Chapter Nine
Huerta Memorial Hospital, Citadel

Vinyl Scratch woke to unfamiliarity. Reality crashed down upon her, the harsh sounds of a heart monitor snapping at her ears. Her heart started racing, and her breath came in deep gasping gulps, heavy pants as her unseeing eyes darted around the room, struggling to take in the completely unfamiliar surroundings.

It was a dream. Even as she panicked, trying her best not to give them cause to come and beat her, Vinyl could feel the cruel tragedy of her own thoughts weighing heavily upon her. It was all just a dream. Tavi...

Looking around the room, she quickly came to the realization that she had never seen it before. Had she been sold to another master? Maybe they would be nicer. That hopeful thought was quickly erased by the depth of the realization. Her heart sunk, and she tried her best to draw herself into a tight ball.

Even as her breathing threatened to send her back into unconsciousness, Vinyl caught a flash of grey just in the corner of her eye. Gathering her courage together enough to look, she found that she couldn't breath. Octavia. It was the most beautiful sight that she had ever seen. Octavia was curled up on a strange looking chair, her head resting just on the edge of the bed, fast asleep, deep bags under her eyes. Time passed without meaning as Vinyl stared at her. She didn't notice as her heart calmed and her breathing went back to normal.

It wasn't a dream... It took Vinyl a long time to process that thought. It felt like a dream, maybe it was, but she never wanted to wake up if it was. If Tavi was there, everything was safe. She was safe. No more pain. No more hurting. I'm safe...

Laying back in her bed, Vinyl winced in pain as she moved wrong. She took a moment to study the room, stopping when she saw the window. The sight beyond was completely unfamiliar too her, indescribable in its perfection.

A thick lake with towering fountains, soft green gardens, and glistening white buildings. It was a far cry from the shambling hovels and ornate palaces of Ujon, the wealthiest cities of the Batarian colony world Camala. Whatever it was that she was seeing through the window, it had a subtle grace and dignity that hinted at a deeper, stronger culture that had no need to showcase its wealth and power.

The hiss of a door startled Vinyl, who nearly fell out of her bed as she reared back in surprise with a silent cry of fear. Falling back against the bed, Octavia woke at the movement, who sat up, startled. She instantly caught eyes with Vinyl, only glancing behind her to see Doctor Stable standing in the doorway. Turning back to Vinyl, she smiled encouragingly at her.

"It's alright, Vinyl," Octavia said softly. "It's just Doctor Stable. He's been taking care of you."

She reached out and placed a hoof on Vinyl's shoulder, only to watch in confusion as Vinyl pulled herself away, rearing back away from the contact as she tried to leap out of the bed, only managing to tangle herself in her covers. She cried out, the blankets restraining her as she fell into a deeper panic, her eyes going wide as she started to hyperventilate. "Get off! Get away from me!"

Octavia looked back at Doctor Stable in concern as Vinyl started sobbing in panic and fear, desperately trying to free herself from her blankets. "Doctor? What's going on?"

"A panic attack, by the looks of it," Doctor Stable said, careful to keep his voice quiet. He didn't want to give Vinyl any further reason to fear. "Be careful. It's instinctual. Let her know that she's safe."

"The blanket!" Octavia noticed, seeing Vinyl's further panic as she struggled with the blanket. Reaching forward, she pulled it off of her. "It's okay! You're safe. You're free, Vinyl, don't worry."

Catching sight of her missing leg, Vinyl fell still, all signs of fight leaving her as quickly as it had come. She stared lifelessly down at the stump, only blinking occasionally, her breathing slow and even. She ignored Octavia and Doctor Stable completely, drawing completely in on herself.

"Vinyl?" Octavia asked softly, concerned.

"She's in shock," Doctor Stable said, stepping forward slowly. He sighed, biting his lip. "I was afraid of this. I wanted to ease her into her new situation." He gave a shrug, looking over the monitors by Vinyl's bed, standing next to Octavia. He quickly typed an order into the machine for her IV. "Well, there's nothing for it now. Talk to her. I'm going to inject her with a mild sedative. It should keep her calm for this... conversation."

Almost instantly, the new solution was added and Vinyl began to relax against the bed. Tears started to fall down her cheeks, matting her fur as she kept staring at her leg. "Tavi... my leg. Where's my leg?" She whimpered.

Octavia reached forward slowly, making sure that Vinyl could see everything she was doing, and gently caressed her cheek. The smaller mare leaned into the musicians touch, seeking any form of comfort.

"It had to be amputated, Vinyl," Octavia spoke softly.

"When you were brought in by C-Sec, your leg had suffered traumatic injuries that were threatening your survival," Doctor Stable said. Whether Vinyl actually heard what he said, they would never know. She just stared.

"My leg..." She whispered out.

"That's not the only thing," Doctor Stable said, sighing.

"Doctor!" Octavia cried.

Doctor Stable held up a hoof, quieting Octavia. He took a deep breath. "She needs to know. There isn't ever really a good time for this." He looked at Octavia, making sure that she understood. Vinyl was silent the entire time.

With a frown, Doctor Stable cleared his throat. "Vinyl, please look at me," he said calmly.

Vinyl turned her head, looking at him with glassy eyes, her face expressionless.

"Vinyl, your leg was not the only thing that we had to amputate," Doctor Stable said.

Vinyl simply grunted in response.

"Your horn had one of the most advanced cases of Scilian Rot that I have ever seen." He continued on, not wanting to draw this out any longer than he had to. "We had to take it off."

"I am so, so sorry, Vinyl," Octavia murmured gently, holding out her forelegs in an invitation for Vinyl.

Even drugged, Vinyl's emotions struggled to get the better of her and her tears started to fall harder. She leaned into Octavia's embrace, letting the grey mare embrace her tightly.

"We can get through this together, Vinyl." Octavia reassured her.

"We already measured you to fit you for a prosthetic," Doctor Stable said quietly. "You'll be able to walk like you never lost it in the first place."

Vinyl just whimpered, pulling herself closer to her wife. Octavia shot a meaningful look at Doctor Stable.

"I'll..." He frowned, nodding at Octavia. "I'll leave you two alone."

Turning, Doctor Stable left the room. The door slid shut behind him, leaving Octavia and Vinyl alone.

The two mares stayed hugging together for what like an eternity. Time passed, but the artificial lighting outside the window in the Presidium didn't mark that passing. It was a constantly midday, though Vinyl had no way of knowing that.

"I don't know who I am anymore," Vinyl whispered, the first to break the silence.

"You're Vinyl Scratch." Octavia ran a hoof gently along Vinyl's barrel. "My wife."

"I can't think. There are holes... just running through my mind." Vinyl shook her head, clenching her eyes shut. She ignored the tears. "I don't want to think anymore. Turn off the thoughts. Take away the pain. My fault. All my fault."

"No, Vinyl." Octavia wanted to sob at her wife's pain, to take it all away, but there was nothing she could do but hold her, listening to her rambling. "No, Vinyl. It's not your fault."

"Tired." Vinyl whimpered. "Just want to rest."

"I will keep watch over you, Vinyl." Octavia pulled Vinyl's head softly against her shoulder. "Sleep. Everything will be alright."

"No," Vinyl whispered, settling in. "It won't."


Octavia woke to the sound of the door hissing open, her foreleg numb from Vinyl's weight. Looking up, she found Elyra smiling at her. Blinking away the sleep in her eyes, Octavia glanced over at the clock to find that is was three in the afternoon.

"Mrs. Melody," Elyra whispered, picking a chair up and placing it gently next to the bed.

"Hello, Elyra." Octavia greeted quietly, meaningfully glancing down at Vinyl. The message was clear to the Asari. Don't wake her.

"Do you have a moment to talk?" Elyra asked.

"I do." Octavia nodded, careful that she made no sudden movements, not wanting to wake Vinyl.

"How are you doing?" Elyra asked.

"I am fine," Octavia said with a small nod. "It is Vinyl that I am worried about."

"Vinyl will be taken care of," Elyra said with a gentle smile. "You need to remember to take care of yourself as well. If you aren't healthy, what good will you be to her?"

Octavia looked guiltily down at the floor. "I..."

Elyra reached over the bed, placing a hand carefully on Octavia's hoof. "It's alright. I can see how much you care for her. Just remember, you're important too."

Octavia nodded, looking down at Vinyl. She noted how peaceful she looked asleep.

"She's beautiful," Elyra said, drawing Octavia's attention back to her. "How did the two of you meet?"

"We grew up next to each other in Canterlot," Octavia said. She continued on at Elyra's insistent nod. "I thought she was so weird. She loved music... well, I say music, but really she was happy with anything loud and dangerous. She was always so happy, and I loved that about her. We started dating in highschool..." She trailed off, laughing softly.

"What's so funny?" Elyra asked curiously.

"Just a memory," Octavia said.

"Oh?" Elyra leaned back into her seat, getting comfortable. "Do you mind sharing?"

"I actually asked her out first." Octavia blushed, ducking her head in embarrassment. "She was so surprised that she actually fell out of her chair and broke her leg. We were sitting on the balcony of a second story restaurant, and she just fell right over the balcony."

"That's awful!" Elyra exclaimed, quickly slamming a hand over her mouth and looking at Vinyl, relieved to find that she didn't wake her. The two of them waited a moment longer before continuing.

"I felt terrible about it, but she never blamed me." Octavia smiled at the memories. "After we left the hospital, she kissed me and said yes."

Elyra smiled, happy at being let into such a private, heartwarming story. Octavia smiled, but it turned melancholic, then sad. "We got married a year later." She laughed, shaking her head. "Celestia! We were so young."

"You still are," Elyra said.

"I spent nine years thinking she was dead," Octavia whispered, looking down at Vinyl.

"You have another chance with her." Elyra smiled at her.

"Yes..." Octavia let her words trail off. She looked out the window at the Presidium beyond. "But it's been so long, and she's been hurt so much. Maybe it would be better if she didn't have to deal with me as she tries to heal."

Frowning, Elyra leaned forward in her seat, her lips pursed. She watched Octavia with concerned eyes. "That would be a bad idea, Octavia."

"Would it be, really?" Octavia sniffled, wiping her nose with her hoof. "I would just be in the way."

"No, Octavia!" Elyra shook her head. "Vinyl loves you more than I think you know. You abandoning her in her time of need would break her."

Octavia looked and felt unconvinced. She could feel her reluctance of going back into a relationship that had hurt her so much for so long. "I don't know..."

"She has had no stability in her life since she was take from you." Elyra continued on, giving Octavia a pitying smile. "She was used, abused, and treated like an animal. That she is able to function so well after all of that is a miracle in and of itself. I cannot help but think that it is really thanks you that she is doing so well. It's alright to be afraid Octavia, but don't abandon the one person that needs you."

Octavia stared down at the bed, nodding solemnly. "You're right. Of course you're right."

"Good." Elyra nodded, satisfied, standing up. "I'll let you get back to your rest."