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Hair and Hugs [updated 1/14/18] [W.I.P]

_Insignis_ Nov 25th, 2014 (edited) 7,529 Never
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  1. The original prompt that inspired the story:
  2.  
  3. >tfw you´ll never get to wash Adagio´s hair.
  4. --------------------------------------------
  5.  
  6. >You are Anon.
  7. >A student at CHS.
  8. >You're currently walking the halls towards your locker.
  9. >Lunch was drawing near, and you wanted to dump off unneeded stuff in your backpack before then.
  10. >So far, it's been a typical day.
  11. >Well, except for those three strange girls Sunset is giving a tour to.
  12. >They were dressed like some sort of rock band.
  13. >Seemed like the type to have an attitude to match.
  14. >They're making things awkward for Sunset at least.
  15. >You should help her, but...
  16. >Deciding it's best to avoid them for now, you walk past the group and continue on your way.
  17. >Sorry, Sunny.
  18. >Truth is, you weren't feeling good at all today.
  19. >If it was your lack of sleep, or your allergies, you felt like shit.
  20. >You just want to get through the school day and go home.
  21.  
  22. >As you place the last book into your locker, you hear some unfamiliar female voices drawing closer from down the hall.
  23. >"I can't believe what a dork that Sunset is!"
  24. >A slight turn of your head gives you the peripheral vision needed to see it was the rocker girls from before.
  25. >"You can tell with one look that this entire school is filled with losers like that. I bet we could get someone here under our spell without even having to sing anything!"
  26. >What are they talking about?
  27. >Whatever it was, your suspicions about them being jerks was right.
  28. >Screw it, time for lunch.
  29. >You close your locker door and begin to walk towards the cafeteria.
  30. >"You sure about that, Adagio?"
  31. >"Heh, I'd like to see you try."
  32. >"Watch as I wipe that smug smile off your face, Aria. Hey, you!"
  33. >Aw shit, was one of them calling out to you?
  34. >You stop in your tracks.
  35. >"Yeah, you."
  36. >Damn it.
  37. >Fine, let's see what these bitches want.
  38. >You turn around casually.
  39. "Need something?"
  40. >You act as if you haven't heard anything they've said, just to make the situation easier for yourself.
  41. >"Yes, actually."
  42. >It was the yellow one in the purple outfit who was speaking to you.
  43. >But really, the first thing you notice is her hair.
  44. >It's just so... big and puffy.
  45. >She walks up to you with a demure smile.
  46. >The other two also walk closer, but keep a bit of distance.
  47. >"I need some help, if you don't mind?"
  48. >Her voice and attitude are totally different from just a few seconds ago.
  49. "And what kind of help do you need?"
  50. >"Well, I'm new here, and I'm feeling a bit lost and overwhelmed. So I was wondering if you would, oh, I don't know, be my boyfriend?"
  51. >You raise an eyebrow.
  52. "Be your boyfriend?"
  53. >"That's right. You can protect and take care of me, while I get used to everything."
  54. >She smiles brightly.
  55. >Your confused expression turns to a scowl.
  56. "What kind of stupid prank are you trying to pull on me?"
  57. >Undeterred, she continues on with the obvious act.
  58. >"It's no prank at all, dear! I just feel that we would get along well!"
  59. "Yeah, sorry, but I don't know you at all. So go find someone else, Cheesy Poof."
  60. >She gasps in shock.
  61. >"C-cheesy Poof?!"
  62. >The other two begin to laugh and snicker behind her, while she looks as if she's about to lose it.
  63. >You wave dismissively, turn around, and start walking away again.
  64. >"Hey!"
  65. >After taking only a few steps, she grabs you from behind and pushes you into the wall of lockers with her.
  66. "What the hell?!"
  67. >She slams both of her hands on the lockers, pinning you between her arms, and gets up in your face with her own, giving you a furious glare.
  68. >"Nobody mocks and turns me down, you... walking asparagus!"
  69. "Asparagus?!"
  70. >"Now... you DO want to be my boyfriend, don't you?"
  71. >Her eyes begin to glow, as does the red gem around her neck.
  72. >Something feels... odd.
  73. "Wha... what? I... do?"
  74. >Your eyes droop, and you feel light headed.
  75. >"Yes, that's it, you want me. And you'll do anything I say, hmm?"
  76. "Yeah... that sounds... good. I'll uh... I'll be your boyfriend."
  77. >"Ha!"
  78. >She steps away from you, and looks over to the other two, who have stopped snickering.
  79. >"I told you I could do it."
  80. >She says proudly.
  81. >The blue one claps happily, while the pink one crosses her arms.
  82. >"Whatever. So what's our next move?"
  83. >"Let's go ahead with the plan and pay the cafeteria a visit."
  84. >Bluey and Pinkie share a small glance, and walk past you as if you weren't even there.
  85. >But the yellow one stays behind to give you a cruel smile, while placing a hand under your chin.
  86. >"I'm sorry, dear, but it turns out I've changed my mind. I won't be needing you after all. You're more than welcome to cheer me on later though."
  87. >She gives the same dismissive wave she received from you a moment ago, and begins to walk towards the other two.
  88. >"See you around... Asparagus."
  89. >She chuckles.
  90. >As she gets further away, the cloud of haze lifts from your mind, and you come to your senses.
  91. >What just happened?
  92. >Why did you suddenly agree to anything she said like that?
  93. >You can't figure it out, but you do know that you feel even worse now.
  94. >You have a raging headache, and you want to lay down and fall asleep.
  95. >You decide the smart thing to do is go see the school nurse.
  96. >With what little energy you have left, you make your way to the nurse's office.
  97.  
  98.  
  99. >Two weeks later.
  100.  
  101.  
  102. >You are Adagio Dazzle.
  103. >It's been two weeks since the battle of the bands.
  104. >Two weeks since your humiliating failure.
  105. >But even after you were caught trying to take over the school, for some reason they decided to allow the three of you to continue attending.
  106. >With little punishment even.
  107. >Something about 'if Sunset could change, so could you girls,' the principal said.
  108. >What a ridiculous load of shit.
  109. >You show up everyday though, at CHS, despite your hatred of this place and it's occupants.
  110. >It's not like you had a choice, now that your powers were gone.
  111. >The three of you had come to the grim realization that you would have to change your ways.
  112. >And here you are, standing under the doorway of the main entrance.
  113. >Watching with seething rage as a rainstorm continues to pour down.
  114. >Aria and Sonata were already back at home by now, making it there before the rain even started.
  115. >You would have as well, if it wasn't for you having to stay behind to perform your after school duties, as per your punishment.
  116. >Thanks to that, you're now stuck here until the rain stops.
  117. >You could just walk out...
  118. >But you HATED the idea of getting wet in a rainstorm.
  119. >Though you couldn't stay under the dry safety of the school forever.
  120. >The last bus of the day would be arriving in a few minutes, and if you don't get on it, you'll be left with no option but to walk the entire way home in the rain.
  121. >Hell no, you were not going to let that happen.
  122. >So, you stand vigilant, waiting for the first sign of the bus to quickly run out to it and get on.
  123. >Moments later, it arrives, parking in the designated spot.
  124. >And as if on cue, the rain begins to fall harder.
  125. >For fuck's sake!
  126. >You were more than sure the rain was mocking you now.
  127. >You know you have to go out there.
  128. >You only have at most a minute or so before it drives away.
  129. >But... damn it...
  130. >The clenching of your fists is stopped by a large umbrella unfolding above you.
  131. >You look up in surprise, and your eyes follow it down to the person holding it.
  132. >Some boy in a jacket and a hoodie.
  133. >He stands there next to you, unmoving.
  134. "What are you-"
  135. >"You need to get to that bus, right?"
  136. "Yeah. What's it to you?"
  137. >"Nothing, just thought I'd help you. So... let's go. The bus is about to leave."
  138. >You try to take a closer look at him, but the hoodie conceals his face too well.
  139. >They keep your warm, feel comfy as hell, and hide your face away.
  140. >Fucking hoodies, is there anything they can't do?
  141. >Wish you were wearing one right now, but all you wore today was a sweater and your jacket.
  142. >Giving up on figuring out who this guy is, you sigh.
  143. "Yeah, okay."
  144. >It's not like you needed to know anyways.
  145. >Whether or not he'd join you on the bus, as soon as you get on you'll just go back to ignoring his existence.
  146. >With him walking next to you the whole way, you make it to the bus' door.
  147. >It opens for you, revealing a typical bus driver.
  148. >"See? Got you here safe and dry."
  149. >You scoff.
  150. "Don't expect me to thank you or anything."
  151. >"Oh, don't worry."
  152. >He says as you place one foot onto the first step of the bus.
  153. >"It's not like I'm going to suddenly ask you to be my girlfriend."
  154. >A spark of shock runs through you, causing you to quickly pull a one eighty, and step back out onto the curb to face him.
  155. "You! It's you, isn't it?!"
  156. >You forcibly pull his hoodie back under the cover of the umbrella, revealing his face.
  157. "I knew it! Asparagus!"
  158. >"The name's Anon, Cheesy Poof."
  159. >He replies with a deadpan expression and tone.
  160. >You stomp the concrete hard.
  161. "DON'T CALL ME THAT! It's because of you that I hear it from Sonata and Aria all the time now!"
  162. >You point a finger in his face accusingly.
  163. >"Heh."
  164. "What are you smiling about?!"
  165. >"Just happy to know it still lives on, is all."
  166. "Aaargh!"
  167. >You're shaking with anger.
  168. "Something about just seeing your ugly green face pisses me off! I hated you the moment you defied me, and I hate you now!"
  169. >"Aw, that's a shame, dear. I've been feeling that we would get along well."
  170. >He says sarcastically with a grin.
  171. "...You know what? I'm getting the BIGGEST urge to punch you in the face right now. So tell me, Asparagus..."
  172. >You shove a tightly clenched fist into the side of his cheek.
  173. "What's to stop me?"
  174. >Without looking away from you, or even seeming to care about your threat, he points behind you.
  175. >"I'd say you have more important things to worry about."
  176. "What?"
  177. >You turn around to see the bus is no longer directly behind you, but driving away further down the street.
  178. "No! Wait!"
  179. >Your desperation to get on that bus causes you to instinctively chase after it.
  180. >But as you shoot your arm out towards it, leaving the cover of the umbrella, your appendage is hit with the dreaded rain.
  181. >You immediately stop yourself from breaking out into a full run.
  182. "FUCK!"
  183. >You shout as you pull your arm back, shake it in frustration, and watch helplessly as the retched box on wheels disappears without you.
  184. >Slowly, you turn around to face the green shit head again, giving him a look that you would normally only use on those of your worst enemies.
  185. >He's unfazed, and even dares to open his mouth.
  186. >"And after all that effort I put into getting you here dry, you didn't even get on."
  187. >He shakes his head.
  188. >You point your finger in his face again.
  189. "I blame YOU for this, smartass! Now we have to walk around in the rain with nothing but this umbrella!"
  190. >"Why would I walk? I have a car."
  191. >Your face turns to a stunned expression.
  192. "You do? A-alright then. Fine. You can drive me home."
  193. >He raises an eyebrow.
  194. >"Who said I was taking you home?"
  195. "What do you mean? Of course you're taking me home. You have to!"
  196. >"I offered to get you to the bus. That's all."
  197. "So you're just gonna leave me out here in the rain?!"
  198. >"You got it, girlie."
  199. >He begins to walk away, and you quickly move in time with him to keep from losing your shield.
  200. "You can't do this!"
  201. >"Yes I can."
  202. "You-!"
  203. >Catching yourself from saying something quite nasty, you start over.
  204. >This was going to require a different approach.
  205. "Come on, take me home, please. You don't understand how much I hate the rain!"
  206. >"I understand, I just don't care."
  207. "Look, what do you want from me?!"
  208. >"An apology might be nice."
  209. "I have nothing to apologize for!"
  210. >You sternly shout.
  211. >"Is that so?"
  212. >He quickens his pace, making it even more difficult to keep up with him.
  213. >But you do, matching and sticking to him as if your life depended on it.
  214. >"Go away, Cheesy Poof."
  215. "Not a chance, Asparagus."
  216. >Despite his best efforts, he's unable to shake you off for even a second.
  217. >You both reach his car, and stand in front of it for a moment.
  218. >It was one of those old japanese sedans.
  219. >"You realize, I could just unlock the driver's door and leave you here?"
  220. >Trying your best to mimic Sonata, you muster up a cute girl voice with puppy eyes to match.
  221. "Y-you would never do such a thing to an innocent girl like me."
  222. >"There's absolutely nothing innocent about you!"
  223. >He glares.
  224. >After a moment of silence, he takes out his keys with a sigh, and pushes the button twice to unlock all the doors.
  225. >He even walks over to the passenger side door first, to stand over you as you get in.
  226. >That's... nice of him.
  227. >Once he gets in, he starts the car and puts his safety belt on.
  228. >"I can't believe I'm doing this for you."
  229. "I can't believe I have to go through this with you."
  230. >You frown.
  231. >"...I can still shove you out ya know."
  232. >You quickly buckle your own safety belt and grab onto your seat.
  233. "You can try, asshole."
  234. >To your surprise, he chuckles.
  235. >"Forget it, just tell me where you live."
  236. >You give him directions to your apartment.
  237. >"That's not too far from here."
  238. >He puts the car into gear and drives off the school grounds, setting the wipers to the appropriate speed.
  239. "Yeah, I would have walked there if it wasn't for this damn rain."
  240. >"I don't know what it's like on your old world, but we need the rain here. It's a good thing."
  241. "In Equestria, the water and rain is pristine. Here, it's nothing but mother nature's dirty piss."
  242. >You say bitterly.
  243. >"You're just a big ball of positivity, huh? People must love being around you."
  244. "Hmph."
  245. >A few moments of silence go by.
  246. >It's broken when your curiosity gets the better of you.
  247. "So... why were you there at school so late? I thought I was the only one left. You have some kind of punishment too?"
  248. >"You could say that."
  249. "What'd you do? Get caught being a green bastard?"
  250. >"More like catching up on school work. Today was my first day back in almost two weeks."
  251. "Two weeks?"
  252. >You raise an eyebrow.
  253. "Wait... come to think of it, I don't remember seeing you at all during the battle of the bands. What happened to you?"
  254. >"Well, you recall that little voodoo magic you pulled on me during our run in? It made me pretty sick."
  255. "It's true that using the spell to go straight through the eyes, instead of the ears with song, can cause headaches as a side effect. But sick?"
  256. >"It gave me a headache alright. But it also gave me a sinus infection. Which became a cold. That kept me bed ridden for days."
  257. "Really?"
  258. >"Yep. And it was all thanks to you fucking around with me for no reason other than your own amusement."
  259. >His tone is passive aggressive.
  260. >You lean over to the passenger side arm rest, cup your chin in your palm, and watch the rain cascade down the window.
  261. "...I'm sorry. I... didn't mean for that to happen to you."
  262. >You say sincerely.
  263. >He seems taken aback for a moment.
  264. >"So, you are capable of apologizing?"
  265. "Every now and then..."
  266. >You whisper.
  267. >The car finally pulls into the apartment parking lot.
  268. >"I believe this is your stop. Thank you for making Anon Public Transportation, or APT, your first choice."
  269. "You weren't my first choice, you dork. It was that asshole who drove away behind my back."
  270. >"His name's Jeff."
  271. "Is it?"
  272. >"Yeah."
  273. "Fuck Jeff."
  274. >"You can if you catch the bus tomorrow."
  275. "Shut up!"
  276. >Anon gets out with his umbrella.
  277. >For the second time, he protects you with it, all the way to your apartment door.
  278. >You unlock it with your key and swing it open, taking a step inside.
  279. >You feel better already to be under a solid roof again.
  280. >You turn back to Anon.
  281. "Well, this was... something."
  282. >"Yeah, it was definitely something."
  283. >You both say awkwardly.
  284. >"Okay, I'm going-"
  285. >Without warning, the rain and wind surges, causing him to almost lose the umbrella.
  286. >Somehow, the storm has gotten worse.
  287. >Even inside the door, you're getting some of the wind's spray on you.
  288. "Fucking hell!"
  289. >You raise your arms up to your face.
  290. >You both know there's no way he can drive in this weather now.
  291. >"Um..."
  292. "Just get in here, you idiot!"
  293. >You grab and pull him in, slamming the door once he's clear of it.
  294.  
  295. >You are Anon.
  296. >You've just been pulled into the Dazzlings' apartment, by none other than Adagio herself.
  297. >And here come Aria and Sonata.
  298. >So now you're in an enclosed space with three villainous girls.
  299. >Supposedly, they didn't have their powers anymore, but what if they were still evil?
  300. >You didn't intend for any of this at all.
  301. >Hopefully this situation doesn't turn ugly.
  302. >"Welcome home, Dagi!"
  303. >Sonata says cheerfully.
  304. >Dagi?
  305. >That's cute.
  306. >"Who's the loser?"
  307. >Aria asks.
  308. "Figures you wouldn't remember me."
  309. >You comment as you take off your jacket.
  310. >"Come now girls, you remember Asparagus!"
  311. >Adagio introduces you mockingly.
  312. >Sonata lights up with joy, rushes over to you, and takes your hands in hers with a smile.
  313. >"OH! It's you! The one who came up with Cheesy Poof!"
  314. >Aria's frown turns to a surprised smile.
  315. >"You're THAT loser? Okay, you get some points for coming up with that. But it doesn't answer why you're here."
  316. >Her expression goes back to one of suspicion.
  317. >"I missed the bus thanks to him, so he drove me back."
  318. >Adagio explains while taking off her own jacket.
  319. >"Is he gonna hang out with us now?"
  320. >Sonata asks gleefully.
  321. >"Only until this accursed storm is over. Right, Asparagus?"
  322. "You got it, Cheesy Poof. And for the record, my name is Anon."
  323. >You announce.
  324. >"Duly noted in the record of lame."
  325. >Aria acknowledges while slumping into one of the living room couches.
  326. >"Yaaay! Let's play video games!"
  327. >Sonata bounces.
  328. "That sounds fun. By the way, Sonata?"
  329. >"Yeah, Anon?"
  330. "You can let go of my hands now."
  331. >She looks down at your hands, and pulls hers away in surprise to hold them behind her back.
  332. >"Right! Sorry!"
  333. >She gives an overly sheepish smile, then runs over to the tv, where a PS3 is connected.
  334. >She turns everything on, grabs two controllers, and sits down on the couch opposite the tv.
  335. >"Come on!"
  336. >She pats the space next to her with a huge smile.
  337. >This girl is really excited to play with you.
  338. >If you didn't know any better, you'd think she was just a sweet and innocent big kid.
  339. >Actually, they all seem way more mellowed out than before.
  340. >As you walk over to join Sonata, you notice how nice their apartment is.
  341. >Like, swanky nice.
  342. >You couldn't imagine affording a place like this yourself.
  343. >You take a seat where Sonata had patted, and she hands you a controller.
  344. >The game starts up.
  345. >You begin playing it with her, and decide to strike up a conversation while you do.
  346. "So... you girls tried to take over the world, huh? That's pretty cool."
  347. >"Yes, pretty cool indeed."
  348. >Adagio hisses behind closed teeth.
  349. >She had taken a seat at the dining table, where she watched the storm continue through the window.
  350. >"It would've been cool if we didn't get our butts whipped by those friendship dorks."
  351. >Aria corrects, lazily watching you and Sonata play from the other couch.
  352. "Yeah, well, those Mane Six girls are nothing to mess with. You should've seen them take on Sunset Shimmer."
  353. >"Was Sunset Dimmer that much of a threat?"
  354. "You kidding? She turned into an all powerful raging she-demon. Fangs, wings, fiery hair and all. She was way scarier than you guys were at the showdown."
  355. >"If you've been gone for two weeks, how do you know so much about us?"
  356. >Adagio asks from behind you.
  357. "Friends told me all about it. Plus there's videos of the showdown online."
  358. >"Hmph. I almost had that entire school under my control."
  359. >She says agitated.
  360. >"And you were the first one we put under our spell, Anon."
  361. >Sonata informs you.
  362. "That so? Guess I should be honored?"
  363. >"Maybe if the plan worked out. But instead, you're just the first of a grand failure."
  364. >Aria answers.
  365. >You can somehow feel the anger in Adagio rising, so you change the subject.
  366. "This is a sweet apartment you've got here."
  367. >"Yeah, I really like our home."
  368. >Sonata smiles.
  369. >"Too bad we won't be able to keep it for much longer."
  370. >Aria adds.
  371. "What do you mean?"
  372. >"How do you think we got this place?"
  373. "Magic?"
  374. >"Bingo. We put the land lord under our spell. But with our magic gone and the contract almost up, we might be kicked out soon."
  375. "Why not get some jobs? It shouldn't be hard to afford between the three of you."
  376. >"Sonata and I already have part time jobs."
  377. >"I work at a Toys R We! It's so much fun! I get to play with toys and kids all day."
  378. "And that's how you got this Playstation?"
  379. >"Yep!"
  380. "Where do you work, Aria?"
  381. >"Hot Topic."
  382. >You hold yourself back from laughing.
  383. "O-oh, that's cool."
  384. >"It's shit. I hate all the crap in there and everyone who buys it."
  385. >You're paying Aria a visit at work.
  386. >You need to see this for yourself.
  387. >"But whatever! It's Adagio that needs to get a job."
  388. >"I've been trying to get one!"
  389. >Adagio interjects.
  390. >"You haven't been trying hard enough. You need to find one, and fast."
  391. "...The place I work at has a position open. I could put in a good word for you, if you wanted."
  392. >"And where would that be?"
  393. "Donut Joe's."
  394. >"Ooo! A donut shop?"
  395. >Sonata seems excited by that.
  396. >Adagio on the other hand, scoffs loudly.
  397. "It's an easy job. You hand donuts to people who want them. The pay is decent, and Joe's a pretty laid back guy."
  398. >"That doesn't sound bad, Adagio."
  399. >Aria tells her.
  400. >"Could you really get her hired?"
  401. "No problem."
  402. >Adagio slams a fist on the table.
  403. >"I don't need your, or anyone else's charity!"
  404. "Suit yourself."
  405. >You say flatly.
  406. >Aria sighs.
  407. >Sonata loses her smile.
  408. >"Bye bye, free donuts."
  409. >She says under her breath.
  410. >The next few minutes are spent without words.
  411. >The only sounds coming from the tv, and the rain beating on the window.
  412. >But eventually, Sonata speaks up.
  413. >"Adagiooo, I'm hungry! Call for a pizza."
  414. >"You're not going to get a pizza anytime soon in this weather."
  415. >She responds emotionless.
  416. >Now that the subject of food has been brought up, you wouldn't mind eating something yourself.
  417. "You don't have anything on hand?"
  418. >"There's some cold cuts in the fridge."
  419. >Aria answers.
  420. >"But I want something hot."
  421. >Sonata quietly whines.
  422. "I make a mean grilled sandwich. How about it?"
  423. >"That sounds good!"
  424. >She smiles again.
  425. "Help me out in the kitchen then."
  426. >Sonata shows you around the kitchen, and helps you get everything you need together.
  427. >"Hey, Aria, you want a sandwich too?"
  428. >"Yeah, I'll take one of his crummy sandwiches."
  429. "You haven't even tried it yet."
  430. >You point out with hurt feelings.
  431. "How about you, Cheesy Poof? It's not charity if you already owned the food."
  432. >You tease.
  433. >"No thank you, Asparagus."
  434. >She grumbles.
  435. >Sonata leans in close to you and whispers.
  436. >"Make her one anyway, Anon. She might say she won't eat, but when there isn't any for her, she gets cranky."
  437. >Adagio turns to you both in her chair.
  438. >"I can hear you, Sonata. I'm right. Fucking. Here."
  439. >Sonata stares at her for a few seconds, then whispers to you again.
  440. >"I think she's already cranky."
  441. >Adagio facepalms.
  442. >You chuckle.
  443. "Four sandwiches, comin' up."
  444. >With Sonata as your excited sous chef, you put together and grill the sandwiches.
  445. >When they're ready, everyone sits at the table to eat together.
  446. >Sonata makes sure there's drinks for you all.
  447. >You bite into your sandwich, knowing full well how good it is.
  448. >Sonata began eating before you.
  449. >"Mmm! Soo good!"
  450. >She squeals in satisfaction.
  451. >Aria dives into hers as well, lighting up with shock and delight upon tasting it.
  452. >"Wow, this is damn good!"
  453. >Adagio has been hesitant, but seeing everyone else enjoying their meal pushes her to take a bite.
  454. >She doesn't say anything, but her face tells she's pleasantly surprised.
  455. >After a few moments of silent eating, Aria speaks up again.
  456. >"My god... I think this sandwich is turning me on right now."
  457. "I don't want to hear about how my cooking turns you on, Aria."
  458. >"Then just flip the switch."
  459. >Sonata suggests casually.
  460. >You and Aria look at her in confusion.
  461. "Uh... what?"
  462. >"You know, the switch. You flip it one way to turn something on, you flip it the other to turn it off. Like, almost half the toys I sell have them."
  463. >All three of you have now stopped eating to look at Sonata in sheer bewilderment.
  464. >A few seconds of your quiet staring finally gets her attention.
  465. >"...What?"
  466. "...Sonata, do you not know what we're talking abo-"
  467. >"OH MY GOSH! It was a joke! Do you all think so little of me that I can't make a joke?!"
  468. >A couple seconds of silence again, until you burst out laughing, while Adagio and Aria simply go back to eating, unimpressed.
  469. >"It wasn't a funny joke."
  470. >Adagio comments.
  471. >"At least I tried!"
  472. >Sonata puffs.
  473. >You catch your breath.
  474. "Do you think anything is funny, Adagio?"
  475. >"I think your face is funny."
  476. >Aria snickers.
  477. >"I just find it ugly."
  478. >Adagio dismisses.
  479. >These bitches.
  480. "You know what?"
  481. >You get up from your seat and reach over across the table for their plates.
  482. "Gimme those sandwiches."
  483. >They both pull their meals away from you defensively.
  484. >"No! What are you doing?!"
  485. >Adagio shouts.
  486. "You don't deserve those. Sonata and I will eat them."
  487. >Aria grins.
  488. >"Oh yeah?!"
  489. >They both start licking their sandwiches.
  490. >All over.
  491. >Quickly.
  492. >Efficiently.
  493. >And childishly.
  494. >You slowly sit back down.
  495. "Ohhhkay. Alright. That's... that's really something."
  496. >"Feel like eating these now?"
  497. "Nope."
  498. >"Damn straight!"
  499. >Sonata sighs.
  500. >"Ah, that takes me back. Reminds me of all the times we were desperate, and used that technique to steal food."
  501. >She says with nostalgia.
  502. >Adagio and Aria shudder.
  503. >"Don't bring that up."
  504. >Aria pleads.
  505.  
  506. >Soon enough, all four sandwiches are gone.
  507. >Everyone slumps into their chair, satisfied.
  508. >"That was deeelish."
  509. >Sonata smiles.
  510. >"Not gonna lie, that was a bomb sandwich, Anon."
  511. >Aria compliments.
  512. >Adagio pushes her plate away from her.
  513. >"You warmed up some deli meat between bread. Congratulations."
  514. >She says sarcastically.
  515. "Your welcome, Queen Cheesy Poof. It was an honor to even feed you."
  516. >You bow in your seat mockingly.
  517. >"Don't add more to it!"
  518. >Adagio glares.
  519. >Sonata begins to laugh, and bows as you did.
  520. >"All hail Queen Cheesy Poof!"
  521. >She laughs even harder, throwing her head back.
  522. >Aria starts laughing as well.
  523. >Adagio slams her fist on the table again while giving you a death stare.
  524. >"Dammit, Asparagus!"
  525. >Aria catches her breath, and gets a snide grin.
  526. >"You know, for someone who supposedly isn't impressed, you sure cleaned up good. There isn't a single crumb left on your plate."
  527. >Sonata picks up Adagio's plate to take a closer look.
  528. >She seemingly zooms in with her eye while sticking her tongue out cartoonishly, and even shakes it.
  529. >"It's true! Not a speck!"
  530. >"I-it's nothing to gawk at! I was just... hungrier than I thought, that's all!"
  531. >Adagio stammers.
  532. >She gets up from the table in a huff, and though she tries to hide it, gives you a nervous glance as she walks away.
  533. >Suddenly, Sonata leans over to you with a look of interest.
  534. >"So, Anon, what do you think of my fruit punch made from scratch?"
  535. >You look back at your cup with surprise.
  536. "You made this?"
  537. >"Yep! I've been slowly perfecting it over the last two weeks."
  538. "It's good. I thought it was store bought."
  539. >"See that, Aria? Anon likes it!"
  540. >She boasts proudly.
  541. >Aria scoffs.
  542. >"What does he know about good fruit punch?"
  543. >"More than you!"
  544. >"Nuh-uh."
  545. >"Uh-huh!"
  546. "Why do I get the feeling this is a usual argument around here?"
  547. >"You have no idea."
  548. >Adagio drones from the couches.
  549.  
  550. >Sometime later, you're back on the couch playing games with Sonata.
  551. >The other two haven't said much after the meal, until Adagio taps on the window to get your attention.
  552. >"Hey, Asparagus, it looks like you can go home now."
  553. >You and Sonata put down your controllers and join Adagio, who is looking out of the glass sheet.
  554. "You're right, it's slowed down to a drizzle. I'd better take this chance to drive."
  555. >"You're leaving? W-will you ever come back?"
  556. >Sonata frowns at you.
  557. >You could just tell her anything and leave, but you don't want to lie to her.
  558. "I don't think so, Sonata. But we can always talk at school."
  559. >She tugs on your sleeve.
  560. >"You promise? You won't just ignore me?"
  561. "I promise."
  562. >You smile sincerely.
  563. >She gets a small smile as well.
  564. >"Okay, Anon."
  565. >You put on your jacket, and Aria comes over to you.
  566. >"Thanks for the sandwich, Gus."
  567. >She says with a snarky tone and face.
  568. "Gus? ...Oh! Heh... that's pretty good. I'll give you that."
  569. >She makes a face that says she's pleased with herself.
  570. "...Purple Grump."
  571. >Her expression changes to anger.
  572. >"Purple grump?! What the fuck is that?!"
  573. "I dunno, I just feel you're like a non-threatening villain from a toddlers cartoon. The Purple Grump."
  574. >"Toddlers cartoon?!"
  575. >She shouts.
  576. "Yeah, you know, the kind where the main characters ask the kids to clap to make bad people go away. Something like..."
  577. >You begin to clap rhythmically to your words.
  578. "Clap if you believe, make her go away. Clap if you believe, the Purple Grump can't stay."
  579. >Sonata's face lights up with a huge smile, and she joins in with all the enthusiasm of a child.
  580. >"Clap if you believe, make her go away! Clap if you believe, the Purple Grump can't stay!"
  581. >You're now chanting it and clapping together in unison at Aria, who is seething with rage.
  582. >She throws her fists into the air.
  583. >"Screw you! Both of you! THIS IS STUPID!"
  584. >She turns around and stomps off to what you presume is her room, slamming the door closed.
  585. >Sonata raises her hands up and cheers.
  586. >"Oh my gosh! It worked! The Purple Grump is gone!"
  587. >You turn to her and smile.
  588. "It's like we've found a new type of magic."
  589. >Her face turns to one of shock, as she grabs your arm.
  590. >"Y-you really think so?"
  591. >Her tone is serious.
  592. "Yes, but this magic is limited, so we have to use it sparingly."
  593. >"Right!"
  594. >She nods with determination.
  595. >Throughout this, you've noticed Adagio.
  596. >She's turned away from you, and has been desperately trying to keep herself from bursting out laughing.
  597. >It's obvious though, as she's covering her mouth with both her hands.
  598. >You start to walk out the door.
  599. "Thanks for letting me stay."
  600. >Adagio looks back at you, and notices you aren't taking your folded up umbrella.
  601. >She quickly grabs it and tries handing it to you.
  602. >"Absent minded idiot, aren't you, Asparagus?"
  603. "Actually, I was thinking you could keep it."
  604. >She's surprised, but composes herself.
  605. >"But it's still raining."
  606. "It's just a light drizzle, I don't mind getting a bit wet. I'm not made of salty goodness like you, Cheesy Poof."
  607. >You tease with a grin.
  608. >She reels back and stammers again nervously.
  609. >"I-I told you! I don't need your charity!"
  610. >She pushes it onto you now, but you raise your hands up.
  611. "Okay, okay, how about you keep it for now and give it back to me at school?"
  612. >"It's not going to rain tomorrow."
  613. "It might. And let's face it..."
  614. >You push the umbrella away, and your grin turns smug.
  615. "I can't always be there to save you, Poof."
  616. >For the first time, you see Adagio blush.
  617. >And to your surprise, you feel that she looks cute like this, causing you to change your grin to a sincere smile.
  618. >"S-save me?"
  619. >Her expression becomes boiling rage as she starts shaking to match it.
  620. >Satisfied with what you've been able to do, you flip up your hoodie and walk out the door, as Sonata holds it open.
  621. >"Save me?!"
  622. >Her anger is so great, she chases after you out the door, passing a surprised Sonata.
  623. >"You didn't save me! You can't save yourse-AW SHIT!"
  624. >In her blind aggression, she didn't realize that she'd left the safety of her roof to walk out into a light rain.
  625. >Still holding your umbrella, she quickly opens it in a panic.
  626. >But it's too late.
  627. >After going through this whole ordeal, mother nature has finally pissed on her hair.
  628. >Under the cover of the umbrella, she yells at you from the middle of the street.
  629. >"DAMN YOU, ASPARAGUS!"
  630. >You simply laugh, and wave back while heading to your car.
  631. "You take care now!"
  632. >"Rrrgh!"
  633. >She stomps the ground, which unknown to her, is a puddle.
  634. >She's just splashed her legs with a good amount of water.
  635. >"FFFUCK!"
  636. >Still holding the door open, Sonata laughs.
  637. >Adagio carefully runs back into the apartment.
  638. >"Looks like that umbrella didn't do you much good."
  639. >Sonata giggles at her.
  640. >Thanks to the still open door, you can hear Adagio's faint yelling from inside.
  641. >"Shut up! I'm taking a shower! But not before I spill all your fruit punch down the drain!"
  642. >"NOOO-"
  643. >Sonata's screaming is cut off, as she quickly slams the door shut to do battle with Adagio.
  644. >You get into your car, still wearing that same satisfied smile, and drive home.
  645.  
  646.  
  647. >The next day.
  648. >You're still a bit out of the swing of things at school, due to being away for so long, but it's getting better.
  649. >Before you know it, lunchtime rolls around.
  650. >Walking into the cafeteria, you're approached from behind by a pair of now familiar voices.
  651. >"Hi, Anon!"
  652. >Sonata runs up and takes hold of your of arm again, and shakes it playfully.
  653. "H-hi, Sonata."
  654. >You stammer as you're shaken about.
  655. >"Hey, Gus."
  656. >Aria greets as she purposely bumps into your other shoulder, passing you both with a mischievous smile.
  657. >The bump isn't rough, just enough to push you a bit.
  658. "Hey, Aria."
  659. >Still holding your arm, Sonata starts pulling you over to the lunch line with Aria.
  660. >"Come on, Anon! Let's get something to eat and sit down together!"
  661. >Sonata says happily, as if she were a child with the promise of recess soon.
  662. >This sudden, warm comradery surprises you, but seeing Sonata smile like this, you choose to just go with it.
  663. >Aria, Sonata and you are now grabbing various food with trays in hand.
  664. >Sonata taking the word 'various' to the extreme, placing practically everything she sees into her tray.
  665. >"I'll have some of this. And some of this. And this. Oh! That looks good!"
  666. >"Sonata, you've already filled your tray, you can't put anymore."
  667. >Aria warns her.
  668. >She looks around nervously.
  669. >"You're right. I'll... I'll go get another tray!"
  670. >"You're only allowed one tray, deary."
  671. >Granny Smith informs her.
  672. >"W-what? But... all this good food!"
  673. >She frowns, and even seems to be tearing up a bit, while she holds a large chocolate chip cookie with nowhere to put it.
  674. >"And I have to get this cookie for her..."
  675. >For her?
  676. >You take the cookie from her, and place it onto your tray.
  677. "You can use the rest of my space, Sonata."
  678. >She still has tears in her eyes, but now, they are tears of gluttony joy.
  679. >"Really?! Anon, you don't know how much this means to me!"
  680. >"Waaaay too much."
  681. >Aria rolls her eyes.
  682. >Sonata tugs on Aria's sleeve with puppy eyes.
  683. >"Aria, can I use your tray too?"
  684. >"No, Sonata! I don't want-"
  685. >Sonata's puppy eyes become even more intense, and she somehow emits the genuine dog whining sound to match.
  686. >"Ugh! God, okay! Just stop looking at me like that!"
  687. >Aria turns her head away from Sonata, as she slides her tray closer to give access.
  688. >"Yaaay!"
  689. >Sonata cheers.
  690.  
  691. >With all three of your trays over stuffed, you sit down at an empty table to make use of all the room.
  692. >You get more than a few looks from the surrounding students.
  693. >"Thanks for making us look like a bunch of fat fucks, Sonata!"
  694. >Aria complains as she unloads her tray.
  695. "But she's just as thin as you. Where does she put it all away?"
  696. >"To her brain. Why do you think it's so clogged up?"
  697. >Sonata points a spoon at Aria.
  698. >"Hey! My brain's not fat! It's just big boned!"
  699. >"There are no bones in your-! ...forget it."
  700. >Aria facepalms.
  701. >"Besides, I didn't get all of this just for me. I got it so we can all share!"
  702. "Share?"
  703. >"Yeah! Doesn't food taste better when you do?"
  704. >Sonata smiles, and begins to make four equal shares of everything, and spreads them around.
  705. >"Oh god, that's what this was about."
  706. >Aria sighs, but willingly takes what Sonata hands to her.
  707. "But why four shares?"
  708. >"Well, I was counting on another person sitting with us, but..."
  709. >Sonata's smile fades, and she turns in her chair to look behind her.
  710. >You look in the same direction, and spot a large puff of orange hair sitting alone.
  711. >It's Adagio.
  712. >She notices you staring at her from across the way.
  713. >She proceeds to glare back at you, stand up, and change seats to the opposite side of her table to face away from you.
  714. "She's still mad at me, huh?"
  715. >"Oooh yeah."
  716. >Aria smirks.
  717. >"I've known Adagio for a long time, and I don't think I've ever seen anyone get under her skin the way you have."
  718. >You rub your chin.
  719. "Maybe I can use that to bring her to us."
  720. >"How?"
  721. >You lean back in your chair and begin to shout loud enough for the entire cafeteria to hear you.
  722. "MAN, I WISH I HAD SOME CHEESY POOFS RIGHT ABOUT NOW!"
  723. >Adagio immediately perks up.
  724. >Sonata gets a huge smile, just as she did for the Purple Grump chant.
  725. >"YEAH, I ALSO WISH CHEESY POOFS WERE HERE WITH US! I MISS HER! THEM! I MEAN THEM!"
  726. >Adagio jumps from her chair, and rushes over to your table with fury.
  727. >She doesn't even bother to bring her tray with her.
  728. >"Shut up shut up shut up!"
  729. >She shoves herself into the seat next to Sonata, giving you a death stare.
  730. >Aria is trying hard not to laugh, covering her mouth with her hand.
  731. >"What the fuck do you think you're doing?!"
  732. "What are you doing, all alone like that?"
  733. >"I am FINE being alone! I certainly don't need to be around you, Asparagus!"
  734. >"But, Dagi, we got all of this for you!"
  735. >Sonata holds up some of Adagio's share of the lunch.
  736. >"I don't care!"
  737. >"I even got you the big cookie you like!"
  738. >She tries to hand her the giant cookie.
  739. >"I told you, I don't-"
  740. >Sonata gently pushes the large cookie against Adagio's cheek.
  741. >"Cookieee wookieeeee."
  742. >"Grrrr!"
  743. >Adagio growls, rage visibly building in her.
  744. >But as she looks at Sonata's beaming smile, it subsides, and she takes the cookie, biting into it as she slumps into her chair.
  745. >Sonata leans over to her, giving the same puppy act she gave to Aria.
  746. >Adagio sighs loudly with annoyance, breaks the cookie in the middle, and hands one half to Sonata.
  747. >Sonata bites into it happily.
  748. >The students are all staring at your table now, their murmuring filling the room from the scene you and Sonata made.
  749. >Adagio notices and glares at you.
  750. >"If this whole cheesy poof thing catches on from that little stunt you just pulled, I will MURDER you."
  751. >You and Aria are too busy trying to contain your laughter to say anything.
  752. >"Don't worry guys, I got this."
  753. >Sonata stands up from her chair, gaining the attention of the entire student body.
  754. >"IT'S OKAY EVERYONE, IT'S NOT WHAT YOU THINK!"
  755. >They're all looking at her, hanging on every word, waiting for whatever it is she has to say.
  756. >"...I KNOW CHEESY POOFS AREN'T PEOPLE! THAT'D BE CRAZY! HAHA-"
  757. >"Get down here, you idiot!"
  758. >Adagio drags Sonata back into her seat.
  759. >You and Aria can't hold it in any longer, and burst out laughing, followed by everyone else.
  760. >The other kids begin to answer back.
  761. >"No duh, Sonata!"
  762. >"Did your brain break with that gem?!"
  763. >"Soylent Green is people!"
  764. >Aria and you stop laughing, worried that Sonata's feelings will be hurt.
  765. >Even Adagio looks concerned.
  766. >But Sonata keeps smiling.
  767. >"See? Now they'll think it was just me being silly. They won't connect it with you at all."
  768. >Adagio's eyes go wide.
  769. >"Sonata..."
  770. >The mocking and laughter continues, until someone shouts louder than everyone else.
  771. >"I LIKED IT!"
  772. >There was only one person who could get their voice to carry so loud and clear like that.
  773. >Everyone all at once looks over to Pinkie Pie, sitting at her usual table with the rest of the Mane Six.
  774. >She gives a thumbs up and winks.
  775. >"Nice one, Sonata!"
  776. >Sonata gives a thumbs up back to Pinkie.
  777. >The laughter stops.
  778. >"Oh, she was just making a joke."
  779. >"It wasn't a funny joke."
  780. >"All that did was make me want cheesy poofs."
  781. >You, Adagio, and Aria sit in awe as the room goes back to normal.
  782. >"What just happened?"
  783. >Aria asks stunned.
  784. >Sonata casually goes back to eating.
  785. >"Nothing important. Now let's finish our lunch before we run out of time."
  786. >Adagio looks at Sonata in amazement, slightly blushing.
  787. >She slowly goes back to eating, saying something under her breath with a frown.
  788. >"...Ridiculous."
  789.  
  790. >A few hours later and the final bell rings.
  791. >You go to your locker and do the usual drop and take.
  792. >You close it, and turn to find yourself face to face with Adagio, who pushes your umbrella on you.
  793. >"Here."
  794. "Oh, thanks."
  795. >A part of you hoped she would keep it for herself, but staying true to her stubborn nature, that isn't the case.
  796. >You take it and stuff it into your backpack.
  797. "You were right about it not raining today. Guess you'll make it to your bus with no problems. Just try not to be too rough with Jeff."
  798. >You tease with a wink.
  799. >She shudders.
  800. >"Shut up, Asparagus! Just the idea of me being with that bastard is enough to make me sick!"
  801. "Better not let him hear that."
  802. >You pick up your backpack.
  803. "Guess I'll see you when I see you."
  804. >Not wanting to upset her anymore than you already have, you decide to leave it there and start to walk away.
  805. >"Anon, wait."
  806. >Whoa, did Adagio just say your name?
  807. >That's the first time, isn't it?
  808. >You turn around and reply casually.
  809. "Yeah? Something wrong?"
  810. >"What you said, about getting me that job at the donut shop, did you really mean it?"
  811. >Her tone and expression are apprehensive.
  812. "Yeah, I did. In fact, I already talked to Joe about you."
  813. >"What?! I didn't ask you to do that!"
  814. "I know. I did it because I wanted to. And it seems to me you're interested."
  815. >You smile, while she frowns bitterly.
  816. "So how about it?"
  817. >"If I... started working there... would I be working with you?"
  818. >She asks looking away from you.
  819. "The position is to help me during my shift. So yeah, every time I work, you'd be there with me. Why does that matter?"
  820. >She blushes and becomes nervous.
  821. >"Why? I just... figured I'd let you do all the work while I take it easy. Yes, that's it!"
  822. >She finishes confidently.
  823. "Nice plan, Cheesy Poof. But you can't get away with it, and you'd have to be nice to the costumers."
  824. >"I already know that! I'm not Aria, after all."
  825. >You really needed to see Aria at her job.
  826. >"So, when can I start?"
  827. "Today, if you want. I'm heading there now so-"
  828. >"Good. Let's go."
  829. >She starts marching off ahead of you, while you stand there stunned at this sudden change of attitude.
  830. >When she notices you aren't following, she stops and looks back at you annoyed.
  831. >"What are you waiting for, Asparagus? I said let's go!"
  832. >This fucking girl.
  833.  
  834. >On the car ride over, you explain some of the details of the job.
  835. >She seems to actually listen to you for a change.
  836. >When you arrive, you introduce her to your boss, Joe.
  837. >He welcomes her warmly.
  838. >"Hello there! You must be the one Anon's told me so much about."
  839. >She shakes his hand firmly, and to your surprise, with enthusiasm.
  840. >"Adagio Dazzle, sir. Pleasure to meet you."
  841. >"So, you two are long time friends?"
  842. >"Oh yes, sir, I've known him since childhood. I used to call him String Bean when we were kids, but I've watched him grow to become Asparagus."
  843. >Joe laughs heartily.
  844. >"Asparagus?! Now that's funny!"
  845. >You put on a fake smile.
  846. "Yeah, well, I've always known her as a Cheesy Poof that keeps getting puffier!"
  847. >Joe laughs again, while you and Adagio fake your own laughter.
  848. >"Wow, you two sure are close, huh?"
  849. "We SURE are."
  850. >You both exchange quick glares while he isn't looking.
  851. >"Well, Anon's a good kid. So if he vouches for ya, that's enough for me. Welcome aboard!"
  852. >She salutes.
  853. >"I won't let you down, sir!"
  854. >They both chuckle.
  855. >"That's the spirit! C'mon, let's get you set up."
  856. >You're blown away.
  857. >You knew she would put on a show for the job, but this level of acting is amazing.
  858. >It's almost creepy, seeing her this way.
  859.  
  860. >"Do I really have to wear this hat?"
  861. >Adagio complains.
  862. "Yes, and you have to make sure your hair will stay bundled up like that."
  863. >"It's fine!"
  864. >She was now wearing the traditional Donut Joe apron and hat, as were you.
  865. >But seeing as how large and poofy her hair was, she had to turn it into a slimmed down ponytail.
  866. >It took three hair ties just to get it all under control.
  867. "You look good."
  868. >You snicker.
  869. >"Shut up, Asparagus!"
  870. "Really though, it's cute. You'll be a hit with the customers. Now, lemme show you how things work around here."
  871. >You were put in change of teaching her the ropes, while Joe was in the back baking fresh batches of donuts.
  872. >You and her would be working the registers and taking orders mostly, among other things.
  873. >Simple stuff, as you said before.
  874. >You expected she would handle it well, but what happened in the next hour surprised you yet again.
  875. >She had completely gotten the hang of it.
  876. >She was polite and courteous to everyone.
  877. >Not to mention quick and efficient, finding her way around everything as if this place was her second home.
  878. >Another hour later, she didn't even need your help with anything anymore, easily keeping pace with you.
  879. >When your shift was over, Joe showered her with praise.
  880. >"Great work, kid! Anon was right about you."
  881. >"Thank you, sir."
  882. >"Hey, call me Joe from now on."
  883. >She smiles and shakes his hand again.
  884. >"Joe it is then."
  885.  
  886. >Out of the work attire, and in the car heading back to the apartment, you gave her your own praise.
  887. "You did well back there, Adagio."
  888. >"Of course, it's an easy job like you said. Even a monkey could do it. I seriously hope you don't take pride in it."
  889. "And there she is folks! The real Adagio has returned in all her horrible glory!"
  890. >You make fake stadium cheering sounds.
  891. >She punches you in the arm hard enough to hurt a little and get a noise out of you.
  892. "Ow!"
  893. >"...although..."
  894. >She yawns.
  895. >"It is tiring."
  896. "Standing up and serving on people constantly will do that."
  897. >"I'm impressed you have the stamina to do it so often."
  898. >You grow a cheeky smile.
  899. "Impressed with my stamina you say? Are you coming onto me?"
  900. >You tease.
  901. >Another punch to the arm, but harder this time.
  902. "OW! Stop that! I'm driving!"
  903. >"If we crash, I'll just blame it on you."
  904. "Please, after two minutes with you the authorities would be on my side."
  905. >"Excuse me? Did you not see that award winning performance I just put on?"
  906. "Shit, you're right. Damn it."
  907. >"Mmm. ...I guess this makes us even."
  908. "For what?"
  909. >"The apology."
  910. "So... so wait, me getting you this job makes us even for you apologizing to me?!"
  911. >"Of course. You didn't think that was a freebie or something, did you?"
  912. "Wow. You are truly amazing."
  913. >She chuckles lightly, staring out the passenger window.
  914. >"So I've been told."
  915. >This conversation reminds you of a question you've been meaning to ask.
  916. >But you had to ask in a way that wouldn't upset her before she would answer it.
  917. "Hey... what's the deal with Aria and Sonata?"
  918. >"What do you mean? Their deal is they're idiots."
  919. "No, I meant like, haven't they mellowed out since the battle of the bands? I just remember them being so... cruel. They're a lot nicer now."
  920. >She doesn't say anything for a few moments, continuing to stare out the window.
  921. >"...The Elements of Harmony."
  922. "What?"
  923. >"That's what the Rainbooms used to defeat us. We were bathed completely in it's magic. And that magic seems to have a way of... changing people."
  924. "Like what happened to Sunset?"
  925. >"Yes. And I've also noticed that it's slowly changing Sonata and Aria as well."
  926. "But Sunset changed almost instantly."
  927. >"The crown she wore was already imbued with the magic they used against her. But our gems weren't. They acted as somewhat of a shield for us, keeping the magic from having as strong of an effect."
  928. "I guess that makes sense?"
  929. >Now that you've gotten an explanation, you might as well ask what you were afraid to before.
  930. "Is it... changing you too?"
  931. >"NO!"
  932. >She suddenly snaps.
  933. >"I'm still myself! And I'll stay as myself! I won't lose my very being to that... pathetic friendship magic."
  934. >That was a huge fucking lie.
  935. >It was clear to see how much she had already changed since you first met her.
  936. >But if she refused to see it, then let her be.
  937.  
  938. >You reach your destination, parking in the same spot as before.
  939. "This'll become a usual thing, so I'll see you later."
  940. >"Hey, you're getting down too."
  941. "What? Why?"
  942. >"I'm not carrying all these donuts and coffee alone! Now take a box and hurry up."
  943. >She grabs one of the large boxes from the back seat, and shoves it on you.
  944. "Okay, but I'm leaving right away."
  945. >"Sure you are."
  946. >She mutters under her breath.
  947. "Did you say something?"
  948. >"Hmm? No."
  949. >You reluctantly follow her to the apartment door.
  950. >Before she can even get her keys out, Sonata opens the door excitedly.
  951. >"Do you have donuts?! Oh my gosh you have donuts!"
  952. >You hold the box out to her.
  953. "Enjoy, I'm gonna head home now-"
  954. >"Let's eat them together!"
  955. >She grabs your arm and pulls you inside.
  956. >Adagio walks in behind you and closes the door.
  957. >You look back at her in horror while being dragged to the dining table.
  958. "Wait, did you plan this?!"
  959. >She smiles evilly.
  960. >"Welcome back to hell, Asparagus."
  961. "Damn you, Cheesy Poof!"
  962. >Sonata and Adagio place the donuts and coffee on the table.
  963. >"Eeee! I'm so excited!"
  964. >Sonata bounces.
  965. "Sonata, I can't stay. You know Adagio gets upset when I'm here."
  966. >"I don't mind if you stay."
  967. >You raise an eyebrow.
  968. "You don't?"
  969. >She looks away from you.
  970. >Sonata tugs on you.
  971. >"If she says she doesn't mind, she means it! Please stay, Anon! I've been waiting to eat these donuts with you for forever!"
  972. "By 'forever,' you mean since yesterday?"
  973. >"Exactly!"
  974. >You sigh.
  975. "Sonata..."
  976. >"Pleaseeee!"
  977. >She gives you her patented puppy dog act.
  978. "That won't work on me!"
  979. >You cross your arms with a determined face.
  980. >You weren't going to fall for such a silly trick.
  981. >She raises the intensity and begins to whine, leaning in closer.
  982. >Looking into those big, watery eyes and quivering lips is... getting to you.
  983. >You start sweating.
  984. >You're short of breath.
  985. >Your heart feels like it's being torn apart.
  986. >You can't take any more!
  987. "Okay! Just please, make it stop!"
  988. >"Yaaay! I'm three for three!"
  989. >You take a few deep gasps of air, while clutching your chest, and look back to Adagio.
  990. "Wha-what is that?! She's way better at it than you are!"
  991. >"I'm beginning to think it's some type of dark magic. Darker than any I've ever encountered."
  992. >She answers with a serious tone.
  993. >Sonata smiles.
  994. >"Aw thanks, Dagi!"
  995. >"That wasn't a compliment!"
  996. >You all take a seat at the table.
  997. "Where's Aria?"
  998. >"She should be coming back from work soon."
  999. >As if on cue, Aria walks through the door.
  1000. >"Sup, losers! Your reason for living has returned."
  1001. >"Aria! Anon and Adagio brought donuts!"
  1002. >"Whoopty doo, Sonata."
  1003. >Aria rolls her eyes and twirls a finger.
  1004. >"Do you not want any?"
  1005. >Sonata frowns.
  1006. >"Of course I do! Just because I'm being a dick doesn't mean I don't want some fuckin' donuts!"
  1007. >Aria explains as she sits down next to her.
  1008. >Plates, donuts and coffee are all passed around.
  1009. >This is the third time you're sitting down to eat with this group of ex-evil girls.
  1010. >What the fuck man?
  1011. >Shouldn't you be questioning any of this?
  1012. >Sonata takes a sip of coffee.
  1013. >"This tastes great!"
  1014. >Aria's eyes go wide.
  1015. >"Whoa wait, this is decaf, right? Please say she's drinking decaf?"
  1016. >"It's decaf."
  1017. >Adagio answers calmly.
  1018. >Aria sighs with relief.
  1019. "What's so bad if she has some regular coffee?"
  1020. >"Imagine Sonata on caffeine, what do you think?"
  1021. >Adagio asks.
  1022. "O-oh... what's that like?"
  1023. >"You don't want to know."
  1024. >Aria warns.
  1025. >Adagio simply shakes her head at you with a serious face.
  1026. >"Dunking donuts in the coffee is hard."
  1027. >Sonata complains.
  1028. "There is a right way to dunk them."
  1029. >Her eyes light up.
  1030. >"Teach me your secrets, master!"
  1031. "You can't just dunk the whole thing in, of course. It won't fit. You have to either take a bite first, or break it apart."
  1032. >"Of course! That makes so much sense!"
  1033. >She realizes as she breaks a donut in half.
  1034. "Also, you have to be careful not to leave it in too long, or else it'll get too soggy. It should be a quick dunk, but not too quick. It takes a lot of practice to get it just right."
  1035. >Sonata nods.
  1036. >"I see!"
  1037. >"Or, you know, you could just dunk the damn thing and not make a big deal out of it."
  1038. >Aria interjects.
  1039. >"It's just donuts and coffee for fuck's sake."
  1040. >Adagio adds.
  1041. >Sonata suddenly gets upset.
  1042. >"Hey! Don't talk that way about donuts at this table! Put them back in the box if you're gonna be like-OH! Ohhh there they go."
  1043. >You slam your fist onto the table.
  1044. "Stop licking your food! Adagio! No, Aria! Don't stick your tongue into the donut hole like that! DON'T WAVE YOUR TONGUE AT ME WITH IT IN THE HOLE! UGH!"
  1045. >"That's just naughty."
  1046. >Sonata says flatly.
  1047. >"Want me to teach you how to do it?"
  1048. >Aria offers.
  1049. >"YEAH!"
  1050. >Sonata smiles with Aria.
  1051. "Don't show her how to do that! Don't start waving your tongue too Sonataaaa! Adagio, get them to stop!"
  1052. >She raises her hands.
  1053. >"If you think I'm getting in the middle of that, you're crazy."
  1054. >"Arrrr!"
  1055. >You look back over to Aria and Sonata, who have two donuts up to their eyes, pretending to use them as binoculars.
  1056. >"Arrrr! Do ya see anythin', First Mate Blaze?"
  1057. >Sonata asks with her best pirate voice while looking around.
  1058. >"Arrr! I ain't seen nothin' yet, Cap'n' Dusk. But wait!"
  1059. >Aria suddenly locks onto you.
  1060. >"Ahoy! I see a virgin off the port bow, I do!"
  1061. "I'm not a virgin!"
  1062. >Adagio and Aria start laughing hysterically.
  1063. "What's so funny?!"
  1064. >Adagio catches her breath.
  1065. >"Anon, please, don't joke like that, I'm trying to eat."
  1066. "But I'm really not!"
  1067. >Sonata leans over and places her hand on yours.
  1068. >"It's okay, Anon, I think it's romantic to wait until marriage."
  1069. >You pull your hand away.
  1070. "I've had girlfriends, you know!"
  1071. >You give Adagio a glare.
  1072. >"Of course you have, but I just can't imagine any girl wanting to be intimate with a piece of asparagus."
  1073. >Aria laughs again.
  1074. >You're giving Adagio a death stare, but she continues.
  1075. >"You can't hide it, not when you give off such an aura of-"
  1076. >Sonata, now standing behind Adagio, places a donut on top of her head.
  1077. >"I crown thee, Queen Cheesy Poof!"
  1078. >She giggles.
  1079. >"Get that sugary wheel off my head!"
  1080. >Adagio shouts as she throws it onto the table.
  1081. >You get an idea.
  1082. >An opportunity has arisen, and you will take it.
  1083. "That's a waste of a good donut."
  1084. >You pick it up.
  1085. "I'd better throw it away."
  1086. >"What?!"
  1087. >Adagio is obviously offended.
  1088. >"No! Don't do that, I'll eat it!"
  1089. >Sonata takes the donut from you and bites into it.
  1090. >Just as planned.
  1091. "Eeewww, Sonata! That's gross!"
  1092. >Adagio is now furious.
  1093. >"HOW DARE YOU! My hair is cleaner than this damn table! If anything, that donut soiled me! Nothing touches this hair!"
  1094. >You grow an evil smile, that rivals the one she gave you earlier.
  1095. "Nothing except a dinky hat and three hair ties, right?"
  1096. >Adagio's face drops.
  1097. >Aria and Sonata burst out laughing.
  1098. >"It took you three hair ties?! Oh my god, I have to see that!"
  1099. >Aria continues to laugh.
  1100. >Adagio glares at you.
  1101. >"Well, well, someone wants another punch I see!"
  1102. >She shakes her fist at you.
  1103. >Sonata stops laughing and perks up excitedly.
  1104. >"Ooo! Someone wants punch?! I just made a new batch! Lemme get it out of the fridge!"
  1105. >All at once, you drop your arguments and start talking over each other trying to get Sonata to stop.
  1106. >"That's not what I meant!"
  1107. "Fruit punch doesn't really go with donuts."
  1108. >"Enough with your damn punch!"
  1109.  
  1110. >After you've had your fill of donuts, coffee, and... fruit punch, you get up from the table.
  1111. "Alright, I'm going home now."
  1112. >"Hey, Gus, maybe you can pick me up from work too?"
  1113. >Aria grins.
  1114. >Sonata jumps out of her seat and rushes over to you with a big smile.
  1115. >"Me too, me too!"
  1116. "Guys, I'm not a cab service."
  1117. >"But you are a public transportation, aren't you?"
  1118. >Adagio teases.
  1119. >"You pick up the public? I'm public! People buy my stock all the time!"
  1120. "Sonata, I-"
  1121. >She tries to give you the puppy eyes again.
  1122. >"Pleaseee-"
  1123. "Nope nope nope!"
  1124. >You turn around and start marching to the door.
  1125. >Sonata grabs you from behind and forces you to look at her.
  1126. >"Look into my eyes, Anon! LOOK!"
  1127. "Oh god it burns! Okay, okay! Jesus! I'll pick you up sometime!"
  1128. >"Yay!"
  1129. "Really now, goodnight."
  1130. >You open the door and walk out.
  1131. >"Goodnight, Anon!"
  1132. >Sonata stands in the doorway and waves.
  1133. >"Thanks for the donuts and coffee, Anonnn!"
  1134. >She calls out.
  1135. >You wave without looking back, continuing to your car.
  1136. >"I'll see you tomorrow, Anonnnnnn!"
  1137. >She yells across the parking lot.
  1138. >You wave back again, almost to your car.
  1139. >"I'll miss you, Anonnnnnnnnnn!"
  1140. "CLOSE THE DOOR, SONATA!"
  1141. >"Okayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!"
  1142. >She closes the door.
  1143. >You get into your car and head home.
  1144.  
  1145.  
  1146. >A few days later, it's Saturday.
  1147. >No school, which meant you only had to deal with work today.
  1148. >And to keep your word, you would not only be picking up Adagio, but Aria and Sonata as well.
  1149. >A few knocks on their apartment door, and it's opened by the yellow bitch herself.
  1150. >She looks ready for work, but also tired, holding a cup of coffee.
  1151. >"There you are. It's about damn time."
  1152. >Ever her bright and cheery self.
  1153. "I'm not even late, I'm early!"
  1154. >"I know that. I guess I just hate the idea of having you pick me up at all."
  1155. "Well I could, you know, not pick you up?"
  1156. >"If you didn't I'd kill you."
  1157. >She casually takes a sip.
  1158. "What the hell? Then what do you want me to do?!"
  1159. >"I want you to shut up!"
  1160. >You point a finger at her.
  1161. "Listen here, Cheesy Poof-"
  1162. >Your morning bickering is interrupted by Sonata yelling from the back of the apartment.
  1163. >"Hey! Is that Anon you're telling to shut up, or the mailman?!"
  1164. >Adagio yells back behind her.
  1165. >"It's Asparagus!"
  1166. >"Good, because you can't yell at the mailman anymore or he'll stop giving us our mail!"
  1167. >Another voice starts yelling from the back of the apartment.
  1168. >"What do you care about the mail, Sonata?!"
  1169. >"I like to read about what's going on in the world!"
  1170. >"But we only get junk mail! Like fliers for takeout deals!"
  1171. >"That's the most important news!"
  1172. >Adagio facepalms.
  1173. >"Both of you shut up and let's go!"
  1174. >You narrow your eyes at her.
  1175. "This isn't over, Poof."
  1176. >She scoffs, and walks past you towards your car.
  1177. >"I'm sure."
  1178. >Before you can say anything more, Aria bumps into your shoulder again on her way to the car.
  1179. >"Morning, Gus."
  1180. "Morning, Grump."
  1181. >"Watch it!"
  1182. >She warns you.
  1183. "You watch it!"
  1184. >You glare at each other before she continues on.
  1185. >Why are you even putting yourself through all this?
  1186. >As if to answer your question, Sonata shows up at the door.
  1187. >"Anon's picking me up! Yay!"
  1188. >Seeing Sonata so bright and cheerful in the morning instantly makes you feel better.
  1189. >The other two were right, she had no need for coffee.
  1190. >She closes the door behind her and locks it.
  1191. "Ready?"
  1192. >"Yep!"
  1193. >She skips her way to the car, with you following behind.
  1194. >You get in and start driving.
  1195. >Adagio sits next to you, Aria and Sonata in the back.
  1196. >Sonata bounces in her seat.
  1197. >"I'm so excited for this road trip!"
  1198. >"It's not a road trip, we're just going to work."
  1199. >Aria corrects.
  1200. >"Good enough for me! I'm just happy to be in Anon's car!"
  1201. "What's so great about being in my car?"
  1202. >"I don't like the bus. I tried talking to people on it, but nobody wants to talk to me or even play any games."
  1203. >She sulks.
  1204. >"Duh! I don't want to talk to you, never mind strangers on a bus. What kind of game were you even trying to play?"
  1205. >Aria asks.
  1206. >"I spy. Ooo! We can play it now!"
  1207. >The car makes a collective groan.
  1208. >"C'mon! It'll be fun! Ummm... I spy... something blue!"
  1209. >Aria scoffs.
  1210. >"You?"
  1211. >"No, silly! The sky!"
  1212. >She points upward.
  1213. >"You mean a big, empty space of nothingness? Then I still got it right."
  1214. >"Heyyyy!"
  1215. >Without having said anything so far, Adagio suddenly punches you in the arm.
  1216. "Ow! What was that for?!"
  1217. >"Oh, sorry, I thought we were supposed to punch someone in the arm when we spot something."
  1218. "That's a different game! And you didn't even call out what you spied!"
  1219. >"I spied a virgin loser."
  1220. >"Hey! I spy one of those too!"
  1221. >Aria laughs.
  1222. >"Me three!"
  1223. >Two more punches from behind.
  1224. "Ow! OW! Dammit! You girls stop it this instant or I will turn this car around!"
  1225. >Sonata cheers.
  1226. >"Yaay! See!? This really is a road trip! Let's stop at a gas station and buy some useless souvenirs!"
  1227. >"Shut up!"
  1228.  
  1229. >The first to be dropped off was Sonata.
  1230. >Her job was the closest to the apartment.
  1231. >You pull into the the parking lot of the giant toy store to let her out.
  1232. >"Bye guys! Have a good time at your jobs of selling yummy donuts and hipster stuff!"
  1233. >You wave to her through the open window.
  1234. "You too."
  1235. >She smiles and shakes with joy.
  1236. >"Ooo! It's so great to see you guys before work! I can feel your love, and it gets me pumped!"
  1237. >Adagio merely grumbles, while Aria yells out the window.
  1238. >"Get bent, Sonata!"
  1239. >Sonata just smiles back.
  1240. >"Aww! Love you guys too!"
  1241. >She waves and runs into the toy store.
  1242.  
  1243. >Next up was Aria.
  1244. >Her job at the mall was the second closest to the apartment.
  1245. >You pull up to the entrance of Aria's choosing.
  1246. >Before she gets out, she has something to tell you.
  1247. >She slaps your arm.
  1248. >"Hey, Gus, listen to me. Don't come to pick me up until I text you, alright? I might have to stay a bit longer than normal."
  1249. "Okay."
  1250. >"I just, uh... don't want you to wait around on me for nothing."
  1251. >She seems nervous.
  1252. >You and Adagio look at each other, eyebrows raised.
  1253. "That's... oddly considerate of you."
  1254. >Aria grabs your collar and pulls on you from the backseat.
  1255. >"I'm serious, Gus!"
  1256. "Alright, fine! Calm down!"
  1257. >She lets go of you.
  1258. >"S-sorry. Just wait for my text."
  1259. >Did Aria just apologize?
  1260. >This is too weird.
  1261. >She gets out of the car and walks inside.
  1262.  
  1263. >You and Adagio arrive at Joe's.
  1264. >And as usual, everything goes smoothly.
  1265. >Adagio completely mastered the job.
  1266. >You had come to admire her for it.
  1267. >Your job was never so easy, thanks to her being such a great shift partner.
  1268. >Whenever you needed something, she had it waiting for you.
  1269. >Whenever she had her hands full, you gave her an extra pair.
  1270. >It was so bizarre.
  1271. >Outside of work, it seemed like you two just couldn't get along, but behind the counter, you complimented each other perfectly.
  1272. >Joe even started calling you both his 'Double Aces.'
  1273. >If only it could be like this with her all the time...
  1274.  
  1275. >Sometime later, your shift is over.
  1276. >It's back in the car and on the road again.
  1277. "So I guess we should go pick up Sonata first?"
  1278. >"Why?"
  1279. "Aria hasn't texted us yet."
  1280. >"That's all the more reason to go get her now. Don't tell me you actually want to respect her wishes?"
  1281. >You grow an evil smile.
  1282. "Never had any such intentions. You?"
  1283. >"Fuck no. She's hiding something, and I want to know what it is. Now step on it."
  1284. "You got it."
  1285.  
  1286. >Inside the mall, you and Adagio search for the Hot Topic store.
  1287. >You find the familiar, gaudy sign and walk in.
  1288. >And there, behind the counter, is a fantastic sight.
  1289. >It's Aria.
  1290. >Completely dressed in black.
  1291. >Black sneakers.
  1292. >Black jeans with multiple zippers.
  1293. >A black t-shirt with the current most popular emo band on it.
  1294. >Black hair clips with spikes.
  1295. >She even had black nail polish, eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick.
  1296. >Upon seeing this, you and Adagio start laughing hysterically.
  1297. >She notices you and becomes furious.
  1298. >"DAMN IT! I TOLD YOU IDIOTS TO WAIT FOR ME!"
  1299. >You're both barely able to catch your breath.
  1300. "W-wow! You sure look EMOtional!"
  1301. >"W-why the fuck are you dressed like a goth?!"
  1302. >"This is my work outfit, okay?! It's part of the job!"
  1303. >You both have a burst of laughter again.
  1304. >"I've never seen work clothes like that before!"
  1305. "I didn't know you were such a big fan of that band!"
  1306. >"I'm not, you ass! It's not like I listen to their music all day!"
  1307. >As if to mock Aria, the store is suddenly filled with the sounds of the band's top hit, thanks to the ample speaker system.
  1308. >"Oh come the fuck on!"
  1309. >Aria shouts at the speakers.
  1310. >You and Adagio are now laughing so hard, you have to lean on each other for support.
  1311. >Adagio, not able to take it, even bangs her hand on the counter in front of Aria.
  1312. >Aria's rage is boiling so much, you could swear her makeup was melting off.
  1313. >"I think you two fuckers need to leave now."
  1314. >She hisses.
  1315. "That's no way to talk to your customers."
  1316. >"You're not customers unless you buy something!"
  1317. >"Alright then, we'll look around for something while we wait for your shift to end. Come on, Anon."
  1318. >"No dammit-!"
  1319. >Before she can protest anymore, an actual customer walks up to the counter with a stack of t-shirts.
  1320. >You and Adagio spend the next few minutes looking at various things in the store.
  1321. >You make your way from the back to the entrance.
  1322. >"Who the hell would want to buy this crap?"
  1323. "I dunno, I wouldn't mind getting some of this video game stuff."
  1324. >"You're such a dork. But at least I know you're not into this shit."
  1325. >She holds up a t-shirt of the cartoon My little Horsey.
  1326. >Truth was, you loved that cartoon.
  1327. >But she, nor anyone, ever needed to know that.
  1328. "Nope, not my style."
  1329. >You say casually.
  1330. >She chuckles, and points back to the counter.
  1331. >"It certainly seems to be his style."
  1332. >There at the counter is now a young man wearing a fedora, and holding a Horsey figure.
  1333. "Heh, yeah, what a loser."
  1334. >You so want that figure.
  1335. >Your attention is taken away from the counter by a little old lady walking up to you.
  1336. >"Excuse me young man. I heard I can buy a present my grandson would like from this store. Can you help me?"
  1337. "I'm only looking around, she works here."
  1338. >You point to Aria, who is scanning the Horsey figure into the register.
  1339. >"Aw man! I can't believe I got a hold of this limited edition Larpy figure! I'm so happy!"
  1340. >The fedora guy says excitedly.
  1341. >Seemingly at her limit, Aria speaks up.
  1342. >"Buying this figure won't really bring you happiness, you know."
  1343. >"I-it won't?"
  1344. >He asks startled.
  1345. >"No. All it will do is momentarily take your mind off the misery and pain you feel constantly."
  1346. >"That's not true!"
  1347. >"Yes it is, Mr. Fedora. And when you look into this horse's dead, soulless, painted on eyes, you'll be reminded of your mortality. A mortality that will end with you dying alone."
  1348. >"O-oh god!"
  1349. >The man begins to sob loudly at the counter.
  1350. >You and Adagio look at the old woman, who is in complete shock at this display, her mouth hanging open.
  1351. >With a smile, you lean over to her and point at Aria again.
  1352. "She's employee of the month!"
  1353. >"For the third time in a row!"
  1354. >Adagio adds.
  1355. >The old lady looks between you both, then back to Aria, who is simply glaring at the man, now bawling onto the counter.
  1356. >The grandma turns around, and hobbles out of the store in silent horror.
  1357. >As you and Adagio watch her slowly run away, it only takes a mere glance at each other before you start laughing all over again.
  1358.  
  1359. >"Fired! I can't believe they fired me!"
  1360. >Aria shouts from the backseat, with a washed face and normal clothes.
  1361. "Yeah, that's a real surprise."
  1362. >You say sarcastically, as you drive to pick up Sonata.
  1363. >"Hey, they should thank me! That loser is probably going to change his life around now because of me!"
  1364. >"He'll definitely be getting some therapy."
  1365. >Adagio chuckles.
  1366. "Seriously, Aria, I think that all black outfit was getting to you. You said some pretty dark shit."
  1367. >"On the contrary, Anon, I'd say little miss black sunshine did a fine job of getting into character!"
  1368. >You both laugh again.
  1369. >Aria leans in between the front seats, hanging over both your shoulders.
  1370. >"Stuff it you two! And I don't want a single word about any of this getting out to anyone! YOU HEAR ME?!"
  1371. >"It's so ridiculous, no one would believe it anyway."
  1372. >Adagio reassures.
  1373. "But what are you going to tell Sonata?"
  1374. >Aria lets herself fall into the middle of the backseat and crosses her arms with a frown.
  1375. >"I'll... I'll think of something."
  1376.  
  1377. >You pull into the parking lot of the toy store.
  1378. "Let Sonata know we're here."
  1379. >Adagio taps on her phone.
  1380. >"She's not replying to my texts or calls."
  1381. >Aria groans.
  1382. >"We'll have to get down and yank her out then."
  1383.  
  1384. >Inside the store, you're all overwhelmed by the sheer size of the place.
  1385. >You and Adagio wait near the entrance, while Aria talks to the customer service desk.
  1386. >She comes back with an annoyed look.
  1387. "What did they say?"
  1388. >"Sonata left her walkie talkie at the employee office. They have no way of contacting her or any idea where she is."
  1389. >"Let's just have her paged over the loud speakers."
  1390. >"They've already tried that."
  1391. >"What the hell is she doing?!"
  1392. >Adagio shouts.
  1393. "So it's up to us then. But how are we supposed to find her in here?"
  1394. >"We'll have to split up. You two look on that side, while I take this one."
  1395. >Adagio orders.
  1396. >Aria rolls her eyes.
  1397. >"Another great plan from our ever brilliant leader."
  1398. >"Do you have a better idea, Aria?"
  1399. >"No."
  1400. >She huffs.
  1401. >"Then shut up and call each other if you find her. When we do, I'm going to wring the fruit punch out of her!"
  1402. >Adagio marches off.
  1403. >You shrug at Aria and start on your way.
  1404. >You soon notice there are screams coming from deeper within the store.
  1405. >You also notice that Aria is following you.
  1406. "Aria, aren't we supposed to split up?"
  1407. >"Yeah right, Gus. Haven't you ever watched a horror movie? Whenever people split up, they die."
  1408. "This isn't a horror movie."
  1409. >"Sonata's disappeared without a trace, there are violent screams coming from down this way, and there's a blood thirsty Adagio roaming the aisles as we speak."
  1410. >You snap your fingers and point at her.
  1411. "Okay, see, that last bit with Adagio? That got me. Alright, we'll stick together."
  1412. >"Damn straight."
  1413. >You walk further into the store, the screams becoming louder.
  1414. >"What's with this? Its freaking me out!"
  1415. >You don't say anything, too caught up in listening to the sounds.
  1416. >You both quickly realize the screams are coming from all around you.
  1417. >Whatever it was, you were now in the middle of it.
  1418. >Footsteps were drawing closer to you.
  1419. >Closer.
  1420. >Closer!
  1421. >You and Aria peak around the corner of an aisle to suddenly face...
  1422. "Sonata!"
  1423. >"Hey, you guys!"
  1424. >She smiles, holding a toy gun and wearing a ton of gear.
  1425. >She has extra guns and ammo clips on a multitude of straps and bandoleers.
  1426. >She's even wearing black warpaint under her eyes and a blue headband on her forehead.
  1427. >"Sonata, what are you doing? What is that stuff?"
  1428. >"Playing with all the kids! This is a new gun tag toy that just came out!"
  1429. "Gun tag?"
  1430. >"Yeah! See this wrist thingy?"
  1431. >She points at what looks like a watch on her arm with three blue bars lit up.
  1432. >"This is a health watch! These bars are your life. When you're hit, the wrist thingy senses it, and you lose a bar. Lose all three and you're dead."
  1433. "Well, that sounds fun and all, but we came to pick you up, it's time to go."
  1434. >"No, Anon! I can't go yet!"
  1435. "Why not?"
  1436. >"Because I promised the blue team I'd lead them to victory!"
  1437. "Blue team?"
  1438. >"Yeah! I'm captain of the blue team, and we're against the red team in capture the flag! Look, you two can play with us!"
  1439. >She hands you and Aria her extra guns.
  1440. >Aria scoffs.
  1441. >"I don't care about this stupid shit. It's just a game."
  1442. >"It's not just a game! I promised them! Please, Anon, help me win. As soon as it's over, we'll go home."
  1443. >She gives you the lite version of her puppy eyes.
  1444. >You look over to Aria.
  1445. "She won't stop until this is over."
  1446. >"I still don't care. Give me a reason I should help, Sonata."
  1447. >"You'll get to shoot at multiple little children and possibly make them cry from defeat?"
  1448. >Aria loads her gun with a satisfying click sound.
  1449. >"I'm in."
  1450. >She grins evilly.
  1451. >You take a closer look at the guns.
  1452. "These almost look real. Wait... are these real BBs?! This could hurt someone!"
  1453. >"No, no! They're soft, look!"
  1454. >Sonata shoots at a stuffed bear sitting on a shelf.
  1455. >The soft pellet bounces harmlessly off the plush.
  1456. >You sigh with relief.
  1457. >"Here."
  1458. >Sonata hands you both extra ammo clips and your own health watches, placing you into the game.
  1459. >She narrows her eyes.
  1460. >"Alright troops, it's dangerous out there, but stay close to me and you just might make it out of this alive."
  1461. >You raise your eyebrow as Sonata and Aria move to a different aisle.
  1462. >You follow and catch up to them, now on the 'battlefield' taking cover behind a bin of toys.
  1463. >"Hey, where's our team's flag anyway?"
  1464. >Aria asks.
  1465. >Sonata pulls a blue flag from her jeans pocket.
  1466. >"I'm keeping it on me. The red team has theirs at a base further down."
  1467. "So anyone could take the flag from you? Isn't that risky?"
  1468. >"Nah, they'd have to beat all of us to get it, and we won't let that happen."
  1469. >She smiles confidently, and starts yelling orders.
  1470. >"EVERYONE MOVE UP! WE'RE CHARGING THEIR DEFENSES!"
  1471. >From all around you, boys and girls start rushing ahead, the sound of gunfire and war cries filling the air.
  1472. >Sonata cheers them on.
  1473. "You're taking this pretty serious, aren't you, Sonata?"
  1474. >"This IS serious! Almost half our troops are already dead! Just look!"
  1475. >She points to a young boy laying on the ground, motionless.
  1476. "...He's only pretending to be dead. I can see him squinting his eyes while looking around!"
  1477. >She grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you.
  1478. >"Stop deluding yourself, man! He's dead, Anon! And there's nothing we can do to bring him back!"
  1479. >She lets go of you and joins in the fray.
  1480. "Aria, I think we should do something. Sonata is way too into this and-"
  1481. >You're interrupted by the sound of Aria firing her gun and laughing maniacally.
  1482. >"YEAH! KILLIN' ALL YOU BRATS! STAY DOWN YOU LITTLE SHITS!"
  1483. >And that's it.
  1484. >You're the only sane person left here.
  1485.  
  1486. >After gaining some ground with a few gunfights, and 'losing' some troops, your team is close to the enemy base.
  1487. >"It's just up ahead."
  1488. >Aria reports, peeking out from an aisle.
  1489. >"What's our move, Sonata?"
  1490. >"Shh! This location is compromised, the red team is listening."
  1491. >Sonata then begins to give a series of complex hand signals to everyone.
  1492. >They're so fast and precise, you can barely keep up.
  1493. >But everyone on your team somehow manages to understand perfectly.
  1494. >She waves her finger in a circle, and everyone but Aria, Sonata, and you fan out to different spots.
  1495. "Wha... what does ANY of that even mean!?"
  1496. >Aria facepalms, while Sonata shakes her head in disappointment.
  1497. >"Just follow us, Gus."
  1498. >Aria orders.
  1499. >You do as you're told, moving with the girls to take refuge behind a mountain of My Little Horsey plushes.
  1500. >Damn, you really want the ButterShy one.
  1501. >"This pile of little girl crap will keep us safe."
  1502. "Heyyy!"
  1503. >You say offended.
  1504. >Aria gives you a questioning look.
  1505. >"Hey what?"
  1506. >You smile nervously.
  1507. "Uh, heyyy, what's the plan?"
  1508. >"Well, we're close. And the three of us have been able to get here with all our life bars intact."
  1509. >Sonata says.
  1510. >"That's cause of our awesome skills."
  1511. >Aria grins smugly.
  1512. "And it has nothing to do with the fact our opponents are children from the ages of six and up, right?"
  1513. >"But I know there's a trap up ahead. And I sense something dangerous nearby. Someone deadly, with an immense amount of skill. A presence I've not felt since..."
  1514. >Sonata narrows her eyes, as does Aria.
  1515. >"I feel it too. Whoever it is, they're waiting for us to strike."
  1516. >"What should we do, Aria?"
  1517. >Aria rubs her chin in deep thought, until a devious smile grows.
  1518. >She begins to whisper into Sonata's ear.
  1519. >Her eyes go wide.
  1520. >"Oh... oh no. We can't do that to him."
  1521. >Aria whispers some more, and Sonata nods.
  1522. >"I understand... it has to be done. But... you do it. I just can't bring myself..."
  1523. "What is it?"
  1524. >Aria turns to you with a reassuring smile.
  1525. >"Sonata and I are going in from the front, but we want you to take that spot over there..."
  1526. >She points off.
  1527. >"And be the one to take the final shots from behind."
  1528. "You mean, you guys are trusting me with the surprise attack?"
  1529. >Aria places her hand on your shoulder.
  1530. >"That's right, Anon, because we believe in you."
  1531. "Wow, guys... I... don't know what to say."
  1532. >"Once we take our positions, move out. We'll cover you."
  1533. >Sonata and Aria fan out separate ways.
  1534. >Once you're sure enough time has passed, you leave the safety of Waifu Mountain to run out in the open.
  1535. >But as soon as you think you'll make it, you hear Aria call out loud and clear.
  1536. >"BLUE OUT IN THE OPEN!"
  1537. "What?! ARRGH!"
  1538. >You're hit from all directions, the trap completely sprung onto you.
  1539. >Your life bars gone in an instant, your health watch makes a buzzing sound, and you fall to the floor.
  1540. >Even so, the shooting continues at your 'corpse.'
  1541. >Shitty kids.
  1542. >But then, Sonata and Aria close in on opposite sides, mowing down the now vulnerable red team.
  1543. >With that taken care of, Aria and Sonata run over to you.
  1544. >Sonata takes you into her arms dramatically.
  1545. >"Oh, Anon, say something!"
  1546. "You lied! You used me as a damn decoy!"
  1547. >"Pretty smart, huh?"
  1548. >Aria grins.
  1549. >"I'm sorry, Anon. I promise, your death shall not be in vain!"
  1550. "...That's touching, Sonata, but what is Aria doing?"
  1551. >"I'm taking your gun and ammo."
  1552. "You're looting my body?!"
  1553. >"Hey, it's not like you're gonna need em'! You're a dead guy!"
  1554. "I don't have to be dead! Just give me another one of those wrist thingies and I'll be back in the game!"
  1555. >"Shhh!"
  1556. >Sonata runs her fingers over your eyelids, closing them softly.
  1557. >"Sleep now, my sweet prince. I'll always remember you."
  1558. >Reluctantly, you play along, keeping your eyes closed as Sonata lays you back down.
  1559. >Though you keep one eye slightly open to see what's happening.
  1560. >Aria looks down at her life bars.
  1561. >"Damn it, some of those brats got lucky shots in. I'm down to one bar."
  1562. >She sighs.
  1563. >"What now?"
  1564. >Sonata narrows her eyes.
  1565. >"...She's coming."
  1566. >She?
  1567. >"Stick to the plan, go."
  1568. >Sonata motions to Aria, who nods and runs off.
  1569. >The sound of a chilling laughter fills the aisles.
  1570. >It sounds like it's coming from everywhere, but nowhere.
  1571. >And yet, it draws closer.
  1572. >Sonata slowly walks out into the open, and suddenly...
  1573. >"GAH!"
  1574. >Sonata is shot from behind!
  1575. >She whips around with her gun to see...
  1576. "Pinkie Pie?!"
  1577. >You shout as you sit up in surprise.
  1578. >"Hi, Nonny!"
  1579. >She waves cheerfully, while duel wielding a pair of pistols.
  1580. "What are you doing here?"
  1581. >"Sonata called me up and told me all about the idea she had for this. I loved it! So we got together and made it happen!"
  1582. "You mean you're..."
  1583. >You point at her, and she nods.
  1584. >"Red team captain, reporting in! And now, it's time to end this party!"
  1585. >Pinkie narrows her eyes at Sonata.
  1586. >Sonata does the same, taking out another gun to duel wield as well.
  1587. >"Let's dance, Diane."
  1588. >They begin shooting at each other in a flurry of bullets.
  1589. >They maneuver and dodge with expertise, as if they were trained assassins.
  1590. >They're so amazing, you can't help but be impressed.
  1591. >You're not alone, as all of the other 'dead' troops, red and blue, are now sitting up and watching with bated breath as well.
  1592. >The firefight comes right next to you.
  1593. >Sonata and Pinkie are in a stand off, guns aimed at each other.
  1594. >They both only have one gun left, as well as one bar of life.
  1595. >Sonata pulls her trigger, only to receive an empty click sound.
  1596. >She gasps, while Pinkie smiles.
  1597. >"Looks like someone can't count their bullets."
  1598. >Sonata throws the useless gun away in frustration.
  1599. >Pinkie giggles.
  1600. >"Silly Sonata, you should've known you couldn't beat me one on one."
  1601. >Sonata smiles weakly.
  1602. >"Yeah, I should've..."
  1603. >Pinkie lines up her shot, but suddenly gasps as she feels a gun put to her back.
  1604. >"And she did!"
  1605. >Aria fires her gun, causing Pinkie the fall to the floor dramatically as her death buzzer goes off.
  1606. >Pinkie lay on the floor beside you, coughing and gasping for air.
  1607. >Aria and Sonata look down at her to hear her 'final' words.
  1608. >"Y-you... may have defeated me... but you still have to deal with... my successor! COUGH! HACK! BLARGH!"
  1609. >Pinkie's eyes shut, she lets her tongue hang out, and her body goes completely limp.
  1610. >You've watched this entire death scene with a deadpan expression.
  1611. "Nice job hamming it up there."
  1612. >She comes alive for a brief moment.
  1613. >"Thanks!"
  1614. >Only to go back to being dead.
  1615. >Sonata and Aria look back at each other.
  1616. >"What did she mean by that?"
  1617. >"...Come on, Aria, let's finish this."
  1618. >"Right."
  1619. >Aria hands Sonata the gun she took from you, and they walk towards the red team base, stopping only steps away from it.
  1620. >The base is a large Fisher Price castle.
  1621. >The red flag hangs in the middle.
  1622. >"We're the only ones left. All we have to do is grab that flag. We're both down to our last bars, but between the both of us, there shouldn't be any surprise that can stop us."
  1623. >Aria looks to Sonata, who nods.
  1624. >They begin to take their last steps.
  1625. >The flag is just a few feet away.
  1626. >But out of nowhere, a figure swoops in, knocks Aria's gun out of her hand, and takes her hostage in a chokehold while pointing a gun to her head.
  1627. >"Surprise, fuckers!"
  1628. "ADAGIO?!"
  1629. >"You're the presence I felt!"
  1630. >Sonata shouts, pointing her gun.
  1631. >"B-but, you're not even playing!"
  1632. >Aria stammers out.
  1633. >"Ah-ah-ah, take a look."
  1634. >She turns the hand holding the gun slightly to reveal a heath watch with full bars.
  1635. >"Damn it!"
  1636. >Aria curses.
  1637. >Adagio grins.
  1638. >"I've been watching you all play your game for some time now. And you were all having so much fun without me, my wittle feelings wuz hurt."
  1639. >She fakes a pout.
  1640. >"So I talked Pinkie Pie-"
  1641. >"THAT'S ME!"
  1642. >"Into letting me join her."
  1643. >Sonata narrows her eyes.
  1644. >"Why did you do it, Adagio? Why did you steal all the gold, kill old man Jenkins, kidnap the president, and eat the last slice of pizza?! Why, Adagio, why?!"
  1645. >Pinkie, who has also been sitting up next to you, shakes with excitement.
  1646. >"Isn't this amazing, Nonny?!"
  1647. "Except she didn't do any of those things! NONE OF THAT HAPPENED!"
  1648. >You call out.
  1649. >"She did eat the last slice of pizza though."
  1650. >Aria corrects.
  1651. >"And I'd do it again!"
  1652. >Adagio admits.
  1653. >"Because you, Sonata..."
  1654. >She glares at her.
  1655. >"Put a donut on my head. And no one soils my hair and gets away with it!"
  1656. >Sonata lowers her gun.
  1657. >"I see. Then there's nothing left to talk about."
  1658. >"Exactly. With three life bars and a hostage, I can't lose! Now... give me your flag, nice and easy, and it'll all be over..."
  1659. >"I've got a better idea."
  1660. >Sonata points her gun at Aria, who raises her hands in shock.
  1661. >"Whoa, hold on!"
  1662. >Adagio's eyes widen.
  1663. >"What are you doing?! You can't kill her! She's your teammate! Your comrade in arms! Where did you learn to do such a heartless thing!?"
  1664. >Sonata simply smiles at Aria.
  1665. >"I learned it from the best."
  1666. >Aria closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, and smiles back proudly.
  1667. >"Just do it, you magnificent blue bitch!"
  1668. >Sonata fires at Aria, whose health watch buzzes with the sound of her death.
  1669. >Aria goes limp in Adagio's arms.
  1670. >"EEEK! I'm holding a dead person!"
  1671. >Adagio cries out, letting Aria fall to the ground.
  1672. >"Oooww! I'm not actually dead, you ass!"
  1673. >Amidst the chaos, Sonata runs into the plastic castle and retrieves the red flag.
  1674. >"YAAAYYY! WE WON BLUE TEAM! VICTORY!"
  1675. >All the children on the blue team, and the red team, rush over and crowd around the three girls to cheer and praise them.
  1676. >"The coolest thing I've ever seen!"
  1677. >"Like being in a action movie!"
  1678. >"So much fun!"
  1679. >"Can we play again?!"
  1680. >"How do you get your hair so poofy?!"
  1681. >Sonata and Aria embrace the children with smiles.
  1682. >Surprisingly, Adagio does as well.
  1683. >Albeit, uncomfortably so.
  1684. >"Okay, okay, that's... really nice, thank you-hey! HEY! No touching the hair!"
  1685. >You and Pinkie walk closer over, smiling at the scene.
  1686. >Pinkie dusts off her hands and crosses her arms.
  1687. >"I'd say this gun tag party was a success! We'll have to do this again sometime. How about it, Nonny? You in?"
  1688. >She winks at you.
  1689. >You laugh, and place your hands on your hips triumphantly.
  1690. >"Hahaha! No, Pinkie. With god as my witness, never again."
  1691. >You answer proudly with a smile.
  1692.  
  1693. >With that adventure over, it's back in the car for the four of you.
  1694. >Sonata and Aria talk about how much fun they had.
  1695. >"And when the kids came over and cheered, that was the best part!"
  1696. >Sonata exclaims with a huge smile.
  1697. >Aria smirks.
  1698. >"Yeah, those little twerps were alright. They showed some guts."
  1699. >"How about you, Anon? Did you have fun?"
  1700. >Sonata asks.
  1701. "Uh... it was certainly interesting."
  1702. >"You're just upset about how it played out for you."
  1703. >Aria teases.
  1704. "You tricked me! And on top of that, showed my dead body no respect at all!"
  1705. >"There's no time to respect the dead on the battlefield, Gus."
  1706. "What battlefield?! The aisles between Barbie and Lego?!"
  1707. >"There was a Lego section?!"
  1708. "Yeah, why? You like that stuff?"
  1709. >Aria crosses her arms.
  1710. >"M-maybe."
  1711. >"How about you, Adagio? Did you have fun with us?"
  1712. >Sonata leans in closer with excitement.
  1713. >You glance over to Adagio, who hasn't said anything since you left the toy store.
  1714. >"I never thought you'd team up with Diane like that. That was so awesome!"
  1715. >Sonata continues, Adagio still remaining silent.
  1716. "You okay there?"
  1717. >She makes a worried expression.
  1718. >"...Why? Why did I do that?"
  1719. "What's the big deal? You had some fun, that's all."
  1720. >"No. I never would have played such a stupid, childish game before."
  1721. >"Hey, it's not stupid! It's fun."
  1722. >Sonata pouts and leans back into her seat.
  1723. "There's nothing wrong with acting like a big kid sometimes, Adagio."
  1724. >She shakes her head and rubs her face with frustration.
  1725. >"Something... somethings wrong."
  1726. >She holds her head in her hand and looks down.
  1727. >The mood inside the car turns heavy.
  1728. >Sonata and Aria seem like they have something to say, but they remain silent.
  1729. >A few minutes go by like this, until Aria speaks up.
  1730. >"Yo, after all that action, I'm starving."
  1731. >"Me toooo."
  1732. >Sonata adds.
  1733. "Yeah, I could go for something to eat. You mentioned pizza earlier, I know a good pizza place."
  1734. >"Yay pizza!"
  1735. >Sonata cheers.
  1736. >"Sounds good to me."
  1737. >Aria pulls out a twenty dollar bill with a smile.
  1738. >"I'll even chip in."
  1739. "Hey..."
  1740. >You check your pockets.
  1741. "Waitaminute! That's my money! You robbed me too?!"
  1742. >Aria looks away, still smiling.
  1743. >"I don't know what you're talking about."
  1744. >"Anon, that's rude! Aria has a job you know! Oh! How was work today at that Hot Discussion place?"
  1745. >Sonata asks her.
  1746. >"Uhh..."
  1747. >Aria seems to retreat into herself nervously.
  1748. >You grin.
  1749. "Yeah, Aria, I can't wait to hear all about it while we eat."
  1750. >"No."
  1751. >Adagio says flatly.
  1752. "No what?"
  1753. >"Forget the pizza place. Just take us home."
  1754. >"But I want pizza!"
  1755. >Sonata whines.
  1756. >"Order it from the apartment. I've had enough today."
  1757. >Adagio pinches the bridge of her nose.
  1758. >"But..."
  1759. >Sonata trails off sadly.
  1760.  
  1761. >The rest of the drive to their apartment was silent.
  1762. >As soon as you park, Adagio gets out without saying a word.
  1763. >Sonata and Aria stay inside the car with you and watch her walk inside the apartment, closing the door behind her.
  1764. "What's wrong with her?"
  1765. >"She's just being a bitch right now. She'll get over it."
  1766. >Sonata stays quiet, giving you the feeling that they know more than they're telling.
  1767. "I'd get down and order pizza with you, Sonata, but..."
  1768. >"Naw, Anon, it's okay. We can eat pizza together some other time."
  1769. >Sonata acting mature?
  1770. >Turning down eating with you?!
  1771. >Wow.
  1772. >Something was definitely going on.
  1773. >Aria pats your arm.
  1774. >"We'll see you later, Gus."
  1775. >"Bye, Anon."
  1776. "Later."
  1777. >They get out, and you watch them go inside.
  1778. >You go home.
  1779.  
  1780.  
  1781. >Sunday.
  1782. >No work today.
  1783. >So you decide to spend the day at home.
  1784. >And you do just that for most of it.
  1785. >Until the late afternoon that is, when you get a call from Aria, telling you to come over.
  1786. >Sunset was there at the apartment, and wanted to talk with you about something.
  1787. >You grab your keys and head on over.
  1788.  
  1789. >Sonata opens the apartment door with a smile.
  1790. >"Hi, Anon."
  1791. "Hey. Who's here?"
  1792. >You ask as you walk in, Sonata closing the door behind you.
  1793. >"This is it."
  1794. >Aria motions to the room, sitting down on the couch next to Sunset.
  1795. >You notice a certain someone isn't present.
  1796. "Where's Adagio?"
  1797. >"Not here. But she came over to my apartment earlier."
  1798. >Sunset answers.
  1799. "She visits you?"
  1800. >"Yeah, sometimes."
  1801. >You never would have guessed.
  1802. "Where is she now?"
  1803. >She looks down.
  1804. >"I... don't know. She got really upset, and stormed off somewhere."
  1805. "You said something that pissed her off, huh?"
  1806. >She looks back up to you.
  1807. >"Yes. And it's something that you three need to hear as well."
  1808. >You take a seat on the opposite couch, and Sonata sits next to you.
  1809. >Man, you still can't get over how polite and happy Sunset is now.
  1810. >She even looks prettier to you than when she was a bully.
  1811. "Let's hear it then. I'm guessing it has something to do with the Elements of Harmony?"
  1812. >"How do you know about that?"
  1813. >She asks surprised.
  1814. "Adagio mentioned them before. Said that they were slowly changing..."
  1815. >You pause, before pointing to Aria and Sonata.
  1816. "These two."
  1817. >They say nothing in response.
  1818. >Sonata looks down, while Aria looks away.
  1819. >"But she didn't say anything about herself, did she?"
  1820. "I asked, and she denied that she'd changed at all."
  1821. >Sunset sighs.
  1822. >"Anon, you know how much they've actually changed, don't you?"
  1823. "Oh yeah. I got a sample of what they were like before the showdown. Isn't that right girls?"
  1824. >Aria doesn't say anything, while Sonata tries to whistle innocently.
  1825. >"Well, despite what she says, the same thing is happening to Adagio."
  1826. "Tell me something I don't know."
  1827. >"Okay, how about the fact that you're a part of it?"
  1828. "Um... what's that now? Are you saying I'm a magical anime girl with powers like you all?"
  1829. >Sonata's eyes light up.
  1830. >"Ooo! I'd love to be a magical cartoon girl! You could be my sidekick, Aria!"
  1831. >"Screw that! More like you'd be my sidekick."
  1832. >"Naw uh!"
  1833. >"Yeah huh!"
  1834. >"NO!"
  1835. >Sunset yells, startling the three of you.
  1836. >Blushing, she clears her throat.
  1837. >"Excuse me. I mean, no, that's not what I'm saying. You're not magical and you have no powers. You're also not a girl."
  1838. >You slump down.
  1839. "Gee, Sunset, thanks for getting my hopes up."
  1840. >She chuckles.
  1841. >"Sorry. I'm sure you'd be a very pretty girl though."
  1842. "Hell yeah I would."
  1843. >"I'd like to see that!"
  1844. >Sonata giggles.
  1845. >"But you ARE having an effect on all three of them."
  1846. >Sunset continues.
  1847. "And what effect is that?"
  1848. >"Friendship."
  1849. >She answers somberly.
  1850. >You raise an eyebrow.
  1851. "Friendship?"
  1852. >She nods.
  1853. >"Think about it. Sonata has made plenty of friends at school, and what would you say about her?"
  1854. >You grab Sonata into a headlock, and start giving her gentle noogies.
  1855. >She bursts out laughing, trying to get away.
  1856. "I think she's a sweet, big kid of a girl!"
  1857. >"S-stop it Anonnn! Q-quit it!"
  1858. >You let her go.
  1859. >"Aww! You messed up my hairrr!"
  1860. >She pouts, trying to straighten it all back into place.
  1861. >"I would say the same."
  1862. >Sunset nods with a smile.
  1863. >"And how about Aria?"
  1864. >She motions to her.
  1865. >"She doesn't have as many friends, but she does hang around with us and a few others."
  1866. >Aria scoffs.
  1867. >"When I feel like it."
  1868. >You smile smugly.
  1869. "She's a Purple Grump."
  1870. >"Hey! I told you to shut up with that crap!"
  1871. >Aria glares at you.
  1872. "But she's alright, when you get to know her."
  1873. >Your smile turns sincere.
  1874. >Aria looks away again.
  1875. >"Whatever, Gus."
  1876. >"Again, I agree."
  1877. >Sunset chuckles.
  1878. >"Now... what do you think about Adagio?"
  1879. >Sunset's expression turns serious, as does yours.
  1880. >You think of all the time you've spent with her, struggling to find the words.
  1881. "She's... stubborn. Cold... and sometimes a bit cruel. But I feel like... like she could be more."
  1882. >You say as you look down, hunched over.
  1883. >"Exactly. Adagio has no friends, Anon. We've tried to reach out to her, but she refuses to get close to anyone. You understand where I'm going with all this?"
  1884. >You nod.
  1885. "Friendship... interacting with people. The more they involve themselves in it..."
  1886. >"The more they change."
  1887. "That's not how Adagio explained the Elements. She made it seem like they change you against your will."
  1888. >Sunset lets out a frustrated sigh while she runs a hand over her face.
  1889. >"That isn't how they work. I've tried countless times to prove it to her. I've even had Princess Twilight send a royal letter giving a detailed explanation, but she refuses to believe it."
  1890. "If you know so much, would you mind telling me in the simplest way possible?"
  1891. >"Simple, huh?"
  1892. >She taps her chin in thought.
  1893. >"The Elements are like..."
  1894. >She looks around the room, and points at the girls' laptop on the coffee table.
  1895. >"An antivirus program for your heart, getting rid of all the negative emotions it's accumulated over a long period of time. Once your heart is 'clean,' it can start over again."
  1896. "Like a reset button?"
  1897. >"Exactly. The Elements don't force you to become someone, they allow you to be yourself again."
  1898. >Sunset's expression becomes one of sincere worry and... sadness?
  1899. >"But she's fighting it, Anon. Harder than I've ever seen anyone fight it before. Well... anyone except..."
  1900. "You?"
  1901. >She sighs with regret.
  1902. >"Yes..."
  1903. >She places a hand on her chest.
  1904. >"But I had the girls! Friends who stuck by me when no one else would. I was lucky. While Adagio... she's had no one willing to do that for her. No one that is, until you came along."
  1905. "Me? You're saying any change she's had so far is because of the time we've spent together? That's absurd."
  1906. >"It's true! You're the only one who's been able to get as close as you have. And you need to keep going. You have to be the one that guides her out of this. You've already sped up the process in Sonata and Aria!"
  1907. >"Thanks for that."
  1908. >Aria says sarcastically.
  1909. >"Yeah! Thanks, Anon!"
  1910. >Sonata hugs you.
  1911. "I don't see how I'm going to help her. Every time I've tried to confront her about the way she acts, we just end up fighting. Maybe it's best if we just leave her alone for a bit?"
  1912. >"No, no! That's the worst thing we could do!"
  1913. >Sunset gets a determined look, as she sits up on the edge of the couch to stare you in the eyes.
  1914. >"Listen to me. If we leave her alone, if we don't help her, she could end up as a hateful and resentful person for the rest of her life!"
  1915. "But she's already changed enough, hasn't she? She'll be okay from now on."
  1916. >Sunset shakes her head.
  1917. >"Not enough. And not if she keeps fighting against it like this. We have to show her we care. ...You do care about her, don't you, Anon?"
  1918. >This is a weird question for Sunset to ask you.
  1919. >And the way she asked makes it even weirder.
  1920. >You sigh, and lean back into the couch with Sonata still hanging onto you.
  1921. "I... I'd like to think of her as a friend. But... I'm not sure she'd agree with that."
  1922. >You chuckle lightly, staring away at the wall.
  1923. >She pauses for a moment, as if she's evaluating your response.
  1924. >"Then that's good enough. Just stay by her side, even if she pushes you away. Eventually, you'll get a chance to reach out to her."
  1925. "And when will that be?"
  1926. >"You'll know the moment when it happens."
  1927. "Great, real helpful."
  1928. >"Sorry, but that's how these things work."
  1929. >She gives you a sympathetic smile.
  1930. "By the way, you two already knew all of this, didn't you?"
  1931. >"Not like it's hard to figure out."
  1932. >Aria admits.
  1933. "How do you feel about it?"
  1934. >She shrugs.
  1935. >"It's fine, I guess. It's not like I can stop or change anything now. Might as well just go with it. But I will say..."
  1936. >She grows a small, carefree smile.
  1937. >"It's nice not having to worry about all our old problems."
  1938. >You turn to Sonata.
  1939. "What about you?"
  1940. >"I like things like this! I'm having more fun than I've ever had before!"
  1941. >She smiles.
  1942. >"Happy to hear it, Sonata."
  1943. >Sunset stands up, and walks towards the door.
  1944. >You get up as well, Sonata letting you slip through her grasp.
  1945. "Leaving?"
  1946. >"Yeah, I've got to go meet up with the girls."
  1947. >"But we wanted to take you out for dinner!"
  1948. >Sonata offers.
  1949. >"Maybe another time. Take care."
  1950. >She waves, opens the door and walks out.
  1951. >You stand in the doorway and watch her go.
  1952. >"What should we do now? Try calling Dagi?"
  1953. "No, let her have a day to herself."
  1954. >"So we're gonna go eat without her?"
  1955. >Sonata frowns.
  1956. >"It's her loss."
  1957. >Aria states as she lifts herself off the couch.
  1958. >"I'm gonna change clothes, then we'll get outta here, Gus."
  1959. "Sure."
  1960. >You respond absent-mindedly, still watching Sunset walk down the street.
  1961.  
  1962.  
  1963. >It's been almost a week since then.
  1964. >You've continued on with Adagio at work.
  1965. >Though, she's a bit more distant with you than before.
  1966. >If that was even possible.
  1967. >But for the most part, everything is still the same.
  1968. >It wasn't until a certain development that things would get shaken up again.
  1969.  
  1970. >After knocking on the apartment door to pick up Adagio, it's opened by Sonata.
  1971. >But unlike all the times before, she wasn't smiling.
  1972. >Instead, she looks as if she'd been crying a bit.
  1973. >"Oh... hi, Anon."
  1974. "Sonata, what's wrong?"
  1975. >She steps away from the door to let you in, and closes it behind you.
  1976. >You see Aria leaning against the kitchen counter, while Adagio is sitting in one of the couches.
  1977. >They both look upset.
  1978. "What's going on?"
  1979. >Aria Sighs.
  1980. >"We're getting kicked out."
  1981. "Why? I thought you guys had enough money now?"
  1982. >"We do. But the contract is up, and the landlord decided he doesn't like us anymore."
  1983. >That explains this atmosphere.
  1984. "How long do you have?"
  1985. >"Three days. That's not enough time to find a new apartment, so we'll have to get a room at a motel or something."
  1986. >Sonata sniffles.
  1987. >"I'm so tired of moving from place to place. I thought that was over, and this was home now. I don't wanna go to a dirty, old motel."
  1988. >She looks like she's fighting back tears.
  1989. >The room is silent for a few moments as you think things over.
  1990. >You remember what Sunset told you.
  1991. >You look at Adagio, sulking on the couch, not saying a word.
  1992. >Although it may be sudden, you make a decision.
  1993. "You know what, never mind a motel. Until you find a new place, come over to my house."
  1994. >All three girls perk up and look at you surprised.
  1995. >Sonata gets a huge smile and walks over to you, taking your hands.
  1996. >"Anon, do you mean it?!"
  1997. >You smile back at her.
  1998. "Absolutely."
  1999. >Sonata hugs you and bounces.
  2000. >"YAY! Sleepover at Anon's house!"
  2001. >Aria walks over to you as well, though she's much more skeptical.
  2002. >"Whoa, whoa, what do you mean come over to 'my' house? Don't you live with your parents?"
  2003. "It's their house, but they're not living here right now. They left it to me while they're away taking care of my grandfather."
  2004. >"Oookay. And do you even have the room for us?"
  2005. "It's a big house, but..."
  2006. >"But?"
  2007. "Only three bedrooms."
  2008. >Sonata lights up and grabs Aria's arm.
  2009. >"Oh my gosh, Aria, you know what that means?! We're gonna be bed buddies!"
  2010. >Aria pulls her arm away.
  2011. >"No, it means you're sleeping on the couch!"
  2012. >"It means nothing!"
  2013. >Adagio shouts, walking over to you all.
  2014. >"What the hell is this, Asparagus? All of a sudden, you're taking us into your home? Just like that?"
  2015. "Yeah, why not?"
  2016. >You say casually.
  2017. >"That's ridiculous!"
  2018. >"It's a REALLY nice offer, Adagio. One that I think we should take."
  2019. >Aria advises with annoyance.
  2020. >"I don't care what you idiots think! We don't take charity from anyone!"
  2021. >"You're not the boss of us! Not anymore!"
  2022. >Adagio gasps, while Sonata now chooses to hide behind you.
  2023. >"So... so what?! You're gonna stay at his house, no matter what I say?!"
  2024. >Aria crosses her arms.
  2025. >"That's right, we are."
  2026. >Adagio clenches her fists.
  2027. >"FINE! Go stay with Asparagus! I'll go to a motel all by myself!"
  2028. "Adagio-"
  2029. >"You shut up! Just take me to work, and drop me back off. That's all you need to do."
  2030. >You want to tell her off, here and now.
  2031. >The urge is so strong.
  2032. >But you bite your tongue.
  2033. "Okay."
  2034. >You answer with a glare.
  2035. >You couldn't help but at least do that.
  2036. >She walks out of the apartment, leaving you with the girls.
  2037. >Aria sighs.
  2038. >"Fucking mule. I guess it doesn't help that she hasn't been getting a good night's sleep for a while now."
  2039. "I've noticed that too. She complains more and more about being tired all the time. Does she stay up late?"
  2040. >"Nah, I think it has to do with going through her changes."
  2041. "That might be what this whole thing is about."
  2042. >"Is... is Adagio really not coming with us?"
  2043. >Sonata speaks up.
  2044. >"Depends on if she can cool down and think reasonably for once."
  2045. "I'll see what I can do about her. In the meantime, you guys start packing your things. I'll borrow my uncle's van so we can move all your stuff."
  2046. >"Alright. I'll call you later."
  2047. >You open the door to walk out.
  2048. >"And hey, Gus, be careful. I haven't seen her this upset in a while."
  2049. "That's saying something, huh?"
  2050. >You close the door behind you.
  2051.  
  2052. >The drive over to Joe's is silent.
  2053. >Your entire time working with her is rocky.
  2054. >She avoids speaking to you as much as possible.
  2055. >She's not as cool and collected.
  2056. >Not polite with the customers either.
  2057. >It hurts your performance as well, not being able to work together as the 'ace duo.'
  2058. >And a heavy rainstorm starting up didn't help her mood at all.
  2059. >You mention you brought your umbrella, but she says nothing.
  2060. >Even when the shift is over, it's clear she has no intention of talking to you.
  2061. >But with you both alone in the back storage room, putting away your work attire, you take this chance to confront her.
  2062. "That's enough, Adagio. Stop being so stubborn. It's not like you'd be moving in with me for life. Just think of it as a sleepover, like Sonata said."
  2063. >"I told you already, I don't need your charity."
  2064. >She says bitterly.
  2065. "It's not charity damn it! I just hate the idea of you being alone."
  2066. >"What does it matter to you? Why do you care so much?"
  2067. "Because we're friends!"
  2068. >"You are NOT my friend! I have none!"
  2069. "What about Aria and Sonata?"
  2070. >"They were just my partners. We were a group with the same goal in mind, that's all."
  2071. "So you don't care about them at all?"
  2072. >"No. The only reason I've been living with them is because it made things easier. But that's over now."
  2073. "Bullshit. You don't mean any of that. Those girls are family to you."
  2074. >"Don't act like you know me! You don't know a damn thing about me!"
  2075. "Then open up to me! Why are you so against getting close to anyone?!"
  2076. >"Because nobody ever cared about me when I needed them!"
  2077. >She snaps at you, getting in your face.
  2078. >"I was always alone! I always had to take care of myself! I don't need anyone, anymore! Not Aria, not Sonata, AND ESPECIALLY NOT YOU!"
  2079. >She pushes you away with both her arms, knocking you into the wall.
  2080. >Hard enough to be painful.
  2081. >Both physically, and emotionally.
  2082. >It wasn't like any other time she's yelled at you, not even when she pushed you against the lockers the first time you met her.
  2083. >This was... vicious and hateful.
  2084. >Your reaction is to just stand there, against the wall, and give her a look of shock, hurt, and real anger all mixed together.
  2085. >Upon seeing this, she seemingly realizes what she's just done.
  2086. >She backs away a few steps, covering her mouth with her hands.
  2087. >Her face showing regret.
  2088. >"I... I'm sorry... I didn't mean to..."
  2089. >Her eyes begin to water.
  2090. >"Hurt you again..."
  2091. >What?
  2092. >You want to find out what she means, but she starts running away towards the back exit.
  2093. >You consider going after her, but... maybe Sunset was wrong?
  2094. >Maybe you weren't the one who could help her?
  2095. >Is it better to just let her go?
  2096. >You hear the dense backdoor open and slam shut.
  2097. >Before you can even wallow in this miserable situation, you hear what sounds like a door handle being uncooperative.
  2098. >This is followed by the sound of someone desperately pounding on the door, along with muffled screaming.
  2099. >"Let me in! Let me back in!"
  2100. >You run over to the door and open it, letting a hair drenched Adagio in.
  2101. >The rainstorm.
  2102. >Forgot about that.
  2103. >She wastes no time in shouting at you.
  2104. >"What the fuck is wrong with this door?!"
  2105. >The door.
  2106. >Forgot about that too.
  2107. "Yeah, the handle broke. It can only be opened from the inside now."
  2108. >She stands there and stares at you, and herself in disbelief.
  2109. >Actually, now that you take a better look at her, it seems like the rest of her is mostly dry.
  2110. >Her hair must've acted like some kind of... poofy umbrella.
  2111. >You'd laugh, if you weren't certain it would get you killed.
  2112. >"I... fucking HATE the rain!"
  2113. >She gives you a look that could melt someone's face off.
  2114. >"You are taking me home. Right now."
  2115. >Her voice is low and deep, but it's impact no less unnerving than a loud scream.
  2116. >This is definitely not a time to enrage her any further.
  2117. "Okay."
  2118. >You grab your umbrella and unfold it in front of the door.
  2119. >A good shove of your arm swings it open.
  2120. >You hold it in place, giving a view out into the heavy rainfall.
  2121. >Even with the umbrella, she's hesitant to take a step.
  2122. >She looks at you, to which you give a reassuring nod.
  2123. >Together, you walk out towards your car.
  2124.  
  2125. >You wanted to get her back home quickly, but driving in this weather proves to be too difficult.
  2126. >Even at slow speeds, you're having trouble.
  2127. "Adagio... I know you aren't going to like this, but I think we should just settle for my place."
  2128. >"Don't you DARE take me to your house!"
  2129. "Look at what we're dealing with!"
  2130. >You shout, motioning to the car windows.
  2131. "I can barely see what's ahead of us! It's getting too dangerous. My house is right here, you know that."
  2132. >You've pointed it out to her on the way to Joe's before.
  2133. "Let's just get inside and wait this out, okay?"
  2134. >"I can't believe this."
  2135. >She huffs as you park in your driveway and shut off the car.
  2136.  
  2137. >You hand Adagio the oversized umbrella.
  2138. >She takes and holds it with annoyance, allowing it to continue protecting the both of you from the rainstorm's wrath, as you fumble with your house keys.
  2139. >Unlocking and pushing the door open in one smooth action, you take the umbrella back from her and motion for her to go in first.
  2140. >She has no problem in doing so, walking straight into the living room.
  2141. >You fold the umbrella, shake it a bit, and put it away before closing the door.
  2142. >You return to Adagio, who's quite visibly upset.
  2143. >"My hair is absolutely soaking wet! JUST LOOK AT IT!"
  2144. >She points to it with one hand, holding it with the other.
  2145. "Well, maybe you shouldn't have run out of the door like that."
  2146. >"Well, maybe you shouldn't have started talking about... all that stuff!"
  2147. >She glares.
  2148. "Well, maybe you should learn how to control your emotions."
  2149. >She reels for a moment.
  2150. >"Shut up and take responsibility, Asparagus! Now how are you going to fix this?"
  2151. >You take off your jacket and sigh, throwing it onto a nearby couch.
  2152. "Just take a shower, Cheesy Poof. Soap and everything you need is already in there."
  2153. >You point towards the master bathroom.
  2154. >"Not everything! I don't have a change of clothes."
  2155. "You can use my-"
  2156. >"I'm not putting on any of your clothes!"
  2157. "Then just grab a towel and dry off."
  2158. >"And keep this dirty rainwater in my hair?!"
  2159. >She's getting on your nerves again, causing you to snap at her.
  2160. "I don't know what else I can do for you Ada-!"
  2161. >You stop yourself mid shouting with a sudden realization.
  2162. "...No wait... there is something we can do."
  2163. >You walk past her and go into the master bathroom.
  2164. >You stuff a few choice things into a wicker basket.
  2165. >"What are you doing?"
  2166. >She calls out.
  2167. >You emerge with the basket in hand.
  2168. "Follow me."
  2169. >You beckon.
  2170. >She does so, letting herself be led to your laundry room.
  2171. >"What are we doing in here?"
  2172. "Using that."
  2173. >You point to an object just to the side of the washer and dryer.
  2174. >"What is it?"
  2175. "A laundry sink. Or tub sink. Take your pick. I'm gonna use it to wash your hair."
  2176. >She raises an eyebrow.
  2177. >"You can't be serious."
  2178. >You place a well cushioned stool in front of the sink.
  2179. "I use it all the time to wash my hair when I'm in a hurry. It's a great way to make your hair look good when you don't have the time for a shower."
  2180. >You pat down on an already there stack of clean, white towels placed on a stand next to the sink.
  2181. >You then rub a finger on the sparkling white plastic that is the sink, making a satisfying squeaky clean sound.
  2182. "See?"
  2183. >You smile.
  2184. >She looks at you, to the sink, then back to you.
  2185. >"W-well, why should I let a piece of asparagus like you wash my hair? I can do it myself!"
  2186. >You chuckle a bit.
  2187. >"What's so funny?"
  2188. >A tinge of anger building up in her again.
  2189. "Have you ever washed your hair while bending over, Cheesy Poof?"
  2190. >"No, I've always washed it in the shower."
  2191. "What do you think is going to happen if you try it now, with all that hair you have? There's no way you'll be able to manage it all."
  2192. >"I could manage it fine!"
  2193. >She shouts defiantly.
  2194. "No..."
  2195. >You get close to her, and take a handful of her hair.
  2196. >She's surprised by this and flinches, as this is your first time touching her hair.
  2197. >She tries to bat your hand away, but you grab her by the shoulder, holding her in place.
  2198. >You bring the handful of hair in front of her face for her to see, raising and lowering it while you give her a stern, piercing look.
  2199. "You can't. It's too heavy and too dense. You'll never get through it yourself. Now..."
  2200. >You point to the stool, glaring at her.
  2201. "Sit down."
  2202. >At a loss for words, and shocked that you stood up to her, she sits down reluctantly.
  2203. >"You'd better be careful with my hair! You do anything stupid and I'll-"
  2204. "Trust me, I've washed girls hair before. I know how important your hair is to you."
  2205. >You say confidently, trying to quell her fears.
  2206. >You take hold of and lift off her spiked hair band, allowing her poof to envelop both sides of her head.
  2207. >After placing an exceedingly soft and fluffy towel on the lip of the sink, you take hold of her head and gently push her back until her neck rests on the towel.
  2208. >You pull all her hair into the tub, not surprised to see it take up almost half the space.
  2209. >Taking things out of the wicker basket and laying them out on the stand, you prepare yourself for this fairly large task.
  2210. >But for some reason, you couldn't deny that you were excited to do this.
  2211. >You turn on the overhead lights, illuminating the area more than enough.
  2212. >You take a standing position at the side of the tub.
  2213. >You would stand at the back, but it's up against the wall with no room for you.
  2214. >It's okay though, since the tub is so big and wide, it gives you plenty of access to all of her hair.
  2215. >You turn the faucet on.
  2216. >Slowly.
  2217. >As to not blast her with a sudden surge of water, and to gauge how hot the water gets with your own hand before you use it on her.
  2218. >When it reaches a heat that you would approve, you begin to gently soak her hair.
  2219. >You let some of the water touch her scalp, ever so slightly.
  2220. "How's that? Too hot? I can lower it."
  2221. >"No that's... that's good. I like hot water."
  2222. >You smirk.
  2223. "Figured you did."
  2224. >She raises an eyebrow.
  2225. >"You figured?"
  2226. "You seemed like the type. I'm the same."
  2227. >You pull on the detachable faucet, taking plenty of slack from the ample coiling.
  2228. >This makes it much easier to maneuver around her hair, and get it completely soaked.
  2229. >A light mist of steam starts billowing up.
  2230. "Nothing like some steamy water to wash hair with."
  2231. >Once you're positive her hair is thoroughly wet enough, you reach for the bottle of shampoo.
  2232. >Her nervous, wide open eyes spot the bottle.
  2233. >"Hey, that's not some cheap, dollar store stuff is it?"
  2234. "Are you kidding?"
  2235. >You hand her the bottle.
  2236. "Look at the price tag."
  2237. >She finds it on the bottom of the bottle, and is surprised.
  2238. >"Thirty dollars?!"
  2239. "That's right."
  2240. >You take the bottle back from her, as if you were offended.
  2241. "This is quality stuff! Bet even you don't use something so expensive."
  2242. >"I used to! ...Back when I could get people to do anything I wanted."
  2243. "Those days are over. I'm using this on your hair of my own free will, Cheesy Poof."
  2244. >"Hmph."
  2245. >Is her only reply.
  2246. >You pour a generous amount of the shampoo into your palm.
  2247. >And using both of your hands, you start to slowly work it into her hair.
  2248. >It doesn't do much, as you expected.
  2249. >So you begin to pour out of the bottle directly onto her hair.
  2250. >Slowly, you build up the suds.
  2251. >Until finally, you get the shampoo really going in her hair.
  2252. >It only took half the damn bottle.
  2253. >Now you were able to start working it into her scalp, gently messaging it.
  2254. >By this point, Adagio had closed her eyes and crossed her hands on her lap.
  2255. >It seemed that she had calmed down and become more comfortable with you touching her hair.
  2256. >Taking this as a sign, you start messaging her scalp a bit more roughly.
  2257. >"Mmm..."
  2258. >She moans faintly.
  2259. "Is that too harsh? Should I be more gent-"
  2260. >"It's alright. Keep going like that."
  2261. >She interrupts with a commanding tone.
  2262. >Now without doubt, you continue to work the pleasantly silky and fragrant shampoo into her scalp.
  2263. >You even gently scratch the area around her ears and the back of her neck.
  2264. >This causes her to moan softly again, and even squirm a bit.
  2265. >Her face squinting and scrunching as well.
  2266. >Washing a scalp shouldn't have taken so long.
  2267. >It's not like she didn't take care of herself after all.
  2268. >But getting through all this hair wasn't easy.
  2269. >Though if you were honest, you weren't minding it at all.
  2270. >And neither was she it seemed.
  2271. >But eventually, it's time to move onto the rest of her hair.
  2272. >With all the suds, her hair has become much more manageable now.
  2273. >You're able to easily run your hands through all of it.
  2274. >You weave your fingers in and out, and rub it between your palms.
  2275. >Gently.
  2276. >Slowly.
  2277. >You take your time.
  2278. >Making sure that every inch of her hair is touched by you.
  2279. >...
  2280. >So it's clean of course.
  2281. >It's not because her hair feels amazing in your hands.
  2282. >Or that this is all somehow strangely intimate.
  2283. >But really though, you can't help but be in awe of her hair.
  2284. >It was just so soft, smooth and flowing.
  2285. >Her orange and yellow strands mixing into each other like velvet.
  2286. >And it all shined and glowed, almost as if it was emitting it's own natural light.
  2287. >There was no other way to put it except to call it what it was...
  2288. "Gorgeous..."
  2289. >"What?"
  2290. >Oh shit, did you say that out loud?
  2291. >You got lost in admiring her hair a little too much.
  2292. "Nothing-"
  2293. >"I heard you, Anon. What did you mean by 'gorgeous'?"
  2294. >Might as well admit it now.
  2295. >If you don't, she'll get upset.
  2296. "Your hair, it's just... so beautiful."
  2297. >She's silent for a moment.
  2298. >"...You mean that?"
  2299. "I do. I don't think I've ever seen hair this pretty before..."
  2300. >Still keeping her eyes closed, she smiles silently.
  2301. >But it's not a mean or cruel smile, like usual.
  2302. >Instead, it's a warm, gentle smile.
  2303. >Finally done with the shampoo, you pull on the faucet once more.
  2304. >You make sure to rinse out her hair completely.
  2305. >When you do, you grab the matching bottle of conditioner.
  2306. >To your enjoyment, and hers, you get to message her hair all over again.
  2307. >Though this time it doesn't take as long.
  2308. >Once you've rinsed out her hair for the second time, you turn off the faucet.
  2309. >You gather up her hair into one long ponytail.
  2310. >Holding the top of the ponytail in place with your left hand, you gently squeeze it with your right hand, and run it down the entire length of her hair, causing a large amount of water to pour out.
  2311. >You do this a few more times, smoothly and slowly.
  2312. >There's so much water, it's as if the faucet was still on.
  2313. >It's clear that if you hadn't done this, you never would have stood a chance at getting her hair dry.
  2314. >After ringing out enough water to fill a bucket, you gently push her back up to a normal sitting position.
  2315. >Before she can say or do anything, you throw a huge white towel over her head, and begin to rub her hair down.
  2316. "Towel hugs!"
  2317. >"AaaaaNNNOONN!"
  2318. "Okay, okay! Just playing."
  2319. >You raise the towel off her enough to let her face poke out.
  2320. >The first thing she sees is your smile.
  2321. "Peekaboo."
  2322. >"Grrr!"
  2323. >She growls.
  2324. "Oh stop it! What are you? A golden dog?"
  2325. >You tease as you begin to properly dry her hair with the towel.
  2326. >She would normally be upset and protest at your teasing, but she does nothing.
  2327. >She also lets you rub and push on her roughly with the towel.
  2328. >You had become confident enough to do this, and it seemed you were allowed to do so.
  2329. >When you feel you've gotten as far as you can with the towel, you pick up and plug in a hair dryer.
  2330. >She sits there patiently with her arms crossed, as you stand above her with the dryer.
  2331. >Using your free hand to move and weave her hair, you shake and twist the dryer in a rhythmic dance.
  2332. >Taking care to not over dry, or worse, burn her hair.
  2333. >Feeling that her hair was sufficiently dry, you turn the dryer off.
  2334. >"Are we finally done?"
  2335. "No, not yet."
  2336. >You pick up an old, but well taken care of comb, and begin to brush her hair.
  2337. >"Anon! What do you think you're doing?!"
  2338. "If we don't do this your hair will become frizzy and tangled. Do you want that?"
  2339. >"But... it'll take so long to brush all of my hair."
  2340. "I've got time. How about you?"
  2341. >You ask while continuing to brush.
  2342. >"I... I don't..."
  2343. >She clutches her knees tightly.
  2344. >"...Fine! Just... do a good job!"
  2345. >She huffs.
  2346. "I have so far, haven't I?"
  2347. >There's a moment of silence.
  2348. >"...Yes... you have."
  2349. >She answers quietly.
  2350. >You can't help but smile at that admittance.
  2351. >You've never brushed this amount of hair before.
  2352. >It's even more impressive now that it's all dried and fluffed.
  2353. >It's almost like poking at a giant pillow or marshmallow.
  2354. >But you get through it.
  2355. >Slowly.
  2356. >Gently.
  2357. >You stroke and brush her hair with the kind of care and attention that most would say she is undeserving of.
  2358. >But you do it happily.
  2359. >And eventually, the hair you hold in your free hand turns to silk.
  2360. >You put the comb down.
  2361. >It's been a long process.
  2362. >Longer than it needed to be.
  2363. >But the results speak for themselves, as you lead her to the bathroom mirror for her own personal inspection.
  2364. >She gasps lightly, as she lays eyes on her now shining, radiant hair.
  2365. >It was also a bit more straight instead of curly, and not as poofy anymore either.
  2366. >But that's the look you were going for with all that precise combing.
  2367. >"Anon... I..."
  2368. "You look great."
  2369. >You smile behind her.
  2370. >Her eyes meeting yours in the reflection.
  2371. >She's speechless, her mouth hanging open slightly.
  2372. >All she can do is touch and look at her hair, as her eyes drift back and forth between you and herself.
  2373. "I don't know about you, but I could use a warm cup of tea. I'll go make us some."
  2374. >You walk out of the bathroom and head to the kitchen, leaving Adagio to awe at herself in the mirror.
  2375. >As you walk away, you notice she closes the bathroom door behind you and turns the ventilation fan on.
  2376. >She'll probably be in there for a while.
  2377. >That'll give you time to make the tea anyways.
  2378.  
  2379. >As you ignite the gas flame under your tea kettle, your phone begins to ring from the nearby counter top.
  2380. >A quick glance tells you it's Aria.
  2381. >You answer it.
  2382. "Aria?"
  2383. >"Yeah, Anon-"
  2384. >"Are you guys safe?! You're not driving in the storm are you?! You should've been back hours ago!"
  2385. >"Damn it, Sonata! Don't yell in my ear like that!"
  2386. >"I wanna talk to Anon!"
  2387. >"I'll talk for the both of us!"
  2388. >"Nnnoo meeee!"
  2389. >You hold the phone away from your ear, their bickering much too loud.
  2390. >You hear the struggles of Aria pushing Sonata away, and smile to yourself.
  2391. >"You can talk to him after me, okay?!"
  2392. >Aria takes a deep breath before continuing.
  2393. >"Now, are you and Adagio alright?"
  2394. "We're perfectly safe at my house."
  2395. >"You are?! How did you pull that off?"
  2396. "The storm was so rough, even she couldn't deny we wouldn't make it back to you guys."
  2397. >"Storm or not, that's pretty impressive. I'm guessing something happened between you two?"
  2398. "Uhh... kinda."
  2399. >The tone of your voice tells her that you don't want to talk about the details.
  2400. >You certainly weren't going to tell her you washed and brushed Adagio's hair for an hour.
  2401. >"Good or bad?"
  2402. "Uhh... a little bit of both."
  2403. >"...Riiight. So you're not gonna tell me anything?"
  2404. "Not now. Maybe later. But hey, did you guys start packing?"
  2405. >"Yeah, we've already got everything mostly ready. It's not like we have a ton of stuff."
  2406. "Okay, sounds like we'll have it all done by tomorrow."
  2407. >"That's if the weather clears up."
  2408. "What do you mean?"
  2409. >"Watch the news, you idiot."
  2410. >You walk into the living room and turn on your tv, promptly changing the channel to local news.
  2411. >"This storm isn't letting up till tomorrow."
  2412. "Shit... there's even flooding in some areas."
  2413. >"Of course! You see what's happening outside, don't you?"
  2414. >You look out your windows to see the rain hasn't slowed down at all.
  2415. >"You and Adagio are stuck there for the night."
  2416. "Man, she's not gonna be happy about this."
  2417. >"Oh, that's right! She still thinks she's coming back, doesn't she?! Pfft, good luck telling her no."
  2418. >Aria chuckles.
  2419. "It's not like she has a choice!"
  2420. >"Nope. But that won't matter to her. It'll still be your fault somehow."
  2421. >You sigh.
  2422. >There's a moment of silence as you continue to look outside.
  2423. >"...Wait... this is perfect!"
  2424. "What?"
  2425. >"This is the perfect chance to solve all our problems with Adagio!"
  2426. "It is? How?"
  2427. >Aria sounds so serious and confident, she must have a good idea.
  2428. >"Anon..."
  2429. "...Yeah?"
  2430. >"...Give her the dick."
  2431. "...What was that?"
  2432. >"You heard me! Give her the D, man!"
  2433. "What the hell, Aria?!"
  2434. >"Ooh ooh! Put it on speaker! I wanna hear this too!"
  2435. >You can hear the sound of Sonata trying to grab the phone again.
  2436. >"It's my phone, I'll do it!"
  2437. >You hear more of an echo come from their side, meaning you're on speaker now.
  2438. >Aria continues.
  2439. >"Think about it! You're both in a house, all alone, trapped inside by a storm. It's the perfect conditions! It'll fix Adagio right up!"
  2440. >You turn around from the windows to keep your view locked onto the bathroom door now.
  2441. >You don't want to say anything stupid in front of Adagio.
  2442. "How?! Why?! How and why do you think that will fix her?!"
  2443. >"Dude, haven't you ever heard the phrase 'fuck the crazy out of her'?"
  2444. "Uh, dude, haven't you ever heard the phrase 'don't stick your dick in crazy'?!"
  2445. >"That's only if you're trying to get a one night stand! But if you give her multiple dickings, eventually you'll screw the bitch into normalcy. And you won't be a virgin anymore! It's win-win!"
  2446. >You can hear Sonata laughing next to Aria.
  2447. "Look, even if I wanted to do that, think of who you're talking about! I'm pretty sure Adagio would murder me in my own home if I even tried anything with her!"
  2448. >Sonata chimes in.
  2449. >"Don't say that, Anon! You can do it! Put the hot dog in her bun! Load her baked potato! Toss her salad! Cream her cookie! Frost her cake! And, and... Iiii'm hunnngrrryyy! Anon! Come back and cook for me again!"
  2450. >"Get away from the phone if you're gonna cry like that! We have plenty of food!"
  2451. >"But I want Anon's cooking!"
  2452. >It's at this moment the bathroom door opens, with Adagio walking out.
  2453. "Gotta go. I'll call you tomorrow."
  2454. >"Start seducing her right now!"
  2455. >"Aaannnnoooo-"
  2456. >You end the call.
  2457. >"Who was that?"
  2458. >She asks coming over to you.
  2459. "Just Aria and Sonata. They wanted to know if we were okay."
  2460. >"Hmph."
  2461. >She looks out the window next to you.
  2462. >"This is still going on?"
  2463. "Yeah. And it's not going to stop anytime soon."
  2464. >You point to the tv, showing the forecast expecting the storm to last through the night.
  2465. >Her gaze goes back to the window.
  2466. >You don't want to do this, but you may as well get it over with as soon as possible.
  2467. "Adagio... I know you wanted to get back home, but... I think you'll have to stay here for the night."
  2468. >She stands there quietly.
  2469. >You're on pins and needles waiting for her to explode any moment.
  2470. >"...Is that tea ready yet?"
  2471. >She asks calmly.
  2472. "Um... yeah, it should be. I'll go check on it."
  2473. >You go back into the kitchen, followed by her.
  2474. >The tea is ready, so you pour it into two matching mugs.
  2475. "I like to put orange, honey and sugar in my tea. Do you want me to do the same for you?"
  2476. >She nods.
  2477. >After some mixing and stirring, you hand her the mug of warm liquid.
  2478. >It's not unbearably hot anymore, thanks to purposely using cold honey and oranges.
  2479. >She takes a sip, and walks back out into the living room.
  2480. >You follow after her with your own mug, and watch her sit down on the couch in front of the tv.
  2481. >So... what?
  2482. >Is she so tired and miserable that she's just accepting this?
  2483. >You sit down on the opposite end of the couch, and watch the news coverage of the storm for awhile.
  2484.  
  2485. >It's been quiet.
  2486. >You haven't said much to each other.
  2487. >After all that's happened today, what more is there to talk about?
  2488. >Or rather, what can you talk about without upsetting her?
  2489. >She hasn't really had any time to herself yet.
  2490. >It might be best to give her a break for a while.
  2491. >But finally, the silence is broken by Adagio herself with a question.
  2492. >"Anon?"
  2493. "Yeah?"
  2494. >"Why are you so nice to me? Why did you go through all that for me?"
  2495. >Her voice is quiet, but curious and demanding.
  2496. >What kind of questions are these?
  2497. >Where is this coming from all of a sudden?
  2498. >You're not sure how to answer her.
  2499. "...I guess I was just... taking responsibility."
  2500. >You say somberly, as you take a sip of your tea.
  2501. >She laughs to herself for a moment, before taking a deep breath and speaking again.
  2502. >"You're an idiot."
  2503. "Maybe I am."
  2504. >"No 'maybe,' you are. I've been nothing but hateful to you since the day we met. Even now, it's the same. But you keep sticking around me. Doing nice things for me. You're a damn fool, and I hate you so much."
  2505. >Her words and tone are cold.
  2506. >You say nothing.
  2507. >What can you say to a girl who's professing her hate for you, but is also spending the night at your house?
  2508. >Suddenly, she puts down her mug on the coffee table in front of the couch, and takes yours to do the same.
  2509. "Adagio, what are you-"
  2510. >With her and your hands now free, she comes over to your side of the couch, and wraps you in a tight hug.
  2511. >You're shocked.
  2512. >In all the time you've spent together, she's never done anything like this.
  2513. "Wh-what? Why are you-"
  2514. >"Shut up."
  2515. >She orders, keeping you in the hug with no release in sight.
  2516. >"...Thank you."
  2517. >She whispers in your ear, with a soothing tenderness you've never heard from her before.
  2518. >Did she just thank you?!
  2519. >Sincerely?!
  2520. >Caught off guard, you have no idea what to do, except go with your instinct.
  2521. >You embrace her.
  2522. "Your welcome."
  2523. >You whisper back.
  2524. >She's never been this close to you.
  2525. >With her smothering you like this, it's hard not to smell her.
  2526. "Your hair smells pretty nice."
  2527. >She laughs warmly.
  2528. >"It should. There's about thirty dollars worth of product in it."
  2529. "No kidding? How'd that happen?"
  2530. >"Some loser did it for me."
  2531. "Must've been a moron to spend that kind of money on you."
  2532. >She laughs again.
  2533. >"Exactly."
  2534. >She continues to keep you in the hug for sometime, as you both watch tv.
  2535. >Though you're not really watching tv.
  2536. >You're much too weirded out by all this.
  2537. >You don't know what to make of this situation.
  2538. >Eventually, to your surprise, she begins to doze off on you.
  2539. >You try to talk some sense into her.
  2540. "Hey, you can't fall asleep on me like this. There's plenty of beds for you to choose from."
  2541. >"I dun caaarrreee. Jus stahp movinnng."
  2542. >Holy crap, you knew she was tired, but not exhausted like this.
  2543. >Losing her home.
  2544. >Aria standing up to her.
  2545. >The work at Joe's.
  2546. >Having to deal with the changes in her personality.
  2547. >It must have all finally caught up with her.
  2548. >She's turned to mush in your arms.
  2549. >She'll be out like a light in a few seconds.
  2550. >You could pick her up and carry her to a bed, but for some reason, you just don't feel like it.
  2551. >You sigh.
  2552. "If it's going to be like this..."
  2553. >You pick her up off you enough to slide yourself under her and lay down.
  2554. >"Mmmnnn!"
  2555. >She groans, but gives no actual protest.
  2556. >Instead, as soon as she's laying on top of you, she spreads herself out and grips onto you tightly again, making herself comfortable.
  2557. >The couch being so huge, there's plenty of room for you and her.
  2558. >Without getting up, you reach for and grab the large blanket hanging off the back of the couch.
  2559. >With a skilled hand, you flip it over onto the both of you.
  2560. >You make yourself comfortable under her, and within these few moments, she's completely knocked out.
  2561. >Her head lay on your chest, with her hair covering and keeping you warm like an extra blanket.
  2562. >You watch her breathe in and out, and as you're hypnotized by the sight of it, you realize something.
  2563. >She's beautiful.
  2564. >Truly and utterly.
  2565. >Of course, you knew this as soon as you laid eyes on her.
  2566. >You just never really appreciated it until this very moment.
  2567. >You feel an unknown longing.
  2568. >But you do know that you may never get to be this close to her again.
  2569. >So you give in to your urges.
  2570. >You wrap your arms around her.
  2571. >And you hug her.
  2572. >You hug her tightly to yourself, while you run your hands through her hair.
  2573. >She's so soft.
  2574. >So warm.
  2575. >The longing becomes more familiar.
  2576. >A pain in your chest begins to ache.
  2577. >But try as you might, you already know there may be nothing you can do about it.
  2578. >So you devote yourself to enjoying this while you're able.
  2579. >As you start to match her rhythm of breathing, you find yourself fighting to stay awake.
  2580. >Tomorrow.
  2581. >Tomorrow's going to be awkward.
  2582. >But you'll deal with it.
  2583. >For this, it's worth it.
  2584. >The last thing you see before your eyelids become too heavy, is something rare and deeply touching to you...
  2585. >Her peaceful smile.
  2586.  
  2587.  
  2588. >You are Adagio.
  2589. >You can feel yourself slipping from a dream into lucidity.
  2590. >You slowly open your eyes to the darkened living room.
  2591. >Living room?
  2592. >That's right... you fell asleep on the couch.
  2593. >Darkened?
  2594. >You raise your head off a pillow you don't remember using, to see all the curtains in the room are closed.
  2595. >They were open last night.
  2596. >It must be morning or past it, since you can see some light peaking through.
  2597. >You're also covered by a large blanket.
  2598. >Did Anon do all this for you?
  2599. >Anon...
  2600. >You pull the blanket off you and sit up.
  2601. >You thought you were imagining things, but now you're certain.
  2602. >You feel good.
  2603. >Like... fully rested good.
  2604. >Seriously, you haven't felt like this after waking up in so long.
  2605. >Why?
  2606. >Was it this couch?
  2607. >It's a big, soft couch, but... that can't be it, can it?
  2608. >Or is it because you slept with...
  2609. >No.
  2610. >That's ridiculous.
  2611. >Not even worth considering.
  2612. >As you push that thought out of your mind, your sense of smell tells you something good is being cooked.
  2613. >You make your way to the kitchen and see Anon busy making breakfast.
  2614. >He's in jeans and a tight fitting t-shirt.
  2615. >He looks like he washed up, but his hair still appears like he just rolled out of bed.
  2616. >Seeing him cooking like that, together with the t-shirt and hair, makes him look like a doofus... but somehow handsome.
  2617. >Anon?
  2618. >Handsome?
  2619. >You haven't thought that way about him since...
  2620. >He's focused on multiple things, but he's still able to notice you standing outside the kitchen area.
  2621. >"Hey! Good morning."
  2622. >He smiles at you, before returning his gaze to the stove top.
  2623. >For some reason, seeing Anon smile makes you want to smile too.
  2624. >But you fight it.
  2625. "Um... Morning."
  2626. >You answer simply.
  2627. "What, uh... what are you doing?"
  2628. >Oddly, you seem to have lost your ability to stay away from using 'um' and 'uh' when speaking.
  2629. >He chuckles and looks back to you with a smile again, but smug this time.
  2630. >"Um, I dunno. Uh, what am I doing?"
  2631. >Asshole.
  2632. >Just because he's more cognitive than you are right now.
  2633. >In a few minutes you'll be able to pull that shit too.
  2634. "Look, I just want to-"
  2635. >"Go back to the apartment and start packing as soon as possible. I know."
  2636. >He continues to tend to the stove without looking at you.
  2637. >"But you've got all day for that, and it's not going to rain again. So it's okay to eat something before you start. Trust me."
  2638. >He has a confident tone.
  2639. >You frown slightly.
  2640. >It's not like what he's saying doesn't make sense.
  2641. >You just don't like someone going against your plans.
  2642. >You never have.
  2643. >But there's no point in fighting with this idiot.
  2644. >And... that does smell really good.
  2645. "Fine."
  2646. >"Go wash up. Everything you need is in the bathroom."
  2647. >Without saying anything, you walk away and head towards the bathroom.
  2648. >As he said, everything you need is here, and lined up neatly for you.
  2649. >Even a new tooth brush.
  2650. >As you look into the large mirror wall, the first thing you notice is your hair.
  2651. >You had somehow forgotten all about it.
  2652. >But damn, you look good.
  2653. >Even though you've slept, it's still so shiny and smooth.
  2654. >And the reason it's like this is because of Anon.
  2655. >All that careful messaging and brushing.
  2656. >You wouldn't mind getting that kind of treatment again...
  2657. >You allow a small smile to yourself in the mirror before moving on.
  2658. >You brush your teeth and wash your face, effectively waking you up.
  2659. >As you dry off with a fresh towel, it hits you again.
  2660. >God, you feel great.
  2661. >You've been dying to get this kind of rest for weeks now.
  2662. >How?
  2663. >And why here?
  2664. >...
  2665. >You leave the bathroom and go back to the kitchen to see Anon sitting at the table.
  2666. >There are multiple plates and glasses filled with orange juice and milk.
  2667. >He sees you come in.
  2668. >"Sit down."
  2669. >He motions to the chair opposite him.
  2670. >You sit down and look at the plates in awe.
  2671. >There's a stack of pancakes, some scrambled eggs, hash browns, toast, bacon, and biscuits n' gravy.
  2672. >It all looks as if it were made in a professional restaurant.
  2673. >You look up at him, stunned.
  2674. "What is this?"
  2675. >He started eating as soon as you sat down.
  2676. >"It's breakfast?"
  2677. >He answers as more of a question.
  2678. >"Why? Is something wrong? Did you want something else? Tell me and I can make it-"
  2679. "No, no. That's not it. It's just... why go through all this? You certainly don't make this for yourself every morning, do you?"
  2680. >"No. Usually it's much simpler."
  2681. "Then why?"
  2682. >He stops eating to look back up to you.
  2683. >"For you, of course."
  2684. >You give him a disbelieving look.
  2685. "For me?"
  2686. >"Yeah. I mean, you're my guest, so..."
  2687. "So you would do this for anyone?"
  2688. >"No. Only you."
  2689. "Only me? What do you-"
  2690. >"Would you start eating already while it's hot? C'mon! We can talk later."
  2691. >You'd still like to understand what this is all about, but you are starving.
  2692. >You begin to taste out of everything.
  2693. >And amazingly, it all tastes as good as it looks.
  2694. >Better than any breakfast you've had before.
  2695. >You want to ask why it's so good, but then you'd have to stop eating.
  2696. >You don't want to stop eating.
  2697. >You're scarfing down your food as if you've been on a hunger strike, and have forgotten what table manners are.
  2698. >You must look disgraceful, but Anon isn't saying anything.
  2699. >Besides, you don't care what you look like in front of him anymore.
  2700. >Eventually, after stuffing your face long enough, the feeling of being full is hitting you.
  2701. >You put down your fork and drink a few gulps of juice.
  2702. >With a sigh, you lean back and slump into your chair.
  2703. >You look across to Anon, who also seems to be at his limit.
  2704. >Breathing heavier than normal, you speak up with what you've wanted to say since you took your first bite.
  2705. "So... it wasn't just the sandwich, was it? You're really good at cooking."
  2706. >He gets a small, proud smile.
  2707. >"Yeah, I guess I'm decent."
  2708. "Oh don't give me that modest bullshit. What is it? You've been a loser and alone so long that you trained yourself to cook because you had nothing else to do?"
  2709. >"Nice guess there, but no. I've just always been interested in cooking since I was a kid."
  2710. "So you've practiced cooking since you were a child? What kind of kid does that?"
  2711. >"I dunno, one that wants to open his own restaurant one day?"
  2712. >He says with a sly grin.
  2713. "Oohh... so that's what you're going for..."
  2714. >You nod slowly a few times.
  2715. "Well... if you ever get lucky enough to open up such a place, I might stop in for a meal."
  2716. >"I'd like that."
  2717. >He smiles.
  2718. "It would be on the house, wouldn't it?"
  2719. >You ask with a sly grin of your own.
  2720. >"For a future old acquaintance? Sure."
  2721. >You could swear his smile turns a bit sad.
  2722. >And while you've given him no reason to not use the term 'old acquaintance,' somehow, hearing him say it to you now... hurts.
  2723. >With that surprisingly bittersweet exchange, breakfast is over.
  2724.  
  2725. >You are Anon.
  2726. >After swapping your car for your uncle's van, you and Adagio drive back to the apartment.
  2727. >As you expected, Aria and Sonata are amazed by Adagio's hair as she walks in behind you.
  2728. >"What did you do to your hair?!"
  2729. >Aria gasps.
  2730. >"How did you get it so shiny and silky?!"
  2731. >Sonata asks while running her hands through it, Aria joining in as well.
  2732. >"It looks great!"
  2733. >Aria adds.
  2734. >You would have thought Adagio would get upset by them touching her hair, but she simply smiles and walks away casually.
  2735. >"I just had it done at an expensive salon, compliments of Anon."
  2736. >You haven't said anything about it to her, but it seems Adagio also wants to keep the hair washing a secret.
  2737. >Aria looks at you suspiciously.
  2738. >"Is that so?"
  2739. >"That's so nice of you, Anon!"
  2740. >Sonata smiles.
  2741. >You should change the subject before they ask anymore questions.
  2742. "Yeah. Anyways, you guys ready to load up your stuff?"
  2743. >"Yep! Everything is packed!"
  2744. "Then start grabbing boxes and-"
  2745. >You notice Adagio staring into her room with a surprised expression.
  2746. >Aria and Sonata notice as well, and they walk up to her.
  2747. >"All my things..."
  2748. >You take a look inside her room.
  2749. >The girls have packed away Adagio's belongings neatly, leaving the room looking bare like the rest of the apartment.
  2750. >"We took care that it's all packed away safely. None of your makeup will break."
  2751. >Aria insists.
  2752. >Adagio is silent.
  2753. >Sonata hands her a piece of paper.
  2754. >"This is a list of all the best motels I could find on the internet. They're nice looking. Not as dirty or sad as some of the other ones. It took awhile to make, but I know it'll help you."
  2755. >Sonata smiles nervously.
  2756. >The list has phone numbers, rates, directions and everything.
  2757. >Anyone can see she put a lot of care into making it.
  2758. >Adagio takes a quick look over the list, before ripping it up into pieces, letting them fall to the ground.
  2759. >"I don't need this."
  2760. >You're all shocked by her actions, Sonata worst of all.
  2761. >"No wait! Wh... why would you..."
  2762. >Stepping over the torn list, Adagio walks into her room.
  2763. >Sonata looks down at the list with watered eyes.
  2764. >Aria becomes visibly upset.
  2765. >"This fucking bitch."
  2766. >She's about to go in and argue with her.
  2767. >You stop her by putting a hand on her shoulder.
  2768. >"Anon?"
  2769. "Hold on a second. I have a feeling this isn't what it looks like."
  2770. >Adagio comes back out holding one of the boxes containing her things.
  2771. >She shoves it into your hands.
  2772. >"Start loading things into the van already."
  2773. >You give her a questioning look.
  2774. "Adagio, we already talked about this. I'm going to move them into my house first, then come help you get into a motel."
  2775. >"I don't just mean my stuff, I'm talking about everything!"
  2776. >You knew it.
  2777. >Sonata suddenly gets excited.
  2778. >"Wait! Does that mean you're coming with us?!"
  2779. >"No, Sonata, I'm just giving you my things as a memento."
  2780. >She says sarcastically.
  2781. >Sonata grabs Adagio into a tight hug.
  2782. >"You can put on a tough act if you have to! I'm just happy we're staying together!"
  2783. >Adagio is reluctant, but she returns the hug with a small smile.
  2784. >"Thanks for worrying about me."
  2785. >She whispers softly.
  2786. >You and Aria look at each other with smiles of your own before she picks up a box herself.
  2787. >She follows you outside, where you have the back of the van parked just a few feet from the door.
  2788. "Is it okay to park here like this?"
  2789. >You ask as you load the box in.
  2790. >"Not really. But it's only for awhile. And besides, we're getting kicked out anyways, so fuck it."
  2791. >She slides her box in after you.
  2792. >Sonata and Adagio come out with boxes as well.
  2793.  
  2794. >Filled to the brim, everything is in the van.
  2795. >Once you've all checked that nothing is left behind, the four of you stand in the living room.
  2796. >The only thing that was staying behind was the furniture, since it still belonged to the landlord.
  2797. >"That's it."
  2798. >Aria confirms.
  2799. "Not that anything else could fit in the van. I thought you said there wasn't a ton of stuff?"
  2800. >"I meant compared to other people. And I didn't know we'd be taking Adagio's things too."
  2801. "Yeah, that's true."
  2802. >"Whatever! We're done now so let's go."
  2803. >Adagio heads out the door without a second thought, while Sonata seems saddened.
  2804. >Aria notices this, and with a smile, she throws the keys to her.
  2805. >"You can do the honors, kid."
  2806. >She says as she walks out.
  2807. >Sonata just stands there, looking around.
  2808. "Ready, Sonata?"
  2809. >She nods, holding the keys up to her chest.
  2810. >She takes a deep breath.
  2811. >"Goodbye apartment. Thanks for taking care of us. For keeping us warm, dry and safe. Thanks for being... a great home."
  2812. >Her voice is sincere.
  2813. >She has no tears in her eyes, but she's not smiling.
  2814. >She's just... accepting of it all.
  2815. >You follow her out the door, and she closes and locks it.
  2816. >She looks down at the keys in her hand for a moment, before slipping them back into the apartment through the mail slot.
  2817. >Aria and Adagio have been standing a few feet away from the door.
  2818. >Adagio with her back to the door, while Aria looks off to the side.
  2819. >Though they're pretending they didn't, you and Sonata know they heard every word she just said.
  2820. >A silence falls over you all.
  2821. >It seems like no one has any words to break it.
  2822. >...
  2823. >"I CALL THE MIDDLE SEAT!"
  2824. >Sonata suddenly shouts, running to the van's door and jumping inside.
  2825. >Aria laughs.
  2826. >"Nobody wants the middle seat, you dork!"
  2827. >"But the middle seat gets control of the radiooo~"
  2828. >Aria perks up, and jumps inside the van as well.
  2829. >"No, Sonata! I don't want to listen to golden oldies!"
  2830. >Aria and Sonata begin to fight over the radio.
  2831. >You can't see Adagio's face, but you feel as if she's smiling.
  2832. >"Come on, Anon. Time to start the sleepover."
  2833. >She calls to you.
  2834. "Alrighty."
  2835. >She takes the window seat while you start the van up, Sonata and Aria bickering between you on the bench seat.
  2836. >While the sound of the radio station constantly being changed blares out of the windows, you pull out of the apartment parking lot for the last time.
  2837.  
  2838. >Backing the van up into your garage and putting it in park, everyone gets out.
  2839. >"I'm so excited to see your house, Anon!"
  2840. >Sonata bounces.
  2841. "This is your home now for a while, so feel free to explore all you want. But only AFTER we've unloaded the van!"
  2842. >All three girls groan, but start helping you.
  2843. "There's plenty of room here in the garage, so just pile everything up until you're ready to go through it."
  2844.  
  2845. >With half the boxes stacked in your garage, it seems it won't be much longer until you're done.
  2846. >It seemed that is, until Sonata sneaked off into the house, through the doorway at the back of the garage.
  2847. >"ANON'S HOUSE, YAAA-why is it so dark in here? I'M GONNA OPEN UP ALL THE CURTAINS YAAAY!"
  2848. >You hear from inside.
  2849. "Sonata, we're not done!"
  2850. >Aria grins.
  2851. >"If Sonata gets to ditch then so do I!"
  2852. >Aria runs in as well.
  2853. >You run up to doorway and yell after them.
  2854. "Aria! Sonata! Come back!"
  2855. >"Let's jump on Anon's bed!"
  2856. >"Fuck yeah!"
  2857. "DON'T JUMP ON MY BED YOU LITTLE JERKS!"
  2858. >You notice Adagio is trying to get away as well.
  2859. >She's casually walking past you.
  2860. >You place a tight gripping hand on her shoulder before she's out of reach.
  2861. "Hey now, where do you think you're going?"
  2862. >You ask in a deep, serious tone.
  2863. >"O-oh wow! Anon's house, yaaay."
  2864. >She stammers with a nervous smile.
  2865. "You've already seen the house."
  2866. >"Have I? I don't think I've jumped on your bed yet?"
  2867. >You narrow your eyes.
  2868. "That's not helping your case, Cheesy Poof."
  2869. >You drag her back to the van.
  2870. >"Dammit, Asparagus!"
  2871.  
  2872. >The van now empty again, you dust your hands off.
  2873. "We're done."
  2874. >"Fucking finally. I have to sit down for awhile."
  2875. "You go ahead."
  2876. >She looks back at you from the doorway.
  2877. >"Where are you going?"
  2878. "To trade the van back for my car. Close both of the garage doors after I pull out."
  2879. >Adagio stays where she is, next to the set of switches.
  2880. >You get back into the van and start it up.
  2881. >As you drive away, you see the garage door close in the rear-view mirror.
  2882.  
  2883. >Behind the wheel of your own car again, you park it and walk back into the house.
  2884. >Time to pour yourself something to drink and take a rest.
  2885. >But before you can reach the kitchen, Aria calls you from the hallway.
  2886. >"Hey, Anon! Come here!"
  2887. "What is it?"
  2888. >"I have a secret to tell you."
  2889. >You raise an eyebrow.
  2890. "A secret? Where's the others?"
  2891. >"Sonata's playing in your old bedroom, and Adagio's taking a shower. But they might still hear us, so follow me."
  2892. >She leads you into the laundry room.
  2893. >"Close the door behind you."
  2894. >You do so.
  2895. "Okay, what's this secret-"
  2896. >Oh fuck.
  2897. >You turn around to see Aria with a devious grin, holding the bottle of expensive shampoo.
  2898. >She slowly walks up to you.
  2899. >"Well, well. Look. What. I. Found."
  2900. >She pokes your chest with the bottle for every word.
  2901. >"Anon, I didn't know you were running a salon out of your house! How interesting."
  2902. >Fuuuuck.
  2903. >You didn't clean up at all after you washed Adagio's hair.
  2904. >Everything is still here.
  2905. >There's no way out of this.
  2906. >Unless...
  2907. "I know what you're thinking."
  2908. >"Do you?"
  2909. "Yes. And just to clarify, Adagio washed her own hair."
  2910. >Aria bursts out laughing.
  2911. >"Wow, that's one hell of a weak lie!"
  2912. "What do you mean?"
  2913. >"Adagio? Bending over to wash her own hair? Her fucking neck would snap!"
  2914. >Damn it!
  2915. >Should've known only Adagio herself would be deluded enough to believe that was possible.
  2916. >She steps back, sits down on the stool, and crosses her legs, still holding the bottle and that grin.
  2917. >"Now, I'd like to properly make an appointment here at Salon Mous."
  2918. >You narrow your eyes.
  2919. "And what if I told you I'm booked solid?"
  2920. >"I think you'll be able to squeeze me in. Unless of course, you'd like other people to find out about this?"
  2921. "Blackmail? Really?"
  2922. >She shrugs.
  2923. >"What can I say? Sure I've changed, but... not THAT much."
  2924. "Still willing to use those old tactics, huh?"
  2925. >"As long as they get the job done, of course."
  2926. "Aria, even if I agree to wash your hair, this isn't the time for it."
  2927. >"I know. That's why I said I was making an appointment after all. We'll wait until Sonata and Adagio are out of the house. And then..."
  2928. >She stands up and gets close to you.
  2929. >Much too close, staring you down with an evil smile.
  2930. >"You're going to wash my hair, Anon. And I'm going to enjoy EVERY moment of it."
  2931. >She orders seductively, pushing the bottle onto you.
  2932. >"Can't wait to feel those hands go to work."
  2933. >She says as she opens the door and walks out of the room.
  2934. >Holy shit, what just happened?
  2935. >You know Aria isn't attracted to you.
  2936. >So she's just laying it on thick to mess with you.
  2937. >But she is serious about the hair washing.
  2938. >Like it or not, you'll have to go through with it.
  2939. >It's better than anyone else finding out about all this.
  2940. >Before you leave the room, you tidy up a bit.
  2941. >If only you'd done this yesterday.
  2942. >Back in the hallway, you hear the sounds of a video game being played.
  2943. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKC5EfjgyT8#t=01m14s
  2944. >You walk into your old bedroom to see Sonata and Aria sitting on the floor playing with your Gamecube.
  2945. >"Oh my gosh, Anon, you have like, every game ever made!"
  2946. >Sonata exclaims with an expression of pure joy, not taking her eyes off the tv for a second.
  2947. >"And this is a oldass tv."
  2948. >Aria comments on your crt.
  2949. >You sit down next to them.
  2950. "Yeah, a lot of my collection comes from my dad and older sister."
  2951. >"You have a sister?!"
  2952. >"Anyone could figure that out from the other bedroom, Sonata, It's full of girl stuff."
  2953. >Aria's also fixated on the game.
  2954. >"Where is she anyways?"
  2955. "Away at college. So one of you can have her room. Have you decided who's gonna get it?"
  2956. >"That would be me."
  2957. >Adagio walks in wearing a clean set of clothes.
  2958. >"You're lucky I'm here at all. There's no way I'm going to share a bed with anyone."
  2959. >"I'm not sharing a bed either! Sonata can sleep on the couch!"
  2960. >Aria shouts.
  2961. >"Aria! How could you?"
  2962. >Sonata asks sadly.
  2963. "This is a big bed, Aria. You could easily both sleep in it."
  2964. >"I don't care!"
  2965. >"Then how about we play for it? Winner gets to choose what happens."
  2966. >Sonata offers.
  2967. >The game they were playing was Mario Kart Double Dash.
  2968. >"One race?"
  2969. >Aria asks with a smug smile.
  2970. >"One race."
  2971. >Sonata has a confident smile of her own.
  2972. >"You're on, loser. Prepare yourself for the couch."
  2973. >Adagio, seemingly interested now, sits down on the bed to watch.
  2974. >Aria and Sonata select their characters and start the race.
  2975.  
  2976. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca4sCfaNAvI#t=01m23s
  2977. >"Victory!"
  2978. >Sonata cheers.
  2979. >"Goddammit!"
  2980. >Aria throws her controller to the ground in frustration.
  2981. >"That was pathetic, Aria."
  2982. >Adagio tells her.
  2983. >"It's not my fault! That fucking blue shell made me lose! This game is bullshit!"
  2984. >"Aww, don't worry, I'll teach you how to get better, roomie."
  2985. >Sonata pats her on the back.
  2986. >Aria bats her hand away.
  2987. >"You'd better stay on your side of the bed!"
  2988. >"Nooo! We're gonna snuggle!"
  2989. >Sonata gets Aria in a hug.
  2990. >"The hell we are!"
  2991. >Aria tries to push Sonata off her.
  2992. >"With that settled, what are we gonna eat, Asparagus?"
  2993. >Adagio asks.
  2994. >Oh yeah, food.
  2995. "I would make us something, but I'm pretty wiped out. How about we just order pizza for today?"
  2996. >"Okay!"
  2997. >"Fine with me."
  2998. >Sonata and Aria approve.
  2999. >Adagio seems disappointed.
  3000. >"I'll let you have today, but I want something tomorrow. And I want breakfast again."
  3001. >She orders.
  3002. >Sonata gets excited again.
  3003. >"Breakfast?! You guys had breakfast?!"
  3004. >She asks, letting go of Aria and turning around to Adagio.
  3005. >"Yeah, Anon cooked us some this morning."
  3006. >"How was it?"
  3007. >"Best breakfast I ever had. Anon is a great cook."
  3008. >Aria smiles.
  3009. >"Nice, Gus."
  3010. >Sonata grabs your arm and shakes it.
  3011. >"Anon! You'll make us some too?!"
  3012. "Yes, yes, I'll make us all breakfast tomorrow. And I'll figure out something for dinner tomorrow. But for now, let's order that pizza."
  3013. >You pull out your phone and begin dialing.
  3014. >So now you had to make breakfast for four people every morning?
  3015. >Though, hearing Adagio say those things does make you feel good.
  3016. >You didn't mention anything to her, but you were watching her eat the meal, and it made you happy that she enjoyed it so much.
  3017. >If you could see that again, it would be worth it.
  3018.  
  3019. >The pizza is delivered, and quickly devoured.
  3020. >The girls spend the rest of the day going through their things and taking out what they need.
  3021. >With it being a school day tomorrow, you all decide to turn in early.
  3022. >You're ready to go to bed yourself, but you're called into your old bedroom by Sonata.
  3023. >"Anoooon!"
  3024. >You walk in to see the girls in bed with their pajamas on, both of them sitting up.
  3025. >Aria on the far left side, arms crossed and looking very grumpy.
  3026. >While Sonata was more in the middle, holding something and looking excited.
  3027. "What's up?"
  3028. >"Anon, look! I found this in your closet!"
  3029. >It's a book.
  3030. "Ah, that. I haven't seen this in a while."
  3031. >"What is it?"
  3032. "Just an old bedtime story my parents used to read to my sister and me. A children's story about a stuffed teddy bear."
  3033. >"The bear looks so cute!"
  3034. "It came with an actual teddy bear that looked just like that. I think it's in my sister's room."
  3035. >"Here it is."
  3036. >Adagio stands at the doorway in her own pajamas, holding the cute bear.
  3037. >"It was in the closet. Take it, Sonata."
  3038. >She tosses the bear to her, and Sonata catches and hugs it tight.
  3039. >"Oohh! It's so fluffy!"
  3040. >Adagio walks away, while Aria sighs.
  3041. >"Don't tell me you want to keep that thing in the bed with us?"
  3042. >"Do you wanna kick this cute little face out of bed?!"
  3043. >She points the bear at Aria, who rolls her eyes.
  3044. >"What's his name?"
  3045. >Sonata asks.
  3046. "The book just calls him Teddy, so that's what we always called him."
  3047. >"How original. Breaking all kinds of new ground with that name."
  3048. >Aria grumbles.
  3049. >"Ooo! Anon! Would you read me this story?"
  3050. >"I am NOT listening to a bedtime story, Sonata!"
  3051. >"But I've never had a bedtime story! Please, Anon! Please?"
  3052. >Sonata gives you those sad puppy eyes of hers.
  3053. "Alright. It's not that long anyways."
  3054. >"Yaaay!"
  3055. >Sonata cheers.
  3056. >"Oh c'mon!"
  3057. >Aria complains.
  3058. >You sit on the edge of the bed, and Sonata hands you the book.
  3059. >You open it up and begin to read.
  3060. "There once was a small, soft stuffed bear named, Teddy."
  3061. >"UGGHH!"
  3062. >Aria flips over, covers her head with her pillow, and throws the blanket on top of herself.
  3063. >She's now completely hidden under the sheets, a body sized bump in the bed as the only evidence of her being in the room.
  3064. >Sonata, on the other hand, has a childlike expression of wonder, as she hugs Teddy tightly to her chest.
  3065. >You continue on with the story.
  3066.  
  3067. "And as Teddy was surrounded and hugged by his family, he cried tears of joy. For he was finally... back home. The end."
  3068. >Sonata claps happily a few times.
  3069. >"Oh my gosh! That was sooo sweet!"
  3070. "I'm glad you liked it. I forgot how touching this story was."
  3071. >As you close the book, you hear what sounds like sobbing.
  3072. >Sonata notices it too, and you both look around trying to figure out where it's coming from.
  3073. >The sound leads your eyes to the large bump on the bed.
  3074. "Aria, are you... are you crying?!"
  3075. >"N-NO! W-why would I be c-crying?!"
  3076. >She sniffles loudly.
  3077. >She's totally crying.
  3078. >"Did you like the story, Aria?"
  3079. >Sonata asks, leaning over to the bump.
  3080. >"H-how could I like such a lame s-story like that?! S-stupid bear! Got l-lost, all alone! A-and he so happy, t-to see his stupid f-family!"
  3081. >She sobs through her words.
  3082. >Sonata leans in closer, and places Teddy at an opening in the blanket, next to Aria's pillow.
  3083. >"Aria, do you want to snuggle with Teddy?"
  3084. >There's a moment of silence.
  3085. >And then, a hand reaches out from the bump to grab Teddy and pull him in.
  3086. >The changing shape of the bump tells you the stuffed bear is being tightly hugged.
  3087. >You and Sonata smile.
  3088. "I think you two are ready to sleep."
  3089. >You get up, and place the book on your desk.
  3090. "Goodnight, girls."
  3091. >"Goodnight, Anon!"
  3092. >Sonata replies as she turns off the lamp on the night stand.
  3093. >This leaves the only light in the room coming from the big crt, with the Gamecube still running Mario Kart.
  3094. >You watch Sonata get under the sheets and make herself comfortable.
  3095. >She turns over on her pillow and closes her eyes, still wearing a smile.
  3096. >You carefully close the door behind you.
  3097. >...You felt like Adagio was listening to the story, outside the door.
  3098. >But there's no sign of her, except for the light in the hallway coming from your sister's open room further down.
  3099.  
  3100. >You are Adagio.
  3101. >You've just quickly, but quietly, run back into your new bedroom.
  3102. >You listened to that entire story from the hallway with a smile.
  3103. >For some reason, hearing Anon read a bedtime story was genuinely sweet.
  3104. >But you didn't want Anon to know that, so you're moving things around in the room, to pretend you didn't hear anything.
  3105. >He walks over and stands in the doorway.
  3106. >You act surprised.
  3107. "Oh, Anon. Going to bed?"
  3108. >"Yeah. You?"
  3109. "As soon as I get the last of this stuff put away."
  3110. >"Don't worry about it so much. You've got plenty of time."
  3111. >His expression becomes a bit serious.
  3112. >"I'm not gonna kick you guys out, ya know. You can stay here... as long as you like."
  3113. >You nod.
  3114. "I know. But are you sure about that? Once those two taste your cooking, I think they're going to run you nuts with bedtime stories and food constantly."
  3115. >He smiles.
  3116. >"I can handle it."
  3117. >You smile back.
  3118. "If you say so."
  3119. >There's a moment of silence as you both stare at each other.
  3120. >You don't know why, but you can't take your eyes off him.
  3121. >And you don't mind... the way he's looking at you...
  3122. >"Goodnight, Adagio."
  3123. "Goodnight, Anon."
  3124. >He walks away from the door.
  3125. >You quietly peak out of the doorway, careful to not let him see you, and watch him go into the master bedroom down the hall.
  3126. >As he closes the door behind him, you sigh loudly and lean against the wall.
  3127. >What are you doing?
  3128. >Why do you feel so obsessed with him?
  3129. >He's just a stupid piece of asparagus!
  3130. >...That's all he is damn it.
  3131. >You close the door to your bedroom, turn off the lamp, and get into bed.
  3132. >Time to sleep.
  3133. >Time to test this out.
  3134. >If you're not crazy, something about this house let's you get a good night's sleep.
  3135. >Hopefully, there weren't any special conditions necessary.
  3136. >You shouldn't have any problems.
  3137. >This bed is really comfortable, after all.
  3138. >It's big and soft.
  3139. >You have blankets.
  3140. >You have plenty of pillows to choose from.
  3141. >The only thing you don't have is...
  3142. >Stop it.
  3143. >Shut up brain!
  3144. >Go to sleep.
  3145. >Just... sleep.
  3146. >You toss and turn for awhile.
  3147. >But eventually... you feel yourself slipping into dreams...
  3148.  
  3149.  
  3150. >You are Anon.
  3151. >Your alarm clock goes off, waking you up.
  3152. >You've set it earlier than usual, since you want to get a head start on making breakfast.
  3153. >And after washing up, that's what you do.
  3154. >As you prepare the morning food, you hear the sound of the girls waking up.
  3155. >Soon enough, Aria and Sonata come walking into the kitchen.
  3156. >"Good morning, Anon!"
  3157. "Good morning, Sonata."
  3158. >They both start hovering around you, watching you cook.
  3159. >"Damn, that smells good! How much longer till it's done?"
  3160. >Aria asks licking her lips.
  3161. "A few minutes. Could you set the table for us?"
  3162. >You motion to the cabinets and drawers.
  3163. >The girls do as you ask them, and the table is ready just as the food is done.
  3164. >You put everything into platters, since you're not sure how much everyone wants to eat.
  3165. >So this way, everyone can grab as much as they want.
  3166. >Coming to the table a few minutes late, Adagio sits down.
  3167. >She doesn't look too good.
  3168. "Didn't get enough sleep?"
  3169. >"Nope."
  3170. >She rubs her face.
  3171. "Sorry to hear that. But hey, eat up. It'll help."
  3172. >Sonata and Aria were already eating like animals.
  3173. >"Oh man, it's too early to get turned on like this."
  3174. >Aria says as she takes some more pancakes.
  3175. "What did I tell you about not wanting to hear that?"
  3176. >"You should take it as a compliment."
  3177. "I take it as unsettling."
  3178. >"Anon, do you think you could teach me how to cook?"
  3179. >Sonata asks.
  3180. >You think about it for a moment.
  3181. "Yeah, you could learn the basics pretty quickly. We can start later today."
  3182. >"Yesss."
  3183. >She cheers quietly to herself.
  3184.  
  3185. >A few minutes later, breakfast is done and everyone is fed.
  3186. >Time to go to school.
  3187. >You all grab your backpacks and get in the car.
  3188. >Everyone, even Adagio, seems to be in a good mood.
  3189. >"That breakfast was deeelish!"
  3190. >Sonata says satisfied.
  3191. >"Yeah, way better than cereal or leftover pizza."
  3192. >Aria agrees.
  3193. "Is that all you guys ever had for breakfast?"
  3194. >"Sometimes we'd have frozen waffles."
  3195. "We'll change that by teaching you guys to cook. Right, Sonata?"
  3196. >You ask while still keeping your eyes on the road.
  3197. >"Right! I'm gonna cook all the things!"
  3198. >She replies with enthusiasm.
  3199. >"And just as good, is not having to take the bus to school."
  3200. >Aria adds.
  3201. >"It's nice to not be in a rush and have some extra time."
  3202. >Adagio hasn't said anything, but she has a small smile, so you're not worried about her.
  3203.  
  3204. >You park in the student area of the parking lot, and everyone gets out.
  3205. >You go through the main entrance all together, but now you'll have to split off.
  3206. >"Later, Anon."
  3207. >Aria gives a small wave.
  3208. "Later."
  3209. >You wave back.
  3210. >As usual, the halls are packed with students.
  3211. >You walk through the crowd.
  3212. >...You're a bit disappointed that Adagio didn't say anything to you, but not surprised.
  3213. >You make it to the end of the hall, but before you can turn the corner, you hear Sonata call out to you.
  3214. >"HAVE A GOOD DAY, ANON!"
  3215. >You look back to see Sonata, waving and bouncing wildly to get your attention from the other end of the hall.
  3216. >She's gotten more than just your attention though, as almost everyone looks at her and you for a moment.
  3217. >But you don't care, and you happily wave back to her.
  3218. >"We'll see him again in a few hours, you idiot!"
  3219. >Aria shouts as she tries to drag Sonata off.
  3220. >You chuckle a bit, before you notice Adagio.
  3221. >She gives you a small wave, and a small smile to go with it.
  3222. >You return both.
  3223.  
  3224.  
  3225. >Four days later.
  3226.  
  3227.  
  3228. >You are Adagio.
  3229. >It's friday night.
  3230. >You're lying in bed, wide awake and frustrated.
  3231. >Everyone else is in bed too.
  3232. >You still haven't been able to get the kind of rest you got that night on the couch.
  3233. >Last night, you even slept on the couch again, just to see if that's what helped you.
  3234. >But no, it didn't do anything.
  3235. >You're still waking up feeling like shit everyday.
  3236. >Why?
  3237. >What is this?
  3238. >How did you get such a good rest that night?
  3239. >The only thing you haven't tried yet is...
  3240. >Oh god.
  3241. >That can't really be it, can it?
  3242. >You've been refusing to accept it, but it's the only thing left.
  3243. >And you're so sick and tired of this.
  3244. >You need to put an end to this.
  3245. >You need a good night's sleep.
  3246. >Desperately.
  3247. >You're desperate.
  3248. >So much that...
  3249. >Are you going to do this?
  3250. >...
  3251. >You're going to do this.
  3252. >You throw the blanket off you and sit up.
  3253. >You grab your pillow, open the bedroom door, and walk out into the hallway.
  3254. >There's a single, dimly lit light on.
  3255. >So that no one has to walk around in the dark if they need something in the middle of the night.
  3256. >You can hear the sound of that big, old tv from Sonata and Aria's room playing a video game.
  3257. >Seemed they both took to using that as a night light.
  3258. >You tuck your pillow under your arm and quietly walk up to Anon's bedroom door.
  3259. >You reach for the doorknob, but hesitate.
  3260. >Are you REALLY going to do this?!
  3261. >You could just go back into your room.
  3262. >Get back in bed.
  3263. >And not risk making a huge mistake.
  3264. >But... you already know what will happen.
  3265. >You'll get a shit night's sleep.
  3266. >And you'll be miserable all day for it.
  3267. >No dammit, go on with it.
  3268. >It probably won't even work, but at least you won't have to run yourself crazy wondering if it could.
  3269. >You reach for the doorknob again, and this time, place your hand on it.
  3270. >You turn it.
  3271. >Slowly.
  3272. >And open the door.
  3273. >Slowly.
  3274. >The last thing you wanna do is wake up Anon.
  3275. >So just open it gently... and then-holy shit stop squeaking and making so much noise you piece of shit door oh my god!
  3276. >It's worse to open this door slowly?!
  3277. >Fine damn it.
  3278. >You swing the door open quickly.
  3279. >No squeaking.
  3280. >Good.
  3281. >Looks like Anon leaves the tv on in here as a night light as well.
  3282. >But it was muted, and the colors and brightness were turned down, so it wasn't distracting.
  3283. >You can see him sleeping in bed.
  3284. >You take a step into the room, and close the door behind you.
  3285. >You walk up to the side of the bed.
  3286. >Anon is lying almost in the middle, but there's enough room for you.
  3287. >He's sleeping on his side, facing away from you.
  3288. >You place your pillow down.
  3289. >Slowly... gently... you slip under the blanket.
  3290. >Careful.
  3291. >Don't rock the bed too much.
  3292. >Just lay down... make yourself comfortable...
  3293. >Annnnd done.
  3294. >You did it.
  3295. >You're in Anon's bed, and you didn't wake him u-
  3296. >"Adagio."
  3297. >OH FUCK.
  3298. >"What are you doing in bed with me?"
  3299. >FUCK FUCK FUCK!
  3300. "Um..."
  3301. >What should you do?!
  3302. >What should you say?!
  3303. >Come up with a good reason for this!
  3304. >QUICK!
  3305. "I was just... the bed."
  3306. >"The bed?"
  3307. >He hasn't turned over or moved at all.
  3308. >He's still facing away from you.
  3309. "Your sister's bed. I don't like it. It's too uncomfortable, so I wanted to try this bed out."
  3310. >"Oh?"
  3311. "Yeah. I mean, I would've tried the other bed, but it's already got Aria and Sonata, so... you don't mind if I sleep here, do you?"
  3312. >"No... I don't mind."
  3313. "Okay... good..."
  3314. >There's a moment of silence.
  3315. >...
  3316. "Well... goodnight."
  3317. >"Goodnight."
  3318. >And... that's it?
  3319. >Simple as that?
  3320. >He must be half asleep to agree to this so easily.
  3321. >That's fine.
  3322. >Better for you.
  3323. >Now for the next part of this.
  3324. >You look over to the clock on the night stand.
  3325. >And you watch it.
  3326. >Until 30 minutes have gone by.
  3327. >You're sure that Anon is asleep by now.
  3328. >And that's when you...
  3329. >Snuggle up to him.
  3330. >You snuggle up to him from behind, and wrap your arms around him.
  3331. >...
  3332. >This feeling.
  3333. >This is the feeling you had that night on the couch.
  3334. >The sound and rhythm of his breathing.
  3335. >His heartbeat.
  3336. >It's so warm and comforting.
  3337. >All your other thoughts are drowned out by it.
  3338. >They don't matter.
  3339. >This is all you need... all you care about.
  3340. >Within minutes, you're already getting sleepy.
  3341. >So sleepy.
  3342. >Not since that first night with Anon... has sleep come...
  3343. >So easily...
  3344.  
  3345.  
  3346. >Lucidity slowly returns to you.
  3347. >Before you even open your eyes, you can feel something you hadn't prepared yourself for.
  3348. >You draw your eyelids back, confirming it.
  3349. >Anon, still sleeping, has turned over and is returning your embrace.
  3350. >Your arms still wrapped around him, he in turn has entwined himself with you.
  3351. >You want to reel back in shock at first, but you stop yourself, as it would definitely wake him up.
  3352. >So you lay there, in each others arms, and stare at his face for a few moments.
  3353. >He's so close, you can feel his breathing.
  3354. >That means he can feel yours as well.
  3355. >...
  3356. >You have to get out of here.
  3357. >You gradually roll out of Anon's arms, and sit up on the side of the bed.
  3358. >The curtains are only somewhat drawn, so there's plenty of light coming in, but not enough to blind your waking eyes.
  3359. >Still sitting, you stretch yourself out.
  3360. >And in the silence of the room, what you've been yearning after for so long hits you.
  3361. >You feel great.
  3362. >So rested.
  3363. >So refreshed.
  3364. >There's no doubt now, is there?
  3365. >Being with Anon... makes you feel better?
  3366. >A part of you is ready to admit this, but another still screams against it.
  3367. >You look back at Anon, who seems to still be in a deep sleep.
  3368. >What if it really was this bed, and not him, that helped you?
  3369. >You look further back, to the clock.
  3370. >You've overslept, but the girls shouldn't be up yet either, it being a saturday.
  3371. >You have to get back to your room before they see you.
  3372. >You lift yourself from the bed and stand up.
  3373. >But before you can even take one step, you're grabbed around your waist and pulled back.
  3374. "Whaa!"
  3375. >You yelp out, as you're dragged back into the middle of the bed.
  3376. >You're now lying down in bed again, with Anon holding you to him tightly from behind.
  3377. "A-anon?! What are you-"
  3378. >"Leaving without even saying good morning?"
  3379. >He asks with a sly tone.
  3380. >You're in shock and caught completely off guard.
  3381. "I just... didn't want to wake you."
  3382. >"You already did that when you rolled away from me."
  3383. >Damn it.
  3384. >"So... how was it?"
  3385. "How was what?"
  3386. >"The bed. Was it comfortable for you? Did you get a good sleep?"
  3387. "Y-yeah... it was really comfortable. Way better than your sister's bed. Your parents must have cheaped out on her, and spent more for their own."
  3388. >He laughs.
  3389. "What's so funny?"
  3390. >"All three beds are the same model."
  3391. "What?!"
  3392. >"My parents bought them as a package deal. The only difference between them is size. Nothing else."
  3393. >Fucking hell!
  3394. "That can't be true! You're messing with me!"
  3395. >He leans in closer to your ear, whispering softly.
  3396. >"Adagio, I think you already know it wasn't the bed that was so comfortable for you."
  3397. >You can feel his warm breath on your ear, sending shivers down your spine.
  3398. "I have to get up now!"
  3399. >You shout as you spring up and jump out of the bed, towards the door.
  3400. >"What's wrong?"
  3401. "I can't let Sonata or Aria catch me in-"
  3402. >You open the door, only to stop in your tracks.
  3403. >Walking in the hallway is Aria, eating a cookie while still wearing her pajamas.
  3404. >Her eyes go wide upon seeing you.
  3405. >"Adagio?!"
  3406. >She walks over to the door with a huge smile.
  3407. >You want to close the door or run away, but there's no point now.
  3408. >"What... what are you doing in Anon's room?!"
  3409. >You can get out of this.
  3410. "I was just asking him a question."
  3411. >"No... that's not it."
  3412. >She peeks around you into the room.
  3413. >"There! That's your pillow on the right side of the bed!"
  3414. >She points excitedly.
  3415. "That's not my pillow! It's Anon's!"
  3416. >"No it isn't! I know Anon only sleeps with one pillow, because that's how it was when we jumped on it! And further proof..."
  3417. >She runs over to the open door of your bedroom, and points inside.
  3418. >"There's no pillow on your bed! And you only sleep with one pillow too!"
  3419. "Who are you, fucking Sherlock Holmes?!"
  3420. >"Well, you certainly ain't no Moriarty."
  3421. >She replies with a smug grin.
  3422. >"What's going on? And can I be Watson?"
  3423. >Sonata asks, walking over from her bedroom.
  3424. >Anon was also out of bed now, standing beside you.
  3425. >"Adagio slept in Anon's bed!"
  3426. >Aria tells Sonata.
  3427. >"Really? Why would you do that?"
  3428. >Sonata asks confused.
  3429. >"It's obvious, Sonata. They had sex. You guys did fuck, right?"
  3430. "No!"
  3431. >"No!"
  3432. >You and Anon both shout in unison.
  3433. >"Please! What else could you possibly do in a bed together?"
  3434. >Sonata looks at you and Anon in deep thought for a moment, and suddenly points at you with a smile.
  3435. >"They snuggled! They cuddled and snuggled all night!"
  3436. >Aria scoffs.
  3437. >"Don't be stupid! No one is such a dork to stay in bed all night and only..."
  3438. >Aria notices you blush a bit, while you look away slightly.
  3439. >There's also the fact that you, nor Anon, are protesting what Sonata said.
  3440. >"Oh wow... you guys actually just..."
  3441. >Aria begins to laugh.
  3442. >Hysterically.
  3443. >"H-holy shit! That is the lamest thing I've ever-"
  3444. >Another burst of laughter.
  3445. >Aria's tearing up and hunching over from laughing so hard.
  3446. >You and Anon remain silent.
  3447. >You look over to see he isn't getting upset, and neither are you.
  3448. >Aria finally stops laughing long enough to speak again.
  3449. >"Wha-what's the matter? No excuses? No comebacks?"
  3450. "Aria, we're not really bothered by what you say."
  3451. >You reply deadpanned.
  3452. >Her face drops a bit.
  3453. >"Why not?"
  3454. >"BECAUSE YOU'VE BEEN HOLDING TEDDY THIS ENTIRE TIME!"
  3455. >Anon shouts, pointing at the stuffed bear in her arm.
  3456. >Aria's expression becomes serious and upset.
  3457. >"Don't you fucking bring Teddy into this! He NEEDS to be cuddled! It's completely different!"
  3458. >"It's not different at all!"
  3459. "Okay, how about this?"
  3460. >You walk up to Aria and hold your hand out.
  3461. "Give me Teddy, and THEN you can make fun of us."
  3462. >She clutches onto Teddy with both arms, and steps away from you defensively.
  3463. >"N-NO! You can't have him!"
  3464. "Not even for a minute?"
  3465. >"No! You don't understand him the way I do!"
  3466. >"She won't even let me snuggle with him anymore."
  3467. >Sonata pouts.
  3468. "What's it gonna be, Aria?"
  3469. >Aria looks at Teddy, then back to you.
  3470. >"Fine then!"
  3471. >She huffs and stomps away with her soft bear.
  3472. >"What about you, Sonata?"
  3473. >Anon asks.
  3474. >"I think it's cute! Good for you guys!"
  3475. >She approves with a smile and thumbs up.
  3476. >You blush and look away again.
  3477. >"But there's something more important to deal with!"
  3478. >She claims with a serious face.
  3479. >"What's that?"
  3480. >"Breakfast, Anon! Breakfast!"
  3481. >"Alright, alright. Prepare yourself and get everything ready, Sous Chef Sonata."
  3482. >"Aye aye, Captain!"
  3483. >She salutes with a smile, looking silly in her onesie pajamas.
  3484. >You sigh, and start to get ready yourself.
  3485.  
  3486. >You are Anon.
  3487. >It's the afternoon now, and everyone's moved past that scene this morning.
  3488. >Adagio and Sonata have plans to go shopping at the mall.
  3489. >They're dressed and ready to go.
  3490. >"You're not coming with us, Anon?"
  3491. >Sonata asks.
  3492. "Nope, I've got some important calls to make, so you guys go on ahead."
  3493. >You hand Adagio the keys to your car.
  3494. >She takes them and looks over to Aria, sitting down watching tv.
  3495. >"What about you, Aria?"
  3496. >"Nah, I don't feel like it."
  3497. >She answers casually.
  3498. >"Is it because you still haven't found another job yet?"
  3499. >Adagio teases.
  3500. >"No! And I have a job lined up already!"
  3501. >"If you say so. Come on, Sonata."
  3502. >"Bye, Anon!"
  3503. >Sonata waves as she and Adagio walk outside to the car.
  3504. >Aria turns off the tv and watches them drive off through the window.
  3505. >She smiles.
  3506. >"They're gone."
  3507. >She walks up to you.
  3508. >"So, Anon... are you ready to wash my hair?"
  3509. "Yeah. Let's get this over with before they come back. I'll get everything ready."
  3510. >"Go ahead, I've got to do some prep myself."
  3511. "Prep?"
  3512. >"You'll see."
  3513. >She walks past you into her room, and closes the door behind her.
  3514. >What is she up to?
  3515. >You go fetch your wicker basket filled with what you'll need.
  3516. >You take it to the laundry room, where you've made some changes in secret.
  3517. >The tub sink could now be moved away from the wall, allowing you to get behind it this time.
  3518. >You figured if you were going to do this again, you may as well do it right.
  3519. >A few minutes later, Aria walks in with a smile.
  3520. >She's swapped her casual outfit for a more stylish one.
  3521. >"Okay, I'm ready."
  3522. "Why are you dressed up?"
  3523. >"Once you've done my hair, I'm gonna go out for the day. And isn't it smarter to not ruin your hair by already having your outfit on?"
  3524. "You're right, I use that trick too."
  3525. >"There ya go."
  3526. >She sits down on the stool in front of the sink.
  3527. "Just so you know, this is going to take a while. Are you okay with that?"
  3528. >"It's still early, I've got plenty of time to spare. Just let me know when you're almost done, so I can text my ride to pick me up."
  3529. >You nod, and move just behind her.
  3530. "Take off your hair clips."
  3531. >She looks back at you with a stern face.
  3532. >"Excuse me? You want me to do something? I made an official appointment, and I expect the full service that comes with it."
  3533. "You're taking this that seriously?"
  3534. >"You're not?"
  3535. >You put on a fake smile.
  3536. "Very well then, madam."
  3537. >You take off her star clips, unfurling her hair from their confines.
  3538. >You switch on the overhead lights, which are once again a huge help.
  3539. >You fluff up her hair and run your hands through it, to get a better idea of what you're dealing with.
  3540. >You weren't able to do this with Adagio, because her hair was already soaking wet.
  3541. >But you have the opportunity this time, as Aria hasn't been out in the rain recently.
  3542. >Sweeping her hair behind her with your hands, you're able to see how it falls.
  3543. "Hmm."
  3544. >"What is it?"
  3545. "Seems like your hair has been trained to be put into those tails. It's splitting down the middle slightly. Why do you wear your hair like that?"
  3546. >"Because it's easy and it looks good. Why? Is it bad?"
  3547. "No, there's just so much more you could do with it. By the way, is there anything special you wanted done?"
  3548. >"Just do what you did for Adagio. Or whatever you want."
  3549. "Simple enough."
  3550. >You follow the same procedure as last time, placing a soft towel on the lip of the sink.
  3551. >You then guide Aria's neck onto the towel, laying her back.
  3552. >You make sure everything you need is on the stand next to the sink, and move into position behind the faucet.
  3553. >You pull all her hair into the tub.
  3554. >It doesn't take up nearly the space Adagio's did.
  3555. >But even then, it's still a substantial amount of hair.
  3556. >You slowly turn the water on, and start judging it's temperature.
  3557. >It's only warm right now.
  3558. >You cup the water in your hand, and splash a bit on her scalp.
  3559. "How's that? Too hot?"
  3560. >"Not for me. Was it like this for Adagio?"
  3561. "She liked it hotter."
  3562. >"Well, anything she can take, so can I."
  3563. "If you say so."
  3564. >You turn the heat up, and splash a bit on her again.
  3565. "How about now?"
  3566. >She scrunches her face a bit at first, but quickly relaxes.
  3567. >"That's... good. Keep it like that."
  3568. "Okay."
  3569. >You take hold of the detachable faucet, and pull to give yourself slack.
  3570. >When you have enough, you start to soak her hair.
  3571. >Light steam begins to billow up once again.
  3572. >As you continue, you realize how much easier this is standing behind the faucet.
  3573. >You have no problems reaching any part of her hair.
  3574. >Once it's wet enough, it's time for the shampoo.
  3575. >You pick up the same bottle you used on Adagio, and pour some into the palm of your hand.
  3576. >You begin to work it into her hair, and thankfully, it's taking to it much better this time.
  3577. >You're able to easily make suds.
  3578. >Aria, having closed her eyes and laying her hands on her lap, seems to be completely relaxed.
  3579. >More than that, she's put all her trust in you.
  3580. >There's no worry or warnings coming from her like Adagio.
  3581. >It must be from the results she's already seen first hand.
  3582. >Now you're ready to move onto her scalp.
  3583. >You pour some more shampoo into your palm again, and start messaging her scalp.
  3584. >She gets a slight smile.
  3585. >Once you've got enough suds going, you begin to scrub.
  3586. >You use the same amount of force you did for Adagio.
  3587. >"...Hey."
  3588. >Oh shit.
  3589. >You stop scrubbing, since you might have been hurting her.
  3590. "Was that too rough? I'm sorry."
  3591. >"Actually, I was gonna say you were being too gentle."
  3592. "Too gentle?!"
  3593. >"I'm not a sissy like Adagio. I can take it, so scrub harder."
  3594. "I'm not sure-"
  3595. >"That wasn't a request. That's an order."
  3596. "If you say so..."
  3597. >You now use more force than you did with Adagio, but you're careful that it's not enough to hurt.
  3598. >Aria's reaction is to arch her back slightly, scrunch her face, and bite her lip.
  3599. >All while wearing a smile.
  3600. >"Daaaamn... that feels... really good."
  3601. >She quietly moans out.
  3602. >"I think you've got magic hands, Anon."
  3603. "I REALLY don't wanna hear that from you."
  3604. >"Would you prefer to hear it from Adagio?"
  3605. >You scoff, to which she replies with laughter, before going back to concentrating on enjoying your scrubbing.
  3606. >You finish her scalp by gently scratching behind, and around her ears and neck.
  3607. >This makes her squirm with delight, just as Adagio did.
  3608. >You now move onto the rest of her hair.
  3609. >With plenty of suds, you easily weave your hands through all her hair.
  3610. >It's so much more manageable than Adagio's.
  3611. >You're able to run your hands and fingers through every inch of her hair in no time.
  3612. >Because of this, you go through the process of weaving and rubbing a few times over.
  3613. >And you do it all slowly... gently...
  3614. >You take your time.
  3615. >Aria seems to be enjoying it, as she's still wearing a smile.
  3616. >Once you're satisfied, you start rinsing her hair.
  3617. >And when you feel you've rinsed the shampoo out, you reach for the conditioner.
  3618. >You have an even easier time applying the conditioner.
  3619. >You repeat the same process of weaving and rubbing multiple times without any trouble.
  3620. >Afterwards, it's time to rinse again.
  3621. >You take care that the conditioner is washed out thoroughly, as the hot water steams up.
  3622. >Turning off the faucet, you move on to ringing her hair out.
  3623. >You use the same technique as before, turning her hair into a long ponytail.
  3624. >And with one hand holding it in place, you use the other to squeeze out water along the entirety of it.
  3625. >As expected, it's not near the amount of water that fell out of Adagio's hair.
  3626. >Done with the sink, you raise her up off it.
  3627. >Now comes a moment you've been waiting for, as you quickly throw a huge towel over her, covering even her face, and start rubbing her down.
  3628. "Towel hugs!"
  3629. >Oddly, she does nothing.
  3630. >No shouting or protesting.
  3631. >She just sighs loudly.
  3632. >You pull the towel off her enough to see her face.
  3633. "Peekaboo."
  3634. >"Hilarious."
  3635. >She says deadpanned.
  3636. "I thought it was cute."
  3637. >You sulk, continuing to dry her hair with the towel.
  3638. >Once you've rubbed her down well enough, you take your hair dryer in hand and turn it on.
  3639. >You have to be extra careful here.
  3640. >Since this hair isn't as dense, it'll dry much faster.
  3641. >And while you're confident in your skills to not burn any hair, over drying is almost as bad.
  3642. >So you take your time, slowly weaving your hands with the dryer, but kept back to a safe distance.
  3643. >When her hair feels dry to the touch, you put down the dryer and pick up the same comb you used before, and begin to brush.
  3644. >She crosses her legs, and proceeds to cross her hands over one another on top of her knee, acting like a princess being preened.
  3645. >She surprisingly looks really cute like this.
  3646. >If you didn't know any better, you'd say she was a sweet girl.
  3647. >And now that her hair is dry, you can see a difference in it.
  3648. >Before, her hair didn't feel as pampered as Adagio's did, but with such a high quality shampoo and conditioner, it now feels as good as it looks.
  3649. >And it looks fantastic.
  3650. >It's at least on par with Adagio's.
  3651. >This violet purple, with peppermint green streaks.
  3652. >So eye catching.
  3653. >It was as if she was born to attract attention.
  3654. >That did seem to be something Aria desired, but couldn't get without the help of Sonata and Adagio.
  3655. >Thinking of this, while feeling and touching such pretty hair, you can't help but speak up about it.
  3656. "Your hair is beautiful, Aria."
  3657. >"Don't make fun of me, Anon!"
  3658. >She snaps, mistakenly offended.
  3659. "I'm not making fun!"
  3660. >You say sternly.
  3661. >She seems surprised, and her posture changes.
  3662. "I meant what I said about how you could do so much more with it. You're pretty, so you can pull off any style you want."
  3663. >She blushes and looks down.
  3664. >"W-well fine then! I already told you to do whatever you want! So go ahead!"
  3665. >She crosses her arms.
  3666. "Good. Tell your friends they can come pick you up soon."
  3667. >She takes out her phone and sends a text message.
  3668. >You start brushing down the middle of her hair, intent on straightening out that split.
  3669. >You brush with care and determination, and once again, the hair you hold in your hand turns to shining silk.
  3670. >You use some hair spray on her bangs, to make sure they stay in place.
  3671. >You put down the brush and run your hands through it a few more times to inspect it.
  3672. "Yes... yes, we're done."
  3673. >"How do I look?"
  3674. "Come see for yourself."
  3675. >You lead her to the bathroom mirror, and just as before, the first reaction is a gasp with wide eyes.
  3676. >She touches her hair, while looking at it from different angles.
  3677. "What do you think?"
  3678. >"Anon... I... I didn't think it would look this good."
  3679. "I told you. I'm glad you're happ-"
  3680. >Suddenly, Aria hugs you tightly.
  3681. >You're a bit shocked, especially since it's Aria, but you're getting used to girls hugging you by now.
  3682. >"Thanks, Anon."
  3683. >You hug her back.
  3684. "You're welcome."
  3685. >Still keeping you in the hug, she's silent for a moment, before continuing.
  3686. >"I know I can be a real jerk sometimes... that's just me, ya know? But don't think that means I'm not grateful for everything you've done."
  3687. "I know."
  3688. >You reply softly.
  3689. >Another moment of silence, but it's broken by the sound of a car horn.
  3690. >Aria pulls away.
  3691. >"That's my ride!"
  3692. >She runs over to the front door and opens it, revealing a suv full of rowdy girls parked at the curb of the house.
  3693. >You can make out some of them.
  3694. "Is that... Rainbow Dash and Gilda?"
  3695. >"Yeah, we hang out sometimes."
  3696. "Well... that's good! Have fun."
  3697. >"I will. Thanks again, Anon."
  3698. >She smiles sincerely, and runs out to the truck.
  3699. >The girls have the windows down, and start shouting at her as she approaches.
  3700. >"Hey, hey! Who's this sexy girl?! I thought we were picking up Aria?!"
  3701. >"Where you goin' lookin' all hot like that?!"
  3702. >They tease as she jumps in.
  3703. >The suv promptly speeds away.
  3704. >You smile as you close the door.
  3705. >With that done, you immediately return to the laundry room and clean up.
  3706. >You don't want to make the same mistake as before.
  3707. >This time, there won't be any evidence of 'Salon Mous.'
  3708.  
  3709. >Later that evening, you're in the kitchen.
  3710. >For the first time in a while, you've got the house to yourself.
  3711. >So you decided to take this opportunity to bake a cake without any distractions.
  3712. >Putting together a cake was one of your favorite things to do.
  3713. >And while you liked having the girls over, they had gotten into the habit of hanging out in the kitchen every time you cooked.
  3714. >Teaching Sonata to cook was one thing, but Aria drooling over your shoulder was another.
  3715. >You smile to yourself, thinking about how surprised they'll be when they come back, as you place two pans full of batter into the oven.
  3716. >With the cake now baking, you move on to making the icing.
  3717. >Once that's done, you take a few minutes to sit down and enjoy a glass of ice tea.
  3718. >The aroma of the cake has now filled the house.
  3719. >You breathe in the sweet smell, and memories of your sister flood into your mind.
  3720. >You close your eyes, and you're taken back to a moment where everything is much bigger than you.
  3721. >You have to look up most of the time, especially to see your sister's face.
  3722. >She stands on a step, allowing her to reach the kitchen counter, mixing up batter in a bowl with a whisk.
  3723. >She looks back at you with a bright smile, her face and hands covered with flour and specks of batter.
  3724. >"See, bro? This is how a master chef bakes a cake!"
  3725. >The memory gets fuzzy, and you open your eyes.
  3726. >You wonder what she's doing right now.
  3727. >Maybe you will make a call today and-
  3728. >"We're baaack!"
  3729. >You're broken out of your thoughts by Sonata happily announcing her and Adagio's return.
  3730. >Looks like you'll have to put that call on hold.
  3731. >You walk into the living room from the kitchen with a smile, but it's replaced with shock upon seeing them.
  3732. "Did you guys have fun at the-! What's with all those bags?!"
  3733. >They're both carrying multiple, heavy shopping bags on each of their arms.
  3734. >"Look at all the things we-IS THAT CAKE I SMELL?!"
  3735. >Sonata suddenly stiffens up as her eyes go wide, sniffing the air like some kind of wild animal.
  3736. >You hold up your hand and wave it to gain her attention back.
  3737. "Focus! What happened to the light shopping trip?!"
  3738. >"That was the plan, but-"
  3739. >Adagio begins.
  3740. >"But then we ran into Rarity at the mall!"
  3741. >Sonata finishes as she puts down her bags and closes the front door.
  3742. "Oh god, I should've known."
  3743. >You facepalm.
  3744. "Let me guess, there was a big sale going on?"
  3745. >"Big?! Try HUGE!"
  3746. >She throws her hands up wide into the air.
  3747. >"And Rarity knew all the best deals, all the staff, in all of the departments! We were catered to by the whole mall, like we were shopping with a celebrity! Isn't that amazing?!"
  3748. "No, that's just Rarity."
  3749. >You reply not surprised.
  3750. "Look, I'm glad you two had fun, but can you really afford all of this?"
  3751. >"There's nothing to worry about!"
  3752. >Sonata assures.
  3753. "And whys that?"
  3754. >"Well, we did pay for it, but-"
  3755. >Adagio begins.
  3756. >"Rarity put everything under her rewards card! So we got discounts on top of discounts, and THAT made us eligible for even more discounts! ...Whatever that means."
  3757. >Sonata finishes.
  3758. >"It means everything was real cheap."
  3759. >Adagio says as she takes her bags to her room.
  3760. >"Ooo, check this out, Anon!"
  3761. >Sonata pulls various things from a few of the bags.
  3762. >She lays them all out on the couch to form what is obviously...
  3763. "An outfit?"
  3764. >"Yep! Rarity put it together for me! Doesn't it look awesome?"
  3765. >You look it over again, imagining it on Sonata.
  3766. >It's three pieces.
  3767. >A black, pleated skirt with white trimming.
  3768. >A black, long sleeved shirt with a white oversized collar and cuffs.
  3769. >And a brand new pair of black and white knee top sneakers, the kind that Sonata loves to wear.
  3770. >There's also a few accessories, like silver bracelets, charms, and even a necklace.
  3771. >It was a high quality, preppy style outfit.
  3772. >The kind that screamed Rarity's own fashion sense.
  3773. >And since Sonata usually wore bright, colorful things, this would definitely be a bold contrast for her.
  3774. "Yeah, this is pretty good. It'll look great on you. That Rarity... she knows what she's doing."
  3775. >"She wants me to wear it to school this friday, so I can show it off on the start of the weekend. I can't wait!"
  3776. >She beams at the outfit, then takes a look around.
  3777. >"Hey, where's Aria? I want her to see it too."
  3778. "She's out with some friends. I have no idea when she'll be back."
  3779. >"She is? She didn't say anything about it to me. Why would she pick that over going shopping with us?"
  3780. >She frowns.
  3781. "I dunno, maybe it was a spur of the moment kinda thing?"
  3782. >"I guess."
  3783. >She replies disappointed as she packs the outfit back up.
  3784. >You feel bad, outright lying to her like this, but...
  3785. >Aria agreed to keep the secret, so everything should be okay.
  3786. >"So, um... about that cake-"
  3787. "Not until Aria gets back."
  3788. >"Aww!"
  3789.  
  3790. >An hour or so later, the three of you are sitting on the couch watching tv.
  3791. >And of all things, you're watching the Care Bears.
  3792. >Sonata seemed to have some kind of interest in them.
  3793. "You like this show, Sonata?"
  3794. >"Not really, me and Diane have just been trying to figure this out."
  3795. "Figure what out?"
  3796. >"Like... who are these Care Bears? Why do they 'care?' It seems to us they don't care enough."
  3797. >She rubs her chin thoughtfully.
  3798. "Of course they do. Their home is literally named Care-a-Lot."
  3799. >"Oh really? Then maybe the problem is that they care... TOO much."
  3800. >She narrows her eyes.
  3801. >You raise an eyebrow, while Adagio pinches the bridge of her nose.
  3802. >"Change the fucking channel already."
  3803. >It's at this moment that Aria walks through the door.
  3804. >She looks back outside and waves before closing it with a smile.
  3805. >You hear a car take off down the street as she does.
  3806. >"Okay, I smell cake. Give it to me. Now."
  3807. >She demands, walking over to the couch.
  3808. >"Wait, what are you watching? Are those... teddy bears? They look so... cute and happy."
  3809. >Now Aria is interested?
  3810. >"Good timing! Come watch this with us. See if you can help us spot the hidden motives in-!"
  3811. >Sonata does a double take as she looks away from the tv, to Aria.
  3812. >"Aria, your hair!"
  3813. >She jumps off the couch and runs over to her excitedly.
  3814. >"It looks and feels just like Adagio's did!"
  3815. >She gasps as she touches Aria's hair.
  3816. >"Yeah, my friends took me to an awesome salon."
  3817. >Aria says with a proud smile.
  3818. >"Oh, well, that makes sense."
  3819. >Looks like Sonata buys it.
  3820. >"Is that so?"
  3821. >Still sitting on the couch, you look over to see Adagio now standing up, and glaring at Aria.
  3822. >It seems she isn't as easily convinced.
  3823. >Whoa.
  3824. >Deja vu?
  3825. >Aria loses her smile.
  3826. >"That's right, I treated myself. Isn't that okay? Or are you the only one who should get pampered?"
  3827. >She seems irritated now.
  3828. >What is this?
  3829. >Whatever's going on, it's not good.
  3830. >You stand up.
  3831. "Now, now, let's all calm down. Of course it's okay to do something for yourself. The girls went shopping, you went to the salon. It all evens out-!"
  3832. >Adagio walks over to Aria and takes a handful of her hair.
  3833. >She rubs it between her fingers with suspicion, until her face turns to one of surprise.
  3834. >She lets go of the hair in silence, and slowly looks up to stare at you with a piercing gaze.
  3835. >"...You washed her hair... didn't you?"
  3836. >Something about the way she's looking at you, and the tone of her voice, is really unnerving.
  3837. >Even Aria now seems unsettled, while Sonata is quietly confused.
  3838. "...I, uh... don't know what you're talking-!"
  3839. >Adagio suddenly runs up to you and grabs you by the collar roughly.
  3840. >"Didn't you?!"
  3841. >She shouts.
  3842. "Adagio! What's gotten into you?!"
  3843. >"Why did you wash her hair?!"
  3844. >It's not that she's angry with you.
  3845. >It's not that she's shouting at you.
  3846. >It's not even that she's being a bit violent with you.
  3847. >You've been through all this before.
  3848. >What's really getting you, and the girls, is that Adagio seems genuinely hurt.
  3849. >Her eyes are watering up right in front of you.
  3850. >"WHY?!"
  3851. >She shakes you.
  3852. >You're at a loss for words.
  3853. "I... I don't..."
  3854. >"I forced him to wash my hair!"
  3855. >Aria admits.
  3856. >Without letting go of you, Adagio looks behind her to Aria.
  3857. >"You what?!"
  3858. >"I blackmailed him, okay?! I found out that he washed your hair, and threatened to tell everyone about it if he didn't wash mine."
  3859. >Adagio stays still for a moment, before turning back to you.
  3860. >"Is that true?!"
  3861. >This situation can't get any worse.
  3862. >Might as well...
  3863. "Yeah. She had it all figured out, so I had no choice."
  3864. >You say sincerely.
  3865. >She stares into your eyes for a moment.
  3866. >The anger on her face fades, as her grip on you loosens, and she lets go.
  3867. >Without saying anything, she walks around you, out of the living room, and into her bedroom.
  3868. >You and the girls are left trying to understand what just happened.
  3869. >"...Huh, I'll be damned."
  3870. >Aria takes a seat on one of the living room chairs.
  3871. >She must've figured something out.
  3872. "What is it?"
  3873. >She shakes her head.
  3874. >"I'll tell you later."
  3875. >Alrighty.
  3876. >Then maybe you should go check on Adagio?
  3877. >Or would it be better to give her some space?
  3878. >"Um..."
  3879. >Sonata quietly speaks up.
  3880. >"Anon..."
  3881. >She's fidgeting.
  3882. >Oh no.
  3883. >You can guess where this is going.
  3884. >"You... you washed Adagio and Aria's hair?"
  3885. "Yeah, I did."
  3886. >"So... how come you don't want to wash mine? Is there something wrong with my hair, and you don't want to touch it?"
  3887. >She asks sadly, now looking down.
  3888. "Of course not, Sonata!"
  3889. >You say firmly, walking over to her.
  3890. >She looks back up at you with watered eyes.
  3891. >"Why then?"
  3892. >You sigh.
  3893. "...It's complicated."
  3894. >"You won't wash my hair? Even if I ask you now?"
  3895. "I don't think it's okay for me to wash anyones hair anymore. I'm sorry, Sonata."
  3896. >You frown.
  3897. >She looks down again.
  3898. >"Go ahead, it's fine."
  3899. >The three of you look to Adagio, as she walks back over to you, now holding one of the smaller shopping bags from earlier.
  3900. "What's fine?"
  3901. >"To wash her hair."
  3902. >She's... calmed down?
  3903. >You raise a cautious eyebrow.
  3904. "Are you sure you're okay with that?"
  3905. >"You've already washed two out of three, might as well finish the set."
  3906. >She says with a passive tone.
  3907. >Sonata smiles brightly, and grabs onto your arm.
  3908. >"Will you, Anon?! Please?!"
  3909. "I guess it's alright now."
  3910. >"You can even use this."
  3911. >Adagio reaches into the bag, and pulls out a bottle of the exact same shampoo you used on her before.
  3912. >You take hold of it in surprise.
  3913. "You bought this yourself? Why?"
  3914. >"Because I... liked the way it worked for me. So I wanted to use it again."
  3915. >She answers looking away from you.
  3916. >Sonata takes the bottle out of your hand and finds the price tag.
  3917. >Ever a real life cartoon, her eyes nearly pop out of her head.
  3918. >"Wowzers! This stuff costs thirty dollars?!"
  3919. "That's the price you pay for high quality, inspector."
  3920. >"...But, is it worth it? Why not just use something from the dollar store?"
  3921. >"NO!"
  3922. >You, Adagio and Aria all yell in unison, causing Sonata to jump a bit.
  3923. >"Well exxcccuuussse me, princess!"
  3924. >Sonata says rolling her eyes.
  3925. >You all quietly stare at her for a moment, until she nudges you with her elbow.
  3926. >"That was a Legend of Zelda reference."
  3927. >She informs with a smug smile.
  3928. "I know."
  3929. >You reply deadpanned.
  3930. >"I've been playing those games from your collection lately."
  3931. "I know."
  3932. >you reply with a slight smile.
  3933. >"They're super-fun-awesome."
  3934. "I know."
  3935. >You reply with a smile.
  3936. >"I wanna play them with you tomorrow."
  3937. "I know."
  3938. >You reply with a big smile.
  3939. >"Why did we start whispering halfway through this?"
  3940. "I... don't know."
  3941. >You reply confused.
  3942. >Adagio gets between you, and pushes the two of you apart.
  3943. >"You done now?! Have that bit of stupidity all wrapped up?!"
  3944. >You clear your throat.
  3945. "Anyways, yeah, this stuff is worth it."
  3946. >"Try it, you blue dork. Then you'll understand."
  3947. >Aria insists with a knowing smile.
  3948. >Sonata looks at the bottle thoughtfully for a moment, before holding it up to Adagio.
  3949. >"Is it really okay for me to use this? You did buy it for yourself."
  3950. >"Uggh! Don't make me say it again, Sonata!"
  3951. >Adagio shouts as she pushes the bottle away.
  3952. >Sonata smiles, her cheeks slightly blushing.
  3953. >She grabs Adagio into a tight hug.
  3954. >"Thanks, Adagio!"
  3955. >Adagio throws Sonata off her.
  3956. >"I've had enough! I'm getting ready for bed."
  3957. >She stomps off, while Aria snickers.
  3958.  
  3959. >Later, everyone is in their pajamas, sleeping in bed.
  3960. >Everyone, except you.
  3961. >You're in the kitchen with the lights on softly.
  3962. >You're having some trouble sleeping.
  3963. >Too much is on your mind.
  3964. >So, you decided you might as well have some tea with the first slice of the cake you baked.
  3965. >After Adagio's outburst, no one felt like eating anymore.
  3966. >But hey, that was then, this is now.
  3967. >You pour yourself a cup out of the kettle, and add some milk and sugar to it.
  3968. >After placing a piece of the cake onto a plate, you take a bite, followed by a sip of the tea.
  3969. >Good stuff.
  3970. >It seems you've made too much noise, as a curious, yet sleepy, Sonata walks into the kitchen.
  3971. >"What'cha doin', Anon?"
  3972. >She asks while yawning and rubbing her eye.
  3973. "Having some tea and cake. Want some?"
  3974. >She nods happily.
  3975. >"Yes please!"
  3976. >You set her up with her own plate and cup, while she sits at the table.
  3977. >As soon as you place the cake in front of her, she takes a bite.
  3978. >Her reaction is to close her eyes, squeal with delight, and shimmy and shake in her seat with a smile.
  3979. >"This is soooo yummy! I can't take it!"
  3980. >"I'll have what she's having."
  3981. >You both look over to see Aria standing in the kitchen doorway, holding Teddy.
  3982. >"Weren't you sleeping?"
  3983. >"Half sleeping. You left the door open, so I heard everything."
  3984. >She grumpily sits down next to Sonata.
  3985. >"Oops, my bad."
  3986. "Sorry about that."
  3987. >"All is forgiven if you give me an extra big slice of that cake."
  3988. "Seems fair."
  3989. >Another cup.
  3990. >Another plate.
  3991. >You place them in front of Aria, who sits Teddy down in the seat next to her.
  3992. "You could've left him in bed, y'know?"
  3993. >"He doesn't like being alone at night!"
  3994. >She says with a serious tone and face.
  3995. >She takes her first bite of the cake.
  3996. >"Oh goddammit."
  3997. >She facepalms.
  3998. >"What is it?"
  3999. "Something wrong?"
  4000. >You and Sonata ask concerned.
  4001. >Aria sighs deeply.
  4002. >"...It's too late at night to get turned on like this."
  4003. >You roll your eyes, while Sonata giggles.
  4004. >You resume with your own plate and cup across from them.
  4005. >For a few moments, you all sit in silence as you eat your late night treats.
  4006. >But more than the sweets, you take satisfaction in seeing the girls enjoy your baking.
  4007. >You wish you could invite Adagio to sit at the table as well, but she's probably sleeping.
  4008. >You'll have to settle for sharing some with her tomorrow.
  4009. >After eating almost half her slice, Aria speaks up with a question.
  4010. >"So, Anon, have you figured out what that scene Adagio put on tonight was about?"
  4011. >You shake your head.
  4012. "I've got nothing. I've never seen her like that before."
  4013. >Aria chuckles with a mocking grin.
  4014. >"You're still in the dark, huh?"
  4015. "You have the answer then?"
  4016. >She takes another bite of cake.
  4017. >"Mmm-hmm."
  4018. >She hums out.
  4019. "Well...?"
  4020. >Still keeping that grin, it looks as if she's about to speak again, but instead, she elects to drink some of her tea.
  4021. >Fuck.
  4022. >She's having too much fun with this.
  4023. >You give her an annoyed look.
  4024. "Aria."
  4025. >"Sorry, I get lost easily in your delicious cooking."
  4026. >She apologizes with a naughty look and tone.
  4027. >You're unimpressed, while Sonata giggles again.
  4028. >Aria puts her cup down.
  4029. >"She was jealous."
  4030. "Of what?"
  4031. >"You washing another girl's hair, of course."
  4032. "Why would she be jealous over something like that?"
  4033. >"She probably felt that the hair treatment she got from you was special."
  4034. >You give her a skeptical look.
  4035. "I don't see how something you can have done at a salon could be so important to her."
  4036. >"You gotta understand, she doesn't let just anyone touch her hair, never mind wash it. To let you do it, that means something."
  4037. "And that something is?"
  4038. >Her grin fades away, and is replaced by a more serious look.
  4039. >"She's fallen for you, Anon."
  4040. "...You really think so?"
  4041. >She nods.
  4042. >"I know so. I just didn't realize it until I saw how she was acting earlier. But, she probably doesn't know it herself yet. She definitely hasn't come to terms with it, at least."
  4043. >You look down blankly for a moment.
  4044. >...
  4045. >"Cut the crap, Anon."
  4046. >You look back up in surprise.
  4047. >"You already knew all of this, you're just playing dumb, aren't you?"
  4048. >You hesitate for a moment, before you allow a small smile to grow.
  4049. "Yeah, you got me. I mean, I've been hoping there was a chance she could feel that way, but I guess hearing it from you means it's true."
  4050. >Aria doesn't respond right away.
  4051. >Instead, she lightly taps her fork on her plate repeatedly, her slice now completely gone.
  4052. >She cups her chin in her free hand, her elbow on the table, as she looks down at the empty dish with a slight frown.
  4053. >"...All this time, I thought there was just some sexual tension between you two. I thought the whole 'sleeping in the same bed' thing was just fooling around. But... she's in love with you. And, for some out of your mind reason, you're in love with her."
  4054. >Her voice is quiet and sullen.
  4055. "...I am."
  4056. >You admit.
  4057. >Sonata, who hasn't contributed anything to this conversation yet, gets a smile upon hearing this.
  4058. >While Aria, on the other hand, deepens her frown, before letting it go with a sigh, and leaning back into her chair with crossed arms.
  4059. >"And you haven't made a move yet, because...?"
  4060. "I didn't want to upset her so much that I'd push her away. So I've been happy with teasing her."
  4061. >"You don't have to be afraid, you wuss! Dude, if you don't make the first move, you'll never get anywhere with her."
  4062. "But you know what dealing with her is like, it's not that easy."
  4063. >"Look, give her some time to get over tonight, and once things have calmed down again, tell her how you feel. She'll act repulsed at first, but if you stick with it, I'm sure she'll give in."
  4064. >"Be brave, Anon!"
  4065. >Sonata cheers with a mouthful of cake.
  4066. "Sonata, aren't you surprised by any of this?"
  4067. >Her eyes dart between you and Aria with confusion.
  4068. >"Ummm... no? It was totally obvious she had feelings for you since the day you came to the apartment."
  4069. >She replies casually, as if it were common knowledge.
  4070. "That far back?"
  4071. >You ask with a bit of shock.
  4072. >"Like, duh. Adagio never acts that way around anyone. You're special, Anon."
  4073. >"Yeah, in a 'special ed' kind of way. I never thought anyone would want to be with Adagio. Not of their own free will anyways."
  4074. "I guess it's true, to someone watching from the outside, it looks weird and doesn't make sense."
  4075. >"Don't worry about that, Anon! If you and Dagi can be happy together, that's all that matters!"
  4076. >Sonata tells you cheerfully.
  4077. >"Uuggh. I can't handle such sappy shit right now."
  4078. >Aria complains.
  4079. "Okay, you're cranky. I think it's time for you to get to sleep."
  4080. >She rubs her face.
  4081. >"I think you're right."
  4082. >You all stand up from the table.
  4083. >Sonata holds out her plate with a smile.
  4084. >"Another slice!"
  4085. "No, that's enough for tonight. You can have more tomorrow."
  4086. >"Awww!"
  4087. >She frowns.
  4088. "Go on, into bed now."
  4089. >You shoo her off.
  4090. >Aria takes hold of Teddy again before leaving.
  4091. >As you pick up the plates and cups, Sonata comes back into the kitchen.
  4092. >"Hey, Anon?"
  4093. "Yeah?"
  4094. >"I've decided when I want my hair washed."
  4095. "Oh?"
  4096. >"This friday, before school."
  4097. "Before school?"
  4098. >"Yeah, that way, I can look super good in my new outfit. Please, Anon?"
  4099. >That wouldn't be easy to pull off.
  4100. >Especially since...
  4101. "You'd have to be ready ahead of time. And you'd have to get up way early."
  4102. >"I will be! And I can! Promise!"
  4103. >She has a determined look.
  4104. >You smile.
  4105. "Alright then, friday morning it is."
  4106. >"Yessss."
  4107. >She rejoices quietly, before running back to her room.
  4108.  
  4109. >After doing the dishes, there's nothing left but to get in bed yourself.
  4110. >But even after all that, you're still wide awake.
  4111. >No, it's worse now.
  4112. >All you can think about is Adagio.
  4113. >Can you really talk to her about how you feel?
  4114. >Would she be willing to listen?
  4115. >At this rate, you're not going to get any sleep.
  4116.  
  4117. >You are Adagio.
  4118. >You're sitting up in bed, watching tv, because you're having a hard time falling asleep, of course.
  4119. >And it's completely that green bastard's fault.
  4120. >What the hell was he thinking, letting Aria find out.
  4121. >You don't know why, but the idea of Anon WANTING to wash someone else's hair really bothers you.
  4122. >More than that, it fucking pisses you off like nothing else.
  4123. >And you felt so relieved when you found out that he didn't actually want to do it.
  4124. >What the fuck?!
  4125. >Why do you care?!
  4126. >Why does something so stupid upset you so much?!
  4127. >You have to get past this somehow.
  4128. >Being this bent out of shape over him isn't worth it.
  4129. >Speak of the vegetable, here he is, opening the bedroom door right now.
  4130. >He's surprised to see you, his face making a priceless expression.
  4131. >But your eyes meeting here and now doesn't shock you at all.
  4132. >There's a good reason for that.
  4133. >With a slight smile, he returns the door to it's closed state, and walks over to the foot of the bed to address you.
  4134. >"I see you're in my bed again."
  4135. "I'm only here for the mattress, not you, Asparagus."
  4136. >You coldly reply.
  4137. >He walks around to the opposite side of the bed, gets under the sheets, and sits himself up the same as you.
  4138. >"Even after I told you how all three beds are the same?"
  4139. "I'm not falling for that bullshit. I know for a fact this bed is better."
  4140. >"And you weren't waiting up for me?"
  4141. "Dream on. I was watching this late night show, but now that it's over, I'm going to sleep."
  4142. >You push the mute button on the remote, and lay down on your side, facing away from him.
  4143. >Right away, he picks up the remote, and turns on closed captions.
  4144. "What are you doing?"
  4145. >"I don't feel like going to sleep yet. Don't worry, I'll leave the volume off."
  4146. "Fine, just don't bother me."
  4147. >"You got it."
  4148. >With that, you begin the arduous task of ignoring Anon.
  4149. >This time, you were determined to stick to your side, and your side only.
  4150. >You wouldn't get involved with Anon, and you'd get a good night's sleep.
  4151. >And you succeed in your plan.
  4152. >...For about eight minutes.
  4153. "Anon?"
  4154. >Your curiosity is getting the best of you.
  4155. >He's right next to you, and there's a question you want answered more than ever.
  4156. >"Yeah?"
  4157. "...How did you get so good at handling hair?"
  4158. >You ask while you partially turn back over to him.
  4159. >"Hmm..."
  4160. >He thinks about it for a few seconds, before putting on a smug grin.
  4161. >"Wouldn't you like to know."
  4162. >You turn back over with a huff.
  4163. "Asshole."
  4164. >You have newfound resolve in sticking to your plan now.
  4165. >Screw him.
  4166.  
  4167. >It's been an hour.
  4168. >A whole fucking hour.
  4169. >And you're nowhere near falling asleep.
  4170. >You've been tossing and turning.
  4171. >Being here is making no difference.
  4172. >You might as well be in your own bed right now.
  4173. >Meanwhile, Anon is still wide awake, watching tv.
  4174. >What's his problem?
  4175. >Whatever.
  4176. >At least he's leaving you alone.
  4177. >"You're not sleeping."
  4178. >Scratch that.
  4179. >You open your eyes and lay on your back.
  4180. "And you're not helping."
  4181. >You reply annoyed.
  4182. >Seemingly taking that as a cue, he lays himself down, facing you, and opens his arms up.
  4183. >"Come here."
  4184. >He invites with a smile.
  4185. "What?"
  4186. >"Come here!"
  4187. >He takes hold of you, and your reaction is to bat his hands away.
  4188. "Wait! No! What do you think you're doing?!"
  4189. >"Trying to help you."
  4190. >He persists, and pulls you over to the middle of the bed.
  4191. >He's now holding you to him from behind, your back tightly against his chest, exactly as this morning.
  4192. >"Let go of me! I don't want to be held by you!"
  4193. >You shout, as you try to push yourself away from him.
  4194. >"What about yesterday?"
  4195. "That was a one time thing! A mistake! Now let. Me. GO!"
  4196. >"Ten minutes."
  4197. "Huh?"
  4198. >"Give me ten minutes like this. If you don't fall asleep, I'll go get in your bed and let you have this one all to yourself."
  4199. >That's not a bad deal.
  4200. >You can easily stay up and win this bed.
  4201. >That'll get Anon off your back.
  4202. >"And to sweeten the deal, I'll even answer your question from earlier."
  4203. >Okay, now we're talking.
  4204. >You let go of all the tension in your body, and allow yourself to relax in his arms.
  4205. "You've got ten minutes, but no more."
  4206. >"Understood."
  4207. >You can't see it, but you know he's smiling right now.
  4208. "...Well, go ahead, tell me."
  4209. >"There's not much to tell, honestly. It's all thanks to my sister. Or you can say it's all her fault, depending on how you want to look at it."
  4210. >You raise your eyebrow.
  4211. "Your sister?"
  4212. >"Back when I was kid, learning to cook, I wasn't allowed in the kitchen unsupervised. So I made a deal with my sister to have her teach me. But in exchange, I had to brush and style her hair almost everyday."
  4213. "Seriously? Why would she have you do something like that for her?"
  4214. >"She's always had long hair, even back then. Having me take care of it helped her out a lot. But maybe more than that, I think it was a way for us to bond..."
  4215. >His tone and way of speaking give you a sense of nostalgia.
  4216. >You can hear how much he cares about his sister in his voice.
  4217. >"But yeah, over the years of brushing and styling her hair all kinds of different ways, it became easy for me."
  4218. "Did you wash her hair too?"
  4219. >"Nah, she could do that much herself. You're the one who started this whole hair washing thing."
  4220. "You mean, I'm the first?"
  4221. >"You're the first."
  4222. "...Wait, you told me you've washed girls hair before."
  4223. >"Did I? Oh... uh... yeah, no, that was a lie-EAGHH!"
  4224. >Anon yelps in pain as you give him a sharp jab of your elbow from behind.
  4225. >"Wh-why did you-"
  4226. "For falsely reassuring me."
  4227. >You say that, but in truth, finding out that yours was the first hair he's ever washed makes you incredibly happy.
  4228. >The proof is the smile you have on that he, thankfully, can't see.
  4229. >Over the remaining time limit, he tells you about the various styles he's given to his sister.
  4230. >Each one more intricate sounding than the last.
  4231. >"-That's when she finally trusted me enough to let me use her curling iron. And man, that thing is something else. Crazy expensive. I can show it to you tomorrow, if you want? ...Adagio?"
  4232. >He doesn't get a response from you.
  4233. >Even though the time limit is well past, and you can officially kick him out of the bed, you do nothing.
  4234. >That's because, with every passing second, you're losing consciousness.
  4235. >You're still aware enough to realize what's going on.
  4236. >But you can't move at all.
  4237. >Even speaking is a struggle.
  4238. >You couldn't help it.
  4239. >The feeling of his heartbeat, his breathing, and the vibrations of his voice, are all conveyed through your back, and echoed into your own chest.
  4240. >The sound of his voice alone was enough to put you at ease.
  4241. >It's all too comforting.
  4242. >And now you understand.
  4243. >This was his plan from the start.
  4244. >He used your frustration and curiosity against you.
  4245. >Fuck.
  4246. >With all the strength you have left, you mumble out what will be your last words of the night.
  4247. "Thiss izn't..."
  4248. >Anon draws in closer, leaning over you slightly, to try and hear you better.
  4249. >"This isn't what?"
  4250. "Tiss izn't... fairr... yuu trckkd mee..."
  4251. >He chuckles, and lays his head back down.
  4252. >"Goodnight, Adagio."
  4253. >He says softly.
  4254. "Mmmhh..."
  4255. >You barely groan.
  4256. >For the third time, you fall asleep in Anon's warm embrace.
  4257.  
  4258.  
  4259. >You are Anon.
  4260. >It's the morning.
  4261. >And the first thought that comes to your mind is how you'll get to have fun teasing Adagio.
  4262. >But as you open your eyes, you can clearly see that she's...
  4263. >Gone.
  4264. >You sit up and look around.
  4265. >The bedroom door is closed, and no one is in the bathroom.
  4266. >Damn it.
  4267. >She must have been able to sneak off without waking you this time.
  4268. >Clever girl.
  4269.  
  4270.  
  4271.  >Friday, early morning.
  4272. >"A--n..."
  4273. >You feel yourself being shaken.
  4274. >"A-on! Anon, wake up!"
  4275. >You open your eyes to see an excited Sonata standing above you beside your bed.
  4276. "Oh god... is it time already?"
  4277. >"Yep! It's six o'clock."
  4278. >You look over to your alarm, and confirm with blurry vision.
  4279. >You let out a heavy sigh as you rub your face.
  4280. >This is way too early.
  4281. >You look at Sonata, who's still in her pjs.
  4282. "Have you washed up?"
  4283. >"Uh-huh!"
  4284. >She nods.
  4285. "Okay, go put on your outfit. But before that, put on a pot of coffee for me."
  4286. >You were never too dependent on coffee, but today you were going to need it.
  4287. >"Aye aye, Captain!"
  4288. >She salutes with a smile, then runs out of the room.
  4289. >You wish you knew where she gets all that energy from.
  4290.  
  4291. >After washing up and downing a mug of coffee, you're in the laundry room once again.
  4292. >You made the preparations last night, so everything was laid out and taken care of.
  4293. >The only thing missing now was...
  4294. >"I'm ready!"
  4295. >Sonata walks in wearing her outfit, sans the accessories.
  4296. >"How does it look on me?"
  4297. >She does a little spin in place.
  4298. "Great. You could go to school just like this, and you'd still get compliments all day long."
  4299. >"Aw thanks, Anon."
  4300. >She smiles, then suddenly gets a serious look.
  4301. >"But we're still doing this."
  4302. >You raise up your hands.
  4303. "I know, I know."
  4304. >You sigh.
  4305. "Salon Mous is open once again. So please, miss..."
  4306. >You motion to the stool.
  4307. "Have a seat."
  4308. >She happily sits down.
  4309. >You begin by fluffing up her hair and running your hands through it.
  4310. >Just as you thought, Sonata's hair will be the easiest to deal with out of the three.
  4311. >It made sense, since all she ever does is tie it up in a pony tail.
  4312. "So, what kind of style do you want?"
  4313. >"I want the same thing Adagio and Aria had."
  4314. "Isn't that too simple? Don't you want something more dramatic?"
  4315. >She takes a moment to reply.
  4316. >"No, I..."
  4317. >She hesitates, and her voice is quiet.
  4318. >"...I wanna see what I'd look like... compared to them."
  4319. >She says looking down.
  4320. >That just told you a lot more than she intended.
  4321. >Now that you understand what this is really about, it makes you want to do more for her than what you did for Aria and... even Adagio.
  4322. >Good thing you brought almost all of your hair products this time.
  4323. >With a soft towel on the lip of the sink, you guide Sonata's neck onto it.
  4324. >You take your position behind the sink, and pull all her hair in.
  4325. "Ready?"
  4326. >"Ready!"
  4327. >You turn on the water, and get it up to a temperature almost as hot as you had it before.
  4328. >You splash some onto her scalp with your hand.
  4329. "How's that? Do you want it hotter?"
  4330. >"Ssss... "
  4331. >She hisses as she squints her eyes and curls her lips.
  4332. >She seems like she's fighting with herself, until she shakes her head.
  4333. >"No, that's a little too hot for me. Can you turn it down?"
  4334. "You got it."
  4335. >You turn down the hot water, bringing it to more of a gentle warm.
  4336. >Should've guessed Sonata wouldn't be the type for steamy water.
  4337. "Better?"
  4338. >Her face relaxes, and she smiles.
  4339. >"Better."
  4340. >With that settled, you pull out the detachable faucet and soak her hair and scalp.
  4341. >She places her hands on her lap, and closes her eyes.
  4342. >Taking hold of the brand new bottle of shampoo, you pour some onto your hands, and begin to rub her hair.
  4343. >Once you get a nice buildup of suds going, you pour even more shampoo, and start working on her scalp.
  4344. >Everythings going well for a few moments, until...
  4345. >"He... he he... heh heh..."
  4346. >Sonata's smile keeps getting bigger.
  4347. >"Heh heh!"
  4348. "...Sonata?"
  4349. >"Hehehehaha! HAHAHA!"
  4350. "What's so funny?"
  4351. >"It... it tickles! It tickles t-too much! Hahaha!"
  4352. >She has her hands on her chest, as her lungs try to keep up with her laughter.
  4353. >"A-anon! Hahha! Y-you gotta stop! Hehahah!"
  4354. "This has to be done. Get a hold of yourself."
  4355. >You move onto the back of her head, ears, and neck, hoping it'll get better.
  4356. >"BWHAHAHA!"
  4357. >But it only gets worse.
  4358. >Sonata wraps her arms around her stomach, and tears start falling out of her eyes.
  4359. >She's now rolling from side to side of the stool, barely staying on it.
  4360. >"A-anon! P-please!"
  4361. "Stop squirming!"
  4362. >"I can't h-help-AHAHAHA!"
  4363. >Her head is moving all over the place, but you do your best to keep up with her, until you're satisfied her scalp is clean.
  4364. >Then you start weaving your hands through the rest of her hair.
  4365. >This allows Sonata to finally calm down, and start taking deep, long breaths.
  4366. >"Hhhooo... hoooooo."
  4367. >She places one hand on her chest, and uses the other to wipe her eyes.
  4368. >"Ooookay... that... that was kinda fun... but let's not do it again. I can't handle it."
  4369. >You say nothing.
  4370. >Once you've rubbed her hair enough, you rinse it.
  4371. >And that's when you slowly... and silently...
  4372. >"Anon?"
  4373. >Pick up the conditioner, pour it into your palms, and quickly attack again without warning!
  4374. >"Wha-NNOOHOHAHAHA! Not a-again!"
  4375. >She's trying to pull away this time.
  4376. "This part won't take as long, just give me one minute!"
  4377. >You hastily rub the conditioner in as fast as you can, and rinse it out.
  4378. >"N... no more..."
  4379. >You turn off the faucet.
  4380. "No more, we're done with that part."
  4381. >While Sonata gasps for air again, you pull all her hair into a ponytail, and wring it out with your hand.
  4382. >You step out from behind the sink, and lift her off it.
  4383. >Now, this is the part where you'd surprise her with 'towel hugs,' but that would be mean.
  4384. >She's been through enough already.
  4385. "I'm gonna rub your hair with a towel now."
  4386. >"Okay."
  4387. >You still get to lay the giant towel so that it covers her completely though, because it's crazy cute.
  4388. >She looks like a kid who put on a white sheet for halloween.
  4389. >"Um... Anon? It's kinda dark like this."
  4390. "Who said that? And where did Sonata go?"
  4391. >You playfully respond as you rub her down.
  4392. >"Anon! I'm right here, silly!"
  4393. >She giggles, shuffling around under the towel.
  4394. >You can't help but smile.
  4395. "A towel who claims to be Sonata? Who's the silly one here?"
  4396. >"Oh c'mon!"
  4397. >She giggles again.
  4398. >When you feel her hair isn't soaking wet anymore, you stand in front of her and lift off the towel just enough to...
  4399. "Peekaboo."
  4400. >Her face lights up with a smile, and she points at you excitedly.
  4401. >"Oh my gosh! I see you!"
  4402. >You both laugh.
  4403. >You take off the towel, but before you do anything else, you walk over to the stand and retrieve a large spray bottle.
  4404. "Close your eyes."
  4405. >She does as she's told.
  4406. >Held about a foot away from her, you spray the bottle's mist all over her hair, using your other hand to weave through it as you do.
  4407. >"What's this stuff?"
  4408. "Heat protection."
  4409. >"Like, from the sun?"
  4410. "Something even hotter."
  4411. >"What's hotter than the sun?"
  4412. "You'll see."
  4413. >You've sprayed enough to make her hair almost wet again, which is what you wanted.
  4414. >You pick up the comb, and begin to brush it.
  4415. >You're not only smoothing it out, you're also trying to distribute the spray even more.
  4416. >This is important, so you take your time in doing this.
  4417. >After a few minutes of silent brushing, Sonata speaks up.
  4418. >"Anon?"
  4419. "Yeah?"
  4420. >"Do you think I'm... pretty?"
  4421. "One of the prettiest girls I've ever seen."
  4422. >You reply immediately.
  4423. >"Really?"
  4424. "Of course! What would make you think otherwise?"
  4425. >"...It's just that..."
  4426. >She places her hands on her lap, and starts twiddling her fingers together nervously as she looks down.
  4427. >"I know this is wrong, but back when I was a bad girl, I had so much more confidence in myself. But now that we've lost our powers, I look around at all the other girls, and I can see how pretty they are."
  4428. >Her voice is a quiet mix of guilt and doubt.
  4429. >"Especially Adagio and Aria. Before, when we were a group, I thought we were the best together. Things are different now. I mean, we're still close, they'll always be my sisters... but we're not..."
  4430. "You're not 'the Dazzlings' anymore."
  4431. >She nods.
  4432. >"I feel like I'm on my own now, and compared to everyone else..."
  4433. >You've never heard her like this before, and you don't like it.
  4434. "Sonata-"
  4435. >"There's a group of girls I wanted to be friends with, because I wanna be friends with everyone. But they made fun of me. They said that I'm a hopeless ditz... an ugly idiot. Now everyone is talking about it behind my back. I try to act like it doesn't bother me, but I'm starting to... I'm starting..."
  4436. >She's hunching over, as her voice begins to crack.
  4437. >You put down the comb and kneel in front of her, placing a hand on her shoulder.
  4438. "Sonata!"
  4439. >She's surprised, and jolts back a bit, lifting her head up.
  4440. >You can see she's on the verge of tears.
  4441. "You are EXACTLY who you should be."
  4442. >"I... I am?"
  4443. >You nod.
  4444. "I'm so happy I got to become this close to you. You've made everyday so much fun, and gave me a smile every time I needed it. I couldn't imagine you as anyone else but yourself. I know your real friends feel the same way."
  4445. >She gets a small smile.
  4446. "You're not ugly or a ditz, you're smarter than you think. But you are pretty, and I'm going to prove that to you."
  4447. >She sniffles, and wipes the tears out of her eyes.
  4448. >"If you say so."
  4449. >You stand up and finish combing her hair.
  4450. >Once that's done, you blow dry it, making sure that it's completely dry.
  4451. >Now it was time for the final step.
  4452. >You walk over to a small chest on the other side of the room, and pull out what would appear to be some kind of tongs.
  4453. >"Isn't that... a hair iron thingie?"
  4454. "Yep. A flat iron to be precise."
  4455. >You plug it into a nearby outlet, and switch it on to the medium heat setting.
  4456. "Alright, you're gonna have to be as still as possible. No sudden movements, okay?"
  4457. >"Okay."
  4458. >Very slowly, and very carefully, you take a small section of her hair in your hand, and gently clamp down on it with the iron.
  4459. >And without even letting it stay still for a second, you pull it in a downward motion along the length of the strands.
  4460. >This takes more concentration and patience than any of the steps before this, and you spare no expense in either of those as you move onto the next section of her hair.
  4461. >You repeat this process over and over, until finally...
  4462. "We're done."
  4463. >You say as you unplug the iron and set it down to cool.
  4464. >"H-how... how do I look?"
  4465. >You motion to the door of the laundry room.
  4466. "Let's go see."
  4467. >She enters the bathroom behind you, and as she sees her reflection in the mirror, her reaction is as good as you'd hoped it'd be.
  4468. >Her eyes go wide, she gasps loudly, and covers her mouth with her hands in silent amazement.
  4469. >Her hair is a perfect sheet of shining blue silk.
  4470. >It's easily your best work of the three girls.
  4471. >But that's expected, since you put in much more effort this time.
  4472. "Well? Don't just stand there like that, what do you think?"
  4473. >She slowly lets her hands fall off her mouth.
  4474. >"I... I can't believe that's really..."
  4475. >She points at the Sonata in the mirror with one hand, and points at her actual self with the other.
  4476. >"IS that...?"
  4477. >You chuckle.
  4478. "The girl I just spent an hour pampering? Yes, yes it is."
  4479. >Sonata leaps onto you, grabbing you in the tightest hug she's ever given you.
  4480. >"Thank you, Anon! Thank you!"
  4481. >You hug her back, not quite as tight, otherwise you'd crush her bones.
  4482. >You know, the same way she's crushing your own.
  4483. >You let it slide though, since you don't want to ruin the moment.
  4484. "Now do you see that you're... Sonata?"
  4485. >You can hear her sobbing lightly.
  4486. >"How can I ever thank you enough?"
  4487. >She sniffles.
  4488. "By never doubting yourself. I don't ever wanna hear you talk like that again, understood, Sous Chef?"
  4489. >She nods into your shoulder.
  4490. >"Aye, Captain."
  4491. >She lets out a small giggle.
  4492. >"Oh! I forgot!"
  4493. >She pushes herself off you and wipes away a few tears.
  4494. >"We have to make breakfast, Anon!"
  4495. "No, I have to make breakfast, you're doing nothing."
  4496. >"Huh?"
  4497.  
  4498. >"Why can't I help? I'm your sous chef!"
  4499. >Sonata complains behind you.
  4500. "Not for this meal. You stay away as far as you can. You shouldn't even be here in the kitchen right now."
  4501. >You tell her as you multi-task various things on the stove.
  4502. >This is harder than you remember, now that you had become so reliant on Sonata.
  4503. >She starts to walk over closer.
  4504. >"C'mon, you need me-"
  4505. >You raise your arm out to the side, stopping her.
  4506. "Do you know what kind of trouble we'd be in if anything happened to that outfit? One slip up, one stain, and it'd all be over. Rarity would kill you, then she'd kill me! I don't know about you, but I'm not going to die at the hands of a high school fashionista. Now stay over there or get out!"
  4507. >You order with a slight glare.
  4508. >"Awww."
  4509. >She whines defeated.
  4510. >"What's all the racket about?"
  4511. >Aria asks as she and Adagio walk into the kitchen, still in their pajamas.
  4512. >They both go wide eyed upon seeing Sonata.
  4513. >She stands in the middle of the kitchen awkwardly, as they stare her up and down.
  4514. >"Holy shit."
  4515. >Aria mutters out.
  4516. >"She... she looks way better than we did."
  4517. >She bites on her thumb with a look of jealousy, holding Teddy in her arm.
  4518. >Adagio says nothing, but narrows her eyes at you.
  4519. >You nervously try to ignore her.
  4520.  
  4521. >Once you've plated everything, you all sit at the table.
  4522. >Adagio and Aria have already started eating.
  4523. >Sonata is about to dig into her own plate, before you stop her.
  4524. "Ah-ah! What did I tell you about eating carefully?"
  4525. >She looks at you, then at herself, and sighs.
  4526. >She pushes her plate further into the center of the table, while pushing her chair away.
  4527. >She rolls up her sleeves, bends over, and places her chin on the table, right in front of her plate.
  4528. >With one hand holding the plate, she uses the other to scoop a bite of pancakes into her mouth.
  4529. >Adagio and Aria start laughing hysterically.
  4530. >Aria laughs so hard, she chokes on her food.
  4531. >She drinks some juice and points at Sonata, desperate to speak up.
  4532. >"C-CRAB! THERE'S A FUCKIN' CRAB AT THE TABLE!"
  4533. >She laughs, looking over to Adagio.
  4534. >"You see this shit?!"
  4535. >"Indeed! I didn't know crabs ate pancakes!"
  4536. >They both burst out laughing again.
  4537. >Sonata glares up at the both of them.
  4538. >"Hey, shut up, pajama girls!"
  4539. >Aria grins smugly.
  4540. >"That's right! Pajama Nation up in this bitch!"
  4541. >Aria takes a huge forkful of her breakfast into her mouth.
  4542. >"MMM! So easy! So Carefree!"
  4543. >She moans out as she waves her arms around.
  4544. >This causes Adagio to drop her fork and cover her mouth, as she and Aria laugh even more.
  4545. "Alright, that's enough you two. Finish your breakfast so you can get ready to go."
  4546. >"Yeah, yeah. What's the rush? We've got plenty of time."
  4547. "Rarity wants to meet up with Sonata early to do her makeup."
  4548. >"Well, la-dee-dah."
  4549. >"She is a great makeup artist. It's smart to take her up on that."
  4550. >Adagio comments.
  4551. >Aria and Adagio don't pick on Sonata anymore, but they do giggle and snicker as they watch her eat throughout the meal.
  4552.  
  4553. >You and the girls got to school early, as you planned.
  4554. >Rarity was waiting at the entrance to whisk Sonata away for her makeup session.
  4555. >She seemed extremely pleased with the way she looked in her outfit and accessories.
  4556. >The first half of classes went by smoothly.
  4557. >Especially for Sonata, who's been getting nothing but attention, compliments, and stares of awe all day long.
  4558. >It all comes to a head at lunch, where the gossip and rumors of the day are proven.
  4559. >Sitting next to each other at the Mane Six's table, surrounded by a mob of people, are Rarity and Sonata.
  4560. >The crowd is desperate to get a word in with the two chic girls, who are gladly talking to anyone.
  4561. >You sit with Aria and Adagio at your own table, not far away.
  4562. >The three of you watch as the scene goes on.
  4563. >"She sure is popular all of a sudden."
  4564. >Aria drones.
  4565. >"A good makeover will do that."
  4566. >Adagio replies.
  4567. "She looks even better now with Rarity's finishing touches."
  4568. >You're focused on Sonata, but Aria calls your attention to someone else.
  4569. >"Hey, Anon."
  4570. >She nods in the direction of a group of girls heading over to Sonata.
  4571. >You recognize them as some of the other CHS fashionistas.
  4572. >"Those are the girls who've been saying shit about Sonata."
  4573. "How do you know?"
  4574. >"I heard em' talking in the hallway last week. I would've beaten the crap out of them on the spot, but Sonata didn't want me to stir up any trouble."
  4575. "It's the smart decision. You three are already on thin ice."
  4576. >"I wonder how she'll handle them now."
  4577. "What do you mean?"
  4578. >Aria looks back to Sonata.
  4579. >"If that was the old Sonata, she'd take this chance to rub it in their faces with something like 'too bad, so sad.' But this Sonata..."
  4580. >You watch as the crowd makes way for the girls to greet her.
  4581. >"Hi, Sonata!"
  4582. >She turns to them, and her face immediately drops.
  4583. >"O-oh, hi."
  4584. >"So, hey, you look great! That style is so in right now!"
  4585. >You and Aria frown at this.
  4586. "Seems like they just want to skip out on apologizing."
  4587. >"Because now everyone likes Sonata, and they don't want to be seen as the bad guys."
  4588. >Aria adds.
  4589. >But Rarity suddenly interjects with an annoyed expression and tone.
  4590. >"How peculiar! I could've sworn you girls were saying some rather nasty things about her just the other day!"
  4591. >The group falters a bit, while everyone else starts to whisper and point at them.
  4592. >"Nice, Prissity."
  4593. >Aria smiles.
  4594. >Sonata turns away from them sadly, making the girls look even worse.
  4595. >"Is that true?!"
  4596. >Rainbow Dash glares at them.
  4597. >"T-that... that was just some teasing! You know that, right, Sonata?"
  4598. >Another girl asks with a nervous smile.
  4599. >"I didn't... see it that way."
  4600. >Sonata says while holding herself and looking down.
  4601. >"There you have it! Now if you don't have anything more to say, we would appreciate it if you were on your way."
  4602. >Rarity tells them.
  4603. >"Rarity, you girls aren't upset with us, are you?!"
  4604. >"I'm afraid we don't associate with people who act in such uncouth ways."
  4605. >The girls gasp, and look at each other in panic.
  4606. >Being on the bad side of the Mane Six was like being socially exiled.
  4607. >And nobody wanted that.
  4608. >"W-we're sorry, Sonata! We were wrong to say those things about you! Please forgive us!"
  4609. >They beg sincerely with regret.
  4610. >Everyone looks over to Sonata, waiting to see what she'll say.
  4611. >Her eyes dart around, until they find you.
  4612. >She has a face that asks 'what should I do?'
  4613. >You nod back with a smile.
  4614. >She understands, and turns to the group with a smile of her own.
  4615. >"Okay, I accept your apology. It's always better to be friends than enemies, right, Sunset?"
  4616. >"That's right, Sonata."
  4617. >Sunset replies with a proud smile.
  4618. >Rainbow leans back in her chair.
  4619. >"If Sonata's cool with you, then we're cool."
  4620. >"Ah reckin' it's fer the best."
  4621. >Applejack nods.
  4622. >"I love happy endings!"
  4623. >Pinkie shouts.
  4624. >"Yay."
  4625. >Fluttershy quietly cheers.
  4626. >"I suppose you girls are right. All is forgiven."
  4627. >Rarity says with a sly smile and one eye closed.
  4628. >The group of girls sigh with relief, and everyone murmurs in agreement.
  4629. "You get the feeling Rarity planned this whole thing out from the start?"
  4630. >"Obviously."
  4631. >Adagio answers, then goes back to eating her lunch.
  4632. >"I hate to admit it, but Prissity handled it well."
  4633. >Aria says grudgingly, then grows a small smile.
  4634. >"...Sonata really has changed. I don't think we would've forgiven them, Adagio."
  4635. >"She's matured more than us, it seems."
  4636. >Adagio replies softly with her own smile.
  4637.  
  4638. >The second half of classes go and come.
  4639. >When the final bell rings, you and the girls meet up in the main hall.
  4640. "You guys ready to go home?"
  4641. >"Yeah! Time to spend the weekend watching cartoons and playing video games while eating cookies and ice cream and cake!"
  4642. >Sonata cheers loudly.
  4643. >"Whoa, whoa! Ain't nobody staying home today! We have to get ready!"
  4644. >Rainbow interrupts as she throws both her arms over your and Sonata's shoulders from behind.
  4645. "What are you talkin' about, Dash?"
  4646. >Pinkie suddenly joins in by wrapping one arm over Sonata's other shoulder, and one over Aria's, connecting the five of you together.
  4647. >"Vinyl's having a huge party at her house! Everybody's gonna be there! You guys gotta come! But that cartoon-videogame-cookie-icecream-cake sounded fun for tomorrow!"
  4648. >"Ooo, ooo! I wanna go!"
  4649. >Sonata smiles.
  4650. >Aria rolls her eyes.
  4651. >"A house party? Seems lame."
  4652. >"C'mon, Ari! Even Gilda and Lightning Dust are gonna be there!"
  4653. >Rainbow informs.
  4654. >Aria's eyes widen a bit.
  4655. >"T-they are? Well, I guess if they're going..."
  4656. >"How about you, Dagi?"
  4657. >Sunset asks, as she puts her arms around Aria and Adagio, bringing the chain to the count of seven.
  4658. >"I told you not to call me that! And of course I'm not going!"
  4659. >Adagio glares at Sunset as she tries to break away from her, but to no avail.
  4660. >Must be that former bully strength of Sunset's.
  4661. >"You say that now, but I have a good feeling you're going to end up at the party with us."
  4662. >Sunset grins at Adagio, who scoffs and looks away from her.
  4663. >Rarity adds herself as the eighth member of the chain by taking the side of your other shoulder with her arm.
  4664. >"I think it would be lovely for us all to be there. Don't you agree, Anon?"
  4665. >Rarity is giving you that same sly smile you saw before, and it makes you uneasy.
  4666. "Uh, yeah."
  4667. >"When's the party start?"
  4668. >Aria asks.
  4669. >"In about two hours."
  4670. >Pinkie answers.
  4671. >"Everyone's goin' home first to drop off backpacks and check in with the rents'. Why don't you guys do that, and we'll come pick up whoever wants to go?"
  4672. >Rainbow offers.
  4673. >"Sounds like a plan to me! Now if y'all are done gabbin', I suggest we all skedaddle along."
  4674. >Applejack tips her hat as she passes by.
  4675. >"S-see you guys there."
  4676. >A meek voice says.
  4677. >You all look back over towards Adagio, to see Fluttershy with her arms around her and Rarity.
  4678. >What started as a loose chain is now a connected huddle at nine people.
  4679. >Adagio is startled.
  4680. >"Holy shit! I didn't even notice your arm!"
  4681. >"I don't have much presence."
  4682. >She giggles.
  4683. >"Um, anyways, time to start the weekend, baby!"
  4684. >Rainbow cheers as she lets go of you and Sonata to run after Applejack.
  4685. >The rest of the girls break off from the chain as well.
  4686. >"Woo hoo."
  4687. >Shy follows behind.
  4688. >"I'm so excited!"
  4689. >Pinkie bounces away.
  4690. >"What's an elegant look for a house party?"
  4691. >Rarity ponders with a stride.
  4692. >Sunset simply smiles and waves back.
  4693. >"Let's go, Anon. I have to figure out something to wear."
  4694. >Aria begins to walk.
  4695. "Don't wanna look too shabby next to Sonata, huh?"
  4696. >You tease with a grin, walking alongside her.
  4697. >"As if!"
  4698. >"I think you look fine, Aria."
  4699. >"Shut up, miss popular!"
  4700. >Adagio sighs with annoyance, as she trudges behind the three of you to the car.
  4701.  
  4702. >As soon as you get into the house, Aria drags Sonata off to their room.
  4703. >"Come on, you're helping me put an outfit together!"
  4704. >"Why me?"
  4705. >"Some of that fashion sense must've rubbed off on you after all this!"
  4706. "I'm not so sure about that."
  4707. >You chuckle as you watch Adagio head off to her own room.
  4708. "You getting ready too?"
  4709. >"Like I said, I'm not going."
  4710. >She closes her door behind her.
  4711. >You sigh.
  4712. >"No, no, NO!"
  4713. >Aria shouts from your old bedroom.
  4714. >You walk in to see Aria on a rampage in the closet, throwing clothes all over while Sonata watches.
  4715. "What's wrong?"
  4716. >"I've worn all of this before! There's nothing here I can use to make a new outfit!"
  4717. >"That's why it's important to go shopping once in a while."
  4718. >"A lot of good that does me now, Sonata."
  4719. >Aria sits down on the floor in a huff, looking at the mess she's made.
  4720. >You look it over as well, and notice something is missing.
  4721. "Hey, Aria, do you still have those black jeans with all the zippers?"
  4722. >"Uh... yeah."
  4723. "Get them out."
  4724. >Aria finds and lays them on the bed.
  4725. >As part of that goth outfit, they looked awful.
  4726. >But, on their own, they're not bad.
  4727. "Thank god you were smart enough to not get the baggy version of these."
  4728. >"I don't remember ever seeing this pair of jeans before. When did you wear it?"
  4729. >Sonata asks.
  4730. >"Never. I've never worn them."
  4731. >Aria replies nervous.
  4732. >"Then how does Anon know about them-"
  4733. >"Is there a point to this, Gus?"
  4734. "Not really, I just thought they were something different."
  4735. >Sonata stares at them for a moment, before pointing at them with a smile.
  4736. >"Punk rock!"
  4737. "What?"
  4738. >"These are punk rocker jeans, right?"
  4739. >Sonata starts looking through her side of the closet.
  4740. "Actually, they're more like goth-OOF!"
  4741. >Aria jabs you with her elbow and a death glare.
  4742. "I-I mean, yeah, they can be punk."
  4743. >Sonata pulls out a white, short sleeve, form fitting button up shirt, and sets it over the jeans.
  4744. >She also picks up a black t-shirt off the floor.
  4745. >Aria raises an eyebrow.
  4746. >"What are you getting at?"
  4747. "No, wait, I think she's onto something."
  4748. >"Yep, and you're getting out."
  4749. >Sonata begins to push you through the door.
  4750. "I am?"
  4751. >"Duh! She has to change!"
  4752. >She slams the door behind you.
  4753. "Oh... right."
  4754.  
  4755. >A few minutes later, they come out into the living room.
  4756. >"What do you think, Anon?"
  4757. >Sonata motions to Aria.
  4758. >She's wearing the black jeans with white converse sneakers, and the white shirt, with the top four buttons left open so you can see the black t-shirt underneath.
  4759. "Good. That's a nice look for you, Aria."
  4760. >She crosses her arms.
  4761. >"It's okay, I guess."
  4762. "We've still got almost two hours before the party. What do you guys wanna do?"
  4763. >"Let's play more Zelda!"
  4764. >Sonata runs back to her room with a smile, while you and Aria follow behind.
  4765. >"Why are you both so hooked on that Zelda crap?"
  4766. "Try it yourself."
  4767. >"Guess I've got nothing else to do."
  4768.  
  4769. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zO8Y7hdD6Qk#t=00m17s
  4770. >"So the tree was going to die anyway, making that whole thing pointless, and now all those creepy forest brats are blaming me for it?! That's bullshit!"
  4771. >Aria complains, sitting on the floor in front of the giant crt.
  4772. "Yeah, you're kind of an outcast now, but Saria still likes you."
  4773. >You say sitting next to Sonata on the bed.
  4774. >"That's because Saria is a slut!"
  4775. >"Hey, don't call her that! She gave you a magic instrument! And she loves you!"
  4776. >Sonata scolds.
  4777. >"Sluuuuuut."
  4778. >Aria replies in monotone.
  4779. >"Anon!"
  4780. "Don't mind it, Sonata. She's obviously enjoying the game."
  4781. >"I never said that I was."
  4782. "Do you want to stop playing?"
  4783. >You reach for the N64 controller in her hands, but she leans away from you.
  4784. >"N-no, I wanna see what the next level looks like."
  4785. "They're called dungeons."
  4786. >"Whatever, nerd."
  4787. >Sonata's phone rings, and she takes it out of her skirt pocket to see who it is.
  4788. >"It's Rainbow."
  4789. >She answers it.
  4790. >"Hello? ...Yeah?"
  4791. >She stands up, and paces around the room while holding the phone to her ear.
  4792. >"Uh-huh... uh-huh... yeah, we're ready... I'll go... lemme check."
  4793. >She stops to look at the both of you.
  4794. >"The girls are going on a snack run for the party, and they wanna know if we'll come with them."
  4795. >"Sure."
  4796. >Aria answers without looking away from the tv.
  4797. "I have to see what Adagio is doing first. I don't want to leave her behind."
  4798. >"It's just Aria and me... okay."
  4799. >She ends the call.
  4800. >"They said they'll be here in a few minutes."
  4801. >She turns and walks out of the room.
  4802. "You should save your game."
  4803. >"Not yet. Not until they're here."
  4804. "But this part is gonna take you a while and-"
  4805. >You stop yourself and smile, as you watch Aria focus on passing the royal guards with her tongue sticking out.
  4806. >After a few failed attempts, Sonata shouts from the living room.
  4807. >"They're here!"
  4808. >"Tsk!"
  4809. >Aria clicks her tongue in frustration.
  4810. "You'll get it next time."
  4811. >"I'm not gonna play this lame game again."
  4812. "But you just saved."
  4813. >"Shut up."
  4814. >Aria gets up and walks into the living room to open the front door.
  4815. >You follow her, and see a suv at the curb again, with Rainbow driving.
  4816. >It was different from the one that picked up Aria before.
  4817. >Aria gives a small wave, and Rainbow honks the horn in response.
  4818. >"Let's go, Sonata!"
  4819. >Aria calls out.
  4820. >"Wait! We have to see if she'll go with us!"
  4821. >Sonata yells from the hallway in front of Adagio's door.
  4822. >She knocks on it loudly.
  4823. >"Adagio! Please come out! Adagioooo!"
  4824. >Adagio opens the door with annoyance.
  4825. >"What?! What is it?!"
  4826. >"The girls are here to take us to the party!"
  4827. >"So? I told you, I'm not going."
  4828. >She walks past Sonata to go into the kitchen, but Sonata follows her.
  4829. >"Aww c'mon! Everyone is gonna be there!"
  4830. >"Exactly why I'm not going."
  4831. >Adagio pours herself a drink as Sonata continues to plead with her.
  4832. >"But it's a party! It'll be fun!"
  4833. >"Being in a house full of those idiots is not my idea of fun."
  4834. >Rainbow honks the horn again.
  4835. >"Forget it, Sonata! She's not coming with us!"
  4836. >Aria yells.
  4837. >"Fine."
  4838. >Sonata pouts.
  4839. >"Now Anon will stay home too."
  4840. >"Why?"
  4841. >Adagio asks with interest.
  4842. >"He doesn't want to leave you all alone."
  4843. >Adagio scoffs.
  4844. >"Fool."
  4845. >Sonata walks over to you and Aria sadly.
  4846. >"Anon, if she changes her mind-"
  4847. "I'll bring her over right away. But don't worry about us, go have fun with all your friends... as yourself."
  4848. >She nods with a small smile.
  4849. >"I will."
  4850. >She runs out to the suv, leaving you with Aria at the door.
  4851. >You motion towards the kitchen.
  4852. "I don't know what we're going to do with her."
  4853. >Aria is silent for a moment, before placing her hand on your shoulder.
  4854. >"You're going to have a talk with her."
  4855. "A talk?"
  4856. >"A serious talk, Gus."
  4857. "Oh... oh I dunno if I can-"
  4858. >"You can! You've both been avoiding this for long enough... it's time."
  4859. >Rainbow rolls down her window.
  4860. >"Would you hurry it up?! I'd like to get there before the weekend is over!"
  4861. >She shouts across the driveway.
  4862. >Aria lightly punches your chest with a grin.
  4863. >"Go for it, man. I can't wait to see the results."
  4864. >She walks out, and you watch her and Sonata get driven away.
  4865. >After closing the door, you can hear Adagio still rummaging in the kitchen.
  4866. >Now it was just you and her.
  4867. >Alone in the house.
  4868. >And, according to Aria, it was time.
  4869. >But... just how were you supposed to pull this off?
  4870. >Should you handle it delicately?
  4871. >Or just come right out with it?
  4872. >Either way, you can't imagine her taking it calmly.
  4873. >The only idea you can come up with is try to feel out the mood, and wait for the right moment.
  4874. >That's a good plan, right?
  4875. >Nope.
  4876. >But it's all you've got.
  4877. >You walk into the kitchen to find Adagio searching the refrigerator, going over every nook and cranny with one hand, while holding a glass of punch in the other.
  4878. "What are you looking for?"
  4879. >"The last piece of the cake I've been saving. Where is it?"
  4880. >It was eaten yesterday.
  4881. >And by then, it wasn't so much a piece, but more of a sliver that was being made to look like an intact piece.
  4882. >Aria and Sonata's expert fridge camouflage techniques were truly something to behold.
  4883. "Oh... well..."
  4884. >You say quietly as you look away.
  4885. >She notices your reaction, and her face turns to shock.
  4886. >"Dumb and dumber ate it?! All of it?!"
  4887. "I can make another cake."
  4888. >"What good does that do me right now?!"
  4889. "Not much."
  4890. >"Great!"
  4891. >She shouts, slamming the fridge door.
  4892. >"That was my piece! I've been saving it for a day like this, only for them to eat it behind my back?! And they already snorted the rest of the cake like it was a mound of frosting coated cocaine! Goddammit-!"
  4893. >She suddenly stops herself, closes her eyes, and takes a deep breath with an arm motion to go along with it, then exhales slowly.
  4894. >She opens her eyes.
  4895. >"I'm going to kill them. When they get back, I am going to kill them. They're dead addicts walking."
  4896. >Her voice and expression are calm, but her eyes have a piercing look to them.
  4897. >"Plenty of Sonata's latest batch of punch, though! Real easy to find the giant pitcher of it!"
  4898. >She complains, before taking a large gulp of the bright red liquid from her glass.
  4899. >"What's worse, it's good now. You helped her with this, didn't you?"
  4900. "Yeah, we've been working on the recipe together."
  4901. >"Hmph. It tastes better than the store brand."
  4902. >She finishes off the glass in one go, then sets it down on the counter and shoots you a glare.
  4903. >"Don't ever tell her I said that!"
  4904. >She pushes you out of her way and leaves the kitchen.
  4905. >Yeah, this is going well.
  4906. >You follow her back to the living room, where she sits down on the armchair closest to the front window, overlooking the neighborhood.
  4907. >She turns herself in it, facing to the large sheet of glass, and proceeds to cup her chin in her hand.
  4908. >Seems she's set on staring outside with that annoyed look for sometime.
  4909. >You take a seat yourself, not far from her, on the bigger couch in front of the tv, and make yourself comfortable to watch over her.
  4910. >You can only assume it's because of the party that she's in such a foul mood.
  4911. >It's to be expected, what with everyone trying to pressure her into going against her will.
  4912. >But, you're more than sure there's a part of her that wants to go.
  4913. >Though it's too small to change her mind, of course.
  4914. >Minutes pass in silence as you mull over the situation, weighing the current opportunity against the risks.
  4915. >No, Aria is wrong.
  4916. >This isn't the time for a talk, serious or otherwise.
  4917. >You let out a long sigh as you rub your face, catching her attention.
  4918. >"You want to go to that party, don't you?"
  4919. "What? No-"
  4920. >"Don't try to hide it, you're dying on the inside. You're one of them."
  4921. "One of them?"
  4922. >"The fools who need 'friendship' to feel good about themselves. You're only staying with me because you have a sense of chivalry, or something stupid like that."
  4923. >Great, she's getting into this kind of talk again.
  4924. "Adagio-"
  4925. >"You don't have to worry about me. I'll be more than fine by myself. Go to the party already-"
  4926. "That's not what I want-"
  4927. >"And be surrounded by all the friendship and idiocy you crave-"
  4928. "THAT'S NOT WHAT I WANT!"
  4929. >You snap at her.
  4930. >She's caught off guard, and jolts a bit in her seat.
  4931. >Shit.
  4932. >You didn't think you'd do that, but she's being so bitter right now, when all you want to do is tell her how you feel.
  4933. >"Well, well, Asparagus. And I thought I was in a bad mood. Just what is it that's got you so upset?"
  4934. "Sorry, it's nothing."
  4935. >You rub your face again.
  4936. >"Hmm..."
  4937. >She looks at you thoughtfully.
  4938. >"Oh! I know!"
  4939. >She exclaims with a smile while slapping her knee.
  4940. >"You need to relieve yourself!"
  4941. >You give her a dumbfounded look.
  4942. "...Relieve?"
  4943. >"Being in a house with three girls at all times doesn't give you many chances. Not to mention how embarrassed you must be."
  4944. >Wow.
  4945. >Is she really treating you like this right now?
  4946. >"But by all means, go do what you need to. I won't mind or judge. I can understand the needs of a pathetic, virgin loser such as yourself."
  4947. >She's saying all of this with a cruel, vindictive smile.
  4948. >Shouting at her must have pissed her off.
  4949. >"Just, please, try not to be loud. I'm not in the mood to laugh, but if I hear you, I'm afraid I won't be able to control myself."
  4950. >She chuckles.
  4951. >Oh.
  4952. >That's it.
  4953. >Fuck this.
  4954. "You know what?"
  4955. >You stand up.
  4956. "I think I will go to that party."
  4957. >You tell her with a glare.
  4958. >Her smile fades, and is replaced with slight shock.
  4959. >You begin to walk towards the front door, obviously upset.
  4960. >As you get closer, you shoot her one more glare.
  4961. "I don't even know why I-"
  4962. >You almost let it slip, but stop yourself.
  4963. >This isn't the way to tell her that.
  4964. >Her expression quickly changes to anger.
  4965. >"What were you about to say?!"
  4966. "Forget it."
  4967. >You reply not looking at her, reaching for the doorknob with your hand.
  4968. >As you're about to grasp it, she suddenly gets in between you and the door.
  4969. >"No, I want to know!"
  4970. "I said forget it. Now get out of my way."
  4971. >You try to push her aside, but she stands her ground and blocks you.
  4972. >"I'm not letting you through until you tell me!"
  4973. >You take a few steps back, rolling your eyes.
  4974. >"So what is it, Anon?! You don't know why you put up with me?! You don't know why you let me stay here anymore?! Is that it?!"
  4975. >She gets closer, shouting at you louder and louder.
  4976. >"Maybe it's time to kick the three of us out?! Oh! What am I thinking?! Of course, it would only be ME!"
  4977. >She's completely enraged.
  4978. >You can't get a word in.
  4979. >This is getting worse by the second.
  4980. >"There's nothing wrong with Aria and Sonata! They're always happy! They're always up for having fun! They're way easier to deal with! Because they got with the 'friendship and forgiveness' program, RIGHT?!"
  4981. >You have to put a stop to this.
  4982. >"But not me! You've given me plenty of chances, but I'm not having it! And now you're sick of me and all my shit! Just say it, Anon! Let me hear it! 'You don't know why you' what?! Fucking say it!"
  4983. "Love you."
  4984. >...
  4985. >Her face slowly drops, and she stares at you blankly.
  4986. >"...What was that?"
  4987. "I love you, Adagio."
  4988. >"..."
  4989. >She lets out a slight chuckle with a wary smile.
  4990. >"You don't mean that."
  4991. >She studies you for a reaction, as if she's waiting for you to burst out laughing and say 'got ya!'
  4992. >But, you just stand there, neither smiling or frowning.
  4993. >You're still internally freaking out over how you finally said it.
  4994. >And now that you have, you've got to back it up and prove it to her.
  4995. >Her expression turns to a mix of shock and confusion, as she realizes your serious intent.
  4996. >"When did you... WHY did you..."
  4997. >She's desperate for something, anything, about this to make sense.
  4998. >Unfortunately, all you can do is give her a shrug.
  4999. "I don't remember, and... I don't know. After the day I drove you home, you've always been on my mind. Sometimes I was really annoyed or upset with you, but other times I was even more upset that I... wasn't with you. And eventually I just..."
  5000. >You trail off looking at her with a warm smile.
  5001. >She takes a step back.
  5002. >"This... this is stupid! You're stupid!"
  5003. "So you've told me before."
  5004. >She points at you.
  5005. >"No, I mean it this time, you're a real idiot!"
  5006. "For having feelings for you?"
  5007. >"Of course! After how I've treated you since the day we met, you shouldn't care about me at all! Even just now, the things I said to you... what's to love about any of that?!"
  5008. "It's alright, I know you don't really mean it."
  5009. >Her confusion is replaced with anger again, as she points to herself.
  5010. >"You know?! What do you know about me?! I'M A MONSTER! This-"
  5011. >She pinches the skin of her arm.
  5012. >"This isn't what I was born as! I was banished here, with intentions to take over the world! The first thought I had when I saw you was..."
  5013. >She trials off, and gets lost in staring at you for a moment.
  5014. >"...Was to use you as a guinea pig. Doesn't that bother you?"
  5015. >She asks with a tinge of regret.
  5016. >You shake your head.
  5017. "None of that matters. That's not who you are anymore."
  5018. >"Fuck you! If I had my gem-"
  5019. >She grabs you by the collar.
  5020. >"If I still had my powers, I would put you under my spell right now! And I'd use you! Use you until you were worthless! Then I'd throw you away! And I wouldn't care what happens to you, or your stupid feelings! You hear me?! I WOULDN'T CARE!"
  5021. "But, if that's true... why are you crying?"
  5022. >"What?"
  5023. >She lets go of you to touch her face, and gasps in surprise.
  5024. >Tears are flowing freely from her eyes.
  5025. >She looks down at her hands.
  5026. >"I am. Why am I...?"
  5027. "You already know why."
  5028. >She looks back up to you with wide eyes.
  5029. "We share those same stupid feelings."
  5030. >"N-no... no! This isn't... I'm not..."
  5031. >She takes a few more steps back in panic, then turns around for the door, but you grab hold of her arm.
  5032. "There's no running away now! You started this!"
  5033. >She winces to the words she can't deny, and lets herself loosen in your grasp.
  5034. "We're going to talk this through. ...Come on."
  5035. >You pull her over to the couch, and she reluctantly sits down with you.
  5036. >She notices how close you're sitting next to each other, and scoots herself away from you, over to the far end.
  5037. >She hasn't faced you since she turned away, and she continues to keep her back to you.
  5038. >You let a few seconds go by, as her tears fall in silence.
  5039. "I understand how afraid you are. Neither of us were looking for this, it just happened. But our feelings, and everything I've said... it's all real."
  5040. >She remains silent and unmoving.
  5041. "...Tell me, do you want to leave? Do you want us to never see each other again?"
  5042. >"...No."
  5043. >She answers quietly.
  5044. "Then stay with me. You have to stay with me, because..."
  5045. >You move closer to her.
  5046. "...Now that we've come this far... I don't think I can let you go."
  5047. >She sniffles with a sigh, trying to control herself.
  5048. >You stare at her backside, as it rises and falls with every shaky breath she takes, waiting for some kind of reply.
  5049. >After a long moment of nerve-racking silence, she speaks up, with a voice that's quiet, but heavy.
  5050. >"...I'm not going to say I love you. I... won't even say I like you. ...I can't."
  5051. >You expected as much.
  5052. "I know. And that's okay. I'll just say it for the both of us."
  5053. >She sniffles again and shakes her head.
  5054. >"...I don't understand what you want from me..."
  5055. >You reach out, and take her hand in yours, tightly.
  5056. >She's startled, and finally faces you again.
  5057. >You look her in the eyes, and give her the warmest smile she's seen from you yet.
  5058. "I want you... to let me love you."
  5059. >Slowly, as her eyes overflow with tears, she begins to cry.
  5060. >You wrap her in your arms, and hold her to your chest.
  5061. >She returns the embrace, gripping onto you tightly.
  5062. >You can feel her body and heart aching for comfort.
  5063. >And you're more than willing to give it.
  5064. >You'll hold her, and let her soak your shirt, while her sobs vibrate through your chest.
  5065. >For as long as it takes...
  5066.  
  5067. >You're not sure how much time has passed, but Adagio has calmed down.
  5068. >She hasn't moved, her face is still buried in your chest.
  5069. >Neither of you have spoken a word.
  5070. >There hasn't been a need... until now.
  5071. >"...You made me cry."
  5072. "I'm sorry."
  5073. >"...A cake."
  5074. "What?"
  5075. >Still holding onto you, she pushes off a bit, and looks you in the eyes.
  5076. >"I want my own cake, a french vanilla one. And Sonata and Aria can't have any of it."
  5077. >She's giving you a pouty face and voice.
  5078. >That, coupled with how flushed her face looks from all the crying, is incredibly cute.
  5079. "I'll bake you any kind of cake you want, but how am I supposed to keep those two from eating it?"
  5080. >"I don't know, bake an extra cake, just to keep them occupied."
  5081. >You chuckle.
  5082. >"You won't do it?!"
  5083. "I would if I knew it would work, but I'm pretty sure they would eat your cake first out of sheer jealousy."
  5084. >"You're right, they would do something like that."
  5085. >She frowns.
  5086. >You take both her hands into yours with a smile.
  5087. "Look, I'll bake a really big cake, and you'll be the first one to eat out of it this time."
  5088. >"But-"
  5089. "And no matter who eats more of it, when it's all gone I'll bake another, and another after that. As many as you want. How's that?"
  5090. >"That's... okay, I guess..."
  5091. "You still want me to bake two cakes?"
  5092. >She pulls her hands from yours to cross her arms and look away from you.
  5093. >"What if I do?"
  5094. "Oh c'mon now, be reasonable, Adagio."
  5095. >You try to get her to look at you again, moving into her line of sight, but she avoids your eyes.
  5096. >By doing this, she's left herself wide open to something you've always wanted to do.
  5097. >You lean in close, and kiss her on the cheek.
  5098. >You can taste the residual salt from the dried tears, and feel her soft skin on your lips.
  5099. >But it doesn't last for more than a mere second, as she immediately gets away from you by jumping off the couch.
  5100. >"W-what do you think you're doing?! I didn't give you permission for that!"
  5101. >She shouts down at you with a glare.
  5102. >Your eyes widen.
  5103. "I need permission to kiss you?!"
  5104. >"That's right! And none has been given for today! So you better keep your distance!"
  5105. "Adagio... have you already forgotten what I just said?"
  5106. >You stand up, and give her a playful smile, to which she steps back.
  5107. "Now that we've come this far, I'm not letting you go."
  5108. >You reach out your hands toward her, and take a small step closer.
  5109. >You weren't actually going to do anything, but teasing her is too much fun.
  5110. >"Hold on! We, uh, can't waste time like this! We have to get ready!"
  5111. "Ready for what?"
  5112. >"For that... ugh, stupid party."
  5113. >Your smile drops, along with your hands.
  5114. "You want to go now?!"
  5115. >"If that'll keep you off me for a few hours, yes!"
  5116. >She passes you, and heads for her room.
  5117. >"I'm changing clothes. You should too, since you look like a walking tissue."
  5118. "Oh, do I? Who's fault is that?"
  5119. >"YOURS!"
  5120. >She shouts, slamming her door.
  5121. >Even now, she's able to surprise you.
  5122.  
  5123. >You're in a clean set of clothes, still waiting for Adagio in the living room.
  5124. >Sneakers, jeans, and a button up shirt.
  5125. >Nothing too flashy.
  5126. >You'll leave that to the girls.
  5127. >But why is Adagio taking so long?
  5128. >In all the time you've known her, she's only worn casual clothes, like you.
  5129. >No, wait, you do remember her dressed up... the day you met her.
  5130. >Ever since then, she's never-
  5131. >"You ready to go?"
  5132. >She emerges from her room.
  5133. >You get up from your seat.
  5134. "Yeah, we can-!"
  5135. >But stop dead in your tracks the instant you lay eyes on her.
  5136. >She's dressed up.
  5137. >She's wearing a pink blouse, purple skirt, gold belt, pink stockings, and purple high heels.
  5138. >And you can't even tell that she was crying, thanks to a touch of makeup.
  5139. >She also took off her hair band, letting her curls fill out to the sides.
  5140. >She notices you staring at her slack jawed.
  5141. >"What is it?"
  5142. "You... you look good."
  5143. >She blushes slightly.
  5144. >"Come on, let's get this over with."
  5145.  
  5146. >You and Adagio drive down Vinyl's street, until you come upon a big house emitting the unmistakable loud sounds of a party, with dozens of cars littered around it.
  5147. "This is the place."
  5148. >"No kidding? I couldn't tell."
  5149. >She says with dull sarcasm.
  5150. "Even all the curb space is taken up. We'll have to park further away. Do you want to get out right here?"
  5151. >"No, we'll walk in together."
  5152. "Really?"
  5153. >You reach over for her hand with a smile, but she bats you away.
  5154. >"Stop that! And don't try to pull that shit while we're here! Remember, keep your distance!"
  5155. "Fine."
  5156.  
  5157. >After walking what seemed like a block, you stand at the front door of Vinyl's house, and ring the doorbell.
  5158. >Not only can you hear loud music, you can also feel it thumping in the ground.
  5159. >"There's no way anyone could hear that right now."
  5160. "You're right. I'll text all the girls until one of them-"
  5161. >As you pull out your phone, none other than Vinyl herself opens the door with a smile.
  5162. >You can see the densely packed party going on behind her.
  5163. >"Anon! Dude, awesome to see you could make-whoa!"
  5164. >Vinyl does a double take after noticing Adagio.
  5165. >"Yoooo, it's Digiorno!"
  5166. >Adagio glares at Vinyl, as someone in the crowded party yells out.
  5167. >"What'd you say?! Is the pizzas here?!"
  5168. >"Nah! It's not delivery!"
  5169. >Vinyl shouts behind her.
  5170. >You do your best not to laugh.
  5171. >"Well don't just stand there, come on in!"
  5172. >She invites stepping aside, allowing you both to walk in.
  5173. >"I told you not to call me that, Compact Disc!"
  5174. >Adagio sneers at Vinyl.
  5175. >Vinyl places a hand on her chest dramatically, while she closes the door behind you.
  5176. >"Ouch, Digiorno! That's not the first time I've heard that from you, but it BURNS every time!"
  5177. >She starts nudging you with her elbow wearing a goofy smile.
  5178. >"Get it? CDs? Burn? Eh, eh? Anyways, make yourselves at home, guys."
  5179. >You and Adagio take in the scene.
  5180. >You're standing in the giant living room of the two story house.
  5181. >There's some couches lined up on one side, while everything else seems to have been moved out to make room for Vinyl's impressive DJ setup at the very back.
  5182. >It was a professional grade turntable, surrounded by speakers of various sizes, each one looking as if it costs a fortune.
  5183. >In front of that display is plenty of room for dancing, or if you prefer, standing around to socialize.
  5184. >To the left is stairs that lead to the second floor, where the bedrooms and guest bathroom are.
  5185. >To your right, the entrance to the large kitchen.
  5186. >What stands out the most though is the huge amount of people.
  5187. >It's not so much that you can't move around, but it is a bit stifling.
  5188. >They're everywhere, even hanging out on the stairs and overlooking the living room from the second floor staircase.
  5189. "Vinyl, this is crazy! Almost everyone from school is here! How are you getting away with this?"
  5190. >"Parents are away for the weekend, man! As long as I have the place cleaned up by the time they get back, they don't mind."
  5191. "You think you can handle that?"
  5192. >"By myself? Not likely. But with Pinkie? It'll be a breeze. Besides, we're talking about CHS students, not exactly the rowdiest bunch around, ya know?"
  5193. "I guess you're right. By the way, how the heck did you hear the doorbell?"
  5194. >"Easy, I've got the doorbell routed to my headphones!"
  5195. >She points at them around her neck with a smug smile.
  5196. >"Pretty cool, huh? Now if you'll excuse me, I gotta get back to the turntable. You two go enjoy yourselves."
  5197. >With that, she begins to wade through the sea of people.
  5198. >You and Adagio turn to each other, but before you can say anything, Pinkie suddenly appears in front of you.
  5199. >"Did someone call for me?! I heard my name!"
  5200. >She looks around frantically, until she notices you.
  5201. >"Anon! Andohmygosh, Dagi! The girls will be so happy to see you! Come on, let's go find them!"
  5202. >Pinkie grabs hold of Adagio's hand, and starts to pull her away.
  5203. >"Oh joy."
  5204. >Adagio rolls her eyes as she's dragged off.
  5205. >"Holy shit."
  5206. >Now Aria is suddenly beside you smiling.
  5207. >Seems anyone can do that Pinkie-appear maneuver in this environment.
  5208. >"You had that talk with her?"
  5209. "Uh, yeah."
  5210. >"And it went well?"
  5211. "Kind of. It's only one sided admittance, and there's something about needing permission, so I'm not sure."
  5212. >Aria laughs.
  5213. "What's so funny?"
  5214. >"You're wrong, Anon, it worked out great."
  5215. "How can you tell?"
  5216. >"She's dressed up! She hasn't looked like that since the battle of the bands. When we lost, she became so depressed that she's only worn jeans and hoodies. But if she's wearing that, it means she's happy. Good job, Gus."
  5217. >Out of nowhere, Aria's arm is grabbed by Sonata.
  5218. >"Aria, someone said Adagio is here! Do you think it's-! Anon!"
  5219. "Hiya."
  5220. >She smiles brightly.
  5221. >"Then it is true!"
  5222. >"Yep, I just saw Pinkie take her over to the kitchen-"
  5223. >"Then let's go too!"
  5224. >Sonata drags Aria over, and you decide to follow them.
  5225. >There's a ton of people in the kitchen.
  5226. >Not just for the food and drinks, but because the music isn't as loud in here.
  5227. >You can carry on a conversation without having to yell.
  5228. >Perfect for all the girls to gather together.
  5229. >You spot Adagio surrounded by them.
  5230. >They're excited to see her and complimenting her outfit.
  5231. >Adagio herself seems to be acting aloof to it all, but she isn't trying to get away from them either.
  5232. >Sonata surprise hugs her from behind, causing the girls to start giggling, while Adagio and Aria try to peel her off.
  5233. >You smile to yourself, now able to relax instead of worry about Adagio.
  5234. >Since you're here, you might as well get something to drink.
  5235. >You're not even thirsty, but practically everyone at this party has a solo cup in their hand, so you're curious to see what's so popular.
  5236. >You make your way over to the table, where an assortment of snacks and beverages are laid out.
  5237. >But what takes center stage is a punch bowl filled with, what else, punch.
  5238. >You raise an eyebrow.
  5239. >It couldn't be, could it?
  5240. >You grab a fresh cup, pour some of the familiar red liquid with a ladle, and taste it, confirming your suspicions.
  5241. >You wave Pinkie over to you.
  5242. >"What's up, Nonny?"
  5243. "Pinkie, this punch-"
  5244. >"Isn't it great?! Sonony picked out all the ingredients at the store, and put them together once we got here! It's a big hit with everyone!"
  5245. >"I'll say!"
  5246. >You and Pinkie make room for one of the jocks, who fills his bright blue cup with the punch.
  5247. >"This is the best punch I've ever tasted, man! I can't get enough!"
  5248. >He takes a satisfied swig as he heads back to the living room.
  5249. >A terrible thought enters your mind.
  5250. "Pinkie, this punch isn't being spiked, is it? It would break Sonata's heart if it were."
  5251. >"Of course not!"
  5252. "Thank goodness."
  5253. >"It can't be, since Spike went back home with Twilight through the portal, remember? Silly Nonny!"
  5254. >She giggles.
  5255. "That's not what I-"
  5256. >"Yo, Pinkie! Need some help!"
  5257. >Someone calls out to her.
  5258. >"Coming!"
  5259. >She runs into the living room.
  5260. >"Don't worry, it's not being spiked."
  5261. >Sunset assures you.
  5262. >"They just genuinely love the punch, and I can't blame them, Sonata did a great job with it."
  5263. "I'm glad everything turned out well for her."
  5264. >You smile.
  5265. >"Me too."
  5266. >She smiles back.
  5267. >You notice Rarity is staring at you from the other side of the room for... some reason.
  5268. >That's odd.
  5269. >"Yoooo pizza is here!"
  5270. >Vinyl, Pinkie, and Octavia walk into the kitchen, each carrying a tall stack of pizza boxes.
  5271. >Some people make room on one of the counters, and the girls carefully place down their cardboard towers.
  5272. >Everyone instantly crowds around them for a slice, as Vinyl checks each box, and hands it off to Pinkie for distribution.
  5273. >Octavia on the other hand, chooses to scold Vinyl.
  5274. >"Vinyl, how on earth are you going to pay for all of this?! Saying 'put it on my tab' doesn't make it go away!"
  5275. >"Oh no, this is bad."
  5276. >Vinyl says as she looks over three boxes of plain cheese pizza.
  5277. >"Exactly! You have to give these back and-! Vinyl!"
  5278. >Vinyl seemingly ignores her, as she makes her way over to one of the kitchen drawers, and pulls out a pair of scissors.
  5279. >She then walks over to Sunset, and drags her away by the arm.
  5280. >"Need ya for a sec, Sunny, come on."
  5281. >"Uh, o-okay."
  5282. >You and a few others follow them into the living room, where Vinyl brings Sunset all the way over to her turntable.
  5283. >With Sunset standing right next to her, she takes out a cordless mic, and stops the record's spinning, causing the classic party halting sound of music coming to a slow stop, to echo throughout the house.
  5284. >"Yo, y'all! We got a serious problem on our hands!"
  5285. >Vinyl's voice booms out of the speakers.
  5286. >Everyone begins to murmur.
  5287. >"I'm sorry to say that the pizza place didn't get our order of bacon pizzas! I repeat, there is no bacon pizza!"
  5288. >A fair amount of people make a disappointed sound.
  5289. >"Boooo!"
  5290. >That one was clearly from Rainbow Dash.
  5291. >Vinyl slings her arm around Sunset.
  5292. >"But it's okay, 'cause I got Sunset Shimmer, the legendary bacon haired girl herself, and a pair of scissors right here, so there's plenty of bacon for everyone, COME AND GET IT!"
  5293. >The house collectively bursts out laughing.
  5294. >You even see Adagio laugh as well.
  5295. >"Fuck you, Vinyl!"
  5296. >Sunset shouts as she breaks away from Vinyl with a huge smile.
  5297. >Vinyl starts laughing as well, but she stops when Octavia joins her behind the turntable.
  5298. >"This isn't a joke, Vinyl!"
  5299. >She pulls the mic from her hand.
  5300. >"Listen everyone, those pizzas cost over four hundred dollars!"
  5301. >The crowd's reaction is an audible gasp.
  5302. >Vinyl takes the mic back.
  5303. >"It's true guys, the pizzas weren't cheap... but it's okay!"
  5304. >She slings her arm around Octavia.
  5305. >"Cause Octavia Melody, the mellow cello girl herself, has offered to pay for them! GIVE IT UP FOR HER, Y'ALL!"
  5306. >The crowd starts cheering, and even chants her name.
  5307. >"TAVI! TAVI! TAVI!"
  5308. >"No! No, I did not make any such offer! VINYL!"
  5309. >Octavia pulls away from her, and gives her a furious glare.
  5310. >Vinyl laughs a bit before speaking again.
  5311. >"Okay, okay, truth is, I already cut a deal with the pizza guy to DJ an upcoming party of his, in exchange for the bill. So it's all cool. But hey, THIS party is still rockin', and there's plenty of pizza for everyone, so go grab a slice!"
  5312. >Vinyl switches the turntable back on, as everyone cheers again.
  5313. >Octavia crosses her arms.
  5314. >"Damn it, Vinyl! Made me worry over nothing!"
  5315. >Still standing near the kitchen doorway, Sonata is able to pull you back in, and hand you a paper plate with a slice in it.
  5316. >"Here, Anon, eat it while it's hot!"
  5317. "Thanks, Sonata."
  5318.  
  5319. >After some pizza and chips, your hands are now covered in grease and flavored dust.
  5320. >You try to make your way over to the kitchen sink, but there's so many people around it, you can't get near it.
  5321. >You'll have to push your way through and-
  5322. >"Anon, darling!"
  5323. >You turn around to see Rarity walk up to you.
  5324. >"I have to say, dear, I am most impressed with you."
  5325. "Uh... you are?"
  5326. >"Of course. After all, you knew the perfect time to arrive fashionably late! That's quite chic of you."
  5327. "Chic or not, it definitely wasn't on purpose."
  5328. >You chuckle nervously.
  5329. >Something about the way Rarity has been acting all day makes you uncomfortable.
  5330. >You almost didn't want to be around her.
  5331. >She notices your plight.
  5332. >"Need to wash your hands?"
  5333. "Yeah, do you think you could help me get to the sink-"
  5334. >"Why not use the sink upstairs?"
  5335. "I would, but the line for the bathroom is so long and-"
  5336. >She leans in closer and whispers.
  5337. >"That's not the only bathroom in the house, darling. There's also the master bathroom."
  5338. >Your eyes widen.
  5339. "You mean, Vinyl's parent's room? I don't think anyone can go in there-"
  5340. >"Nonsense, I used it myself just a few minutes ago. All you would be doing is washing your hands, after all. No one can mind what they don't know happened."
  5341. >She's giving you the sly smile from earlier again, as she continues to whisper.
  5342. >Seriously, this girl is weirding you out.
  5343. >...But you do need to wash your hands.
  5344. "I guess you're right. It would only take me a few seconds."
  5345. >"Exactly. Go on, I'll cover for you."
  5346. "Thanks, Rarity."
  5347. >She keeps that smile as she watches you leave the kitchen.
  5348. >You make your way upstairs, and look to your right to see the line for the bathroom as long as ever.
  5349. >Instead, you turn left, down a hallway towards Vinyl's parent's bedroom.
  5350. >The door to their room was already slightly open, confirming what Rarity said, so you only need to gently push on it to get inside.
  5351. >This room is spacious, with a large bed covered in an expensive looking set of sheets at the far end.
  5352. >You see another door in the corner, which has also been left slightly open.
  5353. >It leads to a luxurious bathroom that suits your style.
  5354. >This isn't the time to be admiring it though.
  5355. >You quickly wash your hands clean, dry off on a nearby hanging towel, and walk out of the marble adorned room.
  5356. >There.
  5357. >You've pulled off a victimless 'crime.'
  5358. >Well, almost.
  5359. >You still need to leave this room and-
  5360. >-Click-
  5361. >What was that sound?
  5362. >You look over to where it came from, the bedroom door, and are surprised to see...
  5363. "Rarity? What are you doing?"
  5364. >She turns around from the door handle with an excited smile.
  5365. >"Locking this door."
  5366. >She walks over to you.
  5367. "...And why would you need to do that?"
  5368. >"Because I've finally gotten you alone, darling, and I don't want anyone to interrupt us."
  5369. >She couldn't possibly...
  5370. "By 'us,' you don't mean-"
  5371. >She pushes herself onto you, which causes you to back away, until you're up against the wall.
  5372. >This lets her push herself even more onto you with all of her body weight.
  5373. >Holy shit, you can practically feel every one of her curves.
  5374. >She starts playfully moving her finger in a circle on your chest, while giving you hardcore bedroom eyes.
  5375. >"You see, Anon, I've had my eyes on you for sometime, and I'm afraid that..."
  5376. >She unbuttons the top button of your shirt.
  5377. >"I can't hold myself back any longer."
  5378. >This is bad.
  5379. >Really bad.
  5380. >You've never in your wildest dreams thought Rarity would be attracted to you.
  5381. >Because... why would she be?
  5382. >She can have anyone she wants, and she's never shown interest in you before.
  5383. >In any case, you can't go along with this.
  5384. >If Adagio were to find out, she'd never want to see you again.
  5385. >And you don't have the slightest interest in Rarity, even as she looks into your eyes.
  5386. >Yes, she is beautiful, but you feel nothing for her.
  5387. >Instead, her and this whole situation is just reminding you of how much you love Adagio.
  5388. >To lose her over a fling... you'd never be able to live with yourself.
  5389. >You have to reject Rarity.
  5390. >But... you don't want to hurt her feelings either...
  5391. "Rarity, I'm almost speechless."
  5392. >She giggles.
  5393. >"I do have that effect, don't I?"
  5394. "Yeah... I think you're great and all, but I can't do this."
  5395. >You gently push her off of you.
  5396. >Her lustful look turns aggressive, and she grabs your collar while pushing herself back onto you.
  5397. >"You don't seem to understand, dear, I always get what I want."
  5398. >She isn't letting up.
  5399. >Looks like you'll have to be more forceful about this.
  5400. >"And what I want is-"
  5401. >You're about to push her off again.
  5402. >"For you to wash my hair."
  5403. >...
  5404. "That's it? That's what this is about?!"
  5405. >She backs off of you with a demure smile.
  5406. >"Of course. What else could it have been?"
  5407. "Wait, how do you even know about that?"
  5408. >"Darling, please. Did you truly think I wouldn't notice what you've done?"
  5409. "What I've done?"
  5410. >She crosses her arms and begins to stride around the room as she talks.
  5411. >"Sometime ago, Aria went for a day out with Rainbow Dash, sporting a divine new hairstyle in all the pictures they posted. Since then, I've had a theory about how she pulled it off, but no evidence to back it up. But today, Sonata shows up to school, early in the morning, with hair worthy of being on a runway fashion show. That was the definitive, undeniable proof I needed."
  5412. >She points her finger at you.
  5413. >"You are the one responsible for their fabulous hair! You wash and style it all on your own!"
  5414. "So what if I am? Did I really do that good of a job?"
  5415. >"Anon, I've been studying the fashion world for as long as I can remember, and in all my years I've never seen such amazingly styled hair done at home. Your talent is on a professional level. You're like a... diamond in the rough!"
  5416. "You've gotta be joking."
  5417. >You say with a deadpan face and tone.
  5418. >"I am quite serious! Otherwise I wouldn't have gone to these lengths!"
  5419. "WHY did you go through all this? Why not just ask me about it normally?"
  5420. >She scoffs.
  5421. >"Come now, dear, if I had asked you directly, you would have denied to any involvement and walk away. Correct?"
  5422. "Yeah... probably."
  5423. >Not probably, that's exactly what you would've done.
  5424. >"And that is why I waited for the right time to make my move. I had to break your guard so that you would admit to it."
  5425. "And it worked, I'll give you that."
  5426. >You re-button the top of your shirt, but she suddenly moves in to undo it once again.
  5427. >"Oh no-no-no, dear, doing that wasn't part of the act, it's actually in style right now to leave that unbuttoned. There, that's much better."
  5428. >She does this with a serious expression and tone, so you know she's not just teasing you.
  5429. "If you... say so. Anyways, just because you've figured this out, and gotten me to admit, doesn't mean that I'll do what you're asking."
  5430. >"Oh, but I think you will, since I'm going to make it worth your while."
  5431. >She takes your hand and places something in it.
  5432. "...Forty dollars?! You're PAYING me to wash your hair?!"
  5433. >"As I said, your quality is that of a professional, so you should be payed like one."
  5434. "Rarity! I can't take this-"
  5435. >You try handing her the money back, but she back-steps away, waving her finger.
  5436. >"Ah-ah! The moment you grasped that currency, you agreed to render your service."
  5437. >You stand there in shock, looking back and forth between her and the two bills in your hand.
  5438. "But I didn't... I don't want... that's a dirty trick!"
  5439. >"No, darling, that's just good business."
  5440. >She winks, then walks over to the door and opens it.
  5441. >"Oh! And as for the time of my appointment... hmm..."
  5442. >She places her finger on her chin as she ponders.
  5443. >"I'd prefer tomorrow, but I don't have the time. So let's make it for sunday, around one o'clock?"
  5444. >She leaves the room, but calls back to you from the hallway.
  5445. >"I'll text youuuu~"
  5446. >And just like that, she's back downstairs as if nothing ever happened.
  5447. >You're not sure whether to feel angry or relieved.
  5448. >On one hand, what Rarity did, and what she wants, is absurd.
  5449. >But on the other, it wasn't the awful predicament you thought it was.
  5450. >...
  5451. >Eh, you're relieved more than anything.
  5452. >At least there's no guilt to feel in any of this.
  5453. >You pocket the money, walk out of the room, and close the door.
  5454. >Coming down the stairs, you overlook the party.
  5455. >It's still going strong.
  5456. >With the last step cleared, you make touchdown on the living room floor.
  5457. >Although it didn't go as planned, your victimless crime is done.
  5458. >"Where were you?"
  5459. >Or so you thought.
  5460. >You look to your side and see Adagio right next to you, staring at you with narrowed eyes.
  5461. >You almost panic, but keep it under control.
  5462. >Alright now, you have to play it cool, or else she won't let it go.
  5463. "Washing my hands."
  5464. >You hold them out, and she looks at them to judge for herself.
  5465. >Now to deflect.
  5466. "Why? Did you miss me?"
  5467. >You ask with a smug face.
  5468. >"N-no! I just wanted to make sure my ride home didn't leave without me!"
  5469. "The girls would have brought you home if that happened."
  5470. >She turns her back to you.
  5471. >"...They didn't bring me here, you did. So... you'll be the one to take me home..."
  5472. >She starts walking away.
  5473. "I wouldn't let anyone else take you. Not even the girls."
  5474. >She freezes up for a few seconds, before continuing on.
  5475. >As you watch that irreplaceable poof of hair fade into the crowd, thinking about what just happened upstairs, you become anxious.
  5476. >You've never wanted to take her home so badly.
  5477. >Not because you were worried or scared.
  5478. >You just had an overwhelming feeling driving you.
  5479. >But you would have to wait... until the right moment.
  5480.  
  5481. >The party went on.
  5482. >You schmoozed around.
  5483. >Had fun talking to everyone.
  5484. >And soon, enough time had passed for Vinyl to make an announcement.
  5485. >"Alright, y'all, this is gonna be the last song of the night."
  5486. >"Aww!"
  5487. >The house protests.
  5488. >You're standing near the front door with a group that consists of Adagio, Sonata, Pinkie, Aria, Rainbow, Lightning, and Gilda.
  5489. >"Aw c'mon! Let's keep going!"
  5490. >Lightning shouts.
  5491. >"Yeah, don't be a dweeb!"
  5492. >Gilda adds.
  5493. >"Sorry, guys, but it's getting late. Time for this 'club' to close and clean up for another day. So let's make this count! Our very own party girl, Pinkie Pie-"
  5494. >"THAT'S ME!"
  5495. >"Requested this one, and since she helped me put this shindig together, I couldn't refuse. Here it is!"
  5496. >Vinyl drops the needle on an old looking record, and the speakers boom out in response.
  5497. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuDEP6eFkeA
  5498. >Sonata and Pinkie immediately pump their fists into the air.
  5499. >"AW YEAH!"
  5500. >Sonata cheers.
  5501. >"This is our jam!"
  5502. >Pinkie high fives Sonata.
  5503. >They both run all the way up to Vinyl and her turntable, faster than should be possible.
  5504. >And as soon as the beat drops, Sonata, Pinkie, and Vinyl all begin to head bang to it.
  5505. >The rest of the house seems unsure of what to do, watching in awkward silence.
  5506. >Rarity, who happened to be standing near the turntable with Fluttershy and Octavia, speaks up with embarrassment.
  5507. >"Darlings, please, don't do this to yourselves! Don't do this to US!"
  5508. >She pleads with an outstretched arm.
  5509. >Gilda chuckles.
  5510. >"What a bunch of losers! Right, Dash? ...Dash?!"
  5511. >Rainbow had already left her side to run up to the three girls and point at them.
  5512. >"That is the sickest head banging I've ever seen!"
  5513. >She enthusiastically joins in with them.
  5514. >Rarity gasps when she notices Flutters has also become part of the group.
  5515. >Though she isn't head banging so much as swaying softly.
  5516. >Lightning, unable to fight it anymore, makes her way over to Rainbow and slings an arm around her, and mimics the rest of the girls.
  5517. >With enough of the cool kids now in on it, more and more of the crowd follows suit, until everyone is bopping and jumping around.
  5518. >Almost everyone.
  5519. >"So this is what your great social interaction devolves into, hmm?"
  5520. >Adagio asks you deadpanned.
  5521. >You can only give an awkward chuckle in response.
  5522. >Aria and Gilda frown and glare their disapproval at the scene, as does Octavia.
  5523. >After being bounced around while making her way over to your side, Rarity emerges from the mosh of teenagers more than a bit unkempt.
  5524. >"Of all the uncouth things! I could never engage in such an activity! Not only does it lack any sort of class, it would ruin my hair!"
  5525. >She complains while straightening herself out.
  5526. >Aria gives her a snide grin.
  5527. >"Looks like we finally agree on something, PRISSITY."
  5528. >"It would seem so, ARIETTA."
  5529. >Aria and Rarity glare daggers at each other so intensely, even Gilda takes a step back from them.
  5530. >But slowly, Rarity's glare gives way to admiration.
  5531. >"...By the way, that's quite a stylish outfit. I'm impressed."
  5532. >Aria crosses her arms and looks away.
  5533. >"Thanks... I guess. And uh... I've been meaning to say... nice job helping Sonata today."
  5534. >Rarity also looks away.
  5535. >"It was my pleasure..."
  5536. "I can't tell if these two are friends or not."
  5537. >"Hmph. Girls."
  5538. >Gilda scoffs.
  5539. "Aren't you a girl, Gilda?"
  5540. >"No! W-wait, yes! I mean-! Shut up!"
  5541. >She stomps off to the kitchen.
  5542.  
  5543. >When the song finally ends, everyone cheers, while Vinyl picks the mic up for the last time.
  5544. >"Well, boys and girls, as the old saying goes, you don't have to go home, but ya GOTS to get outta here! Thanks for coming over and making this a great party! See you next time!"
  5545. >Octavia quickly takes the mic from her.
  5546. >"And I would just like to advise that you do go home, as it's quite late and your parents are probably worried. Oh! And you should do any homework or chores you may have tomorrow. Don't wait until the last minute!"
  5547. >"Boooo!"
  5548. >Again, Rainbow.
  5549. >"Go! Move it!"
  5550. >Adagio suddenly pushes you out of the house with Aria and Rarity in tow, allowing you to escape getting caught in the traffic jam now slowly filing out the front door.
  5551. >"Now I see why you were standing near the door! Marvelous idea, Dagi!"
  5552. >Rarity compliments.
  5553. >"Isn't Sonata at the very back of all this?"
  5554. >Aria asks as you all watch from the front yard.
  5555. >"We'll have to wait for her and the others I'm afraid."
  5556. >"Diane and me are already here."
  5557. >You all look behind you to see Sonata and Pinkie.
  5558. "How did you-"
  5559. >"The backyard door, silly!"
  5560. >Pinkie thumbs over with a smile.
  5561. "But there's a tall fence back there-"
  5562. >"We jumped it."
  5563. >Sonata shrugs.
  5564. >Adagio facepalms, Aria rolls her eyes, Rarity shakes her head, while you're speechless, until Gilda bumps into your shoulder as she passes by.
  5565. >"Looks like they're the ones you should question about being a girl, dweeb!"
  5566. "Point taken."
  5567. >The other girls slowly join you outside one by one.
  5568. >"That was awesome!"
  5569. >Rainbow shouts.
  5570. >"Did you enjoy yourself, Dagi?"
  5571. >Sunset asks with a smile.
  5572. >"It was... an experience, I suppose."
  5573. >Adagio dismisses.
  5574. >"We should totally hang out again tomorrow!"
  5575. >Rainbow suggests.
  5576. >"Yeah, I'll call you and we'll figure something out."
  5577. >Aria agrees.
  5578. >"You and the girls go on ahead, Dashie, I've gotta help Vinyl clean up. She'll drop me off home."
  5579. >Pinkie tells her ride.
  5580. >With that, you all say your goodbyes and part ways, but not before Rarity sneakily winks at you.
  5581. >Thankfully, Adagio had already turned away to head towards the car.
  5582. >You have to figure out a way to deal with that come sunday.
  5583.  
  5584. >You make it back home by nine thirty.
  5585. >As soon as you all walk through the front door, Aria goes straight into her room.
  5586. >She picks up Teddy off the bed, turns on the tv, the N64, and sits down on the floor.
  5587. >She takes the controller in hand, while Teddy sits in her lap, and selects her saved file.
  5588. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mt9qJqj3wQw#t=00m23s
  5589. >"What are you doing?"
  5590. >Sonata asks from the bedroom doorway.
  5591. >"Nothing."
  5592. >"I thought you said you didn't like this game?"
  5593. >"I don't."
  5594. >"Then why are you playing it?!"
  5595. >Sonata's actually getting upset.
  5596. >"B-because! Shut up!"
  5597. >Sonata sits down next to her and tries to take the controller out of her hands.
  5598. >"I wanna play too!"
  5599. >"No! I'm gonna beat this part!"
  5600. >They begin to slap each others hands and their bickering gets even louder.
  5601. >"You saved your file as 'Teddy'!"
  5602. >"Yeah?! So what?!"
  5603. >"You can't name the hero of time Teddy!"
  5604. >"Shut up! I can name him whatever I want! And tomorrow we're watching the Care Bears!"
  5605. >"NNNOOO!"
  5606. >"You two stop it! Not a minute back in the house and you're already fighting!"
  5607. >Adagio scolds as she takes the controller away from them.
  5608. >"She started it!"
  5609. >Aria blames.
  5610. >"I don't care who started it, if you both don't stop, neither of you will get Anon's homemade cookies!"
  5611. >Sonata gasps.
  5612. >"But... I need my cookie fix!"
  5613. >"Not unless you settle down, put on your pajamas and wash up! Right, Anon?"
  5614. "That's right."
  5615. >You confirm from the doorway.
  5616. >Aria stands up.
  5617. >"Fine! Close the door so we can change."
  5618. >Adagio walks out of the room and Sonata closes the door behind her.
  5619. >You look at Adagio with a smile.
  5620. >Seeing her act as the big sister reminds you of why you fell in love with her in the first place.
  5621. >"...Well?"
  5622. >She glares at you.
  5623. "Hmm?"
  5624. >"What are you waiting for? Get started already! And be sure to make enough so I don't have to share with them!"
  5625. >She motions to the kitchen.
  5626. "Oh! At once, your highness!"
  5627. >You bow mockingly.
  5628. >She rolls her eyes and walks away to presumably change and wash up.
  5629.  
  5630. >"So... will Cinderella really get to go to the ball, Anon?"
  5631. >Sonata asks with the wide eyed look of a worried child, as she stares ahead at the tv and munches on a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie.
  5632. "You'll just have to keep watching and find out."
  5633. >You reply after taking a drink of milk from your mug.
  5634. >You set it down on the coffee table next to the three others.
  5635. >"Those mean step sisters better not do anything to ruin it for her!"
  5636. >She puffs her cheeks while she bundles herself up next to you, in the large blanket that's covering all four of you.
  5637. >"Yeah, they're the worst."
  5638. >Aria agrees, sitting next to Sonata at the left end of the couch.
  5639. >"I don't see why you both dislike them so much. They remind me of two annoying girls I know."
  5640. >Adagio chuckles next to you on the right end, as she takes another bite of her cookie.
  5641. >"Really? It's the step mother who reminds me of someone."
  5642. >Adagio and Aria lean over a bit to glare at each other.
  5643. "I'm just surprised you guys never watched a Disney princess cartoon before."
  5644. >"I always wanted to! But Aria would never let us because it's 'girly baby junk."
  5645. >Sonata complains.
  5646. >"It is!"
  5647. >Aria insists.
  5648. >"That's rich coming from someone who has a stuffed bear tucked into the blanket next to them."
  5649. >Adagio remarks.
  5650. >"Hey! There's no reason he can't share in the blanket too!"
  5651. "You don't have to watch this if you're not enjoying it, Aria."
  5652. >"Y-yeah, I know. But we're already halfway through the movie, so I might as well finish it. Just to see how lame the ending is, I mean."
  5653. >She says nervously, before picking up her mug of milk and another cookie from the large bowl on the table.
  5654.  
  5655. >The prince kisses Cinderella and the book closes, ending the movie.
  5656. >Now, this is where you would turn to Sonata and ask her how she liked it.
  5657. >But, although she tried to fight it, she'd fallen asleep on your shoulder sometime ago.
  5658. >So you ask Aria instead.
  5659. "What did you think, Aria? Aria?! Are you crying?"
  5660. >You look over to see her hugging Teddy tightly with watered eyes.
  5661. >"W-what?! N-no! NO!"
  5662. >She quickly wipes her eyes while sniffling and stands up.
  5663. >"I-I'm just tired, that's all! I-I'm going to bed!"
  5664. >She rushes to her room, taking Teddy along with her.
  5665. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agR5aaQL2PY
  5666. >Adagio sighs.
  5667. >"I don't know what I'm going to do with these two. It's like they'll never grow up."
  5668. "Is that such a bad thing?"
  5669. >You ask with a smile while calling her attention to Sonata, who is now drooling on you.
  5670. >Adagio laughs a bit before stifling herself.
  5671. >"Hmm... maybe not."
  5672. >She says with her own smile before standing up.
  5673. >"Wake her up. She has to get in bed."
  5674. "Nah, I've got it."
  5675. >You throw the blanket off you and Sonata, then hold her steady as you move into position and pick her up, princess style.
  5676. >"Mmm..."
  5677. >She stirs a bit in your arms and her eyes open slightly, as you gently carry her to your old bed.
  5678. >"Anon...? Wha...what happened?"
  5679. >She asks weakly.
  5680. "You fell asleep, Sonata. You've been up since six this morning, remember?"
  5681. >"Oohh nooo... did... did Cinderella marry the prince?"
  5682. "Mm-hmm. And they lived happily ever after."
  5683. >She smiles.
  5684. >"Ohh... that's good..."
  5685. >Adagio goes ahead of you to lift the sheets up, allowing you to lay her down next to Aria, who was already under the sheets, and tuck her in.
  5686. >As soon as you do, she falls right back asleep.
  5687. >The tv and N64 were still on, providing their usual night light, with Kakariko Village's theme playing softly.
  5688. >Aria was quite pleased with herself for getting 'so far.'
  5689. >With everything taken care of, you and Adagio simply walk out and close the door behind you.
  5690. >"That was impressive, Anon. Would you have been able to do the same for me?"
  5691. >She asks sarcastically.
  5692. >You give her a smug face.
  5693. "I still can, if you want."
  5694. >She scoffs.
  5695. >"No thanks, I'll handle it myself. Goodnight."
  5696. >She walks into her bedroom and closes the door without even looking back.
  5697. >Seems she's set on avoiding you for the rest of the night.
  5698.  
  5699. >Later, you're sitting up in bed, watching tv.
  5700. >And your alarm clock.
  5701. >Instead of going to sleep, you've been waiting for it to show a certain set of numbers, which it now currently does.
  5702. >You take this as your cue to get out of bed and walk over to Adagio's door.
  5703. >Without hesitation, you open it and walk in to find her sitting up watching tv, just as you knew she would be.
  5704. >Naturally, she's taken by surprise.
  5705. >"Anon?!"
  5706. >She mutes the tv, places the remote on the nightstand, and turns the lamp on.
  5707. >The room is filled with warm, but soft light.
  5708. >You close the door.
  5709. >"What do you think you're doing?"
  5710. >You stare at her for a moment before replying.
  5711. "...I can't help it, Adagio. I just can't hold myself back anymore."
  5712. >She gives you a look of confusion, until she recognizes the longing in your eyes.
  5713. >She points at you with a stern expression.
  5714. >"Hey! What did I say about permission-"
  5715. "That was yesterday."
  5716. >You point at her alarm clock on the nightstand.
  5717. >It reads 12:01.
  5718. >AM.
  5719. >"...You smartass bastard. You think you're so clever, don't you? But this doesn't mean anything. All I have to do is say I don't give permission for today either. Or the week, or the month, or the rest of my whole fucking life! Let's see you watch a clock after that."
  5720. >You walk up to the bed and stare her down.
  5721. "What if I don't care about permission?"
  5722. >She's shocked, but regains her composure.
  5723. >"Anon. Get out."
  5724. >You pull the blanket covering her off the bed and let it fall to the ground.
  5725. >"Anon!"
  5726. >Before she can react, you sit down on the bed, take hold of her by the shoulders and look her in the eyes.
  5727. "What if I don't care about the right moment, about your past, or any other girl! What if all I care about is you, Adagio?"
  5728. >She falters at your proclamation of determined love.
  5729. >"I don't... I-!"
  5730. >Without warning, you pull her to you and kiss her.
  5731. >"Mmph!"
  5732. >It's a rough, brutish kiss as she fights against it.
  5733. >But slowly...
  5734. >Instead of pushing, her arms loosen.
  5735. >Instead of holding back, her hands tightly grip.
  5736. >Instead of pulling away, she comes closer.
  5737. >Until she's finally embracing you.
  5738. >And the kiss... becomes soft...
  5739. >When you feel she's given in completely, you pull your lips away, so that you can look into her eyes again.
  5740. >They stare back at you, forlorn and misty, while she breathes hard.
  5741. >Suddenly, she pushes you away to the other side of the bed.
  5742. >"I HATE YOU, ANON! ...I hate you... so much..."
  5743. >She gives you a look of anguish as her eyes begin to water.
  5744. >You sit there, not sure of what to do now.
  5745. >"...Because I..."
  5746. >Just as abruptly as you were pushed away, she jumps on top of you and kisses you deeply.
  5747. >She forcefully takes hold of you, pulling you closer to her as she dominates the kiss.
  5748. >You struggle to sit up with her and fight for control, until you're now on even terms.
  5749. >She continues to hold you tightly, squeezing you up against her.
  5750. >Again, you feel every curve of a girl's body, but this time, you enjoy and revel in every inch of her.
  5751. >You bury your hands into the dense, soft hair you've been dying to touch again, placing one hand on the back of her head, while leaving the other free to caress and move through it.
  5752. >This causes her to moan into your mouth, bringing your attention back to her lips.
  5753. >They're incredibly full and supple, encouraging your greed for more sensations.
  5754. >Her entire body is so soft, warm and inviting, that you're reminded of the moment she first hugged you.
  5755. >Your complete embrace of each other brings back that exact feeling, but it washes over you tenfold.
  5756. >And in all this, she goes through everything you do as well.
  5757. >You can feel it.
  5758. >You've both melted into each other with a passion so deep, your dreams could never hope to compare.
  5759. >But finally, your lust consumes you and overpowers her own, as you push her to lay down on her back.
  5760. >She fights against it at first, so you exert more of your strength, until she willingly gives in to your dominance, and allows herself to be pushed down onto the bed.
  5761. >You pin down her arms and lay on top of her with all your body weight, while letting a deep moan pass from your mouth into hers.
  5762. >This causes her entire body to shudder in ecstasy underneath you, as she moans back in response.
  5763. >To her dismay, you release her lips and pull away to gaze at her once again.
  5764. >Her mouth hangs open and her chest rises and falls, desperate for air.
  5765. >But it's her eyes that tell what you want to know.
  5766. >The way she's looking back at you...
  5767. >She's yours.
  5768. >At this very moment, though she may never say it out loud, she reciprocates all of your own feelings.
  5769. >Satisfied more than you can verbally express, you delve into her lips again, and she lustfully welcomes you back.
  5770. >There will be no words between you.
  5771. >There's no need.
  5772. >All of your emotions are passed onto each other without them.
  5773. >And they will be explored and deepened... throughout these morning hours...
  5774.  
  5775.  
  5776. >You are Adagio.
  5777. >Awoken by a knocking at your door.
  5778. >Morning light permeates your window curtain ever so slightly.
  5779. >The door slowly creeks open, and two girls you had completely forgotten about, along with the rest of the world, peek in.
  5780. >You pull up on your thick blanket, making sure you're covered up to your shoulders by it.
  5781. >"Adagio? Are you okay? It's late morning and Anon isn't in his-!"
  5782. >Sonata gasps, followed by Aria.
  5783. >They swing the door open and point towards you.
  5784. >"Holy shit!"
  5785. >Aria blurts out.
  5786. >"A-anon is in... in bed with you... naked!"
  5787. >Sonata stammers with wide eyes, pointing at both your and Anon's pajamas on the floor.
  5788. >Anon was also under the blanket, laying next to you at your backside with his arms wrapped around you.
  5789. >Aria laughs so hard and quick, she makes a loud snort, before pointing at you again.
  5790. >"You two TOTALLY fucked! There's no denying it this time! What do you have to say, Adagio?"
  5791. >To their surprise, and even your own, you giggle before replying with a small smile.
  5792. "I don't care."
  5793. >They're both shocked.
  5794. >"Y-you don't?"
  5795. >Sonata asks.
  5796. >"Well... damn... that's no fun."
  5797. >Aria says disappointed.
  5798. >"But hey! What about breakfast? My stomach's gotten too used to good food at this time of day for Gus to be in a sex coma with you all morning!"
  5799. >She complains.
  5800. >Sonata looks at Anon in thought, before she lights up with a smile and raises her hand.
  5801. >"Ooo, ooo! Anon! Captain! Permission to not only resume duties in the kitchen, but to also take temporary command!"
  5802. >Anon slowly lets go of you with one of his hands to lift it up and wave dismissively.
  5803. >"Permission granted."
  5804. >He groans out, then returns the hand to it's place around you.
  5805. >"Aye aye, sir!"
  5806. >Sonata salutes.
  5807. >"Come on, Aria! You can be MY sous chef!"
  5808. >She skips away happily from the door.
  5809. >"Oh, hell no! I'll help you, but I am not your sous chef, Sonata!"
  5810. >Aria shouts before closing your door and following after her.
  5811. >Peace and quiet once again fills your room.
  5812. >...
  5813. "You don't think they'll start a fire, do you?"
  5814. >"Naw... they'll be fine."
  5815. >Anon tightens his grasp on you and pulls you closer, then buries his face into the back of your head with a content sigh.
  5816. >You feel his warm breath flow through your hair and onto the back of your neck.
  5817. >You place your hands on his arms with a smile... and easily...
  5818. >Fall back asleep...
  5819.  
  5820. >A few hours later, you open your eyes again and sit up.
  5821. >Anon stirs a bit, while you check your phone on the nightstand.
  5822. >A text message from Sonata...
  5823. "The girls left. They got picked up by the idiot six."
  5824. >"No wonder it's so quiet."
  5825. >He sits up and drapes his arms around you.
  5826. >"Since they're off having fun, why don't we spend the day together, just the two of us. We can go have dinner and catch a movie."
  5827. "You mean like a date?"
  5828. >"Yeah!"
  5829. >You push him off you.
  5830. "Forget it. I'm not doing any of that crap with you."
  5831. >But he comes right back on you, and even starts nuzzling your face with his own.
  5832. >"C'mon, Dagi, I've been wanting to take you out. It'll be fun."
  5833. "Uughh..."
  5834. >You groan loudly.
  5835. >He starts giving you light kisses on your cheek.
  5836. >"You still want that cake, don't you?"
  5837. "...You'll have to sweeten the deal."
  5838. >His kisses become heavier and make their way down your neck, to your shoulder.
  5839. >You shudder a bit as you hold in a moan.
  5840. >"How about if I give you my umbrella? I'll even put an orange bow on it."
  5841. "Hmm... that thing has proven to be more useful than you and the girls."
  5842. >You both share a bit of laughter.
  5843. "Fine."
  5844. >He mimics Sonata with a hug.
  5845. >"Yaaay!"
  5846. >He lets go of you to get off the bed and put on his pajamas.
  5847. >"I'll call and make us a reservation."
  5848. >You reach for your own pajamas.
  5849. "You do that."
  5850.  
  5851. >Anon makes a late breakfast for the both of you.
  5852. >You spend the rest of the afternoon watching cooking shows with him on the couch.
  5853. >And he even gets you to play a bit of that stupid Zelda game.
  5854. >It was actually pretty amusing... but you'll never admit that.
  5855. >What's really amazing is how good you feel.
  5856. >Your body feels lighter.
  5857. >All the stress and tension you usually have is just... gone.
  5858. >They've been replaced with an overwhelming sense of relaxed calm.
  5859. >...It's been so long.
  5860. >You'd forgotten what it felt like.
  5861. >Now you feel even more guilty for making fun of Anon.
  5862. >Turns out you needed to be 'relieved' just as much.
  5863.  
  5864. >After taking a shower it's time to put on an outfit.
  5865. >Your first impulse is to just slip on a fresh pair of jeans and a clean hoodie.
  5866. >Though you did enjoy dressing up yesterday.
  5867. >And Anon is probably expecting you to wear something nice.
  5868. >Not that you care.
  5869. >But if Anon dresses up and you don't, it won't look right...
  5870. >So you go through your closet and put something simple together.
  5871. >Black high heels, black skirt, white belt, purple sleeveless blouse, no hair band.
  5872. >Good enough.
  5873. >With your outfit and makeup on, you walk out to Anon in the living room.
  5874. >As you guessed, he's wearing a nice outfit too.
  5875. >Formal shoes, slacks, and a dress shirt.
  5876. >He looks... really good.
  5877. >But you'll never admit that.
  5878.  
  5879. >A car ride later, you're sitting in a booth across from Anon, in an italian restaurant downtown.
  5880. >Your waiter comes over with the drinks you ordered, and takes out a notepad and pen.
  5881. >"Alright, you two ready to order?"
  5882. >You motion over to Anon.
  5883. "He's apparently already decided for the both of us."
  5884. >Anon points at the menu in his hand.
  5885. >"We'll both have the chicken parmesan with the vodka cream sauce. And for dessert, the tiramisu."
  5886. >The waiter takes your menus and leaves.
  5887. >Anon stares at you with a smile.
  5888. "So, Anon, why an italian restaurant?"
  5889. >"Because it's romantic!"
  5890. >You roll your eyes.
  5891. >"Oh c'mon! This place has a great atmosphere! Doesn't a candlelit dinner do anything for you?"
  5892. "Not especially."
  5893. >"Just wait till the food gets here, then you'll change your tune."
  5894. "Sure."
  5895.  
  5896. >To stave off boredom, you make conversation with Anon as best you can.
  5897. >Not that there was much you cared to talk about.
  5898. >It only got interesting when you both started talking shit about your fellow CHS students.
  5899. "And now Flash is in love with Twilight, who's not just a princess, but a PONY princess from equestria! Soo... he's got no fucking chance!"
  5900. >Anon shakes his head with a grin.
  5901. >"At all."
  5902. >You both laugh.
  5903. "That's so pathetic, I almost feel sorry for him!"
  5904. >You continue to laugh.
  5905. >"Hey, I actually do! We both share an interest in girls from another world, so I understand the poor guy."
  5906. "Oh! Oh that's right! You DO both have that in common, hmm? Well... you're just lucky I'm stuck here."
  5907. >You tease before taking a sip of your drink.
  5908. >Anon crosses his arms with a smug smile.
  5909. >"Ehh... I don't think I'd have anything to worry about now. You're hooked on me."
  5910. >You almost do a spit take.
  5911. "Pfft! Don't flatter yourself! Yeah, last night was amazing, but you don't think that if I had a way to get back home, I wouldn't leave your green ass in a manehatten second?"
  5912. >"Nahhh! You wouldn't... well..."
  5913. >He places a hand on his chin, and starts stroking it while nodding.
  5914. >"Maybe... maybe you would."
  5915. >You nod along with him.
  5916. "Yeah, I THINK I would!"
  5917. >You burst out laughing together.
  5918. >Anon's phone suddenly goes off with the sound of a text message.
  5919. >When he looks at it, his laughter stops dead, and his eyes go wide.
  5920. >As he tries to type something back, he gets two more texts.
  5921. >His panic seems to get worse.
  5922. "What's wrong? You look as if you've seen a pale white ghost from a cartoon."
  5923. >He chuckles nervously.
  5924. >"You could say that..."
  5925. >You raise an eyebrow.
  5926. "What?"
  5927. >"N-nothing."
  5928. >He continues to tap away at his phone with extreme concentration.
  5929. "Who is it?"
  5930. >"Nothing!"
  5931. "It's someone named 'Nothing'?"
  5932. >"I mean it's no one! It's... just the guys. Asking if I wanna hang out."
  5933. >Anon pockets his phone.
  5934. >This is suspicious as hell.
  5935. >You want to find out more, but the waiter arrives with your food.
  5936. >"Your chicken, miss. Careful, the plate is very hot."
  5937. >He lays the large plate in front of you.
  5938. "Oh, thank you."
  5939. >Eh, fuck it.
  5940. >You're too hungry to bother anymore.
  5941.  
  5942. >You finished off your meal and dessert.
  5943. >Anon knew what he was doing, everything was delicious.
  5944. >He paid for the dinner, and another car trip later, you're now outside the movie theater.
  5945. >It was a bit busy, since it was a saturday night, but nothing too bad.
  5946. >You both wait your turn in line, until you make it to the ticket booth.
  5947. >The girl behind the glass greets you with a smile.
  5948. >"Hello."
  5949. >"Hi."
  5950. >Anon looks over the showtimes.
  5951. >"Uh... whens the next showing of that romance movie?"
  5952. >Before the girl can answer, you shove Anon aside.
  5953. "I'm not gonna see that crap."
  5954. >"You won't? What else would you wanna see? The comedy?"
  5955. "The last thing that'll do is make me laugh."
  5956. >"So then...?"
  5957. >You address the girl directly.
  5958. "Hey, is there any movies playing where a lot of people die horribly? Preferably while screaming in terror?"
  5959. >Anon facepalms, while the girl seems shaken.
  5960. >"U-um... there's... there's that world disaster movie showing in ten minutes, i-if you'd like."
  5961. >She reminds you of Fluttershy.
  5962. "That'll work. Two for that."
  5963. >Anon silently slips money under the glass in exchange for the tickets, but he mouths the words 'sorry' to the girl.
  5964. >This causes you to press up against the glass and give the girl an evil smile.
  5965. "When you get home later tonight, check under your bed. I may already be there."
  5966. >"Aahh!"
  5967. >The Fluttershy clone yelps in fear.
  5968. >"ADAGIO!"
  5969. >Anon drags you inside by the arm, while you give her a crazed look and laugh like a madman.
  5970. >When you're sure she can't see you anymore, you laugh for real.
  5971. >Anon isn't amused.
  5972. >"That was terrible!"
  5973. "Oh please! You expect that from me."
  5974. >"Just because that's true doesn't make it any better!"
  5975. >You pass by the concession stand.
  5976. >"You want any snacks or candy?"
  5977. "God no. I'm full."
  5978. >Anon grows a cheeky smile.
  5979. >"You sure? They've got fresh popcorn with cheese puff dust~"
  5980. "Don't you DARE fucking start, Anon!"
  5981.  
  5982. >You find some seats in the empty section of the theater, so you can enjoy some space.
  5983. >The movie is okay so far, lots of people dying every other minute.
  5984. >But there is a romance subplot between the teenagers that makes you want to gag.
  5985. >Halfway through, you find yourself shaking and rubbing your arms.
  5986. >Fuck it's cold in here!
  5987. >You should've worn a jacket on top of your blouse.
  5988. >This is what you get for trying to be sexy for Anon.
  5989. >Almost right away, he notices.
  5990. >"Are you cold?"
  5991. "I'm fine."
  5992. >"No you're not. Come here."
  5993. "What?"
  5994. >Anon lifts up the armrest separating your seats, turning them into a makeshift loveseat.
  5995. >He then grabs hold of you and pulls you over to him, placing your back on his chest.
  5996. "A-anon!"
  5997. >He starts rubbing your arms and hands with his own.
  5998. >You want to protest and move away... but...
  5999. >It does feel good.
  6000. >You've stopped shaking.
  6001. >And you're already warming up...
  6002. >You relax and lay your head back on his shoulder.
  6003. >...Damn it...
  6004.  
  6005. >The movie ends and you walk outside to the parking lot.
  6006. "That ending was bullshit."
  6007. >"What are you talking about? Humanity survived and will continue to go on. It was a bittersweet ending."
  6008. "Exactly! Everyone should've died! What did I pay for? I want my money back!"
  6009. >"I payed for your ticket!"
  6010. "That's besides the point!"
  6011. >You're halfway to the car now.
  6012. "...Anon."
  6013. >"Yeah?"
  6014. "Thanks... for keeping me warm in there."
  6015. >Anon puts on another cheeky smile.
  6016. >"Uhh, okay? But I didn't do that for you. I was cold myself, and your hair is, like, the best portable blanket in the worl-OOF!"
  6017. >You jab Anon in the stomach with your elbow.
  6018. >Hard.
  6019. >He stops walking to keel over a bit, while you continue towards the car.
  6020. "I'm tired. Take me home."
  6021. >"R-right..."
  6022.  
  6023. >Anon opens the front door to the house and lets you walk in first.
  6024. >You look around and listen for a moment.
  6025. >...
  6026. "Seems like the girls aren't home yet-!"
  6027. >Anon suddenly turns you around and kisses you deeply.
  6028. >"What was that? We're home alone, so we can be as loud as we want? Is that what you said?"
  6029. "Y-yeah... that's what I said."
  6030. >He picks you up princess style and carries you over to his bed.
  6031. >Another night of passion...
  6032. >You could get used to this.
  6033.  
  6034.  
  6035. >You are Anon.
  6036. >You wake up.
  6037. >In your own bed this time.
  6038. >But just like yesterday, Adagio is at your side.
  6039. >It's crazy how happy that makes you.
  6040. >You sit up and gently shake her.
  6041. "Dagi. Dagi, wake up. You have to get up now or it'll be harder to go to school tomorrow."
  6042. >"Mmmmm..."
  6043. >She groans with a scrunched up face.
  6044. >There's a cheerful knock at your door with a cheerful voice to go along with it.
  6045. >"Anon! Adagio! I'm coming in!"
  6046. >Sonata lets herself in with a smile.
  6047. >You were both expecting this, so you put on your pajamas before you fell asleep this time.
  6048. >"Oh good! You guys are up!"
  6049. "Yeah, I am, but..."
  6050. >You motion over to the still half asleep Adagio.
  6051. >Sonata shakes her legs through the blanket.
  6052. >"Get up, Dagi! I'm gonna bring in the trays!"
  6053. "Trays?"
  6054. >Sonata runs off, and comes back with a tray holding some plates and a glass of juice.
  6055. >"I made you lovebirds breakfast in bed!"
  6056. "Aw, Sonata, you didn't have to do this."
  6057. >You tell her as she hands it to you.
  6058. >Pancakes and scrambled eggs.
  6059. >It's simple, but it looks good.
  6060. >"I know, but I wanted to. Lemme go get Dagi's!"
  6061. >She runs back out.
  6062. >Adagio slowly sits up and rubs her eyes.
  6063. >Sonata returns with an exact copy of what she gave you, and places it on Adagio's lap.
  6064. >"Taste it while it's still hot!"
  6065. >Adagio looks at the food questioningly, but her expression changes to delightful surprise upon her first bite.
  6066. >"This is pretty good, Sonata. I'm... I'm impressed."
  6067. >"I have been paying attention to what Anon teaches me ya know!"
  6068. "And all of your hard work has paid off, my faithful Sous Chef."
  6069. >"Aye, sir!"
  6070. >She salutes proudly.
  6071. "I assume you've already made breakfast for Aria and yourself?"
  6072. >"Yep! So you have nothing to worry about!"
  6073. "Where is Aria?"
  6074. >"She's playing Zelda."
  6075. "Of course. Very good. You're dismissed, Sous Chef."
  6076. >"Aye, sir!"
  6077. >Adagio waves her fork between you and Sonata.
  6078. >"You know, if it wasn't for all the sex I had last night, I'd be tearing both of your throats out right now."
  6079. >"Oh, Dagi, I'm happy you had sex too!"
  6080. >"Goddammit, Sonata!"
  6081. >You're all caught off guard by a sudden booming voice from down the hall.
  6082. >"HEY! WHO THE FUCK PLAYED MY LEGEND OF TEDDY GAME WITHOUT ME?!"
  6083. >Not missing a beat, Sonata angrily yells right back.
  6084. >"IT'S THE LEGEND OF ZELDA!"
  6085. >Well, this is a lively way to start the day.
  6086. >And Rarity is still coming over for her hair wash.
  6087. >But you've come up with a plan to handle that.
  6088.  
  6089. >"So, let me get this straight. You wanna make beef stroganoff for dinner tonight?"
  6090. >Aria asks with crossed arms.
  6091. "Uh-huh."
  6092. >"And you want us to go get all the ingredients?"
  6093. "Yep."
  6094. >"Sounds like a hassle."
  6095. >She says looking over to Adagio, both of them wearing frowns.
  6096. >Sonata, on the other hand, bounces with a smile.
  6097. >"Sounds like fun to me!"
  6098. >With pen in hand, you use the kitchen counter to put the finishing touches on a large sheet of paper, before handing it to Aria.
  6099. "Here, I've made this shopping list easy to read and detailed, so you won't have any problems finding anything."
  6100. >Before she can go over it, Sonata grabs hold of one side of the list to read it as well, squeezing into Aria's side.
  6101. >"Do you mind?!"
  6102. >Aria growls.
  6103. >"What? No, I don't mind sharing!"
  6104. >Sonata smiles as she goes back to reading.
  6105. >Aria lets out a heavy sigh while fixing her eyes towards the paper's angle.
  6106. >Adagio also reads the list over their shoulders.
  6107. >As the seconds go by, the girls' eyes go wide, while showing differing expressions.
  6108. >Adagio's is a questioning, raised eyebrow.
  6109. >Aria's is a mix of annoyance and anger.
  6110. >Sonata's is excited joy.
  6111. >You lean back against the counter, waiting for the inevitable protest.
  6112. >When Aria's eyes reach the bottom of the list, they dart up and down a few times as she finally speaks up.
  6113. >"This... this list is for three different stores!"
  6114. "That's right."
  6115. >"That's bullshit, Anon!"
  6116. "Look, I'm not just making any beef stroganoff, I'm making the best I can. And to do that, I need the best ingredients from each store."
  6117. >"But this is going to take HOURS!"
  6118. >Yes.
  6119. >Yes it will, Aria.
  6120. >Exactly as planned.
  6121. "That's only because I put down the ingredients for the desserts too. You do want your cakes, cookies, and puddings, don't you?"
  6122. >Aria falters a bit, while Sonata drools from the corner of her mouth and raises her hand.
  6123. >"I do, I do!"
  6124. >"I do too, but why should we get stuck with this? You're the cook!"
  6125. >You motion around the kitchen.
  6126. "I have to clean and prep the kitchen to get it ready for everything. That's a job in itself. Come on guys, lets make this a team effort."
  6127. >"Woo team!"
  6128. >Sonata cheers.
  6129. >Adagio crosses her arms.
  6130. >"Too bad for you, the only team I play for is myself."
  6131. >"Damn it, that should be MY line!"
  6132. >Aria grumbles.
  6133. >Seems like Dagi has no intentions of going to the store.
  6134. >You expected that, and it's easily taken care of.
  6135. "But, Dagi, are you really okay with sending these two alone?"
  6136. >"What do you mean?"
  6137. >She asks.
  6138. "Think about it. Aria and Sonata, going from store to store, with no one else watching them? What if they get into trouble? Who'll have to take responsibility?"
  6139. >You can see the realization dawn on Adagio.
  6140. >You can also see the offense Aria takes to your question.
  6141. >"What the fuck, Anon?! You're treating us like kids?! We don't need a babysitter!"
  6142. >You raise your hands in a calm manor.
  6143. "That's not what I meant. If it were either of you going alone, I know I could trust you. But this is a job for at least two people."
  6144. >"Soo... what's the problem?"
  6145. >Sonata asks with her finger on her chin.
  6146. "The problem, Sonata, is that you'd have to keep Aria's anger issues in check. Do you think you can do that?"
  6147. >"Umm-"
  6148. >"I DO NOT HAVE ANGER ISSUES! RAWGHHH!"
  6149. >Aria yells, fire practically shooting out of her mouth and eyes.
  6150. "And, Aria, do you think you could keep Sonata in check by yourself? You know how easily she can get distracted and lost."
  6151. >Aria places her hands on her hips.
  6152. >"Like I said, we're not kids. Sonata doesn't have that short of an attention spa-!"
  6153. >Aria is shocked to suddenly see Sonata has stuck her head inside one of your extra large oven mitts.
  6154. >"Look, Aria! It's like I've got three hands! Gimme five!"
  6155. >Sonata leans over to give Aria a better angle at her mitten face.
  6156. >Aria facepalms, stretching her face as she pulls her hand down.
  6157. >"Sonata, you really are... y'know what? Sure."
  6158. >If Sonata's eyes weren't covered up, she would be able to see Aria winding up her arm, and know to get out of the way.
  6159. >But alas, she's unaware until Aria's open hand makes contact.
  6160. >"OOWWW!"
  6161. >Sonata stumbles back a bit, before pulling the mitten off her face.
  6162. >Her hair is a mess now, but she's otherwise fine, thanks to the oven mitt being so thick and cushioned.
  6163. >"Hey! You didn't have to do it so hard!"
  6164. >"Yeah I did! That's the point of a high five!"
  6165. >"No it's not!"
  6166. >"Yes it is!"
  6167. >Adagio interrupts the argument by stepping in between them.
  6168. >"Thank you, girls, for proving Anon's point so throughly!"
  6169. >You smile.
  6170. "So, does that mean?"
  6171. >"Yes, I'll go with them. The last thing I need is for these two to topple over a mountain of glass pickle jars like a cartoon gag."
  6172. >"That would never happen!"
  6173. >Aria insists.
  6174. >"Yeah, Aria's right! I don't even like pickles!"
  6175. >Agrees Sonata.
  6176. >Adagio pinches the bridge of her nose.
  6177. >"Let's just get this over with."
  6178. >"At least let me drive this time."
  6179. >Aria says with her hand held out to you.
  6180.  
  6181. >"Bye, Anon!"
  6182. >Sonata waves, sticking her head and arms out of the back seat window.
  6183. >You see the girls off with a wave of your own as they drive away.
  6184. >Operation 'Grocery Distraction' is a go.
  6185. >Walking back into the house, you take out your phone and text Rarity to come over.
  6186. >And in what seems like no time at all, she pulls into your driveway.
  6187. >She's driving a deep blue BMW suv.
  6188. >What is it with girls and suvs anyways?
  6189. >She gets out of her vehicle, and you open the door to greet her.
  6190. "Hey, Rarity."
  6191. >"Anon, darling!"
  6192. >She says with a shining smile.
  6193. >You lead her into the house, where she takes an observing look around.
  6194. >"Your house is quite nice, Anon. But it's awfully quiet. Where are the girls?"
  6195. "Oh, they're out doing some grocery shopping. Won't be back for a while."
  6196. >"That's a shame! I was hoping to have some girl talk with them to complete the salon experience."
  6197. "Can't be helped, they keep me pretty busy in the kitchen."
  6198. >"Well then, you'll just have to do. Got any good gossip?"
  6199. >She asks with her sly smile.
  6200. "None that you don't already know."
  6201. >You reply with a sly smile of your own.
  6202. >"Touché."
  6203. "So then, if you're ready, I'll show you where the 'magic' happens."
  6204. >"Please do. I would hope everything is in order, since I did text you to confirm my appointment yesterday."
  6205. "Of course, your text... definitely left an impression on me."
  6206. >You were terrified Adagio would somehow get a peek at Rarity's messages.
  6207. >Rarity follows you to the laundry room, where you have all of the usual setup prepared.
  6208. >"So this is Salon Mous, hmm?"
  6209. "Are you disappointed?"
  6210. >"Not at all! This is just as quaint as I imaged it. You seem to have everything you'd need for-! Ooo!"
  6211. >Rarity has taken an interest with the shampoo bottle, picking it up with a smile.
  6212. >"I can't believe it! You use FourLeaf shampoo and conditioner?!"
  6213. "Yeah, it's pretty much the best you can get without importing."
  6214. >She raises an eyebrow while giving you a knowing smile.
  6215. >"And do you know why this shampoo is so good?"
  6216. "Because it's actually a subsidiary of a shampoo made in japan called TwoLeaf."
  6217. >"That's right! FourLeaf is the exact formula as the japanese TwoLeaf, but it only costs HALF the price! It's an absolute bargain!"
  6218. >She says in a giddy voice.
  6219. >"I am very impressed with you, Anon! I knew you were a true stylist! I'm so excited, can we start right now?"
  6220. "Sure, just take a seat."
  6221. >You motion to the stool.
  6222. >"Gladly."
  6223. >She sits down slowly, making sure her skirt is tucked under her legs properly.
  6224. >You turn on the overhead lights, and stand behind her.
  6225. >You dig your hands into her purple hair and fluff it up, while also rubbing it between your fingers.
  6226. >This feeling... it's like... running your hands through silk.
  6227. >You've never felt hair that was so well taken care of before.
  6228. "Rarity... I don't understand."
  6229. >"Understand what, dear?"
  6230. "Your hair... it's already perfect."
  6231. >She giggles.
  6232. >"I didn't come here for flattery, darling."
  6233. "It's not flattery, I really don't know what more I could do for you."
  6234. >"Anon, you can do more than you think. Just do the best you can, that's all I ask."
  6235. >She says with a warm smile.
  6236. >You sigh.
  6237. "Alright, I'll try."
  6238.  
  6239. >"We're hoooome!"
  6240. >Sonata chimes as she walks inside holding grocery bags.
  6241. "I know, I'm the one who opened you the door."
  6242. >"Well it's still fun to say."
  6243. >She continues on towards the kitchen, while Aria and Adagio walk inside.
  6244. >"Don't just stand there, help us get the-!"
  6245. >You're already making your way towards the car before Adagio can finish complaining.
  6246. >The trunk is filled to the brim with groceries.
  6247. >Same goes for the backseat, where there's just enough room for Sonata to fit on the far end.
  6248. >You pick up a few bags in each hand, but wait long enough for Adagio to come back for another bag run of her own.
  6249. "Were you saying something, Dagi? Couldn't hear you, since I was on my way to help with these."
  6250. >You ask smugly.
  6251. >She grinds her teeth at you.
  6252. >"Yes, actually."
  6253. >She answers annoyed, bending over to the trunk.
  6254. >"I was saying-"
  6255. >She takes hold of some bags.
  6256. >"Stop being such a-"
  6257. >She lifts them up and turns to you.
  6258. >"Smartass-?!"
  6259. >You're already back inside the house.
  6260. >"ANON!"
  6261. >She yells after you.
  6262. >Sonata and Aria laugh.
  6263.  
  6264. >Once all the groceries are brought inside, the girls sit at the kitchen table with cold glasses of punch.
  6265. >You finish going through all the bags, making sure they didn't miss anything.
  6266. "Looks like everything's here. Good job, guys."
  6267. >"It took us three hours to get all that."
  6268. >Adagio says rubbing her face.
  6269. >"What a hassle."
  6270. >Aria adds slumped in her seat.
  6271. "It couldn't have been that bad?"
  6272. >"Aria got into a fight with an old lady!"
  6273. >"Hey! She was trying to take the last carton of milk! I wasn't gonna let that happen. And look who's talking! You're the one who held up the line at the register!"
  6274. >Aria protests.
  6275. >"The store wasn't accepting my coupon!"
  6276. >Adagio fires back.
  6277. >"It was for twenty five cents! I had a quarter in my pocket! We all did!"
  6278. >"It's the principal of refusing a valid coupon!"
  6279. >"You two really need to grow up."
  6280. >Sonata says calmly after taking a sip of her punch.
  6281. >"Shut up, Sonata! We're not the ones who started running the free sample stand!"
  6282. >Aria yells.
  6283. >"Someone had to! Shoppers come to the store expecting tasty free things on sticks and in little paper cups! It's an unwritten promise! Nay, a dream!"
  6284. >Sonata suddenly stands up, full of passion while clenching her fists.
  6285. >Adagio and Aria look up at her, dumbfounded.
  6286. >"And when I gave those people my miniature sausages, I fulfilled their dreams! I FILLED THEM WITH MY TINY WEINERS!"
  6287. >"WHAT THE FUCK, SONATA?!"
  6288. >Aria shouts standing up as well.
  6289. >Adagio pulls herself out of a facepalm when she notices you're nearly laughing to tears.
  6290. >Usually, hearing the girls acted like this would bother you.
  6291. >But, it may be that you've reached the point that you don't mind anymore.
  6292. >"You stop that! It's your fault we had to go through all this! You should have been there with us!"
  6293. "I know, I know. I appreciate what you three did, and I'll get to work on dinner right away."
  6294. >Sonata steps up to you and salutes.
  6295. >"Sous Chef Sonata, reporting for dinner duty in a few minutes!"
  6296. >You salute back.
  6297. "Aye, Sous Chef."
  6298. >She runs out of the kitchen.
  6299. >"Call me when it's ready, I have a dungeon to beat."
  6300. >Aria says as she walks out.
  6301. "Whatever, nerd."
  6302. >You mock with a grin.
  6303. >"No, you!"
  6304. >She points at you before she leaves sight.
  6305. >Adagio finishes her glass of punch and stands up.
  6306. >"I think I'll go take a shower."
  6307. >As she passes by, you wrap her in a tight hug from behind.
  6308. >She's taken by surprise, but only momentarily.
  6309. >"Anon?"
  6310. >You give her a squeeze and kiss her cheek.
  6311. "Just needed to hug and kiss the girl I love."
  6312. >You bury your face into the back of her head, pushing yourself into her soft curls.
  6313. >She blushes and sighs while placing her hands on your arms.
  6314. >She says nothing in response, but also doesn't try to escape your embrace.
  6315. >And that's good enough.
  6316. >Because once again, Rarity only proved to yourself how much you adore Adagio.
  6317. >Rarity is beautiful, with hair worthy of a princess.
  6318. >But that doesn't matter to you one bit.
  6319. >Some guys want a girl like Rarity, or any of the other Mane Six.
  6320. >Some guys are 'leg men.'
  6321. >Some guys are 'ass men.'
  6322. >You?
  6323. >You're a poof man.
  6324.  
  6325.  
  6326. >Monday.
  6327. >You're in Ms. Cheerilee's class as the bell signaling the end of the period rings.
  6328. >"Remember to turn in those reports by wednesday! For now, it's a free period all the way to lunchtime."
  6329. >The beautiful teacher announces to her students.
  6330. >They all give a soft cheer in reply.
  6331. >So, you've got some time to relax.
  6332. >Maybe you'll go hang out with Norman and the guys.
  6333. >You grab your backpack and head out into the hall.
  6334. >After stuffing it into your locker, you notice a group of girls having a heated discussion over their phones.
  6335. >It's Bon Bon, Lyra, Derpy and Octavia.
  6336. >For some reason, you've got a bad feeling.
  6337. >You walk over to them.
  6338. "Hey girls, what's all the excitement about?"
  6339. >"Anon! Look at this!"
  6340. >Lyra shows you her phone, and what's onscreen is your fears come true.
  6341. >It's a picture of Rarity on MyStable with the hair style you gave her.
  6342. >And it's got hundreds of likes!
  6343. >But you made her promise not to post any pictures.
  6344. >Did she lie to you?
  6345. >Wait...
  6346. "That isn't Rarity's MS?"
  6347. >"No, it's Blueberry Cake's. She took the picture and posted it without Rarity knowing."
  6348. >Bon Bon tells you.
  6349. >It does look like Rarity isn't paying attention to the camera.
  6350. >"Her hair looks even better than usual. Now everyone is asking Rarity where she had it done, but she's refusing to say."
  6351. >"Perhaps she wants to keep it a secret for herself?"
  6352. >Octavia muses.
  6353. >You know exactly where she had it done.
  6354. >Your mind's eye goes back to yesterday...
  6355.  
  6356. >You unfurl the last curl of Rarity's hair from the curling iron.
  6357. "There, it's done."
  6358. >You step in front of her to look over your work.
  6359. >"How do I look?"
  6360. >She asks with excitement.
  6361. "Come see for yourself."
  6362. >You beckon for the fourth time now.
  6363. >Rarity follows behind, as you lead her to and open the bathroom door.
  6364. >You step in and find the light switch, illuminating the room.
  6365. "Here you go, take a look into-!"
  6366. >Before you can finish, Rarity catches a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror, and instantly pushes you further into the bathroom to make way for herself.
  6367. >"WHA-HA-HA! I'M GORGEOUS!"
  6368. >She shouts hysterically, her hands pressed against the glass as if she were trying to make sure the image of herself was real.
  6369. >She begins to touch her hair and look at it from different angles.
  6370. >"This is amazing! My hair has never looked so fabulous!"
  6371. >You really have outdone yourself this time.
  6372. >Since her signature look was large curls, you decided to give her multiple, smaller ribbon curls.
  6373. >It turned out great.
  6374. "I take it you're happy with Salon Mous' service then?"
  6375. >"Oh, Anon!"
  6376. >She grabs you into a tight hug that's more like a headlock.
  6377. >You can barely breathe.
  6378. >"Thank you so much! I couldn't be happier!"
  6379. >You tap her shoulder a few times.
  6380. "A-air... air!"
  6381. >"Oopsie!"
  6382. >She quickly releases you, allowing your lungs to take in precious oxygen.
  6383. >"Sorry, dear! I'm a bit excited right now."
  6384. >She chuckles nervously.
  6385. >You rub your throat.
  6386. "I can tell."
  6387. >She looks at her reflection again and giggles with joy.
  6388. >"I have to post this!"
  6389. >She reaches into her skirt pocket and takes out her phone.
  6390. >But before she can do anything with it, you stop her.
  6391. "Please don't, Rarity."
  6392. >She gives you a look of utter confusion.
  6393. >"What? Why?"
  6394. "It's just... I don't want word of this getting out. It's not something I want to be known for."
  6395. >She composes herself, and addresses you with a serious look.
  6396. >"Anon, listen, it's not just a compliment, you REALLY do have talent for this."
  6397. >You roll your eyes.
  6398. "Not this again, Rarity. Need I remind you I don't even know how to cut hair? I can't be a true hair stylist."
  6399. >"You can learn! You have the potential to be so much more. This can be a real career for you."
  6400. "What, working in a salon downtown?"
  6401. >"Think bigger, darling! I'm talking about styling the hair of the rich and famous, the top runway models, the biggest celebrities in the world!"
  6402. "You're exaggerating a bit much, don't you think?"
  6403. >You dismiss.
  6404. >She takes hold of you by the shoulders, and forces you to look her in the eyes.
  6405. >"Anon, I mean it. I may be small in the fashion industry right now, but I know people. People who can open the doors to a whole new world. I can introduce you to them."
  6406. >You can tell Rarity isn't just laying it on thick, she really believes what she's saying.
  6407. >Before you can respond, you're taken by surprise when she suddenly moves her right hand up to your cheek.
  6408. >Her expression becomes softer.
  6409. >"I... I would follow you, darling. We could walk our paths together."
  6410. "Rarity..."
  6411. >You gently take her hand off your cheek, and turn your gaze away from her.
  6412. "I've... already decided to become a professional chef with my own restaurant someday."
  6413. >She lets your shoulder go with a look of disappointment, before forcing a dejected smile.
  6414. >"A master of cuisine, hmm? That is fashionable in it's own way."
  6415. "If you understand, please promise me you won't tell anyone about this. At least, not until I can get some things... sorted out."
  6416. >She expels a heavy sigh.
  6417. >"Okay, darling, for you I promise."
  6418. "Thanks, Rarity."
  6419. >With that settled, you walk her back to her car.
  6420. >She opens the driver's side door, but doesn't get in.
  6421. >She looks back to you with a smile.
  6422. >"You know, Anon... there's no reason you can't have the best of both worlds."
  6423. "What do you mean?"
  6424. >"Well, it's common these days for celebrities to be involved in, or even own a restaurant. If you were to gain connections as a hair stylist, who's to say it wouldn't help you to become an elite chef?"
  6425. >...Holy shit.
  6426. >You've never thought of that.
  6427. >You rub your chin as you look down in deep thought.
  6428. "You're... you're right. I can't deny it."
  6429. >"Hmmm."
  6430. >She hums out with a smug face.
  6431. >"Would it be acceptable If I go out on the town with my superb hairdo? If anyone asks, I won't mention Salon Mous."
  6432. "Huh? Oh! Of course! Go enjoy your day."
  6433. >"Also... may I have a promise in return?"
  6434. >You raise an eyebrow.
  6435. "Depends, what is it?"
  6436. >She motions with her index finger for you to come closer.
  6437. >You lean over to her, but instead of whispering, you get a kiss on the cheek.
  6438. >Damn it, she tricked you again.
  6439. >"Consider everything I said, okay?"
  6440. >She asks with a glowing smile.
  6441. "Y-yeah, I'll think about it."
  6442. >"Good."
  6443. >She gets into her suv, starts it up, and rolls down the window.
  6444. >"Thank you for today, Anon. I'll see you tomorrow at school."
  6445. >She waves and pulls out of your driveway.
  6446. >You wave back, and when she's out of eyesight, you allow yourself to rub the spot she kissed.
  6447. >You're still not interested in Rarity like that, but...
  6448. >She was so warm and accepting of you.
  6449. >It makes you wish that Adagio would-
  6450.  
  6451. >"Hey! Maybe if we take her shopping, we can butter her up into telling us who the hair stylist is!"
  6452. >You're snapped back to the present by Derpy's words.
  6453. >There's nothing you can do about that picture now.
  6454. >What's done is done.
  6455. >All you've got is damage control.
  6456. >The problem is that by now, everyone has seen it, including your own three stooges.
  6457. >And knowing Adagio, she's not going to take this well.
  6458. >You've got to find Rarity to help her come up with a good excuse, and to warn her of Adagio.
  6459. "Say, do you guys have any idea where Rarity might be?"
  6460. >"They normally use the music room for band practice before lunch, I see no reason why today would be different."
  6461. >Octavia answers.
  6462. "Thanks."
  6463. >You dash off for the music room, reaching it quickly.
  6464. >As you place your hand onto it's door, everything seems fine.
  6465. >You feel confident you've gotten here before trouble could start.
  6466. "Rarity! We need to talk about-!"
  6467. >But as you swing the heavy, sound proof door of the music room open, your eyes relay to you a scene that's anything but fine.
  6468. >The entire Mane Six stand at one end of the room, while Adagio is confronting Rarity directly across from her.
  6469. >They both look extremely upset.
  6470. >Sunset stands in between them, trying to calm them down.
  6471. >Meanwhile, Sonata is behind Adagio, and Aria chooses to sit down on the platform steps.
  6472. >Sonata and Aria look oddly calm compared to the rest of the room.
  6473. >All eyes are now on you, as the door closes behind you.
  6474. >"Asparagus! I should've known you'd crawl your way here!"
  6475. >Adagio shouts at you.
  6476. >Pinkie, not able to hold back, lets you know just how far this has gotten.
  6477. >"Hey, Nonny! Is it true you washed and styled Adagio's, Aria's, Sonata's AND Rarity's hair?!"
  6478. >Well shit.
  6479. >Now the entire school is going to know about this.
  6480. >The only thing left is to try and smooth things out with Adagio.
  6481. "Adagio, listen, I didn't want to wash Rarity's hair, but she found out and-"
  6482. >"This isn't just about the hair!"
  6483. >Adagio cuts you off, giving you a look of pure disgust and shaking with anger.
  6484. >"Someone... someone said they saw you come out of a locked bedroom with Rarity at Vinyl's house!"
  6485. >Oh no.
  6486. >"And I remember you having one of your shirt buttons undone after going upstairs!"
  6487. >Oh god no.
  6488. >Applejack, Rainbow, Fluttershy, and Pinkie all gasp.
  6489. >"Whoa nelly!"
  6490. >"No way!"
  6491. >"O-oh my."
  6492. >"Bow chicka bow wow."
  6493. >Fuck's sake Pinkie.
  6494. >Sunset looks concerned.
  6495. >Rarity's unfazed.
  6496. >But it's Sonata and Aria's shocked reactions that get you.
  6497. >"A-anon?"
  6498. >Sonata says sadly.
  6499. >"Dude?!"
  6500. >Aria stands up.
  6501. >They've all got the wrong idea.
  6502. >You have to set it straight.
  6503. "It's not-"
  6504. >"Hold on just a moment! I have a question."
  6505. >Rarity interrupts with a raised hand, addressing Adagio.
  6506. >"Now, from what I understand, the girls and you are living in Anon's house until you can find a new residence. But, how does what Anon and I do together concern you, pray tell?"
  6507. >"Hey, yeah, why are ya makin' such a fuss over these two?"
  6508. >AJ asks, backing up her friend.
  6509. >Adagio is caught off guard, the tables now turned.
  6510. >"T-that's..."
  6511. >You hoped she'd announce clearly that you two are a couple, but instead, she falters.
  6512. >It hurts more than you want to admit.
  6513. >Seeing this, Sunset takes it upon herself to answer the question.
  6514. >"Anon and Adagio are going out."
  6515. >Somehow, this causes a bigger reaction than hearing about you and Rarity in a locked room.
  6516. >"Adagio?!"
  6517. >AJ starts.
  6518. >"In love?!"
  6519. >Fluttershy continues.
  6520. >"With a boy?!"
  6521. >Rainbow finishes.
  6522. >"Bow chicka what now?!"
  6523. >Pinkie shouts with her hands on her head.
  6524. >"Golly! Never thought I'd see the day."
  6525. >AJ says as she takes off her hat in amazement.
  6526. >"Pfft, I don't think anyone did!"
  6527. >Rainbow adds.
  6528. >Rarity had kept her composer throughout this, but it's now shattered.
  6529. >"I-I had no idea! If I had known, I never would have approached Anon like that! I..."
  6530. >She seems especially shook up, and gives you a sad look.
  6531. >Aria and Sonata aren't surprised at all, of course.
  6532. >How did Sunset know?
  6533. >Adagio is giving her a glare that seems to be a mix of anger and embarrassment.
  6534. >And after looking around the room with a blushing face, that glare lands on you.
  6535. >"W-well, Anon?! What do you have to say for yourself?!"
  6536. >Is it your turn to talk?
  6537. >Finally?
  6538. >Goddamn.
  6539. >You take a deep breath in and out to calm yourself, and muster up a clear, serious voice.
  6540. "Nothing happened. Rarity was just messing with me as a trick to admitting the hair washing. Then she made an appointment for herself, after I refused. That's it."
  6541. >"It's true."
  6542. >Rarity confirms immediately.
  6543. >"Anon had... no interest in me at all..."
  6544. >That seemed hard for her to say.
  6545. >"And regardless, I wouldn't have taken it any further than teasing anyway."
  6546. >Sonata and Aria are immensely relieved to hear this.
  6547. >Sonata lets herself grow a small smile, while Aria sighs out a heavy puff of air that she'd been holding since she stood up.
  6548. >Adagio also shows a face of relief, but only briefly, before continuing to glare at you.
  6549. >"This is all your fault!"
  6550. >You raise your hands in protest.
  6551. "My fault?!"
  6552. >"If you hadn't been so stupid and slipped up with getting caught washing hair, none of this would've happened in the first place! You constantly make mistakes, and you're still messing up! You're an idiot, and this is-"
  6553. >"ALL YOUR FAULT, ADAGIO!"
  6554. >...
  6555. >No one in the room, except for Aria, can believe the yell they just heard.
  6556. >Not because of what was said, but rather, who said it.
  6557. >You all look at the source, Adagio herself the only one able to reply.
  6558. >"...Sonata?"
  6559. >Sonata stares Adagio down with a stern, serious expression that you've never seen from her before.
  6560. >"How long are you going to keep this up?! All you've done up to now is treat Anon badly, and blame him for everything, even after all the things he's done for us! You're the one who's made it such a big deal to wash someone's hair! You get jealous and upset with him over anything, but you're the one forcing him to keep your relationship a secret! You still won't admit it! And worst of all, you refuse to say you love, or even care for him!"
  6561. >You and the girls have been in paralyzed shock, while Aria hasn't batted an eye.
  6562. >But that last line snaps the girls out of it.
  6563. >Applejack narrows her eyes at Adagio.
  6564. >"Wait... what?"
  6565. >"Have you really been treating Nonny like that, Dagi?"
  6566. >Pinkie asks with the innocence of a child.
  6567. >"And you've never shared your feelings with him?"
  6568. >Rarity asks with genuine concern.
  6569. >"Oh, Adagio."
  6570. >Fluttershy says with a disappointed look.
  6571. >You expected Adagio to fight back.
  6572. >Yell at them.
  6573. >Threaten them.
  6574. >Tell them to shut up.
  6575. >But to your surprise, she remains silent, and looks... guilty.
  6576. >Sonata speaks up again.
  6577. >"This isn't Anon's fault. You have no one to blame but yourself."
  6578. >The room goes quiet, until Aria walks up to Sonata, and places a hand on her shoulder.
  6579. >"That might've been too much."
  6580. >You'd think Aria would be able to calm Sonata down, but she gives Aria the same stern look, and even pushes Aria's hand off her.
  6581. >"No, Aria! I'm tired of letting this go on without us saying anything! It has to stop!"
  6582. >"But this isn't-"
  6583. >"Sonata is right."
  6584. >Adagio finally responds calmly.
  6585. >Those are three words you couldn't have ever imagined coming from Adagio's mouth.
  6586. >She turns herself towards the door, and keeps her eyes looking down at the floor to avoid eye contact.
  6587. >"This IS my fault, no one else's. Rarity, I apologize. You can't be blamed for not knowing a secret that was being kept."
  6588. >She begins to walk out of the music room with as much pose and dignity as she can manage.
  6589. >Though you know that on the inside she's hurting.
  6590. >"Adagio."
  6591. >Sunset calls out to her, but she continues on.
  6592. >She passes you and leaves without a word or any kind of acknowledgment.
  6593. >You all watch as the door closes behind her.
  6594. >Another moment of silence falls onto the room, but Rainbow breaks it with a boisterous scoff.
  6595. >"Dude, too much drama for me! That shit was fucked up. I am SO ready for lunch."
  6596. >AJ punches Dash in the arm.
  6597. >"OW! Did I say something we're not all thinking?!"
  6598. >Pinkie goes over to Sonata to help calm her down with Aria, while Rarity steps closer to you.
  6599. >"Anon... is it really an unrequited relationship between you?"
  6600. >She asks with the same concern she showed earlier.
  6601. >It almost feels wrong to talk about it, but since everything's out of the bag...
  6602. "Yes... unfortunately."
  6603. >Rarity and Fluttershy give you sad looks.
  6604. >Applejack raises an eyebrow at you.
  6605. >"But, ya know, ah can't help wonderin' what kind of person would be attracted to a relationship like that?"
  6606. "...That's a good question, Applejack. One that I can't give a reasonable answer to."
  6607. >"Well, ah'd rustle one up if ah were you. It might be best to let er' go."
  6608. >Easy for her to say.
  6609. >You walk out with the intention to find Adagio.
  6610. >After that scene, you can't help but be worried about her.
  6611. >The halls are empty.
  6612. >Everyone must be in the cafeteria by now.
  6613. >Could she be there?
  6614. >No, she wouldn't want to be around a crowd right now.
  6615. >Where is she?
  6616. >You keep running in the direction she was headed, hoping to find her, until you reach the main lobby.
  6617. >It's here that you spot her walking towards the main entrance doors.
  6618. "Adagio!"
  6619. >She stops to look back at you just in front of the doors.
  6620. >Her face is a sullen one.
  6621. >"I'm okay, Anon."
  6622. "Are you sure? You don't look like it."
  6623. >"...I'm sorry for everything that just happened. I should have apologized to you, but I had to get out of there. ...And I can't stay here."
  6624. "What do you mean?"
  6625. >"I'm skipping the afternoon classes. I need to be alone for a while."
  6626. "But the principals-"
  6627. >"Just tell them I didn't feel good."
  6628. >She pushes one of the large glass doors open and walks out.
  6629. "Dagi!"
  6630. >"Leave her be, Anon."
  6631. >You turn around to see Sunset walking towards you.
  6632. "But she'll get in trouble with Celestia."
  6633. >"I'll talk to her and Luna, they'll understand. Believe it or not, they care about the Dazzlings, and they're happy with the progress each of them have made."
  6634. >She stands next to you, as you both watch Adagio walk out of sight through the mint tinted glass.
  6635. "Did I mess up, Sunset?"
  6636. >"No, Anon, you've done everything you can."
  6637. >She lets out a sigh.
  6638. >"It could've been handled better, but I agree with Sonata, she needed to hear all of that."
  6639. "Is there anything I can do?"
  6640. >"Give her time to think. She has to make some decisions on her own now. Hopefully, she'll come to a positive one. She shouldn't stay out soul searching for too long though."
  6641. "Why's that?"
  6642. >"The news said it's going to rain tonight."
  6643. "...Rain, huh?"
  6644.  
  6645. >Later that night, you're sitting in one of your living room chairs, watching Sonata nervously bite her thumb while pacing up and down along the windows.
  6646. >Lightning streaks across the sky intermittently.
  6647. >"What if something bad happened to her?"
  6648. "I'm sure she's fine, Sonata."
  6649. >"But it's past ten o'clock! She shouldn't be out alone this late!"
  6650. >No one had seen or heard anything from Adagio since she left school.
  6651. >You hoped she would show up back at the house eventually.
  6652. >Even a text would put your mind at ease.
  6653. >But she turned her phone off right away.
  6654. >Sonata, Sunset, and the girls were starting to get really worried.
  6655. >Your phone buzzes in your hands, prompting you to read the new message in the group chat you've been a part of since school ended.
  6656. >[ SunsetDowner: Anything? ]
  6657. >The girls have been anxiously waiting for some good news.
  6658. >Unfortunately, you have none to give them.
  6659. [ Anonymous: Not yet ]
  6660. >The group chat was quiet the past hour, but this latest activity breathes new life into it.
  6661. >[ FlyShy: Poor Adagio must be so sad all alone (◕︵◕) ]
  6662. >[ AppleGal: Stubborn girl probably means to stay out till the mornin ]
  6663. >[ Super_Rainbow_Awesome_Dash: We've waited long enough! ]
  6664. >[ Super_Rainbow_Awesome_Dash: I say we go out and find her!!! >:o ]
  6665. >[ Sa_not_a_pun: I'm with Dash let's go! ]
  6666. >You look up to see Sonata giving you a determined expression.
  6667. >But you simply shake your head at her.
  6668. >Both of your phones buzz again.
  6669. >[ AppleGal: Hold yer horses there! ]
  6670. >[ AppleGal: Tryin to find her would be like lookin fer a needle in a haystack ]
  6671. >[ AppleGal: And we'd cause more trouble fer sneakin out! ]
  6672. >[ SunsetDowner: AJ is right ]
  6673. >[ SunsetDowner: She could be in a motel for all we know ]
  6674. >[ SunsetDowner: We'd be better off searching in the daylight tomorrow ]
  6675. >Sonata pouts at her phone.
  6676. "It'd be different if we knew where she was, Sonata."
  6677. >As worried as you are for Adagio, you have to watch over and make sure Sonata doesn't do anything reckless.
  6678. >[ AppleGal: Not to mention there's a storm fixin to let loose any minute! ]
  6679. >The rainstorm should've started hours ago, but for some reason the darkening clouds have only given Canterlot a light show in the sky and gusts of wind.
  6680. >Not knowing when it would begin just made the tension worse.
  6681. >Another succession of buzzes from your phones.
  6682. >[ Hot_Pink_Party_Girl: Like i told your friend it's $100 for nudes ]
  6683. >[ Hot_Pink_Party_Girl: $150 for a phone session ]
  6684. >[ Hot_Pink_Party_Girl: And $200 for live cam show ]
  6685. >[ Hot_Pink_Party_Girl: You can pay me and schedule the time you want at school tomorrow ]
  6686. >[ FlyShy: Ummm?? (๏_๏;)  ]
  6687. >[ AppleGal: What in tarnation?! ]
  6688. >[ Hot_Pink_Party_Girl: Oopsie! ]
  6689. >[ Hot_Pink_Party_Girl: Sorry wrong convo lol ]
  6690. >[ AppleGal: PINKIE! ]
  6691. >[ FlyShy: Oh my (。・_・。) ]
  6692. >[ Super_Rainbow_Awesome_Dash: lmao ]
  6693. >[ Super_Rainbow_Awesome_Dash: Relax guys she's just messing with you ]
  6694. >[ SunsetDowner: lol ]
  6695. >[ Sa_not_a_pun: XD ]
  6696. >[ AppleGal: Not funny >: \ ]
  6697. >[ FlyShy: (-_-;) ]
  6698. >Leave it to Pinkie to try and lighten the mood any way she can.
  6699. >It got a chuckle out of Sonata at least.
  6700. >With everyone's names scrolling on your screen, you're reminded that a certain username isn't appearing.
  6701. >Rarity's.
  6702. >She's been in the chat since the moment it was made, but she hasn't typed a word yet.
  6703. >She probably feels too guilty about all of this to join in the conversation.
  6704. >[ PurpleGrump: You should listen to farmgirl and bacon head ]
  6705. >Aria is also in the group chat, though she was mostly just lurking.
  6706. >Her phone was placed on the floor next to her while playing Zelda, allowing her to concentrate on the game and keep an eye on the conversation.
  6707. >[ PurpleGrump: You won't find Adagio if she doesn't want you to ]
  6708. >[ PurpleGrump: Besides she's a big girl she knows how to handle herself out there ]
  6709. >[ PurpleGrump: So stop whining and crying already you're making me wanna puke ]
  6710. >[ Super_Rainbow_Awesome_Dash: Wow way to live up to your name purplegrump : \ ]
  6711. >[ PurpleGrump: That's not my name! ]
  6712. >[ PurpleGrump: Wait what the fuck?! ]
  6713. >[ PurpleGrump: WHY IS MY NAME PURPLE GRUMP AND WHY CAN'T I CHANGE IT?! ]
  6714. >[ Sa_not_a_pun: Me and Diane changed your username and password when you weren't looking XD ]
  6715. >[ Hot_Pink_Party_Girl: LUL >;P ]
  6716. >[ SunsetDowner: LOL ]
  6717. [ Anonymous: Kek ]
  6718. >[ Super_Rainbow_Awesome_Dash: LMAO THAT MAKES IT EVEN BETTER!! ]
  6719. >[ AppleGal: Fittin name I'd say. >:) ]
  6720. >[ FlyShy: I think it's cute (◕‿‿◕) ]
  6721. >An enraged scream erupts from your old bedroom.
  6722. >"EURRRGHHH!! You and Pinkie are gonna pay for this, Sonata!"
  6723. >You and Sonata stifle your laughter.
  6724. >For a moment you forget about your troubles, but your smile slowly goes away.
  6725. >This is awful.
  6726. >You wish you knew where she is.
  6727. >You'd go to her without thinking twice.
  6728. >You don't know how you'll get through tonight.
  6729. >...Damn it, Adagio.
  6730. >You let out a long, miserable sigh that's cut short when your phone begins to ring.
  6731. >The contact name that appears suddenly instills hope.
  6732. >You quickly answer it.
  6733. "Hello? ...you did?!"
  6734. >You jolt up out of your seat, causing Sonata to take notice.
  6735. "...You're sure she's there? ...Then I'm going right now."
  6736. >Still holding the phone to your ear, you start walking to the master bedroom.
  6737. >Sonata nervously follows you.
  6738. >"Anon?!"
  6739. >You continue on with the phone call.
  6740. "Yeah... Alright... I know, I know... Okay."
  6741. >You hang up just as you get to your closet.
  6742. >"What's going on?"
  6743. >You tell Sonata what you've found out while putting on your jacket, and she relays it to the chatroom.
  6744. >Ready to go, you pass by Aria's open door, who calls out to you.
  6745. >"Anon."
  6746. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmsZyC0UXUU
  6747. >You stop in your tracks.
  6748. "Yeah?"
  6749. >"She's not going to make this easy. Handle it right or you'll end up making it worse."
  6750. >She warns you without looking away from the huge CRT displaying the inside of the Forest Temple.
  6751. >"And you feel this wind, right?"
  6752. >She's referring to the wind blowing through the bedroom window she has open.
  6753. >It was blowing steady enough to keep her hair flowing freely.
  6754. >The wind easily reaches both you and Sonata, standing in the doorway.
  6755. >You can feel and smell the moisture in the air has risen significantly.
  6756. >"The storm is about to start any second, so be careful out there."
  6757. >You stay silent for a moment before growing a small smile.
  6758. "Thanks, Purple Grump."
  6759. >Aria immediately looks back at you with the kind of rage you haven't seen since the Hot Topic incident.
  6760. >"DON'T MAKE ME KICK YOUR ASS BEFORE YOU LEAVE!"
  6761. >You simply chuckle and head towards the door.
  6762. >Sonata stays behind to giggle, gaining the focus of Aria.
  6763. >"This is YOUR fault, Sonata! You are so gonna get it!"
  6764. >Sonata shrugs.
  6765. >"Ehh, worth it."
  6766. >Aria stands up with a growl and starts stomping towards Sonata.
  6767. >"Yikes!"
  6768. >Sonata responds by slamming the door shut and running out of the hallway.
  6769. >She catches up with you in time to tug on your arm, before you're able to walk out the front door.
  6770. >"I want to go with you, Anon!"
  6771. "Because you're afraid to be left alone with Aria now?"
  6772. >"No! ...Well, yes, but that's not the only reason."
  6773. >She looks down sadly.
  6774. >"I've... never yelled at her like that."
  6775. >Ever since Sonata calmed down from earlier, she's felt terribly guilty.
  6776. >She wants to hold Adagio in her arms just as much as you do.
  6777. >"I want to... I need to..."
  6778. >Her hand still holding onto your arm, you place your own on top of it.
  6779. "I understand how you feel, but this is something that's best left to me."
  6780. >"I know..."
  6781. >She concedes sadly.
  6782. >You can't leave her like this.
  6783. >Gotta cheer her up.
  6784. "Don't worry, kiddo, I'll bring her back. I'm the captain, aren't I?"
  6785. >You give her a hero's wink.
  6786. >She lights up, and lets go of your arm to salute.
  6787. >"We'll be waiting, Captain!"
  6788. "Aye, Sous Chef."
  6789. >You salute back, and step out of the house to mount your trusty steed.
  6790.  
  6791. >You pull into the parking lot of your destination.
  6792. >You're lucky enough to find a single parking space empty.
  6793. >On your way over, the storm began to pour down.
  6794. >It's a heavy rainfall for sure.
  6795. >You wouldn't normally drive in weather like this.
  6796. >But you weren't about to let it stop you now.
  6797. >You get out of your car and make it to the entrance of the establishment, dry, thanks to your umbrella.
  6798. >You swing open a heavy wooden door to reveal...
  6799. >A large twenty four hour coffee and pastry shop.
  6800. >The inside motif is warm and relaxing, with a strong scent of coffee and baked goods dominating your sense of smell.
  6801. >Though the actual atmosphere is more lively than relaxing, as it's jam packed with customers.
  6802. >Truckers, grave-shifters, a few couples, a few solos, and even the token weirdo you should probably be suspicious of.
  6803. >It was a group of patrons you were well acquainted with.
  6804. >Every one of them had some type of coffee drink in front of them, at the least, while a few dared to have a pastry of their choice as well.
  6805. >It was loud, with multiple conversations happening at once, and the beating of the raindrops against the large windows.
  6806. >The occasional crack of thunder vibrated the walls and floor.
  6807. >It takes you a few moments, but you quickly adjust yourself to the environment.
  6808. >You have to focus.
  6809. >Looking around, a problem presents itself.
  6810. >There is absolutely no seats available.
  6811. >Every single stool, chair, and booth are taken.
  6812. >In fact, there are quite a few people simply standing up.
  6813. >It's clear that most of them are in here seeking shelter from the storm, so you shouldn't expect vacancies until the rain subsides.
  6814. >Making things even more difficult, your reasons for being here are quite different compared to everyone else.
  6815. >It's not just if you can sit, but where you need to.
  6816. >Scanning your surroundings again, your eyes spot an unmistakable poof of hair, sitting alone in the very last booth on the right side of the room.
  6817. >You let yourself sigh in relief with a smile, and take your phone out from your pocket.
  6818. [ Anonymous: Found her ]
  6819. [ Anonymous: Gonna start working on bringing her home ]
  6820. >You didn't want to keep the girls worrying anymore.
  6821. >[ Hot_Pink_Party_Girl: Good luck nonny! ]
  6822. >[ AppleGal: Knowin her you'll need it ]
  6823. >[ FlyShy: Give her our best (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧ ]
  6824. >[ SunDowner: Be patient with her ]
  6825. >[ Super_Rainbow_Awesome_Dash: But if she gives you any trouble just drag her home! ]
  6826. >You smile at the responses before turning on do not disturb mode.
  6827. >You don't want any interruptions for this.
  6828. >You walk over to the booth holding all your interest, but stop just short of it to stand your umbrella up against the wall.
  6829. >Adagio is sitting on the first half of the booth, with her backside facing towards the rest of the room.
  6830. >A single cup of coffee and a half eaten slice of pie are the only things on the table.
  6831. >She's hunched over, on the very edge of the seat's opening, as if she's protecting it from would-be predators.
  6832. >"Like I keep telling everyone else..."
  6833. >She begins in a deep, agitated voice.
  6834. >"I'm not sharing or giving this booth up for anyone. I was here first, so beat it!"
  6835. >Now you understand why everyone seems so wary of this corner.
  6836. >No one would dare impose after that.
  6837. >She's able to sense a presence, but she hasn't picked up that it's YOU.
  6838. >Your smile widens, as you've now been given a chance to have fun with your entrance.
  6839. >You quickly push yourself into her, taking her spot and sliding her into the middle of the seat.
  6840. >She's startled, and is about to shove her unwelcome guest away.
  6841. >"What the fu-!?"
  6842. "I think you'll make an exception for me."
  6843. >You say with an incredibly smug grin.
  6844. >"Anon!? What are you doing here!? How did you even find me?!"
  6845. >She's completely shocked.
  6846. >Her baffled expression is priceless.
  6847. >You calmly point over to the middle aged man running this whole shop from behind the counter.
  6848. "It's thanks to Cuppa Joe over there."
  6849. >You give him a thumbs up, and he nods back.
  6850. >"Joe?"
  6851. >Her confusion only deepens.
  6852. "OUR Joe has a lot of friends and connections in the coffee and pastry community. I told him that you were missing, so he put the word out to be on the watch for you. Lo and behold, you walked into Cuppa's place, he called Joe, and here I am."
  6853. >You finish happily.
  6854. >"But how did he know it was me? I never mentioned my name!"
  6855. "Dagi, c'mon, it's easy to give a good description of you. Your hair isn't exactly normal."
  6856. >She glares at you, making you laugh.
  6857. "I mean in a good way! You know that!"
  6858. >She sighs into a facepalm.
  6859. >"Foiled by networking baristas. I don't know if I should be upset or impressed."
  6860. >Foiled, huh?
  6861. >Does that mean she really did plan to stay out all night?
  6862. >Your smile fades, giving way to a more serious face and tone.
  6863. "Adagio, what is this? What are you doing?"
  6864. >She looks away from you.
  6865. >"I'm... I'm just so ashamed and embarrassed. I acted like a fool in front of the girls. I'm sure they've been laughing at me all day, along with the rest of the school."
  6866. >You chuckle.
  6867. "Oh, you are SO wrong."
  6868. >"What do you mean?"
  6869. "Soon as you walked out of the music room, the girls all agreed that what happened needed to be kept a secret. Sunset even talked to the principals and got you a pass for the day."
  6870. >She looks at you in disbelief.
  6871. "And if you still think they've been laughing behind your back..."
  6872. >You pull out your phone and hand it to her.
  6873. "Take a look for yourself. The girls have been worried sick about you."
  6874. >She starts reading through the entire chat with wide eyes.
  6875. >She even stifles a chuckle at Aria realizing her username, but becomes pensive as she sees how happy the girls are to find out she's safe.
  6876. "They really care about you. Like it or not, you've got friends now."
  6877. >She frowns at your words, and having reached the end of the chat, puts your phone down to stare into her cup of coffee.
  6878. >"Anon... why did you do this? Aren't you upset with me?"
  6879. >She's actually worried about that?
  6880. "Why would I be upset?"
  6881. >"Because everything Sonata said is true, and the girls' reactions were justified. Our relationship... it's not normal."
  6882. >Her voice is full of guilt and doubt.
  6883. >...
  6884. >Instead of replying, you pull her plate of pie towards you and take a bite with her fork.
  6885. "Mm. Not bad."
  6886. >"Hey! Get your own!"
  6887. >She tries to snatch the fork away from you, but you evade her hand.
  6888. "Uh, excuse you, it's called sharing."
  6889. >You tell her, faking a hurt expression.
  6890. >"Uh, excuse YOU, maybe I'm not in the mood to share?"
  6891. >She responds mockingly.
  6892. >"And who said you could eat after me?!"
  6893. >She questions with a slight blush.
  6894. "Who said I couldn't?"
  6895. >You calmly retort back.
  6896. >She grows a wicked smile.
  6897. >The kind you only see on villains in saturday morning cartoons.
  6898. >"Oh, you wanna play that game?"
  6899. >She grabs the plate from your side of the table, and proceeds to lick what remains of the slice.
  6900. >With pride, she places the plate back down.
  6901. >"I think that settles it."
  6902. >Unfazed, you look at her with a dull expression for a moment.
  6903. "...So?"
  6904. >"So?!"
  6905. >She's surprised at your reaction.
  6906. >"So, you can't eat anymore of it! I've completely claimed it by-"
  6907. >As you reach for the pie again, without any hesitation, her face drops.
  6908. >"Wait! What are you doing?!"
  6909. >You place a large forkful of the licked pie into your mouth, making sure to take your time in savoring it.
  6910. >Her face becomes pure shock and disgust.
  6911. >"Anon! Did you seriously just do that?!"
  6912. >You give her a seductive smile.
  6913. "What if I told you I like it even better now that you've licked it?"
  6914. >With a horrified stare, she scooches away from you to the far side of the booth, pushing herself into the wall.
  6915. >If she could move farther, she would.
  6916. >"Oh. My. God."
  6917. "Adagio, after all the things we've been doing in bed, how does this even compare?"
  6918. >She instantly perks up with an irritated expression, and scrambles back over to you, blushing deeply.
  6919. >"We are NOT talking about that right now!"
  6920. >She hisses in your ear.
  6921. >When it came to Sonata and Aria, she's never been embarrassed to talk about the bedroom.
  6922. >But for some reason, she didn't want it even mentioned around anyone else, especially adults.
  6923. >You can't describe how fun it is to tease her like this.
  6924. >Now that she's come near again, you wrap your arm around her shoulder and pull her close.
  6925. >"Anon!"
  6926. >She strains against you a bit, but stops when she notices you've taken a serious expression and tone.
  6927. "We don't have a normal relationship. That's true. But so what? It doesn't matter how we look to other people, or what they think of us. What's important is you and me. As long as we're happy, nothing else matters. And I'm happy, Adagio. I'm happy to be with you."
  6928. >You tell her this with all your sincerity, to which she gives her full attention to.
  6929. >But now her eyes drop and wander away from you.
  6930. >"...Doesn't it bother you at all? The way I treat you?"
  6931. >You take a deep breath and hold it in for a moment.
  6932. "...Yes."
  6933. >You feel her body twinge slightly in your arm.
  6934. "It hurts when you don't trust me. Or try to push me away. But it's not enough to get rid of me."
  6935. >You place your free hand under her chin, and pull her gaze back to you.
  6936. "Because I love you too much."
  6937. >You say staring into her eyes.
  6938. >She blushes again, and gets lost for a moment, before pushing your hand aside.
  6939. >"Idiot."
  6940. >She says softly, then turns away from you again to stare out the window at the still raging storm.
  6941. >"...This is so dangerous."
  6942. >She seemingly says to herself, more than you.
  6943. >You look out the window with her.
  6944. "What, the storm? I know it seems bad, but it's nothing I can't handle. You don't have to be scared."
  6945. >She doesn't reply.
  6946. >...
  6947. >You don't like it when she gets quiet like this.
  6948. >You use both of your arms to hug her in closer and tighter to you.
  6949. "Let's go home, Dagi. You need a real meal, a good night's sleep, and you know Aria and Sonata won't go to bed until you're home."
  6950. >She remains silent.
  6951. >You nuzzle in between her ear and cheek.
  6952. "...Let me take care of you."
  6953. >You whisper.
  6954. >She lets out a tired, emotionally drained sigh.
  6955. >"Fine. Take me home."
  6956. >You smile.
  6957. >Of course it had to be an order, not a request.
  6958. >"But can you guarantee I won't get soaked out there?"
  6959. >You let go of her to step out of the booth, and show her the one thing that can put her at ease.
  6960. "We have old reliable here, don't we?"
  6961. >"I keep forgetting how much I trust that umbrella."
  6962. >You hold out your hand, and Adagio takes it with a small smile, allowing you to help her out of the booth.
  6963. >Still holding her hand, you walk over to Cuppa.
  6964. "Thanks for your help, Cuppa. We owe you."
  6965. >He waves it off with a smile.
  6966. >"Don't mention it. Stale Donut and I go way back. Helping out his 'Ace Duo' that he's so proud of is the least I can do."
  6967. "Stale Donut?"
  6968. >"Are you serious?"
  6969. >You and Adagio chuckle.
  6970. >"Oh yeah, me and the rest of our old baked goods gang have stories you wouldn't believe. He wasn't always the 'Donut King' you know him as today."
  6971. >You and Adagio smile at each other mischievously.
  6972. "I think we'll need to hear these stories ourselves for educational purposes, Cuppa."
  6973. >"You're welcome back anytime for my superior coffee, and all the dirt you could ever want on your boss. But it's a school night, so you best head home. Just be careful out there."
  6974.  
  6975. >By driving extra cautious, and the roads being nearly empty, you arrive home safely despite the storm.
  6976. >As soon as Adagio walks through the door, Sonata immediately runs over from the kitchen to grab her in a tight hug.
  6977. >"Adagio! I'm so glad you're alright!"
  6978. >She embraces Sonata.
  6979. >"Of course I am."
  6980. >Sonata breaks the hug, but holds onto Adagio's hands with tears in her eyes.
  6981. >"I'm sorry for what I did back at school. I never should've-"
  6982. >Adagio pulls her back into a hug.
  6983. >"It's okay, Sonata. You did what you thought was right, and I agree with you. I should be the one apologizing for making you worry."
  6984. >After taking in this scene with a smile, you walk past the both of them.
  6985. "Alright, I'm gonna make us something to eat before bedtime."
  6986. >"Oh!"
  6987. >Sonata wipes her tears.
  6988. >"I already cooked something!"
  6989. >You look back at her in surprise.
  6990. "Did you now?"
  6991. >"Uh-huh! I've been in the kitchen since you left. I made it especially for you, Dagi. Come see!"
  6992. >She drags Adagio off by the hand.
  6993. >Before you can follow, your phone, now switched back to normal, vibrates again.
  6994. >[ PurpleGrump: They're back home safe and sound ]
  6995. >[ PurpleGrump: Now end this chat before I lose my mind! ]
  6996. >[ SunsetDowner: Thanks for letting us know purplegrump! : ) ]
  6997. >[ AppleGal: Mighty nice of you to go out of your way for us purplegrump! >: ) ]
  6998. >[ Super_Rainbow_Awesome_Dash: Yeah! You're not so bad after all purplegrump! ]
  6999. >[ FlyShy: Aww! You really do care purplegrump! (^з^)-♥ ]
  7000. >[ Hot_Pink_Party_Girl: You're the best purplegrump! ]
  7001. >[ PurpleGrump: GODDAMMIT SHUT UP ALL OF YOU!! ]
  7002. >The girls laying into Aria like this has you laughing, but you stop when another name appears.
  7003. >[ MsPrissity: Arietta, please give Adagio my warmest regards. ]
  7004. >[ PurpleGrump: Will do MSPRISSITY! ]
  7005. >[ MsPrissity: That's not my name. ]
  7006. >[ MsPrissity: Wait, what?! ]
  7007. >[ MsPrissity: WHAT HAPPENED TO MY NAME AND WHY CAN'T I CHANGE IT?! ]
  7008. >[ Hot_Pink_Party_Girl: Me and Sonata changed your username and password when you weren't looking lul ]
  7009. >[ Super_Rainbow_Awesome_Dash: LMAO! ]
  7010. >[ PurpleGrump: Now THAT'S funny! >: D ]
  7011. >[ SunsetDowner: LOL ]
  7012. >[ AppleGal: Another fittin name! ]
  7013. >[ FlyShy: Not quite as cute though. (^_^;) ]
  7014. >[ MsPrissity: Of all the nerve! ]
  7015. >You laugh again, but you feel a bit bad for Rarity, so you won't join in picking on her.
  7016. >"Anon! Come and eat!"
  7017. >Sonata calls from the kitchen.
  7018. >You heed her order and walk into the kitchen.
  7019. "So, what did my Sous Chef make?"
  7020. >"This!"
  7021. >She gestures to a large pot on the stove.
  7022. >"I made chicken noodle soup!"
  7023. "Why soup?"
  7024. >"Because I thought of Adagio being all alone in a rainstorm, and nothing says 'welcome back' like warm soup, right?"
  7025. >"Sonata..."
  7026. >Adagio blushes.
  7027. >You remove the lid to inspect it and take in the aroma.
  7028. >"What do you think, Captain?"
  7029. >You smile.
  7030. "I think it's time to eat. Let's set the table."
  7031. >"Finally!"
  7032. >Aria says walking into the kitchen.
  7033. >"I'm starving. Can't believe Sonata had me waiting for you two."
  7034. >She huffs.
  7035. >Sonata raises an eyebrow.
  7036. >"But, Aria, you're the one who said we should wait for them."
  7037. >"Stuff it, Sonata!"
  7038.  
  7039. >After everyone enjoys your sous chef's delicious soup, you got the girls to put on their pajamas and wash up.
  7040. >You already made sure Aria and Sonata had settled in their bed, but you noticed that a certain someone was absent from yours.
  7041. >You come out from the master bedroom to see Adagio walking from the kitchen's hallway entrance to her bedroom door.
  7042. >Before she can touch the doorknob, you cut her off.
  7043. "What do you think you're doing?"
  7044. >"What does it look like? I'm going to bed. Alone."
  7045. >Without warning you quickly pick her up princess style.
  7046. >"Anon?! Put me down!"
  7047. "You doubted my loyalty, yelled at me in front of our friends, left home all day, made me worried sick, and now you want to make me spend the night alone in bed?"
  7048. >You narrow your eyes at her.
  7049. "How dare you."
  7050. >This all comes out rather intimidating, but you can't help it.
  7051. >After trying to keep calm all day, your emotions are getting the better of you.
  7052. >She becomes defiant.
  7053. >"That's right! And those were all my choices to make. I can do whatever I want!"
  7054. "No! Not while there are people who care about you. And not while this is your home."
  7055. >You tell her sternly.
  7056. >She recoils in your arms, surprised by your assertion.
  7057. "...All of the hurt, pain, and aggravation you've gone through today... I'm going to take it out of you now."
  7058. >Her face turns a deep crimson blush upon realizing your word's meaning.
  7059. >As if to hide away from you, she buries herself into your chest.
  7060. >"...Then stop talking and get on with it already..."
  7061. >She whispers.
  7062. >You silently comply, taking her through your open bedroom door, and gently closing it behind you.
  7063. >The click of the door's lock echoes throughout the still house, finally putting an end to this difficult day.
  7064.  
  7065.  
  7066. >Five days later and everything has settled down.
  7067. >Adagio made up with Rarity and the rest of the girls with a heart to heart.
  7068. >It went so well in fact, that you're now about to be the host of something you never could have imagined.
  7069. >Or fully agreed to, either.
  7070. >"Boy howdy! I'm ready to get this shindig started!"
  7071. >"This is gonna be AWESOME!"
  7072. >"I'm-so-excited-are-you-excited-because-I'm-excited!"
  7073. >"Woo~."
  7074. >Now standing in your living room was Apple Jack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy.
  7075. >All with bags in hand, and ready to spend the night at your house.
  7076. >Because despite your protests, this was now a-
  7077. >"Slumber party at Nonny's house, YAY!"
  7078. >Pinkie cheers.
  7079. >Sonata scoffs smugly.
  7080. >"Girl, I've been on that train for weeks now."
  7081. >"I'm not sure that's something you should be proud of."
  7082. >Aria tells her.
  7083. >The girls place their bags down and start taking a look around.
  7084. >"This is a fine house ya got here, 'Non."
  7085. >AJ compliments.
  7086. >"Yeah, but what makes it even better is no parents to cramp our style! We can go wild all night!"
  7087. >Rainbow raises her arms up, but she slowly lowers them as she notices your glare.
  7088. >"I-I mean, wild within reason of course. Heh!"
  7089. "I still can't believe this is happening. How did you guys even pull this off? It's not like your parents would ever agree to this."
  7090. >If they knew their daughters were spending the night alone with a high school boy in his supervision-less house, it would be pure pandemonium.
  7091. >"Oh, it was easy!"
  7092. >Pinkie waves off.
  7093. >"All the girls had to do was say we were having another slumber party at my house, and I told my parents the slumber party was at Rarity's house."
  7094. >You raise an eyebrow.
  7095. "But what about you, Jackie? Don't you have a thing against lying?"
  7096. >"Ah didn't lie!"
  7097. >AJ snaps.
  7098. >"Ah just... didn't mention where ah'd be sleepin' over."
  7099. >She explains while lowering her hat.
  7100. >"Granny assumed it would be at my house, so AJ left it at that."
  7101. >Pinkie fills in.
  7102. >So much for the Element of Honesty.
  7103. >"I'm not sure lying to our parents was a good idea."
  7104. >Flutters plays with her hair nervously.
  7105. >On that note, Adagio comes out of the hallway.
  7106. >"Now, now, there's no need to feel guilty about any of this. You all did what you had to with a white lie, and no one's getting in trouble. Let's just enjoy this weekend."
  7107. >She says calmly with a smile.
  7108. >The most surprising thing out of all this, is that Adagio seems to be perfectly accepting of the sleepover.
  7109. >More than that, it's as if she's been looking forward to it.
  7110. >"Exactly!"
  7111. >Dash agrees.
  7112. >"We'll be back home by midafternoon tomorrow, and our 'rents won't know anything."
  7113. >"I guess you're right."
  7114. >Flutters says relieved.
  7115. "But aren't we missing someone? Where's Sunset and Rarity?"
  7116. >"Said they'd show up on their own. Ah reckin' they're up to sumthin'."
  7117. >AJ answers.
  7118. >"More like they're slow!"
  7119. >Rainbow crosses her arms.
  7120. "Well if they don't hurry up they'll miss out on dinner and-"
  7121. >Suddenly, there's a knock at the door.
  7122. >"I'll get it!"
  7123. >"I'll get it!"
  7124. >Sonata and Pinkie call dibs in unison.
  7125. >They narrow eyes at each other, before running towards the door for the rights of it's opening.
  7126. >It seems like a close call, but Sonata edges out Pinkie at the last moment to place her hand on the doorknob.
  7127. >"Darnit!"
  7128. >Pinkie snaps her fingers in frustration.
  7129. >"You're good, Diane, but no one takes my place as door opener and guest welcomer."
  7130. >Sonata says brashly.
  7131. >"Nobody cares! Just open the door you ballistic morons!"
  7132. >Aria shouts at them.
  7133. >"Don't rush her!"
  7134. >Pinkie shouts back.
  7135. >"This is an important moment."
  7136. >She says in a serious manner.
  7137. >Everyone else gives each other looks as Sonata readies herself to open the door, as if it were an olympic event.
  7138. >She finally opens it with all the pomp and circumstance of someone on hand at a royal palace.
  7139. >Then, all at once, drops it for her usual cheery manner.
  7140. >"Hi! Welcome to the sleepover!"
  7141. >She moves aside as both Rarity and Sunset walk in.
  7142. >"Hello, darlings!"
  7143. >"Hey, guys."
  7144. >"About time you showed up. Of course you were always going to be second place to me."
  7145. >Dash gloats.
  7146. >Sunset puts her hands on her hips.
  7147. >"I didn't know this was a race."
  7148. >She smiles.
  7149. >"Rainbow, dear, it's not about who arrives first, but who makes a fashionably late entrance."
  7150. >Rarity retorts.
  7151. >Dash scoffs.
  7152. >"Sounds like loser talk."
  7153. >Sunset raises an eyebrow.
  7154. >"That so? Well, I don't think losers would bring along a special surprise."
  7155. >Pinkie lights up.
  7156. >"A surprise?! I LOVE surprises!"
  7157. >"It's proper etiquette to bring a gift when staying over at someone's estate. And I can assure you, this is an impressive one."
  7158. >Rarity boldly claims.
  7159. >But AJ isn't buying it.
  7160. >"That's some big fancy talk, Rarity. Hope you've got what it takes to back that up."
  7161. >Sunset and Rarity give each other knowing smiles.
  7162. >"I never oversell an item that isn't worth it, darling. Feast your eyes on this!"
  7163. >Rarity motions over to your still open front door, as if you should all be amazed.
  7164. >But...
  7165. "Rarity..."
  7166. >You start.
  7167. >"...Tain't nothin' there."
  7168. >AJ finishes.
  7169. >You all look at each other in confusion.
  7170. >Rarity becomes embarrassed.
  7171. >"A-HEM! I SAID feast your eyes on THIS!"
  7172. >She nervously repeats.
  7173. >You can hear some panicked whispering outside, agitating Rarity.
  7174. >"OH COME OUT NOW!"
  7175. >She stomps.
  7176. >Obeying her order, something appears on your doorstep.
  7177. >A purple and green... dog?
  7178. >"SPIKE?!"
  7179. >The girls all shout together.
  7180. >"That's my name, don't wear it out!"
  7181. >He says smugly.
  7182. >More so than any puppy has the right to.
  7183. >"But it's not just me!"
  7184. >He moves to the side of the door and begins to bow.
  7185. >"DUN DA-DA DUNNNN! Presenting, the Princessssss ooof Friendshiiiiiiiip!"
  7186. >A nervous figure slowly comes into the doorway's view.
  7187. >It's none other than Twilight Sparkle.
  7188. >"Hiiiii."
  7189. >She awkwardly greets.
  7190. >"TWILIGHT!!"
  7191. >Pinkie, Fluttershy, AJ, and Dash all scream and run over to her, pulling her through the door into a group hug.
  7192. >"Wow."
  7193. >"No way."
  7194. >Sonata and Aria quietly say in disbelief.
  7195. >The girls let go of Twilight giggling in joy.
  7196. >"What are you doing here?"
  7197. >Flutters asks her.
  7198. >"Sunset wrote to me about the sleepover you were planning, and I felt left out, so... I wanted to join, if that's okay."
  7199. >Twilight looks over to Adagio and the girls, who were staying farther away.
  7200. >To your surprise, Aria and Sonata were now hiding behind Adagio, both of them holding onto her shoulders, with wary expressions.
  7201. >You've... never seen them like this.
  7202. >Could it be that they were actually afraid of Twilight?
  7203. >Maybe because she, more than Sunset, represented Equestria itself.
  7204. >They were well aware of what she was capable of, and her intentions, after all.
  7205. >But shockingly, Adagio remains completely calm.
  7206. >She turns to Sonata and Aria, and reassures them with a serene smile, before walking closer to Twilight.
  7207. >Twilight in turn walks over to meet Adagio halfway, until they stand face to face.
  7208. >The house goes silent, as you and the girls watch in awe.
  7209. >It may not have been apparent at first, but you all now realize the gravity of this situation.
  7210. >"Princess Twilight Sparkle."
  7211. >Adagio respectfully recognizes.
  7212. >"Adagio Dazzle."
  7213. >Twilight returns the favor.
  7214. >"The mastermind behind thwarting my plan, and follower of... Starswirl the Bearded."
  7215. >Adagio narrows her eyes.
  7216. >"The legendary Siren who stood against my hero, and almost took over the world."
  7217. >Twilight says sternly, to which Adagio smiles.
  7218. >"Please, aren't you forgetting something?"
  7219. >Twilight smiles as well.
  7220. >"Ah, of course. Almost took over the world, twice."
  7221. >"Mmm. Well..."
  7222. >Adagio lifts her hands up in a peaceful gesture.
  7223. >"That's all in the past! I've already admitted my defeat, and moved on. Bygones should be bygones, and as such, I humbly ask your royal highness, and the kingdom, for forgiveness, and welcome you into my home..."
  7224. >Adagio bows.
  7225. >"Princess Sparkle."
  7226. >Twilight doesn't bow in return, of course, but follows that up with extending her hand.
  7227. >"I am honored to accept your apology."
  7228. >The two of them grasp hands for a firm, yet gentle handshake.
  7229. >You're all speechless, taken aback by the poise and dignity these two just displayed.
  7230. >They really were beings from another world.
  7231. >Pulling yourself together, you lean in close to Adagio and whisper.
  7232. "YOUR home, huh?"
  7233. >You tease.
  7234. >"Let. Me. Have. This."
  7235. >She hisses back at you.
  7236. >Hearing this, Twilight giggles, and takes Adagio's hands into her own with a smile.
  7237. >"All formality aside, I'm genuinely happy to be here. Sunset has told me so much about you three, and how you've grown closer to the girls. It may be wrong to admit this, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous."
  7238. >She turns to Aria and Sonata.
  7239. >"So with those feelings in mind, I was hoping that the three of you would also become my friends..."
  7240. >She extends her hands towards them with all the sincerity and warmth befitting a princess of friendship.
  7241. >"...Please?"
  7242. >Sonata and Aria look at Twilight for a moment, then to Adagio, who nods at them with a smile.
  7243. >Sonata's eyes fill with water, and she runs into Twilight's arms.
  7244. >"OH YES! I WOULD LOVE TO BE YOUR FRIEND, PRINCESS FRIENDSHIP! Waaaahhh!"
  7245. >She cries onto Twilight, who returns her embrace.
  7246. >"Awwww!"
  7247. >The girls fawn.
  7248. >Aria, on the other hand, simply walks over to Twilight, who's still being cried on, and casually takes her hand for a light handshake.
  7249. >"Yeah, sure, why not."
  7250. >She agrees in a cool manner.
  7251. >"Now that's water passin' under the bridge if ah ever saw it!"
  7252. >AJ declares, and the rest of the girls cheer in response.
  7253. >"Best sleepover EVER!"
  7254. >Pinkie bounces.
  7255. >They had you worried there for a moment, but your heart is put at ease.
  7256. >There's no longer any ill feelings or tension between anyone here.
  7257. >You were against it at first, but now you'll make sure the girls have a great slumber party.
  7258.  
  7259. >Later, emotions have calmed down, and the girls are engaged in full on gossip mode, sitting around the coffee table in the living room.
  7260. >Each of them drinking a tall glass of ice cold fruit punch.
  7261. >Meanwhile, you were preparing to cook dinner in the kitchen.
  7262. >The only thing missing was your trusted sou chef.
  7263. "Alright, everyone, dinner will be ready soon. Come on, Sou Chef, let's get started."
  7264. >You order from the kitchen doorway.
  7265. >But instead of the spirited 'aye' you usually receive, you're given silence.
  7266. >The girls look at each other.
  7267. "...What's wrong?"
  7268. >"Anon, we've already decided that we're going to order pizza."
  7269. >Sunset reveals.
  7270. "Pizza?! Don't be ridiculous! I have a full course dinner all planned out! Pizza could never hope to compare!"
  7271. >You say offended.
  7272. >"We want pizza!"
  7273. >Pinkie protests.
  7274. >"Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!"
  7275. >The girls chant.
  7276. "This is madness! Right, Sou Chef!?"
  7277. >Sonata fidgets for a moment, before raising her arm up.
  7278. >"I-I also vote for pizza!"
  7279. >You gasp in shock and point at her dramatically.
  7280. "MUTINY!"
  7281. >She looks away from you in shame.
  7282. >"I'm sorry, Captain!"
  7283. >Adagio gets up and walks over to place a hand on your arm.
  7284. >"Oh give it up and let them have pizza. It's a sleepover, not a dinner party. Besides, you'll still get to bake a mountain of cookies for everyone."
  7285. >She tells you with a smile.
  7286. "Oh, fine!"
  7287. >You give up in a huff.
  7288. "Not as if I was looking forward to it or anything..."
  7289. >You grumble.
  7290.  
  7291. >Once the pizzas have been delivered, the girls turn to their next objective.
  7292. >"It's time for party games!"
  7293. >Pinkie announces.
  7294. >Twilight claps happily.
  7295. >"Yay! What are we going to play?"
  7296. >"We've already got that covered."
  7297. >Aria rummages through the tv entertainment center, pulling out the N64, four controllers, and a single game cartridge.
  7298. >"A video game?"
  7299. >Twilight asks.
  7300. >"Not just any video game!"
  7301. >Pinkie corrects while grabbing the cartridge out of Aria's hands.
  7302. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bdvq0XqoSoo
  7303. >"Mario Party 2! One of the best games of ALL TIME!"
  7304. >She proclaims, holding it up in glory.
  7305. "You guys do know that's a four player game, and that there are eleven of us, right?"
  7306. >"Ahem."
  7307. >You look down to see Spike with an upset expression.
  7308. "Oh, right, twelve of us. Sorry."
  7309. >"Not a problem! All we have do is form teams! That way no one is left out."
  7310. >Rainbow explains.
  7311. >"Four controllers, four teams of three taking turns, competing for the title of Slumber Party Super Star!"
  7312. "Huh. Yeah, that'll work. But how will we form teams?"
  7313. >"I pick Sonata!"
  7314. >Sunset quickly chooses.
  7315. >"Me? Out of everyone here? Why?"
  7316. >Sonata asks pointing to herself.
  7317. >Sunset sits down next to Sonata.
  7318. >"You're always talking about how much you love these old games, so you must be pretty good at them. I think together, we can win!"
  7319. >"Correction, Team Fabulous will win!"
  7320. >Rarity joins the two of them.
  7321. >"Let's aim for the top too, Twilight!"
  7322. >Spike tells her.
  7323. >"But, Spike, this isn't Equestria. Without opposable thumbs-"
  7324. >"I CAN play! I just need someone to hold the controller down for me!"
  7325. >Poor bastard.
  7326. >Not being able to play video games is a cruel fate.
  7327. >Your heart goes out to him, and you can't help it.
  7328. "Count me in for Team Friendship, and as official controller holder."
  7329. >"My man!"
  7330. >Spike gives you a high five, causing Twilight to giggle.
  7331. >"Ha! You all have no chance! The team of Dash, and myself will win!"
  7332. >Aria boasts.
  7333. "I think you've got the wrong idea. Take a look."
  7334. >You point over to Rainbow, who's now sitting with AJ and Pinkie.
  7335. >"Dash, you're not playing with me!?"
  7336. >Aria asks shocked.
  7337. >"Sorry, Aria, but I always play Mario Party with my usual team of Apple Jack and Pinkie."
  7338. >Rainbow tells her.
  7339. >"But why?!"
  7340. >"Because who better to have on your side in a party game than the best party planner and rodeo girl in the world? Pinkie's party knowledge, combined with AJ's skills for competition games, and my unmatched button pressing speed, means there's no way Team Awesome can lose!"
  7341. >"Sho nuff!"
  7342. >"Absotively posilutely!"
  7343. >AJ and Pinkie agree.
  7344. >Aria raises a shaking fist.
  7345. >"Rainbow, you will pay for this!"
  7346. >"I don't think so, Ari. Take a look at who's left for your team."
  7347. >Rainbow motions over to a yellow, timid figure.
  7348. >"Fluttershy?!"
  7349. >Aria's eyes widen.
  7350. >"Why haven't you joined a team yet!?"
  7351. >She asks upset.
  7352. >"I-I... didn't want to push myself onto anyone."
  7353. >She says sadly.
  7354. >Rainbow chuckles.
  7355. >"That's the spirit. You're sure to win now."
  7356. >"Dash!"
  7357. >Sunset scolds, to which Rainbow recoils.
  7358. >"Sorry. No offense, Shy."
  7359. >She apologizes.
  7360. >"Some taken."
  7361. >Fluttershy huffs, scooting over to Aria.
  7362. >"Aria, I may not be the most vocal, but I want to win just as mush as you do!"
  7363. >She tells her with determination.
  7364. >"Oh yeah?"
  7365. >Aria says surprised.
  7366. >"But we still need another member."
  7367. >Flutters reminds.
  7368. >"But there's no one left except..."
  7369. >They both look over to Adagio, who's been sitting off to side, uninterested in all this.
  7370. >Aria reaches her hand towards her.
  7371. >"Adagio Dazzle! We need YOU!"
  7372. >"Deja vu?"
  7373. >"Deja vu?"
  7374. >Both Sunset and Twilight ask themselves in unison.
  7375. >Adagio waves her hands.
  7376. >"Oh no, forget it, I'm not playing this stupid kids game."
  7377. >Aria gets up and moves over to sit down next to Adagio.
  7378. >"Don't be like that!"
  7379. >Fluttershy follows her and takes the other side, effectively sandwiching Adagio.
  7380. >"Please, Dagi, please!"
  7381. >She pleads.
  7382. >"C'mon, Adagio, for revenge!"
  7383. >Aria offers.
  7384. >"For validation!"
  7385. >Shy adds.
  7386. >"Well... I do enjoy both of those reasons."
  7387. >Adagio sighs.
  7388. >"Fine."
  7389. >"Yay! Team Shy!"
  7390. >Flutters hugs Aria and Adagio together, but recoils when she realizes what she's decided on her own.
  7391. >"O-oh! I mean-"
  7392. >"Certainly fits."
  7393. >Adagio agrees.
  7394. >Aria facepalms.
  7395. >"Can't get any worse from here."
  7396.  
  7397. >With the teams formed, it's time to pick characters.
  7398. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahr4BGldzLM
  7399. >"We'll take Mario, since he's the main character!"
  7400. >Rainbow selects.
  7401. >"And we'll be the princess!"
  7402. >Rarity selects.
  7403. >"That is, if it's alright with you, Twilight?"
  7404. >Twilight giggles.
  7405. >"I'm on vacation, so by all means!"
  7406. >"Then let's pick Yoshi! He's an awesome, fire breathing dragon!"
  7407. >Spike wags his tail.
  7408. >"Well, technically, but..."
  7409. >Nah, let him have this.
  7410. >You select Yoshi.
  7411. >"Who does that leave us with?"
  7412. >Aria asks looking over the screen.
  7413. >"How about Luigi?"
  7414. >Fluttershy selects.
  7415. >"He's like our team, underestimated, but should never be counted out."
  7416. >She smiles.
  7417. >Aria rolls her eyes.
  7418. >"Now it REALLY can't get any worse."
  7419. >"Hmm..."
  7420. >Adagio rubs her chin with a devious smile.
  7421. >Everyone decides to play on the Pirate Land board, despite AJ's protests for Western Land, and the game begins.
  7422.  
  7423. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlEg3GdNPsw
  7424. >Two hours and three extra large pizzas later, the game is in it's final turns.
  7425. >And, not surprisingly, it's been pretty close between the teams, thanks to Mario Party's random luck and bullshit.
  7426. >Team Friendship has two stars, and Team Fabulous has three.
  7427. >While Team Awesome and Team Shy are tied at four stars each.
  7428. >Half of that was thanks to Aria's unyielding lust for revenge, and the other half was Shy's luck of finding hidden star blocks.
  7429. >Team Shy was now up for their turn, with Flutters at the controller, and a star was just ahead of them.
  7430. >Interestingly, Team Awesome was actually closer to the star, but if Shy can roll high enough, she'll be able to pass them and take it.
  7431. >Before she rolls the dice, Adagio whispers in her ear.
  7432. >You're pretty sure it's only you who's noticed, but Adagio has been whispering in Aria and Fluttershy's ears throughout the whole game.
  7433. >"C'moooonnnnn low roll!"
  7434. >Rainbow rubs her hands together.
  7435. >"Shut up, Dash!"
  7436. >Aria tells her.
  7437. >Flutters gets an eight, which is more than enough to reach the star.
  7438. >"Yay!"
  7439. >"NO!"
  7440. >Team Awesome shouts.
  7441. >Unfortunately, in her excitement, Fluttershy picks the wrong path AWAY from the star.
  7442. >"Fluttershy, what are you doing?!"
  7443. >Aria yells at her.
  7444. >"O-oh no!"
  7445. >She stammers.
  7446. >Rainbow starts to laugh hysterically, while AJ lets out a low whistle.
  7447. >"Looks like that's game. It's our turn next. Shame though, y'all were bout' to win."
  7448. >"Don't let it get to ya, Shy."
  7449. >Pinkie tells her.
  7450. >"It's a mistake anyone could have made."
  7451. >Sunset adds.
  7452. >"Not reeeaaally."
  7453. >Sonata says under her breath, to which Sunset shushes her.
  7454. >"And no matter what, it's just a game, after all."
  7455. >Twilight gently pats her back.
  7456. >"I know."
  7457. >She concedes sadly.
  7458. >"I just feel bad letting my team down."
  7459. >Adagio and Aria say nothing.
  7460. >It's Team Awesome's turn, and they take the star, increasing their total to five.
  7461. >With only one turn in the game left, it seems like they've won.
  7462.  
  7463. >It's now come back to Team Shy's turn, with Adagio at the controller.
  7464. >Their character, Luigi, is still seemingly on a path to nowhere.
  7465. >You'd think Adagio would just press buttons as quickly as possible to be done with it, but instead, she seems to be concentrating on the dice as if it matters.
  7466. >"Would you hurry it up already?"
  7467. >Rainbow heckles.
  7468. >Finally, she rolls a five.
  7469. >"Oh, don't mind me."
  7470. >She replies as Luigi starts to move.
  7471. >"Just going to talk to this ghost real quick."
  7472. >"Yeah, yeah, talk to the ghost and-WAIT WHAT?!"
  7473. >Rainbow does a double take when Adagio lands on the Boo spot, bringing up the choice to steal coins or a star.
  7474. >"What do you think you're doing?! Don't you dare try to steal our-!"
  7475. >Adagio, of course, selects to steal a star from Team Awesome.
  7476. >"NO!"
  7477. >Rainbow jumps up from her seat.
  7478. >"NO-NO-NO-NO-NO!"
  7479. >She desperately pushes buttons in the hopes of stopping the cheeky ghost.
  7480. >"You know that doesn't do anythin', right?"
  7481. >AJ asks her.
  7482. >Rainbow continues to struggle, but to no avail.
  7483. >Their star is stolen, bringing their total back down to four, while Team Shy increases to five.
  7484. >The game is over, and Team Shy wins.
  7485. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XzwZokGwmg
  7486. >"We did it! Woo hoo~"
  7487. >Flutters cheers.
  7488. >"W-what just happened?"
  7489. >Rainbow mutters falling back into the couch.
  7490. >Everyone else is stunned, save for Pinkie, who giggles.
  7491. >"Nice move, Dagi. It's the exact thing I would have done."
  7492. >She compliments.
  7493. >"I know."
  7494. >Adagio replies with a sly look.
  7495. >"You mean it was a plan all along?"
  7496. >Sunset asks shocked.
  7497. >"That's right."
  7498. >Adagio confirms.
  7499. >"And it worked because you all thought it was normal for Fluttershy to make a mistake like that. You underestimated her."
  7500. >She tells everyone with a grin.
  7501. >"Well I'll be. Guess we did fall for that one hook, line, and sinker."
  7502. >AJ chuckles.
  7503. >Twilight giggles.
  7504. >"Sounds like a lesson worthy of a letter to Princess Celestia."
  7505. >"Good show, Team Shy."
  7506. >Rarity golf claps.
  7507. >Aria jumps up.
  7508. >"Aww yeah! Victory is ours!"
  7509. >"I taught her everything she knows."
  7510. >Sonata tells Sunset with a proud smile.
  7511. >Aria goes up to Rainbow and points at her mockingly.
  7512. >"In your FACE, Dash! Thats what you get, LOSER!"
  7513. >Rainbow retreats into the cushion of the couch bitterly while grumbling.
  7514. >Sunset raises a questioning eyebrow to Sonata, who smiles nervously.
  7515. >"W-well, not EVERYTHING. She learned from Dagi too, after all. Heh."
  7516. >Fluttershy hugs Adagio.
  7517. >"We're the Slumber Party Super Stars! And it's all thanks to you, Dagi! Aren't you happy?!"
  7518. >Adagio grows a faint smile.
  7519. >"Oh, yes. I'm ecstatic. Truly, this achievement is the culmination of my entire life."
  7520. >She says with the kind of dry, dull sarcasm that's second only to Maud.
  7521. >The girls become awkwardly quiet, unsure of how to take that.
  7522. >But Twilight begins to giggle, attracting everyone's attention.
  7523. >She puts a hand on Adagio's shoulder, while using the other to cover her mouth, trying to control herself.
  7524. >But her giggles become louder, until she bursts out with boisterous laughter.
  7525. >Surprisingly, Adagio herself begins to laugh with her, followed by the rest of the girls and Spike.
  7526. >You?
  7527. >You just smile.
  7528. >You've been hoping to see Adagio have a moment like this with the girls for a long time.
  7529. >She's finally allowed herself to have friends.
  7530.  
  7531. >With the game over, it was time for everyone to put on their pajamas, and watch a movie.
  7532. >It took almost twenty minutes of the girls arguing, but they finally settled on watching Beauty and the Beast.
  7533. >"Oh, this music, that ballroom, that DRESS! It's all so divine!"
  7534. >Rarity swoons at the famous dance scene between Belle and the Beast.
  7535. >The girls were all snuggled up tight together on the couch, sharing the biggest, fluffiest blanket you had to offer.
  7536. >Two giant bowls were constantly being passed amongst them.
  7537. >One was filled with just popped popcorn, and the other with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
  7538. >For drinks, they had their choice of warm tea, hot chocolate, or milk.
  7539. >You even made fresh dog biscuits and a warm mug of milk, with a straw, for Spike.
  7540. "Anyone need something else?"
  7541. >You ask standing behind the couch.
  7542. >You were trying to make sure everything was just right for everyone.
  7543. >"Nope."
  7544. >"Ah'm good."
  7545. >"Got everything I need."
  7546. >"This is quite enough, dear, thank you."
  7547. >"Seems perfect according to my guide book on slumber parties."
  7548. >"Yeah! You get an A-plus on the slumber party hosting, Nonny! And I should know, since I wrote that book."
  7549. >Pinkie gives you her seal of approval with a wink.
  7550. >You've been in the kitchen and serving on the girls since the movie started.
  7551. >But it seemed you could take a break now.
  7552. "Glad you guys are enjoying yourselves. If there's anything else, just let me know."
  7553. >You tell them before taking a seat on one of the smaller couches just next to the girls' own.
  7554. >The main, bigger couch directly in front of the tv was already filled past it's limits.
  7555. >And besides, this was the girls' night to be together, so you didn't mind being alone.
  7556. >But to your pleasure, you wouldn't be.
  7557. >Just as you notice Adagio is missing from the couch with the girls, you see her come out of the kitchen with a plate of the extra cookies you made, and a blanket.
  7558. "Dagi, what are you-"
  7559. >She throws the blanket on you, and then gets underneath it to snuggle up to you with a hug, placing the plate of cookies on her blanketed lap.
  7560. >"You don't mind if I sit here..."
  7561. >She picks up a cookie and hands it to you with a smile.
  7562. >"Do you?"
  7563. >You take the cookie with a smile.
  7564. "Not at all."
  7565. >You can hear the girls giggle and whisper at this.
  7566. >Meanwhile, Rainbow, sitting next to Aria, finally brings up something she's been meaning to ask.
  7567. >"So, uh, Ari... what's with the stuffed bear?"
  7568. >She asks Aria, who's holding Teddy with her under the blanket.
  7569. >"This is Teddy. He's adorable. Hugging him instantly gives one great joy."
  7570. >She explains matter-of-factly.
  7571. >"Oh, yeah? ...C-can I hold him?"
  7572. >Rainbow asks earnestly.
  7573. >Aria pulls Teddy away from her.
  7574. >"Sorry, but he doesn't like losers."
  7575. >"Aw c'mon!"
  7576. >Rainbow pouts.
  7577.  
  7578. >You are Adagio.
  7579. >Soon as the movie ends, Anon turns down the volume, and you both look over to see that the girls have all fallen asleep.
  7580. >They're leaning on each other, with some of them even drooling.
  7581. >Rainbow and Aria must have made up, since they're sleeping on each other, while they both hold Teddy together.
  7582. >But the most noticeable one is Pinkie, sprawled out across all the girls' laps, snoring, as Spike sleeps on top of her.
  7583. >"This just might be the cutest thing I've ever seen."
  7584. >Anon whispers to you.
  7585. >You and him struggle to keep your stifled laughter under control.
  7586. >When you get ahold of yourselves, Anon realizes that Twilight is gone.
  7587. >"Hey, where's Twilight?"
  7588. "I think she got up to go to the bathroom."
  7589. >You whisper back.
  7590. >"Ah. Well, what should we do about these guys?"
  7591. "Let them be. They're fine for the night."
  7592. >"I guess so. They do look comfortable. Let's leave the movie on repeat as a night light."
  7593. >He changes the settings appropriately, then quietly stands up.
  7594. >"I'll be getting in bed myself. What about you?"
  7595. "I will too. In my own bed, by the way. I think it's only proper that we stay separate tonight."
  7596. >"I know, I know."
  7597. >He says disappointed, followed by a yawn.
  7598. >"Alright then. Goodnight, Dagi."
  7599. >He says softly with a smile.
  7600. "Goodnight, Anon."
  7601. >You smile back.
  7602. >He quietly walks away, down the hallway, until you hear his door gently close.
  7603. >...
  7604. >Now then.
  7605. >You get up carefully and walk away from the girls, entering the kitchen.
  7606. >But instead of getting a late night snack, you open the backyard door and step outside onto the patio.
  7607. >It's dark, with nothing to illuminate your sight but the stars and moon.
  7608. >It's here you find Twilight, in her yellow pajamas littered with pink hearts, and her pink fuzzy slippers, leaning up against the patio fence, quietly looking up at the night sky.
  7609. >You also take note of the can of whipped cream sitting on top of the fence next to her.
  7610. >You gently close the door behind you, and walk up to and lean on the fence next to Twilight.
  7611. >There's a moment of silence...
  7612. >...
  7613. >...until she speaks up.
  7614. >"Good to see you were able to make it through the whole movie without falling asleep."
  7615. >She congratulates.
  7616. "Of course. I'm not a child like the others."
  7617. >She giggles.
  7618. >"Don't be too hard on them, they've had an exciting day."
  7619. >That just proves how naive they are, but you choose to let the topic end there.
  7620. >...
  7621. >"...You know, there a lot of differences between this world and Equestria. But, I happen to think there are just as many similarities. One of which is... the night sky."
  7622. >You look up as she points to it.
  7623. >"It's just as beautiful here as it is there..."
  7624. "...Except it's not controlled by magic."
  7625. >"So what? A night sky in charge of it's own destiny seems more wondrous to me."
  7626. >She tells you wistfully.
  7627. >You look at the can in between you again.
  7628. "What's with the whipped cream?"
  7629. >"Hmm? Oh!"
  7630. >She takes hold of it.
  7631. >"It's just something I got used to after staying at Pinkie's house last time. Her refrigerator is full of this stuff!"
  7632. >She shakes the can up and sprays some of the whipped cream directly into her mouth.
  7633. "That's not a very dignified thing for a princess to do."
  7634. >You chuckle at her.
  7635. >"Nwo, eh izn't. Bwot, uew nwo wut?"
  7636. >She swallows the whipped cream and licks her lips happily.
  7637. >"I don't care."
  7638. >She says with a smile, then takes another shot.
  7639. >"Wan sum? Iz gud!"
  7640. >She hands you the can, to which you raise an eyebrow, before taking a shot yourself.
  7641. >You've never done this before, since you always thought it was as barbaric as drinking milk out of the carton, but you lick your lips in surprised delight.
  7642. "That's... oddly satisfying."
  7643. >"I know, right?!"
  7644. >She giggles, then resumes looking up at the sky.
  7645. >You place the can back down with a sigh.
  7646. >This is going nowhere.
  7647. >You need to think of way to bring up-
  7648. >"That was a very nice thing you did."
  7649. "...What did I do?"
  7650. >You ask confused.
  7651. >"The way you put so much effort into helping Fluttershy and Aria win the game. I saw you whispering advice and strategy to them. That's something you never would have done the last time we met."
  7652. >You scoff.
  7653. "I just wanted to put Rainbow in her place after she was so loud about it, that's all."
  7654. >"That's a lie."
  7655. >You turn away from her.
  7656. "You can think whatever you want, Sparkle."
  7657. >...
  7658. >"...It's not what I think..."
  7659. >All of a sudden, a shock runs through you, causing your eyes to widen.
  7660. >"...It's what I know..."
  7661. >A sensation... one you haven't felt since that night.
  7662. >You know what it is.
  7663. >You can FEEL it.
  7664. >Slowly, cautiously, you turn back to Twilight, to be met with her staring right at you.
  7665. >...With glowing, purple irises.
  7666. >Not only that, but her hair seems... weightless.
  7667. >As if she were under water.
  7668. >Magic.
  7669. >Real, Equestrian magic.
  7670. >She's positively radiating it.
  7671. >"...I can see right through you, Adagio."
  7672. >She smiles.
  7673. >Your heart races.
  7674. >You start to sweat.
  7675. >Your breathing becomes heavy and shallow.
  7676. >You stare back at her, frozen, mouth agape and slightly trembling.
  7677. >You're scared.
  7678. >You can't help it.
  7679. >It's the exact same magic that overwhelmed and destroyed everything you thought you knew.
  7680. >It's power, the likes of which you've never felt before or since then.
  7681. >Except this time, instead of coming from a divine, celestial being up above, it's mere inches away...
  7682. >...Staring into your eyes.
  7683. >Before you can think of a way to react, Twilight walks away from the fence, over to some of the patio furniture.
  7684. >A small table and two chairs tucked into it.
  7685. >Lifting her hand ever so slightly, a purple glow envelops the farther chair, and it pulls out from the table, all on it's own.
  7686. >Twilight takes a seat in it, and crosses her legs, while still wearing a smile and keeping you dead in her sights.
  7687. >It's obvious she was purposely doing this to intimidate you.
  7688. >And it's absolutely working.
  7689. >She doesn't need six friends to help her sing songs and play music anymore.
  7690. >Right now, at this very moment, she is the most powerful being on this planet.
  7691. >Alone.
  7692. >Instinctively, you push your back to the fence.
  7693. "Y-you-"
  7694. >You catch yourself stammering and try to gulp down your fear.
  7695. "You... mastered your magic. Completely."
  7696. >"Mmhmm."
  7697. >She nods happily.
  7698. >"I figured it out when Sunset unlocked her power during the showdown. In that moment, I could feel it. It was like realizing a key was already there, and all I had to do was turn it."
  7699. >She raises her right hand and allows some magic to envelop it.
  7700. >"It's a bit different than how it works in Equestria though. Instead of using my horn, I have to use my fingers to..."
  7701. >She starts twitching her fingers, which creates small white sparks.
  7702. >"...Fing."
  7703. >She says with a quizzical look, before going back to her smile.
  7704. >"However, it's no less potent."
  7705. "But then... you haven't shown Sunset and the girls how to tap into their power yet."
  7706. >"No."
  7707. >She replies bluntly.
  7708. "...Why?"
  7709. >You ask her with a lost expression.
  7710. >"Because they have to find their own way, like I did. And I know they will, just as I know you'll also find your way, Adagio Dazzle."
  7711. >She answers with the kind of smug, all knowing face that you hate.
  7712. >"In fact..."
  7713. >She lifts a finger slightly again, and the chair closer to you is pulled out.
  7714. >"Why don't we talk about that right now?"
  7715.  
  7716.  
  7717. >Seven days later.
  7718.  
  7719.  
  7720. >You are Anon.
  7721. >It's been a week since the slumber party, and you're happy to report that it was a complete success.
  7722. >The girls had a wonderful time, and you feel it made a positive impact on Adagio.
  7723. >But best of all, no one got in trouble for the lies to all the parental units, which you're particularly thankful for.
  7724. >Interestingly, Twilight stayed long enough to attend monday's classes, sleeping over at Sunset's apartment that sunday.
  7725. >Said she couldn't help attending some school time headed by her alternate dimension mentor, Principal Celestia.
  7726. >Needless to say, it caused a huge stir in the school, what with Twilight seen as a hero and celebrity to all CHS students.
  7727. >She took a particular interest in you those two days, spending almost as much time talking to you as the girls.
  7728. >She was really nice, and even included you in the promise to hang out with the girls next time she visits from Equestria.
  7729. >You never thought you'd be able to say you have a pony princess from another world as your friend.
  7730. >Or that you would someday have royalty as a house guest.
  7731. >You wonder what your parents would think of that.
  7732. >Too bad they'll never know.
  7733. >And now, on this saturday, it's back to the normal routine of picking up Aria and Sonata from their part time jobs.
  7734. >You and Adagio's shift at Donut Joe's has ended, so you're on your way to get them now.
  7735. >"Sonata isn't answering her phone."
  7736. >Adagio informs you from the passenger seat of your car.
  7737. "Not surprising. She's been going on about something special happening at work for a week now. She's probably busy getting ready for it. It's fine, we'll just go get Aria first."
  7738. >You tell her behind the wheel.
  7739. >"I suppose it'll give us time to check out Aria's new workplace."
  7740. "Are you sure it's okay to do that? You remember what happened last time."
  7741. >"She's the one who invited us! Aria's been working there for a while now, and she's been way too happy. I want to see what's so great about this job."
  7742. "I have an idea, but I hope I'm wrong."
  7743.  
  7744. >After finding a parking spot, you both walk into an older government building.
  7745. >It was a building you were already familiar with.
  7746. >One that you didn't have the fondest of memories for.
  7747. >The ridiculously long lines.
  7748. >The grumbling of unhappy people.
  7749. >The droning of old computers.
  7750. >The painfully slow pace.
  7751. >Yes.
  7752. >You were in one of the most frightening places known to man.
  7753. >The DMV.
  7754. >The inside was incredibly drab.
  7755. >There were seemingly over a hundred chairs in the waiting area, but they were all taken.
  7756. >Multiple long, parallel lines of people extended towards the main desk counter.
  7757. >They were split up into rows for each section of the long reception desk.
  7758. >Her mouth agape, Adagio is stunned.
  7759. >"This place... it's..."
  7760. "A nightmare."
  7761. >"Why is it so... beige in here?"
  7762. "To help ease you into thoughts of suicide."
  7763. >"NEXT!"
  7764. >An almost demonic shout booms from behind a section of the main counter.
  7765. >It's Aria, wearing a toned down, business casual outfit, along with a rather perverse smile.
  7766. >A man at the front of the line walks over to her.
  7767. >"John! So good to see you again!"
  7768. >She greets him.
  7769. >"Did you do everything we went over last time?"
  7770. >"Yes. I did."
  7771. >John replies grumpily.
  7772. >"Well then, let's take a look!"
  7773. >John hands her a piece of paper.
  7774. >She goes over it with sharp eyes.
  7775. >"So you filled out all the questions, yes. All the information is correct, yes, yes. Looks like it's all good... except... OOP! Right here!"
  7776. >She points to a corner of the paper excitedly.
  7777. >"What's wrong?"
  7778. >John asks.
  7779. >"See this box? I'm afraid your writing has gone juuuust outside it. That's not within the regulations, soooo you'll have to redo this entire form and get back in line again."
  7780. >She tells him gleefully.
  7781. >"That's absurd! It's BARELY outside the box!"
  7782. >"I know, John, but those are the rules."
  7783. >She hands him back the form.
  7784. >"You were real close though. You'll get it next time, Johnny."
  7785. >The man slams the sheet of paper onto the counter.
  7786. >"I've had enough! I want to make a complaint to your supervisor!"
  7787. >"Is that so? Okay. Hey, Gretta!"
  7788. >Aria shouts over to an elderly woman farther down the counter.
  7789. >"This gentleman wants to file a complaint."
  7790. >"Tell him to fill out a complaint form, mail it to the district office, and we'll get back to him in four to five months."
  7791. >Gretta responds with the tone and cadence of a pre-recorded message.
  7792. >"Four to five months?!"
  7793. >John exclaims.
  7794. >"Yeah, apparently we're real backed up on that stuff.
  7795. >Aria shrugs with a smile.
  7796. >"That does it! I'm going to the district office in person to report this, and you'll ALL be fired! Do you hear me?!"
  7797. >He shouts and points in a threatening manner.
  7798. >Suddenly, Aria's expression and tone become much more serious.
  7799. >"Sir, you're being unruly. In an official government office."
  7800. >She eyes over to the left of John.
  7801. >He follows her line of sight to see an on duty police officer standing against the wall.
  7802. >"You need something, Aria?"
  7803. >The cop asks.
  7804. >"I've got it, Fred."
  7805. >She waves, then turns her attention back to John.
  7806. >"If you continue, I'll have to report this, and your request will be revoked for an entire year."
  7807. >"What?! You can't do that!"
  7808. >"I Can't? Lemme check. Hey, Gretta, can I do that?"
  7809. >"Yeah, sure."
  7810. >Gretta says casually.
  7811. >"Seems like I can."
  7812. >Aria begins to type on an old computer.
  7813. >Now truly comprehending his situation, John becomes panic-stricken.
  7814. >"W-wait! I'm sorry! I'll just quietly fill out that form again and get back in line!"
  7815. >"Are you sure? You don't want to file that complaint anymore?"
  7816. >"Not at all! There's nothing to complain about. I apologize, miss."
  7817. >"WHO are you apologizing to?"
  7818. >Aria taps her shiny new nametag.
  7819. >"Ms. Blaze?"
  7820. >She snaps back to a cheerful tone and smile.
  7821. >"That's right! Apology accepted. And, here you go, a new form."
  7822. >She hands him a fresh, just printed sheet of paper.
  7823. >"We'll be waiting, John."
  7824. >"Yes, Ms. Blaze..."
  7825. >The man walks away, head hung low, defeated.
  7826. >"NEXT!"
  7827. >The entirety of the lines watched this scene with grim, fearful faces.
  7828. >They understood that this was not a place of service, but an iron-fisted dictatorship.
  7829. >You and Adagio are nothing short of completely shocked.
  7830. "Did you see that?! This is worse than I thought! We have to talk to her about this! It's not right!"
  7831. >Adagio rubs her chin.
  7832. >"I don't know."
  7833. "What do you mean you don't know?"
  7834. >"I think... I think I'm kinda proud of her."
  7835. >She says with a smile.
  7836. "Adagio!"
  7837. >You scold.
  7838. >"Okay, okay. Aria!"
  7839. >Adagio waves her arm up high, gaining Aria's attention.
  7840. >She smiles brightly and waves back.
  7841. >"Oh, hey, my ride is here! It looks like my shift is over! And you all know what that means!"
  7842. >She tells the files of people.
  7843. >They let out horrified cries as they realize what's happening.
  7844. >"She doesn't mean?!"
  7845. >"Oh no!"
  7846. >"Please don't!"
  7847. >Aria raises her arms up joyously.
  7848. >"That's right! My window is closing! Gretta will be the only one available to help you for the rest of the day!"
  7849. >A collective cry of agony is let out.
  7850. >Gretta points to a particular section of the line.
  7851. >"Everyone past that point, go home. You won't make it here today."
  7852. >She tells them.
  7853. >The room gasps.
  7854. >"Y-you don't know that!"
  7855. >Someone in the line shouts out.
  7856. >"Yeah! There's still a chance if we don't give up! Don't believe her lies!"
  7857. >Another cheers.
  7858. >More of the line starts joining in the positivity.
  7859. >But Gretta lets out an unsettling laugh, killing the cheering.
  7860. >"You poor, misguided souls. I'm not trying to hurt you, I'm trying to save you."
  7861. >"S-save us?"
  7862. >"I've been here a loooong time, people. I've seen everything, and I know. Oh, you BETTER believe I know."
  7863. >She narrows her eyes with the look of a soldier who's been through countless wars.
  7864. >"It's over."
  7865. >She says coldly.
  7866. >Crushed and broken, sobs emit from the forsaken.
  7867. >Some of them even fall to their knees.
  7868. >"Oh god."
  7869. >"I was so close!"
  7870. >"Not like this..."
  7871. >You shake your head.
  7872. "This is horrible."
  7873. >"This is fantastic!"
  7874. >Adagio grins.
  7875. >You glare at her.
  7876. >She tries to mimic you with a half hearted disapproval.
  7877. >"I-I mean, awful, just awful."
  7878.  
  7879. >"HAHAhahahaaa! I LOVE this job!"
  7880. >Aria laughs from the backseat, holding her sides.
  7881. "Aria, that was was disgusting!"
  7882. >You tell her while driving.
  7883. "You can't treat people like that! It's wrong, and you'll get yourself fired!"
  7884. >"What are you talking about? Everything I do is perfectly within the rules."
  7885. >"Have you ever gotten in trouble for it?"
  7886. >Adagio asks with great interest.
  7887. >"Nope. It's just the way things are handled there."
  7888. >"So you get paid to treat people badly?! That's amazing! Do you think you can get me hired?!"
  7889. >She asks with sparkles in her eyes.
  7890. "Don't even think about it, Adagio."
  7891. >"Oh, I've already moved on from 'thinking.' Now I'm highly considering."
  7892. >She says with a devious smile.
  7893. "Listen you two, just because it's within the rules doesn't make it right. There's such a thing as karma, Aria, and if you keep this up, it's going to bite you in the ass."
  7894. >Adagio rolls her eyes.
  7895. >Aria laughs your warning off.
  7896. >"Yeah right, Anon. Do you believe in Santa Claus too?"
  7897. "You're gonna be sorry, kid."
  7898. >"Ha! I'd like to see it happen!"
  7899.  
  7900. >The parking lot of the toy store is almost completely full.
  7901. >But the lot is huge.
  7902. >You don't remember it ever being this hard to park here.
  7903. >It's a bit far away, but you're thankful to find a spot.
  7904. >"Sonata still isn't answering."
  7905. >Adagio pockets her phone.
  7906. >"So what else is new?"
  7907. >Aria huffs.
  7908. "We'll have to get down again."
  7909. >"Oh c'mon man, I'm hungry! She's probably busy with one of her dumb stunts, and I don't want to get roped into it!"
  7910. >Aria complains.
  7911. >"I'm not excited for that either."
  7912. >Adagio agrees.
  7913. "But you know she hates taking the bus. Do you two really want to leave, and eat without her?"
  7914. >"Nooo."
  7915. >Aria sulks.
  7916. >"We didn't mean that. We're just not in the mood for a kids game right now."
  7917. >Adagio clarifies.
  7918. "Are you sure? You got pretty into it yourself."
  7919. >You tease her.
  7920. >Adagio rubs her forehead.
  7921. >"Please don't remind me."
  7922. >You open your door and get out.
  7923. "Come on you two, let's get this over with. Besides, Sonata really wanted us to see what she's doing today."
  7924. >"Eeehhhrrrrghhh!"
  7925. >Aria groans while flopping around in the backseat.
  7926. >Adagio gets out with sigh, forcing Aria to reluctantly follow your lead into the gigantic toy store.
  7927.  
  7928. >The three of you pass the main entrance and long row of registers, but it's not easy.
  7929. >For some reason, the store is filled with people.
  7930. >It was mostly parents and their children.
  7931. >"Ugh! What's with this crowd?!"
  7932. >Aria asks while shoving her way through.
  7933. "Looks like it'll be a struggle to get anywhere in this place right now."
  7934. >"Makes me worried about what Sonata is planning."
  7935. >Adagio adds.
  7936. >After clearing what seems to be a line of people waiting for something, you form a huddle with the girls.
  7937. "Alright, so I think we should-"
  7938. >"Split up and call each other when we find her, yeah, yeah. We know the drill."
  7939. >Aria interrupts.
  7940. "I was thinking of having the service desk help us this time instead."
  7941. >"Why bother? They weren't any help last time, right, Adagio?"
  7942. >Adagio crosses her arms.
  7943. >"It's true, I don't have much faith in anyone else when it comes to handling Sonata's schemes."
  7944. >"Exactly. We're better off doing this ourselves. I'll be taking this side."
  7945. >Aria begins to make her way through the crowds, towards the left side of the store.
  7946. "That side, huh? Isn't that the side with the Lego section? Where they have a huge pit of Legos, so you can build anything you want?"
  7947. >Aria stops in her tracks.
  7948. >"I-I don't know what you're talking about! Shut up! And just make sure you don't get caught in her hijinks!"
  7949. >She continues on and waves behind her without looking back.
  7950. >Adagio lets out a irritated sigh with an expression to match.
  7951. "Oh ho, what's wrong? Upset at how much these two have taken charge lately?"
  7952. >You tease with a smile.
  7953. >"She's just copying me, not even trying to be original. Whatever, I'll take this side."
  7954. "Whoa there."
  7955. >You stop Adagio before she can walk away.
  7956. >"What is it?"
  7957. "After what happened before, I think you should stick with me."
  7958. >You give her a smug smile.
  7959. "Ya know, to keep you out of trouble."
  7960. >She blushes with a scowl.
  7961. >"I don't need you to babysit me!"
  7962. >She tries to walk away again, but gets pushed back by another group of people.
  7963. >"Aah!"
  7964. >She starts to stumble and fall, but you react in time to catch her, bending down on your knee and cushioning the impact with your chest.
  7965. "You okay?"
  7966. >You help her to stand up.
  7967. >She takes a few breaths.
  7968. >"Yeah... I'm alright."
  7969. >You hold her.
  7970. "It's not just about last time. There's too many people in here right now, and I don't think you should be alone."
  7971. >You take her hand and entwine it with yours.
  7972. "Things are different now. I want you to be by me."
  7973. >You smile at her.
  7974. >She blushes and averts her eyes.
  7975. >"Fine."
  7976. >She musters up a cruel smile.
  7977. >"But what if I told you I'm only allowing this to use you as a shield against the roving cattle?"
  7978. "I'd say 'fine."
  7979. >You answer, mimicking her usual stuck up tone and expression, to which she takes offense.
  7980. "I was going to do that anyway."
  7981. >You tell her confidently.
  7982. >Her blush deepens as she grumbles quietly.
  7983. "Now, I still want to ask the staff for help, so let's see..."
  7984. >You look through the crowds as best you can, and spot multiple employees guiding different rows of lines.
  7985. >You and Adagio walk up to the nearest one, a young woman in her late twenties wearing the store outfit.
  7986. >"Keep moving this way please!"
  7987. >She tells the line while taking notice of you.
  7988. >"Need some help?"
  7989. >She offers.
  7990. "Yeah, we're looking for Sonata. Do you know where she is?"
  7991. >The young woman smiles.
  7992. >"Oh! Are you her family? She's been hoping you'd make it in time for the show!"
  7993. >You and Adagio look at each other.
  7994. "The show?"
  7995. >"Yes! It's just about to start! Though I'm afraid all of the seats, and most of the closer sections are already full. But if you follow this line, you're sure to get a decent view."
  7996. >"Excuse me!"
  7997. >Someone shouts at the end of the line.
  7998. >She waves at them.
  7999. >"Just a second! I've gotta go, but I'll check back on you in a bit."
  8000. >She runs off to the family in need.
  8001. >You and Adagio look around.
  8002. >"A show in a toy store? What's going on?"
  8003. "We might as well check it out. Maybe we'll be able to find Sonata."
  8004. >Still holding her hand, you guide Adagio through the line, shielding her when needed.
  8005. >"Anon, I'm not sure I want people to see us like this."
  8006. >She whines.
  8007. "Relax, there's so many people and so much going on, we won't even be noticed."
  8008. >But as you make your way, you start to hear things from various voices in the crowd.
  8009. >"Oh! Look at that cute couple!"
  8010. >"Ah, to be young again."
  8011. >"She's so pretty!"
  8012. >"What a lucky guy."
  8013. >"I dated a girl as hot as that before I got married."
  8014. >"What was that?!"
  8015. >"Uh! B-but she was NOTHING compared to you, honey!"
  8016. >"Are mommy and daddy going to fight again?"
  8017. >"How does she get her hair so poofy?"
  8018. >Adagio becomes throughly annoyed with a deep blush.
  8019. >"Anooonnn."
  8020. "Compliments! It's all compliments!"
  8021. >You chuckle and wave it off.
  8022. >After traveling through an elongated isle, past one third of the store's length, you arrive at a stage area that has taken up the entire middle section of the store.
  8023. >This is actually where most of Sonata's gun-tag game took place last time.
  8024. >But all of the smaller isles and displays that were used as cover, have been removed to make room for a large stage and seating area.
  8025. >The stage itself looks well built, with closed red curtains, and various cartoonish props scattered around.
  8026. >Right in front of the stage is an open, carpeted area, where children of all ages are sitting down.
  8027. >In front of that are long rows of folding chairs, all of which are taken.
  8028. >After that, it's standing room only.
  8029. >You and Adagio are in the spot farthest away from the stage, but even then, it's not as if you're in a nosebleed section.
  8030. >Besides, your viewing angle is directly in the middle.
  8031. >So as the young lady said, it's decent enough.
  8032. "Look at the size of this audience."
  8033. >"Okay, that's enough of this."
  8034. >She says while wrenching her hand away from yours.
  8035. >"And seriously, what's going on here?!"
  8036. >Just as Adagio asks that, the lighting all throughout the building dims, while the lighting setup of the stage is turned on.
  8037. >"Is everyone ready for an adventure?!"
  8038. >An enthusiastic voice comes to life over the speaker system.
  8039. >"Yeah!"
  8040. >All of the children cheer.
  8041. >A figure runs on stage from behind the curtains.
  8042. >"Then let's start the show!"
  8043. >"Sonata?!"
  8044. >Adagio exclaims.
  8045. >It's definitely her.
  8046. >She's wearing the standard store outfit, along with a hands free microphone.
  8047. >She looks excited.
  8048. >"Come on out, you guys!"
  8049. >She calls to the curtains.
  8050. >A pair of figures emerge this time.
  8051. >A young girl in a brightly colored outfit wearing a backpack, and a puppet in the shape of a colorful monkey.
  8052. >"Here they are! It's Laura and Sneakers!"
  8053. >They wave to the crowd.
  8054. >"Hi, everyone!"
  8055. >The children, along with the adults, clap and cheer.
  8056. >"You'll be joining us for a big adventure today!"
  8057. >Laura tells them.
  8058. >"And I'll be your guide through the story!"
  8059. >Sonata adds.
  8060. "So that's what this is about."
  8061. >"Care to fill me in?"
  8062. >Adagio asks.
  8063. "It's a really popular children's cartoon, Laura the Adventurer. The new season of episodes is coming up, and there's going to be a new toyline. I'm guessing this is advertisement for it."
  8064. >Adagio starts laughing.
  8065. "What's so funny?"
  8066. >It takes her a moment to catch her breath.
  8067. >"Of course you would know so much about something so childish."
  8068. "I like cartoons, okay? A lot of teenagers and adults do too! They just don't talk about it."
  8069. >She laughs again and pats you on the arm.
  8070. >"Good for you, Nonny! You're a big boy who can do whatever he wants!"
  8071. >She patronizes and continues to laugh.
  8072. >Hearing this, a few others around you chuckle as well.
  8073. >You scoff and cross your arms, which Adagio gets a kick out of.
  8074. >"I see a loooot of people out there! We'll need everyone's help!"
  8075. >Sonata says while scanning over the huge crowd with one hand above her eyes.
  8076. >She suddenly stops while looking straight ahead, in your direction.
  8077. >She grows a huge smile.
  8078. >"So I'm really glad you could make it here today!"
  8079. >No doubt about it, you both can tell that was for you two.
  8080. >She spotted you and Adagio out of this whole crowd.
  8081. "She was able to find us thanks to your huge, vibrant-orange, cheesy poof hair! Good for you!"
  8082. >You return the favor with a snarky smile and arm patting of your own.
  8083. >"Shut up, Asparagus."
  8084. >She grumbles while slapping your hand away.
  8085. >The theme music of the cartoon starts playing.
  8086. >"Come on, everyone! You know the words!"
  8087. >Sonata starts singing along with the two main characters, leading the children along.
  8088. "...Sonata looks like she's having fun, and I'm happy for her, but I don't understand why she's playing the part of the narrator."
  8089. >"Because all of the staff suggested her for the part!"
  8090. >You both turn to your right and see the same young woman from before.
  8091. "Suggested?"
  8092. >"Uh-huh! This show is on tour for all of our store locations, and the part of the narrator is decided by the individual store's staff."
  8093. >Adagio raises an eyebrow.
  8094. >"And you REALLY thought the best option for this was Sonata?"
  8095. >"Of course! Even though she's only been here a short time, Sonata's become invaluable for us. She's like a walking encyclopedia for every toy in here, and everyone loves her, especially the kids! She was voted unanimously for the part!"
  8096. >The woman smiles.
  8097. "That's great to hear. We had no idea."
  8098. >"I just assumed she was goofing off most of the time."
  8099. >Adagio adds.
  8100. >"Not at all! I would know, I'm this store's manager."
  8101. "You're the manager?!"
  8102. >"Yep! Case Fresh, but everyone just calls me Casey."
  8103. >She offers her hand, and you take it for a handshake.
  8104. "Nice to meet you, Casey."
  8105. >"Likewise! She talks about you guys all the time, and asked me to take care of you."
  8106. >That's why she's being so nice.
  8107. >The theme song ends and the red curtains raise, revealing a colorful background, and another set of curtains.
  8108. >"LET'S GO ON AN ADVENTURE!"
  8109. >Sonata, Laura, and Sneakers cheer.
  8110. >The crowd cheers with them.
  8111. >"Well, I'll be around making sure things go smoothly. If you need anything, just ask."
  8112. >Casey waves and walks off, leaving you both to enjoy the show.
  8113.  
  8114. >"Here we are! We finally made it to King Numerical's castle!"
  8115. >Laura announces in front of a stone castle background.
  8116. >"This is where he's hidden away all the stolen letters of the alphabet! We'll have to sneak in and be careful not to get caught!"
  8117. >Sonata reminds the audience.
  8118. >"That's where I come in!"
  8119. >Sneakers boasts.
  8120. >Adagio chuckles.
  8121. "Having a good time?"
  8122. >"This whole thing is so stupid, but Sonata seems to be enjoying herself. I guess that's all that matters."
  8123. >She says with a warm smile.
  8124. >"Alright! We opened the big wooden door, with the big key! Now we can sneak in and..."
  8125. >The young actress playing Laura gets distracted, as the curtains at the far left of the stage begin to rustle about.
  8126. >The crowd takes notice.
  8127. >"N-now we can sneak in and-"
  8128. >From behind the rustling, another figure emerges on stage.
  8129. >"There you are, Sonata!"
  8130. "Aria?!"
  8131. >"Aria?!"
  8132. >You and Adagio exclaim in unison.
  8133. "Shit! We forgot to call her!"
  8134. >The crowd starts to murmur.
  8135. >"Is this part of the show?"
  8136. >An adult asks.
  8137. >"I'm not sure."
  8138. >Another replies.
  8139. >Sonata and Laura seem startled as Aria walks over closer.
  8140. >"We've been looking all over for you! I'm hungry, so I don't care about whatever stupid game you're playing right now."
  8141. >Aria grabs Sonata by the arm and tries to drag her off stage.
  8142. >"Now come on, let's go!"
  8143. >"What does that idiot think she's doing?!"
  8144. >Adagio angrily whispers with her hands on top of her head.
  8145. >After a few steps, Sonata yanks her arm away.
  8146. >"Unhand me, you fiend!"
  8147. >She shouts dramatically.
  8148. >"Fiend? What are you... wait, what's all this?"
  8149. >Aria squints her eyes at the huge audience in the darkened building.
  8150. >Adagio facepalms.
  8151. >"She just now noticed?!"
  8152. >Sonata raises her hands up.
  8153. >"Everyone! It seems we've encountered the dreaded Purple Grump!"
  8154. >"H-hey!"
  8155. >Aria stammers.
  8156. >"This grumpy fiend HATES fun! And will stop at nothing to ruin our adventure!"
  8157. >The children oooo and ahhh at this new turn of events, while the adults murmur again.
  8158. >"Is this really a character in the show?"
  8159. >"I've never seen her before."
  8160. >"She does look grumpy and miserable though."
  8161. >Aria begins to get upset.
  8162. >"Sonata, what do you think you're-"
  8163. >"There is only one way to defeat the Purple Grump! WE MUST SING THE MAGICAL PURPLE GRUMP SONG!"
  8164. >Adagio is so shocked, and smiles so big and wide, she places her hand over her mouth.
  8165. >"Oh, noooooooo."
  8166. >She chuckles deeply.
  8167. "Oooooohhh yyyeeeeessssss!"
  8168. >You confirm with an unabashedly excited grin.
  8169. >Aria also figures out where this is going.
  8170. >"Sonata, don't you dare-"
  8171. >"Follow along with me, everyone!"
  8172. >Sonata begins to clap rhythmically to her words, just as you both did before.
  8173. >"Clap if you believe, make her go away! Clap if you believe, the Purple Grump can't stay! COME ON, EVERYBODY!"
  8174. >Sonata looks over to the young actress playing Laura, who despite being completely lost, decides to trust in Sonata.
  8175. >She nods at Sonata and starts to join in.
  8176. >"C-clap if you believe, make her go away!"
  8177. >Sneakers also starts clapping his puppet hands together.
  8178. >This is the push all the kids need to start clapping and singing along.
  8179. >"Clap if you believe, the Purple Grump can't stay!"
  8180. >Aria becomes dumbstruck at the spectacle that's taking place.
  8181. >"We've almost got it! Everyone, together!"
  8182. >Sonata encourages.
  8183. >With so many singing along now, the adults finally start to join in.
  8184. >"CLAP IF YOU BELIEVE, MAKE HER GO AWAY! CLAP IF YOU BELIEVE, THE PURPLE GRUMP CAN'T STAY!"
  8185. >The chanting and clapping has become so deafening now, Aria can't take it anymore.
  8186. >She throws her fists into the air and shouts at the audience.
  8187. >"This is stupid! You're all stupid! I HATE YOU ALL!"
  8188. >She then runs away, behind the curtains, from whence she came.
  8189. >Sonata jumps for joy.
  8190. >"Oh my gosh! It worked! THE PURPLE GRUMP IS GONE!"
  8191. >"WOOOOWWWW!"
  8192. >All of the children start cheering and jumping along with Sonata.
  8193. >"It really was magic!"
  8194. >"We did it!"
  8195. >"Our own real life magic!"
  8196. >Even the adults applaud and cheer with their children.
  8197. >You hear some of their murmurs again.
  8198. >"I guess it's a new character for the new season."
  8199. >"Just another toy we'll have to buy."
  8200. >"I kind of feel bad for the Purple Grump."
  8201. >Sonata calms herself down to give a warning.
  8202. >"But remember, everyone! This magic is limited, so we have to use it sparingly, okay?"
  8203. >"OKAY, SONATA!"
  8204. >The kids all reply.
  8205. >Sonata giggles.
  8206. >"Hee hee! I'm so proud of you guys!"
  8207. >Meanwhile, you and Adagio have been laughing yourselves to tears.
  8208. >Hunched over and leaning on each other, you're both desperately trying to catch your breath.
  8209. >But the two of you find this whole ordeal so funny, you end up fueling each others laughter even more.
  8210. >"Hahahaha!"
  8211. >Adagio tries to wipe away some of her tears, only to get black smudge all over her hands.
  8212. >"Shit! My mascara is running. Hahah!"
  8213. >She rubs her hands and face all over your sleeve.
  8214. "Awww! Don't rub it off on meee!"
  8215. >"Shut up! I didn't bring any tissues with me! Haha! H-how was I supposed to know that the Purple Grump was going to make her grand debut to the world! AHAHAHA!"
  8216. >You both burst out laughing all over again.
  8217. >It takes several minutes to finally calm down enough to catch your breaths.
  8218. >"Haaaa... hwwoooo..."
  8219. >She wheezes and shakes a bit, still holding onto your arm to keep her balance.
  8220. >"Ohhh... oh my god. I don't think... I've ever laughed so much in my life."
  8221. >You cough a few times.
  8222. "W-well... there it is."
  8223. >You motion to the stage with a satisfied smile.
  8224. "Karma, just like I said. So, how about it, Dagi, still interested in a job at the DMV?"
  8225. >"No thanks. I think I'll stick to donuts."
  8226. >She stifles a giggle, trying to keep herself from going into another laughing fit.
  8227. "Good choice."
  8228. >"By the way, I noticed you didn't join in on the chanting back there."
  8229. "There was no need."
  8230. >You smile proudly at Sonata, who continues the show on stage.
  8231. "...The student has become the master."
  8232.  
  8233. >It took some time to calm Aria down after that.
  8234. >But she eventually had to concede that it was her own fault for putting Sonata in that position.
  8235. >Interestingly, you also found out later, after this event, she started making an effort to be much, MUCH nicer at her job in the DMV.
  8236. >Go figure.
  8237.  
  8238.  
  8239. >Three days later, you gather the girls in the living room to tell them something important.
  8240. >"So what's this all about?"
  8241. >Aria asks.
  8242. >You hesitate to speak for a moment.
  8243. "...I just got off the phone with my parents. They'll be coming home in about a week. So, I'm sorry to say this, but... you won't be able to stay here anymore."
  8244. >You tell them sadly.
  8245. >You expect them to become upset, panicked and scared.
  8246. >Instead, they just look at each other casually.
  8247. >"Oh, is that all?"
  8248. >Adagio responds.
  8249. >"No biggie."
  8250. >Aria adds.
  8251. "Don't you understand what this means? You'll have to find somewhere else to stay."
  8252. >"Well, duh."
  8253. >Aria rolls her eyes.
  8254. >"We know that."
  8255. >Adagio tells you.
  8256. "Then why are you so calm about this?"
  8257. >"Because we've been expecting this, so Aria and I have been looking at apartments."
  8258. "You have?! Since when?"
  8259. >"Since I started working at the DMV. Now that we've all got jobs, it'll be easy to keep an apartment."
  8260. >Aria answers.
  8261. >"In fact, we already decided on one."
  8262. >You breath out a sigh of relief.
  8263. "That's great. Takes a load off me."
  8264. >"Yeah, good for you. Now you don't have to kick us out. But what happened to letting us stay as long as we like?"
  8265. >Adagio teases playfully.
  8266. >You give her a sly smile.
  8267. "Hey, the fine print on that offer is 'you can stay as long as you like, until you find a new place.' My parents were always going to come back eventually."
  8268. >She smiles back.
  8269. >"I suppose that's true."
  8270. >"But you'll still help us move, right? The fine print should allow that much."
  8271. >Aria bargains.
  8272. "Lucky for you, moving services are included. I'll just borrow my uncle's van again."
  8273. >"We'd better start packing now."
  8274. >Adagio tells the girls.
  8275. >"What's the rush? We've got a week."
  8276. >Aria says.
  8277. >"I don't care! We're moving in three days. I'd rather be ahead of schedule than behind. So don't be lazy about it!"
  8278. >"Fine."
  8279. >Sonata, who's been twiddling her thumbs and pouting, runs into your arms and hugs you.
  8280. >"But I don't wanna go, Anon! This has been the best sleepover ever!"
  8281. >You chuckle and return her embrace.
  8282. "This isn't goodbye, Sonata. I'll come visit all the time."
  8283. >"But how will we get to play all your old games?"
  8284. >Aria perks up and walks closer.
  8285. >"Hey, yeah, what about the games?"
  8286. "You can come visit too. My parents won't mind."
  8287. >Aria shakes her head.
  8288. >"Unh-uh, that ain't gonna work. We JUST started Majora's Mask!"
  8289. >"Yeah, Anon!"
  8290. >Sonata agrees.
  8291. >They've become completely hooked on your retro game collection.
  8292. >You put your hands up.
  8293. "Okay, okay, how about this, I'll let you borrow the N64 for a while."
  8294. >"And the GameCube?!"
  8295. "No! Nothing else. If you want more, you'll have to start collecting on your own."
  8296. >"Fair enough for now. Long as I get to play my Legend of Teddy. Isn't that right, Mr. Hero?"
  8297. >Aria asks the stuffed bear while hugging it.
  8298. "That reminds me, I have some good news for you, Aria."
  8299. >"Oh?"
  8300. "I talked to my sister about how you love Teddy, and she said that if you really care for him that much, she agreed to give him to you."
  8301. >Sonata's eyes widen.
  8302. >"Anon, you mean?"
  8303. "Yep! Teddy is officially yours now, Aria. Isn't that great?"
  8304. >You smile.
  8305. >"...Huh. That's really nice of you two. I appreciate that, Anon."
  8306. >She replies casually.
  8307. >You raise an eyebrow.
  8308. "...That's it? I expected you to jump for joy and get all excited. Aren't you happy?"
  8309. >Aria simply laughs.
  8310. "Uhh...?"
  8311. >"Oh, don't get me wrong, it's a very nice gesture, and I am happy, but..."
  8312. >She walks up to you and places a hand on your shoulder.
  8313. >Her voice becomes deep, her expression serious, and her eyes stare straight into your soul.
  8314. >"Teddy was always coming with me... by ANY means necessary."
  8315. >For the first time ever, you're genuinely intimidated by Aria.
  8316. "I... I see."
  8317. >You reply quietly.
  8318. >"Just remember, Anon..."
  8319. >She smiles, pats your shoulder, and walks past you towards her room.
  8320. >"...Never get in the way of a woman and her teddy bear."
  8321. >"I wish you'd have been that serious about our plan, else we'd be ruling the world right now!"
  8322. >Adagio yells after her.
  8323. >Sonata simply giggles.
  8324.  
  8325.  
  8326. >Twenty one days later.
  8327.  
  8328.  
  8329. >You are Adagio.
  8330. >After taking what's become an almost routinely bus route, you've arrived at your destination.
  8331. >The doorsteps of a small, one person apartment.
  8332. >You ring the doorbell, and moments later, Sunset Shimmer opens her door.
  8333. >"Lady Diagio! How lovely to see you! To what do I owe the pleasure?"
  8334. >She welcomes with a fake, over exaggerated, elegant tone and mannerism.
  8335. "Cut the act, Shimmer. You know why I'm here."
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