had effectively ruined her friend’s big night.

“Sleeping in her bed.” Lyra replied. She wasn’t fast enough to stop Octavia from bolting towards the unicorns bedroom. “Octavia wait!”


The cellist didn’t listen to Lyra’s protest and slowly opened the door to Vinyl’s bedroom. The curtains had not been drawn closed last night and the sunlight bathed the room in a nice soft warm glow. Perhaps it was because of that light that Vinyl’s state shocked Octavia to her core.

The unicorn was black and blue in spots. It clearly could be seen under her white coat that she had been in the middle of the fight that Lyra had mentioned. What made Octavia gasp in horror was the sight of her friends face once she had circled around the bed.

Vinyl’s left eye had swollen shut and sported a rather unhealthy color. She had neglected to wash the blood from her cut off her face and it had rubbed off on the pillow. The effect made it look far worse than it actually was.

Octavia jumped towards the bedside and feverishly shook Vinyl awake with a hoof.

“Vinyl? Are you ok?” Octavia was panicking. “Please, please, please say something.”

“Ow…ow….OW!” Vinyl stirred awake with small yelps of pain that increased in volume. “Stop, stop! Ow!”

“Sorry, sorry!” Octavia quickly retracted her hoof from the DJ as if she had put it on a hot stove. “Talk to me!”

“You really need to work on ways to wake me up that don’t cause me a lot of pain.” Vinyl briefly chuckled and regretted it immediately. “Ow.”

“Are you ok?” Octavia pacing in front of her friend. Torn between running off to find a doctor and staying to find out if she actually needed one.

“Yeah, just peachy.” Vinyl groaned and she slowly pulled herself into a sitting position.

“I’m sorry, Vinyl!” Octavia stopped her pacing and dove forward pulling the unicorn’s head against her chest with two hooves.

“Ow, ow….watch the head.” Vinyl complained and was released instantly.

“Sorry!” Octavia tried hugging Vinyl and rested her head against the bruised chest of her friend.

“Ow, ow, ow….watch the ribs.”

“Oh dear….I’m so sorry, Vinyl!” Octavia hesitated in grabbing some other part of the DJ in comfort. “Where does it hurt?”

“Heh, everywhere.” Vinyl tried a smile. Thanks to the black eye and the dried blood it looked rather horrifying.

“Where doesn’t it hurt?” Octavia asked with worry.

“My tail is ok.” Vinyl joked and tried to stretch. “Owwww…”

Octavia very gently took Vinyl’s tail in her front hooves and stroked it soothingly. “I’m so so sorry.”

Vinyl briefly toyed with the idea of telling Octavia that her flank was also not hurting. It would however have been a lie. Everything single fiber of her body hurt like mad, but still she felt strangely at peace. Seeing that Octavia was back to her usual self was a huge relief for the unicorn. She laid a hoof on the cellist’s shoulder.

“I’m ok, Tavi.” Vinyl grinned or at least tried to. Her face felt stiff and swollen. “Just got a little banged up. It’s no big deal.”

“But it is!” Octavia didn’t know where to begin with her apology. At a loss on what to do she sighed heavily.

“Let me get cleaned up and have something to eat.” Vinyl noticed the stain on her pillow. “We can talk afterwards.”

Octavia gave her a concerned look, but then nodded in agreement. She helped Vinyl get out of bed and into the bathroom. Once she heard the water running she rejoined Lyra and Bon Bon at the table. Both mares looked at her expectantly.

“How is she?” Bon Bon asked after a moment of silence.

For a moment Octavia did not say anything and just stared at the floor. When she finally looked up they could see a fire burning in her eyes.

“When I find the pony responsible for hurting her like that, I’ll make sure they will regret it for the rest of their lives!” Octavia was furious that somepony had laid a hoof on Vinyl. “I don’t know who they are or where they are, but I will find them. And then I will make them pay!”

Octavia stomped a hoof on the ground with fury. She was an intimidating sight to the two ponies sitting at the table. They shared a look with each other and turned back to the livid cellist.

“Uhm…maybe you should sit down.” Bon Bon suggested carefully.

“Do you know who did that?” Octavia’s piercing look made them flinch back slightly. “You do know! Tell me at once who is responsible!”

Octavia slammed a hoof on the table making the two plates and cups jump a bit. Lyra sighed and pointed to the mirror.

“Take a look.”

“I don’t care about the state of my mane!” Octavia would not waste any time on personal grooming as long as her lust for revenge was not satisfied.

“No, I mean….it was you.” Lyra watched as the gears turned in Octavia’s mind.

“Me? What?” The rage suddenly left the cellist as fast as it had come. She dropped to her haunches and stared at her friends still sitting at the table.

“You sort of freaked out at some point, I mean freaked out more than you already were, and seemed to think Vinyl was some kind of bug.” Bon Bon said slowly.

“You hit her, she fell to the ground and then you tried stomping on her a few more times.” Lyra added carefully.

Octavia just sat there and blinked a few times. As the words slowly sank it, tears started to rise in her eyes.

“I…did….that…” Octavia rubbed a hoof on her foreleg. She suddenly felt an amount of guilt build up in her that dwarfed any other emotion she may have had.

“No real damage done, right?” Lyra tried to stem a possible flood of tears from the cellist. “You weren’t in your right mind. Can’t blame yourself for that.”

The bathroom door opened and Vinyl chose that moment to carefully walk into the room. The shower had restored a bit on energy back into her and the aches and pains were a bit less than before. What didn’t help was the sudden hug she received from a wailing grey earthpony.



The next half hour could have been summarized with Octavia crying and apologizing over and over again, while Vinyl said that it was ok and there were no hard feelings in between exclamations of pain when Octavia touched some sore spot.

Eventually she had calmed Octavia down enough and sat her down at the table. She wisely decided to sit across from her to be out of reach from any well meant but painful hugs or pats. Bon Bon cleared the used dishes away and served them some tea with freshly made waffles.

Breakfast was interrupted every time Octavia laid eyes on Vinyl and began wailing again and saying that she was sorry. It was slowly becoming rather uncomfortable for the DJ.

“Ok, stop!” Vinyl tapped a hoof against the table and regretted it immediately. She still was sore all over and would have to take care to not hurt herself further.

“Listen, Tavi.” Vinyl had the full attention of the cellist, who had a fresh batch of tears flowing down her face. “I know you feel bad, but you shouldn’t. You were not yourself and I am not angry with you or anything. I’m just glad that nothing bad happened.”

“But something bad did happen!” Octavia hiccupped. “I hit you!”

“It was an accident.” Vinyl shook her head. “I have a thick head anyway, so not lasting damage done, ok?”

“I caused you harm.” Octavia sniffled. “I might have even cost you your job.”

That was something Vinyl had thus far totally ignored. She had no idea what her boss would say about the events that had transpired. Would he blame her for it? Would he fire her on the spot for abandoning her place on stage? Vinyl had no idea about any of that and it wouldn’t help thinking about it either. What happened, happened. Possible fallout would be taken care of later, although she should try and get in touch with the club as soon as possible.

“Don’t worry about my job. Let me worry about that.” Vinyl tried a grin. “And see? I’m not worried about it so neither should you.”

Octavia slowly managed to return a bit of a smile. She really didn’t deserve Vinyl’s kind behavior. It dimly flashed in her mind that she was lucky to have somepony like Vinyl in her life. The thought was squished before it could grow by a knock on the front door.

Vinyl was closest to the door and ignored the protests of her friends to remain seated. She hobbled over to the door and took a look through the peephole with her good eye. All color instantly drained from her face, which was a remarkable feat for a white coated pony.

She turned to her friends with panic plainly visible in her face.

“It’s my boss and his henchpony.” She hissed at them, thanking whoever had installed the door to make it soundproof. “Hide!”

“Henchpony?” Octavia raised an eyebrow.

“You don’t mean that huge stallion, do you?” Lyra gave Octavia a sideways glance. “The one that Octavia kicked in the unmentionables?”

“Yes!” Vinyl whispered as loudly as she dared.

“Right….” Lyra slung a hoof around the grey earthpony’s neck. “Let’s go.”


Vinyl watched her friends dart from the room to lock themselves in the bathroom. Then she counted backwards from ten and took a deep breath.

She opened the door just as Big Time was about to knock again. Slowly he lowered his raised hoof and cocked his head to the side while studying Vinyl.

“Seems like they did a real number on you.” He said after a few moments. “Mind if we come in?”

“Uh…sure.” Vinyl made way and watched the small stallion walk past followed closely by the huge stallion. She noticed that Squeak took very ginger steps while walking past her.

Vinyl swallowed hard as she closed the door and joined her boss in the middle of the room. She tried to mask her nervousness as best she could.

“First things first.” Big Time cleared his throat. “I want to say that I am sorry you were involved in that incident last night.”

“Oh, I… uh…I’m ok.” Vinyl answered and tried a smile.

“You most certainly do not look like it.” He gave her a look once over. Large bruises were clearly visible underneath her white coat. The black eye being the most visible damage.

“Nah, it’s ok.” Vinyl shrugged. “Things like that happen.”

“Not in my club!” he snapped and took a moment to compose himself. Vinyl instinctively flinched back and ducked her head low.

“On that subject.” He cleared his throat once more. “You wouldn’t happen to know who started the trouble, would you?”

“Uh…why ask me?” Vinyl didn’t like where this was heading and felt terribly alone suddenly.

“Maybe you saw something from stage?” He asked and gave her a small little smile. The DJ did not like that smile one bit.

“Couldn’t really see much.” Vinyl tried a smile of her own that died quickly after seeing Big Time’s cold steely look. “I had my sunglasses on and with all the lights all I could see were shadows.”

Vinyl began sweating under the unmoving gaze of her boss. It sounded like a good explanation in her mind, but maybe he saw right through her lie.

“I heard you live here with another mare.” Big Time broke his gaze and looked around the room.

The sudden shift in conversation made Vinyl think he knew more than he was telling her. She briefly toyed with the idea of just simply telling him the truth, but a feeling in her gut prevented her from doing so.

“I…uhm…yeah.” Vinyl’s voice briefly broke and she cleared her throat quickly. “Yes, I live here with somepony else.”

In the bathroom, three ears were pressed against the door, very carefully listening to every word being said. They noticed Vinyl’s tone and shared a worried look amongst themselves. Octavia drew a breath and reached for the door handle.

“What are you doing?” Lyra whispered and held Octavia’s hoof away from the door.

“She needs help.” Octavia nodded towards the door. “Besides, I don’t see why I have to hide.”

“You need to hide, because that lumbering hulk of a pony will no doubt bite your head off.” Lyra whispered back harshly. “I’ll go and help her.”

Lyra carefully opened the door and took a gulping breath of air. She wasn’t too bad at acting, so she would pretend she was the mare that Vinyl was living with. An easy task in her book.

“I heard she is an earthpony.” Big Time asked and Lyra froze with one hoof out the door.

“Uhm, yeah.” Vinyl replied not knowing about her friends planned rescue attempt.

“Is she here?” Big Time turned to look at Vinyl once more with an icy look.

“In the bathroom right now.” Vinyl cursed mentally. It would have been easiest to just say that she was alone right now.

Lyra very quickly stepped silently back into the bathroom and turned to Bon Bon.

“You have to go!” she hissed at her marefriend.

“I…what?” Bon Bon shook her head. “I am a terrible actor! They will never believe me!”

“Just pretend Vinyl is me and do what you normally do!” Lyra whispered back. “She needs help out there!”

Bon Bon gulped and took a few deep breaths. She was no good at keeping an act up, but pretending that Vinyl was Lyra would be easier. She nodded once and stepped out of the bathroom.

“Vinyl? Do we have guests?” she asked as she stepped into the living room.

Both stallions looked over at the new arrival and didn’t see Vinyl sigh in relief that her friends were planning to help her out. Now she had somepony beside her and everything would be easier to deal with.

“Yeah, this is my boss, Big Time.” Vinyl said as Bon Bon walked passed them, giving each one a nod in turn, before coming to a stop beside the white unicorn.

“You could have told me that we were expecting guests, dear.” Bon Bon feverishly hoped Vinyl would play along as she kissed her on the lips.

Vinyl froze instantly, her mind trying to understand what was going on. Unlike her body, her mind was racing and something clicked. She hoped she had come up with the right assumptions as she kissed back, momentarily blocking out any possible future complications that may arise.

“I….see…” Big Time glanced over to his bodyguard, who merely shrugged. “I didn’t know it was that kind of living together.”

“Yes, well it is.” Bon Bon had broken the kiss and gave him a steely look of her own. “Is there a problem with that?”

“No, no.” He shook his head. “It is none of my business.”

“You are right about that.” Bon Bon’s snappy answer made Vinyl hold her breath in fear.

“My business is with the pony that started the trouble last night.” He ignored the look Bon Bon was giving him. “Goes by the name of Octavia Philharmonica.” He looked from one mare to the other, carefully studying their faces. “You wouldn’t happen to know her, would you?”

“Wh…why do you ask?” Vinyl managed to croak out.

“Well, you do have her picture on your wall.” He pointed a hoof at the large frame with the magazine articles hanging on the wall.

“Oh that….” Vinyl was luckily a very quick thinker. “I’m on the cover with her. I figured that if anypony would ask me who the other mare is it would be easiest to have her article there to read as well. Besides, she is very attractive and nice to look at.”

Bon Bon, still pretending that the DJ was her marefriend, gave her a look that left no doubt that there would be a very serious talk going to happen later. The amount of jealousy in her look was enough for Big Time to finally accept that they were indeed a couple.

“I see…” Big Time smiled a cruel smile. “Then why is her name downstairs on your mailbox?”

“Uh…” Vinyl’s quick thinking was going into overdrive, trying to come up with any kind of answer. Bon Bon had an idea first.

“It doesn’t.” she stated.

“Yes, it does.” Big Time focused his attention on the beige mare.

“No, it doesn’t.” Bon Bon shook her head. “It actually reads: Octopi play Harmonica.”

For the longest moment nopony said anything. Bon Bon held his gaze with a cool one of her own.

“What?” he finally asked.

“I have terrible writing.” Bon Bon explained. “Octopi play Harmonica. I am currently teaching cuttlefish to play instruments.”

“Underwater?” he asked confused.

“Yes, indeed.” Bon Bon replied casually. Vinyl would have loved to facehoof, bite her nails or do anything. Perhaps jumping out the window would also suffice. Instead she just held her breath.

“There….there is a market for that?” He looked over to Squeak, who once again just shrugged.

“It has very small demand.” Bon Bon replied dryly.

“I see…” Big Time shook his head once to clear the image of underwater musical acts out of his head. “You wouldn’t happen to know where I might be able to find Miss Philharmonica?”

“Why?” Vinyl asked innocently as possible.

“My associate here would like to have a word with her.” Big Time gestured to Squeak with a hoof.

“Well, I did talk to her yesterday at the club.” Vinyl answered and saw a way to pull Octavia out of the fire. “She said it was her last day here in Manehatten and that she would be moving to Canterlot this morning. Something about getting a place in the Canterlot Orchestra.”

“That is….unfortunate for us, but fortunate for her.” Big Time seemed slightly disappointed. Squeak didn’t change his expression at all, but a small stamp with his right hindleg told of his displeasure at getting a chance to talk to the violent mare from yesterday.

“Uhm… Mister Big Time, Sir.” Vinyl decided to change the topic quickly. “When should I come back to the club?” Vinyl hoped that she still even had a job at this point.

“It will take a few days for it to be up and running again.” Big Time explained and slowly moved towards the front door. “You could do with a few days rest anyway. When you are back on your hooves come and see me in my office.”

“Will do, thank you.” Vinyl was happy to hear that her job was still secure.

Squeak lumbered past Vinyl and Bon Bon to open the door for his boss. With a nod to the two mares Big Time left the apartment, Squeak following just a moment later and closing the door.

For a few seconds neither Bon Bon nor Vinyl dared even breathe. They both let out their breath in a long sigh, when it was clear that the two stallions had indeed left.

“You can come out now.” Vinyl said towards the bathroom.

Almost instantly Lyra appeared and frowned at the two mares. Octavia followed a moment later with a more neutral expression.

“I got that, you know?” Lyra pointed a hoof at Vinyl.

“Me? What did I do?” Vinyl frowned right back at the other unicorn.

“Kissing my mare like that. I heard everything.” Lyra stomped up to the two mares.

“She didn’t kiss me, Lyra.” Bon Bon held a hoof out to stop the mint green mare. “I kissed her.”

“Did you now….” Lyra shifted her attention towards Bon Bon.

“You said to pretend she was you!” Bon Bon huffed. “I just acted like I always do with you!”

“That’s how it is, is it?” Lyra rubbed her chin in thought.

“Don’t play the angry card, Lyra. I can see you are trying to hide a smirk.” Bon Bon rolled her eyes. Lyra was very easy to read for the sweetmaker.

“Heh, you got me.” Lyra did indeed smirk and Vinyl relaxed. For a moment she feared a full blown argument would erupt. “Tell you what, we’ll call it even after this.”

Before Bon Bon could say anything or react, a very surprised Vinyl found herself once more the recipient of a kiss. This time from Lyra and unlike before Vinyl did not kiss back, but rather tried to push the mare away.

“Well what do ya know….” Lyra said after breaking off the surprise kiss. “You don’t taste like marshmallows.”

“Lyra!” Bon Bon pushed the unicorn away from the rather perplexed DJ. “What are you doing?”

“We’re even now.” Lyra simply stated and nodded once.

Octavia watched the little show with very mixed feelings. Part of her found it amusing, but another part of her was feeling jealous. She did not quite know what to make of that feeling and why she was feeling it in the first place.

Had Vinyl been paying attention to the cellist she might have seen the confused look on her face, instead her mind was racing once more. This time about the things her employer had said in regards to Octavia.

As annoying as it was, she would have to exclude Octavia from any visits to her performances in the future. But what if Big Time found out that Octavia was still in town? It was a sticky situation that required a lot more thought and some kind of good plan from keeping Big Time and Octavia apart.

Vinyl sighed. Somehow there always some kind of problem to be dealt with.

Chapter 23

View Online

The weekend had gone by in a blur.

Vinyl had become thoughtful after Lyra and Bon Bon had left. Everytime Octavia asked her what she was thinking about, the DJ just shrugged and said it had to do with her music.

Octavia didn’t believe her. She knew the unicorn well enough to know that she would do all her music related things while at her deck. Vinyl didn’t even touch her deck once, but rather just stayed on the couch or in bed.

The cellist did her best to care for her. She was still feeling huge amounts of guilt for having physically hurt her friend. Despite Vinyl’s protests she did all the chores by herself and forbade Vinyl from lifting a hoof until she was better.

There were other things on Octavia’s mind beside guilt. She had thought about the feeling of jealousy she had felt when Lyra had kissed Vinyl. After long thought she came to the conclusion that it was a feeling that she had felt on Bon Bon’s behalf, even though the beige mare had displayed no such emotion during the events.

It surely couldn’t have any other kind reason, right?

She wasn’t good thinking about those kind of things, as she had never wasted a single thought on it ever before. The talk with her mother briefly surfaced in her mind every so often. Coupled with the fact that Vinyl had called her attractive, made her think a bit more about the DJ in a different light.

Perhaps Vinyl’s words had been simply something uttered to fool her boss. But what if they had not been? What if she had meant it? What if Vinyl was like Bon Bon and Lyra? Interested in mares, rather than stallions. Did it make a difference?

The unicorn had never tried anything that might suggest that their relationship was anything more than just friendship. Octavia most certainly didn’t see it as anything else or did she?

Octavia sat on her bed and groaned at the swirling thoughts in her mind. She felt like her head was stuffed with too much thoughts and it was beginning to give her a headache.

Focus, Octavia!

She took a few deep breaths while rubbing her head with her hooves. It was Monday and she was expected to be at work very soon. The thought of playing music barged through the mass of other tangled thoughts. It was a welcome change and she sought refuge in the knowledge that she would soon be playing again. It would clear her mind and she could resume her contemplations about Vinyl at a later time.

With a small grunt she hopped off her bed and trotted over to her already prepared cello in its case. With ease she shouldered it and trotted out her room. As per usual Vinyl was already ready and waiting for her.

“You don’t have to walk me to work, Vinyl.” Octavia gave her friend a small smile. “You’re not well and should rest.”

“But I’ll be outside in the fresh air.” Vinyl countered and turned towards the front door. “You can’t deny that it will do me good.”

“I guess that is true.” Octavia followed her friend out of the apartment and down the stairs.

The trip to her place of work went in silence. Octavia walked slowly on purpose as it was clear that Vinyl still was feeling rather sore all over and she was seemingly once again lost in her thoughts. The cellist still felt it would have been wise to consult a doctor, but Vinyl denied needing any kind of special attention.

“I’ll pick you up this evening.” Vinyl said with a grin. “See you later and have fun.”

“See you later, Vinyl.” Octavia would have liked it better if Vinyl would stay home and rest, but the unicorn could be stubborn as a mule.

With a last glance over her shoulder Octavia entered the building and shoved every thought out of her mind that had nothing to do with music.


“Well then!” Ictus appeared on stage. He was fifteen minutes late, which was very surprising to the musicians. If one of them had been only half a minute late he would have verbally assaulted them instantly.

The musicians exchanged curious glances amongst each other, as Ictus was smiling. And not a cruel smile reserved for snide comments, but rather one of joy or maybe even pride.

“I have some very good news!” He stood behind his conductors stand and took his time to look at each musician for a moment. “I have no idea how we managed to pull it off, but I have received the information this morning that we will be performing this year for Princess Celestia.”

A gasp went through the musicians as their faces lit up with excitement. Octavia couldn’t help but grin wide. Ictus shut down any possible chatter instantly.

“Now you know that we will have to work even harder than before.” He levitated a baton out of the box beside the stand and tapped it against the stand. “This is a very high honor for us and we must not embarrass ourselves with the mediocre performance we have thus far displayed.”

Ictus ignored the long faces now glaring at him and continued with a smug grin.

“But thanks to my instructions and Octavia’s ability, I’m sure we can leave a lasting impression. A positive lasting impression.” He tapped the baton once more against the stand. “You will find the piece that we are supposed to play on page one six two.”

After a moment the musicians had turned to the correct page and began playing the piece. It was a piece of music that Princess Celestia requested every year. A tale about two princes that are separated by war raging in their land. From a musical perspective the piece had everything one could hope for as a musician. Slow sad parts, happy joyful parts and bombastic thundering parts for the scenes of battle. Octavia had heard it once a long time ago. To play it in front of Celestia would be a very high honor and a huge chance at making herself known.

Twenty minutes later she was still grinning to herself.


“Would you please….PLEASE….just play the notes in front of you?” Ictus turned to one of the violinists.

“I’m sorry, but….” the musician shrank back as Ictus glared at him. Nopony talked back to him, unless they didn’t mind having their head chewed off verbally. “But I am to follow right after the lyre stops playing. We don’t have a lyre.”

Ictus continued to just stare at him for a few seconds longer. All ponies were holding their breath for any possible outburst by the conductor.

“Use….your….imagination!” Ictus snarled his response and turned his attention to the other very silent ensemble. “Yes, I know we need a lyre, so don’t even mention that again. I have a few candidates, but have not yet decided which one to take.”

He cleared his throat and instructed them to start over. Octavia felt she should put in a good word for Lyra, but she didn’t want to do so in front of everypony. Once they were finished she would talk to Ictus.

Thirteen outbursts by Maestro Ictus later the day came to a close. Only six batons had been broken and he only applauded Octavia’s abilities three more times, a new kind of record. As the ensemble packed up Octavia saw her chance to talk to Ictus alone. She quickly packed up her cello and trotted after him towards his office.

“Maestro?” she called out to him and saw that he stopped on his way. He turned to her with a scowl, but his features turned a bit more friendly when he saw who it was.

“Octavia, I was actually hoping to talk to you. Must have forgotten about that during this day’s awful display of so called talent.”

“I wanted to talk to you about the lyrist.” Octavia smiled politely.

“Yes, yes. Don’t worry about that.” Ictus waved a hoof. “I have decided who to take, but I will have to make preparations first. Now….about your part.”

Octavia wanted to ask more about the chosen lyrist, but his shift towards her part in the orchestra made her pause.

“You know the piece we are playing?” he asked, but already knew the answer. “Of course you do. It’s about the bridge scene.”

Octavia knew the scene he was referring to. A slow sad piece and turned into a joyous melody that was played by only the lead cellist. Her heart thumped with excitement at the prospect of playing it.

“As you know every bridge scene is unique, as it is custom for the lead cellist to write and perform it herself.” Ictus smiled. Octavia’s heart skipped a beat and her blood turned to icewater. “I must say that I am really looking forward to hearing it and have only one request.”

“I…I…” Octavia didn’t know what to say as a problem had just popped up that she had struggled with in the past.

“I wish to be surprised by your music, so we will not be hearing that scene until that very evening.” He either didn’t notice her horrified expression or chose to ignore it. “I have complete confidence in your abilities and am sure you will leave a lasting impression. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some things that need taken care of.”

Octavia stood where she was with wide eyes and flattened ears. The excitement that had coursed through her veins during the day had evaporated into thin air. Now she felt her chance of being at the top once again slip away, all because of her inability to create her own music. She suddenly felt like crying and her legs became wobbly.


The thought of her friend shook her out of the beginning breakdown. Vinyl knew about her problem and had tried to help her before to overcome it. Perhaps she would have some kind of good idea on what to do.

Octavia spun around and trotted quickly outside. She sighed in relief as she saw the white unicorn standing at the bottom of the stairs waiting for her. A twinge of guilt hit her as she saw her bruised friend and that she would have to ask her to do her a favor.

Vinyl sensed something was going on as Octavia looked less than happy. She met her halfway up the stairs.

“What’s wrong, Tavi?”

“I’ll tell you at home.” Octavia didn’t want any other ponies to know about her lack of creativity. “I have a bit of a problem.”

Octavia led the way in a brisk trot, but slowed down almost immediately as she remembered the state of her friend. She used the time home to tell her about the day leading up to the talk with Ictus.


Once at home she quickly put her cello into the music room and then returned to the living room. One look around the place told her that Vinyl had not been lying down, but had rather chosen to clean up. Octavia frowned and turned to her friend.

“Didn’t I ask you to not do anything while you are recovering?” She tried to sound angry, but it turned out to be more in the tone of pleading.

“I just did a little bit.” Vinyl shrugged. “Can’t just do nothing.”

Vinyl had kept herself busy during the day. It distracted her from her aches and pains and enabled her to think about Octavia and her little escapade in the club. Now it seemed as if something else was bothering her friend or did it have something to do with Big Time? Vinyl was getting nervous and would have loved to pace about, but now everything hurt again and she decided it was best to just sit and wait.

“What’s going on, Tavi?”

Octavia quickly explained the new information that had been given to her at work. Vinyl paid attention waiting for some kind of startling revelation.

“The piece of music I told you about? It has a scene called the bridge.” Octavia explained finally and sat down opposite the DJ. “I have just found out that it is written by the cellist performing and it is supposed to be something unique everytime.”

“Oh…..uhm…hmmm.” Vinyl knew what her problem was. It was a bit of a relief for her as she feared a lot worse had happened. “Yeah, ok. So it’s that old problem.”

“What should I do? This could be my big chance and I will blow it, because I am too stupid to make my own music.” Octavia felt her eyes fill with tears.

“Oh, no, no, no.” Vinyl quickly scooted a bit closer to her friend and laid a hoof on her shoulder. “Don’t cry, Tavi. It’s nothing to get worked up over.”

“Nothing?” Octavia scrunched up her nose, trying to stop the dam from breaking. “It’s possibly everything, Vinyl!”

“Just…just take a deep breath ok?” Vinyl used the moment in which Octavia complied with her wishes to come up with a brilliant plan. Unfortunately nothing really came to mind. “If I can make music, then you can too! We just have to find a way that suits you doing just that.”

“You think that is possible?” Octavia gave the unicorn a hopeful small smile.

“I bet next week you will be writing entire symphonies by yourself.” Vinyl patted her friend on the shoulder. “And I’ll be there to help you all the way.”

Octavia’s smile grew larger and she sighed. Having Vinyl give her those words of confidence did indeed do wonders for her current mood. “Thank you, Vinyl.”

“Don’t mention it.” Vinyl lightly gave her a shove with a hoof. “Why don’t you have a relaxing bath now to ease away the stressful day?”

“Sounds good.” Octavia stood up and slowly walked towards the bathroom. Halfway there she paused and turned to her friend. “Don’t do anything until I’m back out.”

Vinyl gave her a quick salute and stayed where she was. The DJ had not planned to do anything anyway, at least not physically. Her thoughts ran rampant once Octavia closed the door to the bathroom.

Vinyl had possibly promised more than she could deliver. They had tried to unlock Octavia’s ability to write music before with no success. And now it wasn’t just something nice to have, but was needed for her to make it on stage. Vinyl had a few ideas stowed away in the back of her mind from their efforts earlier. Perhaps now was the time to use them and see if they would help her friend.

The only problem with that was time. There was a lot to prepare and Vinyl would be essentially working two jobs at once. She sighed as an idea from that morning surfaced back up. Before she had just dismissed it, but now things looked different.

As Octavia finished her bath, Vinyl had come to a decision and knew what she would have to do. She had promised to get Octavia into the Royal Canterlot Orchestra after all, no matter her own cost. It seemed as if her number was now up and she hoped that she was doing the right thing.

Octavia stepped into the living room with a pink towel wrapped around her mane and tail and smiled at Vinyl still sitting where she had left her. It was most certainly the most adorable thing Vinyl had seen all day.

Yeah, it’s worth it…

Chapter 24

View Online

“You sure about this?” Big Time carefully watched the pony sitting in front of his desk.

“Yes, Sir.” Vinyl’s response was quiet, but her voice remained firm.

For a couple of heartbeats neither pony spoke or even moved. Vinyl remained upright and didn’t flinch at the hard look her boss was giving her.

She had spent the time after Octavia had gone to bed to do some serious thinking. Thanks to that she had very little sleep last night, but copious amounts of coffee had woken her up enough to deal with the decisions she had made. She could sleep once all had been taken care of.

Her first step was to meet her boss after she had dropped Octavia off at work. He had not been to keen on what she had proposed, but Vinyl had made up her mind. If he refused her suggestion she would have a few more options up her sleeve.

“It’s your call.” Big Time nodded after a good two minutes of silent contemplation. “I’ll get the contract ready for you.”

“Thank you, Sir.” Vinyl remained motionless while her boss wrote up a new contract for her. There wasn’t anything more to be said and Vinyl didn’t feel too much like talking now. There would be more than enough talking with the next pony on her list anyway.

Ten minutes later Vinyl left the club and set out to her next target, hoping things would turn out the way she planned.


Vinyl had been given the address by Big Time and it only took her half an hour to reach it. Overall the building was in the better area of Manehatten and she was well aware of the looks she received from the few ponies out and about.

She found the apartment quickly and held up the contract over the peephole in the door. Three sharp knocks on the door later she held her breath and strained to hear any kind of activity from behind the door. A couple of knocks later a voice gruffly barked from within.

“Don’t get your damn mane in a twist, I’m coming!”

Vinyl kept the peephole blocked and drew her right forehoof back. She took a deep breath and readied herself for when the door opened.

A couple of locks were opened and then finally the door swung open. Vinyl immediately thrust her hoof forward and hit the occupant with full force on the chin.

Neon Lights stumbled backwards into his home, Vinyl closely following him and shutting the door behind her.

“What the bucking buck?!” Neon Lights took a few steps back from his assailant and shook his head to clear away the stars.

Vinyl stayed where she was and shook her now hurting hoof. She deemed it best to have an easy escape if Neon decided to fight back. With her magic she took off her sunglasses and rested them on top of her head. She hoped an angry glare with crimson eyes would halt any possible retaliation by the stallion.

“What the…Vinyl?!” Neon had opened an eye and hardly believed that it was her who had assaulted him. “Why the hay did you do that? Have you lost…uh….what happened to you?”

It took a moment for him to properly register the state the other unicorn was in. His aggressive stance changed into a more cautious one instead.

“Got into a fight.” Vinyl explained shortly and stepped away from the door. It seemed as if Neon would not be putting up a fight.

“Did she do that to you?” Neon rubbed his cheek and there was a small amount of sympathy in his voice.

“Huh?” It took a moment for Vinyl to realize that he was referring to Lyra. “No, it wasn’t her.”

“Just wanted to make sure. That mare is a total psycho!”

“I had not planned to hit you again, but talk like that about my friends and I’ll reconsider it!” Vinyl warned and watched him slowly turn towards the small alcove where the little kitchen was located.

“And why the buck did you hit me in the first place?” Neon trotted over to his refrigerator and took out a cool can of soda that he then pressed against his aching chin.

“You had it coming for a long time and I had to get it out of my system.” Vinyl followed him, but kept some distance between them.

“Great, now you had your fun and can leave.” Neon nodded towards the door.

“I’m here for something else.” Vinyl waved the contract a bit that she still held in her magical grasp. “You owe me something.”

“What?” Neon jumped to his own conclusions quickly. “If it’s because of your bits then you are out of luck. I got fired on the weekend, because I got too friendly with my managers niece.”

So I have the advantage….

“You owe me a bit more than just bits.” Vinyl pointed a hoof a Neon who just flinched the tiniest amount possible. “You also used my music to make a name for yourself.”

“Maybe.” Neon halted any possible objection by Vinyl before she could voice it. “But you already have it back. What more do you want from me?”

“I have an offer for you.” Vinyl waved the contract once more.

“If it involves the bedroom I’m all ears.” Neon grinned and regretted it instantly because of his hurting chin.

“I didn’t plan on hitting you some more, but if you keep it up I most certainly will.” Vinyl replied with plenty of venom in her voice. Wisely Neon kept his mouth shut and waited for the DJ to say something else.

Vinyl took a deep breath. What she had to offer wasn’t something she had easily dismissed, but in the light of current circumstances she saw no other way.

“I want you to play my music at Big Time’s club.”

For a moment Neon just stared at her, then he laughed.

“This is some kind of joke right?” Neon opened the can of soda he had been holding and took a sip.

“No joke.” Vinyl levitated the contract over to him. “I want you to play my music in the club. I had Big Time make this contract for us. All you have to do is sign.”

“Why me?” Neon asked after casually glancing through the contract in front of him.

“You already know how to play my music.” Vinyl replied icily. “That saves me time to teach a new DJ how to play my stuff. And I hate to admit it, but you are not without some talent.”

Vinyl knew she had said something wrong as Neon’s puzzled frown turned into a slimy grin. Very slowly he put down his can of soda and read the contract more thoroughly.

“What about the pay?” he asked after finishing reading the contract.

“Fifty – Fifty. I get billing on the posters and you cannot claim any of my stuff as your own.” Vinyl summarized what was written down.

“Seventy – Thirty.” Neon replied immediately.

“No way.” Vinyl shook her head. “We both know that my music is better than yours. All you have to do is play it.”

“Ah, maybe….but…” Neon took a long sip of his drink and enjoyed the view of Vinyl now looking not too happy. “You seem to have a time issue.”

“What makes you think that?” Vinyl bluffed, but it was obvious that Neon saw through it as his smile grew wider.

“You said yourself you could teach a new DJ how to play your stuff, but instead you chose to come here to me. If you had the time you wouldn’t even come talk to me, so you need me now.”

Vinyl was briefly considering wiping that disgusting smile from his face with her hoof. She knew that it wouldn’t solve her problem and that she was in no shape whatsoever for a fullblown fight.

“Fifty five – Fourty five.” She growled through clenched teeth.

“Sixty – Fourty.” Neon put the contract down and just kept smiling at her. “My last offer, Scratch. ‘Cause we are such good friends.”

Vinyl was in a bind. Her plans had hinged on him even accepting her offer. He had done so, but now there was the issue of payment. Bits always seemed to cause some kind of problem.

It’s only bits….

“Deal.” Vinyl growled and levitated the contract over to add the changes with a pen she had brought along. With more force than necessary she signed the contract and levitated it back to Neon Lights.

He read the contract once more and then signed it. Vinyl took both the contract and the pen away from him and stowed them into her saddlebag.

“I’ll drop these off at the club.” Vinyl explained and donned her sunglasses. “It’s being renovated right now, but will open up next Monday again. You have the prime time shift at nine o’clock.”

Vinyl’s instructions were short and she just wanted to get out of this place as fast as possible. Away from his slimy smile and the fact that she had given him the exclusive rights to play her music.

“Vinyl, wait.” Neon wasn’t smiling anymore, now he was watching her with curiosity.

“What?” Vinyl stopped on her way to the door.


“Like you said, I don’t have the time to look for somepony else.” Vinyl answered his short question.

“No, that’s not what I meant.” Neon shook his head and moved closer to her. “All the time I have know you, all you ever wanted to do was to be on stage and make ponies dance. I saw it myself a few times back in university and I heard that you rocked your club. Why the change? Why give all that up?”

Vinyl just stared at him not knowing if she should even give him an answer. Eventually she sighed and opened the door. As she walked through she turned back to him to answer his question.

“Some things are more important to me.” She didn’t bother to hear his reply and closed the door.

It was done.

The toughest part had been taken care of, now all she had to do was to give the contract back to Big Time and then take care of the rest she had planned.


Three hours later Vinyl had done what she had needed to do.

She had left her apartment once more to buy some groceries and there she had bumped into a rather elated Lyra. The mint green mare didn’t waste any time and more or less dragged her friend into their usual meeting spot in the café.

Vinyl didn’t object, the day thus far had been stressful and she welcomed at least one friendly face. As they sat down for something to drink, Lyra could hardly sit still in her seat.

“What happened to you? Having some kind of sugar rush?” Vinyl asked and took a sip from her hazelnut milkshake.

“I got the part!” Lyra grinned from ear to ear.

“You…huh….oh you mean the lyrist part in Tavi’s orchestra?” Vinyl also had to grin, this was at least some good news.

“Yep! I’ll start tomorrow!” Lyra finally settled down a bit and took a large gulp of her strawberry milkshake.

“That’s awesome!” Vinyl offered her hoof to bump, which Lyra of course immediately did. They sipped their drinks in silence for a moment.

“So….getting any special patient treatment from Octavia?” Lyra winked at Vinyl and grinned.

“Nope.” Vinyl shook her head. “I’m just happy she doesn’t break out in tears every time she looks at me. Although she nearly did do so yesterday.”

“Yeah, you do look horrible.” Lyra grinned, but leaned forward with interest. “Something bad happen?”

Vinyl briefly told Lyra about the piece of music they would be playing for Celestia and the part Octavia would have to play in all of it.

“That is a bit of a problem.” Lyra stroked her chin in thought. “Don’t know what to suggest. Either you have the ability to write music or you don’t I guess.”

“I figure she just needs the right way of going about it.” Vinyl explained after another sip of her drink. “I was up and about all morning in preparation for helping her with that.”

“What do you have in mind?” Lyra asked, genuinely curious at what her friend had planned.

“I got a lot of books by all kinds of musicians. I’ll try and find something in them that might help her.”

“Books? How many are we talking about?” Lyra raised an eyebrow in question.

“I think there were a hundred and eighty-something. I sort of lost count after a while.” Vinyl shrugged.

“That’s a lot of books.” Lyra’s questioning look didn’t faze. “When do you plan to read them all? That concert for the Princess is only a bit more than three months away and with both of you going to work that’ll be tough.”

“I…uh…don’t really have to work right now.” Vinyl explained and looked into her milkshake while trying to avoid the now thoroughly perplexed look from Lyra.

“You…come again? You don’t have to work?” Lyra quickly came up with her own answer. “You got fired? But your boss seemed ok with you going to work again.”

“No, I did not get fired.” Vinyl found Lyra’s look rather uncomfortable. “I sort of took actions to free up some time.”

“Actions? What kind of actions?” Lyra eyed the other unicorn with a bad feeling rising in her stomach. The fact that Vinyl didn’t want to look her in the eye made the feeling even worse.

“I sort of…uhm…asked another DJ to play my music.” Vinyl felt it was best to not mention Neon Lights. “I get payed for my music, but don’t actually play myself. Like…like that I have more time to help Octavia.”

Neither pony spoke for a good half minute. Vinyl was very well aware that Lyra was just gaping at her with an open mouth. It had become very uncomfortable for Vinyl and she was slowly turning sour. She jumped a little as Lyra finally reacted by slamming her hoof on the table making their drinks wobble.

“Have you lost your bucking mind?!” Lyra thrust a hoof towards Vinyl. “What the….what the bucking hay, Vinyl?!”

“No, I haven’t lost my bucking mind, thank you very much!” Vinyl’s mood shifted to a more confrontational one. “I know what I am doing.”

“I seriously doubt that! Why would you do something like that?”

“Octavia needs my help and all I’m doing is making some free time to do just that.” Vinyl defended herself with a bit more bite in her voice.

“Vinyl, you are now doing something that I warned you about.” Lyra chuckled without humor. “I warned you that you would get hurt the way things were going. Hay, even your dad said the same damn thing. And now you are doing it, you are hurting yourself!” Lyra tapped her hoof on the table. “Yes, Octavia may need help, but she is a grown up mare that can take care of herself. You cannot just throw away your own career and ambitions because of her!”

“You are one to talk.” Vinyl thrust her own hoof now towards the unicorn opposite her. “You did the same thing!”

“I…what?” Lyra frowned at the accusation.

“You gave up your spot in the Royal Canterlot Orchestra for Bon Bon!” Vinyl ground her teeth as Lyra rolled her eyes.

“Yeah, I did that.” Lyra nodded her head in agreement. “After long thought and…”

“I thought about it a lot as well!” Vinyl interrupted, but Lyra ignored it and continued.

“And I talked to Bon Bon about it. It was one of the toughest decisions I had to make, but we both wanted to be together and were willing to do whatever it took to make that happen!”

“So? Where’s the difference?” Vinyl interrupted once more.

Lyra briefly paused and stared at Vinyl through squinted eyes. Vinyl could almost feel the other unicorn’s temper rising.

“The difference…” Lyra continued with a much calmer tone than Vinyl had expected. “The difference is that Bon Bon and I were a couple when we faced that challenge. I really hate to say this Vinyl, but you and Octavia are not a couple. As long as she doesn’t know how you feel, that won’t change. You love her, I know and I can see that, but the way it is it simply isn’t worth throwing away everything you work for.”

“She is worth it!” Vinyl snapped back. A small part in the back of her mind agreed with Lyra, but was drowned out by the much larger part that didn’t want to know anything about that.

“You know what?” Lyra began to rummage through her saddlebag with a free hoof. “I have had it with you two. It’s about time you came clean with her and see what happens, because it sure is better than going down the path you are on now.”

“What are you doing?” Vinyl tried grabbing some part of Lyra to keep her seated.

“I am going to tell her, as it is pretty obvious you can’t.” Lyra continued to search for something in her bag, while Vinyl’s stomach suddenly dropped into a pit.

“You can’t do that!” Vinyl finally caught Lyra’s foreleg with a hoof.

“Don’t tell me what I can or can’t do.” Lyra’s response was very quiet. “It’s the best solution.”

“No, no…it isn’t.” Vinyl held on to Lyra, her own temper now flaring up once more. “Why do you care anyway?”

“Buck you, Vinyl!” Lyra gave her a very angry look and shook Vinyl’s hold on her away. “I care, because we are friends and I can’t watch a friend throw everything in her life away for some pursuit that is pretty much doomed from the start, sorry.”

Vinyl swallowed hard at the words from Lyra’s mouth. They had stung in more ways than one and she refused to listen to them. Slightly deflated she once again tried to grab Lyra’s foreleg, but she avoided her easily.

“It’s….it’s my life Lyra.” Vinyl almost took on a pleading tone. “Good or bad decisions, I am the one to live with the consequences. Octavia doesn’t need to know and if you are my friend, then you won’t tell her anything.”

For a very long time Lyra just stared at the white unicorn, her face a mixture of anger and disbelief. Very slowly Lyra averted her eyes and finished rummaging through her bag by taking out a couple of bits for her drink and putting them on the table. Without looking at Vinyl she stood up and put on her saddlebags.

“Are you my friend, Lyra?” Vinyl asked quietly causing the other mare to pause for a moment in her movements.

“Screw you, Scratch.”

Lyra left after saying those words quietly. Vinyl had no other option, but to watch her leave. The feeling in her stomach now was almost painful as she didn’t know what Lyra would do. She let her head rest on the table’s surface and suddenly felt like crying. Vinyl felt very alone and wished she had a friend at her side, the tragic thing about it being that she had possibly just lost one.


Octavia’s day was over and as always Vinyl was already waiting for her outside of the building. Unlike her usual cheerful self, this time the unicorn seemed rather sullen.

“Hello, Vinyl.” Octavia greeted her friend and immediately set the course for home.

“Hey, Tavi.” Vinyl’s response sounded tired. Octavia mused that she was still feeling the effects of the incident at the club. She decided to try and cheer her friend up with some very good news she had received today. “Guess what, I know who our new lyrist is going to be.”

“Yeah, it’s Lyra.” Vinyl answered a lot less enthusiastic about the news than Octavia had reckoned with. She also noticed that Vinyl seemed to try not to put too much pressure on her right front hoof.

“Oh, you already know?”

“I met with her this afternoon again and she told me.” Vinyl’s answer sounded a bit bitter to Octavia.

“Again?” Octavia had picked up on that word immediately. “Oh, do you often meet up?”

“Every once in a while.” Vinyl shrugged and seemed not willing to share any more information. Octavia quickly came up with an answer as to why that was.

“Uhm…does Bon Bon know?” Octavia suddenly had the image in her head of Lyra kissing Vinyl.

“What?” Vinyl gave her friend a puzzled look before realizing what Octavia was implying. “Oh, no. It’s nothing like that. We just got together once in a while to chat. I’m not interested in Lyra. Or Bon Bon for that matter.”

Octavia noted that Vinyl had not explicitly stated she wasn’t interested in mares. It was something that for some reason kept sticking in her mind like tar.

“Perhaps we should visit them? Have a little celebration?” Octavia suggested and very well was aware of Vinyl flinching at the suggestion.

“No, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Vinyl turned her head away from the cellist.

“Why not?”

“Lyra is…most likely preparing for tomorrow. We don’t want to mess up her first day.” Vinyl explained quickly.

“Yes, I guess you are right.” Octavia nodded once, but kept an eye on Vinyl. Something was off with the DJ, apart from the bruises and limping of course. “Are you ok?”

“Yeah, sure.” Vinyl quickly answered and tried a smile. One look at Octavia told her that the cellist wasn’t buying her answer. “No….”

“What’s wrong?” Octavia stopped and Vinyl had no choice but to stop as well. “I noticed you are limping.”

“I just missed a step earlier.” Vinyl would not share the truth that she had hurt her hoof while punching Neon Lights.

“Should we go to a doctor?” Octavia tried her best to remember where the next available doctor was from their position in the city.

“No, it’s ok.” Vinyl shook her head. “I’m just really tired. It was tough day for me.”

“Are you sure?” Octavia studied her friend closely.

“Don’t worry about me, Tavi.” Vinyl grinned halfheartedly. “Besides, I have something for you back home.”

Vinyl set the pace towards their home once more and Octavia kept an eye on her friend for any signs of discomfort. The rest of the trip went in silence, both ponies lost in their own thoughts.


“Tadaaa!” Vinyl announced her surprise as their entered their home.

An enormous pile of books was stacked on the kitchen table. Octavia’s surprise at the unexpected sight turned into an angry frown.

“I thought I told you not to do anything too taxing!” Octavia turned to her friend with worry clearly visible on her face. “You aren’t well and should rest!”

“It wasn’t taxing.” Vinyl hobbled over to the couch after closing the front door. “Just a couple of books, that’s all.”

“Vinyl….” Octavia stopped herself from chastising the other mare. She knew Vinyl well enough to know that it wouldn’t stop her and the damage had already been done. With a sigh she cast a glance over the assembled books. “Why so many? And what are they about?”

“I figured it might help you if we learned more about other composers. Perhaps learning how they created music can help you with yours.” Vinyl explained and dumped her saddlebags beside the couch. With a grunt she flopped down and let out a sigh of relief.

“That’s….” Octavia just stared at the pile of literature momentarily speechless. “That’s a good idea, but you shouldn’t have bought all of them at once.”

“No problem.” Vinyl took off her sunglasses and put them on her saddlebags.

“Thank you, Vinyl.” Octavia smiled at her friend. “But you still shouldn’t have done all that on your own.”

“Anything for you, Tavi.” Vinyl grinned, a genuine sign this time.

Octavia trotted into the music room to put down her cello. One quick trip to her bedroom to remove her bowtie and one to the bathroom to freshen up later, she returned to the living room area. Vinyl was off the couch again and messing about in the kitchen. Octavia quietly stomped a hoof on the floor.

Why won’t she just take it easy?

Knowing that she couldn’t remove Vinyl from the kitchen even if she tried, she decided to help her with dinner preparations. Together they quickly made some noodles with fresh tomato sauce and grated cheese. There was barely any space left on the table to eat, but somehow they managed to finish their meal while being wedged in between books.

“Shall we begin?” Vinyl asked after they had cleared their empty plates away and nodded to the books.


Octavia was thoroughly engrossed in the book about Marezart she was currently reading. For the last couple of hours they had each read or skimmed through plenty of books, hoping for some kind of technique to unlock Octavia’s creative side.

They had divided the books into two smaller piles on the floor. With legs tucked under their bodies the two ponies had also taken up position on the floor, Vinyl facing the opposite direction to Octavia to keep the books from mixing up. Not much was said as both began reading, the silence only interrupted by the sound of pages turning.

Slowly even that sound didn’t reach Octavia’s ears anymore as she became more and more absorbed in her book. She had of course learned about the composers during her time in university, but these books went into much more detail describing their lives and characters.

Octavia hadn’t even noticed that Vinyl wasn’t turning any pages anymore. The stressful day had tired the unicorn out and sometime in the middle of her third book she had fallen asleep. It wasn’t too cold, but Vinyl always liked to be wrapped up in a nice comfy blanket or cover to keep cozy. Unconsciously she slowly inched towards the only source of heat available to her.

Octavia’s head whipped around as she suddenly felt Vinyl moving not only towards her, but also on to her. The sleeping unicorn had flopped over Octavia’s lower back with her chest resting on the cellists right flank. Vinyl’s head came to a rest in the middle of Octavia’s back facing the earthpony.

Octavia was about to question what her friend was doing, when she noticed that the unicorn was fast asleep. For a moment Octavia didn’t breathe or move. Her body had tensed up at the sudden touch, but very slowly relaxed.

She wasn’t very accustomed to physical touch with other ponies. A few hugs between close friends or family was the greatest of physical contact she had in the past. As a foal she would sometimes snuggle up between her parents when a nasty nightmare caused her distress, but that was a long time ago.

Of course there was that little incident not too long ago where she had woken up holding Vinyl in a vice grip, but that was an accident. It might have been the best sleep she had ever had in a very long time, but it was still just a harmless accident that wouldn’t repeat itself…..right?

Octavia watched the unicorn sleep soundly for a moment or two. Even with the large black eye and various smaller bruises, she looked so peaceful that Octavia didn’t dare disturb her. Vinyl had been through a lot, almost all of it somehow because of the cellist. Surely there was no harm in just letting her lay there for a moment or two longer. It was rather comforting to the cellist and made her feel more protected in a way.

The cellist turned her attention back to her book. After a few minutes it became rather difficult to concentrate on the words before her. She could feel the slow and steady breathing of Vinyl on the back of her neck. With every breath Vinyl’s chest pressed against her flank.

It’s getting warm in here.

Octavia felt her eyelids getting heavier by the second. With a few shakes of her head she dispelled some of the sleep slowly getting a grip on her. She cast a glance over to the clock hanging on the wall. It was eleven o’clock already, an hour over her regular bedtime.

She yawned wide enough for her jaw to click and her eyes to water. There wasn’t any point in continuing reading anymore, so she closed the book not bothering to bookmark the page she was on. Through bleary eyes she cast a glance to the sleeping DJ on her back and wondered what she should do.

The thought occurred to simply stay here on the floor. It was peaceful and nice in a way, but she would regret having slept on the hard floor the next morning. With a sigh she carefully shook the unicorn using her hoof.

It took a good amount of effort to even get some kind of reaction out of the mare, but eventually she stirred awake.

“Sorry, Vinyl.” Octavia felt the need to apologize for having to wake her up. “It’s time to go to bed.”

Still more asleep than awake the DJ had no real hold on the words being mumbled by her.

“Yours or mine?” Vinyl smiled happily and was about to fall back to sleep.

“I…uh…” Octavia didn’t quite know if Vinyl had meant that as a joke or not. She decided it was the first and not the latter, while shaking Vinyl with a hoof.

Very slowly Vinyl gave in to the annoying hoof shaking her and tried to get up. Only with Octavia’s help did she manage somehow to get on to her hooves. The DJ let herself be led into her bedroom and into bed by the earthpony. Without much ceremony she fell into bed and was back to sleep in milliseconds. Octavia took the time to cover up the other pony with the bedcover and tucked her in.

“Goodnight, Vinyl.” Octavia whispered and silently made her way to her own room.

As she clambered into bed and between the sheets she felt cold, suddenly missing the touch and warmth of another pony at her side. Sleep eventually won over and she drifted off into the land of dreams.

Chapter 25

View Online

93 days until the concert.

Octavia awoke to the smell of pancakes. Of all possible ways to wake up this was by far her favourite. Almost on autopilot she slid out of bed and stumbled towards the kitchen following the heavenly scent.

“Mmblf.” Octavias mumbled greeting escaped her lips prior to yawning widely.

“Hey, Tavi.” Vinyl smiled at the state the cellist was in. Half asleep with a content smile on her lips, mane wildly sticking out in all directions. With practiced movements Vinyl flipped a pancake in the pan. With her magic she levitated a finished one on to a plate and hovered it past the cellist to the table.

Obediently the earthpony followed the floating deliciousness to the table, accidentally bumping into a chair and nearly knocking it over. Still smiling she plopped herself on a chair and took a deep breath of the wonderful aroma wafting up from her food. Without any kind of manners she dove right in, earning a chuckle from Vinyl.

“Seems like somepony is hungry.” Vinyl slid another fresh pancake on to Octavia’s plate and sat down opposite her to eat her own breakfast.

They ate their food in relative silence. Octavia was anything but refined in the early morning hours and table manners were just a suggestion to her. Vinyl grinned as the cellist burped loud enough to wake up the neighbours. She slid another pancake on the now empty plate and earned a grunt in response.

“What happened last night?” Vinyl asked after a few moments when the speed in which her food was being devoured by the earthpony had slowed down a bit.

“Hmm? What do you mean?” Octavia licked her lips clean of some of the pancake debris clinging to them.

“I don’t really remember how I got into bed last night.” Vinyl carefully coated her pancake with syrup. “Last thing I remember was reading a book on the floor.”

“You fell asleep on top of me.” Octavia smiled. The smile turned into a grin as Vinyl’s color turned a shade of pink.

“I did what?” The DJ put the fork she was levitating down.

“You sort of pulled yourself on my back and were fast asleep.” Octavia’s grin grew wider as Vinyl’s blush intensified.

“I…I didn’t drool did I?”

“No, nothing of the kind.” Octavia concentrated on the pancake in front of her again. It was sort of adorable how Vinyl was blushing.

Adorable? Where did that word come from?

“Sorry about that.” Vinyl said sheepishly.

“Don’t worry about it. It was rather nice.” Now it was Octavia’s turn to blush.

Why did I say that?

“At least it gives me something nice to tell Lyra later on.” Octavia chose to ignore her burning cheeks.

Vinyl nearly dropped her fork she had just picked up again. “Lyra? Uhm…why Lyra?”

“It’s her first day at work today!” Octavia felt elated to finally have one pony at work she got along with.

“Uh….oh yeah.” Vinyl put the fork back down again. Suddenly she wasn’t hungry anymore.

“I better get ready.” Octavia briefly looked around for a napkin, but didn’t find one on the table. With a shrug she wiped her mouth with a foreleg, she would have a quick bath now first anyway.

“Yeah, you do that.” Vinyl watched her friend retreat into the bathroom. She had a suspicion that the day might have a few unpleasant surprises in store for her, depending on what Lyra would do.


“Settle down, settle down.” Ictus barked as he appeared on stage.

Octavia had hoped to chat with Lyra a bit before they would start playing, but she hadn’t seen the lyrist anywhere all morning. She began doubting if she had heard Maestro Ictus properly yesterday.

“We have some new arrangements.” Ictus grinned. It made all musicians instantly uncomfortable. He almost never smiled and a few ponies cast a fearful eye to the next pony beside them.

“I believe most of you are familiar with our new lyrist, Miss Lyra Heartstrings.” Ictus pointed at the newest member of their ensemble already sitting at her position. Octavia hadn’t even noticed her come on stage.

“Now I know that you are worried about her deviant behaviour back in Canterlot.” Ictus kept pointing at the mint green unicorn. Octavia frowned at Ictus’ introduction of their new lyrist. “Unfortunately we are in need of a lyrist on short notice and believe it or not, she is actually the most qualified.”

Heads turned to eye the unicorn with curiosity. A couple of ponies began murmuring to the ones beside them. Ictus would normally have stomped out any kind of behaviour like that immediately, strangely enough he allowed it this time.

“Despite her doings in the past, it seems as if it has not affected her ability to play.” Ictus held up a hoof in an apologetic way. “I know, I know….some of you are uneasy about having somepony like her here, but I have made some arrangements to keep you out of harm’s way, so to speak.”

Octavia felt the heat rise in her cheeks. Unlike this morning, now it was because of anger. Talking about somepony’s private affairs like that was entirely uncalled for.

“You will not have to share your space with her as I have arranged for Miss Heartstrings to have a room for herself.” Ictus grin grew a little wider. “Her room is at the end of the hallway. You might remember it as a closet for the janitorial supplies. I don’t think it will be much of an adjustment for Miss Heartstrings, as I believe she has some experience with closets, especially coming out of one.”

A few ponies had the decency to look embarrassed at the lame joke. Others smiled awkwardly, while the larger majority were chuckling along with Ictus. Octavia did not laugh, in fact she was about to stand up and give Ictus a good piece of her mind.

Then she saw Lyra’s expression. She looked bored and entirely apathetic to what was going on around her. Octavia let out the breath she had held in her cheeks with a hiss. If Lyra wasn’t fazed by the harassment, then the cellist wouldn’t be either. Perhaps Lyra was right and there was no point into dropping to that level. Better to rise above the words being spoken, they were after all just that, only words.

She would have to talk to Lyra after the day was over. Perhaps she could have Ictus move the lyrist into Octavia’s room. There was more than enough space for two after all.


Over the rest of the day Octavia’s mood soured more and more. Ictus kept criticizing Lyra’s performance again and again. It was entirely unjustified as the lyrist played each note perfectly. It was nothing more than deliberate harassment on Ictus part. He even missed a fairly obvious blunder by one of the violinists and kept his attention solely on Lyra.

The mint green mare didn’t even bother to bat an eyelash at the constant criticisms and just played her part. How she remained so calm was something of a mystery to the cellist. Perhaps the anger management classes Lyra had taken had really done the trick.

Octavia felt relieved when Ictus signaled the end of the day’s session. He stormed off stage and Octavia wasted no time to pack up her cello in its case. She urgently wanted to talk to Lyra, but as she looked over to the mare, she found her already gone. The earthpony frowned at the sudden disappearance of her friend, but then just shrugged. She could always just go to where she lived and talk to her there.

Now that she wasn’t in a rush, she took her time with the last bit of packing. Carefully making sure that the bow was secured inside the case and the cello itself tightly strapped in. She dropped by her room to pick up her bright pink lunchbox that Vinyl had given her and hung it on the neck of the cello case. By the time she had finished up with everything all the other musicians had already left.

She exited the backstage area and stepped into the foyer, making a beeline for the large exit.


Octavia stopped in her tracks and looked around.

“Octavia! Over here!” Lyra whispered from the door to the mares restroom and beckoned her over with a hoof.

“Hey, L…”

“Ssssshh, get inside!” Lyra held the door open for the cellist.

Quickly she ducked into the restroom and turned to the other mare. Lyra silently observed the deserted foyer for a moment to make sure that nopony else was around. She closed the door and locked it with a click.

“What’s going on? Why the secrecy?” Octavia raised an eyebrow as Lyra stepped away from the door and trotted over to the washbasin.

“It’s better that way.” Lyra answered and splashed her face with some water.

“What way?” Octavia walked up to her friend. Lyra seemed a lot less calm now than she had done during the day.

“You heard what that flankhead said.” Lyra dabbed some water droplets from her face with a paper towel. “What do you think he would do if he saw us together?”

“What business is it of his?” Octavia felt she would have some say in things, because of the way Ictus constantly elevated her position above all the other musicians. “I should talk to him.”

“Nononono, no!” Lyra put a hoof on the mare’s shoulder. “You saw how they react. If you side with me they will turn on you.”

“Just for sticking up for you?” In truth Octavia wasn’t entirely sure they wouldn’t turn on her.

“Yeah, trust me. They will give you a hard time if they know that we are friends. That’s why I wanted to talk to you anyway.” Lyra now looked uncomfortable and glanced at her reflection in the mirror. “It’s best if we don’t talk to each other or meet up somewhere anymore.”

“Surely you can’t be serious!” Octavia felt anger boiling up inside her. Not because of Lyra, but rather that other ponies seemed to have a say in who and who not she was allowed to spend her time with.

“Don’t call me….” Lyra wanted to make that old joke out of reflex, but didn’t feel too much like making jokes. “I am serious. If they find out that you associate with somepony like me, then they’ll give you the same treatment.”

“That isn’t fair!” Octavia stomped a hoof on the floor. The sound bounced off the tiled walls and gave her move a bit more weight. “So what if they start saying stupid things to me? I’d rather stand by my friend.”

“Octavia…” Lyra was touched that the cellist would stand at her side, but she knew that the Canterlot pony did not always think things through. “You know what happened to me back in Canterlot. You would have the same problems just for knowing me.”

“But we are here in Manehatten.” Octavia tilt her head to the side not quite following what the unicorn wanted to say.

“Yeah, but we will be playing in Canterlot in a few months.” Lyra threw the paper towel she was holding in her magical grasp into the waste bin. “You can bet that Ictus will tell them about you knowing me and you can kiss your hopes of ever being part of the Royal Canterlot Orchestra goodbye.”

“That’s not right.” Octavia replied quietly. She full well knew the trouble her friend had received and that the pressure had forced her to abandon her musical career in Canterlot.

“Many things aren’t. Trust me, it is the best solution.” Lyra sighed at the now visibly upset cellist. “We can still keep in touch. By letters or through Bon Bon.”

“I guess you are right.” Octavia sighed and tried a smile. “If anything happens I can always send Vinyl over.”

Lyra froze for a moment. It was fairly obvious that the gears in her mind were turning rapidly. For some reason she couldn’t quite look Octavia in the eye anymore. Lyra removed her hoof from her friends shoulder and cleared her throat.

“About Vinyl…” Lyra began and watched Octavia from the corner of her eye. The cellist had a curious expression and was patiently waiting for what Lyra had to say.

There was no elegant way of shedding light on Vinyl’s predicament. The argument that Lyra had with the DJ only a day before was still fresh on her mind. She had not slept well that night and the fact that Bon Bon took side with Vinyl also gnawed at her.

“What about Vinyl?” Octavia’s curiosity had been replaced by concern for the wellbeing of her friend.

“It just that she….” Lyra swallowed hard. Yesterday she had been set on telling Octavia everything, but now she wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do. In light of how Ictus had been acting towards Lyra, the last thing she wanted for Octavia was to be stuck in a similar position. “She said she had a surprise for you. Something about your problem with creating music?”

“Oh, yes.” Octavia’s face lit up with a smile. “She got all these books for me and we went through a few of them hoping to learn how the great composers actually composed. Very interesting stuff so far.”

“That’s a cool thing she did.” Lyra fiddled around with the tap in an effort to not look her friend in the face.

“It is a very sweet thing she did.” Octavia sighed. “I only hope we can find something in those books. Otherwise the concert will most certainly be one to remember.”

“Nah, I bet everything will go smoothly.” Lyra nodded at her reflection in the mirror. “In a couple of months we will be laughing about all of this.”

“Just….” Octavia began, but fell silent and cast her eyes downwards in thought.

“Just what?” Lyra prompted as it became apparent that Octavia would not continue without.

“Just why do you take the things he said and not do anything?” Octavia had a fire burning in her eyes. “If it was me I would have given him a piece of my mind and stormed off.”

“Eh…I don’t really let it get to me.” Lyra shrugged and smirked. “Besides, I am doing this mainly for Bon Bon. A bit of discomfort is worth it if you love somepony. You might do some silly things in an effort to help them.”

Lyra feverishly hoped that Octavia would get the hint. The cellist was now smiling, but it was clear that she didn’t get it.

“It is nice to have somepony like that.” Octavia nodded and Lyra was very tempted to just blurt out that Vinyl was doing the same for her. She held her tongue and rather nodded to the door.

“You better get going before Vinyl calls the guards and places a missing ponies report.” Lyra unlocked the door with her magic.

Octavia moved towards the door, but stopped and turned back to look at the lyrist with a stern expression on her face.

“If things are too much for you and you feel the need to give him a piece of your mind, just know that I will stand beside you.”

“Thanks Octavia.” Lyra’s response was heartfelt. Having a friend willing to side with her despite possible ramifications to her own career was touching. However Lyra would be damned before she would allow Octavia to do so. There was no need for her to throw away her own career for the sake of others. There was enough of that going around at the moment anyway.


The door fell shut behind Octavia and she paused for a moment to readjust the heavy case on her back. She jumped a bit as a voice boomed through the empty foyer.

“Octavia!” Ictus was moderately surprised to still see the cellist here. “Is everything ok?”

“Yes.” Octavia immediately felt her temper rising at the sight of the conductor. “I just had to use the restroom.”

“I can perfectly understand that.” Ictus was either ignoring Octavia’s frosty tone of voice or oblivious to it. “Quite frankly I feel rather ill myself. What with having one of them now in our little ensemble.”

“Beg pardon?” Octavia briefly wondered if hitting him over the head with her cello would have any repercussions. Wisely she decided to just look appalled at the stallion.

“It is an unfortunate evil we must put up with for the time being.” Ictus continued and misread Octavia’s apparent disgust as being directed at Lyra and not at him. “Hard to believe that she was the only lyrist available with something resembling a degree of skill. I mean she has graduated in Canterlot top of her class. Too bad her deviant nature caused her to fall so far.”

Octavia silently was fuming and had to bite her tongue as not to say anything. Once again Ictus misread her expression and held up a hoof in an assuaging manner.

“But don’t worry, I’ll make sure she stays as far away from you as possible.” Ictus turned around and started moving back towards his office. “We wouldn’t want her filth to affect your ability and I know you will be needing a clear mind for the concert and shouldn’t have to worry about her.”

Octavia growled as soon as Ictus was out of earshot. Her mood was now effectively ruined and she mumbled a few very choice words in his direction. Her hoofsteps echoed loudly through the room and she stomped towards the exit. She felt the need for air and to be as far away from that despicable individual as possible for the rest of the day.


Vinyl was pacing back and forth at the bottom of the steps.

Octavia was fifteen minutes late and in light of recent events the unicorn had plenty to worry about.

Had Big Time or Squeak found her? Should she call the guards and file a missing pony report? Had Lyra told her everything and now she didn’t want to have anything to do with Vinyl ever again? Or had she simply been delayed because of more practice?

Vinyl toyed with the idea of going inside to see if there maybe had been an accident and Octavia would need her help. On the other hoof her intrusion might cause even more problems. She was more than a bit out of place here with her appearance, now even more so that to the very visible bruises she had.

Every thought in her mind ground to a halt as the doors opened up with a bit more force than needed. As she watched a very angry Octavia descend the stairs her ears fell with every step the earthpony took.

So Lyra has told her….

“H-Hey Tavi.” Vinyl tried her best to grin, but the other mare didn’t even once look at her.

“Home. Now.” Octavia’s snarled order made Vinyl flinch back in alarm.

Oh, buck me….

Silently Vinyl followed the angry earthpony a step behind. It was fairly obvious that Octavia was furious about something. The way she held her head low with folded back ears, every step had a bit more force when stomping on the ground and the frowning look told Vinyl that not all was well.

Do something! Say something!

“I…uh…how was your day?” In retrospect Vinyl thought she could have opened the discussion with maybe a bit more elegance.

“Don’t even ask.” Octavia chuckled humorlessly.

For crying out loud, Scratch! Say something else!

“Wh…D-did Lyra say anything?” There still was a tiny sliver of hope in Vinyl’s mind that Octavia was angry about something entirely unrelated to Lyra or Vinyl.

“Oh, she told me a few things.” Octavia stomped so hard on the ground that Vinyl was afraid she would possibly sprain a hoof. “The things that some ponies have done really reeeaaaally makes me angry beyond words right now.”

She knows! Quickly! Apologize or do something! Anything!

“I…I’m uh…” Vinyl had severe problems to form any kind of coherent sentence. It took most of her willpower to not break down and cry while begging Octavia for forgiveness. She had a feeling that wouldn’t go down too well in the middle of the street.

“We’ll talk at home.” Octavia silenced the stammered sentence of the DJ before it could even properly form.

It was possibly the longest walk home that Vinyl had ever had in her entire life.


Once they had arrived inside their apartment, Octavia immediately disappeared first into the music room to put her cello away and then into the bathroom. Vinyl was left standing in the living room. A feeling of foreboding slowly was spreading into every fiber of her very being.

It was clear that Octavia wasn’t in the best of moods, in fact Vinyl had never seen her this angry before and it made her feel worse. Vinyl had tried to think of some way to diffuse the situation, but came up blank. Lyra had obviously told Octavia about everything and all the DJ could do was to face it head on.

She did not remove her sunglasses as a precaution to hide away her now already moist eyes. Crying was most certainly within the realm of soon to be possibilities, but Vinyl would not use it to sway Octavia in any way.

It is as it is….

She sucked in a huge breath of air and held it as Octavia came stomping into the living room. Her mane was slightly frazzled and in the area where her bowtie used to be her coat also looked ruffled. She had most likely torn off the bowtie and it now had joined its brethren on the bathroom floor.

“The bloody nerve of some ponies!” Octavia began venting while paced around the dining table. “Today I have been given a very interesting insight into things thanks to Lyra.”

Vinyl plopped on her rump and tried to make herself as small as possible.

“I knew that things would be difficult, but now…NOW I am angry.” Octavia knocked a pile of books over that were piled close to the circular course around the table she was moving in. “It most certainly makes me see some ponies in an entirely different light, I can tell you that!”

Vinyl let out the breath she had been holding out as a whimper. There had been the hope that Octavia might have just put on a show outside of the building earlier and once back home she would smother Vinyl with kisses and profess her love for her. While smothering was certainly an option looming in Vinyl’s near future, it was not the kind she was interested in.

“I...I’m sorry.” Vinyl managed to croak out.

“What?” Octavia stopped her pacing and looked over to her friend. “Why are you sorry?”

“It’s obvious that I did something wrong and I just…” Vinyl was about to confess everything right then and there, but Octavia cut her off with a sigh.

“Sorry, Vinyl.” The cellist moved towards her now cowering friend. “I am not angry with you and you didn’t do anything wrong.”

“I…didn’t?” Now Vinyl was very confused at the mixed signals she had received from the other mare.

“It is Ictus and the rest of them that I am angry with.” Octavia ran a hoof through her mane. “The way they acted towards Lyra was despicable.”

“I…Lyra…huh? What?”

Octavia told Vinyl of the events during work and the talk she had with Lyra afterwards in the restroom. With every word she said the unicorns feeling of relief grew larger and larger. Lyra had not said anything, which meant things were still the way they had been before. Vinyl let out a small chuckle of relief when Octavia had finished her report.

“What’s funny?” Octavia’s tone of voice was still slightly agitated.

“Sorry.” Vinyl felt a lot happier than was called for in light of recent events. “It’s just hard to believe that they acted that way. Like something out of a bad movie or sloppily written work of fiction.”

“I agree.” Octavia took a deep breath. “I thought Canterlot was bad from what Lyra had told me, but seeing it firsthoof was really eye-opening. I remember Lyra writing how Manehatten was more accepting, but I find that hard to believe after today.”

“Nah, you get that all over the place.” Vinyl shrugged. “Las Pegasus is also a rather relaxed city, but I got a number of mean looks every once in a while.”

You just hinted that you had the same problems as Lyra!

“But…but I think it might have something to do with you all being part of the classical music side of things.” Vinyl had very quickly added the last sentence and hoped Octavia had not made the connection that Vinyl was interested in mares.

“You are right I guess.” Octavia scrunched up her nose. “They call it classical for a reason after all. But that doesn’t justify behaving like that.”

“No it doesn’t.” Vinyl nodded in agreement. “If I had been there I would have used some very specific words and Bon Bon most likely would want to wash my mouth out with soap afterwards for at least a week.”

“I was thiiiiis close to saying something.” Octavia held her front hooves together leaving only two millimeters of space between them. “I saw that Lyra didn’t react so I figured I would react to something that low either.”

“May have been for the better.” Vinyl said after a moment of thought.

“Lyra said so too.” Octavia sighed and let her ears droop a bit. “It isn’t fair that I have to keep away from one of my friends now though.”

“Life isn’t always fair.” Vinyl had a rather good understanding about that for sure. “But it isn’t forever, just until the concert is over.”

“Yeah….you’re right.” Octavia cast a glance at the books lying on the floor. She didn’t really have the nerve right now for studying, but she felt better after venting some of her anger. A nice bath would clear away the last bit of uncomfortable feelings she had. Then suddenly out of nowhere her mind dredged up something Vinyl had said. Her ears perked up and she turned to look at her friend with a raised eyebrow. “You just said you had trouble in Las Pegasus? With what?”

“Oh…I…err…” Vinyl began sweating.

Here’s another chance, Scratch! Tell her!

“Well, it was because of…” Vinyl tried to blend out the nagging voice in the back of her head. “My eyes!”

Oh, for crying out loud….

“Got plenty of looks because of my eyes. So I know what it is like being different.” Vinyl gave her friend a painfully fake smile.

“Oh…” Octavia’s ears slowly lowered a bit. “Sorry to hear that.”

“Sunglasses helped with that.” Vinyl tapped the mentioned object on her face with a hoof.

Vinyl wasn’t too sure on how to read the cellist’s expression. She seemed to accept Vinyl’s explanation, but there was something else there. Maybe some kind of disappointment? Octavia excused herself and trotted towards the bathroom to take a bath with plenty of bubbles, while Vinyl was left sitting in the living room trying to properly understand the look she had been given.

After a good five minutes Vinyl gave up, maybe she was just seeing things.

Chapter 26

View Online

87 days until the concert.

Vinyl trotted through the park on course to Big Times club.

It was the day after Neon Lights first evening performing in the club again, this time while playing Vinyl's music. She had decided to drop by and see how he had done his job. At the same time she could drop off three new tracks for him to use.

The last few days had been uncomfortable for Vinyl. Octavia would come home and rant about the way that conductor pony had behaved during their practice. During a long bubble bath she would calm down and after dinner she would be back to her usual self.

Then both of them would spend the rest of the evening in silence reading the books Vinyl had organized. It bored her to no end, but her desire to help Octavia kept her reading about decomposing composers. If only there had been any worthwhile information within, then the efforts would have paid off. As it was until now there wasn’t anything written in them that helped them with their problem.

The most uncomfortable thing was not knowing if Lyra would indeed still talk about Vinyl’s feelings towards the cellist or not. Vinyl suspected that it wouldn’t surface, but not knowing was stressful. The obvious dislike of the ensemble towards Lyra and what she stood for did not boost Vinyl’s wish to let Octavia know how she felt. It was better if it was kept under the rug until after the looming concert.

Vinyl only briefly glanced over to the joggers making their rounds in the park. She could do with the exercise, but she wasn’t back at full health yet and chose to save that thought for a later date.

As she arrived at the club she held an eye open for any signs of the fight that had broken out. If there had been any damages done she could not spot any. Once inside everything seemed to be in order, most likely the cleanup crews had worked overtime to restore the club to its former state. The bartender nodded to Vinyl and told her to go into the boss’ office before he continued to restock the bar for the day.

The DJ made her way there, a bit surprised that Big Time was already in his office. She had only intended to talk to some of the staff, but perhaps it was better if she gave him the tracks meant for Neon.


“Scratch…” Big Time looked up from the newspaper he was reading and gave Vinyl a long hard look. “Sit down.”

Vinyl obeyed and sat in front of the large desk. The gruffness in Big Times voice didn’t surprise her, as she had learned some time ago that he wasn’t much of a morning pony. What did surprise her was the distinct sound of door being locked shut behind her. Vinyl saw out of the corner of her eye that Squeak had taken up position in front of the door. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up as she suddenly had a very bad feeling.

“I think there is something we need to discuss.” Big Time very slowly began folding the newspaper up while not taking his eyes off Vinyl.

“Is it about Neon?” Vinyl hoped that Neon had somehow messed things up. Any other thing that needed discussing wasn’t going to be good for Vinyl.

“Neon did a good job.” Big Time slid the newspaper to the side and leaned forward. “Thanks to that we are having a polite discussion and not a not-so-nice-discussion.”

Vinyl swallowed hard and tried to smile, she failed miserably.

“You lied to me.” Big Time stated and tapped his front hooves together.

“I did what?” Vinyl had the bad feeling in her gut intensify. “Uh…what about?”

“About Octavia Philharmonica.”

“Who?” Vinyl’s attempt at a bluff was pathetic.

“No more lies, Scratch.” Big Time’s voice took on an even harder edge. “I know you two live together, I know where she works, I know where her home in Canterlot is and I know where her parents live.”

Vinyl shrunk back in her chair with every word that he said. She tried to say something, anything to smooth things over, but nothing came to mind on how to do that.

“The only reason I am now talking to you here and not sending Squeak over to have a chat with Miss Philharmonica is the simple fact that you are good for my business.” Big Time leaned back in his chair and watched Vinyl sweat. “Despite the chaos that your friend caused, I am willing to let it go for once.”

Vinyl felt a small spark of hope igniting inside her.

“On some conditions that is.” Big Time added after a couple of seconds.

The spark inside her was snuffed out instantly by the sea of dread rising up.

“What for conditions?” Vinyl asked with a whisper.

“How many tracks have you prepared for Neon?” Big Time asked instead of answering her question.

“I have three with me.”

“Your contract with him lasts for a year. How many were you intending to give him over that time?”

“Three…per month.”

“It will be five per month.” Big Time corrected her in a tone that left no room for any objection. “That’s sixty tracks over all. Minus the three you have with you, that means you owe him and me fifty-seven more tracks.”

Vinyl merely nodded. If that was all of the conditions then she was more than happy to fulfill them.

“Fifty-seven tracks by the end of this month.” He tapped a hoof on the table.

“That’s…” Vinyl was about to protest out of reflex, but was cut off instantly.

“That’s non-negotiable.” He leaned forward again, his eyes boring themselves in hers. “Furthermore your name will be slowly phased out of the posters. In a few weeks, maybe months the ponies will have forgotten about you and think that Neon is the one doing all the work.”

Vinyl just stared at the stallion speechless.

“Bring the tracks to me and I will pay you in full for the amount stated in the contract. After that I don’t want to see you here again.” Big Time smiled and Vinyl shrunk back even further. “I fact I don’t want to hear that you have started working in any other clubs in this town.”

Vinyl blinked a few times. She was not only going to be out of a job here, but in the entire town. A brief moment of defiance flickered up inside her. Big Time must have sensed it and his smile vanished.

“If I hear that you have started working in some other club, and I will hear it, then Squeak here will have a chat with your friend.” He leaned forward as far as possible. “Understood?”

Vinyl nodded slowly.

“I asked if you understood!” The barked response made Vinyl jump in shock.

“I…I understand, Sir.” Vinyl hastily answered with a quavering voice.

“Good.” Big Time nodded to Squeak standing by the door. With a sharp click the door unlocked and Big Time nodded towards it. “Now get out. I only want to see you here again with the tracks you owe.”

Vinyl somehow managed to get up. A rather impressive feat as her legs had seemingly turned into jelly. She stumbled on her way out the door, Squeak continuously giving her a very ticked off look. Once she stepped through, the door slammed shut behind her narrowly missing her.

She awkwardly shuffled towards the stairs leading down, trying to take deep breaths to calm down. It was of no use and she felt the stress coupled with the revelation that her own aspirations had been crushed beginning to overwhelm her.

With a jittery hoof she tried to shoo away the moisture building in her eyes. As her bottom lip began to quiver she tried to stop it by gritting her teeth and grimacing. Too much had gone wrong for her too many times and the damn holding it all in was breaking. The panic rising within gave her strength and she bolted down the stairs. As she raced for the exit somepony called after her asking if everything was alright. She paid the concerned voice no heed and crashed outside. Half blind from tears she ran as fast as she could towards the park, away from that damned club and her now lost hope of becoming a huge star.


Vinyl watched a little sparrow picking at some crumbs left over from somepony’s lunch on the bench beside her own.

She envied that little bird with a frightening intensity.

All it had to worry about was finding something to eat for the day. In Manehatten that was very easy for a little bird to do. To find a mate it would have to sing a little song and that was it.

It didn’t have to worry about bits or jobs. No goals to think of achieving with the exception of waking up early every once in a while to catch the early worm. It had the freedom to go anywhere at any time. Or poop freely wherever it chose to do so, evident by its current action.

Vinyl didn’t particularly envy the sparrow for the last part, but the rest sounded good to her. Why life always had to be so complicated bothered her. Perhaps ponies chose to make it so complicated and once set in motion the rest had to follow along if they liked it or not.

She had plenty of time to ponder those questions for the last hour sitting on the bench. The hour before that she had spent sobbing on the very same bench. It was sad that nopony bothered to stop and ask if she was alright. She had received plenty of looks from passing ponies, but not one stopped to talk. Vinyl would have liked to talk with somepony, maybe get some things off her chest. The only pony she had shared anything with had been Lyra, but for obvious reasons she could not turn to her.

The sparrow chirped once and took off. Vinyl tracked the little bird for a moment and sighed. Not all was bad. She had come to that conclusion after a lot of thinking.

Yes, she was out of a job again and would have to work hard the next couple of days with her deck to meet Big Time’s demands.

Yes, she could never play anyplace in this city for some time to come and her dream of seeing her name advertised in bright big letters on Times Square was now a thing of the past.

On the bright side it gave her plenty of time to help Octavia.

A part of her wasn’t too sure if that really was the bright side, but Vinyl squashed that thought quickly. At the moment it was pretty much the only thing helping her keep it together.

With a grunt she got off the bench and decided to circle the park once more before picking Octavia up. Perhaps she would see the little sparrow once more and tell it how lucky it was.


As usual Octavia was the last to leave the building.

Also as usual the day had been annoying to say the least. Ictus continuously sunk lower and lower in her opinion of him. Lyra didn’t react to the stream of insults and Octavia learned to turn a deaf ear to all of it. If not then she would explode sooner or later and that wouldn’t help her or Lyra in the long run.

The final usual occurrence was waiting for her at the bottom of the steps. Her greeting towards Vinyl was returned without the trademark smile of the white unicorn. Octavia didn’t think much of it and led the way back to their home.

After only a few minutes Octavia knew instinctively that something was not right with her friend. As the cellist gave her a quick report of the day, she only earned a grunt or two from her companion in return. Normally Vinyl would comment every once in a while or ask something, today she was rather silent.

“Is everything ok?” Octavia slowed down a bit to study her friends face.

“Yeah.” Vinyl’s reply was halfhearted at best. Octavia raised an eyebrow at the response.

“Are you sure?” Octavia stopped and looked at her friend.

“Yeah, I’m sure.” Vinyl didn’t stop and kept walking.

With no choice left Octavia followed her and decided to ask what was going on once they were at home. Perhaps Vinyl wasn’t feeling like saying anything outside in the public.

At home Vinyl immediately took out some of the leftovers from the day before and stuck them in the oven to heat up. Octavia deposited her cello in the music room and freshened up a bit in the bathroom. Once she came back into the living room she found it void of any unicorns. The dinner was prepared for her on the table. The absence of a second plate for Vinyl solidified her suspicion that not all was well. She ignored the food and trotted back into the music room. Sure enough she found Vinyl sitting behind her deck staring off into space.

“Vinyl?” Octavia’s question made Vinyl jump.

“Hey.” Vinyl began to fiddle around with some of the dials and purposefully didn’t look at the cellist. “I put your dinner on the table.”

“I saw.” Octavia stood in front of the deck trying to catch Vinyl’s eye. “I didn’t see your plate there.”

“Not hungry.” Vinyl flipped a couple of switches.

Octavia stood there for a few seconds waiting for the unicorn to say something more. It became obvious that the DJ wouldn’t oblige her wish.

“Is everything alright?” Octavia cursed mentally that Vinyl still was wearing her sunglasses. Without them it would have been a lot easier to see what was going on.

“Yeah….” Vinyl nodded once and continued pushing buttons.

“Vinyl…” Octavia put her hoof on Vinyl’s to stop her for a moment. Despite Vinyl seemingly still looking at the dials on her deck Octavia knew that she had the unicorn’s full attention. “Please tell me if something is wrong.”

“It’s nothing.” Vinyl shrugged once. “Just had a hard day at the club that’s all.”

“Because of me?” Octavia knew that there had to be some kind of repercussions for her actions.

“Yeah, kinda.” Vinyl turned her head to look at a stack of tapes beside the deck.

“Should I talk to them maybe?” Octavia would gladly to so if it would help her friend.

“No!” Vinyl’s head whipped back to face the cellist. “I…uh…took care of it all. Don’t worry about that anymore. I just have to work a little more for a while, that’s all. Back on the juice shift and all that..hehe.”

Octavia wasn’t convinced that Vinyl was telling her everything. She would have pushed it further, but sensed that Vinyl wasn’t going to give her any clear answer. Reluctantly she withdrew her hoof and decided that Vinyl knew best on how to take care of that situation.

“If you need any help of any kind you let me know, ok?” Octavia smiled and hoped that Vinyl would return it. The unicorn’s expression didn’t change.

“Yeah, ok.” Vinyl shrugged once more and began fiddling with the dials on the deck again. “I’m fine. Just need to work a bit now. You go and eat your food before it gets cold.”

Vinyl shooed the earthpony out of the room with a motion from her hoof. Octavia didn’t protest and trotted into the living room. She was really hungry and promptly dove into the leftovers from yesterday. It felt odd eating all alone for once.


The odd feeling remained.

Octavia had tried to block out Vinyl and concentrate on her own work after dinner. Yet she couldn’t shake the feeling that her friend wasn’t too happy right now. Sitting all alone on their little couch and reading books in dead silence was becoming rather unnerving to her.

The cellist had skimmed through three books thus far. Each one was interesting, but held no information that was relevant to her musical inabilities. With a sigh she closed the book about J.S. Buck and piled in on the stack of finished books. She reached for the next unread book but stopped halfway.

I can’t take much more of this….

It surprised her a little bit that she was so uncomfortable all alone. Before she had met Vinyl she relished the quiet evenings all to herself. She would read something, maybe watch a movie or two and practice on her cello.

Now however it seemed as if something essential to her was missing. Ever since living together with Vinyl they had not been separated for more than a couple of hours or while being at work. It was simply normal for Octavia to hear and see Vinyl around her. She didn’t even have to say or do anything, the mere presence of the unicorn was enough.

It puzzled Octavia why she found it so normal, so comforting, to have the DJ around her. While living alone she hadn’t wasted a minute’s thought about the company of another pony in her life. Now it kept leaping to the forefront of her mind in a most distracting manner.

With a sigh Octavia got up from the couch and trotted over to the refrigerator. She took out two juice boxes and carefully balanced them on her back. With a nudge of her flank she closed the refrigerator and made her way into the music room.

Vinyl looked up from her deck as soon as the cellist entered. At some point she had removed her sunglasses and donned a pair of headphones. Vinyl removed one side of them to free up an ear.

“I thought you might want something to drink.” Octavia said and put one of the juice boxes on the side of the deck.

“Thanks.” Vinyl smiled a genuine smile. “I was getting a little thristy.”

“Are you hungry? I could always make something for you.” Octavia offered and sat down beside her cello.

“Nah, I’m good. Thanks.” Vinyl took a sip from the box while Octavia did the same with her own.

After a few minutes of silence between them Octavia decided to stay in the room with her friend. She could always use some practice with her cello. With a totally unrefined burp she stood up and delicately began the careful balance act with her instrument. It was a kind of dance for her with a partner she knew very well. Vinyl apparently was back at mixing her music, but one ear remained headphone-free.

Octavia began playing a soothing calm melody. She knew what Vinyl liked in the way of classical music and she thought it might reduce some of the stress the unicorn was feeling. With expert precision she played one track after another. Just as she was about to begin the next piece Vinyl spoke up.

“Do you know any pieces about sparrows?” She asked with a hopeful look in her eyes.

“Sparrows?” Octavia thought for a moment. “Nothing exclusively about sparrows, no. Can another bird suffice?”

“That would be nice.” Vinyl smiled and returned to her work.

Octavia briefly wondered what was so special about sparrows, but shrugged it away and began playing the song. Seeing Vinyl smile somehow made the world complete again and gave her a fuzzy warm feeling in her chest.

It was a strange somewhat alien feeling. Octavia ignored it and blamed the juice for giving her a slight case of heartburn.

Chapter 27

View Online

32 day until the concert.

Octavia snorted and cast her eyes over the large pile of books resting against the wall behind the couch.

It had been a total waste of time going through all those books. Sure, it was interesting to learn more about various composers. But there was nothing written down on how they actually composed anything.

They had finished the last book a week ago and she had given up hope. Vinyl however remained optimistic that they would unlock the cellist’s hidden skills somehow. She had suggested various other ways of creating music, none of which resonated with the earthpony in any way.

Slowly the frustration gnawed away at the walls that kept Octavia’s temper in check. Vinyl’s constant suggestions didn’t help and she was about to blow a fuse.

“Just pretend you are standing on stage somewhere.” Vinyl suggested. She was trying to make Octavia see how she created music. “Imagine all the ponies below waiting for your cue to make them move.”

“Ponies don’t move during concerts with classical music.” Octavia’s head snapped around to face the unicorn standing in front of the cellist.

“Yeah, I know that.” Vinyl gestured with her hooves. “Just pretend. It’s all about emotion right? So just imagine the emotion you want them to feel.”

Octavia sighed and played a few notes. After half a minute Vinyl cut her off with a wave of a hoof.

“You are doing it again!” Vinyl frowned.

“What?” Octavia ran a hoof quickly through her mane. The result being that it was more out of shape than before.

“You play random notes in the beginning and then fall into some already written piece.” Vinyl had a very good memory for music and over the course of being around Octavia had pretty much learned all music centered around cellos. “I know that piece. Just forget you even know all that old stuff.”

“I don’t know how!” Octavia snapped back.

“Well you better learn, because all of that old junk is clogging up your brain!” Vinyl shot right back. Her own state of mind wasn’t too good in light of all things that had happened.

“Old junk?!” Octavia looked genuinely shocked. “Those are some of the finest pieces of music ever created by ponykind and most certainly not junk!”

“Yeah, it is junk!” Vinyl nodded once. “Get rid of the old stuffy stuff and bring in something new. Just free your mind so you can hear your own music inside of you.”

All Octavia heard was the blood rushing in her ears.

“That’s how I do it.” Vinyl explained in a calmer tone of voice. “Just me with a deck and my music to make ponies move. That’s all there is to it.”

“That’s too simple.” Octavia growled back.

“Well, simple works for me.” Vinyl shrugged. “You need to simplify things and stop thinking about the stuff you learned before as it is obvious that it isn’t working.”

The hint that everything she had done before in university was a waste of time in regards to her predicament cranked up her temper one notch further. If Vinyl wanted simple, then Octavia would give her simple. The cellist took a deep breath and thrust her head forward.

“Pppffffffttt!” Octavia gave her opinion on Vinyl’s opinion in the form of a loud raspberry.

For a moment neither mare moved or even blinked.

“What?” Vinyl cocked her head to the side in confusion.

“Pppffffftttt!” Octavia blew another raspberry. “That’s what I think of your suggestion!”

“Oh yeah? Well then pppfffffftttt right back at you!” Vinyl stood up and glared at her friend.

Octavia simply drew as much breath as possible, something that Vinyl copied immediately after she guessed what would happen next.



Both blew raspberrys at each other for a good half minute, neither mare willing to back down from the childish display.


“Ppppppfffffffffffffffffftttttt….yeah ok.” Vinyl stopped the noise and threw up her hooves in defeat. “The smarter pony gives up.”

Vinyl turned around and stomped off into the kitchen area. Octavia had stopped her own raspberry sound and stared after her friend with surprise clearly visible on her face. The fact that her long tongue was still hanging out between her lips escaped the cellist for the moment.

Did Vinyl just call me stupid?

Octavia watched the unicorn begin to make preparations for dinner. It was the closest that Vinyl had even actually insulted Octavia in any way and that stunned her. The cellist retracted her tongue only to stick it out once more in the direction of the other mare.

Vinyl seemed to ignore the cellist on purpose and didn’t look back. Octavia’s eyes narrowed as the thought of another way to get revenge for that veiled insult. She played the highest note possible on her cello and held it for as long as possible.

She knew that Vinyl hated that sound and the effect was immediate. Vinyl stopped doing whatever she was doing and visibly cringed at the sound. She flattened her ears as much as possible, but didn’t react in any other way.

The lack of reaction made Octavia pause and think. It was unfair of her to lash out at Vinyl. The unicorn had been extraordinarily patient and helpful towards her over the last few weeks. She had taken on all of the housework and always was ready to help if Octavia needed something. To snap at her and display such childishness was totally uncalled for. Octavia felt the heat in her cheeks rise and felt embarrassed.

Vinyl was the reason she was here in the first place. Every step of the way the unicorn had been at her side. Octavia was fully aware of the fact that she owed her friend a lot and thus far and not even thanked her once for it. She debated for a brief moment if she should go over and apologize, but decided against it. Vinyl was obviously not in a very good mood thanks to her and it was the best to let her cool off for a moment.

Instead Octavia drew a few low key notes from her cello. She knew that Vinyl liked these a lot more than the previous note. The effect didn’t take long and Vinyl’s ears perked back up. She relaxed visibly and chopped up a few carrots with less force than before.

Octavia watched her friend closely while playing a few soothing notes and tried to think of the right words with which to apologize later.

I should offer to help her.

Subconsciously Octavia switched the low key tone she was holding to a few lighter rapid strokes on the strings matching Vinyl’s speed of chopping up the carrots.

She wouldn’t allow it most likely.

As Vinyl swept the carrots off the chopping board with the knife, Octavia mimicked the movement with a lower key sweep with her bow on the strings.

Perhaps I should offer to make dessert?

Vinyl stirred the carrots in the pot with a wooden spoon. Again Octavia accompanied the movement with a few quickly alternating notes.

No, it is best to let her do it. I’ll just muck it up. I can clear up afterwards.

“That was nice.” Vinyl suddenly said and shook Octavia out of her trail of thought.

“Hm? What was?” Octavia stopped her music and tried to think what Vinyl was talking about.

“That what you just played.” Vinyl turned to look at the cellist. “Never heard it before and it sounded nice, modern even.”

“I uh…” Octavia didn’t remember any of the notes she had just played. “I wasn’t really playing anything.”

“That wasn’t a piece that you had learned sometime?” Vinyl ignored her cooking and trotted up to the cellist.

“No.” Octavia shrugged. “Those were just random sounds right?”

“No, no. It was a melody of sorts.” A grin began to form on the unicorn’s muzzle. “Like something you had just created yourself!”

“But how?” Octavia refused to believe that she had actually created music unwittingly.

“Well, what were you doing?” Vinyl asked and hoped she was right with her assumption.

“I was watching you cooking and thinking if I should make dessert and clear away the dishes.” Octavia flattened her ears as the blush returned. “I was also thinking about how to apologize for my actions earlier. I didn’t behave like a grown mare back then and I truly am sorry about that.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Vinyl waved the apology away with a hoof and then tapped it against her chin in thought while she tried to figure out what had just happened.

While it irked Octavia a bit that her apology was so casually dismissed, there was a small spark of hope growing inside her that Vinyl was actually on to something. She could almost see the gears turning in the unicorn’s head at high speed.

Vinyl looked back at the kitchen, then back to Octavia again. She tried to piece together the new pieces of the puzzle she had been given. After a minute the pieces fell into place and she groaned.

“How could I be so dumb!” Vinyl shook her head and chuckled.

Octavia let her ears fall in defeat. Of course she didn’t actually make music, it was just random notes being played and Vinyl most likely saw it the same way. Then she noticed that Vinyl had a huge smile on her lips.

“Movies.” Vinyl said and smirked.

“What about them?” Octavia was confused at the sudden change of topic.

“They all have a musical score, right? A soundtrack!” Vinyl beamed as she elaborated further. “That’s what you just did. You made a soundtrack for my cooking!”

“No…” Octavia scoffed. “I can’t be that simple.”

“Yes, it is!” Vinyl hopped in place.

“And how does this help me?”

“All you have to do is play the soundtrack for whatever is going on.” Vinyl grin widened as far as possible. “You play the soundtrack of life, Tavi!”

“That’s it?” Octavia had her doubts. After so many setbacks and dead ends it seemed to good to be true.

“I bet you everything I have that it is all you need.” Vinyl trotted back into the kitchen. “Just do what you did before while I finish cooking. Oh and try and not to think too much.”


Octavia’s smile complimented her wild mane perfectly. The image was one of exuberant joy.

While it only been half an hour it had become obvious that Vinyl was right. With the right mindset Octavia drew inspiration from the white unicorn whirling around in the kitchen and preparing dinner. It was laughably easy suddenly and Octavia felt like kicking herself for not realizing it herself much sooner.

She drew the bow rapidly across the strings, alternating notes to accompany the motions of the salt and pepper shakers in Vinyl’s magical grasp. With a flourish Vinyl spun around and bowed to the cellist. With a lopsided grin she then trotted over to the widely grinning cellist.

“Wow!” Vinyl clapped her front hooves together. “That was awesome!”

“I…I really can do it?” Octavia hardly believed it. This was it! The key to unlocking her creative side and suddenly the dead end she had been facing opened up to a large field full of opportunities.

“Yeah! You can make music!” Vinyl bobbed her head a few times. “Told you that you can do it!”

Octavia squeed in response and made a little hop while leaning against her cello.

“So…what are you going to call your first piece of music?” Vinyl asked and resisted the urge to hop along with the cellist.

“The pot is boiling over!”

“That’s…uh…an interesting title.”

“No, no! The pot really is boiling over!” Octavia pointed towards the pot on the stove.

“Aw, nuts!” Vinyl nearly fell flat on her face as she scrambled towards the kitchen. She quickly grabbed the pot in her magic and levitated it over the sink. Octavia immediately used her newfound ability to create the score for the scene playing out in front of her.

The feeling to actually create something was indescribable. She would most certainly have to replace the strings before going to work the next day. But until then she would play until her hooves ached.


The dinner had been consumed in an amazing speed by the cellist. Vinyl wasn’t sure if she even bothered to chew anything or if she simply inhaled it all. It didn’t bother her as she could understand the grey earthpony’s desire to get back to playing again.

Octavia quickly wiped her mouth with a napkin and dove straight back to her cello. With eager anticipation she watched Vinyl closely. She played the score for Vinyl while she finished eating and then starting to do the washing up.

Vinyl made a show of it. Levitating the used utensils and dishes through the air and dunking them into the soapy water in the sink. Every little move was matched perfectly by Octavia’s music. For all that Octavia cared it could last forever, but it was over faster than she had hoped.

“Quick!” Octavia gestured with a hoof. “Do something else!”

“Like what?” Vinyl looked around and tried to find something to do.

“Anything! Just keep doing something so I can create!” Octavia’s grin would possibly never go away. At least that was her feeling at the moment.

“Uhm…” Vinyl thought for a moment. She could break out some dance moves, but that would likely lead to a fit of laughter by Octavia. She shrugged as there was only one thing left to do and she had actually planned to do tomorrow. Housework!

Octavia matched every move of the unicorn. Dusting, cleaning the table, cleaning the windows and even taking the garbage out of the bin and putting it outside the front door. There was music everywhere, she saw that now. Her hindlegs were beginning to hurt after standing up for so long against her cello. As Vinyl didn’t have any more tasks left it was a good time as any to take a break.

“Did you hear that?” Octavia asked and dropped on all fours after resting the cello in its stand.

“Yeah!” Vinyl grinned along with her friend. She was exhausted from all the work, but the smile on Octavia’s face was worth it all. “And it was brilliant!”

“Oh, thank you, thank you!” Octavia practically hopped over to Vinyl and hugged her. “If it had not been for you I would have never figured it for myself!”

“You’re welcome, but I’m sure you would have done so at some point.” Vinyl brushed off the praise, but gladly hugged her friend back.

“Nonsense! You are the reason I actually might have a chance now of getting into the Royal Canterlot Orchestra!” Octavia hugged Vinyl a little closer. “Thank you so much!” She kissed Vinyl’s cheek.

Perhaps it was the fact of seeing Octavia so overjoyed that made Vinyl a little more bold than before. Perhaps it was the fact that she was hugging her so close. It didn’t really matter what it was, all that mattered for the moment was the fact that Vinyl kissed Octavia’s cheek in return.

Neither mare really realized that it had happened. Slowly it crept into the forefront of their minds. They broke their hug, both of them now with a heavy blush on their cheeks.

“Uh…like I said, you’re welcome.” Vinyl rubbed the back of her head with a hoof.

“I..uhm…thank you?” Octavia didn’t quite know how to respond. She gave Vinyl an awkward smile and rubbed the back of her head with a hoof. Neither mare seemingly willing to address what had just happened.

Vinyl cleared her throat before speaking, “I think I need a shower. All that moving about made me work up a sweat…hehe…”

Vinyl trotted away quickly into the bathroom to take a long cold shower and hopefully wash that blush away. Octavia watched her for a moment, her left hoof unconsciously reaching up to the cheek Vinyl had kissed.

She shook her head clear once she realized what she was doing.

It was just a friendly gesture. Just like when my parents kiss me on the cheeks as a form of greeting. Yes, that sounds about right.

Regardless of her thoughts, for some reason her heart was pounding away in her chest.

That will be because of the music.

Octavia nodded once to reaffirm her conclusion and took up position behind the cello.

Some music made by myself should help.

Octavia glanced about the room for any kind of inspiration. Without anything moving it was impossible for her to play an accompanying soundtrack. The still life of the living room and kitchen was without music. She scoffed at her predicament.

I still have my imagination.

Octavia closed her eyes and tried to conjure up any kind of moving image. The sound of the shower turning on distracted her for a moment. Then she began imagining rain thanks to the sound of the water.

It only took her a few seconds to create music for the artificial rainfall in her mind. She smiled broadly at the ease with which she was now able to perform her own pieces of music. With short strokes she gave each droplet a note. She followed a drop all the way down to the ground. A sharp abrupt ending that left her unsatisfied.

It needs a softer ending.

Octavia followed another drop of water on its decent from high up. Instead of just letting it splatter on the ground, she gave it an obstacle. She imagined the drop falling from on leaf on a tree to the next, a dance between leaves, gravity and the droplet of water. It was a pleasant tune, but would end when it hit the hard surface of the floor.

Maybe something else instead of the ground.

The droplet fell a moment without any obstructions and then hit a softer surface. Octavia imagined the droplet landing on the coat of a pony.

Yes, a white coat seems right.

She followed the droplet as it gently rolled along the pony’s coat. Sliding along that soft yet firm surface, occasionally being obstructed by fine strands of electric blue hair from a mane. The droplet made its way along Vinyl’s neck and…

Octavia feverishly shook her head.

Where did THAT come from?

The blush once again crept into her cheeks as she lowered the bow. As if on cue Vinyl entered the room and chose wisely not to comment on the cellist’s current facial color. Without many words Octavia entered the vacated bathroom.

I think I also need a cold shower….


Roughly ten minutes later Octavia had finished her shower and felt somewhat normal again. With normal colors she trotted back into the living room to find Vinyl flipping through a magazine on the couch.

Vinyl didn’t look up as Octavia trotted past her to her cello.

“Well, I think I know what we have to do next, Tavi.” Vinyl flipped a page in the magazine. “You obviously have the skill to play with something going on in front of you.”

Octavia turned her head to the unicorn awaiting any other suggestions she might have.

“Now we just have to teach you to create music without visual aid.” Vinyl grinned at the magazine. “Unless of course the orchestra wouldn’t mind me on stage that is.”

“I don’t think they would be too happy about that.” Octavia grinned at the image of Vinyl on stage cooking something or dusting. “Besides, I already can do that.”

“Since when?” Vinyl looked up from her magazine.

“While you were in the shower.” Octavia answered truthfully and looked away from the unicorn.

“What did you imagine?” Vinyl asked innocently.

“I…uhm…” Octavia swallowed hard. “Water….just water.”

“Water?” Vinyl raised an eyebrow. “What did the water do?”

“It…fell.” Octavia smiled sheepishly, which in turn only made Vinyl look at her with even more curiosity. “Oh, look at the time!” Octavia pointed a hoof at the nearest clock. “And I have to restring my cello!”

Without waiting for a reply she shouldered her cello and quickly made her way to the music room. Vinyl watched her leave and tried to think what was so strange about falling water that Octavia had to leave in such a hurry.

In the music room Octavia began to restring her instrument. This day had been one of the most important steps for her in her building career. It had also been a day with very strange somewhat alien feelings for her. She grunted with annoyance as one little incident kept barging into her mind no matter how hard she tried to ignore it.

It was just a friendly gesture!!!

Chapter 28

View Online

31 days until the concert.

There was a distinct bounce to Octavia’s steps as she made her way through the entrance to her place of work. For the last few weeks she had been worrying about the looming performance that was expected of her. Now she could hold her head up high, as she had finally found the key to unlocking her creative side.

She grinned as she sat down at her place on stage. Lyra was already there, but as usual didn’t react in the slightest to anything going on around her. Octavia decided to have a talk with the lyrist after the day was done to tell her the huge piece of information she now held.

Octavia missed just hanging out with Lyra and Bon Bon. They both were her friends and to be forced apart by the bigotry of Ictus and the views of Equestria’s classical elite irked Octavia a lot. In truth it bothered her a lot more than it had before and she had wondered if that was due to seeing it’s effects first hoof or because it was one of her friends being affected by it.

She shrugged it off and didn’t dwell on that thought any longer. Today was going to be a good day, she felt it in her bones and Ictus wouldn't manage to ruin it for her.


“For crying out loud!” Ictus slammed a hoof on the surface of his stand. “Just play the damn notes!”

Octavia frowned at the conductor currently berating Lyra for a mistake that he apparently had heard. It was almost a routine in the meantime. At least once a day he would blame Lyra for something done wrong with the music. A totally uncalled for action as Lyra played her part perfectly every time, as far as Octavia could tell.

The rest of the ensemble had also changed their reaction to the constant berating of the mint green mare. At first a lot of them had found it entertaining, as time went by more and more were becoming either indifferent about it or embarrassed. Nopony dared say anything and Octavia remained quiet out of respect for Lyra’s wishes.

“Perhaps you could play your instrument better if you wouldn’t tire out your hooves from fiddling around with your two-bit hussy.” Ictus barked towards Lyra and turned his attention to the notes on his stand.

It was a good thing he didn’t watch Lyra at that moment. For the very first time Octavia noticed a reaction in the other mare’s face. Lyra clenched her jaws hard, the jawbones clearly visible for a moment. If looks could kill somepony then Ictus would have keeled over immediately after the look she was giving him. After a couple of seconds she had regained her composure and seemed as impassive as ever. Octavia had seen everything and kept glancing over to the lyrist every once in a while if she would show any other reaction.


Lyra had remained apathetic for the rest of the day. Once the practice was over she very quickly packed up her lyre and trotted off stage. Octavia needed a bit longer to pack up her cello and hurried after the other mare.

As she turned into the backstage hallway there was nopony to be seen. Octavia knew that Lyra had a bit of a head start, but she must have run to make it out of the building already.

Perhaps she went into one of the rooms….

With an uneasy feeling she trotted along the hallway. At the very end was Lyra’s room, formerly known as the janitor’s closet. Octavia heard a door open further along and quickened her pace. Only as she reached the end of the hallway did she notice that it made a sharp turn. A door just beyond the turn slammed shut. Octavia quickly rounded the corner and saw an emergency exit.

If her guess was correct it should lead out to the back of the building. The door swung open easily as she pressed a hoof against it. Indeed it was the alleyway behind the building that greeted her. A mint green unicorn however was not present. As Octavia stepped out of the building she briefly considered not following Lyra and rather visit her later at her home.

A loud metallic bang made Octavia jump in surprise. It had originated from further down the alleyway. Octavia had an uneasy feeling about that noise and debated if she should get some help before investigating. A series of smaller bangs followed her thoughts.

Maybe somepony is in trouble. Maybe it’s Lyra.

Octavia trotted towards the sound. If it indeed was Lyra then she would have to help her. In a pinch her cello case would function very well as a makeshift weapon of sorts. Of course she would have to remove her cello first.

A smaller alleyway branched off the large one and it was here that the bangs came from. With caution she carefully peeked around the corner to see what was going on. It was Lyra, heavily panting and her face contorted in anger. Apart from her friend nopony was to be seen.

“Lyra?” Since there was no danger to be seen, Octavia stepped into the smaller alleyway. “What are you doing?”

“Venting.” Lyra growled, spun around and kicked a ventilation shaft with her right back leg. The loud bang rang in Octavia’s ears for a moment.

“So I see.” Octavia glanced over to the ventilation shaft on the wall. It seemed to be relatively new based on how clean it was. But it was bent badly out of shape and had a plethora of dents running along it. Dents that had a distinct hoof-shaped look to them. “May I ask why?”

“Did you hear what he called Bon Bon?!” Lyra turned back to the target of her anger and gave it another solid punch. “I don’t care what he says about me, but when it’s about Bon Bon….”

A series of punches and kicks followed that made Octavia take a step back. She knew about Lyra’s temper and that she had taken classes on how to deal with it, but seeing it firsthoof was a shock to the cellist, the classes obviously forgotten for the moment. Bravely she closed the distance to her friend and grabbed Lyra’s right foreleg as it was about to deliver another punch.

“Stop!” Octavia’s order was ignored by the unicorn. Lyra had a surprising amount of strength in her as she freed herself from Octavia’s hold on her. With no other option Octavia stepped between Lyra and the ventilation shaft. “Stop it, Lyra! You are hurting yourself!”

Octavia pointed a hoof at the other mare’s right foreleg. A small cut was visible that was slightly bleeding. No doubt Lyra had received it during her assault on the hapless building equipment.

“You…” For a brief moment it seemed as if Lyra would continue her assault, ignoring a cellist stuck between sides. Then she sighed and with visible effort tried her best to calm down. “Yeah, you’re right.”

Lyra licked the cut on her foreleg and then began using her magic to cast the little first aid spell she knew. Octavia watched her closely for any signs of her anger resurfacing, but apart from breathing heavily the lyrist seemed to be calm again.

“Just how long have you been….venting?” Octavia asked and cast her eyes over the ventilation shaft.

“Don’t know. Couple of weeks maybe?” Lyra shrugged and finished casting her spell.

“A couple of weeks?” Octavia spun back around to her friend, eyes wide in shock. “You have been coming here and beating the hay out of building equipment for a couple of weeks?”

“Yeah.” Lyra shrugged once more. “It’s no big deal.”

“No big…” Octavia shook her head and rearranged the cello on her back. “No. This has been going on for far too long.”

“Wha…huh?” Lyra was shoved gently aside by the cellist. “Wait! What are you doing?”

“I am going to talk to Ictus.” The cellist’s voice was calm, but there was a fire to be seen in her eyes.

“What?” Lyra quickly hopped in front of Octavia and put a hoof against the grey mare's chest. “Why do you want to do that?”

“I have been sitting idly by for long enough.” Octavia explained and tried moving past the other mare. Lyra blocked her every move with ease thanks to not having a heavy case on her back. “Had I known that it was affecting you in this way, I would have said something a lot sooner!”

“Don’t do that!” Lyra feverishly shook her head. “You know what will happen!”

“Well, it can’t be worse than one of my friends getting so upset that she fights entire buildings!” Octavia felt her temper rising and a dark part of her was looking forward to telling Ictus a few things that badly needed to be said.

“Yes, it can.” Lyra shoved the cellist back a bit with surprising strength. “Listen, I know why he is hurling all those insults at me. There is more to it than just me being into mares.”

“Then what is it?” Octavia gave up her efforts to get past the mint green mare.

“He is trying to get me to quit.” Lyra explained and finally removed her hoof from the cellist’s chest. “I overheard him talking to one of the other musicians. If I quit then he can claim that he doesn’t have a suitable replacement. The Royal Canterlot Orchestra will then give him their lyrist as stated in the rules. That of course will boost the performance, in his mind at least, and he can reap even more glory. I am not going to give him the satisfaction of seeing me quit.” Lyra grinned a vicious grin.

“What about you?” Octavia asked after a few seconds of quietly digesting the information. “Shouldn’t you be having fun? Shouldn’t you be enjoying this?”

“Meh.” Lyra waved the questions away with a hoof. “I honestly couldn’t care less about it all. I like playing once again, but I am mainly doing this only for Bon Bon and the plans we have. Plans that aren’t cheap.”

“The bits?” Octavia knew of their plans. “That’s why you are doing this? For the bits you need?” Octavia just watched Lyra shrug once again in response. “I’ll give you the bits. It isn’t worth you getting so upset by him.”

“I can’t accept that.” Lyra shook her head. “Neither can Bon Bon. Thank you Octavia, really. But we need to do this ourselves. We need to earn it.”

“Do you think Bon Bon would approve if she knew what you are doing here?” Octavia asked immediately.

“No, but she doesn’t know does she?” Lyra put on a pleading smile. “Please don’t tell her, Octavia.”

For a long moment neither mare said anything. Octavia still felt the need to do something about the entire situation, but she knew that Lyra and Bon Bon wouldn’t accept any kind of offer she might give them.

“I won’t tell her.” Octavia finally answered. “You are really sure you want to continue with this?”

“Yeah, I am.” Lyra smiled. “When you love somepony, a little discomfort or doing stupid things is all part of the game.”

Octavia returned the smile, even though she had very little experience in the field Lyra was talking about.

“How is Vinyl?” Lyra asked with a smile that seemed to imply something Octavia didn’t quite catch.

“Oh, she is doing fine.” Octavia suddenly beamed a wide smile at Lyra as she remembered what she wanted to share with her. “She helped me figure out something very important!”

“Yeeeees?” Lyra leaned forward, very eager to hear something she had been waiting for a long time. “Has it finally happened?”

“YES!” Octavia managed a little hop of joy even with the heavy case on her back. “She helped me find out how to create my very own music!”

“That’s…” Lyra’s smile had frozen. “That’s great! Uhm…how did she do that?”

“It’s really simple.” Octavia didn’t notice that Lyra’s smile had turned slightly painful. “All I have to do is think of a scene as a movie and create the soundtrack for it on my cello!”

“That’s it?” Lyra gave her a skeptical look.

“Yes.” Octavia chuckled. “Really simple isn’t it? Can’t see why I never thought of that before.”

“I guess it is one of those cases where you don’t see what’s right in front of you the whole time.” Lyra’s tone of voice seemed to hint at something.

“I can be a little too focused I guess.” Octavia agreed after a moment of thought.

“You think?” Lyra shook her head. “Have you talked to Vinyl yet?”

“About what?” Octavia gave her friend a confused look.

“About Canterlot?” Lyra sighed as it was obvious that Octavia hadn’t even thought that far ahead.

“What about Canterlot?”

“You are the rising star here.” Lyra pointed a hoof back at the building behind them. “You have a first class ticket to the Royal Canterlot Orchestra in Canterlot.”

“You really think so?” Octavia smiled wide at the praise.

“The Royal Canterlot Orchestra, Octavia.” Lyra rolled her eyes as it was clear the cellist didn’t follow. “Canterlot. Vinyl has a job and a career here in Manehatten. After the concert you will stay in Canterlot and perhaps you should talk to Vinyl about that?”

Octavia’s smile died instantly. Up until now the thought hadn’t even crossed her mind that Vinyl might not be going to Canterlot with her. Despite standing in front of her oldest friend, she suddenly felt very alone.

“I don’t want to be a killjoy, but you two really need to talk about things.” Lyra put a hoof on Octavia’s shoulder. “Perhaps Vinyl has got a few ideas of her own on that subject.”

Octavia sighed and slowly nodded.

“And speaking of Vinyl, maybe you should get going and meet her.” Lyra nodded towards the location where Vinyl would now no doubt be worried sick that Octavia had not yet come out of the building. “You still have time to talk to her about anything in the future. For now just make sure she doesn’t file a missing ponies report for you.”

Lyra gave Octavia a little shove towards the exit of the alleyway.

“Are you going to be ok?” Octavia asked while glancing over her shoulder at the mint green unicorn.

“Don’t worry about me.” Lyra made a shooing motion with her hoof. “I’ll be fine. You go and meet Vinyl. Go on!”

Octavia nodded and made her way to the front of the conservatorium with a brisk trot.


Lyra had been right about Vinyl being worried. The white unicorn was pacing back and forth at the bottom of the steps leading up to the building. She didn’t see Octavia approach her from behind.

“Hello, Vinyl.” Octavia greeted her friend in a normal tone of voice, but it still made Vinyl jump and turn one hundred eighty degrees in air.

“Geez! Give a mare a heart-attack why don’t ya?” Vinyl held a hoof to her chest and took a few deep breaths of air. “I was getting worried.”

“Sorry, Vinyl.” Octavia gave Vinyl an apologetic look. “I had to talk to Lyra about something.”

“Something?” Vinyl cocked her head to the side. “Anything going on that I should be aware of?”

“Well…” Octavia wanted to explain the incident with Lyra, but Vinyl cut her off.

“Tell me on the way.” Vinyl trotted past the cellist and briefly paused to make sure she would follow. “I have to be somewhere soon, but I still have time to drop you off at home.”

“Where do you have to be?” Octavia held the pace Vinyl had set for them without any effort despite lugging her cello around.

“Hehe, that’s a surprise.” Vinyl grinned in reply. “Tell me what’s going on with Lyra.”


Octavia had finished her report about the lyrist as they entered their home. As was to be expected Vinyl was less than amused about Ictus behavior.

“That’s one pony that deserves his flank being kicked.” Vinyl snorted and let Octavia pass her in the doorway. “Dinner is already prepared, it’s just a salad so don’t get your hopes up, don’t wait for me with eating. I’ll be back in about an hour or two.”

Without waiting for a reply Vinyl closed the door and left Octavia alone. There still was the topic of Canterlot fresh on the cellist’s mind, but she was unsure how to approach the situation. With a heavy sigh she slid the cello case off her back and rested it against the wall beside the large pile of books.

One quick trip to the bathroom later, Octavia decided to have some of the salad that Vinyl had advertised. A series of frantic knocks on the front door halted her approach towards the kitchen.

It’s only been five minutes. Perhaps Vinyl has forgotten something?

Octavia opened the door only to find herself face to face with a very distraught looking Bon Bon. After the initial shock subsided Octavia made way for the other mare to enter.

“Bon Bon? What’s wrong?” Octavia closed the door and watched Bon Bon nervously pace around the couch.

“It’s Lyra.” The beige mare finally spoke with a slightly quavering voice. “I think something bad is happening.”

“Why do you think so?” Octavia gestured for Bon Bon to sit on the couch. After a moment of hesitation she did so.

“When she came home today she seemed off.” Bon Bon started to explain. “And it’s not just today. It has been like this for weeks. She tries to hide whatever is going on, but I know her well enough to notice the little things. And if I ask her directly she just says everything is fine.”

Octavia just nodded along. She knew very well what the matter was and now was unsure what to do with that information. She had promised Lyra not to tell Bon Bon after all.

“I know something is wrong with her. I think she might be sick.” Bon Bon’s voice cracked as her eyes began tearing up. “Today…I noticed a bit of blood on her leg. What if she needs help?”

Bon Bon started wailing loudly at the prospect that her beloved might be terminally ill. Octavia sat down beside the sobbing mare and gently pulled her into a hug.

“She is not ill.” Octavia said to the upset mare in her forelegs. “The bit of blood was just from a small cut she got at work. You don’t have to worry about her.”

“Yes. I. Do.” Bon Bon stammered between sobs, but slowly calmed down. “There is more going on here. I just know it.”

Octavia released Bon Bon from her hug and tried to act as if she didn’t know anything about Lyra’s situation. Bon Bon saw through the act almost immediately.

“You know something, don’t you?” Bon Bon held on to Octavia’s left foreleg as she tried to get away from the sweetmaker. “You need to tell me!”

“I have no idea what you mean.” Octavia’s tried a disarming smile. The look in Bon Bon’s eyes was one full of worry and sadness. The smile didn’t even last a second and Octavia sighed instead. “I promised her not to tell you.”

“You have to!” Bon Bon latched on to Octavia’s foreleg with both of her hooves. “Please, Octavia! I need to know what is going on with Lyra. I can’t rest not knowing that she is okay.”

“Alright.” Octavia didn’t really have a choice. It was bad enough for Lyra to be miserable and to also have Bon Bon in that state wouldn’t do either pony any good. “It’s the conductor at work.”

“That Ictus pony?” Bon Bon released Octavia’s leg from her grip. “Lyra said that he was very unpleasant.”

“That is possibly an understatement.” Octavia snorted dryly. “He has been harassing and verbally assaulting Lyra since the very first day.”

Bon Bon’s eyes widened in shock and just stared at Octavia in silence.

“Lyra didn’t show any kind of reaction at first, but today she sort of did when Ictus called you names.” Octavia felt Bon Bon’s look becoming uncomfortable and chose to look at the floor instead. “I followed her out of the building and found her letting off some steam by attacking the neighboring building’s ventilation shaft. That’s how she got that cut.”

“How long has she been doing that?” Bon Bon’s question was almost a whisper.

“A couple of weeks now. I only found out today myself.” Octavia answered truthfully. “I wanted to do something, but Lyra forbade it. She said Ictus is trying to make her quit, but she won’t do that because of the plans you have.”

Bon Bon finally broke the gaze she held on Octavia and cast her eyes to the ceiling. The cellist didn’t know what else she could add to everything she had already said. So she chose to not say anything and just watch Bon Bon out of the corner of her eye.

“I’ll wring her neck.” Bon Bon said after a good two minutes of silent thought. “Bucking hay.”

“No, no!” Octavia had only heard the words Bon Bon had said and failed to notice the sad little smile on her lips. “She is doing that for you, because she loves you.”

“Yes, I know that.” Bon Bon let out a little chuckle. “That damn mare had me worrying all this time, thinking she was dying or something.”

“You are not going to really wring her neck are you?” Octavia asked hopefully.

“Of course not.” Bon Bon sighed. “I won’t even let her know that I know what is going on.”

“Why not?” Octavia was glad that Bon Bon wouldn’t let Lyra know that she had spilled the beans.

“I can’t make her change her mind about her plans.” Bon Bon smiled and shook her head. “She can be really stubborn, especially if it involves me somehow. It’s best to just let her go along with it, at least now I know and will not keep asking her about it.”

Bon Bon hugged Octavia for a moment. “Thank you for telling me.” After breaking the hug Bon Bon got up from the couch. “Now I can at least stop worrying so much about her. Or at least worry a bit less, until she does something else stupid.”

“Lyra said that ponies do stupid things and suffer discomfort for the ones they love.” Octavia saw a smile form on Bon Bon’s face.

“There seems to be a lot of that going around at the moment.” Bon Bon smile turned into a smirk. “I guess we should count ourselves very lucky that we have somepony that love us so much.”

“Yes….we?” Octavia raised an eyebrow in question, but Bon Bon merely winked at her.

“Where’s Vinyl?” Bon Bon asked and kept smiling.

“She had to go out again and will be back in an hour or so.” Octavia explained confused at the sudden shift in conversation.

“Tell her I said hello.” Bon Bon stretched her limbs for a moment. “I best be getting back to my silly filly back home. Try and get her to relax a bit.”

Bon Bon left a still confused Octavia sitting on the couch and made her way to the front door.

“Thanks again for telling me.” Bon Bon nodded once more to the cellist and then left the apartment.

Octavia just stared at the front door for a couple of heartbeats. Her gaze slowly wondered away and came to a stop at the large pile of books.

Doing silly things…..

Octavia shook her head at the thought that had crept up in her mind.

That is preposterous. Vinyl can’t be thinking of me like that.

No matter how hard she tried to swat that thought away, it came back like a boomerang every time.

She just does those things because we are very good friends……right?


One and a half hours later the front door unlocked.

Octavia had finally managed to banish any absurd thoughts away and had just finished eating a large portion of the salad that Vinyl had made.

The creator of said deliciousness strode into the apartment bearing not only a large grin, but also a large brown box on her back.

“Hey!” Vinyl closed the door behind her and carefully levitated the box on to the floor. “I have something here for you.”

Octavia had originally planned to ask Vinyl about Canterlot, but decided to wait and see what had been so important for her to go out again.

“I spent the morning thinking about that thing you have to play during the concert. A Tale of Two Princes.” Vinyl opened the box and beckoned Octavia to come closer. “Then I got this really cool idea and after a couple of hours I found everything I needed.”

Octavia’s eyes went wide as she looked inside the box. Any thoughts that may have been coursing through her mind were eradicated instantly as she laid eyes on the object within. An old projector and one reel of film!

Like a foal with sugar-withdrawal presented with a bag full of sweets, Octavia nearly dove into the box. Vinyl laughed and had to nudge Octavia away from the old and battered projector. She saw a hunger in the cellist’s eyes that made her look slightly crazy, a charming sort of crazy.

Anxiously Octavia hopped from one hoof to another while Vinyl levitated the projector out of the box and on to the table in front of the couch. A split second after the magic field had dissipated, Octavia was all over the device inspecting it thoroughly.

“I don’t recognize the model.” Octavia said while carefully checking the projector's functionality. “But the feeding mechanism seems to be in working condition. The bulb seems fairly new and somepony has recently cleaned the lens. The loudspeaker is missing.”

Octavia’s projector back in Canterlot was leagues above the one in front of her right now, but at that moment it was the most beautiful thing she had seen in a long time. It had been months since she last saw a movie and that itch suddenly began flaring up.

“Were there any movies with it?” Octavia hopefully asked.

“Nope.” Vinyl activated her levitation spell once more and applied it to something left in the box. “But I have managed to find something special.”

Vinyl levitated a film reel into the outstretched and eager hooves of the cellist. The earthpony quickly cast a glance at the worn out label on the reel.

“A Tale of Two Princes!” Octavia grinned wide.

“Yep! I thought it might be a good idea to have some kind of visual aid for you to create some music with.” Vinyl began folding up the box with her magic.

“Are you going to hook up one of your loudspeakers?” Octavia asked and immediately began preparing the projector for use. It had been too long since she last saw a movie and nothing would stop her from doing so now.

“Nope.” Vinyl grinned at the almost pleading look the cellist was now giving her. “You are supposed to make your own sound. Would be a lot easier without any other distracting noises, am I right?”

Octavia had to agree that she had a point. If she heard the soundtrack already being used, she would most likely just play that instead.

“What about the rest of the movie?” Octavia had to watch the entire thing right now. There was no alternative for her. “Can’t we at least listen to that?”

“I have a better idea.” Vinyl’s grin got a little wider.


Octavia had tears in her eyes and her stomach was aching by the time the movie had ended.

Vinyl had decided to provide the sound herself and dub the entire two hour movie on the fly. What originally was a tale about two princes that were separated by war, only to be reunited much later to conquer the evil that had befallen the land, was turned into a story about special agent Hugh Jazz and his partner McStiffy that had to retrieve the stolen cheesecake recipe from a maniacal pretzel-obsessed evil baker.

Octavia had not laughed that much in a very long time. With a shaky hoof she wiped the last few tears out of her eyes and let out a cough. Vinyl used the moment to begin the rewinding process.

“That was fantastic!” Octavia managed to say after a moment and held her still aching stomach.

“Perhaps I should get into the dubbing business.” Vinyl joked and flipped off the bulb of the projector.

“You would make a fortune.” Octavia would most certainly be the first to buy any films dubbed by Vinyl if that ever would happen.

Octavia stretched as far as possible and yawned widely. While it was still reasonably early she felt sleep demand that she go to bed soon.

“Bon Bon says hello, by the way.” Octavia said as she remembered some of the events while Vinyl was out and about.

“Oh, did you meet earlier?” Vinyl asked and decided to leave the projector where it was. They would be using it quite a lot, so it wasn’t really worth packing up.

“She dropped by while you were out.” Octavia took off the bowtie she was still wearing. “Wanted to know what was going on with Lyra.”

“Did you tell her?” Vinyl yawned as well and decided to call it a night very soon.

“I had to.” Octavia shrugged. “She was in tears and I couldn’t really let her go in that state. I think it was for the best.”

“I guess I would have done the same.” Vinyl sighed. She hadn’t seen Lyra and Bon Bon in a very long time and she missed them.

“Vinyl…” Octavia remembered something else she wanted to ask her friend. “Will you…uhm…will you come to Canterlot with me for the concert? I really could need your support.”

“Silly question.” Vinyl grinned. “Of course I’ll go with you. Mind you, I haven’t yet had the chance to make a sign to hold up during your bit.”

“I think I will get along without a sign.” Octavia smiled sleepily. “Thank you Vinyl.”

Vinyl just grunted in response and trotted into the kitchen to grab something quick to eat before going to bed. Octavia more or less let herself drop from the couch on to her hooves and trudged towards her bedroom.

“Good night, Vinyl.”

“Sleep well, Tavi.” Vinyl grinned at the cellist. “Hope you don’t dream about a Hugh Jazz.”

Octavia chuckled quietly all the way to her bed. She hadn’t really asked Vinyl if she would stay in Canterlot with her, but having Vinyl there during the concert was a good first step. Her sleepy mind wasn’t much for thinking right now anyway. It could wait for later.

Chapter 29

View Online

10 days before the concert.

Vinyl’s idea to show Octavia the scene she would have to write a score for worked perfectly.

Every waking moment the cellist poured her efforts into creating something that would awe her audience. She pretty much lost sight of everything else around her. Questions she wanted to ask were locked away deep within. Her focus was her music and soon she would reap the rewards for her diligence.

Vinyl knew that it was important for Octavia to concentrate on the looming performance. She did what she could to make it easier for Octavia to do her work. It did mean that they talked a lot less and rarely did anything else than Octavia playing her cello and Vinyl rewinding the scene of the bridge from the movie she had organized.

But soon it would all be over and they could forget about deadlines for a while. At least that was what Vinyl hoped. A feeling of dread kept building up in the unicorn about that day. She had no idea what the future would hold, but hoped it involved Octavia in some way. She dared not bring up that topic with her out of fear it might disrupt the cellist’s creative side.

In order to take her mind off things, Vinyl had begun making her own music again. All the tracks she had made were now property of Big Time. She had given them to him to make sure Octavia wouldn’t face any negative consequences from her antics at the club so long ago. He had kept his word and had paid Vinyl in full. Having a handsome sum of bits on her hooves was nice, but she didn’t even know what to do with it all.

Vinyl was so absorbed in her music that she barely noticed the door opening and a pony walk into the room. She jerked back in shock as the pony laid a hoof on her shoulder.

“What the…” Vinyl only now noticed who had surprised her. “Lyra?”

“What’s up, Vinyl?” Lyra smiled, but it was laced with nervousness.

“I…uhm…I’m fine.” Vinyl took off her headphones and switched off her deck. “What are you doing here?”

“The day has arrived.” Lyra answered and took a few steps back. Vinyl moved from behind her deck to stand in front of the other unicorn. “We are leaving.”

“Leaving?” Vinyl didn’t quite follow what Lyra meant.

“We are leaving for Ponyville.” Lyra answered and Vinyl remembered Lyra mention something like that a long time ago.

“Bon Bon’s shop.”

“Yeah. We finally have the bits we need to set it up there.” Lyra smiled again. “Once I get paid for my part in the concert we can buy all the equipment we need and start making sweets.”

Lyra awkwardly shuffled around on her hooves for a moment. There obviously was something on her mind, but didn’t quite know how to phrase it.

“Bon Bon is here as well?” Vinyl asked just to break the rising tension.

“Chatting with Octavia in the living room.” Lyra sighed and took a step closer to Vinyl. “Listen, Vinyl. I don’t want to just leave without at least trying to make amends with you.”

“You don’t have to do anything like that.” Vinyl protested, but Lyra cut her off.

“Yes I do. I left you sitting in the café at a time when I should have rather been there for you.” Lyra folded her ears down and lowered her head. “I’m sorry about that. It was your decision and I should have accepted that.”

“That’s ok.” Vinyl said halfheartedly, not really sure what to say.

“No, it isn’t. You are one of the few ponies I actually get along with. You are a good friend and I don’t really have the luxury to lose one.” Lyra was genuinely remorseful. “I miss just hanging out with you and have somepony to talk to. I should have buried the hatchet a long time ago.”

“I should have done the same.” Vinyl could have needed a friend to talk to quite a few times since they had last met.

“Can we just bury it all and start over?” Lyra’s tone was almost pleading. “I don’t want to leave for Ponyville feeling bad about what I did or didn’t do.”

“Yeah….yeah, let’s forget about it. Bygones and all that.” Vinyl offered her hoof in friendship.

“Don’t I get a hug?” Lyra shook the offered hoof while asking the question.

“Uh, sure thing.” Vinyl hugged Lyra. She felt a weight lift from her she didn’t even realize had been weighing her down. Regaining a friend felt great, the feeling of two hooves wandering down her sides to eventually rest on her flanks felt strange.

“You just wanted to get your hooves on my flank right?” Vinyl grinned while still hugging the other unicorn.

“Can’t blame a mare for satisfying her curiosity.” Lyra replied with an equally wide grin. “Just don’t tell Bon Bon.”

“You are terrible.” Vinyl broke the hug and took a cautionary step back from the lyrist.

“I know.” Lyra’s smirk slowly vanished. “But I really meant what I said.”

“I know.” Vinyl chuckled.

“So…what’s going on?” Lyra sat down on her rump, obviously not going to go anywhere until she had been updated on current events.

“Not really much.” Vinyl shrugged. “Lost my job. Helping Tavi with her music and that’s about it.”

“Lost your job?”Lyra raised an eyebrow. “I thought you quit?”

“It’s a little more complicated.” Vinyl also sat down. “Big Time found out about Tavi and pretty much blackmailed me into giving him all my music without taking credit for it.”

“That’s unfair!”

“I’m over that.” Vinyl shrugged it away. “It was bad in the beginning, but now I don’t really care.”

“What about Octavia? Does she know?”

“No and I don’t plan to tell her.” Vinyl gave the mint green mare a look implying that she shouldn’t say anything either.

“And what about Octavia herself?” Lyra asked with a smirk.

“The way it always is.” Vinyl sighed. “I sit and suffer as usual. Maybe after the concert we could have a moment to talk about stuff like that.”

For a long moment Lyra didn’t reply. Vinyl feared she would object, perhaps using the last time they were all together in this town to force some kind of confrontation.

“It’s your call.” Lyra gave her a small sad smile and closed the distance between them. Lyra put a hoof on Vinyl’s shoulder and her look turned serious. “Just promise me that if things go bad and you need help or just a shoulder to cry on, that you will come to me. Ponyville isn’t that far away and has a train running through every few hours.”

“I promise.” Vinyl gave her friend a genuine grateful smile. It felt good to be able to call Lyra a friend again.

“Then let’s see what our mares are up to shall we?” Lyra offered to which Vinyl just nodded in response. Together they made their way into the living room.


Octavia smiled as Lyra and Vinyl entered the living room. Bon Bon had told her while they were alone that Lyra’s attitude had become more relaxed. Thanks to the information provided by Octavia, the sweetmaker knew how to deal with Lyra’s stressful time at work. She had thanked her again for telling her and also had informed her of them leaving the city.

It was something of a shock to Octavia. Apart from Vinyl, Lyra and Bon Bon were the only ponies here that she had any sort of regular contact with. Knowing that they would leave the city saddened the cellist. Yet at the same time she was happy that they could achieve the dream they had about running their own little shop.

She hoped that she would be able to achieve her own dream very soon. There were things to consider, but those could wait.

“I actually have something for you.” Octavia told Bon Bon while trotting over to the small pile of letters on the kitchen table. After a bit of rummaging around in the disorganized pile, she finally found what she was looking for. “This is for you.”

“What is it?” Bon Bon took the small thin piece of paper in her hooves and examined it with widening eyes. “This is a ticket for the concert!”

“My parents sent me their tickets.” Octavia explained to the awestruck Bon Bon. “They are out of town unfortunately during the concert, but left me the tickets to give to you rather than just giving them back.”

“Thank you!” Bon Bon had tried to get a ticket for herself, but that particular concert was sold out almost immediately. As was the usual case for anything that Princess Celestia would be attending.

“Check out the seating.” Vinyl nodded to the ticket in Bon Bon’s hooves. She had been given the second ticket and was happy not having to somehow break into the place to see Octavia play.

“Front row!” Bon Bon was speechless. The ticket in her hooves cost more than she had made in ten months working at her old job. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Think nothing of it.” Octavia said with a smile. “You should see Lyra on stage.”

“Awesome!” Lyra made a hoofpump. “That means there will be one pony in the audience that I’ll gladly play for.”

“What about me?” Vinyl feigned being offended at being left out.

“I’ll make some kind of silly face for you, Vinyl.” Lyra laughed along with Vinyl.

“Please not during my part.” Octavia knew that Lyra wouldn’t make any silly faces, after all she was rather professional when it came to playing on stage, but she still felt the need to make that request.

“I’ll try.” Lyra winked at the cellist.


Bon Bon and Lyra had stayed on for dinner. After a lot of chatting and Bon Bon gushing over her new place in Ponyville the evening came to a close.

It was a bag of mixed feelings for all mares involved. On one side they would see each other soon again in Canterlot, but on the other side it did mean that they would be far apart once more. Writing letters was fine, but it just wasn’t the same as hanging out and sharing a laugh.

Slightly teary eyed the friends said their goodbyes to each other. Octavia closed the door behind them and sighed. There were a few things she should talk about with Vinyl, but her heart wasn’t in it at the moment. Vinyl seemed to think the same way as she remained uncharacteristically silent.

“We should start thinking about when we should go to Canterlot.” Octavia said as she sat down at the table to sort her mail a bit more thoroughly.

“I don’t really mind when. Any date you pick is fine by me.” Vinyl replied from the kitchen and began cleaning up the leftovers from dinner.

“Don’t you have to work at the club?”

“Nah, don’t worry about the club. They most certainly won’t mind me going someplace.” Vinyl chuckled without humor.

“Then I think we should go a day or so before the concert.” Octavia’s eyes lit up as she remembered something else. “We can go to the firefly dance.”

“I’m not really a pony for dancing.” Vinyl let the sink run full of water.

“No, that’s…haven’t you ever been to that event? It is every year.” Octavia turned around in her chair to look at Vinyl.

“It is in Canterlot and has something to do with dancing.” Vinyl grinned. “So no, I never went. Twirling around in a dress isn’t my kind of entertainment.”

“It isn’t…” Octavia stopped herself from revealing anything. “We’ll go to that dance.”

“Really?” Vinyl sighed in defeat as Octavia’s tone of voice left no room for discussion. “Do I have to wear a dress?”

“No, you don’t.” Octavia grinned. “It will be a surprise. Trust me, you’ll like it.”

Chapter 30

View Online

One day until the concert.

The train ride to Canterlot from Manehatten had begun with a fair amount of stress.

While Vinyl had made arrangements to get to Canterlot with as much comfort as possible by booking a first class compartment, they still had to actually get to the train first. Manehatten’s central station was packed full of ponies coming in and leaving the city.

Very much like their first arrival the sheer amount of ponies wasn’t something they were used to. Octavia especially had a hard time navigating the sea of ponies with her cello on her back. After being herded here and there, the cellist had enough and barged her way through the loudly complaining ponies by using her cello case as a makeshift pony-plow. Vinyl followed her closely and ignored some of the very colorful insults being hurled at them. Bon Bon most likely would have fallen into a catatonic shock from it all.

Only once they had settled into their reserved compartment did they relax. The four seat compartment had been booked in whole by Vinyl. She didn’t want any other pony sitting with them and they needed a seat for the large cello anyway.

Vinyl sat at the window and watched the ponies pushing and shoving their way on the platform. Octavia checked her cello for the third time in a couple of minutes and then finally settled down beside the unicorn.

Nearly five minutes after the train had left the station Vinyl heard the first snore from her right. Sure enough Octavia had fallen asleep, the snore being the first clue and the fact that she was now slightly drooling solidified the fact that the cellist was dreaming some hopefully pleasant dreams. Vinyl had not dreamt pleasantly in the last few days.

They had worked hard on Octavia’s music and had finally nailed it down. Vinyl had the reoccurring dream about rewinding movie reels that kept unwinding by themselves. She was happy that she wouldn’t have to be doing that anytime soon again.

The DJ watched the landscape pass by and felt the strange longing to stop the train and explore the vast fields and experience nature. The park in Manehatten had been nice, but she knew there was more to see. Maybe one day she would get the chance to visit a more rural place, away from the hectic city life. She could visit Lyra and Bon Bon in Ponyville or maybe track down Pinkie Pie and see where she had settled down.

Until then another city would be her next stop.


Canterlot was a stark contrast to Manehatten. Hard edges and rectangular buildings were replaced by elegantly designed curved architecture. The color-scheme of grey, blue and brown and been replaced by more refined tones that made the city on the side of the mountain seem like an old painting.

The change in the mares returning from Manehatten was immediate. Octavia automatically held her head up higher, her nose turned slightly up and even her manner of speaking had changed.

“Is it not marvellous?” Octavia’s voice had the distinct Canterlot accent that was so typical for the snobbish elite of the city.

Vinyl on the other hand let her head hang a bit lower. She was aware of the looks again. In Manehatten ponies would glance at her and then ignore her. There she was just one of many colorful characters and didn’t stick out like a sore hoof. Here in Canterlot ponies stared a lot longer at her. Clearly marking her as an outsider and slightly weary of her appearance.

“Yeah….groovy.” Vinyl ignored the looks and followed the energized trot her friend had taken up.

Octavia had never felt quite at home in Manehatten. Being back had made her realize just how much she missed the elegant city. She eagerly looked around at all the familiar buildings and streets on their way to their apartment.

They could have taken a carriage, but Octavia felt the need to be on the streets of her home town again. Her heavy case and saddlebags seemed to weigh nothing and Vinyl struggled to keep up. The DJ had only packed her bits and the ticket for the concert. There was no need for her to bring her deck along and it was safely stored away at home in Manehatten.

As they entered their building, Vinyl found something she had missed here in Canterlot. The luxury of not trudging up stairs was something she really could get used to. She leaned against the doorframe of the elevator and patiently waited for it to arrive. With a “ping” the door slid open and Vinyl couldn’t resist to give the frame a friendly pat as if greeting an old friend.

It was a strange feeling that befell both of them as they stood in the elevator with mirrors on all sides. For Octavia it was a feeling of coming home. A comforting feeling to be in a place where everything was the way it should be.

For Vinyl it was a reminder of how things had been. She studied her reflection in the mirror beside her. The first time she had looked at it she had not been in the best of shapes. Almost starving and with no other options she had followed Octavia’s invitation into her home. Now she was back to her usual outward appearance. She owed Octavia a lot and she was going to repay her in full. The day in question less than twenty four hours away.

Octavia unlocked the front door and rushed inside. She gave the room one quick look all over and then practically jumped to the numerous reels of film lining the wall behind the large couch. Vinyl thought she could hear the cellist purr with delight at being reunited with her beloved movies.

The strange feeling remained in the DJ as she sauntered over to the large couch. In a way it did feel like coming home. She had spent a long time here just recovering from her ordeals and she had made a number of good memories here.

Octavia finished her thorough inspection of her movies to see if they needed taken care of. As the entire place was spotless she assumed correctly that her parents, most likely her mother, had hired a cleaning crew to get the place ready. She spied a folded up letter on the coffee table and decided to have a look at it as soon as she cleared away her cello.

She was in for a surprise as she opened the door to the room with all the musical equipment. Save for her stand the room was empty. It obviously meant that her parents had finally finished adding a room for all the equipment her father collected in their house. Octavia wasn’t too sure what to do with such a large empty room, but in time she might find some kind of use for it.

With the cello safely deposited in the music room she trotted over to the couch to see what the letter read. Vinyl inspected the rest of the apartment. Everything was pretty much the way she remembered it, even the fridge had been recently stocked with food. As she was feeling a bit peckish she decided to raid the fridge for anything quick and tasty.

Octavia meanwhile read the letter left for her by her mother. Chisella confirmed her suspicions about the missing musical instruments and left a few addresses where she could get in touch with them should anything come up. With nothing else left to do she decided to have a nice long bath with plenty of bubbles and relax. On the way to the bathroom she stopped by the kitchen to see Vinyl with her head in the fridge.

“My mother says hello.”

“Oh, cool.” Vinyl briefly retracted her head from within the cold depths to smile at the other mare. “Do you want something to eat?”

“No, thank you.” Octavia nodded towards the bathroom. “I intend to take a very long bath. Do you need to go in first?”

“Nah, I’m good.” Vinyl stuck her head back in the fridge.

As Octavia entered the bathroom she had a long forgotten memory flash in her mind. She remembered bursting through the door and finding an unconscious unicorn lying on the floor. It had given her nightmares for a while, but until now she had completely forgotten about it. The memory spooked her and she felt the need to trot back to the kitchen.

“Are you ok, Vinyl?” Octavia asked the unicorn still stuck in the fridge.

Vinyl gave her a puzzled look as she turned to look at her, half a carrot sticking out the side of her mouth. “Uh…yeah? Why?”

“Nothing…just making sure.” Octavia smiled and left a very confused unicorn alone with her carrot.

As she let the water run into the bathtub and adding a generous dose of bubble-mix another memory surfaced. This time of Vinyl assaulting her with cake in the kitchen. Octavia chuckled at the chaos they had caused and the amount of time they had invested to clean it all back up again. Somehow it seemed as if they had been more carefree back then. Octavia had been so focused on her career that small things had to be put on hold. Pranking had taken a step back in their activities and Octavia laughed out loud at the memory of waking up with yoghurt cups on her hooves.

There would surely be time for all of that again once the pressure from the looming concert was over and done with. With that thought she eagerly dove into the large bathtub.


Three hours the bath had lasted.

As Octavia left the bathroom she truly felt at home after that long ritual. It was already dark outside so she switched on the light in the hallway. The absence of any other light puzzled her. She took a quick look into Vinyl’s bedroom to see if the mare had fallen asleep.

The bed was neatly made but void of any unicorn. Octavia checked the kitchen and the living room for her friend. She finally found Vinyl sitting in the dining room looking out of the large window. The unicorn noticed Octavia approach and turned her head.

“Oh, good you are out.” Vinyl trotted past her with a certain urgency. “Be right back.”

Octavia chuckled and sat on the spot Vinyl had vacated. The view was as spectacular as always, even though she had seen it countless times before. The city was so calm and peaceful, thousands of lights shining in the darkness that was falling over the land.

The last time she had seen the view from up here had been with Vinyl during Hearth’s Warming Eve. It had been the night she had extended her hoof in friendship, something that Vinyl gladly took. Octavia smiled at the memory and what it had led to. She had found a friend that evening. A friend that did so many things for her she realized.

Perhaps it was the fact that she was at home that her mind began to wander down unfamiliar avenues. She was aware of the fact that Vinyl had done a lot for her. The unicorn had made her life substantially easier and was always there for her. Octavia had taken the care she was given more or less for granted after a while. Her career was too often on the forefront of her mind. She hadn’t even thanked Vinyl properly for everything she had done and kept doing. She felt guilty about that, but it was something that she could always rectify. In fact she decided to do just that as soon as Vinyl returned from the bathroom.

Vinyl took her time in the bathroom. Octavia strained her ears to hear any kind of noise coming from within. Very faintly she picked up the unmistakable sound of a shower. A devilish grin spread on her lips as she toyed with the idea of turning on the hot water in the kitchen. Then she remembered that it only worked in the Manehatten apartment. It was too bad as a little prank would have been nice.

Octavia spent the time alone to watch the lights in the city flicker on and off here and there. Ponies going about their business at home or at work. She caught glimpse of a few pegasi rearranging clouds above the city. She knew why they were doing that, as it happened every year. It was a conscious effort to block out the moonlight and make the city as dark as possible for this one special night.

She heard Vinyl trot back towards her and mentally tried to find the right words with which to thank Vinyl.

“What’s up?” Vinyl’s spirits were high again after the refreshing shower.

“Vinyl?” Octavia turned to face her friend and gently smiled. “I have to tell you….” She caught glimpse of the clock hanging on the wall. “…that we are going to be late!”

Octavia rushed passed Vinyl and grabbed her saddlebags from where she had dropped them earlier.

“Uh…what? Late for what?” Vinyl watched Octavia hastily put on her bags.

“The dance!” Octavia had totally forgotten the time and she desperately wanted Vinyl to see what it was all about.

“The firefly thing?” Vinyl quickly copied Octavia’s actions and put on her own saddlebags. “Should we bring something to wear or so?”

“A blanket!” Octavia answered after a moment of thought.

“A…blanket? What kind of a dance is that supposed to be?”

Octavia just smiled. “You will see.”


“Why is it so dark here?” Vinyl asked as they entered Canterlot’s largest park.

“Taking the sunglasses off might help.” Octavia suggested and led the way further inside.

“I already put them up on my head.” Vinyl glanced up to the sky. “You can’t even see the moon and they want to have a dance here tonight?”

“You’ll see.” Octavia led the way off the regular path.

“Shouldn’t we be going with the others ponies?” Vinyl glanced over her shoulder at the numerous other ponies flocking around in the park in almost total darkness.

“I know a much better spot.” Octavia hoped she wasn’t promising too much. They were running late and the best spots might already have been taken.

Octavia grinned as she found her favorite spot empty. On top of a small hill a large oak had claimed the best view of the park for itself. Perhaps ponies thought there wasn’t any comfy place for them among the vast number of roots from the tree. Her parents had found the perfect spot a long time ago. Between two large roots there was a patch of ground void of any roots, a perfect location to see the spectacle soon to unfold.

Vinyl tripped over a root and charged up a small light spell in her horn.

“No lights!” Octavia quickly commanded. Vinyl obeyed and snuffed out the light on the tip of her horn instantly.

“What’s with all the secrecy?” Vinyl asked and tried her best to help Octavia lay out the blanket they had brought along. “Do you mind maybe giving me a little bit of information? I don’t like being kept in the dark….while in the dark.”

“It is a very old event created by Princess Celestia herself.” Octavia smoothed out the soft blanket with a hoof and decided it was time to give Vinyl a little bit of information. “It has something to do with her sister. Princess….something.”

Octavia had never been much of a history buff when it was not about anything music related. She was relatively sure to have learned about it in school, but for the moment it escaped her.

“There must be a plaque or something of the kind closer to the center that tells the story behind the dance.” Octavia sat down on the blanket and looked over the park below. “We can come here in daylight and find out tomorrow if you like.”

“Yeah, might be interesting.” Vinyl sat down beside the cellist.

There wasn’t all that much space between the large roots of the tree and keeping a certain level of distance was impossible. So they sat side by side, their flanks touching. It was nice and cozy in a way.

“Do you come here every year?” Vinyl asked and watched the shadowy figures wander about in the park below. A single light in the middle of the park barely managed to illuminate more than just a few meters around it.

“I haven’t been here in ages.” Octavia confessed, struggling to remember when exactly she had been here last. “I think the last time I was here was with my parents. I remember standing on my father’s back to get a better view.”

“So…you were here last year?” Vinyl joked, a bit of nervousness in her voice at being so close to Octavia in the dark.

“Hardly.” Octavia smiled unseen by the unicorn. “I think I may have been five or six at the time.”

Vinyl merely grunted in response. For a while neither mare said anything and just let the scene play out in front of them. A pony dressed up in an old-timey uniform could be seen standing beside the lone light in the park. From this distance it was impossible to tell if it was a mare or a stallion.

Although they couldn’t be seen, there must have been a lot of ponies in the park hidden in the shadows. The conversations blended together into a low rumbling sound that reached the musicians up on the small hill. A spike of laughter sometimes echoed above the noise. It had a rather relaxing effect on the two mares and unconsciously they leaned just a bit closer to each other.

Slowly the light dimmed even more until it shut off completely. Instantly all the voices became silent and the entire park seemed to be void of any life. Vinyl was totally confused by what was happening and looked over to Octavia. If she strained she could barely make out the cellist just beside her.

“It’s beginning, look!” Octavia whispered.

A lone tiny light suddenly blinked into existence. A second later it seemed to switch off again. Vinyl held her breath and watched closely at what was happening.

At a different location a light lit up and drifted about for a moment. A second one rose up from the ground and followed the first light. Soon more little lights rose up and gently floated around the park below. Vinyl suddenly realized what she was seeing.

“They’re fireflies!” Vinyl whispered with joy. “But why now? It isn’t the right time of year for them, is it?”

“That’s because of the Princess.” Octavia explained not taking her eyes of the growing number of lights below. “I think she had cast some kind of spell for them to do that every year.”

“That’s all that happens?” Vinyl asked with amazement.

“Remember the light in the middle of the park?” Octavia didn’t wait for a reply. “It is actually a crystal and the fireflies will circle around it and sort of charge it up. When it is full with energy a beam will shoot up and dispel the clouds above. The entire park is then bathed in moonlight and the fireflies go back to sleep.”

“That’s awesome.” Vinyl had a hard time keeping track of all the little lights slowly dancing through the pitch black park. A few quiet hushed Ooooh’s and Aaaaah’s could be heard from the crowd hidden in darkness.

Dozens of little lights slowly began to change their flight path. They began circling the light in the middle of the park. More and more rose up from the ground, the bushes and the trees joining the rest of their fellows circling through the air. Like hundreds of little stars drifting through the night sky in total silence.

Vinyl couldn’t take her eyes off this spectacle even for an instant. She jumped a little as Octavia quietly spoke up.

“I’m glad you threw up on my cello.” Octavia had decided to talk to Vinyl about a few things and to break the ice with a little half-joke.

“I can do it again if you insist.” Vinyl joked back in a whisper.

“That will not be necessary.” Octavia nudged Vinyl’s shoulder with her own. “But if it had not been for that action we might have never met.”

Octavia sensed that she now had Vinyl’s complete attention.

“I know that I have not been a very easy pony to be around in the last couple of months.” Vinyl took a breath to possibly object, but Octavia didn’t give her the chance. “Please let me say what I need to say.”

“I have taken what you did for me without ever thanking you for it. I know you have done a lot for me over the last few months and even here in Canterlot before we moved to Manehatten. You may have sacrificed some things in order to help me.”

It was good that they couldn’t see each other’s faces, as Vinyl’s expression clearly read as ‘You have no idea’.

“I just want to say ‘Thank you’ from the bottom of my heart. I promise I will find some way to make it up to you.”

“You don’t have to do that.” Vinyl replied after a couple of moments in silence. “I gladly did everything for you, because you are dear to me. You are….special….uh…shoo.”

A firefly had decided to interrupt the little discussion by landing on the tip of Vinyl’s nose. It flared up its light and bathed the unicorns face in a soft glow. Vinyl tried to blow it gently away after verbal requests had been ignored.

She had the distinct feeling that the little creature was offended by her efforts to remove it from its newly found resting place. It turned around and held its tiny head up high, if an insect had the ability to huff it most certain would have. With fluttering wings it took off and very slowly hovered in front of Vinyl’s face.

Vinyl had momentarily forgotten the discussion with Octavia, too fascinated by the insect in front of her. As a means of making peace with the insect she held out her hoof. The firefly circled around her outstretched hoof once and then decided that it was suitable as an alternative resting place for the time being.

The unicorn watched the little creature on her hoof with wide eyed wonder. It had left its light shining for the moment. She let out a foalish little giggle and wasn’t aware that Octavia’s look had not moved from her even for a second.

Dear to me….special….

Octavia watched the little light reflect in Vinyl’s crimson eyes. It was a moment of complete serenity and slowly the world around her faded into nothing as she repeated the words Vinyl had said in her head again and again.

The park faded away for the cellist. Slowly everything went away until it was just Vinyl and Octavia in a sea of nothing. Those ruby red eyes were suddenly now as fascinating as they had been the very first time she had ever seen them. One of a kind in a million, very much like the pony whom they belonged to.

“Why did I never see this dance before? Why didn’t I even know about it?” Vinyl asked with awe at being here so close to nature.

“Sometimes it is the things right in front of us that we cannot see.” Octavia remembered very well that Lyra had said something very similar to her not that long ago. Now she understood what she had been trying to say.

Octavia inched a tiny bit closer. Nothing was clouding her mind this time. No music, no cities, no ponies, no concerts, nothing. In fact her mind wasn’t the thing controlling her body at the moment.

“Vinyl?” The whispered request by Octavia snapped Vinyl out of her hypnotic inspection of the bug.

She turned her head to face Octavia, her eyes going wide at how close the cellist was to her. Octavia saw the surprise in her eyes and as the initial shock settled she saw something else. Nervousness certainly, but also a longing look that she had never noticed before.

The firefly maybe sensed that it wasn’t the focus of anypony’s attention anymore and took off to join its brethren in the swirling mass of lights below. The mares were back in almost total darkness, it didn’t matter to Octavia. She closed her eyes, there was no need to see anything anymore. She only needed to feel.

She inched closer and felt the quick breath from Vinyl on her nose. They were now only mere millimeters apart, Vinyl not daring to move and Octavia drawing nearer.

A first almost accidental contact, the faintest brushing of lips against another pair. An alien feeling for the cellist, but one that felt right.

A second contact, more direct with the slightest bit of force to really feel the other being at her side. Octavia had admittedly no experience in this kind of behavior, but instinct seemed to do its part and guided her further.

A third contact, coupled this time with her lips gently moving. It was almost electric and every single hair on her body was on edge. A feeling swelled up inside of her, one that had been missing in her life until now.

It exploded in a wave of joy coursing through her body as she felt Vinyl finally return the kiss.

Chapter 31

View Online

The mass of fireflies swirled around the crystal on top of a staff in the center of the park. Slowly the crystal began to glow in a soft light blue light. Once the light had reached the same intensity of the fireflies around it a single thin beam shot up into the clouds high above.

For second or two nothing happened. Then slowly a small gap appeared, a thin beam of moonlight shining through. The gap widened gradually letting more and more moonlight bathe the park in its light. The fireflies shied away from the light and returned to where they had come from. Ponies sat mesmerized at the silent spectacle.

Two ponies didn’t even notice anything around them.

A white hoof gently laid down on a grey one. The touch was so familiar, yet so new for Octavia. New were also her thoughts about what was happening.

She now understood what the importance of a kiss meant.

A simple action, two sets of lips pressing against each other, yet so powerful that entire wars had been fought because of one kiss.

She understood why so many books had been written on that subject, why so many poems had been created. Why painters had dedicated their lives to try and capture that feeling in their work. Why musicians had tried to convey that feeling into music, regardless from which era they were. It was timeless, modern artists like Sapphire Shores had tried their hoof at creating music that reflected that feeling. Old classical composers had spent decades trying to find just the right blend of instruments to replicate the feeling, they all failed.


Through the swirling emotions in Octavia that one word echoed in her mind.

She felt Vinyl press closer to her, their chests now touching, a foreleg beginning to wrap itself around her in a hug. It should have been blissful, yet that damn words kept nagging in the back of her mind.

With a hard yank the reigns controlling Octavia were pulled away from her heart and back into the grasp of her mind. It connected dots for her, even though she didn’t ask for it to do so. It now began unraveling the cozy woolly feeling in her body and replacing it with the cold stark reality of what was going on.

Octavia pulled away from the embrace with Vinyl and opened her eyes. Vinyl still had her eyes shut, lips searching for the cellist. A grey hoof planted itself on Vinyl’s chest and gently pushed her away. Confused Vinyl opened her eyes.

Those eyes….

Even in the pale moonlight they shone bright. Confusion was replaced with worry as crimson eyes locked with lavender ones.

“Tavi?” A whispered question escaped her lips. A weight of worry attached to it.

“I…I shouldn’t have done that.” Octavia looked away from the unicorn, quickly scanning the area to see if anypony had noticed them.

“Hey, it’s ok.” Vinyl smiled gently. “It was dark and their attention elsewhere.”

It wasn’t just the immediate ponies around that Octavia feared of having seen them. It was all the other consequences that lay down the road she had taken. She shied away from Vinyl’s hoof on hers.

“Tavi?” Vinyl sensed that something was wrong. She didn’t even have to see the anguish in Octavia’s face.

“I’m sorry.” Octavia barely choked out those words. With one quick move she grabbed her saddlebags placed on the root beside her and took off.

“Tavi?!” Vinyl jumped to her hooves. “Tavi, wait!”

The DJ had not been paying any attention to her surroundings and didn’t notice the roots that her hooves now tripped over. She faceplanted into the somewhat soft ground with enough force to make her see stars. She turned her head and glared at the reason for her involuntary acrobatic number.

“Roots! Bloody roots!” Quickly she untangled her hooves from the tree and sprang back up to see where Octavia was.

Despite moonlight now flooding the park, there were still plenty of shadows around and a grey earthpony was almost impossible to spot. Vinyl quickly put on her own saddlebags and roughly shoved the blanket into them. She tried to think about what had just happened, but came up with no real satisfactory answer. Maybe Octavia had been spooked by being out in public and had simply overreacted.

The fireflies had vanished and thus the show was over. Ponies started to head towards the exits as there was nothing else worth seeing here tonight. Vinyl barged her way through a few lines of ponies casually walking about. In Manehatten she would have earned a glare and that was all. Here ponies started complaining loudly at the uncivilized behavior of the unicorn. Vinyl didn’t even hear any of it. All she cared about was finding Octavia.


Vinyl had searched the park for fifteen minutes and had not found the cellist.

With no other choice she rushed back to the apartment, hoping to find some clue as to the whereabouts of Octavia. Vinyl let out a sigh of relief as she heard a cello being played once she opened the front door.

Her relief turned into tension as she took note of the cello being played. It wasn’t a melody, it couldn’t even be classified as proper notes being played. It sounded like a bow being dragged over the strings in an effort to just produce noise and not just sitting in silence.

Vinyl followed the sound to Octavia’s bedroom. She switched the light in the hallway on and carefully opened the door. The cellist was sitting on her bed, facing away from the door, out the window and stopped her assault on the cello’s strings. The light was off and Vinyl couldn’t even see Octavia’s reflection in the window properly. She dared not enter and quietly spoke up from her position in the doorframe.

“Tavi? What happened?”

“I’m sorry, Vinyl.” Octavia’s voice was firm and calm. Too calm for it to be anything other than an act. “I shouldn’t have done what I did.”

“No, it’s ok, Tavi.” Vinyl tried to keep her own voice calm. “Nopony saw us.”

“It is not them I was thinking of.” Octavia didn’t turn around or move in any way. “I made a terrible mistake.”

“No!” Vinyl fought the urge to rush up to the mare. “It wasn’t a mistake!”

“Yes, it was.” Octavia’s voice took on a slight sad note. “It was nothing but a silly little action that has no importance whatsoever.”

“You are lying….” Vinyl thought she saw the cellist briefly flinch. The situation was not something Vinyl felt comfortable with, but within that discomfort she found strength. “It was important to you. It is important to me! Ever since we met I have been dying to tell you something.”

“I don’t want to know.” Octavia this time visibly cringed, her ears flattening against her head in an effort to block out any incoming sounds.

“But I need you to know.” Vinyl only briefly paused at Octavia’s request. “There is only one thing I want you to hear, to know. Tavi I lo…”

“DON’T SAY IT!” Any pretence of being calm vanished instantly as Octavia shrieked in panic. As if the words could harm her in some way. Quieter but voice thick with emotion she continued. “Please, Vinyl. I can’t….please understand, that I can’t! Please….”

Octavia watched Vinyl’s reflection fighting to come up with the right things to say, to do. Vinyl looked from Octavia to the floor and back again, her mouth opening to say something, but no word made it out. After agonizing moments that seemed to last a lifetime, Vinyl just nodded.

“I’m sorry Vinyl…..” Octavia said as Vinyl turned to leave.

The unicorn briefly paused and looked back at the cellist. Octavia could see the tears building up in the eyes of Vinyl’s reflection in the window. Then the unicorn turned around and left through the door. Octavia sat rigid on the edge of her bed. The cello clutched in a vice grip between her hooves. Only when she heard the front door closing did she release the instrument from her grip. With a dull thud it fell on the carpet.

“I’m sorry…..” Octavia whispered into the silence of her apartment.

Then she began to cry.


Vinyl stared at the streetlight visible from the window of the hotel room she was in.

It was an upscale hotel and she didn’t even remember how she had arrived here. She had plenty of bits in her saddlebag and could easily afford to stay a night here. And that’s all it would be, a night.

She had cried bitter tears for hours after arriving in the hotel. Her initial thought had been to go to Lyra and hope the lyrist had some kind of idea on how to salvage the mess she was in. But Vinyl didn’t even know where to find her friend. Was she already here somewhere in Canterlot or was she still in Ponyville? In her pain Vinyl also had considered going to Octavia’s parents, just to talk and help her through it all. As they were out of town she had been left alone with her thoughts.

Anger had reared its ugly head, but had just like the sadness and misery left her a while ago. Now she just felt numb.

Vinyl had played the blame game, but she simply couldn’t blame Octavia for doing what she had done. The only pony to blame in the entire business was herself.

She had been warned, by both Lyra and her father, that her course would lead to pain and suffering. Vinyl had ignored the warnings and chose to sit in silence beside the mare she loved. Then Octavia had made the first move. She had ventured into forbidden territory for an aspiring classical musician. Lyra being a good example of what would happen.

Then Octavia had chosen.

That was all it was. A choice she had to make, either her career or Vinyl. She had chosen her career and Vinyl could understand and even accept that. After all, she had spent months seeing how important it was to her and had done everything possible to help Octavia achieve her goal.

All that was left now was the future. Vinyl had reached a decision after thinking about it for hours on end. There wasn’t a future here in Canterlot for her. And as painful as it was, there wasn’t a future with Octavia either. Vinyl had decided to leave it all behind, go back to Las Pegasus and start over. A fresh start without anything even closely resembling a cello.

Vinyl would have taken the next train to Las Pegasus as soon as she had reached her decision, but there still was one last thing left to do. She would go to the concert, she would see Octavia rise to fame and glory, see her achieve her goal that they had worked on so hard. Then she would leave, knowing that Octavia was there where she belonged.


Octavia awoke late in the afternoon.

She had cried for hours on end until her body had given up and forced her to fall asleep in the early morning hours. A headache was her only companion this morning. The apartment was eerily silent and she found the silence to be a bit scary.

With heavy hooves she got out of bed and left her bedroom. The light in the hallway was still on and she switched it off with a quick flick of her hoof. A hopeful part of her made her stop on her way to the bathroom and turn towards Vinyl’s bedroom. One look inside just revealed that it was vacant. A snarky side reminding her that it was the guest room and not Vinyl’s room anymore.

Octavia growled the thought away and stepped into the bathroom. She went through her routine, but avoided looking in the mirror. She couldn’t face her reflection yet. The amount of guilt and regret coursing through her system made her whimper. With considerable effort she shoved those emotions away and locked them in a box deep within. She had something to do today and she couldn’t afford any distraction.

The cellist didn’t bother making something to eat. She just grabbed a few items that could be eaten straightaway and would fill her up. A couple of carrots, some dry bread and an apple was all she could eat.

She cringed as she sat in the kitchen all alone. Memories surfacing about a white unicorn assaulting her with cake. Octavia left the kitchen quickly, she couldn’t deal with those memories right now. Yet it seemed as if the entire apartment tried to force her to see old memories. The living room held the memory of them sitting together watching movies, the music room where she had first seen Vinyl’s eyes, the dining room where they had truly become friends.

The walls were closing in and Octavia was close to hyperventilating. She barely managed to keep it together and not break down in loud sobs again.

I have to get out of here.

Octavia trotted into the music room and grabbed her cello case. Quickly she packed up her cello and shouldered it. She snatched a bowtie from the drawer in her bedroom. She frowned as she held it against her neck and nothing happened. Normally they were enchanted to wrap themselves around her neck when she held them there. The realization that Vinyl had been the one to tie her bowtie every morning made her lip quiver.

Out! Now!

Octavia left the bowtie where it was and quickly strode to the front door. She had to talk to somepony. She needed help to get through everything, especially since she was supposed to be on stage in only a few hours. There was only one pony she could think of that might be able to help her. As she raced towards Canterlot’s main music hall she feverishly hoped that Lyra was already there.


The first pony Octavia bumped into just had to be Ictus.

Her plan had been to stow away her instrument someplace and then search for Lyra. The conductor was the last pony she wanted to see at that time and moment. Not only because of his general attitude, but also what his actions might be if he ever found out what Octavia had done.

“Ah, Octavia.” Ictus managed something that might have resembled a smile. “Good to see you are here. You can put your cello on stage.” He nodded towards a set of closed doors behind him.

Octavia wanted to get away from as fast as possible and just nodded. As she tried to walk past him in the backstage area they were in, he stopped her with a hoof on her shoulder.

“You are required to wear this.” Ictus levitated a white collar and black bowtie towards her. Octavia took it in her hoof with a short thank you. “There still is some time to go until the concert. You might want to use the time to freshen up a bit.”

Octavia ignored his critical tone and just walked past him with quick steps. A couple of musicians were on stage tuning and setting up their instruments. They noticed she was there, but didn’t bother to greet her. That was fine in Octavia’s book.

Hastily she unpacked her cello and placed it at her spot on stage. The curtains were wide open and she paused for a moment to take in the view. This was what she had dreamt of ever since she had played her very first note on her cello. It should have been a moment of exquisite joy, but her mind and especially her heart where elsewhere.

At the moment only a few staff ponies were carefully checking if everything was in order with the seats. The cleaning crews most likely had been through here earlier as everything seemed spotless. The stage was huge in comparison with the stage back in Manehatten. Here each musician would have enough space and not play in fear of having an elbow accidentally rammed into their side. She felt a tiny moment of anticipation as she viewed her spot in the ensemble, right in the middle front row.

Octavia felt the greater need to find a friend overwhelm her and she quickly left the stage. She had seen Lyra’s instrument already waiting for her on her place, so she was definitely somewhere in the building.

Knowing that Lyra would not be around any of her fellow musicians, Octavia searched the more desolate areas backstage. She had been here once before, a tour organized by her university class, so navigating the building was not too difficult for her.

She finally found Lyra leaning against a stack of boxes in a passage full of old props for some of the few shows that were performed here. The unicorn briefly glanced up at the new arrival and after registering that it was Octavia, she turned her attention back to the black bowtie around her neck.

“How do you wear these things without going nuts?” Lyra complained and adjusted the bowtie with her magic. “It’s like a very weak foal keeps trying to strangle me.”

“I need to talk to you.” Octavia whispered to her friend.

Lyra looked up from her efforts to make the bowtie more comfortable. Her eyes went wide as she saw the state the cellist was in.

“Uh…you ok?” Lyra asked and looked around to see if anypony was around.

“Something happened.” Octavia let her head hang in sadness.

“What did Vinyl do?” Lyra’s thoughts raced a mile a minute at any possible scenarios that might cause her friend to be in such a state.

“She didn’t do anything.” Octavia didn’t quite manage to look Lyra in the eye. “I did.”

“Like what?” Lyra was now just simply confused.

“I kissed her.” Octavia’s answer was barely audible, but Lyra heard it nevertheless.

For a moment neither mare moved or said anything. Then Octavia found herself being pulled along by a hoof towards some unknown destination. Lyra quickly rounded a corner at the end of the passage they had been in and dove towards a door marked as a bathroom. Octavia had no choice and tried her best not to fall flat on her face as she was being pulled along.

Lyra almost hurled the cellist into the bathroom and locked the door after entering the room. A quick glance revealed that they were alone. With a smile Lyra quickly closed the distance to where Octavia was sitting.

“Tell me everything!” Lyra’s big wide smile faded away after Octavia kept staring at the floor unable to quite put everything into words. “What happened? Why do you look like you have been sucking on a lemon all morning?”

“We were in the park watching the Dance of the Fireflies.” Octavia began after taking a deep breath. “And halfway through I felt….something. I just don’t know what happened, but I kissed her.”

“And then?” Lyra asked after waiting a few heartbeats.

“I pushed her away.” Octavia let her head hang even lower, her voice no more than a whisper. “I ran home and Vinyl arrived shortly afterwards. I said I was sorry and that it had been a mistake. Then she wanted to tell me….tell me…”

Octavia felt the tears building up and had to take a deep breath before continuing.

“I told her not to say anything. Then she left without another word.” Octavia finally looked Lyra in the eye with tear filled eyes of her own. “What should I do?”

Octavia could see the gears turning in Lyra’s head. The unicorn blinked and shook her head, desperately trying to understand what had happened. Then she groaned and threw her hooves up in the air.

“Oh, for crying out loud!” Lyra stomped her front hooves on the floor. ”You two have seriously got the worst timing imaginable!”

Lyra chuckled briefly at the incredibly bad timing and began pacing back and forth in front of the miserable earthpony.

“Of all the time you two had, you have to go and do that now! I don’t believe it!” Lyra was in her own world for the moment. “One is too scared to say anything out of fear to cost you everything you want and the other one is too blind to see what is going on right in front of her nose!”

“Urrrgh!” Lyra sat back down and held her head in her hooves. “I think I am going to have some kind of stroke because of you two.”

“What do you mean with all the time we had?” Octavia meekly asked. “I never even thought of that until yesterday.”

“Oh, no.” Lyra shook her head. “Everypony that knows you from before meeting Vinyl saw it pretty clearly. Hay! Even Bon Bon figured it out and that only through your letters.”

“What?” Octavia didn’t understand.

“You kept writing about her.” Lyra dropped her hooves from her head. “It started off all harmless, but you kept writing about how funny and nice and all that stuff Vinyl is. Your problem is that you were just too blind to realize it before.”

“But Vinyl never…”

“Oh, don’t get me started on Vinyl.” Lyra rolled her eyes as she cut off Octavia’s response. “That damn mare has been head over hooves for you for a long time. She pretty much told me so the first time we met.”

“She never said anything.” Octavia finished her response on the second try.

“Yeah, I know. She said she didn’t want to come between you and your goal. Silly filly…I told her it would end badly for her.”

Octavia sat on the floor and just stared at the tiles of the bathroom floor. Lyra chewed her bottom lip in thought at what to do with this situation.

“What should I do?” Octavia asked quietly once more.

“Do you love her?” Lyra’s question was blunt, but the time of being subtle had long passed.

“I can’t” The conflict in the cellist’s voice was noticeable.

“Oookay…that’s not really the answer I was expecting.”

“You of all ponies should know why I can’t.” Octavia briefly looked up at the unicorn.

Lyra nodded once as a sign that she knew what Octavia meant. It was a messy ugly situation that the saddened earthpony was in and Lyra was unsure what to do, especially on such a short notice.

“Do you know where Vinyl is?” Lyra received her answer in form of Octavia just shaking her head. “Ok….ok.”

Lyra rubbed her face with her front hooves and took a deep breath. Something needed to be done, but without all parties present there wasn’t much that could be done at the present time. It would have to wait for later.

“You still have the concert ahead of you.” Lyra stepped closer to the other mare.

“I know.” Octavia let her head hang even lower and she was almost touching the floor. “I have to perform soon.”

“Damn right.” Lyra put a hoof under Octavia’s chin and forced her to look her in the eye. “Can you go through with it?”

“I…I guess so.” Octavia tried to avoid the look Lyra was giving her.

“No guesses!” Lyra snapped and the tone made Octavia flinch slightly. “Vinyl has given up more that you know for this chance. For you to be on stage and to your best. You owe her that you give it your all! Do you understand?”

Lyra saw the hurt in Octavia’s eyes as they filled with water. Fearing that the earthpony might break down completely Lyra tried to think of a way to help her.

“If you are not up to it I’ll think of something to delay the concert. Pull the fire alarm or something like that.”

“No….no, I can do it.” Octavia visibly fought the rising tears back down and blinked them away.

“You sure?”

“Yes.” Octavia nodded a few times while drawing herself up. “I can do it.”

“Ok.” Lyra gave the cellist a friendly smile and patted her on the shoulder. “Let’s get you ready.”

Lyra ushered Octavia towards the washbasin. She shook her head as she soaked a few paper towels under the running tap.

“I swear…. if I didn’t have a white streak in my mane already, I would have it now for certain.” Lyra began wiping the cellist’s face with a wet paper towel in a hoof.

At the same time she used her magic to comb through Octavia’s jet black mane and try and bring some order to the tangled mess. Octavia just let the unicorn work in silence and closed her eyes. She didn’t want to face her reflection in the mirror and used the silence to rearrange her thoughts.

Octavia was good at focusing on one thing and one thing alone, it had caused problems for her right now, but in the next few hours it would be her best ability. She crammed anything revolving around Vinyl into a box and buried it deeper than she had before. It would have to be dealt with, but for now there was only music to think about.

Lyra sensed Octavia’s inner turmoil and chose to push her in the right direction. As she wiped the last residue of sleep from the cellist’s eyes she cleared her throat.

“When you are on stage don’t look out into the audience.” Lyra disposed of the used paper towel and grabbed a fresh one to dry her friend’s face. “There are lights on stage pointing towards the musicians. If you look at them too long they will blind you and you’ll have a difficult time seeing the notes. Trust me, I have some unwanted experience with that problem.”

Octavia nodded once as a sign of taking the advice to heart. Lyra finished her work on Octavia and grabbed the loose bowtie from Octavia’s shoulder with her magic. With quick moves she put the accessory around the earthpony’s slender neck and tied it in place. Only now did Octavia finally open her eyes again and looked at her reflection.

There was nothing out of the ordinary about her reflection, apart from the black bowtie in place of the usual pink one. Lyra had done a good job with her mane and she looked as elegant as ever, no sign to be seen from the events of last night.

“When the string section takes over from the brass in the first half come in a note sooner.” Lyra had decided to avoid anything Vinyl related for the time being and chosen to appeal to Octavia’s professional side. “The violins are usually late, despite Ictus ranting and raving about it, and it sounds better if there is not such a long pause.”

“Should I match their note?” Octavia asked in her usual tone of voice and only managed to tear her gaze into the mirror away when Lyra physically nudged her towards the door.

“Maybe one higher.” Lyra opened the door and waited for Octavia to go through first. “Since you are the lead cellist you have some freedom with random placement of notes. Otherwise I would try to cover the pause, but a lyre doesn’t sound right in that transition.”

“I’ll cover the transition.” Octavia held her head high as she began moving towards the stage again. Lyra followed her in silence for a moment. Only when they were nearly on stage did she speak up one last time.

“If something goes wrong….just give me a sign and I’ll do something. Ok?”

“I will.” Octavia gave her friend a smile, the first one in ages it seemed to her. “Thank you, Lyra.”

“Don’t mention it.” Lyra smiled back and gave Octavia one final pat on the shoulder. “Now go out there and show them what being the earthpony prodigy is all about!”


Bon Bon tried to be as invisible as possible as she walked towards the front row seats.

She couldn’t have felt more out of place if she had cartwheeled down the isle while singing a song about drunken goblins. She also noticed plenty of looks directed at her, some of them curious and some of them silently outraged at the unknown mare heading towards some of the most expensive seats in the entire building.

Bon Bon ignored them, but wished she had dressed for the occasion. Instead she had come as she always was, including her pair of saddlebags that had seen better days long ago. Thankfully she didn’t have to ask for her seat as it was obvious that the only vacant seats belonged to her and Vinyl.


They hadn’t made any kind of arrangement to meet up before the concert, but she found it strange that the unicorn wasn’t already there and seemed to be running late. She hoped nothing bad had happened and sat down in her seat, only briefly nodding politely to the mare in the seat next to hers.

The feeling of having seen the mare before seeped into her mind. Bon Bon risked another look, camouflaging it as a curious look all around the large room. The unicorn mare was tall and frightfully thin. The light pink coat and expertly done mane was so familiar it was almost painful to not know who she was.

Bon Bon felt the name on the tip of her tongue, but simply could not spit it out. Was she somepony she had already met once before? Or was she somepony she had bumped into in Manehatten?

“Is this your first concert?” The tall mare asked with a surprisingly deep voice and a friendly smile.

“No.” Bon Bon cleared her throat. “I have been to a few concerts before, just never in this particular place.”

“Good to meet another enthusiast of the classical genre.” A stallion next to the mare spoke up.

As she cast a glance at the stallion wearing a monocle it dawned on Bon Bon who the ponies beside her were. Fleur De Lis and Fancy Pants, two of the most well known and important ponies in all of Canterlot, maybe even all of Equestria. The sweetmaker suddenly felt rather small and insignificant and just politely smiled without saying another word.

Instead she craned her neck around to see if Vinyl was anywhere to be seen. She really could have done with some kind of backup to keep her from possibly embarrassing herself. Alas the unicorn was nowhere to be seen and Bon Bon accidentally let out a small groan of disappointment.

“Your date is running late?” Fleur casually asked with a hint of concern. Why the high class model chose to even bother talking to a nopony like Bon Bon puzzled the beige mare.

“Just a friend of mine running late.” Bon Bon replied with a small chuckle.

“Something serious?” Fleur seemed keen on keeping the small talk flowing. “He hasn’t stood you up I hope?”

“No, no.” Bon Bon shook her head. “Really only a friend. My partner will be up on stage.”

Bon Bon would have loved to facehoof right then and there. She had brought something up that would no doubt lead to more questions and possibly a rather awkward scene later on.

“Oh?” Fleur’s eyes lit up. “Your partner is a musician? Which instrument if I may ask?”

Bon Bon would rather have her not ask, but chose to answer truthfully. “The lyre.”

“Lyra Heartstrings?” Fancy Pants asked with some surprise. “I saw her name on the flyer.”

“Yes, she is my marefriend.” Bon Bon braced herself for the backlash.

“Good to hear she is back on stage!” Fancy Pants smiled a warm honest smile with a hint of excitement maybe. “I saw her perform here a while back.”

“I remember that.” Fleur nodded once. “She has a most delightful style with the lyre. Too bad what happened to her.”

“Uh…” Bon Bon wasn’t too sure on how to react. Their reactions were most certainly not the ones she had been expecting. “I happened to her.”

“And despite what happened, both of you are still together.” Fleur was almost beaming now. “Just shows that it was the right choice to make.” Fleur winked at a very perplexed Bon Bon.

“It…it was.” Bon Bon beamed back. “It wasn’t easy, but we are happy. Even if Lyra had to give up her music on stage for me.”

“Sounds like she is a keeper.” Fleur nodded wisely.

“Oh, she most certainly is.” Bon Bon replied still grinning like it was Hearth’s Warming Eve.

“Life isn’t always easy, but when the right ponies find each other it is worth a certain amount of discomfort.” Fancy Pants spoke in a tone implying that he had been through some tough moments as well. Fleur leaned her head briefly against his neck with a smile implying she felt the same way.

Bon Bon just nodded. She was very surprised at their acceptance of her choice in a partner. Previous encounters with the Canterlot elite had been anything but pleasant or accepting. She would have to tell Lyra all about it later. She doubted the unicorn would believe her.

Fleur sat back up straight in her seat and turned to Bon Bon. “So tell me…” It seemed as if the smalltalk wasn’t over yet and Bon Bon didn’t have a problem with that anymore. “Where are you from?”


The show was about to begin.

Octavia had spent the time on stage to fine tune her cello one last time. Lyra was right. It was time that Canterlot finally met the earthpony cellist on stage. She would wow them and give them a show they would remember for decades. Of that she was sure and by the time Ictus had appeared on stage any thoughts about white unicorns had effectively been purged from her mind. The only thing that mattered now was her music and she felt the anticipation building up inside her to finally be here and show them her stuff.

Ictus had tried some kind of pep-talk, but Octavia didn’t hear one word of it. She used the time to go over her piece of music a few more times that she had written by herself. Every note was instantly recalled and she played the piece without using her bow.

The curtain rose up slowly.

This is it!

Lyra wasn’t kidding about the lights she mentioned. Beyond the edge of the stage everything was just a black blob. She quickly averted her eyes and looked at the notes on the little stand in front of her. Her heart jumped in excitement as the first notes were played.


Fifteen minutes later Octavia felt something she had not expected.

She was utterly bored.

For the majority of the last ninety days she had played this piece of music over and over again. She knew it by heart and could play it blindfolded. Her hooves moved on their own accord playing each note perfectly.

It may have been different if she could actually see the audience. She thought back to the competition she had played in. Performing and seeing the audience react was a huge factor for her. Here she couldn’t see or hear the audience and for all she knew the entire building might have been empty.

It was most certainly a desired effect. There was the possibility that some musicians might get overexcited at seeing the large crowd. Plus the fact that the Princess was in attendance might have caused a few missed notes. Like this all that mattered was the music.

For Octavia it was a bit of a letdown. If she could see the audience her mind would not have had the chance to wonder. And wonder around it did. She caught herself a few times opening that particular box buried deep within. Any white unicorn related thoughts were not allowed at this time. With some effort she forced her mind to go blank and just read the notes on the little stand in front of her.

It came as a bit of a shock as she flipped over a page and saw that her own solo was fast approaching. Time had flown by very fast in her state of not thinking. Octavia took a few deep breaths and allowed her mind to summon the piece of music she had written.

Her breaths came faster when her mind remained blank.

In less than a minute she would have to play her solo and she was beginning to panic. She felt sweat building on her brow as the transition began to play. A quick glance over to Lyra for support was not returned. The unicorn was concentrating on her own notes for the time being. Another glance over to Ictus who just kept his own look glued to the notes.

What should I do?

The transition was ending and now it was time for Octavia to wow the audience with her spectacular rendition of the bridge scene. She silently cursed that she had never bothered to write the music down and had just relied on her memory.


Octavia slowly stood up as the last notes played out. Now she would have to take over after the last long stroke of the violins.

Please…somepony help me…what should I do?

Carefully resting against her cello, now more for support than to actually play it, Octavia swallowed hard. Her guard was down and her mind decided to bombard the earthpony with everything she had carefully spent the entire day burying.

“You play the soundtrack of life, Tavi!” The image of Vinyl in her head said with a grin.

Octavia tried to block it out, but the memories were too stubborn to simply shake away this time. They forced themselves into her mind and Octavia saw them clearly against the black blob of the audience.

Vinyl walking alone on the snow covered sidewalk in Canterlot.

Octavia was about to shake her head to banish the vision, but she stopped herself. She understood, she knew what she had to do. Octavia embraced the memories surfacing up, she would take Vinyl’s statement by heart and play a soundtrack of life. The soundtrack of their lives.

A slow deep tone was the first note played on her cello. She held it for a moment, slowly adding more notes to match the vision of the frightfully thin Vinyl on the sidewalk. The music kept its haunting tune as Octavia played through memories past that were anything but pleasant.

Seeing the unicorn in her fragile state, finding her unconscious on the bathroom floor, the sight of her being levitated out of the bathroom by the EMT’s, the discovery of what Vinyl had been through before she had met Octavia again.

A picture of a young Vinyl and the wave of sadness washing through Octavia as she had thought of what might have happened to Vinyl if she had not seen her.

Octavia didn’t hear her music, she just played. For all she knew it might have been nothing but a jumbled mess of notes as she drew her bow back and forth. She didn’t care, she just knew she had to face it all and be at peace with it somehow.

Memories flooded in front of her eyes. The memory of her deciding to go to Canterlot and the dread she felt if Vinyl chose not to come with her surfaced again. Octavia’s unhappiness without getting closer to her goals, the revelation that she would need to play a piece of music of her own, seeing Vinyl hurt and learning that she had caused it. Those and many more played out in front of her.

The haunting image of Vinyl’s reflection turning away and leaving her alone in a room with her cello. It was the last time she had seen her friend. She turned all of the emotions into music and finally after a long time let the music die down.

The next scene was to be something upbeat, the Prince finding his long lost brother and reuniting with him. Octavia felt the effects of all those painful memories hit her at once when she took the bow off the strings.

The entire hall was eerily silent. More acute ears might have heard a sniffle or two from the audience, but Octavia still heard nothing. She felt tears building in her eyes and all she wanted to do was to bawl her little eyes out right here on stage.

A professional side snuffed out the impulse to curl up into a ball and kept her standing.

How do I bounce back from this? How am I supposed to play something happy now?

The answer came in form of a vision once more.

“Just one hop. Come on, I know you want to.”

Vinyl grinning broadly at Octavia who was standing in a puddle. Simple pure mischief plainly visible on the unicorns face. Octavia could not help but smile at the memory.

“This is good cake.” A flat statement by Vinyl after they had a cake fight.

Octavia used the memories with another slower melody that gradually became fast and lighter as it was fed with happy memories.

A compilation of pranks, Vinyl joking along with Octavia during the movies they watched, Vinyl redubbing the Tale of Two Princes, Vinyl grinning proudly as she helped Octavia unlock her hidden potential.

Octavia felt the grin spread on her face as she played her melody. Ponies in attendance would talk about the music she played that evening for quite some time. Octavia herself would not be able to remember one single not of it however, no matter how hard she tried remembering.

She remembered the feeling of waking up next to Vinyl, the soothing feeling she had anytime Vinyl was close to her, a feeling of comfort and happiness. Octavia musical performance neared its end with the memory of the first kiss she had. The one tiny moment of joy that had trumped anything before.

Octavia flinched slightly as the rest of the orchestra joined in and she forced her hooves to play along. She sat down still grinning widely. Ictus nodded ever so slightly to her, a sign that she had done her job well. Octavia cast a quick glance over to Lyra who winked in response.

Octavia’s grin would not vanish till the very end.


The rest of the performance went by in a blur.

As the last note echoed through the large hall the curtain fell. Thunderous applause rang out from behind the thick red fabric. The musicians carefully put their instruments down and assembled in a rough half circle, anxiously awaiting the curtains to rise once more and bathe them in praise.

Octavia remained in the middle of the half circle. She held an eye open for Lyra and found her standing at the very end of the formation. As far away from the other musicians as possible. The thought occurred that it was not by Lyra’s choice to be in that position, but the mint green unicorn didn’t seem to be phased by it one bit.

“I dare say that the Royal Canterlot Orchestra has found its newest star here tonight.” Ictus had to speak up to be heard over the applause. He wore a smug proud grin on his face as he leaned over to Octavia. “Just remember who the pony was to bring you here.”

“I do.” Octavia’s grin did not leave her face. She let Ictus have his little delusion of thinking he was responsible for Octavia’s performance. She knew exactly who the pony was that had brought her here.

Vinyl Scratch.

Octavia’s heart beat faster at the prospect of seeing Vinyl in the audience. She had to talk to Vinyl. Tell her she was sorry and work through the things that had happened together.

As the curtain rose up Octavia felt like jumping up and down out of joy. The lights in front of the stage had been shut off and they could see the audience for the first time.

This is where I belong!

A pleasant shiver ran up and down her spine. See the assembled mass of ponies applauding her and the other musicians was a rush unlike anything else. Octavia had achieved her goal and felt a huge weight fall from her shoulders. See held her head high, ears slightly twitching and the deafening sound of applause and she forced her mad grin into a more dignified happy smile.

Unlike the rest of the musicians Octavia did not immediately look up to the balcony where Princess Celestia would be sitting. She briefly registered the ever flowing mane in the corner of her eye, but there was another pony she wanted to see first. A part of her hoped to see a sign being held up with the words “Go, Tavi, go!” painted on them.

There she is!

It only had taken her three seconds to locate Vinyl sitting beside Bon Bon in the first row. She looked up to the cellist on stage a small smile on her lips. Surprisingly the DJ was not wearing her sunglasses.

Those eyes….

Despite the smile on Vinyl’s lips her eyes told a different story. Octavia’s own smile fell as she saw the endless sadness in her friend’s eyes. A sadness as if she had lost the dearest thing in her life just moments ago.

And Octavia finally understood.

It was as if a veil covering her eyes had been yanked away and thus she could see the entire picture for once. It took a few moments for her to wrap her head around it all and with every passing second she felt more and more numb all over.

There wasn’t anything here anymore. Just her on stage and Vinyl with those ruby red eyes in the front row. No sound, no other ponies apart from her and Vinyl. She was alone with her thoughts now, her eyes feverishly searching Vinyl’s face for answers.

Vinyl broke the look and cast her eyes down. Octavia saw her grimace with something that could be called pain. The cellist felt a sharp pain in her heart at the sight and her eyes began to tear up. Other ponies might have thought it was because she was so overwhelmed by the ovation she was receiving. Little did they know that it was the last thing on her mind right then.

She saw Vinyl try and get up, a beige hoof stopping her from going anywhere. A confused Bon Bon asked her something and Octavia saw Vinyl’s lips move with an answer.

"I have to go."

Octavia knew what Vinyl meant with those words. The price for her being on stage and part of the Royal Canterlot Orchestra was obvious to her now and it had to be paid.

A terribly high price…..

Chapter 32

View Online

The thought of Vinyl leaving, never to be seen again, frightened Octavia to her very core.

She realized there was no place for Vinyl in Octavia’s world. The one she had chosen to be part of. The cellist let out a whimper, a hoof pawing at the floor as a sign of inner turmoil. She had to do something, talk to Vinyl, try and find some way of bringing Vinyl along on her journey.

But the journey was over for Octavia. She had reached her lifetime goal and had to reap the rewards, both the good and the bad. To be part of this world Vinyl would have to go.


The tiniest of words echoed through her mind. It was perhaps one of the most powerful words of them all. Her mind gave up the reigns and let her heart pick them back up.

Her reward of being part of the orchestra seemed insignificant compared to the loss of Vinyl, her very best friend.

No…not just a friend.

Vinyl was more to her, much more than she had foolishly been unaware of until now. Only now it was too late. In desperation she watched Bon Bon quietly argue with Vinyl in the first row. Her look briefly switched over to Lyra. The cellist hoped that she might have some kind of idea of what to do.

Lyra must have sensed Octavia’s emotion and met her look a split second later. The lyrist seemed worried about the strange discussion going on in the first row. Then she shook her head slowly, a clear signal that now wasn’t the time to do anything.

If not now when then?

Octavia looked back to Vinyl. She flinched forward a fraction as she saw that Vinyl was already half out of her seat, but still being held back by a now worried looking Bon Bon.

Octavia found herself at a fork in the road of her journey through life, beyond the stage she was standing on. One held fame and fortune, the other one none of those things, but at the same time maybe more. Her mind would have begun to weigh the pros and cons, but at the moment it was her heart that was in control and it had little input save for one simple thought.

I can’t let her go.

Octavia took a step forward. The musicians and Ictus beside her thinking she wanted to possibly take a bow. Then she took a second step.

“Octavia, don’t!” Lyra hissed from her position earning angry looks from the others on stage.

Octavia didn’t pay attention as she took a third and fourth step. A tear ran down her cheek as she sped up her steps now rapidly approaching the edge of the stage. She jumped off stage, aware of the very surprised looks of the ponies in the audience.

She landed hard on the floor and stumbled frantically to an equally surprised Vinyl, who had been forced back into her seat by the far stronger Bon Bon. Octavia stopped her approach a mere pony’s length away from the white unicorn.

“Tell me…” Octavia wiped a few tears from her eyes with a shaking hoof and tried to steady her voice. “Tell me what you wanted to say to me yesterday. I need to hear it.”

It seemed like an eternity to her as Vinyl remained silent. Still startled by the earthpony’s sudden actions. Then she smiled the saddest smile possible.

“I love you, Tavi.” Vinyl’s voice broke and just stared at the cellist.

Octavia laughed softly and wiped a few more tears from her eyes. With two last steps she closed the distance.

“I love you too.” Octavia said and kissed the mare in front of her.

Silence dropped of the crowd instantly, save for a double squee sound from Bon Bon and the tall mare beside her.

A display such as that, in a place such as this one and while the Princess herself was in attendance no less, was a breach of pretty much every ounce of decency in the eyes of the assembled ponies. A few gasps were clearly heard coming from the crowd. A few silent mutterings had already begun and might erupt into louder objections at any moment.

Octavia did not care as she wrapped her forelegs around Vinyl, intent on never letting the unicorn go.

“WOOOO! YEAH! WOOOHOOOOOO!” Lyra’s joyful outburst was very clearly heard throughout the conservatorium. She stomped her front hooves on the wooden floor of the stage creating even more noise and drawing everypony’s attention away from the outrageous display in the front row. It was enough for Octavia and Vinyl to break up their kiss.

“WILL YOU BE QUIET!” Ictus barked towards Lyra on stage.

“AH, GO STICK IT UP YOUR RUMP!” Lyra shouted back and just grinned at the now fuming conductor.

Ictus stomped off stage, his steps even louder than the noise Lyra was producing. Octavia didn’t notice as she still had her eyes and ears directed at the pony in front of her.

“Sorry I didn’t bring a sign.” Vinyl joked and smiled sheepishly.

“Don’t worry about that.” Octavia nuzzled Vinyl’s cheek. “You gave me plenty of signs already, I was just too blind to see them.”

Applause from Octavia’s right made her jerk her head up in surprise. Bon Bon, the strangely familiar mare beside her and the stallion beside her had resumed their applause. Obviously directed at Octavia and Vinyl.

“I think you should go back on stage, my Dear.” The stallion said and winked at Octavia.

“He’s right. Go back up on stage.” Vinyl gently nudged the cellist towards the steps at the side of the stage leading up.

“You’ll be here when I return?” Octavia asked with hope.

“I’ll always be here for you, you know that.” Vinyl gave her another nudge and Octavia complied.

As she made her way back on stage the applause very reluctantly returned from the rest of the audience. Once on stage Octavia saw that her gap in the middle of the half circle had been closed. She had reckoned with that anyway and even if it had still been there she would not have filled it. Octavia stopped her walk across the stage and stood beside Lyra at the very end of the half circle.

Lyra wore a big grin on her lips and could not have been more out of place amongst the other serious looking musicians. She briefly elbowed Octavia in the side.

“Welcome to the club.”

“Which club is that?” Octavia briefly glanced up to the Princess’ balcony only to find it empty. “The club for ostracized classical musicians?”

“Yeah, membership in that club is unfortunately mandatory.” Lyra chuckled. “Part of the package if you join the club for ponies that follow their heart. How do you feel?”

“Happy.” Octavia smiled down at the white unicorn now smiling back up at her from the first row. “Finally truly happy.”

The cellist let her gaze wonder over the rest of the audience. It was pretty clear that the applause and looks were not meant for her, but rather for the other well behaved part of the orchestra. She couldn’t care less and it felt great. The only ponies that Octavia cared for in this building were the mint green unicorn beside her, Bon Bon beaming up from her seat with tears of joy in her eyes and of course the mare beside the sweetmaker. The mare that she loved.

A snapping sound drew her attention away for a moment. Octavia glanced to her right and saw Ictus just off stage pacing back and forth. A large amount of snapped batons were strewn on the floor and he was steadily increasing the amount. Lyra took note of it as well.

“Listen. “ Lyra leaned closer to Octavia. “When the curtain closes again, grab Vinyl and leave the building.”

“Why?” Octavia asked with a sideways glance at her friend.

“You don’t want to be around for the fallout from your little action. Trust me.” Lyra chuckled briefly. “I have some experience in that field.”

“But my things are still here.” Octavia didn’t want to leave her cello anywhere near any of the other musicians. The last time she had left it unattended somepony had thrown up all over it.

“I’ll take care of everything.” Lyra thought for a moment. “Go to Donut Joe’s and wait for us there. It’s just down the street.”

“I know where that is.” Octavia turned her attention back to Vinyl and smiled at her. “Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it.” Lyra smiled happily and blew a kiss towards Bon Bon below.

A few minutes later the curtains began to close. Octavia nodded once to Lyra and quickly trotted over to the stairs leading down. She quickened her pace as a few complaints reached her ears from both the staff behind stage and from the audience. Quickly she grabbed Vinyl by a hoof and made a beeline towards the exit, ignoring everything else.

They barged through the doors and immediately began dashing towards the donut shop. Vinyl followed Octavia’s lead and didn’t ask why they were so suddenly leaving.


The reasonably short sprint left Vinyl slightly out of breath, but the joy in her heart gave her plenty of energy to keep up with the earthpony.

The café was nearly deserted. A lone stallion was apparently asleep in one of the corner booths. Donut Joe himself nodded at the new arrivals and let them choose where to sit.

The mares decided to take a large booth more suited for a larger party, but it was secluded from any nosy onlookers and gave them some privacy. They each sat down opposite each other on the half circle bench. They looked at each other and giggled. Quickly they scooted towards the middle of the bench and embraced each other once they met.

Donut Joe trotted over to them and took their order. Neither mare had eaten much that day and were getting hungry. They tenderly kissed while their large order of a stack of donuts and two large chocolate shakes was being prepared.

“Are you ok?” Vinyl asked as they broke their kiss.

“Never better!” Octavia answered truthfully.

“It’s just…” Vinyl didn’t know how to phrase her question elegantly.

“Just what?” Octavia prompted her.

“You are not disappointed or anything like that?” Vinyl asked hesitantly. “Your dream of being on stage with the Royal Canterlot Orchestra now not really…well…a possibility.”

“Oh, Vinyl.” Octavia giggled. “That dream came true, didn’t it?”


“Tonight I was playing on the grandest stage of them all.” Octavia giggled again at the confused look Vinyl was giving her. “For a moment I was part of the Royal Canterlot Orchestra. I had fulfilled my dream. So no…I am not disappointed. To be honest, it wasn’t really all that great. I would rather be happy with you.”

Octavia kissed her marefriend and wrapped her tail around Vinyl’s. It sounded strange in her mind having a marefriend, but she knew that she would get used to it very very fast.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear that.” Vinyl let out a sigh of relief. “I have a lot I need to tell you.”

“Like what?” Octavia had been given plenty of hints by Lyra that Vinyl had given up a lot for her sake.

“Like that I love you.” Vinyl kissed Octavia’s nose. “I have been dying to say that for a very long time and have got to catch all of it up.”

“Sounds good.” Octavia kissed Vinyl’s nose in return. Her attention was drawn away as Donut Joe approached with their order. “But it will have to wait after food.”

As their order was placed in front of them they broke their affectionate display to ravenously attack their food. Occasionally pausing to share a kiss that was made even sweeter thanks to the donut glazing.

Finally full and with the feeling of sublime happiness coursing through their veins the mares leaned back and relaxed. Octavia’s head tucked under Vinyl’s cheek they just let the world outside be and basked in each other’s presence. They were so into their own little world that they did not hear the door opening or how Donut Joe greeted the new arrival.

The mares looked up as they heard hoofsteps drawing closer to their table. As the ever flowing mane came into view their eyes widened in shock. For a moment they thought it might have been some kind of prank. Once the ruler of all of Equestria stepped fully into view, they knew it wasn’t a prank.

Out of reflex they both bowed simultaneously, forgetting for a moment that they were sitting at a table. With two loud smacks they planted their faces firmly on the table with enough force to make the plates on top jump.

“Oh, Dear.” Princess Celestia eyed the pair with concern. “Are you alright?”

Very slowly the mares removed their faces from the table and looked up to the Princess.

“I am fine.” Octavia said entirely oblivious to the fact that she had a donut stuck to her forehead.

“Just great.” Vinyl added rather somberly. The impact had left her seeing stars for the moment.

“That is good to hear.” The Princess gazed at the donut sticking to the cellist with curiosity. “I wanted to talk to you.”

Octavia tensed up. While the Princess had said those words without any hint of malice, there was still a certain amount of dread that she might not have been too happy about the rather unorthodox interruption of her annual concert.

“I tried looking for you backstage, but I was kindly informed I might find you here instead.” Princess Celestia smiled. “I wanted to express my fondness for your musical performance this evening. Rarely has that melody touched me as much as it had done tonight.”

“Y-You’re welcome.” Octavia blushed and bowed once more, a slow and very careful bow. Vinyl chose to remain silent and just smiled awkwardly.

“There is one other thing.” The Princess lowered her head to be on eyelevel with Octavia. The cellist swallowed her rising feeling of dread down. “I would humbly request your unique musical talent to be part of the ensemble playing at the Grand Galloping Gala.”

“I..uh…bwuh?” Octavia glanced at Vinyl to verify that she had heard correctly. The unicorn just looked from pony to alicorn dumbfounded.

“As you might know I chose the musical talent for the Gala myself.” The Princess smiled down at the perplexed duo. “I think you would make the Gala truly grand with your presence on stage.”

Me? Really? After everything that happened tonight?

“I would be honored to be part of that ensemble.” Octavia had been offered a chance she couldn’t really let pass.

“Excellent!” The Princess nodded elegantly. “I will get in touch with you about the details later.”

The Grand Galloping Gala may have only been once a year, but it was by far the most prestigious event in all of Equestria. Perhaps the Princess had not been there for the little scene caused by Octavia and she surely wasn’t going to tell the ruler of all ponykind about it.

“For now just enjoy the rest of your evening.” Princess Celestia lightly bowed. An action immediately copied by the pair sitting on the bench. “Take care my little ponies.”

“Thank you!” Octavia called after the Princess after she had regained the use of her vocal chords. Still smiling the Princess left the little café and returned back to her castle no doubt.

“Wow.” Vinyl stared at the doors of the café. “That was unexpected.”

“You can say that again.” Octavia briefly wondered if the Princess would still want her performing during that event once it was known to her what had happened. Then again, perhaps it was her plan all along.

“I mean not totally unexpected.” Vinyl nudged Octavia in the side. “You were awesome on stage! That music you played….it wasn’t the one we had practiced. Where did you get that from?”

“It was you.” Octavia smiled and turned back to face Vinyl. “You helped me create that.”

“I did?” Vinyl raised an eyebrow. She had no memory of Octavia ever playing that music before and it wasn’t anything she had written either.

“I will explain later.” Octavia smiled and leaned in for another small peck on Vinyl’s lips.

Now alone once more then snuggled closer and held each other tightly. A cheeky smile formed on Vinyl’s lips as something occurred to her.

“There is something I have to do now. Can’t wait!” Vinyl bent Octavia head a bit further down. Then the DJ nuzzled the soft spot behind Octavia’s left ear. In response the cellist burst out in a fit of giggles.

“What are you doing?”

“I have been dying to do that for a very long time.” Vinyl explained and continued her affections.

The doors of the café opened once more. This time the mares had heard them and stopped their display in case it was the Princess returning. It wasn’t her, but instead some very familiar faces.

“There they are!”

Octavia and Vinyl grinned widely as Lyra trotted up to their table. Bon Bon followed closely behind her and had Octavia’s cello case on her back. Two other ponies also made their way over to the table. Octavia now recognized them immediately. They had been sitting beside Bon Bon in the first row and at the time the cellist had other things on her mind.

Everypony from Canterlot knew who Fancy Pants was. And his partner was equally if not even a bit more famous. Fleur Dis Lee was the premier model in Equestria after all. Her image adorning almost anything, from magazines to large billboards advertizing beauty products. Her face was on Octavia’s bottle of shampoo for crying out loud. Why there were here was a bit of a mystery.

“I gotta say that was one hay of a show!” Lyra jumped once in place.

“Took you two long enough.” Bon Bon said with a smirk and carefully put the cello case down.

“Did anything happen after I left?” Octavia asked the mint green unicorn who sat down on the bench beside them.

“You have something on your face.” Lyra grabbed the donut still stuck to Octavia’s forehead and gleefully plopped it into her mouth. “As for your question. Eh…you don’t really want to know.”

“That conductor had a few very choice words about the evening.” Bon Bon informed them and also took a seat beside Lyra.

“Yeah, but Bon Bon had some even more choice words in return.” Lyra laughed at the memory.

“If he insults my friends you can bet he will get it right back.” Bon Bon tapped her hoof on the table to emphasize her point.

“I had to stop her from going after him with your cello.” Lyra laughed at the now worried expression of Octavia. “Relax. Your cello is fine.”

“We heard some of the things he said.” Fancy Pants joined in on the conversation, but remained standing with Fleur at his side. “It is of little surprise why he had been expelled from Canterlot for his behavior. Hope we don’t see him so soon again.”

“I guess you know Fancy Pants and Fleur?” Lyra nodded towards the standing pair.

“Of course!” Octavia wiped a few left over crumbs from her forehead. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“It is our pleasure.” Fancy Pants briefly bowed to the cellist. “I actually came here with a proposal.”

“A proposal?” The cellist blinked a few times in surprise.

“As you might know I host a variety of festivities. Garden parties and such for some acquaintances.” Fancy Pants said without any kind of pride in his voice. For him it was just an everyday occurrence. “I would be delighted if you might consider playing in the band we have for those events. If you do not have any other plans that is.”

“Heh, Celestia was in here asking Tavi for her to play during the Grand Galloping Gala.” Vinyl chuckled at the surreal event from before.

“She did?” Fancy Pants didn’t seem all that surprised. “Well the Princess has a very good taste in music and I must say that you play the cello beyond the capabilities of any cellist that I know of. It would be a great privilege to have you play. What do you say?”

“I would love to!” Octavia eagerly nodded. By all logic her career should have been doomed from this evening on. While it was true that one door had closed for her, now others had opened up.

“Excellent!” Fancy Pants smiled with happiness that his proposal was taken. “I shall be in contact with you as soon as I have scheduled the next event.”

“I also have a proposal.” Fleur spoke up and turned her attention to Vinyl instead of Octavia.

“For me?” Vinyl looked up in surprise.

“Bon Bon informed me that you might be looking for a new line of work.” Fleur nodded to the sweetmaker, who just smiled at Vinyl in response.

“Uh, yeah. I might be on the lookout for some kind of new job.” Vinyl ignored the curious look Octavia gave her.

“Well, in the fashion business we often have need for a pony with your talent with music. Bon Bon assures me that you are very good.” Fleur giggled at the little blush forming on the white unicorns cheeks.

“So like fashion shows and such?” Vinyl asked. She had no idea what actually happened during those shows.

“Yes, you would play a few select tracks during the actual show.” Fleur sensed a slight bit of disappointment in the DJ. “But it’s the after show parties where your talents would be truly required. Ponies like to dance after those shows and we could always need somepony capable of making them do just that.”

“Make ponies dance?” Vinyl smiled confidently. “Oh, I can do that, no problem.”

“Fantastic!” Fleur clapped her front hooves together. “I will let some of my colleagues know and they will get in touch with you.”

“Awesome!” Vinyl grinned and gladly shook the hoof Fleur extended to her.

“Well then.” Fancy nodded to each of the mares in turn. “We best get going. We will be in touch.”

The four mares waved and said goodbye to the high class ponies while watching them leave the café. Once they had left Lyra grinned at Octavia and Vinyl.

“Looks like things are looking up?” She knew the answer already and didn’t wait for any reply. “We best get going too.”

“Yes.” Bon Bon stretched for a moment. “We have to take the train back to Ponyville soon. And I think you two could do with some alone time right now anyway.”

“Yeah, you too have plenty of catching up to do.” Lyra winked at the pair and stood up together with Bon Bon.

“Thank you.” Octavia bowed to her friends.

“Yeah. You helped us a lot.” Vinyl would have loved to hug the pair out of thanks.

“What are friends for?” Lyra shrugged with a smile and began trotting towards the exit.

They watched the pair slowly trot towards the exit. There was still a small amount of sadness in Octavia and Vinyl knowing that their friends would be in Ponyville and not near them anymore. Then again, Ponyville wasn’t that far away.

“Do you think he wears that monocle when they are in bed?” Lyra asked Bon Bon with a cheeky grin.

“I don’t know.” Bon Bon rolled her eyes at the question, but couldn’t fight the smile forming on her lips. “Perhaps she wears it.”

“Oooh, kinky.”

Octavia and Vinyl embraced each other again once they were alone. Neither mare spoke and just remained still for a moment to let the things sink in of what had happened here in the café.

Both of them now had a bright future to look forward to. Octavia performing at the Gala and for Fancy Pants hosted events. Vinyl was still a bit weary about the fashion side of her new possible employment, but if it meant she could perform her music and make ponies dance then that was fine in her book. The brightest bit in their future was the knowledge that whatever the future may hold in store for them they would face and overcome it together.

“How do you feel?” Vinyl whispered quietly after a few minutes. Octavia smiled from her position of being snuggled up against Vinyl’s neck.

“Happy. At peace.” It was a new feeling for the cellist. Previously she would have thought about music or her career. Now her mind was blissfully blank.

She knew that her quirk of having to focus on something would return someday. Perhaps she should find something to focus on that she could share with Vinyl.

Octavia briefly drew her head back from the position to give Vinyl a quick peck on her lips and then returning to her place from before.

Kissing might be something good to focus on.

She had a sneaky suspicion that Vinyl would not object to that idea and would most definitely be eager to help her honing that skill. Octavia sighed in content and nuzzled the soft warm neck.

“Let’s go home Vinyl.” She said and stifled a yawn. The day had been eventful and fatigue was slowly demanding to be noticed.

“Good idea, just….” Vinyl paused for a moment. “Where is home?”

It was a good question. Of course they had Octavia’s apartment here in Canterlot to call home. But she knew that staying here might lead to a few scenes so soon after the concert. News of her behavior would most likely spread like wildfire and reach every last corner of the city. No doubt her parents would hear about it sooner or later, but Octavia knew them well enough to predict their reactions. Her father would be happy and her mother would laugh and most certainly rub it in Octavia’s face that she had been right all along. Opinions of other nobles wouldn’t matter to them.

It was best to lay low for a while. Perhaps go back to Manehatten. Ictus would make sure Octavia wasn’t allowed anywhere near him ever again and Octavia was glad about that. Perhaps she could ask in Smiles and Sorrow if they were looking for a cellist to help with their shows. Just as a means of doing something between social events in Canterlot.

Octavia smiled as she realized that it didn’t matter.

“I don’t care where our home is.” Octavia gave Vinyl a long drawn out kiss. “As long as it is together with you.”