by FlashFoward

First published

Pills have been keeping you pain free. It's not long before you find a substitute.

[2nd person story involving "you" and Vinyl Scratch] Feel pain? Pop a pill. That's the life you been sadly cornered into. Your friends tell you to grab a hold of yourself, but you ignore their advice. After Ace invites, or drags, you into a club is when you meet a DJ named Vinyl Scratch. True, you just met her and got into a rather awkward situation with her. But there is something about her that just uplifts you. Its a better feeling then any pain killer you been taking that's for sure.

Something Better

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A surge of pain ran along your hind legs. With a painful groan, you turn over on your bed and start searching for your pain killers on the nightstand. After popping one pill, the pain finally ebbed away. However, you knew that the pain in your legs would return soon and another pain killer would need to be taken. The pills let you go through your daily life at least. You notice that the bottle of pain killers looked a little on the empty side. Hopefully today was the day Red Heart would drop by with your monthly supply.

However, when she came, you figured that she would scrutinize you for relying to heavily on the pain killers. Did you care about that? Not really. As long as you could feel less pain, the better. Now, you could never tell Red that. She would cut off your supply of painkillers and you would be forced to deal with your pain without anything to lean on. You stomach let out a sudden growl and you figured it was lunch time by now. You limp down to the kitchen and fix yourself a nice sandwich. Just as you settled yourself down on the table and grabbed the sandwich from its plate, there was a knock at the front door.

At first, you ignore it. The knocking persisted and you eventually caved in. You ditch your meal and limp your way to the front door. Once you opened the door, you find a familiar gray Pegasus floating before you. If memory served correctly, her name was Derpy. It’s kind of hard to forget a pony with eyes like hers.

“Here’s your mail!” Derpy chirped, handing you a wad of letters.

“Thanks Derpy.” You reply, handing her some bits as a tip.

“Oh wow! I can go buy some muffins now!” Derpy squealed before flying off, probably to go fetch her fresh muffins right away.

You could never figure out why Derpy enjoyed muffins so much. In a way, it was like your complicated relationship with your pills. They offered you some form of comfort when you needed it. Derpy probably didn’t depend on muffins to at least get up in the morning like you had to. An addiction is an addiction nonetheless.

You trot back to the dinner table and scatter your mail all over it. The time to read them would be for later. The sandwich won’t finish its self! You grab the sandwich again but one of the stray letters catches your eye. It looked rather fancy and you could see Ace’s signature on it. Abandoning your sandwich yet again, you grab Ace’s letter and tear it open to see what’s inside. Surprisingly, there was a pass in there that had Exotica written on it. The sounds of the place didn’t tickle your fancy but you figure Ace had a reason for this, like everything else he did. Might not have been a good reason, but there was one at least.

You sort through the remaining mail, mostly junk, until you find another letter addressed by Ace. This time, the letter looked much more casual.

I have some business to attend to at the club Exotica. I figure I’d send you a pass to tag along with me. No, I don’t need you to watch over me. Just thought it would be a nice chance for you to have fun. See you then!

Well, staying home for the rest of the day was pretty much your only plan. Maybe there was some fun to be found at that club. As you read over the letter a few more times, your eyes run over the sandwich again. Just as you clench the sandwich again, there was another knock at the door. You impatiently throw the sandwich back on the plate and clench Ace’s letter in your teeth. As you open the door, Nurse Red Heart was impatiently standing there. You can tell right away she wasn’t in the mood to be joking around with, the look on her face was just all to serious.

“I brought your monthly supply of pills.” Red Heart muttered, removing a bad from her saddle.

“Thanks Red, I owe you one!” You make a grab for the bag, but Red pulls it out of your reach. Thinking this was a practical joke of hers you make another grab for the bad, to no avail.

“That you do. Show me that letter.” Red demanded, gesturing to the letter in your mouth.

“This?” You asked, spitting out the letter onto your extended hoof.

“Yes. I’ll give you the pills for the letter.” Red offered, holding out the bag coaxingly.

“Seems like a fair trade. Hand it over.” You reply, handing her the letter and taking the bag.

“When are you coming back? You can’t possibly plan to stay here forever.” Red Heart asked suddenly, looking at you with a frown.

“That’s probably true. Anyway, have a nice day Red.” You gave Red a fleeting wave before slamming the door closed.

You can only imagine the look on Red’s face when she figured out that Ace invited you to head out to a club, with him nonetheless. Red was all too aware of Ace’s antics and she really wasn’t a big fan of his, that’s being nice as well. Safe to say if Red had to throw Ace under the bus, she would gladly. Ace has always been a fair friend to you. Maybe it’s because you were usually the one who kept him at of trouble. In a way, you’re the guy’s baby sitter. There have been times though when your roles would switch.

The sandwich you left on the dinner table was still there. You leave the bag on the table and look at the sandwich for a moment or two. After so much delay of eating the darn thing, now you had no appetite for it. You just growl at your unfortunate luck and decide to nap on your bed until the afternoon rolls over. Then you’ll drop by Ace’s place and he’ll guide you to the club from there.

The familiar jolt of pain ran across your legs again. You roll over and fumble around for your pain killers that are on the night stand. After popping your pills, you notice that somepony had been staring at you for a bit.

“What in the world are you doing here Ace?” You ask, bewildered by Ace’s sudden presence.

“I figured to drop over and say hi. You usually take naps and I didn’t want you sleeping when it time to go to Exotica.” Ace explained, stifling a snicker as you let out a yawn.

“Lead the way!” You mutter, extravagantly gesturing to nothing in particular.

Ace just chuckles and starts walking to the front door. It wasn’t long before Ace was leading you through the pavement streets of Manehatten. You didn’t live in the projects or the really luxurious part of town, even if you could. The simpler life was more up your alley. You mind wandered off to the days when you didn’t rely on pain killers like a crutch. The doctors offered braces for your legs, but you refused. It was bad enough you could have barely walked when you got hurt. Now they wanted to reduce you to walking around like a robot? That was a big no-no.

As you’re minded wandered off, you failed to notice that Ace had stopped in his tracks. You promptly bumped into him and noticed you guys finally made it to Exotica. The place seemed fairly busy but you couldn’t shake off the feeling that there was something else going on. Ace trotted his way up to the front door, only to be stopped by a huge stallion bouncer. This guy looked like he could have eaten other stallions for lunch.

“Passes?” The bouncer asked in a thick voice.

“Here ya go big guy!” Ace replied, flashing the bouncer two passes he pulled from his bag.

“He’s with you?” The bouncer asked, pointing a large hoof at you.

“That he is!” He needs time to loosen up!” Ace joked happily, grabbing you in a one armed hug.

The bouncer just grunted and opened the doors to allow the both of you in. Ace zipped into the club right away. Just as you were about to follow Ace, a mare’s voice broke your concentration.

“Hey you!” the voice called out.

You turn around and notice a white unicorn mare with an electric blue mane waving at you energetically. To avoid any confusion, you point at yourself to make sure you’re the one she’s asking for.

“Yes you! Mind helping me out?” She called out.

You shrug and trot over to her. Just as you stand by her side, she starts stacking amps and turntables on your back before you even realize it. Screams of agony and pain erupted from your legs and back from all the weight suddenly placed on you. Looks like you’d probably end up popping that whole month’s supply of pain killers red gave just to live through this nightmare.

“Thanks for the help! Names Vinyl Scratch by the way!” Vinyl held out her hoof for you to shake.

“I would gladly shake hooves if I didn’t chance the risk of all this stuff falling on me.” You reply, barley being able to offer a smile.

“Oh! I’m sorry!” Vinyl levitates a few turntables in the air.

You sigh in relief from some of the weight being lifted off. Vinyl giggled a little, but you didn’t say anything about it. Last thing you wanted was for her to drop the turntables on you again. After you and Vinyl walk into the club, she asks you to help her out with setting up her equipment. Things only got complicated when you tried to keep the cords from getting tangles. Before long, you were tangled yourself.

“Mind helping me out Vinyl?” You call out.


Vinyl giggled once she saw you all tangled up. It wasn’t long before you joined in on the laughter. You had to admit, this was just a funny situation you were in. As Vinyl made her ways towards you, she tripped over a few cords. Vinyl landed right on top of you and once she realized this, she started to blush a little. You could feel the heat coming into your checks and started having a hard time suppressing a grin. After moments of awkward silence, Vinyl slowly got up and started to untangle you while not saying a word.

“Thanks for getting me out of that mess Vinyl!” You happily rub your sore hooves.

It took a few moments for you to realize that Vinyl pretty much disappeared. For some reason, you felt a lack of pain for once after getting hurt awhile back. However, once it really started to sink in that Vinyl was nowhere in sight is when pain started to creep back into your legs again. Like everything, your meeting was short-lived. Ace popped by your side without you noticing.

“I see that you found a nice mare to talk to.” Ace teased, trying hard not to laugh.

“Yeah, shame she kind of just disappeared.” You mutter sadly.

“What are you talking about? She’s the DJ for the night. You’ll have plenty of chances to talk with her again!” Ace explained.

It was a faint ray of hope that made you feel hopeful. Ace took notice of the look of excitement on your face since he just snickered at you.

“Until then, just hang around. Come along with me.” Ace gestured you to follow him to the bar.

As you followed Ace, the feeling of hope was really starting to uplift your mood. It was like someone gave you laughing gas or something, a smile was spreading so wide across your face at this point. Ace looked back and saw your rather merry smile. He just shook his head and rolled his eyes.

“Mares.” Ace muttered more to himself.

One To Many

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Ace hops on chair and whistles to the bartender, who looks less than pleased to have Ace whistling at him like a dog. This was one of the flaws with hanging out with Ace at times he sometimes acted like he owned the joint.

“What do you want?” The bartender hissed at Ace.

“Give me your finest wine!” Ace declared extravagantly.

The bartender blinks a few times in mild shock before fetching Ace’s drink. You were reasonably concerned about Ace now. Things went out of control when he drank and this wasn’t exactly the best place for Ace to start his antics. Not with all these enormous bouncers lingering about anyway.

“Don’t you worry you’re little head! I know the guy who owns this place and we have been doing business.” Ace explained, giving you a wink before indulging himself in his wine which the bartender had brought.

“And you?” The bartender acknowledged you, lowering the spite in his voice to a minimal.

“Eh, I’ll take what he’s getting.” You reply, gesturing to Ace.

With a quick nod, the bartender whipped up the drink for you within a blink of an eye. You take a glance at his cutie mark, a fancy looking cup with purple contents, and figure he was just meant to do this. Ace was already working on his fourth cup by now. Getting drunk of wine is not really easy, especially if diluted. It didn’t mean that Ace wouldn’t try though.

A large hoof comes over your shoulder and you turn around immediately. He wasn’t as large as the bouncer at the front doors and he looked reasonably mellowed out. You weren’t sure if you had seen this guy around though. Ace seemed like he has a clue who he was, seeing as that Ace shook the stallions hoof energetically.

“I see you’re enjoying yourself Ace.” The stallion muttered, eyeing Ace’s cup of wine.

“Pft, don’t make me start hitting the hard stuff.” Ace joked before demanding another refill.

“And who are you?” The stallion took notice of your presence, eyeing you with a look of caution.

“I’m a friend of Ace’s, usually the one who tries to keep him in line.” You reply, Ace promptly steals a large bottle of brandy and starts chugging it down. “I try at least.” You mutter after watching Ace.

“You’re fighting a lost cause there.” The stallion remarked, eyeing Ace with amusement.

“Hey! I’m a comritent adalt!” Ace snapped back, alcohol finally starting to slur his speech.

“That you are.” You reply coldly.

“I’m sorry for not properly introducing myself. My name is Golden Hooves. Just call me Gold though.” Gold held his hoof out, which you shook hesitantly.

“I take it you own the place?” You ask, wondering if this was the guy Ace was talking about earlier.

“That I do.” Gold replied simply.

A sudden thought comes into your mind. “Hey, do you know where the mare, who’s the DJ, is?” You ask. Gold looks at you and just chuckles.

“Took a fancy to Scratch? Nah, don’t tell me. I can see it in your eyes.” Gold immediately figured out your motives. “She should be starting soon in fact. Sadly, talking to her while she works is not going to be possible.” Gold informs.

You hang your head slightly after hearing the news. Gold looks at you in pity before looking around for Ace, who disappeared from his seat. The bottle of brandy was completely empty after Gold briefly inspected it. You’re worst fears came true; a drunken Ace was walking about.

“We have to find him!” You immediately try to run around to find Ace, but Gold picked you up with one hoof.

“Last thing I need is a stallion running about yelling for his friend. I’ll take care of it. Besides, Ace is walking around with my money.” Gold trotted to a group of bouncers and seemed to be giving them instructions.

An uneasy feeling was settling on you. Gold was underestimating how Ace can turn a place upside down. Discord himself would be envious at the chaos that Ace produced when he was under the influence. Almost absent mindedly, you start make a grab for your pain killers. The pain from carrying Vinyl’s gear had been stuffed away from your legs for a while. Now, it was just getting too much to bear. After popping the pill, the pain from your legs instantly subsides.

“Popping pills are we?” A familiar voice asked.

Vinyl was right at your side. Either you were caught off guard or just panicky around her, but your heart was racing. The thumping was so loud that it blocked out the music around you. Even your head started to pulse, synchronizing with the rapid heartbeat. You could hear the faint giggle from Vinyl and you finally start to calm down a bit.

“Why must every time we meet that you sneak up on me.” You manage to mumble, trying to hide the anxiety you were feeling.

“Aw come on, I thought you would be excited to see me again.” Vinyl teased, a lovely grin graced her face.

“I never said I wasn’t happy to see you.” You reply, looking deep into her crimson eyes.

Vinyl’s eyes flickered rapidly and she started to blush a little. “Well, I...uh.” Vinyl looked around for something to excuse herself. Her savior came in the shape of one of the bouncers in the club, who whispered in her ear urgently. “I guess I should get going.” Vinyl gave you one last glance before departing with the bouncer.

A familiar empty feeling came over you. Pain ran through your legs again and you popped another pill to subdue the pain.
Oddly enough, the pill didn’t seem to be very effective to fight off the pain. Instead, the pain moved to your heart. You clutch at your chest, feeling your very heart starting to constrict. Last time you checked, your legs were the ones with the annoying surges of pain and not your heart.

Ace suddenly gallops right past you, a look of terror etched on his face. A few stallions were chasing after Ace as well. One of the pursuers stopped by you.

“You know that little runt?” The stallion demands, his eyes bulging slightly.

“I can’t say that I do. What did he do anyway?” Last thing you wanted was being chased down for Ace’s stupidity.

“He kissed my marefriend right in front of me! If I get a hold of him, I will break his legs off!” The stallion fumes angrily.

All you could manage was to face hoof yourself. Ace was unbelievable.

“We got him boss!” Another stallion was carrying a limp Ace by his hooves.

“Excellent! You will now know not to ever touch my girl again!” Sure enough, the stallion bucked Ace full on the chest.

“Are you mad because I kiss your marefriend better then you?” Ace muttered.

Ace got another healthy buck straight to his jaw for his remark. The stallion holding Ace dropped him and kicked Ace across the head. You were about to lunge at the group of stallions hurting Ace but a hoof grabbed you around the neck again. Gold was standing right behind you, wearing a determined look on his face.

“I don’t tolerate ponies beating on my business partners, even if they deserve it.” Gold walked to Ace’s limp body and the thugs around him immediately back off.

“Gold you’ve aged! You think we are scared of you?” The head of the group of the thugs taunted.

“Who said I’ll be kicking your sorry flank all over Equestria, Frost?” Gold whistled and the small groups of thugs were surrounded by Gold’s bouncers. “You just entered the lion’s den fool.” Gold whispered.

The air grew tense and everypony’s eyes were on the scene. The music came to a halt and you figured even Vinyl couldn’t ignore the possible fight. With a blink of an eye Gold landed a powerful buck to a poor thug, sending him flying to the wall.
The stallion’s body actually penetrated to wall a few inches. Soon, the two groups lunged at each other and chaos ensued. You drag Ace’s body from the fight before any more harm can be done to him.

As he carried Ace on your back, which protested of the load you have placed on it, one of Frost’s thugs lunged at you. The weight that Ace added on was too much for your back, you took the full brunt of the tackle. Ace slipped off your back and the stallion proceeded to land a few blows on him. You quickly stand back up and buck the thug on the ribs. He crumbles to the ground and you take advantage of this moment to pick Ace back up again. The front door was so close! Just a couple more…


Your head throbs painfully and your legs finally give out. A splintered chair was lying close to you, probably the same weapon used to injure you. The weight on your back was lifted; a few thugs picked Ace off you. One of the thugs punts your head like a football. A terrible ringing came over your hearing and you felt terribly dizzy. By instinct, you pull out your bottle of pain killers and fumble around with the lid. Frost stood over you and stomped on the bottle, reducing it to nothing but cracked plastic. He laughed evilly before Gold tackled him. No sooner had Gold nailed Frost is when thugs started to pile on top of him.

Everything became a blur. There was so much pain and you had no pain killer to stop the onslaught of it in your body. Hard to tell what was worse, the pain in your limbs or the one that’s been in your heart as of late. Things were starting to fade to darkness. Was this death? If it was, this was actually pretty nice. The yells of pain around you were reduced to nothing and a numb feeling came over you, not like what the pain killers offered…it was better.

You start to see a pair of crimson eyes stare straight down at you. For some strange reason, you feel rather safe after looking into those comforting eyes. The darkness that started to eat away at your vision soon covered those eyes. You felt slightly miserable now that you had nothing else to look at. Familiar surges of pain ran through your legs and heart again. Forget the dumb pills; those eyes sustained your sanity far better.


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You’re eyes flicker open rapidly as you felt pain running through your legs again. By a force of habit you turn over and stretch out your hoof for your pills. The only thing you felt was just air. It took you a few moments to realize you weren’t in the comforts of your house. Seemed like you were in a hotel room, seeing how fancy and small it was. You start rolling off the other side of the bed and bump into something, Vinyl to be exact. She was fast asleep and you were terrified you had just awakened her. After realizing she wouldn’t move, you wondered vaguely how you ended up in this room, sleeping next to Vinyl nonetheless. You remember getting hit over the head with a chair and Ace doing something stupid.

One thing that stuck out the must when you tried to relay last night’s events was staring into a pair of crimson eyes. You gaze at Vinyl’s face for a moment, lost in deep thought. She had saved you from the club, but why? You nervously rub your hoof over her mane, which was softer then you would have expected. Vinyl’s eyes snapped open and she looked at you touching her mane.

“I’m sorry.” You immediately cease stroking Vinyl’s hair and smile sheepishly at her.

“It’s fine.” Vinyl replied, blushing more than ever.

Vinyl rolled off the bed and quickly trotted off to the shower. She looked a little disappointed when you stopped stroking her
mane. Maybe you were just imagining it? The sound of the shower head being turned on catches your attention. A mist of steam could be seen coming from across the room. Vinyl must have left the door to the bathroom open. Curiosity and anxiety eats away at your mind. What would happen if you even got near the door?

Before you knew it, you were standing right next to the bathroom door. You could hear Vinyl humming to herself slightly.

“Mind grabbing me a towel?”

Your brain pretty much jammed at the request. There was a neat pile of towels…on the sink inside the bathroom. There was no way getting around it, you had to go in now. You push the door open slightly and enter the bathroom. The shower had glass panels, fogged up, and there was a faint outline of a mare. You grab a towel from the neat towel and eye the glass panel nervously.

“Found the towel yet?” Vinyl asked impatiently.

“That I did.” You mutter.

The glass panel opened slightly and Vinyl held her hoof out. All the muscles in your body went extremely tense as you slowly handed her the towel. To your surprise, just as you gave her the towel, Vinyl grabbed your hoof instead and pulled you in closer. Your vision wasn’t all that great; the abundance of steam was no help.

“Gotcha.” Vinyl whispered in your ear before kissing you.

Your mind went completely blank for a while. Her tender lips were just so soft, like silk. The pain in your legs instantly died off and so did the pain in your heart. Excitement and happiness was coursing through you, pushing the bitter feeling of pain away. By the time Vinyl had parted from the kiss you were still in your own little world. Vinyl let out a nervous giggle at the sight of your face.

“Maybe that was too sudden.” Vinyl muttered.

You responded by giving her a kiss. “I don’t know about you but I thought it was perfect.”

After the events in the shower, you and Vinyl decided to take a walk around Manehattan a bit. Vinyl walked right by your side. There was something about her smile and spunky attitude that was just infectious.

“So, what happened after I passed out?” You finally ask.

“I can’t say for sure. You were so hurt and I was scared that things might get worse. So I got one of Gold’s bouncers to carry you out and into the local hospital.” Vinyl explained.

“Oh well. Anyway, I really have to thank you for saving my flank Vinyl.” You reply, nuzzling Vinyl on the cheek.

“I got a good idea on how you can repay me.” Vinyl gives you a coy smile, which you happily return. “Lucky for you, I have to do another gig at Erotica again later tonight. Maybe you could ask Gold a little more details about what happen last night?”

“I guess so.” You mutter, getting lost in Vinyl’s crimson eyes again.

“I’ll see you back at Erotica okay?” Vinyl gave you a fleeting hug before trotting back to her hotel room.

The warm fuzzy feeling that you felt started to dissipate. Pain started to flood through your body again. Your heart didn’t feel so heavy and constricted this time though. Having no reason to wander around the streets, you head back home. Issue was, Ace was the one leading you to Erotica and you kind of dazed off on the trip. Just as you walk by a jewelry store, a red mane grabs your attention. You instantly run back to the mirror and notice it was Red standing over a case, examining some necklaces.

Pure luck you found her out here! Red is bound to know how to get you back home. You trot in the store and Red realizes your presence.

“Why are you doing way out here?” Red demanded.

“Ace got in some trouble.” You reply, settling on at least half the truth.

“Idiot he is.” Red shook her head and sighed heavily. “When will he grow up?”

“Ace, grow up? Those words should never be in the same sentence.” You laugh at the thought of Ace becoming a competent adult.

“Oh come on, we need to have some faith in him.” Red might be protecting Ace but she can’t help giggle either.

“You’re probably one of the few ponies who can make him grow up.” You point out.

Red stopped laughing and started to look slightly uncomfortable. That’s Red for you, always caring about others. Shame she is in a relationship with one of the stallions back at the hospital. You knew all too well that Ace was more than able to win over Red. The only thing holding him back is that he refused to grow up and be a little more serious.

Wanting to keep Red on her good side, you quickly change the conversation. “Red, mind helping me get back to my house? Ace walked me over here and I’m pretty zoned out on the walk here.”

“Sheesh, you’re just as bad as Ace sometimes.” Red teased.

Nonetheless, Red agreed and she left to store. You were about to catch up with her but one of the necklaces caught your attention.

“Is that for sale?”

“What took you so long?” Red demanded. She noticed you had a bag clenched in between your teeth. “What’s in the bag?”

“What bag?” You try to play stupid. If Ace can pull the stupid act off sure you can.

“Please, don’t play dumb. Tell me what’s in the bag or I won’t show you the way home.” Red threatened.

“You wouldn’t.” You whisper in disbelief.

“But I would.” Red replied happily.

“Fine it’ a necklace for somepony.” You mutter.

“You have a marefriend? What madness is this?” Red looked at you in disbelief.

“What? You say to have faith in Ace, yet I get nothing?” You joke.

“I must say, you’re really lucky you know? Don’t let her go.” Red trotted a little further ahead, leaving your mind trying to process what she said.

“We finally made it!” Red exclaimed.

Sure enough, your house was growing ever closer. Good thing Red was your guide or making it home was going to be near impossible. It was near the afternoon now so you could at least have some time to relax before heading out to Erotica again. You remove the key from under the mat and unlock the door.

“I notice you haven’t been limping around that bad while we walked here.” You turn around and notice Red stared at your legs with a faint smile.

“Yeah, I guess I’m recovering.” You mumble.

“Well, see ya around.” Red waved good bye before trotting off down the street.

She was right; the pain was tolerable these days. You trot over to the kitchen and notice that you had left all the scraps of torn paper on the dinner table. After cleaning up the mess, you walk upstairs and flop on your bed. You leave the bag with the necklace on the night stand. The bottle of pain killers were sitting on the night stand as well. You fidget slightly at the sight of them. Fighting of the impulse to take a few, you rise up and start the walk down stairs. A surge of pain shoots down your legs and heart more aggressively then you ever experienced.

It didn’t just hurt; the pain felt like it was burning your body. You fumble with the bottle a little but manage to have a pill slip out. It landed near the bag and you nearly knock the bag away for the bill. Just as you were going to pop the pill in your mouth, you notice the bag had fallen on the floor and the necklace slipped out of it. You disregard the pill and pick the necklace off the ground.

The sight of the necklace gave you a little confidence and reminded you a little of Vinyl’s eyes. You could feel the pain in your body subsiding a bit, which was a relief. It felt like hours as you stared at the necklace. Slowly, you place the necklace back in its bag and walk back down stairs. The pain killers were left on the floor near your bed and you had no intention to run back for it.

Relapsing and Crashing

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You decide to head down by Erotica early. It’s better to be early anyway, perhaps there would be enough time to ask Gold about Ace and find him. Last night was a nightmare and you didn’t want the disappearance of Ace to sit on your conscious anymore. There was an issue though, when Ace took you to Erotica you were pretty much day dreaming through the entire walk. You recall a few buildings being around the area of Erotica but nothing else. It started to seem like going out early was a good idea after all. Considering you’d be spending at least an hour wandering around to find the place.

As you walked through the streets of Manehattan, your mind wandered back to Vinyl giving you a kiss earlier today. Shame you couldn’t see her beautiful face with all the steam in the air. Her eyes were pretty much the only thing you could see and you weren’t complaining. You suddenly walk right into something, a wall to be clear. Your muzzle received the full impact and it felt a little sore. Surprisingly, you had just bumped into one of the walls of Erotica. Perhaps day dreaming somehow helped you get here? Or maybe Celestia had been keeping an eye out for you? All you knew was that luck was on your side today.

The bouncer from yesterday was standing guard near the front door again. You flashed him your pass and he replied with a grunt before letting you in. Vinyl was around the corner of the room working her craft. You didn’t want to bother her while she worked so you decide to head over to the bar, the same place were Gold introduced himself. As you walk through the dance floor, a group of mares surrounded you. They start grinding against your body and you try to slip by them to no avail. Every time you got past two mares, three more would pop up from nowhere.

At first, you thought they just wanted to dance with you and were obviously not taking a hint. That notion was proved false when one of the mares muzzled your neck and started to gently kiss it. This isn’t your kind of thing and prayed that something would save your sorry flank from this mess. A stallion walked by and the group of mares started to get on him as well. Taking advantage of the situation, you slip past them and head over to the bar. The mares greedily eyed there new victim and you felt pity for the poor guy. They were probably pick pocketing him or something.

A mare bartender walks over to you once you take a seat. She looked a lot like Red Heart, just a lot less strict.

“Want anything to drink?” The bartender asked, staring at you with interest.

“Some water would be nice about now.” You mutter, still trying to get over from being nearly mobbed.

She gives you a curt nod and fills you cup a glass of water. A sudden thought hits you and perhaps this mare might be able to help out.

“Hey, what happened after the fight here last night with Frost?” You ask casually.

“Don’t remind me about Frost. That idiot is my new boss.” She fumed angrily.

“I guess Frost beat down Gold and took over this place.” You mumble sadly. “Don’t worry though, hopefully I can fix this.”

“You, fix this mess? What are you, a one man army?” The bartender started to laugh but soon stopped when she noticed how serious you looked. “Okay, if you can do something I might be able to help out a bit. I want Frost gone more than any pony in this room.” She gives you a rather stunning smile before turning her attention to other customers.

You try to take a sip from your cup but a stallion smacked it right out of your grasp. All the water from the cup splashed you all over your face and mane. The stallion roars in laughter at the sight of your drenched face. Your temple pulsed violently and you make a grab for a bottle, cracking it open on the counter top. All the sharp glass protruding from the bottle silenced the large stallion at once.

“Now, there is no need to stab him.” Frost drawled, walking up to the bar with a few other stallions following him.

The stallion you were about to stab gives you a smug look. Just to scare him a little, you drop the sharp end of the bottle right on the guy’s hind legs. He winced in pain as the bottle cut his just his fur before falling to the ground.

“You did say not to stab him.” You reply coldly.

“I suppose there was a loop hole in that. Nonetheless, I’m actually somewhat happy to see you here.” Frost pushed the stallion that just suffered a cut off and took his place. “Where is Ace?”

“Heck if I know.” You reply.

“Let’s see about that.” Frost whistles and one of his thugs dragged over Vinyl.

They tapped her mouth shut but you could barely hear her muffled threats. Vinyl looked down at you helplessly and you had a powerful urge to smack that stallions head off. However, even trying to make an attempt to save Vinyl right now was destined to fail. Frost was winning the numbers game.

“Where is Ace? If you don’t spill,” Frost gives a nod to the stallion holding onto Vinyl, he pulls a blade out and places the tip of it on her neck. “She’ll spill something.”

You stare at Vinyl, who looked at the knife in complete horror. Trying hard to suppress your anger, you turn your focus on Frost. “I got knocked out in last nights fight! For all I know, Ace could be on the other side of Equestria right now!” You yell angrily. “Just let her go, Frost. She has nothing to do with this.”

“True, she doesn’t. However, your friend kissed my marefriend. I see you two have grown rather close...” Frost leans over to Vinyl and removes the tape over her mouth. “Don’t move dear, my friend here might let that blade slip.” Frost leans a little closer to Vinyl and kisses her.

You try to lunge at Frost but his thugs quickly grab you. Frost suddenly draws back from Vinyl abruptly. He howled in pain and specks of blood were running down his mouth. Vinyl spits some blood out of her mouth as well. “You suck at kissing.” Vinyl informed.

“She just bit my tongue!” Frost howled, staring at Vinyl in disbelief. He smacks her across the face and that puts you over the edge. “Will you calm him down?” Frost snaps angrily.

One of the thugs bucks you on the ribs. You immediately sink to the ground like a stone. That buck felt like it just broke a few of your ribs. The pain was beyond anything you felt before. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the pain you felt in your heart at times though.

“Since he won’t spill you can do as you please with him. As for the DJ…we have some unfinished business to attend to.” Frost gestures the thug holding Vinyl to follow him.

“Let go of me you ugly prick!” Vinyl yelled at the stallion, who replied with slapping Vinyl across the face. It didn’t stop her from frantically kicking and punching any part of the stallion she could manage but he looked immune to it. You could hear Vinyl yelling for you but the music drowns out the words to barely anything.

“I’m sorry.” You mutter through clenched teeth.

The thugs shrugged and one of them stomped you on the chest. All the air in your lungs immediately gets released. It was pretty hard to breath and the stallion started to press down harder on your chest. At this rate, you felt like you would pass out or your lung would just shrivel up with the lack of oxygen. Your vision starts to get blurred and you figure this might be the end of the line. Somepony throws a bottle right the stallion that was crushing your chest. The bottle cracks him over the head and he sinks to the ground. His fellow thugs took notice of the bottle thrower and instantly start climbing over the counter.

You hear a faint yell. It looked like the bartender finally decided to help out. She probably should have done this sooner but she at least gave you a chance to escape. You were reduced to a pitiful crawl and your body refused to get up. Choosing to avoid the front door this time, you crawl over to the back door. There were no guards here and you considered yourself lucky. With the last amounts of strength you had, you push open the door and collapse outside in the alley.

There was the shrill sound of an alarm. The alarm was probably set to the door and those thugs were about to close in on your location any minute. You try desperately to get up but sink back down to the ground. Your breathing was erratic and your body was just too sore now. You manage to crawl to a trash bin and lean against it for support. Now, you kind of welcomed the beating coming your way. Maybe then, you’ll finally be pain free.

“What about Vinyl?” You mutter to yourself.

True, she was the best thing that happened to you. You knew you were no super hero, like in the comics. Saving the girl and kicking the bad guys flank…that wasn’t you. Popping pills and hating yourself for doing it…now that’s you.

“Why so low buddy?” A cheery voice asks.

You glance above the garbage bin and notice Ace had been sitting there.

“You’re…alive?” You sputter, blood slowly dripping from your mouth now.

“That I am. Don’t talk too much right now though. No reason to push yourself.” Ace mutters quickly. He quickly gets you on his back and starts trotting out the alley. “We need to head over to the local hospital A.S.A.P.” Ace looks at you and suddenly looks panicky. “Hey, don’t you start fading out on me now!”

“Ugh, I guess I’m the one who never grows up.” You whisper more to yourself then Ace.

“Stop talking dumb! We’re almost there!” Ace tried to reassure you but he sounded scared out of his wits.

“But I don’t want to be saved…” You whisper.

“Oh yes you do!” Ace cuts you off and starts running as fast as he could.

He totally disregards the hospital glass doors and breaks right past them. Some of the shards of glass sink into your skin, just adding onto the pain that had been building up in you. It was an annoyance that kept you barely in focus on what’s going on. Ace runs right into the ER without addressing the intern, who started yelling things at Ace. Red Heart noticed Ace running down the room and quickly notices that he had been carrying you.
Ace and Red looked like they got into a heated argument and you started to sink into the familiar darkness again. Their words barely pierced your ears and you honestly couldn’t care.

“I swear…opposites attract.” You barely whisper.

You closed your eyes and hear Red’s shrill scream.

“He’s stabilized. I can’t believe he was in here yesterday to! One of the doctors here recognized him.” Red’s voice sounded so panicky, so much unlike her usual calm strict self.

“I had no idea.” Ace muttered.

“Of course you wouldn’t! Why would you even take him to a stupid club like that in the first place! You nearly killed him!” Red yelled shrilly.

“You’re acting like I’m the one who beat the tar out of him! Even you wanted to start taking him outside! I did him a favor to! He finally got to meet a mare who actually liked him back!” Ace remarked angrily.

“Vinyl…” You manage to whisper.

“You shouldn’t be talking right now. There’s a tube in your mouth right now.” Red informed, addressing you far more kindly then Ace.

“Ace…the bag?” You ask shakily.

“Umm.” Ace tried avoiding your gaze but you wouldn’t have any of that.

“The bag.” You repeated more firmly.

“You should really get some rest…” Red tried to calm you down.

Ace pulled a rather tattered bag from under the bed and spilled its contents on the night stand next to you. The musical note on the necklace was completely shattered. Once you really started to digest that the present you planned on giving to Vinyl had been destroyed, you started to breath harshly and shake violently. Red’s expression turned from one of nervous to terror. All the fibers in your body screamed in agony. Tears started to streak down your face and you pull the tube right out of your mouth. It was so long that you bet the thing was supplying your oxygen directly into your lungs. You could feel your very lungs convulsing for air and you let out a scream of agony.

Red yelled something to her fellow nurses in the hall but you couldn’t hear it anymore. The pain you were experiencing was just too much to bear now, it started to blind all your other sense besides feel. Ace tried to restrain you and you start to push him away. A whole group of nurses entered the room along with Red and tried to restrain you as well. It took about ten nurses, including Ace, to keep you still. Just as the nurses got a firm hold on you, your heart beat started to slow down dramatically.

“He’s crashing!” Red screamed, looking at heart monitor in fear.

“Let me through!” A mare nurse yelled, she was holding onto two metallic pads.

The familiar darkness started to consume you again. However, the experience was short lived. A powerful jolt of energy ran across your body. Just as you thought it was over, another jolt ran through you. You wouldn’t have minded so much if it didn’t hurt so badly.

A ray of white light enters your vision. The light actually starts to get so powerful and bright that you feared of getting blind. Red was just waving a very bright flash light over your eyes though.

“You gave us a scare.” Red informed you, giving you a happy smile.

You just meekly nod and the tension in the room died off. Some of the nurses, along with Red and Ace, filed out of the room and one of them was pulling out a needle from her pocket. One of her friends calls her over and she leaves the needle on
your night stand before addressing her friend in the hallway.

There was a label on the needle that read “Methadone”. Your mind processes the name and you fidget slightly after realizing what it is and what it does. It had been over a whole day of not taking pain killers. Just when you thought you finally kicked that habit to the curb.

You make a wild grab for the needle and sink it into your hind leg. The nurses finally notice what you had done. They ran into the room and tried to remove the needle from your leg. You had already injected the fluid before they got to you.

“We were too late.” One of the nurses muttered.

A confident smile graced your face but was soon replaced with a grimace. The pain didn’t die away as expected. For some reason, it felt like it doubled! You shiver violently and you let your head smack against the night stand before hitting the ground.

The Strength I Need

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“Why would you even leave pain killers around him at time likes this?” Even if Red was yelling at a nurse in the hallway, her voice carried over through the walls of your room crystal clear.

“It’s not my fault he injected himself with Methadone!” The nurse retaliated.

What the nurse said was true; it wasn’t like she helped inject you with Methadone. You succumbed to your addiction because the pain in your body was just too much to bear. As of the moment, your senses were on overdrive. The thumping of your heart and the expansion of your lungs for air could be felt. Perhaps the near death experience made you more appreciative and aware of your major organs. Ace slides the door open to your room and takes a seat next to your bed, sliding a bag under his chair before getting settled in.

“You’re sure looking great!” Ace chirped happily. You couldn’t help but smile, Ace’s positive attitude was infectious like Vinyl’s.

“I feel like junk, but thanks anyway. Hey Ace, what happen after I hit my head? I can’t remember much.” You notice Ace started to look uncomfortable when you started to ask.

“It seems like you suffered a relapse, which might have been one of the reasons for you passing out. Mind you that it wasn’t long before the nurses had to shock you with the fibs. Your heart couldn’t take all the abuse.” Ace explained, looking at you anxiously.

You let out a sigh at the news and lean back into your pillows. “I’m sorry for causing so much trouble Ace.”

“Nah, I don’t blame you one bit! Personally speaking, I would have probably stabbed my eye out though.” It was hard to tell if Ace was being serious or joking around. Nonetheless, you felt grateful.

“Great, you’re awake. Hey Ace, did you get it?” Red entered the room and looked at Ace expectantly.

Ace nods and pulls out the bag from under his chair. He digs in it for a bit and pulls an even smaller bag from it. Just as you were ready to see Ace pull out another bag from within the smaller one, he removed a necklace from it. Your jaw goes slightly slack when you start to realize that Ace’s necklace was almost an exact copy of the one you got for Vinyl. The only difference was the musical note was no encrusted with small little rubies, which reminded you slightly of Vinyl’s eyes.

“I know it’s not the same exact thing but I tried my best.” Ace stammered.

“It’s perfect.” You give Ace an approving nod for his efforts. Strength

Ace smiled sheepishly and handed the necklace over to you. Indeed, it really was just perfect. You try to get up from your bed but your ribs scream in protest. Seeing that getting up was near impossible, you sink back into your bed. Red notices the defeated look on your face.

“You broke four ribs. Walking at this point is going to be near impossible without crying in pain. It’s for the best that you stay
here and get some rest.” Red advised.

“No can do. I need to get him back to Erotica to save Vinyl.” Ace replied.

“Are you mad? You nearly died twice in the last few hours!” Red’s voice was getting so shrill and high only bats might hear her eventually.

You falter under the wrath of Red but Ace wasn’t backing down. “You saw how he broke down after seeing that the original
necklace was broken. If the necklace meant that much to him I can only imagine what’ll happen if he can’t see Vinyl again. Relapsing and breaking a few ribs will pale in comparison to what he might do.”

“I won’t let you go so easily. Besides, how do you plan on saving Vinyl when you can barely save yourself?” Red demanded.

“To be honest Red, I think he’ll have a harder time living without Vinyl around.” Ace muttered.

“He just met her a few days ago!” Red yelled back.

For a moment, it looked like Red was about to slap Ace around. She somehow calmed herself down and left the room but you could see how livid her face was. Red slammed the door behind her, making the glass in the door crack.

“That was terrifying.” Ace whispered, looking at the cracked glass with fear. “She will stop at nothing to keep you in here now. However, that won’t stop us from trying.”

Ace handed you some crutches hidden in a closet. Your ribs screamed in protest at this abuse but you had to push on. The only benefit the crutches offered was taking a load off your legs. Once you got into the hallway, there were a few nurses, including Red, talking close to a few rooms down the hallway. They were too deep into their conversation to take notice in you're presence yet. This wasn't the time to slack off; you and Ace walk to the other side of the hallway to avoid them. The crutches made the progress just too slow and with the risk of Red catching you, this had to be fixed fast.

Two mare nurses exited a room and started to walk down the hallway and Ace took advantage.

“Hey ladies, mind helping me out with my friend here?” Ace called out to the nurses happily.

“Sure, we’ll grab a wheelchair for him.” One of the nurses answered, signaling her companion to get the wheelchair.

“They are suckers.” Ace snickered in your ear.

After obtaining the wheel chair, mobility no longer was an issue. Ace pushes you in an elevator and hits the fourth floor button before the door closes.

“We need to win the numbers game if we want to even think about fighting off Frost. With that in mind, talking to Gold is our best chance at gathering a nice crew. That won’t mean I won’t grab some more buddies but this is a start.” Ace explained to you as the elevator traveled up to the fourth floor.

The elevator doors slide open and Ace pushed you out into the hallway. Hospitals always freaked you out. Either it was all the sick ponies coughing all over the place or that the hallways gave you that claustrophobic feel. Honestly, at times, the walls looked like they were squeezing ever closer together.

Ace stops pushing your wheelchair and starts knocking on a door, room 468.

“Come in.” A mare called from within.

Now wasn’t the time for Ace to start hooking up with nurses! Ace disregards your glare and pushes you in the room. You notice Gold, who looked rather bruised, was resting on a bed and a mare nurse was treating him.

“I see you’re still treating Gold, Clara. But I need you to do me a favor.” Ace trots up to the nurse, leaving you to be forgotten.

“What do you need from me?” Clara demanded. She took one glance at you and her eyes widened. “I thought Red was taking care of him.” She pointed an accusing hoof at you while giving Ace a serious look.

“She is…or rather was. That doesn’t matter right now though. Red refuses to help my buddy to be able to save his marefriend.” Ace explained.

Clara disregarded Ace and trotted up to you. She leaned down and started to whisper in your ear. “This mare must be really important to you. I heard how much pain you been going through for the last few hours.”

“Vinyl is really important to me.” You whisper back, Ace was trying to eavesdrop on the conversation now.

“How important is she?” Clara asked quietly.

“I’m pain free when she is around. That almost never happens to me when I took pills.” You reply, speaking at a regular level again.

Clara nodded and left to the room suddenly. Ace just shrugged and sank into a vacant chair while Gold shifted a little in his bed. You notice a large scar on his cheek, probably the doing from one of Frost’s thugs. Clara shortly returns and brought a small box on her back. She places it on a table in the room and starts sorting through it. Just when you were going to ask Clara what she was looking for, she pulled several syringes from the box. Each syringe contained a liquid in it and you notice one of them was labeled “Methadone”.

“I’m helping you not only because I think what you’re doing is heroic, I just hate Red a lot as well.” Clara muttered as she placed the shades over the door to the room. “Take the adrenaline Ace; you will need them later on.” Clara points at three syringes sitting next to the methadone.

“Why is that?” Ace asked as he grabbed the syringes and slipping them into a saddlebag that Clara gave to him.

“His heart shut down after taking that last dosage of methadone. If his heart shuts down again when you’re trying to get Vinyl, inject him with this.” Clara explained.

“Aren’t you going to inject methadone in him again?” Ace pointed out the syringe held in her teeth now.

“Why do you think I brought a box full of them?” Clara replied before injecting you.

You start to feel a numbing feeling spread throughout your body. This was probably the second time in your life that you felt absolutely pain free since your injury. Ace looks at you in shock once you get up from the wheelchair without a hitch.

“Come on champ, we got to save Vinyl from that loser Frost.” Ace happily declared.

Money Talks

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“Gold, would you mind helping us out on our daring rescue?” Ace asked.

“I would like to regain what’s rightfully mine so sure, why not.” Gold muttered. He got up from his bed with surprising speed and trotted by your side.

“Frost kept a lot of your old employees in Erotica. Majority of them hates his guts and I bet they would be more then glad to help us out.” Gold looked rather satisfied when you recall the bartender’s words.

“They’re like my second family. And as family, you have to help them out when in need.” Gold acknowledged.

“Excellent! I’ll meet you two at Erotica then. I need to pull a few strings to further ensure our chances of kicking Frost’s flank all over the place.” Ace chimed in before leaving the room.

“Let’s get a move on.” Gold muttered, following suit to Ace.

Red was right when she said that she would try to keep you trapped in here. It looked like about every nurse, doctor, security guard, and even custodian had an eye on you were ever you went. You couldn’t help but wonder if Gold’s presence around you kept anypony from trying to drag you back to your room. Every exit had at least six guards near the door, probably due to Red tipping them off. Honestly, was this place a prison rather than a hospital now?

Just as you started to feel that leaving this hospital was close to impossible, Gold enters a room and returns shortly dressed like a doctor. You were at a loss for Gold’s sudden desire to play dress up and he noticed.

“They won’t assume nothing if two doctor’s leave.” Gold explained.

You simply shrug and enter the room yourself. It looked like a lunchroom or just a place for the employees to hang out. Lab coats were hanging on the back of a few chairs, some clipboards on the table in the middle of the room, and a forgotten pair of glasses on top of one of the clipboards. Your luck was really starting to turn.

“The glasses are a nice touch. It goes along well with the clipboard.” Gold noted, nodding with approval of your disguise once you entered the hallway again.

“We should head to the lobby.” You mutter.

“Why is that? What’s the difference between the front door and all the other exits we tried?” Gold looked very skeptical on your idea.

“Well, the guards would never even consider that we would walk through the front doors that we came in from.” You reply.

You and Gold return to the elevator and head down to the lobby. While the elevator descended, your mind wandered back to Vinyl’s safety. What was Frost doing to her? Wise ponies have said that the imagination is far worse than the actual fact itself. Perhaps Vinyl was fine and maybe she wasn’t. All you knew was that you can’t stand the idea of Frost even being close to her.

As the elevator doors opened, you were surprised to see fewer guards down here, two to be exact. Gold’s jaw was a little slack and you bet he too was astounded by the lack of security in the area. The only problem was the ponies at the front desk, the way how they surveyed the room like a hawk was unsettling. This didn’t seem to bother Gold one bit, he trotted up to the front door without a care. You followed Gold once you notice the ponies at the desk ignored Gold walking past them completely.

Freedom was to close that you could taste it. The world outside looked so much bigger then you remember, perhaps which was from growing used to the claustrophobic feel the hospital gave you. Just as you placed your hoof on the front door, you could hear galloping behind you. The source of the galloping was from Red, who looked unnerved at your presence.

“Get him! He’s escaping!” Red hollered to the confused guards.

“Run like the wind?” Gold yelled as he pushed past the front door.

“We have to go faster than that!” You yell back, trying to keep pace with Gold.

How long you’ve been running was hard to say. The sounds of the gallops from the chasing guards died out eventually though. Fortunately for you, Gold had the lead and you trusted in him that he had a good idea how to get to Erotica. After all, he owned the place. Gold made it a point for the both of you to trash your disguises, to further throw off the guards. You figured he just didn't like the idea of walking around looking like a doctor. Erotica was soon approaching and Ace was waiting there impatiently, from the looks of his pacing back and forth at least.

“What was the hold up? I was expecting you guys to be out way earlier.” The snappy tone of Ace’s just proved your theory.

“With so many guards around the exits, we had to get creative.” Gold replied, gesturing to his doctor disguise.

“Guards you say? Red wasn’t kidding around then.” Ace mused.

“About the muscle…” Gold muttered.

“Don’t fuss over that. They are in the club as we speak. All you have to do is threaten Frost when you confront him and they’ll act.” Ace replied as he puffed out his chest proudly.

Ace was not one to let anypony down. You hoped that reputation would stay true tonight. As you trotted to Erotica’s front entrance, Ace pulled you aside while Gold talked to the familiar bouncer.

“I want you to get Vinyl as fast as you can and get her to safety. The effects of the pain killers might wear out while you’re in
there, which is the last thing I need to happen. I prefer not to start injecting you with adrenaline if I can help it, but I’ll do it if
you need it.” Ace whispered urgently in your ear. You nod silently and that seemed enough for him. “Let’s go then.”

Maybe tonight would be the night that you’ll become the hero’s in the comics you always got read when you were a young colt. Kick the bad guys flank and win the girl. Easier said than done, but you wanted to try at least.

The club was packed and Frost or Vinyl were no were to be seen. Ace noticed how stressed out you looked and patted your shoulder comfortingly.

“Chill out. We’ll find her.”

“You punks are back again?” A thick voice erupted.

A large stallion walked over to you over from the bar, a small gang following him. You recall this stallion was the one that
held onto Vinyl while Frost…never mind.

“You’re like a cockroach you know? No matter how many times we stomp on you, you always manage to crawl back.” The thug scowled at you.

“I’ll back off if you hand over Vinyl.” You reply angrily.

The group of thugs roared out in laughter and you waited until they calmed down. “Who are you to make demands? You have absolutely nothing to threaten us with.” One of the thugs chimed in.

“Demands you say? This interests me.” Frost interjects, finally showing his ugly mug to the world.

Hate courses through your veins, like venom, and you wish Frost would just explode on the spot. “Hand over Vinyl.” You repeated.

“Trying to save Vinyl again? There are so many more mares out in the world. Yet you continue to chase after her, even after suffering the beating you got from us. Wasn’t it four broken ribs?” Frost drawled, giving you a bored look.

“How did you know about that?” Ace demanded.

“I have my sources. What you should be worrying about is that you might not walk out this club tonight.” Frost replied coldly.

“I had enough of you Frost! I’ll break every bone in your body!” Ace roared.

A whole bunch of stallions stood up and surrounded Frost and his thugs. Frost eyes widened in fear and his thugs cowered closer to him. Suddenly, the group surrounding Frost started to fight amongst each other and Frost regained his confident smile.

“Ace, I know you are a real smooth talker. However, the power of money is far more convincing then you will ever be.” Frost chuckled at Ace’s dismay.

“Run and don’t look back. Grab Vinyl if you can, but run.” Ace suddenly whispered in your ear.

“What? I can’t just leave you here!” You hiss back.

Ace shook his head and remained silent. You realize Ace was very serious and you obey his wishes. As you backed out of the circle, Frost’s thugs were calling you out.

“Go ahead, run you fool. Vinyl will be very safe with me.” Frost mocked.

The hate in your heart reaches a breaking point and you try to lunge back at Frost, but you slammed right into Gold’s chest.

“Forget about him. You came here for other reasons.” Gold muttered darkly.

You look back at Ace, who looked more determined than ever. “Don’t lose Ace.”

“Are you doubting me? Don't I feel special?” Ace replied simply.

Gold drags you from the congested circle. The last thing you saw was the crowd of stallions engulfing Ace and Frost, who exchanged punching hooves. One of Frost’s thugs latched onto your leg and wouldn’t let go. Gold noticed the straggler and ripped his tail right off. The stallion screeched in pain and writhed on the floor in agony, letting you go completely.

“Sherry told me Frost has been keeping Vinyl in my old office, which is probably his now. She should still be in there. The office is right along the DJ booth, second floor.” Gold advised you.

“Thanks Gold, I owe you big time.” You reply, trotting quickly to the DJ booth.

Gold just shrugs and moves back to the fighting group of stallions, snapping his neck to loosen himself up. You watch Gold fight his way into the crowd with little effort. He was probably trying to see if Ace needed help. However, you knew your focus right now was to be on finding Vinyl. Once you got to the DJ booth, there was a door behind it. There was a gold plate on the door, engraved with Gold’s name.

“Can’t let you do that.” A familiar thick voice growled.

You turn around and notice the large stallion from earlier followed you up here. He held a knife in his mouth and the look in his eyes told you that he had no intention for you to walk away alive.

“I wonder if cockroaches can live with a hole in there heart.” The stallion muttered after grabbing the knife in one hoof.

“I wonder if ponies can live without a brain. But hey, you’re alive.” You retorted.

The stallion roared and tried to stab you in the chest. You manage to side step him, making the knife stab a speaker instead. The knife went surprisingly deep into the speaker and it started to hiss and spit sparks violently as the stallion pulled the knife out of it. He chuckled at the shocked look on your face. Fighting against this freak of nature was just unfair.

Coming Up Short

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For such a big guy, the stallion moved with the grace equivalent of a ballerina. His large body allowed you to strike him a few times before he started to slice away at you. He feints a lunge and you fall for it, sidestepping right into his knife. The blade cuts you across the face. Specks of blood started to drip down to the floor. Your eyes were alright, but your right cheek hurt an awful lot.

“Did the baby get hurt?” The stallion mockingly cooed you.

He tries to strike you in the chest and you dodged his outstretched hoof. You grab his hoof in mid lunge and punch his elbow. A loud crack erupts and you can see his bones tried to rip through his skin. The stallion howled in pain and clutched at his broken elbow. He was backing into the rails and you tried to tell him to watch out before it was too late, but he backed right into it and slipped over it. Forgetting that this freak tried to kill you just now, you run over to the rail to see if you can grab his hoof to save him.

The stallion was already free falling. It all happened in slow motion as he landed on a table and went right through it, sending splinters everywhere. Not one of the fighters downstairs stopped to check if that stallion was even alive. Your attention shifts from the limp stallion to Gold’s office. Now that he was out of your way, nothing can stop you.

As you open the door, you started to doubt this was just an office. There was a large bed in the room and your mind nearly jams when you notice Vinyl had been tied to it. Her legs were outstretched and tied to the four corners of the bed post. Her mouth was tapped shut, but the grateful look on her face told you she was more than happy to see you.
The ties on Vinyl were just too thick for you to undo. The large thug from earlier was carrying a knife, you hoped he had dropped it before falling. You quickly walk back to the DJ booth and notice the blood stained knife lying on the floor. Once you retrieve the knife you return to Gold’s office and start cutting Vinyl loose.

After you cut the last tie restraining Vinyl and remove the tape covering her mouth, she quickly pulls into you and hugs you tightly. She sobs into your chest and you can only manage to hug her tightly in return. This tender moment was kind of ruined with all the sounds of grunts and punching going on down stairs. You finally found Vinyl, making this madness all worthwhile.

“Frost told his thugs to tie me up while he hanged around in the club. Before he left, Frost told me that he would make me…” Vinyl tried to finish her sentence, but was reduced to renewed tears.

Your heart ached at the sight of Vinyl breaking down. You had a pretty good idea what were Frost’s intentions with her and that knowledge only fueled the hatred you had for him. It took some time, but Vinyl finally calmed down. She looked up at you with her tear stained eyes, which ate away at your very soul.

“We need to get out of here.” You whisper urgently to her.

As you walked down to the first floor, your legs suffered from a surge of pain slightly. Were the effects of the pain killers already dying off? No matter, you still had to get Vinyl out of here. Her safety far outweighed yours. That moment of pain went, fortunately, unnoticed by Vinyl, not wanting to go in depth about why your leg was bothering you. The fighting was still going strong down here and you couldn’t see Ace, Gold, or Frost in the hoard. Broken tables and bodies littered the floor, like common street trash.

“Let’s go through the back.” You mutter, checking to see if Vinyl was still behind you.

To your dismay, Frost had retaken Vinyl hostage. He was placing a blood soaked knife, the same that the stallion used from before, right on her throat.

“Help me!” Vinyl gasped out before Frost pressed the blade against her neck.

Beads of blood could be seen dripping down from where the tip of the blade met her neck. “Frost, please don’t hurt her.” You begged.

“Sorry to say, but the stallion that you made fall through the table earlier was my brother. I must avenge him, to defend his honor.” Frost hissed, pressing harder with the blade on Vinyl’s neck.

“I’ll do anything you want! Just don’t hurt her anymore.” You yelled, sounding a little desperate now.

“Bring my brother back!” Frost demanded.

Without thinking, you try to punch or do anything to keep Frost from hurting Vinyl. Frost throws Vinyl aside and plunges his knife into your chest as you run into him. At first, the pain was nonexistent and you pulled the knife out without a hitch. Frost looked at you in horror as the blade was being pulled out. However, once your wound was open, pain flooded your entire body. Had the pain killer’s effects finally worn off or the pain you were feeling right now was so grave that it shattered through the numbing effects? Blood was starting to flow from your wound, like a little waterfall. Frankly, you were amazed there was so much blood in you.

Your body submits to the pain and you collapse to the ground at last. Frost was laughing manically, but to you he sounded very distant. An alarmed look takes over Frost’s face and he runs out of your field of vision, which had grown blurred. Ace looked at your wound and his usual charismatic smile died at the sight of it. He tried to put pressure on your wound, but the blood continued to flow freely. Vinyl tried to help Ace, but nothing could stop the constant flow of blood.

“Dying in a pool of my own blood, that’s not usually how the hero’s in the comics died at least. Then again, I’m not exactly a hero.” You mutter sadly, letting your fur soak in your blood.

“You’re my hero.” Vinyl whispered, nuzzingly you on the neck.

“That means the world to me.” You manage to reply, being reduced to whisper now. “Hey Ace,” You turn your focus on him now. “Give it to her.”

“Give it right now? I figured you’d do it yourself.” Ace replied.

Blood starts dripping from the corners of your mouth now. Frost must have impaled your lung with the knife. “Please Ace, do it… for me” You pleaded.

Ace nods slowly and pulls the necklace from his saddle bag. He puts it around Vinyl’s neck and says nothing more.

“It’s…beautiful.” Vinyl whispered, her eyes glazing with tears. She hugs you tightly and kisses you on the lips. If the pain hadn't been so unbearable, you would have leaned into the kiss some more. Even with pain knocking on you and the taste of blood in your mouth, the minty and sugary taste of Vinyl was evident.

“Come on champ, we can still make it to the hospital if we move now!” Ace tries to lift your spirits when he barely can help his own.

Vinyl parts away from the kiss, blood staining her lips and hoofs now. “He’s right. You need help.” If she hadn’t sounded so terrified, you might have fallen for it.

Ace picks you up on his back and trots out to the back exit, Vinyl following close by. Breathing itself had become a difficult task now. Every time you tried to take breath of air, blood would keep filling your mouth up. Red had always complained about the lack of blood donors, yet here you were ready to supply enough blood equivalents to three volunteers. Without warning, Ace hits the ground. You couldn’t be that heavy…right?

“Ugh, stupid thugs stepped all over my legs back in the club.” Ace hissed through grit teeth. “Vinyl, do me a favor, there are three syringes in my saddlebag. Inject me with one, if you would.”

Vinyl did what was asked without asking questions. A few moments after being injected, Ace looked more dazed than ever.

“I don’t think this is adrenaline.” Ace mumbled before his head bounced off the pavement.

“What happened to him?” Vinyl tried to wake Ace back up with no success.

“Clara lied to us. It seemed like she wanted to kill us, or rather me, off.” You reply, rolling off Ace and wincing in pain at the progress. He’ll be fine. His heart was still beating slowly; it was just that he was knocked out.

“You can lean on me.” Vinyl offered. “How did you expect I got you to my place?”

You can’t help but laugh at the thought, blood started gushing out of your mouth at a rapid rate as you did so. Vinyl, all by herself, dragged you to her place. She could have ditched you, having only met you a day or two ago, yet Vinyl did it anyway. You were well aware you fell flat on your face for her, but did she do the same?

Vinyl had only managed to help you to the front entrance of Erotica before you collapsed again. Your ribs screamed in agony more than ever. Everything was becoming more distant and blurred again. A faint sound of sirens could be heard, but you pay it no mind. Vinyl was trying to say something. You could see her mouth move, her words just failed to reach you.
Lip-reading wasn’t exactly your strength, yet you knew this might be the last thing Vinyl can say something to you.

She was saying three words, repeating them and growing more emotional every time. Could she really be saying that? Did Vinyl honestly care that much? You try to reply, but all the blood was building up in your mouth and lungs now. Uttering a word, let alone three, was begging for a sooner death. If this might be it, you wanted to try.

“I…love…” You heart starts slowing down dramatically and you feel a terrible cold shiver run down your spine. Vinyl looked down at you, her eyes brimming with tears. She opens her mouth to form one word. By the looks of it, she was dying for you to finish and so were you. Blood gurgled in your throat now and a familiar darkness wanted to consume you.


You’re hoof was right on Vinyl’s chest, right over her musical note necklace. Her red eyes were the last thing you were able to see when the darkness ate away at your vision. Tears were running down them though. A hero always saves the girl and kicks the bad guys flank. You only did about half of that. Still, at least you did half of it. All too soon, Vinyl’s captivating red eyes soon started to fade. Go figure, just a few hours ago, you would have loved to die.

But now…there was a reason to live and breathe again. The world didn’t feel so cold and empty as it used to. Was there hope, even for a soul like you? Just one more time…that’s all you would want, to see her smile again instead of crying…

Facing My Demons

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So, death was an eternal darkness? Well, the lack of pain was nice. The wound on your chest was long gone and you felt excellent. However, sorrow now took place of the pain that had inhabited you for so long. Vinyl was alive and well, while you were left to roam about in the darkness. That wasn’t bad though, you cared more about Vinyl then your own being. Would she be able to move on without you around, especially after admitting her feelings for you? Deep down, you knew that you couldn't either.

“How long do you plan to keep walking?” A mellow voiced asked.

Your old man trotted by your side. If you could see him, either you were really…or just hallucinating. Hopefully, it was the latter.

“There is no destination for me.” You deadpan.

“Giving up already? That is very unlike you.” Your dad grabs you in a one hoof hug.

“I’m no Ace. Besides, enlighten me for what to do then.” You retort.

“No reason to get so testy with me now. I’m still your dad and I would like to be treated as such.” Your dad kept his mellow tone, but you caught a hint of a threat in there. “That was really brave what you did back there.” Your dad mumbled after a while.

“It was dumb, I ended up dying.” You reply bitterly, thinking back the pool of blood that was to be your grave.

“True, but you saved the mare. After all these years, you finally did become the hero in those books you liked to read.”

You look up at your dad. “How did you know about Vinyl?”

“Well, I know as much as you know and a little more.” He shrugged. “Come on let’s walk to the right path.” Your dad gestures to the darkness and to your surprise, a paved road appears before you.

“How did you?”

“If I told you, what would be the fun in that?”

As you and your dad walked down the road, a question pops in your mind. “Am I dreaming?”

“Dreaming? No, I wouldn’t call this dreaming. It’s pretty close to that though.” Your dad replies, sounding cheerful now. Dad,
Ace and Vinyl all had that infectious happy vibe.

“Where is this road leading to?”

“It goes where you need to be.”

“And that is?”

“Where would you rather be right now? I hope not here.” Dad gestured to the empty darkness around you.

You considered this. The only place where you’d like to be is with Vinyl right about now. As much as you enjoyed Dad’s presence, walking around in eternal darkness was going to get boring.

“Yeah, being with Vinyl is probably the better choice.” Your dad mused.

“Did it hurt?” The childish question slipped from your lips.

“What hurt?” You dad looked confused at the question.

“When…you know, couldn’t be with us.” You mutter sadly.

“Ah,” Your dad’s face went from puzzlement to crestfallen. “I honestly think it hurt more to know that I couldn’t see you and
Ace grow up. The only comfort was that I didn’t need to wake up every morning to a tiresome life.”

“Mom was ruthless after you passed.” You informed.

“She got worse? Is that even possible?” Your dad looked honestly astounded.

“Yep, but she couldn’t pressure Ace. He was immune to her words, like you.” You reply, staring at your dad’s tired face.
“No, I just knew how to hide the strain of it all. I admire you though, being so selfless. Keep giving and never expecting repayment, that’s what you live by. Course, you do it because it made others happy while you sat in the back, locked in your own prison.” Your dad took notice of the fork road ahead.

“Interesting, what could this mean?” You trot over to the fork ahead, but not choosing a path just yet.

“Looks like you need to move past a few things to keep going on the right track. It’s like moving past unsettled business, so to speak.” Your dad gestured to the paths.

A slight shiver runs down your back when you realize who was walking down one of the paths. Mom was on the left while the right remained vacant. She looked haughtier than ever and glared at your dad with pure spite.

“You’re helping him? How utterly useless have you been?” Mom scolded, channeling her rage on dad for now.
“I’m being useful believe it or not, got him on this road after all.” Your dad happily replied, wearing his usual smile to instigate her.

“Stop smiling, it’s getting on my nerves!” Mom snapped viciously.

“I thought you loved my smile, you told me when we first met at least.” Dad noted.

Mom pointed her nose up at the air at Dad. “Things changed.”

“Correction, you changed.” Dad’s tone sounded bitter, which was rare.

An eerie silence filled the air. Mom glared at dad, who looked joyful, before turning to you. Knowing a brutal yelling was coming your way, you ready your mind and body for the onslaught of abuse.

“Looks like you never got to be like Super Stallion.” Mom hissed in your ear, shoving aside your dad.

“No, I’m not like Super Stallion, I’m my own hero.” You reply after remembering Vinyl’s words.

“I liked you more when you were so submissive.” Mom muttered unhappily.

“Sorry mom, I changed.” You escape your mom’s grasp and trot over to your dad, who gave you a one armed hug.

“Why hug him? I’m the one who carried you and Ace while he was gone! Me, I did it all for you two!” Mom yelled shrilly. She started charging towards you and your dad stepped up to take the impact.

You trot passed him and keep him at bay with a hoof. Mom didn’t slow down and her eyes gave the vibe that she was fueled by hatred. There was no turning back now; she was too close to move aside. You caught mom in a hug as she collided into you. The force of the impact didn’t knock you over somehow.

“Maybe I should have been more thankful to you. It was just hard to do that when you kept making us feel so useless. But that’s in the past now. I will always love you mom.” You whisper in her ear.

She looked up at you, her eyes brimming with tears. The look of hate was gone in her eyes, now filled with a happiness you never got to see from her. “Thank you for forgiving me.” Mom whispered to you.

Dad joined in on the hug. The only thing that what make this perfect is if Ace as here. Still, this was long overdue. Mom gave you two a rare smile before disappearing in a wisp of smoke. The puffs of smoke turned into a ball of light as it went high into the sky. You let out a sigh as a great weight lifted off your heart. Even Dad looked more tranquil. The left path suddenly gave you the sense as if it was trying to pull you closer. You obey your instinct and Dad follows you.

As you and your Dad walked down the path, your body suffers a terrible burning sensation. Just as you reach another fork in the road all the fibers in your body scream in agony. The pain was so grave that you crumbled to the ground. Dad tries to help you up, but your legs shake violently under the strain.

There was a faint sound of hoofs hitting the pavement and you hoped the ponies could help you out. When you look up though, Vinyl and Red were standing at the start of the new paths. None of them made a move to help you up, so you assumed this was just another demon in your heart that you had to conquer. Red suddenly removes a bag from nowhere, which you instantly recognized as your monthly dose of pain killers. A horrible twitch and desperation takes you over as Red placed the bag within your reach.

Dad remained silent, but you noticed he was looking at Vinyl. Your heart sank once you realized how disappointed she looked as you greedily grabbed the pills from within the bag. Red looked beside herself with joy as you grabbed the pills though.

“Take the pills now!” Red could hardly contain the excitement in her voice.

“I wont stop you if you really need those pills.” Vinyl muttered sadly.

Vinyl shook her head and started to walk back into the darkness. You throw aside the bottle of pills and crawl to Vinyl’s path. Red’s face went from excitement to pure rage. “What’s wrong with you? TAKE THEM!” Red yelled shrilly.

Choosing to flat out ignore Red, you try to catch up with Vinyl. The pain in your body was chewing you out, but you refused to stop pursuing Vinyl. More than once did you want to turn back and take the pills, but Vinyl’s disappointed face was fresh on your mind. However, your body soon refused to progress any further.

“Vinyl, I don’t need those stupid pills anymore! I need you!” You yell into the darkness, hoping Vinyl was there somewhere.

Tears started to slide down your face as the agony of losing Vinyl and pain started to settle in. Being impaled in the lung, breaking ribs, relapsing, and bleeding out profusely didn’t even begin to compare to how much your heart cried out for Vinyl. You refused to cry as you started to die in front of Vinyl, but the disappointed look on Vinyl’s face was just too much to bear. There were slight hoof taps coming from the darkness in front of you. As the taps grew louder, you could see Vinyl’s distinct red eyes in the darkness. Vinyl soon walked to you and lay down in front of you.

“I need you too.” Vinyl whispered. She gave you a kiss and your entire body went numb as her silky lips graced you. There was still that minty taste that you had fallen in love with. To your surprise, Vinyl parted from the kiss. “Come back and there will be more of that.” Vinyl gave you a playful wink before trotting back into the darkness.

The paved path becomes visible ahead. Your dad trots to your side and helps you back up. His smile grows even larger at the sight of the path ahead, where Vinyl had disappeared in.

“So, that was Vinyl?” Dad asked, looking into the darkness with interest.

“Yeah.” You reply dreamily.

“She is way too good for you.” Your dad joked. “In all seriousness, I’m glad you found her.

“So am I.” You mumble as you look into the darkness.

The path ended with a white light cutting through all the darkness. It started from high into the sky and gave you a feeling of hope. As you walked closer to the light, your dad stuck behind.

“Come on dad, let’s get going.” You call out to him once you notice how far back he was.

“As much as I would love to tag along, it ends here for me.” Dad replied, wearing a strained smile.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s time for us to head our separate ways.”

“You’re going to get stuck with mom?”

“If I do, it probably is going to be a lot nicer than expected.”

“Dad…I’m glad I got to see you again.” Those words came straight from the depths of your heart.

“I’m proud of you Proof.”

“It’s been a long time since someone even said my name.” You mutter.

“Maybe you should fix that? Then again, your mom always said that was a dumb name I gave you. I liked it though.”

“Nah, I like it to.” You reply happily.

The light devours you and your sight is blinded. Even if you couldn’t see him, you could hear your dad talking.

“You know if this was a dream, that’s one interesting imagination you have.”

Maybe you should consider living in a hospital. There were plenty of tubes attached to your body, which rendered you immobile. Talking was useless since a tube was running down your throat and a funny looking mask over your mouth, probably supplying air and food for you. The only thing you could even move was your eyes. Ace was sleeping in a bed next to you, plenty of tubes and wires on him as well.

There was a bouquet of flowers and many get well cards on your nightstand. It was difficult to tell who sent them though. A pulse of affection ran through you when you realized Vinyl had been napping on a chair in the corner of the room. Visiting hours were probably long over and she was still here. Red must’ve thrown a fit at this, but you were glad she allowed it. Vinyl looked adorable as she slept in a somewhat curled ball. Her glasses were on her head while her face was buried in her hoofs. Every part of your body demanded to be at her side, but you were too restrained to do anything. Here was to hoping either Vinyl would wake up or a nurse would find you alive.


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Clara trotted in the room. She had carted in the same box that she used the last time you met her. An unsettling feeling drenched your body as she stood close to you. The look in her eyes showed neither care nor pity, there was only malice.

“I see you’re awake.” Clara noted of your rapidly blinking eyes. “Don’t worry, it won’t be for long.” She then removed a rather long syringe from her box. “You’ll feel a slight pinch.”

The substance within the syringe was crystal clear. Just as she stuck the needle in you, the loud clatter of hooves started to break the eerie silence. Clara’s face looked rather strained instead of its usual calm collected self.

“Come on, not now.” She hissed.

As the liquid flowed into your body, a cold shiver ran down your spine. Half of the contents of the syringe were in you before Red come barging into the room. Her eyes snapped to the syringe and Clara rapidly.

“What are you doing to him?” Red snatched the syringe of you and threateningly pointed it at Clara.

“Better not worry about what I’m doing to him. It’s how long it will take for the potassium cyanide to finish him off.” Clara replied. “I can’t believe Ace got away with taking Anesthesia. No matter though, I at least got one of you two."

“Ace took what?” Red yelled shrilly, waking up the pony in question and Vinyl.

Clara tried to escape from the room, only to be tackled down by Vinyl. Red turned her attention to you and the look in her eye’s told you that things were pretty bad. Without a word, Red hurriedly rushes you out of the room and down the hallway. If Clara had really injected you with cyanide, there was a slim chance you will really walk away from death this time around. Vinyl had caught up to you and looked scared out of her mind.

“Is he going to be alright?” Vinyl’s voice cracked as she asked. Tears were starting to slide down her face and your heart cried out, wanting nothing more than to comfort her.

“He’s been poisoned, but if we get him the antidote quick he’ll be fine.” Red explained as she carted you down the hallway.

Once you passed a doorway, Vinyl was gestured to make no further progress. A large group of doctors came rushing at you, carrying needles and tubes. While they worked on you, every little sound was blocked out. Only the steady beat of your heart was audible for you. Didn’t you just go through enough already? The pain, stress, drama of everything really started to weigh you down. Sure, all the burdens that were on your shoulders for years had finally been lifted. It just sucked to know that you were going to be poisoned as soon as you pulled through.

“There, he should be okay!” Red declared.

Many sighs of relief echoed throughout the tense filled room. You could only smile to show your appreciation for them saving your life, again. Red took notice of the tube running down your throat and kindly removed it. Breathing was an automatic thing, but you really started to appreciate it once you performed it under your own will.

“I still won’t be getting up anytime soon.” You ask after looking at how many wires had been attached on your body.

“Sadly, yes. You’ll be staying here for little over four months to be exact.” Red regretfully informed.

“Don’t sound so sad, I went looking for this.”

“Yes, everypony just loves to have multiple near death experiences!” Red snapped shrilly.

“Do you mind if you took me back to my room? I bet the others are worried out of their minds.”

Red went into a wordless rage while she pushed you back to your room. Vinyl quickly returned by your side as you passed by the same door way from before. A surge if guilt ran through your body as you noticed how terrible Vinyl looked, tear stained cheeks and looking sleep deprived. Somehow, she seemed to be her usual spunky self when the looks of her screamed otherwise.

“Are you alright?”

“Why are you so worried about me? You just got poisoned!”

“I’ve been through worse.” You gesture to the scar on your chest.

“Look, maybe now isn’t the time to talk.” Vinyl shot a nervous glance at Red, who looked rather annoyed. As usual, you never really felt threatened by Red’s demeanor.

“With over four months to recover, I got lots of time to talk.” A rare chuckle escapes your lips while Vinyl stifles a giggle of her own.

4 months later…

“I still say this hospital food is literally sprinkled with poison.” Ace growled as he poked your breakfast, which you didn’t feel like eating after seeing it move.

“If it’s poison, you must really like it because you kept asking for seconds.” Red snapped back.

“Hey, I wasn’t the one who got poisoned with cyanide. We all know Proof here was the victim of that.” Ace replied grimly.

It took a few moments for the quarreling pair to notice how little you cared about what happened months ago. Your attention was more focused on Vinyl, who had been running her hoof over your mane. Words weren’t enough to express how peaceful you felt when Vinyl would arrive to visit you in visiting hours. She would be the first visitor and the last to leave your side.

Red had kept offering pain killers for you, but you always rejected them. It was far easier now to reject what used to be your makeshift crutch. A few months ago, even considering taking one less pill, let alone quit, was not possible. That is, this was before Vinyl’s presence graced your life and your desire to move on. Depending on pain killers was no longer an on demand thing anymore. Honestly, your newly found freedom felt very long overdue and might be the start of something new.

The new obsession of yours came in the form of an electric blue mane, white coat, epic DJ, spunky, and overall joyful mare named Vinyl Scratch. Her ruby red eyes were probably her finest feature though, how they grabbed your attention and never ceased to let go of it. There had been a fair amount of times when Vinyl would ask you what you were staring at while you got lost in her eyes. Your only response was “I get lost a lot. You just keep finding me though”. She would get slightly embarrassed and blushed a bit, for she knew how many times you seen her eyes before slipping into the darkness.

Your thoughts are interrupted by Vinyl’s soothing voice. “What do you want to do when we leave this joint?”

“Um,” You look around the room briefly to see if Red or Ace was still there. Ace noticed your gestures and he quickly shoved
Red from the room. Once Ace and Red were both outside, by the looks of it bickering to, you happily turned your attention to Vinyl, who had been patiently waiting. “Could we do something a little…private?”

Vinyl’s eyes opened wide and you figured she thought your idea was absurd. To your surprise, she ran her hoof down your chest. “I think.” Her lips were so close to yours, yet not enough for you to lean into. “That sounds like a great idea.” Vinyl whispered in your ear before nuzzling you on the neck.

After one last physical exam, one Red persisted you take, you were finally dismissed. Was it odd that the walls, which once made you feel claustrophobic, now felt really welcoming? Well, if you were to consider being trapped here for four months, this place better start feeling like home. Red kept reminding you how lucky you were that the unicorn doctors on duty were so determined to close up the wound on your lung when they first found you outside Erotica. You would never admit it to her, but you were ever grateful to their efforts to save your sorry flank.

Speaking of Erotica, the place was a wreck after the ambulance came and the cops came. Every last one of Frost’s thugs were cuffed or sent to this same hospital to be treated, soon as they left the cops cuffed them. Ace was the one who notified you of Frost’s fall from power. Gold was able to retain Erotica, but felt that running the place was too much trouble. So, he left the place for you and Ace to deal with. Being much too ill to leave the hospital, Ace was the one who dealt with Erotica for the four months.

There were many times when Ace was amazed on how Gold didn’t just blow the place up from growing tired of the stress that came with running Erotica. You figured Ace’s attitude was no place to run a business; he was too carefree to worry over anything. Once Vinyl found out about the change of ownership though, she immediately asked if it was possible for her to DJ at Erotica more often. That or move the operations to Ponyville, where Vinyl had been living in.

To be honest, at first you felt reluctant to move over to Ponyville. However, Vinyl had four months to make her case to you and Ace. After hearing how things out Ponyville were pretty friendly, you and Ace figured the move wouldn’t be so bad after all. Moving from Manehattan, the place you called home for a long time was a big deal. Luckily, Vinyl was willing to break you and Ace into the mold of Ponyville.

Seeing the daylight from the outside was a feeling you totally forgot about, being locked up in a hospital for so long did that to anypony. Ace trot by your side and he looked a little under the weather. Once of is his eyes looked swollen.

“What’s up Ace?” Vinyl asked, even she was concerned by Ace’s lack of enthusiasm.

“Well, I tried to hit on Red.” Ace muttered darkly, gesturing to his swollen eye now. “She didn’t take kindly to that.”

“Didn’t I tell you she was already dating?” You couldn’t help but feel pity on him for trying though.

“That might have slipped through my ears.” Ace replied, looking more upset by the minute.

“Cheer up Ace, there are plenty of other mares out there.” You try to comfort Ace by taking him in a one hoof hug and
gestured to the open sky.

“Yeah, if you’re really moving to Ponyville you’ll find plenty of us around.” Vinyl pointed out.

Ace nodded and it looked a good pep cheered him up. He even had a new spring in his step as he trotted down the road. If you could find love, there was no doubt Ace could find it. Vinyl leaned on you and kissed you on the cheek.

“Mind if we get going? I hate waiting.” Vinyl whispered in your ear.

The Mask I Wear

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You and Ace took a seat on the sofa, which was located smack in the middle of the living room. It was odd to see the house so clean; you usually didn’t have the patience in making the house crystal clean. However, the house wasn’t exactly ‘clean’ due to you actually dusting off the place and such. No, the sofa was actually the only piece of furniture left in the whole entire house now. Ace poked fun at you whenever he removed a picture frame from the wall, due to it actually leaving a dust free outline at its removal. Hopefully Vinyl was better at keeping her place in a less of a mess then you.

Ace let out a groan and pointed at a spot on a wall near the front door. “Man, we forgot a picture.”

Sure enough, Ace was right. You pull yourself up from the comfy sofa and try to remove the picture. Once the picture frame was off the wall, also leaving a dust free outline, you noticed this was no ordinary picture. In fact, it was an old family picture.

“Get over here, Ace.” you call out, not taking your eyes off the picture for one second.

“But I’m tired!” Ace whined like a foal.

You let out an exasperated sigh and took a seat next to Ace and showed him the picture. “There, no need for your lazy flank to walk.”

Ace shot you a bitter look before snatching the picture from your hoofs. His features softened after fully realizing what the picture was about. “I remember this, good times they were.”

The two of you stared at the photo like it was the last time it would ever appear in your lives again. A spunky voice broke Ace and you from your trances.

“Hey there guys! Are you packed yet?” Vinyl asked with a large smile gracing her face.

Ace blinked rapidly and squinted at the sight of Vinyl’s large purple glasses. “What’s up with the glasses, Vinyl?”

Vinyl readjusted her glasses at Ace’s question. “This old thing is something I wear nearly all the time. Also, stop avoiding my question. Did you get packed yet? The train is heading out soon.”

“Believe it or not, I’ve been ready for some time already. I’m waiting for this guy to get ready, for once.” Ace replied with a hearty laugh.

You punched Ace on the shoulder, with no real intent to hurt him. “Shut it you. I’m ready, but we been delayed due to this taking us down memory lane.” you hold out the family picture and Vinyl takes it.

“How long ago was this taken?” Vinyl let the question slip her lips.

Ace exchanged a thoughtful look with you and shrugged. “I can’t say for sure. The picture can’t be that old since it isn’t black and white.”

“I’m not sure that helps much.” Vinyl mutters thoughtfully.

“Well, I’ll be meeting you two at the station. I’ve got to fetch my bags.” Ace announced and left through the front door.

“Ace isn’t really related to you, is he?” Vinyl suddenly asked once Ace had been gone for a few minutes.

You couldn't keep the surprise from your face once she pieced that together. “You’re right, he is adopted.”

Vinyl sits next to you and magically floats the family picture for the both of you to see. “Does he know?”

You bury your face in you hooves and your answer gets a little muffled due to this. “No, he doesn’t.”

Vinyl looked at you in disbelief. “Ace is some-what mature. I think he can handle it.”

“Maybe you’re right, Vinyl. It’s just that, we accepted him in the family like he was one of our own.” You reply.

“Did he ever grow suspicious?” Vinyl asked.

You smile faintly. “Oh yes, a few kids back in school would point out that me and Ace looked absolutely nothing alike. Ace would joke around and say he was the one who inherited the good looks while I got what was ever left.”

Vinyl leaned in closer to you, her whisper reaching your ears just barely. “I beg to differ.”

The family photo offered another interesting detail. Ace had acquired his cutie mark, the ace of spades, long before you had one yourself. Vinyl seemed to take notice of this too, she was analyzing the photo more deliberately now.

“True to his name, he was, and still is, a card shark like no other.” You explain.

“How did he get his cutie mark at such a young age?” Vinyl asked in disbelief.
Your smile unhinges slightly as you remember Ace’s story on his cutie mark. “He was trained by his dad to gamble other ponies out of their bits. Scary thing was that he was good at what he did. No pony in the right in mind would expect a child to be able to beat you out of everything you owned.”

Vinyl looked slightly confused and alarmed by this news. “Did his dad make him cheat or something? Why was he even doing that anyway?”

“Let’s leave it that Ace’s parents weren’t the best role models for him. No, Ace was all talent when it came to gambling. He
might look lazy and relaxed, but when the stakes are on he’ll be a whole different stallion.” As you finished speaking, you finally started to appreciate how Ace turned out to be now.

“Do Ace’s parents know that he’s moving to Ponyville?” Vinyl asked abruptly.

You let out a humorless chuckle. “No, they haven’t asked for him not even once since my parents took him in. Far as they know, Ace could be sipping tea in Canterlot with Celestia and Luna.”

Vinyl chuckled at the very thought of your idea. “Ace would probably find a way to get Celestia to bet her tiara against him!” she exclaimed while fighting back giggles.

All of Vinyl’s laughing was starting to get contagious for you. Soon enough, you joined in on the laughter and it showed no sign of stopping any time soon. You clamped your hooves over your mouth to suppress anymore giggles. Once you finally regained some composure, you noticed that Vinyl had stopped laughing long ago and stared at you fixedly for some time now. All her staring gave you unsettling feeling. Her glasses hid her eyes, so trying to gather how she was looking at you was out of the question. However, this didn’t stop her giving you a teasing smile and pressing ever closer to you.

“Uh, maybe it’s time we meet up with Ace at the station.” you suggest sheepishly.

Vinyl leans so close to you at this point that her hot breath was pressing against your face. “Ace can wait. Besides, the train won’t come until the afternoon.”

“Ah, you two finally came! I thought I was going to make the trip alone!” Ace cheerfully called out to you and Vinyl.

It was a good thing that Vinyl’s mane was usually wild, it helped cover up why you two were so late. Vinyl was buying the tickets at a booth when Ace pulled you aside. He was wearing a silly smile which confused you greatly.

“What’s so funny?” you demand impatiently.

“I know what you did.” Ace whispered mischievously.

“I don’t get what you’re talking about, Ace.” you reply nervously.

“Oh yes you do, Proof. By the way, be a little more careful next time. Her glasses cracked and she's walking a little funny.” Ace pointed out teasingly.

You smack your hoof against your face once you remember Vinyl’s glasses did fall off the coach at some point.

“Don’t worry, I’ll stay quiet.” Ace managed to say while laughing at your dismay. “You’re lucky to have the chance to enjoy something like her, Proof.”

“Ha, no need to tell me that, Ace.”

Ace’s smile died off when you were staring at Vinyl dreamily. Seeing Ace upset never sat well with you over the years and you were determined to figure out the cause. “Alright, what’s up with the long face, Ace?”

“I’m jealous of you.” Ace admitted.

This caught you off guard, Ace was always happy about the life he given himself. “That was never the case before.” As you reply, you realized Ace was speaking of the relationship you had with Vinyl.

“Exactly, but now you got Vinyl. Seeing you two so happy makes me feel a little…empty.” Ace explained.

Empty. How odd how you felt like Ace a few months ago. Pain killers filled the void in your heart while Ace was hiding behind a mask of a smile to convince others that everything was fine. In a way, you envied how Ace was able to handle his feelings. Red never talked to Ace again after you two left the hospital a while back. Was that the last straw for him?

You give Ace a comforting one armed hug and gestured to the train heading to Ponyville. “Come on, Ace, like I said before, there are a lot of mares in Ponyville for you to try your luck with. You never know until you try!”

“You sound like the guy from the lottery commercials.” Ace deadpanned.

“What’s up guys?” Vinyl interjected.

Ace looked relieved at the chance of a change in topic. “Not much. Are those the tickets?”

“Excellent! Let’s get our bags on the train and get out of here!” Ace exclaimed, already dragging his bag inside the train.

Vinyl let out a soft giggle at Ace’s enthusiasm. “Isn’t he excited?”

“I guess so.”

You couldn’t help but think Ace wasn’t willing to look at the two of you together at the moment. It was a shame really, not only had you been in his position, but you got your way out of it. Why couldn’t Ace? Surely he was much less of a hassle to deal with then you were. Or maybe it’s just because Ace has been chasing after the wrong mares?

Ace was hanging out in a compartment in the train, pressing his face against the glass window. The longing and lonely look in his eyes through the reflection the in mirror ate at your heart. His mood returned to its happy old self when he noticed you and Vinyl were settling yourselves in the room. Ace made no movements while the train raced across the tracks to Ponyville. Vinyl tried to make small talk, but the ever pressing gloom coming off Ace was too much.

“Okay, what’s up with you, Ace? This isn’t like you!” Vinyl finally snapped impatiently.

Ace made no motion to respond.

Vinyl sighed with growing impatience. “You can’t ignore me forever, Ace. You’re stuck in this room with us for the next few hours!”

Again, Ace remained still and you really started to wish that Vinyl what just drop it.

“You’re being such a baby, Ace!” Vinyl’s horn glowed blue and Ace’s head snapped around to look directly at you two.

The look on his face made a gasp escape from Vinyl’s lips and earned a sad sigh from you. Tears stained his face and his eyes were bloodshot. In all honestly, he looked like a mess.

“I feel empty,” Ace whispered gently.

Vinyl moved to Ace’s side and took off her glasses, putting it over his eyes instead. The purple lenses blocked Ace’s bloodshot eyes and he looked utterly floored by Vinyl’s kind gesture. Ace was struggling to express his gratitude and Vinyl just placed a hoof over his mouth and gestured him not to speak, which he obeyed. Giving Ace one last approving nod, Vinyl moved back to your side and leaned against you for a nap. Your appreciation towards Vinyl probably just doubled in the last few minutes.