Make A Mistake With Me - Chapter 5: Goodbye Old, Welcome New - by MistakeAnon
>”HEAAAAT OF THE MOMENT!” >Your hand flies out from under the covers before you even realize it, and hits the snooze button. >Goddamn alarm clock. >Even though it was Saturday, it still plagued you. >Why oh why would you even set it for Saturday? >Had you lost all track of time? >”SHONE IN YOUR EYEEEEEEEES!” >What. >You stare at the bludgeoned radio alarm clock on your night stand with bloodshot eyes. >But no matter how hard you stare, you can still hear it. >Oh god. >Asia is finally having its revenge. >You throw the covers back over your head and wait for the inevitable assault by flamboyant British has-beens. >The end times are here. >The only thing worse would be the inevitable KISS reunion that follows. >”Rise and shine, Nonny!” >Huh? >That doesn’t sound like John Wetton. >That sounds like… >Sonata. >Once again the covers fly off, and you direct your thousand yard stare at the siren rummaging through your fridge. >Next to her, on the kitchen table, your trusty radio has betrayed you and is currently playing the best of mullet-rock. >You can see that empty head of hers bopping to the rhythm as she hums the tune. >As she does, the mystery contents of your fridge are being deposited to a trash bag one by one. >No. >Nononononono! ”What!” >Like a particularly grumpy tiger, you jump from your bed and lunge at the blue goof currently disposing your week old tacos. >”A-Anon?? We hugging first thing in the morning?” >Like a baby baboon she clings to you, mistaking your ire for affection. >Well whatever. >Makes her easier to throw out. >”Wait, too tight! I know I’m adorable, but ease up, Anon!” >You fight against the urge to German Suplex and instead drag Sonata to the door and ram it open, ready to use her as a bowling ball. >Too bad the pins that wait you on the other side are Aria and Adagio. >”Good morning, Anonymous.” >You admit, even you know you make quite a sight. >You’re standing in the doorway, eyes bulging and with a particularly bad case of bedhair, with Sonata clinging onto you like some sort of crazed koala. >Koala wearing spats, sports bra and a hoodie for some reason. >Sexy, yes, but it was far too early to be aroused. >You came home around 4am last night, with your knuckles and muscles sore. >And now you’re face-to-face with Adagio and Aria in similarly casual clothes. >The other is holding a bucket and a mop. >The other is carrying a vacuum. >Silent alarms start ringing in your head. “… What the hell?” >You croak out the first coherent words of today. >Jesus, your throat feels like you went twelve rounds with a whiskey bottle. >Which you might have done, judging by the stench of your breath. >What time did you fall asleep again? >”I believe the correct term is ‘intervention’?” >Adagio smiles smugly as she waves the mop at you. >Screw the silent alarms. >Your head is singing Soviet national anthem right about now. “How. And why?” >Aria clicks her tongue, her eyes locked firmly at yours. >”I heard last night from Bobby that your place was dump. And surprise surprise, it’s even worse than I thought.” >Feeling a pang of shame, you kick away the nearest trash bag. >”Yeah! So we came to help you clean since it was Saturday!” “Thanks Sonata. Yell some more into my ear.” >”Don’t mention it, Nonny!” >Aria rolls her eyes. >”Anyways, outta the way. We’ve got work to do.” >Eyes still glued straight ahead with flushed cheeks, Purple Stuff forces her way into your apartment. >Just as you are about to ask what’s her problem, you notice Adagio cocking an eyebrow at you. >”Oh, and Anonymous?” “What?” >”Put some clothes on. You’re distracting Aria.” >Cursing heavily, you pry Sonata off your naked body and retreat to the bathroom. >”Anonymous?” “What.” >”Anyone ever tell you you look like Jared Padalecki when you haven’t shaved?” >Poking your head out of the bathroom, you snarl at Adagio while pulling your jeans on. “So what, you’re Gilmore Girls now?” >For your horror, Adagio seems to consider it for a minute. >Thankfully, she eventually shakes her head. >Which, incidentally, looks rather weird with her hair tied up. >”No, I was thinking more about that other show where he plays a main role. The one that Aria is obsessed about…” >If Purple Stuff had been embarrassed before, now she looked like she wanted to crawl up in that vacuum and die. >Or possibly beat Adagio to death with it. >One or the other. >Still, you can’t just let this revelation go. “Wait a minute. Fixing cars, listening to Led Zeppelin, and now that show? Aria, did you get stuck on a timewarp or something?” >”Oh shut up, Roadie! You’re even worse than me! You have a *mullet*!” >Ouch. >That actually hurt. >Staring at the mirror, you grimace at your own reflection. “You have a point. I should probably visit a barber soon.” >To your surprise, Aria pokes her head in after hearing that. >”… I didn’t say that.” “What?” >Now there’s a sour-looking face. >”Just keep it that way, idiot.” >Oooookay. >Not weird at all. >Sniffing various unwashed T-shirts, you finally find one that doesn’t smell of old whiskey. >Pulling it on, you take a last look at yourself from the mirror. >Maybe you really should shave. >But then again, it’s looking sorta nice… >Your musing is interrupted by Sonata’s bubbly yell. >”Nonny! Where do you want me to put your Hungry Hungry Hips DVDs?” “Oh, just stack them next to the TV, and I’ll—“ >You fly out of the bathroom, almost breaking the door and sound barrier as you do. “Don’t touch them!” >Shit. >Why did you have to leave your porn lying around? >”Hmh? Why? Something wrong?” >Sonata’s quizzical head-tilt belies her innocence. >Looks like she has no idea what sort of depravity lies under the unassuming DVD jackets. >… But looking at Aria’s disgusted face, she certainly does. >”Ugh. You’re the worst, Roadie.” “In this case, guilty as charged.” >No sense in making excuses about your personal perversions. It’s just part of your nature. >Oh, and speaking of which… >Why is Adagio looking so smug? >It’s like she just won Indie 500. All that is missing is the tacky trophy. >Even Aria seems to notice that, as she shoots another grimace towards the Poof. >”Stop over-swaying, Adagio. You’re gonna dislocate your waist.” >What? >Whatever Purple Stuff meant by that, it certainly worked. >Looking as stiff as a Robby the Robot, and walking rather similarly, Adagio clinks and clanks to the corner. >Fittingly enough, there’s almost 60 gallons worth of whiskey bottles there. “You know what, whatever. I don’t even wanna know. Gimme them.” >You snatch your DVDs from Sonata and stuff them to your backpack. >Seriously, why did you even buy them? >Who buys DVDs this day and age? >Fools who want otherworldly idiots finding them, apparently. “So, anyone wanna give me more explanation than just ‘intervention’? The hell it has to do with you if my apartment is filthy?” >You glare at the trio as you light up your first cigarette of the day. >No coffee to go with it, unfortunately. >Looks like Sonata’s idea of scrubbing the coffee maker was to fill it with water and dish soap and let it simmer. >As if that’d help. You’ve brewed stuff that’s 99% identical with tar in that. >Better get the sandpaper ready. “Besides, how did you even get in?” >Aria frowns at you. >”The hard way, no thanks to you. Since you were so busy sleeping, we had to break your lock, moron.” >You give a forlorn look at your door, which had put up a valiant effort to defend you. >Offering a final prayer to the lone knight that guarded you sleep, you shift your accusing glare to the trio of Sirens. “You couldn’t just ask my landlord to open it or something? Jesus.” >Aria makes an annoyed gesture. >”We tried. The only one there was that stoner daughter of hers, and she was being full Ziggy Stardust.” >Oh, right. The landlord was an old school hippie, wasn’t he? >And if you weren’t completely mistaken, his daughter was the local dealer. >Well, if she didn’t smoke her own stock completely. >… Wow. >It slowly dawns upon you, but you’ve surrounded yourself with the strangest people. >And not in a good way. >”A-ny-way! We came ‘cause we wanted to help you, Nonny! You’ve been helping us a lot lately, so we thought we’d pay you back!” >Sonata’s grinning from ear to ear, all the while destroying everything that’s not nailed down with that feather duster of hers. “Huh? Help? In what way, exactly?” >Adagio smirks at you, almost mockingly. >”The situation with the Rainbooms, our own interpersonal problems, that strange magic trap Sonata ran into… not to mention you’ve been staying after school and given us free music lessons.” >To your surprise, Aria elbows you with a grin. >”Face it Roadie, you’ve been a damn Good Samaritan recently. We need to reset the scale somehow.” >You give the trio a lopsided smile as you sit down, sweeping the takeaway meals from the table into the nearest trash bag. “Balance of Terror, huh? Seems as fitting to describe us as anything.” >Sonata giggles and nods, managing to strike down your CD-rack with her frantic movements. “Make that Balance of Error.” >You have to admit, the blue Goof’s adorableness points go up by 10 when she pouts. >It’s slightly worrying that teasing her has become something of a hobby to you. “Oh, actually, that reminds me. We’re adding a new country to our Axis of Evil.” >This causes a bit of a stir. >Even Sonata stops her wanton destruction. >”Hmh? What do you mean, Anonymous?” >It’s understandable that Adagio looks suspicious, so you give her a reassuring grin. “I’m talking about our plan regarding Rainbooms. We’ve found our first Outsider. That is, Gilda.” >This seems to take Poof a bit by surprise. >”Really now? I didn’t take Gilda for someone to get invested in other people’s business.” >For some reason, this makes Aria slap her hands together and cackle a bit maliciously. >”Oh, right. Of course.” >Taking a drag from your cigarette, you glance at her. “What? You know the reason?” >”Yeah. See, the way I’ve heard it, that girl used to be good friends with that musclebrained jock of Rainbooms, but the group drove a wedge between them or something. So, like, she’s gotta be taking this as a chance for revenge.” >Your eyes widen a bit in realization. >You did mention that the ‘project’ you enticed Gilda to had to do with CHS. >And that it had to do with helping Adagio. >Gilda must know about what happened between Rainbooms and Dazzlings during the Battle of the Bands. >After all, she helped Poof deal with her own anger problems. >So she must’ve guessed it… “Hah. So she’s wicked too. Fits right in, doesn’t she?” >As Adagio plugs the vacuum cleaner into the socket, she flashes a malicious smile. >”Oh you have no idea. I suggest you take a look at one of her old matches. That girl can be as brutal as a cassowary when she wants to.” >Your mind immediately conjures up an image of such hybrid. >Terrifying. >”Still, that’s great news, Nonny! The more the merrier, yeah?” >At least Sonata’s taking the idea of a new acquaintance well. >It’s a bit too early to say ‘friend’ yet, after all. >Though if you had to bet, you’d put your money on Aria to get closest to the boxer first. >Both have the certain air of… roughness, around them. >”By the way… Sonata? Where did you put rest of the detergents?” >Looking around, Adagio seems a bit puzzled. >Things are not helped by the fact that Sonata points at the damn coffee maker. >”There!” >A high-speed collision between a yellow hand and a yellow forehead is the result. >Trying to stifle a groan, Poof gives you a pleading look. >”Anonymous, if you could…” “Yeah, yeah. I got it. I need to pick up something to eat, anyways. My stomach is killing me.” >You finish up your cigarette and stump it to the ashtray. >You get up from your chair. >To your surprise, Aria follows en suite. “You coming too?” >”Y-yeah. I can get hungry too. Got a problem with that?” >You direct a confused look at the other two, but they aren’t exactly helpful. >Sonata’s too busy breaking your things to notice anything weird, and Adagio is too busy smirking mirthfully. >It’s like she’s enjoying some joke only she’s getting. >”Try not to be too long, though. I’d like to be finished with this today. Not to mention we have some… other things to do tonight.” >That’s right. >You were supposed to meet up with Strangelove later today. >Perhaps now you’d get some answers regarding that strange darkness that almost ate up you and Sonata. >”Yeah! And Adagio gets, like, super bummed when Nonny isn’t around!” >Sonata pipes in suddenly with that odd comment. >Adagio rewards her by swinging the vacuum cleaner at her head. >”Whoa! Careful, Dagi! My head’s not a trash!” >”Oh, I disagree!” >You sigh and glance at Aria. “Shall we?” >She rolls her eyes at the ensuing fight and nods. >”Yeah. The sooner the better.” >Escaping the sounds of ensuing chaos, you two slip out of the door and into the streets outside. >There, you’re greeted by a crisp morning chill that hints of the approaching winter. >You pull your jacket on tighter, only to realize that Aria’s wearing just a hoodie to keep her warm. >And sure enough, she looks like she’s freezing. >It takes a moment of wrestling with your conscience, but eventually it wins. >Without saying a word, you slide out of your jacket and plop it on her. >All the leather and fur should keep her warm. >Aria glares at you as you approach your car. >”This jacket stinks like tobacco. Seriously.” “You don’t have to wear it if you don’t want to.” >She grumbles, yet refuses to hand it back. >In fact, she snuggles a bit deeper into it, making herself look like an overly purple penguin in the process. >Chuckling, you open the door of your car and jump in, Aria sliding to the passenger seat. >You hurry to turn on the engine. While you were made of sterner stuff than Deep Purple here, you didn’t exactly like cold either. >Familiar rumble fills the air, and for a moment, your Buick roars in delight. >Time to head for the road again. “Feel free to pick some music. It’s a bit of a drive to the store.” >As you drive the Buick out of the parking lot and into the streets, Aria fumbles the glove compartment open, revealing your beloved collection of tapes. >She grimaces at the sight. >“Tapes? Really? Roadie, you need to update your music selection.” “Shut up. No USB-cable comes within thirty meters of this car. Remember that.” >”You’re stubborn about, like, strangest things, Roadie. It’s just—“ >For some reason, Aria momentarily freezes and stops talking. >She’s holding a tape. >Looks to be Rolling Stone’s Bigger Bang. >”Roadie? Whose handwriting is this? Ain’t no way you’ve got one so pretty.” >Your mind screeches to a halt, as do your tires. >The question caught you so off-guard that you nearly didn’t brake for the red light. >The car jumps and the tapes rattle, but Aria keeps her eyes firmly locked into you. >Shit. >Annoying feeling wells in your stomach, churning old and bitter memories. >Memories from years ago; years that you barely think about anymore. >Partly due to time, mostly due to choice. >The hum of the engine fills the engine, but it gives no relief. >The oppressive silence between the two of you grows longer and longer. >Each second you keep your lips shut, it becomes more awkward. >And naturally, Aria’s not about to just drop the subject. >So, when the light finally turns green and you push the pedal, putting your hand on the gearstick, you do the same in your mind. >You start talking. “Yeah… they aren’t mine. Most, at least. There might be some I recorded while drunk off my ass, but mostly it was her.” >Aria’s eyebrows seem to want to jump towards her hairline, but she keeps her frown. >”Her?” “A friend. From years ago. She was part of the band I was in. Adagio probably told you two about that, right?” >”Yeah. She did.” >Again, that unapologetic, annoying silence. >But this time, even Aria is conscious of its effects, so she pushes the tape in her hands to the player. >After hitting the play-button, a dry drum-beat reaches your ears. [Embed: Rolling Stones - Laugh, I Nearly Died] >With the music keeping the quiet at bay, you continue to drive. >Eventually, Aria opens her mouth again. >”So… Her.” “Yeah. Her.” >Aria’s brow tilts, and a frown takes over her face. >”You’re really something, you know that?” >You cock an eyebrow at her, puzzled by her accusing tone. >”Even after we told you everything, you keep secrets. No, not secrets. Not really. You just don’t talk. About anything. Everything we know we’ve had to dig up with a sharp shovel.” >You snort at the metaphor. “My past is hardly important for what’s going on now.” >”Then why do you keep wallowing in it like it’s all you have?” >You have to admit, that stung. >Aria slapped you once, in the past. But, still, those words might have stung even more. >You can’t hide the surprise on your face. “I’m not… I don’t…” >You can’t even come up with a proper response. >You just focus on driving like an idiotic fish, opening and closing your mouth without a sound. >”You keep acting like your past’s some big wound that festers. Well, guess what? We’ve all got our share of trouble we’ve gotten into. Just ‘cause something shitty happened doesn’t mean ‘now’ should be shitty.” >That’s one way to put it: shitty. >Something wavers within that dark pit in your mind, and for a moment, you see it again. >That fire. >That twisted metal. >That smell of burnt— “What does it matter? Let sleeping dogs lie, and all that.” >”It matters when it’s the reason you’ve got those dead eyes. You walk around like nothing matters. It’s why you ended up with losers like we were. It’s why you cooked up this insane plan against Rainbooms.” >Aria hugs her knees and stares forward. >”Stuff like that’s gonna get you killed, you know?” >… This is why you didn’t get along with Aria. >Well, not as well as with Adagio and Sonata. >Sonata was someone who you instinctively tried to protect. >Adagio was someone who stood as your equal. >But Aria, with her overbearing emotions… She could overpower you this easily. >And it scares you. >Momentarily, the face of Sunset Shimmer rises to your mind. >She wanted to help you, and that just raised your ire. >After all, the last thing you want is someone to try and ‘fix’ you. >But here, with Aria… it’s different. >You’re two individuals whom, as equals, decided to be friends. >So what she offers to you isn’t the pity of someone above you. >It’s an emotion called ‘worry’ that worms its way into every heart when they see their friends in trouble. >And against it, you have no defense. >You don’t want anyone to worry about you. >Or, well, most of the world can go to hell. >But you don’t want Aria, Adagio or Sonata to worry about you. >They’re your friends, so whatever pain they feel, you feel it too. >And so it just keeps on circulating like a particularly foul cigarette in a ring. >Suddenly, you hear odd shuffling on the seat next to you. >Aria’s pressing closer, so close you can feel her breath. >”You go around, not caring about anything. Your past keeps hurting but you stubbornly squish it against your chest to not let anyone see it.” >You can feel the burn of her eyes on you. >”And when you don’t care, you can do anything. Even help us. Even be a villain. Even if it hurts. Since you’re hurting all the time, aren’t you?” >The grip of her hand on your shoulder is strong. >”Anon. You should at least realize you’re worth *something*.” >And its squeeze is even stronger. >”And so should others.” >For some reason, those words make you shiver. >It’s a cold wave that goes through your body. >You never expected someone to declare something like that. >When *it* happened, you lost whatever worth you had left to society. >You served your time to society, and got out. >But really, you had nothing left. You had no cause, and you weren’t being punished. >So it was more of a shell that was thrown out because it served no purpose anymore. >… Just like a certain trio who were forgotten and discarded after they lost. >That very same trio you had decided to aid in getting their revenge. And, perhaps, something more. >And now Aria was telling you she wanted to do the very same thing, only to you. >It was a sobering thought. ”Aria…” >So you gave the only answer you could. >In the past. >And right now. >Laugh. >I nearly died. >The rest of the ride to the store is, as expected, silent. >After you shrug off Aria’s insistent plea with a desperate laugh, she has not said another thing. >She just stares right ahead, wrapped up in your jacket like a big bundle of grumpiness. >You don’t blame her. >You hate yourself pretty badly right now. >That’s why it’s such a relief when you finally pull up your trusty Buick to the parking lot of the supermarket. >Your first thought was to instinctively head to the mall, but after nasty memories surfaced, you decided against it. >You park your car, turning off the engine and letting the cold assault the cooling down vehicle immediately. >Aria finally stirs from her silent treatment. >”Hey, Roadie?” >You let your hands rest on the steering wheel, afraid to look at her. >Damn that pavement outside is interesting. “Yeah?” >”You do know Adagio, no matter what she blabs, does care about you, right?” >Immediately, her words awaken a mental image. >Luxurious hair, wicked smile, eyes full of challenge. >Your chest tightens a bit. “Yeah.” >”And you know that Sonata, that idiot, adores you like crazy?” >Another string of words, another mental image. >Cheerful demeanor, bright smile and no respect for physical boundaries. >Now it feels warm in your chest. “Yeah.” >”What I mean is, well… shit.” >She takes a deep breath. >”What I mean is that I, too, kinda… kinda…” >You turn to look at her in confusion, which sets off some sort of chain reaction. >Letting out a frustrated yell she kicks the glove department, bangs her knee, and lets out a string of curses. >Faster than you can say ‘reap what you sow’ she jumps out of the car to bounce on the pavement on one leg, holding her knee. >Unable to hold back a chuckle, you open the door and exit as well, leaning against your car as you watch her struggle. “Kinda what?” >Her eyes glare daggers at you. >You have to admit, you’re wearing a pretty shit-eating grin right now. >But it’s rare to see her like this, so you’re enjoying every bit you can. >”Damn it! This flipping car, I could just—!” >She’s about to kick your precious Buick, but one look at your face stops her mid-sentence. >It’s all fun and games until someone threatens your baby. >Harm her, and you’re never gonna forgive the culprit. >Not even if it is one of your friends. >”Shit…” >Robbed of her revenge, Aria squats on the ground, content on throwing murderous glares at the vehicle. >You patiently wait for her to calm down. >If associating with the Dazzlings has taught you anything, it’s patience. >From Sonata’s inability to get her singing voice under control, to Aria’s frustration when it comes to bass… hell, even Adagio would grow annoyed when she didn’t immediately master something. >So for now, you just wait. >You have the time. >”… What I wanna say is… you’re, like, important to me too. Kinda.” >Eventually she starts speaking again. >You cock an eyebrow at her, but she refuses to meet your gaze. >”None of us wants to see you crash and burn. Get it?” >Now those mulberry eyes lock onto yours. “Yeah. I hear you.” >”Can you at least promise you won’t do that?” >You try to offer her as confident a smile as you can. “Of course. Not without you three right there with me.” >Her eyebrows shoot up in confusion. “I mean, if I’m going down, hell yeah I’m taking you idiots with me. I’m not gonna take all the blame.” >Her stern face melts into a grin. >”Jerk.” ”Dork.” >Laughing like a couple of idiots, you both finally leave your car and head out towards the supermarket. >And just like that, the awkward atmosphere is gone. >It feels almost like an odd daydream now. Unpleasant and unneeded. >Something you can hopefully just leave behind you, and never look back. >As you two walk through the parking lot towards the doors of the supermarket, you let your eyes wander about. >The rows and rows of cars parked there are somewhat amusing. >Your own ride sticks out like a sore thumb among these vehicles mainly driven by local moms and meant to contain a whole family’s worth fighting kids. >Yours was only meant to handle you and occasional poof, goof or aloof. >In worst cases, all of them at once. >But in that case, you’d have to sacrifice your eardrums. >You chuckle to yourself. >Wait. >Amongst those ordinary cars with way too much miles under them, wasn’t there…? >Your direct your gaze to the left. >There, parked in the middle of a row and shining like a beacon in the night was… >… Nothing? >Huh? >[Look again, it has to be there.] >[Unbelievable! Why isn’t it here!?] >[No, no, no, no…! Events are out of synch!] >[Alright, let’s fix this.] >You blink. “Huh?” >For a moment there, it was like a record needle scratch in your brains. >Or was it? >You shake your head, driving off what must be the last vestiges of your beautiful dreams, cruelly destroyed by an army of busybody-sirens. >And as you raise your gaze… “Oh. Whoa.” >You have to admit, the car you see is a beauty, even one to rival your own. >69’ Ford Mustang Mach 1, painted in dark blue and black hues. >Roots blower with a shotgun scoop cut through the hood like a shark’s fin, separating it from its brethren. >Tubbed out and fitted with eyebrow-raisingly wide tires, one question immediately popped to your head. >… Was this damn thing even street-legal? >It looked more like someone’s secret pet racing project gone horribly wrong, and then quickly masked so that police wouldn’t pull it over the moment they saw it. >You could only imagine how much power laid in wait beneath that hood, and to be honest, you were kinda itching to see. >And speaking of itching, Aria elbows you into the ribs. >”Quit gawking. Your girl’s gonna get jealous.” >Confused by the statement, you look at Aria who’s slightly red on her cheeks. >She coughs in her balled fist matter-of-factly. >”Your car. No matter how you look at it, it’s far better than this overblown monster here.” >You grin at her. “Damn right. My babe might not be tuned for racing, but I’d take it over this thing any day.” >Chuckling, you two head out once again. >Those cleaning supplies are not gonna buy themselves. >Inside the supermarket is just as crowded as the parking lot outside. >You grimace at the sight. >You never were that good with crowds. >Sure enough you could handle an audience in a concert, but that was because of the atmosphere. >With the quickly approaching winter, this place just felt like desperation and creeping fingers of Christmas approaching fast. >Aria seems to agree with your sentiment, as she scrunches her nose. >”You know what? Let’s make this quick. I’ll get the cleaning supplies, you go get the grub. We’ll meet at the checkout.” “Amen to that. The less time we spend here, the better.” >Nodding to each other, you walk through the gates and head into separate directions. >Aria braves the waves of stay-at-home-moms clamoring for the toilet paper sales. >You head deeper into the supermarket, using your shoulders as weapons to battle the rows of people trying to decide between organic and low-fat versions of same products. >As you walk, an idea pops into your head. >Initially, you were just going to get something light to eat for you and Aria. >But now that you think about it, there are two other mouths to feed back at home. >Not to mention they’re all using their precious time to come and help you with your apartment. >It might have been a while since you last cooked but… really, you could do with some practice again. >Plus you could somehow repay their efforts this way. >Having decided on your course of action, you begin fill your plastic basket with ingredients for a simple chow mein. >Garlic and onions, root ginger and red pepper, oyster sauce and soy sauce. >Hell, you even got a frozen vegetable mix. Simple, sure, but it works. >After choosing a bag of egg noodles, you hesitate momentarily. >Honestly, you were used to chicken thanks to all the fast food you ate. >But then again, it *had* been a while since you tried anything else. >Though as good as ham was, you weren’t really feeling it. >Then, a thought hit you. >According to the Dazzlings, their original forms were some sort of mermaid-equine-hybrids. >Which means they were aquatic animals? Well, it would make sense. >Your eyes lock onto the various shrimps on display. >Hesitating for a moment, you grabbed an assortment of large shrimps in a big bag. >You’d have to peel them by hand, but honestly, they tasted better. “This might be a roaring success… or backfire magnificently.” >You mutter to yourself as you check you have everything. >You hope your hunch is right, and sirens were something of a predatory species. >As far as you knew, at least, they ate meat in school cafeteria. >Grabbing a 12-pack of beer on your way, you make your last stop. >In other words, the snack aisle. >Once you all were done, there would be still time left before the meeting with Strangelove. >Might as well buy something in case you all decided to watch a movie or something. >But what? Chips? Peanuts? Crackers? You personally hated candy, so… “Huh?” >Your thoughts come to a screeching halt as you turn to the snack aisle. >There, before you, a scene most surreal is currently unfolding. >Slowly climbing the shelves like she was web-swinging hero, a blue-hued girl makes her way towards where the peanut butter crackers are located. >They are clearly out of her reach, but that doesn’t stop her apparently. >You can sense a disaster when one so blatantly presents itself to you. >Putting your basket on the ground, you hasten your steps towards the girl, who hasn’t realized that the shelves have begun to tilt dangerously. >Only a second, and the balance shifts. >With a loud groan, the metallic shelves separate themselves from the wall and begin falling forward. >The girl lets out a loud shriek and lets go, all too late. “Goddammit!” >You rush forth. >Your right hand flies forth, catching the shelves and slamming them against the wall once again. >Your left hand scoops up the girl from the air before she manages to hit the ground. >For a moment there’s a dangerous silence as the products on the shelves wobble back and forth, unable to decide if they are to fall or not to fall. >That is the question. >Luckily, it seems that you managed to intervene in time. After precarious few seconds, the various packages calm down, and everything returns to normal. >You let out a sigh of relief. >”Umm…” >Remembering the surprisingly light girl you’re still carrying, you look at her. >She looks back with wide eyes and shocked expression. >Hmh? Wait, this girl looks familiar… >”T-thank you…” >Her voice is as meek as her demeanor. >But still… you know you have seen someone like her before, but this shy personality doesn’t ring a bell. >Where could you have— >”You… you may put Trixie back down now.” “Oh. Right. Sorry.” >Scratching the back of your head, you help the girl stand once more. >She dusts herself off and coughs in her fist, cheeks flushed red. >Damn right you should be embarrassed. >What kind of moron tries to climb the shelves of a supermarket just to reach some damn crackers…? “It never occurred to you to just ask someone to get one for you?” >You ask this dryly while you pick up a package of the peanut butter crackers the girl was after. >Her cheeks grow even redder. >”T-that was just a simple oversight in the overall plan! The great and powerful Trixie was simply distracted by more lofty thoughts to entertain the idea of asking someone else to—“ >You roll your eyes, but can’t hide a hint of a smile. >Right. Now you remember her. “Yeah, yeah. Here. These are what you wanted, right?” >You hand her the box, which she immediately snatches from your hands, greedy glint in her eyes. >Indeed, that bossy demeanor and pompous style of speech… this was a student from CHS, wasn’t it? >Trixie, she called herself? >For a moment, a certain other arrogant face, albeit with much more hair, floats to your mind. >Sure enough there are many differences, but it’s a bit amusing how similar wavelengths this girl and Adagio seem to be at. >”Many thanks. While Trixie could have obtained the crackers herself, she does not scorn help.” >Well, maybe Sonata’s wavelength and Adagio’s output. “Next time, just ask someone taller to get them. No need to hurt yourself over them.” >Flashing a short-lived grin at her, you turn to leave… >“Um, hold on a minute.” >Only to be stopped by her hand on your shoulder. >”Trixie is not sure but… are you not the student who transferred to Canterlot High School a month ago?” >Huh. >She actually remembers you? >Then again, with what you’ve done recently… “Yeah, that’d be me. What about it?” >Biting her lip, she seems a bit hesitant to continue. >”Well, it is simply that, um… Trixie was under the impression that you were much more crude and unpleasant fellow. A bully, even.” >You can’t say you’re not surprised. >After you shoved Flash through that locker, the rumors must’ve run rampant. >”Yet, to save Trixie in her time of need… you cannot be a completely unpleasant gentleman. Nor do you act in a hostile or a threatening way.” >Well, now you can say you’re surprised. >You shrug. “I’m just a guy, you know? Sure, I’ve made some choices that haven’t made me exactly popular, and I don’t seem to fit the certain mold that people at CHS are after, but I’m not a complete asshole.” >No need to beat around the bush. >While you had decided to take up the mantle of a ‘villain’, it didn’t mean you’d need to act like a stereotypical one. >Plus, it’s not like you had a moustache to twirl. >”Hmph! It seems that they have decided to inflict upon you the same curse as they have put on the great and powerful Trixie!” >You raise an eyebrow. >While warning bells ring in your head, some sort of morbid curiosity forces you to ask. “… A curse?” >”Yes! Before the arrival of that accursed Sunset Shimmer, the great and powerful Trixie was the most beloved student in all of CHS! But alas, recently all but few of Trixie’s friends have abandoned her.” >Man, Baconswirl. Looks like you have more enemies than you thought. >Then again, Trixie’s personality suggests a former clique leader who was eventually overthrown by Baconswirl during that ‘bad girl’ period of hers. >Followed by Rainbooms and their reign of terror. >”A-admittedly, Trixie knows she has made mistakes in the past, and has tried to make amends to… certain parties, but still, things refuse to change. That is why it must be some sort of curse! You do know that magic infests the halls of Canterlot High, no?” >You can’t help but to feign a dull surprise. “Oh, really? I had no idea.” >”Yes! As shocking as it is, real magic exists!” >Despite her bravado, something inside Trixie seems to deflate as her shoulders slump. >”If you would happen to find a way to break this curse, Trixie would be most grateful for the information.” >You groan in frustration. “It’s not a curse.” >”W-what?” “Like I said, it’s not a curse. You’re just an outcast like so many others.” >Well, that got even more fire in her eyes. >”T-Trixie will have you know that she is *not* a social outcast! Everybody loves the great and powerful Trixie!” >You fold your arms. “Then why did you say you had only a couple of friends these days?” >Her accelerating tirade slows down to a snail’s pace. >”Well, that is, um, you see… Trixie knows what she said! However, Trixie has learned from her mistakes and has taken a step towards right direction! But even after that effort, the situation has not improved! How could that mean anything but a curse? Being accused of being an outcast is simply ridiculous! Ridiculous, Trixie says!” >You let out a dry chuckle. >The situation sounds so familiar it’s pretty scary. “When you said you’ve made amends to certain parties, you mean the Rainbooms, right? They’re the current power-clique, after all.” >Trixie’s shoulders droop again. >”… Yes.” “Did it ever occur to you that the reason for that is that your friendship with them is a one-way street? You need them, but at the end of the day, they don’t really need you.” >She looks puzzled, so you turn towards the shelves. >After picking two cracker boxes, one tall and one short, you set them next to each other with some space between them. “Look here. This big box represents the Rainbooms, and the small box represents you.” >Having said that, you tip over the large box towards the smaller one. It falls, but is quickly stopped by the smaller box. “When the Rainbooms are in need, they know they can count on you because of the ‘relationship’ that you guys have. But if things go the other way around…” >You put the bigger box standing again, and tip over the smaller box. >Thanks to the distance between them, the smaller box does not reach its comrade, and instead, falls flat on its face. “They have no real need to support you.” >You glare at the two boxes. “When you’re nice to everybody, you can cherry-pick the moments you are their ‘friend’. It’s, frankly, sometimes disgusting way to ‘cover all bases’ as you can see.” >Trixie’s eyes are no longer looking at the boxes, however. >She’s completely focused on you. “I’m not saying they’re doing that on purpose, mind you. But everybody has likes and dislikes. Some people are nice to ones they don’t even like that much. And when those they ‘don’t like’ ask for help, it’s easy to do a sloppy job or even ignore the whole thing.” >You glance at the blue-hued girl next to you, who’s now gripping that cracker box of hers so tightly it could break. “You’ve probably asked them to help you become liked again, right?” >”Yes… Trixie has made that request, indeed.” “And though they did some stuff, things refuse to change. By performing the act itself they cleared their conscience, but that subconscious dislike in them made sure they didn’t see it through.” >You click your tongue. “Personally, I hate two-faced friendship like that. It’s like helping someone by ‘fixing’ whatever’s wrong with them. You’re not really making the one you’re helping grow as a person. Instead, you’re just forcing them to fit into the same mold as everyone else.” >For some reason, the hustle and bustle of the supermarket seems far away. >You don’t even hear it when someone picks up the grocery basket you left on the ground. “It’s those same molds that cause people to ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ each other. People naturally flock to like-minded people, and thus circles and cliques are born. So, naturally, most people are nice and friendly, and they find each other.” >You feel your facial muscles tighten. >You’re probably showing quite the expression now. “And that makes those who aren’t naturally friendly, those who have a different disposition or way of living, outcasts.” >After your little explanation, Trixie is looking pretty downcast. >She stares at the box in her hands. >And when she speaks, her tone is missing that pompous bravado. >”So… is it impossible for Trixie to make friends after all? “That’s completely up to you. You can change, make yourself more like them. Or you can persist like you are, proud of the person you’ve grown to be. I chose the latter. I chose to stand on my own, with the strengths and weaknesses I have.” >A sardonic smile floats to your face. “At first I thought that’d mean I’d be alone, but lately… I dunno? I found out that you can be friends in a different way, not relying on one another. You can find other people who are standing on their own, and form a bond without ulterior motives. No needs or wants. Just desire to be together, as equals.” >”As… equals?” “The way I see it, Rainbooms are friends because they see it as something natural. They want, or perhaps need, to be friends with as many people as they can, conforming everyone into a single mass that gets along. Like a house of cards where everyone supports each other. >As you turn to look at Trixie, your smile gains some warmth. “But me? I’m friends with only the people I actually want to be friends with. Separate pillars reaching towards the sky, but grouped together. No more or less than that.” >Trixie has fallen silent. >As you watch, you can almost see the gears in her head turning, digesting what you told her. >She might not agree with everything you’ve said, but you know it made her think. >After all, when you saw her, you immediately sensed it. >In a way, she’s just like you, the Dazzlings, Gilda… hell, probably Strangelove, too. >Lonely. >Different. >And most importantly, not eager to become a person she might not even recognize. >That’s the truly scary part of becoming friends with people like the Rainbooms. >Change should happen on your own. >Out of your own will, out of your own desire. >You should grow as a person through your own experiences. >Not because you want to please someone. >Not because you want to fit in a group. >And if friendship means forgetting the morals and ideals you once held dear, then that friendship can go to hell. >People aren’t required to be friendly with each other. >Just looking at the world is a good example of that. People hate and people love, and that’s the natural state of the world. >It’s much more unnatural to get along with everybody. >Utopia like that is more like a nightmare. >It’s a place where people are tied by pig-iron leashes connected to those they want to please. >Chains known as ‘help’. Help with motives, help with desire stemming from something the helper wants… >… Not just the simple act of wanting to make someone’s life better. >When your motivation to help someone is guided by your own morals, it is already tainted. >And that’s when that helping hand turns into the rusty metal leash wrapped around your wrist. >The friendship the Rainbooms offer is full of those leashes, tugging you to every direction. >At least to people like you, who don’t fit the mold. >”Um, Anonymous… was it?” >Trixie’s words wake you from your thoughts. >She’s looking at you with a serious face, her purple eyes locked with yours. “Yeah. Anonymous.” >”Trixie knows that the Sunset Shimmer and her friends, while sometimes infuriating, do not have bad intentions in mind.” >She hesitates for a moment. >”But that does not change the fact that what you say has a hint of truth to it. Were Trixie to become their friend, she would have to act more like them. And that’s… that’s not something Trixie wants. Trixie can’t simply start smiling and nodding to people she does not agree with. “ >Something flares up in Trixie’s eyes, and the corner of her mouth tugs upwards. >“After all, Trixie is great and powerful! Were she to submit to opinions she did not like, it would be a disgrace!” >There it is again. >That almost infectious bravado. >”Thus, Trixie has made a decision! She would much rather be herself, the great and powerful Trixie, and find friends who can appreciate her as she is, rather than change to fit into a certain mold. Even if that means abandoning the promise of an easy friendship!” >That’s… weird. >The moment she declared her decision, you felt something odd. >Pride, perhaps? >To see someone take heed and not choose the easy way out, just because of your advice was… humbling, to say the least. “Yeah. That’s a decision. I can’t say if it’s right or wrong, because I honestly don’t know, but… it’s a decision all the same.” >You grin at Trixie, who grins right back at you. >It’s like the solemn cloud hanging above her, caused by your words, was blown away in an instant. >You can only admire that confidence and energy she has. >”And that is why—!” >To your surprise, Trixie shoves her hand towards you. >Even though she’s absolutely tiny compared to you, she seems to tower above you right now. >”Anonymous! Would you become Trixie’s first new friend? As an equal, and as a fellow out… fellow outcast!” >Well, some things might still be hard to admit. >But it’s a step in the right direction. >Still… the hand offered to you. >You’re a bit taken aback. Surprised, even. >You didn’t think she’d jump forward like this, especially towards a person whom she had thought to be a bully not too long ago. >Your hesitation, however, makes Trixie’s grin falter a bit. >”Is… is that a no?” >Before you can even answer that or form a coherent thought, a new voice calls out to you. >”Just accept it, Roadie. Stop being such a damn idiot all the time.” >Shock written on your face, you spin around, only to see Aria standing there. >She’s carrying both her own basket, as well as yours. >A horrifying thought floats to your mind. “Aria… how long have you been standing there?” >A wicked grin forms on Purple Stuff’s face. >”Long enough, Roadie.” >But that expression melts into something you’ve never seen Aria show before. >A gentle smile. “… Long enough.” >Cheeks feeling like they’re on fire, you turn your back on her. >Goddammit! >She wasn’t supposed to hear your rambling! >You only got going because you thought you were helping a random classmate whom you’d never see again. >Now you’re thrust into this situation, with her wanting to be your friend. >And worst of all… Aria witnessed the whole cursed thing! >Why!? >It’s been a while since you felt this embarrassed. >And you could’ve gone without it! “A-alright… fine.” >Trying your best to act calm and collected, you grasp Trixie’s hand. >Hers almost disappears within your grasp, making for a rather awkward shake. >But her grip is surprisingly strong. >”See, Roadie? It ain’t so bad. You can have more friends than just us.” >Looking ahead, Trixie beams at you brilliantly. >”Then it is settled! From this day forth, Anonymous and Trixie shall—“ >Suddenly, she shakes her head. >”… You and I shall be friends.” >Trixie’s declaration ends up being much less overblown than you imagined. >Still holding your hand, the blue-hued girl next directs her attention to Aria. >”Aria Blaze, correct? Any friend of Anonymous is also a friend of Trixie, so let us get along henceforth!” >Deep Purple jerks her head backwards, looking quite surprised. >There’s even a hint of blush on her cheeks. >”Ergh, well… alright. Fine. Whatever. We’ll see.” >Descending into vague statements, Aria avoids meeting Trixie’s gaze the best she can. >Oddly enough, standing there, still holding Trixie’s hand, reminds you of something that happened years ago. >It’s not a memory per se, but more like a vague feeling and warmth. >A sensation that is just like back then. >But instead of a crowded supermarket, it was somewhere else. >Somewhere where crowd yelled at the top of their lungs, where sweat and tears of happiness joined together with the smell of cheap alcohol. >A rock club to the east, some murky autumn night. >You can’t even remember how old you were. >You still feel the pounding echo of the beat long gone, and the shouts of ‘encore’ that happened for the fourth time. >You remember walking to the backstage with wobbly steps, still unable to believe the rush of adrenaline. >You remember the crowds of people waiting outside. >You remember reaching over to someone in the crowd who was holding up a CD and a marker. >And you remember signing it, handing it back, and shaking that tiny hand… >”______ will never forget this night, as long as she lives!” >That pompous declaration, so familiar now. >”Anonymous?” >That question snaps you back from the memories. >You’re still holding Trixie’s hand, and she looks at you with expectant smile. >Looks like that despite the promise, both of you forgot after all. >Years go by so slowly when you’re young. So much to see, so much to experience. >But at least now… things have come full circle. >With a chuckle, you let go of Trixie’s hand, the warmth of it disappearing immediately. >Aria pats you on the shoulder. >”We should probably head out. Adagio and Sonata are waiting, and there’s still lot to clean up.” >Those words seem to pique Trixie’s interest. >”Oh? Are you in the middle of cleaning? Then, the great and powerful Trixie shall offer her help!” >Aria shoots a pleading glance of ‘no!’ towards your direction, but you just laugh. “Hell. Why not?” >You’re feeling strangely nostalgic, after all.