Light streamed into the room from a crack in the curtains, the grey shades almost white with the glow of the majestic morning sun. Its gentle, gilded touch ran across a polished dresser of oak and the sole framed photograph resting upon it. Four earth ponies stood before a velvet curtain, two mares who wore pink bow ties and two stallions, each beside an instrument. A mare with a black mane stood in the center of the picture with a stoic look on her face, flanked by a brown stallion who wore a polite smile on his. To her right was another mare with a leg wrapped along her shoulder and a large grin on her blue muzzle. In the back, a purple stallion smiled shyly behind the energetic mare.
What the light did not touch, however, was the myriad of other furniture and mementos lying in neat, methodical parts of the room. The most noticeable of which was a large instrument case as tall as the average pony was long. What appeared to be a complicated staff rested beside it, a collapsed music stand. Pictures of famous composers lined the walls, each as level and precise as a painting in a museum.
Occasionally, a whisper of morning wind would blow through the open window, rustling the curtains. Voices of mares and stallions starting their day would carry on the wind's breath, sighing over the gentle sound of breathing and the tick of a bedside clock. It was almost quarter past eight in the morning, and everything was calm.
A tangle of blankets laid in a heap on top of the grey mare from the picture. Her strictly neat nature faced rebellion from her subconscious, causing the state of disarray as one flank lay exposed to the open air, the ironic cutie mark of a treble clef glaring at the ceiling. Her mane was not exempt from her nightly tossing and turning either, as the normally neat waves of ebony lay askew like a dark halo smashed by a prism.
"Mmm..." the mare quietly mumbled, in the midst of a dream. She and her ensemble were standing upon the stage dressed in their best; ready to perform for the discriminating audience of upper class Manehatten. The lights of the Pegasus Theater blazed above them, making her squint as she tried to make out the audience of phantom ponies. Octavia always preferred an audience she could see, but it was not very important, so she focused on the sheet music in front of her.
As the ensemble around her stirred to life, Octavia took up the bow in her hoof and gently played along with the rest. Any sounds from the outside world beyond were drowned out by the wonderful, soothing musical piece flowing around her like a gentle stream. Never had she heard her comrades in better form than that night, for they all knew this was their big chance to perform in more places after the one infamous Grand Galloping Gala.
Thunderous applause filled her ears as the last note died in the midst of the gathered audience. A few of them stood, pounding their hooves upon the floor as others sat quietly and clapped along. Certainly, it was not a full standing ovation, but she bowed with her ensemble nonetheless, for it was better than she had expected at any rate. But then, bundles of roses rained down upon the performers, floating down gently. One was almost in her grasp before the fire alarm went off, scaring ponies away.
Octavia mumbled, ripped from her dream as her alarm decided to intervene at one of the worst possible moments. A grey hoof emerged from the bundle of blankets, tapping on the bedside table, searching. The feeling of cold metal upon her leg meant a swift end to the din soon after, the mare pulling herself up in bed to clear her eyes of sleep with the back of a hoof.
Blurry eyes surveyed her room to find nothing noticeably out of place, more a habit now than anything else. The last time something obvious had been done to her room, the party responsible learned never to mess with her stuff again, and it seemed to have stuck. She breathed a sigh of relief and rolled out of the bed, lightly thudding on the floor as her weight suddenly made contact.
Unlike other ponies, she was a thorough morning mare, although it took her a little bit of time to get going. Ignoring the taste of the brass doorknob in her mouth, the sleepy pony opened the door out into the hall. A glint of sunlight made her stop just before her hoof stepped on a mostly empty bottle of whiskey lying haphazardly upon the floor. Already, she could feel her blood pressure begin to rise from the carelessness of her roommate.
That oafish mare said she would pick up after herself! Octavia cursed under her breath and picked the bottle up, knowing between then and the time she would finish her shower that she would forget about it. The bottle clinked against another empty one left on the side table, making her sigh in annoyance. Taking a deep breath to calm down, the grey pony turned around and strode down the hall, past the vexing filly's door.
Spent glow rings, beaded necklaces from Mare de Gras and pictures of famous ponies in varying degrees of inebriation plastered her door. She did not cast a second glance upon the portal into The Pit. She had long since learned not to be curious about what manner of pestilence or filth resided beyond the door, but if it was anything like how she kept the rest of the apartment, well... she shuddered at the mere thought.
Locking the bathroom door behind her, she sighed in relief as she saw no signs of damage or mess. A small smile grew upon her face as she trotted over to the vanity mirror above the bathroom sink. Opening the cabinet door, she braced herself for the worst, but found her toothbrush untouched, the disposable cup sitting on top: not a hair out of place. Is this what my life has become? she thought solemnly as she started to brush her teeth. Is it really a surprise to wake up and not find a random pony or mess in my bathroom? ...I am out of here once I start making enough bits. Similar thoughts occurred to Octavia at least once a week.
Happy with her smile for the morning, the mare trotted over towards the tub, finding it curious that the curtains for the shower were drawn. Well, there goes the clean bathroom. Over the last year or so she had lived in the apartment, she had woken up to find all manner of things asleep or otherwise in the bathtub, almost like it were a second guest room. On one occasion, she had found a cow, of all people, asleep in it! Not that she was not welcome (she was quite polite), but considering that bovines were not known to fit through pony doors, it was quite the mystery to all present how she had managed to get inside in the first place.
Pulling the curtains aside, she let go of a breath she did not know she was holding when she found that the tub was completely empty. Maybe she was finally learning that if an acquaintance of hers needed a place to sleep for the night, they could share her room? A blush quickly developed on Octavia's face, and she shook her head to forget what she had just thought.
Stepping inside, she stopped cold as she got a look at the drain of the tub. She should have been desensitized to such things by then, but the sight of it still made her skin crawl. Blocking off the drain was a tangled mess of hair, some white, but mostly two shade of blue creating a clog the likes of which she had never dreamt possible before moving in. She gritted her teeth and tried to hold it back, but she failed and shouted at the top of her lungs. "Vinyl Scratch!!"
Octavia stormed out of the bathroom and back into the hall, seething with clenched teeth at the insensitivity of her roommate. It took all of her restraint to stop from backing against her door and bucking it in to give the demented unicorn a piece of her mind (and possibly a hoof to the face). Instead, she knocked on her door with her front leg, being as loud and insistent as possible to make the undoubtedly hung over mare as miserable as possible.
"Vinyl! Open this door right now!" she screeched as she stomped her front hooves into the door repeatedly. "What have I told you about combing in the shower, you miscreant!? You are getting out here right now to clean up after yourself! Celestia be damned if I have to do it again! Be quick about it too: unlike some ponies here, I actually work during the day!"
A loud thud and clatter answered her indignant calls before the door itself swung open, making the earth pony back up, lest she be hit by it. As usual, a white cloth was draped over the door on the other side, blocking the contents of her room from view upon Octavia's insistence. Within a second, the white unicorn stuck her head out from behind the curtain. "Wuzzat, Tavi?" she yawned.
"I said that you should clean that damnable clog in the shower before I have to be up to work. Also, I asked you to clean up the kitchen when you got home, but I can see from here that you did not do it!"
Vinyl stared at her, magenta eyes blurry and unfocused, as if she were standing there passively. Octavia did a double-take at the sight since it was very rare to see the infamous 'DJ P0N-3' without her 'trademarked' magenta sunglasses on. "Sorry, but I got in kind of late last night. And drunk." She smiled and rubbed the back of her head, closing her eyes. "It was a 'damned if I do, bucked if I don't' choice since I know I would have messed up and gotten yelled at anyway, so I just didn't bother!"
The urge to put her hoof upon her face was overwhelming. "How many times do I have to say trying and failing is better than doing buck all!?"
The unicorn's face dropped in shock. "Octavia! You swore! I'm so shocked that I might just faint!" she gasped dramatically, bringing a hoof to her forehead mockingly. However, her roommate was not amused. Instead, she stood there, tapping her hoof expectantly, glaring at her in a mixture of anger and frustration as the disk jockey grinned awkwardly. "Right: shower. Check!" she conceded, shutting the door and curtain behind her with a glow of red magic before she trotted down to the door at the end of the hall.
Octavia sighed right before the bathroom door shut. Getting that pony to do anything other than play video games or her loud music was like trying to give a cat a bath. Then again, she is beyond saving, what with her insanity and all, she thought as she made her way towards the kitchen to get started on her breakfast. All the while, she kept her ears focused on the bathroom to make sure it at least sounded like she was keeping her promise.
Satisfied by the soft murmur of cursing, Octavia refocused her attention on where she was going as she nearly tripped over a large bag. "For a mare who values her records so much, it's a wonder why she just tosses the bag onto the floor where anypony could trip on them," she pondered quietly to herself. Then again, asking that question was like asking why Celestia and Luna let bad things happen to good ponies... like having her live with Vinyl for as long as she had.
Octavia sighed as she took a close look at the kitchen situation. Pot and pans littered the sink like a chrome-plated forest as the handles pointed out in all directions. Various bags of snacks and unwashed glasses sat on the counter, some of them still harbouring a tiny puddle of orange juice from yesterday's breakfast and beyond. Plates sat haphazardly on top of each other, a couple bearing food leftover from other meals past, creating a faint stench of decay and mildew.
However, even that was not the worst part. What really disturbed Octavia most of all was the fact that none of this, not even the massive clog in the bathtub drain, surprised or disgusted her anymore! A growing fear spread across her mind that one day she would wake to a mess in her own bedroom and be nonchalant about it! She shuddered at the idea and decided to focus on cleaning the kitchen as best as she could.
Moving aside some dishes into the sink to get washed, the earth pony began to prepare a modest breakfast of cereal, toast and apple juice. However, the blanket of sleep still clung to her mind, having been denied her refreshing morning shower: her equivalent of the gallons of coffee a certain unicorn guzzled like water.
The clock on the wall ticked the seconds by as the grey mare ate, serving as a constant reminder that she needed to be out the door and halfway across Canterlot in order to get to her ensemble's show in time. She had already spent half an hour dealing with Scratch and the various messes that she left behind, meaning that she would not have time to enjoy her shower since she needed to be there by nine thirty.
Octavia walked over to the table with her plate clenched in her teeth and growled, mostly at herself for not remembering that the table was in as bad a shape as the kitchen. She gently set her bowl and plate in one of the few clear spots on the table before grasping several different sections of newspaper within a front leg. Tactically throwing them squarely onto Vinyl's seat, she let out a sigh of self-satisfaction before sitting down on her own seat.
Her eyes shot wide open at the muffled sound of breaking beneath her posterior. It almost sounded like glass and for a split second, her mind entertained nightmare scenarios of the embarrassing task of hobbling to the hospital to get shards of a vodka bottle extracted from her flank. However, there was no flash of pain as the quick shot of adrenaline quickly faded from her system. She took a chance and stood up to survey the damage, only to gasp in shock.
Lying upon the hard wooden surface were the broken remains of Vinyl Scratch's favourite sunglasses. Magenta shards of glass glittered in the morning light, dazzling like frozen drops of rain next to the thick, black frame. Well, at least it is just the lenses, Octavia thought as she gingerly picked up the broken shades with her hooves amongst the field of splintered glass.
"There seems to be minimal damage to the frames; maybe just slightly bent" she spoke to herself. "It's not like she can't get them fitted for new lenses or anythi-"
"HEY TAVI!" A shout echoed like cannon fire through the apartment, startling the half-awake mare, disguising the sound of a crack between her hooves. "I fixed that clog for ya! Go and have that shower now, if you still want." Tentatively, she looked down at what she held before her, and groaned in frustration. Not only were the lenses smashed to smithereens, but now the frames were shattered beyond all hope of repair.
"I just started. Give me a minute or two!" she called back. Trotting over to the cupboard, she grabbed her dustbin and broom and swept up the remains of the glasses and threw them unceremoniously into the garbage. Wait a moment, she pondered as she looked at the calendar. Isn't it garbage collection day today? Without wasting a moment's hesitation, she picked the bag out of the bin and tied it tightly before depositing the green bag down the garbage chute.
"At this rate, I am never going to get there on time!" The tidy mare trotted back over to the table and sat, making sure it was free of any shattered glass before sitting down again. She hungrily wolfed down her breakfast since she did not like it when the cereal became soggy. All the while, her mind wandered to how her roommate would react to the loss of her favourite shades.
Knowing Vinyl, she'd probably get into a bit of a hissy fit about Octavia touching her stuff and probably not talk to her for a day or so, which she would have no problem with. Then, after telling her how it had happened, the disk jockey would recognize that they were, in fact, gaudy and tacky before forgiving her in her typical 'all is forgiven' hug: a hug Octavia nicknamed 'The Bone Crusher.' Of course, Vinyl did know that she did not like the shades in the first place, so it might take a little bit longer. Either way, it was a small issue since she destroyed a lot of the earth pony's property herself.
Having scheduled the next few days in her mind, Octavia finished her breakfast, cleaned up after herself and trotted back into the bathroom for a quick shower. Stepping into the tub, she was relieved to find the offending clog was gone and that the drain was utterly spotless. She drew the curtains shut and turned on the water just as the sound of another door opened and shut, but she paid it no attention.
After a swift yet thorough shower, she stepped out of the bathroom, steam cascading behind her as it met the cooler air. She ignored the flurry of activity coming from the living room and quietly stepped into her bedroom, hoping to delay the moment where she would have to tell her as long as possible. However, in the middle of brushing her mane, she became disconcerted by the sound of squealing wood on wood and sighed. "I suppose it is time to face the music."
Coming out of her bedroom fully prepared for her day had not prepared her for what she was seeing. "VINYL!" She shouted over the grunts of frustration coming from the unicorn. "What in Celestia's name are you DOING!?" The couch lay on its back, spilling pillows and cushions. Drawers were open and their contents were strewn about like a localized tornado had hit the apartment: a tornado named Vinyl Scratch.
"I'm looking for my shades, Tavi!" she panted as she peeked inside a kitchen cabinet. "Can you please help me find them? I can't be DJ P0N-3 without the shades! It completes the whole look!"
"What look? That you are a lunatic drunkard whose fashion sense is stuck in limbo between three decades?" Octavia replied with a snap.
"Hey! I told you that I have a genetic predisposition to alcohol tolerance! Have I ever told you about my great-uncle Giuseppe?"
"About a hundred times; and as much as I appreciate a tale of a drunken pony saving themselves in the bush by sodomizing a lion, I don't really CARE!" Naturally, after hearing about such 'shenanigans,' Octavia had made a mental note that she never EVER wanted to meet any members of her family.
"That's great, but it still doesn't help me find them," she cried out, banging her head against the kitchen cabinet.
"I... might know what happened to them," she confessed.
Vinyl was upon her faster than a Canterlot noble on a debutante of an influential family. There was a shadow of tears in her eyes, glimmering with hope. It was rare to see her so expressive, since she always kept her eyes hidden behind those irritating shades. "Really!?" she cried desperately. "Please, tell me where they are!"
"Well... Keep in mind that it is all your fault since I did not see them until it was too late, but they're in the garbage. I accidentally sat on them and they were beyond repair." Vinyl's face fell like a stack of bricks as soon as the word 'garbage' came out of the other pony's mouth. It only fell further with every second after, twisting into an unseen torrent of agony and sorrow. Everything remained quiet as it slowly dawned upon the unicorn just what, exactly, had happened.
"You... you threw them out!?" she muttered quietly, eyes widened as if she were just now seeing Octavia for the first time in her life. She backed away slowly from the earth pony until her rump hit the breakfast table. "How... How could you? I'd... I would never do something like... like throw out your bow, even if it WAS ruined! I... Octavia... You..." Tears welled up in her eyes as she spoke.
Octavia found herself stymied by the spectacle in front of her. She had only known Vinyl Scratch to be smooth, even-tempered, collected and even mirthful in the face of sheer danger or civility. Yet here she was, standing in front of her with tears spilling from her eyes over the loss of a piece of eyewear. "Vinyl, they're only sunglasses. You do not need to get so worked up. I'm sorry if I crossed a line by throwing something of yours out, but what is done is done."
"Only... They're ONLY sunglasses!?" A look of greater hurt played across her face before becoming enveloped in anger. "Wh-What do you know about ANYTHING, Octavia!? ONLY SUNGLASSES!? Is your bucking cello or double bass or whatever the SORREL HELLS you call it JUST a... whatever in Tartarus it is!? NO! YOU would be pissed if I broke it, even by accident, so why can't I feel the same for my SUNGLASSES!"
"Uh... because they are not essential to your livelihood?" she took a stab in the dark, taking a subconscious step back from the raving mare. Only once had Octavia seen the DJ angry, but she had not been the target. Magenta eyes burned with fury as she bared her teeth, taking a wide stance in a way that intimidated her, as if the unicorn were going to charge and try to gore her.
"Damn you, Octavia. Just, DAMN YOU!" the unicorn screeched as the door leading out of the apartment became bathed in a glow of red, nearly flying off of its hinges. She bolted, out the door and down the stairs before her roommate could be afforded even a second to think. Sure, the cellist knew she would be upset, but this? Having had a single thought, she followed the crazed mare in hot pursuit without pausing for a second one.
"Vinyl!" she cried out as she ran down the stairs as fast as she dared. Her heart thumped in her chest as she tried to stop herself from falling and breaking her neck. Doors opened in front of her as curious and sleepy ponies emerged from their rooms to find the source of all the commotion, but she ignored them so they passed as nothing more than blurs on the edge of her vision.
A sliver of blue whipped around the end of a flight of stairs, cementing her determination as Octavia knew she was, somehow, catching up to her. She tried calling out again, but her pleas fell on deaf ears. She probably can't hear me because all of that loud music finally damaged her hearing, she thought. Down another flight of stairs, she could make out the entirety of her two-tone blue tail and even half of her cutie mark before it disappeared from sight.
Having traveled up and down the stairs almost every day for over a year, Octavia knew they were nearing the final bend and put in one last burst of speed. However, she had forgotten the one stair at the top was just a little taller than the others. Her heart fell out of her chest as her hoof slipped on the smooth wood, causing her to shriek in terror as she tripped down the rest of the stairs.
She tumbled down, expecting a sharp impact with the floor and maybe a broken bone or two. She closed her eyes so that she would not have to see the impact. However, instead of hard wood, she impacted something far softer which squealed in shock from the sudden strike. Opening her eyes, Octavia found herself buried muzzle-first in a soft white coat, knowing in an instant that she had caught up, but not in quite the way she expected.
"What are you doing!?" the white unicorn cried. "GET OFF!" Before she could object, the white mare flank-checked her, bouncing the other pony off of her with a surprising amount of force. As Octavia pushed herself up to resume the chase, she found the DJ standing still, body facing towards a door.
"What do you two think you are doing!?" shouted the voice of a mare standing in the doorway. A scowl played across her face as she regarded the troublemaker and her roommate, horn glimmering with blue magic. Her red mane lay tangled and messy on her head, bronze coat sticking out in patches, undoubtedly having been asleep just moments before. The most distinguishing feature about her, however, had to be her artificial front legs which were silver. "Do you have any idea what time it is!? Explain yourselves."
"It's none of your business, old mare!" the younger unicorn snapped.
"I-I'm sorry, Mrs. Pretty Penny," Octavia spoke for her. "I accidentally broke her sunglasses this morning and then threw them out because there was no way they could be fixed."
"LIAR! You've always HATED the DJ P0N-3 look! I would bet a thousand bits that you broke them on purpose!" Without warning, the mare exploded towards the door, only to be stopped cold by a blue barrier that had been conjured by the other mare. "Let me out!" she shouted at the spellcaster. "I have to go and save my shades!"
"No. Not after you've been so RUDE to me. If you were one of my foals, I'd have bucked your flank from here to Port Noble!" The landlady's eyes remained focused on Vinyl's, making the angry unicorn back down, but only a little bit. "You have to learn that other ponies live in this building and that they are entitled to their peace and qui-"
"Blah, blah, blah, I know, you miserable old mule," she shot back. Before either of the more sensible mares could tell her to stop, the DJ pulled out a spent glowstick hidden under her mane and threw it at the owner of the building. Having broken her concentration, she sprinted out the door and into the street.
"Vinyl!" Octavia called. "I'm so sorry, Mrs. Penny," she apologized before she too bolted out of the door, after her wayward friend. Looking both ways down the street, she saw the white unicorn giving chase to a cart filled with black plastic garbage bags, pleading the ponies pulling it to stop. The grey mare ran after her, earth pony endurance allowing her to slowly catch up to the tiring unicorn.
"Please, STOP!" the DJ cried with uncharacteristic desperation. Yet, the ponies ahead either did not hear her, or did not care as the cart slowly lifted off the ground and took to the sky, taking with it her hopes of ever getting them back. She ground to a halt, dazed as she followed the cart with her eyes before it vanished over the canopy of roofs and towers of Canterlot.
Octavia slowed to a trot when she saw her roommate stop and hunch over as soon as it became apparent that it was over. "Vinyl?" she spoke softly as she approached. "I am sorry I threw them out, but you would have agreed with me if you saw the state they were in. There are other pairs of shades, even if they aren't quite the same. I think you're making a big fuss over nothing."
Out of all the sounds she expected to hear, never in a million years would she have expected to hear the gentle sobs that shook the other mare's body. Octavia's jaw dropped despite herself. She had seen Vinyl angry, happy, intoxicated, passed out, and various shades of emotion in between, but never had she seen her upset. "Are you okay?" she spoke softly and placed a hoof on her shoulder.
The DJ looked back at her, Magenta eyes puffy and reddened as tears streamed down her face. "D-Do I LOOK okay to you, dipshit?" she cried, "G-get your filthy hoof off of me!" Octavia's eyes widened as she forcefully had her hoof slapped off of the other mare's shoulder. "You... you've ruined my life! They weren't JUST shades you... YOU!"
The grey mare stepped back as Vinyl rounded on her, the tears continuing to flow from her eyes with anger and unknown sorrow wrapped into one dangerous cocktail. "YOU DON'T EVEN CARE!" she screamed, drawing attention from other ponies on the street. "DON'T YOU PRETEND TO BE SORRY! THEY WERE JUST A PAIR OF STUPID SUNGLASSES TO YOU! I HATE YOU, OCTAVIA!" The DJ continued to close in on the cellist, making her back up in fright.
"I... I'm sorry, Vinyl! Really! If you had just TOLD me they meant that much to you, I would have-"
"DON'T FUCKING LIE TO ME!!" Vinyl screamed with all of her might, making her ears ring as if she had yelled through a loudspeaker. The offended unicorn wheeled around on the spot. Before she could say or do anything, her vision was filled by white and the sensation of falling before her back hit the paved streets. The sounds of sobbing and galloping hooves filled the air, both slowly growing quiet.
Octavia sat upright, head wheeling as it slowly dawned on her that she had just been bucked in the face. Ponies who had been watching were coming forward to make sure that she was not in need of medical attention. She pushed herself back onto her hooves and assured everypony that she was fine. It was Vinyl, however, that she was worried about, but the DJ was long gone.