[EqG] Life at the Dazzling House - by Gatorbait
-1- >"Adagio!" >The bushy haired siren closes her eyes and pinches the bridge of her nose. After taking a deep breath, she returns to reading, only to grit her teeth as the familiar voice calls out again. >"A-da-gi-o!" >"She's fine," the blonde murmurs, turning a page in her book, "I don't need to do anything." There's a moment of silence, and Adagio sighs, smiling and squirming deeper into her seat. >At once, there's a sudden clattering of feet against the floor, and Adagio only has enough time to jerk her knees up to her chest when Sonata comes flying into the room. Her icy glare goes by the blue girl as she dusts herself off and offers a big smile. >"Addy, I was calling for you for-ev-er. You should really get your hearing checked!" >Adagio grumbles something under her breath, but seeing Sonata cock her head to the side in confusion, she decides to let it drop. Putting her feet back on the floor, she places her book aside and leans forward. >"Well, Sonata? What's so important that you needed to interrupt my 'me' time?" >The spaced-out senorita stares blankly ahead for several seconds before her eyes light up. >"Oh right," she chimes in her usual, cheery tone. Dragging the ottoman over in front of the chair, she plops down and plops her feet into Adagio's lap. "Laces, please!" >Her perennial poofy partner gives Sonata another cold look. To her credit, Sonata doesn't seem to notice at all, instead waving her sneakers from side to side. At last Adagio sighs and begins lacing up the shoes. >"You really ought to do this yourself. You're a grown girl." >"But it's hard," Sonata groans, sticking out her lower lip. "Boots and flats are easy because you just put them on, but they won't let me play sports if I don't wear sneakers." >"Still..." Aria finishes with the left and moves to the right. "It would be good for you to learn, something." >"No way!" Sonata laughs and shakes her head. "If I figured out how to do things on my own, we wouldn't have nearly as much fun together!" >Adagio offers a small smile and then places both Sonata's feet on the ground. >"All right, go have fun." >Bouncing up to a standing position, Sonata gives a few experimental stretches and then smiles. Waving to her friend, she hurries out of the den and makes a break for the door. >"Bye Addy! Make sure you don't let Aria cook tonight!" >There's a groan of protest from somewhere in the house. Adagio chuckles, glad that at least one of the trio was taking to having a normal life in stride. After a moment she picks up her book again. Her eyes roam the page, searching. >"Now, where was I... right. Repairing Magical Artifacts..." >What? There weren't any rules about -staying- where they were. -2- >It's eight o'clock when a knock comes at Aria's door. With an irritated huff, the grouchy girl grumbles out, "Come in..." before rolling her back to the door and trying to ignore Adagio as she enters. There's a brief moment of silence before Adagio groans. >"Aria..." >Quick as a flash, the petulant pig-tailed pouter rolls back to face the leader of the Dazzlings and scowls. >"What!? You have something you want to say?" >Adagio meets her eyes, utterly unfazed by the sour snapping. Bending at the waist, she picks up a discarded burger wrapper and holds it in Aria's direction. The purple girl colors, crossing her arms over her chest. >"S-so what? I got, a little hungry last night..." Aria's voice trails off as Adagio doesn't blink, but waves her hand in the general direction of the floor. Glancing down, Aria blanches, seeing that her floor is littered with greasy wrappers. >"Aria, dear," Adagio starts, taking a measured breath before continuing, "You know that we're on a budget..." >"Yeah, so?" >Adagio frowns, but continues as though she weren't irritated at being interrupted. "And we can't 'coerce' anyone to cover our bills anymore, so we need to keep this space nice and clean." >Pouting, Aria crosses her arms over her chest. >"Whatever. I'll clean it up this weekend. I've got homework to do right now." >Adagio gives her partner a long, uncertain look before nodding and turning away. Aria's lip immediately curls into a sneer and she makes a twisted face at Adagio's back as the curly-haired cutie stalks back into the hall. Pulling out a magazine, Aria snaps it open and mumbles to herself. >"You're such a busybody Adagio. How boring can you get?" >Another evening in the Dazzling house... -3- "Aria, what do you even do here?" With a tired sigh, the pig-tailed girl huffs and closes her magazine. Propping herself up on her elbows, Aria glances over her knees at Sonata. The blue former songstress is stretched out across Ara's bed on her belly, her knees bent as she kicks her feet back and forth in the air. Bile rises in Aria's mouth. "What?" she finally huffs, earning a curious stare from Sonata. "I was just asking what you do here at the house. I mean, Adagio pretty much does everything, but even I help clean and you..." Sonata's voice trails off as the usual vacant smile slowly curls into a vicious smirk, "you just stay in your room like a bump on a log." "I-I do not!" Aria snaps, her face coloring as Sonata calls her out on her rather lackluster domestic performance. As her 'friend' begins to giggle, Aria struggles to regain her footing and pushes herself up to a kneeling position. "I'm, I'm here for moral support!" Sonata stops laughing abruptly and mirrors Aria's position, putting the former bandmates faces inches away from one another. Aria struggles to control her breathing, her brow furrowing as she maintains a serious glower. "Don't you mean 'oral support'?" Sonata teases, sticking out her tongue and flapping it lewdly. Steam all but bursts out of Aria's ears as she reaches back and grabs a pillow, smacking her friend upside the head. With her ears still ringing, Sonata continues laughing and responds in kind. Adagio wasn't pleased when she walked in. Another weekend of cleaning her room for Aria. But at least she'd have Sonata helping this time. Just another day in the Dazzling house... -4- "Aria, last chance! We're headed out the door!" The pigtailed-girl flinches at the sound of Adagio's voice. Sneering at the wall, she shouts back, "Go ahead! I've got..." her eyes flit about, finally setting on a still unopened pile of textbooks from the first day of school, "uh, homework!" A long suffering sigh echoes up from the front hall, followed quickly by Sonata's cheery voice, "See you soon, baboon!" and then the foundation shivering slam of the door. Aria strains her ears until the quiet stomp of her friends' boots are gone before she pulls her knees up to her chest. Still scowling at the wall, Aria gradually lets herself wind down. It starts with a quiet tremor running down the length of her back that gradually pushes out until it reaches her fingers and toes. Her arms cross over her knees and she buries her face in the small, dark space she's created. The quivers intensify, until Aria is left visibly shuddering. Quiet certain she's alone now, she whispers the words she can't bear to say otherwise. "Why am I so useless?" The tears start in earnest, dribbling down her cheeks and along the outside of her nose. Aria sniffs, snorts, and even manages a quiet hack of protest as she sobs into the tangle of limbs. "Without my voice, I'm nothing. Even Sonata's more useful than me. I'm," a large lump makes itself known in her throat, keeping her from speaking. With a few twists, turns and coughs, Aria finally squeaks out, "worse than the worst." With her mascara running freely now, the one-time wonder rolls onto her belly and buries her face in her pillow. Still shaking, she remains there until she finally falls asleep. Sometime later, she awakens to a pleasant sensation. Familiar fingers dance along her exposed back, but aria doesn't move as Adagio hums a few bars of an old, familiar song, horribly out of key. And even though the touch gives her peace, Aria can't bring herself to let Adagio know she's awake. Another night in the Dazzling house... -5- "Look at her," Aria grumbles. "What a dweeb." Adagio gives a quiet grunt as she watches Sonata on the track below, bouncing on the balls of her feet. It's unusual, seeing her out of her skirt and boots, with her hair tied down close to her head. But still, the bubbly blue girl wears her usual smile and settles into her starting blocks. As the other runners do the same, Adagio stiffens. On either side of Sonata, the sprinters exchange looks with one another. The curly haired girl gets to her feet, Aria jerking back in surprise. "A-Adagio?" Ignoring her friend for the time being, Adagio hurries down towards the front of the stands, earning a series of glares of her own on the way. As she clutches the barrier between her fingers, the sound of the starting gun fires and the runners bolt. Four strides in, the runners pace themselves alongside Sonata. At six, they look at one another again. At ten, one shifts her weight ever so slightly. Sonata, dead set on finishing the race, is entirely oblivious to the foot slipping over into her lane. Sonata tumbles down to the unforgiving track surface, rolling head to tail twice before landing hard on her back. Adagio shouts her name and there's a loud clattering of boots on metal as Aria hurries down from the top of the stands. Tears well in the blue girl's eyes as she stares up at the sky. Her knees are skinned and the wind has been knocked into next week. She doesn't understand. The TV said that when things got bad, they never stayed that way. Eventually, they'd get better as long as you tried your best. "So why isn't it getting better...?" Struggling to a sitting position, she waits for her friends. The only two willing to help her off the track. For now, there's only one place where she can feel safe. Back home, with the Dazzlings. -6- Adagio walks into the kitchen to find her friends already waiting there for her. She'd called the sit down meeting in an attempt to deal with some concerns she'd been having lately. Sonata looks pleased as punch to be at the table, though the fact that she's currently having a mini-orgasm around the ice cream sammie in her mouth might play a part. Aria glowers, which is no different than usual. Clearing her throat, Adagio places her palm on the table top and begins. "I know that things have been rough lately." Her eyes drift over to Sonata, who between scuffed knees and elbows, and a few small welts and micro paper cuts doesn't look too worse for wear. "Living here after everything that happened at Canterlot High hasn't been easy, but I know you two are trying your best." Out of the corner of her eye, Adagio sees Aria stiffen. She doesn't have the physical symptoms, but the purple girl's shape as changed. Her arms and legs noticeably thinner, though she seems to be rounding out in the middle. Despite that, she makes no move for the ice cream. Adagio sighs. "And the sacrifices that we've had to make haven't been easy. But I want you girls to know that we three are in this together." Holding out her hands, palms facing up, to the former-singers, Adagio smiles. "And we'll get through to the other side." Sonata's clammy and slightly slimy hand quickly slips into hers. Tears brim at her eyes as she bobs her head, mumbling half-words of support around another sandwich in her mouth. Adagio smiles and glances to Aria. However, the petulant pouter has crossed her arms over her chest and seems more interested in looking out the window. After a moment, she responds. "Things aren't going to get better. You know it as well as I do. But we don't have to be stuck in highschool hell. We could leave and start fresh somewhere else." "Aria, we..." "We can't, I know!" the pig-tailed girl snaps, hopping up from the table. "We don't have the money. We can't find somewhere else to live. We'd die in the street. You say it every time, but somehow we can afford this... crap!" She grabs the box of frozen treats and hurls them against the wall before storming out of the kitchen. After several seconds, Aria's voice calls out again. "You don't get it because you never sacrificed anything but your voice. NOTHING!" The house shakes as the door to her room slams shut. Sonata stares at Adagio for a moment longer before whispering, "I liked your surprise, and I know you do a lot for the both of us..." Though her eyes brim with tears, their leader holds them back, and smiles at Sonata. Taking that as a good sign, the hungry human goes over to pick up what's left of the ice cream. Adagio's shoulders quiver. Just another night at the Dazzling house. -7- The house is quiet as Aria arrives. A quick glance around assures her that nobody's home, but she hurries to her room anyway, the quiet hiss of plastic rustling the entire way. Plopping herself down on the bed, the purple girl takes out a pair of chopsticks from the bag, snapping them apart as she fishes out the takeout box. With a deft flick of her thumb, the lid pops open, revealing the Kung Pow Chicken within. For a brief moment, Aria smile and buries her nose in the greasy comfort food. Yes, everything's per- "Ar~i~a," Sonata coos by her friend's ear. With a confused squeal, the Chinese Takeaway Connoisseur leaps backwards, sending a portion of the chicken on the bed. Panting, Aria goes red-faced and leans back in towards Sonata. "Wh-what do you think you're doing, dweeb? Can't you see I'm trying to eat?" "Of course I can," Sonata giggles, biting down on her lip and fixing her friend with a surprisingly calculating stare. "I also know that you didn't have enough money to buy it when you left the house this morning." The color drains from Aria's face as Sonata leans over and picks a piece of chicken off the comforter. "So why don't you tell me how you're able to buy takeout four or five times a week?" "W-well, I..." "I'll know if you're lying." A chill rolls down Aria's spine at the off-hand way her friend declared that. Biting her lip, she sighs and pulls a wallet out from between her breasts. Sonata sits up and leans forward, taking the leather accessory. It's bursting at the seams with plastic cards. "I've found a couple ways to feed my bad habits. If I'm lucky, they don't notice for a couple of hours." Aria gives a small smile and begins digging around in her makeshift bowl. "It's more efficient to show a little skin and lift than it is to try and coax a meal out of them." Sonata pouts, closing the wallet and giving her friend a sad stare. "But Aria, that's stealing. It's really rude!" Aria snorts and rolls her eyes. "Like I care. I get what I want and they learn to keep a closer eye on their stuff without losing too much money. It's a win-win." Pouting even harder, Sonata furrows her brow and sticks out her lower lip. "But what if you get caught?" "I won't. Getting caught is for dweebs like you." Aria smirks and taps her finger against Sonata's forehead. "You're such a klutz you probably couldn't even spot a decent mark from a mile away." "W-well you're dumb!" Sonata snaps. Aria chuckles and goes back to eating. Now it's Sonata's turn to scowl, her mind whirring as fast as it can, color rushing to her face as she struggles to come up with a reasonable retort. At once, her eyes light up. With a slow smile, she leans over to Aria, placing their faces scant inches apart. The purple girl colors as she stammers for a moment before Sonata speaks. "Ar~i~a, you hafta stop stealing people's wallets." Aria gulps and shivers as Sonata's lips curl upward. A sudden sensation of fingers on either side of her stomach draws her attention downward. Sonata's taken a grip on her slight tummy bulge in either hand, and is now working it up and down. "Because otherwise you're going to turn into a ~pudgy bunny~" Sonata giggles, emphasizing the last two words with a childish sort of baby talk. "Hey, cu-cut that out!" Sonata simply smiles wider and continues her assault. "Pudgy~Bunny! Pudgy~Bunny! Pudgy~Bunny!" "Sonata I'm going to KILL YOU!" Aria screams and Sonata bolts from the room, laughing all the way. Another night in the Dazzling house. -8- "Order up, sweetcheeks!" Adagio sneers at the line cook who gives her a wink and a smirk. Loading the plates onto the tray, she pauses long enough to don a smile before hurrying back out to the floor. Servers whip by at a rapid pace, but the poofy-haired siren moves through them with ease. Her hips roll to avoid contact with a practiced poise until she finally arrives at the table. Donning a small smile, Adagio snaps a nearby stand open and begins unloading the plates. "Thank you again for coming to eat with us tonight. If there's anything else I can do for you, let me know." The suited men at the table nod, eyes glued to the rolling line between her waist and hips. With a coy grin, the stand snaps closed, the tray slips in between her arm and side and Adagio strolls away, her skirt-covered bottom swinging from side to side. She can feel it, the eyes of the entire restaurant on her. The blend of fear and thrill that rolls through her body. The double doors can't come soon enough. On the other side, Adagio slumps against the wall and presses her fingers to her forehead. "Keep it together, girl," she whispers. "It doesn't matter if you can't sing any more, you've still got them like putty in your hands." The ghostly sensation of a hand pressing against her bottom makes her shudder and blanch. Maybe she could stand to turn down the sex appeal a little. Even if it did bring in good tips, getting pawed by some drunken executive was the last thing she wanted. Controlling the situation was more important than money, and without her hypnotic voice, she could only do so much. Steeling herself, Adagio slaps her face with both hands, her hair jostling back and forth as she stands. There’s nothing she can control at this point other than herself. She’ll have to take risks because the other girls can’t. That’s right. She needs to keep them safe, safe so they can stay together. Together in the Dazzling house. -9- The new normal; that’s what Adagio had called it. Sonata didn’t quite understand what the blonde had meant by that, but she was doing her best to live out her days in a way that would help her to fit in. Granted, being one part of the three most hated girls in school made that a little difficult, but the girls in the locker room were coming around to her. Sonata smiles as she jimmies open her locker after practice. There’s a quiet rumbling as the door swings open, and then a wave of shaving foam splats its way across the surprised siren’s face and into her mouth. She hacks and heaves, hyperaware of the laughter rumbling up from all corners of the room. “Smooth move, Sonata.” “I’ll say; your face is covered.” “But that’s nothing new to you, right?” With the laughter intensifying, Sonata reaches up and wipes the cream away from her eyes. She offers up a big smile to the girls and laughs in response. “Ha, you sure got me good!” The chuckles stop abruptly as the girls stare at her. Then, with some murmurs of disappointment, they finish dressing and make their way towards the door. A few lingering laughs echo back into the room as the door slams shut, leaving Sonata alone. With her fist clenched by her side, she rubs at her eyes again, the foam dissipating as it comes into contact with a fresh batch of tears. “It’s okay,” she mutters to herself. “It’s better now than when they were ignoring you. Y-you’re about to break through to them, and then everything will be fine.” Right, they’ll warm up to her eventually; she’s simply too adorable not to be loved. Grabbing a towel, Sonata cleans her face again and gets ready for the night. Aria suggested that they all go out and sneak into a movie. Adagio had been reluctant, but when outvoted two-to-one, she eventually relented. Even if it’s necessary to cut a few corners, sometimes it’s nice to have a night away from the Dazzling house. -10- Aria scowls out at the passing pedestrians. While not any different than her usual expression, today she’s particularly perturbed at the lack of a decent mark. Sitting on a raised portion of cement, she kicks her feet back and forth while she waits. “What a terrible time to be broke,” she grumbles, never taking her eyes off the crowd. Her slightly pudgy belly makes a bubbling sound of protest, which draws the siren’s ire southward. “Can it, you. I’m trying to work here.” The sharp words do little to ease her hunger, but the ravenous rumblings manage to bring Aria into a higher level of focus. She squints, staring into the busy business people, until she finally lets a smile slip across her face. Hopping off the ledge, she approaches a woman with an oversized purse, perfect for fishing a wallet out of. She would never even notice. With a surprising quickness, Aria’s had dips into the gaping opening across the top, rounded fingers finding purchase on a slick leather surface. Holding back a wicked grin, Aria lifts the wallet and Feels a cold ring of metal snap around her wrist. “Hey!” she snaps, instantly dropping her prize and trying to position her hand out of the purse. “What do you think you’re doing?” The woman turns and smirks, speaking with an easy, drawling voice that fills Aria with dread. “So, you’re the little pickpocket who’s been running around here lately, huh?” “Not a chance, I’m a student after all. I keep my nose clean.” Aria chuckles as the woman’s face falls. She tugs on her wrist, lifting Aria’s arm until it dangles between the two of them. Color falls from the purple girl’s face as she sees a black substance marring her heist hand. The officer offers a wry smile. “I think it would be best if you came with me.” Despite her shouting and protests, Aria is quickly subdued. Falling in line behind the woman, she knows that there’s only one way this can end. Spending a night, in the big house. -11- "You did WHAT?" Sonata flinches as Adagio screeches into the phone. Aria's rather unconcerned voice rings out from the speaker. "I got caught lifting a cop's wallet and now I'm down at the station. I need you to come an bail me out." Still red-faced, Adagio's hand clutches to the edge of the table, going ghostly white. "Aria..." "It's no big deal," she grunts, "just a couple hundred dollars." "We don't -have- a couple hundred dollars you stupid ditz. It's all tied up in food and bills!" There's a lengthy pause and a frustrated huff. "Whatever, I don't even know why I wasted my call on you. It's just like I said before, you'd never do anything for me. I'll see you whenever they let me out." "Aria, wait!" Adagio scrambles for the phone when the click rumbles through the house. The blonde's slender fingers tremble as she suddenly drops to her knees. Her whole body shakes as tears well in her eyes and she starts to sob. The deep ache in her chest refuses to go away, even as she tosses the chair to the side and clutches onto her thighs with a vice like grip. "Stupid girl," she whispers. "Why did you have to go and do that? Everything we did together, wasted just like that." Was she talking about Aria or herself? Did it really matter? The tears flow freely as Adagio clutches the chair in front of her. But as she cries, Sonata places her hand under the blonde's chin and gives it a lift. She smiles down at Adagio and shakes her head. "Don't get so down, Addy. I know exactly what it is we have to do." Adagio sniffs, wiping at the corners of her eyes and giving a hopeful smile. Sonata bobs her head. "We're going to bring Aria home. Tonight." As Sonata explains her idea, Adagio's conviction wavers, if only for a moment. Afterwards, she steels herself and agrees to see it through. Having a plan is better than none, even if it comes from the most eclectic resident of the Dazzling house. -12- Aria glances around the small eight-by-eight square that will serve as her home for the time being. She snorts, flexing her slightly swollen hand, still agitated from her tantrum after Adagio’s call. It would have been better if the wall had just given up the ghost, but it stood firm. Flopping back on the lumpy mattress, the pig-tailed girl rests her hands behind her head and stares up at the ceiling. “Where did everything go so wrong?” she mutters, her breaths low and shallow as she does her best to appear dead. Maybe things would be better if she was; at the very least, that would show all of them. Especially Adagio. Aria sneers. “Where does she get off anyway?” Popping up into a sitting position, she huffs and kicks her feet over the edge of the bed. “Just because she was in charge before doesn’t mean she should be now. I know I’m leaps and bounds better than her; heck, Sonata would even blow her out of the water. She doesn’t care about anyone but herself.” There’s a quiet growl from Aria’s stomach, to which the girl responds with a gentle slap. She watches in a mixture of amazement and revulsion as her formerly flat stomach gives a slight jiggle at the touch. Biting down on the back of her thumb, Aria’s eyes flit around as she struggles to process this latest revelation. “Am I really that much better though? I’ve been in a funk since the Battle of the Bands and have been eating to cope with losing my voice.” She casts a wary eye down to her paunch and sneers, as if the pudge doesn’t belong to her, but to someone else. “Ugh, I can’t believe I let myself go like this, over something so stu-” Wait, was it stupid? Her voice had been her livelihood, both in Equestria and on Earth. Without it, she was nothing. A shiver runs down her spine as she whispers, “I really am the worst.” But Aria sulks, there’s a loud click. Her head shoots up as the guard grumbles, “Your friends are here to bail you out, kid.” Aria’s heart soars as she rushes out. As Aria rounds the corner, she freezes. Her jaw hangs loose and her eyes bulge as tears tickle at the edge of her vision. Adagio and Sonata, spotting her, stand and move close. “Aria,” the blonde Dazzling sighs, pulling her stammering friend in close for a hug as Sonata hustles over behind the pig-tailed girl and assaults her from the rear. They hold her close for several moments before Aria can properly get the words out. “Girls, you,” she whispers, clenching her fist and pulling herself away from her friends. Sonata gives Aria her usual confused and very vacant thousand-yard stare, while Adagio offers up a gentle, if cocksure, smile. Aria’s knuckles begin to go white as she trembles. “You, you cut your hair!” “Oh, you noticed? I thought it was time for a change.” Adagio chuckles in the most nonchalant manner she can manage. Bringing a hand up, she gently jostles what’s left of her monstrous nest of curly hair. Everything beyond the hair band had been cut off, and then the rest shaped up so that it matched her now less robust coiffure. “Yeah!” Sonata chimes in as she bounces into Aria’s sight. “Plus it was a great way to get some extra cash fast.” The blue girl nods, her hair little more than a bob cut now. Aria gapes as she stares at the now non-existent ponytail. A low smack echoes through the station, followed by a yelp from Sonata as Aria slaps her arm and glares. “We said we weren’t going to mention that.” “Soo~ry.” “You’re such an airhead,” Adagio sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose between her fingers before smiling at the teary Aria. “Well, shall we?” With a small sniff, Aria quietly asks, “Shall we what?” “Go home?” Adagio whispers, holding out her hand. Biting her lip, Aria nods and clutches to her friend for dear life. Sonata laughs and bounces over to her other side, grabbing Aria’s free hand. The three walk in lockstep out into the night, going to the place they belong. Back to the Dazzling house. -13- Once again, Adagio pours over her latest acquisition from the library. Biting on her lower lip, she reaches up to twirl her hair, only to find nothing there. She quietly curses Aria for getting into trouble, certainly not for the first or last time, and the loss of her curly do as a result. With a sigh, she props her cheek onto her palm and reads over the line again. "Sirens are fascinating creatures, noted for their magnificent singing voices, able to lure entire crews of sea men to their deaths." There's a lengthy pause before the curly haired girl spits, "If we're so fascinating, then why does every text say the same thing? You'd think that someone, somewhere would have actually done some research on the Sirens on this side..." "Did you call me!?" Sonata shouts from somewhere in the house. Scrunching up her face, Adagio calls back. "No!" "Are you su~re?" "I'm positive!" "O~kay!" Adagio huffs and goes back to reading the line again. "...a song which could lead a crew of sea men to their death, huh? Must be nice." "Addy?" "What?" "What are you talking about in there?" Pinching her nose, Adagio struggles to keep her temper under control. "It's just research!" "But you keep saying sea men." Adagio opens her mouth and then pauses. Turning, she glances at the door and sees Sonata peeking around the corner. A lecherous grin split's the blue girl's lips as she giggles. Pinching the bridge of her nose, Adagio sighs. "Must you be so infantile?" "If you keep spitting up seamen, you're going to be the one who's infantile!" "That's infertile, and it doesn't work that way." Another pause. Assuming the conversation finished, Adagio turns back to her reading but as she turns the page, a pair of arms settle around her neck. "Hey Addy?" "Mm." "How do babies work?" Adagio feels a chill run through her entire body as she looks into the semi-vacant eyes of her companion. Looks like there's an educational night ahead for the girls of the Dazzling house. -14- "Hey, Addy?" "Library," the blonde grunts, her nose still buried in a book as she pushes by her friend as she walks to the door. Sonata puffs her cheeks out in frustration. "Well good luck then, jerkface. I'll go hang out with Aria then." "No chance of that, she's already out and about." Sonata's jaw drops and she reaches out to grab Adagio's arm. The blonde's face scrunches up as she's stopped in her tracks, but doesn't make a move to wrench herself away from the blue girl. "For realzies? I thought you said she was one of those hockaloogie things." "Hikkimori," Adagio deadpans. Sonata dismisses the response with a wave. "Right, right, she's a hacky-sack. What made her decide to go out though?" "That's really none of our concern," Adagio says with finality, snapping the book in her hand closed. Sonata jumps at the sound and adopts a sheepish grin, finally releasing her grip. "So, you're just going to let her go out and wander the town? What if she starts picking purses again?" "Then she'll go back to the station. And we won't have any extra money to bail her out this time." A momentary pause as Sonata scrunches up her face in confusion. "But what about the extra sev-" "Research funding. And those chocotacos you love so much." Ooh, chocotacos... Sonata's mind drifts as she remembers the firm yet forgiving texture of the waffle shell, giving way to the supple sweetness of processed cream within. It's enough to make her mo- The door slams and snaps Sonata out of her reverie. Adagio is gone. So is Aria. Which means she's home alone. After a moment of consideration, her eyes light up. "There's nobody here to stop me. I can do anything I want..." With a gleeful smile, she hurries into the kitchen. An afternoon spent gorging on chocotacos is time well spent. At least, at the Dazzling house. -15- "What do you even do here?" Aria's lip curls as the words ring in her head again. It had been over a month since Sonata asked the question and so much had changed since then, but she was still the leech. The mooch. The worst. Granted, she was trying to improve, but there's only so much that she could do. Sonata had housework down to an art and Adagio was a whirlwind in the kitchen, even with her nose in a book. "So what's left for me?" she grumbles, kicking a chipped piece of concrete down the sidewalk. It clatters away, but does nothing to improve Aria's mood. She veers off into a park, sulking her way over to a bench and sitting down with a thud. People pass her by, not even batting an eye as they go about their days. Aria's lip curls as she scowls and snorts. "What a bunch of dweebs." But still, being ignored hurt. She'd spent so much time in the spotlight that being overlooked made her feel so incredibly small. Even the ire she earned at Canterlot High just by existing was better than this. "It's all your fault," Aria murmurs, bringing a hand to her throat, fingers running along where her gem should be. "If I still had my voice..." She trails off and turns back to people watching. Her mood steadily sours until she pops up from the bench with a huff. "I can't stand it!" the pig-tailed girl shouts, grabbing the arms of one of the pedestrians. He turns, surprised as Aria berates him. "Why? Why won't you pay attention to me?" The man stammers, giving Aria enough time to collect herself. As he begins to form a response, she pushes him away and storms off down the trail, leaving confused walkers in her wake. "This isn't going to beat me," she hisses through her teeth. "I might not have any magic left, and those two are trying to make it seem like everything's fine. But I've had enough feeling sorry for myself; today's the day I start making my way back to the top." Aria Blaze, burning brightly again for the world to see; the backbone of the Dazzling house. -16- "Aria, hey Aria." The purple girl cracks one of her eyes open with a groan. The dark room swims as sleep lingers a little longer, a pair of familiar hands resting on her arms and giving a small shake. "Hey, wake up okay?" "Ng... Sonata?" Aria blushes a little at the unladylike croaking sound of her voice. Rolling over onto her other side, she looks over the furrowed brow of her friend. "W-what are you doing out of bed, dork?" "I couldn't sleep." Sonata's socked feet shuffle against the carpet. The seconds tick by and Aria begins to wake up as her friend rocks from side to side. At last, Sonata's face brightens. "So, I thought I'd come sleep with you!" "Not a chance." Sonata's shoulders sag under an invisible weight as she scowls. "Ar~ia! That's so mean!" "I told you not to watch horror movies," Aria dismisses with a wave of her hand. "You know they're bad for you." "B-but you were the one watching them!" "You sat down on the couch too." "Because you're so grumpy-frumpy!" Aria's eye twitches as she reaches out and grabs Sonata's wrist. The blue girl gives a small yelp and stares at her friend with wide eyes. "I am -not- frumpy, got it?" "Okay, you're just grumpy then," Sonata says quietly. Aria sighs and rolls her eyes, but is more than willing to take what she can get from the ditz. "Now will you puh-leeze let me stay the night with you? I'm scared." Sonata shuffles side to side again, pouting and shooting puppy dog eyes at Aria. After a moment, the pigtailed girl snorts and lifts her sheets. "Fine. Just don't tell Adagio." Sonata gives an excited squeal and bounces into the bed beside her friend. Snuggling up to Aria, she breathes a happy sigh. "Thanks Aria. I know no monsters in the wall can get me now." Aria snorts again and closes her eyes to go back to sleep. The steady, rhythmic breathing of Sonata nearly sends her off when she hears it. A skittering inside the wall. Aria's hair stands on end as she follows it with her ears. The quiet scampering of something lingering in her previously safe space. Back and forth, time and time again it goes. With a gulp, she nudges her bed-mate. "Hey, Sonata?" The blue girl mumbles something in her sleep, clinging tighter to Aria. Fear creeps into Aria's chest as she looks her friend over. Out like a light, and so tangled up there's no way for her to slip loose. Meanwhile, the scampering intensifies. Aria suppresses a groan and does her best to ignore the desire to run to Adagio's bed and sleep with her for the night. She'd never hear the end of it if that happened. So the only alternative left is another sleepless night, here in the Dazzling house. -17- The hiss of the shower was a welcome comfort after a long day on the track. As Sonata suds up, she sighs and closes her eyes. Her entire body aches from stretches and sprints, vaults and other various exercises. "Omigosh I just want to die," she murmurs, bumping her forehead against the wall. From another stall, a small voice laughs. "I would too if I had my hair cut like that." "What'd you do Klutz, fall asleep chewing gum and wake up with it in your hair?" "Nah, I heard a door caught her ponytail and she was too stupid to figure out how to open it again so she cut her hair off." More laughter and theories start flying around the shower room. Sonata bites her lip and blinks back the wetness in her eyes. "Should have known to stay quiet," she whispers again, lower, bumping her head repeatedly against the wall. Eventually the girls quiet down and one-by-one leave the showers. Sonata continues to stand under the running water for a while longer after they leave, hoping the locker room will be clear when she heads out. Thankfully it is, and so the blue girl makes her way over to her locker. The first sign that something's wrong comes when her lock hangs loosely on the ring. Gritting her teeth, Sonata yanks the broken piece of metal off the door and looks inside. Whispering a curse under her breath, she sees that her locker is bare. No sign of clothes, or even her bag. "Wait, what's this?" she squints and picks up a piece of paper. Unfolding it, she mutters the words on the page. "Hey Air Head, just letting you know that we took your crap and put it where it belongs. You can pick it up in a trash can on the other side of campus. Good luck~! -Love, Track Team" Scowling, Sonata clutches the note in her hand. "Those girls," she hisses through her teeth. Huffing, she glances around for something to cover herself with. Another discarded, but still dry towel lies in the corner. Tying it around her chest for support, she shifts her own towel to her waist, providing her sufficient coverage to leave the bathroom. Sonata's face burns in humiliation as she passes through the school, earning stares and laughs from some of the other athletic and after-school students. But she perseveres and after a ten minute search, manages to find her clothing. Despite the fact that they're rumpled and stained, she hurries to a bathroom and dresses herself. With that done, she returns home. Back to the Dazzling house ...Sonata knocks on Aria's door. The pigtailed girl rolls over onto her back, closing her textbook in the process. Both Dazzlings exchange looks. Sonata starts to sniffle and Aria offers a small smile. "So you've had enough too?" Sonata bobs her head, earning a darker, more mischievous smile from her companion. "Then leave everything to me." A night of plotting and scheming at the Dazzling house. -18- "Ms. Dazzle, are you still with us?" Adagio sighs and presses a finger to her forehead. Gritting her teeth, she forces a smile. "I am, Principal Celestia." The leggy school supervisor leans forward on her desk, adopt a cold frown. "Good. Now I'm not sure how it is that the three of you aren't under the charge of the state, but by all accounts you are the guardian for these girls. That means you ultimately bear responsibility for their actions." Her finger drifts over to Sonata and Aria. The two girls are grinning, covered in splashes of paint on their arms and legs, but seeming none the worse for wear. "Of course you're right, Principal," Adagio deadpans, doing her best to hide her distaste with the other Dazzlings. "I'll strive to keep a closer eye on them." "See that you do. We'll discuss how to handle the repercussions of their actions once we know the extent of the damage." Adagio nods and gets to her feet, Aria and Sonata following suit. They march in step behind her until the trio clear the school, at which point the purple girl laughs. "Wow, she really put you through the wringer, huh Adagio?" With a huff, the Dazzling leader turns on the ball of her foot and slaps Aria across the face. Pigtails flailing, Aria stumbles a half step, clutching a hand to her face as she lapses into silence. Sonata stands, holding her hands to her chest, jaw slack as she stares. "What in the world were you two thinking?" Adagio seethes through her teeth. "Throwing balloons full of paint at the track team? Did you really think that would make things better?" Still holding her cheek, Aria rights herself and scowls. "It's sure made Sonata feel better, which is more than I can say for anything you've done lately." Leaning forward, Adagio grabs Aria by her jacket and gives a firm shake. "You two don't seem to understand that I'm the one responsible for you. I'm the one accountable when things go wrong!" "Well we never asked you to be!" Aria's lip curls into a scowl as Adagio lapses into silence. "You think we want a mother hen like you pecking around all the time? All you seem to do is tell us what we're screwing up on. You're the worst, Adagio." With a sigh, Aria shakes her head and grabs Sonata's hand. "Come on, let's go home." The purple girl storms off, Sonata's eyes flicking back and forth between the two girls even as she doesn't try to pull away. Adagio stands at the street corner, glaring down at her shoes for a while longer. "I am -not- the worst," she mutters, picking up her feet again as she trudges home. "I'm just trying to do what's best for everyone." An awkward night of silence, down at the Dazzling house. -19- Scan the page, turn the page. Scan the page, turn the page. Repeat. Adagio yawns and leans against the copier. The glowing white light floats back and forth across the panel, paper hissing quietly out of the machine after every audible clunk. The pile is already forty-some pages high, and there are still ten to go. "Scan and turn," she mutters. Resting her chin in her hand, she closes her eyes and tries to stave off the inevitable boredom that comes with making copies. It would have been easy if not for the quiet clicking sound that starts up. She tries to ignore it at first, thinking it's a malfunction. But still the machine continues puttering along while the clicking becomes more intense and louder as the seconds pass. At last, it reaches the point of being obnoxious and Adagio opens her eyes to find a familiar yet foreign face stares back at her. "Fascinating," the purple girl mumbles, glancing between the blonde and a strange looking device in her hand. Pursing her lips, the stranger adjusts her glasses and fixes her gaze on Adagio. "Are you a student at Canterlot High?" "For the time being," Adagio sighs, giving the girl a curious look. "Why?" "Investigation," the girl responds, pulling out a notebook and jotting something down. "Do you mind if I ask you if you've been involved in any strange occurrences lately?" Adagio snorts, "My entire life is a strange occurrence." Another surprised sound from the girl as she continues to take notes. "Do you mind, I'm trying to make copies here." "Of course," the girl smiles, digging around in her pocket. "I didn't mean to intrude, but you caught my interest. If you get a chance, give me a call, okay?" The girl hands over a card to Adagio before giving a short wave and walking off. Glancing down at the card, the blonde's bored expression falters. Adagio follows the retreating girl with her eyes, clutching the card tight in her fist. "Twilight Sparkle" What interest does this girl have in the Dazzling House? -20- "Headed out again." "Okay, bye Aria!" Sonata cheers, waving to her friend as the door closes. After a moment, the blue girl turns and trots over to Adagio's room. "Hey, Addy, where do you think Aria goes?" "Already had this conversation." The blonde's tone is flat as she thumbs through another book. "Still don't care." With a tired sigh, Sonata ignores the obvious irritation and hops up onto Adagio's desk. The Dazzling leader purses her lips and then closes the book, giving her friend her full attention. "You aren't still mad, are you?" "Why would I be? Aria's entitled to her own feelings, wrong as they may be." Huffing, Adagio crosses her arms over her chest. "Eventually she'll realize that I do everything with our best interests in mind." Sonata makes a small grunting sound, clearly unconvinced. As she kicks her legs back and forth, she approaches the question from another angle. "Since Aria's always going out at weird times, do you think she found a boyfriend? Wouldn't that be neat?" "Ha, please. Aria's so bitter that any boy that stands too close to her for too long ends up looking like they bit into a lemon." "That's not very nice to say..." Sonata frowns, giving a heavy sigh. "It would be nice to try and win over a boy in town though, without singing I mean. A real change of pace." "I don't really see the point," Adagio grunts and flips her book open again. "We're going to leave here eventually, so it hardly seems worth the time." There's a lengthy pause as Sonata stares at the blonde. At last, Adagio sighs and rubs her forehead. "Are you asking permission?" Sonata bobs her head, earning another tired sigh. "Fine, feel free to try and charm a boy. Just remember that we can't play by our own rules anymore." Biting down on her lower lip, Sonata squeals and rushes off to her room. Adagio rolls her eyes and goes back to studying. A night of normal teenage concerns in the Dazzling house. -21- "No, no, no, that's terrible!" Aria scowls at the man in front of her as she is interrupted yet again. He gives a dismissive wave of his hand while the frown on his face deepens. "You're not feeling it, I can tell. It's all glitter and no UMPH!" "Great," Aria rolls her eyes and glares at the man, "but is it really necessary to thrust your hips every time you say that?" "Don't tell me you're intimidated." "I'm not!" "Then why don't you just take a moment to cool your jets and we'll start all over again." Huffing, the disgruntled diva nods and walks over to the water cooler. The fluid is refreshing after a hard day's work, but she's still not done yet. Maybe today she can get this moron off her back for good and start doing some important things. After a few minutes, the destressed Dazzling moves back to her former position. Taking up her spot, she takes a deep breath. "Okay now hold." Setting her lips into a thin line, she lets the man walk up behind her. Aria suppresses an unwelcome shiver as his hands rest over her still slightly swollen paunch. He drags a finger down her middle and she does as she's been instructed, forcing the air deeper into her lungs. The man's voice is low and quiet when he speaks. "Okay, now let it out." And Aria opens her mouth, singing a single, sustained note. The familiar sound echoes in her ears as the acoustics catch hold and send it back to her. A smile tugs at the corners of her lips and her eyes close, riding the wave. At last she can sustain the note no longer, and her shoulders sag as she goes quiet. "Super," the man chuckles, giving Aria a firm pat on the back. "It's a little rough, but you've certainly got a beautiful voice, like you said. How do you feel?" Grinning, Aria rights herself and flicks her pigtails behind her shoulders. "That you still owe me ten minutes on my hour. Get back to teaching." A girl's dreams are a powerful motivator. How long can she keep her secret from the rest of the Dazzling house? -22- Adagio's boots click against the sidewalk as she makes her way home from the library. Pressing her thumb against her lip, she mutters to herself. "Sonta's got practice this afternoon, and Aria made a point to tell me that she'll be home for dinner tonight. Perhaps beans and rice?" The girl clicks her tongue, toying with a strand of her returning hair. "No, then Sonata will ask about tacos, which means cheese and avocados; not to mention the meat." Huffing, the Dazzling debutant stops in her tracks and presses two fingers to her forehead. Or she would have, until another body crashes into her back and sends her reeling. Stumbling forward, Adagio whirls and glares at the colossal klutz. "Apologies," a familiar voice says, the purple girl adjusting her glasses and giving Adagio a stern frown. "I didn't expect you to stop so abruptly." Adagio's lip curls as she narrows her eyes. "Sparkle. What brings you here?" "You never called," Twilight says flatly, rummaging about in her hand-purse before pulling out a card with a flourish and pressing it into the girl's hand. "I wanted to be sure that you didn't lose my number." "Why would I want to call you?" "Because I wish to engage in dialogue." "And if I don't want to talk?" Twilight pauses, pursing her lips and furrowing her brow. As Adagio taps her foot, the purple girl adopts a contemplative look, glancing left and right before snapping her fingers and pointing at Adagio. "Because you have questions you can't answer." "And you can?" Adagio's lip curls into a sneer. "Forgive me for not believing you would be of any help." With a flick of her wrist, the blonde turns to strut away. "Do you really think that looking into the occult will give you an answer?" Adagio freezes at Twilight's comment. "What did you say?" "I said you're wasting you're time," Twilight says. "Spirits and magic aren't going to give you answers. You need an analytical mind." "And you think you're smart enough?" "Of course." Twilight smirks, adjusting her glasses. "Study of the strange and unusual is my life." Adagio frowns for a moment before taking out her phone. After a quick text, she follows Twilight down the street. No meal waiting for the girls tonight at the Dazzling house. -23- Sonata purses her lips and frowns at the boy in front of her. "So, what you're saying is you -won't- go out with me?" "Not a chance," the glasses wearing boy snorts and slams his locker closed. Turning away, he waves her off. "You're a menace after all." Pouting, Sonata crosses her arms under her chest and glares down at the ground. This dating stuff was harder than the TV made it out to be. Still, she couldn't give up hope. With her resolve steeled, she clenches her fist and does a double arm pump by her waist. "I'm going to get me a boyfriend!" A sharp laugh causes the determined expression to fall off her face. Whirling, Sonata finds herself face to face with Cloud Chaser, one of the top members of the track team, flanked on either side by two other members. "I think you need to wake up, klutz, because you're dreaming." Still smiling, CC brings a finger to her chin, tapping it twice. "I heard that you'd been getting around, but seeing you get rejected is the best!" Clenching her fist, Sonata takes a deep breath and settles her nerves. Stepping forward, she adopts as fearless a smile as she can manage. "It's just a little road bump; I'm sure that I'll eventually land a great boyfriend!" "Psh, as if." "Oh?" Sonata smiles, trying very hard not to lunge at her teammate. "Is that why your boyfriend was checking out my legs when I asked him out earlier?" CC's face drops in an instant. She scowls, her brow scrunching up as she steps towards Sonata. The flanking girls follow in stride, until they're all but chest to chest with the Dazzling. CC's smirk returns, a menacing glint working its way into her eyes. "You think you're really something, don't you, freak?" A strong exhale punctuates the final syllable, making Sonata flinch a little. In the background, she can see students staring, but no one is coming to help. Then again, why should they? She'd done wrong by them. The smart thing to do would be to back down. Glancing away, Sonata sighs as the girls laugh. "If you’re really that set on getting a boyfriend who will pity you, maybe you should set your sights lower. Like Snips or Snails; they’d be right up your alley. C'mon girls." As the runners turn with another string of giggles, Sonata clenches her fist and whispers, " I'm not known for being smart though..." "Hu-" CC begins to turn back towards her, but Sonata beats her to the punch. Reaching out, the Dazzling grabs a handful of the track star's towering hair and pulls downward. Cloud Chaser falls to the ground, shouting in pain. The other girls stare for a moment before lunging at Sonata. The blue girl yelps as her head hits against the lockers, leaving her dazed. Opening her eyes, she sees Cloud Chaser leering at her. "Oh, it's on now." The one-sided tussle is quickly broken up and the girls separated. Sitting inside the principal's office, Sonata takes a look at the scratches and bruises beginning to make themselves known. Of course she got the short end of the stick. "Stupid, stupid, stupid." Closing her eyes, she waits for Principal Celestia to walk in and tell her the punishment. It doesn't take long for the leggy woman to open the door and take her seat behind the table. "Sonata," Celestia says in a quiet voice, steepling her fingers, "this is twice that you've gotten in trouble with your teammates. And the second time you've started conflict with them." The words hang in the air for several moments as Celestia glares at her student. Sonata continues staring at the ground, knowing full well she's asking for her side of the story. But the fact is that she's right. Even if those girls are jerks, it's all her fault. "...Very well," Celestia sighs. "Then I've got no choice but to suspend you from after school activities for the foreseeable future." "Okay," Sonata bobs her head. "And I've decided you need a mentor to keep an eye on you." "What?" Sonata bounces up, scowling. "I-I'm a grown girl, I can take care of myself!" "Clearly not. You need a steady hand aside from Adagio to keep you in line, so I've decided to bring in a student who has some experience with what you're going through." "This is so stupid!" "It may be, but I'm not bending on this, Sonata." "But!" The door clicks and both women turn. Celestia smiles as Sonata's jaw drops. "Good, you're here. Sonata meet your mentor." The girl in question extends her hand. "I know we've already gone through this once, but we should try make a fresh start. Hi Sonata, my name is Sunset Shimmer." The redhead takes Sonata's hand and smiles. "I hope we can work together to make your stay at Canterlot High as pleasant as possible." Sonata stares at their clasped hands before looking back up at the smiling Sunset. Another unusual development for the girls of the Dazzling house. -24- "How long has it been since we all ate together?" The table lapses back into silence after Adagio's question. The curly-haired leader frowning as she watches Sonata prod at her broccoli with her fork, pushing it around the plate and not making any effort to eat it. Aria's not much better, the end of the fork dangling from where she holds the prongs between her lips. With a sigh, Adagio tries again. "Well, it's been weeks. How have you girls been?" "Okay." "Fine." Gulping, Adagio reaches for her fork. "Everything's going well with the track team then, Sonata?" "It's okay. A lot of hard work." "I'm sure. And everything's all right with you too, Aria?" "Down three pounds since I stopped sneaking food." "Wonderful," Adagio sighs, noting that neither Dazzling bothered to look up when they spoke. The atmosphere in the room has grown to the point where it's impossible to ignore. After a moment, she gets to her feet and moves to the sink. The eyes of the girls rest on her as she packs up what's left of her dinner and cleans her dishes off. Tossing the saved meal in the fridge, she forces a smile and turns to her friends. "Well, this meal has certainly been enlightening. I've got work, but when you girls are ready to sit and eat like we used to, you let me know. Until then, I'm sure you'll be able to throw something together on your own." "Aw, Addy," Sonata pouts, "we didn't mean an-" "Let her throw her fit," Aria says with a grumble, her eyes meeting Adagio's. "It's pretty clear something's under her skin." Stomping over to the table, Adagio grabs the pig-tailed girl by her shirt and gives a firm shake. "My skin? I don't know what's gotten into you girls, but all I do is tiptoe around and I'm sick of it. So until you're ready to come clean with what's going on, I'm completely ignoring you both." "Same to you," Aria snaps, stunning Adagio before she huffs and storms to the door. It slams, leaving a cold air of dread within the halls of the Dazzling house. -25- "So, Addy was pretty mad." Aria rolls her eyes as Sonata trots down the street behind her. It had been two days since the blow up and, true to her word, Adagio had been cold. Colder than usual at least. "I wouldn't worry too much about it," she sighs, waving her hand. "Underneath that vicious exterior, Adagio's all bluff." "Kinda like how you're fuzzy-wuzzy once you get past the prickly exterior?" Sneering, the purple girl glares back at her friend. Sonata giggles and bounces on the balls of her feet. "So~rry!" "Whatever." Rolling her eyes, Aria glances around the street. They're approaching the studio, but Sonata can't know about her secret lessons. Her voice, it's still too rough. Thinking quickly, she turns to her friend. "Shouldn't you be at practice?" Sonata visibly stiffens, earning a confused smirk from the grumpy girl. But just as quickly she shakes it off and laughs. "Practice was cancelled today, you goof! I told you that!" "No you didn't." An audible gulp as Sonata's eyes shrink to pinpricks. "Y-yes I did...?" Bingo. Wetting her lips, Aria brings a hand up to her forehead and squints beyond Sonata. "Oh, so why is Cloud Chaser walking towards us, looking so mad?" A breathy squeal escapes Sonata's lips as she turns around. Holding back a laugh, Aria quickly bounds out of sight. After a moment of frantic searching, Sonata calms down and turns back. "Hey, CC isn- aw, darn it! Aria!" She hurries further down the street, searching for some sign of her friend. Finding nothing, the pony-tailed siren pouts and kicks at the ground. "That's not fair." Quickly becoming absorbed in scuffing her boots against the sidewalk beneath her, Sonata misses the girl in the leather jacket scrawling in a journal as she watches the siren make her way back home. Back to the Dazzling house. -26- "Order up!" Adagio grabs the plates from the counter before hurrying back out onto the floor, rolling her way through the crowded dining room. Two young men sit at the table, their eyes lingering as she approaches. "Let's see," the blonde purrs, making a show of seeming thoughtful before placing the dishes in front of them. "One medium-rare filet mignon with portobello and a mushroom sauce, and a chicken brisket with wild rice and beans. Anything else?" The two men look at each other and chuckle. One reaches out and rests his hand on her waist. Adagio tenses under his touch. "I was thinking that maybe you could give us a little more attention. We're feeling awful lonely," the man teases, his fingers sliding down the curve of her back. Adagio's breath catches in her throat as she tries to suppress the discomfort in her belly. With a sigh, she smirks and leans over the table, pushing her rear out ever so slightly. The eyes of the room fall on her, and a small rush of control fills her. "Is that so?" she purrs, leaning a little closer to the grabby patron; her hand settling down near the plate. "What did you have in mind?" Despite the cool exterior, the man flinches under her teasing. To his credit, he clears his throat and tries to reassert his position. "W-well, I was thinking that maybe, we could, y'know..." his words are awkward, lacking confidence. The siren waits and, sure enough, the hand slides lower; off her waist and onto her hip. Adagio squeals and hops back in surprise, knocking his plate, along with the meat and mushroom sauce into the man's lap. He wails, grabbing at his crotch as Adagio brings her hands up to her mouth. "Ah! You stupid girl!" The manager appears in an instant and begins trying to set things right. Adagio glances around at the murmuring about the shouting man. The blonde holds back a smile. It ends in an early night for a tired waitress. Shy a few tips, but keeping her job, Adagio makes her way back home to the Dazzling house. -26- In the cafeteria, Sonata sits sulking, pushing her food across the plate. It was over a week ago that Adagio had instituted the ban and, as tensions had continued to grow, it began to take an impact on things at school. The trio no longer sat together, and since she could no longer lie to herself about her position in the track team, she had no place to sit. So, every day it was in the corner, out of sight of her friends. Truth be told she hated being alone; Sonata felt that she was at her best when she was part of a group. Too spaced out to lead, but with a steady hand she could be pointed in a direction and succeed. "It's too bad nobody except Adagio seems to notice that," she mutters, a smattering of peas escaping the styrofoam prison and rolling across the table. The siren is too far gone even to care. "Excuse me?" Sonata glances up and blanches as Sunset Shimmer smiles at her. "Mind if I join you?" "...A little." The redhead gives a sheepish grin, but sits down next to Sonata anyway. The pony-tailed girl scoots to the side a little, but she wasn't going to turn away company. Loneliness was a bitter ache after all. "Well, I couldn't help but notice that you've been sitting alone lately. Is everything okay?" "Not really. But why do you care?" "Because I know what it's like to be on the outside looking in." Sunset gives a small smile and places a hand on Sonata's shoulder. "I know how lonely it can be, especially when your friends get wrapped up in their own lives." Sonata bobs her head once, but continues to stare at the leather-clad girl with a somber expression. Giving a quiet laugh, Sunset continues. "And, to be honest, I don't want it to take another Act of Equestria for everyone in the school to realize that you, and maybe even the other Dazzlings, are really great people to get to know." The words hang in the air for a moment before Sonata asks, "Do, do you really think that they could learn to like me?" "I trashed the entire school," Sunset says with an embarrassed laugh. "It took a little while for them to come around, but eventually they forgave me for what happened, and now I have some of the very best friends in the world. And now I want to be able to share that experience with you." For a long moment, Sonata stays quiet. But then she nods her head and, with tears welling up in her eyes, she smiles at Sunset. "Okay. I'm sick of feeling like I don't belong here." "Great." With a flourish, Sunset takes a pen from behind her ear and quickly scrawls onto a sheet of scrap paper. "Meet me in this classroom after school." "Wait, what are we going to be doing?" Sonata asks, frowning as Sunset gets to her feet. Giving her a smile, the redhead winks. "Just be there. I promise that you won't regret it." "O-kay..." Still staring at the paper in her hand, Sonata misses Sunset as she waves goodbye to her. So absorbed is the siren that she misses the contorted face of Adagio as she stands a short distance away. "What are you up to, you sneaky unicorn?" Closing a door and opening a window, with a member of the Dazzling House. -27- Adagio flinches as another small surge of energy causes her forehead to tingle. The small circles pressed against her temples buzz with life before falling silent again. Twilight, her hair frazzled and in disarray, continues to keep her eyes on her computer. "Is this going to take much long-ah!" "Apologies," the bespectacled girl mumbles, "but we've nearly finished." "Thank goodness for that. I'm practically naked here." "That is incorrect; approximately fifty five percent of your body is still covered. You are far from naked." Sighing, the blonde attempts to ignore the gentle pulses of the nodes against her body. Twilight was right, but the crop top and shorts did little to make her feel comfortable. Goosebumps roll up her legs as the girl in the lab coat finally smiles. "Data gathering complete. It's as I predicted." "What is that, exactly?" Adagio frowns, her eye twitching a little as Twilight begins to remove the adhesive pads from her skin. "According to my previous experiments, there has been a surge of unexplained power in the area of Canterlot High on five different occasions. Three are relatively minor incidents and could be written off, but they proceed the remaining spikes, which cannot be ignored." Adjusting her glasses, Twilight grins and hands Adagio her coat. "While I am unable to point to what this energy may be at present, I know it exists." The Dazzling bites her tongue as she redresses. While the brainiac might be useful, there's no reason to tell her anything more than what she has to know. "So, what was this test for?" "To give support to my initial hypothesis." Twilight puts herself nose to nose with the blonde, oblivious to the girl's flinching. "Whatever that energy is, you have some of it in you. In truth, most of the students at the high school seem to have energy lingering around them, but it is much higher in you. Probably among the highest I've observed." A chill rolls down Adagio's spine. "So, what you're saying is that the m- rather, the energy spike, whatever it is, has left a mark on me?" "Exactly," Twilight smiles. "Whatever happened to you, something remains; it's roiling around deep inside of you, looking for some way out. A medium, of sorts." With an unsteady breath, Adagio meets the genius girl's eyes. "If," her voice catches, but she shakes her head and tries again. "If I were to bring you something that was left behind form the latest incident, do you think you could take a look at it?" Twilight leans back, adjusting the bridge of her glasses with her index finger. "If it's something that was involved in the energy spike, I must insist that you at least bring it by. Perhaps we can find some answer as to why these things are happening at Canterlot High." "And possibly replicate them?" "Of course," another smug smile slips across Twilight's lips, "what's the point of doing science if your data isn't testable?" Adagio bobs her head and bids her unexpected ally farewell. It's a long trip back home, but things are quiet when she gets back. Sneaking inside, she takes what's left of their necklaces and holds the fragments in her hands. Her mind whirrs as she considers the possibilities. Weighty decisions tonight at the Dazzling House. -28- Aria's eyes go wide as she stammers out, "W-what? An audition?" "I pulled some strings with a local agent," her vocal instructor sighs, waving his hand. "He's small time, but I thought that you would be more pleased. Although, if you're not feeling up to it-" "No way!" Aria squeaks, slapping her palms down onto the table. The bottles of water jump in response. "I, I mean, I'm totally on board with this, if you think that I'm ready." "Darling, you were born ready. It was just a matter of knocking that rust off." The two exchange small smiles before the instructor waves her onto the stage. "Now, no need to be anxious, but please sing me that song one last time. You know the one." Aria nods and moves to the center stage. After a moment's consideration, she taps out the beat for a few measures. By the time she starts, Aria can practically hear the brass accompaniment as she opens her mouth and purrs. "I put a spell on you; because you're mine," her voice dribbles out like liquid sugar; slow, weighty, sweet enough to make the instructor's heart ache, and offset by the concentrated creases making their way across her face. As she sings, Aria's hips begin to move on their own, an easy, leisurely rocking motion that brings a hint of a smile to her lips. This is where she belongs; on stage, utterly adored. The notes might not come as easily as they used to, but with concentration and effort, anything was possible. Indeed, so focused is Aria that she misses the flash of green that colors her instructor's eyes. A stupid smile slips across his face as he rests his cheek on his palm, letting the music caress every inch of him. Too soon, the song ends and he snaps out of his daze. He gives her the information for the audition, and wishes her the best. On her way home, Aria wrestles with what to tell the girls. "It would be best," she admits, "to let them in on my secret." Aria smiles at the thought. Finally, a chance for things to go back to normal at the Dazzling House. -29- "Bye-bye now, have a good day!" Sonata laughs, waving her arm over her head. The small students hurry off into the distance, leaving the siren smiling as Sunset walks up beside her. "It's been a couple days since you started. So, was I right?" "Mhmm!" Sonata squeals, bouncing on her heels. "I had no idea that being around little kids would be so exciting! They're really goofy sometimes, but smart too." "It's a nice way to spend an afternoon," Sunset agrees, moving away and beginning to clean up the classroom. As the last child disappears around the corner, Sonata joins her. "So how did you get involved in after school tutoring?" "Well, I had a lot of students mad at me at the high school, and for good reason. I'd done so many things to hurt them over the course of two years that it was really difficult for them to forgive me." Frowning, Sonata bobs her head. "I know that feeling." Knocking some worksheets against the desk, Sunset smiles, "But the younger students didn't know me like that and so our relationships were rather normal. Even if they heard some of what I'd done, they were much quicker to forgive, because they saw I was trying to change for the better." After a moment, Sunset adds, "It really helped me stay level-headed while I was trying to make a new niche for myself at CH. Without these kids, I might have fallen back into bad habits." Sonata nods again, wiping down the tables. "So, do you think it will work for me?" "I hope so. I know it's tough being on everyone's hit list, but knowing that these kids are so excited to see me helps keep my temper in check. I thought it might do the same for you." "Yeah." Sonata closes her eyes as she smiles. "It's only been a couple days, but I think I'd miss their happy faces if I had to stop." "I'm pretty sure they'd miss you too," Sunset laughs, earning a confused look from the Dazzling. "Don't tell me you haven't noticed. When you read to them, they're hanging on every word. They adore you." A blush works its way across Sonata's cheeks as she giggles. In short order, the room is set back as it should be and the two girls lock up for the afternoon. As they walk outside, Sunset turns to the siren. "It's probably not worth as much as the attention the kids give you, but I want you to know that I'm here for you, Sonata. You, and your friends as well. I don't know why you three stuck around, but I'd like to help you, all of you, get acclimated to Canterlot High as normal students." "I wonder if that's really possible," Sonata sighs, but smiles all the same. "To be honest, I kind of like not having to worry about magic and everything else. But the other students..." "Will come around in time; trust me. It might seem impossible now, but before you know it the three of you will be fitting in as well as anyone else. Just stick with it and remember that I'm here for you. And hopefully I can get the Rainbooms on board as well." Sonata smiles, her mind drifting away as she considers what Sunset said. After so long, the opportunity to live a normal, human life is very appealing. To live, to laugh, to love; it all sounds so wonderful. Maybe she could get the other girls to join her next time? Aria would probably pout and scowl the whole time, but Adagio might enjoy herself. She takes care of the house, so why wouldn't she enjoy the company of children? With a smile on her face, Sonata says her goodbyes and hurries home, her mind whirring as she tries to piece together the perfect, impossible to deny, offer. Her light heart and mind give her feet wings as she moves almost without touching the pavement. Dreams of sharing a teenage life, carrying her back to the Dazzling House. -30- "Absolutely not." Adagio scowls, crossing her arms over her chest and adding, "It's a ridiculous notion to even consider." Across the table, Aria grits her teeth; her hands clutching tightly to the overhanging lip. After a moment, she averts her eyes to the table top, hissing through her teeth, "Adagio, this is important to me. Really important!" "And so is this," the blonde snaps back. "It's a chance for us to go home. Or at least open the door to that possibility." "I don't want to go home!" Aria shouts, slamming her fist down on the table. Adagio scowls as she takes a step back, away from the rattling dishware. The pigtailed girl’s shoulders heave as she takes several deep breaths. Her body shudders and she can't keep her voice from trembling. "I don't care about any of that right now. All I know is that you two need to come with me tonight." Pinching the bridge of her nose, Adagio sighs and clears her throat. "It's just an audition, Ar-" but the girl in question bounces back into the fight yet again. "It's not about the audition!" "Okay, okay!" Sonata butts in with a high-pitched laugh. "Let's just, take a minute to calm down." "I am calm," Adagio grumbles, watching as Aria grits her teeth and turns her back on the other two girls. "I just think there are more important things to be concerned with at present." “Right, just follow behind Adagio; like always.” Sonata whimpers a little as the curly-haired girl stiffens and leans forward again. “You have a problem with me leading?” “I’ve always had a problem with it.” “Huh? How about you turn around and say that to my face?” Stomping her foot, Aria plants herself and spins, gripping the table again for support. The two girls lean across it, glaring at one another. “Of course I have a problem with it! You’re the one who got us exiled from Equestria in the first place. You’re the one who had us stay in hiding for so long. You’re the one who brought us to Canterlot High, and you’re the one who keeps obsessing over going back.” Taking a few steps back, Sonata glances between her friends as Aria fires off the first volley. But Adagio isn’t about to be outdone. “I did what was necessary to survive. I may have miscalculated in Equestria, but everything I’ve done for you and Sonata since has been with the intention of getting us back where we belong. This isn’t our world, Aria; you shouldn’t be getting attached to it since we’ll be leaving soon.” “That’s what you’ve been saying for years, Adagio. It’s always one more lead to explore, one more rambling hobo to track down. The whole time that we’ve been here, we could have been using our powers to make a life for ourselves.” “Ludicrous,” Adagio snorts. “The magic would have run out before we could have done anything worthwhile.” “Then we could have practiced! I,” Aria finally pauses for a moment, her eyes brimming with tears as she chokes on the words, “I’ve worked really, really hard at this, Adagio. You girls gave me a second chance, and so I put my heart, my soul, everything into learning how to sing without the magic. And I’m good! Good enough to get an audition at least.” The room lapses into silence as the purple-haired girl coughs. After several seconds, she looks up and gives a quiet plea, “Adagio. Just this once, let me be the lead.” Furrowing her brow, the blonde shakes her head and steps away from the table. “It’s not happening, Aria.” “But why!?” Throwing her arms out to the side, Aria makes no attempt to hide the plaintive note still ringing in her voice. “Why do we need to do this stupid, stupid crystal stuff tonight?” “Because we’re in a race against time,” Adagio says in an even, distant tone as her heart thuds in her chest. What little magic she feels still inside her seems to be bursting at the seams to escape. “It’s been months since the battle of the bands. If there’s any magic left, it won’t be there for long. And once it’s gone…” Snorting, the blonde shakes her head and glances over her shoulder. “It has to be tonight, Aria. There’s no room to fight about this; just accept it.” The pig-tailed girl stares for a moment and then sets her lips into a scowl. With a huff, she storms out of the room, bumping her shoulder against Adagio as she leaves. Without batting an eye, Adagio calls after her. “I’ll be expecting you, Aria.” Around the corner, the door opens. “I’ll text you the address!” The whole house shakes as the door slams shut. With a click of her tongue, Adagio crosses her arms again and glares into the hall. “I can’t count on her, I suppose,” she mutters, turning her attention to the blue-haired girl beside her. “But you, you’ll be there right? Together, we can set ourselves back on the road to Equestria. We can drag Aria along with us when the time comes, even if she doesn’t want to come along.” Sonata grins and gives a small nod. “Of, of course we can.” Sighing, Adagio struts over to the table and taps a finger against the top of it. “I guess setting up for a meal at home was a waste after all. Sorry about that.” “That’s fine,” the peppy Dazzling says with a small laugh. “I wasn’t really looking forward to watching Aria eat with her mouth open anyway.” Adagio joins in with a smile and a giggle, kicking one leg up behind her as she stares off into space. “It’ll be a little difficult with just the two of us,” she mutters, “but, since it’s her, I’m certain that she’ll be able to make up the difference.” With an affirmative nod and girlish grunt from Sonata, Adagio turns and walks out of the kitchen. “I need a couple minutes to cool down though, maybe take a shower and wash the filth off. I’m sure by the time we get started tonight Aria will have realized how silly this pipe dream of hers really is and will be completely on board.” “I’m sure,” Sonata echoes back. “Good girl, I can always count on you to be in my corner. Give me a little bit to freshen up and we’ll head out.” As she makes for the bedroom, Sonata’s voice causes Adagio to pause in her tracks. “Hey, the three of us, we’ll always be the best of friends, right?” “Of course,” Adagio glances back over her shoulder and grins. “Even through the bad times, though we might try each other’s patience, we’ll always be together.” Sonata peeks around the corner, her hands gripping the edges as she whispers, “…No matter what?” “No matter what.” With a flourish, Adagio sweeps her way back into her bedroom. A minute later, the shower kicks on, filling the house with a quiet hissing sound. In the kitchen, Sonata stands alone. “No matter what,” she murmurs to herself, her fingers shaking even as she clenches her fist. “N-no matter what, I love you, Addy.” A quiet buzz from the phone in her hand snaps her back to reality. Sonata checks the message and dons a relieved smile. She hurries back to her room, and before the water cuts off, the door to the house has opened and closed again. Betrayals of trust: the special tonight at the Dazzling House. -31- Aria's short heels clack against the steps as makes her way down from the stage. Like the venue it's rather small, but large enough to fit those who mattered. ...If they had bothered to come. "Aria Blaze, right?" the smarmy looking man in the front row says, smirking. With one hand jammed in his pants pocket, he fiddles with a button on his suit before continuing. "That was really something. Are you sure you haven't performed before?" "A little," the pig-tailed girl grins. "But nothing too big; I'm just a girl trying to make it in the world." The agent nods and moves his hand from his jacket to his chin. "I suppose so, it's a little hard to have a comeback when you're still in high school. But I'm impressed; I could probably book you sight unseen just between the tape you sent me and this audition." Aria smirks and lets the agent run his mouth for a little while as she lets her eyes drift around the small hall. Aside from a few stragglers, there's no sign of her friends. With a click of her tongue, Aria focuses back in on the rambling man. "So, I'll draw up some paper work and we can go over it in a few days, but I'm confident that we'll both be satisfied." He extends his hand and Aria takes it without hesitation, a sharp grin on her lips as she adds, "I'm certain of it." As the two separate, the agent hands her a small card and smirks. "Call me if you need anything before we finalize the paperwork. I'm here for you after all, baby." With a small grunt, Aria turns away and moves towards the green room. It's cramped and run down, but serves well enough to keep undesirables out. Fishing out her phone, the purple-haired girl checks her messages and hisses through her teeth. "Adagio..." Scowling, she pulls the card out and quickly dials the number. A short burst of foot-taps later and the voice on the other end picks up. "Hey, you said I could call you for anything, right? I need a place to crash for a little while." --- "I'm really happy that you decided to come over," Sunset Shimmer smiles, holding out a glass of water to Sonata. "Are things getting difficult over at the house or-" Cutting her off with a shake of her head, Sonata smiles. "Mm, it's not like that. Adagio and Aria had a little fight, but they'll work through it; they always do." "I'll take your word for it, you know them better than I do." Shrugging, Sunset stretches her legs out and reclines across the couch. "No offense, it's just that you three sound like you're pretty rough on each other." "I guess, but it's not all bad." Sonata bumps her feet together as she stares up at the ceiling. "Adagio really cares for us, and Aria's determined to see things through." The two girls lapse into silence, but the redhead is quick to roll over and smile at the Dazzling. "It's good to have friendships like that, huh?" Sonata bites her lip and nods. "Yeah, it's the best; I always feel well taken care of when I'm around them. Like everything will be okay." Sunset gives an affirmative sound before Sonata's phone chirps at her. Pulling the handheld out, she furrows her brow as she reads and then begins hammering out a message in response. Leaning over, the Rainboom frowns. "Everything okay?" "Yeah," she responds, though her frown doesn't disappear as Sonata continue to hammer the same button again and again. After a few seconds more, she huffs and drops the phone beside her. "Sunset? Do you mind if I stay here for tonight? My phone's acting crazy and I don't feel like walking home with it like this." "Huh? Sure! Just give me a couple minutes." Sonata nods and mutters her thanks as Sunset leaves the room before pulling her knees to her shoulders. A small tremor works it's way up from the center of her body and all the way out to her limbs. "Addy. You liar." --- Adagio collapses on her bed, the springs groaning in response. She gives a plaintive whimper as the weight of her own body finally leaves her feet, opting to drown herself face first into her pillow. From behind her, the sound of hands rubbing against one another echoes in the quiet house. "Not bad for a first night," Twilight sighs. "Although it would have been better if it had been more than just the two of us." "Quit complaining, we both got what we wanted," Adagio mutters back. Digging through her pocket, she pulls out a small red gemstone and holds it in the brilliant girl's direction. "You got to see some magic, and I got this back." Rolling onto her back, Adagio moves the stone over her head and stares at it. Her rather bland expression quickly shifts to one of irritation and she closes her hand around the rock with a snort. "I just can't believe that I had so little magic left in me. That this pitiful pebble is all we could get... it's shameful." Sitting on the edge of the bed, Twilight looks over at the poofy-haired Dazzling and smirks. "Don't get disheartened yet; according to my calculations you still have a fair bit left inside you. The issue is, how do we get it out?" "Is that why you want me to keep the stone nearby?" Adagio asks as she sits up. Twilight bobs her head in response. "Most of the loss seems to be passive in nature. If the stone is all that you claim it to be, then your 'magic' should be drawn to it. If so, we should be able to increase capacity once it reaches a certain point." "Which is why you're holding onto the other shards." "For security and study," Twilight says with a smirk. "But don't worry about that. Come by again tomorrow, we'll begin to take measurements." Adagio says nothing, though Twilight doesn't wait for a response. As the door closes behind the brainy girl, Adagio pulls out her phone and glares at the screen. The message to two blocked numbers is burned into her brain by this point. Still, she whispers them to herself all the same. "Don't bother coming home." Tossing the phone to the side, Adagio gives a quick snort and grabs her pillow. Hugging it close to her chest, the Dazzling rolls onto her side and clenches her eyes shut. "I don't need them," she whispers, still holding the stone tight in one hand. "It's a solo show, from now on." Three girls, brought together by misfortune and circumstance. It seems that these two traits aren't yet done with them. Together they faced down the terrors and joys of a normal life, but this place where they lived their days together is now silent and empty. A cold, lonely night in Adagio's house. -32- "Sonata?" "Hm?" Brushing her bangs out of her eyes, Sonata glances across the room. The gentle brush of her hair against the back of her neck makes her smile, which only widens as she catches sight of Sunset Shimmer waving to her. "Wrap it up, it's time to head home." "Right-io!" she chirps, turning back to the younger student. "Well, I guess that's it for today." The boy's eyes snap up from her side of the table, a blush evident on his face. "Y-yuh, I guess so," he mutters, slamming his book shut and jamming it into his backpack. "See you tomorrow!" As he scampers out of the room, Sonata sighs and leans back in her chair. Sunset stalks over, tugging gently on her collar. "So do you enjoy taunting these poor boys?" "A little," the siren admits, reaching down and buttoning the top of her shirt again. "But really, it's just so sticky anymore. I don't know how you can stand it." "You get used to it," Sunset smiles, turning towards the door. "Come on, let's get something to eat." The two girls lock up the study room and begin the long walk back to Sunset's apartment. Despite the thick, heavy air around them, Sonata's steps are light. At least until Sunset starts talking again. "So, it's been five months," she says with a cool, even tone. Sonata grunts in response, hoping to defuse the situation. It doesn't work. "How are things between you and the other Dazzlings?" After a moment of silence, Sonata shrugs. "We're still not talking," she admits, "but I don't know if I'd be able to if we were." A pause, and the spunky girl frowns. "You're not getting sick of me, are you?" "Hm? Of course not!" Sunset laughs. "It's nice to have someone who understands what I've gone through. The same for you too, right?" Sonata grins and bobs her head. "Yeah. I really feel like my whole outlook's changed since I left the house. I feel really independent for the first time." >>21697580 The girls smile at each other and lapse into silence. The quiet sounds of their shoes against the pavement echo around them, before Sunset finally turns and frowns. "Do you miss it though? Living with Adagio and Aria?" Biting down on her lip, Sonata puffs out her cheeks and looks away. Making small, thoughtful sounds with her tongue, she finally huffs and shrugs. "Aria and Adagio dropped out at about the same time. The only time I see Aria is on promotional flyers and Adagio's just disappeared." After a moment, Sonata asks, "So, does it really matter?" "I suppose not. Just thought that I would ask." Concern for her well being; Sunset was always good about making sure that she was okay. A far cry from the Dazzling's last encounter together. Sonata huffs and crosses her arms under her chest. Stupid Aria. Stupid Adagio. They couldn't get along and now everyone was broken up and scattered all over the place. And they'd wanted here to choose between them! Rubbing at her eyes, Sonata gulps and hurries to catch up with her redheaded roommate. It was time for dinner after all, and then back to the apartment for the night. Things were normal. Things were good. And yet, as she pulls her hair up off her neck and into a short ponytail, the former Dazzling finds herself wanting more. Still, it was okay; she could just make new friends. Better friends. Friends like Sunset. Friends that one day might help her fill the house-sized hole those two left in her heart.