Her eyes snapping open, the ringing of the panda bear alarm clock had Fluttershy rise from her bed in a fury, tightly seizing it in both hands to growl "What do you want from me?!"
As it continued to ring in her hands, she surmised that it probably wanted her to wake up, like a good little alarm clock would. Sighing and feeling just a little bit silly, she turned it off as heavenly visions of dreamland grew fainter by the second. Still, she took a moment to jot down what she could remember in her diary.
She'd heard that doing that helped remember dreams better, and could even lead to lucid dreaming. Couldn't hurt to try!
"You brought gum to school? For shame, Sweetie, I thought you were an honor student."
"I-I don't chew it in class, or even between classes, I just... um, anyway, t-try it yourself." Remembering how things had gone with the sugar sticks, she added a slightly frantic addendum. "A-and, this is meant to be chewed until it loses its flavor, not swallowed!"
Giggling, Adagio nodded, popping the little strip into her mouth and gnashing it between her teeth. Then something strange happened. It must have registered on her face, because Fluttershy (chewing her own piece) was smiling at her.
"It's a bit like chewing rubber, isn't it?"
"It... Very soft, sweet rubber, maybe." Ooh, idea! But not yet... "So, how are you holding up lately?"
"I'm..." Instinct was to insist that she was fine and not let her loved ones worry about her more than they already might have, but she thought of the Golden Rule in regard to how Adagio had completely opened up to her. "I'm doing okay. The thought of everyone knowing still makes me just a little nervous, but I think the shock to everyone else must be dying down, because the most recent comments have been less about surprise and more about, uhm," she tried hard to say this part without blushing, with her usual success rate, "what we do together." Also as usual, Adagio fixed her with a scary smirk.
"Really? And what might that be?"
Feeling herself glow brighter, Fluttershy turned her attention to her index fingers, the tips of which she idly touched together while trying to think of school-safe wording. "W-well, uh, n-nothing t-too, um... detailed, just... like, h-holding, kissing, t-touching, and-"
"Sorry," Adagio said with a coy grin, "what is it? I can't hear you, Sweetie."
"Oh. Well, that's not so bad, is it? We touch one another all the time, don't we?"
"N-not like, I-I mean-"
"Describe it to me."
As there was no hiding the glow on her cheeks anymore, she looked up. "WHAT?!" Fluttershy's spine tingled at the sight of the smug smirk (all the more impressive while she was still chewing the gum) Adagio was giving her while leaning back on the bench, a spell-binding gleam in her eyes firmly reminding her that Adagio could do whatever she wanted with her.
"Tell me, in detail, what they've been saying about us. I'm waiting."
Shivers running through her skin at the order, Fluttershy did her best to remember some of the comments she'd read just under an hour ago. Adagio kept her fiendish grin as Fluttershy stammered out some of their classmates' speculations on how they spent their time together, which involved things from babbling at each other in baby-talk, to stripping one another's clothes off and heavily fondling one another, with one or two suggesting that things had gone much further. She laughed when she heard the one about Fluttershy stealing her panties, amazed that that joke was still alive on some level, but when Her Sweetie was nearing her limit, Adagio smiled beneficently.
"Alright, I think I get the general idea. In fact, you said it all loudly enough that I'm pretty sure-" she pointed over Fluttershy's shoulder, "they do too."
Eyes widening, Fluttershy whipped her head around to see... nobody. She had barely enough time to register that it was a trick before Adagio pounced on her with an assault of tickles and gentle neck-kissing that had Fluttershy gasping for breath between uncontrollable giggles. It was a good thing that Adagio relented on her own after about a minute of that, because Fluttershy wasn't sure she could coherently pronounce 'Squirrel' if she'd needed to.
When Fluttershy had just about caught her breath, Adagio shot her a smirk. "I didn't see anything quite like that in the comments, but they're sure to get a better idea soon."
Was it time? Were they starting today? Adagio's wording made it just ambiguous enough that she wasn't entirely sure, which was probably intentional, and, knowing Adagio, might have even meant she'd have to formally ask Adagio to start teasing her in public just so she didn't go through the day constantly expecting it, like back when-
She looked at Adagio with a curious head-tilt. "...'Didn't see'...? You've, already seen the...?"
Winking, Adagio gave her a triumphant grin. "Yep!"
"You, if y-you already knew, then what, why did-" She was cut off by Adagio's maniacal laughter, which was what clued her in that Adagio asked her to tell her just to hear her say those things. The thought drew a timid smile to her already-flushed face. "You're horrible."
"You're too kind," she said with a haughty smirk and a dismissive hand-wave, "but as you've likely pieced together, yes, that means Ria, Nata, and I have accounts on the MyStable site now. No bites so far, but we'll keep checking."
Beaming, Fluttershy pulled out her phone. "Can you add me?!" This won a confused little look that quickly shifted to a blend of surprise and recognition as Adagio drew her own phone and started looking through screens.
"Oh, right! Which of these buttons is the...?"
"Hehe, it's this one!"
Fluttershy knew it was with a bit of an unfair advantage, but in the back of her mind, being Adagio's first friend over the internet felt like some kind of accomplishment. With any luck, maybe Aria and Sonata would let her be their first too! Unless the sirens had already added each oth-
They had. Darnit.
When that was finished, Adagio was smirking again. "So," she pointed to her own mouth to indicate the gum she was still chewing, "you said this was a bit like chewing rubber. Hobby of yours?"
Snickering, Adagio stood up and turned to walk away. "Nothing, nothing, forget I mentioned it." She paused long enough to loudly whisper over her shoulder. "For now."
Chewing on the thought as much as the gum, Fluttershy couldn't quite pin-point how Adagio's last statement was suggestive, but she was sure it was. The question was whether to try to ask directly or figure it out herself and risk exploding with embarrassment at a bad-OH! Fluttershy gulped.
If I figure it out in the middle of class or something, it might be like kissing in public!
It was a trap. A humiliation time-bomb. One that, if she was lucky, would go off in total privacy if she didn't cave and ask Adagio what it meant, thus having it sprung on her then and there, and then probably rubbed in, in typical Adagio fashion. This, she decided, was a whole new kind of torment.
Stares and whispers. It wasn't constant today, but no matter how many times in her life she'd experienced them, nor in what context, they always made Fluttershy nervous. Even in the times shortly after she and her friends had helped save the school, the admiring looks and approving sentiments were just as anxiety-inducing as those she'd gotten in middle school, even if for completely different reasons. On the bright side, at least she still had the warding shout-thought to block them out as best she could, give or take the unfortunate moments in which she made eye-contact with people.
She couldn't just not watch where she was going, because bumping into things where people could see her was much more embarrassing, so each look that pierced her defenses sent fleeting waves of fear, worry, and self-consciousness rippling through her mind, making it even harder to maintain a normal walking stance.
I don't care, because Adagio Dazzle loves me! She loves me and I love her! We are dating! I am going out with Adag-
Then it hit her that they hadn't been on a date since the trip to the mall, because she wasn't sure going over to each others' houses for dinner (and meeting respective families) counted.
I should fix that.
...I could fix that!
Everyone knew now. There was no point in being careful or quiet about it anymore. They could go out on a date together, just the two of them, together, in public, and nothing would be at risk of getting worse! Anything anyone could glean from seeing the two of them together was already public knowledge, and there'd be nothing to clue anyone in that Rainbow and Rarity were seeing (platonically, in Rainbow's case) Aria and Sonata, respectively!
What could we do together? What do people do on normal dates again? Dinner and movies? We can't just clothes-shop every time.
I SAID QUIET!!
You'll be back.
Um... Anyway... My first impulse is to ask Rarity about these things, but talking about dates when she can't (openly) go on any herself might upset her, even if she pretended otherwise for my sake. Maybe I could just leave it to Adagio to decide where we go, it was her that came up with the mall date, right? But, I don't want her to feel like she has to do everything, and it'd be nice to treat her to more than just candy in the mornings.
What did Twilight say, during the Battle? That it didn't matter what they did, just as long as they did it as friends? Maybe the same thing worked for dates; just as long as they had a good time together, it didn't matter what they were doing. It wasn't romantically conventional as far as she knew, but would Adagio like petting animals at the shelter? Playing with the critters? Just feeding fish?
Why does thinking about fish and Adagio always make me feel like I'm being racist?
Oh, nature walks! Long walks through quiet wilderness, or even just the park! That'd be romantic, right? She could just picture it; the two of them walking hand in hand, the sun neatly lighting up the world around them, but not shining so bright as to get in their eyes (timing the walk for the right time of day would be important), birds chirping, wind gently rustling through the trees, squirrels... keeping to themselves. But, in a peaceful, beauty-of-nature kind of way! Adagio probably had all kinds of things she'd like to do together too, given all the different activities she and the others tried to fill time with before settling on CHS, so the possibilities were endless!
It was while daydreaming about peaceful outings and countless intimate moments together that Fluttershy picked up various voices again.
"-ust look at her face!"
"Smiling and blushing like that sorta says it all, huh?"
"Can you blame her? If I had that body all to myself, I'd be-ow!"
"Oh, come on, it's Fluttershy!"
"It's Fluttershy with Adagio Dazzle."
"Am I gonna have to follow you around today?!"
Her ears and the rest of her face burning, Fluttershy kept her head down and went her next class as quickly as possible without running in the halls. If nothing else, a date might help take their minds off all this for a while.
It was weird to think that the Confident Walk, with all its sultry hip-swinging, made Fluttershy feel so collected when it used to make her so nervous, but marching through the gym was very calming. Then she turned around for the return trip and nearly jumped out of her skin at the sight of Adagio, wearing a familiar, evil grin.
"Put these on," she said without preamble, holding up a pair of white, high-heeled shoes.
Fluttershy looked them over, but didn't quite understand what was going on here. "Um-"
"We don't have a lot of time if you don't want to be late to class. I won't make you, but," she said with a wink, "-good girls are rewarded, Sweetie."
And there was that wicked, irresistible look again, the one that made Fluttershy's insides shiver and her outsides tingle. Her mind was going just a little fuzzy trying to riddle out what Adagio was about to make her do, but she knew one thing: She very much liked being rewarded.
Taking the heels and sitting on the bottom seat of the nearest bleacher, Fluttershy switched her shoes, getting the next instruction when she stood up.
"Good. Now walk, as you were, to the other end of the Gym and back."
Fluttershy glanced around the Gym, not seeing anyone at the doors, but... "I-is anyone watching?"
"Maybe," Adagio answered with a smirk, "will that stop you?"
"Uh..." She looked around a few more times, but even if it was possible someone was watching through a door-window and she just hadn't spotted them, the clock was ticking, and indecisive girls weren't necessarily good girls. She very much liked being rewarded...
Gulping, Fluttershy took the first, slightly shaky step, not accustomed to the feel of doing the Confident Walk with heels on, but the adjustment came to her in just a few more steps. It still took a little getting used to, but despite the warm blush spreading across her face, she settled into a comfortable rhythm by the time she was halfway across the Gym, walking almost exactly like Adagio herself!
Adagio had just a little more swing to her step, as Fluttershy had noticed through careful study, because she had more to... swing with, but she knew it was still close!
The thought was confirmed when she turned around, seeing Adagio just where she'd been standing, watching her with a bright, maybe even prideful grin. She didn't say a word as Fluttershy sashayed back to her (though she couldn't do it while looking directly at Adagio the whole time), smiling a little herself. Fluttershy smiled wider when Adagio pulled her in for a hug, gently brushing the top of her head.
"Good girl, Sweetie."
Drinking in the quiet praise, Adagio's congratulatory voice flooding her insides with warmth, Fluttershy let herself melt into the embrace with a soft sigh. Unfortunately, with their limited time together, it couldn't last. Tempted as she was to latch onto Adagio like an affection-starved leech (if blood were affection, or something), she didn't do anything to stop her from pulling away, but Adagio did say something to brighten her spirits a little after she'd put her own shoes back on.
"We'll talk about your reward later," she said over her shoulder while walking away, the white heels in one hand, "see you again soon, Sweetie!"
Watching her go, Fluttershy was just a little confused.
'Later'? Was the hug not the reward...? Is there more? Did she slip me something again?
The warning bell didn't exactly help her think, but she couldn't find anything on her person even after a thorough search in the bathroom between classes.
Applejack sighed. "Still nothin', Rare?"
Rolling her eyes, Rarity put her phone away. "It's a gossip network, not a spy agency!" The rest at the table giggled, but it was true, and she didn't care what Cherry Crash said to the contrary.
"I'unno," said Rainbow while scratching her head, "it sounds sorta feasible to me. What else do you call a bunch of people that make it their job to know what everyone else is up to?"
Unamused, Rarity answered in a humorless deadpan. "We do not 'make it our job,' we simply discuss points of interest witnessed by ourselves or oth-... What is...?"
The Rainbooms' collective attention was seized by a paper airplane sliding to a landing on their table, Fluttershy immediately recognizing the pink cursive on the white rectangle sticking out of the plane's middle fold. Unfortunately, Pinkie Pie had faster hands, reaching out to snatch it for a better look. From the way her eyes widened and her face quickly turned to a deeper shade of pink, Fluttershy was right in thinking that it was another picture from Adagio. Lighting up even brighter at the thought of someone else, especially one of her friends, seeing one of those pictures, Fluttershy startled herself by reaching out to take it without even asking!
It was a picture of Adagio from the neck down, lying in a provocative pose on her bed while nestled in her own outspread hair, clad only in thin, tight, pink lingerie-
-with one of her hands held out to squeeze the bedspread beneath her in a way that tickled the imagination. Nothing explicit was visible (though she'd have to use the magnifying glass to make sure when she got home...), but it was still an incredibly suggestive picture! Turning it over, she read the message.
I've been sleeping much better thanks to you. Any time you'd like me to return the favor, just let me know~! ♥
'Return the favor'...?
It was hard to tell sometimes if Adagio's sentiments were more sweet or seductive, but in the context of the picture, she had to quickly shake her head to keep from drifting into fantasy land again. Doing so brought her back to the lunch table, where her friends were all leaning in close to see the other side of the paper she was holding. The one with the pic-
"EEP!!" She curled in on herself to hide the scandalous photo just as much as her own face, though not so much that she couldn't still see the others through a gap in her hair. It was only after she did so that her friends looked away, bar Pinkie, who remained frozen in her hunched-over position.
"Y'know," Applejack thought aloud while fanning herself with her own hat, "Ah ain't sure if Ah'm more worried 'bout this, or jealous. It ain't a whole lot of either, but it's somethin'!"
Rarity nodded while making similar motions with a hand. "She is either remarkably bold, or very confident in her aim. Can you imagine sending such a thing of yourself and the plane not landing where it was intended?"
Rainbow had no words for the whole phone-free sexting thing Adagio and Fluttershy apparently had going, but tried to forget her own blush by busying herself with Pinkie, who, still flushed and unblinking, sat rigidly where she'd been while looking at the picture. Even though it wasn't visible anymore. "Uh... You okay there?" She snapped her fingers in front of Pinkie's face a few times, shook her, and wiggled a pudding cup under her nose before looking to the others. "I think she's broken."
"That's nice, Rainbow," said a slightly flustered Sunset, who would apologize later for not really having been listening. For now, she managed to look at the still-trembling Fluttershy. "Sooo... Things are good between you two, at least?"
Distantly glad that they weren't rubbing in what already would have counted for a nightmare scenario to a weaker, less confident Fluttershy, she answered with a sheepish little smile.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the lunchroom, Aria snorted with amusement before looking away from the Rainbooms' table. "I still don't wanna know what it was, but it really looks like you set off a bomb over there."
Brushing a hand through her hair, Adagio grinned haughtily. "I try. Any bites on the new accounts yet?"
"Nothin' yet," Sonata said while looking down at her phone, "but it's only been like, a day." She frowned. "Still, I at least expected some mean, just-get-out-of-our-school-already comments." The surprised, concerned looks she got from the other two (even Aria!) said she had some 'splaining to do. "I mean, yea, nobody's talked to us like that since we got here, but if they did, it'd at least narrow down who we could buddy up to, y'know?"
Relieved that Sonata had not been getting bullied and not saying anything (as much as it would be a pot calling a kettle something coming from her), Adagio Secret Insomnia Dazzle shook her head. "I'm afraid it's not that simple, what with forgiveness supposedly being big around here and anyone at all giving us a chance meaning we would have to overlook a few harsh words."
The table was quiet as Aria visibly mulled something over, Sonata attempting to stick a carrot into one of her pigtails while she and Adagio waited. The carrot was fumbled when Aria suddenly moved, snapping her fingers and smiling without a hint of awareness at the attempted vegetable accessorizing.
"So wait, we've gotta be all selectively-forgetful and understanding no matter what anyone does to us, right? But everyone else has to let go of the stuff we do, too? We're actually getting fair treatment somewhere?"
"In theory," Adagio answered carefully, "as long as they want to live up to this school's on-and-off mantra too."
"But it means that for anyone that does, we'll be on even footing?"
Briefly pondering the question, Adagio couldn't see it otherwise, so she nodded.
Folding her hands behind her head in a relaxed manner and leaning backward, Aria made brief, spastic arm-flailing motions when she remembered that cafeteria chairs had no back part to lean on, nearly falling off her seat. Even so, she ignored the amused smiles the others were giving her and beamed. "Sweet!"
Sitting in class and counting down the minutes until she could see Her Sweetie in Art, Adagio thought about the time she'd told Fluttershy that she could probably ruin this school with information gleaned from all the people she'd overheard, all the people that either lacked the self-control to keep their voices down, or didn't care. She wondered if Rarity's gossip group operated the same way; a few mindful ears picking up details during busy-work class sessions like this one.
"C'mon, it's gotta be her! She feuded with Adagio for weeks, got her ass handed to her, and dug up dirt on her for revenge!"
"Told you before, Trixie wasn't the only one that never left a comment on those pics. I looked just this morning and didn't see any from Flash, Vinyl, or, y'know, their biggest enemies; any of the Rainbooms. Er, 'sides Fluttershy."
"Yea, but... Sunset Shimmer said they were pretty much cool with the Dazzlings now, but Trixie still has a beef with Adagio."
"Everyone she's ever picked on can claim to have a beef with Adagio, and that's most of the school, students and staff. Not havin' anything to add on somebody's private moments ain't enough to make a case."
"...But you know it still totally could be her?"
"Oh, yea, no doubt. We can't prove anything, but she's my first guess too."
Considering that Trixie hadn't so much as given her an odd look lately, Adagio didn't share their certainty. The silly girl hadn't even come by to smirk at her with blatantly false sympathy about her secret being exposed.
She wondered how, if the photographer's identity ever came to light, the rest of the school would react. Would the guilty party be the new untouchable around here, Adagio and her own group all but forgotten about now that they were clearly someone else's victim, or would whoever posted those pictures just be stuck joining the three of them at lunch? Or, she supposed it was possible that the verdict would be "It's just the sirens, so who cares?", and that would be that. Not that she had anything to gain but hollow catharsis in exacting retribution, but it would be very difficult to explain to Aria why they had to let such a thing slide, especially after lunch today.
"I can't believe you did that!"
"Is that why you're still smiling?"
Fluttershy blushed and turned her head away, but Adagio could still feel her bashful giddiness as the two sat next to one another to paint two separate canvases. Everyone was working in pairs today to create juxtaposed images, so she didn't worry any more than usual about what might be heard if they talked quietly while working on their two halves of a massive butterfly. Not that the volume adjustment was much change from the norm for Fluttershy.
"Wh-when you said, that there'd be a r-reward, I-I didn't think... In front of my friends! It was so embarrassing!" Pinkie came to her senses eventually, as though nothing had happened, so at least the only damage was to her dignity.
Adagio giggled. "That wasn't it, Sweetie."
"Now's a good time, actually. Today's picture was something I was going to do regardless, but when I said I'd reward you, I had something else in mind. Tell me; is there anything you'd like to see me doing in one of those pictures?" She gave Fluttershy a minute to take deep, slow breaths following the short, spastic meltdown after that question, not poking her about where her mind undoubtedly just went, but not losing her cat-like smirk, either. "I was thinking of a custom picture, one in which you tell me what you'd like to see; what you'd like me wearing in it, what kind of pose, even the lighting if you're feeling particular. There's no time limit on this offer, so take your time in thinking about it, alright?"
And think she did.
...Adagio. Offering. Anything we want.
I'm thinking bunny suits, maybe in front of a mirror so we can see the front and back at the same time!
Why do you get so much of our critical thinking skill?!
Because I know what we like, not what we're afraid of being judged for?
...We should ask for it to be sent over the phone, a data file is easier to store and copy than a physical photo.
I love you too.
Fluttershy didn't respond out loud to the offer, but the blissful look on her crimson face said Adagio had made the right call with this idea. It tickled her to see Fluttershy's excitement at the prospect, but there was still room for a little more... "Speaking of things to think about, did you ever reach a decision on that work-out offer? You should know that we've since discovered yoga pants and lycra."
She tittered with mischievous glee at the way Fluttershy locked up where she sat, lips set in a wide, wobbly smile as her cheeks continued to burn. This didn't help the poor thing detail her side of the butterfly much further, but enough was done that Adagio had little trouble syncing up the color scheme on hers to show a singular image when their two paintings were set right next to each other. It was shamefully cheesy, but she felt an odd glimmer of pride in the way the two sides of their massive butterfly kind of looked like a heart.
"So, uhm... I-if you're getting to sleep without as much trouble now, why do you still wear the eyeliner?"
Adagio sighed. "They haven't quite gone away yet, Sweetie, but I'll gladly stop wearing it when they do. I'm long overdue for trying something new in that department, so," she smirked, "maybe lipstick would look good?"
As much as she felt like she was walking into a trap, Fluttershy didn't see anything wrong with that statement, so she smiled. "I-I'm sure it would be lovely on you!"
"Of course," she chuckled, "I think we've established that tattered rags would look good on me (if you ever want proof, just let me know!), the question is whether or not it looks good on you."
Nod. "Your lips. Your cheek. Your neck... Your collarbone... Anywhere, really! Oh, don't worry," she purred to the shaking, sweating stoplight on the bench next to her, "if I pick the right shade of red, it'll hardly be noticeable!"
Giggling nervously, Fluttershy forced herself to confirm something important. "But, you are still sleeping well, right?"
The gleeful smirk fading to a calm, appreciative smile, Adagio nodded. "I'd forgotten what it was like to be well-rested all the time. I should be able to keep it up on my own if needed, but..." Her voice soft, even vulnerable, she asked with a pleading little frown. "You'll keep calling, right?"
Her heart melting, Fluttershy wrapped her arms around Adagio for a cuddly embrace. "For as long as you want me to." Being hugged back made her all warm and squishy, but squishy in a way that didn't diminish her confidence in the least. That made it easy to say the words she'd been wanting to say to a girl like Adagio for years.
"So, um... are you doing anything this weekend?"
Shaking her head, Rainbow couldn't help the little smile on her face. "Y'know," she said to the others at the table, "I was initially sorta worried there'd be all this friction and drama and shouting after those pictures went up, but I guess they're takin' it pretty easy."
Seated across from her, Fluttershy practically bobbed in her seat with happiness. It wasn't like she expected Adagio to refuse, but that did nothing to prevent the awareness that she had asked Adagio out on a date and been answered with 'yes' from flooding her very being with bliss. They decided on a Chinese buffet Adagio had never been to because the topic of fortune cookies had come up while they were discussing what they could do together. She could hardly wait!
Fluttershy's joy proved infectious, Sunset unable to stop grinning herself. "Not the first time Fluttershy has proven to be a lot tougher than most of us would've given her credit for."
"And not that that isn't lovely," Rarity said with a hint of urgency, looking down at her phone, "but we may have an update on that MyStable Stalker situation..."
"Thank you so much for coming, Roseluck!"
"Uh," she said with a hint of apprehension, "sure thing, Rarity. You guys wanted to talk about something?" Roseluck wasn't someone that got to talk to any of the Rainbooms all that much, so being invited to join them at Sugarcube Corner for a little while sounded like a hoot. They (well, Pinkie, natch) even gave her free cupcakes! That she would have to bust her hump to work off the calories later! Worth it!
There was a short silence as the Rainbooms collectively traded looks, as though wondering if any of the others were going to say it first. Applejack volunteered.
"Welp, might as well just ask," she said while bringing up a particular screen on her phone, "you were the one that posted this, right?"
The image was that of the comment section on Fluttershy's MyStable page, specifically of one that had included an image of Fluttershy's sketch of Adagio sleeping on the wall outside the Art room.
-Roseluck: Hey, remember this thing from a while back? She and Fluttershy share an Art class. I think we know who drew it now, huh? -7h 24min ago
Glancing over the replies for the second time, Roseluck no longer had any doubts about why these girls wanted to talk to her.
>-Pixel Pizzaz: Waitwaitwait, THAT came from FLUTTERSHY?! -7h 22min ago
>-Norman: Maybe that's how they hooked up; she drew, Adagio saw, figured out she had a secret admirer, and uh... nature took its course. -7h 19min ago
>-Paisley: Um, more importantly, does this mean YOU took those pictures, Roseluck? -7h 14min ago
_____>-Roseluck: What? No, I just noticed this! -7h 11min ago
>-Ringo: Girl knows her anatomy. -7h 2min ago
>-Lyra Heartstrings: You should hear the way Adagio calls her 'Sweetie'. It's the cutest thing! -6h 54min ago
_____>-Blueberry Cake: I think I heard Sonata call her 'Dr. Suess.' -6h 47min ago
__________>---Pinkie Pie: It's spelled 'Seuss,' you uncultured swine! -6h 42min ago
_______________>-Blueberry Cake: Oh, whatever. -6h 38min ago
_______________>-Ringo: Harsh! -6h 12min ago
____________________>-Pinkie Pie: I take my Seuss VERY seriously! Which is sorta ironic now that I think about it. -5h 47min ago
>-Ditzy Doo: Drawn with wuv! -6h 39min ago
>-Mystery Mint: Rose was the stalker all along?! -6h 32min ago
_____>-Roseluck: NO!! All I did was take a picture of THIS picture!! -6h 26min ago
__________>-Violet Blurr: Adagio is gonna kick. Your. Ass. -4h 37min ago
__________>-Sweet Leaf: And if she doesn't, the others will! -3h 58min ago
There were more like that, but the general consensus was that Roseluck was the prime suspect for those pictures from Monday morning, leading her to let out a beleaguered sigh as she looked at the Rainbooms through weary eyes. "That what this is about, huh?"
"We're just a little concerned," Sunset answered in sympathetic tones, "what with what's been going on lately, and we'd like to hear your side of the story." She spared a glance at Fluttershy, who, head down, just looked like she was worried that this was all her fault somehow.
Roseluck nodded. "Well, I didn't take those stalker-pics if that's what you mean." She shook her head in exasperation. "It's like, damn, I didn't know pointing something out like that put your head on the chopping block!"
"So," Rainbow asked with a raised eyebrow, "that's all it was? You didn't do it?"
"And no clue who did?"
"Well, everybody's got a guess, but I couldn't tell ya anything new." She was a little surprised when all Rainbow did was mutter 'dang' and take a long sip from... whatever she was drinking, but maybe the Rainbooms really didn't call her here to do a good-cop-bad-cop shtick.
Rarity gave her a sympathetic smile. "Well, thank you for coming anyway, Roseluck, and we're sorry to have gotten you involved in all this."
Roseluck shook her head, offering a little smile back. "Nah, it's cool, I'm the one that dripped blood in the shark tank. Not that anyone's really tried to take a bite of me, but geez!"
"I'm certain this'll all be cleared up soon enough." More certain when she pressed 'send' on the group text to her contacts. Innocent until proven guilty was the rule, and Rarity would not see the chaos of a few years ago in her gossip circles.
"Cool..." She scanned the other Rainbooms to find nothing but understanding smiles, no signs of accusation or contempt. While she probably wouldn't get that kind of grace from the Dazzlings if they got their hands on her, it was always nice to have someone to run to for help if you needed it. Speaking of which... "So, uh... I've been dyin' to know for weeks now; why haven't you guys absorbed the Dazzlings yet?" She got six confused stares. "I mean, like with-" she gestured to Sunset, "-her, you guys beat her down, took her in, and..." She guiltily scratched her head. "Yea, I guess it sorta took the rest of us a little too long to catch on, but, uh..."
Rainbow crossed her arms. "But what? Those three are behaving now too."
Roseluck raised an eyebrow. "Then why haven't you guys reached out to them or anything?"
Applejack blinked twice. "Yer waitin' on us?"
"Well, sorta? It's like, if they aren't so bad now, why are even you keeping away from them?" She winked at Fluttershy. "Well, mostly."
Eyes widening, Fluttershy turned red and covered her face, but they could all see her little smile.
"We give them space because they asked us to," said a worried Sunset. "Are you saying that everyone still keeps their distance from the sirens because we do, give or take?"
Rainbow shook her head incredulously. "And why should it matter? Does anyone really need our say-so for this stuff? Because even if you do, I think Fluttershy has pretty much proven they're harmless now." Give or take Sonata's occasional mishaps, but accidents weren't nearly on the same level as big, evil plans.
Building pressure clear on her face, Roseluck shrugged. "I don't know, this is just me, okay?" She tensed for a second when she felt a hand on her shoulder, but it was just Sunset giving her a friendly grin. Which was still a little bit weird when she thought back to the time with the flagpole.
"Sorry, we're not trying to grill you here, but there's really nothing about the sirens to be afraid of. I talked to them, and the reason they're at CHS at all is because they want to make friends. The ribbons and cute dresses, Adagio holding doors, they're trying to be nicer, trying to get along with everyone, and I'm sure they'd really appreciate anyone that gave them a chance."
Roseluck looked away. "I hear ya say it, but..."
"Nothin'," she said while standing up, "I should get goin', homework to do, but thanks for the cupcakes!"
Pinkie smiled and called after her to come back any time to try the special, but the others shared worried looks.
"So," Applejack started, "that whole 'human accessory' thing them three was frettin' about. Kinda sounds like they might'a been on the money."
Rainbow looked like she'd just missed a kick when there wasn't even a goalie. "Is that how it is now? They're pretty much screwed until we publicly befriend them, at which point they're sorta screwed anyway because they wouldn't know who was being sincere and who was just going with the flow if that happened?"
"That," Sunset said with a sigh, "might be the best we can hope for now."
Fluttershy heard Aria's voice in her head.
"They'll have to get used to us eventually, right? Besides, I think all of us would rather have few friends than fake friends."
"No," she said with quiet finality, "that isn't what we sang about in the cafeteria, or on that hill at the Battle, and it isn't what they hope to find here. It's taken a long time, but people are warming up to them on their own, just like we did. We just have to be patient." Seeing only proud, warm smiles, she smiled too. "Luckily, I can definitely say that Adagio has learned a lot about patience."
Only because no one else was close enough to hear it did Rarity say this in audible tones. "I can say the same of Sonata. She once waited in my room for three hours while I was busy with the drama club's costumes."
Rainbow chuckled, a little smirk on her face. "It's pretty neck-and-neck in most of our Versus games, but Rulebook always beats me in loading screen endurance."
The group collectively giggled. Maybe the rest of the school was generally waiting on the Rainbooms to befriend the sirens, but if it came down to a battle of attrition between fear/suspicion and the Magic of Friendship, there was no doubt in their minds which would win out in the end!