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One-way Ticket · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 1000–25000
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You Can't Go Home Again (Even if You Wanted To)
The doorbell rang again. "I’m coming, I’m coming," Octavia said, rubbing sleep out of her eyes. "Don’t get your fetlocks in a twist, I’m coming." Despite her calls, the doorbell continued to ring.

"Celestia’s sake, who are you and what’s so impor—" Octavia opened the door. "Oh. Oh, damn it."

There were two ponies on Octavia’s doorstep: a young mare and a filly. The filly smiled broadly. "Hi, Sis! Betcha didn’t expect to see us here!"

Facing away from the table at which her sisters were seated, Octavia cracked eggs into a pan. "So. How’d you find me?"

The filly spoke up eagerly, mumbling through a mouthful of omelette. "Oh, it was easy! Cabochon’s always been great at finding stuff!"

Octavia sprinkled cheese over the eggs. "Yes, she’s always enjoyed poking her nose where it doesn’t belong. And why did you come here?"

The filly opened her mouth again, but Cabochon cut her off. "What, we can’t come visit you? It’s been five years. Perhaps we just missed our sister."

Octavia didn't reply, but she slid the completed omelette onto a plate and passed it to Cabochon. At that moment, Vinyl Scratch walked out of hall leading to their bedroom, yawning and rubbing at her mane with a towel. “Mornin’, Tavi. What’s for breakfast?” She looked up. “And who’re these two?”

“Good morning, Vinyl,” Octavia said. “These are my sisters, Cabochon and Briolette. This is my"—she shook her head in distraction—"my roommate, Vinyl Scratch. We’re having omelettes. Cabochon, please give that plate to Vinyl. I’ll make you another.”

Vinyl waved a hoof. “Keep it, kid. I can wait.” She cozied up against Octavia. “Sooo, you never told me you had sisters. Cute ones.”

Octavia set down her spatula with an audible thump. “Pardon me. I need to talk with Vinyl for a moment.”

Octavia led Vinyl down the hall. As soon as they were out of sight of the dining room table, Octavia shoved Vinyl roughly against the wall. Vinyl grinned. “You sure, Tavi? They’d still probably be able to hear us—”

Octavia put a hoof over Vinyl’s mouth. "Dear, while I usually draw some amusement from your little crudities, now is not the time."

Vinyl nodded. Octavia withdrew her hoof and sighed.

“I’m sorry, Vinyl. It’s just—family issues. I’d prefer it if you didn’t broadcast our relationship.”

Vinyl sat down at the dining room table, and Octavia started on another omelette. As she cooked, she glanced over at the table, at the sisters she hadn't seen for five years. Briolette had just been a foal then, barely able to talk. Now she was making cheerful small talk with Vinyl. Briolette was a dull brown all over, and her cutie mark hadn't appeared yet.

Five years ago, Cabochon had been a rowdy pre-pubescent. Now she was barely younger than Octavia had been when she had left home. Cabochon's mane and coat were the same dull orange, but her cutie mark had appeared in the interim: a magnifying glass. She was quieter than she had been five years ago, as well. While Briolette chatted with Vinyl—something about Canterlot's architecture—Cabochon only watched, and picked at her omelette.

Cabochon looked up and met Octavia's eyes. Octavia fought the urge to turn away, and held her gaze until Cabochon turned back to her food.

In the meantime, though, Vinyl's omelette had burned. Octavia sighed and slid it onto a plate anyway—she could eat that one—and cracked another egg into the pan.

Octavia balanced her and Vinyl's plates on her back. She walked to the table and set the plates down, than sat down herself.

"Cabochon, Briolette, while it's"—Octavia forced out a smile—"lovely to see you, I'm afraid you still haven't told me why you came to visit."

Cabochon blinked slowly, all innocence. Briolette at least had the decency to look embarrassed. Or—Octavia wasn't quite sure what Briolette's expression was. Her face was scrunched up in either embarrassment, sadness, or shame.

After a few moments of silence, Cabochon inclined her head towards Vinyl. "Facet, if your... roommate would leave for a moment, please. Family matters."

Vinyl looked to Octavia. For a few moments, Octavia considered refusing, but decided against it. "Vinyl? If it's okay?" Vinyl nodded, got up, and went down the stairs to their studio.

Vinyl's hoofsteps faded, but Cabochon didn't say anything more. Octavia finally broke the silence. "Why'd you leave?"

No response. "Where are you staying, then?" Octavia asked.

No response. Octavia tried once more. "What's going to happen to the rock farm? Dad can't work it all by himself."

Cabochon finally spoke. "Dad's dead, Facet. We thought you should know."

Octavia got up and went to the liquor cabinet. She took a bottle, carried it back to the table. Uncorked it. Offered a glass to Cabochon, at that moment not caring about age. Cabochon waved off the offer, so Octavia poured herself a glass of wine and sat back down. “The farm?”

“Creditors. Rock production’d been down, it wasn’t worth much anyway.”

“Well.” Octavia swirled her glass around. “You didn’t hunt me down just to tell me the news. Tell me why you’re here, after all this time.”

Cabochon’s face went hard. Another silence. Octavia finished her drink and poured herself another.

Octavia finished her second drink. "Look, Cabochon. You want a place to stay? Fine. I've got a guest room, you can stay there. If you found me, then you've seen the posters and everything. I'm not a rock farmer any more. I make a good living here in Canterlot."

"We don't need your charity, Facet," Cabochon said.

Octavia shook her head. "Just give up, Cab'. Admit you need help. And I'm not Facet anymore. Changed my name. It's Octavia, now. "

"Octavia, then. We do not need your charity, Octavia."

Octavia slammed a hoof on the table. "Of course you do!" she yelled. "You think you two can make it on your own?"

"When you left," Cabochon said coldly, "you were hardly any older than I am now." She stood and tapped Briolette on the shoulder. "I believe our family duties have been discharged. What remains of duty, at least. What remains of family. Let's go, Briolette." Together, they walked to the door.

Octavia opened her mouth to yell again, then slumped back in her seat and looked back into her glass. "Where are you staying?" she asked dully.

Briolette glanced back; Cabochon did not. Cabochon named a motel in one of the grittier parts of Canterlot, and then the pair were gone.

Octavia opened the door to the studio she shared with Vinyl, and winced at the sudden thump of sound. Vinyl was wearing headphones and facing away from the door, so Octavia tapped her on the shoulder.

Vinyl turned the music off. "Hey, Tavi," she said, and waited.

"Hey, Vinyl. Thanks."

"No problem. Family issues, huh? You want to talk?"

Octavia fought the urge to stay silent. "Not really, no. But I should."

Vinyl sat down on the floor and patted the ground next to her. "Sit. Talk."

Octavia sat a little ways away, too far away for Vinyl to touch. Vinyl sighed and moved next to her.

"Tavi, let me rephrase that: Sit. Talk. Cuddle. You look like you could use it."

"I used to be a rock farmer. My dad, my sisters, me. My mother died when Briolette was born. I was ten.

"It was... it wasn't a bad life on the rock farm. Not really bad, just... joyless. Grey. Silent. I couldn't take it. I ran. This'd be... about five years ago, I suppose. I made it to Canterlot. I left my family, my past. I changed my name—Facet to Octavia. A way to cut ties.

"I learned how to play, I worked my way up, I got here. I met you, of course. It's been... it's been lovely. I really love you, Vinyl, you know that?

"I've spent five years ignoring family. And then my sisters come here and interrupt everything.

"My dad died. The farm's gone, apparently. And my sisters... I don't know what's going to happen to them. I don't know what they're going to do."

Vinyl nuzzled against Octavia. "I assume you offered to help. They didn't accept?"

“Cabochon did most of the speaking, but yes. She says they'll be okay. They need help,” Octavia said. “They need help, but they’re too stubborn to ask for it, and too stupid to accept it when I offer.”

Vinyl kissed her gently on the cheek. “Here's a question for you, Octy. Why do you think they need help?"

“They’re kids! They can't manage on their own!"

“Octavia, honey," Vinyl said. “Cabochon is, what, fifteen? You said you left five years ago. You were about her age, weren't you? And you managed to make it on your own. And you've grown into a wonderful mare, all on your own.”

"That’s different,” Octavia said. "And stop with the flattery."

Vinyl chuckled. “Of course it's different. Tavi, you’re strong. Stronger than I know, certainly; probably stronger than you know, too. And stubborn, too.”

“Flattery. Is this going anywhere?”

“I don't know, but... I think your sisters are cut from the same cloth. Or the same gemstone, I suppose. They could do it on their own. They don’t need your help.”

“Yes, they do!”

Vinyl clucked her tongue. “They don’t. They could do it on their own. That Cabochon, she looks like a determined little thing. Cute, too; I'd like to see what she's like in five years.” She laughed and resumed nuzzling against Octavia. “They could do it on their own, but they don’t have to. If you want to help your sisters, that’s how I think you should spin it.” She giggled. “I might not know your sisters, but I know you. And I know how to spin things. Comes from being a DJ.”

Octavia looked over at Vinyl. "It's been five years, Vinyl. You think it's that easy?"

"I don't think it's going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination. I don't think that's going to stop you though, is it? Like I said, stubborn."

Octavia punched Vinyl lightly on the shoulder; Vinyl only laughed. "So are you going to tell them about us? Rock farmers, you said—traditionalists?" Octavia nodded. Vinyl laughed harder. "Oooh, you're living in sin! Going to be a fun explanation there.”

That drew a giggle from Octavia. Vinyl's expression sobered. "You want to talk to them, Octy. You got where they're staying?" Octavia nodded. "Then you should talk. I'll stay here if you want, but... talk. You love them, don't you? Then put that stubbornness to work."
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