The midnight moonlight crept through the curtains, illuminating the room within. Eerie protrusions burst forth from the floor and walls, casting grim and wavering shadows that seemed to stalk their way across the room. Octavia had never enjoyed nighttime, her night sight had never been something to shout about. Sadly, Vinyl's room was full of all manner of debris, casting irregular pony-shaped shadows onto her imagination.
The problem being, of course, that Octavia couldn't sleep. But an hour ago, this had been something of an advantage during the nighttime activities. Now though, it kept her mind turning over the same niggling doubts, snowballing them into overbearing worries and trepidations. She glanced at her...partner. She supposed that was the correct term, was it not? It had been a worryingly infrequent label that she had been unable to apply to many other ponies. Yes, the insufferably idiotic- yet practically saintly - mare laying beside her was her partner. Octavia felt assured of this fact.
She shifted once more, moving into a more comfortable sitting position, as opposed to awkwardly laying enveloped in Vinyl's embrace. It had started as being perfectly comfortable, but in Octavia's current fitful mood, she soon found the itch to constantly readjust her posture to remain comfortable. She stared out of the window, the curtains that were hastily pulled closed before the lesson began were still hanging ajar, fluttering softly in the breeze.
Of all the sky available, the moon had taken the lion's share. It hung in the ethereal blackness, softly glowing amongst its confederacy of glimmering stars. She sat for a moment longer - or so it felt - watching the celestial body's imperceptibly slow movement across the sky. A half hour bled away as Octavia gaped at the stars, trying to surmise the shapes and intentions behind them. Maybe Luna herself had hidden the answers to her subjects' questions amongst the stars, if Octavia only took the time to search them thoroughly.
"Hey Octy...trouble sleepin'?"
Octavia sharply turned, barely containing a surprised hiss. Vinyl almost leapt out the bed at the sudden movement, caught halfway through blearily rubbing her eyes with her forehooves.
"Oh, sorry. I didn't mean to wake you."
Vinyl chuckled, still groggy with the stupor of sleep. The moonlight caught her eyes at a sharp angle, bouncing their image in all their scarlet beauty to Octavia.
"You had no problems with keeping me awake a little while ago. Why you still up? Thought you'd be the early to bed type."
Octavia playfully dug a hoof into Vinyl's stomach, eliciting a soft "oof" from the other mare. She toyed with her hooves for a moment, until Vinyl's characteristic impatience overtook her less characteristic manners. Octavia found a concerned pair of eyes cresting the horizon of her sight, as Vinyl crawled over to sit next to her.
"Octy. Are you okay?"
Octavia slowly turned to Vinyl, unaware that her worry was so evident to the outside world. She wasn't shivering, nor were her eyes particularly dulled with the pallor of her trepidation. However, despite her almost poker-winning facade, Vinyl could identify the signs. The subtlest twitch in her left ear, the most minimal pause before each sentence, the way in which her eyes would drift from their target for but a second before being snapped back in place.
Vinyl had - much like flocks of birds who foresee incoming disasters - found the clues, and took the necessary action. Octavia felt the uncertainty in the hug, and returned it without hesitation. She almost crushed Vinyl's ribs with the sheer pressure of the embrace, not releasing her for any feasible period of time.
"I'm just...I, I want to ask you a question, Vinyl. I...need, your answer."
The embrace slackened ever so slightly, before Vinyl redoubled her efforts. She leaned closer, whispering her reply into Octavia's ear.
"Anything you need, Octy, I need."
"Where...where are we going with this, Vinyl?"
Vinyl's brain froze, barely able to work her own counter-question into her sentence out of a sludge of foal babble.
"I don't get what you mean."
Octavia released the hug, furiously jabbing a hoof at herself and Vinyl.
"Where are we going with this? Us...where are we going Vinyl?"
Vinyl experienced something rare, that night. For every argument there was a counter-argument, no matter how simple the comeback was. For every joke, a chuckle and a compliment. For the first time in her admittedly short memory, Vinyl had encountered a sentence she had no immediate reply to. One that she felt required far more thought than she could give in such a short timespan.
"I...I don't know, Octy."
Octavia's breath caught in her throat, attempting to seal off any access to her lungs. She glanced at Vinyl accusingly for a moment, mouth agape with superfluous shock.
"But...I thought you had been here before. You said you'd been with countless fillies and colts in your younger years."
Vinyl gave a small laugh, more out of necessity than mirth. A short, sharp, almost tragic laugh.
"Yeah, and think how long they probably lasted. Sure, I had some fun, but I never remembered any of their names afterwards...never even found out half of them in the first place. Those...those weren't the same. Not like this. Not like what I have with you."
Despite herself, Octavia smiled. Her worries were still there, though for but a moment there were set aside in her mind.
"Look, Octy. I'll hold my hooves up, I've been playing it by ear. Most ponies I get close to find some other filly a week later, and go post-to-post all their lives. I don't have a plan, and that's most of the fun with you. I get to take each day at a time, be happy I got them, and be happier I got them with you. It's like...exploring, except now we can do it together, and face what's out there, together."
Octavia snuck the tip of her hoof into the corner of her eye, deftly removing a tear before any attention was brought to it. She leaned forward, lightly pecking Vinyl on the lips. Even in the pale light of the moon, Vinyl's white coat reddened noticeably.
"Well, I suppose we'll have to search this all out ourselves, then. I should have known coming to you for advice and closure would be a fruitless effort."
"I dunno, I got some apples in the kitchen. Too late to eat though, Octy."
Octavia chuckled, finally settling down muzzle-to-muzzle with Vinyl. She brought her body close, loosely embracing her with a free foreleg. A posture she could remain comfortable in, thankfully.
"Good night, Vinyl."
"Night Octy, make sure you grab some beauty sleep, you could use it."
Octavia suppressed her gasp, eyes flicking open to find a wry smile rendered on Vinyl's face in the faltering moonlight. She shut her eyes, burrowing her head further into the pillow to gather more comfort. Her own little smile flickered over her lips, an early warning to the wary Vinyl.
"Says the pony to whom beauty is as prevalent as intelligence."
"You know, Octy. It's nicer if I pretend that one's a compliment."
"Whatever helps you sleep at night, Vinyl."